Saturday, December 26, 2009

War on terror and the Pakistani Wildlife


War on Terror is terrorizing the wildlife of Pakistan. Let me explain how this is happening.

Pakistan does not have much wildlife to begin with. The population explosion of the country has either made the hitherto wildlife extinct, or in a few other cases has made the animals shrink in numbers and be confined to challenging environments.

Loss of habitat is considered to be the primary reason for the extinction of animals. Homeless animals don’t survive for too long. Tiger that was once found from Balochistan to Assam is now extinct in the present day Pakistan. Whereas the Mughal Emperors used to hunt in the forests that once existed throughout Punjab, today we have the Hiran Minar, but no hiran (deer) in that area and the title of ‘Sher-e-Punjab’ (Lion of Punjab) is reserved for third-rate politicians. In fact, searching out from Pakistan the closest you would find tigers would be in the Ranthambore Reserve in Rajasthan, India. Neel Gaay (a large deer) has met a similar fate. Once found in many parts of Sindh and Punjab, Neel Gaay’s small herds are now found only at the Pakistan-India border. Loss of habitat is not the only way Pakistani wildlife is losing the battle of existence. Any kind of wildlife that can be hunted for its meat is endangered in Pakistan because Pakistanis, as reports suggest, are eager to please their Arab visitors at the cost of the natural beauty the fauna brings to a region.

With Pakistan’s mammalian wildlife retreated to small pockets in Balochistan (in the Kirthar range) and along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border the War on Terror enters the stage. War on Terror is about chasing the terrorists far and wide; it is about looking for the enemy everywhere, even in places people normally don’t go to. You can imagine Pakistan’s shuddering wildlife vexed by such an encroachment on its habitat.

The other way the War on Terror would push Pakistan’s wildlife over the brink is more insidious. Ever since the war started there has been a debate about what makes a person join the ranks of the terrorists. There seems to be a consensus that poorly developed areas with little education, fewer means for people to better their lot, fewer things to keep themselves busy with provide opportunities for the inhabitants to accept extremist ideas. On reaching the conclusion that the development of an area would increase the opportunities for the people of the area, there is a push to make Pakistan’s remote tribal areas more accessible to the connected world. War on Terror has come with an urgent need for “development.” Road construction projects are being planned even before there is any investment in education. With roads comes the evil: people who want to exploit the natural reserves of a region previously inaccessible. When roads would be built to remote areas in the north, that are still forested, one of the first people to use those roads would be the illegal loggers. The grab in the form of logged trees would invariably result in the loss of habitat for the wildlife of that region.

With our present understanding of the environmental issues, Pakistan must put its development strategy in the right order. First there should be education, so that the people would understand the importance of their natural environment and feel motivated to preserve it; building of roads and throwing a region in the cruel market economy should be the last step of development.

As for the War on Terror…if only the Pakistani wildlife could speak. And if the wildlife could speak and be in the audience at the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, the booing would have never stopped and it would have been impossible for Obama to deliver a convoluted speech that had obvious contradictions.

Photo of Pakistani leopard courtesy of

Monday, November 23, 2009

All You Wanted to Know About Noon Meem Rashid [and could not find it on the Internet]

This month’s Urdu Academy program was on Noon Meem Rashid. Speakers read papers on the life of Noon Meem Rashid and recited Rashid’s poetry. The audio file of the program is present here:

[Here you see Ijaz Syed reading ‘Hasan Koozeh-gar']

The torrent of bad news that regularly comes out of Pakistan makes it hard to believe that country of 180 million people has highly successful engineers and scientists working on cutting-edge technologies. Meet Dr. Syed Ali Khayam of NUST (National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad) to become familiar with the other face of Pakistan. This scribe interviewed Dr. Khayam at Ashok Malani’s place. The detailed interview of this young electrical engineering professor will be published soon.

Eminent Urdu poet and prose-writer Professor Munibur Rahman (alternatively spelled Munib-Ur-Rahman, Munib-Ur-Rehman, Munib Ur Rehman, and Munib Ur Rahman) recently visited the San Francisco Bay Area. This scribe met him at Ijaz Syed's place.

A brief bio of Professor Munibur Rahman is present here:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mr. Mohammad Nauman, popularly known as Professor Mohammad Nauman and often just Professor Nauman, a community leader and an Electrical/Electronics Engineering teacher at the NED University of Engineering and Technology died early morning on Sunday, November 15. He was a chronic asthma patient. Mohammad Nauman got a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from NED and received a Master's degree from North Carolina State University. During his student days he was an active member of the NSF (National Students Federation), a left-leaning organization considered an affiliate of the Pakistan People's Party. On his return from the US Mohammad Nauman started teaching at the NED University and got involved in the social and development issues of the country in general and of Sindh in particular. In the late 80's and early 90's when Karachi was swayed by toxic ethnicity-based politics, Nauman was one of the few community leaders who considered the struggle of the poor and uneducated a much higher priority than the execrable politics of ethnicity. Mohammad Nauman wrote regularly for the English newspapers of Pakistan.

[Mohammad Nauman's photo courtesy of Suhail Akbar of the Koshish Foundation.]

