Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pakistan is a source of concern: Obama

WASHINGTON: Once again Pakistan resonates in the US presidential election campaign. This time it was the Democratic debate between Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama conducted by CNN in California’s Kodak Theatre on Thursday night.

Responding to a question on withdrawal of troops from Iraq, Senator Barack Obama commented that the foreign policy was being conducted in a wrong way and was not focused. In that context he commented that some countries like Pakistan are a source of concern.
(Rana Fawad)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Nawaz plan C, Fazl plan D: Prof Mumtaz

Washington: (from left to right) Prof Dr Shdireen Hunter, Prof Dr Marvin
Weinbaum, and Prof Dr Mumtaz Ahmad during a disucssion at the
George Town University on Wednesday
-- (Photo by Rana Fawad)

By Rana Fawad

WASHINGTON: The late Benazir Bhutto was the plan B of the US strategy in Pakistan and after her assassination Nawaz Sharif could be the plan C and don’t be surprised if Maulana Fazl ur Rehman emerges as the plan D.

This was stated by Prof Dr Mumtaz Ahmad of Hampton University during a discussion on “Recent Events in Pakistan and Their Implications” organized by the Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding of Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University on Wednesday. The other key speaker was Professor Dr Marvin Weinbaum, Resident Scholar at The Middle East Institute. Prof Dr Shireen Hunter conducted the proceedings on this occasion.

Analyzing the political situation in Pakistan, Prof Mumtaz told the audience that he won't be surprised if Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam leader Fazl ur Rehman is brought into the power picture as plan D. He added that Fazl ur Rehman has distanced himself from the Afghan Taliban, has friendly ties with the Indians through Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, does not approve of the Kashmiri struggle as jihad, could talk to the religious elements using his influence in the troubled parts of the tribal areas, and on top of that, he is purchase-able.

Referring to Nawaz Sharif's deportation in September 2007, Prof Mumtaz told the audience that even the FIA director was kept under dark about real destination of Nawaz Sharif's plane. He said the FIA director was told that Nawaz Sharif would be taken to Karachi and that's what he told Nawaz Sharif when he escorted him to the plane. The professor added that after the plane took off, the FIA director was informed the plane was going to Jeddah.

As for the Feb 18 elections in Pakistan, the professor said the world should not be surprised if the President Musharraf's party, Pakistan Muslim League (Q), secures half of the 55 per cent National Assembly seats in the Punjab province. He said one reason was that many of the party tickets holders of PML-Q belonged to the influential families that had their own vote banks in the respective areas.

Another reason, the professor mentioned, is the fact that the Punjab government led by Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi did a lot of development work in the province and some sectors experienced significant salary raise. He said for instance the school teachers in the Punjab received almost 100 per cent raise in their salaries.

Indian movies in Pakistan

WASHINGTON: The Senate’s committee on Culture, Sports, Youth Affairs and Tourism in Pakistan has recommended to end the four-decade old ban on showing the Indian movies in Pakistan.

According to The New York Times, the committee issued a statement on Tuesday saying, “The ban has practically become ineffective as these are being viewed uncensored in almost every household on cable TV as well as CDs and DVDs, necessitating a reappraisal to deal with the issue rationally.”

The Indian films were banned in Pakistan after the 1965 war between India and Pakistan. However, three movies (Mughl-e-Azam, Taj Mahal and Sohni Mahinwal) were given special permission tduring that ban.

The Pakistani cinema owners have lobbied hard to get the ban lifted while the opponents argue that it would prove to be the deadly blow for the struggling film industry in Pakistan.
(Rana Fawad)

Deposed Top Judge Assails Musharraf

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan's deposed chief justice sharply criticized President Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday, calling him an "extremist general" for firing 60 judges and keeping his family _ including his disabled 7-year-old son _ under house arrest for three months.(The Washington Post)

For Journalists in Pakistan, That's the Way It Is

By Nicholas Schmidle
If journalism is the 'first rough draft of history,' then Pakistan's history is suffering. (The Washington Post)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

