Mitch Joel WARNING... LONG RANT! It takes a lot for me to both get angry and publish about it. Canada’s…
An India-Pakistan Crisis: Should We Care?
(War on the Rocks) The world has recently been reminded of just how tenuous the India-Pakistan relationship remains. Bilateral tensions have been alarmingly high since a September 18 terrorist attack in Uri in the disputed territory of Kashmir killed 19 Indian soldiers. India blamed Pakistan, and responded by using military force inside Pakistan-controlled territory. Since that incident, both sides have continued to exchange fire across the Line of Control that divides Indian and Pakistani Kashmir, resulting in significant military and civilian casualties. The situation flared up significantly last week after India claimed that Pakistani commandos had killed three Indian soldiers. Days earlier, Pakistan reported that it had lost seven soldiers to Indian firing in one night.
India and Pakistan are the only regional nuclear states in the world to be locked in an acutely crisis-prone relationship. Heightened crises offer terrorists the most realistic opportunities to breach Pakistani and Indian nuclear security protocols and gain access to their arsenals. Further, experts predict that an India-Pakistan nuclear exchange could “blot out the sun, starving much of the human race.”. It could be the end of the world as we know it.
The dangers of an India-Pakistan crisis going nuclear have been repeatedly highlighted in simulations and scenario exercises sponsored by the U.S. government in recent years. These exercises concluded that a crisis can escalate to an active conflict with relative ease and that once underway, India and Pakistan do not know how to keep a war limited. A number of the simulations have ended with Indian and Pakistani nuclear strikes against each other.
Pakistan sleepwalking into Jihadi terrorism
The Pakistani establishment is perhaps in the last stages of its final surrender to jihadi terror, as the author warns, and while this is alarmingly toxic for the hapless citizens of that state—for the region and the world at large—the jihadi sword now has a menacing nuclear tip
By C Uday Bhaskar
(The Financial Express) In a persuasive survey of over 400 pages, Khaled Ahmed, one of Pakistan’s most respected and insightful journalists, provides a vivid account of a macabre and murderous trajectory that the Pakistani ruling elite opted for by investing in ideologically-motivated terror, with tragic consequences for itself and the extended region.
Mumbai 2008 and Uri, which is the latest terror attack on India, have a history that can be traced back to early 1990 in its current variant. The more diligent history buff can perhaps link the penchant for terror among the same elite to August 1946 and the organised killings in then Calcutta. And India is not the only target of such murderous attention. Afghanistan has been subjected to similar trauma over the past two decades and the linkage of many global terror-related incidents to the crucible in Pakistan is familiar litany.
See also Pakistan 2011-2012Pakistan hospital bomb attack kills dozens in Quetta
(BBC) The casualties included lawyers and journalists accompanying the body of Bilal Anwar Kasi.
A faction of the Pakistani Taliban has said it was behind the bombing.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar said it had also carried out the earlier attack on Mr Kasi, who was president of the Balochistan Bar Association and had been shot while on his way from his home to the main court complex in Quetta.
Pakistan sees rise in honour killings
(AP) Some human rights and women’s rights activists believe honor killings have been inching up and showing greater brutality as the older generation tries to dig in against creeping change. Over the years, more women have been going to school and working outside the home, even among lower and lower middle class, and use of social media has helped women raise their voices.
“The old order of misogyny and extremism is falling apart, is really crumbling,” says Marvi Sermid, a political commentator and women’s rights activist. Conservative Muslim clerics are furious over the creeping change and are fighting back with regressive changes targeting women, she said.
The changes are a serious challenge to the status quo in Pakistan, where centuries of tradition and culture have tied the idea of a woman as a pristine and untouched commodity to a family’s honor. Deeply conservative traditions have been further strengthened by decades of governments and military dictators who have often curried the support of religious hard-liners with legislation enshrining the old ways.
But more than 70 percent of Pakistan’s 180 million people are under 30, and among the younger, more tech-savvy generation, some are vocally challenging the traditions of their elders to an unprecedented degree.
Pakistani clerics issue fatwa against ‘honour’ killings
Council of influential Sunni clerics condemns the killing of women who marry men of their choosing as a ‘great sin’
An influential group of Pakistani clerics have issued a fatwa against “honour” killings, with a spokesman calling them “unethical and unjustifiable” following a series of attacks on women that have caused national outrage.
The Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) said on Monday that killings such as last week’s murder of teenager Zeenat Bibi in Lahore after she married the man of her choice were a “great sin”.
