Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The mystery of Shamsi Airbase

With all the hullabaloo about Shamsi airbase I remembered that when I did this story for The News (http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=163174&Cat=2&dt=2/18/2009) (and The Times of London picked it up the next day), I had at least a couple of pictures which clearly showed that Pakistani military (army and airforce) officers had been the airbase and American officers had shown them around -- the pictures (see for yourselves) show them being shown one of the parked drones -- this picture must be circa 2007 so it was under the government of Pervez Musharraf -- and in one of them the American military official is partly shielded -- his upper torso. Another shows a Pakistan army and airforce officer from behind -- and to their left can be seen two US soldiers -- side-on. In two of these pictures, Pakistani military officials can be clearly seen.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Behaviour of FWO official -- according to Dawn's Muzaffarabad correspondent

Dear all,

The other day, while traveling between Islamabad and Muzaffarabad, I noticed a queue of hundreds of vehicles near Banni Pari village which had been stopped by the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) without any warning as they were carrying out road construction in the area.

When I got down and ask FWO personnel after introducing myself that why didn't they detail someone at Jheeka Galli to guide/inform the motorists to take alternative route if the road had to be blocked for 3 hours, much to my horror I had to face the most hostile attitude from them, mainly because being a (commercial) subsidiary of Pakistan army they considered themselves above questioning.

An official in civvies, who introduced himself to me as Major Hassan, said it was not his responsibility to depute anyone to inform the motorists/commuters at Jheeka Galli about the road blockade and that I was nobody to ask such questions to him and instead I should talk to the DC (DCO) and other administration officials in this regard.

When reminded that he was working for a commercial entity which had to do public dealing, he retorted: "I am not a bloody contractor."

That was not the end. He went on to warn me that if I uttered a single more word, he would get me arrested. And when I said, ok go ahead if you can, he called all the workers and asked them to arrest me. The workers, who said if they are in civvies it does not mean anyone should come and put them any question, pushed and shoved me.

"Don't talk to our sahib, first talk to us," they shouted at me.

The major said: Now if other motorists will be allowed to drive past this road after 40 minutes, you will be allowed after 50 minutes.
He then asked his men to remove me from "our project side." who started doing it by pushing and shoving me.

I brought this incident immediately in the notice of my office but there was no action perhaps because it was my "personal affair."

But by sharing it on this forum I just want to draw attention of my colleagues that when we our organisations remain silent on such threatening tones, when they fail to take such issues at appropriate levels, pugnacious people wielding authority feel further energized to do anything they want.

I am sure the Major who confronted me will now definitely be thinking that if he can frighten off a journalist, notwithstanding the fact he could highlight his hostile attitude through media, why not any other ordinary mortal.

I wish we journalist community raises a forum of its own where such incidents are recorded and taken appropriate care of, even if their managements turn a blind eye towards it..

Tariq Naqash
Staff Correspondent DAWN
+92 300 52 33 726
+92 312 52 33 726

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

a 'letter to editor' received but unlikely to be published

The Snare
Letter to Editor
When I heard, I didn’t believe it. The members of an American delegation then on official visit to Pakistan entered the office of a major general (now retired) who was serving at a pivotal post, and during the course of meeting presented him the keys of a bullet proof vehicle they brought along with them from Washington. They were keenly concerned about the safety and security of the general, of course. But to their utter surprise, the general refused to accept the gift, saying his institution had provided him enough to meet his transport and security needs. I couldn’t believe that a General in the Pakistan GHQ would refuse the Americans. He paid the cost and retired as major general but why did he refuse the gift? “Such bullet proof vehicles are secure, but serve the purpose of dubbing exclusive or private conversations which they can use to achieve their ends. Already our everything is being recorded by mobile phone companies, the Blackberry has server in America and all emails channel through central control in the US. PTCL is already sold out, other ways of communication are not secure too. The equipment brought from US might have secret codes which only the Americans know; that’s why the radar system on May 2 was not working or at least could be dodged.
Why I am keen to recall the retired Major General’s is the report of a team of Pakistani journalists, anchorpersons and others led by Marvi Sirmad meeting the US Consul General in Karachi where the most senior journalists were provided with gifts of mobile phones, which they say are the most latest and sophisticated. It is feared that the cell phones will be interlinked and centrally monitored by the consulate staff. For many this can be the most desired gift, but for the security and integrity of the country and individuals this can be a hazard. You never know.
Marya Mufti, Lahore

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

from a kurram agency-based journalist -- read it

A journalist based in Parachinar sent this to me -- its here unedited, uncut -- might be a bit obtuse at times but worth a read

