|Terror Death in FATA. Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal|
|Terror Deaths Across Pakistan. Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal|
Why was Masood Azhar declared a "terrorist" by the UNSC sanctions committee? Is this a win for India's Modi? Did China abandon Pakistan by letting it happen as UNSC Permanent Member? Or did China coordinate its action with Pakistan to have references to Kashmir and Pulwama removed from the declaration?
Azad Labon Kay Sath (ALKS) host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Sabahat Ashraf (ifaqeer) and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)
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Future of Pak-US relations
Munir Akram May 12, 2019
"Pakistan is not fully equipped to fight the ‘hybrid’ war being waged by India and others in Balochistan, ex-Fata, sections of the media and politics to destabilise the country domestically. Using all the tools of modern technology, Pakistan must develop a sophisticated intelligence, counter-insurgency and political action capability for defence. ‘Defensive’ measures do not imply systemic hostility with the US. There are vast areas for mutually beneficial cooperation which can be promoted as long as the US does not threaten Pakistan’s core interests and positions, especially its rejection of Indian domination and support for Kashmiri self-determination....Hope resides in the possibility that the US will perceive the economic momentum in Asia, unleashed by the Belt and Road Initiative and Asian economic integration, as a strategic opportunity rather than a challenge. US participation could transform the Belt and Road endeavour into a globally beneficial enterprise. Indeed, faced by global threats of climate change, poverty and nuclear annihilation, and offered the alternative of a cooperative, knowledge-driven future of growth and prosperity, the US, China, Russia and other powers, including India, ultimately would be wise to opt for ‘win-win’ cooperation rather than ‘lose-lose’ confrontation."
Shocking disclosures about #PTM demands as seen by #Pakistani #Pashtun General Saad Khattak (R): #PTM leaders sponsored by #India #Afghan intelligence to attack #PakistanArmy https://youtu.be/QNBosoqim4Q via @YouTube
Pakistan’s Ali Wazir: The lone Marxist to win despite Taliban killing 16 of his family
FAROOQ TARIQ Updated: 28 July, 2018 5:55 pm IST
A rare Communist to survive and win, Wazir refused a seat from Imran Khan, who later didn’t put up a candidate against him.
Ali Wazir, a central committee member of The Struggle, has won a seat in the national parliament of Pakistan from NA-50 (Tribal Area–XI) with 23,530 votes and his closest rival from a religious parties alliance, MMA got 7,515. Thus winning the seat with a majority of 16,015.
Ali Wazir is one of the main leaders of the Pashtun Tahafaz Movement (PTM). This year, mass meetings were organised in major cities of Pakistan to raise voices for fair compensation to the victims of the “war on terror” and to demand the release of all ‘missing’ persons or to bring them to the courts if they are guilty.
Two other leaders of the PTM also contested for the national parliament and one of them, Muhsin Dawer also won the seat after a close competition. Mohsin Javed Dawer got 16,526 votes while Aurangzeb of Imran Khan’s PTI got 10,422. However, the MMA candidate Mufti Misbahudin got a close 15,363 votes.
These two PTM leaders contested from Waziristan, an area dominated by religious fanatics. However, a strong movement for civil rights of Pashtuns had cut across the influence of the fanatics and Pashtuns voted despite all the threats to them.
Two main leaders of the PTM present in parliament has given hope to many in Pakistan that at least there would be peoples voices in a parliament dominated by feudal lords, corrupt capitalists and stooges of the military and judicial establishment.
Who is Ali Wazir?
Ali Wazir is a very special person. His personal ordeal best illustrates what prompted his demands. Ali Wazir was pursuing a degree in law at the turn of the century when his hometown, Wana, the headquarters of the south Waziristan agency, became the epicenter of global terrorism after a host of Taliban-allied groups sought shelter in the communities.
No doubt the terrorists had some individual local facilitators, but ultimately it was the state that failed to prevent them from using the territory. When his father, the chief of the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe, and other local leaders complained of their presence, government officials ignored and silenced them. Instead, Islamabad spent years denying the presence of any Afghan, Arab, or Central Asian militants.
By 2003, the militants had established a foothold in south and north Waziristan tribal agencies and were attempting to build a local emirate. Ali Wazir’s elder brother Farooq Wazir, a local political activist and youth leader, became the first victim of a long campaign in which thousands of Pashtun tribal leaders, activists, politicians, and clerics were killed with near absolute impunity. Their only crime was to question or oppose the presence of dangerous terrorists in their homeland.
In 2005, Ali Wazir was in prison when his father, brothers, cousins, and an uncle were killed in a single ambush. He was behind the bars because of the draconian colonial-era Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) law, that holds an entire tribe or region responsible for the crimes of an individual for any alleged crime committed in the territory.
