Is Pakistan a Failing State?
Date: October 21, 2013 | 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
CIC Montreal presents: Adnan Qaiser
Good historical background and geopolitical analysis
Robert D. Kaplan: What’s Wrong with Pakistan?
Why geography — unfortunately — is destiny for South Asia’s troubled heartland.
(Foreign Policy July/August 2012) Perversity characterizes Pakistan. Only the worst African hellholes, Afghanistan, Haiti, Yemen, and Iraq rank higher on this year’s Failed States Index. The country is run by a military obsessed with — and, for decades, invested in — the conflict with India, and by a civilian elite that steals all it can and pays almost no taxes. But despite an overbearing military, tribes “defined by a near-universal male participation in organized violence,” as the late European anthropologist Ernest Gellner put it, dominate massive swaths of territory. The absence of the state makes for 20-hour daily electricity blackouts and an almost nonexistent education system in many areas.
… Regrettably, Pakistan has been what 20th-century European scholars Ernest Gellner and Robert Montagne call a “segmentary” society. Hovering between centralization and anarchy, such a society, in Montagne’s words, is typified by a regime that “drains the life from a region,” even though, “because of its own fragility,” it fails to establish lasting institutions. This is the byproduct of a landscape riven by mountains and desert, a place where tribes are strong and the central government is comparatively weak.
The Nation: The Taliban Is Not Al Qaeda 16 May 2013
Pakistan Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah rejects talks
(BBC) The new head of the Pakistani Taliban, Mullah Fazlullah, has ruled out peace talks with the government, vowing revenge for his predecessor’s death.
A Taliban spokesman told the BBC the militants would instead target the military and the governing party.
Mullah Fazlullah was named the new leader six days after Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a drone strike.
Mullah Fazlullah is a particularly ruthless commander whose men shot the schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai.
Pakistanis react with dismay to new Taliban chief
Dejection and dismay has been the reaction of many people in Pakistan to the news that Mullah Fazlullah has been made head of the Pakistani Taliban (TTP).
He is still remembered for his atrocities in Swat – banning girls’ education, destroying schools, ransacking music shops, carrying out public executions, and attempting to enforce a brutal moral code of Islamic law.
He was the pioneer of what many in Pakistan and internationally believe to be a senseless campaign against the United Nations-funded polio vaccination drive.
Hakimullah Mehsud drone strike: ‘Death of peace efforts’
(BBC) Pakistan’s interior minister has said the death of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud has destroyed the country’s nascent peace process.
It came a day before a Pakistani delegation had been due to fly to North Waziristan to meet Mehsud. …
But many believe Mehsud’s death will leave the field open for groups that are known to have publicly favoured a rapprochement with Pakistan.
NAHEED MUSTAFA: Why many Pakistanis have turned against Peace Prize nominee Malala
(Globe & Mail) Malala Yousafzai is a CIA agent. She might also be working for Pakistani intelligence services and MI6. It’s also entirely possible she’s on the payroll of Zionists and spending her spare time feeding information to Indian spies.
A lot of work for a 16-year-old.
By the way, that’s not me being facetious. Those are actually the kinds of allegations leveled against the young Malala by a motley crew of shrill right-wing characters, united by their suspicion that the young activist is not an agent of change but an agent of the west.
Malala, survivor of Taliban, resented in Pakistan hometown
(Reuters) – For many of her compatriots, Malala Yousafzai is a stooge of the United States and a CIA agent, a symbol of the West’s evils and a global conspiracy to bring down her native Pakistan.
She has won the European Union’s prestigious human rights award and was one of the favorites to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, but in her native Swat valley, friends and neighbors reacted with a mixture of resentment, fear and jealousy. … in this deeply conservative part of Pakistan, where women are expected to stay at home and keep their views to themselves, many people view Malala’s campaign with suspicion.
In a nation thriving on conspiracy theories, some have even doubted the sincerity of her campaign, claiming it is part of her family’s ploy to move to Britain or that she is just an attention seeker.
India, Pakistan leaders say they want better ties but reach no concrete agreements
(Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, agreed on Sunday to work to restore a cross-border ceasefire after a spate of shootings in order to improve strained ties, officials said.
Singh and Sharif met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, amid heightened tension between the nuclear-armed neighbors over the Kashmir region, sparked by series of fatal clashes on their de facto Himalayan border.
New earthquake strikes Pakistan’s Balochistan
Quake measuring 6.8 in magnitude in Awaran , with epicentre about 30km away from previous tremor, claims more lives.
Pakistan church bomb: Christians mourn 85 killed in Peshawar suicide attack
Pakistan’s worst-ever attack on beleaguered Christians prompts warning by bishop for future of minority in Muslim countries
(The Guardian) With its Mughalesque features, gleaming white dome and minaret-like towers, the All Saints’ church in Peshawar has been a symbol of interfaith harmony ever since it was built in 1883.
As in a mosque, worshippers remove their shoes before entering the historic building, where biblical quotations are emblazoned on the walls in English, Hebrew and Persian scripts.
Some of the congregation were in bare feet as they filed out of the Anglican church on Sunday morning straight into the blast zone of one of two suicide bombers from a Taliban faction that has vowed to kill non-Muslims until the US cancels its lethal drone strikes in the country.
