The complicity of security agencies in terrorism in Pakistan

This subject is very close to my heart. After Osama Bin Laden’s hideout was successfully raided in Abbotabad, questions were raised whether Pakistan (meaning Pakistan Army and its agencies) is “complicit or incompetent” that it was not able to find Osama Bin Laden who was hiding right under their nose.

Deutsch: Soldat der Special Forces beim Abseil...

The media was swayed towards incompetence, however, I personally believe Pakistan Army has been complicit, if not at top brass level than at least under the various wings and departments it espouses of its intelligence agencies. This will continue to hold as long as Pakistan (read Pakistan Army) maintains the fiction of Good Taliban, Bad Taliban.

Below are few excerpts from news articles. I don’t know about others but they confirm to me that security apparatus of Pakistan is hand in gloves with these terrorists.

Usman Kurd, the man who caused fall of Raisani govt

The sectarian attacks in Quetta had virtually been stopped following the arrest of Kurd and Badini. But quite unfortunately, both the LeJ men managed to escape under mysterious circumstances on January 18, 2008 after breaking the jail located in the high-security zone of Quetta Cantonment where no one can go without a pass.

The sectarian attacks in Quetta had virtually been stopped following the arrest of Kurd and Badini

This is not some small civilian jail. This is a high security prison in the garrison town of Quetta located in its high security military cantonment area. I believe no one was tried or court martialed for this escape.

From the same news item

Kurd and Badini were not the only LeJ leaders to have escaped from custody. Two other undertrial LeJ hit men, including a key suspect in a 2005 high-profile murder of Agha Ziauddin Rizvi, hoodwinked jail officials and made good their escape on December 13, 2012, even though they were kept in separate barracks of Cheeta sub-jail in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Intriguingly, Shakirullah Jan and Arifuddin had escaped after intoxicating the security personnel on duty despite the fact that 50 staffers of the Frontier Corps (FC) and police were guarding the prison.

Hazara continue to die in Quetta. Those who can manage it, try to run out of Pakistan as refugees or asylum seekers which itself is a precarious route. According to one such Hazara trying to make his way to Australia “I’d rather die in the boat than in a bomb blast,”

Yet the state continues to leave Hazara to fend for themselves.

Quetta has witnessed a recent surge in incidents of violence, with sectarian militants repeatedly targeting the Hazara Shia community in several bombings and gun-attacks.

On Monday, two youths belonging to the minority community were gunned down in an apparent targeted killing on Shahrah-i-Iqbal.

On July 15, four men belonging to the community were killed when gunmen sprayed bullets on their vehicle on Masjid road area.

On June 30, a deadly suicide bombing at an Imambargah killed 30 members of the minority community. The banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi had claimed responsibility for the blast, one of a series of bombings this year by the extremist sectarian outfit targeting the Hazaras.

The city also saw the country’s two bloodiest attacks so far this year.

A giant bomb planted in a water tanker being towed by a tractor killed 90 Shia Hazaras in February, while another suicide bombing at a snooker club in January killed 92 others.

The above stats are excerpted from the following news item:

Hazara Town residents shoot down suspected suicide bomber

QUETTA: An alleged suicide bomber was killed by residents of Hazara Town in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan on Saturday.

Capital City Police Officer Quetta, Mir Zubair Mehmood told Dawn.com that a suspected suicide bomber traveling on foot was killed by residents of Hazara Town shortly before Iftar.

He said residents tried to stop the suspected bomber from approaching a mosque they were guarding but he refused to do so. “Residents then fired and killed him on the spot,” he said.

Mehmood said a suicide jacket and a hand grenade were recovered from his possession. “A major terrorist attack was averted,” he claimed.

Another police official, DIG Operations Fayyaz Sumbal, said the bomber, who had strapped explosives around his body, could not explode himself because of timely action by the volunteers.

A large number police and paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) personnel reached the spot and started investigation into the incident.

Despite the fact that Hazara have been killed in large numbers this year, no intel is being gathered on attacks on them neither any security has been provided to them. As you can read, there was no military or police check post. It was volunteers themselves manning these places.

Makes you wonder what the large number of police and FC that reached the spot after the incident normally do if not provide security to residents.

Recently, there was attack on ISI headquarter in Sukkur. Regardless of the question that what is ISI office doing in Sukkur when its mandate is to guard against external threats, below is an analysis of how their internal conflicting objectives are leading to this situation:

Caught in no-man’s land

Many defenders of the ISI have attacked its critics and say that the agency is solely responsible for protecting the country from those that seek to harm it be they ‘foreign powers’ or Al Qaeda or most notably the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

They credit the agency with almost all terrorist ‘kills or captures’ and point out the example of one Karachi police unit that has had major ‘successes’ against the TTP but in effect only owns up to ISI arrests of militants and does the legal/court work so the agency remains behind the scenes.

The idea here isn’t to comment on, condemn or condone the agency’s political role but to assess if the country’s premier security agency, which has also lost physical assets and personnel, in the war against terrorism is now geared up for the challenge.

When you ask knowledgeable professionals their response is mixed. This simply reflects the confusion at the policymaking level. Sources familiar with the workings of the agency suggest that its counterterrorism wing is clued in and knowledgeable.

However, the pulls and pushes of the agency department entrusted with ‘running’ the Afghan operation often tend to work at cross-purposes with the wing. The sad bit is that the elected political leadership has so far either been incapable of taking charge or hasn’t been allowed to.

And the military leadership finds itself in a sort of ‘no-man’s land’ between the defence doctrines of Ziaul Haq’s (suicidal) international jihad and Musharraf’s (hypocritical and equally ineffective) enlightened moderation calling for duplicitous support to the West.

“Till these contradictions are resolved. Rest assured all of us are condemned to live with uncertainty, murder and mayhem casting an ominous shadow over our future,” says one former military officer.

