Show them no mercy



Show them no mercy
Whether it is a military operation, as is generally believed, or whether it is in retaliation of their ambush of a military convoy, as the Frontier's hyper information minister Mian Iftikhar would have it believed, whatever it is, this security operation against militants in Lower Dir must be carried to its logical conclusion. No mercy should be shown to them. They deserve it not; they should get it not. They are a scum of the earth, unquestionably diabolical evil minds calling for total decimation. A bomb in the toy these demons put in unsuspecting children's hands. And when it explodes, and those innocent children lose their lives and limbs, these thugs celebrate. It is the rope around their necks or a bullet in their heads or stoning to death that has to be their end, inexcusably and mercilessly. And yet that monstrosity deceptively called TNSM is rage; so is TTP, a brood of cold-blooded murderers and hatchery of soulless suicide bombers; and so are rightists, their comrades in faith competing with them toughly in religiosity. They all are clamouring this military operation being Swat accord's negation. But what were Swati thug Fazlullah's brigands' conquest of Buner and their intrusion of Dir? And their killing of government officials and civilians there, kidnapping of villagers and state functionaries, burning of homes and shops, and banning local residents from their legitimate businesses and occupations? The accord's abidance? These spiritual imposters' chicanery and their gun-totting touts' thuggery have gone too far. This has to be put paid to, with all the state might, and necessarily as there is too much of a sinister mystery to their evil act. From their plushy parlours, high minds are flooding newspaper pages with their scholarly dissertations on extremism in this country. Sitting in glittering television studios, the nation's leading intellectual lights spotlight a gory past, terming it the breeder of the monstrosity of terrorism blighting the nation nowadays so terribly. They think big; they talk big. And their sublime thinking, frankly, is beyond the comprehension of lowly minds like ours. We are a simple mind and have a simple question. From where do militant commanders get money and weapons, and in mounds, without which they cannot carry on their thuggish activities, without which their hired guns cannot carry out murderous errands, and without snapping this lethal lifeline of these professional murderers the state cannot hope to throw them out of their bloodletting business? After all, money and guns do not sprout in our mountains, nor do these grow on trees in our forests; these do not fall either from sky in these beastly murderers' laps. Surely, our own defence people wouldn't put guns in their hands to come and kill them? Their deadly arsenal's wellsprings obviously lay outside the country, which our state security apparatus definitely knows all about. Then why is this apparatus so shy of speaking it out? Visibly and indisputably, these thugs' almost sole focus is our own people. They kill and maim them in bomb blasts, suicide bombings and terrorist attacks. Not a day goes by without their fatal strike somewhere in the country. Yet, out there are criers, proclaiming noisily this country to be "global" terrorism's epicentre. The American, the Indians, the British and many others are raising this scream in chorus and hence with effect. So what supreme wisdom was it that impelled internal security czar Rehman Malik to disclose in-camera foreign involvement in our country? Wouldn't his open disclosure have unmasked many a face wearing piety's veil but being in reality an evil incarnate? After all, whose man is Fazlullah? Where did he disappear in Afghanistan, after abandoning thousands of Swati youths his charlatan father-in-law Sufi Mohammad had misled and assembled under his command to fight against the invading US-led coalition forces on the Afghan Taliban's side? And with whose munificence had he reappeared in 2004 in Swat laden with truckloads of cash and guns? And who had propped up on Waziristan landscape and from which obscure sanctuary an unknown nonentity Baitullah Mehsud about four years ago to intriguingly remain all through safe from unsparing American drone attacks? Just after Obama administration's mooted proposal for joint ground actions in our tribal region, this man, murderously targeting solely our own people with suicide attacks, promptly threatened America with a terrorist assault. Doesn't it ring a bell somewhere in Islamabad? When indeed will this Islamabad establishment tell our own people and the world at large publicly who is inciting and fuelling terrorism and insurgency in this country? Will it ever?
Saved from: http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News.aspx?ncat=ed&nid=43&ad=28-04-200
Dated: Tuesday, April 28, 2009, Jamadi-ul-Awwal 02, 1430 A.H.Whether it is a military operation, as is generally believed, or whether it is in retaliation of their ambush of a military convoy, as the Frontier's hyper information minister Mian Iftikhar would have it believed, whatever it is, this security operation against militants in Lower Dir must be carried to its logical conclusion. No mercy should be shown to them. They deserve it not; they should get it not. They are a scum of the earth, unquestionably diabolical evil minds calling for total decimation. A bomb in the toy these demons put in unsuspecting children's hands. And when it explodes, and those innocent children lose their lives and limbs, these thugs celebrate. It is the rope around their necks or a bullet in their heads or stoning to death that has to be their end, inexcusably and mercilessly. And yet that monstrosity deceptively called TNSM is rage; so is TTP, a brood of cold-blooded murderers and hatchery of soulless suicide bombers; and so are rightists, their comrades in faith competing with them toughly in religiosity. They all are clamouring this military operation being Swat accord's negation. But what were Swati thug Fazlullah's brigands' conquest of Buner and their intrusion of Dir? And their killing of government officials and civilians there, kidnapping of villagers and state functionaries, burning of homes and shops, and banning local residents from their legitimate businesses and occupations? The accord's abidance? These spiritual imposters' chicanery and their gun-totting touts' thuggery have gone too far. This has to be put paid to, with all the state might, and necessarily as there is too much of a sinister mystery to their evil act. From their plushy parlours, high minds are flooding newspaper pages with their scholarly dissertations on extremism in this country. Sitting in glittering television studios, the nation's leading intellectual lights spotlight a gory past, terming it the breeder of the monstrosity of terrorism blighting the nation nowadays so terribly. They think big; they talk big. And their sublime thinking, frankly, is beyond the comprehension of lowly minds like ours. We are a simple mind and have a simple question. From where do militant commanders get money and weapons, and in mounds, without which they cannot carry on their thuggish activities, without which their hired guns cannot carry out murderous errands, and without snapping this lethal lifeline of these professional murderers the state cannot hope to throw them out of their bloodletting business? After all, money and guns do not sprout in our mountains, nor do these grow on trees in our forests; these do not fall either from sky in these beastly murderers' laps. Surely, our own defence people wouldn't put guns in their hands to come and kill them? Their deadly arsenal's wellsprings obviously lay outside the country, which our state security apparatus definitely knows all about. Then why is this apparatus so shy of speaking it out? Visibly and indisputably, these thugs' almost sole focus is our own people. They kill and maim them in bomb blasts, suicide bombings and terrorist attacks. Not a day goes by without their fatal strike somewhere in the country. Yet, out there are criers, proclaiming noisily this country to be "global" terrorism's epicentre. The American, the Indians, the British and many others are raising this scream in chorus and hence with effect. So what supreme wisdom was it that impelled internal security czar Rehman Malik to disclose in-camera foreign involvement in our country? Wouldn't his open disclosure have unmasked many a face wearing piety's veil but being in reality an evil incarnate? After all, whose man is Fazlullah? Where did he disappear in Afghanistan, after abandoning thousands of Swati youths his charlatan father-in-law Sufi Mohammad had misled and assembled under his command to fight against the invading US-led coalition forces on the Afghan Taliban's side? And with whose munificence had he reappeared in 2004 in Swat laden with truckloads of cash and guns? And who had propped up on Waziristan landscape and from which obscure sanctuary an unknown nonentity Baitullah Mehsud about four years ago to intriguingly remain all through safe from unsparing American drone attacks? Just after Obama administration's mooted proposal for joint ground actions in our tribal region, this man, murderously targeting solely our own people with suicide attacks, promptly threatened America with a terrorist assault. Doesn't it ring a bell somewhere in Islamabad? When indeed will this Islamabad establishment tell our own people and the world at large publicly who is inciting and fuelling terrorism and insurgency in this country? Will it ever?
Saved from: http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News.aspx?ncat=ed&nid=43&ad=28-04-200
Dated: Tuesday, April 28, 2009, Jamadi-ul-Awwal 02, 1430 A.H.

Pakistan’s Self-Defeating Army


NEWSWEEK.com
Rather than serve as a bulwark against chaos, the Army has helped destabilize Pakistan. For far too long, the myth that Pakistan's army is the only thing holding the country together—and keeping the terrorists at bay—has held sway in Washington. Now two bills making their way through Congress suggest the United States is finally starting to reconsider these assumptions. Both bills would set benchmarks that Pakistan has to meet in order to keep qualifying for U.S. economic and military assistance. But the two measures don't go far enough. Pakistan will never be saved from the threat of religious extremists until it fundamentally restructures its deeply dysfunctional government. And that will require addressing the overwhelming influence of the military on Pakistani politics.

