Aurangzebawan's Weblog

October 8, 2008

Pakistan’s Flag Is A Symbol Of Freedom In India

Filed under: Politics — aurangzebawan @ 5:32 am

This should come as news for Pakistani defeatists. After Kashmir, the rest of the dozen or so freedom movements in India see Pakistan as a symbol of liberty and freedom. Pakistan’s media and intelligence agencies should project these incidents and stoke more support inside these Indian states as retaliation for Indian terrorism inside Pakistan’s Balochistan, tribal belt and other cities.

GAUHATI, India—Depressed from how New Delhi is suppressing local Assamese people who want to carve a separate homeland out of India, people in Assam waved Pakistan’s flags in five districts.

The eastern Indian state is one of a dozen Indian states in the north and east where ferocious freedoms movements are in full swing, demanding the right of self determination from Indian rule.

As usual, the Indian government, blaming Pakistani agencies for the violence, has ordered an immediate enquiry for this incident.

The officials in New Delhi are so disturbed by this that they have invoked patriotism while asking newspaper editors across India to black out any news about the freedom movements.

This week a student delegation visited the State’s governor and told him that ‘the villagers informed us that the miscreants were shouting slogans like Pakistan zindabad [Long live Pakistan] through loudspeakers in Dalgaon and some other border areas,” according to a report in The Assam Tribune.

The Indian paper called on the government to give “stern punishment to those who hoisted Pakistani flags.”

The Indian Express reported the story in one paragraph: “Meanwhile, media persons saw a Pakistani flag in Sonaripara and Mohanpur villages and took photographs of them. Local television channels also ran footage of the flags. Officials and security forces denied any knowledge of the presence of the flags.

New Delhi is disturbed by this new trend where the Pakistani flag has emerged as a symbol of freedom in India.

Indian officials are still smarting from the shock of a unanimous rejection of India across Kashmir. For years the Kashmiris have been marking India’s national day on Aug. 15 as a Black Day. But this year, Kashmir witnessed a unanimous civil disobedience and massive street protests where Kashmiris joined in raising the Pakistani flag and chanting slogans rejecting their forced inclusion in the Indian state.

The massive protests shocked the Indian media and ordinary Indians who for years were shielded by New Delhi authorities from ground realities in Kashmir and were fed an official version that almost the entire free Indian media adhered to without asking questions. The size and the impressive unanimity of Kashmiri protests this year helped break Indian official media blackout and provided the Indian people a chance to see for their own what their governments have been hiding for decades now, where the Kashmir dispute was often peddled as a Pakistani creation and not the result of indigenous Kashmiri demands.

This story should come as surprising news to a vocal minority in Pakistani media that continues to hold an inferiority complex concerning the Indian government. This Pakistani minority is used to exaggerating Pakistani flaws and glorifying India and presenting it as a country devoid of any flaws [Editor’s note: This is called ‘Bollywood Effect’. This minority needs to break the spell and improve its taste by watching some quality movies from Hollywood and elsewhere.]

This is a good opportunity for Pakistani media organizations and spy agencies to project the freedom movements inside various Indian states that want independence from Indian rule. Pakistanis recall how the Indian government broke international law and issued a statement supporting its own trained and funded terrorists in Pakistani Balochistan in 2006. This is why it has become imperative to pay the New Delhi establishment in the same coin. Assam and the rest of the twelve or so Indian states that are fighting for independence are a good place to start.

October 7, 2008

Pakistani Official to U.S.: Talk to Taliban’s Mullah Omar

Filed under: Uncategorized — aurangzebawan @ 7:23 am

Karzai an ‘obstacle’ to peace

 

U.S apologists and poodles inside Pakistan are trying to convince Pakistanis to unnecessarily ‘own’ America’s blunders in the region as Pakistan’s own.  Not Owais Ghani, the governor of NWFP.   Terrorism inside Pakistan is partially linked to foul play on the Afghan side of the border, and partially to misguided local Pakistani extremists who, again, are influenced from across the border. The real issue is Washington’s failure to bring peace to Afghanistan despite seven years of occupation. Mr. Ghani comes out to tell the truth: The U.S. must broker a power-sharing agreement with the head of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Omar, in order to establish peace in the region. Mr. Ghani’s also said that Hamid Karzai represents no one but himself and is dependent on a foreign power and that he is an obstacle to bringing peace to Afghanistan. When asked about allegations that Pakistan has used the Taliban to retain its influence in Afghanistan, Mr. Ghani replied: “We could counter that by saying India uses the Northern Alliance.” Mr. Ghani’s landmark proposal came in an interview published by London’s Daily Telegraph. Here are excerpts.

