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Posts tagged with: US

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy wins an Emmy for Pakistan

In a very positive development, the renowned New York Times documentary film maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy recieved an International Emmy Award in the Current Affairs category last night at the Frederick P. Rose Hall of Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York for her documentary “Pakistan – Children of the Taliban”. Where she had revealed how the Pakistani Taliban are recruiting increasingly younger fighters from small madrassas in deprived neighborhoods to carry out deadly attacks both inside and outside Pakistan.

The controversial video brought to the forefront some very touching issues, it at times exposed some sensitive people to an extent, that the initial viewing held a few years back in Karachi was limited to a very select audience, following the publication on PBS FrontLine there are restrictions on the video preventing it to be streamed into Pakistan due to the sheer threat it can pose to the people Sharmeen had interviewed during her documentary

In a very touching moment, the day before, her father died of cancer in the UK where he was undergoing chemotherapy. Her message following the news of the death of her father on facebook, posted practically 10 hours before the Emmy award ceremony, where she was in attendance, read “Only the good die young- you always said aba…love you” and later following the victory she dedicated her emmy to her father by saying “Tonight’s Emmy win is dedicated to you aba…

We can only be supportive to her as a nation, mindful of the mixed emotions which she must be going through at this very emotional moment. Sharmeen, Pakistan is damn heck proud of you, and I am sure it would be a moment of pride for your father as he smiles down at you from the heavens above. May this also inspire us all to go forth despite all the odd with the achievements you achieve one after another. Thank you for bringing one proud moment for Pakistan


Breaking point?

Guest Post by Faisal Kapadia from DeadpanThoughts

As Muslims, we are often informed by the local and international media of our innate ability to react emotionally to anything concerning religion. They say we react too aggressively to any remarks on our faith or system of values and have knee-jerk reactions to issues that can be solved through dialog.

Yet, we have been openly harassed since 9/11 world over, for having a beard that is too long or for wearing a veil. 9/11 was a tragedy which should never have happened, thousands of lives were lost. It is also the tragedy that led to religious and cultural intolerance. Muslims living in the US, Canada and even Europe live in perpetual paranoia, with some resorting to non-disclosure of their culture and religion in the desperate attempts to blend in, to find refuge from the scrutiny in their adopted countries.
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Op-ed: For whom the drone tolls

A question lurks within the mind of every Pakistani: where are we headed with this war on/of terror? Is Pakistan a simple ‘franchisee’ or are we developing our own long-term interests in this war? The strategy to hit out at selected al Qaeda targets unfolded in early 2007 when our government offered facilities for launching drones remotely controlled by joystick operators in distant lands. The decision to kill was left in the hands of ‘informers’ on the ground who planted homing devices near houses that needed to be bombed. A menacing ‘whistle’ precedes the actual impact, many running for cover not knowing ‘for whom the bell tolls’, leaving many unintentionally dead and others maimed for life. So-called ‘collateral damage’, has been a sterile term. Women and children wailing and shrieking, mourners lifting their dead. The psychological impact has swung any remnant of anti-al Qaeda sentiment into anti-military and anti-US anger.
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Who is The Terrorist?

Guest Blog by Zeeshan Khan

She crouches in a corner of her humble abode
Fear writ large in her light brown eyes
In her heart she cries out to the world,
“How much more will we be terrorized?”

There has to be something about the term ‘Terrorism’ which makes it the most misused term in recent history in my opinion. Whoever feels like it, picks it up, chews it into a thousand particles and spits it out to be then picked up by another and abused likewise.

Many debate and articulate what “terror” means? Can we, with our safety-bubble lifestyles even come close to understanding what it means? You switch to the news everyday, witness scenes of “blood curdling horror” and human limbs scattered on pavements like nonentities. You shake your head in pity then switch the channel to find out who is the latest “American idol”!

