Monday, June 22, 2015

Altaf-Zardari Predicament; Charleston Shooting; Pakistani Hindus

Why are PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari and top MQM leader Altaf Husain lashing out at the Pakistan Army? What is it that they fear?  Will they face prosecution for alleged crimes? How will their reactions shape Pakistan's and Sindh's politics? Where will it lead the country?

Why did a young white male shot to death 9 Black worshippers at AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina? Is this a act of terrorism? What role did race play in this tragedy? Did lack of any gun control contribute to the scale of this massacre? Has racist terror in America claimed many times more lives than "Islamic" terror since 911? Will FBI now focus on it more vigorously than"Islamic" terror in America? Will it give impetus to renewed gun control efforts?

How is Pakistani Hindu population doing? Is it really declining rapidly as frequent headlines proclaim? Or is it increasing faster than the general population in Pakistan? What does the recent Pew survey show?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these and other questions with Riaz Haq (

Viewpoint from Overseas June 20, 2015 from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Viewpoint from Overseas June 20, 2015 by ViewpointFromOverseas

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Anti-Corruption in Illinois and Pakistan

Zardari Corruption Conviction in Switzerland

We Hang Petty Thieves and Appoint Great Ones to High Offices

Gangster Politicians of Karachi

Gangs of Karachi 

FBI Entrapping Young Muslims

Gun Deaths in America

Pakistan's Hindu Population Growth

Viewpoint From Overseas Vimeo Channel 


Riaz Haq said...

Despite public anxiety about extremists inspired by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, the number of violent plots by such individuals has remained very low. Since 9/11, an average of nine American Muslims per year have been involved in an average of six terrorism-related plots against targets in the United States. Most were disrupted, but the 20 plots that were carried out accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.
In contrast, right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities, according to a study by Arie Perliger, a professor at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. The toll has increased since the study was released in 2012.

On June 16th, two days before the mass shooting at Emanuel AME church, the NY Times ran a story on how right-wing terrorism is currently a greater threat within the US than attacks by radicalized Islamists. The story was titled: The Growing Right-Wing Terror Threat and quoted many law enforcement officials who highlighted the threat. In the wake of the massacre in Charleston, the story takes on additional resonance. All emphasis is mine:
An officer from a large metropolitan area said that “militias, neo-Nazis and sovereign citizens” are the biggest threat we face in regard to extremism. One officer explained that he ranked the right-wing threat higher because “it is an emerging threat that we don’t have as good of a grip on, even with our intelligence unit, as we do with the Al Shabab/Al Qaeda issue, which we have been dealing with for some time.” An officer on the West Coast explained that the “sovereign citizen” anti-government threat has “really taken off,” whereas terrorism by American Muslim is something “we just haven’t experienced yet.”
There's an ever-growing list of right-wing terror incidents, but they are rarely covered by mainstream media with the panic and fear-mongering reserved for those with brown or black perpetrators:

Last year, for example, a man who identified with the sovereign citizen movement — which claims not to recognize the authority of federal or local government — attacked a courthouse in Forsyth County, Ga., firing an assault rifle at police officers and trying to cover his approach with tear gas and smoke grenades. The suspect was killed by the police, who returned fire. In Nevada, anti-government militants reportedly walked up to and shot two police officers at a restaurant, then placed a “Don’t tread on me” flag on their bodies. An anti-government extremist in Pennsylvania was arrested on suspicion of shooting two state troopers, killing one of them, before leading authorities on a 48-day manhunt. A right-wing militant in Texas declared a “revolution” and was arrested on suspicion of attempting to rob an armored car in order to buy weapons and explosives and attack law enforcement. These individuals on the fringes of right-wing politics increasingly worry law enforcement officials.
In contrast to the mainstream media (too busy covering shark attacks), law enforcement in many jurisdictions do appear to recognize the risk and take it seriously:
In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations. And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Haq ,

This is a heart rending story about Pakistani Hindus

Tambi Dude said...

Number of Pakistanis (civilians) killed by terrorism (supposedly by RAW) in all of 2015: ~530
Number of Pakistanis killed in heat wave in last few days: ~800

So applying RiazHaq logic, Pak should focus more on weather than terrorism.

