The Candid Eye

March 20, 2010

Pakistan again using mafia links for terror strikes

Saturday’s arrests of the two terror suspects in Mumbai who wanted to set fires at three locations across the city shows that Pakistani planners are now returning to their old ally, the underworld, to plot terrorist acts.

In the recent case, Abdul Latif Rashid alias Guddu, 29, and Riyaz Ali Imtiaz alias Rehan, 22, were arrested for conspiring to set fires at the ONGC office in Bandra (East), Mangaldas Market in Kalbadevi and Thakkar Mall in Borivli. Latif’s uncle, Abdul Bashir Khan, is an absconding accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, which was plotted and executed by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who is now living in Karachi. Khan is currently living with Dawood in the latter’s Karachi flat and works as his assistant.

Pakistan ISI : Image Courtesy - http://www.topnews.in/

The security establishment in India has been claiming that the D-gang is hand-in-glove with Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) in the execution of conspiracies in India.

In the 11/7 Mumbai train blasts case, the police arrested a doctor, two engineers and a sotware programmer who did not have any prior criminal record. However, the recent case points to the in-depth involvement of the D-gang. “The two accused were in touch with a D-gang member who had asked them to identify youths for terror training in Pakistan,” said the source.

Officials in the security forces said terror bosses may have returned to the underworld because the police have mentally de-linked the underworld from terror. “The police seem to have formed an opinion that gangsterism is entirely different from terrorism and they do not pay heed to gangsters when it comes to probing terror cases nowadays. This could be one of the reasons why the Pakistani terror handlers are focusing on the use of the underworld,” the security source said.

Pakistan ISI : Image Courtesy - http://trendsupdates.com/

“In 1993, the underworld had first participated in a terror strike. Later, the modus operandi changed and the handlers started recruiting young people with no criminal records as the underworld was already on the police list,” said a security establishment official.

In the 2001 Parliament attack, new faces who were neither in the police list nor connected to the underworld were recruited. In the post-2001 modus operandi, the use of educated youths from the Muslim community was seen.

Software engineer Mansoor Peerbhoy, a Pune resident, who had a job with a Rs 19-lakh-a-year salary, was arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch in 2008 for being part of the Indian Mujahideen. He was accused of hacking into computers and sending terror emails.

Earlier, in a string of post-2001 terror-related cases in Mumbai, an MBBS, an MBA, three civil engineers, four mechanical engineers, two chemical engineers, a pilot and a professor working for the National Defence Academy, Pune, had been arrested. While the police had focused on these men, most of them were later acquitted by the court or discharged by the central Pota review committee.

Noteworthy also is that absconding Indian Mujahideen operative, Riyaz Bhatkal, who is also suspected to be in Pakistan, was connected to the Fazlur Rehman gang before he formed his own extortion outfit. Bhatkal later took to terrorism.

Source: TOI

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March 17, 2010

Sufi teachings can counter extremism: Zardari

President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday called for focussing attention on teachings of peace, love and tolerance of the Sufi saints so as to counter extremism and the militant mindset.

Addressing an International Conference on Sufism and Peace arranged by Pakistan Academy of Letters at the Aiwan-i-Sadr, President Zardari said Sufism had a crucial role to play in mankind’s struggle for a peaceful world.

Asif Zardari

Around 80 delegates from 30 countries and 250 from Pakistan are participating in the conference.The president said the most important issue of the present era was peace — peace in the country as well as peace outside the borders.

President Zardari said extremism and militancy were a mindset, created to defeat a rival ideology in the region and the extremists were encouraged to use religion as the basis of their ideology.

He said the entire free world was responsible for its creation decades ago. But, unfortunately, no attention was paid to this aspect once the objectives were fulfilled and the militants were abandoned to their fate. “It is these very militants who have come to haunt all of us.”

He said the entire philosophy of Sufism revolved around purification of the soul and creating an environment where humanity was not threatened by few individuals trying to impose their narrow versions of religion upon a vast majority.

