Tag Archives | Pakistan

Osama bin Laden Living Comfortably in Pakistan

It's no great surprise to learn that bin Laden isn't hiding in a mountain cave, considering that he's probably been receiving kidney dialysis and other medical treatment for years. Barbara Starr reports for CNN:
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri are believed to be hiding close to each other in houses in northwest Pakistan, but are not together, a senior NATO official said. "Nobody in al Qaeda is living in a cave," said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the intelligence matters involved. Rather, al Qaeda's top leadership is believed to be living in relative comfort, protected by locals and some members of the Pakistani intelligence services, the official said...
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Colorado Man’s Rambo-Style Mission To Kill Osama Fails

Pakistan Bin Laden HunterA middle-aged-dad-type from Colorado was arrested in the mountains of Pakistan, where, armed with a sword, pistol and night-vision goggles, he was on a solo go-for-broke mission to find and kill Osama bin Laden. Amazingly, he made it pretty far, reaching the isolated region where Osama is rumored to be hiding. Las Vegas Sun reports:

“A lot of kids grow up and say, `I want to be Rambo,’ you know? Well, he is,” said Gary Faulkner’s brother, Scott, 43.

“He’s as normal as you and I,” Scott Faulkner said. “He’s just very passionate, and, as a Christian, he felt, when Osama mocked this country after 9/11, and it didn’t feel like the military was doing enough, it became his passion, his mission, to track down Osama, and kill him, or bring him back alive.”

Scott Faulkner said his brother sold all his tools to finance his trip and was prepared to die in Pakistan.

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Pakistan And Conspiracy Theory

Flag_of_PakistanWhich country around the world loves conspiracy theories the most? I always thought Italy, with its long history of Machiavellian plotting, might win that award, but the New York Times makes a case for Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Americans may think that the failed Times Square bomb was planted by a man named Faisal Shahzad. But the view in the Supreme Court Bar Association here in Pakistan’s capital is that the culprit was an American “think tank.”

No one seems to know its name, but everyone has an opinion about it. It is powerful and shadowy, and seems to control just about everything in the American government, including President Obama.

“They have planted this character Faisal Shahzad to implement their script,” said Hashmat Ali Habib, a lawyer and a member of the bar association.

Who are they?

“You must know, you are from America,” he said smiling. “My advice for the American nation is, get free of these think tanks.”

Conspiracy theory is a national sport in Pakistan, where the main players — the United States, India and Israel — change positions depending on the ebb and flow of history.

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Pakistan Knows Where Osama Bin Laden Is – But Won’t Tell

So says author Stephen Tanner in an interview with CNN's Afghanistan Crossroads:
Osama bin Laden - remember him? Where is he, and is the U.S. getting closer to killing or capturing him? Those are the questions hovering over several recent developments in the Afghanistan war: the capture of Afghan Taliban military leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the killing of two key Taliban commanders and an increase in drone attacks. But several authorities on the eight-year Afghanistan war say no one should expect to see bin Laden in handcuffs anytime soon. “No, I don’t think we’re getting any closer,” says Stephen Tanner, author of Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War against the Taliban. Tanner says the ISI, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, knows where bin Laden is hiding, but is not ready to say...
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U.S. Plans $1.4bn Media ‘Aid’ For Pakistan

Flag_of_PakistanFrom Emirates Business 24/7:

The Obama administration sent lawmakers this week a plan for $1.45 billion (Dh5.32bn) in aid for Pakistan this year, funding media campaigns to counter extremist views as well as water, energy and other projects.

The 2010 spending plan, obtained by Reuters, was sent to lawmakers as part of the US administration’s obligation to consult Congress over the civilian aid package.

“It represents a rebalancing of the military and civilian assistance,” Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew told Reuters of the package, part of a $7.5bn, five-year aid plan passed by Congress for Pakistan last year. There is strong anti-American sentiment in Pakistan and the hope is this new assistance will help ease that tension.

About $50 million is set aside for a “comprehensive communications strategy” to counter extremist views and strengthen Pakistani institutions and moderate voices, the report to Congress said.

“This effort will reduce the ability of Al Qaeda and other extremists to influence public perceptions and attitudes and support Pakistan’s people and government as they establish a more secure, prosperous and lasting state,” the report said.

