Pakistan government accepts defeat by Taliban in Swat Valley and allows Sharia Law in region

 

Swat Valley, Pakistan- In a move roundly criticized around the world, Pakistan announced that it had reached a deal with the Taliban militants to allow them to implement Sharia, or Islamic Law, in the Swat Valley of Pakistan in return for a truce with the Taliban militants in the region. Sharia law refers to the Islamic system of law and the totality of the Islamic way of life. An example of Sharia law is the allowance of getting revenge by an injured plaintiff to exact revenge-physical eye for a physical eye, and a tooth for a tooth. It allows for a thief to be punished by cutting off their hand. It allows for adulterers to be stoned to death by a mob as another example of what is allowed under Sharia law.

The Swat Valley which is a naturally beautiful area of Pakistan has for many years been immensely popular with domestic and foreign tourists. However in recent months, increased offensives by the Taliban and attacks on girls schools, civilians appearing to be too western in attire and mannerisms and anything or anyone that is deemed anti-Islamic has come under indiscriminate attacks by them. The once popular tourist industry in the area has all but evaporated as foreigners and Pakistanis alike are staying away from a region that is now engulfed in violence.

There has also been a rash of beheading by the Taliban of locals who have spoke up against their bullying and their savage tactics. This violence is not only isolated to the people living in the Swat region. Recently, a New York Times article reported that even Pakistani Americans living in the New York area from the Swat region are now being signaled out for ransoms and kidnapping by the Taliban in the region. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/17/nyregion/17swat.html

According to a former CIA official, the Taliban in the region perhaps number 3000 militants. They have been able to take on a force of roughly 12,000 Pakistani Army soldiers due to their brazen and indiscriminate attacks. Also, the Pakistani Army has not helped matters by firing at the Taliban positions from a great distance and often in the process killing local civilians who now do not know which side to trust for their safety. This decision by the Pakistani government to capitulate to the Taliban and agree to impose Sharia law in the region leads some international observers to claim that this demonstrated the weakness of the Pakistani army in facing and defeating the much smaller Taliban fighters. The Information Minister of Pakistan, Sherry Rehman, denied that the state made any “concessions” to the militants. “It is in no way a sign of the state’s weakness. The public will of the local population of the Swat region in wanting Sharia law is at the center of all efforts and it should be taken into account while debating the merits of this agreement.” The Pakistani government is now hoping that the agreement with the Taliban will prompt them to now disarm in the Swat valley and the violence will stop.

Unfortunately, two previous agreements with the Taliban have failed to materialize any peace in the region and each time the treaty was broken in exchange for fresh violence. Each time, the Taliban have gotten very brazen and they are acting with impunity knowing that they now have the upper hand in the fight with the Pakistani army. US and NATO forces have criticized previous deals with the militants and stated that each time they saw an increase in suicide attacks on international and Afghan forces across the border in Afghanistan. It seems obvious to this reporter that each time the Taliban reach an agreement with the Pakistani forces they are then able to better concentrate their attacks and and violence against the US, NATO and Afghan forces inside Afghanistan. Allowing the Taliban to circumvent the rule of law in Swat and parts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in exchange for a fragile peace is a foolish policy that not only does not work in the long run but actually allows these militants to become emboldened and stronger as a result. Also, this sends a clear message to the Taliban and militants in other parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan that the state is willing to compromise their principles and given enough of a fight, will relent and accept defeat.

We at Pakistanis for Peace are extremely disappointed by the government of Pakistan’s decision to acquiesce to the demands of these same militants who on one hand behead people who disagree with them and on the other hand destroy girls schools because somehow in their narrow and closed minded interpretation of Islam, teaching girls education is deemed by them to be un-Islamic. This decision not only makes these militants stronger but also further has the effect of having people in the region and around Pakistan lose faith in the government’s ability to fight and protect the civilians from what are nothing more than thugs with guns who profess to be “Talibs” or students of Islam. If one was truly a student of Islam and a follower of the religion of peace, then brutal acts of violence against women, foreigners, and Pakistani citizens would not be a routine course of action by them.

