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Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’

Pakistan SC disqualifies Prime Minister Gilani

Posted by Admin on June 20, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/pakistan-sc-disqualifies-prime-minister-gilani.html

Gilani was found guilty of contempt for refusing to ask Swiss authorities to re-open corruption cases against President Zardari.

Yahoo! India News – 10 hours ago

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Supreme Court on Tuesday disqualified Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from holding his office following his conviction in a contempt case.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan had on April 26 convicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for contempt of court for his refusal to comply with the order to write to Switzerland authorities asking them to re-open corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

“Since no appeal was filed (against the April 26 conviction) … therefore Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani stands disqualifed as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament)…,” said Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in a packed courtroom.

“He has also ceased to be the prime minister of Pakistan … the office of the prime minister stands vacant.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Supreme Court asked President Asif Ali Zardari to ensure that steps are taken for the continuation of democracy in Pakistan.

Gilani and his government have refused to obey the court’s order to write to Swiss authorities asking them to re-open money laundering cases against Zardari. The government argues that Zardari has immunity as the head of state.

Gilani was convicted for violating Article 63(1) (g) of Pakistan’s constitution by a seven-judge bench of the court, headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk.

Accused of graft, Zardari had been granted amnesty under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in 2007 by the then President Pervez Musharraf to facilitate his return home and, primarily that of his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

The NRO that granted immunity to politicians and bureaucrats in corruption cases was struck down as void in 2009.

On January 16, 2012, the court issued a contempt notice against Gilani for not acting against Zardari.

Gilani was indicted for contempt of court on February 13.

The case stems from what many observers say is a political battle between the government and the military, which has held the whip in Pakistan’s political arena for most of the country’s 64 years of independence. Many say the army is using the court to keep the government on the back foot.

Thousands of corruption cases were thrown out in 2007 by an amnesty law passed under former military President Pervez Musharraf, which paved the way for a return to civilian rule.

Two years later, the Pakistan Supreme Court ruled that agreement illegal and ordered cases involving Swiss banks against President Asif Ali Zardari re-opened.

Pakistan’s Constitution says that anyone convicted of ridiculing the judiciary is barred from remaining in office as a member of parliament, but experts said that it would take a long time to disqualify Gilani.

Gilani has been the longest-serving Pakistani prime minister ever. This is the first time ever in Pakistan’s history that a prime minister appeared before the court and was convicted of contempt.

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Posted in Conspiracy Archives, Economic Upheavals, Geo-Politics, Press Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pakistan SC disqualifies Prime Minister Gilani

The Power and the Potential of India’s Economic Change

Posted by Admin on February 4, 2012

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/17/books/17grim.html?ex=1188014400&en=6236c430ccc01fd5&ei=5070

Published: January 17, 2007
All eyes are on China as it races to become the world’s next great power. Smart bettors would be wise to put some money on India to get there first, and Edward Luce explains why in “In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India,” his highly informative, wide-ranging survey.

Mr. Luce, who reported from New Delhi for The Financial Times from 2001 to 2005, offers an Imax view of a nation so enormous that it embraces every possible contradiction. Always it seems to be teetering on the edge of either greatness or the abyss. Right now the future looks inviting.

India’s dizzying economic ascent began in 1991, when the government abruptly dismantled the “license raj,” a system of tight controls and permits in place since independence in 1947. Mr. Luce, as you might expect from a Financial Times reporter, does a superb job of explaining the new Indian economy and why its transformation qualifies as strange.

Unlike China, India has not undergone an industrial revolution. Its economy is powered not by manufacturing but by its service industries. In a vast subcontinent of poor farmers whose tiny holdings shrink by the decade, a highly competitive, if small, technology sector and a welter of service businesses have helped create a middle class, materialistic and acquisitive, along with some spectacularly rich entrepreneurs.

“If Gandhi had not been cremated,” Mr. Luce writes, “he would be turning in his grave.”

Mr. Luce, notebook in hand, matches faces to trends as he tours India from the affluent, relatively well-governed south to the poor, hopelessly mismanaged north, where the age-old problems of illiteracy, poverty, government corruption and caste divisions persist.

Much of the book consists of interviews and colorful vignettes intended to illustrate the myriad statistics that, out of context, can numb the mind. The blend of anecdote, history and economic analysis makes “In Spite of the Gods” an endlessly fascinating, highly pleasurable way to catch up on a very big story.

As Mr. Luce dryly observes, “India never lacks for scale.” This is a country where 300 million people live in absolute poverty, most of them in its 680,000 villages, but where cellphone users have jumped from 3 million in 2000 to 100 million in 2005, and the number of television channels from 1 in 1991 to more than 150 last year.

India’s economy has grown by 6 percent annually since 1991, a rate exceeded only by China’s, yet there are a mere 35 million taxpayers in a country with a population of 1.1 billion. Only 10 percent of India’s workers have jobs in the formal economy. Its excellent engineering schools turn out a million graduates each year, 10 times the number for the United States and Europe combined, yet 35 percent of the country remains illiterate.

Despite its robust democracy and honest elections, India faces the future saddled with one of the most corrupt government bureaucracies on earth. Mr. Luce encounters a woman in Sunder Nagri, a New Delhi slum, whose quest for a ration card entitling her to subsidized wheat and other staples involved bribing an official to get an application form. The form was in English, which she could not read, so she had to pay a second official to fill it out. When she turned up to claim her wheat, it was moldy and crawling with insects. The store owner had evidently sold his good government wheat on the black market.

In the northern state of Bihar, Mr. Luce writes, more than 80 percent of subsidized government food is stolen. Most ration cards are obtained through bribery, by Indians who are not poor. It’s the same story in nearly every area of an economy touched by the groping tentacles of a government that “is never absent from your life, except when you actually need it.”

As a former cabinet official tells Mr. Luce, corruption is not simply a nuisance or an added burden on the system. Rather, he says, “in many respects and in many parts of India it is the system.”

Mr. Luce, traveling the country’s rickety rail system, covers an enormous amount of ground. He inquires into the Kashmir dispute while dissecting India’s fraught relationship with Pakistan; marvels over New Delhi’s spanking-new subway system; describes the middle class rage for megaweddings; pays a visit to Bollywood and, in some of his most absorbing chapters, analyzes the changing caste system, the status of India’s Muslims and the alarming rise of Hindu nationalism.

