Solidarity with Pakistan’ s minorities


The principal factor, the guiding force for creation of Pakistan was the exploitation of Muslim minority by dominated Hindu population in united India, which ultimately led them to demand a separate homeland in the shape of Pakistan. Hence, leaving minorities in Pakistan with the same destiny and sense of insecurity is not a good omen as it can destroy the national fabric.
The green and white colours of Pakistani flag are beautiful combination similar to the proportion of Muslims and non-Muslim population which live in Pakistan. It is incumbent upon us to liberate Pakistan from unbridled hate mongering extremists and make it a peaceful land – a land really of pure people.
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THIS MADNESS, THIS RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE – MUST BE FOUGHT – BY ALL OF US – OTHERWISE ANY ONE OF USIS ITS NEXT TARGET

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by Nazia Nazar

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Shakespeare says ‘what is in a name’? It seems to be true so far as the name of Islamic Republic of Pakistan is concerned, as there is nothing Islamic in Pakistan – from terrorism to violation of minorities’ rights and from widespread illiteracy to horrible crimes against women.

Yes of course, we own an Islamic name which satisfies our sense of identity to be Islamic outwardly. In fact, our hypocrisy and double standards have made us a laughing stock in outside world which compels us to find some time to introspect as to what was the struggle for an Islamic state all about? (more…)

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Published in: on 27/04/2012 at 9:39 pm  Comments (4)  
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Siachen: icy graveyard


The army base at Gyari, the highest battalion headquarters in the world, home to some of the estimated 3,000 Pakistani soldiers on Siachen. Here in the Gyari sector, a landslide, a huge mass of ice, buried almost 140 Pkitani soldiers and civilians alive.The disputed Siachen glacier is billed as the world’s highest combat zone, but atrocious weather conditions have claimed more lives than actual fighting. The 77-kilometre-long glacier traverses the Line of Control, the de facto border separating Indian- and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, at a height of over 6,300 metres. Combat between the nuclear-armed foes has claimed few lives but frostbite, avalanches and driving blizzards, which can sweep men into crevasses, are deadly for the thousands of soldiers deployed there.
The two subcontinental rivals are ought to bury the hatchet and come to good terms with each other. At least on Siachen issue which needs an urgent solution with immediate demilitarization from both sides. Since India was the first one to lead a full-fledged military operation in Siachen, onus lies more on her to demilitarize this region with Pakistan following suit promptly. It should be done without delay not only to break the ice but also for the safety of future generations, who otherwise would likely to bear the brunt of environmental hazards resulting from human military activities in Siachen region.
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SIACHEN

TRAGEDY HITS WORLD’S HIGHEST BATTLE FIELD

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by Nazia Nazar 
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The heart bleeds at the recent Siachen tragedy not because the casualties belong to Pakistan army but also due to the fact that they were all human beings who left behind their families in a state of unending sorrow. Today, the victims are Pakistani soldiers; tomorrow might be horrible for Indian military deployed in Siachen, as you can defeat your enemy but not nature.

Siachen is a place where the militaries of India and Pakistan have been engaged at the altitude of 22,000 ft with severe temperatures hovering around –30° Celsius to –60° C. So, the real battle is against deadly weather that causes to kill more troops than bullets. Evidently, the two armies have lost 4,000 personnel primarily due to frostbite, avalanches and other adverse factors. While the surviving soldiers often suffer hearing, eyesight and memory-loss because of prolonged use of oxygen masks, and many others lose eyes, hands or feet to frostbite.

How enmity has turned a paradise into hell can be observed in Kashmir, but how distrust can push armies to fight for a pit is evident in Siachen, which is nothing but an icy graveyard of soldiers from both sides of the borders.

