Fear drives conspiracy of silence in Pakistan

October 26, 2009

Many Pakistanis and their leaders may hate the Taliban, but few dare speak openly against them for fear of reprisals from the hardline Islamist group.

The militants have carried out four attacks and killed at least a dozen people since the army launched an assault on their South Waziristan stronghold, while more than 150 people were killed in a deadly spree preceding the offensive – including a brazen raid on army headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Yet despite the attacks, few Pakistanis are prepared to come forward and bear witness against the militants.

While Naveed Haider was not afraid to give his version of events after witnessing the drive-by shooting of an army brigadier in the capital, he said he understood why others were more relectuant.

“They are scared,” he said pointing to a dozen people standing around him. “The shooting took place in front of all these people, but no one will speak because they are fightened.”

“What can we do?” a man in the crowd responded. “We are poor people. How can we speak?”

The apparent fear is not confined to ordinary people and seems even to have struck the country’s leaders — many who don’t move without a heavy bodyguard.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani invited political leaders for a briefing with the army chief before the South Waziristan offensive,  but former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the main opposition leader, and Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, an Islamist ally of the government, declined to attend.

“Nawaz falls ill, Maulana flies off, both avoid Taliban fury,” The News said.

Though Sharif was represented by his brother Shahbaz, chief minister of central Punjab province, the newspaper quoted unidentified “knowledegable sources” as saying that Sharif opted out because he didn’t want to be viewed as supporting the offensive “at a time when the Taliban had already started vengeful strikes in different parts of the country”.

Underlining security concerns, Shahbaz is seeking the postponement of a Punjab by-election due early next month on the grounds that the family faced threats from the militants.

Rehman, head of Jamiat-e-ulema-e-Islam, the country’s largest Islamic political party which draws much of its support from the northwest where most of the militants operate, also missed the government’s briefing on the offensive, the newspaper said. He has received threats from the militants in the past.

Some analysts say Sharif’s ambivalence might be linked to his political rivalry with President Asif Ali Zardari who has seen his popularity plunge, but local media urged a stance against extremism.

“At this time of great danger, we must also ask: what else will shake leaders such as Nawaz Sharif, who are still on the fence, to take a firm stand against militants and support the effort to subdue them?” Dawn asked in an editorial entitled “The evil in our midst”.

Karachi resident Quratulain Shafi, in a letter published in the Daily Times, called on politicians to bury their differences in the face of mounting problems faced by the country. “Stick to your word,” he said.

“We need both major political parties … to work together and with an eye on Pakistan’s interests, rather than their own, if the country is to succeed in defeating the current challenges.”

(Photos: Police in Lahore, and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif)

Comments

Mortal:”Of course not. You would rather have Taliban run afghanistan so that your Generals can control it & use it as ’strategic depth” against India. Corrupt he may be, but at least he has the moral courage to stand up against all forms terrorism & extremism.”-ahh, i dont know if to laugh at your ignorance or to cry, just open your eyes and help yourself with the report below:Why the CIA Can’t Be Picky About Afghan Partnershttp://www.time.com/time/world/a rticle/0,8599,1932967,00.html”The brother has also long been accused of being one of Afghanistan’s biggest narcotics dealers”"Ahmed Wali Karzai, is a CIA source”"If it sounds a lot like Vietnam when Vietnam started to really come apart, it is — President Diem’s grotesquely corrupt brother was a CIA source and a noxious agent of influence.”"It would be fascinating to know what kind of intelligence Ahmed Wali Karzai is giving the CIA. If he’s telling it that things are fine in Afghanistan, that more American soldiers, time and money will take care of the Taliban and that Hamid Karzai is a competent leader, well, then we have a real problem. One that’s a lot bigger than drugs. And it’s an even bigger problem if the White House believes anything Karzai has to say.”"You can take it to the bank that the CIA knows all of this, just as it knew in the early ’60s that Diem’s brother was a corrupt thug.”"The real question for the U.S. should not be about the morality of a drug dealer on the CIA’s payroll but whether it’s a metaphor for the huge challenge we face in Afghanistan. Do we stand any chance at all of building a modern, peaceful nation with confederates like Ahmed Wali Karzai? Vietnam would suggest the answer is no.”"Ahmed Wali went flat-out to subvert U.S. policy in these elections, but no political price was paid by either him or his brother,” says Michael Semple, an Afghan specialist now with the Carr Foundation for Human Rights in Cambridge.Karzai’s brother has organized widespread rigging in the South to legitimize his reelection undermining the democratic process. Both the brothers are taking Afghanistan down total destruction, corrupt, involved in drug trade and need 60,000 American soldiers, their money and resources to sit on a booming drug trade.My way, Karzai has the moral courage to stand up to all forms of extremism and terrorism, while his brother under his nose runs a drug trade and funds a strike force harrassing business counterparts and killing, torturing them. Maybe Hamid Karzai has no moral courage to stand up to his brother. If Americans were not stupid they would get rid of these two stooges and work out to winn allies in Pashtun Tribal elders and reverse the momentum of insurgency.We Pakistanis have our Pushtun brother’s just across in Afghanistan with 46% of population, we have tribal links and ties. They are our cousins. The situation in Afghanistan affects us and that country is very important for Pakistan’s own security. A true representative government in Afghanistan will stabilize it and improve relations with all its neighbours.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive
 

