Pakistan

Current issues and comments...

Marginalisation of Islamist Parties

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Our Islamist parties, Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam Fazlulrehman Group, and even not so Islamic Tehreek-e-Insaaf continue to make hue and cry to stop the operation in Swat region and resort to negotiations with Taliban by an all parties committee. Where were these parties once Taliban started violating the Swat agreement? If these parties were genuinely interested in peace, they would have contacted Taliban on their own. Why did these parties not condemn the barbarous crimes committed by Taliban a fortnight short of Swat operation? The people of Pakistan have, through, their open support of Swat operation has marginalised the pseudo Islamist parties.

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posted @ 7:08 PM, ,

Foreign Aid Turning into AIDS!

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Ever since independence, we have been dependent on foreign aid. This dependence has increased with every year passing in stead of we becoming self sufficient. Dependence on foreign aid, on one hand, has subjugated us to the countries who give us the aid, and, on the other hand, it has been counter productive factor for self reliance. It has corrupted our already corrupt leadership and the rich. The poor are becoming poorer. In other words, foreign aid has become AIDS for us the addiction to which is taking us down the ladder in stead of moving upwards in terms of development.

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posted @ 6:50 PM, ,

Media's Failure to Follow Up

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Media, the world over, has become an important pillar of state. Besides many other roles, media in Pakistan, too, has turned out to be a very important pressure group which is becoming difficult for the government to ignore. I find our media lacking in one very important thing i.e follow up. There are countless examples of grave incidents taking place every now and then. These incidents become headlines of the newspapers and lead stories of the electronic media. There is follow up for a couple of days and then the new events take over. About each such happening, there is usual formation of some inquiry committee or commission for which government lays down a deadline for submission of the report within X number of days. And that's the ed of it! Government officials promise to have the inquiry/investigation published on its completion within the stipulated period of time. I am yet to see any of these inquiries /investigation reports completed and published. Media, too, forgets about it. Media needs to follow the example of lawyers' movement for restoration of judiciary. They did not let the pressure die down. Besides many other activities, protests were registered every Thursday. Media should repeatedly inform the public reminding the government about the completion and publication of inquiries and investigations.

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posted @ 8:56 AM, ,

Increasing Head Money is not the Solution

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Government has announced increase in the head money of Fazlullah, the leader of Taliban in Swat, and four of his accomplices. There are dozens of other Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders, including Osama Bin Laden and Baitullah Mahsud, whose head money is more than enough to make a fortune. The latter two are yet to be captured despite lapse of many years. Raising head money has not worked to date and is not likely to work this time. Government has to find some other means to capture or kill the Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders!

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posted @ 9:16 PM, ,

Suicide Attacks, Reaction to Swat Operation or a Signal of Expansion!

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The recent suicide attacks by Taliban in Lahore, Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan on the same day about forty eight hours ago are being viewed as losing and retreating Talibans' reaction to the military operation in Swat. Whether Taliban are losing the battle in Swat or winning remains an open question. Even if we accept the daily briefings of the military spokesman, Swat operation can not be called a success. Killing over one thousand and capturing a hundred or so Taliban, and in return having 2.5 million IDPs, losing around a hundred soldiers and unknown number of civilian casualties can't be called a success. The recent attacks are far more significant than mere reaction of the 'losing' Taliban. Yes, it is a reaction but it must be viewed as a strong reaction through which Taliban have let every one know that they are there all over Pakistan and can pick and choose the time and place of their choice to strike and are capable of hitting at more than one target simultaneously. To date Taliban have proved to be better planners and executioners of their evil designs. Government can not cite one example where it was able take a better toll of Taliban. Taliban are expanding their activities and with every day passing they are proving themselves to be a bigger threat to the very sovereignty of Pakistan. Where all can Pakistan afford to undertake military operations of the like of Swat operation?

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posted @ 8:47 PM, ,

Nawaz Sharif's Return to Parliment via Supreme Court

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Supreme Court of Pakistan made a landmark judgement overruling one of its earlier verdicts regarding the disqualification of the two brothers to contest parlimentary elections. The decision of the bench of five judges was unanimous. The bench also included two judges of the previous bench which had given the judgement of disqualification. This has paved way for Mr. Nawaz Sharif to return to parliment by contesting bye elections and Mr. Shahbaz Sharif to continue as Chief Minister of Punjab.

The judgement could not have come about without the restoration of judiciary after the threatening long march of March 16, 2009. This is the first personal benefit Mr. Nawaz Sharif and his party have got of their supporting the movement of restoration of judiciary. This judgement is going to have far reaching effects on the political course of our country. By giving this judgement, Supreme Court has set a course for itself which is pretty clear. Whereas, PPP has welcomed the judgement, it will now be keeping its fingers crossed over the issue of NRO. The government will have to be extra careful and arbitrary decision will become difficult. Mr. Nawaz Sharif's return to parliment will provide him inner strength and confidence to lead his party, the parliment will become more active and it will become further difficult for PPP led coalition to ignore PML(N). And, from now on, Nawaz Sharif will be in a position to pose real personal threat to the politics of Zardari.

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posted @ 9:33 AM, ,

Pakistani First or Muslim First!

