You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of democracy, social justice and the equality of mankind in your own native soil. [Mohammed Ali Jinnah]

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Recent Poll covering Pakistan's political situation, by IRI

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Musharraf Has Muzzled Legal Critics: NY Times

Source: New York Times KARACHI — Not so long ago, Muneer A. Malik was often photographed sitting on the roof of a Mitsubishi Pajero, fists raised, showered with rose petals and thronged by supporters as he accompanied the embattled Supreme Court chief justice on protest cavalcades that became the starkest symbol of opposition to President Pervez Musharraf’s rule.

Today, Mr. Malik, a lawyer who helped lead the movement of his colleagues, goes nowhere but the hospital and home. He is frail, his face is drawn, he walks through his house slowly and cautiously. He says he is happy to be alive.

For speaking out against President Musharraf, whom the United States has held up as its bulwark against Islamic militancy in this country, Mr. Malik spent three weeks in jail, where his kidneys failed and he ended up, he says, close to death. He said his doctors told him it was a combination of dehydration, malnutrition and the presence of unknown toxins in his body. Only recently, after more than a month spent in and out of the hospital, medical tests confirmed that he was out of danger.

He is now also free to talk. The government’s detention order against him was lifted Nov. 26, while he lay in a hospital in the capital, Islamabad.

Some of his closest lawyer friends have not been as lucky, as Mr. Musharraf has muzzled his legal critics, at least for now. Since Nov. 3, when the president declared an emergency and dismissed the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who had been the chief justice, has been prohibited from leaving his house in Islamabad; his family is locked up with him, and their street is heavily guarded.

Mr. Malik’s friend and the main leader of the lawyers movement, a veteran lawyer-politician named Aitzaz Ahsan, is under house arrest in Lahore, prohibited from speaking to outsiders, including the American and British ambassadors to Pakistan, both of whom came to meet him at home in recent weeks and were turned back.

Two other leaders of the lawyers movement, Ali Ahmed Kurd, of Quetta, and Tariq Mehmood, of Islamabad, are also under house arrest. None of these leaders can talk to one another, except covertly. A protest strike by lawyers has begun to fizzle out. Mr. Malik said young lawyers in particular had been compelled to return to work and make a living.

On Wednesday night, Mr. Malik sounded unbowed.

“Repression increases as the strength of the movement grows,” he said at his home, dressed in loose white pajamas rather than his customary lawyer’s black coat. “Finally, one or the other has to break, but history teaches us the right always prevails in the end.”

The lawyers movement began last spring with the suspension of the chief justice, Mr. Chaudhry, who had dogged Mr. Musharraf’s government on a range of issues, from human rights to the validity of elections. Mr. Chaudhry became a symbol of judicial independence, and Mr. Musharraf endured months of protests by black-coated men and women across the country. Four months later, the president backed down and reinstated Mr. Chaudhry to his post.

Then, last November, days before Mr. Chaudhry’s court was expected to rule that Mr. Musharraf was ineligible for a third term in office, the president declared a state of emergency. He accused the court of meddling in state affairs, and had Mr. Chaudhry escorted out of his office and the leaders of the lawyers movement rounded up on orders of preventive detention.

Mr. Malik said his arrest warrant described him as “likely to make inflammatory speeches.” He was plucked from a hotel in Islamabad, where he had gone to appear on a television program, and taken to a jail in Rawalpindi, where Mr. Ahsan was already in the next cell. “He was delighted to see me,” Mr. Malik recalled.

The two men had been jailed years ago for bucking the military rule of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq. Jail itself was not a frightening thing.

But as Mr. Malik says now, he did not anticipate what came after. Three days later, in the middle of the night, he said, he was taken from Rawalpindi to another jail, in Attock, where he was held in a tiny cell. When allowed out, he repeatedly walked 60 steps from one end of the yard to the other, so he could at least stretch his legs. He was allowed no books, no newspapers. A table and two chairs were placed in the middle of his cell, as if to constantly remind him that he would be interrogated. He never was.

“All I could do was lie down in that cell,” he recalled. “From one end to the other you could barely take four steps.”

He was in solitary confinement for the first two days, and on a hunger strike. Slowly, the jail filled up with other lawyers and political workers. And then, one by one, everyone was released, except him.

He could sleep only with sleeping pills, which the doctor at the jail prescribed. He was also given heavy pain killers, after complaining of problems urinating. Within days, his legs and stomach had begun to swell. He became short of breath. He became so disoriented that he was losing chronological memory. “If you asked me to recap what happened, I couldn’t,” he said. “I was all alone. All the people who had been detained were all released.”