The Taliban are enemy number one for the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan and of Islam itself and of Islam and Islam’s image both at home and abroad. How else but to categorize them as savages after they bombed two of the oldest Buddhist statues of Bamyan Afghanistan in 2001? Does Islam not teach respect for all religions and respect for differences of opinion? Where in the Koran does it say it is okay to throw acid on a woman’s face so you can intimidate other women in not attending school? Where does it say it is okay to behead a young man and make an example out of him because he did not repeatedly heed your warning to stop listening to western music? All these actions by the Taliban is a clear indication of the absence of logic in the minds of these people. And for the Pakistani government to fool itself into thinking that any agreements with them will bring peace to the region is absurd. We at Pakistanis for Peace urge the Pakistani government to break this foolish treaty with the Taliban as there should never be any compromises with these people as one can not reason with someone who has no reason. Common sense in not very common among the Taliban and the Pakistani government is doing itself and the people of Swat and of Pakistan a disservice by compromising with these militants.


Reported for www.PakistanisforPeace.com by Manzer Munir

American United Nations Diplomat kidnapped by militants in Quetta Pakistan

 

Quetta, Pakistan- On the heels of our recent report regarding an up tick in Taliban and militant activity in the Pakistani city of Quetta comes word that the head of the UN Agency for Refugees in Quetta Pakistan has been kidnapped by militants. American diplomat John Solecki, was seized by gunmen and taken hostage and his Pakistani driver was shot and killed Friday as he was headed in the morning to his UN agency office.

His United Nations labeled SUV was found rammed against the wall and at least one bullet hole was found on the vehicle. When the Pakistani police reached the vehicle, they found the driver shot and dead at the steering wheel and Mr. Solecki missing. The US expressed “extreme shock and dismay” at the abduction and the Pakistani government called his kidnapping and the killing of the driver a “dastardly terrorist act.”

The city of Quetta in Pakistan borders Afghanistan and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has been involved for at least 30 years in the area helping the Afghani refugees from the war with the Soviets and then the internal conflict between the warlords and eventually the Taliban and now fleeing the war on terror between the American forces and the militants.

Police has increased patrols in the region and are fearing that Solecki may have been taken to the Afghani side of the region or he may very well even be hidden in a house in and around Quetta. Local police has confirmed that the American citizen Solecki has been working in Quetta for at least the last two years. He did not have a police escort and it is known that he did not like to have an escort with him on his way to the office.

A few hours after his abduction, a video was released by the kidnappers who identified themselves as being with the little known Baluchistan Liberation United Front, suggesting a link to local separatist groups who have waged an insurgency against Pakistan’s government. This suggests that the persons responsible may not be Al-Qaeda or even Taliban militants but rather local insurgents who are seeking an independent Baluchistan from Pakistan.

In the 20 second video, Solecki appears blindfolded and has a shawl draped over his shoulders and states that his message is addressed to the United Nations. “I am not feeling well. I am sick and in trouble. Please help solve the problem soon so I can gain my release,” he says. The kidnappers have threatened to kill Solecki within 72 hours if their demands of the immediate release of 141 women it says were held by the authorities. The militants recently beheaded a Polish engineer in the area after negogations for his release last week failed. It is feared that they intend to carryout their threat on Solecki if their demands are not met.

Pakistanis for Peace and the majority of the peace loving people of Pakistan and Afghanistan are extremely disturbed and saddened by the death of the Pakistani driver and of the abduction of Mr John Solecki. A committed humanitarian and diplomat interested in solving the refugee problem for the Afghani people in the area, all he was doing in the region was helping the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. He and his agency’s work in this violent and volatile region is of paramount importance in providing assistance and relief to many thousands of people in the area. At risk to his life and liberty he happily worked in this part of the world as he believed in the cause of the UN Refugee agency. We are tremendously saddened by these turn of events and pray that there is a peaceful solution to the situation and that Mr Solecki be released immediately. The cowards responsible for his abduction should realize that individuals such as Mr Solecki are doing nothing but helping the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and for them to threaten his life goes against everything the religion of Islam and the hospitable nature of the people of the area in how their custom is to treat visitors and guests in their country. We Pray that he is released safely and immediately and that the terrorists responsible for his abduction be caught and brought to justice.

