Archive | January 15th, 2012

Pakistan: Conflicting Perceptions of Estranged Allies

NOVANEWS

by Asif Haroon Raja

 

Till 2004, Pakistan was a peaceful country and suicide bombing was unheard of. The figure of terrorism afflicted casualties began to rise from 2005 onwards and by 2007 the number rose to 3599 killed. The death toll has now jumped to 35000. While the total fatalities of ISAF in Afghanistan from 2001 till 30 September were 2670, which includes 1800 US soldiers, Pak Army alone has suffered 3500 deaths and injuries to 10,000 soldiers. Wear and tear of weapons, tanks, APCs, helicopters, guns and vehicles is substantial. Given the acute resource constraints, it is very difficult for Pak Army to replace them or get them overhauled. The Army and Frontier Corps have been provided very limited counter terror equipment by USA and have not been paid their dues for the services rendered and for deploying 147000 troops in FATA and Swat region in deference to the wishes of USA.

Had the US been able to contain terrorism in Afghanistan, the wave of terrorism would not have entered Pakistan. Ironically, the US and its strategic partners rather than helping Pakistan in controlling terrorism have been fomenting terrorism. Failing to make any headway, White House belatedly realized that military option will not solve the Afghan tangle. It therefore decided to give a push to the political prong and to earnestly work towards political settlement through negotiations with irreconcilable Taliban and move out.

After jointly fighting the war on terror for a decade and suffering a lot, the two allies USA and Pakistan are cross with each other. Both are not on the same page and their perceptions on several issues are at variance. Setbacks of US in Afghanistan are principally the main cause of its frustration, edginess and resentment against their foes as well as Pakistan. Its military as well as political prongs have failed to make any worthwhile progress. Neither the Taliban been defeated in the battlefield nor have Taliban agreed to hold talks.

Failing to do anything against the Taliban who are on rampage, the US gives vent to its impotent rage by blaming Pakistan for all its failures. Spin doctors of ISAF have been continuously churning out fabricated anti-Pakistan stories and allegations to cover up US blunders. In the aftermath of Raymond Davis incident and raid in Abbottabad to get OBL, trust deficit between the two allies has widened. While the US is behaving tough and trying to cow down Pakistan, the latter for a change is courageously facing its media and diplomatic blitz and economic and military coercion.

The US military not favorably inclined to the idea of dialogue with Taliban or drawdown of troops continues to apply force against the Taliban and also threatens Pakistan to launch an operation in North Waziristan (NW) despite Pakistan expressing its regrets. Having declared that al-Qaeda has been sufficiently emasculated and that it is no more a major threat to US interests in Afghanistan, the US has now come up with Haqqani Network (HN) allegedly based in safe havens in NW and is projecting it as the most dangerous group. After the 13 September attacks in Kabul and murder of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the US has started accusing ISI that it is linked with HN and is using it as its proxy in Afghanistan. Last week of September saw US military and civil officials in bad temper. They expressed their resentment against Pakistan openly and threatened to intervene if Pakistan didn’t proceed against HN. The US has now deployed hundreds of troops to seal NW border and also to multiply pressure on Pakistan.

The US officials are cribbing that $20 billion assistance provided to Pakistan has gone down the drain since returns made by Pakistan are not commensurate to the quantum of aid given. The US and India think that the US military aid to Pakistan instead of being utilized on fighting anti-US and anti-India militants in Pakistan is being used to enhance its military capacity against India. The two suspects that the Army and ISI are covertly sponsoring four militant groups HN in NW, Mullah Omar’s Shura in Quetta region, al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba, and will not abandon any of them for any amount of US money since these groups act as proxies against India and Afghanistan.

Pakistan argues that sacrifices it rendered to fight US dictated war are far in excess than any other country and it has suffered three times more economic loss rather than making gains. It maintains that to what good is the US aid when its socio-politico-economic health has deteriorated and become much worse than pre-September 2001. It complains that the US aid has neither strengthened democracy nor institutions, or helped in reducing poverty, or in overcoming its energy crisis, or in reducing fiscal deficit and inflation. Pakistan rightly grieves that the US has all along selfishly remained focused on war on terror and paid scant attention to the problems of people. It says that India and not Pakistan has hugely benefited from the US assistance.

Pakistan has rejected the allegation that ISI in cahoots with HN is using violent extremism as an instrument of policy and exporting violence in Afghanistan. It categorically denied having had anything to do with attacks in Wardak and Kabul or murder of Rabbani. Pakistan counters the US tirade by asserting that Pakistan is the biggest victim of terrorism, which is promoted by RAW and several other intelligence agencies including CIA using Afghan soil. It has been furnishing evidence of involvement of RAW in Balochistan and FATA but so far no step has been taken by USA to restrain its strategic partner since both have common objectives. Pakistan is also the biggest sufferer of drone war.

Pakistan Army feels insulted to be called an unreliable ally and accused of its linkage with al-Qaeda affiliated with Taliban after it lost so many lives of its brave hearts and playing a key role in shrinking their capacity to fight. It is sickened over the incendiary language used by US officials. It shoots back that the comparative casualty rate of security forces of Pakistan vis-à-vis that of ISAF, ANA and India will give a clear picture to a neutral onlooker as to who is aligned and who is fighting them. Moreover, the US has so far not provided any proof to substantiate its allegations. With its high tech intelligence gathering resources and presence of CIA network and Blackwater inside Pakistan, it can easily gather evidence to indict Pakistan.

Interestingly, the US after demonizing the HN and charging that the ISI is using HN as its strategic arm against US targets in Afghanistan and trying to bully Pakistan and making it comply with its demand to go after HN in NW, Hillary Clinton had the brashness to say that the US would like to open dialogue with HN. The US has so far not declared it as a terrorist group. Sirajuddin Haqqani son of Jalauddin Haqqani, heading a small wing of Haqqani force and till recent based in NW, gave an interview to BBC on 3 October.

He revealed that the US officials as well as emissaries from other Muslim and non-Muslim countries have been in contact with him and convincing him to abandon Mullah Omar and join Karzai’s government, but he rejected their offers saying that he would do as told by his leader Mullah Omar. He dispelled the widely held misperception that HN is an independent group and clarified that Haqqani’s were part of Mullah Omar led Taliban.

All Taliban groups in Afghanistan have denied their involvement in Rabbani’s murder and have unanimously opined that Indian lobby in Afghanistan planned the assassination since it was averse to peace talks and wanted to disrupt it. This revelation has further degraded India in the eyes of Taliban and they have now become more determined to expel them from their country. Gen McChrystal was right in his assessment that Indian presence in Afghanistan is part of the problem. Gen Dempsey and Gen Allen should mull over McChrystal’s observation.

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Pakistan: America’s Irrational Demands

NOVANEWS

by Asif Haroon Raja

 

Military operation codenamed Rah-e-Nijat launched against Mehsud inhabited South Waziristan in October 2009 dismantled base of Hakimullah Mehsud. He and his followers slipped into neighboring tribal agencies of North Waziristan (NW), Orakzai and Kurram. The ones hiding in Shawal ridges close to Afghan border when chased crossed over to Paktika and later to Kunar. Hakimullah converted mountainous Mamozai in upper Orakzai Agency into his new command & control HQ. It suited him to coordinate militancy in Khyber Agency through Tirah Valley, sectarian ridden Kurram Agency and NW since he had served as commander of these agencies less NW. Taliban under Tariq Afridi in Darra Adam Khel shifted to Orakzai.

A military operation in Orakzai in 2010 forced Hakimullah to first move to NW and then to Kunar wherefrom he is engaged in cross border attacks. Maulana Fazlullah who had fled from Peochar in Swat as a result of Operation Rah-e-Rast in May 2009 is now operating from Nuristan. Peace has been restored in Kurram and Mohmand Agencies through focused military operations and cross border attacks in Dir, Mohmand, Chitral curtailed by deploying troops.

Militants of all hues have poured into NW and have got married up with TTP. Miranshah is the largest town of NW and hub center of economic activity. Hafiz Gul Bahadar heading Ahmadzai Wazir tribe is the largest tribe which has stuck to peace deal since August 2008 and has refrained from targeting military or government targets. Dawars are associated with Ahmadzais and are by and large friendly with Army. Zadran tribesmen are found in NW and Jalaluddin who belongs to this tribe has his house in Miranshah where his family resides since mid 1980s. Several members of his family were struck down by drones. In line with overall policy of Afghan Taliban, they refrain from hitting targets inside Pakistan and have left this job to Pakistani Taliban and other local militant groups.

Till recent, Sirajuddin, one of the sons of Jalaluddin with his followers was stationed in NW but since NW has become a very dangerous place because of barrage of drone strikes and proactive role of Pak security forces, he has opted to move to a relatively safer pasture across the border. Sirajuddin in his BBC interview categorically denied involvement of Haqqani network (HN) in murder of Rabbani. He said that all attacks were planned and ordered by Islamic Emirate’s Military Council and not a single attack had ever been executed by his group at its own.

He dispelled the notion that ISI was linked with HN and said it was a propaganda aimed at discrediting his group. He said that by terming HN as a separate entity, the US intends to divide and weaken Taliban. He also disclosed that several Muslim and non-Muslim countries including the US contacted them and persuaded them to get detached from Mullah Omar and become part of Karzai government. He added that they are being induced in several ways but since all their offers have been rejected, in retaliation the US has branded their group as HN and declared it as most dangerous and most wanted.

If Haqqanis were non-Afghans and attacking targets in Afghanistan or elsewhere, or were involved in 9/11, they could be held accountable. Majority of Afghans don’t even know if 9/11 occurred. Haqqanis are blue-blooded Afghan Pathans who had played an important role in liberating their country from Soviet forces. They had come in good books of USA owing to their outstanding performance in the battlefield. The US military is in illegal occupation of Afghanistan since 2001 and its leadership is still in no mood of vacating it. Haqqanis have fallen from grace of USA since they are waging a Jihad against them and refusing to betray Mullah Omar and agree to the US formula of peace.

The US leadership is locked in tricky negotiations with Kabul over a strategic partnership beyond 2014. While the US outwardly insists it doesn’t want permanent military bases in Afghanistan, the Afghans are skeptical of its motives and believe it is keen to hold on to Bagram airbase, which can house up to 30,000 troops and security contractors. Hawks in US military joined by CIA, corporations and security contractors have got too used to big money earned through drugs, reconstruction and arms supply. They are pressing Obama administration to extend the stay minimum till 2017 and preferably till 2024.

Occupation forces of 49 countries have ruined Afghanistan in their bid to subdue resistance forces, caused deaths to tens of thousands and displaced huge numbers from their homes. They are now imposing irrational conditions upon Taliban to end the war, which they had unjustly started. The US led ISAF has no moral ground to stay in Afghanistan, play unholy game of categorizing Afghans as reconcilable and irreconcilable, branding local Jihadis as terrorists and killing them on mere suspicion and sparing collaborators by declaring them as friendly. They have no right to create divisions on ethnic lines and pitching one against the other.

Under the given circumstances, it is the moral right of every patriotic Afghan to resist the occupiers and push them out. Freedom fighters are justified to attack foreign targets in Afghanistan whenever opportunity comes their way. It is no easy job to attack the adversaries which are hugely stronger. Having taken extraordinary measures to keep themselves safe and secure, occupiers are chasing the militants like hungry wolves and are using all means to kill them. If both sides are fighting and killing each other, why is the US complaining that Taliban attack them? Don’t they know that Durand Line is porous, indefensible and cross border movement cannot be blocked? As long as ISAF stays in Afghanistan, it should expect attacks and must not grumble.

As far as Karzai regime and its security apparatus are concerned, Afghans siding with the aggressors are collaborators and fall in the category of traitors. They are principally responsible for the misfortunes of Afghanistan and its people. Unlike the Taliban who fought their way right up to Kabul at their own, Northern Alliance took the easy way of inviting outsiders and becoming party to the slaughter and destruction. Karzai heading a non-Pashtun government of feudal lords and drug barons is seen as a puppet of USA. He is looked down upon by Afghan Pashtuns as well as non-Pashtuns. It will not be possible for him to remain in power after the departure of foreign troops. Hence, unlike Nur al Maliki who took a firm stand that all foreign troops must vacate Iraq by end December 2011; Karzai is still in two minds and has reportedly given his tacit approval for extended stay of backup force of USA.

