Category Archives: Pakistan

In memoriam Khudi Ali, friend and human rights activist

Two bombs went off in a Quetta billiards hall yesterday. The first targeted those present in the hall, the second targeted the crowd that came to the rescue. My friend Irfan Ali Khudi, a human rights defender, interfaith activist and prolific tweeter, was among the second crowd. He had come to help, just as he had in the past in similar situations. But he didn’t survive this time.

The Al Qaeda-affiliated Sunni terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi said it was responsible for both blasts, adding that the targets were Pakistani Shias. LeJ has been running a campaign of terror on the small ethno-sectarian minority of Shia-Hazaras in Quetta for a decade, and these blast that killed about 100 and injured more than 130 was part of their recently intensified campaign of ethnic cleansing.

In Memoriam Irfan Ali Khudi, 1980-2013

I knew of Khudi many years ago when I lived in Quetta, but we reconnected on social media two years ago. Most recently, I met him in Washington, DC, when he was part of a Pakistani contingent of civil society and human rights activists touring the United States under a State Department program.

That evening, I walked over to his hotel, took him out to dinner at an Indian restaurant he picked, and we talked for a while. He spoke about hist trip, what he’d seen thus far and what was to come. Then, inevitably, talk turned to the situation in Quetta.

We tried to dissect why law enforcement, the security forces and intelligence agencies had failed to stop the genocide, why they hadn’t been able to arrest or prosecute a single terrorist in connection with more than 1,000 killings. We talked about the people we knew who were no more and the young men, some of them our friends, who had perished on their way to Australia to seek refuge from the carnage.

It took me a while to notice, but somewhere during that conversation Khudi had broken down, silently crying. I had imagined him as a hardened activist who had grown used to conversations about loss because he dealt with it so often. But that night he seemed just as hurt and vulnerble as the rest of us, pained by the memories of the friends he’d lost, the distances the attacks had created between the Shia-Hazaras and the non-Shia, non-Hazara residents of Quetta. In some ways, he was more hurt than me because, while I reacted to the bloodbath from the safety of Washington, he was in the middle of it, occasionally picking up the dead bodies and, as every so often happened, pieces of bodies.

It was more real, more personal for him.

I remember suggesting to Khudi not to return to Quetta again. His life was in danger. He’d lead many protests, spoken out against the genocide, become too well known to the terrorists. He could apply for asylum in the US or join his family in Australia. He had done his share of activism on the ground. He could continue to raise his voice from a safe distance.

But he refused the suggestion and went back. He was brave in a way that many people, including myself, are not. He turned down the prospects of a comfortable, safe life in the West to the chaos and heartbreak of Quetta.

Activism in Pakistan, as in many developing countries, tends to be an elite preoccupation. People who worry about their next meal rarely lead campaigns, rarely go on hunger strike and almost never coin revolutionary Twitter hashtags. People who have a family to feed and clothe are usually too busy to go to attack sites and rescue victims, to hospitals and give blood, to protest rallies and chant slogans.

So, in a way, Khudi was an elite. But he was in the thick of it everyday. He wasn’t a dual citizen, didn’t have a safe perch, didn’t content himself with online petitions or after-work sit-ins.

But he was on Twitter most days. Which is why when I heard news of the blasts, I checked my timeline to see his updates, but they didn’t come.

Instead, I discovered his last tweet, sent hours before the blast:

Khudi’s life has been taken, but his courage and his legacy remain. RIP.

Update: If you’re in Pakistan, please consider attending this protest rally in honor of Khudi.

Irfan Ali Khudi, 1980-2013.

Irfan Ali Khudi, 1980-2013.

Video: Afghanistan Analysis talks Taliban on Al Jazeera

AJ Stream recently invited me to appear on their show focused on the current attempts by the U.S. and its allies to negotiate with the Taliban. Along side me was Afghan journalist and writer Fariba Nawa, whose new book Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords, and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan is one of the best books written by Afghans on Afghanistan in the last decade.

Here’s the show in full.

