Saturday, October 30, 2010

And Let's Not Forget the Pakistani Propensity For Neglect

Government leaves villages wallowing in neglect - Dawn

NOOR PUR SHAHAN:Less than a kilometer from the sprawling residential complex of Pakistan's prime minister, villagers have to scrabble for firewood in the dirt if they want a cooked meal.

Noor Pur Shahan is typical of many villages in the country, where supplies of cooking gas, clean water, electricity, classrooms, and also hope for the future, are hard to come by.

Improving government services for millions of increasingly frustrated Pakistanis is critical for bringing economic and political stability to a country the United States sees as an indispensable ally in its global war on militancy.

Many say the current system of governance only benefits Pakistan's political elite and the wealthy. And it's one that drives disaffected young men to join Muslim militant groups violently opposed to the government, analysts say.

The administration of President Asif Ali Zardari, like many before it, is accused of being too corrupt and inept to ease widespread hardship. It denies the allegations.

But in Noor Pur Shahan, where goats roam on winding roads beneath lush mountains about 8 km northeast of the capital, these denials ring hollow.

“The government only looks after the rich people,” said Mohammad Aleem, an elderly man with a long white beard, as he clutched his cane.

Conditions are unlikely to improve anytime soon. The cash-strapped government slashed development spending after summer floods caused nearly $10 billion in damages.

Securing reconstruction funds may not be possible unless Pakistan persuades Western donors spending will be transparent and accounted for.

The International Monetary Fund, which has kept the economy afloat since 2008, wants Pakistan to implement politically sensitive economic reforms such as imposing new taxes and eliminating electricity subsidies.


Washington has pumped billions of dollars into Pakistan since the country joined the U.S. war on militancy after the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Little seems to have trickled down to the poor.

In the center of Noor Pur Shahan is a water purification plant inaugurated in 1963 by former Pakistani military leader Ayub Khan. The water largely flows to government offices in Islamabad. That means most residents are deprived of clean supplies.

Mukhtiar Hussain, a worker at the plant for 32 years, says villagers break pipes to steal water for their homes. “Things have gone from bad to worse,” he said.

A spokesman for the Capital Development Authority (CDA) said the government was working on an urban development programme to relocate people from places like Noor Pur Shahan so they can get better services.

Critics accuse the government of neglecting education as well, and warn that social ills will deepen.

At Noor Pur Shahan's state-funded boys secondary school, over 1,000 students are taught in 12 classrooms.

“There are only 20 computers and one teacher for computer studies,” said principal Iqbal Khan Niazi. The facility has not had clean water for three years. There are no playgrounds.

Umair Akhtar, 18, a villager, believes the army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its history, would do a better job running nuclear-armed Pakistan than civilian governments, even though that would hurt the country's democratic credentials.

He applied for a job in the CDA but says he has “no money to bribe people.”

Pakistan's government may be too preoccupied with a host of problems to notice the plight of people like him.

It faces stubborn Taliban insurgents who continue to carry out bombings despite army offensives, a possible showdown with the powerful Supreme Court, and relentless US pressure to help stabilise war-ravaged Afghanistan.

For some Pakistanis, God alone is the answer.

“We want to instil the fear of God in the students and want then to follow the life of the holy Prophet Mohammad. That is the answer to all problems,” said Niazi, the village's school principal. – Reuters

The Threat of a Starvation Disaster - Whilst You Were Observing the Explodey Bearded Men, The People Had Some Other Problems...

Stark warning three months into Pakistan flood crisis - Dawn.

ISLAMABAD: International aid agency Oxfam warned Friday that three months into Pakistan’s unprecedented flood crisis funds were drying up, putting millions at risk with swathes of farmland still under water.

The United Nations issued a record two-billion-dollar appeal for funds to cope with Pakistan’s worst humanitarian disaster, which ravaged an area roughly the size of England and affected 21 million people.

The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have estimated the damages at 9.7 billion dollars — almost twice those of Pakistan’s 2005 earthquake which killed more than 73,000 people.

“Funds for the UN flood appeal are drying up and threatening the aid and reconstruction effort,” Oxfam said in a statement marking the third month since heavy monsoon rains began falling in northwestern Pakistan.

“The crisis is far from over,” said Oxfam’s director in Pakistan, Neva Khan.

The United Nations issued the funding appeal on September 17 in New York. Officials say around 35 per cent of the appeal has been funded.

“Cases of disease are increasing and large areas remain under water in southern Sindh province,” said Oxfam. “As winter approaches, seven million people are still without adequate shelter.”

UN officials say 10 million people are in need of immediate food assistance and health authorities have reported 99 confirmed cases of cholera.

“The funding shortfall is so serious that existing regular food rations to 3.5 million people could be in jeopardy,” Oxfam said.

Tens of thousands of families, who had sheltered in schools and other buildings, are being newly displaced as schools reopen. Officials warn that some of the worst-affected areas could take up to six months to dry out.

The United Nations joined forces in urging donors to come forward, particularly for victims in the south, part of the country’s breadbasket.

Spokeswoman Stacey Winston said the United Nations and its partner agencies were doing everything possible to help the victims but warned: “It is simply not enough. We need to have more money.”

“The emergency still continues in Sindh and people are surrounded by water,” Winston said, adding that malnutrition, food security, health conditions and shelter are major concerns.

She said many areas in Sindh were surrounded by water, which she warned may not go down for another three months. “It is a very major concern to us.”

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said this week it had begun distribution of wheat seed to half a million farming families affected by the floods in order to allow the current planting season to take place.

