Tuesday, May 12, 2015

China - US - please stop playing up the "China military threat"

The United States Department of Defense recently issued its China's military and security development reportThis report continued to play up the fallacy of the "China military threat".
The US side made groundless accusations against China on national defensemilitary affairsspacenetworkmilitary transparency and Taiwan issuesThe report is a gross distortion of the facts concerning China's peaceful development strategyexternal policy,and legitimate safeguard actions in the East China Sea and in the South China Seaand represents unreasonable interference in China's internal affairs.
Firstlythe US ignores the reality that Taiwan issues belong to China's internal affairsand insists on 'sustaining the military balanceon the other side of the Taiwan Strait by providing weapons to TaiwanThis interference in China's internal affairs acts as an obstruction to China's peaceful unification.
Secondlyno mention is made about the provocative actions of Japanthe Philippines andVietnam in this reportThe US ignores China's tolerance and the efforts it has made to ensure peace and stability in the East China Sea and the South China SeaIt accuses China of striving for maritime sovereignty by intimidating and threatening other countries.
In realityaccording to the recent satellite photos taken by a think tank of USVietnam placed constructions over an area of 80,000 square meters in the reefs and on the islands of China between 2010 and April 30, 2015. The report also acknowledges that the Philippines deliberately stranded a warship near the Ren'ai Reef and tried to use force to seize the reef in 1999. The US never opposed any of these provocative actions.
Thirdlythe US makes wild conjectures about China's modernization of its military forces.It accuses China of lacking transparency in military developmentand alleges that China has the capacity to launch long-range attacks on adversaries in the Western Pacific Region by airseaand spaceand through electromagnetism and information technology.
US has been issuing this military report on China for 16 yearsThe prejudice and hostility of the report causes serious harm to bilateral relationsIn realityChina is strengthening its national defense to safeguard its peaceful developmentand China always firmly safeguards its maritime rightsterritorial sovereignty and interestsIt never the less remains committed to resolving disputes and conflicts through consultations and negotiation
China urges the US to stop using such reports to play up the "China threat". Working withChina to promote the healthy and stable development of bilateral and military relations is crucial to the US.

Video - Kerry meets Putin amid deep tensions

Video - Putin, Kerry shake hands meet for talks in Sochi

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed US Secretary of State John Kerry in Sochi, in Kerry's first visit to Russia since the Ukrainian crisis began two years ago. A spokesperson for Putin said that America's top diplomat had travelled to the Black Sea resort to discuss bilateral cooperation and a wide range of issues, but that Western sanctions would not be on the table for discussion. Before meeting Putin, Kerry held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, which he described as “wonderful.” Lavrov also attended negotiations between Putin and Kerry which were closed to the media.

Video - President Obama Joins a Conversation on Poverty

Video Report - President Obama Foundation Announces South Side as Home for Library

Bangladesh - Activists slam Hasina following blogger’s murder

Continuing attacks blamed on government’s failure to take action

The hacking of another blogger-activist to death in Bangladesh has set off a storm of criticism against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, with noted author Taslima Nasreen saying people had “given up any expectation” that she would act against the killers.
Thirty three-year-old Ananta Bijoya Das was attacked by masked militants wielding machetes when he was on his way to work in Sylhet on Tuesday. Mr. Das’ killing by a suspected Islamist militant group is the third murder of a blogger in the past three months.
On February 26, American-Bangladeshi blogger Avijit Roy and his wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonya, were attacked while on March 30, blogger Washiqur Rehman was killed in Dhaka.
In an exclusive interview to The Hindu, Ms. Nasreen said the “killings prove that the Hasina government isn’t taking action against the groups that are targeting them because of votes. The government thinks if it arrests them they will be considered anti-Islam.”
While much of Mr. Das’ work was on scientific theories of evolution, he had also written a poem eulogising Ms. Nasreen recently, in which he had praised her for “not compromising on feminist principles” despite death threats issued against her over two decades.
Activists protest
Protesting the murder, activists of Shahbagh Gonojagoron Mancha, the group Mr. Das headed, took out a procession and held a rally at Dhaka’s Shahbagh. They also condemned the repeated killings of the bloggers and free thinkers and blamed the murder on the government’s failure to arrest attackers and hold trials.

