Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why Not?

Wikileaks is going to release a new cache of documents so maybe the brouhaha over this new trove is what motivated Feica to draw this. He is after all, an ordinary civilian, who's watched his hair turn white and his body age whilst the rulers of our country, barely, learn any lessons from their mistakes. And to a civilian like him, this might as well be how the spooks and Invisible Soldiers operate.

Friday, November 26, 2010

China, Russia, Agree to Drop US Currency for Sino-Russian Trade

China and Russia, have agreed to trade bilaterally with each other using their respective currencies, the Renmibi and the Rouble. The decision to drop the dollar will reduce demand for the US currency. It is interesting to note the way Russia and China are slowly and painfully becoming closer to each other, in relation to their interests with India and Pakistan respectively.

It is interesting to note what a world will look like where Russia and China are good allies with each other. However, rumours have indicated, (and Pakistanis should take this into account) that Russians fear that the Chinese may enter Siberia and demographically "take it over", especially if a push is given by global warming. It may seem like paranoid fear mongering, but it does indicate the mindset of Moscow viz a viz China. There is also the added history of the Sino Soviet split during the Cold War, although that may have had more to do with leadership of the Communist world rather than a full on Chinese and Russian nationalistic clash of interests.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Surprise, Surprise - A Nuanced and Sensitive NY Times take on Literature and Fundamentalism in Pakistan

This gem of a blog entry was published in the "At War" blog of the New York Times. Funny how Pakistanis who are living their everyday lives, with only a little more than the average level of historic violence, are deemed "At War". Those people who are at war can be found in the underbelly of Karachi, or hidden in safehouses or safe-apartments throughout Punjab, Balochistan or Sindh. Maybe they're in the forest camps of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or FATA, or small herder groups in the rural hills of Balochistan. But I doubt the New York Times would pay the insurance rate for Adam Ellick to go to these places or people. Better to stick to authors and city bookstores.

Coming back to the blog entry, it finally manages to drop the pardes-returned saviour trope that, the renewal in Pakistani English fiction had acquired. This of course is in reference to the "Life's Too Short" literary magazine (it's wordpress blog here, and advertisement from Last Word bookstore). The highlighting of how popular Urdu fiction was one of many casualties in the geo-political embrace of General Zia-ul-Haq by the United States (along with city loads of dead Afghans) is also kindly mentioned.

The third comment is nice, in how the New York Times now deigns to grant agency (how I hate that annoying academic word) to ordinary Pakistanis. Our cutting off from our local Urdu/Punjabi culture is likely why our people went to seek recognition and affirmation abroad.

Oh well. The global cultural arbiter, the US establishment press, has deemed ordinary Pakistani's may now add to the world's culture. We thank them for their mercy. (/sarcasm)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Don't Recruit More Soldiers into that 650,000 Man Military - Do Recruit More Policemen And Pay Them Better

As opposed to employing more soldiers. I don't know what the total number of policemen in Pakistan is, but I do remember it being quoted in Descent into Chaos as some ridiculously low number like 500,000.

We need more policemen; trained to first world standards. They are whats important.

If you want to increase defence spending, divert that money instead to police training. More Pakistanis get killed every year by other Pakistanis, as opposed to "Indians", Americans, or Zionists. Or Afghans for that matter.

Shahid Saeed Forever

Reader and friend of the blog, Shahid Saeed, has written an excellent and beautiful piece on Baloch nationalism. Incorporating the rise of the Dr Allah Nazir Baloch, the recent banning of the Baloch Hal (whilst mentioning the open existence of extremist websites) and reitirating the case of the attempted murder of a recruiting Omani Colonel in Pakistan during the Dhofar rebellion, this is an excellent piece.
Shahid bhai also makes an appeal to the Baloch rebels to come in from the cold, whilst never letting up on the Pakistani authorities for being cruel to the Baloch. He reitirates that Pakistan cannot maintain an "iron grip" on Balochistan, whilst asking as Umair Javed did at the end of his piece on the Baloch, that the state of Pakistan will have to think "outside the box".

I'm glad talking on twitter and blogging have some impact. Maybe I'll come out of the cold, myself, one day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Five Rupees Talks About Weapons Acquisition and I Respond

Ahsan at Five Rupees saw this story about aerial weapons acquisitions from the Chinese that I had seen, but had decided not to blog on. Cause I felt that it would be too much to say. So Ahsan writes on it and I feel like I have to respond. This goes across a rare, two posts. Below is the latest, but likely final response I wrote, covering some aspects of air weapons acquisition, the Pakistan Military's (possibly changing) thought processes, and how that would effect threat perception, defence acquisition, and ultimately defence expenditure. Ahsan's first post is "Pakistan Buys More Stuff It Doesn't Need" and his second post "India is Not a Security Threat, but Thinking India is a Security Threat is a threat", to which this is a reply is below. But First..

Preferred Metaphor, of Five Rupees Blog, on how the Pakistani Military, Sees China

And Now My Reply to Ahsan Butt Sahab:

OK Ahsan, this is a long one. First off, aww, it wasn't my arguments that started off this post, instead some false-equivalency-wala-look-Pakistan-may-do-stupid-stuff-but-Indians-are-poorer-hahaha piece of econometrics abuse.

Lastly, thanks for also putting up this piece of explanation, why you tolerate a li'l old war monger like me:

We welcome all fascists on Rs.5, not just the ones we agree with.

Thank you for you forbearance Mistah Butt!

Now - back to the main topic: The acquisition of the JF-17's and Chinese equipment which prompted this post.
First of if you remember those military exercises being held earlier in the year (Azm-e-Nau III, I think) there was very little Indian crowing being done. Which with past Indian experience tallied to show that the Indians were worried. If they thought it was something that an action like "cold start" (a trial balloon if there ever was one) could handle, they're assessments showed otherwise. And no I am not saying here that Pakistan can defeat India. India can defeat Pakistan. BUT what Azm-e-Nau III (those JF's thrown in showed) was that Pakistan's corrupt drunken sailor-spending military caste has assembled serious equipment, that would require calling up the entire Indian military, and fighting like mad for 30 straight days before the conventional Pak military was destroyed, all the while climbing up the escalation ladder. That is not an Operation Iraqi Freedom/Desert Strom-like walk in the park. That is sending India's collective armour and air force into Pakistan's collective artillery and anti-air gun fire.

Then you send the Indian reserves into the wreckage of Pakistan's guns.

Bloodbath. For us.

So nobody who's serious on our side wants a war or even an arms race.