Thoughts on talks with the Taliban

I wrote a piece for the UN Dispatch after the Taliban agreed to open an office in Qatar and negotiate with the United States. The complete article is located here, but I am also reproducing some of the excerpts in this post.

Taken as is, this momentum is a positive development. But…the biggest challenge to the effort is choosing the parties to the negotiation. The Taliban have so far completely sidelined the Afghan government and have indicated that they only want to talk with the United States. They are participating not as an insurgency, but as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – the country’s legitimate government – attempting to negotiate the withdrawal of the occupying foreign forces.

And so Afghanistan’s High Peace Council is sitting idle as the Taliban initiate talks with the USA. Also excluded are Afghanistan’s civil society and political groups.

[Snip]

Given all of this, nobody should expect that negotiations can completely end the Afghan conflict because high-level talks cannot remedy smaller-scale, localized conflicts motivated by tribal competitions, personal rivalries and the opium trade.

[Snip]

…the international community and the Afghans must first harmonize the dissonance in their respective objectives. The international community’s main hope from the negotiations is a semblance of peace to allow them an honorable exit, while Afghans also want some form of reconciliation involving justice for the victims of the Taliban’s humanitarian and political crimes. Reconciliation would involve prosecution and punishment, and the Taliban are not negotiating to put themselves in jail or on trial.

[Snip]

Reconciliation has to be a process, and processes take time. This means that by the time negotiations turn into reconciliation, the international community will likely have moved on from Afghanistan. Reconciliation processes always carry the latent possibility of failure; that likelihood is even greater in non-inclusive processes such as this one. Given this, what are the contingencies for when peace and reconciliation don’t work and conflict erupts once again? What are the safeguards that can dis-incentivize the temptation to go violent? These questions are important because, while no one wants the Taliban to dominate the country, the insurgent group is not negotiating to obtain a status of secondary importance in the future of Afghanistan.

[Snip]

…surprisingly, Pakistan seems to have looked the other way as the Taliban negotiators and their families were flown out to Qatar. Could this be a tacit change in Pakistan’s strategy? If so, what are its new demands? And how do they square off against the interests of its arch-rival India and those of China, whose stakes in the country have been increasing?

Iran, Afghanistan’s western neighbor, has its own reservations about the idea of Taliban returning to Afghanistan’s mainstream and about the American demand of keeping about 30-40,000 soldiers in Afghanistan…. The problem with Iran is not its reservations but the fact that nobody wants to make it party to the negotiations, essentially giving it license to pursue any and all means to safeguard its interests in Afghanistan.

[Snip]

A lot is at stake on this flawed, failure-prone initiative. Think of it this way: if the Taliban can produce a stalemate fighting NATO and Afghan forces, they can do a lot more when the Afghans are left on their own.

Lessons for Pakistan

Pakistan’s former foreign secretary and ambassador to Iran and the US, Najmuddin Shaikh, has published an important article about what Pakistan should expect in Afghanistan. His conclusions, drawn in the last paragraph of his article, take an admirably realistic and clear-headed look at the Afghan situation and propose interesting policy changes. His conclusions, reproduced below, are almost the exact opposite of what the Pakistani establishment has been pursuing — wrongly — in Afghanistan for the last few decades.

This necessarily selective recollection of Afghanistan’s political history has lessons to offer for determining what Pakistan can and should want in Afghanistan. First and perhaps most important, no Afghan leader is prepared to endorse or countenance the break-up of the country on ethnic lines but the days of Pashtun let alone Taliban domination cannot be resurrected. Second, a power-sharing arrangement will come only when the Afghans can sit together and be sure that there will be no external interference. Third, no Taliban or other Pashtun leader will easily give ground on the irredentist claims against Pakistan. The Taliban limit their ambitions to Afghanistan but their definition of Afghanistan includes large parts of Pakistan. Fourth a dominant Taliban presence on our borders will be an ideological threat. Today we may believe there is a distance between the TTP and the Afghan Taliban. We may be right in suggesting that the TTP largely comprises criminal elements and derives support from inimical external agencies. But let us not forget that most of them proudly proclaim their sworn loyalty to Mullah Omar and profess to want the imposition of the same Taliban ideology in Pakistan.

