Osama bin Laden is dead —Obama says we’re not at war with Islam???

Osama bin Laden is dead

Major news sources now reporting that U.S. has the body of Al Qaeda leader

Obama says we’re not at war with Islam???

By salon staff
AP
Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan

In a last-minute address Sunday night, President Obama is expected to inform national and international viewers that Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, is dead.

Major news outlets are now reporting that the U.S. possesses the body of the Al Qaeda leader.

The president’s speech will begin shortly. Stick with us throughout the night for more updates.

Part-Time Allies Yemen and Pakistan are still not committed to the war against radical Islam.

Part-Time Allies

Posted By Ryan Mauro On May 19, 2010 @ 12:06 am In FrontPage | 1 Comment

President Bush famously said after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that every country had to decide whether they were with us or against us. Unfortunately, several so-called allies have decided to tackle some terrorist groups and not others, believing that the U.S. has no other option but to accept their half-hearted collaboration. Recent news from Yemen and Pakistan show that these two countries are double-dealing and need to be held accountable.

The Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi announced [1] that high-level Al-Qaeda leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, will not be extradited to the United States if they capture him, even though he is an American citizen. Al-Awlaki is thought to be connected to the Fort Hood shooting and the Christmas Day underwear bomb plot. The Al-Qaeda branch in Yemen is becoming increasingly active, with up to 36 former prison inmates in the U.S. having joined [2] the group.

This follows an earlier incident where al-Qirbi said [3] that his government was not actively trying to arrest al-Awlaki, saying he was seen as a preacher. He then clarified [4] that statement, saying he was only referring to the period when al-Awlaki initially moved to Yemen from the U.S. and was not accused of being involved in terrorism. He explained that the Yemeni government wants to arrest al-Awlaki, but blamed the U.S. for not providing adequate intelligence to allow them to locate him. We have heard the Pakistanis use a similar defense over the years when confronted with their resistance to arresting Taliban leaders.

Yemen has long harbored Al-Qaeda and radical Salafi elements, making various deals [5] with them and openly negotiating truces when conflict arose. President Saleh’s government and security forces are known to have close ties to the Salafi tribes, whose members are reliable allies when fighting the radical Shiite Houthi rebels.

Imprisoned Al-Qaeda members frequently “escape” from prison. In February 2006, 23 Al-Qaeda members, including some involved in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and the 2003 bombings in Riyadh, found [6] their way out of a high-security prison. When they were rearrested, the Yemeni government pardoned them after they disavowed terrorism. In February 2009, Yemen released [7] 170 Al-Qaeda members after they promised not to return to terrorism. The Arab press reported [8] last year that two Al-Qaeda camps were in Yemen, with one in Abyan Province housing about 400 terrorists.

The problem is similar in Pakistan. Although the Pakistani military has launched offensives to take back territory held by Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and like-minded terrorists, the government is still allowing some terrorist groups and Taliban figures to have freedom on their soil. The arrest in February of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the second-in-command of the Taliban, was seen as a turning point, but at least two other senior Taliban officials were released. [9]

The Haqqani network, which is allied to the Taliban, remains immune [10] from Pakistani counter-terrorism efforts. Last May, U.S. intelligence found [11] that the Taliban’s capabilities had expanded due to the assistance of members of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service which was providing money, weapons and even “strategic planning guidance.” The ISI’s S-Wing [12] was accused of supporting the branch of the Taliban in Quetta in Baluchistan Province, where Mullah Omar is believed to be, as well as the Haqqani network and the forces led by Guldbuddin Hekmatyar, another Taliban ally.

The failed plot by Faisal Shahzad and the Pakistani Taliban to set off a car bomb in Times Square proves that all jihadist groups in Pakistan must be eliminated in order to stop attacks on the homeland and on American interests. At least four members of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) have been arrested by the Pakistani authorities as part of their investigation into Shahzad, and he has told his captors that he met with a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) while in Pakistan. In December, five Americans who traveled to Pakistan to join the Taliban and Al-Qaeda stayed at a safehouse provided by a member of Jaish-e-Mohammed.

The leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed openly [13] preaches anti-Western extremism and jihad in Pakistan and although Lashkar-e-Taiba is banned, it continues to operate under the name of Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, is on house arrest but still preaches [14] to thousands in Lahore.

The two groups are even allowed to operate schools. Reporters have found [15] two madrasses openly run by Jaish-e-Mohammed. After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the LET said [16] it ran over 202 schools as well as hospitals and charities in the country. Only a handful of the schools have been closed. Reporters have also observed the JEM’s headquarters in Bahawalpur in Punjab Province operating freely. After their presence was learned of, a checkpoint was established but the facility remained open.