Pakistan jailbreak: Taliban militants storm prison and free hundreds – including ‘dangerous terrorists’
Fighters disguised as police, armed with bombs and grenades, attack jail in operation that raises doubts about Pakistani government’s grip on security
Months after promising peace talks with the insurgents, the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif appears to be accepting that the use of military force may be unavoidable.
Pakistan’s New Big Threat Isn’t Terrorism—It’s Water
Shortages of the precious resource threaten to destabilize the region even further.
In a report released last week by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Pakistan was pinpointed as “one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, not far from being classified, ‘water-scarce’.” As water demand exceeds supply in the South Asian country, more and more water is being withdrawn from the nation’s reservoirs, leaving them in a critically precarious position. According to the ADB, Pakistan’s storage capacity, the amount of water it has on reserve in case of an emergency, is limited to a 30-day supply — far below the recommended 1,000 days for countries with similar climates. Without meaningful action, a water crisis could push the country into further chaos.
Can Nawaz Sharif mend Pakistan’s ties with India?
(BBC) As Nawaz Sharif prepares for an unprecedented third term as Pakistan’s prime minister, neighbouring India is watching closely. Sanjoy Majumder asks if the move could usher in a fresh chapter in relations between the two South Asian rivals.
Pakistani Taliban appoint new deputy after US drone strike
Khan Said selected as Wali ur-Rehman is buried in low-key ceremony following attack in North Waziristan
(The Guardian) The Taliban members said the new number two, Khan Said, 38, had served as Rehman’s deputy. He was involved in planning a 2011 attack on a Pakistani navy base in Karachi in which 18 people were killed and a 2012 jailbreak in which nearly 400 militant inmates escaped, they said.
Why development needs priority over debt repayment in Pakistan
The new government in Pakistan urgently needs to address the country’s development requirements and to do that, development must take priority over debt repayment, writes Nick Dearden. “Ending debt payments would give Pakistan time to develop new sources of revenue to start building an alternative development path,” he argues. The Guardian (London)/Poverty Matters blog (5/21)
Nawaz Sharif ‘ready to hit ground running’ as he takes Pakistan victory
Next prime minister set to push through plans to curb power of generals, bolster economy and improve relations with India
The full scale of Nawaz Sharif’s thumping victory in Pakistan’s general election became clear on Sunday, making it far more likely the country’s next prime minister will be able to govern without coalition deals and be free to push through what supporters see as a potentially revolutionary agenda.
Besides overhauling a moribund economy, Sharif, with his conservative Pakistan Muslim League, wants to end his country’s decades-old feud with India and put Pakistan’s meddlesome generals in their place.
It is a programme that has won him fans even among left-leaning critics who oppose his conservatism. It has also raised hopes in India and Afghanistan.
Sharif stages comeback in landmark Pakistan election
(Reuters) – Toppled in a 1999 coup, jailed and exiled, Nawaz Sharif has made a triumphant election comeback and was heading for a third term as Pakistan’s prime minister.
The polls were a landmark, marking the first time one elected government will replace another. But the vote failed to realize the hopes of many that dynastic politics would end after years of misrule and corruption.
Pakistan Election 2013: Imran Khan Becoming Pakistan’s Game-Changer
With only a little over a week left until the general elections, Pakistan’s politicians are starting to boost their campaigning efforts for the final stretch and one candidate in specific – cricketer turned politician Imran Khan — has been gaining momentum unlike any other. If things go his way, as polls indicate, this election could be exactly what Pakistan needs to break away from the “status quo” and turn things around for the better.
Pakistan faces ‘serious’ funding pressures
(Emerging Markets) A likely decline in Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves is putting it on an ‘unsustainable’ path, a senior ADB official says
The ADB’s Pakistan country director, Werner Liepach, warned in March that the country was running out of money and would need to secure loan commitments of up to $9 billion by the end of the year. Liepach said Pakistan faced a “critical” balance of payments situation, noting that the country has enough hard currency to cover only two months of imports.
Even that number has fallen – by the end of April Pakistan’s hard currency reserves amounted to only around 45 days worth of imports. The IMF considers between two and three months’ imports coverage the bare minimum required for any developing country seeking to cushion itself against sovereign bankruptcy. “The way they are going, the path they are on, is clearly unsustainable,” Gerhaeusser added.
Pakistan prosecutor in Bhutto case shot dead
Gunmen kill Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali in Islamabad on his way to a hearing over former prime minister’s murder.
(Al Jazeera) A motive for the killing was unclear, but his involvement in two particularly high-profile cases will likely be scrutinised closely.
Zulfiqar was also leading the investigation into a case related to the 2008 terrorist attack on the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people. (BBC) Obituary: Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali — one of Pakistan’s most dynamic criminal lawyers, defying multiple death threats to pursue cases against suspects with powerful – and sometimes militant – connections.
Pakistan’s former military leader Pervez Musharraf flees court as it orders his arrest
Before officials could act, the former commando was hurried away by his security team and sped off in a black SUV
Pervez Musharraf banned from standing in Pakistani elections
Officials disqualify former military dictator in blow to his hopes of political comeback
(The Guardian) The ex-president was disqualified from running in four separate constituencies after failing to meet constitutional requirements to protect the independence of the country’s judiciary..