 

2012: Things to keep an eye on in Afghanistan

This incomprehensive list is a repository of my initial thoughts and will evolve over the next few days. As this year wraps up, I thought I’d make a note of some of the important news items to look out for in 2012. Two of the first items are part of a larger listicle (list article) on the UN Dispatch.

  • Security transition/international troop withdrawal

More than a dozen members of the 49-country international coalition in Afghanistan are preparing to bring many or all of their soldiers home next year. The foreign military footprint is expected to shrink by around 40,000 troops by the end of 2012. The United States will pull approximately 29,000 troops, reducing the number of American troops in Afghanistan from 97,000 to around 68,000. Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Poland, Denmark, New Zealand, Slovenia, Hungary, Finland and Italy will collectively withdraw thousands more.

Will the Afghan security forces be prepared to take over when they leave? The signs aren’t encouraging. Attrition, lack of discipline, disrespect for civilian lives and propertyinsurgent infiltration, ethnic and political fractures, corruption, and unsustainable recruitment continue to plague Afghanistan’s police and army.

Also worrisome is the fact that anti-Taliban militias nominally under government control will continue expanding in 2012 with the support of international forces. These groups have gained notoriety among ordinary Afghan civilians and civil society for their fluid loyalties, links to organized crime and involvement in human rights abuses.

The government in Kabul needs competent police and soldiers to survive the departure of foreign forces. If the international community, and especially the United States, fails to seriously address the Afghan security forces’ shortcomings in 2012, doing so in 2013 will be too late.

Una Moore

  • Food insecurity and hunger

Close to three million Afghans are facing starvation as a harsh winter descends upon the country. A drought affecting 14 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces has rendered many families that engage in subsistence farming incapable of feeding themselves. The affected provinces are mostly in the north and northeast, where the loss of 80% of the staple wheat crop has left many with little to eat – some families are already reportedly limiting their diets to one meal a day. Winters can last up to six months and supply routes become impassable much of that time due to the mountainous terrain and snowfall of up to 13 feet. The international community has so far only pledged about one-third of the $142 million requested by the U.N. That is likely to impede efforts to stockpile food in affected areas before they become inaccessible. Children and pregnant women face chronic malnutrition in some of the poverty-hit areas regardless of drought.

An estimated 80% of Afghanistan’s population is involved in farming and herding. Droughts are not uncommon in Afghanistan, but their effects on crops and livestock are especially severe because irrigation remains poorly developed and water preservation is largely nonexistent. In addition to these structural challenges, the mountainous terrain and the harsh winter, a limited road network makes it difficult to reach many remote villages.

Although this drought does not affect areas with the strongest insurgency presence, serious concern still remains for the millions of people who will be cold and hungry for six months.

  • Negotiations and reconciliation

President Karzai has agreed at last to accept an office for the Taliban in Qatar, provided Afghanistan plays a lead role in the negotiations. The US has been conducting secret preliminary talks with the Taliban as it looks for an “honorable” exit from Afghanistan. But there are a number of other variables that make negotiations a tough task, not the least of which is the Taliban’s strong public refusal, thus far, of any talks. Other variables are Pakistan, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia and even China, whose stakes in Afghanistan are growing in tandem with their investment in the natural resource extraction sector.  Domestic Afghan opposition to reconciliation and the question of justice — what to do with the Taliban leaders who have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity — are some of the other important dimensions to the reconciliation process. Then there is the all-important question of what to do if the reconciliation process fails, or if any potential peace deal resulting from this process falls apart, after the world has moved on from Afghanistan.

  • Afghan security forces and irregular militias

The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have been rapidly growing in numbers, although desertion, the quality of recruits and infiltration by the Taliban remain as serious challenges. But ANSF is taking over the security of more areas in Afghanistan. A parliamentary committee recently evaluated their performance in the “phase 1” of the transition as unsatisfactory. The transition is a good early indicator of the quality and development of the ANSF as a fighting force, although they are expected to remain dependent on ISAF for air support, medevacs, intelligence/communication, operational help — and operating budget. On the other hand, the Afghans and Americans are arming ALP and a slew of other militia groups that have little formal accountability. The Afghan-initiated disbandment of CIP is also an important factor to watch.