“it is real easy for most of you hiding cowardly behind your computers and television and criticize and make snide comments, that’s because most of you are not living with the fear of becoming a victim of these attacks. I have seen upclose and personal the every day fear these people have to live with it and it is heart wreanching. I pray for all these victims and their family and all of pakistan.” Desouza.1. If you think Indians here doesn’t regret loss of innocent lives to religious and fanatical thugs you are well advised to change that point of view.2. Isn’t it cowardly to sit behind a computer screen and slander others?3. Many of us have lived through this same fear for our families, friends and fellow citizens. Im sure your heart also lurched for the thousands of innocent Indian lives lost. Some of us have suffered personal losses due to the actions of these morons who have been nurtured and sent across the border by our neighbours. They in fact are now sadly learning that one cant run with hare and hunt with the hound indefinitely.4. Please believe me, you are not alone opr the only one here in having seen everyday fear in peoples eyes for the same reason.5. If you feel that Indians do not have empathy with what ordinary Pakistani citizens are going through, please go through these comments carefully again.

 

The way they can stop the recent conflict is to find things both parties can agree on. They need to accept thier differences. No one ever agrees on everything. We must find world peace now. Every war affects us all and breaks our hearts. Good luck to all of them.

Posted by Angie Jackson | Report as abusive
 

And now Hillary is calling it a spade!http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-d yn/content/article/2009/10/29/AR20091029 00452.html?hpid=moreheadlinesClinton puzzled at Pakistan failure to find al QaedaBy Andrew QuinnReutersThursday, October 29, 2009; 10:10 AM”I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to,” she told a group of newspaper editors during a meeting in Lahore.

 

Umair writes: “Brother of Afghan Leader Said to Be Paid by C.I.A.”Umair,I’d like to know why you have suddenly shifted gears and have started going after Karzai. Is this still pointing fingers outside syndrome? Your military might have valiant soldiers. But the system is corrupt to the core. It is the main culprit behind all the ills in the region. Karzai might be corrupt. But that’s all they’ve got. The alternative is the Taliban. Between the devil and the deep blue sea, there is not much choice right now. Afghanistan needs a head of state to creep out of the problem it is in. Corrupt politicians are any day better than warped military generals who want to engage in conflicts all the time. This is not a cricket match. People die when conflicts happen. You must really change your mindset about your military and the intelligence departments. They are the reason for all the fire that is burning down the whole region. Barking at Karzai or the Indians will not do any good. This is the time for inward looking. The PA is not protecting anyone. It is protecting itself and its self interest. And Pakistan, the nation is a huge sand bag that it is hiding behind. The bag will only take so much of bullets. And it is beginning to collapse. So drive those who are hiding behind it.

 

MauryanToday ordinary Pakistanis have great respect and support for our Army, they are laying down their lives to protect our way of life and freedom. As someone who lost a friend, young officer in Army I know them who were officers, soldiers, they had families and everything. They left everything and sacrificed even their life. The support will remain unwavering.I have more news for you, the visit of Secretary Clinton to Pakistan is remarkable and I am listening and closely watching her debates, speech and discussions with officials and media even students, public in Pakistan. US has recognized Pakistan as a more senior partner in AfPak region, as the corrupt Karzai regime has miserably failed in Afghanistan, alongwith his bandit brother, both Karzai’s days are numbered. Afghanistan has many honest tribal elders, they are a conservative society where feuds have always been sorted out through Loya Jirga (Grand tribal meeting). That is the way to go, Obama administration is turning to local governors of Afghan provinces and those who wield power in regions and turning away and distancing themselves from the corrupt Kabul government of Karzai who has no legitimacy with its majority of people. Pakistan will continue to work with US in shaping the policy according to the complex dynamics of the region. And surely this relationship is maturing now with both Pakistan and US moving towards a strategic relationship rather than a short term tactical one.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive
 