On Nov. 23, he was transferred to an Islamabad hospital, then to Karachi, where he underwent repeated dialysis treatments. He plans to go to the United States for toxicology tests.

For now, he concedes, the lawyers movement seems to be on hold. Its leaders are prevented from talking to one another. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has transformed the political landscape. Restrictions on the Pakistani media, Mr. Malik said, have pinched the lawyers’ efforts to publicize their campaign. Since Nov. 3, Pakistan’s largest television news network, Geo News, has been off the air, and it remains unclear whether it will be allowed to resume operations in time for elections, now scheduled for Feb. 18.

“We have to change tactics,” Mr. Malik said. “It’s now or never. If we don’t succeed by February, we will not have any kind of judiciary.”

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Sins of omission, sins of commission haunt Bush in Pakistan

Source: Salt Lake Tribune

By Joe Galloway

In the real world, there are consequences. For every action there’s a reaction, and often even inaction triggers a reaction.

The unfolding disaster in Pakistan in the wake of the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is in part a reaction to a series of inactions and actions by the Bush administration during the past six years.

Bush and Company took their eyes off the ball and became preoccupied with the sideshow of their own creation in Iraq as things went sideways and backward in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Then they outsourced much of the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

After the attacks on America on 9/11, President Bush quite rightly took aim at al-Qaida and the Taliban government in Afghanistan that was sheltering the terrorist group responsible for those attacks.

A relatively small group of U.S. special operators rented enough tribal leaders and their armies and, backed by American air power, were able to topple the Taliban government and put al-Qaida on the run. A force of only 7,000 U.S. Army and Marine troops went in to chase the bad guys.

So far, so good, or so it seemed. But the administration declared victory prematurely - a bad habit it would repeat elsewhere - and turned many of its resources and most of its attention to invading Iraq while Osama bin Laden and the Taliban leadership escaped into Pakistan.

Benign neglect is a dangerous policy in the badlands along the Afghan-Pakistani border, where the bleached bones of invading armies litter the mountain passes and the inhospitable deserts. Rudyard Kipling, the poet laureate of the British Indian Army, had this to say on the subject:

”When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains, ”And the women come out to cut up your remains, ”Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains, ”And go to your God like a soldier.”

Job One was Afghanistan, but it was left undone, too unimportant a backwater for the foreign policy amateurs, neoconservative ideologues and military dilettantes advising the president. A pre-emptive invasion of Iraq and the toppling of a hated dictator in the heart of the Middle East - a cheap, easy and quick cakewalk - was what we needed.

Never mind that we’d chased a bunch of fanatical terrorists into a part of Pakistan that no central government has ever conquered or controlled. We’d just throw $10 billion to Pakistan’s military dictator and get him to take care of our problem, as if he didn’t have enough problems of his own dealing with Islamist fanatics.

Now both Afghanistan and Pakistan are coming unraveled, and are likely to become two more disasters added to the growing list of ”things to do” in the disaster department that President George W. Bush will hand to his unlucky successor in the White House a year from now.

Afghanistan is a mess. We installed a weak central government whose writ doesn’t run much beyond the city limits of Kabul and starved it of the aid needed to repair a nation ravaged by three decades of war and civil war. The Soviet Union sent 100,000 troops to wage unlimited and barbaric war and was defeated. By contrast, we have 20,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and we’ve browbeaten our reluctant NATO allies into sending an additional 50,000, many of whom are under orders from home not to take risks or get anyone killed.

The Taliban guerrillas, operating from safe havens in Pakistan’s rugged frontier province, are on the march. They’ve learned from the war in Iraq, and their IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and suicide bombers are taking a deadly toll. More American troops were killed in Afghanistan in 2007 than in any year since 2002.

In Pakistan, the radical madrassas are churning out recruits for the Taliban and al-Qaida faster than the allies and the Afghan army can kill them, and every time we’ve pushed Gen. Musharraf to send his soldiers in to clean out the sanctuaries, most of them have been killed or captured.

The administration’s solution: Force Musharraf to take off his uniform and enter into an unholy alliance of sorts with the long-exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, whose time in power was marked mainly by an explosion of corruption remarkable even in a country where corruption is endemic.

It’s no surprise that she was killed. She was buried next to her father, former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, another smooth-talking, Western-educated darling of the foreigners, who was hanged by a previous military dictator.

All this might be of little interest if only Pakistan didn’t have a cellar full of nuclear warheads. Real nuclear weapons, unlike the imaginary nuclear weapons program our leaders brandished as a reason to invade Iraq or the one they trotted out to turn up the heat on Iran - until the intelligence community pulled the rug out from under that crusade.

