Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’
Fuel tankers crammed into a compound in Karachi
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
As the Taliban kicks off its spring fighting season in Afghanistan, an agreement with Pakistan that would help NATO supply its troops there could be weeks or months away, forcing military leaders to spend two-and-a-half times as much to ship some supplies through Central Asia.
The Obama administration remains locked in negotiations with Pakistan to reopen the key supply routes into Afghanistan, and officials do not expect talks bogged down over proposed tariffs and U.S. military assistance to reach resolution anytime soon…
A deal is almost certainly impossible before May 20-21, when Obama will host NATO leaders in his hometown of Chicago. There, Western leaders will define plans for moving out of Afghanistan and for funding local troops they hope can contain a resilient insurgency when NATO withdraws…
A deal would require agreement on Pakistan’s proposal to impose tariffs on NATO supplies, including how tariffs would be formulated, where that money would go, and how the West would ensure those funds were being used appropriately.
Another issue stalling the talks is disagreement over how much the United States should reimburse Pakistan for counter-terrorism activity by Pakistani forces…
In a report released this week, the Defense Department warned that a prolonged closure of the supply routes could “significantly degrade” withdrawal operations as NATO nations try to establish a modicum of stability in Afghanistan before most of their troops are pulled out at the end of 2014…
“Certainly the domestic situation in Pakistan has a role to play” in the negotiations, the U.S. official said.
That’s putting it mildly. We’re paying off the leaders of a country – who have little control over that country. They haven’t civil management of much of the nation – especially those tribal portions sharing the border with Afghanistan.
That government’s own internal security apparatus, the ISI, manages an Islamist version of foreign and domestic policy which is not only counter to what Uncle Sugar is trying to achieve in traditional fumble-fingers fashion – they aren’t especially loyal to their own elected politicians.
What is being discussed in practice is how much of a bribe in US taxpayer dollars will be slipped to the paper leadership of Pakistan to aid us in our continuing war in Afghanistan. And in the process, occasionally kill off some of the tribal warlords who attack Pakistani soldiers as often as they do American and NATO forces. The dollar amount is all that counts.
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
Hundreds of supporters of Osama bin Laden rallied in Pakistan’s southwestern city of Quetta to pay tribute to former al-Qaeda chief on the first anniversary of his death.
Around 1,000 activists from the pro-Taliban Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam religious political party gathered on Wednesday in the city’s central Mezan square. They were carrying bin Laden posters, shouting “Long Live Osama” and torched a US flag…
“Osama was a hero of the whole Muslim world, he was the real mujahid [holy warrior],” Abdul Qadir Looni, a party leader said while addressing the rally…
Pakistani officials said security agencies had been ordered to be “extra vigilant” on Wednesday. Last year, the Taliban carried out a string of revenge attacks that included a suicide bombing on a police training centre that killed nearly 100 people…
Wednesday’s anniversary of one of the most humiliating episodes fro Pakistan caps a devastating year for the country.
Its reputation has been dragged deeper through the mud and its relationship with the US is as bad as ever, as questions about Islamabad’s intelligence failures or complicity with al-Qaeda remain unanswered.
A year after the al-Qaeda leader was found living with his three wives on the doorstep of Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point, the country is still accused of sheltering a string of the Washington’s most-wanted terrorism suspects.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s successor, is suspected to be in Pakistan, as is Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Omar.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, the de facto leader of the Haqqani network blamed for last month’s assault on Western targets in Kabul, the largest co-ordinated attack by armed groups in 10 years of war, is based in the tribal belt on the Afghan border, as is Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.
Last month, Washington offered $10m for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistani accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, who lives openly in Pakistan.
No claims for any rewards, yet, BTW.
Osama bin Laden’s last home is being sold off brick-by-brick after his secret Pakistani hideaway was demolished.
Two baths and a homemade TV aerial have also been put on sale by the enterprising contractor who bulldozed the three-storey home in February.