“No religion, whether Islam or Christianity, preached extremism and militancy,” he added. He described terrorists as enemies of Pakistan and Islam and of peace in the region.

“Pakistan will never bow before terror and will never allow the extremists to advance their murderous agenda within the country and the region,” he added.

He said Pakistan was home to great Sufi saints who dedicated their lives to promotion of peace and harmony and the vast majority of people believed in peace and universal brotherhood as enshrined in the teaching of holy Prophet (peace be upon him).

He urged the gathering to play its part in making the world a better place to live. He said the conference showed Pakistan’s commitment to the cause of peace and the deep bond of its people to the forces of love, harmony and brotherhood, which was the message of Sufis.

The president also commended the services of Chairman PAL Fakhar Zaman for arranging the conference.The PAL chief in his address highlighted the importance of men of letters in using their pens for establishing peace in the world.

Peter Curman, a Swedish writer, urged the writers to play their role as ambassadors of peace and make efforts for developing mutual harmony amongst the people across the world.

Prof Dr Hugh van Skyhawk spoke on divine love and message of peace, the role of poetry and courage among the Sufis to rid the world of the ills that afflict it.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Education Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali spoke on the role of Sufi saints in the subcontinent that brought a sea-change in the minds and lives of people with the divine message of ‘Tasawwaf’ based on love.—APP

Source: The Dawn

March 13, 2010

ISI keeping Osama’s whereabouts a secret: Expert

Filed under: Jihad,Pakistan — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Pakistani intelligence agency ISI knows the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden but is keeping his location a secret and wants to use the Al Qaeda chief as leverage over the US as it is wary of America’s closer ties with India, noted military historian Stephen Tanner has said.

“We got to make a deal with Pakistan because I’m convinced that he (bin Laden) is protected by the ISI,” said Tanner, the author of ‘Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War against the Taliban.’

Osama bin Laden : Image Courtesy - http://sheikyermami.com/

Tanner says the ISI knows where bin Laden is hiding, but is not ready to say.The American writer along with other experts were interviewed by CNN for a blog post on the channel’s website called ‘Whatever happened to bin Laden’.

Noting that it was unlikely for bin Laden to be captured anytime soon, Tanner suggested that the ISI wants to keep him as leverage over the US because it is wary of Washington’s closer ties with New Delhi. Without the fear of a bin Laden loose in Pakistan, the intelligence agency fears that the US would lose interest in the country.

“I just think it’s impossible after all this time to not know where he is. The ISI knows what’s going on in its own country,” Tanner said. “We’re talking about a 6-foot-4-inch Arab with a coterie of bodyguards.”

Another expert, Thomas Mockatis, who is the author of ‘Osama bin Laden: A Biography’ was also quoted on the CNN blog suggesting that killing bin Laden would probably not be the best idea. “Killing bin Laden would not be a good thing,” Mockatis says. “He’s already a hero. Killing bin Laden would just create one more martyr.”

Mockatis recommends that dismantling the terror infrastructure is more important than catching bin Laden. There have been alleged sightings of bin Laden in Pakistan, and he is believed to be in North Waziristan, constantly slipping back and forth from the Af-Pak border.

An associate professor of international security studies at Tufts University’s Fletcher School in Massachusetts, William Martel, even suggests that it would be better if bin Laden would not be captured as the debate on how the Al Qaeda chief should be treated after his capture would create a firestorm.

“Do we read him his rights; do we run him through a military tribunal or civilian courts?” Martel says. “Capturing him would pose more problems than not.”

Source: Yahoo News

March 3, 2010

ISI protecting IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal in Karachi

The attempts by the Pune police probing the February 13 German Bakery blast to track Riyaz Bhatkal may prove futile, since there is confirmation now that the founder of the Indian Mujahideen is safely ensconed in Karachi.

A police officer from Hyderabad, who is currently interrogating Ahmed Khwaja, a Lashkar-e-Tayiba militant currently in custody of Hyderbad police, told rediff.com that Bhatkal is in Karachi.

