Book Review: ‘The Wrong Enemy’ by Carlotta Gall

Pakistan’s intelligence agency hid and protected Osama bin Laden. The chief of the army even knew of the cover up. Some ally.

By Sadanand Dhume

In the 13 years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, $1 trillion has been spent, and 3,400 foreign soldiers (more than 2,300 of them American) have died. Despite our tremendous loss of blood and treasure, Afghanistan remains—even as we prepare to exit the country—”a weak state, prey to the ambitions of its neighbors and extremist Islamists,” as Carlotta Gall notes in “The Wrong Enemy.”

Could we have avoided this outcome? Perhaps so, Ms. Gall argues, if Washington had set its sights slightly southward.

The neighbor that concerns Ms. Gall—the “right” enemy implied by the book’s title—is Pakistan. If you were to boil down her argument into a single sentence, it would be this one: “Pakistan, supposedly an ally, has proved to be perfidious, driving the violence in Afghanistan for its own cynical, hegemonic reasons.” Though formally designated as a major non-NATO U.S. ally, and despite receiving more than $23 billion in American assistance since 9/11, Pakistan only pretended to cut links with the Taliban that it had nurtured in the 1990s. In reality, Pakistan’s ubiquitous spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), foments jihad against NATO in Afghanistan much as it did against the Soviets in the 1980s.

At this point, accusations of Pakistani perfidy won’t raise the eyebrows of anyone with even a passing familiarity with the region. For years, a chorus of diplomats, analysts and journalists have concluded that the Taliban and its partners in jihad would be incapable of maintaining an insurgency without active support from across the border. In 2011, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, called the Haqqani network—the group responsible for some of the worst violence in Afghanistan, including an attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul that year—”a veritable arm” of the ISI.

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Pentagon plans to downsize US military

Pentagon’s Chuck Hagel plans to downsize US military

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the US Army to its smallest size since before the US entered World War Two.

Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to 440,000-450,000 personnel, down from 520,000 currently.

Cold War-era Air Force fleets – the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack jet – will also be retired.

The US defence budget remains higher than during most of the Cold War.

‘Difficult decisions ahead’

On Monday, Mr Hagel noted the US military had come under pressure to downsize after two costly foreign wars. “This is a time for reality,” he said

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-26326969

Obama meets Dalai Lama, defies China

by AFP

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama welcomed Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to the White House Friday, defying China, which said the meeting would “seriously impair” ties between the two countries.

The encounter took place in the Map Room on the ground floor of the president’s residence and not the Oval Office, which Obama usually uses to meet foreign leaders and visiting dignitaries.

“The president is currently meeting w/His Holiness the @DalaiLama in his capacity as an internationally respected religious & cultural leader,” the US National Security Council said on Twitter.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1088564/obama-meets-dalai-lama-defies-china

Times Square bomb plot: Pakistani Army major arrested

A Pakistani Army major, who was until recently a serving officer, has been arrested in connection with the failed Times Square bomb plot.

By Rob Crilly, in Islamabad

Pakistani and US sources say there is evidence that mobile phone calls were exchanged between Major Adnan Ejaz and the suspected would-be bomber, Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested on May 3 as he attempted to fly out of New York.

A Pakistani law enforcement sources said that the major had mobile phone contact with Shahzad on the day of the attempted bombing, including one conversation at the same time the bomber was allegedly parking his car loaded with propane tanks and explosives.

He had also met the naturalised American in Islamabad, he claimed.

Shahzad, the son of a retired Pakistani Air Force officer, has told interrogators he received training from the Pakistan Taliban in its rugged mountain stronghold of Waziristan.

Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have a long history of working with Jihadi organisations as an instrument of foreign policy.

Read more » The Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/7772507/Times-Square-bomb-plot-Pakistani-Army-major-arrested.html

Al Qaeda’s Next Comeback Could Be Afghanistan And Pakistan

It is an argument for working with Kabul to keep a robust U.S. counter-terrorist capability in Afghanistan after 2014 to deal with threats both on Afghan territory and from safe havens like Abbottabad across the border for the foreseeable future. Over the longer term America will need a more realistic and tough policy toward Pakistan. We should continue to engage the government and the army seriously but with much reduced expectations. We should help those Pakistanis who are ready to fight extremism but not expect miracles. As former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Hussain Haqqani has written, it is time to put aside our “magnificent delusions” about Pakistani-American partnership for good. We will need to protect our own interests there with or without their help. Only that will prevent another al-Qaeda renaissance in the most dangerous country in the world, Pakistan.

By: Bruce Riedel

Al-Qaeda has staged a remarkable comeback in Iraq in the last year. Former National Security Advisor Jim Jones has called it “al-Qaeda’s renaissance.” This year, most if not all American forces and those of our allies in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will finally come home from Afghanistan. Will al-Qaeda have another renaissance in South Asia?

There was no al-Qaeda in Iraq before 9/11—the terror organization moved into Iraq only when Osama bin Laden saw George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were getting ready to invade Iraq in 2003. He set a trap. By 2006 Al-Qaeda in Iraq had plunged the country into civil war, pitting Shia against Sunni. Only the brave efforts of American Marines and GIs prevented the complete collapse of the state. Now al-Qaeda has come back in Iraq, raising its black flag over territory once fought over so hard by Americans.

Can the same tragedy be repeated in Afghanistan and Pakistan? The longest war in American history will largely end for Americans this year. It will not end for Afghans or Pakistanis. Pakistan will continue to be the principal supporter and patron of the Afghan Taliban, the enemy that we have been fighting for so long. Pakistan provides the Taliban with safe haven and sanctuary to train and recruit its fighters and protects its leaders, including Mullah Omar. The Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, helps train and fund the Taliban.

