Saturday, October 12, 2013

Malala Recognized; Taliban Respond to Talks Offer; Musharraf Re-arrested; US Govt Shutdown

There has been mixed response in Pakistan to Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai's Nobel Peace Prize nomination, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Chief Hakimullah Mehsud says he is ready for peace talks with Pakistani government, Former President Pervez Musharraf is granted bail and allowed to leave Pakistan by Supreme Court and then his re-arrest is swiftly ordered by another judge in Lal Masjid case, US government is shut down and there are now worries over potential for US debt default.

Malala's International Recognition: 

Malala Yousufzai has brought into sharp focus Pakistan's wide gender gap in education. With 27% difference between male and female literacy rates, Pakistan's gender bias in basic education is among the worst in the world. Malala's heroic effort raises hope that recognition of this serious problem will lead to greater focus and funding to address it. Some in Pakistan have criticized Malala Yousufzai by questioning her authenticity and her credentials to represent Pakistan. They argue that the West is using the teenager to advance its own agenda.

While recognizing that the West does suffer from the "White Man Savior Complex", I find such concerns overblown and fundamentally off the mark. I think Malala is a great ambassador for Pakistan doing a great service to Pakistan women who make up half the population of the country. I am absolutely certain that she has seen more of Pakistan and understands Pakistan's problems better at her tender age than most adult Pakistanis.

As to those who claim the Taliban care for girls' education, let me suggest that they look at Taliban's record in Afghanistan. The meager number of just 800,000 school children in Afghanistan included few girls in 2001 when the Taliban ruled the country. Today, there are 8 million children, 40% of them girls, attending schools in Afghanistan.   In Pakistan's Swat Valley, home of Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani Taliban blew up girls school and terrified them in 2009, and followed up with attempt to kill Malala (then 14 years old) on her way back from school in 2011.

Taliban Chief Mehsud's Response to Talks Offer:

In an interview with BBC, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Chief Hakimullah Mehsud has responded to "All Parties Conference" (APC) offer of talks to end violence. His response can be summed up as follows: "Seek an audience with me here at my home and I will talk with you". It reflects his confidence and clarity in the face of severe confusion and weakness communicated by Pakistani politicians.

Mehsud said he has two basic demands: 1. America must leave the region and 2. Pakistan must impose his version of the "Shariah" law. He vowed to continue his "Jihad" until both of his demands are met
Meanwhile, there is a report in New York Times that Hakimullah Mehsud's deputy Lateef Mehsud has been working for Afghan intelligence agency (KHAD) which has close ties with India's intelligence agency RAW.

It seems to me that "peace talks" with the TTP will fail just like similar efforts in the past did, most notably in 2009 in Swat. There are clear parallels here with the 26-year long LTTE insurgency in Sri Lanka which, after many broken peace deals, ended when Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa finally decided to declare all-out war against terrorists in 2006, ending in a crushing defeat of the LTTE in 2009 with Pakistan's help. I think Pakistani leadership will eventually do what the Sri Lankans did. I just hope they do it soon to save unnecessarily prolonged cost of  tens of thousands of innocent lives and unneeded damage to property and national economy.

Framing Musharraf:

A Judge of Islamabad High Court has forced police to register a case against Gen Pervez Musharraf in Lal Masjid case. Soon after bail was granted in other cases on trumped charges, the General's arrest was ordered even though no formal charges have yet been filed by a prosecutor.

Clearly Pakistan judges are continuing their vendetta against  the former president by framing him while releasing real terrorists. These right-wing judges are sending a clear message to the Army and the politicians: "Don't mess with our fellow Islamists. If you do, you'll be framed in multiple cases of murder and treason".

Meanwhile, these same judges are releasing terrorists in large numbers, including the recent release of the man who attacked the Sri Lanka cricket team which brought an end to international cricket in Pakistan. The conviction rate in terror cases is in single digits in Pakistan. No wonder Pakistan is considered a epi-center of terrorism.

US Government Shutdown, Worries Over Debt Default:

The US government has been shut down for several days. Only the "essential" services are operating. The shutdown has highlighted the need for government services. It has undermined the anti-government rhetoric (Government is the problem. not the solution) of Republican Conservatives and  Ayn Rand Libertarians.