In four critical ways, the Army has undermined constitutional governance in Pakistan ever since Mohammed Ali Jinnah led it to independence some 60 years ago. First, repeated coups have ensured that civilian governments never developed firm roots. Second, successive military rulers, in attempts to boost their legitimacy, have promoted religious radicalism, either directly (as in the case of Zia ul Haq, who did this over the span of a decade) or by marginalizing mainstream political parties and allowing the religious right to fill the vacuum (Pervez Musharraf's strategy before his ouster last year). Third, the Army became and remains a parasite feeding on the body politic by extracting "rent" in the form of land, bureaucratic appointments and other spoils of office in exchange for supposedly keeping Pakistan safe.

Finally, in a misbegotten quest for "strategic depth" against India, the Army has promoted the radicalization of Afghanistan, which has now spilled back onto its own territory and spun out of control. All of these missteps point to the same conclusion: rather than serve as a bulwark against chaos, the Army has helped to destabilize Pakistan. There's only one way to turn things around today: demilitarize Pakistani politics.

Doing so won't be easy. While there is significant popular support for democracy in Pakistan, the country's mainstream civilian parties have hardly distinguished themselves in their brief periods at the helm, and the current government of Asif Ali Zardari is no exception. Still, the military bears most of the blame for blocking the evolution of a true democratic process. And such a process—for all its inevitable flaws and inefficiencies—is the only way Pakistan will ever get a government truly responsive to the needs of its ordinary citizens, and one likely to crack down on the Taliban, which most Pakistanis disdain.

So how can Pakistan's government be "civilianized"? Useful lessons can be drawn from the democratization of other Praetorian states. The first thing to recognize is that depoliticizing the Army won't mean weakening it. Pakistan's senior officers must know that they have never been less popular than they are today; returning to their barracks for good would be the best way to revive their prestige.

This process has in fact already begun. It was started by the Army itself in early 2008, when the new chief of staff General Ashfaq Kayani forbade officers from holding civilian posts in government. But much more needs to be done. Parliament and the prime minister must steadily assert themselves to limit the Army's involvement in internal affairs. The military will resist. But the recent victory of the lawyers' movement—which forced the government to restore the Supreme Court's former chief justice, who'd been deposed by Musharraf—shows that civilians can take on the generals and win. Over time, the civilian government must shift national-intelligence functions from the military to a civilian organization, curb the reach of the infamous Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) and strip the military of its responsibilities for maintaining security inside Pakistan, giving that duty to a paramilitary force governed by the ministry of Interior (as in neighboring India). Such a step was critical to the transitions from military to civilian government in Chile in 1990 and Indonesia in 1998.

Pakistan's nuclear infrastructure, meanwhile, should be split into military and civilian components, both under civilian authority. And most important, civilians must begin making critical national-security policy decisions. Implementation should still fall to the military, which should also retain a voice in defense policy—but not the final one.

While some of the generals are likely to object to any reduction in their powers, it's in their own interests to accept a fundamental change. Letting the Army maintain a degree of autonomy regarding its internal functions should also help bring it around. And Washington can contribute by demanding reforms of the sort outlined above. Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. has a great deal of leverage over Pakistan thanks to the enormous amounts of aid Washington disburses (likely to total $7.5 billion over the next five years). Making these changes may still seem like a tall order. It is. But Pakistan's problems at this point are massive in scope—and so must be the solution.

Basrur is associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Ganguly is a professor of political science and is director of research at the Center on American and Global Security at Indiana University.

Does Pakistan's Taliban Surge Raise a Nuclear Threat?


By Mark Thompson / Washington..TIME.COM
When asked last year about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen didn't hesitate: "I'm very comfortable that the nuclear weapons in Pakistan are secure," he said flatly. Asked the same question earlier this month, his answer had changed. "I'm reasonably comfortable," he said, "that the nuclear weapons are secure."

As America's top military officer, Mullen has traveled regularly to Pakistan — twice in just the past two weeks — for talks with his Pakistani counterpart, General Ashfaq Kayani, and others. And like all those who have risen to four-star rank, Mullen chooses his words with extreme care. Replacing "very comfortable" with "reasonably comfortable" is a decidedly discomforting signal of Washington's concern that no matter how well-guarded the nukes may be today, the chaos now enveloping Pakistan doesn't bode well for their status tomorrow or the day after.

The prospect of turmoil in Pakistan sends shivers up the spines of those U.S. officials charged with keeping tabs on foreign nuclear weapons. Pakistan is thought to possess about 100 — the U.S. isn't sure of the total, and may not know where all of them are. Still, if Pakistan collapses, the U.S. military is primed to enter the country and secure as many of those weapons as it can, according to U.S. officials.

The U.S. has been keeping a watchful eye on Pakistan's nukes since it first detonated a series of devices a decade ago. "Pakistan has taken important steps to safeguard its nuclear weapons, although vulnerabilities still exist," Army General Michael Maples, chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month. Then, he immediately turned to the threat posed by al-Qaeda, which, along with the Taliban, is sowing unrest in Pakistan. "Al-Qaeda continues efforts to acquire chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials," he said, "and would not hesitate to use such weapons if the group develops sufficient capabilities."

The concern in Washington is less that al-Qaeda or the Taliban would manage to actually seize Pakistan's nuclear weapons, but instead that increasingly-radicalized younger Pakistanis are finding their way into military and research circles where they may begin to play a growing role in the nation's nuclear-weapons program. Pakistani officials insist their personnel safeguards are stringent, but a sleeper cell could cause big trouble, U.S. officials say.

Nowhere in the world is the gap between would-be terror-martyrs and the nuclear weapons they crave as small as it is in Pakistan. Nor is their much comfort in the fact that Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal who was recently ordered freed from house arrest by the country's supreme court, was the Johnny Appleseed of nuclear proliferation, dispatching the atomic genie to Iran, Libya and North Korea. But U.S. and Pakistani officials insist it is important to separate Pakistan's poor proliferation record with what is, by all accounts, a modern and multilayered system designed to protect its nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands.

For starters, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials, there is no way a complete nuclear weapon can be plucked from Islamabad's stockpile, which is protected by about 10,000 of the Pakistani military's most elite troops. The guts of the nuclear warhead are kept separate from the rest of the device, and a nuclear detonation is impossible without both pieces. Additionally, the delivery vehicle — plane or missile — is also segregated from the warhead components.

Over the past decade, Pakistan has created the National Command Authority and the Strategic Plans Division to manage the nuclear infrastructure from day to day, and the U.S. has given Pakistan an estimated $100 million since 9/11 to bolster the security of its arsenal. While much of that has been spent on bringing Pakistani nuclear personnel to the U.S. for training, it has also been spent on hardware, including various surveillance and security systems.

Then, there's the touchy area of "permissive action links" — the electronic "locks" on nuclear weapons that must be "opened" for a nuclear detonation to take place. Washington doesn't share its own PALs with other countries for fear of losing control of the technology and surrendering key elements about U.S. weapons design (although installing PALs on another country's nukes — with a secret "kill" capability that could remotely render the weapons impotent — has always been a tempting option). "Permissive action links are custom-made devices based on the design and configuration of the weapons," former senior Pakistani nuclear official Naeem Salik told TIME 16 months ago. Until late 2005, he had served as director of arms control and disarmament affairs at Pakistan's National Command Authority, created in 1999 as the command and control center for Pakistan's nuclear weapons. "Unless one is willing to share the technical configuration of the weapon, a permissive action link cannot be developed. We did not share these secrets, so we never asked for the permissive action links — our people have developed our own."

That may all be well and good, Mullen seemed to suggest to NBC during a Wednesday interview in Afghanistan, just before he headed across the border to Islamabad. But, he cautioned, it may not be good enough, given the turmoil racking Pakistan. "My long-term worry," Mullen said, "is that descent — should it continue — gives us the worst possible outcome there."