  • The political process

The international community is preparing to leave Afghanistan but the Afghan political elite are reaching out to each other — instead of their guns — as political battle lines are drawn and the stakes increase. The formation of three major political parties in the past three months is a strong indicator that the Afghan elite are not giving up — yet — on democracy and politicking as a means to carve out a future for themselves in Afghanistan. They still believe that by being part of the system, they can gain more than they are expected to give — which is relinquishing violence and factional and inter-ethnic war. It’d be interesting to see how long they can hold their collective breath before they reach out for their guns, now that the US is withdrawing, the Taliban are increasingly assertive and Karzai is preparing his moves for his political future.

To be continued…

VIDEOS: Karzai: We’ll stand by Pakistan against the US, India

In a bombshell interview on a private Pakistani TV channel, Karzai said his country would side with Pakistan if it fought a war with the US or India.

The two videos — in Urdu and English — are embedded below. Transcripts of each are also provided.

I’ll write more on this later, but for now, suffice it to say that he tries to blunt the sharp edge of his comments by mentioning the Pakistani people instead of the government. But no one’s splitting hair. Update: here’s the promised post on this subject.

First, the Urdu version and its transcript, as translated by yours truly.

Transcript:

Karzai: God forbid, if there is ever a war between Pakistan and America, then we will be with Pakistan.

Interviewer: So, you will be with Pakistan?

Karzai: Absolutely. We are your brothers.

Now, the English version (Karzai’s comments start at 0:17):

And its transcript, with my emphasis:

If Pakistan is attacked, and if the people of Pakistan need Afghanistan’s help, Afghanistan will be there with you. Afghanistan is a brother. Afghanistan would never forget — will never forget — the welcome, the hospitality, the respect and the brotherhood showed by the Pakistani people towards the Afghan people, who were five million refugees there [sic].

Anybody that attacks Pakistan, Afghanistan will stand with Pakistan, Afghanistan will be a brother of Pakistan. Afghanistan will never betray their brother. Afghanistan is not going to be dictated in any way, by any country – US or India. Afghanistan has its own policy, it’s own stand, it’s own clear view on things – and from that point of view, from that stand, is dealing with our brothers in Pakistan. We have more than 2,000 kilometers of border, we have ethnic links, we have – we have – cultural links, we have historic links. We have to live together in happiness and in prosperity….

The road to peace in Afghanistan passes through Islamabad and Delhi

Below is a piece I wrote for the Daily Post, an India-based paper. The gist of the article, simply put, is this: If India and Pakistan can work out their insecurities vis-a-vis Afghanistan, peace will have a realistic chance.

Here’s the full text:

An Afghan voter found himself one eye short after he cast his ballot in the 2009 presidential elections. The Taliban had gouged his eye because he had voted that morning despite warnings from the group prohibiting people from participating in the elections. The Taliban had done all they could to intimidate voters but had failed to deter this man and others like him around the country. There were other people – voters, candidates and their campaign workers – who had been threatened and even killed by the Taliban that August, but the elections went ahead. The number of candidates was the highest it had ever been, and turnout was comparable, if not higher, than the turnout in any U.S. midterm election since at least the 1960s.

Granted, several districts didn’t see polling due to insecurity, election results were tainted with allegations of widespread fraud, and the man who lost an eye saw the elected government turn down his request for compensation; but what remains clear, despite all of the setbacks, is that Afghans have a strong positive predisposition toward democracy. The current government suffers from a lack of credibility and, therefore, low popularity; but given the choice between the Taliban’s theocratic regime and an iteration of democracy, the choice for Afghans is clear.

But they want their democracy to be Afghan. That means what they consider unbridled personal freedom interfering with deeply entrenched societal mores and Islamic precepts is unacceptable. They don’t want a Taliban-style draconian government that stifles all personal freedoms; they want a democracy that respects and promotes the Afghan way of life.

