Tag Archives: troops

Indian and Pakistani troops swap gifts at LoC on Prophet’s birthday

LoC gets a sweet exchange as Indian and Pakistani troops swap gifts on Prophet’s birthday

By Mail Today Bureau

Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged sweets and gifts to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday.

Indian and Pakistani troops on Tuesday exchanged sweets and gifts in Kargil and Uri sectors in an effort to restore normalcy along the LoC, a Srinagar-based defence spokesman said.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2539467/LoC-gets-sweet-exchange-Indian-Pakistani-troops-swap-gifts-Prophets-birthday.html#ixzz2qPja4N3F

Israel to Assad: air strikes did not aim to help Syria rebels

By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM : (Reuters) – Israel sought to persuade Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday that recent air strikes around Damascus did not aim to weaken him in the face of a two-year rebellion, and played down the prospects of an escalation.

“There are no winds of war,” Yair Golan, the general commanding Israeli forces on the Syrian and Lebanese fronts, told reporters while out jogging with troops.

“Do you see tension? There is no tension. Do I look tense to you?” he said, according to the Maariv NRG news website.

Intelligence sources said Israel attacked Iranian-supplied missiles stored near the Syrian capital on Friday and Sunday as they awaited transport to Assad’s Lebanese guerrilla ally Hezbollah.

Israel has repeatedly warned it will not let high-tech weaponry get to Iranian-backed Hezbollah, with which it fought an inconclusive war in 2006.

Damascus accused Israel of belligerence meant to support outgunned anti-Assad rebels. The air strikes were tantamount to a “declaration of war”, it said, and threatened unspecified retaliation.

Veteran Israeli lawmaker Tzachi Hanegbi, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said on Monday that Israel did not want to clash with Assad.

Interviewed on Israel Radio, Hanegbi said the Netanyahu government aimed to avoid “an increase in tension with Syria by making clear that if there is activity, it is only against Hezbollah, not against the Syrian regime”.

Israel is reluctant to take sides in Syria’s civil war for fear its actions would boost Islamists who are even more hostile to it than the Assad family, which has maintained a stable stand off with the Jewish state for decades.

Hanegbi said Israel had not formally acknowledged carrying out the raids in an effort to allow Assad to save face, adding that Netanyahu began a scheduled week-long trip to China on Sunday to signal the sense of business as usual.

The Israel prime minister did not comment about Syria during a visit to Shanghai on Monday.

“DIPLOMATIC CHANNELS”

Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s biggest-selling newspaper, said the Netanyahu government had informed Assad through diplomatic channels that it did not intend to meddle in Syria’s civil war.

Continue reading Israel to Assad: air strikes did not aim to help Syria rebels

Our troops didn’t provoke border tension: China

BEIJING: Sticking to its stand that Chinese troops have not caused any “provocation” by violating the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, China on Thursday said the incident will not affect bilateral ties or disrupt peace at the borders as both sides are trying to resolve it in a friendly manner.

“I do not agree with your allegation that it is the Chinese side that has caused the provocation between the border troops,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said while replying to questions about the intrusion of Chinese troops at the Depsang Valley in Ladakh.

“China’s troops have never crossed the (LAC) line. China and India are neighbours and the boundary is not demarcated yet.

“It is inevitable for problems to prop up in border areas. When there is a problem it should be resolved through friendly consultations though existing mechanisms and channels,” she said.

“We believe this incident can also be handled and will not affect the peace and stability of the border areas as well as the normal development of China and India relations,” she said.

Urging the media to be patient, she said, “We also believe that the two sides continue to solve the issue in a friendly manner and we will not let the issue affect border peace and security and normal development of China-India relations”.

“We hope relevant media can keep patience and create favourable conditions for the two countries to solve this issue through friendly consultations,” she said.

The spokesperson said the situation on the Sino-Indian border is peaceful and stable.

“Just want to tell you that the current situation in the border area is peaceful and stable. Both China and India have the willingness to solve the dispute through peaceful negotiations and consultations.

“In the past three days I have repeatedly stressed China’s point and now I would like to reiterate that Chinese troops have always acted in strict compliance to relevant treaty and protocol between the two countries regarding the protection of security of the areas around the LAC,” she said.

China is committed to peace and security of the border areas as well as the negotiated settlement of the boundary issue left over from history, she said.

Asked about reports that the Chinese troops were insisting on Indian army to remove certain fortifications in that area, she said “since I am not in the frontier, so I do not know the latest development of the situation…Both China and India have the willingness to solve the dispute through peaceful negotiations and consultations”.

Continue reading Our troops didn’t provoke border tension: China

Chinese Troops Set Up Post 10km Inside Ladakh – India Times

By IndiaTimes

NEW DELHI: In yet another deep incursion into Indian territory, Chinese troops apparently made inroads into the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector of eastern Ladakh and erected a tented post there this week.

Indian Army officials were, however, not too perturbed about the incursion, holding that it was a common occurrence. “In that area, patrols do have a face-off every now and then due to differing perceptions of where the Line of Actual Control lies. We resolve it through existing consultative border mechanisms,” said a senior officer.

