Friday, May 25, 2012

American Hypocrisy on Dr. Afridi's Sentence

The US Congress and the Obama administration are incensed by the 33-year prison term handed to Dr. Shakil Afridi accused by Pakistan of spying for the CIA. In their usual response, the lawmakers in Washington have voted to cut aid to Pakistan for the umpteenth time and some in Congress are proposing to honor Afridi as a hero for his help in killing Osama bin Laden. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has also chimed in and demanded Afridi's immediate release.

As Washington rises to defend Dr. Afridi, no mention is being made of the potential damage his actions have inflicted on Pakistan's most vulnerable children. The CIA-inspired fake vaccination scheme in Abbottabad to collect bin Laden family's DNA samples has reinforced the fears and doubts in the minds of the parents of the children who really need to be vaccinated. It has also raised suspicions against charities such as Save the Children Fund with which Dr. Afridi claimed affiliation. This misguided effort by Afridi and the CIA has put at risk the heath and well-being of millions of young lives in Pakistan and other developing nations where polio and other similar diseases still persist. Here's how a piece by Maryn McKenna published in Wired magazine describes the outrage:  

"I felt, and still feel, that the maneuver — which was belatedly acknowledged by the CIA — was a cynical attempt to hijack the credibility that public health workers have built up over decades with local populations. I especially felt it endangered the status of the fraught polio-eradication campaign, which over the past decade has been challenged in majority-Muslim areas in Africa and South Asia over beliefs that polio vaccination is actually a covert campaign to harm Muslim children — an accusation that seems fantastic, but begins to make sense when you realize some of those areas have perfectly good reasons to distrust vaccination campaigns."

Even without the outrageous scheme by Afridi conducted in collusion with the CIA, the US demands are still hypocritical if one looks at the prison sentences handed out by US courts to Israeli Mossad agent Jonathan Pollard and Pakistani ISI agent Ghulam Nabi Fai in the United States. Both are US citizens.

Some argue that Pakistan should bear the responsibility for CIA's actions because of the country's failure to find bin Laden. While I agree that Pakistan failed badly in capturing bin Laden, there is no evidence to support the assertion that Pakistani government was deliberately hiding bin Laden.

As to the failure to find a most wanted fugitive, one must not forget that it took the FBI 16 years to find crime boss Whitey Bulger. On December 23, 1994, after being tipped off by his former FBI handler about a pending indictment under the RICO Act, Bulger fled Boston and went into hiding. For sixteen years, he remained at large in the United States. For twelve of those years, Bulger was prominently listed on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. On June 22, 2011, Bulger was arrested outside an apartment in Santa Monica, California.

 Shuja Nawaz, a scholar with the Atlantic Council in Washington, put it well when he told Voice of America that Pakistanis "see it as the subversion of a Pakistani citizen and his willing participation in an act that was to support the United States intelligence operations inside Pakistan."

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

US Military Undermining Interests in "AfPak"

Northern Distribution Network

From Pakistan to Afghanistan, U.S. Finds Convoy of Chaos

Is US-Pakistan Military Confrontation Inevitable?

Seeing Bin Laden's Death in Wider Perspective

Who Are the Haqqanis?

Military Mutiny in Pakistan?

Can US Aid Remake Pakistan?

The Obama Surge Strategy

US War Effort in Afghanistan Relies on Pakistan


FarhanJ said...

Argument about mistrust in public on Save the children organization and polio vaccination in Pakistan should be backed by credible source e.g. a gallop survey

Anonymous said...

They are not doing this out of their love for that mole. they are sending a message to other potential moles that US takes care of them and that they should keep selling their mother land for a few ****** dollars.

Why prison, why provide food and bed to a deserter for 33 years from our tax money? why not just execute him Saudi style after Friday prayers outside his hometown mosque/ or preferably an Abbotabad mosque where he committed the crime.

Anonymous said...

, there is no evidence to support the assertion that Pakistani government was deliberately hiding bin Laden.

Really? So UBL chose 1 km outside the national military academy out of his own free will??

If this isn't circumstantial evidence I don't know what is!

kaakhtar said...

The US by publicly defending and championing the cause of Dr Afridi has established beyond all doubt that Dr Afridi, a Pakistan government employee, was subverted and recruited to work for the CIA. What the US has not explained is why Dr Afridi was left to face the music and why he and his family were not taken out especially when his role was sure to be discovered. The US had abandoned Cuban collaborators after the Bay of Pigs fiasco in the Kennedy era. South Vietnamese collaborators were also abandoned to a horrific fate and now the Afghans are bracing for what awaits them. Angry US law makers have now woken up and demanded that Afridi be released as he has done nothing wrong. He hasn’t under US law but can Pakistan ignore the fact that a Pakistani government official collaborated with a foreign intelligence agency in a clandestine manner? Not if they do not want to set a precedent for others. Dr Afridi under US direction also recruited other government employees to work with him and by using a vaccination campaign as a cover discredited the government’s health care programs. US law makers have proposed a cut of US$ 33mn—one for each year of Dr Afridi’s prison term—to be deducted from the aid to Pakistan and perhaps paid to Dr Afridi as compensation. This cut comes after a proposal to cut all aid to Pakistan by half for the continued closure of the NATO logistics route. The gloves are off and the strategy is to brow beat Pakistan into compliance. Pakistan, and Dr Afridi, are learning what collaboration with the US really means.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "If this isn't circumstantial evidence I don't know what is!

Whitey Bulger fled Boston after being tipped off by his former FBI handler about a pending indictment under the RICO Act. How's that for "circumstantial evidence" of US govt's role in helping a "most wanted" fugitive?

Iqbal Singh said...

The movie about the hunt and killing of OBL is shooting in the Indian city of Chandigarh after Bigelow was denied permission to film in Pakistan. The Indian location is standing in for the Pakistani city of Lahore.

If Pakistan was not involved in secretly harboring OBL then the question still remains why OBL was living in a city of high ranking Military Brass of the Pakistan's armed forces. These are the same people who are supposedly in charge of safeguarding Pakistan's nuclear weapons!

The US has to ponder an even more grim situation now.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' report on Dr. Afridi's character:

The Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden faced accusations of corruption and other wrongdoing long before he was captured by Pakistani intelligence agents and then jailed for 33 years for treason.

In interviews over the weekend, several current and former Pakistani officials described the doctor, Shakil Afridi, as a hard-drinking womanizer who had faced accusations of sexual assault, harassment and stealing. They said his main obsession was making easy money.

According to a 2002 Pakistan health department document seen by Reuters, Afridi was deemed to be corrupt and unreliable and unfit for government service.

U.S. officials have hailed Afridi, aged in his 40s, as a hero for helping pinpoint bin Laden's location in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad where the al Qaeda leader was killed in May last year in a raid by U.S. Navy SEALs.

Officially Pakistan has said nothing about Afridi except that the court's decision to sentence him should be respected. But the fresh accusations about Afridi's character, coupled with his imprisonment, will almost certainly lead to further strain on already tense bilateral ties.

Pakistani officials' attempts to cast doubt on Afridi's character will likely be viewed in some quarters as retaliation for his work with the Americans, despite the disclosures in the 2002 Pakistani document.

U.S. officials on Monday called the accusations character assassination. In Washington, one senior official said the U.S. government was unaware of any questionable behavior by Afridi.

"Available information showed Afridi was a respected member of the Pakistani health care community," said the senior official. "We are aware of efforts, put in place since Dr. Afridi's arrest, to denigrate his character."

Another U.S. official said: "It's nothing short of puzzling that Pakistani officials would disparage someone who helped in the hunt for bin Laden, a terrorist who had Pakistani blood on his hands."
His reputation hurt by allegations, Afridi was easy prey for the CIA which found him through his connections to Western aid agencies in about 2009, said the former security official.

"The man was living beyond his means after he was fired," said the former security official. "He got married a third time. He maintained a couple of cars."

Afridi, who came to Abbottabad to carry out the vaccination campaign apparently at the CIA's behest, blundered when he visited the district health officer in the town.

He told the officer he was a volunteer who wanted to provide vaccinations in a certain area and he gave the officer his real name, the former security official said.

The team moved from house to house conducting vaccinations and leaving chalk marks on the door to show the people inside had been vaccinated, as is customary in Pakistan.

"They went in systematically the way a team is supposed to work," said the official. "No eyebrows were raised."

But after bin Laden was killed, his widows unwittingly helped Pakistani authorities track Afridi.

"They said that the only time when somebody from outside visited the house, was this polio vaccination (team)," said the former security official, who believed the only other visitor to the house was bin Laden's courier, about once a month.

Afridi was quickly scooped up by security officials.

When interrogated, Afridi initially said he had no ties with Americans, said the former security official.

"He categorically denied everything to start with," said the former security official. "But when the Americans started asking for him, then I think the cat was out of the bag."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story on Obama's "kill list":

Nothing else in Mr. Obama’s first term has baffled liberal supporters and confounded conservative critics alike as his aggressive counterterrorism record. His actions have often remained inscrutable, obscured by awkward secrecy rules, polarized political commentary and the president’s own deep reserve.

In interviews with The New York Times, three dozen of his current and former advisers described Mr. Obama’s evolution since taking on the role, without precedent in presidential history, of personally overseeing the shadow war with Al Qaeda.

