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BBC: ‘Truth tracker’ keeps tabs on Pakistan election pledges

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‘Truth tracker’ keeps tabs on Pakistan election pledges
by Shumaila Jaffrey
BBC Urdu, Lahore
14 January 2014 
As you turn off the main road just south of Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore, it soon seems as if you have travelled 50 years back in time. At Sitara Colony Number Two, leaking sewage pipes and abandoned bulldozers belie Lahore’s reputation as one of Pakistan’s most developed cities.
The scene is also testament to political promises which have remained unfulfilled. But a new website seeks to put promises of development and progress to the test. Sitara Colony number 2 is a labyrinth of narrow streets. bustling with small shops, street vendors and donkey carts. Across from the market is the residential area. Rough tracks and sewage spewing out from various points, mixed with stagnant water from a recent downpour await the visitor.
Huge bulldozers and other machinery lie idle nearby. Construction work is at a standstill. Tariq Mehmood has lived in Sitara Colony for 10 years. He says that in every election campaign he can remember, politicians have promised to build roads and proper sewers here, but that the candidates never look back once elected. “Look at the water in the street, it’s been here for the past one and a half years. Even the drinking water is not clean any more,” he says.
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Election promises have come to nothing in this slum area outside Lahore
“During the election campaign we brought different candidates here – all of them promised to resolve the issue. But nothing happened afterwards. Now when we go to our MP, he gives us more false hope. They don’t think we are humans, it’s sad but true.” It’s a frequent complaint in Pakistan, but it now seems that politicians here might have a harder time getting away with broken promises unnoticed.
A website called Truth Tracker has been launched by UPI Next, the non-profit media development arm of the United Press International news agency.
Its mission: To keep an eye on the commitments made by politicians during and after election campaigns.
A team of 25 reporters all over Pakistan scour manifestos, elections speeches, party websites and media appearances of politicians to nail down promises made to voters. 
The senior editor of Truth Tracker, Mubasher Bukhari, says it is all about accountability:

“It means we keep tracking promises, and keep reminding politicians again and again about their commitments to the people. We also give reasons as to why any promise is not fulfilled and what the obstacles are.”

The various parties’ campaign symbols are used to identify who made what promise – the tiger for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N or a cricket bat for former cricket star Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party (PTI).
There are five categories for the state of a promise: Broken, fulfilled, under way, not started and compromised.
For example, the website says that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised during last year’s election campaign to provide housing to all low-income families, but nothing has been done so far to make progress on the issue. Truth tracker has categorised this promise as “not started”. During the same campaign Imran Khan’s PTI promised to hold local government elections within 90 days of taking power.
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A computer screen displaying the truth tracker website The Truth Tracker site uses party symbols to identify who made what promise
According to Truth Tracker, Imran Khan repeatedly criticised previous governments for not holding local polls, accusing them of being reluctant to share power with the grassroots. The website calculates that since PTI politicians took the oath of government in north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province on 30 May, the 90 day deadline was due to fall on 31 August. But with local government elections still pending, Truth Tracker rates this promise as “broken”.
In another example, the chief minister of Punjab province, Shahbaz Sharif, promised to explore alternative energy options in an effort to end the power crisis that has plagued Pakistan. The Punjab government has started a project to build a solar energy plant in the south-eastern desert of Cholistan. According to the Truth Tracker team, this promise is “under way”. Social analyst Rasul Bakhsh Rais believes that initiatives like Truth Tracker can strengthen accountability, which he says is essential for any democracy.
“In Pakistan politicians have different attitudes when they are in power. So citizens should not wait for five years to question them – it must be done on a continuous basis,” he says. “And now this can happen with the help of information technology, through tools like websites.” Others, however, say that in a semi-literate country like Pakistan, the number of people who will use websites like Truth Tracker to monitor the performance of elected politicians is likely to be limited – and powerful politicians will keep on getting away with broken promises.
In Sitara Colony, Tariq Mehmood is so frustrated, he has given up hope. “Now local elections are coming up, but we are not interested,” he says. “It doesn’t matter because we know nothing is going to change.” But Mubasher Bukhari is hopeful Truth Tracker can make a difference. “It’s true many people are still not aware of it, but a lot of politicians are – they know that they are being watched.”

