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India is our eternal enemy: Taliban
Wednesday August 6 2008 00:00 IST PTI

ISLAMABAD: A top local Taliban leader has dismissed contentions by Pakistani officials that India is helping militants in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

"We are true Muslims and true Pakistanis and are more concerned about the country's safety than any other countryman," Maulana Faqir Muhammad, "deputy commander" of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, told the News daily.

He said they consider India as an "eternal enemy". Muhammad, who leads the Pakistani Taliban in the Bajaur tribal region, also rejected reports that al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed or wounded in a recent US missile strike in South Waziristan.

Referring to the Taliban's peace talks with the Pakistan government, he said the authorities were not sincere.

"We are very clear about the talks. We never denied talks with the government. If the government were not aggravating the situation here, we too would not do so. We do not want activities inside the country so that we can focus more attention across the border," Muhammad said.

His comments came as pressure mounted on Pakistan from various countries, including the US and Afghanistan, to rein in militants operating from its soil.

He said the Pakistan government had committed "excesses" in the Swat valley in the North West Frontier Province. "If the government stopped the operations in Swat, the situation would automatically calm down within no time, but if the government continued the operation, it would face more resistance," he warned.
Lankan Tamil terrorist caught in Tamil Nadu
Wednesday August 6 2008 01:04 IST IANS

CHENNAI: A Sri Lankan Tamil terrorist was arrested Tuesday with contraband mobile phones that are able to trigger explosions, an official said.

The suspect, K Selvam, was remanded in judicial custody Tuesday afternoon by a local court.

The number of Sri Lankans arrested with terror attack equipments, including electronic detonators, fuel, bomb components, during the past one week has gone up to six with Selvam's arrest.

The arrested Sri Lankans include Thambianna alias Daniel, a senior operative of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Taleban ‘burn Pakistan schools’

More and more schools are being destroyed in Swat

Suspected pro-Taleban militants have burnt down three more girls’ high schools in the Swat valley of north-west Pakistan, officials say.
Ten schools have been destroyed in the district in the last four days.
Nearly 70 state-run schools have been burnt down in the area in recent months, affecting over 17,000 students.
There has been no word from militant groups in relation to the latest arson attacks, but local militants group have admitted to such attacks in the past.
Correspondents say militant groups trying to enforce strict Islamic law want the schools to be shut down.
The area is now under a night curfew and no fresh incident of violence has been reported so far on Tuesday.
On Monday night, a girls’ high school was set on fire in the Matta area which completely destroyed the library and classrooms.
This was followed by two other attacks on different schools in nearby Mingora and Kanju.
Truce collapse
Figures released by the Pakistani army on Monday said that at least 94 militants, 14 soldiers and around 28 civilians had been killed over the previous week.

The militants deny they are responsible for the attacks

The army says it compiled the militant casualty figures by constantly intercepting their radio messages.
The militants say only 10 of their fighters have died.
The military also said that it would soon launch an all-out offensive against militants in Swat, shattering a fragile deal between the two sides signed two months ago.
Both the militants and the military routinely accuse each other of exaggerating the others’ level of casualties.
Correspondents says that the security situation in Swat has been steadily deteriorating since the breakdown last week of a peace agreement between the government and pro-Taleban cleric Maulana Fazlullah.
The Swat valley has been the scene of an insurgency by his followers since 2007. They want to enforce his version of Islamic Sharia law in the region.
The militants have accused the government of reneging on the terms of May’s deal and have pledged to carry on fighting until all troops are withdrawn from the valley.
Mullah Fazlullah launched a campaign of violence last year, drawing the army into a conflict at a time when militants across north-west Pakistan had launched a wave of suicide attacks on security forces and leading politicians.
The Swat accord was part of the government’s plan to end Islamist militancy through peace deals.
The strategy led to a dramatic drop in suicide bombings but critics say it has also allowed the Taleban to regroup.
Uighurs and China's Xinjiang Region

Preeti Bhattacharji
Council on Foreign Relations
Friday, August 1, 2008; 9:20 AM

The Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), a territory in western China, accounts for one-sixth of China's land and is home to about 20 million people from thirteen major ethnic groups. The largest of these groups is the Uighurs [PRON: WEE-gurs], a predominantly Muslim community with ties to Central Asia. Some Uighurs call China's presence in Xinjiang a form of imperialism, and they stepped up calls for independence -- sometimes violently -- in the 1990s through separatist groups like the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The Chinese government has reacted by promoting the migration of China's ethnic majority, the Han, to Xinjiang. Beijing has also strengthened economic ties with the area and tried to cut off potential sources of separatist support from neighboring states that are linguistically and ethnically linked with the Uighurs.

