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Posts Tagged Extremism

Pakistan – US Relations by K.Hussan Zia

Pakistan – US Relations

K.Hussan Zia









To understand a country one has to really know the ethos of its people. This is not always easy for someone who is not a part of the culture. The inability to understand often leads to poor judgement and miscalculation. Just to give one example, a joint US National Intelligence Council and CIA report released in 2000 predicted: “by year 2015 Pakistan would be a failed state, ripe with civil war, bloodshed, inter-provincial rivalries and a struggle for control of its nuclear weapons and complete Talibanisation” (The Times of India, 13th February, 2005). 2015 is almost here but the dire prediction seems nowhere near coming true.
There is much misinformation and many misconceptions about Pakistan. Unfortunately, most of these are negative as well as deeply embedded. There is conceptual and practical confusion that some people think has been fostered deliberately. Human beings tend to sub-consciously erect a defensive wall of cognitive dissonance in such situations. Perceptions are not easily dispelled. The best I hope to do is to explain the facts as I see them and leave the rest to you.
Not Intolerant
There is a general impression that people in Pakistan are bigoted and intolerant. In reality they happen to be anything but that.
According to a survey published in The Washington Post last year (15th May 2013), Pakistanis are more tolerant than people in almost all the countries in Europe, including France, Germany and Holland. Only Norway, Sweden and Britain have a higher rating. About 6.5% of Pakistanis said they would not like to have a neighbour from a different race. In India, on the other hand, more than 40 % of the people would apparently not like it.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/05/15/a-fascinating-map-of-the-worlds-most-and-least-racially-tolerant-countries/
Also not Violent
Pakistanis are also not violent. The rate of deaths due to violence per 100,000 people in Pakistan is still less than that in the US (5.0 as against 6.5). It is only a fraction of what it is in almost all of Africa, Latin America (including Mexico) and also Russia. It is about the same as for India and Israel but less than in most of Eastern Europe. (http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/cause-of-death/violence/by-country/)
The incidents of rape in Pakistan are among the lowest in the world —- less than one thousand a year for a population of 180 million. France on the other hand, with one-third the population of Pakistan, averages more than 10,000 cases a year. President Carter, in his recent book ‘A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Power and Politicsclaims some 12,000 women in the US military alone were raped in 2012. Yet, ironically, human rights organizations in the West chose a rape victim from Pakistan and paraded her around the world to symbolize the plight of women in general. (http://www.salon.com/2014/04/10/america_as_the_no_1_warmonger_president_jimmy_carter_talks_to_salon_about_race_cable_news_slut_shaming_and_more/?source=newsletter).
Karachi is often labeled in the western media as the ‘most dangerous city in the world’ (The Financial Times, 28th June, 2014). If you were to do a Google search of the top fifty most dangerous cities in the world you will not find Karachi’s name on the list. http://www.businessinsider.com/most-dangerous-cities-in-the-world-2012-10#
The rate of violent crime in Detroit, Michigan is seven times greater than that in Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city. (http://www.beyondtheheadlines.org/lovely-lahore/)
Much is also made of religious extremism and incidents of terrorism in the country. These are not peculiar to Pakistan or the Muslims. Yet, the word ‘terrorism’ has been made more or less synonymous with Muslims which has no basis in fact. According to the list compiled by the FBI for the twenty-five-year period between 1980 and 2005, Muslims were involved in only six per cent of all the terrorist acts committed in the US as against the Jews in seven per cent and Latinos in forty-two per cent. http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2013-05-01/non-muslims-carried-out-more-90-all-terrorist-attacks-us-soil
The European Union’s Terrorism Situation and Trend Report for 2010 indicates that out of a total of 294 ‘failed, foiled or successfully executed’ terrorist attacks in Europe in 2009 only one was by Muslim extremists. As against two by the group opposed to the importation of wines from North Africa (article by Dan Gardener in The Ottawa Citizen of 5th January 2011).
Extremists are found in any religion be it Christianity, Judaism or Hinduism. The same is true for acts of terrorism but the two, that is, religious extremism and terrorism are not synonymous (The Battle for God, by Karen Armstrong). IRA in Northern Ireland, ETA in Spain, Shining Path Guerillas in South America, Naxallites, Nagas, ULFA, NDFB, the Khalistan Army to name a few in India, Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, FLQ in Canada —- are not Muslims. (Dying to Win, by Robert Pape, University of Chicago).
The threat posed to the West by Muslim extremists may well have been exaggerated and even misplaced according to Sir Richard Dearlove who had been head of Britain’s MI6. He thinks the 9/11 attacks put a ‘distortion’ towards Islamic extremism in the public consciousness which has remained ever since. According to him we should be concentrating on Russia and China instead:
There was no terrorism in Pakistan to speak of until General Musharraf, under pressure from the US, broke longstanding agreements with the tribesmen and sent troops into Waziristan to hunt down Taliban escaping from Afghanistan. The force used was excessive, inappropriate and unlawful. It is the basic cause of terrorism in Pakistan today (The Thistle and the Drone, by Akbar S. Ahmed).
Taking advantage of the situation, some other actors have jumped into the fray using Afghanistan as their base. India, for instance, has about one million people of Indian origin living in the United Kingdom and she needs only two consulates to look after their needs. On the other hand in Afghanistan, where there are only 3,600 or so Indian nationals, she now maintains seven consulates, most of these in towns along Pakistan’s border. They are widely believed to be involved in supporting terrorism inside Pakistan.  
