Putting Karachi on fire

By Sajjad Shaukat

Protests and demonstrations by the Shia community enveloped almost all the country in reaction to the deadly twin blasts which killed more than 50 people, and damaged various buildings on March 3, this year in the Shia-dominated Abbas Town of Karachi. Next day, Sohrab Goth area of Karachi turned into battlefield with heavy exchange of fire after the four mourners of the burial procession were killed, while several people including four personnel of the Rangers were injured, and at least 10 vehicles were set on fire in wake of complete shutter down strike in the city, plunging it into total chaos. In this regard, on the appeal of Muhttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), shutdown strikes and protests were again held in Karachi and some other cities of the Sindh province on March 6.

There has been no claim of responsibility. But suspicion falls on banned Sunni extremist organisation Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) which has claimed major attacks on Shias in Quetta, particularly of February 17, which killed more than 100 persons of the Hazara Shias on the Kirani Road.

In this respect, Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik, while stating in the National Assembly on March 5 that four activists of the LeJ, involved in Karachis Abbas Town bomb blasts have been arrested, assured the Assembly that he would present a fact sheet that apart from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TPP) some other outfits like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are also involved in recent terrorist activities, while LeJ is openly holding its meetings in Punjab. Earlier, he disclosed that Punjabi Taliban of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi which had its headquarters in Punjab were behind the terror attacks in Karachis Abbas Town and Quettas Alamdar Road and Kirani Road. He elaborated that the Punjab governments ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was in an electoral alliance with the banned organisation. Therefore it has taken no action against the militant group. Former Governor, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Barrister Masood Kausar expressed similar thoughts on March 5. Notably, in the 2010, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer (The Late) revealed that Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has links with Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Although various sorts of subversive activities continue in different cities of Pakistan, yet Karachi needs special attention where sporadic terror-acts such as target killings, suicide attacks, hostage-takings, intense exchange of firing between two ethnic groups and workers of political parties in wake of setting buildings, shops, vehicles on fire and sectarian violence have kept on going since the last year, killing more than 2,200 people including several personnel of Police and Rangers.

In the end of April, 2012 in the areas of Lyari more than 20 people including police men have lost their lives as the gun-battle between police and gangsters continued for eight days. The criminal militants had been using heavy-weapons like rocket-launchers, hand grenades, machine guns. Besides these arms, police also discovered anti-aircraft guns from some places. In this context, Rehman Malik had disclosed, There is someone behind the scene who is providing modern weaponry to culprits in Lyari, and militants, belonging to the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Baloch Liberation Army were creating disturbance in Lyari. He told the National Assembly on February 2, 2012 that the aggravated situation in Karachi was the result of a well-planned conspiracy. He also revealed links among these militant outfits in carrying out joint terrorist activities, while the former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had also indicated foreign hands behind the Karachi unrest.

However, in 2012 besides other innocent people, leaders and members of the Pakistan PPP, MQM and ANP were murdered in the target killings, while dead bodies were also recovered from various places. In February, 2012 three Shia lawyers, two activists of the Sunni Tehreek (ST) and a doctor including Baluch MPA Nawabzada Bakhtiar Khan Domkis wife were brutally killed in separate assaults. Especially, the year of 2012 shows that the foreign-backed terrorists who had gone underground for some months due to the collective operation of Rangers and Police reappeared in Karachi.

The wave of various kinds of terrorism continues unabated in Karachi in 2013. Recently, sectarian violence erupted in different areas, killing more than 30 people after a terror assault on a leader of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and the killing of four men of the group believed to be the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan.

It is notable that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan have claimed responsibility for a number of terror-related incidents.

In April 4, 2012, leaders of the three coalition parties, PPP, MQM and ANP attended a joint meeting hosted by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, and they ensured indiscriminate action against miscreants in Karachi. While heads of these parties have repeatedly appealed for peace in the city, so question arises, who are putting Karachi on fire?

In this context, in 2011 when terrorists took the lives of more than 1500 people in Karachi, the city was handed over to the Rangers and Police whose personnel conducted search operations in various phases, and seised weapons, suicide jackets, explosives and hand grenades from fugitives custody. A number of insurgents along with huge cache of arms and ammunition, made of US, India and Israel had been caught.

In this connection, on July 18, 2011, Rehman Malik, while indicating foreign hands in Karachi, had openly stated, Over 200 miscreants have been arrestedIsraeli-made weapons including AK-45 rifles have been recovered from them. Police investigations have also proved that the culprits, who disturbed law and order situation in Karachi, were not permanent residents of the city. In the recent months, weapons of foreign origin were captured, and insurgents belonging to TTP were also arrested.

Nevertheless, we cannot see the civil-war like situation in Karachi in isolation as it is part of various subversive acts, being arranged by secret agencies like American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad in other regions of the country. These agencies are in connivance to destabilise Pakistan for their common strategic interests.
These intelligence agencies have recruited smugglers, criminals, employees of the security companies, experts of the psychological warfare, and journalists in order to fulfill anti-Pakistan designs of America, India and Israel. A majority of the insurgents who are committing terror-acts especially in Karachi are receiving training in terrorist camps located in India and Afghanistan.

