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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: September 14, 2014, 07:43:26 AM
If this report is to be believed, ISIS is a billion dollar +/year enterprise. Potential for a lot of mischief.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1131922/islamic-states-war-chest-grows-by-3m-daily

Islamic State's war chest grows by $3m daily
WASHINGTON: Islamic State militants, who once relied on wealthy Persian Gulf donors for money, have become a self-sustaining financial juggernaut, earning more than $3 million a day from oil smuggling, human trafficking, theft and extortion, according to US intelligence officials and private experts.

The extremist group's resources exceed that “of any other terrorist group in history,” said a US intelligence official who, like others interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss classified assessments.

Such riches are one reason that American officials are so concerned about the group even while acknowledging they have no evidence it is plotting attacks against the United States.

The Islamic State group has taken over large sections of Syria and Iraq, and controls as many as 11 oil fields in both countries, analysts say.

It is selling oil and other goods through generations-old smuggling networks under the noses of some of the same governments it is fighting: Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, Turkey and Jordan.

While US intelligence does not assess that those governments are complicit in the smuggling, the Obama administration is pressing them do to more to crack down.

The illicit oil is generally transported on tanker trucks, analysts said. “There's a lot of money to be made,” said Denise Natali, who worked in Kurdistan as an American aid official and is now a senior research fellow at National Defense University.

“The Kurds say they have made an attempt to close it down, but you pay off a border guard you pay off somebody else and you get stuff through."

The price the Islamic State group fetches for its smuggled oil is discounted $25 to $60 for a barrel of oil that normally sells for more than $100 but its total profits from oil are exceeding $3 million a day, said Luay al-Khatteeb, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution's Doha Center in Qatar.

The group also has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from smuggling antiquities out of Iraq to be sold in Turkey, al-Khatteeb said, and millions more from human trafficking by selling women and children as sex slaves. Other revenue comes from extortion payments, ransom from kidnapped hostages, and outright theft of all manner of materials from the towns the Islamic State group has seized, analysts say.

“It's cash-raising activities resemble those of a mafia-like organization,” a second US intelligence official said, reflecting the assessment of his agency. “They are well-organized, systematic and enforced through intimidation and violence."

Even prior to seizing Mosul in June, for example, the group began to impose “taxes” on nearly every facet of economic activity, threatening death for those unwilling to pay, US intelligence officials say.

An analysis by the Council on Foreign Relations estimated the group was reaping $8 million a month from extortion in Mosul alone. Once the group took over Mosul, in northern Iraq, and other areas, it grabbed millions of dollars in cash from banks, though not the hundreds of millions initially reported, US intelligence officials say.

This spring, four French and two Spanish journalists held hostage by Islamic State extremists were freed after their governments paid multimillion-dollar ransoms through intermediaries. The Islamic State group “has managed to successfully translate territorial control in northern Syria and portions of Iraq into a means of revenue generation,” said a third US intelligence official.

Analysts say the group is relying on the fact that the area along the border between Iraq and Turkey has long been a smugglers haven, and was made more so by the fall of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 2003. Generations of families have illicitly moved goods through the region.

The Islamic State is the successor to al-Qaida in Iraq, which was founded by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. For a time, the group was allied with the Nusra Front, the al-Qaida affiliate that is a key player among the rebels battling Syrian President Bashar Assad. The Islamic State group has since broken with the Nusra Front and al-Qaida.

In the early days of the Syrian civil war, the Islamic State group was funded in large part by donations from wealthy residents of Gulf States, including Kuwait and Qatar, American officials have said.

“A number of fundraisers operating in more permissive jurisdictions, particularly in Kuwait and Qatar, are soliciting donations to fund al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” David Cohen, the Treasury department's top counterterrorism official, said in a speech in March. ISIL is an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.

That stream of funding has diminished in recent months as the group's violent tactics have drawn worldwide attention, US intelligence officials say.

The group's reliance on oil as its main source of revenue could easily be disrupted by American airstrikes, officials say. But so far, no decision has been made to target Iraqi or Syrian oil infrastructure, which is serviced by civilian workers who may have been conscripted.
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An old Pak Intl Airlines Ad on: September 13, 2014, 09:17:07 PM
An old Pak International Airlines ad...might have been the spark for KSM.

3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 03, 2014, 09:48:33 PM
Looks like AQ is feeling envious of ISIS, what with all the beheadings...
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Al-Qaida-announces-India-wing-renews-loyalty-to-Taliban-chief/articleshow/41640746.cms

This branch of AQ will be for south asia...
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 27, 2014, 08:21:05 PM
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bq6PfAXCMAEudNL.jpg:large

Weather in Af-Pak

5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 05, 2014, 08:14:12 PM
Some what humorous comments from the web..as to whether bergdahl deserted!

"Meanwhile, a classified Army report on the soldier’s desertion, leaked to the New York Times, says that the Army concluded he had walked off of his own free will, but could not conclude he intended to desert. Editor thinks America had better do something about the way its Army functions before the entire Republic goes down the sewers. It does not matter what the soldier intended. He left his post in a combat zone with no intention to return. That’s called desertion. How do we know he did not intend to desert. Oh dear. To keep this simple, you have exchanges with his father saying the soldier did not like the situation, and his father saying the son must follow his conscience. We have son saying that the Army and America were lies. The son checked with his leader how much cash money he could obtain, and if he walked off what could he take or not take. The items he could not take – eg, his weapon – he carefully left behind. He had his belongings mailed back to the States. If the Army was unable to conclude he did not intend to come back, the Army is composed of fools and idiots that need to be handcuffed and handed over to the Taliban, AQ, Islamic groups everywhere, Assad, Kim III, and so on. This way they can destroy our enemies from within, instead of destroying us from within.
 
·          And – dear US Army – when a soldier abandons his post in the face of the enemy after considerable thought and preparation,  what do you think he intends? To go down to the local drag, shoot a little pool with the Taliban, have a few beers, gamble a few rounds, and pick up a local girl for some joy, and then return in the morning?  If Army cannot conclude he intended to desert, it’s probably too much to expect the Army to conclude that the world is round. Or are we setting the bar too high with that question? How about “does the Army realize if it holds its breath till it dies it is, well, dead?” Something like that. Make up your own absurd example, Editor cant do the thinking every day and make sense."
6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 31, 2014, 07:30:19 AM
I think the pak taliban split reflects the major power shifts and realignments that are happening in the region. Players are adjusting to what they perceive as the new power equation and realities.

1. Afghan elections: Abdullah Abdullah a Tajik with pashtun blood vs Ghani a pashtun. Karzai put up his candidate Rassoul, whose main function was to split the vote, with that out of the way, Karzai, I believe is supporting Abdullah. Or in other words, Ghani is Pak supported, whereas Abdullah is likely to be more friendly with India.
2. India is providing weapons to Afghans (karzai govt), combine this with India's newly elected nationalist strongman Modi, during whose swearing in ceremony pak supported taliban attacked the Indian embassy in Herat Afghanistan to create a hostage crisis (and failed), the situation does not look favorable for Pak. India recently selected Ajit Doval as NSA, someone who spent years in pak as an undercover agent. http://www.firstpost.com/politics/why-ex-ib-chief-ajit-doval-is-the-best-nsa-india-could-ever-get-1550847.html.
3. US withdrawl or decrease in forces will have major consequences in the region, how it will play out is hard to predict. The Indian strategy will be to deny pak strategic depth in Afghanistan, partly by providing weapons to Afghans.
4. After OBL's killing, the paki army was on the backfoot, but its now back in control. Together with the mullahs the army has weakened the political class. I think the mullahs and radicals are winning...ie pak continues to go down the tubes.
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 27, 2014, 09:37:21 PM
 Compared to 32000 presently. I think he is saying that it will be 9800 this year, with complete withdrawl by 2016.
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India/Indian Ocean (and India-afpakia and India-China) on: May 19, 2014, 07:04:48 PM
The Tsu-NaMo (NaMo=narendra modi) wave that swept India....is a major event..after 30 years, a single party won enough seats to be the majority party. NaMo has shown that he can govern, is a hindu nationalist (so wont tolerate misbehaviour from pak or China)...and will even work with the muslims and take them along. I am quite bullish on India....YA.

‘Modi-fied’ India: Implications of BJP’s landslide win
 
Rajeev Sharma is a New Delhi-based journalist, author and strategic analyst. He tweets @Kishkindha and can be reached at bhootnath004@yahoo.com.


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stormed into power on Friday riding on the crest of a Narendra Modi tsunami which gave a clear majority to a single party for the first time in India for 30 years and swept the ruling Congress into oblivion.

It has become the worst-ever electoral performance by the Grand Old Party. With Modi emerging as the undisputed strong man of India, this will have its own implications for the world.

Here is my take on the specific countries and regions that are crucial for India.

South Asia/India’s Neighborhood: Modi’s emergence as the undisputed strongman in India and the sole decision-maker should make India’s smaller neighbors more cautious. Nepal and the Maldives have repeatedly cocked a snook at India during their tenure of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government headed by Manmohan Singh. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh bugged India with their own pinpricks. They could afford to do so as the UPA government was bogged down in coalition politics. This mindset should see a sea change.

Pakistan: The country’s entire leadership, particularly military, is prone to India-bashing, something that would get a fitting verbal lashing from the Modi government if such statements were to emanate from Pakistan. However, the most interesting thing to see in India-Pakistan relations will be whether Pakistani firing from across the Line of Control (LoC), which has picked up momentum in the past couple of weeks, will continue this trend. Incidentally, for the first time in its history, the BJP has won three out of six Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir, the state which is at the core of the India-Pakistan dispute, and also the venue of the Kargil War in 1999. This in itself should be seen as a huge statement from the people of India to Pakistan.

China:
Modi will be more careful when dealing with China. However, it will have to be seen whether China makes a Depsang Valley-like 16-km-deep incursion in Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) under a Modi-led government.


Russia, Japan: These two countries will be the most important in the entire world from the perspective of the Modi government. The Modi administration will deepen ties with both: Russia to counterbalance the United States and Japan to counterbalance China. The Modi-led India should also see a huge fillip in trade and economic ties with these two countries.

United States: Modi will go slow with the US and wait for the Americans’ overtures before taking the first step. The US has pursued a policy of denying a visa to Modi over his alleged but unproven involvement in the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, and has foolishly stuck to this policy when the entire West has changed its stance toward Modi. Obama called to say that visa will not be an issue...but it may be too late...YA

Domestic implications

The Indian election results have also come up with three trail-blazing new trends, each one auguring well for the nation of 1.2 billion people.

One: The coalition era that descended on India a quarter century ago is over, as the BJP has crossed the magic number of 272 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha on its own and does not need any allies – pre-poll or post-poll – to run the government. However, it is another question whether Modi, after he takes over as prime minister of India in a few days, will be able to rope in the BJP’s regional allies in his government. The flip side of this is that it does not mean that it is sunset time for regional parties because parties like AIADMK (Tamil Nadu), Trinamool Congress (West Bengal) and Biju Janata Dal (Orissa) have done very well without the support of any party, national or regional.

Two: For the first time, factors like caste, creed, religion and region that have been the bane of Indian politics have been thrown by the wayside. The BJP has posted unprecedented electoral victories in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar which are notorious for their caste and religion-based politics. Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state in terms of population and number of MPs in the Lok Sabha, is a classic example. BJP nearly swept the state winning 71 out of 80 seats (as against just ten in the last election). The Samajwadi Party (SP) plummeted to just five seats from its previous tally of 23 seats, while the worst fate befell the Bahujan Samaj Party or BSP (previous tally: 20) which drew a blank despite having the third largest vote share. Both the SP and BSP have, for decades, thrived on parochial political considerations, such as caste and appeasement of Muslims.

