Tag Archives: border

In mountain camps, Pakistan Taliban train for death

By Saud Mehsud

LADDA, Pakistan (Reuters)- Pakistan’s Taliban say they have started peace talks, but in a mountain camp young recruits learn how to mount ambushes, raid military facilities and undertake the most coveted missions — suicide bombings.

“America, NATO and other countries could do nothing to us despite having nuclear weapons,” said Shamim Mehsud, a senior Taliban commander training the fighters who hold AK-47 assault rifles and cover their faces with white cloth.

“Our suicide bombers turn their bones into bullets, flesh into explosives and blood into petrol and bravely fight them, and they have no answer to that.”

On Saturday the deputy commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, or Taliban Movement of Pakistan, said exploratory peace talks with the U.S.-backed government were underway.

Pakistan’s prime minister denied this and said Pakistan would negotiate only if the group, which has been waging a four-year insurgency, laid down its arms.

There are no signs they intend to do that in the camp in South Waziristan near the Afghan border. It is in unruly tribal areas like this where the umbrella group is entrenched.

Taliban commanders escorted a small group of journalists, including a Reuters reporter, to the remote camp. To get there without running into army checkpoints, they drove to North Waziristan …

Read more » Reuters

On the run with Pakistan’s Taliban

By AFP

BANNU: Nothing terrifies Pakistani Taliban fighter Tariq Wazir more than US drones, a harbinger of instant death invisible to the naked eye and proof of America’s mastery of the skies.

Each time he hears the low hum reminiscent of a bumble bee, fear clutches his heart and he remembers how 20 of his comrades were pulverised by missiles they never saw coming in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Gone are the days of communicating by phone and travelling freely. Instead he spends his days praying or reading newspapers in safe houses, moving under the cover of darkness, trying to keep one step ahead and stay alive.

An AFP reporter was this week given a tantalising glimpse of the day-to-day life of a group of Pakistani Taliban, travelling with them for four days between safe houses in North Waziristan.

He and three other journalists were invited to interview the head of the faction, Hakimullah Mehsud, or “another top Taliban leader” but the interview never materialised, due to what the Taliban said were “security reasons”.

Instead, they spent each night on the move, resting by day in relatively comfortable mud-brick homes with kitchens, running water and toilets, offered freshly cooked meals and fizzy drinks.

It was a relatively sophisticated logistics operation that shows how embedded the Taliban are in North Waziristan, where the Pakistani military has resisted US pressure to launch a sweeping offensive. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

Zardari Survives? But At What Cost? How Long?

By Aziz Narejo

Looks Zardari has survived another attack. This time it seemed to be fatal one. There must have been some collateral damage. Soon we may know its extent. But no one should be complacent. This will by no means be the last attack against the president & the democratic system by his haters & anti democracy forces. They might have already put the things in process for their next move.

It is for certain that the things will remain the way they have been for long until some basic questions are addressed. The powers that be have to be reined in. They have to be made to respect the Constitution. The national question will have to be settled. And the provinces will have to be given their full rights.

Courtesy: Indus Herald

U.S. Troops Could Stay in Afghanistan Past 2014

U.S. Troops Could Stay in Afghanistan Past Deadline, Envoy Says

By ROD NORDLAND

The ambassador, Ryan C. Crocker, speaking at a roundtable event with a small group of journalists, said that if the Afghan government wanted American troops to stay longer, the withdrawal could be slowed. “They would have to ask for it,” he said. “I could certainly see us saying, ‘Yeah, makes sense.’ ” ….

Read more » The New York Times

Pakistan Taliban ‘in peace talks’

Pakistan Taliban’s deputy Mohammad admits peace talks

The Pakistan Taliban is in peace talks with the country’s government, the group’s deputy commander has said.

Maulvi Faqir Mohammad said the focus was on the Bajaur tribal area bordering Afghanistan, and that if successful, talks could be extended to other areas.

He said 145 Taliban prisoners had been freed as a goodwill gesture and the authorities wanted a ceasefire.

It is the first time a top Taliban commander has confirmed negotiations. There has been no government comment.

“Our talks are going in the right direction,” Reuters news agency quotes Mr Mohammad as saying.

The BBC’s Orla Guerin in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, says that in the past such negotiations have backfired allowing the militants time to re-group.

There are also doubts about whether or not any possible peace treaty would be observed by all of the factions in the Pakistan Taliban, which is an increasingly fractured alliance, she says.

In October, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik said talks would only be held if the group disarmed. ….

Read more » BBC

News – Afghanistan: National Front Asks UN to Investigate Kabul Attack

The National Front Party on Thursday asked the UN to investigate the Kabul suicide attack which took place on Tuesday at Abul Fazl Shrine.

The National Front Leader Ahmad Zia Massoud said he welcomed and supported the decision made by Afghan government. He also stressed that investigation about the incident would be in the interest of Afghanistan.

“If the Afghan president is really intending to investigate about the issue and discuss it with Pakistan, a UN delegation should be assigned to investigate certain parts of the incident. The outcomes would be good, I think because Afghans have always had defensive strategy and have been silent towards all such incidents. This has caused Pakistani Generals to do whatever they want inside Afghanistan,” Mr Massoud said.

