Category Archives: Pakistan

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Arundhati Roy on Telling the Truth of the Atrocities in Kashmir Through Fiction

Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh speak with acclaimed Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy about Kashmir, which has been one of the most militarised zones in the world. According to Roy, it’s also a territory that’s nearly impossible to capture in nonfiction writing. which she has attempted to do in in her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. You can view the full one hour interview here. Roy also contributed to the book, Kashmir: The Case for Freedom(Democracy Now!)



World’s Biggest Building Project Aims to Make China Great Again

Tom Phillips reports for The Guardian:

Image result for Belt and Road initiativeWhen the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, unveiled what some call the most ambitious development plan in history, Zhou Jun decided almost immediately he should head for the hills.

The 45-year-old entrepreneur packed his bags and set off for one of his country’s most staggeringly beautiful corners: a sleepy, high-altitude border outpost called Tashkurgan that – at almost 5,000km (3,100 miles) from Beijing – is the most westerly settlement in China.

“I saw a great opportunity to turn this little town into a mid-sized city,” Zhou explained during a tour of ‘Europa Manor’, a garish roadside spa he recently opened for Chinese tourists along the Karakoram, the legendary 1,300km highway that snakes through China’s rugged western mountains towards the 4,700m-high Khunjerab Pass.

Zhou said he was part of a wave of entrepreneurs now pouring into this isolated frontier near Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, hoping to cash in on President Xi’s “Belt and Road initiative”, a multi-billion dollar infrastructure campaign that looks set to transform large swaths of Asia and the world beyond.


Posters Pop Up Across Pakistan Urging Military Coup

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Large posters bearing pictures of Pakistan’s Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif, have begun popping up all across Pakistan in recent days, with residents of many cities reporting such posters appeared on major highways in large numbers “overnight.

The posters call for Gen. Sharif, whose term as army chief is due to end in November, to launch a military coup, ousting the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and replacing it with a cabinet of technocrats, with himself as the new dictator.

Move On Pakistan, which has its logo on the posters, defended the effort, insisting “dictatorship is much better than this corrupt government,” and that there is no guarantee Gen. Sharif’s successor, to be appointed in November, would make as good a dictator as he would.


Mother China: A ‘Chinese Revolution’ Sweeps Across Pakistan

Nasir Jamal reports for DAWN:

It is quite late in the night but Rawalpindi’s China Market is still swarming with customers. An array of shops in narrow alleys selling imported Chinese goods next to the bustling Raja Bazaar, the market is stuffed with all kinds of merchandise, leaving little space for the tired customers to move around. “Be careful; you may break the vase. It is expensive,” a salesman in a crockery shop warns a little girl trying to feel the smooth surface of a vessel on display.

At another shop, a woman is haggling over the price of what looks like a Versace handbag. She knows it is a copy – a good one though – and wants the shopkeeper to give her a hefty discount on it. “You are demanding a lot of money for a copy,” she politely reproaches the man at the counter who reminds her that it is a “first” copy and not just an “ordinary” bag. But then he agrees to give her a handsome discount.

Able to buy the copies of branded luxury goods, which look as good as originals, and at prices that are within the shopping budgets of most middle-class households across Pakistan, customers in the country have much to thank traders in China Market for. “The best thing about these goods is that our middle-class people can now afford to live in style,” says Noshad Sheikh who runs a shop at China Market. “[Shopkeepers selling these goods have] brought international brands within the reach of local customers who, otherwise, would see those brands only in movies and on television shows,” he says. “Of course, I am talking about copies and not the original products,” he adds with a smile.

Shopkeepers in the market are not bothered by the fact that they are dealing in counterfeit products. On the contrary, they take pride in what they are doing. “We are helping middle-class consumers access new trends and fashions in the world,” says Mohammad Ishaq, another trader at China Market. He goes on to acknowledge that the real credit is owed elsewhere. “This was not possible before China entered our market.”



A.Q. Khan: ‘Pakistan Had the Ability to Conduct a Nuclear Test in 1984’

Raza Khan reports for Dawn:

Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, said Pakistan had the ability and had planned to conduct a nuclear test in 1984, but General Zia opposed the idea as it would have curtailed international aid Pakistan was receiving due to the ongoing Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

“We were able and we had a plan to launch nuclear test in 1984 however; then President General Zia had opposed the move,” said the father of the country’s nuclear programme.