Arnaud de Borchgrave wrote [17] in The Washington Times recently that Pakistan “is still producing an estimated 10,000 potential jihadis a year out of 500,000 graduates from Pakistan’s 11,000 madrasses.” Any school run by extremist needs to be seen as an enemy base, no different than a training camp.

The U.S. cannot afford to allow Yemen and Pakistan to continue their current behavior. The governments of these two countries may argue that aggressive action could cause a backlash. The U.S. must emphasize that if action is not taken by them, then the CIA’s drones will take the action for them. The public pressure they fear will become a reality due to their own inaction.

This conflict is more than a war against Al-Qaeda. It is a war against an entire radical Islamic infrastructure with each component being as important as the next. There must be no distinction made between Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, like the one in Yemen, and similar but separate groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pakistan.

Bomber trained at Pakistan terror camp

AP sources: Bomber trained at Pakistan terror camp

 

 Email this Story

May 4, 3:26 PM (ET)

By EILEEN SULLIVAN and KIMBERLY DOZIER 

WASHINGTON (AP) – The suspect in the failed Times Square bombing told authorities he trained at a terrorism camp in Pakistan, officials said Tuesday as they worked to unravel the events leading up to the nearly catastrophic attack.

Faisal Shahzad was arrested late Monday and charged with trying to blow up an SUV in crowded Times Square on Saturday evening. Attorney General Eric Holder said Shahzad was cooperating with authorities and would face terrorism and weapons of mass destruction charges.

Holder said Shahzad had provided valuable information, but the attorney general would not elaborate.

One law enforcement official said Shahzad told the FBI he trained in Pakistan. A second said the training was believed to be in the lawless tribal region of Waziristan, where the Pakistani Taliban operates with near impunity.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive ongoing investigation.

The Pakistani Taliban has taken credit for the bomb plot, but U.S. officials say there’s no evidence to back that up.

The report of training raises the possibility the attack was a coordinated international effort, but authorities have not said whether they believe that to be the case.

Pakistani minister: Obama’s plan emboldens terrorists

Pakistani minister: Obama’s plan emboldens terrorists

By: Sara Carter
National Security Correspondent
March 12, 2010

Islamabad, PAKISTAN – President Obama’s plan to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July 2011 has emboldened terrorists and increased distrust of U.S. intentions in the region, Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Thursday.

“The administration’s withdrawal date was music to the ears of the militants and terrorists,” Qureshi said in an exclusive interview with The Washington Examiner. “This sends the wrong signal, and you will have chaos and confusion in Afghanistan if this comes to fruition.”

Meeting with a reporter in his Islamabad office, Qureshi said, “If we walk away sort of leaving things half-baked, that could be the worst thing you could have done to regional stability.”

The minister’s comments marked some of the strongest criticism yet from regional allies of the Obama administration’s goal to begin withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July 2011. That intention was spelled out by the president during a December speech in which he announced a surge of American troops into Afghanistan, from about 30,000 to more than 100,000.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates later suggested that once the withdrawal begins in July 2011, completing it could take “two or three years,” while conceding that “there are no deadlines in terms of when our troops will all be out.”

Qureshi said Pakistan “is ready to deliver” and has proved its commitment to fighting extremists with the arrests of many top terrorist leaders, the killing of more than 600 al Qaeda fighters and successful operations in the nation’s tribal region. He said Pakistan continues to view the United States as a partner at war with a common enemy “despite past differences and distrust.”

An Afghan official with knowledge of current military operations in Afghanistan told The Examiner that the announcement of a planned withdrawal date made the people of his country apprehensive about openly supporting the U.S.-led NATO mission.

“They’re afraid to be deserted,” the Afghan official said. “The Taliban watches the news, the news spreads, and they use it as a weapon against the people. It works against what we’re trying to accomplish, no matter what anyone says publicly.”

The Obama administration has argued that the extra troops will help speed the process for withdrawal and aid Afghanistan in developing a strong security force of its own to govern the populace.

Republican leaders, who were supportive of the troop increase, did not agree with the president’s declaration of a withdrawal.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a presidential rival, said a withdrawal date would “dispirit our friends and encourage our enemies.”

Qureshi was openly skeptical that the U.S. would be able to achieve a withdrawal next summer without destabilizing the region.

“Can the [U.S.] walk away?” he asked. “Even if you leave Afghanistan, can you walk away from this situation? In my view, you can pull your troops out, right? But you cannot walk away because [the terrorists] might bite you in your land.”