As regards Karachi, due to political instability, poverty and unemploymentthe jobless youth fall into the hands of criminals who are assisted by the external elements which use them for conducting targeted killings and other violent activities. These internal culprits, some Indian Muslims and insurgents who are particularly backed by RAW have joined the ranks and files of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, the Tehreek-e-Taliban, Sipah-e-Sahaba and other militant groups. They have also got the membership of MQM, ANP and PPP. Besides killing the leaders and persons of the rival religious parties, and attaking the offices of the opponent political parties, these are real miscreants who target the Pushtuns, Urdu-speaking people and even the people, belonging to the interior Sindh. In fact, CIA, Mossad and RAW have succeded in creating and manipulating the ethnic, linguistic and sectarian divisions in Karachi through their paid-agents, while leaders of ANP, MQM and other religious sects accuse each other for murdering the people of their-related communities.

In the past few years, aside from gang warfare, criminal acts, violent rioting and target killings, Karachi has witnessed a steady increase with some high profile deaths. Each murder sees a retaliatory attack. The situation has so deteriorated that leaders of some major political parties requested to Pak Army for intervention to save the lives of people.

Notably, Karachi is Pakistans largest port and financial hub with the largest commercial markets, collecting 70 per cent of the countrys tax revenue. So, besides causing unrest in the city, creating instability in Pakistan, another aim of the foreign hands is to cripple the economy of the city as Karachi is intermittently brought to a halt with shutdown strikesmany shopkeepers remain reluctant to open their shops due to violence which is fuelling the flames.

At present, aggravated law and order situation demands a programme of de-weaponisation and detection of foreign-backed terrorists which is essential to curb violence in Karachi. Now, security forces are coping with sporadic battles with the militants in some tribal areas, while our external enemies which are putting Karachi on fire also seeks to engage Pak Army in the city.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.


India’s Avaricious Eyes on Thar Coal Project

By Sajjad Shaukat

In the recent past, by showing a sense of great optimism for the peace of the region, Pakistan agreed with Indian old demand to strengthen the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in order to resolve the outstanding issues such as terrorism, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage and water including main dispute of Kashmir.

As part of the CBMs, under the Aman Ki Asha initiative, recently renowned Pakistani and Indian media anchors, retired high civil and military officials including film stars have participated in various gatherings in both the countries to create favourable atmosphere for the peace process, and to discuss practical solution to the bilateral issues.

During the visit of Indias External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to Pakistan on September 9, 2012, Islamabad and New Delhi also signed agreements of liberalised visa regime and a memorandum of understanding on cultural exchanges in addition to agreeing on new cross-Line of Control (LoC) Confidence Building Measures related to trade and travel. Although Pakistan was already importing vegetables from India through Wagah border, yet implementation of these new agreements has started. Besides, Islamabad also signed a number of trade agreements with New Delhi, which allowed India exports of mutltiple items across the Wagah border. It is also likely to grant India Most Favoured Nation status, which permits trade in almost everything.

In fact, trade between both the neighbouring countries is more beneficial to Indian largest economy than Pakistan. While using delaying tactics for the settlement of real issues, India has been availing the opportunity of CBMs to get maximum economic advantage from Pakistan. In these terms, Indian greed for materialistic gains is unlimited.

In this regard, a recent report disclosed that the management of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), a subsidiary of Engro Group was engaged in feasibility study of the coal mining in Thar. Regrettably, our media did not take the notice that the company is also considering to sell Pakistani coal to India for latters projects in Tamil Nadu, Gujrat and Naveli, which is a cause of concern for all Pakistanis.

Some online reliable sources suggest that Indian Embassy Economic and Commercial Counsellor, Arvind Saxena who is Raw Station Chief at Islamabad is making strenuous efforts for striking deal between SECMC and Indian-based companies, Tethyan Copper Company Pvt Limited (TCC) and Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited (BHEL). In this connection, Arvind Saxsena arranged different visits of SECMC officials to India.

However, in July 2012, a parliamentary trade delegation of Pakistan which also included daughter of chief minister Sindh, Nafisa Shah, visited New Delhi and discussed the feasibility and possibility of cooperation on Thar Coal Project. For the purpose, Dr Mahesh Malani, (MNA) close associate of Pakistans President Asif Ali Zardari also visited New Delhi. Earlier, Indian delegation of five persons also visited Lahore and Karachi and held meetings with Pakistani concerned businessmen.
It is notable that the management of SECMC admitted that it is in consultation with the Indian companies TATA Power and BHEL for technology transfers to conduct open cast mining of Thar coal.