Meanwhile, the debt ceiling is approaching and, in the absence of Congressional authorization to borrow more, there could be a catastrophic debt default which could send shock waves across the globe.  The US dollar is the world's main reserve and international trade currency. The US debt is held by most of the nations of the world  in their central bank reserves which underpin their currency value and economy, highlighting the fact that the US remains an exceptional country and indispensable nation in the current world order.  This places a specially heavy burden on US leadership to behave responsibly or risk raising serious questions about their claim to being "exceptional".

Here's a video discussing the above topics:

Nobel for Malala; Taliban Chief's Response to APC; Musharraf's Re-arrest; US Debt Default Worries from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Sri Lanka's Victory of LTTE

Malala Moment: Profiled in Courage...Not!!

Judges' Vendetta Against Musharraf

American Exceptionalism

UN Malala Day

Treason Trial of Musharraf

Does Sharif Have an Anti-Terror Policy?

Blowback of US Drones in Pakistan

Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Viewpoint From Overseas-Vimeo 

Viewpoint From Overseas-Youtube


usman safdar said...

TTP is non serious to have "peace talks with Pakistan". They aim is clear; To avoid any conflict with Pakistan Army till withdrawal of ISAF and keep tthe Pakistan Government confused to launch an military action. For Pakistann Government it is better to use this time frame to show the world "Evil acts" of TTP and build up national will to support future military action

Riaz Haq said...

#Malala Inspires #Pakistan School Rush - KP adds has added 200,000 children, including 75,000 girls. @BloombergNow

Riaz Haq said...

Malala inspires girls school enrollment surge in KP, reports Bloomberg:

MINGORA, Pakistan — The Pakistani Taliban's attempts to deter girls from seeking an education, epitomized by the shooting of 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the face last year, are backfiring as school enrollments surge in her home region.

While Yousafzai missed out last week on the Nobel Peace Prize, her plight is helping change attitudes in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which lies at the center of a Taliban insurgency. The four-month-old provincial government boosted education spending by about 30 percent and began an enrollment drive that has added 200,000 children, including 75,000 girls.

Yousafzai's story "is certainly helping us to promote education in the tribal belt," Muhammad Atif Khan, the province's education minister, said by phone. "Education is a matter of death and life. We can't solve terrorism issues without educating people."

Taliban militants targeted Yousafzai in retaliation over her campaign for girls to be given equal rights to schooling in a country where only 40 percent of adult women can read and write. Though the Nobel award went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Yousafzai was showered with accolades in a week in which she published her memoir: she won the European Union's top human rights prize and met President Barack Obama at the Oval Office.

The shooting occurred a year ago as Yousafzai traveled home on a school bus in Mingora, a trading hub of 1.8 million people where a majority of women still cover their faces and girls aren't comfortable answering questions from reporters. The bullet struck above her left eye, grazing her brain. She was flown for emergency surgery to Britain, where she lives today.

The increased media attention on Swat since the shooting is pressuring government officials to improve educational standards and encouraging locals to send their kids to school.

Three days ago in Mingora, as local channels flashed the news that Yousafzai didn't win the peace prize, high school student Shehzad Qamar credited her for prompting the government to build more institutions of higher learning.

"She has done what we couldn't have achieved in 100 years," Qamar said. "She gave this town an identity."..
"Taliban wanted to silence me," Yousafzai said in an interview with the BBC last week. "Malala was heard only in Pakistan, but now she is heard at the every corner of the world."

Sadiqa Ameen, a 15-year-old school girl in Swat, said she wanted to read Yousafzai's book, titled "I am Malala." The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, has threatened to kill Yousafzai and target shops selling her book, the Dawn newspaper reported, citing spokesman Shahidullah Shahid.

"This is probably the first ever book written by a Swati girl," said Ameen, who lives near Yousafzai's school. "I am sure her story will be something we all know and have gone through during the Taliban rule."

Musfira Khan Karim, 11, prayed for Yousafzai's success in the Nobel competition with her 400 schoolmates in Mingora.

