Whats in a name?

Recently, it seems that a lot is in a name.

Couple of years ago my brother asked me to transfer money to his university in France. Two days after I made the transfer, I got a call from the money transfer agent that my transfer request has been rejected by correspondent bank because my name has been flagged as a possible terrorism suspect. At that time, I found out that I share the name with a certain african warlord. Luckily, I don’t look anything like an African warlord otherwise it would have caused a lot of problems.

Earlier this year, my name was flagged by the State Security because of the Pakistani passport (profiling) and it took a lot of strings-pulling and chips-cashing to get my name off the list. Those three months were a night mare.

Yesterday, I received this in my facebook mailbox

Dear XYZABC:
Is the Faisal Shahzad whom you know the same Faisal Shahzad who was arrested last night? If so, can you help us make any sense of it? Alison Cowan
NYT 212 556 1501 cel: 203 913 5573 and cowan@nytimes.com

A few hours later it was followed by this

I am a reporter at the NY Post and I am doing a story about Faisal Shahzad. How well do you know him? Do you think he really could be behind this?

Thanks,
Jeremy Olshan
New York Post
212-930-8039, office
917-771-7837, cell

I know this Faisal Shahzad who is my friend and he is not the one arrested by US authorities. He lives and works in Pakistan.

I was thinking of asking for cash upfront for more information on my friend as a prank but then remembering the trouble that I have already run into with security establishments decided against it.

I had read earlier that US monitors global telephone calls through a software which triggers recording and monitoring if someone utters certain words say Allah, Al Qaeda, Osama etc. But to think that one day my facebook profile could become a liability, never crossed my mind.

I realize it has nothing to do with privacy settings. Someone just has to type a name in facebook and he can have access to names of all his/her friends for sending out such emails.

I sent the copies of above emails to mailing list and this is how one of my friends replied in jest. (Honestly, this should be the correct way to reply to my email)

I do not know any of you. Who are you? Why am I in this mailing list? Who are these other strangers? J

Where am I?????

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Destinations : Innocent Deaths

Some items in the media regarding innocent deaths.

From Christian Science Monitor

A video released on the Internet Monday by WikiLeaks, a small nonprofit dedicated to publishing classified information from the US and other governments, appears to show the killing of two Iraqi journalists with Reuters and about nine other Iraqis in a Baghdad suburb in 2007 that is sharply at odds of the official US account of the incident.
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Permission is given, a voice says “light them all up,” and the helicopter opens up on the group with its machine gun – apparently killing all but two of the men. One unarmed man who escaped the first salvo and ran across the street into an empty lot is also tracked and killed.

For further details, go to Collateral Murder. Large number of resources are available on the site.

A friend of mine made the following comment on her facebook page after visiting the above website:

This is how American Soldiers kill ordinary citizens in Iraq – indiscriminately. The morons cannot tell the difference between RPGs, AK47s and cameras. When they kill people, they also take pride in killing the rescuers and call them “dead bastards”

What I find more insane is that on the youtube, there are ordinary American commenters who are happy that US pilots “fucking owned” the dead Iraqi journalists and many actually support the war, occupation and brutal murder of innocent people on daily basis.
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From New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — After initially denying involvement or any cover-up in the deaths of three Afghan women during a badly bungled American Special Operations assault in February, the American-led military command in Kabul admitted late on Sunday that its forces had, in fact, killed the women during the nighttime raid.

The admission immediately raised questions about what really happened during the Feb. 12 operation — and what falsehoods followed — including a new report that Special Operations forces dug bullets out of the bodies of the women to hide the true nature of their deaths.

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From Talking Points Memo

In a stark assessment of shootings of locals by US troops at checkpoints in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal said in little-noticed comments last month that during his time as commander there, “We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force.”

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Now to Pakistan. Robert Fisk in The Independent

A young Peshawar journalist sits beside me, talking in a subdued but angry way, as if someone is listening to us, about the pilotless American aircraft which now slaughter by the score – or the four score – along the Afghanistan border. “I was in Damadola when the drones came. They killed more than 80 teenagers – all students – and, yes they were learning the Koran, and the madrasah, the Islamic school, was run by a Taliban commander. But 80! Many of them came from Bajaur, which would be attacked later. Their parents came afterwards, all their mothers were there, but the bodies were in pieces. There were so many children, some as young as 12. We didn’t know how to fit them together.”

The reporter – no name, of course, because he still has to work in Peshawar – was in part of the Bajaur tribal area, to cover negotiations between the government and the Taliban. “The drones stayed around for about half an hour, watching,” he says. “Then two Pakistani helicopter gunships came over. Later, the government said the helicopters did the attack. But it was the drones.”

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From Reuters

New York-based Human Rights Watch said it had briefed U.S. State Department and congressional officials about mounting evidence of more than 200 summary executions in Swat Valley in the past eight months of suspected Taliban sympathizers.

Pakistan’s army denied the group’s accusations of abuse in Swat, home to about 1.3 million people and the site of a much-lauded military operation last year to take back the former Taliban stronghold.