Ask the little girl crouched in a corner, palms pressed tight against her ears to muffle out the screams and firing. Ask the young woman who stares defenselessly at the approaching group of bulky men. Ask those people what terror is, who jumped off the World Trade Center on the ill-fated morning of September 11. My point is that without knowing the essence of this all-encompassing term, great powers, intellectual giants and so-called religious bodies alike use it to promote their own vested interests.
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Zardari, an American National but Straight & Depressed

The National Names Database has some interesting facts about our President, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari. It appears that he may have US Citizenship / Nationality?

I wonder if dual citizenship is permissible while holding office of the President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, as the issue of the OATH is important, when you take Oath to be US Citizen you swear to protect US interest and when you take Oath as President you take Oath to protect Pakistan’s interest first so there might be a conflict of interest here. Legally the US Oath will stand before the President’s Oath as that was taken in 2002.

The other hallmarks of his profile are more or less spot on

  • High School: Saint Patrick’s High School, Karachi, Pakistan
  • President of Pakistan (6-Sep-2008 to present)
  • Member of Pakistani Parliament Senate (1993-99)
  • Pakistani Minister Environment (1993-96)
  • Blackmail charged and imprisoned 1990, charges dropped 1993
  • Corruption imprisoned 1997-2004
  • Murder of Murtaza Bhutto, charged 1996
  • Tortured
  • Risk Factors: Diabetes, Depression

We all know that he was chucked out of Petaro and never made it to the so called anonymous Business School IN London, the tenure as Minister of Enviromnet we all know was enough of EPA threat to blackmail companies into his corner, the corruption charges he still continues to dodge

But I was humored to read that the NNDB very categorically lists his sexual orientation as “Straight” [?]  The Risk Factors being Diabetes is not a big issue I hope he is managing his blood glusoce but little can be done to undo Mental depression which should be a concern for the populace that he rules over.

The link to his profile on NNDB is HERE, while the story credit must go out to The News and PKPolitics for leading up to this story

UPDATE: The NNDB changed the Nationality to Pakistan, a few hours after the screen capture was taken


Death of Collective Wisdom

Is there a competition going on in Pakistan between institution to earn shame and notoriety for their nation?” my colleague asked me casually while we were having some drinks and watching a news television. “We are on that path for last 40years”, I answered stubbornly. Can there anything such shameful to force you behave that stubborn over your national pride? There is, hold your breath, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, the top body of media and custodian of ‘freedom of speech and civil liberties’, in a press release issued by its Secretary General, Mr Shamsul Islam Naz, has “officially’ appreciated the blocking of the Facebook Website.

This was followed by the Lahore High Court orders of a blanket ban on entire social media website depriving 2.5 million Pakistani’s an access to major internet services. Just because there was ‘one page’ out of millions, set by a silly American kid to make cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The same could have been blocked instead, but things work differently in Pakistan. A decision has to be popular rather than sane, the illiterate bearded men on streets with sticks and guns ought to be satisfied.
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Anti-Americansim: Time to Make it Unfashionable

When I first learned that the suspect in an incident to set off a bomb in Times Square was Pakistani, my reaction was somewhat jaded. Most of us Pakistanis living here in the United States have become accustomed to the unflattering amount of attention given to our country of birth. Perhaps as a sign of the times, I have found that I no longer need to pronounce “Pakistan” in an American accent. Everyone here knows Pakistan well – and not for reasons that elicit pride.

Nonetheless, many of us were surprised to read about the background profile of Faisal Shahzad. He was young, educated and socially assimilated. For someone who had taken advantage of a standard of living and educational opportunities afforded to very few people in the world, he seemed like an unlikely candidate to bite the same hand that fed him.