For the last few years America has also fought a second war from Afghanistan, the counter-terrorist war inside Pakistan. Al-Qaeda found a new base in Pakistan after we toppled Mullah Omar’s Afghan emirate in 2001. The highlight of this second covert war was the SEAL raid to kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. More frequent have been drone missions to disrupt al-Qaeda operations in Pakistan: By one count, 340 lethal missions since President Obama took office, and more than two dozen just last year.

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China has tested an ICBM hypersonic warhead.

Will China’s new supersonic warhead bust US missile shield?

China has tested an ICBM hypersonic warhead. It follows from the test results that China may deploy its ICBMs with these kinds of warheads in the foreseeable future, says an expert with the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, Vassily Kashin.

The testing of the ICBM hypersonic warhead is the first practical achievement of a large-scale programme to create hypersonic weapons, a programme that China is translating into life. China has been engaged in developing hypersonic cruise vehicles for several years. In July 2012, the Chinese media reported the commissioning in China of a unique high-speed wind tunnel capable of testing model aircraft at speeds of up to Mach 9. Now China has reported the flight test of a hypersonic cruise vehicle. The basic questions that arise in this context are how the new technology will influence the Chinese nuclear strategy and what other hypersonic weapon projects China is carrying out.

Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_01_15/Will-Chinas-new-supersonic-warhead-bust-US-missile-shield-1589/

Turning ally India into an adversary

Barack Obama’s reverse Midas touch

By , Toronto Sun

Excerpt;

… “Not all diplomats are created equal. U.S. diplomats can get away with murder as was the case when one of them shot dead a Pakistani man in broad daylight. Another U.S. diplomat in Kenya killed a Kenyan in a car accident, but was smuggled out of the country before the police could talk to him. U.S. diplomats, who kill, smuggle or make racist remarks, face no trials. But an Indian diplomat can be stripped and handcuffed on questionable charges of underpaying her housemaid.” …

Read more » Toronto Sun
http://www.torontosun.com/2014/01/14/barack-obamas-reverse-midas-touch

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Gates says he never thought of Pakistan as an ally

by Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: The United States never thought of consulting Pakistan before raiding the Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad because it feared that the ISI was protecting him, writes former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1079709/gates-says-he-never-thought-of-pakistan-as-an-ally

Best of Frenemies: Pakistan’s Husain Haqqani has tough words for his home country -and for its supposed ally, the United States

Hussain Haqqani

Hussain Haqqani

By Adnan Siddiqi

Pakistan and the United States aren’t allies – they “just pretend to be allies.” Or so says Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S. He’s making waves with his latest book, Magnificent Delusions, which speaks hard truths about the difficult relationship between the two countries. In 2011, Haqqani was forced to resign as Islamabad’s envoy to Washington following a controversy in which he was accused of delivering, through an intermediary, a note to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asking for U.S. help to ward off a supposed coup in Pakistan after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden. (He has denied the episode and also said there was no attempted coup.) He was investigated by the Supreme Court at home for treason, and he eventually left the country, saying his life was at risk. Haqqani returned to the United States and now teaches international relations at Boston University. Newsweek Pakistan spoke with him by email about his book and the delusions that continue to impair Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S.

NW: You have been a consistent advocate of resetting Pakistan-America relations on the basis of pragmatism. What exactly does this entail?

HH: For 66 years, Pakistan has sought close ties with the U.S. with the sole purpose of offsetting India’s size and military advantage. This has been a security relationship. But no nation can become a regional power while also being dependent on assistance from other countries. A better option for Pakistan would be to normalize relations with India and Afghanistan and then have a broader, nonsecurity relationship with the United States. Pakistanis resent the U.S. partly because we have been dependent on it. The United States had not been constant in its relations with Pakistan, but it was also wrong on Pakistan’s part to expect constancy. I have studied several models of partnership with the United States and wondered why most other U.S. allies since World War II have prospered while Pakistan has not. The answer came down to our unwillingness to have an honest relationship. South Korea and Taiwan aligned their security policies and perceptions with the Americans. Pakistan refused to accept U.S. advice, especially when its regional view was questioned. My vision, encouraged by [former prime minister] Benazir Bhutto, was for a strategic rather than tactical relationship. It would not be based on asking for military aid in return for providing some services to the Americans in their concerns. We need to build a self-confident Pakistan, free of the burdens of past blunders, especially jihadist misadventures. American assistance should be directed toward standing on our own feet. We need a relationship involving education, tourism, investment, and trade – like other countries have – not one that is all about seeking military equipment and aid in private and abusing America in public.

Read more » NewsWeek
http://mag.newsweek.com/2014/01/03/best-frenemies.html

Mixed Legacy for Departing Pakistani Army Chief

By

LONDON — When he leaves his post on Friday, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the inscrutable Pakistani Army chief and former spymaster, will end a nearly decade-long chapter as the focus of American fears and frustrations in Pakistan, the reluctant partner in a contentious and often ill-tempered strategic dance.

Suspicious American officials frequently accused him, and the 600,000-member army he led, of double-dealing and bad faith: supporting the Afghan Taliban, allying with militant groups who bombed embassies and bases, and sheltering Osama bin Laden.

Those accusations were made in private, usually, but exploded into the open in late 2011 when Adm. Mike Mullen, the American military chief who sought to befriend General Kayani over golf and dinners, issued an angry tirade to Congress about Pakistani duplicity.

The taciturn General Kayani weathered those accusations with a sang-froid that left both allies and enemies guessing about what, or whom, he knew. But few doubted that he nursed grievances, too — about C.I.A. covert operations, the humiliating raid that killed Bin Laden, and perceived American arrogance and inconstancy.

