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Monday, 13 July 2009

Obama's new "AfPak" strategy

Karachi, Pakistan - People with a hammer only see nails. This well-worn maxim aptly describes the United States' relationship with Afghanistan and Pakistan over the past several decades. As early as 1954, the United States identified the country as a bulwark against regional encroachment by the Soviet Union when Pakistan received its first substantial tranche of American military and economic aid.

When US President Barack Obama announced the new "AfPak" (Afghanistan-Pakistan) policy last month, there were hopes that the hammer-and-nails approach – which saw unaccounted billions in military aid showered on the Pakistan army with the assumption that it alone could bring stability – would be shelved. It will take time to fully assess if it has been.

The new AfPak policy promises a more focused approach in a number of ways.

The most obvious is the physical shift from Iraq to Afghanistan. Under George W. Bush the United States had an uncoordinated strategy in Afghanistan, enabling the Taliban, defeated in 2001 and again in 2002, to first recover and then re-emerge. From 2004 onwards the Taliban and two independent allied commanders – Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbaddin Hekmatyar – swept into large swathes of southern and eastern Afghanistan and parts of northern Afghanistan in a series of spring and summer offensives.

The idea of negotiating with less extremist elements in the Taliban in Afghanistan was based upon the experience of US and British forces in Iraq, where Sunni militias were paid and trained to fight their former Al Qaeda allies.

The aim of the new differentiation between Al Qaeda and the Taliban is to seek out what has been widely termed "moderate" Taliban. The earlier strategy of treating Al Qaeda and the Taliban as synonymous has brought these two diverse entities closer together, both ideologically and practically. Al Qaeda earned access to one of the most isolated regions on the planet – Waziristan in Pakistan – and the Taliban, who before 2002 had little or no experience in guerrilla warfare or suicide attacks, learnt insurgency techniques. These days Taliban suicide attacks are a weekly occurrence.

For the more extremist elements in the Taliban and for Al Qaeda, the new AfPak policy promises an escalation, rather than a major tactical shift by the United States. Missile strikes are expected to increase in scope and regularity within Pakistan, even though Obama promised that operations would only be conducted with Pakistan's permission.

The dilemma for Pakistan's army with the new policy is two-fold. First, it must cooperate with the United States in its pursuit of Taliban in tribal areas to root out extremism and the militant threat in the area. Military and non-military aid to Pakistan promises to be more intricately tied to such cooperation than ever before. Second, the army will either have to get hard on the Taliban that it nurtured for so long in the 1980s or risk Pakistan's international isolation.

While Pakistan's infrastructure will surely get a makeover, it will be challenging to develop institutional and social capacity in Pakistan.

Whether there will be a marked improvement in standards of living remains to be seen – the United Nations Human Development Report for 2007-08 conservatively estimates that almost 33 percent of Pakistanis live in poverty.

The most welcome aspect of the new policy is the emphasis on Afghanistan and Pakistan's civil institutions over individual leaders like Hamid Karzai and Pervez Musharraf. In what many have described as a "civilian surge", both countries will receive massive injections of cash, projects and experts. Development aid for new schools, roads and clinics has been targeted for Pakistan's tribal areas, around 7.5 billion US dollars in non-military aid over five years if the Kerry-Lugar bill passes through US Congress.

"Reconstruction opportunity zones", aimed at facilitating development and foreign investment by offering reduced tariffs and other taxes, are also proposed for those areas along the Pak-Afghan border that are most afflicted by Talibanisation. The hope is that by creating a free trade and industry zone, employment opportunities will attract young men away from the Taliban.

The AfPak policy cannot succeed unless the poverty upon which the militants prey is addressed. No matter what promises Washington, Brussels or Islamabad makes, the simple things like poverty which continue to pose the greatest challenges for ordinary Pakistanis need to be overcome in order to instil faith in a better society based on pluralism, democracy and equal rights.