General Zia was of the opinion that the world would stop military aid if Pakistan opted for the nuclear test, Khan added. He also said that Pakistan is able to target Dehli from Kahuta in five minutes.

Khan was addressing a gathering on the occasion of Youm-i-Takbeer.

“Without my services Pakistan would never have been the first Muslim nuclear nation. We were able to achieve the capability under very tough circumstances, but we did it,” said Khan.


Pakistan Bans Film on Government Corruption

Pakistan’s government has banned a film highlighting government corruption. But the publicity surrounding the decision has had the opposite effect. It’s boosting the film’s popularity. (Al Jazeera)

The Killing of Osama Bin Laden: Interview with Seymour Hersh

Amy Goodman talks to investigative journalist Seymour Hersh about his new book, The Killing of Osama bin Laden, in which he argues the official U.S. account of how bin Laden was found and killed was deceptive, and that Pakistan detained bin Laden in 2006 and kept him prisoner with the backing of Saudi Arabia. He suggests that the U.S. and Pakistan then struck a deal: The U.S. would raid bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, but make it look as if Pakistan was unaware. (Democracy Now!)

Behind North Korea’s Nukes: George W. Bush’s “Khan Job”

Greg Palast writes:

How did North Korea get The Bomb in the first place?  As I disclosed on BBC Television Newsnight, the ugly answer is that George W. Bush turned a blind eye to Pakistan’s secret sale of the technology to the North Korean regime.

Read the original story from The Best Democracy Money Can Buy:

On November 7, 2001, BBC Television’s Newsnight reported that the Bush administration thwarted investigations of Dr. A.Q. Khan, known as the “father” of Pakistan’s atomic bomb. This week, Khan confessed to selling atomic secrets to Libya, North Korea, and Iran.

The Bush Administration has expressed shock at disclosures that Pakistan, our ally in the war on terror, has been running a nuclear secrets bazaar. In fact, according to the British news teams’ sources within US intelligence agencies, shortly after President Bush’s inauguration, his National Security Agency (NSA) effectively stymied the probe of Khan Research Laboratories, the Pakistani agency in charge of the bomb project. CIA and other agents told BBC they could not investigate the spread of ‘Islamic Bombs’ through Pakistan because funding appeared to originate in Saudi Arabia.

Greg Palast and David Pallister received a California State University Project Censored Award for this expose based on the story broadcast by Palast on BBC television’s top current affairs program.


A Special Relationship: The United States Is Teaming Up With Al Qaeda, Again

Andrew Cockburn, author of Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, writes for Harpers:

Afghan mujahedeen move toward the front line during the battle for Jalalabad, Afghanistan, March 1989 © Robert Nickelsberg[…] In the wake of 9/11, the story of U.S. support for militant Islamists against the Soviets became something of a touchy subject. Former CIA and intelligence officials like to suggest that the agency simply played the roles of financier and quartermaster. In this version of events, the dirty work — the actual management of the campaign and the dealings with rebel groups — was left to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). It was Pakistan’s fault that at least 70 percent of total U.S. aid went to the fundamentalists, even if the CIA demanded audited accounts on a regular basis.

The beneficiaries, however, have not always been content to play along with the official story. Asked by the ABC News team whether he remembered Charlie Wilson, the Texas congressman later immortalized in print and onscreen as the patron saint of the mujahedeen, Hekmatyar fondly recalled that “he was a good friend. He was all the time supporting our jihad.” Others expressed the same point in a different way. Abdul Haq, a mujahedeen commander who might today be described as a “moderate rebel,” complained loudly during and after the Soviet war in Afghanistan about American policy. The CIA “would come with a big load of ammunition and money and supplies to these [fundamentalist] groups. We would tell them, ‘What the hell is going on? You are creating a monster in this country.’ ”

American veterans of the operation, at the time the largest in CIA history, have mostly stuck to the mantra that it was a Pakistani show. Only occasionally have officials let slip that the support for fundamentalists was a matter of cold-blooded calculation. Robert Oakley, a leading player in the Afghan effort as ambassador to Pakistan from 1988 to 1991, later remarked, “If you mix Islam with politics, you have a much more potent explosive brew, and that was quite successful in getting the Soviets out of Afghanistan.”