Three: In Modi, India has seen for the first time the emergence of a single individual, born in the post-independence era, who is today the most powerful man in India despite humble origins. He has single-handedly outstripped the record of the previously best leader the BJP ever produced – former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He is the only prime ministerial candidate in the history of India to have won by a margin of over 570,000 votes. Ironically, Modi, who contested his first Lok Sabha election from two constituencies, posted this feat from Vadodara in his native state of Gujarat, where the BJP won all 26 Lok Sabha seats, but he is likely to resign from this seat and retain the fiercely-contested Varanasi seat, which he won by a margin of just fifty thousand votes.

For the first time in decades, perhaps since the time of the Congress stalwart and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the world will be dealing with a strong leader who has a mind of his own. It will have to be seen whether Modi displays Shinzo Abe’s Abenomics or pursues hard economic decisions like Margaret Thatcher, or shows the gall to take tough strategic decisions like Vladimir Putin.

The writer is a New Delhi-based independent journalist and strategic analyst who tweets @Kishkindha

9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chellaney: Why the US must cut Afghanistan loose on: May 12, 2014, 08:38:46 PM
I would like to cite some work by Mr.Chellaney, from a Indian geopolitical perspective. I personally think the US will not be succesfull by keeping a small force in Afgh, some of the reasons are discussed below. Russia has started to make inroads into Afghanistan, ie things are moving full circle. The Russians are expanding their influence at the periphery (Crimea, Ukraine) and now Afghanistan. It is very difficult for the US to support a physical presence, when most supplies come thro Pak. The fact that Afgh. could have elections suggests that the Taliban did not interfere/could not interfere. One theory is that the Taliban have been bought off and are in negotiations with various political groups, a second is that Pak was bought off, to not interfere in the elections. Of course, its always possible that the Taliban are a spent force (which seems extremely unlikely)....YA


Why the U.S. must cut Afghanistan loose
BRAHMA CHELLANEY


Afghanistan’s presidential election, now apparently headed for a runoff stage, will mark the first peaceful transition of power in the history of that unfortunate country, ravaged by endless war since 1979. Displaying courage in the face of adversity, Afghans braved Taliban attacks and threats to vote in large numbers on April 5.

After almost 35 years of bloodletting, Afghans are desperate for peace. President Hamid Karzai’s successor will have his work cut out for him, including promoting national reconciliation by building bridges among the country’s disparate ethnic and political groups; strengthening the fledgling, multiethnic national army; and ensuring free and fair parliamentary elections next year.

The role of external players, however, overshadows these internal dynamics. Two external factors will significantly influence Afghanistan’s political and security transition: the likely post-2014 role of U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces; and interference by Pakistan, which still harbours militant sanctuaries and the command-and-control structure for Afghan insurgency.

Pakistani interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs can only be made to stop if U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration finally makes that a condition for continuing its generous aid to cash-strapped Pakistan – a remote prospect.

Mr. Obama, meanwhile, has made a U-turn on the U.S. and NATO military presence in Afghanistan and is now seeking bases there for a virtually unlimited period. He had declared in Cairo in 2009, “We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there.” But in a change of heart, he now wants bases there to house a fairly sizable U.S.-led NATO force armed with the authority to “conduct combat operations.”

The U.S. President is under political attack at home for having failed to persuade Mr. Karzai to sign a bilateral security agreement, which is to provide the legal basis for keeping U.S. bases. The fact that the U.S. left no residual forces in Iraq when it ended its decade-long occupation of that country has made the appeal particularly strong to maintain bases in Afghanistan, where America is seeking to terminate the longest war in its history.

Although Kabul and Washington have finalized the terms of the bilateral agreement, Mr. Karzai withstood intense U.S. pressure to sign, leaving that critical decision to his successor. In truth, Mr. Karzai was afraid that if he did, he could go down in Afghan history as the second Shah Shuja. A puppet ruler installed by the British in 1839, Shah Shuja was deposed and assassinated three years later, but not before precipitating the First Anglo-Afghan War.

Mr. Obama now has little choice but to wait and try to persuade the next Afghan president to sign the accord. He has not, however, grasped the main reason why his country’s war has foundered – failure to reconcile military and political objectives. From the time it invaded in 2001, America pursued a military surge in Afghanistan, but an aid surge to the next-door country harbouring terrorist havens and the “Quetta Shura,” as the Afghan Taliban leadership there is known. The war was made unwinnable by Washington’s own refusal to target Pakistan for actively abetting elements killing or maiming U.S. troops.

Terrorism and insurgency have never been defeated in any country without choking transboundary sustenance and support. Afghans have borne the brunt from two fronts – U.S. military intervention and Pakistan’s use of surrogate militias.

Mr. Obama’s basing strategy could presage a shift from a full-fledged war to a low-intensity war, but without fixing the incongruous duality in American policy. Indeed, a smaller U.S. force in Afghanistan would only increase Washington’s imperative to mollycoddle Pakistani generals and cut a deal with the Quetta Shura in order to secure its bases.

Washington plans to gift Pakistan its surplus military hardware in Afghanistan, including several hundred mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles. It has also agreed to taper off drone strikes in Pakistan.

Even more revealing is what the drones have not targeted. To preserve the option of reaching a Faustian bargain with the Afghan Taliban, the U.S. has not carried out a single air, drone or ground attack against its leadership, which is ensconced in Pakistan’s sprawling Baluchistan province. U.S. drone strikes have been restricted to the Pakistani tribal region to the north, Waziristan, where they have targeted the Pakistani Taliban – the nemesis of the Pakistani military.

To make matters worse, the U.S. plans to start significantly cutting aid to Kabul beginning next year, which threatens to undermine Afghan security forces, a key part of keeping the Afghan Taliban at bay.

Last May, Mr. Obama recalled the warning of James Madison, America’s fourth president: that “no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” Yet he now seeks a long-term military engagement in Afghanistan, which is good news for the Pakistani generals but not for U.S., Afghan or regional interests.

Admittedly, there are no good options. But an indefinite role for foreign forces would be the equivalent of administering the same medicine that has seriously worsened the patient’s condition.

It is past time for Afghanistan to be in charge of its own security and destiny. Outside assistance should be limited to strengthening the Kabul government’s hand.
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: February 11, 2014, 08:31:43 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/04/world/asia/karzai-has-held-secret-contacts-with-the-taliban.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20140204&_r=0

Karzai Arranged Secret Contacts With the Taliban
By AZAM AHMED and MATTHEW ROSENBERGFEB. 3, 2014

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has refused to sign a deal he brokered for security after Western troops leave. Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has been engaged in secret contacts with the Taliban about reaching a peace agreement without the involvement of his American and Western allies, further corroding already strained relations with the United States.

The secret contacts appear to help explain a string of actions by Mr. Karzai that seem intended to antagonize his American backers, Western and Afghan officials said. In recent weeks, Mr. Karzai has continued to refuse to sign a long-term security agreement with Washington that he negotiated, insisted on releasing hardened Taliban militants from prison and distributed distorted evidence of what he called American war crimes.

The clandestine contacts with the Taliban have borne little fruit, according to people who have been told about them. But they have helped undermine the remaining confidence between the United States and Mr. Karzai, making the already messy endgame of the Afghan conflict even more volatile. Support for the war effort in Congress has deteriorated sharply, and American officials say they are uncertain whether they can maintain even minimal security cooperation with Mr. Karzai’s government or its successor after coming elections.

Frustrated by Mr. Karzai’s refusal to sign the security agreement, which would clear the way for American troops to stay on for training and counterterrorism work after the end of the year, President Obama has summoned his top commanders to the White House on Tuesday to consider the future of the American mission in Afghanistan.

Western and Afghan officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the peace contacts, said that the outreach was apparently initiated by the Taliban in November, a time of deepening mistrust between Mr. Karzai and his allies. Mr. Karzai seemed to jump at what he believed was a chance to achieve what the Americans were unwilling or unable to do, and reach a deal to end the conflict — a belief that few in his camp shared.

The peace contacts, though, have yielded no tangible agreement, nor even progressed as far as opening negotiations for one. And it is not clear whether the Taliban ever intended to seriously pursue negotiations, or were simply trying to derail the security agreement by distracting Mr. Karzai and leading him on, as many of the officials said they suspected.

As recently as October, a long-term agreement between the United States and Afghanistan seemed to be only a few formalities away from completion, after a special visit by Secretary of State John Kerry. The terms were settled, and a loya jirga, or assembly of prominent Afghans, that the president summoned to ratify the deal gave its approval. The continued presence of American troops after 2014, not to mention billions of dollars in aid, depended on the president’s signature. But Mr. Karzai repeatedly balked, perplexing Americans and many Afghans alike.

Peace Contacts Fade

The first peace feeler from the Taliban reached Mr. Karzai shortly before the loya jirga, Afghan officials said, and since then the insurgents and the government have exchanged a flurry of messages and contacts.

Aimal Faizi, the spokesman for Mr. Karzai, acknowledged the secret contacts with the Taliban and said they were continuing.

“The last two months have been very positive,” Mr. Faizi said. He characterized the contacts as among the most serious the presidential palace has had since the war began. “These parties were encouraged by the president’s stance on the bilateral security agreement and his speeches afterwards,” he said.

But other Afghan and Western officials said that the contacts had fizzled, and that whatever the Taliban may have intended at the outset, they no longer had any intention of negotiating with the Afghan government. They said that top Afghan officials had met with influential Taliban leaders in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in recent weeks, and were told that any prospects of a peace deal were now gone.

The Afghan and Western officials questioned whether the interlocutors whom Mr. Karzai was in contact with had connections to the Taliban movement’s leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, whose blessing would be needed for any peace deal the group were to strike.

Though there have been informal contacts between Afghan officials and Taliban leaders since the very early days of the war, the insurgents’ opaque and secretive leaders have made their intentions difficult to discern. Afghan officials have struggled in recent years to find genuine Taliban representatives, and have flitted among a variety of current and former insurgent leaders, most of whom had only tenuous connections to Mullah Omar and his inner circle, American and Afghan officials have said.

Western Outreach

The only known genuine negotiating channel to those leaders was developed by American and German diplomats, who spent roughly two years trying to open peace talks in Qatar. The diplomats repeatedly found themselves incurring the wrath of Mr. Karzai, who saw the effort as an attempt to circumvent him; he tried behind the scenes to undercut it.

Then, when an American diplomatic push led to the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar, Mr. Karzai lashed out publicly at the United States. Afghan officials said that to them, the office looked far too much like the embassy of a government-in-exile, with its own flag and a nameplate reading “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” Within days, the Qatar initiative stalled, and Mr. Karzai was fuming at what he saw as a plot by the United States to cut its own deal with Pakistan and the Taliban without him.

In the wake of the failure in Qatar, Afghan officials redoubled their efforts to open their own channel to Mullah Omar, and by late autumn, Mr. Karzai apparently believed those efforts were succeeding. Some senior Afghan officials say they did not share his confidence, and their doubts were shared by American officials in Kabul and Washington.

Both Mr. Karzai and American officials hear the clock ticking. American forces are turning over their combat role to Afghan forces and preparing to leave Afghanistan this year, and the campaigning for the Afghan national election in April has begun. An orderly transition of power in an Afghanistan that can contain the insurgency on its own would be the culmination of everything that the United States has tried to achieve in the country.