The Cross: The Vanishing Kafir Symbol in Pakistan

The Cross: The Vanishing Kafir Symbol in Pakistan

Friday, 08 January 2010 08:17 Lennard James

Print

How the besieged and persecuted Christians in Pakistan have to live without public display of religious piety and symbols…..


The great Mahatma Gandhi said: “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.”

Christians can’t displayed the Cross in Pakistan

Intense hatred and intolerance towards other religious cultures and symbols will only help fostering of extremist views in other societies.

The ‘Cross’ is the most revered and sacred religious symbol in Christianity. In Pakistan, this emblem and the cherished relic of the Christian Faith has faded from the public eye down the years and is rarely seen in the humdrums of everyday Christian life today!

Being born and raised a devout Christian and a part of the country’s largest religious minority, the increasing invisibility of the Cross, despite its ascent about two decades ago, is unsettling to me.

From the memoirs of my childhood, right through to my teens, there was a time in Pakistan, when it was common to see the Cross pendants of various sizes and shapes dangling from the necks of young and old Christians alike, buzzing on every street corner. But now, that sight has sadly been reduced to mere rare glimpses in Karachi’s famous shopping bazaars, namely the Bohri Bazaar. It is mostly noticeable during the Christmas and Easter eve shopping, when Christian shoppers are busy shopping in large numbers. The decreasing visibility of the Cross over here underscores the challenges the Christian community is so harshly facing in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The Cross in Pakistan is now restricted to only a few architectural elements of church steeples, including on prominent monuments mostly of the bygone British Raj eras, which are left bare to rot away! Yet, many of such monuments in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan have, virtually, been demolished or were/are ravaged by Muslim fanatics, who keep on demolishing or vandalizing the sacred relics of the Kafirs!

Indeed, in view of the recent religious violence, i.e. persecution of non-Muslims by Muslims, all over Pakistan, there is an even smaller fraction of people, whose faith hangs on a Cross on the rearview mirrors of their cars, more daring ones display their religious identities on the entrance doors of their homes—a sight that was, previously, common to see.

No more the Festive Days

The Christian Cross seems to be fast disappearing from the local jewelry shop-windows, too! When inquired about this change, Pakistani Christians voice concerns about their safety and security lest they invite ire of Muslim fanatics by displaying the Cross. Others, dubiously, ponder about their future in Pakistan, as the TTP (Theireeq-e-Talibaan Pakistan) are gains fast grounds for the eradication of Kafirs from the Islamic land of Pakistan!

“Not many people come to buy them here anymore. We have some old samples, but they are rarely requested for,” says Rafiq, whom I have known since childhood and owner of a small jewelry shop in Saddar in Karachi, my hometown. Rafiq’s family has been in this business for three generations.

The Churches, once adorned with decorative lights on festive occasions, are now accompanied by private security guards with scanners and metal detectors at the entrance, and are also being aided by the LEA (Law Enforcement Agency).

The Christian processions through the streets of Karachi before sunrise on Easter and at midnight on Christmas have stopped altogether. The Parish Priests of respective churches in the country feel frightened and keep low vigil services on the feast days. As many as 50 Muslim villagers armed with clubs and axes recently attacked a screening of the ‘Jesus’ film in Chak village near Sargodha, injuring three part-time evangelists and four Christians in attendance. Two of the evangelists were said to be seriously injured.

The Muslim hardliners also damaged a movie projector, burned reels of the film and absconded with the public address system and the donations from Christian viewers.

So, one can imagine what the Christian community is facing in Pakistan, such great dangers, and, as a result, they are slowly fading in these high times of Islamic Jihad. Even the Carol singers have vanished from Christian communities.

So are the Christmas decorations, which once adorned every Christian shop and home and seen on the streets and in the bazaars, and the colorful Christmas buntings that once decked the windows and balconies of every Christian, have all disappeared now! So too is Santa Claus, once the merry and joy of the children, as the Muslim goons/cops harass them!

At the Christmas and the New Year eve partying, once frequently held at homes or Five Star hotels all over Pakistan, are not allowed anymore. While the world brings in the New Year in style and extravaganzas, here in Pakistan, one can, unfortunately, hear only the loud aerial firings, emanating from every corner and homes of Muslim neighborhoods.

The Image of Salvation no more to be seen

The Cross, a symbol of salvation to Christians, is now seen only in a few photo exhibitions of churches, in famous Christian historical landmarks, or in the elite and well-cloistered galleries in the country. Stephan Andrew, a well-known photographer in Pakistan, admits that there are fewer opportunities to photograph the Cross in Pakistan now than ever before. For his first solo exhibition two months ago, Andrew had just one photograph capturing the Christian presence in this country—an image of the monument in Pakistan’s only Cathedral, the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral at Karachi. “Christians are hesitant to display their religious identities now! It is believed that, if you are a Christian, you are either associated with the Americans or a foreigner here,” adds Andrew.