Sunday, November 08, 2009

A Heart in Education

A.H. Cemendtaur

Carefully contrived acronyms give a subliminal message about the disposition of an organization. Developments in Literacy, a non-profit organization operating schools in Pakistan, has such an acronym (DIL)—for those who understand Urdu; the initialism gives one the warm fuzzy feeling of working with a group that has its heart in education. In DIL’s annual fundraiser arranged in Palo Alto on November 7, over 250 participants got ample opportunity to hear about and see (in a documentary, featuring Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times) DIL’s heartfelt efforts in promoting primary education in Pakistan.

And education in Pakistan—and Afghanistan--is what many in the west are currently rooting for. Torn between the generals’ ever increasing demands of troops boost and the peaceniks’ cries for a quick and complete pullout from Afghanistan, the US administration often appears looking for an alternative solution. Enter the educationists. They tell you the problem can be solved for only $1 per child per month, through educating people. The vanguards of the education-corps are the various non-profit organizations, several of them based in the US (DIL, HDF, TCF, etc.). The superstar in this cluster of education-warriors is Greg Mortenson whose bestseller, ‘Three Cups of Tea’, has made a lot of Americans wonder if their country is trying to win the ‘War on Terror’ the wrong way. Greg Mortenson was the special guest of the DIL annual fundraiser, but he got sick and could not make it to the program.

The keynote speaker of DIL’s program was Dr. Adil Najam, Professor of Global Public Policy at Boston University, and a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. In a speech laced with witty remarks and clever insights Dr. Najam said the Pakistanis suffered with a “national syndrome of achieving individual excellence amidst collective failure”. He said in order for Pakistan to climb up on the Human Development Index--an index based on quantifiable measures of life expectancy (health), per capita GDP (wealth), and education attainment--the country has to invest heavily in education. Priming the audience for the fundraising part of the event, Dr. Najam quoted statistics from “Portrait of a Giving Community: Philanthropy by the Pakistani-American Diaspora”, a 2007 study done under his supervision, and said the Pakistanis living in the US were very generous in their philanthropy.

Greg Mortenson’s speaking slot was taken by Dr. Abdul Jabbar who is associated with the City College of San Francisco and is a board member of the Central Asia Institute (founded by Mortenson). Eulogizing the mentor of his organization, Dr. Jabbar said Mortenson’s success in building and operating schools in Pakistan lay in Mortenson’s understanding of the local culture and his approach of involving the community in the endeavor. A documentary about Central Asian Institute’s work in remote northern areas of Pakistan and in parts of Afghanistan was also screened.

The speeches and a subsequent dinner were followed by a musical performance by Pakistan's prominent vocalist Tahira Syed. The duo of Paru Yusuf and Ambreen Jamal emceed the program.

Information obtained from DIL's handout at the fundraiser

Gold Partners
Sara and Sohaib Abbasi, Ambreen and Asad Jamal, Bhoomija and Saeed Malik, Paru and Zia Yusuf.

Friends of DIL
Nahid Aliniazee and Kamal Ahmed, Eileen Donahoe, Lubna and Syed Hasanain, Roohina and Arif Janjua, Amena and Javed Patel, Zakia Rahman, Shameela and Hasan Rizvi.

Preferred Table
Nayela and Shuja Keen

DIL 2009-20010 San Francisco Board
Paru Desai Yusuf—President
Ambreen Jamal—Vice President
Sara Abbasi, Nayela Keen, Shuja Keen, Amena Patel, Zakia Rehman, Bonnie Sheikh, Zia Yusuf

Creative talent:
Ayesha Rashid Khan, Event Coordinator
Mariam Hussain, Truck Art Graphics
Haider Ali (Centerpiece Artist)

Tandoori and Curry Catering

2009 San Francisco Gala Volunteers:
Faiz Abbasi, Faraz Abbasi, Reem Chughtai, Amra Faruqi, Miraal Haq, Mahum Jamal, Ghazala Khan, Zara Khan, Siemeen Mirza, Naila Qureshi, Abdulrahman Rafiq, Sonya A. Sohail, Saira Yusuf, Sanam Yusuf

Gibran Haq, Daanish Jamal, Salman Javed, Mehreen Khan, Samar Khan, Arham Qureshi, Asad Raza, Ramiz Sheikh, Zara Sheikh

DIL Executive Board

Dr. Nafis Sadik

Executive Board Members
Fiza Shah, Hashmat Saeed, Sara Abbasi, Mehar Patel, Jameela Fakhri, Najmi Sarwar, Tashnim Shaheryar, Muhammad B. Shahzad

Dil Advisory Board
Nasser Ahmed, Shahla Aly, Henna Inam, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Kavita Ramdas, Dr. Nafis Sadiq, Jane Wales, Zia Yusuf, Kashif Zafar

Monday, October 26, 2009

TCF Chairman, Arshad Abdulla dies in Germany

Monday, October 26. Losing a long battle with prostate cancer, Pakistani philanthropist and educationalist Arshad Abdulla (alternatively spelled as Arshad Abdullah), died in Germany this morning. An architect by profession--he, along with his younger brother Shahid Abdulla, was the owner of ASA (Arshad Shahid Abdulla, a leading architectural firm based in Karachi)--Arshad Abdulla was a cofounder of The Citizens' Foundation (TCF), a non-profit organization building schools all over Pakistan.

