Saturday, May 28, 2005

CNN - Predicting Pakistan's Future

Dateline: 27 May 2105

Transcript of CNN’s interview at Army House, Rawalpindi

CNN: General, will you be standing for re-election and more importantly, will you be keeping the uniform?

Musharraf: No and Yes and, of course, Yes and No.

CNN: Sorry. Sir, could you kindly clarify that.

Musharraf: (Chuckling) You people never really understand what I’m trying to say. As I have always said we have to place the interest of Pakistan first and foremost.

CNN: Yes? (Interviewer nodding her head and looking quizzical at the same time)

Musharraf: As a straight shooter I don’t dilly dally, you see. So really, whatever is in the interest of the nation is the only path to follow.

CNN: So you will be standing again?

Musharraf: Yes and No.

CNN: And in uniform?

Musharraf: No and Yes.

CNN: Sir, do you realise that at the age of one hundred and sixty-three you are the most ancient Army Chief in world history.

Musharraf: So what? Pakistan needs me, my uniform fits me and I am positive that we will catch that rascal Osama by the end of the year.

Friday, May 27, 2005

A Case of 'Unenlightened Immoderation'?

Amnesty International has come down heavily on Pakistan for its poor human rights record. The Report 2005, formally released on 25th May criticised the military for consolidating its political role through the National Security through an act of Parliament and blamed Musharraf’s regime for the following Human Rights violations:

Women and Religious Minorities at Risk

Women and religious minorities, including Shi'a Muslims, Ahmadis, and Christians, are routinely subject to discrimination.
The government has permitted discriminatory laws to remain on the books, failed to enforce laws prohibiting discrimination, allowed individuals to be arbitrarily detained, and failed to ensure that those responsible for abuses are held to account.
In addition, Christians, Shi'a Muslims and Ahmadis, who have been the subject of targeted killings by Islamist groups, have been afforded little protection by the government.

Domestic violence, including physical abuse, rape, acid throwing, burning and "honor" killing, is widespread.
Forced marriage of young girls continues to be reported despite a legal minimum age of 16. Although slavery is illegal in Pakistan, girls and women continue to be traded to settle debts or conflicts.
Physical abuse of women in custody is rife.

Tribal Justice System
The government has allowed tribal councils, or jirgas, to abuse a wide range of human rights.
In rural Pakistan, jirgas are convened to resolve disputes over land, water, breaches of "honor," murder and blood feuds. Jirgas often resolve feuds by ordering an offender to hand over girls and women to the aggrieved party. In cases where a woman is believed to have "dishonored" her family by having a male friend, marrying a man of her choice, or seeking a divorce, jirgas have decided that those involved be killed or otherwise punished. The state does not generally take action when jirga decisions lead to murder, rape or other abuses.

Abuse of Blasphemy Laws
Pakistan's blasphemy laws, while purporting to protect Islam and the religious sensitivities of the Muslim majority are vaguely formulated and arbitrarily enforced by the police and the judiciary.
The laws have frequently been abused to imprison people on grounds of religious enmity and have also provided a mechanism through which to have people imprisoned when the real motives are business rivalry, land disputes, or politics.

Children who come into contact with the criminal justice system are routinely denied basic rights to which they are entitled under Pakistani law. Thousands of children have been denied access to bail and remain in prison for months - sometimes years - while awaiting trial under conditions in which they are vulnerable to abuse by police, prison staff or adult prisoners.
Children are routinely transported while chained to each other, adult prisoners, or guards. They are frequently held in lockups with adults.
Some children have been sentenced to death.

Post 9-11 Detention and Transfer of Custody
In the context of Pakistan's cooperation with the U.S.-led war on "terrorism," persons detained under suspicion of being al-Qa'ida or Taleban members have been denied rights guaranteed by the Pakistan constitution, including the rights to access to a lawyer, to meet with family members and to be seen by a medical doctor.
Many have been turned over to the U.S.-led coalition in violation of their rights under Pakistan's extradition law.
Some foreigners present in Pakistan, including Uighurs from China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and people from Middle Eastern countries, have been handed over to their home countries without regard to the human rights violations they may face in those countries.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Another Fragile Desi Ego Out of Control?

