February 25, 2009

Pakistan Government Must Resolve Hundreds of Baluch "Disappearances," Says Amnesty International

WASHINGTON - February 25 - The Pakistani government must immediately act on its commitment to trace hundreds of Baluch victims of enforced disappearances, Amnesty International said today.
The human rights organization also calls on the United Nations to raise the issue of enforced disappearances in Pakistan at the 10th session of the Human Rights Council (Geneva, March 2-27, 2009) to follow up on Pakistan's previous pledges to begin to resolve the issue.
Despite several pledges to resolve the country's crisis of "disappearances," Pakistan's new civilian government has not yet provided information about hundreds of cases of people believed to be held secretly by the government as part of the so-called war on terror, or in response to internal opposition, for instance in Baluchistan.
The Chief Minister of Baluchistan pledged in April 2008 that resolving the cases of Baluch disappearances would be a priority. In May 2008, Senator Babar Awan, the Secretary of the ruling Pakistan People's Party Reconciliatory Committee on Baluchistan, announced the creation of a committee headed by Nawabzada Haji Lashkri to trace "disappeared" persons of Baluchistan as part of its efforts to address Baluch grievances.
To date the government has not revealed the findings of its investigations or any actions it has taken to resolve the Baluch enforced disappearance cases.
According to press reports, on February 14, Interior Ministry Adviser Rehman Malik stated that the Baluchistan Chief Minister had given the government an "incomplete list of 800 ‘missing' people," of which 200 names on the list had been verified.
A hitherto unknown separatist group, the Baluchistan Liberation United Front (BLUF), on February 2, kidnapped John Solecki, head of the office of the U.N. High Commissioner of Refugees in Quetta.
The BLUF (not to be confused with the long established Baluchistan Liberation Front) claims that 6,000 Baluch activists have gone "missing." The BLUF also claims that 141 Baluch women are among the "disappeared." The group demanded their release in exchange for Solecki's return. The Pakistani government has denied the allegations.
Amnesty International condemns the kidnapping of John Solecki and calls for his immediate and unconditional release and points out that hostage-taking is a crime under international law.
Acts of enforced disappearance violate several provisions of Pakistan's Constitution, including freedom from arbitrary detention, the right to judicial overview of detentions and to human dignity and the prohibition of torture, as well as constituting criminal offences.
Pakistan has still not acted on its promise made in May 2008 that it would accede to International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
At the meeting of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of the U.N. Human Rights Council (UPR), on May 8, 2008, Pakistan's representatives declared that its security forces trained in international humanitarian law and were fully accountable. In a written statement in response to the UPR, the permanent representative "vowed to investigate" disappearances.
On several occasions, Amnesty International has called the government to account on this issue. In 2008, the organization used official court records and affidavits of victims and witnesses of enforced disappearances to show how government officials, especially from the country's security and intelligences agencies, were resorting to a variety of tactics to conceal enforced disappearance. These include: denying detention takes place and denying all knowledge of the fate and whereabouts of "disappeared" persons; refusing to obey judicial orders; concealing the identity of the detaining authorities, for example by transferring the "disappeared" to other secret locations, threatening harm or re-disappearance and leveling spurious criminal charges to conceal enforced disappearances
Amnesty International urges the Pakistani government to immediately resolve all acts of enforced disappearance; to ensure the immediate release of all persons held in secret detention unless they are transferred to official places of detention, charged with a recognizably criminal offence and remanded by an independent court; and to bring to justice officials found responsible. Victims, including families of those "disappeared," should be granted reparations in accordance with international standards.

Baluchistan has a history of insurgency with local groups advocating greater autonomy. Four waves of violent unrest took place in 1948, 1958-59, 1962-63 and 1973-77. In early 2005, tensions in Baluchistan again increased, with numerous clashes reported between security forces and Baluch tribesman. Local people in Baluchistan are demanding a bigger share of the revenue generated by the province's natural resources, principally natural gas, which they believe now benefit other provinces. A number of Baluchi groups are seeking more rights for the province. Some of these groups have resorted to violence, while others are campaigning peacefully. The Pakistani national government has attempted to suppress this opposition by increasing the military presence in the region. Many people have died at the hands of the security forces in extrajudicial executions and deaths in custody, and thousands of people are reported to have "disappeared." The confrontation between Baluch nationalists and the state is characterized by human rights abuses committed by all sides.

February 22, 2009

Manish Tiwari accentuates Rahul Gandhi’s ignorance


Indian media project Rahul Vinci (yes. that is what his italian passport says not rahul gandhi) as a potential leader of India.

