Imran hints ‘conditional coalition’ with MQM

KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) or Pakistan Movement for Justice’s Chief Imran Khan on Thursday said that ‘conditional coalition’ with Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) is not completely ‘out of question,’ DawnNews reported. …

Read more: → DAWN.COM

– – – – – –

YouTube

– – – – – –

Click here → Do you want to know the background of Imran Khan: Do you want to know whose “peshkash” he is? Read a column in urdu language by renowned journalist Nusrat Javed & get the answer.

Clashes Rage In Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province

by Julie McCarthy

While Pakistan battles an Islamist militancy that seeks to overthrow the state, another lesser-known conflict rages on its soil. In the southwest province of Baluchistan, separatist fighters are clashing with security forces and killing anyone they see as the enemy.

… We have been tracking Pakistan’s battles with an Islamist militancy that seeks to overthrow the state. In the next few minutes, we’ll hear about a different sort of fight: militants in the remote province of Baluchistan want to break away from Pakistan all together. It’s a fight where both the separatists and government forces are being accused of using viscous tactics. NPR’s Julie McCarthy has more. ….

Read more: →  NPR.ORG

The myth of the ‘urban-rural’ divide

By Haider Nizamani

Shahid Javed Burki, in an article titled “The urban-rural divide”, published in the June 20 issue of this paper, has made an alarming assertion that Pakistan’s existence as a unified state will be defined by the way the urban-rural divide finally gets resolved. This shocking prognosis could have been taken seriously only if it was backed up by convincing empirical and historical evidence. What we have instead are sweeping generalisations, usage of concepts without adequately defining them, and, above all, a portrayal of the country’s past and present rid with contradictions. ….

Read more: → The Express Tribune

Obama’s Af-Pak strategy: tossing away the COIN – Dr Mohammad Taqi

– The Pakistani planners apparently lauded the UN separation of the Taliban and al Qaeda on the sanctions blacklist. This distinction does not necessarily mean lifting the sanctions; it in fact sets the stage for further sanctions against al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists, especially the India-oriented Punjabi jihadist groups based in Pakistan’s heartland

In his speech on June 22, 2011, Barack Obama outlined the drawdown of the US forces from Afghanistan. He declared his plans to pull out 10,000 troops from Afghanistan at the year’s end and another 23,000 by mid-2012, essentially withdrawing all troops inducted during the 2009 surge. Obama pledged the drawdown at a steady pace until the transition of security to the Afghan authorities by 2014.

The deliberations leading to his decision, including the stance of his various advisors, congressional hearings after the speech and indeed sections of the speech itself hint towards what lies ahead in the Pak-Afghan region, not only in the next two years but also after 2014. When it came to selling Obama’s plan to the congressional leaders, the Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, ‘excused’ himself and was represented by the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, who conceded before the House Armed Services Committee that he had hoped for a slower pace of withdrawal. Mullen had described the plan as more aggressive and riskier than he was originally prepared to accept.

Similarly, General David Petraeus and the man set to replace him as head of coalition forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General John Allen, have stated that Obama’s final plan was not one of the options proposed to the president by General Petraeus. Except for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, most officials have placed their dissenting note on record. Nonetheless, the US brass has closed ranks behind Obama and seem to have taken ownership of the task he has assigned them.

From the Pakistani perspective, there are multiple indicators pointing towards things heating up for them in the near future. Most importantly, Obama stated in his speech: “Of course, our efforts must also address terrorist safe havens in Pakistan. No country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists, which is why we will continue to press Pakistan to expand its participation in securing a more peaceful future for this war torn region. We will work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism, and we will insist that it keep its commitments. For there should be no doubt that so long as I am president, the US will never tolerate a safe haven for those who aim to kill us. They cannot elude us, nor escape the justice they deserve.” While the US military commanders may have differed on the pace of drawdown from Afghanistan, it is this aspect of his plan that they totally concur with.

On June 28, 2011, at the US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, General Allen and Vice Admiral William McRaven — the Obama nominee to head US Special Operations Command — were quite candid, not just about Obama’s overall plan, but the aspects of it that deal directly with Pakistan. In response to Senator Carl Levin’s question about Pakistan’s attitude vis-à-vis the militants, especially the Haqqani network, Admiral McRaven bluntly noted that he did not expect any change in Pakistan’s approach towards these proxies because it was “both a capacity issue for the Pakistanis and…a willingness issue”. More ominously, when asked by Senator Bob Graham: “Do we believe Mullah Omar is there with the knowledge of the ISI and the upper echelons of the army?” McRaven responded, “Sir, I believe the Pakistanis know he is in Pakistan.”