This is an image from mobile phone footage released by Online Photos Friday Feb.
Reported for www.PakistanisforPeace.com by Manzer Munir

Obama to focus on terrorist safe havens inside Pakistan

 

The new US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke is scheduled to meet leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan in Islamabad this week as part of a major US policy review aimed at combating the Taliban and extremists in the region. He is scheduled to meet Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and key military leaders as well as members of the Foreign Ministry.

US President Obama has stated that he is planning on sending an additional 30,000 troops into Afghanistan and has promised to stabilize the Afghanistan and Pakistan region as this was one of his stated goals during the presidential campaign. He is also hoping for additional troops from NATO in battling a resurgent insurgency in the Afghanistan and Pakistan border areas. Holbrooke will also be holding top level talks with Afghani and Indian leaders before reporting back to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama.

In his first televised prime time speech Monday evening, President Obama was asked about the safe havens inside Pakistan and what he was doing to root out the terrorists on the Pakistani side of the border. Obama stated that there is “no doubt” that there are safe havens on Pakistan’s side of the border and his envoy Holbrooke is going to try and convince Pakistan’s new government of President Zardari that the Pakistanis are endangered just as much as the United States from the threat presented by the Taliban operating from these areas. He stated that it is important for Pakistan to know that it is “not acceptable” for either the United States or Pakistan to have people in the border region who will act “with impunity” to kill innocent people. He also stated that he believes that the government of Pakistan “cares deeply” about getting control of the situation and that Pakistan will be effective partners in the anti-terror fight against the Taliban and the extremists.

The New York Times reported Monday that the Taliban have set up complex operations in the Pakistani city of Quetta, where Taliban leaders are believed to play a significant role in stirring violence in southern Afghanistan and disrupting the supply of goods and services en route to US forces in Afghanistan. Although there has been some success against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the tribal areas of the North West Frontier Provience (NWFP) of Pakistan, the city of Quetta has fast become a central operations point for the Taliban in planning and carrying out attacks against the US forces out of this Pakistani city. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that the US will have a tough love approach to Pakistan and will threaten to cut off military aid to Islamabad if it does not cut down on militants operating from inside its territory.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani stated in an interview that if there is actionable intelligence against Al-Qaeda or Taliban in its territory, than Pakistan will act on that intelligence. However he admitted that there is not always good information coming out of Quetta as this is a very “messy area.” The province of Baluchistan where Quetta is the capital has long been hostile to the federal government of Pakistan. In fact, for several years now there has been a low level insurgency against the Pakistani government led by the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) who’s goal is the establishment of a separate Baluchistan government.

The BLA has been listed as a terrorist organization since 2006 by the Pakistani and British governments. It is a partnership of convenience for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters to unite with the BLA and base their operations from Quetta in Pakistan in fighting the American forces in Afghanistan. This new development is very troubling for the US forces as it allows the Taliban to organize and coordinate their attacks without much repercussion from the Americans as they are well inside Pakistani territory. Last week the Talliban was blamed for the execution and brutal beheading of a Polish engineer in the Baluchistan region who was held captive for several months before being savagely killed after negotiation for his release failed. Privately US officials admit that the Pakistani government has their hands full as they have been fighting the BLA for several years in and around Quetta and have not had great luck in building a network of sources and spies in the region as the Baluchi people of the area are sympathetic to the BLA against the Pakistani government.

