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Monday, June 30, 2008

Baithak World Jun 29: Wedding in Susiya, Negotiating not Shooting, Urban Poet, News & Views, Opus, Cartoons, RealNews

Thanks to B'tselem, the anti-occupation Israeli human rights group, and the BBC, its plight has at last been exposed on mainstream western media. Last year B'tselem established the Shooting Back project which provides Palestinians with video cameras, allowing them to capture on film the harassment and attacks regularly meted out by settlers. The footage shown on BBC was of a brutal baseball-bat assault by four masked men on a shepherd and his family. The attackers are believed to be from the Susiya settlement. It was by no means the first attack of its kind. Many who saw the BBC video have been shocked, but for those who know this part of Palestine the only shock is that it has been shown at all. For some years international and Israeli human rights groups have been supporting Palestinian farmers and their families in the South Hebron Hills.
It is impossible not to be impressed by the skilled work that we have witnessed in recent weeks.
Wedding in Susiya

A German mediator ran between Israel and Hezbollah; an Egyptian mediator came and went between Hamas and the government of Israel. A taboo subject was broken and oaths evaporated. It appears that the official agreement between Israel and Hezbollah on how prisoners and captives will be exchanged will be signed today.....
There is no way to avoid the conclusion that Israel prefers the current framework. Negotiating with groups may appear to be a concession, but this is far from being the case. Israel is releasing prisoners of the kind that it can arrest any day, but it is not being asked to relinquish territory. It shakes a hand - indirectly, of course - with Hamas, and grants it the authority of a state and political standing that it refused the group when it was elected in free elections in 2006. But Israel is not required to recognize Hamas. It could have released prisoners earlier and handed them over to Mahmoud Abbas as part of the Road Map. But then, alas, this would have been perceived to be a political achievement of Abbas before he did anything for Israel. Preferring Hamas and Hezbollah

Mohammed Omer, the Gaza correspondent of IPS, and joint winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, was strip-searched at gunpoint, assaulted and abused by Israeli security officials at the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank on Thursday as he tried to return home to Gaza.Israelis Assault Award Winning IPS Journalist

Death is often a good career move in poetry. No sooner are the obsequies over and the baked meats eaten than the publisher warms up the presses for a definitive edition of the collected poems, solemnly proofread down to the last querulous comma. Yet not all poets are well served by such an exhaustive volume, which may seal up a reputation forever — indeed, such a book has sometimes been called a tombstone. A collected poems may be cruelest to a poet whose genius shone as intermittently as a firefly. Urban Poet

News & Views

Huffpollstrology: Candidates' Horoscopes, Polls And More For June 29
Occupation Plan for Iraq Faulted in Army History
'We Could Do it Today': Israel Prepared to Use Force Against Iran
Reading Capital with David Harvey
New Indictment Brought Against Political Prisoner Sami Al-Arian
Israel's Encaging of Gaza
The New York Times Goes Inside Brave New Films
False Obama Muslim Rumor Spread Quickly And Widely Throughout The Internet
It's My Party, I'll Cry If I Want To
Obama Supporters Adopting Middle Name "Hussein" As Their Own
Nepal: Maoists prepare for power
Towards a World Parliament
Essay: Cultural Crossoads of the Levant
What digital means to me

Opus: The Five Stages of Grief


Paul Jay presents RealNews

Change we can believe in?
Pepe Escobar: Obama's foreign policy team is Clinton's team view

Is Pakistan to blame for spike in Afghan violence?
Graeme Smith: The Taliban are mostly based in Afghanistan, Pakistan bases not the issue view

Polls Open for Disputed Election in Zimbabwe
NPR's Ofeibia Quist-Arcton reports from South Africa about today's election, termed a "sham" view

Baithak Desi Jun 29: Action against Taliban, More on Nawaz, Nadeem Paracha, Media on Media,News & Views, Cartoons

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — With Islamic militants tightening their grip around Peshawar, kidnapping residents and threatening the city itself, the new coalition government of Pakistan delivered its first military response to the Islamists on Saturday. The action was limited, with security forces shelling territory outside Peshawar held by an extremist leader. Army forces were not used, and the intent apparently was merely to push the militants back from the city’s perimeter. But the shelling was the first time the new civilian government, which has been committed to negotiating peace accords with Pakistani Taliban and other Islamic militants, resorted to military action. Pakistan Shells Islamic Militants Near Peshawar

