April 2008

Vol 7 - No. 10
























SOUTH ASIA - Pakistan | April 2008




                News Briefs                  

        Applying Marx to Pakistan       


 (Afghanistan and Myanmar in the 
  map are not members of SAARC)

On US Army Plans to send "trainers"
For God's Sake, don't...!


The news all over the media is that the US army "is developing a plan to send around 100 trainers to work with a Pakistani paramilitary force that is the vanguard in the fight against Al-Qaeda and other groups in Pakistan's restive tribal areas." This report further states that "US trainers initially would be restricted to training compounds, but with Pakistani consent could eventually accompany Pakistani troops on missions 'to the point of contact' with militants as American trainers now do with Iraqi troops in Iraq." Eventually, the Pentagon plans to build a training base and spend more than $400 million over the next several years on this project. US officials are giving the impression that all of this is being planned as a benevolent act of American altruism and generosity to help a friendly country (Pakistan) to fight a counterinsurgency that is threatening its very existence. 

In other words, in America's view (and of the apologists for Musharraf's and the US perspective in Pakistan), Pakistan is facing so-called 'extremism' and 'terrorism' on its soil and the war against it will have to continue indefinitely. The implicit message is that the 'war on terror' is neither only an American war nor one of General (retd) Musharraf's exclusively designed political doctrine - it is Pakistan's war, where a specific segment of its citizenry (especially Pashtuns in the northern area of the country) have gone ideologically berserk (because Islam is violent) seeking martyrdom for hoors (heavenly beauties) in the life hereafter. The road to this imaginary Heavenly Kingdom is sought by these misled miscreants by identifying Bush's noble and cavalier America as the enemy. In addition, all those who support Bush's so-called worthy enterprise of democracy and freedom are on the death list of these gone-mad Muslim terrorists.

Indeed, this whole approach is absurd. In fact, all this anti-Islamic propaganda is a set-up to plan American military presence in Pakistan that will expand gradually with time and finally give the Americans a permanent military base (or bases) from which to conduct its global agenda of economic-military-political expansion all the way to the Central Asian Islamic States. It is precisely for this reason that the Americans are supporting Musharraf's presidency and prefer to deal with a general (retd) rather than a democratic establishment in Islamabad.

If Pakistan has to survive as a peaceful progressive democratic nation then four matters will have to be settled at once: First, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf will have to go immediately; this will deprive the Americans of their vital contact and present control over instant decision-making in Islamabad (in accordance with their dictates). Equally important is the need to develop political processes by which all matters relating to any kind of military or civil engagement with the United States will have to be decided in the Pakistani parliament by a competent and appropriate legislative body. Three, Pakistan's military establishment from now on should have only an advisory role (through parliamentary hearings) even when business with the US is purely of a military nature. Fourth, in all matters pertaining to American engagement with Pakistan, the media's involvement as a forum of debate will have to be an integral mechanism of political decision-making in this country. This will promote the democratic process and public input in national policy-making.

However, the immediate concern that Pakistan's newly elected parliament should have is the Pentagon's plan to send over 100 American trainers to the work with and train the Frontier Corps, paramilitary forces of nearly 85,000 members recruited from ethnic groups on the border. For God's sake, don't let this happen. It is a plan, if it materialises, that will have catastrophic effects and lasting impacts on Pakistan's recently elected democratic establishment's ability to promote its own independence, free of American pressures, and to pursue its national interests in all of its political-military decision-making vis-à-vis the US.

What Pakistan generals, successive political establishments and foreign-policy managers have failed to understand, time and again, are the American political strategies and fundamentals that operate behind its military planning. It would be instructive for the in-coming Pakistani government in Islamabad to have an in-depth review of American intensions, historically documented, that the placement of military advisors and trainers is a first step towards procuring permanent military bases all over the world. This is always projected as benevolent behaviour of a superpower towards a friendly country (in fact, towards pro-American orchestrated dictatorships and elitist regimes). It happened in the pre-and-post WWII era. It happened all over Latin and South America. It happened in the pre-and-post Vietnam war. It happened in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and in every nook and corner around the world wherever the Americans could spread their reach for economic and political exploitation and the promotion of ideological capitalism. It is happening now in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and has been happening in the Middle East forever. The American appetite for political control and economic exploitation is insatiable.