Similarly, CIA memos reveal that in 2007 and 2008 Israeli agents posed as American spies and recruited men to work for the terrorist outfit Jundallah in Pakistan to carry out false flag operations against Iran (‘False Flag’, by Mark Perry, foreignpolicy.com, 13 January 2012).
US – Pakistan Relations
Coming to the US-Pakistan relations; political co-operation between the US and Pakistan has been primarily determined by the needs and policies of the US. This is not to say that Pakistan gained nothing from it; only that she has almost always done what she has been told to do, sometimes even at the expense of her own best interest.
In 1974, India decided to go nuclear leaving Pakistan with little option but to follow suit, much to the annoyance of the US. It remains a serious issue between the two countries. Most Pakistanis are convinced that removal of this capability will always remain the principal objective of the West in Pakistan. It is the primary reason for the trust deficit that exists between the two countries (See Douglas Jehl’s review of the book ‘Lawless World in theNY Times of 14th October 2005).
New World Order
The collapse of the Soviet Union left the US as the only super power in the world. Many a strategist scrambled to find a new role for her. One of the first among them was Zbigniew Brzezinski who in his book, The Grand Chessboard hypothesized that any power looking to dominate the world needed control over the Euro-Asian land mass.
This was followed shortly afterwards by Samuel Huntington’s ‘The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. His thesis about ‘civilization’, meaning race and religion, forming the basis of future conflict in the world was not entirely convincing, nonetheless, it received inordinate amount of publicity.
To some it appeared as if the West was now in search of a new common threat to replace the one posed by the erstwhile Soviet Union. This would hopefully prevent the western nations from turning against each other, as has so often happened in history.
A 1992 US Department of Defence report under envisioned the United States as a colossus astride the world, imposing its will and keeping world peace through military and economic power. It drew too much criticism at the time and was withdrawn shortly afterwards. The issue was revived in 2000 under the name ‘Project for New American Century’.
President Bush apparently went along with its recommendations as reflected in his 2002 National Security Strategy Report. It envisaged permanent U.S. military and economic domination of every region on the globe, unfettered by international treaty or concern. Among other things the US also embraced the right to pre-emptive attacks against perceived enemies (see Gen. Wesley Clark interview with Amy Goodman on ‘Democracy Now’:http://www.democracynow.org/shows/2007/3/2).
Aftermath of 9/11
The attacks on 9/11 created understandable anger and calls for revenge and retribution for the atrocity. According to Bob Woodward in his book ‘Bush at War’, the President was intent on invading Iraq but the Secretary of State, Colin Powell suggested it should be Afghanistan because she was more ‘doable’. Ironically, there was neither any Iraqi nor Afghani among the alleged hijackers.
More bombs were dropped on Afghanistan than had been during the entire World War II. Significantly, on 31st January 2002, even before the bombs had stopped falling, the US Government announced it would support the construction of an oil pipeline across Afghanistan into Pakistan. A month later, Pakistan’s Musharraf signed an agreement with Hamid Karzai to build an oil and gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea basin to a port in Pakistan.
General Musharraf, who had previously staged a coup to overthrow an elected government, did everything he was told. It included provision of naval and air bases to NATO, opening land and air routes to Afghanistan, deploying 60,000 Pakistani troops along the border, apprehending and handing over to the US, without due process, any fighters escaping from Afghanistan; providing long-term logistic support and invaluable intelligence. In the first year alone, the US Central Command made a total of 2,160 demands and Pakistan acceded to each and every one of them. http://www.centcom.mil/Operations/Coalition/Coalition_pages/pakistan.html.
In the process Pakistan’s economy suffered major losses, to the tune of over 10 billion dollars in just the first year alone. This does not include the military expenditure and wear and tear of infrastructure, etc. The total loss that Pakistan’s economy has suffered until now exceeds 200 billion dollars. She has also lost more soldiers in this war than all the NATO countries put together.
We don’t hear any of this from the politicians or media in the West; the talk is only about the 20 billion dollars given in ‘aid’ over a period of twelve years which includes re-imbursements for the cost of logistic supplies provided by Pakistan to NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Drone Attacks
As the occupation continued, casualties among the western troops mounted which was not popular at home. There was also public weariness with the war. A new strategy was evolved using drones and night raids by Special Forces to minimize US casualties. It has had little effect on the final outcome of the war but the damage done to the US image, particularly in the affected countries, is immense (http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/pain-continues-after-war-for-american-drone-pilot-a-872726.html#spRedirectedFrom=www).
The surgical nature and pinpoint accuracy claimed for these operations is a myth. So is the claim that it is only the terrorists who are targeted. In an article on Facebook entitled ‘Are We at War With Pakistan? Congressman and at one time presidential hopeful, Ron Paul writes, ‘former US ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, when asked to define who can be targeted by the drones, said: ‘The definition is a male between the ages of 20 and 40’. (http://www.facebook.com/ronpaul/posts/10152361365996686 and
