Archive for the ‘Islamabad’ Category

Pakistan: President Diminished, Rival Triumphant

March 16, 2009

The promised reinstatement of Pakistan‘s chief justice defused a protest movement threatening the U.S.-allied government, but it could still spell trouble for the country’s struggling president.

The army is said to have directed President Asif Ali Zardari to defuse the developing showdown with opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and lawyers leading a column of protesters toward the capital Sunday night.

But by yielding to demands to restore judges fired by former military ruler and U.S. ally Pervez Musharraf, Zardari may have strengthened democracy in the nuclear-armed nation as it faces daunting security and economic challenges.

“Never before in Pakistan’s political history have you had people standing up for the rule of law, for the constitution,” said Nasim Zehra, a political and defense analyst. “Civil society has won out.”

Musharraf ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry in 2007 after he blocked a privatization deal, investigated the fate of hundreds of people allegedly held incognito by security agencies, and even questioned the legality of the ex-general’s rule.

But the move backfired as lawyers, rights activists, liberal media pundits — as well as the general’s political opponents — mounted a dogged campaign for an independent judiciary that turned the dour, mustachioed judge into an unlikely democratic icon.

The very same constellation has now humbled Zardari.

The slaying of former premier Benazir Bhutto catapulted her Pakistan People’s Party into power last year. Zardari, who took over his wife’s party and became president, forged a coalition with Sharif. The alliance collapsed as the two wrangled for power and Zardari reneged on a pledge to restore Chaudhry.

Sharif joined the opposition, but last month the Supreme Court ruled that he and his brother Shahbaz were inelegible for elected office. Zardari then dismissed the government Shahbaz led in Punjab, the most powerful Pakistani province.

Nawaz Sharif — who defied house arrest to participate in Sunday’s demonstration — accused Zardari of a power grab and urged his supporters to join lawyers and other activists planning to march on the capital, re-energizing the movement.

Zardari’s tough line also opened rifts in his party, which could weaken his grip and force him to pass on to Parliament some of the sweeping presidential powers accumulated by Musharraf, analysts said. He has pledged to give up the right to dissolve the assemblies and fire the government — but taken no concrete steps to do it.

“Zardari has come out badly bruised,” said Zahid Hussain, a Pakistani commentator. “He has managed to survive, but his power has certainly been curtailed.”

Sharif, in contrast, has emerged triumphant.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090
316/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_analysis

http://albanylawlibrary.wordpress.c
om/2009/03/16/this-just-in/

Pakistan: Do School Texts Fuel Bias? Trouble? Even War?

January 21, 2009

As Pakistani Air Force jets circled the eastern border city of Lahore last week in a show of strength, journalist Rab Nawaz was despondent. But what occupied him was less the threat of war with India than the things his son had begun saying recently.

“My 7-year-old came home from school one day insisting that Indians are our natural-born enemies, that Muslims are good, and Hindus are evil,” the widely traveled journalist recalls. “He asked about the relative strength of our air forces and insisted we would win if it came to war.

By Issam Ahmed
Christian Science Monitor

“It was only when I asked him whether my Indian friends … were also bad,” he adds, “that he began to realize that things weren’t quite so simple.”

Public schools, though long neglected, are still responsible for educating the vast majority of schoolchildren. Some 57 percent of boys and 44 percent of girls enroll in primary school, and about 46 percent of boys and 32 percent of girls reach high school.

All public schools must follow the government curriculum – one that critics say is inadequate at best, harmful at worst.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20090121/ts_csm/opaktext

Pakistan is World Leader in Anti-Terror Fight — Musharraf

January 10, 2009

Pakistan has done more than any other nation in the global war against terrorism, former President Pervez Musharraf said, in defense of his country’s response to the attacks in Mumbai.

“Pakistan has lost a large number of security personnel and civilians in the fight against terrorism,” Musharraf said today in a televised interview from Islamabad. “The world community, including India and Pakistan, must fight the root of extremism and terrorism.”

By Farhan Sharif
Bloomberg

Ties between India and Pakistan have deteriorated since the Nov. 26-29 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that left 164 people dead. India and the U.S. have pressed for a thorough investigation of the attacks, and the government in Islamabad has confirmed that the surviving gunman is a Pakistani national.

Indian authorities say Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the only one of 10 gunmen to survive the assault in Mumbai, told interrogators the attacks were planned and carried out by the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Until three days ago, Pakistan said there was no proof its nationals were involved.

Musharraf, an army general who seized power in a 1999 coup, turned Pakistan into an ally of the U.S. in its war against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. He quit as president in August to avoid impeachment by a civilian coalition government elected in February.

