Thursday, September 25, 2014
No one is better equipped for this task. Cockburn, one of our greatest war correspondents, has charted the Iraqi insurrection and the Syrian civil war. His book makes compelling reading. He traces the roots of the Islamic State to the Western invasion of Iraq 11 years ago, when Saddam’s army was disbanded by its American conquerors. With nowhere else to go, some joined forces with al-Qaeda in a brutal rebellion against what they saw as a foreign occupation. AQI (al-Qaeda in Iraq) was defeated by General Petraeus’s “surge” of 2008, but this partial victory was not consolidated. When the Americans left Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki led a Shia administration that made no serious attempt to bring the Sunnis into government. The marginalisation of the Sunni tribes might have had limited consequences but for the Syrian insurrection, which started in the summer of 2011. This insurgency was backed by the West, but militants soon took over the fighting, controlling tracts of eastern Syria and western Iraq. National borders were effectively abolished. In this powerful book, Cockburn shows how a series of errors by the United States and its Western allies created the conditions for the rise of Isil. First, the 2003 invasion of Iraq left behind a disenfranchised and embittered Sunni minority. Second, Western sponsorship of the Syrian insurrection created the perfect playground for Baghdadi’s bloodthirsty warriors. Cockburn shows that Western intelligence agencies were heavily involved at every level. However they appear to have been clueless about what was really happening. They failed to understand how al-Qaeda mutated post-9/11. The killing of Bin Laden in early 2011 was hailed as a tremendous victory, when in fact it only marked the emergence of a more deadly threat. Western intelligence agencies culpably underestimated the resilience of Assad’s regime, repeatedly predicting that he would fall. The Free Syrian Army, the West’s favoured vehicle, for which President Obama has just approved more funding, proved to be nothing more than a chimera. The West has also chosen its allies badly. The two countries most closely involved in the attack on the Twin Towers were Saudi Arabia, which provided most of the hijackers, and Pakistan, sponsor of the Taliban. President Bush refused to take meaningful action against either state. Cockburn shows that Saudi financing played a large role in the creation of Isil. Only now, far too late, have the Saudis woken up to the monster they created. It was not until February that King Abdullah tried to stop Saudi citizens from travelling to fight in Syria. Over time the most important target of Isil will turn out to be Saudi Arabia itself. This short book does not suggest any solutions. Perhaps there aren’t any. Western interventions in the past few years – such as Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2010 – have been disastrous. But it is indispensable for anybody wishing to understand a terrifying new phenomenon which is already showing signs of inspiring emulators from North Africa to Pakistan.
The rise of violent extremism around the world is the fault of “certain states” and “intelligence agencies” that have helped to create it and are failing to withstand it, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in an address to the UN General Assembly. Speaking at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Rouhani stressed that extremism is not a regional but a global issue, and called on states worldwide to unite against the extremists. “Certain states have helped to create it, and are now failing to withstand it. Currently our peoples are paying the price," he said. "Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hand of the madmen, who now spare no one.” Rouhani also said the current anti-Western sentiment in certain parts of the world was "the offspring ofyesterday's colonialism. Today's anti-Westernism is a reaction to yesterday's racism.” The Iranian president urged “all those who have played a role in founding and supporting these terror groups” to acknowledge their mistake. Rouhani also blamed “strategic blunders of the West in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucasus” for inciting violence in these regions and creating a “haven for terrorists and extremists.” "Military aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq and improper interference in the developments in Syria are clear examples of this erroneous strategic approach in the Middle East." Warning that “if the right approach is not undertaken in dealing with the issue at hand” the Middle East risks turning into “a turbulent and tumultuous region with repercussions for the whole world.” "The rightsolution to this quandary comes from within the region and regionally provided solution with international support and not from the outside the region," he said. Speaking of Iran’s nuclear program, Rouhani vowed that Tehran would continue negotiations to cement the deal with Western states. “No one should doubt that compromise and agreement on this issue is in the best interest of everyone, especially that of the nations of the region,” he said. “According to all international observers, the Islamic Republic of Iran has carried out its commitments in good faith.” Rouhani, who was elected in Iran’s presidential election last year despite being opposed by many in the country’s senior clergy, said that democracy cannot be exported to another country as it is a product of development, “not war and aggression.” “Democracy is not an export product that can be commercially imported from the West to the East. In an underdeveloped society, imported democracy leads only to a weak and vulnerable government,” he told the assembly.