All of it is so complicated it must make George W. Bush’s head hurt.

*JOE GALLOWAY is a senior military correspondent and author. He can be reached at

699 bank branches, 148 ATMs damaged in recent violence across country: SBP

Karachi, Pakistan, Jan.05 (PPI): State Bank of Pakistan has collected details of banks' branches damaged across the country due to the law and order situation following the assassination of Ms. Benazir Bhutto, according to which a total of 699 branches and 148 ATMs have been damaged. Out of these bank branches, 409 were partially and 290 were fully damaged, SBP Press release said Saturday. Total loss inflicted on banks as a result of this damage is estimated at around Rs 1.2 billion. The highest number of branches i.e. 521 have been damaged in Sindh Province followed by 164 in Punjab, 7 in NWFP and 7 in Balochistan. Banks have ensured continuity of operations of the damaged branches by making necessary arrangements, the Press release said.


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Scotland Yard examines Bhutto murder scene- which 'scene' ?

Jan 5 (AFP): Counter-terrorism experts from Scotland Yard Saturday made their first inspection of the site where former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated last week, police said. “The Scotland Yard team is examining the venue where she addressed a rally and the site where she was attacked,” a Rawalpindi police official told AFP.

Which scene ? the one that was washed within 2-3 hours of the incident with the use of chemicals ? what will they find from that scene ? Its all a drama, actual murderers will remain 'hidden' (though, all of them are nominated and exposed, unofficially) and all the blame will be put on 'Al-kaaaaeeeedaaa' ... even they have denied any kind of involvement in the incident and also PPP leadership rejected the Govt. conclusion that 'Al-kaaaaeeeedaaa' in involved in it. Whom they are trying to fool ? I guess its Bush whom they are trying to fool ... but he is already a fool then who ? Is it us ?

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Pakistan: Always A Martial Show

Pakistan came into being out of a nationalist cause; The ethnic Muslim minority felt that it’s rights will be preserved and well served under a separate democratic setup, rather than living along an overwhelming majority of Hindus. Also there is a theory that Great Britain also wanted a buffer state between Muslim belt and India, to save a quarter of world’s population living in Sub-Continent from effects of "Islamization", as well as break it into multiple segments, so it never emerges as a challenging power to it’s ambitions in East.(Middle East, Hong Kong, Burma and Japan to name a few). Nevertheless, we had PAKISTAN.

Sub-Continent was divided according to electoral results of 1946 elections, the area where Muslim League won majority seats, constituted Pakistan. One can assume that since the basis of a country coming into being is democratic, It will inherit a democratic culture and it will continue to be a democracy. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, owing specifically to one institution, Military.

In 1947 Gen. Gracy was Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Pakistan. The first challenge for the young army was to brace itself against the Indian advance in Kashmir. Mr. Jinnah, the democratically elected head of state ordered Gen. Gracy to counter Indian army’s mobilization. It was flatly refused by him, saying that he still took orders from British imposed Viceroy of India, not the Governor General of Pakistan.

Time taken to sort that out, proved consequential as young indigenous officers, under the is command, had seen how they can challenge authority of democratic institutes to serve their own interests.

This was the seed of poisonous ivy which will engulf Pakistan in times to come. After General Gracy, there were twelve Military Chiefs up till Gen. Musharraf. One died mysteriously during his tenure, Two were prematurely retired by suspecting Prime Minsiters, out of the remaining nine, five have been the De-Facto Presidents of Pakistan ( three for a little over than ten years each and two for a few months) primarily as a result of string of coups against the democratic Governments.

There have been various common patterns with regards to these military takeovers. Firstly, it is always done in a roughly ten year cyclic period. Pakistan came into being in 1947. General Ayub ruled from 1958-1969. General Zia ruled from 1978-1988. General Musarraf ruled from 1999-2007. Ironically they almost coincide with either the beginning or the end of an American (usually Republican) Presidential term.

All military dictators have given concessions to US and its allies in return for strong military assistance. Gen Ayub during height of cold war gave bases to American U-2 spy planes in return for 100 plus F-86 fighters & generous aid to Army. General Zia turned Pakistan as a base of operations for CIA and Afghani fighters during Russian Invasion in return for F-16’s, Combat helicopters and missile defense systems. General Musharraf once again acceded to American Intelligence and Military and gave air and ground bases for American Invasion of Afghanistan in return for U.S. $70 million a month military assistance.

As long as these dictators have served White House well, there has been minimal pressure on them from international community, each one of them has carried out their personal agenda of quenching democratic movements and strengthening their rule, via active role of military intelligence agencies in virtually every Governmental institute and society.

Each one of them had a dismal human rights record. They arrested, killed, abducted or exiled anyone and everyone from civil society raising voice of concern. These include prominent writers, poets, actors, democratic workers, labor unionists, student leaders, journalists and lawyers.

They have played havoc with country’s constitution to suit to one man rule. They have shaped Military and society alike to suit their own mental ideals.

Gen Ayub abolished provinces and states and turned Pakistan into one unit under his direct rule. He made a trusted general, Governor of the East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). His atrocities were so grand that it resulted in thousands of deaths, political instability and eventually it’s breakup from Pakistan.

General Zia "religiosized" the military to an extent that it’s motto during his time was converted to Emaan(Faith), Jihad (Holy War) and Taqva (Piousness) Fi Sabilillah(For the sake of Allah). Services Book Club printed thousands of volumes of Jihadi text, the whole fight in Afghanistan was fought in the name of religion. This resulted in elements of military sympathizing with religious and Jihadi groups, turned Pakistan into a safe haven for them, who later emerged as Al-Qaeda & Taliban. He amended constitution so that he can dismiss elected assemblies at his will, which he exercised in 1987.

General Musharraf played havoc with the constitution in place, suspending it twice, abolishing all fundamental, constitutional and human rights of a nation of 160 million. He marginalized the Balouch and Pasthun ethnicities via military operations in minor provinces. Divided the society with his newfound ‘moderate’ and ‘hardliner’ muslim themes. Intelligence agencies leashed illegal abduction operations which resulted in the ill-famous “Missing Persons” case of hundreds of people abducted by agencies and made them “disappear”.

Moreover, the democratically elected leaders, specially sitting Prime Ministers have been removed from the national political scene by military covertly or overtly, during the coups or during the tenure of dictatorships. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali was shot (1953), Opposition Leader Miss Fatima Jinnah was strangled to death, (1966) Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto hanged (1979), Prime Minister Junejo removed (1987), Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif exiled (1999), opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto shot(2007). All these cases remain unsolved till date; there has been no pressure from outside or inside to hold a fair or international investigation. The Grand Masters in Washington never bothered about it as well.

This leads to a simple equation for any Military Commander. As long as he can exploit interests of White House and serve them well, he can not only conduct coup, rule the country and can share the spoils of the power with corrupt top brass.

The Question is why is it happening so very often? We might have to consider countless parameters of this equation, but a few according to my understanding are listed here.

The intelligence machinery in democratic states is usually under civilian watch, as is the case in with D.S.T. in France, R.A.W. in India or with the CIA & US Senate. In Pakistan, the ill-famed ISI(Inter Services Intelligence) is a subset of Military. Governed and operated specifically by Pakistan Army. Since in Pakistani politics Military is a stake holder, therefore it serves military’s interest of remaining in power. Unless ISI and tens of other intelligence agencies like it i.e. the M.I.(Military Intelligence), I.B.(Intelligence Bureau) and Paramilitary FIUs(Field Investigation Units) etc. are properly “Civilized”, recurrence of coups won’t stopped easily.

Superior rights of military personal should be abolished. In the amended constitution of Pakistan, amended off course by the military, any Military officer is not answerable in a civilian court; any military authority, which in the name of defense personal welfare accumulates nearly 20% of country’s 796096 sq. km territory, or military cantonments, is not answerable to Metropolitan or Civilian governments. Hence the commissioned officers, specifically top brass specifically enjoy benefits of vast array of real estate schemes, minting millions.

Corporate Ventures of the Military which range from Banks, Financial Services, Heavy industries, Commercial hospitals, Dairy products, Arms & Ammunition Exports need to be put under civilian check and balance or abolished altogether.

Constitutional amendments made during the tenure of dictatorships, which among other things, resulted in exceptional powers for one man rule must be rolled back.

International stance especially from EU and US as well as from China (another "friend" of military dictatorship) should be of no-tolerance for dictators.

People of Pakistan should have access to free media & independent judiciary which can keep a check on excesses of military. Keep people informed and provide them relief.

I might have been a little demanding, but until these and many other things that provide military with a huge leverage over civil society aren’t roll-backed, there will be one military dictator after the other, until this country falls apart and breaks up into minno radical ethnic states, turning South Asia into another war torn Africa, which I fear is just around the corner.

The writer, Mohammad Ali, 26, is a Lahore University of Management Sciences alumni, He contributes to, He lives and works nowadays in Islamabad, Pakistan. He can be reached at