[Photo courtesy of]

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why the Brazilian Embassy, you ask.

Honduras President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a military assisted coup in June this year. He was put on a plane to Costa Rica, purportedly in his pajamas. On his removal from power Zelaya found instant international support. From Venezuela to the USA—yes, the same Uncle Sam who historically supported the army and the big business in that Banana republic*—spoke in favor of Zelaya. But the ground realities were different. The Honduras army, the Supreme Court, and the opposition were together in a strong dislike for Zelaya. These players knew that time was of the essence—the sooner they could pile a lot of dirt on Zelaya’s ouster, the harder it would be for Zelaya to come back to power: elections were announced to be held in November. Zelaya got apprehensive; he HAD to return back to Honduras, in order to remain relevant. So, after two failed attempts Zelaya did manage to finally sneak in on September 21. He is presently in asylum at the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa. Why the Brazilian embassy? Well, it could not be the Costa Rican embassy, since the Costa Rican President Arias has to play his role in negotiations between Zelaya and the opposition. It could not be the Venezuelan embassy as a refuge there would put Zelaya squarely in the “Socialist” camp and would provide an affirmation of the opposition’s accusation of Zelaya’s leanings. And of course it could not be the US embassy. And it could not be the embassy of a small, toothless country of Central America. Brazil is a big, powerful, non-Spanish speaking country of that region. For Zelaya Brazilian embassy made a good choice. An alternative could be the Spanish embassy. No one knows how many foreign missions Zelaya was in touch with and what his plans B—Z was, had the Brazilian embassy not welcomed him.
[Other logistics were also important. For example, the embassy in which Zelaya would take refuge had to be physically large.]
But no matter how Zelaya ended up at the Brazilian embassy, his return has thrown a monkey wrench in the opposition’s scheme. Now all bets are off and the game is on.

*Traveling in Honduras one sees a poor population living amidst a modern highway system. It does not take too long for the traveler to figure out what is happening. The highway system is not for the poor people of Honduras, it is for the bananas to quickly reach the ports.

[Photo courtesy of the Kuwait Times.]

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

I am not sure why but I have always associated the strongest emotions and feelings with color, fragrance, or flavor. If you ask me what hard work smells like, I would say it was the scent that effused from the car that returned at night to our home with the man who would leave for work early in the morning. That I used to smell this aroma climbing the stairs of an office building in Karachi--an office building where people parked their cars all different ways, where signs of lawyers and other businesses hung on the façade among a myriad of telephone and electricity wires; an office building where several ground floor shops were of perfume-makers who would put their artistic potions in colored bottles of peculiar shapes, where a Pathan would run his teashop under the stairs. When my brother and I would sprint up to the third floor, on the behest of my mother who would be standing outside that building--the two of us pushing each other along the way--we would smell the redolent mixture of perfumes and hot tea, and then in a third floor office filled with cigarette smoke, sitting surrounded by law books, we would find the most important man of our lives.

Like most fathers of the world my father took care of the economic structure of our household. He worked very hard through his younger years and because of his toil we always remained a step out of the brutal ring of poverty. And being financially secure made it possible for us children to make independent decisions in our lives.

My father's second most important contribution in my upbringing was in setting my direction in seeking knowledge. I always found him surrounded by books; reading the titles of the books by his bedside I learned the names of Bertrand Russell, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Descartes and other great minds. My father never coached me about what I should study in school, but watching him read books I learned that no matter what field I choose for my vocational training, I must find solace in philosophy and good literature. That I may work as an accountant or a garbage collector, but when I find time I should read literature and philosophy to entertain myself and to try to reach the pinnacle of human intellect.

And it is because of this training that I live with the confidence that if ever circumstances suddenly became unfavorable for me, that if the clouds of benevolence that constantly hang over my head ever disappeared, if doors are ever slammed shut on my face, if I am ever pushed to the ground and told of my utter failure, that in the most miserable situation I would live with the inner peace that I have strived to gain true knowledge, the knowledge that illuminates the path to the heavens, the knowledge that I sought through guidance received from my father.

[Originally written in Urdu. That text is here:]

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It would be surprising if anyone among the Warren Packard audience did not mark their calendar for December 13, 2010. Packard thought the manner in which the technology was getting cheaper by the day, in eighteen months attendees of technical conferences would find themselves receiving free mp3 players as marketing material. "See me if this does not happen," Packard assured the audience.

See other OPEN Forum 2009 pictures at:

OPEN Silicon Valley Forum 2009

Trying to learn new things in an OPEN (Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America) Forum is like trying to drink water from a fire-hydrant. With three parallel tracks of panel discussions going on, scores of knowledgeable speakers to listen to, and hundreds of people to reconnect with the whole day affair is an exhilarating exercise. This years OPEN Forum took place on Saturday, June 13, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

In the picture above you see Warren Packard of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a venture capitalist firm, giving the morning keynote speech at the OPEN Forum 2009. In his speech Packard put great confidence in the entrepreneurial spirit of mankind; he seemed assured "we" will come out fine from recession, environmental problems, and political instabilities around the world.

