Sunday, July 7, 2013

Coup Topples Morsi, Pak Seeks TTP Dialog, MQM's Altaf in Trouble

Egypt and Pakistan have both been in the news in the last few days. Egypt's military generals staged a coup against President Mohammad Morsi while denying it was a coup. Pakistan sought dialog with the TTP even as its citizens continued to suffer heavy casualties in terrorist attacks launched by the Pakistani Taliban and their sectarian allies across the country. Reports from London indicate that the British police have found credible evidence to link MQM chief Altaf Husain with money laundering and Imran Farooq's murder.

Here's a summary of this week's Viewpoint From Overseas discussion:

1. Military Coup in Egypt:

Egypt's first democratically elected president Dr. Mohammad Morsi was forced out by the Egyptian military in a coup. The military said it was responding to the wishes of the protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo.

The protesters who demanded the removal of Dr. Mohammad Morsi are people who did not vote for him in the first place. These are people who say "My way or highway" and don't understand the democratic process. They agree on very little other than the removal of a man they did not want to be the president. The generals saw this as an opportunity to grab power after barely a year of free and fair election won by Morsi , and sought to restore the privileged position of the military.

I fear a violent reaction from the Brotherhood and its allies to this coup which has been welcomed by retrograde Arab dictators ranging from Syria's Assad to Saudi King Abdullah and the Qatari rulers.

2.  Dialog with Pakistani Taliban:

Pakistan's political leaders signaled their weakness yet again by continuing their pleas for dialog with the TTP and its sectarian allies in response to more horrific attacks on many more civilian and state targets across the country.

The question one needs to ponder is what will Pakistani leadership talk with the TTP about? And what is it ready to concede in return for peace?

The TTP have repeatedly made it clear that they want the implementation of their version of Shariah which rejects Pakistan's democracy, constitution and its various state institutions, including the parliament and the judiciary.

Do Pakistani leaders want a repeat of what happened in Swat after ANP signed a peace deal with the TTP in 2009?

Do they remember that the Taliban unleashed their reign of terror on the people of Swat in the name of "Nizam-e-Adl"? Are they willing to accept it across the country?

The second major demand of the Taliban is for Pakistan to cut ties with the United States.

Pakistan is in the middle of another IMF bailout right now.  Would the IMF, dominated by the US and its allies, bail Pakistan out now or in the future if it accepted the TTP demand to cut ties with the West?

In fact, the US and its allies are Pakistan's biggest trading partners. How long can Pakistan, or any other country, survive by cutting ties with the US? Do the anti-American demagogues in Pakistan know what is happening to Iran, a country with a lot more resources than Pakistan, under US-sponsored sanctions? Do they know that Iran and Syria are among the world's fastest shrinking economies?

Is it better to first use overwhelming military force against the TTP to weaken them to make them see reason before starting a dialog?

Back in 2009, Pew Poll indicated that 53% of Pakistanis supported military action against the Taliban in Swat.

Support for the use of the Army against the Taliban is 35%, up from 32% last year, while 29% oppose it. down from 35% in 2012. Can the support for decisive military action against the TTP be increased by Pakistani political leadership?

What needs to be done to increase support to use decisive military force against the Taliban?

3. Altaf Husain in Trouble:

There are unconfirmed reports that the British Police have found credible evidence of MQM chief Altaf Husain's involvement in murder and money laundering after several days of searches, seizures and interrogations in Dr. Imran Farooq murder case in London and elsewhere.

Would the British government actually go all the way and charge Altaf Husain? Or would it just use the threat of such charges to influence MQM's behavior in Pakistani politics to protect British interests in Pakistan, particularly in the important port city of Karachi? Can Altaf Husain continue to lead the MQM if he is formally charged ad prosecuted?

Here's a video discussion on the above topics:

Egypt's Morsi Ousted by Military; Hazara Carnage; Dialog with Taliban; MQM Boss Altaf Husain's Troubles from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Here's a BBC2 documentary about British investigations into possible murder and money laundering charges against MQM Chief Altaf Hussain:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Nawaz Sharif's Silence on Taliban Terror in Inaugural Speech

Taliban vs. Pakistan

Yet Another Peace Deal and Shia Blockade

Taliban Insurgency in Swat

Musharraf's Treason Trial

General Kayani's Speech on Terror War Ownership

Impact of Youth Vote and Taliban Violence on Elections 2013

Imran Khan's Social Media Campaign

Pakistan Elections 2013 Predictions 

Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Viewpoint From Overseas-Vimeo 

Viewpoint From Overseas-Youtube 


Hopewins said...

