Dr Ahmad is a brilliant Pakistani academic trained in Australian National University and Kennedy School of Governance. She heads the South Asia chapter of International Crisis Group. She is a keen observer of Pakistani establishment and had repeatedly warned the world about Army’s support to the Islamic extremists. She brought General Musharraf’s double game to world’s attention. She repeatedly warned about the continuous support to Taliban and Al-Qaida by Pakistani establishment. She has focused on the “education policy” and “religious madrassas” as key contributors to spread of extremism. In 2005 at the height of General Musharraf’s golden rule of “enlightened moderation” she wrote in Washington Post an article which was named “Pakistan still schooling the extremists” in collaboration with Andrew Stroehlein. In that article she wrote something which now appear prophetic. She wrote:

“Musharraf’s promises came to nothing. His military government never implemented any program to register the madrasas, follow their financing or control their curricula. Although there are a few “model madrasas” for Western media consumption, the extremist ones account for perhaps as many as 15 percent of the religious schools in Pakistan and are free to churn out their radicalized graduates.

Whether or not it turns out to have been part of the London bombing story, Lashkar-i-Taiba is an excellent example of how Musharraf’s government has failed to curb extremist religious militants. Formed by Arab-influenced veterans of the Afghan jihad in 1988, the group enjoyed the military’s patronage in its jihad against India in Kashmir. Though formally banned in 2002, Lashkar-i-Taiba simply renamed itself Jamaat ul-Dawa and continued its activities, including the promotion of jihad in Kashmir, where it has openly claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks.

The organization’s leader, Hafiz Sayeed, was temporarily detained, but only under Pakistan’s Maintenance of Public Order legislation, not its much more stringent Anti-Terrorism Act, and he was soon released. Prominent figures from this and other formally banned groups such as Sipah-i-Sahaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed appear to enjoy virtual immunity from the law”

This was 2005. What has changed? The same LeT and Hafiz Saeed later attacked Mumbai. There was yet another banning and yet another temporary imprisonment . Lahore High Court released the monster to a Hero’s welcome. Today in Lahore , these people the same groups which Dr Ahmad has named have killed Mufti Dr Sarfaraz Naimi, the grand Sunni Mufti who was opposed to Taliban.

Now Dr Ahmad has spoken to France 24 and have pointed out an important fact, how Army can use Swat operation to increase its popularity. She has also boldly told the truth that Army still is controlling the political institutions. She says:

Of course, a significant part of the problem is that the army’s current operation is simply coming too late.

Rather than resolutely confronting the Taliban earlier, both military and civilian governments chose a worst-of-all-worlds policy, alternating the use of haphazard force with short-sighted appeasement deals with militants. This only strengthened the Taliban, making today’s fight many times more difficult than it would have been a few years ago.

The army’s use of heavy force, its failure to address the full cost to civilians and its refusal to allow effective humanitarian access to conflict zones have already been counter-productive.

Another danger is that the military will exploit any success on the battlefield and in its own relief efforts to try to dominate reconstruction to win public support and bolster its standing in the country.

Despite Pakistan’s transition to civilian rule in February 2008, the military continues to dominate key institutions, and it will take some time to tame its ambitions fully.

If Pakistan is going to emerge from this crisis a more stable country and a stronger democracy, all assistance efforts – relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction – have to be civilian-led. They must be responsive to the needs of local people and empower their communities. Beating radical Islamist groups and “the army” in the aid game is a key to winning this war”

The whole text of saving Pakistan can be reached here

Listen to Samina Ahmad , stop beating Army’s drum or else it will be too late

We are publishing here the analysis of Lahore attacks as “state crisis” of Pakistan. Our readers know that we have been persistent on our position that Islamic terrorism is a symptom of “organic decay” of the post-colonial and Neo-fascist state of Pakistan. We have always maintained a sharp distance from the elitist perspective in vogue in certain secular/ex-left quarters of Pakistan on war on terror which is nothing but a blind drum beating for United States imperialism. We have also been critical of “pro jamat and pro Sharif Left” who is blindly following the Petty-bourgeois and bourgeois agenda in Pakistan. This analysis by International Marxist Tendency is a must read by all progressive Pakistanis. Its one of the most important pieces of work which has emerged on the present situation in Pakistan.

Pakistani section of IMT also held its annual congress in Lahore which is the largest congress of communists in Pakistan. The advance theoretical work which has emerged from this congress is very encouraging. We render our solidarity to the revolutionaries of Pakistan.

Shaheryar Ali

Lahore Terrorist mayhem shows crisis of Pakistani state

IMT correspondent in Lahore

Monday, 30 March 2009

At half past eight this morning (March 30) terrorists used machine guns and grenades to launch a savage attack on a police training academy in Manawan, on the outskirts of Lahore. The police and special forces remain locked in pitched battle with the attackers who are hidden inside various buildings at the site, as emergency services are scrambling to evacuate the wounded to nearby hospitals.

Frictions are occuring between the two allies as the war in Afganistan intensifies. Photo by travlr on Flickr.
Frictions are occuring between the two allies as the war in Afganistan intensifies. Photo by travlr on Flickr.

According to private television channels at least 20 policemen are dead and 150 injured. Two militants have also been killed according to Rangers personnel. “The number of killed is at least 20,” police sub inspector Amjad Ahmad told AFP outside the police training ground in Manawan. However, given the murderous crossfire as police attempted to flush out the terrorists inside the building, the death count may turn out to be much higher.

The incident took place as trainees were participating in a morning parade. Eyewitness accounts estimate some 10 militants carried out the attack, and at least 11 explosions have been heard so far. According to reports, some of the attackers entered the academy wearing police uniforms.

The location of the attack is significant, since Manawan is close to the road that leads to the Indian border. Clearly, the implication is meant to be drawn that the hand of India is behind this latest outrage. In the same way, some sections here tried to pin the blame for the recent killings of Sri Lankan cricketers (also in Lahore) on India, allegedly as retaliation for the Mumbai atrocity.

However, there is a far more likely explanation, and it points an accusing finger at a source far nearer to home. Yesterday the Pakistan authorities conveyed their “concerns” through diplomatic channels over certain aspects of the new policy for the region announced by President Barack Obama on Friday.