Now we come to Karachi which has largest intelligence apparatus both in numbers of agencies as well as numbers of officers assigned. Yet killings and lawlessness in Karachi continues unabated.

June was Karachi’s deadliest month with 313 killings: HRCP

There was no respite from killings in the city during the first six months of the year 2013, as 1,728 casualties were reported in different incidents, according to a Human Rights Commission of Pakistan report released on Monday.

Based on data from the past six months, the HRCP report declares June as the deadliest month of the year so far with 313 people killed. The highest number of political killings, which is 50, also took place in this month.

There has been an alarming increase in the crime rate as compared to the six-monthly figures of 2012, when over 1,200 people died. In 2011, the count was even lesser with 1,110 such tragedies.

Makes you wonder what is the whole security apparatus in Karachi doing. Below is based on a chat with my friend. You may or may not like to believe it but I know him to be pretty reliable and honest.

Just had the privilege of meeting ISI, MI, Chaudary Aslam, Brigade 303 and 306 officials in the recent past and was shocked at how easily these guys state kay itnay maray gay (how many people were killed), itnay maar diya jaaye gay (this many will be killed). No value of human lives in their views at the moment. These and other agencies using People’s Amn Committee (PAC), Awami National Party (ANP) and MQM goons (through black mailing). You have no idea kay yeh salay kitno ko paal rahay hay (that bastards have how many goons on their command) just to get the goals achieved of the higher ups and foreign elements as well.

Its mostly about real estate but there are other objectives as well. They use scare tactics, which includes murders, which was the only way to get people leave the old city area. it is working for them at our expense. Ashura planted blast plus burning down the buildings (here and here) in aftermath wasn’t enough to drive the traders away. They rebuilt the buildings.

Shershah traders were not emptying their places and not moving to Northern Bypass (Traders demand justice for Shershah victims) so were people from Juna Market, Kaghazi bazaar and Ranchore line. Already Textile Plaza, Kharadar market traders have left and settled in DHA Phase 2 commercial area, and Sharae Faisal. Properties prices in these areas have crashed and now being bought at throwaway prices by PAC who will eventually sell to builders or government of bypasses or road. If only the traders had agreed to move to Northern Bypass during Mustafa Kamal’s time (which is easier said than done), we wouldnt have seen whats going on nowadays. Lyari Expressway remains incomplete in MQM areas of Lyari ie where Kutchi Memons live and are being killed nowadays.

A friend of mine, his younger brother in a dare from his friends, was involved in some crime. He was picked from home at 3 am by Chaudry Aslam’s guys, beaten all night hung upside down. His brother and I didn’t know he was involved. We got him released using our influence through CID but when we went to release him, he had confessed in front of Chaudry Aslam of all his crimes. One of Chaudry Aslam’s man said that he will now be always used by agencies and he would comply to avoid arrest and being beaten up by the cops so the best is to move him away from Karachi. My friend could afford so he did but many can’t and are being used by the agencies when needed to create chaos etc its business in Pakistan.

Obviously the security officials were drunk and might have exaggerated but I believe there is an element of truth in it. A rich resource on dynamics of Karachi’s Urban violence can be found at the bottom of page here.

When US raided Abbotabad, one can say that they used stealth helicopters and we didn’t have our radars pointed towards western front as we never expected an attack from that side

Pakistan’s Air Force Learned About the Bin Laden Raid on TV

The Pakistani air force learned about the U.S. raid to kill Osama bin Laden from a television news report about a helicopter crash in Abbottabad. Belatedly, they scrambled fighter jets. But by then, the Americans were long gone.
In other words: Pakistan had virtually no chance of detecting U.S. choppers as they flew into the Pakistani equivalent of West Point. And if they raid was done all over again, they still wouldn’t catch the aircraft. That’s according to a leaked report from Pakistan’s independent Abbottabad Commission that was charged by the Pakistani government to investigate the raid. The commission says the Pakistani military never saw the raid coming because of the American choppers’ stealthy, noise-reducing equipment, the skill of their crews at flying below radar, and the fact that Pakistan’s air defenses are focused on its border with India, not Afghanistan

Anyway, military kept releasing such information to press that our airspace was being monitored implying if we had sent fighter jets, they would have been brought down by US’s much advanced air force.

US AWACS planes monitored PAF jets

Throughout the operation, US AWACS aircrafts remained airborne over Afghan airspace to ward-off of any reaction and monitor Pakistan Air Force jets.

Fine. Lets buy it. It was a failure of our military intelligence as well as superior capability of US that held us back from taking any action. What about last nights attack by Taliban

TTP claims attack on central jail in D I Khan

Pakistani Taliban militants in police uniform attacked the Central Jail in Dera Ismail Khan late on Monday and managed to free around 247 inmates, as more than 25 explosions were heard and at least 11 people were killed and nine others wounded.

Our response was exemplary

230 prisoners escape in TTP’s DI Khan jail attack

K-P prisons chief Khalid Abbas said the gunfight raged for three hours, with militants wearing police uniforms entering the facility after bombing its outer wall and throwing hand grenades at prison guards. After the battle abated, security forces searched the prison which was plunged into darkness with an electricity outage, and counted inmates by flashlight to determine how many had escaped, he said. Spokesperson for the K-P government Shaukat Yousafzai confirmed the army had been called in to quell the militant attack.

So they fought for three hours and then around 300 (100 attackers and 200 prisoners) of them escaped. They would not be escaping on foot or hiding in trees. They would be making their escape in cars. This time there was no AWACS in air. Why couldn’t we scrambled army gun ship helicopters or even fighter jets over the area.

They would have made a run for it in cars and assuming 20 militants per car, it makes for a convoy of 15 cars at least which is easy to spot in the night and we could have dropped a few small bombs or fired from helicopter guns. Whereas information from Pakistani state was found wanting, TTP was giving hour by hour update of their success on twitter

I find it hard to believe that our security and intelligence apparatus wasn’t complicit in this. And if it weren’t, then we have pretty incompetent security and intelligence agencies.