It is the hope of peaceful groups like Pakistanis for Peace that the US, Afghanistan, and Pakistan cooperate fully in their fight against the extremists in the region as they all share a common enemy. Whether the perpetrators of violence are Taliban, Al-Qaeda, or Baluchi separatists, they are the common enemy of the United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It does not matter if the acts of terrorism are committed against Americans, Afghans, foreigners such as the Polish engineer, or average Pakistani citizens, it is high time that the allies on the war on terror unite and join forces in rooting out this evil from the area. It is going to require the united efforts and resources of all involved to bring the fight to the enemy. Pakistan must understand that the enemy within its borders is a much more serious threat to its sovereignty and statehood than any foreign army operating close to its borders. One hopes that the governments of Pakistan and the US settle their differences regarding terrorist safe havens in Pakistan and are able to find a successful strategy in battling and rooting out the terrorists operating in the region both inside Afghanistan and Pakistan as this is in the best interest for all countries involved in attaining peace and winning the war on terror.

Reported for http://www.PakistanisforPeace.com by Manzer Munir

President Obama caps Wall Street executives pay tied to bailout money.

With the US and much of the world in a deep recession,  perhaps  an economic depression, President Obama today ordered a cap on the pay of Wall Street executives working at banks and financial instutions that are receiving bailout money by the US government.  The ‘poor’ senior executives of these firms can now only make $500,000 a year as their top compensation due to the new restrictions imposed by the US Tresury.  This move comes after the American people were outraged that last year Wall Street handed out over $18 billion in bonuses to its employees as losses by these same firms required the US government to jump in and bail them out with a $700 billion financial industry bailout Congress created towards the end of 2008. Due to the economic situation in the US, it is high time that the leaders of these institutions that have been primarily responsible for much of the financial meltdown be held responsible and at the very least abstain from excessive payouts during this crisis. It is well understood that many conflicts around the world have deep socio-economic roots to them and the fixing of the global economy needs to begin where the worldwide meltdown started and that is at the heart of Wall Street in the USA.  We at Pakistanis for Peace commend President Obama in making the right decision on this matter and hope that his further efforts will help end this deep economic meltdown that the US and much of the world is experiencing.

This Finanical News Reported by Manzer Munir for www.Pakistanisforpeace.com

Bullseye for the Bullies

 

The Taliban are the people’s enemy #1 for Pakistan and for people in Afghanistan. This menace must be wiped out and its leaders jailed and their weapons confiscated and if they are not willing to lay down arms peacefully to the will of the state, they should be made to bear full punishment by the rule of the law.

Editorial opinion by Manzer Munir for www.PakistanisforPeace.com

Violence in Beautiful Swat Valley of Pakistan

 

The Pakistani army reported killing at least 17 Taliban militants and injuring many others in an offensive in the north western Swat Valley in Pakistan. According to some local officials many more people are dead after civilian casualties are counted in as well. The recent offensives by the Pakistan army came after recent attacks by the Taliban militants on the local population and at some local girls schools in the valley.

 

The swat valley is in the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan and is a very beautiful area long been a tourist destination for Pakistanis and foreigners. With green meadows, clear lakes, and high mountains, it is a place of great natural beauty and was known as the “Switzerland of Pakistan”.Since December of 2008 most of the area is now dangerous for tourists and locals alike as attacks have continued on anyone who defies the Taliban’s strict and medieval interpretation of Islam. Since then the militants have tightened their hold on the valley by cosing girls schools, intimidating locals, setting up their own courts and execution and beheading of people in the area.

 

The army started an offensive against the Taliban in the area after the government announced it was going to regain control back from the militants. Many locals are concerned that the army and the militants are not the only ones that are becoming casualties as many innocent Pakistanis in the Swat valley are dying as well due to this violence. The areas economy is also in shambles as not only foreign tourism, but the local Pakistani tourists are staying away from this once peaceful and always beautiful part of Pakistan.