On Wednesday President Karzai said that he will investigate about the issue with the help of international community.

“Jhangvi is based in Pakistan. So, the Afghan government, with the support of the international community, will follow up on the issue. Afghanistan will never forgive the wounding of innocent children,” Mr Karzai said.

The deadly suicide attack at Abul Fazl Shrine in Kabul took the lives of more than 59 people and nearly 200 people were wounded in the incident.

Lashkari Jhangvi which is based in Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Courtesy » ToloNews

Attack on NATO oil tankers in Quetta. Big Fire – More then 40 tankers burnt to ashes.

Courtesy: Geo Tv News » YouTube

More details » DAWN.COM

ISI is under nobody’s control and always keeps its hand in politics, says Mansoor Ijaz

ISI always keeps its hand in politics: Ijaz

The S Branch of the ISI was involved in manipulating elections in Pakistan: Mansoor Ijaz

ISLAMABAD: The principal character in the memogate scandal, Mansoor Ijaz, has said that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is under nobody’s control and always keeps its hand in politics.

In an interview with CNN host Fareed Zakaria, Mr Ijaz said: “The ISI has two critical branches in it. One is called CT, for counter-terrorism, and the other one is called S Branch for strategic —it’s sort of the arm of the ISI that does everything from political interventions in other countries, for example, Afghanistan, which is what they’re doing through the Haqqani network and the Taliban right now.”

He said the ISI was an organ of the state that nobody could control. “And it is essentially the organ of the state that the army and the intelligence wings are using to, shall we say, coordinate or obstruct what it is that the political side of the government, the civilian side of the governments do in Pakistan,” he said.

Mr Ijaz said the ISI does a lot of political interventions in its own country as it has been reported in the past by Pakistani press that S Branch was involved in manipulating elections and doing things of that nature inside Pakistan.

“Now, there have been so many wrong things that have happened since the death of Bin Laden in the early part of May, so many things that indicated some hidden hand, if you will, in what was going on,” Mr Ijaz said.

Mansoor Ijaz, who claimed himself a ‘messenger’ for a memo from Pakistan’s civilian government to the Pentagon asking Washington to clamp down on Pakistan’s military, said he had been involved in different operations in Pakistan now for a very long time. However, he did not mention that what kind of operations these were. ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

1st December night was a horrific night for President Zardari, he was certain that he would get arrested!

To read the story in urdu, CLICK HERE.

Courtesy» AHWAAL.COM via » Siasat.pk

Source » http://ahwaal.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2302%3A2011-12-06-01-38-02&catid=31%3A2011-08-25-09-52-49&Itemid=35&lang=ur#.Tt50zWu8Yek.facebook

 

‘Pakistani army is installing a dictatorship, without a coup’: Bruce Riedel

According to Bruce Riedel, “the Pakistani army is gradually installing a new military dictatorship, without even needing to resort to a coup”. Mr. Bruce Riedel says that “The new military dictatorship that is emerging in Pakistan will be very different from its predecessors.” He added “The facade of civilian government is likely to continue to go on… with very little real power. The media will continue to be very active and alive, except when they criticize the military.” ….

Read more » RUPEE NEWS

Pakistan recalls troops from border posts

By Rob Crilly, Islamabad and Ben Farmer in Kabul

Islamabad has already closed its borders to Nato supply convoys in protest and withdrawn from a Bonn conference to discuss the future of Afghanistan.

A US investigation into the incident is due to report on December 23.

Officials in Pakistan say an American major passed incorrect coordinates to his Pakistani counterpart for the air strike, an account which is not being disputed by American officers.

Major General Athar Abbas, Pakistan’s military spokesman, said the decision to recall officers from the joint border posts was not intended as a protest. …

Read more » telegraph.co.uk

Sen. John McCain and Graham warn Pakistan about killing US troops

STATEMENT BY SENATORS McCAIN AND GRAHAM ON PAKISTAN

December 5, 2011 – Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today released the following statement on Pakistan:

“We fully appreciate the importance of U.S. relations with Pakistan, which we believe can serve U.S. national security interests. The cross-border air action that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers was unfortunate and unintentional, and we are confident that the investigation being conducted by NATO and the U.S. military will clarify the circumstances of this terrible tragedy. We join the President and our colleagues in once again expressing our deep condolences to those who lost loved ones.

The Pakistani government’s response to these events, however, has been deeply troubling and has added to the continued deterioration of our relationship. In recent days, the government has prevented NATO supplies from entering Afghanistan through Pakistan. It has ordered U.S. intelligence officers to leave the country and disrupted their work on important national security matters. And it has boycotted an international conference in Bonn, Germany that supports peace in Afghanistan.

“If these actions were not concerning enough, there were reports just this morning that the Pakistani government has allegedly decided to suspend all bilateral agreements related to counterterrorism, as part of a broader review of Pakistan’s political, diplomatic, and military relations with the United States. Such steps by the Pakistani government would mark a new low for our relationship.

