Category Archives: Pakistan

Drones And Suicide Bombs In Central Park: McChrystal

“Terrorist groups are a symptom of wider problems.”
By Special Correspondent
March 02, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – “Pakistan Today” – WASHINGTON – Retired US general Stanley McChrystal has termed drone operations a “covert fix for a complex problem,” and warned against over-dependence on the use of technology in the fight against militants on foreign soils.
He also told Foreign Affairs magazine in an extensive interview that as 2014 NATO drawdown approaches, Pakistan is rolling up the welcome mat for Afghan militants, who fuelled insurgency in Afghanistan. McChrystal, who resigned after a Rolling Stone article in 2010 and served as top commander of US and ISAF forces in Afghanistan, said al-Qaeda militant organization “is very much weakened, although clearly not gone.”
“The greatest al Qaeda threat, arguably, may not be from western Pakistan in the next few years, as it has been, but it might be from places such as Mali and elsewhere that are struggling to maintain control of their terrain.”
Asked how US could fight al-Qaeda in places like Mali and Yemen, McChrystal called drone strikes as problematic since their use is not a strategy in itself but a short-term tactic.
“Well, you can’t solve all of them. You certainly don’t want to put Western forces in all of these countries. The initial reaction that says, “We will simply operate by drone strikes” is also problematic, because the inhabitants of that area and the world have significant problems watching Western forces, particularly Americans, conduct drone strikes inside the terrain of another country. So that’s got to be done very carefully, on occasion. It’s not a strategy in itself; it’s a short-term tactic.”
He opposed application of small-scale warfare universally and said a successful counterinsurgency campaign needed a comprehensive approach.
While use of drone strikes may not carry much risk for the U.S., at the receiving end such operations feel like war.
“I question its universal validity. If you go back to the British tactics on the North-West Frontier, the “butcher and bolt” tactics, where they would burn an area and punish the people and say, “Don’t do that anymore,” and simultaneously offer a stipend to the leader while saying, “If you will remain friendly for a period of time, we’ll pay you” — that approach worked for a fair amount of time. It managed problems on their periphery. But it certainly didn’t solve the problems.
“The tactics that we developed do work, but they don’t produce decisive effects absent other, complementary activities. We did an awful lot of capturing and killing in Iraq for several years before it started to have a real effect, and that came only when we were partnered with an effective counterinsurgency approach.
“Just the strike part of it can never do more than keep an enemy at bay. And although to the United States, a drone strike seems to have very little risk and very little pain, at the receiving end, it feels like war. Americans have got to understand that. If we were to use our technological capabilities carelessly — I don’t think we do, but there’s always the danger that you will — then we should not be upset when someone responds with their equivalent, which is a suicide bomb in Central Park, because that’s what they can respond with.”
When suggested that the success of his efforts in Iraq led to an overemphasis on the use of direct action by Special Forces, raids and drone attacks and targeted killings, rather than indirect action, such as training and building local capacity, McChrystal argued using such actions in all situations is dangerous. He compared use of such operations in all situations like a golfer’s dependence on a particular driver club throughout the golf course.
“That’s the danger of special operating forces. You get this sense that it is satisfying, it’s clean, it’s low risk, it’s the cure for most ills. That’s why many new presidents are initially enamored with the Central Intelligence Agency, because they are offered a covert fix for a complex problem. But if you go back in history, I can’t find a covert fix that solved a problem long term. There were some necessary covert actions, but there’s no “easy button” for some of these problems. That’s the danger of interpreting what we did in Iraq as being the panacea for future war. It’s not.”

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US-Saudi Funded Terrorists Sowing Chaos in Pakistan

Baluchistan, Pakistan – long target of Western geopolitical interests, terror wave coincides with Gwadar Port handover to China.

By Tony Cartalucci

February 22, 2013 “Information Clearing House” –  Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s southwest Baluchistan province, bordering both US-occupied Afghanistan as well as Iran, was the site of a grisly market bombing that has killed over 80 people. According to reports, the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility for the attack. Billed as a “Sunni extremist group,” it instead fits the pattern of global terrorism sponsored by the US, Israel, and their Arab partners Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The terrorist Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group was in fact created, according to the BBC, to counter Iran’s Islamic Revolution in the 1980’s, and is still active today. Considering the openly admitted US-Israeli-Saudi plot to use Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups across the Middle East to counter Iran’s influence, it begs the question whether these same interests are funding terrorism in Pakistan to not only counter Iranian-sympathetic Pakistani communities, but to undermine and destabilize Pakistan itself.

The US-Saudi Global Terror Network 

While the United States is close allies with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, it is well established that the chief financier of extremist militant groups for the past 3 decades, including Al Qaeda, are in fact Saudi Arabia and Qatar. While Qatari state-owned propaganda like Al Jazeera apply a veneer of progressive pro-democracy to its narratives, Qatar itself is involved in arming, funding, and even providing direct military support for sectarian extremists from northern Mali, to Libya, to Syria and beyond. 

France 24’s report “Is Qatar fuelling the crisis in north Mali?” provides a useful vignette of Saudi-Qatari terror sponsorship, stating:
 

“The MNLA [secular Tuareg separatists], al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and MUJAO [movement for unity and Jihad in West Africa] have all received cash from Doha.”

A month later Sadou Diallo, the mayor of the north Malian city of Gao [which had fallen to the Islamists] told RTL radio: “The French government knows perfectly well who is supporting these terrorists. Qatar, for example, continues to send so-called aid and food every day to the airports of Gao and Timbuktu.”

The report also stated: 
 
“Qatar has an established a network of institutions it funds in Mali, including madrassas, schools and charities that it has been funding from the 1980s,” he wrote, adding that Qatar would be expecting a return on this investment.

“Mali has huge oil and gas potential and it needs help developing its infrastructure,” he said. “Qatar is well placed to help, and could also, on the back of good relations with an Islamist-ruled north Mali, exploit rich gold and uranium deposits in the country.”

These institutions are present not only in Mali, but around the world, and provide a nearly inexhaustible supply of militants for both the Persian Gulf monarchies and their Western allies to use both as a perpetual casus belli to invade and occupy foreign nations such as Mali and Afghanistan, as well as a sizable, persistent mercenary force, as seen in Libya and Syria. Such institutions jointly run by Western intelligence agencies across Europe and in America, fuel domestic fear-mongering and the resulting security state that allows Western governments to more closely control their populations as they pursue reckless, unpopular policies at home and abroad.

Since Saudi-Qatari geopolitical interests are entwined with Anglo-American interests, both the “investment” and “return on this investment” are clearly part of a joint venture. France’s involvement in Mali has demonstrably failed to curb such extremists, has instead, predictably left the nation occupied by Western interests while driving terrorists further north into the real target, Algeria.

Additionally, it should be noted, that France in particular, played a leading role along side Qatar and Saudi Arabia in handing Libya over to these very same extremists. French politicians were in Benghazi shaking hands with militants they would be “fighting” in the near future in northern Mali.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is Part of US-Saudi Terror Network 

In terms of Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, as well as the infamous Lashkar-e-Taiba that carried out the 2008 Mumbai, India attack killing over 160, both are affiliates of Al Qaeda, and both have been linked financially, directly to Saudi Arabia. In the Guardian’s article, “WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists,” the US State Department even acknowledges that Saudi Arabia is indeed funding terrorism in Pakistan: 
 

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton.

“More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups,” says a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state. Her memo urged US diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” she said.

Three other Arab countries are listed as sources of militant money: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has also been financially linked to the Persian Gulf monarchies. Stanford University’s “Mapping Militant Organizations: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi,” states under “External Influences:”
 
LeJ has received money from several Persian Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates[25] These countries funded LeJ and other Sunni militant groups primarily to counter the rising influence of Iran’s revolutionary Shiism.  
Astonishingly, despite these admission, the US works politically, financially, economically, and even militarily in tandem with these very same state-sponsors of rampant, global terrorism. In Libya and Syria, the US has even assisted in the funding and arming of Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups, and had conspired with Saudi Arabia since at least 2007 to overthrow both Syria and Iran with these terrorist groups. And while Saudi Arabia funds terrorism in Pakistan, the US is well documented to be funding political subversion in the very areas where the most heinous attacks are being carried out.

US Political Subversion in Baluchistan, Pakistan

The US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has been directly funding and supporting the work of the “Balochistan Institute for Development” (BIFD) which claims to be “the leading resource on democracy, development and human rights in Balochistan, Pakistan.” In addition to organizing the annual NED-BFID “Workshop on Media, Democracy & Human Rights” BFID reports that USAID had provided funding for a “media-center” for the Baluchistan Assembly to “provide better facilities to reporters who cover the proceedings of the Balochistan Assembly.” We must assume BFID meant reporters “trained” at NED-BFID workshops.
 


 Image: A screenshot of “Voice of Balochistan’s” special US State Department message. While VOB fails to disclose its funding, it is a sure bet it, like other US-funded propaganda fronts, is nothing more than a US State Department outlet. (click image to enlarge) 
 

….

 
Images: In addition to the annual Fortune 500-funded “Balochistan International Conference,” the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy has been busy at work building up Baluchistan’s “civil society” network. This includes support for the “Balochistan Institute For Development,” which maintains a “BIFD Leadership Academy,” claiming to “mobilize, train and encourage youth to play its effective role in promotion of democracy development and rule of law.” The goal is to subvert Pakistani governance while simultaneously creating a homogeneous “civil society” that interlocks with the West’s “international institutions.” This is how modern empire perpetuates itself. 
 

….
There is also Voice of Balochistan whose every top-story is US-funded propaganda drawn from foundation-funded Reporters Without Borders, Soros-funded Human Rights Watch, and even a direct message from the US State Department itself. Like other US State Department funded propaganda outfits around the world – such as Thailand’s Prachatai – funding is generally obfuscated in order to maintain “credibility” even when the front’s constant torrent of obvious propaganda more than exposes them.

 

https://i2.wp.com/www.bso-na.org/sitebuilder/images/bsona-929x195.jpg


Image
: Far from parody, this is the header taken from the “Baloch Society of North America” website. 
 

….

Perhaps the most absurd operations being run to undermine Pakistan through the “Free Baluchistan” movement are the US and London-based organizations. The “Baloch Society of North America” almost appears to be a parody at first, but nonetheless serves as a useful aggregate and bellwether regarding US meddling in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. The group’s founder, Dr. Wahid. Baloch, openly admits he has met with US politicians in regards to Baluchistan independence. This includes Neo-Con warmonger, PNAC signatory, corporate-lobbyist, and National Endowment for Democracy director Zalmay Khalilzad.
Dr. Wahid Baloch considers Baluchistan province “occupied” by both the Iranian and Pakistani governments – he and his movement’s humanitarian hand-wringing gives Washington the perfect pretext to create an armed conflagration against either Iran or Pakistan, or both, as planned in detail by various US policy think-tanks.

There is also the Baloch Students Organisation-Azad, or BSO. While it maintains a presence in Pakistan, it has coordinators based in London. London-based BSO members include “information secretaries” that propagate their message via social media, just as US and British-funded youth organizations did during the West’s operations against other targeted nations during the US-engineered “Arab Spring.”

 

 
Image: A screenshot of a “Baloch Human rights activist and information secretary of BSO Azad London zone” Twitter account. This user, in tandem with look-alike accounts has been propagating anti-Pakistani, pro-“Free Baluchistan” propaganda incessantly. They also engage in coordinated attacks with prepared rhetoric against anyone revealing US ties to Baluchistan terrorist organizations. 
 

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And while the US does not openly admit to funding and arming terrorists in Pakistan yet, many across established Western policy think-tanks have called for it.
 
http://landdestroyer.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/pakistanmap1.png

Image: Why Baluchistan? Gwadar in the southwest serves as a Chinese port and the starting point for a logistical corridor through Pakistan and into Chinese territory. The Iranian-Pakistani-Indian pipeline would enter from the west, cross through Baluchistan intersecting China’s proposed logistical route to the northern border, and continue on to India. Destabilizing Baluchistan would effectively derail the geopolitical aspirations of four nations. 
 

….
Selig Harrison of the convicted criminal, George Soros-funded Center for International Policy, has published two pieces regarding the armed “liberation” of Baluchistan.