General Kayani, 61, steps down with those arguments still lingering. And reckoning with his legacy exposes a cold truth at the heart of the turbulent American-Pakistani relationship: that after years of diplomatic effort, and billions of dollars in aid, the countries’ aims and methods remain fundamentally opposed — particularly when it comes to the endgame next door in Afghanistan.

“We have almost no strategic convergences with Pakistan, at any level,” admitted a senior American defense official. “You’ll never change that, and it’s naïve to think we can do it with an appeal to the war on terror.”

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Wailing for the terrorists — Dr Mohammad Taqi

TaqiThe most brutal terrorist is being presented like an apostle of peace who was about to lead his country to the Promised Land

It is rare that a country’s top leaders are seen virtually bawling over the death of its enemy number one. But Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and the chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Mr Imran Khan did pull that off. The two leaders have led the national wailing over the killing of Hakeemullah Mehsud and his cohorts in a drone attack on his house in Dande Darpa Khel village, North Waziristan Agency (NWA). The two Khans made it sound like a helpful boy scout and not the ringleader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had been assassinated. The most brutal terrorist is being presented like an apostle of peace who was about to lead his country to the Promised Land. And, of course, the big bad US is the vicious villain according to the Interior Minister and his former college mate Mr Imran Khan.

The lamentation for Hakeemullah Mehsud and the vitriol against the US is literally a replay of how Pakistan and its leaders had reacted to Osama bin Laden’s 2011 killing. After bin Laden’s death there was a lucid interval of a few days where the then president Mr Asif Zardari and his close aides sought to take the opportunity to make a clean break with Pakistan’s dubious past association with jihadist terrorism. But they could not withstand the drummed up anti-US sentiment and caved in. The leaked bin Laden Commission Report, which has still not been released by Pakistan, essentially identifies the US, not bin Laden or the terrorist outfit(s) he sired, as Pakistan’s enemy number one. The report said that the US had “acted like a criminal thug”, and it termed the US raid on bin Laden’s lair “an act of war”. Similar rhetoric was codified in the September 9, 2013 All Parties Conference’s declaration that condemned the US actions as “illegal and immoral” and responsible for the terrorist ‘blowback’. The same document, which elevated the murderous thugs like Hakeemullah Mehsud to ‘stakeholder’ level and threatened to take the drone attacks issue to the UN, now serves as the guideline for negotiating peace with the TTP.

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The $120,000 farmhouse where the TTP chief was killed

By: AFP

MIRANSHAH: With marble floors, lush green lawns and a towering minaret, the $120,000 farm where feared Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died in a US drone strike was no grubby mountain cave.

Mehsud spent his days skipping around Pakistan’s rugged tribal areas to avoid the attentions of US drones.

But his family, including two wives, had the use of an eight-roomed farmhouse set amid lawns and orchards growing apples, oranges, grapes and pomegranates.

As well as the single-storey house, the compound in Dandey Darpakhel village, five kilometres north of Miramshah, was adorned with a tall minaret, purely for decorative purposes.

Militant sources said the property in the North Waziristan tribal area was bought for Mehsud nearly a year ago for $120,000, a huge sum by Pakistani standards, by close aide Latif Mehsud, who was captured by the US in Afghanistan last month.

An AFP journalist visited the property several times when the previous owner, a wealthy landlord, lived there.

With the Pakistan army headquarters for restive North Waziristan just a kilometre away, locals thought of Mehsud’s compound as the “safest” place in a dangerous area.

Its proximity to a major military base recalls the hideout of Osama bin Laden in the town of Abbottabad, on the doorstep of Pakistan’s elite military academy.

“I saw a convoy of vehicles two or three times in this street but I never thought Hakimullah would have been living here. It was the safest place for us before this strike,” local shopkeeper Akhter Khan told AFP.

This illusion of safety was shattered on Friday when a US drone fired at least two missiles at Mehsud’s vehicle as it stood at the compound gate waiting to enter, killing the Pakistani Taliban chief and four cadres.

The area around Dandey Darpakhel is known as a hub for the Haqqani network, a militant faction blamed for some of the most high-profile attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.

Read more » DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1054033

‘Magnificent Delusions’ of US-Pakistan relations

By Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Even as an ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani was one of the most eloquent critics of Pakistan’s military, the country’s most powerful institution.

Haqqani, once derided at home as Washington’s ambassador to Pakistan for his pro-Western views, has taken a step further, accusing the government of directly supporting militant groups in his latest book “Magnificent Delusions”.

Now a professor of international relations at Boston University, he was ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011, a turbulent time in US-Pakistan relations that culminated in a raid by US special forces in May 2011 that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Haqqani resigned in November 2011 and left Pakistan after becoming involved in a scandal surrounding a secret memo that accused the army of plotting a coup and sought help from the United States to rein in the military.

Haqqani, who has denied any connection to the memo, spoke to Reuters by telephone from the United States about his book and his views on US-Pakistan relations.

Q: Why do you believe Pakistan supports militant groups?

A: As far as terrorism is concerned, Pakistan was the conduit of weapons and training for the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets. After that, Pakistan switched it to India, especially in Kashmir. And that is the point at which the United States said “You are engaging in terrorism”. The Pakistani response was “But we started it together”.

The problem is that the “pro-jihadi” narrative has become so mainstream that it is very difficult for any government to … put all fighters out of business. But Pakistan would not find peace without putting all of them out of business.

Q: Why is this happening now?

A: The whole idea of building a nation around religious nationalism has backfired. What has happened is that religious nationalism has only produced extremism. If Pakistan were to be an Islamic state, the question arises “What kind of Islamic state?” We are now in a virtual civil war between various sects and militias attached to these sects who don’t tolerate each other.

