The U.S. and NATO should withdraw from Afghanistan.
Dear President Obama,
Your extraordinary ascent to the U.S. Presidency is, to a large part, a reflection of your remarkable ability to mobilize society, particularly the youth, with the message of “change.” Indeed, change is what the world is yearning for after eight long and almost endless years of carnage let loose by a group of neo-cons that occupied the White House.
Understandably, your overarching policy focus would be the security and welfare of all U.S. citizens and so it should be. Similarly, our first and foremost concern is the protection of Pakistani lives and the prosperity of our society. We may have different social and cultural values, but we share the fundamental values of peace, harmony, justice and equality before law.
No people desire change more than the people of Pakistan, as we have suffered the most since 9/11, despite the fact that none of the perpetrators of the acts of terrorism unleashed on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, were Pakistani. Our entire social, political and economic fabric is in a state of meltdown. Our sovereignty, dignity and self-respect have been trampled upon. The previous U.S. administration invested in dictators and corrupt politicians by providing them power crutches in return for total compliance to pursue its misconceived war on terror.
There are many threats confronting our society today, including the threat of extremism. In a society where the majority is without fundamental rights, without education, without economic opportunities, without health care, the use of sheer force and loss of innocent lives continues to expand the extremist fringe and contract the space for the moderate majority.
Without peace and internal security, the notion of investing in development in the war zones is a pipe dream, as the anticipated benefits would never reach the people. So the first and foremost policy objective should be to restore the peace. This can only be achieved through a serious and sustained dialogue with the militants and mitigation of their genuine grievances under the ambit of our constitution and law. Since Pakistan’s founding leader signed a treaty in 1948 with the people of the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas and withdrew Pakistani troops, they had remained the most peaceful and trouble-free part of Pakistan up until the post-9/11 situation, when we were asked to deploy our troops in FATA.
Even a cursory knowledge of Pushtun history shows that for reasons of religious, cultural and social affinity, the Pushtuns on both sides of the Durand Line (which marks the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan) cannot remain indifferent to the suffering of their brethren on either side. The Pushtuns are proud of their history of resisting every invader from Alexander onwards, to the Persians, Moghuls, British and the Russians (all superpowers of their times) who were all bogged down in the Pushtun quagmire. So, no government, Pakistani or foreign, will ever be able to stop Pushtuns crossing over the 1,500-kilometer border to support their brethren in distress on either side, even if it means fighting the modern-day superpower in Afghanistan. Recent history shows how the mighty Soviet Union had to retreat from Afghanistan with its army defeated even though it had killed over a million Afghans.
To an average Pushtun, notwithstanding the U.N. Security Council sanction, the U.S. is an occupying power in Afghanistan that must be resisted. It is as simple as that. Therefore, the greatest challenge confronting U.S. policy in Afghanistan is how to change its status from an occupier to a partner. The new U.S. administration should have no doubt that there is no military solution in Afghanistan. As more innocent Pushtuns are killed, more space is created for new Taliban and even Al-Qaida recruits–revenge being an integral part of the Pushtun character. So, as with Iraq, the U.S. should give a time table for withdrawal from Afghanistan and replace NATO and U.S. forces with U.N. troops during the interim period.
The Pushtuns then should be involved in a dialogue process where they should be given a stake in the peace. As the majority’s stake in peace grows, proportionately the breeding ground for extremists shrinks.
The crucial lesson the U.S. needs to learn–and learn quickly–is that you can only win against terrorists if the majority in a community considers them terrorists. Once they become freedom fighters and heroes amongst their people, history tells us that the battle is lost.
Terrorism worldwide is an age-old phenomenon and cannot be eliminated by rampaging armies, no matter how powerful. It can only be contained by a strategy of building democratic societies and addressing the root causes of political conflicts. The democratization part of this strategy demands a strategic partnership between the West and the people of the Islamic world, who are basically demanding dignity, self-respect and the same fundamental rights as the ordinary citizen in the West enjoys. However, this partnership can only be forged if the U.S. and its close Western allies are prepared to accept and coexist with credible democratic governments in the Islamic world that may not support all U.S. policies as wholeheartedly as dictators and discredited politicians do in order to remain in power.
The roots of terror and violence lie in politics–and so does the solution. We urge the new administration to conduct a major strategic review of the U.S.-led war on terror, including the nature and kind of support that should realistically be expected of Pakistan keeping in mind its internal security interests. Linking economic assistance to sealing of its western frontier will only force the hand of a shaky and unstable government in Pakistan to use more indiscriminate force in FATA, a perfect recipe for disaster.
