Tag Archives: Kabul

Iran, India, Afghanistan sign transit accord on Chabahar port

TEHRAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Monday signed a three-way transit agreement on Iran’s southern port of Chabahar.

India said it will invest up to $500 million in a deal to develop a strategic port in Iran and both countries planned a number of projects they say are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Today is an important and historical day of development of relations between the three countries,” Rouhani said in a televised speech, seated between the two other leaders.

“From Tehran, New Delhi and Kabul, this is a crucial message … that the path to progress for regional countries goes through joint cooperation and utilising regional opportunities.”

Modi said: “We want to link to the world, but connectivity among ourselves is also a priority.”

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1260176

Six U.S. troops killed by suicide bomber in Afghanistan

BY MIRWAIS HAROONI AND PHIL STEWART

KABUL/WASHINGTON – Six American troops were killed in Afghanistan on Monday when a suicide bomber on a motorbike struck their patrol near Bagram air base, a U.S. official said, in the latest high-profile attack claimed by Taliban insurgents.

Just days ago, the Pentagon warned of deteriorating security in Afghanistan in the second half of 2015 and a rise in the number of effective strikes by Taliban insurgents.

NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Kabul said that the attack killed six Resolute Support troops and wounded three others but declined to provide the nationalities of casualties.

A U.S. official said all six killed were Americans. More than 2,300 U.S. troops have died in the Afghan war since the 2001 invasion.

The police chief of Parwan province said three Afghan police had been wounded in the bombing, which was carried out just days after other suicide attacks on Kandahar air base in southern Afghanistan and on a Spanish embassy guesthouse in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Bagram, around 40 km (25 miles) to the north of Kabul, is one of the main bases for the 9,800 U.S. troops left in Afghanistan after international troops ended combat operations last year.

District Governor Abdul Shukur Qudusi said the suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a joint U.S.-Afghan patrol.

The attack underlined the Taliban’s ability to hit high-profile targets linked to the U.S.-backed government, which wants to reopen the peace process aimed at ending the 14-year-long insurgency.

On Monday, Taliban forces in Helmand closed in on the district of Sangin as they tightened their grip on the volatile southern province.

Read more » Reuters
See more » http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-attack-idUKKBN0U418520151221

Pakistan embassy staff in Kabul limits movement

By Tahir Khan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani diplomats and staffers of the country’s embassy in Kabul have been forced to restrict their movement following an alleged kidnapping bid and growing incidents of harassment, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Sources said some unidentified men tried to abduct an official of the Pakistani embassy in the Shehr-e-Nau area of Kabul on Tuesday, forcing him to postpone a meeting scheduled for the day and return to embassy premises.

“Embassy officials have spotted some people taking videos of the normal movement of Pakistani diplomats entering or exiting the embassy as well,” a source said. A senior Pakistani embassy official was also recently stopped at a police check post for two hours allegedly by agents of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s premier intelligence agency.

“The Pakistani embassy will not be able to continue to function in such a situation,” the source said.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/945500/growing-harassment-pakistan-embassy-staff-in-kabul-limits-movement/

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani slams Pakistan over recent Kabul attacks

By AFP

KABUL: Afghan president Ashraf Ghani lambasted neighbouring Pakistan today over a recent wave of insurgent attacks in the capital Kabul that killed at least 56 people.

“The last few days have shown that suicide bomber training camps and bomb-producing factories which are killing our people are as active as before in Pakistan,” Ghani told a news conference.

“We hoped for peace but we are receiving messages of war from Pakistan.”

Pakistan has historically supported the Taliban insurgents and many Afghans accuse it of nurturing militant sanctuaries on its soil in the hope of maintaining influence in Afghanistan.