Harrison’s February 2011 piece, “Free Baluchistan,” calls to “aid the 6 million Baluch insurgents fighting for independence from Pakistan in the face of growing ISI repression.” He continues by explaining the various merits of such meddling by stating: 
 

“Pakistan has given China a base at Gwadar in the heart of Baluch territory. So an independent Baluchistan would serve U.S. strategic interests in addition to the immediate goal of countering Islamist forces.”
Harrison would follow up his frank call to carve up Pakistan by addressing the issue of Chinese-Pakistani relations in a March 2011 piece titled, “The Chinese Cozy Up to the Pakistanis.” He states:
 
“China’s expanding reach is a natural and acceptable accompaniment of its growing power—but only up to a point. ”  
He continues: 
 
“To counter what China is doing in Pakistan, the United States should play hardball by supporting the movement for an independent Baluchistan along the Arabian Sea and working with Baluch insurgents to oust the Chinese from their budding naval base at Gwadar. Beijing wants its inroads into Gilgit and Baltistan to be the first step on its way to an Arabian Sea outlet at Gwadar.”
While aspirations of freedom and independence are used to sell Western meddling in Pakistan, the geopolitical interests couched behind this rhetoric is openly admitted to. The prophetic words of Harrison should ring loud in one’s ears today. It is in fact this month, that Pakistan officially hands over the port in Gwadar to China, and Harrison’s armed militants are creating bloodshed and chaos, attempting to trigger a destructive sectarian war that will indeed threaten to “oust the Chinese from their budding naval base at Gwadar.”

Like in Syria, we have a documented conspiracy years in the making being carried out before our very eyes. The people of Pakistan must not fall into the trap laid by the West who seeks to engulf Baluchistan in sectarian bloodshed with the aid of Saudi and Qatari-laundered cash and weapons. For the rest of the world, we must continue to uncover the corporate-financier special interests driving these insidious plots, boycott and permanently replace them on a local level.

The US-Saudi terror racket has spilled blood from New York City, across Northern Africa, throughout the Middle East, and as far as Pakistan and beyond. If we do not undermine and ultimately excise these special interests, their plans and double games will only get bolder and the inevitability of their engineered chaos effecting us individually will only grow.

This article was originally posted at Land Destroyer

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Why Did You Murder Me? The Slaughter of the Children Drones On & On & On & On

By Michael Hall


When the drones are slaughtering innocent children in your name
do you bother to get concerned even when on your knees on Sunday?
or do you just stick your head in the sand blindly support the troops & just not think about whose to blame
if you care I have list of their names and ages I could give you from the depths of an odious jingo game

Do your wonder if your joystick violence is really doing any good
or do you get the feeling that something is very wrong & your getting spun & fooled
how can you support exported terrorism when your sworn to defend against it
how can you donate freedom & democracy when its getting stolen from under you by E/O

Every bullet bought is a loaf of bread stolen from the belly of the hungry
and your self-praising charity checkbook fad doesn’t seem to dent the starvation.
If you spent 2.2 million everyday since Jesus was born
you would have spent what your nation purchased on the military just last year

Do you wonder why your schools don’t have books & pencils
why your bridges are crumbling down & the roads are potholed like Swiss cheese
while your politicians live in mansions with 5-star chefs lapping at life-long luxury
then again today they announced another bone-cut to the needy, homeless and disabled

How could anyone with a shred of conscience bow before a flag without bending over with nausea
knowing underneath it the killing of the innocent is a weekly act in nations we are not at war with
that after a hit. the gang fires off another drone when medics & rescuers come to the scene of destruction
we’ve forgotten what we stand for by the very deeds we toe-tag and their is no rationalization

Now we know by special executive decree memo called a ‘white paper’
the Nobel Peace prize holder president has the power to murder Americans beyond the law
it is solely up to the president when it comes to life and death and it is all a hush-hush secret
change we can be deceived has shown the articulate sheep to be but a child-eating wolf

Anyone who murders children by drone and then jokes about it is a sociopath
a leader who becomes a serial killer justifies by secret edicts he wont share with his employers is a despot
expansion and consolidation of extreme power will one day target you and yours
For what goes on abroad in your name will blowback as it comes around to get you tomorrow

Just south of key west at Guantanamo every law, principle and value you hold dear is smashed
across the pond the most nefarious crimes are done in your name with your support
and yet at home you bury your head deep in the sand far from the massive contradiction
your heart bleeds for Newton yet when your troops do the exact same thing you raise a flag & a stiff arm

For what profits an empire when they can envelop the world and dominate it
yet in the process they loose their values, principles and in so doing their very soul
still atonement must be rectified somewhere at some time
and this is the dream that I dream someday will be;

For all the innocent children who’ve been the victims of the American military machine
I would willingly witness each and everyone of them walk by in front of every war supporter and soldier
to deeply gaze into their eyes and say with conviction, question and horror;
Why did you murder me?

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Who is Islamic cleric Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri? And why should Pakistan care?

He only arrived from Canada last month and already he’s sparking protests and making headlines with his demands for a radical overhaul of the current political system
By Syed Hamad Ali
January 16, 2013 “The Independent” — Why is a Canadian Islamic cleric marching on the streets of Pakistan and talking about creating a “peaceful” Tahrir Square in Islamabad?
This is the question which has been perplexing many political analysts and TV anchors in the South Asian country over the past few weeks. This weekend supporters of Dr. Tahir ul Qadri, a dual Canadian nationality holder who arrived in Pakistan last month, led a march of tens of thousands (it was supposed to have been millions) from Lahore to Islamabad to stage a sit-in in order to bring about political reforms in the country. His demands include the dissolution of the Election Commission and ensuring the candidates standing for election pay taxes. He has also made a call on dissolving the assemblies and the formation of a caretaker government.
But what gives a religious scholar, particularly one who has been living in Canada for some seven years, the right to put forward such radical demands? The timing of this protest, only months before a scheduled national election, is also troubling; it risks derailing an already fragile democracy.
Outside Pakistan, Qadri is often been presented as a “moderate” Sufi scholar who famously wrote a 600 page fatwa against terrorism in 2010which won him international applause. However while his work to counter extremists has brought him his share of admirers, there hangs a question mark over the extent of Qadri’s own moderating influence. For example one video doing the rounds over the internet shows Qadri giving what appear to be two contradictory statements on blasphemy – the subject of so much controversy in Pakistan. In one clip he is shown speaking in English where he says: “Whatever the law of blasphemy is, it is not applicable on non-Muslims. It is not applicable on Jews, Christians and other non- Muslims minorities. It is just to be dealt with Muslims.” Yet then in Urdu in a different clip he says: “My stance was that, and this was the law which got made, that whoever commits blasphemy, whether a Muslim or a non-Muslim, man or woman – whether be a Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu, anyone – whoever commits blasphemy their punishment is death.”
Certainly Qadri is a contradictory man. While he presents himself as a supporter of democracy, he was elected to parliament under the previous dictatorship of General Pervez Musharaf in 2002. A bigger question to ask is where he is getting all these funds to spend on his campaign? Since last month the city of Lahore has been flooded with Qadri posters advertising his arrival and call for change. TV advertisements have also been airing frequently. On the backs of rickshaws his photo has become the most popular advertisement staring back at all vehicle drivers. One TV station at his sit-in in Islamabad interviewed a woman who described how she had never planned to come to the protest. But after her power supply and cable TV were cut-off she decided to join the protest as she was so fed-up. A few protesters even talked about having traveled all the way from Canada and the United States to participate.
No doubt the current political system is in need of a painful reform. Last month an investigative report showed how nearly 70 per cent of the country’s lawmakers did not pay tax in 2011. Among those who did not file a tax return was the President himself Asif Ali Zardari. Power cuts, gas shortage, bans on mobile phones and daily terrorist bombings have all become associated with the current government. Yet surely the ballot box is the way to bring reform. The Supreme Court has this week ordered the arrest of the Prime Minister Raza Pervez Ashraf over corruption charges – proving there are other avenues towards change without resorting to revolutionary tactics.
The medieval Persian poet, Saadi Shirazi, in his famous work Gulistan narrates a short story about a man of lower than average intelligence. One day, feeling a pain in his eye, he went to see a vet, instead of a doctor. The vet put some medicine in his eye intended for animals and as a result the poor man went blind. To complain about what had happened he took the case to court, but the judge ruled that the vet was not to blame. After all, he pointed out, only a donkey would go to a vet for treatment.
It would appear Dr. Qadri is something of a vet himself. If matters end-up taking a turn for the worse, then perhaps he is not the one who should be blamed

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New US drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen

By Patrick O’Connor
January 04, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Marking the first US drone attacks of 2013, the Obama administration ordered two separate missile bombardments in Pakistan and Yemen on Wednesday and Thursday.
The latest attacks demonstrate that the drawdown of US-led occupying forces in Afghanistan will be accompanied by an expansion of illegal drone operations across the Middle East. At least 16 people were reported killed, all alleged Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, though details of each incident are still emerging and Washington routinely covers up the killing of civilians in drone strikes.
On Wednesday night, approximately 10:40 pm local time, Pakistani Taliban leader Maulvi Nazir, also known as Mullah Nazir, was among several people killed in South Waziristan, the tribal region bordering Afghanistan. Nazir is among the most prominent figures to have been assassinated in recent years, having led one of the four Taliban factions in the Waziristan region.
Different reports that have emerged since the strike claim that Nazir was killed by at least two missiles fired either at a vehicle in which he was travelling near Wana, the largest town in South Waziristan, or at a house near Wana. Reports differ on how many other people were killed, with some sources suggesting eight or nine additional casualties.
Unnamed Pakistani officials were cited confirming that Nazir’s senior deputies, Atta Ullah and Rafey Khan, were among the dead. These sources also claimed the others killed were Nazir’s Taliban associates. Thousands reportedly attended the funerals of the men, and markets and shops closed in those parts of South Waziristan that Nazir controlled.
Yesterday, another two drone missiles struck North Waziristan, killing four more alleged Taliban militants, reportedly including two Uzbek nationals, as they were travelling in a car. Multiple sources report that a second round of drone missiles was fired when people nearby attempted to recover the bodies, though it is not known if more people were killed or injured as a result.
On the same day as the atrocity in North Waziristan, three alleged members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were killed while travelling in a car in Redaa, in the southern Yemeni province of Al Bayda. Redaa is where a US drone strike killed 11 civilians, including three children, on September 2.
Reuters cited a Yemeni government official as claiming that a Yemeni aircraft carried out the latest strike in Redaa, but local people who saw the US drone responsible contradicted him. Washington has ordered a series of drone attacks in Yemen in recent days, enjoying the full support of its stooge, President Mansour Al Hadi. (See “US drone strikes continue in Yemen” .)
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little spoke with reporters off camera yesterday about the drone strike that killed Maulvi Nazir. Without explicitly acknowledging US responsibility, he declared: “If the reports are true, this would be a significant blow and would be very helpful, not just to the United States but also to our Pakistani partners and the Afghans… This is someone who had a great deal of blood on his hands.”
President Barack Obama in fact bears responsibility for the continued bloodletting in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. While Washington is currently in a de facto alliance with Al Qaeda-connected militia groups fighting against the Syrian government, the so-called “war on terror” remains the pretext for its military operations across the Middle East.
The New York Times reported in November that drone strikes are estimated to have killed at least 2,500 people. This is likely a significant underestimation.
The British-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) has calculated that by August 2011, 2,347 people had been killed by drone attacks in Pakistan alone. The total included at least 392 civilians, 175 of them children. The Obama administration refuses to tally civilian deaths, arbitrarily labelling all males within a drone target area as “combatants” unless there is evidence proving otherwise.
Maulvi Nazir headed one of the Pakistani Taliban factions that had reached an agreement with the Pakistani military, with both sides pledging that their forces would not target one another. Nazir was allied with Hafiz Gul Bahadur, leader of another militia in North Waziristan who had also signed a peace pact with the Pakistani military.
Some Pakistani army commanders labelled the two figures “good Taliban.” Nazir funnelled fighters across the Afghan border to participate in operations against the US-NATO occupying forces and also allegedly sheltered members of various Al Qaeda-affiliated groups, while at the same time cooperating with the Pakistani military. He collaborated with the army’s 2009 offensive against rival Taliban factions, which the government in Islamabad launched under intense pressure from the Obama administration.
Nazir had been targeted by rival Islamist militia leaders who have launched attacks against Pakistani military and government targets. In November, he narrowly survived a suicide bomb attack that was reportedly organised by the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP).
The London Telegraph ’s Rob Crilly noted: “This could well herald a new time of instability as other militant factions try to vie for control… There is also a question of what this means for US-Pakistan relations. Mullah Nazir was very much an American target who, I suspect, Pakistan would have been happy to leave alone, so there is a question mark over what this means.”
The Pakistani government, dependent on US military and financial aid, publicly opposes the drone strikes as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, while privately permitting Washington to proceed. It is unclear whether any government or military figures in Islamabad were consulted before Nazir’s assassination, but the Obama administration has made clear that irrespective of any considerations of international law, it claims the right to murder anyone, including American citizens, anywhere on the planet.
Copyright © 1998-2012 World Socialist Web Site
See also – Must watch video – Propaganda : North Korean Documentary Exposes Western Propaganda

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Pakistan: Ethnic violence in Karachi deadliest since 1994

