Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Russia is not going to get involved in a new arms race, President Vladimir Putin said as he ordered his government to work out “balanced and realistic” defense strategy for 2016 through 2025. “Someone really wants to unleash a new arms race,” Russia’s president said at a meeting with senior defense industry officials. “We, of course, are not going to be involved in this race.” Putin tasked the defense industry to work out a new military doctrine by December. His comments came a week after Russia said Sept. 2 it would review the doctrine, in response to NATO announcing its intentions to expand in Eastern Europe amid Ukrainian crisis. ‘Ukrainian crisis provoked by the West to resuscitate NATO’ Speaking about the situation in Ukraine, Putin blamed Western countries for the bloody conflict in the southeastern regions of the country. “Recently, as you know, NATO has decided to build up its forces in Eastern Europe. The crisis in Ukraine, which was, in fact, provoked and created by some of our Western partners, is now used for the resuscitation of this military bloc," he said. All the actions Russia is taking are retaliatory measures of self-defense, Putin said. “We have been repeatedly saying, warning that we will have to, exactly have to, take appropriate retaliatory measures to ensure our security,” Putin said. “We have said many times that it would be very desirable to avoid excessive hysterics when these decisions will be finally accepted and will be implemented. I want to emphasize that everything we do, is only retaliatory measures,” he added. At the end of August, NATO announced its plans to bring its forces closer to Russian borders, specifically to the three Baltic States – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – as the situation in Ukraine showed no signs of improvement. NATO’s expansion was the key topic of discussions at the alliance’s summit in Wales at the end of last week. Russia warned that NATO’s progress towards the east and Ukraine, which the military bloc sees as a potential member, will trigger a strong reaction. 'We will react to NATO build-up!' Key Putin quotes from defense policy address In July, Putin said that NATO’s military build-up near Russia’s borders, which includes the US-built missile defense system, is not just for defensive purposes, but is an “offensive weapon” and an “element of the US offensive system deployed outside the mainland.” Responding to NATO’s intentions last week, Russia’s envoy to the alliance, Aleksandr Grushko, indicated that this will be “taken into consideration” in Russia’s military planning.
Thirteen years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, this was supposed to be a season of relief, with Iraq managing on its own and most U.S. troops finally ending their combat duty in Afghanistan, writes David Crary of the Associated Press. Instead, Americans are bracing for another upsurge of military engagement in a region where one war blurs into another, he writes.Across the world, a generation has now grown up amid this continuous conflict, and there’s no end in sight. “The Cold War took 45 years,” said Elliott Abrams, a longtime diplomat who was top Middle East adviser to President George W. Bush. “It’s certainly plausible that this could be the same. … It’s harder to see how this ends.” For now, President Barack Obama seems to have bipartisan support as he prepares to outline his plans Wednesday for expanded operations against militants of the so-called Islamic State who have overrun large swaths of Iraq. His administration has cautioned that the effort could take several years. Short-term, Obama has public opinion with him; a new Washington Post-ABC News poll found 71 percent of Americans supporting airstrikes against the Islamic State fighters, compared to 45 percent in June. Longer-term, a Pew Research Center-USA Today poll last month suggested that most Americans view the world as becoming more dangerous and expect militant forms of Islam to grow in influence rather than subside. Since the autumn of 2001, America, with its allies, has been at war against factions of Islamic militants and terrorists, including the Taliban and al-Qaida, as well as offshoots in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. Indeed, some analysts say the conflict dates back further, citing such incidents as the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and the 1983 bombing that killed 241 U.S. servicemen at a barracks in Lebanon. Military historian Max Boot suggests the starting point was the Iranian revolution of 1979, when the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was seized and its staff held hostage for 444 days. “For the first time, we understood the threat by armed Islamist extremism,” said Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former adviser to Republican presidential campaigns. “We didn’t face up to it – we tried to ignore it as long as possible. But after 9/11, we couldn’t ignore it anymore.” The Sept. 11 attacks triggered the invasion of Afghanistan by the U.S. and its allies, starting in October 2001, with the aim of dismantling al-Qaida’s base of operations and toppling the Taliban regime. The Taliban, though quickly ousted from power, has been waging an insurgency ever since. In 2003, the U.S. spearheaded an invasion of Iraq, citing various justifications but nonetheless categorizing the conflict as part of “the Global War on Terrorism.” Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was captured, tried and executed, yet an insurgency arose against the U.S.-led coalition waged by various factions, including al-Qaida affiliates and Sunni militants who were precursors of the Islamic State group. Obama’s plans for an expanded mission against Islamic State fighters are expected to include intensified airstrikes but no major deployment of ground troops, along with a heavy reliance on allies. The role of Middle East nations could be pivotal, said Wathiq al-Hashimi, director of the al-Nahrein Center for Strategic Studies in Baghdad. “The United States failed in both Afghanistan and Iraq, but this time round may be different since the Islamic State is posing a serious danger to close U.S. allies in the region who cannot defend themselves on their own,” al-Hashimi said. “The United States will be going in this time with the blessing of regional powers.” Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, contends that much of the Middle East’s conflicts could have been avoided or eased if the U.S. government had been less willing to tolerate authoritarian regimes and more willing to criticize Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. Hooper said the Islamic State group’s ascension in Iraq could have been prevented if the U.S. had insisted on a nonsectarian Iraqi government, rather than the one led by recently replaced Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that favored Shiite Muslims over the Sunnis. Similarly, Hooper said the U.S. could have deprived Islamic State of its strongholds in Syria by intervening early in Syria’s civil war on behalf of moderate rebels opposing President Bashar Assad. “Our counterproductive policies have created a political vacuum in which ISIS can flourish,” said Hooper, using an acronym for the Islamic State group. “Without massive injustices in the region, they would not exist.” James Jay Carafano, a national security expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation, offered a contrasting analysis, blaming Obama for “taking his foot off the pedal” by withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 and thereby emboldening Islamic State fighters. Back in 2003, Carafano published a commentary titled, “The Long War Against Terrorism” in which he urged Americans to brace for a sustained struggle. “Such a war requires our leaders to understand that our staying power, our will to win, is as important as any weapon in our arsenal,” he wrote. However weary of war, the American public is willing to back aggressive, long-term engagements overseas, Carafano argued in a telephone interview this week. “All our conflicts start out popular, but only World War II stayed that way,” Carafano said. “People gradually get less excited over time. “But Americans are relatively practical people,” he added. “If you’re doing the right thing and it’s working, they’ll be with you.” Looking ahead, experts familiar with the Middle East say it’s hard to foresee a total victory for the U.S. and its allies any time soon. Elliott Abrams, for example, noted that many hundreds of young people from the West were eager to join the Islamic State group, enabling it to replenish its ranks and gird for a long struggle. “It’s clear that the Americans have made up their minds to get involved in what is likely to be an open-ended war,” said Hilal Khashan, professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. “The Americans know how to start a war, but not to end one.” “The Americans’ intervention is selective: They invaded Iraq but left Iran alone, they are leaving Israel to do as it pleases in Gaza, they are leaving the Syrian regime to kill its people,” Khashan added. “And whenever they intervene, they just make things worse. They may destroy the Islamic State, but what happens to the problems in Iraq and Syria?” Daniel Byman, research director at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy, said he prefers the term “manageable” over “winnable” as a goal in trying to counter threats from the region’s extremists and terrorists. “There’s no clear victory point when the enemy gives up,” Byman said. “There’s likely to be some level of terrorism, but it can’t be to the point where it disrupts our lives in some fundamental way.” Max Boot suggested the overall conflict was winnable – but only through a long-term struggle comparable to the Cold War. “This radical, armed Islamism will burn itself out,” he said. “The problem is an awful lot of people who will die between now and then.”
U.S. President Barack Obama will give a major nationally televised speech at 9 pm. ET Thursday to outline an expanded military and political effort to combat Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq, and urge Congress to quickly give him authority to arm moderate Syrian opposition forces fighting President Bashar al-Assad. But administration officials said Obama will press forward with other elements of his plan without formal authorization from lawmakers. That could include wide-ranging airstrikes in Iraq and possibly in Syria. Other elements of Obama’s plan, which he was to lay out in a televised speech Wednesday night, included increased support for Iraqi security forces, as well as military and diplomatic commitments from partners in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere. Such a speech is rare because presidents seldom ask broadcast networks to clear time when the most Americans are watching TV, doing so only to address the most critical issues.
PML (N) government will fall in days not in weeks if the PPP withdraw its support to the incumbent government, said Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo in a press conference here today.
Ms. Swaraj, on her first visit to Kabul as External Affairs Minister, held talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on various key issues.As Afghanistan prepares for a democratic transition of power, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Afghan President Hamid Karzai held wide-ranging talks on Wednesay on the political and security situation in the war—torn country and agreed to intensify cooperation in areas like security and defence. During the meeting, Ms. Swaraj expressed India’s strong commitment to continue extending its all possible help to Afghanistan to meet various challenges and conveyed that it will remain engaged in the country’s reconstruction activities in a significant way. Both the sides underlined the need for expanding trade ties. Ms. Swaraj, who is on her first visit to Kabul as External Affairs Minister, drove straight from the airport to the Presidential Palace where she held talks with Mr. Karzai on various key issues. Sources said the entire political situation was also discussed during the meeting. Ms. Swaraj said India will speed up various development projects in Afghanistan. As NATO forces prepare to withdraw from the country, Afghanistan wants India to help it in meeting security challenges. Afghanistan has been pressing India for supply of military hardware and weapons system to it. Sources said the Afghan side conveyed to India its security needs. Seeking to enhance strategic cooperation and help Afghanistan deal with key challenges of security and stability, Ms. Swaraj arrived here earlier in the day. Ms. Swaraj’s visit also assumes significance as it comes amid rising fears of the reemergence of the Taliban and other al—Qaeda linked elements in the country following withdrawal of NATO forces by end of the year. Afghanistan also awaits eagerly the result of the disputed second round of the Presidential election held on June 14. An audit of votes of the election has already been completed and results may be announced in the next few days. Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani were in a tight race in the polls and the winner will succeed incumbent President Hamid Karzai who has been in power for nearly 13 years. Afghanistan has been pressing India for supplying military hardware to strengthen its security set up in view of drawdown of NATO forces. Karzai has already given a “wish—list” to India.