It is to be thoroughly understood that the US is a country that thrives on the continuation and expansion of conflicts and promotes them globally as a part of its foreign policy enterprise. The plan to send 100 military trainers to Pakistan is an integrated part of the American conflict-promotion venture that would escalate internal political strife and antagonism and would eventually give the US an opportunity to expand its military presence in this country - a step towards its future plan to subdue the entire region from Pakistan all the way to Central Asia.
With the possibility of Musharraf gone, the newly elected Pakistani political leadership has a historical chance to alter the nature of future global politics. History has its own precious moments - visionary leadership can capture this golden opportunity thrust on it by the fast changing events and transform its own destiny as well as have an impact on humanity's future. The issue of 100 American trainers coming to Pakistan, at its face-value, seems inconsequential and of rather marginal importance. But the fact of the matter is that it is NOT - consult anyone who understands American history, its temperament, its arrogance, its plans and strategies and, above all, its ability to inflict terror and you will be told: 

For God's sake, don't let America do it... Don't let America destroy our nation...! For God's sake, don't let America pitch us against each other... Don't let America make us kill each other...! For God's sake, let's not sell ourselves to America... This is what the Pakistani people must force its political leadership to respect... its verdict to be a sovereign independent nation!

Dr. Haider Mehdi is a Professor, Global Politics Analyst and a Media & Conflict-Resolution Management Consultant.  He writes a weekly column in The Nation of Pakistan.  Dr. Mehdi's publications include 6 books on politics, the latest being The Nemesis, which was published in November 2007 by Heritage Publications, Lahore.  He also writes poetry in English. This article first appeared in The Nation. The writer's email address: hl_mehdi@hotmail.com

News Briefs

Taliban set terms for talks with Government: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said on March 30, 2008, that it was ready for talks with the Government, provided that Islamabad reverses its pro-American policies. TTP leaders told a rally in the Inayat Kalay Bazaar of Bajaur Agency in the FATA that they welcomed Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani’s announcement that the Government would negotiate with the Taliban and end the Frontier Crimes Regulations. Gillani said on March 20 that fighting terrorism would be his top priority and offered to hold talks with those militants who laid down their weapons. TTP leaders, including Maulana Faqir Muhammad, Maulana Sher Bahadar, Muhammad Ismail, and party spokesman Maulana Omar, also demanded the implementation of Sharia law and the jirga system according to tribal traditions. They also said jihad against America would continue in Afghanistan. However, they added that they were ready to end their activities and improve law and order in Pakistan if the Government showed flexibility. The TTP leaders stated that the Taliban were defenders of the country and that Pakistan’s western border was safe because of them. Daily Times, March 31, 2008.

Dawood Ibrahim gang merges with Lashkar-e-Toiba in Pakistan: The Times of India, quoting intelligence agencies, has reported that underworld gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s ‘D-Company’ in Pakistan is now officially a part of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT)’s terror network. The merger has been described as a part of the plan by the Pakistani external intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), to further increase its anti-India campaign. A senior Indian intelligence official, confirming the merger, stated, "The underworld gang and the Lashkar jihadis have been knocked into a single entity and this has serious implications for India's internal security." Times of India, March 28, 2008.

Yousuf Raza Gillani to be Prime Minister: On March 22, 2008, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) named Yousuf Raza Gillani as its nominee for the post of Prime Minister. A Speaker of the National Assembly during Benazir Bhutto’s second tenure in power from 1993-1996, Gillani is a PPP leader from Multan in the Seraiki region of southern Punjab. He spent five years in jail from 2001, after being convicted by an anti-corruption court set up by the Gen. Pervez Musharraf regime. In a statement, party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari said Gillani was the consensus candidate of the PPP and its coalition partners to take on the "heavy responsibility [to] lead the coalition Government and the nation to greater heights and a glorious future." The Hindu, March 23, 2008.

Five soldiers killed in suicide attack near brigade headquarters in South Waziristan: On suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into a military vehicle in front of the brigade headquarters at Zari Noor in South Waziristan on March 20, 2008, killing five soldiers and injuring 11 others. A man claiming to be a spokesman for the pro-government militant commander Maulana Nazir claimed responsibility for the attack. "We have declared that mujahideen will soon avenge the death of their colleagues in the missile strike (on Sunday)," Commander Malang told Dawn from an undisclosed location. It is for the first time that Nazir’s group has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack. Nine militants were killed and 10 others wounded when three missiles hit a compound in the Shah Nawazkot area near Wana on March 16, 2008. Dawn, March 21, 2008.

30 persons killed in twin suicide attacks in Lahore: At least 30 people were killed and more than 200 sustained injuries in suicide blasts at the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) headquarters and an advertising agency office in Lahore on March 11, 2008. The first attack was carried out at the FIA regional headquarters on Temple Road, severely damaging the eight-storey establishment and adjacent buildings. The building also housed the offices of a special US-trained counter-terrorism unit. The suicide bombers on a pick-up rammed through the gate of the building, running over a policeman before blowing up the vehicle. The second attack was carried out on Bungalow No 83/F in Model Town – the office of an advertising agency. Two children and a gardener died in the bombing and about 12 people were injured. The advertising agency is located near Bilawal House, office of the Pakistan People’s Party. Police said around 50kg and 30kg of explosives, respectively, had been used in the two attacks. Daily Times; Dawn, March 12, 2008.