U.S. Sees Some Fraud Likely In Pakistan Election

By REUTERS WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior U.S. diplomat said on Tuesday some fraud was to be expected in Pakistan's elections on February 18 but the United States was working hard to ensure a poll that is "as free and fair as possible." (The New York Times)

US: Pakistan Working on Election Rules

WASHINGTON -- A senior Bush administration official said Tuesday that the United States is pushing Pakistan to fix "serious distortions" ahead of Feb. 18 parliamentary elections.(The Washington Post)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Israeli Officials: Musharraf Met Barak

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS JERUSALEM (AP) -- Pakistan's president held a rare and secret meeting with Israel's defense minister in a Paris hotel last week, and the Iranian nuclear program figured high on the agenda, Israeli defense officials said Monday. (The New York Times)

U.S. diplomat dies in Pakistan; suicide suspected

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani authorities found the body of a U.S. diplomat with a bullet wound in his head at his home in Islamabad on Monday and were investigating a suspected case of suicide, police and the Interior Minister said. (The Washington Post)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pakistan Shuns C.I.A. Buildup Sought by U.S.

By ERIC SCHMITT and DAVID E. SANGER Pakistan’s president dismissed proposals to allow the U.S. greater latitude in territories where militants are active. (The New York Times)

US Shift Seen to Pakistan, Afghanistan

WASHINGTON -- In a shift with profound implications, the Bush administration is attempting to re-energize its terrorism-fighting war efforts in Afghanistan, the original target of a post-Sept. 11 offensive. The U.S. also is refocusing on Pakistan, where a regenerating al-Qaida is posing fresh... (The Washington Post)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pakistan Rebuffs Secret U.S. Plea for C.I.A. Buildup

By ERIC SCHMITT and DAVID E. SANGER President Pervez Musharraf dismissed proposals to allow the United States greater latitude to operate in tribal territories where militants are active, officials said. (The New York Times)

Top Agents in Secret Trip to Pakistan

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON (AP) -- The top two U.S. intelligence officials made a secret visit to Pakistan in early January to seek permission from President Pervez Musharraf for greater involvement of American forces in trying to ferret out al-Qaida and other militant groups active in the tribal regions along the Afghanistan border, a senior U.S. official said. (The New York Times)

Pakistan Says Nuclear Assets Are Safe

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan's nuclear weapons are safe from Taliban and al-Qaida militants because of the military's stringent security system and a political climate that precludes a takeover by religious extremists, a top official said Saturday.(The Washington Post)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Brown Should Press Musharraf on Rights: HRW

Free Elections Require Restoration of Independent Judiciary

(London, January 26, 2008) – British Prime Minister Gordon Brown should tell visiting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf that free and fair elections will be impossible without the full restoration of Pakistan’s judiciary, Human Rights Watch said today.

Musharraf, in the United Kingdom on the last leg of his first foreign trip since the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on December 27, is scheduled to meet Brown on Monday.

“The British government has long ignored Musharraf’s systematic political repression in exchange for dubious cooperation in the ‘war on terror,’ and hollow promises on free and fair elections,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Prime Minister Brown should tell President Musharraf that the UK will no longer tolerate his abusive policies.”

On November 3, 2007 Musharraf suspended Pakistan’s constitution, fired much of the country’s senior judiciary and arrested thousands of opponents, most of whom were eventually released because of international pressure. Still under house arrest, however, are the fired chief justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, five colleagues and leading lawyers. While the November state of emergency has been lifted, most of its repressive provisions are still in force under the “restored” constitution.

In the lead-up to the February 18 elections, Human Rights Watch has investigated extensive media censorship, disruption of opposition party activities, bias among election officials and pre-poll rigging in favor of Musharraf-backed candidates.

“An independent judiciary is vital for people to have an avenue to contest the results of this election conducted in an environment of bias and intimidation,’’ said Adams.

Human Rights Watch urged Brown to press Musharraf to rescind these measures, seek an independent election commission and a neutral caretaker government to oversee elections.

“Brown should tell Musharraf to immediately release the detained judges and lawyers,” said Adams. “The UK’s notable failure to press for the reinstatement of an independent judiciary is alienating Pakistan’s people at Britain’s expense.”