As per reports, a platoon-strength contingent of about 50 troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) came 10 km inside Indian territory in Burthe in the DBO sector, which is at an altitude of about 17,000 feet, on the night of April 15.

Troops from Indo-Tibetan Border Police(ITBP), which mans that stretch of the border, have also established a camp approximately 300 metres opposite the location, the sources said.

ITBP has asked for a flag meeting with the Chinese side but there has been no response till now.

The Ladakh Scouts, an infantry regiment of the Indian Army that specializes in mountain warfare, has also moved towards the area where the situation was described as tense.

DBO, located in northernmost Ladakh, is an historic camp site and located on an ancient trade route connecting Ladakh to Yarkand in Xinjiang, China. IAF has in recent years activated advanced landing grounds at DBO and two other places in eastern Ladakh as part of the policy to build military infrastructure along the LAC, in a belated move to counter strategic moves by China in the region.

Courtesy: India Times
http://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/chinese-troops-set-up-post-10km-inside-ladakh-73150.html

Pakistan – Tirah valley operation intensifies, 23 soldiers killed

By

PESHAWAR: A decisive operation has been launched against militants in the Tirah valley of Bara by Special Services Groups (SSG) forces along with regular troops, during which at least 23 troops have been killed along with local lashkar men.

Scores of militants have also been killed in the offensive during the last three days.

Official sources confirmed to Dawn.com that several soldiers, including SSG commandos, have been killed in the battle for Tirah valley on Saturday, around 30 militants have also been confirmed dead along with scores of others injured.

On late Sunday evening, a clash took place between security forces and militants in Akka Khel area of Bara tehsil. Ten militants were killed in the fighting, official sources said.

Sources said that SSG commandos along with regular army troops and Frontier Corps are battling to root out the last pockets of resistance in the Tirah valley especially on the border of Orakzai Agency.

The landlocked area is reported to be a bastion of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other foreign militants.

The offensive has entered a crucial phase, after softening of targets by gunships and jet fighters.

Ground troops along with local volunteers have been mobilised to clear the area.

Security experts had already hinted at a decisive strike in the Tirah valley as the TTP and Lashkar-i-Islam had started consolidating their positions in the valley.

The two groups pose a serious threat to the settled areas especially Peshawar.

The FC media cell had confirmed on Friday that four soldiers were killed and over 14 militants had died in the clashes which have been continuing since then.

Sources have confirmed to Dawn.com that one dead body of an SSG commando and six injured SSG soldiers along with eight other solders were shifted to the CMH Peshawar on Saturday.

Continue reading Pakistan – Tirah valley operation intensifies, 23 soldiers killed

Pot calls Kettle Black – Pakistan lodged a protest with NATO and Afghan forces, accusing them of failing to act against militant safe havens in Afghanistan after a cross-border attack killed 13 Pakistani troops

Pakistan military protests with NATO and Afghan forces over cross-border attack

By Jibran Ahmad

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistan lodged a protest with NATO and Afghan forces on Monday, accusing them of failing to act against militant safe havens in Afghanistan after a cross-border attack killed 13 Pakistani troops, a military official said.

The move is likely to intensify tensions between troubled allies Islamabad and Washington, currently involved in difficult talks to repair ties.

More than 100 militants based in Afghanistan’s Kunar province entered Pakistan and attacked a military patrol on Sunday, the military official said. Fourteen militants and six soldiers were killed in the skirmish.

Seven Pakistani soldiers were beheaded by militants after the clash and four were still missing, the official said.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said the Afghan deputy head of mission in Islamabad was summoned and presented with a “strong protest”.

The Malakand faction of the Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility, and threatened more attacks.

“Our fight will continue until the establishment of sharia law in Pakistan … We will fight whoever tries to stand in our way,” Sirajuddin Ahmad, the faction’s spokesman, told Reuters.

Ahmad claimed the group had killed 17 Pakistani soldiers.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said it was aware of the report, but had no information.

Fazlullah Wahidi, governor of Kumar province, said militants were based in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. “We don’t have any information about militants crossing the border from Afghanistan to attack troops in Pakistan,” he told Reuters.

The Malakand, or Swat, Taliban are led by Maulvi Fazlullah, who was the Pakistan Taliban leader in the Swat Valley, about 100 miles northwest of Islamabad, before a 2009 army offensive forced him to flee.

Also known as FM Mullah for his fiery radio broadcasts, he regrouped in Afghanistan and established strongholds, according to the Pakistan military.

Fazlullah re-emerged as a threat last year, when his fighters conducted cross-border raids that killed around 100 Pakistani security forces, angering Pakistan, which faces threats from multiple militant groups.

Continue reading Pot calls Kettle Black – Pakistan lodged a protest with NATO and Afghan forces, accusing them of failing to act against militant safe havens in Afghanistan after a cross-border attack killed 13 Pakistani troops

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

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

Chicago Tribune – 10 reasons why Pakistan should apologize to U.S.