They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing. While he was adamant about narrowing the fight and improving relations with the Muslim world, he has followed the metastasizing enemy into new and dangerous lands. When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”

His first term has seen private warnings from top officials about a “Whac-A-Mole” approach to counterterrorism; the invention of a new category of aerial attack following complaints of careless targeting; and presidential acquiescence in a formula for counting civilian deaths that some officials think is skewed to produce low numbers.

The administration’s failure to forge a clear detention policy has created the impression among some members of Congress of a take-no-prisoners policy. And Mr. Obama’s ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, has complained to colleagues that the C.I.A.’s strikes drive American policy there, saying “he didn’t realize his main job was to kill people,” a colleague said.

Riaz Haq said...

ere are NY Times editorial excerpts on Obama's kill list:

How can the world know whether the targets chosen by this president or his successors are truly dangerous terrorists and not just people with the wrong associations? (It is clear, for instance, that many of those rounded up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks weren’t terrorists.) How can the world know whether this president or a successor truly pursued all methods short of assassination, or instead — to avoid a political charge of weakness — built up a tough-sounding list of kills?

It is too easy to say that this is a natural power of a commander in chief. The United States cannot be in a perpetual war on terror that allows lethal force against anyone, anywhere, for any perceived threat. That power is too great, and too easily abused, as those who lived through the George W. Bush administration will remember.

Mr. Obama, who campaigned against some of those abuses in 2008, should remember. But the Times article, written by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, depicts him as personally choosing every target, approving every major drone strike in Yemen and Somalia and the riskiest ones in Pakistan, assisted only by his own aides and a group of national security operatives. Mr. Obama relies primarily on his counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan.

To his credit, Mr. Obama believes he should take moral responsibility for these decisions, and he has read the just-war theories of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.

The Times article points out, however, that the Defense Department is currently killing suspects in Yemen without knowing their names, using criteria that have never been made public. The administration is counting all military-age males killed by drone fire as combatants without knowing that for certain, assuming they are up to no good if they are in the area. That has allowed Mr. Brennan to claim an extraordinarily low civilian death rate that smells more of expediency than morality.

In a recent speech, Mr. Brennan said the administration chooses only those who pose a real threat, not simply because they are members of Al Qaeda, and prefers to capture suspects alive. Those assurances are hardly binding, and even under Mr. Obama, scores of suspects have been killed but only one taken into American custody. The precedents now being set will be carried on by successors who may have far lower standards. Without written guidelines, they can be freely reinterpreted.

A unilateral campaign of death is untenable. To provide real assurance, President Obama should publish clear guidelines for targeting to be carried out by nonpoliticians, making assassination truly a last resort, and allow an outside court to review the evidence before placing Americans on a kill list. And it should release the legal briefs upon which the targeted killing was based.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Counterpunch Op Ed on Obama's snub for Zardari & Pakistan at Chicago's NATO summit:

This is a sharp rebuke, given the level of ongoing support that Pakistan has provided to the U.S./NATO war in Afghanistan, which has lasted more than 10 years. Mr. Zardari was apparently under some serious pressure to capitulate. According to an Article in the Christian Science Monitor on May 22, there were high hopes for a deal when he attended the NATO meeting. It appears, however, that he offered to reopen the routes, without demanding the cessation of the Drone Strikes, at a price about 20x higher than what the U.S./NATO had been paying before the routes were closed, an offer unlikely to be accepted . Meanwhile, back in Pakistan, according to any number of sources, Prime Minister Gilani has been convicted by the powerful Supreme Court of Pakistan for refusing to reopen an old corruption case against President Zardari. Their government is in a very vulnerable position.

This is not a happy circumstance in a country where the civilian government has frequently been removed by a military coup, and Mr. Zardari’s father in law was actually executed by Zia al Haq, the military dictator, supported by the U.S., who removed him from office. From the viewpoint of the Pakistani government, this is a defeat any way you look at it. If even the reputedly corrupt Asif Zardari cannot bring himself to reopen the supply routes while the drone strikes continue to wreak havoc on the civilian population of North Waziristan, and cause upheaval in the general population of Pakistan, then it might be time to revisit the policy. However, the self proclaimed Masters of the Universe do not see it that way. This is their world and they will have their way. Violence, humiliation and oppression are their tools of choice. The lives of individuals have no meaning for them, and their mantra of freedom and democracy is meant to drown out the cries of the impoverished and brutalized masses of their victims. As you may imagine, an insult to a already debased opponent was hardly an adequate response to the refusal of a chattel to provide the expected services. So, that wasn’t the end of the affair.
Mr. President, I have to ask, “What Principles are reflected here? It would appear that Mr. Obama is playing God. Seduced by the power of the Presidency, and at the same time barred from constructive domestic action, President Obama has turned to the minute details of day to day issues of life and death for strangers on the far side of the planet who do not have it in their power to protect themselves from his personally structured version of state terrorism. And last week, his eminence apparently decided to teach the Pakistanis a lesson about defying the mighty powers of the American Olympians. Perhaps, Mr. Obama, you would deign to look down from your lofty post and say a few words of comfort to little Fatima and the dozens of others like her.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Asia Times Op Ed by Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar on Chinese & Russian envoys' visits to Pakistan:

The back-to-back visits to Pakistan this week by China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and the Russian president's special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, are rich in political symbolism and strategic content.

The consultations came at a time when Pakistan is reeling under pressure from the United States, the future of Afghanistan remains complicated and regional security is in flux.

The timing of the consultations will draw attention - since they were sandwiched between the summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Chicago on May 20-21 and the forthcoming summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Beijing on June 6-7. Afghanistan is a burning issue for both international groupings.
Yang underscored that China will unwaveringly pursue the policy of further strengthening its friendship with Pakistan and is willing to work together to deepen practical cooperation and strengthen the strategic coordination and elevate the partnership to new heights.

Xinhua news agency reported that China and Pakistan have agreed to "strengthen multilateral coordination and to safeguard the common interests of both sides." The reference seems to be to Pakistan's role in the SCO, whose forthcoming summit in Beijing will be attended by Zardari.

While Yang's official visit had a broad-ranging agenda, Kabulov's consultations were focused and purposive. He came to Islamabad primarily to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and the forthcoming visit to Pakistan by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Kabulov is Moscow's ace diplomatic troubleshooter on Afghanistan. The Pakistani accounts quoted him as saying to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani that "enormous commonalities" existed between Russia and Pakistan on regional issues and bilateral cooperation. Clearly, the reference is to the situation surrounding the Afghan problem, where both Russia and Pakistan have been seeking a bigger role while the US selectively engages them for specific roles.

Putin's visit to Pakistan, which is expected "soon", will be the first by a Russian head of state in the six-decade long history of relations between the two countries. It will consolidate the remarkable makeover in the two countries' relations in the past two to three years.

The fact that Putin picked Pakistan to be one of his first visits abroad after taking over as president in the Kremlin itself testifies to the "mood swing" in the geopolitics of the region. Many trends need to be factored in here.

Russia is gearing up to play an effective role in world affairs. Its assertive stance on Syria and Iran can be expected to extend to Pakistan and Central Asia. Russia kept its participation over the NATO summit on a low-key and saw to it that none of the Central Asian leaders who were invited - from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan - attended either. Meanwhile, Moscow also hosted a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Putin is undertaking visits to Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan during the week ahead and is virtually launching his Eurasian project.
The utter failure of the US strategy in Afghanistan stands exposed in terms of its exceptionalism and the stark absence of a regional consensus. Yang and Kabulov could and should have been the US's best allies in urging Pakistan to work with the international community for an enduring peace in Afghanistan. The paradox is that even in the prevailing situation of high volatility in the US's relations with Russia and China they might well have done that, but without Washington's bidding.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times blog on lomg term damage caused by CIA's fake vaccination scheme:

Meanwhile, the far more lasting fallout of Afridi’s activities on health campaigns in Pakistan is going unnoticed. Afridi really is a doctor, but rather than dispense vaccinations against hepatitis B, as he was claiming, he was taking DNA samples in the hope of locating Bin Laden. Yet the diplomatic hullabaloo is drowning out any discussion of his severe breach of medical ethics and the adverse impact his actions will have on vaccination programs, particularly polio eradication drives, in Pakistan.

Many Pakistanis, especially those in the tribal areas and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, have long been suspicious of polio vaccinations. They fear that these are a ploy to sterilize Muslims even though they are carried out by government health workers and local NGOs (albeit with international funding). Rumors along these lines, coupled with inadequate health care and persistent insecurity, mean that up to 200,000 children in Pakistan have already missed their polio vaccinations in the past two years. Some 198 cases of polio were reported in Pakistan in 2011, the highest number for any country in the world and up from 144 cases in 2010. This year, 16 cases have already been reported, primarily from the tribal areas.

For years, health workers have tried to prove that various misgivings about vaccination drives are groundless. But the Afridi affair will only confirm Pakistanis’ worst fears, namely that these campaigns are a cover used by the U.S. government to take advantage of the local population, and it will significantly damage the credibility of similar health initiatives.

In 2009, I met residents of the tribal areas fleeing military operations in their villages for refugee camps near Peshawar. At every opportunity, women asked me whether the vaccinations on offer were safe or if they were “American weapons.” I can only imagine how much worse their perceptions of vaccinations are after hearing about Afridi’s phony program.