http://www.nbcnews.com/Saying that serving in the job has been “the greatest honor of my professional life,” Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation Thursday at the White House. Appearing with President Barack Obama, Holder – who has served in the post for six years – said that “work remains to be done, but our list of accomplishments is real.” Obama called Holder’s departure “bittersweet” and praised the former prosecutor’s role as "America’s lawyer – the people’s lawyer.” “Thanks to his efforts, since I took office, the overall crime rate and the overall incarceration rate have gone down,” Obama said. Aides told NBC News earlier Thursday that Obama has not yet decided on a successor but that Holder will stay on the job until his replacement is confirmed. Holder informed the president "very recently" of his decision to step down, officials said. Holder, the first African American to hold the job of attorney general, is among just a handful of cabinet officials who have stayed in their posts since the beginning of Obama's presidency. After his departure, just two - the Department of Agriculture's Tom Vilsack and the Department of Education's Arne Duncan - will remain from Obama's original cabinet. Holder became a lightning rod for criticism from congressional Republicans, who have pushed for his dismissal over the Fast and Furious gun operation, the IRS targeting scandal, and other high-profile controversies. In 2012, he became the first sitting Cabinet official to be held in contempt of Congress.
AFPA Pakistani explorer expected to become her country's first person in space congratulated India on Thursday on reaching Mars on its maiden attempt. India won the Asian space race to the Red Planet on Wednesday when its unmanned Mangalyaan successfully entered the Red Planet's orbit after a 10-month journey on a budget of just $74 million. Despite having a space agency since 1961, Pakistan has not yet launched a satellite into orbit. But Namira Salim, the first Pakistani explorer to reach both poles said India's achievement had made the region proud. "The success of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), Mangalyaan, is a giant leap for South Asia," said Salim, who has booked a ticket on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space project planned for 2015. "I commend the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and all its scientists and researchers for not only achieving this astronomical feat, but also for achieving it in the most cost-effective manner." India's spacecraft has beamed back its first photos of Mars, showing its crater-marked surface, as the country glowed with pride Thursday after winning Asia's race to the Red Planet. The ISRO uploaded one of the photos onto its Facebook page, showing an orange surface and dark holes, taken from a height of 7.3 kilometers. ISRO also posted the photo on Twitter, with the caption "The view is nice up here." A senior ISRO official told AFP several photos have been successfully received, while a spokesman for the government agency said the spacecraft was working well. India became the first Asian country to reach Mars on Wednesday when its unmanned Mangalyaan spacecraft entered the orbit after a 10-month journey on a shoestring budget. The mission, which is designed to search for evidence of life on the planet, is a huge source of national pride for India as it competes with Asian rivals for success in space. India beat rival neighbor China, whose first attempt flopped in 2011 despite the Asian superpower pouring billions of dollars into its program. At just $74 million, India's mission cost is less than the estimated $100 million budget of the sci-fi blockbuster "Gravity". It also represents just a fraction of the cost of NASA's $671 million MAVEN spacecraft, which successfully began orbiting the fourth planet from the sun on Sunday. India now joins an elite club of the United States, Russia and Europe who can boast of reaching Mars. More than half of all missions to the planet have ended in failure. The mission's success received front-page coverage in Indian newspapers on Thursday, with the Hindustan Times declaring "MARTIAN RACE WON" and the Times of India saying "India enters super exclusive Mars club." Indians, from government ministers to office workers and cricketers poured onto Twitter to show their national pride, while school students celebrated by eating traditional Indian sweets.
http://dunyanews.tv/At least three persons were killed and several others including the Senior Superintendant of Police (SSP) Farooq Awan were injured as a result of loud explosion that rocked Karachi’s Defense area on Thursday evening, Dunya News reported. According to the eye witnesses, the nature of the explosion was akin to that of suicide explosions.