The Mumbai attacks interrupted the five-year peace process between the two South Asian nations, which have fought three wars since independence in 1947.

Indian Allegations

“I regret that all the developments on both sides for dialogue, peace and coordination built in the past over many years were washed out by one terror incident, which the people of both sides condemn,” Musharraf said, referring to the mounting tension between the two neighbors.

Pakistan has rejected Indian allegations the attackers received the support of official agencies in Pakistan and said such accusations could raise tensions. India is examining all options to stop border infiltration and prevent terrorist attacks, Defense Minister A.K. Antony said on Jan. 7.

“Pakistan’s forces and people have all the ability to defend the country,” Musharraf said.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=asH0IVWuaIos

Pakistan Taliban Militants Demand Women Marry Them Or “Face Dire Consequences”

January 2, 2009

On the heels of their crusade against girls going to schools, the Taliban have now issued new dictum in the areas under their sway asking parents of the grown up daughters to marry them to militants or “face dire consequences”.

From The Times of India

This new force-marriage campaign is being run in most of the areas in the Pakistan’s troubled NWFP through regular announcements made in mosques to congregations.

Such instances have come to light recently through some of the affected women daring to go to authorities for justice rather than meekly surrender to the militants’ dictates.

Salma, who teaches in a primary school in Peshawar, told the Dawn newspaper that Taliban have told families to declare in mosques if they have unmarried girls so that their hand could be given in marriage, most probably to militants.

If they did not do so, the girls would be forcibly married off, the newspaper quoted the 30-year-old widow as saying.

She also said the Taliban in the Swat valley of NWFP have threatened women with dire punishment, if they are found outside their homes without identity cards and a male relative accompanying them.

Read the rest:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/Gi
rls_to_marry_militants_orders_Taliban/artic
leshow/3926460.cms

Pakistan army: We must ‘avoid conflict’ with India

December 29, 2008

Pakistan’s army chief stressed Monday the need to avoid conflict with India, days after he ordered troops toward the rivals’ shared border amid tensions following last month’s terror attacks on Mumbai.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani made the remarks to a top Chinese diplomat who was visiting Islamabad to try and ease the situation between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India.

Kayani‘s remarks were believed to be his first about the tensions with Pakistan’s traditional rival and could help reassure a jittery region that the country does not intend to escalate the crisis further.

On Friday, Pakistani intelligence officials said thousands of troops were being shifted toward the Indian border, though there has been no sign yet of a major build up at the frontier.

Without referring specifically to the situation, Kayani told Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei of the “need to de-escalate and avoid conflict in the interest of peace and security,” a brief army statement said.

India blames Pakistani militants for the slaughter of 164 people in its commercial capital and has not ruled out the use of force in its response. Pakistan’s civilian leaders have said they do not want war, but will retaliate if attacked.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081
229/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_india

Pakistan moves troops toward Indian border

December 26, 2008

It is difficult to determine what exactly is going on between India and pakistan just now.  News sources say Pakistan has cancelled all army leave and has started to move troops toward the border with India.  But yesterday, Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani said there was ‘absolutely no chance of war” with India.  Pakistan and India are both flying war aircraft in close proximity with one another making the situation very tense…. began moving thousands of troops away from the Afghan border toward India on Friday amid tensions following the Mumbai attacks, intelligence officials said.

Related:
 India, Pakistan Hysteria and Jaundiced Eye:
Distrust, Discontent Since Mumbai Has Not Abated

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Pakistan

The move represents a sharp escalation in the stand off between the nuclear-armed neighbors and stands to weaken Pakistan’s U.S.-backed campaign against al-Qaida and Taliban close to Afghanistan.

Two intelligence officials said the army’s 14th Division was being redeployed to Kasur and Sialkot, close to the Indian border. They said some 20,000 troops were on the move. Earlier Friday, a security official said that all troop leave had been canceled.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

By SEBASTIAN ABBOT, Associated Press Writer

Indian officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

An Associated Press reporter in Dera Ismail Khan, a district that borders the Afghan-frontier province of South Waziristan, said he saw around 40 trucks loaded with soldiers heading away from the Afghan border.

India is blaming Pakistan-based militants for last month’s attacks on Mumbai. Islamabad has said it will cooperate in any probe, but says it has seen no evidence backing up India’s claims.

Both countries have said they hope to avoid military conflict, but Pakistan has promised to respond aggressively if India uses force, an option the Indian government has not ruled out.

