“A transfer of wealth of historic dimensions”


The new configuration of wealth and influence taking place in these days gives reason for serious concern. The price of oil, now as high as $100/barrel, is siphoning huge amounts of cash into the coffers of the oil producing countries. It has been announced that Abu Dhabi Investment Authority has bailed out troubled Citigroup by investing $7.5 billion in the company; it will become Citigroup’s largest shareholder. The same source (NYTimes) tells us that other powerful companies in the West are being invested in by corporations and individuals based in the wealthy oil-producing countries. Stock in such companies as Och-Ziff Capital Management, a hedge fund in New York and computer chip-maker, Advanced Micro Devices is being purchased. Flush with cash, the oil-producing companies are struggling to find where to put it all. Formerly, in the 1970s and 1980s, the Gulf states, especially the Saudis (government and wealthy individuals) deployed huge amounts of cash in Wahhabi mosques and schools around the world. Will they do this again?
The chairman of the PFC Energy company says “The oil-producing countries simply cannot absorb the amount of wealth they are generating, …. We are seeing a transfer of wealth of historic dimensions. It is not just Qatar and Abu Dhabi. Investment funds are being set up in places like Kazakhstan and Equatorial Guinea.” Most of this cash is being invested in the United States and Europe.

What will this mean for the future of the world? Already the influence of previous extravagant investments has reshaped the configuration of power in the world – to underwrite and empower non-state political movements, some of them anti-pathetic to Western society, some of them enabling and empowering unemployed young men in the cause of God, that is, in holy war. What will this new flood of wealth do to further tip the weight of power and influence toward organizations and movements committed to social conventions that clash with the conventional ideals of Western society? “نقل الثروة من ابعاد تاريخية” التشكيل الجديد للثروه والنفوذ التي تجري في هذه الايام يعطي يدعو الى القلق الشديد. سعر برميل النفط الآن مرتفعة دولار 100/barrel ، هو الاستيلاء على كميات ضخمة من النقد الى خزائن من البلدان المنتجة للنفط. وقد اعلنت الهيءه العامة للاستثمار في ابو ظبي وقد اطلق سراح بضمان اصل المضطربه سيتيغروب عن طريق استثمار 7،5 مليار دولار فى الشركة ؛ انها ستصبح سيتيغروب اكبر المساهمين فى هذه الشركة. المصدر نفسه (nytimes) يخبرنا ان الشركات القويه الأخرى في الغرب لا تستثمر في الشركات والافراد الاثرياء القائم في البلدان المنتجة للنفط. الاسهم في شركات مثل och – ziff ادارة رأس المال ، وهو سياج الصندوق في نيويورك وصانع رقاقة الحاسوب ، والاجهزه المتقدمه الدقيقة يجري شراؤها. الاحمرار مع النقدية ، والشركات المنتجة للنفط التي تكافح من اجل العثور فيها على حد تعبير جميع. سابقا ، في السبعينات والثمانينات ، ودول الخليج ، خصوصا المملكه العربية السعودية (الحكومة والافراد الاثرياء) وزعها على مبالغ ضخمة من النقد الوهابي في المساجد والمدارس في جميع أنحاء العالم. هل تستطيع أن تفعل ذلك مرة اخرى؟ رئيس مجلس ادارة شركة الطاقة البيرفلوروكربون يقول “ان البلدان المنتجة للنفط وببساطة ، لا يمكن استيعاب مبلغ وهم توليد الثروة ،…. نشهد نقل الثروة من أبعاد تاريخية. فهي ليست مجرد قطر وابو ظبي. صناديق الاستثمار يجري انشاؤها في مناطق مثل كازاخستان وغينيا الاستواءيه. “اكثر من هذا النقدية يتم استثمارها في الولايات المتحدة واوروبا. ماذا يعني ذلك بالنسبة لمستقبل العالم؟ بالفعل نفوذ مفرط الاستثمارات السابقة الى اعادة تشكيل تشكيل القوة فى العالم — لجعل وعدم تمكين الدولة من الحركات السياسية ، وبعضها المضاده للشفقة الى المجتمع الغربي ، وبعضهم تمكن من العاطلين وتمكين الشبان في قضية الله ، وهذا هو ، في الحرب المقدسة. كيف سيكون هذا الفيضان جديدة للثروه تفعل المزيد لنصيحه وزن السلطة والنفوذ في اتجاه المنظمات والحركات الاجتماعية ملتزمة بالاتفاقيات ان الصدام مع المثل التقليدي للمجتمع الغربي؟”財富轉移的歷史性層面” 新配置的財富和影響力正在發生的這些日子有理由嚴重關注。油價上漲,現在最高價100/barrel ,是消耗了大量的現金進入庫房的石油生產國。它已宣布,阿布扎比投資管理局已獲准保釋困擾花旗集團,投資額為75億元,在該公司,這將成為花旗集團的最大股東。同一消息來源( nytimes )告訴我們,其他強大的公司,在西正投入在由企業和個人根據在富裕的石油生產國。股市在這類公司作為och – ziff資本管理公司,對沖基金在紐約和電腦芯片製造商先進微設備公司都正在購置中。資金充裕,石油生產公司正在竭力尋找地方把各種技術。以前,在20世紀70年代和80年代,海灣國家,特別是沙特人(政府和富裕的個人)部署了巨額現金的瓦哈比清真寺和學校周圍的世界。他們這樣做嗎? 主席的PFC能源公司說: “石油生產國,根本不能吸收的數額,他們的財富中所生成的, … … 。我們正看到一個財富轉移的歷史層面。這不僅是卡塔爾和阿布扎比。投資基金正在成立,在地方一樣,哈薩克斯坦和赤道幾內亞” ,大部分的現金都投資在美國和歐洲。 請問這是否意味著,為世界的未來呢?已有的影響,以往奢侈的投資,改變了配置的世界大國-包底,並賦予非國家政治運動,他們中的一些人的反悲情,以西方社會,他們中的一些人有利和扶持失業青年男女在事業上帝,那就是在神聖的戰爭。如何將這種新的洪水的財富做進一步打破重量的權力和影響力,對組織和運動致力於社會公約中的衝突與傳統的理想的西方社會?”А передача богатства исторических аспектов” В новой конфигурации богатства и влияния, происходящие в эти дни дает основания для серьезного беспокойства. Цена на нефть, в настоящее время превышает $ 100/barrel, является siphoning огромные суммы наличных денег в казну из нефтедобывающих стран. Было объявлено о том, что Абу-Даби Инвестиционный орган прыгнул из неспокойных Ситигруп путем инвестирования 7,5 млрд. долл. США в компании, она станет Ситигруп крупнейшего акционера. Тот же источник (NYTimes) рассказывает нам о том, что другие мощные компании на Западе в настоящее время инвестиции в корпорации, и отдельных лиц, базирующихся в богатых странах-производителях нефти. Фондовый в таких компаниях, как Оч-Зифф Capital Management, один хедж-фонд, в Нью-Йорке и компьютерных чипов-мейкер, Advanced Micro Devices в настоящее время закуплено. Флеш с наличными, в нефтедобывающих компаний борются, чтобы найти, где поставить это все. Ранее, в 1970 и 1980s, с государствами Персидского залива, особенно в Саудовской Аравии (государственные и состоятельных физических лиц) развернуты огромные суммы наличных денег в ваххабитские мечети и школы во всем мире. Будут ли они сделать это еще раз? Председатель Совета ПФУ Энергетическая компания говорит: “В нефтедобывающих стран просто не могут покрыть сумму богатства они производят,…. Мы являемся свидетелями передачи богатства исторических масштабов. Это не просто Катаром и Абу-Даби. Инвестиционные фонды создаются в местах, как Казахстан, Экваториальная Гвинея. “Большая часть этой денежной наличности в настоящее время инвестиции в Соединенных Штатах и Европе. Что это будет означать для будущего мира? Уже влияние предыдущих экстравагантных инвестиций изменили конфигурацию сил в мире – для себя и расширение прав и возможностей негосударственных политических движений, некоторые из них по борьбе с жалким для западного общества, некоторые из них благоприятных возможностей и безработных молодых мужчин в дело Бог, то есть, в священной войне. Каким будет этот новый поток богатства сделать для дальнейшего оконечности вес власти и влияния на деятельность организаций и движений, совершенных социальных конвенций, что столкновение с обычными идеалы западного общества?”Una transferencia de la riqueza de dimensiones históricas” La nueva configuración de la riqueza y la influencia que tienen lugar en estos días es motivo de grave preocupación. El precio del petróleo, ahora tan alto como $ 100/barrel, es reabsorción enormes cantidades de dinero en efectivo a las arcas de los países productores de petróleo. Se ha anunciado que la Autoridad de Inversiones de Abu Dhabi ha sacado de apuros a cabo mediante la inversión de Citigroup en dificultades $ 7,5 mil millones en la empresa, sino que se convertirá en el mayor accionista de Citigroup. La misma fuente (NYTimes) nos dice que otras poderosas empresas en el Occidente se están invirtiendo en las empresas y los particulares por la base en los ricos países productores de petróleo. Stock en compañías como Och-Ziff Capital Management, un fondo de cobertura de Nueva York y chip-maker, Advanced Micro Devices está siendo comprado. Enjuagar con dinero en efectivo, los productores de petróleo empresas tienen dificultades para encontrar dónde colocar todo. Anteriormente, en los años 1970 y 1980, los estados del Golfo, especialmente los sauditas (gobierno y personas ricas) desplegado enormes cantidades de dinero en efectivo en Wahhabi mezquitas y escuelas de todo el mundo. ¿Van a hacer esto de nuevo? El presidente de la compañía PFC Energy dice: “El petróleo de los países productores simplemente no puede absorber la cantidad de riqueza que generan,…. Estamos viendo una transferencia de riqueza de dimensiones históricas. No se trata sólo de Qatar y Abu Dhabi. Los fondos de inversión se están creando en lugares como Kazajstán y Guinea Ecuatorial. “La mayor parte de este dinero se está invirtiendo en los Estados Unidos y Europa. ¿Qué significará esto para el futuro del mundo? Ya la influencia de las inversiones anteriores extravagante ha reformado la configuración del poder en el mundo – para respaldar y potenciar a las entidades no estatales movimientos políticos, algunos de ellos anti-patético a la sociedad occidental, algunas de ellas, la activación y la potenciación de jóvenes desempleados en la causa de la Dios, esto es, en la guerra santa. ¿Cómo será esta nueva inundación de la riqueza para hacer más punta el peso del poder y la influencia hacia las organizaciones y movimientos comprometidos con las convenciones sociales que chocan con los ideales convencionales de la sociedad occidental?

A Mullah Dies, and War Comes Knocking

Sarah Chayes is not new to the situation in southern Afghanistan, which makes her reports especially valuable. She is less likely to be taken in by her sources — each of which has an agenda and a perspective in Afghanistan — so she is more able to discern the nuances of Afghanistan’s complex social world. I prefer her analysis of affairs to those of journalists who have less experience there. Sarah has been burned enough by her mistakes in the area — or rather by those who have used her and misled her — to bring a discerning eye to events there.
RLC

The Washington Post
By Sarah Chayes

“Arghandab district, with its riot of tangled fruit trees, is the lung of Kandahar province; its meandering, stone-studded river is the artery of the whole region.”
“Mullah Naqib fought the Soviets from his base in Arghandab; they were never able to dislodge the mujahideen from this place. As the Taliban gathered strength and insolence recently, they would contact the mullah from time to time, trying to strike a deal, telling him that they wished him no ill, but just to pass through Arghandab. He would bellow his retort. He would get on the radio and vow by God that if they dared set foot inside his Arghandab, the whole population would rise up. And thus he held his fractious, disgruntled tribesmen firm against them. A week after the mullah’s death, Zmarai, the district police chief, received a phone call at 1 a.m. ‘You’re alone now that Mullah Naqib is gone,’ said the voice on the line.”
“On Monday, Oct. 29 … Taliban were in Chahar Ghulba, his racing words announced, Mullah Naqib’s home village. They were in his very house. Their commanders were meeting in the village mosque, and they were thick in the country all around.”
“On the base the next day, I found a quietly exultant mood of work well done: NATO troops had responded, the Afghan National Army had responded, and some villages had been retaken, with significant Taliban casualties. The beginnings of a noose had been arrayed around the rest.”
“What had in fact transpired, in my view, was a deft, successful psychological operations action by the Taliban. Their attack on Arghandab was designed to communicate, and it did — eloquently. It said that they are here.”

Arrested suicide bomber is Pakistani national: security official

The evidences that Pakistan is the primary source of the violent activity in Afghanistan just keep piling up. In the mean time the Pakistan government wants to believe that the problem is essentially among the Pushtuns of Afghanistan. That there are complaints among the Afghanistan peoples is one thing; that they are bent on violent overthrow of the Kabul regime is something else. Of course, by Pakistan we don’t mean the government; we mean elements within the borders of the country who are actively working against the Kabul government. It seems clear that Pakistan has never had much of a grip on affairs in the Northwest Frontier Province. Which means it has become a festering sore for both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and could become a source of contagion for the whole region.
RLC

Pajhwok Afghan News

“Security officials Monday claimed that the arrested suicide attacker was a Pakistani national.”
“The suicide bomber was arrested early morning on Monday in an abortive attempt to blow up a group of 20 soldiers of Afghan National Army”
“[Gen. Mohammad Salim] Ihsas said the attacker had placed ten kilos of explosive materials
in his jacket and was trying to embark a 303 men staff vehicle of Kabul Military Training Center.”
“spokesman of the Defense Ministry termed today’s incident a good example of the best coordination between police force and Afghan National Army. He said that terrorism was an international menace and the fact that the attacker belonged to Pakistan did not mean he was sent by the Pakistan government.”

Tribal Trouble

Gwynne Dyer’s sources for an understanding of the Taliban seem to be Pushtun. She believes that the Taliban are a force because the Pushtuns of Afghanistan have been shut out of the system. Certainly the Taliban are an essentially Pushtun movement but it seems to me it is not merely an ethnic movement, as it has been supported and even trained by Al Qaeda elements, whose agendas are more universal than Pushtun sovereignty. Below is a summary of Dyer’s article; Since we cannot be on the ground it is worth at least listening to what she has to say. RLC

Egypt Today
By Gwynne Dyer

“Fighting with the Taliban will not cease until Afghanistan’s largest minority, the Pashtun, are welcomed into the leadership fold”
“Washington had the wit to make Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun from a clan that never had much to do with the Taliban, its puppet president in Kabul, but this didn’t carry through. Instead they froze out the prominent Pashtun political and religious leaders who had had dealings with the Taliban — which was, of course, almost all of them.”
“The United States had so closely identified the Taliban with Al-Qaeda (even though bin Laden probably never told the Taliban leadership what he was planning) that it would not talk to Pashtun leaders who had been linked to the Taliban. Six years after the `invasion that
wasn’t,’ the Pashtuns are still largely frozen out. That is why the Taliban are coming back.”
“Afghanistan has usually been run by regional and tribal warlords with little central control; nothing new there. But now it is also a country where the biggest minority has been largely excluded from power by foreign invaders who sided with the smaller minorities and then blocked the process of accommodation by which the various Afghan ethnic groups normally make power-sharing deals.”

One more headache for Musharraf: Nawaz Sharif is coming back

According to a special report of the Guardian [11/24/07], ‘ Ahsan Iqbal, a spokesman for Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N party, said the Saudis … “don’t want Saudi Arabia to become an election issue in Pakistan. They conveyed to Nawaz Sharif that there’s no reason why we should keep him.” So Sharif has to go somewhere. He is returning to Pakistan, as if to again challenge Musharraf to throw him out again, as he did only a few weeks ago. One more development putting pressure on Musharraf. We keep wondering how Musharraf can rule when there are so many indications of his general unpopularity among the Pakistani people and of the outright opprobrium of the international community. That he persists says something about his pride; it also reveals something about the ability of an organized, disciplined army to stay in power. Musharraf is the face of the army, which is now and has always been a crucial player if not the one most crucial player in Pakistani politics. These affairs expose how preposterous is his claim that he has to crack down on the middle class in order get control of the extreme Islamist elements in his country. For here it looks like his problems with those elements are a creation of his own willingness to play with fire, to tolerate such radical elements while appearing to be a leader in the “war on terror”.

Commentaries on the situation in Pakistan


The latest issue of The Friday Times has two commentaries on the situation in Pakistan that are worth passing on. Najam Sethi is the editor and because he has been willing to face abuse by the government for his views so I take him seriously. Rasul Bakhsh Rais, author of the second article, is a long time observer, a respected academic and politically astute observer. What he has to say also should be given a careful hearing. Because The Friday Times is only available by subscription [but a mere $25 / year] many people don’t have access to it, so we digest it here for the benefit of readers. But it is worth the minimal amount to pay the subscription fee.
RLC

Bringing them in to keep them out?
Najam Sethi

“Given General Pervez Musharraf’s rising unpopularity, many people want to know when the army high command will ask him to quit and hand over power to the civilians. But few have paused to ask if this is at all possible”
“Indeed, the opposite may well be true – that … General Musharraf is so comfortable with the corps commanders and they with him that they jointly do not countenance any reduction in his clout even after he quits as army chief and becomes a civilian president.”
“General Musharraf’s insistence that he will quit as army chief after he becomes president even before the general elections are held [as] significant. If he were weak or tottering, surely he would cling to his uniform instead of voluntarily taking it off”
“as a civilian president he expects to retain the support of the Pakistan army. What is the source of his confidence?”
“the current army high command, for the first time in history, is deeply apprehensive of the internal -security dangers faced by the Pakistani state rather than the external ones which they have been trained to confront. These include the seizure of large swathes of Pakistani territory by Talibanised elements,insurgency in Balochistan, Al-Qaida inspired Islamist terrorism, simmering jihadism and the presence of American-Coalition troops in Afghanistan”
“In this unprecedented ‘failing state’ syndrome, the army as state-guarantor is not inclined to brook too many ‘democratic’ or“civilian” solutions in view of two factors: the dismal performance of the civilians in the past, and the certainty of divisive, fractured and ineffectual politics in the future.”
“This analysis suggests that attempts to find an ‘exit strategy’ for General Musharraf via an internal military or judicial coup against him in the expectation that it will pave the way to a functioning civilian democracy may not bear immediate fruit.”

The state of the state in Pakistan
Rasul Bakhsh Rais

“Judging the Pakistani state on the democratic-authoritarian spectrum is not difficult now that the veneer of democratic transition has disappeared and a fifth martial law is upon us”
“State and nation-building have failed to take into account the question of ethnic diversity. There is hardly any normative legal framework to move diverse populations toward one political direction with an inherent stake in the state. The pragmatic state formation process has been substituted by idealistic notions of nationalism that are not grounded in political reality. To provide a solid basis for a nation-state would have required three important ingredients – autonomy, representation and empowerment.”
“The ideology of the state, at least in the economic sphere, follows neo-liberalism with blind faith, and without any consideration given to the nature of Pakistani society where the gap between the rich and the poor is too wide. There has been economic growth but the largest share of that has been concentrated in the upper classes, leaving the majority at the mercy of market forces, which are more manipulated than free.”
“The issue of the state’s capacity to govern effectively provokes anger in the ruling establishment. This happens when ruling elites lose touch with reality. The whole world is genuinely interested in seeing … the state and its institutions to be effective. But this will require not coercive means, which under some conditions have to be applied, but also popular legitimacy and social approval, which the power-obsessed ruling elites are not willing to work for.”
“There are only two ways to move out of the clear and present dangers that face us. First, the ruling group has to admit its mistake in imposing what is effectively martial law and further damaging the state. Recent steps taken after the imposition of emergency rule need to be retracted and the pre-Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) status restored … Second, the social movement … needs to mature into a social revolution. This may or may not happen, but the social mobilisation that is taking place … is a sign that some changes may soon come about in the character of the Pakistani state.”

Fighting Afghanistan’s other war

Rich Corsino has given us a different picture of what is happening to the people of Afghanistan. Kandahar is close to the center of the most contested area of the country and yet the progress in literacy and especially among women has been encouraging. As he notes, this is not very glitzy but the provision of this service to the country will make the difference between success or failure in the struggle against the Taliban.

RLC
Rick Corsino
National Post
“I was recently in Kandahar City, where the news bulletins will tell you the heart of the Afghan insurgency lies.”
“I was most struck by the literacy projects I visited, where I spent time with some of the poorest women in Afghanistan”
“The mix of unending conflict, poverty and strict cultural mores governing the role of women in society has meant they have led extraordinarily difficult lives.”
“Through the hard work of local Afghan government officials, who build trust within the community about the content of the curriculum taught in the learning centres, and thanks to the funding to buy food which acts as a powerful incentive, these women are now being allowed out of the home.”
“Those I met talked about the confidence they have in being able to read signs in the street … But most significantly, they said they had more respect in their family and community as they now had some education and were contributing food.”
“As military forces from many countries challenge insurgents opposed to the fledgling Afghan government, aid agencies from the same countries are contributing to security in a far quieter, but just as critical way. They are helping alleviate hunger in Afghanistan.”
“Few people know there is a hunger problem in Afghanistan.”
“Despite the worsening security, which has made our operations far more difficult to deliver, most donor countries have realized the benefits in supporting food assistance. In the short term, we are supporting the chronically poor, as well as those displaced by fighting. But in the long term we are coaxing well over a million kids back to school with daily rations.”

Can the world bear the loss of Pakistani territory to Al Qaeda?

Khaled Ahmed’s article in the latest Friday Times [Nov 9-15, 2007] reveals, again, a sense of despair about Pakistan. One wonders how pervasive this kind of thinking is in Paksitan.
Because The Friday Times is not openly available on the web [but the cost for online subscription is nominal] I here quote more liberally than I normally might. What I read here is a sense of doubt about whether Pakistan can in fact adequately deal with its issues, even whether it can survive. Note that it is not Musharraf’s situation and behavior that specifically causes the despair, although the General’s problems are undoubtedly the background for this statement; nor is it Benazir Bhutto, whose presence in the public discourse of the country has been inescapable, and whose popularly constitutes an implicit challenge to the current regime. The issue for Ahmed is far more fundamental. The crisis surrounding Musharraf is merely symptomatic of something more fundamental. Pakistan is at risk. A nuclear power at risk? Is its territory, as Ahmed says, already “lost” to Al Qaeda?
Can the world bear this? “Democratic dream and crisis of the state” by Khaled Ahmed
. . . In Pakistan, loss of territory is now more or less acknowledged. The next phase of acknowledgment has yet to come: that territory has been lost to someone who wants to create another state at the expense of Pakistan’s territorial integrity.

. . . .Territory is being lost to Muslim warriors who have better Islamic credentials than the state in Pakistan. That is why it is difficult for the mind of the state to formulate a new threat perception. . . .

Al Qaeda [is] looking for state of its own: Loss of territory to the likes of Baitullah Mehsud and Fazlullah means a chunk of Pakistan from where attacks are being launched into nextdoor Afghanistan . . . [Pakistan] has reacted in a variety of ways: by denying the presence of the Taliban who attack across the border, or by counter-attacking the Kabul government and accusing it of all sorts of evil designs, . . .
That Al Qaeda is in search of a state of its own is known to the world. The last time it tried to gain a foothold inside a state was in Somalia in 2006. The sharia there was of the Arab variety and very close to what the Taliban want. The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), dispensing a wide variety of adjudication based on contradictory but legitimate sources of jurisprudence, set up its own legally fractured government, only to arouse alarm in the neighbourhood. The United States got ‘Christian’ Ethiopia to invade Somalia and put the Islamic warriors – some of them hailing from Pakistan – to flight.
. . . [W]hile patriotic Pakistanis defiantly oppose the label of ‘failed state’, there are signs of intervention that we can hardly ignore. Drones flown from the US have been attacking suspected Al Qaeda hideouts inside Pakistani territory. Latest reports from North Waziristan speak of drones overflying territory that is virtually lost to Pakistan. [There has even been an] ‘offer’ of US forces ‘to fight the Taliban elements in the Tribal Areas and Swat’ by the US Central Command (Centcom) chief, . . . . It is quite clear what direction the national crisis is taking. The central crisis is not democracy and civil-military relations, but the survival of the state and, ironically, within the consensus that wishes to ignore the state are also those who actually want the federation to come to an end. The nation agrees on nothing: If the state collapses, the sub-nationalists will all get their rights. The NWFP will repossess its hydroelectric assets that it can earn rental from; Balochistan will repossess its gas reserves and get rich by selling them at the global market, and Sindh will take its rightful cut from the revenues accruing from its industrial base and its ports. That leaves Punjab as the rump that will be forced to look towards India differently. The crisis of the state of Pakistan hinges on an increasing lack of national consensus over the federation. The Constitution is under rejection in various ways depending on who is looking at it. And there is foreign invasion by Al Qaeda that looks like internal reform aimed at fulfilling the Islamic dream.

Musharraf’s true colors: Should he be subject to law?

Once in a while an apparently ordinary institution that is the actual mechanism of social control in a society reveals its true character. The violent attacks on the demonstrating monks in Myanmar last September demonstrated how far the military junta will go to suppress all dissent in the face of international condemnation and sanctions. And the seizure of the vital instruments of public expression in Pakistan by General Pervez Musharraf on November 3 demonstrates a desperate grasp for control despite rising opposition. The measures taken – replacing the Supreme Court with compliant judges who recognize his new regime, shutting down all independent and international television stations, imprisoning hundreds of notables, warning the public against demonstrations – expose the actual nature of his regime: it is a dictatorship. But like all dictators General Musharraf craves legitimacy and so deploys the international language of legitimacy, “democracy”, to justify what he does. Musharraf calls his new powers a “provisional constitutional order” whose purpose is to limit “terrorist attacks” and “preserve the democratic transition that I initiated eight years back.” “Limit terrorism”, “preserve democracy” – these are the terms a regime must deploy to justify the exercise of power in the contemporary world. Emphasizing the justness of his act for the benefit of his American sponsors, Musharraf cited Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of citizen’s rights during the Civil War. And with a bizarre irony he said yesterday, of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, whom Musharraf accuses of corruption, “Nobody is above the law.” Except the dictator himself. His dramatic move was prompted by the imminent likelihood that the Supreme Court would rule against his bid to be elected President while holding military office. Musharraf pre-emptively turned the tables on the Court, accusing it of undermining the democratic process that he had “initiated.” Rather than promoting democracy, he says, the Court has stood against the democratization project, demoralized Pakistan’s security forces, weakened the struggle against terrorism, and slowed the advance of democracy. So his assumption of power was, like his first coup d’etat, a move to protect a “democratic” process in Pakistan. It is the measures taken against the Supreme Court and the leaders of the opposition that expose how non-democratic his coup is: police surrounded the homes of the Supreme Court justices, blocked journalists from access to them, disconnected telephone lines, and jammed local cell phones. Moreover, Musharraf demanded that all justices under the new regime grant him the “constitutional” authority to rule, and that the media never subject him or his administration to ridicule or disrepute. Such measures bear no resemblance to the “democracy” that he espouses. He has replaced a constitutional system with a dictatorship. It is easy to condemn such behavior; the contradictions and hypocrisy are transparent. But no society is immune from it, for power holders, even in the West, wrap their behavior in moralistic terms. Claiming to struggle against terror, to act in the public interest, to stand for virtue and truth and against corruption, political figures give themselves legitimacy, even as some may be inclined to exploit the sinews of power to their own advantage, spinning their own “truth” so as to win public support and acceptance in the community of nations. In its blatant form the fundamental maxim is simple: do what you must in order to hold power, and enshrine your behavior with moralisms like “human rights”, “the war on terror”, and “democracy”. No one is immune to such devices, for the fundamental source is a universal human weakness, hubris. Musharraf is turning out to be a pathetic figure after all, for his ego may have outrun reality. Public outrage was immediate and has not abated. Thousands of lawyers are demonstrating in the streets at the risk brutal beatings by the police. Benazir Bhutto promises to bring out her followers in a few days. And Musharraf’s attempts to muzzle all opposition have apparently failed: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, though house-bound, gave an address via telephone to the crowds of lawyers demonstrating on his behalf; human rights advocate Asma Jahangir, despite house arrest, immediately published a critique of the Musharraf coup for the Independent. The question now seems to be how long Musharraf can hold on, assuming he does not resort to the full-scale brutality of the Myanmar military junta. Eventually, even he will have to be subjected to the law of the land.

Foreign militants bolstering Taliban’s ranks as never before

Yes, it is becoming ever more clear that ensconced in Western Pakistan, in the Tribal Areas, is a military coalition that is essentially alien to the region.
RLC

By David Rohde
New York Times

“The largest influx of foreign fighters since 2001 hails from such countries as Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Chechnya.”
“Afghan police officers working a highway checkpoint near Gardez noticed something odd recently about a passenger in a red pickup truck … a 27-year-old man from Siberia with a flowing red beard, pasty skin and piercing blue eyes. Inside the truck was 1,000 pounds of explosives.”
” the Siberian intended to be a suicide bomber, one of several hundred foreign militants who have gravitated to the region to fight alongside the Taliban this year — the largest influx since 2001.”
“The foreign fighters are not only bolstering the ranks of the insurgency. They are more violent, uncontrollable and extreme than even their locally bred allies”
“They are also helping change the face of the Taliban from a movement of hard-line Afghan religious students into a loose network that now includes a growing number of foreign militants as well as disgruntled Afghans and drug traffickers”
“Foreign fighters are coming from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Chechnya, various Arab countries and perhaps also Turkey and western China, Afghan and U.S. officials say.”
“Their growing numbers point to the worsening problem of lawlessness in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which they use as a base to train alongside Al-Qaida militants who have carried out terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Europe, according to Western diplomats.”