Read more » The Times of India
See more » http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Afghan-president-Ashraf-Ghani-slams-Pakistan-over-recent-Kabul-attacks/articleshow/48424463.cms
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More details » BBC urdu
http://www.bbc.com/urdu/regional/2015/08/150810_kabul_blast_fz

A Pessimist Guide to the World in 2015

Excerpt: Skirmishes in the South China Sea lead to full-scale naval confrontation. Israel bombs Iran, setting off an escalation of violence across the Middle East. Nigeria crumbles as oil prices fall and radicals gain strength. Bloomberg News asked foreign policy analysts, military experts, economists and investors to identify the possible worst-case scenarios, based on current global conflicts, that concern them most heading into 2015.

Afghanistan/ Pakistan – Potential Flashpoint:

Taliban militants in the mountainous Pashtun-dominated regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan link up with Islamic State. They make progress in their quest to take power in Kabul and Islamabad as the U.S. reduces its troop presence.

India/ Pakistan – Potential Flashpoint:

A terrorist attack occurs on the scale of Mumbai in 2008, when luxury hotels and a train station were attacked by a Pakistan-based militant group. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is pressured into a harsh response, triggering a crisis between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

Read more » Bloomberg
Learn more » http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-flash-points/?hootPostID=8ac47b59f9f297f5aa7664a1fc7b7a8a

 

PAKISTAN’S DOMESTIC JIHAD

By: Vikram Sood

Pakistan watchers would not find the current spate of terror in that country surprising because there has been a steady escalation in its lethality, its dramatic impact, geographical range and targets for some years. And that this has been mostly within Pakistan except for the attacks against Indian interests in Kabul and Mumbai in recent years. No one perhaps really noticed that Pakistani jihadis nurtured fondly for years, had gone into a catharsis of sorts soon after President Musharraf announced in September 2001 that he was reversing jihad. He was going to support the US in the war on terror in Afghanistan and, by implication, against some Pakistani jihadis. Musharraf had apparently been overawed by Washington’s “either you are with us or against us” message.

Unsurprisingly, for many more familiar with Pakistani behaviour and paranoia, it was known that this was going to be only selective reversal. The cooperation with the US was not meant to apply against the India-specific jihadis nurtured by Pakistan for years. Despite this selective approach to tackling jihadis, there were perhaps half a dozen attempts to assassinate Musaharraf by Islamic radicals between 2001 and 2003 — the most lethal being Christmas Day in 2003 when he had a miraculous escape. The attackers were professionals and they obviously had insider information about Musharraf’s movement that day.

The attack on the Karachi airport with instant media coverage, is perhaps the most high profile attack by Pakistani terrorists in recent years. Over time, Karachi has become a haven for the Taliban, sectarian militants, jihad financiers and Al Qaeda sleeper cells. With a high mix of criminal activity and a large Pukhtun population it is relatively easy for the Taliban to operate here. This would explain the ease with which there were two attacks on the airport on consecutive days.

There have been other, even more sinister and audacious attacks in Pakistan since the Lal Masjid episode in July 2007 in which 156 fundamentalist Islamists were killed in an operation by the elite SSG commandos. Attacks by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan terrorists on the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi in October 2009, the Pak naval base PNS Mehran in Karachi in May 2011 in apparent retaliation against the killing of Osama bin Laden earlier that month, the Kamra airbase in August 2012, and in December 2012 and the Bacha Khan airport in Peshawar were particularly audacious and exhibited a well thought out game-plan. Even the ISI Office in Lahore was attacked by the Taliban in May 2009 and later the ISI office in Sukkur was targeted. SSG commando training headquarters and the Sargodha air base had similarly been targets. These attacks were carried out by highly trained suicide squads armed with sophisticated weapons and aimed at inflicting maximum damage. Besides, high-profile strategic targets derive international publicity and send a message. Meanwhile the world, including Pakistanis, haven’t noticed the killing of 25 Shia pilgrims in Taftan, Balochistan, by Sunni terrorists, the day the airport was attacked.

Continue reading PAKISTAN’S DOMESTIC JIHAD

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.

