How Pakistan lost its East: the Bangladesh Saga – (The News International) By Naseer Memon

Bangladesh remembers (Credit:
Bangladesh remembers

December dusts searing past to remind a reality that was preposterously denied for a quarter century and was recognized only after leaving an indelible trail of blood. While creation of Bangladesh entails a petrifying human catastrophe and an everlasting reference to state-perpetrated fratricide, it also trivialised a waffle narrative of Islamic-nationhood.

The episode reiterated that a multi-nation federation can only exist with socio-political justice, absence of which derides all ideological conjectures. Creation of Bangladesh reinforced the fact that Pakistan was not a creation of any Islamic ideology but was in fact a derivative of an ominous political alienation of Muslims in India. For Bengalis, Pakistan turned out to be a mere perpetuation of the same alienation. Flippant negation of their culture, abominable economic exploitation and brazen denial of their right to rule culminated into the birth of Bangladesh on December 16, 1971.

Undeniably, the social fabric and political configuration of East and West Pakistan were diametrically opposite to each other. While West Pakistani politics and society was yanked by a myopic feudal oligarchy, East Pakistan inherited a much refined middle-class lead socio-political ambiance. After 1857 insurgency, Bengal became the first province under British democracy. It was the first regulation province of India under the jurisdiction of a high court. Society and politics in Bengal was erected on starkly different building blocks and it did not chime-in with the other provinces of Pakistan where British rule clamped typical colonial structures.Snobbish civil and military leadership grossly underestimated the powder keg of East Pakistan that left deep scars of embarrassment in the national history. While language and culture are central to most of the ethno-national movements, economic and political marginalisation are key triggers to stoke irreversible hatred.

Landed aristocracy that shaped today’s Pakistan was trounced in Bengal in 1950 with the introduction of “East Bengal Estate Acquisition and Tenancy Act”. It effectively routed the landlordism in Bengal by fixing individual holding at only 3.3 acres per head or 33.3 acres of land per family whichever was less. Agriculture census of 1963-64 shows that out of 6.2 million farms some 6 million were of less than 12.5 acres size and 50 per cent of them were only 2.5 acres or less.

On the contrary, West Pakistan was marked by large landholdings specially in Punjab and Sindh provinces. For example, 30 per cent of the land in Sindh in 1952 was owned by only one per cent of the owners and the average holding was above 500 acres. In Punjab, 50 per cent of the land was under the control of Zamindars. This sufficiently indicates the distinct social and political milieu of the two wings. Since West Pakistan held hegemony over the decision making, the vibrant middle class-led East Pakistan often loathed the policies manufactured and imposed by the landed aristocracy of West Pakistan.

Resource hemorrhage and discrimination in pecuniary matters against East Pakistan was the key cause of conflict. In 1948-50 when East Pakistan had a net balance of payment surplus of Rs622 million, West Pakistan had a net deficit of Rs912 million. Similarly, the foreign and inter-wing trade balance of the two wings from 1949-50 to 1957-58 shows East Pakistan having a surplus of Rs3,636 million as balance of trade with foreign countries against the net deficit of Rs3,047 million of West Pakistan on the same account. The trend remained consistent during the first and second five years plans when East Pakistan had net surplus and West Pakistan had net deficit in foreign trade and the surplus of East Pakistan was used to offset the deficit. This prompted Shaikh Mujib to demand for two separate currencies for the two wings under his popular six-point formula.

Conflict on resource sharing could have been assuaged had avaricious establishment of West Pakistan maintained a judicious balance in benefit sharing. What irked Bengalis was relentless discrimination in development opportunities. For example, GDP growth in East Pakistan during the period was 2.2 per cent against the heavily skewed 3.1 per cent of West Pakistan. During the same period per capita income in East Pakistan dwindled to -0.1 per cent against +0.8 per cent increase in the West Pakistan. Likewise during five years from 1954-55 to 1959-60, GDP growth in East Pakistan was only 1.6 per cent i.e. half of the West Pakistan’s 3.2 per cent. Per capita income in East Pakistan plummeted to -0.7 per cent against +1.2 per cent in the West Pakistan.

East Pakistan having almost 54 per cent population was also discriminated in public sector development. During the first five year plan, total revenue expenditure in East Pakistan was Rs2,540 million which was less than one third of the Rs8,980 of the West Pakistan. It was marginally jacked-up in the second five-year plan from 1960-61 to 1964-65 when East Pakistan received Rs6,254 million under public sector development programme against Rs7,696 million of the West Pakistan, yet it was still 19 per cent less.

Not only that East Pakistan was kept economically deprived and politically suppressed, it was also under represented in the state structure. Share of Bengalis in senior level civil services was also flagrantly violated. During the first five years of the country, senior cadres of several departments were completely bereft of Bengalis. There were no Bengalis on any senior positions in the Departments of Commerce, Intelligence& Statistics, Supply & Development, Petroleum, Paper & Stationery Wing, Inspection Wing, General Concession Wing, Central Engineering Authority, Coal Commissioner and Textiles.

Apart from economic exploitation, West Pakistani leadership always demeaned and demonised Bengalis. General Ayub rabidly detested Bengalis. He once vented his spleen by saying that “I am surprised by Bengali outlook. They have cut themselves off from Muslim culture through abhorrence of the Urdu language…..making themselves vulnerable to Hindu culture.” On 7th September 1967, he wrote “God has been very unkind to us in giving the sort of neighbours [India] and compatriots [Bengalis]. We could not think of a worst combination. Hindus and Bengalis…. If worst comes to the worst, we shall not hesitate to fight a relentless battle against the disruptionists in East Pakistan. Rivers of blood will flow if need be, unhappily. We will arise to save our crores of Muslims from Hindu slavery”.