Meanwhile, there are rumors that corrupt political and business mafia, backed by the US and India is secretly involved in this multibillion dollars project, while main players allegedly include co-chairman of a political party and some officials of Pakistan.

On the other hand, Pakistans experts are of the view that Thar Coal Project should preferably be developed under the administration and technical consultation of Major General (r) Pervez Akmal, Corps of Engineers, who is already working to develop an institutional model for Thar coal. And services of Dr Shahid Muneer who is Director of Center for Coal Technology at the University of Punjab should also be got for the project.

It is estimated that the Thar coal field of Sindh has reserves of 175 billion tons which are 70 times higher than Pakistans total gas reserves. It is due to this reason that Australian and German investors also desire to invest in Thar Coal Project. In this context, in 2012, while talking to a delegation of Islamabad Womens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI), Australian Ambassador to Pakistan Peter Heyward said that Australia is interested in Thar coal development because key Australian mining and oil and gas companies have keenly been watching these developments in Pakistan.

This is worth-mentioning that representatives of Sindh Coal Authority, project coordinator Engro, Oracle Coalfield UK, and coal gasification project gave presentation to the committee on the progress of their projects. But Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, the pioneer of the project did not participate in the meeting. The best way is that both federal and Sindh governments should provide the committed share of the allocated funds for these projects. Dr. Mubarakmand has already revealed that coal reserves are also available in powder form under waterPakistan could produce 50,000 megawatt electricity and 100 million barrel diesel just through the gasification of these reserves.

Reportedly, in 1992, the Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP) discovered huge sub-surface deposits of coal, the second largest in the world as located in Tharparkar District of Sindh.

Notably, a press report of January 8, 2013 pointed out that the Thar Coal Project which has high potential to change the energy landscape of Pakistan continues to move slowly. It must be developed by countrys technical experts and economic managers who should ensure that vested interests do not participate in developing the project.

At present, Pakistans power generation capacity stands at 14,000MW, while the country will require 26,000MW by 2020, out of which around 10,000MW could be produced from Thar coal. So, the main aim of developing Thar Coal Project is to provide affordable and sustainable electricity to consumers using domestic resources. Reliance on indigenous fuel is likely to save billions of dollars in foreign exchange, which are currently being spent on import of expensive RFO (Refined Furnace Oil).
Now, the dilemma is that Thar Coal Project needs investment of about 3 billion dollars for infrastructure and development. But, instead of relying on local funds, rulers seek to give contract to alien powers which are working against the national interest of Pakistan.

It is fortune of Pakistan that it has huge natural and minerals resources. In case of proper exploration and utilisation of these resources, Pakistan can not only become a self-reliant country, but can also get rid of dependency on other hostile countries. No doubt, faulty decisions of the incompetent governments, fragile economy and lack of modern technology brought the country to the present multiple crises. Particularly, Islamabad must also get the help of China to develop the Thar Coal Project, as the Chinese companies are already working at various projects in the country.

Especially, Pakistans media should expose the designs of internal and external entities which intend to provide opportunities to the anti-Pakistan foreign investors regarding Thar coal. Media commentators should also emphasise that in coordination with its close friend China, the countrys reliance on its own talent and resources is necessary for the development of this project.

It is of particular attention that by taking note of the foreign plotters regarding Balochistans Reko-Diq gold and copper mining project, the Supreme Court of Pakistan gave its verdict on January 7, 2013 declaring the agreement signed in this respect on July 23, 1993 as void and in conflict with the laws of the country.

Similarly, Supreme Court should also take notice of the Thar Coal Project, while the Punjab Forum (PF) has requested the apex court in this respect. In this context, President of the Punjab Forum, Baig Raj stated, Supreme Court should immediately take notice of the situation and initiate action against lobbies which are working to advance the agenda of foreign powers and multinational oil companies.

Nonetheless, under the cover of CBMs, India which has rapidly been promoting its trade with Pakistan has avaricious eyes on the Thar Coal Project.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power.

PPP should not be Bhutto family ownership

By Saeed Qureshi

The formal induction of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari into Pakistans murky political turf took place on the somber occasion of 5th death anniversary (27 December 2012) of his mother, former prime minister and chairperson of PPP Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto. Young and energetic Bilawal delivered his passion-decked debut speech on this occasion in that he lambasted the judiciary besides assailing certain politicians. His rhetorical outburst was reminiscent of his grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhuttos highly emotional speeches captivating the audience.

But manifestly his political path is paved with grave odds and unforeseen hazards and proverbially is strewn with thorns that cannot be picked up so soon to take him to the garden path of cozy politics. Bilawal Zardari has to go a long way before he could come to the lofty political heights of his mother and grandfather.

Democratic dynasties are a feature of Asian politics. But in the backdrop of the ominous and ill- starred legacy of Bhutto family as that of the Indira Gandhi family in India, one would tend to harbor the troubling apprehensions about their unscathed survival in politics or power. The political culture both in India and Pakistan has been hostage to the family based dynastic overlord-ship. It should be replaced with merit earned through long struggle in the political arena and by serving the people selflessly and by dint of hard work and moral and political dignity.