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Counter Insurgency Pakistan I : Insurgency doctorine or How Pakistani Taliban are taking on the state

The purpose of this post is to understand insurgency doctrine of terrorist outfit Pakistani Taliban aka Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan aka TTP in light of the insurgency doctrines described in classic counter-insurgency book “Counter Insurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice“, David Galula.

Obviously all wars are different and its pretty hard to squarely fit terrorists in one category or other as terrorists may use every available trick (cheating, lying, exaggerating etc) to gain advantage whenever they can. However, based on certain characteristics and traits of terrorists and their activities, we can broadly classify as following on of the following two patterns:

  1. Communist party method: orthodox pattern
  2. Bourgeois nationalist pattern: short cut pattern

The first one is a long and arduous one which communist parties followed in China and Vietnam wherein they indoctrinate the inductees in their cause through training and brainwashing and then subsequently send them out to fight. Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan which has pretty good network of schools, charities and training facilities follows this method.

The second one is short one wherein their is no overarching cause as such other than to create disorder and chaos to gain control over land. They may use certain slogans as religion, sect or ethnicity but other than that they do not have any fixed plan for governing and administering the acquired piece of land. They use terrorizing tactics as explained below. TTP is clearly following this methodology.

1. Communist party method: orthodox pattern

In this step, the first objective is the guerrilla’s survival: the final one, the acquisition of bases in which an insurgent government and administration will be established, the human and other resources exploited, and regular forces created. Guerrilla warfare with no bases, says Mao Tse-tung, is nothing but roving banditism; unable to maintain links with the population, it cannot develop and is bound to be defeated.

Objectively, there is no difference between ordinary, everyday bandit activity in almost every country and the first guerrilla actions. What makes it possible for the guerrillas to survive and to expand? The complicity of the population. This is the key to guerrilla warfare, indeed to the insurgency, and it has been expressed in the formula of the fish swimming in the water. The complicity of the population is not to be confused with the sympathy of the population; the former is active, the latter inactive, and the popularity of the insurgent’s cause is insufficient by itself to transform sympathy into complicity.

The participation of the population in the conflict is obtained, above all, by a political organization (the party) living among the population, backed by force (the guerrilla gangs), which eliminates the open enemies, intimidates the potential ones, and relies on those among the population who actively support the insurgents. Persuasion brings a minority of supporters—they are indispensable—but force rallies the rest. There is, of course, a practical if not ethical limit to the use of force; the basic rule is never to antagonize at any one time more people than can be handled.

MQM in its early days and 90s used this strategy on an ethnic card. However, it has since matured and become pretty mainstream and distanced itself from it urban warfare past of 90s.

Where to operate? In the areas that the counter-insurgent cannot easily control and where the guerrilla gangs can consequently survive and develop. The factors in selecting the first areas of operations are:

  1. The strength of the insurgent’s organization among the population that has been achieved in preliminary work.
  2. The remoteness of the areas from the center of the counter-insurgent’s power.
  3. Their inaccessibility due to terrain and poor communications.
  4. Their location on both sides of administrative borders, which makes it difficult for the enemy to coordinate his reaction.

The North West region of Pakistan where TTP is currently based fits the above location descriptions pretty well.

Demoralization of the enemy’s forces is an important task. The most effective way to achieve it is by employing a policy of leniency toward the prisoners. They must be well treated and offered the choice of joining the movement or of being set free, even if this means that they will return to the counterinsurgent’s side. Despite its setbacks in the early stages, this is the policy that pays the most in the long run.

A colleague of the author visited a camp at Hsuchow in central China, where the Nationalists kept 5,000 Communist prisoners.
“Where were they caught?” he asked the Nationalist general in charge of the camp.
“Between you and me, we have no more than ten real Communist soldiers among these prisoners.”
“Who are the others then?”
“Nationalist soldiers caught and released by the Communists. We don’t want them to contaminate our army.”
Thus, the Communists had achieved the trick of having the Nationalists themselves watching their own men!

The first clear sign of the Chinese influence on the Vietminh came in 1950, when the Vietminh suddenly changed their attitude toward French prisoners. Instead of slaughtering them, they undertook to brainwash them.

This is where TTP is deviating clearly from Orthodox doctrine. Being a roving band of bandits with nothing but a garb of religion, they definitely do not have superior moral or psychological basis to indoctrinate the captured soldiers. As such, they slaughter them even releasing videos of the slaughtering.

The insurgent must solve a problem created by what we have considered a tactical asset: the scattered nature of his operations. Although this makes it difficult for the counter-insurgent to cope with them, the insurgent must also reconcile the dilution of his forces with the need for unity of action. The solution is a clear, common doctrine widely taught and accepted.

The expansion of the insurgent movement raises the problem of political and military cadres. They are selected on the basis, above all, of their loyalty and, secondly, of their concrete achievements in the field. How important the Communists consider the loyalty of their personnel, cadres, and troops can be seen from the following story. In 1952, a Vietminh regimental commander, hard pressed by French troops in the Red River Delta, pleaded for replacements. The answer from the Vietminh command: “Impossible to send you replacements now; they have not yet received full political indoctrination.”

If we ever overcome TTP insurgents, it will be relatively easier to rehabilitate the captured soldiers as most of them would not have been indoctrinated. True TTP brainwashes them into fighting for them in the name of religion. However, their target is the state because it is “infidel” and may be insurgents join them for their love of religion. The rehabilitation should comprise of teaching the captured TTP warriors that the picture painted by TTP of the state and religion is completely wrong and misguided.

What is very different from past insurgencies and probably what the author is describing in his book is that TTP has made inroads into Karachi which is at the other end of the country. It does not provide the location advantages of North West Pakistan neither does it provide as steady a stream of local recruits. Yet still they have been able to mark their presence. This is something that needs to be further analyzed.