His regime has accepted western model constitution and democracy, well knowing that great majority of Afghans are conservative and religious and western system will be unacceptable to them. The US also must be realistic that it will be unworkable to impose western model upon deeply Islamic state of Afghanistan. Moreover, why should the Americans imprudently expect the winning Taliban to lay down their arms, knowing that every Afghan values his personal weapon as his most precious possession, which he will not part with even at the peril of his life!

It was possible if the Taliban had been decisively defeated. Now that victory hope is out, it will be in fitness of things if the US stops playing dirty games and tricks, creating one Frankenstein monster after another, making lame excuses and blaming others by indulging in evil habit of lies and deceit. It should come clean and talk to the Taliban honestly without irrational demands and with an open heart.

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Pakistan: Attack by NATO Will Prove Costly For USA

NOVANEWS

by Asif Haroon Raja

 

The total strength of ISAF in Afghanistan exceeds that of any foreign military force ever before stationed in that country. It has completed ten years and nearly two months, which is the longest in Asian nation’s history. It is also the longest armed conflict in Afghanistan and the US history. The US has decided to pullout by end 2014 but desires to leave behind 20-30000 troops in military bases for another ten years because it has failed to achieve any of the stated or concealed objectives in Afghanistan and in other regional countries. Apart from the hawks within US military and CIA, its strategic partners India, Israel and Britain as well as Hamid Karzai led regime in Kabul, the US defence and construction tycoons are averse to the idea of pullout and are desirous of staying on till the accomplishment of their common objectives.

Other than Afghanistan where the Taliban have blocked the ambitions of imperialist powers, the other countries on their hit list are Pakistan, Iran and China. Among the three, Pakistan figures out on the top because of its nuclear program, its closeness with China and Iran and its refusal to accept India’s hegemony and to solve Kashmir dispute on Indian terms. The four strategic partners had mutually agreed at the outset in September 2001 to dupe Pakistan by offering hand of friendship and economic assistance and then systematically destabilizing, de-Islamizing, denuclearizing and Balkanizing it. With these aims in view, Gen Musharraf was roped in and made an ally to fight so-called war on terror. This war was a deception to defame and weaken Islam, re-align boundaries of Middle East and to loot the wealth of the Muslim world. The US and its real allies have succeeded in installing puppet regimes in Kabul, Baghdad and Tripoli and in ruining these countries, but have made partial success in Pakistan.

Two U.S. Army Apache helicopters take off from Camp Victory, Baghdad Province, Iraq. The Two Apache helicopters attacked Pakistani posts along with other aircraft.

On the pretext of helping Pakistan’s agencies in tracing and nabbing Al-Qaeda and Taliban runaways as well as those harboring them, a secret deal was struck with Gen Musharraf in December 2001 and later renewed in March 2008 that CIA and FBI operatives would be allowed complete liberty of action and immunity from criminal jurisprudence to operate in any part of the country and provided full cooperation by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Four airbases at Jacobabad, Dalbandin, Pasni and Shamsi near Kharan were also handed over to the US air force out of which Shamsi airbase was allowed to be used for employment of drones for reconnaissance purposes. This facility was misused from 2006 onwards and drones were armed and Blackwater elements inducted as missile loaders.

These bases also became dens for CIA to destabilize Balochistan and to trigger Baloch separatist movement. NATO containers carried arms for Baloch rebels as well. In addition, Jundullah group was patronized by CIA to destabilize Sistan province of Iran.

Taking full advantage of unlimited freedom, foreign agencies have succeeded in accentuating sectarianism, ethnicity, religious extremism and terrorism by subverting the loyalties of people, cultivating agents within militant and criminal groups and using them for assassinating important personalities, clerics and pro-government tribal elders and for bomb and suicide attacks. Banned Jihadi groups that were prevented from taking part in Kashmiri freedom struggle were goaded by CIA to join up with the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP) and fight Pak security forces. On the cultural front, Musharraf obliged the US and the west by introducing enlightened moderation to strengthen secularism and allowed Indian culture to permeate into Pakistani society. Likewise, education particularly at the higher level was secularized. It sharpened secularists-Islamists divide and gave rise to obscenity as well as religious extremism.

Having succeeded in destabilizing FATA, large parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan with the help of these terrorist groups and in maligning nuclear program and premier institutions of Pakistan through an orchestrated vilification campaign, the US efforts to weaken the ISI and to defang nuclear program got stalled in 2007 when Gen Musharraf graph started to plummet in the wake of his infamous act of sacking of chief justice Iftikhar. The King’s Party lost its credibility among the masses.

The schemers then decided to install a political government that was popular among the masses and also completely loyal to Washington. It is now an established fact that US-UK combine brokered peace between Gen Musharraf and Benazir, got infamous NRO issued and paved the way for most corrupt, and thoroughly incompetent regime to rule the roost. NRO was issued on 5 October 2007 to give legal cover to the corruption of politicians, political workers and bureaucrats and in return allow Musharraf to stay in power for another five years. Musharraf-Benazir combine were to open up the prohibited areas.

Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani took over the command of the Army from Gen Musharraf in November 2007 under unenviable conditions. His predecessor who retained the hat of president had become highly unpopular. The Army was suffering the stings of intense propaganda campaign due to which its image and its morale had sagged. Army was engaged in a futile war on terror in FATA and insurgency in Balochistan which was badly affecting its training. Law and order and internal security situation was poor which got further jolted because of murder of Benazir in December. Geo-political situation was tense because of two-front threat. Civil-military relations were strained and so were Pentagon-Military cum ISI relations since the two premier institutions were looked at with distrust. Judiciary was in crisis because of sacking of Chief Justice Iftikhar and dynamics of lawyers’ movement. Elections were due and the people were craving for a healthy change from one-man rule to democratic era.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto occurred on 27 December 2007 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

It is also a well-known fact that when Benazir started to veer away from her commitments made to USA, she was bumped off on 27 December 2007. As a consequence to manipulated elections in February 2008, all pro-American liberal political parties PPP-MQM-ANP together with shady JUI-F succeeded in forming a coalition government in the Centre, Balochistan, Sindh and KP, while PML-N captured Punjab. As part of the deal with USA, Gen Musharraf was allowed to proceed abroad with full honors in August 2008 to enjoy life, establish a political party and then return to Pakistan at an opportune time. He was replaced by the most reviled and controversial person Zardari in September 2008. Additionally, certain handpicked America’s men were awarded key appointments who helped the US in pursuing its agenda.

Notwithstanding the subservience of new leadership to Washington’s diktats, it became disconcerting for the US to find all-powerful President Zardari duly remote controlled from Washington unable to fulfill its core objectives because of military’s obstruction. It was upsetting for USA to find that when its darling Musharraf was at the helm of affairs and was performing in accordance with its wishes, he didn’t have a strong political government to support him to meddle into sensitive issues. After a popularly elected government came to power, Gen Kayani and Lt Gen Pasha were not prepared to play the game. Irritated by their obstructionist policy, the US started assaulting the government and Army in rotation and at times simultaneously.

In April 2008, Hussein Haqqani (HH) replaced retired Maj Gen Mehmood Durrani as Ambassador in Washington. He had come in good books after he wrote a book in 2005 titled ‘Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military’, in which he poured poison against the Army and the ISI. Durrani was appointed advisor to PM on defence matters. Blackwater operatives under new name Xe World started moving into Pakistan in mid 2008 under the garb of police trainers and security experts to help in combating urban terrorism. In actuality, the hidden motive was to make major urban centres restive and also to gain first and information of nuclear facilities. Safe houses as well as residential houses were hired in major cities. Main training center was opened in a big compound in Sihala adjacent to Police Academy where no Pakistani official could enter. Retired Army and Police commandoes and ex soldiers were hired on handsome salaries and trained for security duties and protection of private contractors but the main purpose was to acquire local intelligence from them. Group attack practice to militants was also imparted in this building. Induction of Blackwater elements was facilitated by Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Arms, ammunition and explosives were acquired through Dyncorps which was established in 2002.

Haqqani tweeted from his twitter account that he requested PM Gilani to accept his resignation for the sake of democracy.

Pleased with his good work, his patrons in Washington convinced Zardari and Gilani to place the ISI under Malik. A notification to this effect was issued in August 2008 but was withdrawn when Gen Kayani protested. This was the first major move made by the detractors to axe the ISI. The second attempt was made in the aftermath of stage-managed Mumbai attacks in November 2008 when efforts were made to get ISI declared a rogue outfit. Rehman Malik played a deleterious role in stating that Ajmal Kasab was a Pakistani and that he had used a motor launch from Karachi coast to move to Mumbai. The then naval chief denied it. Malik also apprehended some people named by India as culprits and put them on trial merely to appease India.

The ruling regime reeling under economic crisis because of global meltdown, war on terror expenses, floods, rehabilitation of displaced persons and its own mismanagement and corruption was given a bait of Kerry Lugar Bill (KLB) by USA in 2009 spread over five years, which stipulated $1.5 billion military and economic yearly assistance to Pakistan. Our government including the then Foreign Minister Qureshi was transported with joy, naively thinking that Pakistan’s woes would get solved with this foreign injection. HH gloated that it was owing to his personal efforts and his rapport he had established with the US officials that KLB turned into a reality. Basic purpose of KLB was to wash away misgivings and grievances of Pakistan against USA and to build trust and promote better understanding between two countries. It was to act as a harbinger for sustainable Pak-US relations. It backfired and bred more suspicion and resentment since it transpired that it was an instrument with which USA planned to deprive Pakistan of its dignity and sovereignty. It was meant to harness the military, ISI and nuclear program.

All PPP leaders were distressed when objections were raised by the Army and repeatedly said that there was nothing wrong in the bill. Genuine reservations expressed by Gen Kayani were taken personally by President to Washington and as a result an explanatory note was attached with the bill which by itself was an admission that some clauses in KLB were harmful for Pakistan. It is an open secret that HH was instrumental in adding certain anti-Army clauses since he carried a grudge against the Army and ISI. He was widely seen more as a spokesman of the US than of Pakistan.

Expansion and fortification of the US Embassy in Islamabad was undertaken from within the funds earmarked against KLB. CIA agents belonging to US Special Forces started slipping into Pakistan in early 2010 in various garbs as coordinators, aid distributors, managers and businessmen after the passage of KLB which granted $1.5 billion aid annually for next five years. Work on expansion of US Embassy in Islamabad was also undertaken to accommodate over 1000 Marines and extra staff members. Large numbers of private houses were hired in 2009 in Islamabad and provincial capitals to accommodate new faces. It was owing to our over keenness to keep Washington pleased that our rulers felt no qualm in violating own laws and rules. Laxity in abiding with rules and regulations resulted in massive inflow of US citizens with criminal background. This flow was disrupted when ISI objected to easy entry of US citizens without proper security checks and even to those who had been deported on account of espionage.

In July 2010, under pressure from HH and Malik, visa policy was liberalized by the PM allowing US citizens to enter Pakistan without ISI and Foreign Office clearance. Haqqani issued 468 visas in one day. As a consequence, bulk of 7000 undesirables including the likes of Raymond Davis and Special Forces elements slipped in within the period of July to December. Since these unwanted elements under fake identity sneaked in without scrutiny and in big numbers and fanned out in different urban centers, it became that much problematic for security agencies to keep a watch on them.

