Category Archives: Pakistan

Pakistan government says it suffered $80bn loss and 50,000 lives in ‘war on terror’

Tanveer Ahmed reports for the Daily Times:

‘Pakistan suffered a colossal loss of almost $80 billion as well as 50,000 precious lives of civilians and law enforcement agencies during the decade long war against terrorism, government told National Assembly here on Friday.

In a written reply Interior Ministry informed the house that Pakistan has been victim of terrorism for the last ten years. The Parliamentary Secretary for Interior, Maryam Aurangzeb said extremist groups have been active throughout the country with their own ideology and motives. Maryam Aurangzeb said several policy steps have been taken for controlling and improving law and order situation in the country. She said the government has prepared a new policy for strengthening internal security and to improve law and order.’

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Global terror attack deaths rose sharply in 2013, says report

Helier Cheung reports for BBC News:

GTI2014‘The number of deaths from terrorism increased by 61% between 2012 and 2013, a study into international terrorism says.

There were nearly 10,000 terrorist attacks in 2013, a 44% increase from the previous year, the Global Terrorism Index 2014 report added.

The report said militant groups Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Taliban were behind most of the deaths.

Iraq was the country most affected by terrorism, the report said.

The report by the Institute for Economics and Peace says that nearly 18,000 people died from terrorist attacks in 2013.

“Not only is the intensity of terrorism increasing, its breadth is increasing as well,” it notes.’

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On Media Outlets That Continue to Describe Unknown Drone Victims As “Militants”

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

It has been more than two years since The New York Times revealed that “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties” of his drone strikes which “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants…unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” The paper noted that “this counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths,” and even quoted CIA officials as deeply “troubled” by this decision: “One called it ‘guilt by association’ that has led to ‘deceptive’ estimates of civilian casualties. ‘It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants. They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.’”

But what bothered even some intelligence officials at the agency carrying out the strikes seemed of no concern whatsoever to most major media outlets. As I documented days after the Times article, most large western media outlets continued to describe completely unknown victims of U.S. drone attacks as “militants”—even though they (a) had no idea who those victims were or what they had done and (b) were well-aware by that point that the term had been “re-defined” by the Obama administration into Alice in Wonderland-level nonsense.’

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Is Longtime U.S. Diplomat Robin Raphel A Spy?

Over half of US drone strike victims may be civilians: Interview with Marjorie Cohn

Pakistan, U.S. appear once again to be cooperating on drone strikes

Tom Hussain reports for McClatchy:

0711162-F-9126Z-793‘A series of CIA drone strikes launched last week against Taliban insurgents in Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas provide the clearest demonstration yet that the U.S. intelligence agency and Pakistani security forces are once again cooperating on defeating the insurgents.

The drone strikes – nine in all, launched daily with a day off on Friday – targeted Taliban fighters as they retreated from the country’s advancing military, which has launched an offensive in the North Waziristan tribal area. Pakistani authorities have billed the campaign as the decisive battle of a seven-year war against Pakistan Taliban insurgents.’

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Missing Malala’s Message of Peace: Drones Fuel Terrorism

Peter Hart writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

yousafzai‘On October 10, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai–who received worldwide attention after being attacked by the Taliban for her advocacy for girls’ education–was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi.  Yousafzai’s work on educational equity is well-known. But less well-known is what she said to Barack Obama about how his wars were undermining the fight against terrorism.

Last year, Yousafzai’s White House meeting with Barack Obama received wide media coverage.  But as I pointed out  back then (FAIR Blog, 10/15/13), part of Yousafzai’s message didn’t make it into most media accounts: She told Obama that drone strikes in her country were fueling more terrorism.’

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Malala Yousafzai a Polarizing Figure in Her Homeland

Mustafa Hameed reports for ABC News:

‘While most in the country, including leading politicians and public figures, have reacted with pride at her award and have supported her over the years for her activism, a vocal segment of Pakistan’s population has not been so pleased with her global recognition.

Some portions of Pakistani society, leaning on ultra-conservative ideologies and conspiracy theories, hold onto the belief that Malala’s assassination attempt was sensationalized, or even faked, in order to discredit the country and its right-wingers. For them, this victory has done little to change their views.’