Continue reading Book Review: ‘The Wrong Enemy’ by Carlotta Gall

The Eye-watering Truth About the Taliban’s War on Women

The Taliban’s War on Women: Taliban violence against women in Afghanistan has never gone away. Disturbing stories of suppression and brutality show a society hanging in the balance.

The recent online video of the Taliban executing a 22-year-old woman in front of a crowd of cheering men shocked the world. As Taliban aggression intensifies, how much has actually changed in Afghanistan?

At the height of the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan in 1999, a burqa-clad woman was executed in Kabul’s main football stadium. Footage of the killing shocked the world and galvanised international opposition to the Taliban’s brutal rule. Yet just two months ago, 22-year-old Najiba was mercilessly killed by the Taliban, just one hour’s drive from Kabul. The Taliban created a fake court and once they decided she was guilty, executed her within an hour. “It was tyrannical and barbaric – it is impossible that the law would allow what they did”, says Mullah Badam, who witnessed the killing. Speaking to Afghan women it’s evident that violent abuse is still commonplace. 18-year-old Mumtaz had acid thrown on her face by her would-be husband, who she had refused to marry. “They would not let me look in the mirror. I cried a lot”, she says. But there are women who are fighting back, including MP Fawzia Koofi, who plans to take on Hamid Karzai for the presidency. An outspoken champion of women’s rights, she has faced assassination attempts and numerous death threats. She argues that for her male political opposition, “women’s rights are a matter of sacrifice”. With the Allied forces set to withdraw by 2014, this disturbing report highlights just how precarious the situation remains for the future of Afghan society.

Read more » Journeyman.tv

New Film ‘Dirty Wars’ Exposes America’s Ruthless, Covert Wars

Jeremy Scahill’s new documentary reveals how dirty wars take innocent lives and make us less safe.

The United States deems Kabul, Afghanistan the center of the “war on terror.” The press corps and other embedded reporters, then, are limited to these borders.

But beyond these green (meaning safe, according to the U.S. govt.) streets of Afghanistan, lies a sea of red (dangerous) and black (Taliban-heavy) streets that go largely unexplored by journalists.

Yet, that’s exactly where investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill begins to delve in his new documentary Dirty Wars, directed by Rick Rowley.

Read more » AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/media/review-jeremy-scahills-new-documentary-dirty-wars

Afghan Tax – GDP Ratio 11%, Pakistan 9%

Afghans warned: the taxman is coming after you

By Katharine Houreld

KABUL (Reuters) – One of Afghanistan’s most surprising success stories lies tucked away on a potholed street notorious for suicide bombings and lined with rusting construction equipment.

The work of the country’s top tax collector is more inspiring than the view from his office in Kabul. Taxes and customs raised $1.64 billion last financial year, a 14-fold increase on 10 years ago. That means, now, the government can pay just over half of its recurrent costs such as salaries.

Thanks to tougher enforcement procedures, Afghanistan’s tax to GDP ratio today stands above 11 percent – ahead of neighboring Pakistan’s dismal 9 percent.

Continue reading Afghan Tax – GDP Ratio 11%, Pakistan 9%

Who says countries are permanent?

Ayaz AmirBy Ayaz Amir

Islamabad diary

We should know this more than others. The Pakistan of 1947 is not the Pakistan which exists today, one half of it having broken away to form another country. I served in Moscow in the seventies and nothing seemed more solid or permanent than the Soviet Union, a mighty power which cast a shadow far and wide. Who could have thought that in a few years’ time it would fracture, leaving a trail of small, independent republics behind?

Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall was two countries. Now it is back to being one. Czechoslovakia was one country then. Now it is two. In the UK, of all places, the Scots, or a goodly part of them, are demanding independence. A referendum is set to decide this question in 2014.