The Afghan President discusses the Taliban, Iran and opium eradication with Newsweek-Washington Post's Lally Weymouth. (The Washington Post)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

US Urged to Push for Reforms in Pakistan

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON (AP) -- Cricket legend and Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan urged the United States Thursday to insist that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf reinstate an independent judiciary. (The New York Times)

U.S. Troops 'Ready' to Aid Pakistan

By Ann Scott Tyson
The Pentagon is "ready, willing and able" to send U.S. troops to conduct joint combat operations with Pakistan's military against al-Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan's tribal areas, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said yesterday. (The Washington Post)

Musharraf to West: 'We have our own brains'

DAVOS, Switzerland (CNN) -- Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf lashed out Thursday at what he called Western "intellectual arrogance" toward his country, angrily dismissing claims that rising unpopularity has undermined his authority. (

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Supporters at Home and Abroad Backing Away From Musharraf

By John Ward Anderson and Robin Wright
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Jan. 23 -- On the eve of critical elections in Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf is increasingly losing support from major constituencies, including his own traditional military base, amid growing questions in both Pakistan and the United States about his ability to govern. (The Washington Post)

Pakistan's Sharif Says Danger Hinders Vote Campaign

By REUTERS ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's perilous security situation is hindering campaigning for February 18 elections with politicians putting their lives at risk when they go out to seek votes, opposition leader Nawaz Sharif said on Wednesday. (The New York Times)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

In Pakistan, TV Network Loses Bite in Its Return

By SALMAN MASOOD Pakistan’s most popular private television news channel was allowed to resume broadcasts within Pakistan on Monday, ending a blackout that had lasted more than two months. (The New York Times)

Still Wrong in Afghanistan

By Richard Holbrooke
U.S. efforts at aerial eradication of poppy fields in Afghanistan could succeed at ridding the landscape of allies. (The Washington Post)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Banned Pakistani TV network resumes service in government deal

By Chris Brummitt
The Associated Press

January 21 2008, 12:51 PM EST

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan's most popular private television network went back on the air today after signing a government code of conduct that critics say is muzzling independent media before parliamentary elections next month.(Baltimore Sun)

Musharraf Trip Shadowed by Troubles at Home

By JANE PERLEZ President Pervez Musharraf is touring European capitals as his support in Pakistan has fallen to new lows. (The New York Times)

Looking Beyond Feudal Politics in Pakistan

By John Ward Anderson
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- For Ishaq Khan Khakwani, a member of Pakistan's National Assembly, the sooner people like him are out of a job, the better. (The Washington Post)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pakistani Military Attacks Militants

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- The Pakistani military pounded an extremist stronghold Sunday near the Afghan border where a rebel leader blamed for the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is believed to be hiding, officials and witnesses said. (The Washington Post)

Pakistan Forces Press Attack on Militant Stronghold

By REUTERS ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan villagers said army helicopter gunships launched strikes on Sunday in an area regarded as a stronghold of a Taliban commander linked with the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. (The New York Times)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pakistan Authorities Arrest Two Over Bhutto Plot

By REUTERS PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani security agents have arrested a youth who said he had been trained as a suicide bomber to kill opposition leader Benazir Bhutto had other militants failed to kill her, in the first arrests in the case, a security official said. (The New York Times)

Pakistan Turmoil Draws Muted Concern in India

By Emily Wax
NEW DELHI, Jan. 18 -- They have almost always been mentioned in the same breath: India and Pakistan. For decades, the two countries have been inextricably tied in politics and in war. (The Washington Post)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Pakistan Border Clash Kills Militants

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) -- Dozens of Islamic militants died in clashes with Pakistani troops Friday, the army said, amid reports that government forces had launched an operation to clear the area of fighters who overran military positions near the Afghan border. (The New York Times)

Reduced by $2.5 Million!