Living in wonderland


EDITORIAL:Frontier Post
Is the prime minister living in the real world or in some wonderland, a world of his own make-believe? He says neither the government would permit state within state or parallel courts in the country. Goodness, can you beat it? Is he too ignorant to know or are the hideous ground realities too bitter for him to admit? Leave aside North and South Waziristan and a big chunk of the tribal areas? Leave aside whose writ runs there, the militants’ or the state’s? Hasn’t the ANP-led Frontier government with the Centre’s consent ceded state authority to Sultan Sufi Mohammad’s Malakand caliphate in these very days? Hasn’t it acquiesced to a parallel judicial system’s establishment in Malakand under that spiritual imposter and an unvarnished obscurant’s superintendence? Isn’t that charlatan braying loudly that it is he who alone will appoint Qazi courts’ judges and it is who will vet their judgements? And isn’t it that Swat is now under the rule of his son-in-law Fazlullah’s gun? And haven’t the state functionaries, including security personnel, to abide by the rules of movement laid out by that Swati thug or have to face the consequences, as indeed they have in many an instance? So who is the prime minister kidding and is dishing out such a churlish braggadocio with such a straight face without any inhibition or compunction and without batting even an eyelid? Dos he think our people are so nincompoops and dimwits that they would chew his boast, with no questions asked and with no eyebrow raised, that the government’s writ would be ensured at all costs? Aren’t they seeing with their own eyes the state’s writ shrinking and the militants’ expanding? After establishing their rule in Swat, the Swati thug’s gunmen have conquered Buner and entered into Shangla to bring it too under their sway. And yet the prime minister would have it believed that his government would not let its authority to be tampered with. What a laughable brag is this! There indeed is a terrible hiatus with the present lot of rulers, both at the centre and in the provinces. The non-issues they remain engrossed in; the real issues they just shrug off or give a short shrift to. And none seems to be really any alive at all to the enormity of the existential threat to this country being posed viciously by extremists, militants and terrorists at the behest of their foreign paymasters and masterminds. What needs to be dealt with by a very hard-boiled thinking, incisively farsighted policies, and exceptionally tough decisions and actions is being sought to be tackled playfully with empty sloganeering and foolish populism. On a platter, the ANP has handed over Swat to a spiritual swindler and his wicked son-in-law, and is now watching helplessly as his brigands are fanning out to the neighbouring districts from where, make no mistake about it, they will advance to other territories. And, appallingly, the inexplicably-vain prime minister’s government has as yet not even a strategy to withstand the onslaught of these advancing hordes of vile Fazlullah, nor has it a policy to counter extremism and terrorism, visibly ascendant all over the country. It is not just the tribal areas that are in the militancy’s tight grip; the Frontier province is in flames for the most part. Punjab, too, is coming under its vicious clouds. Karachi is precariously living in its shadows. And Balochistan is in a state of insurgency. Yet, the prime minister is behaving as if it is all hunky-dory throughout the country; and if at all there is a problem, it is mere pinpricks and minor irritants that could be dealt with routinely. He doesn’t give sense if at all he has any measure of the immensity of the existential threat staring the nation in the face. The people are aghast. They are despondent. Their sense of insecurity is spiralling sky-high. And they are feeling utterly hapless and helpless. And they have lost all hope, even in the military to protect them from the wicked terrorists’ and militants’ thuggery. Can you imagine citizens in a functional state asking the military not to intervene and let them to live under the militants’ thumbs, as are the residents of Buner and Shangla, fearing the army would fail to subdue the wild gunmen as it had in Swat, leaving them to face horrific consequences like their Swati cousins at the thugs’ vengeful hands? And yet the prime minister has the gumption to brag his government would come down heavy on the Swati thugs if they violate the ANP-pioneered accord with the devious Sufi. But when? Visibly, not only have they actually trashed that stupid accord in every manner, they are now making its use to spread out near and afar, too. The prime minister must understand critical gigantic issues like the existential threat the nation is presently confronted with cannot by unraveled by mumbling pious vows of “resolves” and “determinations”. They need powerful actions which can come about only by combining up the state’s civil and military powers under a no-nonsense policy and strategy. That should happen right now. Tomorrow will be too late. He must leave aside his pet Punjab project, for the time being. Instead, he must attend to the Pakistan project, in all earnestness.
Saved from: http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News.aspx?ncat=ed&nid=39&ad=25-04-200
Dated: Saturday, April 25, 2009, Rabi-us-Sani 28, 1430 A.H.

When will they wake up?


The Frontier Post(EDITORIAL)
For how long are the nation’s elites to keep living with silly charades and craps? For how many times has the president to keep harping that militants are using the cover of Islam to capture the government of Pakistan? Does he have a strategy or an action plan to frustrate their design or does he think that just by mumbling this mantra again and again he can defeat them? Now for more than a year his PPP is in rule; and as yet it is all prattle and vows, still having nothing concrete on its plate that could pass for even a semblance of strategy to combat terrorism or militancy. Only the other day, his anointed national security czar Rehman Malik was telling the senators that a national anti-terrorism policy was in the process of formulation. What is this? Why this leisureliness? For heaven’s sake, has nobody in Islamabad an idea of what a vicious monstrosity they are up against? Or, have they given to the thought of parcelling out the country to thuggish warlords to set up their fiefdoms, leaving their Islamabad throne alone for them to pose that it is they who hold the Pakistan government, not the militants? There indeed is a strange kind of pusillanimity, indeed stark craftiness, to these elites’ entire act that simply boggles the mind. Can anyone beat in jiggery-pokery ANP boss Asfandyar Wali Khan who felt no qualms in venting the braggadocio unashamedly that he would let no one disturb peace in Karachi? Has this gladiator wrested out his bastion of the Frontier province from militant brigades’ and criminal gangs’ clutches and made it all such a peaceful place that he felt not the slightest shame in flaunting this tall talk? Leave aside Swat, Buner or Dir, which he has surrendered to Sufi Muhammad’s Sultanate of Malakand and his commander-in-chief Fazlullah. Even the provincial metropolis of Peshawar is no more a peaceful place to live in. The people are fleeing out in droves, even selling their homes and properties at throwaway prices, to settle down in Islamabad and other safer places. But Asfandyar wouldn’t know this. He no more lives there; nor does he visit it. For militant thugs’ fear, he lives mostly outside the country, of which he has become a non-resident national virtually. It indeed is the time that the country’s elites become real, abandon their conceited talk, give up their pet charades and face up to hard realities. Their refrain of dialogue and political initiatives to give a stab to extremism is all right. But for their efficacy, right conditions have to be there. And those conditions can come about only if the state’s civil and military powers combine up to break the militants’ muscle power and wrench away from them their intimidation clout. The state should be in a position to lay down terms, not just be acquiescing, surrendering or retreating. A difficult task it is, no doubt; but that is how a creative and lasting reconciliation can come about. Otherwise, it could only be an agreement between the victor, the militants in this case, and the vanquished, the state in this case, as indeed it has been in Swat and as it was in North and South Waziristan. Way back in 1990s, Chandrika Kumaratunga, outgoing Sri Lankan president, had offered Tamil Tigers a devolution plan, which though short of outright independence was more than autonomy. But they rejected it out of hand. They were then in a triumphal mood. With massive financial and military support coming to them from Tamil diaspora and Indian Tamils and Indian RAW spy agency, they were militarily on ascendancy in the face of a badly bruised Sri Lankan military. They rebuffed her peace pleas disdainfully. But once she hit them hard with a renewed military campaign, they agreed a long ceasefire and also to talks, which couldn’t come to a mutually-acceptable denouement, though no lesser for her own reservations, but primarily for Tamil Tigers’ use of the interregnum only to rebuild their damaged military prowess. They now stand cornered in a narrow patch of their erstwhile northern bastion in a war they have almost lost; and if the island state’s government and its Sinhalese majority wisely let the civil power work humanely to suck the Tamil minority in the mainstream respectably, Sri Lanka may see peace that has eluded it for three decades. But when will our own elites wake up to combine up the state’s civil and military powers to face up to horrid realities on our national landscape, getting increasingly complex and intractable visibly?

The Pakistani dilemma



THE JERUSALEM POST
In the current era of ideological polarization, throughout the West, the Right and the Left diverge on almost every issue. One of the few convictions that still unifies national security strategists across the ideological spectrum is that it would be a global calamity of the first order if al-Qaida gets its hands on nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, due to the rapid demise of nuclear-armed Pakistan as a coherent political unit, this nightmare scenario is looking more possible than ever. Indeed, if events continue to move in their current direction, it is more likely than not that in the near future, the Taliban and al-Qaida will take possession of all or parts of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

This week has been yet another bad week in Pakistan. On Monday Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari officially surrendered the Swat Valley - an immense district in Northwest Pakistan that encompasses seven provinces - to the Taliban when he signed a regulation implementing Islamic Sharia law in the area. Following the government's capitulation in Swat, the Taliban now controls 18 out of Pakistan's 30 provinces in its northwest and Federally Administered Tribal Areas that border Afghanistan. Only two provinces remain under full government control.

With its new territory, the Taliban now controls the lives of some 6.5 million Pakistanis. For their part, the civilians live in a state of constant terror. Since the Taliban took control of Swat in February, executions, public floggings and bombings of girls' schools, restaurants, video and music stores have become routine occurrences. As a merchant in Swat's main village of Mingora told the Wall Street Journal, "We are frightened by this brutality. No one can dare to challenge them."

And with just 60 miles now separating the Taliban from the capital city of Islamabad, the Taliban are well positioned to continue their march across the country. Indeed, the Taliban appear unstoppable.

The Pakistani government, for its part, seems both unwilling and incapable of taking concerted action to destroy Taliban forces. Again according to the Wall Street Journal, Taliban fighters are flooding the Swat Valley with thousands of veteran fighters from Afghanistan and Kashmir and setting up training camps throughout the areas. Moreover, they are recruiting - both through intimidation and persuasion - still more thousands of locals to join their lines.

A further sign of government capitulation came on Tuesday when Pakistan's Supreme Court released Maulana Abdul Aziz, the leader of the Lal Masjid or Red Mosque in Islamabad, from house arrest. In 2007 Aziz used his al-Qaida/Taliban affiliated madrassa to incite an Islamist takeover of the Pakistani capital. It took then-president Pervez Musharraf three months to forcibly take over the Red Mosque. Arguably, Musharraf's actions against Aziz and his followers were the ultimate cause of his political downfall last year.

