Friday, December 31, 2010

Is the US about to Partition the Internet for It's Own People?

In the meantime, the United States is bifurcating, at least, it`s own internet, and we will have to wait and see if these sort of Soviet American tactics are spread to the rest of the world. Here is Fatima Bhutto`s epaper on the topic of the Federal Communications Commission`s decision to allow different speeds for different users. The new "cheaper", pay-per-page web experience with extra charges for Facebook, Skype, etc. In response to this corporate/government assault on people's information will people form and join Pirate Parties? Or will cheap people (A-sometimes-KA Desi's) be forced to hobble together our own decentralized "mesh network" ISPs out of living room routers and roof-mounted antennas?
It could be possible. I've already seen this done before in university campuses with a famous system called DC++.It allowed people to download insane quantities (like a few gig's worth) of songs and movies, leaving the regular university internet system, untouched from massive file downloading. But make no mistake about it, ISP's and media companies are willing to fight and kill to keep their monopolies going by cutting the internet as it currently exists. As capitalism and greed destroyed the real estate market, now the Machine that feeds on profiting from gigantic greed will turn to cutting up the remaining resource pool available. The free internet is part of it.

The big question will be, what difference will it make to the internet outside the US if the US partitions speeds? Will other country's internet's go down the same route? Or will those countries that enshrine net neutrality continue to allow their citizens to access an open and neutral internet. We shall see.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Internet Waged War on Power Itself - Stephane Peray on Wikileaks

The US`s response to Wikileaks (informing it`s own employees that they couldn`t access the website) meant that US information policy had dropped to the level of China. The impression was created that the US cared more for power than for truth. It will take many years for that impression to be forgotten. For now we have Stephane Peray's interpretation of Wikileaks. Stephane Peray's cartoons were something I used to enjoy when they appeared in the international pages of Dawn. From 2002, till somewhere around 2005, this Western cartoonist based in Thailand would make you laugh at the absurdities of the news. Most of these Wikileaks cartoons date to the time of the Afghan War Log leaks, but they still seem appropriate.








Julian Assange should be grateful that he isn't in the hands of Pakistani intelligence. This XKCD cartoon is what is running through Pakistani government officials' minds when they think of domestic versions of Wikileakers.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gillani, F.O Parrot GHQ Line on North Waziristan, Whilst Mohmandi's go Faux Mao on FC Posts

I use the Dawn ePaper's headlines as a sign of what to check out for. As scary as headlines may look to some people when they read them in Google News bites, if you read all the planet changing headlines all at once on the frontpage, you are forced into grabbing the overall theme.

And the thing I saw were that PM Gillani and the foreign office both re-affirmed their reputations as adjuncts of Army Headquarters, by parroting Kayani's position on not attacking North Waziristan. No surprise about Gillani to us. What I am interested in is what President Zardari is doing in Turkey. Maybe he has a plan to make some sort of US Puppet's independent, secular survival deal? Possibly using Turkey's influence and reputation as a bulwark against political attacks? Or maybe the Turks are slowly unveiling an action plan to take over leadership of the Muslim world. I for one, would welcome our new Turkish overlords; the faster Saudi Arabia and Iran lose their pretensions to leading the Muslim world, the better. If it's Ankara pulling Zardari's strings, rather than Aabpara or GHQ, that would make me feel better. I am sure the military is also sending Zardari out there, but as long as there is any halfway decent power centre (even President Zardari's own initiative, money driven as it may be) besides GHQ involved, all is good with the Zardari plan.

The more serious news is of course the attack on the Mohmand FC posts. This is a Maoist tactic that the Taliban used, to suddenly amass a great number of people in one area and then attack an outpost of the govenment. The Talibs are disputing the number of their own dead. They said it`s something around 2. More serious is that they`ve carried away 2 Frontier Corps members, and there isn`t any comment by the government on those Talibs who attacked. One important fact is that Mohmand is on the border with Afghanistan so it may be easier for the Talibs to slip back and forth across the border. It may be likely that the Talibs who attacked are from the Mohmand Agency, but I would find that a little questionable. If the FC and army are operating there, it would be a tactical and operational theatre to have not established contacts with local Mohmandi`s. If they haven`t already (I doubt it), then they should. Strengthening intelligence is what is required, and I am not talking about grabbing a bunch of people and then torturing/disappearing them. This is also a failure in terms of the fact that the FC had to call in Helicopter Air Support, like the US forces in Afghanistan. Good to see, at least there is that much co-ordination between the FC and Army Air Aviation. I remember when Sararogha was taken by the Taliban from the FC, they called in air support and it never came.

And I don`t want to come of all like a xenophobe or something, but I think this may have been an attack from Afghanistan. It would be easier to call in hardened fighters from Kunar, Paktia or Nangarhar. Anyway, I found this Dunya TV clip on the attack.





In this clip, the political agent named the locations where 7, 4 and 3 corpses of the attackers are located. The obvious question is where are the bodies of the other 10 dead when the political agent says that 24 are dead? Did the Taliban carry them away? And what about Taliban claims of capturing a few FC men? Ah well. Improve intelligence in Mohmand and the neighbouring Afghan territories.

As for the retired Brigadier who begins speaking after 3:00, he directly goes to blaming the lack of NATO troops in Kunar and Paktia. He also blames Omar Khalid, but says that he's in Afghanistan. However I feel he ended up blaming Afghan Intelligence the way India blames Pakistani intelligence. What about local factors in the tribal agency itself? At this point, I would like to remind anybody who's still reading this that you have to keep the wider Order of Battle of Jihadi Islam in mind, and the Lashkar-e-Islam/Ansar-e-Islam/Criminal/TNSM/Bajaur/Mohmand killer groups in particular in mind. In particular the Omar Khalid group. Now the retired Brigadier Shah claims that Omar Khalid is in Afghanistan, but the Americans are unable to find or kill him? Very strange.




Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Rachel Maddow Show Mentions Pakistan And It's Not Good

So, there is this whole CIA official being outed in Pakistan thing. People say it's the ISI, but I'm not too sure. It could be disgruntled journalists. ISI pulls these pranks a little too often, and you need to keep your nerves around these people. Anyway, the Rachel Maddow Show, ran that story and on some USS Cole bombing suspect who escaped a drone bombing in North Waziristan and surfaced in Yemen. Anyway, sometimes her show runs Chris Hayes as a substitute host, a man who is the contributing editor in Washington DC for the progressive journal known as "The Nation". Imagine my shock when I saw this version of "The Nation" flash on my screen:


The Nation!?!?! Our "Nation"? The weird agency mouthpiece newspaper run by one of the squabbling Nizamis? It's like the intersection of the Rachel Maddow Show and Cafe Pyala! Wow! Every year there's some strange Pakistan related fear inducing news, all along the "As Usual Pakistan About to Explode" vein, but what the hell! This is when we get coverage!?!? I know I shouldn't be surprised, but I really like the Rachel Maddow Show, and it's like having your own country suddenly cast as the villain on your favourite show. I already know how stuff is Rachel, you don't have to add fear and stir. Meh. Oh, and last year, during the Scahill Blackwater-really-in-Pakistan expose, it was this:


Yeah. I could complain about Rachel Maddow saying that Pakistan is a scary, scary place, with nukes (her words, not mine), but I just stopped caring right there. My best estimate on the CIA chief thing, matches Professor Juan Cole's personal view as elaborated in this blogpost over the whole fiasco:

The Guardian reports that a lawsuit brought by a Pakistani journalist over wrongful deaths in drone strikes has forced the CIA station chief in Islamabad to flee the country. The official’s identity was discovered by the journalist, Karim Khan of North Waziristan from other journalists or possibly from disgruntled elements in the Pakistani military. It was alleged that the station chief had entered the country on a tourist visa and so had no diplomatic immunity.