Pakistan’s agriculture sector, which contributes 21 per cent to gross domestic product and employs about 45 per cent of the labour force, has suffered massive losses that are expected to last several years. —AFP

Four People Shot Dead in Quetta Sectarian Killings

A random act of sectarian violence happened in Quetta. You want an answer why there's been a sudden sprouting of sectarian murder in Quetta since the US invasion? Here's your answer:

It's not just the Afghan Taliban using Quetta for R & R (rest and recreation), it's also the attraction that poses to sect-ually motivated murderers (I'm sorry organisations) within Pakistan. They come and meet up with their idols, the Afghan Taliban, some locals from the city's Shia community accidentally run afoul of these random wackos, and the next thing you know, bad attitude mixes with sectarian prejudice and the situation explodes into an incident like this.

I will NOT call it an I.E.D

It's either a fucking road side bomb or a remote control bomb, NOT a fucking improvised explosive device. It's a bomb.

On Orakzai and the Killing of the Third Tier Leadership

First, Monsieur Rehman Malik:

They may have broken the terrorists back by eliminating the third tier leadership, but the head is still intact, with the government only accidentally kill the leadership. It is this leadership that is forging a strategic alliance with the urban based sectarian terrorists to kill Pakistanis. The TTP is offering military strength training and suicide bombers to the sectarian terrorists, as the Interior Minister said. However when the government "clears" an area, I have a feeling it ends up fighting the locally recruited fighters, a thrid tier of leadership, whilst the first and second tier either fight sporadically or run for a new set of hills. The people left behind fighting were supposed to be the Taliban's "local" recruiters. They either get killed or end up running. Which brings us to our next clip.

A government sponsored embed of Express Tribune/Express 24/7 reporters into Orakzai.

Now this news item from Dawn, where the military reports to the newspaper (as opposed to the newspaper finding out itself) that 12 militants were killed, when THEY assaulted the military, whilst one member of the security forces was killed in a remote control bomb attack on a convoy. So the army retaliates by "pounding" some "militant" "hideout" where twelve people are supposed to be killed.

By now the realisation must have dawned, that whatever the people in the government say, is not completely and totally close to the truth. They try to be factually correct, but at times may even disregard that; leaving out certain strategic calculations that they made and haven't spoken publicly to anyone about.

Now read what Farhat Taj (not from the government) has to say on the state of our "victory" in Orkazai, although I don't think its all civilians killed in Pakistan Army-Taliban crossfire. The point about commanders escaping is valid even though I think she goes out of the way to present an ultra Pakhtun nationalist viewpoint just to annoy people. The new generation of militants needs to be eliminated though, not the way the Pakistan military does it; but the entire leadership of the TTP and the sectarian groups. Problem is that the military still wishes to preserve some of the "active" groups. How to convince the military that these people are better off dead, or in a prison dungeon for the rest of their lives is a problem that the people of Pakistan and their government have to solve.

Let that all cook in your mind whilst you contemplate who gets killed (besides civilians) in these fights in FATA, and why our military kills the local schmucks of each district, but leaves the powerful Taliban commanders alone.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A North Waziristan Parliamentarian on His Own Constituency - NWA has Problems

“Our area has no development, no education, only madrasas (Islamic religious schools),” said Khan. “Our people listen five times a day to the maulvis (clerics) and they are always saying this is jihad.”

- Pakistan Border Region Becomes Terror Epicenter: DAWN

I generally don't care much for direct quotes, but Muhammad Kamran Khan, the Parliamentary rep for North Waziristan, makes a serious point. If there is no development in an area, then it makes perfect sense that obvious lunatics like the Taliban will have no problem convincing the kids of that territory to fight for them. Obviously a situation like that has to be remedied (development, etc.), but without security, nothing is going to happen.

The Dawn report I've linked to also has some very interesting paragraphs.

On Press non-access to North Waziristan:
"Because of the dangers, international journalists are restricted by the government from entering the territory."

I have a feeling that the Pak Gov (on the implicit wishes of the Pakistan military) kept the FATA area underdeveloped to act as a staging ground for assaults into Afghanistan during the Cold War days for our American "friends", a little place outside the jurisdiction of normal law (and strategically unsafe for journalists to wander around independent of surveillable firepower) from where less than legal actions can be carried out. Heck the next quote basically confirms it, but who would restrict this action back only till the 1980's?

"In the 1980’s, North Waziristan was a vital supply route for US-backed rebels fighting the invading Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Islamic holy warriors from around the globe flocked to the territory."

The underdeveloped and less than normally legal status of the FATA region would allow the military to possibly stash political prisoners here, to run drugs, to stash crooks who've committed crimes for the military inside Pakistan proper, as a repository for criminals absconding other provinces of Pakistan (this one I can confirm from living in Pakland), and possibly to keep the Pashtun population of Pakistan divided. The last one would make sense for the paranoid Pakistani nationalist in the earliest years of Pakistan (one who would fear the ANP and Afghan revanchism) but admittedly is an argument that would hold less water as the years go by. With just the right level of lawlessness (or imperial era standards of indiscriminate law enforcement) journalists can be scared away from entering, whilst intelligence people could still operate in FATA. After all, illegal activities are easier carried out, outside the eyes of the public. If a place is too "dangerous" for journalists, newspapers won't bother to regularly cover that place. The antique nature of the frontier crimes regulations which govern FATA, where political parties are not allowed to function legally would make it a de-politicised space where semi-legal or outright criminal plans can be carried out.

Anyway the article continued;
"If Pakistani forces go too far, “there will be a contagion of rage across the Pashtun tribes against the Pakistan army, and they will be faced with the choice of being driven from the tribal region (or) having a major wave of attacks in Pakistan cities,” Michael Scheuer, former CIA pointman in the hunt for bin Laden, told AP."