Taliban Spread Terror in Karachi as the New Gang in Town
(NYT) Taliban gunmen have mounted guerrilla assaults on police stations, killing scores of officers. They have stepped up extortion rackets that target rich businessmen and traders, and shot dead public health workers engaged in polio vaccination efforts. In some neighborhoods, Taliban clerics have started to mediate disputes through a parallel judicial system.
The grab for influence and power in Karachi shows that the Taliban have been able to extend their reach across Pakistan, even here in the country’s most populous city, with about 20 million inhabitants. No longer can they be written off as endemic only to the country’s frontier regions.
Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai to publish a book
(BBC) Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban in October, has signed a book deal worth about $3m (£2m).
Malala, 15, who campaigns for girls’ education, says the memoir is her own story and that of millions of others denied the chance to go to school.
Snoopy Ice Cream Parlour and the real story of Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping
(Foreign Policy) Last Sunday afternoon, Pakistan’s leading English daily newspaper, Dawn, published headline news of the arrest of a militant tied to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a domestic sectarian militant group: “Former LeJ chief involved in Daniel Pearl murder arrested in Karachi.” The article trumpeted the arrest as “yet another success” of “security forces” in their “ongoing targeted operation against militants and lawbreakers in Karachi.”
Most certainly, the news that Pakistan’s elite Rangers force arrested Pakistani militant Abdul Hayee is important. He has a long criminal record, linked to bombings, sectarian assassinations against Shia targets and domestic mayhem. U.S. President Barack Obama, the Justice Department, and the State Department should press for Hayee to be prosecuted.
… As the Pearl Project showed, this single arrest of Abdul Hayee won’t be enough. Pakistan needs to prosecute all of the 14 men allegedly involved in Pearl’s kidnapping, and it needs to shut down, dismantle and destroy the “jihad factories,” as one regional security expert calls them, that created them and support them today. In a prescient article published in the last days of December 2001, after reporting in the city of Bahawalpur in south Punjab, home to many militant groups, Danny Pearl himself cast a jaundiced eye at the announcement of the arrest of 50 “extremists or terrorists,” noting that despite Pakistani government claims that the offices of extremists had been shut down, “posters praising holy war still hung inside.”
Return of an erstwhile king
(The Economist) … He finds not a trace of the power and significance he once wielded.
He has come to contest elections, which are scheduled for May 11th, or as he put it, “to save Pakistan”. The nation could certainly use some sort of rescue, but Mr Musharraf will face stiff competition in the field of men who are offering themselves as its saviour. In particular this means another former minister who is also his bitter enemy, Nawaz Sharif, and a famous cricketer-turned politician, Imran Khan. And though the outgoing government of the Pakistan Peoples Party failed to achieve much good on any front, its re-election cannot be ruled out.
Mr Musharraf’s lack of popularity, or any kind of political base, is only one of his challenges. Foremost is a threat to his life, from the Pakistani Taliban and allied extremist groups. He survived two well-planned assassination attempts while he was president and army chief. He will now enjoy nowhere near the level of security that saved his life then.
Musharraf returns to Pakistan amid death threats
Musharraf seeks possible political comeback in defiance of judicial probes and death threats
(CBC) Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf ended more than four years in self-exile Sunday with a flight to his homeland, seeking a possible political comeback in defiance of judicial probes and death threats from Taliban militants. … Musharraf represents a polarizing force that could further complicate Pakistan’s attempt to hold parliamentary elections in May and stage its first transition from one civilian government to another.
Election time in Pakistan
Hollow milestone – A democratic government completes a full term, to little applause
(The Economist) The election, which Mr Zardari announced on March 20th, is scheduled for May 11th. It is historic because it will mark the first time that a democratic government in a country prone to military coups has completed its five-year term, to be succeeded (almost certainly) by another elected government. That ought to be cause for celebration in a country where the army has so often stepped in to halt experiments in democracy. Yet the mismanagement and naked moneymaking under Mr Zardari have been such that this political milestone gets few cheers from Pakistanis.
Husain Haqqani: Breaking Up Is Not Hard to Do
(Foreign Affairs Mar/Apr 2013) Instead of continuing their endless battling, the United States and Pakistan should acknowledge that their interests simply do not converge enough to make them strong partners. Giving up the fiction of an alliance would free up Washington to explore new ways of achieving its goals in South Asia. And it would allow Islamabad to finally pursue its regional ambitions — which would either succeed once and for all or, more likely, teach Pakistani officials the limitations of their country’s power.
Unrest and Political Uncertainty Pakistan Tumbles into Chaos
A self-proclaimed revolutionary is attracting mass protests, while the highest court has ordered the prime minister’s arrest and the military waits in the wings. Pakistan is in the grips of a major political upheaval.
(Spiegel) The contrast between the images couldn’t be any more striking. In Islamabad, people could be seen celebrating in front of the parliament building. Men patted each other on the shoulder and hopped around in circles. Women waved green flags emblazoned with the white crescent symbol and sang. “Nizam Badlo!” they call out repeatedly. “Change the System!” They had convened to celebrate Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a government critic and their self-proclaimed revolutionary leader, and the decision made by the country’s Supreme Court to allow the arrest of Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on suspicion of corruption and nepotism.
