Osama Bin Javaid's Blog

Ramblings …

Posted in Pakistan Curent Affairs by osamabinjavaid on July 15, 2011

Among the world’s most despised professions are politics and journalism. I guess that was just a sentence when I was a young aspiring reporter and the true manifestation hits you hard in the face. In the pursuit of truth (not-news-of-the-world-style) you are required to ruffle feathers, shake confidences and must be trustworthy at the same time. It is a difficult balancing act as everybody hates your guts. It doesn’t matter if the underlying theme of your story is for the betterment of the society, all involved parties treat you with a fishing pole.

So how do you dig out alternative narratives? How do you insist on the truth when everyone wants you to tow their line? And most importantly how long can you last, banging your head against brick walls? The sycophants who claim to be watchdogs make you nauseous .

Inspiration is the key but in case of Pakistan, it is a rare commodity becoming scarcer by the second. Going against the tide is too much even if you try and go around the tide; guess what, no one wants you to. Comfort zones of sources, institutions and hypocrites block you with full force. You want the good old days when people said what they meant and meant what they said but they just want to hint between the lines. So when faced with the figurative and literal bulldozers out to offset any non-conventional and creative thinking, how do you survive? The suffocation becomes so intense that you find yourself gagging to breathe. At times its being sensible and responsible and at times its about being politically correct to maintain peace. Whether it is the uncomfortable truth about so-called national interest, the realpolitik, corruption of sacred cows or any other thing “THEY” don’t want you to touch. As a journalist you fear for your team, your family and at times yourself.

Its not just me, here’s what a dear friend wrote after successive killing sprees in the financial hub of Pakistan The state has abdicated its power to the non-state actors. As a journalist, I am also part of the conspiracy of silence prevailing in Karachi. Like many of my colleagues, I know things which I cannot reveal. I am part of the Omerta. I have to live with imposed silence as I see Karachi burning, lives being lost. All of us have our hands tainted with the blood of innocents in the name of peace and hoping to live with the lies for another day. But, for how long? Somebody has to break that code of imposed silence“

I say to colleagues that optimism and hope are our only two weapons as darkness continues to engulf Pakistan but my words echo in my increasingly hollowing aspirations. The only solace – where’s the fun in giving up!

Of “STEALTH” swimsuits and defence through press releases…

Cassius said in Julius Caesar, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars — but in ourselves…”

A spokesperson of the ISPR has strongly refuted reports in the media quoting unnamed US sources that elements in Pakistan security forces tipped off terrorists helping them to escape the purported IED factories in Waziristan. This assertion is totally false and malicious and the facts on ground are contrary to it. Explaining further the spokesperson said that intelligence information was received regarding four compounds suspected of being used as IED making facilities. Operations were launched on all. Two were found to be used as IED making facilities and have been destroyed. Information on other to proved to be incorrect. Some persons have been arrested and they are under investigation.

Why is it that these claims are repeatedly being made? Why is the Pakistani military establishment under the microscope after the Abbottabad incident? How many of us were surprised when the actual story surfaced alleging Panetta showed the Pakistani military of the militant factories CIA tipped them about and then before they could attack, militants fled.

PNS Mehran was a classic example where the finger pointers forgot that it was their own inefficiencies that led to the attack and failure to protect their assets. Why was there a 50 yr old barbed wire protection for billions of rupees of taxpayers money? why werent there CCTV cameras? why weren’t the checkposts manned? why did no one pay heed to the previous attacks on navy? why was there no intelligence? why were the lights switched off rather than everything being lit up to identify attackers?

Stop pointing fingers and identify your failures first. Not saying that the US and India might not take advantage but unless you plug the loopholes, everyone else will take advantage too.

This the message forwarded by a friend from a US-fault-finder…

Where do we go from here?!

I met an officer of my unit at a wedding on Sunday 29 may ’11.  As my unit is in Malir, I asked him if he had any knowledge of the Mehran attack. He said, his company was the one called in for the operation as it was on rapid deployment force duty. He gave me a blow by blow account of what happened. I shall only give the gist of what he said.

The runway of Shahrah e faisal is shared by the Navy as well as the PAF. The runway is the dividing line.

At the perimeter of the naval base is a nullah about 15-20 meters wide. This is full of shrubs and trees and bushes.  The terrorists had parked their vehicles about two KMs down and walked along the far side of the nullah. At exactly 90 degrees from the Orions they built a proper infantry fashion Assault Bridge. They crossed the nullah over the assault bridge, and  made a bee line to the Orions. Four of the attackers went round from the PAF side and took up positions facing the Orions, across the runway.

They fired all the seventy rocket launchers they had brought onto and into the two parked Orions. The destruction was total. The officer said except for two pieces of tyres of  an aircraft which he saw, everything else was total ashes.

The attackers had come in totally undetected. When they fired the rockets simultaneously, the local naval security forces rushed to the point. They ran in along the runway. The firing went on for about 12-15 mns. Immediately after the fire the attackers on the Naval side withdrew across the assault bridge and disappeared. No one knows how many they were. Figures quoted are only conjectures.

When the local security forces rushed along the runway, they inadvertently cut off the route of withdrawal of the four attackers. And a cross fire started between the two sides.

In the meantime, this officers company had reached the mehran base by about 11 pm. However, they had orders ‘from above’, to not to enter the base. They could hear the firing but were not allowed to move in.

At 1:30 in the morning they were allowed to move in but were prohibited to open fire. At this stage I asked him if they had been sent in to sell pakoras! He was quite cut up and said the troops were very upset about it too. But their orders were very strict – no fire.

By this time all fire had stopped before they were allowed to move in.

They knew that four attackers were still there in the PAF area. An area search was carried out but no one was found because of the night. After first light along with the Zarrar company of SSG the grounds were scoured. An officer with a jawan were searching for a lost magazine, as they neared a large bush, they were fired upon. The sepoy was injured. The officer fired back and killed the attacker. Thereafter three more were killed in an exchange of fire. No more bodies were found

While this company was being held outside the Base, the officer said he saw Rahman malik on the TV giving a running commentary on the action as if he was standing in the witness stand!! He also stated that before they were allowed in, RM was announcing very happily “all the terrorists have escaped. No one has been killed or captured”. The troops and officers were all aghast at his attitude and his glee!!

All the weapons and equipment found on the site and attackers was of Russian origin.

The attackers were in the middle of two bases and all the aircraft of the PN and PAF were within their beat. They could have destroyed or incapacitated most of the PAF aircraft and helicopters including Lamas. But nothing else was touched.. They had concentrated their total fire power onto the total destruction of the two Orions only.

The Americans on the base were flown out the same night.

I have tried to reproduce what the officer said, verbatim.

My observations.

These Orions had been used for surveillance in Baluchistan where the Americans are actively involved in terrorist activities. All their activities were monitored and the wireless messages were recorded. This is the capacity of the Orion. And therefore that could have been a great embarrassment for the Americans if it leaked out. Hence the Orions had to be destroyed so much that the recorders and black boxes were destroyed too along with the nefarious evidence.

The attackers came direct onto the two parked Orions because they were guided through Satellite GPS. The Americans at the base were acting as FACs to direct them. They had finished their jobs and were no longer required. Their safety demanded they be not available for any interrogation etc.

RM was in charge of the operations, and thus the peculiar orders to the army unit,  ostensibly for the safety of his American friends

Another revealing news I got was that the Americans are paying USD 500millions each annually to Asif, Rahman and Nawaz  Sharif to keep their mouths shut and look after US interests. One of the bankers being quoted said he had been involved personally in the transaction of $500 M in the case of Nawaz!

The photo of one attacker killed shows a full tattoo on his left arm fro stout shoulder to hand. This excludes the person being a Taliban, a Muslim, Pakistani or even Indian. Its not part of our culture. Russian or Europeans would have a single tattoo. The full arm or body tattoos are only American culture. Draw your own conclusions.

I thought you should know.

( Name removed )


Can we just stop blaming other and fix our own problems first. How long before we are mature enough to  take responsibility for the ambit we’re responsible for. Maybe we all should read Cassius’ comments again…



A dear friend, a bold journalist a brave man was killed in pursuit of the truth. Saleem Shahzad leaves behind three children and a widow. The mourners under their wails and tears still have no clue why was their father killed. Since his abduction from Pakistan’s fortified federal capital to the discovery of his bruised mortal remains, the message is to hammer home the chilling threat to all those who strive to inform.

Rest in peace, we will not be silenced.


After a successful 24 hr sit in by journalists demanding justice, the ineffective government made matters worse. The journalists from all over Pakistan demanded a judicial inquiry by appointing a judge who refused to head the investigation because the GOP didnt bother to ask the chief justice before appointing one of his subordinates.

On June 17, the ISPR released the following statement after Asma Jehangir said data of calls and texts from Saleem Shahzad’s mobile was wiped out by the ISI.

“Spokesperson of ISPR voiced concern on unfounded and baseless insinuation’s being voiced in a section of print and electronic media against ISI in regard to murder of Journalist Saleem Shahzad. Such negative aspersions and accusations were also voiced against ISI in some previous cases but investigations proved those wrong.
The spokesperson strongly supported   formation of a Commission to investigate the murder of   Journalist Saleem Shahzad. The case must be investigated thoroughly and facts made known to the people, the spokesperson concluded.”


Here’s what happened earlier …


Missing people in Pakistan have become a sad reality. Wikileaks has revealed that DEMAND TO ACCOUNT FOR MISSING

“….The Supreme Court’s activism on the issue is a brave and encouraging start, but there are a number of obstacles that will make solving the problem a serious challenge. Interior Ministry and Attorney General’s office must rely on information from Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agencies to comply with the Supreme Court’s order. So far, this pressure has generated a few releases — often abrupt affairs, in which detainees have reportedly been pushed out of cars, confused and disoriented, and left to find their way home. It remains to be seen whether the Court’s scrutiny will have a lasting effect on the way the intelligence agencies do business.…”

Here is a compilation of a very well articulated response by the Newspaper Society and the rest of the world on the sad demise of Saleem Shahzad, a courageous journalist. Will there be action, I doubt it, but still all we have are words as our weapons


A leading newspaper publisher in Pakistan and the president of the nationwide newspapers body has reacted sharply to charges by the Inter Services`Intelligence Agency (ISI) that allegations by Human Rights Watch of the intelligence agency’s involvement in the murder of Pakistani journalist Salim Shahzad were “baseless” .

It has come to my notice that a spokesman of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) while speaking to the official national news agency in Islamabad yesterday has questioned the “baseless allegations” leveled by Human Rights Watch on the basis of an E mail from Salim Shahzad, the Bureau Chief of the Hong Kong based Asia Times Online, in their possession . Mr Shahzad was mudered three days ago near Islamabad after being abducted by unknown persons.

