Ramazan package’ for terrorists?

Daily Times
The interior adviser, Mr Rehman Malik, has announced that the military operation in the Tribal Areas will be suspended on August 31 in deference to the holy month of Ramazan. That means that for 30 days our army will not fight the militants who have literally taken a large chunk of our territory away. Mr Rehman says it is not going to be a ceasefire, and only he can make sense of this “rider clause”, but we hope that our army doesn’t give up its position of advantage in Bajaur and Swat because of this “deal” in the month of fasting.

The past pattern is stark. “Peace talks” proceeded after sending the army back to the barracks, pulling down the checkposts and returning the territory which should not have been returned. Now Mr Rehman says the army will suspend operations but if the militants start something it will retaliate: “If they fire a single bullet we will respond with 10 bullets”. In the past, this has not happened. It is the militants who fired the ten bullets, it is our men who died, while the politicians kept on saying they wanted “peace talks”. The militants always regrouped and returned with redoubled strength that found no comparable counter-force opposing them.

No one can be blamed for characterising the suspension of military operations in the Tribal Areas as a weak-kneed response to the challenge of internationalised terror. One can’t see how it is going to be different this time. If the operation is suspended, does it mean the troops stay where they are but do nothing when they see the militants getting fresh supplies of munitions and men? Does suspension mean that the troops will go back to their cantonments to fast and say their special Ramazan prayers? If that is going to be the shape of things to come in the next 30 days, who will look after the safety of Bajaur refugees trying to return to their homes?

Ramazan has assumed a great religious importance in our days. Entire cities go into partial suspension of life and work because everyone is fasting. No one wants to work seriously and doesn’t even think it is wrong to violate traffic rules. Will this apply to war also? It has never happened in the past. Some wars are known in Muslim history as “Ramadan wars” because the enemy will not strike according to the Islamic calendar. In fact the enemy will strike most effectively during Ramazan because Muslims are not willing to be active during the fasting month. Let us be frank, the terrorists who kill fellow-Muslims have a poor record as far as observing the holy months is concerned. The militants one faces in Bajaur are the same people who have been killing Muslims during Ashura.

In a way, the 23,000 people who are supposed to return home and start fasting will walk straight into the arms of the terrorists. Already the people displaced by the terrorists have come to Peshawar and are opposing military operations against the Taliban. Their mind is influenced by the past hesitation on the part of the state to take on the terrorists. They simply don’t believe that the state is capable of defending their rights; therefore, to save their lives they are ready to give up their right to shave their beards, to educate their daughters and listen to music, and prevent their sons from being trained as suicide bombers. Hundreds of thousands of people have actually migrated from South Waziristan, Swat and Kurram, and they are so forlorn and desperate to just “live” that they are prepared to accept the tyranny of the Taliban because the Pakistani state cannot or will not protect them.

The state’s response was on the upswing before the fasting month came around. Eighteen Taliban making life miserable in Peshawar surrendered and swore on the Quran that they would not repeat their evil deeds. Of course this means nothing unless the state is dominant. One is conscious of the fact that the state has asserted itself in Swat and Bajaur, but it has not yet established dominance. (It has turned tail in Kurram, of course, where the Shia are being allowed to die.) The right thing to do is to carry on the noble deed of rescuing the people of Pakistan during Ramazan and to think of resting only after the job is accomplished.

We have tried peace talks; we have tried jirgas. Peace talks have allowed the terrorists to reorganise and replenish. The jirgas are no longer real because all the elders who could have talked peace have been killed by the terrorists. Now we can try Ramazan, and after that Eid too in the hope that this will work and the Taliban will vacate aggression and allow the writ of the state to prevail. But if it doesn’t work, we will rue the lesson that there is nothing more damaging for morale than to give up after succeeding partially.

Of course, we realise that there may be some short-term political compulsions also in this new development. The JUI, in particular, has pegged its support for Mr Asif Zardari’s presidential bid to a “soft” compromise by the state in the tribal areas. Most FATA MNAs are also putting a lot of pressure on the federal government to capitulate to the Taliban. This pressure can be released by accepting their demands in good faith until the Taliban break the agreement. Mr Rehman Malik has said as much but added that “one Taliban bullet will be returned with ten bullets by the state”. So be it. The government should get over the presidential election in a week’s time and review the Ramazan deal realistically in light of its short-term and long term experience. *

Second Editorial: Mangal Bagh still rules Khyber

There is no need to say what happened after a “successful” operation in Khyber Agency. Warlord Mangal Bagh was put to flight and is under a deadline to leave the agency. The latest news is that his gang Lashkar-e-Islam has asked the people of Landi Kotal to obey his orders, or else. Mr Bagh has asked the people to voluntarily hoist his army’s black flags on their rooftops or face punitive action. He has asked men to keep beards, cover their heads with caps, and keep their ankles visible to avoid thrashings. A large number of people have bought caps to avoid being killed. Since he is using the FM radio, the sales of radio sets have shot up. People don’t want to miss out on his fresh orders and suffer. Every prayer-leader will have to follow the timetable for five prayers set by Mr Bagh’s army.

It is the same as in Swat and Bajaur. No one dares to speak up against Mr Bagh. But everyone is ready to speak against the state and ask it not to come to their help. This is because the state has gone in and then left the job unfinished. When the state was winning against him, Mr Bagh was laughing on TV. He still owns houses in Peshawar and orders people around in Hayatabad, but the state is not there in Khyber.

Religious parties and militants

Religious parties and militants
M Waqar
Everyday we read news items on internet, TV, NEWSPAPERS all over the world that: Death toll in Wah blasts climbs to 70; Tehreek-e-Taliban accepts responsibility for Wah blasts and third news is in Urdu, Islamists bomb girls school or music centre and then we hear and read that religious parties like Jaamat-e-Islami is asking the Govt to stop operations against militants. I get confused and think what’s wrong, the innocent people are being killed, none of them belong to the family of Qazi Hussain or any other member of Pakistan elite club. JI is the same group of mullahs who were against the creation of Pakistan, they labelled Sir Syed as Kafir because heasked Muslims of India to learn English and get educated. Qazi Hussain knows only the politics of protests and DHARNAS. If he is a sincere politicians why cannot he go to Tribal areas and talk to those killing innocent people. If QAZI thinks that TALIBAN are innocent then who is killing innocent Pukhtoons? Instead of supporting actions of law enforcing agencies, leaders of religious parties are supporting fanatics, criminals, Taliban. The government has chosen to negotiate instead of fight, which has further emboldened the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazlur and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, legitimate Pakistani political parties which dominate the political scene in the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies support Taliban on both sides of Puktoons borders. The rising lawlessness in the country and the growing popularity and success of suicide attacks are the most dangerous signs for Pakistan's integrity. Today, the belief is becoming strong among the masses that the war against terror is the war of the United States and the Pakistan army. It has nothing to do with the people of Pakistan. There is a need to change this perception. Terrorism is the biggest threat to the world. Suicide attacks are the most lethal and successful weapons of the terrorists. Terrorism must be rooted out and it cannot be done by isolating the people of Pakistan, The Pashtun nation is a victim of a conspiracy. All Pukhtoons including other people of the whole province as well as the tribal area must come together. Putting aside our political affiliations or linguistic proficiency we must once and for all realize that disunity equals destruction and unity is the need of the hour as without unity we have no other options. So let us unite and rise to the occasion and save our land, our identity, our faith and the destiny of our present and future generations.

Ahmed Faraz: poet of love and defiance

Ab ke hum bichray - Mehdi Hassan

Ahmed Faraz, who died in Islamabad on Monday night after a long struggle with a host of ailments, having taken ill in the first week of July while on a visit to the United States, was a classicist like Faiz Ahmed Faiz who, like him, produced poetry of great lyrical beauty and who, like his mentor, never hesitated to stand up against oppression and never was afraid of suffering for his beliefs.

Faraz, steeped in the classical tradition, was the true inheritor of Faiz’s mantle. Like Faiz, he suffered prison and lived in exile during the dark days of military rule in the 1980s. Like Faiz, he was loved by the people, especially the young, and nobody wrote with more intensity about love than Faraz. He gained fame as a young man – he was teaching at Peshawar University at the time - and while much in the way of comfort and the easy life forsook him on more occasions than one, his fame and his popularity never languished. Few poets have had more of their work set to music and performed by the great singers of the age than Faraz. Almost always, he found himself on the wrong side of the government of the day. From Ayub, through Yahya, through Bhutto and down to Musharraf, Faraz was always viewed by the establishment as the rebel he was. He was never afraid to write what others only whispered about and he never let adversity stray him from the path he had chosen for himself. More of his poetry is remembered and recited by his admirers in his own country, in India and wherever Urdu is loved and spoken, than that of any other poet of modern times.

The journalist Iftikhar Ali recalled in New York as the news of Faraz’s death broke, “Faraz was a year senior to me when I joined the Islamia College Peshawar, in 1954. He was remarkably handsome, full of life but very much into poetry. He would gather students around him and read out his mostly romantic poems. There was no open mixing of male and female students in those days. But somehow his poems managed to reach girl students who felt greatly attracted to him. He would receive dozens of hand written letters from them, not only those at the university but from a women’s college in the city as well. The well-to-do ones would have their servants deliver their letters while others would drop them in front of Faraz at bus stops. At that time, he loved to watch hockey and would lead slogans at the annual match between the two old rivals -- Islamia College and Edwards Collge.”