But television stations also broadcasted images from many other parts of the country, where instead of celebrations one could see angry crowds protesting Ashraf’s arrest. Some are rioting, and in Karachi people could be seen firing their guns into the air. Others are cursing Tahir-ul-Qadri, who they accuse of not having any respect for the government or the Pakistani people, who voted for the current leaders democratically during elections in spring 2008. Pakistan currently finds itself in a state of crisis. The nuclear power is facing a test that it doesn’t appear capable of withstanding. In any case, the country will be facing a national election this spring, by May at the latest.
Preview of 2012: The predictable uncertainty of Pakistan’s political economy
It is a mixed bag that awaits Pakistan in 2012, though most of it is bad news. If at all, the silver lining may be that the country continues to move along with all its problems, in the hope that things will get better in the coming years.
Pakistan enters 2012 with a great deal of uncertainty. Many predict this will be election year in the country as tensions continue between the government, the military and the judiciary. Others argue that the government has regained its balance and is now in a position to trudge through to 2013 – the scheduled end of its tenure.
Benazir Bhutto son Bilawal gives Pakistan political vow
(BBC) The son of Pakistan’s murdered ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has promised to fight militancy to maintain democracy, in his first major political speech.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told party supporters marking five years since his mother’s death that she “sacrificed her life to uphold democracy”.
Ms Bhutto died in a gun and bomb attack during her 2007 election campaign.
Her son, whose father is President Asif Ali Zardari, has so far kept a low profile as party chairman.
In remarks carried by Pakistan state television, Mr Bhutto Zardari told a crowd of tens of thousands of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supporters near his family’s shrine in Sindh province that the people were “the source of power”.
“The beacon of democracy continues to shine,” he said, pledging that his party would fight militancy and extremism to create a peaceful, democratic Pakistan.
Parents Worry After Malala Attack
(IPS) – Young schoolgirls seemed undeterred by the attempt to kill Malala Yousafzai, but parents in northern Pakistan are becoming increasingly concerned over their children going to school.
“My wife and I are very concerned about the security of our children because Taliban militants are now looking for soft targets like schoolgirls,” Zawar Hussain, a government official whose three daughters study at University Model School, the biggest girls school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan told IPS.
By Shahid Javed Burki, former Finance Minister of Pakistan and Vice President of the World Bank, current Chairman of the Institute of Public Policy in Lahore.
(Project Syndicate) The Taliban seem to have been taken aback by the public and media reaction to the attack. Dawn, Pakistan’s largest-circulation English-language newspaper, reported that Hakimullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban’s leader, had ordered his foot soldiers to target media organizations in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Islamabad in response. Several TV channels had been extremely critical of the Taliban’s assaults on Pakistani society. The extremists wanted to silence the majority that was waking up to the existential threat that radical Islam poses to their country.
There is a widespread belief that Pakistani women are doing poorly when it comes to obtaining education. That impression is correct to some extent. The overall literacy rate for women is undoubtedly low – much lower than that for men. But male education and literacy in Pakistan is not very high, either. Although Pakistan is a signatory to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which include attainment of universal literacy for both boys and girls by 2015, the country is far from achieving the target, with literacy rates of 70% for boys and only 45% for girls in 2010.
That said, over the 17-year period from 1993 to 2010, the number of girls enrolled in primary education increased from 3.7 million to 8.3 million. This implies a rate of growth of 6.7% a year, about 2.5 times the rate of increase in the number of girls entering the primary-school age cohort. But, even with this growth rate, girls still accounted for just 44.3% of the total number of enrolled students in 2010.
Pakistanis Fear Resurgent Taliban in Swat Valley
(Spiegel) Tuesday’s shooting of a 14-year-old advocate of girls’ education in Pakistan has shocked and appalled the world. Doctors say Malala Yousufzai will most likely survive the attack, but it has still left Pakistanis outraged — and afraid that a return of the Taliban’s fundamentalist rule might lie ahead. …
In December 2011, when Yousufzai was awarded Pakistan’s first National Peace Prize, Ahasnullah Ahsan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, announced that she had been placed on the extremists’ hit list.
After this week’s attack, the same spokesman told reporters that Yousufzai is a “symbol of Western culture” and was propagating it in a Pashtun area. “She is against Islam and spreads secular thoughts,” he said. He also added that, if she survives, she will remain a target for assassination — as well as her family and, in particular, her father, who runs a private school in the Swat Valley. “According to Islamic law,” he said, “whoever acts against Islam must be killed.”
International Day of the Girl–Oct 11th
(CBC Homerun) This comes as a young school girl in Pakistan lies in critical condition after being shot by a Taliban gunman. She was a vocal advocate of girls’ education. Saman Ahsan is the Executive Director of the Girls Action Foundation in Montreal.
Pakistani schoolgirl shot by Taliban moved to army HQ hospital
(Yahoo! News) A Pakistani schoolgirl fighting for her life after being shot by Taliban gunmen was transferred on Thursday from a hospital in a province that is a militant haven to a specialist hospital in the army garrison town of Rawalpindi.