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Mullah – Military alliance in doldrums

Mullah – Military alliance in doldrums


Asif Haroon Raja


Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) was founded by socio-political philosopher Abul Ala Maudoodi on August 26, 1941. He opposed capitalism, socialism and secularism but advocated democracy as an integral part of Islamic political ideals. He had close ties with Muslim Brotherhood leader Qutb. Although Maudoodi rendered great service for the cause of Islam, he was among the staunch opponents of idea of Pakistan. The idea collided with his concept of a universal Islamic empire with sovereignty resting in God. Those who sided with Indian Congress and opposed call of Pakistan were Abul Kalam Azad, Deobandi leaders of Jamiat Ulema –e-Hind including Jamiat-ul-Islam (JUI), Khaksars and Khudai Khidmatgars (Red Shirts). However, once Pakistan came on the world map on August 14, 1947, the Jamaat leaders as well as JUI leaders developed fondness for the newly born Muslim State. Maudoodi stated that Pakistan was destined to become an Islamic State.


Motivated by the desire to make Pakistan an Islamic State governed by Shariah law, JI was instrumental in getting Objectives Resolution passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, which became the guiding document for framing the Constitution. JI spearheaded Ahmediyya riots in Punjab in 1953 which resulted in declaration of martial law in Lahore. Lt Gen Azam Khan crushed the movement in a month time. Maudoodi was awarded death sentence but under public pressure he was released. Chaudhri Muhammad Ali obliged JI by inserting Islamic clauses in the 1956 Constitution. Collision with Gen Ayub Khan started when JI demanded restoration of Islamic articles in 1962 Constitution. To pacify the Islamists, Ayub agreed to inscribe word ‘Islamic’ with Republic of Pakistan in the Constitution. JI supported Fatima Jinnah in 1965 presidential election. In order to bolster its image, JI activists opened relief camps and helped war victims during the 1965 Indo-Pak war and also collected financial assistance from Arab countries. JI was the major spirit behind Pakistan Democratic Movement in 1968 when Ayub Khan decided to celebrate ‘Decade of Development’.


The JI became an ally of Gen Yahya Khan regime and its militant wing Islami Jamiat-e-Tulaba took part in the civil war against the Mukti Bahinis in former East Pakistan by forming Al-Shams and Al-Badr militias and then supported the Army in its fight against Indian Army in 1971 till the very end. After the division of Pakistan, JI established itself as an independent party in Bangladesh after 1975. It became a strong political force after it allied with Khalida Zia led BNP, but is currently under duress owing to politically motivated war crime trials opened by Hasina Wajid led Awami League regime at the behest of India. Kangaroo courts have awarded death sentence to several aged leaders of JI. Proceedings against 69 year old JI chief Matiur Rahman Nizami have also been completed and he could be awarded maximum punishment. This uncalled for vendetta to settle old scores has further polarized the society and made the overall climate in Bangladesh highly turbulent.


In October 1972, Mian Tufail Ahmad replaced Maudoodi as the new Ameer. By 1976, JI street power increased dramatically and with 2,000, 000 new entrants joining it, the party became a force to reckon with.  After spearheading civil disobedience campaign of rightist parties in early 1977, the JI took active part in the PNA movement of nine-party alliance to protest against rigging in March 1977 elections by ZA Bhutto’s regime. When Gen Ziaul Haq took over after forcibly removing the elected government and didn’t stick to his promise of holding elections within 90 days, Tufail exerted pressure on him to do so. While holding important portfolios in Zia’s government, JI ideologues lent full support to Zia in his drive to Islamize the society and the system of education. Media was bridled and asked to refrain from advancing western and Indian cultures and instead promote Islamic values. Emphasis on Islam was considered vital in the wake of damage done to the society during Bhutto’s rule in which secularism was propped up.


Afghan war in 1980s brought the US, Zia regime and JI as well as JUI on one platform. In order to feed the proxy war in Afghanistan against the Soviets, the US in its bid to enroll Jihadis from all Muslim countries patronized the religious right. In Pakistan, which had agreed to fight the proxy war as a Frontline State, JI was designated as the ideological bulwark of Islam by USA and Zia. In 1987, Qazi Hussain was elected as new Ameer of JI. Miraculous success in 1988 against the Soviet forces raised the stature of Jihadis, Pakistan, Gen Zia and JI and JUI, which in turn strengthened politico-religious forces and led to militarization of the society because of proliferation of arms and drugs.