The postponement of President Xi Jinping's visit to Islamabad, though unusual, may help China to improve its relations with both India and Pakistan as it de-linked Chinese leaders' visits to both the countries for the first time, Chinese analysts have said. The postponement is unusual however, it may not be a negative move, Hu Shisheng, a research fellow at the state-run China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations said. Previously, Chinese leaders would visit India and Pakistan in one trip, but those trips did not come off well, Hu said referring to the longstanding practice. "Diplomatic relations between the two countries, (India and Pakistan) have not yet been normalised, so that no matter which country is the first stop, the other one would question if we are balancing one using the closer relation with the other," Hu told state-run Global Times today. "So separate trips to India and Pakistan might actually improve the effect of the visits," Hu said about the cancellation of the trip by Xi to Pakistan due to political situation in Islamabad. This is perhaps for the first time a visit by a Chinese leader to all weather ally Pakistan has been cancelled. Instead Xi will be visiting Maldives, Sri Lanka and India next week during his first trip to the subcontinent. Hu said Xi's visit to India will set the foundation for the sound Sino-India relations for the next ten years. The leaders will set a foundation for the Sino-Indian relationship in the next five to 10 years during this visit based on the prospect of the two new leaderships, he said. Border dispute might not be the main topic as this requires more wisdom and patience from both sides, Chinese analysts said. Another article in the Global Times said Japan and India which sought to forge closer ties during the recent visit of Modi to Tokyo can hardly exclude China. Leaders of both Japan and India have spoken highly of the prospects of cooperation between the two countries. But judging from the current situation, such "sincere" cooperation is more like each of them taking what they demand, it said. "As China is a neighbour of both Japan and India, their bilateral ties cannot shield away from the China factor. Via this meeting, India seemed to form a united front with Japan to contain China. But will (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi be ready to align with Japan at the cost of displeasing China? Not necessarily," the tabloid, known for its nationalistic views, said. "Japan and India do have the possibility of strengthening cooperation in security. Nonetheless, it still remains doubtful whether New Delhi, which puts the economy first, will want to offend a China whose GDP has exceeded that of Japan," it said.
Foreign policy and the economy were clearly not priorities for Pakistani opposition leaders Imran Khan and Tahir ul-Qadri when they launched mass protests to try to force Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office. The heads of state of China, the Maldives and Sri Lanka have postponed visits due to the demonstrations that have caused political uncertainty, deaths and injuries and blocked roads in the capital. Business and investment deals that they were bringing would have gone a way to lifting the dismally low economic growth rate and lessen high levels of inflation and unemployment. It is as if the interests of the nation's people have been made secondary to those of the politicians whose job is to serve them. President Xi Jinping's trip in the middle of this month was especially important. China is Pakistan's closest ally and perceptions of ties are harmed by Xi first visiting arch-rival India. Deals valued at US$34 billion were to have been signed, increasing Chinese investment by more than 10-fold. Most of the planned projects were in the transport and energy sectors, the latter being of particular interest to the business community; power cuts in urban areas can last 10 hours a day, with electricity production at times falling short of demand by as much as 40 per cent. Hundreds of factories have been forced to close, affecting exports and further raising the jobless rate. The month-long political turmoil has tarnished an already damaged image. GDP growth has averaged just 2.9 per cent over the past five years, a level that is not adequately keeping pace with a population that now tops 186 million. High youth unemployment and poverty are fuelling recruitment to extremist groups that resort to violence to push agendas. The democratic process has been ignored by Khan and Qadri, leading to a political stand-off and speculation that the military will stage a coup - more than half of Pakistan's 67 years of existence have been under army rule.