Gen. Ayub was no exception in his fulmination against Bengalis. Major General Khadim Hussain Raja, the then GOC, who threatened to “raze Dhakah to the ground” if Shaikh Mujib proclaimed independence during his speech at Race Course ground on 7th March 1971, has made startling revelations about moral bankruptcy of military leadership. In his recently published book “a stranger in my own country”, he has quoted nauseating turpitude of General Niazi during a debriefing meeting. He writes “Niazi became abusive and started raving. Breaking into Urdu he said: ‘Main is haramzadi qaum ki nasal badal doon ga. Yeh mujhey kiya samjhtey hain’. He threatened that he would let his soldiers loose on their womenfolk. There was pin-drop silence at these remarks. Officers looked at each other in silence, taken aback by his vulgarity. The meeting dispersed on this unhappy note with sullen faces. The next morning, we were given sad news. A Bengali Office, Major Mushtaq, who had served under me in Jessore, went into a bathroom at the Command Headquarter and shot himself in head. He died instantaneously.”

What happened in 1971 was certainly worse, yet the worst is the unremitting obnoxious intransigence of the unfazed perpetrators. Fundamental rights are denied with same zeal, forced disappearance, dumping of corpses in the name of national interest continues with alarming madness and natural endowment of federating units are being exploited ruthlessly. Oppressed segments who demand their rights are inexorably construed as traitors. What prevails in Pakistan today can potentially repeat what happened yesterday.

Nation to View Fight against Child Mortality in Fishing Village

Rehri fishing village (Credit:
Rehri fishing village

ISLAMABAD, Dec 12 : A Pakistani doctor won a $1 million grant on Tuesday to fight early child mortality in a small fishing village in southern Pakistan in a contest financed by an American entrepreneur to find innovative ways to save lives, The Caplow Children’s Prize said.

A proposal by Anita Zaidi, who heads the pediatrics department at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, beat out more than 550 other applications from more than 70 countries.

The prize was founded and funded by entrepreneur Ted Caplow to find impactful and cost-effective ways to save children’s lives, according to a press release announcing the results.

Zaidi said in a telephone interview that her project will focus on reducing child mortality rates in Rehri Goth, on the outskirts of Karachi.

According to Zaidi, 106 out of 1,000 children born in the town die before the age of five. That is almost double the worldwide under-five child mortality rate of 51 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011, according to Unicef.

Few of the women in the area of roughly 40,000 people have access to medical care during pregnancy or money to pay for things like multivitamins, said Zaidi.

There is no nearby hospital, and women usually give birth accompanied by a birthing attendant with little or no formal training.

When women do run into complications giving birth, the babies often die while the women seek medical care, the doctor said.

The money will be used in Rehri Goth to eliminate malnutrition among expectant and new mothers and their babies, ensure that children have access to primary health care and immunisations and train a group of local women at Aga Khan University to become midwives.

Women taking part in the program would get two medical checkups to monitor their pregnancy, multivitamins to promote a healthy fetus and food if they are malnourished, she said.

Zaidi has been working in the area for the last ten years on various health-related research projects carried out by the university so she was familiar with its needs.

”I know this community. I know what its problems are,” Zaidi said. ”It’s a really good match between what the community needed and what this prize was offering.”

Caplow said Zaidi ”really gave reassurance that she would be able to do exactly what she said she would do and it would have the impact that she said it would have.”

He added that he and his wife conceived of the prize after they gave birth to triplets who spent a month in an intensive care unit.

The prize, which Caplow said would continue next year, was a way to address the disparities in medical technology available around the world.

Pakistan’s Exports Win Access to European Markets

Pak garment industry (Credit:
Pak garment industry

ISLAMABAD, Dec 13: The European Parliament has allowed duty free access to Islamabad in a move that will augment its exports by $1 billion annually amid calls to implement international conventions on human rights, good governance, labour and environmental standards.

The EU Parliament approved the Generalised System of Preference, known as GSP Plus status, with 409 to 182 votes for 10 developing countries including Pakistan, according to a statement issued by the EU’s Embassy in Islamabad.

The GSP Plus status means there will be zero duties on over 90% of all products that Islamabad exports to the bloc of 27 nations.

The EU is Pakistan’s largest trading partner. The GSP Plus status will become effective from January 1, 2014.

“The award of GSP Plus status shows confidence of the international markets on the excellent quality of Pakistani products,” said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his written statement. He congratulated the nation for the achievement.

The premier said that gaining access to European markets was the top-most priority of the government as part of the economic development agenda. The status would enable Pakistan to export more than $1 billion worth of products to the international markets each year.

“The textile industry [alone] would earn profits of more than Rs100 billion per year,” said the prime minister. He said the increase in exports would resultantly facilitate economic growth and help in the generation of additional employment.


Pakistan has been suffering from huge losses after it became the frontline state in the global war on terrorism. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said on Thursday that the country suffered over $100 billion in direct and indirect losses due to the war.

In order to compensate for the huge losses, Pakistan had long been demanding the United States and EU give it preferential treatment in trade and investment – a wish that the US has yet to fulfil despite making promises.

The European Commission’s preliminary assessment is that Pakistani exports, including textiles but also other products, such as leather, would increase by 574 million euros annually, said the EU Embassy. The Pakistani textile industry estimates that exports of textiles to the EU alone under GSP Plus will increase by $650 million in the first year, it added.

“While there is every reason to celebrate this milestone in EU-Pakistan relations, the GSP Plus regime calls for Pakistan to fully implement its commitments under 27 international conventions on human rights, good governance, labour and environmental standards,” said the EU’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark.

He said the grant of GSP Plus shows the importance the European Union attaches to its relations with Pakistan. “We have listened to Pakistan’s plea for more trade and not just aid,” Wigemark added.