The JF's design plans by the PAF were agreed to back in the mid-nineties to wean the forces of Western equipment. Irregardless of snide comments about Chinese stuff falling apart (it won't if you pay the Chinese good money for it) the press release you even quoted basically talked about buying Chinese avionics (aka flight systems) to run the innards of the Pakistani jets. Irregardless of what you may think of the Chinese alliance that the Pakistani military has gotten into, when it comes to the JF's, things have reached a level beyond caring for India. It is the capacity to maintain Paki Air Force systems under conditions of a western embargo that are important, not a rivalry with India.

If you have noticed, it's not India that is planning on bombing us. And no I am not advocating a war with Uncle Sam. I repeat, India is irrelevant to the entire thinking of buying these jets; the reason behind buying these systems is the same "logic" that went with India deciding 40 years ago to start working on nuclear weapons, that a country of a certain "size" must have a certain level of weaponry available to it. That is just the reality of being a largish country on the Asian continent with a history of war.

In terms of large-scale strategic re-evaluation from GHQ as you said, there are a few ways around it. Force ideas into their heads via the media, just like words are being forced into our politicos mouths on the blasphemy issue. Admittedly defence doctrine in Pakistan is a lot more rigid issue than blasphemy laws, but you have to produce alternative ideas and have them lying around. Milton Friedman said it best:

"Only a crisis—actual or perceived—produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable."

Keep pumping real analysis into the air, and above all, keep the civilian/elected structure going for a few more rounds of democracy. Treat the Pakistan military as a Soviet structure and there may be ways of getting ideas into it.

You also said:

they're content to talk about small issues here and there, but the big questions are not being asked.

Yaar, you start small and work your way up. Can you imagine Zia's military having female fighter pilots? Admittedly a fcaetious-ish example, but again you start small and work your way into their minds. The six or so years of engagement with India created an atmosphere where war didn't break out after Lashkar-e-Jhangvi's attack on India. Plus we're on a schedule of weapons acquisition and technical skills development that was set a decade and a half ago.

This should be the most optimistic sign to you: General Kayani may just be the last veteran of the 1971 war in the Pakistan military. Army, Navy or Air Force. Generational change is about to take hold. It actually does seem like a bit of a tragedy that Kayani got an extension. If we were serious about keeping track of Pakistan's raw power politics, it would help to have an upadted list of all of Pakistan's Lieutenant Generals, followed maybe by a list of all of Pakistan's Major Generals. The current crop of red tabs are all middle class men who joined after the defeat of 1971, but their professional lives have been spent observing (overseeing?) the wars in Afghanistan, and it's fallout all across Pakistan. I don't think there is real space in their minds for India beyond a certain point.

On the second issue, my feeling is that the military will never be satisfied and always want more, more, more.

Not if the civilians are adamant enough. Or if it's made a street level issue the way debt relief (to the extent of showing up in front of the Press Club, even a small step) has become. Just keep banging at that "excessive defence spending" drum, mate.

That is the very point of arms races

I don't think we're in an arms race, we have the nukes, we have enough conventional weaponry to make India (God forbid, God forbid) pay in blood for every inch they take.

but as the GDP graph shows, one side is destined to lose this race (or has already done so).

We are not in an arms race. India doesn't even acknowledge our weapons acquisitions from China; they either don't feel threatened, or they know what I'm saying that this is more about Pakistan switching suppliers than it is about "catching up" with India.

And the last five major points I wanted to grasp with you are these:

1) suitable long-term strategy would be to rely on Pakistan's not-inconsiderable nuclear arsenal as a suitable (minimum) deterrent

This is the only serious reference I will make to nukes. We DO NOT have to copy what the Soviets did during the Cold War and commit ourselves to building an ever climbing number of nukes (cause we sure as hell ain't no continent spanning super-empire). All we need are either 200 to finish off India, or (God, Allah, Ra, Yahweh, Buddha, Ahura Mazda, Zeus, Bhaghwan Help Us) 400 to finish off the United States. What either of them would need is 20, tops 30 to finish us off. So yeah. Pick a number (200 or 400 from some RAND study from the '60's) and we can just stick to that number indefinitely. *gulp*.

2) unilaterally exit an arms race with India

We've practically done that.

3) in its novelty to GHQ types

Yaar, their not that dumb. Somebody told me they "monitor" blogs. So if you can get the folks on to parrot the next line you're golden.

4) "unilateral exiting from the South Asian arms race and contentment with a nuclear deterrent"

Keep banging at it boss.

5) If we don't keep spending on toys, we will have less influence in Afghanistan and fewer cards to play in Kashmir

We don't need "toys" to tangle in Kashmir or Afghanistan. We need an unending supply of men, who are ready to die, and the haraami-pan to cultivate them and send them to their deaths. The supply of both looks inexhaustible right now.

Finally, I put in a plea for acquisition or domestic production of heavy lift helicopters. The floods, the earthquake, and last years IDP crisis/mountain fighting demonstrates, that this is a piece of military kit that would really, really help, cause we certainly need more of them.

Good night.



Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Madmen Are Amongst Us - And Getting Shot and Blown Up for Your Troubles - II

An infusion of real political courage in Pakistan is needed. One where people in Pakistan can publically identify that the real local enemy is the district strongman (in Karachi's case, the multiple ethnically linked mafias, whose tendrils at one point end, and those of the MQM & ANP begin), that the national enemy is an overweaning military that may control the present, but has no right to control the future. And internationally, "friends" which perpetuate these local authoritarians in Pakistan, such as the Saudis, the US and China.

In observance of the multiple long wars of Karachi, ethnic, institutional, crminal-based, ethno-linguistic, ethno-political, ethno-criminal, sectarian and a few others I may have missed, I present Cyril Almeida's take on the break up of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi into multiple factions, each with a separate extremist agenda. Some people say that "Lashkar-e-Jhangvi" is who is blamed when a sectarian act of terror happens, if a member of Sipah-e-Sahaba decides to act on their hate filled words. To me, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is the answer to the question "What is Pakistan's KKK?". Here is Mr Cyril Almeida sahab:

New Strands of Militancy Descend on Karachi

Anyway, the second post I would like to re-plug here, is Mr Nadeem Farooq Paracha's analysis of Pakistan's conspiracy minded (or blame the Indians/Jews) related mindset. This (prevalently) bourgeois attitude is seen as cowardly, as it doesn't acknowledge the bullying state that we live in, and the violence it engenders amongst its own citizens to keep it's own hold on the levers of ultimate power. Anyway, he does mention the states role in this national confusion towards the end, but reinforces throughout, the problem of people allowing terror (and I use it in it's old sense, of simply being scared) to rule who they will criticise, and who they won't. Basically the problem of getting shot or blown up for your troubles.