By Renae Merle
For many neighbors, there is nothing more fascinating than the most expensive house on the block. Does it have a movie theater? Do servants pop out of closets to take your coat? Is your own house cuter after all? (RThe Washington Post)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Frontier Insurgency Spills Into a Pakistani City

Escalating political tension has made Peshawar a target of Islamic militants, who have encroached from nearby tribal areas. (The New York Times)

CIA Places Blame for Bhutto Assassination

By Joby Warrick
The CIA has concluded that members of al-Qaeda and allies of Pakistani tribal leader Baitullah Mehsud were responsible for last month's assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and that they also stand behind a new wave of violence threatening that country's stability, the... (The Washington Post)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 U.S. Urged to Prevent Election Rigging In Pakistan

By REUTERS WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. policymakers must keep pressure on President Pervez Musharraf to hold fair elections in Pakistan next month or risk deeper chaos in the nuclear-armed country, an important ally in Washington's anti-terror campaign, experts told Congress on Wednesday. (The New York Times)

Admiral: Pakistan OKs Bigger U.S. Role

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Pakistan is taking a more welcoming view of U.S. suggestions for using American troops to train and advise its own forces in the fight against anti-government extremists, the commander of U.S. forces in that region said Wednesday.(The Washington Post)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Beating extremists by building schools

January 15 2008

Pakistan has made news lately as the world's most dangerous country: a nuclear-armed state that has become a base for al-Qaida, the Taliban and other fanatic Islamists. But on my trip there last month, I saw a route out of this trap - if Pakistan's government and the West would only seize it. (Baltimore Sun)

Bhutto's Last Day, in Keeping With Her Driven Life

By Griff Witte and Emily Wax
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan -- Gripping the podium with both hands, Benazir Bhutto spoke in a shout that filled the cavernous park and echoed into the streets beyond. (The Washington Post)

Monday, January 14, 2008 Militants Escape Control of Pakistan, Officials Say

Pakistan’s premier military intelligence agency has lost control of some of the networks of Pakistani militants it has nurtured since the 1980s. Pakistan Opposition Attacks Musharraf

Pakistan Opposition Attacks Musharraf
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif accused Pakistan's president Monday of blindly following America and ordering anti-terror operations that have left the country ''drowned in blood.''.

Many Pakistanis See Leader As Having Reigned Too Long

By John Ward Anderson
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- When he grabbed power in a military coup eight years ago, then-Gen. Pervez Musharraf was cheered here for rescuing Pakistan from corrupt and incompetent politicians who had forestalled democracy and dragged the country to the brink of bankruptcy. Surveys showed an astonishi...(The Washington Post)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pakistan Poll Shows Suspicion of Leaders

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Nearly half of Pakistanis surveyed suspect that government agencies or government-linked politicians killed Benazir Bhutto, according to an opinion poll, highlighting popular mistrust in the country's U.S.-allied president ahead of elections next month. (The Washington Post)

Saturday, January 12, 2008 Musharraf Rejects U.N. Inquiry on Bhutto

Musharraf Rejects U.N. Inquiry on Bhutto
By REUTERS PARIS (Reuters) - Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf ruled out a U.N. inquiry into the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, as demanded by her party, saying that Pakistan should not be compared to Lebanon.

Why Al-Qaeda Is Losing

By Gary Anderson
We need to use al-Qaeda's murder of Muslims as part of our propoganda war. (The Washington Post)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Musharraf open to power sharing

By David R. Sands
Pakistani Ambassador Mahmud Ali Durrani says that the party allied with President Musharraf are willing to work with other parties to form a government after parliamentary elections next month that are crucial to the U.S.'s war on terror. (The Washington Times)

Pakistani Women's Flawed Icon

By Emily Wax
LAHORE, Pakistan -- Wrapped in tattered wool blankets, Bashiran and her neighbors trekked for three hours from their dusty rural villages to wait amid the polished offices and whirring computers in a bank here in Lahore, one of the many branches set up across Pakistan by former prime minister Ben... (The Washington Post)

Thursday, January 10, 2008 Senate Leader Wants Bush to Pressure Pakistan

Senate Leader Wants Bush to Pressure Pakistan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday urged President George W. Bush to consider cutting aid to Pakistan unless it restores full civil rights and does more to fight terrorism.

