War on Terror
Saif Shahin,New Age Isalm
Muslims must not risk the goodwill they have built by linking Karkare's death with Hindutva terror
INDIA HAS probably suffered more violent deaths this year than Iraq – much of it in terror attacks attributed by their perpetrators to Islam. Yet the big story of 2008 has been Indian Muslims’ categorical rebuttal of Islamist terrorism, their unprecedented zeal to prevent zealots from maligning their name and the name of their religion. They would now do well to deal a similar blow to vote bank politics, which has yet again raised its ugly head to undo the good work of the year. -- Saif Shahin in Mail Today, New Delhi
* Zardari says ‘total war’ must be fought ‘in totality’, on multiple fronts
* Military cannot be left to fight the war alone
Also: Islamabad, Kabul to collaborate closely with Pakistan in fight against terror
"We finished off the French wounded." Our special envoy Sara Daniel met up with the Taliban leaders responsible for the ambush two months ago in which the French soldiers fell not in Kunar's rough mountains, but in their comfortable residences in a great Pakistani city. Their remarks show that the "students of religion" have entered the era of global communication and their freedom of movement confirms the spread of their belligerent Islam all the way into the heart of the Pakistani administration.
The big question that would now have to be debated in India is whether we are prepared to increase our involvement in Afghanistan. One opinion in New Delhi favours a low profile and feels that development assistance is about the maximum that Kabul and Washington should expect from us. The problem is that this might not be enough. A US military defeat in Afghanistan is likely to lead to yet another Indian flight from Kabul. Besides, despite a "low profile", Indians continue to be targets of the Taliban and several workers have lost their lives in terrorist attacks. At the same time, any increase in India’s role in Afghanistan is certain to be met with violent opposition from a powerful section of the establishment in Pakistan, which is determined to counter Indian presence in that country even if it means sanctioning acts such as the bombing of the Indian embassy in July this year. Clearly, New Delhi is confronted by a tough choice. But one way or another, a decision will have to be taken sooner than later. An analysis by Indranil Banerjie, a defence and security analyst based in New Delhi.
Bajaur Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan is now the nerve centre for military operations targeting the Taliban – al Qaeda combine. This extended battle in Bajaur will have a significant impact, not only on how Pakistan prosecutes its campaign against terrorism and on the trajectory of conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan, but also on the future of Islamist terrorism and extremism across the world, writes strategic affairs analyst Kanchan Lakshman .
Washington, DC - Wandering seven long years in the mountains of Afghanistan with hardly an end in sight, the United States has just been offered a most fortuitous fix. It likely eludes America’s current president and queuing candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, but not for long. The fix is found in Mecca, Saudi Arabia writes analyst Michael Shank.
The unthinkable seems to be happening — the prospect of an Afghan settlement involving the Taliban is increasing. Analysis and reports by M.K. Bhadrakumar, Pamela Constable, Charles Bremner, Mohammed Al Shafey, Neil Lyndon, Tariq Ali and B Raman
Pakistan now faces an insurgency whose leadership wants to displace the state and government, or at least restrict its domain. If the government of Pakistan cannot neutralise these challenges through military and political means, it will become increasingly irrelevant in many parts of what is today Pakistan. This is the most serious challenge to post-1971 Pakistan: an armed and well-organised movement has entrenched itself in the tribal areas and now threatens to displace the Pakistani state from as much area as possible, Pakistani political and defence analyst Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi.
The mismanaged "war on terror" has stirred extremism, threatening to rip Pakistan apart, says Ahmed Rashid. The Pakistani author and journalist argues that the US strategy of nation-building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia has failed.
A scathing critique of both America and Europe's failure to invest in rebuilding Afghanistan and Pakistan's role in allowing Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements to regroup in Pakistan.
THE burning of Islamabad’s Marriott hotel that Indian channels showed at length is still etched in the memory of horrified people. They are worried about Pakistan. Even the hawks do not conceal their anxiety. The intelligentsia’s concern is that the nascent democratic government in Islamabad might not be able to cope with the likes of the Al Qaeda and Taliban and might have to depend on the military which would want its price, writes India’s leading journalist -- Kuldip Nayar.
MANY in Pakistan are shocked at the bomb blast outside the Marriott hotel in Islamabad which killed more than 50 people and wounded scores. It has made people nervous about further acts of violence, making life unsafe in the capital. The question for many is that if law and order agencies are unable to protect important people in high-security areas, then what can be the fate of ordinary people? By independent Pakistani analyst and author Ayesha Siddiqa
Pakistan's intelligence agencies are convinced that Saturday's terror attack in Islamabad was planned and executed by Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami. But the Pakistan Government has done nothing to contain this jihadi outfit. Instead, HuJI has been treated with kid gloves for years, reports Pakistani journalist Amir Mir.
The suicide attack on the Marriott has brought into question Pakistan's participation in the war on terrorism. In a sense the attack was the consequence of the flawed policies which permitted our territories to be used as a place of refuge by the multinational militants who fled Afghanistan after the US attacked and destroyed the Taliban government in Kabul in November 2001, says Khalid Aziz, a former chief secretary of NWFP, Pakistan and heads the Regional Institute of Policy Research, Islamabad.