ایران کے مذہبی طبقوں میں اختلافات

ایران کے متنازعہ صدارتی انتخاب سے مذہبی طبقے کے مختلف گروپوں کے درمیان اختلافات کُھل کر سامنے آ گئے ہیں۔قدامت پسند مذہبی علما نے صدر محمود احمدی نژاد کے انتخاب کا خیر مقدم کیا ہے جب کہ اصلاح پسند رہنماوں نے انتخاب کےنتائج پر تنقید کی ہے۔

ایران میں قُم کا شہر اسلامی علوم کا مرکز ہے ۔ چنانچہ جب قُم سے علماء کے ایک گروپ نے ایک بیان جاری کیا جس میں ایران کے صدارتی انتخاب کے نتائج اور موجودہ حکومت کی قانونی حِیثیت پر تنقید کی گئی تھی، تو دنیا بھر میں حیرت کا اظہار کیا گیا۔

بعض نیوز ایجنسیوں نے کہا کہ مذہبی طبقے اور رہبر اعلی آیت اللہ علی خامنہ ای کے درمیان رسہ کشی شروع ہو گئی ہے ۔جن علما ء نے یہ تنقیدی بیان جاری کیا ہے ان کا تعلق اصلاحات پسند علماء کے گروپ سے ہے ۔چنانچہ اس تنقیدی بیان پر کسی کو حیرت نہیں ہوئی ۔ تجزیہ کار کہتے ہیں کہ اگرچہ علماء اور رہبر اعلی کے درمیان کھلم کھلا تصادم کی بات کرنا ابھی قبل از وقت ہے، تا ہم اس متنازعہ انتخاب سے مذہبی طبقے کے درمیان سیاسی اختلافات کُھل کر سامنے آ گئے ہیں۔

Jane's Information Group کے مشرق وسطیِ کے تجزیہ کارAlex Vatanka کہتے ہیں کہ علماء کی طرف سے کوئی بھی ایسا بیان جس میں انتخابات کے جائز ہونے پر شک و شبہ کے اظہار کیا گیا ہو بڑا اہم ہے یہ بات بڑی اہم ہے کہ بعض شیعہ مذہبی علماء یہ کہہ رہے ہیں کہ شورائے نگہبان انتخاب کے نتائج کی تصدیق کرنے یعنی اپنے وہ فرائض انجام دینے کی اہل نہیں ہے جو اسے آئین کے تحت انجام دینے چاہیئں۔جو لوگ یہ باتیں کہہ رہے ہیں وہ کوئی معمولی لوگ نہیں ہیں۔ وہ یہ باتیں باہر بیٹھ کر نہیں کہہ رہے ہیں بلکہ وہ ایسے مقام پر بیٹھے ہیں جو شیعہ تعلیمات کا گڑھ ہے۔

کہتے ہیں کہ احمدی نژاد نے جو مذہبی عالم نہیں ہیں، پالیسی اور مذہب کے معاملے میں مذہبی طبقے کے مخالفت مول لے لی ہے۔انھوں نے مختلف وجوہات کی بنا پرمذہبی طبقے میں اپنے لیے بہت سے دشمن پیدا کر لیے ہیں۔ انھوں نے بعض ممتاز مذہبی شخصیتوں کے خلاف مہم چلائی ہے اور ان پر ناجائز طریقوں سے دولت اکٹھی کرنے کے الزامات عائد کیے ہیں۔ انتخابی مہم کے دوران آپ نے اس کا مشاہدہ کیا ہو گا۔ لیکن علما ء کے طبقے میں کچھ ایسے لوگ بھی ہیں جو خالصتاً مذہبی نقطہ نظر سے احمدی نژاد کے صدر بننے اور ان کے حکومت چلانے کے خلاف ہیں۔