After the fall of the Soviet Union it seemed as if American pre-eminence was an assured thing, lasting for the next hundred years. Bright-eyed scholars announced not just the closing of an era but the end of history. As hubris goes, this had few equals. There were other Americans who said that reality would be what America wanted it to be. Yet American power has declined before our eyes, nothing more contributing to this than the wars President Bush ventured upon in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Clash of civilisations was another phrase current just ten years. Something of the sort has happened but not in a way that the US could have intended. Wouldn’t the Taliban, wouldn’t Al-Qaeda, define their struggle as a clash of civilisations?

Ten years ago in a Jamaat-ud-Dawaah mosque in Chakwal (not far from my house) I heard one of their leaders talking of America’s eventual but sure defeat in Afghanistan. I thought his rhetoric too fanciful then. It sounds much closer to home now.

I have just read a longish review of Norman Davies’ ‘Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations’. This book should be required reading for anyone concerned about the future of Pakistan. For the lesson it emphasises is that history does not promise progress. All it promises is change. Nothing is fixed, all is movement, nations rising and falling, the old disappearing to make way for the new, the new in turn becoming the old and morphing into something else – the philosophy of Heraclitus and Hegel, even of Marx.

Continue reading Who says countries are permanent?

The Kayani doctrine

By Dr Farrukh Saleem

Capital suggestion

The Kayani Doctrine, built on four pillars, comprises: American troops would have to withdraw from Afghanistan; reconciliation among Afghan factions is not possible without the ISI; the Jalalabad-Torkham-Karachi route remains the most viable for withdrawing American forces and India cannot be allowed to encircle Pakistan. In 2009, General McChrystal, commander Isaf and commander US forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A), refusing to buy the Kayani Doctrine, requested a ‘troop surge’ numbering 30,000-40,000. In 2010, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 187th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team and the 101st Sustainment Brigade were deployed to Afghanistan.

In 2010, General Petraeus, commander Isaf and commander USFOR-A, refusing to buy the Kayani Doctrine, began implementing his “comprehensive counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy”. General Petraeus’ COIN had four pillars: “securing and serving the population, understanding local circumstances, separating irreconcilables from reconcilables and living among the people”.

By 2011, America’s cost of war in Afghanistan hovered around a colossal $500 billion and the US had incurred 1,814 fatalities. By 2011, Petraeus’ four pillars had begun to fall flat – one by one. America could no longer sustain the war in Afghanistan – neither politically nor financially. Finally, President Obama, in a prime time speech, bought into the Kayani Doctrine by announcing a troop drawdown schedule. On December 2, 2012, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks with COAS General Ashfaq Kayani. This may have actually been the first formal buy-in of the Kayani Doctrine.

On December 17, the principal deputy assistant attorney general told a federal court in New York: “In the view of the United States, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is entitled to immunity because it is part of a foreign state within the meaning of the FSIA (Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act).” This may have actually been an implicit acceptance by the US of the ISI’s indispensability in the Afghan endgame (the doctrine’s second pillar).

On December 29, Pakistan received $688 million under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). According to the Ministry of Finance, “from May 2010 onwards Pakistan had asked for $2.5 billion under the CSF but only $1.9 billion have been reimbursed.”

On February 10, “two convoys each hauling 25 shipping containers entered Pakistan at the Chaman and Torkham borders” heading back to where they came from. To be certain, these convoys will be followed by a few thousand taking back around 750,000 major military items valued at close to $40 billion (the doctrine’s third pillar).

Indian defence analysts claim that the British have acted as the intermediaries in the latest US-Pakistan rapprochement and that Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are also involved in the game. Pakistan is once again becoming the centre piece in the Afghan endgame.

India’s Ambassador MK Bhadrakumar, who served in Islamabad, Kabul, Tashkent and Moscow, opines, “Washington is stonewalling India’s requests for the extradition of two key protagonists who are in the US jails – David Headley and Tahawwur Rana” and that “India’s worst fears with regard to the situation in Afghanistan are probably coming true.”