Saad S. Khan is said to be a rare breed of bureaucrat – principled and idealistic. Reports suggest that he still does not own a car or a house. If that is the case then he must certainly belong to a nearly extinct variety of the now rapacious genus civili servantus islamabadicus.

He is said to have a passion for writing and has written in journals, periodicals and newspapers and participated and lectured at several seminar and conferences. All was well with him until he wrote a passionate column in The Nation last November – it was addressed as an ‘Open Letter to the Prime Minister’. Since then all hell has broken loose.

Here are some excerpts from that column:

Mr. Prime Minister and my readers know of the contents of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s (HRCP) report on the Tharparkar bye-election. Government officials and the presiding staff was openly found stamping whole books of ballot sheets in your favor.

The opposition leaders were being detained and harassed. You got 156,000 otes, an imaginary figure, a number that has never been polled in the history of Tharpakar, nor ever will be in the foreseeable future. This massive “victory “, rather than strengthening your standing, would remain a living scar on your personal integrity and on the electoral history of our country. Blessed be he who gave you the idea of contesting from this seat and giving Dr Arbab a free hand to make you win by such a ‘miraculous’ margin.

I was again awed by your guts at your swearing in ceremony as Prime Minister. The utter contempt you displayed for the national language by taking oath in English, unlike all previous Prime Ministers who took oath in Urdu, speaks for your courage to rule the country without any pretense of being a son of the soil. All your practical life has been spent at the paid service of banks abroad. But the public display of your feelings at this auspicious occasion was amazing. It is a fashion to decry Urdu as a difficult and unrefined language because it was the language of an insignificant palace, Delhi’s imperial court, while English was being used by the Emperor’s British “servants” in the East India Company who later usurped our land and became our masters. I am happy that while abroad, you never lost touch even with Pakistan’s latest fashions in linguistics. Since the ritual of swearing oath to Pakistan, you are found religiously swearing allegiance to your own army chief everyday, equating democracy with his uniform.

The induction of your government had an equally ‘impressive’ start, when you appointed a whole army of ministers, many of them sons and scions of every jagirdar of our country whose loyalty for the ruler, whosoever he may be, had been up for sale. The defense of
our capital city, Islamabad, is now impregnable, because now two corps are placed there; the Army’s 10-Corps and Aziz’s Corps of Ministers.

Then he referred to three specific incidents:

1. The illegal confinement of Geo TV team by members of Anti-Narcotics Force who then broke the Geo TV camera and smashed the teams’ mobile phones and then subjected them to severe torture.
2. The killing by Faisalabad police of Qari Noor Mohammad while in police custody.
3. The raping of helpless women at Hyderabad’s Dar-ul-Aman by officials who then had the police arrest them when they escaped.

And then laid into old Shortcut Aiziz.

But since all these incidents did not catch your eye while you remained busy ddressing posh gatherings in five-star hotels elucidating your vision of Pakistan’s future, I can only pray for Pakistan, my country.

The media reports that Shaukat Aziz became incensed at cheek of the officer and wrote ‘Get this man’ and sent it to the ‘head of a national security agency’.

Saad S. Khan was issued a dismissal notice, without the formality of holding an inquiry and giving him the opportunity of being heard, as required by law. Khan sought relief at the High Court. Justice Abdul Shakoor Paracha of the Rawalpindi Bench of the Lahore High Court, hearing Khan’s constitutional petition, stayed the dismissal orders as an interim relief.

It is now reported that Shaukat Aziz saw to it that the judge was transferred from his post. And, the Rawalpindi Bench of the High Court temporarily ceased to exist with the transfer of the judge.

Is this how things were done in Citibank, New York? Not on your life!

Get an insecure desi ego daily boosted by hordes of durbari chumchas and what does one end up with?

A petty little Attila the Hun on steroids. So what else is new?