The struggle against the Taliban, though, is hardly the biggest challenge of democracy in Afghanistan. We face an insurgency that cannot be quelled by 100,000 of the world’s best trained, best equipped troops. And with 70% illiteracy rate, we wouldn’t need an insurgency to drag us down. These, though, are still not Afghanistan’s biggest challenges to democracy. You see, left to their own devices, Afghans have been fairly successful in keeping their martial instincts in check.

The last Afghan king, Zahir Shah, reigned over 40 years of peace and quiet that are still considered to be 20th-century Afghanistan’s glory days. Zahir Shah successfully navigated the pressures of alignment stemming from World War II by declaring Afghanistan a neutral country. Prosperity, rights and development were relative unknowns, but people weren’t at each other’s throats like they would be later on.

The USSR’s involvement turned Afghanistan into a proxy battleground. The Soviets dragged with them to Afghanistan the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, each of which had their favorite proxy. That gave rise to the infamous three decades of war in Afghanistan that culminated in the rule of the last-standing militant group, the Taliban, which enjoyed Pakistan’s backing.

That same force – foreign influence – is still undermining our democratic development. Pakistan is looking for what they call strategic depth, a prospect that spooks India. And when India and Afghanistan sign a strategic agreement, Pakistan is scared witless. Afghanistan is once again becoming a playground for external rivals who want to see an outcome of their choice prevail in the country. India’s soft power approach – manifested through cultural outreach, development work, educational scholarships, etc – is better than Pakistan’s militant-proxy approach, but the net effect of India’s strategy hurts Afghanistan all the same because both rivals see Afghanistan as a zero-sum game.

Afghanistan cannot continue to be the battleground where India and Pakistan play out their insecurities. If Pakistan has a problem with the strategic realignments, it should solve it with India. The faltering negotiations between India and Pakistan, their history of wars, the mutual distrust and the rivalry are ultimately destabilizing Afghanistan. The road to a peaceful solution in Afghanistan passes through Islamabad, Delhi and Kashmir.

The sacrifices of the Afghan people will in the end be meaningless if external actors keep muddying the waters for us. Like the USSR’s involvement in Afghanistan, that of India and Pakistan can trigger events that can undermine democracy and drag us further down into misery.  But miseries in a country like ours – at once connected to China, the Central Asian Republics, South Asia and, through Iran, the Middle East – will not remain confined to our borders alone.

India is a rising economic power and Pakistan is struggling to stay afloat. China is a global player and the Central Asian Republics are fast rising in geostrategic importance. Another three decades of war and instability in Afghanistan will undoubtedly have negative consequences for the region and the globe. As the world has seen in the past, what happens in Afghanistan reverberates in New York, London and Madrid. It’s high time Afghanistan’s neighbors, including India, helped it become stable and democratic by removing its biggest hurdle – the curse of instability coming from the outside.

Karza ditches the Taliban, wants to talk to Pakistan – initial thoughts

In an incredible moment of lucidity, Karzai seems to have finally realized two things that much of the rest of the world — and his Afghan opposition — has been telling him for a pretty long time. In a meeting with a group of religious leaders, Karzai said the following:

Where is [Mullah Omar]? We cannot find the Taliban Council. Where is it? A messenger comes disguised as a Taliban Council member and kills, and they neither confirm nor reject it.

And this:

Who is the other side in the peace process? I do not have any other answer but to say Pakistan is the other side in the peace talks with us.

Karzai

Photo source: BBC Persian website.

His favorite expression for the Taliban had always been “angry brothers,” with whom he had insisted that Afghanistan should reconcile. He had held his ground in the face of stiffest criticism from his political opposition and the barrage of assassination of high-level government officials, senior security officials, his own brother and, most recently, his chief peace negotiator. That he has now turned against his “angry brothers” is a huge change from him.

This step from Karzai will radically alter the equation for everyone — Pakistan, the Taliban, the Afghan opposition, the United States, Iran, KSA, India and the Afghan people. But what does it exactly mean for the various actors involved in the picture? As of this writing, there hasn’t been any official reaction from any of these parties; that said, here’s a preliminary attempt at making sense of it all.