“The United States has been incredibly patient with Pakistan. And we have been so despite certain undeniable and deeply disturbing facts. Most importantly, Pakistani army and intelligence officials continue to support the Haqqani Network and other terrorist groups in Pakistan that are killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and the vast majority of the material used to make improvised explosive devices used against U.S. forces in Afghanistan originates from two fertilizer factories inside Pakistan.

“The time has come for the United States to fully review its relations with Pakistan. We must assess the nature and levels of our support for Pakistan. In particular, all options regarding U.S. security and economic assistance to Pakistan must be on the table, including substantial reductions and stricter standards for performance. Most of all, U.S. policy toward Pakistan must proceed from the realistic understanding that certain actions of Pakistan’s military are contributing to the death and injury of our men and women in the military and jeopardizing our national security interests.

“In light of what could be an entirely new relationship with Pakistan, the United States and our allies must develop contingency plans to ensure the continued logistical support necessary for our military operations in Afghanistan.”

Courtesy » http://mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressOffice.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=10974d5c-9375-faca-6f92-4026304d9334

Criticized at home, Pakistan army defends its lack of air response during deadly NATO attack

By Associated Press

ISLAMABAD — Confusion and a communication breakdown prevented Pakistan’s airforce from scrambling to defend troops on the ground during the deadly NATO bombing last weekend of two border outposts, the military said Friday, responding to rare domestic criticism of the powerful institution.

The attack killed 24 Pakistani troops and pushed already strained ties between Washington and Islamabad over the future of Afghanistan close to rupture. Islamabad has closed its eastern border to NATO supplies traveling into landlocked Afghanistan and said it is reviewing its cooperation with Washington.

Thousands of Islamist extremists took to the streets across the country after Friday prayers, some shouting they would join the army in a battle with the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. The chants were a worrying sign for the West, reflecting how the anger over the incident is uniting hard-liners and the military.

Others rallied against the country’s already weak government for its alliance with Washington.

The Pakistani military, which eats up most of the country’s budget and is accountable to no one, has said Saturday’s border attack was an “act of deliberate aggression” that went on for close two hours. It has also said that Pakistani commanders contacted and pleaded with coalition commanders to stop firing.

NATO and U.S. officials have disputed that account, which has triggered uncomfortable questions in this South Asian country over why Pakistan’s own fighter jets and helicopters stationed close to the border did not take off to defend the ground troops during the attack.

The military has said troops did fire back at the NATO choppers when they attacked.

A Pakistani military statement on Friday said the response could have been more “effective” if the airforce had been called in, but this was not possible because of a “breakdown of communication” and confusion at “various levels” within the organization. …

Read more » The Washington Post

Source – http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/criticized-at-home-pakistan-army-defends-its-lack-of-air-response-during-deadly-nato-attack/2011/12/02/gIQAkQaYJO_story.html

via » Siasat.pk

Pakistan Resumes Some Cooperation With NATO

– NATO says Pakistan has resumed some cooperation with U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan following NATO strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

A NATO spokesman, German Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, said Islamabad communicated with the alliance to prevent an exchange of fire over the border late on November 29 from turning into another international incident.

Jacobson also expressed hope that Pakistan’s cooperation in resolving the incident in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktia Province signaled the two sides could recover from the recent tragedy.

Earlier, a senior Pakistani Army official was quoted as saying the cross-border air attack by NATO forces in Afghanistan that killed the Pakistani soldiers was a “deliberate” act of aggression against Pakistani forces.

The remarks by Major General Ashfaq Nadeem, director-general of military operations, were quoted in Pakistani newspapers. ….

Read more » RFERL

NATO Strike on Pakistan

The language of the discussion is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy » Rawal (Focus with Waqas Munawar, 29th Nov 2011)

Via » Siasat.pk » YouTube

The Generals Have No Clothes

Islamabad’s generals have been sponsoring the deaths of Americans for years, and yet Obama does nothing. Why?

BY KAPIL KOMIREDDI

Pakistan is indignant about the killing of 25 of its troops in a NATO air raid on Saturday. The circumstances that led to the assault are still unknown, but Washington and Europe have expressed contrition and promised an investigation. Pakistan has every reason to feel angry. But after a suitable period of mourning, shouldn’t the United States, in the interests of fairness if nothing else, ask the Pakistani army if it plans ever to apologize for — or, at bare minimum, acknowledge — its role in the deaths of hundreds of coalition forces and many more Afghan civilians?

At the start of the 21st century, the United States offered Pakistan a very straightforward ultimatum: Join us in the war against terrorism inaugurated by al Qaeda’s attacks on 9/11 — or find yourself bombed to the Stone Age. In the decade since, Pakistan has arguably been responsible for more American deaths than any other state on earth. Yet Pakistan has not only evaded prosecution for its crimes. In a staggering turn of events, its army has found its program of sponsoring the slaughter of American troops in Afghanistan by the Taliban and al Qaeda amply subsidized by Washington. ….

