Osama Bin Javaid's Blog

Wash my blood stained bag, mama

Posted in Uncategorized by osamabinjavaid on December 23, 2014

“Please don’t switch the light on, my brother has just fallen asleep” Waqar Amin whispered to us as we tiptoed into orthopedic ward number 7 where many of the young boys with bone-wounds were being kept.

It was nearly two in the morning when I reached Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital after a school came under attack on Tuesday. Waqar told us that two of his brothers went to the Army Public School and both of them had been shot – one in the waist and the other in the head. Waqar’s a police constable and his family sent the boys to the military run school for better education. Despite attacks on schools and civilians no one in Pakistan expected children would be massacred in the heart of one of the most secure areas in the city of Peshawar.

Waqar says he received a call from his brother asking him to come to the school as ‘terrorists’ have entered the premises, he was scared and there was heavy firing in the background. Then the line disconnected and Waqar feared the worst had happened. He rushed to the school where a few military guards were standing helplessly before help arrived. They saw children lying on the ground in the distance but no one could do anything for them as bullets whizzed past them when they tried to get close. “Then the phone rang after I had called it a hundred times” said Waqar “my brother told me that he’s been shot and everyone around him was dead except for one of his friends. His friend was scared too and then my brother said I have to hang up someone is coming”. It was one of the worst places to be, Waqar was standing outside the school knowing full well that his brother is in imminent danger inside and he could do nothing – Waqar welled up as he described what went on. “Then the phone rang again, my brother said they were checking if anyone was playing dead by putting the hot barrels of their guns on their necks. Anyone who made a noise was shot. My brother turned his phone to silent and played dead too. There was so much blood coming out of his bullet wound that they didn’t bother to check if he was alive. This time he was really scared. He said don’t come to get me or they will kill you too. They just killed my friend.” Waqar spoke to his brother a few times after that in brief whispers as they feared the attackers would return. Heavy firing continued with intermittent blasts. Both brothers feared each blast and each volley of bullets. Several hours went by as the cat and mouse game continued between the attackers and the military. Finally the army said the school was clear. Waqar pleaded with the guards to allow him in but they said it was still too risky. Waqar then borrowed an ambulance volunteer’s hat to gain access to the school. He says they waded through several pools of blood. It was gruesome; bodies were scattered everywhere, freshly spilt blood of young boys and girls who should’ve been out in the playground. Waqar then saw his brother being helped by a soldier,  limping and bleeding…his face looked very pale. But he was alive.

In the cold corridor of the hospital, people were sleeping on the uncomfortable chairs, perhaps exhausted physically and mentally. Peshawar is a conservative city and everyone we spoke to said that humans are incapable of committing such barbarism and expressed disbelief that people who claim to be close to Islam be capable of such depravity. The doctor too sounded defeated. He told me that they were doing all they could for the wounded but for far too many they could do nothing.  Ever in his life he said he’d seen this many young deaths. He qualified that statement by aging “I have worked in Lady Reading hospital for years and being in Peshawar we get victims of terror attacks on a daily basis”. It was nearly 3am so we headed to the hotel.

The unbelievable brutality of Tuesday morphed into the agony of Wednesday at some point. Small coffins were delivered to many cities of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. 142 funerals were taking place. In Mansehra 6 year old Khaula was laid to rest. She had left to take admission in army public school. She had prepared for the competitive entry test and everyone was excited for her. I was told her mother was inconsolable. Back in Peshawar among dozens of other families, Dr Shabbir Awan buried his teenage nephew Abdullah.

He too had an agonizing tale. But despite his composure he was angry. ” if they don’t have the resources to protect us, we accept it. But they too shouldn’t be secured with tax payers money buying them long motorcades and bomb-proof cars.” Shabbir told us as he wanted to convey his message to the government, “If the govt can’t protect the children if they can’t make the army stand infront of the schools, there should be no army in front of the corps commander house, at the PM house, there should be no security for them. They should be like us”.

It was early afternoon and the military took journalists to Army public school. When you enter the school there is a certain smell of death. The blood stained floors and charred rooms are signs of the massacre which happened there. Classrooms are riddled with bullets.. Books and shoes scattered after the mayhem. There are so many pools of blood. Outside someone had collected body parts, a picture no one can be prepared for regardless of their years of experience and training. The children were taking the exam in one of the main halls and there was an event taking place in the auditorium. Some children saw their principal being set on fire after she was shot. Some saw the last breaths of their closest friends. It looked like an abattoir not a school.