The iconic political or social figures are certainly adored and loved by their admirers and fans. But this mindset should not turn into a psychological urge on the part of the leaders to undermine the national interests and principled politics. This kind of hero worship in prevalent in Pakistan because of a feudal system that survives on absolute obedience, clannish bonds as well as the slavish mentality from the common folks mostly bonded labor and farm workers.

Also the shrine culture has spawned the docility and reverence for the self-styled divine figures and for those who claim to have directed access with the powers that rule and run the universe. These intermediaries or so to say religious or mystical solicitors command limitless veneration and unquestionable submission from their followers and disciples who remain unmindful of their self dignity and honor.

We have to therefore, discard and reject this mentality of abject cronyism and servitude demanded by the privileged individuals or families in the spiritual or political domains. The democracy cuts across the parochial, clannish, and narrow considerations and urges, and instead gives ascendancy to the people who in fact, are the real owners of the power vested in a few individuals.

Earlier Pakistans incumbent president Asif Ali Zardari, who is also the acting chairman of the ruling party PPP, has indicated many a time that Asifa Zardari Bhutto would lead the party and carry forward the vision of her deceased mother, her grandfather and founder of the PPP Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

However, following the assassination of Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal was appointed as the chairman of the party with a new name: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. It was a shrewd move on the part of Asif Zardari to integrate two clans, namely Bhutto and Zardari into one male successor thus crafting a semblance of unity and togetherness of the two tribes. He wanted Bilawal to represent Bhutto family to negate dissensions within the party.

Bilawal was named chairman of the PPP in December 2007. Zardari planned to serve as a co-chairman of the PPP for at least three years until Bilawal completed his studies overseas. Although Bilawal returned to Pakistan in 2011, and is a de-facto chairman of PPP, Mr. Zardari presumably plans to hold reins of the party till such time as Bilawal is mature enough to take charge of the party as its full-fledged functional head. That moment has perhaps arrived now.

Surprisingly, while it was a foregone and a settled matter that the next chairman to lead the party is Bilawal, all of a sudden, Asif Ali Zardari started propping up Asifa as the PPPs leader and an intelligent successor of late Benazir Bhutto. Asifa who is now 19 years of age is being invited to various state functions held at the presidents house and at the prime ministers residence. But presumably Asif Zardari has again modified his plans by recalculating that a male was better than a female to lead the party.

It should be recollected that when Asif Ali Zardari entered the presidential residence for the first time, he was ensconced on both sides by his two daughters Asifa and Bakhtawar. While initially Bakhtawar (22 years) was being bolstered, later she went into oblivion and was substituted by Asifa for making certain statements about her family, her vision, perceptions and aims with regard to the future of Pakistan and the party.

When president Zardari left for Dubai for his heart surgery, Bilawal Bhutto came to Pakistan. But he remained non vocal and reticent without issuing any substantive statements. He looked subdued and seemed to be in a state of introspection or introversion.

At that time, his visibly sluggish posture or quiet demeanor as reflected from his body chemistry could be due to the illness of his father or the lurking feeling that his father was heaped with a plethora of accusations or allegations one of which was that he could be also be instrumental in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. He could also nurse a kind of forlorn feeling that why all of a sudden his sister was being promoted by his father as the prospective leader of the party and that finally the reins of the party could be handed over to Asifa.

But more potent reason could be his disenchantment with politics and like her aunt Sanam Bhutto; he might not like to delve in politics under paranoia of being the target of the elements that killed his mother. Or maybe by virtue of his temperament he is not attuned to getting into the political arena and instead prefers to lead a private life. It could also be possible that father and son might have developed some yet to be revealed differences on matters exclusively privy to them. But perhaps now Bilawal seems to have come of age and can be accepted more willingly by the PPP cadres. Compared to his father who is heaped in myriad scandals and allegations, such acceptance would flow from his having a clean slate and also for being the direct descendent of the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Patently, these are all speculations. But notwithstanding the internal feuding within the family for ascendancy in the party hierarchy, a keen observer of Pakistans misty politics would strongly argue that the leadership of the PPP should not be passed on to a member of the Bhutto family.

Firstly, it would be negation or deviation from the established principle of electing a leader from among the cadres. If the PPP is going to be the family property then its democratic credentials would remain questionable and its legitimacy as the national party would remain clouded.

Secondly, the progeny of Ms Bhutto might not be as competent as were their mother and grandfather. The Bhutto legacy is certainly a cherished and romantic phenomenon for the steadfast Bhuttoite, so called jialas (die-hard fans) and devotees of Bhutto family. Nevertheless, the ground realities of the political turf in Pakistan are, rough, unpredictable and uncharitable.