“I wish to state on record that the e mail in the possession of Mr Ali Dayan, the monitor for Human Rights Watch (HRW) stationed in ,Lahore Pakistan, is indeed one of the three identical E mails sent by Mr Shahzad to HRW , his employers (Asia Times Online) and to his former employer, myself . I also wish to verify that allegations levied by HRW at the Inter services Intelligence (ISI) are essentially in complete consonance with the contents of the slain journalists E mail ”

“In their denial issued Wednesday an anonymous spokesman from the ISI has questioned the “baseless allegation” leveled against ISI by Mr Dayan of HRW. I wish to state on the record for the information of the officers involved in investigating journalist Salim Shahzad’s gruesome murder, that the late journalist confided to me and several others that he had received death threats from various officers of the ISI on at least three occasions in the past five years. Whatever the substance of these allegations , they form an integral part of Mr Shahzad’s last testimony. Mr Shahzad’s purpose in transmitting this information to three concerned colleagues in the media ,was not to defame the ISI but to avert a possible fulfillment of what he clearly perceived to be a death threat. The last threat which I refer to was recorded by Mr Shahzad by e mail with me, tersely phrased as “for the record”, at precisely 4.11 am on October18,2010, wherein he recounted the details of his meetings at the ISI headquarters in Islamabad between the Director General- Media Wing (ISI) Rear- Admiral Adnan Nazir, with the Deputy Director General of the Media Wing, Commodore Khalid Pervaiz, also being present on the occasion.

The ostensible agenda for this meeting was the subject of Mr Shahzads’s story of Asia Times Online with respect to the Pakistan government freeing of senior Afghan Taliban commander, Mullah Baraadar. Mr Shahzad informed the senior officials that he story was leaked by a intelligence channel in Pakistan, and confirmed thereafter by the ” most credible Taliban s source” . The senior officials present suggested to Mr Shahzad that he officially deny the story, which he refused to do, terming the official’s demand as “impractical”

The senior intelligence official was “curious” to identify the source of Mr Shahzad’s story claiming it to be a “shame” that such a leak should occur from the offices of a high profile intelligence service. Mr Shahzad additionally stated that the Rear -Adimral offered him some information, ostensibly “as a favour ” in the following words : ” We have recently arrested a terrorist and have recovered a lot of data, diaries and other materials during the interrogation. The terrorist had a hit list with him . If I find your name on the list I will certainly let you know.”

Mr Shahzad subsequently confirmed to me in a conversation that he not only interpreted this conversation as a veiled threat to his person. He also informed me that he let an official from the ISI know soon thereafter that he intended share the content of this threat with his colleagues ..

As President of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and as head of Pakistan’s leading media group I consider the the security of journalists to be of paramount importance. At present the APNS has officially committed itself to the creation of a national body for the investigations of serious threats to the lives of journalists, a body which the Committee to Protect the Journalists in New York, and other leading organizations in the Pakistani press and human rights bodies have promised to lend vigorous support to. Pakistan has one of the high rates in the world for journalists killings and such an environment is inimical to the functioning of democracy . The government and the intelligence agencies should take the investigation into Mr Shahzad’s murder seriously and examine his last testimony closely.

Whether the Oct 18th incident itself or his last article in the Asia Times Online ,that alleged Al-Qaeda penetration of the security curtain for Pakistani Naval establishment in Karachi hastened his murder is for the official investigation to uncover. And nobody not even the ISI should be above the law”.

Hameed Haroon

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) fully backs a call by its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), for the Government of Pakistan to establish by June 10 a judicial commission to investigate the disappearance and murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad.

PFUJ president Pervaiz Shaukat said journalists from throughout Pakistan would assemble in Islamabad and stage a sit-in at the Parliament if the commission was not set up by this date.

The deadline was set at a meeting of senior union leaders and journalists in Islamabad on June 2, where the PFUJ also sought unity with the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS).

APNS president Hameed Haroon issued a statement on June 2 in which he confirmed Shahzad had reported receiving threatening messages on at least three occasions, allegedly from members of the intelligence arm of the Pakistan military, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

“Whatever the substance of these allegations, they form an integral part of Mr Shahzad’s last testimony,” Haroon said in his statement. “Mr Shahzad’s purpose in transmitting this information to three concerned colleagues in the media was not to defame the ISI but to avert a possible fulfilment of what he clearly perceived to be a death threat.”

The head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Zohra Yusuf, was reported as saying that although there was no conclusive evidence, “circumstances seem to point to state security agencies because there have been other cases where journalists have been picked up”, according to Reuters.

The ISI denies involvement in the murder of Shahzad, 40, who disappeared in Islamabad on May 29. Shahzad’s tortured body was found on May 31 at Mandi Bahauddin, about 150km southeast of Islamabad in Punjab province.

On May 27, Shahzad published on Asia Times Online an investigative report into alleged links between Al-Qaeda and Pakistani naval officials. It was to be the first of a two-part series. However, an editor’s note on the website says Shahzad had not completed the second part of his report and it will therefore not be published.

“The IFJ commends the courage of journalists in Pakistan at this distressing and dangerous time,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said. “We and journalists around the world will not rest until all murderers of journalists in Pakistan are brought to justice.”

Black flags have been hoisted at union offices and press clubs throughout the country, and PFUJ members will conduct a protest outside the Parliament today.

Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online, for whom Shahzad was the Pakistan bureau chief, is establishing a trust fund for his wife Anita and three teenage children.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

The United States strongly condemns the abduction and killing of reporter Syed Saleem Shehzad. His work reporting on terrorism and intelligence issues in Pakistan brought to light the troubles extremism poses to Pakistan’s stability. We support the Pakistani government’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.
We remain committed to helping the government and people of Pakistan as they work to bring peace and stability to the country.

Chairman Kerry Washington, DC

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) issued the following statement on the death of Syed Saleem Shahzad, the Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief:

“I was deeply shocked and saddened to hear about the recent abduction and murder of reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad. His reporting on critical national security and intelligence issues helped shed light on the difficult challenges confronting the region. His death is a blow to Pakistan’s fragile democracy and a chilling reminder of the dangers journalists continue to face in Pakistan. I hope that the Pakistani government’s investigation into his murder will be as a thorough as possible to hold those responsible accountable and deter another crime against members of the press.”

BRITISH Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

“I was shocked to hear of the abduction and killing of Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shazad. He courageously reported on the terrorism and extremism which has caused so much suffering to the people of Pakistan. His death highlights the dangers faced by those working for a stable Pakistan and our thoughts are with his family at this time of grief.

“I welcome the announcement of an investigation. It is vital that this is thorough and transparent and that those responsible are brought to justice.”

Joint Action: Pakistan – Thirty-five organizations call for murder investigations in Pakistan

Thirty-five organizations call for murder investigations in Pakistan

The International Federation of Journalists and 33 other members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), including co-author the Committee to Protect Journalists, endorsed the following letter at IFEX’s General Meeting held in Beirut, Lebanon on May 30 and 31. The letter was also supported by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.

Mr Asif Ali Zardari
President, Islamic Republic of Pakistan,

Mr Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani
Prime Minister, Islamic Republic of Pakistan


Mr Rehman Malik
Minister for Interior

Dr Firdaus Ashiq Awan
Minister for Information and Broadcasting

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
Chief of Army Staff

1 June 2011

Dear Mr President, Honourable Ministers and General Kayani,

RE: Journalists and Press Freedom Groups Call for Murder Investigations

We the undersigned members and partners of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) are writing with respect to express our deep concerns for the safety and welfare of journalists and media workers in Pakistan.

Representing the international community of journalists’ organisations and press freedom defenders gathered in Lebanon for IFEX’s bi-annual conference, we urge the Government of Pakistan and its law-enforcement and security agencies to take immediate and firm action to implement all appropriate measures to protect media personnel and to prosecute murderers of journalists in Pakistan.

In 2011, the tragic toll of dead and injured journalists and media workers placed Pakistan ahead of Iraq and Mexico as the world’s most dangerous country for journalists and media workers.

The killings have continued into 2011, with at least three journalists murdered in targeted attacks, including the killing of Nasrullah Afridi in Peshawar on May 10 and Syed Saleem Shahzad, whose body was found just yesterday.

We are deeply disturbed by Shahzad’s brutal murder, following his abduction in Islamabad on May 29. We note reports by Human Rights Watch that the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) may have been involved in his disappearance. We also note the potential connection between Shahzad’s murder and an article he published on May 27 about alleged links between Al-Qaeda and Pakistan Navy officials. We appeal to the Government of Pakistan and its security agencies to move with utmost urgency to identify Shahzad’s killers and bring to them to justice.

We fully appreciate the great difficulties confronting all people in Pakistan at this time. However, we also know that Pakistan has the resources and expertise to conduct credible investigations into murders of journalists and to bring culprits to justice.

Yet this is not happening and a culture of impunity prevails. Of all the murders of journalists in Pakistan over many years, the identification and prosecution of culprits has occurred only once in recent memory – in the internationally high-profile case of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

Pakistan’s law-enforcement authorities and security agencies at the provincial and federal levels have consistently failed to show the will to conduct full and proper investigations into all other murders of journalists in Pakistan.

Just a few examples where reports of investigations into murders are long overdue include the following:

• Hayatullah Khan, murdered, June 2006 in North Waziristan, after being abducted in December 2005.
• Allah Noor, murdered, Wana, February, 2005.
• Chishti Mujahid, murdered, February 2008, Quetta.
• Abdul Razzak Johra, murdered, Mianwali district, Punjab, November, 2008.
• Musa Khan Khel, murdered, Swat, February 2009.

The highly publicised investigation carried out by Peshawar High Court Judge Mohammed Reza Khan shortly after the killing of Hayatullah Khan has never been made public, despite repeated calls from the PFUJ and international media support groups.

In April 2009, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and its district affiliates urged your Government to set up a judicial commission to investigate the murder of Khan Khel. This followed an independent investigation by the Khyber Union of Journalists and the PFUJ after local authorities failed to initiate their own inquiry. We await results in this case.

In early 2010, the then Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Sumsam Ali Bukhari, acknowledged that Pakistan’s authorities and Interior Ministry had a responsibility to identify and arrest suspects. He gave an assurance to PFUJ members that the Sindh Government had been instructed to conduct a thorough investigation into the killing of Ashiq Ali Mangi in Khairpur, Sindh province, in February 2010. We await results in this case.

With respect, we remind you that your Government has a responsibility to protect and defend the rights of journalists and the media, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1738.

As a signatory to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and to the 1997 Additional Protocol on the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), the Government of Pakistan and its security forces are obliged to ensure the protection of journalists as civilians.

Article 13 of Protocol II states: “The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.”

The 2006 Security Council Resolution, which stresses the civilian status of journalists reporting in war zones and crisis areas within national borders, stipulates: “… that all parties to an armed conflict comply fully with the obligations applicable to them under international law related to the protection of civilians in armed conflict, including journalists, media professionals and associated personnel.”

Under the laws of Pakistan, the federal and provincial governments have a duty to require that law enforcement and security authorities utilise appropriate and transparent policing and judicial means to fully investigate all murders and disappearances of journalists.