See other OPEN Forum 2009 pictures at:

Sunday, June 07, 2009

OPEN Forum 2009, A Program Worth Attending

In Pakistan Eidgahs, the places where Eid prayers are offered have their own unique culture. Eidgah is a place of hustle and bustle, where a small group of people is very serious about offering its religious duties the most solemn way, and where most others are present to show off their new clothes, meet people they normally meet on Eid days i.e., once or twice a year, and to have a good time. Every Eidgah starts coming more and more alive as the prayer time gets closer, the venue initially hums with low-scale chatter, becomes dead quiet when the prayers are offered, and springs into revelry as the prayers end. If its keynote speech can be equated with the Eid prayer then the annual OPEN (Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America) Forum venue is indeed the Eidgah Pakistanis living in the Bay Area flock to, quite religiously. There got to be some people who attend that program to learn new things, or to hear the distinguished keynote and other speakers the program features, but for this scribe and for many of his friends OPEN Forum is an opportunity to meet people you normally meet once in a while, and to have a good time on a summer Saturday. The most noticeable activity at the OPEN Forum is the exchange of business cards—in between the panel discussions and speaking sessions, everywhere you look you would see people shaking hands and trading contact information. At OPEN Fora entrepreneurs-at-heart look for opportunities to start new businesses, to either become a part of the team they have always dreamt of becoming a part of, or to assemble the right talent to put together the dream team. It is an event to see and to be seen at. If this correspondent is in town, he never misses the opportunity to attend an OPEN Forum. He thoroughly enjoyed the Forum when Imran Khan was the keynote speaker. His report on that event is here:
Then last year, OPEN Forum 2008 had a whole bunch of inspirational speakers, from Mike Moritz to Howard Dean. His report on that program is here:
And video highlights are here:
And this year, the OPEN organizers—all of them are volunteers, very hardworking indeed--are promising the program to be another memorable gala. Read about the OPEN Forum 2009 here:
At the OPEN Forum 2009 you will learn the real deal behind the buzz phrases: from Cloud Computing to Genentech to Social Networking software, and you would hear from very knowledgeable speakers including former Congressman Tom Campbell.

Don’t miss the most celebrated Pakistani event of the San Francisco Bay Area; be there at the OPEN Forum 2009, on Saturday, June 13, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

[Image courtesy of OPEN Silicon Valley.]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The real question is: What is on Iftikhar Chaudhry's mind?

What kind of Supreme Court are we going to see after his reinstatement on March 21?
Would Chaudhry's old suo-moto style of judiciary now burgeon, or would it dwindle in favor of pragmatism?
And whatever style the Supreme Court adopts would determine if future candidates for Pakistan's top government positions would still salivate over the few perks those jobs offer, or would they shiver over the responsibility of looking after the well-being of 170 million mostly impoverished people.

[Photo, courtesy of The Guardian.]

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Long March, for long awaited fundamental reforms

Now too much relies on Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry's well-being. Hope there is a big group of people guarding him, day and night.

[Photo, courtesy of]

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Waiting to have a cup of tea with Greg Mortensen

Approaching Greg Mortenson from a distance you would first encounter a very large circle of glossy advertising material featuring poor but fair-complexioned, photogenic children learning in schools built by the Central Asia Institute (CAI), Mortenson's non-profit organization; you would then meet a huge readership of 'Three Cups of Tea', Mortenson's bestselling book; and then there would be singers singing the 'Three Cups of Tea' song; and then finally you would meet the inner circle of diehard Mortenson fans holding their guru in the highest esteem. Being mesmerized by this setup it is easy to forget an important tenet of journalism i.e., take a fresh, unbiased, independent look at the subject.

After attending two programs in the San Francisco Bay Area that featured Greg Mortenson, I made a list of things to do, before I would write a newspaper report on Mortenson and his excellent work:
1. Call the office of Central Asia Institute in Pakistan and ask them a few questions.
2. Read independent reports in the Pakistani newspapers on Mortenson's work.
3. Meet Pakistanis who have visited schools built by Mortenson and have talked to the villagers about the impact the schools are having.

I must confess to my readers that I failed in all three of the above. My call to the Central Asia Institute about their office telephone numbers in Pakistan is still unanswered (CAI's web site does not provide that information). The Pakistani English newspaper reports I have read so far all derive information from western sources which in turn rely on information provided in the book 'Three Cups of Tea' or obtained from Mortenson's interviews. Search Google in Urdu for Mortenson and you would find two (2) links on Mortenson—both sources relying on western news reports. Search the man in Farsi and you would find that the only Mortenson (or Mortensen) the Farsi/Darri world recognizes is actor Viggo Mortensen. You wonder what kind of ungrateful bunch Greg Mortenson is dealing with.

So let me limit the scope of this report to Greg Mortenson's recent visit to Northern California. Mortenson's March 3 visit to the Bay area was arranged by the Fremont branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). In the afternoon, Mortenson spoke to children and adults at Guy Emanuele Pavilion of Logan High School in Union City. Around 1800 people attended that program. In the evening Mortenson gave a speech at the Diamond Palace in Fremont. Almost 900 awe-struck people listened to Mortenson's life story and how he got into building schools for children in far flung northern areas of Pakistan and in Afghanistan.

