Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Significant News

There has been a lot of significant news in the last few days. Here I merely point out some important articles.

Tarek Fatah reports on how Canadians are reacting to General Pervez Musharraf’s scorn for their soldiers serving in Afghanistan. He provides a short introduction to Pakistan; puts the situation in Pakistan well: “Unlike most countries that have an army, in the case of Pakistan, the army has a country. Whereas the armed forces of most countries are created to defend the national interests of its people, in Pakistan, the army uses the country to protect its own interests, often at variance with those of its citizens.
“… The one factor Gen. Musharraf could not understand in Ms. Off's question was her concern for the ordinary Canadian soldier. This was a concept foreign to most elites in Pakistan, including military officers who count among them the world's richest men.

“For Canadians, the ordinary private's life is worth the same as that of General Rick Hillier. We count the names of each dead soldier and grieve with their families. For Gen. Musharraf, this is a foreign concept.
“Pakistanis are never told the names of the 500 soldiers who died fighting al-Qaeda. The only names that appear are those of the officers. In the nearly dozen wars Pakistan has fought against external and internal foes, the dead infantryman is mere gun fodder, unseen, unheard, and with no memorial to his name.”

A Bully in a Military Uniform
Published: October 2, 2006 (The Globe and Mail)

Many Canadians are rightfully upset at the derisive manner with which Pakistan's ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, mocked our soldiers serving in Afghanistan. Others are simply scratching their heads, not knowing what to make of the machismo of the general as he locked horns with Carole Off of CBC Radio.

Peter Symonds tells us the truth about the President’s attempts to reconcile Karzai and Musharraf: nothing worth mentioning happened.

“Karzai triggered the row by declaring that Pakistan should shut down its "sources of hatred"—the country's Islamic schools or madrassas. He followed up by expressing scepticism about a truce signed earlier in the month between the Pakistani government and local tribal leaders in North Waziristan. Under pressure from Washington, the Pakistani military had sent 70,000 troops into the previously autonomous Pashtun tribal areas near the Afghan border to suppress local sympathy and support for anti-occupation militia fighting in Afghanistan.”

"Musharraf hit back publicly at Karzai, declaring that Afghanistan was a failed state and rejecting claims that Al Qaeda and the Taliban were operating from Pakistan. "None of this is true and Karzai knows it," he told CNN. "He knows that the drug trade is financing the Taliban. He knows that this is not a problem created by Pakistan. But he is turning a blind eye. He is like an ostrich with his head buried in the sand." His open contempt for Karzai was an effort to distinguish himself from someone who is viewed throughout the region as a US puppet.

Behind the Rift Between the Afghan and Pakistani Presidents
Published: October 1, 2006 (Axis of Logic)

US President George Bush’s highly publicised attempt on Wednesday to reconcile two American allies—Afghan and Pakistani presidents Hamid Karzai and General Pervez Musharraf—appears to have come to nought.

Also, see the NPR interview with Musharraf. This is NPR’s summary of the interview: “President Musharraf has categorically denied that Afghanistan's Taliban insurgency originates in Pakistan's restive tribal region. Citing a recent United Nations report while appearing on National Public Radio (NPR), Musharraf presented the conclusion that the Afghan insurgency consists of indigenous Afghans and drug traffickers, pointing blame at Karzai's failed central government.”

Robert L. Pollock tells us that even in the Council on Foreign Relations no one dared challenge Musharraf’s status as a dictator.

The Musharraf Exception
Published: September 29, 2006 (The Wall Street Journal)

Pervez Musharraf is America's favorite dictator. The Bush administration seems to consider the Pakistani general--who took power in a 1999 military coup--an indispensable ally, and has yet to publicly pressure him on the democracy front.

Hamid Mir provides an advance review of Musharraf’s new book. Some useful insights:

“It is clear his book is actually meant for the 2007 election. This is his new election agenda. It is not possible for him to take a popular anti-American line like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. There is only one option for Musharraf and that is to attack India for getting votes in the next election. Somebody around him is still advising him that playing the anti- India sentiment will stabilise his position in domestic politics.”
“Musharraf accuses Dr [A. Q.] Khan, … for supplying nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya. … Now the question is, how one man could supply nuclear secrets and centrifuges from Iran to North Korea without the knowledge of the military establishment in Pakistan? How can a single man transport two-dozen centrifuges weighing more than 24 tons to North Korea single handedly?”

Pakistan Needs a Democracy not a Military President
Published: September 29, 2006 (REDIFF)

Many Pakistanis believe the Kargil operation was a disaster for the 'Kashmir movement' because India was provided an opportunity to say that there were no freedom fighters in Kashmir, they were terrorists.
After 9/11, Musharraf himself declared them terrorists but now, once again, he calls them 'freedom fighters' (in his book). Why?

Charles Sennott describes the continued reality of radical teaching in Pakistan’s madrassas:
"The school starkly illustrates just how radicalized Pakistan has become and how widespread is the support for both bin Laden and the Taliban,… Just before prayers on a recent Friday, Mullah Mohammed Yousef Qureshi, the chief cleric at the Peshawar mosque, railed against American policy and offered the popular theory that Israel orchestrated the 9/11 attacks to draw the United States into a war against Islam. Qureshi is a judge and is regarded as an expert on Sharia, or Islamic law.
'Osama's fatwa [religious edict] regarding war against America is right,' said Qureshi, dressed in the traditional clerical robes and black kohl eyeliner often worn in Pashtun culture as a sign of piety. 'What the US is doing in Iraq and Lebanon and Afghanistan is an attack against all Muslims,' he added.
'We are friends of Osama because he is a friend of Islam and is standing up to the Western world. . . . We are friends of the Taliban because they are working on behalf of Islam.'
…. During the US offensive in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, a Pakistani militia in Dir called the Movement for the Implementation of the Shari'a of Mohammed dispatched some 4,000 jihadists -- a ragtag brigade of shotgun-wielding villagers -- to help the Taliban and Al Qaeda resist the American forces. More than half were killed or captured, according to the No. 2 man in the organization, Maulana Alam Khan. In a small mosque in the remote village of Batkhela , Khan, wearing the black turban of the Taliban, told a visitor last month, 'It is America's actions that have made so many despise it. Before five years ago, you did not hear this hatred for America, not until it began attacking Muslims. And now it is required that we resist.' "

Radical teachings in Pakistan schools
Published: September, 29 2006 (Boston Globe)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- In a bustling, prosperous corner of this capital city stands the gated campus of a religious school, or madrassa, where some 10,000 students study the teachings of the Koran every day.
Abdul Rashid Ghazi, assistant headmaster at the school, sat cross-legged on the floor flanked by a Koran and a Kalashnikov, and asked that a reporter not photograph the weapon because it would ``give the wrong impression."

Afghan Attacks Way Up Since Truce
Published: September 27, 2006 (ABC News)

A U.S. military official said Wednesday that American troops on Afghanistan's eastern border have seen a threefold increase in attacks since a recent truce between Pakistani troops and pro-Taliban tribesmen that was supposed to have stopped cross-border raids by the militants.

Karzai, Musharraf Spar Ahead Of Bush Meeting

Published: September 26, 2006 (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf are continuing a public dispute about who is responsible for terrorism in South Asia. The two have been trading accusations in the United States since each made his respective speech at the UN General Assembly in New York.

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