We fully support the PFUJ in its recent request to Minister Malik to initiate and oversee a comprehensive inquiry and report into the killings of journalists in all of Pakistan’s provinces. We look forward to full public disclosure of all evidence and official records.

We further call on you to work with the PFUJ and Pakistani and international media support groups to establish an independent taskforce to act promptly on the findings of the Malik inquiry, including through the pursuit of full and proper investigations and prosecutions of cases.

Again, we respectfully request that you use your authority to reverse the culture of impunity and act on the grave concerns held by the international community of journalists and press freedom defenders for the welfare of our colleagues in Pakistan.

In the absence of investigations and the prosecution of offenders, the State is failing to provide the necessary deterrent to those who would use violence to silence and intimidate journalists and restrict the right of all people in Pakistan to information.

Yours Respectfully,

The Undersigned

1. Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (Alliance of Independent Journalists)
2. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
3. ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression
4. Association of Caribbean Media Workers
5. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
6. Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
7. Center for Media Studies & Peace Building
8. Centre for Independent Journalism
9. Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala
10. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
11. Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
12. Freedom Forum
13. Freedom House
14. Free Media Movement
15. Globe International
16. Hong Kong Journalists Association
17. Independent Journalism Center
18. Index on Censorship
19. International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
20. IPS Communication Foundation
21. Maharat Foundation (Skills Foundation)
22. Media Foundation for West Africa
23. Media Institute of Southern Africa
24. Media Rights Agenda
25. Media Watch
26. Mizzima News
27. National Union of Somali Journalists
28. Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d’édition et de création
29. Pacific Islands News Association
30. Pakistan Press Foundation
31. Public Association “Journalists”
32. Southeast Asian Press Alliance
33. South East European Network for the Professionalization of the Media
34. Thai Journalists Association
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ)

Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead — ‘huh’ said Pakistani leadership

A massive failure on Pakistan’s part – I was nodding in agreement with CIA’s Panetta when he said either they (Pakistani govt, army, intelligence) are incompetent or involved; there is no third plausible explanation. For years we’ve been told that the military and the air force are well prepared to guard Pakistan’s borders; Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are not in Pakistan; We are fight someone else’s war; There are no good Taliban; The US trusts us etc etc. The stark contrast between each statement and Pakistan are making conspiracy theorists wildest dreams come true. Conspiracy theories after Osama Bin Laden’s death have been doing the rounds. Here are a few questions some real, some stretching imaginations and some plainly comical.

1. Are the stories about links between Osama, Omar Saeed Sheikh, ISI, and the CIA are a decade old?
2. Are the fuzzy facts of the recent Bin Laden killing accurate?
3. Who ordered to shoot Bin Laden in the head and dump his body in the sea?
4. Will AlQaeda” seek revenge?
5. Are the 5 videos released by Pentagon real or fake? When were they shot?
6. Is it Osama Bin Laden watching his own video or is it someone else?
7. Will face another humiliation if Nukes are taken away in a dark night?
8. How capable is the PAF as Air Defence command had no coverage on the Western sector?
9. Did the US use hi-tech stealth helicopters?
10. Will Pakistan hand back Osama’s wives and evidence capture from the abbottabad compound?
11. Did Osama resist arrest?
13. Were the 2 airborne PAF F-16s not allowed to engage?
14. Are Pakistan’s nuclear assets well guarded?
15. Is Osama really dead? Was he dead in 2002? goo.gl/9LaHa
16. Why does the U.S. account of the attack keeps changing?
17. Why the fishy decision to bury him at sea – Muslim ritual, or deep-sea coverup?
18. Do those who don’t believe Obama was born in the U.S also don’t believe Osama was killed in Pakistan?
19. Did The U.S. just stage a fake attack to make us think they did?
20. Did Obama do it to trump Donald Trump who’s been questioning Obama’s birthplace?
21. Was Osama killed, but not when they say he was?
22. Why now?
23. Did the U.S use Osama’s terror to launch the Global War on Toothpaste, sunscreens, face creams and murderous moisturizers?
24. Was Osama killed but not HOW they say he was. Was the attack botched?
25. Was Osama just a secret agent? Were the 9/11 bombings really a U.S. government operation led by Osama?
26. Did the CIA killed him because Osama knew too much, so they went to Pakistan to silence him permanently?
27. Who gave the order of an assassination rather than a capture and trial?
28. Why isn’t there a photograph of bin Laden’s body?
29. Was he actually buried at sea?
30. Was Bin Laden transported from Pakistan to Afghanistan for DNA analysis, then was taken to be buried somewhere in the northern Arabian sea?
31. Was the U.S. govt afraid that the gravesite could be used as a shrine?
32. When will the exact location of Bin Laden’s final resting place be known?
33. Why is there a lack of photographic evidence?
34. Why did the killing happen at the eighth anniversary of President George W. Bush’s so-called “Mission Accomplished” speech?
35. Is this coincidence an opportunity to use “Mission Accomplished” as a rallying cry or a carefully planned public relations act?
36. Did Bin Laden originally deny having any involvement in the 9/11 attacks?
37. DID the 2001 video released by Pentagon show a man Pres Bush believed was bin Laden confessing to planning the attacks?
38. Was it really his sister as Osama was identified through facial recognition and DNA provided by the brain of his deceased sister?
39. Why did killing coincidentally happen as it was the beginning of Zombie Awareness Month?
40. Why was living near the capital city, beside a training academy; undetected by military forces?
41. Why aren’t there any videos or REAL interviews after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001?
42. Why did the Americans not take Osama‘s wives?
43. Who will lead Al Qaeda?
44. ………

Do you have any unanswered questions???


Posted in Uncategorized by osamabinjavaid on May 3, 2011

Death of Osama bin Ladin-Respect for Pakistan’s Established Policy Parameters on Counter Terrorism

The Government of Pakistan recognizes that the death of Osama bin Ladin is an important milestone in fight against terrorism and that the Government of Pakistan and its state institutions have been making serious efforts to bring him to justice.

However, the Government of Pakistan categorically denies the media reports suggesting that its leadership, civil as well as military, had any prior knowledge of the US operation against Osama bin Ladin carried out in the early hours of 2nd May 2011.

Abbottabad and the surrounding areas have been under sharp focus of intelligence agencies since 2003 resulting in highly technical operation by ISI which led to the arrest of high value Al Qaeda target in 2004. As far as the target compound is concerned, ISI had been sharing information with CIA and other friendly intelligence agencies since 2009. The intelligence flow indicating some foreigners in the surroundings of Abbottabad, continued till mid April 2011. It is important to highlight that taking advantage of much superior technological assets, CIA exploited the intelligence leads given by us to identify and reach Osama bin Ladin, a fact also acknowledged by the US President and Secretary of State, in their statements. It is also important to mention that CIA and some other friendly intelligence agencies have benefitted a great deal from the intelligence provided by ISI. ISI’s own achievements against Al Qaeda and in War on Terror are more than any other intelligence agency in the World.

Reports about US helicopters taking off from Ghazi Airbase are absolutely false and incorrect. Neither any base or facility inside Pakistan was used by the US Forces, nor Pakistan Army provided any operational or logistic assistance to these operations conducted by the US Forces. US helicopters entered Pakistani airspace making use of blind spots in the radar coverage due to hilly terrain. US helicopters’ undetected flight into Pakistan was also facilitated by the mountainous terrain, efficacious use of latest technology and ‘nap of the earth’ flying techniques. It may not be realistic to draw an analogy between this undefended civilian area and some military / security installations which have elaborate local defence arrangements.

On receipt of information regarding the incident, PAF scrambled its jets within minutes. This has been corroborated by the White House Advisor Mr John Brennan who while replying to a question said, “We didn’t contact the Pakistanis until after all of our people, all of our aircraft were out of Pakistani airspace. At the time, the Pakistanis were reacting to an incident that they knew was taking place in Abbottabad. Therefore, they were scrambling some of their assets. Clearly, we were concerned that if the Pakistanis decided to scramble jets or whatever else, they didn’t know who were on those jets. They had no idea about who might have been on there, whether it be US or somebody else. So, we were watching and making sure that our people and our aircraft were able to get out of Pakistani airspace. And thankfully, there was no engagement with Pakistani forces. This operation was designed to minimize the prospects, the chances of engagement with Pakistani forces. It was done very well, and thankfully no Pakistani forces were engaged and there were no other individuals who were killed aside from those on the compound.”

There has been a lot of discussion about the nature of the targeted compound, particularly its high walls and its vicinity to the areas housing Pakistan Army elements. It needs to be appreciated that many houses occupied by the affectees of operations in FATA / KPK, have high boundary walls, in line with their culture of privacy and security. Houses with such layout and structural details are not a rarity.

Questions have also been asked about the whereabouts of the family members of Osama bin Ladin. They are all in safe hands and being looked after in accordance with law. Some of them needing medical care are under treatment in the best possible facilities. As per policy, they will be handed over to their countries of origin.

Notwithstanding the above, the Government of Pakistan expresses its deep concerns and reservations on the manner in which the Government of the United States carried out this operation without prior information or authorization from the Government of Pakistan.

This event of unauthorized unilateral action cannot be taken as a rule. The Government of Pakistan further affirms that such an event shall not serve as a future precedent for any state, including the US. Such actions undermine cooperation and may also sometime constitute threat to international peace and security.

Pakistan, being mindful of its international obligations, has been extending full and proper cooperation on all counter terrorism efforts including exchange of information and intelligence. Pursuant to such cooperation, Pakistan had arrested several high profile terrorists.

The Government of Pakistan and its Armed Forces consider support of the people of Pakistan to be its mainstay and actual strength. Any actions contrary to their aspirations, therefore, run against the very basis on which the edifice of national defence and security is based. Pakistan Army and intelligence agencies have played a pivotal role in breaking the back of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in Pakistan as well as around the World. Most of the successes achieved by the US and some other friendly countries have been the result of effective intelligence cooperation and extremely useful military support by Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan and its security forces have resolved to continue their fight against terrorism till people of Pakistan can live in peace and security.


Mon, May 2, 2011 at 12:27 PM
Death of Osama bin Ladin

In an intelligence driven operation, Osama Bin Ladin was killed in the surroundings of Abbotabad in the early hours of this morning. This operation was conducted by the US forces in accordance with declared US policy that Osama bin Ladin will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world.

Earlier today, President Obama telephoned President Zardari on the successful US operation which resulted in killing of Osama bin Ladin.

Osama bin Ladin’s death illustrates the resolve of the international community including Pakistan to fight and eliminate terrorism. It constitutes a major setback to terrorist organizations around the world.

Al-Qaeda had declared war on Pakistan. Scores of Al-Qaeda sponsored terrorist attacks resulted in deaths of thousands of innocent Pakistani men, women and children. Almost, 30,000 Pakistani civilians lost their lives in terrorist attacks in the last few years. More than 5,000 Pakistani security and armed forces officials have been martyred in Pakistan’s campaign against Al-Qaeda, other terrorist organizations and affiliates.