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Ever since the independence, the citizens of Pakistan are yet to make up their mind as to whether they are Pakistanis first and Muslims later or vice verse. This very debate has given birth to a number of other debates; Punjabi first or Pakistani first, Sindhi first or Pakistani first, Bauchi first or Pakistani first, Pashtun first or Pakistani first and so on. Going by the same analogies, it will be worth pondering about the people in minority. Are we willing to concede to the minorities to be Hindus/Christians/Sikhs first and Pakistani later? And, if so, to what degree.

If we come to think about it rationally, the very subject of this debates is ill founded. It's like asking a young married man if he is a son first or a husband first, or, a brother first or a father first and so on. All human beings have to put on more than one hat at the same time. We, as individuals, have our rights and responsibilities with respect to each of the many roles which lie on shoulders. The individuals who adhere to the universal values of justice and brotherhood, live a good life, the ones who don't live miserably. It's only the interpretation of these universal values according to one's convenience which leads to chaos and confusion. A good Muslim will always be a good Pakistani, or if living in another country a good citizen of that country. Similarly, a good Pakistani will always be a good Muslim, if he is one, or a good follower of his religion and vice verse. Being Muslim does not grant us the right to trespass over the rights of others, in fact, it demands of us to respect the rights of others more than what is preached by other religions.

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posted @ 11:21 AM, ,

Local Vigilance Committees Against Taliban

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Taliban are spread all over the country. One thing is for certain that these living beings live among us. Our intelligence agencies have failed us to date. It's time that we realize that we have to protect ourselves. This is possible. Comprising of honorary volunteers, we should form vigilance committees at each union council level. All citizens of the area should move about with their eyes and ears open. The citizens should report any unusual activity noticed by them to the vigilance committees who should in turn report the same to the local police administration and the FIA. Monitoring and follow up of these unusual activities by these committees and the administration will certainly help us all thwart the plans of our foes. Arrival of strangers in an area and undertaking unusual activities can not go unnoticed unless we all choose to close our eyes. And, if that has to continue, we deserve the treatment being meted out to us.

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posted @ 5:24 PM, ,

Friends or Foes!

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North America, the entire western world, Russia, India, Afghanistan, Iran and sundry have vowed to fight the menace of Al Qaeda and Taliban as they are the chief source of terrorism the world over. However, it is common knowledge and has become all the more evident during Swat operation that the terrorists are well equipped with sophisticated weaponry manufactured by the countries neighbouring Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some of the weapons captured during Swat operation also have the manufacturing origin of America. Either this weaponry is being supplied by these countries contrary to their stated political stand of supporting anti terrorist activities or the terrorists are getting plenty of money to buy the weapons on their own, or may be, it is the combination of both. It appears that a big game of politics is going on in which all the aforementioned countries are directly or indirectly supporting terrorism in stead of opposing it for their respective vested interests. Having become a beggar state internationally, we can't point our fingers at anyone, and even if we do, we can't do anything beyond that. We need to put our own house in order in stead of expecting others to do things for us recognizing fully well that others would do what suits them and not us. We need to multiply our intelligence efforts to understand the plot, formulate a comprehensive policy and assemble our indigenous resources to deal with it,

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posted @ 11:29 AM, ,

Resisting Settlement of Swat IDPs in Karachi

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The Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM), The Pakistan People’s Party-Shaheed Bhutto (PPP-SB) and The Sindh National Party (SNP), otherwise foes among themselves, are resisting the settlement of IDPs of Swat Operation in Karachi on the pretext that it would disturb the ethnic demography of the metropolitan city which would lead to violence. It was least expected from MQM which mostly comprises of refugees from India at the time of independence of Pakistan. It very clearly exposes the true agenda and the narrow objectives of these political parties some of whom claim to have their spread all over Pakistan. Although not related to IDPs, we hear similar voices of discontent from Baluchistan. The constitution of Pakistan very clearly grants the right to its citizens to move about and settle anywhere in the country. The aforementioned negative approach is a clear violation of the constitution. There is a need to resolve the issue in the light of our constitution in stead of political expediencies.

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posted @ 2:40 PM, ,

Electricity Loadshedding - Any Personal Example!

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These days, we are facing the worst of the electricity loadsheddings of our history. Common man, as is always the case, is suffering the most. Almost, everything in the country has come to a stand still, but for the rich and the leaders (who are richer than the rich). If anything is going on as usual is the life style of the rich and the leaders. Our leaders, in the government and the opposition, make tall claims of serving the country and looking after the well being of the masses. We are yet to see anyone setting the personal example. There is no loadshedding in the offices of the higher ups; governors' houses, chief ministers' houses, ministers' offices ad residences, president's house but there is loadshedding in the hospitals and schools. So is the case with the leadership in the opposition. Even if there is loadshedding somewhere, the big generators are there to ensure the continuation of comfortable living anf functioning of them all. We are yet to see a single example of the rich and the leaders commiting to following the schedule of loadshedding and bearing the hardships along with the mases. Has any one of these even vowed not to use the air conditioners and use fans in stead?

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posted @ 12:24 PM, ,

Talibans' Caves Discovered in Swat

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Pakistan army took around the foreign media on a flying trip to the operational area in Swat. During this trip the media was also shown the caves and the bunkers made by Taliban. It is highly appreciable that the troops were able to capture these caves and bunkers, and other such like hide outs of Taliban.