Malala Yousufzai, 14, was unconscious in critical condition after being shot in the head and neck as she left school on Tuesday, but doctors said she had moved her arms and legs slightly the night before.
Pakistani surgeons removed a bullet on Wednesday from Yousufzai who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out against the militants and promoting education for girls.
Her courage made her a national hero. The shooting has drawn condemnation from world leaders and many Pakistanis.
Why the Taliban are afraid of a 14-year-old girl
(Globe & Mail editorial) A groundswell of anger at the brutal authoritarianism of self-appointed dictators gave the world the Arab Spring. Now the Muslim world needs a groundswell against the evil of the Taliban, another self-appointed group that seeks to rule by violence and terror.
This is a movement afraid of a 14-year-old girl who loves to read and write. The Taliban are not strong; they are weak. They targeted Malala Yousafzai for a Mafia-style murder because she insisted publicly on the right of girls to go to school. And why are the Taliban afraid? Because they can’t stand up to the power of that simple idea. They have no defence against it except bullets and bombs.
What has Malala Yousafzai done to the Taliban?
The attempted assassination of a 14-year-old girl was driven by pathological hatred of women – not politics, as the Taliban claim
Shooting of Pakistani schoolgirl denounced
Surgeons in Pakistan today removed a bullet from a 14-year-old girl shot by Taliban gunmen for advocating education for girls. The attack on Malala Yousufzai — who is in critical condition — has galvanized the country and moved army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to condemn the incident and the “twisted ideology” of the unidentified perpetrators. Reuters (10/10), The Washington Post/The Associated Press (10/10)
Bharat Karnad: Partition woes continue
The unfinished business of Partition is not Kashmir, as Pakistan claims, but the fact that Pakistan cannot find social peace and Bangladesh cannot keep its people within its borders.
(The New Indian Express) Think of an India without Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, animists, whoever, in our composite culture, in our everyday lives – it is inconceivable, it is unthinkable. Minority communities are part of the warp and woof of what India is. This India was not lost at Partition. In this country it has flourished, even prospered.
That India is, however, lost to Pakistan. At the parting, West Pakistan had as many Hindus as India had Muslims, roughly 13 per cent of the population. Systematic, officially-condoned, pogroms led to Hindus and Sikhs being terrorised, evicted, and reduced to less than 2 per cent, with this figure zeroing out with every new atrocity. Pakistan is diminished as it loses social equanimity and democratic ballast that minorities provide a country. That wonderful patchwork of communities living, at times fist by jowl, unravels, a handful of threads at a time. The next outflow may well be of Ahmediyyas as, even the luminaries among them, such as the late physics Nobelist, Abdus Salam, are hounded, finding no peace even in death – their graves desecrated because the headstones carry Quranic verses.
Long road ahead in U.S.-Pakistan ties after NATO deal
(Reuters) – Pakistan and the United States are set to resume broader talks on security cooperation, militant threats, aid and other issues in the wake of an agreement to reopen supply routes into Afghanistan, Pakistan’s envoy to Washington said on Thursday.
But bridging underlying differences that strained U.S.-Pakistani ties close to the breaking point will be daunting as the allies remain at odds over how to handle the twin threats of the Taliban in Afghanistan and militants in Pakistani tribal areas.
Pakistan’s turbulent politics — First days of the Raja
(The Economist|Banyan) The temperature in Pakistan’s hyper-activist Supreme Court must have reached boiling point after Raja Pervez Ashraf was chosen on June 22nd as the candidate of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for prime minister. His predecessor, Yousaf Raza Gilani, was thrown out of the job this week by their Lordships. [Editor's note: Mr Gilani was dismissed by the Supreme Court for refusing to pursue corruption charges against Asif Ali Zardari, the president.]
The PPP had initially chosen Makhdoom Shahabuddin, an aristocratic former health minister, as the next prime minister, on June 20th. But by the following day it had to hurriedly ditch him, after a warrant was issued for his arrest. While he was health minister, the ministry approved the import of a huge quantity of a chemical that can be used to manufacture ecstasy pills and other narcotics.
The choice of Mr Ashraf is deeply problematic. He is known to all Pakistan as “Raja Rental”, for presiding over deals which involved the government paying cronies to set up temporary or “rental” power plants, to plug the crippling shortfall in electricity supply, while he was energy minister.
Pakistan and the United States — Bazaar bargaining
These days just talking seems accomplishment enough
(The Economist) ON JUNE 4th an unmanned CIA “drone” aircraft struck in Pakistan’s remote tribal area of North Waziristan, apparently killing al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, Abu Yahya al-Libi. The American administration, which had put a $1m price on his head, cheered the news.
Pakistan ought, by rights, to have cheered the news too. After all, Mr Libi had called upon Pakistani Muslims to rise up against the civilian and military establishment. Instead, Mr Libi’s presumed death only deepened the rift between two supposed allies. Patriotic Pakistanis greatly resent the drone attacks over their territory. The country’s armed forces felt humiliated by the secret American raid on Abbottabad a year ago that got Osama bin Laden. They were furious that 24 soldiers, manning a post on the border with Afghanistan, were killed last November by American aircraft in a ghastly “friendly fire” incident, and the government demanded an apology it has yet to receive. At a NATO summit in Chicago last month, President Barack Obama refused to meet his counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, without Pakistan’s agreement to reopen the southern route supplying the war in Afghanistan that Pakistan closed in a huff late last year.