The official said that Khwaja was also questioned in-depth regarding the Pune blast, but he did not appear to know much about the plot.

Riyaz Bhatkal, the terrorist

“He has details of the Indian Mujahideen operatives and says that there are three key persons who control the IM. Bhatkal and Mohsin Chaudhary head the India operations, but they report directly to a man by the name Aamir Raza, who is a Pakistani national,” the officer said.

Khwaja also revealed that Bhatkal, who stayed in Dubai for a considerable amount of time, was asked to shift base to Pakistan at the insistence of the Inter Services Intelligence.

Indian Mujahideen

Bhatkal is a high-profile personality for them, and he is being protected by the ISI. Sources in the Intelligence Bureau told rediff.com that Bhatkal holds the key, and nabbing him would help crack the entire IM network in India.

The IB further adds that they have got information that Bhatkal has been housed under the protection of the ISI at the high-security Defence Enclave in Karachi, which show his importance for the ISI..

Karachi plot

The IB says that the interrogation of Khwaja and Shahzad (who was picked up by the Delhi police from Azamgarh, UP in connection with the Batla House case) have made one thing clear and that is the ISI was not planning on launching attacks in India with its Pakistan and Afghanistan based cadres.

Both Shahzad and Khwaja were aware of the Karachi plot (IB had sounded off a warning pertaining to a terror plot that was being hatched in Pakistan to target several Indian cities), and during their interrogation, their bosses told them that they needed to gear up for this.

The IB says that this is a worrying factor since the ISI is roping in Indian operatives for this plot. They are setting up their network in India and most of the heads of the India-based terror groups have been told about this plot, so that when they plan on carrying out the attacks, there would be no problems with the logistics.

The ISI, which plans on carrying out the Karachi plot with the help of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Al Qaeda and the Harkat-ul-Jihadi-Islami, will depend on Indian operatives for logistics and also to ensure that they provide a safe passage into the country for their fidayeen fighters.

February 21, 2010

US and UK forced India to talk to Pakistan

Filed under: India,Jihad,Pakistan — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
Tags: , , ,

Talks with Pakistan are a futile exercise, former national security adviser Brajesh Mishra tells rediff.com’s Sheela Bhatt, and urges the government to call the dialogue off.

Underlining the need to talk to Pakistan, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said we can’t choose our neighbours. Why are you against the talks?

I don’t remember the exact context of Vajpayee’s speech but every prime minister of India wanted good relations with Pakistan. There is nothing new in these attempts. What we [the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government] did was different after learning the lessons from the Agra talks. We didn’t talk to Pakistan until it took some steps against terror.

In this context, what is more important is Vajpayee’s statement in April 2003 in Srinagar. He said, ‘Once again I extend my hand of friendship to Pakistan.’ That was the third and last time he did it and [former Pakistan] president [Pervez] Musharraf responded to that. Nothing happened until November 25, 2003. Then, the ceasefire on the Line of Control took place. Only after that, the back-channel discussion started with Pakistan.

Then we got the January 2004 declaration in Islamabad. That statement was very clear that the resumption of dialogue was dependent on cessation of terrorism. Unfortunately, the United Progressive Alliance government changed the meaning of the 2004 agreement when it came to power — the UPA says terrorism will not be allowed to impede the peace process. We said in January 2004 that terrorism and dialogue cannot go together. You have these statements of Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the meetings in New York and Havana. It was said that Pakistan was also the victim of terrorism and the ‘joint [anti-terror] mechanism’ was launched.

All that came to zilch. Terrorism continued. In 2006, serial blasts occurred in Mumbai and at the same time talks were going on with Musharraf with the help of back channel [diplomacy].

My point is that you have done it before. Despite terrorism, you held talks with Pakistan and did not succeed. Why are you doing same thing now? Why don’t you go back to the January 2004 statement? Terrorism and dialogue cannot go together. Tell Pakistan that you stop this and then we will resume the composite dialogue. Look, we have to talk — this is what this government is saying.