Colonel Kilcullen, who has served as adviser to General Petraeus in both Afghanistan and Iraq, estimates the kill ratio of innocent civilians and terrorists is more like 50 to 1 (‘Death From Above, Outrage Down BelowThe New York Times. 16th May 2009). The Peshawar High Court in its judgement on a case about the drones put it closer to zero per cent.
Imagine having up to six drones circling overhead twenty-four hours a day, not for a day or a week or a month but for years on end, making a constant buzzing sound that never ceases. Anyone listening to it knows that it can bring death and destruction to anyone at any time. It creates a deep-seated psychological fear —- a sort of unending emotional torture for all the inhabitants.
The lives of people in the area have changed completely. Children aged five to ten no longer go to school. Men are afraid to gather in groups of more than two or three. Weddings, which used to be such joyous affairs with music, dancing, and drumming, are now subdued events with only close family members present. Since funerals have also been targeted by the drones, they are now small gatherings as well.
It has not made the US any safer. The children of those killed in Waziristan are and will continue looking for Americans, wherever they can find them, to avenge the killing of their kith and kin for a very long time, indeed for generations to come. The tribal law, Pakhtoonwali, more or less makes it obligatory for the descendants of anyone killed to seek revenge from the offending party. It is known as badal or badla —- you kill one of mine, I will kill one of yours —- and there is no time limit on it (Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices inPakistan’, NYU School of Law and Stanford University Law School) .
This is not all by any means. Eleven and twelve year old boys and men well in their seventies, including even a ninety-year-old, as well as Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, were incarcerated and tortured at Bagram, Guantanamo and other places. There were no charges laid against them. To the outside world it gave the impression of hubris and contempt for the feelings of others and humanity itself.
On the night of 25–26 November 2010, US helicopter gunships attacked two army posts well inside Pakistan without any provocation. The attack lasted almost two hours and stopped only after all but two of her soldiers had been killed. To make matters worse, for a long time the US even refused to apologise for the atrocity.
Two months later a Blackwater mercenary working for the CIA shot and killed two Pakistanis on a busy road in Lahore and fled the scene as hundreds of people watched. President Obama even claimed diplomatic immunity for him which he did not have. There was uproar in Pakistan as was to be expected.
To add salt to the wounds, a bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives in support of the claim of some separatists in the province of Baluchistan to secede. These very people had been earlier declared as terrorists by the US and the European Union. It was perhaps the lowest point in relations between the two countries: http://baluchsarmachar.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/rep-rohrabacher-introduces-bill-recognizing-baluchistans-right-to-self-determination/
Not Doing Enough
Ever since she invaded Afghanistan the US has accused Pakistan of not doing enough to stop infiltration by Taliban, which is a euphemism for the Pashtoon or Pathans who are resisting the occupation.
It is next to impossible for Pakistan to stop the volunteers given the nature of the terrain, the familial connection between the people on either side of the border and their commitment to each other. There are also three and a half million Afghan refugees who have not gone back since the Soviet invasion. They are even more committed to the liberation of their country.
NATO had 100,000 plus troops who had done very little to secure the border on their side which makes any criticism of Pakistan disingenuous. The general feeling in Pakistan is that the US was trying to make her a scapegoat for what is now generally accepted as an impending debacle.
If the West has an interest in Central Asia it is a mistake to have an adversarial relationship with Pakistan. Realistically, the West can only have access to the Central Asian resources either through Iran or Pakistan. It needs both of these just in case one becomes unavailable for some reason. It is in the interest of the West to exercise caution in relations with both these nations.
Terrorism kills only a fraction of the people every year than are killed in accidents on the roads. Wars against terrorism, on the other hand have killed millions and climate change threatens to kill many times more. So why are we ignoring climate change by giving it benefit of the doubt which isn’t there and destroying entire societies and countries in the name of fighting terrorism —- worse still, accumulating trillions of dollars in debt in the process?
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that these wars have only created enemies where none need to exist. Dealing with the causes that led to terrorism in the first place, would have been much more effective and advisable. If only a part of the three trillion dollars that have been blown away so far on the ‘wars on terrorism’ had been used to better the lot of humanity, the world would be a far more peaceful and prosperous place for everyone to live in. As an example, only one per cent of it ($ 30 bn.) was enough to put an end to world hunger.
The United States is a great country, perhaps the greatest the world has ever seen. So much good was expected of her. What she has done especially since the turn of this century has not made the world a safer or better place. One can only hope that things will soon change and she will use her tremendous potential for the benefit of humanity and the future of mankind as a whole and not be seen to serve the interests of a selected few.
The writer is author of the books, ‘Pakistan: Roots, Perspective and Genesis’ and  ‘Muslims and the West: A Muslim Perspective’.  This article is an extract from the keynote address delivered by him at a conference on US – Pakistan relations held in the United States in July this year.