The emerging Taliban is not as worrying for Nawaz as his latent tendencies, going by his record, swing towards the Taliban way of life. We must not forget his 15th ‘ameer-ul-momineen’ amendment bill which luckily for us came to naught. We must also never forget Nawaz’s tampering with the judiciary during his second round as prime minister. A very fine and precise narrative of the events leading up to the storming of the Supreme Court on Nov 28, 1997 and how it evolved is given in Shuja Nawaz’s book, Crossed Swords, which should be on every shelf. More on Nawaz by Cowasjee

The amount of coverage that the lawyers’ movement has got in the media, with some news channels even going to the extent of airing revolutionary anthems to the tune of Faiz’s Ham daikhain ge, I ask, where are the masses?

I really feel bad for Aitzaz Ahsan. I’ve always liked the chap, but the way he’s turning into a bundle of (albeit well-meaning and passionate) hot air, it’s not funny anymore.

His predicament is a stark reflection of the so-called lawyers’ movement he is leading. Steamy hot air constantly pumped into the non-organic orifices of the movement by the media; a movement that keeps deflating every time it claims to have reached a pinnacle. The fizzling out of the much-hyped long march recently by the lawyers and civil society is the case in point. Nadeem Paracha

It's never useful or constructive when newspapers start criticising other newspapers and particularly when they gradually make a habit of it. Of late, one has also noticed that some newspapers regularly for criticism some television channels as well. The merits of such criticism aside, what purpose can really be served by criticising the editorials or reports, or hosts or anchors of other newspapers or television channels, especially when such people are not allowed to defend themselves. Frankly, I cannot understand the reason for publishing such material except to kind of denigrate the competition, and sections of the electronic media. If the purpose is to actually engage in constructive criticism then surely to bring up such 'criticism' in professional/industry meetings or complaints taken directly to the editors meetings,particularly on a social level should be quite frequent. Media should Criticise Media in Private

News & Views

Burney to help Indians in China jails
Mustafa neither a judge, nor detained for 22 years
Banned militant outfits regroup in Karachi
Zia Mohyeddin column Tragedy I


Maxim - Today's Cartoon
Letter Cartoon

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Baithak Desi Jun 28: Dichotomy, Taliban Thinking in Army, Missing Judge, Islamabad Blinks, Legal Backlog, News & Views, Cartoons

In the recent past in Karachi the citizens caught thieves in the act and publicly set them on fire. There was a huge hue and cry all over the country and almost everyone condemned the act of taking the law in their hands. Have you wondered why everyone is silent when the same flouting of laws of the land goes on in FATA? They behead, kill, stone citizens in utter disregard of the laws. Why this dichotomous silence? ‘US spies’ executed publicly

Taliban Thinking in Army College

[thanks ID & LT]

He had served 22 years in various jails in Pakistan, with no charges framed nor any trial. He was moved around the country and there were no records on him. He was not a bearded fundo or Taliban. He was not a murderer, terrorist, nor a spy, nor a Baloch activist. He was Dr Ghulam Mustafa Ismail Qazi, a former ad-hoc judge of the Lahore High Court and also the husband of an army captain, Dr Mubarika, who was killed in Siachen 18 years ago (published in a local English daily, June 13, 2008), a serving judge of the Lahore High Court no less, when he was picked up, and put away for 22 years. The signature on his detention order shown on TV was authorised by Roedad Khan Federal Secretary of Interior, and had been missing for 22 years. (The same fellow who is a regular on TV talk shows and spouts holier than thou messages on TV conveniently forgetting his role in the Missing judge case). This shows the "long arm of the bureaucracy" at its mightiest. And at its most evil. The sin committed by Judge Qazi, was to issue a notice to the wife of General Zia to appear before him in person. The judge was rendered missing for 22 years! The missing judge By Fakir S. Ayazuddin

KARACHI - With grudging surprise, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has acknowledged the strength of the Taliban, illustrated by its repeated calls for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan, notably for the two important provinces of Kandahar and Khost. There has even been speculation that these provinces might fall, significantly increasing the pressure on the US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai. American pressure for Pakistan to scrap its ceasefire deals with militants in Pakistan and launch operations was so strong that a Pakistani advisor to the prime minister, and also called the de facto premier, Rahman Malik, surprised the Pakistani military command two weeks ago by announcing the scrapping of peace deals with militants in Swat Valley in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Islamabad blinks at Taliban threat By Syed Saleem Shahzad