 

 

PESHAWAR, Pakistan—Owais Ghani, who governs the North West Frontier Province and its adjoining tribal areas, is the most prominent figure to date to publicly advocate holding talks with militant commanders leading the insurgency against coalition forces in Afghanistan.

 

“They have to talk to Mullah Omar, certainly – not maybe, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Haqqani group,” Mr Ghani told The Daily Telegraph in an interview in Peshawar.

 

“The solution, the bottom line, is that political stability will only come to Afghanistan when all political power groups, irrespective of the length of their beard, are given their just due share in the political dispensation in Afghanistan.”

 

The governor’s remarks are likely to cause controversy among Pakistan’s allies in the U.S.-led “war on terror” and at home where the ruling Pakistan’s People’s Party is opposed to the Taliban.

 

Mullah Omar went into hiding during the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. British intelligence believes that he has his headquarters in Quetta in southwestern Pakistan. But there is no evidence to suggest he is anywhere in Pakistan.

 

In 2006, Mr. Musharraf acknowledged that some retired Pakistani intelligence officials may still be involved in supporting their former Taliban protégés whom they worked with during the 1990s when Pakistan helped the movement sweep to power in Afghanistan.

 

[Seven years later, and with the fact that U.S. has empowered Pakistan’s traditional enemies in Afghanistan, including the Indians, it is only natural some officials in Islamabad begin to review their blind support to the U.S. occupation next door-Editor.]

 

Jalaluddin Haqqani is a veteran commander of the American-backed Afghan war against Soviet invasion in the 1970s and 1980s, and developed links with Osama bin Laden during that period.

 

Haqqani has had close links with the CIA and Pakistani intelligence agencies, notably the military Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

 

The New York Times reported in July that the CIA had given the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, evidence of the ISI’s continued involvement with Haqqani, who is now leading militants against coalition forces in Afghanistan, along with evidence of ISI connections to a suicide bombing at the Indian embassy in Kabul that killed nearly 60 people on July 7.

 

[On 12 July, Islamabad retorted by giving U.S. military chief Adm. Mike Mullen and the deputy director of CIA who arrived for a brief visit evidence that Afghan soil was being used for exporting terrorism into Pakistan as part of deliberate effort to stoke ethnic and sectarian terrorism in the country-Editor.]

 

The Hezb-e-Islami, the Mujahideen faction of the former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, was one of the groups which helped end the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan but has had links with Pakistan since 1978.

 

But in the civil war that followed in the early 1990s, his group clashed violently with other Mujahideen factions in the struggle for control of the Afghan capital, Kabul. The Hezb-e-Islami was blamed for much of the terrible death and destruction of that period, which led many ordinary Afghans to welcome the emergence of the Taliban.  Some of his party members are part of the Afghan parliament and he is said to have taken part in back-channel negotiations with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.

 

Mr. Ghani said that all three militant commanders were in Afghanistan.

 

“They are a power group that has to be preserved to seek political solutions. We would not destroy them because then you are contributing to further instability,” he said.  He denied that Pakistan “wants the Taliban back”.  He added: “No sir, we have no favorites in Afghanistan.”

 

Mr. Ghani said that West must accept that the “Mullah is a political reality”.

 

However he denied that Pakistan is supporting them by pointing out that it had handed over key Taliban ground commanders operating in Helmand province where British forces are based. [Not only that, but Islamabad needlessly humiliated and handed over to the Americans such Taliban officials as the former ambassador to Islamabad, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, someone who has in the protection of the Pakistani State and had not taken part in any unlawful activity, as transpired later when the Americans released him prematurely from Guantanamo Bay detention facility-Editor].

 

Senior American commanders and policymakers are considering a shift in strategy in Afghanistan. The chairman of the U.S. joint chief of staffs, Admiral Mike Mullen, recently said that failure there was possible and “time was running out”.

 

Mr Ghani said: “You are headed for failure. I think Afghanistan is practically lost. It is compounding our problems.”

 

The governor added that the West must hold talks with the Taliban as al-Qaeda was regrouping from Iraq to Afghanistan. Russia had begun to supply weapons to militants and that the Afghans were intolerant of foreigners on their soil and so were staging “a national uprising”.

 

“To eliminate the Taliban you have to slaughter half the Afghan nation,” said Mr Ghani.

 

Members of a cross-border Afghan-Pakistani tribal council agreed last year to pursue talks with the Taliban. The initiative received initial encouragement from the Taliban but its leadership then set preconditions for the 50,000 U.S. and Nato troops to be withdrawn.

 

Washington rejects talks with the Taliban maintaining that America will not negotiate with “terrorists”.  Mr. Karzai and the United Nations have stipulated that a key condition for peace talks is that the Taliban must accept the constitution that was signed by Mr. Karzai in 2004.