مسٹر احمدی نژاد پہلی بار 2005 میں عوامی حمایت سے صدر منتخب ہوئے تھے ۔ انھوں نے ملک سے بد عنوانی ختم کرنے کا وعدہ کیا تھا۔ تجزیہ کار کہتے ہیں کہ بہت سے ایرانیوں کی نظر میں بر سر اقتدار مذہبی طبقہ مراعات یافتہ اور بد عنوان ہے اور اس نے لوٹ کھسوٹ مچا رکھی ہے ۔ اس وقت اور آج کل بھی مسٹر احمدی نژاد نے سابق صدر اور ممتاز مذہبی شخصیت علی اکبر رفسنجانی کو خاص طور سے تنقید کا نشانہ بنایا تھا۔

2006 میں صدر نے حکم دیا کہ عورتوں کو کھیلوں کے مقابلے دیکھنے کے لیے اسٹیڈیم میں آنے کی اجازت دے دی جائے ۔ اس پر ممتاز مذہبی علماء نے احمدی نژاد پر فحاشی کو فروغ دینے کا الزام لگایا۔ ان کے اس فیصلے کی اتنی زیادہ مخالفت ہوئی کہ انہیں اپنا فیصلہ واپس لینا پڑا۔ اطلاعات کے مطابق بعض علماء کو اس بات پر بھی اعتراض تھا کہ ایران کے صدر نے پوپ Benedict کوجو مسلمان دنیا کے بعض حلقوں میں متنازعہ شخصیت ہیں خط کیوں لکھا ۔

Syracuse University میں مطالعہ مشرق وسطیِ کے ڈائرکٹر Mehrzad Boroujerdi کہتے ہیں کہ مسٹر احمدی نژاد کو رہبر اعلیِ کی حمایت حاصل ہے لیکن انھوں نے کبھی بر سر اقتدار مذہبی طبقے کو ساتھ لے کر چلنے اور اس کے ساتھ رابطے استوار کرنے کی کوشش نہیں کی۔قُم یا مشہد یا دوسرے اہم مقامات میں رہنے والے علما کے طبقے کے ساتھ مسٹر احمدی نژاد کے تعلقات شروع ہی سے اچھے نہیں تھے ۔ ہاں یہ ٹھیک ہے کہ خامنہ ای کے ساتھ ان کی گاڑی چھنتی ہے ۔ جہاں تک قُم کی ممتاز مذہبی شخصیتوں کا تعلق ہے انھوں نے نہ صرف خود کو ان سے دور رکھا ہے بلکہ ایسی باتیں بھی کہی ہیں جن کی وجہ سے وہ ان سے برگشتہ ہو گئے ہیں۔

بعض لوگوں کو اس بات پر بھی حیرت ہوتی ہے کہ مسٹر احمدی نژاد بار بار غائب امام کا ذکر کرتے ہیں۔شیعوں کے عقیدے کے مطابق، آخری امام ایک ہزار سال قبل غائب ہو گئے تھے اور وہ دنیا کی رہنمائی اور امن و انصاف کے بول بالے کے لیے واپس آئیں گے ۔ مسٹر احمدی نژاد نے آخری امام یعنی مہدی علیہ السلام کے نزول کا بار بار ذکر کیا ہے ۔ ان کی اقوام متحدہ میں 2005 کی تقریر میں بھی امام مہدی کی آمد کا ذکر تھا۔ 2008 کی ایک تقریر میں انھوں نے کہا کہ دنیا مہدی علیہ السلام کے ہدایات کے مطابق چل رہی ہے اور ہمیں ملک کے معاملات میں ان کا ہاتھ نظر آتا ہے ۔

Mehrzad Boroujerdi
کہتے ہیں کہ اس قسم کی باتوں سے بعض قدامت پسند مسلمان عالم ناخوش ہوتے ہیں۔اگر آپ آیت اللہ ہیں تو غائب امام کی آمد کا مطلب یہ ہو گاکہ پھر آپ کی کوئی حیثیت باقی نہیں رہے گی۔آپ کے پاس کرنے کو تو کچھ نہیں بچے گا۔چنانچہ احمدی نژاد کے بار بار مہدی علیہ ا لسلام کا ذکر کرنے سے مذہبی عالم خوش نہیں ہوتے۔

