Archive for October, 2010

Unending Love By Rabindranath Tagore

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…In life after life, in age after age, forever. My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs, That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it’s age-old pain, It’s ancient tale of being apart or together. As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge, Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time: You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount. At the heart of time, love of one for another. We have played along side millions of lovers, shared in the same Shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell-Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you The love of all man’s days both past and forever: Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life. The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours – And the songs of every poet past and forever~ 

– Rabindranath Tagore was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize as he won in Literature. He was a de facto Poet Laureate of his day before India’s independence from Britain and this is Pakistanis for Peace’s homage to the man and to the human sentiment of love. 

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New U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Delivers Flood Relief

By Gunnery Sgt Bryce Piper for The Defense Video & Imagery Distribution Sysem

 U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron P. Munter distributed flood relief supplies today at a World Food Program distribution point at Hassan Khan Jamali, Pakistan.

As the newly-appointed ambassador, Munter participated in the operation to see and participate in the Pakistan and U.S. military flood relief efforts conducted in Sindh province.

“It is an honor to have the chance to work with the Pakistani military and the American military together, who are working to help the Pakistani people,” said Munter. “This is a place that I think all of us will remember as a symbol and as a reality of our cooperation, what we can do when we work together, when we face problems together. And I’m very, very grateful to the Pakistanis and Americans who’ve done all this work.”

Munter arrived at the Pakistan military’s Pano Aqil Cantonment in the afternoon and then flew to the Hassan Khan Jamali relief site where he and a team of Pakistani and U.S. military members unloaded approximately four tons of food aid from two helicopters. Pakistanis waiting at the site collected the humanitarian supplies for distribution in the surrounding area.

This was the ambassador’s first trip to flood-affected areas of Sindh since arriving in Pakistan Oct. 27.

In addition to delivering food aid, Munter and his wife Marilyn Wyatt had an opportunity to meet with local flood victims. The couple flew to Hassan Khan Jamali aboard a U.S. CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. 26th and 15th MEUs have been conducting humanitarian relief efforts from Pano Aqil Cantonment since Sept. 3, 2010.

The Marines there have delivered more than 3.7 million pounds (over 1.6 kilograms) of food and other supplies to more than 150 locations throughout Sindh Province, flying more than 450 heavy-lift helicopter sorties.

Since Aug. 5, 2010, U.S. military aircraft and personnel, working shoulder-to-shoulder with the Pakistan military, have provided humanitarian airlift for the delivery of more than 20 million pounds (over 9 million kilograms) of relief supplies and the transport of more than 27,000 displaced persons throughout Pakistan.

In addition to humanitarian airlift, the U.S. Government is providing more than $398 million to assist Pakistan with relief and recovery efforts, while USAID and other U.S. civilian agencies continue to provide assistance to flood victims.

U.S. efforts are part of a multi-national humanitarian assistance and support effort lead by the Pakistani government to bring aid to flood victims.

Suspicious UPS, FedEx Packages Raise New Concerns About Al Qaeda in Yemen

By Christa Case Bryant for The Christian Science Monitor

Suspicious packages found on United Parcel Service and FedEx planes reportedly originated in Yemen. While the planes appear to be undamaged, the incidents could bring fresh scrutiny to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the relatively new franchise that claimed responsibility for the failed underwear bomber plot on Christmas Day last year.

A spokesman in Yemen’s US embassy said in a statement that the Yemeni government, which has carried out numerous strikes against suspected AQAP operatives over the past 10 months, has launched a full-scale investigation.

“We are working closely with international partners – including the US – on the incident,” said Mohammed Albasha, adding that no UPS cargo planes land or take off from Yemeni airports.

However, an airport employee in Sanaa, who did not want his name used, confirmed that there are private company flights from Sanaa to the United Kingdom, where a suspicious package was found at East Midlands airport at 3:28 a.m. local time.

The UPS store in Sanaa was staffed with one employee and one guard Friday evening local time. The employee refused to talk to the media.