Much before what [United States Senator] John Kerry said on his tour to India this week, it was obvious to all of us that India was working under American and British pressure. They more or less forced India to talk to Pakistan. But, the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation are withdrawing from Afghanistan — as I see it, despite what Kerry is saying. Then, why do they need us to talk? Because Pakistan is very happy to help Taliban in Afghanistan so that the Americans and others can walk out. Some three months back General [Ahmed Shuja] Pasha, chief of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence, said he can arrange a meeting with [Taliban chief] Mullah Omar. I don’t understand why we need to talk to Pakistan then.

Indians are worried about terrorism. The government is looking for solutions. If we don’t talk to Pakistan, how do you go about it?

What is our past experience of talks to Pakistan? Indira Gandhi gave up 96,000 prisoners of war. [Zulfiqar Ali] Bhutto promised that he will accept the Line of Control as the border. He went back on his promise. He left India and immediately went on to give permission for building nuclear weapons. It’s not that India has not talked before, but we have been always betrayed by Pakistan. Being a neighbour you have to talk to them. But talk when you are stronger, not when we are weak.

Why do you say we are weak?

Of course we are weak! The US has given $10 billion and also, Pakistan is being given F-16 and other modern fighter planes. Pakistan, today, is becoming almost the same in conventional strength compared to India. While we have not been adding to our capacity, they are acquiring weapons at speed.

Even if Pakistan has betrayed India, as you say, the solution-oriented approach demands that we look for the way out to get them to do what we want.

But to do that you should be objective in assessing the situation. Just by having a wish for solution does not lead you to the correct assessment of the real situation. Let us be very clear — the Pakistan army does not want good relations with India.

First it was Kashmir but suddenly since the last few months, they are raising the issue of water. Now, they are telling the US and others that let India get out of Afghanistan. I don’t know which other issues they would raise tomorrow.

Of course, it’s not democracy that prevails in Pakistan. The Pakistan army considers itself as the guardian of Pakistan. Its very existence depends on enmity with India. My contention is that this is the objective situation. In this situation, what are you going to achieve unless you get them first to stop terrorist activity? When the announcement of talks with Pakistan was made early this month, it was said that we will talk about terrorism and other related issues — more or less composite dialogue.

One day before this announcement, the United Jihad Council met in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The UJC cannot meet without the permission of the Pakistan army and the ISI. And, I don’t imagine that the Pakistan army was not aware about what was happening on the diplomatic front between the two countries. Despite that, they allowed the UJC to meet and then next day they came out with the agenda for talks. And, still, we say that we want to talk about terrorism and other related issues. I want to understand what India is going to get from these talks.

Maybe peace?

That’s wishful thinking. It’s not an objective assessment.

India is facing terrorism.

So? It is the official agency in Pakistan that is supporting terrorism within India. There is terrorism in China. Is the Chinese government supporting it? No! In the US or the United Kingdom, terrorism is there but nowhere the official agency supports it — except in Pakistan. What I am trying to say is that I am not opposed to friendly and cooperative relations with Pakistan. But there are two conditions: One, India must be strong. Two, unless Pakistan stops supporting terrorism, there cannot be any talks.

But India is maintaining 8 to 9 per cent growth. India is united. It has a functioning democracy. India is strong enough to initiate dialogue.

If India is strong then it need not bother about Pakistan. The fact is India is not strong. The 9 percent growth is not going to ensure your national security. The first duty of the State is to protect the lives and properties of its citizens. What will this 9 percent growth do? Unless, you have 9 percent growth plus military strength, you are not going to be counted in the world.

Pakistan and China are hostile. Nepalese are dictated by Maoists. Despite Sheikh Hasina being in power, Bangladesh is getting closer to China. Despite what all you did for Sri Lanka, the Chinese presence in Sri Lanka is there for all to see. They are building a new port for them. India is a soft State. Nobody is bothered about us. Neighbuoring countries are taking advantage of you.