Where does this leave us, or more importantly, lead us? As much as Obama has a visceral dislike for war and, unlike George W Bush, is not trigger-happy, he has made up his mind that he will not be gun shy when it comes to enforcing the key elements of his plan to end the war in Afghanistan, which means tossing away the counterinsurgency (COIN) in Afghanistan, in favour of a counter-terrorism effort along the Durand Line. Buoyed by the results of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Obama will not reinvent the wheel and intends to apply the same model for both the Haqqani network and the ‘irreconcilable’ Afghan Taliban. The primary US focus will now be on the Pakistan-supported insurgents.

Continue reading Obama’s Af-Pak strategy: tossing away the COIN – Dr Mohammad Taqi

Elections in Pakistani colony – Azad Kashmir

by Dr Shabir Choudhry

28 June 2011 – In a parliamentary form of government a party that gets majority forms the next government; and the party leader becomes a Prime Minister. This happens in every democratic and civilised country. However, rules in a Pakistani occupied territory known as Azad Kashmir (independent Kashmir) are different.

PPP emerged as the winner in the elections. It was expected, as always is the case, a ruling party in Islamabad gets the desired results in Azad Kashmir to suits its needs. Barrister Sultan Mehmood, former Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir and a leader of the PPP was interviewed by a Pakistani TV. He happily claimed to have got the majority to form the government. The TV journalist asked him who is going to be the Prime Minister. Barrister Sultan Mehmood with a fake smile on his face said: Zardari Sahib will decide who is going to be the Prime Minister’ (of Azad Kashmir). ….

Read more: → Dr. Shabir Choudhry

Karachi University restores three-year honours degree

By Azizullah Sharif

KARACHI, June 25: The Karachi University Academic Council on Saturday decided to restore the three-year BSc, BA, BCom (honours) and two-year MA, MSc and MCom programmes with effect from the academic year 2012.

However, the four-year BS (bachelor of studies) programme of eight semesters which the KU introduced in 2007 on the directives of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) would be retained as well and, as such, this programme and the BSc, BA and BCom (Hons) programmes of six semesters would run concurrently and the students would have the option to choose any of them.

The meeting presided over by the KU Vice Chancellor Prof (Dr) Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui was attended by all faculties deans, departments chairpersons, directors of different KU institutes, all professors and elected members from KU affiliated colleges …

Read more: → DAWN.COM

Immy, tell us what you want – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Excerpt:

…. If the US stops drone attacks, can Imran Khan give the guarantee that the Taliban — ardent adherents of an anti-democratic political system — will stop coercing society into theocratic chaos? If he deliberates for a few moments on this prospect, he will be as silent as he has been about religious terrorism. So, does it mean that he is ready to turn Pakistan into a theocratic state? Probably yes, whether he knows/acknowledges it or not. In private conversations he has been an admirer of the tribal jirga system, which shows that the idealisation of tribal institutions has been part of his mindset.

Besides opposing the US intervention, his political campaigns have been criticising and exposing the ruling political elite. Again, we know what he does not want but we do not know what he wants the Pakistani socio-political system to be. Mysteriously, he has not been very vocal about the role of the Pakistani military in the disaster-ridden evolution of Pakistan. He has not articulated the genesis of the socio-political ills that have proliferated under military rule. ….

To read complete article → Wichaar

Pakistani Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar says, government is aware where the Taliban and their institutions are located and there is no difficulty in meeting them

Cannot match India’s military might: Pak Defence Minister

PTI – Islamabad: Pakistan cannot afford to match the induction of modern weaponry by India, which possibly has a greater capacity to sustain a war, Pakistani Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar has said.

“If we only try to match them (India) militarily and buy the sort of armament which they have, we will probably not be able to afford it,” Mukhtar said.

Explaining his contention, he noted that India’s economy is “six to seven times bigger than” Pakistan’s and its trade volumes were “five to six times greater”.

“The capacity of India and Pakistan to fight was for 20 to 22 days. Now India has inducted a lot of armaments, may be they can last for 45 days, we will not be able to do so,” Mukhtar said in an interview to BBC Urdu.

He was responding to a question on whether the projection of India as Pakistan’s greatest enemy was the root of the country’s problems.