Caves and bunkers cannot be not made overnight. Where were our intelligencies once these caves and bunkers were being constructed by Taliban? Where was our local population who could not notice such extra ordinary activity taking place over a period of time. Can we rule out the existance of such like caves and bunkers elsewhere in the country?It was perceived during the British rule of the subcontinennt that nothing could take place in an area without the knowledge of the SHO (police head) of the area. Where are those SHOs?

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posted @ 11:15 AM, ,

US Concerns over Al Qaeda and Pakistan Nukes

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In the recent past, particularly, since the Swat operation, US media is repeatedly showing its concerns about the shifting of Al Qaeda infrastructure in Pakistan. American government officials have also acknowledged the move of Taliban and Al Qaeda from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Similarly, the American media has become pretty vocal in its concern about the safety of Pakistan's Nukes. America invaded Afghanistan to chase Al Qaeda whom it thought was responsible for 9/11. If American targets i.e Al Qaeda and Taliban are being projected/perceived to have moved to Pakistan, what could be the next move of Americans, if Pakistan, in their opinion is unable to deal with the two targets?

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posted @ 11:04 AM, ,

Loadshedding Ends Dec 31, 2009 or 2010!

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Until yesterday, government has been repeatedly promising that the electricity loadshedding would be over by the end of the current year. This promise of the government has been repeated time and again in almost all the speeches made to date by the Federal Minister for Water and Power, Mr. Raja Pervez Ashraf. However, another federal minister, Mr. Khursheed Shah has staed that the loadshedding can't be done away with by the end of this year. Any doubts!

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posted @ 6:46 PM, ,

Swat Operation Against Insurgency or Terrorism

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Ever since the beginning of Swat operation, the media has started terming the unrest caused by Taliban as insurgency in stead of terrorism as was the case in the past. Government, too, has termed the recent Taliban activities as insurgency challenging the writ of state rather than terrorism. Counter insurgency, the operation against insurgency, is a far more serious business than fighting against terrorism. Let us hope that this seriousness of the government persists till the total elimination of Taliban and the likes. Our people and the government have to fight it out together. It's likely to be a long drawn battle.

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posted @ 6:30 PM, ,

Financial Cost of Swat Operation

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Over two million people of Swat region are reported to have become internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the number is increasing with everyday passing. These people have become refugees within their own country. Excluding the psychological dents in the lives of troops and IDPs, and unknown number of casualties of troops and civilians, let us calculate the financial expenses of these IDPs. Assuming the minimum daily expense to be Rs. 50.00 per day per head, rupees one hundred million per day will have to be spent. It is expected that it may take upto six months before these IDPs start resettling in their own homes. Daily expenses of IDPs for six months comes out to be rupees eighteen billion. Government has announced grant of Rs. 25000.00 per family to enable them to start their lives afresh. The money required to pay the compensatory allowance totals to be rupees ten billion. The sum total comes out to be rupees twenty eight billion. This estimate is very modest and doesn't include the expenses incurred by army undertaking the operation, the repairing the damages caused to the infrastructre. The Economic Advisor to the government has put this assessment to be around one billion US dollars i.e rupees eighty billion. All this is being done to eliminate around 5000 Taliban; each one of them costing us Rs. 16 million.

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posted @ 1:02 PM, ,

Taliban Snatching Help from Within !

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Daily Times in its issue of Thursday, May 21, 2009 has reported, "Six vehicles used by Taliban clad in black Elite Force uniforms were also destroyed during the operation. The security forces also defused seven improvised explosive devices. To a question, he (DG ISPR) said the military was investigating where the Taliban got the Elite Force vehicles and uniforms from."

If the loss of six vehicles of our police elite force is to be discovered only as late as above, we need to seriously look into the system of reporting and accounting in Pakistan Police. And, it may not be Police alone, we need to to look into other government departments. There are countless questions arising out of this discovery which must be thoroughly investigated and duly answered. The possibility of some officials conniving with Taliban can't be ruled out. It's common knowledge that any citizen losing his/her cell phone or a car immediately registers an FIR for fear of not being rounded up as a criminal if the car or the cell are later found to have been used in any criminal activity. Who is going to teach this to our police officials?

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posted @ 11:46 AM, ,

NFC Award

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It has been reported by a section of the press quoting government officials that the allocation of resources in the coming budget will be according to the last NFC award. There is a lot of hue and cry about the incorrect distribution of resources. It is one of the important aspects of provincial autonomy. With present government having the support of opposition, it's high time that such like issues are duly addressed and not left for another day.

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posted @ 2:24 PM, ,

Measure of Sucess of Swat Operation

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Swat operation has been on for over two weeks now. Twenty to thirty thousand troops have been fighting to eliminate, reportedly, 5000 Taliban. Going by the daily briefings of the army spokesman, around 1000 Taliban have been killed. One hundred or so soldiers have laid down their lives in the operation. Number of civilians' casualties is not known as the media has no access to the battle zone and the army spokesman has so far not given any number of these casualties. How many of Taliban have been able to flee is also not known? Having secured the peaks surrounding the towns of Swat, troops are now busy in search and destroy operation. Some of the Taliban are reported to have made residents, who did not leave their homes, hostages to be used as human shields once troops approach them. Despite all the precautions which army will take, some of these civilian hostages are bound to become casualties. Over two million locals of Swat region have become refugees in their own country, known as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Whether the total number of casualties of troops and civilians exceeds that of Taliban or not, the battle of Swat has already been won by Taliban. Statistically, each of the Taliban has been able to cause unimaginable miseries to 4000 civilians who have become IDPs (divide 2,000,000 by 5,000 and you get the number of 4,000).