“We will speak to them (the United States) on issues of concern in subsequent diplomatic negotiations,” the President’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar told the Dawn on Saturday. A similar impression was given by senior officials of the foreign office, who said the concerns would not go unnoticed and would be taken up at an “appropriate level”.

What did Obama announce that so worries Islamabad? The US President announced several incentives, including an increase in aid to Pakistan, the passage of legislation on the reconstruction opportunity zones and a commitment to democracy in the country, but at the same time he was quite ominous in his tone when he categorically said that there would be no “blank cheques” for Pakistan.

What does this mean? It means that, although Washington sees Pakistan as a vital piece in its strategy to fight the “war on terror” in Afghanistan, it is becoming increasingly frustrated at the ambiguous role of the Pakistan authorities and in particular the role of the Pakistan secret services (the ISI), a shadowy state within a state, which is well known to have close links with al Qaeda and the Taliban and is secretly protecting and encouraging terrorist organizations for its own sinister purposes.

The response of the Pakistan foreign office was guarded because this is an explosive issue and one that lies at the heart of the crisis in the Pakistan state. Sources in the foreign office stated: “There are pretty big problems in the policy about which our leadership is not speaking.” They have good reason to keep silent!

American frustration was shown by recent declarations by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who urged Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service to cut contacts with extremists in Afghanistan, which he called an “existential threat” to Pakistan itself. Gates was merely saying what everybody has always known: that Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence has had links with jihadi terrorist groups “for a long time, as a hedge against what might happen in Afghanistan if we were to walk away or whatever,” as he told Fox News Sunday.

“What we need to do is try and help the Pakistanis understand these groups are now an existential threat to them and we will be there as a steadfast ally for Pakistan,” Gates said. “They can count on us and they don’t need that hedge,” he said, citing the ISI’s links specifically to the Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani militant network and to the forces of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

The Pentagon chief’s comments came after President Barack Obama on Friday put Pakistan at the centre of the fight against al Qaeda with a new strategy to commit thousands more troops and billions of dollars to the Afghan war.

“He clearly understands this is a very tough fight and that we’re in it until we’re successful, that al Qaeda is no longer a threat to the United States and that we are in no danger of either Afghanistan or the western part of Pakistan being a base for Al Qaeda,” Gates added.

America is losing in Afghanistan

It is now an open secret that the war in Afghanistan is going badly. Western casualties are constantly rising. Obama is trying to extricate the US forces from Iraq in order to reinforce the US military presence in Afghanistan. Asked about a New York Times report that US military commanders had pressed Obama for even more troops, the defense secretary said: “The president has approved every single soldier that I have requested of him. […] And the reality is there already are a lot of troops there. This will bring us, when all is said and done, to 68,000 troops plus another 35,000 or so Europeans and other partners.”

Obama is now exerting intense pressure to extract more troops from its unwilling European allies. Washington is also demanding more civilian experts and police trainers. But no matter how many troops are sent to Afghanistan, the likelihood of victory remains a mirage. With every bomb dropped on an Afghan village the hatred of the foreign invader grows more intense. The government of Kabul is seen as a puppet government of collaborators and corrupt gangsters. On the other hand, the Taliban have an endless supply of recruits from Pakistan, plenty of money from opium smuggling and secure havens in the tribal areas across the border with Pakistan.

This explains the public attacks on the ISI from Washington, which have provoked angry denials from the Pakistan State Security. The fact is that the ISI was actively encouraged by Washington to support al Qaeda and the Taliban in the past, when these reactionary bandits were used to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan. This encouraged sections in the tops of the Pakistan army (and especially the ISI) in the belief that they would have a free hand in Afghanistan, which, in effect, would be under Pakistan’s control. They developed the notorious theory of “defence in depth”, which meant that Afghanistan would serve Pakistan as a kind of fallback position in the event of another war with India (a subject these elements are constantly obsessed with).

Ever since the US imperialists have changed the line and declared war on their former allies, al Qaeda and the Taliban, the ISI and other reactionary elements in the Pakistan General Staff have not concealed their displeasure. They have never abandoned the theory of “defence in depth”, nor their ambitions in Afghanistan. They have never broken their links with al Qaeda and the Taliban, which are not motivated by religious fanaticism, but rather the fanaticism to get rich by dirty means.

As Pakistan’s economy collapses and the masses are faced with poverty and hunger, prominent citizens of Pakistan are growing fabulously rich on the proceeds of the black economy, especially the lucrative drug trade. The so-called Islamic fundamentalists are really gangsters and lumpens, linked to the drug mafia and transport mafia that trades in human misery. This is big business on a vast scale, which involves massive corruption that leads all the way up to the top – including the tops of the army. This is the cancer that is gnawing at the entrails of the Pakistan state and destroying it slowly from within. That is why Gates talks about an “existential problem”.

A few months ago, a Pakistani general, Ameer Faisal Alvi, a serving officer in the Pakistan army’s campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Tribal Areas of Waziristan, and head of the elite Special Services Group (Commandos), sent a letter to the Chief of Staff, general Pervaiz Ashraf Kayani, denouncing the fact that generals of the Pakistan army were actively collaborating with al Qaeda and the Taliban. As a result, he was dismissed from the army. After this, he sent another letter to the Chief of Staff, in which he named the generals concerned. It was an act of personal bravery for which he paid a high price. On November 26, 2008 he was murdered in broad daylight on the streets of Islamabad.

Splits in the state

This explains why the rulers of Pakistan are afraid to talk about certain matters. The rottenness of Pakistan capitalism has extended to the highest levels of the state, army and government, to the extent that it threatens complete breakdown. Last week a US think tank predicted that if something were not done soon, the state could break down in six months! All these events are a striking confirmation of the Marxist analysis of the state that was put forward in the recent congress of The Struggle.

The murder of Benazir Bhutto was an indication of the sinister forces at work in Pakistani society. The western media falsely portray this as the rise of “Islamic fundamentalism”, when in reality these terrorist organizations are small minority groups composed of lumpens and bandits manipulated by the powerful drug mafia and the state. Although it was a lumpen fanatic who pulled the trigger, the real murderers of Benazir Bhutto were the ISI. There is no doubt that the same people were behind the Mumbai atrocity and the killing of the Sri Lanka cricketers. And there is no doubt that the same invisible hand is behind today’s bloody events, which are meant as an answer to the threat from Washington.

