Ahmad Rashid rose to prominence after the Marxist-leninist insurgency in Baluchistan. He was part of the marxist nucleus which was fighting in Baluchistan. Another young man in this group was Najam Sethi who along with Tariq Ali are considered first of the “New Left” in Pakistan. Those who introduced Trotsky’s writings for the first time in Pakistani Left wing (which was hard core Stalinist and Maoist in those days). Both Rashid and Sethi soon quit being revolutionaries and emerged as seasoned political commentators and analysts operating in the “Post-marxist” paradigm. Amongst them Rashid is more academic, his work on Taliban and United States policy towards Afghanistan and central Asia is considered authoritative. He is perhaps the most objective analyst on Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the following article he puts Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti’s murders in perspective . While its fundamental to criticize the role of military establishment the abject surrender by Zardari regime should never be underestimated. Its the vacum being left by the weaker “political establishment” which is being filled in by the proto-fascist elements.  This sense of proportion is lacking in most progressive analysis coming from Pakistan but Ahmad Rashid’s highly analytical mind superbly achieves this balance. This is without any question one of best writing on recent crisis of Islamic Republic.

Shaheryar Ali

 

Ahmad Rashid : New York Review of Books Blog (With Thanks)

The assassination on Wednesday of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Federal Minister of Minorities, killed in broad daylight in Islamabad by four gunmen, is one of the most shameful acts of political violence committed by Pakistani extremists. That it comes just two months after the murder of Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab and one of the country’s leading liberal voices makes it all the more chilling. Yet the government and state’s reaction to the two killings has been even more shameful—raising the disturbing possibility that extremism is still being used by the security services in its efforts to oppose Western policies in the region.

The 40-year-old Bhatti was a Roman Catholic and the only Christian member of the cabinet of Prime Minister Yousf Reza Gailani. It was a death foretold. Taseer had been assassinated for his courageous struggle to amend Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which has been used to persecute minorities—a struggle to which Bhatti had also dedicated himself. Bhatti made a videotape some months ago that he wanted released to the BBC if he was killed. In it he said he would carry on the campaign to amend the blasphemy law.

“I will prefer to die for the cause [of defending] the rights of my community rather than to compromise on my principles,” Bhatti said in the tape. “The forces of violence, militants, banned organizations, Taliban and al-Qaeda, want to impose their radical philosophy in Pakistan and whosoever stands against it, they threaten him.”

Bhatti knew his life was in danger; he had been threatened repeatedly in recent weeks and had asked the government to provide him with security and a bulletproof vehicle. But even after Taseer’s murder, the government did nothing. Like Taseer, he ended up riddled with machine gun fire—though it is unclear whether a security detail might have helped, since Taseer was shot dead by his own bodyguard, a highly trained police officer. In both cases, the killers have come from a culture that has grown increasingly intolerant in recent years, abounds in conspiracy theories, and wrongly interprets Islam solely in terms of jihad and violence.

As leaders worldwide—from the Pope to Hillary Clinton to Nicolas Sarkozy—strongly condemn Bhatti’s murder, the reaction of the Pakistani government has been vapid. No action has been taken or promises made to curb the freedom of violent extremist groups, who have hailed both murders and who have meanwhile been staging daily street demonstrations in Lahore to demand the death sentence for Raymond Davis, the American CIA agent who is now in Pakistani custody after killing two Pakistani men believed to be agents for the army’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). (Davis was part of a secret team working in the country; the exposure of his activities puts further strain on the uneasy alliance between the US and Pakistan.)

For its part, the army has so far failed to express regret about either Bhatti’s murder or Taseer’s. The army chief General Ashfaq Kayani declined to publicly condemn Taseer’s death or even to issue a public condolence to his family. He told Western ambassadors in January in Islamabad that there were too many soldiers in the ranks who sympathize with the killer, and showed them a scrapbook of photographs of Taseer’s killer being hailed as a hero by fellow police officers. Any public statement, he hinted, could endanger the army’s unity.

Behind this silence lies something more sinister. For decades the army and the ISI have controlled the extremist groups, arming and training them in exchange for their continuing to serve as proxy forces in Afghanistan and Kashmir. But in recent years, the army has lost control of them and they are striking targets of their own. Yet the army has refused to help crack down on its rogue protégés—despite the fact that extremists have increasingly attacked the army and the ISI itself, and at least 2,000 military personnel have died at their hands in the past five years. This is all the more ominous in view of the resources the military commands: half a million men, another half a million reserves, 110 nuclear weapons (according to US media estimates) and one of the largest intelligence agencies in the world, the ISI, which has an estimated 100,000 employees.

If the army has now surrendered any willingness to take on the extremists, the political establishment had already given up long ago. Prime Minister Gailani and President Asif Ali Zardari head the Pakistan People’s Party, the largest national party in the country—some would say the only national party left. Zardari, as the husband of slain leader Benazir Bhutto, is no stranger to extremism himself, and his populist base has traditionally voted for the party’s anti-mullah, anti-army and pro-people policies. Unfortunately those principles were abandoned by a series of corrupt and ineffectual leaders, and the PPP today is not even a shadow of what it once was.

Zardari has backtracked on foreign policy goals such as improving relations with India and Afghanistan, as well as on domestic efforts to curb the power of the extremists and impose new taxes—on almost everything that may have helped Pakistan move towards becoming a modern state. There is no doubt that the army has tried to thwart the civilian leaders at almost every turn—but rather than resist or resign, the politicians have just been brow beaten into compliance and abject submission.