The audio of Greg Mortenson's speech at the Diamond Palace is here:

Photos of Mortenson event at the Logan High School are here:

Photos of Mortenson event at the Diamond Palace are here:

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Cricket, A Dangerous Game

Or, at least when played in Pakistan. For that matter, anything you do in Pakistan comes with huge risks these days. When the rest of the world refused to play cricket in Pakistan, the Sri Lankan team said 'No' to that boycott. The Sri Lankans wanted to show their support for Pakistan and its cricket fans. Little did they know they would be punished for their empathy. In hindsight, the Sri Lankan team should have insisted on playing cricket in Pakistan how George W. Bush played in Pakistan i.e., in the boundary of their embassy.

Photo of Sri Lankan Cricket team leaving Qaddafi Stadium in army helicopter, courtesy of AP.
Photo of President Bush playing cricket in the US Embassy in Islamabad, courtesy of

Friday, February 27, 2009

US Government now owning more banks and other businesses

It has something to do with Afghanistan. One socialist superpower went to Afghanistan, became bankrupt, and changed its economic system to capitalism. Now another superpower, this time a capitalist one, went to Afghanistan, is getting financially weak, and is in the process of changing its economic system from capitalism to socialism.

Afghanistan, that little poor country, is in the business of humbling superpowers and turning around their economic systems 180 degrees.

[Citi Bank logo, courtesy of Citi Bank.]

Monday, February 09, 2009

A non-state actor's response to the Mumbai Attacks Dossier

It has been almost a month that the Indian Government handed over a 'Mumbai Attacks Dossier' to Pakistan . It has been claimed that the dossier clearly implicates Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan based organization of religious leanings, in the Mumbai attacks that killed over 170 people.

The dossier given to Pakistan , and to other countries, was made public by the Daily Hindu. We thank that fine newspaper.

If you go through the compilation superficially, you would be impressed by the details provided in the 69-page dossier. But do a more diligent reading, taking notes as you turn pages, and you would find that the document raises more questions than it answers.

Let's start with the biggest hole in the story the dossier tells us. The source of the Mumbai attack story, as narrated in the dossier, is one person, Ajmal Kasab, the only terrorist captured alive. The dossier does not name a single witness ready to corroborate the pre-attack part of the story—the most important part that tells you the origin of the terrorists. And what do we know about the identity of the person in captivity? It appears there is a consensus. Pakistan has accepted India 's claim that the person in custody of the Indian police is indeed Ajamal Kasab, a resident of Faridkot, district Okara. But our credibility in this police investigation stops right there. How do we know if Kasab is indeed the narrator of the story being told in the dossier? And even if he is, why should we believe the confession was not extracted out of him under duress? Let's be honest. We trust the Indian Police as much as we trust the Pakistani Police i.e., NOT AT ALL. Our police can make a dog out of a cat. Police obtained confessions are a joke in our part of the world; day in and day out such 'incriminating' statements are rejected by independent courts. The dossier does have photographs of 'material evidence' collected from various places--this evidence would have been a powerful proof had we not seen cases of police-planted evidence.

But for the sake of argument, let's disregard the biggest hole in the story and keep reading the dossier. According to the dossier, "The terrorists started in a small boat from Karachi at approximately 0800 hrs on November 22, 2008. After traveling for about 40 minutes, they were shifted to a larger boat, 'Al-Husseini', which, according to the captured terrorist, belongs to Zaki-Ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Chief Commander of the LeT. There were already seven LeT members on boards."

Does Al-Husseini really exist? Why is there no news of this ship? Is the whole Pakistan collaborating with ISI and LeT to hide the facts from the international media?

"The terrorists spent the entire day on board the Al-Husseini. On November 23, 2008, at about 1500 hours, the captured terrorist noticed another boat docked next to the Al-Husseini. This was an Indian registered fishing vessel called MV Kuber, which had five crewmembers."

What does it mean that the terrorist noticed a boat docked next to Al-Husseini? We thought the terrorists were actively moving towards India . This sentence in the dossier makes it sound like the terrorists were on a fishing trip.

From media reports it appears that subsequent to the release of the dossier Kasab "provided" important details about how the terrorists got control of MV Kuber. But we are not told why the Kuber crew was not in communication with the Indian Coast Guard.

But let's keep reading the dossier. The ten terrorists are now aboard MV Kuber; Mr. Solanki, the captain of MV Kuber, is steering the ship towards Mumbai. Did any radio communication take place in that long journey: any communication with another ship, with Coast Guard? Is there any record of such communication?

"The ten terrorists performed watch duties on board MV Kuber. Log sheets maintained by them have been seized (Annexure-V).

"The MV Kuber reached a point four nautical miles off Mumbai at 1600 hours on November 26, 2008.

"As soon it was dark, the team leader, Ismail Khan, contacted their handler in Pakistan , who directed them to kill Amar Singh Solanki, the captain of MV Kuber."

Here is a crime scene we need more information about. The dossier does mention MV Kuber as material evidence but we don't get to see any photos of the ship, the position in which Solanki's body was found, etc. The next version of the dossier should include the autopsy report of Solanki indicating time and cause of death.

"After killing Solanki, the terrorists, along with their weapons and IEDs, boarded the inflatable dinghy. They traversed the last four nautical miles to Mumbai in about 1 hour and 15 minutes, reaching the locality of Badhwar Park (Cuffe Parade) in South Mumbai at about 2030 hours."

The maritime expertise demonstrated by the terrorists would make you believe that the terrorists not only got training from ISI, they were probably also trained by the Pakistan Navy.