Pakistan warns against unilateral action on rebels

By Sanjeev Miglani
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said any unilateral action by U.S.-led coalition forces against militants in the border region with Afghanistan will be regarded as an invasion, a newspaper reported on Friday. (The Washington Post)

Memorial for Benazir

LONDON: Members of the Pakistani community will hold a memorial for Benazir on 15th January at the Khaleli Lecture Theatre of the School of Oriental and African Studies from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.

The speakers of the event include M Zia-ud-din (Dawn newspaper), Wajid Shamas ul Hasan (Pakistan People’s Party), Victoria Schofield (journalist and personal friend of Benazir), and Amin Mughal (a Pakistani academic).

Following the presentations the house will be open for questions and answers. Entrance will be free on this occasion.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Freedom pledged for Bhutto inquiry

Pakistan government vows not to interfere

Associated Press

January 9 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- President Pervez Musharraf told British forensic experts yesterday that they have a free hand in investigating the circumstances surrounding the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, a government official said.

The complete article can be viewed at:,0,992402.story

Taliban Commander Emerges As Pakistan's 'Biggest Problem'

By Imtiaz Ali and Craig Whitlock
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Jan. 9 -- Even as his reputation has grown more menacing and his militia more powerful, the Taliban commander accused of ordering the death of Benazir Bhutto has shrouded himself in mystery. (The Washington Post)

US nomination process: Polls out, unpredictiblity in

WASHINGTON: As the US media and pollsters are climbing out of the debris as a result of Sen. Hillary Clinton's stunning vcitory over Sen. Barack Obama for Democratic presidential nomination in New Hampshire, some bookies have become credible.

The morning after tv coverage of the primary result that gave Hillary a three digit lead instead of what the media and polls had predicted to be a double digit defeat, polls for the coming primaries totally vanished from the news, at least for now.
(Rana Fawad)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

How safe is Pakistan's nuclear weapons arsenal?

January 8 2008

Ever since 9/11, the nightmare scenario for American security has been the possibility that terrorists could obtain nuclear weapons.

The complete article can be viewed at:,0,2929803.story

Monday, January 7, 2008 In Musharraf's Shadow, a New Hope for Pakistan Rises

In Musharraf's Shadow, a New Hope for Pakistan Rises
By DAVID ROHDE and CARLOTTA GALL Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who replaced Pervez Musharraf as Pakistan’s army chief, has raised hopes among U.S. officials that he could become a new force for stability.

Strains Intensify in Pakistan's Ethnic Patchwork

By Griff Witte
KARACHI, Pakistan -- To Khaled Chema, an unemployed 32-year-old living in a sprawling slum of this mega-city by the sea, Benazir Bhutto wasn't assassinated because she opposed extremism and advocated democracy. She was killed because, like him, she was a Sindhi. (The Washington Post)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Work with Pakistan to secure nuclear weapons: US analyst

This is the Third Part of a report on “The Crisis in Pakistan and American Policy” - an event held under the auspices of a Washington-based think-tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on February 2 (Wednesday). The discussants included Husain Haqqani (Associate Professor of International Relations at Boston University), Thomas Donnelly (AEI), Danielle Pletka (AEI), and Michael O'Hanlon (Brookings Institute) while Frederick Kagan moderated the proceedings.

By Rana Fawad

WASHINGTON: Illustrating the US military options in Pakistan, Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institute, he said that in case of an extreme situation in which Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are at risk of being taken by the wrong people, any unilateral measure by the US or international community should not be the answer.

He clarified that his analysis is only for the worst case scenario which is highly unlikely to occur. He explained that Pakistan has a population of 160 million people, six times the population of Iraq.

He said in case of Pakistan’s collapse, a military operation would require two million troops to protect the people and nuclear weapons. “In other words it’s not an option. We don’t have two million people in the entire US armed force,” he added.

O’Hanlon mentioned that the US had only one million people in the entire army including every reservist. He commented that Pakistan’s terrain and the armed forces’ commitment in Afghanistan and Iraq would make a military option very difficult.

He also pointed out that the basic logistics of moving even a few hundred people across the ocean and into a place where they could help restore the order mean several months time would have lapsed which means any crisis would have able to run its and get worse without any role for the international community.