“We’ve been through numerous cycles of ups and downs in our relations with President Karzai over the years,” Ambassador James B. Cunningham said during a briefing with reporters last week. “What makes it a little different this time is that he is coming to the end of his presidency, and we have some very important milestones for the international community and for Afghanistan coming up in the next couple of months.”

Mr. Karzai has been increasingly concerned with his legacy, officials say. When discussing the impasse with the Americans, he has repeatedly alluded to his country’s troubled history as a lesson in dealing with foreign powers. He recently likened the security agreement to the Treaty of Gandamak, a one-sided 1879 agreement that ceded frontier lands to the British administration in India and gave it tacit control over Afghan foreign policy. He has publicly assailed American policies as the behavior of a “colonial power,” though diplomats and military officials say he has been more cordial in private.

Mr. Karzai reacted angrily to a negative portrayal of him in a recent memoir by the former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, and he is still bitter over the 2009 presidential election, when hundreds of thousands of fraudulent ballots were disqualified and, as he sees it, the Americans forced him into an unnecessary runoff against his closest opponent.

Domestic Interests

In some respects, Mr. Karzai’s outbursts have been an effort to speak to Afghans who want him to take a hard line against the Americans, including many ethnic Pashtuns, who make up nearly all of the Taliban. With the American-led coalition on its way out and American influence waning, Mr. Karzai is more concerned with bridging the chasms of Afghan domestic politics than with his foreign allies’ interests.

If the peace overture to the Taliban is indeed at an end, as officials believe, it is unclear what Mr. Karzai will do next. He could return to a softer stance on the security agreement and less hostility toward the United States, or he could justify his refusal to sign the agreement by blaming the Americans for failing to secure a genuine negotiation with the insurgents.

Mr. Karzai has insisted that he will not sign the agreement unless the Americans help bring the Taliban to the table for peace talks. Some diplomats worry that making such a demand allows the Taliban to dictate the terms of America’s long-term presence in Afghanistan. Others question Mr. Karzai’s logic: Why would the insurgency agree to talks if doing so would ensure the presence of the foreign troops it is determined to expel?

The White House expressed impatience on Monday with Mr. Karzai’s refusal to sign the agreement. “The longer there is a delay, the harder it is for NATO and U.S. military forces to plan for a post-2014 presence,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary. “This is a matter of weeks, not months.”


The military leaders expected to attend the planning conference at the White House on Tuesday include Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the commander of American forces in Afghanistan; Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the former Iraq commander now serving as head of the United States Central Command; and Adm. William H. McRaven, head of the United States Special Operations Command.

In recent statements, Mr. Karzai’s office in Kabul has appeared to open the door to a resolution of the impasse over the security agreement. The presidential spokesman, Mr. Faizi, has said that if one party is obstructing the American efforts to get talks going, the United States need only say so publicly.

“Once there is clarity, we can take the next step to signing” the agreement, he said.

Peter Baker contributed reporting from Washington.
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thoughts on what is ahead on: February 01, 2014, 12:28:09 PM
IMHO, there are a couple of things going on in Af-Pak.

1. Karzai: Karzai has seen the writing on the wall. He also wants to have his cake and eat it too. The US is leaving, which means the Taliban will be ascendant soon. When he refuses to sign the agreement for US forces to stay, he looks good with the Taliban. He does not want to suffer the fate of Najibullah (castration +hanging). If OTOH, he can convince US forces to stay, he will have a role to play with any US mediated negotiation with the Taliban and Pak. Win-Win for him.

2. Pak: The US wants to appease them, so that there may be an orderly withdrawl. Pak wants the US to withdraw pronto, so that they get money (I read somewhere they had only 2 Bill$ in foreign reserves!), gain strategic depth (their long standing strategy against India). Paki's in their wisdom have become an IT hub (not Information Technology but Islamic Terrorism). Export of IT is a money making business (note the Saudi's offer to Putin to holdback IT from Sochi Olympics). Unfortunately, IT is getting out of hand, even for the paki's. They have lost control and their country is mired with daily bomb blasts. The only solution out for them is to redirect these battle hardened IT towards India (Kashmir cause), otherwise their own country goes up in flames.

3. US: I have always said the state sponsored terror hub is Pak, that's where they get their nourishment. The main reason that the US humors Pak is the possibility of export of nukes to the west, and secondly to keep India checkmated (the US doctrine is to maintain balance of power within nations). So occasionally, the US also supplies India with arms etc to keep China checkmated. I dont think we have major strategic interests in Afghanistan that we can work on, the geography and logistics gives Iran, Russia and China the upperhand. The US should not stay any longer in Afghanistan, because no clear aim is present. Nor can the US maintain forces for long, if the host nation does not want them there. Terrorism will not come from afghanistan, but from Pak which has the hardliner imams preaching IT.

4. India: is quite worried that these battle hardened taliban will wage jihad in India. India has a lot of experience with counterinsurgency, perhaps the most experience thanks to the pakis. So as a counter to this Pak strategy, India supplies some arms and training to Afghans. Most of the Afgh military officers train in India, which irritates the Pakis no end. So its a kind of circle within a circle with interlinked cause and effects.

Future: So based on the above, the US will leave Afghanistan, which will leave a vacuum. This vacuum will be filled by Islamic hardliners. They will command the southern parts of Afghanistan and the Northern Forces will retain the northern parts of Afghanistan. Pakistan will support the taliban in achieving their goals, but these fighters need to stay employed, and will be directed towards India. The question is will the taliban devour the NWFP pashtoon region of Pak too. I do not think that terrorism in Pak can be controlled, unless they agree to become a hardline islamic state. Pak may even have to initiate a war with India, ostentabily over the allocation of Indus river waters. India gives a lot of water to pak at the moment (beyond what the treaty requires), the International courts recently agreed that pak should get only about 9 mcusec (some unit of water), whereas they had gone to court asking a 100!.
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: January 01, 2014, 01:38:33 PM
 grin Immigration humor, SA style
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 18, 2013, 01:26:24 PM
I hope no one minds some interesting pictures from pakiland. Anyone know the long term effects of oxygen depravation ?

14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 18, 2013, 01:17:47 PM
This relates more to India, but Narendra Modi is the man to watch in India. He is the leader of the hindu nationalist party, BJP. He has a lot of momentum to become the next PM of India. the guy is strong on defense, not corrupt, has made his home state one of the best in terms of economic development. The guy uses Obama style drives to mobilize the youth, but is not a socialist, more of a nationalist. Only downside is that a few years ago when Pakis burnt a train full of Hindus, he did not bat an eyelash to hold back the hindu response against muslims. However, the courts have not found anything incriminating, though the US refuses to give him a visa.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narendra_Modi
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 21, 2013, 08:40:16 AM
http://www.dawn.com/news/1028773/taliban-ban-tight-mens-clothing-in-waziristan

Its only fair....

16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 21, 2013, 08:19:19 AM
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-13/india/40553601_1_indian-army-russian-origin-mi-35-helicopter-gunships-afghan-national-army
US exit: India steps up Afghan army training
Rajat Pandit, TNN Jul 13, 2013, 01.56AM IST


(Defence ministry sources…)
NEW DELHI: India is stepping up training of Afghan National Army (ANA) in a major way, even as it also considers supply of military equipment to the fledgling force, in the backdrop of the US-led coalition preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014.

Defence ministry sources say "a major Indian effort has been launched for capability enhancement of the ANA" to ensure it can handle the internal security of Afghanistan after the progressive exit of the 100,000 foreign soldiers from there by end-2014.


India is worried about the stability of the strategically-located Afghanistan after the withdrawal because it is likely to witness a concomitant surge in the activity of the Taliban and its deadly arms like the Haqqani network, which have long worked in league with the Pakistani Army against Indian interests.

Defence minister A K Antony, in fact, recently warned the Indian military brass to be on guard to tackle "any spillover effect" in Jammu & Kashmir and elsewhere due to Pakistan's continuing support to the Taliban and its inroads into Afghanistan.

Though India has worked largely on re-construction and developmental projects in the war-ravaged country over the last decade, it is now also boosting the "capacity-building" of ANA. If 574 ANA personnel were trained in different Indian Army establishments in 2012-13, for instance, the number will be "well over 1,000" in 2013-14.

The training includes counter-terrorism operations, military field-craft, signals, intelligence, counter-IED, information technology, battle-field nursing assistance and, of course, the English language. Afghan personnel are also being "attached" to the Infantry School at Mhow, Artillery School at Devlali and Mechanised Infantry Regimental Centre at Ahmednagar for specialized courses.

India has also posted some Army officers in the central Asian nation teach basic military and English skills as well as military doctors to help at hospitals in Kandahar and elsewhere. The training of Afghan pilots and technicians in operating Russian-origin Mi-35 helicopter gunships is also on the anvil.

A joint Indian military-civilian team had also gone to Kabul earlier this month after Afghan President Hamid Karzai submitted "a wish list" of military equipment to India during a visit here in May. The 17-page list includes armoured vehicles, 105mm artillery guns, utility helicopters, trucks, communication equipment and the like.

Sources said the visit of an ANA "Strategic Group", with 10 high-ranking officers, was also planned to India from September 1 to 13. The delegation will hold talks with the top military brass here, part from visiting military establishments in Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore.
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 21, 2013, 07:49:14 AM
http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/edit/wests-blame-it-on-india-afghan-plan.html
Some interesting view points from the Indian sub-continent..

WEST’S ‘BLAME IT ON INDIA’ AFGHAN PLAN
Friday, 19 July 2013 | G Parthasarathy | in Edit

The US and its allies are looking for scapegoats. They will target India for their failure to contain the Pakistani Army's support to the Taliban. Self-styled historians like William Dalrymple are willing accomplices in the act

Bruce Riedel, arguably one of the best informed and most experienced American analysts on the AfPak region, recently wrote an interesting analysis titled, ‘Battle for the Soul of Pakistan’. Mr Riedel noted: “Pakistan also remains a state sponsor of terror. Three of the five most-wanted on America’s counter-terrorism list live in Pakistan. The mastermind of the Mumbai massacre and head of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafeez Saeed, makes no effort to hide. He is feted by the army and the political elite, and calls for the destruction of India frequently and Jihad against America and Israel”. Mr Riedel adds: “The Head of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Omar shuttles between ISI safe houses in Quetta and Karachi. The Amir of Al Qaeda Ayman Zawahiri is probably hiding in a villa not much different from the one his predecessor (Osama bin Laden) was living in, with his wives and children, in Abbotabad until May 2011.”

Despite these realities, a new narrative seems to be creeping in, as uncertainties grow in Western capitals over how the much touted ‘end game’ will play out. American combat operations are progressively ending and Afghan Forces assuming full responsibility to take on the Taliban. There is uncertainty over whether Afghanistan’s presidential election scheduled in April 2014 will be free and fair and whether the new President will enjoy support cutting across ethnic lines, as President Hamid Karzai, a Durrani Pashtun, currently enjoys. As Pakistan remains an integral part of Western efforts to seek ‘reconciliation’ with the Taliban and for pull out equipment by the departing Nato forces, there appears to be a measure of Western desperation in seeking to persuade themselves and the world at large that there has been a ‘change of heart’ on the part of the Pakistan Army, which is now depicted as having given up its larger aim of seeking ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan through its Taliban protégés, led by Mullah Mohammed Omar.

