Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Hindu : The India Cables / Terrorism : Pakistan's Punjab turning into hotbed of extremism, U.S. had warned

The Hindu : The India Cables / Terrorism : Pakistan's Punjab turning into hotbed of extremism, U.S. had warned

While Pakistan's security establishment is yet to be convinced that militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed need to be done away with, U.S. diplomats have long been sending worried messages back to Washington that these groups, along with a network of radical madrassas and charity fronts, are exploiting the poverty in the country's Punjab province and turning it into a hotbed of extremism.

In a series of cables sent over a period of two years, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and the Consulate in Lahore documented the ways in which the madrassas recruited boys as young as eight, indoctrinated them into jihadi philosophy, and sent them to terrorist training camps, on the back of an estimated $100 million flowing in from organisations from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The cables document that the southern and western Punjab, which once constituted “the spiritual heartland of South Asia's Sufi communities” and is a traditionally moderate area, had become a hotbed of extremism in Pakistan.

Through a network of Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith madrassas, radical Islamic groups exploited “choking poverty and underdevelopment” prevalent in this region to recruit disaffected youth for terrorist organisations. Ajmal Kasab, the arrested 26/11 Mumbai attacker, was an infamous example, the cables noted.

Quoting officials, the cables said the local police felt threatened by the radical groups in this region: some the madrassas were “no-go areas” for them, and they hesitated to enter them.

If the Pakistan government wanted to reverse this trend, it “must dismantle both public and state support for militant groups” and offer attractive alternatives to the disillusioned youth, the cables recommended.

A cable (178082: secret/noforn) sent on November 13, 2008 said the recruiters usually exploited families with multiple children, “particularly those facing severe financial difficulties.” “Charitable” organisations such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a Lashkar-e-Tayyaba front organisation; the Al-Khidmat Foundation which was connected to the Jamaat-e-Islami; or Jaish-e-Mohammad that worked as “a charitable front for the terrorist organization of the same name” would introduce the local Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith maulana to these families who would then try to convince them “to devote the lives of one or two of their sons to Islam.”

The cable noted that the maulanas adopted a two-pronged strategy. First he would convince the families that their poverty is a result of “idolatrous” worship at local Sufi shrines, and would point out that sacrifice and martyrdom were the quickest way to return to the “true path of Islam.”

Then the maulanas would offer a cash payment to compensate the family for its “sacrifice” to Islam. The cable mentioned, citing the sources, that the average compensation amount was “approximately Rps. 500,000 (approximately USD 6500) per son.” It noted that “a small number of Ahl-e-Hadith clerics are reportedly recruiting daughters as well.”

Young recruits aged between eight and 12 were sent to extremist madrassas, mostly located in isolated areas. These were usually small in size so as not to draw attention. The cable did not give the exact number of such madrassas, but estimated that about 200 of them were functioning in the southern and western parts of Punjab. Prominent amongst these, as the locals identified them for U.S. officials, were at “Khitarjee” in Bahawalpur district, in Bahawalpur city and on the outskirts of Dera Ghazi Khan city.

On completion, based on the teacher's assessment of the “child's willingness to engage in violence,” the “graduates” were employed either as clerics in madrassas or sent to training camps for jihad.

Citing local contacts, the cable noted that the recruitment and training project in the Punjab region was funded by religious donations, and the amount annually collected was estimated to be about $100 million. These mostly originated from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to the cable.

A leading Sufi scholar and member of the Punjab Provincial Assembly informed the Principal Officer from the U.S. Embassy that he had personally provided a lot of information on the location of extremist centres, madrassas, and personalities to provincial and national leaders, as well as to the local police. But the officials and police thought that direct confrontation with the madrassas was “too dangerous,” he said.

The police felt threatened by the radicals in the region, and some madrassas were “no-go areas” for them, observed a cable, dated May 22, 2009 (208236: confidential). Punjab Home Secretary Nazim Hassan Asif told U.S. officials that government representatives had met local police personnel in the south Punjab districts and told them it would not tolerate any “no-go areas” and that the police “should not hesitate” to go to these places.

According to a cable (178082), Allama Qasmi, brother of the federal Minister of Religious Affairs, told U.S. officials that even if the political will could be found, “the bureaucracy in the Religious Affairs, Education, and Defense Ministries remained dominated by Zia-ul-Haq appointees who favoured the Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith religious philosophies.”

Apart from religious and political reasons, poverty and lack of development contributed to the growing extremism in Punjab, observed a cable sent under the name of U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson in October 2009 (230969: confidential).