 

Reporting  by Manzer Munir for  Http://www.PakistanisforPeace.com            

Obama reaches out to the Muslim world

 

President Barack Hussein Obama told the Muslim world on Tuesday that “The Americans are not your enemy” and urged the the Palestinians and the Israelis to return to the negotiating table.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya TV channel, President Obama stated that the Israel and Palestinian situation should not be the only focal point, but rather the situation in Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Pakistan and other flash points across the Muslim world should be considered as well in regards to peace in the Muslim world.

“My job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives,” said President Obama during the interview.

“But if you look at the track record… America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there’s no reason why we can’t restore that.”

President Obama has promised to directly address Middle East questions at the start of his presidency rather than wait several years like his predecessor George W. Bush, but he did not want expectations raised too high for swift progress for Middle East peace, following the recent Israeli war against Gaza.

But he said he also believed “that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people”. “Instead, it’s time to return to the negotiating table” he said.

Earlier in the week, Obama met with his new US Mideast envoy George Mitchell at the White House along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Mitchell left Tuesday for a mission to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, London and Paris in his attempts to jump start a dialogue between the Arabs and the Israelis in the region and other important players in helping broker a peace deal such as the UK and France along with the US.

To the Muslim world, a more receptive and open president in the white house who is deemed fair when dealing with the contentious issues of Israel and Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Chechnya to name a few hot spots will be a welcome change from the past when they have felt virtually ignored. There is also deep suspicion on the part of many in Arab street and the Muslim world in Mr. Obama’s intentions as many will always see a US president as a staunch one sided ally of Israel no matter what the issue and situation.

It will be a very difficult job for the new administration to turn the public opinion in the Muslim world around towards the US after years of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and violence in Israel and Palestine. Pakistanis for Peace believes that the new administration is very well positioned to make some major advancements in the area of peace in the Middle East as well as Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. With capable leaders in Obama, Biden, Hillary Clinton, George Mitchell, and Richard Holbrooke, the US foreign policy team is filled with star studded powerful and connected individuals that we hope will shake up the political map in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent and bring some much needed change to this part of the world deemed the most dangerous. We wish him and his team the best of luck and look forward to intense negotiations and diplomacy that will ensure an agreeemnt to the elusive peace between all the sides.

Report filed for PakistanisforPeace.com by Manzer Munir

 

Recapping the Bush Years

A Recap

A Recap

Acid Attacks on School Girls by the Taliban

 

A 19-year-old and her 16-year-old sister were attacked by two men with
acid in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The assailants wanted to deter the girls
from attending school. These were not the only attacks carried out that
November day of 2008. Several other students and teachers were attacked
on their way to the Meir Weis Mena School in Kandahar, the third-largest
city in Afghanistan. Families were frightened and the children did not
go to school for many weeks after the attacks.

In Kandahar, the Taliban had set up their headquarters and it was also
home for the Taliban leader Mullah Omar. The Taliban were in power for
five years during which time they forbade girls to attend schools. If
they tried to go to school they were beaten. Their parents and family
members were harassed or even killed for allowing the girls to attend
school.

Since the Taliban fell in 2001, the government of Afghanistan has made
an effort to educate boys as well as girls. According to the government
figures, 2 out of the 6 million children attending schools are girls.

The President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai and the President
of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari met to diffuse the tensions and agreed to
bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. Afghanistan and
Pakistan both have radical groups who are against the education of
girls. Pakistan cooperated fully and in a brotherly fashion to the issue at hand. In the past each has accused the other of doing such crimes but this meeting proved to be different.

As for Shamsia, revenge would be getting an education. “Why wouldn’t I
want to come to school? I want our
country to persevere. I have to do something for my country, I must go
to school.”

This story brings to light the injustices in many countries that still
occurs in the name of religion and culture but they are nothing but
oppression. Islam has given women and men equal rights and education
empowers each to attain a better future for themselves and their future
generations. Islamic education as well as school education are
extremely important since each play a vital role in an individual’s
life. Due to the lack of education on both fronts, radical groups
ensnare and entrap their victims and use them to commit atrocious crimes
as above and worse. Education must be made as common as food and water
for all the people of the world so that hatred, poverty and terrorism
can be brought to an end.