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Pakistan’s Prime Minister Tells Foreign Affairs Committee He Would Welcome Voice of America in Sindhi

ShermanWashington, D.C. – At a meeting between the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) raised the prospect of a Voice of America broadcast into Pakistan in the Sindhi language.

In response to Sherman’s question, Prime Minister Sharif said, “I would welcome it.” The Prime Minister went on to list efforts of his own government to communicate in the Sindhi language.

Sherman, a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, is the chair of the Congressional Sindh Caucus.

“The response from the Sindhi community in Pakistan to U.S. public diplomacy in their language has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Sherman. “The Prime Minister of Pakistan welcomes this outreach.”

In a Foreign Affairs Committee markup on July 21, 2011, Sherman offered an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. The amendment required that, of the funds made available to Voice of America, $1.5 million be used only for Sindhi language programming. The Committee considered and unanimously approved Sherman’s amendment. However, that bill never became law.

Courtesy: via Sapac Sindh + Sindhi e-groups/ e-lists, October 25, 2013

Oligarchs — new dictators of the 21st century

BY Christian Caryl

WASHINGTON: Earlier this month, the investment bank Credit Suisse published its annual survey of global wealth. The bank’s report is filled with illuminating findings, but one in particular caught my eye. It has to do with the distribution of assets in Russia, where, as the report notes, a mere 110 people own a mind-boggling 35 per cent of the country’s entire wealth. At the same time, 93.7pc of Russians are worth $10,000 or less.

As the report notes, this makes Russia the country with the greatest wealth disparities in the world. Americans, who are now increasingly concerned about deepening inequality in their own country, might seek some consolation from this dismal conclusion. Even under present circumstances, wealth in the United States is still spread a lot more evenly than that. Things could be worse, right?

Well, maybe. But I see little cause for jubilation. Russia is merely the most extreme case of a worldwide trend that potentially represents one of the greatest threats that democracy faces today: the spread of oligarchy.

The problem isn’t just that some people in today’s world are fabulously rich. It’s that disproportionate wealth increasingly goes along with disproportionate power. Russia, again, offers a textbook example of the dangers. Back in the 1990s, a handful of politically well-connected business tycoons managed to profit from their close relations with Boris Yeltsin’s Kremlin by taking advantage of the privatisation of the country’s industrial jewels — above all its vast oil wealth. Those magnates weren’t shy about exploiting their economic power to political ends. They bankrolled Yeltsin’s re-election as president in 1996, controlled ministerial appointments, and dictated government policy. No wonder these businessmen-cum-politicians were soon dubbed the “oligarchs.” (”Oligarchy” is Greek for “government of the few.”)

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Commentary: U.S. fiscal failure warrants a de-Americanized world

By Xinhua writer Liu Chang

BEIJING, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) — As U.S. politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.

Emerging from the bloodshed of the Second World War as the world’s most powerful nation, the United States has since then been trying to build a global empire by imposing a postwar world order, fueling recovery in Europe, and encouraging regime-change in nations that it deems hardly Washington-friendly.

With its seemingly unrivaled economic and military might, the United States has declared that it has vital national interests to protect in nearly every corner of the globe, and been habituated to meddling in the business of other countries and regions far away from its shores.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has gone to all lengths to appear before the world as the one that claims the moral high ground, yet covertly doing things that are as audacious as torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks, and spying on world leaders.

Under what is known as the Pax-Americana, we fail to see a world where the United States is helping to defuse violence and conflicts, reduce poor and displaced population, and bring about real, lasting peace.

Moreover, instead of honoring its duties as a responsible leading power, a self-serving Washington has abused its superpower status and introduced even more chaos into the world by shifting financial risks overseas, instigating regional tensions amid territorial disputes, and fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies.

As a result, the world is still crawling its way out of an economic disaster thanks to the voracious Wall Street elites, while bombings and killings have become virtually daily routines in Iraq years after Washington claimed it has liberated its people from tyrannical rule.

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Is America a failed State?

By Mick Krever, CNN

NASA’s unmanned Voyager 2 spacecraft may have put it best when it “tweeted” from beyond the solar system: “Farewell, humans. Sort it out yourselves.”

Most employees at NASA are now among the million U.S. government employees on forced leave because congress has failed to pass a spending bill, forcing a shutdown.

The world is watching in seeming disbelief. So, is America a failed state?

Not quite, but the apparent failure of the American congress to govern certainly raises the question. If we were covering some of the far-flung failing states we often do, we’d know just how to put it.

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Sindhi population under attack by Pak govt bodies: US lawmakers

Brad ShermanWashington: With the popularity of the United States inside Pakistan at an all-time low, an influential American lawmaker has asked the State Department to make efforts to reach out directly to the country’s population, in particular the Sindhis.

“Pakistan is a nuclear-armed Islamic state on the front line of several conflicts with so many extremist groups.

Pakistan is a pressing international problem for us. My hope is that you are reaching out to the Pakistani people not just in Urdu, which is the politically correct language that the government and the ISI in Pakistan would have you use, but also in the other languages, particularly Sindhi,” Congressman Brad Sherman, said during a Congressional hearing Thursday.

Sherman alleged that the people of Sindhi, predominantly those who speak Sindhi language, have been under attack by governmental bodies.

“That’s why the government of Pakistan would just as soon you not use that language. They’re so helpful in so many ways that perhaps you might want to ignore their advice,” he said.

