Abbottabad Twitter Revolution in Pakistan?

Live tweets of the Abbottabad raid have brought instant fame to Pakistani blogger Sohaib Athar, and shined new light on the role of Facebook, Twitter and other social media in the country.

Dramatic expansion of the nation's middle class in the last decade has spawned telecom and media revolutions in Pakistan. Number of radio stations, television channels, mobile phone subscribers and Internet users have all experienced unprecedented growth since the turn of the century.



The level of Internet penetration is Pakistan is still low. In a population of 177 million, only 18.5 million (10.4 percent) are connected to the Internet, though government officials quote a slightly higher figure of 20 million. Although it's twice that of India's Internet penetration of about 5%, Pakistan's penetration percentage is less than those in Tunisia (33.4 percent) and Egypt (21.1 percent). However, Internet use in Pakistan is growing at a rapid rate, particularly in urban centers where 40% of the population lives, which are also home to the middle class which often forms the backbone of mass-scale uprisings. Mobile Internet use shot up 161 percent in 2010 alone.

Pakistan figures prominently in the population of users of Facebook and Twitter, two of the most popular social networking sites.

In terms of Facebook users in Asia, South Korea saw the largest increase of 65%, between March 01 2010 and June 01 2010. Other countries with double-digit growth rate are Thailand with 28.3%, India 27.7%, Japan 21%, Pakistan 12.9%, Malaysia 12.3%, and Vietnam 10.4%. Compared to figures extracted in March 2010, total Facebook users in Indonesia and Taiwan have shown decline, according to Grey Review.

According to Alexa, Twitter.com is the number twelve website in the world. It also ranks at number twelve in the United States. Outside the United States, Twitter is the eighth largest website in South Africa. The United Kingdom, Pakistan, and the Philippines all have Twitter as their tenth largest website, according to The Next Web.

Pakistan saw the beginnings of online civil and political activism in 2008-2009 when the lawyers, according to Woodrow Wilson Center's scholar Huma Yusuf, "used chat forums, YouTube videos, Twitter feeds, and blogs to organize the Long March, publicize its various events and routes, and ensure that citizen reporting live from the march itself can be widely circulated to counter the government-influenced coverage of the protest on mainstream media outlets (such as state-owned radio and private news channels relying on government-issue licenses".

With Pakistan's youth bulge and rapid growth in online user population, it is natural to ask if an Egyptian or Tunisian style youth-led revolution is on the horizon in the South Asian nation? Can the current disgust with the the failed political, military and intelligence establishment catalyze a mass youth uprising against the established order?

Here's a video titled "I Am Pakistan":



Related Link:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's 50Mbps Broadband Rollout

Daily Carnage and Intelligence Failures in Pakistan

Pakistani Online Social Network

Telecom and Media Revolution in Pakistan

Middle Class Growth in Pakistan

Geo Sports Ban Amidst Youth Bulge

US Mining Twitter Feed Urdu Content

Obama's Success With Social Media

Obama on Urdu Poetry, Cricket, Daal, Keema

Case Against Wikileaks' Assange

PakAlumni-Pakistani Social Network

Media and Telecom Revolution in Pakistan

Pakistan's Telecom Boom

Pakistan Tops Text Message Growth

WiMax Rollout in Pakistan

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
The killing of Osama bin Laden is a positive event for Pakistan's economy and stock market, according to an Asia based equity strategist's interview with CNBC.

Mark Matthews, equity strategist at Macquarie, said the positive comments from top U.S. officials including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Pakistan's role against terrorism would eventually lead to the release of much-delayed financial aid for the country. That, in turn, would help the government lower its fiscal deficit and boost the economy.

"For about 5-6 months now, the American's and coalition money have not been released into Pakistan. And Pakistan has a very wide fiscal deficit. It's 6.1 percent of GDP and it is the major issue overhanging their stock market," Matthews added.

The aid package worth $7.5 billion over 5 years has been promoted by Democrat Senator John Kerry and Republican Senator Dick Lugar. But it's been in limbo because of U.S. concerns about corruption in Pakistan.

Once, that's resolved, Matthews expects the stock market to benefit. "There are lots of gems in that country. There are probably more gems there, stock-wise, than any other country in Asia," Matthews told CNBC's Bernie Lo.

The Karachi stock index rallied late last year along with other emerging markets, but so far this year it has dropped 6 percent because of rising fuel prices and a growing budget deficit. According to Macquarie, Karachi's stock index not only offers value, but also many well-run companies.

For investors looking for stocks with volume, Matthews suggests looking at Pakistan Oilfields [PKOL.KA 328.05 -0.47 (-0.14%) ]. He likes this company as it has a daily turnover of $5 million and trades on about 5x earnings, with a 9.5 percent dividend yield.

And for investors who can stomach the illiquidity in the small-cap space, he recommends Askari Bank [ASBK.KA 11.53 0.14 (+1.23%) ].

"If you annualize that (the bank's first-quarter results), that is on 4x PE and their asset quality has held up remarkably well, NPLs are very low and its at a 40 percent discount to book," noted Matthews.
Riaz Haq said…
Here are ITU Internet stats for South Asia:

Pakistan:

20,350,000 Internet users as of Jun/10, 11.5% penetration, per ITU.

3,145,840 Facebook users on December 31/10, 2.2% penetration

3,992,500 Facebook users on March 31/11, 2.1% penetration

India:

100,000,000 Internet users as of Dec/10, 8.5% penetration, per IWS.

17,289,020 Facebook users on December 31/10, 1.9% penetration rate.

23,042,800 Facebook users on March 31/11, 1.9% penetration rate.

Bangladesh:

1,429,200 Internet users as of Mar/11, 0.9% penetration, per FB.

995,560 Facebook users on August 31/10, 0.6% penetration rate.

1,429,200 Facebook users on March 31/11, 0.9% penetration rate.

Afghanistan:

1,000,000 Internet users as of Jun/10, 3.4% penetration, per ITU.

52,980 Facebook users on August 31/10, 0.2% penetration rate.

165,120 Facebook users on March 31/11, 0.6% penetration rate.
Daud Khan said…
waoooo, great riaz shab.
Riaz Haq said…
There is a split in the Obama admin on CIA's drone attack campaign in Pakistan, according to the Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON—Fissures have opened within the Obama administration over the drone program targeting militants in Pakistan, with the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and some top military leaders pushing to rein in the Central Intelligence Agency's aggressive pace of strikes.

Such a move would roll back, at least temporarily, a program that President Barack Obama dramatically expanded soon after taking office, making it one of the U.S.'s main weapons against the Pakistan-based militants fighting coalition troops in Afghanistan.

The program has angered Pakistan, a key ally in the fight against Islamist militants. The debate over drones comes as the two sides try to repair relations badly frayed by the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis by CIA contractor Raymond Davis in January, a wave of particularly lethal drone strikes following Mr. Davis's release from Pakistani custody in March, and the clandestine U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2.

The White House National Security Council debated a slowdown in drone strikes in a meeting on Thursday, a U.S. official said. At the meeting, CIA Director Leon Panetta made the case for maintaining the current program, the official said, arguing that it remains the U.S.'s best weapon against al Qaeda and its allies.

The result of the meeting—the first high-level debate within the Obama administration over how aggressively to pursue the CIA's targeted-killing program—was a decision to continue the program as is for now, the U.S. official said.

Another official, who supports a slowdown, said the discussions about revamping the program would continue, alongside talks with Pakistan, which is lobbying to rein in the drone strikes.

Most U.S. officials, including those urging a slowdown, agree the CIA strikes using the pilotless aircraft have been one of Washington's most effective tools in the fight against militants hiding out in Pakistan. The weapons have killed some top al Qaeda and Taliban leaders and left militants off balance in a swath of mountainous territory along the Afghan border with Pakistan where they once operated with near impunity. No one in the administration is advocating an outright halt to the program.
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The pushback by some U.S. officials against the drone program comes as U.S. diplomats and officials serving in Pakistan express dissatisfaction with what they see as the generally hostile tenor of the U.S.'s policy toward Pakistan.

These diplomats and officials say the deep vein of anti-Americanism that runs through Pakistani society forces its elected and military leaders, including army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to distance themselves from Washington to avoid a popular backlash.