During Bhutto’s days, Faraz was sent home by Maulana Kausar Niazi for writing a couplet that some considered heretical, a misstep that was soon rectified. He lost his job under the Zia regime and he spent many years in exile in Europe and America, quite a few of them in London. His great poem Mohasra (The Siege) remains one of the most powerful indictments of military rule. Faraz told the BBC in a recent interview that he would never like to leave Pakistan because he wanted to live in the country, which was his home, because it was there that he would want to continue his struggle against dictatorship. “I am against dictatorship and military rule. The time has not yet arrived when I should escape from the country out of fear. I will stay home and fight.” He was actively involved in the movement that has built itself around the ousted chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Faraz used his influence to urge writers and poets to join the protest.

Few people know that in 1947 when the uprising in Kashmir against the Maharaja’s rule began, among the volunteers who went in to fight on the side of the Kashmiris was the teenager Ahmed Faraz from Kohat. He said in a recent conversation that his heart bleeds at the military aggression to which the people of Waziristan and Balochistan have been subjected. He said what we know today as Azad Kashmir was not liberated by the army but by Wazir tribes who went into the state to fight the Maharaja’s forces. Faraz, asked why he had returned the Hilal-i-Imtiaz conferred on him by the Musharraf regime, felt that he could not keep the award because it was given to him by a military regime, although many people had told him that it was an honour conferred on him by the people of Pakistan. He said whenever the country has come under an army rule, it has suffered grievously, to the extent of being rent asunder, as in 1971. Ask why he had not written another poem like Mohasra, he replied, “Because I do not want to write the same poem again. In Pakistan, things do not change and, consequently, the poems I wrote in the past have not become dated."


By Dr Adalat Khan

There is nothing worse, or more pathetic, than to see the whole Pukhtoon nations standing aside and wringing their collective hands over the death and destruction of their fellow brethrens either by bigoted extremists or mercenary forces. The whole Pukhtunkhwa is under fire and it would seem that if sense and sensibility did not visit the minds of Pukhtoons the whole race will erase. This is not exaggerating because many strong nations who once ruled the world do not exist today and have only become part of the forgotten history. Babylonians, Romans, Byzantine are just a few examples of civilizations which were wiped out and do not exist today. Is that a destiny Pukhtoons wish to embrace? If the answer is yes then this article will lose its utility. But let us hope that the same nation which was once the envy of the world will regain its dignity if not earlier glory. The task is tough but not impossible provided there is a collective struggle towards this end. No one can change the conditions of Pukhtoons but themselves. In the Holy Quran, Allah says that He does not change the conditions of a people unless they make efforts to change these themselves. The time to change our conditions is now because now are the worst conditions we as a nation face. After the last kind Pukhtoon King Ibrahim Lodhi whose rule was taken by Mughals in 1562 Pukhtoons have seen the worst of oppressions, colonialism, wars and destructions. However of and on they were able to bounce back either by consistently fighting their enemies, or regaining back their sovereignty from occupying forces. However today this regal race is pushed to the extreme wall and sliding backward will prove fatal. The one and only option available to Pukhtoons is to move forward and unite. Unity is not only needed but it is our survival and if we do not grab this opportunity in the history of annals we will be attributed the worse place.
There are great dangers because the great devils have brought the battle to our homes but alas we are fighting among our selves. A New Great Game is being played where the only obstacles seen are Pukhtoons and conditions are orchestrated to wipe out this race so there is a free flow of oil from the Caspian Sea to the Gwadar port and onward to the West. In The New Great Game, a book written by Lutz Kleveman, he gives us a fearless, insightful and exacting portrait of a new battleground in the violent politics and passion of oil: Central Asia, known as the "black hole of the earth" for much of the last century. The Caspian Sea contains the world’s largest amount of untapped oil and gas resources. It is estimated that there might be as much as one hundred billion barrels of crude oil in the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan alone. And to transport this resource all obstacle must be removed at all costs including the annihilation of the Pukhtoon race.
Division into different parties, sects, tribes, and schools of thought is only offering the ammunition to our enemies to wipe us out. So what is needed is unity. It is ironic to see that the big Khans who sing the songs of Pukhtoon unity have not united us but further divided us. Our youth have joined extremist groups because the Khans have discriminated them, divided and ruled them, and in some instances forced even to vote against their will. Some of these Khans who even give long lectures on Pukhtoon unity have the blood of poor Pukhtoons on their hands. They must be shameful now as the Pukhtoons have reached a stage where if not reversed they will face total destructions. For the unity to be realized the following are some of the steps which needs to be taken:
• All Pukhtoons including other people of the whole province as well as the tribal area must come together. Putting aside our political affiliations or linguistic proficiency we must once and for all realize that disunity equals destruction and unity is the need of the hour.
• There is a need for a collective dialogue with the government as well as the so called Pro Taliban elements. Consultation or Jirga is not only part of the Pukhtoon culture but at the heart of Islam. We need to iron out all our differences be it between the Pro-Taliban or the people or the government. I am sure win-win solution could be found as the destruction of any of the three parties is the destruction of all.
• Instead of wasting time on futile and minute issues as to what should be the ring tone of a mobile phone or how long should the shalwar be hanging over the knuckles etc. people as well as government must focus on development activities. Health, education, employment and entrepreneurship should be spurred as these are the root causes which have enraged people into doing the things which we see these days.
• It is also the duty of every Pukhtoons to see that Pakistan remains intact as a country and counter all elements which are bent on destruction be they inside or outside. We must give up the retreat mentality but expand our influence throughout the country as well as the world.
• Extremism, ignorance, media assault on our image are some of the enemies which we need to confront. Being a freedom loving, secular, and Islamic minded people we must get rid of these menaces before the destroy us.
Pukhtoons have seen the best of times as well as the worst of times. Today Pukhtoons are at the crossroads and defining moment of their identity or survival. Extremism, international conspiracy to vanish them, and the lack of great leadership to steer them out of trouble are just a few of the myriads of problems faced by this brave people. Frankly there are only two options-first being destruction which is searching us and the second being survival which we must seek. If we do not opt for the second one then it is almost certain that we will become part of a forgotten history. A history where the members of the community were utterly disunited, too caught up in the pursuit of self interests and personal power, too reliant on others to do their work and to fight their wars, and these are the danger signs. They warn of destruction in society, the loss of identity and a decline in resolve that in times past had ensured both the survival of society and its continued existence. Unity among Pukhtoons and the people of the NWFP and Tribal Areas is the need of the hour as without unity we have no other options. So let us unite and rise to the occasion and save our land, our identity, our faith and the destiny of our present and future generations.
Dr Adalat Khan is an international columnist who is based in Malaysia and can be reached at dradalat@gmail.com

Russia stands up from its knees

Long-term consequences of the recent events in the Caucasus are still unclear. The sides involved in the conflict have said everything that they considered necessary to say under the current political situation. The unrecognized republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have survived another bloody conflict with Georgia. The conflict has proved that it is absolutely impossible for the three nations to live within the borders of one legal state. It means that the two republics will ask Moscow to recognize their independence again.

Georgia has had an objective impression of its own political administration and its aptitude to the solution of strategic goals. The Georgian military has proved to be absolutely incapable of waging civilized military actions, whereas the authorities of Georgia showed that they did not care to think about their people.

Russia was forced to launch a massive military action in response to Georgia’s aggression. The Russian troops tested their skills on the enemy armed with US, Ukrainian and Israeli weapons.

US presidential runoffs did not miss a good opportunity to exercise their views in foreign politics. For the first time in many years, Washington’s hawks and their secretary of state became honest in their statements about Russia.

Politics is full of cynicism. Georgia was obviously solving its own problems shelling Tskhinvali with bombs and missiles at night. Thousands of Ossetians were thinking about their future existence.

Anti-Russian sentiments were voiced in Washington, Brussels, Kiev, Warsaw, etc. Russia, Europe and the USA had their own reasons to set their claims to each other, of course. However, Georgia and South Ossetia were quickly moved into the background against the issues of the US-Polish missile deal and the future of Russia’s fuel shipments to Europe. Moscow stood up to defend its geopolitical interests, whereas NATO stood up against Russia, and the USA demonstrated its real influence in the world, which in its turn proved to be indifferent to Washington’s views about a small democratic country of Georgia.

The Caucasian knot became a classic example of the beginning of a global crisis. The crisis appeared at the time, when Russia decided to pass from words to deeds for the first time in its recent history. The West was obviously surprised and scared.

The institutions, which imitated the maintenance of peace on the globe, appeared to be worthless organizations. The OSCE became a participant of the conflict because the Georgian administration had previously informed the organization of the imminent attack on South Ossetia. NATO showed that it was unwilling to find itself in a tough opposition against Russia. As for the United Nations, there were no illusions regarding the efficiency of this organization before. Its headquarters can only be good for televising international discussions, but they can not be a platform where consolidated and efficient decisions are made.

The crisis in South Ossetia has split the Western society. Such a large variety of opinions and views in European and American media could last be seen on the threshold of USA’s incursion in Iraq.