The edict was backed by up to 40 clerics in the council, a group of Sunni organisations that wields considerable influence in Pakistan’s powerful Punjab province.
Allah has decreed that women should be free to marry whomever they choose so long as both parties are agreed, the SIC’s Punjab general secretary Mufti Saeed Rizvi said.
“So the killing in a normal or in a brutal way (burning alive etc), as was done to the innocent Zeenat recently in Lahore, is absolutely a great sin. All clerics have severely condemned it and declared it an unlawful, unconstitutional, undemocratic, unethical and unjustifiable act that must be stopped by the state at any cost,” he said.
Afghan Taliban announce successor to Mullah Mansour
(BBC) In a statement, the Taliban acknowledged Mansour’s death for the first time and named his successor as Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada.
Analysts say it is unlikely the group will change direction under hardline religious scholar Akhundzada.
Meanwhile, a breakaway faction has rejected the move, saying Akhundzada does not represent the group
The Afghan Taliban named one of Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s deputies, Haibatullah Akhunzada, to succeed him, after confirming Mansour’s death in a U.S. drone strike over the weekend. Akhunzada was the Taliban’s chief justice.
Mullah Mansour: The trail of clues after Taliban leader’s death
The more we find out about Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour the more mysterious he becomes.
“We killed the leader of the Taliban driving across Baluchistan in a taxi,” a former senior State Department official told The New York Times. “I think we have some questions to ask of Pakistan.”
Why the U.S. Killed Mullah Akhtar Mansour in Pakistan—and Why It Matters
(Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama approved the drone strike that killed Mullah Akhtar Mansour because the Taliban leader was overseeing plans for new attacks on American targets in Kabul, the Afghan capital, U.S. officials said on Monday.
Pakistani authorities have said the attack was a violation of the country’s sovereignty, and an official from the foreign ministry told the U.S. ambassador in Islamabad that the attack could “adversely impact” peace talks. U.S. military officials said they had discussed their interest in Mansour with Pakistan.
Reaction from Islamabad was otherwise relatively muted, and a number of questions remained over what happened.
An undamaged Pakistani passport in the name of Wali Muhammad, which Pakistani authorities said contained a visa for Iran, was recovered next to the burned-out car at the scene of the attack and is believed to have belonged to Mansour.
Khurram Zaki: An Election in London, an Assassination in Karachi
(The Wire) The Pakistani human rights worker and online activist Khurram Zaki has been killed in Karachi. Zaki and his friend Khalid Rao were gunned down by assailants at a café on Saturday evening. It was a preplanned strike.
A few hours before his assassination, Zaki posted a scathing critique of Pakistanis for their euphoric reaction to the election of Sadiq Khan as the mayor of London. He said that he viewed Sadiq’s victory as an achievement of “Western secular democracy.” He wrote, “Sadiq Khan is not Pakistani. He is British.”
He went on to say “Pakistan and Islam have played no role in his meteoric rise.” He asked, “Can we in Pakistan ever elect an Ahmadi or Hindu or Christian PM? Forget that, we have deprived all legal powers and discretions of a democratically elected mayor of the third largest city in the world (Karachi) on the basis of his ethnicity.”
Zaki, a former television journalist, was also known as an Islamic scholar. He was a member of the editorial board of the blog/website and the Facebook page, Let Us Build Pakistan. The objective of the blog was to “spread liberal religious views and condemned extremism in all forms”. Recently, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority blocked the blog in Pakistan.
For the past few years, Khurram Zaki has been campaigning against extremist religious groups in Pakistan.
Pakistan Went From No Executions To Hundreds In Just One Year
(HuffPost) The worldwide use of the death penalty has hit a more than 25-year high and Pakistan is one of the main reasons for the spike, according to Amnesty International’s annual report.
Pakistan ended a six-year moratorium on capital punishment at the end of 2014, before executing over 326 people last year. The country’s enormous surge in executions places it among the world’s most active executioners. The country tops even Saudi Arabia, which executed 158 people in 2015, more people than it had killed in two decades.
The stark shift in Pakistan’s number of executions is related to a deadly attack on a school in Peshawar by the Pakistani Taliban, which killed over 140 students and staff in December 2014. The government announced that it would end the moratorium on the death penalty in the wake of the attack, but only for terrorism-related offenses. This soon changed, however, and in March 2015 the death penalty was broadened to cover all crimes.