The episode demonstrates the miseries of postmodern warfare, wherein President Obama is treating Pakistan the way Henry Kissinger treated Cambodia. If the US is going to conduct military operations in a country, it should be in the terms of a Status of Forces Agreement, and should be carried out by the Department of Defense. To have the CIA just lob missiles onto civilian villages in another country is wrong for all kinds of reasons. CIA operations are covert and US officials cannot even talk about them in public. There therefore can be no public debate or scrutiny of the policy. And, the whole operation breaks US law, since it is essentially a mass assassination campaign, not a war.

While the Pakistani courts might have been reluctant to pursue the case, public anger in Pakistan over the drone strikes runs high and Khan might have landed an activist judge. Activist judges, after all, played a major role both in overthrowing the US-backed military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and in curbing the powers that the executive had arrogated to itself. Could the US drone program be next in its sights?

More serious, and where I would more likely scream ISI tip-off, is apparently the fact that Fahd Mohammad Al-Quoso is still alive and escaped a drone strike that killed lots of people. I'm saying "people" because Mr Mosharraf Zaidi doesn't like it when you straight up say militants. Okay.

Anyway you want a nice conspiracy theory to go with it? September was when there was like a drone every day, and that was likely because maybe the US intel net inside Waziristan had caught news that militants were moving out. Now militants were moving out because, well Pakistan would really like them to leave, what with propaganda that has appeared in the Pakistani press that militants are shifting to Somalia and they should. Here's your conspiracy theory; the ISI was shifting Al Qaeda people out so it gave away the co-ordinates of innocent people to the Americans to kill. They told the Americans that they had actually managed to hit targets they were looking for, but they lied. Then when all these militant Islamists were moved out of the country, the ISI started encouraging stories to be written on how the militants were sneaking out of the country, whilst one of the militants actually showed his face in Yemen. Now Pakistan has egg on its face, the US is embarrassed(ish) that it hit the wrong people, and a load of poor Waziri's are dead. /End Conspiracy Theory

Now go get scared. Boo.

Afghan Peace, Attacks During Ashura and the Fake Wikileaks

If there is one thing that has "obsessed" me over the last few days of being too farigh over the internet, it's Afghan peace. Specifically, what-the-eff's going to happen when the Americans leave, how the Americans will leave, and whom will they empower when they leave. It's a depressing topic to broach. The actors who can screw it all up are well outlined in my Order of Battle for Jihadi Islam across Pakistan and Afghanistan, and our old familiar friends in the Pakistan military establishment and their intelligence hands. Sigh. Anyway, I made the google rounds to see what we can come up with and the google God was not favourable.

God was also not favourable during Ashura, with some random jerkoff throwing a grenade in Peshawar at a procession, and now we have a mortar attack in Hangu. Not unrelated is the atmosphere of intolerance peddled by our religious extremists, and the toleration and manipulation of these intolerants by our establishment.

I cam up with articles related to old peace talks with narco-terrorist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar dating from June-July, the text's of a "possible" peace deal, articles about talks about talks from October-November (which we know is related to the ultra-fake Mullah Mansoor) and something by Arnaud de Bochgrave that had promise, but died half way through. And speaking of died halfway through (keeping his role in bombing Serbia in the late-nineties in mind) R.I.P Richard Holbrooke.

Rest In Peace Richard Holbrooke
1941-2010

You know, I have a theory. That anybody who works, mind, body and soul to actually change Pakistan can actually die from over-exertion. My exhibit A for that was Mohammad Ali Jinnah, now exhibit B just might be Richard Holbrooke. And sometimes the sincerity of that effort gets people killed. Exhibit A, B, C and D are of course, Liaquat Ali Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto. They were killed by enemies of the reform they promised. Except maybe Zia, who was killed possibly by people inside the army sick of him and his clique tying up promotions. But I digress. RIP Mr Holbrooke, nice to hear you were talking about Af-Pak peace right uptil the last minute. Even if it may have been jokes, peace is what we need to get to.

Anyway, coming back to the Fakileaks, which I`m sure drew you into this whole blog piece, my point is that any weird behaviour by our military establishment has to be looked at in the context of the eventual withdrawal of US forces and what they might leave behind in Afghanistan, the response of the psychopaths who have taken control in FATA, and the potential for greater chaos in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Althought let`s see how Ashura day`s toll of attacks turns out, it could be a bellweather for how raring the fanatics are to have a go inside Pakistan. Reports out of Karachi indicated a police administration in hyper-drive to try and control as many fanatics as possible. By the end of the day we will know if they succeeded. And beyond that, a question has to be asked of whether the militants themselves have been intimidated into pulling a strategic retreat to avoid ruining their oh-so-Stirling reputations. The militants by my account may not want to call "too" much attention to themselves. But of course there are random hotheads like the jerk who threw the grenade, and the one who lobbed the mortar.

Anyway, returning *again* to Fakileaks (sigh) there was Cyril Almeida's article which I went to first thing on Dawn, and lo and behold my surprise when I saw it repeated on Five Rupees by Ahsan. Cyril Almeida's piece nicely referenced YRG's smalltimey-ness in the PM Gillani Vs PM Fahim debate. The second article Ahsan referenced was a piece by Azhar Abbas (the one who works for Geo, and his brother is *the* military spokesman of the ISPR). I had skimmed the article as it had been linked to in the twitterverse, and the tweeple tweeting it used it as an explanation for why Zaid Hamid was suddenly back on the scene. In that article though, there were a few responses that stuck out at me:

"Maliha Lodhi, Pakistan's former ambassador to the UK and US saying that “There is acknowledgement in private about mistakes made in the past. But it is not translating into a long term strategic plan”."

To this I say "Of Course!" Pakistan needs a long term strategic indigenous plan, because dammit, its not like that the religiously fanatic folk aren't thinking long term.

Returning back to what Azhar Abbas said:

“Our policy on the drone attacks is very clear and I don’t think there is any change in the policy, though for public consumption the government and the establishment will continue to oppose the attacks in the media,” said Mushahid Hussain.

Lodhi is even more critical of this style of policy. “No government can afford to have a covert policy of cooperation and overt position with the public, which is at odds with that policy,” she said.

This cognitive dissonance within the government's own body is what creates the atmosphere for things like the Fakileaks scandal to be concocted.

But the big question is: Is it really a tactical move? Or is this the main strategy and the fight against extremism merely a tactical diversion?

This I'll come back to later. Continuing:

Although, the intelligentsia, including media persons in Pakistan, are quite divided along ideological lines, WikiLeaks’ exposes are further crystallising this tendency. But the most disturbing aspect is the way Pakistani power brokers are trying to promote a particular mindset.

First off, the phrase intelligentsia is a little bit too high brow for Pakistan. It's more like, "What's been left", after years of Ziaism, societally enforced lip service to Islam, 3 and a half decades of overt military rule, and a constant state of low intensity violence. But my bitterness digresses. In this little media/coffee klatch bubble of dueling electrons, dependent on black/grey fortunes or corporate/state enterprise jobs, yes, there has been a clear cleavage down the middle between those who want to live in a normal country and those who are materially satisfied but religiously conflicted with the current situation.

Many observers believe that in the days to come, one should again expect a rise in the extremist mindset.

Somebody said that would explain Zaid Hamid's re-invigorated presence online and on television.

This will not just be restricted to the print media or TV screens, but will be visible on the streets of Pakistan as well.

Hello JI rallies on blasphemy.

It may be a welcome sign for those who wanted it as a tactical move.