By Malik Siraj Akbar

Pakistan‘sobsession with extracting an apology from the U.S. for airstrikes that accidentally killed 24 Pakistani troops last year seems dubious considering its own questionable commitment in the fight against terrorism.

Instead of jeopardizing U.S. efforts in South Asia, the Pakistani government should instead show courage by owning up to its destructive policies and apologize for its mishaps.

Here are at least 10 reasons why Pakistan owes the U.S. its deepest apology:

1. Osama bin Laden: On May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed near the Pakistan Military Academy, the equivalent of West Point. Pakistan was receiving about $18 billion from the U.S. to dismantle al-Qaida, while bin Laden was living comfortably with his wives and children in Abbottabad. Instead of apologizing for its complicity or incompetence, Pakistan vigorously protested violation of its sovereignty by theU.S. military operation that killed bin Laden. In fact, Pakistan’s National Assembly offered religious prayers for bin Laden, and civilian protests across the country condemned the killing.

2. Doctor on trial: Last week, Dr. Shakil Afridi, a surgeon who helped the CIA locate bin Laden’s whereabouts under the cover of a vaccination campaign, was convicted of treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison and fined about $3,500. So, let’s get this straight. Pakistan publicly pledges to eliminate terrorism, yet punishes its citizens for helping to do so?

3. Embassy attack: On Sept. 13, 2011, well-equipped insurgents linked to the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, allied with al-Qaida and the Taliban, attacked the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. Adm. Mike Mullen, the then-Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said the network is a “veritable arm” ofInter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani spy agency. Instead of working to dismantle the terror network, Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani complained that his country was being “singled out,” and that it was “neither fair nor productive.” Hence, the network continues to undermine coalition efforts in Afghanistan.

Continue reading Chicago Tribune – 10 reasons why Pakistan should apologize to U.S.

Pakistan seeks face-saving formula in NATO talks

By Michael Georgy, ISLAMABAD

(Reuters) – Pakistan is unlikely to re-open supply routes to NATO troops in Afghanistan unless the United States offers a politically acceptable formula in talks on ending a six-month standoff on the issue, a Pakistani official said on Thursday. ….

Read more » Reuters

Top U.S. officials say no apology to Pakistan

A second senior U.S. official is saying the Obama administration has definitively decided not to apologize to Pakistan for the recent accidental killings of Pakistani troops by U.S.-led forces — following months of top-level discussions about making such a high-stakes foreign policy decision.

The second official told Fox News on Friday morning many factors played into the decision, including that Pakistan appears to have “moved on” from its initial anger.

The official also asked: “When are they going to apologize to us” for a series of grievances, most notably that high-level terrorists such as Usama bin Laden gained safe harbor inside Pakistan in recent years.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/05/18/top-us-officials-say-no-apology-to-pakistan/#ixzz1vMX8ZA2V

 

Pakistan – Waziristan clashes ‘killed 19, injured 71’ in two days

North Waziristan clashes ‘killed 19, injured 71’ in two days

By: AFP

MIRANSHAH: Clashes between troops and militants in North Waziristan killed 19 soldiers and civilians, and wounded nearly 100 others, officials said Tuesday.

Violence flared Sunday when gunmen armed with rockets attacked a military convoy near Miranshah, the main town in the tribal district on the Afghan border.

Among the dead were 12 Pakistani soldiers, three of whom were captured and beheaded, a local intelligence official told AFP.

“Seven civilians, including two children and three women, were killed and 71 others were injured during two days of violence,” the official added.

At least 20 soldiers were also wounded, he said.

On Monday, helicopter gun-ships attacked a three-storey building housing weapons shops in Miranshah’s main bazaar, causing a huge fire, witnesses said.

Two other intelligence officials in the area confirmed the death toll of 19.  Officials on Monday had put the overall death toll at 15. …

Read more » DAWN.COM

Taliban Beheads Pakistani Soldiers

Taliban Kill 14 Pakistani Troops, String up Heads

By ISHTIAQ MAHSUD, Associated Press

DERA ISMAIL KHAN – Taliban fighters killed 14 Pakistani soldiers in a key militant sanctuary along the Afghan border, beheaded all but one of them and hung two of the heads from wooden poles in the center of town, officials said Monday.

The killings in Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal area, highlight the dilemma facing the military in dealing with an area used by both the country’s fiercest enemy, the Pakistani Taliban, and Afghan and Pakistani militants believed to be close to the government who are battling U.S.-led forces in neighboring Afghanistan. …

Read more » ABC News

NATO head calls on China, talks to Russia about expanding supply route

NATO head calls on China, Russia to help fund Afghan forces

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The head of NATO called on China and Russia on Thursday to help fund Afghan security after 2014, as the alliance tries to rally contributions from a wider range of sources before most foreign combat troops pull out of Afghanistan.

NATO estimates that the annual cost of maintaining Afghan security forces will be some $4 billion, and the United States is hoping for contributions worth 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) from other NATO allies and partners. [ID:nL2E8FHCG3] But so far only Britain has publicly pledged an actual amount of cash, $110 million a year. [ID:nL6E8FI96J]

“We would welcome financial contributions from Russia, China and other countries to ensure a strong sustainable Afghan security force beyond 2014,” Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a news conference in Brussels, where NATO foreign and defense ministers were meeting to prepare for a summit next month in Chicago.