Mukhtar noted that the two countries were taking steps to improve relations in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

“Slowly the process of meetings has started. People are going across the border. Nobody had ever thought they could walk suitcase in hand to Amritsar via Wagah but that is the reality now and it is happening,” he said.

This was happening, he said, “in spite of the fact that wars were fought, there were problems on the border and the Mumbai incident”.

Asked why an incident like the Mumbai attacks occurred whenever relations improved between the two countries, Mukhtar said: “It is very unfortunate that such incidents happen and they should not happen. But there are players who are behind these incidents.”

He did not give details about such elements but said some of them had been arrested and put on trial.

Matters would improve when “we decide that religion and politics should not be mixed together”, he said. “Let them go side by side. There should be no restrictions on religion which is between me and my God.”

Earlier this year, India and Pakistan revived their dialogue process, which was suspended for over two years in the wake of the Mumbai attacks which were carried out by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.

In the wide-ranging interview, Mukhtar said Pakistani military wants a speedy probe into the failure to detect Osama bin Laden’s presence in the country as well as the US raid that killed the al-Qaeda leader in Abbottabad on May 2.

“The military wants the work to be completed quickly so that responsibility can be fixed and they can be punished… A security lapse is something for which a person can be punished.

“I do not believe there was a security lapse in the Abbottabad case,” he said.

The Americans were “far too clever” and had superior intelligence and weaponry, he said.

“We do not have the resources to have been able to stop them,” he added.

Even before the commission set up to probe bin Laden’s presence had started working, some were condemning it, Mukhtar said.

With a “big incident like this, one cannot make a hasty decision” as there is a need to carry out a thorough analysis and prevent another such incident, he said.

The recommendations of the commission will be implemented. “Those responsible for negligence will have to answer, the government is capable of taking action,” he added.

Responding to a question about talks with the Taliban for finding a solution to the Afghan problem, Mukhtar said both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban will be included in the parleys.

“The government is aware where the Taliban and their institutions are located and there is no difficulty in meeting them. Talks will be held with all Taliban and the government knows where they live,” he said.

The Taliban travel to Saudi Arabia for talks and they have relations with Middle Eastern countries as well. They also have contacts with some religious bodies, he said, adding these contacts mature and reach to the state level.

Without an understanding with the Afghan people, government and Taliban, there can be no solution to the Afghan problem, the minister said.

Courtesy: → The Pioneer

More details: → BBC urdu

The Afghanistan scorecard – by Haider Nizamani

If Afghanistan has not become a modern functioning state after 10 years of American-led presence in the country, it should not be taken as a sign of the US’s defeat in our neighbourhood.

President Barack Obama has announced the drawdown plan whereby the US will gradually withdraw its combat forces from Afghanistan. The announcement comes almost 10 years after the American-led forces landed in Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Such is the nature of warfare now that the battle is seldom between easily identifiable entities nor are its results a cut and dried victory for one side and a defeat for the other. Truth, as the old cliché goes, still remains the first casualty of warfare and different sides will claim victory in the mess that is Afghanistan now.

Here I will mention and put into perspective a version of the truth that will come from the self-congratulating triumphal camp within Pakistan who will portray the Obama announcement as an American defeat in Afghanistan. They will tell you the following things: the US, like the Soviet Union, has been defeated in Afghanistan. The Soviets had to pull out the last of their soldiers in little over 10 years and the Americans have started their withdrawal in the same timeframe. No matter how superior American military power, it is no match for the soldiers of Islam. And, if you need any proof, this is the victory of the Islamists against a decadent west. The American decision to gradually withdraw and approve negotiations with the Taliban is a vindication of the Pakistani establishment’s long-held view. That Islamabad has always maintained that the Taliban are a political force in Afghanistan and there can be no stable Afghanistan without the Taliban having a significant say in its political system. Finally, that time is on the Taliban and Pakistani side and ultimately any future political setup in Kabul will have to accommodate Islamabad’s genuine interests.

Before you accept this version of the truth, keep the following in mind: 10 years of the US’s presence had an identifiable beginning and the drawdown announcement is part of an undefined endgame. The Americans have had failures in the process but they can claim some salient victories. Pakistani analysts need to keep those victories in mind when issuing verdicts about the American ‘defeat’ in Afghanistan. Pakistan has not gained much by its strategic choices of the past 10 years and its current policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds does not portend well for the country.