Here is Mr Nadeem Farooq Paracha's "Manly Cowards".

Finally, I would like to add that after two more Karachi related posts, I'll put up one mega-post on a certain anti-secrecy website. No not the obvious one. One related to it through adversarial relations.

If You Bomb Quetta, They'll Move To Karachi - By The Time You're Bombing Karachi, It's World War III

The Afghan Taliban
High Command,
Moves From FATA
Into Balochistan.

So the US in Afghanistan can feel it`s penis shrinking and wants to bomb Quetta in Pakistan.

But, surprise, surprise, the government of Pakistan declines to fluff Uncle Sam, and says
"No. Not this far up, you Rand".

Who would expect the abused mistress, that is the Government of Pakistan, to stand up at this?

The Beginnings of the US-Pak Relationship in the 1950's: Source (An Amateurish Graphic Design Project)

Is the point of this to drive the Pakistani people crazier than they are already becoming? Beyond that, we are the ones who will have to kill the religious freaks.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"70 percent of Pakistan is run by 10 districts of Punjab. 5 of them give you your officer corps and the other 5 your higher bureaucracy"

'The army districts: Attock, Pindi, Chakwal, Jhelum, Mianwali. The Bureaucracy districts: Lahore, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Gujrat'

Apologies to Umair Javed of Recycled Thought, but the title post is taken from that excellent observation he posted from an acquaintance of his. The naming of those districts above, is the latter part of that observation (the title being the former). It's a nice apocryphal observation I don't completely agree with, but it is as good a place as any in our rumour filled land to begin proving or debunking the idea that the Grand Trunk Road corridor from Lahore to Islamabad (or as I call it, the "Power Corridor") ultimately decides the fate of Pakistani politics.

For the sake of full disclosure, I will admit I was raised all my life in Karachi.

The Tragedy of the Less Exploitable Political Martyrs

I don't know what political party Umair Javed, of Recycled Thoughts fame belongs to (maybe the People's Rights Movement?) but this was an awesome statement:

The tragedy, however, is that we only have 2 martyrs compared to a few hundred for the PPP and a few thousand for the Army.

It shows the kind of demi-religious reverence Pakistanis kind off hold for those who die in the way of a cause whether it be democratic/social (the PPP) or nationalistic (the Army). All one has to do is witness the public display of emotion over remembrances of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto or Benazir's death. Or the public way the Pakistan military's Inter Services Public Relations embraces all those who die serving in the army, in our current conflicts.

This particular statement might have been in reference to Hasan Nasir, a progressive, and some time Communist, who`s death anniversary just passed by on November 13th. The name rang a bell because Tariq Ali referenced that name once in the Pakistan part of his book "Street Fighting Years". This statement was made in reference to a reposted book review did on a book called Hasan Nasir Ki Shahadat (The Martyrdom of Hasan Nasir). Fahad Desmukh found these very nice PTV tribute programs, on the occasion of Mr Hasan Nasir's death anniversary. If you like a bit of Faiz's poetry and can understand Urdu/Hindi, have a watch. Cutely enough, they're posted by someone called communistpak.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Abbas Brothers - A Depressing Tale

More than a year earlier, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas had been appointed as the military’s spokesman. With several brothers prominent in the media—his brother, Mazhar Abbas, headed the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists for several years and was a 2007 CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee; another, Zafar, is editor of the English-language daily Dawn—Maj. Gen. Abbas is media savvy and understands the importance of supportive news coverage.

Value, Collateral Damage as Journalists Embed, by Bob Dietz, 7th October 2009, Committee to Protect Journalists

The Abbas brothers are sort of B-Grade political celebrity famous in Pakistan. They are Mazhar Abbas (works for ARY and headed the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists for several years), Azhar Abbas (Geo Managing Director), Zafar Abbas (Sub-Editor at Dawn Group of Newspapers) and the very, very famous Athar Abbas (Director General Inter-Services Public Relations, and basically the propaganda mouthpiece of the Pakistan military).

Major General Athar Abbas is not happy that I called him the propaganda mouthpiece of the Pakistan Military.
Tough Cookies.

The significant thing is that all these major news organizations (Dawn, ARY and Geo) have the sons of a family who have risen up through the decades as hard working journalists, putting in the sweat and effort to become senior editors, managers, etc. And then there is this brother who joined the military as a cadet in 1976, and unexpectedly presevered through the bureaucratic, fascist mess that is the Pakistan military, until in 2008, there's a new government in town, there's a tottering dictator who's been replaced by an enigma of a former intelligence chief (General Ashafaq Pervez Kayani of course), and the time has come to replace the old spokesman and DG of the military's PR machine with someone new. The military pulls of a masterstroke by promoting a Brigadier to Major General, who's brothers are not just well respected members of the Pakistan media landscape, but men (like Mazhar Abbas) who have at times fought for media freedom, as evidenced by this blog page that the Committee to Protect Journalists gives him, and this page honoring the man. Not only does the "new" military command send out a signal of promoting men in its ranks who are related to parts of the new "free" media of Pakistan, but it puts a very subtle pressure on the news organisations themselves, and indirectly on the brothers themselves too.
Cafe Pyala has been bothered too many times in it's comments section by a variation of this story where it's presented as a conspiracy in which the Abbas brothers are directly manipulating the news at Geo, ARY and Dawn. I do not buy into this, not just because it's an annoyingly stupid idea, but also because the instruments and structures are already in place that allow the government to pressure Dawn, Geo and ARY into toeing certain red lines. Dawn in it's 60 year long history has a reputation of many times kowtowing to the military establishment, Geo is owned by Jang group which has no dearth of right wingers, overt and covert authoratarians, and media mouthpieces whilst ARY is compromised by the fact of its founding by a gold smuggler. All are vulnerable and I don't think the Abbas brothers go around harassing the "cowering" employees of these news organisations into toeing some imaginary red line; although the lack of coverage on the bloackade of the Turi in Kurram is a certain case that Dawn and Jang group need to correct. No, nearly ALL the people who work at Dawn, Geo and ARY are aware of the limits (some historical, some present) that they shouldn't cross, and simply don't go there.