"What's worrying a lot of us is whether we're turning people who should be our natural allies into our adversaries," said a U.S. diplomat in Pakistan.

A senior U.S. official said the key is figuring out what level of drone strikes can satisfy U.S. security needs and at the same be tolerated by the Pakistanis. "I think we underestimate the importance of public opinion in Pakistan to our detriment," the official said. The Pakistanis have "a legitimate concern."

Islamabad has proposed narrowing the scope of the CIA program to target militants that have been agreed to by both sides, a Pakistani official said.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304563104576363812217915914.html
Riaz Haq said…
Ilyas Kashmiri, a top Pakistani militant and senior Al Qaeda operative, reportedly has been killed in a US drone strike in the tribal territory of South Waziristan, according to press reports and a statement from the group he headed, reports Christian Science Monitor:

A Newsweek profile headlined “Is Ilyas Kashmiri the New Bin Laden?” said he “has the experience, the connections, and a determination to attack the West – including the United States—that make him the most dangerous Qaeda operative to emerge in years.”

A Pakistani intelligence official said Kashmiri was among nine militants killed in the strike. While identifying individuals killed in such attacks can be difficult, a fax from the militant group he was heading – Harakat-ul-Jihad al-Islami's "313 Brigade" – confirmed Kashmiri was "martyred" in the strike.

Described by U.S. officials as Al Qaeda's military operations chief in Pakistan, he was one of five most-wanted militant leaders in the country, accused in a string of attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai massacre.

Kashmiri also has been linked to last month's assault on a Pakistani naval base in Karachi.

He is also accused of masterminding several raids on Pakistan police and intelligence buildings in 2009 and 2010, as well as a failed assassination attempt against then-President Pervez Musharraf in 2003. The US Department of State says he organized a 2006 suicide bombing against the US consulate in Karachi that killed four people, including an American diplomat.
Riaz Haq said…
Abbottabad and PNS Mehran are giving pause to Indian security establishment to think how they would deal with similar situation. Here's an Indian blogger Sudip Mukherjee:

1. What If India Is Attacked In Operation Geronimo Style?

Josy Joseph Times Of India Article
If someone were to sneak in and carry out a special forces raid, like the Americans did in Abbottabad to take out Osama bin Laden, the Indian response may not be very different from that of Pakistan, sources in the security establishment said.
In the wake of such a disappointing realization, the government has begun discussing ways to improve India's response mechanisms, including designating 'first responders' for such eventualities.

The Abbottabad raid is now under intense scrutiny by the security establishment at the highest levels, and by individual organizations such as intelligence agencies and the military. Each of them is studying it from their own perspective, but collectively their inputs "would help improve Indian security architecture", a senior official said.

Government at the highest levels is "seized of the reality" that Indian security response would not be very different from that of Pakistan, and is setting in motion reviews at various levels to improve its response mechanisms, a senior official involved in the exercise told. While the overall architecture of defence against intrusions is known, such as the role of IAF and Army, there are still huge gaps. What is not clear is "who would respond how and when if an Abbottabad-like intrusion" were to happen, he said.

Another official pointed out that the details of response of various agencies as soon as first shots were fired in Abbottabad are of great value to the security establishment. While the Kakul Military Academy and other security installations tightened their own security as soon as the gunshots rang out from the Abbottabad compound, there was no designated agency that was meant to reach the particular spot to take on the "intruder", the official said. Josy Joseph Times Of India Article
If someone were to sneak in and carry out a special forces raid, like the Americans did in Abbottabad to take out Osama bin Laden, the Indian response may not be very different from that of Pakistan, sources in the security establishment said.
In the wake of such a disappointing realization, the government has begun discussing ways to improve India's response mechanisms, including designating 'first responders' for such eventualities.

The Abbottabad raid is now under intense scrutiny by the security establishment at the highest levels, and by individual organizations such as intelligence agencies and the military. Each of them is studying it from their own perspective, but collectively their inputs "would help improve Indian security architecture", a senior official said.
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2. India Prepares To Pre-empt Terror Attack On Its Air bases

'The (May 22) terror attack on Pakistan Navy air base at Mehran in Karachi was a wake-up call. In light of the incident, we are taking measures to improve security at all air bases across the country on top priority,' the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, told reporters here on the margins of a conference here.

As the world's fourth largest air force after the US, Russia and China, the IAF has 60 operational air bases across the country under seven commands, with 170,000 personnel and 1,600 aircraft of different types, including fighters, transports and helicopters.
Riaz Haq said…
Here are some excerpts from an Op Ed by Bilal Baloch published in The Guardian:

China's trade presence in Pakistan has been growing for decades. The steady, indirect approach is something either to marvel at for the emerging superpower's foresight, or to note down for its good fortune. In 2010, trade between the two countries reached a whopping $8.7bn: not bad for a nation wrestling with militancy. Above all else, the Chinese have come to represent reliability in Pakistan in a way that the Americans simply have not – despite the fact that the US, too, pumps billions of dollars into Pakistan every year.

The Americans, clearly, are not getting the right kind of bang for their buck. China has truly won the hearts of the populace, if not minds; this, in turn, has cultivated trust between the two countries. Yet, for the Chinese to nurture and build connections in Pakistani civil society may be a long way away, as the hyper-politicised people of Pakistan are far removed from the political leanings of the Chinese. Enter, America.

For both legal and security reasons, the US does not carry out extensive trade in Pakistan. After all, without the necessary security for Americans, Pakistan represents a high-risk destination; and of this Pakistanis themselves are perhaps most disadvantaged. But this does not mean that trade relationships in the future should be discounted. Looking at the success of the Chinese approach, a long-term strategy to create jobs and business opportunities for Pakistanis and Americans is plausible. Currently, however, Pakistanis are disenchanted by American foreign policy.

Pakisatani anti-Americanism has always been interpreted as ideological abhorrence of the US. This may be the case for the militant minority that causes the biggest headache, but, in fact, that anti-Americanism may be driven more generally by an asymmetry of information – and what Pakistanis perceive as US support for a government that does not cater well to the needs of its own people. But the current most significant American exports to Pakistan – Facebook and Twitter – have changed the face of communication opportunities available to regular Pakistanis. Some 20 million Pakistanis are frequently online: that's 10-15% of the population. This incidental creation of a virtual civil society has not gone unnoticed: last week, the American consulate organised an international social media summit in Karachi, where internet-savvy journalists and bloggers came together from neighbouring countries and throughout Pakistan to discuss ventures such as "Harass Map" in Pakistan. It's these citizen connections, enabling Pakistanis themselves to build civil society in Pakistan, that can overcome security concerns both locally and internationally.

China may have discovered trade as a key to Pakistan's strategic value; but the US is better-placed to make the relationships that will count.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jun/19/pakistan-china-us-social-media
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Daily Times report about social media summit in Karachi:

KARACHI: Over 200 bloggers from across Pakistan interacted with their fellows from Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, USA and Netherlands at Network Pakistan’s first-ever international social media summit.

The event began with a panel discussion on ‘Education and Good Governance, Women and Social Activism in New Era of Media’, and ‘Monetizing Your Social Media Space’.

These discussions were followed by 20 different breakout sessions with five sessions underway simultaneously on different aspects of social media. The bloggers also interacted via Skype with WordPress and Twitter representatives. “I am thrilled to be here today and see so many people here who actively blog and use social media for bringing about a positive change. Pakistan has a lively and active blogging community, where over three million citizen journalists can freely report on and discuss any topic,” stated US Consul General William Martin in his keynote address. Express Tribune Editor Kamal Siddiqi and Intel Pakistan Country Manager Naveed Siraj welcomed the participants and expressed the hope that the summit would become an annual event. The daylong interactive summit was sponsored jointly by PC World, Google, Intel, Raffles (Pakistan’s Authorized Apple Distributor) and media partners, including Newsweek Pakistan, Express Media Group, City 89 FM and the US Consulate General in Karachi.