Read more » Foreign Policy

What next for Pakistan’s army? By Sadanand Dhume

Excerpt;

…. On November 30 we’ll host a panel discussion at AEI to discuss the situation in Pakistan and what it means for the United States. Our focus will be on the Pakistani army, the country’s most powerful institution by a long measure. If the United States and Pakistan are to avoid the recurrence of incidents like this weekend’s, their armies will need to work out clearer ways of communicating along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. At the same time, if Pakistan’s fledgling democracy is to have a chance of flowering, its generals will have to give up their virtual monopoly on their country’s policies toward Afghanistan and India, and also develop a keener appreciation for the idea of civil supremacy than they have managed thus far.

To read complete article » http://blog.american.com/2011/11/what-next-for-pakistans-army/

Pakistan’s Border Outrage – A break with America isn’t in Islamabad’s best interests.

Pakistan’s porous border with Afghanistan was an accident waiting to happen, and the crash finally occurred with Saturday’s clashes involving U.S. forces that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistanis are furious with America, yet more worrying is that they continue to be in denial about what’s causing this relationship to unravel.

The pattern is familiar. When Navy SEALs raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in a Pakistani military garrison town in May, Islamabad condemned the action as an assault on its sovereignty and scaled back military ties. Now Pakistan has shut its western border to NATO supply trucks headed into Afghanistan …

Read more » THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

NATO’s perilous Kunar mission

By Tim Lister

The mistaken NATO air attack on Pakistani military outposts at the weekend, in which 24 soldiers were killed, was an accident waiting to happen.

The border between Pakistan and the Afghan province of Kunar is probably the most volatile of the entire 1,500-mile frontier that divides the two countries. It is rugged, remote and home to a variety of insurgent groups – including the Taliban (both Afghan and Pakistani), al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network and the Hezbi Islami Group run by veteran warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In the words of one Afghan analyst, Kunar represents “the perfect storm.”

READ also Pakistani-U.S. relations back at the bottom

In addition to the sheer number of insurgents in Kunar, the border with Pakistan – amid peaks and ravines – is not clearly marked, and in some places disputed.

Nor was it the first such accident. On June 10th 2008, US troops and their Afghan allies engaged Taliban fighters some 200 yards inside Afghanistan – along the same stretch of border. Grainy video from a U.S. surveillance drone that day showed a half-dozen Taliban retreating into what the US military said was Pakistani territory. Several air strikes followed using precision bombs. The U.S. military insisted none hit any structure. But Pakistan maintained eleven soldiers were killed and described the attack as “completely unprovoked and cowardly.”

That incident took place in daylight; the firefight at the weekend was at night. And since 2008, the border between Kunar and the Pakistani tribal agency of Mohmand has become even more violent. Attempts by U.S. forces to build combat outposts close to the border have provoked firefights lasting several hours; resupply convoys are greeted with roadside IEDs and ambushes.

To further complicate the picture, Pakistani forces frequently fire artillery into Kunar against Pakistani Taliban elements who use Afghan territory. At least one senior Pakistan Taliban leader, Mullah Fazlullah, is said to take refuge in Kunar after being driven out of Pakistan’s Swat Valley in 2009. …

Read more » http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/28/natos-perilous-kunar-mission/?hpt=hp_bn4

General Kayani has ordered the military to firmly respond to NATO

Pakistan alerts forces over NATO raids

(Nov 27, 2011) The commander of the Pakistan’s army has ordered the country’s military to firmly respond to ‘irresponsible’ NATO attacks on the country’s territory.

On Saturday, Pakistan’s Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani condemned the US-led NATO helicopter strikes on two military checkpoints in the country’s northwest, which killed 28 soldiers earlier in the day, English-language domestic daily the Nation reported.

General Kayani ordered that the Pakistani forces make necessary arrangements for retaliatory measures, should the Western military alliance repeat such offensives. ….

Read more » PressTV

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/212359.html

via » Siasat.pk

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Click here to read » Gen. Kiyani’s previous statement October 20, 2011: Think 10 times before you raid us, Kayani warns US – Indian Express

Pakistan is a nuclear power — unlike Afghanistan or Iraq — and the US would have to think “10 times” before it begins unilateral action in North Waziristan, Pak army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has told parliament, media reports said ….

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/think-10-times-before-you-raid-us-kayani-warns-us/862508/

Tensions High Between U.S. and Pakistan After Strike – New York Times

Tensions Flare Between U.S. and Pakistan After Strike

By SALMAN MASOOD and ERIC SCHMITT

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani officials said on Saturday that NATO aircraft had killed at least 25 soldiers in strikes against two military posts at the northwestern border with Afghanistan, and the country’s supreme army commander called them unprovoked acts of aggression in a new flash point between the United States and Pakistan.

The Pakistani government responded by ordering the Central Intelligence Agency to vacate the drone operations it runs from Shamsi Air Base, in western Pakistan, within 15 days. It also closed the two main NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, including the one at Torkham. ….