The United States and NATO, keen to douse fears Afghanistan could face renewed civil war when foreign troops pull out, want to use the summit to demonstrate a long-term commitment to Afghan stability that will endure well after 2014. …

Read more » Yahoo News

Why India can’t give up Siachen

By: Vikram Sood

The nation cannot afford to repeat the strategic mistakes of the past — like halting our advance at Uri in 1948 or not capturing Skardu; or giving up Haji Pir in 1966; or returning 93,000 troops and territory in 1972

The strategic advantage accruing to India in Siachen should not be given up for apparent short-term political gains. Giving up Siachen as a gesture of friendship would also mean that its recapture would be extremely expensive to India in men and material, says Vikram Sood.

Continue reading Why India can’t give up Siachen

Gen. Kayani rules out Pakistan’s unilateral withdrawal from Siachen

Should discuss all disputes including Siachen with India: COAS Kayani

Excerpts;

…. Talking to media, after reviewing search operation underway to bring out 139 martyred troops in Gayari sector buried under tons of snow, he said Pakistan was open to talks with India to de-militarize Siachen. ….

… COAS also made it clear that army was protecting country’s borders on Siachen. ….

…. To a question, he said Siachen was an enormous burden on the taxpayers of both the neighbours.

“Siachen consumes a mammoth amount of national exchequer, which must be diverted to the people of both countries respectively”, said Gen Kayani. ….

…. To a question, he refused to comment on PML-N’s Mian Nawaz Sharif’s statement on Siahcen.

Sharif in a statement on Tuesday had exhorted Pakistan and Indian governments to withdraw their troops from Siachen sector and resolve the issue through dialogues.

Read more » Geo Tv

BBC News – Avalanche buries 100 Pakistani troops in Kashmir

A Pakistani general says more than 100 troops have been buried by an avalanche in the disputed Kashmir region.

Pakistan army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told the BBC some bodies had been recovered but could not say how many had survived.

The avalanche hit a military camp near the Siachen glacier in the Karakoram branch of the Himalaya mountains. A rescue operation is underway.

India and Pakistan both claim the area and have deployed thousands of troops. ….

Read more » BBC

ISI has taken over GHQ – By Najam Sethi

The army was constitutionally mandated to be an arm of the Pakistan state with elected civilians in control of the executive. But it has seized the commanding heights and subordinated the other organs of the state to its own unaccountable purposes.

In recent times, however, something even more sinister has been happening. This is the creeping growth of the ISI from a small arms-length intelligence directorate or department of the military (Inter Services Intelligence Directorate) in the initial decades of independent Pakistan to an omnipotent and invisible “deep state within the state” that now controls both military strategy and civilian policy.

General Pervez Musharraf’s unprecedented appointment of General Ashfaq Kayani, a former DG-ISI, as COAS was the first step in this direction. The second was General Kayani’s own decision to routinely rotate senior and serving ISI officers to positions of command and control in the army and vice-versa, coupled with his insistence on handpicking the DGISI and extending his service. Together, these decisions reflect a harsh new reality. The ISI has walked into GHQ and seized command and control of the armed forces.

This is a deeply troubling development because it violates the established norm-policy of all militaries in democratic societies – intelligence services must consciously be kept at arms length from GHQ because “field commanders must not get contaminated” or tainted by cloak and dagger operations in grey zones. That is why COAS Gen Zia ul Haq kicked Gen Akhtar Abdul Rehman, DGISI, upstairs to CJOSC rather than give him troops to command. That is why COAS Gen Asif Nawaz sidelined DGISI Gen Asad Durrani as IG Training and Evaluation. That is why COAS Gen Waheed Kakar prematurely retired Gen Durrani from service for playing politics in GHQ and then recommended Gen Jehangir Karamat as his successor rather than his close confidante and former DGISI Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi. Indeed, that is why the CIA, RAW, MI6, KGB, MOSSAD etc remain under full civilian operations and control even though soldiers may be seconded to them or head them occasionally.

The ISI’s meteoric rise in the 1980s is well documented. It became the official conduit for tens of billions of dollars of arms and slush funds from the US and Saudi Arabia to the Mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Three serving generals of the time were billed as “the richest and most powerful generals in the world” by Time magazine in 1986. Two of them, Gen Akhtar Abdul Rehman and Gen Hameed Gul were in turn DGs-ISI while the third, General Fazle Haq, was the Peshawar gatekeeper to Afghanistan.

Three Prime Ministers have fallen victim to the ISI. PM Junejo ran afoul of DGs ISI Gen Hameed Gul and Gen Akhtar Abdul Rehman over the Ojhri Camp disaster. Benazir Bhutto was undermined by DGs ISI Gen Gul and General Asad Durrani. And Nawaz Sharif by DG ISI Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi and COAS Gen Waheed Kakar. Indeed, Mr Sharif might have survived in 1999 if Gen Musharraf had not earlier cunningly moved Gen Mohammad Aziz from the ISI to GHQ as CGS because it was the latter who nudged Corps Commander Pindi Gen Mahmood Ahmed to execute the coup in the absence of Gen Musharraf.