You helped defeat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, but when your ship went there to help with goods, it was not allowed to anchor for long. Nobody is bothered about India. They don’t consider 9 per cent growth important enough. Deng Xiaoping was talking about four modernisations. One of it was the modernisation of the People’s Liberation Army. He knew just economic reforms won’t make China stronger. We [India] have neglected the armed forces since Independence.

India is a poor country.

We are not poor.

How can you spend more on defence when people don’t have enough food, education and health facilities?

Then what will you do? Our space can be occupied by somebody. Is it okay? Let us remain the target. What are the Pune and Taj [Mumbai] attacks? What balance can you talk of when the State fails to fulfill its first duty — to protect its citizens’ lives and property?

In the post-Cold War era, bilateral relations are handled differently. In the modern world people want to move forward for development. If you are given the talks to move forward with Pakistan so that India can move forward on many other fronts, how will you go about it?

I told you. Let us talk about the January 2004 agreement. Ask Pakistan: What have you done? And, you are frequently talking about the ‘modern world’. Let me say a few things. After the demise of the Soviet Union, was it necessary for NATO to expand eastwards? This is the modern world you are talking about. If the Warsaw pact had been resolved, where was the threat for these countries from Russia? This is also the modern world. China has settled its border issue with Russia but they still have maritime issues with Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Isn’t it advantage India if bilateral relations with Pakistan improve?

Only if it improves on the basis of your conditions. Mrs [Indira] Gandhi did move forward; what did we get?

There is an argument that what is happening in Pakistan, and even terrorism in India emanating from Pakistan, is not under the control of the Pakistani government.

What is happening in India is under the control of Pakistan. Jaish [e-Mohammad], HuJI [Harkat-ul Jihad al Islami] and LeT [Lashkar-e-Tayiba] are certainly [under Islamabad’s control]. I am not talking about the Taliban. I am talking of the United Jihad Council in PoK. That’s of course under the control of Pakistan.

It was so even in 2004 when you were in Islamabad.

We got what was agreed by Musharraf. The statement said that Pakistan will not allow Pakistani territory to be used by terrorists. Only then we agreed to start composite dialogue. I am saying talk to Pakistan only on terrorism. Pakistan is saying clearly that they are going to Delhi to start composite dialogue. Across the table you will say terror and they will say Kashmir. What will you do? Failure?

I read in the newspapers that the government is not united about holding talks. The government’s statement is now revised. Instead of talking about ‘terrorism and other related issues,’ the government now says it will talk only about terrorism. If it’s true, then exactly this will happen. India will be sitting here and Pakistani representatives over there. And both will be talking at cross purposes. It’s a sure remedy for failure.

Then, some people would say, talk Kashmir.

I have told you that Kashmir is not the only issue between us. Second, how do you solve the Kashmir issue? Pakistan is not going to accept the LoC as the border.

During your time in the Prime Minister’s Office, you were talking through back channel too.

We were not talking on Kashmir. I did not. My entire back channel thing, which lasted less than one year, resulted in the ceasefire on the LoC. Two, it resulted in the January 6, 2004 statement. We didn’t talk about Kashmir, we talked about terrorism.

Do you see the issue shaping up in our lifetime?

Only if India is militarily strong, the Kashmir issue may take final shape. Then, Pakistan will accept the situation on the ground.

During your time, India was on a stronger wicket. What happened then?

How? I am talking of military strength. We lost 500 jawans in Kargil. It was the hard task. Now, Pakistan is much more militarily stronger than ever.

Sorry to use a cliche, but you sound hawkish.

Listen, I started off by saying that every prime minister of India started with having good relations with Pakistan. But, objective conditions today and the Pakistan army’s policy do not allow success. So, don’t waste your time on this. I am very sorry to say that 1 billion people were humiliated in Mumbai on 26/11 by them. Now, we are humiliating ourselves without them having done anything on 26/11.