It is an open secret that the world has a rather mean opinion of Russia. However, many Western journalists urge their leaders to finally stop annoying the Russian bear, especially when it comes to Russia’s influence in its historic regions.
22.08.2008 Source: Pravda.Ru URL: http://english.pravda.ru/russia/politics/106182-russia-0

The Western media have always been quite precautious in their attitude to Russia. Their current approach carries one simple message. The West should have tamed Russia a decade ago, but now it just has to deal with it.

Russia has exercised a strong determination to rise from its knees, although it has not stood out yet. Its actions in South Ossetia and Georgia have tested Russia’s military, diplomatic and political possibilities. It seems that Moscow has been winning the fierce fight in foreign policy, although it does not intend to win the fight at all costs. Russia depends on the West just as like the West depends on Russia.

Russia must do its best not to step into the euphoria of the rising superpower. It is worthy of note that even skeptics acknowledged the new quality of Russia’s policies as a result of Moscow’s political restraint in everything about the recent military activity in the Caucasus.

If Moscow maintains the new status, then the conflict in South Ossetia will become a springboard for serious geopolitical changes in the world. Splitting NATO, Turkey’s opposition to the USA, the nuclear problem of Iran - these are only a few issues of the developing crisis.

Pakistan in a dilemma as terrorist attacks at peak

Two suicide blasts occurred in Pakistan's cantonment city Wah Cantt on Thursday, leaving 76 people dead and 110 others injured, according to state-run PTV.

It is the second suicide attack within three days in Pakistan, a sign that the terrorists activities have reached a new height.

The blasts took place at the main gate and another gate of Pakistan Ordnance Factory in Wah Cantt, some 50 km northwest from Islamabad.

Two suicide bomber blew themselves up at the time when the shift was changed and a lot of workers were leaving the factory in a bid to cause maximum casualties.

A militant organization Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. The TTP spokesman Maulvi Umar asked the security forces to stop their operations in the northwestern part and tribal areas, private TV channel Ary One World reported.

It is worth mentioning that the group was also responsible for a suicide blast at a hospital in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) on Tuesday. As many as 23 people were killed in the attack.

He warned that more attacks would be conducted in other places during the coming two days if the operations were not terminated.

As always, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani strongly condemned the bomb blasts and directed the authorities to make efforts to expose the hidden hands behind the incident and bring them to justice.

However, it seems that there is still a long way for the country to defeat the menace of terrorism.

The Pakistani government has made it clear that a multi-faceted strategy will be adopted to win a war against terrorism. After the coalition government came into being at the end of March, the administration initiated peace talks with militants in the northwestern part of the country.

As the talks with militant groups were nearing an end, the Pakistani government was facing mounting pressure from the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which were fighting Taliban in Afghanistan.

The NATO spokesman Mark Laity in late May urged Pakistan to avoid agreements that "put our troops and our mission under threat." The U.S. officials also voiced their concern that Islamabad's peace talks with militants could preclude a rise in attacks in Afghanistan.

The Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama even threatened to send troops to Pakistan to hunt down militants.

At the end of June, Gillani gave full authority to the army chief in connection with the military operation in northwestern Pakistan. The security forces launched a major operation against militants thereafter.

During his visit to the U.S. in July, Gillani pledged that Pakistan would continue its fight against terrorists.

"We are committed to fight against those extremists and terrorists who are destroying and making the world not safe," Gillani said.

Gillani sought the cooperation from the U.S. for economic stabilization to overcome financial, energy and food problems.

Pakistan is currently facing high inflation and its economy has shown signs of slowdown, making the U.S. financial aid for Pakistan more significant.

On the other hand, lawmakers in the U.S. called for a review of its financial aid to Pakistan. They proposed that the aid should be based on Pakistan's performance in fighting militants.

After the resignation of former President Pervez Musharraf who used to be called a key ally of the U.S. against terrorism, the TTP said that they would support the coalition government if they rejected Musharraf's anti-terror policy. However, Gillani said the government would continue to fight terrorism.

Thus the security across Pakistan will be put on high alert as the militants are pondering more attacks.

Saga of missed opportunities.....

Pervez Musharraf has resigned. And with that comes to an end the saga of his nearly decade-long rule of missed opportunities. When he marched in, in 1999, he was received with open arms by a people fed up thoroughly with the corrupt misrules of the PML (N) and the PPP. And his seven-point agenda did give hope to a despondent public. Initially, he did work on it zealously, for which he drew popular applause. But then he surrendered to his vaulting power ambitions and gave this programme a boot, to the masses’ great consternation and to the utter grief to national solidarity, cohesion and unity. Still, had he had not constricted his counsels to a select coterie and had he had taken to all-inclusive consultative processes, which contrary to his assertions in his departing nationwide address he throughout rebuffed derisively, he would have avoided many a pitfall that hurt him so incurably, indeed becoming an albatross around his neck. To be fair to him, he did put enormous money in development, in fact so much as the PML (N) and PPP governments combined had not in all their terms. The national economy was certainly booming on his watch. But by keeping the political leaderships, even his own the PML (Q) caboodle, at bay from his counsels, he couldn’t realise any feelingly that his economic miracle was only enriching a corporate Pakistan, not the common man’s Pakistan, and that the nation’s wealth was getting concentrated into a few hundreds of privileged hands, leaving the huge mass of millions of people penurious, poorer, deprived and denied.When he took power,people welcomed him because of his liberal views,making pakistan an secular society,people liked him because majority of pakistanis don't beleive in religious fanaticism,but then like every former General of Pakistan he shook hand with some corrupt pakistani politicians which damaged his reputation.

Moscow warns it could strike Poland over US missile shield

"It is rare that all the blame is on one side. In fact, both sides are probably to blame. That is very important to understand,"


The risk of a new era of east-west confrontation triggered by Russia's invasion of Georgia heightened yesterday when Moscow reserved the right to launch a nuclear attack on Poland because it agreed to host US rockets as part of the Pentagon's missile shield.

As Washington accused Russia of "bullying and intimidation" in Georgia and demanded an immediate withdrawal of Russian forces from the small Black Sea neighbour, Russia's deputy chief of staff turned on Warsaw and said it was vulnerable to a Russian rocket attack because of Thursday's pact with the US on the missile defence project.

"By deploying, Poland is exposing itself to a strike - 100%," warned Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsyn. He added that Russia's security doctrine allowed it to use nuclear weapons against an active ally of a nuclear power such as America.

The warning worsened the already dismal mood in relations between Moscow and the west caused by the shock of post-Soviet Russia's first invasion of a foreign country.

There were scant signs of military activity on the ground in Georgia, but nor were there any signs of the Russian withdrawal pledged on Tuesday under ceasefire terms mediated by the European Union.

Instead, the focus was on a flurry of diplomatic activity that exposed acute differences on how Washington and Berlin see the crisis in the Caucasus.

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, went to Tbilisi to bolster Georgia against the Russians as President George Bush denounced Russian "bullying and intimidation" as "unacceptable".

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, met Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev on the Black Sea close to Georgia's borders and sent quite a different message, offering a mild rebuke of Moscow.

"Some of Russia's actions were not proportionate," she said.

Unlike the Americans and some European states who are saying the Russians should face "consequences" for their invasion, Merkel said negotiations with Moscow on a whole range of issues would continue as before and spread the blame for the conflict. "It is rare that all the blame is on one side. In fact, both sides are probably to blame. That is very important to understand," she said.

In Tbilisi, Rice was much more forthright, saying that the invasion had "profound implications for Russia ... This calls into question what role Russia really plans to play in international politics.

"You can't be a responsible member of institutions which are democratic and underscore democratic values and on the other hand act in this way against one of your neighbours."

The Russians have been refusing to pull back their forces in Georgia until President Mikheil Saakashvili signed the six-point ceasefire plan arranged by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France earlier this week, although the Russians had refused to sign it themselves.

Saakashvili signed yesterday, while accusing the Russians of being "evil" and "21st century barbarians". Rice said Medvedev had also signed it.

"Russia has every time been testing the reaction of the west. It's going to replicate what happened in Georgia elsewhere," said Saakashvili. "We are looking evil directly in the eye. Today this evil is very strong, and very dangerous for everybody, not just for us."

Rice's show of solidarity with Georgia's beleaguered president was theatrically undermined when Russia dispatched a column of armoured personnel carriers towards the Georgian capital.

As the talks were taking place, 10 armoured personnel carriers laden with Russian troops set off from Gori, penetrating to within 20 miles of Tbilisi.

"Georgia has been attacked. Russian forces need to leave Georgia at once," said Rice. The withdrawal "must take place, and take place now ... This is no longer 1968," she added in reference to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia 40 years ago next week.

The ceasefire terms favour the Russians who routed the Georgians. But the secretary of state argued the plan would not affect negotiations over the central territorial dispute between Georgia and the two breakaway pro-Russian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The deal allows Russian troops to remain in the two provinces and to mount patrols and "take additional security measures" on Georgian territory beyond the two enclaves.

Senior Russians continued to insist yesterday that Russian troops had not stepped outside South Ossetia and Abkhazia despite the fact they have been deep inside Georgian territory in several places all week.

"Our ground forces never crossed the border of the conflict zone," said Sergei Ivanov, the deputy prime minister.

Moscow also indicated it would resist possible European attempts to deploy international peacekeepers in the contested territories.