Pakistan’s Briefcase Warriors
(Foreign Affairs) … Unless these four reforms are put into effect, Pakistan’s civilian managerial capacity, which has already been hollowed out, will become irretrievably damaged. The formal type of government in Pakistan, whether electoral democracy or dictatorship, will cease to matter as a majority of its people live at the mercy of local mafias. It is time that we realize that the quality of governance that prevails within a state cannot be better than the quality of the servants of that state.
Four Pakistani journalists murdered in a month
According to IPI’s Death Watch, at least 59 journalists have been killed in Pakistan since the year 2000, making it one of the most dangerous countries for journalists.
Malik Siraj Akbar, editor-in-chief of the online news outlet, The Baloch Hal, points out that a relatively brief period of free editorial coverage, following the launch in 2002 of 24-hour TV news channels, has been compromised.
He reports that journalists “are pressured to provide more airtime to the government, opposition parties and armed groups.” This “makes it impossible for journalists to work freely without irking any of the power centres.”
Oscar spotlights acid attacks on Pakistani women
A film on a British plastic surgeon who performs reconstructive surgery on Pakistani women who are attacked by men with acid, “Saving Face,” won the Academy Award on Sunday for best short documentary. “It took one second to ruin my life completely,” said Naeema Azar, who was blinded in an acid attack by her ex-husband. “My face was ruined and nobody was punished at all.” The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/India Ink blog (2/27)
Pakistan urges Afghan Taliban to enter peace talks
(Reuters) – Pakistan on Friday urged leaders of the Afghan Taliban movement to enter direct peace negotiations with Kabul, a possible sign that Islamabad is stepping up support for reconciliation in neighboring Afghanistan.
Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud reportedly killed in U.S. drone attack
The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, the militant movement that poses the gravest security threat to the country, is believed to have been killed by a U.S. drone strike, four Pakistan intelligence officials told Reuters on Sunday.
The officials said they intercepted wireless radio chatter between Taliban fighters detailing how Hakimullah Mehsud was killed while travelling in a convoy to a meeting in the North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border.
Pakistani president and army chief meet amid crisis
Shahid Javed Burki: Pakistan on the Precipice
Political change in Pakistan is assured, but it will come about in a way that cannot be foreseen. The Arab Spring, America’s declining influence in the Muslim world, and citizens’ determination to be heard have combined to create an environment in which the unprecedented and the unpredictable are the only certainties.
(Project Syndicate) Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari abruptly returned to Karachi on the morning of December 19, following a 13-day absence for medical treatment in Dubai. Zardari faces unprecedented challenges to his hold on power – and has committed unprecedented mistakes that have weakened it
Pakistan army rejects US findings on border attack
American investigation concludes mistakes on both sides led to US air strikes killing 24 Pakistani soldiers
(The Guardian) The Pakistani army has said its troops did nothing wrong and claimed the attack was a deliberate act of aggression.
Pakistan has retaliated by closing its Afghan border to supplies meant for Nato troops in Afghanistan and kicking the US out of a base used by American drones. Nato officials have said the closure of the supply route has not affected operations so far, but will eventually if not reversed.
Pakistan army chief says coup fears “speculation”
(Reuters) – Pakistan’s powerful military pledged on Friday to continue supporting democracy, reiterating it was not planning a takeover as tensions grew over a controversial memo alleging an army plot to seize power.
At the same time, President Asif Ali Zardari’s spokesman said he had resumed duties after returning from medical treatment in Dubai and has no intention of leaving over the scandal, which has undermined the already deeply unpopular president.
Imran Khan: Pakistan’s next leader?
(Al Jazeera) For years his political ambitions have been overshadowed by his cricket career. Now, his popularity as a politician has suddenly increased massively and his message to get rid of corruption and to cut military links with the US is resonating with Pakistanis. Could Imran Khan become the next prime minister or even president of Pakistan? And how would he end corruption and violence in his country?
Terry Glavin: Pakistan and the U.S. can finally stop pretending
(Ottawa Citizen) In Pakistan, that corrupt military-industrial complex that masquerades as a UN member state, the political elites are getting their jollies this week by whipping mobs into paroxysms of paranoid chauvinism and effigy-burning. The White House, Pakistan’s chief benefactor, has been told in the most unambiguous way that from now on, it had better stop giving orders and start following them. Pakistan’s distemper is supposed to be about last weekend’s shootout between NATO helicopters and what turned out to be a Pakistani border post on the Kunar-Mohmand frontier. Afghan military sources say the Pakistanis shot first. Pakistani generals say it was an unprovoked American attack on Pakistan’s unblemished honour and integrity. In any event, 24 Pakistani soldiers ended up dead, and we’re supposed to believe that it’s because everyone’s so sensitive that Pakistan is shutting its border crossings to NATO supply convoys, banning the BBC from Pakistani airwaves, setting American flags on fire and snubbing the Bonn summit.
