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Monday, November 30, 2009

Tap Dancing, Tribute to Terrorists, Strangers on a Flight, Allen Tate, Ari Avnery

The collapse of Dubai's sovereign wealth fund comes as no surprise after its bad investments. The crack-up of Dubai's once stupendously endowed SWF is also a powerful reminder that it's wrong to associate investing smarts with those in possession of large sums of money. The world's biggest banks not long ago were awash in more money they could intelligently handle. And tens of millions of workers are unemployed today as a result of the ill-advised bets they made. The everyday analogy is the lottery winner uncertain of what to do with his windfall who finds himself broke within a year. But at least his folly is not the cause of widespread misery for others.

Tap Dancing Tom Friedman: Yes, after two decades in which U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny — in Bosnia, Darfur, Kuwait, Somalia, Lebanon, Kurdistan, post-earthquake Pakistan, post-tsunami Indonesia, Iraq and Afghanistan — a narrative that says America is dedicated to keeping Muslims down is thriving. Although most of the Muslims being killed today are being killed by jihadist suicide bombers in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Indonesia, you’d never know it from listening to their world. The dominant narrative there is that 9/11 was a kind of fraud: America’s unprovoked onslaught on Islam is the real story, and the Muslims are the real victims — of U.S. perfidy.

Tribute to terror leader Kahane planned by Israeli legislators - A plan by right-wing legislators in Israel to commemorate the anniversary this month of the death of Meir Kahane, whose banned anti-Arab movement is classified as a terrorist organization, risks further damaging the prospects for talks between Israel and the Palestinians, US officials have warned. Jonathan Cook reports.

Strangers on a Flight

Allen Tate in VQR - Allen Tate was heartened to see the inaugural issue of VQR. The Fugitive, the magazine he had helped found in Nashville in 1922, was struggling and would publish its final number in a matter of months. Tate was hopeful that VQR would succeed where others had failed. On June 26, 1925, he wrote editor James Southall Wilson:

A plan by right-wing legislators in Israel to commemorate the anniversary this month of the death of Meir Kahane, whose banned anti-Arab movement is classified as a terrorist organization, risks further damaging the prospects for talks between Israel and the Palestinians, US officials have warned. Jonathan Cook reports.
Friedman's Idea: '.. And A Little Child Shall Lead Them' - Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, has an idea. That happens to him quite often. One might almost say - too often. It goes like this: The US will turn its back on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The entire world will follow. Everybody is fed up with this conflict. Let the Israelis and the Palestinians sort out their problems by themselves. Sounds sensible. Why must the world be bothered with these two unruly children? Let them kick each other as much as they like. The adults should not interfere. But in reality this is an outrageous suggestion. Because these two children are not of equal strength. When an adult sees a 14-year old mercilessly mistreating a 6-year old, can he just look on?

Offer to Pakistan,

President Obama has offered Pakistan an expanded strategic partnership, including additional military and economic cooperation, while warning with unusual bluntness that its use of insurgent groups to pursue policy goals "cannot continue." The offer, including an effort to help reduce tensions between Pakistan and India, was contained in a two-page letter delivered to President Asif Ali Zardari this month by Obama national security adviser James L. Jones. It was accompanied by assurances from Jones that the United States will increase its military and civilian efforts in Afghanistan and that it plans no early withdrawal.

Jean Miotte

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bina Shah, Irfan HUsain, Zardari -CitibanK

Bina Shah: Where, again, are the media standards, the watchdogs to make sure that lives are not being destroyed by money-hungry producers and advertisers? Where are the people who can give guidance to our youngsters, to show them that there’s a world of difference between being brave for a good cause and risking their lives for no good reason? The young are reckless, and don’t always value their health and their safety, but surely there’s someone out there in the big bad world of media with a conscience who can give them all a much-needed reality check. And take that hideous show with the misogynist presenter who likes to scream at young girls and urge young boys to push safety pins through their lips off the air, please. This is not the kind of entertainment that we Pakistanis really need to see.

Irfan Hussain: They miss the point that one negotiates with one’s adversaries, not one’s friends. And they have the bizarre notion that peace is a reward for good behaviour, not a mutual need. The fact is that India needs peace just as much as Pakistan does. True, it is Pakistan that is currently being battered by an unrelenting wave of terrorism. But a Pakistan destabilised by extremist violence should be New Delhi’s worst nightmare.


Sixty Hours of Terror: part 1-4, Ruth Padel, Lula, Turkey,

Ruth Padel: 'I rush into things … I'm full of self-doubt' -Ruth Padel's rooms in Christ's College, Cambridge are on a staircase just along the quad from those once occupied by her great-great-grandfather. The doorway retains his name, C Darwin, as though he were still an undergraduate. The author of On the Origin of Species came here in 1829, in relieved retreat from Edinburgh and the medical school his father so wanted him to attend, and he so hated. Although he was technically and, in hindsight, somewhat ironically studying divinity, it was here that he met the professors who recommended him for a journey in the tropics, on the HMS Beagle.

Six Questions for Susan Somers-Willett By Carianne King on Interview - An interview with the VQR contributor about her poetry-based coverage of women who live in endemic poverty in Troy, New York.

Sixty Hours of Terror: Ten Gunmen, Ten Minutes

Sixty Hours of Terror: “It’s Do or Die”

Sixty Hours of Terror: “No Hostages Should Remain Alive”

Sixty Hours of Terror: “By the Grace of Allah”

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism -The four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Brazil's President Lula: 'Father of the Poor' Has Triggered Economic Miracle -Brazil is seen as an economic success story and its people revere President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva like a star. He is on a mission to turn the country into one of the world's five biggest economies through reforms, giant infrastructure projects and by tapping vast oil reserves. But he faces hurdles.

