US President Barack Obama says the US is “not at war with Islam – we are at war with the people who have perverted Islam”.
He was speaking to representatives from 60 nations attending a three-day event on extremism that follows attacks in Denmark and France.
Mr Obama said the world had to confront the ideologies that radicalise people.
He said those heading groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda were not religious leaders but terrorists.
Mr Obama said associating Islamic State or al-Qaeda with Islam would be buying into the propaganda of those groups, challenging critics who have questioned him for not describing recent attacks as the work of “Islamic radicals”.
Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-3152321
Washington (CNN)Two U.S. Navy warships moved into new positions in the Red Sea late Monday to be ready to evacuate Americans from the US embassy in Yemen if an order comes to do so, CNN has learned.
So far, there has been no decision to evacuate the embassy. The USS Iwo Jima and the USS Fort McHenry were moved “because they will be in the best position if asked,” by the State Department to evacuate the embassy, a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the planning tells CNN. So far there has been decision to evacuate the embassy, and no request from the State Department for military assistance.
If an evacuation is ordered, the first option would be to have embassy personnel drive to the commercial airport in Sanaa and fly out, the official said. But in the wake of an embassy car being fired Tuesday, the safety of the roads in the capital is now being constantly evaluated, the official said. If embassy workers did drive to the airport it is likely some sort of air cover would be provided, under the current plan.
Other detailed military planning for various options has been finalized, the official said. Those options would be used if a request for military assistance were made.
If helicopters and V-22 aircraft from the ships are sent to Sanaa, it would be a complex operation that could last for several days to fully evacuate “several hundred Americans” from the embassy, the official cautioned. “Nobody should think this would be easy.”
The military is aware the State Department wants to keep the embassy open as long as possible, the official said, noting that it’s a valuable tool to monitor Al Qaeda in Yemen. But behind the scenes the Pentagon is pressing the point that if an evacuation becomes necessary they want to do it before the chaos in Sanaa descends into a ‘non permissive environment,” akin to combat. For now, the US believes the Houthis are not targeting Americans, but its not clear if that will last.
The plan at this point only involves the potential evacuation of State Department personnel. It would be up to State to decide if it wants to extend the potential mission to other Americans in Yemen.
News courtesy: CNN
Read more » http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/20/politics/pentagon-in-position-to-evacuate-u-s-embassy-in-yemen/
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) – Canada and the United States are geographical neighbors with many things in common. But for big American retailers, the Great White North might as well be another planet.
Canada and the United States are geographical neighbors with many things in common. But for big American retailers, the Great White North might as well be another planet.
Target announced Thursday that it was closing its stores in Canada. New CEO Brian Cornell defended the decision by saying that Target ( ) would not have been profitable in Canada until at least 2021.
But Target is not the only American retail giant to have problems in the land of hockey and poutine.
Sears () has struggled in Canada for years, and the company announced in October it was selling a big stake in its Sears Canada ( ) unit in order to raise much-needed cash. (Sears isn’t exactly a huge success on this side of the border either.)
Electronics retailer Best Buy () closed a bunch of stores in Canada two years ago. The company, which also owns Canadian electronics retailer Future Shop, laid off 950 workers last year in January.
And closeout retailer Big Lots () closed its Canadian stores in late 2013.
Read more » CNN
Learn more » http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/15/investing/canada-retail-woes-target-sears/index.html?sr=tw011515canada6pVODtopPhoto&sf35560467=1
See more » https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-23/putin-looks-to-pakistan-as-cold-war-friend-india-buys-u-s-arms.html
A U.S. national was shot dead and another was wounded Tuesday when their car was fired upon in Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh, the State Department confirmed.
“We can confirm that two U.S. citizen employees from Vinnell Arabia, a U.S. defense contractor supporting Saudi National Guard military programs in Riyadh, were shot at a local gas station/store approximately .5 miles from the Vinnell Arabia base in Riyadh, which is located approximately 20 miles from the U.S. Embassy,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
Read more » FoxNews
In an exclusive interview, the Senator who led inquiry into attack says Obama’s plan to confront Sunni jihadis repeats past mistakes
The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) has been aided by the continuing failure of the US Government to investigate the role of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks and its support of jihadi movements such as al-Qaeda in the years since, says former Senator Bob Graham, the co-chairman of the official inquiry into 9/11.