If the Pakistani authorities had to convict Afridi for anything, it should have been for breaching the Hippocratic Oath. That they didn’t is yet more proof of just how low health features on Pakistan’s list of national priorities, especially compared with security.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times story about Salong Pass as choke point on northern supply routes for NATO:

Nowhere is the impact of Pakistan’s ban on NATO truck traffic more visible than here at the top of the Hindu Kush, on one of the only alternative overland routes for supply convoys to reach Kabul and the rest of the country.

For 20 miles north and south of the old Soviet-built tunnel at Salang Pass, thousands of trucks are idled beside the road, waiting for a turn to get through its perilous, one-and-a-half-mile length.

This is the only passable route for heavy truck traffic bringing NATO supplies in from the Central Asian republics to the north, as they now must come.

There are other roads, but they are often single-lane dirt tracks through even higher mountain passes, or they are frequently subject to ambushes by insurgents and bandits. So a tunnel built to handle 1,000 vehicles a day, and until the Pakistani boycott against NATO in November handling 2,000, now tries — and often fails — to let 10,000 vehicles through, alternating northbound and southbound truck traffic every other day.

“It’s only a matter of time until there’s a catastrophe,” said Lt. Gen. Mohammad Rajab, the head of maintenance for the Salang Pass. “One hundred percent certain, there will be a disaster, and when there is, it’s not a disaster for Afghanistan alone, but for the whole international community that uses this road.” He said 90 percent of the traffic now was trailer and tanker trucks carrying NATO supplies.

The tunnel near the top of this 12,000-foot pass is so narrow — no more than 20 feet across at the base, and less toward the top — that the heavily laden trucks often jam as they try to pass one another, lodging in tightly against the sloping, rough-hewn walls. The trucks have to be winched apart and dragged out by heavy equipment.
A tanker driver named Mohammadullah, hauling fuel for a NATO contractor, was eight days out of Kabul and still climbing. He said the drivers often ran out of food and were forced to pay exorbitant prices to vendors who drove up with supplies. He expected the round trip would take him most of a month.

“I’d rather be driving to Kandahar,” he said. Trucks need to have armed guards because of insurgents on that route, he said, “but I’d rather do that than all this waiting.”

The much-shorter Pakistani routes, from seaports like Karachi on better roads, were closed to protest the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in an American airstrike. But Pakistan has expressed willingness to reopen the frontier: for a fee of thousands of dollars per truck, compared with $250 previously. “We’re not about to get gouged in the price,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said on ABC’s “This Week.”

The Salang Pass tunnel, built in 1964 by the Soviets and never completely finished (it lacks amenities like interior surfacing of the walls and an escape tunnel), has a tragic history. Nine hundred Russians and Afghans reportedly died of asphyxiation in the tunnel in 1982 when a military convoy was trapped inside by an accident or an explosion.

Two years ago, huge avalanches at the southern mouth of the tunnel killed at least 64 people, buried alive in cars and buses.
The only remotely viable alternative route, General Rajab said, is over the Shibar Pass, farther west. It involves a three-day detour, which could be an improvement over Salang these days. However, the military would have to work at improving security on that route, he said — when he recently detoured trucks that way, they were looted before reaching the pass.

Riaz Haq said...

Israeli foreign minister cites US precedent for refusing Turkey apology, according to Jerusalem Post:

f the US adamantly refuses to apologize to Pakistan for the accidental killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers last November, Israel certainly need not say sorry to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara deaths, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday.
“The Pakistanis asked the US to apologize, and the Americans said ‘no way,’” Liberman said in reference to the November incident where US forces accidentally fired on two Pakistani border posts.

The US has since expressed regret for the incident, something Israel has also said it was willing to do regarding the killing of nine Turks on the May 2010 flotilla that aimed to break the blockade of Gaza.

“So when they come to us and pressure us to apologize over the Marmara, because of this or that constraint, sometimes even to best friends you must say ‘no.’ Otherwise, no one will respect you,” Liberman declared.

Liberman said the commandos who boarded the Mavi Marmara and clashed with those on the ship were clearly exercising their rights of self defense. The Turkish pressure on Israel to apologize now is to “deter us from using the legitimate right for self defense,” he said....
Michele Flournoy, who served as the third top official in the Pentagon before stepping down earlier this year, said last week at an Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv that it was very important for “Israel to repair its relationship with Turkey.”

Flournoy, who played a key role in shaping US President Barack Obama’s national security policy, hinted that Israel should apologize, saying Turkey was one of the strongest and most influential voices in the region, remained a close and valued NATO ally for the United States, and shared “our interest in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon state.”

While acknowledging that “she understands that past events have made concrete steps towards reconciliation quite difficult,” Flournoy said “if there is ever a time for Israel to rise above past differences and recriminations with Turkey, now is that time.

“Israel must act more strategically, and I think there is tremendous opportunity to rebuild its partnership with Turkey and with other partners where it can. This is really important at a time of such [regional] uncertainty.”

The Wall Street Journal reported in May that during discussions last December in Washington over whether it should apologize to the Pakistanis, Flournoy suggested language whereby the US would apologize for the “unintentional and tragic” deaths, but would not accept full responsibility. According to the paper, she argued that the “US risked the issue festering.”

No US apology has yet been forthcoming, and The Wall Street Journal quoted a senior administration official as wondering how Washington could apologize to a country that was providing, at least through some parts of its government, tacit support to those attacking US troops.

“This isn’t about politics,” the official is quoted as saying. “This is about the message that would send to our troops and that is what no one in the military or the White House could countenance.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a CNN report on the impact of CIA's fake vaccination scheme on polio eradication in Pakistan:

Pakistan is causing particular consternation among health officials who say their efforts to vaccinate more children are being frustrated by the CIA's use of a fake vaccination program last year to gather intelligence on Osama bin Laden.

In a letter to CIA director General David Petraeus in February, InterAction, which represents nearly 200 U.S.- based non-government organizations, expressed "deep concern" about the fake campaign.

"Among other factors, international public health officials point to the distrust of vaccines and immunization campaigns as contributing to the lack of progress in eradicating the disease in Pakistan," it said.

"This distrust is only increasing in light of reports about the CIA campaign," it added.

Bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in May 2011 at a heavily fortified compound in Abbottabad, in northeastern Pakistan.

Local news reports linked Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi to the U.S. intelligence operation, alleging he tried to gain access to bin Laden's compound through the fake vaccination scheme.

Pakistan recently sentenced Afridi to 33 years in jail for providing financial and medical assistance to the now defunct militant group Lashkar-e-Islam.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a Reuters' blog on "US War in FATA":

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is using increasingly forthright terms to describe the spillover of the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in its campaign of drone strikes. “We are fighting a war in the FATA, we are fighting a war against terrorism,” he said during a visit to India. The idea that the United States is at war inside Pakistan, albeit in its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, is not new. But the use of language is significant, requiring as Spencer Ackerman noted at Danger Room, “a war-weary (US) public to get used to fighting what’s effectively a third war in a decade, even if this one relies far more on remote controlled robots than ground troops”.

Panetta’s choice of words (and venue for delivering them) may not go down too well with Pakistani authorities in Islamabad/Rawalpindi. It is not particularly promising for the people of FATA either, who find themselves caught in the middle of a shadow war between the United States and Pakistan. But in one respect, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Rarely has the United States fought a war in a place about which it knows so little. If Panetta’s comments force people to learn about FATA, it might even lift us out of what until now has been a polemical debate between supporters and opponents of drone strikes, with little attention paid to the voices of people who actually live there.
This week I unearthed a book I had borrowed in order to return it – a 1938 edition of the British ”Handbooks for the Indian Army” dealing with “Pathans”. Coming from a generation who grew up learning to be ashamed of colonialism, I expected it to appal me. What I found was a tract which was sympathetic and respectful. It cautioned against using stereotypes about the Pathans, as the British used to call the Pashtun. It admired their history and poetry, commended them as soldiers; noted their respect for democracy and justice and insisted on paying attention quickly to their grievances. Avoiding the trap of
thinking that all people of FATA are the same, it described in detail the different tribes – their lifestyles often influenced by availability of arable land. The British liked to study and classify their imperial subjects all the better to control them - rather as a collector pins rare butterflies to a wall – so let’s not get carried away with the supposed benevolence.

But consider what it said about the need for political reform. “Pathans have often been stimatized as combining some of the worst traits of human character,” it noted, when describing their violent lifestyle and endless blood feuds. “But it is difficult to perceive in what other manner the tribesman is to protect himself, and his property and family, unless there is a complete social change of the conditions under which he lives; and as long as there is no settled government, and the principle of might being right prevails, this cannot occur.”

Remember that was 1938 and the British had already acknowledged the need for “settled government” even if they did not implement it. By now, one would have thought we would have become more aware. If nothing else, in the long years since the Sept 11 attacks on New York and Washington we might have studied the region where the United States is, as Panetta said, “at war”. Yet we know less about FATA now than the British did more than 70 years ago. These are the “tribal badlands”, the terms of their isolation defined by us rather than them, a place we choose not to know. Rather than knowledge we have polemics on drones. What have we become?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a TOI story on declining violence in Pakistan:

According to the data collated by Pakistan Body Count, an organisation that maintains a 'news-report based database' of suicide and drone attacks carried out in the country, the number of incidents as well as causalities, have witnessed a steep decline compared to 2009 and 2010 - the peak years in terms of causalities. The incidents which failed to reach even double digits in the five years spanning between 2002- 2006 suddenly spiked to 57 in 2007. The bombings claimed over 800 lives in that year. They went unchecked for the next two years and reached a peak in 2009 when 90 suicide bombings claimed over thousand lives.