After Nine-Eleven when fierce game started at the name of terrorism, this fierce game not only compelled the thousands of people to exclude them from their ancestor areas, but it was also the harmful reason for the “Educational Murder” of tribal students. Bright and shined future of tribal students has been made darken by the terrorists. The innocent children, who might have a pen and book, were forced to hold on weapon and explosive material. Suicides were trained to kill their own Pakistanis. This bloody game and tribal students “Educational Murder” are still continued.
Terrorism in Pakistan and especially in tribal areas is the part of the Worldly conspiracy. But names of some Pakistani Agencies have been also included in this list of terrorism doubtfully with continuation. Misunderstood policies of rulers and government made the common people doubtful about them. Different weapons are using to explain the FATA tribes as terrorists. Different criminals, murderers, thieves, robbers and plunderers were assembled and named “THARIK-E-TALIBAN”. The people who were stranger and unacquainted by Islam and Islamic ordinances made Commanders. They spoiled the appearance of Islam. Anti-Islamic activities and terrorism of Talibans revealed the tribes as terrorists all over the World. And electronic media also explained the little accidents of FATA by advancement to take superiority on each other. Talibans were cover-aged mostly by them, which give progression to terrorism in Pakistan and FATA. Pakistani Agencies and rulers set the media free for their cover-age. Freedom for media was a personal purpose of Pakistani Agencies and rulers.
Pakistani Agencies and rulers got a lot of funds and aids from America and other countries for operations in FATA. America and other countries granted packages of thousands of $dollars for the FATA tribes. But FATA tribes were kept disappointed from these packages. How did the funds and packages vanish? OR
Who had eaten them?
Tribes are unknown to these situations.
Writer also belongs to the tribal area Parachinar Kurram Agency and related to journalism.
Fierce game is still continued at the name of terrorism in Kurram Agency since five years. Thousands of peoples had been killed. More than billions of rupees have been damaged. The educational system is in critical conditions.
In2007when Talibans marched towards the Kurram Agency from Northern and Southern Wazirstan and started their activities at the name of “Tharik-e-Taliban”. In the meantime Shia-Sunni elders of Kurram Agency wrote a letter and faxed it to the President of Pakistan, Prime Minister of Pakistan and security officers. In that letter they expressed untrustworthy against the activities of Talibans and demanded to give them no permission for the entrance towards the Kurram Agency. But strange situation was created, when the photocopy of that letter reached the Talibans Commander next day. Talibans Commander sent five hundred rupees for each head of Shia-Sunni elders by the help of officials for their shrouds. He warned them, that they should purchase their coffins and be ready to death. Because killing is the only result for everyone, who disobeys the Talibanization.
At that time in2007the local journalists of Kurram Agency met the Political Agent and informed him about the activities of Talibans and different doubts of people. Political Agent told them, that the activities of Talibans are the policy of Federal Government.
Journalists asked him that, if we write a letter about the activities of Talibans and doubts of people and fax it to the superior officials. Political Agent revealed and told them, that the elders of Shia-Sunni tribes have also faxed a letter to the superior officers before this. But photocopy of that letter reached the Talibans Commander next day. Talibans Commander sent five hundred rupees for each of them and threatened them, that they will kill them. Your faxing letter will also reach the Talibans next day.
The meeting of Political Agent of Kurram Agency cleared the reality, that the running fierce game and terrorism are also supporting by some Pakistani Agencies and officials.
Activities of Talibans were developing day by day by the help of Pakistani Agencies. Talibans made their check posts, training centers and residences at Lower and Central Kurram Agency. Talibans also reached to Parachinar the capital of Kurram Agency and putted on their tents in “Central Principal Mosque” and schemed to attack and holds the Parachinar.
At this on15thNovember2007elders and journalists of Kurram Agency informed the Political Agent of Kurram Agency about critical situations and conditions. But Political Agent told the tribal elders and journalists, that circumstances are in control and nothing will be happened.
But next day after the “FRIDAY PRAYER”on16thNovember2007Talibans attacked the innocent people of Parachinar with Hand-Grenades and Rockets. In result many people of Turi-Bangash tribes were killed.
Passengers of Turi-Bangash tribes who were traveling from Peshawar to Parachinar killed with inhumanity at the powerful Network of Talibans called “Shashu” located in Lower Kurram Agency. And thus disturbance rose in whole Kurram Agency. Activities of Talibans are still continued from 16thNovember2007.
Durable and strong centers of Talibans are located in Lower and Central Kurram Agency. These training centers existed indigenous and external terrorists. Talibans are training for terrorism in these centers. Thall-Parachinar road is blocked since five years. Thousands of Upper Kurram Agency tribes are besieged. Parachinar is harvested from whole country of Pakistan. Telephonic media has been also prevented for many hours. Electricity is suffering load shedding. Developmental programs are stopped. Supply of goods is also stopped. Tribes of Parachinar are compelled to purchase a lot of eating and drinking commodities expensively from Afghanistan.
Even Parachinar is facing hardships, but some Pakistani media is not cover-aging the references of Parachinar. Media represents the news or accident so clearly, if it is happened in other areas of Pakistan.
Thousands of Parachinar tribes are besieged since five years, arrival and departure roads are blocked. Road blockade caused 100reds of patients and injured to death due to nonexistence of life saving drugs and treatment in time.
But it is so sorrowful, that some media of Pakistan especially electronic media is completely silent about Parachinar. They are not interested to give any cover-age about the circumstances of Parachinar and people’s difficulties. Most media of Pakistan resembles the hardships and terrorism of Parachinar with sectarian disturbance, which is completely wrong.
Media representatives of Peshawar and Islamabad have been invited to Parachinar for the coverage of situations. They came and talked to the people of Parachinar. They observed the situations of Parachinar. During this they told, that they had been often informed about the sectarian disturbance of Parachinar at Peshawar and Islamabad in press released by Government. But reality is completely different. There is no disturbance between the Shia and Sunni tribes at Parachinar. They have been also affected by Talibans. And terrorism is still running. Roads are blocked. And tribes are besieged.
Government arranged official convoy many times for arrival and departure of passengers and eating and drinking commodities from Peshawar to Parachinar since five years. But Talibans attacked, looted, and burnt the trucks and coaches fully loaded by goods and passengers many times in the presence of F.C.
Writer has a video, in which Talibans and well armed local individuals are looting goods from the trucks and coaches of Turi-Bangash tribes in the presence of F.C servants in official convoy at Lower Kurram Agency. They set the trucks and coaches on fire. Talibans are crying at the time when they are looting goods and burning the coaches and trucks. And some F.C servants are replying their slogans by raising their hands. The dead body of a young is on the ground. But official servants are not bearing the trouble to take up the dead body. Faces of Talibans can be identified in that video.