At least 65 militants were killed today as Pakistani air force jets pounded Taliban hideouts in the restive North Waziristan tribal region, where the military is mounting a major offensive against the Taliban militants. The latest strikes targeted militants in the northwest of Datta Khel valley and a village of Shawal area, destroying five hideouts of rebels, military said in a statement. Thirty militants were killed in Shawal valley, it said. In separate air strikes in the morning, 35 terrorists were killed and three hideouts destroyed in Datta Khel. The death toll could not be verified through independent sources as the area is out of reach of free media. The military launched operation 'Zarb-e-Azb' in June to eliminate local and foreign militants from their bases in the North Waziristan, one of seven semi-autonomous tribal districts. Six militants, one soldier and a civilian staffer of army were killed in the area on Tuesday after a shootout between the security forces and the militants. So far more than 950 militants have been killed since the operation was started.
indiatimes.comDescribing the situation in Pakistan very serious, a top American senator today said the turmoil there has emphasized that the nuclear-armed country's powerful military plays a key role in its political affairs. Senator John McCain alleged Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) continues its support to the dreaded Haqqani militant network, blamed for several bloody attacks on Indian interests and US-led Nato coalition. The situation in Afghanistan would bear a significant impact on Pakistan, McCain said, warning of a repeat of Iraq if appropriate steps are not taken in Afghanistan. McCain said a strong India, in terms of both economy and military, can help address the challenges posed by these elements — particularly the military — in Pakistan. It would also help strengthen democracy in this south Asian country, he said, while addressing a Washington audience. In response to a question at the Carnegie Endowment for International peace, McCain said recent events have shown that there is a very serious situation in Pakistan. "A nuclear power makes the situation worse," he said. "Recent events in Pakistan have emphasized that military plays a more important role in Pakistan," he said. McCain said the "Kashmir situation could flare up at any time", and added that the issue could be solved only through negotiations. "The stronger India is economically and militarily, the better for India-Pak relationship," he said.
By Ashfaq Yusufzai
Residents, young and old, understand that education is vital in beating the Taliban, students say.Workers are rebuilding or have rebuilt many of the schools destroyed by Taliban militants in Swat District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. "Taliban militants damaged 122 schools in Swat [from 2007-2013] because of their misconception that modern education is not permitted in Islam," Provincial Disaster Management Authority Director-General Muhammad Tahir Orakzai said, adding that the provincial government has reconstructed 86 of the damaged schools. And workers are repairing the other schools so that children can continue their studies unhindered, he told Central Asia Online. "The co-operation of the local population is unprecedented because it wants to ensure the education of its sons and daughters," he said. Celebrating education's return to Swat To celebrate the achievement of so much rebuilding and to seek donors to help fund further work, officials held a week-long sports festival in Mingora that started August 20. "The Taliban damaged our school in 2010 [one year after the military operation ended Taliban control of Swat], forcing us to study under the open sky," Zeenat Bibi, a Government Girls' Primary School Mingora student, said. "Now, we have a new building." "We are extremely happy that education has taken the front seat," she said. The commitment to rebuilding the schools means that the Taliban's plans have backfired. "People suffered massively at the hands of the Taliban, who destroyed schools, hospitals and state-owned buildings in their bid to inflict losses, but their defeat has opened a new era of development," Swat Deputy Commissioner Mahmood Aslam Wazir said, adding that local residents are so enthusiastic they are volunteering to help the construction workers. Swat residents echoed Wazir's sentiments. "I have been rebuilding a school because I want my two sons to get an education," Sardar Ali, a local shopkeeper, said, adding that parents recognise the importance of education. Recovering from Taliban's illegitimate rule Many are enjoying their freedoms that they lost during Taliban misrule. In Swat, the Taliban abused locals while they were in charge until 2009, when a military operation put down the militant misrule, but the insurgents continued to commit acts of terrorism after they were ousted. The militants feared that educated people would reject them, so they plotted to destroy schools in recent years, Sajid Shah, an education officer, said. "About 300,000 students, mostly girls, weren't allowed to go to schools [in Swat] by the Taliban," he said. The Taliban targeted government-run schools attended by the poor, he added. "Once my kids were ashamed of studying in their schools, which had been destroyed by the Taliban, but now, they are happy to sit and study in a nice building," Jalal Khan, a health technician in Mingora, said. "We seldom saw anyone going to schools during the unrest, but now we are witnessing endless queues of boys and girls flocking their schools," he added. "Our new school building is very beautiful," Adnan Khan, the health worker's son, said. "We want to spend more time there and learn more lessons." One of the ironic benefits of the Taliban's terrorism is that the public now understands the importance of education, Adnan said, calling it "the only way to defeat the Taliban." http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/pakistan-articles/caii/features/pakistan/main/2014/09/08/feature-01
Gunmen have killed a member of the tribal police guarding a polio vaccination team in Pakistan's northwest in the latest attack on health workers trying to combat the disease. Officials said the attack took place on September 10 in Damadola area of Bajaur, a tribal area on the border with Afghanistan where polio is a serious problem. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the assault, but the Pakistani Taliban have attacked polio workers in the past, claiming the vaccination program is a cover for espionage. According to AFP news agency, about 58 people have been killed in militant attacks on polio vaccination teams in Pakistan since late 2012. Pakistan is one of only three countries, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, where polio is endemic. The country has recorded nearly 120 cases of polio so far this year.
shiapost.comA senior leader of the Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen said on Monday that 160 people belonging to the Shia sect had been killed in Karachi since the Rangers-led targeted operation was launched. Speaking at a press conference at the Pak Muharram Hall in Soldier Bazaar, MWM leader Allama Amin Shaheedi questioned the effectiveness of the Rangers-led targeted operation, which was launched in September 2013, and said that it had failed to curb the killings on sectarian grounds. “The 160 victims include three eminent scholars, five doctors, five engineers, three professors, five lawyers and 21 traders,” he said.