In the political corridors, the tragedy jolted the government. The prime minister and the army chief, two of Pakistan’s most powerful men, were in Peshawar and the bitterly divided politicians had all huddled together. Sensing that mere words won’t work, everyone in charge seemed wanting to prove that they were hurting too. The PM lifted the moratorium on death penalty for terrorism convicts and formed a national counter terrorism task force to devise an action plan within a week. Opposition politician Imran Khan ended his prolonged sit-in and planned anti-government protests. And the army chief flew to Kabul with the intelligence chief to shore up support from across the border as they intend to hunt down the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban believed to be based in Afghanistan. But Mulla Fazlullah’s men of the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan seem unfazed of the building consensus against them. A TTP release glorified the attackers and they sent me pictures of dead children who they say have been killed by the Pakistani army in military operations against them in the tribal areas. For them, the slaughter of children who included some from military families, is a way to inflict pain on the enemy in revenge. “It’s been a tough news story to cover as a Journalist and as a parent” a colleague confessed to me as she took long drags of her cigarette. “I don’t think I have ever cried this much while gathering news. I cried when I spoke to the families and I cried when I spoke to my newsroom” she told me that she kept thinking of her girls who she didn’t meet as she rushed out when the news of the school attack broke. She had said goodbye to them in the morning in another city but they were also wearing a school uniform the last time she saw them.

I just spoke to a grandfather who used to wait in the lawn by the front gate reading the paper and drinking tea as his grand kids would come home and kiss him hello. They would then run to their mother who’d been waiting to hear about their day, laugh at their silliness, be angry at their mischief, yell at them for not washing their hands and tuck them in every night. He lost his teenage grandson and says it’s an irreparable loss. To him the attackers have taken away bits of Pakistan’s future.

A friend has spoken to his son in a military school in another city. The nine year old boy says he isn’t scared but he’s been thinking of the last moments of the kids who died. He asked his dad would they have seen their dreams flash in front of their eyes and pop like balloons? Would they have been thinking of their ambitions? What if they fought with their mom and dad that day? How would they apologize? I asked him will he pull him out of the school and he says no.

As I board the plane to leave a resilient city, I’m reading this poetry in the local paper

Wash my bag mama – author unknown

Please don’t be cross- my bag’s got stains of blood All my books are red They’re lost and have become pictures of the past What happened to me how I long to tell you I travelled from your lap To a sea of knowledge in my school Explosions replaced the ringing of the bell Bullets were raining down from all directions That short moment of agony became so long In the chaos I saw that man A savage beast carrying a gun The messenger of hate in the cloak of religion He declared war as he entered our room of unarmed boys Waved his gun and lined all of us up And painted the walls with our blood Be proud of me mama I took the bullet in the head Did not waver did not falter did not fear

Please don’t be cross

The forehead you used to kiss goodbye

Has a hole and is covered in blood

I remember your words when I left in the morning Don’t forget to finish you lunch son Little did you know it was my last breakfast My creator chose my time was up Now I’m with my friends and eat with them Please don’t worry for me Please don’t forget me Please don’t be cross – my bag’s got stains of blood

I just called Waqar Amin. His brother Mian Amir Ali who was shot in the waist has underwent more surgery and his brother  Mian Ishaq Amir who was shot in the head just moved his body today – he’s not in a comma anymore. Waqar asked me to pray for their recovery.

http://blogs.aljazeera.com/blog/asia/wash-my-blood-stained-bag-mama

GUILTY – Until Proven Innocent in Pakistan

Posted in News, Pakistan Curent Affairs by osamabinjavaid on April 10, 2014

Pakistan’s government has passed the Protection of Pakistan bill into law refusing all suggested amendments by the opposition. Members of the national assembly boycotted proceedings as the government used its higher numbers to pass the bill. Some MPs tore copies of the bill, calling it a black law. Opposition members will be challenging the unconstitutional clauses of the law in court and build a public campaign against it.

 

Pakistan’s government is adamant to press ahead with a stricter new law which it says will help fight “terrorism” and criminal elements.
The proposed legislation, which treads the path of US’s homeland security act and other pieces of legislation, is raising unease among civil rights activists, who consider it a license to kill for Pakistan’s security forces.

Lawyers at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) have studied the ordinance and are concerned about the implications of some of the provisions.
“The extension of detention period from 30 days to 90 days is unrealistic. HRCP considers even 30 days is too long,” the group’s said in a statement. “Law enforcement agencies have been given powers to fire on suspicion (earlier it was in self-defence). We have already witnessed trigger-happy Rangers in Karachi, it will only make matters worse. We believe it legitimises disappearances. While it requires the authorities to inform families of those in custody, they are not bound to reveal the location. Denial of bail is another major concern.”

Although it’s believed that the law was actually drafted by the prime minister’s office but most influential members of the ruling Muslim League Nawaz party are reluctant to speak on the subject of protection of Pakistan ordinance. “Many believe it is due to not just the harsh provisions but also because of wringing from agencies.” Arshad Sharif is a senior security and political analyst. “PMLN is acting as if it’s president passed the law on gunpoint. The controversial law is a difficult one for a politician to attach his or her name, so you can imagine why senior members are being elusive. They’ve made a mistake in succumbing to pressure by issuing the ordinance, now they are looking for an honourable exit from the fiasco so they can blame the opposition for burying the PPO”.

Some members of the ruling party have brushed aside the concerns of activists. “They’re making noise and it’s their right to have their opinions. PPO was needed and it’s the prerogative of the president to issue an ordinance. Due to the ongoing security situation in the country, we urgently needed a comprehensive law to empower security forces to deal with various challenges”.
Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani is part of the ruling PMLN government and a member of a parliamentary committee. Vankwani says the introduction of this law does give the security forces powers to arrest anyone but now they have to bring those arrests on record. “There is political consensus for peace in the county and for that PPO is necessary, it just shouldn’t be misused. There are proper checks and balances to ensure no excesses are committed against anyone”. 