Intermittent Independence

Since the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, Xinjiang has enjoyed varying degrees of autonomy. Turkic rebels in Xinjiang declared independence in October 1933 and created the Islamic Republic of East Turkestan (also known as the Republic of Uighuristan or the First East Turkistan Republic). The following year, the Republic of China reabsorbed the region. In 1944, factions within Xinjiang again declared independence, this time under the auspices of the Soviet Union, and created the Second East Turkistan Republic. But in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party took over the territory and declared it a Chinese province. In October 1955, Xinjiang became classified as an "autonomous region" of the People's Republic of China.

Some Uighurs, nostalgic for Xinjiang's intermittent periods of independence, call for the recreation of a Uighur state. "The Central Asian Uighurs know a great deal about the two East Turkestan periods of sovereign rule, and they reflect on that quite frequently," says Dru C. Gladney, president of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College. Many of these Uighurs say China colonized the area in 1949. But in its first white paper on Xinjiang, the Chinese government said Xinjiang had been an "inseparable part of the unitary multi-ethnic Chinese nation" since the Western Han Dynasty, which ruled from 206 BC to 24 AD.

Economic Development

Xinjiang's wealth hinges on its vast mineral and oil deposits. In the early 1990s, Beijing decided to spur Xinjiang's growth by giving it special economic zones, subsidizing local cotton farmers, and overhauling its tax system. In August 1991, the Xinjiang government launched the Tarim Basin Project (World Bank) to increase agricultural output. During this period, Beijing invested in the region's infrastructure, building massive projects like the Tarim Desert Highway and a rail link to western Xinjiang. In an article for The China Quarterly, Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch says these projects were designed to literally "bind Xinjiang more closely to the rest of the PRC."

Since 1954, China has also used the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) to build agricultural settlements in China's western periphery. Locally known as the Bingtuan, the XPCC is charged with cultivating and guarding the Chinese frontier. To achieve this mission, the corps has its own security organs, including an armed police force and militia. Over the past fifty years, the XPCC has attracted a steady stream of migrant workers to Xinjiang.

Beijing continues to develop Xinjiang in campaigns called "Open up the West" and "Go West." These economic programs have been relatively successful: Xinjiang has become one of the wealthiest parts of China."If you look at the general per capita income of Xinjiang as a region, it's higher than all of China's except for the southeast coast," says Gladney. International development bodies like the Asian Development Bank say that despite Xinjiang's growth, there are high levels of inequality (PDF) in the area. But the Chinese government has launched a series of programs to alleviate poverty in Xinjiang, and in March 2008, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao emphasized harmonious development of the region in a government report.

Han Migration

Growing job opportunities in Xinjiang have lured a steady stream of migrant workers to the region, many of whom are ethnically Han. The Chinese government does not count the number of workers that travel to Xinjiang, but experts say the local Han population has risen from approximately 5 percent in the 1940s to approximately 40 percent today. These migrants work in a variety of industries, both low tech and high tech, and have transformed Xinjiang's landscape. In June 2008, the BBC produced a photo report called Life in Urumqi, which said Xinjiang's capital had recently witnessed "the arrival of shopping centres, tower blocks, department stores and highways."

In its 2007 annual report to the U.S. Congress, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China said the Chinese government "provides incentives for migration to the region from elsewhere in China, in the name of recruiting talent and promoting stability" (PDF). Since imperial times, the Chinese government has tried to settle Han on the outskirts of China to integrate the Chinese periphery. But the Communist Party says its policies in Xinjiang are designed to promote economic development, not demographic change. Xinjiang's influx of migrants has fueled Uighur discontent as Han and Uighurs compete over limited jobs and natural resources.

Ethnic Tension

The Chinese government says Xinjiang is home to thirteen major ethnic groups. The largest of these groups is the Uighurs, who comprise 45 percent of Xinjiang's population, according to a 2003 census. Like many of these groups, the Uighurs are predominantly Muslim and have cultural ties to Central Asia.


As Han migrants pour into Xinjiang, many Uighurs resent the strain they place on limited resources like land and water. "Uighurs feel like this is their homeland, that these resources should be more devoted to them," says Gladney. In 2006, Human Rights in China said population growth in Xinjiang had transformed the local environment, leading to "reduced human access to clean water (PDF) and fertile soil for drinking, irrigation and agriculture."

Ethnic tension is fanned by economic disparity: the Han tend to be wealthier than the Uighurs in Xinjiang. Some experts say the wage gap is the result of discriminatory hiring practices. The Congressional-Executive Commission on China reports that in 2006, the XPCC reserved approximately 800 of 840 civil servant job openings for Han. Local officials say they would like to hire Uighurs, but have trouble finding qualified candidates. "One common problem of the western region is that the education and cultural level of the people here is quite low," said Wang Lequan, Xinjiang's Communist Party secretary, in an interview with the BBC. Gladney says Han applicants tend to have better professional networks because they are more often "influential, children of elite Party members and government leaders."