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Spasm of Violence in Kashmir Worst in Years

Anjum Naveed and Aijaz Hussain report for The Associated Press:

‘[…] The clashes — which both India and Pakistan blame the other for starting — come even though both governments say they want to improve ties and even resolve the conflict. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Pakistan’s leader, Nawaz Sharif, to attend his inauguration in May, saying he wanted to engage the archrival more assertively.

But relations remain fragile, even hostile. India in August abruptly canceled talks with Pakistan after its ambassador met with Kashmiri separatist leaders. The mostly Muslim region, divided into zones controlled by India and Pakistan, and even a chunk by China, has seen fighting off and on for decades. Pakistan and India have fought two wars over the mountainous territory.

Modi, a strident Hindu nationalist, seems intent on showing he represents a new, more forceful India.’

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Drones, the Media and Malala’s Message

Editor’s Note: In light of Malala Yousafzai sharing the Nobel Peace Prize this year, it’s worth reminding ourselves of her visit to the White House last year. Particularly her much ignored words to President Obama about his administration’s use of drone strikes and their links to fuelling the very terrorism that they claim to be fighting.

Peter Hart wrote for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting in October 2013:

Malala-Yousafzai_2700395b‘Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai’s visit to the United States was widely covered in the media, including interviews with ABC‘s Diane Sawyer (10/11/13), CNN’s Christiane Amanpour (10/14/13) and Jon Stewart of the Daily Show (10/8/13). She was selected as ABC‘s “Person of the Week” on October 11, and was considered a serious contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.

And for good reason; just one year ago, Malala was attacked by the Taliban for her outspoken advocacy on behalf of educational equality, surviving a an attack where she was shot in the head.

But one part of her message didn’t seem to penetrate the corporate media.

During her October 11 visit to the White House, Yousafzai told Barack Obama that his administration’s drone strikes were fueling terrorism.’

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US Drone Strikes in Pakistan Kill 26 Over Five Days

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘The Obama Administration seems to be precipitously escalating the drone war against Pakistan’s tribal areas this week, and today launched yet another strike, killing three more unidentified people in North Waziristan.

This makes six different strikes across Waziristan in the past five days, killing 26 people overall. One was reportedly a “Uzbek commander,” but none had yet been publicly named by either US or Pakistani officials.

Pakistani intelligence officials have labeled every single person slain in the strikes as a “suspect,” but have offered no evidence backing up those claims.’

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Pakistan: Imran Khan vows to continue protests until PM resigns

AFP reports:

Pakistani cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan: Imran Khan ’plotted with army to oust Nawaz Sharif’, colleague claims‘Opposition politician Imran Khan [last] Sunday vowed to continue his protest against Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif until the leader resigns over allegations of election rigging.

Khan, along with populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, has been staging a sit-in in capital Islamabad since August 15.

Last week he took his protest to Pakistan’s largest city Karachi and on Sunday he addressed thousands of people in his home town and Pakistan’s second largest city — Lahore, which is also the home town of Sharif.

“The Pakistan nation has woken up against injustice and tyranny and I will continue this protest in other cities till Nawaz Sharif resigns,” Khan said.’

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Related news from recent months:

Pakistan is eyeing sea-based and short-range nuclear weapons, analysts say

Tim Craig and Karen DeYoung report for The Washington Post:

‘In one of the world’s most volatile ­regions, Pakistan is advancing toward a sea-based missile capability and expanding its interest in tactical nuclear warheads, according to Pakistani and Western analysts.

The development of nuclear missiles that could be fired from a ship or submarine would give Pakistan “second-strike” capability if a catastrophic nuclear exchange destroyed all land-based weapons. But the acceleration of Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs is renewing international concern about the vulnerability of those weapons in a country that is home to more than two dozen Islamist extremist groups.’

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Polio: Pakistan polio outbreak hits record high

BBC News reports:

A Pakistani child receives a polio vaccination drops from a health worker in Rawalpindi - 8 April 2014‘Pakistan has recorded its highest number of polio cases for 15 years, with health officials blaming the rise on attacks on immunisation teams. The number of new cases in 2014 so far is 202, exceeding the 199 cases in 2001 but short of the 558 cases in 1999.