Turkey Has Role to Play A new bright star seems to have risen above the Arab world, heralding new relationships that could benefit the region as a whole. The Arab change of heart towards Turkey, the successor of the dreaded Ottoman Empire, a colonial regime that ruled the Arab world for centuries and collapsed about 90 years ago, came when the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party was elected five years ago. And for the first time in nearly 100 years, Turkish troops descended on Lebanon as part of a UN peacekeeping force following Israel's occupation of the Shiite-dominated South Lebanon.

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism

The last of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism

The third of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism

The second of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism

The last of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism

The third of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism

The second of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism

The first of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism

The last of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism

The third of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism

The second of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism

The first of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism

The last of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism

The third of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

By Jason Motlagh on terrorism

The second of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

The third of a four-part series on the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Lin Fengmian

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Aitezaz Ahsan, Political trials in Bangladesh, The mosque at Ayodhya,

Anjum Niaz: Perhaps the prime ministership? I had asked Aitzaz. He declined to answer. Well, 5 1/2 years today, Benazir did return only to die; Zardari is the current president; And Aitzaz is still frozen out! Actually, this time, it’s worse: Zardari never gave him a party ticket to contest the 2008 elections. Will Aitzaz’s vicious cycle ever break? Will Aitzaz ever become the prime minister or president of Pakistan? Or will he be the wandering minstrel singing his poems forever?

Political trials in Bangladesh: The trials of Sheikh Hasina - MORE than 30 years after two Bangladeshi colonels flew to London to confess on television to having helped kill Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh’s founding president, the Supreme Court on November 19th rejected an appeal by five army officers convicted of the murder. The verdict was expected, but praised as an historic chance for politicians to bury their obsession with Bangladesh’s past and focus on the present. More likely, partisan pressure will keep the past alive

Dubai's Request For Debt 'Standstill' Shakes World Markets - DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Just a year after the global downturn derailed Dubai's explosive growth, the city is now so swamped in debt that it's asking for a six-month reprieve on paying its bills – causing a drop on world markets Thursday and raising questions about Dubai's reputation as a magnet for international investment.

The mosque at Ayodhya: A destructive legacy - AFTER 17 years, several hundred testimonies, and many missed deadlines, an inquiry into one of modern India’s darkest episodes, the destruction of a mosque by Hindu fanatics, this week at last published its findings. It prompted riotous scenes in parliament and a media whirl. The report, on the demolition in December 1992 of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, concluded that

The world's ten fattest countries- If you tend to pack on a few pounds over the holidays, blame it on globalization. As the world has grown smaller, we've all grown larger -- alarmingly so. In countries around the world, waistlines are expanding so rapidly that health experts recently coined a term for the epidemic: globesity. The common fat-o-meter among nations is body mass index (BMI), a calculation based on a person's height and weight. The World Health Organization defines "overweight" as an individual with a BMI of 25 or more and "obese" as someone with a BMI of 30 or higher. (To see how you weigh in, use this calculator by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.)

The Afghan Speech Obama Should Give, But Won't - Sure, the quote in the over-title is only my fantasy. No one in Washington -- no less President Obama -- ever said, "This administration ended, rather than extended, two wars," and right now, it looks as if no one in an official capacity is likely to do so any time soon. It's common knowledge that a president -- but above all a Democratic president -- who tried to de-escalate a war like the one now expanding in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan, and withdraw American troops, would be so much domestic political dead meat.

Catch 22 test, Twenty Blunders, Zardari-Haqqani tapes

Does Anjum know how many Pakistanis will fail this test, not the political robbers, everyday ordinary Pakistanis? !~~t

We don’t need the moribund NAB to catch them. They should be made to take the catch-22 test: “Are you an American citizen; a British subject; a green card holder? Are you of sound mind and body? Have you lied about your academic degrees? How much income tax did you pay this year? Have you ever paid any wealth tax, if yes, how much? How much did your wife/daughters spend in jewellery and clothes? Are you a bank defaulter? How much did you give away in charity? And to whom? How many sarkari Umrahs and Hajj have you performed to date? How many properties have you acquired in the last 20 years? How many cars have you bought in the last 10 years? List all the movable property items you own? How many times did you use your influence to help your children or your relatives in promotions/admissions to colleges at the expense of others who merited them? How many times have you willfully broken the law? How many times have you lied while under oath? How many times have you misused your official perks for your private gain? How many gifts have you received in lieu of giving undue favours? Have you ever taken a bribe or given one? How may jobs have you given away to your friends and family members? Have you ever committed fraud? Have you ever embezzled government money or property? Have you indulged in horse trading?”

Zardari-Haqqani tapes against Army revealed’ - A military spy agency recorded a conversation between President Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan’s Ambassador in US Husain Haqqani discussing the Kerry Lugar Bill and the recordings captured the two discussing how to strengthen democratic institutions in Pakistan. This has been disclosed in a report published in McClatchy, the US newspaper group owned by The Miami Herald. The recording was disclosed by military sources without giving any names but the implication was that the two were discussing how to weaken the hold of the military in Pakistani policies. Military officials believe that secretly taped conversations between President Asif Zardari and his ambassador in Washington prove that it was at Zardari’s insistence that a $1.5 billion US aid package passed by Congress in September contained several provisions that angered the Pakistani military. The military publicly protested the aid package last month.

Twenty Blunders - In the last 20 months, the PPP-led coalition government committed at least 20 blunders. The media only pointed out these blunders and not a single blunder was actually created by the media. Here is the list of 20 blunders in the last 20 months:

Samuel Kolman

Friday, November 27, 2009

Islam's arrested development, Show your opposition to the escalation of troops in Afghanistan,

Islam's arrested development -- scientific progress in Muslim countries requires greater personal and intellectual freedom. Without this there can be no thinking, ideas, innovations, discoveries, or progress. The real challenge is not better equipment or faster internet connectivity. Instead, to move ahead in science, Muslims need freedom from dogmatic beliefs and a culture that questions rather than obeys.

