Spanish Pundit (II)

marzo 17, 2007

Pakistan update: demonstrations against Musharraf and AlQaeda’s sanctuary

Pakistan is ruled by Gen. Musharraf, a US-backed General, who is being hardly critisized by the international community (and the US) because of two facts: his lack of respect for Human Rights and for not fighting AL-Qaeda in his territory.

Last of Gen. Musharraf’s doings is related in Winds of about the case of ex-Chief Pakistani Judge Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. Facts show that the Judge had begun to take his role too seriously and could damage the intention of Gen. Musharraf not to give up Government this year as he had promissed. So Gen Musharraf has first, forced him to resign and, after, when the Judge refused, was held 5 hours in custody without allowing him to make phone calls. He was then placed under arrest, his case being submitted to the Chief Supreme Justice Council to hear it on March 13th. His charges have been secret. He has been finally suspended and violent protests are rising throughout Pakistan.

Riots in Pakistan

According to Telegraph,

Pakistani riot police today stormed the studios of a private television station in an effort to quell growing unrest over the dismissal of the country’s most senior judge.

Officers tear-gassed the channel’s employees after editors refused to stop broadcasting footage of demonstrations in support of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry, who was suspended on Friday.

Mr Chaudry, known for his independent stance, is accused of “misconduct and misuse of authority”, a vague charge that critics say was concocted by President Pervez Musharraf.

They claim he was sacked because he might oppose any attempt by Mr Musharraf to stay on as head of the army. He is meant to relinquish his military role this year.

Riot police targeted Geo News’ Islamabad office because a camera stationed on the roof was filming anti-government demonstrations taking place on the streets below.

More about this attack to the Press freedom in Global Voices Online.

So who is to blame for the attack? The 14 policemen who took part who have been suspended.

Pajamas Media reports that the Government cannot find a single lawyer to defend it in its case before Tribunals.

Telegraph adds Gen. Mussharraf is facing the most serious challenge to his rule. It reports:

Hundreds of lawyers gathered to protest outside the supreme court shouting “Go, Musharraf, go!” and “America has a dog in a uniform!”

Senior figures from Pakistan’s major opposition political parties joined the protests and thousands of supporters of an alliance of six Islamic parties clashed with anti-riot police after Friday prayers.

Mr Chaudhry, who is effectively under house arrest and who was roughed-up by police on his way to the court for the first hearing earlier this week, said: “They are absolutely useless allegations. I am not going to resign”.

Gen. Musharraf considers the demonstrations are “a call against the nation“.

The lawyers are fighting back with stones. Not very peaceful demonstration…

Of course, respect for Human rights and fighting Al-Qaeda are somewhat difficult in an overwhelming hard-stand Muslim country in which that there are ten thousand madrassas who are forming 2 million would-be martyrs a year (h/t to MNM and The Gathering storm):

In Pakistan, ten thousand madrassahs prepare two million martyrs a year. On top of that, 198,166 primary, middle and secondary schools are working hard at manufacturing 27 million closet martyrs. Walk into any classroom of any government-run school and ninety-five per cent of what’s on display is martyrs. What we have thus managed to create is an ideal ‘culture of death’; a whole society of death worshippers.

There are certain parts of Pakistan in which having a shade can be cause of death (h/t Stormwarning’s Counterterrorism):

The government is unable to protect us so we will abide by what the Taliban tells us to do and stop shaving beards,” said Niamat, a barber in Khar, the headquarters of the Bajaur tribal agency along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

And the Taliban mean business, On Sunday night, bombs destroyed two barber shops and three others suffered partial damage after the owners refused to follow the orders.

“I am a Muslim and I know that no one can force me to shave or not to shave. This should be my decision,” said Nasir, a regular customer, wearing a green turtleneck sweater and jeans. “But I was threatened. They asked if I will obey the new laws; I will obey because I am afraid.”

And the problem is that barbers are normally very poor people:

A shave costs less than 2 cents — but the Taliban edict forbidding barbers to shave or even trim beards will cause severe economic hardship, and put many of the 200 barbers in Bajaur out of business.