The raison dêtre for this assertion is that the PPP needs to re-establish its popular image as a party of the masses managed by a brand of leadership that is clean, upright and democratically hoisted in the hierarchy of the party. It would be a tall order for all the three children of Benazir Bhutto to lead PPP at a much younger age when it is faced with monumental challenge of refurbishing its bruised image.

The party needs to motivate and reunite the cadres disillusioned with the corruption of its stalwarts especially Asif Ali Zardari who cannot come clean even if he endeavors to prove himself as an honest person for his whole life.

As for the children of Ms Bhutto, they would always, like their mother, remain vulnerable for their personal safety, and thus restrained from freedom of movement and speech. During the past decade or so, the free movement and open door politicking of the political and religious leaders have come under severe containment and rigorous restrictions.

If Bhutto family is the repository of an unsurpassed fame, immense esteem and eminence, they have foes and adversaries too. It should not be overlooked that four celebrated figures of the Bhutto family were murdered, with the founder of the family hanged through a fake and farcical judicial process.

It would be befitting to allude to the Nehru family that was as much loved and venerated in India as that of Bhutto family in Pakistan. One of the globally known strongest female head of a government, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards in October 1984.

Her assassination was viewed as an act of vengeance against Indira for ordering operation blue star in June 1984, entailing massacre of thousands of Sikhs. Her two sons also subsequently perished. Sanjay Gandhi was killed in a flying accident in 1980. The second Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in Tamil Nadu (May 1991) in a suicide bombing carried out by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam.

It was a sagacious decision on the part of Rajivs widow Sonia Gandhi to remain in the background although she could have become the prime minister of India on the drop of the hat. She was well aware that she could be targeted as well. As such she has remained safe, as well as in a dominant position of leading her party and influencing the government with her decisions.

Rahul Gandhi, the son of late Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi has been kicking around in the political arena to begin with, but was perhaps prevailed upon by his well wishers and more by his mother to not challenge the traditional rivals as the scion of Gandhi family. He seems to have understood the message and is now modestly conducting himself that would be tolerable for both friends and foes. His position as the general secretary of the Indian National Congress and member of Lok Sabha is harmless. But the moment he would aspire for a higher status he could encounter threats to his life.

Politics is rather becoming a tough undertaking and a harrowing ordeal for traditional political families particularly in the third world countries. The people are now more politically conscious and want a free run for everyone to aspire and compete for top slots either within the party or in the government. If the families continue to occupy the parties pinnacle positions, then it stifles the spirit of free contest that is central to a democratic culture.

Unfortunately in several countries around the world, the politics and parties are known by a few individuals who founded the parties and then assume father figure or iconic status. These leaders maintain their overlord-ship until a stupendous shake-up within the party or in the political waters of the country casts them or their family successors away.

It is quite an objective approach by Sanam Bhutto, the younger sister of Benazir to keep away from the quagmires of politics in Pakistan. Perhaps she is not as brave or as ambitious as Benazir was. But understandably, what made her averse to politics is the tragic end of her family members that she does not want for herself.

Curiously, the profile or life sketch of Asifa and Bakhtawar can nowhere be found in chronicles or information channels such as face book, you-tube or Wikipedia or other similar blogs. All the information is either blocked or blacked out for fear of slanderous, mischievous and vicious backlash. We have come across comments in face book between the messengers that are dirty and diabolic and are dished out by culturally dwarfed people.

But while this is a prudent way of escaping the malignant and distasteful interactions, it closes the doors and avenues of wider publicity that are absolutely essential for the politicians and those who wish to tread upon the unpredictable and deceptive field of politics. Yet it depends as to what course one would like to adopt: stay in politics and face odds or steer clear and enjoy a safe private life.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat.

India Complicates the Sir Creek Issue

By Sajjad Shaukat

Renowned Pakistani and Indian media anchors including retired high civil and military officials gathered on December 2, 2012 in New Delhi at a seminar to discuss practical solutions to the bilateral issues like Sir Creek, Siachen, Kashmir dispute etc. under the Aman Ki Asha initiative organised by The Times of India and Pakistans Jang Group. The move was part of the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between both the neighbouring countries to narrow down their differences.

At the same time, India decided to erect a floating fence, anchored by submerged metallic meshes, along the disputed Sir Creek border area with Pakistan. According to Indian media reports, top sources disclosed that the two agencies would be the National Buildings Construction Cooperation (NBCC) which will erect the fence of 75 km of the Creek, while the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) has already started work in rest of the area. The fence is reported to be a gabion box, which has all-weather concertina wires and poles. It is a regular technology used for flood water control and prevention of rock breaking along coasts by the impact of the saline ocean water.

While showing contradictory statements of New Delhi, an Indian official stated, Sir Creek area is characteristic with shallow and slushy water and these boxes would be the best material to be sunk under water considering the difficulty of the terrain. On the other side, some Indian officials pointed out that the Sir Creek area including a particular stretch called harami nala is vulnerable to infiltration and smuggling by Pakistan, adding, A number of instances of the Border Security Force apprehending Pakistani fishermen and trawlers are reported from the Sir Creek area regularlyhence the border guarding force has raised and deployed a special unit called crocodile commandos in the marshy territory.