Continue reading The Kayani doctrine

Why Hezb-e Islami Killing Foreigners in Kabul is a Big Deal

5 Reasons Why Hezb-e Islami Killing Foreigners in Kabul is a Big Deal

By El Snarkistani

Another attack in Kabul today, which (sadly) isn’t that unusual lately.

But today’s reported killing of eight people in Kabul is frighteningly different from the norm here in the Emerald City.

Here’s why.

1. This is being claimed by Hezb-e Islami.

Once upon a time, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and friends did a great deal of violence in Kabul. ….

Read more » http://findingmytribe.me/2012/09/18/5-reasons-why-hezb-e-islami-killing-foreigners-in-kabul-is-a-big-deal/

Afghanistan-Pakistan border fighting erupts in Kunar

There is heavy fighting between Afghan and Pakistani forces in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar, which borders Pakistan, Afghan officials say.

Fighting started at around 0400 (0030 GMT) following an attack on a border police commander’s convoy, according to border police sources. According to Afghan officials in Kunar, one border policeman was killed and five were injured.

The Afghan authorities have since sent hundreds of troops to the area. The attack was from the Pakistani side of the border in the area of Binshay, Dangam District, Afghan police say.

Afghan officials in Kunar province have told the BBC that both sides have been using heavy and small weapons and a Dangam District tribal elder said the fighting was ongoing.

Continue reading Afghanistan-Pakistan border fighting erupts in Kunar

‘Pakistan-linked’ attack on Kabul foiled: Officials

By AFP

KABUL: Afghan and Nato forces foiled a series of suicide attacks on Kabul planned for Sunday when they captured five insurgents allegedly linked to militants in Pakistan, officials said.

The group was “finalising plans for an attack in the capital” and a large cache of explosives, suicide vest parts, weapons and ammunition were seized in the overnight operation, Nato’s International Security Assistance Force said.

The “sophisticated suicide attacks” would have targeted the Afghan parliament and the residence of Second Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency said.

One of the five was a Pakistani national and the group was in possession of Afghan army uniforms and Pakistani identity documents, currency and cellphone numbers, the National Directorate for Security said.

“The evidence indicates they had connections with the terrorists beyond the border with Pakistan,” the agency said.

Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of harbouring Taliban insurgents fighting to overthrow the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

Earlier this month, Afghan officials said five insurgents planning a major attack on an area of Kabul home to Western embassies were killed in a pre-dawn gunbattle in the capital.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

http://tribune.com.pk/story/421128/pakistan-linked-attack-on-kabul-foiled-officials/

Afghan parliament votes to dismiss security ministers over ‘Pakistan shelling’

By AFP

KABUL: The Afghan parliament Saturday voted to dismiss two powerful ministers for failing to act over cross-border shelling blamed on neighbouring Pakistan and over other security issues.

The move obliges President Hamid Karzai to sack Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, who has strong support among Afghanistan’s Western allies, and Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi, a key Karzai ally.

The men are expected to continue serving in an acting capacity until the president introduces replacements.

General Abdul Rahim Wardak will continue serving in the ministry as the acting defence minister until a new minister is introduced by the president,” defence ministry spokesman General Zaher Azimi told AFP. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

http://tribune.com.pk/story/417503/afghan-parliament-votes-to-dismiss-defence-interior-ministers-over-pakistan-shelling/

A rain of 1,300 rockets from Pakistan threatens to spawn a diplomatic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

Deadly rocket attacks straining Afghanistan-Pakistan relations

By Heath Druzin

KABUL — A rain of rockets from Pakistan threatens to spawn a diplomatic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister summoned Pakistan’s ambassador Sunday after shelling killed four civilians and injured several others in Kunar province Friday night.

A provincial official is warning of an “uprising” if the attacks continue. The Foreign Ministry warned that continued shelling “could have significant negative impact” on relations between the two countries.