Indeed

But the coming months and years will tell us how flawed a move it is. General Zia is not here to see the monster he had created that had devoured hundreds of innocent lives.

We know.

His policy has divided and damaged our society almost beyond repair.

Tell us more.

The current policies will only make the situation worse for Pakistan.

Well then we need to stop fighting over faking cable and get to work on some sort of Afghan peace plan. There are Arab strategists thinking ten, twenty years down the road on how to build a khilafat in Pakistan. The more serious quote is this:

"Or is...the fight against extremism merely a tactical diversion"

This is the part that disgusted, and partially scared me. Is the fight against extremism a diversion just so that the military can shelter Mullah Umar, possibly Ayman Al-Zawahiri and Osama Bin Ladin? If a hemped up Californian Christian hippie can feel he's getting close enough to be a few valleys in Chitral away from OBL, this tells you FUCK loads about what the hell our Military Establishment may be hiding or purely ignoring. Considering that Mullah Umar may have direct support from some of the JUI-F types, but Osama Bin Ladin and Ayman Al Zawahiri are providing direct inspiration for the sectarian terrorism in Pakistan. Is the Pakistan military establishment receiving money from the Saudis and Gulf to ignore where these people are hiding? The number 1 and 2 of Al Qaeda are criminals and murderers of Pakistanis. If as Ghost Wars says, that OBL travels with an entourage of a hundred stateless Arabs, Central and South Asians Muslims, arranged in concentric layers of security then it is very likely that, if our military hasn't been beaten back by it, it has certainly run into it a couple of times.

Although, to be honest, I have to wonder about knowledge of militant activity down the chain of command. The last commander of XI Corps (the Corps that did all the fighting in Swat and Waziristan) lost his son in a gun-and-suicide attack. I am not trying to be insensitive when I bring this up, but it is a fact that has to be faced. Does this mean that he might have known where Ayman Al Zawahiri and Osama Bin Ladin were and did not act? Wow, that would take a lot of gumption.

It's facts like these that put a two-by-four into speculation that the Pakistan military is only acting against militants tactically rather than strategically. Of course going against militants strategically would mean trying to clean up Madrassahs, the JUI-F, the JI and a host of other publicly appearing promoters of religious extremism. It would also mean giving Mullah Umar, and much of the Quetta Shura, and men in various managerial positions of various formerly Kashmir-centric groups the AQ Khan treatment.

The A.Q Khan treatment where we skip the public apology and appearing in public part and move straight into indefinite home detention, with restricted movement and little hope of leaving the area. This way these gentlemen do not get kidnapped, caught and made to squeal (on the Pakistanis) by various Indian or Western intelligence agencies. And the little boys, and boy-brained-men, they commanded have to all be accounted for, put on lists, and be educated/re-educated/de-programmed. Some with blood on their hands would have to be forced through the judicial system, while some others who escape and start killing (as they have been doing now for the last three years) would have to be killed, or threatened with death if they threaten to kill.

That would be Pakistan taking it's strategic priorities seriously. Only part of this has happened, and that too haphazardly. This in a way belies claims by Indians, or worries by Pakistanis that the attacks on militant strongholds in Hamaa, I'm sorry, Swat and Waziristan, were not war crimes with no justification, or military displays to distract the west . No. Up till this moment in time, December 2010, they appear to be war crimes that had a purpose. To kill people who were set on the course of destroying everything left in Pakistan. It will be up to the Pakistan government's capacity to rebuild, restore and re-autonomise the local populations of the regions that we had to invade and kill Taliban in, to make sure that the lives lost were not lost in vain.

In the meantime, as we demonstrated at least in the major cities, we have a minor moral victory, with Ashura passing "peacefully", but this sort of tactical thinking has to stop. We have to move beyond the tactical thought processes into a strategic offensive against the sources of extremism within our country, primarily the lack of control of our security forces, and the aid that provides to religiously inclined assassins. Civilian security forces must be strengthened, expanded and aided in their evolution, maturisation and sophistication. Simultaneously, it will have to be public movements of Pakistani people, in concert with their political parties that take control of their public bodies. And looming above and beyond this, will have to be a plan for peace along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and in Afghanistan itself.

Enough people have died, either violently or from the bad health that this region's bad politics resonates with. Even if their leaders and friends are men and women with moderate amounts of blood on their hands, there is time and there are resources to control the situation, create an environment for a succession to a new generation of leadership, and prevent the situation from crossing a moral event horizon.

Source: Chapati Mystery
RIP Richard Holbrooke

RIP Hangu Six

RIP Karam Abbas

This
post is now published on the web page of the Critical Supporters of the Pakistan Peoples Party Website.

A Post On How To Bring To End the Conflict in Afghanistan

Pakistan, Iran and Russia. The middle one completely hated by the US, the former and latter, sort of trusted. Russia must bring pressure to bear on it's guys, remnants of the Northern Alliance, the Iranians have influence with the people who control Herat, and Pakistan has some very obvious links with the Taliban. All three agree, they don't fight once the US leaves.

Chinese money is already in Afghanistan.
I don't think they want to annex Afghanistan.

But the Chinese would like "stability" in Afghanistan.

India can continue to build roads, electricity poles,

Now there are a million things that could go wrong with a plan like this. The Order of Battle For Jihadi Islam Across the Durand Line covers the obvious suspects.



But as well as them, there are more people who can make things go off the rails.

1) The Pakistan military may either become expansionist (through it`s Taliban allies), the officers may be "swept along" by Taliban victories and want to let the Taliban move forward, or the Indian presence may be too provocative (prove to be an easy target), or the Indians may seem too powerful, and the Pakistanis just start attacking them wantonly, precipitating a Taliban drive for power.

2) Younger commanders on the ground start doing their own thing (killing opponents) whilst paying lip service to Mullah Umar (still in Pakistan). Sort of like how MQM sector commanders say they listen to their leaders at the top of the party, but kill local rivals nonetheless, physically strengthening the MQM's position, whilst simultaneously threatening a larger war with either the government, the ANP or the PPP. The younger Taliban commanders could start killing off local rivals, threatening an escalation to a larger war.

3) The Americans may simply go apeshit at the prospect of peace at the hands of the Iranians and Russians. Although why they would scuttle this only as a matter of pride or irrationality is inexplicable, although expectable considering their past involving Iraq 2003.

4) There is also the fact that the success of the Taliban in Afghanistan was bought on the backs of regiments of Pakistani soldiers who were ordered to use their mechanised equipment, and provide close air support to the Taliban. It was this developed military approach that bought the Taliban success against the Northern Alliance. How easy or difficult would it be for the Pakistan Military to restart such a program, where they bought their equipment into Afghanistan and used it to pound the Afghan National Army until it collapsed?

There are possible answers to these troubling scenarios.

1) Pakistan has suffered multiple casualties at the hands of religious extremists; there may be little tolerance for more religious nutjobs to take the helm of Afghanistan, killing fellow Afghans AFTER the US withdraws.

2) The Afghan Taliban may keep themselves "together" (or as much together as a disparate guerrilla movement can) and the younger commanders may be reeled in by the now, very old, 90's Taliban leadership, who *might* be feeling tired of war. That is a big *might*. Much of the senior leadership has fought in the Soviet-Afghan Jihad, the Afghan civil war, and now the US occupation of Afghanistan. They have faced down the Warsaw Pact, all manner of other Afghans and NATO. It just might be possible that they may be feeling tired of war. A wild card would be the question, would Pakistan provide the same sort of all around military support for a new drive by the Afghan Taliban? I will adress that as well.