All this and a visit to C2W.com, a Mumbai company that markets brands through the Internet, cellphones and interactive television shows. Its founder, Alok Kejriwal, is still in his 30s, and to Mr. Luce represents the new India.

“I am greedy,” he tells the author. “I have no trouble admitting to that.”

At one point, Mr. Luce ponders India’s constant state of chaos and compares it to a swarm of bees. From inside the swarm, things look random, but from the outside, the bees hold formation and move forward coherently.

Sometime in the 2020s, at current growth rates, India will overtake Japan to become the world’s third-largest economy. Greatness lies within its grasp, Mr. Luce argues, if it can figure out a way to restructure its inefficient agriculture, put millions of desperately poor people in jobs that pay more than a pittance, wake up to a potential H.I.V.AIDS crisis and root out government corruption.

Mr. Luce takes a cautiously optimistic view. “India is not on an autopilot to greatness,” he writes. “But it would take an incompetent pilot to crash the plane.”

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America’s Endless Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

Posted by Admin on October 28, 2011

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=27291

by Jack A. Smith

Global Research, October 25, 2011

The 10th anniversary of Washington’s invasion, occupation and seemingly endless war in Afghanistan was observed Oct. 7, but despite President Barack Obama’s pledge to terminate the U.S. “combat mission” by the end of 2014, American military involvement will continue many years longer.

The Afghan war is expanding even further, not only with increasing drone attacks in neighboring Pakistani territory but because of U.S. threats to take far greater unilateral military action within Pakistan unless the Islamabad government roots out “extremists” and cracks down harder on cross-border fighters.

Washington’s tone was so threatening that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to assure the Pakistani press Oct. 21 that the U.S. did not plan a ground offensive against Pakistan. The next day, Afghan President Hamid Karzai shocked Washington by declaring “God forbid, If ever there is a war between Pakistan and America, Afghanistan will side with Pakistan…. If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan needs Afghanistan’s help, Afghanistan will be there with you.”

At the same time, Washington has just suffered a spectacular setback in Iraq, where the Obama Administration has been applying extraordinary pressure on the Baghdad government for over a year to permit many thousands of U.S. troops to remain indefinitely after all American forces are supposed to withdraw at the end of this year.

President Obama received the Iraqi government’s rejection from Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki Oct. 21, and promptly issued a public statement intended to completely conceal the fact that a long-sought U.S. goal has just been obliterated, causing considerable disruption to U.S. plans. Obama made a virtue of necessity by stressing that “Today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.”

This article will first discuss the situation in Afghanistan after 10 years, then take up the Iraq question and what the U.S. may do to compensate for a humiliating and disruptive rebuff.

The United States is well aware it will never win a decisive victory in Afghanistan. At this point, the Obama Administration is anxious to convert the military stalemate into a form of permanent truce, if only the Taliban were willing to accept what amounts to a power sharing deal that would allow Washington to claim the semblance of success after a decade of war.

In addition President Obama seeks to retain a large post-“withdrawal” military presence throughout the country mainly for these reasons:

• To protect its client regime in Kabul led by Karzai, as well as Washington’s other political an commercial interests in the country, and to maintain a menacing military presence on Iran’s eastern border, especially if U.S. troops cannot now remain in Iraq.

• To retain territory in Central Asia for U.S. and NATO military forces positioned close to what Washington perceives to be its two main (though never publicly identified) enemies — China and Russia — at a time when the American government is increasing its political pressure on both countries. Obama is intent upon transforming NATO from a regional into a global adjunct to Washington’s quest for retaining and extending world hegemony. NATO’s recent victory in Libya is a big advance for U.S. ambitions in Africa, even if the bulk of commercial spoils go to France and England. A permanent NATO presence in Central Asia is a logical next step. In essence, Washington’s geopolitical focus is expanding from the Middle East to Central Asia and Africa in the quest for resources, military expansion and unassailable hegemony, especially from the political and economic challenge of rising nations of the global south, led China.

There has been an element of public deception about withdrawing U.S. “combat troops” from Iraq and Afghanistan dating from the first Obama election campaign in 2007-8. Combat troops belong to combat brigades. In a variant of bait-and-switch trickery, the White House reported that all combat brigades departed Iraq in August 2010. Technically this is true, because those that did not depart were simply renamed “advise and assist brigades.” According to a 2009 Army field manual such brigades are entirely capable, “if necessary,” of shifting from “security force assistance” back to combat duties.

In Afghanistan, after the theoretical pullout date, it is probable that many “advise and assist brigades” will remain along with a large complement of elite Joint Special Operations Forces strike teams (SEALs, Green Berets, etc.) and other officially “non-combat” units — from the CIA, drone operators, fighter pilots, government security employees plus “contractor security” personnel, including mercenaries. Thousands of other “non-combat” American soldiers will remain to train the Afghan army.

According to an Oct. 8 Associated Press dispatch, “Senior U.S. officials have spoken of keeping a mix of 10,000 such [special operations-type] forces in Afghanistan, and drawing down to between 20,000 and 30,000 conventional forces to provide logistics and support. But at this point, the figures are as fuzzy as the future strategy.” Estimates of how long the Pentagon will remain in Afghanistan range from 2017 to 2024 to “indefinitely.”

Obama marked the 10th anniversary with a public statement alleging that “Thanks to the extraordinary service of these [military] Americans, our citizens are safer and our nation is more secure”— the most recent of the continuous praise of war-fighters and the conduct of these wars of choice from the White House since the 2001 bombing, invasion and occupation.

Just two days earlier a surprising Pew Social Trend poll of post-9/11 veterans was made public casting doubt about such a characterization. Half the vets said the Afghanistan war wasn’t worth fighting in terms of benefits and costs to the U.S. Only 44% thought the Iraq war was worth fighting. One-third opined that both wars were not worth waging. Opposition to the wars has been higher among the U.S. civilian population. But it’s unusual in a non-conscript army for its veterans to emerge with such views about the wars they volunteered to fight.

The U.S. and its NATO allies issued an unusually optimistic assessment of the Afghan war on Oct. 15, but it immediately drew widespread skepticism. According to the New York Times the next day, “Despite a sharp increase in assassinations and a continuing flood of civilian casualties, NATO officials said that they had reversed the momentum of the Taliban insurgency as enemy attacks were falling for the first time in years…. [This verdict] runs counter to dimmer appraisals from some Afghan officials and other international agencies, including the United Nations. With the United States preparing to withdraw 10,000 troops by the end of this year and 23,000 more by next October, it raises questions about whether NATO’s claims of success can be sustained.”