The above is not to suggest that the military operation should be halted as that would further add to the miseries of the people and erode the writ of the state the purpose for which the operation has been launched. However, it would have been better if the concerned quarters had foreseen the events in true perspective. If the above home work had been done, government and the military may have pondered over other options to deal with Taliban.

To convert this failure into success, firstly, the government and army need to accept the facts as they are and they should not resort to false rhetoric of having beaten Taliban, and, secondly, we need to win the hearts and minds of IDPs. Easier said than done, it calls for a colossal dedicated, honest and well planned effort on part of all concerned to resettle the IDPs back in their homes and making the living safe for them.

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posted @ 11:11 AM, ,

Plight of Civilians Stuck between Troops and Taliban

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Army operation in Swat has reached a stage where troops are in the process of encircling towns. Whereas majority of the residents have left, there are still a reasonable number of civilians who continue to stick on to their houses. Troops and Taliban have their respective lines of communication to feed them, these civilians stuck in between have no such arrangement. Not only that, these civilians are considered foes by troops and Taliban alike. There are some civilians who have been made hostage by Taliban to serve as human shield against troops closing in. It's a very dicey situation. Army has to be extra ordinarily careful to see that the collateral damage in terms of loss of innocent lives is restricted to the minimum.

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posted @ 2:03 PM, ,

Consensus during APC is Appreciable

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All Parties Conference (APC) was held yesterday in Islamabad under the chairmanship of Mr. Yousaf Raza Gilani, Prime Minister of Pakistan. It has indeed been a rare and miraculous phenomenon that all political forces of Pakistan have unanimously endorsed the current Swat operation. It is highly commendable. Given this sort of political will and resolve seen in APC, optimism about our ability to deal with the menace of Taliban and terrorism stand strengthened. The APC has initiated a lightening ray of hope under the prevalent dismal situation.

The following is the text of the resolution:

1. Recalled, the consensus resolution passed by a joint sitting of parliament on October 22, 2008;

2. Reiterated, its support of the resolution passed on October 2, 2008, and the subsequent recommendations made by the parliamentary committee on national security as required by the resolution and impressed upon the need for speedy implementation;

3. Reaffirmed, its commitment to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and sovereignty of the state of Pakistan;

4. Emphasised, the need to establish and maintain the writ of the state and ensure supremacy of the rule of law;

5. Condemned, all violent challenges to the Constitution and the state of Pakistan;

6. Expressed, grief for the martyrdom of security personnel and innocent civilians;

7. Maintaining, that the safety and security of civilians is paramount and it should be ensured that minimum harm is caused to the non-combatant civilian population;

8. Re-emphasised, the need to ensure the safety, well being and rehabilitation in their respective areas of the internally displaced persons;

9. Called upon, the Pakistani people to respond as one nation to mitigate the suffering of our brothers and sisters, the Internally Displaced Persons;

10. Emphasised, that Pakistan is a vibrant dynamic democracy;

11 Reaffirmed, that Pakistan’s nuclear assets were under an effective command and control authority;

12 Asserted, that the strategic decisions regarding military issues, including troops’ deployment, are the sole prerogative of the state of Pakistan;

13. Appreciated, the tremendous sacrifices given by the Pakistani people economically, politically and in terms of human life while fighting terrorism, more than any other country or people;

14. Condemned, the violation of Pakistan’s optical economic and territorial sovereignty, including drone attacks; and

15. Conveyed, that Pakistan is a sovereign state and any aid, economic or military which carries cardinalities will be counter-productive.


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posted @ 1:46 PM, ,

Failure of Intelligence to Neutralize Taliban

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Intelligence agencies of Pakistan have a big name the world over. These agencies have certainly done wonders in the past. Taliban are nothing but their creation during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Prior knowledge about Taliban should have been an asset for these intelligence agencies to build on. That hasn't happened. It is the failure of these agencies to provide accurate information about Taliban leadership, dispositions etc which necessitated and is also the cause of prolongation of Swat operation and the likes. Otherwise, neutralizing 5000 Taliban (reported to be present in Swat region according to military spokesman) was not a big deal and it would not have required undertaking such a big operation involving 20 to 30 thousand troops and causing over two million people homeless IDPs. It is doubtful if the army operation will be able to kill/capture all of the 5000 Taliban. There are news bout Taliban fleeing from the Swat region. So, at the end of the day, the gains of Swat operation aren't likely to be worth the effort and the price paid. We need to beef up our intelligence agencies or even reshuffle them, provide them resources in plenty to acquire accurate information about Taliban and the likes. Let us concentrate on this aspect rather than planning Swat like operations elsewhere in the country. We don't have to kill an ant with an elephant. Hiring a thief to catch a thief is a far better proposition. Buying a few hundred of Taliban to neutralize the rest is the course we need to follow. If foreign agencies, as is the perception, can buy Taliban against us, why can't we buy some of them to neutralize the rest.