Raymond Davis, on double murder charges for a shooting in Lahore employed by the CIA as a contractor. Photograph: Reuters

The magnitude of CIA’s involvement was found out after the fortuitous arrest of Raymond Davis in January 2011 in Lahore after he gunned down two motorcyclists whom he feared were spying on him. The spate of bomb and suicide attacks which increased during arrest of Raymond gave rise to suspicion that under cover agents were resorting to yet another kind of pressure tactics to get him released. HH, Malik and Fauzia Wahab in particular made desperate efforts to get the double-murderer released on the basis of diplomatic immunity. The Army and ISI had no role in the release of Raymond Davis in March 2011, yet Lt Gen Pasha was wrongly blamed. His only role was to extract maximum amount from USA for the families of murdered persons and to impose restrictions on CIA activities. He softened his stance only when CIA Director Panetta gave him his personal assurance that not only he would provide full details of under cover agents in Pakistan, he would expedite their repatriation to USA. It has now been confirmed by ex Foreign Minister Qureshi that the President had exerted immense pressure on him to declare Raymond as a diplomat and that he had ultimately been released on express orders from presidency.

HH owe an explanation to 170 million people of Pakistan for dispatching faceless CIA agents wearing numerous masks to Pakistan and endangering their lives. He got the rules on visas relaxed and did away with basic verification and security checks of visa applicants. He did this merely to please USA but in the process allowed hundreds of Raymond Davis type assassins to play havoc in Pakistan. Gilani also needs to explain as to why he blindly agreed to illegal request made by HH and recommended by Malik and ignored ISI’s alarms. He has to clarify why did he take no action against Malik for protecting US officials involved in clandestine operations caught red handed by police and also ignoring target killings of hundreds of innocent people by militants of political parties in Karachi?

Instead of being grateful or feeling ashamed that its dirty work had been exposed, the US became more vindictive and on the very next day of Raymond’s release, a drone attack on a peace jirga in North Waziristan (NW) killed 20 elders. There on, the intensity of drone attacks as well as suicide attacks rose sharply. Panetta backtracked from his commitment asserting that he needed a CIA network in Pakistan to get hold of the wanted terrorists including OBL. When Gen Pasha insisted and constricted the space for CIA agents and Gen Kayani refused to launch an operation in NW, the US decided to teach Pak Army and the ISI a lesson. It was in this context that ‘Operation Get Geronimo’ with multiple objectives was conceived. The main objective was to get rid of Gen Kayani and Lt Gen Pasha who had become eyesores for USA, India and Israel. The two generals were the only obstacles in their march towards the coveted prize of nukes.

The US Navy SEALs helicopters assault in Abbottabad on 2 May jolted Pakistan and the wrath fell upon Gen Kayani, Lt Gen Pasha and Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar. Journalists and anchors on the payroll of foreign masters sprang into action to corroborate western propaganda. A strong rumor is in circulation in Pakistan that Hussein Haqqani and probably the Presidency was involved in 2 May episode. It is said that the US and Presidency had common objectives to demean the Army and ISI so as to weaken their authority in national affairs. The fact that Zardari promptly congratulated Washington and wrote an article in Washington Post on 3 May hailing killing of OBL by American troops and PM Gilani describing it as ‘historic’ at a time when the whole nation was in a state of shock gave rise to such apprehensions. Muted response of our leaders encouraged USA to remain in offensive posture, which further hurt the sentiments of the people and anti-Americanism peaked.

While the civilian leadership didn’t let go its policy of appeasement, the military which got seriously affected by Abbottabad incident brought a visible change in its outlook. It took several steps to check American intrusions which brought serious strains in Pak-US relations and trust deficit widened. The situation once again took an ugly turn in September after outgoing Admiral Mullen accused ISI’s involvement in terrorist attacks in Kabul and murder of Burhanuddin Rabbani and described Haqqani Network as the ‘veritable arm’ of the ISI. All civil and military US leaders picked up cudgels against Pakistan and used foul and threatening language. Although Hillary Clinton on her visit to Islamabad tried to lower the temperature and mend fences but relations remained tense. The US kept up the pressure on Pakistan to launch an operation in NW and its think tanks as well as BBC kept their guns focused on Pak Army and ISI. The US Senators and Congressmen remained in an aggressive mood.

 

(White House Photo/WHITE HOUSE PHOTO) – Mansoor Ijaz and President Bill Clinton at a DSCC Fundraiser in 1996. Critics call Ijaz an attention-craving Walter Mitty.

Amidst charged atmosphere, Pakistan was caught in the web of memo controversy as a consequence to an article written by Pakistani-American Mansoor Ijaz in Financial Times on 10 October 2011. He accused HH to have dictated him the memo on 9 May 2011 on behalf of Zardari, asking him to deliver it to Mullen and seek his assistance to put pressure on Gen Kayani to desist from toppling the civilian government. According to him, in return for his help Zardari promised to change the top security team and bring in American approved new team; S-section in ISI will be shut; wanted al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders in Pakistan will be handed over; US forces will be allowed to carryout raids in Pakistan, nuclear program will be made transparent; culprits of Mumbai attacks will be handed over to India. HH was summoned to Islamabad and confronted with facts and figures by the DGISI. Finding himself cornered, he preferred to offer his resignation which was promptly accepted by the PM. Sherry Rahman was selected in his place. Based on the petition of Sharif brothers, Supreme Court has put HH on ECL till the finalization of case.

While the memo issue was still sizzling, Pakistan got another rude shock in the form of unprovoked pre-dawn attack by NATO helicopters on two Pakistani border posts at Salala in Mohmand Agency on 26 November, killing 24 soldiers including two officers and injuring 13. It was premeditated massacre with certain specific motives and not unintentional as described by NATO Chief and Secretary General. This ghastly incident has plunged Pak-US relations to all-time low. The whole nation is outraged and is demanding cutting off diplomatic relations with unreliable USA which has proved to be a snake in the sleeve. People are demanding that any future intrusion must be combated. They say; with a so-called friend like USA, who needs an enemy.

Defence Cabinet Committee presided by the PM has taken immediate steps to express its serious concern. These are: shutting supplies to NATO; getting Shamsi airbase vacated by 11 December; revising all agreements and protocols with USA-NATO; canceling scheduled military visits to and from USA; regretting to attend Bonn Conference. Army chief has stated that any aggressive act will be replied with full force. The government and the military are on one page to take on the US challenge and none is showing any sign of giving in to US deceptive overtures. China, Iran, Turkey and Russia have expressed their concern over the loss of 24 lives. This gratuitous attack by NATO will prove too costly for USA.

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Pakistan: No More Business As Usual With USA

NOVANEWS

by Asif Haroon Raja

 

When the US decided to invade Afghanistan and topple Taliban regime led by Mullah Omar since it had refused to hand over Bin Laden suspected of being involved in 9/11 attacks, all the neighbors of Afghanistan including near neighbors supported USA. Among the immediate neighbors, Pakistan was the only country which enjoyed cordial relations with Taliban but still decided to go along with the decision of the international community. Even Russia, China and Iran antagonistic towards USA didn’t raise any objection. The reason was that all the regional countries were averse to extremist policies pursued by Taliban regime. It’s Sharia based ideology had become a threat to the six Central Asian Muslim Republics ruled by secular leaders, Russia, China and Iran. Islamic movements in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Xingjiang had drawn inspiration from Afghan Jihad and Taliban movement.

Iran was averse to Sharia based ideology of Taliban since it posed a challenge to export of Shiaism in the region. At one stage, Iran had deployed its forces along eastern border and had threatened to attack but backed off when Mullah Omar warned that Iranian military would get stuck in the glue of Afghanistan. Like Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan provided airbases to USA. India was most affected since the Taliban had almost wiped out its influence in Afghanistan and was desperate to regain its lost influence and thus gain entry into mineral resources rich Central Asia.

While all the regional countries had welcomed the US military action in Afghanistan, except for Karzai regime and India, all other countries now want the US led forces to pack up and leave. At the same time, none other than Pakistan want the Taliban to regain power. Even the US which is desperately trying to convince the Taliban to sit and talk wants them to share power with Northern Alliance as junior partners. Pakistan is an exception since it has suffered so grievously at the hands of Northern Alliance heavy Kabul regime that it strongly feels that Afghanistan under Taliban would prove to be a much better neighbor. Pakistan under no circumstances can afford to have hostile eastern and western borders.

The Taliban also know that they are friendless and the only country which has some soft corner and human feelings for them is Pakistan and none else. Although Pakistan played a deleterious role by assisting the US to forcibly topple an elected government in Kabul in November 2001 and till late November this year it was providing logistic supply routes to NATO containers, yet the Taliban are somewhat malleable towards Pakistan. They understand that Pakistan had no choice but to comply with George W. Bush’s dictates. They also appreciate that people of Pakistan have suffered a great deal on account of war on terror and that great majority dislike USA and sympathize with the cause of Taliban. It is in the wake of these varying impressions that the Taliban distrust all but they may listen to Pakistan to talk and work out a negotiated political settlement. They know that Pakistan has hardly any friend among the stakeholders in Afghanistan and others that are trying to broker peace.

So far the Afghan Taliban were rejecting the US dictated three-point peace formula and insisted that all foreign forces must quit to allow the Afghans to decide their own future. The Taliban demand release of their five prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay. Their representative was not invited to Istanbul and Bonn conferences because of which the meetings proved inconsequential. Taliban have now agreed to open their political office in Qatar which is seen by western officials as a step towards reaching a negotiated political settlement. Afghan government and Afghan High Peace Council have welcomed it and said they have no objection to the Taliban-US getting engaged in diplomatic parleys. The US which till recent considered both al-Qaeda and Taliban as foes has now amended its stance by asserting that Taliban is not its enemy. In its keenness to expedite the process of reconciliation and early settlement, it may agree to release the prisoners to make the Taliban soften their stance. Sensing a change in atmosphere, a delegation from Hikmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami met Karzai in Kabul.

The Taliban in Pakistan who have sworn allegiance to Mullah Omar as their supreme leader would stop hating Pak Army the day they are convinced that that it is not fighting America’s war for dollars. They admire the valor and determination of Army soldiers and grudgingly admit that they are tough opponents. They have also learnt to their surprise that both officers and jawans are God fearing Muslims. The stiff stance taken by the Army and ISI in the face of America’s belligerence has brought a slight change in their perception and attitude and they are actively thinking of coming to terms with the Army.

Maulvi Faqir, commander of Taliban chapter Bajaur who is now based in Kunar after he and his militants were shunted out from Bajaur by security forces in 2009 has expressed his willingness to negotiate on Pakistan’s terms. This offer was made in the wake of decision taken by the resolution of the two Houses of the Parliament that dialogue with Pakistani Taliban should be initiated and also after seeing that security forces had started defying the US. On the eve of New Year, Mullah Omar issued a leaflet in North Waziristan (NW) directing Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and other affiliated militant groups to stop their fight against Pak armed forces and refrain from killing innocent people in Pakistan. He urged them to forge unity for a single cause and to focus attention against ISAF in Afghanistan since the war was in a decisive stage.

He expressed his displeasure over suicide attacks, kidnapping for ransom which he said were un-Islamic practices. A five-member Shura comprising members from various groups including Hakimullah Mehsud’s TTP, Maulvi Nazir’s group in South Waziristan (SW), Hafiz Gul Bahadur’s group and Haqqani network in NW has been formed to ensure stoppage of un-Islamic practices and to punish the guilty in accordance with Sharia laws. Hakimullah who is finding it exceedingly difficult to keep his sub-commanders under his control after his ouster from SW, agreed not to target innocent civilians but said suicide bombings and fighting against security forces would continue. Jamaat-e-Islami chief Munawar Hassan has exhorted Gen Kayani to hold dialogue with Taliban particularly when the US was holding dialogue with Afghan Taliban. He and Maulana Fazlur Rahman pressed the government to stop toeing America’s line and strive to enhance Pakistan’s prestige. Imran Khan who is riding the crest of popular wave has promised to make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state.

In 2010, violence was at its peak. 10,003 fatalities took place in that year. 2011 saw a decline in terror related incidents as well as in drone strikes and casualties which dropped to 7,107. Total of 2985 violent incidents of all sorts took place last year as compared to 3393 in 2010. FATA was the most affected area followed by Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Fatality toll of 820 in KP in 2011 was the highest. 300 suicide attacks have occurred since 2004 and in this highest rate was in 2009. While the security forces remained committed in all the agencies of FATA and some parts of KP in 2011, their heaviest involvement against the militants was in Mohmand, Orakzai, Kurram and Khyber Agencies. All told, 144 attacks were launched in which 1016 militants were killed, 4219 arrested and 279 surrendered. 57 teenagers trained by Swat militants under Fazlullah to become potential suicide bombers have been rehabilitated by Mashal Institute opened by Army in Swat.