The ISI’s creeping coup – ISI officers returning to command positions in the army – against GHQ is fraught with problems. It has eroded the credibility and capacity of both the current DG ISI and COAS within the military and civil society. The ISI’s spectacular failures (BB’s assassination, Mumbai, Raymond Davis case, missing persons, Memogate, Mehrangate, Abbotabad, Saleem Shehzad, Get-Zardari, etc) can all be laid at GHQ’s door just as the ISI’s anti-terrorist policy failures are responsible for the loss of over 3000 soldiers to the Pakistan Taliban and the terrorist attacks on GHQ and Mehran Navy Base. The fact that both the COAS and DG ISI have taken extensions in service has also undermined their credibility far and wide.

Continue reading ISI has taken over GHQ – By Najam Sethi

Inside Balochistan’s dirty war – Praveen Swami

Baloch secessionist leader Brahmdagh Bugti says he wants political engagement with Pakistan — but that its military wants war.

Late last month, Zamur Domki and her 12-year-old daughter were driving back to their home in an upmarket Karachi neighbourhood when a black car swerved across the road, blocking their route. Thinking she was a target of an armed robbery, Ms Domki offered the masked men who surrounded the car her jewellery and mobile phone — but the attackers weren’t interested.

An eyewitness recalls that Ms Domki watched in horror as the assassins repeatedly shot her daughter in the chest and neck. Then, it was her turn to die.

Baloch politicians allege the murders, for which no one has been held, were carried out by Pakistan’s intelligence services to send a message to Ms Domki’s brother, Brahmdagh Bugti — a soft-spoken 31-year-old father of three who, from exile in Geneva, leads the region’s largest secessionist party.

Concern over assassinations

In recent months, assassinations of Baloch nationalist politicians and their kin have provoked growing concern. Last year alone, the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has reported, there were at least 107 new cases of enforced disappearances. The missing, the commission’s chairperson Zohra Yusuf said, “were increasingly turning up dead.” The United States’ State Department has voiced concern, and political leaders have called for action.

Continue reading Inside Balochistan’s dirty war – Praveen Swami

The price of Baloch blood

By: Hashim bin Rashid

The ‘clink, clink’ reverberate

Who are these benevolent youth

The gold coins of their blood

Clink clink, clink clink –Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Salima Hashmi, Faiz sahib’s daughter, dug out this gem of a poem and dedicated it to the Baloch martyrs at the Faiz Aman Mela in Lahore last Sunday. The very next day, Monday, three bodies of Baloch missing persons, including former BSO-Azad Chairman Sangat Sana Baloch were found. The day after, Tuesday, Baloch-dominated areas in Balochistan observed a shutter down strike.

‘Chhan chhan, chhan chhan,’ Faiz’s words reverberated across the province.

The body of Sangat Sana was found only two weeks after the Domki murders, murders that had sent the entire Balochistan Assembly, generally the most complicit of the Baloch, up in a furore. Three Baloch ministers stood up to narrate a gruesome incident in which two Baloch youth were bound up and shot by FC troops on the Quetta-Turbat road.

The trouble was that the consequences of the murder of Brahamdagh Bugti’s sister were not fully contemplated by the most likely murderers, although they should have. The lesson of Balochistan always was: blood spilt is thicker than blood flowing. This was indeed why Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killing in an army operation bestowed the legacy of a martyr on him and spurred insurgency.

Balochistan has been under siege since 1947, with the current insurgency that started in 2005 being the fifth: the last four were brutally suppressed through similar military action. It is only this one which is spiralling out of control.

The almost abandon with which intelligence agencies operate in the Baloch province is matchless. Barely anyone is left in doubt as to who picked up whom for allegedly ‘anti-nationalistic’ sentiment and the message is delivered forcefully with every punctured, dumped body of a Baloch missing person.

While the same matters went unnoticed in the last four operations, what changed on the ground was that the Baloch intellectuals and leadership, fearing for their lives, began to take up outposts in exile and developed lobbies to relay the situation in Balochistan to international organisations. In Balochistan, the BLA, the BLF and the BRA continued to fight from the mountains while Baloch political parties and the various factions of the BSO continue to develop the space on the ground to unite the Baloch community and speak to the few in the Pakistani media that still want to hear a Baloch speak about Balochistan.

Coverage has been selective. When the BLA killed 15 FC troops in the army-operated Chamalang coal mines area in response the Domki killings, media splashed the event. But when a counter-military operation was launched in Chamalang, there was complete silence by the media on it.

The reason: journalists based in Balochistan were instructed not to – at the risk of their lives. 20 journalists had been killed in the last decade. However, Baloch resistance websites, forced to operate from outside Pakistan, and still banned in Pakistani cyberspace, began to carry gruesome accounts of unchecked brutalities. However, Pakistani airwaves and cyberspace remained clear of any such ‘anti-state’ accounts.