Pakistan has played a significant role in efforts to eliminate terrorism. We have had extremely effective intelligence sharing arrangements with several intelligence agencies including that of the US. We will continue to support international efforts against terrorism.

It is Pakistan’s stated policy that it will not allow its soil to be used in terrorist attacks against any country. Pakistan’s political leadership, parliament, state institutions and the whole nation are fully united in their resolve to eliminate terrorism.

Guilty until proven innocent: Fighting terror with discrimination

Posted in News, Pakistan Curent Affairs by osamabinjavaid on January 13, 2010

Visiting US envoy Richard Holbrooke says that he has to go through screening as well so the new US airport security measures are justified. The evidence on the ground and the outcry from Pakistan suggests otherwise.

Travelers from Pakistan are to undergo “extra security screening” according to new rules put in place by the Obama administration. With Pakistan bearing the unparalleled brunt of the war on terror and as no passenger with a Pakistani passport has directly caused panic at a US airport, the measure seems harsh. Owing to a strict and very stringent visa policy, a majority of people who visit the US from Pakistan are either businessmen or other professionals. As i called a few frequent travelers, they fear (nervous jokes) that they will be arrested when they land in the US if they spoke to someone named Osama. Adding to their ire is the fact of being screened and in long queues at home, they will be subject to humiliating behavior of US airport security staff. Students fear cavity searches and businessmen are afraid of a night in detention for even having a muslim name. A few female members of some families have changed itineraries for the US as their non-fluency in English may lead to an untoward incident, some of these women have been traveling to and from the US for decades. Human rights groups have long argued that such draconian practices are discriminatory and are against basic human rights. The latest measure brings into question the billions of tax payers money being spent on intelligence gathering and sharing. Foreign policy experts are calling it over the top. One expert says that the concerns are legitimate and understandable but more sensible ways can be devised.

Commuters fear that unless the screening is applicable across the board regardless of nationality or passport, the discriminatory measures will add to their woes. Bitter comments from Pakistani ruling circles as well as the public are already doing the rounds. With the drone saga already fueling anti US sentiments, such measures can only add to the outrage. Many in Pakistan have started asking for harsh conditions for travelers from the US. One analyst believes that Pakistan must reciprocate with making cavity searches and separate queues for flights originating from the US but later argues that due to the donor-recipient relationship, Pakistan cannot take any drastic steps. The local papers murmured of terror conspiracies being hatched in the West against Pakistan citing the Americans recently held in Sargodha, John Walker Lindh, US disregard for Pakistani sovereignty, Black Water in Pakistan etc. A senior executive said that all of this has been happening since 9/11, only it was never this explicit.

There is tenacious skepticism being faced by the US in Pakistan and Washington must refrain from aggravating the situation. The new security measures are forcing the Left wing parties such as the PPP to utter right wing words to calm the sentiments. The PM, President and the foreign office have had to join the chorus of public outrage and anger against what is being seen as anti-Pakistan policies despite the country’s best efforts to fight a US proxy war which turned into its own. After the mess of US foreign policy after the Bush era, the Obama administration faces a mammoth task of fixing the image. More thought needs to go into relationship with a key ally – and specially one with critical mass which can derail the fledgling democratic setup. A system desperately needed by Pakistan and the United States.

Perhaps policy makers ought to read Benjamin Franklin who said “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Benazir Bhutto: The dark side of the revered princess

Here is a compilation of posts in the past few years regarding Benazir Bhutto. My favourite line is …” Let us not speak ill of the dead, but can we please also stop exaggerated praise of them? Benazir Bhutto was not the saviour of Pakistan, if anyone is.  Can we please also learn to distinguish between ‘democracy’ and liberty, and -come to that – the rule of law.”

No disrespect intended but here are a few dark chapters which shouldn’t be left aside. But giving up your life for a cause you believe in, also deserves respect and acknowledgment.


Benazir’s tragic failure
Michael Fathers

The apotheosis of Benazir Bhutto the martyr has begun. Her grave in the arid soil of Sind Pro vince on her family’s feudal estate has become a shrine. Pilgrims visit it every day. Soon there will be reports of miracles. Her gender, her youthfulness, her sense of victimhood, her bravery and the violent manner of her death made this inevitable. Beyond Sind, in other provinces and the rest of the world, she has become a much easier figure to worship and adore in death than the deeply flawed politician she was in life.

Bhutto’s essays on Islam and democracy, published posthumously under the title Reconciliation, are seen as a last and “valuable” testament by American admirers of hers, the Democrats Edward Kennedy, Madeleine Albright and Peter Gal braith (son of J K) and Walter Isaacson, the former boss of Time magazine and CNN. For those less elevated persons, the book brings her back to earth with a bump. The real Benazir is among us again, bossing the reader about, dissembling or ignoring facts that don’t fit her image or record, such as being prime minister of Pakistan when the country enthusiastically swung its support behind the newly emergent Taliban in Afghan istan’s civil war. She talks about “my party”, even though the Pakistan People’s Party has never held an election for officers in its 40 years of existence. She writes poor and often factually incorrect political histories of other countries with the overconfidence of a clever teenager.

In many ways this disjointed book has the same feel as a university student’s end-of-degree dissertation. The editing is haphazard. There is even a map of Pakistan where Rawalpindi, the garrison-town headquarters of the Pakistan armed forces, is placed in the southern half of Punjab, when it should be 500 miles north, next door to Islamabad. It needs an index, especially of Arabic words and Quranic terms.

It would seem from the “acknowledgements” that a platoon of researchers, led by a former political enemy but now “loyal friend” – Hussain Haqqani, a student activist of Pakistan’s fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party and later spokesman and propagandist for her rival Nawaz Sharif – dug through the archives and the Quran to find the facts and verses she needed for her central arguments. These are that democracy is integral to Islam and is not a modern import as fundamentalist interpreters argue; that dictators and extremism have no place in the Quran; and that moderation, dialogue and consensus, and a Benazir favourite, “religious pluralism”, are the word of God. Only by following this course will Muslim societies be revitalised and Muslim countries regain their self-confidence, their respect and their “competitive edge”, another Benazir favourite.

It is an interesting section of the book, but it has the feel of Benazir deciding an agenda and adding her notes to another person’s text. The problem with this kind of research is that her Islamic opponents can trawl through the Quran and the religious commentaries in the same way and come up with their own, equally valid counter-interpretations of God’s will.

The predictable message she has for the west, and for the United States in particular, is to back off from military rulers and other autocrats on the grounds that whenever people’s rights have been denied, instability has eventually taken over and extremists stepped into the gap. When it comes to her own country she blames everyone but herself and her prime minister father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, for its decline. Not surprisingly, both father and daughter emerge as politicians with vision and integrity who were thwarted all the way by Pakistan’s armed forces and a coalition of foreign-financed political rivals. Her achievements, apart from being elected prime minister, are hard to find. They peaked apparently when she “modernised” the Karachi Stock Exchange – which probably meant she reduced the number of duplicates needed for a transaction – and sent students into the countryside, Mao-style, to ensure that children were immunised against polio.

It is the final section, the one from which the book takes its title, that sets out the way Muslims should end their divisions and how the rich of the world – the European Union, North America, China, Australia, Japan and the Muslim oil-producing states – can help and benefit, too. She wants to establish a Marshall Plan for the re generation of Muslim-majority countries that would focus on economic, social and political development. She expects this to destroy the “roots of terrorism”.

Visionary, or waffle? From the moment Benazir Bhutto entered politics, she sounded good, her speeches read well, and she was appealing. She could play the victim, the humble woman, the populist and the demagogue. Like her father, she held the crowd in her hands. In the end, however, it was simply power and international status that she sought and enjoyed.

She always made the right noises. She followed political fashion, skipping easily from socialism to Thatcherism. She enjoyed analysing, usually aloud. Yet solutions to difficult problems, even simple problems, escaped her. This book is pure Benazir, a grand display, intellectually and politically thin.

How the US got Benazir Bhutto back to Pakistan
Robin Wright and Glenn Kessler

FOR Benazir Bhutto, the decision to return to Pakistan was sealed during a telephone call from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just a week before Ms Bhutto flew home in October.

The call came after more than a year of secret diplomacy — and came only when it became clear that the heir to Pakistan’s most powerful political dynasty was the only one who could bail out Washington’s key ally in the battle against terrorism.

It was a stunning turnaround for Ms Bhutto, a former prime minister who was forced from power in 1996 amid corruption charges. She was suddenly visiting with top State Department officials, dining with UN ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and conferring with members of the National Security Council.

As President Pervez Musharraf’s political future began to unravel this year, Ms Bhutto became the only politician who might help keep him in power.

“The US came to understand that Bhutto was not a threat to stability, but was instead the only possible way that we could guarantee stability and keep the presidency of Musharraf intact,” said Mark Siegel, who lobbied for Ms Bhutto in Washington, and witnessed much of the behind-the-scenes diplomacy.

Ms Bhutto’s political comeback was a long time in the works — and uncertain for much of the past 18 months. In mid-2006, Ms Bhutto and Mr Musharraf started communicating through intermediaries about how they might co-operate. Assistant US Secretary of State Richard Boucher was often an intermediary, travelling to Islamabad to speak with Mr Musharraf and to meet Ms Bhutto at her homes in London and Dubai.

Under US urging, Ms Bhutto and Mr Musharraf met face to face in January and July in Dubai, according to US officials. It was not a warm exchange, with Mr Musharraf resisting a deal to drop corruption charges so she could return to Pakistan. He made no secret of his feelings.

In his 2006 autobiography, In the Line of Fire, Mr Musharraf wrote that Ms Bhutto had “twice been tried, been tested and failed, (and) had to be denied a third chance”. She had not allowed her own party to become democratic, he alleged. “Benazir became her party’s ‘chairperson for life’, in the tradition of the old African dictators!”

A turning point was Ms Bhutto’s three-week US visit in August, when she talked again to Mr Boucher and to Mr Khalilzad, an old friend. A former US ambassador in neighbouring Afghanistan, Mr Khalilzad had long been sceptical about Mr Musharraf, and while in Kabul he had disagreed with then secretary of state Colin Powell over whether the Pakistani leader was being helpful in the fight against the Taliban.

He also warned that Pakistani intelligence was allowing the Taliban to regroup in the border areas, US officials said.

When Ms Bhutto returned to the US in September, Mr Khalilzad asked for a lift on her plane from New York to Aspen, Colorado, where both were giving speeches. They spent much of the five-hour plane ride planning strategy, said sources familiar with the diplomacy.

Friends say Ms Bhutto asked for US help. “She pitched the idea to the Bush Administration,” said Peter Galbraith, a former US ambassador and friend of Ms Bhutto from their days at Harvard.

“She had been prime minister twice, and had not been able to accomplish very much because she did not have power over the most important institutions in Pakistan — the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence Agency), the military and the nuclear establishment,” he said. “Without controlling those, she couldn’t pursue peace with India, go after extremists or transfer funds from the military to social programs,” Mr Galbraith said. “Cohabitation with Musharraf made sense because he had control over the three institutions that she never did.”