The business community can play a significant role, for instance by ensuring labour rights, employing more women in workplace and making sure that there is no exploitation of child labour. “Improving human rights, including labour standards, is win-win situation for Pakistan and the EU,” the ambassador said.

However, he stressed that there is a need to improve the business climate in Pakistan, including access to energy.

The analysts say there are apprehensions among the business community that the energy shortages may deprive the exporters to get full benefit from the GSP Plus status.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2013.

People of Pakistan at mercy of state & non-state actors: Asian Human Rights Commission report

Pak terrorism (Credit:
Pak terrorism

Karachi, Dec 10: In 2013, the people of Pakistan have remained at the mercy of state and non-state actors which resort to violence as a means to secure power, the Hong-Kong based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said on Monday.

The detailed report has been released to mark Human rights Day that falls on December 10 (today). Rights violations are widespread due to the failures of, and lack of reform in, the country’s institutional framework, in particular key institutions of the rule of law: the police, prosecution and judiciary, according to the report.

Throughout the year 2013, the AHRC has documented how too many lives, and the dignity of those living, have been snatched by a callous state and inhuman cruelty in Pakistan.“This year, absence of a functioning criminal justice framework has allowed, or even caused, torture in custody and extrajudicial executions to increase rapidly.

“During the year, hundreds of incidents of sectarian violence, targeted killings, terrorist attacks, and suicide bombings were witnessed, as well as killings conducted,” the report said.But that is not all. In 2013, the nation faced the promulgation of two draconian ordinances that have restricted freedoms further. It also witnessed the absence of the rule of law, killings of persons from Muslim minority sects, honour killings, trafficking of women and children, torture in custody, disappearance after arrest, and extrajudicial executions, suicide attacks on religious sites, persecution of the religious minorities, forced marriages, assassination of journalists, enslavement of children, poverty levels rising to 34 percent and power blackouts that brought industrial and commercial activities to a standstill, the report said.

The year 2013 also witnessed, for the first time in Pakistan’s history, peaceful transfer of power from one civil government to another following a general election. Every political party, including that which won the May 11 election with a two-thirds majority, complained about gross vote rigging.

“The new government, on assuming power, immediately began acting on its distaste for human rights. It merged the Ministry of Human Rights with the Ministry of Law and Justice, denying the people opportunity for redress for human rights abuses. The government has turned a blind eye to the arrogance of the police and armed forces in its refusal to comply with the orders of the courts,” the report said.

The government – in attempt to limit freedom of expression, freedom of movement, constitutional protection from arbitrary arrest, security of individuals, right to property, and civil liberty – promulgated two ordinances (Pakistan Protection Ordinance and an ordinance amending the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997). With these ordinances it has provided law enforcement and security agencies unlimited powers to search houses without warrant, shoot suspects on sight, confiscate property, tap telephones, and hack computers, and has established a parallel judiciary, creating special courts and special prosecution. These ordinances were promulgated to bypass parliament and open debate.


“Balochistan remains in a grave situation in 2013. Thousands of people are missing after arrest. Human rights abuse is the norm.,” the report said.

“In 2013, four hundred and fifty (450) persons disappeared after their arrest by the Frontier Corps (FC) and other forces in Balochistan. In Sindh province 35 persons disappeared this year; the number of disappeared for KPK province is 110 persons. In Pakistan-held Kashmir, nationalists struggling for independence of both India-held and Pakistan-held Kashmir disappeared constantly – 52 such persons disappeared after their arrest.”

“As many as 180 bullet-riddled bodies of Baloch missing persons have been found this year. In Sindh, during joint operations of Pakistan Rangers and Police, 53 persons were extra-judicially killed in vast numbers of encounters. In Karachi alone, 34 persons were killed in extra-judicial executions,” the report said.

“However, intelligence agencies brazenly ignore Supreme Court’s orders to produce the missing victims. Two judicial commissions established to probe cases of disappearances have been unable to get explanations from the intelligence agencies, and their recommendations have been ignored.”

Altaf fears ‘British establishment’ plotting to eliminate him

Altaf Hussain address (Credit:
Altaf Hussain address

LONDON, July 1: MQM leader Altaf Hussain opened a new front on Sunday by naming the British establishment and openly accusing Britons of hatching a plot to eliminate him and “frame” him in the murder case of Dr Imran Farooq, one of the founders of the MQM.

In an unprecedented broadcast watched by millions of Pakistanis on private TV channels on Sunday, the London-based MQM supremo, who has made Britain his permanent home after fleeing Pakistan in 1992, admitted that the Metropolitan Police had raided his home in North West London.

Dr Imran Farooq, who had been living in exile in London since 1999, was stabbed to death on his way home from work in Green Lane on September 16, 2010, outside his residence. The Met Police believe he was killed because he wanted to start his own independent political career.

The news of the search warrant being executed one of the MQM leader’s residential addresses was broken exclusively by Geo TV, stunning Pakistan. The police seemed to have taken direct aim at the MQM leader, by first raiding his home and then arresting Iftikhar Hussain, when he landed at Heathrow after attending Hussain’s niece’s wedding in Toronto,and kept him for nearly 34 hours at a police station to question about Dr Imran Farooq murder.

In his address, the MQM leader was clearly agitated and complained that the police had taken away belongings from his property and were refusing to communicate. It was in this context that he announced to relinquish charge of the party in the early hours of Sunday.

Hussain retracted his decision of leaving reins of the party in a live speech after hours of emotional appeals by the workers present at the 90 headquarters of MQM and warned that the consequences of his arrest or trial in relation to Dr Farooq’s murder may be too serious for Britain to bear.

Hussain spoke as a man who is convinced that he will be implicated in the investigation of Dr Farooq’s killing. He spoke as if it was a fait accompli. He spoke candidly and appealed to his workers to stay united if he is eliminated, charged, put on trial, or sent on a path yet unknown to him and others.