Pakistan’s executions place it third in Amnesty’s rankings of executing countries for 2015, below Iran in second place and China in first. North Korea is excluded from the totals due to difficulty in independently verifying reports of executions in the secretive country. Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United States, along with Egypt and Somalia are listed as some of the world’s other persistent executioners.
Bina Shah: Religious extremists will never succeed in taking over Pakistan
As long as we have our humanity, we will still remain united as Pakistanis, no matter who we choose to call our God
(The Guardian) Religious minorities are an indelible part of the fabric of Pakistani society; they are represented by the white stripe on the Pakistani flag. This is echoed in the words of founding father Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s most famous speech: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”
While Jinnah’s message of secularism never caught on in Pakistan, religious coexistence has always had a well-defined place in the Pakistani way of life. The horrific suicide bombing in Lahore on Easter Sunday once again reminded us of the vulnerability of Pakistan’s Christians, and of the fragility of coexistence.
The Jamaat ul-Ahrar soon issued a statement: their target had been Christians celebrating Easter, although they said they never intended to hurt women or children, only Christian males. Their words belied the indiscriminate cruelty of their attack.
They also reflect the fact that the Pakistani Taliban have been weakened by the continued military operation against them in the tribal belt and in Karachi. They have now splintered into smaller groups, acting not as a cohesive unit but as lone wolves and renegades that hit soft targets like schools and parks because they can no longer reach military targets or security installations.
Pakistan’s politicians also to blame for Lahore attack
The Pakistan Taliban may have lost the war, but it is being handed propaganda victories on a platter.
(Al Jazeera) Pakistan celebrated its national day last Wednesday with a full military parade in Islamabad, for the second consecutive year. The event used to be a routine matter until the Taliban’s Pakistani offshoot launched a bloody insurgency that has killed more than 70,000 people since 2007.
The ensuing crisis simply made it unsafe to stage the only open-air event attended by the country’s political and military leadership.
The resumption last year of the Pakistan Day parade reflected the marked improvement in security conditions, following the launch of a nationwide counteroffensive in 2014, and provided an important boost to national morale. The same was the case this year, with the government declaring that the counteroffensive was drawing to a successful conclusion.
Those declarations of “mission accomplished” were exposed as hollow half-truths by the suicide bombing attack on an amusement park in the populous eastern city of Lahore on Sunday.
Certainly, the military counteroffensive has deprived the Pakistan Taliban of its territorial strongholds in the tribal areas bordering eastern Afghanistan, just as intelligence-led operations in Karachi and other cities have disrupted urban terrorist activity.
A wise Pakistani state would have encouraged public examination of the political mistakes and socioeconomic conditions that have fuelled the insurgency, so that the nation could come to terms with its greatest tragedy since the loss of its eastern wing, modern-day Bangladesh, in 1971.
Indeed, a brave Pakistan state would have swept aside the false narratives that have long corrupted national politics and returned to the high moral ground upon which Mohammed Ali Jinnah founded the country in 1947.
Is Pakistan Just a Huge Trumpistan?
By Kashif N. Chaudhry
(World Post) … it surprises me how we – as Pakistanis – are so concerned about minority rights in distant lands, while ignoring them in our own.
Everything we hate about trump, aren’t we already doing to the Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan?
How is it fair then to decry Islamophobia in the West, while turning a blind eye to the rampant – and far more putrid – anti-Ahmadi bigotry in Pakistan? This only makes us a bunch of hypocrites, a dishonest people. We dislike Trump but fail to realize that ours is a very huuuuuuuge Trumpistan.
Next time we speak of how minorities are treated in the West, let us also reflect into our own attitudes towards our own minority communities. Let us raise our voice to end our apathy – and their agony. Let us not be that person who cheers in Trump’s rallies. Let us also not be that guy who stays silent when Trump spews his anti-Muslim bigotry. Let us emulate the good Americans who vocally condemn Trump’s rhetoric and stand up with integrity for the rights of American Muslims.
Let us also stand up for the rights of our own. Let us make it known that we will not allow bigotry to flourish in our name anymore. This responsibility falls especially on Pakistan’s majority Sunni Muslims. Reclaim those spaces you have allowed the extremists to occupy, and help write the narrative for a pluralistic and tolerant Pakistan.
Pakistan hangs four convicted of Taliban massacre at school
(Reuters) Pakistan executed four men on Wednesday for involvement in the massacre of 134 children at an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar last year, media and security sources said.
The hangings were the first execution of civilians convicted by Pakistan’s military courts, which were set up after the massacre through a constitutional amendment.