WHO organises meeting to apprise Pakistani security staff at airports about passengers arriving from West Africa where Ebola virus has caused devastation.According to details, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has arranged a meeting with Pakistani health workers and staff deployed at airports and shipping ports in order to brief them on how they can remain cautious in dealing with passengers arriving from West African countries where Ebola virus has wreak havoc leaving about 2,100 dead since February. Vice Chancellor of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) Prof Javed Akram said, “Ebola develops into a full blown disease in just a week and attacks the nervous system. The disease is endemic in West Africa.” - See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/who-to-educate-pakistani-health-workers-how-to-contain-ebola-virus-from-spreading/#sthash.0xYq6ZgH.dpuf
A new case of polio emerged in Balochistan’s capital on Wednesday where a 12-month-old baby was diagnosed with polio virus, Dr Ishaq Panezai of Balochistan’s health department said. The polio case was detected in Gul Muhammad in Eastern Bypass area of Quetta, making it year’s second case of this kind in the province. The first polio case in Balochistan was reported on July 24 this year in the Killa Abdullah district where the polio virus was found in an 18-month-old girl. A total of 123 polio cases have been detected across the country in 2014 so far. The volatile federally administered tribal areas (FATA) remains at the top with 89 cases, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 20, Sindh with 11, Balochistan with two polio cases and Punjab one.
Thirty-five suspected militants were killed when the fighter jets pounded the militants’ hideouts in Tehsil Dattakhel of North Waziristan tribal region. According to a statement issued by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), three terrorist hideouts were destroyed in precision strikes in the northwest of Dattakhel early on Wednesday while 35 terrorists were also killed.
One of the worst sufferers of the unending political crisis in Islamabad are hundreds of thousands internally displaced persons (IDPs) who left their homes and hearths in the wake of military operation against the Taliban insurgents. They remain ignored as government leaders, political parties and the media all have their attention focused on that one issue. The media, of course, spotlight happening events, and hence much of their time and energy has been going into reporting and commenting on the developments in the capital's high security Red Zone, the Prime Minister House and Parliament. But those directly concerned with the IDPs should have been at hand to do their duty towards them. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has been away from his province, where IDPs are camped in its Bannu district, for nearly three weeks now. He has been participating in his party's sit-in in Islamabad, appearing every evening on PTI's 'Azadi bus' during Imran Khan's daily evening speeches. Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch, the federal government's focal person for IDP affairs, is now a part of a team involved in negotiations with the PTI. The result is that no one in authority seems to be available for attending to the people who have made difficult sacrifices for the sake of peace and stability of this country. In fact, even before the present crisis, other matters had distracted governmental attention. The Frontier Regions' minister admitted failure, during a media talk, to mobilise public support for the IDPs. Nevertheless, underscoring the significance of the issue he warned of the military operation extending to other cities, including Karachi and the war against violent extremists to be long, and far-reaching in its implications. But actions have not matched the rhetoric, especially during the last several weeks. In fact, a few days ago, exasperated members of the Waziristan Affected People's Committee staged a protest demonstration in Bannu to draw attention to their plight. Problems for the IDPs in the meantime are mounting. Many of them camped in schools have been told by the KPK government to vacate them immediately as educational institutions are opening after a long summer vacation. The winter season is only a couple of months away. These people need to be provided adequate shelter, food, water, healthcare facilities and education for children not a favour but right. The federal government as in-charge of Fata affairs and KPK government as a host must fulfil their respective responsibilities towards the displaced persons and ensure their needs are taken care of as far as possible.
We have a man who says he stands to fight the rights of the poor. Someone who has constantly blamed the government for looking after only itself, and not the people it swore to protect. But Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s, Sheikh-ul-Islam’s promise of revolution has fallen short. And if BBC reports are to believed, this revolution is exploiting the people it was supposed to save. This should not come as much of a surprise to any thinking individual, however. Interviews conducted by the broadcasting channel reveal that students were paid as little as Rs. 2000 to join the march for a few days, and now are being threatened if they wish to leave. This is abhorrent, and distastefully hypocritical, but it is not surprising. Violent tendencies have been displayed time and again by PAT workers since their sit-in, and the attack on PTV was yet another reminder of how quickly things could get out of hand. Who were these hooligans? Were they truly the impassioned supporters of a spiritual cleric? Or were they paid attendees, exploited for their poverty, and there to make a bit of noise? No matter how many babies he kisses, Tahir-ul-Qadri will not be able to wipe the stain of this accusation with transparent PR campaigns. There are claims he sent out workers in Gujranwala to offer mothers extra money if they brought their young children to the “revolution march.” The aloofness of the PAT over this issue only makes it all seem more suspicious. And perhaps the greatest irony, in a final twist of poetic justice, is that the revelation has come from the Western media, to whom Qadri so desperately peddles his speeches (in english). If this report is indeed true, it hammers the final nail in the coffin of his bid to overthrow the system. Dr. Qadri knows that there’s no point in using his favourite tactic of maligning the accuser and blaming them of some baseless atrocity. He has already expressed his admiration for all things British and professed his loyalty to the Queen only last year, at his hearing in the apex court. The protests have thankfully moved to the background of national discourse, since the damage caused by the floods is exceeding all estimates. It is rather tragic that our faculties have so dulled, it takes a natural disaster to shock the nation into realising the real problems we face. Nonetheless, those being held against their will must be let go, and an investigation must be carried out to separate the lies from this preacher’s claims, so those who wilfully support him can, at the very least, know the truth behind the man they so blindly follow.
If PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar is to be believed, then the current protest outside parliament is not a genuine protest movement, but is indicative of “a deeper malaise involving the distorted relationship” between the civilian government and the ‘establishment’. In Senator Babar’s view, expressed in a speech to the joint session of parliament on Monday, the protests are not being held at the behest of the public or even Imran Khan. He suggests that in fact a script is being played out to force the elected government’s hand in certain policy areas, or perhaps to weaken the government and allow the military to pull strings behind the scenes. This theory has gained traction both in the parliament and in the media, particularly following the revelations of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) President Javed Hashmi, who rocked his party’s boat and shocked members of the parliament when he said that he had warned Imran Khan he was being manipulated and that Imran decided to join Tahirul Qadri’s march on parliament against the majority consensus in his party. Javed Hashmi alleged that a script written in Rawalpindi was being played out that he could not participate in. If true, Senator Babar suggested, the solution he proposed was to engage in “serious and meaningful dialogue with military leaders about simmering issues”. Both these veteran parliamentarians have strong memories of the 1990s when civilian governments were routinely dismissed or ousted through behind the scenes manipulation by the ‘establishment’, by which they usually mean the military and its associated bureaucratic support structure. It was the realisation of this that led to the 2006 Charter of Democracy (CoD), which among other things said that security and espionage agencies should be brought under the control of the civilian government. Senator Babar raised this point when he said that implementing Articles 32 to 36 of the COD was necessary, the relevant articles dealing primarily with correcting the civilian-military imbalance in policy making. That such an imbalance exists is not truly under debate, as shown by Pakistan’s history. However, if the military did attempt to destabilise the government by using legitimate political agitation as a tool, then his proposal, while well intentioned, is also destined to go nowhere because so far the military has shown no sign that it is interested in such a dialogue, even if it believes one is necessary. There are in fact a lot of ‘ifs’ around what Senator Babar suggested and they point more to a desire to end the current protest than to redress the civil-military balance of power, such as when he asked the ‘script writers’ to “wrap up this circus”. Based on his thinking, the idea is why argue with front men when it is better to directly negotiate with the people allegedly behind everything. This could be taken as part of his assertion that the political leadership has “come of age” while the ‘establishment’ has realised that ousting civilian governments as it chooses is no longer possible. The question is, are these assertions true? Based on his logic, the military is powerful enough that it can ignore such outreach and not worry about the consequences. As far as it is concerned, then, it is only in the civilian government’s interest to engage in this kind of dialogue, and it does not have a great deal of trust in elected politicians based on their perceived corruption and ineptitude. However, Senator Babar’s suggestions, utopian as they might seem, are more credible than some may realise if the narrative of events he suggests is true. In the twenty first century, states dominated by military policy have become increasingly unsustainable. The shift globally is towards more open and accountable government, with non-compliant countries forced into pariah status and economic degradation. Increasingly countries are bound by international agreements and multilateral conventions that limit the powers of the state with regard to the citizenry. Even countries powerful enough to ignore conventions risk de-legitimising themselves at home. Senator Babar then should be complimented for his good idea, but whether it is based in reality remains to be seen.
The attack on the Pakistan Naval Station (PNS) Dockyard this weekend is another alarming reminder for the country, the law enforcement agencies and above all for the government that we are at war with terrorists, who will hang around our necks until they are gotten completely rid of. Navy personnel disclosed this news to the media late on Monday. The delay in the disclosure can be explained by the fact that they did not want to give details of an investigation in progress. It is the second attack on a military facility in the last month, the fourth in this year, and umpteenth in this decade. Though all the details have not been shared with the public yet this much is clear, that navy security officials managed to foil the attack, which was apparently aimed at a ship carrying ammunition. They claimed they had captured four attackers alive, while killing two others. During the fight a petty officer was also killed by the terrorists. One of the attackers, it turns out, had previously served in the navy and left only four months ago. The navy says that after the initial interrogations some arrests have been made in different cities including Swabi and Mansehra, where the officials claim to have seized weapons from those taken into custody. The nature of the attack, led by just a few heavily armed militants, indicates that it was aimed at inflicting maximum damage. This, as it should be clear by now, is nothing but an inexorable repercussion that many experts have been expecting since the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb. That begs the question of whether our armed forces have taken the potential blowback into account and that only clearing North Waziristan of terrorists does not mean the end of the operation. The major threat — and this country’s greatest vulnerability — lies outside the tribal areas, in the cities where terrorists are undoubtedly hiding in sleeper cells and probably waiting for the right moment to strike. By now it is crystal clear that they are present everywhere in the country: the recent encounter in Raiwind and the attack on the Quetta air base testifies to this fact. In spite of the eventual triumph of our security forces in foiling this attack and the ones carried out earlier, one expects more timely and pre-emptive measures from the security agencies in fending off these attacks. Though the army is continuously beating the drums of victory, it is not clear how much their efforts have been fruitful in breaking the urban networks of these terrorist organisations that are spread across the country.