He suggested that there was a conspiracy against his leadership of the MQM and wanted a referendum from his workers if they wanted him to stay or go in obscurity. Unanimously, the workers asked Hussain on live TV to stay on or else no other leader will be accepted. It’s either you, Bhai, or no one else is worthy of leading us, they assured. Hussain took his resignation back but that was only a sideshow to the big development.

What Hussain said in his speech about Dr Farooq investigation, Britain’s role in hideous games and the alleged plot against him by his hosts, actually marks a turning point for the party that set its camp in London more than two decades ago.

The MQM has controlled Karachi from its International Secretariat in Edgware without any trouble at anytime, but those times have changed and the party leadership at the moment has three investigations going on about them, directly or indirectly: the murder investigation of Dr Imran Farooq, a money-laundering investigation and an investigation into Altaf Hussain’s ‘teen talwar’ speech.

In fact, for the first time Altaf Hussain admitted that some kind of a money laundering probe is also going on against the MQM after the raids on MQM Secretariat or the residences of MQM leaders.

The raid on his house and the arrest of Iftikhar Hussain shook the party leadership to the core and has puzzled its think tanks who have for long thought that they are always tolerable to the west because of their general liberal and secular outlook. That assessment is right and the MQM has been treated as such in Britain, but the killing in London and the rise in confrontation in Britain has set the party on a path which it didn’t choose.

“I may not be the chief in the eyes of Britain, but I am the chief in the eyes of party workers,” said Hussain.It is known that recently George Galloway, MP, instructed lawyers to seek legal action against Altaf Hussain and he has been proactively campaigning in British Parliament regarding Altaf Hussain’s activities. Lord Nazir Ahmed and Imran Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader, were also mentioned, by the MQM chief as canvassing the British government.

Imran Khan had also looked at the possibility of bringing legal action against Altaf Hussain in 2007. However, it is unlikely that Galloway, Imran Khan and Lord Nazir will have had much influence on the government as the Metropolitan Police are independent of the government pressure.

It must be noted that the Met Police do have connections with the secret services of Britain, MI-5 and MI-6, and the police force works closely with both the external and internal arms of the secret service.

Hussain said he would not seek legal counsel, barrister or a solicitor if charged with the conspiracy to kill his colleague, Dr Imran Farooq. He gave the clearest indication that the police were headed in the direction and the net was closing in.

He also said that the Met Police had full cooperation from his party but also warned the Met against framing him. In Pakistan, the MQM leadership made their disgust at the Met investigation clear when they protested outside British Consulate in Karachi and warned the Met not to cross the red lines.

Altaf Hussain questioned why the house of a leader who represents millions has been raided in such a blatant manner. It is believed that the MQM is aware that the Met Police are close to taking further action which would be in the form of bringing criminal charges against certain individuals, and his speech may be seen as a pre-emptive attempt to soften the blow to his party faithful.

A foreign and commonwealth office spokesman in London says: We are aware of a planned demonstration outside our Karachi consulate. It’s a concern for us, but we will not go into details of what these concerns are. We have taken measures.”

Speaking about the comments of Altaf Hussain, the spokesman added: “Metropolitan Police are investigating the murder case of Dr Imran Farooq. The Met Police is completely independent of the government influence. It’s an independent organisation. Her Majesty’s Government doesn’t interfere with the police investigation. Whether to charge, release or raid an address—it’s nothing to do with the government. The Met Police deal with such matters.”It should be noted that conspiracy to commit murder, contrary to Section (1) 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977, can attract a custodial sentence and imprisonment for life.


Hazara massacre in Quetta (Credit, June 30: At least 28 men and women of Shia Hazara community were killed and 60 others injured in a suicide blast in the Aliabad area of Hazara town on Sunday night. “A suicide bomber blew himself up near a barrier close to Ali Ibn-Abu-Talib Imambargah,” DIG (Investigation) Syed Mobin Ahmed told Dawn.

The proscribed Lashkar-i-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for the group who identified himself as Abubakar Siddique told a private TV channel that his group had carried out the attack in the Hazara town.

At least nine women were among the dead.

Sources said that an unidentified man on a bicycle tried to enter the area and when people standing near the barrier tried to stop him he blew himself up.

The blast occurred at the Balkhi Chowk which is near to the Imambargah.

Capital City Police Officer Mir Zubair Mehmood told reporters that prayers were being held inside the Imambargah when the blast took place.

He said the target of the bomber was Imambargah but he could not reach there because people responsible for security of the Imambargah stopped him at the barrier.

He said the head and parts of the bomber’s body had been found.

Eyewitnesses said a large number of people, including women and children, were at the place at the time of the blast.

Press photographer Saeed Ahmed told Dawn that human flesh and limbs were lying all over the place.

Soon after the blast, the sources said, security personnel rushed to the blast site and cordoned off the area. They did
not allow even rescue personnel to enter the area for fear of a second blast.

Hazara town resounded with gunfire after the explosion.

Two hand-grenades were found at the blast site which the suicide bomber reportedly carried.

The injured and the bodies were taken to the Bolan Medical College Hospital and the Combined Military Hospital.

Hospital sources said the death toll could rise because at least 10 of the injured were stated to be in serious condition.

Several nearby buildings and vehicles parked in the area were badly damaged by the blast.

This was second bomb attack in Hazara town over the past five months.

The previous blast, caused by explosive in a water-tanker on Feb 16, killed about 100 people and left over 200 injured.

Balochistan Governor Mohammad Khan Achakzai and Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch condemned the blast and expressed grief over the loss of lives. They expressed sympathy with the bereaved families.