He argued that any such intervention to help stabilize the situation in certain areas would have to be at Pakistan’s invitation and expressed desire and need for help being acknowledged. He also emphasized that such an effort has to be an international coalition due to anti-American sentiments in Pakistan.

He rejected the notion of unilateral military option and advocated for a joint attempt in association with the major element in the Pakistani government whoever may represent the government at that given moment of time. He said that the US would have to work with the Pakistanis to solve whatever crisis took shape down the road.

As for the Pakistani nuclear weapons, he told the audience that Pakistan had almost 50 nuclear weapons usually weighing a few hundred kilograms each and “it’s hard to cart them around but it’s not hard to drive them around in small vehicles and therefore it’s very easy to hide them.”

O’Hanlon opined that in case of any military action the Pakistani government could hide those weapons or distribute which would not be a good scenario to have. He suggested that the best option is to work closely with the Pakistani government in reinforcing the safety measures around those nuclear warheads. “Ideally, and I think this is the case, fissile material is separate from the delivery vehicle, may be even separate from the rest of the bomb,” he added.

He said there were around half a dozen sites according to different accounts and it was a realistic balance to have instead of keeping the nuclear capability at one place.
(To be continued)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

U.S. Relying on Two in People's Party to Help Stabilize Pakistan

By Robin Wright and Griff Witte
With the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the Bush administration is now depending on two politicians -- one accused in the 1990s of being a crook and the other still viewed as almost powerless -- to help prop up President Pervez Musharraf and stabilize volatile Pakistan, according to U.S. offici... (The Washington Post) For Now, Musharraf Has Muzzled Legal Critics in Pakistan

For Now, Musharraf Has Muzzled Legal Critics in Pakistan
For speaking out against President Pervez Musharraf, one lawyer spent three weeks in jail and another is under house arrest in Lahore. None of these leaders can talk to one another.

Friday, January 4, 2008

American Enterprise Institute Event (Part-II)

Pakistan needs a strong civilian rule: Haqqani

By Rana Fawad

WASHINGTON: Referring to the confusion the tribal people were faced with during and after the jihad, Haqqani told the audience that once he had a chance to visit a tribal elder who told him that a few years ago the Pakistani officials came to him and said those guys were mujahidin (holy warriors) so protect them, look after them.

That tribal elder married his daughter to one of those mujahideen and being the son-in-law, he became a part and parcel of the tribe. A few years later, the same officials went to that tribal elder and told him that the Americans were telling them that now those guys were terrorists, therefore, the government would not take any responsibility.

Haqqani said Benazir Bhutto’s real credit was that she was the first Pakistani leader since 9/11 to go to the people and say that terrorism was a threat to Pakistan. “Forget about all other things that are being said: feudal, tribal, Benazir Bhutto and her husband’s alleged corruption, etc. On the issue of terrorism she had the courage to speak out to crowds of the Pakistanis and tell them terrorism is our problem. We have to deal with it,” he added.

He was of the view that so far Musharraf’s biggest weakening had been that he was telling the Pakistanis he was under a lot of pressure from the Americans to deal with it. “That doesn’t mobilize the Pakistani public against the terrorists. That creates the problem as if terrorists wouldn’t be terrorists, they are just nice guys or old jihadis who want to do something for Islam,” he added.

Haqqani explained that those tribal people would not surrender those guys or turn in any information about Osama bin Laden despite the offers of millions of dollars as a reward because that money does not matter to them but the tribal loyalty does.

He told the audience that the people didn’t realize the loyalty factor. He said for instance one of Ayman al Zawahri’s wives belonged to a local tribe and that tribe was going to protect him as their son-in-law.

Haqqani said no doubt being the superpower of the world the US had to deal with all kinds of people, however, it should not delude itself that those were good guys and that’s what was happening in Musharraf’s case.

Haqqani mentioned that the emphasis of the US policy in relation to Pakistan had been supporting the Pakistan military and the intelligence services. He mentioned, “Since 1954, Pakistan has received something like 22 billion dollars in US economic and military assistance. Almost 17.7 billion dollars during this period have gone to the military regimes in Pakistan and only 3.4 billion dollars have gone to the civilian regimes.”