According to Bequelin, Uighurs are also upset by what they consider Chinese attempts to "refashion their cultural and religious identity." In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Rebiyah Kadeer, a prominent exiled Uighur, condemns China for its "fierce repression of religious expression," and "its intolerance for any expression of discontent." Beijing officials respond to these accusations by saying they respect China's ethnic minorities, and have improved the quality of life for Uighurs by raising economic, public health, and education levels in Xinjiang.

Terrorism and Counterterrorism

During the 1990s, separatist groups in Xinjiang began frequent attacks against the Chinese government. The most famous of these groups was the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). China, the United States, and the UN Security Council have all labeled ETIM a terrorist organization, and Chinese officials have said the group has ties to al-Qaeda. Concern about Uighur terrorism flared in July 2008 -- two weeks before the Beijing Olympics -- when a group calling itself the Turkistan Islamic Party took credit for a series of terrorist attacks (Xinhua), including two bus explosions in Yunnan province.

The Chinese government has taken steps to combat both separatists and terrorists in its western province. According to the U.S. State Department, Chinese authorities raided an alleged ETIM camp in January 2007, killing eighteen and arresting seventeen. China also monitors religious activity in the region to keep religious leaders from spreading separatist views. Since September 11, 2001, China has raised international awareness of Uighur-related terrorism and linked its actions to the Bush administration's so-called war on terror.

But many experts say China is exaggerating the danger posed by Uighur terrorists. China has accused the Uighurs of plotting thousands of attacks, but Andrew J. Nathan, chair of the political science department at Columbia University, says, "You have to be very suspicious of those numbers." Gladney notes that many of the "terrorist incidents" that China attributes to ETIM are actually "spontaneous and rather disorganized" forms of civil unrest. Most experts say ETIM has no effective ties to al-Qaeda, and Bequelin goes so far as to say, "ETIM is probably defunct by now, as far as we know." In a 2008 report, Amnesty International accused Chinese officials of using the war on terror to justify "harsh repression of ethnic Uighurs." But in Xinhua, a state-run newspaper, Chinese rights organizations refuted the Amnesty report, saying it was designed to slander China under the pretense of human rights.

Experts disagree on the efficacy of China's counterterrorism measures. Some, including Bequelin, say China's anti-separatist campaign actually provokes more resentment, which can lead to more terrorism. But other Western outlets say China's counterterrorism measures have been relatively successful. A review of U.S. State Department documents shows a decrease in Uighur-related terrorism since the end of the 1990s.

Tough Neighborhood

Xinjiang shares a border with Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and the Tibet Autonomous Region. Because of the Uighurs' cultural ties to its neighbors, China has been concerned that Central Asian states may back a separatist movement in Xinjiang. According to Nathan, these fears are fueled by the fact that the Soviet Union successfully backed a Uighur separatist movement in the 1940s. To keep Central Asian states from fomenting trouble in Xinjiang, China has cultivated close diplomatic ties with its neighbors, most notably through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. According to Bequelin, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was created "to ensure the support of Central Asian states," and to "prevent any emergence of linkages between Uighur communities in these countries and Xinjiang."

Many experts believe China's diplomatic efforts have been successful. Adam Segal, senior fellow for China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, says China's neighbors "are now fighting their own Muslim fundamentalist groups," which makes them more sympathetic to China's plight. According to the U.S. State Department, Uzbekistan extradited a Canadian citizen of Uighur ethnicity to China in August 2006, where he was convicted for alleged involvement in ETIM activities. Nathan says cases like these are evidence that China's neighbors are cooperating with China's anti-secessionist policies. In contrast, the United States refused to hand over five Uighurs who had been captured by U.S. forces in Pakistan in 2001, despite Chinese calls to do so. After their release from Guantanamo Bay in May 2006, the Uighurs were instead transferred to Albania.

None of China's neighbors have expressed official support for the Uighurs, but the region's porous borders still worry Chinese officials. In the 1980s and 1990s, many Uighurs traveled into Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they were exposed to Islamic extremism. "Some enrolled in madrassas, some enrolled with [the anti-Taliban opposition force] the Northern Alliance, some enrolled with the Taliban, some enrolled with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan," says Bequelin. Chinese officials worry that militants who slip in and out of Xinjiang can promote anti-state activity.