Official sources at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat told this reporter that the chief minister who was in Islamabad on an official visit, decided to return to Quetta after coming to know about the attack.

“The chief minister has directed officials concerned to ensure adequate medical treatment of the injured,” they said.

TTP and the Perils of Inertia

TTP spokespersons (Credit:
TTP spokespersons

IT is our war. It is America’s war. Thousands of Pakistanis have perished in this war. And all we do is take part in this debate. We do nothing to end it.

If one could put it down to a simple lack of will or spine it would have been bad enough. That a fair bit of the discourse on terrorism represents ideologically motivated obfuscation is unforgivable, particularly given how many compatriots have had to sacrifice so much.

The dominant argument is that Pakistan’s support to the US-led war in Afghanistan and the CIA’s drone attacks are the only drivers of terrorism in the country. Ergo, this support to the US is not just blamed for terrorism but also advanced as a justification for the mass murder of our people.

Refusal to accept this view in its entirety is immediately pounced upon as being tantamount to condoning or worse still supporting the drone attacks that mostly kill our civilians, women and children, and occasionally the militant in the tribal areas.

God help you if you happen to have doubts about talks with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP): “Amreeka key agent media mein bethey huey hein jo amn ke khilaf hein” (There are American agents in the media opposed to peace), Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan said in his ‘first’ televised interview since his election campaign accident.

His utter contempt for anyone holding a view different to his own is always a bit upsetting but, on this occasion, it was reassuring because it established the PTI leader had been restored to good health and his former self.

Therefore, it wasn’t surprising to hear him say that if the US can facilitate the opening of an Afghan Taliban office in Doha and initiate a dialogue with them why couldn’t Pakistan do the same in case of the TTP.

Let me be open and admit that I have a soft corner for the great Khan. He gave me and countless others one of the finest moments of our lives by leading Pakistan to its only Cricket World Cup triumph. That is why we all forgave him for his “In the twilight of my career…” speech.

That the well-meaning, born-again Muslim then went on to a greater triumph in setting up and successfully running the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital for specialised cancer care in memory of his mother who, like mine, died at the cruel hands of cancer was awe-inspiring.

So yes, I disagree with him but won’t call him Taliban Khan; even if he finds ideological compassion for the TTP and understanding for the atrocities committed by the group against thousands of Pakistanis.

He is free to call me an American agent or by whatever name he wishes because I oppose talks with the TTP. I do so because there is no parallel between that and the US starting a dialogue with the Afghan Taliban.

The US is now keen to get out of Afghanistan, a foreign country it invaded with UN approval and possibly a just cause, after the Taliban administration refused to hand over the mostly Saudi suspected perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks on US soil.

It went into the country seeking retribution. This retribution wasn’t possible without regime change. It did what it thought necessary. It may even have attained its main objective of attacking Al Qaeda in its sanctuary and denuding it of its capacity to attack the US on its soil again.

But a democracy it remains and its war-weary voting public is wary of continuing a bloody conflict which, they understand, cannot be won. So, the US has now embarked on its plan to shrink its giant footprint in that foreign country.

However, it also doesn’t wish a return of the pre-invasion situation in Afghanistan where Islamic militants from around the world found a safe haven and training ground to serve as a launching pad for their global jihad.

It wants guarantees that only the Taliban can give. It isn’t clear if, in line with ISI belief, the Taliban can return to their pre-war glory and rule over Kabul as well but it is clear to the US they’ll have large swathes of the country under their control as they do even now; hence, the talks.

If the admittedly imperfect Afghan democracy collapses post-US withdrawal so be it as long as the new power structures can guarantee no sanctuaries for global jihadis. The US doesn’t seem interested in ‘nation building’ any more. It’ll retain its drone programme, and possibly some residual air and special operations capability so nothing’s left to chance. We have our democracy to lose. Unless, that is, we actually believe that once the US has pulled out of Afghanistan or we have pulled out of the ‘US war’ all will be hunky-dory. We’ll need to forget the TTP is committed to their brand of Sharia in the country and beyond.

They find democracy, diversity of opinion and faith against their ideological beliefs. Groups of mass murderers such as the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi are either TTP allies or franchises. The TTP continues to offer sanctuaries to foreign fighters with global ambitions.

Thousands of soldiers have died clearing the bulk of the tribal areas of these militants. The TTP remains ensconced in its remaining stronghold of North Waziristan. That is where the serpent’s head is.

One would have said carry on with your obfuscation, talk about talks, do deals like in the past, if it wasn’t so dangerous. All this wasted time means wasted opportunities. The TTP gets bolder and bolder in its attacks; its ranks appear swollen by zealots; who knows what fear can do to people.

What if one day, battered by TTP’s bombings and filled with despair by the inertia of the state, more people turn to its ideology if only to find some respite, save themselves? What a horrifying thought. I’d rather be labelled an American agent and strive to salvage whatever is left of my Pakistan.

The writer is a former editor of Dawn.

Why Pakistan Is a Bigger Threat to Israel than Iran

While the United States and Israel incessantly obsess with the possibility of a future nuclear Iran, they barely ever raise such concerns about Iran’s next door Islamic neighbour Pakistan that brandishes its nuclear weapons with Islamic zeal and barely concealed contempt for the “kufaar” — Jews, Christians, Hindus, atheists and other non-Muslims.

But there are others inside Pakistan who do not share America and Israel’s myopia. The country’s leading anti-nuclear activist, physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy in his book Confronting the Bomb, has this to say about Pakistan’s nukes:

“The fear of loose [nuclear] weapons comes from the fact that Pakistan’s armed forces harbour a hidden enemy within their ranks. Those wearing the cloak of religion freely walk in and out of top security nuclear installations every day … The fear of the insider is ubiquitous and well-founded.”

