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Archive for category WAR CRIMES

Countering Terrorism, Immediate Actions Required – By Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi

Countering Terrorism, Immediate Actions Required 

By

Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi

There was a conference of political parties to take a joint stand against terrorism. While it is good to see them realize the threat and get together , the out come has been mixed.
 
It is heartening to see the Prime Minister lift the ban on hanging. Let us now see the action in short time . The sentenced terrorists must be hanged forthwith. The petitions / appeals lying with the Prime Minister / president must be disposed off/ rejected in all terrorism cases without further waste of time. The judiciary should be directed by the Chief Justice to process the cases of terrorism expeditiously.
 
The disappointing part is the decision to set up a committee of politicians to prepare a plan of action. Making of committees is the known way of putting off a decision. What expertise do our politicians have in combating terrorism??
 
green-ground-red-drones-blue-paf-strikes-dawn-20-june-2014This should have been a committee of military and civil experts. The ISI, IB, MI , Police and civil servants who have experience of dealing with Taliban / TTP would have delivered an action plan which would have been prepared without any political considerations. 
 
Now we are likely to see opposing points of views diluting any worthwhile suggestions. Imran Khan while condemning the attack still talked about alternatives. This conference has failed to come up to people’s expectations. We expected directives being issued to all the provinces to wipe out all terrorist cells in their respective areas. The DCO and the SPs must be made accountable and given the task to root out all extremism/ terrorism from his district. If any incident then occurs strict action to be taken against these officers.
 
The Conference should have issued a directive to the Armed Forces to use all means to wipe out this scourge as was done by Sri Lanka to wipe out the Tamil Tigers. Activation and release of funds for NACTA should have been announced
All these measures would have raised the morale of the nation and the Prime Minister would have seemed to have taken charge of this existential struggle. 
 
The Army Chief has done well to have taken the Afghan President and the ISAF Comdr  into confidence about the linkages across the border. They must cooperate otherwise Pakistan should consider other means to hit Fazlullah and others holed up in Kunar and sending these terrorists to hurt us. 
 
Such occasions show the worth of a nation and its leadership. Let us not fail this test of history otherwise it’s judgement can be very harsh.
 
Javed Ashraf
Terrorism 

Terrorists have struck again in Peshawar. The Army Public School was attacked and over a hundred children were killed through point blank firing. It is the worst incident to have struck Pakistan ever since these animals started attacking our public and the Armed Forces. 

All that we ever hear from our politicians is condemnation. They need to do more if the country is to be rid of this menace. 
 
The Army is fighting them but our Government has stayed executions of all condemned and sentenced terrorists. Even the killer of Salman Taseer continues to enjoy a VIP status in jail despite a death sentence because the Prime Minister and the President refuse to sign the black warrant under pressure from EU human rights group. 
 
There are now more then 8000 condemned prisoners in jails waiting for a jail break since our politicians would not carry out the sentence of death for their crimes.

The Army leadership has to get this stay lifted from the Prime Minister who should immediately order the start of executions instead of meaning less announcement of 3 days mourning.

The s at a large scale to hurt these animals. 
 
Anyone including Imran Khan and our religious parties who have been calling them as our people and speaking favorably about TTP must come out and condemn them with no holds barred. 
 
We can not afford to have these terrorists living in our midst. 
 
The Prime Minister must call a meeting of national security council and also order the police in all provinces to launch a full scale operation against all known cells and extremist moulvis / Madrassahs which prepare and harbor these terrorists. 

We can not continue to remain quiet and indulge in power politics. The nation has to stand together and if some one does not stand up he should be condemned and isolated.

If at this moment the Prime Minister does not take charge and lead the fight, he should quit. 
 
If Imran does not stand with the nation, he should be told to get off as he is not fit to lead. 
 
The Army now has to not only assert itself with the Govt to issue necessary orders but also intensify their operations. We have suffered and our hearts ache for our brothers and sisters who have lost their dear children. May God bless these innocent souls. 

Let the nation rise and prove ourselves worthy of being a respectable nation. If we fail now we are not fit to survive as a country worth living and will soon have the likes of ISIS and TTP ruling this gutless nation.