Less than two weeks earlier German Gen. Harald Kujat, who planned his country’s military support mission in Afghanistan, declared that “the mission fulfilled the political aim of showing solidarity with the United States. But if you measure progress against the goal of stabilizing a country and a region, then the mission has failed.”

According to Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is a critically important “long term commitment” and “we’re going to be there longer than 2014.” He made the disclosure to the Senate Armed Services Committee Sept. 22, a week before he retired. In a statement Oct. 3, the Pentagon’s new NATO commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. John Allen, declared: “The plan is to win. The plan is to be successful. And so, while some folks might hear that we’re departing in 2014… we’re actually going to be here for a long time.”

Lt. Gen. John Mulholland, departing head of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, told the AP Oct. 8: “We’re moving toward an increased special operations role…,whether it’s counterterrorism-centric, or counterterrorism blended with counterinsurgency.” White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said in mid-September that by 2014 “the U.S. remaining force will be basically an enduring presence force focused on counterterrorism.” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta strongly supports President Obama’s call for an “enduring presence” in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

Former U.S. Afghan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was fired last year for his unflattering remarks about Obama Administration officials, said in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations Oct. 6 that after a decade of fighting in Afghanistan the U.S. was only “50% of the way” toward attaining its goals. “We didn’t know enough and we still don’t know enough,” he said. “Most of us — me included — had a very superficial understanding of the situation and history, and we had a frighteningly simplistic view of recent history, the last 50 years.”

Washington evidently had no idea that one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world — a society of 30 million people where the literacy rate is 28% and life expectancy is just 44 years — would fiercely fight to retain national sovereignty. The Bush Administration, which launched the Afghan war a few weeks after 9/11, evidently ignored the fact that the people of Afghanistan ousted every occupying army from that of Alexander the Great and Genghis Kahn to the British Empire and the USSR.

The U.S. spends on average in excess of $2 billion a week in Afghanistan, not to mention the combined spending of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, but the critical needs of the Afghan people in terms of health, education, welfare and social services after a full decade of military involvement by the world’s richest countries remain essentially untended.

For example, 220,000 Afghan children under five — one in five — die every year due to pneumonia, poor nutrition, diarrhea and other preventable diseases, according to the State of the World’s Children report released by the UN Children’s Fund. UNICEF also reports the maternal mortality rate with about 1,600 deaths per every 100,000 live births. Save the Children says this amounts to over 18,000 women a year. It is also reported by the UN that 70% of school-age girls do not attend school for various reasons — conservative parents, lack of security, or fear for their lives. All told, about 92% of the Afghan population does not have access to proper sanitation.

Even after a decade of U.S. combat, the overwhelming majority of the Afghan people still have no clear idea why Washington launched the war. According to the UK’s Daily Mail Sept. 9, a new survey by the International Council on Security and Development showed that 92% of 1,000 Afghan men polled had never even heard of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon — the U.S. pretext for the invasion — and did not know why foreign troops were in the country. (Only men were queried in the poll because many more of them are literate, 43.1% compared to 12.6% of women.)

In another survey, conducted by Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation and released Oct. 18, 56% of Afghans view U.S./NATO troops as an occupying force, not allies as Washington prefers. The survey results show that “there appears to be an increasing amount of anxiety and fear rather than hope.”

Perhaps the most positive news about Afghanistan — and it is a thunderously mixed “blessing” — is that the agricultural economy boomed last year. But, reports the Oct. 11 Business Insider, it’s because “rising opium prices have upped the ante in Afghanistan, and farmers have responded by posting a 61% increase in opium production.” Afghani farmers produce 90% of the world’s opium, the main ingredient in heroin. Half-hearted U.S.-NATO eradication efforts failed because insufficient attention was devoted to providing economic and agricultural substitutes for the cultivation of opium.

Another outcome of foreign intervention and U.S. training is the boundless brutality and corruption of the Afghan police toward civilians and especially Taliban “suspects.” Writing in Antiwar.com John Glaser reported:

“Detainees in Afghan prisons are hung from the ceilings by their wrists, severely beaten with cables and wooden sticks, have their toenails torn off, are treated with electric shock, and even have their genitals twisted until they lose consciousness, according to a study released Oct. 10 by the United Nations. The study, which covered 47 facilities sites in 22 provinces, found ‘a compelling pattern and practice of systematic torture and ill-treatment’ during interrogation by U.S.-supported Afghan authorities. Both U.S. and NATO military trainers and counterparts have been working closely with these authorities, consistently supervising the detention facilities and funding their operations.”

In mid-September Human Rights Watch documented that U.S.-supported anti-Taliban militias are responsible for many human rights abuses that are overlooked by their American overseers. At around the same time the American Open Society Foundations revealed that the Obama Administration has tripled the number of nighttime military raids on civilian homes, which terrorize many families. The report noted that “An estimated 12 to 20 raids now occur per night, resulting in thousands of detentions per year, many of whom are non-combatants.” The U.S. military admits that half the arrests are “mistakes.”

Meanwhile, it was reported in October that in the first nine months this year U.S.-NATO drones conducted nearly 23,000 surveillance missions in the Afghanistan sky. With nearly 85 flights a day, the Obama Administration has almost doubled the daily amount in the last two years. Hundreds of civilians, including nearly 170 children, have been killed in the Afghan-Pakistan border areas from drone attacks. Miniature killer/surveillance drones — small enough to be carried in backpacks— are soon expected to be distributed to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

So far the Afghanistan war has taken the lives of some 1,730 American troops and about a thousand from NATO. There are no reliable figures on the number Afghan civilians killed since the beginning of the war. The UN’s Assistance Mission to Afghanistan did not start to count such casualties until 2007. According to the Voice of America Oct. 7, “Each year, the civilian death toll has risen, from more than 1,500 dead in 2007 to more than 2,700 in 2010. And in the first half of this year, the UN office reported there were 2,400 civilians killed in war-related incidents.”