The White House said that in addition to the package found in the UK, which according to CNN contained a “manipulated” toner cartridge, another suspicious item was found in Dubai. Both were said to have originated in Yemen.

“Last night, intelligence and law enforcement agencies discovered potential suspicious packages on two planes in transit to the US,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday. “As a result of security precautions triggered by this threat, the additional measures were taken regarding the flights at Newark Liberty and Philadelphia International Airports.”

Among the suspected targets were Chicago-area synagogues.

The incident, which CNN posited could be a “dry run” for a future terrorist plot, is one of numerous red flags raised this year about suspected Al Qaeda militants operating in Yemen.

The country’s weak central government, which has difficulty maintaining order in Yemen’s rugged mountain terrain, has over the past year quietly strengthened its cooperation with US counterterrorism officials to address the militant threat.

The US military announced early this year it would more than double the $67 million aid package to the country. Since the failed Christmas Day bombing on a Detroit-bound airliner, international concern that Yemen could become the next Afghanistan – a lawless refuge from which to launch terrorist attacks on the West – has risen.

The rise in prominence of Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American preacher linked to the Fort Hood shootings last year and now wanted by the CIA, has heightened fears that the militants could more easily navigate Western society with his help.

Experts have cautioned, however, that focusing US and international efforts solely on containing the Al Qaeda threat could backfire.

Yemen is the Arab world’s poorest country, and faces numerous other challenges, including corruption, a violent southern secessionist movement, tensions between powerful tribes and the central government, and dwindling resources.

Obama Will Try to Avoid the K Word

By Paul Beckett for The Wall Street Journal

To some U.S. officials, it is known simply as the “K-word.” Kashmir. It’s a topic we expect U.S. President Barack Obama to try his level best to avoid during his three-day trip to India that starts next week.

The issue got the former British foreign secretary in hot water when he was here last year. And when Richard Holbrooke, Mr. Obama’s special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan at one point suggested he tackle Kashmir too, the idea received a furious rebuff from the Indians.

If the topic does come up, Mr. Obama will likely follow the same tack taken by his advisers earlier this week in a briefing with reporters. When asked, “Will the President talk publicly or privately about Kashmir and the tensions between India and Pakistan?” this was the response from Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communication.

“The President believes that the U.S. relationship with India and the U.S. relationship with Pakistan does not take place within any kind of zero-sum dynamic.  It’s often been viewed that way in the past, that if we become closer to one it’s at the expense of the other. And we’ve tried to send the signal that it’s the opposite with this administration; that, in fact, actually you see that borne out in the fact that we had a very successful strategic dialogue here, with the Pakistanis in town last week, discussing greater security cooperation in governance and economic issues.

And as a part of that, the President met with the Pakistani delegation and ended up speaking to President Zardari yesterday to discuss that strategic dialogue and said that he’d very much like to visit Pakistan next year and is planning to visit Pakistan next year.”

If you’re counting, that almost 150 words – and not one of them is “Kashmir.”

William Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, added his own non-Kashmir Kashmir response. “We have always welcomed dialogue between India and Pakistan and certainly encouraged efforts to improve relations between those two very important countries.  Obviously, the pace, scope and character of that dialogue is something that Indians and Pakistanis have to shape.  But we’ll continue to both welcome and encourage it.”

White House reporters being an intrepid bunch, another questioner brought up the topic again, using the K-word specifically.

“Just to follow Steven’s question on Kashmir. Will the President be making some public remarks explaining the U.S. position on Kashmir?  And will he also be addressing — explaining the U.S. relationship with Pakistan publicly?”

This time Mr. Rhodes was even more eloquent, going for a full 286 words, not a single one of them Kashmir.

Accused DC Bomb Plotter Farooque Ahmed’s Goal Was ‘Killing as Many Metro Riders as Possible’

By Kerry Wills, James Gordon Meek, and Helen Kennedy for The NY Daily News

A former Staten Island man was busted in Washington on Wednesday for helping what he thought were Al Qaeda terrorists plotting to bomb the capital’s subways.

It was really the FBI stringing him along, the feds say.