Salman Chand, a Karachi-based banker, who is a part of the youthful social scene, says he doesn’t wear a Cross anymore for different reasons, as he put it:

“I’m not too keen on putting my faith on display; it is only because, I feel that the Cross is very sacred to me and it sometimes conflicts with my lifestyle. I don’t wear a Cross, only because I don’t want it to be disrespected or associated with things that my religion does not preach…”

Despite such reservations, young Christians do long for some acknowledgements of their faith in Islamic Pakistan. Andrew recounts a recent visit to Karachi’s Empress Market, where he came across some roadside shops selling Cross pendants on black threads.

“Perhaps it is more a style than any other sorts of religious declarations, but seeing the Crosses felt really good. It just shows some part of Pakistan is still very liberal and forthcoming,” he explains.

Indeed, many a Pakistani Christians continue to value the sacred symbolism of the Cross. Shallum Xavier, guitarist, composer and music producer of the Pakistani rock group FUZON, who wears a Cross pendant on his neck in his music videos, says that he does not wear it to represent his faith but because of what it signifies: the crucifixion of Jesus Christ!

“I wear the Cross, because of my memories from childhood. It is more of a personal thing to me. A big part of it is, because of my love for Jesus Christ,” says the pop celebrity.

The value of the Cross is more than anything to a Christian ever cherishes.

Meanwhile, Nabeel Dean, a senior sales and marketing manager in an insurance company, points out that it is not just Christians, who are scared of professing their identities in Pakistan.

“People from other castes (non-Muslim) are generally keeping a low profile. With sectarian violence on the rise and the internal clashes between various political parties, caste and religion automatically becomes explosive subjects here, and you never know what will offend whom?” he says.

Our Better days

In the years after Partition, Pakistani Christians used to have no qualms in displaying their religious identity in any forms. The community was confidence and self-assured. Between the 1950s and the early 1970s, the Pakistani Christian Community was respected members of the Pakistani society. They were patriotic citizens and qualified professionals, contributing as educationists, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, policing and even popular radio jockeys. Back then, the Pakistani society encouraged a dynamic mix of cultures, values, identities and religions… This congenial respect for diversity gave birth to relative acceptance for all minorities living in large neighbourhoods.

Before, Shallum Xavier and other contemporary Christian pop icons, including the legendary drummer Gumby, had to justify their regard for the Cross; the sounds of religious harmony were heard loud and clear across Pakistan.

In the late 1970s, the Benjamin Sisters, a minority singing sensation group formed by three sisters, Nerissa, Beena and Shabana, achieved immense popularity in both Pakistan and neighboring India. Their popularity began to be referred to as the “Benjamin Sisters Phenomenon”. In fact, the Benjamin Sisters symbolized what Jinnah’s inner dream of Pakistan was: singing patriotic national songs such as ‘Is parcham kay saye tale hum ek hai.’

Mass migration

However, the military ruler General Ziaul Haq’s wave of Islamization in the 1980s brought about a stark change in Pakistan’s social and political scenarios. The nation’s Christians, once one a highly regarded community, bore the brunt of these social transformations. Those, who were affluent enough, emigrated, while leaving behind the poorer majority of Pakistani Christians to make their peace with being regarded as second-class citizens in their own country of birth?

“The mass migration of Christians in the eighties explains the absence of the cross today,” says Minerva Rebecca, a human resources manager in a non-profit organization.

“There’s nobody around to wear it anymore,” she adds.

She also points out that the Christians, who remain in Pakistan, are socially marginalized and disenfranchised, and therefore, are not confident enough to display their religious identities.

“They’re not part of the higher social strata, for them to be seen at social gatherings, where the cross may ever be noticed,” says Rebecca.

Youhana’s conversion

Since mass migration of some Christians in the 1980s, the only overt display of the Cross in the 1990s could be seen when one tuned in to catch a cricket match. Yousuf Youhana, the third Pakistani batsmen to score more than 8,000 runs in Test cricket, made sign of the Cross after completing every century! With a Christian and a Hindu (Danish Kaneria), representing the ‘green’ and ‘white’ of the national flag, playing for the national team, those were truly proud moments for Pakistan’s Christians.

Christian Yousuf Youhana wedding
Convert Muhammad Yousuf
Pakistan: Great Christian cricketer Yousuf
Youhana converted to Islam for better
opportunity, captaincy for example.