Unfortunately, if Faisal Shahzad wanted to find legitimacy in his actions, he did not need to go to the far flung tribal regions of Pakistan to find it. In each visit back home to Pakistan, I have found that anti-American sentiment has become increasingly embedded, part and parcel, in the mainstream culture of Pakistan. We propagate anti-Americanism at dinner tables and casually sprout conspiracy theories, couched in a mixture of facts and urban myth, that blame even the load shedding on the CIA. Blaming our ills on the Americans has become fashionable.
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Drone Attacks in Pakistan have a 2.5% strike rate against Al-Qaeda

The Pakistan Body Count, a website run and managed by Zeeshan Usmani, a professor at Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute has documented over 124 drone attacks since 2004 and as per the last documented attack on May 11th 2010 in Miranshah shows that only 30 Al-Qaeda operatives have perished in the last six years but more significantly 1266 civilians were killed and over 445 civilians were left injured to run a tally of 2.5% as the strike rate against the Al-Qaeda operatives.

A strike rate of 2.5% is a failure by any measure, its not a statistical probability, or the result of a mathematical equation analysis but actually 97.5% innocent people have lost their lives in lieu of a high flying sophisticated drone targeting an Al-Qaeda terrorist, and by coincidence they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time to have been killed instead. I believe such targeting success rate can at best be adjudicated to handing a blind man an automatic machine gun hoping to get lucky in killing people around him, even then I predict he will have a higher strike rate than these remote controlled drones.
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Ex-CIA official reveals Waterboarding Torture & the Iraq Invasion

In a video interview John Kiriakou, a former CIA counter-terrorism official reveals new information about the capture and torture of “high-value” detainee Abu Zubaydah. Abu Zubaydah was arrested in March 2002 in a joint operation with the CIA, FBI and Pakistani intelligence agents from Faisalabad, according to intelligence reports from the Bush administration who had wrongly tagged him as the No. 3 person in al-Qaeda and one of the planners of the 9/11 attacks.

Government documents declassified in the years showed that Zubaydah, in addition to being subjected to other brutal torture techniques [also reported by FBI Interrogator Ali Soufan during his congressional testimony in 2009], was waterboarded at least 83 times in a single month. There is to-date, according to Kiriakou no concrete evidence of Zubaydah’s direct involvement in the execution and planning of 9/11.
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Pictures of Protest in Karachi – Against Civilian Killings In Khyber

On Saturday April 10, the Pakistani army bombed villages in Tirah in the Khyber Agency and killed more than 70 civilians. While the military denied the incident, local government confirmed compensation payments for civilian deaths and injuries. “All of those killed were civilians, 100% innocent,” said Ikramullah Jan Kukikhel, a tribal elder. He further elaborates that a house with women, children and elderly was bombed and as villagers rushed to rescue those caught in the rubble, they were also attacked, killing many more.

Given the lack of transparency surrounding the many operations it is safe to say this is not the first time civilians have been killed by the army. The media has, in some cases, been strong-armed into publishing only ISPR approved stories, while independent news from the conflict regions has been systematically suppressed. Civilian deaths and army’s conduct are not reported or questioned in the mainstream media at all. Stories criticizing the army are virtually non-existent because the army does not permit them. After the bombing in Tirah, a BBC reporter was not allowed access to the wounded brought to Peshawar’s Hayatabad Hospital.

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What’s a Meridian Jet doing in Karachi?

Last week while traveling to Islamabad for a personal visit I noticed this jet parked on the tarmac near the PAF sheds, little did I think again about the airplane until I read a blog post by Omar R Quraishi who also happened to notice this plane while he was jet-setting to Lahore for a day, upon his return he put his journalistic talents to use and Googled out some concerning facts.

Meridian Airways previously known as Air Charter Express is being used by British Ministry of Defense from RAF Lyneham base and may also be engaged in flying to Afghanistan as well. With extensive involvement of the US and British forces in Pakistan, it might be as simple as a routine trip to Pakistan shipping supplies to the American forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But Omar logically deduced some similarity with CIA covert rendition program to say

The plane looked very similar to other aircraft that have appeared in news stories every now and then on the whole so-called ‘rendition’ programme in which the CIA uses private aircraft to ferry prisoners to various countries where they are then interrogated so that US laws regarding prisoners and torture don’t have any bearing.