Baloch blood was being spilled with no one brave enough to speak of it. Amidst this re-launched operation, exiled Baloch leaders were able to play the card they had wished to play much earlier: the US Congress took up a debate on Balochistan and tabled a bill to acknowledge the Baloch ‘right to self-determination’. The same ‘right to self determination’ was, of course, something Pakistan itself had been campaigning foreign powers for in the similarly gruesome 64-year old Indian-occupation of Kashmir. The US is telling Pakistan: what about the suppression in Balochistan?

Balochistan is the thaw no one in Pakistan wishes to admit as much as discuss – or solve. The late politics over it by Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan has come to naught, so clear is Baloch nationalist sentiment. Imran Khan’s pseudo-rally in Quetta, announced for 23 March, seemed to be an attempt to engineer and announce a new Pakistan resolution from the Baloch capital amidst a flailing nationalist project. Nawaz Sharif’s All-Parties Conference on Balochistan fell apart because Baloch parties refused to join in, making the attempt look silly.

No Baloch takes the more than 270 ‘killed-and-dumped’ bodies as a joke. No Baloch believes the army high command when it says, “No military operations are being carried out in Balochistan and no security forces have been involved in human rights abuses.”

And this is the worst part: all political actors and intellectuals in Pakistan, including this writer, are speaking about the Baloch but not to the Baloch. Journalists from Balochistan are able to relay how the army views the mere act of putting up a Pakistani flag as a victory. To the Baloch, the rising flag means being conquered. And it is being conquered that the Baloch resist when they are whisked away and they return as tortured, bullet-ridden bodies.

The price of Baloch blood is not that Pakistan might split again – it is that we will fool ourselves again, as we do now, when the Foreign Office issues condemnations of the US Congress debate on Balochistan, on why we split. To condemn the military operation, to condemn the killing-and-dumping and to return the missing Baloch, that is what should have been the government’s response. In its absence, it will be sure to learn the price of Baloch blood the hard way.

Continue reading The price of Baloch blood

Panetta Sets End to Afghan Combat Role for U.S. in 2013

By ELISABETH BUMILLER

BRUSSELS — In a major milestone toward ending a decade of war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said on Wednesday that American forces would step back from a combat role there as early as mid-2013, more than a year before all American troops are scheduled to come home.

Mr. Panetta cast the decision as an orderly step in a withdrawal process long planned by the United States and its allies, but his comments were the first time that the United States had put a date on stepping back from its central role in the war. The defense secretary’s words reflected the Obama administration’s eagerness to bring to a close the second of two grinding ground wars it inherited from the Bush administration.

Promising the end of the American combat mission in Afghanistan next year would also give Mr. Obama a certain applause line in his re-election stump speech this year. ….

Read more » The New York Times

Pakistan’s rush for more bombs – why?

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Excerpts;

….. In the military’s mind, the Americans are now a threat, equal to or larger than India. They are also considered more of an adversary than even the TTP jihadists who have killed thousands of Pakistani troops and civilians. While the Salala incident was allowed to inflame public opinion, the gory video-taped executions of Pakistani soldiers by the TTP were played down. A further indication is that the LeT/JuD is back in favor (with a mammoth anti-US and anti-India rally scheduled in Karachi next month). Pakistani animosity rises as it sees America tightly embracing India, and standing in the way of a Pakistan-friendly government in Kabul. Once again “strategic defiance” is gaining ground, albeit not through the regional compact suggested by General Mirza Aslam Beg in the early 1990s.

This attitudinal shift has created two strong non-India reasons that favour ramping up bomb production.

First, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are seen to be threatened by America. This perception has been reinforced by the large amount of attention given to the issue in the US mainstream press, and by war-gaming exercises in US military institutes. Thus, redundancy is considered desirable — an American attempt to seize or destroy all warheads would have smaller chances of success if Pakistan had more.

But such an attack is improbable. It is difficult to imagine any circumstances — except possibly the most extreme — in which the US would risk going to war against another nuclear state. Even if Pakistan had just a handful of weapons, no outside power could accurately know the coordinates of the mobile units on which they are located. It is said that an extensive network of underground tunnels exists within which they can be freely moved. Additionally, overground ones are moved from place to place periodically in unmarked trucks. Mobile dummies and decoys can hugely compound difficulties. Moreover, even if a nuclear location was exactly known, it would surely be heavily guarded. This implies many casualties when intruding troops are engaged, thus making a secret bin-Laden type operation impossible.

The second – and perhaps more important — reason for the accelerated nuclear development is left unstated: nukes act as insurance against things going too far wrong. Like North Korea, Pakistan knows that, no matter what, international financial donors will feel compelled to keep pumping in funds. Else a collapsing system may be unable to prevent some of its hundred-plus Hiroshima-sized nukes from disappearing into the darkness.