Politically motivated target killings in Karachi that had peaked in 2011 were brought under control in September after the intervention of Supreme Court and grant of police powers to Sindh Rangers at the behest of Gen Kayani. In Balochistan, the Frontier Corps has managed to keep the Baloch separatists on the run without launching any operation while the Army has kept itself aloof and is concentrating on development works in interior Balochistan including enrolment of Baloch youth in Army and converting Sui town into an educational city. Likewise, development works in war affected SW is going on under the direct supervision of Army. After inauguration of Wana Cadet College, another one will be launched in April this year in Spinkai Raghzai. Mohmand and Bajaur Agencies will also have cadet colleges.

Troublesome regions in Upper Orakzai and Central Kurram Agencies are being cleared of the presence of militants and substantial progress has been achieved. As a consequent to sustained efforts of security forces, incidents of terrorism in urban areas have almost ceased. Since the closure of NATO supply lines in reaction to Salala attack on 26 November, no drone strike has occurred. Visits of hard nose intrusive American officials have terminated and the people have not heard the nauseating do more demand for the last six weeks. While Pakistan is restructuring its foreign policy that had been tailor made to suit American interests only, the US is striving to normalize Pak-US relations but there will be no more business as usual. Process of peace with Pakistani Taliban should be given a push to end the self-destructive war on terror.

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Benazir’s Unsolved Murder Mystery And Musharraf’s Expected Return

NOVANEWS

by Asif Haroon Raja

 

Benazir Bhutto (BB) was the first women prime minister in the Muslim world. She remained in power twice and earned worldwide fame. Helped by her husband Asif Ali Zardari, the couple amassed substantive wealth during the two stints in power. During Nawaz Sharif’s second tenure (1997-99), the Ehtesab Bureau had prepared dozens of cases against the couple concerning money laundering and corruption. When she realized that the noose was tightening around her neck, she decided to go in exile to London in 1998. During her period of exile, she was leading a Queen’s life abroad. She shuttled between London and Dubai where she had palatial residences.

All her children were with her and attending their schools. Her husband had been released from jail by Gen Musharraf and he had joined his family in Dubai in 2006. Her ailing mother Nusrat Bhutto was also in Dubai. She was free of worries of administering a difficult state like Pakistan where her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) had been hanged to death. God had given her everything and the couple had so much of wealth and property abroad that they could spend the rest of their lives in royal style.

Yet she chose to return to Pakistan in 2007 at a time when the whole country was engulfed in the flames of terrorism and life had become insecure due to frequent suicide attacks and bomb blasts. She preferred to go back despite massive smear campaign against her by the state machinery. She stuck to her decision knowing that she couldn’t do so under normal circumstances because of high profile pending court cases. She was so obsessed with the idea of becoming the prime minister for the third time that she didn’t mind accepting the crutches provided by Gen Musharraf and Washington.

She happily struck a power sharing deal with Gen Musharraf. Instead of contesting the court cases she gladly agreed to the issuance of infamous NRO, which absolved her and her top PPP leaders including Zardari of all the corruption charges. In return, the elected members of PPP didn’t block Gen Musharraf’s election for second five-year tenure on 6 October 2007. The appeal of power was so strong that she ignored repeated warnings of her well-wishers that her life was in danger. The Taliban had given her threats because of her controversial statements, which she made to earn the confidence of Washington.

Since she was destined to die an abnormal death in Pakistan, death pulled her in that direction and all the obstacles lying in her path got removed and she landed in Karachi on 17 October 2007. Before homecoming, she wrote a letter to Musharraf and named three persons whom she felt could harm her. As a consequence to bomb blast on her cavalcade in Karachi in which she had a narrow escape, an FIR was registered on 19 October in which Chief Ministers of Punjab and Sindh and DG IB were named as suspects. On 26 October, she sent an e-mail to Mark Siegel which was passed on to CNN Wolf Blitzer. It said if anything happened to her she would hold Musharraf responsible. E mail was made pubic by Zardari on the following day of her murder on 27 December 2007.

Millions of Jayalas and her fans who loved her couldn’t save her from the assassin’s bullet. Her sudden and tragic death paved the way for Zardari who had been left behind in Dubai by her and had not been given party ticket to contest the election scheduled in January 2008. The dubious ‘will’, supposedly left behind by BB helped Zardari in taking over as co-chairperson of PPP and his son whom he named as Bilawal Bhutto as chairman. But for sudden and tragic death of BB, Zardari could never have become the President. That way, he benefited the most as a consequence to her departure.

BB’s pompous life, her charms and gaiety have all become part of history. PPP leaders shed crocodile tears to express their deep sorrow, cut cakes on her birthdays, hold death anniversary every year, plonk her name on roads, airports and educational institutions, and raise vociferous slogans that ‘BB Zinda Hai’ (BB is alive). They perform these theatrics merely to keep the Jayalas under her spell, but the fact is that no amount of chest beating or sloganeering will bring her back to life. The best service they could have rendered her was by fulfilling the mission of ZAB and BB of providing bread, clothes and shelter to the poor and alleviating their sufferings. Alas! Their four year misconduct must have made the two great leaders quiver in agony in their graves. The ones who were closest to BB have all been sidelined and opportunists and unelected persons allotted plum appointments.

Four years have lapsed and so far BB’s murderers have not been traced. This is in spite of the fact that Zardari stated that he knew her killers. Probe by the UN Commission at taxpayers cost wasted more than a year and ultimately proved inconsequential. Inordinate delay in solving the murder mystery has given rise to suspicions that the ones trying to catch the culprits maybe the actual murderers. Musharraf, Zardari, Rahman Malik and Babar Awan are among the suspects. While Musharraf is in exile since August 2008 and is desperate to enter into the political arena in Pakistan and try his luck in coming elections, the other three are holding topmost appointments. Zardari purposely preferred seat of President over Premiership to acquire immunity from prosecution by courts. With powers under Article 58-2b and seat of co-chairpersonship, he became the most powerful civilian President.

Rahman Malik and Babar Awan are neither elected nor old PPP stalwarts, but are closest to Zardari and are playing a lead role in state affairs. On the fateful day of BB’s murder, these two gentlemen were sitting in the escort car which was supposed to remain nearest to BB’s car. After BB finished her speech in Liaquat Bagh and was on her way out, surprisingly her vehicle wheeled right instead of left and the escort car sped away towards Islamabad. At the time of suicide bombing against her vehicle and sniper firing, her vehicle was unescorted. There was nobody to evacuate her to the hospital. Rehman Malik, appointed as her security in-charge, returned to the hospital much after the gruesome attack. There are several other intriguing aspects like prompt washing of the scene of murder, refusal of Zardari to conduct post-mortem of the body which have not been answered.

The government is in no hurry to expedite the investigation. In fact, after the UN inconclusive inquest, the matter had been put in a cold freezer and was reactivated only when media made noise and pressure from within PPP ranks intensified. Nawaz Sharif upped the ante during his recent public address in Larkana. He pledged that if voted to power he would catch and punish the killers of his sister BB. Feeling the heat, Rahman Malik has now claimed that all conspiring elements and those involved in BB’s assassination had been arrested and would be exposed at an opportune time. This is yet another farce being played.

Having seen the fate of BB, it seems Musharraf has not learnt any lesson. Like her, he is also vying to return to Pakistan. He is leading a comfortable life in London and receives heavy payments for his lectures in various educational institutes in USA and western countries. He has accumulated so much of wealth during his little over eight-year stint in power that he can live a lord’s life in London where he has an expensive flat in elitist constituency. The magnitude of his wealth can be measured from the fact that he managed to establish a political party which he has named as All Pakistan Muslim League (APML). He has announced to return back before March 2012. The APML will spend Rs117 million for publicity campaign to welcome him. Rs 629 million will be spent on transport and other arrangements for his public meeting upon his arrival.

During his rule, seven attempts were made on his life; two of these were deadly. He is accused of subverting the Constitution twice which falls under Article 61 of the Constitution. He is accused of getting Nawab Akbar Bugti murdered in August 2006. An FIR to this effect has been registered in Quetta and based on the petition filed; the court has issued his warrants of arrest. Afghan Taliban must not have pardoned him for his betrayal. The Baloch and Pashtuns of FATA hate him since he had initiated military operations against them. Religious groups also bear a grudge against him since he had mistreated them. Victims of Guantanamo Bay Prison as well as family of Dr Aafia Siddiqui who had been handed over by him to USA cannot forgive him. Sharif brothers also carry a deep rancour and want his trial.

Great majority of people are of the view that his flawed policies and issuance of NRO to prolong his rule are responsible for the current deplorable state of affairs of the country. Despite all these threats, he is determined to return because the perks and privileges he can enjoy in Pakistan are unavailable in the west. His fans have led him up the garden path that owing to poor performance of the present regime, the people will welcome him. They are right to some extent since it cannot be denied that in terms of governance, economic management, competence and results obtained, Musharraf’s rule was much better. However, weighing the pros and cons, the weight of cons is heavier than the pros. He cannot be excused for the compromises he made to please USA. Pakistan is suffering on account of those compromises which impinged upon security and national interests.

His recent demand for security guarantees from Pak Army is similar to the one made by BB. He must remember that ground situation has radically changed. In 2008, the US was in a strong position to twist the tail of NRO cleansed rulers. Zardari had secretly made an agreement with UK and USA not to impeach or try him and to provide him safe exit in return for accepting him as the next president. He had committed to his mentors that Musharraf would be given a choice whether to stay in Pakistan or proceed abroad and that he would be allowed to stay in the Army House till the completion of his house in Chak Shezad and provided full security as long as he stayed here.

He was allowed to proceed abroad with full honours and to carry with him security guards, personal assistant and a batman. He retained these facilities for quite sometime. Pak-US relations are at present at its lowest ebb and terms of engagement are being revised. Zardari himself is under substantial pressure and is planning to move over to London from Dubai for treatment. There are strong rumours that in the light of shield of NRO taken away by the Supreme Court and linkage of memogate with 2 May incident getting established, he may opt to prolong his stay abroad till such time the situation reverts to normal. Under the changed circumstances and security threats, wisdom demands that Musharraf should stay put in London for some more time and let the tempers of his adversaries cool down. If he thinks that he will become a fourth force and become popular like Imran Khan, he is sadly mistaken.

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Pakistan: Early Elections Has Become a Necessity

NOVANEWS
by Asif Haroon Raja

 

In pursuance of its policy of disregarding rule of law and defying the Supreme Court (SC), the PPP leadership has decided to ignore the apex court verdict directing it to write a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen money laundering trial case pending against Zardari & Co that was held in abeyance as a consequence to 5 October NRO issued by Gen Musharraf to share power with Benazir Bhutto. The blackest of the black ordinance NRO was nullified by SC under reinstated chief justice Iftikhar thereby reopening all the corruption and criminal cases of accused mostly belonging to PPP, MQM and bureaucrats affiliated with PPP. Instead of complying with orders of SC, the Government went into review to gain time. The review petition was rejected by the SC in November 2011. However, PPP’s core committee has decided not to write a letter to Swiss authorities on the plea that the President enjoys immunity.

The PPP top leadership also decided not to submit President’s reply to 11-member Bench of SC in connection with memo scandal in which the President has been nominated as one of the respondents in response to Nawaz Sharif and others petitions seeking investigation of memogate. Immunity was again brandished as the reason not to comply with court’s directive. Another argument put forward is that the federal government has already submitted its reply and the same should be taken as President’s reply. Zardari has now categorically stated that the decision of Parliamentary Committee investigating the memogate parallel to SC’s three-member judicial commission will be accepted, asserting that the Parliament is supreme.

The government’s reply is at variance with replies submitted by Gens Kayani and Pasha who as respondents and guardians of Pakistan’s defence and strategic assets maintained that memo is a reality and must be probed to determine the whole truth since it has devastating ramifications on security and independence of Pakistan. The government has taken an altogether different stance asserting that memo is a non-issue and its originator Mansoor Ijaz is of dubious character who in its view is working on an agenda to spoil military-civil relations.