Blogger killed again in Bangladesh

Blogger Ananta Bijoy Das had been in a state of dread since the brutal murder of Bangladesh-born US writer and blogger Avijit Roy on February 26.
Frustrated with the lack of progress in the Avijit murder case, the 32-year-old had posted a status on Facebook on March 15: "If the killers are not tried, it is understood that they will hone another machete for another strike!"
His trepidation turned true yesterday morning when Ananta, known for advocating science and secularism, was viciously hacked to death by a group of masked men in Sylhet city, in a continuation of attacks on free thinkers.
An organiser of local Gonojagoron Mancha, which champions the call for maximum punishment for war criminals, he was on his way to work when the attack happened around 8:45am. He died on the spot, police said.
An official of Pubali Bank's Jauwabazar branch in Sunamganj, Ananta is the third Bangladeshi blogger killed in less than three months in a similar fashion. He used to blog for Mukto-Mona, or free mind, the site Avijit Roy had launched. In many of his blogs and Facebook posts, he wrote against religious fundamentalism.
Barely a month after Avijit's murder on the Dhaka University campus, blogger Oyasiqur Rahman was stabbed to death on March 30 in the capital's Tejgaon in broad daylight.
Religious fanatics have been blamed for both the murders.

Within hours of Ananta's murder, Ansar Bangla 8 on its Twitter account posted photos of his body and said: “Alhamdulillah, All the Brothers of Operation team are safe.
“For Journalists: Use#AQIS [Al-Qaeda in Indian the Sub-Continent] while reporting about the killing..Don't use Ansar Bangla 8 again.”
The same page later claimed: “Al-Qaeda in Indian Sub-Continent (#AQIS) claimed responsibility of [sic] killing #AnantaBijoy in #Sylhet.”
Following the murders of Avijit and Oyasiqur, Ananta had reached out to the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), a global umbrella organisation embracing humanist, atheist, rationalist, secularist, sceptic, freethinking and similar organisations worldwide.
According to a statement of the IHEU, he wrote to the organisation: "It seems to me I am one of the targets. I am not sure how long I will hide myself. But I am sure if they find me, they will do what they did to Mr Avijit Roy. My life is seriously unsecured [sic]. I am not sure how can I protect myself & my family."
Earlier, he got an invitation from Swedish PEN to speak about the threat to atheists in Bangladesh, but he was refused visa last week by the Swedish embassy in Dhaka, on grounds that he might seek to remain in Sweden, said IHEU, an international NGO with representation on various United Nations committees and other international bodies.
"Each of these murders is a crushing loss to the humanist and secularist communities of South Asia and the world," said the IHEU statement released after Ananta's murder.
Just last week, the IHEU was helping Ananta in seeking to gain asylum in Europe, an effort which ultimately failed, said the British Humanist Association.
Recently, Ananta, who also penned several books, applied for a fellowship in journalism in Norway and made Avijit's father Prof Ajoy Roy one of his referees.
"I called him on Monday to tell him that the reference has been sent to the fellowship authorities," Prof Ajoy told The Daily Star yesterday.
Ananta and Prof Ajoy had known each other for the last several years and alerted each other of possible danger.
Yesterday, Ananta got out of his Subid Bazar home around 8:15am. Finding no rickshaw, he walked to Subid Bazar main road, around 250 yards from his house, said witnesses.
All of a sudden, four assailants, all masked and wearing black sunglasses, came from behind and one of them hacked him in the head with a cleaver.
Hit, Ananta started running back towards his house. But the attackers, who had trousers and half-sleeve shirts on them, chased him down and encircled him near a pond known as Dastidardighi.
This time, they hacked him indiscriminately, leaving gaping holes in his head and other parts of the body.
The attackers fled through Bankalapar Road, while Ananta lay on the scene in a pool of blood for about half an hour until locals called his family, said Abdus Sobhan, a tea seller who witnessed the murder from a close distance.
His family took him to Osmani Medical College Hospital in Sylhet where doctors said he was dead already.
Sobhan said he was making tea for two customers at his stall, around 10 yards from the killing spot, when he saw four men slash Ananta, whom he knew.
The assailants had their faces covered with black cloths, he added.
Sheikh Md Yasin, a sub-inspector of Airport Police Station, who prepared the inquest report, said they found at least 14 severe stab wounds in Ananta's head, neck and back. Several stab marks were also found in other parts of his body.
Parts of his brain came out and one of his index fingers was cut off, he added.
Members of Police, Rapid Action Battalion and Criminal Investigation Department have visited the spot and collected evidence.
Pankaj Kumar Dey, assistant superintendent of police of Rab-9, said the murder seemed to be pre-planned and bore the hallmarks of the murders of Avijit and Rajib Haider (a blogger, who was killed in February 2013).
Ananta was among the 84 people on the hit list of militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team, Bangla daily Jugantor reported on March 7. Hefajat-e Islam had given the same 84 names to the home ministry, claiming they were anti-Islam.
Debasish Debu, a friend of the victim and chief of Gonojagoron Mancha's Sylhet unit, said Ananta had long been receiving threats from different fanatic groups for his writings, more so since Avijit's murder.
The body of Ananta, the youngest of four siblings, was taken to his Subid Bazar home around 4:00pm where his ailing parents saw him for the last time.
Prof Muhammad Zafar Iqbal of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, his wife Prof Yasmeen Haque and Awami League lawmaker Amatul Kibria Keya Chowdhury visited the house.
“I believe the government can catch them [the culprits] if it tries, and tries sincerely.... I urge the government to do something before another young boy or a young girl gets killed so that we don't have to see this in our country anymore,” he said after the visit.
Protesting the murder, activists of Gonojagoron Mancha and Chhatra Union Sylhet units brought out a procession in Sylhet city.
They also held a rally in the hospital area where the protesters alleged Ananta was killed in a planned way for his write-ups on the Mukto-Mona blog and Facebook.
Ananta would not have been killed had the trials of previous murders been held, they said.
Progressive Student Alliance and Gonojagoron Mancha's Sylhet units called a half-day hartal in Sylhet city today.