@If Americans were not stupid they would get rid of these two stooges and work out to winn allies in Pashtun Tribal elders and reverse the momentum of insurgency.”-UmairUmair: Even Zardari and others are called stooges of US –especially over K-L bill and otherwise. You are sounding more and more like a stereotypical american who is not knowledgeable of others and having unrealistic expectations in Afghanistan. You should know more about the personal biography of Hamid Karzai and socio-political complexities of Afghanistan. I am shocked at your expectations of a perfect political process emerging from a dead country (thanks to US/Soviets/pakistan/Taliban combination) in short time, and that you expect emergence of a national level leader whom all war lords and all tribes will love. Even Pakistan does not have a national level leader who could give any permanence to Pakistan political system after 62 yrs. It still is vulnerable to military coups. Afghanistan is also vulnerable to people who took power using gun.As a concerned neighbor who calls Pashtuns as their brothers, I hope you have a better alternative than Talibans in mind—haven’t seen from you yet. Logically, if there is something wrong, you fix it, not tear everything apart. Installing those who carry power with the gun but no heart is no solution unless you have better alternative. Taliban govt aided by Saudis/Pak/UAE brought order in the chaos but along with it, brought barbaric acts that Afghans faced. Do you have better alternative this time—some other leader hidden somewhere in Afghanistan —in addition to non-Pashtun Abdullah Abdullah. Loia Zirga is good at local levels, but Afghanistan with its neighbors wanting a piece of its needs a national govt.Have you ever wondered why Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid who knows this region like the back of his hand admires Hamid Karzai a lot? If am man with an insight says, there must be a reason, right? Find out what that could be. Throwing words likes stooge of US, mayor of Kabul and other rah rah is naïve. Also do yourself a favor by looking at ISI/Taliban drug business links. Everyone has their cut in this including ISI which gets money for letting the drug business flow smoothly. Attacking Karzai govt on this is like exposing Pakistan involvement.@ US work out to winn allies in Pashtun Tribal elders and reverse the momentum of insurgency.” Not a bad suggestion, but one needs an Afghan face which is Karzai considering the worsening reputation of Americans among Afghans. Pashtun Tribal elders are important and have a higher place in a hierarchy even higher than a Mullah. Taliban destroyed that hierarchy pretty bad and killed hundreds of elders during their golden period or ruling Afghanisan. Afghan-Taliban is still in place. So what are you expecting from tribal elders this time?

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Umair,Can you enlighten me as to which part of my ‘ignorance’ do you find amusing? As I mentioned, Karzai might well be corrupt & the report about his brother’s involvement in narcotics trade might be true or might be speculative, there’s no concrete evidence of it.Tell me Umair, is there any South Asian country where corruption isn’t prevalent? Corruption exists in every developing & third world country. The less developed a nation, the more the corruption & obviously Afghanistan has a long way to go with regards to development. Are there any Pakistani leaders (civil or military), you know of, who are not corrupt TO THE CORE? In fact Zardari & Nawaz Sharif are amongst the top 5 richest men in Pakistan & we don’t even know about the wealth of the Generals, who have ruled Pakistan during most of it’s existence.The question that I’d like to ask is, why is there such a strong anti-Karzai propaganda & sentiment in Pakistan? Why are you guys so much concerned about the ‘corruption’ in Afghanistan & about your ‘Pashtun brothers’, whom you treat like animals on your side of the border?This is nothing but pure & simple hypocrisy. You guys were OK with the brutal & ruthless taliban regime (who used to publicly to shoot women in soccer stadiums for not covering their ankles), as long as they served your purpose & were in cahoots with your immoral generals in Rawalpindi. But now you have a BIG problem with the corruption of the democratically elected, moderate Karzai Govt. Gimme a break!The real reason that Pakistan’s military establishment hates Karzai & is hell-bent on bringing it down is because he is unambiguously against all forms of terrorism & has bluntly & forthrightly exposed the involvement of the Pakistani establishment with numerous terrorist outfits. Your generals also hate him because they can’t swallow the fact the he is taking the help of Indians in rebuilding his country. These are the real reasons that your establishment is churning out the hate propaganda against Karzai & his Govt., so please spare us your concern for the ‘corruption’& your ‘Pashtun brothers’ in Afghanistan. They are nothing but crocodile tears.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

“Today ordinary Pakistanis have great respect and support for our Army, they are laying down their lives to protect our way of life and freedom” – Posted by UmairUmair, nobody is asking you & other Pakistanis, not to support your troops/army. I have traveled to many countries across the globe & I can tell you, there’s no country in the world which supports it’s troops more than the US. There’s no public event, all across america (sports events, cultural events, social events, political events etc) where ‘God bless America’ isn’t sung & a moment of silence isn’t made to remember our troops. BUT that doesn’t stop the people to protest against & question the administration & tdecision makers for making wrong decisions & putting the troops in harms way.In fact people like you & others, who have lost loved ones in armed conflicts should be even more mad at your military establishment for creating a situation, which has not only put the military personal at risk but also innocent civilians, who are being targeted everyday.You & other Pakistanis should ask them as to why did your army/ISI create and/or breed these terrorists, who are creating havoc in your country?You should ask them as to why did they bankrupt, radicalize & ruin your country with unnecessary wars, fake threats & their support of terror outfits?You should ask them as to why did they upstage your democracy over & over and never let any of your country’s institutions strengthen?It is good to be patriotic Umair but please keep your eyes open & don’t be afraid to call a spade, a spade. Your allegiance should lie with your country ‘Pakistan’ & not to the group of individuals who have violated & ruined it.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