"I want her back here among us," Karim said in her school's playground. "I want to know more about her. I want to meet her."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Pakistani-German correspondent's piece on Pakistan for Der Spiegel:

"The initial plan was for me to move to Delhi, India, where I would work as SPIEGEL's South Asia correspondent. I had reported from India before, but when I sought accreditation for the post, India refused without giving any explanation. For the first time, I personally felt what it means to have Pakistani roots. It becomes your defining aspect.

So Islamabad became the choice. And what a place: It was a city that had been planned and then not allowed to grow out of control -- lush and green, with beautiful hills and Bauhaus architecture. I soon realized I could mingle with people without them immediately recognizing that I was a foreigner. I could travel to places usually closed to Westerners. And once I polished the Urdu I learned in my childhood, I could also talk to people."
It's also often a one-sided argument. Yes, it is very unfortunate that quite a number of journalists are sure to include the words "Taliban" and "terror" in their pieces on Pakistan, even if the subject of their reporting is cricket, literature or butterflies in Gilgit-Baltistan. To write about Pakistan without the Taliban and terror seems to be unthinkable for many reporters -- and what they often end up delivering is a black-and-white image of a very colorful and complex country.
"As a Pakistani-German, I have roots in the country. I like Pakistan. I brought my German wife there, and my child spent the first years of his life in Islamabad. If I hadn't liked Pakistan, I wouldn't have stayed on for four years. Still, things are heading in the wrong direction in the country. Rather than pointing fingers at others and blaming them for the country's ailing image abroad, people should be focused on seeking real solutions. The first step is to be critical and to honestly identify the country's problems. The second is to address them.

It will only be after that happens that Pakistani-Germans might be proud enough to call their establishments Pakistani restaurants."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on terrorists released by Pakistani courts who went back to terror:

ISLAMABAD: From 2007 till now the courts have released 1,964 alleged terrorists, says an official government document.

More serious still is the fact that of those released, 722 have rejoined terrorist groups while 1,197 are still actively involved in anti-state activities, according to the official document available with Dawn.

In other words, the document reveals that nearly 60 per cent of those acquitted of terrorist activities are still involved in anti-state activities. Though the wording of the document is vague it appears to suggest that those being monitored are still involved in militant activities.

According to the information, after their acquittal 12 of the suspected terrorists have been killed - four of them in drone attacks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and eight during the operations conducted by security forces.

On the other hand, 33 of those acquitted have been re-apprehended and are currently confined to jails and internment centres under the ‘Action in Aid in Civil Power Regulations 2011.’

The provincial breakdown presents even more interesting details. The highest number of those released is from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata (1,308) followed by Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir with 517, Punjab (83), Sindh (47) and Balochistan (9).

This also shows that the state is keeping track of those who have been suspected of terrorist activities and released by the courts.

Defence analyst Air-Vice Marshall (retired) Shahzad Chaudhry said intelligence agencies do keep check on the suspects who managed release in high-profile cases of terrorism.

They monitor their activities to make sure that after acquittal the suspects would not be involved in terrorist activities again.

Sometimes when the released suspect gets involved in an anti-state activity the agencies try to apprehend and detain him in an internment centre, he said. Since there is no legal cover for the detention after acquittal, certain quarters sometimes termed the detained suspect a missing person.

Interestingly, all nine of those acquitted by the courts in Balochistan have re-joined terrorist groups though in absolute numbers the other provinces outstrip Balochistan – in KP-Fata 555 (of the 1,308 acquitted) while in Islamabad-GB-AJK 97 (of 517) have rejoined terrorist groups.

In Sindh 22 out of the 47 released have re-joined terrorist groups while in Punjab the number is 39 out of 83 acquitted.

This also means that in terms of percentage, Balochistan is followed by Sindh where nearly 45 per cent of those released have rejoined terrorist groups (the figure for Balochistan is 100 per cent).

However, if the category of activities being confirmed is considered, Islamabad-GB-AJK leads with over 70 per cent of those released now still being suspected of ‘activities’ followed by KP-Fata.

However, the numbers are higher for those who are described as having their “activities confirmed” – 736 for KP-Fata; 403 for Islamabad-GB-AJK; 34 for Punjab and 24 for Sindh.

These figures show that in all the four provinces and Islamabad the majority of those acquitted have either “re-joined terrorist groups” or their activities “are being confirmed”.