Prof. Hoodbhoy is able to see through the complexity of his country’s nuclear arsenal that both the White House and Jerusalem either choose to overlook or are grossly ignorant about. Hoodbhoy maintains that there are two Pakistani armies. One led by General Pervez Ashraf Kayani and the other by Allah. “It is difficult to find another example where the defence apparatus of a modern state has been rendered so vulnerable by the threat posed by military insiders.” Even non-fundamentalist elements are “soft Islamists,” he says. Hoodbhoy describes the Pakistani army as “a heavily Islamicised rank-and-file brimming with seditious thoughts.”

As a friend of the Jewish people as well as the Arabs, the thought of a nuclear devise exploding over Israel gives me the jitters. The fact is, millions of Arabs too will be eviscerated in a nuclear attack on the Jewish State.

In meeting with leading Jewish intellectuals and academia in North America and some in Israel itself, I am struck by the lack of knowledge they have about Pakistan, let alone its nuclear program. Few write about the internal dynamics of Pakistan that has emerged as the world’s number one source of jihadi suicide bombers and ground zero for the training of Islamic terrorists.

Pakistan is not an easy subject. It is a multi-ethnic country with a multi-lingual population dominated by Punjab; a civil war in Balochistan; a disputed border with Afghanistan; hundreds of thousands of troops on war footing at the Kashmir Line of Control against India; a slow slaughter of the country’s Shia population and China’s strategic interests at the mouth of the Straits of Hormuz.

All of this makes the study of Pakistan a daunting task for any outsider. Even Britain and the USA who helped create the country to install a buffer state between the advancing USSR and India after the Second World War, have not been able to read the tea leaves with any degree of accuracy.

As I write this essay, Pakistan produces more nuclear bombs than any other nuclear power while developing longer-range missiles. On paper, these nuclear warheads and missiles are India-centric and pointed towards the east. However, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is not at a static location and the warheads as well as missiles are constantly on the move, and if there is one country that the Pakistan’s politicians, both on the right as well as the left, hate more than India, it is Israel.

Are Israelis aware of the vulnerabilities in Pakistan’s nuclear program that make it possible for non-state jihadi actors to strike at the Jewish State? I doubt it.

Pakistan is a society based on the hatred of the “other.” Since its creation, the Hindu and the Jew, (“Hanood wa Yahood” in the popular street lexicon of the Urdu language) has been cultivated as the enemy of the country and Islam.

In a culture of violence, three million fellow Muslims were killed in genocide in 1971 in Bangladesh. With the liquidation of the Hindu population and the total absence of Jews, the addiction to killing the “other” is now consuming the Pakistanis from within.

Just in the three years leading up to the 2011 capture and death of Osama Bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan, there were 225 suicide bombings in the country killing over 3,900 people, and all of them in politically motivated attacks by Sunni Muslim jihadis. All the victims — from Ahmadi Muslims to Shia Muslims — are accused of serving the Zionist cause and thus eliminated.

Shia vs. Sunni

The irony is that while Israel considers Shia Iran as its primary enemy and nurtures a cold peace with Jordan and Egypt, the Shias of Iran are often branded as a secret Jewish sect by Sunni Muslim clerics in both Egypt and Jordan. Jews around the world seem to oblivious to this fact as they read about the slaughter of Shias in Pakistan and the open hostility towards them from places as far apart as Indonesia to Indiana (home to America’s Islamist organisation ISNA ).

If one were to study the sources of Jew-hatred, they are invariably rooted in Pakistan and the Arab World. If it comes to terrorist attacks carried out around the globe, almost all of them have either originated in Pakistan, were carried out by young men of Pakistani ancestry or by jihadi terrorists who were trained on Pakistani soil. Else, they were planned and executed by Islamabad’s intelligence agency, the ISI and its sponsored terrorist organizations. Yet, in the eyes of Israel and the Jewish Diaspora, it is Iran that is the anti-Semitic capital of the world, hell-bent on destroying the Jewish State.

Let me catalogue the role Pakistan has played in international terrorism, long before its territory was used by Osama Bin Laden and Khaled Sheikh Mohammed to plan and execute the 9/11 attack on the United States.

International Terrorism linked to Pakistan

  1. September 1986: Armed men attempt to hijack a Pan Am jet on the tarmac of Karachi airport in which 20 people died. Among the arrested were five Palestinians belonging to the Abu Nidal group and seven Pakistanis.
  2. January 1993: The CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia is attacked, killing two CIA employees and wounding three others. The perpetrator is a Pakistani, Ajmal Kansi. Four years later in 1997 he is captured by FBI agents in rendered back to the United States to stand trial and was executed by lethal injection in 2002.
  3. February 1993: The World Trade Centre is attacked using a truck bomb. The mastermind of the attack, Ramzi Yousef is later arrested in 1995 in Islamabad, Pakistan.
  4. August 1998: American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania are bombed, killing 223 people and wounding over 4,000 others. One of the planners of this terror attack,Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani is arrested in 2004 in Gujrat, Pakistan.
  5. October 2000: Jihadi terrorists carry out a suicide attack on the United States Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Cole while it is harboured and being refuelled in the Yemen port of Aden. Seventeen American sailors are killed, and 39 injured. The Saudi mastermind behind this attack, Walid Bin Attash is later captured on April 29, 2003 in Karachi, Pakistan.
  6. May 2002: A suicide bomber kills 11 French naval engineers outside The Sheraton Hotel in Karachi, Pakistan. Three years later the bomb maker, Mufti Muhammad Sabir is arrested 2005 in Karachi, Pakistan.
  7. October 2002: Jihadi terrorists attack the Indonesian tourist resort of Bali killing 202 people and injuring another 240. Nine years later, the chief suspect in the bombing, Umar Patek of the militant group Jemaah Islamiah is arrested in 2011 in Abbotabad, Pakistan.
  8. July 2005: Jihadi terrorists carry out the now infamous 7/7 suicide bombings in London, UK, killing 52 people and injuring 700 others. Three of the four suicide bombers are of Pakistani ancestry. In January 2009, one of the planners of the London 7/7 bombings, Saudi national Zabi uk-Taifi is arrested in a village just outside Peshawar, Pakistan.
  9. December 2008: Pakistani jihadi terrorists carry out a sea-borne suicide attack on Mumbai, India, killing 166 people including a rabbi and his pregnant wife at a Jewish Centre, and injuring 308 others. The mastermind of the Mumbai attack was the Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley (born Daud Sayed Gilani). His alleged Pakistani-Canadian accomplice, Muhammad Tahwwar Rana, was acquitted in the Mumbai attacks but convicted of working for the terror group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), long suspected of being supported by Pakistan’s ISI.
  10. May 2010: A bombing at New York Times Square is foiled when street vendors discover smoke coming from a vehicle and alert an NYPD patrolman. The bomb had ignited, but failed to explode, and was disarmed before it caused any casualties. Two days later federal agents arrest a man at John F. Kennedy International Airport after he tries to board an Emirate Airlines flight to Dubai. He is Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistani-American.