Read more » The New York Times

Nato air attack on Pakistani troops was self-defence, says senior western official

US-Pakistan relations strained further after attack allegedly kills up to 28 and prompts ban on Nato trucks crossing Afghan border

By Jon Boone in Kabul

An attack by Nato aircraft on Pakistani troops that allegedly killed as many as 28 soldiers and looks set to further poison relations between the US and Pakistan was an act of self-defence, a senior western official has claimed.

According to the Kabul-based official, a joint US-Afghan force operating in the mountainous Afghan frontier province of Kunar was the first to come under attack in the early hours of Saturday morning, forcing them to return fire. ….

Read more » guardian.co.uk

via » Siasat.pk

NATO choppers kill up to 28 Pakistani troops. Pakistan shuts supply route for U.S. soldiers. Expect further deterioration in Pak-U.S. relations

Officials: NATO choppers kill up to 28 Pakistani troops

NATO commander expresses condolences to relatives of any Pakistani soldiers who ‘may have been killed or injured’

NATO aircraft attacked a military checkpoint in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, killing up to 28 troops and prompting Pakistan to shut the vital supply route for NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistani officials said.

In a statement sent to reporters, the Pakistan military blamed NATO for Friday’s attack in the Mohmand tribal area, saying helicopters “carried out unprovoked and indiscriminate firing.”

The attack comes as relations between the United States and Pakistan — its ally in the war on militancy — are already badly strained following the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces in a secret raid on the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad in May. …

Read more » MSNBC

Get out, leave Afghanistan to Pakistan

Get out, leave Af to Pak

By Shekhar Gupta

The sharply polarised political debate on the nuclear deal was the most significant instance of the so-called holy national consensus on foreign policy breaking in India. Some of this spirit keeps returning vis-a-vis Pakistan any time the government reaches out to Pakistan, or when there is another terror attack. But beyond that, the larger consensus remains intact. It is not healthy for a democracy, and particularly not when it has a strategic community that has had even greater continuity than its establishment economists, defying all changes of government, leaders, ideology. That is why the time has come to question, or at least intellectually challenge, some other aspects of this lazy “consensus”. Even at the risk of inviting the charge of apostasy, therefore, the time might have come to question the wisdom and prudence of our totally unquestioned, un-debated idea of engaging in a dirty little cold war with Pakistan in Afghanistan once the Americans withdraw from there.

Today, everybody seems to be accepting the idea that Afghanistan is of great strategic significance to India, and we can neither cede it to Pakistan, nor leave them to fill the power vacuum that the Americans will leave behind. Similarly, that this is the Great Game country, and we are back to the Great Game, somehow inheriting the mantle of the British power in the 19th century, except that we might have to deal with an additional distraction called Pakistan. Further, that Afghanistan is a resource (mineral)-rich land where we have future commercial stakes, and is a gateway to Central Asia, making transit rights of such paramount importance for us.

There is some truth to some, but not all, of these. But the larger picture may look very different on closer examination. Also, engaging in a policy that puts us permanently and, inevitably, violently at odds with the Pakistanis is an idea that is being accepted much too readily. As if this is our destiny, part of an ongoing blood feud. As if we have no choice.

All of this, frankly, is lazy, self-serving rubbish, dished out by a strategic establishment that suffers terminally from a cold war mindset, and does not quite know, like all bigger powers (the US included), when to declare victory, and when to cut its losses.

The more curious thing is, some of this is happening under a prime minister who never tires of exhorting his policy-makers to “think out of the box” and a national security advisor who has built a formidable reputation for doing exactly this, not just now but over many decades of diplomatic service.

What kind of strategic importance does Afghanistan have for us now? Yes, we need transit to Central Asia. But to reach Afghanistan, we have to first persuade the Pakistanis to grant us transit. The more we jostle with them for influence in Afghanistan, the lesser the chances of their being so nice to us. Yes, Afghanistan is resource-rich and the Chinese may get there if we are not there. But what are we, meanwhile, doing with our own mineral resources? So many of our mines are shut, or not accessible. We might get a hundred times more value by either fighting, or bribing (as everybody eventually does with insurgents in Afghanistan), our own Maoists to be able to exploit our own mines. And the Chinese will get there before us anyway. And yes, there will be a power vacuum in Afghanistan. It will still be a country of great strategic importance. But for whom, is the question. It will be of no strategic importance to us. None of our supplies or trade come to Afghanistan. None of our bad guys hide there. No Afghan has ever been involved in a terror attack on India. In fact, almost never has a terror attack on us been even planned in the more precise Af-Pak region. They have all been planned and executed between Muzaffarabad, Muridke, Karachi and Multan. Almost never has an Afghan, Pakhtun, Baluch, Tajik, any ethnicity, been involved in a terror attack in India. It’s always been the Punjabis. Ask anybody in the Indian army who has served in Kashmir and he will tell you that the intruders he fought were exactly of the same ethnic stock as the bulk of the Pakistani army he may have to fight in a real war: the Punjabi Muslims.