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posted @ 1:12 PM, ,

Take the Islamist Parties on Board

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The Islamist political parties of Pakistan, namely, Jamaat-Islami and Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam Fazlul Rehaman group, and, Tehreek-e-Insaaf of Imran Khan have asked the government to halt the current military operation in Swat region and resort to negotiations. Halting the current operation on the pretext of negotiations will once again provide Taliban the badly needed breathing space and time to rearm and recoup like it happened in the recent past under the cover of Swat Truce and Nizam-e-Adl regulation. It is least likely that the government would halt the operation, and it should not. However, the government's call to Taliban to surrender as a precondition to halt the operation makes sense but is least likely to be heeded by Taliban.
We, however, need to look beyond the Swat operation. Mr. Zardari, the President of Pakistan, has vowed to undertake Swat like military operations in the tribal areas to rid the country of Taliban. This is what the country can ill afford. It is here that the government should take the above three parties on board and ask them to initiate the negotiations with Taliban. A committee, having representation of all the political parties, should be formed by the government to resume negotiations with Taliban for a peaceful solution. Whether the negotiations meet with success or failure, the government will be well disposed to proceed further in either case. Learning from the on going operation in Swat, efforts of reconciliations must be made. Pardoning a few hundred or even a few thousand Taliban in exchange for peace will not be a bad bargain.

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posted @ 2:37 PM, ,

Military Operations are not the Right Solution

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Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, has vowed to undertake more military operations on the lines of Swat Operation, Rah-e-Rast, to rid the country of Taliban. The ongoing operation has to date resulted in killing of 1000 Taliban viz-a-viz losing around 100 soldiers. The number of civilians killed is not known yet. It would be fine if the equation was limited to the aforementioned figures. But, that's not the case. The operation has made around two million people of Swat region refugees within their own country; homeless IDPs. There are reported to be around 5000 Taliban operating in Swat region. The number of soldiers deployed against them initially was 15000 who were later reinforced, the number of which is not officially known. It would be fair to assume that the current strength of the troops operating should be around 25000. Continuation of the current operations, perhaps, is a sour pill which has to be taken. However, we need to learn from the same. With eighty thousand troops deployed along Afghan border and the remaining staying in the cantonments focused on India, how many more troops can be spared to undertake Swat like operations? How many more (in millions!) IDPs can we look after? How many more unaccounted for civilian casualties can we bear? How many times can we keep on begging the rest of the world to help us deal with the problems of IDPs? Some other solution has got to be found to resolve this problem.

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posted @ 2:10 PM, ,

Truth about Drone Attacks

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There is a news in a section of the press that there is a perfect understanding between Pakistan and US governments regarding drone attacks conducted by America in Pakistan areas against prize Al Qaeda and Taliban targets. The Foreign Relations Committee of America have asked Pakistan government to let the aforementioned be known to its people. Will any government official take the trouble to do so or deny the same? Will someone raise the question in National Assembly?

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posted @ 12:50 PM, ,

French Offer:Nuclear Safety or Civilan Nuclear Technology!

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After the recent visit of President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari to France, Foreign Minister of Pakistan states that France has agreed to provide civilian nuclear technology to Pakistan on the lines of recent American Indian deal on the subject. However, the French spokesperson says that France has offered its services to Pakistan with regards to nuclear safety of Pakistan's arsenal. Who is to be believed; foreign minister of Pakistan or French spokesperson!

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posted @ 12:42 PM, ,

All Parties Conference

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Government has called All Parties Conference (APC) regarding the prevailing situation of terrorism, particularly, the current army operation in Swat region. The conference is due to be held on Monday, May 18, 2009. This conference is going to follow the in camera briefing by COAS to representatives of all political parties in the Parliament held on May 15, 2009. The APC is going to also include those political parties which did not take part in the last general elections. Army operation has been in progress since the beginning of this month and is at the stage of search and destroy. Army has been able to capture the important heights surrounding the towns and control the entrance/exit routes. Taliban surrounded by the army are being killed and some of them have started surrendering. Now, that the army operation is nearing its success, some of these parties have started echoing the resolution of the problem through negotiations implying that the army operation should be stopped. Short of achieving success, army operations against Taliban have been halted in the past through peace agreements, a number of times. It has been a failed practice in the past as every time Taliban used these agreements to gain time to reorganize. This time government and army appear determined to complete the operation and eliminate Taliban from Swat region. The difference of opinion between the parties opposing the operation and the government is pretty wide and not likely to be bridged by the APC. It is, therefore, not understood as to what is going to be the outcome of the APC. It will be better if all parties focus their attention on helping the IDPS and chalking out future course of action to deal with Taliban elsewhere in the country.

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posted @ 6:15 PM, ,

Banned Jamaat-ul-Dawa Resurfaces to Help IDPs

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Jamaat-ul-Dawa (JUD) was banned by Pakistan government once the organization was put under ban by UNO after the Mumbai Attacks. It has been reported by a section of media that the banned Jamaat-ul-Dawa has resurfaced under the name of some other organization and has established camps to help the IDPs of Swat region. Resurfacing of banned organizations under some other names is not a new phenomenon. The latest news, once, again, confirms government's inability to keep track of such like banned organizations. The violation of ban kills the very purpose of banning any organization.
Sympathizing with IDPs and helping them alleviate their sufferings is a noble cause but using the same to create pro Taliban sentiment with a view to recruit more Taliban is dangerous. Even if JUD and the likes are able to achieve fractional success in these attempts, the battle of winning minds and hearts of IDPs would be lost to a greater degree. IDPs are likely to be looked after better by JUD and the likes than the government agencies the propogation of which will result in psychological victory of these pro Taliban organizations.

