Blasts in Peshawar and Dir

April 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Mahvish Akhtar, MMNS Pakistan Correspondent

Three blasts only a few minutes apart jolted the city of Peshawar on Monday April 5th 2010. The attacks were aimed at the highly secure area of the American Consulate. Heavily armed militants in two vehicles tried to storm the US consulate. The attackers were also loaded with guns, grenades and suicide vests. Gun fires were heard and were reports said that the militants and the guards had a small gun battle as well.  Two guards employed by the US Consulate were killed in the attacks. Four attackers also died at the scene. Eight people died in this incident and 33 others were injured. Pakistani Taliban militants claimed responsibility for the attack saying that this is revenge for the drone attacks on the militants in Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. They also said that if things did not change more attacks of this nature will be seen on American targets in the near future.

Pakistani security officials said the assailants planned the attack methodically, using local scouts and safe houses, smuggling explosives into a dump site near the consulate and assembling the car bombs locally.

Intelligence agents suspect the bombers infiltrated Peshawar either west from the nearby Khyber tribal district, approximately 30 minutes drive from the US embassy, or northwest from the neighboring tribal district of Mohmand.

The North West Frontier Province police Chief Malik Naveed said, “It was a well planned attack. The militants collected their material dumped somewhere near their target area before launching the attack on the US consulate.”

While there was no comment from the American Embassy in Islamabad a senior police official told AFP hat American security officers were in Peshawar and also investigating this incident.

“We have traced the engine number and model of the cars used in the blasts and we have collected evidence and sent it to the relevant laboratories,” said Peshawar bomb disposal chief Shafqat Malik.

According to Mr. Naveed because of the resistance in the gun fight the attackers ended up blasting their vehicles 25 to 30 meters away from their original target. He also added that, “We did not let them enter the consulate building and that was the biggest achievement of the security forces.

About the current investigation Mr. Neveed remarked that, “We have set up three investigation teams and we are hopeful we will soon get some leads.”

Mr. Naveed continued to remark that attacks like these signify that the Taliban have regrouped to some extent and are banning together against American attacks. However, he also commented that new suicidal bombers are probably scarce for the Taliban and that might put a damper on their plans.

“They do not have the kind of facilities that they had in South Waziristan where they were training a large number of suicide bombers. Some of those bombers are still with them, but the new crop is not coming.”

“The Taliban may be giving a message to the Americans. If the Americans undertake action like in Marjah and plan to take action around Kandahar, therefore the Taliban can retaliate wherever it is possible,” he said.

Also on Monday April 5th 2010, ANP rally was hit by a suicide bomber. ANP’s Lower Dir president Haji Bahadar Khan was delivering his speech at the ‘Jashn-i-Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’ rally when the blast took place. Over 500 ANP leaders and activists were attending the celebration. In this incident around 47 people were killed and 37 were injured. The number is still indefinite since there could be bodies buried beneath the rubble.

Three day mourning period was announced for the events of Monday in Dir and Peshawar.

On Tuesday April 6, 2010, the Police killed 2 men including one suspected suicide bomber. Senior Police Officer Liaquat Ali said one of the militants was wearing a suicide jacket.


Community News (V11-I49)

November 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Pakistani American doctors urged to develop homeland

NEW YORK, NY–Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon Saturday urged medical doctors of Pakistani descent to make their full contribution to American economic and political life as well as play their part in the development of their motherland, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

Speaking at the annual dinner of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani descent of North America (APPNA), he lauded the services rendered by Pakistani-American doctors, and hoped that their fast-growing organization would emerge as a major force in the country.

The dinner, held in Uniondale on the Long Island, a New York suburb, was largely attended by APPNA members from all over the United States. Also present were U.S. Congressman Ed Town and Nassau County executive Tom Suozzi.

The newly-elected President of APPNA’s New York Chapter Dr. Asif  Rehman welcomed the guests and enumerated the association’s support- activities in Pakistan, especially during the 2005 devastating earthquake in northern Pakistan and in easing the suffering of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Swat.

In his remarks, Ambassador Haroon traced the development of U.S.-Pak relations from their inception, saying Pakistan had always given diplomatic, political and strategic support to the the United States without any quid pro quo.

He especially referred to the support provided by Pakistan following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But he regretted that Pakistan was forgotton when the Soviets were forced to pullout of Afghanistan.

“Still, we have remained good friends of the United States,” the ambassador added.

Lilburn mosque plan denied

GWINNETT, GA–The Lilburn City Council voted down a plan last Wednesday night that would have allowed for a major expansion of a local mosque.

The mosque is on Lawrenceville Highway at Hood Road.

Residents argued the development would go against zoning laws designed to protect neighborhoods.

“It doesn’t matter what it was going to be, it didn’t belong in that area. It wasn’t zoned for that,” said Ilene Stongin-Garry, who’s against the expansion.
Attorney for the mosque said denying the project is a violation of the congregation’s first amendment right.

“They want to expand as other churches, as other religious institutions have been able to expand in your community. To deny them this right in unlawful,” said Doug Dillard, the mosque’s attorney.