From media reports the marina at Badhwar Park seems to be a busy place--and the terrorists had to reach a bustling beach because they had to catch taxis. If Badhwar Park is such a busy place then we need testimonies of people who saw a dhingy full of ten men and their bags reaching that marina. There have been news reports about one Anita Uddaiya who claims to have seen six (6) people landing at the beach in a rubber boat. But after Uddaiya's recent claim of being taken to the US by FBI and brought back to India within three days there are serious doubts about her mental stability. Furthermore, Uddaiya's statement about seeing six people reaching Mumbai contradicts with dossier's claim of ten terrorists reaching together.

"After alighting, the ten terrorists divided into five teams according to the pairing decided earlier. Mohammed Ajmal Kasab was paired with the group leader, Ismail Khan.

"They took taxis to different target destinations. IED devices were planted in two taxis and they later exploded—one at Wadi Bunder and the other at Vile Parle—killing the two taxi drivers."

How many taxis did the terrorists take? Two? Because of the visibility of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, other taxi drivers present at Badhwar Park must have remembered ten men with large bags getting into two taxis. Can we please have the testimonies of those taxi drivers or other people who were there at that time?

And how did ten terrorists with large bags fit into two taxis: it would be five terrorists and ten bags—one bag for gun and ammunition, the other for IED (improvised explosive device), as mentioned in the dossier--per taxi. Was there any argument about the fare? Do we have any witnesses of the situation? We can only imagine each team of terrorists putting its luggage in the trunk—fitting the bulky bags with some difficulty—and then three people sitting in the back seat, and two squeezing in the front passenger seat, with the front-sitting terrorist in the middle possibly placing his right leg on the driver side of the gear shaft. But then this tight squeeze in a taxi is not enough, one of the terrorist has to reach under the driver's seat and install an IED.

Apparently, the IED's in the taxis exploded after some time, i.e., after the terrorists left the taxis. How did the terrorists pay the taxi fare? Did the terrorists have Indian currency? And which team was dropped off where? Is there any evidence of people seeing those drop-offs? The two taxis are crime scenes as well. The dossier must give more information about them.

"CST Railway Station. At about 21:20 hrs, two terrorists (Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab and Ismail Khan) entered the station and started firing indiscriminately from their Kalashnikov rifles and also lobbed grenades. The carnage resulted in 58 dead and 104 injured.

"They were challenged by a small number of policemen at the station. They left the station, crossed an over-bridge and fled into a lane towards Cam Hospital . Near Cama Hospital they were challenged by a police team and there was an exchange of fire. As they exited the lane, they fired on a police vehicle carrying three senior police officers and four policemen. Believing that all the occupants had been killed, they pulled out the bodies of the three police officers and hijacked the police vehicle.

How does it work that seven armed people in a vehicle are overpowered by two men fleeing on foot?

"However, only six were killed and one policeman survived the assault. He is Constable Arun Jadhav and is an eyewitness to the events."

Amazing how we only have a policeman who is eyewitness of this very important event. What about other people? Civilians walking by, vehicles that traveled on that road?

"After traveling some distance, the terrorists abandoned the police vehicle and hijacked another passenger car."

"The car came up against a police barricade at Girgaum Chowpatti and, in an exchange of fire with the police, Ismail Khan was killed and Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab was captured.

"An Assistant Sub-Inspector, Tukaram Ombale was killed while overpowering Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab. Two police officers were injured.

We need to know more detail of this 'police encounter.'

"The police recovered two Kalashnikov rifles, eight magazines, two pistols, ammunition, empty cases and five hand grenades from the two terrorists."

Eight magazines, ammunition, and five hand grenades is a lot of material to have in possession, after i) generously using ammunition at the railway station, ii) using ammunition in a police encounter that killed six policemen, and iii) using more ammunition in another police encounter in which the terrorists were finally maimed.

"Second Target: Leopold Cafe and Bar. At about 21:40 hrs, two terrorists (Hafiz Arshad and Naser) entered the Cafe and started firing indiscriminately using AK-47 assault rifles."

"One grenade was lobbed and it exploded. Ten persons were killed and many injured. After about five minutes, the two terrorists ran towards the Taj Mahal Hotel, situated about half a kilometer from the Café.

"Police later recovered from the scene of the attack five AK-47 magazines (of which three were empty and two contained 13 bullets), empty cases of ammunition, one metal butt of an AK-47 rifle and two mobile phones."

What happened to the other terrorist's AK-47?

"Taj Mahal Hotel.

Four terrorists (Shoaib and Javed and the two terrorists who attacked the Leopold Café and Bar, namely, Hafiz Arshad and Nasir) targeted the Taj Mahal Hotel. The first pair entered the main lobby at 21:38 hrs and opened fire, killing 20 persons in the first few minutes. The second pair entered the hotel from the North Court entrance at 21:43 hrs and fired indiscriminately and hurled grenades."

What was the first pair of terrorists doing while the second pair took care of business at Leopold Cafe? Was the first pair already in the hotel killing people, when the second pair entered? How did the two pairs meet each other amid chaos, in a place totally unfamiliar to them?