According to the online Long War Journal, over the past year, the government has signed capitulation agreements with all of Aziz's Taliban and al-Qaida allies and returned control of the mosque/madrassa complex to the jihadists. At the time of Aziz's attempted overthrow of the Musharraf government and since, the Red Mosque became emblematic of the jihadist war to take over the nuclear-armed state. Aziz's release in turn symbolizes the current government's willingness to surrender.

For their part, US strategists appear despondent in their assessments of the situation in Pakistan, and its impact on NATO's capacity to stabilize the security situation in neighboring Afghanistan. US Army General David Petreaus, who is responsible for the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has called the Taliban an "existential threat" to the Pakistani state. David Kilcullen, who advised Petreaus on his successful counter-insurgency campaign in Iraq and now advises the White House, warned last week that Pakistan could fall within six months. The growing consensus in Washington - particularly given the recent unification of command of Taliban forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan under the so-called Council of United Holy Warriors and their open collaboration with al-Qaida - is that Pakistan is a far greater danger than Afghanistan.

THE US'S assessment of the threats emanating from Pakistan and Afghanistan has been largely the same under both the Bush and Obama administrations. In both cases, the US has identified Taliban/al-Qaida acquisition of nuclear weapons as a primary threat to US security that must be prevented. Both have also asserted that the unimpeded operation of al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan/Pakistan is a grave threat to US and global security.

Then too, the US's strategy for contending with these challenges has been similarly focused for much of the past eight years. The US has sought to militarily and politically defeat the Taliban/al-Qaida in Afghanistan by fighting them on the battlefield and cultivating democracy. In Pakistan, the US has sought to defeat the Taliban by strengthening the Pakistani government, mainly through financial assistance to its civilian and military budgets.

In recent years, the US has also worked to decapitate the Taliban/al-Qaida leadership through targeted assassinations inside Pakistan carried out by unmanned aircraft. Under the Obama administration the US has declared its intention to maintain these strategies but expand them by increasing the number of soldiers in Afghanistan and by increasing its civilian assistance to the Pakistani government to $1.5 billion per year.

Unfortunately, the US's efforts in Pakistan to date have failed miserably and there is little cause to believe that expanding them will change the situation in any significant way. Both under Musharraf's military dictatorship and under Zardari's civilian government, the Pakistanis have failed to stem the Taliban's advance.

The Pakistani military and Inter-Service Intelligence agency (ISI) have refused to divert their resources away from fighting India and toward fighting the Taliban. They have refused to take any concerted action against terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, that openly operate on Pakistani soil. Against the wishes of the US, they have continued to surrender territory to the Taliban in the framework of "peace accords." And still today, the Pakistani government and military openly oppose US military action on Pakistani territory, preferring to allow the Taliban to take over the country to permitting the US to help the Pakistani military defeat them.

What the situation in Pakistan clearly exemplifies is the fact that sometimes there are no good options for contending with international security threats. Once Pakistan became a nuclear power in 1998, the US lost much of its ability to pressure the Pakistani government and military. Washington understood that if it pushed too hard, the Pakistanis could opt to abandon the West and collaborate with the Taliban and al-Qaida, which by then were not only openly operating from Pakistani territory after having taken over Afghanistan with Pakistani support two years earlier. They were also attacking US targets - including the 1998 attacks against the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

SINCE THE September 11 attacks demonstrated just how dangerous jihadists in Pakistan/Afghanistan are to global security, it has been clear that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is a primary threat to global security. For eight years, the US's chosen methods for staving off the threats have effectively served as little more than holding actions because Pakistan's governments have been both unable and unwilling to wage successful military or political campaigns against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Musharraf believed that he could play a double game of at once helping the US in Afghanistan and sheltering al-Qaida and the Taliban in Pakistan. The Zardari government, which exerts little control over the military and the ISI, has simply expanded and intensified Musharraf's policy of capitulating to the jihadists. Due to the Taliban's current control over the territories bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan is no longer in a position to support NATO operations in Afghanistan. And in the meantime, the advancing Taliban forces in Pakistan itself place Pakistan's nuclear weapons and materials in unprecedented jeopardy.

Given the failure of the US's political strategies of securing Pakistan's nuclear arsenal by supporting Pakistan's government, and fighting the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan, it is becoming apparent that the only sure way to prevent the Taliban/al-Qaida from taking control over Pakistan's nuclear weapons is to take those weapons out of commission.

The US has two basic options for accomplishing this goal. It can send in forces to take control of Pakistan's nuclear installations and remove its nuclear arsenal from the country. Or, it can destroy Pakistan's nuclear installations. Both of these options - which are really variations of the same option - are extremely unattractive. It is far from clear that the US military has the capacity to take over Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and it also unclear what the ultimate effect of a military strike against its nuclear arsenal would be in terms of lives lost and areas rendered uninhabitable due to nuclear fallout.

The only other option that is discussed by US strategists today is that India may serve as deux ex machina and destroy Pakistan's nuclear arsenal itself. Reasonably believing that India would be the first target for Pakistan's nuclear weapons - which Pakistan built in order to threaten India - US military strategists do not expect India to sit back and wait for the US to defend it against a Taliban/al-Qaida-ruled nuclear-armed Pakistan.

For India however, the calculation is not as clear as one might assume. New Delhi knows it can expect the US to support the imposition of various political and military sanctions against it if it were to attack Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Consequently, it is possible that Washington's unwillingness to make a tough but necessary call may mean that no one is willing to make it.

THE SITUATION in Pakistan of course is similar to the situation in Iran. There, as Iran moves swiftly towards the nuclear club, the US on the one hand refuses - as it does with Pakistan - to make the hard but essential decision to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. And on the other hand, it warns Israel daily that it opposes any independent Israeli operation to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed state. That is, the Obama administration is forcing Israel to weigh the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran against the threat of an abrogation of its strategic alliance with the US in the event that it prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear power on its own.

In both Pakistan and Iran, the clock is ticking. The US's reluctance to face up to the ugliness of the options at its disposal will not make them any prettier. Indeed, with each passing day the stark choice placed before America and its allies becomes ever more apparent. In both Pakistan and Iran, the choice is and will remain seeing the US and its allies taking swift and decisive action to neutralize nuclear programs that threaten global security, or seeing the world's worst actors successfully arm themselves with the world's most dangerous weapons.

The war on women rages on in Afghanistan






As the presidential election season arrived in Afghanistan, the incumbent Hamid Karzai sprang a nasty surprise on the country's Hazara Shiite women by signing on to a "rape law" that legitimizes non-consensual sex in wedlock. Designed to placate arch conservative Shiite clerics, the law compels women of this sect to "be bound to give a positive response" to the sexual desires of their husbands, illness being the only extenuation. It also legalizes child marriages of Shiite girls and restricts the freedom of the community's women to venture outdoors without "permission of the husband."

Thanks to the mobilization of Afghan activists and their supporters around the world, the Karzai government has now been forced to put the law on "hold." The reason Karzai could not scrap it altogether was fear that it would cost him Shiite votes in the coming elections. The consolidation of votes into different religious and sectarian "banks" whose keys are held by self-appointed custodians of morality (the class of mullahs) is not unique to Afghanistan, but it is a particularly sad commentary of a regime claiming to be fighting the Taliban's religious extremism going down the same path of Islamism for political expediency.

The rape law is not the first instance when Karzai traded the dignity of Afghan people on the question of gender equality with "peace" and "reconciliation" in the war-ridden country. In 2008, a 23-year-old student journalist Sayed Pervez Kambaksh was sentenced to death by a secret court of three mullahs in Balkh province for blasphemy. The charge against him was of circulating an essay on women's rights that questioned verses in the Quran. Kambaksh had merely downloaded the document from the Internet, but it was enough to enrage state-sanctioned clerics, who are no less brutal in their vision of an "Islamic society" than the Taliban.

When an international media campaign to free Kambaksh took off, Karzai promised that justice would be done "in the right way." Typical of the president's "ways," it was a parrying tactic. Kambaksh only managed to get his sentence commuted to 20 years of imprisonment. An appeal to the Afghan Supreme Court yielded no relief as it ruled against him without even hearing his defense. For a relatively new political and judicial system being built haphazardly since the overthrow of the Taliban in late 2001, Karzai could have intervened personally to free Kambaksh and set a bold secular precedent. But the "law" — codified to harass ordinary Afghans and perpetuate super suppression of women in the name of Islam — had to take its course because the regime was afraid of a backlash that strengthens the Taliban.