^^RH: "There are unconfirmed reports that the British Police have found..."

Why not wait until they are confirmed? What is the hurry to publish "unconfirmed reports" on your blog?

Mujtaba said...

Intresting post. If Altaf is indicted for murder , MQM will collapse the same day. Which party is ready to take over Karachi now is a big question.

Suhail said...

You have two contradictory positions in your reporting on points 1 and 2. In Egypt's case you do not account for the millions of protestors gathered in Tahrir Square demanding Morsi's ouster and support Morsi because of his electoral success. In Pakistan's case, you're relying on inconsequential polls to support the argument that public wants military action against TTP while ignoring the fact that PML-N and PTI, leading parties in recent elections, want dialog with TTP and claiming that it was part of their election campaign as well. Such inconsistencies lead nowhere.

Riaz Haq said...

Suhail: "You have two contradictory positions in your reporting on points 1 and 2."

There is no inconsistency in my position. You need to read what I wrote carefully.

The military has no right to overthrow an elected govt based on the number people protesting in the streets of the capital even if you believe their numbers make up the majority of votes.

As to action against TTP, I am arguing that the polls show the majority (>50%) does not support the use of the military at this time....but the number of people supporting military action (35%) is now larger than those who oppose it (29%).

I am also proposing that the Pak leadership build public opinion to use force against the TTP or risk turning Pakistani state into a failed state for all intents and purposes.

Khan said...

Brits stop Altaf's telephone address from London to MQM party workers in Pakistan

Hopewins said...

^^Mujtaba: "... If Altaf is indicted for murder , MQM will collapse the same day. Which party is ready to take over Karachi now is a big question."

Nope. Altaf can even run the MQM from prison. It has all been done before.

As for the Karachi people, they will be told that Altaf is being falsely (jhoot) sent to jail by the British because of the scheming (saazish)request of the ill-intentioned (badniyati) Punjabi Establishment. He will immediately become a martyr for the Muhajirs and MQM will grow stronger.

Politics is about BELIEF, not facts.

Hopewins said...

^^RH: "The military has no right to overthrow an elected govt based on the number people protesting in the streets of the capital even if you believe their numbers make up the majority of votes..."

So Musharraf 1999 coup was WRONG? The economic boom during his dictatorship should NEVER have happened? The lost decade of the 1990s merry-go-round should have continued?

Is this what you are now saying?

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "So Musharraf 1999 coup was WRONG?"

I never said otherwise.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' report on possible divisions among the Taliban:

Pakistan-based Taliban sacked their spokesman on Tuesday for making remarks that angered their Afghan allies, in a move highlighting efforts to patch up divisions within the increasingly fractured insurgency.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), formed in 2007, is an umbrella group uniting various militant factions operating in Pakistan's volatile northwestern tribal areas along the porous border with Afghanistan.

Any further divisions within the movement are likely to weaken the Afghan Taliban's fight against Western forces there, making it more difficult to recruit young fighters and disrupting safe havens in Pakistan used by Afghan militants.

The Pakistani Taliban announced the dismissal of Ehsanullah Ehsan - an outspoken and prominent figure close to TTP's top brass - in a pamphlet distributed by militants in Pakistan's North Waziristan region on the Afghan border.

"He has made comments that have raised the danger of divisions between the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan Taliban," the pamphlet said.

"The Taliban are our foundation and (Afghan Taliban leader) Mullah Omar is our supreme leader. That is why, from today, Ehsanullah Ehsan is no longer our spokesman."

One TTP commander told Reuters that the Afghan Taliban were incensed when Ehsan told a local newspaper that U.S.-Taliban peace talks in Doha would have no effect on the TTP, suggesting that the two movements were "totally different".

"After Ehsan's damaging statements, the Afghan Taliban asked us not to use their stationery or their flag," he said by telephone from North Waziristan. "This is unacceptable for us."

Ehsan was replaced by Sheikh Maqbool, a man who is considered close to the Afghan Taliban and has spent much of his time since 2007 in Afghanistan.

But Ehsan's sacking could also signal yet another chink in the armor of the Pakistani Taliban itself, which last month lost its second-in-command, Wali-ur-Rehman, in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan, a militant stronghold.