But that’s precisely what analysts fear will happen. Mirza Shahzad Akbar, co-founder of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, interprets the provision as cover for using torture and other means to force confessions.“Agencies will torture you to make a statement and that will be treated as admissible piece of evidence in court. It further brings in reverse burden of proof, which means the arresting agency will only put an allegation on probabilities that you are a terrorist and you will have to prove that you are not,” says Akbar.
Pakistan is a signatory of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). But the proposed legislation makes any statements given to law enforcement agencies admissible in court.

Some activists also disagree with the special provisions of the ordinance granting powers to take away the citizenship of residents once they are proven guilty. Critics say the language is vague and builds the case with “reasonable evidence” and puts the onus on the accused to prove themselves innocent.

The law seems to clash with the independence of judiciary. Under this ordinance, the executive will appoint fresh judges of their own choice which means the government can hand pick judges to protect its interests rather than them being independent adjudicators.

In February the lower house temporarily extended the ordinance despite protests from opposition parties. “Ordinances – we have always opposed them,” says Zohra Yusuf, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. “All bills should be placed before parliament which can be summoned if emergency legislation is needed.”

Legal experts believe he law could create a parallel judiciary in the guise of trying to quickly settle  cases.
“Nationalists [including separatists in Balochistan, Sindh, FATA and some areas of Punjab] are worried because they are the ‘usual suspects’ for Pakistan’s military, paramilitary and intelligence agencies. Because they demand rights based on their regional/ethnic interests, the Pakistani establishment sees them as ‘traitors’” says Zohra.

But Vankwani disagrees “Before the PPO security forces had no right to arrest or take custody, now all arrests will be in the knowledge of the government and address issues like that of missing people.”


New laws needed?

Opposition lawmakers say tough laws already exist to tackle political violence. Pakistan’s government needs to focus on implementing and improving existing laws, they say, rather than distracting itself by creating new ones. Many argue that current political and religious violence is due to the failure of basic policing and governance issues which cannot be fixed with more pieces of legislation.

Activists say they can understand the government’s desperation in confronting militancy but don’t agree with the proposed solutions.

Last month, Pakistan drew up its first ever National Security Policy. The government says it means business when it comes to reshaping the security environment in a decade old conflict which has claimed more than 50,000 lives.

 “There is no doubt that the government would want and actually does want to work on securing Pakistan but the approach doesn’t seem to be right. With laws like PPO the risk of creating more dissent is far greater than actually solving any issue.” says Akbar.
A senior government advisor likened the PPO to the US Patriot Act, an imposing law passed over a decade ago. 

Members of the PMLN say the law is meant to provide checks and balance on the activities of security forces. Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani says it is still being deliberated in the lower house. “By that time if talks with Taliban are successful, the law and order situation improves there might not be the need for this legislation and the government can pull the ordinance or law”

Rafia Zakaria is on the board of directors of Amnesty International. She disagrees with the direction taken by Pakistan’s government. “In a general sense the law represents the legacy of the war on terror… Reduction of rights for defendants, longer periods of detention without charges and the suspension of procedural safeguards,” she said.  “It also creates disproportionate criminalisation of impoverished communities with the poor, ethnic and religious minorities bearing the brunt of their burden.”

This is not the first time Pakistan’s government has tried to pass controversial security legislation.

In 2011, a presidential decree (which was later made into law) issued two similarly regulations to provide legal cover to the armed forces’ actions during the military operations in the tribal areas called the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation, 2011 for FATA and PATA.

Recently, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered a meeting between a man booked under these laws and his family. Tasif (alias Danish) was picked up two years ago and his father-in-law says he seems to have been badly tortured during his incarceration. The security forces had been denying custody of Tasif when he went missing. Then he suddenly appeared in detention.

“What kind of fraud are you committing with the people?” a judge said to the Additional Attorney General representing government agents. “For the last two years we kept on asking about him and you kept denying you knew. What will the people think? Are our intelligence agencies always lying? What kind of country is this?”

Human Rights campaigners believe that toughening of laws is not a solution. There are enough terror-related laws as well as anti-terrorist courts. The main issues are of enforcement and prosecution. The evidence against those charged with terrorism is usually so poor that over 60 percent are acquitted by the courts 

Vankwani is confident that the PMLN government will not tolerate if random people are picked up by agencies but he feels that it’s worth facing opposition in giving a free hand to security forces to take action on targetable intelligence. “PPO is not meant to allow violation of human rights but to improve the current situation and an attempt to bring those (like the ones responsible for missing people) under a system of accountability.”

But those fighting to keep civil liberties say that concrete steps are needed to establish the writ of the state, until then, the crutches of ordinances to stumble clear of tough decisions will be ineffective in saving lives or providing any lasting solution.  