However, under this ambivalent strategy, any such attempt made by India would lead to misunderstandings between Islamabad and New Delhi because Pakistans position is that the Sir Creek is sovereign part of its territory.

Sir Creek which opens into the Arabian Sea, and sits in the Rann of Kutch marshlands is the 96 km narrow piece of water between Indias Gujarat state and Pakistans Sindh province. The major dispute between India and Pakistan over Sir Creek is about understanding of the maritime boundary between Kutch and Sindh.

Although India and Pakistan had surveyed the 100-km Sir Creek estuary in 2007, yet Indian delaying tactics frustrated Islamabads attempts to demarcate the maritime boundary between the two countries. This has resulted into the detention of hundreds of Pakistani fishermen, who unintentionally strayed across the poorly-demarcated territorial waters. India illegitimately claims that the Creek boundary which opens up to the Arabian Sea should be in the middle of the estuary, while Islamabad legitimately argues, it should lie on the southeast bank.

Since 1969, many rounds of talks between India and Pakistn were conducted on Sir Creek issue, relating various steps such as allocation, demarcation and administration. But no breakthrough occurred due to Indian tough stand. India has proposed that the maritime boundary could be demarcated first, as per the provisions of Technical Aspects of Law of Sea (TALOS). However, Pakistan has staunchly refused the proposal on the grounds that the dispute should be resolved first. Islamabad has also proposed for international arbitration, which New Delhi has flatly refused.

We cannot see Indian delaying tactics regarding the solution of Sir Creek dispute in isolation because it has always remained part of other related issues between India and Pakistan. In this regard, India suspended the composite dialogue in 2008 under the pretext of Mumbai terror attacks which were in fact, arranged by its secret agency RAW in connivance with Indian home-grown terrorists.

India and Pakistan resumed the new phase of parleys in March, 2009. But every time, prime ministers and foreign ministers of both the countries have ended their meetings with issuance of positive notes, and vowed for the solution of all issues, but the same failed without producing tangible results.

Nevertheless, on April 8, Pakistans President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who met in New Delhi also remarked that the two countries are willing to find pragmatic solutions to various issues like terrorism, Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage, water etc. In the recent past, both the leaders also met in Tehran and agreed to settle all the outstanding disputes between Pakistan and India.

Meanwhile, while addressing rallies in Kutch and North Gujarat, Chief Minister of Gujrat Narendra sharpened his attack on Prime Minister Singh on December 13, alleging that he had agreed with Pakistans president to resolve the issue of Sir Creek which would be given to Pakistan, but, Prime Ministers Office termed these allegations as baseless.

In fact, India is emphasising more on CBMs than to pay attention for the settlement of real issues which also include Sir Creek and particularly thorny dispute of Kashmir. It is only interested in promotion of trade, friendly exchanges, tourism, relaxation of visas etc. Implementation of these agreements has started. In this context, Islamabad also signed a number of trade agreemens with New Delhi, which allowed India exports of mutltiple items across the Wagah border. It also granted India Most Favoured Nation status, which permits trade in almost everything.

It is notable that a meeting in relation to military to military CBMs held in Lahore from 23-25 September 2012 in which top retired officials of Indian and Pakistani armed forces participated. They gave positive suggestions for the settlement of all issues between both the countries including Sir Creek dispute.

Besides, at conference in Islamabad, organised by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) with India Pakistan Soldiers Initiative for Peace (IPSIP), former vice chief of the Indian Army, Lt. Gen. Moti Dhar, remarked on November 22, While the Kashmir issue is very complicated, I am confident that the other three issues: Siachen, Sir Creek and water issues will be resolved soon.

But all these CBMs and agreements cannot succeed in future owing to Indian duplicity and shrewd diplomacy. Notably, on November 10, 2011, the then Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed in Maldives to improve their bilateral relations by resolving all issues. Quite contrarily, two days after that meeting, Singh stated, I left Gilani in no doubt that if public opinion in India is not satisfied that justice is being done to those responsible to the barbarous attack of Mumbai, it would not be possible to move forward with the peace process. On the other side, Pakistans Interior Minister Rehman Malik said about Pakistans position that Ajmal Kasab, the lone survivor of the 26/11 terror-incident is a non-state actorshould be hanged, so should perpetrators of the Samjhauta Express blast.

During his visit to Islamabad, Indias External Affairs Minister S M Krishna in September, 2012, also showed great optimism regarding the solution of all major issues with Pakistan. But like Singh, quite contrarily, he warned that in case of Mumbai-like incident; relations between the two countries could lapse.