During the ten years democratic era from 1988 to 1999 in which the PPP and PML had two stints each, the two political parties paid little effort towards bridling Jihadis who had taken part in Afghan war and to push out foreign fighters. As a result, al-Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Turkestan Islamic Movement and Islamic Jihad Union got firmly entrenched in FATA and developed lasting camaraderie with local Jihadis. Sectarian outfits duly funded by Iran and Saudi Arabia intensified sectarianism throughout the 1990s. TNSM under Maulana Sufi in Swat and Malakand gained strength during this period. The JI under Qazi Hussain in the meanwhile further streamlined its internal organizational and educational structure. It joined IJI with PML in 1988, but in its bid to become a third force, it charted an independent course in 1993 elections and paved the way for PPP to regain power. Although JI boycotted 1997 elections, its nuisance value as pressure group remained intact.   


During Gen Musharraf’s rule, JI became part of MMA, a grouping of six religious parties. In the 2002 elections, MMA succeeded in clinching Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan governments and in earning a sizable presence in the federal government. MMA increased its vote bank for the first time on the slogan of anti-Americanism which had peaked because of Musharraf’s u-turn on Afghanistan and submitting to US demands. Although JI denounced the US and Musharraf’s pro-US policies, but MMA not only validated Musharraf’s rule by passing the 17th Amendment in 2004, but also nurtured extremist groups in FATA and in Swat region. Resultantly, TTP came into being in December 2007, which by now has spread its tentacles in all parts of the country and is tenaciously fighting the security forces as well as resorting to terrorism against civilians and destroying property. Lal Masjid operation in July 2007 was vehemently opposed by JI.


JI and Tehrik-e-Insaf (TI) and Balochistan nationalist parties boycotted 2008 elections. Because of failing health and an attack on him by TTP militants, Qazi Hussain handed over the reins of JI to Syed Munawar Hasan. In the 2013 elections, although the TTP spared all the religious parties, PML-N and TI and targeted only liberal parties, JI performed poorly but managed to form a coalition government with TI in KP. Like JUI-F and JUI-S, JI is also known as the political face of TTP because of ideological affinity with it. Its closeness with TTP can be judged from the fact that Munawar Hasan was named as one of the guarantors by TTP for holding talks with PPP regime. JI’s affiliation with al-Qaeda got established after some high profile al-Qaeda members were arrested from homes of JI leaders. The JI must explain to the nation the association of its following members with Al Qaeda:- Khalid Sheikh Muhammad; Ahmed Farooq and his son Hamza Aziz; Muhammad Javed Ghori; Tehreek-e-Islam women wing. Irrespective of its affiliations, JI believes in democracy and constitution of Pakistan. Of course, establishment of Shariah remains its goal.


The TTP and affiliated militant groups term their fight against State forces as Jihad and security forces fighting them to preserve the integrity of the country as non-Muslims not deserving funeral prayers and burial in Muslims graveyard. Maulana Aziz, the leading cleric of Lal Masjid in Islamabad had issued an edict in 2004 in this context. JI Chief Munawar Hassan has now lent strength to Maulana’s assertion by reiterating that militants dying in combat are martyrs and soldiers are not. This unpalatable debate heated up in the aftermath of death of TTP Chief Hakeemullah, termed as Shaheed by Munawar. Fazlur Rahman created more ripples by stating that even a dog killed by US drone is a martyr. They not only undermined the sacrifices rendered by soldiers and the masses but also glorified TTP. What Munawar and his types imply is that the TTP militants are freedom fighters and Pak Army is an occupation Army fighting an illegal war. He has given a certificate of martyrdom to terrorist and derided Pakistani soldiers.


Known for his rude and rustic behavior, his reckless statement invited wrath of religious scholars and denunciation from all segments of society. Only TTP hailed his statement. He qualified his derogatory remarks by saying that if an American dying in battlefield was not a martyr, how come his backers could be called martyrs when their goals were common.  While the JI leaders claim to be against terrorism in all its manifestations, Munawar doesn’t consider beheading of soldiers, public hangings and bodies strung up from lampposts, bombing of mosques and Imambargahs, destroying schools, attack on funerals, kidnappings for ransom by TTP militants under Hakeemullah from August 2009 till end October 2013 as acts of terrorism. He forgets that TTP is funded and equipped by non-Muslim foreign agencies including CIA.  