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The Punjabi Taliban

Rana Sanullah and Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi of Sipah-e-Sabah

Punjab, with Lahore as its bustling capital, contains half of Pakistan’s population. The provincial government is in the hands of the conservative, mildly Islamist party of a former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. In a speech in March his brother, Shahbaz Sharif, who is chief minister, pleaded with the Taliban to leave Punjab alone as his administration shared their ideology of keeping out “foreign dictation” (ie, Americans). Officials bristle at comparisons between Punjab, which is moderately well run, and the lawless tribal areas.

It is correct to say that there has been no territorial takeover by extremists in any part of the province, nor any enforcement of Islamic law. However, Punjab functions as an ideological nursery and recruiting ground for militants throughout the country. Distinctions between the Taliban in the north-west and older jihadi groups in Punjab have broken down. The federal government says Punjabi groups have been responsible for most of the big terrorist attacks in the province.

Punjab’s minister of law, Rana Sanaullah, went on the campaign trail in February with the reputed head of Sipah-e-Sahaba, for a by-election in the southern town of Jhang. The two rode through the streets in an open-top vehicle. The minister says that he was just trying to bring the group into the mainstream. Jhang is Sipah-e-Sahaba’s headquarters; the group makes little effort to hide its presence there.

Another outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammed, is based in Bahawalpur, also in southern Punjab, where it has a huge seminary. Former members of both organisations are integral parts of the Pakistani Taliban. Another group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for the devastating attack on Mumbai in 2008, also has Punjab as its home. “The Punjab government is not only complacent, there is a certain ambivalence in their attitude” towards extremists, says Arif Nizami, a political analyst based in Lahore. “They compete for the religious vote bank.”


Punjab’s minister of law, Rana Sanaullah, went on the campaign trail in February with the reputed head of Sipah-e-Sahaba, for a by-election in the southern town of Jhang. The two rode through the streets in an open-top vehicle. The minister says that he was just trying to bring the group into the mainstream. Jhang is Sipah-e-Sahaba’s headquarters; the group makes little effort to hide its presence there.

Another outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammed, is based in Bahawalpur, also in southern Punjab, where it has a huge seminary. Former members of both organisations are integral parts of the Pakistani Taliban. Another group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for the devastating attack on Mumbai in 2008, also has Punjab as its home. “The Punjab government is not only complacent, there is a certain ambivalence in their attitude” towards extremists, says Arif Nizami, a political analyst based in Lahore. “They compete for the religious vote bank.”




Musharraf Terms Nawaz Sharif ‘Closet Taliban’

“I call Nawaz Sharif a closet Taliban. He’s a man who is — who has been — in contact with Taliban. He is a man who, today, appeases the clerics and mawlawis [Sunni Islamic scholars] — the extremists,” ‘Foreign Policy’ quoted Musharraf, as saying in an exclusive interview. “Moreover, he (Sharif) has tried [his hand at leadership as prime minister] twice in the past — and he has failed. Why are we giving him a third chance to destroy Pakistan”



Nawaz Sharif Brags About ‘Old Friendship’ With bin Laden

In a country of 175 million, replete with some 15 million politico-religious extremists, opportunities for a positive geopolitical paradigm shifts are rare. Punjab’s Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, brother of Pakistan’s principal opposition figure Nawaz Sharif, tried to wreck this one by suggesting Taliban work out a “separate peace” with Punjab province.