3) The Americans cannot possibly be this stupid, as to toss away peace in Afghanistan, especially when they give the impression of being trapped there, and news leaking out constantly of them negotiating with the Taliban. Even fakers like the silly greedy "Mullah" Mansoor, of Quetta shopkeeping fame. Now the Americans are pounding the Afghan border and Khyber Agency in frustration, whilst the young commanders are quietly in hiding.

4) This is the hardest, would the Pakistan military bring in it's artillery, tanks and close air support to aid the Afghan Taliban. You're asking me to predict the future, and to be honest, maybe, one could hope that not this time around. The Pakistan military must be reminded of it's mental limitations, it's capacity for stupidity at every turn, and told to keep away from adventures in Afghanistan. For God's sake, tell them to look at their casualty lists for just the last three years.

Peace in Afghanistan, and the regularisation of FATA's status (possibly as a separate province, but also possibly as a place where regular law applies, that could join Pakhtunkhwa) must be made a serious, serious policy plank of the PML-N, the PPP, the ANP, the MQM and just about every Baloch political organisation that exists. Only together can they make the Pakistan military comply. I appeal to the PPP, the PML-N, the ANP, the MQM, and the electoral competitors of Balochistan to pressure and fight towards this. It is our future.

This post is now published on the web page of the Critical Supporters of the Pakistan Peoples Party Website.

Abbas Brothers II – Why I Wrote on Them

This is the last post on the phenomenon of the Abbas brothers, on which I have written before. These people are individuals and will retire one day. Everything that could be said about these individuals, has been said. After this we must return to keeping an eye on the Institutions of Pakistan, and their various interplays, which is what will determine the future course of events. I give my reasons for writing this in the blog post itself. Enjoy.

I am a questioning sort of person. I question that which makes me curious, or that which piques my interest, yet I do not understand. And a certain blog piqued my interest. Reader Murtaza Jafri is a google follower of this blog by a certain, former employee of Dawn.

The blog, aside from tapping into the massive trope of Pakistan being nothing but a “land of terror” (which plays into a deeply impoverished view of Pakistan, reducing a much, much more complex land into the bare idea of angry bearded Muslims, and non angry, non bearded Muslims), made a swiping reference in every other post about a man whom I would presume was the writer’s former boss, Zafar Abbas. And every third or so post would make reference to Mr Zafar Abbas being the brother of General Athar Abbas of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR- the military’s PR department).

That blog, and that employee were, to put it politely, a few cards short of a full deck. It is the policy of this writer and this blog, when one comes across what could be real out and out psychological damage, to keep quiet and back away slowly. Which is what I did. The author of that blog even referenced his own psychological situation, confirming what one suspected about him as a mentally damaged human being. That blogger even admitted being in such a precarious psychological state, and described his current conditions as that of a classic shut-in. So I skimmed and backed away slowly. And I realised as I closed the browser window that this lunatic had 34 google followers, and all I could muster were 6. Wow; even an out and out nutjob had more readers than me.

Or maybe it was just that he was realising the situation of current mainstream middle class Pakistan. Quoth Nadeem Farooq Paracha’s twitter:

Conspiracies theories are not theories, but a fact in Pakistan. Elvis is alive in Waziristan – thus the drone attacks.

I’m afraid that Nadeem Paracha may be too close to the truth.

As for this gentleman and his blog, they shall remain unnamed. I don’t want any strange google results for/from him leading to me. If you have any doubts about how annoying skewed Google results are, ask the folks at Five Rupees blog about their “Aunty” problem someday. I do not wish to skew my google results into any acknowledgement of this man’s batshit lunacy. For all I know, he may have gotten fired from Dawn because his English writing skills stink. Seriously speaking, the grammar of his blogposts was atrocious, and this was a man who claimed to have been employed by what could be called Pakistan’s premier English daily. Standards of grammatical correctness had been slipping at Dawn, but he who shall remain unnamed used some really lousy English on his blog.

Moving beyond this man who was singularly obsessed with the Abbas brothers, and their “possible” role in getting him fired, many people had randomly mentioned this band of brothers who seemed to have reached top journalistic positions in one industry at the same time. Random comments on the Cafe Pyala page, conspiratorial ones on the LUBP page, and random tweets on this subject. Cafe Pyala, I especially feel sorry for, because as anonymous journalists writing about the media industry from inside it, they probably got too many requests to write on more than they even wished to broach. And since there is so much overt and covert corruption in Pakistan, there is sadly no dearth of negatively painted stories for them to cover. Why cover an obscure bunch of brothers who had a massive coincidence of luck, where all of them occupy important positions in various media producing groups (even the ISPR counts as this) at the exact same time in history. Better to go after their bosses, especially as working journalists, the Cafe Pyala-walas actually have an easier time getting dirt on the media owners that a “civilian” could not easily come by.

But that still leaves this very interesting story of these brothers in high positions across media companies at the same time...

So last weekend, I found myself home from a social engagement that had ended a little too early and I was feeling a little p-o’ed about.

Maybe writing would help. So I did. And then the idea of taking Critical PPP on their offer to publish anything if it was worth it popped into my mind. And all those very interesting internet comments on the Abbas Brothers looked like a question worth asking about.

So why not be original? A critical look into the ethical implications of hiring a group of brothers into senior positions in a somewhat influential media industry, whilst their brother is in charge of the establishment’s military media mouthpiece, in the middle of a war?

Sounded nice. And I think it was.

And in the back of my mind there was a voice that said some part of it won’t fit into the story. What part? Oh yeah, the one about the crazy ex-employee. Let’s just focus on the bosses. And in an evening’s haze of exhaustion, to keep it simple that is what I did.

But you the reader, I believe deserve to know about the unhinged employee and his blog that is out there. I will not link directly to it myself. But you can go search for it yourself. As for me, the depressing story of the Abbas brothers ends here. I’ve had enough of trying to dissect psy-ops. It’s back to the messiness, of real blood and guts ethnic warfare in Pakistan for me.

I’ll leave the propaganda and counter propaganda to the hacks, shrinks and various headjobs of the world.

This post is now published on the web page of the Critical Supporters of the Pakistan Peoples Party Website.

O'Children by Nick Cave and the Seeds




For a moment of peace in a war of fear and terror.

Listen.

Friday, December 17, 2010

We Pakistanis Are Such Trolls

And that's not me talking, that's Tom Toles' opinion. Here he is on Afghan peace and the war in general. I just laughed out loud.


Gotta love that speccy mustachioed mix of Zardari and Musharraf.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Umberto Eco on Wikileaks - Real Secrets are Empty Secrets and Technology Moves Crabwise

Here is Novelist Umberto Eco's somewhat philosophical take on Wikileaks (originally published in the magazine Liberation), with my comments in bold blue:

Not Such Wicked Leaks

02 December 2010 Libération Paris
The WikiLeaks affair has twofold value. On the one hand, it turns out to be a bogus scandal, a scandal that only appears to be a scandal against the backdrop of the hypocrisy governing relations between the state, the citizenry and the press. On the other hand, it heralds a sea change in international communication – and prefigures a regressive future of “crabwise” progress.

But let’s take it one step at a time. First off, the WikiLeaks confirm the fact that every file put together by a secret service (of any nation you like) is exclusively made up of press clippings.

Strange, but true; most Blogistani analysis is based on being well informed news consumers - but as our country's reporters have said, it`s nice to see confirmation. Original spying involves going out, making contacts, specifically with those who don`t generally speak to the press, and getting information that it might be illegal, or too dangerous for news reporters to pick up.

The “extraordinary” American revelations about Berlusconi’s sex habits merely relay what could already be read for months in any newspaper (except those owned by Berlusconi himself, needless to say), and the sinister caricature of Gaddafi has long been the stuff of cabaret farce.