Most of the infections are in the north-western tribal region where militants have targeted health teams. Militants there accuse doctors of being spies and say the vaccinations are part of a Western plot to sterilise Muslims.

Suspicions over the programmes worsened after the US was accused of using a fake vaccination programme during its tracking of al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.’

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Pakistani Taliban Clarifies Statement Backing ISIS, Insists They’re Only Loyal to Mullah Omar

Tahir Khan reports for The Express Tribune:

‘Pakistani Taliban said on Sunday that they have declared allegiance only to Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Afghan Taliban supremo, rejecting the media reports that the group has declared allegiance to the Islamic State.

“We are loyal to Ameer-ul-Momineen (Mullah Omar) and question does not arise to withdraw from his allegiance,” Shahidullah Shahid, spokesperson for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said.

Clarifying his earlier reported comments about allegiance to the Islamic State, Shahid said the TTP had only commended the group.

“We had only praised the Islamic State and advised them to set aside differences and show unity,” the TTP spokesperson told The Express Tribune in a late Sunday email.’

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Related news from recent months:

John Oliver On Drones

American drones ‘killing 49 people for every known terrorist in Pakistan’

Leon Watson reported in 2012 for The Daily Mail:

Bombardment: More than 345 strikes have hit Pakistan's tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan in the past eight years‘Just one in 50 victims of America’s deadly drone strikes in Pakistan are terrorists – while the rest are innocent civilians, a new report claimed today. The authoritative joint study, by Stanford and New York Universities, concludes that men, women and children are being terrorised by the operations ’24 hours-a-day’.

And the authors lay much of the blame on the use of the ‘double-tap’ strike where a drone fires one missile – and then a second as rescuers try to drag victims from the rubble. One aid agency said they had a six-hour delay before going to the scene.

The tactic has cast such a shadow of fear over strike zones that people often wait for hours before daring to visit the scene of an attack. Investigators also discovered that communities living in fear of the drones were suffering severe stress and related illnesses. Many parents had taken their children out of school because they were so afraid of a missile-strike.’

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Al-Qaeda India branch’s first attack ends in dismal failure as jihadists ‘raid wrong ship’

Dean Nelson reports for The Telegraph:

 Pakistani sailors stand on the Tipu Sultan warship during the multinational naval exercise 'AMAN 07' (Peace) in the Arabian Sea off Karachi, 08 March 2007.‘Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, the new group announced last week by Ayman al-Zawahiri to bolster his flagging fortunes, suffered a setback when three of its fighters were killed and seven arrested in its first ever terror attack.

Heavily armed militants attacked a naval dock in Karachi’s sea port on Saturday night and targeted what they believed was an American aircraft carrier, but instead found a Pakistan Navy frigate and were overwhelmed before they could cause any damage, investigators said.’

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India says Pakistan border clashes ‘extremely serious and provocative’

Reuters reports:

‘Clashes along India’s border with Pakistan are “extremely serious and provocative” and not conducive to improving relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday.

The comments came nearly two weeks after New Delhi called off top level diplomatic talks, protesting against Pakistan’s meetings with separatists from the disputed region of Kashmir.

Exchanges of fire between Indian and Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Indian- and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir have intensified in recent weeks, claiming lives of several people, including soldiers.’

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India’s prime minister accuses Pakistan of waging a “proxy war of terrorism”

The Associated Press reports:

‘India’s prime minister on Tuesday accused Pakistan of waging a proxy, terrorist war because it was too weak to fight a conventional one, a day after India accused its traditional rival of violating cease-fire agreements in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to provide Indian troops with more weapons, saying they were suffering more casualties from “terrorism than from war.”

“Pakistan has lost the strength to fight a conventional war, but continues to engage in the proxy war of terrorism,” Modi said in an address to Indian army soldiers and officers in the city of Leh. He also announced that a national war memorial would be installed in the region. The pugnacious comments appeared to mark a reversal from friendlier tones struck in the days after Modi and his Hindu-nationalist party won Indian elections in a landslide in May. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was among regional leaders who attended Modi’s inauguration.’