By Ali Ismail 
20 December 2012
Pakistan’s largest city is being ravaged by increasingly bloody ethnic and sectarian violence. While Karachi has been the scene of such violence for decades, the past year has been one of the deadliest in the city’s history. Not a day goes by without reports of target killings or bullet-riddled bodies being discovered in one of the city’s numerous slums. The violence is expected to worsen in the coming months as next year’s national election draws closer.
According to the Citizens’ Police Liaison Committee, a civic organization that works in partnership with the Karachi police force, violence in the city had claimed 1,938 lives as of late November, the deadliest year since 1994, when the organization first began collecting figures. Police tallies put the number of dead at 1,897 through mid-October. Many more people have been killed since the release of these figures.
On Tuesday, four female polio vaccination workers were killed in three separate attacks carried out within the space of less than an hour. No one has claimed responsibility for the killings, although the Taliban has threatened anti-polio campaign workers in the past. A male health worker was also killed Tuesday, but after initially connecting it with the other killings authorities later concluded it was unrelated.
Karachi is a sprawling port city on the Arabian Sea with an estimated population of 18 million. Like most megacities located in underdeveloped countries, Karachi is home to an enormous population of impoverished workers, many of whom live in overcrowded and filthy slums. The city’s elite live in luxurious mansions protected by armed security guards, and rarely leave their posh and serene neighborhoods.
Karachi is Pakistan’s economic engine, and the violence has taken a mounting toll on the economy. According to Mohammed Atiq Mir, Chairman of the All Karachi Trade Association, 20,000-25,000 businesses have left the city, resulting in economic losses of $10 million per day.
Much of the violence in recent years has arisen from “turf wars” between leaders and activists of the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). The two parties are involved in a fierce struggle for political influence, and have also aligned themselves with slum landlords, drug barons and other criminal elements as they seek to control various rackets, particularly the extortion racket. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which heads a federal coalition government in which the ANP and MQM are both partners, has also seen hundreds of its members killed over the past four years, mainly at the hands of the MQM. The vast majority of people killed in the violence are ordinary workers targeted for their ethnicity.
The MQM is an ethnic-based bourgeois party founded by Altaf Hussain in 1984. The party claims to uphold the interests of the Muhajirs (the Urdu-speaking descendants of people who migrated to Sindh from north India following the 1947 communal partition of the Indian subcontinent). The ANP is a Pashtun nationalist party. It forms the provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and purports to defend the interests of Karachi’s large and growing Pashtun minority.
The violence in Karachi has been greatly exacerbated by the Pakistani elite’s ruthless counterinsurgency war in Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas—a war that has seen Pakistani security forces use indiscriminate shelling, torture and extrajudicial killings to intimidate the Pashtun population. The MQM, which runs Karachi’s civic administration, feels that its hold over the city is slowly slipping away as more and more impoverished Pashtuns move to Karachi to escape the brutality of the Pakistani military and relentless US drone attacks.
“The battle lines are visible across the city. MQM flags and posters blanket the Urdu-speaking neighborhoods, and red flags and graffiti mark ANP territory in the poorer, blue-collar neighborhoods,” the Associated Press noted in a recent report.
The MQM asserts that the Pakistani Taliban has been able to increase its presence and influence in Karachi by hiding among the Pashtun population. There is some evidence to suggest that the number of Taliban militants has increased in the city, including the growing number of sectarian killings targeting members of Karachi’s Shias minority. However, ANP claims that the MQM is exaggerating the number of militants in the city so as to provide it with a pretext to crack down on the Pashtun community should not be dismissed. ANP members have also been targeted by the Taliban, according to statements issued by the party.
ANP lawmakers have been pushing for an army operation in the city. “The army should immediately start an operation in Karachi to cleanse the city of anti-social elements,” Senator Zahid Khan of the ANP declared last month.
The MQM, which participated in the “civilian” government under the previous military dictator General Musharraf, is fiercely opposed to the deployment of the military in Karachi, which would weaken its control over the city’s government.
While the MQM was initially encouraged by the military as a counterweight to the PPP in its early years, it was later the target of a military intervention in Karachi between 1992 and 1994 during which scores of Muhajirs were killed.
The leadership of the PPP is also resisting calls for an army intervention and Army Chief Ashfaq Kayani ruled it out, at least for the moment, when he was asked by reporters about the situation in Karachi last month.
It’s no coincidence that the violence in Karachi has increased in the run up to the national elections due to take place next spring. For decades, Pakistan’s reactionary and politically bankrupt politicians have utilized ethnic and communal appeals as part of their election campaigns, with this year being no different. Communal tensions have increased over the past year as various parties have proposed creating new provinces based on ethnicity so to undermine the influence of their rivals. The main purpose of such appeals, however, is to divert mass popular anger over the poverty, hunger and unemployment that plague the country, and to distract the attention of workers and toilers from the complicity of all the political parties in the US-NATO occupation of Afghanistan and the AfPak War.

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Children Under Attack in Pakistan and Afghanistan

By Dave Lindorff
October 20, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – Six children were attacked in Afghanistan and Pakistan this past week. Three of them, teenaged girls on a school bus in Peshawar, in the tribal region of western Pakistan, were shot and gravely wounded by two Taliban gunmen who were after Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old girl who has been bravely demanding the right of girls to an education. After taking a bullet to the head, and facing further death threats, she has been moved to a specialty hospital in Britain. Her two wounded classmates are being treated in Pakistan.
The other three children were not so lucky. They were killed Sunday in an aerial attack by a US aircraft in the the Nawa district of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, not so far from Pakistan. The attack, described by the military as a “precision strike,” was reportedly aimed at several Taliban fighters who were allegedly planting an IED in the road, but the strike also killed three children, Borjan, 12; Sardar Wali, 10; and Khan Bibi, 8, all from one family, who were right nearby collecting dung for fuel.
Initially, as is its standard MO, the US denied that any children had been killed and insisted that the aircraft had targeted three “Taliban” fighters, and had successfully killed them. Only later, as evidence grew indesputable that the three children had also been killed, the US switched to its standard fallback position for atrocities in the Afghanistan War and its other wars: it announced that it was “investigating” the incident and said that it “regretted” any civilian deaths.
There are several questions that arise immediately from this second story. First of all, if the three kids were close enough to be killed by this “precision” attack, they were surely also close enough to have been visible to whatever surveillance craft was monitoring the activities of the Taliban fighters, and if they were seen, there should have been no air strike called in. Second, the US, allegedly trying to reduce civilian casualties, is supposedly now operating its air attacks under rules of engagement that only allow strikes where there is “imminent danger” to US or allied forces. How is planting an IED an “imminent” danger? If the location is known, troops in the area can be alerted, and the IED removed or detonated. An identified IED is not an imminent threat.
The American media have been awash in coverage of the attack on the three Pakistani girls, and on the fate of the courageous girl’s education advocate, young Malala.

Dead children killed by US airstrike and Malala Yusufzai, 14-year-old victim of Taliban fanatics in Pakistan
Dead children killed by US airstrike and Malala Yusufzai, 14-year-old victim of Taliban fanatics in Pakistan

 
Not so the deaths of the three Afghan kids. They didn’t even merit their own article in the nation’s leading newspaper, The New York Times, which simply inserted a couple of paragraphs concerning their deaths near the end of an article about so-called “green-on-blue killings” of US troops by their supposed Afghan Army allies (two Americans were killed in one such attack on Saturday).
The contrast between the two attacks on children is even greater when it comes to the response in the two countries, Pakistan and the US. In Pakistan, after the attack on Malala and her two classmates, tens of thousands of Pakistanis turned out in demonstrations to protest the actions of the Taliban fanatics and to demand that they be caught and punished (there have been arrests of two alleged perpetrators). The Pakistani government vowed to prosecute the would-be killers, and has paid to have Malala transferred to a safer and better hospital in the UK. It is also providing armed guards to protect the other two girls.
Meanwhile, in the US, most people don’t even know that their own military just blew away three young Afghan children. The sad truth is, even if they did know, they wouldn’t really care. There’d be no outpouring onto the streets of people demanding a halt to the air attacks and the drone killings. Only 28% of Americans say they object to America’s drone warfare, though it is clear that drone attacks are leading to the deaths of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of innocent civilians. According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, a survey of 20 countries about reactions to drone warfare found that in the US only 28 % of Americans said they disapproved of America’s drone warfare campaign. In countries that are normally America’s allies, like Britain, Germany and Japan, disapproval rates were 47%, 59% and 75% respectively. In the US, the survey found 62 % of Americans actively support drone warfare, giving America the distinction of being the only country surveyed in which a majority of the public supports killing by drone.
The attackers of the three schoolgirls in Pakistan, who have been arrested already, will almost certainly be imprisoned for their heinous crimes. Not so the pilot and the targeting personnel who called in his deadly strike that led to the deaths of three Afghan children. They will come home from the war hailed as “heroes” by any Americans they meet. People will pass them and say, “Thank you for your service” — even though that “service” includes killing little children.
I leave it to readers to imagine how they think this impacts on the parents and relatives of the children who were killed by America’s “brave” military. I know though that if a foreign military blew my kids away with impunity and for nothing, they would in that moment create an enemy for life–and Liam Neeson’s character would have nothing on me in terms of my desire to exact vengeance, either.
Those befuddled Americans who are still asking, “Why do they hate us?” should think about this a bit.
___________________________
UPDATE: The US is going to extraordinary lengths to pretend it did not target innocent children in this strike, which it now says was done not by a plane dropping a bomb, but by a guided missile (presumably fired by a plane or a drone, since it had to be steered real time to its dimunitive targets). In a report in the New York Times, which publication itself went to great lengths to offer its own imagined ideas as to why the military could not be blamed for targeting these children, the Pentagon offered up that the children “appeared” to have been “used” by the Taliban to “emplace” the IED. There is no proof offered for this conjecture.
In any event, the point remains that the children should have been readily identifiable in any surveillance video, given the shorter length of their shadows in an October sun. And more importantly, the US is not supposed to do air strikes unless there is an “imminent danger” to allied or Afghan troops, and the placing of an IED, witnessed and filmed so its location would be known, cannot be considered an imminent threat.
The US and the Times cannot seem to get their story straight either. In the lead to the article, NATO command is said to have reported that the children were killed by an “artillery strike” that was called in. Later, a NATO official is quoted as saying a guided missile was used.
So much lying inevitably leads to confusion and contradiction.
The truth: three little kids were killed by US forces who target them in violation of their own operating rules on use of force as agreed to with the Afghan government. Although the Times headline reads “Questions Raised in Deaths of Afghan Children in Coalition (sic) Strike,” that question is not mentioned. Nor does the Times honestly report that it was a US strike, not a euphemistic “Coalition” strike.
Dave Lindorff is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening

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America’s Drone Attacks Are ‘Killing 49 People for Every Known Terrorist in Pakistan’

 Study found war against violent Islamists has become increasingly deadly

 Researchers blame common tactic now being used – the ‘double-tap’ strike

 Drone strikes condemned for their ineffectiveness in targeting militants

By Leon Watson

September 28, 2012 “Daily Mail —  Just one in 50 victims of America’s deadly drone strikes in Pakistan are terrorists – while the rest are innocent civilians, a new report claimed today.
The authoritative joint study, by Stanford and New York Universities, concludes that men, women and children are being terrorised by the operations ’24 hours-a-day’.
And the authors lay much of the blame on the use of the ‘double-tap’ strike where a drone fires one missile – and then a second as rescuers try to drag victims from the rubble. One aid agency said they had a six-hour delay before going to the scene.

 

The tactic has cast such a shadow of fear over strike zones that people often wait for hours before daring to visit the scene of an attack. Investigators also discovered that communities living in fear of the drones were suffering severe stress and related illnesses. Many parents had taken their children out of school because they were so afraid of a missile-strike.

Bombardment: More than 345 strikes have hit Pakistan's tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan in the past eight years

Bombardment: More than 345 strikes have hit Pakistan’s tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan in the past eight years
Today campaigners savaged the use of drones, claiming that they were destroying a way of life. 