The US mounted the attack on Afghanistan’s Taliban regime because it considered the Taliban as the providers of safe havens to the forces that had attacked the US mainland in September 2001. It managed to have all its NATO allies be part of the US-led mission. Step one of the US’s policy was to punish the Taliban regime, and this they did quite successfully by dismantling it. The second step was to go after al Qaeda in this part of the world. This culminated in the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In the past 10 years, if one goes by the US’s account, it has greatly eliminated the al Qaeda’s leadership base in Afghanistan.

As a result, in these 10 years, there has not been any major attack on the US mainland, and the likelihood of any such attack coordinated from the Af-Pak corridor is quite slim. From the US’s vantage point, 10 years of engagement started with the successful dismantling of the Taliban regime, and now the killing of bin Laden will serve as the beginning of a long end.

In the meantime, American politicians tried to, simultaneously, put in place the state and nation building project in Afghanistan. Many sensible analysts had all along, and rightly so, maintained that it was a doomed project and not in the US’s best interests. If Afghanistan has not become a modern functioning state after 10 years of American-led presence in the country, it should not be taken as a sign of the US’s defeat in our neighbourhood.

What about Pakistan in all of this? It is at a crossroads. From now on, if it exclusively backs the Taliban in Afghanistan, it will be supporting forces that are determined to tear apart the fabric of the Pakistani state. If it wants to have a diverse political portfolio in Afghanistan then time may be fast running out. One hopes that the policymakers in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, unlike the ghairat (honour) brigade of the small screen, do not read the Obama announcement as an unmitigated victory for Pakistan. Pakistan’s security policy choices have isolated the country and adopting a triumphal tone will not change that fact.

The writer teaches political science at the University of British Columbia, Canada. He can be reached at hnizamani@hotmail.com

Courtesy: → Daily Times

Christian Taliban – a doomed attempt to compete with Muslim Taliban

Fighting the Culture Wars With Hate, Violence and Even Bullets: Meet the Most Extreme of the Radical Christians

By Alex Henderson

From the Army of God to the Hutaree Militia to Gary North and his Christian reconstructionists, radical Christianity is alive and well in the United States.

If there is one name some residents of Amarillo, Texas wish they could forget, it’s Repent Amarillo. Based in that North Texas city, Repent Amarillo is a militant Christian fundamentalist group whose antics have ranged from staging a mock execution of Santa Claus by firing squad to posting a “spiritual warfare” map on its Web site that cited a Buddhist temple, an Islamic center, gay bars, strip clubs and sex shops as places of demonic activity.

Repent Amarillo is also infamous for mercilessly harassing a local swingers club called Route 66. Throughout 2009, members of Repent Amarillo made a point of showing up at Route 66’s events, where they would typically wear military fatigues, shout at Route 66 members through bullhorns and write down the license plate numbers of people attending the events. After finding out who the swingers were, Repent Amarillo’s members would find out where they worked and try to get them fired from their jobs (according to Route 66 coordinator Mac Mead, at least two members of the club lost their jobs because of Repent Amarillo). ….

Read more: → AlterNet

Pakistan thinks a dangerous thought

Former Chief of Army Staff, General (R) Mirza Aslam Beg’s interview with Dr. Danish on ARY NEWS TV. The language of the interview is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: ARY NEWS TV (Program “Sawal Yeh Hai“, 26th June 2011-1), YouTube

AJK elections: Theatre of the absurd

Excerpt:

….. Myths proliferate. The AJK assembly represents Azad Kashmir and the territory administered by India across the Line of Control. Since the refugees from the other side are scattered all over Pakistan, AJK elections for seats from the ‘other side’ are held in other provinces too. The MQM, which had won two seats last time, wanted to retain them both, but the PPP wanted one. When the MQM did not agree, the inspector-general of the Sindh police reported that conditions for polls in Sindh were not good, thus allowing the government to postpone voting. This has led to another PPP-MQM rift which promises to get worse in the coming days, with MQM leader Altaf Hussain saying that “the end of the PPP has begun”.

Everybody knows that India rules Kashmir from New Delhi, calling the head of the executive there chief minister; Pakistan has sensationalised the myth by calling the AJK chief executive the prime minister while ruling AJK from Islamabad. Once, the Muslim Conference was the blue-eyed boy of the establishment. Under General Ziaul Haq, Sardar Qayyum and Nawaz Sharif were equal beneficiaries at the fountainhead of power. The Muslim Conference thought it could go along with President Pervez Musharraf and switch off jihad. Sardar Atique is blameless today. The fact is that the establishment has rolled back the Musharraf policy and dumped his party.