India lays to rest a Bush-era ghost - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh failed to realize the main objective of his visit to the United States - the "operationalization" of the US-India civilian nuclear deal. India and the US were more successful in other areas, including on defense cooperation. But the most important outcome from Delhi's perspective is a jettisoning of false hopes and expectations raised in the George W Bush era that do not match the US's declining power and influence. - M K Bhadrakumar

THE ROVING EYE : Welcome to the Luladinejad axis - Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's warm embrace of visiting Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said it all - this is how to make progress between countries. And as Lula made clear his support of Iran's stance over nuclear power, business leaders were adding depth to the warming relations. - Pepe Escobar

Show your opposition to the escalation of troops in Afghanistan -Today, we are launching our #NoWar campaign on Twitter and Facebook to show opposition to the escalation of troops in Afghanistan. Click on the link below to update your Twitter and Facebook profile images with the #NoWar candlelight image. You will have to log into Twibbon with your Twitter user name and password. Twitter: Here’s [...]

To veil or not to veil, From Karachi, with love , Hasan Abbas,

Prof. Lazrag’s assertion cannot be refuted. In Islam the hijab is not a pillar of faith. “Nowhere in the Quran is there an indication that the veil is a condition of a woman’s acceptance of her faith.” She constantly draws on her interview with Muslim women to make her point and to demonstrate the havoc religious bigotry and ignorance have caused in the lives of Muslim women. The last chapter on “Why women should not wear the veil” sums up the author’s views. They are based on Islamic teachings, as well as the history of Muslims. “The history of Muslim societies is fraught with instances when women wore no veil without there being much ado. The veil rose and fell depending on local political circumstances. Its evolution mirrored women’s changed perceptions of themselves…. The current revival of the veil, often in a style imported from Egypt (a headscarf and long overcoat) coincided with a failed development policy, a civil war that pitted the government against a radical and splintered Islamist movement, and the emergence of an intraregional movement of cultural identity inflicted by geopolitical events. What goes on in Baghdad and Cairo, Washington, D.C., and Paris has resonance in Algiers, Rabat or Amman. In the history of domination, resistance, and protest in Middle Eastern societies, the veil has been an enduring symbol and fertile ground for dramatising political ideologies.”

The Karachi of my childhood thus existed very much in relation to and in conversation with a Mumbai whose reality for me was only defined by other people’s recollections. Saddened by the discontent of the transplanted grown-ups, I wanted to exorcise the ghost that seemed to be the ever present lament of my father that inevitably distanced him from loving Karachi, the only city I knew and loved. How could he love me and not love Karachi, I wondered? My twin brother and I, united in our devotion to Karachi would mount vehement arguments in its favour. Our childish reasons for loving Karachi were constructed both from our childlike love for the only home we knew and the propaganda about India that we were regularly fed at school. Karachi may have fallen short against the idealisations of my father’s memory, but it offered much to the children. My brother and I both went to Zoroastrian schools that had helped form pluralistic core of the city more than a hundred years before Pakistan had ever been in existence. I grew up in classrooms where religious pluralism was not an abstract concept but an everyday reality. Close friendships between the Muslim, Hindu, Parsi and Christian children who shared classrooms were so commonplace that writing about them as exercises in diversity seems somewhat odd. We went to separate rooms to pray in the morning and during religious classes, but our shared personal dramas and competitive hysteria over tests defined us as similar in a way that could not be divested by our religious differences. Karachi’s locale, and its conglomeration of migrants from all over India and Pakistan, offered a cornucopia of culture and cuisine. Chapli kebabs in Shah Faisal Colony, Dahi baras in Hyderabad Colony and delicious dossas near the Agha Khan Jamatkhana became the varied flavours of our childhood. Rafia Zakaria

Hasan Abbas: No one can deny that both countries have produced fanatics of one kind or the other and insurgencies of various intensities are brewing in various parts of both the countries. The longer the South Asian peace process remains frozen, more extensive will be the damaging impact of extremism and mutual mistrust.

Rabia Zuberi, Mohsin Hamid, Eid/Thanksgiving, Politics of Babri mosque, Second-hand Americans, White Lies?

RABIA ZUBERI is a pioneering figure in the world of the plastic arts in Pakistan. She has done more to have art accepted as a worthy activity of self-expression in her country than any other individual. Art in Pakistan was centred around the activities of three artists, Sadequain, Gulgee and Iqbal Geoffrey. Of the three, only Geoffrey (Jaffrey, really) enjoyed the luxury of complete artistic freedom, having lived and worked in England all his adult life. In a country constantly fighting off the stranglehold of mullahs, depiction of the human form has been an act fraught with peril. It is significant that a seminal figure in Pakistani art is a woman and a migrant. The first state may not have been easy for her to have been in but the second afforded the distance so necessary to create something enduring in a society suspicious of innovation in the social sphere. Rabia never married; her own art and the pleasure of seeing her students grow were compensations enough.

Mohsin Hamid: When it comes to where we think Pakistan is heading, we are voting with our feet.

Eid and Thanksgiving: A beautiful juxtaposition The lunar Islamic calendar gives Muslims the unique opportunity to perform their ritual practices throughout the entire Gregorian year. Sometimes, this is most welcome: such as Ramadan occurring in the month of December, with its short days and long nights. Other times, this presents a difficult challenge: such as the current situation with Ramadan, which will be in the summer months for the next decade. And as always, the juxtaposition of the various Islamic holidays with those of other Abrahamic faiths allows constant reflection over the importance of acknowledging and working together as people of faith. Yet, this year, the calendar coincidence could not have been more perfect: this year, the day of Arafat is on Thanksgiving.

Politics of Babri mosque - “LET the temple come up.” This was the remark made by Atal Behari Vajpayee when I asked what his reaction to the destruction of the Babri Masjid was one day after the event. I was surprised because I considered him a liberal force in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Yet I did not attach much importance to his remark. Now that the one-man commission on the demolition, headed by Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan, has named Vajpayee as one of the collaborators in the pulling down of the mosque, his remark falls into place. How could he have reacted differently when he was a party to the “meticulously planned” scheme to demolish the mosque?