OK; Michael Scheuer. Wow, what can I say about this paleo-conservative? First off there are a lot of paleo-conservatives in Pakistan, so I respect and understand his position. However, he came from the school of thought that every country the terrorists came from should be attacked. Now aside from finding his sofa samurai attitude annoying, his analysis is kind of ahistorical and then contradictory. He starts with "if the Pakistani forces go too far". I would like to point out that to Mr Scheuer that the Pakistani forces have gone "too far". Mortars, artillery strikes, air strikes, many random and indiscriminate, these all are "too far". But there is a reason for them; the militants and the Taliban "went too far themselves". They did too much damage to too many people and the army had to be called out to put them down.

Last we come to the line which indicates that the entire Swat assault may not have been even worth it; "many troops are busy holding down the nearby valley of Swat, where the military put down a Taliban surge in 2008. “If we leave Swat today, they (the Taliban) will be back tomorrow,” said the security official."

Why isn't the police force in Swat capable of taking over. Albeit, the police force in all of Pakistan is incapable. Also, why did the military not eliminate the core leadership of the Taliban rather than simply go after the second tier (sporadically) and the third and fourth tier viciously. Why have the Taliban been allowed to live on as a weapon stored for use against Afghanistan? Or is it the military presence in Swat that continues to stoke the existence of the Taliban? These religious fanatics have proven themselves to be the ultimate social network; where you sign on to their ideology, fight or mount attacks with them when its convenient for you, then hide in your shell when the military comes down in force; squeaking there's no one here but us meeces.

A change in ideology is needed, and a change in strategy as well. Maybe hardwiring our society NOT to produce fanatics, whilst simultaneously killing, or interning in concentration/re-education camps, the various insane militants roaming North (and Central and South) Pakistan freely. And a cutback on the expectation of neo-imperialism in Afghanistan would also be appreciated.

I'm Glad I Use a Pseudonym...

Cause I have a feeling I'm in trouble.

Buh-Bye for today.

On Practical Electric Cars; and a Rising Asian Middle Class that can Afford Compact Electric Cars

A short environmental one while you were away.

A new demand for cars is about to rise from what may once be called the former third world, and to feed that demand, companies have to explore beyond petroleum to really make a profit.

Here's a Time magazine panel looking to the future.

It’s Time to Learn Who the Turis Are

Welcome to the Sectarian Republic of Pakistan. For a lot of people this is old news, but in the Kurram Agency of FATA, the Turi and Bangash tribes had a long standing feud running. When the Taliban-Al-Qaeda nexus entered FATA, and decided it was time to establish a khilafat, they sided with the Bangash tribe, simply because their opponents, the Turi, were Shia. Fast forward five years of killing later, and the Express Tribune has the news of another round of bloodletting about to begin. Try and read this article and list everything that’s wrong with this situation. My (incredulous) comments are in bold.

Averting a Doomsday Scenario

Taliban led by Mullah Toofan are allegedly planning coordinated attacks on the Shia community in Kurram.


ISLAMABAD: All key players in Pakistan’s tribal regions are maneuvering to avert what can be the bloodiest-ever sectarian conflict between the Taliban-supported Sunnis and the ‘besieged’ Shia community in Kurram Agency, officials and locals said.

Why have we reached the point where there is an armed “conflict” between tribal sectarian rivals.

The North Waziristan-based Haqqani network, top military officials and religious leaders from across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are trying hard to convince Taliban commanders from neighbouring Orakzai Agency to reconcile with the Shias in Parachinar, the main town in Kurram Agency.

Why aren’t they trying to convince the Taliban by killing them? Why the talk-talk?

Thousands of Orakzai-based Taliban, led by Maulana Noor Jamal, or Mullah Toofan, are allegedly planning coordinated attacks on the Shia community in Kurram to avenge the eviction of over 1,000 Sunni families by them two years ago.

Why is this Taliban leader alive? Why is his force concentrated and intact?

Kurram is the only Shia-dominated tribal area where the Taliban are now holding sway. It is a strategically important region because it borders Afghanistan and some important tribal regions.

OK, the Taliban hold sway. Then why do they have to attack the Turis? Either you hold sway or you don’t.

Residents from Parachinar told The Express Tribune that the Shia community has requested Maulana Sirajuddin Haqqani, who supervises the Haqqani network operations in North Waziristan, to mediate between them and Mullah Toofan’s commanders.

There was an earlier BBC article where they said that the Turi’s were actually resisting the Haqqani’s demand to move through Turi territory. Is Mullah Toofan some sort of weird threat to attack so that the Turis cave in to the Haqqanis?

Toofan is a nominee of Hakimullah Mehsud, the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander, for Orakzai and is notorious for his brutalities against those who oppose his rule in northern parts of the agency.

We know. Anybody associated with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan is a lunatic.

The Pakistan military has time and again claimed to have cleared the agency of militants but local residents contradict this claim. The entire Upper Orakzai is controlled by Mullah Toofan and Commander Tariq Afridi, a militant leader who once controlled the semi-tribal Dara Adamkhel area before his men were chased out by the military.

If we chased Tariq Afridi out of Darra Adamkhel, can’t we chase him and Mullah Noor Jamal (Toofan) out of Upper Orakzai. Or is the military incompetent?

The pair have their base-camp in a seminary in the Arghanja area of Dabori sub-district.

I have no fucking clue where that is and I personally don’t care. But if it’s legally defined as being in Pakistan, I do not want bloodshed there (that coming from a guy from Karachi).

“It is a facility similar to the one Maulana Fazlullah (Mullah Radio) had in Swat. It is their nerve centre,” a local source told The Express Tribune.

Whoop-de-doo. Flatten the damn place, but only when all the cockroaches are there all at once.