(more…)

Was this 16-year-old Drone Victim Really a Terrorist? [2 of 2]


Like so many teenagers in remote parts of the globe, Tariq though not legally old enough to drive, nonetheless had often taken out the family car. Around noon on October 31 he had been driving to pick up an aunt after her wedding. A slightly younger cousin, Waheed Rehman, was with him. Earlier that day, drones had been patrolling the skies for hours, but had become such a familiar sight in the area, that they were ignored. A few hundred yards from his aunt’s house one honed in and struck Aziz’s car. The two boys died instantly. Aziz’s uncle said their bodies were badly burned and mutilated, when people arrived from the village. Friday’s Grand Jirga against drone strikes, at which Tariq was present
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REIGN AND RAIN OF DRONES

HI-TECH TERROR KILLS THE YOUNG AND INNOCENT OF FATA

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by Pratap Chatterjee

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Like so many teenagers in remote parts of the globe, Tariq though not legally old enough to drive, nonetheless had often taken out the family car. Around noon on October 31 he had been driving to pick up an aunt after her wedding. A slightly younger cousin, Waheed Rehman, was with him. Earlier that day, drones had been patrolling the skies for hours, but had become such a familiar sight in the area, that they were ignored. A few hundred yards from his aunt’s house one honed in and struck Aziz’s car. The two boys died instantly. Aziz’s uncle said their bodies were badly burned and mutilated, when people arrived from the village. The rescue party had held back at first, as drones frequently strike again, sometimes hitting those recovering the bodies. (more…)

Was this 16-year-old Drone Victim Really a Terrorist? [1 of 2]


Life in Waziristan is being threatened by a far more fiercesome weapon than the automatic rifles which are commonly used by the rustic tribal folk in the north western borderlands of Pakistan called FATA. Unmanned planes, remotely-controlled from the Nevada desert thousands of miles away, have become an almost everyday sight in the skies above the arid lands of the north.
The drones started flying, infrequently at first, over the northern mountains almost eight years ago. Initially they had hovered in the skies streaming video back to the operators – agents working for the US Central Intelligence Agency. They were gathering information about al Qaeda members allegedly hiding in the cut-off lands.
But now these unmanned planes have become an almost constant, and deadly presence. Their deep, low dirge a terrifying symphony accompanying the villagers’ daily lives. They fly in packs, sometimes as many as a half dozen, circling the villages for hours, hovering over roads, before firing Hellfire missiles.
As many as 3,000 people have been killed, though little more than a few lines ever gets reported in the Western press. This is a war fought largely out of sight of the global media, away from the connected world.
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 THE TERRIFYING SYMPHONY

IT ACCOMPANIES VILLAGERS’ DAILY LIVES IN WAZIRISTAN

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by Pratap Chatterjee

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He walked quietly between his two friends as he entered the conference hall in one of the best hotels in an exclusive enclave of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The carpeted room filled with chairs draped in white as if for a wedding, usually hosted business conferences. But this event was different. The smart suited-business men and laptops had been usurped by rough-hewn boys and traditionally-dressed older men from the tribal mountains a few arduous hours from the capital.

A row of elders greeted the attendees, lightly shaking hands as they gently touched their own chests in a traditional gesture. Deep-cut lines in their sun-hardened skin marked their years, full beards and elaborate head gear denoted their social standing. There was little chat as the three teenage boys filed to their seats. The men gathered had come to discuss death and destruction – the destruction of their homes and villages, the deaths of their children and friends.

Tariq Aziz (ringed) was killed three days after this meeting.

Like many in the room, Tariq Aziz had travelled for eight hours by public bus to join the group. Despite his black kameez, flat-topped cap and the start of a neat beard, Aziz was clearly much younger than many of the other men gathered.

Seated just two rows directly in front was Jemima Khan, the British heiress, also dressed in a black traditional outfit edged with antique red and yellow embroidery, her thick, flowing hair left uncovered while in the hall. She tried hard not to attract attention, but her presence was so much at odds with those around her that it was difficult not to watch her reactions, not least because her former husband and now politician Imran Khan was also at the meeting.