صدر کے روحانی استاد ایک انتہائی قدامت پسند عالم آیت اللہ محمد تقی مصباح یزدی ہیں۔ انتخاب کے تنازعے میں انھوں نے مسٹر احمدی نژاد کی حمایت کی ہے ۔ بعض تجزیہ کاروں کا خیال ہے کہ اگر ایران کوئی نئی راہ اختیار نہیں کرتا ، تو یزدی ایران کے اگلے رہبر اعلی ہوں گے۔

RadioActive FM96 Live Pakistan

India – China Conflict by 2012”

Jul. 13 - Just as Southeast Asia has been lifted by a resurgent China over the years, so have feelings of distrust towards the country, and nowhere more so than India which is still smarting from a border war it fought with China less than a decade after it found it had a new “neighbor.” The 1962 border clashes with China were a direct consequence of the Tibetan problem which had seen the Dalai Lama flee to India. Suddenly, instead of a benign Buddhist nation on along its northern territory, India had communist China, and the Tibetan buffer state was no more. Disputes that had previously been a diplomatic matter between two friendly nations became frayed as China’s take on Tibet’s historic relationship with India took on a darkened tone to that which had preceded it under the Buddhist-led regime.

China’s rise to prominence on the international stage since then has not always been smooth, and its diplomacy has often been seen as regional bullying. China’s recent use of its veto power at the ADB to deny India development funds for its northern state of Arunachal Pradesh coupled with Rio Tinto executives being detained for spying closely following a denial by Australia of China’s desire to acquire some of the countries mineral assets looks more aggressive than peaceful. Indeed, such is the forceful nature of China’s statements these days that the country is in danger of losing the goodwill it built up during the hosting of last year’s Olympics.

Recent events in Tibet and Xinjiang are now starting to spark regional concerns. Indeed, no less a body than the Times of India, publishing an interview with Bharat Verma, editor of the Indian Defense Review, claims that China will attack India by 2012 to divert the attention of its own people from “unprecedented” internal dissent, growing unemployment and financial problems that are threatening the hold of Communists in that country. “China will launch an attack on India before 2012. There are multiple reasons for a desperate Beijing to teach India the final lesson, thereby ensuring Chinese supremacy in Asia in this century.” says Verma

Noting that one of the joys of reading India’s free media – no censorship here – is the inevitable crackpots it throws up. However, China needs to be wary of signals, intentional or otherwise, of the diplomatic, and public relations image that it often portrays. Still wanting to be appreciated, if not loved internationally, China continually throws spanners into its own works with a far too heavy handed diplomatic and militaristic approach. India’s military spending, as a percentage of GDP, is 2.5 percent. Is it really necessary for China to be spending 4.3 percent of its GDP – which again is considerably larger than India’s – on its military?

Verma’s points – a covert operation by Beijing giving North Korea nuclear technology and missiles – are the sort of nonsense one can fairly easily debunk. However, when mixed in with his views on Pakistan, as he points out, long China’s western ally against India, and a Pakistan/US alliance diminishing Pakistan’s reliance upon China, a “nervous” Beijing, able to strike at India becomes just a little more rational. With China apparently hell bent on upsetting other countries via using diplomatic means gained to reward it for its development in a manner that seems more akin to punishing nations it has commercial disputes with, the concerns are writ large on the wall. Government interference in Chinese commerce is steadily growing, and China will take commercial action at a governmental and diplomatic level to get its way. Whether that leads to the apocalyptic scenario that it attacks India seems rather off beam. But Verma, in his article, has drawn a line of concern in the sand.

India a secular nation?:

India's own Abu Ghraib

A 14-year-old boy, Irfan, was crossing the road near his house in Delhi when a Tavera car screeched to a halt near him, he was bundled into the car and pinned down under the heavy feet with pistol kept to his head.