Much secrecy shrouds the foiled militant attack targeting the navy’s dockyard in Karachi.Though the attack occurred on Saturday, the maritime force released only sketchy details about the incident on Monday. But while there was no official word on who the ‘miscreants’ — as the navy described the assailants — were, the banned TTP’s spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, said on Tuesday that his outfit was responsible for the assault with “support from inside” the navy. At the other end, security officials say that Al Qaeda carried out the attack — again with help from within the naval force. Regardless of which militant group targeted the naval facility, if claims of insider help are correct, it would reinforce the view that weeding out militant sympathisers within the armed forces is as daunting a task as eliminating battle-hardened terrorist groups. Unfortunately, there are a number of cases where those with links to the armed forces have been involved in attacks targeting the military. For example, former army medic ‘Dr’ Usman was said to be one of the main planners in the 2009 militant assault on GHQ. Also, dreaded militant Adnan Rasheed, known for various terrorist exploits, including a failed attempt on Pervez Musharraf’s life, was a former air force man before he turned his guns on the state. Even in the navy’s case it was reported that information from within the service was provided to those involved in the 2011 Mehran base raid. So concerns of insider links are valid, as such attacks bear out. With the army conducting a counterterrorism operation in North Waziristan, the military is especially in the cross hairs of militants of all stripes. Yet, there has been little focus on de-radicalisation efforts within the services. The increased use of religious language and symbolism in the forces began during the Zia era; however, today the problem has morphed into something far more complicated — and dangerous. The foremost challenge is to conduct a thorough internal audit of the armed forces to identify any personnel with links to terrorist groups. If such connections are established, firm disciplinary action is required. The second — and admittedly more challenging — step is to initiate a long-term de-radicalisation process within the forces. While the military’s top brass — including the serving army chief — has spoken about the threat posed by extremism in general terms, very little has come out, at least publicly, about extremist sympathies or trends within the ranks. The forces will need to candidly assess the situation and understand where the problem lies and thereafter initiate a process to counter the extremist narrative. This will not be easy as for decades both society and the forces have been influenced by ultra-conservative trends. But unless remedial steps are taken soon, the presence of extremist sympathisers within the military will only increase, creating a complex new security crisis for Pakistan.
Contrary to his call for ‘civil disobedience’, the government has claimed that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has himself paid his two electricity bills for August. “Khan Sahib has paid his two electricity bills,” said Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Mohammad Asif at a news conference he had called to respond to Imran Khan’s remarks about $34 billion Chinese investment on Tuesday. The minister claimed that the PTI chief’s two electricity bills of Rs17,000 and Rs13,000 had been paid. Imran Khan gave a call for civil disobedience on Aug 18 and asked people not to pay taxes and utility bills to force the government accept PTI’s demands. When a journalist pointed out that Imran Khan had not paid an electricity bill of Rs44,000, the minister said this might be an illegal connection. He said he would investigate the matter and if it is found to be an illegal connection or that its bill has not been paid the power supply would be disconnected. The minister said no one would be supplied electricity without payment and supply to defaulters would be disconnected. He said the government had been able to bring down circular debt from Rs295 billion to Rs238 billion and had made an additional collection of Rs5 billion during the month of August.