While Pakistan’s political and military leaders are keen to obliterate any memory of how the world’s most wanted man evaded capture for so long, Shakeel Ahmed said his salvage yard in Abbottabad had become a tourist attraction for visitors looking for a souvenir.
“These bricks can be used by people to build new houses,” he said, pointing to a heap of some of the 180,000 bricks he collected from the site. “Some come here looking for just one as so they can have them as a gift…”
In recent months the country has tried to obliterate his memory. Bin Laden’s three widows, along with their children and grandchildren were flown to Saudi Arabia last week and the house itself is now nothing but a pile of bricks in Mr Ahmed’s yard.
As one of the best-known contractors in the town, he was hired to flatten the compound.
The rubble was put up for auction but with other builders too frightened to bid, he said, he scooped the lot for 500,000 rupees or about £3300.
Now the bricks are on sale for anyone who wants to negotiate a deal for 1000 or more – at little more than £20 a lot.
He also snapped up two olive trees, cooking oil and window blinds but fears that his role in disposing of bin Laden’s house could attract the attention of Islamist militants…
The flattened site has become turned into a makeshift cricket pitch for dozens of children who live nearby as the town tries to forget its recent notoriety.
Which all goes to reinforce the questions still asked about the political sense of maintaining Pakistan as our sham ally.
Khalil Rasjed Dale
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
The beheaded corpse of a British aid worker has been discovered in the Pakistani city of Quetta, almost four months after he was kidnapped.
The body of Khalil Rasjed Dale was left on a road outside the city, in southern Baluchistan province, with a note attached which said he had been killed because a ransom had not been paid to his captors.
Dale, who had been working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was kidnapped in January while driving near the organisation’s Quetta office. He was abducted by gunmen as he made his way home in a clearly-marked ICRC vehicle on 5 January. His assailants are said to have bundled him into a car about 200m from an ICRC residence.
At the time, police in Quetta said Dale was abducted by unknown assailants…following a visit to a local school. He was travelling with a Pakistani doctor and a driver, who were not seized.
Quetta police chief Ahsan Mahboob said the killers’ note read: “This is the body of Khalil who we have slaughtered for not paying a ransom amount.”
Dale had been a Muslim convert for more than 30 years…
“We are devastated,” said ICRC director general Yves Daccord. “Khalil was a trusted and very experienced Red Cross staff member who significantly contributed to the humanitarian cause.
“All of us at the ICRC and at the British Red Cross share the grief and outrage of Khalil’s family and friends.”
One can only have the strongest contempt for lowlife thugs who commit crimes against humanity like this. They may pretend to have political motivation, they may pretend to be Pakistan’s answer to Robin Hood. They are nothing less than the scum of the earth and deserve to be treated as such.
Whether or not Pakistan’s papier mache police do anything – is another issue, another question.
Afghanistan National Policeman in front of a banner of assassinated president Burhanuddin Rabbani
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
Afghan security forces have arrested five militants with 11 tons of explosives that they had brought from Pakistan to use to carry out a massive attack in Kabul, as well as another three planning an assassination attempt against the vice president…
The reports of new planned attacks in the Afghan capital came just days after militants said to be part of a Pakistan-based group launched brazen coordinated assaults in the heart of Kabul and in other cities.
U.S. officials say they have stepped up pressure on Islamabad to crack down on that group, the Haqqani network, which specializes in high-profile strikes against well-protected targets.
Three of the five men arrested with the explosives were members of the Pakistani Taliban, while the other two belonged to the Afghan Taliban, National Director for Security spokesman Shafiqullah Tahiry said at a news conference. He said their orders came from militant leaders with ties to Pakistani intelligence. He did not say when the arrests took place, nor what their intended target was…
Tahiry said the captured explosives were in 400 bags and hidden under potatoes loaded in a truck with Pakistani license plates…
He claimed that the three Pakistani members of the group picked up the explosives just outside the Pakistani city of Peshawar, and were under the orders of two local Taliban leaders named Noor Afzal and Mohammad Omar, who Tahiry said had ties with the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI…
Washington has long demanded that Pakistan target the Haqqani network. They are seen as more ideologically tied to Al Qaeda than some of the other militant groups, and they have been particularly adept at sophisticated strikes…
Not that our criticism, arrests made by joint NATO-Afghan forces or any concrete evidence will make much difference in American foreign policy, American foreign aid to the Pakistan government. Our politicians have been as uncreative about foreign policy since early days of the Cold War as they are about education, taxation, the environment and issues more visible to the average American voter.