This insurance could become increasingly important as Pakistan moves deeper into political isolation and economic difficulties mount. Even today, load-shedding and fuel shortages routinely shut down industries and transport for long stretches, imports far exceed exports, inflation is at the double-digit level, foreign direct investment is negligible because of concerns over physical security, tax collection remains minimal, and corruption remains unchecked. An African country like Somalia or Congo would have sunk under this weight long ago.

To conclude: throwing a spanner in the works at the CD (Geneva) may well be popular as an act of defiance. Indeed, many in Pakistan — like Hamid Gul and Imran Khan — derive delicious satisfaction from spiting the world in such ways. But this is not wise for a state that perpetually hovers at the edge of bankruptcy, and which derives most of its worker remittances and export earnings from the very countries it delights in mocking.

To read complete article »  The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/328922/pakistans-rush-for-more-bombs–why/

When Taliban or Al-Qaeda kills Pak soldiers no one talks about it. Too many apologists in Pakistani security establishment!

Handcuffed, blindfolded and shot in the back of the head: Taliban releases horrific video of executions of 15 Pakistani soldiers

The paramilitary troops were abducted on December 23

‘God is greatest’ the Taliban yelled as they fired AK-47 rifles

Horrific video has been copied and distributed in street markets

By Jill Reilly

A video showing fifteen Pakistani soldiers being lined up and shot dead by a firing squad has been released by the Taliban.

The paramilitary troops were abducted on December 23 in what the terror group described as an operation to avenge the deaths of insurgents in Pakistan.

The release of the horrific video is intended to serve as a warning to Pakistan’s 600,000-member army, which has failed to break the back of the insurgents despite superior firepower and a series of offensives against their strongholds in mountain regions.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2090165/Taliban-releases-horrific-video-executions-15-Pakistani-soldiers.html#ixzz1kCtxouI8

Urinating on dead bodies is an insult, war is the crime

. US deplores video of Marines urinating on dead

By ROBERT BURNS and PAULINE JELINEK

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has promised Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai a full investigation of an Internet video that purports to depict four U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters – a video both men condemned Thursday as deplorable.

At least two of the four men have been identified as Marines based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., said a Marine official, speaking on condition of anonymity because there is an active criminal investigation of the incident.

In a public statement, Panetta said such behavior is “entirely inappropriate for members of the United States military” and that those responsible will be held accountable.

The video, posted on the Internet, shows men in Marine combat gear standing in a semi-circle over three bodies. It’s not clear whether the dead were Taliban or civilians or someone else. The title on the posting called them Taliban insurgents and said the men were from Camp Lejeune.

Read more » Associated Press (AP)

Pakistan’s TTP “Taliban” Prove Once Again That They Are Really Monsters – TTP claims killing of 15 abducted FC troops

Mullagoris mourn death of 15 FC men

PESHAWAR: Villagers in Mullagori area in Khyber Agency continued to mourn the death of the 15 Frontier Constabulary (FC) men who were kidnapped by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants last month and killed on Thursday.

All the slain men were from Painda Lalma village and belonged to the Mullagori tribe. Their bodies were transported to the village on Thursday after collective Nimaz-e-Janaza was offered for them at an official event at the FC offices in Peshawar’s Hayatabad town.

Relatives of the dead FC personnel had also reached there to take possession of the bodies. The FC men were overpowered when the TTP fighters led by Commander Asmatullah Shaheen stormed the FC Fort in Mullazai area in Frontier Region Tank in a night-time attack on December 23. They abducted the 15 FC personnel and later killed them. ….

Read more » The News

Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map – By M. CHRIS MASON – Globe and Mail

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have reached an all-time low. The Khyber Pass is closed to NATO cargo, U.S. personnel were evicted from Shamsi airbase and Pakistani observers have been recalled from joint co-operation centres.

Much more importantly, senior officials in Washington now know that Pakistan has been playing them false since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and understand that Pakistan was sheltering Osama bin Laden a few hundred yards from its version of West Point. The recent shelling of Afghan troops inside Afghanistan by the Pakistani army, and the NATO counterstrike, cleared in error by Pakistan, has further embarrassed the Pakistani military.

Continue reading Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map – By M. CHRIS MASON – Globe and Mail

Pakistan – A state determined to kill – itself

A state determined to kill – itself

By Khaled Ahmed

By creating just one point of view, Pakistan may entrench itself in dangerous isolation, and may find it difficult to do course-correction to save its already crippled economy from collapsing

A revisionist state called Pakistan is taking all measures possible to immolate itself. The Army finally ran is rival Husain Haqqani to the ground and was helped in this by internecine party politics with everyone mindlessly baying for each other’s blood as the only politics they know. The national economy is gradually crumbling, its infrastructure run down and people willing to attack and burn because the state is unable to run itself. On top of it all, the most fatal hubris of a weak state – ghairat or honour – rules the collective mind.

The Pakistan Army is the only popular institution in the country with processions now carrying portraits of General Kayani because he carries in him the promise of a war of honour, in other words, an honourable death, because living without honour is not living at all. On 26 November 2011, the NATO forces attacked a checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border and killed 24 Pak troops. No one knows what happened except Pakistan that says it was a pre-planned attack. Pakistan significantly got its TV cable operators to ban the BBC for showing its two-hour documentary Secret Pakistan whose facts cannot be denied or at least no one outside Pakistan will reject them. Pakistan should pause and reflect on these facts and then understand the November 26 attack in their light.