So where do the Abbas brothers fit into this tale? Well, rather than provide fodder for conspiratorial thinking, what the Abbas brothers represent is a corporate and ethical dilemma for the ownership and management of Geo, Dawn and ARY. Now before you collapse laughing at the concept of Geo and morals being discussed in the same sentence, let me expand this further. This argument is being made solely at the philosophical level of what should be done by these news organisations concerning the journalist Abbas brothers. The conflicts of interest are obvious. The journalist Abbas brothers are theoretically meant to challenge the status quo in Pakistan and stand up to authority of the Pakistani state. That authority is represented at the centre by the military establishment of Pakistan. Their own brother is now the vocal chords of that establishment and the journalist brothers are supposed to dissect his words to try and get at the real story hidden behind the spin of public relations. The Abbas brothers may feel that their brother omits certain facts, they may even say he does, but this puts them, their organisation, and their (dare I say) family bonds in a precarious ethical place. My view of ISPR reports from the current war makes me think generally, that the ISPR do not lie outright about victories or defeats, but they do spin, dissemble, and ignore any fact that is inconvenient to the military's worldview; this description is a world apart from the crude caricaturing by opponents of Pakistan of Athar Abbas as Baghdad Bob V. 2 - I assess he's a normal human being, albeit an ex-soldier, whereas Baghdad Bob was a caricature just from his external personality, and craven, party hack like behaviour.

The corporations also hiring the Abbas brothers are left with a vaguely suspicious feeling. Are they left with a feeling that the military brother wishes to "massage" the "direction" of the media's message. Do they risk that threat, or do they sideline that threat? Would it be ethical for the media houses to sideline Azhar Abbas, Zafar Abbas and Mazhar Abbas into maybe administrative, and non-politically related positions until Major General Athar Abbas either completes his term as the DG of ISPR, or the media houses bring pressure onto the ISPR to possibly retire Athar Abbas. It is very unlikely that Dawn, Geo or ARY will ask the army to retire Athar Abbas, but maybe if they bought it up, it would make it kind of clear to the military that they are trying to manipulate the media, and that the media is aware of this tactic.

The pressure this also brings on all three of the journalist Abbas brothers is also unfair. These are all men who have built up their reputations through two (sometimes three) decades of experience in journalism. They would likely feel they are "owed" the positions they have, I am sure earned. But this question is really for all their superiors at Dawn, ARY and Geo. Can you afford to put men who's brother is directly charged with spinning the news, in charge, or in authority of those departments of a news organisation, which have to lift the veil from government obfuscation, spin and omission? It is a depressing question, and I don't blame the respected Cafe Pyala from not trying to bother with such a tangled question of personnel policy, family, subtle government pressure, and media houses. It tires on out, and makes one sad. I hope I've bought some nuance to the matter.

Errata: Zafar Abbas is now actually editor at Dawn. I thank Junaid Mangi at critical PPP for pointing this out. I assumed linkedin would be a good source since one wishes to show their CV in the best light, but I guess Zafar Abbas has enough job security that he can let an old CV stay up. I apologise for getting his designation wrong and will be more careful in the future.

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

The Baloch Hal is Still Banned

Malik Siraj Akbar`s creation is apparently still unavailable inside Pakistan, where it most needs to be seen.



Publisher: The Baloch Hal

Key Personnel: Malik Siraj Akbar (Chief Editor); former reporter The Daily Times

Genre: News

The Baloch Hal continues to be banned in Pakistan.

Long live the proxy server.

Unban Baloch Hal.

Griftopia - Matt Taibbi

Pakistani readers may be familiar with Mr Taibbi, who was once referenced by Cafe Pyala now has a new book out called Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America. This one paints the United States as a Corruptistan for the super rich of not just America, but the entire world.

His new book is out and this is it:

There are people from UAE buying privatised Parking Meters in Chicago; in bulk.

I want in on that.

Origami scorpions aside, the people of the United States might have to fight back the long CLASS war against the long con that is "breaking America". Good luck to them for taking it on; I'm sticking to abusing the Pakistani Establishment.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Imran Farooq and the Concept of "Hiding" in Pakistan - II

A twitter question and reply, reminded me of this post of mine on the "fact" that Imran Farooq, the recently murdered exiled leader of the MQM was hiding in Karachi for 7 years, and was not found by the military establishment. Possibly because of fanatically dedicated followers.

Anyway, relating to Pakistan's wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider's disappearance in Dubai, and reappearance as an exile from Pakistani cricket in the UK here's a tweet.

I reckon it's easier to hide in the UK than in Pakistan/UAE. Unless you're Osama Bin Laden.

And here is friend of the blog Karachi Khatmal's response:

It's easier to hide in Pak, easier to be safe in UK

I think what gets me is the next tweet he wrote:

show me a morally perfect pakistani cricketer, and i'll show you a starving man

Ouch. Also, so true, too.

You've Lived too Many Decades in Karachi If This Is Your Reaction

"Alleged Lashkar Jhangvi man talks with Geo, says they have 250-300 "shooters" in Karachi."

Me: That's It?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pakistan - Meet Ted Rall

Ted Rall is a progressive and liberal cartoonist and commentator from the United States who has expressed deep interest in South and Central Asia and United States policy there. His blog's title is as violent as mine, appropriately named Search and Destroy, for a man who discusses money and war in his intellectually brutal way. But that's fine by me. Intellectual (and physical) brutality is a time honoured Pakistani tradition.

Mr Rall has shown such dedication to Afghanistan that he wrote two books on that country (Gas Wars and an upcoming travelogue on his recent August 2010 trip through North and Central Afghanistan) a book on Central Asia (Silk Road To Ruin) and a recent book dedicated to *cough*, *cough* overthrowing the entire government of the United States (The Anti-American Manifesto).

The last book might seem a little out there, but since it's objective broadly matches that of Osama bin Ladin, Julian Assange (who are still alive and technically, free), and a host of very dangerous and well armed people in our beloved motherland of Pakistan (overthrow the Pakistan gov here, only throw the US out of South/Central Asia), I will not judge, too much, on the the latest subject of his book. I will let Mr Rall's collection of work on Pakistan speak for itself. His cartoons can usually be rated 4 stars out of 5, however his writings are many times factually inaccurate when it comes to Pakistan, even in his book "Silk Road to Ruin", but especially in the essay he wrote in Summer 2007, just before the Red Mosque was stormed (Sikh bodyguards at the Pearl Continental anybody?). His sometime factual inaccuracies take away from his getting the broad strokes right (democracy good, military dictatorship bad), and was worst on display when after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto he said the majority of the population of Pakistan is fundamentalist. It's only a sizable minority Ted, and our democratically elected government is going to have to beat that sizable minority into a leash; just like we did the last time there was a continous wave of democratically elected governments (i.e, pre-Musharraf). Ted Rall's (cartooning) fascination with Pakistan (at least according to online archives) seems to have began with General Musharraf's accidental coup. I don't think he covered Kargil or the nuclear tests when they happened (at least that's what the archives show). For readers of my blog, and fans of Mr Rall, I present below, my chronologically arranged collection of Ted Rall Cartoons Relating to Pakistan.