“Cease targeting Punjab,” he said and focus on the other three provinces. Mercifully, there was a nationwide outcry against the wacky suggestion. Kayani summoned him and upbraided him in language he won’t soon forget. But this didn’t deter Nawaz Sharif from bragging about his “old friendship” with Osama bin Laden.



Research: Nawaz Sharif’s ties to Bin Laden


Daily Times of Pakistan reports – Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ex-ISI official says he arranged 5 meetings between Nawaz, Osama

LAHORE: Former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official Khalid Khawaja has claimed that he arranged five meetings in the past between former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden on separate occasions.

In a recent interview with a private TV channel, Khawaja said Nawaz asked the al Qaeda chief to provide financial support for “development projects”.

“I still remember that Osama provided me funds that I handed over to then Punjab chief minister Nawaz to topple Benazir Bhutto’s government,” said Khawaja, adding that Nawaz met Osama thrice in Saudi Arabia alone. “Nawaz insisted that I arrange a direct meeting with Osama, which I did in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “Nawaz was looking for a Rs 500 million grant from Osama. Although Osama provided a comparatively smaller sum … he secured for Nawaz a meeting with the Saudi royal family.”

The former ISI official also claimed that Nawaz had met leaders of Islamic movements around the world.

Khawaja said following a “forced retirement”, he went straight to Afghanistan in 1987 and fought against the Soviet forces alongside Osama.

Daily Times of Pakistan reports Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Osama introduced Nawaz Sharif to Saudi royals: ex-ISI chief

LAHORE: Osama Bin Laden introduced Nawaz Sharif to the Saudi royal family in the late 1980s, and – during a meeting – the former prime minister had asked the Al Qaeda chief to provide employment to Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia, claimed former ISI chief Khalid Khwaja on Sunday. According to the Times of India, Khwaja – who was close to Nawaz in the late 1980s and early 1990s – made the claim in an interview. “During his first visit to Saudi Arabia as chief minister of Punjab in the late 1980s, no one from the royal family gave Nawaz importance,” he said. “Thereafter, on Nawaz’s request, Osama introduced him to the royal family,” said Khwaja. “A close aide of the Sharif family and I arranged at least five meetings between Nawaz and Osama in Saudi Arabia.”

While this happens to be not something new or unknown. Nawaz Sharif’s ties to Osama Bin Laden always bothered former Priminister late Benazir Bhutto, for which she had contacted George Bush Sr. in 1989. President Asif Ali Zardari had mentioned this in his interview to an American channel’s show “Meet the Press”

Former ISI chief Khalid Khwaja has confessed on various occasions to playing the role of a mediator for several meetings between Mr. Nawaz Sharif and Osama Bin Laden. On September 8th 2009 he again mentioned this on Ary News channel’s show 11th Hour.

A comprehensive timeline of Nawaz Sharif’s history and links to Osama Bin Laden is also mentioned with many other proofs and articles in a non-profit organization’s websitewww.historycommons.org:

Spring 1989: ISI and Bin Laden Allegedly Plot to Kill Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
Hamid Gul, Nawaz Sharif, and Osama bin Laden conspire to assassinate Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Husein Haqqani, a Pakistani journalist who claims to have been involved in the plot, will later say that ISI Director Hamid Gul contacted Osama bin Laden, who was then known to provide financial support to Afghan mujaheddin, to pay for a coup/assassination of Bhutto. Gul also brings Nawaz Sharif, then the governor of Punjab province and a rival of Bhutto, into the plot. Bin Laden agrees to provide $10 million on the condition that Sharif transforms Pakistan into a strict Islamic state, which Sharif accepts. [LEVY AND SCOTT-CLARK, 2007, PP. 193-194] Bhutto is not assassinated at this time, but bin Laden allegedly helps Sharif replace Bhutto one year later (see October 1990).