Farooque Ahmed, 34, a computer engineer who lives with his wife and baby in suburban Virginia, was accused of making sketches and surveillance videos of busy subway stops near the Pentagon and tourist-packed Arlington Cemetery.

The stations Ahmed helped case are popular with Defense Department workers. He thought the stations would be blown up sometime next year, the indictment says.

His goal was “killing as many Metro riders as possible through simultaneous bomb attacks,” U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said. “It’s chilling.”

The feds said straphangers were never in any danger.

Much like the four men convicted this month of plotting to attack a Bronx synagogue, Ahmed was stung by an undercover FBI operation and never met any real terrorists.

His face hidden by a long beard, mustache and glasses, Ahmed appeared briefly in federal court and will be held until a detention hearing tomorrow. He said he could not afford a lawyer.

A Pakistani who became a naturalized citizen in New York 17 years ago, Ahmed worked for Ericsson telecommunications in Virginia setting up routers for the Sprint network, his LinkedIn profile says.

He received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the College of Staten Island in 2003 and studied mechanical engineering at City College, but did not receive the graduate degree, college officials said.

Ahmed’s online profile blamed that on “a political issue between computer science and (engineering) departments.” Officials said the dispute was over academic credits, not geopolitics.

He registered as a Republican in the borough in 2002.

Neighbors in Ashburn, Va., said he moved there a year ago with his British wife, Sahar Mirza, and toddler son.

Sahar Mirza is co-organizer of a Meetup.com group for mothers of new babies called Hip Muslim Moms.

He wore casual clothes – he appeared in court in jeans – but she wore more traditional garb and covered her hair.
“He was out back mowing the lawn over the weekend. He just seemed like a normal guy. He never talked about politics,” said neighbor Barbi Shires, 43. “I’m just glad it was the FBI he did it for, not al Qaeda.”

Next door neighbor, Tanya Minor, 32, who works in a doctor’s office, said Ahmed “came to look at the house with a man who spoke his language, who said he helped people from New York find apartments here. They were very quiet. They always had the blinds closed.”

 

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s NoteThe arrest of Faisal Shahzad and now Farooque Ahmed illustrates that unfortunately there are some within the large Pakistani and Muslim American community in the United States who mean to do us harm and they need to be caught and brought to justice. We urge all Pakistani and Muslim Americans to be vigilant and proactive in reporting anyone to the authorities who they believe have become radicalized and deemed a threat to the safety of others.

Alleged Would Be Terrorist Thwarted At Every Turn

By Richard Serrano for The Los Angeles Times

Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, according to the FBI, traveled the world in search of jihad. But Pakistan turned him away, and Jordan did too. He tried to get into Somalia, but U.S. authorities placed him on the no-fly list. An American citizen, he visited an army recruiting station in New York’s Times Square hoping to be sent to Iraq; they did not want him either.

So, the FBI said, the 21-year-old born and raised in New York created websites and posted threats of radical Islamic violence, including one from another American expatriate, Anwar al Awlaki. Then Shehadeh flew to Hawaii and allegedly started taking target practice.

FBI agents said he wanted to join a jihadist group to learn “guerilla warfare and bomb-making.” Had he been welcomed into the U.S. army, they said, his plan was to defect in Iraq and turn against his comrades.

Shehadeh’s journeys ended last Friday. He was arrested in Honolulu and accused in a federal criminal complaint, unsealed Monday, of making false statements in an international terrorism case.

For two and a half years federal officials followed his travels, tracked his websites and enlisted help from his grade school friends. On Tuesday they singled him out as someone much like Awlaki — eager to forfeit his U.S. citizenship for a life of jihad.

Florence T. Nakakuni, the U.S. attorney in Hawaii, said the investigation covered “a six-hour time difference and 5,000 miles.” In New York, FBI assistant director Janice K. Fedarcyk said “stopping one prospective terrorist can prevent untold numbers of casualties.”

Shehadeh faces up to eight years in prison. His Hawaiian attorney, Matthew Winter, said he “wants to return as soon as possible to New York and face the charges there.”