Continue reading A rain of 1,300 rockets from Pakistan threatens to spawn a diplomatic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

Video: Taliban shoot woman 9 times in public execution as men cheer

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — A shot rings out, but the burqa-clad woman sitting on the rocky ground does not respond.

The man pointing a rifle at her from a few feet away lets loose another round, but still there is no reaction.

He fires a third shot, and finally the woman slumps backwards.

But the man fires another shot.

And another. And another.

Nine shots in all.

Around him, dozens of men on a hillside cheer: “God is great!

Continue reading Video: Taliban shoot woman 9 times in public execution as men cheer

Ashley Tellis: Pakistan’s Impending Defeat in Afghanistan – Rawalpindi refuses to see the writing on the wall.

Pakistan’s Impending Defeat in Afghanistan

By: Ashley J. Tellis

Pakistan’s Enduring Aim

Ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan has had one simple strategic goal on its western frontier: ensuring that Afghanistan remains a stable but subordinate entity deferential to Pakistan’s sensitivities on all matters of national security. Such deference was sought for a host of reasons. Islamabad wanted a guarantee that Kabul would not reignite the dispute over the countries’ common border (the Durand Line) and would not seek to mobilize the region’s Pashtun populations in support of either absorption into Afghanistan or the creation of a new nation. The Pakistani leadership also aimed to ensure that Afghanistan would not enter into close geopolitical affiliations with other, more powerful countries, such as the United States or India, in order to increase Kabul’s autonomy from Islamabad.

Amid the chaos that emerged after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pakistan settled on supporting the Afghan Taliban as its strategic instrument for securing Kabul’s compliance with its objectives. Although the Taliban were not always dependable surrogates on these matters, they appeared better than other Afghan rivals, and hence Islamabad—despite its denials—has stuck by them to this day.

Whatever the intended benefits of this strategy, it has alienated both the broader Afghan populace and the government in Kabul, which now views Pakistan as a habitually hostile neighbor. It has also undermined the U.S.-led international stabilization effort in Afghanistan, as well as hopes for a peaceful security transition—not to mention infuriating Washington, which now views Pakistan as a perfidious partner. And it has provoked heightened regional rivalry involving Afghanistan’s neighbors, especially Iran, India, the Central Asian republics, and Russia, all of whom are determined to prevent a Pakistani-supported Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Worst of all, Islamabad’s strategy promises to fundamentally undermine Pakistani security. Every one of the three possible outcomes of the Afghan security transition leaves Pakistan in a terrible place.

Destined for Failure

Read more » http://m.ceip.org/publications/?fa=48633

Tehran Times – U.S., Pakistan on collision course: report

WASHINGTON (Dawn) — The U.S.-Pakistan relationship appeared to be heading towards a head-on collision as a U.S. general blamed Friday’s deadly attack on a Kabul hotel on FATA-based militants and the White House vowed to take the steps needed to mitigate this threat.

Earlier on Friday, the U.S. media reported that Washington had considered launching retaliatory attacks at terrorist targets inside Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) but concerns about destabilizing Pakistan prevented it from doing so.

“We’ll take steps necessary to mitigate that threat,” said a White House official, while commenting on AP report.

Continue reading Tehran Times – U.S., Pakistan on collision course: report

What’s Wrong with Pakistan?

Why geography — unfortunately — is destiny for South Asia’s troubled heartland.

BY ROBERT D. KAPLAN

Perversity characterizes Pakistan. Only the worst African hellholes, Afghanistan, Haiti, Yemen, and Iraq rank higher on this year’s Failed States Index. The country is run by a military obsessed with — and, for decades, invested in — the conflict with India, and by a civilian elite that steals all it can and pays almost no taxes. But despite an overbearing military, tribes “defined by a near-universal male participation in organized violence,” as the late European anthropologist Ernest Gellner put it, dominate massive swaths of territory. The absence of the state makes for 20-hour daily electricity blackouts and an almost nonexistent education system in many areas.