As a result, there is a vicious double game playing out in the streets, fueling the tensions that resulted in Bhatti’s death. The security agencies have unleashed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT)—the largest and most feared extremist group in Pakistan, which was behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks—on to the streets of Lahore. The group has been banned by the US, Britain and the United Nations and supposedly by Pakistan too. LT stalwarts have been demonstrating daily outside the US consulate to ensure that Raymond Davis—who was apparently charged with monitoring their activities—hangs. By giving free reign to such banned groups the security agencies may have inadvertently signaled to all extremist groups, including the sectarian groups who hate Christians, that they are free to take the law into their own hands. What is behind this complex and mind-boggling strategy? It is all part of a wider cat and mouse escalation between the US and the Pakistani military. The army wants to control any future peace talks that the US may have with the Taliban, so that the army’s aims for a future pro-Pakistan Afghan government in Kabul are met. Its leaders also want to make doubly sure that any long-term American arrangements do not leave Pakistan’s rival India in a stronger position in Afghanistan.

So far the US seems unmoved; and it has already circumvented the ISI to start indirect peace talks with some Taliban. One consequence is that the military are allowing extremist groups considered anathema to the US on the streets. This is also why Davis is not being freed, and why US-Pakistan relations are at their worst in many years. In the meantime, the army and the government continue to receive about $3 billion a year in US military and economic aid.

On March 3, Senator Bob Corker, who recently visited Islamabad, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he found Pakistan “the most disheartening place in the world to be, where you are talking the type of relationship that we have.” He added, “I think that in many ways we get played like a piece of music” by the Pakistanis.

The ISI may well be playing the Americans, but it does so at the cost of steadily ceding ground to the extremists. Right now Pakistan is becoming a place where there is an army without a country.

 

Source: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2011/mar/04/army-without-country/

With thanks: Online Journal

WMR has learned from U.S. intelligence veterans that the secret intelligence operation run by Vice President Dick Cheney was not under the aegis of the Central Intelligence Agency but was a component of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Department of Defense.

The JSOC unit carried out assassinations of foreign individuals, including politicians in countries friendly to the United States, under the direct orders of Cheney. One former intelligence official described the operation as a new “Phoenix Program.”

Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto

During the Vietnam War, the CIA’s Phoenix program, carried out, with the cooperation of U.S. Special Operations forces, identified key Vietcong leaders in South Vietnamese villages and towns and later assassinated them. What the CIA was involved with from the days subsequent to the 9/11 attacks was a similar operation in Afghanistan and Pakistan that identified key leaders of “Al Qaeda” and the Taliban and planned their assassinations.

However, what the CIA abandoned was Cheney’s use of the operation, in part organized under then-CIA director George Tenet’s “Worldwide Attack Matrix” or “WAM,” to target real or perceived political enemies in other countries, possibly including individuals in the United States. CIA director Leon Panetta officially terminated the CIA’s residual role in the assassination program after an eight-year involvement and informed Congress that they had been misled about the nature of the program.

The only actual part of the CIA that worked with the Pentagon’s assassination unit under JSOC was the Special Activities Division (SAD) of the CIA, itself largely comprised of former U.S. Special Operations personnel, including a number of former Delta Force members.

Far from being concerned about revelations about the program, WMR has learned that rank-and-file CIA officers are ecstatic about the revelations concerning Cheney’s operations. In knowing that most in the CIA, perhaps with the noted exceptions of deputy director of the CIA, Stephen Kappes, and acting CIA general counsel John Rizzo, were not involved in Cheney’s assassination ring, which is considered by many CIA officers to have been illegal, there is a certain amount of glee in realizing that Cheney may soon face the legal music on ordering illegal assassinations.

One retired CIA officer who was involved in the original clandestine targeting program before it was altered by Cheney, believes that the CIA has Cheney “by the balls” over the new revelations about the death squads.

WMR has been told by a U.S. intelligence source that the one person who poses the greatest threat to Cheney is former CIA director George Tenet, who claims that Cheney’s operation was so secretive he was not aware of its details. Tenet has been described as having few friends from the Bush-Cheney administration and has nothing to lose by making public what he knows about Cheney’s role in the assassination operation. Although the Cheney/JSOC operation continued under CIA directors Porter Goss and General Michael Hayden, neither are considered particularly vulnerable, except for their possible testimonies under oath before congressional committees.

The most high-profile target of the secret Cheney assassination squad, according to high-level CIA sources, allegedly was former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, assassinated on December 27, 2007, in Rawalpindi, the heart of Pakistan’s military and intelligence community.

WMR reported the assassination as follows on December 27, 2007: “Bhutto was reportedly first shot in the neck and chest and then killed in a suicide bomb blast at a campaign rally. Bhutto’s closest advisers immediately suspected the involvement of Pakistan’s military and intelligence complex in the assassination, an event which is thought by many to strengthen the hand of Musharraf and Pakistan’s dictatorship. The global corporate media, in practical unison, began echoing the tired tripe that ‘Al Qaeda’ was responsible for Bhutto’s assassination. However, ‘Al Qaeda’ was fostered by Pakistan’s military and intelligence community with large amounts of funding from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.”

According to our CIA sources, Cheney decided that every effort should be made to ensure that his friend, Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, remain in power in Pakistan and not be replaced by Bhutto. Cheney allegedly authorized his secret assassination unit to hit Bhutto and then maximize his political gain by blaming the attack on “Al Qaeda.”

Cheney’s alleged hit on Bhutto also involved U.S. and Pakistani electronic surveillance of her communications. On February 21, 2008, WMR reported: “The late former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto knew that all her phone conversations and e-mails were being monitored by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and ‘other intelligence agencies,’ according to her long time friend and co-author Mark Siegel. Siegel made his comments last night in a speech at the National Press Club highlighting ‘Reconciliation,’ a book he co-authored with Bhutto shortly before her assassination. Siegel said he and Bhutto were convinced that during her five years of exile in Dubai that all their phone calls between Washington, DC, and Dubai were being monitored by ISI. Since ISI does not possess its own significant eavesdropping capability in the United States, Bhutto’s reference to ‘other agencies’ is an indication that the US National Security Agency (NSA) was eavesdropping on Bhutto and passing some of the intelligence to the ISI and the government of Pakistani dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf.”