15th October 1999

26th April 2001

22nd September 2001

9th July 2007
(The Essay Reproduced Below was Typed During This Trip)

4th August 2007

8th November 2007

8th August 2008

30th August 2008

21st May 2009

9th November 2010

15th October 2009

Logic Bomb: As Usual, Pakistan About to Explode

WAGAH BORDER CROSSING, PAKISTAN/INDIA--The first indication that Pakistan is a mass of internal contradictions occurs at the airport. In the arrivals area there are two passport lines--one for men, the other for "unaccompanied women and children." Appalling at first glance, but women love this manifestation of gender segregation. "The women's line moves a lot faster," an American woman who lives in Pakistan told me.

Moving fast was a good idea. Islamist leaders of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) and its affiliated Jamia Hafsa madrassah were locked in a Branch Davidian-type standoff with Pakistani security forces. After months of Taliban-style vigilantism, including the kidnapping of 10 Chinese nationals they accused of working in a bordello masquerading as a massage parlor and seizing control of a children's library, government troops had surrounded the complex.

The Red Mosque crisis symbolizes the devil's bargain Pakistan's ruling elites have struck with Islamic radicals since independence from Britain, a tacit understanding that has turned this nuclear-armed state into a terrifying cauldron of instability. Cracking down on the fundies could lead to civil war. Doing nothing, the government's usual approach, almost certainly will.

Pakistan is a military dictatorship with a wild, freewheeling press, ruled by an antidemocratic despot who respects many democratic institutions. A graduate of a Catholic high school and a Presbyterian college, General Pervez Musharraf came to power by allying himself with radical Islamist political parties who convinced him to invite Afghanistan's Taliban militia into Pakistan to fight India. Most Pakistanis are secular and favor modernization, yet watch their nation's Talibanization in passive silence.

If your head is spinning, congrats--you're Pakistani for 1000 words.

Musharraf is playing a dangerous game, balancing the hopes and fears of educated liberals to the left against radical Muslim clerics on the right. Most leaders who deploy a strategy of reverse triangulation end up with no support at all. Because Musharraf has transformed the Pakistani political system into the personification of his policies, Pakistan itself could follow suit.

The biggest clash in Pakistani society, however, is common to the Third World: a widening gap between the lives of a few well-off individuals and millions of everyone elses. Frustrated at the toll that the dismal condition of Pakistani highways took on its bus lines, South Korea's Daewoo conglomerate decided to spend $375 million to build its own. The privatized six-lane toll road of immaculate asphalt allows elite motorists to zip through the impoverished wasteland separating Islamabad and the Punjabi capital of Lahore in a mere four hours. If you're Jamal Schmo, it costs 12 hours and the occasional broken axle.

After weeks of high-altitude trekking through Tajikistan--bad food, bed bugs, bathing in icy rivers fed by fresh snowmelt--I decided to treat myself to the four-star Pearl Continental Hotel, guarded by towering Sikh soldiers brandishing automatic weapons. They searched beneath my taxi with a mirror attached to a long pole, patted me down and ran my luggage through a metal detector. It was worth it, for it wasn't Pakistan inside.

Pakistani women rarely venture outdoors. When they do, they cover themselves--with headscarves in the cities and burqas in the countryside. Inside the Pearl Continental, however, it's a different world. Pakistani and foreign women flaunted skirts and sleeveless skirts next to tables occupied by glaring male traditionalists wearing long beards. Bikinis were de rigeur poolside. Hotel workers gawked.

Three decades after partition from India, 97 percent Muslim Pakistan banned alcoholic beverages in 1977. Drinkers face 20 lashes and three years in prison. If you're a wealthy Muslim with a taste for booze, however, prohibition is fictional. Rich Pakistanis purchase "infidel licenses"--liquor purchase permits--from religious minorities such as Hindus, Christians and Zoroastrians. Even in the four-star hotel bubble, discretion is a must: My can of Murree Beer, brewed in Rawalpindi, came via room service and arrived double-bagged in plastic.

"Officially, Muslims may only imbibe alcohol on pain of punishment, but unofficially, it's easy for Muslims to acquire it," says Minoo Bhandara, CEO of the Murree Brewery. "Ninety-nine per cent of our customers are Muslim." A few years ago, Pakistani parliament quickly withdrew a call to enforce prohibition after Bhandara threatened to cut off deliveries to the parliamentarians who sponsored the legislation.

"Laws," a Pakistani friend notes, "don't apply to the ruling class." Indeed, Taliban ally Musharraf is known to kick back with a scotch now and then.

The Lahore Museum, notable for its Fasting Buddha statue and sauna-hot browsing conditions, displayed a map of cultural anthropological sites. Pakistan's neighbors--Afghanistan, Iran, Nepal, even tiny Bhutan--were clearly labeled. There to the east, however, was a large, familiarly shaped nation that the museum director had evidently chosen not to identify. It was a perfectly obvious fiction. It was perfectly Pakistani.

The next morning, I drove to the famed Wagah border crossing with the country whose name may not be mentioned. It was 120 degrees and humid and the monsoon was at least a week away, the most miserable time of the year in South Asia. Grim-faced Pakistani customs clerks, passport control officers and policemen shunted me the few hundred yards to a yellow line painted on the road. I stepped across and handed my passport to a middle-aged Indian military officer. Sweat poured down my face, spotting my visa. "It's too cold," he said, smiling.

It was the first joke I'd heard since I'd entered Pakistan.

July 12, 2007

This Looks Awkward

It does, doesn't it?

Source: ISPR

That extension is going to wear you down sir.

Good on the Pakistan Army Team for that sudden Gold in the Cambrian Patrols.

The ability to hike across mountains in fast time is a skill that has been sorely tested over the last five years. I think we'll need it for some time to come.

Azhar Hussain, the Pak Army wrestler did well with Gold and Silver at the Commonwealth games, whilst his home was under floods.

And Sir, just a request, and please do pass it along to all those junior to you; no coups please.

With ♥


Baloch Hal Banned Inside Pakistan - WTF Government of Pakistan?

The Baloch Hal website was banned inside Pakistan, and can't be viewed inside Pakistan. This is disgusting and just makes me angry. Haven't those choots in the PTA (or in the army or whoever in the establishment ordered the blockage) heard of internet proxies?