The Pakistani movement has long struggled to formulate a unified set of goals, with some factions focusing on staging attacks against domestic military and civilian targets and others calling for deeper involvement in the Afghan cause.

Hopewins said...

Here is Pakistan-expert Myra Macdonald on comparing Egypt to Turkey & Pakistan (especially the role of their Armies).....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a link to a video of Express News show "To the Points" with Saleem Safi and others confirming the effectiveness of US drones in killing in TTP leaders attacking Pakistan:

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Time mag article on Malala Day in Pakistan:

Last Friday, Malala Yousafzai took to the podium at the United Nations. It was her 16th birthday, and her first major public appearance since the Taliban’s attempt to assassinate the Pakistani schoolgirl last October for her efforts to promote girls’ education. Traces of the near-fatal attack were still visible, as the disfiguring on the left side of her face showed. But as she demonstrated in a powerful and moving speech, her resolve had not dimmed.

Yousafzai issued a simple plea: she wanted the world’s leaders to offer children free and compulsory education. She said that she wanted to wage a war against illiteracy and terrorism, but had no use for the tools of violence. “Let us pick up our books and our pens,” Yousafzai urged. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” The audience, both inside the U.N. hall where she spoke and among the many who saw the speech live on television around the world, responded with tearful applause. Former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown hailed Yousafzai as “the most courageous girl in the world.”

Back home in Pakistan, however, the reaction was depressingly mixed. Yousafzai’s supporters were thrilled to see her defy the Taliban militants who tried to silence her. They were impressed by her message of forgiveness, saying that she did not “even hate the Talib who shot me.” Some of the country’s main television channels showed her speech live; most did not. There were a few politicians like former cricket legend Imran Khan who tweeted tributes to her bravery. But even as the world was marking “Malala Day,” as the UN had named it, the Pakistani government didn’t bother to register the occasion.

The most troubling were the many voices that denounced Yousafzai and her speech as “a drama” – a colloquial expression commonly used to describe “a stunt” or “a hoax.” When Yousafzai was shot nine months ago, there was widespread sympathy. On television, messages of solidarity were broadcast. Children in mosques, churches, and temples were shown holding candlelight vigils. But since then, the mood has turned dark, and Yousafzai has become the object of widespread and lurid conspiracy theories.....
It becomes more comforting to cast blame on “outside actors.” Incidents like the appearance of Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who shot two men in Lahore in 2011, do end up lending some substance to these claims. It is perhaps inevitable that Pakistanis wonder how many other foreign intelligence agents lurk in the streets and bazaars. Enduring drone attacks, seen to kill many innocent civilians, have seen sharp rise in anti-American feeling. It is part of the reason why some spurned Yousafzai as a local hero. Her acceptance by the West led to her being rejected at home.

But a deepening sense of denial makes it difficult for Pakistan to confront its enemies at home. The new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had said that it would like to negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban to end domestic terrorism. But the militants don’t appear willing to talk. In the few weeks Sharif has been in office, a reported 32 terrorist attacks have claimed some 250 lives. For that trend to stop, more Pakistanis will have to see past the conspiracy theories. It is impossible to take on a threat you refuse to see.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report on MQM Chief Altaf Hussain:

Pakistan's most vibrant, vivacious and popular 24-hour news channel, Geo TV, generally has little difficulty recruiting staff. Its headquarters are in Karachi, Pakistan's so called "city of dreams" – a massive, sprawling conurbation with 20 million residents seeking a better life. And yet there was one vacancy recently that Geo TV could not fill. The channel wanted a lookalike for its popular satirical show, in which actors play the parts of the country's leading politicians. It was a job offering instant stardom and good money. And not a single person in Karachi was willing to do it.

The man Geo TV sought to satirise was Altaf Hussain, the leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). And the reason no one applied was the fear that if Altaf Hussain were unamused by the performance, the actor playing him would be murdered.
It's difficult to know how many murder cases have been registered against Altaf Hussain, but perhaps the most authoritative number was released in 2009 when the then Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf implemented his National Reconciliation Order, granting most of the country's senior politicians an amnesty. One of the biggest beneficiaries was Hussain, against 72 cases were dropped, including 31 allegations of murder. The MQM rejects all the murder charges lodged against Hussain.
Right from the start the police raids in the investigation have produced rich material. Shortly after the 2010 murder the police found a significant number of papers stashed in Farooq's home. Some of the documents gave credence to the confessions made by a number of suspected MQM militants in Karachi. Repeatedly, MQM activists there had told the Pakistani authorities they were trained in India. Asked on numerous occasions over a period of several weeks about its relationship with the MQM, Indian government officials have failed to make any statement on the matter. Recent police raids have turned up £150,000 at the party's Edgware's offices and £250,000 at Hussain's house in Mill Hill.

