Student Action Committee (SAC) Protest For Missing Persons

Student Action Committee (SAC) Protest For Missing Persons

Schedule:

Saturday, 30th January 2010,
3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Liberty Roundabout, Lahore

“They disappear without a trace. Their families exist in torturous limbo. They lay awake wondering about their loved ones’ whereabouts and condition. Terrifying thoughts come to their minds evoking tears and a jolt to their heart. Their meaning of life altered. Forever”

Since the start of the US led war on terror in 2001 hundreds of people have been illegally picked up from Pakistan. Amnesty International has stated that Pakistan has detained hundreds of alleged terror suspects without legal processes. It has been speculated that some were tortured or otherwise ill-treated, some were sold to the US military and others vanished without a trace. Some of the missing were Al-Qaeda suspects but others included innocent women and children. The families of missing persons in Pakistan have been running exhaustively in search of justice and information about their loved ones. They see no light at the end of the tunnel.

For too long us Pakistanis have remained silent as things around us spiral out of control. If you want to make a difference, it is time to stand up, be heard and be counted, for history will never forgive us for being indifferent to the plight of our people.

Join us to protest against the forced abductions of the citizens of Pakistan and demand their immediate return to the country.

‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter’
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

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US-led war in Afghanistan ‘unwinnable’–> Imran Khan interview by PressTV,Video of IK discussing so called war against terror

The following is the highlights of Press TV’s exclusive interview with the Chairman of Pakistan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice), Imran Khan.

Press TV: Imran, the last time we spoke there was a different president running Pakistan and there was a different president in the White House. What has happened since then?

Imran Khan: When the 2008 elections came, the Bush administration wanted a similar puppet to replace Musharraf and that puppet turned out to be Asif [Ali] Zardari. So both the puppets allowed the Americans to attack Pakistani territories where they have killed — according to the government — so far 14 al-Qaeda in 60 drone attacks and 700 innocent civilians. So, everyone who knows anything about the area knows that these drone attacks are counter-productive. They might have killed 14 al-Qaeda, but they have produced thousands more al-Qaeda sympathizers. Every civilian that dies, the family then seeks revenge against the Americans and the Pakistani army, which is considered to be a stooge of the American army. So, therefore, Pakistan has seen chaos and unfortunately we do not have the leadership in Pakistan which can stand up and tell the Americans that it is a failed strategy and there needs to be a completely different strategy. Because this is a dollar-addicted leadership, it allows Americans to do anything, uses its own army against its own people for US dollars.

Press TV: Does it mean that the man in the White House, Barack Obama, is he better than his predecessor?

Imran Khan: What we have seen under President Obama is an escalation in Afghanistan. And, unfortunately, he does not give us the confidence that he has a proper grasp of that what is going on there. The tactics that are being used in Afghanistan are only making the problem worse. What was initially the Taliban resistance to the US, has now morphed into a Pashtun resistance, a Pashtun independence struggle against foreign occupation. And it is exactly the same situation as the Soviets faced in Afghanistan in the Pashtun areas. It is only a matter of time before it spreads to the Tajik and Uzbek areas. So, almost eighty percent of Afghanistan is involved in resistance struggle against the Americans. I do not see any strategy at this moment which is going to address this problem. I think if the current strategy is followed, the things will get from bad to worse.

Press TV: But it is not just the Americans is it? It’s the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who is also in agreement with President Obama about the policy in Afghanistan. Who is advising them?

Imran Khan: Well, as for the British Prime Minister it seems that as if whatever the Americans are doing they just follow the same line. It is very sad, because Britain has a very long experience of Afghanistan and the Pakistan tribal areas. There is a lot of material left behind by British writers, administrators and governors about this whole area and how it should have been dealt with. But, all the lessons have been ignored. And Tony Blair, basically, followed whatever George W. Bush did. And I am afraid that Gordon Brown is going along the same lines. What can you see (you can see is that) there are more British causalities and public opinion has already turned on the war in Afghanistan. And for the first time the majority of American people do not think that this is the war they want to own or which they are going to win. Well, the reason we do not talk about the British involvement is because it is only because of the Americans that the Britons are there. So, the US really has to understand that this is an unwinnable war and in fact the war is already lost, because the hearts and minds battle has been lost. You can only win a war if you win the people over to your side.