In addition to the above list of international jihadi terror attacks associated with Pakistan, the country has been home to most of the Al-Qaeda leadership, including Osama Bin Laden. They include the following five:

  • Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi citizen currently held in U.S. custody, was arrested in March 2002 in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
  • Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a Yemeni citizen being held by the United States as an enemy combatant detainee at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He was captured in September 2002, in Karachi, Pakistan.
  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is currently in U.S. military custody in Guantánamo Bay for acts of terrorism, including mass murder of civilians, as he has been identified as “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks”. He was captured in March 2003 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
  • Abu Faraj al-Libbi is the nom de guerre of a Libyan who is a senior member of al-Qaeda. [His real name is thought to be Mustafa al-‘Uzayti.] Al-Labibi was arrested in May 2005 in Mardan, Pakistan.
  • Mustafa Nasar, also known as Abu Musab al-Suri is a Syrian-born leader of al-Qaeda who holds Spanish citizenship. He is wanted in Spain for the 1985 El Descanso bombing that killed 18 people, and in connection with the 2004 Madrid train bombings. Nasar too ended up in Pakistan where he was captured in October 2005 in the Pakistani city of Quetta.

Not to mention the fact that the only time Britons have been involved in a suicide bombing attack inside Israel, it has involved men of Pakistan ancestry. In May 2003 a suicide bomber and his accomplice murdered three people and wounded scores at a Tel Aviv bar. The 21-year-old bomber, Asif Mohammed Hanif died in the attack while his accomplice as Omar Khan Sharif failed to detonate his bomb. Both were born to Pakistani parents in the U.K.

Hanif was not the first Pakistani-Briton to commit terror against Jews. In 2002, Omar Saeed Sheikh of London masterminded the kidnap and murder of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.

Compared to the acts of international terror that have a Pakistani link, terrorism that originates in Iran is few and far between.

The first international atrocity that can be traced back to Iran was committed in 1994 when the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) Jewish Centre in Buenos Aires, Argentinewas bombed, killing 85 people and wounding 300 more. There is little doubt that senior Iranian officials were behind the attack and that their Lebanese-based Hezbollah allies carried out the attack.

The only other major act of Iranian international terror was in February 2012 when a bomb explosion targeted an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi, India.

Why Iran? Why not Pakistan?

Why then is Israel so obsessed with Iran, but not Pakistan? One of the reasons may be the presence in Israel of an influential Persian Jewish community with roots in Iran, and who have a particularly nasty experience with the regime of the Ayatollahs compared to the era when a close relationship between Israel and Iran existed during the reign of The Shah until 1979.

Iranian Jews in Israel are estimated to be 200,000 to 250,000 strong and have a far greater role in the country’s public policy making then their numbers suggest. From Dan Halutz , the former chief of Staff of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to the now disgraced former president of the country Moshe Katsav, Iranian Jews in Israel pull more than their weight in the affairs of the country.

Today the former Israeli Minister of Transport Shaul Mofaz, leads the Kadima Party while Michael Ben-Ari and Mordechai Zar are members of the Knesset.

Compared to Iranian Jews in Israel, Pakistani Jews do not exceed 2,000 in number, and their claim to fame is restricted to the introduction of cricket inside Israel. They mostly live in the city of Ramla and do not have any prominent figure in the Israeli political discourse. Few of these Pakistanis have any links or even memories of Pakistan and unlike their Iranian counterparts, lack any insight into the current political nature of their former homeland.

While Israel Radio runs a daily Farsi language service since the 1950s, it has no such broadcast in Punjabi, Urdu, Balochi, Puhstu, or Sindhi, the languages of Pakistan. It is no wonder that in Israel there is such a dearth of scholarship on Pakistan and that country’s involvement in international jihadi terrorism.

While the 180-million population of Pakistan and its diaspora is almost universally anti-Semitic and hostile to Israel, the ordinary Iranian is neither obsessed with Jew hatred nor seeped in convoluted theories of Jewish conspiracies that are ubiquitous among its next door Pakistani neighbours.

Israelis are justifiably worried with the rabid rhetoric that emanates from the Iranian ayatollahs. However, they need to recognise that it is Pakistan that has 100 nuclear warheads and missiles that can reach Israel, not Iran.

Obsessing with Iran while shrugging off the threats posed by Pakistan and its jihadi sponsor Saudi Arabia, may be a mistake that Jerusalem can still correct while it has a chance.