International participants included Mohamed El Dahshan (Egypt), Hanny Kusumawati and Anandita Puspitasari (Indonesia), Rebecca Chiao (Egypt), Ong Hock Chuan (Malaysia), Claire Diaz Ortiz (US) and Karim Osman (Netherlands). Prominent bloggers from Pakistan included Raza Rumi, Awab Alvi, Sana Saleem, Naveen Naqvi, AJ Shirazi, Imtiaz Muhammad, Ali Abbas Zaidi, Shehrbano Taseer and Yasser Latif Hamdani. Showcasing Pakistan’s active social media community, bloggers traveled from Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Hala, Gujranwala, Wah Cantt and Quetta for the summit.
Riaz Haq said…
Here are some excerpts of an Op Ed by William Martin, US Consul General, published in The Express Tribune:


Perhaps showing the generation gap, I did not know that Pakistan has such a lively and active blogging community, with over three million citizen-journalists freely reporting on virtually every topic under the sun. Pakistan has one of the fastest-growing Facebook and Twitter-using populations in the world, with over four million Facebook users. Remarkably, the per capita internet access in Pakistan is between 10-15 per cent of the total population — more than double that of neighbouring India. Using even the most conservative estimates, 20 million Pakistanis are regularly online, or the equivalent of the population of four Singapores.

Pakistan enjoys tremendous freedom of information and online expression. As a representative of the United States, I am keenly aware of the vibrancy of that free speech every time I log in to my computer or pick up a newspaper. Although a bit bruised sometimes, I welcome it! By amplifying the diversity of voices, social media is making life a richer experience for us all. And this is possible because Pakistanis are using their freedom of expression every day, online. Blogging is reinforcing the backbone of democracy – freedom of speech – a freedom that is enshrined in the US Constitution.

In Pakistan, the freedom of the press was earned over time, through the sacrifices of its people, especially the sacrifices of those in the media community. Journalists and bloggers now play a central role in the effort to institutionalise these hard won freedoms.

We must never forget, the many journalists who have been killed or injured as they sought to report on the challenges facing us today. They take extraordinary risks to enlighten us with the truth. Nobody embodied this commitment more than Syed Saleem Shahzad, who was senselessly murdered trying to pursue this truth. All of us are diminished by his passing. But, there is no doubt that his work will continue and others will pick up the baton and carry on. It is up to each of us to honour his legacy and do all we can to support press freedom as a fundamental right to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. Blog on.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan: Nation on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Fatima Bhutto

Here's a link to an interesting video of Fatima Bhutto speaking at Sydney Writers Festival:

http://blip.tv/slowtv/pakistan-nation-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown-fatima-bhutto-5236151

About this episode
TV-UN

Pakistan is a country plagued by natural disasters, endemic political corruption, religious fundamentalism and is claimed by many to be the central headquarters of Islamist terrorism. And it’s a nuclear power. Fatima Bhutto, scion of the Pakistani political family, addresses the current state of her country in her Opening Address at the Sydney Writers' Festival 2011.Fatima Bhutto is an Afghan-born Pakistani poet and writer. She is the granddaughter of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and niece of Benazir Bhutto (both assassinated). She is active in Pakistan's socio-political arena but has no desire to run for political office. She currently writes columns for ‘The Daily Beast’, ‘New Statesman’ and other publications.May 2011
Riaz Haq said…
THE CIA has been ordered out of a desert airbase in Pakistan from where it launched deadly Predator drone strikes against al-Qa'ida, according to The Australian:

The Shamsi base in Baluchistan has been at the forefront of the US's counterterrorism operations in the region. But the fall-out from the mission by US navy SEALs on May 2 to kill Osama bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad appears to have finally brought to an end the secret arrangement with the CIA, which allowed the intelligence agency to hit terrorist and Taliban targets in North Waziristan on the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistani Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar said the US had been told to stop launching strikes from Shamsi. The move represents the latest blow to US-Pakistani relations, which have been seriously damaged since the killing of bin Laden.

Washington has made it clear that Pakistan must have colluded to hide the al-Qa'ida leader for five years within its borders. At the same time, Pakistan is furious the US engaged in a military strike on the Abbottabad compound without its knowledge.

Pakistani authorities have also claimed that dozens of women and children have been killed by the Predator attacks, and outrage over the strikes has sparked civilian protests.

The numbers are disputed by the US, where officials say no civilians have been killed since August last year and that about 30 died during the previous 12 months.

Mr Mukhtar said: "We have told them to leave the airbase."

The news took the US by surprise yesterday. The CIA declined to comment, but a US official said: "This is news to us. American operations against terrorists in Pakistan are continuing."

Since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, the number of Predator attacks from Shamsi has accelerated, resulting in the deaths of 20 of the 30 most wanted al-Qa'ida leaders hiding in Pakistan's tribal northwest.
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...the increasing political and military tensions between Pakistan and the US could increase should the drone strikes continue, even if they are launched from Afghanistan, because such a move would breach Pakistani sovereignty.

The closure of the operations at Shamsi, a small airfield about 320km southwest of Quetta, would be a blow for the CIA, although with relations between Washington and Islamabad at such a low ebb it seemed unlikely the base would remain a permanent location for secret missions. Pakistani politics and growing anti-US sentiment in the country made it inevitable the CIA would have to find alternative arrangements for its Predators.


http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/pakistan-banishes-cia-from-shamsi-airbase/story-e6frg6so-1226085116317
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Daily Telegraph story on CIA's use of vaccination to confirm bin Laden presence in Abbottabad:

Having traced a bin Laden courier to a walled compound in the town of Abottabad, agents wanted to confirm the al-Qaeda leader was living there before raiding it.

They began a complicated ruse by recruiting a senior Pakistani government doctor to offer Hepatitis B vaccinations to local people, according to the Guardian and American newspapers.

A nurse working for the program was then admitted to the compound to give vaccinations to the children there.

The CIA hoped to obtain DNA from the children and match it to that of bin Laden's sister who had died at a hospital in Boston last year. It is not known how successful the scheme was.

The doctor involved was reportedly detained by Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency weeks after the US raid on the compound in early May, in which bin Laden was killed.

Officials in the US are said to have intervened in an attempt to secure the doctor's release.

The Pakistani authorities and the CIA did not comment on the report.

Relations between the two countries — awkward at the best of times — have hit new lows after American special forces launched a covert raid to kill Osama bin Laden in May.

Pakistan has expelled US military personnel and delayed visas for diplomatic staff.

The US has now halted $800 million (£500 million) in assistance in protest at Pakistan's decision to expel military trainers, and in frustration at the perceived slow pace of hitting militant hide-outs in North Waziristan.

Hamid Gul, a former director of the ISI, said withholding aid would simply turn public opinion more "caustic" and delay any large-scale campaign against militants.

“Why should they go into North Waziristan now? They were making commitments to do it, but these threat, master and slave treatment, this arm twisting, will not work,” he said.

Pakistan has long promised to launch a major ground offensive in North Waziristan, a rugged tribal area home to militants with the Haqqani network, from where they launch cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.

US officials have raised the issue repeatedly with their Pakistani counterparts, who say they are still trying to put down insurgencies elsewhere and are not ready to deal with a terrorist backlash likely to result from opening a fresh front.

Holding back aid is unlikely to increase co-operation and could strengthen those in the government who argue that Washington is a fickle ally who can’t be trusted, said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the US.

“If you still need the relationship, which clearly the United States does, then it really doesn’t make sense to take action at this time because it leaves the United States with less, not more, influence with the Pakistani military,” she said. “Co-operation cannot be coerced by punitive actions.”

For its part, the Pakistani military has played down the cut in aid.

Military figures insist it will make no difference to their ability to take on militants or delay their long-standing promise to launch a ground offensive in North Waziristan.

“We will continue to fight this war with or without them,” said a senior security official. “Without them we will do it in our own sweet time.”


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/8631420/CIA-set-up-fake-vaccination-programme-to-capture-Osama-bin-Ladens-DNA.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's how former Pakistani Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi sees US aid cut, according to IISS:

Dr Maleeha Lodhi, former Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK and Ambassador to the US, referred to the Beatles hit ‘Money can’t buy me love’ when discussing the politics of US aid flows to Pakistan. Lodhi spoke at the IISS on ‘Pakistan: Beyond the Crisis State’ – the title of a book she has recently edited and written in – and stressed that sustainable progress in her country could ‘only come from within’.