DELHI - India's woefully underfunded court system, with its shortfall of judges but excess of corrupt lawyers, is also saddled with a gargantuan backlog of 29.2 million cases pending across hundreds of subordinate state-level courts, 21 high courts and the Supreme Court. According to figures released recently by the Indian Supreme Court - the country's highest judicial authority - out of this mind-boggling number, over 25.4 million cases are pending in subordinate courts, 3.7 million cases in various high courts while the Supreme Court is stuck with 45,887 cases awaiting justice. According to the Supreme Court's findings, among the states, Uttar Pradesh - India's most populous state with a population of180 million - leads the pack with 4.8 million cases awaiting trial followed by Maharashtra and Gujarat with 4 million and 3.4 million cases, respectively. This huge backlog of unresolved cases, experts claim, is directly proportional to a lack of judges. So, while Uttar Pradesh has a vacancy of 521 judges against a required roster of 2,172, Maharashtra suffers from a shortfall of 376 against the current strength of 1,897 posts. Consequently, during the last quarter of 2007, over 3.5 million cases were filed in subordinate courts across the country, out of which only some 3.3 million were tried. For the same period, 21 High Courts were able to clear 326,000 cases out of a total of 368,000, with the remaining cases adding to the already huge backlog for the quarter. A major fallout of this unsavory situation is that millions of Indians are currently awaiting justice. Huge case backlog clogs India's courts By Neeta Lal

News & views

The budget blame game
The deal strikes again
The grim dangers in FATA


Maxim - Today's Cartoon
Maxim Cartoon

Baithak World Jun 28: US Cyber Force, Nikita Lalwani, News Unearthed, News & Views, Brodner, Szep, RealNews

Recently, while I was on a visit to, my computer screen momentarily went black. A glitch? A power surge? No, it was a pop-up ad for the US Air Force, warning me that an enemy cyber attack could come at any moment - with dire consequences for my ability to connect to the Internet. It was an Outer Limits moment. Remember that eerie sci-fi show from the early 1960s? The one that began in a blur with the message, "There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission ..." It felt a little like that. Uncle Sam's cyber force wants you By William J Astore

Nikita Lalwani
Gifted gift ... Nikita Lalwani

It made the longlist of the Booker prize, and the shortlist of the Costa first novel award, but last night Nikita Lalwani's Gifted, an ambitious and widely acclaimed debut novel about immigration and the perils of a precocious childhood, has taken the final step, carrying off the inaugural Desmond Elliott prize. But Lalwani will not be carrying home the £10,000 winner's cheque, and plans to donate it instead to human rights campaigners Liberty. Speaking this morning, Lalwani confessed that it was an impulsive decision. "I hadn't planned to give the money away because I really didn't think I would win," she said. "But when it happened, I just felt it was the right thing to do. We live at a time when we can't take personal freedoms and civil liberties for granted any more - in this country as in others - so an organisation which campaigns on these issues deserves our support." Lalwani takes award, but gives away prize

'Law and the Long War' by Benjamin Wittes Reviewed by David J. Garrow
Can the U.S. justice system survive the war on terrorism? The Brookings Institution fellow proposes a way around the current legal morass.

The Supreme Court's Distressing Ruling on Gun Rights
Gaza truce 'violated repeatedly'
Zionism's dead end
Jamal Dajani: The Year of the Taliban
Paul Krassner: Remembering George Carlin
HuffPollstrology: Candidates' Horoscopes, Polls And More For June 27
US Department of Energy to Invest $90 Million in Advanced Geothermal Research
Welcome To the Anthropocene
In Pics: Sam Manekshaw
Interview with Francis Boyle: Prosecuting Bush
Taliban Imperil Pakistani City, a Major Hub
Land Transfer to Hindu Site Inflames Kashmir’s Muslims
A Citizen's Guide To the Post-Bush Globe
Which catchphrases should be "thrown under the bus"?
You Don't Mess With the Racism
Zardari Turkey visit fuels rumours
Diabetes Drugs Face Tougher Rules
CSIS policy unconstitutional: Court

War Is Over

Or so it would seem by the coverage we have been getting on the corporate media. "Since the start of last year, the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a part of the nonprofit Pew Research Center, has tracked reporting by several dozen major newspapers, cable stations, broadcast television networks, Web sites and radio programs. Iraq accounted for 18 percent of their prominent news coverage in the first nine months of 2007, but only 9 percent in the following three months, and 3 percent so far this year."

