A Poem for Pakistan

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Sow Flowers

Sow flowers so your surroundings become a garden
Don’t sow thorns; for they will prick your feet

If you shoot arrows at others,
Know that the same arrow will come back to hit you.

Don’t dig a well in another’s path,
In case you come to the well’s edge

You look at everyone with hungry eyes
But you will be first to become mere dirt.

Humans are all one body,
Whoever tortures another, wounds himself.

— Rahman Baba (translated from Pashtun to English)

Photo by Tariq Deenah  (Warning: if you view his beautiful photo sets you will be confronted by a strong wish to visit Pakistan.)

Democrats Block Permanent Ban on Internet Taxation

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Landrieu:

All ur intarweb r belong to us!

Senator Landrieu, D-LA blocked passage of a permanent ban on internet taxation again, story below from PR Newswire:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — With the November 1st expiration date of the Internet Tax Freedom Act quickly approaching, the Senate was poised to vote on a permanent extension of the ban on Internet taxation Thursday night. However, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) voiced objection to S. 2128, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, effectively halting the vote. The Senate consideration of S. 2128 follows the Tuesday passage in the House of a temporary extension of the current moratorium. 
While the senator stated that her objection was on behalf of Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), she helped to thwart a similar bill in 2003.  

“Yesterday Senator Landrieu took a stand against taxpayers, innovation and economic growth by blocking a vote on the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act,” said taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “With broad support for permanently banning Internet taxes, Landrieu’s efforts to stand in the way of S. 2128 are surprising — especially after her constituents relied heavily on Internet communication following Hurricane Katrina.” 
The House extension, which passed with a vote of 405 to 2, does not make the current moratorium permanent, despite broad support for a permanent ban on taxing Internet access. Rep. Anne Eshoo’s (D-CA) permanent bill, which has 238 cosponsors, was not considered on the floor, nor were amendments allowed under the rules for the vote. In addition to the temporary extension of the tax prohibition, HR 3678 also extends the grandfather provisions for the handful of states that had taxed the Internet prior to 1998 and exempts states that collect gross receipts taxes. 
“The House’s temporary extension is a good step toward a permanent ban,” continued Norquist. “As the Senate moves forward, I urge senators to support at least the temporary extension, as well as the permanent ban on Internet access taxes.”

This isn’t Landrieu’s only expression of love for phat taxes, as seen here.

Four AQ Affiliate Terror Groups Responsible per Bhutto

At her first news conference since the terror attack last evening in Karachi Benazir Bhutto says that four Al Qaeda affiliate groups were involved. From USA Today:

Benazir Bhutto says she won’t “surrender our great nation” to the militants who tried to kill her during yesterday’s homecoming parade in Karachi, Pakistan.

“There was one suicide squad from the Taliban elements, one suicide squad from al-Qaida, one suicide squad from Pakistani Taliban and a fourth — a group — I believe from Karachi,” she said today, according to the Associated Press.

The official death toll now stands at 136.

Bhutto tells reporters that security guards stopped one man carrying a pistol and another wearing a bomb vest.

Manzoor Mughal, a police official, tells Reuters that the first explosion was caused by a hand grenade. It was followed by a sucide bomber. “Mughal said the head of the suspected bomber had been found, and it was estimated he had 15 to 20 kg of explosives strapped to his body. Typically, the upward force from a blast blows off the head an attacker,”

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Note: There are several criminal gangs in Karachi; it’s likely the Karachi group was hired as a contingency.

Lawhawk has more on this, and Bill Roggio goes into great detail on the varying accounts and the sophistication of the attack. This was not an amateur attempt by any means, and AQ will attempt to put the face of a local group on this (HiJ, JeM, TNSM, etc.) because that’s how they work to recruit through local and regional causes. My wager is that the MSM buys it, but just a month ago those groups swore allegiance to AQ in press releases.

The good news is that they all missed. The bad news is that they murdered 136 Muslims, and maimed 250 more.

Terror Will not Derail Elections in Pakistan

Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azeem came out with a clear statement that terror will not stop the general elections in Pakistan from proceeding. This is also a clear sign that President Musharraf will not use the attack on the Bhutto motorcade as a pretext for emergency rule — something his political opponents immediately said he would do almost before the rubble settled.

Musharraf’s opponents still want to paint this into some dark plot, but the power-mad terrorists in the hinterlands are the ones with the dark plot for power. To displace that evil to government because of political disagreements takes a sick mind. Article at Bloomberg:

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) — Pakistan’s government vowed that parliamentary elections won’t be disrupted after a suicide bomb attack on former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s convoy killed at least 136 people.

“The elections will go ahead as planned and we will ensure the road to democracy isn’t disrupted,” Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azeem said in a telephone interview from the capital, Islamabad, today. “If terrorists think they can derail the election process, they are wrong,” he added.

Most speculators, including myself, have the attacking group as Baitullah Mehsud’s Taliban. While Ayman Al Zawahiri could be behind it, they are pretty busy in North Waziristan and I would bet their resources are directed elsewhere. Baitullah seems more bent on personal power within his tribal region in Pakistan now than aligned with Al Qaeda’s cause, although both have threatened Bhutto.

In South Waziristan Baitullah still holds between 200-300 soldiers hostage as well.

UPDATE: AQ/Baitullah Links cited by Pakistan Security forces:

A top provincial security official said on Friday that the suicide attack on Benazir Bhutto bore the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda-linked, pro-Taliban warlord based near the Afghan border.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf labelled the attack part of a “conspiracy against democracy,” reaching out to the former prime minister with whom he is trying to forge a pro-US, anti-militant alliance.

The “signature at the blast site and the modus operandi” suggested the involvement of militants linked to warlord Baitullah Mehsud and al-Qaeda, said Ghulam Muhammad Mohtarem, the head security official in the province where Mehsud is based.

What will the effects of the twin blasts be? Certainly Benazir will have to look to security first, and this will deter turnout for her gatherings. She will have to switch to mostly-media campaign just to protect her followers, which is normally not how things are done in Pakistan.

Later today she will hold a news conference, and we will see at that time where she stands. Will she visit the victims families, and attend funerals? Will she make strong statements on the terrorists?

While most in Pakistan loathe the deal that brought her back, some path back to free, normal government that will not tear the country apart again must be found. The previous period like this was when Bangladesh split away, and I suspect that is exactly the sort of rift the terror elements want to create.

To go back to the terror attack in Paksistan a moment – the death toll has now sadly risen to 136, and many are still in critical status in hospitals. Evidence is emerging that the first blast was a planted explosive[editor: updates have it that the first was a hand-grenade], and that the second was a suicide bomber who dashed in once the primary stopped the caravan.[ed: new updates state police also captured a man with a pistol] This is classic Al Qaeda technique, so I am not taking them off the list of suspects even though Baitullah has the lead.

Pakistan is an Islamic country, and to deny the will of the voters in an Islamic country free elections can’t be jihad, instead it is hiraba, unholy. That goes for terrorists or politicians.

Why did Al Qaeda declare war on Pakistan? It goes back to moves last October, that shifted segments of Old-Guard & purged ISI against the government. They don’t like the direction towards peace with India and a settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dilemma.

The assassination attempts against Musharraf and the alignment of the terror groups with Al Qaeda against the government started last October when Musharraf rolled up the forty-year old training camps for Jihadis the government previously supported. Lal Masjid quickly followed, and the tapes from Zawahiri and Bin Laden, along with the alignment of those groups with AQ followed that.

Here’s an educational post on the subject.