Already there are reports that Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal is in support of cooperating secretly with Pakistan in developing a Saudi-based nuclear program. This initiative has the backing of the current director of Saudi intelligence agency, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan.

srael needs to realize that Iran and Syria may be the dogs that bark, but it is Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who are the ones most likely to bite.

Militants kill 9 foreign tourists, 1 Pakistani at base of one of world’s highest mountains

Nanga Parbat base camp (Credit:
Nanga Parbat base camp
ISLAMABAD, June 23 — Islamic militants wearing police uniforms shot to death nine foreign tourists and one Pakistani before dawn Sunday as they were visiting one of the world’s highest mountains in a remote area of northern Pakistan, officials said.

The foreigners who were killed included five Ukrainians, three Chinese and one Russian, said Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. One Chinese tourist was wounded in the attack and was rescued, he said.

The local branch of the Taliban took responsibility for the killings, saying it was to avenge the death of a leader killed in a drone strike.

The shooting is likely to damage the country’s struggling tourism industry. Pakistan’s mountainous north — considered until now relatively safe — is one of the main attractions in a country beset with insurgency and other political instability.

The attack took place at the base camp of Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world at 8,126 meters (26,660 feet). Nanga Parbat is notoriously difficult to climb and is known as the “killer mountain” because of numerous mountaineering deaths in the past. It’s unclear if the tourists were planning to climb the mountain or were just visiting the base camp, which is located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan.

The gunmen were wearing uniforms used by the Gilgit Scouts, a paramilitary police force that patrols the area, said the interior minister. The attackers abducted two local guides to find their way to the remote base camp. One of the guides was killed in the shooting, and the other has been detained and is being questioned, said Khan.

“The government will take all measures to ensure the safety of foreign tourists,” said the interior minister in a speech in the National Assembly, which passed a resolution condemning the incident.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the attack, saying their Jundul Hafsa group carried out the shooting as retaliation for the death of the Taliban’s deputy leader, Waliur Rehman, in a U.S. drone attack on May 29.

“By killing foreigners, we wanted to give a message to the world to play their role in bringing an end to the drone attacks,” Ahsan told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.

The attackers beat up the Pakistanis who were accompanying the tourists, took their money and tied them up, said a senior local government official. They checked the identities of the Pakistanis and shot to death one of them, possibly because he was a minority Shiite Muslim, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. Although Gilgit-Baltistan is a relatively peaceful area, it has experienced attacks by radical Sunni Muslims on Shiites in recent years.

The attackers took the money and passports from the foreigners and then gunned them down, said the official. It’s unclear how the Chinese tourist who was rescued managed to avoid being killed.

Local police chief Barkat Ali said they first learned of the attack when one of the local guides called the police station around 1 a.m. on Sunday.

The Pakistani government condemned the shooting in a statement sent to reporters.

“The government of Pakistan expresses its deep sense of shock and grief on this brutal act of terrorism, and extends its sympathy to the families of the victims,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry. “Those who have committed this heinous crime seem to be attempting to disrupt the growing relations of Pakistan with China and other friendly countries.”

Pakistan has very close ties with neighboring China and is very sensitive to an issue that could harm the relationship. Pakistani officials have reached out to representatives from China and Ukraine to convey their sympathies, the Foreign Ministry said.

Many foreign tourists stay away from Pakistan because of the perceived danger of visiting a country that is home to a large number of Islamic militant groups, such as the Taliban and al-Qaida, which mostly reside in the northwest near the Afghan border. But a relatively small number of intrepid foreigners visit Gilgit-Baltistan during the summer to marvel at the peaks of the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges, including K2, the second highest mountain in the world.

Syed Mehdi Shah, the chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, condemned the attack and expressed fear that it would seriously damage the region’s tourism industry.

“A lot of tourists come to this area in the summer, and our local people work to earn money from these people,” said Shah. “This will not only affect our area, but will adversely affect all of Pakistan.”

Shah said authorities are still trying to get more information about exactly what happened to the tourists. The area where the attack occurred, Bunar Nala, is only accessible by foot or on horseback, and communications can be difficult, said Shah. Bunar Nala is on one of three routes to reach Nanga Parbat, he said.

The area has been cordoned off by police and paramilitary soldiers, and a military helicopter is searching the area, said Shah. The military plans to airlift the bodies of the foreign tourists to Islamabad, he said.

“God willing we will find the perpetrators of this tragic incident,” said Shah.

The government suspended the top police chief in Gilgit-Baltistan following the attack and has ordered an inquiry into the incident, said Khan, the interior minister.


Associated Press writer Rasool Dawar contributed to this report from Peshawar, Pakistan.

Edhi in Critical Health due to Failing Kidneys

Maulana Abdus Sattar Edhi (
Maulana Abdus Sattar Edhi
KARACHI, June 25: Renowned philanthropist, Abdul Sattar Edhi, is suffering from kidney failure, Dr Adib Rizvi said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), Dr Rizvi said that both kidneys of Mr Edhi have “started failing”. He said that although a donor kidney has been requested, there were minimal chances of a successful transplant due to the frail health of Mr Edhi.

He added that in case a transplant is not conducted he (Edhi) will need daily dialysis to continue living.

Under treatment at SIUT for the past few days, the octogenarian sounded weak while speaking to over the telephone.

When asked about his condition, he said: “My son, Faisal, and wife Bilquis are taking care of everything. I have requested for a donor kidney. In any case if I deserve to live more years, then I’ll live.”

Considered one of Pakistan’s biggest philanthropists, octogenarian is the founder and head of the Edhi foundation.

The Edhi foundation operates a widespread ambulance service in Pakistan, said to be one of the biggest in the world.The foundation gets a large number of donations, thanks to the respect that Mr Edhi has earned from the public.

Apart from getting many nationally recognised awards, Mr Edhi was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the government in 2012.