In fact, the CIA had been backing Afghan Islamists well before the Russians invaded the country in December 1979. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national-security adviser, later boasted to Le Nouvel Observateur that the president had “signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul” six monthsprior to the invasion. “And that very day,” Brzezinski recalled, “I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.” The war that inevitably followed killed a million Afghans.


US drone strikes could be classed as war crimes, says Amnesty/HRW report

Jon Boone reports for The Guardian:

Pakistan house destroyed by drone missileUS officials responsible for the secret CIA drone campaign against suspected terrorists in Pakistan may have committed war crimes and should stand trial, a report by a leading human rights group warns. Amnesty International has highlighted the case of a grandmother who was killed while she was picking vegetables and other incidents which could have broken international laws designed to protect civilians.

The report is issued in conjunction with an investigation by Human Rights Watch detailing missile attacks in Yemen which the group believes could contravene the laws of armed conflict, international human rights law and Barack Obama’s own guidelines on drones.

The reports are being published while Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister, is in Washington. Sharif has promised to tell Obama that the drone strikes – which have caused outrage in Pakistan – must end.


Total drone strikes under Obama in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen now 491 after September attacks

Jack Serle and Abigail Fielding-Smith report for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

An MQ-9 Reaper sits on a ramp in Afghanistan Oct. 1. The Reaper is launched, recovered and maintained at deployed locations, while being remotely operated by pilots and sensor operators at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. (Courtesy photo/US Air Force)i. Key points:

  • CIA and Pakistan Air Force drones hit Pakistan’s tribal areas
  • US strikes continue in Yemen as the civil war rages
  • Al Shabaab continue to kill peacekeepers and civilians in Somalia
  • The three drone strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen in September means a total of 491 drone strikes there under President Obama
  • US air power helps stem the Taliban tide in Afghanistan
  • Medecins Sans Frontiers trauma centre in Kunduz hit in October air strike
  • The Bureau publishes investigation into UK’s Watchkeeper programme as Cameron doubles RAF drone fleet


The bin Laden death mythology

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Insurge Intelligence:

[…] Hersh’s account has been rejected by some on the grounds that he relies on unverifiable anonymous sources. This investigation conducts a systematic review of open sources and key journalistic reports relevant to the events leading up to the bin Laden raid.

While much corroboration for Hersh’s reporting is uncovered, elements of his account and the Official History contradict a wider context of critical revelations disclosed by many other pioneering journalists. When that context is taken into account, a far more disturbing picture emerges.

The geopolitical relationship between the US, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan played a central role in identifying and locating Osama bin Laden far sooner than officially acknowledged — yet nothing was done. The role of a former ISI officer in blowing the whistle on the ISI’s protection of bin Laden in August 2010, brought his concealment out into the open and triggered high-level White House discussions on how to resolve the situation: to kill or not to kill?

Declassified documents, official government reports and intelligence officials confirm that since before 9/11, and continuing for the decade after, the US intelligence community was systematically stymied from apprehending Osama bin Laden due to longstanding relationships with Saudi and Pakistani military intelligence.’


Saudis “to get nuclear weapons”

Toby Harnden and Christina Lamb report for The Sunday Times:

King Salman with his son Prince Mohammad. Saudi Arabia has long been suspected of bankrolling Pakistan’s nuclear programme ‘Saudi Arabia has taken the “strategic decision” to acquire “off-the-shelf” atomic weapons from Pakistan, risking a new arms race in the Middle East, according to senior American officials.

The move by the Gulf kingdom, which has financed much of Islamabad’s nuclear programme over the past three decades, comes amid growing anger among Sunni Arab states over a deal backed by President Barack Obama, which they fear could allow their arch foe, Shi’ite Iran, to develop a nuclear bomb.

The agreement, which is due to be finalised by the end of next month and involves the permanent members of the UN security council and Germany, is designed to roll back part of Tehran’s nuclear programme in return for an easing of UN sanctions.