Ali Wazir had committed no crime, never got a fair trial, and was not sentenced, yet he was prevented even from participating in the funerals for his family. In the subsequent years, six more members of his extended family were assassinated. The authorities have not even investigated these crimes let alone held anyone responsible.
Ties between Al Zulfikar and Afghan President Babrak Karmal (KHAD/NDS) sour with Alamgir execution
Alamgir execution touches off a new wave of mutual recrimination between Damascus-based organisation and pro-Soviet regime of President Babrak Karmal.
In 1979, months after the hanging of Bhutto, Al Zulfikar was organised on the soil of Afghanistan with active patronage from the Afghan authorities, and both Murtaza and Shahnawaz were sheltered in Kabul.
Alamgir, accompanied by Naser Jamal and Arshad Butt, all Karachi boys belonging to Al Zulfikar, hijacked the PIA Boeing on March 2, 1981 from Karachi to Kabul in what has gone down as the longest air piracy in history - nine days - following which the Pakistani authorities had to accede to the hijackers' demand of releasing 52 political prisoners, many of whom were awaiting capital punishment.
Significantly, the hijacking was not condemned by the Afghan authorities at that time even though the prisoners were released by the Pakistani authorities at their own insistence at Damascus and not in Kabul. However, relations between Al Zulfikar and the Kabul Government were getting increasingly sour since 1981 when the Afghans, nettled by Al Zulfiqar's internal squabbles on Afghan soil, began interfering with them in a big way.
Finally, Murtaza and Shahnawaz left their haven in Afghanistan and headed for Libya. The two now operate from Tripoli, the Libyan capital, and Damascus, the capital of Syria, and command a well-trained militia of about 1,500 men. Even Alamgir did not enter Afghanistan for a long time since the hijacking.
He re-entered Afghanistan, according to the Radio Kabul announcement, on March 14 last year, apparently under orders from the Al Zulfikar leadership to liquidate Sinwari, a former Al Zulfikar activist who had adopted Afghan nationality and was suspected of being an Afghan plant in the organisation.
Diplomatic sources in New Delhi said Alamgir was sent from Libya and he might have travelled with false documents. He shot Sinwari dead on March 16 in front of a theatre in Kabul and was arrested by the security police in dramatic circumstances at Kabul Airport the same night, minutes before he was to fly out.
Informed diplomats in Kabul and New Delhi interpret the Afghan action as a determined move by the Afghan Government to strike an anti-terrorist posture and to restore normalcy in its relations with the outside world. The fallout of the 1981 hijack had been costly for the Afghans.
Group of Seven, the powerful member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organisation including the US, Canada, West Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Japan, decided to boycott Afghanistan, thus denying Ariana, the Afghan national carrier landing rights all along the lucrative route of Frankfurt, Paris and London.
The state-controlled Pakistani media prominently displayed the news of Alamgir's execution, thus hinting that Pakistan appreciated the posture of toughness adopted by the Afghans against the assorted followers of the Bhutto family. The Kabul Government also wants direct talks to immediately commence with Pakistan, a desire which can come true only if the latter recognises the Karmal regime.
In dealing strictly with Al Zulfikar, President Karmal has neutralised a major irritant in the way. But, along the Baluchistan front, there are still 5,000 Baluch guerillas garrisoned at the Afghan town of Kandahar, which Pakistan sees as the main stumbling block to normalisation of relations.
Redefining citizenship in Pakistan
The PTM movement envisions an alternate relationship between citizen and state.
Perhaps, the only slogan borrowed from older iterations of Pashtun nationalism is that of ‘Lar-o-bar Yaw Afghan’ (All Afghans are one). This slogan particularly evokes insecurity within the Pakistani state because it implies the fracture of the country. It can also evoke either making a separate Pashtunistan (a homeland for the Pashtuns) or joining with Afghanistan. The propaganda and suppression tactics surrounding this slogan, it can be argued, form the basis of Afghan support for the PTM. But this slogan expresses the cultural, historical and linguistic identity of Pashtuns as transcending the borders of Pakistan and also as participants in the project of the Pakistani nation as a people having their own identity and culture.
This charge of separatism also comes with the charge of an exclusively ethnic movement. This charge erases the conceptualisation of the particular versus the universal. It raises questions around collective self-expression and how it can be done in a participatory, ethical way.
A national consciousness is very different from the kind of nationalism which creates an essential category of a ‘nation’. That national consciousness takes stock of race- or ethnicity-based oppression. Rather than essentialising the ‘nation’, this consciousness seeks recognition in a framework of the universal. The crucial concept is that a particular race or ethnicity shouldn’t become universal and collaboration should be sought with other groups working towards a universal movement recognising the specificity of nationhood. The universal in turn shouldn’t essentialise and erase particular communities (both go hand in hand).