The speaker encouraged a reassessment of Pakistan as ‘a fragile state but a resilient society’, and spoke of the need ‘to put the accent also... on the positives’ rather than relying upon the ‘single issue lens through which Pakistan has been viewed of late’, particularly in light of Osama bin Laden’s death and questions of Pakistan’s complicity in his evasion of capture for almost a decade.

She emphasised the interconnectedness of the problems the country currently faces, from political ineptitude and economic mismanagement to poor education and wider geostrategic issues, and called for ‘a holistic approach that is able to address all of these as we go forward’.

Dr Lodhi laid the blame of many of these issues on the ruling elite. She described the political culture of Pakistan as ‘a system that focuses on the parochial’; one predicated on the perceived obligation of politicians to reward supporters rather than to concentrate on the needs of wider society. She also denigrated it as ‘ossified’, particularly because of the outdated censuses that elections rely on, and considered electoral reform crucial to more representative government.

Questions following the discussion focused predominantly on bin Laden’s death, particularly the impact of this event of US-Pakistan relations. ‘The suggestions of complicity goes much too far’, according to Lodhi, especially given the suffering caused to Pakistanis at the hands of al-Qaeda. Yet she did concede that bin Laden’s refuge in Abbotabad at least pointed to holes in Pakistani intelligence gathering, and the question of how he evaded capture for so long was one that ‘the people of Pakistan are asking’.

Lodhi also addressed the high levels of anti-American sentiment across Pakistan – something which she considered ‘the result of the burden of history’, and which had a ‘mirror image’ in America: ‘Both have a low opinion of the other, both feel they gave so much yet got so little’. Despite this, and the negative impact of recent events on this relationship, Lodhi envisaged a pivotal role for Pakistan in future US policy in the region, particularly if Washington moves towards political reconciliation in Afghanistan.


http://www.iiss.org/whats-new/iiss-voices/?blogpost=179
Riaz Haq said…
PM says Abbottabad and Mehran base attacks raised false concerns about safety of nukes, according to Dunya News:

He pointed to the simultaneous propaganda onslaught against Pakistan and its nuclear programme.

Chairing the 19th meeting of the National Command Authority (NCA), Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani reviewed issues of national importance and developments in the regional and global security environment.

The NCA expressed satisfaction at the security and safety of Pakistan’s strategic programmes and facilities, besides approving the National Nuclear Programme 2050 and the Space Programme 2040.

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani in his statement expressed government’s firm resolve to protect the country’s strategic and nuclear assets at all costs. “Such baseless, and certainly motivated, campaign against Pakistan will neither deter us from proceeding ahead.”
He said the strategic programme forms the core of Pakistan’s national security paradigm.

The Pakistan Armed Forces, and in fact the whole nation, takes its responsibility for national defence as a sacred duty. No one should ever under estimate our capability and resolve in this regard.

He said concerns have also been expressed internationally over potential threats from non-state actors to the security of strategic assets and facilities. While media reports have speculated on the possibility of sabotage and existence of contingency plans to take over Pakistan’s nuclear assets.

“Any such nefarious designs shall be thwarted effectively by the armed forces with full support of the people of Pakistan.”
The PM also pointed to the several developments that have taken place at the national, regional and international levels in the last few months.


http://dunyanews.tv/index.php?key=Q2F0SUQ9MiNOaWQ9MzA1NDc=
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Wired.com article describing US Navy Seals raids in Pakistan as routine:

U.S. special operations forces have regularly and “surreptitiously” slipped into Pakistan in recent years, raiding suspected terrorist hideouts on Pakistani soil. The team that killed Osama bin Laden — those guys alone had conducted “10 to 12″ of those missions before they hit that infamous compound in Abbottabad.

In a remarkable story for this week’s New Yorker, Nicholas Schmidle puts together the most detailed picture so far of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. But the most combustible component of the explosive article might be the disclosure that U.S. commandos sneak into Pakistan on the regular.

Over the last week, current and one-time top officials have debated the wisdom of the U.S. launching unilateral strikes in places like Pakistan. Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told a gathering of security professionals in Aspen that the attacks weren’t worth the local antipathy they generated. Retired Gen. Doug Lute, who oversees Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy at the White House, admitted that there was a major “humiliation factor.” But he told the conference that now was the time to “double down” on the raids, with al-Qaida in disarray. “We need to go for the knockout punch.”

Most people in the audience assumed Lute was talking about additional drone attacks. Perhaps Navy SEALs would deliver the hit, instead.

In many minds, that decisive blow landed last May, when Navy SEALs took out the world’s most wanted terrorist. Schmidle’s piece confirms much of what we already knew about the bin Laden raid: yes, they used a stealthy spy drone and a radar-evading Black Hawk and a particularly ferocious dog; yes, bin Laden was unarmed; yes, the SEALs found his porn.

But Schmidle reveals tons of new details, too. One SEAL bear-hugged bin Laden’s wives, to keep them from detonating suicide vests (an unnecessary precaution, it turns out). The commandos considered tunneling into the compound — until overhead imagery showed that the water table would prevent any digging. At least three of the SEALs were part of the operation that rescued Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates.

Since the bin Laden raid, the government of Pakistan claimed it was kicking dozens of U.S. military trainers out of the country. Islamabad made noises about shutting down a base from which U.S. drones took off. Generally, relations between the two countries have gone into the toilet.

But the drone attacks haven’t let up. Will the special operations raids continue, as well? Or was the bin Laden operation the final mission?



One side note: at last week’s Aspen Security Forum, Special Operations Command chief Adm. Eric Olson refused again and again to answer questions about the bin Laden raid. Too much had been disclosed already. “For the special operations community, the 15 minutes of fame lasted about 14 minutes too long,” Olson said. But the admiral – who oversaw the mission, is responsible for all special operations forces, and almost certainly approved Schmidle’s access to his troops – did offer one thought: the raid was routine. A “dozenish” of these kill-or-capture missions were launched every night, mostly in Afghanistan. “Eleven went left,” Olson noted, “one went right.”

Interestingly, a senior Defense Department official talking to Schmidle used almost identical language. “Most of the missions take off and go left,” he said. “This one took off and went right.” Perhaps it’s not so bad if those 15 minutes last another second or two longer.
Riaz Haq said…
US sources say the special forces soldiers killed by the Taliban today were from the Navy Seal unit which killed Osama Bin Laden, but are "unlikely" to be the same personnel, according to the BBC:

Thirty US troops, said to be mostly special forces, have been killed, reportedly when a Taliban rocket downed their helicopter in east Afghanistan.

Seven Afghan commandos and a civilian interpreter were also on the Chinook, officials say.

US sources say the special forces were from the Navy Seal unit which killed Osama Bin Laden, but are "unlikely" to be the same personnel.

This is the largest single US loss of life in the Afghan conflict.

The numbers of those killed have now been confirmed by the Nato-led mission in Afghanistan.

The Chinook went down in the early hours of Saturday in Wardak province, said a statement from President Hamid Karzai's office.

It was returning from an operation against the Taliban in which eight insurgents are believed to have been killed.

A senior official of President Barack Obama's administration said the helicopter was apparently shot down, Associated Press news agency reports.

An official with the Nato-led coalition in Afghanistan told the New York Times the helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Kabul says it is rare for the Taliban to shoot down aircraft.

The Taliban say they have modified their rocket-propelled grenades to improve their accuracy but that may not be true, our correspondent says.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14430735
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Times of India story on "Aalu Anday", a satirical music video gone viral on Youtube:

NEW DELHI: When the music video of "Aalu Anday", an unsparing song that lampoons Pakistan's top politicians and generals from Ashfaq Kayani to Zia-ul-Haq, from Nawaz Sharif to Imran Khan, was released last month, it immediately became an internet sensation.

But the bitingly satirical number was merely the latest in a long chain of similar popular anti-establishment tracks by other well-known Pakistan singers and groups such as Shehzad Roy, Junoon and Laal who have laughed at and lambasted the high and mighty across the border.

"We are the silent majority of Pakistan who are speaking up now. We are not trying to give solutions, but only trying to create an environment where things can be discussed openly," says 27-year-old Ali Aftab Saeed, a band member of Beygairat Brigade, the Lahore-based 'political rock' band who created Aalu Anday. Incidentally, the three band members (Daniyal Malik and 15-year-old guitarist Hamza Malik being the other two) are self-confessedly 'hardcore' RD Burman fans and Anurag Kashyap admirers.