Building an alternative
Democracy is a process, not an event, and it needs time to mature before it can really start to deliver.
(The Nation) Faced with a civilian government and political parties that have done little to justify the trust reposed in them by the electorate, many have come to endorse the notion that a little military-led spring cleaning is a good idea. As long as corruption is eliminated and terrorism is tackled, the argument goes, Pakistan will benefit. Therefore, when given a choice between a government that does too little and a military that, perhaps, does too much, the latter becomes a more appealing prospect. … it is clear that what passes for ‘liberal’ political opinion in Pakistan has historically been far too comfortable with the notion of authoritarian rule and control. While there are obviously exceptions who should be lauded for their consistent defense of democratic principles, far too many seem to prioritize an illusory sense of security over any broader commitment to human freedom and dignity.
This is important because, sans a truly democratic and participatory political settlement, any stability that comes to Pakistan is unlikely to be sustainable. The history of this country is replete with ‘strong’ men in uniform utterly failing in their endeavors to make things better and, indeed, often leaving the country in a state worse than what they inherited. In a context where poverty, inequality, and a lack of representation underpin constant distributional conflict, and where grievances have been generated and nurtured by the perpetuation of a deeply unfair political and economic system that has served to strengthen different elites – propertied, religious, and ethnic – it is hopelessly naïve to believe that force alone will be sufficient to bring about radical, long-term change.
The godfather of the Taliban: Hamid Gul and his legacy
The former head of Pakistan’s ISI has died of a brain hemorrhage near Islamabad. Known as the “godfather of the Taliban,” Hamid Gul remained an Islamist ideologue until his death. He leaves behind a dangerous legacy
(DW) “Hamid Gul is not dead; he is alive in the form of numerous jihadist organizations, including the Taliban, and in the Islamist narratives of the Pakistani state that have persisted since the 1980s Afghan War. He will live on as long as the Pakistani military continues its anti-India policies and meddles in the Afghan affairs,” a friend of mine said to me over the telephone after the news of Gul’s death broke on Pakistan’s TV channels on August 15.
Lieutenant General Gul, the former chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, was a controversial figure in Pakistan and Afghanistan for his role in the Afghan war against the Soviets and his support of the Taliban. A number of historians called him the “father of the Taliban,” but godfather would be more accurate: He didn’t create the group – just nurtured it. In Afghanistan, Gul was sometimes called “the butcher of the Afghans.”
While the Afghan and Pakistani liberals rejoice in Gul’s death, many in Pakistan are mourning his demise. He was not just a former ISI head, he was also an ideologue to Pakistan’s conservative sections, right-wing journalists, the madrassa clerics and students, and a powerful faction of the Pakistani army. (Al Jazeera) The legacy of Pakistan’s loved and loathed Hamid Gul — Pakistan’s late jihadist spy master garnered mixed sentiments with his expansionist politics.
Friends comment that the “Indian government is doing it as well and we will soon see Nepalese government doing it as now pointing fingers at Amnesty International … The whole aid business is really in a messy stage at this point at least in South Asia and good organizations are also taking heat due to the rotten ones.”
Pakistan shuts down Save the Children offices in Islamabad
(The Guardian) The expulsion of one of the world’s best known non-governmental organisations (NGOs) follows years of growing distrust towards foreign charities that security services suspect are often used as covers for intelligence work.
Foreign charity bosses complain they have been treated with increasing hostility and suspicion in Pakistan, with obstacles to their work becoming ever more onerous in the past six months. Acquiring visas for foreign staff had become a major battle for the sector, as had getting official permission to travel outside major cities. Charities are obliged to sign memorandums of understanding detailing precisely where in Pakistan they propose to work and how much money they would be bringing into the country.
An interior ministry official said on Friday it had cancelled agreements with at least 15 foreign charities, including the Norwegian Refugee Council, on the advice of intelligence agencies that said the organisations had been “collecting sensitive data” from Pakistan’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
Men who planned attack against Malala go free in Pakistan
Pakistani police announced on Friday that despite reportedly admitting to their crimes, eight out of the 10 men that were charged with planning the attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai in 2012 were released from jail.
All 10 men confessed in court that they were part of the Pakistani Taliban plot to kill Yousafzai, but police freed eight of them because of a supposed lack of proof, Reuters reported.
In April 2015, a police official told the Associated Press that all 10 men had been convicted on terrorism charges in a closed trial and each sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Authorities now say that only two of the men were convicted, and the rest were freed on April 30. Their whereabouts are currently unknown.