October 1990: Bin Laden Allegedly Helps Install Pakistani Leader Nawaz Sharif
In October 1990, Nawaz Sharif is running for election to replace Benazir Bhutto as the prime minister of Pakistan. According to a senior Pakistani intelligence source, bin Laden passes a considerable amount of money to Sharif and his party, since Sharif promises to introduce a hard-line Islamic government. Bin Laden has been supporting Sharif for several years. There is said to be a photograph of Sharif chatting with bin Laden. Sharif wins the election and while he does not introduce a hard-line Islamic government, his rule is more amenable to bin Laden’s interests than Bhutto’s had been. Sharif will stay in power until 1993, then will take over from Bhutto again in 1996 and rule for three more years. [REEVE, 1999, PP. 170-171] Former ISI official Khalid Khawaja, a self-proclaimed close friend of bin Laden, will later claim that Sharif and bin Laden had a relationship going back to when they first met face to face in the late 1980s. [ABC NEWS, 11/30/2007] There are also accounts of additional links between Sharif and bin Laden (see Spring 1989, Late 1996, and Between Late 1996 and Late 1998).

July 1993: Ramzi Yousef and KSM Attempt to Assassinate Pakistani Prime Minister
Ramzi Yousef and his uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) unsuccessfully try to assassinate Behazir Bhutto, the leader of the opposition in Pakistan at the time. Yousef, with his friend Abdul Hakim Murad, plan to detonate a bomb near Bhutto’s home as she is leaving it. However, they are stopped by a police patrol. Yousef had hidden the bomb when the police approached, and after they left the bomb is accidentally set off, severely injuring him. [RESSA, 2003, PP. 25] KSM is in Pakistan at the time and will visit Yousef in the hospital, but his role in the bombing appears to be limited to funding it. [RESSA, 2003, PP. 25; GUARDIAN, 3/3/2003] Bhutto had been prime minister in Pakistan before and will return to power later in 1993 until 1996. She will later claim, “As a moderate, progressive, democratically elected woman prime minister of Pakistan, I was a threat to the fundamentalist zealots on multiple levels…” She claims they had “the support of sympathetic elements within Pakistan’s security apparatus,” a reference to the ISI intelligence agency. [SLATE, 9/21/2001] This same year, US agents uncover photographs showing KSM with close associates of previous Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Bhutto’s main political enemy at the time. Presumably, this failed assassination will later give KSM and Yousef some political connection and cover with the political factions opposed to Bhutto (see Spring 1993). Sharif will serve as prime minister again from 1997 to 1999. [FINANCIAL TIMES, 2/15/2003]

Late 1996: Bin Laden Influences Election in Pakistan
Not long after bin Laden moves back to Afghanistan (see After May 18, 1996-September 1996), he tries to influence an election in Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan, is running for reelection against Nawaz Sharif, who had been prime minister earlier in the 1990s. (Bin Laden apparently helped Sharif win in 1990 (see October 1990).) “According to Pakistani and British intelligence sources, bin Laden traveled into Pakistan to renew old acquaintances within the ISI, and also allegedly met or talked with” Sharif. Sharif wins the election. Bhutto will later claim that bin Laden used a variety of means to ensure her defeat and undermine her. She will mention one instance where bin Laden allegedly gave $10 million to some of her opponents. Journalist Simon Reeve will later point out that while Bhutto claims could seem self-serving, “her claims are supported by other Pakistani and Western intelligence sources.” [REEVE, 1999, PP. 188-189] It will later be reported that double agent Ali Mohamed told the FBI in 1999 that bin Laden gave Sharif $1 million at some point while Sharif was prime minister (see Between Late 1996 and Late 1998). There are also reports that bin Laden helped Sharif become prime minister in 1990 (see October 1990). While Sharif will not support the radical Islamists as much as they had hoped, they will have less conflict with him that they did with Bhutto. For instance, she assisted in the arrest of Ramzi Yousef (see February 7, 1995), who had attempted to assassinate her (see July 1993).

Between Late 1996 and Late 1998: Bin Laden Allegedly Pays $1 Million to Pakistani Prime Minister
According to FBI agent Jack Cloonan, in 1999, imprisoned double agent Ali Mohamed will tell Cloonan that he helped arrange a meeting between bin Laden and representatives of Nawaz Sharif, who is prime minister of Pakistan from 1990 through 1993 and again from 1996 to 1999. Mohamed claims that after the meeting he delivered $1 million to Sharif’s representatives as a tribute to Sharif for “not cracking down on the Taliban as it flourished in Afghanistan and influenced the Northwest Frontier Province in Pakistan.” It is unknown when this took place, but it is likely between late 1996, when the Taliban gain control over much of Afghanistan and Sharif as prime minister would have been in a position to crack down against them or not, and late 1998, when Mohamed is arrested in the US (see September 10, 1998). Cloonan will later say that he believes the information from Mohamed is accurate. [ABC NEWS, 11/30/2007] There have been other allegations that Sharif met bin Laden in 1996 and used his help to win the election for prime minister (see Late 1996), and also allegations that bin Laden helped Sharif win the election for prime minister in 1990 (see Late 1996).