The House Intelligence Committee is promising to investigate the details of the program and on July 12, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said he believes there will be additional revelations forthcoming about the super-secret Cheney program.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2009 WayneMadenReport.com

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report

From the BBC

“The news regarding our respected chief is propaganda by our enemies,” he said.

“We know what our enemies want to achieve – it’s the joint policy of the [Pakistani intelligence service] ISI and FBI – they want our chief to come out in the open so they can achieve their target.”

A close associate of Pakistan’s most wanted man, Baitullah Mehsud, who was reportedly killed in a US drone attack, has told the BBC he is alive.

Commander Hakimullah Mehsud said reports of the Taliban leader’s death three days ago in an attack on a house in South Waziristan were “ridiculous”.

The US said on Friday it was increasingly confident its forces had managed to kill Mr Mehsud.

Neither side has provided evidence to back up their claims so far.

Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Friday he was “pretty certain” Baitullah Mehsud had been killed.

The White House described Baitullah Mehsud as "a murderous thug"

The White House described Baitullah Mehsud as "a murderous thug"

But Commander Hakimullah Mehsud – who some analysts suggest may be positioning himself to succeed Baitullah Mehsud – told the BBC the reports of his death were the work of US and Pakistani intelligence agencies.

“The news regarding our respected chief is propaganda by our enemies,” he said.

“We know what our enemies want to achieve – it’s the joint policy of the [Pakistani intelligence service] ISI and FBI – they want our chief to come out in the open so they can achieve their target.”

He said the Pakistani leader had decided to adopt the tactics of Osama bin Laden and stay silent. He said he would issue a message in the next few days.

‘Safer’

The missile fired by the US drone hit the home of the Taliban chief’s father-in-law, Malik Ikramuddin, in the Zangarha area, 15km (9 miles) north-east of Ladha, at around 0100 on Wednesday (1900 GMT Tuesday).

On Friday, another of Baitullah Mehsud’s aides told the Associated Press by telephone that his leader had been killed along with his second wife in the attack.

The White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, described Baitullah Mehsud as “a murderous thug”, saying the Pakistani people would be safer if he was dead.

“There seems to be a growing consensus among credible observers that he is indeed dead,” he told reporters.

South Waziristan is a stronghold of the Taliban chief, who declared himself leader in late 2007, grouping together some 13 factions in the northwest of the country.

Believed to command as many as 20,000 pro-Taliban militants, he came to worldwide attention in the aftermath of the 2007 Red Mosque siege in Islamabad – in which the security forces confronted and forcibly ejected militant students who were mostly loyal to him.

He has been blamed by both Pakistan and the US for a series of suicide bomb attacks in the country, as well as suicide attacks on Western forces across the border in Afghanistan

Tehrik-e- Taliban Pakistan has also denied the news of Mehsood’s death, see the story at BBC Urdu. Please also see this analysis by Haroon Rashid

Its Shameful the way Pakistani media has destroyed the Objectivity. Shame on those pro establishment pseudo secular clowns who are calling a “unconfirmed” new “Confirmed”. We dont know weather he is dead or Alive, we will only believe when we will see an evidence.

SA

Post Credit: Let Us Build Pakistan Blog

[The Mullah-Military (ISI-Taliban) Alliance Remains Intact?]

11:16am UK, Monday August 03, 2009

Alex Crawford, Asia correspondent

Sky News has obtained exclusive and conclusive proof that one of Pakistan’s most feared Taliban leaders is alive – contradicting government claims that he was killed months ago.

l-umer-khalid

The Pakistani Government said Khalid died months ago

Umer Khalid, who is also known as Abdul Wali, was thought to have died in the Pakistani government’s crackdown against extremists.

But our pictures show him not only alive and well, but with four hostages whom he is threatening to kill unless the authorities free Taliban prisoners they are holding.

Khalid allowed himself to be filmed to disprove the official claims and apparently to initiate negotiations with the authorities.

The Interior Minister Rehamn Malik told reporters in January that Khalid was among those killed in an attack on militant extremists in the Mohmand Agency, part of Pakistan’s tribal areas.

The claims were denied by the Taliban at the time.

The footage – which was filmed within the last few days – shows Khalid relaxing and smiling with a group of young, armed men who form his fighting group.

He says he has 35,000 fighters under his control but this figure is impossible to verify.

Sky’s cameraman is allowed to film the militant leader signing a paper giving his access to the four hostages.

The four hostages are sitting together in a line still wearing their security uniforms.

They belong to the Frontier Constabulary, which is the security force operating in the tribal areas.

Richard Holbrooke testifies at the House Foreign Relations Committee in 2007

US Special envoy, Richard Holbrooke

One of the men addresses the camera and says they have been held for three months.

He appeals to the government to release Taliban prisoners in exchange for their freedom.

Khalid tells Sky News that he has already killed two of his hostages but is willing to free the remaining four if five Taliban prisoners are let out of custody.

He appears to indicate he is ready to negotiate with the authorities.

The pictures of the Taliban leader coincide with concerns voiced by the US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan over the success of the military operation in the Swat Valley.

Richard Holbrooke said he was not sure whether the operation had achieved its aim of driving the Taliban out of the former tourist spot.

There are increasing worries that the militants may have just shifted to other areas in the country or gone underground.

Holbrooke is the first high-profile member of the Obama administration to voice doubts over the operation in public.

The new US administration has up until now given great support to Pakistan’s attempts to curb extremism in the country.

The pictures showing Umer Khalid alive are likely to heap further embarrassment on the government.

http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Taliban-Leader-Alive-Umer-Khalid-Not-Dead-Despite-Pakistani-Governments-Claims/Article/200908115352539

Shaheryar Ali

Horrific reports coming from Gojra Punjab Pakistan, the Pakistani media maintained a criminal silence and blacked out the violence till People’s Party co-chairman and president of Pakistan Mr Asif Ali Zardari took strict notice of the Anti-Christian pogrom.