Although the number of incidents started declining in 2010 but the number of fatalities increased. In 2011 there were 44 blasts killing 625 people- nearly half of the 2009 figures. By March 2012, when the data was last updated, there were only 16 such blasts which took 119 lives.


Year Total Blasts Killed Injured
2002 2 27 91
2003 2 65 115
2004 8 82 399
2005 4 83 230
2006 9 161 230
2007 57 842 2008
2008 61 940 2426
2009 90 1090 3462
2010 58 1153 2954
2011 44 625 1386
2012 16 119 254

Source: Pakistan Body Count

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Noam Chomsky titled "Somebody Else's Atrocity":

In his penetrating study “Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-Opted Human Rights,” international affairs scholar James Peck observes, “In the history of human rights, the worst atrocities are always committed by somebody else, never us”—whoever “us” is.

Almost any moment in history yields innumerable illustrations. Let’s keep to the past few weeks.

On May 10, the Summer Olympics were inaugurated at the Greek birthplace of the ancient games. A few days before, virtually unnoticed, the government of Vietnam addressed a letter to the International Olympic Committee expressing the “profound concerns of the Government and people of Viet Nam about the decision of IOC to accept the Dow Chemical Company as a global partner sponsoring the Olympic Movement.”

Dow provided the chemicals that Washington used from 1961 onward to destroy crops and forests in South Vietnam, drenching the country with Agent Orange.

These poisons contain dioxin, one of the most lethal carcinogens known, affecting millions of Vietnamese and many U.S. soldiers. To this day in Vietnam, aborted fetuses and deformed infants are very likely the effects of these crimes—though, in light of Washington’s refusal to investigate, we have only the studies of Vietnamese scientists and independent analysts.

Joining the Vietnamese appeal against Dow are the government of India, the Indian Olympic Association, and the survivors of the horrendous 1984 Bhopal gas leak, one of history’s worst industrial disasters, which killed thousands and injured more than half a million.

Union Carbide, the corporation responsible for the disaster, was taken over by Dow, for whom the matter is of no slight concern. In February, Wikileaks revealed that Dow hired the U.S. private investigative agency Stratfor to monitor activists seeking compensation for the victims and prosecution of those responsible.

Another major crime with very serious persisting effects is the Marine assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in November 2004.

Women and children were permitted to escape if they could. After several weeks of bombing, the attack opened with a carefully planned war crime: Invasion of the Fallujah General Hospital, where patients and staff were ordered to the floor, their hands tied. Soon the bonds were loosened; the compound was secure.

The official justification was that the hospital was reporting civilian casualties, and therefore was considered a propaganda weapon.

Much of the city was left in “smoking ruins,” the press reported while the Marines sought out insurgents in their “warrens.” The invaders barred entry to the Red Crescent relief organization. Absent an official inquiry, the scale of the crimes is unknown.

If the Fallujah events are reminiscent of the events that took place in the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, now again in the news with the genocide trial of Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, there’s a good reason. An honest comparison would be instructive, but there’s no fear of that: One is an atrocity, the other not, by definition.

As in Vietnam, independent investigators are reporting long-term effects of the Fallujah assault.

Medical researchers have found dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukemia, even higher than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Uranium levels in hair and soil samples are far beyond comparable cases.

One of the rare investigators from the invading countries is Dr. Kypros Nicolaides, director of the fetal-medicine research center at London’s King’s College Hospital. “I’m sure the Americans used weapons that caused these deformities,” Nicolaides says.

The lingering effects of a vastly greater nonatrocity were reported last month by U.S. law professor James Anaya, the U.N. rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report on US aid to Pakistan:

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) disbursed to Pakistan over $2.6 billion in economic, energy, health, education and infrastructure projects under Kerry-Lugar-Berman (KLB) Bill.

“The main emphasis of USAID assistance was on energy production, economic growth, agriculture improvement, education, health and infrastructure projects in the country,” USAID Acting Country Director Karen Freeman told newsmen Friday after function at National Institute of Health here.

“US wants prosperous, secure, stable Pakistan with improvement in all basic needs of life available to people at grassroots level. All USAID funded projects are on track,” she said adding besides producing 400 megawatts (MW) through new projects, assistance is being provided for improving existing energy projects.

She said US government through USAID provided assistance to help strengthen energy sector, enhance economic and educational opportunities available to Pakistanis, improve health care services and meet critical infrastructure needs in remote mountain areas. It also provided substantial relief, recovery assistance, such as when floods devastated the country in year 2010.

Earlier, addressing certificate distribution ceremony of disease control and prevention program, she said outbreak of infection diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis threaten well being of entire society. Doctors training will improve their skill to face this challenge. Strong disease surveillance, analysis, control systems are imperative so that infectious diseases are stopped.

Freeman said 31 Pakistani medical officials completed four week training from intensive US funded training program in basic epidemiology designed to strengthen detection, surveillance, analysis of infectious disease at district, provincial level. Program seeks to improve public health, disease control by building capacity in epidemiology, public health surveillance and response, public health laboratories, information systems for disease surveillance. USAID provided $6.78 million for this program since year 2006.

Since inception USAID health program trained 11,000 health care providers, provided 126 ambulances, upgraded 89 community healthcare facilities. In 2010 USAID helped restore 150 schools, trained over 600 teachers in Malakand. USAID offered training in finance to 19,000 women business owners in Punjab, Sindh provinces in 2010. As part of flood relief efforts USAID established 190 mobile health clinics, helped provide safe drinking water to over 1.5 million people daily.\06\16\story_16-6-2012_pg5_10

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a German review by Dr. Ludwing Watzal of a book titled "Pakistan: The US, Geopolitics and Grand Strategies":

The killing of Osama Bin Laden highlighted the already shattered relationship between the American and Pakistani governments. This incursion, the illegal drone war and other encroachments upon the Pakistan’s sovereignty by the US have brought the “special” relationship to square one. Yet, “the post 9/11 US-Pakistan relationship is not as special it is often portrayed as being. It reflects a complex combination of the phenomena of the war on terror, regional alliances and geopolitical realities, and Indian-Pakistani arch rivalries.” The skillful balancing of this political mélange is seen by the US and its Western cronies as a double game. Despite its close relationship with China and its difficult political and geopolitical maneuvering, Pakistan is still perceived as a key Western ally.

The book’s editors, Usama Butt, director of the Institute of Islamic Sociopolitical and Strategic Affair (IISA), and Julian Schofield, deputy director of the Centre d’études des politoques étrangères et de sécurité (CEPES) at the Université du Québec in Montréal, have gathered leading scholars from Pakistan and some Western countries. Even a scholar from the American Enterprise Institute, a neo-conservative think tank, is on board.

The book is divided into two parts: The first one deals exclusively with Pakistan-US relations; the second part discusses Pakistan´s foreign relations with other states. Pakistan’s domestic setting is as complex as its geopolitical situation and cannot be reduced to the decade of the “war on terror” or solely explained by its complicated relation to India. Both sections of the book are based on the paradigm that the country’s foreign policy should not be defined by the war on terror. Beside the US, Pakistan’s staunchest allies are Saudi Arabia and China, and the relations with Iran and Afghanistan are also excellent.

The book leaves the reader with the strong impression that the US Empire is not sensitive enough to the regional interests of its “ally” Pakistan, let alone of other actors. US President Obama’s drone war that causes many more deaths among civilians than among alleged terrorists infuriates the Pakistani people and contributes to the instability of the country. The global war on terror has badly affected the central Asian region. It serves only the hegemonic interests of the US and is directed against China and Russia.

Unfortunately, some authors use the phrase “global war on terror” to describe the havoc that is caused by the US Empire in the region. However, this terminology is a language construction. First, it is not a “war” and secondly, the operations going under this heading are not directed against “terrorists” but aim at US hegemony. The current discussions in the US show that the “drone war” and President Obama’s “hit list” are seen by some pundits as “state terrorism”. Unfortunately, the authors do not render these issues problematic.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times report on CIA's ruse hurting anti-polio campaign in Pakistan:

In Pakistan, where polio has never been eliminated, the C.I.A.’s decision to send a vaccination team into the Bin Laden compound to gather information and DNA samples clearly hurt the national polio drive. The question is: How badly?

After the ruse by Dr. Shakil Afridi was revealed by a British newspaper a year ago, angry villagers, especially in the lawless tribal areas on the Afghan border, chased off legitimate vaccinators, accusing them of being spies.

And then, late last month, Taliban commanders in two districts banned polio vaccination teams, saying they could not operate until the United States ended its drone strikes. One cited Dr. Afridi, who is serving a 33-year sentence imposed by a tribal court, as an example of how the C.I.A. could use the campaign to cover espionage.

“It was a setback, no doubt,” conceded Dr. Elias Durry, the World Health Organization’s polio coordinator for Pakistan. “But unless it spreads or is a very longtime affair, the program is not going to be seriously affected.”