Press TV: But the West is trying to say that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won until Pakistan is sorted out. We keep hearing about the Pakistan Taliban. Who are they? And where are they from?

Imran Khan: Well, first of all this is just absolute nonsense. There was no problem in Pakistan. It was Afghanistan and the occupation of Afghanistan that then had a problem of destabilizing Pakistan. And this is just the fact. So I just do not know where they come up with this lie. Because, it’s just a blatant lie. How can they say that Pakistan has to be stabilized and then Afghanistan will become. Surely, stability in Afghanistan will stabilize Pakistan. In fact, a CIA ex-station chief of Kabul, Graham Fuller, actually wrote in the International Herald Tribune that unless and until NATO leaves Afghanistan, Pakistan is going to descend into radicalization and chaos which is absolutely right, because we had no Taliban in Pakistan. Before Pakistan was pressurized to send troops into Waziristan and General Musharraf, a military dictator was pressurized by the Americans to do that because he was getting military and US dollars from the Americans. So the moment he sent the troops in that is when the military operation led to the birth and the formation of Pakistani Taliban. Until 2004 we had no militant Taliban in Pakistan.

Press TV: Do you want to elaborate on that particular point?

Imran Khan: This was in September 2004, there was a drone attack which killed about 70 civilians and then there was a funeral the next day and another drone attack which killed another 40 or 50 people. And that was the spot of the reaction against their own tribal people. So our own tribal people rose up against the Pakistan army. And since there was Taliban versus Americans, anyone who fought the Americans or anyone supporting America which was the Pakistan army they all started calling themselves Taliban and gradually the more military operations we did, the more we created the phenomena of fighting Pakistani Taliban.

Press TV: More than two million possibly three million people have been displaced in Swat. Can you tell me what is happening there?

Imran Khan: Well, it is very important for people to understand that the Swat and tribal areas are completely different. The history, the geography and the people. So Pakistani Army doesn’t go into or hasn’t been into tribal areas since 1948. It is governed by its own laws. Swat is part of Pakistan, governed by Pakistani laws. The issue in Swat was completely different than the tribal areas. In the tribal areas people rose up directly because the Pakistani army under the US pressure was sent into the tribal areas by General Musharraf — a military dictator. That’s what caused the reaction in the tribal area. Resentment against the Pakistani army, resentment against the drone attacks and against Pakistani army using artillery bombardment in the villages caused a reaction when the people rose up. The demand of the people of Swat was that they wanted the old system of justice which was based on Sharia (Islamic law). Before the British came the whole Indian subcontinent was under the Sharia law. So by Sharia they basically meant their own system of justice, which prevailed and gave access to the justice for the common man before 1974. So people of Swat always had this movement going on, demanding their own system of justice back. So once the Taliban movement started in tribal areas and Pakistan army was sent into Swat because this movement was causing problems, they (tribal areas) then joined hands in with Taliban and called themselves also Taliban. But the genesis of the Taliban movement in Swat and the tribal areas was completely different. In my opinion the way the Pakistani army went into Swat were to go after 2,000 or 3,000 Taliban. They displaced two million people and destroyed their livelihoods and crops. They destroyed their fruit trees and crops. They incurred huge infrastructure damage — almost a billion dollar. It makes no sense to me, because what was the urgency? Was there any doubt that the 2,000 or 3,000 Semi-literate Taliban fighters could take on the 700,00-strong Pakistani army? Was there any doubt? So they made it into a big success, this propaganda that there was some great military achievement for just displacing these 2,000 or 3,000 fighters.

Press TV: Has there been a success?