Talibans attacked the convoy many times at Lower Kurram Agency. But every time their target was to hit only the people of Turi-Bangash tribes. F.C servant or conveyance has not been harmed. It is guessed and Turi-Bangash tribes are also blaming continuously, that attacks on convoy are supported by some F.C servants. Therefore Talibans don’t attack the official servants or conveyance. Government and Security Forces were silent against the Talibans even they had proofs and videos. Therefore Turi-Bangash tribes asserted their untrustworthy towards the F.C.
When America pressured the Pakistan to operations the Talibans of Northern Wazirstan, especially Haqqani Network. The negotiations started for the settlement of peace and opening of roads. Negotiations were in progress at Islamabad and Peshawar.
Tribal elders of Kurram Agency, Grand Tribal Jarga (Multitude) and Haqqani Network also took part in these negotiations. During which many elders of Turi-Bangash tribes criticized against the presence of Talibans Commanders in these negotiations. Objecting members were eliminated from these negotiations after this.
On 3rdFebruary2011 Federal Interior (Home) Minister of Pakistan Rehman Malik stated with Grand Tribal Jarga and M.N.A’s of Kurram Agency, that parties have been agreed for peace agreement. Thall-Parachinar road will be opened on 5th February 2011.
On 8thFebruary 2011 members of Grand Tribal Jarga came to Parachinar by road and thus the Thall-Parachinar road has been opened for traffic. People started their arrival and departure on Thall-Parachinar road. Kurram Agency was showing great pomp and show. Tribes were unbelievable about the opening of Thall-Parachinar road. They did not believe that the besieged tribes have been set free.
During this Pakistani and International Media also acquainted, that Haqqani Network has been shifted from Northern Wazirstan to Kurram Agency. Safety of Haqqani Net-work for the arrival and departure to Afghanistan is the only purpose to open the Thall-Parachinar road. Because the borders of Kurram Agency are joined with Afghanistan’s three provinces Paktia, Nangrar and Khost. And Talibans have also issued news and reports to support the peace agreement in Kurram Agency, which have been recorded.
Some means say that, the time when Thall-Parachinar road was unblocking and peace agreement was passing, Talibans held some personal stakes. Permission of road, residences in some areas and some other demands were their basic conditions. Therefore one month duration has been given for that agreement.
But Turi-Bangash tribes told them again and again, that safety of Thall-Parachinar road and passengers is the responsibility of Government. And they will not allow Talibans and terrorists on the road of Kurram Agency and for making their camps/hideouts.
Accidents started immediately after the one month of peace agreement and opening of road. Two innocent children were kidnapped from the Lower Kurram Agency. Passengers of Turi-Bangash tribes were kidnapped along with drivers and coaches, who were traveling from Peshawar to Parachinar. Drivers belonged to Charsada and Pesha-war. They were warned; that they will never be ever carry the Turi-Bangash tribal passengers, who are against the Talibans and terrorism. Talibans charged them heavy fines.
On 13thMarch2011 well armed terrorists attacked the passenger’s coach of Turi-Bangash tribes at “Mamoo-Khwar” nearer to Hangu and killed the 10 passengers. And in reaction of police three attackers were killed. Identified three terrorists were the men of “Mangal Tribe” of Kurram Agency. One of them was a recently serviced F.C servant.
But Government didn’t take any action against the colleagues of these terrorists, even in the presence of proofs and identifications.
On Friday 25th March 2011 Talibans attacked the three passenger’s coaches and killed the three passengers at main road nearer to F.C check post in Baggan at Lower Kurram Agency. 45 passengers of Turi-Bangash tribes were kidnapped along with women and children by Talibans. Women and children were set free after the some hours of this accident.
Talibans were telling them, that they have been deceived in agreement. Their demands have not been fulfilled. Therefore they have kidnapped the passengers of Turi-Bangash tribes.
After this accident government and “Grand Tribal Jarga” convinced the Turi-Bangash tribes that kidnapped passengers will be set free immediately. Grand Tribal Jarga negotiated many times to Talibans for the freedom of kidnapped passengers. In which Talibans demanded to pay them a huge amount and recognize their stakes.
Negotiations were in progress. In the meantime on 21stApril2011 Talibans slaughtered and burned 8 kidnapped passengers. Two of them were the students. Burned dead bodies were sent to the Turi-Bangash tribes. And Talibans also issued the video of a kidnapped passenger. In which he is slaughtered by a knife. After that Talibans placed some woods and pour oil on the dead body for burning. The scene of burning of the dead body has been also shown in that video.
Negotiations are in progress between Talibans and Grand Tribal Jarga. But still the negotiations have not been succeeded. And still the kidnapped passengers are in the custody of Talibans.
Means are telling that Talibans will not let the kidnapped passengers of Turi-Bangash tribes until their stakes and conditions have been accepted.
Kidnapped people are still in the custody of Talibans, therefore different tales are spreading.
Although Talibans kidnapped and killed the passengers but Turi-Bangash tribes described the Haqqani Network and Talibans, that they will not let the Talibans on the road of Kurram Agency for the arrival and departure to Afghanistan. And the land of Kurram Agency will not be allowed to use against any other country. After this announcement of Turi-Bangash tribes Talibans and Haqqani Network started attacks of missiles and mortars on Upper Kurram Agency area’s “Sahlozan” from 17th February 2011, which are still continued. And in these attacks two have been martyred and fifteen have been injured.
While Talibans hit mortars, missiles to Turi-Bangash tribe’s village called “Balash-Khel” in Lower Kurram Agency to arrogate the area. In result four men of Turi-Bangash tribes were killed and seven were injured. In answer of Turi-Bangash tribes two important Commanders and seventeen Talibans were killed there.
During these clashes droll situation was created, when suddenly Security Forces reached the Village of “Khar-Kali” and “Balash-Khel” and bombarded the fortifications (morchas) of Turi-Bangash tribes with tanks and picked up the dead bodies of that Talibans who were on the ground nearer to the fortifications of Turi-Bangash tribes. Means are telling about these dead bodies, that they exists some members of Haqqani Network and Al-Qaida.
Turi-Bangash tribes protested by means of shutter down in whole city against the action of Security Forces towards them by bombarding and hitting missiles instead of Talibans.
And announced great protest against them in Parachinar.
Protesting processions are in progress. Addressing with protesting processions tribal elders deployed and said, that Turi-Bangash tribes are fighting with Talibans in Kurram Agency. But Security Forces are targeting the fortifications of Turi-Bangash tribes by bombarding instead of Talibans fortifications. This confirms that Talibans back has been supporting by Security Forces, and double game has been playing.
Tribal elders describing that, if the Government and Security forces don’t stop the double game, and react against the Talibans, and don’t accept the demands of Turi-Bangash tribes, then protest shall be continued. And Turi-Bangash tribes will also block the road for the eating and drinking commodities for Government and Security Forces.
Writer has contacts with Shia-Sunni tribal elders and common people.
They say! Why the protectors of borders and devoted for settlement of Pakistan are punishing for an unknown reason?
Why the thousands of tribes and tribal students are compelling for violence?
Why the foundations of country are hollowing by the illegal policies of rulers and Pakistani Agencies?
They say! That the circumstances have been marched towards the dangerous side after the destruction of Osama.
Now it is the suitable time that Pakistani Agencies, rulers and policy maker should re-view their policies. And should make the friendly and brotherhood’s policy. Other wise country will become a victim of crisis and critical conditions.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