Here's one:

Just type into the url and you're connected to the Baloch Hal. Pakistan

As for the government of Pakistan (or whoever has the authority to ban or unban sites in Pakistan), please kindly leave the Baloch Hal alone, and if you want a collection of hate sites to ban, ban the hateful ones from this article. There's a reason I link to Baloch Hal, and that it delivers the truth. I would rather hear the painful details of whatever happens in Pakistan, from one of my fellow citizens, rather than have the story trickle out through foreign journalists (as these stories inevitably do) and be lectured back by someone who isn't going to be living with the aftermath.

In the meantime, leave the Baloch Hal alone.

Situation Report

Things are bad, but Feica remains a genius.
The Watan cards are plastic debit cards for flood refugees, or affectees to get compensation.
From the 10th November 2010 issue of Dawn.

Why We Blog

Some people have asked this question over the course of the last few months why Pakistani kids, teens and youth have taken up blogging furiously. Well aside from the obvious floods, there was a sudden uptick this year when a certain event happened in Lahore. A relativelyinteresting event in which any thinking Pakistani felt implicitly complicit. What a phrase.

Too many scenes worthy of action movies from Pakistan over the last few years.

Too many opportunities to take combat calibre photoes in Pakistan

The attacks on the Ahmedi Mosques at Garhi Shahu and Model Town in Lahore. The attacks on Garhi Shahu and Model Town were also on rich, wealthy people. Before anybody jumps in and calls the Punjabi Taliban a "class" action, I would say fuck you. The Punjabi Taliban (basically, the Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi) are anti-public forces that aim to keep people from fighting in favour of their class rights. The "class" aspect of the anti-persecution feelings are due to the fact that the victims of the Garhi Shahu attack were from the same socio-economic class as the English language bloggers and tweeters of Pakistan. These attacks were on people they were likely to be in interaction with, and likely to NOT be prejudiced against, because as per their socio-economic class, they English Language bloggers were not educated in the government school system, with its prejudices, but in the relatively modern (and not overtly ideological) private school system. Idealistically speaking, every child in Pakistan deserves the same education these English speaking bloggers were fortunate enough to receive.

However, it does run deeper. Anybody with a conscience over the age of 18, remembers getting their NIC (National Identity Card) and signing the part where it essentially repudiates Ahmedis (aka Qadianis) by making us say anyone who disputes the Prophets finality is a non Muslim and because we sign this piece of paper agreeing to that we are Muslims. Every Pakistani over 18 has signed that paper, every Pakistani who writes in English has a blog and every Pakistani over 18 is complicit in condemning an entire community, that thinks of itself as Muslim, as non-Muslim, in a state that defines itself as being ideologically "under Islam". So we all took part, all those tens of millions of us with NIC's, in our little way of condemning the Ahmadis. Then there's only one way to get past that then; to raise our voices and say "No More". This condemnation of the Ahmadis ends here and now. Those who are kids today don't want anything to do with this bigoted, abusive crap from the past, where ordinary people are implicit in the crime of persecution.

That's why you see so many blogs popping up, or ramping up their voices. That is why you see all these blogs, and twitter feeds, going up, and going out and raising their voice on all that is happening in Pakistan. This is why we blog.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ayaz Amir talks about a bankruptcy of ideas. Here's a new idea; Admit That There Are Long Wars All Over This Country, and Begin Talking About Them

Because there's a very good reason I have a blog I registered 10 months ago called These Long Wars. Because there are fucking LONG WARS, and THESE WARS have been going on forever. The sectarian battles and the criminality of the militants who fight them; the suicide bomb trainer and his unattacked bases (we have fucking jets don't we? and we fucking bombed Bugti? and that too by motherfucking accident?); the tinderbox of Karachi and how the MQM, ANP and local PPP have criminal connections; the robber barons of sugar who wage class war (Rs 100 for ONE kilogram of sugar??? If I were in Pakistan I would be screaming bloody murder!!!!), a Baloch Lashkar for every division of Balochistan, the total ignoring of every law in the land by everyone in the land, the district level warlords we call feudals, the forever war of Civil-military conflict, the propaganda sprinkling by the intelligence services, the ever spiralling population of 180,000,000, soon to be 190 million, and this run on sentence having even further to go but the rules of grammar insisting it stop.

These Are Long Wars. They Have Been Fought For Half A Century or More. Admit That We Are Residents of A Land of Perennial Conflict. A Place That Has Not Known Peace Without Some Rebellion At One Time Or Another, That We Are Not "Essentially Peaceful".

We are killers, we are fighters and we make WAR. A weapon has not crossed our eyes, from the talwar to the thermonuclear bomb, that we did not see, did not like, and did not acquire. THIS is what we looked like when we went to guerrilla war BEFORE the AfPak Kalashnikov revolution of 1979:

Sher Muhammad Marri aka Shero Marri aka General Sheroff aka Balls on Legs, Wearing Sunglasses & a Bandolier
Pictured Either During the 3rd Baloch Uprising (1963-1969) or the 4th Baloch Uprising (1973-1977) Either Way Son - This is How They Did It Before Kalashnikovs And You Had to Be A Man To Pull It Off

We are Sindhi, and the flag of our separatist movement/independent state, has an axe in it.
We are Baloch, and we are renowned as mountain desert guerrillas.
We are Punjabi, and we were the sword arm of the British Empire not just in British India, but across the planet.
We are Pathan. Ask the British, the Macedonians, the ex-Warsaw Pact and NATO.
And we are the Mohajirs of India. Who fucked the entire Hindu population of the subcontinent by having the idea of "Pakistan" lying around, so that once the Muslims and the Hindus went at each others throats, after the Nips and the Nazis had worn the Brits down, those limey motherfuckers would cut up the country and fucking run.

From Acceptance of The Central Thesis, of Multiple Long Wars; It'll All Make Sense. And Then The Process Of Solving That And Many Other Problems Can Begin.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Use Intelligence to Gather the Names of the People Planning the Killing, Hunt Them Down and Kill Them - Over to Mosharraf Zaidi

Everything I have to say about this new terrorist attack was in the title. I`ll post and link to Mosharraf Zaidi`s article on Foreign Policy. As for the picture below; I apologise, but I think it has to be shown. There is no other way around it for me.

In other news, I would like to remind any readers that the Information Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who has to speak after these events lost one of his sons in a suicide bombing. Mosharraf Zaidi will also make an excellent point about the Pakistan security state keeping the number of soldiers killed secret.