Gojra Violence

Gojra Violence

The banned sectarian organization Sipah-e-Sahaba, a violent criminal gang which calls itself “Army of Companions of Muhammed” was build by Pakistan’s secret agencies during period of General Zia-ul-Haq to create an Anti Shia mania in Pakistan to check the popular People’s Party whose leadership had Shia origins. The organization has been banned nominally but continue to work openly in Pakistan especially in Punjab where it enjoys government support.

Made up of ethnically Punjabi immigrants the organization which has its base in Sareiki speaking Southern Punjab, it is supported by the Lahore administration to terrorize the local seriki speaking landed aristocracy most of which is religiously Shia or Sufi minded Sunni-Barelvi sect and politically supporters of Pakistan Peoples Party. By creating ethnic and religious hatred the establishment keeps the popular demand of a separate Seriki province under control.

This organization was one of the first groups from Pakistan to join Al-Qaida, its various splinter groups are active with Taliban. It also participates in Afghan and Kashmir Jihad, one of the reasons for which it is protected by Pakistani establishmentAnotherhousetorchedbyMuslims

According to reports, this organization instigated violence using a mosque by alleging the blanket charges of desecration of Koran and blasphemy.

The Islamist organizations have frequently used these blanket charges to instigate violence. Almost every time these charges are false. No one has ever been convicted or punished in Pakistan after anti minority violence, the police, the courts and the government all are complicit in this evil tradition

The Right wing government of Punjab is continuously de-contextualizing the Islamic extremism problem in Punjab blaming the “mythological Indian-Jewish hand” in the terrorism. The anti minority organizations like Tehrik e Khatam e nabuat receives state funding to conduct its conferences by Shahbaz Sharif the latest darling of Pakistan’s pseudo secular intellectuals.

ImranTalibphotoWhen the violence started the police failed to protect the minorities, christian woman and children were burned alive. The mob refused to allow the fire brigade. During all this carnage Shahbaz Sharif’s police stood silent.

Latest reports suggest that Punjab police has refused to register cases against those who killed the innocent people. The christian protesters have blocked the railway line and refused to burry the dead till Punjab government registers the case.

It must be noted that chemical bombs were used by muslim mob to burn the christian houses. This technique has been mastered during burning of another Christian Village , Shanti Nager. The culprits never brought to justice.

Reacting to the fresh incident of violence against Pakistani Christians, Mr. Joseph Francis, the National Director of the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLASS), has said that the July 30 attack on Christian residents of Korian has “reopened wounds” of Christians which they suffered in the wake of 1997 attack on Shantinagar, a Christian village, as well as it has brought back “tragic memories” of Muslim violence in Christian villages of Bhamniwala and Sangla Hill.

his is the fourth biggest blasphemy-related incident of violence in seven months of this year,” Mr. Francis said, and pointed out the Christians were being subjected to atrocities, whose ancestors “had polled a casting vote for the creation of Pakistan.”

It must be noted that Pakistani media fails to report these incidents objectively. Most of the time a black out is maintained. According to ANS news women and children were amongst those who were burned alive. 2 churches were desecrated and copies of Bible were also torn apart.

Its time that conscientious Pakistani should raise their voice against the evil right wing Punjab government and the Blasphemy laws .

When these atrocities were being committed ats of heroism were also being committed. Pakistani communist Shabir Ahmad of Labour Qomi Movement risked his life and saved many Christians when mob was burning their homes. we salute Comrade Ahmad and the communist movement of Pakistan.

The issue in covered here, here and here and please see my earlier articles here and here as well

Pic: Imran , teenager accused of Blasphemy


Adam Paul speaks the rare truth, which Pakistani Liberals and “free media” want to hide. He ask simple question/. Why our great Army can’t defeat few thugs? Most of the information comes from the socialist activists [the region is very progressive, despite what our liberals think! No one supports Taliban there] in the region. A bold act for which we must salute Pakistani section of IMT who are raising Red Banner in Swat and Tribal Areas even in these circumstances

Sherry

With thanks : International Marxist Website

Pakistan: Malakand/Swat – a vale drenched in blood and misery, but whose war is it?

The media make out that the Taliban have genuine mass support in Pakistan, but in this article we see how they are actually promoted by forces within the state that see them as a useful instrument in terrorising the local people and as a means of maintaining their own corrupt rule. And we shouldn’t forget the role of US imperialism in promoting them in the first place!

Today fear and terror reign in the beautiful valleys of Swat and Malakand. After destroying the peaceful valley of Swat, now terror is creeping downwards at steady speed and has now engulfed all the nine districts of Malakand Division. Encouraged by the victories of vigilante hordes in the garb of the Taliban, the fundamentalist elements are harassing ordinary people in all parts of the region and beyond.

Malakand (in yellow) in the north western provinces of Pakistan. Map by Pahari Sahib.

Malakand (in yellow) in the north western provinces of Pakistan. Map by Pahari Sahib.

But who are the Taliban and what is the secret behind their success? The Taliban are actually the criminal elements of society joined together by the armed forces and secret agencies of Pakistan. With the complete support of the ISI and local administration they are marching forward without any real resistance.In Malakand if you ask a street hawker, a bus driver, a car mechanic or a college student “who are the Taliban?” He would first smile at your question and then would say that they are in fact nothing and that it is the agencies that are playing games here.

Why the one million-strong Pakistan army, equipped with the most sophisticated weapons, cannot lay hold of a few hundred miscreants is now an open secret in Malakand. They just do not want to capture them; rather they support them covertly.

In the army’s Operation Rah-i-Haq, heavy artillery and gunship helicopters were used but not to destroy the Taliban but rather to harass the local population which has fled in big numbers.

All this terror, bloodshed, curfews and civil war have brought upheaval to the people of Malakand, whose first real wish is for peace at any cost. In the last election, the people of Malakand rejected the Mullahs and voted for the PPP and the ANP (the Pushtoon nationalist party) in the name of peace and for a solution to their basic problems, but no solutions have been forthcoming. Meanwhile, the locally elected MPs never return to their hometowns and are living in luxury in Peshawar and Islamabad while the people suffer.