Lt Gen Javed Ashraf
E-Mail
Javed Ashraf <javedaq41@gmail.com>

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ENCORE: US detention of Imran Khan part of trend to harass anti-drone advocates

The vindictive humiliation of Pakistan’s most popular politician shows the US government’s intolerance for dissent

 

    • Glenn Greenwald
    • theguardian.com, 
Imran Khan, head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf

Imran Khan, centre, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, with party’s supporters. He has led a high-profile campaign against US drone strikes. Photograph: A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images

Imran Khan is, according to numerous polls, the most popular politician in Pakistan and may very well be that country’s next Prime Minister. He is also a vehement critic of US drone attacks on his country, vowing toorder them shot down if he is Prime Minister and leading an anti-drone protest march last month.

On Saturday, Khan boarded a flight from Canada to New York in order to appear at a fundraising lunch and other events. But before the flight could take off, US immigration officials removed him from the plane and detained him for two hours, causing him to miss the flight. On Twitter, Khan reported that he was “interrogated on [his] views on drones” and then added: “My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop.” He thendefiantly noted: “Missed flight and sad to miss the Fundraising lunch in NY but nothing will change my stance.”

The State Department acknowledged Khan’s detention and said: “The issue was resolved. Mr Khan is welcome in the United States.” Customs and immigration officials refused to comment except to note that “our dual mission is to facilitate travel in the United States while we secure our borders, our people, and our visitors from those that would do us harm like terrorists and terrorist weapons, criminals, and contraband,” and added that the burden is on the visitor “to demonstrate that they are admissible” and “the applicant must overcome all grounds of inadmissibility.”

There are several obvious points raised by this episode. Strictly on pragmatic grounds, it seems quite ill-advised to subject the most popular leader in Pakistan – the potential next Prime Minister – to trivial, vindictive humiliations of this sort. It is also a breach of the most basic diplomatic protocol: just imagine the outrage if a US politician were removed from a plane by Pakistani officials in order to be questioned about their publicly expressed political views. And harassing prominent critics of US policy is hardly likely to dilute anti-US animosity; the exact opposite is far more likely to occur.

But the most important point here is that Khan’s detention is part of a clear trend by the Obama administration to harass and intimidate critics of its drone attacks. As Marcy Wheeler notes, “this is at least the third time this year that the US has delayed or denied entry to the US for Pakistani drone critics.”

Last May, I wrote about the amazing case of Muhammad Danish Qasim, a Pakistani student who produced a short film entitled “The Other Side”, which “revolves around the idea of assessing social, psychological and economical effects of drones on the people in tribal areas of Pakistan.” As he put it, “the film takes the audience very close to the damage caused by drone attacks” by humanizing the tragedy of civilian deaths and also documenting how those deaths are exploited by actual terrorists for recruitment purposes.

Qasim and his co-producers were chosen as the winner of the Audience Award for Best International Film at the 2012 National Film Festival For Talented Youth, held annually in Seattle, Washington. He intended to travel to the US to accept his award and discuss his film, but was twice denied a visa to enter the US, and thus was barred from making any appearances in the US.

The month prior, Shahzad Akbar – a Pakistani lawyer who represents drone victims in lawsuits against the US and the co-founder of the Pakistani human rights organization, Foundation for Fundamental Rights – was scheduled to speak at a conference on drones in Washington. He, too, was denied a visa, and the Obama administration relented only once an international outcry erupted.

There are two clear dynamics driving this. First, the US is eager to impose a price for effectively challenging its policies and to prevent the public – the domestic public, that is – from hearing critics with first-hand knowledge of the impact of those policies. As Wheeler asks, “Why is the government so afraid of Pakistanis explaining to Americans what the drone attacks look like from a Pakistani perspective?”

This form of intimidation is not confined to drone critics. Last April, Ireported on the serial harassment of Laura Poitras, the Oscar-nominated documentarian who produced two films – one from Iraq and the other from Yemen – that showed the views and perspectives of America’s adversaries in those countries. For four years, she was detained every single time she reentered the US, often having her reporters’ notebook and laptop copied and even seized. Although this all stopped once that article was published – demonstrating that there was never any legitimate purpose to it – that intimidation campaign against her imposed real limits on her work.