Embassies have morphed into espionage centres

The rule that says secret files must only contain news that is already common knowledge is essential to the dynamic of secret services (O RLY? I thought that would be grounds for redundancy; an excuse to fire lazy spies and analysts), and not only in the present century. Go to an esoteric book shop and you’ll find that every book on the shelf (on the Holy Grail, the “mystery” of Rennes-le-Château [a hoax theory concocted to draw tourists to a French town], on the Templars or the Rosicrucians) is a point-by-point rehash of what is already written in older books. And it’s not just because occult authors are averse to doing original research (or don’t know where to look for news about the non-existent), but because those given to the occult only believe what they already know and what corroborates what they’ve already heard (Intellectual Apathy FTW). That happens to be Dan Brown’s success formula.

The same goes for secret files. The informant is lazy. So is the head of the secret service (or at least he’s limited – otherwise he could be, what do I know, an editor at Libération): he only regards as true what he recognises. The top-secret dope on Berlusconi that the US embassy in Rome beamed to the Department of State was the same story that had come out in Newsweek the week before.

So why so much ado about these leaks? For one thing, they say what any savvy observer already knows: that the embassies, at least since the end of World War II, and since heads of state can call each other up or fly over to meet for dinner, have lost their diplomatic function and, but for the occasional ceremonial function (and visa applications for those outside the EU), have morphed into espionage centres. Anyone who watches investigative documentaries knows that full well, and it is only out of hypocrisy that we feign ignorance. Still, repeating that in public constitutes a breach of the duty of hypocrisy (that's a phrase that should be publicised, "breach of the duty of hypocrisy"), and puts American diplomacy in a lousy light.

A real secret is an empty secret

Secondly, the very notion that any old hacker (It wasn't a hacker, it was a whistleblower/leaker who passed the files from inside the State Department to the public site Wikileaks) can delve into the most secret secrets of the most powerful country in the world has dealt a hefty blow to the State Department’s prestige. So the scandal actually hurts the “perpetrators” more than the “victims”.

But let’s turn to the more profound significance of what has occurred. Formerly, back in the days of Orwell, every power could be conceived of as a Big Brother watching over its subjects’ every move. The Orwellian prophecy came completely true once the powers that be could monitor every phone call made by the citizen, every hotel he stayed in, every toll road he took and so on and so forth. The citizen became the total victim of the watchful eye of the state. But when it transpires, as it has now, that even the crypts of state secrets are not beyond the hacker’s (whistleblower dammit) grasp, the surveillance ceases to work only one-way and becomes circular. The state has its eye on every citizen, but every citizen, or at least every hacker – the citizens’ self-appointed avenger – can pry into the state’s every secret.

Not really, the capacity for surveillance has gone up manifold, with cryptography preventing any casual breaking into the government's system even by a moderately skilled script kiddy. However the reason the state doesn't spy more, is that it may drown in data it's living analysts may be unable to humanly analyse. Of course this is where advances in artificial intelligence, botnets and faster, more powerful processing speeds can come into play.

How can a power hold up if it can’t even keep its own secrets anymore? It is true, as Georg Simmel once remarked, that a real secret is an empty secret (which can never be unearthed) (i.e, Only one or two people know it); it is also true that anything known about Berlusconi or Merkel’s character is essentially an empty secret, a secret without a secret, because it’s public domain. But to actually reveal, as WikiLeaks has done, that Hillary Clinton’s secrets were empty secrets amounts to taking away all her power. WikiLeaks didn’t do any harm to Sarkozy or Merkel, but did irreparable damage to Clinton and Obama.

Technology now advances crabwise

What will be the consequences of this wound inflicted on a very mighty power? It’s obvious that in future, states won’t be able to put any restricted information on line anymore (I'm not too sure about that): that would be tantamount to posting it on a street corner (Not necessarily). But it is equally clear that, given today’s technologies, it is pointless to hope to have confidential dealings over the phone. Nothing is easier than finding out whether a head of state flew in or out or contacted one of his counterparts. So how can privy matters be conducted in future? Now I know that for the time being, my forecast is still science fiction and therefore fantastic, but I can’t help imagining state agents riding discreetly in stagecoaches along untrackable routes, bearing only memorised messages (Haha, maybe) or, at most, the occasional document concealed in the heel of a shoe. Only a single copy thereof will be kept – in locked drawers. Ultimately, the attempted Watergate break-in was less successful than WikiLeaks.

I once had occasion to observe that technology now advances crabwise, i.e. backwards (shouldn't crabwise mean sideways?). A century after the wireless telegraph revolutionised communications, the Internet has re-established a telegraph that runs on (telephone) wires. (Analog) video cassettes enabled film buffs to peruse a movie frame by frame, by fast-forwarding and rewinding to lay bare all the secrets of the editing process, but (digital) CDs now only allow us quantum leaps from one chapter to another (Mr Eco, you're a great writer, but not too accomplished with technology. You can use your DVD remote now to slow a movie down to 1/32 of a second. And if you want to slow down frames in a film on your computer, you can install VLC player). High-speed trains take us from Rome to Milan in three hours, but flying there, if you include transfers to and from the airports, takes three and a half hours. So it wouldn’t be extraordinary if politics and communications technologies were to revert to the horse-drawn carriage.

Why not? A regressive technological approach would seem appropriate for regressive political thought. One should admit though, technologies come with their own pre-packaged ideologies. Books and press had their own ideology, television had its own, and the internet, its own new ideology. Wikileaks is a manifestation of the internet’s underlying ideology. The “apprehension”, or subservience to power as others might call it, of television journalists, is a manifestation of their subservience to televisions underlying ideology.

One last observation: In days of yore, the press would try to figure out what was hatching sub rosa inside the embassies. Nowadays, it’s the embassies that are asking the press for the inside story.

If the press had done its job, there would have been no need for Wikileaks.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Doctor - Craig Ferguson Gets To Publicly Celebrate His Nostalgia




All we can can ask is, for the triumph of intellect and romance, over brute force and cynicism.

Saleem Shehzad You Idiot - With Friends Like the J-I, Who Needs Enemies?

Now I know why I stopped reading the Asia Times. They're a bunch of well informed bastards, who are completely ineffective at making any sort of policy change, due to an inability to change their strange unblinking paradigms. Anyway, I stopped reading the A-Times in December 2009, and I have to say that its been an excellent 2010 ever since. But then some Huff-Po article refered me to it and I started following the hyperlinks until I came to this shining turd of wisdom by the ever borderline schizophrenic Syed Saleem Shahzad, in an article from July 2010 about how JTI members from Karachi were defecting to the Taliban in Waziristan (about a month after Herald covered the same point) saying:

"the country's most influential Islamic party - always considered a major strategic asset for the military establishment - have joined forces with al-Qaeda."

Good. So maybe we can get down to the business of killing of the JI? After I segued into the written "statement" by Al Qaeda in Shehzad's piece, I disgustedly thought, this is the same group that sponsored Al-Badr and Al-Shams, and you want us to be what, friends, with them? Fuck The JI. And if Al Qaeda increases its chances for electability by merging with the JI, even better. Al Qaeda won't get elected, and Pakistanis will have an excuse to hunt down and kill members of the JI like dogs. You know the JI has it coming. Any Pakistani over the age of 9 instinctively knows the Jamat-e-Islami is trouble.

The ending of the piece is appropriately speculative and fear inducing:

"This new development of IJT students joining al-Qaeda is more dangerous for Pakistan than any other previous al-Qaeda alliances. Most colleges and universities are the stronghold of the IJT, while the IJT's parent body, the JI, is the richest political party in the country and runs schools, madrassas (seminaries) and a vast network of social services and charities. Karachi contributes about 65% of the JI’s revenues."

