Tag Archives | Pakistan

Christians Are Being Violently Pushed Out Of Middle East

Coptic cross. Author: Sagredo (CC)

Coptic cross. Author: Sagredo (CC)

In the wake of the suicide bomb attack on the Coptic Christians in Egypt and the deadly October massacre at a Christian church in Iraq, Paul McGeough writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that Christians are rapidly leaving the Middle East altogether:

…A century ago, they accounted for 20 per cent of the population in the Middle East – today the Vatican estimates that proportion to be 5 per cent and falling in a region in which most regimes impose limits and restrictions on Christian rituals.

Iran has recently been rounding up Christian missionaries and deadly Christian-Muslim violence has erupted again in Nigeria.

“If this phenomenon continues, Christianity in the Middle East will disappear,” the Reverend Khalil Samir, an Egyptian Jesuit in Beirut, told reporters on the eve of a Vatican conference that discussed the crisis last year. “This is not an unreal hypothesis – Turkey went from 20 per cent Christian in the early 20th century to 0.2 per cent now.

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CIA Chief in Pakistan Pulled After Legal Action Reveals Covert Drone Attacks

Drone Attacks in PakistanDeclan Walsh writes in the Guardian:

The CIA has pulled its station chief from Islamabad, one of America’s most important spy posts, after his cover was blown in a legal action brought by victims of US drone strikes in the tribal belt.

The officer, named in Pakistan as Jonathan Banks, left the country yesterday, after a tribesman publicly accused him of being responsible for the death of his brother and son in a CIA drone strike in December 2009. Karim Khan, a journalist from North Waziristan, called for Banks to be charged with murder and executed.

In a rare move, the CIA called Banks home yesterday, citing “security concerns” and saying he had received death threats, Washington officials told Associated Press. Khan’s lawyer said he was fleeing the possibility of prosecution.

“This is just diplomatic language they are using. Banks is a liability to the CIA because he’s likely to be called to court.

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Ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s Dying Words: ‘You’ve Got to Stop This War in Afghanistan’

Richard HolbrookeJason Ditz writes on Antiwar.com:
Family members are reporting that the late Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan who died yesterday following heart surgery, gave as his last words “you’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.” The dying words stand in stark contrast to Holbrooke’s living words, which were almost uniformly supportive of President Obama’s repeated escalations of the Afghan War. They’re also a major inconvenience to the president at a time when he’s trying to spin the ever worsening war as a runaway success. Indeed, President Obama has already released a statement praising Holbrooke and saying he deserves much of the credit for the “progress” in the disastrous conflict, and reiterated that “he understood” how important the war is. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also issued a statement on Holbrooke, and it too centered on how important the escalation of the war was.
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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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