Laila o Laila: Balochistan is our Laila, the beloved, who is angry and hurt because the Pakistani establishment and consecutive governments mistreated her. She gave the rest of Pakistan everything they needed. Be it energy and natural resources or love and goodwill. But powers that be continued to inflict wounds on its body and soul. Neither the cosmetic changes in policy and announcement of support packages from those at the helm of the affairs nor the half-hearted voices of support from common citizens like us will make Laila happy. Nothing less than becoming a Majnoon for our Laila will help us lure her back. We have to love Balochistan. We have to treat her wounds with care, her ego with respect and her anger with patience. Only then our claim of a lasting relationship will be worthwhile. We must also condemn the killings of innocent non-Baloch citizens. But could you really treat people like sub-humans for decades and then expect them to be nice to you?

Second-hand Americans like Zakaria cannot let a reference to China slip by without casting it as the emerging economic rival of the US, which is fair enough, but also militarily dangerous for the US, which is by no means obvious or necessarily so. This is done mostly as a ploy to enhance India’s importance for the US. India is indeed an important country, possibly some score years hence also a global power; nevertheless it needs mention that of the one billion population that are supposed to give India its global stature, today 500 million of them are starving. India will need to do better and for much longer to claim the status of a global power.

When the price is right? Benazir Bhutto, had she been alive, would never have gone this route. The amount of respect and affection shown by her to me is my valuable asset as a journalist, and the lengthy meetings with the late lady in which she used to share with me her personal miseries are sacred trust of her that I would resist to divulge at least for the time being. She was a great leader and a visionary who had far-reaching vision, but her personal life was full of miseries, as she had been denied the comfort ever since her great and illustrious father opted to fight for the people and their comforts.

White Lies: The Jamaatud Dawah has always been the first to condemn any armed activity within Pakistan, including suicide attacks. We consider such activities damaging to the image of Islam and Pakistan. Islam is a religion of peace and jihad for the sake of Allah is a vital pillar of Islam, yet there are certain specified rules for carrying out jihad, which does not include indiscriminate killing of everyone everywhere. Islam does not condone random blasts at public places, nor does it endorse the killing of every non-Muslim that one comes across. We do not believe in killing and slaughter in non-Muslim countries too, and we believe that it is the responsibility of Muslims to protect the life and property of non-Muslims in Muslim countries. Raising of the sword is only permissible against those non-Muslims who arm themselves to the teeth and invade Muslim lands and people.

Emil Filla

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Joe Biden, Ahmed Rashid, Poetry workshop, Uri Avnery, KSM's Trial

Patient and humble are not words that come to mind when you think of Joe Biden; yet even his limitations may suit him for this new world. Biden is the one who knows many little things but no big thing. As gifted as he is at retail politics, he has none of Barack Obama’s talent for the sweeping formulation or inspirational language, which perhaps explains why he has fared so poorly in presidential campaigns. Biden does not project even slightly in the realm of myth. But for this very reason, he is allergic to magical, wish-fulfillment thinking. “Guys,” he’ll say — this is how he describes addressing the Joint Chiefs of Staff — “what if it doesn’t work?” An administration full of youthful true believers, enraptured with their heroic leader, needs a skeptic and a scold. Obama may need one himself. And yet Biden is also, like Obama, an optimist. As vice presidents go, he has more in common with Hubert Humphrey, the happy warrior, than with dark Dick Cheney. He may well, as Tom Lehrer once sang of Humphrey, dream of staging a coup; but he is likely to remain happy as long as he has apple carts to overturn.

Bridging a gap for India and Pakistan - To avoid a regional debacle and the Taliban gaining even more ground, Obama needs to fulfill the commitment he made to Afghanistan in March: to send more troops -- so that U.S.-NATO forces and the Afghan government can regain the military initiative -- as well as civilian experts, and more funds for development. He must bring both India and Pakistan on board and help reduce their differences; a regional strategy is necessary for any U.S. strategy in Afghanistan to have a chance. The United States needs to persuade India to be more flexible toward Pakistan while convincing Pakistanis to match such flexibility in a step-by-step process that reduces terrorist groups operating from its soil so that the two archenemies can rebuild a modicum of trust.

Poetry workshop - Fathers and fatherhood have spawned much great poetry, and this month poet and creative writing teacher Roger Robinson wants to read your take on this most intimate of subjects

Khalid Shaikh Mohammeds Trial Will Convict Us All By Paul Craig Roberts - Every American should be concerned that the Obama administration has decided to use Mohammeds trial to complete the corruption of the American court system. When Mohammeds trial is over, an American Joe Stalin or Adolf Hitler will be able to convict Americas Founding Fathers on charges of treason and terrorism. No one will be safe

Federation? Why Not? By Uri Avnery - Lately, the term federation has come into fashion again. Some people believe that it can serve as a kind of compromise between the Two-State Solution, now a world-wide consensus, and the One-State Solution that is popular in some radical circles. Federation sounds like a miracle: there will be both two states for two peoples and a single entity. Two in one, one in two

Shahid Burki, Recipe for Failure, A finger in every pie, Stretching Logic, So they Keep Silent,

Shahid Burki - Sound proposals were made by the commissions headed by Ishrat Husain and Moeen Afzal in this context. These need to be implemented. Along with better compensation should come accountability and that should be embedded in the legal system. No changes should be allowed once the system is in place. This can only happen if there is a broad political consensus behind its creation. Finally, while compensation for providing services should be increased so should the cost of being corrupt. Only then will the calculus change in favour of cleaner governance

Recipe for Failure - During the talks, the representatives of the US and the Karzai regime had their own preconditions, the most important being that the Taliban militia should accept Afghanistan’s new constitution and join the political mainstream under the existing system of governance. The Americans also wanted Mullah Omar to ditch Al-Qaeda and help arrest Osama bin Laden. The talks eventually failed due to the obstinacy of the Taliban representatives who first wanted the withdrawal of the US-led allied forces from Afghanistan.