Now on to the wise words of Mr Zaidi:

All Calculus, No Answers

Today at Friday prayers, a bomb detonated in a mosque in Darra Adam Khel, killing more than 66 worshippers. It was the work of, by most accounts, a suicide bomber. In the Pakistani press and on the two dozen news channels that feed us a constant and unrelenting stream of what is happening in the country, the total number of people in the mosque at the time of the attack was anywhere between 100 and 500. The roof either collapsed, or did not collapse. There were anywhere between 50 and 200 injured. Pakistani officials use the figure of 30,000 Pakistani victims of terrorism routinely. Three years since the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) launched this war into a different, much bloodier dimension, the official response to this mayhem seems only to show Pakistan still has no counter-terrorism strategy. As always, the only certainties in the aftermath of terror in Pakistan were two things. First, Pakistani leaders would fall over themselves to repeat platitudes about terrorism in Pakistan and how very strongly they condemn this kind of thing. Second, this will all happen again, very soon.

How strongly did the terrorist attack in Darra Adam Khel register within the Pakistani discourse? The customary thing in Pakistan after a terrorist attack is a casual, "oh-no-not-again." It's casual because you simply cannot expend all your energy lamenting one terrorist attack, when you know there is another just around the corner. We have to conserve our outrage and our routine condemnations for these events, because, let's face it, there will never be a Pakistani 9/11. We've never built anything quite so magnificent and meaningful as the World Trade Center, or the Pentagon. So we stutter and stumble. From one kind of 9/11 to the next.

Within six hours, the next one came. Not very far from Darra Adam Khel, in Sulaiman Khel, four grenades were thrown into another mosque, killing at least five worshippers. The Darra Adam Khel attack was no longer the top news item, having been replaced with this latest incident of violence, another in the fertile orgy of terrorist indulgence that Pakistan offers to anyone with the money and guts to pursue a seemingly bottomless appetite for human life.

The mosque wasn't a Shia mosque, or an Ahmedi mosque. It wasn't a room full of Americans, or Indians. It was Pakistanis. Pashtuns. Mainstream, run-of-the-mill Sunni Muslims. The desperate attempts to frame the conflict in Pakistan as an ideological war keep running into piles of dead bodies from demographics that aren't supposed to get in the way of convenient cleavages between Pakistanis -- extremist and moderate, Sufi and Wahhabi, Deobandi and Barelvi, Muhajir and Pashtun. In between these cleavages, innocent human beings keep getting blown up, riddled with shrapnel, shot and maimed. And this doesn't include the unseen, unreported and unverifiable numbers of Pakistani soldiers that die in this war every day. Nor does it include innocent victims of drone attacks, the numbers for which are equally unknown, although much more vociferously contested.

There is a lot that the Untied States and other countries, like India, expect Pakistan to be able to do, to protect their citizens from the incurable madness and cancerous lawlessness of terrorists that make their home in Pakistan. Yet Pakistan has proven that it is a country that cannot protect its own citizens -- in mosques, shrines, universities, shopping centers and police stations. How can it possibly protect the citizens of other countries?

It makes one wonder, what kinds of machines are being used in Washington to assess the "Pakistani calculus." For a country that can't even conduct the basic arithmetic of addition and subtraction, the idea of calculus seems a stretch. Nearly seventy more grieving families, almost three years since the terrorist coalition in Pakistan, the TTP first came together -- and still all calculus, and no answers.

Mosharraf Zaidi has served as an advisor on international aid to Pakistan for the United Nations and European Union and writes a weekly column for Pakistan's the News. You can find more of his writing at

Postscript: In light of all that has happened, all that Mr Zaidi says, and the multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian and multi-lingual nature of Pakistani society, I think a discussion should begin about making religion a private matter, and withdrawing it from the public (read political) space. I repeat this should be about making religion a private matter.

Finished - Ghost Wars by Steve Coll

Somebody was right, there were a few opportunities to take Bin Ladin out during the Clinton administration, but that was a different, less American-interventionist time than now. It explains their new found love for drone strikes and it covers the rise of the Predator pre-Hellfire missile. I was disappointed by no mention whatsoever of Junejo, electoral manipulation(s) in Pakistan, the insane amount of unrest in Karachi and that violence's role in bringing down a few governments in the nineties. Also the way he pussyfooted around the Bush administrations errors of omission and commission was a bit annoying towards the end. But hey, what can be said, the man works in Washington, and the way our reporters are afraid to openly abuse the permanent elite of the Pakistani security state, he is careful about choosing his words when criticising the permanent elite of Washington.

A Post on British Propaganda During the Irish Revolution

Surprise, surprise, the Daily Mail was involved in propaganda against the Irish during their revolution against the British. Who is surprised, that the British press has continued a tradition of alarmism, spin and fear alive today? Rupert Murdoch imported the idea of a hyper-partisan news source from the British press. This article mentions how propaganda and psy-war material (to demoralise the enemy and to raise moral on their own side) was used by the British against the Irish rebels of 1919-1921. Considering the British have recently been involved in propaganda this decade against those opposing the banks in England and against Iraq, and historically in South Asia, it should come as no surprised that racist anti-Irish screeds slowly entered the historical record as primary sources. This also leads to what is happening in Pakistan today;

1) Pakistani intelligence is using psy-war techniques against and through the local press, especially against politicians.

2) The style of allegations, of the enemy being one way whilst actually carrying out that heinous action on your own. The British accuse the Irish partisans of being sectarian, whilst encouraging Protestant sectarians of their own so that they can paint the Irish rebels as Catholic Irish only. The Pakistan military claims that it is the "feudal" sardars who were keeping the province backward, whilst encouraging sardars of their own, AND taking a regressive and/or simplistic resource based view of the province of Balochistan.

3) The divide and conquer, or controlled chaos, style of the British is being deployed by the Pakistan military against political opponents. It has successfully been applied to Karachi and urban Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's progressive faction (the ANP) is in a desperate war with the Taliban, and the recent admission of an Intelligence Bureau officer posted in Balochistan this decade, was that his job create conflict between tribes. There you have the source of the title of this blog. These Long Wars. Engendered by the Pakistan Military Establishment.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Artists Call Record Companies Pirates - Go Download Stuff Now

Ars Technica (a better site than for reviewing the confluence of culture, law, politics and information technology) reports that corporate music companies in Canada were putting musicians songs on compilation albums without their permission or payment. Now the musicians of around 300,000 songs are suing the corporate ass of Canadian Recording Industry Association, including the Big Four (Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada). If Canadian corporations can make a mistake like this, maybe in the grand-daddy of entertainment industries, the musicians should look into whether all parts of their contracts have been enforced.

As an old client of Rainbow Centre, I heartily approve.

