"From the ground, drones are terrifying weapons that can be heard circling overhead for hours at a time."
"What's that buzzing sound?" Foreign Policy's third annual War Issue focuses on what it calls "Barack Obama's Secret Wars," including My Drone War, in which a Pakistani journalist for Newsday and the NYT describes what drone warfare looks and sounds like from the ground; The Obama Doctrine, which argues drone warfare is a failing strategy in both Yemen and Pakistan; The Evolution of Drone Warfare: A Photo History, 1917-2010, and more. The package also includes two takes on cyberwar - Cyberwar is still more hype than hazard and Cyberwar Is Already Upon Us - along with a lot of interesting links.
"A staggering 49 per cent of Pakistanis said that it did not matter to them whether the government was democratic or not. Even more surprisingly, 21 per cent of Indian respondents also said that it did not matter to people such as themselves whether the government was democratic or dictatorial. Added to the fact that a third of respondents offered no response at all, many people in countries with substantial experience of democracy or with significant experience of both democracy and dictatorship appear to share the Libyans’ ambivalence about democracy as the preferred form of governance."
An independent Pakistani musician, Asfandyar Khan, writes up the indie scene in Pakistan.
What might help defeat Muslim extremists in Pakistan for good? Bollywood!
Inshallah Kashmir: Living Terror is Oscar-nominated director Ashvin Kumar's brand new documentary, which is banned in India, that provides the perspectives of people that rarely receive positive mainstream media attention. [more inside]
Is Pakistan’s cricket star-turned-politician for real? What does Pakistan see in Imran Khan? Will there be a Pakistani Spring?
The Pakistanis Have A Point: Sure they can be infuriating, not to mention duplicitous, paranoid and self-pitying. But you try being a U.S. ally. -Bill Keller, NYTimes Magazine [more inside]
Secrecy defines Obama’s drone war. "Since September, at least 60 people have died in 14 reported CIA drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal regions. The Obama administration has named only one of the dead, hailing the elimination of Janbaz Zadran, a top official in the Haqqani insurgent network, as a counterterrorism victory. The identities of the rest remain classified, as does the existence of the drone program itself. Because the names of the dead and the threat they were believed to pose are secret, it is impossible for anyone without access to U.S. intelligence to assess whether the deaths were justified." [more inside]
Mohammed el Gorani, the youngest prisoner held at Guantánamo, has written a memoir of his time there, the lead up to his imprisonment, and subsequent release years later.
Today is the third anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. And India, tired of waiting, wants answers. [more inside]
Throughout time immemorial, songs of patriotism, such as Darryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten?" are a staple of countries at war. Our ballads root for our soldiers to come back safe and sound to families and sweethearts, but who sings the tale about the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, the autonomous drone that pines for the vending machine it left at home? Only the evil ghost of Johnny Cash does. [more inside]
The Ally From Hell. "Pakistan lies. It hosted Osama bin Laden (knowingly or not). Its government is barely functional. It hates the democracy next door. It is home to both radical jihadists and a large and growing nuclear arsenal (which it fears the U.S. will seize). Its intelligence service sponsors terrorists who attack American troops. With a friend like this, who needs enemies?" [Via]
Unlike other forms of match fixing, spot fixing does not affect the final result, only specific events within a game. Last year, in a cricket match at Lord's between England and Pakistan, three Pakistani cricketers and one agent 'conspired to cheat'. Following the decision [PDF] at Southwark Crown Court today, all four men will face prison time ranging from six to 32 months. It is the first time this charge, brought in under the Gambling Act 2005, has led to a sportsperson's conviction. [more inside]
An unusual new Pakistani band's first single courts controversy, and provides a window into a side of Pakistan rarely seen in Western news. The Beyghairat Brigade musically satirizes the politics of Pakistan, and goes viral. [more inside]
Pakistan's pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulam-i-Islam Party (JUI) has denounced the armed struggle by Islamist militants. "It is a unified decision of all the religious parties in Pakistan enshrined in this document that we call for an unarmed struggle within legal and constitutional limits," (via RFERL)
"Certainly, Uncle Sam, disowned by Pakistanis, has found innumerable devoted nephews in India. Indian and Pakistani perceptions of America now wildly diverge: A 2005 Pew poll conducted in 16 countries found the United States in the highest regard among Indians (71 percent having a favorable opinion) and nearly the lowest among Pakistanis (23 percent)." Why do India and Pakistan see America in such opposite ways?