When an elected head of the state, who is also the head of the largest political party of the country, the Supreme Commander of the country’s armed forces and (at least on papers) the man with his finger on the country’s nuclear button,{a finger in every pie?} cannot venture out of his bunker in the presidency, a five-star prison of sorts, and attacks a TV channel, a newspaper editor or a talk show anchor, he must be seriously in trouble or scared to death with insecurity.

And here please look at the order Shaheen Sehbai uses: [soldiers sacrificingtheir lives comes last)

Here is the strongest man in the country so rattled by a few reports and articles by me, or a few talk shows by Dr Shahid Masood, that he forgets to mention anything about the infamous NRO, the shame of the Kerry Lugar Bill, the gross charges of corruption, money laundering or misuse of power against him and his cronies. He did not mention the issues of sugar, atta, electricity and unemployment. He did not praise the soldiers and people fighting the deadly terrorists. He and his few people now sharing power were only worried about their own fate, with the loud spoken Zulfikar Mirza declaring to the world that he would use the Sindh Card, if worse comes to worst.

Stretching Logic - It might not be out of context to mention that the first prime minister of Pakistan from Sindh was assassinated in Punjab and those in the establishment involved in the cover up of his murder were blessed with huge estates. ZA Bhutto, the second prime minister from the same province, was killed due to a judicial verdict. The third and fourth prime ministers Muhammad Khan Junejo and Benazir Bhutto respectively, were unconstitutionally sacked and could not get justice from the judiciary. Once again the superior judiciary is being dragged into the power game to remove President Zardari from the office for which he has been elected with an overwhelming majority from four provincial Assemblies, the National Assembly and the Senate. The plan to extract a political decision on technical grounds to remove an elected president is not going to strengthen the institution of the judiciary or democracy.

So they Keep Silent- The key, therefore, is to have the silent majority to speak out, and to think with more nuance. And one can find one of those voices in the NYT report itself, when part of the Noori duo, Ali Hamza says (of the reason for not speaking out), "it's very easy for them to get rid of us." That speaks of the truth, one that we wish wasn't so.

George Dombek

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pepe Escobar: Luladinejad

Noam Chomsky - On The 9/11 Truth Movement 1/2

[thanks SR]

The mystery of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, Three Clergymen, Three Faiths, One Friendship, Islamic Banks, Ahmed Rashid,

Three Clergymen, Three Faiths, One Friendship It sounds like the start of a joke: a rabbi, a minister and a Muslim sheik walk into a restaurant. The three say they became close not by avoiding or glossing over their conflicts, but by running straight at them. But there they were, Rabbi Ted Falcon, the Rev. Don Mackenzie and Sheik Jamal Rahman, walking into an Indian restaurant, and afterward a Presbyterian church. The sanctuary was full of 250 people who came to hear them talk about how they had wrestled with their religious differences and emerged as friends.

Islamic banks launch standard wakala agreement - KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Malaysian and UK Islamic banks signed off on a standardised wakala deposit agreement on Tuesday, which some bankers said could help the industry reduce its reliance on the controversial commodity murabaha structure. Lenders such as Malaysia's Maybank Islamic, Bank Islam and CIMB Islamic, UK's Gatehouse and Indonesia's PT Bank Syariah Muamalat agreed to use the template for interbank and corporate wakala deposit placements, said an Islamic banking body.

Two quotes from Ahmed Rashid

1:Viewers may well ask where is the passionate debate about the real issues that people face - the crumbling economy, joblessness, the rising cost of living, crime and the lack of investment in health and education or settling the long-running insurgency in Balochistan province.

2: One notable channel which also owns newspapers has taken it upon itself to topple the elected government. Another insists that it will never air anything that is sympathetic to India, while all of them bring on pundits - often retired hardline diplomats, bureaucrats or retired Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officers who sport Taliban-style beards and give viewers loud, angry crash courses in anti-Westernism and anti-Indianism, thereby reinforcing views already held by many

the frown
they say
honesty is best
then why the frown
when i replied
to your query
'how do i look?'

The mystery of Dr Aafia Siddiqui Amid the blizzard of allegations about Siddiqui, the most crucial voice is yet to be heard – her own. The trial, due to start in January, has suffered numerous delays. The longest was due to a six-month psychiatric evaluation triggered by defence claims that Siddiqui was "going crazy" – prone to crying fits and hallucinations involving flying infants, dark angels and a dog in her cell. "She's in total psychic pain," said her lawyer, Dawn Cardi, claiming that she was unfit to stand trial. But at the Texas medical centre where the tests took place, Siddiqui refused to co-operate. "I can't hear you. I'm not listening," she told one doctor, sitting on the floor with her fingers in her ears. Others reported that she refused to speak with Jews, that she manipulated health workers and perceived herself to "be a martyr rather than a prisoner". Last July three of four experts determined she was malingering – faking a psychiatric illness to avoid an undesirable outcome. "She is an intelligent and at times manipulative woman who showed goal-directed and rational thinking," reported Dr Sally Johnson.

Promises, promises..., Syed Saleem Shahzad, Humayun Gohar

Promises, promises...: ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Tuesday tabled the ‘Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan’ package – based on 39 points – at a joint sitting of parliament proposing the facilitation of the return of political exiles, the immediate release of political workers and political dialogue with major stakeholders in the province. The package also proposes setting up of a fact-finding commission to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti, a judicial inquiry into the killing of three Baloch nationalist leaders, stopping the construction of cantonments in Sui and Kohlu, withdrawing the armed forces from these areas, limiting federal agencies’ operations to terrorists and tracing the missing citizens.

Syed Saleem Shahzad - A perception of this wavering has also influenced the Pakistani military. An armed forces spokesperson claimed recently that the army had reached the headquarters of the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan after a month-long campaign, and taken control of all key positions. The next step, under pressure from the US, was to have been to move into neighboring North Waziristan, the purported headquarters of al-Qaeda and the largest Taliban-led group, the Haqqani network. However, the military, given the signals coming out of Britain, Italy, France and Canada, and the dithering of US President Barack Obama over sending more troops to Afghanistan, is not prepared at this point to extend its operations.