The southern parts of Punjab were mainly agricultural with a high concentration of bonded labour in agriculture, brick kiln operations, and carpet-weaving. When the old agricultural system broke down the large labour pool lost support, the cable noted. The people also lost their “real access” to social welfare and justice, which the earlier system, though “feudal,” had provided.

The government education system failed to prepare the youth for alternative careers and did not provide employable skills, leaving them frustrated. This “common occurrence is reflected in the story of Ajmal Kasab,” the cable remarked.

“The newly rich local merchants who benefit from corruption, along with lavish foreign-financed madrassas, stand in stark contrast to the meager existence of this disaffected generation,” the cable remarked.

One of the recommendations of the U.S. officials to counter the trends in Punjab was to offer immediate relief in the form of food aid, microcredit and cash for work, and develop immediate impact programmes to improve infrastructure. The Pakistan government should “offer alternate and positive dreams to the disillusioned and frustrated youth,” they suggested.

The Pakistan Cables are being shared by The Hindu with NDTV in India and Dawn in Pakistan.

Keywords: cable178082, cable208236, cable230969, The Pakistan Cables, WikiLeaks, cablegate, India, Pakistan, Kashmir issue, extremism

Friday, May 6, 2011

NEWS {J&K}: DC Udhampur convened meeting after city rocks with...

NEWS {J&K}: DC Udhampur convened meeting after city rocks with...: "DC Udhampur convened meeting after city rocks with Remote Blast Amit Sharma Udhampur, May 2 Following a blast that rocked Udhampur town,..."

DC Udhampur convened meeting after city rocks with Remote Blast
Amit Sharma
Udhampur, May 2
Following a blast that rocked Udhampur town, the Deputy Commissioner, Baseer Ahmed Khan convened a meeting with representatives of political parties, social and religious organizations, prominent citizens and commerce and trade associations here today.
The Senior Superintendent of Police Udhampur, Surinder Gupta was also present on the Occasion.
During the meeting, the Deputy Commissioner asked the people to keep a strict vigil on nefarious activities of suspicious elements. He said that with the active cooperation and support of the citizens of Udhampur, we have to defeat the evil designs of such elements who are hell bent to create communal discord and spread violence. He assured that no stone would be left unturned to nab these antisocial and criminal elements adding that the support of the citizens is indeed indispensible for this purpose.
He also appreciating the people of Udhampur district belonging to all communities for showing the highest degree of responsibility for protecting and maintaining age old tradition of communal harmony and brotherhood at all levels. He also asked them not to pay any need to the false rumors created by some miscreants for disturbing peaceful atmosphere in the district.

The SSP, Gupta while speaking on the occasion said that people of Udhampur are peace loving and would never give a chance to vested interests to shatter the peace full social fabric in the district. He cautioned the people not to fall prey of anti national elements who always try to create trouble for disturbing peaceful atmosphere. He urged upon them to help the police in identifying the miscreants who are involved in such acts.
Expressing shock over the incident, the citizens assured the administration for extending their full support in maintaining secular ethos and peace in the district. However, they also put forth their personal views to curve such type of happenings in the district.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner also provided immediate ex-gratia relief to the tune of Rs. one lac to next of kins of the deceased of the blast and also announced free medical treatment for the injured.

NEWS {J&K}: BJP condemned the Blast

NEWS {J&K}: BJP condemned the Blast: "BJP condemned the Blast Amit Sharma Udhampur, May 2 Bhartiya Janta Party state vice-president Pawan Gupta has strongly condemned the blast ..."

BJP condemned the Blast
Amit Sharma
Udhampur, May 2
Bhartiya Janta Party state vice-president Pawan Gupta has strongly condemned the blast in Birma- Pul in district Udhampur here on Monday.
While speaking Pawan Gupta said that, it is very unfortunate that such an untoward incident has happened in Udhampur which is highly condemnable.
However he said that, those who were behind this blast should be identified at the earliest and should put behind the bars, he expressed his condolence to the families of those who lost their lives in remote blast and prayed to the Almighty for providing peace to the departed soul.
Pawan Gupta further demanded compensation to the tune of Rupees 10 lack should be given to their families each Government to those who family members who lost their lives and critically injured should be benefited with Rupees 5 lacks

NEWS {J&K}: Baldev Sharma and Lal Chand, the two MLAs in a joi...

NEWS {J&K}: Baldev Sharma and Lal Chand, the two MLAs in a joi...: "Amit Sharma Jammu, May 05 Baldev Sharma and Lal Chand, the two MLAs in a joint media address on Thursday while putting their respective pos..."