The turning point to get Mr Musharraf on board was a September trip by Deputy US Secretary of State John Negroponte to Islamabad.

“He basically delivered a message to Musharraf that we would stand by him, but he needed a democratic facade on the Government, and we thought Benazir was the right choice for that face,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and National Security Council staff member. “Musharraf still detested her, and he came around reluctantly as he began to recognise that his position was untenable,” Mr Riedel said.

The Pakistani leader had two choices: Ms Bhutto or former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, whom Mr Musharraf had overthrown in a 1999 military coup. “Musharraf took what he thought was the lesser of two evils,” Mr Riedel said.

“There were many inside the Administration, at the State and Defence departments and in intelligence, who thought this was a bad idea from the beginning because the prospects that the two could work together to run the country effectively were nil,” he said.

As part of the deal, Ms Bhutto’s party agreed not to protest against Mr Musharraf’s re-election in September to his third term. In return, Mr Musharraf agreed to lift the corruption charges against Ms Bhutto. But Ms Bhutto sought one particular guarantee — that Washington would ensure Mr Musharraf followed through on free and fair elections producing a civilian government.

Dr Rice, who became engaged in the final stages of brokering a deal, called Ms Bhutto in Dubai and pledged that Washington would see the process through, according to Mr Siegel. A week later, on October 18, Ms Bhutto returned. Ten weeks later, she was dead.

The Dismantling of Pakistani Democracy

We Pakistanis live in uncertain times. Emergency rule has been imposed for the 13th time in our short 60-year history. Thousands of lawyers have been arrested, some charged with sedition and treason; the chief justice has been deposed; and a draconian media law — shutting down all private news channels — has been drafted.

Perhaps the most bizarre part of this circus has been the hijacking of the democratic cause by my aunt, the twice-disgraced former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. While she was hashing out a deal to share power with Gen. Pervez Musharraf last month, she repeatedly insisted that without her, democracy in Pakistan would be a lost cause. Now that the situation has changed, she’s saying that she wants Musharraf to step down and that she’d like to make a deal with his opponents — but still, she says, she’s the savior of democracy.

The reality, however, is that there is no one better placed to benefit from emergency rule than she is. Along with the leaders of prominent Islamic parties, she has been spared the violent retributions of emergency law. Yes, she now appears to be facing seven days of house arrest, but what does that really mean? While she was supposedly under house arrest at her Islamabad residence last week, 50 or so of her party members were comfortably allowed to join her. She addressed the media twice from her garden, protected by police given to her by the state, and was not reprimanded for holding a news conference. (By contrast, the very suggestion that they might hold a news conference has placed hundreds of other political activists under real arrest, in real jails.)

Ms. Bhutto’s political posturing is sheer pantomime. Her negotiations with the military and her unseemly willingness until just a few days ago to take part in Musharraf’s regime have signaled once and for all to the growing legions of fundamentalists across South Asia that democracy is just a guise for dictatorship.

It is widely believed that Ms. Bhutto lost both her governments on grounds of massive corruption. She and her husband, a man who came to be known in Pakistan as “Mr. 10%,” have been accused of stealing more than $1 billion from Pakistan’s treasury. She is appealing a money-laundering conviction by the Swiss courts involving about $11 million. Corruption cases in Britain and Spain are ongoing.

It was particularly unappealing of Ms. Bhutto to ask Musharraf to bypass the courts and drop the many corruption cases that still face her in Pakistan. He agreed, creating the odiously titled National Reconciliation Ordinance in order to do so. Her collaboration with him was so unsubtle that people on the streets are now calling her party, the Pakistan People’s Party, the Pervez People’s Party. Now she might like to distance herself, but it’s too late.

Why did Ms. Bhutto and her party cronies demand that her corruption cases be dropped, but not demand that the cases of activists jailed during the brutal regime of dictator Zia ul-Haq (from 1977 to 1988) not be quashed? What about the sanctity of the law? When her brother Mir Murtaza Bhutto — my father — returned to Pakistan in 1993, he faced 99 cases against him that had been brought by Zia’s military government. The cases all carried the death penalty. Yet even though his sister was serving as prime minister, he did not ask her to drop the cases. He returned, was arrested at the airport and spent the remaining years of his life clearing his name, legally and with confidence, in the courts of Pakistan.

Ms. Bhutto’s repeated promises to end fundamentalism and terrorism in Pakistan strain credulity because, after all, the Taliban government that ran Afghanistan was recognized by Pakistan under her last government — making Pakistan one of only three governments in the world to do so.

And I am suspicious of her talk of ensuring peace. My father was a member of Parliament and a vocal critic of his sister’s politics. He was killed outside our home in 1996 in a carefully planned police assassination while she was prime minister. There were 70 to 100 policemen at the scene, all the streetlights had been shut off and the roads were cordoned off. Six men were killed with my father. They were shot at point-blank range, suffered multiple bullet wounds and were left to bleed on the streets.

My father was Benazir’s younger brother. To this day, her role in his assassination has never been adequately answered, although the tribunal convened after his death under the leadership of three respected judges concluded that it could not have taken place without approval from a “much higher” political authority.

I have personal reasons to fear the danger that Ms. Bhutto’s presence in Pakistan brings, but I am not alone. The Islamists are waiting at the gate. They have been waiting for confirmation that the reforms for which the Pakistani people have been struggling have been a farce, propped up by the White House. Since Musharraf seized power in 1999, there has been an earnest grass-roots movement for democratic reform. The last thing we need is to be tied to a neocon agenda through a puppet “democrat” like Ms. Bhutto.

By supporting Ms. Bhutto, who talks of democracy while asking to be brought to power by a military dictator, the only thing that will be accomplished is the death of the nascent secular democratic movement in my country. Democratization will forever be de-legitimized, and our progress in enacting true reforms will be quashed. We Pakistanis are certain of this.

Fatima Bhutto is a Pakistani poet and writer. She is the daughter of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, who was killed in 1996 in Karachi when his sister, Benazir, was prime minister.

Born to rule, bred to lose
By Emily MacFarquhar

She may be a world-class crowd pleaser but Benazir Bhutto is no politician. She spent 20 months in power making enemies while her rivals were busy making political pacts. This is why, although she roused the biggest and most fervent rallies in a lackluster campaign, she was not just defeated but demolished at the polls last week.

Stunned by the loss of half her parliamentary seats, Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister cried foul. In some precincts, 35 percent more votes were cast last week than in the last election two years ago, but a team of international observers said it had found no evidence of widespread electoral fraud.

In any event, what brought Bhutto crashing down was not ballot rigging. She lost because her opponents were cleverer at exploiting the flukes in the British-style electoral system and because even illiterate voters turned out to be savvy enough to switch their votes to the party with the best chance of beating Bhutto. When the National Assembly meets to choose a Prime Minister next month, Bhutto’s 45 People’s Party members will be overwhelmed by an Islamic Democratic Alliance that controls two thirds of the 217-seat house.

Many Pakistanis were put off by a one-sided drive to discredit Bhutto after she was dismissed by presidential order last August. The same “neutral” President Ghulam Ishaq Khan gave an election-eve speech that sounded like an anti-Bhutto commercial. But voters were even more outraged by the blundering and plundering of Bhutto’s rule. Her party’s 36 percent of the popular vote was its lowest share in the four elections since it was founded more than 20 years ago.

Pakistanis voted to throw the rascals out. But they may have succeeded only in bringing another lot of rascals in. Many of the rich businessmen and landlords who will replace the Bhutto team have less than spotless reputations. One of them piled up an implausibly high margin in last week’s vote. But because the new government will have such a big majority, party leaders will have less incentive than they did under Bhutto’s shaky regime to rely on big-time bribery to keep members in line.

Household names. In an issueless election, anti-American, anti-Indian and pro-nuclear rhetoric filled the vacuum. Pakistan may be the only country in the world where a populist like Bhutto can harangue 100,000 people for nearly an hour on the subject of nuclear power plants (good) and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (bad). Two days later on the same parade ground in Rawalpindi, a leading mullah invoked such household names as Representative Stephen Solarz (D-N.Y.), Senate aide Peter Galbraith and lobbyist Mark Siegel as evidence that Bhutto was dealing with the devil and marshaling a Zionist conspiracy against Pakistan.

The mood of fierce patriotism whipped up by irresponsible politicians on both sides augurs hard bargaining ahead over terms for freeing up U.S. aid, now barred because of advances this year in Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons program. Pakistan is ill-placed to make good on its threats to go it alone because its foreign-exchange reserves are down to a few weeks’ worth of imports, military spare parts are running short and the Gulf crisis is costing the country some $ 1 billion to $ 1.6 billion a year. Prices of key commodities will have to rise, perhaps by 40 percent.

But Pakistan has weathered worse crises. And Bhutto’s successors start with one enormous asset she never had: The blessing of the generals, who proved they are still the ultimate arbiters of power by dumping Benazir Bhutto last summer, just as they had ousted her father from the same office 13 years ago. Even under Bhutto, the generals were left to run Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons program and the guerrilla wars in Afghanistan and Kashmir. So the change in government is unlikely to have much effect on Pakistani policy in any of the three areas most important to America.

Nor is Bhutto herself likely to change. A never-say-die fighter, she is sure to carry on fighting now — to vindicate herself and her family on the opposition benches, in the courts and in the international media. The dogged pugnaciousness that sustained her during years of imprisonment and exile may do so again. The irony is that it was this same uncompromising quality that precipitated her downfall by alienating Pakistan’s power brokers and polarizing its voters.

“Benazir was loved by some and hated by more when she came to power two years ago,” says pollster Ijaz Gilani, the head of Gallup Pakistan. “Since then, she has deepened the lines of hatred even further.” It was the consolidating of this anti-Bhutto feeling in politically pivotal Punjab that cost her the election.

“She never made the transition from being leader of a crusade to being a governing Prime Minister,” a close friend explains. Her long crusade to defend and then avenge her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was executed by Mohammed Zia ul-Haq’s military regime in 1979, became a one-woman show as his old comrades progressively peeled off in anger. It imprinted a siege mentality, put a premium on loyalty and reinforced a belief that democracy in Pakistan is synonymous with Bhutto-family rule.

A family fief. This sense of entitlement also derived from the Bhuttos’ position as large landowners in rural Sind Province, where feudal lords still command the kind of fealty that went out of fashion in Europe centuries ago. Bhutto’s mother, Nusrat, for example, was re-elected from the family fief last week without even setting foot in the country, much less her constituency, during the campaign. She and her daughter will be the only two women in the newly elected assembly.

Being a Bhutto, which is Pakistan’s equivalent of being a Kennedy, is clearly central to Benazir’s identity. It weighs far more heavily than the seven years she spent getting educated and acclimatized in Western ways at Harvard and Oxford. It explains why she surrounded herself with courtiers rather than counselors. Along with a total lack of experience — her Prime Ministership was her first salaried job — it accounts for some of the staggering misjudgments that brought her down.