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I Should Have Read My Islamic Marriage Contract

Why didn’t I? Why don’t a lot of Muslim women? By Ayesha Nair, writing in Slate:

I have two master’s degrees from Columbia, keep the h silent in haute couture (you’d be surprised at how few Pakistanis like me do so), and know to scour the fine print before I sign anything. But I scrawled my signature on the most important contract of my life without reading a word. And, as I later found out, many of my also well-educated female friends did the same. Why do Pakistani women agree to marriage contracts without scrutinizing them first and making sure they won’t be sorry later?

For my nikah, or official marriage ceremony, in March 2008, I chose a majestic monument in Lahore, aptly known as the Badshahi or the King’s mosque. It was 8 a.m., and the spring sun was strong as I sat decked out in a heavily embellished duputta (long head veil).

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Superstitious Politicians: Zardari’s Goat Sacrifice

From ABC News:

Politicians are no strangers to superstitious rituals – during Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, his chief strategist David Axelrod carried a pink quartz heart in his pocket to bring good luck, former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi was famous for consulting soothsayers and astrologers and Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari has been slaughtering black goats every day since becoming President, in an attempt to ward off “the evil eye”.

This particular practice in the Muslim faith is called ‘Sadaqa’, where an animal is slaughtered and its meat distributed among the poor to gain Allah’s blessings and protection from misfortune. “There are many religious traditions in Pakistan based on local culture and Sufi order,” says Samina Ahmed, Head of the International Crisis Group in Pakistan.

In a speech made to his party members in Lahore early this month,  Zardari  said that the ‘pen’ and the ‘Bayonet’ are after him (implying Judiciary and the Military), but he vowed that he will fight on.

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Pakistan’s Turmoil Endangers Its Archaeological Treasures

Christopher Allbritton reports for Time:

In the mountains and valleys of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, palace ruins and crumbling Buddhist monasteries dot the hills above war-torn locations such as Mingora, Peshawar and the Swat Valley. These magnificent ruins are all that’s left of the Gandhara kingdom, which flourished from the 6th century B.C. to the 11th century A.D. It vanished under the pressure of war and conquest, re-emerging only in 1848 when relics and ruins were re-discovered by the British archaeologist, Sir Alexander Cunningham.

Now, Gandhara is in danger of vanishing a second time from the same old threats. Just as the Afghan Taliban destroyed the 1,500-year-old statues of the Buddha in Bamiyan, Afghanistan in 2001, militants in Pakistan have attacked the Buddhist heritage in Pakistan, driving away foreign research teams and tourists, forcing the closure of museums and threatening the integrity of valuable digs. “Militants are the enemies of culture,” says Abdul Nasir Khan, curator of the museum at Taxila, one of the country’s premier archaeological sites and a former capital of the Gandhara civilization.

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Jeremy Scahill Reveals Blackwater’s Secret War in Pakistan

Posted on Democracy Now!:

In an explosive new article in The Nation magazine, investigative journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill reveals the private military firm Blackwater is part of a covert program in Pakistan that includes planning the assassination and kidnapping of Taliban and Al-Qaeda suspects. Blackwater is also said to be involved in a previously undisclosed U.S. military drone campaign that has killed scores of people inside Pakistan. The article says the program has become so secretive that top Obama administration and military officials have likely been unaware of its existence. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, Scahill joins us for his first interview since the story broke.

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Obama’s Extra-judicial Killers

By Nat Hentoff from newtondailynews:

In “Capture or Kill? Lawyers eye options for terrorists” (National Public Radio, Oct. 11), exceptionally alert investigative reporter Ari Shapiro said: “Many national security experts interviewed for this story agree that it has become so hard for the U.S. to detain people that in many instances, the U.S. government is killing them instead.”

As I reported previously, CIA’s secret Predator drone attacks on suspected terrorists in Pakistan are already doing just that. But, wrote Jane Mayer in “The Predator War” (The New Yorker, Oct. 26):

“The embrace of the Predator program has occurred with remarkably little public discussion.

“That’s why I’m writing this series. Mayer continued: “(yet) it represents a radically new and geographically unbounded use of state-sanctioned lethal force. And, because of the C.I.A. program’s secrecy, there is no visible system of accountability in place, despite the fact that the agency has killed many civilians inside a politically fragile, nuclear-armed country with which the U.S.

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