A plague on both your houses — adequately describes the usual response to Congressional politics. But, changing nothing about who is elected means nothing is changed by those elected and serving. As if we actually expected leadership and service from hacks who learned to “follow the money” long before the phrase became fashionable.
Different case – same story
A five-year-old girl has become Britain’s youngest known victim of forced marriage…The child, who has not been named, was among 400 children dealt with by the Home Office’s dedicated Forced Marriage Unit, last year. An 87-year-old woman was also a suspected victim.
But campaigners warned that the case could be just the tip of the iceberg with “thousands” of children in some communities believed to have been promised in marriage from birth…
Currently it is not illegal in Britain to force someone to get married against their will.
That is criminally absurd.
The strongest sanctions available are “Forced Marriage Orders”, a type of civil court order which operate like an injunction but are viewed as little more than a “slap on the wrist” by critics.
Last year David Cameron signalled his support for tightening up the law likening forced marriage to “slavery” and Theresa May pledged to “stamp out this appalling abuse”. But a similar consultation exercise eight years ago – which led to the introduction of the civil orders – prompted the then Government to decide against criminalising forced marriage.
That followed claims from some quarters that the law might “stigmatise” communities and drive the practice even further underground…
That is the act of political cowards. Not so surprising.
Jasvinder Sanghera, herself a former victim who now runs the support group and helpline The Honour Network, said it is likely the girl had been promised from birth to a first cousin. The practice is particularly prevalent among Muslims of Pakistani origin, she said.
Although the marriage would not be recognised by law in Britain, children can take part in religious “Nikkah” ceremonies – or weddings – in a Mosque or even a private home…
She said that many such cases only come to light because the child stops attending school.
“The professionals are not looking at this as child protection, they are just pandering to concerns around cultural sensitivity,” she said.
Sound familiar? Civil Rights of minorities – all the way up to the largest minority in every society, women – find politicians worrying about someone else’s sensibilities. Someone other than the minority.
Cowardice beneath contempt.
They may be small, but the information mice can convey about the movements of humans throughout history is mighty, according to a Cornell researcher.
Jeremy Searle, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, explores the global distribution of small mammals and has found that house mice (Mus musculus) are ideal biomarkers of human settlement as well. Where people go, so do mice, often stowing away in carts of hay or on ships. Despite a natural range of just 100 meters and an evolutionary base near Pakistan, the house mouse has managed to colonize every continent, which makes it a useful tool for researchers like Searle.
…Searle and co-author Eleanor Jones…showed how mice hitched a ride with the Vikings and set up colonies in areas where the Norwegians settled, such as the British Isles, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland.
Previous research conducted by Searle at the University of York supported the theory that Australian mice originated in the British Isles and probably came over with convicts shipped there to colonize the continent in the late 18th and 19th centuries. He came to the conclusion by using evolutionary techniques to analyze mitochondrial DNA, comparing modern-day mouse populations from Australia with those from their likely regional source in Western Europe.
In the Viking study, he and his fellow researchers in Iceland, Denmark and Sweden took it a step further, using ancient mouse DNA collected from archaeological sites dating from the 10th to 12th centuries, as well as modern mice…
Using mice as a proxy for human movement can add to what is already known through archaeological data and answer important questions in areas where there is a lack of artifacts, Searle said…
“Mice are living artifacts. They can tell us where people have moved in the same way a piece of pottery might tell us where an Etruscan merchant went. And because of the wealth of genetic data we can collect from mice, they might actually tell us much more than a piece of pottery,” Searle said.