Yes, as if Pakistani public university campuses up until 2010 were renowned as centres of peace and tranquility in a country beset with violence. Oh no, wait, our campuses have been renowned for their volatility since the 1950's. Anyway, we can't let the fearfest end without the possibility of Al Qaeda picking up a few parliament seats:

"When the Kashmiri fighters joined forces with al-Qaeda, it improved the group's guerrilla techniques in the battlefield, while the IJT cadre will greatly boast al-Qaeda's recruitment drive and enhance its political influence."

Yes Syed sahab, Al Qaeda's "political influence". Al Qaeda's communiques telegraph deep worries that they may not pick up a few ministerships in Pakistan this time around, maybe because of all the head lopping and suicide bombings associated with them.


But hey, Syed bhai and readers of Asia Times, don't stop pretending it's still 1997, the Asian bust isn't about to happen and an electronic media revolution hasn't happened in Pakistan that would throw up about a million other voices who could influence Pepe Escobar's point of view on Pakistan, or could allow the Asia Times to find a new Pakistani besides Syed Shehzad. Oh wait they can! Fatima Bhutto, who only after the entire world, learnt trhough Wikileaks about how far the US has its finger up Pakistan's backside, is now a writer for the Asia Times. Wow. I guess you need a misinformed demi-orientalist audience to keep the job going. But to get a real flair for Miss Bhutto's article, you have to use the Ctrl+F function on your browser. Type in Asia Times spelling for "Kiani", Musharraf's successor as Chief of Army Staff, and click the "highlight" option. Three hits. OK. Now type in "Zardari" and highlight. Obsession revealed? Sorry Ms Bhutto, we know you hold him responsible for the murder of your father, but ma'am, one man does not make a difference over the clash of institutions, and the further clash of that collective of institutions with a network of dedicated techno holy warriors, and an expansive empire that wishes to weaken both at the same time. Plus, is there some agency that can be granted to the Pakistani people or voters, to not be total puppets of the military, the empire or the militants? No? Well then I have a writing position at the Asia Times open for You!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Corrigendum

Apparently the Balochistan Liberation United Front took responsibility for the attack on Chief Minister Raisani. Another Lashkar-e-Jhangvi spokeman came up and denied responsibility for the attack. The BLUF spokesman strongly contradicted what the L-e-J spokesterrorist said.

It would be pertinent here to mention, that keeping the oppression of Balochistan-Sistan in mind, Baloch nationalism has an undercurrent of anti-Shia-ism, or ultra-Sunni-ism, that should not be discounted. This creates an environment conducive for viciously anti-Shia militants like the L-e-J to settle in.

Can You Read the Baloch Hal in Pakistan?

If any readers of this blog are currently inside Pakistan, using a Pakistani ISP, please do tell us in the comment sections, with your name published, if you can access, The Baloch Hal inside the country.

Thanks.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

NFP Steps Up to Granta and the Atlantic Monthly

NFP has been set off by some new changes in the music scene. Good to see the man return to the field he helped contribute most to, and the time he knows best of, i.e, the eighties. It's obvious that the apparent changes that NFP is responding to is the rise of Coke Studio, the rise of religious extremism, the responses or non-reponses by various Pakistanis and the international attention showered on Pakistan's cultural scene by the Afghan conflict spilling into our territory.

This particular article was possibly set off by a lazy Atlantic Monthly web piece that equated Coke Studio with fighting the Taliban, when the Pakistani blogosphere and its interviewed members unequivocally told the Atlantic Monthly author, that Coke Studio had NOTHING to do with fighting terrorism, and EVERYTHING to do with good music. Why this Riddi Shah decided to ignore what Ahsan at Five Rupees told her in his interview, and published a squarely Orientalist piece is between her, her editor and their shrink. But it was good to see Ahsan take it down. That same Atlantic Monthly piece made the grievous error of saying that the Zia regime had banned ALL music. NFP led with debunking that misconception, and mentions the perennial love Pakistanis have for their music. I think its a bit unfair to paint countries of the greater Middle East as not loving their music. I'm sure they do, but our musicians keep singing and playing despite poverty.

I liked this part:

Throughout Zia’s regime, folk and national songs (created with the help of modern instruments) appeared frequently on state TV and radio but this time, it was heavily punctuated with conservative subject matter and imagery such as loud demonstrations of faith, family values, the glory of the armed forces, etc.

General Zia Approves !
Illustration by Eefa Khalid/Dawn.com

And thanks for linking to the video of Har Garhi Tyar Kamran Hai Hum! I love that song!

*Side Note: Notice How this Army Propaganda Song has Dam Mast Qalandar Ali Ali in it! Nice!

NFP rehashed the old established idea of Zia institutionalising hypocrisy in Pakistan. However, he adds a fresh approach by calling the Zia regime contradictory. I think now he's adding this new perspective in light of Granta's piece by Kamila Shamsie, who is only barely younger than NFP, but chronicled her adolescent interactions with music in the later periods of Zia's rule. It brings a smile to ones face imagining the grinning dictator giving a lecture on patriotism to Nazia and Zoheb.

NFP also enters Kamila Shamsie's territory with his full throttled defense and illumination on Salman Ahmed and Sufi Rock and fusion music in general. I personally wondered what NFP thought about the concept of Sufi Rock. I thought he might sneer at it. Imagine my surprise when I see him praise it back into the Zia era, and forward to Coke Studio. That's also nice; to see Coke Studio get its due from the man who helped shape Junoon and to an extent, Vital Signs.

I was glad to see my instinct from the nineties acknowledged, that "pop on TV and radio hit a peak during the second Benazir government (1993-96)". Also the idea of the Nawaz Sharif of today, banning a song that "incites people to rebel against authority" makes one laugh out loud.

And ending the piece on the current threat of religious pressure groups and violent extremists is one that points at those musicians who recognise the new paradigms, and will adapt and innovate to give us better music for the future. Rohail Hyat, with Coke Studio, is just the most high profile of these praiseworthy auteurs. An excellent and fresh take on the modern pop scene by NFP.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wikileaks's at the intersection of Journalism, Libraries, Internet Culture, Cryptography and Sweden. Why Wouldn't I Love It?

Here is a heartfelt defense of Wikileaks by Heather Mallick, and the need to learn unpleasant truths, when Wikileaks` Foes Love the Sound of Silence. Working on the addage of being hated by the right people, the second paragraph makes your chest swell with pride for Julian Assange`s organisation:

The list of the people who want Assange dead or arrested does him great credit. They include the repulsive Senator Joe Lieberman; our own casually violent Tom Flanagan, who mentored Prime Minister Stephen Harper; world leaders who are ancient, horny and corrupt (hi there, Silvio Berlusconi); tyrants like Russian PM Vladimir Putin; the American live-free-or-diers (Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Charles Krauthammer) . . . you know, intellectuals.

You Know I Was Looking For An Excuse To Use This ;-)
Because Anonymous Approves...Deeply

Now look at how wikipedia defined it`s Wikileaks discussion page:


Stay tuned...there`s more to come. A certain Bank in (of) America is currently peeing it`s pants.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

We need a plan to replace the Deep State with a democratic state - Reading Kamran Shafi, NFP, and then Kamran Shafi Again

Kamran Shafi laughs, as everything he had been predicting and worrying about is proven by the Wikileaks cables.

Nadeem Farooq Paracha chuckles at the collective delusion of Pakistanis who express admiration for the Saudi state.