At minimum the war has cost American taxpayers about a half-trillion dollars since 2001. The U.S. will continue to spend billions in the country for many years to come and the final cost — including interest on war debts that will be carried for scores more years — will mount to multi-trillions that future generations will have to pay. At present there are 94,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan plus about 37,000 NATO troops. Another 45,000 well paid “contractors” perform military duties, and many are outright mercenaries.

Washington is presently organizing, arming, training and financing hundreds of thousands of Afghan troops and police forces, and is expected to continue paying some $5 billion a year for this purpose at least until 2025.

The U.S. government has articulated various different objectives for its engagement in Afghanistan over the years. Crushing al-Qaeda and defeating the Taliban have been most often mentioned, but as an Oct. 7 article from the Council on Foreign Relations points out: “The main U.S. goals in Afghanistan remain uncertain. They have meandered from marginalizing the Taliban to state-building, to counterinsurgency, to counterterrorism, to — most recently — reconciliation and negotiation with the Taliban. But the peace talks remain nascent and riddled with setbacks. Karzai suspended the talks after the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the government’s chief negotiator, which the Afghan officials blamed on the Pakistan-based Haqqani network. The group denies it.”

There is another incentive for the U.S. to continue fighting in Afghanistan — to eventually convey the impression of victory, an absolute domestic political necessity.

The most compelling reason for the Afghan war is geopolitical, as noted above — finally obtaining a secure military foothold for the U.S. and its NATO accessory in the Central Asian backyards of China and Russia . In addition, a presence in Afghanistan places the U.S. in close military proximity to two volatile nuclear powers backed by the U.S. but not completely under its control by any means (Pakistan, India). Also, this fortuitous geography is flanking the extraordinary oil and natural gas wealth of the Caspian Basin and energy-endowed former Soviet Muslim republics such as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

In Iraq, the Obama Administration’s justification for retaining troops after the end of this year was ostensibly to train the Iraqi military and police forces, but there were other reasons:

• Washington seeks to remain in Iraq to keep an eye on Baghdad because it fears a mutually beneficial alliance may develop between Iraq and neighboring Iran, two Shi’ite societies in an occasionally hostile Sunni Muslim world, weakening American hegemony in the strategically important oil-rich Persian Gulf region and ultimately throughout the Middle East/North Africa.

• The U.S. also seeks to safeguard lucrative economic investments in Iraq, and the huge future profits expected by American corporations, especially in the denationalized petroleum sector. Further, Pentagon and CIA forces were stationed — until now, it seems — in close proximity to Iran’s western border, a strategic position to invade or bring about regime change.

Under other conditions, the U.S. may simply have insisted on retaining its troops regardless of Iraqi misgivings, but the Status of Forces compact governing this matter can only be changed legally by mutual agreement between Washington and Baghdad. The concord was arranged in December 2008 between Prime Minister Maliki and President George W. Bush — not Obama, who now takes credit for ending the Iraq war despite attempting to extend the mission of a large number of U.S. troops.

At first Washington wanted to retain more than 30,000 troops plus a huge diplomatic and contractor presence in Iraq after “complete” withdrawal. Maliki — pushed by many of the country’s political factions, including some influenced by Iran’s opposition to long-term U.S. occupation — held out for a much smaller number.

Early in October Baghdad decided that 3,000 to 5,000 U.S. troops in a training-only capacity was the most that could be accommodated. In addition, the Iraqis in effect declared a degree of independence from Washington by insisting that remaining American soldiers must be kept on military bases and not be granted legal immunity when in the larger society. Washington, which has troops stationed in countries throughout the world, routinely insists upon legal exemption for its foreign legions as a matter of imperial hubris, and would not compromise.

The White House has indicated that an arrangement may yet be worked out to permit some American trainers and experts to remain, perhaps as civilians or contractors. Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a staunch opponent of the U.S. occupation, has suggested Iraq should employ trainers for its armed forces from other countries, but this is impractical for a country using American arms and planes.

Regardless, the White House is increasing the number of State Department employees in Iraq from 8,000 to an almost unbelievable 16,000, mostly stationed at the elephantine new embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone quasi-military enclave, in new American consulates in other cities, and in top “advisory” positions in many of the of the regime’s ministries, particularly the oil ministry. Half the State Department personnel, 8,000 people, will handle “security” duties, joined by some 5,000 new private “security contractors.”

Thus, at minimum the U.S. will possess 13,000 of its own armed “security” forces, and there’s still a possibility Baghdad and Washington will work out an arrangement for adding a limited number of “non-combat” military trainers, openly or by other means.

In his Oct. 21 remarks, Obama sought to transform the total withdrawal he sought to avoid into a simulacrum of triumph for the troops and himself: “The last American soldier will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops…. That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.”

Heads held high, proud of success — for an unjust, illegal war based on lies that is said to have cost over a million Iraqi lives and created four million refugees! It has been estimated that the final U.S.. costs of the Iraq war will be over $5 trillion when the debt and interest are finally paid off decades from now.

If President Obama is reelected— even should the Iraq war actually end — he will be coordinating U.S. involvement in wars and occupations in Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and now Uganda (where American 100 combat troops have just been inserted). Add to this various expanding drone campaigns, and such adventures as Washington’s support for Israel against the Palestinians and for the Egyptian military regime against popular aspirations for full democracy, followed by the backing of dictatorial regimes in a half-dozen countries, and continual threats against Iran.

Washington’s $1.4 trillion annual military and national security expenditures are a major factor behind America’s monumental national debt and the cutbacks in social services for the people, but aside from White House rhetoric about reducing redundant Pentagon expenditures, overall war/security budgets are expected to increase over the next several years.

The Bush and Obama Administrations have manipulated realty to convince American public opinion that the Iraq and Afghan wars are ending in U.S. successes. Washington fears the resurrection of the “Vietnam Syndrome” that resulted after the April 1975 U.S. defeat in Indochina. The “syndrome” led to a 15-year disinclination by the American people to support aggressive, large-scale U.S. wars against small, poor countries in the developing third world until the January 1991 Gulf War, part one of the two-part Iraq war that continued in March 2003.

According to an article in the Oct. 9 New York Times titled “The Other War Haunting Obama,” author, journalist and Harvard emeritus professor Marvin Kalb wrote: ” Ten years after the start of the war in Afghanistan, an odd specter haunts the Obama White House — the specter of Vietnam, a war lost decades before. Like Banquo’s ghost, it hovers over the White House still, an unwelcome memory of where America went wrong, a warning of what may yet go wrong.”