Dillard vows to fight on, he’s going to take the case to federal court.

Arabic classes in more high schools in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL–The Chicago public schools will expand its Arabic-language program to three more high schools, thanks to a three-year federal grant of 888,000 U.S. dollars announced earlier this month.   Already, Arabic is offered at three Chicago high schools and is also offered at seven Chicago elementary schools and about 2,000 students take Arabic in Chicago’s schools, according to official sources.

The new federal grant will fund the expansion to three additional high schools in Chicago that have yet to be identified, the sources said.

The expansion will be enhanced by the use of technology-based instruction using the safari-blackboard virtual technology that will allow a teacher at one school to simultaneously offer a virtual class at another school as well. The teacher will change schools every two weeks so students will have personal interaction with a teacher.


How the Serenity of Swat Was Vandalized

July 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Javed Akbar, The Canadian Charger

Nightmarish scenes in the valley of Swat in northern Pakistan – a major tourist attraction known for its ‘indescribable beauty and serenity’ mark the latest stage of that nation’s crisis, brought to a boil by the U.S. escalation of its war in Afghanistan, which is spilling across the border.

But the turmoil is also a sign of the deepening contradictions of Pakistani politics following the downfall of the U.S.-backed strongman, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, last year amid growing unrest.

The rise of extremism, militancy and the Taliban are a reaction to the American-led “war on terror” and the occupation of Afghanistan. So big has been the displacement of people (1.7 million according to the UN) due to the latest military operations in Swat that UN officials are already comparing the unfortunate situation prevailing in Pakistan with that of Rwanda, the Central African country where genocide in 1994 forced large-scale dislocation of communities.

The resulting disequilibrium of Pakistani society has as its latest consequence an increasing influx of the internally displaced people of Swat.

The refugees from Swat are victims of a Pakistani Army offensive, backed by the U.S., against forces of the Taliban, which operate in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Under pressure from the U.S., the Pakistani military broke a ceasefire arrangement with the Taliban and carried out a scorched-earth assault — with the excuse that this is the only way to flush out Taliban fighters.

But the civilian population is paying a terrible price. The Pakistani military will never be able to win over those people who actually experienced what is happening on the ground. And certainly those people are not Taliban supporters either, since they have experienced their terror.

The U.S. has created the bizarre new moniker “Af/Pak” as a way to cover over its expansion of the war from Afghanistan into Pakistan. Building consent for this expansion has been what all the State Department, Pentagon and media propaganda has been about before the onslaught of this military expedition.
Leading counterinsurgency theorist John Nagl, an Iraq combat veteran and now the head of the Center for a New American Security, writes that “there is a growing realization that the most likely conflicts of the next fifty years will be irregular warfare in an ‘Arc of Instability’ that encompasses much of the greater Middle East and parts of Africa and Central and South Asia.”

That goes a long way towards explaining U.S. strategic planning.

The U.S. wants to wind down its occupation in Iraq, which it sees as a distraction, and push ahead with a much larger scenario — ‘in the arc of instability’ from North Africa to the Middle East to South and Central Asia. The U.S. is gearing up for, in the shocking words of Nagl, 50 years of warfare in this area.

Such imperial-style strategic concepts echo the “Great Game” of rivalries in the region over who’s going to control the oil and natural gas resources. Beyond that geopolitical battle, the military industrial complex has a material interest in perpetual warfare.

This is the new Great Game involving the U.S., Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Iran. It’s all about the resources that we have been observing since the beginning of the war in 2001. The U.S. had planned a pipeline to go from Central Asia through the Pakistani province of Balochistan. Planners saw Afghanistan as strategically important in these designs. The strategic importance was considered high enough to open a new front on its open-ended “war on terror.”

Despite eight years of war, occupation and counter-insurgency, and seeing that war and occupation aren’t working and are, in fact, backfiring, U.S. thinking doesn’t seem to be shifting at all. The Obama administration is certainly trying to repackage its essential continuity with the Bush administration’s policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But there isn’t a whole lot of finessing that needs to be done to sell this to the American public, since there is a widespread impression that the Afghan war is a moral war, a necessary response to the 9/ll attackers, and that Pakistan is an untrustworthy and reluctant ally that is crawling with militants.
The real alternative for President Obama should be to maintain a deterrent posture while immediately accelerating diplomacy to address legitimate Muslim concerns, from a Palestinian state to genuine progress on Kashmir.

By not recognizing that the unresolved Kashmir issue is a cause for promoting militancy in the region, Washington has opted for selective engagement with the underlying causes of militancy and terrorism in the region.

The anti-war movement should not let Obama continue this imperial policy of aggression into Afghanistan and Pakistan (and potentially many other states).

The heart of the crisis is that this has become a multiple-front war, and the main theater has spawned a second, more diffused arena for potentially disastrous outcomes.

Meanwhile the sufferings of the people of the Northern Pakistan continue, with the rest of country adversely affected due to a war imposed upon its people.
Barack Obama has been bombing Pakistan since the third day of his presidency, and on the ground the Pakistani army has been acting as his country’s mercenaries.

* Javed Akbar is a freelance writer based in Toronto.