As Mr Riedel notes, Mullah Omar remains an ISI protégé housed in ISI safe-houses in Pakistan. Pakistan’s real aim as a ‘facilitator’ of ‘reconciliation’ in Afghanistan became evident when Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz suggested to the Afghan Ambassador that the Taliban should be allowed to take control of provinces in Southern Afghanistan, as the process of ‘reconciliation’ commences. The Americans have only encouraged such thinking and added to the confusion by their over-anxiety to directly engage the Taliban, discarding earlier conditions for dialogue. Such obvious over-anxiety prompted the Taliban to up the ante and infuriate President Karzai by converting their premises in Doha to the Office of a virtual Government in exile.

The Americans and their Nato allies are evidently looking for scapegoats in case their ‘exit strategy’ fails, as it did in Vietnam. India now appears to be the new scapegoat in the event of such failure, as the US and its Nato allies seem to be bent on blaming India for their failures to deal with the Pakistani Army’s support for the Taliban, which could lead to an ignominious exit for them from Afghanistan. In this effort, British writers like the self-styled historian, William Dalrymple, seem to have become willing and enthusiastic accomplices. In a recent paper published by the Washington-based Brookings Institution, Mr Dalrymple avers: “While most observers in the West view the Afghanistan conflict as a battle between the US and Nato on the one hand and the Taliban and Al Qaeda on the other, in reality the hostility between India and Pakistan lies at the heart of the conflict in Afghanistan”.

As a self-styled historian, Mr Dalrymple conveniently forgets that the present AfPak tensions flowed from British colonial policies advocated by imperialists like Lord Curzon, whose ‘forward policy’ aimed to check growing Russian influence in Central Asia and also give the British undisputed and unchallenged control over the oil resources of the entire Persian Gulf. It was Imperial Britain that changed historical borders, depriving the Pashtuns of moving across their historical homeland by the imposition of the Durand Line in 1893. The problems between Pakistan and Afghanistan since the birth of Pakistan have been primarily because of past actions of Imperial Britain, as no Afghan Government has ever recognised the borders imposed by Imperial Britain. It is this border dispute that has bedevilled relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan since August 14, 1947, when Pakistan was born.

India has never taken sides on this Pakistan-Afghanistan dispute — a creation of British imperialism. The Afghans, in turn, have never taken sides on differences between India and Pakistan, except during the Taliban rule. In a recent paper I received, written by a former Director General of the ISI, the author noted, while referring to past Pakistan-Afghanistan relations: “The message from Kabul both in 1965 and 1971 (India-Pakistan conflicts) was that we could move all our troops from the Durand Line to the Eastern borders, where we needed them. We did precisely that and the Afghans ensured for the duration of the crises there was all quiet on the western front. The two countries have their good neighbourly troubles, but their stakes in each other’s security and stability are so high that neither would do anything deliberately to hurt the other’s interests”.

The likes of Mr Dalrymple and his American and European friends should remember that the religious extremism and violence that ail and afflict Pakistan and Afghanistan today, are direct outcomes of the backing given by the ISI, joined by the CIA and MI6, to armed fundamentalist groups, to wage jihad against the Soviet Union on Afghan soil and beyond. This, in turn, encouraged the ISI to believe that promotion of ‘militant islam’ is the ideal means to build influence within Pakistan, ‘bleed’ India and carry the forces of ‘radical Islam’ to Afghanistan and beyond. The US and the CIA paid the price for their earlier follies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, when attacks like those of 9/11 and the London bombings were planned and executed from safe havens in Afghanistan and along the Durand Line.

India will have to keep these realities in mind when fashioning its policies in Afghanistan. While we have played along with the Americans and complemented their policies in Afghanistan, there is need for New Delhi to be prepared to build new bridges in relations with its old partners like Russia, Iran and the Central Asian Republics, given the uncertainties and unpredictability in emerging American policies.
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 09, 2013, 08:42:40 PM
I like Brahma Chellaney's article above...but pl. note he is an India hawk!. It is quite possible that the Northern Alliance will rule N Afghanistan and the Pashtuns the border area with Pak. Elimination of the Durrand line will occur in due time...with loss of territory to pak. Things will get interesting, once the US leaves next year!.
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 07, 2013, 10:56:27 AM
Posted without comment...
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India; India-afpakia and India-China? on: May 11, 2013, 02:10:53 PM
Something not appreciated in the west is that India's current political leadership, is from the preindependence era (1947). eg the Current prime minister was born in what is currently Pakistan, and eg Musharraf was born in India!. They have emotional baggage related to pak. However, as the newer generation of politicians come to power, these leaders do not have anything binding them to Pak and are infact willing to take a much harder line.  As the economy improves, the newer gen of Indians, are willing to take a harder line against China too.
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 11, 2013, 01:48:22 PM
22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India; India-afpakia and India-China? on: May 05, 2013, 04:01:25 PM
Looks like the Chinese have withdrawn, from Indian territory. Am sure the details will be out soon..
23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India; India-afpakia and India-China? on: May 04, 2013, 07:51:25 PM
Koranic concept of war, pdf

http://wolfpangloss.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/malik-quranic-concept-of-war.pdf
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India; India-afpakia and India-China? on: May 04, 2013, 07:32:33 PM
Here's a post on Pak and the spread of Islam in India by an Indian nationalist poster called Rudradev. He has some interesting ideas, that I had not heard before. I have made some comments in italics, where the language might be unfamiliar to you, or underlined or made things bold..

"The essential similarities between Western feudalism (transplanted to colonized countries in the colonial era) and Islamic "Kabila (defined later)" imply that it is not only the "West" which has been a colonial entity as far as societies like ours are concerned... Islam itself is equally a foreign colonialist entity in our subcontinent, as fundamentally alien and predatory to our land, our culture and our way of life as the British or Portuguese or Dutch ever were. The atavistic howls issuing from their minarets five times a day are, indeed, cries of triumph and domination in a foreign language... the language of the colonizer shouting down the colonized.

Ramana has written extensively on the "Kabila" model... it roughly translates to "government as armed camp." Essentially there is a sultan who, with his generals and their troops, constitutes the ultimate fount of power in the political hierarchy. This is unwaveringly typical of the manner in which various political groups and dynasties have consolidated power in West and Central Asia, and North Africa, since the very advent of Islam.

The "Kabila" worked very well in the lands where Islam originated, and where it spread in the early centuries of its expansion. Why? Because the lands themselves were amenable to being governed in this form. In the deserts of West Asia, the arid mountains of Persia and the steppes to the North, the circumstances of nature favour a form of political dominance which relies on armament, maneuverability and mobility. This is because resources are scarce and concentrated in a few areas... an oasis here, a valley there. With a strong group of highly mobile armed men on horseback, you can easily forge an empire in such places. All you have to do is seize control of the few well-defined supply centers, the market centers (city states) and the trade routes between them. Most of the land is junk anyway. Once you're able to do this, and especially to destroy any civilizational affinity to pre-Islamic forms in the market centers (hence the Islamic obsession with temple breaking and idol smashing) you have, effectively, an empire. It doesn't matter if the thousands of useless square miles in between are physically under your domination or not; as long as you have no challengers in these particular small foci of power, you're an unchallenged monarch.

"Kabila" differs from European feudalism because of the emphasis on mobility... horsemen and artillery could be moved to engage a challenger in very short order. A necessary corollary of the Kabila model is un-rootedness. If you have to move fast you cannot afford to be tied down. Therefore, you do not invest in the land or the people, you see them only as objects to be controlled and squeezed for every drop of utility against the hard anvil of history. You position mullahs in population centers to be your spies, propagandists and social monitors... weeding out unorthodoxy and rebellion at the stage of ideation before it becomes necessary to smack down an armed rebellion. But ultimately you, and your apparatus of mullahs, constitute an extraordinarily parasitic, locust-like and virulent form of colonialism. This is something that Western studies of post-colonialism (with their essentially Euro-centric historiography) entirely ignore... they see the Islamic virus as something that was indigenous somehow to the lands they conquered. They do not realize that it was merely a more rapacious and less invested form of colonial imperialism.

Indeed, the more invested Muslim rulers became in their territories, the less "Islamic" they became, of necessity taking on the administrative, social and traditional trappings of pre-Islamic statehood. This made them vulnerable to "purer", mobile and less-invested Islamic conquerors. Hence the Delhi sultanate was prime fodder for Timur and Babar... Baghdad for the Mongols... and Mughal Delhi, again, for Nadir Shah. In each case the less-civilized, more predatory and more essentially savage Kabila prevailed over the more "settled" and "urbanized" Muslim state. When you do not carry the baggage of civilization or of feeling responsibility for the people you rule, you have much more maneuverability and ruthlessness at your disposal. Taking advantage of the Kabila's inherent strengths, the West was able to lead roving bands of armed Arabs in a devastatingly effective rebellion against the settled Ottomans during the 1st World War.

Why do I bring all this up with relevance to Pakistan?

As I said before... the "Kabila" system worked very well to dominate places where resources were scarce and concentrated in well-defined locations. However, it never worked quite as well in India.

That is because our Bharatvarsha(Hindi term for India) is quite unlike those lands where Islam originated and expanded in the early centuries of its being. In Bharatvarsha, the land is almost never inhospitable or forbidding. In Arabia, a band of people displaced from an oasis had two choices: submit to the peaceful orthodoxy of a triumphant Muslim conqueror, or go out into the desert and die. In India, not so. A displaced people had only to go fifty or a hundred or two hundred kilometres in any direction... and mother Bharat (India)in her generous embrace would provide fertile lands, rich orchards, abundant and plentiful fields. How many generations and what huge extents of such flights were supported by the bounty of Bharatvarsha become apparent if you study the migration of the Saraswats, originally from Kashmir... one branch traveled from there south of the Vindhyas, to Goa, and then again uprooted themselves in the face of Portuguese onslaught and proceeded to what is Dakshin Kannada in Karnataka today.

This had two effects: first, it made Indians in general indifferent to the fact of an Islamic conquest. If they took away our old fields and seized our city... well, we would just move over a little bit and build a new city, cultivate new fields. Our Gods and families are safe, let the Turk or Afghan have the old land, because there is enough for everybody if we simply adjust our location a little bit: this was how our forefathers dealt with Islamic expansion. Incidentally, this is also how we deal with Chinese encroachments!)

The second effect, of course, is that Hindu society survived, largely unscathed, as an essentially Indian identity. In Mesopotamia or Egypt, the Muslim idol-smashers and temple-breakers could effectively carry out cultural genocide because their targets were all in one place and immobile... where could you build another Baghdad or Luxor? The inheritors of the old culture had no choice but to surrender before the savagery of Islam's harbingers, and participate willingly in the extinction of their pre-Islamic cultural identities, if they wished to survive at all. In India, we would take our Gods, our families and our few possessions and head out a few more miles into the vast green hinterland and endless bounty of Bharat-mata (Hindi for mother land), who would provide lovingly for us to begin our lives over again as Hindus.

This is essentially why we were saved from being extinguished by the onslaught of Islamic colonialism... Bharatvarsha herself sheltered her children and empowered them to preserve their way of life.

Now what you have in Pakistan today is the continuance of the Kabila system. The West realized soon enough that without the depredations of Islamic colonialism that denuded the civilizational wealth of the East for nearly ten centuries, sapping the power of the old Asiatic states and erasing their very identities... without this, the West would have had a much harder time pursuing their own colonial expansions. In fact, Islamic colonialism prepares the ground for Western colonialism... a fact that remains as true today as it was before the Battle of Plassey. Hence, everyone from Olaf Caroe to Zbignew Brzezinski sees a utility for the West in maintaining Islamic Kabilas even when the armies and viceroys of the West have gone home. The Kabilas will never construct a state of sufficient power to threaten the West; but they will keep Asia weak for the day that the West might want to return, in one form or another.