From AlJazeera Website 

Musharraf: a landmark indictment for Pakistan’s democracy and constitution

Posted in News, Pakistan Curent Affairs by osamabinjavaid on March 31, 2014

Pakistan’s once most powerful man – a dictator, former military chief and president – has been indicted of high treason under the constitution of Pakistan. A first indictment for a military dictator in a country which has been predominantly ruled by them. When Musharraf ended his exile many wondered why he would give up an easy life in Dubai and London – maybe it was fate.

The former commando was adamant – saying he came back to save his country.”I was thinking the government would call me back, and would say ‘Save Pakistan’ but that did not happen. Today my nation ordered me to come back. I came back, putting my life in danger, to save Pakistan.” said Musharraf after landing to a small crowd in Karachi.

He failed to see that it wasn’t the same Pakistan which he ruled ten years ago – the judges who forced him out, were now powerful. Many were amazed at the stunt because Musharraf was forced out of power by the judiciary he tried to rule. And court cases piled up against him. Political analyst Mosharraf Zaidi says Musharraf represents a huge baggage  for the military and it’s unlikely he’ll spend any time behind bars.

Musharraf faces criticism for shortcomings ranging from
Benazir Bhutto’s killing , killing a Baloch separatist leader Akbar Bugti, mishandling of Lal Masjid ,  allowing U.S. drone attacks on Pakistan, sending Pakistanis for torture abroad , selling detainees for dollars , depriving Pakistan of economic boom at the start of the millennium and systematically destroying Pakistan’s institutions and many many more.

He had taken refuge in his farmhouse (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fvrxd812huk) and avoided several court hearings to escape indictment. Bombs were found, a Taliban letter was produced and in the most dramatic of the moves he fell “sick” during a drive to the court. Now Musharraf’s ailing mother has been taken to hospital in Dubai – and his lawyers are preparing a case to get his name off the exit control list to allow him to leave Pakistan.

But controversy was nothing new for Musharraf. In 1999 Indian and Pakistani troops came close to war in the Kashmiri area north of Kargil. During that conflict General Musharraf was plotting how to rule Pakistan. And he took power in a bloodless coup and later named himself President.

Then, two years later, after the September 11 attacks, Musharraf decided to align Pakistan with the so-called U.S. war on terror. Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the Former Jamat i Islami chief  said the general buckled. “General Musharraf is under American pressure, this is not a war against terror this is a war against Islam”

Musharraf then supported the invasion of Afghanistan…though he later said the US had threatened to bomb Pakistan unless it joined the fight against al-Qaeda. Musharraf was in a fine balancing act. Managing a US-Pakistan relationship on one hand and trying not to completely sever ties with tribal fighters on the other.

Believed to have given approval for U.S. drones to operate from Pakistan, Musharraf also had to sign agreements with tribal fighters in the north. But his approach failed to stop the resurgence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda –whose attacks killed more than 50,000 Pakistanis in the last ten years. For the first time Pakistan had to deploy troops to the north to stop fighters from operating in Afghanistan. On the eastern border the relationship with India also saw some major lows.

And all his efforts to improve the economy were forgotten when Musharraf came under fire at home. The suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry in March 2007 triggered street demonstrations by lawyers and the civil society. And opposition parties also joined the protests. His political legitimacy was under attack – and the movement eventually led to Musharraf’s humiliating resignation.

And that’s where the spiral to the ground began. Musharraf returned to Pakistan despite these and many legal and political problems including from Taliban fighters – who tried to assassinate him three times during his time in office. He also found the hard way that he had very little support on the ground and all those who support him on social media aren’t voters in Pakistan.

Here are the formal charges he faces.

General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf may be formally charged as under:

a) Firstly, on 3rd November, 2007 at Rawalpindi as Chief of the Army Staff, he issued an unconstitutional and unlawful “Proclamation of Emergency Order, 2007” which, unconstitutionally and unlawfully, held the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 in abeyance and he thereby subverted the Constitution and thus committed the offence of high treason punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 (Act LXVIII of 1973), which is within the jurisdiction of the Special Court established under section 4 of The Criminal Law Amendment (Special Courts) Act, 1976 (XVII of 1976).

b) Secondly, on 3rd November, 2007 at Rawalpindi as Chief of the Army Staff, he issued an unconstitutional and unlawful “Provisional Constitution Order No. 1 of 2007” which, unconstitutionally and unlawfully, empowered the President to amend the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 from time to time and he also suspended the Fundamental Rights enshrined in Articles 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 19 and 25 of the Constitution and he thereby subverted the Constitution and thus committed the offence of high treason punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 (Act LXVIII of 1973), which is within the jurisdiction of the Special Court established under section 4 of The Criminal Law Amendment (Special Courts) Act, 1976 (XVII of 1976).

c) Thirdly, on 3rd November, 2007 at Rawalpindi as President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, he issued an unconstitutional and unlawful “Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2007” whereby an oath was, unconstitutionally and unlawfully, introduced in the Schedule which required a judge to abide by the provisions of the Proclamation of Emergency dated 03.11.2007 and the Provisional Constitutional Order dated 03.11.2007 to perform acts and functions in accordance thereof and this order also resulted in removal of numerous judges of the superior courts including the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan and he thereby subverted the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and thus committed the offence of high treason punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 (Act LXVIII of 1973), which is within the jurisdiction of the Special Court established under section 4 of The Criminal Law Amendment (Special Courts) Act, 1976 (XVII of 1976).