Most of the 1300 girls of the Meir Weis Mena School, including all if the wounded ones in the attack two months ago have refused to be intimidated and cowed by the Taliban and are back in class studying and defying the demands of a group of ignorant men with guns and filled with hate. It is a testament to the world that their desire to defy their oppressors is greater than the Taliban’s desire of supression of basic human rights.

Pakistanis for Peace believes that the horrific attacks against girls by Taliban and other militants must end. The education of both boys and girls is necessary for a society to advance. Islamic teachings are very supportive of education and seeking of knowledge. Nowhere in the Koran does it specifically forbid educating girls and the use of religious rhetoric by the Taliban and its supporters seeks to confuse the public into believing that teaching girls is not Islamic.

Reported by M. Lameesa Ali and Manzer Munir for http://www.PakistanisforPeace.com

Seasoned Diplomat Appointed Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan

richard-holbrooke

On her very first day as the new Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton called on the Prime Minister of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari to advise him and the Pakistani government that the Obama administration has designated former US ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke as a special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A senior diplomat at the State department stated that it was a touch-base meeting between Clinton and Zardari but she also wanted to advise him that Pakistan would continue to be a crucial ally to the US and also a partner in fighting extremists in the region. It is noted that back in the 80’s the United States had appointed a similar envoy during the Afghan-Russian war and the individual had been instrumental in helping the Afghan resistance groups comprised of the mujhaideens fighters successful in repelling the Soviets with US and Pakistani backed assistance.

The US government terminated the special envoy position after the end of the war and the pullout of the Soviets but the incoming Obama administration is keen on reestablishing the important position.

Richard Holbrooke is seen as a very capable career diplomat very familiar with the two countries from his time as the American ambassador for the UN. He was also nominated 7 times for the Nobel Peace prize and is also the only person to have held the assistant secretary of state for two different regions of the world. He also was instrumental in brokering the peace agreement among the Bosnian warring factions that led to the Dayton Peace Accord in 1995. During Bill Clinton he was considered heavily for the Secretary of State position before eventually losing out to Madeline Albright as the head person in charge at the State department.

More recently he also served as a senior advisor for Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President and is seen as a close confidant of the former first lady.  President Obama and Secretary Clinton have stated that the Afghanistan and Pakistan border and the situation in the two couuntries will be one of their top foreign policy concerns. The appointment of such an experience and powerful diplomat underscores this commitment by the new administration.

Pakistanis for Peace believes that the appointment of Richard Holbrooke as the special envoy to the region is a welcome sign to a region that will be a critial focus for the US and for this new president. An accomplished and well experienced diplomat such as Mr. Holbrooke will ensure that when he talks, Kabul and Islamabad are aware that it is essentially Secretary Clinton or President Obama himself that they are conversing with and this direct link back to Washington will enable the two countries to fight the militants better. There is not just change afoot in Washington DC, the appointment of Richard Holbrook signals the arrival of a more robust and engaging US policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan.

-Reporting by Manzer Munir for  www.pakistanisforpeace.com .

Both Pakistan and India dogged by Extremists both internal and external

pakistan-and-india-cat-comic

Indian Army Officer Charged in Bombings in India

indian-army

An Indian army officer is among 11 people to have been charged in connection with a bombing in western India in 2008~

7 people were killed as a result of his actions and more than 100 people were also injured in the blast in the predominantly Muslim town of Malegaon.

 Among the list of accused are also a retired army major and some Hindu activists and right wing nuts.

Blamed on Islamic militants, several cities across India were plauged by bombings.

Questions about a Fair Trial

The accused policeman is Lt Col Srikant Purohit, who was the first serving Indian army officer to be arrested in connection with a bombing in India’s history.

 

Charges against him and 10 others in a special court for aiding, abetting and conspiring to carry out the blasts in September last year.

In a surprising twist, another of the accused is a female Hindu priest.

