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Posts Tagged Nawaz Sharif Exposed

Aimless talk-and-talk strategy

Aimless talk-and-talk strategy

Asif Haroon Raja

Some of the glaring reasons that have given rise to religious extremism in Pakistan are as follows: Early demise of Quaid-e-Azam resulted in leadership crisis, which persists to this day. Growth of regionalism gave rise to fissiparous tendencies. Antagonism between seculars and Islamists impeded constitution making for nine years. Widening gulf between rich and poor and callous attitude of the elites towards the deprived class bred discontentment. Selective accountability and pro-rich judicial system added to the frustration of the deprived class. Corruption in all government, judicial and police departments eroded moral turpitude and scruples. Unresolved Kashmir dispute and State terrorism of India against Kashmiris heightened Jihadi tendencies. Western hatred towards Muslims and hounding and persecution of religious elements dubbed as terrorists intensified anti-US feelings. Pakistan rulers got out of sync with the ruled when the people viewed them as puppets of USA serving US agenda. Propagation of modernism and liberalism under the garb of enlightened moderation resulted in spread of obscenity and vulgarity and corresponding increase in religious extremism.

_55850395_afghan_pakistan_624x440_2Notwithstanding the centuries old Shia-Sunni divide, sectarian tensions grew in Pakistan after Iranian revolution in March 1979 as a result of Iran and Saudi Arabia funding Shiite and Sunni extremist groups respectively. Violent religious extremism sprouted in Pakistan as a result of Afghan Jihad against Soviet forces in 1980s and the US led western world, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan government and religious right as well as the military establishment supporting the Jihadis. Jihadism received a fillip after the brilliant success achieved by the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and commencement of armed uprising in Kashmir in 1989. When the Jihadis eulogized as holy warriors were dumped by USA in 1989, Osama bin Laden led fighters in reaction formed Al-Qaeda and started attacking American targets.  

After 9/11, while the US declared al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban as terrorists because of their suspected role in terrorist attacks, Pakistan not only ditched Taliban and aligned itself with USA; it changed the status of tribesmen of FATA from defenders of western border and strategic assets into terrorists. Once the security forces entered into South Waziristan (SW) in 2002 to flush out al-Qaeda operatives, the tribesmen under Nek Muhammad turned their guns against them. This change in posture of the militants of tribal belt led to a prolonged war which is still continuing and has resulted in deaths of well over 40,000 people as well as colossal destruction of property. While the Afghan Taliban under Mullah Omar are waging a Jihad against occupation forces to free their country and recapture power, Pakistani Taliban claim to be fighting a Jihad against Pak security forces by terming Pak Army as a mercenary army of the US. They want to make the Muslims better Muslims by preaching its brand of extremist Islam and to impose Shariah in the country. They do not recognize Pakistan’s constitution, democracy and judicial system.

For the achievement of their goal of making Pakistan an Islamic Emirate, they have been resorting to extreme brutalities like assassinations, terror attacks on military and civilian targets, worship places, shrines, funerals and markets. Schools in Swat, FATA and settled areas of KP including Peshawar have been destroyed in large numbers. Kidnapping for ransom, forced recruitment and marriages, beheading of captives and brainwashing teenagers as suicide bombers are their methods to strike terror. IEDs, explosive laden vehicles and suicide bombing are their preferred weapons of destruction. Worst is that unlike in the past when they were supported by Pakistan to wage Jihad outside the borders of Pakistan, now they are aided by non-Muslim powers and Karzai led regime in Kabul to wage war against own people. All these acts are against the principles of Islam.                 

During Gen Musharraf rule, war on terror was governed by the strategy of ‘fight and sign peace deals with the militants’. The TTP signed peace agreements to gain time, get their prisoners released, regroup and then strike back. This strategy caused little damage to the burgeoning strength of militants. Rather it enabled late Baitullah Mehsud in SW to form Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP) in December 2007, which has been relentlessly fighting the security forces and expanding its area of influence from seven agencies of tribal belt to settled areas of KP including suburbs of Peshawar and has established strong linkage with Punjabi Taliban.