He and other leaders of the global war on polio say they have recovered from worse setbacks. The two districts, North and South Waziristan, are in sparsely populated mountains where transmission is less intense than in urban slums. Only about 278,000 children under age 5 — the vaccine target population — live there. By contrast, in northern Nigeria, where polio is being beaten after years of public resistance to the vaccine campaign, children number in the millions.

Also, Dr. Durry said, vaccinators reached 225,000 Waziristan youngsters in early June, before the ban. All will need several doses to be fully protected, but each dose buys time.

And, said Dr. Bruce Aylward, the W.H.O.’s chief of polio eradication, vaccination teams are posted at highway checkpoints, train stations and bus stations. They give drops to all the children they find.

The truth probably won’t emerge until the summer spike of polio cases tapers off in the fall. The virus likes hot weather, and the summer monsoons flood the sewage-choked gutters where it lurks.

Paralyzed children may also be found in neighboring countries with better surveillance, as they have been before just over the China and Tajikistan borders. Genetic testing will show whether the strains are Pakistan-based.
Local anger was at its height last July, when The Guardian exposed the C.I.A. connection. It was confirmed by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta in January. Public outrage flared again in May after Dr. Afridi was sentenced. A coalition of aid groups protested to David Petraeus, the director of Central Intelligence.

“There could hardly have been a more stupid venture, and there was bound to be a backlash, especially for polio,” said Dr. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, a vaccine specialist at Aga Khan University in Pakistan.

Dr. Bhutta, who also heads the government’s research ethics committee, said both Dr. Afridi and the C.I.A. could be “sued or worse.” To establish their credibility, Dr. Afridi’s teams vaccinated whole neighborhoods in Abbottabad without permission.
Victory gets tantalizingly close, and then recedes, forcing health authorities to appeal for another $1 billion, as they did recently in Geneva.

Nigeria had only 62 cases last year; Pakistan had 198. For every known case, there are about 200 carriers with no symptoms, experts believe. Thus far in Pakistan this year, only 22 confirmed cases have been found. But the virus is still in sewage samples, meaning people are still shedding it.

HopeWins Junior said...

Year Total Blasts Killed Injured
2002 2 27 91
2003 2 65 115
2004 8 82 399
2005 4 83 230
2006 9 161 230
2007 57 842 2008
2008 61 940 2426
2009 90 1090 3462
2010 58 1153 2954
2011 44 625 1386
2012 16 119 254


This is ONLY suicide attacks as far as terrorist fatalities go.

For a total body count of ALL terrorist attacks, use this link:

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: The US Congress and the Obama administration are incensed by the 33-year prison term handed to Dr. Shakil Afridi accused by Pakistan of spying for the CIA.....

....the US demands are still hypocritical if one looks at the prison sentences handed out by US courts to Israeli Mossad agent Jonathan Pollard....


A) You cannot convict someone for spying unless they have transferred classied or restricted information. Transfer of unrestricted information is not considered "spying" under the law.

Dr. Afridi did NOT transfer any classified or restricted information to the CIA. He did not betray any National secrets.

Therefore, he cannot be convicted of spying.

How do I know this? See (B)

B) Dr. Afridi could NOT be convicted of spying because he did was not legally "spying". So instead they convicted him of "supporting Lashkar-i-Islam" after embracing an “ideology based on hatred” that "sought to overthrow the Government of Pakistan"

Obviously, this was a show trial in a Kangaroo court. Dr. Afridi was not locked up for spying or harming the National Interest of Pakistan, but for making the Army/ISI look foolish and incompetent.

This is not the "law taking its own course" withing "an independent judiciary" as Bilawal has been falsely saying to the Western Media. This was a act of revenge by the Army/ISI and had nothing to do with the law.

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "This is not the "law taking its own course" withing "an independent judiciary" as Bilawal has been falsely saying to the Western Media. This was a act of revenge by the Army/ISI and had nothing to do with the law. "

Bilawal is absolutely right.

Afridi is already challenging his conviction and the courts will decide his fate.

In my view, Afridi is guilty of multiple counts of being a foreign agent in the same way that Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai was in the eyes of the US. Fai transferred no "restricted" US info to Pakistan...he was merely a Washington lobbyist for Kashmiri freedom seekers who was allegedly paid by the ISI...the same way that Afridi was paid by the CIA.

In addition, Afrdi and his CIA handlers have done incalculable harm to the polio vaccination campaign designed to save many millions of children.

The fact is that CIA has screwed up big time first by organizing the bogus polio campaign which is badly hurting the genuine polio campaign in Pakistan and then abandoning Afridi by failing to evacuate him before he got caught.

And now the CIA officials are worried it sends the wrong message to their other "assets" in Pakistan and elsewhere that they'll be on their own if they get caught.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on polio eradication in Pakistan:

LAHORE, Jan 26: A World Health Organization (WHO) official says this is for the first time in the public health history of Pakistan that the country is on the track to get rid of poliovirus type 3 (P3), one of the two globally continuing strains of the wild poliovirus, in April.

Last time, a P3 case was reported on April 14, 2012 and it would be a great breakthrough in the fight against polio if the virus is not found in any part of the country till April 14 this year.

India is gearing up to be declared polio free by 2014. The WHO has already removed India from the list of polio endemic countries.

“We believe that Pakistan is on the right track to become free of poliovirus type P3, as the last P3 case was reported in the Bara Tehsil in Khyber Agency in the second week of April 2012, whereas all recent sewage samples show no active transmission of the P3 strain across the country,” Dr Elias Durry, head of the Polio Eradication Initiative at WHO Pakistan, told Dawn.

According to the WHO, type 2 strain of the poliovirus (P2) has been eradicated globally since 1999.

About eradication of the P3 strain throughout the world, Dr Durry says Nigeria reported 19 cases of the P3 strain and the most recent case was reported in November. He says that recent security-related incidents disrupted national polio campaigns. “Though there is more than 70 per cent decrease in polio cases in Pakistan, no corner of the country can be considered polio free until the poliovirus is eradicated throughout the country,” says the WHO official.

“Pakistan successfully brought down the number of cases by 71 per cent in 2012 compared to 2011. All provinces except Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have brought down the number of cases from 66 per cent to 95 per cent,” says the official.

Dr Durry says last year Balochistan brought down the number of polio cases by 95 per cent, Sindh by 88 per cent, Punjab by 78 per cent and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) by 66 per cent. “The most promising sign for Pakistan during the last year was a massive decrease in the number of polio cases during the high transmission season,” he said.

He said the last polio case of 2012 was reported on Nov 30 and a small number of samples from last year was still pending with the polio virology lab for evaluation. “Most likely, Pakistan is going to close its tally of 2012 polio cases at 58,” Dr Durry said.

The official says that all sewage samples collected from cities of Punjab in recent weeks were found negative. He says: “Most samples collected from Peshawar, Gadap Town in Karachi and Hyderabad produced positive results in the past, but they showed negative results now.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times blog post by Huma Yusuf on conspiracy theories in Pakistan:

As the security situation in Pakistan continues to deteriorate, trading conspiracy theories has become the new national pastime. Nothing is more popular on the airwaves, at dinner parties or around tea stalls than to speculate, especially about American activities on Pakistani soil.

According to many Pakistanis, the C.I.A. used a mysterious technology to cause the devastating floods that affected 20 million people in 2010. Washington had the teenage champion for girls’ education, Malala Yousafzai, shot as part of a campaign to demonize the Pakistani Taliban and win public support for American drone strikes against them. The terrorists who strike Pakistani targets are non-Muslim “foreign agents.” Osama bin Laden was an American operative.

The Pakistani penchant for conspiracy theories results from decades of military rule, during which the army controlled the media and the shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence agency controlled much of everything else. The lack of transparency and scarcity of information during subsequent democratic rule has further fueled rumors.

Mostly, however, conspiracy theories persist because many turn out to be true.

A few years ago, Pakistan’s independent media denounced the presence in Pakistan of C.I.A. agents and private security firms like Blackwater. While U.S. and Pakistani government officials denied any such infiltration, private television channels broadcast footage of the homes of Westerners, allegedly Blackwater agents. One right-wing newspaper, The Nation, even named one Wall Street Journal correspondent as a C.I.A. spy, forcing him to leave the country.

For a time liberal Pakistanis condemned this as a witch hunt and decried poor journalistic ethics. But soon the international media disclosed that Blackwater was in fact operating in Pakistan at an airbase in Baluchistan used by the C.I.A.

Then it was revealed that the American citizen who shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore in January 2011 — an American diplomat, the U.S. government claimed initially — turned out to be a C.I.A. agent, just as many conspiracy theorists had surmised.

And what about those U.S. drone strikes targeting militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt? It turns out those suspicious Pakistanis were right to imagine that their own government was complicit. That became clear when, in November 2011, to protest a NATO airstrike that killed Pakistani soldiers near the border with Afghanistan, the Pakistani government ordered the C.I.A. to leave the Shamsi airbase in Baluchistan, from where the drone attacks were being launched.

Other rumors concern India, Pakistan’s long-time rival. Zaid Hamid, a jihadist-turned-policy analyst, alleges that the Indian spy agency R.A.W. funds and arms the Pakistani Taliban. Some Pakistani officials accuse New Delhi of facilitating the separatist insurgency in Baluchistan.

This paranoia was confirmed this week by Chuck Hagel, the new U.S. secretary of defense. A video clip from 2011 that circulated during his confirmation hearings shows Hagel claiming that India uses Afghanistan as a “second front” against Pakistan and “has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border.”