THIS is why the West was so determined to see a Pakistan constructed out of a large portion of Bharatvarsha. It is also why the West has been careful to destroy any alternative sense of nationhood or state-based form of governance in the Muslim world, other than Kabila. It is why the Arab nationalists of Ba'ath Egypt (Nasser) and Iraq (Saddam) had to be deposed, and the last scion of Ba'athism, Syria's Assad, is being systematically marked for elimination today. This is the reason why Gaddaffi in Libya was ousted, and why Iran is now at the head of the list of Western targets. Meanwhile the Kabila-state of Saudi Arabia is raised to paramountcy; while in smaller GCC nations... which are essentially city-states or market-centers like the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain... the US itself has taken on the role of Kabila.

In Pakistan that role has been given to the Kabila known as the Pakistan Army. However, let's remember... the land which the Pakistan Army Kabila seeks to dominate is not an arid expanse with tightly localized resource concentrations, as in the territories where the Kabila model has a natural advantage. No, the land of Pakistan is the land of Bharatvarsha... all-embracing and hospitable. It is much harder for a Kabila to control and dominate this "Pakistan" than a Persia or an Iraq.

Meanwhile, to the northwest of Pakistan is Afghanistan... a prime Kabila land, where a mobile and savage army unencumbered by investment in the people can always prevail over the forces of a more settled kingdom.

What happened over the last ten years is instructive. The Kabila (Pakistan Army) deputed by the West to control and enervate Western Bharatvarsha for colonial exploitation, has failed in its task. It has succumbed to the temptations of the land it occupies... Bharatvarsha... and become more "settled" than a Kabila has any right to be. It has become invested in private enterprise, legitimate ones like textiles and agriculture as well as illegal ones such as heroin supply. The Pakistan Army remains a true Kabila in that it still does not give a damn for the people in its charge; but it has become "softer" in the style of the Lodhi who was overwhelmed by Babar, or the Abbasid Caliph who was smashed by Genghis Khan. To compensate for its softness, the Pakistan Army has overemphasized the role traditionally played by Mullahs in the Kabila system, and set up a huge, hypertrophied apparatus of highly empowered political agents to subdue the population in the name of Islam... including all our favourite Tanzeems(Paki terror groups).

The big mistake that the Soft Kabila of the Pakistan Army made was to create another Kabila... the Taliban... in an attempt to colonize and subdue the people of Afghanistan. Taliban Kabila, being a classic, mobile, hard Kabila, was able to gain control over the prime Kabila-land of Afghanistan in record time back in 1996. However, with the force of historic inevitability... they have utterly lost regard and affinity for the soft, settled Kabila of the TSPA. They see no reason why they should take orders from this decadent, less-pure Sultanate; they have enjoyed repeated military successes over the TSPA (derogatory term Terrorist State of Pak Army) over the past ten years; and worst of all, they have seen the TSPA do the bidding of the Kaffir (USA) by comfortably abetting the slaughter of Momin (muslims) perpetuated by the Americans since 2001.

As a result, not only the Taliban, but many sections of the Kabila-apparatchik mullahs (who would ordinarily remain loyal to a strong, hard-Kabila) have turned against the soft and decadent Kabila of the TSPA.

Perhaps the most curious thing is how the TSPA and the Paki elite have responded to this state of affairs. Being themselves of Bharatvarsha... they have begun to do the classic Hindoo thing! "Fine", they say, "let the fundoos have FATA/KP, after all we have much more productive land".... "fine, let them have a presence in Karachi/Quetta/Peshawar, not a blade of grass grows there"... "fine, let them expand into southern Punjab, after all we should keep them close so we can keep an eye on them." Rationalization after rationalization is articulated by these Pakis while their circle of influence shrinks; so far will our bounteous mother Bharat let them retreat into the welcoming folds of her sari that they blindfold themselves ever more tightly with her pallu (wrap of the sari dress) and convince themselves that all is well."
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India; India-afpakia and India-China? on: May 04, 2013, 06:30:44 PM
http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/node/1258

Chinese Manoeuvres against India’s possible use of the Gilgit-Baltistan Card

Paper No. 5478                                       Dated 01-May-2013

By B. Raman

In an article of December 20, 2010, titled “Sino-India border row: China's bid to boost Pak 'presence' in J&K” carried by Rediff.com at http://www.rediff.com/news/column/chinas-bid-to-boost-pak-presence-in-jk/20101220.htm, I had stated as follows:

“China, which had never openly questioned the Indian estimate of the length of the common border before, is now unilaterally seeking to exclude from consideration during the border talks the dispute between India and China over the Chinese occupation of a large territory in the Ladakh sector of J&K.

“In fact, it is seeking to question India's locus standi to discuss with China the border in the J&K area in view of Pakistan's claims to this area. It is trying to bring in Pakistan as an interested party in so far as the border talks regarding the western sector are concerned.

“It wants to change the format of the border talks in order to keep it confined bilaterally to the eastern and middle sectors and expand it to a trilateral issue involving India, China and Pakistan in the western sector.

“The exclusion of the border in the J&K sector from its estimate of the total length of the border is another indication that it does not recognise India's claims of sovereignty over J&K.

“It is apparent that this is part of a well thought-out policy of unilaterally changing the ground rules of the border talks. It had earlier allegedly changed the ground rules in the eastern sector by going back on a prior understanding with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the border should be demarcated in such a manner as not to affect populated areas.

“It is now going back on its previous stand in the western sector by seeking to challenge India's locus standi in view of its dispute with Pakistan.

“Even at the risk of a further delay in the exercise to solve the border dispute, India should not agree to any change in the ground rules which would restrict the border talks only to the eastern and middle sectors and exclude the western sector on the ground that India has a dispute over this area with Pakistan.”

2. The Chinese manoeuvres to change the ground rules are reflected in the latest situation created by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ( a platoon of it) in advancing 19 kms inside the hitherto perceived Line of Actual Control (LOAC) in the Dipsang area of Eastern Ladakh on April 15,2013, and staying put there in tents.

3. In the absence of any commonly accepted maps indicating a mutually accepted perception of the LOAC, the understanding as to where the LOAC lies largely depends on the differing individual perceptions of the two countries. While the Indian perceptions remain constant, the Chinese perceptions remain changing depending on its individual interest.

4. The Chinese assertion of claims of territorial sovereignty in the Eastern Ladakh area had in the past remained restricted to a few kms from the LOAC. For the first time now, it has unilaterally changed the perception by 19 kms. Whether the Chinese ultimately withdraw from this area or not, by this intrusion, Beijing is seeking to impose a change in the ground situation that had prevailed since 1962 by unilaterally imposing a new perception of the LOAC which will expand Chinese claims to Indian territory in this area.

5. At the same time, according to media reports that have not been questioned by the Government of India, the PLA is demanding India’s reversal of its reported re-activation of the advanced landing grounds at Daulat Beg Oldie, Fukche and Nyoma and suspension of India’s construction of temporary posts at Chumar and Fukche to provide shelters to patrolling Indian troops.

6. In one stroke, China is seeking to expand considerably the area over which it claims sovereignty and restrict or reduce the area over which India has been claiming sovereignty.

7. Why has China suddenly sought to activate sovereignty issues in this area and to  change unilaterally hitherto accepted perceptions/claims of the LOAC? This area where the PLA has embarked on a policy of activism contrary to China’s proclamations of its interest in finding a peaceful solution to the border dispute and maintaining peace and tranquillity in the border areas has assumed importance for China in view of its proximity to the Karakoram area in the Gilgit-Baltistan area of Pakistan where the Chinese have stepped their construction activities and inducted Chinese protection troops to protect the construction teams with the acceptance of the Government of Pakistan, which has been in illegal occupation of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).

8. If a confrontational situation develops between India and China, India will have two cards at its disposal--- re-activate Tibet, which will be a difficult option or make the Chinese presence in GB prohibitively costly for China just as the US made the Soviet presence in Afghanistan bloody costly for the erstwhile USSR. The second is a doable option.

9. India looks upon POK and GB as an integral part of India. The Chinese presence in that area is a violation of India’s sovereignty claims. India has strategic allies amongst the people of GB who could help it in making the Chinese presence costly. GB can provide India with the option of proxy activism in that area to make the Chinese pay for their repeated intrusions in the Ladakh area.

10. The Chinese are seeking to pre-empt possible Indian activism against Chinese presence and interests in the GB area by occupying new territory in Eastern Ladakh and keeping the Indian Army away from the vicinity of the Karakoram area.

11. Whatever be the final outcome of the present stand-off, the Chinese manoeuvres to prevent India from possibly using the GB card against them will continue. We should not lose this card and should not legitimise the Chinese presence in the GB area. We have already lost the Tibet card by accepting Tibet in writing as an integral part of China. We should not lose the GB card by succumbing to the new Chinese pressure in the areas in the proximity of the Karakoram area.

12. This may please be read in continuation of my earlier article on the India-China Border Dispute of April 23, 2013, at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/node/1248
26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India; India-afpakia and India-China? on: May 04, 2013, 01:39:47 PM
http://ajaishukla.blogspot.com/

Shadow on the line



This map does not reflect India's claims or actual holding, but accurately represents the area


by Ajai Shukla and Sonia Trikha Shukla
Business Standard, 4th May 13


Even for the most intrepid helicopter pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF), flying a sortie to the desolate outpost of Daulat Beg Oldi on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, has always meant pushing the limits. Wing Commander Abdul Hanfee, who had won a Vir Chakra for his devil-may-care flying in Siachen, would take off from the Siachen Base Camp with his Mi-17 helicopter loaded with rations and fuel and set course for Saser La, the towering 17,753-foot pass on the Karakoram range. With the helicopter rotors shuddering as they clawed through the thin air, Hanfee would look down from his cockpit as he flew over the pass, still littered with the bones of camels, ponies and human wayfarers --- the detritus of a bygone era when arbitrary frontiers had not disrupted centuries-old patterns of trade and connectivity.


This was the Old Silk Route that connected Ladakh and Kashmir with Xinjiang --- now, like Tibet, an “autonomous region” of China. Well into the 20th century, camel caravans laden with silk, jade and hemp would set out from Yarkand and Khotan in East Turkestan, and travel to Leh and Kashmir from where they would bring back Pashmina wool, Kashmiri zafran (saffron), tea and calligraphy. After crossing the Karakoram Pass into India, the traders would leave their camels at what is now Daulat Beg Oldi, and transfer their goods onto pack ponies for the cruel journey over the Saser La into the more hospitable Shyok river valley that led on to Leh, Turtok or Srinagar. For the merchants and pilgrims who carried considerable sums in gold and silver, the treacherous Karakoram was far less hazardous than the robber bands and insecurity on the other route to Central Asia through Punjab and Afghanistan.

This isolation has defeated even the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which has laboured for over a decade, so far unsuccessfully, to build an all-weather road over Saser La that will connect Daulat Beg Oldi (or DBO, in military phraseology) with Leh, Partapur and Kargil. The BRO has failed equally in bringing another road northwards to DBO from the Pangong Tso Lake, along the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Without road links to the rest of Ladakh, DBO remains an isolated enclave across the Karakoram and Ladakh ranges, dependent upon the IAF for food, fuel, ammunition and quick troop replenishments. Going there on foot involves an exhausting five-day march at altitudes that would exhaust an ibex. The military calls this enclave Sub-Sector North (SSN) and regards it as crucial for the defence of Siachen and Leh.