 

It is doubtful that America’s allies in Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance, would accept such talks.

 

Mr. Ghani said that Mr. Karzai “does not represent any power group – tribal, religious or political and therefore like the people in his government he is dependant on foreign power. He is therefore an obstacle to dialogue and peace.”

 

He described Pakistan’s military strategy as one of containment. “We are not looking for quick fixes. We want to hold it to a level where we can just tolerate it until Afghanistan settles down,” said Mr. Ghani.

 

When asked about allegations that Pakistan has used the Taliban to retain its influence in Afghanistan, Mr. Ghani replied: “We could counter that by saying India uses the Northern Alliance.”

October 6, 2008

Pakistan Ditching China?

Filed under: Politics — aurangzebawan @ 5:26 am

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—This is the first time that Pakistan does not have an ambassador in Beijing for several months now, which is an oddity. Washington and London were the first capitals where the Gilani government appointed ambassadors. That is supposedly understandable. The current government in Pakistan was possible only because of a political understanding – widely referred to in Islamabad as a ‘deal – which both capitals brokered with a weak and fading Mr. Musharraf.

 

But how China has slipped from the list of priorities of the Gilani government can be gauged from our expected participation this week in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit on Aug. 28. This is a Chinese and Russian dominated organization seen as a counterweight to U.S. influence in our region. In this first major foreign policy engagement for this government involving China, no senior politician from the Gilani administration will be representing Pakistan. Prime Minister Gilani has decided that, due to our pressing internal political situation, the advisor to the prime minister for national security – a former ambassador to Washington – will instead represent Islamabad. This will be the lowest Pakistani participation in SCO since its formation in 2001. It is true that Pakistan is still not a full member of the SCO. But Beijing is strongly advocating full membership for Islamabad and Moscow is more favorably inclined to go along than at any other time, putting aside Indian sensitivities.

 

Given how we are suffering from Washington’s destabilizing influence in our neighborhood, you would think we would have shown more enthusiasm for this week’s SCO summit. But this is not the case. What is interesting is that this attitude comes at the heel of several events in the past four months that have generated some concern among Pakistani Sinologists. This is a concern that has not turned to panic, not yet at least.

 

A couple of months ago, Dr. Shireen Mazari, a former head of a think tank funded by our Foreign Office, reported that our top diplomats received verbal ‘guidance’ from a well known Washington-based figure in the Gilani government to stop focusing too much on China and start a new policy of engagement with countries such as India and the United States.  This could be a personal opinion or a general policy observation, and all elected governments have the right to review policies. But in China’s case, we have accumulated several bad examples recently that the subject merits a special discussion.

 

In April, a fresh Prime Minister Gilani refused to attend the Olympic Torch Relay ceremony as the torch passed through Islamabad on the pretext that President Musharraf was also attending.

 

Considering how western members of the International Olympic Committee refused to include Pakistan in the torch route and how Beijing stuck to Islamabad, the Apr. 16 incident in the Pakistani capital was certainly a ghastly show of lopsided priorities.

 

And then on Aug. 8, Pakistan’s participation at the level of President in China’s most important event of the century was scuttled because of Pakistani politics. You can be certain that our Chinese friends were not very impressed when we sent to Beijing a prime minister widely seen as ‘remote-controlled’ – as opposed to a ‘puppet’ – along with the teenage chairman of the ruling party. It didn’t quite give the impression that we attached a lot of importance to an important event for China. Overall, it would be an understatement to say that this has not been a good year so far for Sino-Pakistani ties.

 

The principals of the Gilani government must excuse the skeptics when things like this happen. After all, the government has shown a lot of enthusiasm in focusing on ties with the United States. Washington was the first real foreign engagement for Prime Minister Gilani. You can discount the Saudi visit. That was limited to a one-point agenda: Cheap oil. Certainly the government has shown a lot of interest in hiring the services of an ‘American enthusiast’ to be our ambassador in Washington, followed by appointing the last serving ambassador there as the new national security advisor to the prime minister.

 

This is a government tinged with a heavy American dose. That is fine since this is an important relationship for Islamabad. But in the process, China should not be sidelined.

Afghanistan Occupation Is America’s War, Not Pakistan’s

Filed under: Politics — aurangzebawan @ 5:21 am

Did Pakistan take part in occupying Afghanistan? No we didn’t. So why should it be Pakistan’s responsibility to eliminate Afghan opposition and resistance groups? No, Mr. Zardari, this is America’s war, not Pakistan’s. Our war is limited to the tribal belt where Karzai and Indians are feeding gangs of criminals who call themselves ‘Pakistani Taliban’.  That’s where Pakistan’s war ends.  The real problem is not ISI or sanctuaries in Pakistan. The real problem is that Washington won’t talk to Afghan Taliban and other Afghan opposition groups and bring them into government in Kabul.  Karzai and his Indian friends don’t want this to happen and instead are egging on Washington to go to war with Pakistan. 