Artists' lawsuit: major record labels are the real pirates

Fighting Entropy

I mentioned how there is a threat of a starvation disaster, now that people have been uprooted from their homes by the flood. Oxfam mentioned how there is a threat that people could die of hunger or malnutrition. So the bery, bery chalaak US government (or Centcom, take your pick) decided to depute a US CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter from the 26th US Marine Expeditionary Unit to help carry four tons of food to a village called Hassan Khan Jamali about 90 or so miles from Pano Aqil that`s surrounded on all sides by water, with road access cut off. Apparently residents have returned, but food access is sporadic because the water hasn`t drained away. This is feets and feets of water we`re talking about, so no vehicle can drive through. So either the Pakistan military asked for help, or the new ambassador asked and said, you folks want any help?

Regardless, the US got in a photo op, and that too by being based at a cantonment that the Pakistan military established in the eighties to put down the raging MRD (Movement for the Restoration of Democracy) insurgency of the early eighties, an insurgency that degenerated into the Sindhudesh Movement.

I feel kinda bad; whilst Shahid Saeed has written a detailed narrative, with analysis, of the 1995 coup by Major General Zaheer-ul-Islam Abbasi, I've been trying to get these pictures from the US Pano Aqil photo op to link on to my blog.

But I think these pictures do serve a larger purpose. 1) A US propaganda coup (why was this not one upped by Pakistan?) 2) The floods are still a problem and will continue to be one 3) For God's sake, our weapons procurement process has to swing into getting us a heavy lift helicopter. This is the third large disaster Pakistan has experienced in five years where the paucity of heavy lift helicopters has crippled rescue efforts and made our military's mis-prioritisation apparent. If we can't lease CH-53's, Chinooks, Blackhawks, or Puma's then how about looking at the Mil Mi-6's or Mi-26's since we have a love affair with Russian military equipment.

And finally there are Chinese helicopter models that should be pursued. It's a question of when if ever the civilians can exert pressure on the military to change their weapons acquisition processes. On a final note, Dawn really should improve the way its pictures load. The current multimedia setup does not have any way to hold all the pictures in one place, whilst having an abysmally slow loading time.

The plains of southern Sindh photographed on 30 October aboard a US CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter of the 26th US Marine Expeditionary Unit. The newly appointed US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron P Munter is traveling to visit a World Food distribution point at Hassan Khan Jamali.

Ambassador Munter with his wife Marilyn Wyatt ready to board a US CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter for Hassan Khan Jamali.

79 nautical miles from the Pano Aqil Cantonment is the inconspicuous village of Hassan Khan Jamali, which three months after the floods is still surrounded by water from all sides, although the 2000 residents have returned home.

Stationed at Pano Aqil for the past two weeks, with six other women, Staff Sergeant Kali Gradishar, an Acting Public Affairs Officer waits as the Ambassador’s helicopter lands on a solitary strip of dust track loaded with food relief.

Unloading four tonnes of food including high-energy biscuits for Hassan Khan Jamali villagers. There are no road links to the area and no reconstruction is being done at the moment.

Pakistani army soldiers unload bags of flour from the aircraft.

Delivering WFP branded flour donated by Japan to a village of about 2,000 in southern Sindh.

I feel the way this soldier looks.

A narrow strip of dust track doubles as a landing strip for the 26th and 15th Marine Expeditionary Units flying CH-53 Super Stallion and CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters to isolated locations in the Sindh province. In the distance, villagers with wheat tokens wait for food relief. “Reconstruction of roads and secondary roads and all requires significant money and time. But what I incredible when we deliver food aid is the orderly manner that it’s distributed and credit goes to village leaders,” explains Brig. General Brian Beaudreault. [far left]

It becomes a dirt-track media moment, as a frail, ghostly woman, with one hand wrapped in an earthy brown dupatta wearing with no shoes is courted by the US and Pakistani contingents.

Staff Sgt. Kali Gradishar sits on the edge of the helicopter, taking aerial view photographs of the region. She is a photographer and journalist with the US army.

US Marine Corps Lt. Colonel Mark Sexton onboard a C130 to Karachi.

Lt. Colonel Arif [far right] and other members of the Pakistani Army are in charge of US security on the Pano Aqil airbase.

Lt. Colonel Ontero at Pano Aqil receives a medal of distinction for his services to relief efforts in southern Pakistan.

Much of the symbolism is obvious, but would love to know what that specific pattern of stripes on the braid is supposed to symbolise. And if I'm counting right, that's 13 stars. 13 original states anybody?

Since August, US military aircraft and personnel, working with the Pakistan military, have provided humanitarian airlifts for the delivery of more than 20 million pounds of relief supplies and the transport of more than 27,000 displaced persons throughout Pakistan. Photographed on board a US C130 travelling to Pano Aqil Cantonment, [from far left] are William Martin, US Consul General in Karachi, Bo (Robert) Palmer, information officer, US Marine Corp Brig. General Brian Beaudreault, Commander for Southern relief operations, Andie De Arment, information officer, Mary Elizabeth Madden, with Karachi’s US Consulate and Brian Harris, chief of staff to Ambassador Munter.

Onboard the C130 to Pano Aqil Cantonment. US Marines stationed there have delivered supplies to more than 150 locations throughout Sindh, flying more than 450 heavy-lift helicopter sorties.

Ambassador Munter talks to a reporter enroute to Pano Aqil, surrounded by members of the press. Just four days into his new assignment he will then travel to the Hassan Khan Jamali relief site where he and a team of Pakistani and US military members will unload approximately four tonnes of food aid.

US Marine Corp Brig. General Brian Beaudreault, Commander for Southern relief operations in Pakistan explains that he’s been in the country since October this year supervising the US task force flying aid relief for the south. “We work closely with the 16th Division of the Pakistani military at Pano Aqil, coordinating with them everyday as we do with the World Food Program and the Sindh Relief Services organisation.” With 200 US marines on the ground he says, “You’re not going to find a more compassionate group with no ulterior motive but to provide aid.”

USAID and OFDA is providing the funds to meet the emergency and early recovery needs of approximately 8,000 displaced families in Thatta and Dadu Districts in southern Sindh.

From left to right: Ambassador Munter, Pakistani army’s Lt. Colonel Arif and Brig. General Brian Beaudreault.

Ambassador Munter is briefed about the Pano Aqil airbase as a pickup point for WFP relief aid.

US Marine Corps Captain Danny Ortiz at Pano Aqil airbase.

US Marines stationed at Pano Aqil Cantonement in Sukkur since early September have transported more than 3.7 million pounds of relief supplies to different locations in southern Pakistan.

Lt. Colonel Ontero of the United States Army addresses the US Marines at an honouring marine corp service at Pano Aqil.

William Martin, US Consul General in Karachi coming back to Karachi after a day of distributing aid with the newly appointed Ambassador Munter in southern Sindh.