In 2005, however, Pakistani Christians, who prayed so ever fervently for Youhana during every cricket match he played in, were disappointed with his conversion to Islam. Confused by rumors and controversies surrounding his conversion, young Christian boys, who looked up to Youhana for inspiration, felt let down badly. Now, we see him sporting a Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad, the famous Beard shaven at the lips only. Now named Mohammed Yousuf, he is now captain of the national cricket team.

“He was my role model,” says my 14-year-old nephew Sean James, a student at St. Patrick’s High School in Karachi.

“Everyone is subjected to discriminations and at some point in their lives, whether it’s about religion or the way you look. I used to think if Yousuf Youhana didn’t succumb to the pressure, neither would I loathe him now,” I replied.

Owing to these setbacks, Pakistani Christians are now struggling hard to find a footing in Pakistani society. Majority are reduced to menial labour jobs; many are frequently subjected to forced conversions or are accused of desecrating the Quran, or are killed by the Muslim extremists all over Pakistan.

Pervaiz Masih, a friend who works at the CDGK (City District Government of Karachi), sweeps the streets and cleans the sewages of Karachi’s PECHS area. He admits to facing severe hardships of being a Christian in Pakistan.

“I had to change my name from Pervaiz Rehmat Bahadur to land this job. What does that tell you?” he asks me.

“I am not proud of doing it, but I have a family to feed,” he adds.

And I know how hard it is for him to earn a living. You are loathed and ridiculed to work as a sweeper or a garbage collector in Pakistan. The Christians and Hindus communities are mostly given these sorts of jobs, for they are considered to be filthy Kafirs in Islam?

In the evenings, however, when he is off duty and looks forward to a warm cup of tea with friends from the Christian community in Mehmoodabad-Karachi, where he lives. He finds the transition back to his faith a comforting one.

“With my friends, I will always be Pervaiz Rehmat Bahadur,” he adds cheerfully to me.

I marvel at his zest and honesty as a Christian.

The laws of the Islamic land

To a large extent, Pervaiz Masih’s insecurities about being openly Christian in Pakistan can be traced back to a single piece of legislature. Since the 1980s, Christians in Pakistan have increasingly become victims of humiliations and persecutions through false allegations made under the notoriously dreaded blasphemy law! Unfortunately, the Pakistani Penal Code (PPC) provides little guidance on what exactly constitutes blasphemy??? The law, a remnant of the 1860s British colonial criminal law, was revised in 1986 by General Ziaul Haq in accordance with the Islamic Shari’ah. In 1992, the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif revised it again, when death penalty was made mandatory for every convicted blasphemer.

In its earlier incarnation, the law applied equally to all religions! But in the revised version, the death penalty only applies to those, who blaspheme against Islam, especially the Kafiroon, a tool that is widely used against non-Muslims! According to a 2001 U.S. State Department report, entitled ‘International Religious Freedom’, 55 to 60 Christians living in Islamic countries are charged with blasphemy each year. Currently, more than a hundred thousand accused are languishing in Pakistani jails awaiting trials. Some have literally been held in prisons for decades, while waiting for hearings in courts.

At the Christmas Mass a week ago, the Rev. Fr. Joseph at St. Patrick’s Parish narrated in his sermon, of his recent visit to the Karachi Central Jail: “We went to say Mass for our Christian brothers and sister languishing there. It was sad though to come to know that some are innocent and have been there for nearly a decade. After Mass, the prisoners were crying out to us and begging us to come every Sundays and bless them and say Mass there”.

He said, “At Mass, the prisoners kissed the crucifix and said, ‘Father we have not seen the Cross in ages. We are not allowed to venerate the crucified Christ anymore and we feel that Christ is amongst us now and has forgiven our sins”.

He added: “It is a pity we cannot visit them often, as there are too many hurdles in taking permissions from the concerned authorities to say Mass every Sundays…”

Admittedly, the number of arrests under the blasphemy law has decreased since the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto approved two PPC amendments, designed to reduce the abuse of Section 295-C. Ex-president General Pervez Musharraf, too, suggested mild changes to the current blasphemy law in April 2000, but withdrew his recommendations the following month. As a result, the law remains largely intact and a fearsome tool for the many who know of its dreaded use!

Following his visit to riot-hit Gojra in August 2009, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani hinted at changing the blasphemy law in a bid to facilitate ‘religious harmony’ in the country. Moreover, there is an increasing acknowledgement that the blasphemy law is usually invoked in cases of political vendettas or rivalries or land disputes. Human rights activists continue to campaign for the law to be completely repealed.

