Here we go again, again

September 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

The current war of words between the U.S. and Pakistani governments is just the latest installment of the soap opera that is U.S.-Pakistani relations. The pattern is typical, predictable, and actually quite stable: the U.S. makes demands on Pakistan; Pakistan rebuffs the demand; the U.S. responds with “evidence” of Pakistani complicity in fomenting terror (usually in Afghanistan but also in India); Pakistan negotiates on the initial demand, giving in to some of what the U.S. wants but still rejecting some part of the demand.

So too is the case with the latest “revelation” last week by Admiral Mike Mullen and other U.S. officials that the Pakistani government is actively sponsoring terror in Afghanistan via the Haqqani clan. According to this formulation, the Haqqani network is a state asset that is activated by the ISI in order to maintain leverage against Afghanistan and, by extension, the United States. That is seemingly explosive stuff, but predictably, as early as the next day, we were seeing statements by U.S. and Pakistani officials that they were still interested in “working with each other.” And today, we see that the U.S. State Department spokesperson has stated that “State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said that the US government was committed to its relationship with Pakistan and wants to work constructively with Pakistan on the Haqqani Network.” Ah yes, “work constructively” – that lovely phrase that hides the ugliness of just how much pressure is applied to other countries in order to coerce them to do the bidding of the U.S.

On the same day, Republican Senator Mark Kirk did his part to play the role of bad cop by stating that the U.S. government should “cut military assistance to Pakistan in the light of the allegations made by the US administration and military about Pakistan having links with the Haqqani network.” We have lost count of the number of times that Some Important Person or the other has called for cuts to U.S. aid to Pakistan in the last couple of years. It’s amusing to note that despite such threats and protests, the aid continues to flow, mostly in very generous proportions (Pakistan still remains the second largest recipient of U.S. aid, after Israel). Maybe, just maybe, there’s something in it for the Americans?

All of this is certainly not to minimize the sheer venality and, frankly, stupidity of the Pakistan establishment, in its attempt to manipulate various domestic and foreign actors and try to maintain leverage against the U.S. The Army, the ISI, Zardari and the other civilian politicians – they would sell their own mothers down the river before they would do what’s right for the Pakistani people. And sadly it’s the Pakistani people who continue to pay the price of this absurd but very costly soap opera.


Pentagon releases latest security assessment, prepares for perpetual war

September 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Pentagon recently released its annual assessment of global security, and the report predicts an era of perpetual war in which peace is the exception rather than the norm. Of course, unsaid in the report is that the cause of war is the Pentagon itself. Instead, war is framed as the means by which to achieve peace. Somewhere, George Orwell is weeping.

An excellent analysis of the report and its coverage in the Washington Post is at Keating’s Desk. Do check out the full entry, it’s worth the read.



Osama bin Laden in English

May 10, 2011 § 3 Comments

This is the tragedy of Pakistan. It has taken the government nearly two weeks to address the country about the nighttime American raid deep inside Pakistani territory that killed al-Qaeda’s chief, Osama bin Laden. And, when it finally did do so —after speaking to the American media– it did it in English. Start at 6:21:

The point is driven home by local coverage of the parliamentary speech by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani: The chyrons (text) are entirely in Urdu; the speech is entirely in English. It’s a visual depiction of the the alienation between the rulers and those they rule. It’s also a testament to the servile obsequiousness that has become the hallmark of our government vis-a-vis the Americans. For highlights of the speech, you can see this video.

All this, while the Army was putting out a contrary message: General Kayani called the American operation a “misadventure” and warned the Americans against such future escapades. This is the military that’s actually responsible for the massive incompetence or more likely, collusion, that kept bin Laden in Abbottabad.

Politicians of all stripes are calling for the resignation of the President and the Prime Minister with little said about what is actually the Army’s mess. This includes the former Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and cricketeer turned politician, Imran Khan. Will another civilian government be unable to complete its term? Is there a coup in the making? The Army is good at making lemonade out of lemons.

Finally, here’s a link roundup, in no particular order, on OBL:

Share your links and suggestions in the comments.

Apology to Bangladeshis

March 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Today is Bangladeshi Independence Day, and it seems appropriate to repost an apology letter to Bangladeshis that Action for a Progressive Pakistan issued last year on May 25, 2009:

We apologise

On May 13, the government of Bangladesh demanded an unconditional apology from the government of Pakistan for war crimes committed during the 1971 army action in what was then East Pakistan. The Pakistani government’s response was to dismiss the demand, telling Bangladesh to “let bygones be bygones.” This was not the first time this demand was made, nor the first time it was dismissed with such flippancy by Pakistan.

Between March 25-26, 1971 — the start of the military offensive — and the signing of the instrument of surrender on December 16, 1971, the Pakistani army engaged in what essentially amounted to genocide against its own citizens for daring to demand that their electoral writ be implemented. The army’s atrocities were both indiscriminate and targeted — the rape of countless Bengali women, the killing of hundreds of Bengali intellectuals and students, and the senseless murder of hundreds of thousands of ordinary Bengalis and indigenous people, besides looting and pillaging on an unprecedented scale.