The stability of the region hinges on a stable Pakistan. Any assistance to improve governance and social indicators must not be conditional. For the simple reason that any improvement in the overall quality of life of ordinary citizens and more effective writ of the state would only make mainstream society less susceptible to extremism. However, if the new U.S. administration continues the Bush administration’s mantra of “do more,” to which our inept leadership is likely to respond to by using more force, Pakistan could become even more accessible to forces of extremism leading to further instability that would spread across the region, especially into India, which already faces problems of extremism and secessionist movements. Such a scenario would benefit no one–certainly not Pakistan and certainly not the U.S. That is why your message of meaningful change, Mr. President, must guide your policies in this region also.
Imran Khan is chairman and founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice), and served as an elected member of Pakistan’s parliament from 2002-08. The captain of the Pakistan team that won the cricket World Cup in 1992, he founded the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center, the biggest charitable institution in Pakistan. He is chancellor of the University of Bradford, in the U.K.
It is infuriating to see some officials acting as if they can get away with insulting the intelligence of the whole world simply by using emotional blackmail over the 09/11 incident which now seems less tragic in comparison with what has been unleashed on the world since then.
“Tortured 9/11 suspect may never be prosecuted: Pentagon official,” is the headline on Yahoo! News today. While making such chilling and uncivilized statemenets as that “sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold” are all authorized “interrogation procedures,” Ms. Susan Crawford tries to become a champion of human rights by stating that in the case of the alleged “20th Hijacker of 09/11”, these techniques were stretched a bit too far and therefore she has decided, oh so benevolently, that the “suspect” should not be brought to trial!
Can we think of a greater insult to intelligence? Rather than admitting that after prolonged captivity and torture, and after ransacking half of the civilized world (arguably, all of which may now be seen as lying outside the US), the US authorities have failed to bring any shred of evidence in an important case related to 09/11? Incidentally, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui will also not be tried but, we are supposed to believe, for a different reason.
The pattern is becoming clearer: Pick them up and build hype in the media, grab some more oil wells, confiscate some more land from an Asian country, and then release the victim. Case dismissed, hope the world will forget.
Pakistan cricket legand, a renowned politician, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf and a social worker, Imran Khan has returned the highest civilian award of Pakistan (Hilal e Pakistan) to the government in protest of Mr. Zardari’s decision of givin Hilal e Pakistan to newly elected US vice president Joe Biden and giving Hilal e Quaida e Azam to US under secretary of state (known in Pakistan for his support to the dictator,the NRO deal and interference in Pakistan judicial and political issues) Richard Boucher.
In his interview with Khaleej Times Imran said,“I have decided in protest to return the award conferred on me for my services rendered in sports arena. I am disappointed and angered over government’s decision which neglected the sentiments of the people of this country who are frustrated and seething with anger with this deplorable decision” .
Use of Chemical Weapons in Gaza–>What else is needed to declare Israel terrorist state(If it is really a sstate though).
What else do you need to declare Israel a terrorist state (if it is really a state though).
Use of chemical weapons is not allowed in any war specially when it is being used against innocent civilians including children and women.
Day 16: Phosphoric bombs bring burn vicitms pouring into hospital – 25 dead since midnight – 881 operation total
Date: 11 / 01 / 2009 Time: 10:42
Gaza – Ma’an – Twenty five Gazans have been killed since midnight Sunday morning and at least 80 injured by new weapons that set fire to the buildings and people they hit.
The Israeli Phosphoric bombs have not yet been used in the Gaza offensive. They have been fired intensively on the Ghuza’a and Abasan villages east of Khan Younis.
Medical sources at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis said most of the morning’s casualties were women and children. Medical staff appealed to international agencies for new medical supplies to deal with the burn victims pouring into the hospital
Sunday dawned with six more Palestinians confirmed dead in Gaza, mainly from Khuza’a village east of Khan Younis.
Overnight Israeli warplanes shifted their sights to civilian homes in southern Gaza, then after dawn strikes began in the north. Ground troops advanced towards Gaza City during the night. One contingent withdrew northward at dawn, while a second front southwest of Gaza City continued to advance to an abandoned Israeli settlement south of the city.
Those dead in the southern Strip include 41-year-old Hanan An-Najjar and another unidentified man. At least 50 were injured as Israeli strikes hit a dozen homes in Khuza’a village, many of which continue to burn after the near-dawn airstrikes.