In this light, the PTM can be seen as reclaiming the right of being different and simultaneously of belonging to a country through the instrument of the constitution. In the PTM’s imagination, the constitution has a life of its own, and can be called upon again and again in order to legitimise the movement. Though the constitution is not a perfect document and is open to change to reflect changing socio-political circumstances, it is a guarantee protecting against the violation of human rights and of the state’s praetorian hold. The abstractness of the articles of the constitution finds materiality in the political programme where those who see the constitution as subservient to the ‘interests of the nation’ are made subservient to the dictates of the constitution. The PTM finds solidarity from people who are not Pashtuns and are not affected by war, because the constitution has the seeds of an alternate tomorrow which can challenge the economy and war-fuelled state through the constant violation of rights of the periphery as well as of people cast as the undesirable ‘other’.
Pashtuns have a complex relationship with the Pakistani state. It is validly argued that they hold disproportionate representation in some institutions, such as in the army, with between 15 and 22 percent of officers and between 20 and 25 percent among the rank and file said to be Pashtuns.
This is partly due to Pashtuns being the largest ethnic minority of the country, the portrayal of Pashtuns as a martial race by the British Raj (continued by the postcolonial state), and a long political struggle leading to upward social mobility for Pashtuns in some areas. Despite being the largest ethnic minority, they are treated, consciously or unconsciously, as the ethnic other to the de-ethnicised Pakistan: their lands are treated as arenas of war and their people are deployed to fight proxy wars of the state. The PTM aims to disrupt this dual treatment born out of the war economy. Their program is not only non-violent, it is also anti-violence and anti-war.
It is generally believed that most people in Pakistan's northwestern areas support the Taliban because of their own inclination toward Islamism, but the reality is somewhat different. It is true that the Islamist group is liked by many in the region, but the number of people who oppose the Taliban and the Pakistani state's alleged support to the outfit has also increased manifold in the past two decades.
Most of these ethnic Pashtuns are wary of a never-ending war in their region and blame both the Taliban and Islamabad for the devastation in their areas.
As the Taliban are gaining strength in Afghanistan, liberal Pashtuns fear it is just a matter of time before Islamists make a comeback in Pakistan's northwestern areas, too.
There are already reports of Pakistani citizens holding Taliban flags and chanting Islamist slogans at rallies in areas close to the Afghan border. Islamic clerics in various parts of the country are also soliciting support for the Afghan Taliban and calling for donations.
This comes amid rapid Taliban advances in Afghanistan ahead of the complete withdrawal of NATO troops by September.
Opposition to the Taliban
Progressive Pashtuns recently held a convention in Charsadda, a town in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, to discuss the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.
They denounced the Taliban's assaults on Afghan forces.
They also condemned the United States' Doha deal with the Taliban , saying it practically legitimized the militant group.
The convention, which was composed of leading Pashtun nationalist parties, intellectuals, academics and left-leaning political workers, called for an immediate cease-fire across Afghanistan to pave the way for peace talks.
The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), an anti-war group, has also held massive rallies in several parts of the province in the past few weeks. The PTM has condemned the Taliban and expressed its support for the Afghan government.
Support for Ashraf Ghani
Said Alam Mehsud, a PTM leader, believes that the Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan would suffer immensely if the Taliban managed to take over Kabul. "We support President Ashraf Ghani's government because it is legitimate. The Taliban are Pakistani mercenaries who want to topple an internationally recognized government," he told DW.
"The Taliban destroy schools, stop women from working, hand down inhuman punishments and kill innocent civilians. How can we support them?" he said.
On the contrary, Ghani's government, according to Mehsud, carried out several development projects in Afghanistan. The human rights situation has also improved under his administration, he added.
Bushra Gohar, a Pashtun politician and former lawmaker, agrees with Mehsud. "The PTM and other Pashtun groups are supporting Ghani because our people don't want to see the return of the Taliban's barbaric rule," she told DW.
She said that, despite Taliban advances, Afghans are revolting against Islamists. "We see an uprising against the Taliban in Afghanistan. People are taking to the streets to show support to their government and the security forces."
Samina Afridi, a Peshawar-based political analyst, says Pashtuns on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border want education, human rights and democracy, but the Taliban are against that.
The 'Taliban project'
Pakistani authorities have long accused liberal Pashtun groups, including the PTM, of destabilizing the country at Afghanistan's behest.
The PTM has gained considerable strength in the past four years, drawing tens of thousands of people to its protest rallies. Its supporters are critical of the war on terror, which they say has ravaged Pashtun areas in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
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