d) Fourthly, on 20th November, 2007 at Rawalpindi as President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, he issued an unconstitutional and unlawful Order 5 of 2007 “Constitution (Amendment) Order, 2007” whereby Articles 175, 186-A, 198, 218, 270B and 270C were, unconstitutionally and unlawfully, amended and Article 270AAA was added to the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and he thereby subverted the Constitution and thus committed the offence of high treason punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 (Act LXVIII of 1973), which is within the jurisdiction of the Special Court established under section 4 of The Criminal Law Amendment (Special Courts) Act, 1976 (XVII of 1976).

e) Fifthly, on 14th December, 2007 at Rawalpindi as President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, he issued an unconstitutional and unlawful Order 6 of 2007 “Constitution (Second Amendment) Order, 2007” whereby the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 was, unconstitutionally and unlawfully, amended and he thereby subverted the Constitution and thus committed the offence of high treason punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 (Act LXVIII of 1973), which is within the jurisdiction of the Special Court established under section 4 of The Criminal Law Amendment (Special Courts) Act, 1976 (XVII of 1976).

The special court set up to try Musharraf has rejected his plea to visit his sick mother and seek cardiac treatment abroad. The court says removing his name on the exit control list is the prerogative of the government.

Stephen Cohen is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a South Asia Analyst. He says if Pakistan’s judiciary becomes vengeful, it will lose all the ground it’s recovered since ousting a dictator from power.” I’d hate to see the Pakistani system turn into a revenge system. The courts, judiciary and even the military should let justice take its course. But not treat him abusively. He’s been humiliated, he’s been disgraced but you don’t want to begin a process of hanging people of charges many others are guilty of.” said Cohen.

And that’s his defence so far. His supporters insist that it was necessary at that time to remove a democratically elected prime minister and Musharraf did not act alone. Legal experts agree that the constitution is clear that whoever “aided and abetted” in the acts of treason must face justice. Some argue that Musharraf’s case should be the beginning and all those politicians, judges, bureaucrats and generals who helped Musharraf subvert the constitution must now face the music. But the trail must not become a farce and individuals must be given a fair chance to defend themselves.

His critics call Musharraf a victim of his own vanity and arrogance. And now he faces the possibility of the death penalty. Although most commentators do not believe that he will face the death penalty BUT this indictment has set a precedent for future adventurers in the garb of patriotism and doctrine of necessity.

For Musharraf perhaps it’s the legacy he wanted to have – that of insisting on defiance with not much defence in the face of obvious repercussions.

 

PO Box: Taliban

Posted in Uncategorized by osamabinjavaid on June 23, 2013

What’s in a name? Well, if you’re not careful it can cause fissures in alliances, potentially cost billions in aid and result in mass confusion.

The much awaited declaration of the Taliban office in Doha, Qatar, was welcomed across the globe as a move that will pave way for peace in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

PUTTING UP THE SIGN

Image

Yet Afghanistan wasn’t among the countries cheering the fighters’ arrival at a formal negotiating table.

President Hamid Karzai took exception to the use of the term “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” – a name which reminds Afghans of the days when the Taliban was in charge and which was not cleared with the Taliban’s Qatari hosts.

Qatar’s state news agency clarified that the agreement was to open a political office of the Taliban, not that of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Karzai hit out not only at the Taliban but also at the US and suspended security talks, blaming foreigners interested in advancing only their own strategies and goals. Within hours, his threat seemed to have worked.

US secretary of State John Kerry has had to pick up the phone more than once to assure Karzai that the Afghan government was not being sidelined.

Taliban mission

The Taliban spokesman, for his part, told media that his group wanted to open the political office for five reasons:

1. To talk and improve relations with the international community through mutual understanding.

2. To back such a political and peaceful solution which ends the occupation of Afghanistan, establishes an independent Islamic government and brings true security which is the demand and genuine aspiration of the entire nation.

3. To have meetings with Afghans in due appropriate time.

4.To establish contact with the United Nations, international and regional organizations and non-governmental institutions.

5.To give political statements to the media on the ongoing political situation.

Taken together, they appear like a bold outline for future power-sharing in Afghanistan – and, therefore, objectionable to the authorities in Kabul.

The Karzai government also wants the talks to happen directly without any interlocutors such Pakistan, which played its part in the establishment of the Doha office by freeing Taliban prisoners and allowing others to travel freely to Qatar.

What is noteworthy is that that the Doha office hosts no decision makers but just intermediaries between the Taliban supreme council, the Afghan government and the Americans.

Zero-sum game

As far as the Taliban officials are concerned, they see the latest development as a victory of sorts. After the fall of their government in Afghanistan in 2001, this would be the first open, official acknowledgement of the group’s power base.