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posted @ 12:27 PM, ,

Point Scoring - Swat Operation - Time to be United

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It is sad to see Pakistan Muslim League, Nawaz Group PML (N), Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat- e - Ulema-Islam, Fazl-ul-Rehman Group Group (JUI, F) opposing the present army operation in Swat on the pretext that they were not taken into confidence about the same, and also accusing the government that it had not foreseen and planned to take care of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees. If we recall, the acceleration with which terrorism was being spread in Swat region despite the implementation of the Nizam-e-Adl (system of justice), loss of any time would have resulted in the situation going totally out of hand. The army operation launched by the government had to be immediate and with surprise. The process of taking all on board and preparations to receive the IDPs would have resulted in loss of the surprise factor. Statements of the leadership of the three above mentioned political parties after the telecast of interview of Sufi Muhammad heading defunct (Tehreek-e-Nifaz-Sharia-e Muhammdi, translated in English as Movement for Implementation of Muhammade Law (TNSM) clearly indicated that the two parties favoured strict action against Taliban. Sufi Muhammad had promised that Taliban would surrender after the implementation of Niza-e-Adl. In stead of surrendering, Taliban came out in the open killing people including government officials, looting public and private property including half a dozen banks. It is not understood as to why they have changed their stance. It's time to unite against a common enemy and a common threat and not of scoring points against each other.

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posted @ 5:10 PM, ,

Help Refugees, IDPs of Swat before You become One!

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It must be clearly understood that over one million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of Swat are suffering for our sake. These IDPs refused to accept the rule of Taliban and opted to flee their homes, a scarifice of life time. If these IDPs are left high and dry, many of them will fall prey to Talibanization and then, it will be the turn of the rich and the poor alike living in currently unaffected areas to become IDPs or face the wrath of Taliban.
Although government agencies, and some of the philanthropist individuals and organizations have stepped up their activities to help the IDPs, lot more needs to be done. We have thousands of rich individuals and companies who can very conveniently set aside a fraction, if not a part, of their income towards this end. But, this s not happening. Perhaps, these individuals and companies mistakenly think that it is none of their concern. Political leadership of the government and opposition alike should also set personal examples; one of the important traits of leadership. Media must give more coverage to the efforts of philanthropists who are in the lead. Chamber of Commerce, Mardan has established a refugee camp. Other chambers of commerce and organizations should follow this example. Once the leadership and the rich come forward, masses would follow. The battle against Taliban, expected to be won by the army in the battleground, must also be won in the hearts and minds of IDPs. We have no other choice.

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posted @ 12:13 PM, ,

Joint Control of Drone Attacks by America & Pakistan

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It has been reported by a section of media that America and Pakistan have agreed to jointly plan and conduct drone attacks on the suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban prize targets. To date Americans have been conducting drone attacks at will on the targets of their choice in areas falling within the territorial borders of Pakistan. There has been collateral damage of civilian casualties and property as a result of these attacks. Pakistan protested every time it so happened and it added to anti American sentiment in Pakistan. Who is going to bear the blame of collateral damage in case of drone attacks conducted jointly b America and Pakistan?

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posted @ 5:36 PM, ,

Host Families of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons - Swat Region

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A very large number of IDPs have moved to their relatives all over the country starting from the neighbourhood of Swat all the way to Karachi. The number of these IDPs is estimated to be more than 50% of the total number. These relatives (host families) may be able to look after these IDPs for a short period of time but not indefinitely. Although a difficult proposition, some means need to be devised whereby the host families are registered and duly compensated for their generosity to host their relative IDPs. Otherwise, sooner or later, the IDPs living with the host families will have to leave their hosts and move either to wilderness or to refugee camps which certainly will not be a good situation. If the IDPs are not duly taken care of and resettled in their homes after the Army operation, the operation against Taliban in Swat region would be lost despite success expected in the battleground.

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posted @ 5:17 PM, ,

Taliban's Possible Reactions to Army Operation in Swat

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If the news released by Pakistan Army are to be believed, the operation against Taliban in Swat region is progressing successfully. It is hoped that such news are correct, otherwise, Pakistan Army will, sooner or later, be exposed and loose its trust in its citizens and even internationally. Taliban must be in a desparate situation. Their reactions in this state need to be carefully appreciated and appropriate measures should be taken against these expected reactions. For this purpose Pakistan can be split into three areas. Firstly Swat region, secondly, those areas where Taliban exist in organized way like North and South Waziristan, Khyber agency, Mohmand agency and the likes, and thirdly, the rest of Pakistan where there is relative peace and Taliban activities have been in the form of isolated terrorists actions like suicide bombings and explosions. The primary aim of Taliban will be to loosen the pressure faced by them in Swat region to break the encirclement so as to live to fight for another day. They are likely to do so by diverting the attention of Army, Pakistan government, people of Pakistan and the rest of the world from the current operations. In Swat region they will resort to hostage taking of the people trapped in the battleground, the news of which have already started appearing. Taliban can intensify their activities in second category of areas where they have some sort of domination/control which would require more troops to deal with the situation. In the rest of Pakistan, they are likely to increase the terrorist activities by resorting to more suicide attacks and explosions. The refugee camps established in the neighbourhood of Swat also offer themselves as soft targets. And, if by any chance, the situation permits, they will counter attack troops operating in Swat from outside the current battlefield. Kidnapping, particularly, of foreigners is yet another possibility.