 

Clive Stafford Smith, director of the charity Reprieve which helped interview people for the report, said: ‘This shows that drone strikes go much further than simply killing innocent civilians. An entire region is being terrorised by the constant threat of death from the skies. ‘
There have been at least 345 strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan in the past eight years.
‘These strikes are becoming much more common,’ Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer who represents victims of drone strikes, told The Independent.
‘In the past it used to be a one-off, every now and then. Now almost every other attack is a double tap. There is no justification for it.’
The study is the product of nine months’ research and more than 130 interviews, it is one of the most exhaustive attempts by academics to understand – and evaluate – Washington’s drone wars.
The site of a missile attack in Tappi, a village 12 miles east of Miranshah, near the Afghan border after a U.S. missile attack by a pilotless drone aircraft in 2008. At least six people were killed

The site of a missile attack in Tappi, a village 12 miles east of Miranshah, near the Afghan border after a U.S. missile attack by a pilotless drone aircraft in 2008. At least six people were killed
Tribesmen gather near a damaged car outside a house after a missile struck in Dandi Darpakheil village on the outskirts of Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region

Tribesmen gather near a damaged car outside a house after a missile struck in Dandi Darpakheil village on the outskirts of Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region
 
Despite assurances the attacks are ‘surgical’, researchers found barely two per cent of their victims are known militants and that the idea that the strikes make the world a safer place for the U.S. is ‘ambiguous at best’.
Researchers added that traumatic effects of the strikes go far beyond fatalities, psychologically battering a population which lives under the daily threat of annihilation from the air, and ruining the local economy.
They conclude by calling on Washington completely to reassess its drone-strike programme or risk alienating the very people they hope to win over.
They also observe that the strikes set worrying precedents for extra-judicial killings at a time when many nations are building up their unmanned weapon arsenals.
The Obama administration is unlikely to heed their demands given the zeal with which America has expanded its drone programme over the past two years.
Washington says the drone program is vital to combating militants that threaten the U.S. and who use Pakistan’s tribal regions as a safe haven. 

 

The number of attacks have fallen since a Nato strike in 2011 killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and strained U.S.-Pakistan relations.
Pakistan wants the drone strikes stopped – or it wants to control the drones directly – something the U.S. refuses. 

 

Reapers and Predators are now active over the skies of Somalia and Yemen as well as Pakistan and – less covertly – Afghanistan.
But campaigners like Mr Akbar hope the Stanford/New York University research may start to make an impact on the American public.
‘It’s an important piece of work,’ he told The Independent. ‘No one in the U.S. wants to listen to a Pakistani lawyer saying these strikes are wrong. But they might listen to American academics.’
Today, Pakistani intelligence officials revealed a pair of missiles fired from an unmanned American spy aircraft slammed into a militant hideout in northwestern Pakistan last night. 

 

The two officials said missiles from the drone aircraft hit the village of Dawar Musaki in the North Waziristan region, which borders Afghanistan to the west. 

 

Some of the dead were believed to be foreign fighters but the officials did not know how many or where they were from.
The Monday strike was the second in three days. On Saturday a U.S. drone fired two missiles at a vehicle in northwest Pakistan, killing four suspected militants. 

 

That attack took place in the village of Mohammed Khel, also in North Waziristan. 

 

North Waziristan is the last tribal region in which the Pakistan military has not launched an operation against militants, although the U.S. has been continually pushing for such a move.
The Pakistanis contend that their military is already overstretched fighting operations in other areas but many in the U.S. believe they are reluctant to carry out an operation because of their longstanding ties to some of the militants operating there such as the Haqqani network.

VOICES FROM THE DRONE ZONE
 

Sadaullah Khan, a 15-year-old who lost both legs in a drone strike, says that before his injury, ‘I used to go to school…I thought I would become a doctor. After the drone strikes, I stopped going to school.’

Noor Behram, a journalist: ‘Once there has been a drone strike, people have gone in for rescue missions, and five or ten minutes after the drone attack, they attack the rescuers who are there.’
Taxi driver: ‘Whether we are driving a car, or we are working on a farm, or we are sitting at home playing cards – no matter what we are doing we are always thinking the drone will strike us. So we are scared to do anything, no matter what.’ 
 

Safdar Dawar, President of the Tribal Union of Journalists: ‘If I am walking in the market, I have this fear that maybe the person walking next to me is going to be a target of the drone. If I’m shopping, I’m really careful and scared. If I’m standing on the road and there is a car parked next to me, I never know if that is going to be the target. Maybe they will target the car in front of me or behind me. Even in mosques, if we’re praying, we’re worried that maybe one person who is standing with us praying is wanted. So, wherever we are, we have this fear of drones.’
 

Resident from the Manzar Khel area: ‘Now (they have) even targeted funerals…they have targeted people sitting together, so people are scared of everything’

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Pakistan government breaks up protests against the US

By Sampath Perera 
26 September 2012
Last Friday, Pakistani police and paramilitary forces violently broke up protests by hundreds of thousands of people called by the Pakistani government against the anti-Islamic Innocence of Muslims video. Police left 23 dead and injured more than 200. The protests in Pakistan came as outrage erupted throughout the Muslim world over this video.
The mass response to the protests reflected the seething anger among the Pakistani people against American imperialism. Washington is occupying Afghanistan and since 2009 has expanded the war into neighbouring Pakistan, with the collaboration of the Pakistani government in Islamabad.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led-government declared Friday as a special public holiday, naming it a “Day of Love for the Prophet,” supposedly with the aim of “facilitating” participation in the protests. Having taken this action aiming to contain mass anger, the government then unleashed a brutal crackdown on demonstrators, fearing that the protest could potentially turn against foreign diplomats or the Pakistani government itself.
Major protests took place in Islamabad, Pakistan’s commercial hub of Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar, near the western border with Afghanistan.
Islamabad Police chief Bin Yamin Khan said 50,000 to 60,000 people had participated in the protest there. Paramilitary and military helicopters were also deployed in Islamabad, where the diplomatic enclave is located. Five people were killed there and 60 injured.
In Karachi, police shot dead 11 people and injured at least 80. Three policemen also died in clashes there. In Mardan, near Peshawar, more than 50,000 people participated in a demonstration.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik warned that “stern action” will be taken against “culprits” who carried out violence. Police arrested hundreds of people in the crackdown.
On Saturday, courts in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Lahore ordered to remand at least 185 people produced by the police, Pakistan daily Dawn reported.
Police said that more than 6,000 people would be booked for rioting, and that they were searching video footage to carry out more arrests.
The PPP-led government plans to use the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 to charge those arrested. For instance, Karachi anti-terrorism courts put more than 100 people in remand or police custody. All those arrested could be charged for attempted murder, rioting and using firearms, obstructing public servants, and damaging public and private property.
If found guilty, suspects could be jailed for two to three years for rioting and three to ten years for possession of illegal arms. Under the Terrorism Act, those convicted of murder or attempted murder could be given the death sentence or life imprisonment.
Knowing that anger among Pakistani people could erupt against the US, the Obama administration spent $70,000 to buy advertisements in seven TV channels in Pakistan distancing Washington from the anti-Islam Video. This advertisement also carried statements by US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton criticizing the film.
However, broad opposition among Pakistani people against US and its “AfPak” war is deep going. The US led war in Afghanistan has been expanded to Pakistan border areas to suppress popular opposition against occupying NATO forces and the puppet regime in Kabul. The US forces frequently carry out deadly drone attacks in the country’s western border with Afghanistan killing civilians at will violating Pakistan sovereignty.
In May of last year, the US launched a raid to kill Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan in blatant violation of Pakistani sovereignty, provoking mass protests. Mass protests were sparked by the US air attack on a Pakistan military outpost located in the border area killing 24 soldiers in November forcing the government to close down supply lines across the country to NATO forces. Only in July was it able to allow supplies to resume to NATO forces.
Pakistani government’s call for a day of protest exposes its hypocrisy and desperate manoeuvring, as it seeks to channel popular outrage along Islamist lines. Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira boasted that Pakistan was the only country that declared a day of protest.
Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, the railway minister, offered $100,000 from his personal money for anyone who murdered the director of the video, inviting the “Taliban” and Al Qaeda to do the job. The government later dissociated itself from the minister’s call.
The PPP-led government President Asif Ali Zardari, have continued Pakistan’s backing for the US neo-colonial war in Afghanistan that started under former military dictator Pervez Musharraf in 2001. While making timid criticisms of US violations of Pakistani sovereignty, the Pakistani government and military have repeatedly bowed to US demands.
While allowing CIA drone attacks to proceed inside Pakistan, Islamabad has launched major military operations in Pakistan at Washington’s behest, to suppress popular opposition to the war. In the past several months, the Pentagon has pressed the Pakistani military to launch fresh operations in North Waziristan to crush anti-US insurgents.
The government is not only discredited due to its support for the US war. The PPP-led government is implementing austerity measures dictated by the International Monetary Fund to heap the burden of deepening crisis on the back of workers and poor. The US is pushing for these economic reforms, including privatisation.
In the past several months, Islamabad has been busy mending fences with the US after the diplomatic spat the followed the US killing of Pakistani soldiers last November. On Monday, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A senior spokesman told the media that the situation was “moving upwards, in a positive direction.”
Similarly, last week Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar made an official four-day visit to Washington to discuss improving US-Pakistani relations with Clinton.

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An End to US Drone Attacks in Pakistan

Disowning the Drones by Carol Grayson

Later this month Carol Grayson, a campaigner and film-maker from Newcastle, will travel to  Pakistan as part of an international peace delegation.   The delegation will meet with survivors of US drone attacks, lawyers  representing drone victims and political figures.  The delegation will also take part in a peace march in North Waziristan organised by Imran Khan  calling for an end to US drone attacks.  Here Carol writes about her reasons for joining the delegation and answers questions posed by friends.
Carol Grayson Image: CAAB
Friends keep asking me the same question…

Why on earth I am choosing to go to Waziristan, considered to be one of the most volatile and dangerous places on earth?

The simple answer is that I refuse to support the US and British state-sanctioned terror of targeted killing by drone, being used in the so-called ‘war on terror’ which frequently annihilates civilians in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan

Invited by Imran Khan (the former cricketer turned politician), I will be joining a peace march to Waziristan with international media, human rights activists and anti -war protestors in solidarity with drone victims. I plan to publically disassociate, ditch and disown any connection to those drones manufactured as remote control killing machines operated out of airbases in the US and soon the UK.

I was brought up to believe in ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and a fair process of law if someone is alleged to have committed a crime. Pakistan is not officially a war zone. Those that are targeted are regarded as “alleged” insurgents. Drones are invading Pakistan’s skies and breaching sovereignty on an almost daily basis now and baby girls are killed as “terrorists”!

No wonder the victims of US “collateral damage” are referred to as “other” by those operating the drone. It would seem they too wish to disassociate themselves from their civilian casualties. How do you go home to your family knowing you have obliterated someone else’s child? How do you justify causing terrible burns to the face of four year old Shakira, now undergoing a series of painful operations to reconstruct her face!

I am disturbed at the “official” reporting of deaths by drone. There are discrepancies in the casualty figures as highlighted by the excellent work of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Gareth Porter who was recently awarded the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism 2012 for his investigation of US ‘killing strategy’ in Afghanistan, including the targeting of people through their mobile phones.

What is the current situation regarding drones in Pakistan?

This recent editorial in The News International (Monday, Aug 27th, 2012) entitled, ‘Dread of Drones’ sums up the current situation eloquently regarding drone strikes:-

The drone issue has reared its ugly head once again. Within the last two days, at least 18 and possibly more people have been killed in strikes in the North Waziristan area. The death toll is likely to rise, with many more people injured. Ostensibly, militants based in various parts of the agency were targeted. Reports in the American press quoting US officials suggest that Badruddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani network, was among those killed in the recent drone strikes. But this has not been confirmed by independent sources. The precise truth as to who was killed and where is of course impossible to establish. But the brief lull we had seen in the drone attacks has ended. Things, we can say, are ‘back to business’ as usual. The claim by the Pakistan government that it had asserted its sovereignty during talks with Washington has quite obviously turned out to be false. Islamabad has no way of stopping the drone strikes, with the recent incursions into its territory by the unmanned aircraft proving this. The summoning of senior US diplomats and the public protestations of complaint are really no different from those we have heard before. They almost inevitably come to naught

Should the peace march go ahead?

Pakistan is once again under pressure to launch an offensive in North Waziristan with a threat of sanctions from America if it doesn’t do what it is told. In my opinion this amounts to bribery; we will give you aid and other funding if you comply to our wishes. A peace march is needed more than ever. Outside forces seem intent on fuelling further what is pretty much an unofficial civil war in some areas of Pakistan, with Muslim fighting Muslim and its only set to get worse. Haven’t the civilians of the Tribal Areas suffered enough already?

Will the march be successful?

It will be successful as the march will enable people rarely heard – the victims – to have a voice. It will also hopefully increase international press coverage, which will help educate people and put more pressure on the US to stop drone strikes. Ask yourself, who wishes the drones to continue? And in whose interests would it be to prevent a peace march going ahead?

Isn’t Imran’s march just a gimmick?

No, I don’t believe the march is a gimmick. I covered Imran Khan’s previous dharma’s (peaceful demonstrations) where he spoke against drones and there were calls to block the NATO supply line. There was a lot less interest from international press then. However Imran attracted good crowds and is consistent and vocal in his quest for dialogue on all sides and exploring peaceful alternatives to on-going conflict.

He has also met and engaged with Tribal Leaders this week that are supportive and keen for the march to go ahead. To me this is more about the issue itself than any one political party. Surely representatives from all parties ought to be joining the march and objecting to the killing of Waziristan’s residents. The event is receiving support both within Pakistan and by those of us outside the region that reject western imperialism and foreign policies that target ordinary people.