International Disinterest

In the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, protests in Tibet reaped international attention. But protests in Xinjiang (IHT) went relatively unnoticed. "People aren't threatening to boycott the Olympic opening ceremony for the Uighurs," says Segal. Because Tibet gets more global attention than Xinjiang, some reporters have referred to Xinjiang as "China's other Tibet" (al-Jazeera).

International interest in Xinjiang is muted for a variety of reasons. According to Nathan, the Uighur community lacks an effective leader. "For the Uighurs, their most prominent spokesperson is Rebiya Kadeer in Washington, who really doesn't have the infrastructure and the Nobel Prize that the Dalai Lama has," he says. Bequelin adds that the Chinese government has effectively branded Uighur separatists as terrorists, which has reduced international sympathy for their mission. Amidst international apathy, most experts say the human rights situation in Xinjiang is likely to get worse before it gets better. "There's no international pressure to change policy in Xinjiang right now," says Segal. "So why would China make any changes?"

Why Terror Flourishes in Pakistan

5 Aug 2008,Subodh Varma,TNN

NEW DELHI: In the Global War on Terror (GWOT) declared by the United States after the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan has occupied a key status. In the past seven years, the US government has given over $10 billion to Pakistan for the specific purpose of fighting extremists and helping in the war in Afghanistan. Over 80% of cargo and 40% of fuel supplies for the US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan pass through Pakistan.

Yet, Pakistan has slowly descended into an ever-widening whirlpool of extremist violence, with its western region bordering Afghanistan becoming a virtual safe haven for extremists. Data from the World Incident Tracking System of the US National Counter-terrorism Centre shows that more people were killed in terror attacks in Pakistan than in Afghanistan in 2008 (527 against 351 till March). While the number of deaths in such incidents was under 400 from 2004 to 2006, they went up to 1,335 in 2007 and the trend in the current year suggests it could be worse.

The ‘long war’ against international terrorism appears to be floundering right next door to India, which is itself fighting an increasing terrorist threat, often with links in Pakistan. So, why is it that despite the full backing of the world’s foremost economic and military power, terror continues to flourish in Pakistan?

Recent hearings of the US Congress, and audit reports of the funding of GWOT in Pakistan have, for the first time, started giving answers to this question. At a recent hearing of the sub-committee on Middle East and South Asia, its chairman, Gary Ackerman sarcastically noted that US foreign assistance has three pillars — lawyers, guns and money, except that, in Pakistan, only these pillars are there, without any structure to uphold.

Experts say that the huge funding has largely gone to shore up Pakistan’s military facilities and line the pockets of the military establishment. According to the testimony of Gene Dodaro, acting comptroller general before a Senate sub-committee in May this year, of the $5.56 billion directed at the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), 96% was spent on military, 3% on border security and just 1% ($40 million) on developmental activities. FATA, which has a 600km long border with Afghanistan and has become a safe haven for extremists, remains a very poor and backward region.

In a belated recognition of the need to spend on development, President Bush in 2007 announced a five-year programme for spending $1 billion for economic and social development in FATA. Even, this has come under question with Mark Ward, a senior official in USAID admitting that up to 30% of such funds may be costed as overheads and never leave the US.

The propensity of the US government to keep funding the military in Pakistan, which in turn bargains for ever more, has come in for increasing criticism. In his testimony before a House sub-committee, Husain Haqqani, director, Center for International Relations, Boston University said that between 1954 and 2002, “on average, US aid to Pakistan amounted to $382.9 million for each year of military rule compared with only $178.9 per annum under civilian leadership.”

Apart from the fact that much of the funding is misdirected, there is accumulating evidence of embezzlement too. “The Bush administration has provided $1.6 billion in foreign military financing and $5.56 billion in coalition support funds. The former funds to buy radars and antisubmarine planes to track the nonexistent al-Qaida air force and navy, and the latter funds disappeared into the Pakistani treasury for unspecified services allegedly rendered,” Ackerman said at the hearing.

An audit done by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) of the expenditure incurred by Pakistan from the Coalition Support Fund given under GWOT during 2004-2007, found huge anomalies in the government’s claims for reimbursements of over $2.2 billion.

These included expenses claimed without backing of documents, unreasonably high rates for certain items, like food for navy sailors billed at $800 per month, claims for construction of bunkers and roads without any evidence of these actually being built, and using a standard exchange rate for conversion of dollars to Pakistani rupees even though the rupee’s value had declined by over 6% during the period.

Meanwhile, Pakistan continues to reel under economic and social backwardness, with nearly 10% unemployment and a 34% literacy rate. In the FATA, literacy is a shocking 2%. No political parties are allowed and a special law — Frontier Crimes Regulation of 1901 — governs its 3.1 million people, with no recourse to appeal.