Yes, as we said earlier, Afghanistan is still a country of great strategic importance. But for Pakistan, and certainly not for us. Pakistan has a long, unsettled border with it and a more-than-latent irredentist Pathan sentiment on both sides of the Durand Line that it dreads spinning out of control as (and if) Afghanistan breaks up along north-south-west ethnic lines. From tribal ties, to funny trade-links, like gun and drug-running, an unsettled Afghanistan will be a permanent thorn in Pakistan’s side when six divisions of its army are already not able to get the measure of the armed anarchy in FATA. Why should India then get into this unwinnable mess? More importantly, why should India give the Pakistani army and the ISI just what they need, a great, holy, moral justification to pour into Afghanistan to “fight the Indian challenge”?

Leave Afghanistan to the Pakistanis. If the Pakistani army thinks it can fix, subdue and control Afghanistan, after the British, Soviets and Americans have failed to do precisely this at the peak of each one’s superpower-dom, why not let the Pakistanis try their hand at it? If they pour another ten divisions and half of the ISI into that hapless country now, isn’t it that much of a relief for us on our western borders? What could serve our strategic interests better than having the Pakistanis discover a permanent strategic threat/ challenge/ opportunity along their western borders? Won’t that be some relief?

And if the Pakistani army thinks it can succeed in a mission in which their mightier predecessors, the British and the Soviet empires and the Americans, failed, good luck to them. Because it will fulfil a fantasy of “strategic depth” they have nursed since they were rocked by totally fictional visions of massive Indian tank assaults through the desert cutting their mainland into two during General Sundarji’s Operation Brasstacks in 1987. It is since then that the Pakistani strategic establishment has been seeking “strategic depth” in Afghanistan. Now, if any army wants to seek the “depth” of Afghanistan for its armour, vital air force assets, or even nukes, good luck to them. In fact, it would be interesting to see how the rest of the world, particularly the Americans, would react if such a thing was even contemplated. Far from being a security asset ever, Afghanistan, for the Pakistani army, will be exactly what it has been for any other invading army in its history: a permanent Waterloo in slow motion.

So shall we leave the Pakistani army and ISI to their own devices in Afghanistan? Whether they fail or succeed, it will confirm only one widely held view in the global strategic community: that howsoever dashing it may be tactically, the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment’s strategic thinking emerges not from its brains but that some place lower down in human anatomy. Maybe then, the best way we can serve our own strategic interests in Afghanistan is to stay out of their way.

Courtesy » Indian Express

Is Pakistani Military looking for a new Civilian Partner?

By Khalid Hashmani

The South Asia Studies Program of the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) arranged a discussion with prominent Pakistani journalist and editor-in-chief of “The Friday Times” Mr. Najam Sethi on Monday, November 7, 2011. The former Pakistani ambassador Touqir Hussain, who is a senior Pakistan fellow at SAIS, moderated the discussion. The session was titled “Tail Wags the Dog: US-Pak Relations and Internal Dynamics of Pakistan”. Mr. Sethi impressed audience with his wit and some amusing stories about Pakistan. It appeared that he was trying to leave the message that Pakistan’s two main political parties PPP and PML-N are now outdated and that Mr. Imran Khan is now the darling of the Pakistan military and Media.

US and Pakistan Relations

Mr. Touqir Hussain began the discussion by telling the Americans in audience that “You are in conflict with someone, whose help you need!” He said that “media” and “military” are the most powerful players in determining what happens next in Pakistan.

Najam Sethi started his remarks by saying that he was in the United States to “recharge his batteries” but never explained what he meant by that. He said that four years back, although Americans thought Musharraf as a good friend, they concluded that to be more effective Pakistan needed a government that had both civilian and military participation. Since Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif were old adversaries, PPP was encouraged to be that civilian partner with Musharraf. However, the partnership between PPP and Musharraf could not be sustained because PPP viewed Mr. Musharraf as one of the murderer of Benazir Bhutto and Musharraf could never trust PPP.

After the success of the Osama Bin Laden operation, U.S. asked the Pakistani government if they would like to also take credit for the success of mission and join in a joint statement. Mr. Sethi said that Zardari was very keen to join in that joint statement that Pakistanis and in the support of this argument referred to an article published in the Washington Post newspaper under the name of Asif Zardari. Then very quickly, Mr. Sethi added that President Zardari really did not write that article as he could not even write five paragraphs straight, It was written by the current Ambassador of Pakistan to USA, Mr. Haqqani.

On the question of the China card that Pakistan could play, Mr. Sethi said that is an over blown notion since the relationship so far has not achieved the advertised results. For one thing, the cheap imports of small goods from China have all but destroyed the small industry in Pakistan. For another, the Chinese are reluctant to extend credit facilities. He noted sarcastically that yet that view of some in Pakistan is that the Chinese should not be criticized because they can do no wrong.

While the civilian government was ready to quickly patch up the Raymond Davis case based on the excuse of diplomatic immunity, the military through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Punjab government vetoed that idea initially. The ambassador of Pakistan was saying something else and the Foreign Ministry was saying something else. By taking such actions, Pakistan Military had discredited the civilian government and elevated themselves in the eye of public, which is largely become anti-American. Military is not doing anything to discourage anti-Americanism in Pakistan.

Once people disagreed were called “Indian Agents” now if you disagree, you are labeled as “American agent”. Mr. Sethi added that calling someone an “American agent” in Pakistan has become an invitation to be killed.