The idea that the fundamentalists enjoy massive support in Pakistan society is a blatant lie and a slander against the people of Pakistan. These reactionary gangs were originally created by US imperialism under the brutal Zia dictatorship and were nurtured, financed, armed and trained by the Pakistan state. Without the backing of the ISI they are nothing. That is why the US imperialists are now demanding that the Pakistan government take action against the ISI.

This is very easy to say from the safety of an air-conditioned office in Washington, but not so easy to put into practice on the streets of Islamabad. The ISI is entrenched after decades of a pampered and privileged existence. It is linked by a thousand links with corrupt government officials and politicians at the highest level, to organized crime on a grand scale, to the drug and transport mafia, to the religious fanatics in the madrassas that turn out brainwashed fanatics prepared to act as the murderous instruments of reaction, and to the murky underworld of jihadi terrorism.

Another section of the state has different interests. They are in the pockets of US imperialism, whose interests they serve like a dog licking the hand of its master. They bow and scrape before their bosses in Washington, who treat Pakistan as if it were America’s backyard. The conflict at the heart of these two antagonistic wings of the ruling class is explained by antagonistic material interests.

As far as the working class of Pakistan is concerned, there is nothing to choose between these two rival groups of gangsters. The Pakistan Marxists will fight US imperialism and oppose its criminal actions in Afghanistan, Waziristan and Pukhtunkhwa. But we will do so with our own methods and under our own banner, which is not the black flag of fundamentalist reaction but the red flag of socialist revolution.

Only by taking power into their own hands can the working class overthrow the rotten, diseased state of the exploiters and build a new state – a democratic workers’ state in which the lives and destinies of the people will be determined by the masses themselves. That is the only way forward to lead Pakistan out of the present nightmare and into the realm of socialism and freedom.

Lahore, March 30, 2009

Shaheryar Ali

Danny Boyle’s movie “Slumdog Millionaire” has taken the world by storm. Based on a novel by the Indian diplomat and author Vikas Swarup the movie tells the story of a poor slum dweller of Mumbai who is contestant on the Indian version of “Who wants to be Millionaire”. The movie was a huge success and was able to bag 8 Academy Awards.

Poster

Poster

The mood in India is nothing less than ecstasy, merging with the new obsession of Indian ruling and middle classes about “Shining India”.

For more than a decade now India is in the grip of free market economy and its lustrous attempt of building an “Indian dream”, India the great democracy, the greatest country in the world, where poorest of the poor are also happy singing and dancing on the streets. Most of it is a cruel illusion, the recent capitalization of India is very patchy and un even. Only parts of India have seen this free market boom. Most of the India has remained un touched. The Indian peasants are worse affected and the suicide rate has hit new heights Emergence of fascism has become a real threat in India, the slow degeneration of Congress party has resulted in popularization of Hindu nationalists who are out right communalist. Worse are the “New Liberals” who pro claim to be secular but subscribe to a virulent Hindutva ideology. They are rabidly anti-left consider them “pseudo secularist” but fail to see themselves who are just “Jeans clad” version of RSS.

The attitude in general Indian intelligentsia has been to hide these contradictions under carpet and glorify them. Without addressing the material base of these contradictions , a metaphysical blanket is put on the un desirable side, thus the slum become some thing of an “ideal” living place, the poor happy in their life and communalism just work of an evil anti social gunda.

Roy's poster

Roy's poster

While every one is busy partying on success of Slumdog Millionaire, we are providing an alternative view. This blog has always made sure that it gives voice to the suppressed opinion. .Arundhati Roy , the famous writer, anti globalization and anti-imperialist political activist has emerged as a conscience of India. A fierce critic of Indian ruling classes and established opinion, she spoke about the objectionable side of the movie

“People are selling India’s poverty big time both in literature and films. As they say, there is lots of money in poverty today. I am not against showing slums, but depicting them in a depoliticised manner, as has been done in the film, is quite unfortunate. Films do not show the real poor. Even if they are depicted, it’s not the true picture. The real poor are not shown in films because they are not attractive. Poverty sells but the poor do not. The film gives false hope to the poor that they too could become millionaires one day” The whole reaction can be seen here

Miss Roy wrote a wonderful critique of the movie for Dawn, the largest English newspaper of Pakistan. It was called India not shining”. She writes:

“The debate around the film has been framed – and this helps the film in its multi-million-dollar promotion drive – in absurd terms. On the one hand we have the old ‘patriots’ parroting the line that “it doesn’t show India in a Proper Light’ (by now, even they’ve been won over thanks to the Viagra of success). On the other hand, there are those who say that Slumdog is a brave film that is not scared to plum the depths of India ‘not-shining’.

Slumdog Millionaire does not puncture the myth of ‘India shining’— far from it. It just turns India ‘not-shining’ into another glitzy item in the supermarket. As a film, it has none of the panache, the politics, the texture, the humour, and the confidence that both the director and the writer bring to their other work. It really doesn’t deserve the passion and attention we are lavishing on it. It’s a silly screenplay and the dialogue was embarrassing, which surprised me because I loved The Full Monty (written by the same script writer). The stockpiling of standard, clichéd, horrors in Slumdog are, I think, meant to be a sort of version of Alice in Wonderland – ‘Jamal in Horrorland’. It doesn’t work except to trivialize what really goes on here. The villains who kidnap and maim children and sell them into brothels reminded me of Glenn Close in 101 Dalmatians”

On the political side of the movie she comments:

arundhati_roy“Politically, the film de-contextualises poverty – by making poverty an epic prop, it disassociates poverty from the poor. It makes India’s poverty a landscape, like a desert or a mountain range, an exotic beach, god-given, not man-made. So while the camera swoops around in it lovingly, the filmmakers are more picky about the creatures that
inhabit this landscape.