Events a few hundred miles away, in the mountains of the north had brought this odd group together. Waziristan is an inaccessible, remote region on the border of Afghanistan. Few people other than the locals ever travel into the rugged interior. Frequent checkpoints keep journalists and foreigners out. The ubiquitous mobile phones have stopped working since the mobile network was switched off. There is no major industry and little farm-land. Most supplies are driven in by colourfully painted Bedford or Hino trucks, one of the few jobs available. People live as they have for centuries, following old traditions and tribal codes.

More than fifteen years ago, in 1996, Jemima Khan had travelled to the area, with her then husband Imran, and her father, Sir James Goldsmith, the billionaire financier. The tribesmen had regaled the visitors with stories of their fierceness. ‘One of the tribal elders came up to my father and said welcome to Waziristan. I just want to let you know that the last Englishman that came to these parts was 100 years ago, and our great grandfathers shot him,’ she recalled with a laugh. The men were warriors, violence was common, and Kalashnikov rifles carried openly, as they still are today.

But it was not the tribal fighting that concerned the men who had gathered in the Islamabad hotel. Life in Waziristan was being threatened by a far more fiercesome weapon than the automatic rifle. Unmanned planes, remotely-controlled from the Nevada desert thousands of miles away, have become an almost everyday sight in the skies above the arid lands of the north. It was the frequent attacks by these planes, or drones, operated by America, supposedly an ally, that were the focus of the gathering.

The drones had started flying, infrequently at first, over the northern mountains almost eight years ago. Initially they had hovered in the skies streaming video back to the operators – agents working for the US Central Intelligence Agency. They were gathering information about al Qaeda members allegedly hiding in the cut-off lands.

But now these unmanned planes have become an almost constant, and deadly presence. Their deep, low dirge a terrifying symphony accompanying the villagers’ daily lives. They fly in packs, sometimes as many as a half dozen, circling the villages for hours, hovering over roads, before firing Hellfire missiles. As many as 3,000 people have been killed, though little more than a few lines ever gets reported in the Western press. This is a war fought largely out of sight of the global media, away from the connected world.

They’re not just killing men, they are killing the women and children. When we hear the official statements from the US government that no civilians have been killed, how do you explain the dead children’s bodies?

The “Jirga” – a traditional tribal meeting – last October was an attempt to raise attention to the events in this distant land. The villagers brought their evidence. They held up mangled lumps of metal – the remains of Hellfire missiles collected from roadsides and destroyed buildings. Photographs of orphaned children, bodies torn apart, vast craters left in the ground, destroyed buildings, burnt out cars were flashed up and pointed to by the men demanding that somebody be held to account.

What is happening right now is a crime, an injustice,’ shouted Khan Marjan, an angry tribal leader whose face was virtually buried under a large, white turban. ‘Can bombs be dropped on people like this? What would happen if this was Islamabad? And yet we are sitting quietly.’

One young teenager told how he had lost an eye and both legs, an older man his eye too, in injuries they claimed were caused by shrapnel from one of the many blasts. And Tariq Aziz told how a cousin had been killed in early 2010 by a Hellfire missile fired at him when he was on his motorcycle near his home. He showed an ID card and talked of his cousin’s innocence.

Jemima had joined the gathering to hear the stories, but also to offer help. She had spent nine years in Pakistan, married to Imran Khan and still feels very connected to the country, not least because her two sons are half Pakistani and visit the country several times a year.

She had been contacted by Clive Stafford Smith, a British-American lawyer, who cut his teeth representing death row inmates in Louisiana and Mississippi in the 1990s, but gained a global reputation after he took on the Bush administration by representing dozens of young men imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. The drone war in Waziristan is, for Stafford Smith, the next American injustice that needs taking on.