Humayun Gauhar dispelled the public impression that Musharraf’s ouster was managed through an understanding between the new regime and foreign powers. He said the PPP couldn’t impeach Musharraf due to lack of solid evidence required for this. And National Assembly speaker Fehmida Mirza would make repeated calls to Musharraf’s military secretary, advising him to ask his boss to step down. Humayun said it was finally the Army’s high command that wanted Musharraf out in such circumstances and he finally nodded in agreement. There was no foreign power involved in the transfer of power agreement, nor even the PPP leadership. It was between the Army and Musharraf, he said.

Vaclav Cigler

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ron Paul: End the War in Afghanistan

Kala Pani in Pakistan, Children of Dust, When the cat is away, Goldman Sachs,

Book "Children of Dust": From madrasahs to middle America - Junaid Afeef - Ali Eteraz is a wonderful storyteller. His memoir “Children of Dust” (HarperOne) is an engaging story of life as a child in Pakistan to his adolescence and young adulthood in America with several pit stops in between. Children of Dust is very well written. Eteraz’s life story provides a startling look inside the painful lives led by many Pakistani children. Subtitled “A Memoir of Pakistan”, billed as creative nonfiction, and promoted as a “searing memoir revealing the truth about militant Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan”, Children of Dust is more a story of child abuse and neglect, a horribly deficient primary education system in rural Pakistan, perverted and sadistic religious teachers and their devastating impact on a young man’s life. Islam certainly played a role Eteraz’s narrative, but what really stands out is the psychological damage that abuse and neglect had on his life and the behavioral issues that stem from them.

SPENGLER : When the cat's away ... With the cat in semi-retirement, the mice are not only playing, but growing to cat-like stature. From Iran, Turkey, Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Russia, the Barack Obama administration so far has shown no action except lockjaw; the great decisions of the world are being taken outside Washington.

Goldman Sachs and US demise - Goldman Sachs showed only contempt in offering an annual US$100 million to help small business while setting aside $16.7 billion for bonuses. The US government must stop frightening Americans by saying that the sky will fall if they take action against the financial institutions that have been responsible for the country's economic crisis. - Hossein Askari and Noureddine Krichene

Kala Pani in Pakistan - If there is one quality that has defined Blackwater over the past decade, it is the ability to survive against the odds while simultaneously reinventing and rebranding itself. That is most evident in Afghanistan, where the company continues to work for the US military, the CIA and the State Department despite intense criticism and almost weekly scandals. Blackwater's alleged Pakistan operations, said the military intelligence source, are indicative of its new frontier. "Having learned its lessons after the private security contracting fiasco in Iraq, Blackwater has shifted its operational focus to two venues: protecting things that are in danger and anticipating other places we're going to go as a nation that are dangerous," he said. "It's as simple as that."

Dara Shikoh, Maureen Dowd, Friedman, NYC trial


Yoginder Sikand - Dara Shikoh, eldest son of the Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan, and heir apparent to his throne, was born near Ajmer in 1615 C.E. It is said that before Dara’s birth, Shah Jahan had paid a visit to the tomb of the great Chishti Sufi mystic, Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer and there had prayed for a son to be born to him, since all his earlier children had been daughters. Thus, when Dara was born great festivities were held in Delhi, the imperial capital, for the Emperor now had an heir to succeed him to the throne. The Emperor Shah Jahan’s serious illness in l657 C.E. was the signal of a war of succession among his sons. Aurangzeb grabbed the throne in 1658, and had his father imprisoned in the fort at Agra, where he died eight years later. He then ordered the execution of Dara, who, as Shah Jahan’s eldest son, was considered to be the rightful heir to the throne. Although the conflict between the two may actually have been, at root, political, it was sought to be given a religious garb. Dara was accused by Aurangzeb and some ‘ulama attached to the royal court of infidelity and heresy. Accordingly, he was executed under a royal decree issued by Aurangzeb in 1659 C.E.. He lies buried, a forgotten hero, in a nondescript grave in the tomb complex of the Emperor Humayun in Delhi. [thank AK]

Maureen Dowd - Dither, dither, speech. Foreign trip, bow, reassure. Seminar, summit. Shoot a jump shot with the guys, throw out the first pitch in mom jeans. Compromise, concede, close the deal. Dither, dither, water down, news conference.....t’s time for the president to reinvent this formula and convey a more three-dimensional person....Palin can be stupefyingly simplistic, but she seems dynamic. Obama is impressively complex but he seems static...She nurtures her grass roots while he neglects his....He struggles to transcend identity politics while she wallows in them. As he builds an emotional moat around himself, she exuberantly pushes whatever she has, warts and all — the good looks, the tabloid-perfect family, the Alaska quirkiness, the kids with the weird names.

Thomas Friedman - These six factors {read the link) are pushing our system, which was designed to have divided powers and to force compromises, into the realm of paralysis. To get anything big done now, we have to generate so many compromises — couched in 1,000-plus-page bills — with so many different interest groups that the solutions are totally suboptimal. We just get the sum of all interest groups.

The Real Price of Trying KSM - All of these motions and three dozen more will be either denied or denuded of any significant impact on the disposition of the case. The speedy-trial argument will fail. Important documents will be scrubbed and redacted to the point of unintelligibility or will be ruled irrelevant. The motions to dismiss will all be denied. And though some of KSM's statements will be suppressed in order to preserve the appearance of impartiality and integrity, plenty of the most damming ones will remain admissible. While condemning in stern language the terrible treatment of KSM and denouncing water-boarding as beneath the high standards of our justice system, the trial judge will nonetheless admit into evidence statements made by KSM in subsequent military tribunals, along with those made to a so-called "clean team" of interrogators, rendering all the suppressed evidence utterly insignificant.