The body of the 17-year-old Usama Abu Rajileh was identified among the dead in Khan Younis.
Attacks in the north began by killing four members of the Bashir family when Israeli airstrikes struck the family home in the Al-Karama neighborhood northwest of Gaza City shortly after sunrise on Sunday. The family was in the home at the time and an unknown number were injured.
Witnesses said Ala Bashir “Abu Sheib,” his wife, mother-in-law and son were killed in the strike. Several other homes in the area were hit.
Strikes then shifted to the northern border-town of Beit Lahiya where locals reported the use of Phosphoric bombs, which set hit homes ablaze. The strikes killed at least three from the Ma’rouf and Ghaban families and injured dozens.
Ground offensive retreats north after night of attacks
Witnesses said Israeli troops withdrew from As-Sudaniyah area in the north of Gaza City after a night of shooting. Locals said several homes were raided and their residents massacred after which homes were burned. Medical sources have been unable to confirm the number of dead.
Some of the known raids include the home of Ahmad Aj-Ja’bari of an Al-Qassam Brigades member in the eastern areas of Gaza City. His home was set on fire as troops withdrew.
In the southwest quarter of Gaza City clashes were heard in the Al-Sheikh Ajlein neighborhood as Israeli troops approached the evacuated Netsarim settlement south of the city.
***Updated 15:00 Bethlehem time
During the early period of Islam a woman of the Makhzoom family with good connections was found guilty of theft. For the prestige of the Quraish, some prominent people including Asama Bin Zaid interceded to save her from punishment. The Prophet refused to condone the crime and expressed displeasure saying, “Many a community ruined itself in the past as they only punished the poor and ignored the offences of the exalted. By Allah, if Muhammad’s (my) daughter Fatima would have committed theft, her hand would have been severed.
The Qur’an says: “We sent aforetime our messengers with clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance, that men may stand forth in Justice.” (Al-Hadeed 57:25). It is not only for the holy messengers of God, but this commandment has been for the people in general too. Qur’an commands: “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.” (Al-Maidah 5:8).
As I am writing this hundreds of people are being killed, wounded, hunted, tormented, ill-treated, delivered up to the most intolerable and hopeless anxiety and destroyed morally and mentally, and there is nothing in sight at present to arrest this spreading process and prevent it from reaching us. It is spreading fast! It is time for the Pakistanis in general and youth especially to act and try to be part of the struggle initiated by honorable Chief Justice of Paksitan Iftikhar Muhammad chaudhary for independent judicial system in Pakistan. One “NO” on march 09, 2007 started an unprecedented process of social transformation at a massive level in Pakistan.
As the result of that process nation got rid from a military dictator and a new government established in Pakistan on the promise of undoing the wrongs done by the military regime. The new government led by Mr. Asif Ali zardari broke all promises and the leader of lawyer community Mr. Ali ahmed kurd has to call for another long march on March 09, 2009.
Together, we the people of Pakistan has successfully outset many military and cicivilain dictators before and this time again if united for a “Just” paksitan we can write a new history. Let us make a resulotion that we will not sit in rest till we got things in order in our country. Let us make this country of Peace, love, harmony and beauty. Let us start this with the first step of independent Judiciary.
Let me assure you if we run away from the disorder prevailing in our country now, it will follow and get us. We have to face it. We have to solve it, or be destroyed by it. It is as urgent and comprehensive as that.
I invite you all to be a part of this long march with your maximum energies and support. I have developed this web site for you all to provide a platform to discuss and share ideas for a better understanding to make this “LONG MATRCH” a “FINAL MARCH”
Yours in struggle for a Just Pakistan
Muhammad Asif Riaz
for further details plz visit http://9march.search.org.pk
Join the protest on facebook against Israeli terrorism in GAZA
Though there is a very limited access to the Gaza area for media still there are reports of Palestinian Genocide by Israel Terrorist forces are coming.
There are news that Israel has attacked a UN run (not Hamas run) school (not missle factory) and killed people there but still Mr. Bush thinks Israel has the right to do it. Israel is targetting civilians incluling children and women,hospitals,schools, shops and what ever is labled as Palestine and the so called civilized world with dead souls running it still doing lip service and putting blames on the innocent Palestine.
I don’t know how and what will stop Israel because from weapons to money they are getting support from the so called civilized world and one can just think Where can we find humanity in the capitalist world?
It seems they don’t think others are humans as well.