Destinations : Delusions

Below are some excerpts from recent reads of mine. If something interests you, click on the link and read the whole article

1. Planet Pakistan

An American visitor in Pakistan can’t help thinking at times that he has arrived in a parallel universe. Asked about the presence of Al Qaeda on their country’s soil, Pakistanis deny that there is any evidence of it. They lionize A. Q. Khan, who created the country’s nuclear weapons program and sold essential nuclear technology and knowledge to Iran, North Korea, and Libya, and they are incensed by American worries about the security of their country’s nuclear assets. Suicide bombings and political assassinations are near-daily occurrences, yet many Pakistanis are astonishingly complacent about the murderous groups behind them. They rail instead against the government that is powerless to prevent these attacks and an America that would like nothing better than to see an end to ­them.

2. The Nation : Black Water in Pakistan

On Thursday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed that Blackwater is operating in Pakistan. In an interview on Express TV, Gates, who was visiting Islamabad, said, “They [Blackwater and another private security firm, DynCorp] are operating as individual companies here in Pakistan,” according to a DoD transcript of the interview. “There are rules concerning the contracting companies. If they’re contracting with us or with the State Department here in Pakistan, then there are very clear rules set forth by the State Department and by ourselves.”

3. I am surprised that this is how US Armed Forces Journal thinks. Going Soft. Too bad it was published sometime ago otherwise its a good candidate for mindfuck of the day.

Demographics is a strategic advantage of indigenous forces. The total fertility rate, the average number of children that are born to a woman during her reproductive lifetime in the Taliban’s sanctuary of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Provinces (NWFP), is 5.1. Accordingly, the NWFP population of 17.8 million will double within 11 to 14 years. This birth rate, this regenerative capacity, trumps any casualty rate the U.S. can inflict on the Taliban in Afghanistan. We cannot exhaust the Taliban’s reservoirs through defensive war. Unless and until we change our strategy, the Taliban will field increasing numbers of fighters in Afghanistan over time. The fight is for control of the population, the Taliban’s reservoir, not terrain, not tactical engagements and not body count.

4. Last but not least, a very decent article written by Maniza Naqvi on 3 Quarks Daily entitled Trappers and Trapped website.

Is the US not able to let go? Is the US programmed to be trapped in Afghanistan? Is the US trapped in Afghanistan while many players in the region state and non-state look on patiently and contentedly all the while providing supplies and supply lines for its war? In its war in Afghanistan this non regional and chief warrior, the US military’s, cost per gallon of fuel is US$400 and cost per US military soldier is US$1,000,000. Somebody is bleeding and being clubbed and someone is getting rich.

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General Pervaiz Musharraf and other Pakistani Generals are similarly understood when we, read Jeremy Scahill’s article in the Nation about Xe (Blackwater) and its CEO Erik Prince and his Pakistani partner Liaqat Ali Baig and his company Kestral.  Now who is this Mr. Liaqat Ali Baig? What is his company’s connection to the Pakistan Army? If we dig deeper we find that almost all defense deals in Pakistan are done through Kestral Trading which is allegedly a proxy owned by Pervaiz Musharraf’s son Bilal Musharraf who lives in the Unites States.  Kestral CEO Mr. Liaqat Ali Baig is a front for Bilal Musharraf’s “ father in law”, Brig. (retired) Aftab Siddiqui. It’s all in the family.

23 March Parade Canceled. Again?

As reported in The Nation:

…there was threat of terrorist attack on security forces and moreover, since high profile personalities such as the President, PM, federal ministers, diplomats and a large number of people witness the parade, security issues forced the authorities concerned to cancel the event, the sources further said.

This gives me little confidence in the security capabilities of plethora of intelligence agencies (MI, ISI, CIA, IB, etc) that the country has.

When it matters the most to show the nation that situation is under control and the imported War on Terror is going in the right direction, the parade gets canceled.


It is pertinent to mention here that for the past 3 years the parade has been cancelled. It was held in 2007 at Sports Complex, which was witnessed by the then President Gen Pervez Musharraf.

During Musharraf era, in Karachi, we got used to the President’s stone laying ceremonies or opening ceremonies of bridges, towers etc. all taking place in Governor’s house for security reasons. They could have gone ahead with the parade and the president and prime minister could have observed it from the Presidency or like Musharraf’s days, the parade could have been arranged at Sports Complex.

Another sign that all is not well on the fronts despite the high profile arrests of terrorists and pictures of celebrating locals as depicted by ISPR : from Geo TV:

PESHAWAR: Frontier Constabulary Commandant dismissed over 900 FC personnel on refusing to take part in operation in FR Peshawar, Geo News reported Sunday.

Talking to Geo News, the FC Commandant Sifwat Ghayyur confirmed that the notification regarding the sacking of 903 personnel from 21 platoons, has been issued and the FC’s District Officers have been directed to take back weapon and government documents from these sacked personnel.