Senator Graham, who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that successive administrations in Washington had turned a blind eye to Saudi support for Sunni extremists. He added: “I believe that the failure to shine a full light on Saudi actions and particularly its involvement in 9/11 has contributed to the Saudi ability to continue to engage in actions that are damaging to the US – and in particular their support for Isis.”
Senator Graham, a distinguished elder statesmen who was twice Democratic governor of Florida before spending 18 years in the US Senate, believes that ignoring what Saudi Arabia was doing and treating it as a reliable American ally contributed to the US intelligence services’ failure to identify Isis as a rising power until after it captured Mosul on 10 June. He says that “one reason I think that our intelligence has been less than stellar” is that not enough attention was given to Saudi Arabia’s fostering of al-Qaeda-type jihadi movements, of which Isis is the most notorious and successful. So far the CIA and other intelligence services have faced little criticism in the US for their apparent failure to foresee the explosive expansion of Isis, which now controls an area larger than Great Britain in northern Iraq and eastern Syria.
More » THE INDEPENDENT
FERGUSON, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in Ferguson, Mo., on Saturday, following nights of protests after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer.
“If we’re going to have justice, we must first have and maintain peace,” Nixon said at a Saturday afternoon press conference. “The eyes of the world are watching.”
Read more » USA Today
WSJ report of frayed relations between Washington and Jerusalem, including combative Obama-Netanyahu phone call, sparks firestorm among Israeli politicians
US condemns shelling of UN school in Gaza but restocks Israeli ammunition
White House issues unusually strong rebuke after 16 deaths
But Pentagon confirms that US resupplied Israel with ammunition
The United States issued a firm condemnation of the shelling of a United Nations school in Gaza that killed at least 16 Palestinians on Wednesday, but also confirmed it restocked Israel’s dwindling supplies of ammunition.
The White House expressed concern that thousands of civilians who had sought protection from the UN were at risk after the shelling of the girls’ elementary school. Some 3,300 civilians were taking shelter there, after being told by Israel to leave their homes.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which runs the school, said its initial assessment was that it has been struck by Israeli artillery.
Read more » The Guardian
Bashar al-Assad has been sworn in for a third seven-year term as president of Syria, after an election last month that opponents dismissed as a “farce”.
State television broadcast what it said was a live ceremony from the presidential palace in Damascus.
Mr Assad vowed to fight “terrorism” until security was restored to all of the country, but also promised to offer “national reconciliation” to opponents.
He has defied calls to step down since an uprising began in March 2011.
The conflict that erupted after the authorities launched a brutal crackdown on protests has left at least 170,000 people dead and driven more than nine million others from their homes.
Mr Assad won 88.7% of the votes cast in the first multi-candidate election in decades, which took place only in areas of Syria that were under government control.
After taking the oath of office on Wednesday, Mr Assad told his supporters: “Syrians, three years and four months… have passed since some cried ‘freedom’.”
“They wanted a revolution, but you have been the real revolutionaries. I congratulate you for your revolution and for your victory,” he added.
“Those who lost their way can now see clearly… the monstrous faces have been unveiled, the mask of freedom and the revolution has fallen.”
Mr Assad also promised that Arab, regional and Western countries who are helping the rebels trying to topple him would soon “pay a high price for supporting terrorism“.
Over the past year, Mr Assad’s forces – backed by Iran and the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah – have consolidated their control over a corridor of territory stretching north from the capital to the city of Homs and then into Hama and Latakia provinces.
However, large swathes of the north and east remain under the control of rebel forces, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis).
The powerful al-Qaeda breakaway declared the creation of a “caliphate” in its territories last month after launching an offensive that saw it capture parts of northern and western Iraq.
Western-backed and more moderate Islamist rebels in Syria, who have been engaged in deadly battles with the group’s fighters since the start of the year, rejected the announcement.