C Uday Bhaskar: Is Xi’s Visit to Pakistan the Beginning of a Lasting Friendship?
(Quint) Fifty one agreements and MoUs were signed covering a wide spectrum from energy, transport infrastructure, trade and economic facilitation, climate change, marine research to people-to-people contact.
The core objective will be to advance Xi’s ambitious vision of a land and maritime connectivity project (the Belt and Road Initiative – BRI) that will link the Pakistani port of Gwadar to Kashgar in western China.
Can China realize this tantalizing objective given the domestic political contestation and related internal turbulence that envelops the Pakistan- Baluchistan-Xinjiang region?
[The] sub-text wherein China and Pakistan reinforce their security and economic cooperation with an element of simultaneity has to contend with the reality of the spread of radical jihadi ideologies and their myriad non-state entities scattered through the region.
Concurrently the internal situation in Baluchistan (where Gwadar is located) is far from stable and the local inhabitants have long resented the jack-boot of the Pakistani military and are struggling for an elusive political autonomy.
Pakistan-India relations facing a new setback?
The release of a man accused of the 2008 Mumbai attacks has caused anger in India.
New Delhi has angrily reacted to a decision by a Pakistani court to release on bail the man suspected of palnning the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.
The court said there was not enough evidence to keep the suspect in jail. Indian officials have said Pakistan is sheltering terrorists
Guests: C Uday Bhaskar – Director of the Society for Policy Studies …
Pakistan risks losing trust of Gulf nations
By not supporting Storm of Resolve in Yemen, Islamabad has once again let down people in GCC
(Gulf News editorial) In a disappointing move, the Pakistani parliament has decided to refrain from supporting the Gulf military efforts in Yemen. The MPs voted to urge the Nawaz Sharif government to stay ‘neutral’ in the Saudi-led Storm of Resolve campaign, aimed at restoring the legitimate government in Yemen and uprooting Iranian hegemony in the Arab country.
The Pakistani stance is shrouded in mystery and full of contradictions, to say the least.
Statements made by Pakistani officials stressing their support for Saudi Arabia and Gulf states in the face of clear and present dangers, emanating from Iran’s growing dominance — using Al Houthi militias as pawns — on the southern borders of Saudi Arabia — have not materialised. Such contradiction calls for suspicion regarding the Pakistani position. It was not expected by the people of Gulf Cooperation Council countries, who are bound with Pakistan in strategic relations that surpass ties with any other country. We did not think Pakistan would hesitate in backing the Arab coalition.
Pakistan: Victim or exporter of terrorism?
General Asad Durrani, the former head of the ISI, Pakistan’s notorious spy agency, on its role in the “War on Terror”.
Using Religion for Reform: Trying to Change Pakistan’s Oppressive Blasphemy Law from Within
(VICE) Despite its rampant misuse, very few, if any, have challenged, debated, or attempted to reform Pakistan’s blasphemy law that was originally codified by the subcontinent’s British rulers in 1860.
The legislation took a much more oppressive form, however, following a series of amendments during military dictator Zia-ul Haq’s rule in the 1980s. The law in its current form prescribes life imprisonment for willful desecration of the Holy Quran and death for blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad. Politicians who opposed the law on humanitarian grounds, such as Salman Taseer, former governor of Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti, federal minister for minorities, met equally violent ends, both assassinated in 2011.
It was Taseer’s assassination by his own bodyguard in broad daylight for defending a Christian woman accused of blasphemy that prompted a group of young activists to research and reflect on this controversial law that has polarized Pakistani society into even further extremes.
Post Peshawar: Pakistan needs to face its malignancies boldly
By C. Uday Bhaskar
… one fact emerges post Peshawar – and that is the outpouring of anger and grief across Pakistan and the people’s demand that the state act firmly against ALL terrorists. Whether this will translate into tangible pressure that will compel the Pakistani political establishment into taking those bold and radical steps against the ‘good’ terror groups, however, is moot. … the revulsion that the TTP has generated among the Pakistani people and the army (for their children were deliberately targeted) has allowed General Raheel Sharif to increase the offensive operations against this group, and it remains to be seen whether this will lead to a cycle of reprisals.
But given the predictable “India is the hand behind Peshawar” allegations that LeT leader Hafiz Saeed and General Musharraf are stoking, it is unlikely that the current political leadership In Pakistan will take the bold corrective steps it should – which is to face the many malignancies and falsehoods that have damaged the fabric of state and society.