The police say they are making significant progress in the Farooq murder case and have an ever-clearer understanding of what they believe was a conspiracy to kill him. Their investigation, however, is complicated by the fact that the MQM has supporters deep within the Pakistani state who want to protect it, and more cynical actors such as Pakistan's main intelligence agency, the ISI, which want to control it.
As Hussain suggests in the letter, British interest in the MQM is largely driven by the perception that the party offers a defence against jihadis. But there is more to it than that. The MQM is British turf: Karachi is one of the few places left on earth in which the Americans let Britain take the lead. The US consulate in Karachi no longer runs active intelligence gathering operations in the city. The British still do. When it comes to claiming a place at the top table of international security politics – London's relationship with the MQM is a remaining toehold.

And there's something else. The FCO's (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) most important currency is influence. Successive Pakistani governments, when they are not demanding Hussain's extradition, have included his parliamentary bloc in various coalition governments. From the FCO's point of view, it's a great source of access. Right on their doorstep, in London, they have a man with ministers in the Pakistani government...

Riaz Haq said...

Paramilitary forces raided the offices of the main political party in the sprawling port city of Karachi, seizing weapons and arresting some of its activists, officials and party members said.

Members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement said three of the party’s supporters were shot, one fatally, during the operation Wednesday morning. The party headquarters, known as “Nine Zero,” is protected by barriers erected by the party, with armed personnel manning checkpoints and watchtowers around the area.

The paramilitary Rangers force, which is run under the command of serving army officers, wouldn’t immediately comment on the casualties of the raid.

Col. Tahir Mahmood, a spokesman for the Rangers, said the raid was launched after receiving intelligence about the presence of wanted individuals at the MQM headquarters, including a man sentenced to death over the killing of a journalist. Following the raid, Rangers showed reporters the weapons they said were seized from the headquarters complex, including dozens of automatic rifles.

Karachi, a city of more than 20 million people, is plagued by gang violence. The gangs, which include jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda, have turned parts of the city into so-called no-go areas that even police hesitate to enter.

“This was a ‘no-go’ area, and we have a mandate to end no-go areas,” said Col. Mahmood.

After the raid, large parts of Karachi shut down, with shops and businesses pulling down their shutters, and buses curtailing their routes.

At MQM headquarters, hundreds of angry party supporters gathered, chanting, “How many mohajirs will you kill?”

The MQM draws its following from mohajirs, Muslims who migrated to Pakistan following the partition of British India in 1947 and who form the largest ethnic group in the city. It says it has 100,000 members, and it drew nearly 2.5 million votes in the 2013 election.

The MQM is widely accused of violence, extortion and running an armed militia, allegations the party denies, although it acknowledges that individual members may be involved in criminality.

At Khursheed Memorial Hall, an administrative building for the party, the apparent aftermath of the raid was still visible. Filing cabinets appeared to have been ransacked, computer screens were smashed, furniture was broken and pictures of the party’s leader, Altaf Hussain, had been pulled down.

Mr. Hussain lives in self-imposed exile in London. He was arrested last year by British police amid a probe into alleged money laundering, but he was later released and hasn’t been charged with any crime there.

The MQM is an avowedly secular political party that describes itself as a bastion of opposition to radical groups such as the Pakistani Taliban. “We have to defend ourselves—we have threats from the Taliban, from terrorists, that’s why these barriers are here,” said Faisal Subzwari, a provincial lawmaker for the MQM. “They took away all our weapons. We provided no resistance.”

Riaz Haq said...