Even before the sadistic logic of electoral vote "banks" kicked in, Karzai had parceled out power and state patronage to zealous warlords who imposed a reign of sexual terror in their fiefdoms across the country. In 2005, the poetess Nadia Anjuman was beaten to death by her husband in Herat, courtesy the assurance of pro-Kabul warlords who guaranteed the man that he would never be prosecuted. Millions of Afghan women are being battered with no recourse due to the concordat between the Karzai government and the mullahs, which is seen as a bulwark against the cancerous Taliban. Karzai has often spoken about peace and negotiations with "moderate" Taliban to end the war, but his model of national reconciliation perpetuates the war against the women of Afghanistan.

A parallel horror against women is unfolding across the Durand Line in Pakistan, where the "secular" government of President Asif Ali Zardari has been colluding with mullahs and the Pakistani Taliban to brutalize women in Swat Valley. As a demonstration of how Shariah law practically works, a horrifying video has come to light in which Pakistani Taliban enforcers surround a teenage girl, pin her to the ground, and whip her ferociously. Her "crime" was to step out of home with a man who was not her relative.



When Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani ordered an immediate post-hoc inquiry to control the public-relations fiasco, an "Islamic judge" and a local state official prevailed upon the victim to deny the flogging. However, Muslim Khan, the local Pakistani Taliban leader, had no qualms in initially accepting that such incidents are routine in Swat and that it was "necessary" to punish the girl publicly to restore order.

Although the incident propelled thousands of Pakistani women to the streets outside Swat, many protesters had to cover their faces for fear of being identified and persecuted. So Islamized has the civil society in Pakistan become that counter-movements wedded to fundamentalist parties have also occupied public spaces to praise imposition of Shariah in Swat and vow proliferation of kangaroo courts manned by misogynist clerics all over the country. With the military and civilian establishments of Pakistan interdependent on the Pakistani Taliban, pathological forms of policing "misbehavior" of women are burgeoning.

The dictatorship of legalized rape and female servitude is being forced upon people in Pakistan and Afghanistan with the justification that it is prescribed under Shariah and is a prerequisite for "peace." The Bollywood film star Shahrukh Khan recently commented that there is an "Islam of Allah and the Islam of the mullah." In Pakistan and Afghanistan, though, the mullah has ensured that pampering him is the only pathway to Allah and peace. Pending a comprehensive defeat of "mullahcracy," irrespective of whether the U.S. military stays or exits from the region, the war on women will not cease.

Speaking Truth to Muslim Power



Obama does no favors to Islam by ignoring its internal debates.
By REUEL MARC GERECHT
wsj.com
The United States is not at war with Islam and will never be. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject."So spoke President Barack Hussein Obama in Turkey last week. Following in the footsteps of the Bush administration, Mr. Obama wants to avoid labeling our enemy in religious terms. References to "Islamic terrorism," "Islamic radicalism," or "Islamic extremism" aren't in his speeches. "Jihad," too, has been banished from the official lexicon.But if one visits the religious bookstores near Istanbul's Covered Bazaar, or mosque libraries of Turkish immigrants in Rotterdam, Brussels or Frankfurt, one can still find a cornucopia of radical Islamist literature. Go into the bookstores of Arab and Pakistani immigrant communities in Europe, or into the literary markets of the Arab world and the Indian subcontinent, and you'll find an even richer collection of militant Islamism.Al Qaeda is certainly not a mainstream Muslim group -- if it were, we would have had far more terrorist attacks since 9/11. But the ideology that produced al Qaeda isn't a rivulet in contemporary Muslim thought. It is a wide and deep river. The Obama administration does both Muslims and non-Muslims an enormous disservice by pretending otherwise.
Theologically, Muslims are neither fragile nor frivolous. They have not become suicide bombers because non-Muslims have said something unkind; they have not refrained from becoming holy warriors because Westerners avoided the word "Islamic" in describing Osama bin Laden and his allies. Having an American president who had a Muslim father, carries the name of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, and wants to engage the Muslim world in a spirit of "mutual respect" isn't a "game changer." This hypothesis trivializes Islamic history and the continuing appeal of religious militancy.Above all else, we need to understand clearly our enemies -- to try to understand them as they see themselves, and to see them as devout nonviolent Muslims do. To not talk about Islam when analyzing al Qaeda is like talking about the Crusades without mentioning Christianity. To devise a hearts-and-minds counterterrorist policy for the Islamic world without openly talking about faith is counterproductive. We -- the West -- are the unrivalled agent of change in the Middle East. Modern Islamic history -- including the Bush years -- ought to tell us that questions non-Muslims pose can provoke healthy discussions.The abolition of slavery, rights for religious minorities and women, free speech, or the very idea of civil society -- all of these did not advance without Western pressure and the enormous seductive power that Western values have for Muslims. Although Muslims in the Middle East have been talking about political reform since they were first exposed to Western ideas (and modern military might) in the 18th century, the discussion of individual liberty and equality has been more effective when Westerners have been intimately involved. The Middle East's brief but impressive "Liberal Age" grew from European imperialism and the unsustainable contradiction between the progressive ideals taught by the British and French -- the Egyptian press has never been as free as when the British ruled over the Nile valley -- and the inevitably illiberal and demeaning practices that come with foreign occupation.Although it is now politically incorrect to say so, George W. Bush's democratic rhetoric energized the discussion of representative government and human rights abroad. Democracy advocates and the anti-authoritarian voices in Arab lands have never been so hopeful as they were between 2002, when democracy promotion began to germinate within the White House, and 2006, when the administration gave up on people power in the Middle East (except in Iraq).
The issue of jihadism is little different. It's not a coincidence that the Muslim debate about holy war became most vivid after 9/11, when the U.S. struck back against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Many may have found Mr. Bush's brief use of the term "Islamofascism" to be offensive -- although it recalls well Abul Ala Maududi, a Pakistani founding father of modern Islamic radicalism, who openly admired European fascism as a violent, muscular ideology capable of mobilizing the masses. Yet Mr. Bush's flirtation with the term unquestionably pushed Muslim intellectuals to debate the legitimacy of its use and the cult of martyrdom that had -- and may still have -- a widespread grip on many among the faithful.When Sunni Arab Muslims viewed daily on satellite TV the horrors of the Sunni onslaught against the Iraqi Shiites, and then the vicious Shiite revenge against their former masters, the debate about jihadism, the historic Sunni-Shiite rivalry, and the American occupation intensified. Unfortunately, progress in the Middle East has usually happened when things have gotten ugly, and Muslims debate the mess.Iran's former president Mohammed Khatami, whom Bill Clinton unsuccessfully tried to engage, is a serious believer in the "dialogue of civilizations." In his books, Mr. Khatami does something very rare for an Iranian cleric: He admits that Western civilization can be morally superior to its Islamic counterpart, and that Muslims must borrow culturally as well as technologically from others. On the whole, however, he finds the West -- especially America -- to be an amoral slippery slope of sin. How should one talk to Mr. Khatami or to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the less curious but morally more earnest clerical overlord of Iran; or the Saudi royal family and their influential state-supported clergy, who still preach hatred of the West; or to the faithful of Pakistan, who are in the midst of an increasingly brutal, internecine religious struggle? Messrs. Khatami and Khamenei are flawlessly polite gentlemen. They do not, however, confuse civility with agreement. Neither should we.It's obviously not for non-Muslims to decide what Islam means. Only the faithful can decide whether Islam is a religion of peace or war (historically it has been both). Only the faithful can banish jihad as a beloved weapon against infidels and unbelief. Only Muslims can decide how they balance legislation by men and what the community -- or at least its legal guardians, the ulama -- has historically seen as divine commandments.Westerners can, however, ask probing questions and apply pressure when differing views threaten us. We may not choose to dispatch the U.S. Navy to protect women's rights, as the British once sent men-of-war to put down the Muslim slave trade, but we can underscore clearly our disdain for men who see "child brides" as something vouchsafed by the Almighty. There is probably no issue that angers militants more than women's rights. Advancing this cause in traditional Muslim societies caught in the merciless whirlwind of globalization isn't easy, but no effort is likely to bear more fruit in the long term than having American officials become public champions of women's rights in Muslim lands.Al Qaeda's Islamic radicalism isn't a blip -- a one-time outgrowth of the Soviet-Afghan war -- or a byproduct of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation. It's the most recent violent expression of the modernization of the Muslim Middle East. The West's great transformative century -- the 20th -- was soaked in blood. We should hope, pray, and do what we can to ensure that Islam's continuing embrace of modernity in the 21st century -- undoubtedly its pivotal era -- will not be similarly horrific.
We are fooling ourselves if we think we no longer have to be concerned about how Muslims talk among themselves. This is not an issue that we want to push the "reset" button on. Here, at least, George W. Bush didn't go nearly far enough.

Women, Extremism and Two Key States


EDITORIAL
NYT.COM
There have been two recent reminders of the cost of extremism. In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai signed a law that effectively sanctions marital rape. In Pakistan, a video surfaced of the Taliban in the Swat Valley publicly flogging a young woman screaming for mercy. Pakistan’s government compounded the indignity on Monday by giving in to Taliban demands and formally imposing Shariah law on the region.