“It is from the Taliban network in Orakzai that the most serious threat to the Shias in Kurram emanates from,” said a Peshawar-based official.

So we’ve been fighting (or pretending to fight) for two years, and you Pakistan Army people still haven’t eliminated the bastards? And I don’t think it’s cause of what Indian whiners say that the Pakistan military is “saving” the Taliban, it’s just that they haven’t drawn up lists of the Talibs that have to be hunted and killed.

This was the reason the Shias from Kurram sought mediation from the Haqqanis, added a former parliamentarian from Kohat who has good terms with the Taliban. “They went there and asked Haqqani to get involved,” the former lawmaker explained, contradicting earlier media reports.

Last week, some leading newspapers reported that the Haqqani network wanted to seize control of the region to mount operations inside Afghanistan’s eastern provinces.

But the lawmaker denied these reports.

The lawmaker lies. I am sure the Haqqanis want access and they would gladly want the Turis dead. Why because these are the Haqqanis we are talking about. I wouldn’t trust those bastards with a baby bottle, let alone a stretch of territory. And the fact that Pakistani intelligence continues to “trust” these buggers, especially to install them in a “future” Afghanistan, speaks volumes on the stupidity of the Pakistani intelligence analyst teams. Oh, and the report they reference is this one from the BBC.

He was part of a delegation the Pakistani military sent last week to convince the Shias to let the ousted Sunnis families return home in Parachinar.

Does the Pakistan military do everything, like intelligence, diplomacy, internal political dealing, everything except fighting? God.

“The Shia community approached Haqqani with Rs200 million cash and 2,000 sheep,” the former lawmaker revealed, referring to a Pakhtun tradition of offering sheep to seek reconciliation, known as ‘nanavatey’.

The Turi are in trouble if they’re offering “peace” deals with the Haqqanis.

Another Peshawar-based official also confirmed that Shia community leaders from Kurram went to North Waziristan to seek support from the Haqqanis but it was to protect them against cross-border attacks from international forces based in Afghanistan.

Last month five people, among them three paramilitary troops, were killed in attacks by Nato helicopter gunships in Kurram.

The official said that before meeting Haqqani, a Shia delegation also visited Afghanistan to meet Nato officials but could not get an assurance that their region would not be attacked again.

“That’s why they sought the Haqqanis’ help…they want the Taliban to stand by them in case of intrusions into their area by Nato troops,” he explained.

And the Pakistan military is where? Oh yes accepting money to look the other way, whilst the Americans blast at random tribals (or militants who are a problem for Pakistan) in an effort to make themselves feel safer whilst the military casually attempts to undermine the civilian government in Islamabad.

Does the Goddamn military want a passage through Kurram for their pet Haqqani at the cost of Pakistani lives so that when they stage a farcial North Waziristan offensive (one where the Taliban give them a walkover) the Haqqanis have a safe escape route? One that would come at the cost of the lives of my fellow citizens, the Turi tribe of Kurram? Kill the Haqqanis in their stead.

Pakistani Staffers of the Japanese Embassy Attacked in What Appears to be a Botched Robbery

Two Pakistani employees of the Japanese Consulate in Karachi were attacked, injured and their lives continue to be in danger.

"The attack may have been an attempted robbery because the three Pakistanis in the car had stopped by a bank to get cash before they were ambushed", said Dawn, quoting police official Javed Akbar Riaz.

The tentacles of Karachi's criminal underground strike again.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Read This Poem

If I wanted to be ultra cynical, I would respond to the poem that I am posting, that the quality of the music, poems and art that came out of Pakistan are mediocre. But when you had Zia-ul-Haq (in response to who's time this was written), who's basic attitude was that democracy should be banished from Pakistan, on the grounds of it being "un-Islamic", the fact that there are any arts coming out of Pakistan is still kind of surprising for those who understood the repression of that era. Zia's attitude towards the arts can be represented by the anecdote of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, where he saw a funeral being held for music in his austere kingdom, and quipped, "Bury it so deep that it never rises again". In the vein of that ideology, I present to you Fakhar Zaman:

How can he who lost his eyesight paint?

How can he who lost his hands sculpt?

How can he who lost his hearing compose music?

How can he whose tongue was cut out sing?

How can he whose hands are tied write poetry?

How can he whose feet are fettered dance?

With muffled nose and mouth how can one inhale the scent of flowers?

But all this has really happened:

Without eyes, we painted,

Without hands, we sculpted statues,

Without hearing, we composed music,

Deprived of a tongue, we sang

Handcuffed, we wrote poetry,

With fettered legs, we danced

And the fragrance of flowers pierced our muffled mouths and nostrils.

Pakistan's Security State Damaged Pakistan in Its Attempt to Sabotage the US Occupation of Afghanistan

During World War I, the Germans transported Lenin through their own territory in an armoured train car, like they didn't want the infection he represented to escape into the surrounding territory. The Taliban were welcomed into Pakistan's tribal areas where they, whilst having failed against the Americans, infected many young people with their insanely backward, revolutionary Islamist ideology. The Pakistani security state, hating the idea of an independently operating Afghanistan, wanted to save their Afghan assets and stored them in the Waziristans, an area barely few Pakistanis knew well. These assets created trouble and now we are left with the aftermath:

Pakistan Struggles to Hold Gains Against The Taliban

Image Source: Dawn; May 2009

119 High-Profile Militants at Large

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pakistan is the Sixteenth Most Vulnerable Country to Climate Change. India is Second. Time to Renegotiate those River Treaties While There's Time

All our politicians should get on that water discussion thingy with India now. And if they're too busy our foreign policy bureaucracy should be quietly talking about it on their own. It's not as if the federal bureaucracy ever cared too much for politicians opinions. In the meantime, a map with a list for the sixteen countries most "sensitive" to anthropomorphic climate change.