Read More: http://www.dawn.com/news/1130991/civil-disobedience-imran-has-paid-his-electricity-bills-claims-minister
The stakes are enormous for Scotland, and quite high for the rest of Britain. But the debate over Scottish independence also sheds important light on how debates over the nature of the state that are as old as Hobbes and Locke apply in a modern world of instant communication and cryptocurrency. Scottish independence supporters applauded as Ruth Cheadle of California supported their side while waiting to marry in Edinburgh on Tuesday.The Push to Keep Scotland in the Fold SEPT. 9, 2014 A recent poll said Scots supported independence from Britain by 51 to 49. The referendum will be Sept. 18.Efficiency of Markets: Betting Markets Not Budging Over Poll on Scottish IndependenceSEPT. 8, 2014 The latest polling on the referendum, to be held Sept. 18, points to a narrow edge for Scots who wish to pull out of the state that they have been part of since 1707 and go it as a nation of their own. Previous polls, by contrast, had given the edge to those who wish for Scotland to remain part of Britain. Both betting markets and forecasting groups are now putting the odds that Scotland will pull away and form its own state at something like 30 percent. What’s all the more remarkable about this possible secession is that major, specific grievances over public policy between Scotland and the rest of Britain are hard to identify. This isn’t like the Southern chunk of the United States seceding in 1860 because it was committed to slavery and the North was against it. Sure, the pro-independence leaders make some promises about improving social welfare benefits like improved public child care for young children. But that doesn’t square particularly well with the fact that Scotland has been a net drain on the rest of British taxpayers for the last generation; it has received greater benefits than it has paid in taxes. And whatever long-term arrangements are reached over thorny issues like oil rights, divvying up public debt and currency arrangements between the Independent Scotland and the “rump U.K.,” as British commentators have been calling the possible post-secession nation, there is sure to be a heavy transition cost and damage to commerce in the near term. Many Scots feel as if they have more to gain from governing alongside people who look like them and talk like them than they have to lose from no longer being part of a bigger, more powerful nation. A video posted by the pro-independence campaign captures a bit of this. Amid soft-focus images of beautiful Scottish landscapes and charming-looking Scots going about their day, a woman holding flowers says: “Independence. It’s what we all want in our lives. So why shouldn’t our country be independent too?” One could point out that Britain as it exists today is the very model of a liberal democracy, that Scots are amply represented in Parliament, and that they have a great deal of control over day-to-day governance within their borders. The government has offered to expand those rights of local control over taxes and public administration if Scotland sticks with Britain. But it may not be enough. That’s where these bigger questions of what makes a modern state come into play. Continue reading the main story If you start with Thomas Hobbes’s philosophy enunciated in “Leviathan” that governments exist to bring order to the chaotic state of nature that would prevail in their absence — “the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” — then the size of the state is ultimately a practical question. By definition, to have a government at all is to relinquish some of the freedom we might have as individuals to some larger purpose, in hopes that with rule of law we will have a peaceful, more prosperous society. Give up some autonomy, but gain wealth and longevity. Not a bad trade. But it’s a lot easier to give up that autonomy when you are giving it to people who look like you and talk like you. And yet, it’s hard for a democratic institution to channel the collective wishes of hundreds of millions of people into one coherent set of policies without making any subset of those people so angry they want to scrap the whole thing. The idea of government started small, with essentially extended families, then villages ruled by a local strongman. But over time, the overwhelming trajectory of history is toward larger and larger government entities. In the 18th century, it was the creation of what is now the United Kingdom out of England, Scotland and Wales (and, presently, Northern Ireland). In the 19th century, it was the expansion of the United States to span a continent and the centralization of smaller states into what are now the nations of Germany and Italy. In the 20th century, it was the creation of the European Union, in which people from Finland to Portugal share a common market and common currency. There are examples that cut the other way, like the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, but those are examples of countries held together by authoritarian force proving unable to hold together when that force weakens. Among democracies, the march has been toward greater scale and reach, at the cost of less distinct national identity. There have been flare-ups of resentment in these large democracies, from the Québécois of Canada to anti-E.U. parties in France to modern-day secessionists in the United States. But none have come as close to getting their wish as the Scots will in just over a week. The economic and geopolitical advantages of being a larger country offer some advantages that a small country cannot match. It’s no accident that the United States is the richest country in the world, creator of some of the most meaningful technological advances of the last century; it is not for nothing that Europeans who speak different languages and have different cultures have tried to emulate it with the E.U. In big countries, businesses can get all the benefits of scale, selling within giant markets that all use the same currency with the same legal system. In geopolitics, large countries can strike hard bargains to get access to one another’s markets, while trouncing smaller rivals at the negotiating table. And big countries tend to be more resilient to shocks. Imagine how much economic trouble the Republic of Louisiana would have been in after Hurricane Katrina or the Independent Nation of New York City after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. If Scotland chooses to go independent, it will shed the advantages that come from being part of a relatively large global power (Britain’s population: about 64 million. Scotland’s population: about 5 million) for the chance to be governed by people with whom they share a deeper cultural affinity. Paradoxically, pro-independence Scots have argued that they will recapture some of the advantages of size by joining the European Union. It seems slightly bonkers for Scots to get so frustrated about ceding power to bureaucrats in London and turn immediately to bureaucrats in Brussels, but there it is. They may find challenges. Scots may want to be able to sell Lagavulin 16 Scotch in Germany without tariffs, or take a vacation to Italy without having to go through passport control. But as a small country they will have less negotiating leverage in sorting out the terms of E.U. membership than Britain had. The Scottish referendum isn’t just about whether a few million Scots will govern themselves. It is a fight over the world of multicultural modernity that makes today’s global economy possible, but also leaves many people with a deep hunger for the sense of national identity it obliterates.