The “Northern Alliance”:

Karzai’s political opposition, which had doggedly opposed any talks with the Taliban, has scored a huge victory by having one of their longstanding demands recognized. But not only that, Karzai’s recognition of Pakistan as the real party to any settlement has affirmed their perennial suspicion toward Pakistan and its security institutions. So their victory is both political and moral.

Bolstered, they will likely amp up their opposition toward Pakistan, which they have always seen as interfering in Afghanistan’s internal matters and always backing anyone but them.

Taliban:

The Taliban have been behaving like the spoiled child that gets the candy but still maintains the nagging, unreasonable behavior. The UN Security Council removed about a dozen Taliban members from its blacklist, and Karzai had maintained an open embrace with a bag of goodies at the end of one arm in exchange for the Taliban dropping their weapons. This despite the carnage they wreaked in the country in the last few years. So the Taliban have been scoring international points and making domestic inroads by assassinating key leaders and expanding their presence across Afghanistan.

But by refusing to treat them as a legitimate party to negotiations, Karzai has ostensibly withdrawn the golden handshake. The terms of the previous offer are no longer valid — Taliban leaders won’t get (what amounts to) amnesty in exchange for peace and they likely won’t get to participate in the political process. (Those were huge concessions that Karzai had made even before getting to the negotiating table!)

The Taliban will now have to do their bidding through Pakistan, with whom they have always had a love-hate relationship — they have continued to receive needed help and support, but have always resented Pakistan.

The Afghan people:

The biggest losers of the whole reintegration/peace/reconciliation/negotiation saga, the Afghan people, will be watching President Karzai intently for his next moves. The previous peace process was not inclusive – Karzai had convened a rubber-stamp loya jirga to give himself the green light on negotiations. Three-day jirgas are hardly any substitute to serious, inclusive national debates about such issues of immense importance. In true democracies, hand-picked jirgas can’t make effective foreign policy or decide matters relating to serious national crimes and injustices.

Karzai had not consulted the broader Afghan public about reconciliation and, perhaps purposefully, not set out any clear and definite parameters for reconciliation, expected outcomes and the extent of concessions.

Pakistan et. al.:

Karzai handed Pakistan a victory by accepting unconditionally and decisively their longstanding demand that they be recognized as the principal party to any future settlement in Afghanistan. It is unclear who Karzai will get to negotiate with in Pakistan — the ISI-military side or the civilian government. And it is unclear how sincerely, if at all, Pakistan will engage in any talks. However, although the Afghan recognition of their role is important, the Pakistanis really covet the same acceptance from the United States.

And they will view Karzai’s concession as an important step to that end. Regardless, Pakistanis area already feeling better in their strategic calculus vis-a-vis India, which will be watching everything warily.

Iran, which had just started to cultivate ties with the Taliban, will also need to reassess its policy. They have historically been close to the Hazara/Shia and the Tajik camps and will likely continue to press their side. KSA — whose diplomats left Kabul last week and whose proxy now has the rug snatched from under its feet — has lost much of its status as the arbiter that could bring the Taliban to the table and broker a deal.

Moving ahead…

Naturally, talks with Pakistan are radically different from negotiations with the Taliban. If Pakistan chooses to oblige and negotiate a settlement, they will have obligations under international law. Whether Pakistan will choose to honor any final settlement and what the world can do to enforce those obligations in case of noncompliance is a different matter.

Because of the different nature of this ‘peace process,’ the Afghans will need to do new soul-searching. A broad national consultation will need to take place to determine what the nation is ready to give in exchange for peace, and what they hope to realistically gain from negotiations. Perhaps a little less urgently, the Afghans will need to decide whether they will continue to fight the insurgency indefinitely and how to handle justice issues related to Taliban’s crimes during and before the insurgency.

And Karzai’s success won’t just be determined by the domestic support of his policies. He will also need to have serious international backing. But that’s not guaranteed, given that he just left the United States high and dry by abandoning the trilateral peace process.