There are concerns that Saudi Arabia joining the nuclear club might provoke Turkey and Egypt to follow suit.’


Journalists split over Sy Hersh’s bin Laden killing claims: Interview with Gareth Porter

‘The new report on the assassination of Osama bin Laden by famed journalist Seymour Hersh has been garnering major criticism from mainstream press outlets. Ben Swann speaks with investigative journalist Gareth Porter about the flaws in Hersh’s report and where the mainstream media has been failing the public.’ (RT America)

Critics Attack Seymour Hersh After Bin Laden Raid Story Goes Public

‘Seymour Hersh published a HUGE article on what actually happened during the Osama bin Laden raid in Pakistan. There’s a lot of dispute about this article, and Cenk comes out somewhere in the middle. The critics are saying that the reporting is thinly sourced. Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) goes over the disputed details, and goes on to show and discusses the attempts to smear Hersh’s “The Killing of Osama bin Laden“.’ (The Young Turks)

Seymour Hersh Interviewed on Bin Laden Killing Story, Responds to White House and Media Backlash

Editor’s Note: This is a 20-minute exceprt from Hersh’s interview on Democracy Now! You can watch the final 10-minutes here.

‘Four years after U.S. forces assassinated Osama bin Laden, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has published an explosive piece claiming much of what the Obama administration said about the attack was wrong. Hersh claims at the time of the U.S. raid, bin Laden had been held as a prisoner by Pakistani intelligence since 2006. Top Pakistani military leaders knew about the operation and provided key assistance. Contrary to U.S. claims that it located bin Laden by tracking his courier, a former Pakistani intelligence officer identified bin Laden’s whereabouts in return for the bulk of a $25 million U.S. bounty. Questions are also raised about whether bin Laden was actually buried at sea, as the U.S. claimed. Hersh says instead the Navy SEALs threw parts of bin Laden’s body into the Hindu Kush mountains from their helicopter. The White House claims the piece is “riddled with inaccuracies.” Hersh joins us to lay out his findings and respond to criticism from government officials and media colleagues.’ (Democracy Now!)

NBC Confirms Hersh: Pakistani Official Turned in bin Laden

Ben Kamisar reports for The Hill:

The CIA discovered Osama bin Laden’s location from a Pakistani intelligence official before the American Special Forces raid that killed the al Qaeda leader, NBC News reports.

A Special Forces operator told the network that the government used a cover story to assert that bin Laden’s courier tipped off the CIA in order to protect the identity of the Pakistani official who gave up the information. The military official added that Pakistani intelligence was hiding bin Laden in the country.

The news comes just one day after a controversial report from journalist Seymour Hersh in the London Review of Books alleged that a Pakistani intelligence official gave up bin Laden’s location to the CIA.

But Hersh’s report also asserts the Pakistani intelligence services cooperated with the mission by helping U.S. helicopters enter the country. It also claims that American forces faced no resistance in bin Laden’s compound because the guards were ordered to stand down.’


Seymour Hersh on The Killing of Osama bin Laden

Seymour Hersh writes for the London Review of Books:

It’s been four years since a group of US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election. The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account. The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations? He was hiding in the open. So America said.’


Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk writes for The Independent:

[…] It amazes me that all these warriors of the air don’t regularly crash into each other as they go on bombing and bombing. And since Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines is the only international carrier still flying over Syria – but not, thank heavens, over Isis’s Syrian capital of Raqqa – I’m even more amazed that my flights from Beirut to the Gulf have gone untouched by the blitz boys of so many Arab and Western states as they career around the skies of Mesopotamia and the Levant.

The sectarian and theological nature of this war seems perfectly clear to all who live in the Middle East – albeit not to our American chums. The Sunni Saudis are bombing the Shia Yemenis and the Shia Iranians are bombing the Sunni Iraqis. The Sunni Egyptians are bombing Sunni Libyans, it’s true, and the Jordanian Sunnis are bombing Iraqi Sunnis. But the Shia-supported Syrian government forces are bombing their Sunni Syrian enemies and the Lebanese Hezbollah – Shia to a man – are fighting the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Sunni enemies, along with Iranian Revolutionary Guards and an ever-larger number of Afghan Shia men in Syrian uniforms.’