Munawar’s offensive remarks were strongly condemned by DG ISPR. He said that his remarks have caused immense pain to the families of those who died fighting for their country. He added that JI chief ‘insulted’ the martyrdom off thousands of innocent Pakistanis and soldiers. He sought unconditional apology from him. Unfazed by Army’s tough rejoinder, Munawar refused to regret and stuck to his guns, while JI Shura also defended his stance. JI’s advice to the Army not to indulge in politics by issuing political statements is indeed surprising when seen in the backdrop of its prolonged alliance with military rulers. Because of its long association with the military, JI is dubbed as B team of the military. Decades long alliance of the duo is in doldrums and may snap unless the JI Ameer picks up moral courage to own up its mistake and clarify his position. If he doesn’t, it will lend strength to the common perception that he has lost sense of proportion and capacity to think logically and to behave in a civilized manner.


The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst and columnist. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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USA responsible for making Pakistan most dangerous country

USA responsible for making Pakistan most dangerous country


Asif Haroon Raja




The US leaders and media often cite Pakistan as the most dangerous country in the world. If it is true, it didn’t attain this status at its own. Outsiders are responsible for making Pakistan a nursery of terrorism, or epicenter of terrorism, as recently described by Manmohan Singh, or the most dangerous country. Ironically, the ones responsible for converting a law abiding and peaceful country into a volatile country are today in the forefront censuring it. Till the onset of Afghan Jihad in 1980, Pakistan was a moderate and nonviolent country. It did suffer from the pangs of humiliation for having lost its most populous East Pakistan and  grieved over non-resolution of Kashmir dispute pending since January 1948 UNSC resolution. Both wounds had been inflicted upon Pakistan by its arch rival India. Pakistan had to perforce go nuclear in quest for its security because of India’s hostile posturing and nuclearisation.


Invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by Soviet forces in December 1979 brought five million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. These refugees disturbed the peace of Frontier Province and Balochistan where bulk got permanently settled. 2.8 million Afghan refugees have still not returned to their homes and besides becoming an economic burden, have posed serious social and security hazards. Foreign agencies carrying an agenda to destabilize Pakistan have been recruiting bulk of terrorists from within them.


Once the US decided to back proxy war in Afghanistan, CIA commissioned thousands of Mujahideen from all over the Muslim world and with the assistance of ISI, motivated, trained and equipped them to assist Afghan Mujahideen in their fight against Soviet forces. Large number of seminaries imparting religious training to the under privileged children were tasked to impart military and motivational training as well and prepare them for Jihad. FATA and Pashtun belt of Balochistan contiguous to Afghanistan were converted into forward bases of operation from where young Jihadists were unleashed. For next nine years the youth were continuously recruited and launched to fight the holy war against evil empire. Saudi Arabia became the chief financer of Jihad. It provided heavy funds to Sunni Madrassahs only. ISI took upon itself as the chief coordinator of the entire war effort while CIA restricted its role to providing arms, funds and intelligence only.


The whole free world led by USA enthusiastically applauded the heroics of holy warriors and none cared about astronomical fatalities and critical injuries suffered by them. The maimed for life, widows and orphans were patted and told that it was a holy war fought for a noble cause and huge rewards awaited them in the life hereafter. The single point agenda of the US was to defeat the Soviet forces with the help of Muslim fighters. Not a single soldier of any country including Pakistan took part in the unmatched war between a super power and rag-tag, ill-clothed and ill-equipped Mujahideen.


None bothered about the ill-effects this long-drawn war will have upon this region in general and Pakistan in particular acting as the Frontline State. Although Pakistan was only supporting the proxy war and was not directly involved, but it remained in a state of war and it faced continuous onslaughts of KGB-RAW-KHAD nexus as well as attacks by Soviet trained Afghan pilots and soldiers in the form of air assaults, artillery barrages and missile/rockets attacks.  Throughout the nine-year war, Pakistan faced twin threat from its eastern and western borders. By virtue of occupation of Wakhan corridor by Soviet troops, USSR had become immediate neighbor of Pakistan and had hurled repeated threats to wind up training centres and stop meddling in Afghanistan or else be prepared for dire consequences. Moscow’s age-old dream of reaching warm waters of Arabian Sea through Balochistan haunted Gen Ziaul Haq, but he stoutly held his ground. Pakistan’s relentless support ultimately enabled the Mujahideen to achieve the miracle of the 20th century. They defeated the super power and pushed out Soviet forces from Afghanistan in February 1989.