This fear of losing another war to a much smaller adversary — and perhaps suffering the one-term fate of President Lyndon Johnson who presided over the Vietnam debacle — evidently was a factor behind President Obama’s decision to vastly expand the size of the U.S. military commitment to Afghanistan and why the White House is now planning a long-term troop presence beyond the original pullout date.

Today’s combat directly touches the lives of only a small minority Americans — militarily members and families — and much of the majority remains uninformed or misinformed about many of the causes and effects of the Iraq/Afghan adventures. Obama may thus eventually be able to convey the illusion of military success, which will help pave the way for future imperial violence unless the people of the United States wise up and act en masse to prevent future aggressive wars.

Jack A. Smith is the Editor of the Activist Newsletter

Jack A. Smith is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Jack A. Smith

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ISI may act if Afghanistan gets too close to India: Musharraf

Posted by Admin on October 28, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/isi-may-act-afghanistan-gets-too-close-india-035842060.html

By Arun Kumar | IANS – 13 hours ago

Washington, Oct 27 (IANS) Accusing India of trying to create anti-Pakistan Afghanistan, former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has warned that Islamabad’s spy agency will need to take ‘counter-measures’ if Afghanistan becomes too close to India.

‘Since our independence, Afghanistan always has been anti-Pakistan because the Soviet Union and India have very good relations in Afghanistan,’ he said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think tank Wednesday.

Accusing India of working to turn Afghanistan against Pakistan, he said: ‘We must not allow this to continue.’

‘We must not begrudge if Pakistan orders ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) to take counter-measures to protect its own interests,’ said Musharraf defending the Pakistani spy agency that US officials have accused of supporting extremists.

‘Now, India is trying to create anti-Pakistan Afghanistan. This is most unfortunate, and I am not saying this because I have some (Indo-centric) – and I’m anti-India. I know this through intelligence; I know this to be a fact,’ he said.

‘Today – and just to give you one proof: Today, in Afghanistan, Afghanistan diplomats, the intelligence people, the security people, the army men all go to India for training,’ Misharraf said.

‘Now they go there, they come back, they get indoctrinated against Pakistan and, may I say, over the years since our independence, Afghanistan always has been anti-Pakistan because Soviet Union and India have very close relation in Afghanistan.’

‘And the intelligence agency, KGB, RAW and KHAD of Afghanistan have always been in cooperation and talking since 1950s,’ Musharraff said.

‘So I think this needs a rapprochement certainly between India and Pakistan and rapprochement also between the two intelligence organizations: the RAW of India and the ISI of Pakistan,’ he said.

Describing current relations between the United States and Pakistan as ‘terrible,’ Musharraf said Afghanistan could plunge into conflict along ethnic lines after 2014, when the United States plans to withdraw its combat troops from Afghanistan.

‘Are you leaving a stable Afghanistan or an unstable Afghanistan? Because based on that, I in Pakistan will have to take my own counter-measures,’ Musharraf said.

The ‘adverse impact will be on Pakistan, so any leader in Pakistan must think of securing Pakistan’s interests,’ he added.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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Pakistan and “The Haqqani Network” : The Latest Orchestrated Threat to America and The End of History

Posted by Admin on September 30, 2011

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=26797

by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Global Research, September 27, 2011
– 2011-09-26

Have you ever before heard of the Haqqanis? I didn’t think so. Like Al Qaeda, about which no one had ever heard prior to 9/11, the “Haqqani Network” has popped up in time of need to justify America’s next war–Pakistan.

President Obama’s claim that he had Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden exterminated deflated the threat from that long-serving bogyman. A terror organization that left its leader, unarmed and undefended, a sitting duck for assassination no longer seemed formidable. Time for a new, more threatening, bogyman, the pursuit of which will keep the “war on terror” going.

Now America’s “worst enemy” is the Haqqanis. Moreover, unlike Al Qaeda, which was never tied to a country, the Haqqani Network, according to Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, is a “veritable arm” of the Pakistani government’s intelligence service, ISI. Washington claims that the ISI ordered its Haggani Network to attack the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on September 13 along with the US military base in Wadak province.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Armed Services committee and one of the main Republican warmongers, declared that “all options are on the table” and gave the Pentagon his assurance that in Congress there was broad bipartisan support for a US military attack on Pakistan.

As Washington has been killing large numbers of Pakistani civilians with drones and has forced the Pakistani army to hunt for Al Qaeda throughout most of Pakistan, producing tens of thousands or more of dislocated Pakistanis in the process, Sen. Graham must have something larger in mind.

The Pakistani government thinks so, too. The Pakistani prime minister,Yousuf Raza Gilani, called his foreign minister home from talks in Washington and ordered an emergency meeting of the government to assess the prospect of an American invasion.

Meanwhile, Washington is rounding up additional reasons to add to the new threat from the Haqqanis to justify making war on Pakistan: Pakistan has nuclear weapons and is unstable and the nukes could fall into the wrong hands; the US can’t win in Afghanistan until it has eliminated sanctuaries in Pakistan; blah-blah.

Washington has been trying to bully Pakistan into launching a military operation against its own people in North Waziristan. Pakistan has good reasons for resisting this demand. Washington’s use of the new “Haqqani threat” as an invasion excuse could be Washington’s way of overcoming Pakistan’s resistance to attacking its North Waziristan provence, or it could be, as some Pakistani political leaders say, and the Pakistani government fears, a “drama” created by Washington to justify a military assault on yet another Muslim country.

Over the years of its servitude as an American puppet, the Pakistan government has brought this on itself. Pakistanis let the US purchase the Pakistan government, train and equip its military, and establish CIA interface with Pakistani intelligence. A government so dependent on Washington could say little when Washington began violating its sovereignty, sending in drones and special forces teams to kill alleged Al Qaeda, but usually women, children, and farmers. Unable to subdue after a decade a small number of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, Washington has placed the blame for its military failure on Pakistan, just as Washington blamed the long drawn-out war on the Iraqi people on Iran’s alleged support for the Iraqi resistance to American occupation.

Some knowledgeable analysts’ about whom you will never hear in the “mainstream media,” say that the US military/security complex and their neoconservative whores are orchestrating World War III before Russia and China can get prepared. As a result of the communist oppression, a signifiant percentage of the Russian population is in the American orbit. These Russians trust Washington more than they trust Putin. The Chinese are too occupied dealing with the perils of rapid economic growth to prepare for war and are far behind the threat.