Yet More "Balderdash'

In this week’s Newsweek a retired senior CIA spook Gary Schroen (see footnote) says that Pakistan will never really act against Osama bin Laden.

Major General Shaukat Sultan rejects this accusation. So it's 'balderdash' time yet again.

Excerpt from Newsweek:

“Bin Laden's greatest protection now may be his growing legend, Schroen says Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf fears a horrific Islamist backlash if he publicly arrests the man seen in parts of South and Central Asia and the Middle East as an Islamic Robin Hood. By contrast, the Pakistani leader is willing to hand over lesser figures like al-Libbi, who was allegedly involved in two attempts on Musharraf's life but arouses no strong feelings among the Pakistani public. As evidence, Schroen says that it took the Pakistanis five months to act against al-Libbi after the Americans delivered intel on the whereabouts of a Qaeda suspect who could not, at the time, be specifically identified; Schroen believes the Pakistanis acted only after determining that the suspect was not bin Laden but a smaller fish. "We gave them the information on Libbi back in December," says Schroen, who has written a new book on his work with the CIA in Afghanistan. "They didn't want to do it." Pakistani officials deny this. "I reject that Pakistan stayed back on the intelligence for five months," says Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan. "The moment Pakistan got confirmed intelligence, Pakistan immediately acted."

I just wonder who is right?

*Gary Schroen CIA career includes:
Case Officer, Islamabad, 1978-1980; Chief of Station-designate, Kabul, 1988-1990; Chief of Station, Islamabad, 1996-1999; Deputy Chief, Near East Division, Directorate of Operations, 1999-2001

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

It's Pakistan Stupid!

An extract from a US Conservative Journal: Front Page Magazine

It's Pakistan, Stupid!
by Paul Sperry May 6, 2005

"Internal Department of Homeland Security documents I've obtained show officials fear Pakistan-based al-Qaida may be sending terrorists our way, including ones trained in terror camps up and running inside Pakistan -- that's right, Pakistan. The terror-training camps we shut down in Afghanistan are now open for business on the other side of the border, despite Islamabad's apparent efforts to crack down on them.

According to the closely held intelligence bulletins, officials worry Pakistanis trained in the camps are trying to sneak into America to carry out terrorist attacks. In fact, U.S. border authorities are reminded each day in shift musters that Pakistanis pose the No. 1 terrorist threat to America right now. And for the past several months, they have been under orders to increase scrutiny of travelers of Pakistani origin.

The latest advisory puts authorities on high alert for Pakistani terrorists trying to enter the U.S. with fake British passports.

"A number of Pakistani-based young men in their 20's may be traveling to the U.S. with altered United Kingdom passports in order to engage in terrorist-related activity," says the highly sensitive DHS action memo.
"Of most interest may be individuals fitting this description traveling to Washington D.C., Houston, Chicago or New York."

The FBI says al-Qaida leaders -- many of whom are believed to be hiding in Pakistan, as evidenced most recently by the capture there of senior operative Abu Farraj al-Libbi -- have discussed plans for a 9/11-type attack in which hijackers would board planes in Britain so they wouldn't have to use U.S. visas. Customs inspectors are questioning all male Pakistani travelers between the ages of 18 and 35 bearing British passports, as part of the latest DHS directive known as Intelligence Driven Special Operation #2005-07.

Even Pakistani-Americans have been subjected to special screening.

Fearing some may be returning from terrorist camps in their ancestral homeland, customs officials have been directed to not only question them about their trip and activities but to also search their arms and legs for signs of having had terrorist training. They've been told to look for anything from rope burns to bruises to possible injuries suffered from using firearms or explosives. The body searches stopped after the Pakistani Embassy complained, but they are still being asked a battery of questions.

"Many of the individuals trained in the Pakistani camps are destined to commit illegal activities in the United States," says the two-page DHS warning that launched IDSO #2004-022. (Click here to view
page one and page two, parts of which I have redacted to protect some of the more sensitive countermeasures.)

The unusual steps show how desperate homeland security officials are to disrupt what they believe is a major attack planned by terrorists of Pakistani origin.