We know for a fact that the US has in the past smuggled out a number of Pakistani nationals out of Pakistan, so I too would be worried as to why this jet is being operated in Pakistan it being suspicious parked behind three PAF Jets at the Karachi Airport, Omar Quraishi rightfully questions

Who came on it? What was it being used for? And how many such planes use Karachi airport in a week? A month? We are taxpayers and our taxes go to pay for installations such as Karachi airport and for the salaries of the air traffic controllers who interact and guide these planes to land — surely we need to know –who is going to tell us this?


US are Collateral Murderers in Iraq … and they wouldn’t do that in Pakistan, will they?

Yesterday [April 5th 2010] WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff.

The video, shot from an Apache helicopter, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded, left to be taken to a local hospital

One of the helicopter crew is then heard saying that one of the group is shooting shooting back. But the video shows there is no shooting or even pointing of weapons. The men are standing around, apparently unperturbed. The lead helicopter, using the moniker Crazyhorse, opens fire. “Hahaha. I hit ’em,” shouts one of the American crew. Another responds a little later: “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards.” The ruthless murders then open fire on a van that drives up to pick up a wounded. [Transcript]
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USAID’s Global Pulse 2010

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is sponsoring the Global Pulse 2010, a 3-day, online collaboration event, that will bring together individual socially-engaged participants and organizations from around the world.

Global Pulse 2010 is an online “virtual” event. Registration is free and participants can join from any computer with internet access. The event has already live, to span a period of 3 days, and is hosted online using IBM’s award-winning Innovation JamTM solution. “Similar to the collaborative spirit of musical ‘jamming,’ participants gather online to collaborate on ideas around real societal issues, build on each other’s contributions, find shared solutions — or simply connect.
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Why perceptions matter more than grievances: Conspiracy theories, our Achilles heal?

Conspiracy theories are making a big splash in both the domestic and international media. While we in Pakistan are often angered as to how Pakistan is portrayed in the Western media, the same people seem to be supporting various individuals and right wing parties who are also gaining much traction with foreign correspondents in Pakistan.

Recent articles in the NY Times, Times and The Guardian all highlight some of the more outlandish (outlandish for me, common sense to others) arguments to explain the various challenges that the country faces. These articles and conspiracy theorist skeptics recognize that by offering elaborate and complex explanations for Pakistan’s miseries politicians, generals, media personalities etc are trying to deflect responsibility onto un-provable external actors. Not only are they deferring any questions that may be linked to their contribution to the nations state of affairs, by making statements such as “external actors cannot be ruled out” the narrative of the Pakistani state being constantly under siege is maintained.
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Rendezvous with Farah Pandith, US Special Rep for Muslim Communities

Last week a few “new media” journalists were invited by the US Consulate to an exclusive meeting with Farah Pandith, who has been recently appointed as the U.S Special Representative for Muslim Communities. The usual bloggeratti excitement was held at bay since the invitation card had a blazing “No-Camera” policy, which had most of us worried concerned about this concerning hush-hush meeting but on the contrary, when we reached the destination we were told it was only a deterrent to avoid the TV &/or Press media fan-fare as the consulate preferred to have a close face-to-face uninterrupted one-on-one discussion, else the meeting was blogable, tweetable and pictures were definitely welcome, immediately putting the anxious team of bloggers at ease and right in their own comfort zone, out came the iPhones, up came the blackberries, twitter clients were fired up and we were ready raring to go.

The guest list had some 10-odd new media journalists, a few from Dawn, of which I had the honor to finally meet Huma Yousuf, the list of bloggers, (or blAAgers [sic]) was the usual fun bunch, ranging from Faisal Kapadia of Deadpanthoughts, Ammar Yasir of Ronin and Tea Break fame, Sana Saleem of Mystified Justice & Dawn Blog, Sabeen Mehmud from T2F, our very own Zaheer Sb from BiTs Online and Windmills of the Mind and last but not the least our celebrity blogger Naveen Naqvi was also in the house, who we now have laid claim to be more of a blogger then a TV personality. The star-studded bloggeratti guest list almost guaranteed an exciting rendezvous with the US Representative for Muslim Communities.
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