War, however, is the lifeblood of the profits of the military/security complex, and war is the chosen method of the neoconservatives for achieving their goal of American hegemony.

Pakistan borders China and former constituent parts of the Soviet Union in which the US now has military bases on Russia’s borders. US war upon and occupation of Pakistan is likely to awaken the somnolent Russians and Chinese. As both possess nuclear ICBMs, the outcome of the military/security complex’s greed for profits and the neoconservatives’ greed for empire could be the extinction of life on earth.

The patriots and super-patriots who fall in with the agendas of the military-security complex and the flag-waving neoconservatives are furthering the “end-times” outcome so fervently desired by the rapture evangelicals, who will waft up to heaven while the rest of us die on earth.

This is not President Reagan’s hoped for outcome from ending the cold war.

Paul Craig Roberts is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Paul Craig Roberts

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Kashmir problem is Nehru’s special gift to India: Advani

Posted by Admin on July 2, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/kashmir-problem-nehrus-special-gift-india-advani-124157511.html

By Indo Asian News Service | IANS – Sun, Jun 26, 2011

New Delhi, June 26 (IANS) As India and Pakistan restored peace talks over pending issues including Kashmir, veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani Sunday slammed the country’s first political family of late prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru whose ‘lack of courage’ led to the Kashmir issue remaining unresolved.

In the latest entry on his blog, http://blog.lkadvani.in, the BJP leader also slammed late chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah whose ambition to be the leader of independent Kashmir also contributed to the issue.

Advani said neither the government of Nehru in New Delhi nor the government of Abdullah in Srinagar believed that Jammu and Kashmir needed to be fully integrated into the Indian union.

‘In the case of Abdullah, the problem was his ambition to become the unquestioned leader of a virtually independent Kashmir. In the case of Nehruji, it was a matter of lack of courage, firmness and foresight,’ Advani said.

He said that Article 370, which gives a special status to Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian constitution, had ’emboldened’ secessionist forces in the state to carry out their ‘poisonous propaganda that (Kashmir’s) accession to India is not final and that Kashmir, in particular, is not a part of India.’

Advani wrote that India had lost two opportunities to settle the issue once and for all with Pakistan — one in the 1947 war when Nehru ruled the country and the other in the 1971 Bangladesh war when Nerhu’s daughter Indira Gandhi was at the helm.

‘Our countrymen should know that the Kashmir problem is Nehru family’s special ‘gift’ to the nation,’ he wrote in a sarcastic vein.

‘Nehruji’s blunder was totally avoidable. The consequences of this ‘gift’ are Pakistan’s export of cross-border terrorism and religious extremism, thousands of lives of our security personnel and civilians and tens of thousands of crores of rupees spent on military and paramilitary defence.’

The BJP leader’s comments come days after India and Pakistani in foreign secretary level talks in Islamabad discussed a range of issues relating to peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir and the promotion of trade.

Advani also warned against giving any autonomy to the state because ‘the implications must be understood’.

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Al Qaeda confirms bin Laden is dead, vows revenge

Posted by Admin on May 7, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/al-qaeda-confirms-bin-laden-death-monitoring-group-122219860.html

By Augustine Anthony | Reuters – Fri, May 6, 2011

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Al Qaeda confirmed on Friday that Osama bin Laden is dead, dispelling doubts by some Muslims that the group’s leader had really been killed by U.S. forces, and vowed to mount more attacks on the West.

The announcement by the Islamist network, which promised to publish a taped message from bin Laden soon, appeared intended to show its adherents around the globe that the group has survived as a functioning network.

In a statement online, it said the blood of bin Laden, shot dead by a U.S. commando team in a raid on Monday on his hideout in a Pakistani town, “is more precious to us and to every Muslim than to be wasted in vain.”

“It will remain, with permission from Allah the Almighty, a curse that hunts the Americans and their collaborators and chases them inside and outside their country.”

Al Qaeda urged Pakistanis to rise up against their government to “cleanse” the country of what it called the shame brought on it by bin Laden’s shooting and of the “filth of the Americans who spread corruption in it.”

“Before the sheikh passed from this world and before he could share with the Islamic nation in its joys over its revolutions in the face of the oppressors, he recorded a voice recording of congratulations and advice which we will publish soon, God willing,” the militant group said.

The statement also warned Americans not to harm bin Laden’s corpse and to hand it and those of others killed to their families, although U.S. officials say bin Laden’s body has been buried at sea and no other bodies were taken from the compound.

Some in the Muslim world have been skeptical of bin Laden’s death. One survey conducted in Pakistan this week by the British-based YouGov polling organization found that 66 percent of over 1,000 respondents did not think the person killed by U.S. Navy SEALs was bin Laden.

Anger and suspicion between Washington and Islamabad over the raid in Abbottabad, 30 miles (50 km) from the Pakistani capital, showed no sign of abating.

A U.S. drone killed 17 suspected militants in northwest Pakistan, despite warnings from the Pakistani military against the mounting of attacks within its borders. About 1,500 Islamists rallied in the southwestern city of Quetta to vow revenge for bin Laden’s death and there were small protests elsewhere. Afghan Taliban and Islamist Indonesian youths made similar threats.

“FIVE YEARS” IN COMPOUND

One of bin Laden’s wives, Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah, told Pakistani interrogators the al Qaeda leader had been living for five years in the compound where he was killed, a Pakistani security official told Reuters.

The revelation appeared sure to heighten U.S. suspicions that Pakistani authorities have been either grossly incompetent or playing a double game in the hunt for bin Laden and the two countries’ supposed partnership against violent Islamists.

Pakistani security forces took 15 or 16 people into custody from the Abbottabad compound after U.S. forces removed bin Laden’s body, said the security official. They included bin Laden’s three wives and several children.

In Washington, a U.S. official said U.S. intelligence had established on-the-ground surveillance in Abbottabad in advance of the raid.

U.S. officials also said among materials found at bin Laden’s hideout was some evidence indicating al Qaeda had at one point considered attacking the U.S. rail system on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks later this year.

The fact that bin Laden was found in a garrison town — his compound was not far from a military academy — has embarrassed Pakistan and the covert raid has angered its military.