What an open letter from a terrorist group looks like

The banned Pakistani terror outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) has reportedly published an open letter addressed to the Hazara community in Quetta, Pakistan. The letter, reproduced and translated from Urdu below, is an example of the hate literature from sectarian groups that has been published from time to time in Quetta and other Pakistani cities. Coming in the wake of a string of attacks targeting Hazara political leaders, businessmen and ordinary people, this letter has caused significant alarm and concern among the people who see it as an ominous sign of things to come.

The letter makes reference to the May 6 attack on the Hazaras, the first terrorist attack in Pakistan thought to be avenging the killing of Osama bin Laden. In the early-morning incident, unidentified gunmen opened fire and launched at least three rockets at people visiting the graveyard and at people exercising nearby.

An off-shoot of the banned sectarian terrorist network Sipah-e-Sahaba, LeJ is primarily based in the Punjab province of Pakistan but has also been operating in Quetta for the last few years. Although it has been involved in the killings of dozens of civilians in Quetta, few arrests have been made and no convictions have resulted.

Text of the letter:

All Shias are wajib-ul-qatl (worthy of killing). We will rid Pakistan of [this] unclean people. Pakistan means land of the pure, and the Shias have no right to be here. We have the fatwa and signatures of the revered ulema in which the Shias have been declared kaafir [infidel]*. Just as our fighters have waged a successful jihad against the Shia-Hazaras in Afghanistan, our mission [in Pakistan] is the abolition of this impure sect and people, the Shias and the Shia-Hazaras, from every city, every village, every nook and corner of Pakistan. Like in the past, [our] successful Jihad against the Hazaras in Pakistan and, in particular, in Quetta is ongoing and will continue [in the future]. We will make Pakistan their graveyard — their houses will be destroyed by bombs and suicide bombers. We will only rest when we fly the flag of true Islam on this land. Our fighters and suicide bombers have [already] successfully operated in Parachinar**, and are awaiting orders to operate across Pakistan. Jihad against the Shia-Hazaras has now become our duty. Our suicide bombers have successfully operated in Hazara Town on May 6, and now our next target is your houses in Alamdar Road***. As long as our innocent friends aren’t freed [from incarceration], we will continue our operations.

The Principal,

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Pakistan

An open letter form the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorist outfit to the Hazara community in Quetta, Pakistan.

An open letter form the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorist outfit to the Hazara community in Quetta, Pakistan.

* This is a reference to previous hate literature from similar religious outfits. The document at the end of this post is from the Sipah-e-Sahaba, and was found in a madrasa in Quetta. It is a summary collection of fatwas allegedly issued by various scholars declaring the Shias to be infidels.

** Parachinar has seen bloody sectarian wars between its Shia and Sunni populations. LeJ is claiming to have been part of it.

*** Hazara Town and Alamdar Road are the two Hazara enclaves in Quetta. LeJ is threatening attacks on Alamdar Road after the May 6 attack on Hazara Town.

This Urdu document, from Sipah-e-Sahaba, is a summary collection of fatwas allegedly issued by various scholars declaring the Shias to be infidels

This Urdu document, from the Sipah-e-Sahaba terrorist group, is a summary collection of fatwas allegedly issued by various scholars declaring the Shias to be infidels

Fake Pictures of Osama’s Death and Conspiracy Theories

A warning before you proceed: This post contains graphic/gruesome images.

And now, to the point: Soon after President Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 1, gruesome pictures like this screen grab from a Pakistani news channel began surfacing that allegedly show Osama bin Laden dead.

Shortly thereafter, other images began appearing around the internet, primarily on Facebook, claiming that the pictures have been doctored. Many of the alleged bin Laden images contain commentary skeptical of his death. (Scroll down to see the images)

This despite the fact that the US government has not released any pictures or videos of bin Laden after the raid on his compound in Pakistan. (The only authoritative documentation from bin Laden’s death site is this video obtained by ABC News.)

The nature of these images show just how easy it is for someone to doctor images, attach conspiracy theories to them and have them go viral on the internet by piggybacking on a big news event. But it also shows that after 10 years of high-profile chase, people need some form of documentary evidence to “prove” that the world’s most notorious terror kingpin is really dead.

Update: The White House has decided not to release any pictures of bin Laden.

And then there’s this convenient explanation of how the image above was montaged: