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]

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Musharraf Allows U.S Forces to Operate Freely in Pakistan

“The Pentagon has re-negotiated a new agreement which expands its role in Pakistan to allow U.S. to fight terrorism inside Pakistan. U.S. military Special Forces have been given permission to vastly expand their presence in Pakistan to operate more or less unilaterally to capture terrorists.

Pakistan is the epicenter of global terrorism… There is a sanctuary in Pakistan where Taliban and Al-Qaeda withdraw to in order to be safe from [US operation in Afghanistan] but to threaten the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan… We have given you [Musharrah] all this leeway and you really have not defeated Al-Qaeda. In fact the situation is worst than ever. So we are not going to follow our policy of deferring this matter to you anymore…

After a complete command change in the U.S. military in 2007, a new admiral Eric Olson upped his priority to finding ways of increasing the level of military activities inside Pakistan. That began a series of very sensitive negotiations with the Pakistani authorities…

The US may use undercover Special Ops instead of soldiers in uniform walking down the street as an observable force…”

— American military trainers in Pakistan will directly finance a tribal paramilitary force, pay militias that agreed to fight Al Qaeda and foreign extremists.

For more details please visit Washington Post  and New York Times

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If a Bhutto must run Pakistan, why not Fatima?

Source: Telegraph

By Jemima Khan

Death duties are being reformed in this country and the upper limit extended. They don’t come more onerous than those left to Bilawal Bhutto, né Zardari. Many Oxford undergraduates consider a career in politics; few are handed a political party, a new name and the statistical probability that you’re not going to die of old age, in bed.

Benazir Bhutto’s 19-year-old son and heir will lead the PPP into the upcoming elections, which his party is likely to win, thanks to the martyr factor. Then he will return to Oxford to complete his studies leaving a regent, in the form of his infamous father, Asif Ali Zardari, in charge. Apparently - and this is widely disputed in Pakistan - this is in accordance with his mother’s letter of wishes.

Zardari, widely known as Mr Ten Per Cent, has spent more than a decade in jail in Pakistan on corruption charges. He is believed to have looted up to $1.5 billion from the Treasury, is appealing a conviction by a Swiss court for money-laundering and faces a separate inquiry in Britain. More sinisterly, he was also accused of complicity in the murder of Benazir’s brother, Murtaza Bhutto.

Pity Pakistan. If anything good could have come from Benazir’s assassination it was that the PPP would reform and re-establish itself as a modern and truly democratic party. As the PPP is one half of a two-party system, the party’s survival is vital for Pakistan’s democracy. Founded by Benazir’s father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, it is also the only national grassroots party in Pakistan’s history.

Some say the party is rotten to its core. That’s untrue. There still exists a minority of incorruptible and principled politicians, as well as the favoured, acquiescent types. Others claim there are no credible leaders to replace Benazir within the party. Also untrue. Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and PPP stalwart, emerged as a national hero and natural successor when he stood up to the military and protested against the dismissal of the chief justice. For this he was jailed, beaten and kept in solitary confinement. He remains under house arrest in Lahore. And as he has credibility, experience and popular support, it suits all the power seekers both inside and outside the PPP that he stays there.

The justification for the selection of Benazir’s son as chairman was that only a Bhutto could provide unity within the party. If so, then why not 25-year-old Fatima Bhutto, who is arguably more qualified for the job than her teenage Facebooking cousin? If everything’s in a name, Fatima need not have changed hers in order to inherit. Brought up in Pakistan, unlike Bilawal, and a native speaker, she is an established writer and political commentator. At least she has some work experience. Aunt Benazir’s first-ever job was prime minister of a 160-million-strong nation.

It helps, in a lookist society, that she’s also as beautiful as her aunt - a young Salma Hayek lookalike - and has similar tragic appeal: orphaned, like most Bhuttos, as a result of a political assassination. Fatima is also politicised and outspoken. Too much so. She repeatedly accused her aunt of being complicit in the murder of her father and savagely opposed Zardari. That ruled her out.

The real reason Fatima is my favourite Bhutto, though, is that she has the sense to realise that a few good articles and the right surname don’t qualify her for leadership. Unlike others in the family, she rejects the notion that political power is her birthright: “I don’t think my name qualifies me or makes me the best person.”

The result of Benazir’s bequest may be the disintegration of the PPP. Mumtaz Bhutto, clan elder and former chief minister of Sindh, has already publicly said: “This will split the party very badly. Zardari has no political acumen.”

The only consensus within the party was that Zardari was to blame for his wife’s transgressions. Once emotions subside, the true horror of the succession will sink in. Zardari’s rule, even as regent, is unsustainable.

When political parties claiming to represent democracy are run like monarchies, posthumously electing family members and quashing all dissent, what hope is there for democracy in the country?

It always strikes me as patronising when outsiders claim that Pakistan has no other credible leaders. The argument in favour of Benazir was always “Well, who else?”

The problem is that in a country where clans and names bear such significance, the circles of power are closed. It’s the system that fails to allow other leaders to emerge that is the problem, not the lack of viable alternatives. In rural Sindh and Punjab feudal landlords have always dominated politics and the educated middle class remains excluded.

A ruling family may well produce the odd leader who is adequate and groomed to rule. It is equally likely to spawn an ineffectual, out-of-touch and parasitic elite that sucks the lifeblood from the country, perpetuating the cycle of poverty, popular revolt and military coups that has bedevilled Pakistan’s history.

If the PPP wins the elections, as is expected, the question becomes: is this democracy, as our leaders in the West would have it, or rather a dynasty posing in democracy’s figleaf?

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Chaudhry's Selling their Assets ?

AAJ TV reports that the Chaudhry brothers, the movers and shakers of PML-Q since the past five years and a political ally of Pervaiz Musharraf are selling their assets in Pakistan and transferring their accumulated wealth to foreign lands. AAJ has received this privy information from sources very close to the Chaudhry Shujaat and Chaudhry Pervaiz Ellahi. They have reportedly liquidated a very major chunk of their family heritage and have subsequently transferred the income to some European destinations

Its not surprising that all rulers that come into this country amass a large amount of wealth and once they have a falling our with the people they choose to run towards a self enforced exile along with all their ill begotten wealth. I suspect since the past few days both the Chaudhry Borthers have now had a falling out with the king and are gearing up for a quick exit. This is nothing new for Pakistan, and people like Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto and more recently Shaukat Aziz (rumored to be in London) all have fled the country on one pretext or another.

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Name and Shame Campaign

As we are all aware that for any system to function, an efficient check and balance must be in place. In that light, for a governmental system to function a similar check and balance must exist, which can only come from an Independant judiciary, a free media, and a watchdog civil society. We all are also aware that if this judiciary, which for the first time dared question the executive is not restored, then no judge for the coming 60 yrs will dare do the same. Hence, our commitment to the restoration of the judiciary as it was pre Nov 3rd.

For that end, and for becoming the effective watchdog that we aim to become, the first step begins from these elections. People must know who they are voting for, and what these people stand for. The government must know that we will not stand for any rigging in the elections and will do our utmost to prevent and expose any rigging. And most importantly, all the politicians must know that times have changed, and now they will be held accountable.

The Name and Shame CampaignWe research into the positives and negatives of major political figures in Pakistan's major political parties. This would include:

  1. Their work in the halqa/constituency (goods and bads that happened during their last term in power)
  2. Their positions on various legislation in the National Assembly/Senate
  3. Allegations: Proven/Unproven against them

All of the above need to be referenced from credible sources.

Hence, the main players of all the political parties (PPP, PML-N, PML-Q, MQM, MMA) must be covered. So pick any of your choice and inform us (RiseOfPakistan at Gmail dot com). Even if you're unable to research a complete profile, however much is in your capacity will be appreciated. The deadline for submission of the said information is Thursday 11th Jan, (Next week) by midnight. The subsequent weekend will be employed to circulate the findings as widely as possible.

Any suggestions for the furthering of our aims are welcome.

In solidarity,
Student Action Committee