An anti -drone event will take place in Bradford in advance of the Waziristan march:

Protest Against Drone Strikes, Centenary Square, Friday 14th September 2012, 5:30pm. Speakers to include George Galloway MP, Imran Khan (official) and Yvonne Ridley.

What about the threat to those attending Peace March in Waziristan?

There are of course security concerns in a number of different directions but we must not bow down to intimidation. Regarding the alleged Taliban “threat”, that has been reported in press recently, my understanding, from a Tehreek – e- Taliban (TTP) statement shared with me from Tribal Area reporters, is that a decision by the Shura (consultation) is yet to decide how Taliban will respond to the march. There are misquoted claims regarding “death threats”. PTI office have released an official response from Imran Khan to any threat. Regarding myself, due to the killing of two of my family members by the state, I have learnt to live with death threats for many years.

Life is a risk, one of the biggest lessons to learn is that there is no such thing as security. Anything can happen. Sometimes the risk comes in the opposite direction to what we expect. Sadly, it is often easier to maintain conflict than fight for peace. We must go where our conscience leads us, in this case it leads me towards Waziristan…

Will you be filming?

It has always been my intention to document drone victims on film. This is a project initiated with my late colleague, Pakistani investigative journalist Saleem Shahzad, who was kidnapped and the tortured to death in 2011. This work will continue, if not by me, then by others working with me who will ensure the documentary goes ahead. I am now working with Yacine Helali and Stephen Lee (Veto films) on our drone documentary ‘The Approximate Target’. Our website will be launched shortly and filming begins next week. Anyone interested can follow us on Twitter @vetofilms. I am very grateful to all those assisting me on this important issue.

Have you contacted anyone in the British government?

I’ve written two letters to my MP, Nick Brown, informing him of the Waziristan peace march and asserting my right as a British citizen to question the actions of my government and call for an end to drone strikes.

This is certainly not the first time I have confronted the government. My late husband and brother-in-law were another kind of UK/US ‘collateral damage’. I’m a widow that has faced western government cover ups over many years, a mother that has litigated in both the US and UK, attempting to hold state authorities accountable for their alleged crimes, and an award-winning researcher that has investigated unlawful killings. I would not be silenced then and I won’t stay silent now!

To quote Martin Luther King Jnr, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

Carol Anne Grayson is the Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She has been awarded the ESRC, 2009 Michael Young Prize, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”.

Carol can be contacted on 07733482337 or c.grayson625@btinternet.com.

Funding for Carol’s documentary ‘The Approximate Target’ is urgently needed. If you can help please do get in contact. For more information about Veto Films see : http://vetofilms.com/

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US drone attacks escalate inside Pakistan

By Peter Symonds 
29 August 2012
The US is intensifying its drone attacks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan, as the Pakistani army prepares a major military operation against Islamist militants in North Waziristan.
The latest attack on Friday involved missile strikes from CIA-controlled drones on three separate locations in North Waziristan. According to unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials, 18 “suspected militants” were killed. As in previous attacks, most casualties would undoubtedly have been civilians, including women and children.
The Associated Press reported that the strikes came just minutes apart on mud brick compounds located several kilometres from each other in the Shawal Valley. The area is mountainous and heavily forested, and serves as a crossing point into Afghanistan for insurgent groups opposed to the US-led occupation.
Citing local tribesmen, the Pakistani newspaper, News International, reported: “The people who helped retrieve the bodies from the debris of the collapsed buildings said all the bodies had been burnt and torn into pieces. They said the bodies were beyond recognition.” Some 14 injured people were taken to local health facilities, where doctors reported that most were in a critical condition.
The drone attacks, in blatant violation of Pakistani sovereignty, came less than 24 hours after Islamabad had issued a formal protest to an unnamed senior American diplomat over attacks earlier in the week. A Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman described the drone strikes as “illegal and unproductive” during a press briefing last Friday.
Washington simply ignored the protest—the eighth in the 12 months—as the Pakistani government and military give their tacit approval to the drone strikes. The formal protests are a threadbare attempt by the government to placate widespread public anger, especially in the FATA region, over the relentless US attacks.
At least four CIA drone attacks took place last week in North Waziristan. On August 18, drone missiles struck an alleged militant hideout, killing at least five people claimed to be allies of a local warlord, Hafiz Gul Bahadur. The following day, US drones fired missiles, killing 10 “suspected militants” in two separate strikes.
Another strike took place on Tuesday last week. US and Pakistani officials claimed on Saturday that Badruddin Haqqani, the head of operations for the Haqqani network, had been killed in the attack. A senior Pakistani intelligence official told Reuters that Badruddin had fled a compound after it was hit by a missile but was killed by a second drone strike on a car in which he was travelling. An Haqqani militia spokesman denied that Badruddin was dead.
The Haqqani network is just one of the tribal militias waging war in neighbouring Afghanistan against the US-led occupation. Badruddin is believed to have masterminded several high-profile attacks in Kabul, including one on embassies and the parliament in April that lasted for 18 hours. While the US State Department has branded most of the Haqqani leaders individually as “global terrorists,” it has yet to designate the network as a whole as a terrorist organisation, as that would preclude ongoing attempts to establish negotiations.
Washington has long demanded that the Pakistani army launch a military offensive in North Waziristan, along the lines of its brutal operations in other FATA agencies. In 2009, the military sent 30,000 troops, backed by war planes and heavy artillery, into South Waziristan, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee. The US has accused the Pakistani military of refusing to do the same in North Waziristan in order to protect relations between the Haqqani network and the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency—claims that have not been substantiated.
Relations between the US and Pakistan were severely strained by the unilateral US attack deep inside Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011, followed by US airstrikes last November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Facing a public outcry, Islamabad shut down NATO supply routes through Pakistan to Afghanistan.
The Pakistani government is in deep crisis after the Supreme Court’s removal of Yousuf Raza Gilani as prime minister in June for failing to ask Swiss authorities to reopen corruption charges against President Asif Ali Zardari. His replacement, Raja Pervez Ashraf, also faces removal for refusing to do the same.
Both the Pakistani government and the military are heavily dependent on Washington. The standoff over the NATO supply routes ended with the reopening of the routes last month. The US extracted other concessions, including Pakistan turning a blind eye to escalating drone strikes and tentative agreement from its military to start an offensive into North Waziristan. These military operations will fuel popular resentment, further destabilising the country.
Pakistani military officials have said operations would only slowly increase pressure on militants in North Waziristan, unlike its massive offensives in other FATA areas. Local residents told the Dawn newspaper that hundreds of foreign fighters from Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were fleeing the area late last week in anticipation of military operations.
The intensified US drone attacks inside Pakistan are aimed at terrorising the local population and pressing the Pakistani military to go ahead with its offensive. Local residents told News International after last Friday’s strike that they feared trying to rescue survivors as drones kept circling. Rescuers and those attending funeral services have been targeted previously for attack on the basis that they are also “suspected militants.”
An extraordinary article in the New York Times in May revealed that President Obama is personally involved in the decisions to carry out the targeted assassinations of individuals inside Pakistan, as well as other countries. The revelation underscores the criminal character of the Obama administration and its neo-colonial operations in Afghanistan.
According to one estimate, there have been 33 drone strikes inside Pakistan this year, down from 117 in 2010 and 64 in 2011. As the Obama administration prepares for the withdrawal of US combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, it will undoubtedly step up its murderous attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to shore up its puppet regime in Kabul.

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US and Pakistan end standoff over Afghan supply routes

By Peter Symonds 
6 July 2012
Under intense pressure from Washington, the Pakistani government has lifted a seven-month ban and reopened NATO supply routes through Pakistan to Afghanistan. The decision follows a limited apology on Tuesday by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the killing of 24 Pakistani border guards in US air strikes last November.
The stand-off was ended after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations over the exact terms. The Obama administration had previously refused to acknowledge any responsibility for the deaths and had cut off military aid to Pakistan.
The Pentagon claimed, without providing any evidence, that a US-Afghan special forces team operating at night near the border with Pakistan had been fired upon and called in air support. US helicopter gunships strafed two Pakistani border posts. The Pakistani military refuted this account, branding the attack as a deliberate act of aggression on two posts whose coordinates were well known to US forces.
The killings provoked public outrage in Pakistan, compounding widespread hostility over the US military’s flouting of Pakistani sovereignty to carry out drone attacks on alleged insurgents inside the country. Hundreds of civilians have died as a result of the ongoing attacks. The assassination of Osama bin Laden by US Special Forces deep inside Pakistan last year further inflamed public opinion. In order to deflect this anger, the Pakistani government insisted on a US apology and threatened to raise the transit fee for NATO supplies to $5,000 per truck.
In her phone call to Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Tuesday, Clinton did not use the word “apology” or refer directly to the US airstrikes, declaring only: “Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives. We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military.” The Obama administration also agreed to release around $1.1 billion in aid to the Pakistani military, but the transit fee remains fixed at $250 per truck. The US is likely to give the green light for a new International Monetary Fund loan for Pakistan.
The US made these minor concessions in order to reopen land routes through Pakistan that are vital to supply the US and NATO occupation of Afghanistan, and for the planned withdrawal of troops and military hardware by the end of 2014. For the past seven months, the Pentagon had to rely on northern supply routes through Russia and Central Asia that were costing an extra $100 million a month.
Washington’s decision to mend relations with Islamabad reflects concerns about being too dependent on the northern routes. While the US has agreements with Russia and several Central Asian republics to ship non-lethal materiel into Afghanistan, it is still negotiating terms for using these routes for the withdrawal. Moreover, Russian legislator, Alexey Pushkov, chairman of the international affairs committee of the State Duma, warned recently that Moscow could halt NATO supplies into Afghanistan unless differences with the US were resolved over plans for a NATO missile defence shield.
The US administration also feared that the diplomatic breach with Pakistan over the supply routes could affect broader relations with Islamabad. “Obviously [transport] cost was a factor, but more importantly was the need to get the relationship back on track so we can cooperate on a range of important issues including reconciliation and counterterrorism,” an Obama administration official told the Wall Street Journal.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led government maintained the support for Washington’s neo-colonial war in Afghanistan given by former military strongman General Pervez Musharraf from 2001. Islamabad has turned a blind eye to the US drone attacks on its territory and launched major military operations to suppress anti-US insurgents in areas bordering Pakistan.
The US will undoubtedly renew its demands for the Pakistani military to take action against the Haqqani network based in North Waziristan. Last month, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta soured negotiations over the supply routes by declaring that Washington was “reaching the limits of our patience” with Islamabad for not cracking down on Islamist militants. “It is difficult to achieve peace in Afghanistan as long as there is safe haven for terrorists in Pakistan,” he said.
As part of its wider geostrategic aims, the US was also seeking to ensure that China did not use the standoff over supply routes to strengthen its longstanding economic and military ties with Pakistan. Since coming to office, the Obama administration has escalated efforts throughout Asia to undermine Chinese influence, and reinforce US diplomatic and military ties.
For its part, the Pakistani government could not afford to back down without some form of apology from Washington, no matter how limited. Anti-US sentiment in Pakistan is deepening. A survey by the Pew Research Centre, released last month, found that 74 percent of respondents regarded the US as an enemy, up from 69 percent last year and 64 percent three years ago.
The government is already under fire from opposition groups for caving in to Washington by reopening the supply routes. The Defence Council of Pakistan, an alliance of Islamist organisations, has called for nationwide protests today. Opposition political parties are meeting tomorrow in Lahore to plan a protest campaign.
The government’s decision to repair its ties to Washington is bound up with its own political crisis. Last month the country’s Supreme Court ordered the removal of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for refusing the court’s order to reopen corruption cases in Switzerland against President Zardari. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who replaced Gilani, faces the same fate unless he bows to the Supreme Court’s demand.
The bitter dispute between the government and the Supreme Court reflects deep fractures within the country’s ruling elites. By reopening the NATO supply routes, Zardari and Ashraf are clearly hoping for Washington’s support to keep the PPP in office and to stave off any threat of a military coup.
However, far from easing the crisis, the resumption of US supplies through Pakistan, along with continuing murderous drone attacks, will only heighten tensions and compound political instability in Islamabad.