As the overall strength of the insurgent grows while his opponent’s decreases, a balance of forces is reached at some point. In the assessment of the insurgent’s strength must be included not only his military assets but the solidity of his political structure, the fact that the population is mobilized in his areas, the subversive activity of his underground agents in the counter-insurgent’s areas, and finally, the insurgent’s psychological superiority.

From then on, the scope and scale of the insurgent’s operations will increase swiftly; a series of offensives aiming at the complete destruction of the enemy will constitute the last and final step.
At any time during the process, the insurgent may make peace offers, provided there is more to gain by negotiating than by fighting.

Now we come to the second method. As you read through it, you will realize that how neatly it fits the recent pattern of TTP

2. Bourgeois nationalist pattern: short cut pattern

First step: blind terrorism
The purpose is to get publicity for the movement and its cause, and by focusing attention on it, to attract latent supporters. This is done by random terrorism, bombings, arson, assassinations, conducted in as spectacular a fashion as possible, by concentrated, coordinated, and synchronized waves.

(See Pakistan Faces New Wave of Attacks, WSJ)

Second step: selective terrorism
This quickly follows the first. The aims are to isolate the counterinsurgent from the masses, to involve the population in the struggle, and to obtain as a minimum its passive complicity. This is done by killing, in various parts of the country, some of the low-ranking government officials who work most closely with the population, such as policemen, mailmen, mayors, councilmen, and teachers. Killing high-ranking counterinsurgent officials serves no purpose since they are too far removed from the population for their deaths to serve as examples.

See (Suicide attacks in Mohmand kill 104; peace jirga main target, Dawn; A young suicide bomber dressed in school uniform has blows himself up at an army compound, BBC; Deadly attack at Pakistan funeral procession attended by many anti-Taliban militiamen, BBC)

The early supporters are set to work collecting money from the population. Although money, the sinew of war, is interesting in itself, this operation has important side effects. The amount of money collected provides a simple standard to gauge the efficiency of the supporters and to select leaders accordingly. It also implicates the mass and forces it to show its revolutionary spirit. “You give money, you are with us. You refuse money, you are a traitor.” A few of those unwilling to pay are executed.

See (Taliban Spread Terror in Karachi as the New Gang in Town, NYTimes; Creeping threat: Taliban in Karachi, DAWN)

In order to involve the population further, simple mots d’ordres are circulated, such as “boycott tobacco”; a few violators caught smoking are executed. These assassinations have value only if they serve as examples; therefore they must not be hidden or committed on the sly. The victims are generally found with a tag explaining that they have been condemned by a revolutionary tribunal and executed for such and such a crime.

See (Blast in Sohrab Goth kills 4 near drug den, The News. The report does not state this but it was reported at the time that Taliban asked the drug dealer to shut down his business but he didn’t so the bombed his place.) There are other videos available online of Talibans carrying out beheadings in Karachi for breaking their laws but due to gruesome nature, I am not linking to them.

The insurgent has to destroy all bridges linking the population with the counterinsurgent and his potential allies. Among these, people (generally the liberal-minded) inclined to seek a compromise with the insurgents will be targets of terrorist attacks.

ANP has been talking about negotiating with Talibans and even organized an All Parties Conference to agree on a strategy (see APC supports peace talks with Pakistani Taliban, DAWN) yet Talibans continue to kills it workers nationwide (See Over 700 ANP activists slain to date. Recently they have expanded their hitlist to include other secular parties such as MQM, PPP (See Pakistan election: Taliban threats hamper secular campaign, BBC)

When all this is achieved, conditions are ripe for the insurgent guerrillas to operate and for the population to be mobilized effectively. From there on, this pattern rejoins the orthodox one, if necessary.

Conclusion

Following the news trail and statements of Taliban attacks in Pakistan and mainly urban centres, it is quite clear that TTP is following the short cut strategy. As mentioned in the beginning that classifications are not mutually exclusive so they may use certain strategies that were classified under the orthodox strategy. Any way, the objective of both strategies is the same. To have a piece of land where to set up government, impose your ideology and laws.

This is where TTP is extension into Karachi is hard to fathom. Being the lifeline of the country’s economy, TTP should face immense opposition for threatening it. Yet has been taking over slowly and so far successfully. Whereas running an insurgency in North West of Pakistan with its porous border with Afghanistan and rough terrain is easy, trying to establish a base in Karachi which is an urban landscape covered on one side by sea, flat land on the others with the rural areas of south Baluchistan and Sind not really offering any welcome to Taliban neither in terms of shared ideology, culture nor language. So the question arises, how TTP intends to establish their base and government in Karachi in a region surrounded by relatively inhospitable land for them as well as population which overwhelmingly votes in the secular parties in elections.

Yet TTP has been able to not only infiltrate Karachi but is now engaged in turf war with existing stake holders and even going so far as to eliminate them one by one. They have already unseated ANP from their strong holds in Karachi, their extortion racket now reaches all suburbs of Karachi and they are now openly challenging PPP and MQM for a larger share of the pie.

Problem with democracy

The major problem – one of the major problems, for there are several – one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.

To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto : The Dictator

Below I have excerpted from two columns of Ardeshir Cowasjee appearing daily Dawn that shows how much (or little) a man of principle he was.

Bhutto gets a lot of praise for giving us the current constitution of 1973 and subsequent dictators get a lot of blame for introducing amendments in the constitution without any true representation. Bhutto’s track record wasn’t any better. From Dawn

Now, to educate the newborn or moribund constitutional experts who lay much stress on constitutional niceties, using as their bedrock the constitution of 1973. This Constitution promulgated on August 14, 1973, had a life of four, repeat four long hours. It was passed, not unanimously, but by consensus by the many members who believed that as it guaranteed fundamental rights it was better than no constitution at all – and certainly better than martial law. None dissented. The few who were not happy with it abstained.

