Foreign Funding and Conspiracies Against Pakistan

foreign fundsAllegations of foreign funding predate independence. What is interesting, however, is how certain allegations rise and fall. A new report by Ansar Abbasi claims to expose another foreign conspiracy against Pakistan, pumping foreign funding into effort to save Shafqat Hussain from execution.

A senior government source said that not only the proof of foreign funding has been secured it has also been confirmed that the purpose of the campaign was to get the death penalty banned in the country by scandalizing and demeaning the country’s criminal justice system.

According to Ansar Abbasi, this claim has been confirmed by intelligence agencies, giving it the seriousness of a national security issue.

There are two strange things about this ‘conspiracy’, though. Actually, most of the world has done away with the death penalty. 53 per cent countries have abolished it completely, and only 18 per cent continue to execute convicts. Interestingly, these countries include US and India, so the usual suspects are off the hook. Even more strange, though, is the claim that whoever is behind this ‘foreign funding’ is trying to get death penalty banned by ‘scandalizing and demeaning the country’s criminal justice system’. Weren’t we recently told by the powers that be that military courts were essential because the criminal justice system wasn’t up to the task of carrying out its duties?

Sadly, while supposed foreign funding behind efforts to stop one killing may be given the seriousness of a national security issue, foreign funding to stop mass killings has gone widely ignored. Saudi Arabia is believed to be funding extremist networks in Pakistan since long, even recruiting children for terrorist groups. Saudi funding is also believed to be behind militant groups like ASWJ that projects hate and sectarian killings.

Why is this foreign funding ignored and tolerated while hue and cry is being raised against death penalty activists? Instead of cracking extremist militant networks responsible for killing thousands of innocent Pakistanis, intelligence agencies are apparently working against human rights NGOs. We have to ask ourselves…what is the point?

Finally, it should be noted that there is even a new case of foreign funding that is only now coming to light, and one that could have very serious consequences for national politics. PTI has been ordered by Elections Commission Pakistan (ECP) to explain certain details of foreign funds that it has received. According to reports, PTI is under suspicion of taking illegal foreign funding and money laundering. Unanswered questions have surrounded Imran Khan’s finances since many years, and this is the first time that any effort has been made to untangle the secret web that has been able to support his massive operations.

Accusations of ‘foreign funding’ are easily made, but difficult to prove. What is more interesting is where these accusations come from and how they are treated. Asnar Abbasi’s report follows the pattern of gutter conspiracy theories: Vague, anonymous accusations that equate criticism of state policy with being anti-Pakistan. Reports of Saudi funding of extremist networks follow a different pattern: They are specific and documented, with only intelligence agencies unable to find any evidence. It will be interesting to see how PTI’s case is treated. Could it be that Imran’s time is up? Or is he merely being reminded that it is not his place to question the military? Only time will tell…

Nine Zero Raid Just The Beginning?

Pakistan Rangers

Timing of Pakistan Rangers operation against MQM has been linked to election of Senate Chairman, but this appears to be a diversion intended to set political parties against each other. Meanwhile, the larger picture is beginning to take shape as new operations are being discussed. On Thursday, Corps Commander Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar said that operations will be ongoing, and we are beginning to see hints of who might be next.

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Raid on 90 sign of a dysfunctional system

Pakistan Rangers raid nine zero

Pakistan Rangers raid on MQM headquarters in Karachi has taken over the national discussion. By Wednesday afternoon there were no less than four different hashtags related to the raid trending on Twitter. Unsurprisingly, attitudes are divided about whether the raid was a positive or negative. I find myself in the second camp, not because of any love for MQM but because I think the action will do more harm to democracy and the armed forces than it will against any criminal elements hiding in 90.

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The Price of Ambition

KP Govt Warned about Peshawar Attack

One of the most glaring questions that received little to no attention directly following the devastating attack against APS Boys Peshawar was the question of how such an attack could once again take place under our noses without ever being detected. Now, it turns out, it was detected. Only nobody did anything to stop it.

A newly released document shows that PTI government in KP was warned about the attack before it happened, but did not act on the warning. The warning came during a time when Imran Khan and PTI leadership were still pursuing their dream with seizing PM’s house through street protests, giving some to believe that the warning went unnoticed because PTI/KP officials were so obsessed with Islamabad and Karachi that even terrorism alerts went ignored.

141 innocent lives is too high a price to pay for our unwillingness to address the problem of extremism in society. 141 innocent lives is far too high a price to pay for political ambition.

Sacrificing reason on the altar of ideology

Censored textbook

Imran Khan says education is key to the success of the country. At first glance, this sounds like an intelligent (if obvious) statement. Let’s look at the PTI chief’s comment in more detail, though. Here is what he said:

He said that the country was suffering from two parallel education systems, adding that if he comes into power, the PTI government would introduce a uniform education system across the country. He said that education was the backbone of any developed society, but in Pakistan, the government never gave importance to the most important issue.

To understand what this means in a practical sense, we can look at what education system the PTI has introduced in KPK where it is already in power.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led (PTI) government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has agreed to revisions in the curriculum for government schools here – including the removal of pictures of schoolgirls with their heads uncovered – for the new academic session commencing April 1, 2015.

The PTI’s coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) raised objections over the curriculum which was approved in 2006. The JI said Islamic chapters had been removed in 2006 syllabus; the party also wanted secular chapters removed from the textbooks. The religious party asked for the removal of “objectionable” materials and the addition of 18 Quranic verses to grade 9 Chemistry book…verses on jihad were removed from the ninth-grade Islamiat textbook and added to the grade 11 course.

According to Directorate of Curricula and Teacher Education (DCTE) Director Bashir Hussain Shah, the provincial government has accepted all of JI’s demands.

This is a glimpse of the education system that Imran Khan promises to make uniform across whole of Pakistan – one that is founded not in facts and reason, but in ideology.

Actually, this system is becoming uniform already – the PTI just wants to speed up the process. Even without the guiding hand of PTI, Karachi University recently banned Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, professor of international relations at Dhaka University, from attending a conference because of his views on 1971. Dr Imtiaz Ahmed got off easy. Dead of Islamic Studies at University of Karachi Mohammad Shakil Auj was murdered in the street for promoting a liberal interpretation of Islam.

LUMS administrators were cowardly in a different way when they allowed Pervez Hoodbhoy’s contract to expire with no explanation given. They may have felt that this would allow them to do the deed while denying the reason, but the message was heard loud and clear by anyone paying the least bit of attention.

In Islamabad, a dean and students advisor were sacked after it was discovered that a Model UN programme included information about Israel. It should be noted that Israel is a member state of the UN. Or was IIUI modeling the UN of its dreams instead of the UN of the real world? Either way, how can students be expected to succeed in the real world when their education is based on a fantasy one?

Most reports on education crisis in Pakistan focus on abysmal enrollment numbers. However even full enrollment of every child in the country will not provide an educated population if our education system is one that sacrifices reason on the altar of ideology.