Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Operations in Wazirstan causing mass internal displacement of refugees

Karachi resources already overstretched to the limit because of uncontrolled urbanization, is struggling to manage the influx of refugees who have been fleeing the ongoing. operations in Waziristan.

A flight of desperation riddled with peril

Tuesday, March 04, 2008
By Qadeer Tanoli


While hundreds of families belonging to Waziristan are taking, or are aspiring to take, refuge in Karachi as a result of the military operation being carried out by the Army in the area against the Taliban, the journey to the metropolitan ‘sanctuary’ is a long and difficult one.

Seeking shelter in parts of the city that are already occupied by their relatives, mostly in some areas of Landhi, life isn’t easy even after the displaced families manage to flee the war-torn area.

Baghdan, a Waziristan local currently in Karachi, narrates the story of the grueling journey that he, his sisters and their children were faced with after they fled Zarmik, a village in South Waziristan, to get to Karachi around a fortnight ago.

Even getting to Miranshah, let alone Karachi, has become next to impossible for the locals of Waziristan, says Baghdan. Since the operation was launched, he continues, “Jeeps that previously charged Rs200 per person for traveling from far flung areas of South Waziristan all the way to Miranshah, are now charging Rs2,000 for the same destination.” He further adds that buses taking passengers from Banu or Miranshah all the way to Karachi – an otherwise relatively conventional route – are presently charging nothing less than Rs1,300 per person.

The reason behind the inflation in the charges, he says, is that, instead of taking the main roads and risking their lives in potential cross fire, they take the passengers through alternative, covert routes in an attempt to make the journey as safe as possible.

“Heavy snowfall in the operation-affected areas, forcing one to travel on foot, doesn’t make life any easier either,” Baghdan adds. According to him, male members of the fleeing families are transporting the women and children to Karachi, after which the men opt to head back to the village to take care of the cattle they are forced to leave behind.

Going on to talk about his family’s arrival in Karachi, Baghdan says that, even though the arrival of so many people from his village is cramping the available space, these displaced families appear content with their current living conditions. However, their sense of security may be short-lived.

Baghdan’s landlord, who also belongs to Waziristan, has asked them to vacate the house they have lived in since arriving from Zarmik soon, as his (the landlord’s) own family from the war affected area is heading to Karachi to seek shelter.

Muhammad Durrani, Baghdan’s neighbour in Karachi, says that these families are facing severe accommodation problems at present. Durrani assesses that they left their village in such haste, that they didn’t even bring enough clothing.

Durrani appeals to philanthropists to donate whatever they can to help equip these displaced families with basic human needs. Needless to say, the choice for the refugees is complex. While the family is faced with a renewed struggle to find shelter in Karachi now that they are here, living back home in Waziristan is far from easy these days – even if you manage to dodge the militant-Army conflict.

“Many incidents of robberies have taken place in my village, where locals were deprived of their valuables,” Baghdan says. With the robberies getting out of hand, the villagers turned to the local ‘Taliban’ for help, who then punished the culprits on the spot, he recalled.

Nasir, a seven-year-old nephew of Baghdan, has seen several incidents of bombings in his village. “A few days ago, I saw a bomb drop right in front of my house,” he says plainly.

Although the young boy is afraid of the bombings and shelling, he would still prefers to return to his village. Back in the village, however, Nasir’s father is far from anticipating the return of his family.

The Pakistani military mindset

A.H Amin
While third world military figures , in power or retired make impressive speeches at various forums and think tanks , very few outside their countries understand their mindset and motivation , which by and large is driven by highly personalized and ulterior motives !

Keeping this premise in view it is important to understand the mindset and the personalities of the third world military juntas , most important in this case being the Pakistani military junta !The British Indian Army which gave birth to Pakistan and Indian armies in 1947 was essentially a colonial army designed for internal security and limited defence of India against external threats .

The British ensured that all Indians who came to this organization were from the politically most docile and loyal classes ! In order to keep the Indian officer corps slavish they kept a 50 % quota for Indian Army rankers in Indian Military Academy Dera Dun right from its foundation in 1930-32 .Layman readers may note that the " lower middle class" as well as the " middle class" by and large are the politically most conservative classes ! Social climbers by orientation , intensely careeristic in outlook and extremely conscious of personal benefits , having none or little of the pride or spirit de corps that made the Prussian junker officer defy Hitler !