The mother kept searching for the boy. Had it not the car's numberplate and the judiciary's help, the boy may not have been tracked and released in ten days, from a secret Abu Gharaib-like torture cell in faraway Gujarat where he underwent such torture which even the adults can't even dream to endure.

This explosive story by news magazine 'The Week' has caused ripples in administrative circles. After a long time, a news magazine has done such an investigative story that brings to light something which was either not known or just talked about in whispers.

The magazine's journalist has unearthed and located these secret detention camps a la Abu Ghraib in Iraq, which are present in several Indian cities. The Week's managing editor Philip Mathew has written a special full page introduction for the story and the purpose of this extraordinary revelation. He writes:

..The muffled cry will never reach you. Nor the snap of bone. It is a strange silence, as if tranquilised by terror....the cover story is vastly different from Hitlerian terror, what is common though is the sadistic streak that strips a human of his dignity and sometimes his life...

The Week's cover story on secret torture champers comes at a time when mature democracies are pausing to listen to their conscience....many innocents suffer grievously as they were picked up on mere suspicion and had no access to legal help, nor their families know where they had been taken...

The extensive groundwork and the interviews by The Week's senior correspondent Syed Nazakat are a revelation. Yes, terrorists need to be treated differently. But does the organised might of the state need to torture 14-year-old innocent minor by abducting them and keeping them in soundproof cells that don't have windows and where new definitions of torture are scripted every minute?

Many are traumatised for their life and others die in these chambers without anybody's knowledge. Former DGP and Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer, Dr KS Subramanian's interview is also an eye-opener. He doesn't deny about such practices and says, "...in terrorist-related cases, the police may feel incentive to describe people as terrorists and kill them for professional reasons and career advancement.'

He mentions how farmers were killed in the name of Naxalites. The exhaustive report also tells about the exact location of these terror cells in Kolkata, Palanpur (Gujarat), Delhi, Mumbai and Guwahati--often in houses faraway from police stations.

The importance of the story lies in the fact that often journalists working on a particular beat get sympathetic and close to the system, rather than the citizens. In turn, they turn their back on such grave abuse of human rights. However, the issue is that we always feel it is 'the other' who suffers, not us and we forget.

When women get gang raped in custody, many feel that such incidents keep happening to Dalits and Tribals or perhaps to that particular class of 'poor'. When innocents get killed in encounters, we remain indifferent. And in process cede our rights and liberties.

The use of drugs through injections, water boardings, attaching electrodes on genitals and other techniques of torture (as described by the magazine) are not something which any civilised state should allow on innocent citizens.

As the Week's editor writes, "...Irfan is not just Tasleema's 14 year old son. He is an Indian citizen with rights, just like your son and mine..... ". Read the story. Link to the editor's introduction and the story 'India's secret torture chambers'. It's chilling and shocking to say the least. Congratulations to the writer and the magazine for their courage.

Did missing Babri files get lost in officer’s ‘mystery’ death in 2000?

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net,

New Delhi: Was Subhash Bhan Sadh, Officer on Special Duty in the Communalism Control Cell of the UP Home Department, who died by falling from a running train in New Delhi on April 30, 2000, carrying the same missing Babri Masjid files for which the state government last week ordered CBI enquiry? Was Bhan’s death accidental or was he murdered?

His father says his son was murdered, and so he has demanded the UP government and CBI to include enquiry about the reasons of his son’s death in the purview of the missing Babri file investigation. He is sure that if CBI solved the mystery of his son’s death, it will automatically solve the mystery of the missing Babri files.

Late OSD’s father Bir Bhan Sadh has alleged that his son’s was not an accidental death but he was murdered by a conspiracy as he was carrying crucial secret files related to the Babri Masjid case, said a PTI report yesterday. Bir Bhan Sadh has said that when on hearing the news about the accident he reached Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital his son told him about the crucial Babri files in his suitcase which he was carrying and requested him to submit those files to the then Home Secretary of UP. But Sadh senior said he did not find any document in the suitcase given to him by the local police in Delhi.

