War on Terror
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
NEW DELHI: Friday's encounter in the Capital left no doubt on SIMI's hard-line terrorist character - far from claims of it being a cultural organization - as has been maintained by the Centre and security agencies across the country all along. Investigating agencies say that the shootout which resulted in the tragic death of gallant cop, inspector Mohan Chand Sharma of Delhi Police, has bared the real character of the Students Islamic Movement of India as consisting of religious fanatics who have no compunction in massacring innocents, possess deadly bomb making skills and are sitting on a cache of sophisticated weapons.
But while the feeling of vindication is palpable in the police ranks, they are also seeing the encounter as a wake-up call.
NewAgeIslam.com presents a collection of stories from mainstream national media that look at the encounter from different angles.
WASHINGTON, Sept 10: The US military will revise its strategy for Afghanistan to include militant ‘safe havens’ in Pakistan in its area of concern, the top US military officer said on Wednesday. As Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen underlined key points of the new strategy at a congressional hearing in Washington, the White House and the State Department indicated that they already had an understanding with Pakistan on implementing this strategy.
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Heavily armed militants opened fire on the United States Embassy in Sana, Yemen, on Wednesday and detonated a car bomb at its gates, in an attack that left at least 16 people dead including six of the attackers, Yemeni officials said.
No Americans were killed or wounded in the blast or when guards began to return fire, said a Yemeni official.
Yemeni security officials and witnesses said the death toll was at least 16, including four bystanders, one of them an Indian woman. The other dead were six attackers and six security guards, the Yemeni officials said. A report by ROBERT F. WORTH in the New York Times
Also related articles: Yemen’s Deals with Jihadists Unsettle the U.S. By ROBERT F. WORTH
And Wanted by F.B.I., but Walking Out of a Yemen Hearing by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters
The decision to make public a presidential order of last July authorizing American strikes inside Pakistan without seeking the approval of the Pakistani government ends a long debate within, and on the periphery of, the Bush administration. Senator Barack Obama, aware of this ongoing debate during his own long battle with Hillary Clinton, tried to outflank her by supporting a policy of U.S. strikes into Pakistan. Senator John McCain and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin have now echoed this view and so it has become, by consensus, official U.S. policy, writes Tariq Ali.
Through the eyes of Dexter Filkins, the prizewinning New York Times correspondent whose work was hailed by David Halberstam as “reporting of the highest quality imaginable,” we witness the remarkable chain of events that began with the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, continued with the attacks of 9/11, and moved on to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Filkins’s narrative moves across a vast and various landscape of amazing characters and astonishing scenes: deserts, mountains, and streets of carnage; a public amputation performed by Taliban; children frolicking in minefields; skies streaked white by the contrails of B-52s; a night’s sleep in the rubble of Ground Zero.
American media has good reasons to complain that most of the world, certainly the Muslim world continues to disbelieve that Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organised and perpetrated the September 11 atrocities seven years ago. I agree with Townhall.com Columnist Cliff May (article reproduced below) that mainstream American media should be putting part of the blame on schools in the Arab region that instil bias while neglecting critical thinking.
I would indeed go further and say that Islamic schools infuse a dangerous and un-Islamic Islam-supremacist, and indeed now sectarian Wahhabi-supremacist view vis-à-vis all other religions and cultures and this is at least partly responsible for many of the problems Muslims face around the world today.
But as for al-Qaeda’s responsibility for 9/11, it is the American government and Western media itself that is largely responsible for not being able to remove misunderstandings about it and even for encouraging conspiracy theories. They are doing so by both allowing these theories – articles, books, films, entire websites - to circulate and not responding to the allegations being made by seemingly responsible, intelligent, highly professional American citizens with great expertise in fields related to investigating events like 9/11. ......
If American mainstream media itself doesn’t discuss and counter these conspiracy theories how can it blame Muslims or for that matter others for taking them for a fact. Take, for instance, the latest write-up of David Ray Griffin, being reproduced below. He is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University. He has published 34 books, including seven about 9/11, most recently The New Pearl Harbour Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2008). He quotes all sorts of seemingly genuine experts and newspaper reports in the mainstream media to advance his theories. You can rest assured that he will not be refuted in the mainstream media, as he has not been in the past. That being so, why shouldn’t Muslims treat his and many other such people’s writings and videos as gospel truth, particularly as it suits them that no so-called Muslim is to be blamed for the monstrous crimes perpetrated on September 11, 2001?
The demands of political correctness in the elite media being what they are he (Michael Slackman of New York Times) has not found a single source who will suggest that the prevalence of such attitudes reflects the fact that governments and media in the Middle East routinely spread anti-American and anti-Semitic slanders. He does not note that schools in the region instil bias while neglecting critical thinking. He can’t even raise the possibility – however gently -- that the persistence of such beliefs, long after the details of al-Qaeda’s plot have been made public, may reveal a pathology in the culture of the contemporary Arab Middle East. An article by Townhall.com columnist Cliff May. Also: Memo From Cairo: 9/11 Rumours That Become Conventional Wisdom by MICHAEL SLACKMAN
A poll released this week of more than 16,000 people in 17 nations revealed that "majorities in only nine countries believe al-Qaida was behind the attacks on New York and Washington that killed about 3,000 people in 2001." A mere 46 percent of individuals overall said they believed al-Qaida executed the attacks -- despite all the back-patting, fist-pumping video productions from AQ's media arm, al-Sahab, claiming credit, writes Michelle Malkin, aTownhall.com Columnist.
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN - Frustrated by repeated dead ends in the search for Osama bin Laden, U.S. and Pakistani officials said they are questioning long-held assumptions about their strategy and are shifting tactics to intensify the use of the unmanned but lethal Predator drone spy plane in the mountains of western Pakistan....
With the CIA and U.S. Special Forces prevented from operating freely in Pakistan, the search is done mostly from the air. A report by CRAIG WHITLOCK, Washington Post