The US lackey Husain Haqqani (HH), allegedly involved in a treasonous scheme to weaken Pakistan has taken a similar stand in his reply to SC despite the fact that he enjoyed best of relations with Ijaz since 2005. The US and western world are concerned about the safety and well-being of their darling who had served them deferentially from April 2008 till his dishonorable sacking in November 2011. The US in particular is highly disturbed and several of its Senators have expressed their anguish saying that he is being mistreated and harassed. HH after his comfortable stay in President’s House after his dismissal from his post of Ambassador in Washington has now made PM’s House as his safe haven.

He refuses to come out of the comfortable confines and appear before Abbottabad Commission investigating 2 May incident in which he seems to have a deep connection. He has taken the plea that after having been projected as a traitor, he may be murdered by Islamic extremists or agencies. He and his wife are busy gaining the sympathies of US-Western media and officials pretending that he is innocent and in duress. One wishes the dual-faced US leadership had taken an equally tough stance on HH network as it has taken on Haqqani network and its safe haven in North Waziristan.

Gen ® Jim Jones affiliated with HH since 2005, who had taken the memo from Ijaz on 9 May 2011 and delivered it to Admiral Mike Mullen on the following day has made a sudden u-turn on his earlier stance in his affidavit which he voluntarily submitted to SC. He has asserted that he had no reason to believe that HH was the initiator of memo or that he had anything to do with it. In other words, he gave a clean chit to his friend and put the whole burden on Ijaz, thus gladdening the hearts of HH’s lawyer Asma Jahangir and PPP leaders. There is every reason to believe that Jones was tutored by vested interests to put a spanner in the case. Ijaz has rubbished his statement saying that he will prove that Jones knew that he gave the memo on behalf of HH. Sensing that his lie would get exposed, he wisely made another somersault and said he would not appear in the SC to corroborate what he stated in his affidavit.

Asma Jahangir, American and Indian stooge and a disciple of Hindu extremist religious leader Bal Thackeray spewed venom against the SC, Army and ISI. She cunningly tried to create bad blood between officers and soldiers. Finding the wind blowing against HH, in disgust she announced that she would not fight his client’s case since she didn’t expect justice. On the prompting of her foreign patrons, she ate her words and rejoined the team of lawyers engaged by HH to give them moral support and also to lambaste the judiciary and military.

Clownish Babar Awan in his bid to become more loyal than the king and to become a hero overstepped his limits and put his legal and political career in jeopardy. The SC has taken a serious view of his offensive and mocking invectives against the superior judiciary and asked him as to why he should not be punished on charges of contempt of court and why his legal license should not be canceled. He has landed himself in thick bouillabaisse but he asked for it. He is taking such huge risks under the delusion that punishment meted out to him will be pardoned by his godfather sitting in presidency, not realizing that Zardari himself is in thick soup.

American run Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Pakistan uninvitingly poked its nose in memo affair giving its unwarranted opinion that SC was trying to subvert civilian setup by taking up the case which was not within its purview. Jones affidavit and HRW’s salvo were premeditated acts to put SC on the defensive and to fortify Asma. It amounts to intervention in Pakistan’s domestic affairs and must be condemned.

Taking into account the policy of confrontation and non-cooperation of PPP’s leading lights, the SC is in a quandary how to get its verdicts implemented. Its reputation is at stake since the people have pinned high hopes in this institution under chief justice Iftikhar. Although the SC has demonstrated exceptional restraint in the face of extreme provocation so as to avoid clash of institutions and to derail democracy, its patience is now wearing thin. In case it decides to deliver the hammer on the heads of the ones bent upon ridiculing the judiciary, which it must before the masses start taunting the judiciary, it will have to willy-nilly seek the assistance of Army to ensure implementation of its directives. Will Gen Kayani oblige is anyone’s guess.

The government has come under pressure from all opposition parties, civil society, media and masses. Its relations with the military are still under some strains as a result of turbulence created by memo and unwarranted offensive snipes fired by the PM against Gens Kayani and Pasha and terming the Army as a state within state. Although Gilani has sobered down and has gone out of the way to defuse the highly volatile situation, the damage has been done. The PML-N, Tehrik-e-Insaf, Jamat-e-Islami and JUI-F are demanding early elections, but the coalition government of PPP-MQM-ANP wants to complete its five-year tenure irrespective of its dismal performance.

PPP is more focused on Senate elections and has expressed its intention of holding it one month earlier than the scheduled date in March 2012 since it is sure to gain wholesome majority in the Upper House. Once it achieves majority in both the Houses, the PPP will be in a stronger position to remain in power till February 2013 or even holding it by end 2012 as hinted by the President. It will also help in scuttling opposition’s plan to impeach Zardari. The PPP assisted by MQM has now started agitating the issue of additional provinces of Hazara and Saraiki. Besides political point scoring, the main purpose is to distract the attention from memo and early elections and also to whittle power base of Nawaz in Punjab. The US has still not given up Zardari since he can be of some use in the wake of Pak Army-US standoff.

While the PPP is not in a position to win next election because of its exceptionally poor performance, it will be quite satisfied if it succeeds in forming a government in Sindh with MQM, in Gilgit-Baltistan and secure sizeable seats in the Centre and other provinces to keep the next government under pressure. As regards the Third Force, it is yet unclear which party (ies) Imran Khan would like to collude with. Even if he manages to perform well in next elections, his party will not be able to form governments in the Centre and provinces at its own. The emerging possibilities are MQM, JI and APML under Gen Musharraf. The latter is getting overly impatient to return and hold a public meeting at Karachi on 31 January as big as that of 25 December Jalsa of Imran.

His arrival is subject to Saudi Arabia, Zardari and Gen Kayani giving him security guarantees that he will not be arrested on arrival and put on trial for his several lapses he made during his nine-year rule. The MQM whom he had patronized is all set to accord him warm welcome and make his first public meeting a grand success. Musharraf is considering aping Altaf to address the Karachi gathering on phone in case he is unable to come.

The religious parties are also gearing up to take part in next elections which they foresee this year. They strongly feel that this government’s days are numbered. MMA’s revival is also being actively considered. The major planks on which they are banking upon to exploit are anti-Americanism, end to war on terror and imposition of Islamic system.

These fast developments and undercurrents are not to the liking of PML-N which had remained complacent that next 5-year tenure was theirs and none else. It had never contemplated any challenge to their established political power from a third force and that too on its home turf in Punjab. Phenomenal rise of Imran and now the possible arrival of its arch rival Musharraf have dampened its prospects of easy victory.

Public meeting in Gujranwala was aimed at bolstering the spirits of party workers and leaders since Javed Hashmi’s departure has been a serious loss to its credibility. Nawaz is well-meaning and sincere to the cause and well-being of Pakistan, but he is a poor judge of time and space. He doesn’t strike when the iron is hot but hits out when the iron has gone cold. He had several golden chances to unseat the present government, but he became its protector and bailed it out when its fortunes had plunged. After having missed the bus, his belated calls for early elections are misfiring. Zardari proved to be too slippery a fish for him.

Nawaz has genuine grievance against Musharraf, but he must know that he made him the COAS at the cost of several deserving ones, the foremost being Lt Gen Ali Kuli Khan. He didn’t take any action against Musharraf when he learnt that he had secretly sent irregular forces across the Line of Control in Dras-Kargil sectors which triggered the Kargil conflict. Instead he flew to Washington to seek Bill Clinton’s support in July 1999 to end the conflict which had started becoming unfavorable for Pak Army. His amateurish way of sacking Musharraf and preventing his aircraft to land in Pakistan cost him his premiership.

Rather than aiming his guns on Musharraf and his team of generals who masterminded Kargil operation and subsequently launched the coup in October 1999, for unknown reasons he considers the Army under Kayani equally responsible for his woes and misses no opportunity to pass degrading comments against the Army. He had an excellent chance to get closer to Kayani when he was leading the long march from Lahore to Gujranwala. If he had maintained workable relations with Kayani, the latter would certainly have contacted him instead of Aitzaz Ahsan, asking him to call off the march since Zardari had agreed to restore the judges.

He remains too fearful of Army takeover despite the fact that Kayani has not exhibited any ambitious tendencies. The latest target in his firing line is Imran Khan. He suspects that the third force is the creation of the military establishment. He refuses to excuse Chaudhri brothers and his undying animosity has been cashed in by Zardari which is to the advantage of PPP in Punjab.

Fortuitously or unwittingly, memo affair is tending to bring the SC, Army and PML-N on one page. In my view PML-N, TI and JI would be a better combination with better chances of confronting the challenge posed by PPP-PML(Q)-MQM-ANP combine. The only snag in this grouping is the distinct possibility of clash of personalities between Nawaz and Imran when it comes to election of PM. Since Nawaz has been tested twice and couldn’t deliver as expected because of negative role of feudal lords in his party, it is Imran’s turn to be tested. In terms of clean record, leadership qualities, ability to inspire and deliver, and firmness to eradicate the menaces of injustice and corruption, Imran has an edge.

The way the bigwigs of established political parties and smaller parties are homing towards TI is amazing. It is a cause of embarrassment and demoralization for the leadership of mainstream parties and a matter of pride for Imran who was a non-entity till his mammoth jalsa at Lahore on 30 October. He reconfirmed his position as the main challenger to the status quo lovers at Karachi. The urban youth and women in particular have come under his spell and they are convinced that he is the only one who is morally upright and has the determination to bring a healthy change.

Imran owes his success to duo Zardari-Gilani who has left no stone unturned to darken the lives of the poor and making them detest sham democracy and opportunist politicians. He should also be grateful to indecisive Nawaz who provided him space by playing friendly opposition and missing series of opportunities coming his way to down the ruling corrupt gang. His principled stand against senseless war on terror and slavish behavior of rulers towards overbearing US leaders have ultimately gone in his favor since the US for all practical purposes has lost the war in Afghanistan and is desperately trying to woo the Taliban so that its forces could carryout an orderly withdrawal.

Pakistan’s afflictions are attributed to its parasitic rulers who have made their lives luxurious but have deprived the have-nots even of basic amenities of life. Their lackadaisical attitude, utter mismanagement and corrupt practices have ruined the economy of Pakistan. Fed up of inflation, price spiral, unemployment, gas and power load shedding, lawlessness, insecurity and lack of justice, the people are yearning to get rid of greedy and selfish rulers and to change the decayed system which protects the rich only. They are vying for an Islamic welfare state. Given the down flow of tumbling economy and inability of this regime to stem the rot, early elections has become an utmost necessity.

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir1 Comment

HUMAN RIGHT IN LIBYA

NOVANEWS

Cynthia McKinney

While doing the reading for my schoolwork, my professor chanced upon this article and sent it to the class. I’m sharing it with you because I think this is very important. And it’s clear from the state of things, the problem resides not just in corporate suites, but also on journalists’ beats and among the antiwar chique. We have a pervasive problem that has succeeded in rotting most of our institutions and organizations and even the individuals who lead them. The article is about a scholar who is trying to help us understand where we have gone wrong. The scholar’s application is to corporations. I extend it to other activities that shape how we view the world and what our possible responses to those views are.

The sad fact is that even among people who are supposed to be our heroes, our leaders, something has gone terribly wrong that excuses can be made for a particular political party that are somehow supposed to shield them from a more critical view–when the issues are life and death, the vitality of our country, the protection of Mother Earth, the preservation of our humanity.

Of course, I’m extremely saddened by the video of the torture of the Imam who survived NATO’s bombing in Libya as he accompanied a group of Imams on their way to make peace with their disgruntled brothers and sisters in the eastern part of the country. Firmly in the grips of NATO’s Libyan allies, this Imam who tried to bring peace to his country now faces torture. I appeared on his television show; the DIGNITY Delegation interviewed him as he recounted his harrowing experience to survive the bombing. I still have in my possession copies of the identity cards of the young students of the Koran who were killed by NATO’s precise humanitarian bombing.