Annexure II

The first picture purportedly shows "pickle made in Pakistan ." The picture is fuzzy, but those who can differentiate between Urdu and Farsi scripts can clearly see that in picture is a detergent box from Iran --in Farsi it reads, "Pak bara-e Pakeezgi."

In the same annexure, two later pictures do correctly identify the box of 'detergent' but the country of manufacture is not corrected. I believe the Indian officials are confused because of the brand name of the detergent, Pak ('clean' in Farsi).


"This is the point from where the militants switched on their GPS and started their journey, as well as planned to return to this very point after completion of work."

We thought they were suicide attackers and had no plans to go back.

Later the dossier again mentions the return path:

"It seems that T007 and MAP were the RV for their intended return after the attack. The route to be followed would have been T007 through T001."

Annexure V
The dossier is discrepant in the names of the terrorists. Five names (Ajmal Kasab, Babar Imran, Hafiz Arshad, and Abdur Rehman) mentioned in the main document do not appear in the log of Kuber guards (Annexure V). Similarly names of four people (Saquib, Muheeb, Hijazi, and Mujahid) present in the Kuber log are not present in the main document.


In short, the devil is in the details; the more you scrutinize the individual parts of the Indian police narrative of the Mumbai attacks the more suspicious you become of the construct. The families of over 170 innocent people killed in Mumbai terrorist attacks deserve a more convincing document from the Indian Government.

[Photo courtesy of Gurinder Osan/Associated Press.]

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Terrorist Sworn In

Impeach Obama Now campaign has distributed the following letter on the Internet.

Dear Fellow Countrymen,

The morning after horror has dawned on the conscientious people of this great nation of ours. As if a faltering economy, two wars going bad were not enough to sap our spirits we now have a terrorist as our president. It is hard not to notice dark clouds gathering over us. The Western Civilization is under attack from within.

This charlatan sworn in yesterday as the President of the USA wants to hide his revealing middle name by abbreviating it to a harmless H—so that you may believe H is for Harry. No, People, H is not for Harry or Harvey or Hansen. This terrorist's name is Barack Hussein Obama. In fact it would be very appropriate to abbreviate the other two irrelevant names and call him B Hussein O. That is his real identity. B HUSSEIN O. Ladies and Gentlemen, Now how many Husseins have you met that were either not terrorists or did not have terrorist tendencies?

And People, You must understand what this man is all about. His father was a Muslim, a terrorist. His father may have passed away but you can bet he has plenty of relatives on the terrorist side of his family—people who are looking for any opportunity to harm us, the Americans.

And you know where this man spent his childhood. Yes, in Indonesia, a terrorist country. And what did he do in Indonesia? He went to a madrassa. And what do they teach in a madrassa? Do you think they are taught Physics and Chemistry in a madrassa? Do you think the madrassa students are doing experiments to find out the focal point of a concave mirror, or they are busy in doing titration experiments? NO. They are hard at work learning hatred: hatred, hatred, hatred of others, hatred for all those who are not Muslims. That is what they are taught in a madrassa, day in and day out. They have grade classes in madrassa, but they are called Hate Grades: Hate Grade 1, Hate Grade 2, and so on.

Open a madrassa curriculum book and you would find, Chapter 1: How to Hate Christians, Chapter 2: Hating Hindus Made Easy, Chapter 3: Powerful Strategies to Hate Jews, Chapter 4: How to Hate Buddhists and Enjoy It Too. The madrassa students are sometimes asked to read books outside their curriculum but those books are also about hate, perennially popular titles like "Love Ties You Up, Hate Sets You Free", "The Joy of Hatred", "An Idiot's Guide for Mastering Hatred", and "How to Hate Everyone in 5 Minutes (Or Less)."

Do you know which book sold most copies in Saudi Arabia, last year? It was "All You Wanted to Know About Hatred And Were Afraid to Ask." Ladies and Gentlemen, These people don't have 'love' in their day-to-day vocabulary. In their culture, the process of making babies is not called love-making; it is called hate-making. That's why after reading his nuptial sermon the Imam looks at the newly-wed couple and says; "Now the two of you are free to hate each other."
And it was because of this absence of 'love' in their culture that our McDonald's had a hard time coming up with a culturally sensitive marketing refrain in the Muslim world—it finally settled on "I'm hatin' it."

People, Four centuries ago our forefathers got rid of these people from the continent of Europe—we threw them out of Spain. It was our greatest mistake in the near past to start giving them political asylums, or bring them here on student visas. And that is how the current terrorist president was born. Now we have to suffer because of that terrible mistake.

You must understand that these Muslims are not like us. Unlike the Western Civilization these people are not trying to solve the problems of this world: thinking about global warming, about patching holes in the ozone layer, or worrying about distant asteroids hitting the world and jeopardizing our existence. No, nothing like that. These Muslims just want to breed like rabbits and take control of the world.

The Muslim population of the world is increasing exponentially. It is not obvious here in North America right now, but in Europe go to any city, go to its outlying neighborhoods, turn any corner and you would find a Muslim coming your way, or a woman in veil. The situation is out of control. Whoever came up with the idea that "a good Muslim is a dead Muslim" was a genius. We need to start this process of making good Muslims, NOW.