Notably, Indian adamant stand during Pak-India dialogue is not without some sinister designs. It has only been employing delaying tactics to settle any real issues with Pakistan. Therefore, New Delhi has rejected a number of positive suggestions of Islamabad about the solution various disputes like Kashmir, Wullar Barrage, water, demilitarisation of Siachen Glacier and demarcation of Sir Creek. It is only fulfilling formality through the new phase of talks, especially by showing to the US-led international community that it seeks to resolve all issues with Islamabad.

In this context, keeping in mind anti-Pakistan designs, Indian rulers have always tried to make the longstanding issues, intricate and complex, as they wanted to discuss only selective issues like trade and CMBs.

At this juncture, while both the countries have accelerated confidence-building measures in accordance with the wishes of New Delhi, Indian decision to erect a floating fence, along the disputed border of Sir Creek as part of its double game will further complicate this issue.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.

Punjab Forum asks int’l HR bodies to push Pakistan for KBD contruction

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Punjab Forum on Sunday asked the international human rights organisations to push Pakistan for early construction of Kalabagh dam (KBD) as delay is threatening the whole population of the country.

It appreciated the landmark decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) in which it ordered the federal government to construct Kalabagh dam (KBD) terming it in the best interest of country and generations to come.

As per the observation of the Chief Justice LHC, Justice Umer Ata Bandial, who has emerged as hero of the people of Pakistan, the KBD can be renamed as Federation Dam, said Baig Raj, President of the Punjab Forum.

If name of a province can be renamed, the name of a dam critical for national survival can also be renamed, he noted.

Speaking at a meeting to review current situation, he expressed disappointment over statements of federal ministers against the LHC decision which indicate that the federal government is too much focused on politics and it will never abide by the decision.

Baig Raj said that Parliament has no respect for human rights which is contrary to their claims; he said adding that political parties which are against the KBD will lose public support in the upcoming elections in certain critical constituencies.

He said that time has come when provincial governments and so-called nationalists of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa and Sindh should realise that nothing can save them from remaining vulnerable to floods and becoming a desert if KBD is not built. A referendum is the two provinces can expose the claims of nationalists, he said.

Baig Raj said that patriot elements need to educate masses on the pros and cons of KBD mired in intense political controversy since decades, remove the cobwebs of ignorance, and save 200 million people from the hunger, thirst and poverty.

The federal government is constitutionally bound to start the project in the light of the Council of Common Interests decisions taken in 1991 and 1998; he said adding that lack of consensus on KBD amounts to playing with the future of Pakistan.

The politicians and pseudo-intellectuals who are opposing the dam are doing a great disservice to Pakistan and its people irrespective of where they live or to which province they belong, he observed.

Baig Raj said that prosperity of Pakistan is tied to KBD therefore all positive forces should join hands to tackle political and technical concerns of the project keeping national interest supreme.

The scarcity of water and power had affected the quality and security of life of the citizens which is a violation of their fundamental rights; therefore government should take immediate decision to improve the situation, he demanded.

Baig Raj said that anti-Pakistan lobbies have deliberately converted a purely technical and humanitarian issue into a political problem to harm country which worries of the people are unfounded.

Lashing out at the governments strategy of avoiding water sector development in order to save the federation from political pressures will eventually destroy the federation, he warned.

The government and its allies have no viable alternative to KBD ditched without a parliamentary debate which is making the problem more complex.

He said that USAID has been claiming to help Pakistan overcome energy crisis, they should try to influence ANP for the construction of KBD. He lauded to Pakistan Saraiki Party for supporting KBD.

Punjab Forum seek referendum in KPK over Kalabagh dam

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Punjab Forum on Wednesday said Pakistans survival is tied to early construction of Kalabagh dam (KBD) which is being delayed in the name of provincial harmony.

There should be some limits for so called inter-provincial harmony which is yet to be defined in clear terms, it said.

Mega power projects have been delayed due to reservations of international lenders while country continues to face worst load shedding and water crisis which is putting future of Pakistan at stake, said Baig Raj, President Punjab Forum.

We urgently need KBD, the most feasible power generation and water storage facility which is being ignored by the successive governments to keep some politicians happy, he added.

He said that energy and water crisis can only be resolved by constructing KBD; the most important and most politicalised and ill-fated project.

All the national and international experts have termed KBD one of the most feasible project but those on the top dont want to listen about it which amounts to sacrificing national interests for power, he added.

Baig Raj said that ruling coalition is focused on taking all coalition partners and some opposition leaders on-board which may be strengthening the democratic process but the policy is weakening Pakistan.

Reasons behind increasing poverty, hunger, crimes, reduced agricultural output, brain drain, flight of capital and shifting of industrial units to other countries include insufficient electricity and deficiency of irrigation water, he informed.

Those who are resisting the project are doing great disservice to country on the whims of foreign powers that want to see Pakistan as a failed state.

President of the Punjab Forum said that he dam would not benefit Punjab alone; it would also eradicate poverty from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and help boost output of Sindh.