Afghanistan: Attack on hotel shows Taleban’s disregard for civilian life – Amnesty International

The deaths of 15 civilians in a Taleban attack on a hotel outside Kabul is a shocking reminder of why the Afghan government must work with the International Criminal Court to help bring to justice all those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, Amnesty International said.

On Thursday night, armed Taleban fighters stormed the Spozhmay Hotel in the Lake Qargha area near the capital, taking dozens of hotel guests and staff hostage.

In the ensuing siege that lasted almost 12 hours, a fierce gun battle broke out between Taleban fighters and NATO and Afghan troops, resulting in the deaths of at least 20 people – including 15 civilians.

It was the most serious single loss of civilian life in Afghanistan since the Taleban attacked Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel a year ago, killing 22 people, again mostly civilians.

The Taleban’s repeated brazen attacks targeting civilians show an utter disregard for human life and may amount to war crimes which should be investigated and prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, as should crimes which may have been committed by NATO and Afghan troops,” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Acting Asia and Pacific Programme Director. ….

Read more » Amnesty International

What not even a “soft apology”? Pentagon chief all but rules out apology for Pakistan

Pentagon chief all but rules out apology for Pakistan

By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON: (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta all but ruled out an apology over an air strike last year that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and badly set back efforts to improve U.S.-Pakistani ties, saying it was “time to move on.”

Pakistan banned trucks from carrying NATO supplies into neighboring Afghanistan after the air strike, a move that costs U.S. taxpayers $100 million a month given the need to use more expensive, longer routes to the north.

To re-open the routes, Pakistan wants to impose high tariffs on NATO supplies and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said last week that Islamabad is still seeking an unconditional apology.

But Panetta, in an interview with Reuters on Thursday, suggested that past expressions of regret and condolences were enough and held out hope that troubled talks on re-opening Pakistani supply routes for the NATO war effort could succeed anyway.

Asked whether he would oppose any further apology, Panetta said: “We’ve made clear what our position is, and I think it’s time to move on.”

“If we keep going back to the past, if we keep beating up each other based on past differences, we’ll never get anywhere,” he said.

“The time now is to move forward with this relationship, on the (supply routes), on the safe havens, on dealing with terrorism — on dealing with the issues that frankly both of us are concerned about,” Panetta said. ….

Read more » Reuters

Obama Increases Pakistan Drone Strikes as Relations Sour

By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan

President Barack Obama has ordered a sharp increase in drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Pakistan in recent months, anticipating the CIA may soon need to halt such operations in Pakistan’s territory, two U.S. officials said.

His decision reflects mounting U.S. frustration with Pakistan over a growing list of disputes — mirrored by Pakistani grievances with the U.S. — that have soured relations and weakened security cooperation. The U.S. is withholding at least $3 billion in reimbursements for counterinsurgency operations and security-related funding, according to congressional aides and Pakistani officials.

“We are reaching the limits of our patience, and for that reason it’s extremely important that Pakistan take action” to crack down on armed groups based there that attack American and coalition forces in Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said yesterday in Kabul. ….

Read more » Bloomberg

US running out of patience with Pakistan: Panetta

AFP – The United States is running out of patience with Pakistan over safe havens for insurgents who attack US troops across the border in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Thursday.

Panetta was speaking during a brief visit to Kabul overshadowed by Afghan fury over a NATO air strike that allegedly killed 18 civilians — an issue that the Pentagon chief did not mention at a news conference.

Panetta left for the airport just hours after his arrival, as Afghan President Hamid Karzai pledged to cut short a trip to Beijing and head home over the deaths of around 40 civilians Wednesday in the air strike and a suicide bombing.