The highest number of those arrested (after having been acquitted by the courts) is a miserly 13 for Islamabad-GB-AJK followed by 10 by Punjab, nine by KPK-Fata and one by Sindh.

On the other hand, no one acquitted by the courts in Balochistan has been ever re-arrested....

Riaz Haq said...

America's $17 trillion national debt is all denominated in US currency and two-thirds of it is domestic.

Riaz Haq said...

A Pakistani family whose account of a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan was cited last week in Amnesty International's report on the covert program arrived in Washington on Tuesday, intent on putting a human face on the number of civilian casualties (AFP). According to Nabila Rehman, she was picking okra with her family in their garden last October when a drone strike killed her grandmother and injured seven other people; the U.S. government has never officially acknowledged the strike. The Rehmans, who will appear at a press conference with U.S. Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) on Tuesday, are also featured in a new documentary by the Brave New Foundation called "Unmanned: America's Drone Wars."

Riaz Haq said...

Unlike Imran Khan and other Khans in Pakistan, US truly follows Pashtunwali code: Settle scores by killing those who kill Americans. America has neither forgotten nor forgiven TTP for bombing and killing CIA officers FOB in Khost and then attempting Times Square bombing.

Riaz Haq said...

Even #Afghanistan has 3G. #Pakistan the only country in South Asia without 3G. Sad commentary on Pak "democracy"

Riaz Haq said...

From Economist on Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Aziz:

IN THE summer of 2007, things were not looking good for Maulana Abdul Aziz, an extremist cleric who had just failed in his attempt to impose strict sharia law on Pakistan’s capital by force.

His Red Mosque and madrassa complex, a stone’s throw from government buildings in Islamabad, was stormed by security forces on the orders of then-president, Pervez Musharraf. Dozens of people died during the siege. Mr Aziz was caught trying to escape dressed in a burqa.

In this section
Riding the wave
Returning with a vengeance
Back on track?
Time to deal
A ferry sinks
The game of the river
A tricky rebalancing act
Seven years later it is Mr Musharraf who is on trial for high treason while Mr Aziz is a free man, basking in media attention and busily rebuilding his religious powerbase. “We receive donations from people all over the world”, he says, gazing out at a group of workmen building another marble edifice that will house more seminary students and teachers. “They are inspired by the sacrifice of the martyrs who died protecting the mosque.”

He has his freedom thanks to the government’s tolerance of radical Islamists in national affairs. In February Mr Aziz was among five people nominated by the Pakistani Taliban to represent its interests in peace talks with the government. Although he soon dropped out of the process, the question of how much the country should adjust its constitution to suit its militant tormentors became a routine topic on talk shows.

Mr Aziz says he is not part of the “armed struggle”, but he argues that violence is justified in order to establish God’s laws. He is revered by terrorists for whom the Red Mosque affair was a defining moment. One militant group—Ghazi Force—is named after Mr Aziz’s brother, Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who was killed during the siege.

Some suspect the group may have been behind the suicide attack in Islamabad on March 3rd. Among the 11 dead was a liberal-minded judge who outraged extremists last year when he rejected a petition for Mr Musharraf to be tried for ordering the raid on the Red Mosque in 2007.

Zahid Hussain, a commentator, says the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has lost its appetite for controlling illegal madrassa construction in Islamabad. He says there are now thousands of madrassa students in the city. No wonder Mr Aziz feels the tide of history is flowing in his direction. In 2007, we were on the defensive, he says. “Now things have turned 180 degrees and it is the secular forces who are hiding.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP report on Lal Masjid's Maulana Aziz naming his madrassa library after Osama Bin Laden:

A religious school for women in the Pakistani capital Islamabad has renamed its library in honour of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The seminary is run by controversial hardline cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, the imam of the city's Red Mosque, once notorious as a hideout for hardliners with alleged militant links.

The mosque was the scene of a week-long military siege against radicals in 2007 which left more than 100 people dead and unleashed a wave of Islamist attacks across Pakistan.