You can read here the truth and facts about Rahul Vinci from the inimitable Dr. Subramanyam Swamy

Rahul Gandhi’s spin meisters in the Congress are clearly losing it in.
If last weekend they tried to spin away Rahul Gandhi’s ignorance as innocence, his middle age notwithstanding, this weekend they just accentuated why Rahul Gandhi is the Congress’ achilees heel.
Trying to match word for word with Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP leader Narendra Modi, Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari made a fool of himself with this retort (for those disputing the transcript here is the video)

Congress national spokesperson Manish Tiwari hitting out after Modi’s jab at Rahul said, “It’s true that Narendra Modi is from ocean but he is a ‘piranha‘

Manish Tiwari’s smart-ass retort would have carried its zing but for a simple problem - the piranha are fresh water fish and not ocean fish. The fishmarket verbal brawl is the least of the Congress’ problem.

The bigger problem for the Congress is that for someone who claims to have studied “Development Economics”, Rahul Gandhi with his juvenile rhetoric on “Corporate Culture” seems to match Mayawati’s intellect.

One is yet to hear anything intellectually substantial from Rahul Gandhi and his inability to get even basic facts right in his election affidavit raise serious questions on his competence and sense of responsibility.

Will Mr. Manish Tiwari explain if part of the grooming in Congress Culture of Young Leaders necessarily entails misstating facts in Election Affidavits ?

A lot of hot air has been passed by the geriatric ward of the Congress Party to float the Rahul Gandhi Trial Balloon. Much to their chagrin the balloon was prematurely deflated by Sonia Gandhi. But that did not stop Congress General Secretary and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh from claiming Rahul Gandhi was competent to be Prime Minister.
So how competent really is Rahul Gandhi???
To answer this question Offstumped has obtained documentary evidence of Rahul Gandhi?s academic performance at the University of Cambridge.
First some background. Back in 2004 during the Lok Sabha elections a controversy errupted on Rahul Gandhi?s academic credentials. At that Rediff.com and The Telegraph carried stories to reveal that when Rahul Gandhi had attended the University of Cambridge between the years of 1994-1995 for a M-Phil program under the alias Raul Vinci.
However neither Rediff.com nor Telegraph actually verified if the academic qualifications claimed in the Election Affidavit filed by Rahul Gandhi in his nomination for the Amethi Lok Sabha Constituency were in fact consistent with his academic activities in Cambridge.
First what exactly did Rahul Gandhi claim in his election affidavit ?
Rahul Gandhi?s election affidavit can be found here. Page 4 lists his educational qualifications. Here is what Page 4 has to say about his term at University of Cambridge.
M-Phil [Development Economics], Trinity College, Cambridge University in 1995
Offstumped obtained 3 official copies (2 physical and 1 electronic) of Raul Vinci a.k.a Rahul Gandhi?s Transcripts from Cambridge University and it is clear that his election affidavit mis-represents facts.
Misrepresentation #1 - The official copy of Raul Vinci?s transcript states that he read for an MPhil in ?Development Studies? and not in ?Development Economcis?.
Why is this significant ?
It is significant because these are two different programs. MPhil in Development Studies is administered by the Development Studies Committee at Cambridge. There is no MPhil in Development Economics at Cambridge.? There is a MPhil in Economics In fact Offstumped confirmed with the Faculty of Economics at Cambridge University that Raul Vinci?s MPhil was not administered by that department.
Now this is no small error. One normally doesnt forget what one?s graduation is in be it a BA in Political Science or a B.Tech in Chemical Engineering.
So is it carelessness, amnesia or a freudian slip that Rahul Gandhi was so casual about providing the details of what exactly his MPhil was at Cambridge ?
Or perhaps it was a freudian slip which leads us to
Misrepresentation #2 - All 3 official copies of his transcript (2 physical and?1 electronic) state that his MPhil was during the years 2004-2005.
This inconsistency between the transcript and the election affidavit may or may not be significant. It was unclear from enquiries conducted by Offstumped if?Raul Vinci?s MPhil was not completed in 1995 and if as stated in the transcript?he? went on to complete it in 2004-2005 in the wake of the controversy that errupted during the Lok Sabha election.
Its a mystery that can only be cleared up by Raul Vinci a.k.a. Rahul Gandhi and the University of Cambridge.

