Eye on Pakistan

In America’s Sights: First Nigeria…Now Jordan

Posted in Foreign Affairs by onpakistan on January 5, 2010

The capture of a Nigerian would-be bomber by the Americans led to the inclusion of Nigerian travelers to the US into the recently instituted ‘extended security’ list. Well, in my previous blog entry, on this very issue, I mentioned as an aside that Jordan may well end up on this list too. Now that we have learnt that the recent bombing of a CIA base in Afghanistan was carried out by a Jordanian (the Jordanians and the CIA thought he was their double agent, it turned out he was a triple agent), I am sure that Jordan will be added to the list. Perhaps, like Microsoft, they’ll roll-out monthly security updates until all countries have been added…

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PIA the First to Submit to America

Posted in Domestic Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Political Economy by onpakistan on January 4, 2010

Foreign nationals (and American ethnic minorities, no doubt!) flying in from 14 “predominantly Muslim” countries are to undergo “enhanced screening” at American airports. (Official TSA announcement here).

According to press reports, and a statement from the airline itself, PIA was the first airline to submit to these procedures, and had done so from the 2nd of January: “Sultan Hasan said the passengers are subjected to special screening, including full body searches, in a designated area of the departure lounge. He said the airline had run advertisements in newspapers to warn prospective passengers of the increased safety measures.” How kind of PIA to offer itself as an advance guinea pig for the new procedures!

This is part of a wider trend towards increased American jurisdiction and control over Pakistani nationals. This is occurring through both legal treaty, and unofficially. The case of Aafia Siddiqui is already well known ( and quite rightly called the “tip of the iceberg”), but there are other recent insidious trends in the same direction. I have already blogged about how Pakistani government attempts to channel money flows in and out of Pakistan through the institutionalized and regulated banking sector will allow for greater U.S. control of Pakistani money transactions. Now this: the Pakistani government has conveniently discovered that it can actually legally deport Pakistanis to America: “We have an extradition treaty with the US,” Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said at a recent media briefing. The basis is, rather flimsily, a US-UK accord dating back to 1932!! Zardari et al clearly want to protect themselves from torture and human rights-based litigation once they retire to their palatial mansions in the UK or Switzerland.

But why bother with formal extradition, when the Pakistani government has allowed American security forces and mercenaries to harass Pakistani citizens in their own homes…in Pakistan? (At least this ‘fortunate’ woman was not dragged off to Bagram, or reditioned to be tortured in Syria – like this unfortunate, and almost randomly chosen, Canadian citizen).

Talk of tortue, ofcourse, takes one back to the countries chosen for additional screening (strip searches anyone?) by the US authorities. They are:

Saudi Arabia

What an assorted bunch they are. They include strong allies of the US (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia), sworn enemies (Iran, Cuba, Syria), client-states (Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon) and, interesting, governments which happily torture on behalf of the US: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Algeria, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya. I would not be surprised if Jordan is eventually added: it is both a client-state and lead-torturer.

A final note on PIA. It is in under imminent threat of bankruptcy. It cannot even now pay for the government’s five (yes, five!!) private VVIP jets.  Responsibility for their financial upkeep has now been transferred to the military. (see this report) This may be in preparation for an eventual privatization of PIA. Once the Arabs purchase PIA (and the Arabs are the only politically viable purchasors), the airline will no doubt further fall prey to American security demands. Whilst Bilawal and his buddies will continue to fly in VVIP comfort, Pakistan’s flying masses will have to get used to used to KESC-style service (KESC having been rather disastr0usly sold to Dubai-based Abraaj Capital a while back).

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US-Nato Forces Execute 10 Afghan Civilians, including 8 Children

Posted in Foreign Affairs by onpakistan on January 1, 2010

With news reports such as this, can anyone now doubt that the American-led occupation of Afghanistan will end soon? When they leave, Karzai’s government will fall faster than Najibullah’s following the Soviet withdrawal….

(Even the US-supporting London The Times concedes the execution of these children, see this).

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Pakistani Government Denies Visa to Leading Indian Kashmiri Politician

Posted in Foreign Affairs by onpakistan on December 21, 2009

You wouldn’t hear about this in the Pakistani press or from Pakistani bloggers. So here it is:

Mehbooba Mufti, leader of the People’s Democratic Party, has had to cancel her participation in a conference here after she was unable to obtain a visa to travel to Pakistan. The organisers of the “South Asia 2060” conference, the Islamabad-based Sustainable Development Policy Initiatives, said Ms. Mehbooba had applied for the visa only four days ago and her papers could not be processed in time for her departure. However, the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi was able to process a visa for the former Jammu University Vice-Chancellor Amitabh Mattoo, another participant at the same conference. He applied at the same time as the Kashmiri leader. A group of 20 other Indians is also participating in the two-day conference.

She, supposidly, is a Pakistani-favoured politician. So why the rejection? Some speculation in the rest of the article, here.