During the five-year PPP led regime when Gen Kayani was made responsible for external and internal security of the country, barring one peace agreement signed with Maulana Sufi and Fazlullah in Swat in February 2009, no other peace deal was signed. The strategy was changed to fight and fight. This offensive strategy although resulted in heavy casualties of security forces, however, it helped in recapturing all the 17 administrative units less North Waziristan (NW) from the militants in 2009, breaking their back and snatching the initiative from them. The disarrayed militants under Fazlullah took refuge in Kunar and Nuristan. About 3000 militants were captured alive and handed over to the police for trials. It was unfortunate that the judicial prong couldn’t keep in step with the military prong and not a single terrorist was convicted and punished. All were released who later on recommenced their militant activities with a renewed vengeance.

Once TTP’s main HQ in SW was uprooted in November 2009 because of resolute three-pronged offensive, Hakeemullah Mehsud tried to convert upper Orakzai into his next command centre, but couldn’t and then decided to make NW as TTP’s main base of operation. He chose Mir Ali and Miranshah, the two major towns of NW and the suburbs around as sanctuaries for his fighters. Dawar tribe helped them in settling down in Mir Ali. Hafiz Gul Bahadar heading largest tribe of Othmanzai Wazir tribe in NW didn’t object to TTP’s settlement, although he was tied to peace agreement with Pak Army since August 2008 and was obligated to keep his area peaceful and free of anti-military elements. It was like allowing the camel to rest its head inside the tent. With the passage of team, a large no of terrorist groups including foreign groups moved into NW and got affiliated with TTP. These included Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Jaish-e-Muhammad, Hizbul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Janoon-e-Hafsa, Jundullah, Asian Tigers, Ilyas Kashmiri outfit.

Funded and equipped by foreign agencies based in Afghanistan, the TTP was able to muster the support of over 50 groups of different hues and all decided to collectively wage an ideological war. Most of the Punjab based banned groups had sleeping cells in all major cities and towns which enabled TTP Shura to plan and execute deadly attacks on chosen targets anywhere in Pakistan with ease. Their task was made easier by CIA by providing ground intelligence and satellite communication to home on to the desired targets stealthily howsoever well fortified. High profile attacks in Punjab were mostly carried out by Punjabi Taliban. LeJ got active in Quetta where it targeted Shia Hazaras with impunity. TTP and LeJ also joined the turf war of three political parties in Karachi to partake in the loot. Simultaneously, Fazlullah helped by his hosts regrouped his fighters and heated up western border by launching cross border attacks in Mehmand, Bajaur, Dir and Chitral.                      

Pakistan refrained from launching a major military operation in NW to nip the evil in the bud despite extensive pressure from the US because of its multiple compelling constraints. These included paucity of troops since the Army had already deployed about 150,000 troops in the northwest. Pulling out additional troops would have been at the cost of weakening the critical eastern front and losing strategic balance. With displaced persons from SW, Kurram Agency and Tirah Valley not having returned to their homes, it would result in further displacement from NW. An operation would annoy the only three friendly groups of Hafiz Gul Bahadar, Haqqani network and late Maulvi Nazeer as well as Afghan Taliban, with the possibility of all the groups getting united on a single platform and confronting the Army in a treacherous terrain. With untrustworthy Indo-US-Afghan nexus playing a double game and wanting Corps plus size force to get bogged down in NW, such a course would prove disastrous. However, inaction in NW has given a free hand to TTP affiliated groups to continue striking targets at will.

With the change of government in June 2013, the situation has undergone a change. The PML-N government in the centre and in Punjab, the PTI government in KP and religious political parties/groups are all soft towards the TTP and are keen to hold talks to end the futile war. All parties’ conference was held in last September and a consensus resolution was passed authorizing the government to hold talks with militants unconditionally and to condemn drone attacks which were fuelling terrorism. Since then the government has replaced the fight-fight strategy with talk-talk strategy. This strategy although seemingly wise is devoid of reciprocity from the other side.

735576_637896346235347_1943452822_oPro-peace lobbies strongly feel that killing of Hakeemullah Mehsud by a drone on November 1, 2013 and drone war have vitiated the atmosphere for talks. Anti-peace lobbies argue that drones didn’t trigger terrorism. They are criticizing the government and Imran Khan for adopting a confused policy of talks when the new chief of TTP Fazlullah has categorically rejected the offer and has further stepped up terror attacks. They say that closure of NATO supply routes in KP by PTI has antagonized the US but failed to appease the TTP. They are pressing the government to either hold talks expeditiously or else deliver the hammer since this policy of dithering is not only undermining the morale of KP Police in particular which is receiving the major brunt of TTP attacks, but is also encouraging the militants to maximize attacks and recapture their lost bases.                