Riaz Haq said...

TD: "Pak should focus more on weather than terrorism"

Terror death toll has declined in Pakistan from 3001 in 2013 to 532 so far this year. It's because of Pakistan Army action starting in 2014.

Climate change is a much bigger longer term threat to both India and Pakistan, and the rest of the world, than terrorism.

India is even more vulnerable to climate change than Pakistan, according to S&P research report.

It deserves a lot of attention and focus. But that doesn't mean terrorism is not a more potent immediate threat.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #Pakistan's #MQM funded by #India #RAW. MQM officials tell British Police …

Officials in Pakistan's MQM party have told the UK authorities they received Indian government funds, the BBC learnt from an authoritative Pakistani source.

UK authorities investigating the MQM for alleged money laundering also found a list of weapons in an MQM property.
A Pakistani official has told the BBC that India has trained hundreds of MQM militants over the last 10 years.
The Indian authorities described the claims as "completely baseless". The MQM said it was not going to comment.
With 24 members in the National Assembly, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) has long been a dominant force in the politics of Pakistan's largest city, Karachi.

British authorities held formal recorded interviews with senior MQM officials who told them the party was receiving Indian funding, the BBC was told.

Meanwhile a Pakistani official has told the BBC that India has trained hundreds of MQM militants in explosives, weapons and sabotage over the last 10 years in camps in north and north-east India.

Before 2005-2006 the training was given to a small number of mid-ranking members of the MQM, the official said.
More recently greater numbers of more junior party members have been trained.

In the course of the inquiries the UK authorities found a list itemising weapons, including mortars, grenades and bomb-making equipment in an MQM property, according to Pakistani media reports that the BBC believes to be credible. The list included prices for the weapons. Asked about the list, the MQM made no response.

As the UK police investigations have progressed, the British judiciary has been taking an increasingly tough line on the MQM. Back in 2011 a British judge adjudicating an asylum appeal case found that "the MQM has killed over 200 police officers who have stood up against them in Karachi".

Last year another British judge hearing another such case found: "There is overwhelming objective evidence that the MQM for decades had been using violence."

The MQM is also under pressure in Pakistan. In March the country's security forces raided the party's Karachi headquarters. They claimed to have found a significant number of weapons there. The MQM said they were planted.

Riaz Haq said...

The majority of those who have lost their lives due to heatstroke in Pakistan have been elderly or low-income residents of Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous city. The impact of the heat wave may be compounded by the fact that many in the Muslim-majority country are abstaining from food and water for Ramadan.


More than 800 have died from heat stroke and thousands more have been hospitalized as a heat wave scorches much of Pakistan with temperatures as high as 113 degrees. While officials have rolled out emergency response efforts, poor infrastructure and the unpredictable patterns of extreme weather have made the crisis particularly devastating.
Increasing heat waves, which are driven by climate change, are likely to cause more and more temperature related deaths around the world — and poor energy and health infrastructure will only deepen the threats faced by developing countries.
India is fraught with such infrastructure issues as well, and it too saw similar patterns of extreme weather — and extreme loss of life — in recent months.
Nearly 1,700 died in a heat wave that swept the India in May. As ThinkProgress previously reported, climate change is responsible for the majority of heatwaves around the world, and has already contributed to an increase in heat waves in India between 1961 and 2010.
The majority of those who have lost their lives due to heatstroke in Pakistan have been elderly or low-income residents of Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous city. The impact of the heat wave may be compounded by the fact that many in the Muslim-majority country are abstaining from food and water for Ramadan.
In recent years, Pakistan’s longstanding energy crisis has meant that people across the country face rolling power outages that can last 10 hours in urban areas, and up to 20 in rural ones.
The power outages mean that people are unable to run air-conditioners or even electric fans — and that they have little access to water, which is largely moved through pipes by electric pumps. In Karachi, electricity shortages kept the water supply system from pumping millions of gallons of water, according to the state-run water utility service.
“[T]he blame is squarely on the shoulders of the government for its lackluster performance in providing water and electricity,” according to an editorial in the Pakistani daily, The Nation.
Another editorial read, “A lot of people are going to die as a direct result [of extreme weather] — and our levels of preparedness are exposed as woefully inadequate.”
The city is even running out of room to hold the bodies of those who have died.
“The mortuaries have reached capacity,” a spokesman for the Edhi Foundation, one of the country’s largest welfare organizations said.