Imran Khan: How can there be success when you go after 2,000 or 3,000 people and you make two million people homeless.

Source:http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=108804

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Video of IK discussing so called war against terror


How to clear the mess–>Imran Khan(The News)

Thursday, April 23, 2009
By Imran Khan

The reason why there is so much despondency in Pakistan is because there is no road map to get out of the so-called War on Terror – a nomenclature that even the Obama Administration has discarded as being a negative misnomer. To cure the patient the diagnosis has to be accurate, otherwise the wrong medicine can sometimes kill the patient. In order to find the cure, first six myths that have been spun around the US-led “Global War on Terror” (GWOT) have to be debunked.

Myth No. 1: This is Pakistan’s war

Since no Pakistani was involved in 9/11 and the CIA-trained Al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan, how does it concern us? It is only when General Musharraf buckled under US pressure and sent our troops into Waziristan in late 2003-early 2004 that Pakistan became a war zone. It took another three years of the Pakistan army following the same senseless tactics as used by the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan (aerial bombardment) plus the slaughter at Lal Masjid, for the creation of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). If our security forces are being targeted today by the Taliban and their suicide bombers, it is because they are perceived to be proxies of the US army. Iran is ideologically opposed to both Al Qaeda and the Taliban yet why are its security forces not attacked by terrorists? The answer is because their President does not pretend to be a bulwark against Islamic extremism in return for US dollars and support.

Michael Scheuer (ex-CIA officer and author of the book Imperial Hubris), writing in The Washington Post in April 2007, cited Musharraf’s loyalty to the US even when it went against Pakistan’s national interests by giving two examples: the first was Musharraf helping the US in removing a pro-Pakistan Afghan government and replacing it with a pro-Indian one; and, the second, for sending Pakistani troops into the tribal areas and turning the tribesmen against the Pakistan army. To fully understand Musharraf’s treachery against Pakistan, it is important to know that almost a 100,000 troops were sent into the tribal areas to target around 1000 suspected Al-Qaeda members – thus earning the enmity of at least 1.5 million armed local tribals in the 7 tribal agencies of Pakistan.

The most shameful aspect of the lie that this is our war is that the government keeps begging the US for more dollars stating that the war is costing the country more than the money it is receiving from the US. If it is our war, then fighting it should not be dependent on funds and material flowing from the US. If it is our war, why do we have no control over it? If it is our war, then why is the US government asking us to do more?

Myth No. 2: This is a war against Islamic extremists ó an ideological war against radical Islam

Was the meteoric rise of Taliban due to their religious ideology? Clearly not, because the Mujahideen were equally religious – Gulbadin Hekmatyar (supported by the ISI) was considered an Islamic fundamentalist. In fact, the reason the Taliban succeeded where the Mujahideen warlords failed, was because they established the rule of law – the Afghans had had enough of the power struggle between the warlord factions that had destroyed what remained of the country’s infrastructure and killed over 100,000 people.

If the Pushtuns of the tribal area wanted to adopt the Taliban religious ideology then surely they would have when the latter was in power in Afghanistan, between 1996 and 2001. Yet there was no Talibanisation in the tribal areas. Interestingly, the only part of Pakistan where the Taliban had an impact was in Swat where Sufi Mohammad started the Shariat Movement. The reason was that while there was rule of law (based on the traditional jirga system) in the tribal areas, the people of Swat had been deprived of easy access to justice ever since the traditional legal system premised on Qazi courts was replaced by Pakistani laws and judicial system, first introduced in 1974. The murder rate shot up from 10 per year in 1974 to almost 700 per year by 1977, when there was an uprising against the Pakistani justice system. The Taliban cashed in on this void of justice to rally the poorer sections of Swat society just as they had attracted the Afghans in a situation of political anarchy and lawlessness in Afghanistan. It is important to make this distinction because the strategy to bring peace must depend on knowing your enemy. Michael Bearden, CIA station chief in Pakistan from 1986 to 1989, wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine that the US is facing the same Pushtun insurgency that was faced by the Soviets in Afghanistan. According to him, as long as NATO is in Afghanistan, the Taliban will get a constant supply of men from the 15

million Pushtun population of Afghanistan and the 25 million Pushtuns of Pakistan. In other words, this Talibanisation is not so much religion-driven as politically-motivated. So the solution to the problem in the tribal belt today does not lie in religion and “moderate” Islam but in a political settlement.