Last week the UP government has also admitted that the officer was the last to have the Babri files. Appearing before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on July 7, UP Chief Secretary submitted a letter from the Home Secretary stating that the missing files had last been taken by Subhash Bhan Sadh. The OSD was on his way to appear before the Liberhan Commission which was probing the Babri Masjid demolition. After 17 years of investigation, the commission submitted its report – yet to be made public – on this June 30.

From the day one Bir Bhan Sadh never accepted the police version about the incident in which his son was killed. Alleging murder and probe for that he approached the Delhi High Court which ordered the Delhi Police to probe the case. The police submitted a report but it was asked to reinvestigate. Reinvestigation report was not submitted. Then CID was asked to probe. It also did not submit any report. As the CBI has now been asked to probe Babri missing files, Sadh senior has urged the agency to look into his son’s death afresh.

An Indian Express story dated July 9 says: “He (OSD) boarded the Kashi-Vishwanath Express in Lucknow on April 30, 2000 since he had to appear before the Liberhan Commission the next day. Just as the train entered New Delhi’s Tilak Bridge station, he met with an “accident”.

In a petition in the Delhi High Court, his father, Bir Bhan Sadh, said his son was carrying secret files which were never found. He alleged that his son was murdered, pushed from a running train as it slowed down at Tilak Bridge station. He fell in the gap between the platform and the train. Rushed to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Sadh died the next day.

The Delhi High Court asked the Delhi Police to investigate Sadh’s death and file a report by August 22, 2000. Family advocate Randhir Jain said a report was filed and a reinvestigation directed. But the reinvestigation report was never filed, he said. In January 2002, the court asked the CID to investigate. Jain said there was again no progress.”

As CBI has been asked to enquire into the missing files of Babri Masjid, will it affect the court proceeding in the Babri Masjid title suit that the Special Bench of the Allahabad High Court is hearing?

“Case will not be held up for this reason. The court proceeding will continue and we hope verdict in six months,” Advocate Mushtaque Ahmed Siddique told TwoCircles.net. Advocate Siddiqui is assisting Advocate Zafaryab Jilani in the Babri title suit on behalf Muslim parties to the case.

Asked if the missing papers will affect the title suit of Babri Masjid, Advocate Siddiqui said: “These papers were important but not such that they can affect the title of the Masjid. They could have substantiated our point rather strongly and clearly. For example, as for the date of installation of idol in the Babri Masjid, the missing government papers could have determined it, now the court, if papers are never found, will rely on witnesses and other proofs.”

Rohini mosque: undeterred by Hindutva pressure Muslims building it brick by brick

New Delhi: Almost having overcome the initial resistance by local Hindutva cadres in connivance with property developers to legally acquired land for a mosque – first in the entire Rohini area of New Delhi – the local Muslims have joined their heads to build their long cherished house of worship, brick by brick literally.

On every Friday hundreds of Muslims from entire Rohini area in North-West Delhi gather for Juma Prayers. After the prayers the management body collects donations from the Namazis. Everyone willingly takes part as per their capacity. “Last Friday Rs 5000 was collected. Today about Rs 8000 has been collected,” says Arman Khan, a namazi who had come from Sector 11 of the Rohini area.

At present people are offering Five Time prayers and Juma Prayer inside a kuccha wall erected some weeks ago to acquire the land. They hope very soon they will start building the mosque. Yesterday was fourth Friday since the namaz established in the mosque in mid-June. There is apparently no tension now in the atmosphere. Since the violent protest four weeks ago by anti-social elements against the namaz here, the mosque has been heavily guarded by the Delhi police.

For first three Fridays since June 15 – when the Delhi Development Authority handed over the piece of land in Rohini’s Sector 16 to the Darsgah Islamia Intezamia Committee – the local Muslims had to face tough resistance from the collaboration of property developers, who had been eyeing the piece of land at the prime location in the area, and affiliates of some Hindutva organizations.