A ‘flexible’ President Asif Ali Zardari has taken the PPP into the embrace of the establishment, concerned about reviving the ‘safe havens’ scaled down by Musharraf. On the other hand, the PML-N is challenging the establishment, not because of any difference in its thinking, but because of the PPP. It can switch off its intense criticism of the army if the latter dumps the PPP. The military is not particularly enamoured of the PPP. Furthermore, in comparison with the PML-N, it is less fearful of the PPP because of the PML-N’s reach and clout in the country’s most populous province. And clout matters within the officers’ corps. ….

To read complete editorial: → The Express Tribune

MQM quits govts in Sindh, centre; Governor Sindh resigns

KARACHI: The government’s main coalition partner, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, said Monday it had quit the beleaguered administration, citing the “dictatorial” and “brutal” approach of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party.

“The MQM leadership and workers have reached the conclusion it is difficult to go along with the Pakistan People’s Party, keeping in view its democratic and dictatorial attitude,” senior party official Farooq Sattar told reporters. …

Read more: → DAWN.COM

Where are the men who fight monsters?

by Wendy Johnson

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146

As extra-judicial killings in Balochistan start to receive international attention, words like “serial killers” are finally appearing in the coverage. In “Pakistan’s secret dirty war,” Declan Walsh writes, “The stunning lack of interest in Pakistan’s greatest murder mystery in decades becomes more understandable, however, when it emerges that the prime suspect is not some shady gang of sadistic serial killers, but the country’s powerful military and its unaccountable intelligence men.” …

Read more: → crisisbalochistan.com

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed alarm at torture against students of Punjab University’s Philosophy Department by Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT)

HRCP slams violence by hooligans at PU

Press release- Lahore, June 27: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed alarm at torture against students of Punjab University’s Philosophy Department by armed activists allegedly belonging to Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) early on Sunday, which left seven students injured.

Continue reading The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed alarm at torture against students of Punjab University’s Philosophy Department by Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT)

Don’t need non-Muslims to kill Muslims

Insurgents suffer bloody reprisals

By Cyril Almeida

QUETTA: A deadly campaign of killings in Baloch areas has driven a low-level insurgency in Balochistan further underground, curtailing insurgent attacks in the province but raising fears that a new generation of Baloch youth may embrace separatist violence.Since June last year, the bodies of approximately 170 Baloch men aged between 20 and 40 have been recovered, victims of the so-called ‘kill and dump’ operations. …

Read more: → DAWN.COM

Shouting about Indian repression in Kashmir is hypocrisy

A weaker insurgency, but with new contours

By Cyril Almeida, dawn.com

QUETTA: The decline in insurgent violence over the past year, at the cost of savage violence by the state, has produced a fragile recovery in Quetta and other insurgency-hit parts of Balochistan.

Continue reading Shouting about Indian repression in Kashmir is hypocrisy

The unintended consequences of American funding in Pakistan.

– The Double Game

The unintended consequences of American funding in Pakistan.

by Lawrence Wright

Excerpt:

…. India has become the state that we tried to create in Pakistan. It is a rising economic star, militarily powerful and democratic, and it shares American interests. Pakistan, however, is one of the most anti-American countries in the world, and a covert sponsor of terrorism. Politically and economically, it verges on being a failed state. And, despite Pakistani avowals to the contrary, America’s worst enemy, Osama bin Laden, had been hiding there for years—in strikingly comfortable circumstances—before U.S. commandos finally tracked him down and killed him, on May 2nd.

American aid is hardly the only factor that led these two countries to such disparate outcomes. But, at this pivotal moment, it would be a mistake not to examine the degree to which U.S. dollars have undermined our strategic relationship with Pakistan—and created monstrous contradictions within Pakistan itself. …

… Within the I.S.I., there is a secret organization known as the S Wing, which is largely composed of supposedly retired military and I.S.I. officers. “It doesn’t exist on paper,” a source close to the I.S.I. told me. The S Wing handles relations with radical elements. “If something happens, then they have deniability,” the source explained. If any group within the Pakistani military helped hide bin Laden, it was likely S Wing.