BBC said on its website: ‘Filmed largely in Pakistan and Afghanistan, this documentary explored how a supposed ally stands accused by top CIA officers and Western diplomats of causing the deaths of thousands of coalition soldiers in Afghanistan. It is a charge denied by Pakistan’s military establishment, but the documentary makers meet serving Taliban commanders who describe the support they get from Pakistan in terms of weapons, training and a place to hide’.

Pak Army is not willing to look at the non state actors despoiling the country from the inside. It defies the world asking that they be banned and brought to account and feels itself totally blameless for what happened in Mumbai in 2008 while it focuses on what has happened at Salala in 2011. If you kill others or get them killed by your non state actors, they are prone to make the kind of mistake that was made at Salala. But Pakistan welcomes war even though it has never won one and has been defeated again and again fighting India, the last one being the battle of Kargil. General Kayani has familiarly thrown the gauntlet to the US: do it again and see what happens. The world knows that nothing will happen, except that Pakistan, already in dire economic straits, will be crushed.

Nawaz Sharif has gone to the Supreme Court as the one forum where the PPP government can be pulled down as a corollary to defeating the United States. (Get the traitor for joining enemy America!) He wants to get at the root of the Memogate scandal and is sure that the PPP leader Zardari was trying to double-cross the Pak Army which Nawaz Sharif now wants to stand up for. He wants the PPP government gone in short order before its tenure is up.

It appears that the PMLN, with fresh warpaint on its face, the maximalist Supreme Court, intent on getting Zardari to commit hara-kiri in Switzerland, and a revengeful Army aspiring to defeat the US, are on the same page: Suspend efforts to free-trade with India, defeat the US as an obstacle to Pakistan getting its fair share of leverage in Afghanistan, and stop fighting the war against terrorists because it was never Pakistan’s war, slyly hoping that the Taliban will be on Pakistan’s side in the war against the US.

Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has pledged a crushing retaliation if the US-ISAF forces attacked inside Pakistani territory again, ‘regardless of consequences’ (sic!). He told his troops, ‘Be assured that we will not let the aggressor walk away easily; I have clearly directed that any act of aggression will be responded to with full force, regardless of the cost and consequences’. He wants the troops on the border with Afghanistan to take their own on-the-spot decision against any future NATO attacks without waiting for orders from the GHQ. Now they will fight the US-ISAF forces instead of the Taliban terrorists.

This is a very rash approach to the situation triggered by the November 26 incident, even if it is directed as a morale-booster at the troops and meant to be interpreted differently as strategy for civil society which is obviously not prepared for war on the western front. The Americans are offering regrets even before their formal inquiry into the Salala incident is completed on 21 December. President Obama too has expressed sorrow at the death of Pakistani troops while a formal apology pends till the inquiry reveals NATO’s guilt. There are however statements issuing from Washington saying the attack was unintended and that some fire had come from around the Salala checkpost.

The nation is of one mind, a kind of pre-war symptom that Pakistan experienced in 1965 and 1971 when the Army painted the country into a corner through the hubris of isolationism. It is not natural that the entire nation be of uniform thinking in favour of conflict, especially if this conflict is against an immeasurably stronger adversary. If after the anger felt in the GHQ subsides and more realistic decisions are required to be taken, the disappointment among the public will take the shape of an emotional boomerang of self-disgust. We have seen that happen in the Raymond Davis case after the CIA agent was let off on diyat instead of being publicly hanged. If the common man has succumbed to an attack of ‘ghairat’ and is spoiling for a fight with the US, the state cannot afford to indulge in the bravado of an unequal war.

If the pro-war mind is presuming that the Taliban will fight the NATO-US forces side by side with the Pak Army, putting an end to the problem of law and order in Pakistan, it is sadly deceived. It will in fact be a two-front war, one front being at the back of the Pakistani troops. The Taliban and their master al Qaeda have an agenda that will be fulfilled only by removing our brave Army Chief from his post and then using the Army to take over the country and its nuclear assets. Wisdom demands that we challenge the US realistically rather than rashly, compelling it to make amends for the Salala incident to the benefit of Pakistan.

A consensus of national self-damage can occur even in democracies and it has recently taken place in the US too but in Pakistan one institution of the state dominates all decision-making functions, and those who should be ruling and not allowing this domination are busy in a lethal war of self-diminution.

The fact is that there are two versions of the truth. Unfortunately the American version is what is credited at the international level while the Pakistani version can only hold if the news channels are prevented from puncturing it. Our asymmetric proxy war against India was rejected by the world while the Pakistanis were force-fed with justifiable jihad by non state actors. Its fallout was experienced by Pakistan’s neighbours whose fear of what Pakistan may do next has isolated Pakistan in the region too. ….

Read more » The Friday Times

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20111209&page=2

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