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Pakistan coalition agrees to impeach Musharraf

by Rana Jawad

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan faced fresh political turmoil on Thursday after officials said the country’s ruling coalition had agreed to impeach President Pervez Musharraf, a vital US ally in the “war on terror.”

The agreement came after three days of marathon talks between coalition leaders Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and Nawaz Sharif, another ex-premier.

“The coalition parties have agreed in principle to launch an impeachment motion against President Musharraf,” a senior coalition official told AFP on condition of anonymity.


Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari (left) and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif (right) share a light moment with coalition leader Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman (centre), head of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam during a meeting in Islamabad on August 6. Pakistan faced fresh political turmoil after officials said the country’s ruling coalition agreed to impeach President Pervez Musharraf.

The government had summoned the national assembly, or lower house of parliament, to sit on August 11 but it was not immediately known when any moves to start impeachment proceedings would begin, the official added.

Musharraf’s spokesman was not available for comment but officials said the president had again delayed his departure to Beijing, where he was to attend to the opening of the Olympic Games on Friday.

Spokesmen for the two main parties in the coalition said a formal announcement was due to be made later Thursday.

Musharraf seized power in a military coup in October 1999 and ruled nuclear-armed Pakistan for eight years with the backing of the United States, which has counted him as a key ally since the September 11 attacks.

Above: President Musharraf

But his popularity slumped after he ousted the country’s chief justice and imposed a state of emergency in November 2007 to prevent any challenges to his re-election as president.

Musharraf stepped down as army chief that month, and the parties of Bhutto and Sharif subsequently trounced his allies in general elections in February.

Coalition sources said the agreement to impeach came when Sharif assured Zardari that he could count on the support of some former members of the PML-N who are currently members of a pro-Musharraf party.

“There was a major breakthrough in the talks late last night. We have agreed to impeach the president,” a senior member of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party said.

An official from Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party, now led by her widower Zardari, confirmed the decision.

The parties have also agreed to restore judges sacked by Musharraf under emergency rule but were still working out the details, party sources said.
They said that a charge sheet on Musharraf’s position and performance as president would be drawn up and submitted to parliament to be signed by at least half of all MPs in the coming days.

The speaker of the national assembly, or lower house of parliament, would then notify Musharraf and ask him to defend his position within seven to 15 days, they said.

As president, Musharraf theoretically has the option of dissolving parliament and holding new elections, or even declaring another state of emergency to deflect any impeachment attempt.

The coalition had been split by the twin issues of what to do about Musharraf and how to carry out their pledge to reinstate the judges.

The rift had effectively paralysed the government, which is under huge US pressure over its efforts to negotiate with Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants. It is also facing public anger over rising food and fuel prices.
SIMI has terror links with Pakistan: Muslim body
Friday August 8 2008 19:44 IST IANS

NEW DELHI: The All India Minority Front on Friday said it had evidence that the outlawed Students Islamic of Movement of India (SIMI) had links with terror outfits in Pakistan.

"We have evidence of SIMI's links with Pakistani terror outfits and are ready to provide it to the central government provided we are assured security," Front national president S.M. Asif told reporters here.

"We have spoken to various Muslim people who have proof in this regard but they fear for their lives," Asif said.

"We want SIMI should be banned and punished. The minorities in the country are opposed to all sorts of militancy. Even then Muslims suffer whenever there is any terror attack in the country," Asif said.

Attacking Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav for demanding that the ban on SIMI be lifted, Asif said: "They are supporting the outfit only for political gains."
Tibetans detained for trying to storm Chinese embassy
Friday August 8 2008 20:24 IST IANS

NEW DELHI: Around 100 Tibetan activists protesting against the Beijing Olympics were detained Friday evening when they tried to storm the Chinese embassy here, the police said.

The activists, armed with placards and banners and sporting headbands, arrived in three buses and tried to reach the heavily guarded embassy in the diplomatic enclave around 5.45 p.m., coinciding with the opening of the Beijing Olympics.

Holding Tibetan flags, the protestors clashed with the large number of police personnel who have been guarding the embassy for months.

The police said the Tibetans were immediately overpowered and taken to the Chankyapuri police station.

“We will register a case against them and they will be (formally) arrested,” a police official told IANS.

The Chinese embassy has been under heavy guard ever since anti-China protests erupted in Tibet in March. Barricades with concertina wires have been erected to keep away demonstrators.

With the Olympics starting in China Friday, the police deployed water cannons and reserves to foil protests and possible attempts to sneak into the embassy.

India is home to the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, and an estimated 100,000 Tibetan exiles. The Dalai Lama's government-in-exile is based in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala.
Pakistan army to ask Pervez Musharraf to resign

Pakistan's all-powerful army chief will ask President Pervez Musharraf to resign from office within a week, a senior government official claimed today.