Pressure is building in the U.S. Congress to suspend or at least review U.S. aid to Pakistan. Republican Representative Ted Poe has introduced a bill to ban more aid until Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can certify Pakistan did not know bin Laden’s whereabouts, or if it did, told the U.S. government.

The Pakistan army, for its part, threatened on Thursday to halt counterterrorism cooperation with the United States if it conducted any more similar raids.

It was unclear if such attacks included drone strikes which the U.S. military regularly conducts against militants along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

Pakistani security officials have charged that U.S. troops, after landing by helicopter, shot the unarmed al Qaeda leader in cold blood rather than in a firefight, as U.S. officials first suggested.

Amid differing accounts this week of how much hostile fire the SEALS encountered in the compound, one Pakistani security official said on Friday that U.S. forces should release video footage he said they “must have” of the operation.

U.N. human rights investigators called on the United States to disclose the full facts “to allow an assessment in terms of international human rights law standards.”

“It will be particularly important to know if the planning of the mission allowed an effort to capture bin Laden,” Christof Heyns and Martin Scheinin said in a joint statement.

FEW QUALMS AMONG AMERICANS

The Pakistani military also said on Thursday it had decided to reduce the U.S. military presence in the country.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan said the Defense Department had not received notice from Islamabad about any decision to change the size of the U.S. military contingent in Pakistan. He said there are a little under 300 U.S. military personnel in Pakistan, many of them trainers.

Few Americans appear to have qualms about how bin Laden was killed, and on Thursday people cheered President Barack Obama when he visited the site of New York’s Twin Towers, leveled by al Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.

Seeking to repair ties, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Rome on Thursday that Washington was still anxious to maintain its alliance with Islamabad.

(Additional reporting by Erika Solomon in Dubai, Michael Georgy in Islamabad and David Alexander, Susan Cornwell and Mark Hosenball in Washington; writing by Andrew Roche and Patrick Worsnip; editing by Eric Beech)

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ISI blames India of ‘playing dangerous game’ by funding ‘extremist elements’ in Karachi

Posted by Admin on January 29, 2011

Flag of the Pakistan Army

Flag of Pakistan Army

http://in.news.yahoo.com/isi-blames-india-playing-dangerous-game-funding-extremist-20110127-221955-789.html

By ANI | ANI – Fri, Jan 28 11:49 AM IST

Islamabad, Jan 28(ANI): Pakistan‘s intelligence and military officials have accused India of “playing a dangerous game” by attempting to “destabilise Pakistan”.

Senior officials from the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) and the Pakistan Army said in interviews with Gulf News that they “have evidence” of Indian involvement in the terrorist attacks in Karachi and Lahore.

A senior ISI official alleged that India attempts to “destabilise Pakistan” by supporting militant groups in Karachi by “funds and arms”.

Karachi, the economic hub of the country, has witnessed dozens of attacks and target killings over the past few years. Pakistani officials say the attacks, especially those on shrines, were aimed at “fomenting sedition among religious communities” to destabilise the country.

“India is playing a dangerous game” in Karachi, a top ISI official was quoted as saying on the condition of anonymity. He said his agency had “evidence” that Indian intelligence was arming and funding “extremist elements” to weaken their neighbour.

“People are getting money from India to create problems for Pakistan in Karachi” and other areas, he stressed, adding, “India should understand that it will be affected most if Pakistan is destabilised.”

The Pakistan Army’s official spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said India realises that Pakistan’s military is “over-stretched” because of extensive anti-terror operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

“Therefore, they support elements that engage in terrorist campaign on our urban cities,” he added.

Abbas also said India was being suspected of arming and funding extremist elements, and even distributing ‘anti-Pakistan hate literature’ in the Pakistani province of Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan. (ANI)

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US drone attacks are no laughing matter, Mr Obama

Posted by Admin on December 31, 2010

drone

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/world/doc537c4f0415b3bbdf7218ade83cf2648c.html

The president’s backing of indiscriminate slaughter in Pakistan can only encourage new�waves of militancy

Speaking at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in May, Barack Obama spotted teen pop band the Jonas Brothers in the audience. “Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but, boys, don’t get any ideas,” deadpanned the president, referring to his daughters. “Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming.” The crowd laughed, Obama smiled, the dinner continued. Few questioned the wisdom of making such a tasteless joke; of the US commander-in-chief showing such casual disregard for the countless lives lost abroad through US drone attacks.

From the moment he stepped foot inside the White House, Obama set about expanding and escalating a covert CIA programme of “targeted killings” inside Pakistan, using Predator and Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles (who comes up with these names?) that had been started by the Bush administration in 2004. On 23 January 2009, just three days after being sworn in, Obama ordered his first set of air strikes inside Pakistan; one is said to have killed four Arab fighters linked to al-Qaida but the other hit the house of a pro-government tribal leader, killing him and four members of his family, including a five-year-old child. Obama’s own daughter, Sasha, was seven at the time.

But America’s Nobel-peace-prize-winning president did not look back. During his first nine months in office he authorised as many aerial attacks in Pakistan as George W Bush did in his final three years in the job. And this year has seen an unprecedented number of air strikes. Forget Mark Zuckerberg or the iPhone 4 – 2010 was the year of the drone. According to the New America Foundation thinktank in Washington DC, the number of US drone strikes in Pakistan more than doubled in 2010, to 115. That is an astonishing rate of around one bombing every three days inside a country with which the US is not at war.

And the carnage continues. On Monday, CIA drones fired six missiles at two vehicles in a “Taliban stronghold” in north Waziristan, on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan, killing 18 “militants” . Or so said “Pakistani intelligence officials”, speaking under condition of anonymity to the Associated Press. Today another round of drone strikes is thought to have killed at least 15 “militants” in the same area.

These attacks by unmanned aircraft may have succeeded in eliminating hundreds of dangerous militants, but the truth is that they also kill innocent civilians indiscriminately and in large numbers. According to the New America Foundation, one in four of those killed by drones since 2004 has been an innocent. The Brookings Institute, however, has calculated a much higher civilian-to-militant ratio of 10:1. Meanwhile, figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities suggest US strikes killed 701 people between January 2006 and April 2009, of which 14 were al-Qaida militants and 687 were civilians. That produces a hit rate of just 2% – or 50 civilians dead for every militant killed.