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China and Russia can free Pakistan of the US

By Farooq Yousaf
China and Russia can free Pakistan of the US. 47253.jpeg

Source: AFP
Pakistan is looking to the East for help. We are pinning our hopes on regional cooperation through blocs such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). This bloc boasts support from two major regional powers – Russia and China.
Why should we support this alliance, one might ask.
To them, I would like to state simply, we need this to free ourselves from the stronghold of the US.
We have numerous reasons to support this alliance. For instance, despite all cooperation and the consequent suffering, Pakistan continues to face immense pressure from America. The recent episode of this series of pressure came when Pakistan suspended the Nato supply lines as a backlash of the Salala checkpost attack on November 26, 2011. This suspension led to threats of slashing the civil military aid to the country from the US Congressmen and policy makers.
This scared Pakistan, because the US is our life-line. They provide us with much-needed money, and we remain at their beck and call due to this unfortunate reality.
There is increasing pressure on Pakistan by the United States and several other countries towards combating terrorism, as well as in terms of the settlement of the Afghan crisis.
Washington uses financial instruments, mainly financial aid, and military threats in the form of drone attacks, to keep us dancing to their tune. It has even launched a mass media campaign against Islamabad, accusing Pakistan of supporting terror.
Pakistan’s possible membership in the SCO presents a lucrative opportunity for us to finally obtain freedom from this mounting pressure. Partnership with super-powers like China and Russia can reduce Pakistan’s dependence on the US and its Western allies. Furthermore, increased cooperation, with these aforementioned regional powers, can also help to lower our dependency on US financial aid – a tool used to keep Pakistan within the crutches of the US.
The Eastern cooperation can pave way for opening numerous corridors of progress for Pakistan as well as other South Asian states – mainly India and Afghanistan. The alliance can open ways for exporting energy from energy-rich countries such as Russia- Turkmenistan and Iran, to energy-scarce states such as Pakistan and India.
Energy-deficient countries can greatly benefit from this increased regional cooperation. One such example is the trans-Afghan pipeline, or TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India), which surely can help in overcoming some part of the energy shortfall in Pakistan and India.
In order to achieve these goals and gain a dividend from the SCO, Pakistan needs to participate actively in the activities of the SCO in the areas of combating terrorism, drug trafficking and the Afghan settlement. Drug trafficking has been a major area of concern for Moscow. They claim that it is the ignorance of coalition forces in tackling the issue which has led to more drugs seeping into Russia. Thus, participation and cooperation will help to expedite the process of obtaining full membership in the organisation for Pakistan.
Interaction with the SCO will create real preconditions for countries to large-scale regional development programmes, particularly in the energy, transport and information spheres. This will eventually lead to an improvement in the areas of economy and the country’s security, strengthening its impact in the region.
Russia and the Central Asian countries have supported Pakistan’s desire to become a full member of the organisation, while China has refrained from doing so. Sergei Lavrov, the acting Russian Foreign Minister, in a recent SCO meeting pushed for India and Pakistan’s membership in the SCO, coupled with more involvement in the Afghan security situation in a post Nato withdrawal scenario.
Pakistan must convince Beijing that Islamabad’s full participation in the organisation will be useful in addressing major regional issues. Pakistan must seize the moment, and exploit regional energy resources by partnering with Russia, China and India for energy and commercial trade.
Let’s free ourselves from the hold of the West by embracing our friends in the East.
Farooq Yousaf

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The Face of Collateral Damage

Photos of missile debris help trace the path of a CIA drone missile that killed a young girl

By Jefferson MorleySalon.com

The face of collateral damage
Al-Qaida commander Mustafa Abu Yazid; debris from a Hellfire missile; and Fatima, shortly before her death.
May 30, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — Around midnight on May 21, 2010, a girl named Fatima was killed when a succession of U.S.-made Hellfire missiles, each of them five-feet long and traveling at close to 1,000 miles per hour, smashed a compound of houses in a mountain village of Mohammed Khel in North Waziristan along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Wounded in the explosions, which killed a half dozen men, Fatima and two other children were taken to a nearby hospital, where they died a few hours later.
Behram Noor, a Pakistani journalist, went to the hospital and took a picture of Fatima shortly before her death. Then, he went back to the scene of the explosions looking for evidence that might show who was responsible for the attack. In the rubble, he found a mechanism from a U.S.-made Hellfire missile and gave it to Reprieve, a British organization opposed to capital punishment, which shared photographs of the material with Salon. Reprieve executive director Clive Stafford Smith alluded to the missile fragments in an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times last fall. They have also been displayed in England.
“Forensically, it is important to show how the crime of murder happened (which is what it is here),” said Stafford Smith in an email. “One almost always uses the murder weapon in a case. But perhaps more important, I think this physical proof — this missile killed this child — is important to have people take it seriously.”
In the religious rhetoric used by al-Qaida’s online allies, Fatima was a “martyr.” In a statement quoted byLong War Journal, the al-Ansara forum said the senior al-Qaida commander Mustafa Abu Yazid had been killed in a “convoy of martyrs on the road with his wife and three daughters and his granddaughter; men, women and children; neighbors and loved ones.” But Fatima was not Yazid’s daughter, according to Noor, who reported from the scene. She was the daughter of another man who lost two wives and three children in the barrage.
In the euphemistic jargon of Washington, Fatima was “collateral damage” in the successful effort to assassinate Yazid, an Egyptian jihadist also known as Saeed al-Masri. In disregard for the official secrecy that envelops the drone war, U.S. intelligence officials leaked the classified details of the attack, telling the New York Times that they considered Yazid to be al-Qaida’s “No. 3 leader.” Relying on similar sources, the Washington Post said that al-Masri was the group’s “chief organizational manager.” Unlike other news organizations reporting on the attack, neither the Post nor the Times mentioned that women and children had been killed in the attack.
(In news reports published before the Post and Times stories, CNN cited Pakistani intelligence officials as saying that two children and two women had been killed in the attack. Dawn, a leading Pakistani news site, reported three children and two women had died. Reuters quoted residents as saying four women and two children were killed.)
Some might say that Yazid invited the killing of his wife and children by traveling with them while allegedly plotting attacks on U.S. targets. But Fatima was not his child. She was just a girl in the neighborhood who came into the crosshairs of the CIA.
“It seems easy to say it was the children of a terrorist rather just the children of anyone else,” said Shahzad Akber, a Pakistani lawyer who represents families of the drone victims. “For us it is difficult to say otherwise. How do we question that, because the CIA, who is [doing the] killing, is not sure either.”
Whether Fatima was murdered, as Stafford Smith alleges, has yet to be determined. But the responsibility for the chain of events that culminated in her death are becoming clearer as the mechanics of the drone war continue to emerge.
The Hellfire Romeo
The laser-guided missile that killed Yazid, Fatima and the others was probably made at Lockheed Martin’s“Mission and Fire Control” facility in Troy, Alabama. The Hellfire missile, the most frequently cited weapon used in drone attacks, is produced in a factory located 30 miles south of Montgomery. The plant, which employs 271 people and is a mainstay of the local economy, produces a wide variety of missiles for the U.S. Armed Forces. The latest version of the missile, known as the Hellfire Romeo, “defeats a broad range of targets,” according to Lockheed Martin.
The missile destined to land in Mohammed Khel was then shipped by plane to a base in Afghanistan, where U.S. airmen fitted the missile onto the fuselage of another technological miracle, the Predator B drone (also known as the MQ-9 Reaper), which is built by Pentagon contractor General Atomics. Assembled at three different General Atomics factories in San Diego, this mammoth unmanned aircraft with a 66-foot wingspan was first deployed to Afghanistan for combat sorties in October 2007, according to the company.
But in as early as 2002, the CIA had obtained its own Predator for use in armed attacks in Pakistan, according to news reports. Because of the need to officially deny U.S involvement in Pakistan, the CIA — not the U.S. Air Force — runs the drone program in Pakistan. The CIA now controls a fleet of up to 30 drones worldwide, according to a Washington Post story last year. The Federation of American Scientists says the CIA fleet includes several Predators/Reaper drones.
The CIA flight crew that sent the armed Reaper aloft in May 2010 was probably operating out of a U.S. air base in Afghanistan. Once in the air, the drone was most likely controlled by a two-man crew sitting at an ergonomically adjusted ground control station in a CIA office in northern Virginia. Former CIA counsel John Rizzo told Daily Beast reporter Tara McKelvey last year that he had witnessed drone attacks at such an office. The drone operators acted on the orders of senior Agency officials, he said.
In the first officially sanctioned public description of how the drone attacks work, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said last month that individuals targeted for assassination must actively be involved in a plot to attack American forces, facilities or other targets. “The intelligence is vetted at high levels, and the decision to fire a missile is made with extraordinary care and thoughtfulness,” he said.
In his interview with McKelvey, Rizzo said that he had signed off on CIA cables requesting “approval for targeting for lethal operation.” Rizzo, who resigned as general counsel in June 2009, said the cables provided a space for his signature, along with the word “concurred.” A typical cable targeted 30 people, he said. “The agency was very punctilious about this,” Rizzo said. “They tried to minimize collateral damage, especially women and children.”
The CIA general counsel at the time of the attack that killed Yazid and Fatima was Rizzo’s successor, Stephen Preston, appointed by President Obama. In a talk at Columbia University Law School last October, Preston insisted that all decisions in cases of lethal force complied with “the four basic principles in the law of armed conflict governing the use of force: Necessity, Distinction, Proportionality, and Humanity.”
“Great care would be taken in the planning and execution of actions to satisfy these four principles and, in the process, to minimize civilian casualties,” he said in remarks that were cleared for release by the CIA.
“To enforce the law”
The specific actions U.S. officials believed Yazid was planning in May 2010 have not been disclosed, but Yazid was public in his desire to retaliate for U.S. drone strikes. He had praised the “supreme bravery” of the suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees at the U.S. airbase in Khost in December 2009 to avenge the death of a Pakistani militant leader in a previous CIA drone strike.
Whether CIA officials watching Yazid’s convoy on live video feed on the afternoon of May 21, 2010, were aware that it carried women and children is not known. So it is impossible to know if “great care” was taken to prevent the death of Fatima and the other children in the convoy. The presence of non-combatants in the immediate vicinity of targeted individuals has not prevented other CIA drone attacks in the past, most notoriously in the case of a June 2009 drone attack on a funeral ceremony that killed an estimated 60 people.
In the face of persistent complaints from the Pakistani government and near universal opposition in Pakistani society, the U.S. has since reduced the number of drone attacks. After a peak of 118 reported attacks in 2010, attacks declined to 70 in 2011, according to the New America Foundation in Washington. So far in 2012 there have been 14 drone attacks in Pakistan. The most recent one was on Monday, in which eight people were reported killed, none them named or identified.
Civilian casualties from U.S. drone attack are “exceedingly rare,” Brennan said in his public comments, a characterization that critics hotly dispute with hard data and eyewitness testimony. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which monitors news reports of drone strikes, says 175 children have been killed in CIA drone attacks in Pakistan since 2004. Using a different methodology, the New America Foundationestimates that 11 percent percent of all victims in 2011 were civilians. Akbar’s Foundation for Fundamental Rights says U.S. attacks “frequently hit civilians.”
Stafford Smith says Reprieve hopes to end the drone attacks by publicizing evidence from the scene of the strikes and taking legal action.
“Not all drone use is a war crime,” he said in his email, “but what is happening in Waziristan most definitely is — as was Nixon’s illegal war in Laos and Cambodia 40 years ago — so we will be pressing to enforce the law.”
In response to questions about the Hellfire missile debris found at the scene of May 2010 attack , a Lockheed Martin spokesperson referred Salon to a U.S. Army Public Affairs office in Alabama near the factory where the missiles are built. Salon has asked the Army if the serial numbers found near the place where Yazid was killed and Fatima was fatally injured came from missiles built in Troy. The Army has yet to reply.
In response to questions from Salon, a CIA spokesman cited Stephen Preston’s remarks, added some “off the record” observations about Yazid, but otherwise declined to comment.
Jefferson Morley is a staff writer for Salon in Washington and author of the forthcoming book, Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835 (Nan Talese/Doubleday). More Jefferson Morley.
Copyright © 2012 Salon Media Group, Inc

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Islamic Republic without morality

11.05.2012

 
By Ali Ashraf Khan

Islam lays stress on fair dealings in financial matters, but Pakistanis-especially the influential ones- seem to have lost this part of Islam. But this has not always been like this: in our Archives we can find the papers of M.A.Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan who was meticulously correct in money matters and he himself wrote expenditure details on even small expenditures like postage fees and other household needs in his own hand and signed it. Today plundering of public money has reached the status of normality not only in state affairs but in all offices.
The boss uses the office naib-qasid (peon) to clean his private house; he uses the office car and driver to pick and drop children and take the wife shopping. While these seem to be small things this is a wrong impression – from here starts the misuse of position at much larger scale. Pakistani rulers and senior bureaucrats now don’t even write in their own hand writings specific orders on official files, they attach a chit on file with their orders written with pencil, to be typed on his/her behalf to be signed as orders by Principal Secretaries or others, this shows weakness of character in a leader and power of bureaucratic mafia.