By Isambard Wilkinson in Islamabad


Last Updated: 6:48PM BST 08 Aug 2008

The claim was supported by a former military aide to the president who said that the army's leadership wished Mr Musharraf to be spared the humiliation of impeachment.

The civilian government intensified an attritional, seven-month long power struggle with the presidency when it announced earlier this week that it is to begin impeachment proceedings against Mr Musharraf on Monday.
The twin arbiters of power in Pakistan, the army chief of staff, Gen Ashfaq Kiyani, and America, which has provided dollars 12 billion in military aid to the country in the last six years, have publicly declared themselves to be neutral on Pakistan's domestic politics.

However a senior official from the ruling government coalition partner, the Pakistan's People's Party (PPP) said that the army has "whispered in Musharraf's ear that it is time to leave".

"Over the next few days they will make it clear to him [Musharraf] that a protracted battle [against impeachment] is not in Pakistan's interests," he added.

Yesterday Pakistan's political class had an ear strenuously cocked for hints as to which way the army will move as Gen Kiyani spent a second day in conference with his senior commanders.

The former military aide to Mr Musharraf said: "The army is neutral but is expecting him to resign. It will then influence his honourable safe passage as the army's senior leadership would not want him to be punished".
The PPP government official said that his party had given an assurance of "indemnity" to the president.

The official, who has top-level contacts with Washington, said that his party had instigated the impeachment because Mr Musharraf, a key ally in the US-led war on terror, had begun to use intelligence agencies to plot against the government.

He alleged that Mr Musharraf had tried to use a former PPP leader, Amin Fahim, to "instigate a rebellion within the party".

"Washington was still hoping that the PPP would work with Musharraf, but he was not working with us," he said.
"America wants Pakistan to be effectively governed and so has realised that the domestic struggle has to be resolved", he added.

Mr Musharraf's future remained opaque as it is dependant on the unpredictable brinkmanship of Pakistani politics.

His allies said yesterday that he will defend himself against impeachment, if necessary by dissolving parliament and thereby risking that the volatile country be further mired in turmoil.

Shujaat Hussain, the head of Mr Musharraf's Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), which lost elections in February, said that dissolving parliament would be " unfortunate" but it may be "necessary".

He told The Daily Telegraph that he had evidence that the move to impeach the president was made after the usually bickering coalition partners had struck a deal to hand the presidency to Asif Zardari, the PPP leader and widower of the assassinated former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

Mr Hussain said that presidential candidacy of Mr Zardari, who was granted an amnesty by Mr Musharraf absolving him of corruption charges involving hundreds of millions of dollars, would be opposed by the army.

"I have no knowledge of that but Pakistan would be better served by a civilian president with a knowledge of democracy," a PPP spokesman said of Mr Zardari's alleged presidential bid.

Provincial assemblies will first be called on to pass resolutions demanding that Musharraf seek a vote of confidence from Parliament, which would show whether he has the support of lawmakers elected in February.

  • The coalition is currently several seats short of the 295 votes it requires out of the 439 in the Senate and National Assembly to remove Musharraf.

  • Zardari's Pakistan People's Party and Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz, together with smaller coalition partners, have 266 seats and need a further 29 MPs on side, likely to be from the troubled tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

  • The party of ex-Premier Nawaz Sharif said Friday it is rejoining the Cabinet, a gesture of solidarity now that the coalition partners have agreed to seek President Pervez Musharraf's impeachment.

  • A poll by the International Republican Institute in June showed that 85 percent of Pakistanis believed that the president should resign.
Why Pakistan is unlikely to crack down on Islamic militants, despite U.S. pressure

By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers, August 1, 2008
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration and its allies are pressing Pakistan to end its support for Afghan insurgents linked to al Qaida, but Pakistani generals are unlikely to be swayed because they increasingly see their interests diverging from those of the United States, U.S. and foreign experts said.

The administration sought to ratchet up the pressure last month by sending top U.S. military and intelligence officials to Pakistan to confront officials there with intelligence linking Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence to the Taliban and other militant Islamist groups.

When that failed to produce the desired response, U.S. officials told news organizations about the visit, and then revealed that the intelligence included an intercepted communication between ISI officers and a pro-Taliban network that carried out a July 7 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, the Afghan capital.

The United States and Britain privately have demanded that Pakistan move against the Taliban’s top leadership, which they contend is based near Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province, said a State Department official and a senior NATO defense official, who both requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Pakistan has been given “a pretty unequivocal message” to end ISI support for the militants and shake up the top ranks of the intelligence agency, the senior NATO defense official said.