So, in nutshell, by undertaking operation in Swat, the entire country has become more vulnerable to the terorists' activities of Taliban. Whereas, it is expected that the government must be taking appropriate measures to deal with the above mentioned possible reactions of Taliban, we, as citizens, also need to keep our eyes and ears open to protect ourselves and help government do its job. Gathering intelligence has so far been the weakest link to deal with Taliban. And, it is the failure of intelligence again which may offer success to Taliban achieving their short and long term objectives.

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posted @ 4:21 PM, ,

Army Operation in Swat - Imges

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posted @ 4:08 PM, ,

Taliban in Swat Region before Army Operation - Images

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posted @ 2:32 PM, ,

Karachi - People and Leadership - Sincerity of Purpose

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Today is May 12, 2009. Two years ago, the city witnessed killing of dozens of people on its roads and streets once then suspended Chief Justice of Supreme Court landed at Karachi to go to the bar. Musharraf and were in power in Pakistan and Karachi respectively. Electronic media showed dozens of large containers blocking the routes from the airport to the bar. Who could have done that other than the government? Yet insists that the violence took place at the behest of its opponents. Musharraf held his own ill advised rally in the capital to prove that he was very popular. Almost all the parties in Karachi, and , had announced shutter down strikes and demonstrations which have been withdrawn on the request of Sindh government I hope and pray that peace prevails due to the declaration of provincial holiday by the government to commemorate and mourn the killings two years ago.

If we come to look at it, people of Karachi irrespective of their political, ethnic or religious association want to live in peace. But, perhaps the leadership doesn't want it that way. Why can't this leadership sit together and resolve the differences through peaceful negotiations. Ironically, all the major parties are part of the coalition running the country/province and yet they are daggers drawn. The leadership needs to rise above their individual vested interests and petty gains to resolve the issue. It can be done. The leadership ought to have will to do it. But, does the leadership have that will, and more importantly, greatness? Besides resolving old issues regarding the quotas for various groups; locals, settlers, etc, there are two ways to resolve the mystery of May 12, 2007. The leadership should either agree to conduct a judicial inquiry and accept the court verdict or it should agree to, let bygones be bygones, and commit not to let such sad incidents happen in future. Sincerity of purpose is is missing but badly needed.

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posted @ 1:05 PM, ,

Madrassahs and Writ of State of Pakistan

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Pakistan has launched a full fledged military operation in Swat region to root out Taliban. It is generally perceived that the religious schools known as Madrassahs opened by various religious parties are the breeding grounds of these Taliban. All madrassahs may not be party to it but some, certainly, are. It's an open secret that there are certain madrassahs and related offices in Pakistan where the government officials can't even enter, what to talk of, their ability to monitor the activities in such areas. Musharraf tried to register these madrassahs but had to ultimate back track for fear of reaction from the proreligious parties. If there is nothing wrong taking place in madrassahs, why should their administrations oppose the registration. It is fair to infer that the writ of state doesn't exist in the madrassahs. Will the Army have to launch more operations to establish writ of state in these madassahs?

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posted @ 7:05 PM, ,

What about Taliban outside Swat Region?

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15,000 Troops have been deployed to deal with Taliban in Swat region. More reinforcements are being sought. Another 80,000 are deployed along Durand Line. Cleansing Swat region off Taliban will not rid Pakistan of these terrorists. We have Taliban in FATA(Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan); North and South Waziristan. There are terrorists operating in Baluchistan. Then, we have Taliban spread all over the country. If Pakistan chooses to use Army in all these areas against Taliban, I doubt if the entire Army will be enough to deal with the situation. Casualties of innocent civilians and the number of internally displaced persons in such an eventuality also needs to be assessed. We need to go to the roots of the problem. Intelligence network needs to be expanded manifold to identify the sources of recruitment, and, monetary and material support of Taliban and their leadership. Elimination of these sources supporting Taliban and their leadership will go a long way to solve the problem. This is what Indians did to control the uprising by the Sikhs in in mid eighties.

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posted @ 8:47 PM, ,

Benazir Bhutto - Best Mother Award

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Late Benazir Bhutto was awarded The Best Mother Award by The world Population Federation.

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posted @ 8:40 PM, ,

Mobilizion of People - Military Operation in Swat Vs 1965 War

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Although all political parties and wide cross section of society have supported the ongoing military operation in Swat region, life goes on as usual all over the country except for a few efforts by the media and one odd organization to mobilize the masses. The gravity of the current military operation is no less than the 1965 War. Area under control of Taliban is more than we lost to India, in fact, we captured more Indian territory than the area captured by them. The displacement of people during 1965 War was certainly far less than one million expected during the current operation. Duration of the 1965 War was seventeen days. Current military operation is going to last many weeks, if not months. Casualties toll expected in the current operation combined with what Army has suffered in years of its fighting with Taliban is more than what it suffered in 1965 War. Why then, the motivation of the people to support the current operation is less than what it was during 1965 War? The leadership needs to ponder over this short coming and do something to back up the forces. And, we must not forget that the operation in Swat region is just the beginning, many such operations will be required all over the country to root out terrorism and Taliban.