The activists of Gonojagoron Mancha in Dhaka also brought out a procession and held a rally at Shahbagh in the afternoon.


Saudi-funded takfiri terrorists have killed four security personnel on Tuesday near Tank District's Sheikh Otar area bordering South Waziristan.
According to a security source, the security personnel were on duty at the Gomal Zam Dam road — which is under construction — when takfiri motorcyclists opened fire at them. The source added that two Frontier Corps (FC) personnel and two workers from Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) were killed in the firing.
Earlier this month, a security personnel was killed and four others injured in takfiri terrorist attacks in South Waziristan and Bannu, respectively.
The semi-autonomous tribal areas on the Afghan border have for years been a hideout for militants of all stripes, including Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban as well as foreign fighters such as Uzbeks and Uighurs.
Pakistan began a long-awaited push to clear insurgent bases from North Waziristan last June after a bloody Taliban attack on Karachi airport finally sank faltering peace talks.

Open Letter To Pakistan's PM Nawaz - Mr Prime Minister, do you support religious bigotry?

Dear Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,
I hope this letter finds you well. I am sure you are busy; so let me cut to the chase.
You know well that Pakistan’s Ahmadi community has long faced the wrath of extremist religious clerics. Despite succeeding in hijacking Jinnah’s vision, and pressurising the state into incorporating anti-Ahmadi bigotry into the Constitution and law, these clerics have continued to demonise, spread hate and incite violence against the Ahmadis. The group currently at the forefront of this witch-hunt is Pakistan’s Khatam-e-Nabuwat organisation. Whereas this organisation claims to uphold the honour of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), it does everything under the sky against his teachings of peace, tolerance and respectful difference of opinion.
Ahmadis are already denied their freedom of speech, worship, assembly, and even identity in Pakistan. The Khatam-e-Nabuwat group, however, is not pleased with just this. It holds conferences on a regular basis, calling on governments and the public to banish and boycott Ahmadis even further. Through these forums, extremist Mullahs also call for increased violence against the Ahmadis, some even issuing death edicts against them.
Sir, it is very disappointing to note that your party has consistently aided these radical clerics in their bigoted anti-Ahmadi agenda. When mullahs demanded that the name of my hometown – Rabwah – be forcibly changed to Chenab Nagar against the wishes of its residents, the then Punjab chief minister, Shahbaz Sharif, immediately appeased the Mullahs. In 2008, when all 23 Ahmadi students from Punjab Medical College were rusticated due to their faith, the Punjab government under Mr Sharif turned a blind eye again. Fearful of upsetting the radical right, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has always participated in, and even sponsored, anti-Ahmadi hate conferences across the country.
In January of 2012, leaders of your political party attended an anti-Ahmadi rally demanding Ahmadis evict their place of worship in Rawalpindi.
“That time is near when Muslims will kick out all Qadianis from Pakistan”, was the popular call from clerics at this rally.
 Mr Prime Minister, you are well aware of your party’s role in abetting sectarian hate. You have personally been guilty of this crime. In 1989, you sent a message to a similar anti-Ahmadi hate conference in Chicago, boasting about your government’s role in suppressing the civil rights of the Ahmadis.