In the Russian Civil War many major reactionary White Army leaders including Denikin,Kornilov etc were from humble background ! Similarly all of Pakistan's military rulers less Yahya Khan were from humble background and all brought with them the intense greed and ambitiousness of a man from humble origins with none of the ideological idealism that distinguishes a man of ideology from a social climber !

Now the mindset of the military junta :--
1- Personal motives having priority over all other motives :-- You would find no Manstein or Guderian in them but highly ambitious men who practiced sycophancy with their seniors , hole punchers in US terms , yes men ,masters of personal manouvre in order to get the right report from the right boss at the right time ! They pleased their seniors and they know how to handle balls of any benefactor may it be Bush or Reagan where aid is concerned ! They have no ideology less personal interest !

2- View Wars and International Geopolitics as a means of personal benefit:-- The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a divine and phenomenal lottery for Pakistan's military rulers ! Zia the son of a humble tailor , and many of his generals Akhtar etc siphoned millions of US dollars in private accounts , from the US aid meant for Afghanistan. Knowing the Americans well , they must have also earmarked good retainers for Zia and his ISI chief in any case.
Serious observers like Selig Harrison and Cordovez have concluded that the Pakistani military junta never wanted that the Soviets should withdraw from Afghanistan since that would have meant stoppage of US aid. Similarly, 9/11 is a heaven sent opportunity for General Musharraf since it enabled him to get US aid and the much needed US boost to stay in power !

3- Can be coerced and bought if the Bigger players know how to drive them:--
These leaders have price tags and can be manipulated to a significant extent without risking wars like the Iraq war. This is so because their vision is personal , has none of Khomeini or Osama's ideological agenda. Thus if the USA sensibly deals with them with carrot and stick they can be made to conform to US policies.

4- Ulterior motives in prolonging conflicts to get aid :-- These leaders have an ulterior motive that their benefactor super power, i.e, USA is kept occupied in its war against terror , not because they have any love for Islam , but simply because this would bring them more aid , an important part of which is siphoned into private fortunes. Thus, at a certain covert level these leaders are interested in the terrorist's cause also. Thus, the third world intelligence agencies have many irons in the fire whether it is initiating a terrorist outrage or encouraging one.

5- Increasing reliance on coercive power of state :-- Since these leaders have little or no contact with national aspirations of their masses , they increasingly rely on the coercive power of the state which leads either to a Shah of Iran like situation or strengthening of a Saddam like totalitarian regime. In both cases it was the fault and mishandling of US policy makers !

6- Role of the Intelligence agencies :--
To buy judges , to blackmail politicians , to start wars of low intensity to get aid , to manipulate low intensity war players for specific ends to please or disturb their super power benefactors.

We are dealing with sharp social climber third world leaders who know how to please and how to practice sophisticated ball lifting. These men have no ideology and can withstand a tremendous amount of kicking as they did while pleasing seniors in their military careers. It is simpler to deal with these tinpot dictators than Osama or Mullah Omar. If policy makers in the USA understand this fact their task would be simpler.

Criminal case against the President

A copy of an application filed at the Police Station, Secretariat, Islamabad for registration of a criminal case against Gen (R) Pervaiz Musharraf and others for various charges, including illegal detention of the Chief Justice, other judges and their families, intimidation and trespass.