Musings from dreamland, The busy Chief Justice,

Mehma should know that our Chief Justice is a very busy man and has a bulging briefcase. Also he has no time for issues which she deems to be of significance ~ t

The busy Chief Justice - Last year, a TV evangelist declared the Ahmediswajib-ul-qatl’ (worthy of being killed) in his television programme on a renowned television channel. This led to the killing of three Ahmedis, while countless threats were made to the Ahmediya community after this infamous television programme. Why were no charges pressed against this anchorperson on incitement to violence and murder? Why was no suo motu action taken against him? Why was this programme not banned altogether? These questions lead one to a single conclusion: threats to minority communities are not considered an ‘important’ issue.

Pardon my disbelief - the following is an excerpt from a very seasoned and experienced writer who is addressing a person who took a 200 million loan, defaulted, and with interest which ballooned to 547 millions, which s/he steeled for 40 million. ~ t

Musings from dreamland - Mr Gilani should make a concrete beginning to stamp out corruption. He should set up a commission to determine the causes of the rampant corruption and what the government and civil society could do to reduce its incidence. He should make the freedom-of-information law more effective and accessible. It will bring transparency in government actions and strengthen democracy.

Pablo Picasso

Monday, November 23, 2009

Charter for Compassion

About the Project

The Charter for Compassion is the result of Karen Armstrong’s 2008 TED Prize wish and made possible by the generous support of the Fetzer Institute. It will be unveiled to the world on November 12, 2009.

Why a Charter for Compassion?

The Charter of Compassion is a cooperative effort to restore not only compassionate thinking but, more importantly, compassionate action to the center of religious, moral and political life. Compassion is the principled determination to put ourselves in the shoes of the other, and lies at the heart of all religious and ethical systems. One of the most urgent tasks of our generation is to build a global community where men and women of all races, nations and ideologies can live together in peace. In our globalized world, everybody has become our neighbor, and the Golden Rule has become an urgent necessity.

The Charter, crafted by people all over the world and drafted by a multi-fath, multi-national council of thinkers and leaders, seeks to change the conversation so that compassion becomes a key word in public and private discourse, making it clear that any ideology that breeds hatred or contempt ~ be it religious or secular ~ has failed the test of our time. It is not simply a statement of principle; it is above all a summons to creative, practical and sustained action to meet the political, moral, religious, social and cultural problems of our time.

We invite each of you to adopt the charter as your own, to make a lifelong commitment to live with compassion..

More on this here.
[thanks YA]

Asif Ezdi, Awami Tehreek, Anjum NIaz, Shaheen Sehbai, Mr. Why Khan

Photographs from Seven Years with the Roma - What began as a short visit to Hungary finished seven years later with a prize-winning book documenting the lives of the Roma people, from India to Eastern Europe. The photos are now on display in Germany. And with Berlin planning to repatriate up to 10,000 Roma, they are more than just pretty pictures.

Asif Ezdi - Gilani should also order investigations into the Islamabad land deal scandal and the Agosta kickback affair in which Zardari has been implicated. An investigation is not a ‘criminal proceeding’ covered by the constitutional immunity of the president. If Zardari is really innocent, as he claims, then he has nothing to fear and should welcome the opportunity to clear his name.

Awami Tehreek’s long march concludes - The 46-day long march started by the Awami Tehreek (AT) on October 8 from Kandhkot culminated in Karachi on Sunday with a huge gathering on Zaibunissa Street, where speakers delivered fiery speeches criticizing the government and the United States.

Anjum Niaz - ‘If Musharraf was to go down south (exit),’ Hersh said four years ago, ‘there’ll be a traffic jam! There’ll be the CIA, Mossad and RAW jumping in to grab your nuclear facilities. It will be a free-for-all. The ISI and the Pakhtoons are terribly concerned.’ Earlier, he alleged in a November 2001 New Yorker article that Al Qaida was founded at a 1988 meeting in Peshawar. He quoted a former Pakistani diplomat who said, ‘If you go through the officers’ list, almost all of the ISI regulars would say of the Taliban, ‘They are my boys.’’ - I pressed on with my questions on Pakistan’s security issues vis-à-vis Iran and India. How would a nearly nuclear armed Iran react if India and Pakistan were to go to war? In his typical New York accent, he answered, ‘Iran is not making nuclear weapons. It’s Israel you should be worrying about. With 600 nukes bristling under its arm, Tel Aviv is the greatest threat to the regional security. Other than Pakistan, there’s no Muslim country with a bomb.’

Shaheen Sehbai As a starter Gilani can slash his cabinet and remove all the tainted NRO hit ministers, advisers and ambassadors. In one go, he will boost his image and credibility and deliver a fatal blow to the one-man style of governance that has led the PPP into a corner in just two years. The PM should then move with super speed to get the 17th Amendment repealed, get the competent and popular PPP leaders back into the party fold, take Mian Nawaz Sharif and others on board, even in his cabinet, as in the early days of the coalition. Get a political consensus on major issues, start a dialogue with moderates in the ranks of militants and then lead the country with a focus on ending the miseries of the poor harassed masses and crushing the militancy. True to form Mr Sehbai mentions not a word about the millions Gilani's wife gained from the NRO --millions? yes to the tune of 570 million according to some reports ~ t

When have you heard or read Mr. Khan about his role in the why-why-why he is so fond of asking? ~~t

Tobias Kobsch

Sunday, November 22, 2009

poetry: tweems - tweet-poems

she pulled her palloo
across her face
and handed him his lunch
the smile on his face
spelled love
in the mid noon sun

mushrooming fault-lines
raining all over
turning walls
into wailing ones

kisay dhoond rahay ho?
such ko
woh busy hay
haaN - bridge tournament
such khuda ka partner hay
oh achcha

searching for something?
yes, Truth
Truth is busy
yes, playing bridge
Truth is God's partner
oh, ok

so much can be revealed
how much, she asked
way too much but not all
you are mischievous
believe that at your peril

tou maiN kya karooN
suraj ki roshni
barish ki cheentaiN
kisi ki muskurahat
kisi ki bakwas
sub per barabar girti haiN

captivating smile
idle chatter
are so democratic

it is shutters down late
kiya karaiN?
we can only
make love, surf
or sleep

and if you have a twitter account


An accused Plotter,

An accused Plotter,

Today, Mr. Headley is an Islamic fundamentalist who once liked to get high. He has a traditional Pakistani wife, who lives with their children in Chicago, but also an American girlfriend, a makeup artist in New York, according to a relative and friends. Depending on the setting, he alternates between the name he adopted in the United States, David Headley, and the Urdu one he was given at birth, Daood Gilani. Even his eyes — one brown, the other green — hint that he has roots in two places. An Accused Plotter With Feet in East and West

