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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tribe aims to smash Pakistan

Tribe aims to smash Pakistan,00.html

Article from: The Australian
THE man who aims to one day reshape Pakistan and lead his fellow Pashtun tribesmen into a Greater Afghanistan came tantalisingly close to forsaking his troubled nation for Australia.

Pediatric surgeon Said Alam Mehsud in 1993 received an offer he felt was too good to refuse from a Melbourne hospital. He was all poised to pack up his life and move but for the violent objections of his family.

"It is something I still regret," he tells The Weekend Australian in his bare office in a dilapidated building in Peshawar's former artists' colony.

It is entirely possible that Pakistan may one day too come to regret his decision. The fiery doctor now leads the Pashtun Awareness Movement, a nationalist group whose ultimate goal is to extinguish the Durand Line dividing Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He advocates the creation of a Pashtunistan that stretches from Afghanistan, through Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas and North West Frontier Province to the Margalla Hills above Islamabad and south through Baluchistan.

The Peshawar-based group, which Mehsud says takes in all levels of Pashtun society, relaunched after a five-year hiatus on to Pakistan's political scene two months ago. It staged a risky public rally through the streets of the North West Frontier Province capital to protest the imposition of terrorism on the Pashtun people and the exploitation of their natural resources by Pakistan's "Punjabi hegemony".

The concepts are far from new. Pashtun nationalism has been an enduring theme throughout Pakistan's troubled 62-year history. But the timing of the latest push is crucial.

A weak central government, a military struggling with wars on several fronts and a terrorised and demoralised, 35 million-strong Pashtun population add up to a potentially nation-splitting conflagration.

The push for a Pashtun nation is rooted in regional history. It was the Pashtun who founded Afghanistan and ruled over a large area of what is now Pakistan until their defeat by the British in 1847. The British then imposed the Durand Line but could only maintain peace with the Pashtun by granting them autonomous status in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

That status was respected by successive Pakistan governments until 2002 when former US president George W.Bush pressured Pakistan into sending its army into FATA in pursuit of al-Qa'ida militants suspected of launching the September 11 attacks.

Since then the FATA region has become a global powerbase for al-Qa'ida and the Taliban.

But analysts say it was Pakistan's fear of Pashtunistan, and Afghanistan's role in the nationalist movement, that led it to support jihadists fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, and eventually the creation of the Taliban.

Mehsud insists the Taliban, despite being drawn almost entirely from Pashtun ranks, is the arch-enemy of his people and says defeating terrorism is his movement's primary aim, above any push for secession or autonomy.

He blames the Islamic extremism of the Taliban, and the Pakistan Inter Service Intelligence Agency he says is their master, for the destruction of Pashtun culture as it once existed: its language, romance poetry and songs .

"We're a hostage nation begging for our lives and our security. If we are able to convey to the world the actual feelings of this (Pashtun) nation we can defeat terrorism."

Rustom Mohmand, a former NWFP chief secretary turned analyst, agrees the Pashtun are at an historical low point -- squeezed by militants, the state and by its US and NATO allies.

"It's the Pashtun that are getting hurt, whose lands and villages are being destroyed, who have been persecuted, jailed and tortured," he says.

But, he adds, the "lofty" concept of Pashtunistan is no longer supported by the masses. "The Pashtun want a life of dignity, job opportunities, peace and access to justice."

Others, however, do not agree.

In a recent analysis of ethnic tensions in Pakistan, Selig Harrison, a regional expert with the Centre for International Policy, called for the US administration to help the Pashtun realise their wish for a united, autonomous province. He argued the current US policy of missile strikes in FATA only strengthened the militants' hand and recruitment effort by "arousing a Pashtun sense of victimisation".

"The US should support Pashtun demands to merge the NWFP and FATA, followed by the consolidation of those areas and Pashtun enclaves in Baluchistan and the Punjab into a single unified 'Pashtunkhwa' province that enjoys the autonomy envisaged in the inoperative 1973 Pakistan constitution," Harrison wrote in May.

Mehsud cites Harrison in defence of his own position.

He denies he is extremist and says rather that a set of extreme circumstances -- including the terrorism and fear now gripping Pashtun people and forcing mass displacement from their tribal lands -- has led to the new nationalist push.

"We will not split Pakistan if they agree with us on our autonomy," he says ominously. "If they don't, we may die but they can't keep this country for ever."

Monday, August 03, 2009

In The Memory of Abbas Khan

In The Memory of Abbas Khan

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In The Memory of Abbas Khan

In The Memory of Abbas Khan

"This website is dedicated to the memory of Abbas Ahmad Khan shaheed. The brutal murder of Abbas Khan, his father Iqbal Ahmad Khan and elder brother Jamil Ahmad Khan symbolizes the brutality, viciousness and cruelty with which Taliban have carried out their campaign of pushing Swat to the dark ages. Taliban have brutalized the whole Swat, have systematically destroyed signs of progress like schools , bridges and roads and killed any voice of reason or sign of hope and future for Swat. People's representatives have been their prime target.

Follow up:

Abbas Khan, nephew of MPA Waqar Khan, was one such hope of Swat and an icon of the bright future of Swati youth . He was a final year Engineering student at University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar. He was an intelligent student, loving son and devoted muslim. At the tender age of 22, he had already grown beard following the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and would call Azan whenever he was in his village Shahderai.

Early in the morning on 26th of August, just after midnight, a large group of Taliban, numbering 200-250 attacked the house of Iqbal Khan, killed him, his two sons and 5 servants, and then set his house on fire. After that they destroyed their hujra. While the Taliban were attacking their house, the Khans contacted security forces , based within 200 meters of their house and hujra , to no avail. This saga of murder and destruction continued for more than 2 hours but the hundreds of security personnel did not do anything to save those innocent lives.

Was it a slip of tongue or deliberate that a few days after the brutal murder of Abbas Khan, a friend was sitting with an officer of the security forces in Shahderai and during regular chatter-chatt this topic came up. The officer told my friend that the security forces had warned Iqbal Khan and his family 3 days before this tragedy and advised them to leave Swat.

The question is, "was it connivance, collusion or collaboration between the security forces and taliban? " Otherwise how did the officer of the security forces knew that beforehand ?

Abbas Khan's soul is asking all the Swatians and friends of Swat to expose the nefarious designs of all enemies of Swat whether they are in the garb of religious extremists, foreign agents or instruments of the domestic agencies?..."

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Where the Mullahs Are the Upper Crust

THE turmoil in the Swat Valley has raised a chilling prospect for Pakistan — that the Taliban’s Islamic takeover in the once-peaceful area was turning into a social revolution, with mullahs leading peasants in the seizure of property from rich landlords who had fled in fear of their lives.
The most worrisome question has been whether the revolution would spread from Swat to the much more populous and strategic province next door, Punjab.
In the logic of revolutions, one might expect it to. This is, after all, a country where more than half the population lives in desperate poverty in the countryside, and the rich live in walled estates, blissfully untouched by ordinary peoples’ problems.