“She approached everything from a partisan view of the world,” notes a diplomatic Bhutto-watcher. “She became Prime Minister of the People’s Party, not of Pakistan.” This meant filling thousands of jobs with people whose only qualification was their “suffering” during the Zia years. The latest charges against her in the special courts set up after her dismissal are that she put 10,387 people into government jobs without going through the proper procedures. She also took on dozens of unelected advisers whose qualifications were dubious and whose advice may have been worse. But the most serious allegations are of corruption on a massive scale in her government.

A friend observes that “the Bhuttos always had a fascination for rich people and for money.” But while Bhutto wears fur coats on foreign journeys, she does not drape herself in the ostentatious jewels and glitter favored by Pakistan’s gilded lilies. Her lawyer actually complained in court about an opponent’s campaign ad that showed her with a bare head, in violation of Muslim custom.

Even anti-Bhutto voters were unready to condemn the Prime Minister as a thief. But it is hard to find anybody in Pakistan who is not convinced that her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, a former small-time developer she married three years ago, has not been using the family name to make megabucks.

The standard explanation for her failure to rein him in is that she’s madly in love with him and he knows how to manipulate her emotionally. The pop-psychological version is that she transferred to her dashing, roguish mate the blind adoration she once had for her dashing, roguish father. But the elder Bhutto also made money on the job, as did many generals and bureaucrats before and after. So it is less likely that Bhutto was blind to the transgressions of her family and ministers than that she considered payoffs and influence peddling by allies both a political necessity and a normal perquisite of office.

One of the most damaging charges against her in the courts is that she used millions of dollars in intelligence funds, as well as government aircraft, to deflect a no-confidence vote a year ago. At the time, the Prime Minister was heavily pregnant for the second time in a year, so the masterminding of “operation greasy palm” fell to her husband, a political neophyte but a skilled deal maker who already had an office in the Prime Minister’s secretariat. After the successful vote of confidence, Zardari’s personal network was enlarged to include elected politicians. But a Bhutto intimate notes that party allies considered the Zardari intervention “a hijacking of the party by an outsider.”

Pakistan’s press — newly liberated by Bhutto — began writing about her husband’s business career only a few months into her term. He already had become a kingpin in his hometown of Karachi, issuing orders to politicians and civil servants and placing cronies in key contract-dispensing jobs in public corporations.

Zardari and his father, Hakim Ali Zardari, who headed Parliament’s public-accounts committee, were said to be making money in at least three ways: By helping associates secure collateral-free loans from nationalized banks, by collecting cuts on government contracts and by doing land deals. Because the government controls so many economic levers in Pakistan, access to decision makers is a salable commodity, and nobody had better access in recent times than the Zardaris. Bhutto’s husband spent the last two weeks of the campaign under arrest. A sympathy vote may well have helped him win a Karachi seat in the National Assembly.

Bhutto and her husband have denied every allegation of personal misconduct. She also dismissed reports that some of her ministers were picking the public’s pockets. Bhutto did fire a few advisers in late 1989, after People’s Party legislators, fearing a political backlash, staged mock corruption trials of ministers allegedly on the take. But she never carried out a promised cabinet reshuffle and never showed public concern about the corruption issue. One friend who tried to alert her to trouble ahead was told, “But everybody does it.”

President Ghulam Ishaq’s charge that corruption reached unprecedented heights under Bhutto will never be provable. This is partly because there are no hard figures for comparison and partly because, as one government lawyer puts it, “there is always a missing link” — the unsigned document, the unrecorded phone call, the unwilling witness. The best estimate of bureaucratic looting in Pakistan, provided by an ex-finance minister five years ago, was $ 2 billion a year. Indexed for inflation and greed, this could have reached at least $ 3 billion, or 7 percent of the country’s GNP.

Even if Bhutto and her entourage did not steal more than their predecessors, freely elected leaders should be held to a higher standard. But in any case, corruption and ineffectiveness were only pretexts for the dismissal of the government last summer. The real reason Bhutto was booted out by the President and the Army is that she never understood the realities of Pakistani politics and never practiced the arts of consensus building or power sharing.

The story of Bhutto’s 20-month rule is a chronicle of ceaseless conflict with the very people and institutions she needed to help make government work. The President, the Army and the opposition all reciprocated her distrust, and it is not clear whether any of the three was prepared to accept the authority of this meddlesome woman. But it was Bhutto who was most often on the offensive, launching attacks on multiple fronts and pushing her enemies to make common cause against her.

Bad choices. She not only picked too many fights, she picked the wrong ones. She gave in with scarcely a murmur when the Army demanded a 50 percent increase in defense spending and sole control over policy toward Afghanistan. But she went to the wall over the promotion of her military secretary. She was right about the need to consolidate her power. But her political base was too weak and the democratic system too fragile for her to try to topple opposition governments in two provinces and at the same time challenge the President and the Army chief.

At one point, she and President Ghulam Ishaq stopped speaking for months. They resumed business not-quite-as-usual only after mediators negotiated a temporary truce. With an unerring sense of misjudgment and bad timing, Bhutto chose a moment when she and the military were at swords’ points over the handling of a near civil war in Sind Province to try to impose her own man as heir apparent to the Army chief. A few weeks later, Army commanders formally decided that Bhutto had to go. The President was putting the final touches on his dismissal speech when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Four days later, on August 6, with world attention conveniently riveted elsewhere, Bhutto was given her walking papers.

The new government, still adjusting to its unexpectedly big victory, has yet to weigh the pros and cons of seeing Bhutto disqualified from politics or even jailed. For now, its new leaders simply talk about the law taking its course. Bhutto, still digesting disaster, decided against boycotting provincial elections on October 27, but she has not yet ruled out taking her election-fraud charges to the streets. Facing an uncertain and even dangerous future, she told U.S. News, with the royal pronoun, “We’re young. We have time. But does Pakistan?”

Pakistan and Kenya

Let us not speak ill of the dead, but can we please also stop exaggerated praise of them? Benazir Bhutto was not the saviour of Pakistan, if anyone is.  Can we please also learn to distinguish between ‘democracy’ and liberty, and -come to that – the rule of law.

Voting is not a sacrament, conferring automatic goodness wherever it happens. The conditions under which it takes place, and the system of government in which it is to be found, are decisive. Elections can be rigged or improperly influenced by money or intimidation. And many votes are rigged or improperly influenced – yet still get approved by powerless, easily fooled international observers who see little and are powerless to intervene. Such votes prove nothing and help nobody. If only one party has any serious hope of victory, then the vote merely serves to confirm that party in power. If the votes are on purely clan, tribal or ethnic lines, then the election confirms that division and often worsens it. If you look carefully at the reservations above, you will find that they apply to some votes that take place within the British Isles or North America especially (in Britain) since the introduction of easy postal voting.Yet, if there is freedom of speech and of the press, if there is an independent judiciary with the power to defy the government, if law is respected and observed, a society which has no ‘democracy’ can be remarkably free and rulers remarkably accountable. Take the example of Hong Kong, which has never been particularly democratic. Despite the showy fuss made by Christopher Patten in his term as governor there, ‘democracy’ was never really the issue in the handover of Hong Kong to China. The things that needed to be preserved were freedom of speech and the press, and the rule of law. And it is these that will presumably disappear under slow pressure from Peking, long before Hong Kong is finally absorbed in the People’s Republic of China.

Democracy can often be – and often is – the enemy of freedom under the law. I have little doubt that the votes for Vladimir Putin and his puppet party in Russia are genuine.  But they are disastrous for any hopes that Russia could become a law-governed free country.  The Saarland plebiscite on return to the German Reich in 1935 (90% voted to be ruled by the Nazis when it was quite clear what they were, when they could have chosen to stay under League of Nations rule ) suggests that Hitler’s many successful referendums confirming his power and decisions were also largely genuine. I am baffled by the way so many commentators act as if democracy by itself offers much hope to any country. Britain was free long before it was democratic, and it can be argued that it has become less free since it became more democratic – and that it has survived democracy better than most because of the strength of its freedoms and its laws.

Benazir carried nuclear secrets in overcoat to North Korea: book
By Manish Chand

New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) Benazir Bhutto, then prime minister of Pakistan, carried critical nuclear data on CDs in her overcoat to Pyongyang in 1993 and brought back North Korea’s missile information on her return journey, says a new political biography of the late leader. The shocking revelation about Pakistan’s alleged role inNorth Korea’s illicit nuclear weapons programme is chronicled in detail in veteran journalist Shyam Bhatia’s “Goodbye Shahzadi”.

Bhatia, who says Bhutto acted as a “female James Bond”, has based his book on long personal conversations with the late prime minister.

“As she was due to visit North Korea at the end of 1993 she was asked and readily agreed to carry nuclear data on her person and hand it over on arrival in Pyongyang,” writes the London-based Bhatia while recalling a conversation with Bhutto in her villa in Dubai villa 2003.

“…before leaving Islamabad, she shopped for an overcoat with the ‘deepest possible pockets’ into which she transferred CDs containing the scientific data about uranium enrichment that the North Koreans wanted,” says Bhatia.

“She did not tell me how many CDs were given to her to carry, or who they were given to when she arrived in Pyongyang, but she implied with a glint in her eye that she acted as a two-way courier, bringing North Korea’s missile information on CDs back with her on the return journey,” Bhatia writes.

Bhutto’s interest in North Korean missile technology was triggered by India’s testing of the long-range Agni missile, capable of hitting all Pakistan’s population centres, in 1989, he says.

“When she came into power for the second time in 1993, there were agonized discussions underway about how Pakistan could augment and strengthen its existing missile capabilities.”

In 1993, says Bhatia, the central question was how the barter for enrichment of uranium (which Pakistan’s nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan had mastered) for missiles (North Korea) could be effected.

“Pakistan was under the spotlight as it had never been before, with India, Russia and the secret services of the West monitoring every nuance of the country’s military research.

“This was where Benazir came in useful,” the author states while trying to explain why Bhutto was chosen as a courier for this top-secret mission.

Bhatia’s candid biography of Bhutto, based on a 34-year-old friendship dating back to student days, evokes a multi-hued portrait of the Pakistani leader.

Bhutto was truly versatile, the author recalls: a sensitive human being who idolised her father and a fiery debater who became president of the Oxford Union Debating Society. He also delves into her friendship with Peter Galbraith, the son of former US ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith, and the charges of corruption that still shadows her husband Asif Ali Zardari, the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) after Bhutto was brutally killed Dec 27 last year.

The author has more details on collusion between Pakistani and North Korean nuclear scientists, which seems to confirm what many in the West suspected: the Islamabad-Pyongyang axis in non-proliferation which was in turn allegedly aided by Beijing.

Faced with mounting international pressure to shut down their plutonium facilities, North Korean scientists looked to Pakistan for help to develop a parallel enrichment programme.