For full timeline visit http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=nawaz_sharif

Source: Let Us Build Pakistan

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Musharraf terms Nawaz Sharif as ‘closet Taliban’

Sounding like a man hoping for a political comeback, former President Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf has said that he would return back to Pakistan if the people wanted him and if he believed he had enough support to make a contribution.

“If I have to just go there and join a political fray and be involved in accusations and counter-accusations … like most of the politicians are doing,” Musharraf said at news conference in Seattle on Sunday, adding, “I am not interested in that kind of politics.”Later, addressing an audience of several hundred largely Pakistani Americans in Bellevue, Musharraf termed Nawaz Sharif as ‘closet Taliban’, saying he would cause destruction of the country. But he denied the charges that corruption has make its way into the rank and file of Pak Army.

He said the Taliban brand of Islamic extremism posed a serious threat to the nation. “We need to ask ourselves, do we or don’t we want a Taliban/Al-Qaeda culture in Pakistan … because every action then flows from that decision.”

The Friends of Pakistan First sponsored Musharraf’s visit to Washington, and after the speech he answered wide-ranging questions on economy, India, feudalism and other topics. He also was asked about recent terrorist attacks that killed World Vision workers in Mansehra, to which he replied that the aid organisation should show resolve and not withdraw from Pakistan.

The visit came at a time when the Pakistani press has been speculating on whether he has a future political role in the country. In December, a Pakistan Muslim League leader, Sher Afgan Nizai, had said his party would welcome the former president’s return, which was likely to happen this winter. But later, an aide said Musharraf had no plans either to return or to rejoin the political fray. Musharraf, in his remarks at the news conference, boosted his governance. He called Pakistan a ‘failed state’ that was defaulting on debts when he came to power in 1999, and said he was able to increase freedom of the press, improve rights of minorities and stabilise the economy.

During his evening remarks, Musharraf said he lacked one thing – legitimacy domestically and internationally. He conceded he was labelled a dictator. He also spoke about the tense relationship between Pakistan and India.

At the news conference, Musharraf denied that Pakistan had supported terrorist activities in India, which he accused of ‘hyper reactions’ after the Mumbai attacks. He accused India of supporting terrorism in Pakistan, including Balochistan province.

But he said, “We must stop this confrontation between India and Pakistan,” and, “We must go for peace for the sake of the world, because the world considers us to be a nuclear flash point.”

Meanwhile, his visit prompted more than 70 protesters to gather early Sunday evening on a sidewalk outside the Westin Hotel in Bellevue where he spoke. One sign read “Dictator Not Welcome,” while others read, “Stand for Peace” and “Mister Commando is on the Run”.

Meanwhile, talking about Musharraf’s return, Ryan Crocker, former US ambassador to Pakistan, said, “Security would be a huge issue for Musharraf if he returns. So there would have to be some very solid understandings, backed up by the Army.”


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IT’S NOT THE TALIBAN, ITS THE FEUDALS STUPID; To Defeat The Taliban, Pakistani Feudals Must Die


Feudalism in Pakistan


The Feudalism in Pakistan (Urdu: زمینداری نظام zamīndāri nizam) has a stranglehold on the economy and politics of the nation. The feudal landlords have created states within a state where they rule their fiefs with impunity. The landlord’s influence spans over the police, bureaucracy and judiciary. The majority of the politicians in Pakistan are themselves feudal landlords.

The Bhuttos’ is one of the richest families of the subcontinent, The Bhuttos own around 40,000 acres (161874000 m² or 161.874 km²) of land in Sindh and assets worth billions of dollars.

Throughout history, feudalism has appeared in different forms. The feudal prototype in Pakistan consists of landlords with large joint families possessing hundreds or even thousands of acres of land. They seldom make any direct contribution to agricultural production. Instead, all work is done by peasants or tenants who live at subsistence level.

The landlord, by virtue of his ownership and control of such vast amounts of land and human resources, is powerful enough to influence the distribution of water, fertilisers, tractor permits and agricultural credit and, consequently exercises considerable influence over the revenue, police and judicial administration of the area. The landlord is, thus, lord and master. Such absolute power can easily corrupt, and it is no wonder that the feudal system there is humanly degrading.