On Friday, however, Pakistan vehemently rejected the allegations of ISI involvement in the Indian Embassy blast, which killed 41 and injured 141.
U.S. officials and experts said there’s little chance that Pakistan will take any of the actions it’s been asked to take.

“There is a limit to what we can do in Pakistan,” said the State Department official.

“The fact that we’re reduced to trying to send messages to the Pakistanis by putting stories in (newspapers) tells you we don’t have any good options,” said a former senior intelligence official knowledgeable about South Asia. “It also suggests that the high-level, face-to-face contacts haven’t worked so far. The trouble is, these kinds of public threats are likely to backfire.”

For one thing, the Taliban and other groups allied with al Qaida could respond to any Pakistani crackdown by stepping up attacks inside Pakistan, which is battling Islamic extremist violence, U.S. officials and experts said.

Furthermore, they said, Pakistan’s nearly dysfunctional, feud-riddled civilian government has little power over the Army and the ISI. The latest evidence was a botched attempt under U.S. pressure to put the agency under the Interior Ministry before Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani’s three-day visit to Washington this week.

Pakistani generals and other leaders are also infuriated by President Bush’s pursuit of a strategic relationship with India, their foe in three wars, as embodied by a U.S.-Indian civilian nuclear cooperation pact that won United Nations approval Friday, the U.S. officials and experts said.
“One thing we never understood is that India has always been the major threat for Pakistan,” said former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlain, now the president of the Middle East Institute.
Pakistan is alarmed by India’s close ties to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and its growing influence in Afghanistan, where a $750 million Indian aid program includes the construction of a strategic highway that will open the landlocked country to Indian goods shipped through ports in Iran.
Pakistan, which refuses to allow Indian products through its port of Karachi, has long coveted Afghanistan as a market, a trade route to central Asia and a rear area for its army in any new conflict with India.
“Pakistan over the last several years has increasingly come to believe that it is being encircled by India and a U.S.-India-Afghan axis,” said Seth Jones, an expert with the RAND Corp., a policy institute.

For these reasons, Pakistan’s military leaders may have decided to scale back their cooperation with the Bush administration’s war against terrorism and boost support for the Taliban and other militant groups.

“We have created a set of perverse incentives for the Pakistanis to continue their support for the Taliban,” said a U.S. defense official, who requested anonymity to speak frankly. “Pakistan does not view the United States as a long-term player in the region and certainly doesn’t view Pakistan’s strategic interests as congruent with ours, and that divergence is getting larger, not smaller.”

Without a strategy to allay Pakistan’s fears, U.S. officials and experts warned, there’s little point in sending more U.S. and NATO troops to Afghanistan as Bush, Democratic candidate Barak Obama and his GOP rival, John McCain, all advocate.

Pakistan vehemently denies backing the Taliban and other insurgents, pointing out that it’s lost hundreds of troops in U.S.-funded counter-insurgency offensives.

But many Afghan and U.S. officials scoff at Pakistan’s denials, charging that the Taliban leadership operates undisturbed in Quetta and nearby tribal areas with ISI support, guidance, money and weapons.
Bush, anxious to maintain Pakistani support in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other al Qaida leaders, apparently believed that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, the former Army chief, would rein in the ISI.
But that hope has proved to be misplaced. Truces forged by the ISI and the Pakistani army freed Taliban and other fighters to fight in Afghanistan, where the worst violence since the 2001 U.S. intervention is claiming higher U.S. casualties than in Iraq for the first time.

On Friday, five more NATO troops were reported killed in eastern Afghanistan, a sector where U.S. troops are stationed.

Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and CIA Deputy Director Stephen R. Kappes went to Pakistan to confront Prime Minister Gilani, Army Chief of Staff Ashfaq Kayani and ISI Director Lt. Gen. Naveed Taj with the intelligence linking ISI officers to the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan.

The Americans also documented other support that ISI officers have been giving the Taliban and other militant groups, including advance warnings of U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal region, said the State Department official and senior NATO defense official.

“There is good evidence that elements of the ISI have re-engaged with the Taliban,” said the senior NATO defense official.

Gilani and his delegation heard similar complaints in Washington, according to American and Pakistani officials. Pakistan Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar told a television interviewer that Bush asked during a White House meeting, “Who is in control of ISI?”

Huge explosion at Marriott Hotel in Pakistani capital kills at least 40 people

By ASIF SHAHZAD |Associated Press Writer1:07 PM EDT, September 20, 2008 ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ A massive suicide truck bomb devastated the heavily guarded Marriott Hotel in Pakistan's capital Saturday, killing at least 40 people and wounding at least 100. Officials feared there were dozens more dead inside the burning building.