To have cast a poor man and a poor girl, who looked remotely as though they had grown up in the slums, battered, malnutritioned, marked by what they’d been through, wouldn’t have been attractive enough. So they cast an Indian model and a British boy. The torture scene in the cop station was insulting. The cultural confidence emanating from the obviously British ’slumdog’ completely cowed the obviously Indian cop, even though the cop was supposedly torturing the slumdog. The brown skin that two share is too thin to hide a lot of other things that push through it. It wasn’t a case of bad acting – it was a case of the PH balance being wrong. It was like watching black kids in a Chicago slum speaking in Yale accents”

The whole article can be reached here

A fellow blogger from Pakistan, Freethinker has subjected Slumdog Millionaire to very good “gender critique”. He deconstructs the “Hero Narrativity” and examines Slumdog Millionaire against these dominant discourses of Hero and Masculinity. He writes:

It’s important to identify the mythical structure in the plots of both the movies which serves to build the hero narrative. Once the hero and the struggle have been identified, both movies establish the hero as the winner through leaps of logic that are more characteristic of myth than fiction.—————- But watching Sd M critically, asking how the protagonist has efficient reading skills without tutoring, or how all the questions asked on the game are linked to the most dramatic experiences of the protagonist’s life, brings home the mythical structure that serves to complete the hero narrative”

And:

The narratives are also concerned with the hero’s masculinity. The happy endings themselves establish a definition of the masculine as the winner who ‘takes it all’. This is why in Sd M, it is not enough that the protagonist just resolves the central conflict of the plot, that is, his separation from his beloved. In the end, through strokes of luck that sacrifice the story’s plausibility, he not only has love but also wins fame and money.—- The hero’s masculinity is established in other ways as well.———- A different but more traditional approach to this same end is seen in Sl M, in which the hero of the narrative saves the archetypal ‘damsel in distress’. The hero here represents more the anguished warrior who, as he comes of age, gets to reclaim his manhood by getting back his childhood sweetheart and becoming the winner”

This is a very advance critique rooted in firm theoretical foundation, especially his formulation of concept of “emasculation of the collective”. The whole article can be reached here.

Shaheryar Ali

Today in Lahore the Sri Lankan cricket team was ambushed by a dozen or so Jihadi terrorists. Pakistan TV showed footage of gunmen with rifles and back packs running in the streets of Lahore and firing indiscriminately. The Jihadis were armed with AK 47, hand grenades, rockets and rocket launchers.

The convoy was ambushed as it slowed down at a traffic circle near Lahore’s Qadafi Stadium. The Sri lankan sports minister stated that 5 players and their coach were injured in the attack. All of them remain out of danger. Spokesman for Punjab police acknowledged death of 5 police men in the attack.

Lahore attacks

Lahore attacks

It has also been reported that the Jihadis threw a grenade under the bus which fortunately failed to detonate otherwise the guest team would have been blown up. The Lahore attack in its operative mechanics looks remarkably similar to Mumbai attacks. The terrorists looked much trained. Those who have studied these attacks in detail can tell that it had the signature marks of LeT. The ISI controlled Wahabi group based in Muridkay Punjab.

The administrative head of the Punjab Governor Salman Taseer stated, “One thing I want to say, it’s the same pattern, the same terrorists who attacked Mumbai”. While the governor is saying what’s obvious but it’s not that simple. Who were the real attackers of Mumbai? , Governor Taseer knows better than what he has publicly stated. LeT is an ISI proxy; it was made, trained and funded by Pakistani agencies. When Pakistan joined United State’s War on Terror, LeT was protected from United States assaults by banning it and allowing it to operate with another name “Jammatuddawa”. When Mumbai attacks took place, it was clearly visible who was responsible for these attacks, the facts spoke for them but Pakistani establishment adopted a policy of denial.

Carnage

Carnage

We than wrote on this politics of denial and how it has resulted in the current crisis of Pakistan. We were abused and ridiculed not only by Islamists but also by the pseudo-secular self proclaimed vanguards of Pakistani patriotism. We had written than that the democratic regime of Pakistan is a virtual hostage of Pakistani establishment, which does these sorts of acts to increase pressure on it. A virulent anti-India line was taken under cloak of supporting the “democratic Pakistani regime”. In our article Pakistan at cross-roads: Democracy, Terror and Politics of Denial”, we had written:

“With a country in democratic transition, we often forget that policies of post-colonial states especially those like Pakistan which had taken Neo-fascist turn some time in their history [Zia era], cannot be reversed in few months. It needs a structural reform within the state itself. With a few months of PPP-ANP coalition such a structural reform has not yet occurred. Attempts to do such reform have been severely criticized by dominant classes in Pakistan and hence have to be abandoned. Attempts by PPP to bring ISI under political control were converted into a scandal by corporate media and its allies. Similar campaign is going on with the Pakhtoonkhawa issue where Right wing has openly come up in arms against government. These two issues represent the core issues when it comes to challenge the oligarchy. ISI has been blamed by almost all political forces in Pakistan for its attempts to control democracy and for spreading Jihad———In all this patriotic discourse, what we are forgetting is that it’s Pakistan not India which has more at stake. The first victim of this sort of patriotism, which subscribes to values of Oligarchy and its State and not to the values of people, will be democracy in Pakistan and this time the state, may not recover from its consequences. When Mr Manmohan Singh talks about “certain elements within Pakistan” being responsible for the attacks we are fast to condemn it. But are we that naive or suffering from collective amnesia. Have we forgotten that our agencies along with CIA supported insurgency in a country against a government which we recognized as legal government and had diplomatic ties with? For all the period of Afghan Jihad, our government at all international forums shamelessly maintained that Pakistan is “not interfering” in Afghanistan and our support is strictly moral and humanitarian in nature. Then any one who tried to warn oligarchy against it was termed as a “soviet agent” or “RAW agent”. Did our denial do us any good?—— Most of these organizations were allowed to operate by different names in General Musharraf’s time but were they were destroyed? Have Mureedke and Mansoora been shut down? Hafiz Saeed and Molana Masood Azhar serving time in prisons?” The article can be reached here

When I wrote this article most self proclaimed secularists were busy lecturing India and mocking Ajmal Kasab’s story, such was their contempt and self righteousness that they couldn’t find “Faridkot” on map of Pakistan. Within the few days Faridkot was on world’s map and lies of Pakistani establishment and so called patriots became a joke in International politics. Now Steve Cole, the Pulitzer Prize winner and famous investigative journalist has written an article in the prestigious New Yorker magazine. The article basically is about the “back channel” diplomacy between India and Pakistan which resulted in a near settlement of Kashmir dispute during General Musharraf. This brilliant expose confirms the position which we have long been taking that Pakistani establishment and ISI is using terrorism for gaining certain political and strategic objectives. One such objective is to weaken Peoples Party-ANP government. Cole in his article confirms what we wrote about mistrust between PPP government and ISI and also about it involvement in Mumbai attacks