By Rick Newman
A century ago, roughly one-third of U.S. workers toiled in agriculture. Now just 1.5% do. Yet agricultural output has skyrocketed, and the United States, after feeding itself, has plenty of food left over to export.
That explosion in agricultural productivity is considered a crowning achievement of 20th-century capitalism. Yet a similar trend that may now be underway in manufacturing and even the service economy isn’t viewed with the same reverential awe. Instead, the rise of robots and computers in place of workers looms as one of the great challenges in capitalism’s next century.
Read more » Yahoo News
US company World Eco Energy has signed a preliminary agreement to invest $1.175 billion to generate electricity in Iran. The plan is to turn solid waste into power.
Representatives from the American company and the Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province Governor General, Malek-Mohammad Qorbanpour, signed the deal, the Tehran Times reported.
It is expected the project will create 650 immediate jobs, with another 2,000 emerging over the next two to three years, Oorbanpour told the IRNA news agency. Local companies will also be investing the same amount of money into the project.
Read more » http://rt.com/news/170768-iran-energy-deal-usa/
The deputy head of Russia’s supreme security body says US international dominance is being replaced by multiple centers of power. He urged a global agreement on the results of the Cold War, warning that the world could otherwise become engulfed in chaos.
“The United States has an impression that the breakup of the Soviet Union was the only result of the Cold War. This is arguable, and this is possible. But no one has attempted to analyze the results or make any conclusions from the situation. The unipolar world headed by Americans simply appeared,” Evgeny Lukyanov told the RIA Novosti.
“However, this status quo was not built to last. New power centers have appeared on the international arena, including the BRICS nations, and Russia itself has managed to regain its stance. Nations openly declare their interests and demand respect to their basic rights. This is how the US hegemony on the international arena has ended and of course Washington officials cannot agree with this,” the Russian official stated. Lukyanov emphasized in the interview that the USSR was no more.
Chuck Hagel: Beijing ‘destabilising’ South China Sea
Chuck Hagel: “China has undertaken destabilising, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea “Hagel:
The US defence secretary has accused China of “destabilising” the South China Sea, saying its action threatened the region’s long-term progress. Chuck Hagel said the US would “not look the other way” when nations ignored international rules. Mr Hagel was speaking at a three-day summit – the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore – that involves the US and South-East Asian countries.
Read more » BBC
Reuters – By Sui-Lee Wee
BEIJING (Reuters) – China summoned the U.S. ambassador after the United States accused five Chinese military officers of hacking into American companies to steal trade secrets, warning Washington it could take further action, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
Read more » Yahoo News
Pakistan’s intelligence agency hid and protected Osama bin Laden. The chief of the army even knew of the cover up. Some ally.
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.
International community scrambles to Russian moves in Crimea
President Barack Obama said the United States stands with the international community in affirming that “there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine” and defended the country’s citizens’ right to “determine their own future,” at a press conference Friday.
A senior U.S. official said Obama and European leaders would consider skipping the G8 summit in Sochi, Russia, if the country intervenes militarily in Ukraine. He also said a possible response could include avoiding deeper trade and commerce ties Moscow is seeking. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called for sanctions against “Russian individuals and entities who use force or interfere in Ukraine’s domestic affairs.”
Pentagon’s Chuck Hagel plans to downsize US military
Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the US Army to its smallest size since before the US entered World War Two.
Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to 440,000-450,000 personnel, down from 520,000 currently.
Cold War-era Air Force fleets – the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack jet – will also be retired.
The US defence budget remains higher than during most of the Cold War.
‘Difficult decisions ahead’
On Monday, Mr Hagel noted the US military had come under pressure to downsize after two costly foreign wars. “This is a time for reality,” he said
WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama welcomed Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to the White House Friday, defying China, which said the meeting would “seriously impair” ties between the two countries.
The encounter took place in the Map Room on the ground floor of the president’s residence and not the Oval Office, which Obama usually uses to meet foreign leaders and visiting dignitaries.
“The president is currently meeting w/His Holiness the @DalaiLama in his capacity as an internationally respected religious & cultural leader,” the US National Security Council said on Twitter.