That is what this serial harassment of drone critics is intended to achieve. That is why a refusal to grant visas to prominent critics of US foreign policy was also a favorite tactic of the Bush administration.

Second, and probably even more insidious, this reflects the Obama administration’s view that critics of its drone policies are either terrorists or, at best, sympathetic to terrorists. Recall how the New York Times earlier this year – in an article describing a new report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documenting the targeting of Pakistani rescuers and funerals with US drones – granted anonymity to a “senior American counterterrorism official” to smear the Bureau’s journalists and its sources as wanting to “help al-Qaida succeed”.

For years, Bush officials and their supporters equated opposition to their foreign policies with support for the terrorists and a general hatred of and desire to harm the US. During the Obama presidency, many Democratic partisans have adopted the same lowly tactic with vigor.

That mindset is a major factor in this series of harassment of drone critics: namely, those who oppose the Obama administration’s use of drones are helping the terrorists and may even be terrorist sympathizers. It is that logic which would lead US officials to view Khan as some sort of national security threat by virtue of his political beliefs and perceive a need to drag him off a plane in order to detain and interrogate him about those views before allowing him entrance to the US.

What makes this most ironic is that the US loves to sermonize to the world about the need for open ideas and political debate. In April, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lectured the planet on how “those societies that believe they can be closed to change, to ideas, cultures, and beliefs that are different from theirs, will find quickly that in our internet world they will be left behind,”

That she is part of the same government that seeks to punish and exclude filmmakers, students, lawyers, activists and politicians for the crime of opposing US policy is noticed and remarked upon everywhere in the world other than in the US. That demonstrates the success of these efforts: they are designed, above all else, to ensure that the American citizenry does not become exposed to effective critics of what the US is doing in the world.

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Robert Greenwald’s war on drones : In Pakistan, “people are angry, upset, hurting, grieving.

Robert Greenwald’s war on drones

 

In Pakistan, “people are angry, upset, hurting, grieving. This is not something that makes sense either morally or from a national security point of view.”

 

By D.B. Grady | 6:05am EST

 

 

An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System on the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in May. The Navy plans to have unmanned aircraft on each of its carriers to be used for surveillance and be armed and used in combat roles.

 

Earlier this year, Robert Greenwald, acclaimed director of Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, turned his lens on the Obama administration’s unprecedented war on whistleblowers.

 

Now his latest documentary is in post-production, and in it he examines America’s shadowy and shortsighted drone war. The film is set for release in October, on the anniversary of the death of Tariq Aziz, a 16-year-old boy from North Waziristan remembered by his friends and family for a love of soccer and an interest in filmmaking. Aziz and his 12-year-old cousin were killed in a U.S. drone strike. They are but two of the hundreds of children slain by U.S. missiles in the name of “fighting terror.”

 

Leading up to the film’s premiere, Greenwald’s production company, Brave New Films, has mounted a guerrilla marketing effort, releasing short issue pieces on the realities and consequences of drone warfare, with special emphasis on so-called “signature strikes,” which are missile strikes from drones aimed not at specific terrorists or even known members of terrorist organizations, but rather, “suspicious” people in far-flung areas. (Who can say what malevolent schemes vaporized 3-year-old girls in Pakistan and Yemen had planned?) 

 

The whole sordid affair is shocking to the point of disbelief — it seems almost impossible that a sitting president of the United States is an enthusiastic, public supporter of what many have credibly argued is a war crime, and that Congress has abdicated its constitutionally-mandated oversight responsibilities. The public, meanwhile, has largely been shielded from the realities of drone strikes. The entire program is classified. It’s so needlessly secret, in fact, that even the director of the CIA — the man who built the drone program — has called for transparency with regard to the deaths of innocent men, women, and children. 

 

With so much at stake and so little being said or done about it, the responsibility to find and expose the program’s failures falls to the press. Journalists such as Jeremy Scahill have done a heroic job pulling back the veil. Now Robert Greenwald has taken up the mantle. If the shocking and heart-wrenching clips released by Brave New Films are any indication, public awareness cannot be raised a minute too soon.

 

I recently spoke with Robert by telephone, and we discussed drones, terror, and presidential accountability. Here’s a (slightly edited) transcript:


What first led you to film a documentary on the drone program?