why is the pak navy being targeted -- via a certified whacko

I received this from 'international professor' -- a nutjob, a whacko for sure -- but one thing stood out -- in recent days people keep asking why the navy, why target the navy -- part of his longer email, reproduced below, i think explains why the navy is being targeted -- read and see for yourself

Naval base PNS Mehran was sold like Shamsi air base

International Professor

Some months ago U.S. administration awarded “Legion of Merit” to Admiral Noman Bashir, people astonished that what kind of links Pakistan Navy has with war of terror, because Pakistan’s areas chosen by U.S. for operational purposes like Swat, Malakand and FATA or outside Pakistan like Afghanistan have no links with sea.

Most people are not aware of the fact that Pakistan Navy is fighting U.S. war of terror like Pakistan army and Pakistan air force devotedly and its mercenaries services are mostly outside boundaries of Pakistan.

According to Associated Press dated: Jan 04, 2011 the Air Chief Marshall Rao Qamar Suleman addressing the 94th officers commissioning parade held at Pakistan Naval Academy (PNA) on Monday said “The geo-political situation has undergone radical changes especially over the past few years. Pakistan today stands committed in the war against terrorism”. He commended participation of Pakistan Navy in Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan (CMCP). He said that the opportunity to command Combined Task Force -150 four times by PN is a testimony of their professional excellence. Pakistan Navy has been entrusted with the onerous command of Combined Task Force 151 in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin to deter and disrupt piracy for the benefit of all nations.

What is Combined Task Force 150 & 151?

The Combined Task Force 150 was established under doctrine of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, including naval forces from U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. The major assignments to task force are together with maritime security operations in the Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean.
In 2004 the US Defence approved seven P-3C Orion aircrafts with the cost of round US $ one billion, two of these were delivered in April 2010, total current strength was between 5-7, out of two destroyed in yesterday’s terrorist attack. Siege of Iranian navy is also an unwritten assignment.

Other activities:

Following few media reports confirms that Pakistan Navy was under control of Fifth U.S. fleet stationed at Bahrain.

July 15, 2007: Pakistan Navy to take charge of Combined Task Force 150 in Gulf. This would be for the second time that Pakistan would get the command of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) of the Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan on Aug 1 for four months.

While two other units handle the Gulf, CTF-150s 15 vessels also patrol an area that includes the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.


November 04, 2011: Admiral Noman Bashir, was the chief guest on the occasion. “Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan and CTF-151 is a step towards regional and global security”. The Naval Chief said that Pakistan is committed to root out terrorism from the country.
Earlier, Commander Pakistan Fleet Vice Admiral Abbas Raza while giving a detailed account of fleet activities apprised that during 2010, PN ships conducted exercises with various navies including France, USA, UK, Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia.


BBC: Personnel from a Plymouth-based Royal Navy warship have been training with the Pakistan Navy. HMS Cornwall and the Pakistan warship PNS Shahjahan met in the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea. HMS Cornwall is involved in sea security throughout the Middle East, and crews from both warships exchanged skills when they met.


March 09. 2011: The speakers added that Pakistan was the only regional country to have been entrusted with the command of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF) 151 in addition to that of CTF 150. The overall goal was to ensure security of sea lanes and the overall maritime commons for safe use by all nations, they said.

Pakistan Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Abbas Raza said that Pakistan Navy’s initiative of multinational exercise Aman-11 was an effort that would surely improve response, tactics and procedures to enhance interoperability in joint operating environment. The exercise was focused on combating and countering all illegal activities, particularly in North Arabian Sea which was very critical to future energy security and served as lifeline of world energy economies, he added.

Admiral Abbas said that crime and terrorism were not confined to specific boundaries rather their effects were felt all over the world. This also has the potential to create an impact on maritime trade of the region and of the world. He said that use of sea routes by terrorists, human trafficking, smuggling and piracy were major concerns


Thursday, May 19, 2011

New info on OBL raid -- how could the Pakistanis not have known?

AP's "intelligence writer" quotes US officials briefed on the OBL operation that "Five aircraft flew from Jalalabad, Afghanistan, with three school-bus-size Chinook helicopters landing in a deserted area roughly two-thirds of the way to bin Laden's compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad".

Is this the vague reference made in the in-camera briefing by a senior PAF official that Kala Dhaka was also used -- the area northwest of Abbottabad, Oghi, Black Hills, Kala Dhaka, is remote and deserted -- so the Americans were able to land in a deserted area of Mansehra district and use that as a base, so to speak, to launch the Abbotabad operation -- surely all this couldn't have happened with no one in the PAF, or air traffic control finding out -- is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that the Pakistanis knew nothing about this -- yes I know this may seem an irrelevant question now, but if they did know and they are lying about it, this would be the smoking gun, so to speak

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

who would have written this nonsense?

We get lots of unsolicited articles and letters every day -- 10 marks for guessing who wrote this

Method in the madness


There, ironically, is a group in Pakistan which hates two As (Allah and Army) but loves to flirt with another A (America). To them, army is responsible for everything wrong in this country. These ultra liberals (self acclaimed though) are busy deriding and ridiculing armed forces with frothing mouths on Abbottabad incident. But as they say, there is a method in their madness. In an apparent attempt to criticize armed forces in the wake of US operation, they are raising few questions which do not require answers after scholarly pursuits. These few queries can be dismissed by an ordinary mind. But, alas, common sense is not what they aspire to propagate. It’s their love to hold tail coats of USA that drives them to miss the obvious.

The Abbottabad operation by American SEALs is a failure of intelligence. It cannot be defended. But more than intelligence it is also failure of state policy which treated USA as an ally in war against terror. If now we feel betrayed and humiliated, there is dire need to review our state policy on this issue. Everything else will flow and follow from declared policy. Had our state policy about USA been clear, we would not have faced such a situation. All is not lost and we can recover out of this unenviable situation. But let us stop for a while to address some of the plain truths which are becoming casualty of this war of propaganda.