The piece of land has been acquired by the Darsgah Islamia Intezamia Committee, formed years ago to get the land for the mosque, from the DDA through genuine and legal process. Yet, the anti-social elements came on street on June 26 (Friday) and forcibly tried to prevent the faithful from offering the prayer. Several of them were beaten up while on their way to the mosque. Thanks to the timely action of the Delhi police a major communal clash was averted.

Iqtedar Hussain, head of the Darsgah Islamia Intezamia Committee, says it is property developers who spread rumours to arouse communal passion and to prevent Muslims from building the mosque on their legally purchased land.

“Some property developers had spread false propaganda against Muslims that if they were allowed to build the mosque, they will open here meat shop. They are very dirty people and will harm the atmosphere of the area,” says Hussain.

He refutes the point that local Hindus are against the mosque. He says it is property developers who are misguiding them. And as they have seen us offering prayers peacefully for the last one month, so local Hindus are now coming out of the influence of propaganda, he says.

This is the first mosque in entire Rohini of a few lakh people. Muslims are around 10,000 in the area. As they had to go several kilometers away for Juma prayers and for the last eight years they were offering prayers in a park, they had been demanding the government to allot the land for a mosque. Local MLA and MP have also supported our demand, says Hussain.

Arman Khan, originally from Bahraich district in UP and living in Sector 11 of Rohini for last five years, also says that there has never been any communal feeling. He and his maternal uncle Nafees Khan runs a chain of juice shop in Rohini. “More than 95% of our customers are Hindus but we never felt any Hind-Muslim thing,” they say.

They are happy that the mosque will be built in the locality.

Darsgah Islamia Intezamia Committee president Iqtedar Hussain can be contacted on 9312629330.

Insurgency Gains in Pakistan

Asif Hassan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

TURBAT, Pakistan — Three local political leaders were seized from a small legal office here in April, handcuffed, blindfolded and hustled into a waiting pickup truck in front of their lawyer and neighboring shopkeepers. Their bodies, riddled with bullets and badly decomposed in the scorching heat, were found in a date palm grove five days later.

Carlotta Gall/The New York Times

Yousuf Muhammad, right, said he was detained in February, a few months before his brother was abducted and fatally shot.

The New York Times

People in Turbat say nationalist sympathizers are detained.

Local residents are convinced that the killings were the work of the Pakistani intelligence agencies, and the deaths have provided a new spark for revolt across Baluchistan, a vast and restless province in Pakistan’s southwestwhere the government faces yet another insurgency.

Although not on the same scale as the Taliban insurgency in the northwest, the conflict in Baluchistan is steadily gaining ground. Politicians and analysts warn that it presents a distracting second front for the authorities, drawing off resources, like helicopters, that the United States provided Pakistan to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Baluch nationalists and some Pakistani politicians say the Baluch conflict holds the potential to break the country apart — Baluchistan makes up a third of Pakistan’s territory — unless the government urgently deals with years of pent up grievances and stays the hand of the military and security services.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of Baluch were rounded up in a harsh regime of secret detentions and torture under President Pervez Musharraf, who left office last year. Human rights groups and Baluch activists say those abuses have continued under President Asif Ali Zardari, despite promises to heal tensions.

“It’s pretty volatile,” said Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, the governor of Baluchistan. “When you try to forcibly pacify people, you will get a reaction.”

The discovery of the men’s bodies on April 8 set off days of rioting and weeks of strikes, demonstrations and civil resistance. In schools and colleges, students pulled down the Pakistani flag and put up the pale blue, red and green Baluch nationalist flag.

Schoolchildren still refuse to sing the national anthem at assemblies, instead breaking into a nationalist Baluch song championing the armed struggle for independence, teachers and parents said.