Pakistan needs a new national narrative that will not seek to embroider and fudge history. Unless this transformation takes place, it is likely that more Peshawars may occur – alas.
Peshawar Massacre: Stop backing terror and distorting Islam in Pak
By C. Uday Bhaskar
an objective analysis would suggest that both the Pakistani military and the major political parties have to undergo a fundamental change of orientation about two core elements that have been assiduously nurtured since the days of General Zia-ul-Haq. The first was a deliberate distortion of the tenets of Islam that prioritised the medieval practice of wahabi-salafi Islam within the Sunni fold and the progressive exclusion of other sects such as the Shia. Concurrently the Pak Army General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi internalised the strategy of radicalising certain Sunni groups and arming them as part of the Koranic concept of ‘bleeding the enemy by a thousand cuts’. These assets were to be used first against India and later in Afghanistan and this became part of a grand ‘strategic depth’ policy of the Pak GHQ.
These ideologies have permeated Pakistan over the last 25 years and consequently the dominant ecosystem of Pakistan is oriented towards justifying radical Islam and related terror.
Pakistan school attack: PM Sharif vows to end ‘terrorism’
Pakistan’s prime minister has vowed to rid his country of terrorism after a Taliban attack at a school in Peshawar killed 141 people, mostly children.
(BBC) Nawaz Sharif spoke after talks between political parties about the massacre.
Gunmen went from class to class shooting the students in the Pakistani Taliban’s deadliest attack to date. Funerals of the victims are continuing.
The Afghan president says the “time has come” for his country to work with Pakistan to fight “extremism.”
Ashraf Ghani said the two countries should “jointly take effective actions” following a surprise meeting with Pakistan’s army chief in Kabul to discuss security co-ordination.
Peshawar school attack: teacher gave her life to save pupils
As Peshawar today buried its dead, pupils from the Army Public School who survived the Taliban attack that left 148 people dead revealed how a young teacher, Afsha Ahmed, had given her life to save theirs.
“The [gunmen] entered our classroom as we were sitting with our teacher,” one pupil, Irfanullah, who was shot in the chest and is recovering in hospital, told Newsweek Pakistan. “She seemed to understand what was going on before we did because she immediately stood up and prevented the terrorists from targeting us.”
Speaking from his bed in Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, the 15-year-old said that Ms Ahmed, herself aged only 24, had told the gunmen she would not let them shoot her charges.
“Her last words to the terrorists were ‘You must kill me first because I will not see my students’ bodies lying in front of me’,” he said. “She was so brave.”
The youngster said the gunmen were apparently unmoved by her words and threw something at her.
“The next thing we knew, she was on fire,” he said. “Even while burning, she shouted at us to run away and find refuge.”
Ban condemns “heinous attack” on Pakistan school
Taliban militants attacked a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Tuesday, killing 148 people, most of them children. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the attack “an act of horror and rank cowardice to attack defenseless children while they learn. … Schools must be safe and secure learning spaces. Getting an education is every child’s right. Going to school should not be an act of bravery.” The Economic Times (India)/Agence France-Presse (12/16), The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (12/17), The Atlantic online (12/16)
Setting a precedent: State becomes plaintiff in slain couple’s case
The minister said a special session of the cabinet on Thursday was briefed about the brutal murder of Shama and Sajjad. He said the prime minister asked him to not only pursue the case, but also make sure that it set a precedent so that no one would dare repeat such a barbaric act again.
He said the federal and provincial governments had decided that the state would be the plaintiff in the case. In the past, only the bereaved or relatives of the deceased were made plaintiffs. “But they usually end up reaching a compromise due to various reasons.” These include facing pressure from the perpetrators or those who sympathise with the culprits, he said. “Sometimes, they buy them out with blood money or favours.”
Christians beaten to death for allegedly desecrating Qur’an in Pakistan
Bodies of couple burned in a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan, in latest case of violence against minorities accused of blasphemy Imam of a local mosque incited murder of Christian couple, says police
(Reuters) – Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls’ right to education, and Indian campaigner against child trafficking and labor Kailash Satyarthi won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
Yousafzai, aged 17, becomes the youngest Nobel Prize winner and 60-year-old Satyarthi the first Indian-born winner of the accolade.
They were picked for their struggle against the oppression of children and young people, and for the right of all children to education, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.