Pakistan: Punjab Government's Latest Act of Outrageous Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

The Government of Punjab’s latest act of outrageous persecution against the beleaguered Ahmadiyya community
All the 23 published volumes of the community’s founder proscribed
The community’s daily newspaper and monthlies Khalid, Ansarullah and Tehrik Jadid also placed on banned list, on recommendation of Mutahiddah Ulama Board Punjab

As per an ad of the Home Department of the Government of Punjab in the dailyDunya of May 8, 2015, published from Faisalabad, 150 books/CDs/periodicals etc. stand proscribed. These include 11 from Ahmadi sources, including all the 23 volumes of Roohani Khazain (Spiritual Treasures) written by the holy founder of the Ahmadiyya community, as well as Tazkarah, a compendium of his dreams, visions and revelations.
The ad, titled WARNING, mentions in its opening sentence that this action has been taken on the basis of recommendations made by the Mutahiddah (Joint) Ulama Board.
The advertized Warning forbids production, publication, display and sale of the listed items and orders their proscription. The violators would be booked under CrPC 99-A and Anti-terrorism Act 8 and 11-A. It prescribes imprisonment up to five years and fine for any violation. DCOs and DPOs have been directed to ensure implementation.
This exposes tens of thousands of Ahmadi families in the country, in fact all of them, to the risk of police searches, registration of religion-based criminal cases, arrests, court trials and severe penalties. Their women and children could be similarly treated.
This measure will deprive Ahmadis of their religious teachings and understanding of their basic scriptures, the Quran and Hadith, and thus act as a very big blow to their freedom of religion and its practice.

Ahmadiyya periodicals, the daily Alfazl, the monthlies Khalid, Ansarullah and Tehrik Jadid have been included in the list, although these are published under official authorizations granted earlier after due process. The entire list does not include any other daily or monthly edited by a ‘Muslim’. Jihadi press like the daily Islam are not on the list. This is blatant discrimination.
The order has proscribed Ahmadiyya periodicals, so it would be fair to ask the Home Department to point out a single extract from these, over the last whole year, that favours, promotes or even remotely encourages terrorism.
Showing Roohani Khazain as one item (out of 150) the authorities have banned, in one sweep, approximately 85 books and booklets authored by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Founder of Ahmadiyya Community. No other author in the list has been treated this way, showing deliberate discrimination. Also, counting thus all books separately, 64% of the banned list comprises Ahmadiyya books while the remaining 36% are distributed among all the other faiths and the 72 sects of Islam. The bias and bigotry is glaring.
As mentioned above, Tazkarah is a compendium of the founder’s dreams, visions and revelations, compiled in one volume long after his death. It is an esoteric publication that least deserves a notice under terror concerns. This compilation however is of great importance to Ahmadis who hold it in great esteem. The ban is gross violation of Ahmadis’ freedom of religion.
These 85 books include the one titled: The British Government and Jihad. In this the holy founder wrote down his famous edict on Jihad and terrorism. On the issue of Jihad he wrote:
“I have come to you with an order: jihad with the sword has ended from this time forward, but the jihad of purifying your souls must continue. I do not say this of my own accord. This is indeed the will of God. Recall the hadith from Sahih al-Bukhariwhich honours the Promised Messiah by saying yada-‘ul-harb. That is to say, when the Messiah comes he will put an end to religious wars.” p. 17
On the issue of terrorism he was equally explicit:
“Muslims are not being killed today by anyone because of their faith. What authority do they have to justify the killing of innocents, I wonder?” p. 15
It is noteworthy that the Home Department decides to ban such historical edicts as above, and allows dissemination of edicts like that by Maulvi Yusuf Ludhianvi (given hereafter). No wonder General Sharif recently, after 181st Corps Commanders meeting emphasized on “re-energizing the National Action Plan in true letter and spirit and achieving discernable results.”
The Home Department which decided to ban Tazkarah decided not to ban a book ‘Tohfa Qadianiat’ authored by ‘Maulana’ Muhammad Yusuf Ludhianvi and published and advertised by Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat, Multan which carries on its pages 680/681 this text, (Translation):
“My and your duty”
… What does the sense of honour and shame (ghairat) demand from Muslims? In fact, it demands that not a single Qadiani should be left alive on earth. Seize each one of these malignant individuals and kill them. I am not being emotional when I say this. This is the verity; this is the edict of Islam. This is the law of Islam concerning Murtads (apostates) and Zindiques (heretics)….”
Also relevant to the above is an announcement by the same Mutahiddah Ulama Board, Punjab in the monthly Laulak, of April 2015, self-declared mouth piece of the Aalami Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat, in the following words (Translation):