Nations raise various state institutions and organs to address specific needs. Through deliberate process of continuous pondering, nature and scope of these state organs keep changing. When Pakistan was created, we were faced an immense task of rehabilitating hordes of refugees. The department of evacuee property was raised to address this specific problem. Six decides down, it is no more relevant, so it has seized to exist. To mitigate the sufferings of affectees of 2005 earthquake, Pakistan formed ERRA. It’s jurisdiction has now been expanded to cover the whole of country. It was however a response to a problem. That is the sign of a living nation that it knows how to address emerging issues. Armed forces of nations are again no exception to it. All nations have armed forces of varying sizes and capabilities. Most countries have forces to thwart foreign aggression. Some raise armed forces to fight internal dissensions. Yet few countries raise armed forces for ceremonial purposes. Common among all nations is the fact that armed forces are raised, equipped and maintained for specific reasons.

Take Indonesia for one. It cannot be invaded by any of its neighbours in right state of mind. Malaysia, Brunei and Australia can never expect to resolve an issue with Indonesia by use of violence. That brings Indonesian defence policymakers to few conclusions which translate into organization and capabilities of their armed forces. Indonesia, therefore, does not maintain an offensive capability. There army is mostly deployed in maintaining internal order and quelling any centrifugal tendencies.

Maldives has her armed forces with the purpose of mostly maintaining vigilance over their territorial waters. Strength of their forces, all components included, is no more than 3-4000 personnel. Maldives can barely defend its territory with such small force, let alone plan an aggression. But size, organization and capabilities of their armed forces is product of rationally thought out state policy. Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman do also maintain token armed forces but their role, perhaps is no more than ceremonial. No one expected Kuwaiti forces to put up last man-last bullet scenario against Iraqi aggression of 1990.

With this background information we come to the case of Pakistan. We have large standing armed forces. Army gets the lion’s share is numbers, resources and eminence. But how and why did we opt to keep such huge forces? What is the state policy about capability and organization of our forces?

Since independence we have feared, and rightly so till to date, an Indian hegemonic designs on us. Even before becoming nuclear state, we have maintained a minimum credible deterrent posture. Our forces are organized, equipped and trained to conduct military operations in our geo-strategic environments. Since we don’t plan to invade any country including India by sea, we therefore do not maintain large navy. Our navy and army conduct no training exercises to conduct Normandy style beach landings. Our enemy is towards east only and that is reflected in our defence policy and its consequent manifestation. Our military cantonments and air bases are so located as to react to a threat from east.

With a balanced blend of defensive-offensive capabilities, we have been successful to keep India at bay during recent crisis. But this brings us to the point which is deliberately being missed out in current barrage of scathing comments against Armed forces. And the obvious is – Did we organize, train and equip our armed forces to fight USA? If we did, take the top military leadership to gallows. But if we did not, why deride and ridicule them. If air force radars could not pick state- of- the –art stealth technology helicopters, is it failure of Radars or the policy makers. Armed forces can’t be absolved completely from this fiascos. But then we must apportion the blame proportionately.

When we decide to fight USA, we will have to formulate newer doctrines, train accordingly and equip to meet operational needs. Till then, we must not let ourselves be swept by despondency about our potential to defend against India. Second obvious being missed out is that in right state of mind no one equates defence of training institution with that of nuclear installation. We are info a full blown war against the state. Despite all attempts, terrorists have never succeeded to penetrate the outer cordon of security. Take example of Wah Ammunition factories. Suicide bomber could only hit public access area at entrance gate. Mardan training centre was also attacked at entrance only. In GHQ attack, terrorists were successful to hold hostages at outer most security cordon.

Secondly, nuclear assets are not carrots and mangoes, lying in a shelf, ready to be transported. These are complex systems, kept in semi knocked down state, dispersed over different locations. Since these are our national pride installations, they are being guarded jealously with what ever resources the nation can muster. Dispersion of these assets ensures that no unauthorized use is made. It also ensures that no Abbottabad- style operations succeeds against them.

Moral of the story is that if armed forces have displayed that their important installations have near impregnable defences, then why cast aspersions on their capability? It is strange that nuclear assets of no other nation are under such intense discussion. Focus of international media over our assets is understandable since we are the sole Muslim nuclear armed country. But uninformed criticism of our own media and thinkers is beyond comprehension. Majority of Indian nuclear sites (storage and launch) are located in area which is known to the world as Red corridor. This area is not under effective control of Indian state is almost been ceded to Marxist insurgents, whom prime Minster Manmohan Singh had described as the biggest threat to Indian security. With nuclear sites in such a vulnerable area one wonders, what are the safe guards Indians have taken to avoid falling of nuclear material in wrong hands?

If this was a scholarly effort to further improve the defence against emerging threats, it should be welcome. But if sole purpose of such criticism is to avenge some perceived grievances, it is no national service. Days of armed forces being a holy cow are nearing an end. Discussion on matters of defence, security and defence budget is no more a taboo. Informed and well researched debate will certainly improve efficiency and capability of armed forces. But treating them as mere punching bags does not augur well. (ENDS)

Monday, May 16, 2011

What route could the US copters have flown?