Before the ink was dry, within four hours of its promulgation, the people of Pakistan were deprived of their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights through a Gazette Notification issued by the maker of the Constitution, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Fundamental rights having been rendered non-justiciable, he then had all his political opponents arrested. They were held in various jails until released by Ziaul Haq four years later.

Not satisfied with the notification, Bhutto had his Constitution amended seven times between its promulgation on August 14, 1973, and July 5, 1977, the date of his fall from grace.

An amendment of a constitution is an extraordinary measure necessitating a great deal of deliberation on the part of the ruling party, consultation with the opposition, and a careful objective study of public opinion on the subject. Its passage through the legislature must be deliberately regulated to ensure full discussion, to provide ample opportunity for criticism.

According to the rules of procedure which govern parliamentary procedure under the 1973 Constitution, a bill, other than a finance bill, on its introduction in the house must be referred to the relevant standing committee, unless the requirements of the rules have been dispensed with by the House through a motion of the relevant member. The standing committee is asked to present its report within 30 days. When this is received, copies of the bill (and any changes recommended by the committee) are to be supplied to each member within seven days. Two clear days must then elapse before the bill can be sent down for consideration.

These rules were suspended by Bhutto for the passage of the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Amendment Bills. The First Amendment Bill was introduced in the house on April 15, 1974. The standing committee presented its report the next day and within a week it was passed leaving no time for debate.

The Third Amendment Bill was introduced on February 11 1975, the required report was presented and the bill passed the next day.

On the killing of terrorist Murtaza Bhutto, Cowasjee wrote another columns on how Murtaza learned such tactics at the feet of his father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. From DAWN

By the time he was seventeen, half his country was deliberately lost in order to enable his father, the first ever civilian chief martial law administrator, to become president of what was left. In the years that followed, he swiftly learnt all about betrayals and broken promises, how to use violence, how to subdue, how to eliminate, how to torture, how to cling to power. Sadist Masud Mahmood, chief of his father’s private army, the FSF, was a familiar figure in his life, as was Saeed Ahmed, both of whom were to turn and be the instruments of his father’s execution.

He was around when his father violated his own Constitution, when he then arrested and imprisoned the Baloch chieftains, Sardars and Tumandars, purely for political gain and self-perpetuation. He sat by while young 23-year-old Asad, son of Sardar Ataullah Mengal, was murdered in an ‘encounter’ outside the Karachi house of Tumandar Balakh Sher Mazari (his body was never found), and while the toenails of young Asfandyar, son of Wali Khan, were pulled out one by one (luckily Asfandyar survives to tell the tale), and while Jam Sadiq Ali and Imdadullah Unar did away with Khalifa Faqir Mohammed Amin and six Hurs, and while countless others were murdered in acts of vengeance.

Murtaza knew all about how the keys of the prisons that held Sardars Mengal and Marri, Bizenjo and Wali Khan were thrown away and lost.

This was the real face of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

Wikileaks – Armed Gangs of Karachi

Surprisingly our independent media is totally silent about this aspect of the leak.

U.S. Embassy classified cable dated 22 April 2009

Prepared by: Karachi consul general

http://cables.mrkva.eu/cable.php?id=203530

——————————-

US embassy cable – 09KARACHI138

SINDH – THE GANGS OF KARACHI

Identifier: 09KARACHI138

Origin: Consulate Karachi

Created: 2009-04-22 11:52:00

Classification: Tags: PTER ASEC PGOV PK

CLASSIFIED BY CONSUL GENERAL STEPHEN FAKAN FOR REASONS 1 .4 b and d. 1. (S)

Summary: The police in Karachi are only one of several armed groups in the city, and they are probably not the most numerous or best equipped. Many neighborhoods are considered by the police to be no-go zones in which even the intelligence services have a difficult time operating. Very few of the groups are traditional criminal gangs. Most are associated with a political party, a social movement, or terrorist activity, and their presence in the volatile ethnic mix of the world,s fourth largest city creates enormous political and governance challenges.

MQM (Muttahida Quami Movement)

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2. (S) The MQM is an ethnic political party of the Urdu speaking community (known as \”Mohajirs,\” which is Arabic for immigrants) that migrated from India at the time of partition; Mohajirs make up around fifty percent of the total population in Karachi. MQM is middle-class, avowedly secular, and anti-extremist (the only party to publicly protest the recent Swat Nizam-e-Adl regulations). It has a long history of clashes with the Pakistan People,s Party (PPP), which controls the Sindh province in which Karachi is located, and with the Awami National Party (ANP), which represents MQM,s rival ethnic Pashtuns.

3. (S) MQM\’s armed members, known as \”Good Friends,\” are the largest non-governmental armed element in the city. The police estimate MQM has ten thousand active armed members and as many as twenty-five thousand armed fighters in reserve. This is compared to the city\’s thirty-three thousand police officers. The party operates through its 100 Sector Commanders, who take their orders directly from the party leader, Altaf Hussain, who lives in exile in the United Kingdom. The Sector Commanders plan and monitor the activities of the armed elements. MQM\’s detractors claim these armed men are involved in extortion, assassination of political rivals, shootings at campaign rallies, and the murder of people from other ethnic communities.

4. (S) Low to middle-ranked police officials acknowledge the extortion and the likely veracity of the other charges. A senior police officer said, in the past eight years alone, MQM was issued over a million arms licenses, mostly for handguns. Post (Consulate) has observed MQM security personnel carrying numerous shoulder-fired weapons, ranging from new European AKMs to crude AK copies, probably produced in local shops. MQM controls the following neighborhoods in Karachi: Gulberg, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Korangi, Landhi, Liaquatabad, Malir, Nazimabad, New Karachi, North Nazimabad, Orangi Town, Saddar and Shah Faisal.