“The US must reach out to Sindh, where the Sindhi language is spoken by more people than Urdu,” Sherman said in his remarks at the hearing of the Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Courtesy: The Indian Express

 http://www.indianexpress.com/news/sindhi-population-under-attack-by-pak-govt-bodies-us-lawmakers/983254/

Sindhi U.S Marine

By Hanif Sangi

This is little over due, but I want to congratulate Washingtonian Sindhi family for successful enlistment of their son Umer Bhutto in bravest force, The U.S Marines. Our elite Marines have long history of service to this greatest nation. Sindhis have repeatedly proved to be the finest warriors in the world, many have served the United States Armed Forces and number of Sindhi service members continues to grow. I share the pride of service to our adopted country and THANK him for volunteering to go above and beyond the call of duty. Its not easy to leave the luxuries of life, put boots on and be on duty 24 hours a day. Indeed, freedom is not free.

Courtesy: SANA list, September 28, 2013

Remember bogus U.S. excuses for Iraq war before attacking Syria: China’s Xinhua

(Reuters) – An attack on Syria would be dangerous and irresponsible, and the world should remember the Iraq war was started by U.S. allegations of weapons of mass destruction which turned out to be false, China’s official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.

Read more » Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/27/us-syria-crisis-china-idUSBRE97Q09420130827

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http://m.firstpost.com/world/remember-bogus-u-s-excuses-for-iraq-war-before-attacking-syria-chinas-xinhua-1065437.html

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Role Reversal: How the U.S. Became the USSR — Paul Craig Roberts

I spent the summer of 1961 behind the Iron Curtain. I was part of the US-USSR student exchange program. It was the second year of the program that operated under auspices of the US Department of State. Our return to the West via train through East Germany was interrupted by the construction of the Berlin Wall. We were sent back to Poland. The East German rail tracks were occupied with Soviet troop and tank trains as the Red Army concentrated in East Germany to face down any Western interference.

Fortunately, in those days there were no neoconservatives. Washington had not grown the hubris it so well displays in the 21st century. The wall was built and war was avoided. The wall backfired on the Soviets. Both JFK and Ronald Reagan used it to good propaganda effect.

In those days America stood for freedom, and the Soviet Union for oppression. Much of this impression was created by Western propaganda, but there was some semblance to the truth in the image. The communists had a Julian Assange and an Edward Snowden of their own. His name was Cardinal Jozef Mindszenty, the leader of the Hungarian Catholic Church.

Mindszenty opposed tyranny. For his efforts he was imprisoned by the Nazis. Communists also regarded him as an undesirable, and he was tortured and given a life sentence in 1949.

Freed by the short-lived Hungarian Revolution in 1956, Mindszenty reached the American Embassy in Budapest and was granted political asylum by Washington. However, the communists would not give him the free passage that asylum presumes, and Mindszenty lived in the US Embassy for 15 years, 79% of his remaining life.

In the 21st century roles have reversed. Today it is Washington that is enamored of tyranny. On Washington’s orders, the UK will not permit Julian Assange free passage to Ecuador, where he has been granted asylum. Like Cardinal Mindszenty, Assange is stuck in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.

Washington will not permit its European vassal states to allow overflights of airliners carrying Edward Snowden to any of the countries that have offered Snowden asylum. Snowden is stuck in the Moscow airport.

In Washington politicians of both parties demand that Snowden be captured and executed. Politicians demand that Russia be punished for not violating international law, seizing Snowden, and turning him over to Washington to be tortured and executed, despite the fact that Washington has no extradition treaty with Russia.

Snowden did United States citizens a great service. He told us that despite constitutional prohibition, Washington had implemented a universal spy system intercepting every communication of every American and much of the rest of the world. Special facilities are built in which to store these communications.

In other words, Snowden did what Americans are supposed to do–disclose government crimes against the Constitution and against citizens. Without a free press there is nothing but the government’s lies. In order to protect its lies from exposure, Washington intends to exterminate all truth tellers.

Read more » Paul Craig Roberts
http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2013/07/23/role-reversal-how-the-us-became-the-ussr-paul-craig-roberts/#assange

Sindh Caucus : An Exhibition of Sindhi Art at Capitol Hill

Congressional Sindh Caucus :An Exhibition of Sindhi Art at Capitol Hill

Washington DC: We invite friends and supporters in joining the Congressional Sindh Caucus in presenting An Exhibition of Sindhi Art “Umar Marvi” by Uzma Kazmi. Featuring Sindhi Artists Uzma Kazmi and Jani Abro Uzma Kazmi’s work illustrates the realistic aspect, glimpses of folk tale inspired by mystic poetry of Latif Sarkar (Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai).

On September 10th, 2013, 5:30–8:00 pm. At 1539 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515

Sindhi people enjoy a rich history and culture reflective of their diverse community and traditions, which includes Sufism (Mysticism). This is a night to honor the ancient way of life of this 5,000 year-old Indus valley civilization. We are here to help show support on behalf of the Sindhis.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, August 14, 2013

Sindhi Advocacy on The Hill

(Washington, DC) – August 9, 2013: The Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) will be raising the awareness for Sindh and the Sindhis on September 10th-12th 2013 on Capitol Hill. We have already scheduled several meetings with members of Congress. These three days will encompass raising awareness regarding the discrimination faced by the Sindhis in Pakistan.

The Three-day Advocacy will focus on Education, Health, and Human Rights issues: Torture, enforced disappearances, marginalization of the religious minority (particularly Sindhi Hindus) and mistreatment of women in Sindh, Pakistan.

80 Percent Of U.S. Adults Face Near-Poverty, Unemployment: Survey

By HOPE YEN

WASHINGTON — Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.

Read more » Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/28/poverty-unemployment-rates_n_3666594.html

The Twilight of American Empire?

By John Feffer, co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus

As people near retirement age, they enter the twilight years. Sometimes, they rebel against retirement. They want to keep working. They‘re not interested in shuffling out of their office never to return. And if they’re in fact the owner of the workplace, conflicts often ensue. Those who have power rarely want to give up that power.