According to their pleadings, all 11 have denied the allegations leveled against them.

 Police are alleging that the accused had links with a Hindu group that conspired to attack Muslims in the region.

Many groups such as the Bharatiya Janata Party and other Hindu nationalist groups have questioned the allegations and have demanded that the accused receive a fair trial in India’s courts.

Across the nation the press and the people are talking and shocked that a serving member of India’s army could be involved in terror and destruction in a country where he himself as a soldier is also sworn to protect.  Meanwhile Pakistani groups and Kashmiri activists point to this example of cases where Muslim groups are not involved in any bombings or killings but get blamed nonetheless. An annonymous source within a NGO stated that until there is an honest effort on part of both the Indian and Pakistani governments, a lasting peace will never be achieved in South Asia.

INDIA-BOMBS/HINDUS

Report filed from Orlando, FL by Manzer Munir

Temporary Halt in Bombings

palestinian-boy-with-arafat-in-back palestinian-boy-with-arafat-in-back1palestinian-boy-with-arafat-in-back2palestinian-boy-with-arafat-in-back3arafat

 

January 19, 2009, Israel announced a cease-fire after 22 days of utter
chaos and destruction in Gaza.  Twelve hours later, Palestinian
militants followed suite and declared a week long cease-fire.  More
than 1300 people have died of which 1% are Israelis.
Earlier, a summit hosted  by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, called on International leaders to
discuss the crisis and its resolutions.

Also present were Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and UN
chief Ban Ki-moon.   Although no concrete resolutions came at the end
of the summit, each side did make its own unilateral declaration of
a cease fire.  Still far from any permanent peace agreement the Israelis and
Palestinians each declared their demands.  Israel demands a complete
halt to the missile attacks on their Southern border by Hamas or any
Palestinian militants.  Hamas wants Israel to withdraw from the Gaza
strip within a week and to remove all bans and allow access to
humanitarian needs.  Or as stated by Charles Clayton, the national
director of World Vision Jerusalem, an aid group, an “18-month
blockade of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza,” needs to come to an
end.  And he added that this blockade has “devastated the economy,
halted services, aisraels-wailing-wall2nd rendered the people of Gaza entirely dependent on
humanitarian aid.”  In the near future, the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has planned
a meeting in Jerusalem.  Leaders of the UK, France, Germany, Italy,
Spain and the Czech Republic are expected to attend.  What, if any,
positive outcome will be reached at this meeting, remains to be seen.  As always, unless all sides are true and honest at the negotiating table, there will not be any lasting peace between these two long warring tribes of the children of Abraham.  Pakistanis for Peace calls on its Jewish and Muslim brothers in both countries to sit down and make an ever lasting peace with the help of perhaps the most important American President since FDR coming into office in Washington DC on Tuesday January 20, 2009. These two groups of people need to realize that with Secretary Clinton and President Obama on board, they have true allies in Real and Everlasting Peace and Never a better time than now to attain it. The Jews and the Muslims greet each other the same way when they meet their families or friends on the street. They say “Shalom” and the Muslims say “Salaam”. Both mean “Peace” in Hebrew and Arabic. Interesting that such a common word and form of greeting and salutation can be so uncommon in the lands of Jesus. Let’s continue to hope for peace in the region on the eve of this historic presidency in the United States across the Atlantic.

President Barack Hussein Obama, 44th President of the United States

President Barack Hussein Obama, 44th President of the United States

 

As  reported by Manzer Munir in Orlando, FL USA and Taneem Ali and M. Lameesa Ali in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Two Weeks of Conflict in the Middle East

 

It’s been about 15 days of fighting now.  Over 828 Palestinians are
dead of which 235 were children, 92 women and 62 elderly.  On Israel’s
side, 13 civilians and 10 soldiers have died.

This pointless brutality must stop.  The UN continues to call for a
cease fire.  Is it possible that Israel and Hamas may finally listen
and obey?  Israel claims that the operation is in its final days.
Hamas is still firing rockets into Southern Israel, down from the
50-30 range from 2 weeks ago to about 17 today.