Baldev Sharma and Lal Chand, the two MLAs in a joint media address on Thursday while putting their respective position clear over the cross voting said that a conspiracy is being hatched within the party allegedly in connivance with the High Command to dissociate state cadre on 4-7 number as those identified as ‘culprits’ by the high command belong to a particular group.

Amit Sharma
Jammu, May 05
Baldev Sharma and Lal Chand, the two MLAs in a joint media address on Thursday while putting their respective position clear over the cross voting said that a conspiracy is being hatched within the party allegedly in connivance with the High Command to dissociate state cadre on 4-7 number as those identified as ‘culprits’ by the high command belong to a particular group.

Defiant on carrying the battle till the end, two of the seven suspended BJP MLA’s from one the faction of the party, led a scathing attack on ex-president Ashok Khajuria.

With both the factions refusing to blink, it has become an open war with both sides gunning for each other’s heads. Though factionalism was prevalent in the party for quite some, but after the cross voting saga it has been turned into an open battle.
Now it appears that cross voting issue has become a side show with focus now has been completely shifted on gaining control in the party.
Both addressed their answer to O P Kohli, president central disciplinary committee. “ It was a deliberate attempt by the chief whip who enjoys a selected patronage of the high command to devise a strategy to sideline the other group and indict them into cross voting knowingly that the numbers available with the party were not sufficient for election of MLC of its own party,” said Baldev Sharma, the MLA from Reasi.
He reiterated his earlier accusation towards the chief whip Ashok Khajuria saying that despite his constant insistence to him, the latter did not issued a whip for abstaining from voting that encouraged the cross voting by seven adding that the ‘shameful act’ was not based on ‘vote for cash’ but was a bigger game-plan to disintegrate the party.
Baldev also pointed out the instance of Khajuria disclosing his ballot paper charging him with blatantly invalidating his vote against the whip issued by him.
He also hinted at the proximity of Ashok Khajuria with the party which is beneficiary of cross voting.
MLA Bani Lal Chand who also shared the dais with Baldev while charging Khajuria recalled the incident of Party High Command’s recent meet chaired by Raj Nath Singh in Jammu which was deliberately skipped by Khajuria to meet an important bureaucrat that amply pointed towards Khajuria’s doubtful integrity.
Both the MLAs also held the ‘clean chit MLAs’ responsible for playing hide and seek and not responding to call to undergo narco and brain mapping test.
“We are open to all tests and enquiries and also challenge the clean chit MLAs to come forward for the same to get the truth out,” said the both announcing that the ‘real BJP’ consists of them only as others are faking their positions in the party.
“There has been a well thought out conspiracy to sideline the tallest leader Prof. Chaman lal Gupta, who served the party for last 62 years.

NEWS {J&K}: GPS system for commercial vehicle will soon in Jam...

NEWS {J&K}: GPS system for commercial vehicle will soon in Jam...: "Amit Sharma GPS system for commercial vehicle will soon in Jammu and Kashmir: Lohia Jammu, April Traffic police will soon install Global Po..."

GPS system for commercial vehicle will soon in Jammu and Kashmir: Lohia
Jammu, April
Traffic police will soon install Global Positioning System (GPS) in the state to control the fleet management system in commercial vehicular to curb the violation of the traffic norms, Heemant Kumar Lohia IG traffic said

Department will install the system of GPS to monitor the violation of traffic rules through overloading of heavy vehicle like trucks and other commercial in the state, the system will monitor each and every escalation in the state as well as out side.

“The system will trace the vehicle install at any place, however it will not only helps us to curb violation of traffic rules but minimize theft of vehicle” IG said

However, GPS system in vehicular to minimize the violation of traffic norms in the state, people will be keep them selves aware before violation of any traffic rule, he said

IG traffic said that, the main function of the GPS system is to monitor the routes which were installed in the system during the time of instillation and giving the route permit to the vehicle, over lading will never be possible after the system because it measure the load in trucks as well.

The GPS vehicle tracking systems provide true GPS tracking and location, throughout the state develop specifically to provide commercial fleet solutions, however it’s not a costly product it costs about eight to nine thousand rupees which had to be pay by owner, it’s a compulsory exercise to every commercial vehicle

IG traffic said that, “system works through satellites as well as through phone connection” however still it’s a distance dream for the traffic police to install and managed the whole system properly , one of the police official said after the press meet.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Geelani calls for funeral prayers for Osama

Geelani calls for funeral prayers for Osama

Hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has asked people to hold funeral prayers on Friday for Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda who was shot dead in Pakistan on May 2 by a US Navy team.