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The Rehabilitation of Najibullah

Posted in Foreign Affairs by onpakistan on November 19, 2009

A recent article by an American who worked with UNICEF in Afghanistan in the 90s writes fondly and nostalgically of Najibullah. Is this the beginning of his rehabilitation amongst Western critics of American involvement in Afghanistan?

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Maps of India and Pakistan

Posted in Foreign Affairs by onpakistan on November 15, 2009

Le Monde Diplomatique has some interesting (downloadable) maps of India and Pakistan. They are highly interpretative, and I do not agree with much of their depiction of India and surrounding countries. Nevertheless they stand out somewhat from the usual maps of this kind.

This one seeks to depict the Indian army’s commitments in India, and interesting includes Pakistan. It leaves the viewer with a sense that Pakistan is unstable, and that this is a threat to India, and thus something the India army needs to respond too.

This one gives a sense of both India’s military and imperial reach, as well as a sense that the U.S. and Chinese militarily encircle and so threaten it. Interesting there is no depiction of the reach of India’s ballistic missile program. The creators of the map have chosen to emphasize its ability to strike certain countries (e.g. Israel, Iran, Somalia), but the choice is bizarre. Why would India want to ‘militarity intervene’ in Israel, and not, for example, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh?

Here are two more, one depicting disputed territories between India and Pakistan and India and China, and the other the Line of Control (with French spelling!)


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Hizb ut-Tahrir Trying to Expand in Pakistan

Posted in Domestic Affairs, Foreign Affairs by onpakistan on July 5, 2009

According to The Times, British-based Hizb ut-Tahrir is serious in its attempts to expand in Pakistan. See here. I don’t know how credible this report is.

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Global Post: Progress in Secret Talks Between US and Afghanistan

Posted in Foreign Affairs by onpakistan on June 17, 2009

The Global Post claims that “Taliban leaders report progress in secret talks with the US and Afghanistan”. This report is based on a series of interviews with various Taliban. The logic is that the Taliban may seek an accommodation before a US ‘surge’ begins. See here. Any such accommodation is likely to have a strong impact on situation in Pakistan.

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Zardari in Brussels

Posted in Foreign Affairs by onpakistan on June 17, 2009

Well, Zardari is in Brussels meeting European Union and NATO leaders. There is significant coverage of this in the Pakistani press, including a rather odd wishlist of outcomes by three interested individuals. I would like to comment on two aspects of this coverage.

Firstly, there is little mention of the fact that Zardari will also be meeting NATO. See for example this article. NATO and Zardari will undoubtedly be discussing the miltiary operation in Waziristan and Swat, though what exactly Zardari will demand (or rather the military officials accompanying him will demand) from NATO I do not know. More reconnaissance assistance perhaps? Not drones as the people to speak to about that are the Americans. Other specialist equipment? Training? I also have no idea what NATO will demand of Pakistan. Perhaps their demand will be as simple and diffuse as  a request that the Pakistani army does a complete and thorough job (including the elimination of Taliban in Pakistan who have not necessarily been troublemsome to the Pakistanis but are or may be to NATO in Afghanistan) and not worry too much about disruption to civilians (a sort of a ‘we’ll pay to put the disruption right approach’).

Secondly, the press has not commented at all on what are likely to be the biggest demands made by the EU. In return for the pledged assistance (I have seen several numbers branded about, including EUR 60m), the EU will undoubtedly demand Pakistani government assistance in monitoring, apprehending and extraditing individuals suspected of terrorist activities in the EU. So, for example, countries such as Britain have built up sophisticated networks for monitoring foreign nationals and Brits of Pakistani origin  in Britain itself. They are keen to extend this capability (something only possible with Pakistani state support, though British funding) into Pakistan itself. EU demands will include an increased monitoring of movement of Pakistanis (and others) between Pakistan and the EU. The EU would probably also want Pakistani government cooperation in their own deportations of Pakistanis from the EU (such as the 10 Pakistani students recently detained in Britain; see this).

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CIA Funding Revolution in Iran?

Posted in Foreign Affairs by onpakistan on June 15, 2009

This news just in from presstv.ir, the Iranian news channel. They are claiming that Aslam Beg recently gave an interview claiming that the CIA spent USD400m funding opposition to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Sounds overblown to me, but the truth will out soon in the midst of the Iranian post-election turmoil.

Full news article follows below:

Former Pakistani Army General Mirza Aslam Beig claims the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has distributed 400 million dollars inside Iran to evoke a revolution. In a phone interview with the Pashto Radio on Monday, General Beig said that there is undisputed intelligence proving the US interference in Iran. “The documents prove that the CIA spent 400 million dollars inside Iran to prop up a colorful-hollow revolution following the election,” he added. Pakistan’s former army chief of joint staff went on to say that the US wanted to disturb the situation in Iran and bring to power a pro-US government. He congratulated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his re-election for the second term in office, noting that Pakistan relationship with Iran has improved during his 4-year presidency. “Ahmadinejad’s re-election is a decisive point in regional policy and if Pakistan and Afghanistan unite with Iran, the US has to leave the area, especially the occupied Afghanistan,” Beig added.

I can’t any mention of this interview anywhere else. Can anyone else?

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