He said that the calculation would conclude the US subsidized the Pakistani military rules to the tune of 600 million dollars per year and provided only 181 million dollars under the civilian rules.

He clarified that he was not making any case for more US aid for civilian rules but the discussion was about the understanding why the military and intelligence services in Pakistan had so much control over Pakistan. Haqqani said as far as the question ‘who controlled Pakistan’ was concerned, the answer was ‘the military and intelligence agencies controlled Pakistan to the extent they could’ and now the jihadis and the extremists were controlling certain parts where the military and intelligence agencies didn’t have control.

“What Pakistan needs is a strong military that does not run covert operations and is not out of control. A strong military that is under civilian control,” he commented. Referring to Pakistan’s politics, he said it still had a mainstream and Benazir Bhutto as well as Nawaz Sharif represented that mainstream.

He said if some people thought those two Pakistani leaders were divisive, he would say they were not worse than the Democrats and Republicans of this country. As for Benazir’s and Nawaz Sharif’s alleged corruption, Haqqani stated that it should not be anybody’s business in the US to start mentioning their corruption and we even never find out about Musharraf’s and the military’s corruption because they keep things closer to their chest and they don’t allow anybody to reveal their corruption.

He commented that the real issue is Pakistan’s security and that the country does not remain a safe haven for the jihadis and for that Pakistan needs a strong civilian government with control over the military as well as intelligence agencies.

He emphasized that Pakistan needed to break away from the jihadi past and enter the future of modernity. “Can that happen? Absolutely,” he predicted.

Haqqani believed that the Pakistan army did not want a break with the US. He added that the US aid was important to the Pakistan military and there were people in the military who would rather have the US assistance than not have it. “So, instead of just pandering to them, if the US actually tells them that we are on to what you do and believe some of the things what some of the Pakistani civilians say, instead of being cynical about all of us, then I think there is hope,” he commented.

Criticizing the US approach towards Pervez Musharraf, Haqqani suggested that the US should ask critical questions instead of issuing statements showing faith in Musharraf. He said the question was why Musharraf was an American ally and termed him a flawed ally.’ He concluded his remarks saying, “It’s about time to point out how flawed the military intelligence complex that runs Pakistan is.”
(To be continued)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

After Bhutto's Death, Sharif Steps Forward

By Emily Wax and Imtiaz Ali
LAHORE, Pakistan, Jan. 3 -- In the polished marble foyer of his mansion, former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif keeps two ferocious-looking stuffed lions. They were purchased in Africa, and they greet visitors with piercing eyes. (The Washington Post)

Bhutto murder investigation resonates in Iowa vote

By Rana Fawad

WASHINGTON: The United States has lost credibility internationally as Pakistan requested the British Scotland Yard instead of CIA or FBI to investigate Bhutto’s assassination.

This pitch was made by Joe Biden’s representative to the nonviable caucus members during a Democratic caucus in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday evening telecast live by

Biden’s representative said his (Biden’s) experience in foreign policy will help restore the US credibility world over.

According to the Democratic caucus process, the first round determines which candidates make it to the threshold of 15 percent voter required to qualify for the second round. Candidates securing less than 15 percent in the first round are eliminated and their respective voters become nonviable and are asked to join other candidates with more than 15 percent votes.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Musharraf milking US through terrorism threat: Haqqani

By Rana Fawad

WASHINGTON: It is in Musharraf’s interest to keep propping up the Islamists threat to milk the US for more and more aid otherwise in a free and fair election the people of Pakistan would vote either for Ms Bhutto’s left-wing People’s Party or Nawaz Sharif’s right-wing Muslim League.

This was commented by Husain Haqqani, Associate Professor of International Relations at Boston University, during a discussion titled “The Crisis in Pakistan and American Policy” held under the auspices of a Washington-based think-tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on Wednesday. Other discussants included Thomas Donnelly (AEI), Danielle Pletka (AEI), and Michael O'Hanlon (Brookings Institute) while Frederick Kagan moderated the proceedings.

Haqqani pointed out that despite the massive doses of US aid, 65 million people living below the poverty line will not benefit because that assistance will only make the Pakistan military stronger.