Says Bhatia, “Pakistan was ideally placed to help because of the enrichment secrets that A.Q. Khan, the Dutch-trained metallurgist, had stolen from European laboratories, and who so impressed Zulfikar (Ali Bhutto, the Pakistani prime minister and Benazir’s father who was hanged in 1979) with his boast that Pakistan could match and even surpass as South Asia’s leadingnuclear weapons state.”

“Later, Khan and colleagues from the Pakistani scientific community would become regular visitors to North Korea. By 1998, there were nine military flights a month ferrying military officers and scientists between Islamabad and Pyongyang.”

Pakistan’s flawed and feudal princess
William Dalrymple

It’s wrong for the West simply to mourn Benazir Bhutto as a martyred democrat, says this acclaimed south Asia expert. Her legacy is far murkier and more complex

One of Benazir Bhutto’s more dubious legacies to Pakistan is the Prime Minister’s house in the middle of Islamabad. The building is a giddy, pseudo-Mexican ranch house with white walls and a red tile roof. There is nothing remotely Islamic about the building which, as my minder said when I went there to interview the then Prime Minister Bhutto, was ‘PM’s own design’. Inside, it was the same story. Crystal chandeliers dangled sometimes two or three to a room; oils of sunflowers and tumbling kittens that would have looked at home on the Hyde Park railings hung below garishly gilt cornices.

The place felt as though it might be the weekend retreat of a particularly flamboyant Latin-American industrialist, but, in fact, it could have been anywhere. Had you been shown pictures of the place on one of those TV game-shows where you are taken around a house and then have to guess who lives there, you may have awarded this hacienda to virtually anyone except, perhaps, to the Prime Minister of an impoverished Islamic republic situated next door to Iran.

Which is, of course, exactly why the West always had a soft spot for Benazir Bhutto. Her neighbouring heads of state may have been figures as unpredictable and potentially alarming as President Ahmadinejad of Iran and a clutch of opium-trading Afghan warlords, but Bhutto has always seemed reassuringly familiar to Western governments – one of us. She spoke English fluently because it was her first language. She had an English governess, went to a convent run by Irish nuns and rounded off her education with degrees from Harvard and Oxford.

‘London is like a second home for me,’ she once told me. ‘I know London well. I know where the theatres are, I know where the shops are, I know where the hairdressers are. I love to browse through Harrods and WH Smith in Sloane Square. I know all my favourite ice cream parlours. I used to particularly love going to the one at Marble Arch: Baskin Robbins. Sometimes, I used to drive all the way up from Oxford just for an ice cream and then drive back again. That was my idea of sin.’

It was difficult to imagine any of her neighbouring heads of state, even India’s earnest Sikh economist, Manmohan Singh, talking like this.

For the Americans, what Benazir Bhutto wasn’t was possibly more attractive even than what she was. She wasn’t a religious fundamentalist, she didn’t have a beard, she didn’t organise rallies where everyone shouts: ‘Death to America’ and she didn’t issue fatwas against Booker-winning authors, even though Salman Rushdie ridiculed her as the Virgin Ironpants in his novel Shame.

However, the very reasons that made the West love Benazir Bhutto are the same that gave many Pakistanis second thoughts. Her English might have been fluent, but you couldn’t say the same about her Urdu which she spoke like a well-groomed foreigner: fluently, but ungrammatically. Her Sindhi was even worse; apart from a few imperatives, she was completely at sea.

English friends who knew Benazir at Oxford remember a bubbly babe who drove to lectures in a yellow MG, wintered in Gstaad and who to used to talk of the thrill of walking through Cannes with her hunky younger brother and being ‘the centre of envy; wherever Shahnawaz went, women would be bowled over’.

This Benazir, known to her friends as Bibi or Pinky, adored royal biographies and slushy romances: in her old Karachi bedroom, I found stacks of well-thumbed Mills and Boons including An Affair to Forget, Sweet Imposter and two copies of The Butterfly and the Baron. This same Benazir also had a weakness for dodgy Seventies easy listening – ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree’ was apparently at the top of her playlist. This is also the Benazir who had an enviable line in red-rimmed fashion specs and who went weak at the sight of marrons glace.

But there was something much more majestic, even imperial, about the Benazir I met when she was Prime Minister. She walked and talked in a deliberately measured and regal manner and frequently used the royal ‘we’. At my interview, she took a full three minutes to float down the 100 yards of lawns separating the Prime Minister’s house from the chairs where I had been told to wait for her. There followed an interlude when Benazir found the sun was not shining in quite the way she wanted it to. ‘The sun is in the wrong direction,’ she announced. Her hair was arranged in a sort of baroque beehive topped by a white gauze dupatta. The whole painted vision reminded me of one of those aristocratic Roman princesses in Caligula

This Benazir was a very different figure from that remembered by her Oxford contemporaries. This one was renowned throughout Islamabad for chairing 12-hour cabinet meetings and for surviving on four hours’ sleep. This was the Benazir who continued campaigning after the suicide bomber attacked her convoy the very day of her return to Pakistan in October, and who blithely disregarded the mortal threat to her life in order to continue fighting. This other Benazir Bhutto, in other words, was fearless, sometimes heroically so, and as hard as nails.

More than anything, perhaps, Benazir was a feudal princess with the aristocratic sense of entitlement that came with owning great tracts of the country and the Western-leaning tastes that such a background tends to give. It was this that gave her the sophisticated gloss and the feudal grit that distinguished her political style. In this, she was typical of many Pakistani politicians. Real democracy has never thrived in Pakistan, in part because landowning remains the principle social base from which politicians emerge.

The educated middle class is in Pakistan still largely excluded from the political process. As a result, in many of the more backward parts of Pakistan, the feudal landowner expects his people to vote for his chosen candidate. As writer Ahmed Rashid put it: ‘In some constituencies, if the feudals put up their dog as a candidate, that dog would get elected with 99 per cent of the vote.’

Today, Benazir is being hailed as a martyr for freedom and democracy, but far from being a natural democrat, in many ways, Benazir was the person who brought Pakistan’s strange variety of democracy, really a form of ‘elective feudalism’, into disrepute and who helped fuel the current, apparently unstoppable, growth of the Islamists. For Bhutto was no Aung San Suu Kyi. During her first 20-month premiership, astonishingly, she failed to pass a single piece of major legislation. Amnesty International accused her government of having one of the world’s worst records of custodial deaths, killings and torture.

Within her party, she declared herself the lifetime president of the PPP and refused to let her brother Murtaza challenge her. When he persisted in doing so, he ended up shot dead in highly suspicious circumstances outside the family home. Murtaza’s wife Ghinwa and his daughter Fatima, as well as Benazir’s mother, all firmly believed that Benazir gave the order to have him killed.

As recently as the autumn, Benazir did and said nothing to stop President Musharraf ordering the US and UK-brokered ‘rendition’ of her rival, Nawaz Sharif, to Saudi Arabia and so remove from the election her most formidable rival. Many of her supporters regarded her deal with Musharraf as a betrayal of all her party stood for.

Behind Pakistan’s endless swings between military government and democracy lies a surprising continuity of elitist interests: to some extent, Pakistan’s industrial, military and landowning classes are all interrelated and they look after each other. They do not, however, do much to look after the poor. The government education system barely functions in Pakistan and for the poor, justice is almost impossible to come by. According to political scientist Ayesha Siddiqa: ‘Both the military and the political parties have all failed to create an environment where the poor can get what they need from the state. So the poor have begun to look to alternatives for justice. In the long term, flaws in the system will create more room for the fundamentalists.’

In the West, many right-wing commentators on the Islamic world tend to see the march of political Islam as the triumph of an anti-liberal and irrational ‘Islamo-fascism’. Yet much of the success of the Islamists in countries such as Pakistan comes from the Islamists’ ability to portray themselves as champions of social justice, fighting people such as Benazir Bhutto from the Islamic elite that rules most of the Muslim world from Karachi to Beirut, Ramallah and Cairo.

This elite the Islamists successfully depict as rich, corrupt, decadent and Westernised. Benazir had a reputation for massive corruption. During her government, the anti-corruption organisation Transparency International named Pakistan one of the three most corrupt countries in the world.

Bhutto and her husband, Asif Zardari, widely known as ‘Mr 10 Per Cent’, faced allegations of plundering the country. Charges were filed in Pakistan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States to investigate their various bank accounts.

When I interviewed Abdul Rashid Ghazi in the Islamabad Red Mosque shortly before his death in the storming of the complex in July, he kept returning to the issue of social justice: ‘We want our rulers to be honest people,’ he said. ‘But now the rulers are living a life of luxury while thousands of innocent children have empty stomachs and can’t even get basic necessities.’ This is the reason for the rise of the Islamists in Pakistan and why so many people support them: they are the only force capable of taking on the country’s landowners and their military cousins.

This is why in all recent elections, the Islamist parties have hugely increased their share of the vote, why they now already control both the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan and why it is they who are most likely to gain from the current crisis.

Benazir Bhutto was a courageous, secular and liberal woman. But sadness at the demise of this courageous fighter should not mask the fact that as a pro-Western feudal leader who did little for the poor, she was as much a central part of Pakistan’s problems as the solution to them.

To the Editor:

Re ”Bhutto’s Deadly Legacy” (Op-Ed, Jan. 4):

I agree with William Dalrymple’s assessment of Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan. In July 1990, I accompanied Alan Cranston, the California Democrat who at the time was the Senate majority whip, to India and Pakistan. He wanted to show bipartisan support for confidence-building measures offered by Robert M. Gates, the deputy national security adviser, to avert the possibility of a war between the de facto nuclear powers over common claims of territory in Indian-held Kashmir.

Prime Minister Bhutto played a dangerous double game of inflaming popular passions over Kashmir while portraying herself to the world, and to us over lunch, as a voice of moderation.

Peter Galbraith, a friend of Ms. Bhutto and a fellow staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, gamely tried to interpret one of Ms. Bhutto’s more inflammatory speeches urging direct action against India as merely a rhetorical flourish — something neither Senator Cranston nor I bought at the time.

Martin Edwin Andersen

Churchton, Md., Jan. 4, 2008

To the Editor:

William Dalrymple’s Op-Ed article reminded me, again, how the truth is so refreshing, especially when it highlights what so many pundits, armchair historians and diplomats who kneel at the altar of realpolitik fail to appreciate: that blowback is the most likely consequence when Machiavellian politicians unleash the power of fear, hatred and greed even when, theoretically, it is in the pursuit of national interests deemed ”vital.” James P. Cornelio

New York, Jan. 4, 2008

To the Editor:

William Dalrymple makes some excellent points about Benazir Bhutto’s legacy. Her assassination was a devastating event, but it does require an objective look back.

Both of Ms. Bhutto’s tenures as prime minister were marked by rampant corruption and, as Mr. Dalrymple points out, the encouragement of fundamentalist elements.

It is blatant revisionism for those in the United States to ignore her shortcomings.

From this Pakistani observer’s perspective, President Pervez Musharraf was coerced by the United States into dropping all charges against Ms. Bhutto and putting together a coalition.