When American announced the decision to leave Afghanistan and gave a withdrawal schedule, Pakistan Military has started to prepare for the post-withdrawal era. They seem to have concluded that they Military and Pakistan can survive without much US Aid through remittance of Pakistanis working overseas and continued IMF support. The Pakistani establishment thinks Al-Qaida and Massood group of Taliban are bad and can to be attacked, but the Haqqani wing of Taliban are considered good and need to be taken in confidence.

The Raymond Davis situation is when Pakistan military asserted that relationship between Pakistan and the US had to be redefined.

Mr. Sethi said that Pakistan military has won. They have the USA where they want it to be. America is now saying that Pakistan will have a central role in the development of Afghanistan. Mr. Sethi referred to a recent statement of US Secretary of State Clinton that Pakistan will have a “central” role including training some Afghani police and defense services units.

Is Pakistan Military looking for a new Civilian Partner?

At each and every crucial step, the military has fought with their current civilian partner (PPP) and is in no mood to let go their control of strategic decision-making process.

One year into its rule and encouraged by the USA, PPP announced that the civilian government was going to take control of ISI. A swift negative reaction from Pakistan military made PPP to back down from that decision within few hours. Citing another example of Pakistan Military’s rebuff to PPP, Mr. Sethi said that the Military went out of its way to criticize certain cosmetic language in the Kerry-Lugar bill. Sethi added that ordinarily, such clauses would not raise much reaction. However, the intensity with which Pakistan military criticized was very unusual and was aimed to send a message to both the civilian government and the USA that any agreement initialed by the civilian government must receive prior approval of the Pakistan military.

Mr. Sethi gave the example of Zardari’s initial attempt to have friendlier relations with India. As General Musharraf had begun the process of normalizing relations with India, President Zardari thought that the military still supports that view. When Zardari started showing warmth towards India proposing more concrete steps, he was cut to size as military told him that as he did not know much in this area, he better not cross certain boundaries.

There was a time when serious rumors were encouraged that PPP is not delivering goods so judiciary and military were going to jointly topple it. However, for some reason Army withdrew that support and later the judiciary also backed out. Imran Khan even talked about this in a TV interview so he may have been privy to that plan.

The indications are that the military does not like Nawaz Sharif for the following reasons:

1. He wants to normalize relations with India more than what they feel would be appropriate.  2. Wants military budget to be open to public.  3. Wants military to be under civilian control.

Zardari has realized that to complete the full term of his office, he and PPP have to accept the supremacy of military. Thus, in essence, PPP has become the party of the establishment. Yet, many of the cases of politicians being taken by the Pakistan judiciary seem to be against PPP and their allies.

Mr. Sethi reiterated that on key decisions, military calls the shots. Citing an example that some Media members claiming that they have more than 150 tapes showing atrocities of Taliban but they cannot show them for fear of reprisals by extremists. They went to the military to seek their permission. The military neither encouraged nor discouraged this. Later on, when the media decided not to show those tapes, the messages were sent to them that it was a right decision. He noted that political leaders are under attack day and night, but media cannot dare to criticize religious leaders and leaders of some sectarian groups such as MQM. The rule for criticizing the military is that it is not desirable to engage in any criticism.

Zardari has to go and Nawaz Sharif is not acceptable so they are ushering second son of Punjab Imran Khan. The D-Day for the change is arriving as politicians have lost credibility in the eyes of people.

Answering a question that when there is so many things going wrong, what people have to say (implying the elections) rather than rumors of corrective actions to be orchestrated by military and judiciary, Mr. Sethi said that the politicians in Pakistan are reflective what people say and do.

Military prefers a good “indirect” control rather than “direct” control. They have mastered the art of exercising indirect control. Although they want to make all strategic decisions.

The scenario that appears to be panning out is that there will be three main groups contesting the next elections (PPP, PML-N, and Imran Khan). PPP has traditional support of agriculturists mostly in Sindh but some in Punjab, Balochistan and its alliance with ANP and MQM. Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League has support in the Punjab heartland. Imran Khan, who is very vocal against American drone attacks and working with religious parties and younger urban voters, has been gaining popularity in Punjab and religious parties. Media is also supporting Imran Khan. In a close election and an era of intimidation, few thousands of religious voters in each constituency can make a big difference in winning or loosing that constituency.

Continue reading Is Pakistani Military looking for a new Civilian Partner?

Pakistani leader vows operations against Haqqanis

By Chris Brummitt

Excerpt;

ISLAMABAD (Associated Press) —Pakistan’s president promised to work with the United States to “eradicate” the militant Haqqani network, a pledge made during a meeting with visiting American congressmen, according to one of the lawmakers.

But the head of the Homeland Security delegation, Michael McCaul, downplayed the significance of the remarks, saying it was unclear whether President Asif Ali Zardari had the power to make good on his pledge, given the influence of the military in Pakistan. …

…. Zardari heads a democratically elected civilian government, but the military, which has ruled Pakistan for much of its existence, does not follow his orders when it comes to Afghan policy and other defense issues. McCaul said the American delegation asked to meet the Pakistani army and spy chiefs, but this was not possible.