The allegation outraged the Indian government and undermined liberal Pakistanis who believe India wants a stable Pakistan and support improved bilateral ties. Meanwhile, of course, it validated those conspiracy mongers who have long warned that India wants to culturally subsume, colonize or destroy Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of NY Times summary of “The Way of the Knife: The C.I.A., a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth” by Mark Mazzetti:

More than two years later, the Raymond Davis episode has been largely forgotten in the United States. It was immediately overshadowed by the dramatic raid months later that killed Osama bin Laden — consigned to a footnote in the doleful narrative of America’s relationship with Pakistan. But dozens of interviews conducted over several months, with government officials and intelligence officers in Pakistan and in the United States, tell a different story: that the real unraveling of the relationship was set off by the flurry of bullets Davis unleashed on the afternoon of Jan. 27, 2011, and exacerbated by a series of misguided decisions in the days and weeks that followed. In Pakistan, it is the Davis affair, more than the Bin Laden raid, that is still discussed in the country’s crowded bazaars and corridors of power.
Back in Washington, Ambassador Haqqani was summoned to C.I.A. headquarters on Feb. 21 and taken into Panetta’s spacious office overlooking the agency’s campus in Langley, Va. Sitting around a large conference table, Panetta asked Haqqani for his help securing Davis’s release. “If you’re going to send a Jason Bourne character to Pakistan, he should have the skills of a Jason Bourne to get away,” Haqqani shot back, according to one person who attended the meeting.
Munter said he believed that the C.I.A. was being reckless and that his position as ambassador was becoming untenable. His relationship with the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad, already strained because of their disagreements over the handling of the Davis case, deteriorated even further when Munter demanded that the C.I.A. give him the chance to call off specific missile strikes. During one screaming match between the two men, Munter tried to make sure the station chief knew who was in charge, only to be reminded of who really held the power in Pakistan.
On the streets and in the markets of Pakistan, Raymond Davis remains the boogeyman, an American killer lurking in the subconscious of a deeply insecure nation. On a steamy summer night last summer, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed — the head of Lashkar-e-Taiba and the reason Davis and his team were sent to Lahore in the first place — stood on the back of a flatbed truck and spoke to thousands of cheering supporters less than a mile from Pakistan’s Parliament building in Islamabad. A $10 million American bounty still hung over Saeed’s head, part of a broader squeeze on Lashkar-e-Taiba’s finances. But there he was, out in the open and whipping the crowd into a fury with a pledge to “rid Pakistan of American slavery.” The rally was the culmination of a march from Lahore to Islamabad that Saeed ordered to protest American involvement in the country. The night before the march reached the capital, six Pakistani troops were killed by gunmen riding motorcycles not far from where the marchers were spending the night, leading to speculation that Saeed had ordered the attack.

But Saeed insisted that night that he was not to blame for the deaths. The killers were foreigners, he told the crowd, a group of assassins with a secret agenda to destabilize Pakistan and steal its nuclear arsenal. With a dramatic flourish, he said he knew exactly who had killed the men.

“It was the Americans!” he shouted to loud approvals. “It was Blackwater!” The cheers grew even louder. He saved the biggest applause line ...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an NBC report on the killing of aid workers since the US raid that killed UBL in Abbottabad:

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – When U.S. Navy SEALs stormed a compound in Abbottabad to kill Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011, two young female polio workers - Sharafat Bibi and Sunbal Bibi - had no idea it would one day be a justification for their murder.
Sharafat and Sunbal were killed by unidentified armed men on May 28 in a village in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where they were administering anti-polio vaccines to the children.
They are among 20 people, three of them security personnel, who have been gunned down by suspected militants during the last two years for vaccinating children against polio.

Pakistan aid workers say their woes began when it emerged that Dr. Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani physician, ran a fake vaccination campaign in the garrison city of Abbottabad to collect DNA samples from bin Laden and his family to prove his presence there to the CIA.
There is outrage in Pakistan that Afridi helped the U.S. government capture and kill the terror mastermind on their sovereign territory. He was sentenced to 33 years' imprisonment for treason on May 23, 2012. Afridi is appealing the verdict; his next hearing is scheduled for July 18.
But many Pakistani aid workers say they are paying the ultimate price for Afridi’s actions. Ever since his role in the bin Laden compound attack was revealed, their job has become increasingly dangerous and now most parts of the country have become “no go” zones for aid workers.
‘We cannot move freely’
Dr. Janbaz Afridi, deputy director Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), in Peshawar believes the day people learned about the “dirty work” of Afridi in Abbottabad, they started opposing polio drops being given to their children and started to suspect that all polio workers were spies.
Militants have tried to block the vaccinations, saying they are part of a conspiracy to sterilize and reduce the world's Muslim population.
Janbaz Afridi, no relation of Shakil, said that since then UNICEF and the World Health Organization have spent millions of dollars on communication experts to create awareness campaigns, but that the strategy appears to have backfired as the number of parents refusing vaccines to their children is on the rise.
WHO said at the end of March that as many as 240,000 Pakistani children have missed getting their polio vaccinations in the North and South Waziristan regions - Taliban strongholds - since July 2012....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP story on anti-polio campaign in Pakistan's North West:

Peshawar: Pakistani health teams will on Sunday launch a drive to vaccinate some 750,000 children in the troubled north-west, with thousands of police guarding against attacks by militants who claim the polio campaign is a front for spying.
The campaign in Peshawar district, which covers Peshawar city and dozens of towns and villages, is the ninth phase of a push to eradicate polio in Pakistan, which along with Nigeria and Afghanistan are the only countries where the disease remains endemic.
The World Health Organisation has warned that Peshawar is the world’s “largest reservoir” of polio.
“At least 750,000 children will be administered the vaccine in Peshawar district where 335,000 houses have been identified for the purpose,” campaign organiser Yunus Zaheer told AFP on Saturday.

The campaign, which started early February, will continue until the end of April.
Vaccinators go door-to-door every Sunday across Peshawar district to administer drops to children for various diseases including polio, tuberculosis, tetanus, pneumonia, whooping cough, measles and hepatitis.
Zaheer said more than 6,200 teams comprising 12,500 workers have been set up to administer the vaccines, adding 6,700 police officials would be deployed on security duty during the campaign.
He said the campaign is likely to be extended to other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province later.
A senior local administration official, Zaheer-ul-Islam, also confirmed the details of the campaign.
According to the WHO, Pakistan recorded 91 cases of polio last year, up from 58 in 2012.
Pakistan’s failure to defeat polio stands in stark contrast to its neighbour and great rival India, which recently celebrated the eradication of the disease three years after its last case.
Some 56 people including health workers and police officials providing security have been killed in militant attacks on polio vaccination teams in Pakistan since December 2012.
Militant groups such as the Pakistani Taliban oppose the immunisation drive, saying it is a cover for US spying.
Violence, and the threat of it, have badly hampered the campaign to stamp out polio in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

International health officials in Pakistan believe they can resolve the country’s polio crisis in the coming year, despite the number of cases of the crippling disease soaring to their highest level in 14 years.

So far this year, 262 cases have been detected in the country, including in Swat, an area that had been free of polio for five years.

The setback in the effort to eradicate polio comes despite a big campaign that has seen millions of vaccines administered to children to protect them from a disease that can kill or permanently paralyse limbs.

But Elias Durry, one of the World Health Organisation’s top officials in Pakistan, said the disease would “most probably be fixed in the first half of 2015”. He said there was new hope for the programme after the army launched operations this summer in North Waziristan, wresting control of a tribal area bordering Afghanistan that had long been controlled by militants, who banned all vaccinations.

Riaz Haq said...

PESHAWAR, Pakistan—When Navy SEALs raided a high-walled compound in Pakistan in May 2011 and killed the world's most wanted terrorist, another long-standing source of terror also was facing elimination: polio.

After nearly half a century of vaccinating children and adults around the globe, international health workers finally had cornered the polio virus in a few remaining pockets in northern Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Although polio may lack the panic-inducing effect of Ebola—usually crippling its victims rather than killing them—Americans and Europeans over the age of 60 remember a period when the disease loomed as a terrorizing childhood scourge.

But the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden that spring and the subsequent fallout in Pakistan and the surrounding region—which included targeted assassinations of polio vaccination teams—allowed the virus to fight back. Almost four years later, polio remains a significant threat in Pakistan, which reported 327 new cases in 2014, 60 percent of the world total. This month, gunmen attacked a polio vaccination team in northwestern Pakistan and another four-member team was kidnapped and murdered in the Balochistan region, near the Afghan border.

Meanwhile, polio has surfaced amid the war and chaos in Iraq and Syria, places where the crippling disease, which is spread via person-to-person contact, had been eradicated as recently as 2000.

Scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO) who study the spread of diseases say that the strain of polio virus now cropping up in jihadist-controlled territories in Iraq and Syria originated in Pakistan and followed the same route taken by the Islamist fighters who left their camps in Pakistan to fight in Syria.

In the nearly four years since bin Laden was killed, pieces of this story have come to light. But many of the unintended consequences of the raid have not been reported. This four-part series offers the first comprehensive narrative of the strange twists the war on polio has taken since bin Laden was killed.