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

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Living like a king — Sharif’s litany of abuses:” Sharif was always served ‘Lassi’ or Badami milk in a Mughal style silver glass by a crew of his choice.”

Living like a king — Sharif’s litany of abuses

News Intelligence Unit
By Kamran Khan

While constantly pleading with expatriate Pakistanis to send their hard-earned dollars to their motherland, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif caused a dent of at least Rs 110 crore to the national exchequer through the 28 foreign trips he undertook after assuming power on February 17, 1997.

Official documents seen by the News Intelligence Unit (NIU) disclosed that about Rs 15 crore were spent from the tax-payers money for Nawaz Sharif’s six Umra trips. For almost each of his foreign visits, Nawaz Sharif used his special Boeing plane that he had promised to return to PIA for commercial use in his famous national agenda speech in June last year.

Almost unbelievably, instead of keeping his promise to return this special aircraft to PIA, Sharif ordered an extravagant US$1.8 million renovation of his aircraft that turned the Boeing into an airborne palace. While reading sermons on austerity to the nation on almost every domestic tour, on this aircraft — on which all the seats were in a first class configuration — Nawaz Sharif and his entourage would always be served a specially-cooked, seven-course meal. PIA’s former chairman Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had, in fact, hired a cook who was familiar with Sharif’s craze for a special type of ‘Gajrela’ (carrot dessert).

While aboard his special plane, Sharif was always served ‘Lassi’ or Badami milk in a Mughal style silver glass by a crew of his choice. Even on domestic flights, Sharif and his men would be served with Perrier water, not available even to first class domestic passengers. The towels he would use on board, had golden embroidery.

Unknown-7Not for a moment, after making his historic promise to the nation in June last year for leaving the palatial prime minister house for a modest residence in Islamabad, did Nawaz Sharif show any intention to leave the prime minister’s palace. On the contrary, soon after that speech, the Prime Minister House received fresh supplies of imported crockery and groceries.

Some of the permanent in-house residents were Sharif’s personal friends, including one Sajjad Shah who used to crack jokes and play songs for him. Sharif’s little-known political mentor Hasan Pirzada, who died last month, always lived at the Prime Minister House. Sources estimate that Pirzada’s daily guest-list to the PM House numbered around 100 people who were always served with meals or snacks.

In the first year of Nawaz Sharif’s second term in power, Hamid Asghar Kidwai of Mehran bank fame, lived and operated from the Prime Minister House until he was appointed Pakistan’s ambassador to Kenya.

While making unending promises of instituting merit in all appointments and selections, Sharif played havoc with the system while issuing personal directives by ordering 30 direct appointments of officers in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). While Sharif was ordering these unprecedented direct appointments, his crony Saifur Rahman was seeking strict punishment and disqualification of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto for making direct appointments in Pakistan International Airlines.

Out of these 30 people who were directly appointed on posts ranging from deputy director to inspector in the FIA — without interviews, examination or training — 28 were from Lahore and were all close to the Sharif family or his government. One of the lucky inductees was a nephew of President Rafiq Tarar.

Nawaz Sharif had such an incredible liking for his friends from Lahore or Central Punjab, that not a single non-Central Punjabi was included in his close circle, both at the political or administrative levels in the Prime Minister’s Office. At one point, during his tenure, there was not a single Sindhi-speaking active federal secretary in Islamabad.

Unknown-2For about the first 18 months of Sharif’s second term in office, 41 of the most important appointments in Pakistan were in the hands of individuals who were either from Lahore or Central Punjab, despite the total lack of representation of smaller provinces in State affairs. Sharif stunned even his cabinet by choosing Rafiq Tarar for the post of President.

His activities were almost totally Lahore or Punjab focussed, reflected by the fact that in the first 16 months of power, he had only one overnight stay in Karachi. Conversely, he held an open Kutchery on every Sunday in Lahore, a gesture he never showed in any of the smaller provinces.

Nawaz Sharif, who had always promised a ‘small government’ ended up with no less than 48 people with the status of a federal minister in his cabinet. Ironically, less than fifteen per cent of the people in 49-member cabinet came from the three smaller provinces.

While anti-corruption rhetoric always topped his public speeches, Nawaz Sharif demonstrated tremendous tolerance for corruption as he completely ignored strong evidence laden corruption reports against Liaquat Ali Jatoi and his aides in Karachi.

