Marriott bombing group threatens fresh attacks on US targets

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has said he will not allow any foreign power to violate the country’s soverignity “in the name of combatting terrorism.” In his opening address to the joint houses of parliament in Islamabad on Saturday, he said that Pakistan should also understand the limits of confrontation.

This was his first speech to MPs since he replaced Pervez Musharraf in August. It was also the first by a president in almost six years.

Ahead of his first meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York, Zardari also said that ties with India need to be “creatively re-invented.”

Zardari said that he would like to move ahead with India based on three pointers which were, as espoused by former PM Benazir Bhutto, to come up with new ideas, to make bold committments and to be honest in the relationship.

Zardari called for a parliamentary committee to investigate abolishing his powers to dissolve the assembly and dismiss the government.

“In the history of Pakistan this is the first president who is giving away his powers, he commented.”

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Crossroads in History: The Struggle against Jihad and Supremacist Ideologies

In fighting Islamic supremacism, instead of an approach only based on tactical measures and efforts at clever twists of terminology, what if America had a true strategy that was instead based on the defense of our values on human equality and liberty?

The true challenge of Islamic supremacism to America and the free world is not about Islam, Islamism, or terrorism, but about us. It is a historic challenge to determine whether we truly have the courage of our convictions on equality and liberty and we are willing to fight for these ideals, or if we will instead accept the continuing growth of anti-freedom ideologies here and around the world.

Islamic supremacists are counting on their belief that America is no longer willing to fight for such freedoms, that it has gotten too soft to do so, and that regardless of the success or failure of individual Jihadist tactics, eventually we will tolerate a continued growth of Islamic supremacism. The crossroads in history that we stand at remains whether or not we will prove Islamic supremacists correct, or if the idea defined in our very Declaration of Independence and chiseled in a marble memorial in America’s capital – that “all men are created equal” – is an idea that America will once again sacrifice to defend.

America and the West are at a critical crossroads in history in their faltering struggle with Islamic supremacist ideologies and Jihadist terror tactics. Increasingly, groups seek to halt any meaningful debate and halt any challenge to the ideology behind Jihad, and they seek to redirect such debate and action to focus only on the terrorist symptoms of such a supremacist ideology. Such diversionary efforts are being made by non-violent Islamic supremacist groups and activists, government officials, academics, and media commentators. The solution to this can be found in recognizing how Islamic supremacism (as any supremacist ideology) is opposed to our values, and in understanding America’s historical experience in defeating other supremacist ideologies.

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Taliban abducts 140 soldiers (Pakistan)

As the Pakistan security forces continue their operation in the North-Western Frontier Province, more than 140 troops have been kidnapped by the local Taliban, sources said.

According to the sources, around 16 security personnel were kidnapped from Bara, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas by Haji Mangal Bagh, chief of the Lashkar-e-Islam militant group and more than 124 personnel were kidnapped by Baitullah Mehsud’s men on Tuesday night.

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15 child brides used to settle Pakistan feud

It started with a dead dog, escalated into a tit-for-tat tribal war, and has now reached a grotesque climax with the exchange of 15 child brides.

Pakistani human rights activists are outraged at reports that a long-running blood feud in a remote corner of western Baluchistan province has been resolved by the handing over of 15 girls, aged between three and 10, for marriage.

“There has to be action,” said Asma Jahangir, a leading rights campaigner. “These people who force others to sell their daughters must be sent to prison.”

The new government in Islamabad, led by the party of the late Benazir Bhutto, has promised to act. “We will not allow young girls to be traded like this,” said the information minister, Sherry Rehman. “The culprits who tried to do this will be arrested. The orders have been given.”

But Jahangir said those orders had not been acted upon. “There is a dysfunction in the whole system. They are not listening to the government,” she said. “We need to see them being more effective than just rhetoric.”

Vanni, an ancient tribal practice in which feuding clans settle their differences by exchanging women for marriage, is illegal in Pakistan. In 2004 the Sindh high court outlawed all such “parallel justice” systems. But the writ of government is weak in rural areas, and local police often turn a blind eye.

The current controversy started with a row over a dog, said Muhammad Paryal Marri, a researcher in northern Sindh for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

A dog owned by one tribe, the Chakranis, was shot dead because it strayed too close to a well controlled by their rivals, the Qalandaris. In revenge the Chakranis shot a donkey belonging to the other side. A ferocious bout of tit-for-tat killings ensued in which 19 people, including five women, were killed.

The fighting ended in 2002 when Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti – a rebellious tribal chieftain who was later killed by the Pakistan army – brought the two sides together. Bugti ordered the Chakranis to hand over 15 child brides in compensation; at a jirga, or tribal council. Last Friday they finally agreed to make good on that promise, said Marri.

“They agreed to pay some money and exchange the ladies,” he said.

Such brutal traditions have only come to light for a broader public in the past decade, thanks to activism by human rights groups and publicity from local media.

“Barbarity in the name of tradition,” declared the English-langauge newspaper Dawn earlier this week in a scathing editorial against the “medieval mindset that dominates many sections of our society”.

But, despite previous shows of similar anger, official action has lagged far behind. “The government is unwilling to use its authority to protect women. It will find any excuse,” said Jahangir.

Muhammad: Setting the ultimate pedophile example to be followed today.

An Abhorrent practice.