They keep on postponing the trial. They have released Hafiz Saeed. What are we talking about? They allowed the UJC to have the meeting in PoK. Isn’t it the humiliation of 1 billion people? I say call off the talks.

A frequent argument is that let Pakistan’s eastern border see less tension to concentrate on the western border.

The Americans and the British have forced India to do this. But, it is their agenda. We should look after our own agenda. We can’t follow their agenda.

One thinking is that if the US and NATO’s defense position against Taliban gets strengthened, it’s in India’s advantage as well.

That is a very big if. Second, my reading is the US and the UK just want an honorable way out and [want to] hand over Afghanistan to the Taliban.

On his India visit Kerry said

I don’t read John Kerry.

He told a daily, ‘Under no circumstances are we planning to have no presence or suddenly depart.’

He has said so many things in the past.

So, you believe that the US will leave from Afghanistan as Obama has promised.

The US and the UK are going to run away from Afghanistan.

If that happens, that is the reason to talk to Pakistan. Because after the US and NATO’s exit from Afghanistan, the entire region will become more insecure.

But what will you talk to Pakistan? Hand over Kashmir for [better security]? Do you mean that? That is what Pakistan wants. Pakistan wants Kashmir, wants to settle water issues on their terms. And Pakistan wants India to remain out of Afghanistan. Do you think by talking to they will permit you to be in Afghanistan?

My submission is that the issue of Afghanistan is complex and it’s inter-related with the region’s security. So, the withdrawals of the US will have bearing on India’s security.

It is not complex if one is very clear about the aims of the Pakistan army. You people do not think of what the objective situation in Pakistan is. The situation is that Pakistan army has full control over three issues: India, Afghanistan and the nuclear issue. The civilian government has no say in these matters. The Pakistan army can not exist without having control over it. You keep on saying talk to Pakistan; talk to them about what?

Do you think it’s prudent to talk to the Pakistan army if and when possible?

If and only if you are strong. As I said, if you are militarily strong Pakistan will accept the situation as it is.

You paint a grim scenario.

It is a grim scenario. I haven’t made it up.

But military build-up will require another 10 years.

Now we are getting into the other part of the subject. The procedures of our defence department are 19th century procedures. We have to reform it. We have to take the strategic decision about modern weapons. The Bofors thing is still hanging on our politicians’ shoulders. They are worried that we will be accused of corruption. You will be accused of corruption in any case! But, you [politicians] are neglecting national security. They have declared that we want 123 multi-combat aircraft. But the way they are proceeding, it will take them 15 years to acquire it. By that time, the aircraft will be obsolete. Let us forget about these 19th century procedures and come up with a modern system. The government needs to have national security culture. It doesn’t have. It likes only 9 percent growth!

Here, some people may say, ‘Mr Mishra is saying the same thing that India is arguing since the last 60 years.’ You are saying the Pakistan army has control. Pakistan doesn’t want peace. But if India wants to move forward, it will need peace with Pakistan.

The same people about whom you are talking, why do they forget that every Indian government since the last 60 years has tried to have peace with Pakistan and failed? Why have they failed?

They allege that talks have failed because India is just not flexible to settle the issue.

Okay. On Kashmir? Then give up Kashmir!

How about give and take instead?

What give and take? Please you tell me what you can ‘give’? These very people who are saying do business with Pakistan, will they accept the change in the Line of Control?

I don’t think they will.

Then? What are we talking about?

What is the solution?

I told you. Be strong first.

That’s the long way to go.

Revise your acquisition procedures. Take strategic decisions — which weapons you want, and get it.

Looking at it practically, India is not losing anything. Rather, India will earn credibility that it is seeking peace with Pakistan.

Are we not losing anything? Pakistan has done nothing about 26/11. Just a few weeks ago you were only saying that we will not talk with Pakistan unless they take action against 26/11 plotters. What are we talking about now? [Home Minister] P Chidambaram was saying just three weeks ago that we won’t talk unless action is taken. [Finance Minister] Pranab Mukherjee said it when he was minister of external affairs. Now, what has happened?