"We are not against international peacekeepers," the Russian president said. "But the problem is that the Abkhazians and the Ossetians do not trust anyone except Russian peacekeepers." He also attacked the agreement between Washington and Warsaw on the missile shield and said claims that the shield was aimed at Iran were "fairy tales"

"This clearly demonstrates the deployment of new anti-missile forces in Europe has as its aim the Russian Federation," said Medvedev. "The moment has been well chosen."

The timing of Thursday's agreement on missile defence means that tensions are soaring on Russia's southern and western borders.

Polish armed forces yesterday paraded in Warsaw to mark a rare defeat of the Russians 888 years ago and President Lech Kaczynski hailed the accord on the Pentagon project as a boost for Poland's security.

In return for hosting 10 interceptor rockets said to be intended to destroy any eventual ballistic missile attacks from Iran, Poland is to receive a battery of US Patriot missiles for its air defences and has won a mutual security pact with Washington.

Russia tells West to 'forget' Georgian rule in enclaves

Russia tells West to 'forget' Georgian rule in enclaves

Russia positioned itself yesterday as the unequivocal victor in its brief war with Georgia, with its Foreign Minister stating that the world could "forget about" Georgian control of two separatist enclaves.

The Kremlin and the Bush administration stepped up the rhetoric as the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, stopped in France to meet Nicolas Sarkozy on her way to Tbilisi. The French President brokered a fragile ceasefire between Russia and Georgia earlier in the week.
Speaking after President George Bush insisted on the respect of Georgian territorial integrity, Sergei Lavrov, Russia's Foreign Minister, rejected any such talk. President Dmitry Medvedev drove home the message by meeting in the Kremlin with the two separatist leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, said: "If Russia does not step back from its aggressive posture and actions in Georgia, the US-Russian relationship could be adversely affected for years to come."
As Russian troops slowly withdrew from deep inside the former Soviet republic, there were reports that they were destroying airfields and military installations as they went, further crippling the Georgian army, which, despite its US training, has been battered and demoralised.
As Georgian troops moved out of Tbilisi back towards Gori, which they had abandoned on Tuesday, the Russian army said it would take at least two days to leave the city, having earlier denied being there at all. Russian troops also destroyed military vessels in Georgia's Black Sea port of Poti. The aim, said analysts, was to prevent Georgia from renewing military hostilities in its breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in the medium-term future.
Violence has continued inside South Ossetia, with reports that Georgian villages are being looted and burnt to ensure their residents can never return. Fears were growing yesterday that the French-brokered peace plan was unravelling because of vague language that allowed Russian forces to take care of "additional security measures" in Georgia. French and British diplomats have begun work on a draft resolution to put the plan before the United Nations Security Council.
Meanwhile, two planes carrying humanitarian aid from the US arrived in Tbilisi yesterday in a symbolic gesture meant to show American support for Georgia. In reality, Washington has done everything possible to avoid getting involved in the conflict and the claim by the Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, that the American mission to Georgia would involve defending the country's ports and airports was swiftly shot down by American officials. Mr Gates acknowledged that Washington would not use military force.
Most analysts doubt that the Russians ever had plans to launch a land assault on the Georgian capital, but according to those close to the Georgian government, there was a genuine belief in Tbilisi that a full-scale invasion was planned.
"When Bush made his speech promising humanitarian aid, everybody started whooping, cheering, high-fiving," said one government adviser, who had been at the country's National Security Council at the time. "They realised that this would really spook the Russians." The Georgians got another boost as Mr Saakashvili welcomed a group of 50 Estonian military volunteers.
In Moscow, Russian politicians and analysts were furious about what they saw as hypocrisy from the West. "Have you all forgotten about Iraq?" asked Sergei Markedonov, a Moscow-based analyst of the Caucasus. "Georgia was part of Russia for 200 years... and what Saakashvili was doing in South Ossetia threatened the stability of the whole north Caucasus."
*Poland reached an agreement with the US yesterday to place a battery of American missiles inside Poland. Russia has objected to the deal in which the US will place 10 missile defence interceptors in the country while augmenting Poland's defences with Patriot missiles.

AUG 14 2008 Unpleasant reminders on Independence Day

On our 62nd Independence Day on Thursday, all the omens were grim. The Taliban in Swat warned that no one should celebrate 14th of August or he would be attacked and killed. To prove this in Lahore, a suicide bomber hit policemen in Allama Iqbal Town, killing nine and maiming over 35. The interior ministry has warned that there may be more attacks because the terrorists had moved into the big cities and were ready for action. One report actually says that one incident may be caused by using a car snatched from a female officer of an intelligence agency (sic!). The earlier week was full of reports of uncovered caches of weapons, explosives and suicide-jackets.

The NWFP government has condemned America for violating Pakistan’s “territorial integrity” by attacking inside the Tribal Areas. Another attack by a drone near Wana also killed terrorists from outside the tribal agency, some Arabs and some Punjabis from the sectarian and jihadi organisations. Just a day before August 14, the sectarian war going on in the Kurram Agency claimed 28 more people, bringing the count for the week to nearly 200. The three-year-old war has killed thousands there while the government is unable to help the besieged inhabitants of Parachinar, the agency’s headquarters.

As the NWFP assembly condemned the NATO forces in Afghanistan, it did nothing to resolve the crisis faced by the Kurram Agency. The governor — whose office is becoming politically controversial — has been unable to come to the help of the Parachinar population that is now even without medicines. The wounded are piling up in the local hospital and operations are being performed without medical supplies. The medical stores of Kurram sent crores of rupees for medicines to Peshawar. The medicines were bought and are lying packed in Peshawar but have not been despatched for the past three months. Under pressure, people in Parachinar say they are not being rescued because they are Shia.

The warlord of Bajaur, Maulvi Faqir, is getting more ferocious as his men come under attack from the army. He has vowed revenge after he lost 18 of his warriors to aerial bombing and has told the local population that they would be targeted by his men if they don’t resist the Pakistan army. The NWFP assembly ignored the fact that the Taliban in Swat had attacked the house of the well known ANP leader, Afzal Khan. It failed to recognise that the Taliban going in from our Tribal Areas had virtually conquered half of Afghanistan, as reported by the BBC TV on Independence Day. While the rest of the country is gradually responding to reconstruction, the eastern and south-eastern regions of Afghanistan have virtually fallen to the Taliban.

Down in Sindh, the PPP is celebrating the resolution passed by the Sindh Assembly in a no-confidence vote against the president. But it is in denial of the claim made by the Tehreek-e Taliban leader, Maulvi Umar of South Waziristan, that his warriors would soon take over the province. Its general approach, together with the PMLN, is that of making “peace deals” with the Taliban, but it is too busy unseating the president and letting the army do whatever it can to save the country from being conquered internally. Against this background, it is chastening to see the National Assembly once again putting on the war-paint over Kashmir.

The National Assembly, while condemning India over the latest incidents in Kashmir, neglected to take note of the bombings that hit Quetta in the week preceding Independence Day. The spate of grenade-throwing and time-bombing in the past week has been unprecedented in recent history. Baloch nationalist militants have given out a warning, after killing two people in Hub with a bomb blast, that they would cause bombs to go off across Balochistan on Independence Day. As if in response, one ANP minister resigned from the cabinet in Islamabad and the PMLN “returnee” ministers quietly decided not to attend the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

In view of the way the country’s leaders are behaving — and that includes politicians and the media — people expected to do business in Pakistan are quietly dollarising their rupees and making ready to leave and live in Dubai where they have bought apartments. Ironically, housing schemes coming up in Dubai have advertised “fair bargains” in Pakistani papers inside Independence Day supplements. As the rupee plummeted to 76 to a dollar on the kerb, the message was frightening: come for R&R as your country goes down fighting the wrong wars.

Everybody seeking revenge and demanding aggressive action in foreign policy claims he has 160 million people behind him. But on the eve of Independence Day, when GEO TV interviewed the first 15 people on the street, it was told the priorities chosen by politicians and TV anchors were all wrong. The political glands in Pakistan are secreting juices that may satisfy the heart but fail to appeal to the mind. The economy, which is the priority of the 160 million, exclusively demands an exercise of the intellect.

Spread of terrorism in Asia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Daily Times

The adviser to the prime minister on Interior Affairs, Mr Rehman Malik, on Monday held a detailed meeting with his Chinese counterpart and State Counsellor, Meng Jianzhu, in Beijing and expressed condolences for those who lost their lives in recent explosions in the province of Xinjiang, China. He assured him that Pakistan would not relent in its resolve to fight terrorism as a frontline state and explained to him the strategy Pakistan was employing to remove the centre of international terrorism located in its Tribal Areas.

This was in order. Not many months ago, President Pervez Musharraf had himself informed the nation that among the foreign “Islamist” terrorists undergoing training in the Tribal Areas were also a number of Uighur rebels from Xinjiang. Subsequently it is believed that China had reason to be satisfied because Pakistan undertook to apprehend the said terrorists and eliminate them. Adviser Malik’s expression of assurance was also timely because Xinjiang was once again made a target of violence by the terrorists twice in one week before the beginning of the Beijing Olympics on August 8.

The spread of “Islamist” terrorism in China’s neighbourhood in part inspired the setting up of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) five years ago. The countries that joined it included China, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, all victims of terrorist violence. The SCO consults on extremism and irredentism in the region and evolves strategies of resistance against it. But the pattern in the region of these states differs from the one prevalent elsewhere. The group contains states that are either non-Muslim or are ruled by Muslim dictators. Apparently, both categories are better able to confront the phenomenon of “Islamist” terrorism than Muslim-democratic states.

Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have been targeted by “Islamist” groups turned violent with outside help coming mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the draconian methods employed by President Karimov in Uzbekistan and President Rakhmonov in Tajikistan have prevented the terrorist groups from achieving any success. This observation, however, has to be qualified by the significant fact that movements for democracy in these states tend to be on the same side of the barricades as the Al Qaeda-supported groups.

In Russia, the “Islamist” terrorists have not succeeded because of the revulsion that the non-Muslim population feels for these acts of violence. In fact the population of Russia has voted overwhelmingly for the political order created by President Putin to defeat the terrorism which spread as far as Moscow with the help of the Chechens in the south of the Russian Federation. China, too, comes in this category, but it is located too close to ground zero of terrorism where Al Qaeda is located these days and therefore needs to be more vigilant. To some extent, India belongs in the same category.

America and Europe were the prime targets of “Islamist” terrorism, not the Muslim states. In both the regions the populations supported the legislation of tough laws and institutional vigilance to pre-empt attacks after they peaked in 2005. Now the aftermath of these tough measures is being borne by expatriate Muslims there. At the cost of changing their quality of life, however, the non-Muslims populations have supported their states in confronting the individuals who infiltrate and attempt acts of violence. But the pattern is unfortunately different in the Muslim states with majority Muslim populations.

In Pakistan and Bangladesh, a growing trend in favour of “Islamism” reflects sympathy for the terrorists groups. In both cases, the military has been dominating the political system and the terrorists lean to the convenient strategy of becoming a part of the struggle for democratisation. Thus two trends conjoin to form a prodigious political force in favour of the consolidation of the terrorist groups. It is an irony that in Pakistan the man who fought the terrorists, President Pervez Musharraf, is being impeached while an ascendant Al Qaeda, which should have been on the run, puts forward its own charge sheet to supplement the one being brought up in parliament against him.

It is not only Iraq in the Middle East but all of Asia which is in the grip of “Islamist” terrorism. In Indonesia, the pattern is the same as in Pakistan and Bangladesh. There are religious parties and groups which insist that Al Qaeda is no threat and that a delay in the enforcement of sharia might lead to more rather than less violence in the country. Only in the Philippines is the Abu Sayyaf group — named after a warlord of Afghanistan who is now in the American camp — growing because of the jungle conditions in which it survives and because of outside help.

Finally, “Islamist” terrorism is a phenomenon that attacks and destabilises the Muslim states which are struggling for democracy. Because of the quest for sharia in Muslim societies, the terrorists find a higher level of popular acceptance of their cause among the Muslims who ironically are also killed in their suicide-bombings. Significantly, however, when they kill people in non-Muslim states, they invariably meet resistance they can’t cope with. *

Musharraf 'unfit for office'

Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president, is unfit for office and should step down, the provincial assembly in Pakistan's Punjab region has declared.

The vote by Pakistan's most powerful province on Monday came after Musharraf's spokesman said the embattled president would not step down.

The ruling by the Punjab's assembly carries no constitutional weight, but supports plans by the country's ruling coalition to finalise charges against Musharraf.

Pakistan's parliament was expected to discuss impeachment proceedings on Monday but these failed to get under way and the body deliberating on drafting the charge sheet postponed its meeting until Tuesday.

"Pakistan's ruling coalition had warned that it would impeach the president, however when the session of parliament did begin it went into a regular question and answer session," Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Islamabad, said.

"That sent a wave of disappointment across the country as people were expecting there would be a showdown."

Corruption allegations

Charges against Musharraf have not been finalised, but the chief of the ruling party has reportedly accused the president of misappropriating hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid intended for the Pakistani military for supporting the so-called "war on terror".

"They claim it's been going in budget support, but that's not the answer. We're talking about $700m a year missing. The rest has been taken by 'Mush' for some scheme or other and we've got to find it," Asif Ali Zardari, who heads the ruling coalition, was quoted as telling Britain's Sunday Times newspaper.

Zardari claimed the American aid may have gone to fund rogue members of Pakistani intelligence - recently accused by US officials of supporting pro-Taliban militants fighting in Afghanistan.

Musharraf supporters have dismissed the reported comments from Zardari, who was labeled "Mr 10 per cent" for his alleged links to corruption during the two governments of Benazir Bhutto, Zardari's late wife.

Tariq Azeem, the spokesman for the main pro-Musharraf party, said the charges against Musharraf were "baseless" and would only redouble the president's resolve to reject the charges.

"Absolutely president Musharraf will prove all this wrong. There is no way he will quit now quietly while being blamed for corruption," he said.

Azeem also rejected claims from Sherry Rehman, the chief government spokeswoman, that several federal lawmakers from the pro-Musharraf party were ready to support his impeachment.

Bajaur fighting

Away from the capital, Pakistani helicopter gunships attacked positions said to belong to pro-Taliban fighters in the country's tribal region, killing 50 fighters, officials said.

The deaths increased the toll to more than 150 people killed in Bajaur, a known sanctuary for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, in recent days.

Thousands of people were fleeing from the area after aircraft bombed four villages, the Reuters news agency reported.

Separately, residents found the beheaded bodies of two men in an area 16km west of Khar, Bajaur's main town, with a note that they had been killed for spying for US and Pakistani forces.

"The note said the men were helping forces ... identify militant positions," Mohmammad Khan, a local resident, said.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

China defends rights record, accuses Bush of meddling

China said it is committed to its citizens' "basic rights and freedoms" Thursday and criticized President Bush for meddling in what Beijing says are its internal affairs.

President Bush meets with Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on Wednesday in Bangkok.

"We firmly oppose any statements or deeds which use human rights, religion and other issues to interfere with the internal affairs of other countries," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, responding to Bush, who has cited "deep concerns" with China's record on human rights.

The spokesman added that China embraces the concept of putting people's interests first and is devoted to "maintaining and promoting basic rights and freedom of its citizens."

"Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of religion in accordance with the law. These facts are well known. Regarding the Sino-U.S. differences on issues including human rights and religion, we have always insisted on dialogue and communication based on mutual equality and mutual respect, in order to enhance understanding, reduce differences and to expand consensus," he said. Watch pro-Tibet protests »

In a speech on Asian policy delivered in Bangkok, Thailand, on the eve of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Bush chided China over its record of religious freedom and human rights.

"America stands in firm opposition to China's detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists," Bush said.

"We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly, and labor rights -- not to antagonize China's leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential," he said. "And we press for openness and justice not to impose our beliefs, but to allow the Chinese people to express theirs."
Despite the critique, Bush praised what has become a "constructive relationship" between the United States and China in trade and diplomacy. He also said that the association "has placed America in a better position to be honest and direct on other issues."
Bush spoke at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok.

The trip to Asia is Bush's last as president, and he took the opportunity to shine a light on the well-publicized crackdowns on political dissenters in communist China, a country that has emerged as a symbol of soaring capitalistic growth.

"I have spoken clearly, candidly and consistently with China's leaders about our deep concerns over religious freedom and human rights," he said. "And I have met repeatedly with Chinese dissidents and religious believers. The United States believes the people of China deserve the fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human beings."

China cracked down on protests this year in Tibet. Some demonstrators advocated autonomy and greater religious freedom, while others sought outright independence from China.

On Wednesday, four Tibet activists unfurled Tibetan flags and pro-independence banners near National Stadium in Beijing, a main Olympic venue.

Two men in the group scaled electric poles to display the banners, police said, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. Police took away "four foreigners" -- three men and a woman, the agency said.

Students for a Free Tibet, a Tibet activist group, issued a statement saying those involved in the demonstration were from the United States and Britain.

According to the group, one of the signs read, "One World, One Dream: Free Tibet" in English, while the second read, "Tibet Will Be Free" in English and "Free Tibet" in Chinese.

The group said the signs were on display for about an hour, but police said it was about 12 minutes. The demonstrators entered China on tourist visas, police said, according to Xinhua.

Meanwhile, the government's reaction to people protesting in northwest China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, home to a Sunni Muslim ethnic minority, also has generated concerns. The Uighurs are supposed to enjoy autonomy, as it is guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution, but some seek independence.

Millions of Han Chinese, the country's dominant ethnic group, have migrated into Xinjiang over the past 60 years, prompting complaints that they dominate local politics, culture and commerce at the Uighurs' expense.

In the Xinjiang city of Kashgar, Chinese paramilitary police beat two Japanese journalists Monday, hours after a deadly attack that killed 16 police officers, journalist groups said.

China also has been criticized for its policies toward Sudan. Critics have said China is backing the African regime, which is accused of gross human rights abuses in a crackdown in the Darfur region. The United States has condemned the campaign of killing in Darfur as genocide.

Team Darfur, a group of international athletes committed to raising awareness about Darfur, complained that former speedskating gold medalist Joey Cheek had his visa revoked by the Chinese Embassy.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, speaking to reporters en route to Thailand, said, "We were disturbed to learn that the Chinese had refused his visa. We are taking the matter very seriously." Watch a report on the revoking of the activist's visa »

She said U.S. diplomats are asking the Chinese to reconsider their actions and emphasized that the administration hopes China changes its mind.

In Thursday's speech, Bush also focused on other issues, including the economic strides in China -- which endured "rampant" poverty three decades ago.