At the same time, U.S. immigration authorities are targeting Pakistanis living illegally in America for deportation. Since 9/11, they've rounded up and removed three times more Pakistani absconders than they did during the comparable period before 9/11. DHS data also show the number of Pakistani removals dwarfs those of illegals from all other Muslim nations.

Pakistanis account for most of the OTMs -- other than Mexicans – crossing the U.S. border with Mexico illegally from countries considered high risk for terrorism. And officials fear some may try to smuggle nuclear or radiological weapons across the porous border into America.

Osama bin Laden, who has long sought a nuclear weapon or radioactive materials to make a so-called dirty bomb, recently secured from a Saudi cleric a religious ruling giving him the green light to use nuclear weapons against Americans. He and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, along with much of al-Qaida's inner circle, are thought to be hiding in Pakistan's northern badlands. In fact, they've recently used couriers to deliver video- and audio-taped messages to Al-Jazeera TV's bureaus in Islamabad and Karachi. And just yesterday it was announced that one of their top operatives --al-Libbi -- was captured in that same badlands area.

Pakistan, which husbanded al-Qaida and served as a base of operations for the 9/11 plotters, has long been a hotbed of terrorist activity. The war on terror started in Pakistan, and many officials believe it will end there.

But for that to happen, they say Bush must pressure Islamabad to shut down the terrorist camps in Pakistan, because U.S. forces can't do it unilaterally. Islamabad refuses to allow our troops based in Afghanistan to cross the border into neighboring Pakistan.

After the 9/11 attacks, President Bush demanded the Taliban close terror camps in Afghanistan. On Sept. 20, 2001, he warned: "Tonight the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban ... Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan."

Yet Pakistan, the cradle of the Taliban movement, gets no such ultimatums regarding its own terror camps. Too be sure, Islamabad cut formal ties with the Taliban after 9/11, and has vowed to crack down on terrorists in its country. But the seeming double standard over the camps still gripes law enforcement here.

"What gets me is while we were going after the Taliban in Afghanistan, there were a lot of training camps in Pakistan. I mean, there was like a ton. That was where the terrorists were getting most of their training -- in Pakistan -- and they're still getting training there," says John M. Cole, who until last year worked at FBI headquarters as program manager for foreign intelligence investigations covering Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

While the arrest of al-Libbi was a blow to al-Qaida and a win for our side, untold numbers of terrorists are still plotting and training inside Pakistan -- and preparing to launch attacks against America. Cole and others don't understand why Washington is taking the unnecessary risk of trying to catch the bad guys here when Islamabad could be doing more to stop them over there -- or at least letting our troops help stop them."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A Short Bio of the $70 Million Man

Quite amazing when you think about it.

An IBA man from the then urban wilderness of Nazimabad (circa 1969) makes it good as a young recruit at an influential US bank in Karachi.

Smooth talking and talented he rapidly rises through the ranks of the generally staid and colourless commercial bankers and eventually making it big time at head office in New York. Soon his networking skills among Third World ‘movers and shakers’ becomes the stuff of legend.

Three decades later (after having made approx. US $ 70 million through his entitlement of Citibank share options) Shaukat Aziz was comfortably wealthy but ‘unrich’ and ‘unfamous’ by resident US standards– in other words just another New York banker in a city dominated by multi-billionaires and the mega-rich.

But for Pakistanis he was a local boy who had done amazingly well in a competitive world dominated by WASPs but even so he wasn’t the only desi among Citibank’s senior staffers – Aziz had to share the sub-continental limelight with the likes of equally talented Indians such as Victor Menezes and Rana Talwar.

During the 1990s Aziz became recognized for leveraging his Citibank success on the local Pakistani scene. He became known for currying favour with the likes of Benazir Bhutto, Asif Zardari, Shahbaz Sharif, and a host of Generals – particularly those holding key commands. He also joined the prestigious Sind Club by the extraordinary act of jetting in regularly from Singapore to attend the club’s compulsory introductory meetings.