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism have been carrying out research into the extent of drone missile strikes carried out by the CIA. Today they published findings. See also: facts and figures, a timeline, and their Twitter feed where updates are ongoing.
In August-September 1965, India and Pakistan went to war for the second time since their independence in 1947. On September 19, a civilian aircraft (Beechcraft Model 18) carrying the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat (bordering Pakistan) was shot down by a Pakistani Air Force pilot (flying an F-86F). Now, 46 years later, the Pakistani pilot has written a condolence letter to the daughter of the pilot of the Indian civilian aircraft.
In the New Yorker: Getting Bin Laden, What happened that night in Abbottabad. The writer, Nicholas Schmidle, spoke with NPR about the article and gives a short audio account of the raid.
Why Development Aid won't solve Radicalism "The data revealed four findings that undermine common wisdom about support for militancy in Pakistan...Overall, the findings suggest that arguments tying support for militancy to individuals’ socioeconomic status -- and the policy recommendations that often flow from this assumption -- require substantial revision."
In pictures: the life of a war photographer (There are some graphic images in here; not for the squeamish, though for most would be SFW for most workplaces).
"After Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden, the White House released a photo of President Barack Obama and his Cabinet inside the Situation Room, watching the daring raid unfold. Hidden from view, standing just outside the frame of that now-famous photograph was a career CIA analyst" - The man who hunted Osama bin Laden
With the NFL and NBA potentially going dark in the fall, Michael Schur and Nate DiMeo of Grantland.com decide to watch the India-Pakistan cricket match to see if it can be a suitable replacement.
"Davis didn’t have time to ponder their motives. The intersection of Jail and Ferozepur roads was packed with cars, bicycles, rickshaws, and pedestrians; the motorcycle pulled around his car and stopped just ahead of it. Shamshad, on the back of the bike, turned. He raised his pistol. He cocked it." [Black Ops and Blood Money] (previously and previouslier)
What to do about Pakistan? The Economist urges the west to focus on the Kashmir issue in order to help stabilize the region. Christopher Hitches urges the US to stand more firmly behind India.
The Most Dangerous Place In The World On May 29, fearless Pakistani journalist and author Syed Saleem Shazad disappeared on the way to a TV interview concerning his story about al Qaeda infiltration into the Pakistani military. On May 30, his badly beaten body was found in a canal 150 km from his home in Islamabad. Shazad, Pakistan Bureau Chief for Asia Times Online, had written many provocative stories that brought him threats from Pakistan's ISI. Shazad's murder shows again why Pakistan is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists.
Faiz for Dummies. Worth a read even if you don't know Urdu.
Risking it all in Pakistan – Pakistani truck drivers face death at every turn.
With the help of Bill Gates, the World's efforts to eradicate polio (PDF) have over the last few years gained a great deal of new hope (TED) [more inside]
It might be instructive to ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush's compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic (after proper burial rites, of course). Uncontroversially, he is not a “suspect” but the “decider” who gave the orders to invade Iraq -- that is, to commit the “supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for which Nazi criminals were hanged: in Iraq, the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country and the national heritage, and the murderous sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region. Equally uncontroversially, these crimes vastly exceed anything attributed to bin Laden.There is Much More to Say by Noam Chomsky.
"This is the retaliation for the killing of Osama bin Laden" - At least 70 Killed at military training centre in North-West Pakistan. Pakistan Taliban claim responsibility.