Referring to the historical background of the Pakistani military’s relationship with the US, he told the audience, “In 1950s, the Pakistan military came to Washington and said we will be your critical allies in the cold war and you can have your bases in Pakistan. Then they wriggled out of this saying people don’t like the United States.”

He mentioned that during the war against Soviets the Pakistani military intelligence services again received a large amount of aid and we all know that a lot of that aid was diverted to the Pakistan military’s obsessive compulsion vis a vis India and that’s where the jihad became more significant.

Haqqani said before the anti-Soviet jihad, Pakistan’s society as a whole was a conservative, tribal, possibly feudal society. “But that doesn’t matter as far as the American policy is concerned,” he said and added, “Our purpose should not be or the US policy should not be about feudalism and tribalism. The societies evolve themselves like India has evolved pretty well with difficulties with its society’s complications.”

He opined that the Pakistani society could have evolved, too, but a lot of people in Washington since the 1950s have thought the Pakistan’s military as Pakistan’s savior. Haqqani added Musharraf, who actually says ‘I’m indispensable for Pakistan,’ has a serious savior complex and exaggerated ego.

Elaborating on the current crisis, he said that terrorism had increased in Pakistan and Ms Bhutto was the latest victim of the terrorism right in the heart of the garrison city of Rawalpindi, not very far from the General Headquarters of the Pakistani military.

Referring to the trust deficit President Pervez Musharraf is facing in the country, Haqqani asked if the people were not ready to trust his government with as simple a task as the investigation of the country’s most popular leader Benazir Bhutto, how come that government be trusted in dealing with the terrorist threat. He said the people suspect the government more than they suspect the terrorists. He added that he was not sure that suspicion was true or not but the mere fact that it exists, creates the problem.

He pointed out that the trust deficit is a problem because “Everybody in Pakistan who has disagreed with Pakistan’s military intelligence services at some point or another is being either arrested, jailed, imprisoned, tortured, blackmailed or repressed in some other ways.”

He commented that the opinion of civilian Pakistanis about the military intelligence complex cannot be the same as those of the visiting generals and intelligence officers who meet these guys in ornate meeting rooms.

Haqqani claimed that the number of terrorist deaths in Pakistan during 2006 was 1,471, while in 2005 the number was only 648 and now for 2007 the figure is something like 2,300. “So, if the proof of the pudding is in the eating, well, with due respect, this pudding doesn’t taste too well. Terrorism continues to increase with the quantum of eight being increased,” he said.

Talking about the reasons why is it happening, Haqqani explicated that the Pakistan’s military and intelligence services used the jihadis as a force multiplier in an attempt to compete with India. “That was the idea. So, the jihadi groups were essentially a means of trying to win Kashmir without actually going directly to war with India,” he added.

As for Afghanistan, Haqqani commented it was Pakistan’s backyard and Pakistan wanted Afghanistan for strategic depth. He said, the Taliban was a realpolitik and wasn’t an ideological move.

He said Musharraf considered the Taliban important for Pakistan, but after 9/11 he realized he didn’t want to have trouble with the US so he changed the paradigm somewhat but throughout 2002 and 2003 there was evidence that the Taliban were regrouping, and he himself pointed out in his articles at that time.

Haqqani pointed out that by 2005 the Taliban had regrouped and started becoming a problem for Afghanistan and they were attacking the Pakistani army as well. He said the problem would exist unless the Pakistani army decided to shut down all the jihadi operations that Pakistan itself had supported.
(To be continued)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Most in Pakistan refuse to see the danger of Islamist expansion

January 1 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- On Friday, the day of Benazir Bhutto's burial in her ancestral village, Pakistanis were still struggling to grasp that she was dead.

The complete article can be viewed at:,0,7718518.story Former PM Now Leads Pakistan Opposition

Former PM Now Leads Pakistan Opposition By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) -- In his two turns as prime minister in the 1990s, Nawaz Sharif tried to endear himself to Pakistan's people with populist policies and did little to please the United States and other foreign allies. He might yet get the chance to repeat that role.