Pakistan vows to “eradicate” Haqqanis
(AP via CBS) Pakistan’s president promised to work with the United States to “eradicate” the militant Haqqani network, a pledge made during a meeting with visiting American congressmen, according to one of the lawmakers.
But the head of the Homeland Security delegation, Michael McCaul, downplayed the significance of the remarks, saying it was unclear whether President Asif Ali Zardari had the power to make good on his pledge, given the influence of the military in Pakistan.
According to McCaul, Zardari also appeared to brush off threats that U.S. aid spending to Pakistan could be significantly cut if Islamabad did not do more to squeeze insurgents like the Haqqanis, who are based in northwest Pakistan but attack U.S. and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.
U.S. may add Haqqani Network to terror list
Rolling back the Taliban in Pakistan
(Foreign Policy) Recently the tide in Mohmand and Bajaur has turned decisively in the Pakistani military’s favor. For the first time in four years, militants have lost the territory they once openly controlled. Whether the tide turns back, or whether these tribal areas even matter given the larger challenges Pakistan faces, is another question entirely.
Christopher Hitchens: Pakistan Is the Enemy
We know that Pakistan’s intelligence service is aiding terrorists. What are we going to do about it?
(Slate)So what will President Obama do, now that the Pakistani political leadership has openly declared its whole state to be lawless, and outside the jurisdiction of U.N. resolutions, and available as a base for terrorist operations against our Afghan and Indian friends?
In this context, the murder last week of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former Afghan warlord-president who headed the country’s so-called “High Peace Council,” may not necessarily be the “blow” to any “peace process” that truly merits the phrase. We allow ourselves to forget that many Afghans are deeply suspicious of a negotiation that refers to the Taliban—in President Hamid Karzai’s euphemistic words—as lost or alienated “brothers.” … the overdue decision to call these enemies by their right names is so potentially significant, and will, one hopes, soon be followed by a complete breach with those we have been so humiliatingly subsidizing to sabotage us.
The Evolution of a Pakistani Militant Network
For many years now, STRATFOR has been carefully following the evolution of “Lashkar-e-Taiba” (LeT), the name of a Pakistan-based jihadist group that was formed in 1990 and existed until about 2001, when it was officially abolished.
While the most famous leaders of the LeT networks, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, are under house arrest and in jail awaiting trial, respectively, LeT still poses a significant threat. It’s a threat that comes not so much from LeT as a single jihadist force but LeT as a concept, a banner under which various groups and individuals can gather, coordinate and successfully conduct attacks.
Abduction spotlights perils of aid work in Pakistan
The abduction on Saturday of an American aid worker from his home in Lahore, Pakistan, highlights the dangers faced by foreign contractors and nongovernmental organizations in a country where even local aid organizations report security concerns. Warren Weinstein, the head of a consulting firm working on dairy and gem trade projects funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, was kidnapped after eight armed assailants broke into the gated house, according to police. The Christian Science Monitor (8/13), The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (8/13)
Pakistan’s Middle Class Extremists
(Foreign Affairs) Policymakers have converged on economic development as a key to ending terrorism, in the belief that poorer people are more susceptible to the appeals of violent groups. In fact, in Pakistan, the poor are less supportive of militant groups than the middle class.
… there is no evidence that economic development changes attitudes toward violent militant groups, or even that it is the poor whose attitudes are problematic.
There are many good reasons to offer development assistance, but counter-radicalization, counterinsurgency, and counterterrorism are not among them.
Pakistan’s nuclear-bomb maker says North Korea paid bribes for know-how
(WaPost via Foreign Policy) Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, released documents that he said proves that North Korean officials paid millions of dollars to top members of the Pakistani military establishment in exchange for nuclear technology.
One of the documents provided by Khan included a North Korean letter dated July 15, 1998, which reported that $3 million had been paid to Jehangir Karamat, then the chief of staff of the Pakistani army. The letter also stated that $500,000, as well as three “diamond and ruby sets,” had been paid to Lt. Gen. Zulfiqar Khan. Both officials denounced the letter as a fake.
A senior U.S. official said that the signature on the letter appeared authentic, and that the account was consistent with the U.S. government’s knowledge of events. The former IAEA official charged with investigating Khan said that he had also heard similar accounts of bribes paid by North Korea to Pakistani military officials.
Think Again: Failed States
(Foreign Policy Magazine July/August 2011)) In his new book, Weak Links, scholar Stewart Patrick concludes that “a middle-ranking group of weak — but not yet failing — states (e.g., Pakistan, Kenya) may offer more long-term advantages to terrorists than either anarchic zones or strong states.” (See “The Brutal Truth.”) Terrorists need infrastructure, too. The 9/11 attacks, after all, were directed from Afghanistan, but were financed and coordinated in Europe and more stable parts of the Muslim world, and were carried out mostly by citizens of Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda is a largely middle-class organization.
Pakistan’s Spies Tied to Slaying of a Journalist
(NYT via Foreign Policy) U.S. officials have obtained classified intelligence that shows senior officials in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the country’s premier spy agency, ordered the abduction and murder of Saleem Shahzad, a well-known Pakistani journalist.