Let me ask you again. Is India not worried about US-NATO forces moving out? Yes or no?

Of course we should be worried. But India has no control over it. These two gentlemen, President Barack Obama and [British] Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the two main contributors to the defence forces in Afghanistan, have decided to withdraw and run. They are looking for some honourable excuse.

Last week, a New Delhi-based expert told rediff.com that ‘by agreeing to talk to Pakistan under US pressure India is contributing in the fight against Taliban.’

Whoever has said that, ask him if his family member was attacked in 26/11. Ask him that, please. It’s very good to say such things sitting far away from the reality. They advise India should do this and do that, but ask those people who bore the brunt of terrorist attacks.

Barbara Crossette says India is the biggest pain in Asia and she says India often gives global governance the biggest headache.

This shows the failure of the diplomatic efforts of this government. When the victim is asked to make concessions, isn’t it a failure? The victim is being told to take into account the concerns of the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack. Come on, please! These people don’t understand that the government’s diplomatic effort has failed miserably. It didn’t take strong action in the beginning [after the Mumbai attacks]. It has lost everything.

Source: Rediff

February 1, 2010

My family is from Pak, let’s not hate them: Shah Rukh Khan ; You go to Karachi : Shiv Sena to Shah Rukh

As a perceived snub to Pakistani players by the Indian Premier League spark a spat between the neighbouring countries, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, an IPL franchisee himself, believes they should have been picked.

“I truly believe they (Pakistan playeers) should have been chosen,” Khan, co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders(KKR), said.Khan however said that since “some issues” were involved the matter could have been handled by the IPL “respectfully”.

“My family is from Pakistan. There are issues but we need to solve them. Let’s love each other,” Shah Rukh said.No Pakistani player was bought by the eight Indian clubs during an auction on Tuesday for the third edition of the glitzy IPL despite the Pakistan team being the reigning world champions in the Twenty20 format of the cricket tournament.

Rooting for the Pakistani players, Khan said they are the best T20 players in the world. “They are the champions, they are wonderful but somewhere down the line there is an issue and we can’t deny it,” he told NDTV.

Khan said it was humiliating to him as a KKR owner that no one bid for the Pakistani players despite them being put up for auction.

You go to Karachi: Sena to Shah Rukh

Shiv Sena attacked Shah Rukh Khan for lamenting exclusion of Pakistani players from IPL and dared him to take the players in his team Kolkata Knight Riders.

“If Shah Rukh wants Pakistani players to play here, he should go to Karachi and Islamabad to play with them. If he includes Pakistani players in his team, he should be aware of the consequences,” Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said.

Reacting to the non-selection of Pakistani players in the IPL auction, Bollywood star and co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders Shah Rukh Khan had recently said that they (Pakistani players) should have been welcomed.

“I truly believe they (Pakistan players) should have been chosen,” Khan had said.”We would have loved to have Pakistani players if they were made available legally,” he had said.

January 24, 2010

Yemen – the next Afghanistan?

As a country where weapons outnumber people, half the population is illiterate, close to a quarter of them cannot find work and internecine fighting is forcing thousands from their homes, Yemen has become fertile ground for jihadis looking to take up the mantle of Osama Bin Laden.

Stretched around the southern heel of the Arabian peninsula and home to 24 million people , it is one of the poorest countries in the Middle East. Long a source of jihadis, the country sent tens of thousands of fighters to the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

To judge by the number of Yemenis captured, killed or identified as insurgents in Iraq, it continues to be one of the biggest suppliers of fighters to regional conflicts. It is common knowledge in the tearooms of Sana’a , the capital, and in Western embassies that the government of northern Yemen used jihadis to help defeat the south in the civil war that ended in 1994.

But the symbiotic relationship between the Yemeni government and al-Qaida shifted after 9/11 and the US invasion of Iraq. The government was worried that it might be on the receiving end of US military action, so it helped Washington with the assassination of an al-Qaida leader by missile attack from a Predator drone in 2002. At the same time, it turned a blind eye to other extremists as long as they didn’t cause trouble.