Myth No. 3: If we keep fighting the US war, the super power will bail us out financially through aid packages.

Recently, the Government’s Adviser on Finance stated that the war on terror has cost Pakistan $35 billion while the country has received only $11 billion assistance from the US. I would go a step further and say that this aid is the biggest curse for the country. Not only is it “blood money” for our army killing our own people (there is no precedent for this) but also nothing has destroyed the self-esteem of this country as this one factor. Moreover, there is no end in sight as our cowardly and compromised leadership is ordered to “do more” for the payments made for their services. Above all, this aid and loans are like treating cancer with disprin. It enables the government to delay the much needed surgery of reforms (cutting expenditures and raising revenues); and meanwhile the cancer is spreading and might become terminal.

Myth No. 4: That the next terrorist attack on the US will come from the tribal areas.

First, there is an assumption, based purely on conjecture, that the Al Qaeda leadership is in the tribal areas. In fact, this leadership could well be in the 70 % of Afghan territory that the Taliban control. More importantly, given the growing radicalisation of the educated Muslim youth – in major part because of the continuing US partiality towards Israeli occupation of Palestinian land – why can it not follow that the next terrorist attack on the US could come either from the Middle East or from the marginalised and radicalised Muslims of Europe, motivated by perceived injustices to Islam and the Muslim World.

Myth No. 5: That the ISI is playing a double game and if Pakistan did more the war could be won.

If Talibanisation is growing in Pakistan because of the covert support of ISI in the tribal areas, then surely the growing Taliban control over Afghanistan (70 % of the territory) must be with NATO’s complicity? Surely a more rational understanding would be to see that the strategy being employed is creating hatred against the US and its collaborators. Aerial bombardment and its devastating collateral damage is the biggest gift the US has given to the Taliban. According to official reports, out of the 60 drone attacks conducted between 14 January 2006-April 8 2009, only 10 were on target, killing 14 alleged Al Qaeda. In the process almost 800 Pakistani civilians have been killed, while many lost their homes and limbs.

Despite its military surge effort, the US will eventually pack up and leave like the Soviets, but the “do more” mantra could end up destroying the Pakistan army – especially the ISI which is being targeted specifically for the mess created by the Bush Administration in Afghanistan.

Myth No. 6: That Pakistan could be Talibanised with their version of Islam.

Both Musharraf and Zardari have contributed to this myth in order to get US backing and dollars. Firstly there is no such precedent in the 15-hundred years of Islamic history of a theocracy like that of the Taliban, outside of the recent Taliban period of rule in Afghanistan. However, as mentioned earlier, the Taliban’s ascendancy in Afghanistan was not a result of their religious ideology but their ability to establish order and security in a war-devastated and anarchic Afghanistan.

In Swat, the present mess has arisen because of poor governance issues. Also, it was the manner in which the government handled the situation – simply sending in the army rather than providing better governance – that created space for the Taliban. Just as in Balochistan (under Musharraf) when the army was sent in rather than the Baloch being given their economic and provincial rights, similarly the army in Swat aggravated the situation and the present mess was created.

What Pakistan has to worry about is the chaos and anarchy that are going to stem from the radicalisation of our people because of the failure of successive governments to govern effectively and justly. Karen Armstrong, in her book The Battle for God, gives details of fundamentalist movements that turned militant when they were repressed. Ideas should be fought with counter ideas and dialogue, not guns. Allama Iqbal was able to deal with fundamentalism through his knowledge and intellect. The slaughter of the fundamentalists of Lal Masjid did more to fan extremism and fanaticism than any other single event.