The Taliban’s progress naturally poses a diplomatic challenge for the Karzai government. It’s a unique case of one country having two representative offices in a foreign country (an embassy and a Taliban political office).

The Afghan government has to walk a fine line in making sure that its diplomats are relevant in the presence of an influential force capable of affecting the situation at home.

The Taliban does not recognise the Afghan government’s power to veto or amend its decisions. But the group must realise that it cannot wage war and talk peace at the same time for the sake of credibility.

US forces invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban goverment because the group failed to sever its links with al-Qaeda, then operating from Afghan soil, in the aftermath of the September 11, 1001, attacks.

Although a Taliban official has said the group does not wish to harm other countries, it has to work hard to dispel international scepticism.

Deceived time and again

Meanwhile, members of the Afghan expatriate community in Qatar say they have been deceived by so many sides on so many fronts that they don’t know who to trust.

A businessmen told me: “We want peace at any cost and whoever can bring it. Our generations has suffered from the fighting.

“There needs to be an agreement before foreign troops leave. We don’t want to travel back in time – again.”

On Wednesday night, the policemen on guard outside the Doha villa at the centre of international attention said the Taliban office would open in the morning.

US officials have apparently assured the Karzai government that the plaque bearing the words “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”, to which it had taken offence, would be removed.

Howsoever shaky and tentative, peace, it would seem, has been given a sliver of chance in war-weary Afghanistan.

POLE SHORTENED BUT FLAG IS STILL UP

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Plaques on buildings can be taken off or be put put back on but this shaky and cautious peace process does offer some ‘hope’ – a commodity not abundant when it comes to Afghanistan after 2014.

http://blogs.aljazeera.com/blog/middle-east/po-box-taliban

 

SINCE THEN:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said

I want to thank and express the appreciation of President Obama and all of us working on this issue for Qatar’s willingness to host the Taliban office here in Doha in order to facilitate negotiations between the Afghan High Peace Council and the authorized representatives of the Taliban. Now it is obvious from just the early churning around the opening of that office that nothing comes easily in this endeavor, and we understand that. And the road ahead will be difficult, no question about it, if there is a road ahead. Clearly there’s been a challenge thus far, but I want to thank our friends in Qatar for having made the effort, having reached out, having gotten far enough to at least have an announcement made that there is an office.

And it is our hope that this could ultimately be an important step in reconciliation if it’s possible. We know that that – it may well not be possible, and it’s really up to the Taliban to make that choice. The High Peace Council is ready, the United States is ready, the Qataris are ready; all of them have lived up to their obligations thus far, and it remains to be seen in this very first test whether or not the Taliban are prepared to do their part.

So once again, I thank His Highness the Amir, His Highness Sheikh Tamim, and His Excellency the Prime Minister for hosting us here today and being willing to cooperate in these difficult endeavors. Thank you, sir.”

Afghan official in Doha said to me ..

“- We (the embassy in Doha) have not been informed about any talks which may happen tonight or later.
– U.S. officials have not informed us about the arrival of James Dobbins, we’re not aware if they have had any direct contact with the foreign office in Kabul.
– It is possible that the Americans are talking about the prisoner in Afghan custody and their men in Guantanamo bay
– We are not opposed to them talking BUT peace in Afghanistan HAS to be Afghan led.
– The talks are between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban so it makes sense that both sides are taking part in any discussion about peace..”

AND Taliban told me

“We haven’t been told by the Americans about the arrival of James Dobbins (US special rep to Afghanistan and Pakistan)
We are willing to talk but in the light of recent events we have not yet agreed to having a meeting with the Americans.
Internal consultations are continuing about the scope of negotiations(in Doha and in Afghanistan).
This process will take time and we are hopeful that a solution can be worked out in due time.
Why do you ask us for a ceasefire as a precondition for talks? The Americans havent ceased fire, they havent left Afghanistan – this will take time.
Important thing is to bring peace to Afghanistan and get rid of foreigners occupying our land.
And in coming days, God willing, you’ll see that things will get better….”

Is the west training Syria’s rebels in Jordan?

Posted in Uncategorized by osamabinjavaid on March 15, 2013

As we mark two years of fighting, here’s one aspect of the world’s response to Syria …

U.S.-trained Syrian rebels returning to fight: senior rebel source  – www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-syria-crisis-rebelsbre92d15e-20130314,0,3920651.story

UK and French instructors involved in US-led effort to strengthen secular elements in Syria’s opposition, say sources – www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/08/west-training-syrian-rebels-jordan

The American and Jordanian militaries are jointly developing plans to secure what is believed to be Syria’s vast stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, said U.S. and Arab officials briefed on the discussions. – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203961204577269680793484776.html

The American troops have been stationed at a Jordanian military base north of Amman about 35 miles from the border since the end of a major joint exercise called Operation Eager Lion. –www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9598851/US-troops-operating-in-Jordan-near-Syria-border.html

The American mission in Jordan quietly began last summer. In May, the United States organized a major training exercise, which was dubbed Eager Lion. About 12,000 troops from 19 countries, including Special Forces troops, participated in the exercise. After it ended, the small American contingent stayed on and the task force was established at a Jordanian training center north of Amman. It includes communications specialists, logistics experts, planners, trainers and headquarters staff members, American officials said. An official from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugee Affairs and Migration is also assigned to the task force. –www.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/world/middleeast/us-military-sent-to-jordan-on-syria-crisis.html?_r=0

Here’s an untitled image from the archives http://www.globalresearch.ca/articlePictures/reaganandmujahideen1.jpg and the rest is history…

Afzal Guru: Justice or blotch on India’s justice system

Posted in News by osamabinjavaid on February 9, 2013

No formal curfew but cable and internet service is suspended in Indian occupied Kashmir.