The sharing of the award between an Indian and a Pakistani came after a week of hostilities along the border of the disputed, mainly Muslim region of Kashmir – the worst fighting between the nuclear-armed rivals in more than a decade.
“The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism,” said Thorbjoern Jagland, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi win Nobel Peace prize
Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi win 2014 Nobel peace prize
Pakistani teenager and Indian children’s rights activist beat Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, the Pope and Vladimir Putin to the prestigious prize
Why So Many Pakistanis Hate Their Nobel Peace Prize Winner
(The Daily Beast) As I noted shortly after Malala was shot in 2012, everything that happens in Pakistan is a plot by the Indians, America, or Israel. Or all three. The Taliban, power cuts, corruption, economic stagnation, Osama bin Laden, all of it.
The tendency to see plots and enemies behind every tree is a common trait of the English-speaking Pakistani middle class, which is overwhelmingly conservative, nationalistic, and suspicious of the West. Non-Muslims, foreigners, anyone embraced by the United States (such as Malala), and even minority religious sects in Pakistan are all seen as agents of foreign powers.
What People In Pakistan Really Think About Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai
Is Pakistan a Failing State? 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
A rare certainty in Pakistani politics – Nawaz Sharif is doomed
A combination of a rampant Imran Khan and an army that feels threatened by democracy means there is no room for Sharif
(The Guardian) Facts are a funny thing in Pakistan: there often aren’t any. What you usually have to settle for, particularly in politics, is some kind of theory, ranging from the conspiratorial to the wild and woolly to the, occasionally, plausible.
Take the current situation. Pakistan is in the grip of a tawdry political crisis. Imran Khan says the May 2013 general election was rigged. The government of Nawaz Sharif says its mandate to rule is legitimate. The ever-lurking army says it is neutral. Here we go again…
In the end, the PML-N did win an outright majority. The PTI scooped up large numbers of voters in Punjab, but a first-past-the-post parliamentary system meant it won few seats. The army would have to find a way to work with Sharif. Or so it seemed.
Fast forward a year and Sharif’s mandate is dead – beaten lifeless by the volatile combination of an increasingly manic Khan and a religious preacher, Tahir-ul-Qadri, who does not even bother to camouflage his closeness to the army.
Facts may be a rare thing in Pakistani politics, but old truths are hard to dislodge: the army has used the present crisis to reassert its pre-eminence in the political arena. The transition to democracy may continue in form, but the substance has been gutted.
Facts may be a rare thing in Pakistani politics, but old truths are hard to dislodge: the army has used the present crisis to reassert its pre-eminence in the political arena. The transition to democracy may continue in form, but the substance has been gutted.
What is the army afraid of? To begin with, democracy. At the top of the heap in a declining state, the army knows that gains for democrats are losses for the army. On the core interests of the army – its budget, its fantastic privileges, and national security and foreign policies – the political mainstream in the country would make very different choices to the army.
Pakistani protesters clash with police, soldiers secure state TV
(Reuters) – Pakistani soldiers and paramilitary forces secured the state television headquarters in Islamabad on Monday after a crowd of anti-government protesters stormed the building and took the channel off the air.
Pakistan’s IDPs reach record one million
Pakistan’s government announced the start of a full-scale security operation on June 15 in North Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to take on rebel strongholds near the Afghan border.
Dubbed “Zarb-e-Azb”, the ongoing military operation was launched against Taliban fighters and their allies in the Pakistani tribal areas. According to the United Nations, as of August 2014 the estimated number of displaced people is now more than one million, comprising about 95,000 families.
The Pretender to Pakistan’s Throne
(Foreign Policy) Imran Khan’s populist protest movement is on the verge of taking down Pakistan’s dull, dysfunctional government. How did such a lightweight get so far?
Since Aug. 14, Islamabad has been in a state of constant uncertainty and insecurity. Politicians opposed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have been leading a sit-in of thousands of protesters demanding nothing less than the resignation of Sharif — who has been prime minister twice before and deposed in coups both times.
Today in Pakistan, there are two big questions: Is the military attempting to stage-manage Sharif’s third exit? And is his political tormentor, the temperamental former cricket star Imran Khan (unrelated to Ayub Khan), the Army’s choice as his replacement?