I love this. His next study carries forward tracking mice from South Asia to East Africa. A study in genes, transportation and unintended consequences.
Osama bin Laden fathered four children as he hid out in Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks, his youngest wife told interrogators, according to a police report.
Amal Abdulfattah’s account provides rare details of the al-Qaeda leader’s life from when he fled Afghanistan in late 2001 until his death aged 54 last May during a US Navy SEAL operation in Abbottabad, in Pakistan.
Abdulfattah, from Yemen, was arrested by Pakistani authorities following the US raid on bin Laden’s compound near the Pakistani capital Islamabad, along with two of his Saudi wives, and her five children…
The report, from the office of the inspector general of police in Islamabad, recommended Abdulfattah and her children be immediately deported.
After arriving in Pakistan in July 2000 on a three-month visa, in the company of her sister and brother-in-law, Abdulfattah travelled to Kandahar, in neighbouring Afghanistan, at the time capital of the Taliban regime.
The date of her marriage to bin Laden was not specified, but the police report said afterwards she moved in with him and his other two wives.
“She further revealed that after the incident of 9/11, they all scattered and she came to Karachi with one of her daughter’s, Safia,” the report said. Safia, her first child by the al-Qaeda kingpin, was born in Kandahar in 2001. She stayed in Karachi for eight to nine months, moving between homes arranged for them by Pakistani families and bin Laden’s oldest son Saad.
Abdulfattah then met back with the fleeing bin Laden in Peshawar, in northwest Pakistan. The report suggests that the pair did not part from that moment until the raid in Abbottabad.
They stayed for eight or nine months in Swat, then for two years in Haripur, 90 minutes from Islamabad, before moving to the garrison town of Abbottabad in 2005.
During this time, Abdulfattah had four other children by bin Laden, by then the most-wanted man in the world. In Haripur, Aasia, a girl, was born in 2003 and Ibrahim, a boy, was born the next year. On both occasions Abdulfattah gave birth in a public hospital, the police report said. The other two children, Zainab, a girl, and Hussain, a boy, were born in Abbottabad in 2006 and 2008…
The continued detention of bin Laden’s wives has led to accusations that Pakistan is attempting to muzzle them to stop them from providing details that could embarrass Islamabad or add to suspicions it knew where bin Laden was.
The only debatable question is how much of the Pakistan government had knowledge of Bin Laden’s presence? And for how long?
Dinanath Malhotra was awarded a gold medal for his MA from Punjab University in Lahore in 1944. But the partition of the sub-continent into India and Pakistan in 1947 prevented him from receiving the medallion until now.
Mr Malhotra is the owner of the popular Indian publishing house, Hind Pocket Books, in Delhi.
“In those days topper in MA was awarded a gold medal and I won it in the year 1944,” Mr Malhotra told the BBC. “These medals were made in England so at the convocation we were given dummy medals and we had to wait for the original gold medal to be awarded later.”
But the wait in Mr Malhotra’s case got a bit longer – 68 years to be precise.
India was partitioned in 1947 and Lahore became part of Pakistan. Mr Malhotra shifted to India and forgot about the medal.
A few years ago, he casually mentioned it in a meeting of the Indian Publishers Union with a senior official in the Human Resources Development Ministry. The official pursued the matter with the vice-chancellor of Punjab University and it was agreed that the medal would be awarded to Mr Malhotra in Lahore…
Mr Malhotra was all set to travel to Lahore when Mumbai came under attack from extremists in November 2008 and the trip was cancelled.
The medal was finally awarded at the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi on Friday. Mr Malhotra is happy that he has his medal but he also feels he missed an opportunity to visit Lahore, the city of his youth.
“I keep remembering the life at Lahore. People had great love for each other and we used to hug each other whenever we met,” he said.
“This is great. I had never dreamed that I could get this medal back. This is a great honour, not only for me but for the academic circle both in India and Pakistan.”
Bravo! The greatest sadness is the history of partition that has denied opportunities for a normal communal life in the subcontinent.