Sources said that volumes of documents on the corruption of Liaquat Ali Jatoi, his brother Senator Sadaqat Ali Jatoi, the then Sindh health secretary and several of Liaquat’s personal staff members were placed before Nawaz Sharif, but he never ordered any action. These sources said that Nawaz Sharif also ignored evidence that showed Liaquat’s newly discovered business interests in Dubai and London.

Informed official sources said that Nawaz Sharif also ignored reports, even those produced by Shahbaz Sharif, about rampant corruption in the Ehtesab Cell (EC). Shahbaz Sharif and several other cabinet ministers had informed Sharif that Khalid Aziz and Wasim Afzal, Saifur Rahman’s right-hand men in the EC were involved in institutionalised corruption through extortion from Ehtesab victims and manipulation of the Intelligence Bureau’s secret funds.

Sources said that the Ehtesab Cell had issued official departmental cards to one Sarfraz Merchant, involved in several cases of bootlegging and another to Mumtaz Burney, a multi-billionaire former police official who had earlier been sacked from the service for being hand in glove with a notorious drug baron. Sharif was told that these two notorious individuals were serving as middle men between Khalid Aziz, Wasim Afzal and those sought by the EC both here and abroad.

Fully aware that Khawer Zaman and Major General Enayet Niazi were amongst the most honest and upright director generals of the FIA, he booted them out only to be replaced by handpicked cronies such as Major (Retd) Mohammad Mushtaq.

Sources said that while posting Rana Maqbool Ahmed as the Inspector General Police, Sindh, Nawaz Sharif was reminded by his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif about his reputation as one of the most corrupt Punjab police officers and also about his shady past. But Nawaz Sharif not only installed Rana as the IGP, but also acted on his advice to remove Gen. Moinuddin Haider as the Governor Sindh.

In a startling paradox, right at the time when the government media campaign was at its peak about the properties of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari in Britain, particularly Rockwood estate in Surrey, disclosures came to light about the Sharif family’s multi-million pound apartments in London’s posh district of Mayfair.

The apartment No: 16, 16a, 17 and 17a that form the third floor of the Avonfield House in Mayfair is the residential base for Sharif family in London. Records show that all those four apartments were in the name Nescoll Ltd and Nielson Ltd Ansbacher (BVI) Ltd, the two off-shore companies managed by Hans Rudolf Wegmuller of Banque Paribas en Suisse and Urs Specker — the two Swiss nationals alleged to be linked with Sharif’s offshore fortune.

In a knee-jerk reaction last year, Sharif first denied the ownership of those flats. Later, his younger son Hasan Nawaz Sharif said the family had leased only two of the flats, while their spokesmen, including former law minister Khalid Anwer, said that Sharif had actually rented those flats.

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NAWAZ SHARIF LISTENS TO HIS MASTER’S VOICE-LIKE HE DID IN KARGIL WAR

 

But what will count with legal experts is the fact that in their tax returns, none of the Sharif family members had ever showed any foreign ownership of any properties, nor had their tax returns listed payments for any rented apartments abroad.

“With the sale of these Mayfair apartments, you can buy three Rockwood-size properties of Asif Zardari,” commented a source, who added that Sharif’s third party owned properties in Britain may land them in a crisis comparable only with Benazir and Zardari’s cases abroad.

In another example of hypocrisy, while Sharif geared up his government’s campaign against loan defaulters in Pakistan, a High Court in London declared his family a defaulter and ordered them to pay US$ 18.8 million to Al-Towfeek Company and its subsidiary Al-Baraka Islamic Bank as payment for interest and loan they had borrowed for Hudabiya Papers Limited.

The court papers said that the Sharifs refused to make payments on the principle amount and instead directed official action against the Arab company’s business interests in Pakistan. Informed sources said that a few days before the fall of the Nawaz Sharif government on October 12, lawyers representing the Sharif family were busy in hectic behind-the-scenes negotiations with Al-Towfeek executives in London for an out-of-court settlement. These sources said that negotiations in London broke down soon after the army action in Islamabad.

While Nawaz Sharif deployed the entire state machinery and spent millions of dollars from the IB’s secret fund to prove money-laundering charges against Benazir Bhutto and her husband abroad, his government crushed any attempt by the FIA to move the Supreme Court of Pakistan against a decision handed down by the Lahore High Court absolving the Sharif family from money-laundering charges instituted against them by the last PPP government.

FIA officials who had investigated the money-laundering charges against the Sharifs faced termination from service, while the agency was told that even a decision to probe money-laundering was a crime. This particular case is likely to now go to the Supreme Court in the next few weeks.

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