According to Lt Gen Kamleshwar Davar, a former commander of 3 Infantry Division under which this area comes, “SSN has major strategic value for India. If the Chinese were to come up to Saser La, our control over the Siachen Glacier would be seriously compromised since Saser La overlooks that area. SSN provides a protective buffer to the Siachen sector and also provides depth to the northeastern approaches to Leh. Furthermore, SSN is our land access to Central Asia, along the Old Silk Route through the Karakoram Pass.”

Now, India’s control over SSN is being challenged by the increasingly assertive presence of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). On Apr 15 the Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP), which holds and patrols SSN, discovered four Chinese tents pitched on a flat area called the Depsang Plain, with 30-40 uniformed Chinese personnel in the camp well inside the Indian side of the LAC. New Delhi was informed and the MEA contacted the Chinese Foreign Minister to activate a joint consultative mechanism that was set up in 2011 to resolve border incidents like this one. On Apr 18, the Chinese ambassador to India was called to the MEA and conveyed India’s concerns. But to little avail; in three flag meetings held on Apr 18, 23 and 30, the PLA has conveyed a simple message: its patrol has not violated the LAC; but it will withdraw if the Indian Army dismantles bunkers that it has built in two places near Chushul, in southeastern Ladakh.





“The PLA has carefully chosen its spot. Along the entire 4,057 kilometres of the LAC, India is most isolated at DBO, being entirely reliant on airlift. In contrast, the PLA can bring an entire motorized division to the area within a day, driving along a first-rate highway,” says Major General Sheru Thapliyal, also a former 3 Division commander.

Beijing has made it clear that it has demands that must be met before it withdraws. On Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Hua Chunying, declared: “the relevant negotiation mechanism is conducive to solving the relevant issue quickly… China and India are talking about the issue for a complete and appropriate settlement.” (emphasis ours)

Army sources protest that the Indian bunkers that China wants dismantled are deep on our side of the LAC, on the western bank side of the Indus, an area that China has never claimed even at its most acquisitive. Driving out the Chinese incursion at DBO would hardly be a problem, say top Indian commanders; a battalion, with adequate fire support could do this within minutes. But the Chinese were better placed for a build-up and would retaliate strongly. Besides, military action would dramatically escalate tensions all along the LAC, which has remained uniformly peaceful since the two countries signed the “Agreement on Peace and Tranquillity” in 1993. A series of tit-for-tat incursions all across the LAC would create a second active border for India to man around the year.

On Tuesday, Defence Minister AK Antony talked tough, suggesting that force would be employed if needed to safeguard Indian territories. Antony said, “There should not be any doubt that the country remains unanimous in its commitment to take every possible step, at all levels, to safeguard our interests.”

Brave words, but New Delhi’s top national security policymakers are not inclined to initiate a military confrontation with China, howsoever limited. That leaves the government with little choice other than diplomatic negotiations during two forthcoming high-level political meetings: foreign minister Salman Khurshid will visit Beijing on Thursday, while China’s new premier, Li Keqiang, is scheduled to visit New Delhi later this month.

Srikanth Kondapalli, a China expert in the Jawaharlal Nehru University believes that China is under pressure to resolve the crisis during Mr Khurshid’s visit to Beijing, since it needs a conducive atmosphere for Premier Li Keqiang’s visit. “The India polity is angry about China’s incursion and the opposition wants our foreign minister to cancel his visit to Beijing. If the issue festers, it would have negative implications for Premier Li Keqiang’s visit. Beijing remembers that President Hu Jintao’s visit in November 2006 had been vitiated after China’s ambassador to India, Sun Yuxi, had declared before the visit that the whole of Arunachal Pradesh was a disputed region,” says Kondapalli.

                                                           * * * *

At the root of the crisis is obvious unease in the Chinese security establishment at India’s border build-up, especially the surge in military deployment and infrastructure over the last 5-7 years. Like earlier occasions when the Indian Army enhanced its presence on the border, this time too China is making its disapproval felt.






New Delhi first became conscious in the 1950s of the need to establish a military presence along India’s claim lines in Ladakh and the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA, now Arunachal Pradesh). The trigger was Beijing rejection of the legitimacy of India’s consulate in Lhasa and our trade agencies in Yatung and Gyantse (in Tibet). Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru ordered a high-powered committee, presided over by Deputy Defence Minister, Major General MS Himmatsinghji, to study the problems created by China’s occupation of Tibet. The “North and North East Border Defence Committee” made the crucial (and still ignored) recommendation that military posts should move forward to India’s claim lines in tandem with the simultaneous development of administration, road communications and local infrastructure.

Instead, after belatedly discovering in 1957 that China’s newly built Western Highway from Tibet to Xinjiang ran for nearly 200 kilometres through the India-claimed Aksai Chin, a high altitude desolation that DBO is an extension of, New Delhi threw troops pell-mell into these unknown areas in what was known as the “Forward Policy”. Beijing’s insecurities, already inflamed by a massive Tibetan rebellion, were exacerbated by the suspicion that India was backing the uprising. Apprehension turned into animosity when New Delhi granted the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan refugees asylum in India in 1959. The Indian move forward thus degenerated into war by 1962. A much better prepared and equipped PLA easily overran Indian territory right down to the plains of Assam.

It took a traumatized India twenty years to decide to reoccupy the China border again. In 1975, General KV Krishna Rao submitted an “Experts Committee” report recommending military posture and border defences for the next 25 years. It called for a larger number of troops to defend the borders and for better roads to support their logistics. As the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) from 1981-83, Rao persuaded Prime Minister Indira Gandhi that twenty years of fearful holding back had to end. In 1983, the army moved forward again, deploying in strength in Tawang and Chushul.

This led to trouble again, with the Chinese aggrieved over India’s move forward. In 1986, a Chinese patrol pitched up tents in a disputed area called Wangdung, north of Tawang. A furious retaliatory build up by the Indian Army almost ended in actual hostilities, but tensions were resolved. Diplomatic engagement led to Rajiv Gandhi’s 1988 visit to China. During Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s visit to Beijing in 1993, the two countries signed an “Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China Border Area,” which has led to the largely peaceful border of today.

The current crisis is triggered by India’s third border buildup. Starting from the mid-2000s, New Delhi sanctioned two Indian mountain divisions to defend Arunachal Pradesh; and the IAF activated three Sukhoi-30 fighter bases in Assam along with several units of Akash air defence batteries. Eight Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) have been refurbished, permitting forward replenishment and heliborne operations. In the works is an even greater capability in the northeast, with an armoured brigade and a mountain strike corps scheduled to take the field by 2017.






Of apparently greater concern to Beijing is the growing Indian capability in Ladakh. India has moved at least two additional infantry brigades into southeastern Ladakh and an armoured brigade will become operational by 2017. ALGs have been activated in Nyoma, Fukche and DBO, with AN-32 transport aircraft now flying supplies and replenishments to these isolated outposts.

China’s discomfort will all this was conveyed last month when Beijing handed New Delhi a draft proposal to freeze troop levels and defences on the LAC, institutionalizing India’s disadvantage. While such an agreement would cap the Indian buildup, the intrusion at DBO seems to be a trial balloon for dealing with troublesome Indian positions that already exist. The intrusion has created “facts on the ground,” which can be bartered for Indian concessions around Chushul. And if this work, this method can be invoked in other sectors as well.

* * * *

Like many armies through the ages, the Indian Army finds its operational options constrained by logistics. China has understood that a comprehensive road network is the final arbiter of power in high altitude mountainous terrain. India has more troops on the border but, without a road network, the rugged Himalayas reduce those impressive divisions to isolated groups of soldiers sitting on widely separated hilltops. P Stodan, a former Indian ambassador who is from Ladakh points out, “Around Ladakh, the Chinese can move troops at 400 kilometres a day. We can do a leisurely 150-200 kilometres if we’re lucky.”

In case diplomatic negotiations do not resolve the problem this month, the next watershed in this crisis will be the onset of winter. Since the bitter conditions at DBO make it difficult for the Chinese to winter there in tents, they would have to build more weatherproof accommodation. Furthermore they would have to stock food, fuel and ammunition, for which they would need to move vehicles or helicopters. It remains to be seen if this would force India to react militarily.
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pakistani rave party on: March 17, 2013, 09:31:20 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RDqu6dxcwEQ#!

Enjoy the Harlem Shake af-pak style.... grin
28  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: February 10, 2013, 03:51:15 PM
Hello!...after a long time. This is an old article from 2010, Plan B was proposed then...which I think is still a good idea. See how the alternatives have turned out...

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-12-21/edit-page/28217106_1_qaida-al-qaida-taliban
Plan B in Afghanistan
ROBERT D BLACKWILL, Dec 21, 2010, 12.00am IST



US policy toward Afghanistan involves spending scores of billions of dollars and suffering several hundred allied deaths annually largely to prevent the Afghan Taliban from controlling the Afghan Pashtun homeland.

But the United States and its allies will not defeat the Taliban militarily. President Hamid Karzai's corrupt government will not significantly improve. The Afghan National Army cannot take over combat missions from ISAF in southern and eastern Afghanistan in any realistic time frame. And on December 15, the New York Times assessed that "two new classified intelligence reports offer a more negative assessment and say there is a limited chance of success unless Pakistan hunts down insurgents operating from havens on its Afghan border". That won't happen.


With these individual elements of US Afghanistan policy in serious trouble, optimism about the current strategy's ability to meet its objectives reminds one of the White Queen's comment in Through the Looking Glass: "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

De facto partition offers the Obama administration the best available alternative to strategic defeat. The administration should stop setting deadlines for withdrawal and instead commit the United States to a long-term combat role in Afghanistan of 35,000-50,000 troops for the next 7-10 years.

Concurrently, Washington should accept that the Taliban will inevitably control most of the Pashtun south and east and that the price of forestalling that outcome is far too high for Americans to continue paying. The United States and its partners should stop fighting and dying in the Pashtun homeland and let the local correlation of forces take its course - while deploying US air power and Special Forces to ensure that the north and west of Afghanistan do not succumb to the Taliban. The United States would make clear that it would strike al-Qaida targets anywhere, Taliban encroachments across the de facto partition line, and sanctuaries along the Pakistani border using weapons systems that were unavailable before 9/11.

Accepting a de facto partition of Afghanistan makes sense only if the other options available are worse. They are.


One alternative is to stay the current course in Afghanistan. The United States deploys about 1,00,000 troops in Afghanistan, yet there are now only 50-100 al-Qaida fighters there. That is 1,000-2,000 soldiers per al-Qaida terrorist at $100 billion a year - far beyond any reasonable expenditure of American resources given the stakes involved. And even if many of the roughly 300 al-Qaida fighters now in Pakistan did move a few score miles north across the border, it would not make much of a practical difference - surely not enough to justify an indefinite major ground war.

Another alternative is for the United States to withdraw all its military forces from Afghanistan over the next few years. But this would lead to a probable conquest of the entire country by the Taliban. It would draw Afghanistan's neighbours into the fighting. It would raise the odds of the Islamic radicalisation of Pakistan, which would in turn call into question the safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. It would weaken the budding US-India strategic partnership, undermine Nato's future, and trigger a global outpouring of support for Islamic extremist ideology and increased terrorism against liberal societies. And it would be seen around the world by friends and adversaries alike as a failure of international leadership and strategic resolve by an ever weaker America.