The blatant act of terrorism in Islamabad on Sept 20 targeting the Marriott Hotel jolted the entire nation and world at large. This raised some important questions about the future shape of "war on terrorism" and survival of modern day societies. Like fascism, terrorism is a self-destructive ideology. If we want to fight terrorism we will have to understand it. Wishful thinking about military might and invincible air strike power will not help to win the war against something that relates to human behaviour. Use of brutal and ill-directed force against a few groups, dubbed as terrorists by America and some of its allies, without eliminating the causes that lead to terrorism will be a self-defeating exercise, say Pakistani columnists Huzaima Bukhari and Dr Ikramul Haq.
More and more people are put off by the concept of suicide-bombing and are criticising it. The fifty-odd clerics who had issued the fatwa against it in 2005 — but were made to cower later by more aggressive clerics — are making their voice heard again. The Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) of Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan is reluctant to own it because of this change in public opinion. An editorial in The Daily Times, Lahore.
The attack on the high-security Marriott hotel had greater symbolic significance.
CLEAR MESSAGE: The attackers of Marriott hotel in Islamabad care nothing for democracy or religion. An analysis by an independent Pakistani documentary film-maker and journalist Beena Sarwar.
The most remote place on earth has now become the most dangerous. But both history and present day activity suggest it can never be subdued by outside powers. At best, over generations, it can be quietly subverted. The Pashtuns want schools — at least for males — health services and agricultural development. (20 years ago I was the host of the Pashtuns as I studied the work of the successful Pakistani NGO, “The Motorbike Bank”, that offered credit and farming advice from a traveling motorcyclist, trained as an agronomist.) Osama Bin Laden is their guest and in the Pashtun tribal code a guest must be looked after and given protection. Bin Laden will have to be found by careful police work, as Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi war criminal, was run to earth by the Israelis, says syndicated columnist Jonathan Power (email@example.com).
The perpetrators of the Marriott Hotel blast believe they are striking back at their enemy: the United States and its supporters, including Pakistan’s civilian government led by President Asif Ali Zardari. For, the Marriott is an American symbol hoist in the heart of Pakistan. The proximate cause of this war are US attacks on Islamist terrorist targets within the territory of Pakistan. On one side is the US with its supporters within Pakistan, and on the other, Islamists bent on ridding this region of American presence, power and influence, says strategic affairs analyst Indranil Banerjie.
President Zardari’s first tasks are to deal with the faltering economy and get a grip on the war against terrorism while satisfying international concerns. So far he has not much to show, says author and veteran Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid. However, the issue is whether the next US president, Europe and NATO will have the courage and the will to take the bull by the horns and attempt something new rather than continue with a policy that has clearly failed.
America killed 1.5 million Vietnamese at the cost of 58,159 of its own soldiers. Remember, the only force that pulled the Americans out of Vietnam was the American public opinion (because too many Americans were getting killed). Over the following three decades -- and a dozen wars later -- the Pentagon has learned to keep American casualties low. In Iraq, over a million Iraqis have lost their lives while US casualties stand at 4,159. Iraq has been destroyed; destroyed for no reason, destroyed for weapons of mass destruction that didn't even exist. Imagine; if there is another 9/11 and it's traced back to Pakistan. They'll have a reason -- a reason to vaporize Pakistan. If they can destroy countries for no reason just imagine what they'll do if we give them a reason, warns independent Pakistani columnist Dr Farrukh Saleem.
On its part, the Bush administration is not going to get sucked into Pakistan tribal belt. It has learnt its lessons well from Vietnam to Iraq and the bloody nose the Soviet Union had suffered in Afghanistan. It has a limited goal and limited time frame to operate. .. It wants to diminish, if not end completely, the powerful role of the ISI, reform the army and rework the skewed policy with a set of new managers like Kayani. A high risk policy it is but President Bush is known for such gambles, writes M Rama Rao, India Editor of Asian Tribune.
London-based author Farrukh Dhondy reports “from the front line, a dispatch from the war between the pen and the sword”, as he puts it.” In Britain and in most diasporic spreads of Islam the battlelines between the two are drawn.” Exposed for the first time to Sufi poetry, “this mainstream version of philosophical Islam”, reports Dhondy, British Muslim youth wanted to know, “Why had this beauty of their religion been denied them? Why had they not been told?”
A bomb attack has hit the Marriott Hotel in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, killing at least 31 people. The BBC's Barbara Plett who was at the scene says the blast created a 20ft (6m) deep crater, and destroyed the entire front section of the hotel. She says the building is engulfed in flames, and rescue workers are carrying out bloodied victims and bodies. Police say the blast occurred as a lorry approached the hotel and they suspect it was a suicide attack. Police estimate that the blast was caused by more than a tonne of explosives. They are warning that the hotel could collapse.
The BBC's Owen Bennett Jones in Islamabad looks at the changing patterns of Islamist militancy and violence in Pakistan's tribal regions, seven years after 9/11.
Also: Voices from unstable borders and Turning to the Taleban in Pakistan
Seven years after 9/11, the US has declared the Afghan-Pakistan border region to be the new frontline in its war on terror. An analysis by well-known Pakistani journalist M Ilyas Khan