The majority of Pakistanis are against the use of drones in the tribal areas on the Afghan border. Their own government, however, despite public opposition to the bombings, has in private expressed support for America’s drones. “I don’t care if they do it as long as they get the right people,” Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is quoted as saying, in a 2008 cable released by WikiLeaks. ” We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it .”

This is not a left/right issue; criticisms of the drone strikes have come from figures as diverse as Sir Brian Burridge, the UK’s former air chief marshal in Iraq, who has described the aerial slaughter inflicted from afar by unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft as a “virtueless war”; and Andrew Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency expert and former adviser to General David Petraeus, who says that each innocent victim of a drone strike “represents an alienated family, a new revenge feud, and more recruits for a militant movement that has grown exponentially as drone strikes have increased”.

Kilcullen is spot on. The cold-blooded killing of Pakistani civilians in a push-button, PlayStation-style drone war is not just immoral and perhaps illegal, it is futile and self-defeating from a security point of view. Take Faisal Shahzad , the so-called Times Square bomber. One of the first things the Pakistani-born US citizen said upon his arrest was: “How would you feel if people attacked the United States? You are attacking a sovereign Pakistan.” Asked by the judge at his trial as to how he could justify planting a bomb near innocent women and children, Shahzad responded by saying that US drone strikes “don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody.”

But the innocent victims of America’s secret drone war have become “unpeople”, in the words of the historian Mark Curtis – those whose lives are seen as expendable in the pursuit of the west’s foreign policy goals. Killed via remote control, they remain unseen and unremembered. Forgive me, Mr President, for not seeing the funny side.

Pakistan Barack Obama al-Qaida Global terrorism United States US foreign policy Mehdi Hasan

 

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57 journalists killed in 2010

Posted by Admin on December 31, 2010

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/world/doc20112409e961f9c5e061f7af70da84e2.html

57 journalists killed in 2010

• Reporters being targeted by criminal gangs, study shows • Pakistan has been the deadliest country for journalists this year

Fifty-seven journalists worldwide have been killed this year, according to the media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, adding that fewer reporters were being killed in war zones and more were being targeted by criminals or traffickers.

The death toll was down 25% from 2009, when 76 journalists were killed. Last year’s record number of deaths was so high because of a massacre in the Philippines in which more than two dozen journalists and their staff were gunned down.

In its annual report, the Paris-based group said organised criminal gangs and militias posed the biggest threat to journalists. “If governments do not make every effort to punish the murderers of journalists, they become their accomplices,” Jean-François Julliard, the Reporters Without Borders secretary general, said.

Pakistan has been the deadliest country for reporters this year, with 11 killed. Seven journalists were killed in Mexico, seven in Iraq and four in the Philippines.

This month the Committee to Protect Journalists said 42 media workers have been killed worldwide in 2010.

The two groups have different criteria on what kind of reporters they include in their list and whether some reporters were targeted because of their profession, Julliard said.

Reporters Without Borders said this year has also seen a surge in abductions. Fifty-one reporters have been kidnapped in 2010, up from 33 in 2009, Reporters Without Borders said.

French TV journalists Herv� Ghesquière and St�phane Taponier and their three Afghan assistants have been held hostage in Afghanistan for more than a year.

“Journalists are seen less and less as outside observers,” Julliard said. “Their neutrality and the nature of their work are no longer respected.”

Journalist safety

 

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Burqa-clad suicide bomber kills 40 in Pakistan

Posted by Admin on December 26, 2010

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – A burqa-clad suicide bomber attacked a crowd of people waiting for aid in Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least 40 of them, officials said, showing militants’ ability to strike despite army offensives.

The attack in the Bajaur region on the Afghan border came a day after fierce clashes between Pakistani Taliban insurgents and security forces in the neighboring Mohmand region that left 11 soldiers and 24 militants dead.

“I myself have counted 40 bodies but the death toll could rise as several wounded people are in critical condition,” Dosti Rehman, an official at the main government hospital in Bajaur, told Reuters.

Zakir Hussain, the top government official in Bajaur, confirmed the death toll and said 60 tribesmen were wounded. He said the death toll could rise as some of the wounded were in critical condition. Several women and children were among casualties, officials said.

The suicide bomber, who was wearing a head-to-toe burqa but whose gender has not been ascertained, detonated explosives as hundreds of people from the Salarzai tribe were heading toward a food distribution center. The World Food Programme (WFP) set up the center for people forced from their homes by earlier fighting between security forces and al Qaeda-linked militants.

A WFP spokesman said the attack took place where people were being screened at a security checkpoint near their center.

Witnesses said the attacker first threw hand grenades at tribesmen before detonating the bomb.

“First there were two small explosions and people started running for cover. But within seconds there was a major blast and there were dead bodies scattered everywhere,” witness Hussain Ahmed said. “It was very terrifying.”

ANTI-TALIBAN TRIBE

The Salarzais are a major regional anti-Taliban tribe, which has been backing army operations against the militants.

Militants have infested Pakistan’s volatile ethnic Pashtun tribal lands on the Afghan border, and the army has mounted a series of operations to dislodge them.

Salarzai tribesmen have been instrumental in raising lashkars, or tribal militia, to back the government’s operations against the militants.

A Taliban spokesman, Azam Tariq, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that it was retaliation for “Salarazais activities against the Taliban.”

Militants have attacked pro-government tribes in the past to punish them for supporting the government.

Hundreds of militants have been killed and many of their strongholds captured but the insurgents have shown they are able to strike back and have killed hundreds of people in a campaign of bomb attacks across the country.

On Friday, about 150 Taliban militants staged simultaneous attacks on five paramilitary checkpoints in the Baizai area of the Mohmand tribal agency, killing 11 soldiers and wounding a dozen, officials said.

At least 24 militants were killed by defending paramilitary forces but government officials said the militant death toll rose to 40 as 16 more insurgents were killed in air raids by the security forces.

A Taliban spokesman on Friday confirmed clashes but disputed the official death toll, saying only two of their fighters were killed.

Officials have claimed several times that militants have been driven out of Bajaur. A senior military official in October said it would take at least six months to clear militants from Bajaur and Mohmand.

(Additional reporting by Izaz Mohmand and Sahibzada Saeed-ur-Rehman; Writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Daniel Magnowski)

(For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: http://www.reuters.com/places/pakistan.

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