“The historical ties between Lashkar and the Pakistani security services are for the most part undisputed; one book that describes them, published in 2005 and entitled “Between Mosque and Military,” was written by Husain Haqqani, who is currently Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States.——— On July 7th, a suicide bomber rammed a car loaded with explosives into the gates of India’s Embassy in Kabul, killing fifty-four people, including the Indian defense attaché. The United States intercepted communications between active I.S.I. personnel and the Taliban-aligned network of Jalaluddin Haqqani, which is believed by U.S. military and intelligence officials to have carried out the Kabul Embassy attack. Haqqani has a long history of collaboration and contact with the I.S.I.; he was also a paid client of the Central Intelligence Agency during the late nineteen-eighties—-Pakistan’s new civilian President, Asif Zardari, had entered into his own struggle with those in the Pakistani security services who favor the jihadis and covert war against India. Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party has fought the Army for power since the late nineteen-seventies; neither institution fully trusts the other, although they have sometimes collaborated. (Some P.P.P. officials believe that the I.S.I. may have been involved in Benazir Bhutto’s murder.)Last May, Zardari tried to assert civilian control over the I.S.I. by placing it under the authority of the Interior Ministry; the Army rejected this order, and Zardari backed down. In November, speaking extemporaneously by video at a conference in New Delhi, Zardari declared that Pakistan might be willing to follow a policy of “no first use” of its nuclear weapons, a remarkable departure from past Pakistan Army doctrine. Privately, in discussions with Indian officials, Zardari affirmed his interest in picking up the back-channel negotiations . Some Indian officials and analysts interpreted Mumbai as a kind of warning from the I.S.I. to Zardari—“Zardari’s Kargil,” as some Indians put it, meaning that it was a deliberate effort by the Pakistan Army to disrupt Zardari’s peace overtures. Several Pakistani and American officials told me that Zardari is now deeply worried about his personal security”

Steve Cole, the Back Channel, New Yorker March 2009

What has to be understood that in the final year of General Musharraf , even the “cosmetic anti terror” acts became unacceptable for Islamist section of Pakistani establishment which started open revolt [series of suicide attacks on Army and certain agencies ] and started supporting anti Mush political agitation. The lawyer’s movement which started as a non political, secular protest against dictatorship was linked with Right Wing. Now this cooption is complete. The Islamist section of establishment wants PPP out and restores the glorious Islamic jihadi era of Zia and his political son Sharif. Now let’s come to Lahore attacks. I agree with Taseer that it was done by those who attacked Mumbai, though he just like Hussein Haqani cannot explain this “who”. Punjab was a safe heaven for Taliban during Shahbaz Sharif ministry who was slowly Islamizing the province; He had turned a blind eye to Talibanization in southern Punjab, Lahore and other areas. Punjab police acted 24 hours later to implementation of United Nation’s resolution of banning Jamat-ud-Dawa [front of LeT], the result was Jihadies evacuated their offices in comfort and took all the record with them. The Supreme Court’s decision ended SS’s control over Punjab. The right wing political alliance and its masters in Pakistani establishment were and are hoping to topple Zardari regime in this unrest. Unfortunately for them, PML-N failed miserably to get public support. Their agitation was limited to 3 cities in central Punjab and even there it took shape of mob violence. The call of general strike failed. Streets went silent on 2nd day and PPP was able to mobilize its workers all over the country to protest on desecration of Benazir Bhutto’s monument in Rawalpindi. Even in Lahore which is considered hub of Sharifs PPP was able to conduct a big rally. Millions were mobilized in Karachi by MQM against PML-N. Mr Shaif couldn’t bring 1/4th of this crowd in Lahore. In Saraiki Multan and Baluch Quetta , PML-N armed goons had to run away due to clashes with PPP.

With the failure of political agitation and expected failure of long march due to strong arm administrative tactics of Governor Taseer , it became critical for certain invisibles to create unrest and the good old Jihadis did the trick. Weather its LeT or some other new name, the hands behind them is same. There should be no doubt about the motives of Lahore attacks and on its responsibility after listening to Ansar Abbasai’s attacks on Salman Taseer’s administrative failure and SS’s warning about possible “RAW attacks in Lahore. Now a rightwing and their secular patriotic counterparts will start a violent attack against India. This will further marginalize Peoples Party’s regime which will give in more to establishment’s demands. More chaos will be created and our beloved Qazi Hussein Ahmad and Nawaz Sharif both supporters of Sharia and Jihad will come to power. But I warn again that Pakistani state is so much over stretched due to organic decay and war between its different faction that it can no longer sustain this stress. Zardari may fall but Pakistan will not remain standing.

PS: With Lahore attacks every conscientious Pakistani should hold Jihadi sympathizer Imran Khan accountable for deliberately confusing the cricketing world and Pakistan by downplaying the issue of terrorism. Mr Khan declared that terrorists will not attack cricketers, Mr Khan I can just say “Shame on you”.

Shaheryar Ali

Years back when Hindu fascists demolished the historic Babri mosque, many headlines in the Indian press next day were some thing like “A day of National Humiliation”. The Indian media which every one these days in Pakistan seem to be lecturing on “ethics”,” professionalism”, “peace” etc. This was a true act of patriotism on part of India’s media. They were identifying a great distortion which was emerging in India’s secular democracy, the communal fascism which had the potential to destroy the Indian democracy. No concept of democracy is possible without “critical thought”, it’s the criticism which helps democracy evolve and flourish. All prejudices were once laws enshrined in the constitutions. Most of them represented the “national interests” of the states. Colonialism was one such thing, Slavery was another. Individuals challenged their states, faced persecutions and torture but they brought about a change. The societies which become totally non critical about their rulers and elites perish. As the Bombay tragedy unfolded, Pakistani media, state, political parties and even some liberal and ex progressives adopted a line which consisted of criticism of Indian press, media and government. A policy of continuous denial was adopted, in name of patriotism, in name of “support” of the democratic regime, in name of “peace”. What was forgotten was that India and Pakistani democratic regime effectively are hostages of the same enemy. Benazir Bhutto was shot dead by the same elements on which India is pointing fingers too, whose existence we were denying.