Beijing is "sprinting into the modern era," Bush said, and the "growth sparked by China's free market reforms is good for the Chinese people."

"China's new purchasing power is also good for the world because it provides an enormous market for exports from across the globe," he said.

Bush urged China to adhere to the "rules of the international economic system" and "act responsibly on issues such as energy, the environment and African development."

He said the United States and China are embarking on "a new strategic economic dialogue," saying the two countries will "discuss ways to ensure long-term growth and widely shared prosperity in both our economies, as well as issues like currency exchange rates and intellectual property rights."

Bush cited two areas of diplomatic cooperation -- the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program and the easing of tensions along the Taiwan Strait.

Pakistan Coalition cranks up pressure on Musharraf

Pakistan Coalition cranks up pressure on Musharraf

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan's ruling coalition will ask President Pervez Musharraf to seek a confidence vote in Parliament or face impeachment, senior party officials told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Two ruling party officials said that course of action was decided upon during marathon talks between party leaders Asif Ali Zardari and ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that ended early Thursday.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they divulged the outcome of two days of talks before the formal announcement at an Islamabad news conference, due later in the day.

Musharraf, who ousted Sharif's government in a bloodless coup in 1999 and then dominated Pakistan for eight years, was sidelined when Zardari and Sharif formed a coalition government after trouncing the former general's allies in February parliamentary elections.

The coalition has a comfortable majority in the National Assembly, so Musharraf would struggle to win a confidence vote. That would crank up political pressure on the U.S.-backed former army chief to resign.

Soon after news broke of the coalition's decision, the Foreign Office announced that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani would represent Pakistan at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics — rather than Musharraf as originally planned.

That immediately fueled speculation the president had canceled his trip because of the imminent moves to oust him.

Political analyst Rasul Bakhsh Rais said if Musharraf seeks a vote of confidence and loses, it sends a political signal of his weakness, but constitutionally it would not lead to his removal from office. If he refuses to take such a vote, lawmakers could include that when drawing up impeachment charges against him, Rais said.

"There is a strong likelihood, but not certainty, that the ruling coalition can impeach him," he said.

Impeaching a president requires a two-thirds majority support of lawmakers in both houses of Parliament. Musharraf loyalists maintain the coalition would struggle to muster it.

In October, Musharraf won his current five-year term in a controversial vote of lawmakers in the outgoing parliament which was dominated by his supporters. The current ruling parties — who were then in opposition — boycotted or abstained from voting.

Musharraf "will be asked by us to seek the vote of confidence from Parliament, as promised by him while contesting the presidential elections," said one of the officials from Zardari's party, which is the largest in the coalition.

The official said the coalition leaders would move a no-confidence motion against him if Musharraf failed to show that he enjoyed the support of the majority of lawmakers.

The official said the coalition had also agreed to restore judges sacked by Musharraf when he declared a state of emergency and rounded up thousands of opponents last November — just as the Supreme Court was to rule on the legality of the October presidential vote.

The officials said the method for reinstating the judges would be announced by Sharif and Zardari.

The coalition was expected to issue a joint statement. The other ruling party official said it would ask Musharraf "to show confidence, failing which we start impeachment proceedings. After that judges will be restored."

Sharif's party refused to divulge the contents of the statement before the news conference.

The former prime minister has been more aggressive than Zardari in seeking Musharraf's ouster and has repeatedly demanded the restoration of the judges.

Sharif spokesman Ahsan Iqbal said early Thursday that the coalition leaders were committed to reinstating the judges and promised "good news" in the upcoming announcement.

Rifts over the judges and how to handle Musharraf have weakened the four-month-old government and hampered its efforts to formulate policies to counter Islamic militancy and a slew of economic problems.

The president, a stalwart U.S. ally, has in recent weeks made more public appearances and comments — seen by some in Pakistan as an attempt to show he remains a political force. He has appeared intent to serve out his five-year term.

While he has little say in the day-to-day running of government and has ceded his control of the powerful army, Musharraf retains the constitutional power to dissolve Parliament. Analysts say he probably retains some influence with the military.

Pakistan president 1,000 per cent sure?

When the president says that he is 1000 per cent sure that foreign hands and agencies are working to destabilise Pakistan generally and Balochistan specifically (he was visiting Quetta when he made the comment) you may be sure that he probably knows something that we don't. There are more foreign intelligence agencies poking around inside Pakistan than there have ever been and we may be certain that the Indians, the Americans, the British, the Afghans, the Bangladeshis, the Saudis, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Iranians and Iraqis to name but a few all have active intelligence gathering operations going on inside our borders. (By the same token we may expect our own agencies to be doing the same in all those places, and if they are not then they are not doing their job!) They will all have slightly different agendas depending on their national interests and may well be competing for the same information. Intelligence agencies do not only gather information, some of them seek to influence events and there can be little doubt that the Americans, Afghans and the Indians are doing just that, every hour of every day.
Of particular concern to our own agencies is the apparent double game being played by the Americans who on the one hand point out a trust deficit when it comes to sharing information - 'We give you information and ten minutes later the bad guys are out the door' – and on the other not acting when Pakistan provided the US with precise coordinates for the location of Baitullah Mehsud. It would have been a relatively simple matter to vector a Predator loaded with a Hellfire missile to target and eliminate a man who has done as much for the instability of Pakistan as anybody else in recent times. Yet that did not happen. It is further alleged that Mr Mehsud is in possession of encrypting communications equipment that enables him to get real-time information on the movement of Pakistani troops. Now who supplied him with that, we wonder? Could it have been rogue elements in out own services…or the Indians…or the Americans? Who knows…we don't. We may not know but we may have reasonable suspicion, and wonder if a level of managed instability within Pakistan might be in the interests of several of our neighbours. Neither India nor Afghanistan has much investment in a strong and stable Pakistan, and America will eternally play both ends against the middle. It should be no surprise to us then if it seems that the US may be supporting – or at least not actively hindering – the work of one or more 'hidden hands' . As Oscar Wilde remarked… 'Your friends stab you in the front'.

Nawaz Sharif's corruption A Shocking Report

Rehmat Shah Afridi criticises Nawaz

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: Frontier Post Chief Editor Rehmat Shah Afridi criticised Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif in a TV interview on Tuesday and showed documents that he said were proofs of the former prime minister’s corruption.

The veteran journalist claimed that the PML-N chief had once earned Rs 330 million in a day by allotting 24 sugar plants to various people. He also alleged that Nawaz wanted to give the contract for developing the Gwadar Port to a defaulted American company in 1999. Afridi said Nawaz had received a huge sum of money from Osama Bin Laden in Madina in the name of jihad. He told Osama he would assist Gulbadin Hekmatyar and Haji Zaman, but the warlords did not receive a penny.

Nawaz brought to Pakistan Rs 1.49 billion of the sum and used Rs 270 or Rs 290 million of it against Benazir Bhutto in the 1990 no-confidence move.

Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad also knew about this money, Afridi said.

He said Nawaz had betrayed and robbed all his friends and would “throw [Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman] Asif Ali Zardari across River Ravi” when he found the opportunity.

Afridi said Nawaz came to his house in 1999 and called him his brother. Nawaz also called Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain his brother, but set up military courts in Karachi on the pretext of a rape case, he said.

He said he had said in a report he published that there were more rapes in Punjab during Shabaz Sharif’s government than in Sindh and therefore it was Punjab that needed military courts.

He also criticised the National Reconciliation Ordinance and said Zardari had also been involved in corruption. Afridi said he had refused to give false statements against Zardari and Benazir Bhutto in court.

Ragtag Taliban Show Tenacity in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Six years after being driven from power, the Taliban are demonstrating a resilience and a ferocity that are raising alarm here, in Washington and in other NATO capitals, and engendering a fresh round of soul-searching over how a relatively ragtag insurgency has managed to keep the world’s most powerful armies at bay.

The mounting toll inflicted by the insurgents, including nine American soldiers killed in a single attack last month, has turned Afghanistan into a deadlier battlefield than Iraq and refocused the attention of America’s military commanders and its presidential contenders on the Afghan war.

But the objectives of the war have become increasingly uncertain in a conflict where Taliban leaders say they do not feel the need to control territory, at least for now, or to outfight American and NATO forces to defeat them — only to outlast them in a region that is in any case their home.

The Taliban’s tenacity, military officials and analysts say, reflects their success in maintaining a cohesive leadership since being driven from power in Afghanistan, their ability to attract a continuous stream of recruits and their advantage in having a haven across the border in Pakistan.

While the Taliban enjoy such a sanctuary, they will be very hard to beat, military officials say, and American officials have stepped up pressure on Pakistan in recent weeks to take more action against the Taliban and other militants there. That included a visit last month by a top official of the Central Intelligence Agency who, American officials say, confronted senior Pakistani leaders about ties between the country’s powerful spy service and militants operating in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Pakistani officials say those ties, which stretch back decades, have been broken. But there is no doubt that the Taliban continue to use Pakistan to train, recruit, regroup and resupply their insurgency.

The advantage of that haven in Pakistan, even beyond the lawless tribal realms, has allowed the Taliban leadership to exercise uninterrupted control of its insurgency through the same clique of mullahs and military commanders who ran Afghanistan as a theocracy and harbored Osama bin Laden until they were driven from power in December 2001.

The Taliban’s reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, a one-eyed cleric and war veteran, is widely believed by Afghan and Western officials to be based in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province in Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan.