Our Proud Religious Legacy…

The current position of Pakistani Christians is a sharp departure from their subcontinental legacies. Karachi and Rawalpindi saw the first churches in Pakistan, when Christianity was introduced in the region by British rulers in the late eighteenth century. St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Karachi is considered to be Pakistan’s largest church and the only cathedral and is the most prominent Christian landmark of the country. Most Christians who came to Pakistan were resident officers of the British Army and of the Indian government.

During the development of Karachi’s infrastructure, a large Catholic Goan Community was established by the British and the Irish before World War II. The Christians in Sindh and Punjab, particularly, had been active in pre-independence days in their support for Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League. Encouraged by the Quaid’s promise of complete equality of citizenship, they rendered their services as journalists and propagandists to the freedom movement.

In fact, the Christians did their best to contribute in a positive way to the society at large. For that reason, the cross in Pakistan has been mainly associated with education, Law, healthcare and philanthropy sectors. A large portion of Pakistan’s elite owe their success to a solid educational grounding at St. Patrick’s High Schools (Boys & Girls) and Technical College, St. Paul’s High School, St. Peter’s High School, St. Lawrence’s Boys School, Trinity Methodist Girls Higher School & College, Jesus & Mary’s Convent School, St. Joseph’s Convent School and College in Karachi and the Forman Christian College and St. Anthony’s High School in Lahore. Similarly, the Holy Family Hospital, Lady Dufferin’s Hospital, Darul-Sukoon (Mentally Retarded children), Ibtidah Gah (Drug Addicts Center), and the Marie Adelaide’s Leprosy Centre in Karachi, Marie Stopes Society and the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar were founded at a time when few healthcare facilities ever existed in Pakistan. All Christian institutions across the country portray a strong sense of nation building by rendering their invaluable services to the peoples and making of Pakistan, irrespective of caste, creed, and colour!!!

Being both a Christian and a Pakistani

In the context of the current unrest within Pakistan, as Islamic fundamentalism has flourished beyond proportions, Pakistani Christians find themselves in the midst of grave situations. The increasing frequency and brutalities of religious riots anger them verily. Yet, they remain optimistic about the future, which they hope will make things better. That hope is inspired by the very symbol that is attacked by Islamists in Pakistan, the cross, a symbol of strength, perseverance and endurance for the Christians and to all here.

“One day we hope to see a Pakistan, which will not differentiate between caste and creed, as was promised by the Quaid,” says Jennifer Marshall, an ESL trainer in Karachi. “We are hopeful because the cross symbolizes salvation for us”.

Meanwhile, the constant and firm demands for repealing the blasphemy law prove that Pakistani Christians are adamant to fight and keep their sacred symbol, the Cross, viable and visible in their country!

A Nuclear Power Is About to Fall to Islamists

A Nuclear Power Is About to Fall to Islamists

 

The Trumpet; Pakistan is turning into the Iranian Revolution—plus nuclear weapons. Like Iran in 1979, Islamist radicals are taking a weakly governed country by the throat and preparing to shape it according to their twisted spiritual vision.

The immediate danger is heightened exponentially by Pakistan being one of the world’s eight nuclear powers, possessing between 60 and 100 nukes, scattered throughout the country. Amid escalating chaos, some of those bombs are sure to slip into extremist Muslim hands.

Though the United States and others talk about preventing this scenario, they simply aren’t willing to take measures forceful enough. Signs are, in fact, that the Obama administration is beginning to realize this is a losing cause.

Brace yourself for the consequences. This situation threatens to change the world.

The Pakistani government certainly lacks the will to stop it from happening. It is plagued by infighting and conflicting loyalties. In fact, it has a history of supporting and exploiting Islamic militancy for its own purposes. Its military and intelligence services, besides being increasingly rife with individuals sympathetic to the Islamists, have, according to Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., always had “a strategic commitment to jihadi ideology”—particularly in order to mobilize Pakistanis as a hedge against arch-rival India.

Hopes of Pakistan policing its own extremists are quickly being smothered by reality. Having already taken over the border region with Afghanistan, the Pakistani Taliban are now violently expanding their control inward toward Pakistan’s heartland. After two years of fighting in the Swat Valley region, the outgunned government found it had little choice but to concede the area, forming a peace agreement with the Taliban in February. The Taliban promised to end the insurgency at the time—but that quickly proved a sham. Within a week of Islamabad putting its stamp of approval on the deal last month, the Taliban broke its promise and sent its army into Buner, a strategic area just 60 miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. It recruited local madrassa graduates to establish a new government there and began implementing its signature cruel sharia law system.