When U.S. strikes go wrong, not all civilian lives are equal

Hannah Allam writes for McClatchy:

US NEWS DRONECREWS 3 LAThe unusual announcement by President Barack Obama last week that a U.S. strike on an al Qaida compound in Pakistan inadvertently had killed two hostages – one a U.S. citizen, the other Italian – came with an apology and the speedy pledge of monetary compensation for the families.

None of that happened for another American who was killed in a U.S. strike in 2011. Abdulrahman al Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of al Qaida propagandist Anwar al Awlaki, wasn’t believed to have been involved in militant activities and, by the U.S. government’s own version, was an unintended casualty of the U.S. attack that killed him in Yemen.

Yet four years on, despite a media campaign and a lawsuit, the Obama administration has not apologized for the killing or offered compensation to the Awlaki family. Human rights advocates say the reason is that, when it comes to making amends for civilian deaths in U.S. counterterrorism operations, not all lives are valued the same – even when they’re American.’


India and Pakistan’s Proxy War in Afghanistan

Catherine Putz writes for The Diplomat:

In an interview Tuesday with TOLONews, Amar Sinha, the Indian ambassador to Afghanistan, called the idea of a proxy war between his country and Pakistan playing out in Afghanistan a myth.

[The] India-Pakistan war is somehow getting reflected in Afghanistan… we see many analysts and journalists [calling] it a proxy war, which is a myth. [Rather] it is a smokescreen created to justify Pakistan’s behavior, which has not been [that] of a friendly neighbor.

Sinha, nonetheless, says that India’s “proxy” in Afghanistan is the Afghan people and that Pakistan’s is the Taliban.’


Former CIA Chief in Pakistan Faces Murder Charges for Drone Killings

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Former CIA station chief for Islamabad Jonathan Bank is to face charges of murder and waging war against Pakistan, according to a ruling by the high court.

The charges are related to a December 2009 drone strike against North Waziristan in which three civilians were killed. Banks is no longer in the country, and will be tried in absentia.

The CIA has launched scores of drone strikes against Pakistan’s tribal areas, killing countless civilians, of course, but the Pakistani government has shown only vague opposition to the strikes and little interest in identifying the slain.’


Causing genocide to protect us from terror

Neil Clark writes for RT:

A report called Body Count has revealed that at least 1.3 million people have lost their lives as a result of the US-led “war on terror” in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s a report which should have made front page news across the world.

In the comprehensive 101 page document ‘Body Count, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, have produced figures for the number of people killed from September 11, 2001 until the end of 2013.

The findings are devastating: the in-depth investigation concludes that the ‘war on terror‘ has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan. As awful as that sounds, the total of 1.3 million deaths does not take into account casualties in other war zones, such as Yemen – and the authors stress that the figure is a “conservative estimate”.’


The Great Game in Afghanistan: The US Is Losing Out

Dilip Hiro writes for TomDispatch:

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani stands beside Chinese President Xi Jin-pingCall it an irony, if you will, but as the Obama administration struggles to slow down or halt its scheduled withdrawal from Afghanistan, newly elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is performing a withdrawal operation of his own. He seems to be in the process of trying to sideline the country’s major patron of the last 13 years — and as happened in Iraq after the American invasion and occupation there, Chinese resource companies are again picking up the pieces.

In the nineteenth century, Afghanistan was the focus of “the Great Game” between the imperial powers of that era, Britain and Czarist Russia, and so it is again.  Washington, the planet’s “sole superpower,” having spent an estimated $1 trillion and sacrificed the lives of 2,150 soldiers fighting the Taliban in the longest overseas war in its history, finds itself increasingly and embarrassingly consigned to observer status in the region, even while its soldiers and contractors still occupy Afghan bases, train Afghan forces, and organize night raids against the Taliban.’


Pakistan’s Long History of Fighting Saudi Arabia’s Wars

Ishaan Tharoor writes for The Washington Post:

Saudi Arabia’s campaign against Houthi rebel forces in Yemen, which began with waves of airstrikes overnight on Thursday, has laid down a new marker in the dangerously unstable Middle East.