Action by the Mutahiddah Ulama Board, established by the Punjab Government
There is no restriction whatsoever on literature over the dogma of End of Prophethood.
Proceedings of the Joint Session of the Sub Committee Nr 1, 2 of the Mutahiddah Ulama Board Punjab, held on January 22, 2015
… The End of Prophethood literature relevant to their (Ahmadis’) unbelief (Takfir), rebuttal and refutation is in no way (in the category of) hate-material. As such the Home Department, the Police Department in general and the Government of Punjab in particular are not to take any action whatsoever on the production, publication, printing, distribution and sale of the End of  Prophethood literature. It was unanimously recommended that the Home Department Punjab should issue a formal notification in this regard…” Sahibzadah Maulana Fazl ur Rahim Ashrafi, Chairman Mutahiddah Ulama Board, Punjab
By accepting the recommendations of the Ulama Board, arguably without any resistance, the provincial Home Department has unwittingly assumed the role of clerics’ puppet. Does this not betray misplaced political policy and guidance?
Since the time of dictator Zia ul Haq, this perhaps is the most painful hurt inflicted upon Ahmadis through government regulation. It has been undertaken in the Punjab. The fact that earlier in 2010 the Taliban chose Lahore, the capital of this province, as the site to massacre 86 Ahmadi worshippers in their mosques, is very significant.
A fair question in the light of the above: Has the Government of the Punjab correctly understood the intent and purpose of the National Action Plan? If they have, how come their implementation is so lop-sided? They embrace religious extremists and hit hard their victims!

Pakistan - Seymour Hersh story - The grandmother of all embarrassments

Ayaz Amir

Even when we suspected the worst but did not know all the facts, the Abbottabad raid on the Bin Laden compound was the mother of all embarrassments…for the army and the ISI, the frontline defenders of our physical, moral, spiritual and ideological frontiers. But with the Seymour Hersh story coming out – the story itself something that James Bond would find hard to equal – the tag ‘mother of all embarrassments’ seems insufficient. 

The facts, according to Hersh, are much more explosive. There was no shortage of guys who said at the time that Osama bin Laden couldn’t have been hiding hardly a mile away from the Pakistan Military Academy without someone somewhere knowing about it. But the more earnest-minded amongst us pooh-poohed such suggestions. It turns out that the conspiracy theorists, for once, were not just right. They were dead on target…that is, if we are to believe Hersh who says that bin Laden was in ISI custody, the compound he lived in under ISI control.

How did the Americans get wind of this? The prize money, 25 million dollars, was just too effective an instrument. A former intelligence officer walks into the American embassy saying he has information about the most wanted of men. The Americans don’t believe him but give him a polygraph test which our smart guy passes. So planning for getting OBL begins. 

The Americans, according to Hersh, soon realise that they have to take the Paks on board. Army chief Gen Kayani and Lt Gen Pasha, then heading our holy order of knights templars, initially play mum. But when the Americans pile on the pressure, all very subtle, they come around. There’s a bit of blackmail – we can leak out the word that you’ve got Bin Laden and that wouldn’t sound very good for you – and a lot of carrot: personal ‘incentives’, Hersh describes them, “financed by off-the books Pentagon contingency funding”. (If true, it would be fascinating to find out who got what.)

It’s a big claim but Hersh makes it: our chiefs come on board. Yes, he’s there but we had to keep OBL as a check on Al-Qaeda and the Taliban – which, incidentally, is the silliest line in this saga. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were terrorizing the hell out of Pakistan at that time. So what exactly was being achieved by keeping the lord of terror jihad in custody? 

Bin Laden was very ill, virtually on his deathbed (it had been arranged for a Dr Amir Aziz to be near him for his treatment…is this a reference to the well-known orthopaedic surgeon from Lahore?). It was agreed the Pakistani side would look the other way, ensuring that no radar or stray aircraft interfered with the raid as it was carried out. But our side insisted on one safeguard, that the raid would not be disclosed. Instead a week or ten days later it would be said that somewhere along the Pak-Afghan border, deep in the Hindu Kush mountains, Bin Laden had been ‘taken out’ in a drone strike. 