The steps have been taken after the man accused of plotting to attack the Indian parliament (in 2001) has been hanged.

Many believe that  Afzal Guru’s trial does not meet international standards for a fair trial.

He should have had due process, legal counsel and the presumption of innocent until proven guilty – all elements which were denied to the accused.

Afzal Guru was a fruit vendor from a small Kashmiri town alleged to have links with the banned group Jaish E Muhammad.

He was arrested with four others in 2001. One of the accused was acquitted and the death sentences of the other two were commuted.

The accused who was acquitted says the Indian machinery has carried out a grave injustice.

SAR Geelani says Guru was not provided a lawyer and even his family wasnt informed.

Guru’s wife Tabassum says she did not know that her clemency appeal had been rejected.

Under the law she has the right to meet her husband before the execution.

She insists the family has been threatened for years and her husband was tortured in jail.

But apart from the family and co-accused, rights groups have also blasted Indian authorities.

Human Rights Watch has condemned the execution. The group said in a statement that ‘the hanging of Afzal Guru, following closely behind the hanging of Ajmal Kasab in November, shows a very worrying trend by the Indian government.’

And the trend is deep entrenched in jingoistic media which has cheered executions – even in muddled circumstances.

Zee TV and others, with the consent of the government were involved a long media trial and even a film which falls under trying to prejudice an ongoing trial.

The police used the media to build their “guilty” plea by forcing Afzal Guru on a TV confession.

Sensible journalists’ pleas that he was disturbed and questions about a Bollywood-style confession were not heard by the courts.

Even Afzal Guru’s retracting his confession didn’t matter.

Questions will continue to haunt the dispensers of justice about the evidence and confession under duress which they used to build a case against Guru.

The death sentence is based on circumstantial evidence shrouded in procedural irregularities.

It’s unclear why Delhi High Court acknowledged that the investigating agency fabricated evidence yet upheld the verdict.

Opinion in India itself  is divided on whether a death penalty was warranted.

Dealing with terrorism is tricky business and involves treading a fine line between justice and joining the extremes.

Whether it was Kasab or Guru, they were both executed in a build-up to elections and the budget. Political considerations have played a huge role in these executions as the BJP and Congress fight for votes.

Justice in the world’s largest democracy remains shady despite India signing the International convention on civil and human rights back in 1979.

As one of my favourite authors aptly puts it “Democracy without justice is Demon-Crazy”

——————

Another good read: Clemency — for the right reasons http://www.hindu.com/2006/10/09/stories/2006100901901000.htm

Posted in Uncategorized by osamabinjavaid on January 30, 2013

Supreme Court of Pakistan -meddling disabler in collusion with parts of media OR champion of establishing rule of law? http://dawn.com/2013/01/29/bokharis-stunning-outburst-against-judiciary-media/

NADEEM MALIK ندیم ملک

NAB CHAIRMAN LETTER TO PRESIDENT ZARDARI

“Please accept my gratitude for supporting unhindered execution of my mandate. Large recoveries have been made (about Rs 25 Billion). The Prevention activity of focusing on the current procurements and projects of Rs. 1.5 Trillion to eliminate possible corrupt practices, and the disclosure of heavy daily wastage of revenue and state owned resources indicative of decade’s old systemic flaws is being addressed by the Government.


“However, I write to you at a critical juncture in the history of our country when our people anxiously await free and fair elections. At this juncture all political players appear unanimous and united to respond to the aspirations of their countrymen. There is broad consensus that non political players must not be allowed to derail the political process. The Military has made its position clear and firmly stands with the people.


“I am constrained to observe and bring…

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Protected: South to North; Pakistan in 20 days

Posted in News, Pakistan Curent Affairs by osamabinjavaid on January 26, 2013

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#WeAreAllHazara **

Posted in Uncategorized by osamabinjavaid on January 23, 2013

It’s unprecedented.
Women, children and elderly have been protesting with 86 dead bodies of their loved ones. The cold weather and similar treatment by the authorities have had no effect on their resolve. These are the Hazaras of Quetta. The city that saw more than a hundred deaths in a sectarian attack on January 10.

And their plight has gripped the Pakistani nation. Protests and sit-ins spread like wildfire in all major cities after the victims decided to stand their ground. Their demand is being echoed in all four provinces – the dismissal of the inept Balochistan government.