All foreign Jihadists who had come from other countries were not accepted by their parent countries. They had no choice but to stay put and get settled in Afghanistan and in FATA since they had collectively fought the war and had developed camaraderie with the Afghans and tribesmen. The US who had enticed and displaced them and used them as cannon fodder to achieve its interests was morally bounded to resettle them. It was honor bound to help Pakistan in overcoming the after effects of the war. FATA that had acted as the major base for cross border operations deserved uplift in socio-economic and educational fields. Afghanistan required major rehabilitation and rebuilding after its devastation. Nothing of the sort happened.


The US coldheartedly abandoned Afghanistan, Pakistan and Jihadists and instead embraced India which had remained the camp follower of Soviet Union since 1947 and had also partnered Soviet Union in the Afghan war and had vociferously condemned US-Pakistan proxy war. This callous act opened the doors for religious fanaticism and militarism. Pakistan suffered throughout the Afghan war and continues to suffer to this day on account of the debris left behind by Soviet forces and proxy war. By the time last Soviet soldier left Afghan soil, Pakistani society had got radicalized owing to free flow of weapons and drugs from Afghanistan and onset of armed uprising in occupied Kashmir.


Pakistan’s efforts to tackle the fallout effects of the war got seriously hampered because of harsh sanctions imposed by USA under Pressler Amendment in October 1989 and political instability throughout the democratic era from 1988 to 1999. Besides, Iran and Saudi Arabia started fuelling sectarianism in Pakistan throughout 1990s in a big way. Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan and Majlis-e-Wahadat ul Hashmeen were funded by Iran and Sipah-e-Sahabha Pakistan, now named as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (Sunni Deobandi) were supported by Saudi Arabia, which gave rise to religious extremism and intolerance and sharpened Shia-Sunni divide. Masjids and Imambargahs as well as religious clerics were incessantly attacked by the zealots of two communities. Threat of sectarian violence that had become menacing in Punjab in 1997-1998 had to be dealt with sternly. But the Punjab Police operation had to be curtailed because of severe pressure from Human Rights activists and NGOs on charges of extra judicial killings. Resultantly, the disease remained uncured.


Unseating of democratically elected heavy mandate of Nawaz Sharif led government by Gen Musharraf and the latter opting to ditch Taliban regime and to fight global war on terror at the behest of USA energized anti-Americanism, religious extremism and led to creation of Mutahida Majlis Ammal (MMA), an amalgam of six religious parties, which formed governments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. MMA on the quiet nurtured extremist religious groups that were also funded by foreign powers.


The fact that after 9/11, the US chose Pakistan to fight the war as a Frontline State is a clear cut indication that Pakistan at that time was viewed as a responsible and valued country and not a dangerous country. However, Pakistan’s nuclear program was an eyesore for India, Israel and USA. The planners had made up their minds to intentionally create anarchic conditions in Pakistan so that its nukes could be whisked away under the plea that it was unstable and couldn’t be trusted.


The initial attempt towards that end was to first allow bulk of Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders and their fighters to escape to FATA from Afghanistan and soon after forcing Pakistan to induct regular troops into South Waziristan (SW) to flush them out. This move created a small rivulet allowing terrorism to seep into FATA, which kept gushing in because of RAW led and CIA backed covert war at a massive scale and turning the rivulet into a river. Likewise, another rivulet was created in Balochistan. Concerted and sustained efforts were made to destabilize FATA and Balochistan and gradually sink Pakistan in sea of terrorism. Six intelligence agencies based in Kabul kept sprinkling tons of fuel on embers of religious extremism, sectarianism, ethnicity and Jihadism.