All this has become intolerable and the people of the Swat and Malakand areas came out in big numbers in mid-February to protest against this civil war. In small towns people came out in numbers of 10,000 to 15,000 and protested against the brutalities of the Taliban, the Pakistan Army and against imperialist aggression.

In Batkhela 15,000 people came out on the main road and demanded an end to all this brutality. In Swat and Shangla there were mass rallies during the curfew in which people rejected all the forces of black reaction. The Pakistani media, which is playing the most counter-revolutionary role, presented these rallies as being in support of the Taliban, which is a blatant lie.

The people of Batkhela reported to us that Jamat-i-Islami (JI), a neo-fascist Islamic fundamentalist party, tried to hijack these rallies as there was no leadership from either the PPP or the ANP present at that time, but in spite of this the people refused to follow them. The activists of the JI raised slogans of Jihad through their megaphones but not a single person in the rally of thousands answered them. The people present were fed up of the games being played out by the agencies at their expense and wanted to put an end to this madness and devastation but there was no leadership. These spontaneous mass rallies continued for several days, due to which the Pakistan Army and the ISI came under immense pressure.

On February 16, in order to provide a face-saving device to the Taliban and also to present these rallies to the wider public as pro-Taliban, a peace deal was brokered between the provincial government of Pushtoonkhwa and Sufi Muhammad, who is a leader of a banned outfit, Tehrik e Nifaz e Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM). Sufi Muhammad – who was living an isolated life in Amandra in his madrasah – was suddenly brought into the limelight and presented as some saviour of the world. He was given the responsibility to talk to the Taliban and “persuade” them to stop fighting.

The “drama” of the negotiations and the so-called “peace deal” thus unfolded and the media was used as a tool to promote it as the best way of solving the problems. However, due to the fear of the people’s resistance, a mock peace deal was finally brokered on the terms and conditions of the Taliban and the Pakistan Army and State capitulated. The Taliban came out of this appearing as all-powerful and victorious.

The National Assembly in a hastily gathered session approved this deal unanimously, which strengthened the false notion of this “power of the Taliban”. President Zardari could do nothing but to sign that agreement. But what is the result? Is there now peace in Malakand? No. Are the Taliban weaker than before? No they have regrouped and strengthened and moved on.

According to the deal the civil courts will be replaced by Qazi Courts. What are Qazi courts? Nobody knows what they are, neither the President, the Army nor Sufi Muhammad; nobody knows what they are except for the fact that the judge will be called a Qazi. Nobody knows and nowhere is it written how they will function. Actually similar deals were brokered in 1994 and 1999 and the same regulations were then imposed. Those regulations didn’t solve a single problem then and neither will they solve any now.

In the bourgeois media we see intellectuals and analysts discussing for long hours about the so-called differences between the regular courts and the Qazi courts and they are manufacturing a false conflict between the two, when in reality the Qazi Courts are essentially the same as the filthy and stinking corpse of the regular courts in Pakistan.

On Sunday, April 19, after the deal Sufi Muhammad held a public meeting in Grassy Ground in Swat which was attended by nearly 30,000 people. People came in such big numbers for two reasons. Firstly due to the terror methods they were forced to attend this meeting. Secondly, they were hoping that now that the deal has been struck Sufi would announce peace and lay down his arms. But he disappointed the people and said nothing about peace or laying down arms, but said that the fight would continue.

The speech was broadcast live on all TV channels and everywhere people keenly listened to it. However, it revealed the real face of an ignorant Mullah, the real face of fundamentalism to everyone. Cyril Almeida wrote in the Dawn on 24 April:

“With one speech Sufi has done more to galvanize public opinion against militancy than a hundred suicide bombings and beheadings.

“Suddenly, people have woken up to the fact that the great soldier of Islam is a dangerous kook. ‘He thinks we’re what?’ ‘He wants to do what?’ Yes, he thinks the rest of us are sick and what we really need is a dose of Sufi’s medicine.”

In his speech he declared Parliament, the Supreme Courts and High Courts as un-Islamic and also that democracy was un-Islamic. He went on to say that everything is un-Islamic except for himself and his sect.

This exposed the reality of the “Islamic System” which the fundamentalists have been harping on about for the last 60 years. They say that the Islamic System should be imposed on all Pakistani society, but they never actually what that is in practice. Zia ul Haq, the most brutal dictator of Pakistan who ruthlessly ruled for 11 years, was never able to chalk out a detailed plan for such an Islamic System. All the previous attempts to impose one have done nothing but change the names of a few posts and offices and the rest remains a capitalist system and a bourgeois state. All attempts to chalk out anything outside the bourgeois state have failed.

Now once again they stand exposed. Various fundamentalist parties and right wing politicians such as Nawaz Sharif scoffed at Sufi meekly and defended the bourgeois state institutions.It was said that after the restoration of the judiciary all the problems under the sun would be solved. Price hikes, unemployment, the civil wars in Pushtoonkhwa and Balochistan, and all the other problems would be solved The person who led the movement of Restoration of the judiciary is trying hard to balance between the conflict over Qazi courts and regular courts. .

In reality, nothing has been solved and the judicial system of Pakistan also stands completely exposed in the eyes of the public. In actual fact, the judiciary as a state institution has always supported reactionary forces to terrorise the working class. Ayesha Siddiqa a strong supporter of the lawyers’ movement wrote in the Dawn on April 4:

“The judiciary must show more resolve than it did after the introduction of Zia’s draconian Nizam-e-Islam regulations. Then, barring a few judges… the majority happily applied laws that trampled on all norms of justice and human rights. And let’s not forget that the legal community in general did not really resist Zia’s laws. None of the bar councils protested against laws that ultimately resulted in an increase in homicide and injustice.