Oi Zardari! There's a Stone Heading Your Way. Wear a Helmet Mr President.

I enjoy prognostication, and I hadn't done it in a long time; so it was entertaining reading Cyril Almeida predicting more instability for this civilian government (after the strange near run thing that happened last weekend) and lays out it's options:

the government has a choice: strengthen its armour to fend off the next crisis better or hope to limp through it and somehow emerge on other side, even weaker but still alive.

- Breathing Room, Cyril Almeida

As a citizen of that country, all I can do is ask our government to, if it can't protect its citizens, at least protect its own damn self.

Like Almeida points out in the article itself, there are a few things that the government could do to make things easier on itself, and the instability hounded people (and forestall the instability hunting media) of Pakistan:

For various reasons — internally for judicial reasons and externally for political reasons — the court isn’t really in a position to put the government to the rack; it appears limited to being an occasional, and occasionally serious, annoyance.

This provides an opening for the government to broker a détente. Call off the attack dogs whispering into ears in Islamabad; rein in the noisy, and noisome, Babar Awan & co; cooperate with suo moto actions into second-tier corruption tales; and get serious about the business of governance on at least some fronts.

- Breathing Room, Cyril Almeida

Zardri and co. should at least have the sense to protect themselves, and by extension, the symbols of an already racked federation. We know these jackasses won't so maybe we should all scream at them to do so.

Some Anvils Need To Be Dropped

If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack.

Winston Churchill

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Adding Shahid Saeed's Blog

Shahid bhai, thanks for being one of my most prolific posters. You keep the stats on this blog pumping. For anybody who isn't Shahid Saeed, go read his blog or follow him on twitter.

The twitter/microblogging is especially good.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Did President Zardari Just Settle The Question of Pakistan's Creation?

President Zardari just settled the largest question that's been spinning around the study of Pakistan's history. In an interview with Dawn's Monthly "The Herald" he was asked:

Dawn: But the government stumbled into it... (referring to the looming threats of terrorism)

Zardari: No, you did not stumble into it. You were created out of it. You supported the winning side in World War II. Out of that conflict, the Muslims of the subcontinent asked for a country and got a country despite a lot of opposition. The then Pakistan was like what you see in the flood areas. There was no infrastructure. Roads were made, areas were brought under irrigation, and look at the per acre yield and the amount of industries you have now. And in between you are struggling for your survival and had five wars.

Wow. Let me repeat that. In his capacity as President of Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari has just said about the leadership of the Muslims of India, "
You supported the winning side in World War II. Out of that conflict, the Muslims of the subcontinent asked for a country and got a country despite a lot of opposition"
. Wow.

You have to admire the historical honesty of that statement, moving beyond the government enforced historical amnesia of the Zia era, which I worry the late Benazir Bhutto could not get beyond, and into a world where information is available at your fingertips. This helps in clearing up a lot of problems of historicity people face in Pakistan. Good on Zardari for getting us beyond the hackneyed Ziaist narrative. One that lives on in the shadows of many of our television commentators.

My personal bugbear in politics is the lies, distortions and half truths they teach in Pakistani history.

That's a quote from an entry that I used as a placeholder for a long time on this blog, before I cam up with a new entry. I could say I'm making amends for not entering anything in a long time, but oh well.

A Library's Stock Being "Partitioned" in 1947

Coming back to it the quote in the enitrety is:

My personal bugbear in politics is the lies, distortions and half truths they teach in Pakistani history. The electronic med-yeah has helped push them away.

It's fairly self explanatory, but to be further clear, the point I am making applies in great deal with the history taught in Pakistan's government schools. IF we remember those questions about. "Where are the Taliban coming from?", a lot of that confusion can be traced to the weird history that Pakistani kids are taught in government schools, which by FAR continue to be the dominant schools in Pakistan. Pak Studies has to be updated and bought to reality.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hermann Scheer (1944-2010): German Lawmaker, Leading Advocate for Solar Energy and "Hero for the Green Century" in One of His Final Interviews

This interview was interesting in terms of the ideas expressed in it on switching an entire economy to green energy. Germany has now become a world leader in renewable non-fossil fuel energy.

One of the best analogies Scheer deploys to make an argument for decentralised green energy by using the analogy of IBM. I used to wonder why a historical computer giant like IBM did not dominate the computer industry. IBM had half a century plus of supremacy in the computer industry, but it has been overtaken by Microsoft, Apple and Google. IBM during the mid eighties was apparently planning for, and developing large centralised computing units; mainframes, and focusing all its energy on the mainframe market. However, Apple, and eventually Microsoft, consumer-ised computers and computing power, allowing a sort of democratisation of computing power to occur. IBM, with it's centrally commanded model of the computer consumer market was left behind.

This is the argument that begins at 39:56

There is an example, very actual, which gives the picture, which could be the model for that. This is the information technological revolution, because the energy experts, the big information technology companies, like IBM, they thought, twenty-five years ago, the future of information technology is in highly centralized computers. They were the experts. Like our energy experts. And they underestimated totally what happens if there is a shift caused of the technological possibilities from few demanders, who order big computer stations, too many, to millions. This changes all. And the same will happen, and must happen, with renewable energies.