The Pakistani military views neighboring India — and not Islamist militants at home — as the country’s biggest threat and sees Afghanistan through that lens. Consequently, Islamabad is widely believed to be reluctant to move against the Haqqanis because it sees them as potential allies against Indian influence in Afghanistan when America withdraws. ….

Read more » BOSTON.COM

Imran Khan: the 12th man rises…

by Omar Ali
Pakistan’s greatest cricketing hero and second most successful philanthropist entered politics 15 years ago, promising a progressive, Islamic, modern, corruption-free Pakistan. His position as the most successful captain in Pakistan’s cricket history, the founder of Pakistan’s finest cancer hospital (providing free modern cancer care to thousands) provided him instant cachet, but for a long time he was unable to convert this personal popularity into votes in actual elections. With a political platform heavy on slogans (particularly against corruption) but short on specifics and without any obvious connection to already existing grass-roots politics, he remained little more than a fixture on the talk-show circuit for a very long time. Brief flirtation with Pervez Musharraf also set him back, as did a tendency to spout fables about Jirgas and hobnob with jihadi ideologues like Hamid Gul. But his biggest problem was his failure to create a team that could carry his party forward. The Pakistani Tehreek e Insaf was a one man show, with Imran Khan its only impressive asset. Even in parties dominated by one strong leader, there are other leaders in the wings and a semi-coherent ideology that delivers a section of the vote-bank on ideological grounds alone. Imran had no visible team and no clear ideology beyond a promise to “eradicate corruption”.

He did seem to genuinely believe in the formulaic slogans and historical framework of the 6th grade “ideology of Pakistan” he learned in Aitcheson college. He has some vague notion of “the two nation theory” (basically, “we are not Indians”) and an even vaguer “respect” for Quaid E Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the Allama Iqbal, twin icons of Pakistan’s history. But like his middle class fans, it is a superficial and shallow belief system, with little to show beyond a few empty slogans like “Pakistan first”, “Islamic welfare state” and “we are all Pakistanis now, so we are no longer Punjabis, Sindhis, Pakhtoons or Balochis”. Behind the automatic repetitions of such slogans there does lurk an odor of “one folk, one party, one leader” fascism (as it does behind all crude nationalisms) but this is not to imply that Imran Khan is consciously thinking of leading a fascist takeover of Pakistan. His commitment to some notion of democracy seems genuine enough, though his priority (and this is not unusual among middle class nationalists) is nationalism, not democracy; in a crisis, he can easily convince himself that we may have to kill democracy to save the country. In any case, lacking organization and experience and without a good grasp of actual grass-roots politics, he was easily brushed aside by older established political parties.

Continue reading Imran Khan: the 12th man rises…

Imran Khan Factor

– Pakistani first and last

By: Humayun Gauhar

My last article left me depressed me in the writing of it. I ended by asking: “Is there anything positive?” Yes there are, but they get submerged in the negative that outnumber and outweigh them. It depressed some others too in the reading of it. Unpleasant truths always hurt, and none more so than to their purveyor. It is an unpopular but necessary thing to do if one is to transform negative to positive. Someone has to take the jump: who better than one who can walk the plank. Else it’s betraying a God-given ability. Such abilities come with a purpose. Like Iqbal said: Mujhay hai hukm-e-azan, La Ilaha il Allah –“I have been ordained to speak the Truth: ‘There is no god but God’.”

Those who take unpleasant truths seriously have a chance of correction. Those who take refuge in misplaced patriotism stand still. Instead, they question the truth’s purveyor or take comfort in making comparisons to those worse off. They forget that it is the message that is important, not the messenger. Such people are typical ostriches – if I don’t see something, it doesn’t exist.

Look at the scorecard of the political match in Lahore last Sunday. Winner (by default): Asif Zardari: Loser: Nawaz Sharif. Man of the Match: Imran Khan. ‘The Imran Factor’ has burst into the national political equation and drawing room chatter – positive for many, an unpleasant truth for some. Why? Because whatever his detractors might say, Imran has been telling the truth for 15 years.

Continue reading Imran Khan Factor

Fifteen Ways ISI Twists the Afghanistan Story – By Melissa Roddy

– Make no mistake, withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan, before the country is strong enough to defend itself, would not result in peace for the Afghan people.  It would result in a repeat of the horrors of the 1990s, when, according to Human Rights Watch, over 400,000 Afghans were killed.

Recently, Benjamin Barber published an editorial entitled 15 REASONS WHY WE CAN’T WIN IN AFGHANISTAN.  I want to thank him for neatly putting in one convenient place so many of the common distortions and lies propagated by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (“ISI”) to encourage the United States and our allies to abandon the Afghan people, who have suffered grievously for well over 30 years at the hands of various ISI sponsored criminals.

Below in italics are his jingoistic “15 Reasons,” thoroughly refuted, point by point.

Continue reading Fifteen Ways ISI Twists the Afghanistan Story – By Melissa Roddy