Now the Jamia Hafsa seminary connected to it has named its small library, stocking Islamic texts, in honour of bin Laden, who masterminded the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

- See more at:

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's teenager Malala Yousufzai wins Nobel Peace Prize shared with Indian children rights activist Kailash Satyarthi:

Reaching across gulfs of age, gender, faith, nationality and even international celebrity, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2014 peace prize on Friday to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India. The award joined a teenage Pakistani known around the world with an Indian veteran of campaigns to end child labor and free children from trafficking.

Ms. Yousafzai, 17, is the youngest recipient of the prize since it was created in 1901. Mr. Satyarthi is 60. The $1.1 million prize is to be divided equally between them.

The award was announced in Oslo by Thorbjorn Jagland, the committee’s chairman, who said: “The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.”

“Children must go to school and not be financially exploited,” Mr. Jagland said. “It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected. In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation.”

Riaz Haq said...

Arundhati Roy’s charm and lucidity have iconized her in the world of left-wing politics. But, asked by Laura Flanders what she made of the 2014 Nobel Prize, she appeared to be swallowing a live frog: “Well, look, it is a difficult thing to talk about because Malala is a brave girl and I think she has even recently started speaking out against the US invasions and bombings…but she’s only a kid you know and she cannot be faulted for what she did….the great game is going on…they pick out people [for the Nobel Prize].” For one who has championed peoples causes everywhere so wonderfully well these shallow, patronizing remarks were disappointing.

Farzana Versey, Mumbai based left-wing author and activist, was still less generous. Describing Malala as “a cocooned marionette” hoisted upon the well-meaning but unwary, Versey lashes out at her for, among other things, raising the problem of child labor at her speech at the United Nations: “it did not strike her that she is now even more a victim of it, albeit in the sanitized environs of an acceptable intellectual striptease.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan defies West's stereotypes of #Muslims: More #girls in #Pakistan colleges than boys. #MalalaYousafzai

Malala is made to tell a particular story about people in the global South, generally, and Pakistan, specifically.

She is represented as the girl who defied the culture in Pakistan, and who now embodies a transnational, secular modernity exemplified by her emphasis on independence, choice, advocacy for freedom, and arguments for gender equality.

Instead of being a symbol of the courage of Muslims and Pakistanis to stand up against local forms of violence, Malala is presented as an exception.

This narrative of Malala sustains the fa├žade of Islam as an oppressive religion and Muslims as embroiled in pre-modern sensibilities.

Transnational girls’ education campaigns, such as the Nike Foundation’s “Girl Effect” and the White House’s “Let Girls Learn,” similarly paint a picture of black and brown populations as pre-modern, and still not educating girls. They call on the feminist sensibilities of benevolent citizens to save their Muslim sisters.

Such formulations, however, not only re-articulate the binary of victim/heroine, but also abstract education from a complex web of issues such as state corruption, the hollowed-out welfare system, and lack of access to jobs, among others.

In the case of Pakistan, for instance, research shows that girls are in school; in fact, there are more girls in higher education than boys!

Girls’ education – or, lack thereof – thus, has become a way in which Western institutions have established their own superiority and, simultaneously, the inferiority of Islam and Muslims, deeming interventions necessary and even ethically imperative.

In the context of these deep and emotional attachments to girls and education, girls who advocate for education (like Malala) and the school infrastructure itself have become prominent targets for extremists as a means to express their anti-West, anti-United States and anti-Pakistan sentiments.

It enables them to strike at the heart of what liberal global North deems as its most prized project.

Importantly, the extremists represent their attacks as a continuation of their fight against what they perceive to be colonial and foreign influence – mass schooling in Pakistan being a legacy of the British colonizers who displaced local, indigenous traditions and systems of learning.

This is a serious critique that we must take into account if we hope to curb this war on education.

It is time, therefore, that we scrutinize the loud debate over girls’ education and dislodge the monopoly of Western perspective on it, thereby making it a less potent site for extremists.

A critical way in which we can further both these ends is by recognizing the long traditions of learning that are indigenous to Muslims and Pakistan, attending to the areas and systems of support identified by girls themselves, as well as supporting organizations such as the Aga Khan Development Network, which ground their efforts in their Muslim ethics and seek to improve the quality of life of populations in Pakistan (and beyond).

Doing so will not only allow us to further our efforts for global education, but make space for alternative traditions and recognize humanity’s many histories.