A third alternative is to achieve stability in Afghanistan through successful negotiations with the Taliban. As CIA director Leon Panetta has said, however, so long as the Taliban think they are winning, they will remain intransigent. Despite the major intensification of drone attacks, the US cannot kill the Taliban into meaningful political compromise.


The analogy most cited to justify the current Afghanistan policy is the 2007 "surge" in Iraq. Yet as former US envoy to Afghanistan James Dobbins has pointed out, by 2007, the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq had been decisively beaten by majority Shia militias, and it was only after this defeat that the Sunni Arabs turned to American forces for protection. The Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, in contrast, is rooted in that country's largest ethnic group, not its smallest.

These Pashtun insurgents have been winning their civil war for the last several years, not losing it. In Iraq, by 2007 al-Qaida had made itself unwelcome among its Sunni Arab allies. In Afghanistan, al-Qaida is hardly present, and presents no comparable threat to the Afghan Taliban leadership. Pashtun elders are less influential than the Iraqi sheiks that brought their adherents over with them when they decided to switch sides. In short, the Iraq surge has little application to Afghanistan.

Historians may puzzle over why the president, despite his deep agonising as described in Bob Woodward's book on the war, deployed 1,00,000 troops into Afghanistan nearly 10 years after 9/11, why US policy makers spoke as if the fate of the civilised world depended on the pacification of Marja and Kandahar. Accepting the de facto partition of Afghanistan is hardly an ideal outcome in Afghanistan. But it is better than the alternatives.

The writer is a senior fellow at the US Council on Foreign Relations and former US ambassador to India. A longer version of this essay appeared in the December/January issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.
29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 01, 2012, 02:57:02 PM
http://2016themovie.com/

Nice movie, explains Obama from the colonial POV...I think there is some truth to it.
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Indian Ocean and the new Great Game on: September 01, 2012, 10:20:15 AM
http://ajaishukla.blogspot.com/


Indian Ocean: the new Great Game




By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard Weekend Supplement
1st Sept 2012

Gushing out of the earth through narrow pipelines, oil is fated also to travel to its consumers through narrow bottlenecks. The Strait of Hormuz, just 34 kilometres wide, is the Persian Gulf exit through which supertankers haul away some 17 million barrels of oil daily. Five thousand kilometres later, at the doorstep of the oil guzzling economies of China, Japan and Indonesia, these giant vessels squeeze through the Malacca Strait, just 3 kilometres wide, leaving behind the Indian Ocean and entering the Pacific.

Global security managers lavish attention on the security of these two bottlenecks, but remain sanguine about the vast expanse of water that connect them: the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea at the mouth of the Malacca Strait. But this stretch is the bailiwick of the Indian Navy, the only major navy that operates between Qatar --- the forward headquarters of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) --- and the contested and militarised waters of the South China Sea, beyond the Malacca Strait.

Besides keeping a watchful eye over the international shipping lanes that run through the northern Indian Ocean, the Indian Navy is also the gatekeeper of two more choke points near its offshore island chains of Lakshadweep and the Andamans. All Pacific-bound shipping from the Persian Gulf, or the Red Sea, converges on a 200 kilometres wide funnel called the Ten Degree Channel (named after its latitude) that is straddled by India’s Lakshadweep island chain. Given these islands’ strategic control over the shipping lanes, the Kochi-based South-Western Naval Command established a naval base on Lakshadweep in April this year.

Patrol vessels, aircraft and radars on this base, INS Dweeprakshak (INS stands for Indian Naval Ship, a confusing appellation, since the navy uses it for ships as well as shore bases), plays guardian angel to merchant shipping on the international shipping lane (ISL) that runs through the Ten Degree Channel. The navy seeks no compensation for keeping pirates at bay, or responding to emergencies. This comes with the turf for a regional power’s navy. And, in the event of a crisis, this positions the navy well for closing the channel to unfriendly shipping, or “enforcing a blockade” in military parlance.

In the Bay of Bengal, twelve hundred kilometres from the Indian mainland, sits another strategically priceless island chain called the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These too dominate the international shipping lane that runs past them, through the 200-kilometre wide Six Degree Channel, before entering the Malacca Strait. Over the last two decades, India has transformed the Andamans (as the island chain is called) from a military backwater into the bristling Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC). This expanding presence, with a growing complement of naval, air and ground assets, is India’s first (and only) tri-service command, headed in rotation by three-star generals, admirals and air marshals, who report directly to the Integrated Defence Staff in New Delhi.

According to a recently retired navy fleet commander who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Lakshadweep and Andamans give India a double stranglehold over these international shipping lanes, make it the natural master of the northern Indian Ocean. Iran’s bluster about shutting down the Strait of Hormuz can evoke scepticism, but analysts agree that the Indian Navy --- with its flotilla of 134 modern warships --- can shut down the Indian Ocean shipping lanes whenever it chooses. At stake here are not just the oil supplies of China, Japan and the ASEAN states, but also the reverse flow of exports that are crucial to these economies. All told, some 60,000 vessels move through the Strait of Malacca each year, one every nine minutes.

“A couple of submarines and a fighter squadron at Car Nicobar could easily enforce a declared blockade,” says the retired fleet commander.

Last fortnight, this capability was strengthened when India’s just-retired naval chief, Admiral Nirmal Verma (he handed charge on Friday to Admiral DK Joshi), inaugurated a naval air base, INS Baaz, at the very mouth of the Malacca Strait. This base, which will eventually have a 10,000-foot-long runway for fighter operations, is 300 kilometres closer to the Malacca Strait than Car Nicobar,.

Noted geo-strategist, Robert Kaplan, notes India’s crucial geography in this area: “India stands astride the Indian Ocean… the world’s energy interstate, the link for megaships carrying hydrocarbons from the Middle East to the consumers in the burgeoning middle-class concentrations of East Asia. India, thus, with the help of the Indian Ocean, fuses the geopolitics of the Greater Middle East with the geopolitics of East Asia — creating an increasingly unified and organic geography of conflict and competition across the navigable southern rim of Eurasia.”

But New Delhi does not intend this ocean to be a hotly contested strategic prize. Instead, oil and merchandise must flow smoothly, crucial for its growing economy. But the Indian Navy’s level statements and its rapid growth also indicate that India plans to retain local superiority over its Chinese counterpart, the People’s Liberation Army (Navy), which would allow it to counter any Chinese aggression on the Himalayan frontier with a blockade of Chinese shipping in the Indian Ocean.

The growth of the PLA(N) can hardly be matched from within the resources of the smaller Indian economy. But New Delhi believes that the PLA(N) will be increasingly preoccupied with the growing regional presence of the US Navy that is presaged by the “rebalance to the Asia Pacific region” that President Barack Obama announced earlier this year. While Obama specifically named India as a key regional partner, New Delhi has chosen a more balanced role, which would not commit India to taking sides in any confrontation.

Admiral Verma declared in New Delhi in August that, notwithstanding “major policy statements from the US, from our perspective the primary areas of interest to us is from the Malacca Strait to the (Persian/Arabian) Gulf in the west, and to the Cape of Good Hope in the south… the Pacific and the South China Sea are of concern to us, but activation in those areas is not on the cards.”

India’s quiet assumption of primacy in the Indian Ocean does not go unchallenged by regional rivals. Chinese leaders, dating back to Defence Minister Chi Haotian in 1994, have protested that, “The Indian Ocean is not India’s ocean.” But the fundamental determinants of naval power --- force levels and proximity --- suggest that China is some way from being able to challenge India in its own oceanic backyard.

Senior government sources say that the navy is being careful that its new teeth and claws do not set off alarm bells anywhere. In the 1980s, India’s acquisition of a flurry of Soviet Union warships caused regional countries like Australia and Indonesia to openly question the reason for that naval build-up. This time around, there is painstaking transparency; the navy publicly bean counts all its recent and forthcoming acquisitions.

This was evident at Admiral Verma’s farewell press conference last month. He listed out the recently inducted warships that had taken the navy’s count to 134: three Project 17 stealth frigates (INS Shivalik, Satpura and Sahyadri); two fleet tankers (INS Deepak and Shakti); one Russian 1135.6 Class stealth frigate (INS Teg); the nuclear attack submarine, INS Chakra, which has been leased from Russia; a sail training ship (INS Sudarshini); and eight water-jet Fast Attack Craft.

Another 43 warships, revealed Verma, were under construction in India. These include three Project 15A destroyers (INS Kolkata, Kochi and Chennai), being built by Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai (MDL), which would start induction next year; four more similar destroyers under Project 15B; six Scorpene submarines being built at MDL; four anti-submarine warfare corvettes, being built at Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers, Kolkata (GRSE), which would start entering service next year; four offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) being built by Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) would commence induction later this year; five more OPVs and two cadet training ships are being built by private shipyards. Eight landing craft are being built by GRSE for the Andamans; six new catamaran-hulled survey vessels, the first of which will join the navy this year.

Also joining the navy would be three more warships from Russia: the aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya (formerly the Gorshkov) would enter service this year; and two more frigates of the Teg class would join the navy’s fleet in 2013-14. All this would ensure that “over the next five years we expect to induct ships and submarines at an average rate of 5 platforms per year, provided the yards deliver as per contracted timelines,” said Verma.

All this is still insufficient to meet the navy’s Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP) target of a 160-ship force that is built around 90 capital warships, like aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and corvettes. Today the navy has barely half the destroyers and frigates it needs. And the 5 vessels that will be inducted each year will barely suffice to replace warships that are decommissioned after completing their 30-40 year service lives.

“Looking just at numbers conveys an over-gloomy picture,” a highly placed MoD source tells Business Standard. “Replacing a single-role frigate built in the 1960s or 1970s with a multi-role, stealth frigate that we build today is hardly a one-for-one transaction. It represents a significant accretion of capability. And so, we are looking at capabilities, not just at numbers.”

But numbers are important, especially when it comes to covering a vast maritime domain. In anti-piracy operations around the Gulf of Aden, where Indian, Chinese and Japanese warships conduct patrols in coordination with one another, India has managed to sustain a single warship on patrol. China, in contrast, sustains three, including a logistics replenishment vessel. India scrapes the bottom of its 134-ship barrel to muster warships for the range of exercises it conducts with the US, Russia, UK, France and Singapore, amongst others. The PLA(N)’s armada of more than 500 warships allows it to send vessels on lengthy deployments, such as port calls to eastern and southern African countries that front the Indian Ocean.

Realising that defence shipyards alone cannot bridge the navy’s shortfall, the MoD has encouraged shipyards like MDL and GRSE to forge joint ventures (JVs) with private shipyards that have created impressive infrastructure for building warships. These include L&T’s brand new Katupalli shipyard at Ennore, Tamil Nadu; Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Co Ltd at Bhavnagar, Gujarat; and ABG Shipyard at Dahej, Gujarat. The JVs seek to marry the experience of defence shipyards with the infrastructure and entrepreneurial ability of the private sector shipyards.

Several western navies, like the UK’s Royal Navy, make up for smaller numbers by functioning in alliances, which has allowed them to concentrate on particular types of vessels (the Royal Navy focuses on anti-submarine warfare) while other partners handle other operational dimensions. With the Indian Navy determined to stay clear of alliances (“we can be a partner, but not an ally,” says a senior officer) it will be forced to find a way of putting in place the flotilla needed for policing the ocean that India increasingly considers its own.