A referendum in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the issue of dam will expose the claims of so called nationalists who are playing with an issue which is matter of life and death for 180 million people, he demanded.

It is neither technical nor political issue, rather it is issue relating to humanity and national survival.

He said that Pakistan cannot reach consensus to make a dam while India is in process of making hundreds of dams, adding that we should not allow the issue to cost the country and generations to come.

We will have no future if politicians continue to prefer personal welfare over national interests resulting in destructive consequences.

Enemy nations want to destroy Pakistan not through bullets but economically.

Winter threatens thousands in affected areas

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) on Wednesday warned that onset of winter will pose new challenges for flood-affected people as the issues remain on the horizon despite all the efforts.

Weather and issues like sanitation has placed tens of thousands of people, including women and children, at risk from disease in camps, said Chairman PRCS Major General (Retd) Ch. Muhammad Nawaz Khan.

Talking to journalists here after concluding visit of flood-affected areas of Sindh; he said that he is extremely worried about expected rise in water-borne and mosquito-borne diseases, with children among the most vulnerable.

He said that vast tracts remained submerged in Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab where relief efforts are yet to be initiated. If issues were not tackled in a quick and effective manner, it could lead to serious multiple problems, he warned.

Chairman PRCS Maj. Gen. (Retd) Ch. Muhammad Nawaz Khan said that said that we have decided in principle to continue relief efforts during Eid holidays for which the holidays of field staff have been cancelled.

He said that it will be extremely unfortunate for the children and babies to now succumb to disease or harsh weather during wintertime.

We need blankets and shelters to save effected people from bite of weather which we see as most urgent problem among all the issues, he underlined.

Ch. Muhammad Nawaz Khan said that PRCS has arranged eight water filtration plants providing one hundred and fifty thousand litres of clean drinking water to needy.

Moreover, construction of six thousand shelters and one thousand toilets is underway in Sindh while twenty mobile health units are providing medical cover.

We will do best to preventable tragedies, however, humanitarian assistance remains low while some relief items stocks are depleted which can trigger a crisis, he warned.

Stressing need for more coordinated efforts, he said that we need to do something urgently to avoid deaths among children and adults during cold.

Kashmiris being deprived of fundamental rights

Srinagar, MTT News Desk: Senior leader of APHC (M) and Jammu and Kashmir Peoples League, Mukhtar Ahmad Waza, has said that the people of Kashmir have been deprived of their birthright to self-determination for the last several decades.

Mukhtar Waza, while addressing Friday Prayers at Jamia Masjid, Aishmuqam, said that the right to self-determination was a fundamental principle of human rights law and its universal acceptance had made it a cornerstone right of the United Nations system.

He said that the United Nations Security Council had passed various resolutions on Kashmir that called for a free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices to allow Kashmiris to determine their future by themselves but they were being deprived of this fundamental right from last 64 years, during which lakhs of Innocent Kashmiri people laid these precious lives, thousands were torchered in intragration centers, Kashmiri young girls were reaped resulting greave human rights violations in the valley and very recently thousands of unmarked graves were found in the valley that itself are evidences of the human rights violations done by the Indian troops and other agencies of Indian Government.

He said that the people of Kashmir still wait for the implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir. He said it is high time for the international community particularly the Human Rights Council to play due role to expedite the early and peaceful resolutions of the dispute.

He said apart from the basic right, right to self determination , Government of India is looting natural recourses of valley and people of Jammu and Kashmir are facing acute shortage of electricity and other things.

He said that NHPC is behaving like East India Company in the valley as they valleys Natural recourses, water can generate more than 25000 MWA of electricity that we can sell and also can feed the state free of cost but due to Sindh-Tahas water treaty Kashmiris are also not to allow use this basic right and hence Kashmir remains as it was before 65 years in every aspect.

He said that government of Indian under a well planned strategy, aggression in every field like education, economy, and culture and Kashmiris are distanced from their own culture and education.

He appealed Indian and Pakistan to kick off a result dialogue process and include Kashmiri people in the process for the amicable settlement of Kashmir Issue.
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Remembering the past – 12th May 07 & MQM


Source: http://www.markthetruth.com

By Nadia Khan

On 12th May 2007 with the help of press & electronic media, the real face of MQM was exposed. Some analysts say that PTI Chairman, Imran Khan’s unsuccessful efforts to try Altaf Hussain in British courts under cross-countries terrorism charges could have barely exposed him than the collective efforts of media, with courageous coverage, had brought in limelight the way Karachi based ethnic group, MQM operates & manhandles its political opponents.

Upon the orders of an army dictator, with complete support from intelligence agencies -once MQM used to blame those for all evils- blocking the arrival of Chief Justice Ifthikhar Chaudhry at Karachi airport had resulted huge political damage for Altaf Hussain. To minimize the damage, MQM had crafted a video presentation…

Read full article at: http://www.markthetruth.com/pakistani-politics/29-remembering-the-past-12th-may-07-a-mqm.html



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