PPP and PML-N sign agreement on power sharing at the centre and in Punjab: On March 9, 2008, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) agreed on a power-sharing formula to form a coalition Government at the Centre and in Punjab. The parties also decided to re-instate the judges sacked on November 3, 2007, through a resolution in Parliament, within 30 days of the formation of the Federal Government. "The PPP and the PML-N undertake to form a coalition [government] for a democratic Pakistan," PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif read from a declaration he and PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari signed at the joint Press Conference in Bhurban. According to the deal, the Prime Minister and the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly will be from the PPP, and the Federal Cabinet will include Ministers from the PML-N. The Punjab Chief Minister and the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Assembly will be from the PML-N and the Provincial Cabinet will include Ministers from the PPP. Daily Times, March 10, 2008.

Eight persons killed in twin suicide bombings at Navy War College in Lahore: Eight persons were killed and 24 others sustained injuries when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the parking area of the Pakistan Navy War College in Lahore on March 4, 2008. The incident occurred at around 1:10 pm (PST) when classes in the Pakistan Navy War College were in progress. Eyewitnesses and Police officials said five Navy officials and two suicide bombers died on the spot while one Navy official succumbed to injuries at a hospital. The incident occurred when a suicide bomber, riding a motorcycle, rammed into the College gate and blew himself up while making way for his accomplice to the parking lot, which was packed with official vehicles. The second suicide bomber, who was standing at some distance from the gate, rushed to the parking lot and triggered his explosive device. The News, March 5, 2008.

42 people killed in suicide bombing in NWFP: 42 people were killed and at least 58 others were wounded in a suicide bombing at a tribal peace jirga (council) near the Zarghunkhel check-post in Darra Adam Khel in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) on March 2, 2008. The jirga of Zarghunkhel, Akhurwal, Sheraki, Bostikhel and Toor Chapper tribes had been convened to discuss the formation of a Lashkar (army) to drive militants out of the area. A severed head was reportedly found at the site and officials believed it was that of the bomber. Some people identified the teenager as a youth from the Sheraki area of Darra Adam Khel. Dawn, March 3, 2008.

35 Frontier Constabulary personnel dismissed in NWFP for refusing to fight Taliban: The District Government of Bannu in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) has dismissed 35 Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel from service for laying down their weapons and refusing to fight the Taliban. According to details, the Taliban had attacked an FC check-post sometime in 2007, snatched ammunition from the FC soldiers and subsequently abducted them. Later, the FC personnel were released reportedly after successful negotiations mediated by a jirga (council). However, the Federal Government directed authorities to take stern action against the FC personnel. During investigations, it came to light that Taliban militants had abducted the FC personnel without any resistance. The authorities directed to dismiss the FC personnel who surrendered to the Taliban. The Post, March 1, 2008.

40 persons killed in suicide bombing at slain Police officer’s funeral in NWFP: 40 people were killed and more than 75 others sustained injuries when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the funeral prayers of the slain Deputy Superintendent of Police (Lakki Marwat), Javed Iqbal Khan, in the Mingora city of Swat District in NWFP on February 29, 2008. Among the dead were a son of the deceased Police officer, Ghazan Khan, and the Station House Officer of Mingora Police Station, Habib Jamal. District Police Officer Waqif Khan said the bomber was among the people taking part in the funeral. Deputy Superintendent of Police Iqbal had earlier died on the same morning along with three other policemen in the troubled southern Lakki Marwat District. The News; Dawn, March 1, 2008.

Suicide bomber kills Army’s Surgeon General and seven persons in Rawalpindi: Suicide bomber killed eight people, including the Pakistan Army’s surgeon general, in Rawalpindi on February 25 – the highest-ranking military officer killed since the country joined the US-led war on terror. Lieutenant General Mushtaq Baig, Surgeon General and Director-General of the Army’s Medical Services, died after a teenage suicide bomber blew himself up next to a military convoy on a busy road in Rawalpindi. Five civilians were also killed, while 25 others were injured, an Army statement said. "This was the first suicide attack in Pakistan in which a high-ranking military official has been killed since 9/11 and also the first attack after the election," AFP quoted Abbas as saying. Dawn, February 26, 2008.

[Source: South Asian Intelligence Review]


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