The US instead of helping in resolving Kashmir dispute misguided Gen Musharraf to forget about UN resolutions and float an out of box solution and try and resolve the dispute in accordance with the wishes of India. In order to woo India, Musharraf gave it in writing that he will not allow Pakistan soil to be used for terrorism against any neighboring country including India. While making this commitment unilaterally, he committed the fatal mistake of not imposing this condition on India. To further please USA and India and make the latter agree to sign peace treaty, he bridled all Jihadi groups engaged in Kashmir freedom struggle as well as in sectarianism. He also allowed India to fence the Line of Control. These moves did please India but angered Jihadis and sectarian outfits and in reaction, they hastened to join Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and turn their guns towards Pak security forces dubbed as mercenaries of USA fighting US war for dollars.

But for phenomenal clandestine support by foreign powers to the TTP in the northwest and to the BLA, BRA and BLF in the southwest, extremism and terrorism could have got controlled after major operations launched in Malakand Division including Swat, Bajaur and SW in 2009 and minor operations in other tribal agencies. The disarrayed network of TTP was helped to get re-assembled and regrouped in North Waziristan and that of Maulana Fazlullah in Kunar and Nuristan in Afghanistan. As opposed to good work done by Pak security forces in combating and curbing terrorism in Pakistan, the US-NATO forces operating in Afghanistan along with Afghan National Army kept making one blunder after another and in the process kept sinking deeper and deeper into the quagmire. Rather than correcting their follies, they chose to make Pakistan a scapegoat and declared it responsible for their failures. Rather than doing more at their end, they asked Pakistan to do more which was already doing much more than its capacity.


Since the aggressors underestimated their enemy they took things too lightly. Their intentions lacked sincerity and honesty and their stated objectives were totally different to their actual unspoken objectives which were commercial in nature. Above all they had no legitimate grounds to destroy a sovereign country and uproot its people which had played no role in 9/11. As a result, rather than devotedly fighting to win the war in Afghanistan, the assailants got deeply involved in drug business and other money-making schemes. The ruling regime led by Hamid Karzai became a willing partner in such shady businesses. American security contractors, defence merchants, builders and intelligence agencies started multiplying their wealth and lost their moral and professional ethics. Other than materialistic ventures, they got more involved in money-spinning covert operations against Pakistan, Iran, China and Middle East than in fighting their adversary. Taliban and al-Qaeda combine took full advantage of their self-destructive activities and opening of the second front in Iraq. After regrouping and re-settling in southern and eastern Afghanistan, they started striking targets in all parts of the country. War in Iraq helped al-Qaeda in expanding its influence in Arabian Peninsula and turning into an international organization.


The US has made a big mess in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in Libya and is now making another mess in Syria. It has lost the confidence of its most allied ally Pakistan by mistreating and distrusting it. Having lost on all fronts because of its tunnel vision and mercantile greed, it now wants the most dangerous country Pakistan to ignore the raw deal it gave all these years and to not only help ISAF in pulling out of Afghanistan safely but also to convince the Taliban to agree upon a negotiated political settlement. At the start of the Afghan venture, Pakistan was chosen by Washington to ensure success and in the endgame Pakistan is again being relied upon to bail it out of the mess. In the same breadth, the US is unprepared to cease drone attacks in FATA despite repeated requests that drones fuel terrorism. It is still focused on carving a lead role for India in Afghanistan. It is not prepared to stop its interference in internal affairs of Pakistan or to dissuade India from destabilizing Balochistan. Whatever socio-economic promises made are futuristic in nature and tied to conditions. US media and think tanks continue to demonize Pakistan. Its tilt towards India is too heavy and prejudicial behavior towards Pakistan conspicuous.


As a result of the US skewed policies with ulterior motives, Pakistan is faced with the demons of ethnicity, sectarianism, Jihadism, religious extremism and terrorism. While TTP is aligned with about 60 terrorist groups, in Balochistan there are more than two dozen terrorist groups. In Karachi, other than armed mafias, political parties have armed wings and are involved in target killings. Rangers and Police are engaged in targeted operation in Karachi and are producing productive results. 150,000 troops combating the militants in the northwest enjoy a definite edge over them. Major parts of Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary, Levies and Police are fighting the Baloch separatists and sectarian forces targeting Hazaras and have contained anti-state forces. All major cities are barricaded with road blocks and police piquets and yet terrorists manage to carryout acts of terror. The miscreants are fighting State forces with tenacity because of uninterrupted financial and weapons support from foreign agencies. Once external support dries up, their vigor will wane rapidly and sooner than later they will give up fighting.


With so many grave internal and external threats, most of which were invented and thrust upon Pakistan by foreign powers and duly exacerbated by meek and self-serving political leadership, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s hands remained full. He has saddled the COAS chair for six years and during this period he had to face many a critical situations. It goes to his credit that he handled each crisis competently, astutely and honorably. During his eventful command, he tackled the challenge of terrorism, which he rightly described as the biggest threat to the security of Pakistan, boldly and produced pleasing results. Above all, he kept the morale of all ranks in the Army high and earned their respect and admiration. The list of his achievements is long and I have been highlighting those in my articles off and on. His successor has so far not been named but whosoever replaces him will find it difficult to fit into his shoes. I am sure he will breathe more freely and relax once he retires on November 29, 2013. We thank him for his laudable contributions and wish him sound health and happiness in all his future doings. Let us hope and pray that this senseless war comes to an end at the earliest, putting an end to chirping tongues deriving sadistic pleasure in describing Pakistan as the most dangerous country.


The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst, columnist, historian and a researcher. asifharoonraja@gmail.com 

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Terry Jones versus the World of Islam

Upright Opinion

September 12, 2013

Terry Jones versus the World of Islam

By Saeed Qureshi

Terry Jones a throwback fanatic from the flock of the Middle Ages Christian crusaders does it again. But this time the local administration preempted his insidious attempt by arresting him. His hatred for the Muslims around the world knows no bounds. Burning 3000 copies of the holy book of Muslims would have satiated his leaping animus against the second largest segment of the humanity on this planet earth.

“In April 2013 Jones announced plans for a Qur’an burning event to be held on September 11, 2013. The Police arrested Jones on September 11, 2013, before he could burn 2,998 Korans soaked with kerosene at a park in Polk County, Florida. He was charged with unlawfully conveying fuel and openly carrying a firearm”

In such previous Quran burning event on March 21, 2011, Jones with the help of some aides, held a mock trial of the Qur’an and set a copy on fire as a “punishment” for “crimes against humanity.”

He repeated his despicable act on “April 28, 2012, by burning a copy of the Qur’an, to protest the imprisonment of an Iranian-American Pastor, Saeed Abidine in Iran. Jones was fined $271 by Gainesville Fire Rescue for burning books without authorization.”

That a single fanatic Christian is up to a vicious goal what the entire Christianity in the present times would not want to do and that is to traumatize the Islamic countries by audaciously defiling their holy book.

Three times, Terry Jones  the pastor of the non-denominational Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida singlehandedly, has placed the United States  government in the most embarrassing and awkward position and exposing the Americans all over the world and to grave dangers to their lives. He has symbolized himself as the vanguard of those extremist elements that detest other religions especially Islam and the Muslims living in the Pluralistic society of the United States.

 It is unbelievable that in 21st century an odd, isolated, unknown clergy has so much audacity to defy the American constitution, spite the Islamic world, and go ahead with an action that was patently outrageous and provocative, un-Christian and un-American. After all Quran has been there all these centuries and yet what impelled a deranged pastor to rock the entire world with his insane obsession. The burning of Quran was aimed at expressing the hate and bigotry of the ultra- right Catholic Christians towards Islam.

During the previous Quran burning announcements by Terry Jones, the fervent imploring and the passionate requests and supplications of president Obama, the celebrated leaders of Jewish community and that of Christians, the serious concern of the Gen Petraeus and even the condemnation of Vatican Pope failed to convince Terry Jones to change his insidious plan. Should one call it an unbridled freedom of doing anything in the United States? However, Terry was not arrested on the charge of infringing the first amendment of the American constitution that guarantees freedom of practicing religions.

He was not pacified by any appeal until the secretary Defense called him and apprised him of the harmful ramifications to the American forces in Afghanistan. Robert Gates’ telephone call somehow persuaded the stubborn pastor to postpone his diabolic action on the condition that it was subject to the relocation of the Islamic center near ground zero to a new place. He has still kept the option of burning the holy book if that condition was not met.

I f this is not fanaticism or terrorism in board day light then how would someone define this most sinister act of an individual that would neither promote Christianity nor annihilate or erase the Muslims from the surface of the earth. Where do we draw a line between the most sought after terrorist Ben Laden and the present day lone Muslim basher? The American ethos and culture of religious freedom seems to be shredded by one individual who was deaf to the frantic calls of the entire world not to go ahead with his monstrous propensity. Muslims cannot respond by burning Bible because it is their sacred book also. Most of the substance especially pertaining to the ancient prophets is almost similar to what is presented in Quran.

The paramount question is:  why this endemic and deep-seated hatred for Muslims in this country that is famed for its religious freedom and abounding tolerance. In the wake of this earth-shaking event, Terry has fired the first glaring salvo towards fomenting clash of religions. Would it be in order if the American government enacts such a law that would prohibit demonstration of such brazen bigotry about other religions? This is imperative because if someone denigrates or derides others’ religions then the law should move against such a person.

 If tomorrow, some other individuals like Terry Jones also replay the same sordid episode then will it not foment the same crisis over and over again? What is going to happen to the sanctity of the American constitution and the American spirit of liberty, openness, and egalitarianism that the American society so grudgingly protects? This tendency of professing or demonstrating hatred against other faiths must be nipped in the bud, before it assumes endemic proportions. It would be a kind of poisonous proliferation posing a new threat every now and then for the minority communities in this America. It may also slight America as a bastion of human dignity and religious freedom.

The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat



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DERANGED BIGOTS: Fla. pastor arrested before he could burn Qurans

Fla. pastor arrested before he could burn Qurans

MULBERRY, Fla. (AP) — A Florida pastor was arrested Wednesday as he drove a pickup truck towing a large barbecue-style grill filled with kerosene-soaked Qurans to a park, where the pastor had said he was planning to burn 2,998 of the Muslim holy books— one for every victim of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Sheriff’s deputies in Polk County, Fla., arrested Pastor Terry Jones, 61, and his associate pastor, Marvin Sapp Jr., 44, each on a felony charge of unlawful conveyance of fuel. Jones had said he was heading to a nearby park in Mulberry to burn the Qurans on Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the attacks. Sheriff’s officials said that Jones was also charged with unlawful open-carry of a firearm, a misdemeanor, and that Sapp faces a charge of having no valid registration for the trailer.

Both were being booked Wednesday night into the Polk County jail, according to Sheriff Grady Judd.

Mulberry’s mayor, along with area elected officials, a sheriff’s deputy and several Polk County residents have talked about the need to express love and tolerance for all faiths on Sept. 11.

Jones is the pastor of a small evangelical Christian church. He first gained attention in 2010 when he planned to burn a Quran on the anniversary of 9/11, although he eventually called it off. His congregation did burn the Muslim holy book in March 2011 and last year he promoted an anti-Muslim film. All three incidents sparked violence in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The most violent protest happened after the 2011 Quran burning as hundreds of protesters stormed a United Nations compound in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, killing seven foreigners, including four Nepalese guards.

Jones has repeatedly ignored pleas from the U.S. military asking him not to stage his protests. Military officials say his actions put American and Western troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere in danger.

Mulberry is a town of about 3,000 between Orlando and Tampa and has no connection to Jones’ church, which recently moved out of its Gainesville building.

An Egyptian court convicted Jones, along with seven Egyptian Coptic Christians, in absentia, sentencing them to death on charges linked to the film. The ruling was seen as largely symbolic because Jones and the other defendants live outside of Egypt.

Just last week, a federal judge in Michigan issued a summary judgment in favor of Jones and his organization, Stand Up America Now, against the city of Dearborn for requiring Jones and his organization to sign a city-issued agreement in order to speak on public property in front of a Dearborn mosque in 2012.

Earlier Wednesday, about 75 people gathered In Mulberry for an interfaith prayer service to counter Jones’ actions.

Mike Ghouse, who has organized a 9/11 prayer service in his home state of Texas for nine years, brought his event to Mulberry because of Jones’ planned Quran burning. He initially had planned to hold the service in Texas but teamed with a group of Mulberry residents who had organized an anti-Jones Facebook page.

“Everyone has a right to believe what they believe,” said Ghouse, adding that it was Jones’ right as an American to express himself. Others said that while Jones was free to say or do whatever he wanted, the people of Mulberry didn’t want the world to think that the residents condone or agree with Jones’ views.

Said Polk County resident Butch Rahman: “We don’t buy what Jones is selling.”


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