Huge Brides on the Move


Truck art is one of the great folk arts of Pakistan. These heavy machines affectionately called “brides” by truckers are covered mostly in vivid bright multilayered colors and fairy lights which have a talismanic function of warding off evil spirits and promote good luck – something one needs in plenty when navigating our roads.
But apart from this magical effect, truckers have another romance with these brightly colored vehicles as Salamat a typical truckwala admits that he spends more on decorating his truck than he paid for his second marriage a couple of years ago. “I spend most of my time in my truck. It’s like a second home to me” says Salamat. 
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PAKISTAN’S

BIGGEST ART SHOW ON ROADS

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by Umair Ghani

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Truck art, as any one knows, is one of the great folk arts of Pakistan. These heavy machines affectionately called “brides” by truckers are covered mostly in vivid bright multilayered colors and fairy lights which have a talismanic function of warding off evil spirits and promote good luck – something one needs in plenty when navigating our roads. But apart from this magical effect, truckers have another romance with these brightly colored vehicles.

Salamat a typical truckwalaadmits that he spends more on decorating his truck than he paid for his second marriage a couple of years ago. “I spend most of my time in my truck. It’s like a second home to me” says Salamat. (more…)

Obama, the Democratic ‘War President’


Many n this country believe that it’s only the Bush administration which is putting pressure on Pakistan to do more. Surprisingly a more serious voice has come from Democratic party’s nominee Sen. Barack Obama.

Eric Margolis

Now that our democratically elected Prime Minister is on a visit to the United States, he has on his schedule a meeting with the US President, George Walker Bush. However much before his journey, voices started coming up from Washington for a strong action, a terminology which in US administration’s political jargon means a war. War against whom? Against US’s most allied ally in the world – Pakistan. Many political pundits & strategists in Pentagon put forward the thesis that Pakistan is not doing enough to curb the activities of Taliban in its federally administered tribal areas (FATA).

Many in this country believe that it’s only the Bush administration which is putting pressure on Pakistan to do more. Surprisingly a more serious voice has come from Democratic Party’s nominee Sen. Barack Obama who said once he is elected he might attack Pakistan in FATA to flush out Taliban in the region and thus secure a safe position for ESAF troops in Afghanistan.

It’s in this scenario that noted columnist and analyst Eric Margolis evaluates Obama’s statement and the effect it might have on the already explosive situation in the region.

Barack Obama wants to withdraw US troops from Iraq and send them to Afghanistan, which he calls the real front on the “war on terror.” He also has repeated threats to attack Pakistan “if necessary.”

One understands Obama’s need to sound macho. Rival John McCain has been beating his chest, proclaiming, “I know how to win wars.” Polls show Americans trust McCain three to one over Obama as a war leader. Unfortunately, recent US presidents seem to require small military conflicts to prove their political virility.

But Obama has long called the US-led occupation of Afghanistan a “good war,” a view most Americans and Canadians share. They see Afghanistan – and now Pakistan – as hotbeds of al-Qaida and Taliban terrorists that must be eradicated.

It is distressing to see
Obama succumb to the blitz of war propaganda over Afghanistan and adopt George Bush’s faux terminology of terrorism. Before Obama urges widening America’s war there, he should consider:

• Al-Qaida never numbered more than 300 men. There are hardly any left in Afghanistan. Survivors scattered into Pakistan. Finding them is police and intelligence work, not a job for thousands more western troops.

• US policy towards Afghanistan is driven by energy geopolitics. Pacification of rebellious Pashtun tribesmen is necessary in order to build energy pipelines south from the Caspian Basin. That is the primary strategic mission of US and Canadian troops.

• Taliban fighters are not “terrorists.” Taliban was founded as a fundamentalist Muslim religious movement of Pashtun tribesmen to fight banditry, rape, drugs, and Afghan Communists. Taliban received millions in US aid until four months before 9/11. It had no part in 9/11 and knew nothing about them. The US overthrow of Taliban resulted in the Communists resuming control over half of Afghanistan. Under US occupation, Afghanistan has become a narco-state that supplies over 90% of the world’s heroin.

• Pashtun tribes comprise half of Afghanistan’s population, and 15% of neighboring Pakistan’s people. The western powers are involved in an old-fashioned, colonial-style pacification campaign against the Pashtun Taliban. Imperial Britain, the Soviets, and now the US and its allies all employed the same classical colonial strategy: using puppet rulers, local mercenary troops, and lavish bribes to enforce their will. Afghans who resist get bombed.