Lurking inside the scripts of even progressive media outlets are characterizations of a brutal war of aggression as a “civil war.” I should be accustomed to this by now–it’s the way most of the conflicts in Africa are characterized–a kind of “disinformation shorthand,” that keeps the hidden hand hidden. In reality, the chaos created is a purposeful chaos that facilitates the theft of African resources–or preserves unfettered access to a geo-strategically important piece of real estate. And those who erase the fingerprints of the hidden hand that creates the chaos, are in actuality, the perpetrators’ handmaidens.

So, we get journalists who tweet civilian targets in to NATO for bombing so that other journalists can call it a civil war. What we are witnessing is historical revisionism even before the present becomes history. I saw this very same phenomenon occur around what has become known to the world as the Rwandan Genocide. When it comes to Africa (or Africans–including in the Diaspora) it seems extremely easy for “The Left” to get it wrong. And, the stealing and the killing go on.

And now, 700 Libyans under the leadership of Libyan Al Qaeda NATO ally, Belhadj, have reportedly traveled with their NATO/Qatari weapons to start the “humanitarian intervention” in Syria.

Remember what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned us about “friends:”

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Posted in LibyaComments Off on HUMAN RIGHT IN LIBYA

Omertà, Mainstream Media-Style: The Oath of Silence When It Comes to Unfavorable News About IsraHell

NOVANEWS

On Jan. 11, the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Economist Intelligence Unit released the results of a study of the security precautions taken by the 32 countries that possess nuclear materials able to fuel atomic bombs.

Later that morning, the New York Times Web site featured—briefly—a story on the study’s findings. The story appeared on page A6 of the next day’s print edition.

Noted reporter William J. Broad: “The study is full of surprises and potential embarrassments: for instance, Australia takes first place in nuclear security and Japan comes in at No. 23, behind nations like Kazakhstan and South Africa.

“The United States? It ties for 13th place with Belgium. Last place goes to North Korea,” Broad continued. Britain, with a security score of 79 out of a possible 100, came in top among “the nine countries known to possess nuclear arms.” The U.S. scored 78, Japan 68, Iran 46, Pakistan 41, and North Korea 37. (The lower the security score, the fewer precautions each country has in place.)

New York Times reader wanting to know where Israel ranks, however, was out of luck. Not a word about the only nuclear-armed country in the volatile Middle East. For that one must go to the report itself—which, of course, we proceeded to do:

www.ntiindex.org/countries/israel/.

Turns out Israel earned a security score of 56, and ranked No. 25—like Japan, “behind nations like Kazakhstan and South Africa.” Moreover, it scored 0 (of 100) in the categories of “control and accounting procedures” and “nuclear security and materials transparency.”

So much for “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

The Washington Report deems it fit to print the ranking and scores of all 32 countries surveyed:

RANK

1

COUNTRY

Australia

SECURITY SCORE

94

2

Hungary

89

3

Czech Republic

87

4

Switzerland

86

5

Austria

85

6

Netherlands

84

7

Sweden

83

8

Poland

82

9

Norway

81

=10

Canada

79

=10

Germany

79

=10

United Kingdom

79

=13

Belgium

78

=13

United States

78

15

Ukraine

76

=16

Argentina

74

=16

Belarus

74

=16

Italy

74

=19

France

73

=19

Mexico

73

=19

South Africa

73

22

Kazakhstan

71

23

Japan

68

24

Russia

65

25

Israel

56

26

Uzbekistan

55

27

China

52

28

India

49

29

Vietnam

48

30

Iran

46

31

Pakistan

41

32

North Korea

37

“=” denotes a tie among countries. 

Those wishing to write The New York Times can send a letter to the editor by e-mailing letters@nytimes.com  or faxing (212) 556-3622.

Letters can be mailed to: Letters to the Editor, The New York Times, 620 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10018.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Omertà, Mainstream Media-Style: The Oath of Silence When It Comes to Unfavorable News About IsraHell

‘How to get rid of Anti-Semitism’ ?

NOVANEWS

Meanwhile back on the Indymedia newswire gehrig, another hunter from a different war appears in response to this posting by Latuff. I will reproduce the newswire here, and in the next post I will comment on the relevance to this discussion, as it helps clarify some points already made – ftp

by Latuff

How to get rid of Anti-Semitism (by Latuff)

Download high-resolution version of this artwork for printing purposes here:http://www.fileflyer.com/view/m6R5CC1

Latuff
e-mail: latuff@uninet.com.br
Homepage: http://tales-of-iraq-war.blogspot.com
___________________________________________________________

Posted in CampaignsComments Off on ‘How to get rid of Anti-Semitism’ ?

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Israeli drone ‘mega deals’ export the occupation world-wide

Jan 14, 2012

Allison Deger

ghost
Israel Aerospace Industries’ ghost drone. (Photo: Noga Nedler Moses/Haaretz)

Earlier this month, two Israeli weapons producers signed “mega deals” with “unnamed” countries, exporting a crucial piece of the occupation — drones. The companies, Elbit Systems Ltd., known as the IDF “workhorse,” and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), both sold drones, with the latter also unloading missiles and intelligence systems.

The deals: Elbit collected $50 million from an unnamed country for drones sold to a “governmental office of a country in the Americas.” Not to be outdone, IAI cut a deal for $1.6 billion, their largest contract ever, also from an “unnamed country.” Giving some clues as to who purchased the weapons, IAI let on the confidential client was an Asian government. Israeli business journal Globes followed up on secret deal with an unnamed source, reporting:

[T]his is the first time that the country has signed a contract with IAI, a fact which itself indicates the complexity of the deal and the need or confidence building measures by the parties.

ground control
Elbit’s drone ground control station. (Photo: Elbit Systems)

As an new client, the deal excludes the possibility of the U.S., India, Brazil, Columbia, and Chile, all of which, in the past five years, began purchasing weapons tested in the occupation. And at times, Israeli weapons producers fight dirty in order to win government contracts. In2010 letters surfaced indicating Elbit bribed the government of Colombia in an attempt to steal the billion-dollar deal from IAI.

A special relationship with the IDF

Taking the occupation global is only part of the weapons producers’ mandate. At their core, they operate to build the military apparatus controlling the occupied Palestinian territories. Both companies make clear on their websites that they produce and design specifically to further the IDF’s goals.

IAI’s company profile reads: “IAI has accumulated nearly half a century of experience in creating and supplying advanced systems for the Israel Ministry of Defense.”  IAI is wholly owned by the state of Israel, and dovish Shimon Peres is one of the co-founders.

As for Elbit, the press release from their latest sale boasts their drones serve as “the backbone of the Israel Defense Forces’ UAS[Unmanned Aircraft Systems] operations.” Furthermore, the press release notes the weapons were designed, “following orders by the Israeli Defense Forces.”

Just a reminder that there is money to be made from the laboratory of the Israeli occupation.

Israel plans to expel a Bedouin community from the shadow of Ma’ale Adumim to a garbage dump in Abu Dis

Jan 14, 2012

Kate

 

VIDEO: Bedouin community near settlement faces expulsion
B’Tselem 11 Jan — Israel’s Civil Administration is planning to relocate some 27,000 Bedouins living in Area C in the West Bank. At first, some 2,300 people will be expelled from their homes near the Ma’ale Adummim settlement and relocated to a site next to the Abu Dis garbage dump, east of Jerusalem. Members of the Khan al-Ahmar community explain how the move will affect them.
link to www.btselem.org

Threatened Bedouin refugee village in the shadows of settlements
Wadi Abu Hindi, West Bank (ReliefWeb) 12 Jan — …Samira Al Waled* lives in a small Bedouin community of 36 families beneath the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, in Area C of the West Bank. The community became refugees in 1948 and eventually settled in Wadi Abu Hindi in the 1970s. Samira’s large family includes two children under the age of five, and an ailing grandparent. However, the families of Wadi Abu Hindi currently have neither a sufficient standard of living, nor adequate housing . The community cannot build a new structure, even a small room to use as a kindergarten, for fear of all 36 families’ homes being demolished. The Israeli authorities have issued a demolition order for every structure in the community, amounting to 99 demolition orders in total. The demolition orders apply not only to residential structures, but also include a primary school that serves around 150 students between first and eighth grades from the community and surrounding villages.

link to reliefweb.int

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid

Israel demolishes houses, agricultural facilities in Jordan Valley
NABLUS (WAFA) 12 Jan – Israeli forces Thursday demolished several farmers’ residences and agricultural facilities in the Jordan Valley area, according to local residents … Suliman Abdullah, a resident in the area, told WAFA that Israeli bulldozers demolished his house and a number of barracks used as animal barns completely destroying his property.He said this was the second time Israeli forces had demolished his barn.
Forces also demolished several farmers’ residences in the area of Froosh Beit Dajan, north of the Jordan Valley, the same area where forces in the past several years had demolished several houses, water wells and agricultural springs.
link to english.wafa.ps

Demolition in Khirbet Humsa
JVS 12 Jan — Animals are left without shelter after the Israeli army demolished an animal farm of 5 structures in Khirbet Humsa in the Jordan Valley on Thursday, January 12, 2012.  The demolition affected 3 Palestinian families of 14 people, who were worried that the sheep would not survive the night in the cold winter night without shelter. Photos here
link to www.jordanvalleysolidarity.org

Army to demolish a mosque near Hebron
IMEMC 12 Jan — Israeli soldiers handed a military order on Thursday afternoon aimed at the destruction of a mosque in Al-Mafqara area, south east of Yatta town, near the West Bank city of Hebron. Local sources reported that the order states that the mosque will be demolished within three days. The sources added that an argument took place with the officer who handed the order, and the soldiers hurled a gas bomb at the residents to force them away from the mosque. The mosque was demolished approximately two months ago, and the residents rebuilt it, now Israel wants to demolish it again under the pretext of it being built without a permit.
link to www.imemc.org

EU on verge of abandoning hope for a viable Palestinian state / Donald Macintyre
Independent 12 Jan — The Palestinian presence in the largest part of the occupied West Bank has been, “continuously undermined” by Israel in ways that are “closing the window” on a two-state solution, according to an internal EU report seen by The Independent. The report, approved by top Brussels officials, argues that EU support, including for a wide range of building projects, is now needed to protect the rights of “ever more isolated” Palestinians in “Area C”, a sector that includes all 124 Jewish settlements – illegal in international law – and which is under direct Israeli control. It comprises 62 per cent of the West Bank, including the “most fertile and resource rich land”.
link to www.independent.co.uk

Israeli government takes key step to ease pressure on overcrowded Arab town
Haaretz 9 Jan — Jewish neighbors threaten to ‘desert their homes’ if necessary — The government has moved a step closer to rerouting part of the coastal highway – a decision that would add land to an overcrowded Arab town and move it closer to Jewish communities. On Thursday the transportation and interior ministries agreed to readjust a two-kilometer stretch of the highway, which would add 800 dunams for construction to the Arab town of Jisr al-Zarqa. 
link to www.haaretz.com

Settlers / Right-wing extremists

Jewish settlers uproot very old olive trees near Salfit
SALFIT (PIC) 12 Jan — Jewish settlers on Friday destroyed 100 very old olive trees, amongst them olive trees that locals believe to have existed since Roman times, between the villages of Jamma‘in and Yasuf, causing rage amongst the local population.  Local sources said that settlers from Taffouh settlement cut down olive trees in the Mafqa’a neighbourhood near Yasuf.
The sources said that one of the settlers of Taffouh who owns more than a hundred heads of sheep and who is known in the area as the shepherd of Taffouh is a constant source of aggression against olive trees in the area and he is thought to have incited other settlers to destroy those trees.
Link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Palestinians suffer as bad driving epidemic grips Israeli settlers / Dr. Hanan Chehata
MEMO 13 Jan — A strange affliction seems to be affecting settlers in the West Bank. It seems that as soon as they are granted settler status (a badge of dishonour in the eyes of the rest of the world considering the illegal nature of all settlements) these individuals lose all ability to drive in a calm and reasonable manner and instead become lethal menaces on the road. You may laugh at the thought that bad driving could be some sort of medical condition but it if you look at news reports coming out of the Occupied Palestinian Territories over the last few months you too might find yourselves scrambling for ideas as to why there seems to be a disproportionately high number of stories like this … A trend seems to have emerged whereby settlers are making a habit of careening down roads in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) and knocking over Palestinian pedestrians like bowling pins. What possible explanation can there be to explain the number of Palestinians injured by settlers on such a regular basis? It seems that without being overdramatic or cynical, there is only one answer and that is that there is some sort of sick trend spreading throughout the settler colonies whereby it has become fashionable or somehow commendable to target and run over Palestinian civilians.
link to www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk

Hundreds of settlers raid Al-Khalil and perform religious rites
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 13 Jan — Around three hundred Jewish settlers under the protection of Israeli occupation troops at an early hour Friday entered the part of city of al-Khalil which is under PA control and carried out Talmodic rites. Eyewitnesses told PIC: “Settlers stormed the area near Bab al-Zaweyah under heavy army protection from the direction of the IOF roadblock at the entrance of Shuhada’ Road, then they walked to the so called Otni’el Ben Kenaz tomb and carried out religious rituals for hours before leaving the area.
Link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Four Israelis indicted for unauthorized visits to Joseph’s Tomb in West Bank
Haaretz 13 Jan — For the first time, Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan has filed charges against Jews who make unauthorized visits to Joseph’s Tomb on the outskirts of Nablus. Four young men have been indicted at the Kfar Sava Magistrate’s Court.  The move comes a month after a rampage by settlers at an Israel Defense Forces base in the West Bank. The police say they’ve been told to get tougher in seeking indictments. IDF officers have repeatedly complained about weak law enforcement against infiltrations into the Joseph’s Tomb compound by Jews. They say the courts are forgiving toward young men who enter the tomb and need to be chased out – endangering both themselves and Israeli soldiers.
link to www.haaretz.com

Military court orders release of IDF soldier suspected of passing info to rightists
Haaretz 12 Jan — IDF paratrooper Amichai Zoaretz was arrested earlier this week and questioned by military police; Zoaretz expressed strong anti-Arab and anti-leftist sentiments on Facebook — A military court in Jaffa on Thursday ordered the release from detention of an Israel Defense Forces paratrooper suspected of passing military information to right-wing activists in the West Bank … On Wednesday, an IDF soldier from the Golani Brigade was detained over similar suspicions.
link to www.haaretz.com

WATCH outpost evacuation: ‘Barak created next price tag generation’
Ynet 12 Jan — Mitzpe Avichai settlers recount ‘humiliating’ early morning eviction by security forces. ‘People take pity on migrants, but not on Jews,’ one of them says … Civil Administration inspectors accompanied by security forces arrived at the outpost in the early hours of the morning and demolished 10 illegal structures, nine of which were inhabited.
link to www.ynetnews.com

IDF demolishes third illegal West Bank outpost this week
Haaretz 12 Jan — Dismantling of structures in Mitzpe Avichai follows razing of Givat Arye and Gal Yossef; restraining order slapped against leader of outpost, banning him from West Bank … All three of this week’s outpost evictions have gone without incident. An official in the security forces said this was due to deterrence produced by increased enforcement against right-wing extremists in the past month.
link to www.haaretz.com

Israeli forces

PCHR Weekly Report: 4 civilians wounded, 29 abducted by Israeli force this week [5-11 Jan]
…Israeli forces conducted 68 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West this week, during which they abducted 20 Palestinians. In addition, Israeli soldiers abducted 6 Palestinian civilians, including two children, at various checkpoints in the West Bank. On 05 January 2012, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Eizariya village, east of occupied Jerusalem. They demolished a 100-square-meter workshop of stone cutting belonging to Sameer Mohammed Taqatqa. They destroyed stones whose value is 30,000 ILS, and confiscated stones whose value is 95,000 ILS….  Full Report
link to www.imemc.org

IOF troops raid towns in the northern and southern West Bank
JENIN (PIC) 13 Jan — IOF troops raided a number of towns and villages in the northern West Bank and set up military roadblocks near the southern West Bank cities of Bethlehem and al-Khalil. Locals reported that IOF troops raided villages to the west of Jenin including Zboba and Rummana, and setup a roadblock on the Haifa-Jenin road resulting in clashes between residents and occupation forces, especially in Zbooba. They also said that IOF troops carried out combing operations and intelligence officers who accompanied the occupation troops interrogated people. The locals also reported that the IOF troops fired stun grenades and live rounds, to which Palestinian youth responded by hurling stones and empty bottles.
Palestinian security sources said that the IOF arrested Anas Ibrahim Halaika (22 years) while he was returning from university to his home in Shayyokh village at a roadblock near the town of Halhoul to the north of al-Khalil. Halaika is an engineering student at the Jerusalem University in Abu Deis.
Link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

IDF says paratroopers ‘ march through Muslim Quarter a ‘provocation’
Ynet 12 Jan –  Ninety Paratroopers Brigade recruits marched with the IDF unit’s banners through the Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem‘s Old City Thursday evening. The group of soldiers, which was lead by Rabbi Matti Dan, head of the Ateret Cohanim movement, waved Paratroopers Brigade banners on the roof of a building in the quarter and chanted “Am Yisrael chai (Nation of Israel lives)” and “We can trust no one but our father in heaven.” …The IDF Spokesperson’s Office said, “Unfortunately a group of civilians chose to take advantage of this dignified event (swear-in ceremony) to create a provocation intended for the media. The fact that media outlets were invited to cover the event proves this was a planned provocation.” The army said soldiers should be left out of the political debate. The Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva, which was founded in the Old City in 1983, operates in a number of Jewish-owned buildings situated at the heart of the Muslim Quarter.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Soldiers in uniform now allowed on Temple Mount
JPost 13 Jan — For the first time in a decade, soldiers in uniform will be allowed to access the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site. Due to the sensitive nature of the area, which also holds the Dome of the Rock and al-Aksa Mosque, soldiers had been prohibited from entering the area in uniform.
link to www.jpost.com

Israeli forces detain 3 in Nabi Saleh
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — Israeli forces raided Nabi Saleh village in the central West Bank early Friday, detaining three Palestinians, officials and residents said. Dozens of soldiers closed the entrance to the village, declaring it a closed military zone, and raided several houses using police dogs, witnesses told Ma‘an. The forces damaged a number of homes and harmed residents in the raids, locals told Ma‘an.
link to www.maannews.net

Israeli forces ‘detain man’ at Bethlehem checkpoint
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Jan — Israeli forces detained a man at a checkpoint near Bethlehem on Thursday evening, Palestinian security sources said. PA security officers told Ma‘an Maath Abu Aker from Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem was detained at the container checkpoint and taken to an unknown destination.
link to www.maannews.net

Detention / Court actions

‘Naksa Day’ rioter gets six months
JPost 13 Jan – The Nazareth Magistrate’s Court on Thursday sentenced a 39-year-old resident of the Golan Druse town of Majdal Shams to six months in prison, after convicting him of disorderly conduct and aggravated assault of a public servant during the “Naksa Day” protests in June 2011. Assad Abu Salah, who was convicted under a plea bargain, admitted that he took part in rioting and that he threw rocks at security forces.
link to www.jpost.com

Israeli court acquits Sheikh Raed in the ‘Hilwani Rooftop’ case
MEMO 12 Jan — On Thursday, an Israeli court in Jerusalem issued a decision to acquit the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah, of the charge of non-compliance with a legal order in August 2007. In a statement to al-Quds Press, Sheikh Raed Salah’s lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, said that “The decision issued by the magistrate’s court refers to the incident which occurred in October 2007 when Israeli agents attacked Sheikh Raed and his companions as they took part in a charity dinner on the roof of Al-Hilwai [a building in the Wadi Juz neighbourhood of Silwan] claiming that the dinner was a meeting of the Hamas Movement.”
link to www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk

IOF soldiers disguised as Arabs kidnap a number of Silwan residentst
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 13 Jan — IOF soldiers disguised as Arabs entered the Jerusalem suburb of Silwan and kidnapped a number of Palestinian youth. Local sources in Silwan said that a group of IOF soldiers disguised as Arabs on Friday morning lay in wait for a number of youth from Bustan road, then they arrested them with the help of other IOF soldiers. The sources said that amongst the youth who were kidnapped are: Abed Al-Qumeiri (18), Fuad al-Qadi (20), Abed Qa’qour (19), Abed Ateyyah (20), all of them from Silwan. The IOF has a special unit of soldiers who can speak Arabic with Palestinian accent and who disguise themselves as Arabs to make their mission of penetrating Palestinian neighbourhoods easy.
Link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/

Two children released after long interrogation
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWAIC) posted 13 Jan –  (Tuesday, 10 January 2012) the Israeli police released Muhammad Saleh Al Reshiq, 11 , and Othman Abu Madi, 10, both from the neighborhood of Ras Al Amood, after detaining them for many hours in the Salah Al Deen Central Police Station in Jerusalem. The families of the children stated that the boys were arrested while playing in front of their houses in Ras Al Amood in the company of their friends when a black Golf vehicle stopped suddenly and the vehicle’s passengers jumped out and abducted the children … The mothers of both children were prohibited from entering the police station and were forced to wait for their children outside the station from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm at which time the children were release after a long interrogation.
link to silwanic.net

Youth arrested in the Al Abbaseyah neighborhood in Silwan
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 13 Jan  — On Wednesday, 11 January 2012 Israeli Forces stormed the neighborhood of Al Abassyeh to arrest Ahmad Awad Allah, 21, with no clear accusations against him.
link to silwanic.net

Five children arrested from Silwan
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) posted 13 Jan — ( Silwan, Wednesday January 11, 2012 ) Israeli forces arrested five children without cause and extended their detention until tomorrow morning. One of the children was recognized as Mousa Edrees from the neighborhood of Al Abbaseyah. Mousa’s family said that Israeli Forces stormed their house during the afternoon of 11 January and dragged Mousa and another four children to be interrogated and then took them later to the Russian Compound where the Judge of the Magistrate Court extended their detention to tomorrow morning.
link to silwanic.net

The District Court issues 17-month prison sentence to youth
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) posted 13 Jan –  On January 11, 2012 the District Court issued a 17-month prison sentence to Basel Harbi Al Abbasi, 20, from the neighborhood of Kroom Qamar in Silwan. Basel was accused of throwing stones and a Molotov cocktail during the violent confrontations that took place in Silwan due to increased tensions over settlement and demolition activities that ignited the neighbourhood. Basel has been arrested more than seven times and he was under house arrest sentence when he was arrested three months ago.
link to silwanic.net

Gaza

Medics: Israeli fire injures two in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — Israeli forces fired on the central Gaza Strip early Friday injuring two people, medics said. Medical services spokesman in Gaza Adham Abu Salmiya told Ma‘an that two people were moderately injured after forces shelled east of al-Bureij refugee camp shortly after midnight. The injured were transferred to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, he said.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said forces opened fire after they “saw a number of suspects approach the security fence and tamper with the ground suspiciously.”  Later Friday morning, a projectile fired from Gaza landed in the southern Eshkol region, without causing damage or injuries, she said. [End]
link to www.maannews.net

Witnesses: Shells fired at northern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — Israeli military forces fired shells at northern Gaza on Friday. Witnesses told Ma‘an that three loud explosions were heard in the al-Ghoul area of Beit Lahiya on Friday evening. No injuries were reported.
link to www.maannews.net

Haniyeh: Gaza ‘will not break’ under Israeli attack
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an)13 Jan — Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has warned that a new military operation on the coastal strip “will be no picnic” for Israel and vowed the territory could stand up to any aggression. Recently returned from his first tour of the region since 2007, Haniyeh told reporters on Thursday that the positions of Arab countries towards Gaza and Israel have changed.
link to www.maannews.net

PA: Israel allows aggregate into Gaza after 7-year wait
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — Israel has agreed to allow 22,000 tons of aggregate into the Gaza Strip after a 7-year delay, a Palestinian Authority official said Friday. Head of the PA borders committee Nathni Mhannah told Ma‘an the decision followed talks between the committee, European officials and Palestinian unions. Mhannah said the building materials have been held at the Karni crossing on Gaza’s border with Israel since 2005.
link to www.maannews.net