If you spot a mistake in above contact Barclay Walsh;)
Reporting was contributed by Puk Damsgard in Islamabad, Pakistan; Emma Graves Fitzsimmons in Chicago; Nate Schweber and John Eligon in New York; and Ian Austen in Ottawa. Research was contributed by Barclay Walsh in Washington.

20 Weird, Crazy Ideas for Helping the Earth

  • Paul Bowles On the 10th anniversary of Paul Bowles's death, Paul Theroux remembers Paul Bowles, the writer and traveller who set him on his way

Karzai Cartel: Uh, Sure, We’ll Clean Up Corruption!

Note: Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. You know what’s funny? Hamid Karzai, Electioneer-in-Chief, stood between these two guys, Mohammed Qasim Fahim and Karim Khalili to declare [h/t and photo credit, Wired's Danger Room blog]: Those who spread corruption should be tried and prosecuted. Corruption is a very [...]

Roy Lichtenstein

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sixty Hours of Terror: “It’s Do or Die”, The Elephant, Oprah, Occupied Palestine, Iraq, Rajasthan, Faux News, Karzai, Rove's Memory Loss,Paul Krugman

Sixty Hours of Terror: “It’s Do or Die” - By Jason Motlagh - Editor’s Note—This is part two of a four-part series [1, 2, 3, 4] on the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.

The elephant in India and Iran's room - Try as India and Iran may to halt the downward slide in their relations, cooperation in the all-important energy sector remains stuck in a rut. Negotiations between the two countries during the recent visit of Iran's foreign minister made "good progress", though apprehension over drawing American ire ultimately stands in India's way. - Sudha Ramachandran

Oprah's Most Memorable TV Moments (PHOTOS) - By The Huffington Post News Editors
Oprah's Friday announcement that "The Oprah Winfrey Show" — which began in 1985 — will end its run in the fall of 2011 will bring to a close one of television's most legendary shows.
Below, we've compiled 12 of the most memorable "Oprah" show moments. Vote on your favorites.

Bantustans and the unilateral declaration of statehood - From a rumor, to a rising murmur, the proposal floated by the Palestinian Authority's (PA) Ramallah leadership to declare Palestinian statehood unilaterally has suddenly hit center stage. It's no exaggeration to propose that this idea, although well-meant by some, raises the clearest danger to the Palestinian national movement in its entire history, threatening to wall Palestinian aspirations into a political cul-de-sac from which it may never emerge. Virginia Tilley comments for The Electronic Intifada.

Iraqi elections thrown off track - Vice President Tarek al-Hashemi, by using his veto to block an important election law, has thrown Iraq once again into political crisis. Parliament will have to try to sort out the mess the Sunni politician has made if elections are to go ahead in January. The scheduled draw-down of United States troops is also now in doubt. - Sami Moubayed

Book review: A Palestinian century in a poet's life - My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness bills itself as "A Poet's Life in the Palestinian Century." To better understand Adina Hoffman's biography of the Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali, however, consider it: "A Palestinian Century in a Poet's Life." But this syntactical slip doesn't discredit Hoffman's work. By deftly stacking shattered recollections atop dusty stones of history Hoffman has built a literary landmark -- not only is My Happiness the first English-language biography of a Palestinian writer, it offers an evocative biography of pre-1948 Palestine. Mya Guarnieri reviews for The Electronic Intifada.

World" href="" target=_blank>36 Hours in Rajasthan, India - By By KABIR CHIBBER on Rajasthan (India)
The country is modernizing rapidly, sometimes too fast, but this spectacular old region endures, evoking rulers with giant mustaches and spectacular forts and palaces.

Fox News' year in apologies: fake videos, false info, cutting and pasting from GOP - By E.H.H.
On November 19, co-host Jane Skinner apologized for Happening Now "mistakenly" airing a fake video of Sarah Palin's book tour "crowds." This was not the first time Fox News has apologized for airing fake videos and false information.

World" href="" target=_blank>Ex-Military Officer in Pakistan Is Linked to 2 Chicago Terrorism Suspects - By By DAVID JOHNSTON and ERIC SCHMITT on Lashkar-e-Taiba - Federal authorities have long suspected connections between extremists and many members of the Pakistani military.

Q&A: "Karzai Assigned a Rabbit to Take Care of the Carrot" - By Chris Arsenault interviews MALALAI JOYA, author and Afghan parliamentarian
VANCOUVER, Canada, Nov 20 (IPS) - In the aftermath of national elections widely condemned as fraudulent, the United States and its allies are wondering what to do about Afghanistan.

Rove memory loss: Op-ed accuses Obama of "unusual" use of Friday news dumps - By D.C.P.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, former Bush official Karl Rove criticized the "degree" to which the Obama administration has released "news on contentious issues late on Friday," adding that "such tactics ... can look disingenuous if they undercut public debate on substantive policy changes"; later on Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade cited Rove's column and asserted that the administration's use of this tactic means it did not have to "confront the questioners." In fact, the Bush administration made numerous substantial and often controversial announcements on Fridays, including news about the Abu Ghraib scandal and a report related to the Pentagon's military analyst program.

Paull Krugman - So here’s the real tragedy of the botched bailout: Government officials, perhaps influenced by spending too much time with bankers, forgot that if you want to govern effectively you have retain the trust of the people. And by treating the financial industry — which got us into this mess in the first place — with kid gloves, they have squandered that trust.