• Before urging expansion of the Afghan war, Obama should total up the bill for America’s military misadventures. As of last January, according to the Pentagon and data revealed under the Freedom of Information Act, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars cost 72,043 American battlefield casualties. Veteran’s Administration hospitals have treated 263,909 veterans from these wars and registered over 245,000 disability claims.

No one knows how many Iraqis and Afghans have been killed. The number could be over one million. Just last week over 50 Afghans in a wedding party were killed by a US air strike. But without the constant use of massive air power, including B-1 bombers, the US could not maintain its occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan.

• According to a Democratic Congressional committee report, the two wars will cost $1.6 trillion by the end of 2008, or $16,500 per US family of four – not counting the cost of borrowing money to pay for the wars.

Obama and McCain believe Afghan resistance can be crushed by more brute force. They are wrong. More western troops and more bombed villages will mean fiercer Afghan resistance.

The war is now seeping into Pakistan, a nation of 165 million. Obama’s threats to attack Pakistan and go after its nuclear arsenal are reckless and extremely dangerous. He appears headed over the same cliff as those would-be “war presidents, Bush and McCain. As the head of NATO recently admitted, political settlement, not bombs, is the only way to end the unnecessary Afghan war.

Is Obama beginning to fall under the influence of the same military-petroleum complex that guided Bush’s imperial-minded presidency? Could Pakistan become a disaster for the Democrats as Iraq was for Republicans?

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Eric Margolis, contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World.
Copyright © 2008 Eric Margolis Image source: NoApprentMotive.org
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The coming US invasion of Pakistan


Widening the Afghan War into Pakistan is military stupidity on a grand scale and political madness. It could very well end up a bigger disaster than Iraq. But Washington and its obedient allies seem hell-bent on charging into a wider regional war that no number of heavy bombers will win.
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THE MARCH TO FOLLY ON THE AFGHAN BORDER

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by Eric Margolis

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The killing of 11 Pakistani soldiers by US air strikes last month showed that the American-led war in Afghanistan is relentlessly spreading into Pakistan, one of America’s oldest, most faithful allies.

Pakistan’s military branded the air attack “unprovoked and cowardly.” However, the unstable government in Islamabad, led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which depends on large infusions of US aid, later softened its protests. This is in good part because the PPP leader, Asif Zardari, is being shielded from judicial corruption investigations through a quiet deal with President Pervez Musharraf and Washington to thwart reinstatement of Pakistan’s ousted Supreme Court justices.

The US, which used a B-1 heavy bomber and F-15 strike aircraft in the attacks, called its action, “self-defense.”

What actually happened on the wild Pakistan-Afghanistan border remains murky. But there are reports that US and Pakistani troops engaged in a direct clash and heavy firefight that was ended by the American bombing.

In recent months, US aircraft, Predator hunter-killer drones, US Special Forces and CIA teams have been launching attacks inside Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghan border. The Pashtun tribes inhabiting this traditionally autonomous mountain region are ardent supporters of their fellow Afghan Pashtuns who form the core of Taliban and reject the current Afghan-Pakistan border, known as the Durand Line, as an artificial creation of British imperialism – which it undeniably was.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been openly advocating major ground and air attacks by US forces into Pakistan. American neoconservatives have been denouncing Pakistan as a “rogue state” and a “sponsor of international terrorism,” and are calling for US air and missile strikes against Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and reactors.

But instead of intimidating the pro-Taliban Pakistani Pashtun, limited US air strikes flown from secret US bases inside Pakistan have ignited a firestorm of anti-western fury among FATA’s warlike tribesmen and increased their support for Taliban. Pakistanis are united in their opposition to any US strikes into their nation and enraged at the United States for supporting dictator Pervez Musharraf.

The US is emulating Britain’s colonial divide and rule tactics by offering up to $500,000 to local Pashtun tribal leaders to get them to fight pro-Taliban elements, causing more chaos in the already turbulent region, and stoking old tribal rivalries. The US is using this same tactic in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These deadly US attacks pointedly again illustrate the fact that the 60,000 US and NATO ground troops in Afghanistan are incapable of even holding off Taliban and its allies, even though the Afghan resistance has nothing but small arms to battle the west’s high-tech arsenal. Further evidence was supplied by an audacious Taliban raid on Kandahar prison, which liberated 450–500 Taliban prisoners and humiliated Canadian and NATO forces policing the region.

US air power is almost always called in when there are clashes with Taliban or other anti-western forces. In fact, US and NATO infantry’s main function is to draw Taliban into battle so the Afghan mujahidin can be bombed from the air.