A little courage in the heart and a guitar in hand go a long way in expressing notes of dissent across the border. The Beygairat Brigade's act is the latest in a tradition where singers and satirists have routinely ridiculed and castigated politicians in their music and lyrics. In 2008, singer Shehzad Roy courted controversy with Laga Reh, a hard-hitting track attacking the establishment.

Earlier Sufi-rock band Junoon faced censorship for songs like Ehtesaab, which hit out at political corruption and was banned by the Pakistani state TV. Now, bands such as Laal have joined the party providing music to the fiery protest poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib, known for producing art out of defiance. TV channels refused to play their song, Jhooth ka uncha sar, said to be "too anti-army" in sentiment.

"In the beginning Pakistani bands used music to express dissent because other avenues of communication were closed to them. When you are in a repressive environment you naturally find other ways to communicate and music became that outlet. Nowadays things are much more open, but I think the association between music and free speech remains," says satirist and stand-up comic Saad Haroon.

In a country racked by terrorist violence and extreme disillusionment with the state, humour not only works as a form of subversion but also as relief and release.

The identity of Beygairat Brigade is constructed as an antithesis to what they call the "ghairat brigade" (honor brigade): political analysts and TV show hosts who have taken it upon themselves to uphold the honor of the Pakistani state as they understand it.


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/In-Pakistan-protest-music-is-a-tradition/articleshow/10562389.cms
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an AP story about a Pakistani rapper Adil Omar:

...That was four years ago, and Omar has now recorded songs with several other American rappers, including Everlast from House of Pain, Xzibit and one of the members of Limp Bizkit.

He plans to release his first album next year and has established himself as Pakistan's biggest - and perhaps only - rap star. His rise illustrates a side of Pakistan that is often obscured by the steady stream of news about the Taliban and Al Qaida that comes out of the country.

Many Pakistani cities have thriving subcultures that get little attention in the West. Pakistan has a rich musical tradition, including the performance of Urdu-language love poems called ghazals and mystical Sufi music called Qawwali.

Pakistani rock bands have long been popular, as have songs from Bollywood movies. But hard-core rap like Omar's laced with profanity and sexual innuendo is almost unheard of, and could even be dangerous in a society plagued by militants.

"Violence seems to be totally acceptable in this culture, but sex and bad language in music and art seems to be totally unacceptable," said Omar, a clean-cut looking 20-year-old with short black hair who favors black sunglasses and T-shirts with half-naked women.

Omar, who sings in English, insists he is not a political rapper, but his latest song, Paki Rambo, is about a vigilante who hunts the Taliban. "Ambush your camp, my inglorious crew. Straight bastards, brawny and stronger than you," sang Omar. "Take classes, learn how we got em on wax. Hit the base with a bag full of Taliban scalps."
-----------
"It's the P to the A to the K to the I. Armed to the teeth till the day that I die," sang Omar. "R to the A to the M B O. Paki Rambo in the place." The song is part of the soundtrack for an upcoming Pakistani movie, Gol Chakkar, and the directors helped Omar produce a slick music video that has been released on YouTube.
----------
A young boy walks around with a mink stole around his neck. The market for Omar's music in Pakistan is small, limited mainly to elite Pakistani kids like himself who speak English and live lifestyles closer to their Western counterparts than the country's conservative majority.

Extremists who believe music is a violation of Islamic law have bombed CD shops in some parts of Pakistan. The upmarket crowd was on display at a rare concert Omar held this past weekend at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad.

Well-coiffed women in tight jeans and young hipsters in velour jackets held up iPhones and Blackberries to record the show. "We really enjoy Adil's music because it represents the young generation," said Faizaan Bomassy, a 23-year engineer wearing a white Playboy hoody.

Even among Omar's friends and fans, some were surprised by the swearing and sexual references that flow through his music. "I think it's a little explicit sometimes, but I think it's good music," said Waleed Ali Khan, a 20-year-old student. "I think he is breaking new ground and paving the way for new artists."

Omar was born in London but moved to Islamabad when he was very young. He began writing lyrics at the age of 10 when his father died and his mother was bedridden for several years with a serious illness.
---------
Paki Rambo and Omar's collaborations with American rap stars will appear on the album he plans to release next year, The Mushroom Cloud Effect. About a third of the songs were recorded in Los Angeles, and the rest in Omar's bedroom in his mother's house in Islamabad...........


http://gulfnews.com/arts-entertainment/music/rapper-breaks-new-ground-in-conservative-pakistan-1.921804

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjlYGzVk-6o&feature=related
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Wall Street Journal story on the resilience of Pak cricketers:

The Pakistan cricket team must be the most resilient entity in the world. Exiled from playing at home, repeatedly riven by internecine bickering and factionalism, and with three of their top players, including their two best bowlers, recently imprisoned for spot-fixing – and still last week they completed a Test series victory against Sri Lanka.

They did so in the UAE, because the last time Pakistan tried to play a home series against Sri Lanka, gunmen attacked the away team's bus on the way to Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium, killing six policemen and two civilians and injuring several players and officials, and now no international team will play there. Never playing in front of home crowds doesn't seem to have too detrimental an effect on the team (much like their neighbours Afghanistan, one of cricket's great success stories of recent years, who also can't play at home), but it certainly does on the Pakistan Cricket Board's coffers. They experimented with England as a home away from home, playing two Tests there against Australia last year, but crowds were smaller than expected. They were even smaller in the UAE, where at times the stands were roughly as densely populated as the surrounding desert, but at least the costs of hosting a Test there are lower.

Then there's the 800-pound gorilla hanging over the series, a distraction that would have bought many a team to their knees: the conviction in London for corruption and cheating of former captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir. Quite apart from the distraction to the players of knowing that their former teammates were on trial, that people they'd played alongside might not always have been trying their hardest, and that the honesty of the culture of the team they represent was being called into question, the loss of players of that quality would be hard for any team to absorb.
------------
In other words, the endless production line of freakishly talented Pakistani players continues to draw the sting of everything that happens to the team. That production line is driven by the deep love for the game in the country – a love that appears as resistant to the repeated abuse it receives as the team does. Against the backdrop of the London trial, their win in the UAE, against a side ranked above them, represented a heartening refusal to be steamrollered by events beyond their control. It's a quality every Pakistani cricketer needs in abundance.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204358004577029463786217648.html?mod=googlenews_wsj#articleTabs%3Darticle
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a brief excerpt from Time Magazine about "Protestor" as "Person of the Year" for 2011:

Once upon a time, when major news events were chronicled strictly by professionals and printed on paper or transmitted through the air by the few for the masses, protesters were prime makers of history. Back then, when citizen multitudes took to the streets without weapons to declare themselves opposed, it was the very definition of news — vivid, important, often consequential. In the 1960s in America they marched for civil rights and against the Vietnam War; in the '70s, they rose up in Iran and Portugal; in the '80s, they spoke out against nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Europe, against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, against communist tyranny in Tiananmen Square and Eastern Europe. Protest was the natural continuation of politics by other means.

And then came the End of History, summed up by Francis Fukuyama's influential 1989 essay declaring that mankind had arrived at the "end point of ... ideological evolution" in globally triumphant "Western liberalism." The two decades beginning in 1991 witnessed the greatest rise in living standards that the world has ever known. Credit was easy, complacency and apathy were rife, and street protests looked like pointless emotional sideshows — obsolete, quaint, the equivalent of cavalry to mid-20th-century war. The rare large demonstrations in the rich world seemed ineffectual and irrelevant. (See the Battle of Seattle, 1999.)

There were a few exceptions, like the protests that, along with sanctions, helped end apartheid in South Africa in 1994. But for young people, radical critiques and protests against the system were mostly confined to pop-culture fantasy: "Fight the Power" was a song on a platinum-selling album, Rage Against the Machine was a platinum-selling band, and the beloved brave rebels fighting the all-encompassing global oppressors were just a bunch of characters in The Matrix. (See pictures of protesters around the world.)

"Massive and effective street protest" was a global oxymoron until — suddenly, shockingly — starting exactly a year ago, it became the defining trope of our times. And the protester once again became a maker of history.