Such behavior would be intolerable anywhere. But the United States is heavily invested in both countries, fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban and financing multibillion-dollar military and development programs. The cases represent an officially sanctioned brutality that violates American values and international human rights norms. They also sabotage chances of building stable healthy societies in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, particularly venal politics are at work. Mr. Karzai, whose popular support plummeted because of government ineptitude and corruption, is running for re-election in August. The new law, which affects family matters for the Shiite minority, seems a bald, particularly creepy, pander.

It says of Shiite women: Unless she is ill, “a wife is obliged to fulfill the sexual desires of her husband.” That is licensed coercion.

If let stand, we fear such rules — reminiscent of decrees issued when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s — could also have a negative impact on laws affecting the majority Sunni population. Instead of defending the law as he did, Mr. Karzai must ensure that it is rewritten to reflect principles of freedom and dignity for women.

In Pakistan, the video of the woman’s flogging proves the bankrupt nature of the army’s strategy. Failing to defeat the Taliban on the battlefield, the army tried to appease them with a peace deal in February. It ceded the insurgents control of Swat, 100 miles from Islamabad, and allowed free rein for their repressive ways. The woman was beaten after declining a Taliban fighter’s marriage proposal, the head of the Peshawar Bar Association told reporters.

After resisting for weeks, President Asif Ali Zardari capitulated to political pressure and signed a regulation formally imposing Islamic law on Swat as part of the peace deal. We seriously doubt this will bring peace, and it will certainly not make life better for Pakistani women. It is unlikely that Mr. Zardari’s wife — the slain former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto — would have ever consented to such a craven sellout.

The one encouraging sign came last week, when Pakistan’s recently reinstated chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, publicly rebuked the attorney general and other officials at a court hearing for inaction in the flogging case. We hope this was not just grandstanding and that he and his supporters will find a way to make as powerful a case for this victim’s rights as they did for Mr. Chaudhry’s return to the Supreme Court.

Many Pakistanis have wasted their time decrying the video as a conspiracy intended to defame Islam and Pakistan. They should be demanding that the army — Pakistan’s strongest and most functional institution — defend against an insurgency that increasingly threatens the state. Like their military and political leaders, Pakistan’s people are in a pernicious state of denial about where the real danger lies.

PAKISTAN:Journey to the brink



While much of Pakistan’s civil society celebrated a famous victory in the restoration of the judges it continued to display suicidal indifference to the existential threat to itself.President Zardari’s misjudgment and Mian Nawaz Sharif’s ambition brought welcome relief to the jihadi apparatus at the precise moment when the international noose around it appeared to be tightening. The road map to democratic transition was obscured, and the contours of the abyss became a little clearer. Extraordinary acts of leadership are needed. Unfortunately, it is not clear if they will be forthcoming or sufficient.Despite claims of national mobilisation, the long march was a PML-N show and mostly confined to north-central Punjab, a region accounting for a third of the population. Southern Punjab, the NWFP, Balochistan and Sindh were virtually absent and for parties representing voters in these regions the finer distinction between ‘reappointment’ and ‘restoration’ was not a priority in the face of worries such as state collapse and economic survival.The richer segment of the most powerful region had spoken and claimed to speak for the nation. Battle-hardened activists elsewhere were left wondering how long their own mass protests would have lasted before the hard state made an appearance. A minority, no matter how right, had bent the will of the majority’s representatives and jubilant cries of ‘national triumph’ simply rubbed salt in the wounds.This was no people’s revolution. Revolutions are about challenging power and they face real power – not policemen who melt away. Pakistan’s centre of de facto power – the military – was not mentioned except in admiring terms for its help. An elected civilian government reportedly at loggerheads with a recalcitrant military was the main target.In the meanwhile, the real revolution of the jihad variety kept up its march. PPP obituaries are premature, but the battering of the largest secular party with representation across the region cannot be good news. Some saw Sharif’s emergence as grounds for hope. His past connections with extremists and relations with Saudi Arabia and rightwing groups might be assets which could be used to tame the jihadi threat – if taming were possible.The bottom line is that political society collectively lost ground to other forces. The rise of Sharif at the expense of Zardari barely conceals the fact that Pakistan’s de facto centre of power had regained lost ground. The lawyers and the ‘restored’ judges too might feel that they have emerged as an autonomous power centre. But courts by their very nature are loath to challenging de facto power – their resistance to Musharraf was to his abuse of de jure authority.The ‘independent’ electronic media which earned worldwide fame for its post-Mumbai denial chorus emerged as another power centre. Whether the rightwing domination of the media is manufactured or genuine, the effect is the same. A minority opinion, if measured in terms of electoral arithmetic, is projected as the national view. This view is defensive about jihadi militancy, hostile to good relations with Afghanistan and India, and prickly about any discussion of nuclear proliferation – all the elements that led Pakistan to be labelled ‘the world’s migraine’.The long march changed the balance of power precisely at the moment when international focus on jihadi militancy sharpened. US officials said that segments of our military were still connected with the jihadis. This is what many Pakistanis suspected privately all along. Benazir Bhutto was among the few who broke the public silence when in her last book, ignored by many in her own party, she wrote about a jihadi virus infecting the top echelons of our establishment. For all his follies, Zardari, unlike many of his counterparts, is clear about the source of the threat. Meanwhile, unnoticed at home, the federal police won international accolades. The head of Interpol called the police work following Mumbai ‘no less than extraordinary’. He had special praise for Rehman Malik for pursuing leads against jihadi networks. Right or wrong, the same Malik was singled out for attack during the long march and its aftermath. His departure would signal a victory for those threatened by the antivirus – efforts at reforming our intelligence agencies and upgrading civilian-led ones.Despite statements of goodwill, it is unlikely that hostilities between Sharif and Zardari have ended. Sharif may persist with his prime ministerial ambitions – though he cannot prevail without the military’s tacit help. Zardari might continue to nurture his political insecurity, and get trapped into yet another defeat – this time on the issue of reducing presidential powers in the constitution. In a re-run of the 1990s the judges and the media will corner Zardari first before going after Sharif. Most importantly, the apparatus will succeed in stalling the re-orientation of security priority from India to jihadi militancy. Denial will get its own regime.But some things have changed since the 1990s. Political society has become further disarticulated, and as the long march itself proved, fragmentation along regional and ethnic lines is a harsh reality. Moreover, strategic theories that are used to justify keeping alive the jihad option have underestimated the determination of foreign powers this time round.
Retreat from the struggle against jihadi militancy will be fatal for civil and political society, but not without cost for the military either. Unwillingness to act will draw further intrusive responses from foreign powers. In the meanwhile, the social base of the ‘world’s migraine’ is now restricted to a specific region. As the state comes under pressure from external powers others will challenge this region’s claim to speak for ‘the nation’ and cut their own deals. This is what the abyss looks like.Stepping back from the brink will require extraordinary leadership on the part of political society – which unlike other power centres has at least some will and chance of succeeding. Zardari will have to trust his party more, and learn to live with the fact that Benazir’s unquestioned authority died with her. Sharif must understand that he cannot become prime minister without an ultimately suicidal Faustian bargain with the military. He could try to be really brave now and lead the right and north-central Punjab out of denial and into a consensus against jihadi militancy.This would be Plan A, and it is slipping away fast. For their own reasons foreign powers will pressure our leaders as well as the military to rethink their priorities. But foreigners will respond to their own domestic expediencies first and our needs second, which means that even if Plan A is still on, the time needed to see it through will run out sooner than we think.