He is slightly built, thin and clean-shaven. He does not evoke the image of an angry Islamic radical. But his arrest comes during a heightened alert over threats from homegrown terrorists.

“My brothers of revolutionary Islam, I am with you as long as you keep struggling,” Shehadeh allegedly posted on his website. “Trust me there are many brothers and sisters in America that are ready to speak up. They just need a push.”

He first drew the eye of FBI agents in June 2008 for signing into the online Expedia travel agency and purchasing a one-way ticket to Pakistan. A New York detective interviewed him at the airport; Shehadeh said he was going to Pakistan to attend an Islamic school there.

Customs and Border Patrol searched his checked baggage. They found a sleeping bag, toiletries, three books and two changes of clothes. When the plane landed at Islamabad, he was not allowed in.

According to the FBI, he created his own websites. One highlighted the “Benefits of Jihad in Our Times.” Another ran speeches from al Awlaki. A third, titled “civiljihad,” included warnings dripping in blood.

He visited the recruiting station at Times Square in October 2008, according to the complaint. The army turned him away because he failed to disclose his trip to Pakistan. Two weeks later he flew to Jordan, but the authorities would not let him in.

The FBI developed two confidential informants who were boyhood classmates of Shehadeh. The agents said they learned Shehadeh wanted American Muslims to travel to Muslim countries and fight against the U.S. He allegedly told them he wanted to die a martyr, that there were “no more excuses” for avoiding jihad. He spoke of an afterlife with 72 virgins.

In June 2009 he purchased a ticket to Dubai. Again FBI agents said they interviewed him; he told them his destination was Somalia. But now he was on the no-fly list; he could not even leave the U.S.

He went to Hawaii. In October 2009, he visited the SWAT Gun Club, and practiced firing an M-16 assault rifle, .45 caliber and 9 mm semi automatic pistols, and a .44 caliber Magnum revolver. Last April, he again spoke to the FBI. The conversation turned to why U.S. muslims become radicalized. The agents said Shehadeh told them, “take my story for example.”

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s NoteDeranged individuals such as Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, Faisal Shahzad, and Nidal Malik Hasan do not deserve American citizenship and all the freedoms and privileges it entails. The US government must remain vigilant and suspicious of anyone who espouses treasonous acts against the republic and its interests regardless of their race, ethnicity, citizenship, religion or any other identifying characteristic. It is our hope that the Obama administration will continue to remain proactive and alert in apprehending and stopping all individuals who pose danger to the country and patriotic Muslim Americans must continue to do more to assist the nation in keeping safe.

Arundhati’s Statement From Srinagar: Full Text

By Arundhati Roy
October 26, 2010
Noted Indian Hindu writer Arundhati Roy Tuesday said her speeches supporting the call for azadi were what “millions” in Kashmir say every day and were “fundamentally a call for justice”. Following is the full text of the statement that she has issued.
 
“I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. This morning’s papers say that I may be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent public meetings on Kashmir. I said what millions of people here say every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators have written and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice. I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villags in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.  

“Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not been brought to justice. I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer’s husband and Asiya’s brother. We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get ‘insaf’—justice—from India, and now believed that Azadi—freedom— was their only hope. I met young stone pelters who had been shot through their eyes. I traveled with a young man who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones.

“In the papers some have accused me of giving ‘hate-speeches’, of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one. Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.”

Arundhati Roy is a novelist, essayist and human rights activist. She won a Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things. For more on her read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arundhati_Roy

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s NoteArundhati Roy’s courageous plea to her country is to be lauded. Although branded a traitor by many in India and within the government, she knows that she stands for peace, justice and fairness for all humanity. She wants self determination for all Kashmiris, be they Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Christian.

We at Pakistanis for Peace want nothing more than peace between India and Pakistan and therefore understand that Kashmir is the one and single most important issue between the two countries. Solve it and you do not have the threat of cross border attacks, friction, animosity, perpetual war and a tense border between two neighbors of nearly 2,000 miles. If we continue to ignore it then it will eventually be the crisis that starts a 4th and possibly nuclear war between the two neighbors. A war that neither the neighborhood nor the world can afford.

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