March 3, 2008
The SHO,
Police Station,

We have been authorized and instructed by the respective Presidents of the High Court Bar Association, Rawalpindi Bar Association and Islamabad Bar Association to submit this application for registration of a criminal case under the relevant provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code and other enabling provisions. It is, therefore, stated as follows;
That on March 9, 2007 the then Chief of Army Staff, General Pervaiz Musharraf attacked the independence of the judiciary by illegally using the State machinery to criminally intimidate, coerce, threaten and assault the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry so as to illegally force him to resign from his office.
That on refusal to succumb to the illegal pressure and subjugate the independence of the judiciary, the Chief Justice of Pakistan was taken into custody and kept in illegal confinement and house arrest with the other members of the family for more than two weeks. The officials of the intelligence agencies and the administration at the behest and on orders of General ® Pervaiz Musharraf trespassed the official residence of the Chief Justice and kept him and the members of his family confined to two rooms within the residence.
That General ® Pervaiz Musharraf publicly confessed and regretted the illegal and wrongful restraint and confinement.
That on July 20, 2007 a thirteen member bench of the Supreme Court honourably restored Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry as the Chief Justice of Pakistan and held that the allegations in the Reference were malafide, illegal and unconstitutional. It is important to note that the evidence relating to the purported allegations in the reference had been withdrawn and the lawyers representing General ® Pervaiz Musharraf and the Federation tendered apologies before the Supreme Court and the Bench of the Supreme Court imposed a fine of Rs. 100,000/- against the Federal Government.
That in a shameless act of revenge solely for his personal ego, General ® Pervaiz Musharraf committed high treason on November 3, 2007 when taking advantage of his position as the Chief of Army Staff, he issued an illegal and unconstitutional Proclamation of Emergency and a Provisional Constitutional Order. He, thereby not only committed high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution but also conspired to bring the Pakistan Army into disrepute merely for his personal gain and ego. He attacked the independence of judiciary yet again and the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan as well.
That on November 3, 2007 a seven member bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan suspended the Proclamation and the PCO. The authorities were restrained not to act in pursuance of the Proclamation or the PCO and held any act performed thereunder as illegal and unconstitutional.
That General ® Pervaiz Musharraf taking advantage of being the Chief of Army Staff and in flagrant violation of his oath as a member of the armed forces criminally abused his authority by taking control of the Supreme Court in the evening of November 3, 2007 through the law enforcement agencies. The Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and other Hon’ble Judges, except five who agreed to collaborate in this heinous crime, were taken into custody. The acts and omissions are also contempt of the Supreme Court. This also is contempt of the Supreme Courts order dated November 3, 2007.
That the officials of law enforcement agencies and the administration of Islamabad Federal Capital Territory at the behest of and on instructions from General ® Pervaiz Musharraf criminally trespassed the official residence of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and other Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice and the judges, along with their families, were wrongfully confined and restricted in their respective official residences so much so that the outer doors were padlocked and chained. Barbed wires were put all around the residences and the roads leading to the judicial colony were also barricaded and barbed wires were placed.
That the eighteen year old daughter of the Chief Justice of Pakistan i.e Ifra Iftikhar was not allowed to leave the residence for taking his “A” Level examinations.
That eight year old physically challenged son of the CJP, Ballaj Iftikhar, who has been termed as the ‘Youngest Political Prisoner” by local as well as international media has not even been allowed to come out to the garden of the residence let alone allowing him to attend the school.
That sixteen year old Palwasha Iftikhar a student of ‘A’ Level has also not been allowed to leave the residence and attend her school.
That Justice Sardar Raza Khan, Justice Shakirullah Jan and Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk also remain under wrongful restraint and confinement.
That General ® Pervaiz Musharraf and on his instructions and his behest the Minster of Interior, Secretary of Interior, Chief Commissioner Islamabad, IGP Islamabad, SSP Islamabad, DC Islamabad and other collaborators have committed offences, inter alia, punishable under the Pakistan Penal Code.
You are, therefore, advised to forthwith register a FIR against the above named offenders under sections 338, 334, 341, 344, 441, 442, 503, 506, 107, 102-A and other enabling provisions failing which further legal proceedings shall be initiated.

For the applicants
President High Court Bar, Rawalpindi.
President District Bar, Islamabad.
President District Bar, Rawalpindi.