“As the county confronts an expansion of the Taliban, the legal community seems unable to muster the courage to launch a movement against what has happened in Swat. It is surprising that some lawyers place a higher value on the restoration of judges than on questioning the Malakand agreement which poses a greater threat to the state.”

Efforts, albeit only in words, are being made to rescue the disintegrating state structures, but the rapidly deteriorating economic situation leave no ground for this rescue operation to succeed.

Meanwhile, the ISI and Pakistan Army are using the Taliban threat to terrorise the people of Pakistan and to continue their plunder. After the “peace deal” the Taliban have emerged strengthened and now they face no resistance before them. And the local administration on the instruction of the ISI is giving them complete support.

Tha administrative head of Malakand has strong links to Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah. Photo by salimswati.

Tha administrative head of Malakand has strong links to Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah. Photo by salimswati.

The main link in this game is the commissioner of Malakand, Syed Muhammad Javed Shah. He is the administrative head of all nine districts of the Malakand division. In 2005 during the Mullah’s (MMA) government in the province he was appointed as the administrative head (DCO) of Swat but the leadership of the ANP in Swat approached the then chief minister and requested his transfer. They complained about his close ties with Maulana Fazlullah and said that he is actually living in his Madrasah. Fazlullah, also known as “mullah radio” is the head of the Taliban in Swat. Ironically, now that the ANP is in power in the centre and province, this man has been reappointed as commissioner. The recent intrusion of the Taliban in Buner was actually due to his help. Buner is a strategically important district of Malakand. It is on the border of Swabi and Mardan and is also nearer to Attock Bridge, the bridge that separates the Punjab from Pushtoonkhwa. This district is also close to the Silk Road, the ancient trade route from China to Pakistan.

The people of Buner had formed a militia to counter the Taliban attack and were up in arms. Commissioner Syed Javed went to the people who had gathered in Kanda, on the border of Buner and Swat, and said, “It is my responsibility to stop the Taliban. You people go and rest in your homes.” After persuading the squad to dismantle he imposed a curfew and then during the night invited the Taliban to capture all key positions in Buner. In this way the Taliban achieved another victory without firing a single bullet.

On April 17, the Friday prayers in Fazlullah’s Mosque in Swat were attended by the DIG (the Chief of Police), the DCO (the district administrative head) and the Brigadier who is in charge of the Army in Swat. All these people came in the car of Commissioner Syed Javed. The spokesperson of the Army has denied this news.

On April 3, Commissioner Syed Javed came to the Anti-Terrorism Court in Batkhela where a few Taliban were to appear for trial. before the “honourable court” “He ordered the police to unlock their handcuffs and took them with him  without any procedure or signatures.

All this shows how the ISI dominates the state institutions, Parliament and the provincial and federal government. He has now brought a new banned outfit, Lashkar-e-Tayyba to Malakand, where they have opened a new madrasah in Khar near Jolagram in the Malakand District. This fundamentalist organisation was formerly mostly present only in the Punjab and Kashmir.

Through the “peace deal” they have once again dashed the hopes of the people for peace. The Taliban, which is actually a gang of criminals, are now on a looting spree. Various mafia organisations related to smuggling of emeralds and rubies from the Swat mines, the timber mafia, gangs of kidnappers, drug smugglers and other criminal fugitives are using the Taliban militias for their protection. Abductions for ransoms have increased manifold since the so-called “peace deal”.

The Taliban have now increased their influence in Batkhela and other important cities and towns. At night they march through the streets in proper formation in groups of 60 to 70 with the most sophisticated weapons ever seen in the area. Their faces are covered and they can enter any home or beat anyone and sometimes abduct innocent people just for the purpose of terrorising the local population.

The complete support of the Army and State for these criminal gangs has left the people helpless in front of these beasts. The people are living a life of hell. With price hikes on the rise and unemployment and poverty increasing they cannot raise their voice for demands such as healthcare, education, food, clothing and shelter.

The recent release of Maulana Abdul Aziz of the Red Mosque in Islamabad clearly shows what the State and Army want. They want to spread this terror to the whole country. Already criminal gangs in the garb of the Taliban are grouping in the Punjab. In Lahore they have sent openly threatening letters to the Kinnaird College which is a top ranking girls’ college. In letters they have said that girls should not wear pants and they must obey the Islamic code otherwise they will spray acid on their faces. In Dera Ghazi Khan in southern Punjab they have pasted posters inside police lines stating that that they will take revenge against the police if it takes any action against them.

Many new groups are emerging and more will emerge as the state structures are collapsing day by day. But who is organizing and financing them and is holding them united so that they do not fight among themselves? It is the same drug cartels and mafia groups set up by the CIA during the imperialist sponsored insurgency against the left-wing government in Afghanistan in the late 1970s and 1980s. The Americans abandoned the region after the withdrawal of the Soviets but the hefty business of drugs and arms has continued.

In an appearance before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on April 24, Hillary Clinton for the first time publicly confessed that the Taliban were created by the US. She explained how the militancy in Pakistan was linked to the US-backed proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. She said the following:

“But the problems we face now to some extent we have to take responsibility for, having contributed to it. We also have a history of kind of moving in and out of Pakistan,

“Let’s remember here… the people we are fighting today we funded them twenty years ago… and we did it because we were locked in a struggle with the Soviet Union.

“They invaded Afghanistan… and we did not want to see them control Central Asia and we went to work… and it was President Reagan in partnership with Congress led by Democrats who said you know what it sounds like a pretty good idea… let’s deal with the ISI and the Pakistan military and let’s go recruit these mujahideen.

“And great, let them come from Saudi Arabia and other countries, importing their Wahabi brand of Islam so that we can go beat the Soviet Union.

“And guess what… they (Soviets) retreated… they lost billions of dollars and it led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“So there is a very strong argument which is… it wasn’t a bad investment in terms of Soviet Union but let’s be careful with what we sow… because we will harvest.”