When the Indian government declared to the world that the attackers came from Pakistan, it was dismissed as “India’s obsession with Pakistan”, we were reminded by our Liberal Intellectuals that “Indians must stop blaming Pakistan for their own policy mistakes, India has 17 insurgencies”.  When India issued details of the terrorist Ajmal Kasab, it was turned into a “joke” by our press, leaders and intellectuals. First we were told “there is no FaridKot” in Pakistan, FareedKot is in Bangladesh” [Daily Jang]. This was too stupid so than we discovered geographical remoteness of FaridKot, some of our great Liberals couldn’t find Faridkot on map, it was mocked. No terrorist factory was discovered at Faridkot. It was a small village where no one has went on Jihad [Daily Jang]. Just like in Kargil when we refused to accept corpses of our dead soldiers, we refused to accept Ajmal Kasab. When some of us were trying to remind Pakistan, about the dangers of politics of denial, fatwas of ideological fanaticism were issued against us. Our government kept denying and United Nations Security Council banned Jammat ut dawa. We raided on all the offices which were denying. Where all these offices in Karachi, Multan, and Lahore did now came from?? RAW planted them over night or was it the work of Mossad?? Even China refused to block the move [A thing which she has done twice before]. If the epicenter of Mumbai attacks didn’t existed in Pakistan as India suggested and on which our blood boiled so fast why we are arresting innocent people than??

The most embarrassing development was the expose published by Dawn today, which now proves that the Terrorist infect is Pakistani from the same Faridkot which we couldn’t find on our map. His father identified him. Now what credibility do  our press, intellectuals, leaders, and government have? Who will now believe on us? Rehman Malik even today said he “wants proofs” from India. What proof is he looking for?

It’s a day of a national humiliation for us. Ajmal Kasab is a Pakistani from Faridkot a fact we kept on denying at every level. But will we learn but alas ‘we still need proof”.

Daily Dawn must be congratulated for this true act of resistance. It has made us all proud they have shown us the cancer which we keep denying. I will not be surprised if the story is retracted, the pressure of state is immense but Truth has come out. Dawn has done a great service to Pakistan, an act of genuine patriotism. Now we must act, not like as we did yesterday when 24 hour notice was given to Jamatuddawa activists to leave their offices along with the record. The police was waiting for “written orders” before they started the crack down. Neither should we act by making Hafiz Saeed a hero as we did showing his press conference and than detaining him in luxury of his home.  Perhaps now Liberal patriots will find the geographical location of FaridKot and will discover it is a recruiting ground for L e T and that FaridKot is not that “remote” either. Its time to clean our house!! Its time to accept and seek foregiveness.

Crackdown hints at Faridkot-Mumbai link

Dawn Special Report


KARACHI, Dec 11: The targeting of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaatud Dawa and the rounding up of the activists belonging to the two jihadi organisations appear to have been triggered by information originating in India following the capture of one of the 10 men who attacked several targets in Mumbai towards the end of last month.

During the course of Dawn’s own investigations last week our reporters were able to locate a family who claimed to be the kin of the arrested young man in Mumbai.

The sole survivor among the 10 attackers was named as Ajmal Kasab and was supposed to belong to the village Faridkot in the Punjab. Media organisations such as the BBC and now the British newspaper Observer have done reports trying to ascertain the veracity of claims appearing in the media that the young man had a home there.

On Friday last, the BBC reported unusual activity in Faridkot near Deepalpur. A BBC correspondent located a house in the village, the then inhabitants of which carried the surname of Kasab (or Qasab as the word is often spelt here). But the residents denied any link with either Ajmal or with any Amir Kasab, the name of Ajmal’s father as reported by some of the media.

At the weekend, the Observer in England claimed that it had managed to locate the house everyone was looking for so desperately. Its correspondent said he had got hold of the voters’ roll which had the names of Amir Kasab and his wife, identified as Noor, as well as the numbers on the identity cards the couple carried.

Even though the news stories by both BBC and the Observer made a mention of the LeT, some television channels in Pakistan suggested that a connection between Mumbai and Faridkot could not be established beyond a shadow of doubt.

However, the man who said he was Amir Kasab confirmed to Dawn that the young man whose face had been beamed over the media was his son.

For the next few minutes, the fifty-something man of medium build agonized over the reality that took time sinking in, amid sobs complaining about the raw deal the fate had given him and his family.

“I was in denial for the first couple of days, saying to myself it could not have been my son,” he told Dawn in the courtyard of his house in Faridkot, a village of about 2,500 people just a few kilometres from Deepalpur on the way to Kasur. “Now I have accepted it.

“This is the truth. I have seen the picture in the newspaper. This is my son Ajmal.”

Variously addressed as Azam, Iman, Kamal and Kasav, the young man, apparently in his 20s, is being kept in custody at an undisclosed place in Mumbai.

Indian media reports ‘based on intelligence sources’ said the man was said to be a former Faridkot resident who left home a frustrated teenager about four years ago and went to Lahore.

After his brush with crime and criminals in Lahore, he is said to have run into and joined a religious group during a visit to Rawalpindi.

Along with others, claimed the Indian media, he was trained in fighting. And after a crash course in navigation, said Amir Kasab, a father of three sons and two daughters, Ajmal disappeared from home four years ago.

“He had asked me for new clothes on Eid that I couldn’t provide him. He got angry and left.”

While Amir was talking, Ajmal’s two “sisters and a younger brother” were lurking about. To Amir’s right, on a nearby charpoy, sat their mother, wrapped in a chador and in a world of her own. Her trance was broken as the small picture of Ajmal lying in a Mumbai hospital was shown around. They appeared to have identified their son. The mother shrunk back in her chador but the father said he had no problem in talking about the subject.

Amir Kasab said he had settled in Faridkot after arriving from the nearby Haveli Lakha many years ago. He owned the house and made his earnings by selling pakoras in the streets of the village.

He modestly pointed to a hand-cart in one corner of the courtyard. “This is all I have. I shifted back to the village after doing the same job in Lahore.

“My eldest son, Afzal, is also back after a stint in Lahore. He is out working in the fields.”

Faridkot is far from the urbanites’ idea of a remote village. It is located right off a busy road and bears all the characteristics of a lower-middle class locality in a big city.

It has two middle-level schools, one for girls and the other for boys which Ajmal attended as a young boy. For higher standards, the students have to enroll in schools in Deepalpur which is not as far off as the word remote tends to indicate.