Pakistan’s army reacted by issuing a threat. The Taliban responded by announcing that it would soon sack Islamabad. “If a man or woman is working with the government, or they are supporters of the government or of the foreigners, we want to kill them,” the Globe and Mail quoted one Taliban organizer as saying. “And we want to dissolve the government.”

The Taliban’s ambitions and confidence are clearly growing along with the territory it governs.

The movement is gaining momentum among the populace. First it is tapping into the rich supply of young men who received free Islamic education at one of Pakistan’s 12,500 madrassas—men who view the Taliban as God’s army.

Second, it is intimidating others who are coming to recognize that the government can’t stop it. Since the insurgency is taking over, people don’t want to be seen as resisting it. The Taliban is notoriously brutal to its detractors. In this scenario, terrorism is a devastatingly effective tactic. When Islamists strike civilian targets, the people’s confidence in the government and in coalition forces drops.

Pakistan’s government launched an offensive in Buner that still continues. Observers expect it to dissolve into more deal-making soon. Critics contend—not without evidence—that Pakistan’s military strikes against the Taliban are meant more to preserve the flow of aid from America than to attain victory.

Thus, any hope for the situation to stabilize must come from outside. It’s not happening.

The Obama administration recently unveiled a new joint Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy. The plan was misguided from the beginning: It seeks to solve Pakistan’s problems by throwing money at them—funding the nation’s hobbled economy and boosting its compromised military. But now to make matters worse, it is also out of date. The insurgency is expanding far faster than America’s planners are keeping up with.

President Obama would really like to bring Afghanistan under control. He’s about to send thousands more American troops to tamp down the uprising there. But they face long odds. With neighboring Pakistan descending into anarchy—providing safe haven to Afghanistan’s Taliban and endangering coalition supply lines—it turns an unmanageable war into an impossible one.

“The Obama administration is clearly alarmed about the developments in Pakistan, but also is beginning to understand its limits in the region,” wrote Stratfor yesterday. “Insurgencies have long lives, and this is a region that has seen countless occupiers. Most of the militants that U.S., nato, Pakistani and Afghan forces are battling today have the motivation and patience to fight to the end.”

That is not the case with the U.S., and the Islamists know it. As America plans a troop surge into Afghanistan, the Taliban are planning a bloody response. They are eager to send a hard message to the new American president, and to test his reputation for weakness. In the months ahead, expect ugly.

Another comparison with Iran in 1979 bears mentioning: America’s responsibility—not this president, but his predecessor. In 2007, U.S. officials inexplicably drove Pakistan’s military leader Pervez Musharraf from power, opening an enormous power void that radicals rushed to fill. Our own editor in chief warned this is just what would happen at the time. “American leaders are telling Musharraf to take off his military uniform and give real freedom to that country. However, the military is the only institution that gives stability to that extremely divided country! This is another example of how little our leaders know about Pakistan,” Gerald Flurry wrote. “America’s problem is even worse than a weak will. We even help push our allies into the hands of radical Islam. That is a dangerous kind of ignorance.

Watch Video: Gerald Flurry speaks to an audience in Washington, D.C., in early 2008 comparing the situation in Pakistan with the Iranian Revolution. “We helped get rid of Iran’s ‘corrupt’ shah in 1979. He was replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini, who began state-sponsored terrorism in the Middle East. Are we about to see another ayatollah rise to power? This time in nuclear Pakistan? And will America be mostly to blame?” (Read the whole article here. Also, watch the video at right to see some comments Mr. Flurry made at the time on the subject.)

These questions ring loudly today. We’re hearing a lot of official assurances not to worry. Last week President Obama said he was “confident that the nuclear arsenal will remain out of militant hands.” Considering Pakistan’s rickety government and the Taliban’s shocking gains, this is impossible to guarantee.

And these assurances are being drowned out by the chorus of intelligence, defense and diplomatic voices saying the devil has already slipped his leash.

Watch Islamabad. A coup is probable. Nuclear weapons escaping the government’s control is virtually assured. Where they go from there is the stuff of nightmares.

Facing up to that old ‘ally’ Islamabad

Facing up to that old ‘ally’ Islamabad

Christopher Hitchens | September 18, 2008

AN excellent article by Fraser Nelson in London’s Spectator in July put it as succinctly as I have seen it: “At a recent dinner party in the British embassy in Kabul, one of the guests referred to ‘the Afghan-Pakistan war’. The rest of the table fell silent. This is the truth that dare not speak its name.

“Even mentioning it in private in the Afghan capital’s green zone is enough to solicit murmurs of disapproval. Few want to accept that the war is widening; that it now involves Pakistan, a country with an unstable government and nuclear weapons.”