This is where it went wrong for the Pakistani side. As soon as the raiding helicopters were back on base in Afghanistan, President Obama went on the airwaves with the bombshell announcement that OBL had been eliminated. The Pakistani side had simply failed to figure out that there was no way an American president up for re-election would keep his lips sealed after such a triumph.

If the raid had gone wrong, someone is quoted as saying, Obama would just have been a black Jimmy Carter. When it turned out right, Obama made the most of it and Gen Kayani and Gen Pasha were left in the lurch.

We know that General Headquarters went into deep shock. Most of us thought this was because of having been caught off guard. From Hersh’s account something else emerges: Kayani and Pasha feeling let down and betrayed. 

Appearances, in any event, could not be more damning. Either Pakistan’s intelligence operatives knew of Osama’s presence in Abbottabad…in which case they were complicit; or they knew nothing and were taken unawares, which makes them look like the world’s leading dunces. 

What made it worse for the Generalisssimo and his spy chief was the fact that they could do nothing about the mortification they endured. They could neither denounce the Americans for not living up to their side of the bargain, nor claim that they had aided the Americans, for that would have made them look like stooges. So they nursed their sullenness in silence.

Kayani and Pasha never really recovered from the Abbottabad debacle, looking diminished thereafter. Although I must say that when called upon to explain matters at an in camera joint session of parliament – I was there and Kayani in full regalia sat in the Speaker’s box watching the performance – Pasha had the nerve and composure to read out to the assembled parliamentarians a lecture on national honour and dignity. I thought to myself then and am more than convinced now that Pasha may have missed his true vocation – he would have made a name for himself in the performing arts.

Kayani, remember, was fond of saying that Pakistan was a Fortress of Islam. Taking his word for it, the Abbottabad episode does not cast a very flattering light on the Fortress and its extended ramparts.

But all this is to assume that Hersh is fully on the mark. I spoke to one retired general who’s also been ambassador to the US and he said that he wouldn’t buy Hersh’s story. He said that he met Kayani a few days after the OBL raid and the army chief was totally distraught by what had happened. If the Americans had told us, he quoted Kayani as saying, they could have carried out their raid in daylight. He went on to say that unless Kayani was putting on a performance, he believed him.

How well does Hersh stand as an investigative reporter? Some of his major stories – such as on the My Lai massacre – have stood the test of time. He got the Pulitzer Prize for that. Some stories he got plain wrong, such as some of his reporting way back on John F Kennedy’s sexual escapades. He has been criticised for his use of anonymous sources. The OBL story is also largely based on a single source, a US official privy to those secrets. On the whole, however, he is taken as a serious and influential reporter, with a reputation for diligently pursuing his stories.

The bit about someone walking into the American embassy with information on Bin Laden sounds true. Ramzi Yousef was caught on the basis of human intelligence. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was caught from the house of a Jamaat-e-Islami sympathiser after someone informed the Americans. Money is a great incentive and the Americans have put out huge sums on the heads of their most wanted men.

I have a shrewd suspicion who the informant in this case could be. Years ago in Islamabad I used to come across a colourful character then commanding the MI battalion in GHQ. He would be accompanied by a girlfriend, an air stewardess rather easy on the eyes (as can be guessed, I envied envy him for that). Soon after Abbottabad I heard his name being whispered. If he’s our man I hope he is living it up wherever he is. 

In the end, however, Allah knoweth best. But there’s no getting around the central awkward fact that Sheikh Osama was in Abbottabad for full five years, living in a house almost calculated to look like a sore thumb. How did he keep his head below the radar for so long?