Yemen Map

In 2006, several extremists to tunnelled their way out of prison amid reports of collusion between officials and militants. The result is that al-Qaida are now back in Yemen in significant numbers and the organisation is flourishing in a society already overwhelmed with myriad crushing social and security problems. Into this morass has waded al-Qaida . Of particular concern to Western intelligence agencies is the composition of the group’s leadership in Yemen.

Saed Ali al-Shihri , a Saudi national, spent six years as prisoner number 372 at the US-run Guantanamo detention centre in Cuba after being captured on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in December 2001. In 2007, he was released into the custody of the Saudi government’s “deradicalisation” programme for terrorists, which offered psychological counselling, classes in more moderate Islam and art therapy. The Saudis boasted that the programme had an 80 per cent success rate.

But according to US sources, al-Shihri spent just six weeks at the rehab. Within days of his release in 2008, he crossed the border into Yemen and began putting into place the building blocks for a new organisation, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which claimed responsibility for the botched suicide bomb attack on a Detroitbound plane on Christmas Day last year.

Yemeni Terrorists have links with Al-Shabaab : Image Courtesy - http://pibillwarner.files.wordpress.com/

AQAP has been steadily building its capabilities . US state department officials acknowledge that the US has limited resources for Yemen, though given the intense scrutiny focused on the country, those numbers could rise. But they question whether more aid money would be used effectively, given the pervasive corruption there. They also say the US has to be realistic about what can be done in Yemen, given a long list of problems, including a water shortage , dwindling oil reserves and secessionist movements in the south, a major insurgency in the north and a growing young population with no jobs. This week, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton came close to labelling Yemen a lost cause. “In countries that are incubators of extremism, like Yemen,” she said, “the odds are long. But the cost of doing nothing is potentially far greater.” The biggest hurdle may be Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. While US officials said he appeared determined to root out al-Qaida elements, his resolve has wavered over time, depending on his calculation of whether radical Islamists are a threat or benefit to him.

Saleh is also worried about being too closely identified with the US. “He hasn’t always been eager for American support,” a senior administration official said of Saleh. “That’s all the more reason to wrap this in broader international support . That makes it easier politically for him.”

Ali al-Ahmed , director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs in Washington, believes Yemen has now become the third-largest haven for al-Qaida , and the group there is perhaps the most stable when compared with units in Iraq and south Asia. “The operating al-Qaida group in Yemen now is really the most comfortable and it’s probably the best funded,” he said. “It’s not the best trained, and it doesn’t have the best talent – that’s why it hasn’t been able to mount successful attacks. But it will come around in the coming years, and it will become a major threat.”

With Yemen apparently on the verge of becoming the world’s next failed state and a regional base for al-Qaida , a series of US-assisted air and ground assaults have shaken up pockets of the country but, according to experts, the action may not help. The US has been growing very concerned about al-Qaida in recent years, but it seems as though it is coming rather late to the party,” says Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen expert at Princeton University, who contends that the attacks could ultimately prove counterproductive because of the civilian casualties involved.

Indeed, the strikes have started to look like more a boon for Yemen’s al-Qaida revival. “The Qaida threat in Yemen is real, but now after this operation in Detroit and the American-backed bombings of tribal lands to root out so-called terrorists, it will be greater,” said Mohammed Quhtan, of Yemen’s opposition Islamist al-Islah party. “Al-Qaida will be able to recruit a lot more young people, at least from the tribes that were hit. And it will have reasonable grounds to attract more people from Abyan governorate, and from the Yemeni population in general.”

That is a frightening prospect for a country on the brink of collapse. “Yemen is fast becoming the Pakistan and Afghanistan in the heart of the Arab world,” one western official in Sana’a said. “You have military and government collusion with al-Qaida , peace agreements, budding terror camps, and the export of jihad to neighbouring countries. We have all seen this road map before.”

Source: TOI

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