Wall Street Journal on Saulat Mirza's video confession:
KARACHI, Pakistan — The hot topic on Pakistani social media today isn’t just cricket: It’s one of the country’s most famous death row inmates.
Saulat Ali Khan, known as Saulat Mirza, is a former activist for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the country’s fourth-largest political party. He was sentenced to death by a court in 1999 for assassinating a top government bureaucrat, his driver and bodyguard in 1997 in Karachi, but hours before the sentence was to be carried out, he won a Bollywood gangster-movie-style reprieve: Hours after prison officials confirmed he was to be hanged in a prison in remote Balochistan province, he was given a temporary stay of execution by the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain.
Late Wednesday, #saulatmirza was already trending on Twitter in Pakistan, despite the ongoing Cricket World Cup. The reason?
The release of a videotaped confession, in which Mr. Khan said that murders had been carried out on the order of MQM’s London-based founder, Altaf Hussain, and other senior party leaders.
In the aftermath of the release of this allegation, Mr. Hussain issued a strong denial, saying he had never met Mr. Mirza and that the convicted murderer had been removed from the party in 1994.
But the Mr. Khan’s revelations remained the focus of television talk shows until late Wednesday night.
Local police officials said Mr. Khan had also been charged in 20 separate murder cases, including the killing of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent in Karachi in 1995. They added that he is suspected to have been involved in at least 58 political murders, with the victims being principally police and security officials.
Officials, speaking privately, said Mr. Khan’s sentence in the murder of Shahid Hamid, then-managing director of Karachi’s then state-owned electricity company – now the privately held K Electric – had stood because Mr. Hamid’s widow, also a senior government official, and his son Omar Shahid, a police officer and author of the internationally acclaimed thriller ‘The Prisoner’ refused to succumb to pressure from MQM party for a lighter sentence.
Nevertheless, officials said, the death penalty was not carried out for 11 years, even after the Supreme Court had denied an appeal against Mr. Khan’s conviction in 2004. It was only the recent lifting of the moratorium on hangings by the government after the Peshawar massacre of school children by the Taliban in December, that Mr. Mirza’s name appeared on the top of the list of those to be executed.

Riaz Haq said...

#BBC reporter @OwenBennettJone on #GeoTV @shahzebkhanzda stands by his story of #MQM funding by #India's #RAW …

#BBC reporter @OwenBennettJone stands by his story of #MQM funding by #India's #RAW #AltafHussain …

Riaz Haq said...

How Pakistan’s Most Feared Power Broker Controlled a Violent Megacity From London

Though he was born in Karachi in 1953, Hussain has always identified as a Mohajir—a term that refers to those, like his parents, who left India after partition. In Agra, about 140 miles south of Delhi, Hussain’s father had a prestigious job as a railway-station manager. In Karachi he could only find work in a textile mill, and then died when Hussain was just 13, leaving his 11 children dependent on Hussain’s brother’s civil-service salary as well as what their mother earned sewing clothes. Such downward mobility was common among Mohajirs, who were the target of discrimination by native residents of Sindh, the Pakistani state of which Karachi is the capital. Hussain was enraged by his community’s plight. He and a group of other Mohajir students founded the MQM in 1984, and Hussain gained a reputation for intense devotion to the cause. After one protest, when he was 26, he was jailed for nine months and given five lashes.

Religiously moderate and focused on reversing discriminatory measures, the MQM built a large following in Karachi, winning seats in the national and provincial parliaments. It didn’t hurt, according to UK diplomatic cables and two former Pakistani officials, that it received support from the military, which saw the party as a useful bulwark against other political factions. Although Hussain never stood for elected office, he was the inescapable face of the MQM, his portrait plastered all over the many areas it dominated.

From the beginning, the MQM’s operations went well beyond political organizing. As communal violence between ethnic Mohajirs, Sindhis, and Pashtuns worsened in the mid-1980s, Hussain urged his followers at a rally to “buy weapons and Kalashnikovs” for self-defense. “When they come to kill you,” he asked, “how will you protect yourselves?” The party set up weapons caches around Karachi, stocked with assault rifles for its large militant wing. Meanwhile, Hussain was solidifying his grip on the organization, lashing out at anyone who challenged his leadership. In a February 1991 cable, a British diplomat named Patrick Wogan described how, according to a high-level MQM contact, Hussain had the names of dissidents passed to police commanders, with instructions to “deal severely with them.” (Hussain denies ever giving instructions to injure or kill anyone).

Even the privileged came under direct threat. One elite Pakistani, who asked not to be identified due to fear of retribution, recalled angering the party by having the thieving manager of his family textile factory arrested, unaware the employee was an MQM donor. One afternoon in 1991, four men with guns forced themselves into the wealthy man’s car, driving him to a farmhouse on the edge of the city. There, they slashed him with razor blades and plunged a power drill into his legs. The MQM denied being behind the kidnapping, but when the victim’s family asked political contacts to lean on the party he was released, arriving home in clothes soaked with blood.