But here is the rub on the question of competency. The transcript details Raul Vinci?s academic performance which raises pertinent questions on his fitness to be a candidate for the office of Prime Minister.
The MPhil Development Studies program requires 4 full papers to be completed and it lists 60% as a pass, 65% as eligible for an entry to PhD and 75% as a Distinction.
Raul Vinci a.k.a Rahul Gandhi while not earning any distinctions in any of the 4 papers barely managed an overall pass percentage of 62.8%.

But the real shocker is in the Paper on ?National Economic Planning & Policy? he scored 58% which is not even considered a Pass.

So before another incompetent Nehru-Gandhi is foisted on an unsuspecting nation here is Offstumped?s poser to the Geriatric Ward in the Congress Party which has been tom-tomming Rahul Gandhi?s so called competence.

Is Rahul Gandhi so careless or ignorant of what exactly he studied that he could not even remember to accurately state his MPhil Program in his Election Affidavit ?
What respect does Rahul Gandhi have for the electoral laws of the land if he could not demonstrate the basic responsibility of ensuring that the facts in his election affidavit were accurate ?

What real competence does Rahul Gandhi have to show by way of his readiness to be a candidate for Prime Minister when his academic performance on a crucial subject like National Economic Planning did not even make it to the Pass Grade ?

If a distinguished Economist in Manmohan Singh could not demonstrate the political leadership to steward the Indian Economy, why should India settle for an underperformer who?s only claim to high office so far are chromosomes ?

Postscript: Offstumped is not making the copies of the transcript public at this time but would be open to providing them in private to the Election Commission if it wishes to examine the issue of misrepresentation of facts in the Election Affidavit.

Unrestricted Warfare Symposium : "Imperatives for Interagency Action"

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) and Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) sponsor the fourth annual Unrestricted Warfare Symposium (URW) at APL’s Kossiakoff Center. This year, the theme is "Imperatives for Interagency Action" and will identify integrated strategy, analysis, and technology options that enhance interagency capabilities to respond to four potential unrestricted lines of attack—cyber, resource, economic/financial, and terrorist threats. The keynote address, featured speakers with unique expertise, and roundtable panelists addressing integrated strategies are designed to further develop understanding and solutions. The themed keynote address, featured speakers with unique expertise, and roundtable panelists addressing integrated strategies are designed to further develop understanding and solutions.


There are no rules; nothing is forbidden. We encounter a national security threat different from the conventional warfare for which we have become preeminent in the world. Adversaries employing unrestricted warfare use many modalities to create integrated attacks exploiting diverse areas of vulnerability in support of their grand strategy. Unrestricted warfare battlefields reach beyond the physical domain to include culture, information networks, economics and finance, natural resources and energy. This 2009 URW Symposium will focus on Imperatives for Interagency Actions to characterize potential lines of attack representing threats that pose significant impact to national security, and demand an integrated interagency response.

"This is another type of war, new in its intensity, ancient in its origins—war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins; war by ambush instead of by combat; by infiltration, instead of aggression, seeking victory by eroding and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him…. It requires in those situations where we must counter it… a whole new kind of strategy, a wholly different kind of force, and therefore a new and wholly different kind of military training."
John F. Kennedy
USMA Graduation Speech, 1962

APL Kossiakoff Center, Site for URW 2009 The keynote address, featured speakers with unique expertise, and roundtable panelists addressing integrated strategies are designed to further develop understanding and solutions.

Perspectives from senior government leaders in response to attendees’ questions are combined to provide a uniquely synergistic approach to the challenge and an enduring body of knowledge. The symposium also features interactive audience participation using electronic groupware.

We will assess what leading strategists, analysts, and technologists should consider viable future force capabilities when combating unrestrictive warfare threats. Active attendee participation and networking will form a new, integrated community dedicated to countering our increasingly sophisticated adversaries. http://www.jhuapl.edu/urw_symposium/

INDIA : 100-day anti-terror plan gets green signal

Indian Express , India
Maneesh Chhibber
Posted: Feb 23, 2009 at 0323 hrs IST

New Delhi: A 100-DAY plan to make the country a safer place is ready and sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) say P Chidambaram has already ordered its implementation. The go-ahead was given at a high-level meeting chaired by him on Friday.

The plan was one of the first things that Chidambaram told bureaucrats to work upon after assuming charge as Home Minister of the country, after the Mumbai Terror attacks. His lead probably came from the speech of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a conference of state police chiefs recently, in which he suggested a 100-day plan to develop an integrated mechanism to fight terrorism and Naxalism.

The Indian Express was provided exclusive access to the blueprint of what is the biggest-ever exercise undertaken by the MHA to counter terrorism and give more firepower to the forces and other agencies.