He runs a shadow government, complete with military, religious and cultural councils, and has appointed officials and commanders to virtually every Afghan province and district, just as he did when he ruled Afghanistan, the Taliban claim.

He oversees his movement through a grand council of 10 people, the Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahed, said in a telephone interview.

Mullah Bradar, one of the Taliban’s most senior and ruthless commanders, who has been cited by human rights groups for committing massacres, serves as his first deputy. He passes down Mullah Omar’s commands and makes all military decisions, including how foreign fighters are deployed, according to Waheed Muzhta, a former Taliban Foreign Ministry official who lives in Kabul and follows the progress of the Taliban through his own research.

The Taliban even produce their own magazine, Al Somood, published online in Arabic, where details of their leadership structure can be found, he said.

But while the Taliban may be united politically, the insurgency remains poorly coordinated at operational and strategic levels, said Gen. David D. McKiernan, commander of the NATO force in Afghanistan.

Taliban forces cannot hold territory, and they cannot defeat NATO forces in a direct fight, other NATO officials say. They also note that scores of senior and midlevel Taliban commanders have been killed over the past year, weakening the insurgents, especially in the south.

Three senior members of the grand council were killed in 2007, and others have been detained, Mr. Muzhta said. The military council has lost 6 of its 29 members in recent years, he said. Despite their losses, however, the Taliban repeatedly express confidence that the United States and its allies will grow weary of a thankless war in a foreign land, withdraw and leave Afghanistan open for a return of the Taliban to power.

The Taliban say they need little in the way of arms or matériel. “The Taliban are now mounting a hit-and-run war against their enemies,” Mr. Mujahed, the spokesman, said. “It doesn’t need much money or weapons compared to what the foreign troops are spending.”

Even so, Western officials say the Taliban have a steady stream of financing from Afghanistan’s opium trade, as well as from traders, mosques, jihad organizations and sympathizers in the region, and Arab countries.

At the same time, Taliban leaders can still exploit their position as moral authorities — Taliban means religious students — which gives them overarching power over the various commanders, bandits, smugglers and insurgents fighting around Afghanistan.

That aura is increasingly terrifying. Known for their harsh rule when in power, the Taliban have turned even more ruthless out of power, and for the first time they have shown great cruelty even toward their fellow Pashtun tribesmen.

The Taliban have used terrorist tactics — which include beheadings, abductions, death threats and summary executions of people accused of being spies — as well as a skillful propaganda campaign, to make the insurgency seem more powerful and omnipresent than it really is.

“The increasing use of very public attacks has had a striking effect on morale far beyond the immediate victims,” the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit group that seeks to prevent and resolve deadly conflicts, said in a recent report.

Some of that brutality may be attributed to the growing influence of Al Qaeda, but much of it has by now taken root within the insurgents’ ranks.

After the American-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Al Qaeda and the Taliban both sought refuge in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which have since become a breeding ground where they and other foreign fighters have found common cause against the American forces in Afghanistan and have shared terrorist tactics and insurgent strategies.

Pakistan’s tribal areas along the border are now the main pool to recruit fighters for Afghanistan, General McKiernan said. Pakistani insurgent groups in the region — Pakistani Taliban — have also become a potent threat to the security and stability of Pakistan itself.

Jihad does not recognize borders, the Taliban like to say, and indeed much unites the Taliban on both sides of the border. They share a common Pashtun heritage, a longstanding disregard for the Afghan-Pakistani border drawn by the British and the goal of establishing a theocracy that would impose Islamic law, or Shariah.

In fact, the dispatches of the Pakistani Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, carry the symbol of the Islamic Emirate, the name the Afghan Taliban used for their government.

Mr. Mehsud and his cohort have sworn allegiance to the Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, as well as to Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former minister in the Taliban government who now commands Taliban forces in much of eastern Afghanistan.

Western military officials often describe Mr. Haqqani as running a distinct network with close links to Arab members of Al Qaeda, but he and his followers have also proclaimed allegiance to Mullah Omar.

Even Mr. bin Laden has paid tribute to Mullah Omar as Amir ul-Momineen, or Leader of the Faithful, the paramount religious leader.

To avoid jeopardizing their sanctuary or their hosts, however, the Taliban have always maintained the pretence that their leadership is based inside Afghanistan and that the insurgency is made up entirely of Afghans.

The two Afghan Taliban spokesmen, Mr. Mujahed and Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, who speak regularly by telephone to local journalists, never reveal their whereabouts. They profess sympathy for their Muslim brothers, the Pakistani Taliban, but deny that there is any joint leadership or unified strategy.

They also claim that the Afghan Taliban broke with Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11 attacks, which led to the fall of the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government dismisses those claims, however, and insists that the Taliban on both sides of the border are directed by Pakistani intelligence officials with the aim of destabilizing Afghanistan and maintaining some sway over their neighbor.

While the Pakistani government was one of the only supporters of the Taliban government when it was in power from 1996 to 2001, today the Pakistani authorities profess not to know the whereabouts of Mullah Omar or his colleagues.

But Afghan and NATO officials say the Taliban today operate much as the mujahedeen did in the 1980s, when they used Pakistan as their rear base, to drive out the Soviet Army, which had invaded Afghanistan.

Many members of President Hamid Karzai’s government, who were themselves mujahedeen, say the Taliban are even using some of the same contacts from 20 years ago, including a well-known trader in Quetta who handles logistics, housing and other supplies.

He was widely known to be the front man for the largest Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, according to one former mujahedeen commander who is now a senior official in the Afghan government.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesmen dismiss the idea of negotiations or power-sharing deals with the Afghan government, even though Afghan officials say that more Taliban members have made overtures to talk in recent months.

“We carried out the fight to oppose the invaders,” one of the Taliban spokesmen, Mr. Ahmadi, said. “Now they are on the brink of humiliation. That’s the aim of our fight.”

As the Fighting Swells in Afghanistan, So Does a Refugee Camp in Its Capital

KABUL, Afghanistan — On a piece of barren land on the western edge of this capital, a refugee camp is steadily swelling as families displaced by the heavy bombardment in southern Afghanistan arrive in batches.

The growing numbers reaching Kabul are a sign of the deepening of the conflict between NATO and American forces and the Taliban in the south and of the feeling among the population that there will be no end soon. Families who fled the fighting around their homes in Helmand Province one or two years ago and sought temporary shelter around two southern provincial capitals, Lashkar Gah and Kandahar, said they had moved to Kabul because of growing insecurity across the south.

“If there was security in the south, why would we come here?” said Abdullah Khan, 50, who lost his father, uncle and a female relative in the bombing of their home last year. “We will stay here, even for 10 years, until the bombardment ends.”

Sixty-one families from just one southern district — Kajaki, in northern Helmand Province — arrived in Kabul in late July. A representative for those families, Khair Muhammad, 27, said that a major jailbreak last month that freed hundreds of Taliban prisoners was the latest sign of the deteriorating security. “Do you know, the Taliban entered Kandahar city and broke into the prison?” he said. “Do you think that is security?”

The United Nations refugee agency has registered 450 families from Helmand Province at the camp — approximately 3,000 people. But that is only a part of the overall refugee picture. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people have been displaced by the insurgency in the south, but the numbers fluctuate as some have been able to return home when the fighting moves elsewhere.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned that the displaced who have reached the cities represent only the tip of the iceberg, and many others are trapped by violence in remote areas without assistance.

Many of the families who have arrived in Kabul have suffered traumatic losses and injuries, and they say that they are pessimistic about the future.

“The Taliban are getting stronger,” said Muhammad Younus, a farm worker who abandoned his village after his father, brother and uncle were killed in an airstrike two years ago. “There were armored vehicles on the hill and they were firing. There was a heavy bombardment, and planes bombed, too,” he said. “They did not differentiate between the guilty and not guilty.”

He, like many of the displaced people, complained that villagers found themselves trapped between Taliban fighters, who used the villages for cover to attack foreign forces, and NATO and American forces, which would often call in airstrikes on village compounds where civilians were living.

“We left our houses because we had no power to resist the Taliban or the government,” said Mr. Muhammad, the representative who brought families to Kabul from villages in Kajaki.

“Anytime the Taliban fired a shot from our houses, then the coalition, the government and the police came to the area and hit us.”

“The government comes and arrests us, and then the Taliban come and arrest us as well,” he said. “We are under the feet of two powers.”

As a civilian plane circled above the city, Mr. Muhammad and the crowd of men around him all looked nervously upward. “We are in trouble with these things,” he said, pointing at the plane. “There was fighting in the village a hundred times, roadside bombs, bombardment, firing and shooting.”

His strongest complaints were against the Taliban who, he said, had accused a relative of being a spy for the coalition forces and executed him. “I absolutely know he was not,” he said vehemently.

“The Taliban are coming during the night, with heavy weapons, riding on vehicles, and we cannot even dare ask them to leave, because if they see someone at night outside they will slaughter them and accuse them of being spies,” he said.

But the heavy reprisals by NATO and American forces was what drove them from their homes in the end, he and others said.

Khan Muhammad, 35, came with 40 people from his extended family three months ago after their village, Tajoi, near Kajaki, was bombed and his 4-year-old son, Umar Khan, was killed. “His mother was cooking, and he was lying beside her,” he said. “The whole village was destroyed, and after that we left.”