And then we return to Mr Shafi for an interview with LUBP, as he outlines opposition to the Pakistani establishment; what he calls the Deep State. Here's Mr Shafi's view on how those people with voices look up to the army too much, along with the last two questions he was asked:

Q: Why is “mainstream Pakistan” so reluctant to speak up when journalists such as yourself, Umar Cheema, Marvi Sirmed, and more recently Lala Hameed Baloch of Balochistan are harassed and attacked?

K.S. Because large parts of the media are in the pay of the ‘agencies’; the chattering classes are in awe of the army and hate politicians, and the poor are too scared.

Q: What is your prediction for the next few years in Pakistan?

K.S. It will go from bad to worse to far worse – I fear greatly for our country, bless it. There is no way anything can improve so long as the army and its agencies call the shots.

Q: What, in your opinion, will be the impact of the end of the Afghan war on the already fragile domestic political situation in Pakistan?

K.S. There is no “end” of the Afghan war in sight. Forget domestic politics, it is the geographical integrity of the country that I am worried sick about. The Taliban are not going to go all peaceful if and when the war ends as Taliban apologists like Imran Khan and Hamid Gul suggest. Far from it. As I have said earlier, this is a creeping coup with the aim of establishing an Islamic Emirate of Pakistan, with all the obscurantism that goes with it.

What fascinated and angered me was the idea of religious fanatics who want to overthrow not just the state, but the "Deep State". There is no Wikileaks coming for Pakistan that can directly expose the fanatics here. The wiki-dump came from America, which was assessing the Pakistani state, which in itself is in contact (but not control) of the fanatics. Pakistanis need a plan to replace the Deep State with a democratic state; and prevent the Jamaat/Lashkar/Taliban types from trying to swoop in and fill the vacuum.

CM Raisani Escapes a Suicide Attack, Whilst Fifty People Killed At a Tribal Group's Meeting

Maen yeh kis kay naam likhoo jo alam guzar rahay hain,
Meray shehr jal rahay hain meray loag marr rahay hain.


- Ambassador Haqqani's Tw. Feed

Actually Geo, it's 50 dead. Could be higher by today even, with people succumbing to injuries. The suicide attack was targeting a tribal meeting to resolve issues in the area. Mohmand is a Federally Administered Tribal Agency that borders Afghanistan, and has been the site of numerous battles.

More serious (with respect to the families of those who lost family yesterday), is the suicide murder attempt against the Chief Minister of Balochistan. This is insanely serious. This is an intersection of a man who has proven himself a softcore Baloch Nationalist* with Talibanism. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, as most people know, runs interception for the Taliban types where-ever possible. This is insanely serious. If this had succeeded.......the inflammation of tensions between Balochistan and the rest of Pakistan, could even have exceeded Bugti's murder. Pakistan is held together by it's electoral politcal parties and it's political elites. Target them, or allow the military or the religious fanatics to target them, or allow the military to use the religious parties to target them (as many Baloch nationalists could interprete a "successful" attack), and you have a "burn, baby burn situation".

*Good job on CM Raisani, opposing the Singaporeans running Gwadar, whilst watching out for the weird news on a Reqo Diq mining `deal`.

Postscript: Good to hear CM Raisani sounds angry. He may not get scared, but he may get even. Actions will tell, how far this goes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Screen Based Civiliazation Portends Dysgenic Dystopia

Our increasing interaction with a screen-based world can see that "our thought patterns could change beyond recognition, with implications as serious as climate change in terms of human sustainability and longevity".

It's actually a very interesting attempt to look at the way that our world could change, as the saturation of screens in our world continues.

You know what I thought?

IDIOCRACY !






This little Mike Judge creation came out in the fall of 2006 by Fox Entertainment. I remember when it came out, but was unable to watch it because it wasn't playing in the small town I was stuck in, and was soon pulled from circulation. I guess Fox didn't like the idea of a successful movie playing of the idea of a stupider United States, possibly because the Australian Rupert Murdoch's company was contributing to this little episode of decline. And maybe the United States, and English speaking audiences didn't like that idea either, since Idiocracy has gone on to be a sleeper hit, a cult dvd, whilst the United States has elected a man known for his intelligence, and his main opposition faction is the Tea Party, a collective not known for the power of its combined IQ. Maybe that's what progressives want to do. Fight Dystopia. Fight Idiocracy.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Backgrounder - Journeyman Has a Docu' on Wikileaks - Meanwhile the Indo-Pak Cyber War Rages

I have updated the "Raw News" sidebar with the new web address of Wikileaks; www.wikileaks.ch . All power to them. I would also appreciate if more people went to more of the sites I have listed under Raw News.

An excellent introduction to Julian Assange. Journeyman pictures does very professional, somewhat informative, sometimes enlightening, quickie-documentaries on whatever is in the news. The problem with them is that they have a fearful, ultra-urgent edge, which leaves the viewer feeling not-very empowered. That was at least the tone of their documentaries whenever they did them on Pakistan. This focus on delivering urgency without agency made them the opposite of Wikileaks. Which, whilst focusing on Julian Assange, was the subject of their documentary.

It is a must watch, just for the history it recounts, of Julian Assange, from his hacking days, through the foundation of wikileaks, the support they received in Iceland for some documents they published on banks that were responsible for Iceland's economic collapse. An Icelandic television journalist's support is watched, in connecting the Wikileaks crew with the families and social networks in Iraq that had their members gunned down in the Collateral Murder video, onto what can be described as the duplicity of some members of the mainstream US press, where they sat on the Collateral Murder video, on to video of a very obviously mentally diseased Adrian Lamo speaking in defence of his own whistle blowing of Bradley Manning. Mr Lamo before this, had been in trouble with US authorities for his own internet related criminal misdemeanours.

Journeyman made another documentary, in the summer just before, the release of the Afghan War Logs, when he came to the UK, where he was worried about the Australian government complying with the US and handing him over to Uncle Sam. If you enjoyed Cafe Pyala's 2 minute Video of the Day, the 10 second time sequence will be enough for you to love this documentary. This is the sequence of combat events in Afghanistan compiled by Wikileaks, presented to Journeyman documentaries. Just to watch the Afghan territory south of the Kurram parrot's beak, immediately West of Waziristan, turn yellow with thumbtacks - wow it puts things in perspective for a Pakistani.

Watching all this that I had tracked for so long fleshed out is amazing, and is to an extent a credit to Journeyman's ability to churn out quickie docs. Remember, no mention is made of the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Logs, or the latest Cablegate document release. There have now been FOUR major expose`s that can be credited to Wikileaks. Julian Assange, a hacker, is now amongst the ranks of Che Guevara and Osama Bin Ladin, of infamous, successful insurgents who defied the foreign policy of the United States. His libertarian, ultra-capitalist ideology has distinguished him in the field of cyber warfare.

And speaking of cyber warfare. There`s a cute little cyber feud going around Pakistani and Indian websites. Pakistan made the mistake of hosting 36 government websites on one server, which were hacked and defaced by a group of Indians around the time of memorial for the Bombay attacks. In response a group of Pakistani hackers shot back and defaced 200 websites from India. The problem is that only one of these was a government website, the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation. The rest were civilian, dare I say, "collateral" damage. LOL's aside, the Indians got the drop on the Pakistani's because the government made the mistake of hosting so many websites on one server. The only effective Paki response was the one where they broke into the Indian Central Bureau of Investigations website. One server for one? Ah fuck it, the Indians got the drop with 36 websites gone (some like the National Accountability Bureau are still down, whilst others are back up), but hopefully lesson learned. As for the the brewing "Cyber War", I'm just popping the popcorn, and watching the LUL'Z fly by. Epic Lulz.

And now to tie these two separate topics together, here is India's Prannoy Roy speaking to Julian Assange. About Pakistan.