Continue reading US running out of patience with Pakistan: Panetta

Friday Times : Taliban are Pak Army proxies, not Pashtun nationalists – VI – By: Farhat Taj

There are three groups of Pashtuns fighting the US/NATO and Afghan security forces in Afghanistan – the Peshawar Shura led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the North Waziristan based Haqqani Network led by Jalaluddin Haqqani, and the Quetta Shura led by Mullah Omar. All three of them are closely linked with the military establishment of Pakistan.

A section of Hekmatyar’s party has already given up violence and is part of the current Afghan government and parliament. Many of the remaining prominent party leaders are frustrated with Hekmatyar’s rigid stance and have privately said they are willing to give up violence for a peaceful political process.

Continue reading Friday Times : Taliban are Pak Army proxies, not Pashtun nationalists – VI – By: Farhat Taj

Why Pakistan interferes in Afghanistan

By: Nitin Pai

A strong, independent Afghanistan is perceived as an existential threat to Pakistan

Just why is Pakistan interested in installing a friendly regime in Afghanistan? If you read books and articles written over the last couple of decades, you will come across arguments such as the need for “strategic depth” to counter India, to prevent a pro-India regime in Kabul that will result in the Indian encircling of Pakistan and, even more grandly, to create an Islamic centre of power that stretches from the shores of the Arabian Sea to the Caucasus mountains. Going by the statements of members of the Pakistani establishment and some of its commentators, these are indeed the reasons why Pakistan wants to dominate Afghanistan.

Continue reading Why Pakistan interferes in Afghanistan

Once upon a time in Afghanistan

PART THREE – THE LOST HISTORY OF HELMAND

By: Adam Curtis

When you look at footage of the fighting in Helmand today everyone assumes it is being played out against an ancient background of villages and fields built over the centuries.

This is not true. If you look beyond the soldiers, and into the distance, what you are really seeing are the ruins of one of the biggest technological projects the United States has ever undertaken. Its aim was to use science to try and change the course of history and produce a modern utopia in Afghanistan. The city of Lashkar Gah was built by the Americans as a model planned city, and the hundreds of miles of canals that the Taliban now hide in were constructed by the same company that built the San Francisco Bay Bridge and Cape Canaveral. Here is what Helmand province looks like today. ….

Read more » BBC

‘Pakistani’ driving truck bomb arrested in Afghanistan

By: AP

KABUL: Afghanistan’s intelligence agency on Thursday said it had prevented a large terrorist attack in the capital, arresting a Pakistani national driving a truck packed with explosives in Kabul.

The agency said in a statement that the man was arrested Thursday on a major road in the east of the city. It said the man was going to use the truck bomb in a suicide attack.

The agency did not say what the suspected target was. It said it would release more details as they became available.

The arrest comes a day after a suicide attack on the same road killed seven people. In that attack one militant detonated his car bomb outside a compound where foreigners live, while two other attackers fought their way inside before being killed.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

Afghan schoolgirls poisoned in anti-education attack

By Mohammad Hamid, KUNDUZ, Afghanistan

(Reuters) – About 150 Afghan schoolgirls were poisoned on Tuesday after drinking contaminated water at a high school in the country’s north, officials said, blaming it on conservative radicals opposed to female education.

Since the 2001 toppling of the Taliban, which banned education for women and girls, females have returned to schools, especially in Kabul.

But periodic attacks still occur against girls, teachers and their school buildings, usually in the more conservative south and east of the country, from where the Taliban insurgency draws most support.

“We are 100 percent sure that the water they drunk inside their classes was poisoned. This is either the work of those who are against girls’ education or irresponsible armed individuals,” said Jan Mohammad Nabizada, a spokesman for education department in northern Takhar province.

Some of the 150 girls, who suffered from headaches and vomiting, were in critical condition, while others were able to go home after treatment in hospital, the officials said.

They said they knew the water had been poisoned because a larger tank used to fill the affected water jugs was not contaminated.

“This is not a natural illness. It’s an intentional act to poison schoolgirls,” said Haffizullah Safi, head of Takhar’s public health department. ….

Read more » Reuters

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