Prelude to the Revolutions
It began in Tunisia, where the dictator's power grabbing and high living crossed a line of shamelessness, and a commonplace bit of government callousness against an ordinary citizen — a 26-year-old street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi — became the final straw. Bouazizi lived in the charmless Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, 125 miles south of Tunis. On a Friday morning almost exactly a year ago, he set out for work, selling produce from a cart. Police had hassled Bouazizi routinely for years, his family says, fining him, making him jump through bureaucratic hoops. On Dec. 17, 2010, a cop started giving him grief yet again. She confiscated his scale and allegedly slapped him. He walked straight to the provincial-capital building to complain and got no response. At the gate, he drenched himself in paint thinner and lit a match.


Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2101745_2102132_2102373,00.html #ixzz1h2cwmt4W
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an AP story on the firing of "vigil-auntie" TV host Maya Khan:

In a rare victory for Pakistani liberals, a private TV station decided to fire a popular morning show host after she sparked outrage by running around a public park trying to expose young, unmarried couples hanging out, a taboo in this conservative Muslim country.

Pakistani liberals derided host Maya Khan's behavior on Twitter and Facebook, comparing it to the kind of moral policing practiced by the Taliban, and started an online petition asking Samaa TV to end this "irresponsible programming" and apologize.

The company responded Saturday in a letter sent to reporters saying it had decided to fire Khan and her team and cancel her show because she refused to issue an unconditional apology for the Jan. 17 program.

Samaa TV's decision marked an unusual victory for Pakistan's beleaguered liberal minority, which has become more marginalized as the country has shifted to the right and whose members have been killed by Islamist extremists for standing up for what they believe.

Critics of the program also praised the company's decision as a positive example of self-regulation by Pakistan's freewheeling TV industry, which was liberalized in 2000 and has mushroomed from one state-run channel to more than 80 independent ones.

Some shows have been praised for serving the public good by holding powerful officials to account, but many others have been criticized for doing anything that will get ratings, including pandering to populist sentiments at the expense of privacy and sometimes truth.

"Samaa management has set a good example that some others need to follow," said prominent human rights activist and journalist Hussain Naqi.

During the program in question, Khan and around a dozen other men and women chased down young couples in a seaside park in the southern city of Karachi. Several couples raced away from the group. One young man put on a motorcycle helmet to hide his identity, while his female friend covered her face with a veil.

Khan finally accosted one couple sitting on a bench and pestered them with questions about whether they were married and whether their parents knew they were there. The man said the couple was engaged and asked Khan to shut off her cameras and microphone. She lied and said they were off.

"What is the difference between this kind of media vigilantism and that demonstrated by the Taliban?" said Mahnaz Rahman, a director at the Aurat Foundation, an organization that fights for women's rights in Pakistan.

Islamist extremists have been ruthless in targeting liberal Pakistanis who disagree with their hardline views. One of the most prominent examples was in last January, when a bodyguard shot to death the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, because of his criticism of Pakistani laws that mandate the death penalty for criticizing the Prophet Muhammad.

Following Khan's program, one headline in a local paper called the host and the other women who appeared on the show "Vigil-aunties," referring to the South Asian term "aunty" for a bossy older woman.


http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hUVp3jnFyNVXxf5DGze-A4-d43GA?docId=c62b2b28e3914bb8899bfa6eaf1b31b0
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Express Tribune story on Pakistanis on Facebook:

According to latests statistics, over six million Pakistanis use Facebook, putting the country on number 26 in the list of countries where Facebook users are based.

The figure, which social media researchers put at 6.08 million people, includes 4.14 million men and 1.94 million women.

Although that sounds like a lot of people, the figure is significantly less than half of the Pakistan population that has access to the internet. According Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, more than 20 million Pakistanis are online, which means that the number using Facebook is only 32.86% of the total online population.

While this is a significant indication of the potential that Facebook can still exploit in Pakistan, what is an even more important fact that comes out of the research is that the number of new users who signed in for a Facebook account increased by one million in the six months between August 2011 and January 2012.

The research shows that 5.19 million Pakistani Facebook users are over the age of 18 years. The appeal continues to be more for men, as 3.57 million of these users are men while 1.59 million are women.

The research shows that the greatest number of Facebook users (55.4%) is between the age of 18 and 24 years. The number of people in this age group who use the website is 3.03 million. The lowest number of users is, not surprisingly, in the age group of above 65 years which constitutes barely 1% of the total internet population.

Out of the users whose relationship status is single, 617,900 are women and 87,600 are men. More than 12,000 men are in a relationship compared to 71,680 women. The number for women is once again the highest, with over 95,720 married as compared to 15,120 men.

Among the users, 2.02 million people are college graduates, 1.46 million of whom are men while half a million are women.

Facebook, which was launched in 2004 but opened its doors to the public in 2006, has over 800 million active users worldwide.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/330906/over-6-million-pakistanis-on-facebook/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Washington Post blog about Internet censorship attempts in Pakistan:

... government ad in Pakistani newspapers Thursday calls for bids for a national firewall for “filtering and blocking” of content on the Web, the technology and culture blog Boing Boing reports.

For many Pakistanis, the ad — posted by the Ministry of Information Technology’s R & D department — prompted flashbacks to the last major incident of Internet censorship in the country, on “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” last May. The cartoon contest spurred Pakistani authorities to order that Internet service providers block access to Facebook and other social media sites, later adding YouTube to the list. Cellphone company Mobilink said access to other sites with “blasphemous content” were also blocked, and a Post reporter said Wikipedia was not working.

The day after the cartoon contest, those sites went back up, but the incident had a lasting impact on Pakistan’s Internet censors.

The following month, a petition presented to the Lahore High Court called on Pakistani Internet service providers to filter content labeled as “smut.”

Also in June, users of Mobilink reported that they were unable to search for several politically sensitive keywords, including the name of the country’s president, according to Opennet.net.

And now this. More information about the proposed filtering and blocking system is on the Ministry of Information Technology’s Web site (here and here.) The site says the content to be blocked is anything deemed “undesirable” by the ministry “from time to time.”

Each hardware box, the ministry also says, “should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URLs ... with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds.”


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/pakistan-calls-for-bids-for-national-internet-filtering-and-blocking-system/2012/02/23/gIQACuOAWR_blog.html
Riaz Haq said…
Dr. Afridi, a Pakistani physician working for Save the Children, was used by the CIA to spy on bin Laden in Abbottabad before the US raid. To put it in perspective, here's interesting piece on how CIA operates through various commercial and non-profit organizations in foreign nations:

Everyone knows that the CIA funds various covert operations throughout the world. They do this through various front organizations including known CIA operations groups which funnel funds to “various non-governmental agencies” (NGOs) which then use those funds to achieve objectives both foreign and domestic. There is a tremendous history of this funneling to quasi-private organizations … but it’s also interesting how overt some of it is. Much of how the CIA operates has bubbled up due to failures and successes around the world in countries like Venezuela, Egypt, Pakistan and thanks to some American whistle-blowers.

The #1 thing you have to understand about this…all of this taxpayer money (your money) that is being spent to further geopolitical and corporate goals is not just money spent to overthrow foreign governments…a good amount of that money is being spent to influence the hearts and minds in America too.

America is a case study of how to successfully let the tail wag the dog; there are a LOT of journalists, editors and influential people on the take (propaganda assets). And they’re is always a concerted effort to punish those of us who share any semblance of truth....


http://pakdefenceunit.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/how-the-cia-operates-through-non-governmental-agencies/

A recent CBS 60 Minutes segment on CIA agent Hank Crumpton confirmed how CIA agents operate under cover in various countries.

"A particular U.S. company can provide cover for a CIA officer who's deployed overseas. A U.S. executive who's traveled abroad can come back and agree to a debriefing from the CIA. A foreign institution may have a relationship with an American institution. And that might be a pathway for the CIA to acquire foreign intelligence."

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57433105/hank-crumpton-life-as-a-spy/?tag=contentMain;cbsCarousel
Riaz Haq said…
Telenor to help empower new digital generation in Pakistan, reports Daily Times:

LAHORE: Telenor Pakistan has launched a nationwide project that would help empower a new digital generation in Pakistan.