A Pakistani Army major, who was until recently a serving officer, has been arrested in connection with the failed Times Square bomb plot.
By Rob Crilly, in Islamabad
Pakistani and US sources say there is evidence that mobile phone calls were exchanged between Major Adnan Ejaz and the suspected would-be bomber, Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested on May 3 as he attempted to fly out of New York.
A Pakistani law enforcement sources said that the major had mobile phone contact with Shahzad on the day of the attempted bombing, including one conversation at the same time the bomber was allegedly parking his car loaded with propane tanks and explosives.
He had also met the naturalised American in Islamabad, he claimed.
Shahzad, the son of a retired Pakistani Air Force officer, has told interrogators he received training from the Pakistan Taliban in its rugged mountain stronghold of Waziristan.
Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have a long history of working with Jihadi organisations as an instrument of foreign policy.
Will China’s new supersonic warhead bust US missile shield?
China has tested an ICBM hypersonic warhead. It follows from the test results that China may deploy its ICBMs with these kinds of warheads in the foreseeable future, says an expert with the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, Vassily Kashin.
The testing of the ICBM hypersonic warhead is the first practical achievement of a large-scale programme to create hypersonic weapons, a programme that China is translating into life. China has been engaged in developing hypersonic cruise vehicles for several years. In July 2012, the Chinese media reported the commissioning in China of a unique high-speed wind tunnel capable of testing model aircraft at speeds of up to Mach 9. Now China has reported the flight test of a hypersonic cruise vehicle. The basic questions that arise in this context are how the new technology will influence the Chinese nuclear strategy and what other hypersonic weapon projects China is carrying out.
by Anwar Iqbal
WASHINGTON: The United States never thought of consulting Pakistan before raiding the Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad because it feared that the ISI was protecting him, writes former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.
Best of Frenemies: Pakistan’s Husain Haqqani has tough words for his home country -and for its supposed ally, the United States
Pakistan and the United States aren’t allies – they “just pretend to be allies.” Or so says Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S. He’s making waves with his latest book, Magnificent Delusions, which speaks hard truths about the difficult relationship between the two countries. In 2011, Haqqani was forced to resign as Islamabad’s envoy to Washington following a controversy in which he was accused of delivering, through an intermediary, a note to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asking for U.S. help to ward off a supposed coup in Pakistan after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden. (He has denied the episode and also said there was no attempted coup.) He was investigated by the Supreme Court at home for treason, and he eventually left the country, saying his life was at risk. Haqqani returned to the United States and now teaches international relations at Boston University. Newsweek Pakistan spoke with him by email about his book and the delusions that continue to impair Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S.
NW: You have been a consistent advocate of resetting Pakistan-America relations on the basis of pragmatism. What exactly does this entail?
HH: For 66 years, Pakistan has sought close ties with the U.S. with the sole purpose of offsetting India’s size and military advantage. This has been a security relationship. But no nation can become a regional power while also being dependent on assistance from other countries. A better option for Pakistan would be to normalize relations with India and Afghanistan and then have a broader, nonsecurity relationship with the United States. Pakistanis resent the U.S. partly because we have been dependent on it. The United States had not been constant in its relations with Pakistan, but it was also wrong on Pakistan’s part to expect constancy. I have studied several models of partnership with the United States and wondered why most other U.S. allies since World War II have prospered while Pakistan has not. The answer came down to our unwillingness to have an honest relationship. South Korea and Taiwan aligned their security policies and perceptions with the Americans. Pakistan refused to accept U.S. advice, especially when its regional view was questioned. My vision, encouraged by [former prime minister] Benazir Bhutto, was for a strategic rather than tactical relationship. It would not be based on asking for military aid in return for providing some services to the Americans in their concerns. We need to build a self-confident Pakistan, free of the burdens of past blunders, especially jihadist misadventures. American assistance should be directed toward standing on our own feet. We need a relationship involving education, tourism, investment, and trade – like other countries have – not one that is all about seeking military equipment and aid in private and abusing America in public.
“Many people think that Congress regulates Wall Street , but in fact it is Wall Street that regulates Congress.” ~ Sen. Bernie Sanders
By Sandeep Dikshit
Withdraws some privileges in retaliation for arrest of Indian deputy consul
India on Tuesday set in motion an array of retaliatory steps against U.S. diplomats based across the country for the manner of arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York, signalling the escalation of an unprecedented bilateral row.
The government asked all U.S. consular officers to turn in their identity cards and the entire American diplomatic corps their airport passes while senior Congress leaders snubbed a visiting U.S. Congressional delegation for the second straight day by refusing to meet it.
The government also ordered the Delhi Police to remove concrete barricades on public land and roads that have existed for years around the U.S. embassy, sought salary details and bank accounts of all Indian staff employed at the missions and stopped all import clearances for the U.S. embassy, especially for liquor.
By Angus McDowall
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia seems to have few viable options for pursuing a more independent and forthright foreign policy, despite its deep unease about the West’s tentative rapprochement with Iran.
Upset with the United States, senior Saudis have hinted at a range of possibilities, from building strategic relations with other world powers to pushing a tougher line against Iranian allies in the Arab world and, if world powers fail to foil Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, even seeking its own atomic bomb.
But alternative powers are hard even to contemplate for a nation that has been a staunch US ally for decades. Russia is on the opposite side to Riyadh over the Syrian war and China’s military clout remains modest compared with the United States.
Robert Jordan, US ambassador to Riyadh from 2001-03, said there would be limits to any Saudi alliances with other powers.
“There is no country in the world more capable of providing the protection of their oil fields, and their economy, than the US, and the Saudis are aware of that. We’re not going to see them jump out of that orbit,” he said in an interview.
By DECLAN WALSH
LONDON — When he leaves his post on Friday, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the inscrutable Pakistani Army chief and former spymaster, will end a nearly decade-long chapter as the focus of American fears and frustrations in Pakistan, the reluctant partner in a contentious and often ill-tempered strategic dance.
Suspicious American officials frequently accused him, and the 600,000-member army he led, of double-dealing and bad faith: supporting the Afghan Taliban, allying with militant groups who bombed embassies and bases, and sheltering Osama bin Laden.
Those accusations were made in private, usually, but exploded into the open in late 2011 when Adm. Mike Mullen, the American military chief who sought to befriend General Kayani over golf and dinners, issued an angry tirade to Congress about Pakistani duplicity.
The taciturn General Kayani weathered those accusations with a sang-froid that left both allies and enemies guessing about what, or whom, he knew. But few doubted that he nursed grievances, too — about C.I.A. covert operations, the humiliating raid that killed Bin Laden, and perceived American arrogance and inconstancy.
General Kayani, 61, steps down with those arguments still lingering. And reckoning with his legacy exposes a cold truth at the heart of the turbulent American-Pakistani relationship: that after years of diplomatic effort, and billions of dollars in aid, the countries’ aims and methods remain fundamentally opposed — particularly when it comes to the endgame next door in Afghanistan.
“We have almost no strategic convergences with Pakistan, at any level,” admitted a senior American defense official. “You’ll never change that, and it’s naïve to think we can do it with an appeal to the war on terror.”
It is rare that a country’s top leaders are seen virtually bawling over the death of its enemy number one. But Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and the chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Mr Imran Khan did pull that off. The two leaders have led the national wailing over the killing of Hakeemullah Mehsud and his cohorts in a drone attack on his house in Dande Darpa Khel village, North Waziristan Agency (NWA). The two Khans made it sound like a helpful boy scout and not the ringleader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had been assassinated. The most brutal terrorist is being presented like an apostle of peace who was about to lead his country to the Promised Land. And, of course, the big bad US is the vicious villain according to the Interior Minister and his former college mate Mr Imran Khan.