Jemima had agreed to finance a project aimed at getting digital cameras into Waziristan to record the damage and death caused by the drones, as part of a campaign to prove that innocents are dying. Tariq Aziz was eager to take part. ‘Tariq was an amateur photographer,’ Khan recalled over brunch in West London. ‘He liked football, we know that he was into photography. I suspect that one of the reasons that he came for the Jirga was that he wanted to get one of the cameras that we were providing.’

And so these two very different lives had been brought together.

After Islamabad, Jemima headed to Oman, to work on a project for Vanity Fair. In the serenely beautiful surroundings of the Omani desert she picked up an email. It had been sent by a contact in Pakistan – a lawyer working closely with families of drone victims. The subject line read simply: ‘Recent victim of drones folly’.

Tariq Aziz – the young man who had been sitting just five feet away from her just a few days earlier, the teenager who had been so eager to help with the camera project, was dead. He was just 16. Another casualty of the US drones. 

Contd…

Next: Reign and Rain of Drones – HiTech Terror Kills the Young and Innocent of FATA

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Americans and Saudis: hands off Pakistan’s pipeline please!


Without additional energy supplies, social chaos and disruption in Pakistan lies in the months and years ahead. Electricity shortfalls sometimes reach as high as 6,000MW, meaning that 40 per cent of the demand is unmet. Daily blackouts have gutted industrial production, closed markets, and CNG is rationed in spite of a huge price hike.Power riots broke out two weeks ago in Lahore.
In October, protesters against power outages held up a train in Gujranwala, ordered passengers onto the platform, and set three coaches on fire. Under such situation, Iran’s gas is critical to avoid mass rioting and social breakdown. Should it actually come through, the proposed 56 inch diameter, 2,100-kilometres long IP pipeline would deliver a whopping 750 million cubic feet of gas per day from Iran’s South Pars gas field, located near Iran’s southern city of Asalouyeh.
This could become Pakistan’s jugular vein or, more accurately, its windpipe.
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THREATENING PAKISTAN = POOR DIPLOMACY 

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by Pervez Hoodbhoy

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Now and then, as though out of sheer boredom, the United States shoots itself in the foot and loses the occasional goodwill it creates with aid programmes. Consider the latest: Secretary Hilary Clinton says that “As we are ratcheting up pressure on Iran, it seems somewhat inexplicable that Pakistan would be trying to negotiate a pipeline with it”. Appearing before Congress, she threatened that sanctions could be imposed by the US on Pakistan’s precarious economy, and these would be “particularly damaging” and “further undermine their economic status”.

One wonders why Mrs Clinton finds Pakistan’s attempt to tap into its gas-rich neighbour “inexplicable”. In fact, there is no mystery. Half of Pakistan’s energy needs are met from gas, but only 30 per cent of gas is domestically produced. Natural gas runs the country’s electricity generating plants, powers its factories, and is used as fuel for cars, buses and trucks.

Without additional energy supplies, social chaos and disruption lies in the months and years ahead. Electricity shortfalls sometimes reach as high as 6,000MW, meaning that 40 per cent of the demand is unmet. Daily blackouts have gutted industrial production, closed markets, and CNG is rationed in spite of a huge price hike. Power riots broke out two weeks ago in Lahore. In October, protesters against power outages held up a train in Gujranwala, ordered passengers onto the platform, and set three coaches on fire.

Iran’s gas could be critical for avoiding mass rioting and social breakdown. Should it actually come through, the proposed 56 inch diameter, 2,100-kilometres long IP pipeline would deliver a whopping 750 million cubic feet of gas per day from Iran’s South Pars gas field, located near Iran’s southern city of Asalouyeh. This could become Pakistan’s jugular vein or, more accurately, its windpipe.

Expectedly, Secretary Clintons threats have drawn a strong reaction from Pakistani officials and leaders, with each trying to stand taller than the other. All this comes at a time when Pakistan-US relations are at a dangerous low.

Quite apart from everything else, threatening Pakistan is poor diplomacy because it is reacting to something that, at the moment, is no more than a possibility.