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The CIA Caused A Polio Outbreak In Pakistan

‘When the White House went public with its catching-bin-Laden story, they told every media outlet just about every detail of the raid possible. They even allowed a Hollywood blockbuster to be made about the event. There was so much leakage of information that Dianne Feinstein called for a criminal investigation. Among the leaks was the information that the CIA had recruited doctors to collect DNA samples to help find bin Laden by going door to door to vaccinate people. The Taliban learned of this and started banning vaccines. Now, there is a huge resurgence of polio in Pakistan. The Resident discusses.’ (The Resident)

Pakistan PM Faces Murder Charges Over June Crackdown

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Pakistani protesters continue to mass around the capital city of their “long march,” with PTI leader Imran Khan at the head, promising Sunday will be a “decisive day” in the history of Pakistan.

Saturday was already an historic day in its own right, after the Lahore courts ordered murder charges to be brought against sitting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Punjabi Province leader Shahbaz Sharif.

The charges are related to the order of a deadly crackdown against supporters of preacher Muhammad Tahrir-ul Qadri in June. Qadri, an anti-Taliban preacher, also made several anti-corruption speeches critical of the Sharifs and their associates, and has been involved with the long march.’

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Report: Nearly half of identified drone strike victims in Pakistan are civilians

Shayan Naveed reports for The Express Tribune:

‘An investigative project shows that 323 out of a little over 700 identified victims of US drones in Pakistan are reported to be civilians, including 99 children.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s ‘Naming the Dead project’ – which was launched last year — has now recorded the names of more than 700 of the 2, 342 people reportedly killed by CIA drones in Pakistan.

According to the Bureau’s website, it uses open source materials to monitor and record all drone attacks in covert war situations, including Pakistan.’

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July the bloodiest month of drone strikes in two years in Pakistan

Victoria Parsons, Jack Serle and Alice K Ross reports for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

‘At least 32 people died in three CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, making this the bloodiest month since July 2012. The strikes all reportedly occurred in and around Datta Khel in North Waziristan.

The high death toll from just three attacks dramatically increased the casualty rate – the average number of people killed in each strike on average. This month the casualty rate was 10.7 people per strike. That is more than double the rate for June (4.6) and the highest since April 2011, when 24 people died in two attacks.’

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Chase Madar: U.S. drone attacks undermine national security

Chase Madar, author of The Passion of Bradley Manning, writes for Al Jazeera:

‘Drone blowback is real. Over the past five years, terrorists have attempted serious attacks on American soil that were motivated in part by U.S. drone strikes abroad. We know this because the apprehended terrorists have been loud and clear about their motives. As Pakistani-born Faisal Shahzad, whose car bomb failed to explode in Times Square in May 2010, said at his arraignment:

Until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan and stops the occupation of Muslim lands … we will be attacking U.S. The drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don’t see children … They kill women, children — they kill everybody.

A foiled plot to blow up the New York subway, led by Afghan-born, Queens-raised Najibullah Zazi, also speaks to the growing anger over drone warfare. According to courtroom testimony from the would-be perpetrators, they conceived their effort as revenge for the drone attacks in northwestern Pakistan, where U.S. strikes have killed some 2,800 people. Just how many of those killed were Al-Qaeda fighters and how many civilians is not precisely known. But the connection between drones abroad and danger at home is not hypothetical: It’s a demonstrable fact. And yet our national security experts tend to treat these attempted terrorist attacks as if they were of no relevance to Washington’s increasing use of lethal unmanned aircraft.’

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Israel’s security cabinet discusses both expanding Gaza operation, cease-fire efforts

The Jerusalem Post reports:

‘As Hamas head Khaled Mashaal indicated in Doha Wednesday night that Hamas was ready for a “humanitarian cease-fire,” the security cabinet met to discuss the direction of the military action inside Gaza, as well as the diplomatic efforts to stop it.

Mashaal continued to lay down conditions for the cease-fire, calling for lifting the blockade that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007 and reopening the border crossings. He said Hamas would not accept any cease-fire that bypasses the demands of the movement and other resistance groups in the Gaza Strip.’