 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—A little noticed but major flaw in the Pak-U.S. partnership in the war on terror is leading Pakistani policymakers and public opinion to make a serious error in judgment that could devastate Pakistan’s stability and leave us looking like another close U.S. ally: Iraq.

 

This error in judgment is simple but easily overlooked: Pakistan did not take part in occupying Afghanistan. The war to sustain that occupation and prolong it is not Pakistan’s war. It never was. For President Zardari’s government to ‘own’ this war at U.S. behest is not only ridiculous but shifts the responsibility of stabilizing Afghanistan onto Pakistani shoulders. In a worst case scenario, if anything goes wrong, this ‘Pakistani ownership’ can and will be used later to force a variety of foreign military interventions in Pakistan, as part of the war on terror or to protect our allegedly endangered nukes. This is why Pakistan needs to officially leave the coalition that occupies Afghanistan and squarely pin the responsibility for Afghanistan on U.S.

 

This delineation is important because the Pakistani war is limited to our border regions with Afghanistan against criminal groups masquerading as ‘Pakistani Taliban’.  It is not Pakistan’s war or responsibility to stamp out the Afghan opposition and resistance groups that thrive inside Afghanistan and may sometimes enter Pakistani territory to seek support from ethnic tribal brethren. It is not our responsibility that Washington and its puppet Karzai regime have failed or are unwilling to bring the disgruntled Afghans on board and end the civil war.

 

The question of alleged support from Pakistan to Afghan Taliban, the ‘sanctuaries’, and the ‘rogue intelligence’ theory is all secondary if Washington decides today to talk to Afghan opposition groups, including Afghan Taliban, and offers them a share in ruling their country.  If this happens, the question of Pakistani support for Afghan insurgency will become obsolete since there will be no insurgency to support. This is the crux:  reconciliation in Afghanistan will end Afghan opposition’s need for sanctuaries anywhere.

 

What is happening right now is that Mr. Karzai and the former Northern Alliance are refusing to bring Afghan opposition on board and instead are pushing U.S. to a war with Pakistan to settle old scores.

 

Eliminating Afghan resistance could have become “Pakistan’s war” if our American friends, after taking over Kabul, accommodated their Pakistani ally’s legitimate interests in Afghanistan, understood Islamabad’s valid strategic concerns, and rewarded it for taking a difficult decision: ditching an ally in Kabul in a country that remained hostile throughout the Cold War.

 

What ultimately happened is that everyone in the region was allowed a bite of the Afghan pie except Pakistan. Almost all major players – U.S., Nato, Iran, India, and others – were allowed to secure their interests except Islamabad.   Pakistan could have swallowed this insult if Washington kept Afghanistan to itself, but the reality is that the Bush White House ceded crucial space in Afghanistan to Pakistan’s archrival, India, while keeping Pakistan out. Even mildly Pakistan-friendly Afghan elements were not accepted in the power structure in Kabul. And now the Afghan soil is being used by third parties to export terrorism into Pakistan and destabilize the country.

 

If this American lapse was unintentional, then it shows U.S. ineptitude. But circumstantial evidence indicates that Pakistan was probably part of the expanded U.S. agenda following 9/11, which included invading Iraq, toppling the regimes of Syria and Iran and redrawing the map of the wider Middle East, including Pakistan.

 

Instead of taking on a nuclear Pakistan head on, we were effectively used to occupy Afghanistan and then gradually, starting 2004, the noose was tightened around us. It began with the nuclear proliferation issue and then moved on to a new threat, the safety of our nukes.  Interestingly, the ‘Pakistan-is-another-Iraq’ theory and the nuclear scare were both exclusively started and hyped by the U.S. media, with dramatic pressure-building tactics similar to what was done in the run up to Iraq invasion.

 

For the growing chorus in the liberal sections of the Pakistani media that wants to ‘own’ this war, we must understand this: the occupation of Afghanistan and the elimination of Afghan resistance groups is not Pakistan’s war.  Our war is limited to the insurgencies raging from Gwadar to the Chinese border with partial malicious support from the Afghan soil. This war can be won.  Making Pakistan ‘own’ America’s war in Afghanistan and shifting it to our tribal belt will exacerbate the insurgencies and could destabilize Pakistan beyond the point of return.