Ms. Bhutto, perhaps in a bid for further American approval, was far too vocal about eradicating fundamentalism and then ignored sensible advice regarding her security (a necessity, given her statements).

On the day she died, it seems the adrenaline from her recent rally made her forget about safety and put her head out of the vehicle. It is thus that she met her destiny, and a unique personality was lost. Malik Arshed Gilani

Karachi, Pakistan, Jan. 6, 2008

The writer is a former officer of the Pakistani Navy and an independent businessman.

A year of Zardari – Sardar Mumtaz Ali Bhutto

The present dispensation is the direct result of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s murder. It is believed that the deal sponsored by the Americans between Musharraf and her, was “Plan A.” She deviated from this on her return to Pakistan and had to be eliminated. This is a view recently supported by Gen (Retd.) Aslam Baig, former chief of army staff. Thus, the standby “Plan B” came into operation and her long-estranged husband came on the scene. A controversial and often-questioned will emerged, according to which Asif Ali Zardari was made co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party.

It is not astonishing or surprising that Plan B has worked. The rot that set in with Zia’s success in corrupting not just politics but the very mindset of people, and is a practice advanced by all his successors to facilitate a shortcut to power. Thus even the most sceptical elements in the PPP found it expedient to climb onto the Zardari bandwagon. High offices, membership of assemblies, advisory positions and access to the corridors of power was just around the corner, and it became imperative to pretend that the emperor was fully clothed. “Democracy is the best revenge” was the absurd slogan coined to bury the murder of Benazir, while referring the matter to a UN tribunal was done to seek a permanent closure of this sordid chapter.

Thus began the journey to Olympus at the foot of Margalla Hills fuelled by the endless use of the “Jiay Bhutto” slogan and crocodile tears for Benazir. Meanwhile, people continued to be fed the stale promise of not only their supremacy but the forty-year-old clichés of roti, kapra aur makan and that democracy was gospel and Parliament sovereign. To this was added the concept of reconciliation and change of the system. So at the end of a year of Zardari’s presidency, let us see where we stand:

The negation of the promise of the supremacy of the people is the unkindest cut of all. They have been abandoned to murderers, thieves, kidnappers and highly corrupt jiyalas and bureaucrats who are on the rampage. Instead of making policies and initiating reforms that bring progress and prosperity, addiction to begging is being spread through the Benazir Income Support Programme. For a paltry one thousand rupees a month, men and women are made to prostrate themselves in the heat and dust, most of them returning empty-handed. As for provision of cheap flour this is nothing short of an insult to the people since the majority get nothing even if they are lucky enough to escape a beating by the police. Moreover, this is not enough: when they get home there is no electricity and water while education and medical treatment remains only for the fortunate. Other basic amenities are also scarce and the whole administrative edifice has collapsed. Yes, there is plenty of roti, kapra aur makan, but only for the rulers and their sycophants.

As for democracy, there is none. What we have is only a change of faces from the Musharraf days. Almost two years have passed but both the 17th Amendment and Article 58 (2)(b) of the Constitution are still there. The repeated promise to restore the superior judges was fulfilled only after the pressure of the long march was too much to bear. As for the powers of the president and the prime minister, currently they are being exercised all by the president. The president undertakes trips to sign commercial deals, which is normally the job of federal secretaries. He has taken trips to China where he received no presidential protocol. He went to France to sign an agreement to purchase submarines, even though it was reported in the newspapers that cheaper subs were being offered by Germany, and that such a deal was reportedly in its final stages. And then there are the frequent mysterious trips to Dubai and London. All this raises serious question since on many trips the president is accompanied by individuals who in the past had been accused of corruption, and some were even convicted – but then exonerated thanks to the immoral and unconstitutional NRO.

As regards the supremacy of Parliament this has become a cruel joke. Laws are continuously being made not by legislation but by presidential ordinances – and this is being done even when Parliament is in session. Another issue is the prosecution of Musharraf under Article 6 which, for some reason, has been made contingent upon a unanimous resolution in Parliament despite the fact that the consent of the institution’s members is not at all need for such action.

Vital problems, issues and questions of policy, relating to the dismal and rapidly deteriorating state of affairs in the country, are not brought on the floor of the House, which is also debilitated by the doctrine of reconciliation. This has all but put to rest the safeguards and checks provided by a valid and effective opposition, and the result is that the government has a free run to do whatever it likes. At the same time, another consequence is that Parliament is reduced to just being a heavy burden on the exchequer with each member enjoying pay and perks amounting to around half a million rupees a month. Ninety ministers and advisers in the centre alone, where only twenty have been enough, with each costing a hundred thousand rupees per day, is also an aspect of this “reconciliation.”

As for the change of system, it seems that for the president this means to replace all of the Musharraf era’s favourite officers with his own. The country is still caught in a highly centralised and dictatorial mode of governance – something which has led to its break-up in the past and which is generating dangerous fissures now as well. Pakistan is no longer free. It is sinking deeper into foreign control and into a war in its northwest which is not of our own choice and can never be won. The writ of the central government does not operate in Pakhtoonkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab, while Sindh is in the grip of criminals as personified by the late Rehman Dakait. The government is totally helpless – and there is no better example of this than its abject failure in controlling the price of sugar and advice by ministers to eat less sugar (on the apparent grounds that it is bad for health).

Some other shocking facts are: The country is barely surviving on earnings of Pakistanis abroad and internal and external loans. No aid is available despite the president’s overseas visits (with a begging bowl, of course). The Friends of Pakistan Forum, set up to bail out Pakistan, has not been forthcoming in its help and is also said to be having doubts on how Pakistan will spend the funds given to it. As for aid from America, it is now being promised in small instalments, and only after each instalment has been checked with regard to its utilisation. Transparency International has disclosed that in 2004 around 45 billion rupees were lost as a result of corruption and that by 2009 the figure will have risen to 195 billion rupees. The Fund for Peace located in Washington has placed Pakistan at number ten on the list of failed states while previously it stood at number 12, reason for this being lack of leadership and dubious measures such as NRO.

This epitomises one year of Zardari’s rule as president – quite possibly the worst this unfortunate nation has endured in its sixty-two years of existence.

The writer is chairman of the Sindh National Front.


A serving of Media Review 2009

I was getting tired of watching year reviews when I stumbled across this list of everything in 2009. http://www.fimoculous.com/year-review-2009.cfm

I’ve taken out the most interesting bits from the media industry…happy reading!

The Year in Media Errors and Corrections

Media Person(s) of the Year

Top 25 Censored Stories for 2010

10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger

The Top 10 Everything of 2009

2009: Year of Terrorism

Is democracy a good thing? join the debate…

AGAINST: I don’t think that more democracy is a good thing – democracy in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan is a nonsensical idea, to my mind. What we, and they, need is good governance – I think the most important criteria for economic growth is to have a government that is not corrupt and that has stable institutions.
FOR: The pursuit of idealism makes me a watchdog on the walls of society (ie a journalist).

Agreed that the concept of democracy being one-size-fits-all is flawed. Bangladesh for instance is doing pretty well with its military interventions on corrupt politicians and au contraire the US is doing just fine with the idealism being complimented with lobbying and corruption. So its a matter of perspective really whether you look at it from the Noam Chomsky school of thought or the Amy Goodman activism.
I’ve witnessed people give seats to elderly on crowded buses in Pakistan and I’ve seen the British behaving like cattle during a tube strike. So good governance is relevant, but in my opinion lower on the nation-building priority list.

Empowering people with justice and basic human rights is the only way to build soceity regardless of the regime it follows. Democracy by far is the imperfect system which has been tried, tested and implemented. Why reinvent the wheel?
AGAINST: I disagree with you. China is not a democracy but it has alleviated more poverty and improved the condition of its people (education, health, all social indicators) than India which is a democracy. Noam Chomsky is very smart but completely irrelevant I feel – comparing advanced western democracies with third world developing countries is meaningless in terms of demoracy. The States is democratic, Pakistan is run by a feudal-military nexus that is not democratic in the least.
And Bangladesh is not doing pretty well – its populace is desperately poor and uneducated.
In my view justice and improving human rights comes second and third to good governance and stability. Economic growth is the most powerful impetus that leads to better rights for a countrys citizens.

Is Obama reading the Soviet guidebook?

…what is your view on what should happen in Afghanistan? I believe that a country should be ruled by the democratic principles of the early Chartists and Tom Paine etc..they are my moral compasses over here not knowing yours aside from Muhammed Jinnah of course… self determination. However is there the will there to protect the way of life that allows women and girls to be educated?
What should be done internally and how can people in these western countries involved help?

I was asked this question by a friend and here’s what I think

Afghanistan is a mess and a by product of the cold war. It has reached this state due to plundering both intentional and unintentional by vested interests of internal and external powers. The CIA funded extremist literature and brain washing created monstrous killing machines, not in numbers but in generations. The Pakistani intelligence knowingly remained a tool because it could salvage 2 cents from the dollars being pumped in. The foreign fighters aren’t acceptable to Pakistan or Afghanistan and their home countries sure as hell dont want them back. Not all the foreign fighters became Jihadi machines, some were doctors, some engineers, some preachers who settled down and had families. Bear in mind we are talking about a period of over 30 years. The geography of the area has tribal customs dating back to centuries. The tribals are hospitable people with traditions such as PakhtoonWali and doing everything to protect who they deem as guests.

I need to bore you with the background because the future is closely linked to learning from the past. After 9/11 they changed their minds and with a snap of their fingers wanted to mow down on beliefs and ideologies they had sown for decades.

Its a myriad of muddles which each successor with no foresight has complicated even more, both on the home and the international front and now there is no easy fix. The easiest solution which would’ve had lasting impact was education. Call me an optimist but I only see prosperity clubbed with knowledge giving people a sense of belonging and responsibility, as the solution.

War brings destruction and creates divides which run deeper with each battle. You’d become a suicide bomber if all of your family was hit by a ‘friendly’ mortar and charred everyone you loved alive in front of your eyes. Believe me I have come across people with such harrowing tales. Give them something to lose and then let them guard it. Take away everything and you have an unpredictable weapon which can explode in your face.

The only way the west can help is empowering democracy. Not the Karzai style, Washington/London approved version but the actual will of the people. Let the Taliban get the vote, let them come to power then set ground rules. You cannot wish them away as they are a mighty force the west created and if it took three decades to build it, it will take at least double the time to dismantle it. Build schools, build hospitals, build power stations, build roads – when they destroy them – build them again. That is the only solution.

Obama administration maybe on the right track but they have to do more to gain trust. The CIA’s counter plans of securing Pakistan’s nukes, just in case, of taking over Kabul, just in case, of securing Islamabad, just in case; are the white man’s burden Washington needs to put to rest. Until the double game is being played, there is no solution to Afghanistan or to Pakistan’s tribal areas no matter how many troops you send in.

Accept yesterday’s mistakes and facilitate a prosperous tomorrow.