Meanwhile the dying goes on, as in this horrifying scene from a few days ago, in which a suicide bomb disrupted an Iraqi Council meeting in Sadr City where the US soldiers acted as unwitting human shields. This man, Qasim al-Sudani, was injured but probably saved by the four Americans, one Italian, and six Iraqis who were not. One was a State Department worker, the fourth to die in Iraq. In Mosul, a policeman and a child were killed. In southern Baghdad the chairman of the local council was shot down with nine bullets in his chest as he opened his door.
STORY Brodner's Cartoon du Jour Archive

Paul Szep



Paul Jay presents RealNews

New Bush-push for US-Iraq security pact
US submits new unspecified proposals hoping to get security agreement in Iraq despite staunch opposition view

Mugabe under pressure
Adam Habib: Mugabe may respond if threatened with expulsion by African elites from regional bodies view

Supreme Court overturns gun ban
ANP: Judges rule 5-4 to get rid of DC's 32-year-ban on handguns as gun advocates celebrate victory view

Afghan leaders say Pak ISI behind blasts
Yousafzai: Afghan Pres Hamid Karzai blaming Pakistan to win Afghan votes in next election view

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Baithak Desi Jun27: Ahmed Rashid, Problem #1?, Salman Rashid, Cartoons

There is no law and order in the country, justice is hard to come by for the ordinary citizens, frustrated citizens resort to law breaking (setting on fire thieves caught in the act), the prices of essentials are steadily getting beyond the reach of poor, suicides are becoming increasingly common, unemployment is a major issue, shortages of gasoline, budget deficit, economic mismanagement....and I have not even mentioned the Supreme Court...amidst the plethora of these issues facing the nation guess what is termed the Problem Number One by the Daily Times Editorial team?

There's no escaping our fate. We are not children of midnight. We are children of ineptitude, intellectual and moral bankrupts, incapable of managing our affairs, a circumstance proven yet again by the decision at the highest level to entrust the affairs of embattled FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) to the army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. The Mayor of Islamabad?

Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist of the highest narrative and analytical gifts, is baffled by the West's almost demented indifference and folly towards Afghanistan and his own country. The stakes are huge. If either state fails, as is highly plausible, global stability will be rocked. The United Nations, Nato, the European Union and, of course, America will see their purposes and credibility set at naught. Yet, as Rashid writes: "The international community's lukewarm commitment to Afghanistan after 9/11 has been matched only by its incompetence, incoherence and conflicting strategies — all led by the United States." Meanwhile, in Pakistan, Washington's commitment, since 2001, to support President Pervez Musharraf's military dictatorship rather than to promote the interests of the Pakistani people, "has created immense hatred for the US army and America, hatred that penetrates all classes of society". The Sunday Times review by Max Hastings: where the West has gone wrong in the war in Central Asia

The secret of the hiding place of the diamond-studded idol of Gorecha or Prasanath thus went up with the smoke of Poonjajee's funeral pyre. The Talpurs tried every which way to discover where the priceless statue lay hidden, but to no avail

The village of Gori (the r is palatal and the name of the village has nothing to do with fairness of skin) lies to the north of the road that connects Islamkot in the southern Thar Desert with Nagarparkar. With its huts of conical wattle roofs, thorn hedges and the few neem and kundi trees, Gori is no different from any other Thari village; but for the chunky grey Jain temple that stands just east of the clump of houses. The lost idol of Gorecha —Salman Rashid

Hashmi, Shah Mahmood rivalry costs PPP seat
In Urdu - Kishwar Nahid
Also in Urdu - Nazi Naji

My apprehension is that some of the well meaning individuals and lawyers who are sweating on the streets to pursue the worthy cause of an independent judiciary have somewhere lost their direction and are failing to understand that Pakistan's democracy and federation can be saved by reconciliation, not confrontation. Farahnaz Ispahani PPP MNA and Mrs Hussain Haqqani


Maxim - Today's Cartoon
Maxim Cartoon

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