I'm not really into conspiracy theories at all -- when the raid took place, initially there were suggestions that the copters took off from Tarbela which is around 30-35 kilometres east of Abbottabad -- if they came from Afghanistan, the closest known base would be Jalalabad -- that town is slightly north of Peshawar so choppers coming from there would either have to fly over Peshawar city or north -- through Charsadda (see accompanying graphic) -- and then on to Mardan -- north of Mardan the population density is relatively lower, but the Mardan-Mingora road is situated here -- travelling eastward on this, one would pass north of Swabi and past Tarbela (the country's largest hydel facility) and eastward on to Abbottabad -- the other option to fly slightly on a northern flight path meant that the helicopters flew over less populated Lower Dir (it borders Afghanistan), eastward past southern Swat and Buner and past Allai in Batagram district north of Tarbela (this could be the Oghi area north of Tarbela, home to the Black Hills, or Kala Dhaka) and southeast to Abbottabad --
This latter route could have been taken because it passes through generally less populated and remote areas -- definitely lower Dir, Buner, and northern Mansehra and and western Battagram are all mountainous - also it has been reported that two copters stopped in the Kala Dhaka area, which is northwest of Abbottabad -- if the copters were flying at 30-35 metres (according to the deputy air chief who briefed parliament) how come they didnt crash into the mountainside -- and this was at night -- of course they can fly at night but the risks are significant --
Abbottabad as the crow flies west is around 180-200 kilometres from the Afghan border -- i remember reading 110 kms in some news reports -- i wonder where that figure was derived from

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Questions after Laden's death -- as written by VHP spokesman

Received this in my gmail -- some people may want to read it --

Questions After Laden’s Death
May 4th, 2011

After 10 years of cat and mouse game, America, finally managed to kill Laden, the world’s most dreaded terrorist. The authorities on terrorism are right in their assessment that this is not going to end all terrorism as we know it today. This can be an important step in this direction, but this is certainly not the final blow. The war on terror will remain unfinished as long as the ideology of Darul-Islam,which is the goal of jehad against humanity, remains intact. It was this ideology that had given birth to Osama. It is quite possible that after the death of Osama, many more Osamas may emerge adhering to this ideology. New Osamas may prove many times more dangerous than the dead Osama. The red alert having been notified all over the world after the death of Osama is proof enough of this danger that is lurking amidst us. Therefore, this is not the time for celebration, but that of taking a resolve to weed out the jehadi terrorism from its root. ‘This war is not against Islam’, this constant clarification can actually weaken the war against terror. Let the Islamic world decide if the war against terrorism is a war against Islam or not. This is not only a military war, it is also a war of ideology where it must be made clear that the heinous act of shedding innocent blood in the name of jehad will not be forgiven. Only when this fact is established beyond doubt, can humanity rest in peace.

It is a well-known fact that Osama was a product of America itself which was created to be used against Russia, he later proved to be a Frankenstein’s monster for them, as we all saw. This American policy of ‘running with the hare and hunting with the hounds’ can prove disastrous for all, even for a mighty nation like America. Terrorism is a two-edged sword which can kill its own creator. In India, the progenitors of terrorism in Punjab and LTTE, ultimately ended up being consumed by their own creation. Today, America is not taking the terrorism that has taken roots in Pakistan seriously, in fact, at times, it can even be seen encouraging it. Despite India’s constant reminders towards this fact, Americans have ended up mistakenly edifying India only. The denouement of this policy is front of the world now, America’s ally Pakistan only, had hidden Osama in its backyard. It has now been established that America has been immature in thinking that the terrorism emanating out of Pakistan will not harm it in any way. To rid the world of this scourge of bloody terrorism, today the whole world together with America will have to take a resolve to put an end to Islamic terrorism.

India’s home minister, P Chidambaram gave a hasty reaction immediately after the death of Laden, “It is now proved that Pakistan has become a den of terrorists.” This is already a well-known fact. But, who has made India the sanctuary of terrorists? Terrorists are not only being trained here but they are also getting protection. In this country, the custodians of terrorism are rewarded whereas the ones who raise a voice against it are hounded and punished. In this the role of the pseudo-secular brigade of the country must be taken note of, which leaves no stone unturned to favour the terrorists and malign the ones who raise a voice against it. Ishrat Jahan and her relationship with the terrorists are well-known, yet this pseudo-secular brigade is trying all the tricks in the book to prove that she was killed in a fake encounter. Has anything of this sort been asked by the citizens of America, has the encounter of Laden, a sick Laden, been questioned in America as a fake encounter? If an Indian had dared to kill Laden, leave alone being rewarded, he would have either landed in jail or tortured to such an extent that he would have committed suicide, very much the way things happened in Punjab or are happening in Kashmir. It is not only America but the whole world that has commended the killers of Laden and one can be sure that they will be rewarded in the future. The secular brigade of India should do some introspection as to why they always stand behind the terrorists in backing them. In their quest to being seen as the upholders of the muslim society, aren’t they taking them towards a certain hell? Why was the red alert notified in India after Laden’s death? Does the home minister think that the muslims of the country can give a negative reaction whereas the fact is that Laden had proclaimed India as its enemy? This question should be posed to Ram Vilas Paswan, who had procured a Laden-look-alike to campaign with him during the Bihar elections, certainly a very cheap political gimmick to garner muslim votes. Aren’t they again committing the same mistake today by equating the muslims with Laden, the same mistake that they had committed by equating the muslims of the country with Babar during the Raam Janmabhoomi movement?

Laden’s death has proved that these terrorists can be eliminated only in this way. How long will India protect the Kasabs and Afzal Gurus? Ater all, when will they summon enough courage like the Americans have in Pakistan, to finish off Dawood? Do they still expect that Pakistan will hand over these terrorists on a platter to India? How can Pakistan, which has been misleading its mentor, America, for so long, be expected to hand over India’s ‘wanted’ to it? We have had enough of handing over proofs. It is now high time, Pakistan is taught a lesson, only then will India be able to punish its guilty and bid farewell to terrorism in the country.

By Dr. Surendra Jain
National Spokesperson
Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dawn front page lead and back page anchor -- confusing

this story in Dawn on April 12 http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/12/us-asked-to-stop-drone-raids-cut-cia-operations.html has been written by Anwar Iqbal and Masood Haider -- Dawn's Washington and New York correspondents -- they extensively quote from an NYT story -- forget the fact that in some places the attribution is not clear (as in readers cannot really tell whether they have written the story or whether it is the NYT report that they are quoting) but what was bewildering was the fact that this story on the paper's back page (of the same day's edition) by its Peshawar bureau chief Ismail Khan http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/12/pak-military-asks-us-to-significantly-cut-number-of-cia-operatives.html was EXACTLY the same story that Anwar Iqbal and Masood Haider were quoting

Now why would you take as the front page lead a story in NYT when your own reporter co-wrote that story and you have taken that story on your back page anchor


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Driving to Chandigarh to watch the semi-final -- from Pakistan!