Although the pipeline project’s formal completion date is December 2014, a detailed feasibility plan is still being worked out and the source of funding is unclear. In July 2011, President Ahmadinejad has offered to fund construction of the 761 kilometres inside Pakistani territory. Iran declared at the time that it had laid the pipeline on its side to within 50 kilometres of Pakistan’s border. But the Iranian offer has to be taken with a good pinch of salt because Iran’s economic difficulties are rapidly mounting. China’s largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, has backed out from its earlier commitment. Currently the Pakistan government is negotiating with Gazprom, the Russian gas and oil giant. Nothing is clear.

 The threats to Pakistan clearly violate the principle of fairness. Let’s say that Iran is indeed a “bad guy”, and that it is wrong to trade with bad guys. But, by this logic is it okay for the US to conduct $500 billion dollars of trade with China annually, a country that it alleges – perhaps correctly – of violating human rights?

What about the planned $80 billion US arm sales to Saudi Arabia, a country that officially does not accept the right to religious freedom and treats its women abysmally? The IP gas pipeline, on the other hand, involves a piddling $1.5 billion and brings obvious advantages to Pakistan.

 US antagonism to the IP pipeline comes, of course, because of Iran’s nuclear programme. This is why India, China and Turkey are also being hectored into reducing their imports of Iranian crude oil. In 2008, US pressure forced India to pull out of the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, also known as the “Peace Pipeline”.
Suppose, for argument’s sake, Iran’s secret agenda is indeed that which the US alleges – i.e. to make nuclear weapons. If true, I find it personally regrettable. The world needs less, not more, nuclear weapons. It is in Iran’s long-term interest to shelve such ambitions and get on with improving the lives of ordinary Iranians. Yet, in all fairness, there are nine other nuclear states in the world with America’s perennial ally, Israel, being among them.

 But let us not blame the Americans alone. Another nation has now stepped in to discourage the construction of the IP pipeline. The kings and princes of Saudi Arabia – who had earlier urged the US to destroy Iran’s nuclear programme by launching military strikes and “cut off the head of the snake” – are making their presence felt here in Islamabad.

Two weeks ago, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s deputy foreign minister, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, sought to persuade Pakistan to abandon the IP pipeline and cancel electricity/oil import deals with Iran. Although details have not appeared in the press, Abdul Aziz apparently offered some kind of a financial bailout as the quid pro quo.

But Pakistan needs energy security, not more loans. The Saudi attempt to create divisions and distrust with a neighboring country is plainly insidious and deserved a riposte from Pakistan’s leaders – one no less stout than the one delivered to the Americans. The Saudi plan is just as unworkable as the TAPI pipeline, which the US is pushing as an alternative to the IP pipeline. TAPI would run through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. But with Afghanistan likely to be embroiled indefinitely in civil war after 2014, only a wild optimist can believe that a pipeline traversing its hostile and intractable terrain could provide secure oil supplies.

 It is time for the US to get real and know that countries will pursue their goals rather than those preferred by Washington. John Foster Dulles is dead, as is Ronald Reagan – strong-arm tactics have seen their day. Instead American diplomacy needs to show sensitivity, and factor in the needs of the countries it deals with. Else the U.S shall isolate itself away from a goal that is truly important, the fight against global terrorism.

File:Pervez hoodbhoy.jpeg

Hoodbhoy teaches Physics & Political Science at LUMS.  He holds a doctorate in Physics from MIT. Hoodbhoy is also a prominent environmental & social activist and regularly writes on a wide range of social, cultural and environmental issues..
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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.

YOUR COMMENT IS IMPORTANT

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

Wonders of Pakistan supports freedom of expression and this commitment extends to our readers as well. Constraints however, apply in case of a violation of WoP Comments Policy. We also moderate hate speech, libel and gratuitous insults.
We at Wonders of Pakistanuse copyrighted material the use of which may not have always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” only. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

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