The United States is relatively young as a country. It is even younger as the “leader of the free world.” But for at least three decades, reports have circulated that the American empire has entered its twilight years, perhaps even its dotage.

The U.S. government itself cautioned us to scale back our expectations in the late 1970s when President Jimmy Carter called on Americans to cut back on consumerism and adjust to an age of diminishing expectations. Then, after the Reagan rebound, we were warned by Yale professor Paul Kennedy of imperial overstretch in the late 1980s. The Clinton years saved us from bankruptcy and the George W. Bush administration again reasserted American power in the world.

But now, the United States has again sunk into economic malaise and the wars of the last decade have left the country badly bruised. Historian Alfred McCoy believes the U.S. empire won‘t make it until 2025. Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung pulls the horizon a little closer to 2025. It’s also possible that the empire already ended and somebody forgot to make the announcement. In 2011, Standard and Poor‘s removed the United States from its list of risk-free borrowers, putting us below Canada and Australia. That could very well have been the death knell.

Predicting the end of American empire is complicated by the fact that the United States is not a traditional empire. It does not try to maintain territorial control over distant lands (though many residents of Hawai’i and Guam might disagree). It doesn‘t practice a straightforward policy of pillaging overseas possessions for their material wealth. It practices a form of consensual give-and-take with its allies in Europe and Asia.

But the American Goliath does straddle the globe militarily, with hundreds and hundreds of military bases and Special Forces operating in 71 countries. The United States remains number one in the dubious categories of overall military spending and overall military exports.

Economically, the United States attempts to use the size of its economy to negotiate favorable deals with smaller countries (think: NAFTA) and often defines its national security priorities by their proximity to valuable natural resources (think: oil). It wields disproportionate influence in international economic organizations like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Culturally, Hollywood and the music industry and the television studios all set the standard for cool around the world. English is the world language, and the dollar (for now) is the world currency.

This is, in other words, an empire of consent. Other governments ask for our military bases (though often over the objections of their citizens). Other governments want to trade with the United States. No one makes people watch Avatar or Titanic, the top-grossing movies worldwide. No one forces consumers at gunpoint to eat at McDonald’s or drink Coca-Cola. It‘s true that Washington does what it can to tilt the playing field – through export subsidies, diplomatic arm-twisting, and the occasional show of force. And it can be a very lonely world for those countries, like North Korea, that consistently defy the United States. But this still remains a much more complex set of relationships than Pax Romana or Pax Brittanica.

However one defines U.S. power, though, a fundamental shift is clearly taking place in the world. China is slated to surpass the United States as the world’s largest economy as early as 2016. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, many people already believe that China has done so. Indeed, if measured by purchasing power, China nosed past the United States a couple years ago.

It‘s not just China. The other celebrated members of the BRICS – Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa – are more quietly building up their economic and geopolitical power. Then there’s MIST – Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey – another group of rising powers. The proliferation of other groupings – the Next 11, CIVETS – all testifies to the transformation of world power.

Meanwhile, the United States is behaving like a country desperately trying to maintain its edge. It has proclaimed a “Pacific pivot” even though it doesn‘t have the resources to execute any significant shift from the Middle East to Asia. It has attempted to maintain unsustainable levels of military spending at a time of serious budget constraints. It has tried to maintain a surveillance state in the face of considerable challenges from both individuals and organizations. Detroit has gone bankrupt; bridges have collapsed in Washington state and Arizona; thousands in New York and New Jersey are still homeless after last year’s Hurricane Sandy; gun violence annually claims tens of thousands of lives.

And on the issues where the world truly needs leadership – global warming, global poverty, global militarism – the United States is either out to lunch or very much part of the problem.

An aging chief executive who resists calls for retirement will often whip out their trump card: apr?s moi, le deluge! In other words, if the top person goes, whatever their vices might be, the organization will collapse because no one else can provide effective leadership.

John Feffer is co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org) at the Institute for Policy Studies. His articles and books can be found at http://www.johnfeffer.com. His latest book is Crusade 2.0 (City Lights, 2012).

The views presented in this column are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Hankyoreh.

Please direct questions or comments to [englishhani@hani.co.kr]

Courtesy: the hankyoreh
http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/597923.html

Sindhi Advocacy Campaign 2013 in Washington, DC

Press Release (3 Jul 2013): The Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) will be organizing a Three-day Advocacy Campaign, September 10th-12th 2013 at the Capitol Hill for the Sindhis in Pakistan. These three days will encompass raising awareness regarding the discrimination faced by the Sindhis in Pakistan.

We would like to send out our sincere request for participation in our Sindhi Advocacy Campaign on September 10th through 12th, 2013, 9am-6pm, at the Capitol Hill. The Three-day Advocacy will focus on Education, Health and the human rights issues: Torture, enforced disappearances, marginalization of the religious minority (particularly Sindhi Hindus) and mistreatment of women in Sindh, Pakistan. On the Hill we will be setting meetings with 435 members of the house and 100 senators.

Your support by attending the Sindhi Advocacy Campaign 2013, would be deeply appreciated and help uplift our mission of amending justice to the Sindhis in Pakistan. Please feel free to contact us at sapac.sindh@gmail.com

LOVE RULES THE DAY!

Supreme Court Bolsters Gay Marriage With Two Major Rulings

By

WASHINGTON — In a pair of major victories for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that married same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits and, by declining to decide a case from California, effectively allowed same-sex marriages there.

The rulings leave in place laws banning same-sex marriage around the nation, and the court declined to say whether there was a constitutional right to such unions. But in clearing the  way for same-sex marriage in California, the nation’s most populous state, the court effectively increased to 13 the number of states that allow it.