The past 2 weeks have brought many conflictiing stories.  After the
air raids, Israel started an all out ground offensive on Hamas.  This
brought the onslaught of many Palestinians.  January 6th, Israel
bombed a UN school which was sheltering many Palestinians, mainly
children.  The UN had done its part and informed the Israelis of the
school’s coordinates.  The Israelis claim that there were Hamas
militants firing from the school and so they retaliated.  Witnesses
claim there were no Hamas militants and Chris Gunness, a spokesman for
the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said that they are
99.9% sure that there were no such militants at the school.  The UN
run agency made vital atempts to investigate and seek the truth where
as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) did not send troops to the school
for any such investigation.  But they claimed that two of Hamas’
militants, Iman and Hassan Abu Askar, were killed in the school. Since
the UNRWA lost aid workers, they annouced a halt to provide any aid.
What an absolute mess.  Loss of life based on miscommunication or loss
of life
due to carelessness.

Regardless of who’s claims are correct or not, Pakistanis for Peace
stands for peace.  We want to see an end to the bloodshed.  Death and
destruction for either side is not the answer.

India accuses Pakistani government agencies for Mumbai Attacks

 

India today accused Pakistan and more specifically Pakistani government agencies such as the spy agency ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) for complicity in the Mumbai attacks in November of 2008 that killed more than 170 people. Prime Minsister of India, Manmohan Singh, said that the Mumbai attacks must have had some official support from the Pakistani government. He also accused Pakistan of  “whipping up war hysteria” with its citizens by having war exercises and being on a high state of readiness.

Speaking to a meeting of chief ministers of various Indian states, Mr Singh said that the  “sophistication and military precision of the attack it must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan”.

India says the men who carried out the attack were from the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which according to some analysts has longstanding links with Pakistan’s top spy agency, ISI.

Both LeT and Pakistan have denied any involvement in the attacks.

On Monday, Delhi handed to Islamabad evidence on the attacks said to include the interrogation of the surviving gunman, details of phone conversations between the attackers and weapons information.

The Pakistani High Commissioner in Delhi, said on Tuesday: “India has given us some material, we are examining it. There is no question of rejection or otherwise.” Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani promised to punish any Pakistani citizens if any “credible evidence” was found against them.

It remains to be seen if the evidence presented to Pakistan by the Indian government has enough proof to implicate any Pakistani citizens or even any Pakistani government involvement in the Mumbai attacks. As is often the case, the two sides trade accusations whenever there is attacks in their own countries. Too often Pakistan blames India and Indian government agencies in attacks that have happened inside Pakistan. Similarly, the Indian government has accused Pakistan in many other attacks in its borders such as the attacks at the Indian Parliment in 2001.

Unfortunately, the accusations of involvement by both sides in attacks of terror in each other’s territory is not new. The lack of trust and understanding between two neighbors who share more than just a long border is disheartening. Nowhere else in the world are there two border countries who have weapons of mass destruction and a lit fuse away from total mutual anhilation. Even North and South Korea have thousands of US troops and UN monitors helping prevent an accidental all out war whereas India and Pakistan have no such controls in place. Another incident like the Mumbai attacks can lead to an all out war that South Asia and the world can ill afford.

We would like to see Pakistan and India resolve their main dispute, namely Kashmir. Until the Kashmir issue is resolved, the accusations traded between the two countries and the constant mistrust between the two nations will continue and get worse. The people of India and Pakistan share the same language, culture, race, and customs. The difference in religious beliefs should not be such a dividing factor that it has been since partition in 1947 of the sub-continent. We hope and pray that the leaders of the two countries come to a realization during the aftermath of these horrible attacks in Mumbai that the only real solution between the two nations is peace as war is NOT an option considering the nuclear weapons that both countries possess. One can only hope that the leaders of the two countries come to this realization before it is too late.

Reported by Manzer Munir in Orlando, FL, USA.

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