Posts Tagged ‘ Pakistan ’

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            

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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 .

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.

Pakistanis for Peace

A little over two weeks have passed since the attacks in Mumbai, India. Since then there has been new information presented to Pakistani authorities providing evidence that militant extremist groups inside Pakistan were involved in planning and carrying out the attacks. Although at this time it is unlikely that a full scale war will break out between India and Pakistan, It is assumed that India may be considering several options including strategic attacks inside Pakistan where these groups are operating and have their camps. Combined with the American bombings inside Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, this is exactly the sort of thing the army has feared. Having two borders to worry about in addition to unrest within the country due to the lack of safety and security for citizens and foreigners alike makes it a very difficult time to be the head of the army as is General Kiyani.

From the attacks that happened in India 2 weeks ago, arose a small but determined movement within the Pakistani community inside Pakistan and abroad where 3-6 million people of Pakistani origin live around the world. Pakistanis for Peace stared as a group on Facebook into an idea for a global forum for Pakistani and non Pakistani people to come together and demand a change for peace with India. We are tired of seeing Muslims killing Muslims because one is Shia and one is Sunni. We are tired seeing death and destruction brought to every corner of our beautiful country. First it was Peshawer during the Afghan-Russian war. Then the bombs and attacks happened frequently in Karachi. Finally Lahore and other cities were engulfed in constant violence. And now finally even Islamabad is not left untouched with the recent violence at the Lal Masjid and more recently with the horrific destruction of the Islamabad Marriott. Most importantly, decent and law abiding Pakistanis and Overseas Pakistanis are sick and tired of having to feel embarassed when we now have to tell someone when we first meet them about where we are from. A sample conversation goes like this: “Hi, nice to meet you. I am So and so.” “Where am I from?” “I am originally from Pakistan. Oh and by the way, no I am not a terrorist, I am one of the nice guys from Pakistan you never hear about”

Honestly, it should never come to that in real life. But it really has. Many Pakistanis who have never left the country do not know what it is like to go outside Pakistan. Especially to Europe or North America. We are looked upon with more suspicion now than ever. In a recent survey done in the United Kingdom, the average person assumed that Pakistan was either the country most responsible for terrorism around the world or was in the top 5 of countries listed by the survey respondant. It is a damn shame and I for one as a Pakistani American am going to do everything I can to get people inside and outside Pakistan to join us in our quest to bring a normalization of relations between India and Pakistan. Over 60 years of hostility has now only made things that much more dangerous for the neighborhood. We are both nuclear armed nations and with rampant corruption in both countries, poverty and extremist groups and terrorists makes it a very volatile situation with a very dangerous outcome. It is time for peace. Unconditional and uncontested. The people of both nations are demanding it. Now there is a momement within Pakistan and the Pakistani community. The silent majority is standing up and demanding peace. India and the world need to know that there are Pakistanis who are as determined about peace as the terrorists are about terror. The nations needs to understand that Pakistanis for Peace because Pakistan is for Peace.

This blog started as an idea on Facebook and is set up so that we can discuss the current situation from a peaceful Pakistani prespective. Keep checking for daily updates. And Please also join us on Facebook for a vibrant discussion as a group member and help support peace between India and Pakistan as well as in the Middle East and around the world!

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