Pakistanis fear resurgence of violence in Swat Valley




By Betsy Hiel
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- The Swat Valley's beleaguered people hoped a deal with extremists would restore peace to their mountainous region, once legendary with tourists as "the Switzerland of the East."Pakistani officials hoped that restoring Islamic law in the once-independent province would steal an issue from the Islamist insurgency, despite condemnation by U.S. officials.Yet the hard-line cleric who brokered the deal, Sufi Mohammed, has packed up and left the valley -- accusing the government of reneging on its promise -- and fear of warfare has returned.A "wave of apprehension has befallen Swat ... people see it as the first step towards the collapse of the deal and back to violence," says Adnan Aurangzeb, a former parliamentarian and grandson of Swat's last ruler when it remained a separate princely state in the 1960s.Swat, some 60 miles from this Pakistani capital, is just one of many burning issues in this nation of 170 million.The world's only Muslim nuclear power is a key U.S. ally against Islamist extremists. It suffers near-daily terrorist attacks in major cities; its army is battling al-Qaida and other Islamist militants along the border with Afghanistan.
A LEGACY OF BRUTALITY
Swat's deal with terrorists, like others before it, has been hotly debated here and in Washington.Sufi Mohammed negotiated it on behalf of militants led by his son-in-law, Maulana Fazlullah, whose Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Laws has brutalized Swat since 2007.Mohammed has his own extremist legacy: In 2001 he led 10,000 fighters against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Most of his followers were killed, and he was imprisoned when he returned to Pakistan; he was released in 2008.
Fazlullah's 2,000-strong insurgency attacked military convoys, killed local police, torched girls' schools and seized a highly profitable emerald mine. It beheaded many of its foes in village after village, to enforce "Islamic" rule.The militants initially played on public desire for the "swift justice" of Islamic law that ruled Swat as an independent state, Aurangzeb explains."Two months ago, they announced a list of 47 people," a Swat businessman says, declining to give his name for fear of retaliation. "They said, 'Wherever we find them, we will behead them and their relatives.' Today, one person on that list is alive."People are very scared. They are afraid to speak."When Pakistan's army counter-attacked and cleared Fazlullah's force from the valley in 2007, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, a commander in the military-garrison city of Rawalpindi, says, "The public was overwhelmingly supporting us."A truce and Pakistan's parliamentary elections in 2008 allowed the militants to regroup."The first thing they did was target all those who had supported the military," Abbas recalls. A third of the region's 1.5 million residents fled.
'BATTLEGROUND FOR JIHADISTS'
"Swat has become the new battleground for the jihadists from all over the country," says Zahid Hussain, author of "Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam." Foreign fighters and militants from Beitullah Mehsud's insurgency in Waziristan, another Pakistani tribal area, joined Fazlullah.Local people who cooperated with Pakistani troops "were killed ... nobody came to protect their lives," says Hussain. "That is basically the reason why the militants have been able to control the area -- it is the failure of the state."Pakistani officials say they agreed to the latest deal in order to end the bloodshed and to wean the populace from the militants.Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, in an exclusive interview with the Tribune-Review, said the agreement recognized Swat's historic independence and tradition of Islamic law, and was predicated on the insurgency ending."If peace is restored, we have no objections," he said from his Islamabad home. "... This should not be taken as a surrender."Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari had not yet signed the provision on Islamic law -- which Sufi Mohammed condemned as a bad-faith sign. But Islamic judges had set up courts in Swat and an uneasy semblance of normal life had returned, according to locals.But a recent video of Pakistani Taliban flogging a screaming young woman for being in the company of a man caused an outcry in Islamabad; the country's Supreme Court called for an investigation, and newspapers condemned the flogging as barbaric.
'WE ARE IN A BLACK HOLE NOW'
Analysts such as Hussain think any agreement with militants is a government surrender."They virtually have now an area where they have established Taliban rule," the investigative author says. "And it is going to have far-reaching effect, because that has emboldened the militants operating in other parts of Northwestern Pakistan."
Former interior minister Lt. Gen. Hamid Nawaz Khan told Pakistani reporters he fears more extremists will shift from the Afghan-Pakistan border to Swat, making it "the biggest safe haven for al-Qaida and the Taliban."Aurangzeb, whose grandfather once ruled Swat, suspects U.S. pressure stopped President Zardari from signing the Islamic-law regulation, which he describes as "basically toothless" and unlike the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan.But "Zardari is expected to head a progressive, liberal and secular party," he contends, and Islamic law "is a negation of the manifesto of (his) Pakistan Peoples Party, and he cannot become a party to it."So he will back out (of the deal), and the Taliban will say, 'Look -- we told you so.' And they will (enforce) their brand of shariah" -- Islamic law -- "by ... the barrel of a gun."
The region's people are bracing for the worst.
"We are in a black hole now and do know which direction we will come out of it," Aurangzeb says. "But the signs don't look good, and then what credibility does the government have left?"

After Karl Marx, another view of history




After Karl Marx, another view of history
07.04.2009 Source: Pravda.Ru URL: http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/107365-After_Karl_Marx-0

By Cage Innoye

Two peoples are at war today in a very interesting and symbolic conflict -- Afghanistan and America, a very tribal culture vs. the most advanced culture on the planet, one culture near the beginning, one very far away. This raises some interesting questions about history.

Karl Marx gave us a perspective on history focusing on class struggle. It was called ‘historical materialism’. Here is offered another thesis that is based on the principle of ‘differentiation’. In the cosmos all things differentiate over time, they become more diverse, more individual, more particular over time. This is a long-term process in the world too, call it ‘historical differentiation’.

In this view, class struggle is incorporated as one type of ‘differentiation’ though it is modified here. The general notion addresses not only classes but all forms of inequality – gender, race and more. The thesis also appends the class issue with problems in the formation of individuality. It addresses the rise of social institutions, the rise of complexity in society, and the war of institutions. It addresses the consequent war of minds within the brain. It addresses the appearance of false ideologies and delusions like consumerism and more.

What is the fundamental theme of history? It is the same as the whole cosmos! It is differentiation -- the creation of difference, individuality, particularity, complexity. Humans are no different than over living organisms or inanimate things. This force produces galaxies, planets, living things, humans, human minds and human society.

This differentiation must begin somewhere. For the cosmos it begins, at least as far we can trace it now, in the Subsume of a singularity and then the ‘big bang’. A Subsume is an origin point where all things are fused and confused, and all future things exist in potential. At some point, there was an earth Subsume for nascent life, though we don’t know yet what it was and when, but it ‘elaborated’ outward into many species and an ecosystem. Then human Subsumes appeared in evolution too. For the purposes here concerning modern history, we begin in another Subsume -- that of the tribal village long before the rise of ‘civilization’.

The village splits into parts, differentiation causes this. Class groups arise at a certain point, classes of all sorts, inequality appears. Institutions arise -- church, economy, government, science and technology, education, art, theatre etc. Affluence, specialization and organization propel this process.

Individuality arises as people become more aware of their unique identity and inner powers. In addition, they are disconnected from the new state; they are now alienated and alone. They either accept the new situation or they band together into new religions of connection or they rebel.

The mind also differentiates; where all was once fused, now a split begins, then comes minds of logic-science vs. spirit vs. subconscious vs. the mind of doing vs. emotions vs. wisdom vs. creativity. All once mixed in a whole mind, all interconnected, now it is shattered; people choose which house to live in and champion it.

Old tribal perspectives are gone. Economics that was supposed to help the whole tribe has vanished, classes get rich. Education that was supposed to be about life has been replaced by new curriculums. A priest replaces the old shaman; religion is removed from community and daily issues of life. Feelings of tribal brotherhood are gone. Intimate connection to Nature is gone. Ancestor religion is gone; no more connection to your family, immortality is redefined. The dreamtime is gone.

New ideologies arise, new religions, emperor worship; in modern times comes consumerism and philosophies of self absorption.

After the tribe, war is everywhere. The war of individuals, war of social classes, institutional war, mental war, and ideologies justifying this war all appear together.

All this happens because of differentiation. But this is a very bad kind of differentiation, not a good kind. This process leads to break up, alienation, conflict, exploitation, manipulation and elitism.

This then leads to some groups abusing other groups or the majority, the ‘people’. Or it leads to neglect of some groups or most groups by elite and controlling people.

This process began thousands of years ago. It first produced city states all over the planet. In the West, this process has been most extreme and most advanced. But by ‘advanced’ it is not meant ‘healthy’.

This break up of the original tribal subsume did not have to happen, it did so because we were ignorant of the process and its consequences. This ‘negative differentiation’ or ‘negative elaboration’ has dominated for some time. Yes, good things have happened too within all of this. Discoveries, inventions, industry and sciences, but much of this came as a super-focus or even obsession -- because some ideology, class or institution ruled and promoted its biased view of the world and one human need against all other.

The ancient Greeks were not like us at all though we like to pretend they were. In China and the East the negative differentiation did not go so far. One can argue that other cultures went in the extreme direction of the religious or imperial. And this is true but the West has outdone them in shear excess.

In Europe there was rise of science, technology and capitalism. England was most advanced in this process however its cousin, America, outdid it. The USA is the most advanced in this kind of destructive elaboration about money, extreme individuality, alienation, consumerism, culture and mind wars, technology obsession and blindness to the environment. America has pioneered its unique form of negative differentiation. At the same time, in the USA are seeds of an escape from this law of history, from this negative process into a healthy differentiation.

The USA beat its competitor the Soviet Union and won. And we must note something about Russia: The socialist revolution in Russia took place precisely because of a proximity to the tribe. Russia was not Western Europe, workers came from communal villages; they spontaneously created the Soviets, the worker’s councils, for self-administration.

Eventually, communism of course undermined the Soviets but the point is that communism was a reaction to history, not history itself. Communism arose as an antidote, partly seeing the process, partly ignorant of so much more of the process. It did not recognize the whole process about evolving individuality, all realms of the mind, all forms of elitism and inequality, the diversity of all institutions.

Terrible abuse and neglect happened in communism too, though its original intentions were to escape this horrible historical progression. It fell. America was able to push further recklessly down its road; in 17 years America accomplished in 2008 a breakdown. The locomotive of the great train of history is off the tracks now.

Offered here is another way of looking at history -- a history of differentiation and elaboration that did not have to be, but occurred because of ignorance, power and wealth.