It is a fight. This is a structural fight. It is a fight between centralization and decentralization, between energy dictatorship and energy participation in the energy democracy. And because nothing works without energy, it’s a fight between democratic value and technocratical values. And therefore, the mobilization of the society is the most important thing. And as soon as the society, most people, have recognized that the alternative are renewable energies and we must not wait for others, we can do it by our own, in our own sphere, together in cooperatives or in the cities or individually. As soon as they recognize this, they will become supporters. Other—this is the reason why we have now a 90 percent support against all the disinformation campaigns. They have much more money and possibilities to influence the public opinion, but they lost this. They lost this conflict. In the eyes of the people, they lost the conflict. They are the losers already.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Broken People Living Under a Loaded Gun

This waiting for Qari Hussain to get killed reminded me of that old scene from Nineteen Eighty Four (there's a book all middle class Pakistani's need to read, and before they enter the corporate world, add Brave New World) where Winston Smith sits boozing in the Chestnut Tree Cafe, waiting, whilst waiting for his side (Oceania) to win a battle against the Eurasian forces. Orwellian Dystopia anyone?

So in honour of our dystopic situation in Pakistan and the United States (Hello Tea Party victory in 2010), where the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity, I present to you Linkin Park's recognition of our crummy situation with the lyrics and song, Catalyst.

God bless us everyone
We're a broken people living under loaded gun
And it can't be outfought
It can't be outdone
It can't be outmatched
It can't be outrun

God bless us everyone
We're a broken people living under loaded gun
And it can't be outfought
It can't be outdone
It can't be outmatched
It can't be outrun

And when I close my eyes tonight
To symphonies of blinding light
God bless us everyone
We're a broken people living under loaded gun
Like memories in cold decay
Transmissions echoing away
Far from the world of you and I
Where oceans bleed into the sky

God save us everyone
Will we burn inside the fires of a thousand suns
For the sins of our hands
The sins of our tongues
The sins of our fathers
The sins of our young

God save us everyone
Will we burn inside the fires of a thousand suns
For the sins of our hands
The sins of our tongues
The sins of our fathers
The sins of our young

And when I close my eyes tonight
To symphonies of blinding light
God save us everyone
Will we burn inside the fires of a thousand suns
Like memories in cold decay
Transmissions echoing away
Far from the world of you and I
Where oceans bleed into the sky

Like memories in cold decay
Transmissions echoing away
Far from the world of you and I
Where oceans bleed into the sky

Lift me up, let me go
Lift me up, let me go
Lift me up, let me go
Lift me up, let me go
Lift me up, let me go

God bless us everyone
We're a broken people living under loaded gun
And it can't be outfought
It can't be outdone
It can't be outmatched
It can't be outrun

God bless us everyone
We're a broken people living under loaded gun
And it can't be outfought
It can't be outdone
It can't be outmatched
It can't be outrun

God bless us everyone
We're a broken people living under loaded gun
And it can't be outfought
It can't be outdone
It can't be outmatched
It can't be outrun

The Head of Qari Hussain Ahmed

So Qari Hussain is still alive. Our government doesn't try hard enough to kill or stop the bugger. It's US drones which are trying to kill him. From the Taliban on the Chengiz Khan right, to the Jamaat-e-Islami extreme right, to the Pakistani media`s right, the public space becomes more and more murderous for anybody who doesn`t think or act their way. This conservative wave degenerates and destroys all that is calm and decent and replaces it with all that is mad and hysterical.

So we wait for the grand master of suicide bombers to make his media appearance, and we contemplate how the most secular city of Pakistan itself has trouble setting a countering non-anarchic example to the fascism of Islamist "thought", sitting in the back of people`s minds across Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA.

How to make people stop trying to use religion to build a public space? Further sectarian conflict of the Barelvi Vs Deobandi sort? It appears we may be heading that way.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

An Order of Battle for Jihadi Islam, Across the Durand Line

I do cite my sources. Thank you Foreign Policy magazine's Afpak Channel and especially Peter Bergen, Katherine Tiedemann and Brian Fishman for compiling the this quick guide to the multiple groupings of Jihadi organisations across Pakistan and Afghanistan, along with their estimated troop strengths.

Did the Daily Times Just Steal The Quote I Dug Up From Harpers Magazine?

The Daily Times article in question is this one.

I wrote a blog entry on Aafia Siddiqui which I intended to be my first and last word on that contentous issue. In that blog entry I dug up a quote from Ali Dayan Hasan that aptly summed up the situation. Al i Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch (South Asia) gave that quote to Petra Bartosiewicz of Harpers Magazine for her article "The Intelligence Factory: How America Makes its Enemies Disappear".

The quote was, which I even reconfirmed from Mr Ali Hasan himself was:

Perhaps the most believable account came from Ali Hasan, senior South Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, whom I visited at his home in Lahore. “My professional view,” he said, “is they’re all lying. Siddiqui’s family is lying, the husband is lying, the Pakistanis are lying, the Americans are lying, for all I know the kids are lying. And because they’re all lying the truth is probably twenty times stranger than we all know.”

Now the Daily Times just wrote an article where they basically wrote the same thing word for word in their first paragraph without attributing that quote to ANYONE. Not to me, who recently dug it up, not to Ali Dayan Hasan who spoke it, not to Harpers or Petra Bartosiewicz who wrote that story. The article begins with the quote:

“They’re all lying. Dr Aafia’s family is lying, the husband is lying, the Pakistanis are lying, the Americans are lying, for all I know the kids are lying. And because they’re all lying the truth is probably twenty times stranger than we all know.”

For that incredibly original insight, for that distillation of not just the "The Intelligence Factory", but the entire twisting, turning millions of dollars spent on Aafia's defense in court red herring of a story, no one is credited for that quote. This really takes the plagiarism cake. They think they can steal a totally original quote like that. That quote was worth an attribution to whoever came up with it, Ms Bartosiewicz at least. The Daily Times must be stopped. Please contact it and tell it to print or publish some kind of retraction for this plagiaristic misattribution.

Thanks to Shahid and Christine Fair for Leading me to the Daily Times Little Act of Plagiarism

The Daily Times article in question is this one.