Pakistan has deployed more than 100,000 soldiers in Waziristan and other northwestern regions to fight Islamic militants blamed for surging violence against Western troops in Afghanistan.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081226/ap_on_re_a
s/as_pakistan;_ylt=As.nsBzyzQ9kaZgnr9ldh3FvaA8F

Related:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/12
/26/india.pakistan.tensions/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Pakistan: Turning Military Away From Taliban, Afghanistan and Toward India?

Pakistan Prime Minister Gilani: No Question of War With India

December 25, 2008

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani declared on Thursday that “there is absolutely no question of war” with India and said Islamabad sought “excellent relations” with its neighbour.

“There is no question of war. There is absolutely no question of war,” Gilani told reporters in Islamabad.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani prays at the grave ... 
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani REUTERS/Nadeem Soomro (PAKISTAN)

At the same time, Gilani urged the world to convince India to defuse the situation in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks for which New Delhi has blamed Pakistani terrorists.

“We had good relations with India. I assure you that we want excellent relations with India. We want to maintain good relations with India,” said the prime minister.

–Hindustan Times

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/FullcoverageStoryPage.asp
x?sectionName=HomePage&id=08421d10-2dce-4dc4-a1c4-b7dc87497
82aMumbaiunderattack_Special&&Headline=’No+question+of+war’+wi
th+India%3a+Gilani

Democratic Pakistan Limps On

December 25, 2008

Pakistan returned to civilian rule shortly after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto a year ago, but the nascent democracy is now caught in a web of crises that is threatening its future, analysts say.

The government led by President Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto’s widower, came to power with significant public support, but many say he has not lived up to the promises made by their slain leader before her death in a suicide attack.

“He seems to have lost some of the popular goodwill because the government appears to be ineffective in addressing the problems that have hit the common people most,” political analyst Hasan Askari told AFP.

By Rana Jawad
AFP

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. Pakistan returned to civilian ... 
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. Pakistan returned to civilian rule shortly after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto a year ago, but the nascent democracy is now caught in a web of crises that is threatening its future, analysts say.(AFP/File/Sezayi Erken)

Pakistan’s troubles have worsened in the past 12 months with more than 50 suicide attacks killing civilians, severe economic woes for the government, and high food prices and regular power shortages hitting ordinary families hard.

At the same time, militancy in the lawless tribal areas and simmering tensions with India have been accompanied by political infighting between the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its former coalition partner.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081224/wl_sthas
ia_afp/pakistanattacksbhuttoanniversarypolitic
s_081224062445

Related:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/12/26/un.pakistan/index.html

India, Pakistan Hysteria and Jaundiced Eye: Distrust, Discontent Since Mumbai Has Not Abated

December 25, 2008

A certain hysteria has set in among Indian and Pakistani people — many of which watch the other side with a jaundiced eye.  Both sides continue a war of words and bluster weeks after the attacks in Mubai.

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Words like unguided missiles have raised the spectre of an air war between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan’s fighter aircraft are forward deployed and are flying ear-shattering sorties over its major cities, creating a war hysteria among its public.

By Sujan Dutta  
The Telegraph (London, UK)

Pakistani fighter jets on Sunday attacked suspected Taliban ...
Pakistani jets

In India, a preparation for the worst is not accompanied by a declaration of intent for hostilities. But the chief of the Indian Air Force’s largest command today chose to claim that the IAF is capable of hitting “5,000 targets” in Pakistan.

“The IAF has earmarked 5,000 targets in Pakistan. But whether we will cross the LoC or the International Border to hit the enemy targets will have to be decided by the political leadership of the country,” P.K. Barbora, the air officer commanding-in-chief of Western Air Command, said in Guwahati today

The words evoked shock and awe among diplomats because the political leadership is signalling otherwise. Air headquarters in New Delhi may still tamp down what Barbora has had to say. But that is in the very nature of brinkmanship.

It is now time for bluster, not boom-boom.

It is apt. Inside the defence ministry in South Block, army, navy and air force officers display letters and postcards from citizens who are praising the armed forces and are urging war. Some of the postcards are colourful with “Attack Pakistan” written in bold capital letters.

The remarks of Barbora, the decorated, chain-smoking officer, are in keeping with the mood that is gripping the military. They do not constitute a call to arms.

