Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
It seems that everyone is talking about shoes these days, so much so that I expect the expression “to throw a shoe” will soon acquire a meaning far broader than the original incident.
According to The News in a report from Rawalpindi, “the episode of hurling shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush remained talk of the town, as people belonging to different walks of life expressed their extreme excitement over the incident and praised the ‘brave act’ of the Iraqi journalist. ‘The News’ interviewed a number of people who were all praise for Iraqi journalist Muntazar al-Zaidi…” it said.
The shoe-throwing has also fired the imagination of the Pakistan blogosphere, providing a perhaps welcome respite to discussion about the extent of Pakistan’s involvement in the Mumbai attacks. Changing up Pakistan (CHUP) has matched up a YouTube video of Bush in Baghdad with footage of protesters hitting a former chief minister of Sindh province with a sandal.
Other blogs are running with a spoof statement from the Pentagon saying the Americans have proof that the shoes had links to Pakistan.
For the record, the shoes had no link to Pakistan, nor indeed to any of the other countries that laid claim to them. Reuters reporter Waleed Ibrahim tracked down Zaidi’s brother who confirmed the shoes were made in a Baghdad factory. “One hundred percent they are Iraqi-made shoes,” Udai al-Zaidi said.
Chinese naval ships may soon be steaming into the Gulf of Aden to join a growing fleet of international warships fighting Somali pirates.
A first probably for a navy that has long confined itself to its own waters, the move is certain to stir interest in the strategic community stretching from New Delhi to Washington.
According to Pakistani newspaper the Daily Times, Pakistan’s decision to crack down on the Jammat-ud-Dawa, the charity linked to the Laskhar-e-Taiba, came as the result of pressure from China. Jammat-ud-Dawa was blacklisted by a UN Security Council committee this week.
The Daily Times noted that earlier attempts to target the Jamaat-ud-Dawa at the Security Council had been vetoed by China. “It is the Chinese “message” that has changed our mind. The Chinese did not veto the banning of Dawa on Wednesday, and they had reportedly told Islamabad as much beforehand, compelling our permanent representative at the UN to assert that Pakistan would accept the ban if it came,” the newspaper said. “One subliminal message was also given to Chief Minister Punjab, Mr Shehbaz Sharif, during his recent visit to China, and the message was that Pakistan had to seek peace with India or face change of policy in Beijing. Once again, it is our friend China whose advice has been well taken…”
Pakistan has begun a crackdown on Lashkar-e-Taiba following intense pressure from India and the United States to take action against the militant group blamed by New Delhi for the Mumbai attacks. According to intelligence officials and local residents, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba, was arrested following a raid on a camp near Muzaffarabad in Pakistani-held Kashmir.
As discussed in an earlier post, India has long complained about what it saw as Pakistan’s failure to crack down on Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, another Pakistan-based militant group, which it says were nurtured by the Pakistan spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI, to attack Indian targets in Kashmir and elsewhere.
In the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, India’s response has been to look to the United States to lean on Pakistan, which it blames for spawning Islamist militancy across the region, rather than launching any military retaliation of its own. So after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s trip to India and Pakistan last week, have the Americans done enough for now?
According to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, Rice told Pakistan there was “irrefutable evidence” that elements within the country were involved in the Mumbai attacks. And it quotes unnamed sources as saying that behind-the-scenes she “pushed the Pakistani leaders to take care of the perpetrators, otherwise the U.S. will act”.
One of the axioms you hear as you go through life is that you should always believe what people say about themselves. It’s one I have learned — sometimes to my cost — to be true more often than it is false. So what are we to make of the fact that Lashkar-e-Taiba has denied responsibility for involvement in the Mumbai attacks?
The world’s media is having none of it, and the perceived threat from Lashkar-e-Taiba is growing by the day. I’ve already written about Lashkar-e-Taiba in an earlier post, but here are a few more links to articles on the group.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged Pakistan to cooperate “fully and transparently” in investigations into the Mumbai attacks, while U.S. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has pointed a finger at Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant group.
That’s probably the kind of language that would go down well in India, which has been frustrated in the past by what it saw as the United States’ failure to acknowledge the threat from Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant groups, instead preferring to rely on Pakistan as a useful ally in the region while focusing its own energies on defeating al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Pakistan has agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a $7.6 billion emergency loan to stave off a balance of payments crisis.
Shaukat Tarin, economic adviser to the prime minister, said the IMF had endorsed Pakistan’s own strategy to bring about structural adjustments. The agreement is expected to encourage other potential donors, who are gathering in Abu Dhabi on Monday for a “Friends of Pakistan” conference.
Will Israel and India – the first the United States’ closest ally and the second fast becoming one of the closest – emerge as the trickiest adversaries in any attempt by the United States to seek a regional solution to Afghanistan?
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama plans to explore a more regional strategy to the war in Afghanistan — including possible talks with Iran.
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has assured Pakistani President Asif Al Zardari of his support for democracy in the frontline nation during a telephone call on Friday, Pakistan’s official state agency said.
Obama’s conversation was part of a round of phone calls he made to world leaders including Britain, Israel, Japan, Australia, France and Germany, mainly to thank them for their messages of congratulation following his victory.