Shahid Saeed recommended I check out Christine Fair's twitter page. And a shout out to Christine for these three tweets that made my day/led me to the Daily Times, less than sound recommendation practises.

1) Go Drones! This savage chutiya bites the dust! TTP’s Qari Hussain kiled in drone attack: Reports – The Express Tribune

Guilty as sin. The Un-Attributed Aafia Siddiqui Daily Times Article

Thanks Dog! Pakisan is the most stable instability on earth! Is Pakistan falling apart?

Thanks Shahid. And Thank you Christine.

The US May Have Just Legalised the Heroin Trade in Afghhanistan

Here. A waiver relating to the Afghan government, which is currently under the suzerainty of the United States government. Signed by Hillary Clinton, legalising the Afghans shipment of Opium, or basically, any herb they wish.

As my first referenced post, I am proud to present this link to you which says:

Department of State [Public Notice: 7201] Waiver Pursuant to Section 7076(d)(2) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2010 (Div. F, P.L. 111-117) Relating to Assistance for The Government of Afghanistan Pursuant to the authority vested in me as Secretary of State, including under section 7076(d)(2) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2010 (Div. F, P.L. 111-117) (“the Act”), I hereby waive the requirement in section 7076(d)(2) of the Act to certify that the Government of Afghanistan is cooperating fully with United States efforts against the Taliban and Al Qaeda and to reduce poppy Cultivation and illicit drug trafficking and report that it is vital to the national Security interests of the United States to do so. This waiver shall be reported to the Congress promptly and published in the Federal Register.
September 28, 2010

Date Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State

And if you can't connect to the pdf, here it is on the Federal Register.

Opium Production and Shipment in Afghanistan; No Longer Prohibited Under the United States; For "Counterinsurgency" Purposes

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Had Been Meaning to Get to this, But Fuck it's a Strain

Guys, fuck! Another dead Baloch leader!

Seriously, I just get done with that choot Qari Hussain, and I just randomly click on The Baloch Hal and, fuck me, there's another dead Baloch leader. Mir Nooruddin Mengal of the Balochistan National Party (Mengal) in Kalat.

I can assure you, if any MQM guys got killed this regularly there'ld be hell to pay, but fuck GHQ, this is like the TENTH Baloch leader in what, three months? There was Habib Jalib Baloch, and since then, it's been a parade of dead Baloch leaders. This is madness.

I didn't cover it cause, damn it, I was meaning to, its just inertia, plus there's always some strange shit going down (you'll notice I've never commented on the institutional/constitutional clash in Islamabad between the judiciary and parliament/executive or the various propaganda subterfuges of the military complex against the civilians) and then there were those fucking floods, and there's the aftermath and reconstruction, and the US uptick in drone strikes, and testing our responses to their helicopters shooting into the country.............grkzxszzozdkemflsg..._____________

I`m tired, but the blood keeps flowing, the fires keep burning and the water continues to rust the iron.

OK. But nobody seemed to care about this except me and Rabia from Grand Trunk Road.

Every week, a dead man in Kalat or Quetta or Khuzdar or Gwadar or Turbat???


Bring me the Head of Qari Hussain Ahmed

And then I will believe he's dead. I always wanted to use that headline, after all, just three weeks back I wrote a post asking why this trainer of murderous children (i., adolescent suicide bombers) wasn't dead yet, but lo and behold, my prayers may just have been answered.

I wrote that post in frustration over a bit of trivia that came out after the murder of Imran Farooq (a man instrumental in shaping the present day MQM) in London, that he had been in hiding for seven years, of all places, in Karachi, especially whilst a major operation was going on to search for him. News like that set off alarm bells, especially in relation to the current game of hide and seek being played by leaders of various Islamist groups.

The other reason was the only substantive article I found on Qari Hussain Ahmed when I was trying to research this very strange man. It emerged that this strange man, was a strange boy. Qari Hussain Ahmed Mehsud was by his own admission, born on 8th December 1988.

He began his career hating Shias as a teenager, had gone to Karachi for religious training in a madrassa called Jamia Farooqia, and had risen in stature as the trainer of suicide bombers.

As the article was written, it must have been typed in the shadow of the GHQ attack (October 2009), the assault on South Waziristan (November 2009), and under the pall of the Parade Lane massacre (December 2009). The massacre at the Parade Lane mosque, where serving officers of the Pakistan Army herded out the kids of their fellow officers, and ended up killed in their stead, was the last memorable terror attack of 2009, and it seemed to color the writing of this piece on Qari Hussain Ahmed Mehsud. The darkness that is this young man who trained teenagers and children to become suicide bombers shrouded every paragraph with a gloom proclaiming death.

I did not mention this piece, earlier (around the time of the Lahore Yaum-e-Ali attacks) because at a very dark time, with the floods, and everything else that goes on in Pakistan, this piece, which would be essentially retrospective, seemed to capture a dark mood that struck me as downright terminal. It would obviously be the last paragraph of that write up on Qari Hussain Ahmed Mehsud:

Qari Hussain is still a young man but the position he enjoys amongst the militant leadership is very high; people much older could hardly reach such a position. He is becoming more dangerous with each passing day. The question is for how long he will survive. If he is able to celebrate even another two or three birthday, many people would have to mark the death anniversary of their near and dear ones, instead of marking their birthday.

And now he may dead.

So we have retribution attacks killing five Pakistani soldiers.

And we move one step back from the brink, one step back from the edge, one step back from the end of the article to the second last paragraph where it says:

During a recent telephonic interaction with this scribe, Qari Hussain said that his fighters are coming with a new strategy of attacking the main leaderships of the country. Referring to recent news about the head of the TTP, he said, “People have celebrated the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud but we will turn their temporary joy into long-lasting tragedies; we are coming with a new strategy of attacking the big politicians of the country”, Qari Hussain added.