# 24, 1st Floor, Beverly Centre,
Blue Area,

Police Tear Gas at Pakistani Lawyers

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Police fired tear gas Monday to disperse scores of attorneys demanding that President Pervez Musharraf reinstate the chief justice, who has been under house arrest since a sweeping crackdown last year.
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, meanwhile, arrived in Islamabad for talks with Musharraf and the military leadership. It was the second visit in a month by Adm. Mike Mullen, reflecting U.S. concerns over a growing insurgency by al-Qaida and Taliban militants in the tribal region near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.
The police fired several tear gas canisters at about 200 lawyers and other demonstrators, who were shouting slogans outside the residence of ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry.
The police crackdown was filmed by television news cameras and broadcast live across the country. Many lawyers were seen coughing and bending over after being hit by clouds of the acrid smoke. Some picked up the canisters and threw them back at the policemen, who retreated before regrouping.
Chaudhry has been under house arrest along with his family since Musharraf declared a state of emergency on Nov. 3.
The lawyers had gathered outside his house after hearing unconfirmed television reports that the government had lifted the house-arrest restrictions on his wife and three children. The lawyers became agitated when it became apparent that the reports were apparently incorrect.
"Free the children, Go Musharraf Go!" shouted the lawyers, who also demanded that police allow them to go inside the house, which is surrounded by barbed wire.
Chaudhry and dozens of other senior judges were fired just before the Supreme Court was to rule on the legitimacy of Musharraf's re-election in October by a parliament dominated by his supporters.
"There is no example in history where 60 judges have arrested and detained with their families and eight of them continue to remain in detention to this day," said Aitzaz Ahsan, the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association.
Ahsan, who also had been under house arrest until his release Sunday, said the lawyers would stage a week of protests starting March 9.
The attorneys' movement will add further pressure on Musharraf, who has become increasingly isolated politically after his party was trounced in the Feb. 18 elections.
The Pakistan People's Party of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto came in first, and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N party was second.
The dismissal of judges drew some of the strongest criticism that Musharraf has faced since seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1999 when he was the army chief. Musharraf retired from the army in November and allowed the Feb. 18 parliamentary elections.
He is now expected to face a hostile Parliament after opposition groups that won the elections pledged to cooperate with each other against his rule.
Asif Zardari, Bhutto's widower an co-chairman of the PPP, said the party had not decided whether it would try to unseat Musharraf before the new government is sworn in.
"We understand how sensitive the situation is so we will handle the situation with care and will not disappoint the masses," Zardari told a news conference.
Musharraf also has struggled to assert control of areas in northwestern Pakistan, where three suicide bombings killed more than 80 people in the past few days.
On Monday, armed supporters of a radical Islamic cleric exchanged gunfire with villagers resisting the demolition of a shrine in northwestern Pakistan, leaving seven people dead, said police officer Zardad Khan.
The clash was unrelated to the pro-Taliban Islamic insurgency gripping the region, but it demonstrated the lawlessness in the area.
Last month, Mullen said the threat of Islamic extremism was growing in Pakistan and that the country's leadership was aware of the challenge facing the nation.
He arrived in Islamabad following a stop in Iraq over the weekend, said Elizabeth Colton, the spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.
Mullen was likely to discuss plans calling for 22 U.S. personnel to train elements of the Pakistani military in counter-insurgency and intelligence gathering techniques later this year.
Associated Press Writer Zarar Khan contributed to this report.

AJI Hunger Strike in Islamabad: Account

The hunger strike by two leaders of Awami Jamhoori Ittehad in Islamabad has now entered the third day. Iqbal Bali and Jahangir Akhter have been on hunger strike to protest the illegal incarceration of the children of Chief Justice Iftikhar. They are sitting in a camp in front of the Marriott Hotel, Islamabad, near the Judges colony, and have vowed to end their strike only at the hands of Justice Iftikhar's youngest son, Balach.

Today, they marched with other protesters to the police barrier at the entrance to the judges colony, and unsuccessfully tried to cut the heavy roll of barbed wires. Even a jeep could not pull the wires away. The protestes remained at the barrier for over an hour, raising slogans.

Yesterday, Justice retired Tariq Mahmood visited the camp, stayed with the protesters for quite some time, and addressed the gathering.

Both the hunger strikers are old in age. Iqbal Bali is sevety six, and Jahangir Akhter 65. Jahangir suffers from sugar and kidney problems, while Iqbal is a heart patient. But both of them are determined to continue with the strike, although the strike has started to have a visible toll on their health.

Others will join them in the strike, some for a symbollic 24 hour hunger strike, others for a 48 hour strike, while these two have vowed to continue until death or release of Iftikhar Choudhry's children, whichever comes sooner.

Protesters in other cities might like to consider also sitting on symbollic hunger strike for 24 or 48 or longer durations to express solidarity with Jahangir and Iqbal.

A. H. Nayyar

Senior Research Fellow, Sustainable Development Policy Institute

#3, UN Boulevard, Diplomatic Enclave, Islamabad