Special buses will be run from Lahore to Chandigarh for the semi-final --

Distance between Lahore and Amritsar -- 50 kilometres
Distance between Amritsar and Chandigarh - 217 kilometres

Distance between Lahore and Multan -- 317 kilometres

Lahore and Chandigarh, as the crow flies, and even if one counts the length of the highway and road that connects Lahore to Attari, and then from Attari to Amritsar and then to Chandigarh, is closer than Lahore to Multan

The barriers that we have put up on either side -- how brilliant would it be if we could just drive from Lahore to Chandigarh to watch the semi final

I guess that aint happening in my lifetime

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pakistan wins in quarter-finals -- any celebrations in Balochistan?

Is it just me or all the front-page stories on the nationwide euphoria following Pakistan's massive win over the West Indies in the World Cup quarter-final in Dhaka on Pakistan Day made no mention of anyone celebrating in Balochistan?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nestle: About time you did something to challenge gender stereotypes

On my way to work this morning, while listening to FM 91's show with Sophie, I heard this radio advert by Nestle -- It starts with a male voice -- the husband -- saying "Begum, tum nay packing naheen kee? Murree naheen jana?"

And the woman says, "Naheen, mein bhot thakee huee hoon"

And they end up not going -- and the ad says that the woman is tired because of iron deficiency -- and that had she been drinking Nestle's Milkpak, perhaps this situation wouldn't have materialised -- while more women, statistically speaking, suffer from iron deficiency, the advert does reinforce a very stereotypical image of the woman, rather 'begum', doing all the work in the home (wake up Nestle! of all companies one would have thought you would know that that stereotype is under threat in most Pakistan cities at least) -- of course, it is not difficult to understand why big corporations would, despite the liberal/forward-looking public persona of themselves that they would like for their consumers to believe in or see, would never challenge society's traditions and stereotypes -- for instance why couldn't the husband in the radio ad, after his wife said she was tired, do the packing himself and say "begum fikar naheen karo, mein drive karoonga aur hum zuroor chalain gay" -- good job Nestle -- I am sure ads like these get more and more people to drink Milkpak --

Monday, March 14, 2011

DG ISPR replies to ET's editorial -- but in The News?!

Judge for yourself

Editorial in The Express Tribune -- March 13, 2011


More missiles — or more schools?

Spending on missile defence takes away from our social sector development in an economy, which is estimated to grow by a mere two per cent this year, compared to India’s nine per cent. PHOTO: INP

India and Pakistan have test-fired their nuclear-capable short-range, surface-to-surface, ballistic missiles on the same day, and if one were to say that was coincidental, there would be very few takers. Everything the two neighbours do is a hostile message from one to the other, emanating from costly mutual espionage that they conduct against each other. If tit-for-tat was the motive behind the timing, India wins because it fired two nuclear missiles instead of one. In 1998, when it came to nuclear tests, Pakistan had won because it exploded more devices than India. Pakistan has fired Hatf-2 — hatf means ‘bodiless sound’ but also ‘angel of death’, if you stretch the etymology a little. The Indians leaned on their mythology and named the latest test-fired missiles as Dhanush and Prithvi-2.

Governments on both sides think that they have achieved a higher level of strategic defence or deterrence. Both are proud that the latest versions are more accurate than the ones fired in the past, meaning that, from as far away as 300 miles, they can kill quite accurately, and since they are nuclear-capable, they can kill a large mass of people while crippling the rest forever. Both sides think that the tests are unlikely to aggravate tensions between them. How should the populations of India and Pakistan interpret the assertion by both sides that the tests have been “remarkably accurate and precise”? What is clearly meant is that these weapons will kill more people on both sides with great exactitude. Should the people of India and Pakistan rejoice? And should their thinking change from what they felt when bilateral battles were conventional; and celebrate the reality that a nuclear war could annihilate both sides without anyone winning?

Doctrines of defence have become more sophisticated. Pakistan no longer relies on the declared intent of the ‘other side’. If India says it has no intention of attacking Pakistan, that is not enough; Pakistan will look at the level of India’s war capability to make its decisions about national security. It is the calculus of weapons which now decides how much a country will spend on its military budget. This was also the recipe for the arms race in which two rich nations of the former bipolar world indulged: The US and the USSR.

Take your gaze away from the spectacle of missiles ascending and descending and you will find disparities that no weapon system can equalise. If one looks at India’s growth rate today one can imagine that their missiles cost them not much in terms of how much was spent on them as a percentage of India’s GDP. On the other hand, Pakistan’s missiles have hurt the Pakistani people more because spending on missile defence takes away from their social sector development in an economy which is estimated to grow by a mere two per cent this year, compared to India’s nine per cent. We must remember that it was under the weight of matching the US weaponry that an economically-strapped USSR finally collapsed. And that goes to prove that merely being in an arms race, without actually going into battle, can mean a defeat for either side.

There are other disparities too. Pakistan’s development budget has been halved and most human development projects have been put on hold. Lack of education, or the wrong type of education (where students, even in the mainstream system are indoctrinated), has mired the country in extremism and this is partly the reason for the ongoing governance. India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, growing at rates three to four times more than Pakistan, are well set to meet the millennium development goals by 2015; Pakistan doesn’t have the Rs100 billion needed for education while it is shelling out Rs400 billion to its loss-making state-owned corporations. Historically, Pakistan has spent a scandalously low 2.5 per cent of its GDP on education — now this figure is a mere 1.5 per cent, all this while test-firing missiles that cost an astronomical amount. Meanwhile, some government departments are not being paid salaries; projects crucial to fast-growing cities have been set aside; schools in the countryside are being taken over by local strongmen while pupils sit out in the fields; and the Taliban, who fear nothing from our Hatf missiles, destroy schools in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa without hindrance.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2011.

And the next day, The News had this -- on their front page

DG ISPR decries criticism of defence budget

Monday, March 14, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Athar Abbas has said that the use of funds in civilian departments should be streamlined instead of criticising the defence budget.

Talking to a private TV channel, the DG ISPR said that the Army performs its duties as per government policy. He said to determine the size of the Army is also the government’s job. The Army has to prepare itself according to the defence capabilities of the enemy. No Army in the world can disclose its development budget to the public, he said.