Gen. Hamid Gul, the former head of the ISI, created the Taliban out of the madrasahs in Pakistan with the collaboration of the American CIA. He is still one of their chief patrons.

The US imperialists are raising a hue and cry about the relations between the Pakistani state and the Talibans but there is little that they can do about it. Photo by Eric Draper.Although there is currently a conflict between the two agencies, they agree on one thing: that these fundamentalist outfits should be kept in some form in order to use them as reactionary forces in situations of revolutionary upheaval, so that they can use them for their own vested interests. The ISI wants them in order to continue with its own loot and plunder and America wants them as an excuse to continue their so-called “war on terror” and maintain the profits of the Military Industrial Complex in the USA.

The US imperialists are raising a hue and cry about the complicity of the ISI with the Taliban insurgents but they cannot do much about it and have to finance the Pakistan army in this war of attrition. They have no choices left. In this shadowy war friends may be foes and foes may be friends and sometimes both friend and foe at the same time.

The corrupt regime in Pakistan is weak and already admitting the “deal” has been a failure. The army chief has called it an “operational pause” and has vowed to take on the militants once again. This is mainly due to the outrage against the introduction of the ferocious Sharia laws, supported by the liberal, democratic and secular leaders of the PPP and the ANP. It is also to appease the Americans who are in a hypocritical conflict with the Taliban. But the army chiefs know all too well that they in no position to resolve the internal conflicts within the army and the state. Hence they are hoping against hope. This conflict between black and “white” capital will continue to pulverize the region and spill more innocent blood of the oppressed peasants and workers, as long as the rule of capitalism remains.

However, the people of Malakand and Pakistan as a whole will not surrender without a fight. They have risen before and will rise again to counter these black forces. Their leadership has betrayed them once again. The PPP-led government has imposed a deal which even Zia could never have done. But this has exposed the true character of the leadership.

The masses are looking for an alternative leadership; they are open to ideas and seeking answers to their hundreds of questions. Nothing within the limits of this capitalist system can satisfy their needs. They have concluded one thing: that capitalism is horror without end. All the institutions of the capitalist system now stand exposed before the masses.

The comrades of the IMT in Swat and Malakand are patiently explaining the ideas of a socialist change to the masses and are beginning to get a response from the youth. They are working in extremely dangerous conditions, receiving death threats, but they have refused to yield and the struggle for revolutionary socialism continues even in these atrocious conditions of war and bloodshed.

The masses cannot afford food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and education under this exploitative system where poverty and deprivation are rising by the hour due to this war. Without a socialist transformation not a single issue of the masses can be solved. Here barbarism is presently brutalizing society. Socialism or barbarism are immediate options, not ones for the future. This is the message of the revolutionary forces which are building their base in Malakand and throughout the whole of Pakistan. They pose this message at great risk to their own lives, especially in Malakand, Swat and Waziristan. The masses will inevitably rise once again as they did in the revolution of 1968-69 even in these areas, and the path they will follow will be none other than that of revolution. A genuine Marxist leadership can lead them to a socialist victory.

Shaheryar Ali

After abduction, murder and mutilation of the bodies of 3 Baloch leaders, who were part of “friends of Baloch nation” committee working with United Nations for release of thousands of “disappeared Baloch men and women, the violent clashes still continue in Balochistan.

baloch-1 A complete general strike was observed for 3rd day in Balochistan. 9 people have been killed so far. 6 bodies were recovered from suberbs of Quetta who were killed during torture. According to the BBC situation remains very tense in Quetta where one police man was killed last night. There were also reports of 7 rockets being fired in Qalat which targeted FC camp and houses of certain people suspected of being informers of Pakistani agencies. One man was reportedly injured. It must be kept in mind that Frontier Constabulary or the FC has long been implicated by the Baloch leaders for wide spread human rights violations, extra-judicial murders , torture and disappearances. FC has also been accused of committing heinous crimes against Baloch women. In Quetta FC was responsible for a particularly brutal baton charge and tear gassing of the women protestors who were protesting against the murder of 3 Baloch leaders.baloch_7

One woman commented to the BBC that “look at Pakistanis double standards, whole country was protesting on flogging of an anonymous girl from Swat but here we have been beaten half to death by the FC but no one takes notice. Even United Nations and International community remain silent on the atrocities being committed against the Baloch nation by Pakistani state”.

According to the BBC urdu service the spokesperson of Pro-liberation Baloch Republican Party today accepted responsibility for attacking FC and for killing two Pro-Pakistan individuals. [We condemn acts of violence by Baloch resistance but we have been writing on the post-nationalist and racist turn of the Baloch movement due to policy of discrediting Baloch nationalists by Pakistani establishment]

The Reign of Terror

What is happening in Balochistan is unbelievable. People have been “burned alive” in molten coal tar by Pakistan army. Thousands of Baloch students, intellectuals and political activists have been “disappeared”. Pakistani secret agencies are largely considered responsible for these disappearances. Term of “sexual slavery” was heard after a long time in case of abduction of Zarrina Marri and other women in custody of Pakistani state according to independent and well reputed human rights organizations like Asian Human Rights Commission etc. We have writing on Baloch issue for a long time our writing on these events can be seen here, here, here and here

What Happened?

Wu ayeto ki goad mein bikhri hue Akbar ki laash [Zaidi, Mustafa Mersia e imam]

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistanthe Baloch leaders were forcibly picked up, blindfolded and taken in cars, closely followed by vehicles belonging to the Frontier Corps.” The medical investigations by the doctors at civil hospital Turbat, Balochistan, suggests that all the three were shot dead at close range with Kalashnikov AK47s and their bodies were badly mutilated. The medical report suggests that they were killed one week before the bodies were recoveredbaloch_8

“Witness Killing” Asian Human Rights Commission’s Version:

Three Baloch nationalist leaders were killed after their abduction by plain clothes persons in mysterious vehicles that bore no registration plates. They were taken from the chambers of a prominent lawyer and their deaths have raised several questions on the role of state spy agencies, particularly about military intelligence (MI). All three murdered persons, Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Sher Mohammad Baloch and Lala Muneer Jan Baloch, were earlier kidnapped by the military intelligence agencies during 2006 and 2007 and each of them were disappeared for several months. After their release it was found that they were kept in the different military torture cells and severely tortured. They all were interrogated by the military officers about the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and funding for nationalist movements in the province against military operations.