It by no means qualifies as Punjab’s backwaters, which makes the young Ajmal’s graduation to an international “fearmonger” even more difficult to understand. The area can do with cleaner streets and a better sewage system but the brick houses towards the side of the Kasur-Deepalpur road have a more organised look to them than is the case with most Pakistani villages.

The Observer newspaper reports that some locals seeking anonymity say the area is a hunting ground for the recruiters of LeT and provides the organisation with rich pickings.

The approach to Faridkot also points to at least some opportunities for those looking for a job. There are some factories in the surroundings, rice mills et al, interspersed with fertile land. But for the gravity of the situation, with its mellowed and welcoming ambience, the picture could be serene.

It is not and Amir Kasab repeats how little role he has had in the scheme since the day his son walked out on him. He calls the people who snatched Ajmal from him his enemies but has no clue who these enemies are. Asked why he didn’t look for his son all this while, he counters: “What could I do with the few resources that I had?”

Otherwise quite forthcoming in his answers, Amir Kasab, a mild-mannered soul, is a bit agitated at the mention of the link between his son’s actions and money. Indian media has claimed that Ajmal’s handlers had promised him that his family will be compensated with Rs150,000 (one and a half lakh) after the completion of the Mumbai mission.

“I don’t sell my sons,” he retorts.

Journalists visiting Faridkot since Dawn reporters were at the village say the family has moved from their home and some relatives now live in the house. Perhaps fearing a media invasion, nobody is willing to say where the family has gone.

Thanks Daily Dawn : Founded by  M.A. Jinnah

Shaheryar Ali

Pakistan is not a democracy; it’s a country in democratic transition. After a long military rule, the oligarchy which has been ruling this country since day one has agreed to share some power with politicians. This arrangement is being hailed as “democracy” in Pakistan and which is also being blamed for every thing, from incompetence to corruption, two of the most frequently used charges which have been used by oligarchy to take power directly in their hands. Whilst corporatization of media is being hailed as “freedom of media”, aestheticization of radicalism is going on, the anti-establishment slogans of democratic forces are being converted into mantras chanted by every one from Jamate Islami to General Hameed Gul, and no one bothers to understand what the values of oligarchy were and what the values of democratic forces in Pakistan were.

With a country in democratic transition, we often forget that policies of post-colonial states especially those like Pakistan which had taken Neo-fascist turn some time in their history [Zia era], cannot be reversed in few months. It needs a structural reform within the state itself. With a few months of PPP-ANP coalition such a structural reform has not yet occurred. Attempts to do such reform have been severely criticized by dominant classes in Pakistan and hence have to be abandoned. Attempts by PPP to bring ISI under political control were converted into a scandal by corporate media and its allies. Similar campaign is going on with the Pakhtoonkhawa issue where Right wing has openly come up in arms against government. These two issues represent the core issues when it comes to challenge the oligarchy. ISI has been blamed by almost all political forces in Pakistan for its attempts to control democracy and for spreading Jihad. [Jamate Islami and PML-N joined this anti-ISI campaign during Musharraf era, once he has gone both of them have again joined the so called “patriotic camp” as opposed to Socialists and Nationalists who were historically considered Indian agents and security risks].

Mumbai attacks have once again exposed this paradox in Pakistan. In the name of Patriotism, public opinion in Pakistan is again being mobilized in favor of certain values of oligarchy. Every where we are listening to media , liberal and right wing  intellectuals condemning “blame game” and “India’s knee jerk reaction” against Pakistan. We are being reminded of the geographical remoteness of Fareed Kot and other “holes” in Indian propaganda. In all this patriotic discourse, what we are forgetting is that it’s Pakistan not India which has more at stake. The first victim of this sort of patriotism, which subscribes to values of Oligarchy and its State and not to the values of people, will be democracy in Pakistan and this time the state may not recover from its consequences. When Mr Manmohan Singh talks about “certain elements within Pakistan” being responsible for the attacks we are fast to condemn it. But are we that naive or suffering from collective amnesia. Have we forgotten that our agencies along with CIA supported insurgency in a country against a government which we recognized as legal government and had diplomatic ties with. For all the period of Afghan Jihad, our government at all international forums shamelessly maintained that Pakistan is “not interfering” in Afghanistan and our support is strictly moral and humanitarian in nature. Then any one who tried to warn oligarchy against it was termed as a “soviet agent” or “RAW agent”.
Did our denial do us any good? Today we are facing the consequences of our denials. The holy warriors we created with help of USA are now the greatest security threat our nation has ever faced.
Now lets come to India, we for the last 50 years or more are saying again and again at every international and national forum that Pakistan’s support to Kashmiri cause is “strictly moral, political and humanitarian”. Who are we trying to fool? India, the world or our selves? Have we not seen in our colleges and universities “Kashmir chalo” and “Jihad e Kashmir” programmes of Jamate Islami  and  Lashker e Toiba etc. Have we forgotten the money boxes at our departmental stores to fund “Kashmir Jihad”. Or have we forgotten the slogans of “ Sabilina Sabilina Al-Jihad Al-Jihad”. Have we forgotten the press conferences of Sallahuhdin of Hizab ul Mujaideen. Have we forgotten the CDs and DVDs of Kashmiri mujahideen , the messages of mothers that “if I had another son ill send him to Kashmir as well”. Was all this very far back? Most of these organizations were allowed to operate by different names in General Musharraf’s time but were they were destroyed? Have Mureedke and Mansoora been shut down? Hafiz Saeed and Molana Masood Azhar serving time in prisons?.

Have we forgotten Kargil as well? Didn’t it happen when Pakistan had a “democratic government.” Isn’t it a fact that the then Prime minister who was chief executive of Pakistan , with far more powers than PM Gilani, to this  day maintains that he was “not aware” of this operation at all. Have we forgotten as well that once again we maintained that those at the Kargil peaks were “Mujahideen” fighting Indian occupation, and than we accepted it was our regular Army troops and we had the audacity of giving our martyrs “Nishan e Haider”, those very officers whose corpses we were reluctant to accept a few days back. Have we forgotten all that? Have we forgotten that Right wing till few days back was calling to hang General Musharraf, for Kargil operation? So what great revolutionary reform Pakistan has done in her security establishment that they are now completely following political authority? What have been done to counter the Fatwas telling us about the great gifts in paradise for engaging in “Ghizwa e Hind”. Have some of our political parties and patriotic generals offered Toba for their ambition of putting “green flag” of Red Fort. Have we really forgotten all this?