The blast targeting the U.S. hotel chain appeared to be one of the largest terrorist attacks ever in Pakistan, leaving a vast crater some 30 feet deep in front of the main building, where rescuers ferried a stream of bloodied bodies.

The five-story Marriott had been a favorite place for foreigners as well as Pakistani politicians and business people to stay and socialize in Islamabad despite repeated militant attacks.

The attack came just hours after President Asif Ali Zardari made his first address to Parliament and days ahead of the new leader's meeting with President Bush Tuesday in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
Pakistan - As you sow so shall you reap

Since Pakistan’s independence in 1947, a central goal of Pakistani governments has been bringing an end to India’s political control of the Muslim-dominated Kashmir region of India’s Jammu and Kashmir state . To achieve this they had gone to the extent of training terrorists , spread hatred . Has this strategy worked? Definitely No.

Inflation has hit a 30 year high(25.33%) and Zardari was recently looking for cash lifeline from the US . Foreign exchange reserves fell to $8.89 billion as of September 3, down from $9.13 billion on August 30. The central bank’s reserves shrunk to $5.5 billion from $5.76 billion . With missile strikes from the outside and terrorist’s bombing from the inside , Pakistan is in a mess.

Rather than focusing on internal issues , their leaders are still focusing on Jammu and Kashmir , though they are showing a different face to the world. Today common man in pakistan still supports terrorism and Pakistan is home to many Islamist extremists, some with links to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Author of “DIVIDE PAKISTAN TO ELIMINATE TERRORISM” , Syed Jamaluddin is an active writer on issues concerning Pakistan’s involvement in various terrorist activities in the South Asian region. He liaised with political and religious parties of Pakistan as well as Government agencies. “DIVIDE PAKISTAN TO ELIMINATE TERRORISM” is Syed Jamaluddin’s vision to address issues related to combatting terrorism emanating from Pakistan which have dramatically transformed the entire region into a systematically controlled network having vicious effects to the grobal peace.

Syed’s Blog is http://www.dividepakistan.blogspot.com/
Perhaps this is one option US should consider in its fight against terrorism.
Was that Pakistan’s 9/11? Beena Sarwar
The attack on the high-security Marriott hotel had greater symbolic significance.
[SIZE=-2] — Photo: AP [/SIZE]

CLEAR MESSAGE: The attackers of Marriott hotel in Islamabad care nothing for democracy or religion.
The truck laden with 1000 kg of explosives that suicide attackers rammed into the high-security Marriott hotel in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad on September 20, 2008 demolished a major power symbol, prompting many to call it “Pakistan’s 9/11.” Although the number of casualties, around 60, was far below the over 150 killed in the attack on late former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s welcome procession of October 18 last year, this attack had greater symbolic significance.
Many foreigners patronise the five-storey, 290-room hotel that was also reportedly being used for a covert operation by U.S. Marines, who were seen unloading a U.S. Embassy truckload of steel boxes the night of September 17 — the day Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani met U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen in Islamabad and convinced him to cease America’s military incursions into Pakistan.
The Marriott’s physical proximity to the country’s power centres places it in a high-security area near the Parliament, Supreme Court, Presidency and Diplomatic Enclave that houses many foreign missions, including the American, British, and Indian, close to several television and radio stations. Although most casualties were Pakistani — security guards and drivers — the dozen foreigners killed included American, German and Vietnamese citizens, besides the Czech Ambassador.
The attack was symbolically timed. It overshadowed the newly elected President’s maiden address to the joint parliamentary session of the National Assembly (elected representatives of the federal parliament) and the Senate (upper house) hours earlier. Beefed up security ahead of the address is believed to have deflected the attack from the National Assembly, which may have been its original target.
Then, the attackers struck at a traditionally peaceful time of daily thanksgiving, soon after ‘iftar’ when Muslims end their dawn-to-dusk fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
The message was clear: they can strike Pakistan’s capital, and they care nothing for democracy or for religion.
No one has claimed responsibility but the attack is assumed to be work of Pakistani Taliban (closely allied with Al-Qaeda) who have strongholds in the country’s north-west bordering Afghanistan. The American attack on this area on September 3 barely two days after Pakistan’s President took oath and subsequent such strikes generated great resentment. However, Pakistan’s threat of retaliation against these incursions has little meaning given America’s military might, and Pakistan’s client state status and heavy dependence on the U.S. And yet there are plenty of emotionally charged up people here who are eager to fight America.
These American strikes, apparently driven by the Bush administration’s need to boost the Republicans before the upcoming elections, illustrate American highhandedness and shortsightedness as they undermine Pakistani democracy which many see as the only hope for winning this war.

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