PM Gillani Vs PM Amin Fahim

A minor mystery to me was why Asif Ali Zardari, as regent of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), chose Syed Yusaf Raza Gillani, a man not many people outside of hardcore Pakistani political circles had heard of. The pundit favourite in the run up to selecting a Prime Minister in April 2008, after the February 2008 elections (held under the shadow of the assassination of former PM Benazir Bhutto) was Makhdoom Amin Fahim, a man who Benazir had designated the leader of the PPP throughout the years of the Musharraf era. In all honesty, the PPP did not appear to many observers as a force that could do much during the years following the 2002, semi-rigged, military rule sponsored elections. The PPP was practically banned, but it got around the ban by running as a separately named faction called the Pakistan People's Party (Parliamentarians). The PPPP (or Px4 if you want to be annoyingly specific) was led by Amin Fahim, but one always got a lacklustre feeling for the party during the years of the Musharraf regime. Not only did the party fail to excite, but it became obvious that years of propaganda against the party by the establishment, had compounded the horrific view of incompetence the party had acquired in it's years of power during the nineties. To be fair, when they were in office during the nineties, the party was hemmed in on one side by the military and civil/bureaucratic establishment, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz's party) on the other, and the raging insurgencies in Karachi and urban Sindh, plus the chaos in neighbouring Afghanistan. Benazir had a seriously over-flowing plate of trouble, and I don't blame her, with her limited political capital, focusing on firefighting more than anything else.
But coming back to the Mush years, the PPPP was supposed to represent a broken away rump of the PPP, running under Musharraf's rules. Amin's parliamentary group were supposed to be the PML-Q, to Benazir's "original" PPP. But whereas the PML-Q has become some sort of anemically weak conservative's club even after General Mushrraf's departue (the PML-N has been unable to reunite completely with them), the PPPP was well and truly the PPP, with an extra 'P' attached. This was proven when Benazir's party ran in the Feb 2008 elections, it ran as the PPP-Parliamentarians. Except their leader, Amin Fahim, was NOT running. Quoth a President Zardari phrase in Wikileaks, "had spent most of the [election] campaign in Dubai (with his latest 22 year-old wife)". So Amin Fahim, who is rumoured to have had his sisters married to the Quran (a disgusting practice where women are married of to the Holy Quran, so that they do not marry and split the family land), who already has a lousy (rumoured) track record on women's rights, a man who was born the year Hitler invaded Poland, "that man", had married a 22 year old in 2008.
Yech.
And he was "honeymooning" with this girl-child whilst his party was fighting it's country's most significant election campaign since 1993. He was fucking around in Dubai, when he should have been campaigning in Pakistan. No wonder future President Zardari said Amin Fahim, "had spent most of the [election] campaign in Dubai (with his latest 22 year-old wife) and was simply too lazy to be prime minister".

Lazy. So lazy you can't be bothered to show up for your party's most important election in a decade.

No wonder Zardari had no choice but to select Yusaf Raza Gillani. Even this cipher, with the jail addled brains would priove more reliable than Amin Fahim. And if Amin Fahim suffers from a laziness of such epic proportions, this also explains why the PPP structue was unable to mobilise much support during the Musharraf era. A lazy person, especially one with a Mustafa Khar like "appreciation" (minus the beatings) for women would not be the best person to do a re-vitalisation of the PPP. And he would certainly not have the imagination to revitalise even passive liberals of Pakistan. That is low hanging fruit, and a good PPP party worker would've been able to take some advantage of it, and had a small band of people rolling against the Musharraf government under the aegis of Musharraf, simply being unavoidable, and having our country's gentlemanly dictator resisted earlier, would have been the conscionable thing to do. Iftikhar Chaudhry would have been unnecessary. Maybe Musharraf could have been forced out earlier, with less drama.

And this Wikileaks cable helps prove it.

Incidentially, this paper also begins with outlining the succesion line that President Asif Ali Zardari had made in case he was assassinated; nominate his sister. I don't know if Ms Faryal Gauhar would be up to being President of Pakistan. Nepotism is an art with a group like the Zardari-Bhuttos. But it would've been annoying to the powers that be (to "eliminate" Zardari, and have his sister come in like spies) and that they would maybe, maybe stop trying to undermine democratically elected governments.

I don't think Faryal Talpur, would in any way be upto the role of President. Thank God, that "technically", the presidency of Pakistan is now (mostly) supposed to be a ceremonial role. Even with our jail-addled cypher of a Prime Minister, he strikes a Gladstone-ian chord in comparison to the prospect of Mr Zardari's sister, succeeding the man to the President of Pakistan. One shudders at time for this fair country.

Correction: I accidently wrote that President's Asif Ali Zardari's sister is Faryal Gauhar. As Anon 4:28 pointed out, her name is actually Faryal Talpur.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Now You Have the US Embassy in Islamabad being Somehow the Spokesperson for the Most Clandestine Unit of the US Military? - Jeremy Scahill

I ROTFLMAO'ed when I heard it. Long live Jeremy Scahill. Blackwater is bandied about by irresponsible, lazy and bigotted members of Pakistan's press to cover for when Muslim militants actually kill Pakistanis. My old analysis on Blackwater only happened when there was a REAL report on the Blackwater (now Xe)/JSOC combine, in Pakistan by Jeremy Scahill in the Nation magazine. And it's been quiet on the Blackwater front since then because, well, they're a secretive unit, they try not to put out press releases on their Pakistan ops. Well, Wikileak's Cablegate has blown the lid of that, sending Xe/Blackwater/JSOC's reputation into a real tizzy.

Jeremy Scahill sahab updates in the Nation with an article now called The (Not So) Secret (Anymore) US War in Pakistan.

The quote in the title is taken from a Democracy Now interview Mr Scahill does with Ms Amy Goodman and Mr Juan Gonzalez. He describes how he out of the blue received a phone call from a member of Admiral Mike Mullen's office because of his first Nation article last year on Blackwater. That would be the equivalent of a Pakistani journalist receiving an out of the blue call from the Chief of Air Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, or the Joint Chief of Staff Shamim Wynne's office on some random security related article that was written. Scahill tries to receive a confirmation or a denial on his Nation piece. The spokes-officer is non-committal. My guess is that some Pakistani (security) official (or maybe a reporter) must have bought up this article with the US embassy.

The US State Department was asked about last year's Nation story on Blackwater and it stupidly referred to the US embassy in Pakistan. Then you have the result where the US embassy in Islamabad issued a denial on the Most Clandestine Unit of the US Military.

It appears from the levity of his attitude that Mr Scahill has been infected with the Pakistani/Punjabi habit of making a joke out of some really, really grim situations. All power to him.

I am willing to bet there must have been some Pakistani involved somewhere. Maybe it was the soldiers or officers deployed with JSOC who must have made some remark, and maybe some intelligence or civilian person inquired. That is probably what led to an eventual secret (but obviously not anymore) apology to General Kayani from the US military.

The US military did an investigation on the ground in Pakistan and Scahill was defamed in front of the Pakistani High Command (read General Kayani) and powerful US Senators and Congressmen (along with Seymour Hersh who did a lazy assessment on the Pakistani nuclear program) as being mentally unstable. It appears that whitewashing Pakistani stupidities, and stupidities done inside Pakistan is a necessity for the projection of American power. What a stupidity.

Here is Mr Scahill speaking on Democracy Now:



In light of Cablegate it's interesting to see some of this old information rehashed, but I would like to emphasise that us Pakistani's, keeping in mind what Arif Rafiq of Pakistan Policy blog said, I think Pakistanis would be more interested in reports with a higher classification that reveal what technologies and which human assets (civilian and military) provide the U.S. with sensitive information on Pakistan.