Eight days before Osama bin Laden was killed, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the head of the Pakistani Army, went to the Kakul military academy in Abbottabad, less than a mile from the villa where bin Laden was living. “General Kayani told the cadets, ‘We have broken the backbone of the militants,’ ” Pir Zubair Shah, the reporter, told me. “But the backbone was right there.” Perhaps with a touch of theatre, Hamid Gul, the former I.S.I. chief, publicly expressed wonder that bin Laden was living in a city with three army regiments, less than a mile from an élite military academy, in a house that appeared to have been built expressly to protect him. Aside from the military, Gul told the Associated Press, “there is the local police, the Intelligence Bureau, Military Intelligence, the I.S.I. They all had a presence there.”

To read complete article : ♦ The New Yorker

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/05/16/110516fa_fact_wright#ixzz1QU3ZbWsw

 

Yaar zinda, sohbat baaqi

Musadiq Sanwal recalls the life and ways of a dear poet friend, Hasan Dars

Life is but one of the small pieces of Rilli

If you won’t sit on it,

I better fold it.

Out of the blue the other day I received the text message: “Hasan Dars passed away”. I thought it was a joke. How could it be? Hasan was still an adolescent! Maybe it is not the right word, but his energy, his wide, poetry-breathing grin, how could it all have suddenly evaporated into thin air? There was something terribly wrong with the message.

Continue reading Yaar zinda, sohbat baaqi

A REAL PULLOUT OR A SHELL GAME?

by Eric Margolis

Far-called our navies melt away—

On dune and headland sinks the fire—

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday

Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

Rudyard Kipling “Recessional”

NEW YORK – War is waged to achieve political objectives, not to kill enemies. In this sense, the United States has lost the ten-year Afghan conflict, its longest war. Afghanistan remains the “graveyard of empires.”

The US has failed to install an obedient regime in Kabul that controls Afghanistan. It has made foes of the Pashtun majority, and, in pursuing this war, gravely undermined Pakistan. Claims that US forces were in Afghanistan to hunt the late Osama bin Laden were widely disbelieved.

Last Wednesday, President Barack Obama bowed to public opinion, approaching elections, military reality and financial woes by announcing he would withdraw a third of the 100,000 US troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer.   Pentagon brass growled open opposition.

US allies France and Germany announced similar troops reductions. All foreign troops are supposed to quit Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Washington currently spends at least $10 billion monthly on the Afghan war, not counting “black” payments, CIA and NSA operations. The US has poured $18.8 billion in development aid into Afghanistan since 2001 with nothing to show for the effort. Pakistan has been given $20 billion to support the Afghan War.

The US deficit is heading over $1.4 trillion. The national debt, when unfunded pensions and benefits are added, is likely $100 trillion, according to the chief of PIMCO, the world’s largest bond trader.

Forty-four million Americans now receive food stamps; the national infrastructure of roads, airports, bridges and schools is crumbling from neglect. Unemployment, officially at 9.5%, is probably closer to 20%.

The cry is being heard: “Rebuild America, not Afghanistan.”

In spite of intense pro-war propaganda, over half of Americans now oppose the Afghan War.   Even US-installed Afghan president Hamid Karzai calls it, “ineffective, apart from causing civilian casualties.”

So will the US really pull out of Afghanistan? That remains to be seen. There are contradictory signs.

Mid-level talks between the US and Taliban are under way. The US will probably keep some of its remaining 66,000 soldiers in Afghanistan after 2014, rebranding them training troops. The huge US bases at Kandahar and Bagram will be retained.

Billions more will be spent on the Afghan government army and police. They have so far proved ineffective because most are composed of Tajik and Uzbek mercenaries who are hated and distrusted by the Pashtun.

A similar process is underway in Iraq where “withdrawal” means keeping renamed US combat brigades in Iraq, thousands of mercenaries, and US combat forces in neighboring Kuwait and the Gulf. New US embassies in Baghdad and Kabul– huge, fortified complexes with their own mercenary combat forces– will be the world’s biggest. Kabul will have a staff of 1,000 US personnel. Bin Laden called them “crusader fortresses.”

In addition, the US will still arm and finance allied Tajik and Uzbek militias in Afghanistan. Financing Pakistan’s US-backed regime and Uzbekistan must also continue at around $3 billion yearly.

The US appears to be going and staying at the same time. By contrast, Taliban’s position is clear and simple: it will continue fighting until all foreign troops are withdrawn.   US special forces, drones and hit squads have been unable to assassinate enough Taliban commanders to make the mujahidin stop fighting.