Over the past several months, National Geographic, with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, sent reporters to Pakistan and the Middle East to interview scientists, members of the intelligence community, government and military officials, foreign policy analysts, and health workers who are risking their lives in conflict zones. Their accounts offer a detailed picture of the political and biological forces that fueled polio's resurgence, and the heroic—and largely unheralded—efforts to vanquish a contagion that has plagued mankind for more than 3,000 years.

Mystery House in Abbottabad
In the spring of 2010, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) search for bin Laden began to focus on a certain villa in Abbottabad, a garrison town in the Himalayan foothills of Pakistan. A mystery man was shuttered away on the villa's top floor. CIA agents suspected it might be bin Laden, but they needed to be sure before launching a raid. So they devised an imaginative plan to identify him.

Riaz Haq said...

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Determined to curb Pakistan’s polio crisis, police officials in the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa said Friday that they had issued hundreds of arrest warrants for parents for refusing to vaccinate their children.

“We had 13,000 to 16,000 refusal cases,” the deputy police commissioner for Peshawar, Riaz Khan Mahsud, said in an interview. “There is total determination on our part. We shall convince parents of the good of vaccinating their children, but if they refuse, we shall detain them. There is no leniency.”

The police in other districts of the province also reported issuing warrants, though no official total was released.

“The number keeps fluctuating,” said a senior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the news media. “We are applying different laws. You have to resort to coercive measures when persuasion fails.”

The official added: “The application of laws is working. Some parents readily agree to vaccinate children to avoid detention. Others take a few days behind the bars to see reason. We take an affidavit from them and let them go if they bring kids for vaccination.”

Last year, 306 new polio cases were reported in Pakistan, breaking the country’s previous record high of 199 new cases in 2000.

“This was due to complacency and a very bad security situation,” said Dr. Imtiaz Ali Shah, head of the government’s polio monitoring group in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Dr. Shah said the outbreak was particularly bad in two northwestern tribal regions, North and South Waziristan, remote areas that have been havens for militants from Al Qaeda and the Taliban and their allies, making them mostly inaccessible to vaccination teams. Then, in June, the military began an offensive in North Waziristan to root out the militants, sending hundreds of thousands of refugees into the rest of Pakistan and across the border into Afghanistan.

The refugees “took the virus with them everywhere they went — in K.P., Baluchistan and Sindh,” Dr. Shah added. “There was a Ping-Pong, cases popping up here, cases popping up there.”

Despite this, Dr. Shah said the military operation had given officials the best chance in years for polio teams to make progress in the tribal areas.

So far there have been 13 new cases in all of Pakistan this year, 11 of them from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa or the tribal regions. “We have better access and better monitoring now,” Dr. Shah said. “The quality of the campaign has improved. I am confident the cases would come down to less than 100 this year.”

Riaz Haq said...

New Delhi, April 24: The Home Ministry's decision to place the Ford Foundation under watch reminds us of a very interesting account by Author Frances Stonor Saunders of how the CIA roped in NGOs as fronts and also participants in the spy game. The account is excellently narrated in the book, Who Paid the Piper? CIA and the Cultural Cold War. The Narendra Modi led NDA government is extremely serious about the issue of NGOs and their funding. The Intelligence Bureau in a very detailed dossier had listed out the names of several NGOs which were bringing in the funds to India only with the intention of spreading a false propaganda and in simple terms, "make India look bad."

Greenpeace was the first NGO to come under the hammer and the Ministry of Home Affairs had suspended its licence with an option to show cause how it was bringing in the funds and also why it had not filed its statement of accounts. Yesterday the Ford Foundation was placed under watch.

A US Congressional investigation that was conducted in the year 1976 revealed nearly 50% of the 700 grants in the field of international activities by the principal foundations were funded by the CIA. It was also observed that the CIA found the Ford Foundation to be one of the best funding cover. It was further discovered that the Ford Foundation link to the CIA was a deliberate one and the effort that was being made was to strengthen the US cultural scene while undermining left wing cultural and political influence. The Ford Foundation according to various investigations conducted was considered to be an extension of the government and it was only carrying out the international cultural propaganda. Another observation was that the Ford Foundation had contributed 7 million US dollars to a CIA organized Congress for Cultural Freedom in the year 1960. Frances Stonor Saunders writes that the CIA had roped in NGOs not only as fronts but as willing participants in the spy game. She writes that the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation were conscious instruments of covert US policy, with directors and officers who were closely connected to, or even members of American intelligence. At times, it seemed as if the Ford Foundation was simply an extension of government in the area of international cultural propaganda. The foundation had a record of close involvement in covert actions in Europe, working closely with Marshall Plan and CIA officials on specific projects, Saunders also writes in her book.

Read more at:

Riaz Haq said...

Assange believes #Google is an extension US govt and instrument of US Policy. …
From Newsweek by Julian Assange of Wikileaks:
It was at this point that I realized Eric Schmidt might not have been an emissary of Google alone. Whether officially or not, he had been keeping some company that placed him very close to Washington, D.C., including a well-documented relationship with President Obama. Not only had Hillary Clinton’s people known that Eric Schmidt’s partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel.
While WikiLeaks had been deeply involved in publishing the inner archive of the U.S. State Department, the U.S. State Department had, in effect, snuck into the WikiLeaks command center and hit me up for a free lunch. Two years later, in the wake of his early 2013 visits to China, North Korea and Burma, it would come to be appreciated that the chairman of Google might be conducting, in one way or another, “back-channel diplomacy” for Washington. But at the time it was a novel thought.
I put it aside until February 2012, when WikiLeaks—along with over thirty of our international media partners—began publishing the Global Intelligence Files: the internal email spool from the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor. One of our stronger investigative partners—the Beirut-based newspaper Al Akhbar— scoured the emails for intelligence on Jared Cohen.
The people at Stratfor, who liked to think of themselves as a sort of corporate CIA, were acutely conscious of other ventures that they perceived as making inroads into their sector. Google had turned up on their radar. In a series of colorful emails they discussed a pattern of activity conducted by Cohen under the Google Ideas aegis, suggesting what the “do” in “think/do tank” actually means.
Cohen’s directorate appeared to cross over from public relations and “corporate responsibility” work into active corporate intervention in foreign affairs at a level that is normally reserved for states. Jared Cohen could be wryly named Google’s “director of regime change.”
According to the emails, he was trying to plant his fingerprints on some of the major historical events in the contemporary Middle East. He could be placed in Egypt during the revolution, meeting with Wael Ghonim, the Google employee whose arrest and imprisonment hours later would make him a PR-friendly symbol of the uprising in the Western press. Meetings had been planned in Palestine and Turkey, both of which—claimed Stratfor emails—were killed by the senior Google leadership as too risky.
Looking for something more concrete, I began to search in WikiLeaks’ archive for information on Cohen. State Department cables released as part of Cablegate reveal that Cohen had been in Afghanistan in 2009, trying to convince the four major Afghan mobile phone companies to move their antennas onto U.S. military bases. In Lebanon, he quietly worked to establish an intellectual and clerical rival to Hezbollah, the “Higher Shia League.” And in London he offered Bollywood movie executives funds to insert anti-extremist content into their films, and promised to connect them to related networks in Hollywood.
If the future of the Internet is to be Google, that should be of serious concern to people all over the world—in Latin America, East and Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, the former Soviet Union and even in Europe—for whom the Internet embodies the promise of an alternative to U.S. cultural, economic, and strategic hegemony.
A “don’t be evil” empire is still an empire.
Extracted from When Google Met Wikileaks by Julian Assange published by OR Books. Newsweek readers can obtain a 20 percent discount on the cover price when ordering from the OR Books website and including the offer code word NEWSWEEK.

Riaz Haq said...

Exclusive: A shadow foreign policy apparatus built by Ronald Reagan for the Cold War survives to this day as a slush fund that keeps American neocons well fed and still destabilizes target nations, now including Ukraine, creating a crisis that undercuts President Obama, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

The National Endowment for Democracy, a central part of Ronald Reagan’s propaganda war against the Soviet Union three decades ago, has evolved into a $100 million U.S. government-financed slush fund that generally supports a neocon agenda often at cross-purposes with the Obama administration’s foreign policy.

NED is one reason why there is so much confusion about the administration’s policies toward attempted ousters of democratically elected leaders in Ukraine and Venezuela. Some of the non-government organizations (or NGOs) supporting these rebellions trace back to NED and its U.S. government money, even as Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior officials insist the U.S. is not behind these insurrections.


NED was founded in 1983 at the initiative of Cold War hardliners in the Reagan administration, including then-CIA Director William J. Casey. Essentially, NED took over what had been the domain of the CIA, i.e. funneling money to support foreign political movements that would take the U.S. side against the Soviet Union.

Though the Reagan administration’s defenders insist that this “democracy” project didn’t “report” to Casey, documents that have been declassified from the Reagan years show Casey as a principal instigator of this operation, which also sought to harness funding from right-wing billionaires and foundations to augment these activities.

In one note to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese, Casey endorsed plans “for the appointment of a small Working Group to refine the proposal and make recommendations to the President on the merit of creating an Institute, Council or National Endowment in support of free institutions throughout the world.”

Casey’s note, written on CIA stationery, added, “Obviously we here should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor do we wish to appear to be a sponsor or advocate. … We would be pleased to make suggestions on the composition of the Working Group and Commission.”