As WorldViews discussed earlier, the Saudis coordinated their action with a coalition of Sunni majority countries, sharpening the perception that the offensive was part of a wider regional conflict with Iran, a Shiite power that has backed the Houthis and is locked in a larger game of geopolitical chess with the Saudis in various corners of the Middle East.

One conspicuous nation among the list of countries official Saudi media claimed had “declared their willingness to participate” in the anti-Houthi action is Pakistan. A non-Arab state with a sizeable Shiite minority, Pakistan also has an overstretched military, which is wrestling with its own extremist insurgency in the rugged borderlands near Afghanistan.’


US war on terror has claimed over 80,000 lives in Pakistan, says Body Count report

Khaleej Times reports:

The report titled “Body Count: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the War on Terror” was released by the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War along with Physicians for Social Responsibility and Physicians for Global Survival, The Express Tribune reported today.

The report, dealing with the conflict from 2004 until the end of 2013, shows that a total of 81,325 to 81,860 persons — including 48,504 civilians, 45 journalists, 416-951 civilians killed by drones, 5,498 security personnel and 26,862 militants — lost their lives in the US-led war on terror.

It also said that around 1.3 million people were directly and indirectly killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of US-led wars in the regions during the the same period.’


Endless War: As U.S. Strikes Tikrit and Delays Afghan Pullout, “War on Terror” Toll Tops 1.3 Million

‘As the United States begins bombing the Iraqi city of Tikrit and again delays a withdrawal from Afghanistan, a new report has found that the Iraq War has killed about one million people. The Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and other groups examined the toll from the so-called war on terror in three countries — Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The investigators found “the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around one million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware. … And this is only a conservative estimate.” The true tally, they add, could be more than two million. We are joined by two guests who worked on the report: Hans von Sponeck, former U.N. assistant secretary-general and U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, who in 2000 resigned his post in protest of the U.S.-led sanctions regime; and Dr. Robert Gould, president of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.’ (Democracy Now!)

US won’t be able to control terrorism, because it’s unwilling to alter its imperial policies

Waqas Mirza writes for Jacobin:

US-backed rebels in Afghanistan, October 1987.‘[…] The problem is not that the Obama administration lacks the information to formulate an effective counter-extremism strategy that doesn’t scapegoat Muslims. The problem instead is that the most effective way to reduce the threat of terrorism is to retreat from empire.

It is no surprise that imperial wars and longstanding alliances with authoritarian states responsible for funding right-wing Islamist movements do not reduce the threat of terrorism. This holds true not just for “homegrown” terrorism but also for terrorist groups abroad. Unwilling to abandon policies that continually produce recruits for militant Islamism, the US falls back on blaming an ideology and the community which supposedly harbors it. Hence the focus on Muslims and the battle for “hearts and minds.”’.’


Almost 2,500 now killed by covert US drone strikes since Obama’s inauguration six years ago

Jack Serle reports for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

A ground creman walks in front of a US Air Force Reaper as it sits on the tarmac in the desert lanscape of an air base in AfghanistanAt least 2,464 people have now been killed by US drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones (Afghanistan and Iraq) since President Barack Obama’s inauguration six years ago, the Bureau’s latest monthly report reveals.

Of the total killed since Obama took his oath of office on January 20 2009, at least 314 have been civilians, while the number of confirmed strikes under his administration now stands at 456.

Research by the Bureau also shows there have now been nearly nine times more strikes under Obama in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia than there were under his predecessor, George W Bush.

And the covert Obama strikes, the first of which hit Pakistan just three days after his inauguration, have killed almost six times more people and twice as many civilians than those ordered in the Bush years, the data shows.’


Pakistani cartoonists tread fine line in land of blasphemy laws

Guillaume Lavallee reports for AFP:

In the face of Pakistan’s prolific use of blasphemy laws and a culture of political violence, cartoonists must tread a thin line. But they do find ways to poke fun at the powerful — including religious extremists.

The conservative nation of 200 million people is consistently ranked one the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, with reporters often caught between powerful spy agencies and Islamist militants.

Without subscribing to all the ideas of Charlie Hebdo’s satirists killed this week for their depictions of Prophet Mohammed, the country’s caricaturists have sustained a proud, decades long tradition of pushing the envelope of free speech.’