Geelani has appealed to Imams and people to hold funeral prayers in absentia for bin Laden after Friday prayers on Friday afternoon, a Hurriyat spokesman said in a statement.

Terming him a 'martyr', Geelani said bin Laden was not just one person but "he represented a thinking which opposed foreign occupational forces".

"His heart bore the pain of the entire Muslim Ummah (community). He gave up his life of comfort to fight for their cause," the statement said.

The separatist leader said he wanted to participate in the funeral prayers but he has been placed under house arrest by the police since Thursday morning.

UAE issues 'stapled visa' to PoK residents including its PM

UAE issues 'stapled visa' to PoK residents including its PM

The United Arab Emirates has begun issuing "stapled visas" to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir residents, including its "Prime Minister" Sardar Attique Ahmed, a media report said today.

The practice of issuing "stapled visas" is new and previously visas were stamped as usual on the passports, the Pakistan Observer newspaper reported today.

PoK "Prime Minister" Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, who holds a Pakistani diplomatic passport, was issued a stapled visit visa by the UAE Embassy in Islamabad on Tuesday, the report said.

China had sparked a diplomatic row with India last year by issuing stapled visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dialogue and delivery, Kashmir's mantra for the summer - Hindustan Times

Dialogue and delivery, Kashmir's mantra for the summer - Hindustan Times

The Jammu and Kashmir state government, in conjuction with the Centre, has worked out a two pronged strategy to stem a repeat of last year's turbulent summer. Enough is enough, is the message that New Delhi and Srinagar have decided to send this time, as trouble in the Valley for three consecutive summers, beginning 2008, has broken down the state economy and brought severe international embarrassment, according to official sources.

The strategy is : reach out to the people, both in political and administrative terms, combined with other visible steps like, gradual withdrawal of security forces and repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. In addition, stern action will be taken against trouble makers.

Two panels -- one of the army corps commanders in the state and another of the state’s home department and police -- are in the process of identifying the areas from where the Disturbed Area Act can be withdrawn. This would also mean an automatic repeal of the AFSPA from such places.

"We are waiting for the report of the deliberation of these panels," said chief minister Omar Abdullah.

Omar had voiced apprehension that some elements were bent upon disturbing peace, this summer as well. Though he did not identify the miscreants, but his reference was too clear to be missed; separatists and habitual trouble makers.

"Every effort would be made to ensure that there is no trouble during the summer this year," Omar said.

Sources said that the union home ministry has offered all cooperation to the state government to chart a concrete path towards peace. The home minister P Chidambaram had undertaken a joint review of the security situation.

"Both of them are on the same page,” a senior functionary told Hindustan Times.

The police and army recruitment rallies, held in the Valley in the past one month, have been a grand success, with thousands of Kashmiri youth turning up to join the forces.

Employment seeking youth are also being encouraged to compete for civil services at the national level, and the previous topper of the IAS examinations, Shah Faesal, is being projected as a role model, whose example should be emulated.

Dialogue and delivery are the two other major courses being pursued. The interlocutors are already on the job, they have held several rounds of talks with various sections of people and given their recommendations.

Chidambaram and Omar have credited them with 'changing the discourse' in Kashmir.

"There is no alternative to delivery and the Centre has been told that it should also help the state in doing so. The funds were not released in time. The release of the funds would help make payment for the works undertaken to provide education, health care and road connectivity to the people all across the state,” an official told Hindustan Times.

While all these measures are being considered mandatory to keep the situation under control in the Valley, there seems to be a strong consensus on controlling trouble makers by restricting their activities.

Geelani working on succession plan: Omar - Hindustan Times

Geelani working on succession plan: Omar - Hindustan Times

Chief minister Omar Abdullah has taken on hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, accusing him of preparing the ground for his son Naeem-ul-Zafar to succeed him. This is the first time any mainstream political leader has taken on Geelani on this count. The chief minister’s comment came in

response to a query during an exclusive interview with HT on whether Geelani is actually a game changer in Kashmir. "Geelani’s ability to recognise issue (like the Dogra certificate) is overrated," Abdullah said. "He is preparing the ground for his son to succeed him."
Once Geelani puts his plan of succession into place, there will be no shortage of game changers, he said. "But his ability to change the game depends on our messing up. It is only when we make mistakes that he is able to capitalise on them and change the game," Abdullah said.

Geelani is now being called maharaja or badshah by his supporters, Abdullah said. "In this whole Nizam-e-Mustafa that he wants to create, how can he explain his badshahat to the people? It is something for him to explain," he added.

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