Nearly forty years on, even a reliable estimate of the number of people killed by the army isn’t possible because mass graves continue to be unearthed, a powerful testimony to the horror that was perpetrated on our people. This is the horror, which the Pakistani army continues to cravenly refuse to acknowledge.

The sole recognition of these atrocities — the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report, which was an official government of Pakistan panel — was ignominiously suppressed by then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and successive governments, and declassified only in December 2000.

The outrageous dismissal of Bangladesh’s demand by the Pakistani foreign office — “let bygones be bygones” — is a shameful reflection of Pakistan’s constructed amnesia over the horrific actions of its army and its political leadership. Not only has there never been any move on the part of the Pakistani state to apologise to Bangladesh, there has not even been any sustained effort by citizens’ groups to pressure the government to publicly acknowledge the truth.

As Pakistanis, we find this unconscionable. We find it unconscionable that the Pakistani army raped, killed and pillaged our brothers and sisters in East Pakistan in 1971. We find it unconscionable that the Pakistani state has steadfastly refused to acknowledge these atrocities for the past 38 years, leave alone hold those responsible for them accountable as suggested by its own chief justice in the state commissioned inquiry. We reject the Pakistani state and army’s claim that these atrocities were committed in our name.

Today, as we stand at the brink of yet another army action aimed at our own people, at the brink of another human catastrophe brought about by and for the same interests and institutions, namely the Pakistani military, we remember 1971. We demand that our state acknowledge and apologise for the actions of its army, punish those responsible for the atrocities (and named in the HR Commission’s report) and pay reparations for the extensive infra-structural damage and looting to Bangladesh. Only through such expiation can we — as a people and a state — heal the wounds of the past and hope to build a new partnership with the people of Bangladesh.

Help Internally Displaced Persons in Pakistan

June 16, 2009 § 11 Comments

Dear Friends,

Action for a Progressive Pakistan has joined with SINGH Foundation to help Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Pakistan, now numbering almost 4 million, who are fleeing Taliban and military violence in the Swat region. SINGH FOUNDATION WILL MATCH EVERY DONATION DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR UNTIL WE REACH OUR TARGET OF $10,000! Your donations are tax-deductible to the fullest legal extent.

All proceeds will go to Sungi Development Foundation, a progressive community-based development organization that has been active in NWFP in Pakistan for more than a decade.

To donate by PayPal, click here.

To donate by check:
Make the check out to “SINGH Foundation” (please put “APP Swat Relief” in the memo)
Mail checks to:
SINGH Foundation
c/o Ramakrishnan
50 West 97th St., #15T,
New York NY 10025

Questions? Email us at

THANKS for your support of humanitarian relief in Swat.

In solidarity,

Action for a Progressive Pakistan

SINGH Foundation:


Reading on the New Refugees

June 4, 2009 § Leave a comment

A Weaver’s Welcome on the new refugees in Pakistan and how Pakistanis are coping. The author, Kathy Kelly, who also organized Voices in the Wilderness to end UN sanctions on Iraq, traveled with a delegation to Pakistan recently.  An excerpt of her article:

The trauma endured by the refugees is overwhelming. Yet, numerous individuals and groups have swiftly extended hospitality and emergency aid. We visited a Sikh community, in Hassan Abdal, which has taken in hundreds of Sikhs, housing them inside a large and very famous shrine. Nearby, we stayed for several days in Tarbela, where families in very simple dwellings have welcomed their relatives. The townspeople quietly took up a collection to support the refugee families….

Generosity in the face of such massive displacement and suffering is evident everywhere we go. But Pakistan needs help on a much larger scale. The U.S. has pledged 100 million dollars toward relief efforts. Two other disclosures about money budgeted for Pakistan should be considered in light of the unbearable burdens borne by close to two million new refugees. First is the decision to spend 800 million dollars to renovate and expand the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and to upgrade security at U.S. consular offices elsewhere in the country….

Read the full piece here.

Why Antiwar (and a Plan to End Militancy)

May 13, 2009 § 2 Comments

After the recent scrapping of the “peace deal” in Malakand, the Pakistani military launched a massive offensive in order to clear Swat, Dir, and Buner of the Taliban. As a direct result, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been forced to flee the war zones (with independent reports also indicating that many thousands are still trapped in the areas under bombardment).

All this has triggered serious, protracted debate over the legitimacy of the war. Below is an email written by an APP member to the People’s Resistance listserv, a Karachi-based group that led civil society efforts during the lawyers’ movement. It comes in response to emails sent by the war’s reluctant advocates, who argue that the antiwar argument is “impractical,” as the State must today choose between (1) peace deals that embolden the forces of reaction, and (2) a war that might well claim the lives of thousands of civilians.

dear a—–, f—–, others,

different people have been having this back-and-forth for months and months now, so i don’t want to simply repeat what’s already been said enough. but i understand that you two, in particular, are asking for direct, constructive answers, so let me do my best.

i apologize for the length. as you will see if you reach the end, i got a bit carried away.
« Read the rest of this entry »

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