He noted that the two morgues run by the Edhi Foundation had received more than 400 corpses in the last three days.
Kishwar Aftab’s sister-in-law was one of them.
“People don’t have electricity in their homes,” the Karachi resident who went to the morgue to prepare his sister-in-law’s body for burial said. “We didn’t have power for many hours in Moosa Colony. My sister-in-law had a high fever and she died.”
Aftab blamed the local electricity company, in which the government has a stake, for her death.
In a recent Pew survey, 90 percent of Pakistanis cited electricity shortages as a “very big problem” for their country. The issue ranked as a higher concern than unemployment, crime, inequality, health care, corruption, or sectarian violence.
While the government has launched efforts to manage the crisis, many see the government’s efforts to address the heat wave as too little too late. Protesters in Karachi and across Sindh have blocked streets and burned tires to protest the government’s inability to prevent the catastrophic loss of life.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s army has taken the almost unheard of step of publicly shaming two retired generals for misusing funds, in a move many army-watchers applauded as a significant attempt by the country’s top general to clean up corruption in the all-powerful institution.

The two officers were punished for making disastrous investments totalling £25m through the National Logistics Cell (NLC), an army-run transport company which is part of a vast military commercial empire including property developments, cement plants and manufacturing interests.

In a statement late on Wednesday night the army said the former director general of the NLC, a retired major general called Khalid Zahir Akhter, had been dismissed from service and stripped of his rank, medals and pension.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Afzal Muzaffar, a retired lieutenant general, was given a lighter disciplinary measure of “severe displeasure”.

Both had been recalled back into service so they could be tried under military law.

“It is a major development because the military is perceived a sacred cow not subject to any accountability,” said Talat Masood, a retired lieutenant general. “It shows the changes that are taking place under General Sharif.”

Raheel Sharif was appointed as chief of army staff in 2013, a role considered to be at the tip of power in a country where the military controls a swath of the economy and calls the shots on many areas of policy nominally managed by civilian politicians.

Under Sharif’s predecessor, Ashfaq Kayani, an army investigation into the NLC case had been allowed to gather dust years after it was first exposed in 2009 by a parliamentary accounts committee.

A former official at the National Accountability Bureau, an anti-corruption watchdog, said Kayani had “intervened on several occasions” in the case.

By contrast Sharif had “instructed to dispose of the case on fast track for want of justice and transparency”, according to an army statement.

The reinvestigation ordered by Sharif found the two officers and one civilian “were indeed responsible for making incorrect decisions of investments in violation of NLC rules and regulations thereby causing losses to the organisation”.

According to an earlier inquiry the NLC piled up huge loses after using money borrowed from banks to invest in risky stocks between 2004-8.

Syed Adil Gilani, head of Transparency International Pakistan, an anti-corruption group, said the army normally keeps internal probes into senior officers secret to preserve morale at a time troops are engaged in bloody counterinsurgency operations against militant groups.

He said the army believes terrorism cannot be thwarted without steps being taken against the country’s vast criminal economy, which includes rampant “land grabbing” by property speculators.

“This is a signal to the civilians that they also need to tackle corruption or otherwise terrorism cannot be eliminated,” he said.

Sharif has also been credited with allowing investigations to proceed against an alleged £3m fraud committed by Elysium Holdings, a company owned by one of General Kayani’s brothers, which is accused of illegally selling certificates for allotments to build houses on land near Islamabad that it did not in fact own.

“No one would touch Kayani’s brothers unless the army chief OKs it,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Lahore based political analyst. “[Sharif] wants to deal with issues that have become so public that they are damaging the image of the army.”

In line with many other analysts, Rizvi credits Shaif with making significant changes during his tenure, particularly his decision in June 2014 to finally send troops into the Taliban sanctuary of North Waziristan, despite opposition from civilian politicians.