A loud explosion has been heard in Karachi’s Gizri and Defence Housing Authority (DHA) areas on Thursday night, DawnNews reported. Initial reports suggest that the blast took place near Gate 5 of Gizri Graveyard and was so loud it was heard from far distances. A large plume of smoke was visible in Phase 4 of DHA. Police and rescue teams have been dispatched to the site. SSP South Farooq Awan’s vehicle was an apparent target of the attack, according to some sources.
shiapost.comMajlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen has announced a countrywide protest will be lodged against the takfiri terrorists of banned outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASWJ) who attacked Tyraan Wali Imam Bargah in Rawalpindi where they burnt the custodian alive and set Holy Quran and Alam Pak on fire. “The takfiri terrorists were posing they were protesting against the killing of one of their leader hence they and their affiliation is known to all hence Shia Muslims ask the government to Punjab government to clarify its position why she did not take action against them,” asked Mohammad Mehdi Shah Abedi, secretary information of the MWM in a statement issued from Wahdat House. He said that Punjab government and police knew well that takfiri terrorists kill each other like they did to Shams Ur Rehman Muavia in Lahore. He said that takfiri terrorists killed their leaders to implicate Shia leaders in false cases as they did in the case of Shams ur Rehman Muavia. “Now, they have lodged a false case against Allama Amin Shaheedi, deputy secretary general of the MWM, but we know Punjab government sides with the terrorists and want to punish the MWM leadership for their support to Inqilab March of Dr Tahir ul Qadri,” MWM official noted. He said that supporters of MWM would observe Friday as a day of protest against the blasphemous attack on sacred Imam Bargah, murder of custodian, violation of sanctity of Shia Islam and false case against Allama Shaheedi.
An Ahmadiyya mosque came under attack from a stone-pelting mob in Okara city in the Punjab province of Pakistan, on Wednesday, it has been reported The Islamist mob descended on the location around mid-day when clerics incited a dispute over a mosque-owned property for control of an adjoining room. Hundreds of attackers pelted rocks and bricks at the Ahmadiyya buildings while local police watched the crowed get aggressive. Police eventually moved to appease the attackers by limiting Ahmadiyya proprietorship access to the properties. The news, it has been reported, reached high corridors of the Punjab government and the influential clerics were successful in having a senior police officer removed who was attempting to defuse the situation. The Ahmadiyya spokesperson in Pakistan, Mr Saleemud Din has reported in the social media that the situation was 'calm' by the late evening hours but cautioned that danger persisted due to the increasing demands and threats by the clerics to return for protests the following day. http://ahmadiyyatimes.blogspot.com/2014/09/pakistan-ahmadiyya-mosque-attacked-in.html
By GM JamaliPakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has started his public campaign at last. He visited Sukkur, Chiniot and Multan last week and met people in the flood-hit areas, discussed the problems they are facing and distributed relief goods among them.
What is there left to say when one hears of yet another murderous attack against a member of the persecuted Ahmedi community? That their relentless suffering is being perpetrated in a country they call home has become so commonplace by now, we hardly even call it tragic. The latest victim was Dr Mubashar Ahmad Khosa of Mirpurkhas in Sindh, who was shot dead by two unknown assailants on Monday. He was at his private clinic when the killers gunned him down as though he was less than human. Dr Khosa was a very respected member of his community, known as a man who helped people, tended to patients with utmost love and care, and was not caught in any controversy at all. His only crime? He was an Ahmedi and, in today’s Pakistan, that is enough to get you killed. A sinister pattern is emerging when it comes to targeting the Ahmedi community. Those shining stars who are contributing to society, providing relief and care to people irrespective of their sect or faith, are the ones being killed off systematically, one by one. In May this year, Dr Mehdi Ali, a prominent cardiac surgeon, who regularly travelled from the US to Rabwah in Punjab to set up a hospital there and provide state-of-the-art care in the medical field for people, was shot dead. His death hit people in Pakistan hard. This is a double tragedy; not only are such murders being allowed to continue unpunished, it is taking away people who can actually contribute towards uplifting the country. What better way to get this genocide on its feet than to deprive the country of those most needed? What an irony. Pakistan was created for the Muslim minority in India so that they could realise their full potential and live without fear of persecution and strife. However, we are now the tyrant society. We have virtually disenfranchised the Ahmedis and are now eliminating them through cold-blooded murder. This is a lot like what the Israelis, who were once persecuted by the Nazis, are doing to the Palestinians. Are we proud of this kind of home grown apartheid? This not just a sectarian crime, it is a crime against humanity and must be seen by the authorities as such. In July this year, we saw an angry mob scorch Ahmedi homes in a residential colony in Gujranwala because of rumours of alleged blasphemy. This is no joke. We need to ensure that the Ahmedis, our citizens, are made to feel secure in a country they call home.