Pakistan military officials admit defector's key role in Terrorist Bin Laden operation

Two former senior Pakistan military officials told AFP on Tuesday that a ‘defector’ from country’s intelligence agency did assist the US in its hunt for Osama bin Laden but denied the two countries had officially worked together.
The officials' accounts came after the publication of a controversial news report by US journalist Seymour Hersh in which he claimed to have uncovered a ‘secret deal’ between Washington and Islamabad that reportedly resulted in the killing of Al-Qaeda chief in 2011.
The White House has flatly rejected Hersh's claims that Pakistan was told in advance about the May 2 special forces raid in Abbottabad.
A source — who was a serving senior military official at the time of the raid — told AFP that the defector was a “resourceful and energetic” mid-ranking intelligence officer whose efforts were critical to the operation's success.
Hersh's report quoted a senior US source as saying a “walk-in” approached the then-Islamabad station chief for the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2010 promising to lead them to bin Laden, who according to the journalist had been imprisoned by Pakistani authorities at the Abbottabad compound since 2006.
However, the Pakistani military source told AFP the defector had no knowledge that his target was bin Laden, but he was instead given a task that would help verify the Al-Qaeda chief's identity.
The source declined to elaborate on what that task was, but a Pakistani investigation found that the CIA had run a fake vaccination programme with the help of physician Dr Shakeel Afridi who obtained DNA samples.
Qazi Khalilullah, Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman, meanwhile said the government was investigating Hersh's account and would announce its reaction soon. “We are looking into the matter and will give our reaction soon,” he said.

Verification task

On the defector's role, the source said: “This guy was inducted at a much later stage only to carry out the ground confirmation." He added that the defector did not belong to the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) but another branch, and was now residing in the United States.
Another former official, ex-ISI chief Hamid Gul, told AFP he was also aware of the defector. “That is in my knowledge, that someone defected,” he said.
“There was too big a reward, he became a mole and agent to put in practice their plan.” The US had placed a $25-million-dollar bounty on information leading to the capture or killing of bin Laden — a sum Washington has said it never paid because no human informants were used.
According to Hersh's report, the US learned that Pakistani authorities had bin Laden in their custody and were hoping to use him as a shield against Al-Qaeda and Taliban attacks.
Later, Hersh reported, the US convinced Pakistan to stage a fake raid to kill bin Laden, providing a boost for US President Barack Obama — then in his first term — while also allowing the Pakistanis to deny having anything to do with the killing.

No deal made

Both former Pakistani officials, however, and several other serving officials, have dismissed the allegation that such a deal had been brokered.
The then-serving senior military official said that in the aftermath of the raid, “the mood here and the reaction here was of great frustration even at the top level.
“If the top guys had been part of the plan — they were the worst hit. They were almost forced to resign.
“With the kind of bad name and reputation that came with such a great risk, it wasn't worth it. “A leaked Pakistani government report in 2013 said bin Laden arrived in Pakistan in the spring or summer of 2002 — after the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan — and settled in Abbottabad in August 2005.
The report, which coined the term “governance implosion syndrome” to explain the extent of official failures to detect him, said he was once stopped for speeding and enjoyed wearing a cowboy hat.
Hersh's report has been met with some scepticism, but Dawn's editorialargued that it should force the government to officially release the findings of the 2013 investigation, and bring the country's powerful military-run intelligence agencies under civilian supervision.

Pakistan - Abbottabad raid: a new angle


It is a story that will not go away — and rightly so. A new, sensational account of the run-up to the May 2, 2011 American raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden alleges that not only did the then army leadership know of the American raid beforehand but that the Pakistan Army had imprisoned bin Laden for many years in the city.
The Seymour Hersh account in the London Review of Books appears to mainly take aim at US President Barack Obama’s and the White House’s version of the events that led to the killing of the world’s most wanted terrorist.
But in doing so it attempts to take apart the standard story proffered inside Pakistan — that the army leadership had no knowledge of the Al Qaeda chief’s presence in Abbottabad nor did it in any way facilitate the American raid to kill him. In the days to come, there will surely be official denials and sundry attacks made on Mr Hersh’s version of events.
Careful scrutiny of the LRB story is in fact required as it contains several perplexing theories and an alternative version of events. But neither should it be lost that Mr Hersh appears largely sympathetic to the Pakistan Army, both in the LRB piece and in comments to this newspaper yesterday, and that the central premise of his article is to dismantle the Obama administration’s version of events.
It is clearly not a hatchet job on Pakistan. Which leaves at least three basic points to be made here. First, where is the official Pakistani version of events, the Abbottabad Commission report?
Buried after initial promises that it would be made public, one version of the report has already seen the light of day via a leaked copy to Al Jazeera. That version alone contains a deep, systematic, even fundamental critique of the manner in which the ISI operates.
Surely, it is morally and legally indefensible of the state to hide from the public the only systematic inquiry into the events surrounding perhaps the most humiliating incident in decades here. National security will not be undermined by the publication of a report; national security was undermined by the presence of Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil.
Second, it is long overdue for parliament to have oversight of the intelligence apparatus. The military itself projects its intelligence wings as omnipresent and omniscient — surely, it is parliament that ought to be omnipotent, able to inquire into anything done by any branch of the state in the name of public security and the national interest.
Nor is it really a question of who will bell the cat — if parliament were to indicate any interest, the military would be unable to fend off oversight entirely. Finally, the Hersh report underlines an age-old truth: while supreme civilians may not always be truthful, they are always accountable — something a military-dominated set-up can never be.