"This Imperial dOvewalker COOs his way into a Big Surprise. Parveen says let him have it with the dOveton Launcher 3000! He won't know what hit him after attacking my planet." Just another tale from the The Pakistani Starfleet Explorers. Via boingboing.
The Miscreants of Taliwood is probably one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. And it defies all types of film making (in a good way). The subject? The Talibanization of a certain part of Pakistan and the assault on art, entertainment, and humanity. But it’s not quite a documentary. It is a surreal trip through the fiction and the nonfiction of Peshawar, NWFP and FATA. It is fake, it is real, it is unbelievable. Basically, it is Pakistan. [more inside]
Following recent events; Frontline has rushed out a special report (53 mins). which takes the viewer inside two fronts of the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. They also find new evidence of covert support for elements of the Taliban by the Pakistani military and its intelligence service, the ISI [more inside]
An unexpected side-effect of the flooding in parts of Pakistan has been that millions of spiders have climbed up into trees to escape the rising flood waters, cocooning them.
"At a hearing of the Lahore Sessions Court convened for security reasons at the Kot Lakhpat Jail today, CIA contractor Raymond A. Davis was arraigned on double homicide charges and then quickly acquitted and released. Attorneys for Davis and the victims' families announced that they had entered into an agreement in which Davis offered compensation to the families -- $1.4 million total -- and they forgave him." [more inside]
Barely two months since the assassination of Salman Taseer, the former governor of Punjab, another of Pakistan's politicians noted for their stance on the blasphemy laws has also been gunned down. Shahbaz Bhatti, himself a Catholic, was the Federal Minister for Minorities. Now that two of the original three individuals involved in the calls to amend the blasphemy laws are dead, fears arise for the safety of Sherry Rehman, the female MP who went so far as to table a motion specifically requesting they be amended. That motion was ruled out by Pakistani President Yousuf Gilani. More on the blasphemy laws Previously
What the Chinese Guy Said. Jia Wei is currently doing a six-month internship at Dawn, one of Pakistan's leading English dailies. This is his blog.
The mystery of American Raymond A. Davis, currently imprisoned in the custody of local police in Lahore, Pakistan and charged with the Jan. 27 murder of two young men, whom he allegedly shot eight times with pinpoint accuracy through his car windshield, is growing increasingly murky. Also growing is the anger among Pakistanis that the US is trying to spring him from a Punjab jail by claiming diplomatic immunity. from The Deepening Mystery of Raymond Davis and Two Slain Pakistani Motorcyclists [more inside]
"Uniforms have been stolen in the past for this kind of thing." An update on the investigation into the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008. (Previously)
Veena Malik, a Pakistani actress, appeared on an Indian reality show, "appeared to cuddle with an Indian actor" and was criticized by a Pakistani cleric. Malik stood her ground: "What is your problem with me? You tell me your problem!" an angry Veena Malik asked the Muslim scholar, who accused her of insulting Islam. At least some people in the country are unimpressed by the criticism of Malik: If there’s something this country’s good at, it’s sanctimonious hypocrisy. Oh by the way, she's said to have broken new ground in the Twittersphere.
Salman Taseer has been assassinated in Islamabad. Why was he assassinated? Because he spoke in defence of Asia Bibi and against Pakistan's outdated blasphemy laws. Where do the justifications for death to those who insult Islam come from? Apparently not from the Quran...
It may take years, but some researcher will travel to Pakistan’s tribal areas and produce a definitive study on what it’s been like to live amidst an aerial bombardment from American pilotless aircraft. When that account inevitably comes out, it’s likely to find that 2010 — and especially the final quarter of 2010 — marked a turning point in how civilians coped with a drone war that turned relentless. (previously: 1,2)
Asian Games Cricket Gold for Pakistani Women Pakistan beat Bangladesh to grab gold in women's cricket at the Asian Games.