Where are we then in this long human evolution? In the USA, the program should be to accept individuality as a historical process but promote healthy individuality and limit alienation and selfishness. Individuality should be appended with social activism, caring and building new institutions. Principles and ideals are key -- when your new world does not exist, you need ideas first to drive you to create it. The tribal person did not need ideals of community because the connection was there, they lived it everyday.

Social institutions, principally, business and the economy should not be allowed to control or destroy other institutions like education, government, healthcare and more. Democracy should include a diversity of institutions that should work together. We should promote equality and help the victims of poverty. Negative psychologies and ideologies that come from consumerism and entertainment should be abandoned. And we should change the way we use our brains, we must use all our brains, and learn how to manage our complex minds and emotions.

The general themes here are balance, connection and the whole. Complexity is good, individualization is good, creative development of new things is good, technological advance is good. As long as we stay connected, in balance, and as wholes, this is all very good. We cannot stop evolution and creativity, and we should not try. These are fundamental forces in the cosmos, in Nature, in humans, in society, in our minds. But there are consequences and vigilance is needed.

These are the lessons of the history of differentiation. For human beings the process must be conscious. From a tribal subsume comes elaboration. In our minds we often return to tribal subsumes, we mourn the loss of the days when we were all one, for the current world vexes us. We seek the ‘ideal’ time or ‘dreamtime’.

People right behind the USA in evolution should take pause, make a course correction.

Those further back are closer to the tribal subsume; they may be in the best position. They can avoid the suffering that we know as daily life. They may be in the most creative situation.

Cage Innoye is an American writer. You can contact him at his blog, or at his email. His is working on his upcoming book, “The Axxiad”.

TEEN AGE GIRL FLOGGED....STATE OF DENIAL




M Waqar
Today I congratulate everyone because Gen Zia’a dream has been fulfilled as a teenaged girl was flogged in Swat. Also let me congratulate, Imran Khan, the Jama’at-e-Islami leadership, Lt-Gen Hameed Gul, the ANP government in the NWFP, the majority of Urdu-language columnists, some English ones too as they support making deals with Taliban. Video of a young girl being flogged as ‘punishment’ by the Taliban in Swat has shocked everyone in the civilized World. It is shameful that religious parties appeared reluctant to openly condemn the case of lashing of a 17-year-old girl in Swat while not giving any clear statement regarding the unfortunate incident. What a shameful act these so-called Taliban did. I am also proud of those men who were watching this innocent helpless victim of atrocity, watching the spectacle mutely either in approval or dumbfounded and afraid of uttering a word against it lest it be termed as anti-Islam and they themselves were meted out the same treatment. Hearing that poor girl's cries grown up men stood and watched her being beaten just makes me sick to the stomach. What a message we are sending to the civilized World. Zardari "condemns" (words are cheap); PM "demands" punishment (OK, lets wait and see); CJ uses suo moto to demand girl be produced before court. (OK, lets wait and see). Jamaat-e-Islami says this is a "minor matter" and people should focus on drone attacks by the US (thus demonstrating their hypocrisy and savagery). This was one of the barbaric acts of Taliban, so far we knew that they hang dead bodies to tress but now we have learned that in the past women were punished like this inside rooms. The videotape shown on television and displayed on websites wasn't the only time that a woman was publicly canned by the Taliban. However, no videotape of the other incident, which took place on Oct 20, 2008, is available in which a woman and her father-in-law were flogged in Ser-Taligram village near Manglawar in Charbagh tehsil. It is also sad to read some people's comments who are living in denial. Those who have a serious doubt as immediately after the whipping the "victim" got up and walked away without a limp." Any sane person would laugh at this nonsense if the situation weren’t so dire. If the video was fake, then why did the Taliban accept responsibility and claim they had done the right thing? Everything is a conspiracy to those who are in state of denial. They have lost ability to think, reason and to be logical. Speaking from psychological point of view that innocent girl must be so embarrassed that she did not want to be there, that’s why she got up fast. Those who are living in denial expect from this girl to say thanks to those Taliban and had offered them flowers, that’s what anyone who is denying this incident expects from that girl. That poor girl must have been in agony and I wonder what happened to her once they took her away. Those who are living in denial, those who think this incident was fake, remember Taliban would publicly whip your sisters, mothers, daughters and wives and when you will get out of your state of denial, it will be too late. It is also unfortunate that ANP leadership has abandoned its own people to the Taliban by making deals with them. No one can give justification for such an act. These handful of people have taken the population hostage, and the government is trying to patronize them. If the state surrenders, what will happen next? Those who are thinking that this video is fake should read writing on the wall. It was indeed like a lash on the faces of the chief minister of NWFP, the prime minister, the president, the legislators and most importantly, on the faces of every civilized Pakistani and Pukhtun . Its also true that the monster of terrorism is indeed on the prowl, unhindered and unchecked, targeting at will whatever and whoever it wants. It is obvious that the state has been unable and unwilling to address the threat posed by Al Qaeda and the Taliban. For the most part, the religious lot of the country has quietly and not so quietly supported the terrorists. The people of Pukhtunkhwa have been held hostage by Taliban, Pukhtuns' land is burning. What Taliban are doing is plain barbarism. When a religion is taken over by militants and zealots this is what you get.

Rehman Malik must quit..........

The Frontier Post
Editorial
Interior security czar Rehman Malik says money and arms are coming to extremists from across the border. This indeed he has said again and again over the time. But every time he shies away religiously from being specific. He dodges telling who is or who are funneling these deadly supplies to terrorist to kill and main our people and terrorise them. Is it because the fact is too difficult for him to tell? After all, if murderous stuff is coming to them from Afghan Taliban, Rehman would be the first to cry out and shrilly. Haven't he been accusing Baitullah Mehsud of almost every terrorist act and suicide bombing, horrifically taking place in one part or the other of the country almost every day, exacting a huge toll on our hapless people. And he may be right. That thug has himself owned up many such bloody strikes in the past as also in these times. But the question is who is keeping him supplied intermittently with bundles of cash and mounds of sophisticated weapons. The thug is running no mint mills and no arms factory; nor does he own a diamond mine to bankroll his terrorist activities. Years ago, Taliban leader Mullah Omar had expelled him from his Shura council for fighting the Pakistan army instead of the coalition forces in Afghanistan. Then who has been shipping him wades of dollars to buy recruits and suicide bombers, and truckloads of sophisticated weapons to fight pitched battles with Pakistan security forces? Rehman says suicide bombers are from one to all Pakistani nationals. He may be right. He may also be right that suicide bombers are now free lancers, ready to kill themselves and kill others for a price, with the going rate running between Rs. 500,000 and 1,500,000. But who are the buyers of their "services" and wherefrom do those customers themselves get the money? After all, Baitullahs, Fazlullahs and the thugs of their ilk are no billionaires; nor are all those vile lashkars, jaishes and siphas self-financing murder shops. Yet, they demonstrate no stringency of money or arms. They appear richly flush with both, indeed brandishing even weapons and equipment not in possession of even the state security forces. Being the internal security boss, Rehman must be privy to the sources of their generous funding and lethal arms supplies. Yet, he keeps unbrokenly mum on it. Why? And why so intriguingly has he long stopped identifying foreign hand he alludes to even now so often of involvement in militancy here? Hadn't he spoken more than once of the Indians instigating and fueling insurgency in Balochistan? But that was long time ago. He now talks no more of it. Have the Indians terminated their wickedness or has he been ticked off by some powerful ghost not to talk of it? Rehman indeed is a big mystery, hard to crack. Not that he alone is a jigsaw puzzle to comprehend; so is his many a colleague in the federal cabinet, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, as for one. Since ages, this Pakistani top diplomat has been saying that the Americans and the NATO have understood Pakistan's position that foreign operations in its territory are unacceptable and that they have accepted its stance. Yet, there has been no decline in American drone attacks in our tribal areas. Rather, there has been an evident surge in these assaults under the Obama administration, which is threatening to extend them to our settled areas and Balochistan too. Even the military establishment seems having fallen in love for being demonised. Uncontested, it has let go the Americans with public charge that elements of the ISI and the military are hand in glove with Taliban. And unchallenged it is letting them pass around their ruse that our tribal areas have become al-Qaeda's and Taliban's safe havens, even as huge areas, almost 70 percent, of Afghanistan are palpably under Taliban's sway, with district after district in their administrative control. But, all said and done, combating extremism and terrorism at home is Rehman's charge. And he has demonstrated conclusively he is not up to the job. He may be unfit for inherent ineptitude. And if it is for some institutional constraints, it is all the more imperative that he must go. Quit he must at any rate, making way for someone with proven acumen and commanding trust all around. Rehman Malik is not the man to face up to upcoming storm, predictably to be leashed in raging fury for Pakistan by Obama's new strategy for fighting terrorism.
Saved from: http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News.aspx?ncat=ed&nid=3&ad=07-04-200
Dated: Tuesday, April 07, 2009, Rabi-us-Sani 10, 1430 A.H.