Americans never study history, not even their own. They don’t recall founding father, the great Benjamin Franklin, who said, “there is no good war, and no bad peace.” Or that the Pashtun Taliban and its allies are fierce, dedicated, undefeated warriors. I’ve been in combat with them and remain in awe of their courage and love of combat.   The Pashtun mujahidin will keep fighting as always, as long as their ammunition lasts.   

America, for all its B-1 heavy bombers, strike fighters, missiles, helicopter gunships and drones, armor, super electronics, spies in the sky and all the other high tech weapons of modern war has failed to defeat some 30,000 tribal fighters with nothing more than small arms and legendary valor.

The US has lost the all important military initiative in Afghanistan. It may linger there, but it cannot win.

Courtesy: → ericmargolis

http://www.ericmargolis.com/political_commentaries/a-real-pullout-or-a-shell-game.aspx

Hamid Karzai: Pakistan Firing Missiles Into Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan President Hamid Karzai accuses Pakistan of firing 470 rockets into two of its eastern border provinces in a three-week barrage.

Afghan security forces said Sunday that 36 people have died in the barrages, which hit civilians in areas where NATO forces have withdrawn. After the civilians fled, Pakistani Taliban came in and occupied the cleared areas, Afghan border officials said. …

Read more: → HuffingtonPost

Pakistan’s Army Is the Real Obstacle to Peace – It shelters jihadists and cows liberal civilian politicians.

– BY MIRA SETHI

Two months after Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, was assassinated by his own bodyguard for criticizing the country’s blasphemy law, the only Christian member of the Pakistani cabinet, Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, was killed for doing his job—advocating protection of the country’s two million Christians.

Taseer’s assassination prompted a debate: Was the blasphemy law, introduced by Gen. Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s in his bid to “Islamize” Pakistan, being exploited for mundane interests? Was it leading to witch hunts? Bhatti’s death should prompt Pakistanis to ask themselves an equally disquieting question: Does Pakistan have a future as …

Read more: → THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Not crazy, courageous – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The fact that the people in Balochistan and Kurdistan are increasingly willing to sacrifice shows that they have lost all hope of achieving their rights within the existing systems. The fact that the immeasurable brutality of the state has not dampened their spirit of resistance proves freedom cannot be suppressed by repression ….

Read more: → Daily Times

First time in the democratic history of Pakistan – Public Accounts Committee calls for report against three retired generals

PAC calls for report against three retired generals

By Kalbe Ali

ISLAMABAD: For the first time in the country’s democratic history, the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly has directed the defence ministry and the GHQ to submit a report on corruption charges against three retired generals.

The generals were allegedly involved in misadventures in the stock exchange which caused a loss of about Rs2 billion to the National Logistics Cell (NLC).

A meeting of the PAC held here on Saturday also took notice of the killing by Rangers personnel of an unarmed youth in Karachi and officials of the interior ministry informed the committee that activities of Rangers were being monitored.

The meeting, presided over by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the PML-N, asked the defence ministry to submit the report on NLC scam to the PAC Secretariat by June 30.

Saeed Zafar, a member of the PAC, said the committee had been waiting for the past seven months, but the GHQ was to submit its report on the scam to the committee.

The defence ministry officials said the GHQ had already completed its inquiry into the scam and would soon forward a report to the ministry.

“The three retired army general and a bureaucrat need to be brought to justice,” Chaudhry Nisar said, adding: “I have also told the army chief that the inquiry has to be in light of three audit reports already conducted into the NLC affairs.”

The NLC is a subsidiary of the Planning Commission but has traditionally been dominated by the army. It is being headed by a serving major general and various army officers are working as his subordinates.

According to an audit report, the NLC management had obtained illegal and unauthorised loans of Rs4.3 billion between 2004 and 2008 for investment in the volatile stock market and suffered a loss of Rs1.84.

The PAC chairman told the defence ministry officials that obtaining the report from the GHQ would not be a problem. “Gen Ashfaq Kayani has already assured me,” he said.

At an earlier meeting of the committee, NLC Director General Maj-Gen Junaid Rehmat had said the NLC was paying Rs2.7 million per day as mark-up on the loans illegally obtained for investment in the stock market.

SC BUDGET AUDIT: The PAC was informed by its secretariat that it had written to the Supreme Court chief justice a letter complaining that despite repeated requests the court registrar was not appearing before the committee to inform it about the audit of SC budget.

The PAC has been asking the Supreme Court to get its audit done as per regulations. ….

Read more: → DAWN.COM