There are so many examples of political figures misuse of power being hand-in glove with bureaucrats, the ephedrine case being one of the recent. While Privatization of state silver, IPP’s and Rental power projects have sealed the fate of economic development and national prosperity. Making money by abusing rules and regulations and disregarding national interest – and health care and control of drug abuse is national interest- has become a minor affair and is being pushed under the carpet. No body is concerned over the spiral rise in cost of daily essential items, which is snatching two square meals from the poverty stricken people. While the Prime Minister is declaring to raise minimum wages to Rs. 8,000/- the Chief Minister in Punjab province has declared it as Rs. 9,000/-, which according to price index evaluation is still not sufficient to make workers both ends meet.

Accountability is another victim of this approach. It has been reduced to an instrument to keep allies in line and fight political enemies. The ideas of right and wrong have been separated from what Islam teaches; these days might is right only and the boss decides about right and wrong. And the problem is not only present in politics or in running of state affairs or institutions; it has crept into private business and into family lives also. Children grow up and first thing they learn in early age is that lying is no problem everybody including mummy and daddy does it. How do they know? The phone rings and the father (or mother) tells the servant to say ‘sahib is sleeping’. There are a thousand other examples inside the privacy of homes where the first steps for ruining and suppressing the natural gift of God to every human – to know right and wrong- are taken. This is perpetuated in school and college where lying and cheating is daily practice mostly covered up by the teachers and administration. How can we expect children grown up in such surroundings to be true, honest and upright?

And this brings us to the most important question: How can we address the problem of missing morality in our society? Only by addressing and solving it at this broad and basic level we will be able to address the problem of corruption, misuse of power, plundering of public wealth in all spheres of public and private life in Pakistan. There is no easy answer to this. And keeping in mind that it took a long time, several generations to erode morality to this point, it will clearly take as much time to pull back and restore the feeling of right and wrong in the minds and deeds of Pakistanis. I think the beginning has to be made by an honest and open discussion. Admitting a mistake is the first step to eradication.

There is a need to activate for all of us our inner consciousness and be brave enough to act accordingly even if this brings disadvantage to us. My experience tells that in most cases people know that they are doing something wrong when they are doing it, because they know they can just suppress the knowledge and would never admit it. I firmly believe that knowing right and wrong intuitively is God’s gift to humans but this gift has to be guarded and developed and applied to our daily lives. Religion could play an important role and imams and religious scholars could contribute to it – if they are honest and apply the same rules to themselves as to others. Islam is very clear on economic and financial discipline, Interest is forbidden then what is the Islamic Banking growing fast by these foreign banks in Muslim countries, and why no scholar has ever thrown light on this issue, and it seems they have also compromised on it.

Print and electronic media could have played a positive role but intellectual corruption spreading everywhere has not spared (our) this branch in society and business interest first has become their hallmark. A news becomes news only if it sells. Our politicians have forgotten that politics has taken its roots from civics, known as Shehriyet a subject which was taught in our schools and colleges and was then enlarged as political science, which was developing living character and responsibility in our youth and grown-ups. Now this is not visible any more.

Print media policy appears to be regulated and governed at the whims of multinational and strong advertising groups interest. While in electronic media some are openly telecasting foreign channels’ recorded programmes, others show US sponsored advertisement in between the peak hour telecast. Publicity campaigns not only overshadow the viewers understanding process some are dominated with neighbouring countries actresses for promotion in sales of consumer items. Thereby promoting Indian & Western culture to allure our youth and adults, a fact that is destroying our national fabric, and creates the present chaos all around. Time is running against us, an already divided nation is being further divided in the name of additional provinces resolutions without any sincerity to the cause, just for political wrangling and point scoring. How long this will continue with all impunity. The nation has now pinned hope in a Messiah to drive this rudderless ship out of the present morass. God bless Pakistan.

Ali Ashraf Khan

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US resumes drone killings in Pakistan

By Bill Van Auken 

1 May 2012
Washington ended a month-long pause in its campaign of drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas Sunday, killing four “suspected militants” in North Waziristan and provoking a formal protest from the government in Islamabad.
The strike by the remotely piloted aircraft on Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, expressed Washington’s unconcealed contempt for the Pakistani government, which had publicly conditioned a resumption of its full collaboration in the so-called AfPak war on a halt to the drone attacks.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry issued a formal statement saying that it “strongly condemns the US drone attack that occurred in North Waziristan today.” The statement continued: “Such attacks are in total contravention of international law and established norms of interstate relations. The Government of Pakistan has consistently maintained that drone attacks are violative of its territorial integrity and sovereignty. The matter will be taken up through diplomatic channels both in Islamabad and Washington.”
The drone strike comes on the heels of last week’s negotiations in Islamabad between the Pakistani government and a US team led by US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman.
Pakistani officials had indicated Sunday that a deal was in the works in which Pakistan would agree to reopen its borders to the transport of materiel for the US-led occupation troops in Afghanistan in return for the payment of some $1.1 billion in withheld coalition support funds, money which Washington and its allies had agreed to pay Islamabad for expenses incurred in counterinsurgency operations in the border region. No payments have been made since mid-2010.
The deal is of decisive importance for Washington, given that the route from Pakistani seaports to Afghanistan is far less costly than the alternative it has pursued through Central Asia to the north. Moreover, given the carrying through of a scheduled drawdown of large numbers of US and NATO troops, it will be next to impossible to ship out the huge quantities of vehicles, heavy weapons and other equipment that have been amassed in Afghanistan over more than a decade of war without access to the Pakistani supply routes.
One stumbling block in the negotiations was reportedly Islamabad’s demand that Washington issue an unconditional apology for the slaying last November of 24 Pakistani troops in strikes by US attack helicopters and fighter jets against a border post inside Pakistan.
The Pentagon’s story is that the incident was a result of “friendly fire,” a mistaken clash in which both sides bore blame. Pakistan’s military has categorically rejected this account. In any case, the US military is strongly opposed to issuing any apology, holding Pakistan responsible for harboring forces fighting the US occupation of Afghanistan, in particular the so-called Haqqani network, which was blamed for the coordinated attacks in the center of Kabul and other areas on April 15.
The Obama White House is not about to cross the Pentagon on such an issue in an election year. Moreover, an apology would cut across the right-wing re-election campaign being waged by the Democratic Party, which is extolling the US Seal assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan a year ago and suggesting that Obama is more militarily aggressive than his presumptive Republican rival Mitt Romney.
According to some reports, the US and Pakistan were prepared to work out some sort of face-saving statement that would fall considerably short of the apology, which had been set as part of the “terms of engagement” in a resolution approved by the Pakistani parliament last month.
The same resolution demanded an immediate halt to the drone strikes. Sunday’s attack was the first on a target inside Pakistan since March 30. While Grossman left Pakistan Friday night with no agreement, Pakistani officials reported that a team of 10 US officials from the State and Treasury departments, the Pentagon and other agencies had remained in Islamabad to iron out an deal.
The latest drone strike, however, has made it more difficult to reach a bargain with Washington. The brazen attacks on Pakistani soil and the resulting loss of civilian lives has provoked widespread anger in Pakistan, which the country’s ruling elite has had to take into account, even as the government has in the past collaborated with the drone campaign, going so far as to provide the CIA with a base inside Pakistan for the pilotless aircraft.
The Washington Post quoted an unnamed Pakistani government official as saying, “When a duly elected democratic Parliament says three times not to do this, and the US keeps doing it, it undermines democracy.” In reality, what it undermines is the credibility of the government and its attempt to mask its continued dependence upon US imperialism, which treats it as a neocolonial subject.
The Associated Press quoted unnamed American officials as stating that Washington has “no intention of stopping the covert drone program in Pakistan.”
The US intransigence on both the drone attacks and the apology for the November massacre of Pakistani troops appears likely to lead at least to a delay in any reopening of Pakistani supply routes to Afghanistan. It may also result in Pakistan boycotting a NATO summit meeting to be held later this month in Chicago, centering on future operations in Afghanistan.
The strike on Pakistan came on the same day that White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan issued an unusual public defense of the CIA’s drone missile attacks in various parts of the globe. While the drone campaigns have been widely reported in the media and are no secret in the countries where Hellfire missiles are claiming their victims, the official US position has been that it is a covert program, not to be officially acknowledged.
Appearing in Sunday television news interviews, followed by a Monday speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Brennan claimed that the extra-territorial and extra-judicial assassinations by drone attacks were both legal and effective.
“The constitution empowers the president to protect the nation from any imminent threat of attack,” Brennan said in the Monday speech. “It is hard to imagine a tool that can better minimize the risk to civilians than remotely piloted aircraft.”
The claim that these drone strikes are aimed at protecting the US from “imminent threat of attack” is a lie. As US officials acknowledged, Sunday’s attack in Pakistan was directed at elements who were allegedly preparing not to attack the US, but rather to resist the US military occupation of Afghanistan.
In Yemen, they are aimed against armed opponents of the US-backed regime. The White House last month approved a CIA request for permission to stage so-called “signature strikes” in which targets may be selected on the basis of “suspicious activity” with no knowledge of who is being killed.
While extolling the “laser-like” precision of drone strikes, Brennan said that, “Unfortunately, in war, there are casualties, including among the civilian population.” While acknowledging that “innocent civilians have been killed in these strikes,” he claimed that such deaths are “exceedingly rare, but it has happened. When it does, it pains us and we regret it deeply, as we do any time innocents are killed in war.”
He added, “Sometimes you have to take a life to save lives.”
There have been some 3,000 Pakistanis killed in drone attacks, of whom only 170 have been identified as known “militants”.

Evidence in British Court Contradicts CIA Drone Claims

By Chris Woods 
April 26, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — A major case in the British High Court has revealed fresh evidence of civilian deaths during a notorious CIA drone strike in Pakistan last year.
Sworn witness testimonies reveal in graphic detail how the village of Datta Khel burned for hours after the attack. Many of the dozens killed had to be buried in pieces.
Legal proceedings were begun in London recently against British Foreign Secretary William Hague, over possible British complicity in CIA drone strikes.
Britain’s GCHQ – its secret monitoring and surveillance agency – is reported to have provided ‘locational evidence’ to US authorities for use in drone strikes, a move which is reportedly illegal in the United Kingdom.
Sworn affidavits
The High Court case focuses in particular on a CIA drone strike in March 2011 which killed up to 53 people.
Sworn affidavits presented in court and seen by the Bureau offer extensive new details of a strike the CIA still apparently claims ‘killed no non-combatants’.
Ahmed Jan (pictured) is a tribal elder in North Waziristan. On March 17 2011 he was attending a gathering with other village elders, to discuss a mining dispute.
‘We were in the middle of our discussion when the missile hit and I was thrown about 24 feet from where I was sitting. I was knocked unconscious and when I awoke I saw many individuals who were dead or injured,’ he says in his affidavit.
Most of those who died in Datta Khel village that day were civilians. The Bureau has so far identified by name 24 of those killed, whilst Associated Press recently reported that it has the names of 42 civilians who died that day.
Pakistan’s president, prime minister and army chief all condemned the Datta Khel attack. A recent Bureau investigation with the Sunday Times quoted Brigadier Abdullah Dogar, who commanded Pakistani military forces in the area at the time.
We in the Pakistan military knew about the meeting, we’d got the request ten days earlier. It was held in broad daylight, people were sitting out in Nomada bus depot when the missile strikes came. Maybe there were one or two Taliban at that Jirga – they have their people attending – but does that justify a drone strike which kills 42 mostly innocent people?
Yet the US intelligence community has consistently denied that any civilians died.
My father was not an enemy of the United States or any other country‘
Khalil Khan
Last year an anonymous US official told the New York Times: ‘The fact is that a large group of heavily armed men, some of whom were clearly connected to al Qaeda and all of whom acted in a manner consistent with AQ [Al Qaeda] -linked militants, were killed.’
The sworn affidavits seen by the Bureau offer a very different perspective. Imran Khan’s father Ismail was another of the elders who died that day. Imran says of his father: ‘He always did the right thing for the community and the tribe. He opposed terrorism and militancy and was not himself in any way connected to these things.’
Khalil Khan’s late father Hajji Babat was a local policeman who was ‘not an enemy of the United States of America or any other country.’ His son describes in his affidavit how he rushed back to his village to find his father dead, the bus station and surrounding buildings still burning six hours after the drone strike.
And Fateh Khan, who once worked for British Telecom, lost his 25-year old nephew Din Mohammed in the CIA attack. He reports that his nephew’s body had to be buried in pieces, and that ‘he left behind four children, all of whom now live in my house. His eldest child is currently only five years old.’
‘Absolute lie’
The most senior tribal elder to die that day was Daud Khan. Initially he was claimed to have been a senior Taliban figure. His son Noor told the Bureau that this was ‘an absolute lie’.
‘My father was not a militant but an elder who was working day and night for his people. There have been many children who have been killed in drone strikes. I ask the US if they think those children were militants and combatants and dangerous enough to be killed in such a manner?’
The CIA declined to comment when asked whether it still believed it had killed no ‘non-combatants’ in Pakistan since May 2010, or that no civilians died in Datta Khel last year. 
In London, legal campaigners are seeking a judicial review in the High Court – a process by which senior judges can question and even overturn any government policy on aiding US drone strikes.
The case is being brought by legal charity Reprieve, and by the Islamabad-based lawyer Shahzad Akbar and the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, which focuses on civilian victims of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan.
The British government is understood to have firmly challenged the grounds of the case on a number of fronts.
This article was first published by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
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Pakistan opposition blocks NATO route


By Amir Mir 

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan opposition parties are moving to block the reopening of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supply routes into neighboring Afghanistan ahead of crucial deliberations to set new terms of engagement with the United States. 