Pakistan is staring down an abyss today and needs to come up with a sovereign nationalist policy to deal with the situation. If we keep on following dictation from Washington, we are doomed. There are many groups operating in the country under the label of “Taliban”. Apart from the small core of religious extremists, the bulk of the fighting men are Pushtun nationalists. Then there are the fighters from the old Jihadi groups. Moreover, the Taliban are also successfully exploiting the class tensions by appealing to the have-nots. But the most damaging for Pakistan are those groups who are being funded primarily from two external sources: first, by those who want to see Pakistan become a “failed state”; and, second, by those who wish to see the US bogged down in the Afghan quagmire.

What needs to be done: A two-pronged strategy is required – focusing on a revised relationship with the US and a cohesive national policy based on domestic compulsions and ground realities.

President Obama, unlike President Bush, is intelligent and has integrity. A select delegation of local experts on the tribal area and Afghanistan should make him understand that the current strategy is a disaster for both Pakistan and the US; that Pakistan can no longer commit suicide by carrying on this endless war against its own people; that we will hold dialogue and win over the Pushtuns of the tribal area and make them deal with the real terrorists while the Pakistan army is gradually pulled out.

At the same time, Pakistan has to move itself to ending drone attacks if the US is not prepared to do so. Closure of the drone base within Pakistan is a necessary beginning as is the need to create space between ourselves and the US, which will alter the ground environment in favour of the Pakistani state. It will immediately get rid of the fanaticism that creates suicide bombers as no longer will they be seen to be on the path to martyrdom by bombing US collaborators. Within this environment a consensual national policy to combat extremism and militancy needs to be evolved centring on dialogue, negotiation and assertion of the writ of the state. Where force is required the state must rely on the paramilitary forces, not the army. Concomitantly, Pakistan needs serious reforms. First and foremost we have to give our people access to justice at the grassroots level – that is, revive the village jury/Panchayat system. Only then will we rid ourselves of the oppressive “thana-kutchery” culture which compels the poor to seek adjudication by the feudals, tribal leaders, tumandars and now by the Taliban also – thereby perpetuating oppression of the dispossessed, especially women.

Second, unless we end the system of parallel education in the country where the rich access private schools and a different examination system while the poor at best only have access to a deprived public school system with its outmoded syllabus and no access to employment. That is why the marginalised future generations are condemned to go to madrassahs which provide them with food for survival and exploit their pent up social anger. We need to bring all our educational institutions into the mainstream with one form of education syllabus and examination system for all – with madrassahs also coming under the same system even while they retain their religious education specialisation.

Third, the level of governance needs to be raised through making appointments on merit in contrast to the worst type of cronyism that is currently on show. Alongside this, a cutting of expenditures is required with the leadership and the elite leading by example through adoption of an austere lifestyle. Also, instead of seeking aid and loans to finance the luxurious lifestyle of the elite, the leadership should pay taxes, declare its assets and bring into the country all money kept in foreign banks abroad. All “benami” transactions, assets and bank accounts should be declared illegal. I believe we will suddenly discover that we are actually quite a self-sufficient country.

Fourth, the state has to widen its direct taxation net and cut down on indirect taxation where the poor subsidise the rich. If corruption and ineptitude are removed, it will be possible for the state to collect income tax more effectively.

A crucial requirement for moving towards stability would be the disarming of all militant groups – which will a real challenge for the leadership but here again, the political elite can lead by example and dismantle their show of guards and private forces.

Finally, fundamentalism should be fought intellectually with sensitivity shown to the religious and heterogeneous roots of culture amongst the Pakistani masses. Solutions have to be evolved from within the nation through tolerance and understanding. Here, we must learn from the Shah of Iran’s attempts to enforce a pseudo-Western identity onto his people and its extreme backlash from Iranian society.

The threat of extremism is directly related to the performance of the state and its ability to deliver justice and welfare to its people.