Then came the Travellers Group ‘takeover’ and a management shake-up which left some Citibankers such as Aziz and Rana Talwar reduced in status. Talwar went on to head Standard Chartered Bank and Aziz became Pakistan’s post-coup Finance Minister. While Victor Menezes went on to become the vice-Chairman of the new Citigroup

In the next few years Aziz did his best – in difficult circumstances - to improve Pakistan’s economy. A tall order for a commercial banker but he managed better than his predecessors but truth is the incidence of backbreaking poverty went on increasing, while paradoxically the rich got even richer – hence his continued popularity among the money making elitist circles.

Then in late 2004 out of the blue he emerged as a compromise candidate for the post of Prime Minister - largely because without a voter base he threatened no one.

In the ‘who-flung-dung’ of Pakistani politics it is difficult to forecast Aziz’s continued survival. The petty and nasty egos that bedevil the local political landscape leave little room for Aziz’s masterfully polished art of smooth talking – success in a setting of chilled champagne and iced oysters may not work as well in an environment offering at times nothing more than tepid mango juice and congealing karahi ghost.

The Fraud Who Went a Step Too Far (Part I)

Many people got fake degrees to contest the 2002 elections but few had the audacity to aim for instant doctorates. Not only did ‘Dr’ Aamir Liaquat Hussain win his election, he was soon elevated to the rank of Minister of State for Religious Affairs.

Posing as a religious scholar on Geo TV he beamed himself across the nation on Aalim Online. Soon Geo TV was boasting that the programme had taken the nation and our Commando -Salamat by storm. Geo’s
website boldly states:

General Parvaiz Musharaf is a self confessed fan of Dr.Liaqat and his program Aalim Online. To quote the president; “Aalim on line is doing a great service for Islam. Dr.Aamer Liaqat is amazing. I like to watch him and hear him.He is doing a great service for Islam through Geo. I am the biggest fan of Dr. Aamer Liaqat Hussain.

On one occasion it was widely reported that Mrs Sehba Musharraf even rang to tell Aamir Liaquat Hussain that he had reduced the mighty Commando Salamat to tears with the power of his TV sermons.

Holy Guacamole, Batman!

So when the
scandal about his fake degrees broke out did the Jahil-Online panic? No, of course not. With his biggest fan supporting him who could take him on.

But then the silly fool blew it – completely and utterly. Jahil-Online committed blasphemy of such nature that even Commando Salamat found it difficult to forgive.

The Fraud Who Went a Step Too Far (Part II)

Transcript of Jahil-Online’s ‘blasphemous’ interview

(Daily Times, 7 May 2005)

Daily Times: You said the ISI was the architect of jihadis and you said now the ISI is arresting the jihadis. Now who is putting hurdles in the way of the government and who is actually threatening enlightened moderation?

Jahil-Online: Many people told me not to make such statements but I am outspoken. There is an ISI within the ISI, the former more powerful than the original. They were the godfathers of the Taliban. Who attacked President Musharraf? Only Army personnel can do this. A third attempt on President Musharraf’s life is also possible. There are people who are enemies of Musharraf Saheb. They will not spare me either. My life is in danger too. President Musharraf should be careful about his life. He has his enemies within.

Daily Times: Do you have any evidence to substantiate your claim with regard to “an ISI within the ISI”?

Jahil-Online: Yes, there is plenty of evidence. For example, look at the tenor and tone of MMA chief Qazi Husain Ahmed. From where does he derive the confidence to claim that he would have Musharraf kicked out of the army very soon. Yes, he has got ‘some people’ behind him.

Daily Times: What do you mean by “enemies within”? Does it mean the Army?

Jahil-Online: Look, President Musharraf has on a number of occasions told the nation that the real threat to the country was from within. Which means there exists an internal threat, far greater than any outer one. Well, internal threat includes the Army.

Moral of the Story: You can lie, cheat, bullshit and commit fraud at the highest levels and get away with it but even Commando Salamat can’t protect you if you besmirch a most hallowed institution.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Have been away for the past few weeks and will soon make up for the prolonged absence.