The country’s major right-wing opposition party, led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and key religio-political parties, have taken a unified stand at a joint sitting of the senate and the national assembly, which was due to resume on Wednesday evening. The joint session will conclude by voting on proposals about potential ties with the US and the future of the NATO supply route that passes through Pakistani territory. 


The prime aim of the unprecedented debate is to set a new tone for a relationship with the US that seemed on the verge of collapse for much of 2011, especially in the wake of the November 26 NATO air strike on a Pakistani border post, Salala, which killed 24 soldiers. 


Pakistan subsequently suspended NATO supplies via its land route to Afghanistan, besides ordering the US’s Central Intelligence Agency to vacate the Shamsi air base in Balochistan province that was being used to carry out US drone attacks on Pakistani soil. 


Fearing a backlash from its predominantly right-wing vote bank, the key opposition party in parliament – the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) led by twice-elected prime minister Nawaz Sharif, has already rejected recommendations from the multiparty parliamentary committee charged with defining a path to a reset in soured relations with Washington. 


The PML-N leadership took the view that placing the issues of Pakistan-US ties and the NATO supply route before parliament was a face-saving move on the part of the government, so that it would be able claim support of the country before quietly reopening the route. 


“If the federal government wants parliament to provide guidance on certain issues and situations, then we are ready to do so, but the federal government has to convince us. Otherwise, we are going to block NATO supplies by force if a unilateral decision is taken,” Nisar Ali Khan, the PML-N’s opposition leader in the national assembly, said in a fiery speech in the joint sitting on March 27. 


According to party insiders, despite the fact that the PML-N was a part of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS), its leadership decided to introduce proposals of its own that are aimed at countering the committee’s recommendations. 


Some of the contentious counter-proposals to be aired during the ongoing parliamentary debate will be that the US should categorically tell the Pakistan government of its date of withdrawal from Afghanistan and give a public commitment that it won’t attack Iran, especially after withdrawing from Afghanistan. 


At the heart of the debate is a list of 40 proposals to serve as guidelines for the new rules of engagement with the US, NATO and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that operates in Afghanistan. These were presented to parliament by the PCNS in the joint sitting of March 20. 


Besides recommending Pakistan to seek an unconditional apology from Washington for the unprovoked attack on the Salala check post, the PCNS sought a halt to drone attacks and a civilian nuclear deal with the US along the lines of the US-India deal. 


The PCNS proposed reopening of the NATO supply line with revised terms and conditions, including regulation and control of the movement of goods and personnel that would be subject to strict monitoring within Pakistan, and that too by levying taxes on all goods coming in or going out of Pakistan. 


The PCNS further suggested that 50% of the US/ISAF/NATO containers be handled through Pakistan Railways, and rest through the roads network. 


The Pakistan government had decided on January 20 to hand the responsibility of making recommendations on a reset with Washington to the 16-member PCNS, on which all the political parties elected to the two houses of the parliament were represented. It was the first time since Pakistan came into being in 1947 that the military establishment, which had treated foreign policy decisions as its exclusive domain, was usurped on such matters by elected civilian representatives. 


Opposition parties sought until March 26 to study the proposals before beginning a formal debate. However, before the session could resume, most of the right-wing and religious opposition parties urged the government to finalize fresh guidelines for Pakistan’s ties with the US through consensus, adding that they would not allow the rulers in Islamabad to hijack parliament and use it to endorse its premeditated actions, especially pertaining to the resumption of the suspended NATO supply route. 


The PML-N’s Khan acknowledged that recommendations such as one calling for a cessation of US drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan were good, but he objected to others, including those about the presence of foreign private security contractors and foreign intelligence operatives being accountable to conditions of transparency, and the use of Pakistani air bases by any foreign force only with parliament’s approval. 


The next politician to issue a more serious warning was the amirof the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is the sole representative of his party on the PCNS. He made NATO supplies the main target of his attack on the PCNS recommendations and warned the government that it would not be able to restore the supplies. “You will not be able to implement it in the field. We are not wearing bangles.” 


Earlier, addressing a rally of party workers on March 23 in Peshawar (which was titled Islam Zindabad), Rehman stated, “All major issues with the United States have already been decided and the establishment is now passing the buck to parliament in a bid to rubber-stamp the decisions which have already been taken to appease the United States. I will remind the rulers that they have been elected by the people of Pakistan and not by the people of the US and, therefore, they should look after the interests of Pakistan come what may.” 


Similar protest rallies were organized on March 23 by the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JI) and the Jamaatul Daawa (JuD) against the potential reopening of NATO supply routes. 


The most recent protest rally was staged on March 27 in front of Parliament House in Islamabad by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (Defense of Pakistan Council or DPC), a conglomerate of mostly banned jihadi, sectarian and religious groups and which was allegedly created by the former director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, in a bid to pressurize the government. 


DPC chairman Maulana Samiul Haq accused the US of planning to send its troops into Pakistan under the cover of security personnel for NATO containers. “The resumption of NATO supplies will be a dangerous act to pave the way for America to spread its forces in Pakistan,” he said. 


The amir of the JI, Syed Munawwar Hasan, warned parliament and the federal government to refrain from taking decisions against national interests while finalizing the future terms of engagement with the US. 


The firebrand JuD amir Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, whose party is also a component of the DPC, advised the army chief, the president, the prime minister and parliamentarians to quit if they could not protect national interests. 


“All of you have taken an oath to safeguard the country and protect its interests and if you cannot fulfill your duty, you should quit,” he said, as workers of religious parties chanted slogans “Down with America” and “Friends of America are traitors”. 


Adding to the pressure, the Pakistan Taliban on March 25 threatened to attack Pakistani lawmakers and their families if they allowed NATO to resume shipping supplies through the country. 


A spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban – TTP), Ahsanullah Ahsan, accused Pakistani officials of acting like slaves for the US. “These parliamentarians must know that in such a case, none of them will be safe in their homes,” he told the Associated Press. “We will start attacking all parliamentarians and their families and ‘publicly slaughter’ drivers ferrying NATO supplies.” 


Fifty religious scholars belonging the Deobandi Sunni school of thought – which is considered close to the Taliban – have issued afatwa (religious edict) terming the reopening of the NATO land supplies route un-Islamic, adding that such a decision would be tantamount to inviting the wrath of the Almighty. 


The edict warned that any cooperation with the “occupation army killing innocent Muslims in brotherly Muslim country Afghanistan” was forbidden under Islam and said the Pakistan government should compel US and NATO forces to leave Afghanistan immediately. 


Before his departure for a nuclear summit in Seoul, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani responded to the opposition parties’ onslaught against the government by reminding that the suspension of the NATO supply route was the government’s decision and there was no dictation from any side at that time, especially from the opposition. 


“The opposition is playing to the gallery on the issue of the NATO supply route and hopes to cash in on emotional anti-American sentiment,” Gilani said. “If the opposition thinks that we discontinued NATO supplies under their pressure, then they are wrong. We decided to block the supplies after discussing it with the defense committee of the cabinet.” The decision on whether to reopen the NATO supply routes will be taken by parliament unanimously, the prime minister added. 


Recent American media reports that the US military is not planning to discipline its forces over the November 26 NATO air strike contribute to factors that make it hard for Pakistan to reopen the NATO supply route in the near future. 


A US military investigation last year had already exonerated American troops operating in Afghanistan from inappropriate use of force against the Pakistani military – even as the US military acknowledged some blame over the incident. 


The New York Times reported on March 25 that Pakistani troops were the first to fire in the incident, citing a Pentagon probe. “We found nothing criminally negligent on the part of any individual in our investigations of the incident,” the newspaper quoted one senior US military official as saying. 


Many Western diplomats in Islamabad believe the PCNS recommendations are a laundry list of unilateral and unworkable demands from Islamabad. 


United States President Barack Obama, who met Gilani on Tuesday on the sidelines of the summit in South Korea, made it clear that the ongoing parliamentary review by Pakistan of its ties with the US would take a balanced approach and respect US national security needs. 


According to diplomatic circles, the implications of Obama’s statement are clear – it will be hard for the US to accept new terms of engagement that don’t take into consideration overall American goals in Pakistan as well as the region at large. 


Amir Mir is a senior Pakistani journalist and the author of several books on the subject of militant Islam and terrorism, the latest being The Bhutto murder trail: From Waziristan to GHQ. 


(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)


War, Pipelineistan-style

Pepe Escobar 


United States Secretary of State Hillary “We came, we saw, he died” Clinton’s message to Pakistan was stark; try to go ahead with the IP (Iran-Pakistan) gas pipeline, and we’re going to take you out financially. 


Islamabad, its economy in tatters, living in power-cut land, and desperate for energy, tried to argue. Pakistan’s top official in the Petroleum and Natural Resources Ministry, Muhammad Ejaz Chaudhry, stressed that the 2,775-km, $1.5 billion IP was absolutely crucial for Pakistan’s energy security. 


That fell on deaf ears. Clinton evoked “particularly damaging” sanctions – tied to Washington’s push to isolate Iran by all means available and the no-holds-barred campaign to force particularly India, China and Turkey to cut off their imports of Iranian oil and gas. 


So as Washington has been impotent to disrupt Pipelineistan moves in Central Asia – by isolating Iran and bypassing Russia – it’s now going ballistic to prevent by all means the crucial integration of Southwest Asia and South Asia, from Iran’s giant South Pars gas field to Pakistan’s Balochistan and Sindh provinces. 


IP, it should be remembered, is the original, $7 billion IPI; Iran-Pakistan-India, also known as the “peace pipeline”. India dropped out in 2009 after non-stop harassment by the George W Bush and then Barack Obama administrations; India was offered access to civilian nuclear technology. 


China, for its part, is still eyeing the possibility of extending IP out of Gwadar port, then crossing to Pakistan’s north alongside the Karakoram Highway all the way to Xinjiang. China is already helping Islamabad to build civilian nuclear reactors – as part of Pakistan’s energy security policy. 


ICBC, China’s largest bank and the world’s number one lender, was already positioned as financial adviser to IP. But then, contemplating the (sanctions) writing on the wall, it started to “show less interest”, as Islamabad chose to spin it. Is ICBC totally out? Not exactly. At least according to the Pakistani Ministry of Petroleum’s spokesman, Irfan Ashraf Qazid; “ICBC is still engaged in the IP project and the negotiations are still going on.” 


A mega-bank such as ICBC, with myriad global interests, may be wary of defying the Washington sanction machine; but other financing options may be found, as in other banks or government-level agreements with China or Russia. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has just made it very clear. Pakistan badly needs gas that should start flowing by December 2014. 


Islamabad and Tehran have already agreed on pricing. Iran’s 900-km stretch of IP is already built; Pakistan’s is starting, via ILF Engineering from Germany. Iran’s IRNA agency said Pakistan has announced that the IP is still on; predictably, Western media spin is that the Chinese got scared and backed out. 


IPC, anyone? 


For Washington, the only way to go is another Pipelineistan gambit – the perennially troubled TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India). Even assuming it will find financing; even assuming the Taliban will be taking their cut (that was, in fact, why negotiations between them and the Bill Clinton then Bush administrations failed); and even assuming it would not be bombed routinely by mujahideen, TAPI would only be ready, optimistically, by 2018. And Islamabad simply can’t wait that long. 

Predictably, Washington’s anti-IP campaign has been relentless – including, of course, shadow war. Islamabad is convinced that the CIA, the Indian intel agency RAW, the Israeli Mossad and the British MI-6 have been actively conspiring to get some sort of Greater Balochistan to secede from the central government. They have been, a la Libyan model, financing and weaponizing selected Baloch fighters. Not because they love their independent spirit – but as a means to balkanize Pakistan. 


To compound Washington’s fury, “isolated” Iran, by the way, is about to start exporting an extra 80,000 barrels of oil a day to Pakistan; and has already committed $250 million to the Pakistani stretch of IP. 


This has got the potential of becoming much, much uglier. Washington won’t be deterred from its intent to smash IP. For an Iran under pressure and a strangled Pakistani economy – as well as China – this is all about the Asian Energy Security Grid. 


ICBC may be out – sort of. But the whole thing could become even juicier if Beijing decides to step in for good, and turn it from IP to IPC. Will Washington have the guts to defy Beijing head on?


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com 

(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)


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