IN the fight against militancy, a military operation in North Waziristan Agency was always considered a necessary step and blowback in Pakistan proper a likely price that would have to be paid. Now, with the military’s Operation Zarb-i-Azb well into its fourth month, the blowback that did not immediately materialise appears to have finally arrived, and possibly may rapidly escalate. The suicide attack on a senior commander of the Frontier Corps in Peshawar on Tuesday has indicated just how potent the Taliban threat still remains: from target selection to reconnaissance to pairing suicide bomber with munitions, the TTP still has all the elements necessary to cause much damage. It is possible to point to the escape of the senior FC commander as a sign that the TTP threat is waning, but in the world of terrorism an essential truth is that the militants only need to succeed once in many attempts to land a massive psychological blow. Yet, to definitively succeed against terrorism and militancy, the state will need a wide-ranging strategy involving many arms of the state, not just the armed forces. The weakness of the present strategy was underlined yet again on Tuesday as the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee vowed to eradicate terrorism in the country and to work tirelessly to develop and execute an effective strategy against terrorism. That sentiment may be noble, but to what extent does it reflect reality? The military can operate in Fata, where it is waging a counter-insurgency with nearly 200,000 troops, and it can operate under the protection of Article 245 in the cities, doing selective counterterrorism operations. But does the fight against militancy need a military-led strategy or a civilian-led one? No military strategy can tackle the roots of the problem of militancy nor can any militancy strategy change the social dynamics that make violent ideologies so appealing to sections of the public. Moreover, with some doubts about whether the long-standing policy of the security establishment of differentiating between good and bad militants has truly been abandoned, is the state really poised to effectively fight militancy? Unhappily, while the focus is on military-led approaches, the civilian set-up remains ill-equipped to even understand the dimensions of the militancy problem. The previous PPP-led government was clear in its language, but more than just ambiguous in its actions. Now, the PML-N is often accused of tolerating or even collaborating with militant elements to keep the peace in Punjab — a misguided notion of peace given that it has only allowed the infrastructure of jihad (the mosque, madressah and social welfare networks) to grow without any oversight or control. Surely, where brave soldiers fight on the front lines in the war against militancy, their courage and sacrifices should be recognised and applauded. But the fight against militancy will not be won with guns alone.
A policeman shot two men in jail on Thursday, killing one accused of blasphemy and wounding another condemned to death on the same charge, lawyers and an activist said.Christian pastor Zafar Bhatti was killed and 70-year-old Briton Muhammad Asghar, who has a history of mental illness, was wounded in the attack in Rawalpindi. Bhatti, who worked to protect the human rights of the country's beleaguered Christian minority, was on trial after he was accused in 2012 of sending blasphemous text messages. His family say police investigations show the phone was registered to someone else. In recent weeks, Bhatti had received death threats in prison from both inmates and guards, his family told Pakistan-based human rights group Life for All. He was being held in the same cell as Asghar. “This is a barbaric act. There had been threats. The court should have instructed police to ensure Bhatti's safety,” said Xavier Williams of Life for All. “Killing of a person who was falsely accused is mockery of the judicial system. The protectors of the innocent have become the predators.” Asghar, from Edinburgh, was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to death in January after a disgruntled tenant presented letters he had written saying he was a prophet . Asghar had previously been detained under the mental health act in Britain and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, according to documents his lawyers supplied to Reuters. His lawyers were barred from attending the last few months of his trial. The law firm asked not to be identified for fear of being targeted by extremists. Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan. This year has seen a record number of blasphemy accusations, according to an Islamabad-based think-tank, the Center for Research and Security Studies. Many analysts say the claims are increasingly used to settle scores or grab property. Blasphemy charges are hard to fight because the law does not define what is blasphemous. Presenting the evidence can sometimes itself be considered a fresh infringement. Those accused of blasphemy are often lynched and lawyers in defending those accused of blasphemy cases have frequently been attacked. Judges have been attacked for dismissing cases and many of the accused face years in jail as their trials drag on. At least 48 people accused of blasphemy have been extrajudicially killed, including seven in prison or outside court, according to Life for All. Earlier this year, a prominent human rights lawyer representing an English professor accused of making a blasphemous Facebook post was shot dead after prosecution lawyers had threatened to kill him in front of a judge. Last week, gunmen shot dead a liberal professor of Islamic law in the southern city of Karachi. The killing followed years of threats from his colleagues and allegations of blasphemy. Two prominent politicians who suggested reforming the law have been killed, one by his own bodyguard. Another politician who discussed reforming the law on television is now facing blasphemy charges.