Below is an article which gives some idea of what is happening there.
‘We’re wading in death, blood and amputees. Pass it on – shout it out’
Amid the tidal wave of human misery swamping Gaza City’s central hospital a horrified Norwegian volunteer doctor found a minute to type a text message on his mobile phone to friends back home.
“We are wading in death, blood, and amputees. Many children. A pregnant woman. I have never experienced anything so terrible. Now we hear tanks. Pass it on, send it around, shout it out. Anything. DO SOMETHING! DO MORE! We are living in a history book now, all of us.” It was signed Mads Gilbert, one of two Norwegian doctors toiling relentlessly alongside exhausted Palestinian medics.
So far, despite a flurry of diplomatic activity, no one has done anything. As Israel and Hamas fought a bloody battle to the death on Gaza’s tightly packed streets and alleys, there was no slowing of the flow of broken bodies in al-Shifa hospital. To make matters worse, the United Nations said that Gaza was about to run out of food, water and basic medicines in a matter of days.
Israel has said that it is making surgical strikes to cut Hamas out of the Gaza society. It is a brutal surgery, though, with blunt instruments and without anaesthetic. Entire families vanish beneath the rubble of broken homes. With Hamas’s die-hard fighters taking cover among a terrified civilian population, there is nowhere to run.
Bassim Naim, the Hamas Health Minister, ordered Hamas fighters yesterday not to use ambulances to move around after his nephew, Arafat Abed el-Daim, a paramedic, was killed when an Israeli tank shell hit his ambulance. As mourners gathered at a traditional tent to pay their respects to the young man’s family, another Israeli shell struck the area, killing three people and wounding 40, medics said.
“We were sitting in the mourning tent when suddenly they bombed us. We ran to rush the casualties to hospital but they bombed again,” Jabr al-Daim, an uncle, said.
In the al-Shifa mortuary — which is quickly becoming as overpopulated as the tiny territory that it serves — the father of the Samoudi family wept, speechless, over the corpses of his three children, the youngest a baby, the eldest just a few years old.
“They are still digging his wife and his other kids out of the rubble,” a medic said. The family was obliterated in Zaytoun, where fighting has been particularly heavy.
Saber Abu Aisha, whose brother was killed with his two wives and four children when an F16 rocket struck the basement directly beneath his apartment, vented his anger in the mortuary, where grieving relatives kissed their loved ones goodbye on the floors and in freezers. “The Israelis claim they are not killing civilians but that is all they are killing. They are barbarians, and the whole world should do something,” he said.
“We are a family, we have nothing to do with the resistance or this fighting,” his brother, Amr, said. “It is random killing to break the will of the Palestinian people.”
But the killing went on, as Israeli bombers blew up the houses of Hamas military leaders, often destroying nearby buildings.
Later in the day ambulance drivers brought in the body of a pregnant mother and her four children, killed in the Shurjaiyah area. Palestinian medics say that since Israel launched its ground offensive on Saturday night, 28 children and 13 women have been killed. More than 100 children have died since Israel began Operation Cast Lead ten days ago. One bereaved father who had lost 13 relatives in an explosion east of Gaza City pleaded with his dead son to answer him. “Get up, boy, get up. Please get up. I am your dad and I need you.”
Thousands of Gazans have fled their homes to escape the immediate onslaught of the Israeli tanks battling Hamas fighters who refuse to halt the rocket fire that has provoked this campaign. The UN refugee agency has quickly converted its schools into shelters but thousands more are leaving their homes to be nearer to the shops that are still open or to the ever-decreasing number of areas that have a few hours of electricity a day. Travelling across town is a potentially lethal undertaking.
The refugee agency has all but run out of wheat to supply Gaza’s bakeries, while the World Food Programme has stocks but cannot reach the warehouses because of the shelling. People wait in queues for hours to buy a loaf of bread. “I’ve been here for three hours and I will have to wait longer. Maybe a missile will bomb us so we can be rid of such a miserable life,” said Abu Othman, a father of seven, as he queued for bread. He said that his anger at Hamas’s rocket fire had been supplanted by a new rage. “I used to criticise the rockets. Maybe I still do but not like before. Now I want to see buses blown up in Israel,” he said.
Israel and its banks have cut off supplies of cash to Gaza, meaning that people increasingly have no money to buy the meagre supplies available. Maxwell Gaylard, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator, said that a quarter of a million people were without running water. “There is an overall atmosphere of fear,” he said.