And don't be deceived, People, In appearance one Muslim may not look like another Muslim but deep inside they are all the same: products of an assembly line of hate. Hatred is the only human emotion they are capable of holding. In mosques, the terrorist training centers, where these people go five times a day or at least once a week, the only thing they are taught is hatred. And if their Imam ever fails in delivering a sermon full of hate they get angry with him. You know what these people do when they get angry. The Imam knows it too and that's the reason the Imam gets everybody remove their shoes outside the mosque.

What is the first thing your president—yes, B Hussein O may be your president, but I can never accept a terrorist as my president—what does this president want to do? He wants to close Gitmo, so that he can release his terrorist brothers. What do you think those dangerous criminals are going to do when we let them go? Yes, they are going to attack us. Next thing you know this terrorist president would turn back on his election promise of bombing Pakistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen, This con artist was a bit political in making important cabinet appointments in his first term. But you can bet he would be bolder in his second term. That is, if God forbid you elect this beast again. In his second term he is going to appoint Al-Zawahiri as the Secretary of State and Osama Bin Laden as his Secretary of Defense. So, please People, stop this degenerative civilization from taking over our country. Impeach this terrorist now. Impeach B Hussein O, NOW.

Photo, courtesy of

Monday, January 05, 2009

Palestinians look for a sliver of hope in Obama Presidency

Allen Hafman

Remember Barack Obama's pre-election visit to Israel and his position on the issue of Hamas rockets being fired at the Israeli town of Sderot? Newspapers quoted Obama saying that "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."

Well, it appears Obama is reconsidering his earlier stance to take into account the historical background of the Middle East situation. An Obama aid, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, told Guardian President-elect Obama was closely monitoring the situation in Gaza and had shown sympathy for the Palestinians. The aid reported Obama saying, "Yes, I said what I said in Sderot, but there is a caveat. If I am renting the house that is under rocket attack, and I find out that the person claiming to be the owner of the house is in fact someone who has expelled the real owner by force, and that expulsion has infuriated the real owner to the point where he is throwing rockets at this property, then it would be unwise of me to do anything but to speak to the 'landlord' and ask him why he rented me a property that he acquired by force."

Now that's jaw-dropping honesty and the president-elect is likely to attract the wrath of a powerful lobby. But meanwhile the word is out and the debate has begun.

Ex-president Jimmy Carter, whose book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" has already made him a pariah among supporters of Israel in the US, welcomed Obama's "deeper understanding of the issue." Talking to reporters in Atlanta, Carter said he would like to meet Obama and explore latter's vision of peace in the Middle East. Carter told reporters, "In this day and age no country can put people in concentration camps. But that is exactly what Israel is doing. Palestinians have been pushed in concentration camp type environments. I am sure Obama is as much a friend of Israel as I am and he too wants to see Israel strong and prosperous. But we also happen to be people who consider every human life, be that of an Israeli or a Palestinian, of equal importance. The logic that Israel can get stronger by discriminating on the basis of religion or by being tough on some people is fundamentally flawed. That is neither how a nation gains strength, nor how a modern democracy should operate. You just cannot move forward generating that kind of animosity towards yourself. South Africa did not survive that way, and Israel cannot survive with that type of arrangement."

When Guardian contacted AIPAC, the Pro-Israel US lobby, its spokesman declined to issue a rejoinder vis-à-vis Obama's latest comments. The spokesman reiterated the lobby's official stance that, "Both the US and Israel are victims of Islamic terrorism. That commonality makes the two countries natural allies in the global war on terror. To ensure their existence these two modern democracies must fight the menace of Islamic fundamentalism."

Commenting on AIPAC's stand, political scientist Norman Finkelstein said, "Yes, both the US and Israel are indeed victims of terrorism, but for very different reasons. The US is a victim of a terror machine, the international Jihad cartel, which the US built. But Israel is experiencing terrorism because the European settlers have initiated the terror by displacing an indigenous population." Speaking on the historical background of creation of Israel, Finklestein said, "It stands to reason that if the Nazis persecuted the Jews then after the Nazis were defeated the Jews should have been compensated with Nazi land NOT Arab land." Finkelstein added, "The European colonization experience in the Americas succeeded because we brought with us chickenpox that decimated large indigenous populations and we assimilated the rest of them. Israel could neither obliterate the local population--although people like Ariel Sharon tried very hard--nor it wants to assimilate it because Israel wants to remain a Jewish state."

In a statement issued from his hideout in Damascus Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said, "Any peace proposal missing the condition of expulsion of all foreigners who settled in Palestine after 1946 would be unacceptable to Hamas and the Palestinian people." Other Hamas leaders were less obstinate in their stand and signaled that any change in the unequivocal support of Israel by the US would be taken up with enthusiasm by the Palestinians.

With the Israel-Palestine debate raging again, Professor Noam Chomsky had a few ideas on an amiable solution to the conflict. Chomsky said, "It would be foolish of Hamas to believe progeny of people who settled in today's Israel is going to go back to their ancestral homeland, wherever that might be. Does anyone believe Poland would take back Livni? One state, from Elat to Golan, from Mediterranean to River Jordan, without any walls, with equal voting rights, is the only solution. And then it would take years for many 'Truth and Reconciliation' commissions to bring today's warring communities together, but I am hopeful it can be done."

Photo, courtesy of

(A.H. Cemendtaur in California and Angelina Matriati in London contributed to this report)