The killings are tantamount as ‘witness killings’ as they all were previously disappeared by the army and kept in different military torture cells before being released. Therefore they might have proved dangerous in the probe about disappearances after arrests of political and nationalist activists.

The Leaders were abducted by Agencies in past as well: AHRC statement continues

The Asian Human Rights Commission issued an urgent appeal on the abduction and disappearance of two of the leaders, Mr. Ghulam Mohammad Baloch and Sher Mohammad Baloch. They were abducted when they were holding a meeting for the preparations for a protest demonstration against the murder of Sardar Akbar Khan Bugti, the former chief minister of Balochistan by army personnel at his hide out. The details of their abduction in 2006 can be found on this link http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2006/2119/

The third one, Mr. Lala Muneer Jan Baloch, was also abducted in the month of February 2007 from Balochistan province by plain clothed persons and was kept in different military torture cells for almost eight months. These men were all released after the restoration of Mr. Iftekhar Choudhry, the Chief Justice of Pakistan by the Supreme Court on July 20, 2007, as their cases of disappearance were before the High Court of Sindh.

The military authorities could not find any evidence of their involvement in the so called secessionist movement in Balochistan province. They all were dumped at different places along the road sides bearing severe torture marks on their bodies. They were told before their release by their military captors that if they revealed anything about their captivity in the military torture cells then they will be killed or persons from their families will face the same fate.

Mr. Salim Baloch, vice president of Jamhoori Watan Party of Balochistan, was abducted by plain clothed persons on March 10, 2006, from Karachi, Sindh province, and was kept in military torture cells in the different cities of Pakistan particularly, in the Punjab province, and severely tortured. He was released in the month of December 2006 with the warning that he should not tell about his detention in the military cells. But he was again abducted within 36 hours after he gave his statement about his ordeal of 9 months of torture and illegal detention. In his statement made before the Sindh High Court, Mr. Salim Baloch believed that he would be rearrested by the secret military agencies as he was threatened by the military officers that it would happen if he told about his arrest and torture. Mr. Baloch requested the High Court to provide protection but it paid no attention to his plea. Please see link for the urgent appeal which documents his ordeals, http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2007/2151/

An other case is that of Syed Abid Raza Zaidi, who was abducted by plain clothed persons from Karachi on April 26 and kept in military torture cells to get information on the Nishter Park incident of April 11. He was released in September but again abducted by plain clothed persons for not following the warning of the military authorities. After giving his statement before a panel discussion of Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan at Islamabad he was again abducted from another city of Lahore, Punjab province. Please see the details of the case through this link,
http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2006/2012/

Eliminating Witnesses? The brutal murder of the Baloch leaders is ample proof of the involvement of state agencies in their abduction from the office of the lawyer. In that they all were abducted in the same fashion as others abducted by plain clothed persons in broad daylight in vehicles without registration numbers. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan “the Baloch leaders were forcibly picked up, blindfolded and taken in cars, closely followed by vehicles belonging to the Frontier Corps.” The medical investigations by the doctors at Civil hospital Turbat, Balochistan, suggests that all the three were shot dead at close range with Kalashnikov AK47s and their bodies were badly mutilated. The medical report suggests that they were killed one week before the bodies were recovered.

The three murdered people were members of the government’s committee which was looking into the cases of disappeared persons since 2001 in the province. Mr. Ghulam Mohammad had already given a statement that he saw some persons in the Rawalpindi, Punjab, military centre who had been missing for several years. Their own experiences of disappearances and detention at military torture cells was a problem for the state intelligence agencies. Mr. Ghulam Mohammad was also involved in a dialogue with the persons who abducted Mr. John Solecki, the head of UNHCR mission at Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. He was one of the Baloch nationalist by whose efforts Mr. Solecki was released.

baloch_9Killing of witnesses threatens the possibility of any justice regarding the large numbers of persons who have disappeared in Pakistan. These recent killings seem to indicate the mobilisation of secret units in order to eliminate those who have knowledge about the maintenance of secret prisons and torture chambers in the country. Particularly those who have taken a keen interest in pursuing justice relating to these matters have been made targets of these killings. It is likely that these killings will be followed by similar actions to others. The knowledge about these murders will also discourage victims and witnesses who want to narrate the human rights abuses they have suffered and to seek justice. The deadening silence imposed in such circumstances will obstruct all attempts to return to a normal situation of rule of law. Now with the intervention of the Supreme Court under the Chief Justice, Iftekhar Choudhry who has been reinstated by popular intervention. On the other hand the terror tactics adopted in this way will act to the advantage of the extremist elements who resort to terrorism

Source: A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: Fingers point at state intelligence agencies in the killings of three Baloch nationalist leaders

Serious Questions:

These are unbelievable things reminiscent of the dark ages of times of Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia. Overtly fascist posture has been adopted by Pakistani state. Serious questions arise both for Pakistani people and the International community. Pakistani people must realize that they live in a country whose state is anti-people, they have to seriously re-think their “patriotism”. International community must act to stop this. The people of western democracies must take their governments to courts and stop them from giving a single penny in hands of Pakistani oligarchy. By law states which use “torture” as a policy cannot get public funds. By doing so they will be helping people of Pakistan who are victims of a neo-fascist state apparatus.

People of Pakistan must act on their own to attain democracy and defeat this oligarchy which is committing such heinous crimes.

Credit : Latest Pictures from BBC URDU.Com with thanks

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