The bombing was indiscriminate, it took the lives of Shias, Sunnis, journalists, rescue workers and policemen I spoke to journalists and the civil society, who are all surprised at the utter incompetence of the concerned authorities. The Inspector General of police was reportedly present in the city but the death of nine police officers did not make him get out of a warm room. The Chief minister is abroad and after a grave tragedy, hasn’t considered cancelling his private business. And what can one say about the elected representatives. None of the 64 members of the provincial assembly, who by the way are all ministers, was present in the provincial capital.

And it’s this performance of the state machinery which has led the Hazaras to demand a military intervention. They want a surgical operation against the Lashkar I Jahngvi’s radical fighters who boasted about killing Shias. They want the governor of Balochistan to take charge and give the responsibility of maintain law and order to the corps commander.

The attempt to create a sectarian divide hasn’t worked – well at least so far. Leaders of the Hazara committee say Shia Hazaras have been targeted for the past 13 years. But they have existed peacefully and there is no Shia-Sunni divide. Their anger is aimed at a bunch of terrorists who – according to them – are being funded by foreign governments. They say these terrorists are anti-Pakistan and should be brought to justice. The demand seeking justice for killers is not unique to Quetta, victims in Swat, Karachi, Peshawar are all waiting.

All hope is not lost. A popular politician Imran Khan has made his way to Quetta to show solidarity. Pakistan’s biggest opposition party – the Muslim League Nawaz intends to join the protesters. Even government allies like the MQM have condemned the killings. And the country’s largest Islamic party, the Jamat I Islami has announced its support to stop the cleansing of Hazaras.
And Pakistan’s youth is also fed up. Activists from various parts of Pakistan and not just Shias are taking to the streets. In Lahore their chants haven’t stopped for over 48 hours, in Karachi they are occupying the encroached land in front or president Zardari’s palace and similar scenes can be seen across the country.

Maybe, just maybe, this tragedy can result in protecting the rights of the Hazaras and other minorities in Pakistan. There is only so long you can let your loved ones dead body remain on the road….

**The post was written before the dismissal of the Balochistan government To date the people who went missing after the attacks havent been found or heard from

A certain season of uncertainty in Pakistan

Posted in Uncategorized by osamabinjavaid on January 22, 2013

Just a few hundred meters away from the parliament, the presidency and the supreme court is the square in shape of the letter “D”.

This is where Canadian-Pakistani cleric Tahirul Qadri, intended to create his version of Egypt’s Tahrir square.

In a related but not directly linked development, the Supreme Court has given orders to arrest the prime minister on a corruption case pending since March.

The ruling has given new impetus to Qadri’s followers but the chief justice has made it clear that elections will be held on time and no unconstitutional force will be supported.

The prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf is among 16 people who have been implicated in kickbacks involving rental power plants while he was the minister for water and power.

But nothing in Pakistan is simple, the supreme court’s decision has to go through the National Accountability Bureau or NAB. On Thursday, the court was angry at the NAB chairman for not carrying out its orders and issued a contempt of court notice against him  The supreme court said it had based the decision on documents provided by the government and was surprised at the argument of the NAB prosecutor who wanted time to further investigate the case. The court has told NAB to hand over all case records.The case has been adjourned till January 23rd.
For the last two years winters in Islamabad have seen a spike in political temperature.  In 2011-12 around the same time it was Imran Khan on the wave of change and rooting out corruption. This year it’s Qadri. Tahirul Qadri returned to Pakistan after getting his Canadian citizenship, which he says is permissible under Pakistani law.

He has previously been elected under Genaral Pervez Musharraf’s government and has also been part of the former military dictator Ziaul Haq’s martial law regime. But he says he has come back to Pakistan as an agent of change.

He hasn’t been able to achieve much but inadvertently brought together all political parties on the agenda of saving democracy. Even a coalition partner of the government, the MQM, took back its decision to take part in Qadri’s rally.

Political leaders in Pakistan have questioned his millions of dollars which are being spent on arranging rallies and massive publicity campaigns in all forms of media.

Tahirul Qadri’s Minhajul Quran international insists that funds have been collected by its network of followers in 90 countries.

But Qadri is using popular slogans and public frustration as the basis for his demand of “cleansing the political system”. In the last five years the PPP led coalition has been criticized for bad governance and a huge increase in corruption and inflation.

At an all parties conference convened under Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN, political parties agreed to not support Qadri but demanded that the government announce the schedule for elections and setup a caretaker govt.

The assemblies complete their tenure on March 16 and lections have been promised in two months after a caretaker government takes charge. Important announcements are expected in the national assembly session on January 21.

Qadri had made strong statements for the duration of his protest and the responded in kind. The minister for information said Qadri’s making vague demands. Qamar Zaman Kaira said if Qadri doesn’t calm down, political parties can also bring their crowds to the streets. But that war of words has now ended.

Qadri and the government called it their victory but none of his big demands were met. Both sides have agreed on a long march declaration. Some are saying that the establishment’s plan to shake up the political system has been achieved.

But the sit in is finally over and for Pakistanis it has come as a sigh of relief. Because a fragile democracy like Pakistan – after a decade of a military dictatorship – can ill afford showdowns.