He said the villagers did not even see the Taliban but heard them fire as foreign troops were driving along the road outside the village.

“We don’t know from which side they fired, but we heard that,” he said. “Half an hour or an hour later they bombed.”

His father, Sher Ali Aqa, 75, was trapped under the rubble and his leg was shattered. Still unable to walk, he sat on a mat beside a makeshift tent.

“I blame the foreigners,” Mr. Muhammad said. “If the Taliban fire from over there, do you come and bomb this village?”

He added, “We only want a stable country, whether with the Taliban or the foreigners.” But he said that the level of violence made him realize that the foreign forces could not bring security.

That sentiment was echoed by many of the villagers, who said that the civilian deaths were particularly galling given the sophisticated technology of the coalition’s warplanes.

“If they kill, if they wound innocent people, we don’t want them,” said Tauz Khan, a man from the Sangin district who said he lost five members of his family in bombings last year. “If they build and bring peace we will accept them.”

His father, brother and a daughter were among those killed. “You cannot take revenge against a plane,” he said. “But I will not forgive the foreigners for this crime.”

HISTORY: South Korea Says U.S. Killed Hundreds of Civilians

August 3, 2008 NEW YORK TIMES
South Korea Says U.S. Killed Hundreds of Civilians
WOLMI ISLAND, South Korea — When American troops stormed this island more than half a century ago, it was a hive of Communist trenches and pillboxes. Now it is a park where children play and retirees stroll along a tree-shaded esplanade.

From a hilltop across a narrow channel, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, memorialized in bronze, appears to gaze down at the beaches of Inchon where his troops splashed ashore in September 1950, changing the course of the Korean War and making him a hero here.

In the port below, rows of cars, gleaming in the sun, wait to be shipped around the world — testimony to South Korea’s industrial might and a reminder of which side has triumphed economically since the conflict ended 55 years ago.

But inside a ragged tent at the entrance of the park, some aging South Koreans gather daily to draw attention to their side of the conflict, a story of carnage not mentioned in South Korea’s official histories or textbooks.

“When the napalm hit our village, many people were still sleeping in their homes,” said Lee Beom-ki, 76. “Those who survived the flames ran to the tidal flats. We were trying to show the American pilots that we were civilians. But they strafed us, women and children.”

Village residents say dozens of civilians were killed.

The attack, though not the civilian casualties, has been corroborated by declassified United States military documents recently reviewed by South Korean investigators. On Sept. 10, 1950, five days before the Inchon landing, according to the documents, 43 American warplanes swarmed over Wolmi, dropping 93 napalm canisters to “burn out” its eastern slope in an attempt to clear the way for American troops.

The documents and survivors’ stories persuaded a South Korean commission investigating long-suppressed allegations of wartime atrocities by Koreans and Americans to rule recently that the attack violated international conventions on war and to ask the country’s leaders to seek compensation from the United States.

The ruling was one of several by the government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in recent months that accused the United States military of using indiscriminate force on three separate occasions in 1950 and 1951 as troops struggled against Communists from the North and from China. The commission says at least 228 civilians, and perhaps hundreds more, were killed in the three attacks.

In one case, the commission said, at least 167 villagers, more than half of them women, were burned to death or asphyxiated in Tanyang, 87 miles southeast of Seoul, when American planes dropped napalm at the entrance of a cave filled with refugees.

“We should not ignore or conceal the deaths of unarmed civilians that resulted not from the mistakes of a few soldiers but from systematic aerial bombing and strafing,” said Kim Dong-choon, a senior commission official. “History teaches us that we need an alliance, but that alliance should be based on humanitarian principles.”

The South Korean government has not disclosed how it plans to follow up on the findings. And Maj. Stewart Upton, a Defense Department spokesman in Washington, said the Pentagon could not comment on the reports pending formal action by the South Korean government.

Under South Korea’s earlier authoritarian and staunchly anti-Communist governments, criticism of American actions in the war was taboo.

But after investigations showed that American soldiers killed South Korean civilians in air and ground attacks on the hamlet of No Gun Ri in 1950 — and after the United States acknowledged the deaths but refused to investigate other claims — a liberal government set up the fact-finding commission in 2005. More than 500 petitions, some describing the same actions, were filed to demand the investigation of allegations of mass killings by American troops, mostly in airstrikes.

The recent findings were the commission’s first against the United States, and it is unlikely that the commission has the time or resources to investigate many more before it is disbanded, as early as 2010.

Separately, the commission has also ruled that the South Korean government summarily executed thousands of political prisoners and killed many unarmed villagers during the war.

The Wolmi victims’ demands for recognition tap into complicated emotions underlying South Korea’s alliance with the United States.

“We thank the American troops for saving our country from Communism, for the peace and prosperity we have today,” said Han In-deuk, chairwoman of a Wolmi advocacy group. “Does that mean we have to shut up about what happened to our families?”

The airstrikes came during desperate times for the American forces and for the South Koreans they came to defend.

The war broke out in June 1950 with a Communist invasion from the north. In September, when the American military planned the landing at Inchon to relieve United Nations forces cornered in the southeastern tip of the peninsula, it decided it first had to neutralize Wolmi, which overlooks the channel that approaches the harbor.

“The mission was to saturate the area so thoroughly with napalm that all installations on that area would be burned,” Marine pilots said in one of their mission reports on Wolmi that were retrieved by the commission from the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States.

They also reported that no troops were seen, “but the flashes observed on the ground indicated the intensity of the fire to be accurate enough to destroy any about.”

The reports describe strafing on the beach but make no mention of civilian casualties.

The Inchon landing helped United Nations troops recapture Seoul and drive the North Koreans back. But the tide turned again when China entered the war.

The other two attacks the commission ruled on, in Tanyang and Sansong, south of Seoul, occurred as Communist forces barreled down the peninsula. As the allies fell back, they were attacked by guerrillas they could not easily distinguish from refugees.

Fearing enemy infiltration, American troops stopped refugees streaming down the roads and told them to return home or stay in the hills, or risk getting shot by allied troops. On Jan. 14, 1951, the Army’s X Corps under Maj. Gen. Edward M. Almond ordered the “methodical destruction of dwellings and other buildings forward of front lines which are, or susceptible of being, utilized by the enemy for shelter.” It recommended airstrikes.

“Excellent results” was how American pilots summarized their strikes at Sansong on Jan. 19, 1951.

The same day, however, one of General Almond’s subordinates, Brig. Gen. David G. Barr of the Seventh Infantry Division, wrote to General Almond that “methodical burning out poor farmers when no enemy is present is against the grain of U.S. soldiers.” At least 51 villagers, including 16 children, were killed in Sansong, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The attack on Tanyang followed the next day, when, survivors say, American planes dropped napalm near the entrance of the cave where refugees had sought shelter.

“When the napalm hit the entrance, the blast and smoke knocked out kerosene and castor-oil lamps we had in the cave,” Eom Han-won, then 15, said in an interview. “It was a pitch-black chaos — people shouting for each other, stampeding, choking. Some said we should crawl in deeper, covering our faces with wet cloth. Some said we should rush out through the blaze. Those who were not burned to death suffocated.”

Like Mr. Eom’s family, most of the people there were refugees who had been turned back at an American roadblock south of Tanyang, survivors said. In the days before the attack, the cave was packed with families. When the American warplanes flew in from the southwest, children were playing outside amid cattle and baggage.

That day, the Seventh Division’s operations logs noted that 13 planes attacked “enemy troops” and “pack animals and cave.” It reported “many casualties and got all animals.”

Mr. Eom, who rushed out of the cave into a hail of machine-gun fire from the planes but survived, said, “The Americans pushed us back toward the enemy area and then bombed us.” He said he lost 10 family members.

Shortly afterward, South Korea’s Second Division reported 34 civilians killed and 72 wounded at Sansong, but “no enemy casualties,” prompting the American military to open an investigation. The American investigators did not dispute the South Korean report but concluded that the airstrike was “amply justified.” They said that Sansong was considered an enemy haven and that its residents had been warned to evacuate.

The case appeared closed until several years ago, when, in the course of a Korean television reporter’s investigation, villagers acquired a copy of the American military’s wartime report and read that they had been told to evacuate. They insist, and the commission agreed, that this was not true. They say the village where North Korean troops were sighted was elsewhere and was never bombed.

Regarding the Wolmi attack, the commission said that while it recognized the need for the landing at Inchon, it could find “no evidence of efforts to limit civilian casualties.”

Wolmi survivors said the North Korean officers’ housing was about 1,000 feet away from their village. They say the American pilots, whose mission reports noted “visibility unlimited” and firing altitudes as low as 100 feet, should not have mistaken villagers, including many women and children, for the enemy.

They said the American troops later bulldozed their charred village to build a base.

“If you say these killings were not deliberate and were mistakes, how can you explain the fact that there were so many of these incidents?” asked Park Myung-lim, a historian at Yonsei University in Seoul.

The victims’ grievances found an outlet in 2005, when left-leaning civic groups tried to topple the MacArthur statue. But Wolmi survivors said they did not join the protest for fear they might be branded anti-American.

“We consider MacArthur a hero to our country, but no one can know the suffering our family endured,” said Chung Ji-eun, an Inchon cabdriver whose father died at Wolmi. “Both governments emphasize the alliance, but they never care about people like us who were sacrificed in the name of alliance.”