The decisions will only intensify the fast-moving debate over same-sex marriage, and the clash in the Supreme Court reflected the one around the nation. In the hushed courtroom Wednesday morning, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced the majority opinion striking down the federal law in a stately tone that indicated he was delivering a civil rights landmark. After he finished, he sat stonily, looking straight ahead, while Justice Antonin Scalia unleashed a cutting dissent.

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/27/us/politics/supreme-court-gay-marriage.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Taliban-US talks and the hoax of peace — Lal Khan

Shallow gestures of democracy and human rights with the crushing domination of capital will not end the extreme poverty, misery, alienation and deprivation that stalk Afghanistan

Just hours before the beginning of the peace talks between the Taliban and the US delegation in Qatar, the mercurial Afghan President Karzai suspended talks on a long-term security deal to keep US troops in Afghanistan after NATO leaves in 2014. Irritated by a press conference in Qatar at which the Taliban effectively portrayed itself as a government in exile, Karzai is reported to have said, “The Taliban’s flag and the banner of the Islamic Emirate was something we did not expect…In view of the contradiction between acts and the statements made by the United States of America in regard to the peace process… the suspension of the talks will continue until there is clarity from the United States.”

These are daring words from a man who was installed with his puppet regime by the western imperialists after the occupation of Afghanistan by the US forces in 2001. This is a clear display of weakness by US imperialism brought to the fore by the economic collapse and the military defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, repeated phone calls by John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, appeared to have mollified Karzai, who “wants to keep wheels moving again.” President Obama said after the G-8 summit in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, “This is an important first step towards reconciliation; although it’s a very early step…we anticipate there will be a lot of bumps in the road.”

The whole scenario of setting up a palatial office for the Taliban by the oil-rich reactionary Qatari monarchy seems to be surreal. While the Americans were devastating Afghanistan and the Taliban were involved in an orgy of terror and bloodshed for the last 12 years, the Saudi and now the emerging Qatari monarchy had retained relations and funded sections of the Taliban to fulfil their hegemonic designs in the regions. These reactionary despotic monarchies in connivance with US imperialism are in liaison with Islamic fundamentalists in Egypt, Palestine, Syria and other Islamic countries in the region, and are carrying out a ferocious repression in their own kingdoms.

It is a myth that the Taliban are a homogeneous and centrally-organised body. There are numerous groups led by different warlords representing warring factions of black capital, who have been tearing each other apart for control of this ill-gotten booty. They all represent black reaction and are aligned to the regional and international imperialist powers that are involved in this new great game to exploit and control mineral resources, gas pipelines and the strategic location of Afghanistan. It is a mystery which group or coalition of groups is there to negotiate in Qatar and who their sponsor is. According to an AFP report of June 19, “A divided insurgency is likely to complicate peace talks.” There are many other fundamentalist outfits that will try to sabotage these talks. Even those represented in Qatar will face splits and disintegration of their groups with the hardliners breaking away in fear of losing the assets and the money they had accumulated in this reactionary war. The Taliban delegation in Qatar has till now refused to accept the preconditions set by the US negotiators, which include breaking ties with al Qaeda, recognising the regime in Kabul and many others. Then there is the question of the regime in Kabul and the Northern Alliance that is bitterly opposed to any direct negotiations with the Taliban.

The Taliban captured Kabul in September 1996 with the support of the ISI during Benazir Bhutto’s government in Pakistan. The financial support from the US, particularly by Robert Oakley, former US Assistant Secretary of State and advisor to the American oil giant UNOCAL at the time was crucial in the capture of Kabul by the Taliban. US imperialism balked at the Taliban only after their government under Mullah Omar double-crossed UNOCAL. Apart from sending a delegation to its head office in Texas, the Taliban sent another delegation at the same time to Buenos Aires to the headquarters of BRIDAS, an Argentinian oil conglomerate, to negotiate an even more lucrative deal of laying a pipeline from Central Asia through Afghanistan. The rest as they say is history.

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So, finally, a farewell to arms

Islamabad diary

by Ayaz Amir

With the announcement of a Taliban address in Doha, Qatar, and the Americans welcoming this development, the window for military action in our Waziristan has finally slammed shut. The army wasn’t about to launch any operation – no fear of that – but even the tantalising possibility that at some point in the future vacillation would give way to decisive action now evaporates.

The scales have shifted. With the Americans engaging, however fruitlessly, with the Taliban in Doha, the Pakistan Army is in no position (psychologically) to undertake any kind of military operation in North Waziristan. The army can play around with the status quo in that embattled region – huffing and puffing and losing more officers and men to Taliban ambushes, six of our soldiers killed in an ambush this Wednesday – but the status quo, rail against it as we might, has come to stay.

Time was on the side of the Taliban, as it always is on the side of any force engaged in irregular warfare. And the Pakistan Army and a confused nation, their thinking split down the middle, have missed the bus. For us that is the significance of the Taliban gaining, at long last, virtual American diplomatic recognition – which is what this latest development amounts to.

A triumph for Mullah Omar and a problem for us, because Mullah Omar’s resurgent emirate, waiting patiently for the Americans to depart, now extends, like a dagger, into Pakistan – in the form of Hakeemullah’s Waziristan.

Let us not lose heart too much. This is not history being rewritten, only history being reversed. The kingdom of Kabul once held sway over the territories constituting our north-west frontier. Maharajah Ranjit Singh (sorry for bringing up his name again) pushed the Afghans back and the British inherited Ranjit Singh’s kingdom. That is how the new state of Pakistan came into possession of those frontier lands.

But through an historical process, starting with the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979 and leading up to the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Pakistan’s control over those territories stands immeasurably weakened.

Strange the workings of history – our military geniuses under Gen Zia sought strategic depth in Afghanistan. It is the Taliban and Al-Qaeda which have acquired strategic depth in Pakistan.