 

I was interested and concerned when I started seeing some of the initial articles come out. They were quoting unnamed sources about who we were killing, and we know from previous wars that “unnamed sources” are almost 100 percent inaccurate, and it’s abhorrent to me that essentially press handouts were being reprinted. 

 

And then when I went to Pakistan and interviewed numerous drone victims, there was no question in my mind that it was a very serious subject and one that was being ignored, and one that lends itself to a film because of the personal, human stories. Not all subjects are meant to be turned into films; some of them are better served with white papers or investigations or news articles. But this is one that has very important human elements to it, and that is where film is very strong.

 

What is the feeling on the ground based on Pakistanis you spoke with?

 

I wasn’t able to go into the tribal areas because the government and military won’t let you in. When I went to Islamabad, I talked to a large number of people, including drone victims who were brought into the city, politicians such as Imran Khan, who’s running for president, journalists, psychiatrists. It was very clear that, understandably, people are angry, upset, hurting, grieving, and this was not something that makes sense either morally or from a national security point of view.

 

What most surprised you about the drone program?

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The tremendous inaccuracies, the tremendous number of repeated mistakes from the CIA and the military. The notion of signature strikes profoundly makes no sense. To kill people because they’re sitting in a circle — you have no idea who they are, no judge, no jury, no trial — makes no sense. To kill people on a kill list when you don’t have firm evidence makes no sense. 

 

To kill people when there are no people on the ground providing accurate information makes no sense. We’ve seen this movie before. Guantanamo was filled with people who were there because of false reporting or because of bribery. And we’re seeing similar things happen now with drones. It’s about a policy that, even though people deny it, it’s a policy based on the idea that we can kill our way to security. That isn’t accurate, hasn’t been accurate, and won’t be accurate.

 

In spite of everything we know about civilian deaths, including hundreds of children, why does the Obama administration continue to pursue the policy of drone warfare?

 

The Obama administration doesn’t answer our questions, so — I stick with the facts, unlike people in the CIA and others in the White House, so I don’t know why they specifically stick with it. Dennis Blair, former director of National Intelligence, who we interviewed, says there’s a national security bubble and it is very hard to get other information through. 

 

So part of it is the president and his top advisers have been misled and misguided by CIA guys who think they are accomplishing something when they are not. And part of it is this bipartisan agreement that goes on year after year, war after war, death after death, that we’re making ourselves more secure by spending billions and billions by occupying, invading, destroying, and droning. All the evidence is in front of us that it is not working. But for some reason, people in high places continue to advocate this policy.

 

This is one of the few issues where there’s no dissent in government, and accordingly, it’s moving at a relentless pace in a frightening direction. What can the public do about this?

 

I think there’s an opportunity for us, despite the military-industrial-congressional complex. The opportunity is based on two factors coming together. One is the economic crisis in our country. Each time that there’s another story about millions or billions of dollars wasted for so-called security that in fact turns out to be about abuse or profiteering — there’s an increased opportunity there to talk about that financial cost and the huge, wasted percentage of our budget, when people can’t get healthcare, have homes, or go to college. And on top of that, you have two wars — three wars, actually — Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan — that clearly did not make us any safer. 

 

People know it, they feel it, it’s in their gut, and the evidence is there. Conventional reporting talks about exhaustion from war. I think it’s more than that. I think it’s a profound sense that with the suffering, with the deaths, with the families destroyed across the world, that these wars have not made us safer and have not made the countries better. So those factors together, I believe, create an opportunity. Now, the military-industrial-congressional complex is not going to go quietly into the night, so it won’t be easy, but I believe the timing does serve us well.

 

What is the result of the unprecedented secrecy surrounding the drone program?

 

This really Kafkaesque secrecy where people can’t talk about something that everybody knows is happening has resulted in an extraordinary degeneration of democracy. Everything we know about democracy is being challenged. Presidents, officials who aren’t elected, officials who areelected, are killing in our name and spending enormous sums of money in our name. And secrecy prevents it from being talked about, and that is a travesty. 

 

There is absolutely no justifiable reason that drone strikes, which everyone knows are happening, should be classified. It’s absurd. Do you think that bad guys in the tribal areas don’t know there are drones? Why? Why is it secret? It only serves the interests of those carrying out the policy.

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