Among other things, the plan aims to secure the country’s porous borders, make the state and central police forces better equipped to counter foreign terrorists and Naxalites, construct more roads along the India-China and India-Pakistan borders, develop more integrated border check-posts and immigration checks posts, fully activate the newly set-up National Investigation Agency by May 31, amend the Official Secrets Act, launch more operations in Naxalite-affected areas, operationalise the four new National Security Guard hubs and provide more personnel and better arms to the CRPF and SSB.

Under the plan, the scheme for flood-lights for 2,840 km of Indo-Bangladesh border would be completed by January 20, 2012. This, the ministry, hopes would help check inflow of illegal Bangladeshis.

The ministry is also seeking the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for constructing 509 border outposts — 383 on the Indo-Bangladesh border and 126 on the Indo-Pakistan border.

To secure the coasts, the MHA plan provides for inducting the first batch of 24 interceptor boats by April. These would include 12 boats each of 12 tonne and five tonne capacity. Sources said the ministry had already started working on updating the standard operating procedure (SOP) for terrorist outrage under its crisis management plan. As part of this revamp, it also intends to upgrade the MHA control room.

To counter Naxalism, the ministry is reviewing its guidelines for incentives for surrender and rehabilitation of Naxalites under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme. It has also decided to include the Khunti and Ramgarh districts of Jharkhand in this scheme. Anti-Naxal operations have already been launched in Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) and Kanker (Chhattisgarh).

John Solecki Kidnapping : Pak ISI hand to discredit the Baloch movement in the West

I have doubts that the Baloch are holding Mr. Solecki, but I suppose anything is possible.. the situation now is chaotic. However, no one has heard of this group, and the Baloch have not been known to target any innocent people. Moreover Solecki's UN agency pushed for getting UN relief supplies to Baloch refugees, who are mostly old men, women and children displaced by maruding Pakistani troops and bombardment of villages . So, the chances are great that some group tied to the agencies may be using this to try to discredit the Baloch movement in the West, particularly after the bad news of acquital of Marri in the UK.

The Pakistanis will not acknowledge their war crimes or care for anyone's life (may be if they were Chinese officials, but a UN official?). Hopefully, he will be released soon, but the situation does not look good.

Gul Agha

Pakistan: Mother of captive American issues appeal
By ABDUL SATTAR – 12 hours ago

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — The mother of an American kidnapped in Pakistan pleaded for his freedom in a message released Saturday, describing her son as a "very gentle person" devoted to his humanitarian work.
In the family's first public appeal, Rose Solecki asked for help from the people of southwest Pakistan's Baluchistan province, where her son John was taken captive Feb. 2.
John Solecki was serving as the head of the U.N. refugee office in Quetta, and the U.N. is still trying to make contact with the kidnappers who have threatened to kill their captive.
The kidnapping has underlined the overall deteriorating security situation in nuclear-armed Pakistan, which is battling al-Qaida and Taliban-led militants in its northwest. In her message, Rose Solecki expressed bewilderment at her son's predicament.
"I simply do not understand why this is happening to our dear John," said Rose Solecki, 83. "I cannot begin to explain the sorrows and pain that I am going through right now. My husband and I are old. We want to be with John again. We cannot bear losing John."
The audio message was released through the United Nations along with a photo of Solecki and his parents.
The U.N. has said the matter is very urgent because Solecki has a medical condition. In a 20-second clip released by his kidnappers on Feb. 13, a blindfolded Solecki said he was "sick and in trouble."
Rose Solecki noted that she and her 91-year-old husband Ralph are both archaeologists and that she had lived in Baluchistan many years before. The couple visited their son in the provincial capital of Quetta last year, she said.
"This recent happy memory quickly turned into a nightmare," she said. "To our friends in Baluchistan, please help us find John and have him returned safely to his family, friends and colleagues. John has helped many people in Baluchistan, and now my son needs your help."
In the Feb. 13 message, Solecki's captors threatened to kill him within 72 hours, but later said they would extend the deadline for a "few days." It was unclear exactly when the new deadline would expire.
The kidnappers have identified themselves as the previously unknown Baluchistan Liberation United Front. The name indicates the group is more likely linked to separatists than to Islamists. The kidnappers have demanded the release of 141 women allegedly held in Pakistan, but Pakistani officials have said no such group of women are being held...


