Faking WikiLeak-ed Cables for Propaganda or How to Beat ‘The Onion’ at Farce

They have since been retracted, but how many still believe stories on fake WikiLeaks cables published in many Pakistani dailies? They’re also a good source to figure how Pakistani intelligence officials think.

Pakistan's 'Blaspheming' Christians: Suicidal, Insane or Merely Framed?

Pakistani Christians frequently come under the international media spotlight when the minority group bears the brunt of Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy law. But it’s politically blasphemous to expect a reform of the blasphemy law.

Money and Mangoes: Clinton Buys ‘The Love’ in Pakistan

She came, she made the appropriate noises about partnerships, she even praised the local mangoes, which was well received by the local press. The independent Geo TV happily reported that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had “bought and savored” Pakistani mangoes during her recent visit and proclaimed them “delicious”.

What does it take for a US Secretary of State to be favorably covered by the alarmingly anti-American Pakistani media? It’s money, not mangoes. And Clinton came in offering billions of it.

Under the Kerry Lugar Bill, named after US Senators John Kerry (Democrat) and Richard Lugar (Republican), which was passed by Congress last year, Washington has committed to $7.5 billion economic and development aid to Pakistan over the next five years.

McChrystal Fired: Happy Taliban, Happy ISI

In an earlier blog post, before Obama fired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, I said the US president had two choices: Accept McChrystal’s resignation and appear thin-skinned. Reject it and look like a wimp.

When Obama took the thin-skinned option, public opinion was surprisingly supportive about McChrystal’s ouster.

There are many reasons why kicking out McChrystal based on a shoddy piece of one-sided reporting, written in testosterone-driven prose and published in a pop-culture magazine was NOT a good idea.

The best reason is best described in the New York Times piece, "Pakistan Is Said to Pursue a Foothold in Afghanistan," by Jane Perlez, Eric Schmitt and Carlotta Gall.

Obama’s overreaction to published locker-room quotes has handed the Taliban, its al Qaeda friends and their Pakistani state intelligence backers their biggest PR coup in years.

Haven’t they always maintained that “the Americans” are too divided, too fractious, too encumbered by democratic forces at home to ever win this war?

Runaway Lips: The Other Side of McChrystal’s Big ‘Oh Boy’

When the big Gen. Stanley McChrystal gaffe news just broke, experts across the globe were desperately scrolling past near-naked pics of Lady Gaga on the Rolling Stone Web site, seeking the offending piece.

But now it’s online and the very first sentence of the Michael Hastings’ piece makes me squirm.

‘How'd I get screwed into going to this dinner?" McChrystal asks at the start of the piece.

How did he get screwed granting Hastings such access?

Yes, yes, America’s top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s latest gaffe is a big “oh boy” even by McChrystal’s standards.

In the Rolling Stone article, “The Runaway General,” which portrays him as a lone wolf in typically testosterone-driven, pop-culture magazine prose, McChrystal takes on a slew of Washington bigwigs.


He will pay for his folly of course: the top US commander in Afghanistan has been summoned to the White House for a sound drubbing, no doubt.


Time to Go: Why Did 2 Top Afghan Security Bosses Quit?

Nobody really accepted the official version of the story. So now that the theories are starting to roll out, they’re worth considering.

On Sunday, the Afghan presidential palace announced the resignations of the country’s interior minister, Hanif Atmar, and intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh.

The breaking news alert was presented as a fait accompli and caught everyone by surprise. Usually this sort of news starts with unconfirmed reports, followed by official confirmations, which in turn are followed by official announcements. This time, the old steps were skipped.


Instead, we got a statement from the presidential palace, no less, informing us that Afghan President Hamid Karzai had already accepted the resignations. The stated reason was the officials’ failure to prevent the attacks on the peace jirga. (See blog, “Let the jirga games begin – with a bang")

Hafiz Saeed is free, roll out the sweets - again

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has upheld a lower court’s decision that Hafiz Saeed, head of the Islamic group accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, cannot be detained.

No surprises here. It’s the same old story with a familiar plot and the inevitable ending.

The court ruled that the evidence against Saeed was weak. That’s true because there’s very little teeth to legal actions taken against Saeed.

Pakistani authorizes have never filed criminal or terrorist charges against the leader of the LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba), a banned group now operating as the Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Instead, Saeed tends to get detained under the MPO (Maintenance of Public Order) law. In legal terms, that entails a limited detention period until a court ruling. In plain-speak, it’s a light rap on the knuckles for disorderly conduct.

This has happened before. In 2009 and 1996, Saeed was let go under MPO.


Shahzad: A ‘singleton’ simpleton?

A week after Faisal Shahzad stormed the headlines more successfully than he stormed Times Square, a new mot du jour is making the rounds.

In case you haven’t caught it on the punditry trail as yet, it’s “singleton”.

Yes, singleton. Never knew that one before – thought it had something to do with mathematics or software programming. But now here it is on the counter-terror talk shows.

Richard Clarke, former US anti-terror czar, dropped the word during his interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN’s GPS this weekend. Steve Coll was on it last week, in his blog posting, "The case of Faisal Shahzad" (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/stevecoll/2010/05/the-case-of-faisal-shahzad.html)

Hakimullah Mehsud: Death by drone, resurrection by video

He’s dead. He’s alive. He’s dead. He’s alive.


It’s hard to keep up with the number of times Tehrik-e-Taliban’s goateed, AK-47-toting, beret-sporting chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, has been definitively killed - only to rise again.


But I’m trying.


Let’s see…he was declared dead last October, I remember.


But then he surfaced and issued a statement that read like a Journalism 101 class. Get your facts right, Mehsud jeered, noting that reports couldn’t seem to decide if he was killed on his way to Multan, Arukzai or Shaktai.


Then he was killed again in Jan this year. This time in Orakzai. No wait, it was South Waziristan. Or was it the North? Unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials swore on this latest drone strike. Successors were named and analyzed.


I remember the succession list included Qari Hussain Mehsud. This pleased me since I’m a creature of continuity.


The lady, it seems, is a spy

This just in: An Indian diplomat posted in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad has been arrested for allegedly spying and transferring strategic information about India to arch foe, Pakistan, according to Indian media reports.

The diplomat, 53-year-old Madhuri Gupta, was summoned to New Delhi a few days ago on the pretext of holding discussions on the upcoming SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Coopertation) summit in Bhutan.  She was then arrested and produced before a Delhi court. 

Indian media reports say Gupta is a “spinster” – the word “single” apparently has not made it into many Indian news organizations’ lexicons. Apparently, she got a hold of sensitive information from the station chief of the Indian intelligence agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) in Islamabad, a certain Mr. R. K. Sharma.

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