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New Pakistan anti-terror law raises fears over civil rights

Katharine Houreld reports for Reuters:

‘Pakistan’s parliament passed a law on Wednesday giving security forces sweeping powers to clamp down on militancy, but some activists and legislators criticized the provisions as too harsh. The legislation, known as the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance, must now be signed into law by the president. The debate over the law follows months of high-profile Taliban attacks and this month’s offensive by the Pakistani military against militant sanctuaries in the remote border region of North Waziristan. Opposition senators had managed to water down some of the law’s most punitive clauses, said Senator Afrasiab Khattak.

“It is still a very harsh law though,” Khattak said by telephone. “We will be raising these issues again when the law comes up for renewal in two years.” The revised legislation, he said, allows suspects to be held for questioning for 60 days without charges being laid instead of 15 days permitted at present. Senior police officers will be empowered to issue orders to shoot to kill suspects. It allows prisoners to be held at secret facilities but provides for some judicial oversight. Warrantless searches are allowed, but the evidence and cause must be presented in court within two days. In its original form, the bill was far more harsh.’

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US Resumes Drone Strikes Against Pakistan

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Having drawn down the number of drone strikes against Pakistani territory to almost nothing in recent months, the US was surprisingly aggressive today [June 11th] in North Waziristan, launching two strikes in 24 hours, killing 16 people. The first attack killed six “suspects,” in Dargah Mandi, destroying a truck and setting a nearby house on fire. The second strike hit in Dande Darpakhel village, killing 10 people and wounding four others.

Though the Pakistani government is back to the old strategy of labeling everyone slain “suspects,” none of the victims in either attack were actually named, and there was no indication the US even suspected they had a high-profile target in sight. There has been speculation that the recent calm was in part due to almost having killed POW Bowe Bergdahl in previous strikes in the region, and some were predicting Bergdahl’s recovery might give the US a free hand to escalate the attacks again. Whether today’s attacks portend a new escalation or are a one-off situation remains to be seen.’

READ MORE @ ANTIWAR…

After bin Laden backlash, CIA promises: No more fake vaccination campaigns

Oliver Knox reports for Yahoo! News:

‘Amid a deadly backlash again vaccinations and a resurgence of polio in Pakistan, the White House has promised that the CIA will never again use an immunization campaign as a tool of spycraft. “I wanted to inform you that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) directed in August 2013 that the agency make no operational use of vaccination programs, which includes vaccination workers,” President Obama’s top counterterrorism and homeland security advisor, Lisa Monaco, wrote to the deans of 12 public health schools.

“Similarly, the Agency will not seek to obtain or exploit DNA or other genetic material acquired through such programs,” Monaco wrote. “This CIA policy applies worldwide and to U.S. and non-U.S. persons alike.” The Central Intelligence Agency had enlisted a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, to collect intelligence under the guise of an immunization effort in the city of Abbottabad as part of planning for the high-risk May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound there.’

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Did CIA’s Fake Polio Vaccination Program in Pakistan Help Fuel a Global Health Emergency?

‘The World Health Organization has designated the spread of polio in Asia, Africa and the Middle East a global public health emergency requiring a coordinated “international response.” Three countries pose the greatest risk of further spreading the paralyzing virus: Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria. In an unusual step, the W.H.O. recommended all residents of those countries, of all ages, to be vaccinated before traveling abroad. The organization also said another seven countries — Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria and Somalia — should “encourage” all their would-be travelers to get vaccinated. Until recently, polio had been nearly eradicated thanks to a 25-year campaign that vaccinated billions of children. In Pakistan, the increase in polio is being linked to a secret CIA ploy used in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. With the help of a Pakistani doctor, the CIA set up a fake vaccination campaign in the city of Abbottabad in an effort to get DNA from the bin Laden family. The Taliban subsequently announced a ban on immunization efforts and launched a string of deadly attacks on medical workers. We are joined by two guests: Rafia Zakaria, a columnist for DAWN, Pakistan’s largest English newspaper, who has been covering the rise of polio in Pakistan since the bin Laden raid; and one of Pakistan’s leading polio experts, Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta.’ (Democracy Now!)