“If the civilian government considers that they could diminish the perils to the country through negotiation with India, then reduction in the Army could take place,” he added. General Athar said several agencies from some enemy countries have been working to drive wedge between the Army and public. Anti-Pakistan elements are trying to establish that the Army is a burden on the national development by criticising the armed forces.

He said under well-planned conspiracies a misleading propaganda is being unleashed about high budget of Pakistan Army. The conspirators are saying that the funds related to defence could be used for prosperity of the country.

“Apart from all plots against the Army, I would like to say that forces always perform their duties within the framework given by the sitting government,” he added.

He said that the budget of defence forces consists of two parts. The portion regarding maintenance funds can be discussed at every forum but the segment of the budget relating to development cannot be publicised as the enemy could get an idea about the areas where development was going to take place, so this portion is always kept secret.

The DG ISPR was of the view that as far as facts and figures are concerned, an analysis of the budget would reveal that the defence budget has decreased ratio-wise. At present, the ratio of defence budget is 14 percent of the national budget.

Some elements are creating the misunderstanding that defence takes away 40 percent of the total budget. He asked it has to be ascertained that the budget allocated to the civilian department was not misused.

He said that the Army presented its report about the presence of thousands of ghost schools as well as fake teachers in Punjab. In recognition of the service rendered by the Army, it was said that the system had been corrected.

He said Pakistan is allocating only $4 billion for defence whereas India’s defence budget is $36 billion. “Before designing our preparedness we have to see how strong our enemy is and what is its capability. We will have to see as to what kinds of weapons it is making. Keeping in view all the facts the defence budget as well as ability is increased,” Athar added.

To Unilever: Stop teaching bad manners to our children

What in the world is Unilever trying to teach children in Pakistan? If anyone has seen the new Surf Excel advertisement, they would know what I am talking about. And for those who haven't. it shows a group of children wearing school uniforms trying to have some fun in the rain -- which is fine, but these children are shown having fun while lowering their pants and jumping around in the water. I am no prude and this isn't an issue of morality or anything, but rather propriety. Is the message that Unilever is sending children, and indirectly their parents, that it is okay to run around in the rain with your pants lowered and exposing your underwear?

Seriously, would Ehsan Malik want his own children to behave in this manner? One would have expected slightly better from a company that calls itself the largest multinational in the so-called FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods)and which in 2010 earned an after-tax profit of over Rs3.2 billion

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Banned Indian channel the most watched on Pakistani cable TV

Yes you read that right -- Star Plus, the Indian television channel otherwise banned in Pakistan, but presumably available in most parts of the country, is the most-watched channel on cable television. In fact, it leads the next most-watched channel, Geo News, by such a wide margin that more people watch Star Plus than the next four channels on the ratings list. Not only that, the top five also includes two other banned Indian channels, Sony and Colors.

Lest people be suspicious of where I'm getting all this from, this is in fact in the public realm, thanks to brandsynario.com, a Pakistani marketing and advertising website, which has posted the results of an exhaustive survey by Media Logic detailing the viewing habits of Pakistanis for 2010. Media Logic is incidentally the same company that does market research and ratings for the industry and hence its findings are normally taken at face value and accepted by all the channels.

There are two ratings lists that are of interest. The first includes local as well as foreign channels and that's where it becomes evident that Star Plus has an average rating that is more than thrice its nearest rival, Geo News. It also shows that both Sony and Colors have ratings higher than any local channel except Geo News. From this ranking, one can also tell that as many people watch Express News as Pogo, a children's channel targeted primarily toward the Indian market (and, from its website, apparently owned by Time Warner, the same company that owns and operates the Cartoon Network).

In the other list, the one that lists only local channels, the surprise is that the second ranked channel after Geo News is the Cartoon Network. In fact, more people watch the Cartoon Network than Geo Entertainment and more people watch Masala TV (a cooking channel) than Dawn News.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stop gunning for Veena Malik

What's with TV anchors gunning for Veena Malik -- did they expect her to wear the burka on Bigg Boss? -- as if she had ever done that in Pakistan and as if Pakistani film heroines wear such attire in Pakistani movies -- why is Kamran Shahid gunning for her? Would he do that with, say, Nawaz Sharif, or better still, Kayani? Also saw a show on Geo where viewers were asked the question (it doesn't come any loaded than this) that did they agree that Veena Malik's demeanour and behaviour on Bigg Boss had insulted Pakistan? The results, when I saw was watching the channel were: 93 per cent said 'yes' and 7 per cent said 'no'. I bet more than half of those 93 per cent (especially if they were men) wouldn't mind seeing Ms Malik dressed in a mini-skirt.

If there's something this country's good at, it's sanctimonious hypocrisy

I have to agree with Ms Malik -- people are going after her because she is a "soft target" -- and surely our TV anchors and channels have better issues to devote themselves to.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Salmaan Taseer's assassination -- pics of victim and killer immediately after the murder

I have not seen these published anywhere -- they may be graphic, one of them at least but I am putting them up on my blog because people need to know of the monster of extremism and intolerance that is slowly eating away us from inside

the first pic is of the governor -- he is shown from the back -- since he was shot from the back -- the police is trying to pick him up and take him to hospital -- in a police van because they presumably wanted immediate medical treatment --

the other pic shows two elite force policemen holding the killer with their feet on his chest and smgs (sub-machine guns pointing at him) -- this must have happened immediately after the assassination

these pics were sent by a friend who did not want to be named -- they were taken by someone (other than him) who was in Mocca at the time -- that is precisely the restaurant where Mr Taseer had been having lunch - incidentally during my last visit to Islamabad, I had coffee at this place with a friend -- and our car was parked more or less in the same spot as Mr Taseer's -- in fact ours too (my friend's that is) was a Honda Accord

Salmaan Taseer -- pics of the killer and the victim

I have not seen these published anywhere -- they may be graphic, one of them at least but I am putting them up on my blog because people need to know of the monster of extremism and intolerance that is slowly eating away us from inside

the first pic is of the governor -- he is shown from the back -- since he was shot from the back -- the police is trying to pick him up and take him to hospital -- in a police van because they presumably wanted immediate medical treatment --