And now strangely, we have this

Seven Militants Held in Bahawalpur for Planning Attacks on PM

So it's whackamole. We kill Head Death Eater No 2, Ustad-e-Fidayeen (Grand Instructor of the Suicide Bombers) Qari Hussain Ahmed, but we find his satanic little plans are still in motion.

And the beat goes on.

Actually, a band called "The Fall" would be more appropriate.

Especially from an album called "Your Future, Our Clutter". Maybe that's what Zia thought. Qari Hussain Ahmed, please be "Bury"ed Part 2 + 4, in hell.

So An Article on How Waziristan Began....

I found this, and I was fairly shocked that it`s still a valid starting point to evaluate how the Federally Administered Tribal Areas landed in the mess they`re in today. It is from spring 2003, but it`s also one of the few times Harpers monthly magazine has exclusively written on Pakistan. For your reading pleasure (and to point out where the degeneration of FATA began) I present to you:

Where the Taliban Roam - Dodging the Jihad in Pakistan`s Tribal Areas

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Abdullah Shah Ghazi Attack - Update 3 - Comments Edition

After the long-ish blog post I wrote when XYZ of Cafe Pyala speculated on the possibility of Sipah-e-Sahaba or its offshoots being behind the attacks, reader Shahid had some very pertinent things to add in the comments section. The result was that we went even further into the history of sectarian organisations in Pakistan. I showed him a book I have, and we agreed that the attack was likely by some variant of a sectarian organisation in Pakistan. It's worth a read to find out where these monsters originated from.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


The Word Sasti Masti translates to cheap thrills. It's all visual, the dialogue is good, but the moving pictures, the accompanying sounds and music are all you'll need the second you press play.

It will change your life.

Friend of the blog, Karachi Khatmal, has just made his contribution to independent film making.

Enjoy .

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Response to an old Article by Ahmed Rashid

This was an old article by Ahmed Rashid. I've reported other articles by him and written on the man before. The article I'm writing about was published about a month ago, in which he recommended putting Pakistan under international receivership, and keeping it's own hapless political elite under a leash. He explicitly said that there should be nobody related to the current government on his proposed "Pakistan Reconstruction Fund". Really Mr Rashid? Nobody who has fought and contested elections? Nobody who has gone out to try and gauge the public's reaction in a national vote? Tariq Ali, who seems to keep an eye on that snot nosed little careerist Ahmed Rashid, had some things to say about the whole idea, along the lines of, "who's got the clean hands to do it?"

In a post titled, Selling of Af-Pak - Ahmed Rashid's Strange Plan, Mr Ali, gives some responses to that specific article:

The notion that that the World Bank, IMF and friends are ‘non-political’ and ‘neutral’ is risible and not worth wasting time on, especially given that their supervision of Afghanistan’s largest bank (largely owned and controlled by the Karzai family and just as corrupt as Zardari and his cronies) doesn’t seem to have been all that effective since it collapsed just as the BBC website published the path-breaking text.


The talk-show presenters who speak of a cleansing revolution can never make one and those below, whose sufferings become visible only when disaster strikes, are so demoralized and fearful and concentrating on feeding their children and themselves that meaningful political action is far removed from their thoughts at the moment. The religious extremists, mercifully, remain unpopular. Their development model is hardly a secret in the region.

Ahmed Rashid wants to hand the country over to the United States and institutions under its control. Surely this is a bit mean spirited to the other world powers. Given the dodgy state of the US economy he would be better advised to expand the list. Perhaps four global multinationals (based in the United States, Germany, China and Russia) could set up a consortium (AFPAKCO) and start bidding for failing states, starting with Pakistan.

Ahmed Rashid wants to hand the country over to the United States and institutions under its control. Surely this is a bit mean spirited to the other world powers. Given the dodgy state of the US economy he would be better advised to expand the list. Perhaps four global multinationals (based in the United States, Germany, China and Russia) could set up a consortium (AFPAKCO) and start bidding for failing states, starting with Pakistan.

What Blackwater, its subsidiaries and rivals are doing for the US and British armies, could be replicated in civil society by big banks, oil giants and the nuclear industry. They could take over and run a few countries and if they messed up the World Bank and IMF could bail them out. The elites, many of their number already on the payroll, would happily sell out completely. And if the consortium were broad-based enough then the Pakistan Army would willingly police the new structure in return for a larger monthly check than it receives currently from CENTCOM.

Where once the East India Company took over an entire subcontinent, all that is needed now is for the AFPAKCO consortium to buy a Northern sliver. This time economic self-interest might dictate educating the population, making sure the work force was reasonably fed (genetically modified foods would come in handy on this front) and kept relatively healthy.

Of course the media, so wild these days and out of control, would have to be restrained and tuned to the needs of AFPAKCO. Here the BBC, CNN and Fox could just take-over and Rashid would be a good person to appoint as the first Director-General of the consolidated PTV. Whether a few porn channels should be allowed for recreational purposes is a tactical question, though on this front many of the politicians currently wasting their time could provide useful advice and service.

In 25 years time, let us be pessimistic, a huge anti-AFPAKCO uprising might erupt and bring about real change and independence on a very different basis and under a new leadership untainted by blood ties, corruption or collaboration. Now that would be a new start.

The descriptions of Pakistan's deeply, corrupt and wholly compromised elite are extremely appropriate. This is an elite that has maintained its position at the expense of 150 000 000 people, demonstrating a level of self serving, self centredness not seen outside of Central Africa, or the Gilded Age. Tariq Ali, started his career out abusing them, and it is appropriate that he blasts them any opportunity that he gets.