Without the round the clock overhead presence of US airpower, which can respond in minutes, western forces in Afghanistan would risk being isolated, cut off from supplies, and defeated. A sizeable portion of NATO manpower in Afghanistan already goes to defending bases and supply depots. However, NATO’s long supply lines that bring in fuel, food, and ammunition across FATA from US-run bases in Pakistan are increasingly under attack. Forty giant fuel tankers were recently destroyed at the Torkham border crossing.

But these deadly air strikes, as we have seen in recent weeks, are blunt instruments. Guerilla wars are all about controlling civilian populations. The US air attacks often kill as many or even more civilians than Taliban fighters. Dead civilians are routinely described away as “suspected Taliban fighters.”

Mighty US B-1 heavy bombers are not going to win the hearts and minds of Afghans. Each bombed village and massacred caravan wins new recruits to Taliban and its allies.

Now, the US and its NATO allies are edging ever closer to open warfare against Pakistan at a time when they are unable to defeat Taliban fighters inside Afghanistan due to lack of combat troops. The outgoing commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, US Gen. Dan McNeill, recently admitted he would need 400,000 soldiers to pacify that nation. The US and NATO have a combined force of around 60,000 troops in Afghanistan.

“We just need to occupy Pakistan’s tribal territory,” insists the Pentagon, “to stop its Pashtun tribes from supporting and sheltering Taliban, and shut down Taliban bases there.” US commanders in Vietnam used the same faulty reasoning to justify their counterproductive expansion of the Indochina War into Cambodia.

A US-led invasion of FATA, as urged by Secretary Gates, will simply push pro-Taliban Pashtun militants further into Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier province, drawing overextended western troops ever deeper into Pakistan and making their supply lines all the more vulnerable. Already overextended western forces will be stretched even thinner and clashes with Pakistan’s tough regular army may become inevitable.

Widening the Afghan War into Pakistan is military stupidity on a grand scale and political madness. It could very well end up a bigger disaster than Iraq. But Washington and its obedient allies seem hell-bent on charging into a wider regional war that no number of heavy bombers will win.

Eric Margolis, contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World.

Copyright ©2008 Eric Margolis

Source, Title Image
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.

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DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

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Rohtas – A Lion’s Fort [4 of 4]


The fort is about 300 ft above its surroundings. It is 2660 feet above sea level and covers an area of 12.63 acres. Rohtas Fort was built as a garrison fort and could hold a force of up to 30,000 men. Due to its location, massive walls, trap gates and 3 Baolis (stepped wells) it could withstand a major siege although it was never besieged.
Most of the fort was built with ashlar stones collected from the surrounding villages such as Tarraki. Some parts of the fort were built with bricks.
The fort is irregular in shape and follows the contours of the hill it was constructed upon. A 533 meter long wall divides the citadel (for the Chieftain) from other parts of the fort.
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THE GATES OF ROHTAS QILA

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by Nayyar Hashmey

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After listening to Haroon’s recount of the Lion King, my mind flashes back again to Qila Rohtas. The Qila is situated in a gorge on a hillock where the small Kahan River meets another rainy stream called Parnal Khas and turns east towards Tilla Jogian range. The fort is about 300 ft above its surroundings. It is 2660 feet above sea level and covers an area of 12.63 acres. Rohtas Fort was built as a garrison fort and could hold a force of up to 30,000 men. Due to its location, massive walls, trap gates and 3 Baolis (stepped wells) it could withstand a major siege although it was never besieged. Most of the fort was built with ashlar stones collected from the surrounding villages such as Tarraki. Some parts of the fort were built with bricks. The fort is irregular in shape and follows the contours of the hill it was constructed upon. A 533 meter long wall divides the citadel (for the Chieftain) from other parts of the fort. (more…)

Rohtas – A Lion’s Fort [3 of 4]


Haveli Raja Man Singh

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THE CAREER OF SHER KHAN OF SUR IS AS FASCINATING AS THAT OF BABUR  & NOT LESS INSTRUCTIVE THAN THAT OF THE GREAT MUGHAL AKBAR

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by Nayyar Hashmey

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The fort was named by Sher Shah after the famous Rohtas Garh fort in Shahabad District near Baharkunda in Bihar (India), which he captured from the Raja of Rohtas Hari Krishna Rai in 1539. Rohtas Garh is situated on the upper course of the river Son, 20 37’N and 85 33’ E. It was built by Harish Chandra of Solar dynasty and was named after his son Rohitsava after whom the fort Rohtas Garh was named.

While the towering personality of this Indo Afghan King comes again into my mind, my friend Haroon Mohsini of the University of Toronto describes the saga of this great Afghan in following words. (more…)

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