The lamentation for Hakeemullah Mehsud and the vitriol against the US is literally a replay of how Pakistan and its leaders had reacted to Osama bin Laden’s 2011 killing. After bin Laden’s death there was a lucid interval of a few days where the then president Mr Asif Zardari and his close aides sought to take the opportunity to make a clean break with Pakistan’s dubious past association with jihadist terrorism. But they could not withstand the drummed up anti-US sentiment and caved in. The leaked bin Laden Commission Report, which has still not been released by Pakistan, essentially identifies the US, not bin Laden or the terrorist outfit(s) he sired, as Pakistan’s enemy number one. The report said that the US had “acted like a criminal thug”, and it termed the US raid on bin Laden’s lair “an act of war”. Similar rhetoric was codified in the September 9, 2013 All Parties Conference’s declaration that condemned the US actions as “illegal and immoral” and responsible for the terrorist ‘blowback’. The same document, which elevated the murderous thugs like Hakeemullah Mehsud to ‘stakeholder’ level and threatened to take the drone attacks issue to the UN, now serves as the guideline for negotiating peace with the TTP.
MIRANSHAH: With marble floors, lush green lawns and a towering minaret, the $120,000 farm where feared Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died in a US drone strike was no grubby mountain cave.
Mehsud spent his days skipping around Pakistan’s rugged tribal areas to avoid the attentions of US drones.
But his family, including two wives, had the use of an eight-roomed farmhouse set amid lawns and orchards growing apples, oranges, grapes and pomegranates.
As well as the single-storey house, the compound in Dandey Darpakhel village, five kilometres north of Miramshah, was adorned with a tall minaret, purely for decorative purposes.
Militant sources said the property in the North Waziristan tribal area was bought for Mehsud nearly a year ago for $120,000, a huge sum by Pakistani standards, by close aide Latif Mehsud, who was captured by the US in Afghanistan last month.
An AFP journalist visited the property several times when the previous owner, a wealthy landlord, lived there.
With the Pakistan army headquarters for restive North Waziristan just a kilometre away, locals thought of Mehsud’s compound as the “safest” place in a dangerous area.
Its proximity to a major military base recalls the hideout of Osama bin Laden in the town of Abbottabad, on the doorstep of Pakistan’s elite military academy.
“I saw a convoy of vehicles two or three times in this street but I never thought Hakimullah would have been living here. It was the safest place for us before this strike,” local shopkeeper Akhter Khan told AFP.
This illusion of safety was shattered on Friday when a US drone fired at least two missiles at Mehsud’s vehicle as it stood at the compound gate waiting to enter, killing the Pakistani Taliban chief and four cadres.
The area around Dandey Darpakhel is known as a hub for the Haqqani network, a militant faction blamed for some of the most high-profile attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.
ISLAMABAD: Even as an ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani was one of the most eloquent critics of Pakistan’s military, the country’s most powerful institution.
Haqqani, once derided at home as Washington’s ambassador to Pakistan for his pro-Western views, has taken a step further, accusing the government of directly supporting militant groups in his latest book “Magnificent Delusions”.
Now a professor of international relations at Boston University, he was ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011, a turbulent time in US-Pakistan relations that culminated in a raid by US special forces in May 2011 that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Haqqani resigned in November 2011 and left Pakistan after becoming involved in a scandal surrounding a secret memo that accused the army of plotting a coup and sought help from the United States to rein in the military.
Haqqani, who has denied any connection to the memo, spoke to Reuters by telephone from the United States about his book and his views on US-Pakistan relations.
Q: Why do you believe Pakistan supports militant groups?
A: As far as terrorism is concerned, Pakistan was the conduit of weapons and training for the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets. After that, Pakistan switched it to India, especially in Kashmir. And that is the point at which the United States said “You are engaging in terrorism”. The Pakistani response was “But we started it together”.
The problem is that the “pro-jihadi” narrative has become so mainstream that it is very difficult for any government to … put all fighters out of business. But Pakistan would not find peace without putting all of them out of business.
Q: Why is this happening now?
A: The whole idea of building a nation around religious nationalism has backfired. What has happened is that religious nationalism has only produced extremism. If Pakistan were to be an Islamic state, the question arises “What kind of Islamic state?” We are now in a virtual civil war between various sects and militias attached to these sects who don’t tolerate each other.