The whole country is burning….look at the priorities of Radio Pakistan! Hilarious jokers.http://sify.com/news/Radio-Pakist an-39-s-latest-worry-is-adulteration-of- food-in-Punjab-news-jk3sucjbbcd.htmlRadi o Pakistan’s latest worry is adulteration of food in Punjab2009-10-29 18:20:00Radio Pakistan in its latest broadcast has expressed concern on adulteration of food in Punjab. The allegation is that all traders are Hindus and they are doing so to hurt the Sikh community. ….”Shopkeepers are both Hindus and Sikhs and they buy things from the same shops, so this can’t be proved scientifically that some thing has adverse effect on Sikhs and not on Hindus,” said Parkash Doshi, a senior lawyer.:-)

 

Mortal:”please spare us your concern for the ‘corruption’& your ‘Pashtun brothers’ in Afghanistan. They are nothing but crocodile tears.”-Mortal first see below:HIGHLY TOUTED, BUT MISGUIDED IDEAS ABOUT AFGHANISTANhttp://worldblog.msnbc.msn.co m/archive/2009/10/30/2114317.aspx”4) Sending more troops for counter-insurgency and more civilian experts for nation-building is a waste of time and resources if there’s no national afghan leader in place.?This may seem like a solid point, but think again. In reality, there has never been a tradition of strong central government in Afghanistan.When I spoke to tribal elders in Helmand province just before the Aug. 20 elections, many told me they had never even seen a politician from Kabul before. In Afghanistan, politics are truly local. District and provincial councilmen are the powerbrokers whose faces matter to most Afghans, not President Hamid Karzai or his rival candidate in the run-off elections Abdullah Abdullah.U.S. military and aid officials certainly get that. Since 2006, they’ve directly invested millions of dollars in discretionary funds into local programs, like alternative farming or the opening of schools and clinics, all on the village level, thus circumventing the corruption-tainted government. Their logic? Seven years of failed top-down reconstruction has turned Afghanistan into one of the donor world’s deepest money pits.So, while the West rightly hopes for a legitimate Afghan leader back in Kabul, some local programs are making a difference on the ground. It may be surprising, but progress is possible without a presidential fiat…or even a president.”Mortal, Karzai has been given enough time to prove his competence, but US is fed up with him now. That is ground reality, Pakistan too has had enough with him. He is seen as someone who is working against Pakistan’s interests. No one is shedding croc tears, Pakistanis have a great affect on their lives due to situation in Afghanistan and our tribal areas. If Karzai cannot correct his mistakes, time to show him the door. The real structure of Afghanistan is like that, its a tribal based society. My tribe is my network of support where my loyalty lies if I am an Afghan. The President in Kabul doesnt matter to those living in far villages.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive
 

@Karzai has been given enough time to prove his competence, but US is fed up with him now. That is ground reality, Pakistan too has had enough with him. He is seen as someone who is working against Pakistan’s interests.-Umair–Afghanistan is a separate country and leave them alone. Karzai is not out there to please Pakistanis. Remember you ask India the same thing.BTW give me one good reason–really–why would an Afghan–Pashthun or non-Pashtun love Pakistan knowing very well that Pakistan created Afghan Taliban that chopped limbs and severed heads of Afghans. No wonder all Afghans hate Pakistan.ISI was alway unhappy with Karzai since he denied ISI/Taliban offer to represent Taliban govt internationally. It was Taliban/ISI that killed Karzai’s father. Just before 9/11, Karzai was given notice to leave the region. But then 9/11 happened and the whole thing changed. Americans took time to appreciate him from the beginning –they had no clue who he is.This whole anti-Karzai propaganda is beginning of another pre-9/11 period for Afghanistan.Brace Afghan bros

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

people in pakistan should know that it has no enemies.there are some ofcourse who are working feverishly and are prepared to pay billions in order to deprive them from their nuclear arsenal and there are those who would do everything to support pakistan military confront its own people.peace in this region will benefit all in the world. the outside powers should therefore stop meddling in pakistan affairs as long as their territory is not being used to attack others.pakistan leaders should stop shooting in their own feet.

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive
 

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