Telenor Talkshawk I-Champ is a knowledge-based initiative that aims to provide learning and training to young people to enable them to become future proponents in the digital age. Telenor will partner with Government of the Punjab and hold Internet workshops for class 8-10 students in 150 schools in the semi-urban and rural areas of Punjab. To mark the initiative, a launch event was held at Children’s Library Complex, which was attended by a large number of school children, their parents and teachers.

Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly, Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan said government of the Punjab was committed to providing its citizens with quality education. The students were briefed on how the Internet works and how information can be searched for on internet-enabled mobile phones.

Acting Chief Marketing Officer Telenor Pakistan, Usman Javed said, “We are delighted to be partnering with the Government of Punjab to start promoting digital awareness among the youth of the province”. The winner of the Telenor Talkshawk I-Champ final competition will get to visit Opera Labs in Norway to learn more about how the Internet is being used by people around the world to share knowledge.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\05\13\story_13-5-2012_pg5_11
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a BBC report on Indian govt blocking or censoring social media following panic exodus on NE migrants from Bangalore:

Indian authorities have cracked down on social networking sites following unrest and an exodus of migrant workers fearing revenge attacks.

The government threatened legal action against the websites if they did not remove "inflammatory" content.

Facebook and Google have removed some material, but only in cases where it broke rules on hate speech and inciting violence.

The government said Twitter's response had been "extremely poor".

However, it acknowledged this "may be in part because they don't have an office in India".

Twitter could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Doctored videos

Authorities claim that threatening messages and pictures - which they allege have mostly originated in Pakistan - have been sent over the web to migrant workers following clashes between tribes in the north-east Indian state of Assam last month.

Fearing more violence against ethnic minorities, thousands of people have fled the cities of Bangalore and Pune in recent days.

The government has said social networking sites were used for scaremongering.
----------
It is an unwelcome distraction as India tries to position itself as a developing hub for hi-tech business and commerce in Asia.

Google has said that between July and December 2011 there was a 49% jump in requests from India for content to be removed from its services, compared with the previous six months.

In 2011, the government sought greater access to the tight security system used on Blackberry smartphones.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19343887
Riaz Haq said…
Here's NY Times on derogatory film "Innocence of Muslims" mocking Prophet Muhammad:

For Google last week, the decision was clear. An anti-Islamic video that provoked violence worldwide was not hate speech under its rules because it did not specifically incite violence against Muslims, even if it mocked their faith.

The White House was not so sure, and it asked Google to reconsider the determination, a request the company rebuffed.

Although the administration’s request was unusual, for Google, it represented the kind of delicate balancing act that Internet companies confront every day.

These companies, which include communications media like Facebook and Twitter, write their own edicts about what kind of expression is allowed, things as diverse as pointed political criticism, nudity and notions as murky as hate speech. And their employees work around the clock to check when users run afoul of their rules.

Google is not the only Internet company to grapple in recent days with questions involving the anti-Islamic video, which appeared on YouTube, which Google owns. Facebook on Friday confirmed that it had blocked links to the video in Pakistan, where it violates the country’s blasphemy law. A spokeswoman said Facebook had also removed a post that contained a threat to a United States ambassador, after receiving a report from the State Department; Facebook has declined to say in which country the ambassador worked.
-----------
mpany said, “Facebook’s policy prohibits content that threatens or organizes violence, or praises violent organizations.”

Facebook also explicitly prohibits what it calls “hate speech,” which it defines as attacking a person. In addition, it allows users to report content they find objectionable, which Facebook employees then vet. Facebook’s algorithms also pick up certain words that are then sent to human inspectors to review; the company declined to provide details on what kinds of words set off that kind of review. ...


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/technology/on-the-web-a-fine-line-on-free-speech-across-globe.html

Riaz Haq said…
Here's ET on Facebook and Linked-in user population in Pakistan:

Users of social networking website Facebook in Pakistan have crossed the eight million mark, revealed statistics provided by Social Bakers. The number of Pakistani Facebook users stands at 8,008,720.

The steady increase in users has put Pakistan at 28th place in the ranking of countries that use Facebook.

The highest number of Facebook users (more than 160 million) is in the United States, followed by Brazil with more than 63 million and India with more than 62 million users.

According to the statistics, the total number of Facebook users in Pakistan grew by more than 1,383,900 in the last six months.

The statistics revealed that the age group with the highest number of Facebook users in Pakistan (3,990,800) lies in the age bracket of 18-24 and the second largest group in the age of 25-35.

According to the data, more men use Facebook in Pakistan than women.

Around 70% Facebook users are male, while 30% are female.

LinkedIn

The number of LinkedIn users in Pakistan has reached 1,472,143 (more than one million), as revealed by Social Bakers.

Pakistan stands at rank 10 among all countries that use LinkedIn.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/486676/pakistan-crosses-8-million-facebook-users/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report on free tweeting in Pakistan:

Whenever a country that has a history of internet censorship gains better access to one of the internet’s most important tools, it’s big news.

And that’s exactly what has happened today. Starting today, Pakistan’s largest provider of cellular services has announced that its prepaid customers can tweet away – for free.

“Data charges for accessing Twitter have been made ZERO for all Mobilink prepaid subscribers. Subscribers don’t require to subscribe to this offer since it is available for all prepaid subscribers by default,” says Mobilink.

That means that users can tweet and retweet all they want without incurring any data charges. This removes one of the impediments from Pakistani Twitter users, who have faced state censorship of Twitter in the past.

Back in May of 2012, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority shut off Twitter access for the entire country for approximately 8 hours following the circulation of content deemed blasphemous on the network. Some speculated that the move had less to do with the specific content and more to do with a simple test as to whether a state-wide blockage was feasible.

As far as the rest of the internet goes, the Pakistani government has a history of censorship in the areas of so-called blasphemy and pornography. Recently, that censorship has moved to content that falls in the realm of political speech. In a country with this track record, free access to Twitter is a significant opportunity for its people – considering access remains open.

There are some caveats to the deal. Mainly, tweets must be sent via mobile.twitter.com – not Twitter’s native apps.

Also:

“[G]oing on external links will result in data charging. Whenever a subscriber clicks on an external link, he will be shown a notification indicating that standard data charges apply to view the link. External link will be opened after subscriber’s consent only.”

But for the purposes of simply communicating (being that all-important amateur reporter), this is a great thing for Pakistani tweeters.


http://www.webpronews.com/pakistans-mobiilink-offers-free-tweeting-to-its-customers-2013-04
Riaz Haq said…
Growing use of social media is driving political and social activism and significant social change in Pakistan.

Much of the communication and organization of civil society members in support of the lawyers' movement used social media platforms like facebook and twitter.

Pakistan saw the beginnings of online civil and political activism in 2008-2009 when the lawyers, according to Woodrow Wilson Center's scholar Huma Yusuf, "used chat forums, YouTube videos, Twitter feeds, and blogs to organize the Long March, publicize its various events and routes, and ensure that citizen reporting live from the march itself can be widely circulated to counter the government-influenced coverage of the protest on mainstream media outlets (such as state-owned radio and private news channels relying on government-issue licenses".

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/05/can-bin-laden-raid-ignite-twitter.html

New media have broken stories where traditional media has failed, like Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry's son Arsalan's corruption scandal.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2012/06/pakistans-familygate-mediagate-scandals.html

Politicians and their supporters are active on facebook and twitters to organize and get their messages out and influence public opinion and get votes.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/11/imran-khans-social-media-campaign.html

http://www.riazhaq.com/2013/05/election-ads-money-buys-favorable-media.html

New young talent is getting attention by posting its protest music videos online.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/11/pakistans-protest-music-in-social-media.html


Young men in Lahore have organized through facebook to clean city streets.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/05/young-pakistanis-inspire-with-public.html

Young men and women are defying old customs of arranged marriages based on parents' choices and going for civil marriages outside their families and biraderies. Some of it is resulting in violence by the old guard as evidenced in more honor killings.