To organize this effort, Casey dispatched one of the CIA’s top propaganda specialists, Walter Raymond Jr., to the National Security Council. Putting Raymond at the NSC insulated the CIA from accusations that it institutionally was using the new structure to subvert foreign governments – while also helping fund American opinion leaders who would influence U.S. policy debates, a violation of the CIA’s charter. Instead, that responsibility was shifted to NED, which began doing precisely what Casey had envisioned.

Many of the documents on this “public diplomacy” operation, which also encompassed “psychological operations,” remain classified for national security reasons to this day, more than three decades later. But the scattered documents that have been released by archivists at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, reveal a whirlwind of activity, with Raymond in the middle of a global network.

Riaz Haq said...

When the Student Movement Was a CIA Front

The CIA's manipulation of the National Student Association foreshadowed other forms of Cold War blowback that compromised democracy at home.

n its March 1967 issue, Ramparts, a glossy West Coast muckraking periodical that expired in 1975, and that strongly opposed American involvement in the war in Vietnam, published an exposé of the close relationship between the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Student Association. This other NSA—not to be confused with the National Security Agency—was then the leading American organization representing college students, with branches on about 400 campuses. Its ties with the CIA were formed in the early years of both institutions following World War II, as the Cold War was getting under way.
According to Ramparts, the CIA had been providing much of the funding for the NSA through various “conduits.” NSA officers, many of them wittingly, had served the interests of the CIA by participating actively in international youth and student movements. The NSA’s activities were financed by the Agency both to counter communist influence and also to provide information on people from other countries with whom they came in contact. The disclosures about the CIA’s ties to the NSA were the most sensational of a number of revelations in that era that exposed the Agency’s involvement in such institutions as the Congress for Cultural Freedom; the International Commission of Jurists; the AFL-CIO; Radio Free Europe; and various leading philanthropic foundations. Karen Paget’s new book, Patriotic Betrayal, is the most detailed account yet of the CIA’s use of the National Student Association as a vehicle for intelligence gathering and covert action. (See author’s endnote.)

With the passage of half a century, it may be difficult to understand why so many political and cultural organizations, led by individuals with a generally liberal or leftist outlook, covertly collaborated with the CIA in the 1950s and first half of the 1960s, before exposés in Ramparts and other publications put an end to most such arrangements. After all, many of the activities of the Agency in that era are among those that we now regard as particularly discreditable. These include the CIA’s cooperation with the British intelligence services in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953; its cooperation with the United Fruit Company in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954; and its cooperation with the Republic of the Congo’s former colonial rulers, the Belgians, in overthrowing the country’s newly elected prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, in 1960.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan may become #polio free by next year: #UNICEF via @CatchNews

"The progress and achievement in polio eradication efforts has raised the confidence of health teams and Pakistan has set the target of complete obstruction of polio transmission in Pakistan by May 2016," Johar said, adding, "In May 2016, Pakistan may be declared as Non-Endemic country for polio virus."

"Around 292,000 children from Khyber Agency, North Waziristan and South Waziristan Agencies were missed from immunisation in 2014 due to inaccessibility of health teams in these area," said Aqeel Ahmad, Media Liaison Officer, Polio Emergency Operation Center (EOC), FATA.

While in 2015, only 16,000 children have been missed in the country which is highly appreciable, Aqeel added.

This achievement became possible with the support of the military, especially due to improvement in security after launching of military operation Zarb-e-Azb, said Aqeel.

Johar also gave credit for reduction in polio cases to better security arrangements after launching of military operations in North Waziristan Agency and other parts of FATA including Khyber Agency.

The main reason behind the rise in number of polio cases between 2005 to 2014 was inaccessibility of health teams in tribal areas where hundreds of thousands of children were missed from immunisation resulting in contamination of disease, Johar said.

Riaz Haq said...

By tracing cellphones, #Pakistan makes inroads in war against #polio

The 85 percent decline in new cases this year is boosting confidence that Pakistani officials are on pace to stop the spread of the virus here, perhaps as early as next year. If Pakistan can achieve that goal, the world will take a major step toward becoming polio-free.

In late September, the World Health Organization declared that polio was no longer “endemic” in Nigeria, leaving only Pakistan and Afghanistan on the list of countries where the crippling virus continues to spread.

The revelation that the CIA had used a fake vaccination campaign to gain intelligence on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden in 2011 had been a huge blow to Pakistan’s efforts against the disease, especially in areas where Islamist militant groups were strong.

But as the militants have loosened their grip on Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt, health officials are now vaccinating hundreds of thousands of children for the first time.


That coordination began late last year as Pakistan’s army pressed into North Waziristan, which had been controlled by Taliban militants and was largely off-limits to vaccination teams.

When more than 100,000 families were evacuated from the area, they were stopped at roadside checkpoints and forced to take a drop of the polio vaccine.

Later, when the displaced residents were registered at refugee camps, they were given a surprising offer: free SIM cards for their phones.


Unbeknownst to North Waziristan residents, health officials used the SIM cards to track them as they resettled in other parts of the country. Their locations were mapped in new polio-eradication command centers. When clusters of residents from North Waziristan were identified on the map, teams of vaccinators were sent to those communities to, once again, administer the vaccine.

“We were able to trace them, map them and follow up with them,” said Safdar Rana, head of Pakistan’s Program on Immunization.

The controversial strategy was combined with outreach to religious leaders, the creation of community health centers and a renewed push to put women — not men — on the front lines of the country’s campaign to eradicate polio. But as with many other aspects of life here, the battle against polio is inextricably linked to efforts to overcome the threat posed by Islamist militancy.

Attacks on polio vaccination teams, provoked by the CIA ruse in 2011, resulted in the deaths of 74 people from 2012 to 2014, including 41 last year. So far this year, however, the number of deaths has dropped to 10, according to government figures.

Riaz Haq said...

Bill Gates predicts #polio eradication in #Pakistan by 2017 - Pakistan - Dunya News …

Bill Gates said Wednesday that "with any luck" polio will be eradicated by 2017 in the last two countries where it remains active, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Microsoft founder, who has donated billions to fight global diseases, was speaking in Doha at the official announcement of a $50 million donation from Qatar to "The Lives and Livelihood Fund".

This is a partnership fund between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), who together have been working to try to eradicate diseases, including polio, since 2012.

"There’s very few cases left, just two countries at this point, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and with any luck either this year or next year we will have the last cases of those," Gates said.

Pakistan has already made it an official target to rid the country of polio -- an infectious viral disease resulting in muscle damage -- in 2016 though there have already been eight recorded cases so far this year.

Although these are the two countries where the disease remains endemic, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative calculates eight countries are "vulnerable" to the virus, including Cameroon, South Sudan and Syria.

The billionaire, who is the world’s richest-man according to Forbes, is also well-known for his work in trying to combat malaria.

Earlier this year he announced the launch of a $4 billion fund to help eradicate malaria, which he called the "world’s biggest killer".

The donation he received in Doha will go towards a fund seeking to provide affordable financing for the 30 least-wealthy countries among IDB members.

It aims to ease the burden for some of the world’s poorest people through grants and Sharia-compliant loans.

Gates said the injection of cash from Qatar will enable the fund to begin its work.

"This is a great milestone for helping the poorest," he said. "Qatar has always been very generous as a donor."
In total, the fund is trying to raise $2.5 billion.

The money has been donated by Doha through the Qatar Development Fund (QDF), a public body which distributes foreign aid.

The head of the QDF, Khalifa bin Jassim Al-Kuwari, said Qatar was "very interested in poverty reduction".

"We aim at launching several projects in the health sector, which will improve the quality of life for millions of people across the Muslim world," he said.

IDB president Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al Madani said help would go to those in war-torn regions, where possible.

"We try as much as we can to help the countries that suffers from conflicts depending on conditions," he said.

"If the conditions allow us to work, the Bank works."

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #Pakistan could beat #polio in months, says WHO

Polio could be eradicated in Pakistan within months, health officials say, as a mass vaccination drive is launched.
A World Health Organisation spokesman told the BBC only a handful of cases have been reported this year in Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan.
The two countries are the last places where polio remains endemic.
It is hoped millions of children will be vaccinated over three days. Police escorts will guard against Islamist militants who oppose immunisations.
"The challenges we have are both logistics and security," the WHO's representative for Pakistan, Dr Michel Thieren, told the BBC.
He said about 70,000 medical staff aimed to immunise almost 10 million children in the drive, which is taking place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and semi-autonomous tribal areas in the north-west, as well as in south-west Balochistan province.
"They have with them 12 million doses for the coming three days," he said.

"We are very close. A handful of cases [were] noticed this year - about 11 in Pakistan and I think about five in Afghanistan.
"This is the lowest toll of cases in history. We expect to be within months of polio elimination in Pakistan."
The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says the WHO's expression of optimism comes after the Pakistani authorities launched repeated anti-polio drives in high-risk areas.
Health teams gained access to formerly hostile regions in the north-west after the Pakistani military launched a 2014 offensive against the Taliban in North Waziristan.
Attacks on health workers have dropped since then, although they still remain a threat.
Islamist militants oppose vaccination, saying it is a Western conspiracy to sterilise Pakistani children.
In April seven policemen, three guarding polio workers, were killed in Karachi. A January bomb attack on a vaccination centre in Quetta killed 15 people.
Pakistan recorded more than 300 polio cases in 2014, its highest number since 1999. The number of cases fell to 52 last year.