MQM-H (Muhajir Quami Movement-Haqiqi)

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5. (S) MQM-H is a small ethnic political party that broke away from the MQM in the mid-1980s. MQM-H has its strongholds in the Landhi, Korangi and Lines Area neighborhoods of the city. The MQM regarded these areas as no-go zones when it was in power during the Musharraf presidency. As a condition for joining the Sindh government in 2003, it asked that MQM-H be eliminated. The local police and Rangers were used to crack down on MQM-H, and its leaders were put behind bars. The rank and file of MQM-H found refuge in a local religious/political party, Sunni Tehrik (see para 9). The local police believe MQM-H still maintains its armed groups in the areas of Landhi and Korangi, and that the party will re-organize itself once its leadership is released from jail.

ANP (Awami National Party – Peoples National Party)

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6. (S) The ANP represents the ethnic Pashtuns in Karachi. The local Pashtuns do possess personal weapons, following the tribal traditions of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and there are indications they have begun to organize formal armed groups. With the onset of combat operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in August 2008, a growing number of Pashtuns fled south to swell the Pashtun ranks of what already is the largest Pashtun city in the world. This has increased tensions between ANP and MQM.

7. (S) If rhetoric of the police and the ANP leadership is to be believed, these armed elements may be preparing to challenge MQM control of Karachi. In March, the Karachi Police Special Branch submitted a report to the Inspector General of Police in which it mentioned the presence of \”hard-line\” Pashtuns in the Sohrab Goth neighborhood. Sohrab Goth is located in the Northeast of the city.

8. (S) The report said this neighborhood was becoming a no-go area for the police. The report went on to claim the Pashtuns are involved in drug trafficking and gun running and if police wanted to move in the area they had to do so in civilian clothing. A senior member of the Intelligence Bureau in Karachi recently opined that the ANP would not move against MQM until the next elections, but the police report ANP gunmen are already fighting MQM gunmen over protection-racket turf.

ST (Sunni Tehrik – Sunni Movement)

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9. (S) ST is a small religious/political group with a presence in small pockets of Karachi. The group has only managed to win a handful of council seats in local elections but militarily it is disproportionably powerful because of the influx of MQM-H gunmen after the government crack-down on MQM-H (see above). ST has organized the party and its gunmen along the lines of MQM by dividing its areas of influence into sectors and units, with sector and unit commanders. ST and MQM have allegedly been killing each other\’s leadership since the April 2006 Nishtar Park bombing that killed most of ST\’s leadership. ST blames MQM for the attack. There appears to have been a reduction in these targeted killings since 2008.

PPP (Pakistan People\’s Party)

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10. (S) PPP is a political party led by, and centered on the Bhutto family. The party enjoys significant support in Karachi, especially among the Sindhi and Baloch populations. Traditionally, the party has not run an armed wing, but the workers of the PPP do possess weapons, both licensed and unlicensed. With PPP in control of the provincial government and having an influential member in place as the Home Minister, a large number of weapons permits are currently being issued to PPP workers. A police official recently told Post that he believes, given the volume of weapons permits being issued to PPP members, the party will soon be as well-armed as MQM.

Gangs in Lyari: Arshad Pappoo (AP) and Rahman Dakait (RD)

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11. (S) AP and RD are two traditional criminal gangs that have been fighting each other since the turn of the century in the Lyari district of Karachi. Both gangs gave their political support to PPP in the parliamentary elections. The gangs got their start with drug trafficking in Lyari and later included the more serious crimes of kidnapping and robbery in other parts of Karachi. (Comment: Kidnapping is such a problem in the city that the Home Secretary once asked Post for small tracking devices that could be planted under the skin of upper-class citizens and a satellite to track the devices if they were kidnapped. End comment.)

12. (S) Each group has only about 200 hard-core armed fighters but, according to police, various people in Lyari have around 6,000 handguns, which are duly authorized through valid weapons permits. In addition, the gangs are in possession of a large number of unlicensed AK-47 rifles, Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers and hand grenades. The weapons are carried openly and used against each other as well as any police or Rangers who enter the area during security operations. During police incursions, the gang members maintain the tactical advantage by using the narrow  streets and interconnected houses. There are some parts of Lyari that are inaccessible to law enforcement agencies.

Pashtun Terrorists

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13. (S) A Senior IB officer recently opined to Post that \”All Pashtuns in Karachi are not Taliban, but all Taliban are Pashtuns.\” The size, scope and nature of \”Talibanization\” and true Taliban terrorist activity in Karachi is difficult to pin down, but Post has increasingly received anecdotes about women, even in more upscale neighborhoods, being accosted by bearded strangers and told to wear headscarves in public.

14. (S) There has not been a terrorist attack against U.S. interests in Karachi since 2006. There are several theories about Taliban activity in Karachi and why they have not staged an attack in so long. One school of thought has it that MQM is too powerful and will not allow the Pashtuns to operate in Karachi, and this, combined with the ease of operating elsewhere in Pakistan, makes Karachi an undesirable venue. Another line of thinking claims Karachi is too valuable as a hiding place and place to raise money.

15. (S) In April, the police in Karachi arrested Badshah Din Mahsud, from their Most Wanted Terrorist list, known as the Red Book. It is alleged he was robbing banks in Karachi at the behest of Baitullah Mehsud, from the NWFP, and the money was being used to finance terrorist activity. There is a large body of threat reporting which would seem to indicate the equipment and personnel for carrying out attacks are currently in place in Karachi. In April, Karachi CID told Post they had arrested five men from NWFP who were building VBIEDs and planed to use them in attacks against Pakistani government buildings; including the CID office located behind the US Consulate. CID also claimed they had reliable information that suicide vests had been brought to Karachi.