“Don’t mention the war,” as Basil insists with mounting hysteria in Fawlty Towers. When discussing the deepening crisis in Afghanistan, most people seem deliberately to avoid telling phrases such as Pakistani aggression or – more accurate still – Pakistani colonialism.

The truth is that the Taliban and their al-Qa’ida guests were originally imposed on Afghanistan from without as a projection of Pakistani state power. (Along with Pakistan, only Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates recognised the Taliban as the legal government in Kabul.)

Important circles in Pakistan have never given up the aspiration to run Afghanistan as a client or dependent or proxy state, and this colonial mindset is especially entrenched among senior army officers and in the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

We were all warned of this many years ago. When the Clinton administration sent cruise missiles into Afghanistan in reprisal for the attacks on US embassies in East Africa, the missiles missed Osama bin Laden but did manage, if you remember, to kill two officers of the ISI. It wasn’t asked loudly enough: What were these men doing in an al-Qa’ida camp in the first place?

In those years, as in earlier ones, almost no tough questions were asked of Pakistan.

Successive US administrations used to keep certifying to Congress that Pakistan was not exploiting US aid (and US indulgence over the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan) to build itself a nuclear weapons capacity.

Indeed, it wasn’t until after September 11, 2001, that we allowed ourselves to learn that at least two of Pakistan’s top nuclear scientists – Mirza Yusuf Baig and Chaudhry Abdul Majid – had been taken in for questioning about their close links to the Taliban.

But then, in those days we were too incurious to take note that Pakistan’s chief nuclear operative, A.Q. Khan, had opened a private enterprise “nukes ‘r’ us” market and was selling his apocalyptic wares to regimes as disparate as those in Libya and North Korea, sometimes using Pakistani air force planes to make thedeliveries.

The very name Pakistan inscribes the nature of the problem.

It is not a real country or nation but an acronym devised in the 1930s by a Muslim propagandist for partition named Choudhry Rahmat Ali. It stands for Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir and Indus-Sind. The -stan suffix merely means land.

In the Urdu language, the resulting acronym means land of the pure.

It can be easily seen that this name expresses expansionist tendencies and also conceals discriminatory ones. Kashmir, for example, is part of India. The Afghans are Muslim but not part of Pakistan. Most of Punjab is also in India.

Interestingly, too, there is no B in this cobbled-together name, although the country originally included the eastern part of Bengal (now Bangladesh, after fighting a war of independence against genocidal Pakistani repression) and still includes Baluchistan, a restive and neglected province that has been fighting a low-level secessionist struggle for decades.

The P comes first only because Pakistan is essentially the property of the Punjabi military caste (which, for example, hated Benazir Bhutto because she came from Sind).

As I once wrote, the country’s name “might as easily be rendered as Akpistan or Kapistan, depending onwhether the battle to take overAfghanistan or Kashmir is to the fore”.

I could have phrased that a bit more tightly, since the original Pakistani motive for annexing and controlling Afghanistan is precisely the acquisition of strategic depth for its never-ending confrontation with India over Kashmir.

And that dispute became latently thermonuclear while we simply looked on.

One of the most creditable (and neglected) foreign policy shifts of the Bush administration after September11 was away from our dangerous regional dependence on the untrustworthy and ramshackle Pakistan and towards a much more generous rapprochement with India, the world’s other great federal, democratic and multi-ethnic state.

Recent accounts of murderous violence in main cities of two of our allies, India and Afghanistan, make it appear overwhelmingly probable that the bombs were not the work of local or home-grown insurgents but were orchestrated by agents of the Pakistani ISI. This is a fantastically unacceptable state of affairs that needs to be given its right name: state-sponsored terrorism.

Meanwhile, and on Pakistani soil and under the noses of its army and the ISI, the city of Quetta and the so-called Federally Administered Tribal Areas are becoming the incubating ground of a reorganised and protected al-Qa’ida.

Barack Obama has been, if anything, the more militant of the two US presidential candidates in stressing the danger here and the need to act without too much sentiment about our so-called Islamabad ally. He began using this rhetoric when it was much simpler to counterpose the so-called good war in Afghanistan with the bad one in Iraq.

Never mind that now; he is committed in advance to a serious projection of American power into the heartland of our deadliest enemy.

And that, I think, is another reason so many people are reluctant to employ truthful descriptions for the emerging Afghanistan-Pakistan confrontation: American liberals can’t quite face the fact that if their man does win in November, and if he has meant a single serious word he has said, it means more war, and more bitter and protracted war at that, notless.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and online magazine Slate.