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posted @ 10:40 PM, ,

Pakistan Declares All Out Military Offensive against Taliban. Mobilize the People!

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Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Yousaf Raza Gilani, in a live televised speech, announced an all out military offensive against Taliban in Swat and its adjoining areas. The military operation has, in fact, been on for a few days now. The Prime Minister asked the nation to support the operation as it was necessary for the sovereignty of Pakistan. By and large, the speech has been well received and almost all political parties and cross sections of society appear to be well disposed towards the military operation. However, contrary to this verbal support, neither the government nor the people of Pakistan seem to be poised towards mobilization on war footing which should have been the case. Government is yet to hold duly agreed to All Parties Conference which should have been held before the speech. There is a need to form a kitchen cabinet to oversee the military operation. Around one million people of Swat region are migrating to the adjoining areas. Except for the belated release of funds by the government and efforts by a few NGOs, people of Pakistan have not been geared to put in their bit to alleviate the sufferings of these internally displaced persons (IDPs). About four years ago Pakistan experienced the worst of the earthquakes since its independence. The entire nation came into action and everyone put in its bit to help out the affectees of the earthquake. The leadership of Pakistan should galvanize its people to alleviate the sufferings of the IDPs; an act which by itself would send a strong signal to Taliban and the IDPs alike about nation's resolve to meet the crisis upfront.

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posted @ 7:35 PM, ,

US, Pakistan and Afghanistan Once Again Vow to Fight Terrorism with Force (State Terrorism!)

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Presidents of USA, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mr.Barack Obama, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari and Mr. Karzai met in Washington and vowed to fight terrorism together. USA agreed to provide monetary and material support to both countries but made it conditional with the landmarks of progress by both countries. USA also served as an intermediary to ensure that Afghanistan and Pakistan cooperate with each other to achieve the common goal of cleansing their countries of Terrorists, particularly, belonging to Al-qaeda. America believes in and practices use of force as the only way to deal with the terrorists. The recent example being of the bombing in Afghanistan resulting in killing of around seventy Innocent civilians about which Ms.Hilary Clinton, US foreign secretary of state offered apologies and promised to conduct a joint inquiry. Neither her apology nor the joint inquiry is going to alleviate the sufferings of the affected families. Ever since the US invasion of Afghanistan in last eight years, soon after the episode of 9/11, thousands of Afghanis have been killed, many more injured/disabled and others migrated from one part of the country to the other besides four million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. Although to a lesser degree, so has been the case in Pakistan. Pakistan Army has over eighty thousand of it troops deployed along porous Pak Afghan border. There was none prior to American invasion of Afghanistan. Pakistan has lost around three thousand of its soldiers fighting terrorists who cross over to its soil from Afghanistan. NATO has around fifty thousand troops in Afghanistan. Despite repeated calls to fence the Pak Afghan border, neither America nor Afghanistan agreed to it. Perhaps, fencing of the border would have made the job of NATO troops more difficult; fighting terrorists within Afghanistan. It is universally agreed that terrorism is on the increase in stead of being on the back foot. More and more people in the affected areas are joining terrorists in stead of supporting the American and Afghan government moves in Afghanistan. If all these forces, resources, casualties of troops and civilians have not reduced terrorism and have, in stead increased the same, isn't there a need to find some other means to deal with the terrorists. Casualties of civilians have been many times more than that of the terrorists. Isn't it state terrorism?

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posted @ 9:20 PM, ,

Army Responds to Taliban in Swat

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In total violation of Swat truce, Taliban are back in Swat. They have been openly patrolling in the area, looting and killing locals and government officials alike, and occupying public and private property/buildings of their choice. They left no choice with the government but to move Army to Swat to deal with them. Over one million locals are expected to be migrating from Swat, Buner and Dir areas. It is hoped that this time government remains firm in its decision to cleanse the area off Taliban through military operations unlike earlier lukewarm attempts of use of force and negotiations.

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posted @ 6:59 PM, ,

Pakistan - Taliban are Back in Swat

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Army operations continue against Taliban in Buner, South of Swat with conflicting claims of casualties and gains/losses by both. It has been a week now; the time Army had thought it would require to cleanse Buner off Taliban. However, the progress seems to be slow. The truce between Sufi Muhammad of defunct TNSM (Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Muhammadi, translated in English as Movement for Enforcement of Islamic Law) and NWFP government doesn't appear to be holding on despite restraint on part of the government. Taliban have resumed their barbaric activities of looting, killing and blackmailing the locals and government officials alike. NWFP government appointed Qazis(Judges) to hold the office of Dar-ul-Qaza(High Court) as required vide Nizam-e-Adl regulation. Taliban do not agree to this appointment as they wanted this appointment to be done in consultation with Sufi Muhammad. It appears certain that Army will have to undertake another operation in Swat. This is what was predicted by this blogger at the time of Swat truce a few weeks ago. People of Swat have once again started migrating from Swat. Government, once again, appears to be least concerned about these migrants. People of Swat, Buner and other neighbouring areas consider Army and Taliban alike to be responsible for their miseries.

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posted @ 7:55 PM, ,


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