The Americans are about to talk to the Taliban not to get them to lay down their arms and ship them to the Solomon Islands, but as a face-saving exercise. They want to exit Afghanistan sans too much humiliation. In so many words they are telling the Taliban, look we are getting out; make our departure easier. That’s it, if only we could read the writing on the wall.

Hamid Karzai has more sense than we do. Look at his anger: he knows he’s been used and the Americans, for all their tall talk, are about to talk, if not cut a deal, with his sworn enemies. And he’s frothing at the mouth, without this having the slightest effect on his paymasters.

At least Karzai knows what is what. We get used like a box of tissues again – the first time under Zia, the second time now – and still think we are ‘stakeholders’ in the Afghan game. There’s no end to our talent for make-believe, even as the tide of history is being reversed.

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The surveillance state is even bigger, and scarier, than we thought.

It’s High Time We Abolished the Department of Homeland Security

It’s the path to national sanity.

The surveillance state is even bigger, and scarier, than we thought.

And, as a result, it’s time that we broke up the failed national security experiment known as the Department of Homeland Security. Returning to dozens of independent agencies will return internal checks-and-balances to within the Executive branch, and actually make us both safer and less likely to be the victims of government snooping overreach.

Last Wednesday, the  Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald revealed that the National Security Agency is secretly collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon users. The agency received authorization to track phone “metadata” over a 3 month period from a special court order issued in April.

We now also know that what the  Guardian uncovered is just the tip of the iceberg of an ongoing phone and internet records collection program that likely includes almost all major U.S. telecommunications companies.

President Obama – who promised the “most transparent administration ever” – now finds himself and his DHS at the center of yet another civil liberties controversy. That controversy has deepened in the wake of two reports published last night in both the Washington Post and the Guardian that outlined a different NSA snooping program – a data mining initiative code-named “PRISM.”

PRISM – which was created in 2007 during the Bush Administration – is almost certainly the most far-reaching surveillance program ever created. By reaching into the servers of 9 different major U.S. internet companies – including Facebook, Google and Apple – the NSA has access to millions of users’ personal data, including emails, chats and videos.

Although PRISM is supposed to only be used to gain information about “foreign individuals” suspected of terrorism – the very methods used to access such information inevitably suck up the private data of American citizens

As the  Washington Post pointed out:

“Even when the system works just as advertised, with no American singled out for targeting, the NSA routinely collects a great deal of American content. That is described as “incidental,” and it is inherent in contact chaining, one of the basic tools of the trade. To collect on a suspected spy or foreign terrorist means, at minimum, that everyone in the suspect’s inbox or outbox is swept in.”

These startling revelations about American intelligence agencies raise a number of questions, the first being, of course, who’s the  Guardian‘s source?

Read more » AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/thom-hartmann-abolish-homeland-security

“I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded.” – Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden was NSA Prism leak source – Guardian

A former CIA technical worker has been identified by the UK’s Guardian newspaper as the source of leaks about US surveillance programmes.

Edward Snowden, 29, is described by the paper as an ex-CIA technical assistant, currently employed by defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

The Guardian said his identity was being revealed at his own request.

The recent revelations are that US agencies gathered millions of phone records and monitored internet data.

The Guardian quotes Mr Snowden as saying he flew to Hong Kong on 20 May, where he holed himself up in a hotel. He told the paper: “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things… I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded.

Asked what he thought would happen to him, he replied: “Nothing good.” He said he had gone to Hong Kong because of its “strong tradition of free speech”.

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NSA surveillance revelations: Osama bin Laden would love this

The US has shown itself so paranoid in the face of possible ‘al-Qaida-linked terror’ that it has played right into jihadist hands

By , guardian.co.uk

Washington has handed Osama bin Laden his last and greatest triumph. The Prism files revealed in the Guardian indicate how far his bid to undermine western values has succeeded in the 12 years since 9/11. He has achieved state intrusion into the private lives and communications of every American citizen. He has shown the self-proclaimed home of individual freedom as so paranoid in the face of his “terror” as to infiltrate the entire internet, sucking up mobile phone calls, emails, texts and, we may assume, GPS movements.

The vast databases of Microsoft, Google, YouTube and Facebook are open to government. They may cry “your privacy is our priority”, but they lie. Obedience to regulatory authority is their priority. And what does authority say? It says what authority always says: “We collect significant information on bad guys, but only bad guys.” As police states have said down the ages, the innocent have nothing to fear. For innocent, eventually read obedient.

This is the same trawling power that the British security services want parliament to approve in its snooper’s charter. It is defended on the same basis, that it is only exchanges, not content, that they seek. They do not really mean to snoop. And they do it only where “national security” is involved. Pull the other one. That is what the Stasi said. You can almost sense the smirk as they say it. And they have even persuaded half of parliament that they are right.

Inducing such paranoia about terror – always called “al-Qaida-linked terror” – is precisely what Islam’s jihadist regard as the crucial first step in undermining the west’s pseudo-liberalism. It requires democracy to lose faith in oversight, to let securocrats off the leash, to capitulate to “better safe than free”. It requires the regular click up the ratchet of control sought by each successive British home secretary. They are Bin Laden’s useful idiots.

The western democracies, and especially America and Britain, are the most invulnerable states on earth. They are rich and secure. They may suffer occasional explosions and killings, but they face not the remotest risk of “existential defeat”. Yet 9/11 brought into being an edifice of creeping surveillance and repression which democracy is clearly unable to curb. It has never been so at risk as now, from its own loss of faith in liberty. Osama bin Laden would be clapping his hands with glee.

Courtesy: Guardian.co.uk
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/07/nsa-surveillance-osama-bin-laden