For the first time, women, traditionally secluded in Baluch society, have joined street protests against the continuing detentions of nationalist figures. Graffiti daubed on walls around this town call for independence and guerrilla war, which persists in large parts of the province.

The nationalist opposition stems from what it sees as the forcible annexation of Baluchistan by Pakistan 62 years ago at Pakistan’s creation. But much of the popular resentment stems from years of economic and political marginalization, something President Zardari promised to remedy but has done little to actually address.

In interviews, people in and around Turbat said the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies were still doggedly pursuing nationalist sympathizers.

A case in point, they say, is that of the three political figures who were killed: Gul Muhammad, Lala Munir and Sher Muhammad, all prominent in the nationalist movement.

Government officials say the men were being prosecuted for activities against the state but deny any involvement in their deaths. People are not convinced and say that while the men supported independence, they were not involved in the armed struggle.

Mir Kachkol Ali, the men’s lawyer, who witnessed their abduction, said the killings represented a deepening of the campaign by the Pakistani military to crush the Baluch nationalist movement. “Their tactics are not only to torture and detain, but to eliminate,” he said.

The insurgents, who say they are led by the Baluchistan Liberation Army, have escalated their tactics, too. A prominent example was the kidnapping in February of an American citizen, John Solecki, the head of the United Nations refugee organization in the provincial capital, Quetta.

The abduction was carried out by a breakaway group of young radicals who wanted to draw international attention to their cause and to exchange their captive for Baluch being held by the security services.

Mr. Solecki was released in April after the intervention of Baluch leaders, including Gul Muhammad. Baluch leaders speculate that the intelligence agencies may have killed Mr. Muhammad and his colleagues to provoke the kidnappers into murdering the American, which would have branded the Baluch nationalists as terrorists.

Instead, “the killing of these three has centralized the national movement of Baluchistan,” Mr. Ali, the lawyer, said.

He and others said they had no doubt that the intelligence services were responsible.

The three men were in his office on April 3 when a half-dozen armed men seized them, he said.

“They were persons of the agencies,” Mr. Ali said. “They were in plain clothes, but from their hairstyles, their language, we know them.” Mr. Ali has lodged a case with the police against the intelligence agencies for the abduction and murder of the three.

Nisar Ahmed, a shopkeeper and friend of the political leaders, said he saw them pushed into a pickup truck. He also said that the armed men appeared to be intelligence agents and that they were escorted by a second vehicle with 10 more armed men, also in plain clothes, who looked to be from the Frontier Corps paramilitary force.

While the insurgency remains strong in other parts of Baluchistan, the military has largely crushed the resistance around Turbat since March 2007, yet armed men are still in the hills and continue to be rounded up, residents here said.

Yousuf Muhammad, the brother of Gul Muhammad, one of the slain political leaders, said that in February he was hung by his hands from the ceiling for 48 hours in a Pakistani military camp.

“They came to arrest Gul Muhammad but they found me,” he said. Another brother, Obeidullah, said Gul Muhammad had received threats from people in the intelligence agencies warning him to stop his work. The latest came 10 days before his death, he said.

A group of students in the nearby town of Tump said they were rounded up and held in various army camps without charge for seven months in 2007. Some said they were suspended by their hands or their feet until they passed out, were beaten and were held in solitary confinement. Each showed a blackened mark where a toenail had been pulled out.

The arrests and disappearances have hardened attitudes, townspeople said, particularly among the young.

Even the governor, who is the president’s representative in the province, expressed exasperation at the Zardari government’s inaction in addressing the needs of the population. Many Baluch are increasingly cynical about the government’s ability to change things.

Sayed Hassan Shah, the minister for industry and commerce in Baluchistan, said his party was now demanding provincial autonomy.

“This is our last option,” he said. “If we fail, then maybe we have to think of liberation or separation.”

Brass Tacks – CIA Threats to Pakistan Part 6 - 12th July 2009

Brass Tacks – CIA Threats to Pakistan Part 6 - 12th July 2009

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