Shahzad, who had written extensively about the relationship between militants and the Pakistani military, disappeared on May 29. He was found dead two days later in a canal outside of Islamabad, his body showing signs of torture. He had recently published an article that accused al Qaeda of masterminding the May 22 attack on a Pakistani naval base in Karachi, and said that the attackers were aided by maps provided from compatriots in the base.
Bin Laden was talking to terrorists. So?
(CSM) That may not seem like a big deal. But a New York Times scoop today does advance the case that Pakistan’s intelligence services may have known of bin Laden’s whereabouts.
The New York Times reports today, citing unnamed US officials, that a cellphone recovered after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden shows that one of his trusted couriers was in touch with a Pakistani militant group that, in turn, has long had close ties to Pakistan‘s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Pakistan ranks 12th on failed states index: Report
(The Express Tribune) The report titled “The Failed States Index 2011” compiles a list of countries in terms of vulnerability. From refugee flows to poverty, public services to security threats, the list takes together a country’s performance on this battery of indicators to reflect its stability.
In both 2009 and 2010, Pakistan took the number 10 spot on this index, whereas in 2008 it was ranked number nine.
Postcards from Hell
(Foreign Policy) It may not top the Failed States Index, but Pakistan has long been dubbed the world’s most dangerous country in Washington policy circles — a notion only reinforced when al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was found and killed just minutes away from a national military academy near Islamabad on May 2. Tick off any checklist of U.S. national security concerns, and Pakistan has them all: nuclear weapons, terrorist and insurgent groups galore, and rampant anti-American sentiment. Add to all this a volatile political system, and it’s no wonder that Pakistan preoccupies so many Western security analysts.
Yet Pakistan isn’t just dangerous for the West — it’s often a danger to its own people. It is Pakistanis who have paid the highest price for terrorist attacks in recent years. Thousands have died in attacks on Pakistani soil. Worse yet still, last summer’s floods reportedly affected 14 million people; 650,000 houses were destroyed.
Missing Pakistan journalist Saleem Shahzad found dead near Islamabad
(The Guardian) Shahzad’s body was discovered less than two days after he was allegedly abducted by ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service
What Pakistan’s ISI doesn’t want the world to know about Osama bin Laden’s couriers
(CSM) Residents of the couriers’ hometown report being intimidated by intelligence agencies, which are under the spotlight today after a prominent Pakistani journalist was found dead.
US-Pakistan relations ‘at turning point’ after killing of Bin Laden, warns Clinton
(The Guardian) Islamabad must take decisive steps against terrorism, says secretary of state after meeting President Asif Ali Zardari
Pakistan: A failed state or a clever gambler?
(BBC) Since 9/11 the US has provided Pakistan – or more accurately the Pakistani military – with more than $20bn (£12bn) in aid. It’s a huge sum which some believe has prevented the country from slipping into bankruptcy.
Police stand at the scene of a suicide bomb blast in Dir, north-western Pakistan. Photo: April 2011 Pakistan has long faced frequent suicide bomb attacks
But the argument already being made in the US Congress is this: why should America, itself facing a massive debt mountain, be giving money to Pakistan’s military leaders if they fail to offer full support to US goals in South Asia?
The problem is that Pakistan is preparing for American defeat in Afghanistan. In fact, it has been doing so for nearly a decade. Within weeks of America’s 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan concluded the Americans could not win there.
The ISI and Terrorism: Behind the Accusations
(Council on Foreign Relations) Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has long faced accusations of meddling in the affairs of its neighbors. A range of officials inside and outside Pakistan have stepped up suggestions of links between the ISI and terrorist groups in recent years.
World Food Programme: Pakistan – Flood Impact Assessment, September 2010
The 2010 monsoon flood disaster in Pakistan has been massive and unprecedented, killing more than 1,700 persons, affecting over 20 percent of the land area, more than 14 million people, and causing billions of dollars in losses and damages to infrastructure, housing, agriculture and livestock, and other family assets. Essential infrastructure including roads, bridges and markets has been severely damaged and many remain impassable.
This Assessment aims to quantify the extent of damage and displacement caused by the floods, and their immediate impact on household assets, livelihoods, food consumption and nutrition. It also identifies critical protection, health, water and sanitation issues.
The huge scale of Pakistan’s complicity
(Globe & Mail) Thanks to WikiLeaks, the involvement of Inter-Services Intelligence in the Afghan conflict is now obvious, argues Chris Alexander, Canada’s former ambassador to Afghanistan
Wikileaks: Pakistan’s Double Game
(NYT) If President Obama cannot persuade Islamabad to cut its ties to, and then aggressively fight, the extremists in Pakistan, there is no hope of defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Charles Cogan: “Pakistan: A Two-Speed Society, Destination Unclear”
(HuffPost) Pakistan is a two-speed society. On the one hand there are the civil and military elites, the latter being mostly Punjabi’s, the prized martial class of the period of the British Raj. On the other hand are the rest, notably the masses, first conditioned by the Third World “non-aligned” (and implicitly anti-American) rhetoric of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Then, when nationalist movements became discredited in the Arab and Muslim world, radical Islam, with its image of a future Islamist state in Pakistan, rose to replace nationalism as the rallying point, and the ideological beacon, for popular discontent.