Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
from Afghan Journal:
Steve Coll, the president of the New America Foundation and a South Asia expert, has raised the issue of the safety of Pakistan's nuclear weapons in the wake of the assassination of the governor of most populous Punjab state by one of his bodyguards. It's a question that comes up each time Pakistan is faced with a crisis whether it a major act of violence such as this or a political/economic meltdown or a sudden escalation of tensions with India obviously, but also the United States.
Pakistan's security establishment bristles at suggestions that it could be any less responsible than other states in defending its nuclear arsenal, and its leaders and experts have repeatedly said that the professional army is the ultimate guardian of its strategic assets.
But Coll in a blog at The New Yorker says at some stage in a domestic insurgency when your own people are fighting you, the lines between the guerrillas and the security forces often get blurred with dangerous consequences. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed by two of her Sikh bodyguards in 1984 incensed by her decision to send the Indian army into the holiest Sikh shrine to flush out militants a few months before.
The Pakistani police officer who killed governor Salman Taseer was similarly no Lee Harvey Oswald, but a regular government employee who was apparently angry over the governor's strident defence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, a case that exposed deep rifts in Pakistani society. Coll writes :
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
A spate of gun and bomb attacks seen as a response to the Pakistan Army's offensive in South Waziristan has sent jitters across Pakistan, including in the normally peaceful capital Islamabad.
Conventional wisdom would have it that the attacks on both security services and civilians would eventually turn the people against Islamist militants rather as happened in Iraq at the height of the violence there. But as yet, there is no sign of a clear and coherent leadership emerging that might be able to forge a consensus against the militants.
The camps will probably be smaller and the skills on offer less photogenic to al Qaeda’s online video audience, but that is no deterrent to Arabs, Central Asians and Europeans making their way to the turbulent northwestern tribal areas.
According to the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors al Qaeda-linked propaganda on the Web and translates it for the benefit of security analysts and counter-terrorism officials, the militant chat rooms have been buzzing for weeks with excited comment.
One of the problems with countries like Syria – secretive and authoritarian – is that whenever a bomb goes off or someone is assassinated, the list of possible suspects is extensive.
One can draw up a long list of enemies who could have plotted and carried out Saturday’s rare car bomb attack on a major road near a Syrian state security complex and an intersection leading to a famous Shi’ite Muslim shrine. The blast, which killed 17 people including a brigadier general and his son, poses another test to Syria’s reputation for keeping a tight grip on dissent and maintaining stability in a troubled area.
However, the militants have proved themselves to be resilient. Bombings and ambushes over the past week have caused at least 65 deaths, making it the bloodiest in years, and the toll so far for August stands at more than 80. That is the worst month in a long time.
So Prime Minister Gordon Brown has succeeded – by the skin of his teeth — in getting Britain’s House of Commons to approve new police counter-terrorism powers that were condemned by civil liberties groups, a former prime minister, a U.N. human rights investigator and several dozen of Brown’s own Labour MPs. The Guardian newspaper writes about ‘Liberty, security and an anxiety over lost rights’.
And even the government admits the power to hold terrorism suspects for up to 42 days before charging or releasing them has never been needed until now: it wants it as an insurance policy against future attacks or plots in which the police may need more than the 28 days they now have in order to investigate tangled international links, false identities and masses of encrypted computer files.