Barbers are poor people, they have no other business,” said Ikram, another regular customer. “If they can’t give shaves, they will not be able to feed their children.”

A group of barbers told NBC News that their business had declined by 70 percent since the Taliban issued the edict.

So, this makes rather difficult fight Al-Qaeda and its leader, Bin Laden, which is said to be now living in Waziristan, and helping Afghan Talibans to regain power. Pakistan denied on March 7th, 2007 any new activity about this new quest for Bin Laden and friends (h/t RT). But there was a report in which a much more active presence of CIA was pointed out especially in the North zone, where the Pakistani armed forces had left some months ago due to the much critisized peace-deal with the tribal leaders. From the ABC Blog “The Blotter”:

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell testified last week that current intelligence “to the best of our knowledge” puts both bin Laden and al Zawahri in Pakistan. It was the first time a high-ranking U.S. official publicly identified Pakistan as bin Laden’s hiding place.

In this context, Pakistan has menaced to stop anti-terror cooperation with US, if American military aid is made conditional on the country’s commitment to fight Al-Qaeda and, at the same time, 2 top Pakistan nuclear scientist are said to be in Taliban custody (h/t to Stormwarning Terrorism). We know that Taliban and Al-Qaeda are now allies to fight international forces in Afghanistan.

The visit of Cheney made that Pakistan detained Obaidullah, although the Pakistani Government rushed to say there was no connection. Some days later Afghanistan has detained also Sidi Akbar, who not only helped Al-Qaeda leader to escape, but also hosted him in the Eastern province of Aghanistan called Nuristan. His nationality? He is a Pakistani (h/t to RT). He is reportedly very close to Bin Laden and is believed to have “accompanied the Saudi terrorist leader from the Pakistani region of Chitral to the Afghan province of Nuristan. The report did not specify when the terrorist leader made this move but it is believed to have happened some months ago“.

But there is more. According to Crusade Media:

While al-Qaeda will continue to operate in Afghanistan and Iraq, it will broaden its global perspective to include Europe and hostile Muslim states, and is ready to resume the offensive. New fronts will soon be opened in several countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa, where al-Qaeda has its own command and control apparatus. The group’s alliance with the Taliban in Afghanistan, however, is under strain, as the latter have struck a deal with Pakistan over mutual cooperation, which is anathema to al-Qaeda.

Although al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has not made any recent public pronouncements, he is said to be active in al-Qaeda’s planning. [snip]

ASIA TIMES ONLINE’s contact said that al-Qaeda is so powerful in Saudi Arabia that the monarchy had no choice but to strike a deal. Similarly, it was al-Qaeda’s choice, he said, that it concentrate this year on Iraq. The intention is to consolidate in Iraq to the extent that al-Qaeda and the “coalition of the willing” have their respective and identified occupied areas from which to fight each other. The Saudi front is thus only deferred until al-Qaeda gains sufficient ground in Iraq. [snip]

Previously, Iran allowed al-Qaeda members to pass through its territory on the way to Iraq or other places. But in the wake of the sectarian troubles in Iraq, Tehran is somewhat hostile toward al-Qaeda. So it remains unclear whether Iran will facilitate al-Qaeda entering Iraq and destabilizing a Shi’ite government that is pro-American, but certainly also friendly with Iran.

[About Afghanistan, see my post here].


Los disturbios de Pakistán generados por el arresto del Presidente del Tribunal Supremo por el Gen Mussharraf, cuando éste ha considerado que el Juez podía oponerse a su intención de continuar al frente del Gobierno, aún después de la fecha en que se había comprometido a dejarlo. El Gen. ha dicho que las protestas son un ataque a la Nación.

Asimismo, la lucha contra Al-Qaeda no va muy bien en un país en el que parece ser que se encuentra Bin Laden, en la zona limítrofe con Afganistán lo que está dificultando la lucha en este país. La influencia de los Talibanes, que acompañan a Bin Laden, se ha hecho sentir, imponiendo entre otras leyes como la de que cortarse la barba puede significar la muerte. Esta amenaza ha hecho que los barberos estén prácticamente en la calle.

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