16. (S) Comment: The importance of maintaining stability in Karachi cannot be over-emphasized. Traditionally, Karachi was at the center of lawlessness, criminal activity, and politically-inspired violence in Pakistan. But with the security situation in the rest of the country deteriorating, the megalopolis has become something of an island of stability. Nevertheless, it still has a number of well-armed political and religious factions and the potential to explode into violent ethnic and religious conflict given the wrong circumstances.

17. (S) The PPP,s decision to include MQM in coalition governments in Sindh Province and in the federal government has helped preclude a return to the PPP-MQM violence of the 1990,s. But the potential for MQM-ANP conflict is growing as Pashtuns challenge Mohajir political dominance and vie for control of key economic interests, such as the lucrative trucking industry. Any sign that political violence is returning to Karachi, especially if it is related to the growing strength of conservative Pashtun \”Taliban,\” will send extremely negative shockwaves through the society and likely accelerate the flight from Pakistan of the business and intellectual elite of the society. End comment. FAKAN

The politics of disaster, terrorism and financial aid

In her book Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein describes  disaster capitalism as politics of using disasters (shocks) to push through unpopular decisions without any opposition. I had earlier written a post on this topic. If she studies Pakistani politics of last ten years, she can write another book on politics of terrorism and financial aid.

In the news yesterday, Pakistan’s ambassador to United Nations stated that if the world does not come forward to help Pakistani’s (read dole out more money and financial aid) in need due to flooding and havoc created by Monsoon rains, it could lead to increase in terrorism.

Don’t we ever get tired of milking the “terrorism” cow? It is surprising that it is almost ten years since Musharraf started milking the cow by his double game after 9/11 and the cow still has not gone dry.

When the Kashmir was hit by the devastating earthquake, the government machinery was found incapable to do anything. Jamat ud Dawa (JoD) were the first ones on the ground. With their jihadist training and rugged terrain experience, they were able to provide relief to areas where no one else could go.

……it [JoD] was certainly making its name heard across the line of control doing earthquake relief – better indeed than the Pakistani army. Where the army could move supplies into the mountainous region only by helicopter, the militants were already there. These hardy guerrilla fighters, experienced at operating in the mountains, cleared their own dead then went to help in the earthquake relief: “only the Mujahideen are helping, from Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat ud-Dawa…One hour after the quake, they were here. The army only came on the fourth day.”—-openDemocracy

They were followed by MQM and Jamat-e-Islami. These three are persona non grata: JoD because they are jihadis (read terrorists), MQM because of their ethnic based politics and JI for bringing religion into politics.

At that time, there were concerns that Jamat ud Dawa’s relief work in  earthquake affected area would serve as big recruiting opportunity for Jihadis (not because of their hardline preaching but due to extensice welfare activities carried out by them). There was a lot of pressure on Musharraf from US at the time to impose a ban on Jamat ud Dawa. Despite himself wanting to do so but fearing the repercussions from public for stopping welfare activities when they were mostly needed and not having the infrastructure nor resources to take over the extensive relief network of JoD, he didn’t do it. I don’t know whether JoD recruited anyone but they did developed a lot of goodwill (in modern parlance, they won the hearts and minds of local people).

MQM which is mainly a urban Sind based party also made inroads into the heart of people through their welfare activities. It was said at the time that if elections were held in those areas, MQM could easily sweep them whereas winning even a single seat was deemed impossible earlier. It was rather unfortunate that MQM sacrificed all its goodwill just to please Musharraf in May 12 massacre. It was large price to pay for a useless cause. Hence, the two islamists earned the lasting goodwill by their relief work in that disaster.

The government has  started crying “terrorists” to squeeze more money out of US.  Most of Pakistan army is busy fighting a war with Talibans, it leaves little of them to help out in relief work. The civilian aid agencies are ill equipped and ill trained to solve such a catastrophe. Hence the Jihadis, who can endure hardships for long time, live on the rugged terrain and have proven their resilience by fighting US and Pakistani forces without comparable resources, will come forward  to help the people in need. Who knows, may be the government itself may ask these organizations to help as the disaster has been huge. Though we will be asking US and the world for aid, the final delivery will be done by these jihadis and they will earn the goodwill of the people whether US and rest of the world likes it or not.

From NYTimes quoting DAWN’s Huma Yusuf

Tragedies such as those Pakistanis have borne in the past few days — the plane crash and the ravaging floods — provide governments with the opportunity to demonstrate their capacity for governance. The failure to do so breeds conditions that allow extremism to thrive.

The mantra that good governance is the best antidote to extremism seems cliched. But it bears repeating in Pakistan, where the authorities have proved incapable of learning from history. Few can forget that five years ago, in the wake of the October 2005 earthquake, the government’s failure to cope with immediate relief efforts created a vacuum within which Jamat-ud-Dawa pulled off its greatest publicity stunt.

The extremist organization had the most efficient response teams on the ground, and boasted the most functional and well-stocked relief camps. Its mobile X-ray machines and operating theaters made international headlines. Through their clever use of mobile technology, the group’s volunteers established an unparalleled communications infrastructure that facilitated relief work.

The government and army, meanwhile, fumbled in early relief and reconstruction efforts, as charges of corruption in the distribution of aid and resources were rampant. The consequences of Jamat-ud-Dawa stepping in where the government should have been exercising its authority are obvious today in the support and influence that the organization enjoys.

I am not praising these organizations. I am just pointing out the fact no matter how hard we try, due to our lack of training, equipment, infrastructure, resources, manpower etc, we leave a be a vacuum for these terrorist organizations to fill.

You might wonder, where are the politicians? They are busy in their blame game. Shahbaz Sharif is requesting Zardari to stay home and be there for the people in this tough time. Babar Awan is saying that this IS the time for Zardari to go abroad and raise funds (he should call it begging). Qaim Ali Shah (Sind Chief Minister) is saying that normally Punjab makes Sind beg for every drop of water yet now they have opened floodgates thus drowning Sind. Meanwhile neither the military nor civilians nor the media is highlighting or interested in the plight of Balochis and then we wonder why Balochis are fighting for secession.