“Air power is lethal and escalatory and is therefore to be used with great caution,” said Air Marshal (retired) Padamjit Singh “Pudding” Ahluwalia, Barbora’s immediate predecessor as the Western Air Command chief. “And war plans are based on objectives. What kind of objective you must have is the crucial decision that has to be handed down. Ideally, you must have the capability to defeat the adversary’s will to fight,” he added.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraphindia.com/108122
5/jsp/frontpage/story_10299108.jsp

Related:
http://salmanlatif.wordpress.com/2008/1
2/26/indo-pak-tension-the-many-facets/

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War of Words Too Intense; Coverage Too “Hyped”?
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By Daniel Pepper
Christian Science Monitor

Emerging from decades of government control and regulations, India’s media are quickly evolving into a boisterous, zealous fourth estate, most observers agree. But coverage of the 67-hour Mumbai (Bombay) terrorist attacks has caused unprecedented condemnation, especially toward 24-hour television news channels. Critics describe it as “TV terror” for showing gory scenes, being too aggressive, and often reporting incorrect information as fact.

“They don’t need to apologize as much as they need to introspect – figure out how to operate in a time of crisis,” says Dipankar Gupta, sociology professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

A vendor sells newspapers featuring front page stories and photos ... 
A vendor sells newspapers featuring front page stories and photos from the attacks in Mumbai, India, Sunday Nov. 30, 2008.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

On the evening of Nov. 26, well-coordinated attacks against two five-star hotels, a hospital, a popular cafe, a railway station, and a Jewish center brought the financial capital of India to its knees, leaving at least 171 dead and more than 230 injured.

In the following days, critics say, many Indian journalists were overly dramatic, sensationalist, and quick to report live “exclusives” of unconfirmed rumors. Many say TV anchors, who are minor celebrities in India, were overwrought with emotion and were quick to blame Pakistan for the attacks.

“It’s high time we realize and accept that we are at fault,” said Shishir Joshi, editorial director of Mid-Day, a Mumbai newspaper. “We did well getting into the line of fire, but from an ethical point of view we screwed up big-time.”

Recognizing the missteps in coverage, the recently created National Broadcaster Association revealed a new set of rules for the industry last week. The guidelines ban broadcasting of footage that could reveal security operations and live contact with hostages or attackers.

The association, which represents many of the country’s top news channels, hammered out the new regulations after several meetings with government officials. At the same time, India’s Parliament is considering the creation of a broadcasting regulatory agency for private news channels.

Read the rest:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1224/p01s01-wosc.html

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Pakistan Warns India

Associated Press

Pakistan warned India on Thursday not to launch a strike against it and vowed to respond to any attack — a sign that the relationship between the two nuclear powers remains strained in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

Though the South Asian rivals have engaged in tit-for-tat accusations in recent weeks, both sides have repeatedly said they hope to avoid conflict. But India has not ruled out the use of force in response to the attacks, which it blames on a Pakistan-based militant group.

“We want peace, but should not be complacent about India,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in his hometown of Multan in central Pakistan. “We should hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since they were created in the bloody partition of the Indian subcontinent at independence from Britain in 1947.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani echoed Qureshi’s sentiments Thursday and urged the international community to pressure India to defuse the current tension.

He also repeated Pakistan’s demand that India provide evidence to support its claim that the 10 gunmen who killed at least 164 people in Mumbai last month were Pakistani and had links to the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Read the rest:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,472863,00.html

America’s Top Intelligence Officer In India for Terror Talks

December 22, 2008

A top US Intelligence official on Monday held series of meetings with Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and senior officials during when the progress in investigations into the Mumbai terror attacks was reviewed.

Director of National Intelligence John Michel McConnell, who flew into the Capital, is also believed to have met National Security Advisor MK Narayanan and discussed issues relating to evidence gathered so far in the probe in the 26/11 terror strikes, official sources said.

Hindustan Times
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The sources said McConnell had a 30-minute long meeting with the Union Home Minister during which the two sides touched upon the progress in the probe into the terror strikes at the country’s financial capital. US Ambassador David C Mulford was also present at the meeting.

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) is considered to be the most powerful intelligence official of the United States government under directs command and control of the US President and reports to him only.

The role of the DNI is to effectively integrate foreign, military and domestic intelligence in defence of the homeland and of the US’s interests abroad from its 16 spy agencies.

McConnell later met investigating officials including those from the US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who are probing the Mumbai attacks, the sources said.

The US Intelligence head also met India’s Intelligence chiefs and discussed the evidence gathered during the probe.

DNI came into existence after the audacious 9/11 attacks in the US. India is hoping to benefit from DNI’s experiences in countering terrorism while it was formulating the policies for a proposed National Investigating Agency, a bill for which was cleared by Parliament.

Related:
India terror group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the new Al Qaeda?

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