White Elephants On Parade

circus elephants

Farrukh Saleem’s billion dollar gamble came up short last week, but rather than admit fault, he has simply doubled down. Only this time, he’s beginning to show his hand. After predicting that ‘the price of independent horses is bound to go through the roof’ following Senate elections that saw little evidence of horse trading, the columnist shifts from complaining about politicians being corrupt to complaining about them being ineffective – especially compared to that other power centre, GHQ.

At least Farrukh Saleem tries to be subtle, though. That much cannot be said for his colleague Shaheen Sehbai who rather ham-handedly calls for the military to take over…without actually taking over. Continue reading

Express Tribune’s Jailbreak Spin Helps Nothing

Gilgit District Jail

Militant jailbreaks are not new, but there was something unique about the way that Express Tribune reported the recent escape from Gilgit District Jail. The brazen escape, in which four jihadis managed to break free, has been widely reported as having been carried out with the help of the very men who were supposed to be guarding the hardened terrorists. On 1st March, Dawn reported that Gilgit-Baltistan police chief Zaffar Iqbal Awan ‘conceded that the jailbreak attempt by four prisoners had been assisted by some members of the security staff within the prison’.

Seven jail staff and three religious leaders were immediately arrested on suspicion of aiding the terrorists escape, and the investigation into how the escape could have happened has revealed that security officials at the jail had been recruited by the terrorists, and that ‘companions of the suspects were also in contact with jail officials and tried to take care of their “necessities”.’

Coming during same time as reports of arrest of a Punjab constable attending jihadi training camp in Afghanistan, the entire facts of the case points to a terrifying reality in which terrorists are infiltrating the police forces. So how does Express Tribune report the story? As evidence of success of military courts.

The fear of being sentenced to death by a military court is what spurred two suspects charged with the Nanga Parbat basecamp massacre, along with two other prisoners, to risk a jailbreak in Gilgit, investigators said on Sunday.

Even the headline, ‘Running Scared’, gives the impression that the terrorists were so afraid of their fate at the hands of security forces that they were willing to risk everything. However this ignores the facts. The terrorists were not attempting a panicked and desperate escape, they were leaving with the help of the very guards who were supposed to be keeping them under lock and key.

Express Tribune’s report gives the feeling that the event involved terrified militants and fearless security forces who launched a manhunt that killed one and captured another. The reality is that half of the terrorists escaped unharmed, and at least 10 jail personnel have been arrested in connection with helping them.

I have written before that premature declarations of victory can undermine success. Now is not the time to hide the truth. If we are going to defeat terrorism, we must face the reality, not cover it up.

Effort to Change Minds Faces Difficult Challenge

Page A3 of Daily Times of 21st February features the story, ‘NA committee for programmes on war on terror‘ about legislators calling for new initiatives “for changing the people’s mindset on war on terror”. The problem is larger than just creating new programmes to change people’s mindset, however.

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Defending Jamaat-ud-Dawa

Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity workers

Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity workers

When government officially banned Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2002, Amir Hafiz Saeed started calling his group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). The group kept the same leaders, members, even the same flag. To defend his actions, Hafiz Saeed’s strategy was simply to lie. In 1999, Hafiz Saeed openly talked about Lashkar-e-Taiba’s suicide attacks. Speaking to Amir Mir in 2001, Hafiz Saeed spoke as Lashkar-e-Taiba chief and said that his group’s goal was “motivating the youth to participate in jehad and using force to liberate occupied Muslim territories”. Then, when his name was added to a list of terrorists by the UN in 2008, Hafiz Saeed said “No Lashkar-e-Taiba man is in Jamaat-ud-Dawa and I have never been a chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba”. Was he lying in 1999 and 2001 or in 2008? Either way, he had to be lying at some point.

Since Lashkar-e-Taiba was forced to change its name, lying has been the cornerstone of the defense of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and it continues to this day. From one side of its mouth, the group claims that it is a welfare organisation, and from the other, it openly advocates jihad, and collects donations to support mujahideen, and organises events promoting global terrorists. The truth is that Jamaat-ud-Dawa is the jihadi version of the fake CIA vaccination campaign, using humanitarian work as a cover for its jihadi activities.

None of this is new information. Actually, it is all done under broad day light and widely reported here and in the international media. Recently, however, there appears to have been a wide spread campaign to hide the group’s true purpose, and it is not just Hafiz Saeed who is involved in the cover up.

Following new calls for shutting down the militant group, Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain defended JuD, terming it a charity. News organisations have begun filing reports that parrot claims that JuD is a “welfare group” and highlighting the group’s welfare activities while hiding or downplaying its militant activities. This has left many asking, if the state is serious about zero tolerance policy for militant groups, why the sudden PR campaign to white wash JuD’s image?

DG ISPR recently termed an insult the question whether Pakistan was capable of taking on all militants, but as long as politicians and media continue to defend Jamaat-ud-Dawa by pretending it is a welfare organisation like Edhi Foundation despite the obvious reality, what is the world supposed to think?

Who Is Really Insulting Pakistan Armed Forces? CNN…or…

DG ISPR Maj Gen Asim Bajwa

During an interview with CNN, DG ISPR was asked whether Pakistan military was capable of going after every terrorist in Pakistan. The Army spokesman responded in force: “I would say this is an insult to the Pakistani people and Pakistani forces if you ask this kind of question. When I say we’re very clear and we are capable of dealing with them.” Let us take the Major General Asim Bajwa at his word. Who are we to doubt Army’s insincerity? But let us ask the question whether the insult was coming from CNN or from somewhere else

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