Pakistan - Seymour Hersh’s article - ''Perilous account''

Seymour Hersh’s article in the London Review of Books, which purports to tell “an alternative history of the war on terror”, answers less and raises more questions about Osama bin Laden’s killing in 2011. Hersh’s 10,000 word account gives the minute details of the alleged negotiations between the US and Pakistani military and security forces, who he claims were in agreement about the raid that resulted in Osama’s death. The article claims that the ISI caught Osama in the Hindu Kush mountains by gaining intelligence from the tribes living in the region where he was hiding and subsequently imprisoned him in the compound in Abottabad in 2006, keeping this a secret from the Americans to use as ‘leverage’ against al Qaeda and the Taliban. Hersh claims that both Generals Kiyani and Pasha, the COAS and ISI chief at the time respectively, were on board in this venture. According to Hersh’s source, a ‘walk-in’ former military officer reported Osama’s whereabouts to a CIA official at the US embassy in return for most of the $ 25 million dollar bounty on bin Laden. A portion of the bounty was also paid to the military’s Dr Aziz who the ISI stationed in a house near the compound to attend the invalid Osama, for providing the DNA evidence that confirmed the terrorist leader’s identity. Once the US informed Pakistan’s military leaders that they had learned this dangerous secret, it took months of negotiations to strike a deal: Pakistan’s military was assured that US forces would kill Osama and say that Pakistan did not have any knowledge of his whereabouts (somewhere in the Hindu Kush) in return for allowing the US to conduct the raid without interference. However, the main source for Hersh’s report is an anonymous “retired senior US security official” and there is no proof of the narrative presented in the story. The truth of what might be the biggest cover-up in history is yet to come out.

Nevertheless, Hersh’s story is certainly an incredible read, which pokes enough holes in the official accounts of the saga of Osama’s death to make them seem questionable; it also explicates the motivations of the parties involved in the cover-up. There has been a great deal of mistrust surrounding the authorities’ account of Osama’s death since the incident was revealed and became a major factor in President Obama’s re-election. It is hard to believe that the Pakistani Army and ISI did not realise that Osama was hiding so close to the premier military academy, or that US helicopters entering the country and circling the compound were not detected. Whether Hersh’s report is to be believed or not, it effectively challenges the credibility of both the US and Pakistani authorities, who may now struggle to defend their version of the story. They owe the world a truthful account so closure can be applied to this startling episode of history.


Pakistan - Lahore’s NA-125 and PP-155 constituencies - Verdict Suspended

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a suspension of the decision of the election tribunal, which ordered the re-election in Lahore’s NA-125 and PP-155 constituencies. The tribunal while annulling results of the NA-125 election had ordered a re-poll in both the constituencies. The result of this National Assembly seat had elicited an immediate protest by the voters of this NA constituency. It became one of the major thorns in the wrangling between the PML-N and PTI on the issue of systematic rigging in the 2013 elections.
Now when the matter is again sub-judice, it is expected that the rivals in this case will stop their media campaigns by issuing irresponsible comments on the proceedings of the court. It is very unfortunate that the political leadership in Pakistan has started debating the issues in public through the media, which not only puts the judiciary under pressure but certainly misleads the general public which is usually not abreast with the due process of law. The media should also refrain from encouraging lower tiers of the party leaderships to heighten the expectations of gullible followers through irresponsible comments. PEMRA is also required to carry out its responsibilities in an effective manner to protect and maintain honour and decorum of the judiciary.
Whatever the decisions of the courts and judicial commission, it is believed that current battles in the courts will produce positive results regarding transparency in the elections to be held in the future. It is also hoped that the election commission will finally emerge as a much stronger body than its predecessors in the country’s history after the final decisions by the superior judiciary. If it happens, it will be a historic move forward which will surely put the country and its people on the pathway to democracy for which the common man has always been yearning. The status and respect of the judiciary has to be preserved at all costs. The institutions should be the ultimate victors after resolving national issues of this nature.