Our great patriots through out 1990s kept vehemently denying reports in Indian and United States press regarding nuclear proliferation. We also kept denouncing Pervez Hoodbhoy , Munno Bhai and others who pointed fingers at Dr AQ Khan. Then one day whole world knew. Did our denials help? We had to bring “Mohsin e Pakistan” on TV to confess to his crimes. Now our patriots want us to believe that “only AQ Khan” was involved. Iqbal’s Merd e Momin use to load tonnes of equipment himself on planes and than use to fly it himself. Have we ever looked at our denials?
With this track record is it fair to blame India for a “knee jerk reaction”?

If we don’t have such “elements” in Pakistan, who are we fighting in FATA? Who are we fighting in Swat? If Pakistan does not have such elements then who is blowing these bombs in Pakistan? Or have Osama Bin Ladin, Bait ullah Mehsood and Mullah Omar signed a decree that India is not their target? Or have they declared Kashmiri Jihad invalid? Let’s take this argument that India is our professed enemy and threat to our state [Which Zardari denied in his interview], so she blames us for every thing. Who is killing Chinese persons in Pakistan? People’s Republic of China has similar complaints. Russia, Iran and Central Asian Republics all have at one time or another blamed these “elements within Pakistan”. So is every one our enemy? Is this paranoid and schizoid mentality with overt narcissism an expression of Patriotism?

The result of all these denials and non critical approach toward every declaration of oligarchy as patriotic values Pakistan’s very existence is now at stake. We find a strange pleasure in reminding ourselves that there are 17 insurgencies going on in India. Though we never bother to know about these insurgencies, most of them are Maoist insurgencies, which have very different character than Islamist insurgency [we can look at Nepal to see how these insurgencies work, how politics is always the base of such insurgency or one can read Eqbal Ahmad’s studies on Vietnam and Algerian resistance and Left wing guerrilla warfare to differentiate it from Islamist terrorism] or let it be A, B or C insurgency. We have 4 provinces, and we have insurgencies in 2. The third one is in midst of ethnic conflict between Mohajir and Pathan and a possible Mohajir-Sindhi conflict. Punjab has a deep conflict with Sariaki region, which is strongly becoming hub of religious extremism. Many suicide bombers belong to Saraiki South Punjab. Ghazi Brothers of Red Mosque also belonged to southern Punjab.

Furthermore, Linguistic chauvinism of Pakistani establishment has resulted in deep conflicts in all nationalities of Pakistan, Bengali, Sindhi, Baluchi and Pakhtoon. The Oligarchy’s refusal to resolve the Nationalist Question has pushed Pakistan to the limit. The disillusioned Pakhtoon Nationalists are joining ranks of Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Asfand Yar Khan is loosing legitimacy fast in Pakhtoonkhawa because nothing promised to him has been delivered yet. On the other hand a vicious campaign by Oligarchy against ANP is going on. Targeting Pakhtoon population in Karachi by a party with close ties to GHQ is yet another pressure tactic to discredit and break Asfand Yar Khan. How long ANP can withstand the rapidly growing deep resentment in Pakhtoon population living across both sides of Durand Line and keep insisting on doing politics of federation, [ANP opposed other nationalist parties position of converting Pakistan into a loose confederation of nationalities and  on this issue didn’t joined PONAM. It kept supporting a strong federal system with genuine provincial autonomy] is a matter I leave to history. But if ANP stopped federal politics it will be a tragedy similar to Awami League’s.

The same is happening in South Punjab. Baluchistan is already at a very advance level of chaos. One only has to observe what happened in Baluchistan on the death anniversary of  Shaheed Ballaj Murree to see the real situation. Mir Raisani’s puppet government has no legitimacy within the Baluch population. Oligarchy’s policy of divide and rule when it comes to national question has pushed Pakistan on verge of collapse.

With Karachi riots time has come that we should stop looking at others “knee jerk” reactions and first put our own house in order. For us this is an existential question. We need to reform our state structure; resolve the National question; redefine our provinces and undertake constitutional reform to make Pakistan a secular democracy. Ritualistic chanting of progressive slogans and cursing mullahs will not do us any good. We need to see what the progressive values were and who is behind the Mullah

by Shaheryar Ali

Fire billows from the Taj Mahal Palace hotel on 27/11/08

Once again they have attacked, at the heart of Bombay. Bombay is every thing which they hate. Bombay is Freedom, Bombay is Life, Bombay is Music, Bombay is Light. This is the  attack on city of Lights. 100 people have been killed in cold blood. The attack is an attempt to over throw Indian democracy and secularism. The madness which has engulfed this world due to George Bush’s and OBL’s war of Terror has now struck  India.

Mumbai citizen reads the morning newspaper on 27/11/08

India stands as an anti thesis of every thing on which OBL and Bush believe. A country with many languages, cultures and religions and yet a nation united on the principles of democracy , secularism, equality and social justice and modernism..

They will fail to destroy India , they will fail to destroy the thousands of years old tradition of culture of tolerance and wisdom. Bombay lives, united and whole, full of lights and music, it will once again be. Prophets of darkness can never defeat Light. Because Light is eternal because Light is truth .  Bombay is the new Beirut , a war zone , where Imperialists  and Fascists play havoc. But neither did Beirut surrender nor will Bombay.

The gloomy night which came to city of lights has reminded me the lines of Faiz Ahmad Faiz , which he wrote for Lahore. “O city of Lights”. Today his city is Bombay. Today our city is Bombay and we will not surrender.

“City of Lights”

On each patch of green, from one shade to the next,
the noon is erasing itself by wiping out all color,
becoming pale, desolation everywhere,
the poison of exile painted on the walls.
In the distance,
there are terrible sorrows, like tides:
they draw back, swell, become full, subside.
They’ve turned the horizon to mist.
And behind that mist is the city of lights,
my city of many lights.

How will I return to you, my city,
where is the road to your lights? My hopes
are in retreat, exhausted by these unlit, broken walls,
and my heart, their leader, is in terrible doubt.

But let all be well, my city, if under
cover of darkness, in a final attack,
my heart leads its reserves of longings
and storms you tonight. Just tell all your lovers
to turn the wicks of their lamps high
so that I may find you, Oh, city,
my city of many lights.

(Translated by Agha Shahid Ali)