The system, which some critics say is parasitical at its very root, induces a state of mind which may be called the feudal mentality. This can be defined as an attitude of selfishness and arrogance on the part of the landlords. It is all attitude nurtured by excessive wealth and power, while honesty, justice, love of learning and respect for the law have all but disappeared. Having such a mentality, when members of feudal families obtain responsible positions in civil service, business, industry and politics, their influence is multiplied in all directions. Indeed the worsening moral, social, economic and political crisis facing this country can be attributed mainly to the powerful feudal influences operating there.

Although the system has weakened over the years through increased industrialization, urbanization and land reforms such as those introduced by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, oligarchs still hold much power in the politics of Pakistan due to their financial backing, rural influence and family led politics which involves whole families to be in politics at any one time and cross marriages between large feudal families to create greater influence. Many children of feudal families are also argued to take up bureaucratic roles to support family agendas.

To begin with, the Pakistan Muslim League, the party laying Pakistan’s foundation 53 years ago, was almost wholly dominated by feudal lords such as the Zamindars, Jagirdars, Nawabs, Nawabzadas,Mansabdars, Arbabs, Makhdooms, and Sardars, the sole exception being the Jinnahs (merchants and lawyers) and the Sharifs(industrialists). Pakistan’s major political parties are feudal-oriented, and more than two-thirds of the National Assembly (lower house of the legislature) is composed of this class. Besides, most of the key executive posts in the provinces are held by them.

Through the 1950s and the 1960s the feudal families retained control over national affairs through the bureaucracy and the armed forces. Later, in 1972, they assumed direct power and retained it until the military regained power recently. Thus, any political observer can see that this oligarchy, albeit led by and composed of different men at different times, has been in power since Pakistan’s inception.

Since the Obama administration currently appears reluctant to ditch George W. Bush’s wrongheaded policy in Afghanistan, Pakistan should distance itself from the U.S., which may be planning a very long stay in Afghanistan. But Pakistan must also put its own house in order.

Second, Pakistan has to uplift its underprivileged areas, which are the main breeding grounds for the militancy. Unemployment, poverty, lack of quality schools, massive corruption, a low standard of living, and the millennia of debilitating feudalism have accelerated the Talibanization of the country. One reason why so many people have joined various Taliban groups in the Swat Valley — an area that is home to 1.3 million people with fertile land, orchards, vast plots of timber, and lucrative emerald mines — is that the Taliban have successfully exploited the profound differences between wealthy landlords and their landless tenants. The Taliban seized power from about 50 big landlords who ruled the Swat Valley and then organized the long-suffering peasants into armed bands. The entire landowning clique fled the Valley, and the Taliban offered the economic spoils to the landless peasants of Swat Valley.

Now is the time to end the feudal landlords’ domination of Pakistan, which has put workers and peasants in a subservient position and kept the middle class out of the highest circles of power.

Pakistan military has decided to deal with the Taliban Frankenstein.

The world was wondering what Pakistan was doing, until it launched a full-scale military offensive last week to halt the Pakistani Taliban, which had taken control of districts only 100 kilometers from the capital.

Pakistanis were glued to their TVs, shocked to see troops of the group known as the neo-Taliban advance unhindered toward Islamabad, set on recreating the Stone Age state their namesakes had established in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

But is it really so? Well, in some ways it is. Over the years, Pakistan has let the situation fester, allowing extremist and terrorist groups to sprout like mushrooms. The country’s chronic socioeconomic problems have left the downtrodden masses three choices: flee the country for greener pastures in foreign countries, become criminals at home, or join militant organizations that promise a better life, at least in the hereafter. When people don’t have the opportunity to live with honor, many choose to at least die with honor.

However, Pakistan’s military offensive against the Taliban will only solve the problem temporarily.

First, Pakistan has to free itself from the fatal U.S. embrace that has damaged the country greatly. For instance, the U.S. has given Pakistan $11 billion in assistance since September 2001, but the U.S. “war on terror” has cost Pakistan $35 billion, according to Prime Minister Pervez Ashraf’s advisor on finance, Shaukat Tareen.

Moreover, Pakistan’s unholy alliance with the U.S. has radicalized its citizens and exacerbated the terrorism and militancy problems in the country once known for its tolerant peace-loving society.

Feudalism and the Taliban are Pakistan’s evil twins.

Pakistan has to finally eradicate feudalism to end extremism and enter the modern world.

Pakistan must introduce land reforms, build a more vibrant middle class, reduce poverty, improve the education system, build roads, implement infrastructure projects, and establish industry in order to give people more opportunities for a better life. Otherwise, feudalism and intelligence agencies will only create more Frankenstein monsters in the future, long after the Taliban forces are gone.

The writer is a Tehran Times journalist based in Tehran.He can be reached at [email protected].

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