Two separate camps are conducting the Islamabad protests against Sharif: Khan leads one, and Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, an anti-Taliban cleric formerly based in Canada, leads the other. The two leaders are a study in contrasts, but they share one explicit objective — to oust Sharif. Pakistani fatigue with the saga has been growing, and on the night of Aug. 28, the Army became explicitly involved as a guarantor of talks between the opposition camps and the government. The announcement of the Army’s role as the adult in the room is nothing new for Pakistan, and though expectations are that the crisis is petering out, protests could continue as long as Sharif stays in power. …
Pakistan’s military faces a hostile India on its eastern border and a dysfunctional peace process in Afghanistan on its northwestern one. In between, it is trying to stamp out the remarkably resilient and potent Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, against which it recently launched a massive operation in the remote Pakistani region of Waziristan. Now is not a good time for the Army to manage a chaotic political transition.
Fresh militant attack near Karachi airport
(BBC) Pakistanis have reacted in shock to the attacks on Karachi airport and what is being seen as retaliatory bombing of militant hideouts in the north-west by government jets. The Karachi attacks have undermined an atmosphere of peace and rapprochement which Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had been working to create.
The surge in violence comes amid a growing perception that Pakistani forces may finally be about to launch an operation in North Waziristan to clean up what many here see as the militants’ last remaining sanctuary on Pakistani territory.
More than two dozen dead as Taliban assault Pakistan’s main airport
(Reuters) – Taliban militants disguised as security forces stormed into Pakistan’s busiest airport on Sunday night, triggering an all-night battle in which at least 27 people were killed.
The assault on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan’s sprawling commercial hub of 18 million people, all but destroys prospects for peace talks between the Pakistani Taliban and the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
It deals a heavy blow to Sharif’s efforts to attract foreign investors to revive economic growth, and raises questions about security at Pakistan’s main installations.
Shahidullah Shahid, a Taliban spokesman, said: “The main goal of this attack was to damage the government, including by hijacking planes and destroying state installations.” (The Guardian) Pakistani Taliban claims attack after gunmen armed with grenades and rocket-launchers battle security forces at Jinnah international airport
Pakistan and state failure: Waiting for justice
Can Pakistan’s future be decided by more military-civilian wrestling or is joint action against extremism possible?
(Al Jazeera) The courts, judges and police are now too scared to carry out trials against militant groups, with their hitmen or leaders who carry out such killings. The government refuses to reform the system or even condemn such killings. It took two days before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reacted to the killing of the pregnant woman. The publicity field is left free for a variety of extremist groups to take control.
The extremists are also decapitating the health sector. Half a million children will not be inoculated against polio, the disease which cripples children, because the Pakistani Taliban will not allow doctors into the regions they control. Since late 2012, the Taliban has gunned down 56 nurses, doctors and policemen who were part of inoculation teams The World Health Organization has declared a global public health emergency, saying the Pakistani strain of the virus has been found in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Israel so far.
Thus Pakistan has gone from being the epi-centre of terrorism to the global epi-centre of a disease that should have been wiped out in 2012. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is rushing from country to country to drum up foreign investment, while the government appears helpless to stop Pakistan’s most lethal export – polio. Sharif still believes that talks with the Taliban, who are now waging war against children, are still possible.
Nazneen Sheikh: Women die in Pakistan, yet the nation stands idle
The culture of Pakistan is a hodgepodge of provincial ethnicity and is by no means a spiritual edict. The quest for women’s personal freedom must not be allowed to be strangled by patriarchy. If the women of Pakistan cannot remove the shackles of confinement, then they only have to ask for assistance from the international community of women.
(Globe & Mail) Pakistan is a curious nation. Perhaps it is in the same category as Nigeria, which had to hear the clamour of an outraged world community before it sought assistance to hunt for missing schoolgirls. As shockwaves ripple through the international media and Twitter goes viral over the public assassination of a three-month pregnant young woman, by stoning, neither Pakistan’s government nor its ever-battling political leaders utter any public response.
‘Honour killings’ is the great and fabricated phrase which zig-zags through the nation. Murder covered with the slickness of culture which the rest of the world is too stupid to understand. This happened in the same town in Lahore where a Mughal Emperor buried a courtesan alive for having dared to love a royal prince. That was in the sixteenth century – and yet on a May morning in 2014 bystanders either watched or filmed this stoning without leaping to assistance. Who are these people and why are they viewed as citizens of the world?
Husband of Pakistani woman battered to death says family agreed to marriage
Muhammad Iqbal claims father’s greed motivated later change of heart and horrific ‘honour killing’ in Lahore
Pregnant woman beaten to death by family outside court
Pakistani ground troops escalate hostilities in North Waziristan
Attacks on rebel strongholds follow air strikes the previous day in which more than 70 are thought to have died
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.