EU contributes $1.4 million to rebuild Gaza businesses
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — The European Union on Friday contributed $1.4 million to a program to reconstruct Gaza’s private sector. The EU said the payment was part of a €22 million ($28.2 million) project established to support Gaza businesses destroyed in Israel’s 3-week bombardment of the coastal enclave in 2008. “It targets businesses of all sizes in almost all sectors of activity, which need to restore destroyed or damaged assets necessary for their activities. The ultimate objective is to revitalize the economic activity in Gaza and provide for sustainable livelihoods for its people,” an EU statement said.
link to www.maannews.net

We remember: Tom Hurndall
ISM 13 Jan — Tom was 21 years old when he was shot. A photography student, he had left the UK to volunteer as a ‘human shield’ in Iraq. Here he heard about the ISM, one of whose volunteers, Rachel Corrie, had just been killed by a bulldozer whilst protesting house demolitions in Rafah. He headed there himself, arriving on the 6th April. On the day of his shooting, Tom was with other ISM activists walking through Rafah when Israeli sniper fire started. Almost everyone ran for safety, but Tom noticed that three children, aged between four and seven, had remained motionless, paralysed with fear. Tom went back for them. He got the little boy to safety, and then went back for the two girls. He was wearing a fluorescent vest, and was clearly unarmed. An Israeli sniper shot him in the head … The soldier who shot him, Taysir Hayb, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eleven and a half years in prison [He was a Bedouin, would this have happened to a Jew?]. A British inquest into the killing found that the killing was intentional – in other words, murder.. 
link to palsolidarity.org

12 January 2009: The Ayad family
PCHR 12 Jan 2012 — If there is another war I won’t be moving, even if we die there, I don’t want to go through that again” On 12 January 2009, the Ayad family home in the Zaytoon area of Gaza City was bulldozed by Israeli forces. Rezeq Ayad, 60, his wife Yusra, 58, and their four sons Mustafa, 16, Muhammed, 20, Abdel Kareem 26, and Khalil, 29, and Khalil’s two daughters were left homeless as a result of the attack. The family had left the area a few days prior to the destruction of their home, as a result of the intense Israeli bombardment of the area … Now back in the family home – which they started rebuilding in May 2010 and moved into in October 2010 – the two are glad and thankful that the family are now safe and relatively secure once again. “I remember that time and I just thank God we are all still alive,” says Rezeq. “We had left the house with nothing but the clothes we were wearing and a few blankets and mattresses,” explains Abdel Kareem, “we lost everything with the house when it was bulldozed.”
link to palsolidarity.org

13 January 2009: Hibba al-Najjar
PCHR 13 Jan 2012 — “The first two years I could manage but this year I have been suffering a lot from the loss of my mother. When I see girls from my school with their mother or talking about their mother, I miss my mother even more. I need to have her with me.” In the early morning of 13 January 2009, following two days of home demolitions, the Israeli army started to shell the village of Khuza‘a and its surroundings, using high explosive and white phosphorous artillery shells. Israeli bulldozers, tanks and snipers were located on the edge of the village … “I can still hear the bullet hit my mother in the head. I was standing right beside her when the soldier stepped into the doorway of the house ahead and shot her. I could see him,” says Rawhiya’s 17 year old daughter Hibba as she depicts the situation with her arms. “I keep wondering why they killed my mother while she was carrying a white cloth in the street, but why I was not killed when I was on the roof of our house earlier that morning.”
link to palsolidarity.org

Racism / Discrimination

Law leaves thousands of divided families in limbo
Haaretz 13 Jan — High Court of Justice upheld the law banning Palestinians from permanently living in Israel with their Israeli spouses; couples to be dependent on good graces of Interior Ministry clerks to renew residency permits — ,,,One such couple is Falastin and Samir Ajaji, who have been married for 31 years. She is an Israeli citizen, from the village of Kaukab al-Hija in the Lower Galilee. He is from Sida, a village in the Tul Karm area of the West Bank. The Ajajis have two sons and two daughters, ages 10, 8, 6 and 2. Until three months ago, Samir received a permit to enter Israel for one week every three months. Recently, the situation improved and he was allowed to visit his family for one week every month … Falastin said they have been submitting forms for family unification for 13 years.
link to www.haaretz.com

Israeli-Palestinian couples on Citizenship Law: Supreme Court guided by Israeli racism
Haaretz 12 Jan — Thousands of families of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians have been waiting for years for a Supreme Court decision rejecting Israel’s Citizenship Law. Wednesday’s ruling to uphold the law puts an end to their hope of obtaining citizenship for their spouses and receiving permanent status in Israel.
link to www.haaretz.com

A glimpse into the life of an Israeli-Palestinian couple / Amira Hass
Haaretz 13 Jan — …Israelis who live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip lose their state social benefits – but not the Israeli Jews who live in the settlements. “Mixed” Palestinian couples live under a constant cloud of uncertainty and fear of the future.What if Israel goes back to barring Israelis from Palestinian Authority territory? What if the trend of anti-Arab legislation continues and the state decides to strip their children, or them, of their citizenship?
link to www.haaretz.com

Daughter of US immigrants wages legal battle against mikveh ban
Haaretz 13 Jan — Plia Oryah, a Modi’in native, is among several parties to a December 29 petition asking Israel’s Supreme Court to compel religious authorities to reverse official directives to municipal and regional ritual bath operators … The rabbinic prohibitions against single women immersing themselves generally stem from a concern that some women may utilize their “ritually pure status” as a pretext for engaging in forbidden pre-marital relations.
link to www.haaretz.com

Draft law will protect soldiers who refuse to hear women sing
Haaretz 13 Jan — The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will decide on Sunday whether a bill that would protect soldiers who refuse to attend ceremonies at which women sing will be backed by the coalition.
link to www.haaretz.com

Israeli economist fired after attacking ‘Ashkenazi establishment’
Haaretz 12 Jan — The chief economist of the Excellence Nessuah brokerage firm was unceremoniously ousted on Wednesday after launching a blistering attack on “the Ashkenazi establishment” that included calling Bank Leumi “the whites’ bank.”
link to www.haaretz.com

Shas: Ethnic discrimination still alive and kicking
Ynet 12 Jan — The Shas faction expressed sympathy Thursday for the sentiments voiced by Shlomo Maoz, an economist fired over controversial remarks criticizing the “Ashkenazi élite.” … In a statement, Shas said it “isn’t surprised by the incident because it has been pointing out the discrimination against Mizrahim for years.”
link to www.ynetnews.com

Political developments / Diplomacy

Jordan allows Islamic Jihad to join PLO meet in Amman
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Jan — Jordan has agreed to allow an Islamic Jihad delegation to join talks in Amman to discuss the future of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the movement said Thursday. In December, Jordan denied Islamic Jihad delegates visas to attend a meeting in Amman of the PLO’s “interim leadership” committee, which will handle restructuring of the PLO.
link to www.maannews.net

Israeli, Palestinian delegates to meet for third round of direct talks
Reuters 13 Jan — Negotiators to hold meetings in Amman under the auspices of Jordan’s King Abdullah, who will visit U.S. President Barack Obama next week to review developments — Israelis and Palestinians will hold their third round of face-to-face meetings this year on Saturday in what diplomats hope might lead to the resumption of full peace talks, sources on each side said on Friday.
link to www.haaretz.com

West Bank: ‘Nothing new offered by Israelis in talks, Abbas says
AP 12 Jan — Israel has made no new proposals in meetings with Palestinians about the possibility of resuming formal peace talks, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said Thursday. The sides have met twice in Jordan, and plan two more meetings.
link to www.nytimes.com

PA: We’ll end talks if no progress within 2 weeks
JPost 12 Jan — Abbas says Palestinians won’t renew negotiations unless Israel stops settlement construction, agrees to 2-state solution — The Palestinian Authority threatened Thursday to pull out from the Jordanian-sponsored talks with Israel if no progress is achieved by January 26.
link to www.jpost.com

Palestinian youth ‘fed up with illegitimate representation’ to protest negotiations / Alison Deger
13 Jan — Opposing the “negotiations to return to negotiations,” a group known as“Palestinians for Dignity,” yesterday released a statement against the meetings between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The call is for a silent demonstration on January 14, in Ramallah, protesting the political leadership and demanding Palestinian national council elections (in which exiled Palestinians also vote). The statement follows another, earlier this month, from Leila Khaled and other Arab intellectuals opposing the “hostile framework” of the talks:
link to mondoweiss.net

Haniyeh to host reconciliation talks
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Jan — Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will host Hamas and Fatah leaders at his home in Gaza City on Saturday for reconciliation talks, his foreign minister said. Muhammad Awad told Ma‘an the Hamas premier would encourage the delegations to work faster to implement the reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo last May. Haniyeh will also update the party leaders on his recent regional tour, which included visits to Turkey, Sudan, Egypt and Tunisia, Awad added.
link to www.maannews.net

Egyptians consider Palestine visit to aid reconciliation
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — The Palestinian Authority ambassador to Cairo said Friday that Egyptian officials were considering a visit to the Palestinian territories in order to boost reconciliation talks. Yasser Othman told Ma‘an that Egypt was pushing forward efforts to implement unity between Hamas and Fatah and closely following the work of the Palestinian reconciliation committee. The ambassador said obstacles to political reconciliation were to be expected given the years of division, but Egypt would continue to support the work of the reconciliation committee.
link to www.maannews.net

Abbas tells diaspora groups reconciliation on track
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that national reconciliation talks have made concrete achievements despite obstacles along the way. Abbas made the comments during a meeting with Palestinian delegations from refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. The president added that Fatah and Hamas are determined to implement the deal signed on May 1.
link to www.maannews.net

Hamas, Fatah see differing causes for reconciliation delay
AFP 12 Jan — Gaza’s Hamas leader on Thursday blamed Israeli interference and unspecified “external pressures” for a delay in implementing reconciliation with the rival Fatah movement. But a senior Fatah official said the real cause of the hold-up was internal divisions within Hamas itself. “Palestinian reconciliation is confronted by external pressures and by Israeli interference meant to block it and delay its implementation on the ground,” Ismail Haniya, premier in Hamas-ruled Gaza, told a public meeting with MPs and delegates of other Palestinian factions in Gaza City.
link to news.yahoo.com

Abbas on diplomacy tour of Europe
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — President Mahmoud Abbas will travel to Britain, Germany and Russia next week, presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said on Thursday. Abbas will meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during the tour, Rdainah told official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa. Rdainah emphasized that the three countries are members of the UN Security Council, indicating that diplomacy around the stalled bid for UN membership may be ongoing.
link to www.maannews.net

Turkey dropping Marmara lawsuits
Ynet 13 Jan — Sources in the US State Department said that the Turkish attorney general has ordered that all legal proceedings against Israeli elements involved in the IDF raid on the Marmara ship in May 2010 to be halted, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday. The State Department said that this decision is linked to US efforts to defuse tensions between Israel and Turkey. This includes attempts by Israeli envoy to Turkey David Meidan to find a formula which will allow the sides to end hostility.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Turkey denies Israeli report that Mavi Marmara lawsuits dropped
EI 13 Jan — Turkey’s Anatolia News Agency carried this report, which has been translated for The Electronic Intifada: Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the news report on Mavi Marmara published in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronot newspaper ANKARA – MFA Spokesperson Selçuk Ünal denied claims that Turkey suspended cases that were opened against Israelis connected to the attack on the Mavi Marmara flotilla. In his statement to the Anatolian Agency, Spokesperson Ünal said “the claims in this report do not reflect the reality.”
link to electronicintifada.net

UN chief: Attacks on scientists ‘not acceptable’
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) 13 Jan — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday any killing like that of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran earlier this week was to be condemned, a UN spokesman said … “Any terrorist action or assassination of any people, whether scientist or civilian, is to be condemned. It is not acceptable. Human rights must be protected,” UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey quoted Ban as saying.

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