Gul Agha
Champaign, Illinois, USA

Taliban dispute govt claim of permanent truce in Swat

Islamabad (PTI): The Pakistani Taliban in the restive Swat Valley have contested the government's claim that they had agreed to "a permanent ceasefire" in the region, saying a decision in this regard would be taken by the 'shura' or council of militants.

"We have heard that the government has announced a permanent ceasefire but we have already announced a 10-day ceasefire and we will consider an extension when it ends," Maulana Fazlullah, the commander of the Taliban in Swat, said in a broadcast on his illegal FM station.

Syed Mohammad Javed, the commissioner for Malakand division which includes Swat, had said yesterday that the Taliban had agreed to a ceasefire. He also said both the security forces and Taliban would observe the truce.

The Taliban had unilaterally announced a 10-day ceasefire on February 15 to facilitate peace talks which began after the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammadi, a banned group of religious hardliners, reached an agreement with Pakistani authorities to enforce Islamic laws in Swat and Malakand.

Fazlullah said in his broadcast last night that the future of the truce would depend on the government's sincerity in implementing the "Nizam-e-Adl" regulations or Islamic laws.

"This is our constitutional right. We struggled and made sacrifices to achieve our constitutional right," he said. Javed had also announced that boys' schools would reopen on Monday though there was no word on whether girls' schools would resume classes.

Hundreds of schools were closed down in Swat after the Taliban objected to their curriculum and banned girls' education.

However, Javed did not say how the militants would be disarmed. There are also few details on the agreement reached by TNSM chief Sufi Mohammad and Fazlullah, who is his son-in-law, during their meeting on Friday.

Dawn newspaper quoted its source as saying that the Taliban had agreed not to brandish weapons and to dismantle check posts they had set up across Swat.

The source also said the Taliban wanted a general amnesty and that the government had "apparently agreed to this pre-condition to allow them to assimilate into the mainstream".

The government has also agreed to compensate the kin of those killed since a military operation was launched in Swat in late 2007. Compensation will also apply to the Taliban, who have furnished a list 2,000 militants killed in the operations.

Though the army and other security forces will remain in Swat, the government has reportedly agreed to remove "unnecessary check posts".

Pakistan has described as "speculative" the concerns expressed by the world community over the move to enforce Islamic laws in Swat.

Observers believe the measure will embolden militants in other parts of Pakistan to make similar demands.

Saudi-financed Sunnis Kill Shias in Divided Pakistan

Increase DecreaseFebruary 21, 2009 (LPAC)--Seven years of war on terror has brought about little change in Afghan society, but it has devastated Pakistan. A flash of how brutal this is going to be in the coming months was seen on Feb. 20 at Dera Ismail Khan, a town with some Shia population in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP), a stone's throw from Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province. A bomb blast at a funeral procession in Pakistan's troubled NWFP killed at least 25 people and injured 60 others. Following the attack, angry mobs began rioting, shops were ransacked, and buses were set on fire. The Pakistani military then imposed a two- to three-day curfew, and security forces were given orders to shoot on sight, said Pakistan's Geo News.

No matter how many experts from Washington visit Pakistan, or wax eloquent in dime-a-dozen seminars and workshops, Pakistan has been dealt a mortal blow during these seven years of insanity, projected to the American people as "war on terror" to secure the United States.

These seven years have fragmented the Pakistani people. Let me count the ways it has been divided. The Pakistani Army has been radicalized over a longer period of time. However, observers claim that the fundamentalists have control only over the lower and middle level of army officers. On the other hand, Pakistan's para-military and police are now pretty much in control of the fundamentalists.

The second division has occurred along ethnic lines. Punjabis and Pushtooons have become more active in the jihadi activities, while the Sindhis and Baloch have remained aloof.

The third categorization would be on the basis of religious orthodoxy--as between the Deobandis and the Barelvis and the Sufis and the non-Sufis. In this mix, the Deobandi leadership has been virtually taken over by the Saudis, since Deobandis have similar Islamic views to those of the Wahabis.

The fourth categorization would be on a sectarian basis--between the Sunnis and the Shias. The Sunnis constitute about 80 percent of Pakistan's total estimated population of 150 million. But there are districts, such as Gilgit and Baltistan in Northern Areas, Dera Ismail Khan and Hangu in NWFP, and Kurrum agency in the tribal areas where Shias have a strong presence.

The fifth and last categorization would be between tribals and non-tribals. The tribal areas near the Afghan border have traditionally been the most fundamentalist in their thinking and way of life. They have also been the most prone to the influence of Wahabism and the Taliban.

What the "war on terror" did, was to widen the fissure between these divisions so that they cannot be bridged again.