In 1992, the applications for court marriages in Karachi amounted to about 10 or 15, mainly applications from couples who were seeking the protection of the court for wedlock without familial consent, according to Arif Hasan. By 2006, it increased to more than 250 applications for court marriages per day in Karachi. Significantly, more than half of the couples seeking court recognition of their betrothal came from rural areas of Sindh. This is yet another indication of how the entire feudal system and its values are in rapid collapse.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2012/12/violent-conflict-is-part-of-pakistans.html

Flashmobs are becoming more common.

Gays are finding each other through social media and organizing underground gay parties in Karachi and elsewhere.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/23811826
Riaz Haq said…
Couple of stories by BBC on gay life in Pakistan:

Mobeen Azhar investigates life in gay, urban Pakistan. Despite Pakistan's religious conservatism and homosexuality being a crime, he finds a vibrant gay scene, all aided by social media. He meets gay people at underground parties, shrines and hotels and finds out what it's really like to be gay in Pakistan. As one man tells him, "The best thing about being gay in Pakistan is you can easily hook up with guys over here. You just need to know the right moves and with...
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Ahmed Asif’s wife is supportive of her husbands work (pictured).

Ahmed has been a masseur for his entire working life. He claims to have slept with over 3000 men but perhaps even more surprisngly, he has 2 wives and 8 children. One of his wives Sumera wears a burka and the nikab, the full face covering. It could be assumed that she is religiously conservative. In fact she’s extremely accepting of her husband’s work and says she wishes more of society would keep an open mind. “I know he has sex. No problem. If he doesn’t work how will the kids eat?"


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01fkg9m
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a WSJ story on how some people are using fake twitter accounts to boost their "followers":

One day earlier this month, Jim Vidmar bought 1,000 fake Twitter accounts for $58 from an online vendor in Pakistan.

He then programmed the accounts to "follow" the Twitter account of rapper Dave Murrell, who calls himself Fyrare and pays Mr. Vidmar to boost his standing on the social network. Mr. Vidmar's fake accounts also rebroadcast Mr. Murrell's tweets, amplifying his Twitter voice.

Mr. Murrell says he sometimes buys Twitter ads to raise his profile, "but you'll get more with Jim." He says many Twitter users try to make their followings look bigger than they are. "If you're not padding your numbers, you're not doing it right," he says. "It's part of the game."

Mr. Vidmar offers a window into the shadowy world of false accounts and computerized robots on Twitter, one of the world's largest social networks. Surrounded by a dozen computers at his home overlooking a golf course near the Las Vegas Strip, Mr. Vidmar has been buying fake accounts and unleashing them on Twitter for six years.

Today, he says he manages 10,000 robots for roughly 50 clients, who pay Mr. Vidmar to make them appear more popular and influential.

His are among millions of fake accounts on Twitter. Mr. Vidmar and other owners manage them to simulate Twitter users: they tweet; retweet, or forward, other tweets; send and reply to messages; and follow and unfollow other Twitter accounts, among other actions.

Some entertainers pay for fake followers. But false accounts can be political tools as well. In 2011, thousands of fake accounts disrupted anti-Kremlin protesters on Twitter.

The fake accounts remain a cloud over Twitter Inc. in the wake of its successful initial public offering. "Twitter is where many people get news," says Sherry Turkle, director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. "If what is trending on Twitter is being faked by robots, people need to know that. This will and should undermine trust."
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Mr. Ding, the Barracuda Labs researcher, says the fake-account market is "going very strong." He and other researchers say Twitter doesn't appear to be applying the Berkeley researchers' techniques to root out other fake accounts.

Mr. Vidmar's robots have helped make his clients "trending topics" on Twitter, giving them special mention on Twitter users' home pages. The trending topics appear just below the "promoted trend" that the company sells for as much as $200,000 a day. The trending topics aren't marked as "sponsored," so they appear more genuine.

Rapper Tony Benson says hiring Mr. Vidmar to promote his account on Twitter is "the best decision I ever made." Mr. Vidmar's robots made the rapper, known as Philly Chase, a trending topic so often around Philadelphia that he attracted attention from local newspapers. Prominence on Twitter led to gigs, fans and ways to promote his videos, Mr. Benson says.

Mr. Vidmar uses software to follow tens of thousands of accounts for his clients, another tactic Twitter prohibits. Being followed prompts many Twitter users to return the favor, and follow his clients.

In September, Mr. Vidmar used software to follow more than 100,000 Twitter users in a week for the Australian rock band The Contagious; that boosted the band's following by 20,000.

The band has a "verified" account, meaning it has taken extra steps to prove to Twitter that the account is real.


http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304607104579212122084821400
Riaz Haq said…
Mobilink Pakistan's parent company VimpelCom Ltd. ("VimpelCom", "Company" or "Group") VIP, -1.88% a leading global provider of telecommunications services operating in 14 countries and headquartered in Amsterdam, and Twitter, Inc., the world leader in public social network services today announced that they have agreed a partnership to offer VimpelCom's customers new ways to connect and engage with communities and content on Twitter.------
Mobilink Pakistan is the first VimpelCom operating company to launch Twitter mobile services under this partnership. VimpelCom will expand the service to its other operations.

The agreement is a part of VimpelCom's consistent strategy of providing its customers with the best mobile internet experience, complementing its current partnerships with Google Play and Windows Phone store to allow VimpelCom smartphone customers using their mobile accounts to pay for digital content, with Opera Software to deliver better mobile web browsing and with WhatsApp and Wikimedia to increase customer engagement and stimulate use of the mobile internet.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/vimpelcom-and-twitter-partner-to-stimulate-mobile-internet-usage-2014-11-19
Riaz Haq said…
Growth of #Internet & #SocialMedia Spawning Many Tweeting politicians in #Pakistan

http://www.dawn.com/news/1307259/tweeting-politicians

Twitter has been in existence since 2006; users can sign up for accounts in their real names or anonymously, and post short messages of 140 characters. In 10 short years, it has become the place for much political movement, first grass-roots actions like communication and organisation, as well as information dissemination. The Atlantic states: “Twitter has grown into a force that has bolstered grass-roots conversations, disrupted the top-down nature of political leadership and thought, and has given voice to groups long hidden on the political periphery.”

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In Pakistan, Twitter was slow to catch on at first, and still remains a tool of the somewhat elite and educated, the first people to gain access to the internet. But with the boom in cheap smartphones (13.5 million subscriptions to mobile broadband in 2015) and the advent of 3G in the country, 17.2m Facebook accounts and 280m connections to Twitter a day, Pakistani officials and political parties knew they had to join the trend or risk irrelevance.

As the site ProPakistani writes, the last three or so years has seen a proliferation of government officials and agencies take to Twitter and Facebook in order to announce their activities, solicit public feedback, and deliver pro-social messages to the Pakistani public. The Pakistan Army’s ISPR uses Twitter to make announcements about security situations and progress in national emergencies. Diplomats and bureaucrats are not up to speed yet with Twitter or Facebook, and while most Pakistani embassies around the world have official Twitter accounts, they aren’t very active.

On the other hand, Pakistani politicians have taken to Twitter like gasoline on a fire. Some of the most popular Twitter accounts belong to leaders like Imran Khan, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Maryam Nawaz Sharif, who spend much of their time tweeting allegations at each other. Mavericks like Sheikh Rasheed and stalwarts like Dr Arif Alvi lend their personalities to their Twitter accounts, using Urdu and English to raise chuckles and deliver sober accountability respectively. It’s a lively arena with ordinary Pakistanis forming breathless fan clubs and fighting with each other in the hopes that their favourite politician-cum-celebrity will favour them with a ‘retweet’ or a ‘like’.

But our politicians and government representatives must bear in mind the weight of their office and their responsibility to the people when composing a tweet. Take the example of Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who on Dec 23, 2016, reminded Israel of Pakistan’s nuclear ability in a tweet. He reacted to fake news that suggested Pakistan would send ground troops to Syria, with Israel purportedly threatening to retaliate with nuclear weapons if this happened. This tweet made it to the pages of international newspapers and turned Pakistan into a laughing stock.

The inventor of Twitter probably didn’t envision a nuclear incident resulting from an ill-thought-out tweet, but if anyone could make such a Stanley Kubrick-esque scenario a reality, it would be a Pakistani politician. With great Twitter power comes great Twitter responsibility; our leaders need to restrain themselves from abusing it to the detriment of the people they claim to serve

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