Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Aust-Pakistan Accord?

Fascist PRIME Minister John HoWARd will sign an agreement with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf today.

General Musharraf is in Australia for a three-day visit and will officially meet Mr Howard in Canberra today to sign the agreement and discuss trade issues.

Pakistan: the failing Seam State of note

"Pakistan Without Illusions," editorial, New York Times, 9 July, p. A18. No comment required on this one. It's just a great but very sobering NYT editorial that follows in full:

Pakistan Without Illusions

Pakistan's military dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has done such a good job of repackaging himself as a vital American ally against radical Islamic terrorism that it is easy to forget how alarming Washington rightly found so many of General Musharraf's policies not very long ago.

He crushed Pakistani democracy, was, at the least, recklessly indifferent to safeguards against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and supported the Taliban and the terrorist groups active in Indian-ruled areas of Kashmir.

General Musharraf publicly broke with the Taliban almost three years ago, but there has been inadequate progress on many of the other issues, and Pakistan has recently appeared to be backsliding on the Taliban.

Many of the biggest dangers America faces over the next few decades are present in General Musharraf's Pakistan, starting with the way arbitrary dictatorships like his have become dangerous pressure cookers of discontent across the Muslim world.

Ever since he seized power in a 1999 coup, General Musharraf has promised an early return to electoral democracy. Almost five years later, he still shows no inclination to share or yield power eventually, and he still derives his authority solely from control of the Army.

Leading civilian politicians remain banned. Even the powerless prime minister named to add a veneer of electoral legitimacy to military rule was fired last month for proving insufficiently docile.

The spread of nuclear weapons to a lengthening list of erratic and belligerent countries rightly terrifies Americans. Now we know that the man who helped develop nuclear weapons for Pakistan, Abdul Qadeer Khan, was the international godfather of rogue nuclear programs, helping countries like Iran, Libya and North Korea acquire nuclear bomb technology and materials.

Earlier this year, under strong American pressure, Pakistan questioned and then pardoned Dr. Khan. This questioning yielded important clues about several countries' secret nuclear efforts. But there is no way of knowing for sure how high Dr. Khan's protection went and whether his nuclear arms bazaar is now truly closed.

Pakistan's relationship to radical Islamic terrorism remains dangerously ambiguous. Historically, military leaders, including General Musharraf, openly used the Taliban and terrorist groups in Kashmir to advance Pakistan's strategic objectives.

That is now supposed to have stopped. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, General Musharraf broke ties with the Taliban government and let Washington use bases on Pakistani soil to support the invasion of Afghanistan. Recently, he sent Pakistan's Army into the tribal territories bordering Afghanistan, in a not tremendously successful effort to hunt down Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. But General Musharraf still lets Taliban leaders operate and recruit elsewhere on that border.

This year, General Musharraf promised to end the infiltration of insurgents from Pakistani territory into the Indian-ruled part of Kashmir. He seems to be keeping his word, but he has not taken on the groups that train and arm these militants.

General Musharraf is not an apocalyptic zealot like Osama bin Laden, an erratic recluse like North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, or a public vilifier of America, like Iran's ruling clerics. But neither is he a convinced or convincing ally in the struggle against radical Islamic terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation and destructive dictatorship.

You can call Musharraf a good man in a tough spot and live with the illusion that Pakistan is somehow logically counted among our allies in a global war on terrorism, or you can look at the country without illusions and see a failed state ruling over a failing society. Pakistan is a Seam State in geography only; otherwise one should logically count it among those states deeply lost to the Gap.

During his talks with Mr Howard, Gen Musharraf will ask for Australian assistance to help Pakistan exploit its extensive mineral resources, as well as to develop food processing industries.

Pakistan also wants to grab a greater share of Australia's huge appetite for textiles, currently dominated by China.

Gen Musharraf will also hold talks with Opposition Leader Kim Beazley today before flying to Sydney to meet Fascist Premier Bob Carr.

His final official engagement will be an address to the Asia Society in Sydney on Thursday before he flies to New Zealand.

Illustration: Pakistan approaches boiling point

The US State Department's recent report "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The US Record 2004-2005" has added salt to the wounds. Parts of the report are blunt. They state that the Pakistani military remains heavily engaged in politics, the government's human-rights record remains poor, and political parties are generally weak, with undemocratic institutions centered on personalities instead of policies.

The judiciary also came in for criticism as being "corrupt, inefficient and malleable to political pressure". It also said "politically motivated prosecutions of opposition figures continue, as do concerns that opposition leaders or their parties are not always allowed to function freely ... Security forces have committed numerous human-rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and torture. Societal discrimination and violence against women and religious minorities persist."

By Rendition 15 June 05


Chomsky signs on for justice
For five months in 2003, Jack Thomas was held in a Pakistan military prison where he was tortured by the CIA and the Pakistan Secret Service. Jack was returned to Australia without being charged. Seventeen months later he was arrested on November 18, 2004 by Australian Federal Police and charged with receiving funds from a terrorist organisation, providing support to a terrorist organisation and traveling on a false passport.

Tampering with Asylum
Brennan provides a significant amount of factual material to inform the debate. For example, next time someone suggests to you there is a queue for asylum seekers, consider that the Australian High Commission in Islamabad in Pakistan in 2000-2001 issued only 109 humanitarian visas to Afghans fleeing persecution. Or that in 2001, Australia received only 12,400 asylum claims in comparison to 92, 000 claims over the same period in the United Kingdom.

CIA defends terror suspect transfers?
Former Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib, who was arrested in Pakistan several weeks after September 11 attacks [US false flags] and was then transferred to Egypt and Guantanamo Bay, says he was tortured while in custody by US, Egyptian and Pakistani authorities.

Lawyer claims Al Qaeda suspect's evidence tainted!
Before returning to Australia last year, Thomas was arrested and held in custody for five months by Pakistani authorities before being released without charge.

Bomb kills 30 at Pakistani rally
At least 30 people have been killed and as many wounded in a powerful bomb explosion at a religious rally in the central Pakistani city of Multan, police and ambulance workers said.

Mamdouh Habib: Taunted and Tortured!
Four Corners [Walls]: Terrorist - or Taunted by the Australian Defence Force who sacked him as a cleaning contractor? Who is Mamdouh Habib? And why was he harassed by the Australian Federal Police? Then tagged and labelled as a spy? Why was he vilified by the community? When he fled to Pakistan how did he end up being tortured in Egypt? And how did he end up at Guantanamo prison camp reserved for the men America calls "the worst of the worst.

Lashkar-e-Tayiba - Blow Up or Beat Up
Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Tayiba has been branded a terrorist organisation by Australia, the US and Pakistan. It's been accused of being part of the al-Qa'ida network and of planning attacks in Australia.