Aloof and regardless of what is going on in the rest of country, MQM, PPP and ANP (this is the ruling coalition in Sind) are busy settling score through daily killings in Karachi with 14 killed in just two days.

As a nation, we haven’t fared well either. Till day before yesterday we had ignored all the flood victims.

The pakistan flag was at half-mast on the first day to honour more than 150people who died in an air crash in Islamabad. It should rightly have remained at half-mast as more than twice as many died in monsoon rains. But the rich die in air crashes; the poor perish in monsoon rains. Flags rarely flutter at half‑mast for the poor. —- Guardian correspondent David Hopp

A good analysis of the same topic on five rupees:
The role of class in covering national tragedies or why aren’t the floods in KP getting attention

UPDATE: Christian Science Monitor reports on Jamat ud Dawa helping in flooded areas:

At the JuD aid “camp” on the main road east out of Charsadda, huge pots, used to cook on an industrial scale, were lined up, and the cooked food already had been distributed to the needy. An ambulance, no longer needed to ferry the injured, was being loaded with bundles of second-hand clothing to be given away. JuD also was running a first aid clinic in a building in town belonging to a college, the group said.

The group is operating under the name of Falah-e-Insaniyat but has made little effort to disguise that it’s JuD. Its staff said that it had 2,000 members working for flood relief, across the northwest and south into Punjab province. The uniform vests worn by many of the volunteers bear the badges of both JuD and Falah-e-Insaniyat.
“If the government were doing this work, there would be no need for us,” said Hajji Makbool Shah, a 55-year-old volunteer at the aid camp. “When the floods came, we carried people out on our shoulders to our own ambulances. Where were the government ambulances?”

Introspection : Secularism _ a panacea?

Originally written on June 3, 2010

The Model Town incident in Lahore has restarted the exercise in introspection in the Pakistani media and blogosphere. The arguments always fall into similar categories: some say that  Quaid-e-Azam did not want an Islamic state just a Muslim state, others go as back as to blame the original sin of carving out Pakistan, a few point fingers at Objective Resolution and last but not the least the policies of Mard-e-momin Mard-e-haq Zia ul Haq for introducing Klashinkov culture . The arguments usually end with blaming Bhutto for introducing clause 260(3) in 2nd Amendment of constitution which defines Ahmedis as not Muslims concluding  invariably that all such terrorist activities will end once constitution of Pakistan is given a secular color.

What we seem to forget in these exercises is that the people carrying out the rampage have neither respect for constitution (secular or otherwise) nor seek any legitimacy from it for their heinous acts. They did not select Ahmedis as their targets because the constitution describes them as non Muslims.

Today they have murdered Ahmedis, but a few days ago they were murdering general population (religion/sect no bar) in moon market blasts in Lahore, prior to that attack during Friday prayers in Rawalpindi mosque, on Sri Lankan cricket team, on Manawan police academy outside Lahore, GHQ attack, shia procession, pathan roti walas and thailay walas in Karachi and prior to all this killing of shia professionals in Karachi.

What all this shows is total breakdown of law and order in the country. There are people hell bent on killing (people belonging to a particular group/sect/ethnicity might get killed more than others) and the state is incapable of doing anything against them.

I respect Quaid-e-Azam and what I am today is because of Pakistan and hence my gratitude for him. However, Quaid was not a prophet nor an angel. He was a mere mortal and mortals can make mistakes and not everything they do and say is 100% correct. This is not to say that he said anything wrong. He may have wanted a secular constitution but he believed in democratic principles and left it up to the people through their representatives on how they want to be ruled. If the constituent assembly or the future assemblies decide (rightly or wrongly) that Islam is to be state religion, then democratic principles imply that it should be.

Islam gives equal rights to people from other religions to practice. However, if the Muslim population does not allow the minorities equal rights, its not Islam’s fault, rather it is the fault of Muslims and Islam being the state religion has nothing to do with it.

When minorities are attacked, it has nothing to do with non-secular nature of the constitution. Take the case honor killings that take place in Sind and Balochistan (most secular of all the ethnicities in Pakistan). It does not have any implicit protection in the constitution. How many persons have been tried for honor killings?

Akbar Bugti ( murdered extra judicially by Musharraf) himself claimed to have murdered his subjects in his youth just because he could. Israullah Zahri of Balochistan National Party (secular party) and minister in the government had stated that we should respect the Baloch culture of burying women alive after five women were buried alive. Except for little hue and cry when he made the statement, nothing else has happened against him. He even did not have to resign or retract his statement.

I am not recommending here that constitution and law should not be improved. What I am implying is that even if we change the law, things will not improve because all this happens in spite of the law, not because of it.

With the exception of Zia and Nawaz Sharif, the country has been ruled by  secular or liberals. We lost half of the country under the stewardship of liberals i.e., Islam had nothing to do with it other than probably delaying the secession of Bangladesh. Seculars were ruling the country under a secular constitution. Compared to the murder and rape that took place in Bangladesh under secular governments in Pakistan, the current crimes against humanity pale in comparison.

Many commentators are exploiting the Lahore tragedy to spew vitriol against Islam. Will they be happy if so called Islamic injunctions are taken out of the constitution of Pakistan? I don’t think so because a few weeks ago some of them were spewing in a similar vein against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa asking for making Hazara region a separate province. And this is when Khyber is ruled by a secular party.

Karachi, which is ruled between PPP, ANP and MQM, all three are secular parties, is a boiling pot of ethnic tensions with once 16 people killed in single day and continue to get killed with NO hue and cry anywhere.

You can make the constitution as secular as you wish, but the fact is that secularization of laws will not make your problems go away. You need to be able to implement the law which (due to lack of resources or will) does not seem achievable in foreseeable future.