* * * * *

AN EXPANDING FORCE
Indian Navy force multipliers

1.   Sea Control



Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, formerly the Gorshkov, will be delivered this year. Like India’s existing carrier, the INS Viraat, this floating airfield will allow the navy to impose control over a large expanse of sea, a long distance away from land bases.

2.   Strategic Bases

 


Far-flung bases like Car Nicobar and Campbell Bay in the Andamans (pictured here), which function like unsinkable aircraft carriers, allow air power to be applied at locations very far away from the mainland. The Andaman & Nicobar Islands are 1200 km away from the mainland.

3.   Blockade of Shipping

 


The nuclear attack submarine INS Chakra, along with 14 existing submarines and 6 Scorpenes that will come by 2018, can impose a blockade on shipping at choke points in the Indian Ocean. These include the Strait of Hormuz; Nine Degree Channel; Six Degree Channel; Malacca Strait.

4.    Maritime Domain Awareness

 


Reconnaissance aircraft like the P8I (India has bought 8, the first of which will join the navy next year) will allow it to effectively monitor oceanic areas. India is also scouting around for 8 medium range maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

5.   Land Attack

 


The Brahmos cruise missile, which is now standard fitment on all naval warships, provide a potent capability to attack targets that are 200-250 kilometres inland.
31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India; India-afpakia and India-China? on: June 27, 2012, 08:28:55 PM
India-US relations is a complex topic...here's one article. This focusses on defense issues, ofcourse there's lots of other commerce that's not discussed.

http://syednazakat.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/pentagons-new-india-focus/
Posted on June 26, 2012
America’s great plans for India, and why New Delhi’s jumpy

By Syed Nazakat in Delhi

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta is a politician by profession and a military conjurer by necessity. He served briefly in the military, half a century ago, but his reputation has been built, almost entirely, in politics. For 16 years, he was the Democratic Congressman from his hometown, Monterey in California. Perhaps it was there that he saw India emerging. California was home to Gobind Behari Lal, the first Indian American to win the Pulitzer Prize; Bhagat S. Thind, the first Indian American to serve in the US Army, and Dalip S. Saund, the first Congressman of South Asian descent. Then there were the thousands of Indian immigrants in Silicon Valley.

Today, as the US is reviewing its defence policy after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, India has become, in Panetta’s own words, its strategic priority. Panetta’s forthcoming visit toIndia, his first as defence secretary, is part of Pentagon’s new policy to seek closer defence ties withIndia. Significantly, the visit comes just a week before the India-US strategic dialogue in Washington,D.C.

“This [India-US] partnership is top priority for the USdepartment of defence,” George Little, assistant secretary of defence for public affairs, told THE WEEK, before Panetta’s visit was officially announced. “In just one decade, there has been a rapid transformation of the US-India defence relationship into a strategic partnership between two of the pre-eminent security powers inAsia.” During his two-day visit, starting June 6, Panetta will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.

Panetta knows the complexities of the US-India relationship. The paths converged first after 9/11, and then the nuclear deal became the fulcrum of the changed relationship, though the process was politically painful. Today, the US identifies Indiaas a long-term strategic partner; President Barack Obama famously described it as one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.

Dr Amer Latif, former director for south Asian affairs at Pentagon, said, “The military ties have developed into one of the most important and robust aspects of the US-India bilateral relationship. The priority towardsIndia was overdue.”

The US has identified some key areas for cooperation, such as homeland security, intelligence sharing, a joint working group on counter-terrorism, computer emergency response teams and a range of military engagements. To woo India, the UShas removed laboratories of the Defence Research and Development Organisation from the entity list. So, the DRDO can almost freely procure weapons systems from theUS, though a control regime still exits.

THE WEEK has learnt that, at a recently held defence policy group meet inDelhi, Jim Miller, Panetta’s close aide and Pentagon’s chief policy maker, proposed closer operational engagement with the Indian military. The US has proposed joint military planning exercises up to brigade level with the Indian Army and has asked India to place a senior liaison officer with the US Central Command and US Pacific Command.

As DPG meetings shun headline-grabbing rhetoric, no one, except those in the defence strategy network, paid attention to Miller’s words. “The US looks at India as an important strategic partner in the region as well as as a big and unexploited market,” said Jayadeva Ranade, former additional secretary, Research & Analysis Wing, who had a diplomatic posting in Washington, D.C. “Strategically, in the region, it would like to draw India into a partnership,” he said. “It realises that India would recoil at any suggestion of an alliance, which helps further the US strategic agenda, including retarding China from emerging either as a potent threat or as a rival to US strategic interests.”

The US Pacific Command wanted to have joint operations with the Indian Navy in humanitarian and disaster relief missions. Despite repeated American requests since 2008,Indiahas been reluctant. A senior Indian defence ministry official said though India was ready to boost defence cooperation with theUS, it was unwilling to ink operational military pacts. This time, Panetta may seek fresh discussions on the three pending military pacts—the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA).

The US has been arguing that CISMOA and BECA guarantee the use of US-made aircraft and communications systems before they hit the market. It would also give India access to sensitive C4ISR technology and increase the interoperability of Indian and American forces during joint exercises and missions. India, on the other hand, thinks the agreement is intrusive and that the US would use it to examine Indian equipment under the guise of interoperability.

More than CISMOA and BECA, it is the LSA on which both countries have sharp differences. The LSA for India is designed to give Indian and US ships and aircraft access to each other’s facilities, such as ports and airfields, for refuelling and refurbishment through a barter system. But many in the defence and political establishment suspect that the LSA will provide bases to theUSmilitary, turningIndiainto a subordinate ally.

And, the list of contentious issues is not limited to the military agreements. The US military aid to Pakistan, cooperation withIran, the use of military to topple regimes inWest Asiaand nuclear disarmament are some of the other issues. “Indiais cautious about developing operational cooperation with the US because of its political implications, both in terms of domestic politics and India’s external ties,” said Kanwal Sibal, former foreign secretary. “Indiawants to develop broad-based, mutually beneficial relations with various global power centres rather than being seen as excessively leaning towards one power centre.”

So sensitive is India that an off-the-cuff remark made by the US Pacific Command commander Admiral Robert F. Willard, about the presence of US Special Forces in India, was raised in Parliament. Antony had to reassure Parliament on May 7 that the “US has neither sought nor has the government of India approved stationing of US Special Forces personnel in any capacity in India.”

Within the defence ministry, there is growing consensus that it is in India’s interest, too, to forge a close defence partnership with theUS. The Indian Navy has benefited from the Malabar exercises with the US Navy.India has been conducting numerous naval exercises with the US, and, today, the exercise is no more limited to boarding operations.

This year, both navies were armed with guided-missile cruisers, destroyers and submarines during the 10-day long exercise in theBay of Bengal. Air defence and anti-submarine warfare was part of the exercise. TheUSfleet included the USS Carl Vinson, the Nimitz class supercarrier which carried Osama bin Laden’s body to be buried at sea.Indiaand theUShave organised over 50 military exercises in the last seven years, most of them aimed at building anti-terrorism and counter insurgency capability. With no other country has the Indian military engaged in so many joint exercises. The push in the defence trade is also a sign of growing trust and partnership.

India’s defence trade with the US has risen from virtually nil a decade ago to nearly $9 billion today. Since 2002, India has signed more than 20 deals for defence articles and services such as amphibious transport ship INS Jalashwa, UH-3H helicopters worth $92.5 million, Lockheed Martin C-130J aircraft worth $962 million (the first US military aircraft sale to India in half a century), P-8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft worth $2.1 billion, Harpoon Block-II anti-ship missiles for $170 million and C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlift aircraft worth $4.1 billion.

More recently, the defence ministry has cleared procurement of 145 ultra-light howitzers worth $647 million for deployment on the China border. The M777, the lightest 155mm artillery gun ever, will be the first such gun to enter service with the Indian Army after the Bofors guns 27 years ago. Negotiations are now being finalised for acquiring six more C-130J, four more P-8I aircraft, Javelin anti-tank guided missiles, Jaguar aircraft engine upgrades and as well as AH-64D attack helicopters.

“Defence cooperation is not just about sales, it is about creating new linkages between our technology and business sectors,” Geoffrey R. Pyatt, principal deputy assistant secretary, bureau of south and central Asian affairs at the state department, told reporters in Washington, D.C. “Our scientists and military personnel are increasingly asking not only what they can buy, but what they can co-produce and co-develop.”

At present, the technology cooperation between India and the US is mainly in collaborative projects like naval materials, command and control technologies and material search for aeronautics. “The DRDO and theUS, at present, are not pursuing the development of any hi-technology weapons platforms,” said Gopal Bhushan, director (international cooperation), DRDO. “However, both sides are keen to gradually co-design and co-develop some systems which have strategic relevance to both countries.”

Three ventures in Hyderabad show how the defence relationship is blossoming. Some 48km from the city,USmultinational DuPont, a leading provider of armour, has an integrated ballistics facility. The first such DuPont facility inAsia, it will develop and test protective gear for Indian defence and security forces. Aviation giant Lockheed Martin and Tata have a joint venture that makes aerostructure parts for C-130 aircraft. Mahindra & Mahindra has a joint venture withUScommunications equipment major Telephonics Corporation to produce radars, surveillance systems and communication solutions.

The Pentagon’s shift towards India comes amid increasing concern in theUS ove rChina’s strategic aims, as it is investing in newer and better weapons, missile defence systems, submarines, an aircraft carrier and the development of a stealth fighter jet.

India, as a deterrence effort, is building roads, infrastructure and military capability along theChinaborder.Indiahas also deployed its front-line fighter aircraft Sukhoi Su-30MKIs in forward airbases, and has raised two Mountain Divisions there.

Former national security adviser Brajesh Mishra said that a US-India strategic partnership, though feasible, would take some time to mature and would need an organic change in the bureaucracies of both countries. And, he had a word of caution: “The Chinese are extremely worried about the growing Indo-US strategic partnership, which is necessary to safeguard our national security. The closerIndiaand theUScome, the more hostile the Chinese attitude towards India would be.”

Before his India visit, Panetta hosted China’s Defence Minister Liang Guanglie. It was the first visit to Washington by a Chinese defence minister in nine years.Chinais expected to figure prominently in Panetta’s talks in Delhi. There will also be discussions on Afghanistan, where theUSis winding down the war. Both India and theUS have signed strategic partnership withAfghanistanand the intelligence agencies of both countries are working closely onAfghanistan, though no one wants to talk about this.

Panetta, like many in the Indian defence establishment, agrees that Indian and US interests converge and collide on terrorism, China and uncertainties about the end-game in Afghanistan, in particular the deal with the Taliban brokered by Pakistan. The agreement, however, is to build a long-term relationship which will give options in the event of fundamentalists taking over the Af-Pak region, or a turn for worse on the China front. Neither of these developments is likely, but insurance policies are worth having anyway.

32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 16, 2012, 05:15:14 PM
Your analytical skills are on the ball....the question is what are we going to do about pak perfidy. The one guy in Pak who did something, Shakil Afriidi (OBL fame), has been hauled in for treason. Apparently helping get OBL is treason. Allah help Shittistan.

33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 20, 2012, 02:31:10 PM
Looks like the paki govt has upped the tolls, from  250$/car toll to 5000$/car.

'Hafta' discord: US, Pak squabble over transit fee
Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN | May 20, 2012, 09.30PM IST
Article



WASHINGTON: The United States is all too familiar with Nafta - the North Atlantic Free trade Agreement - but it is now learning the meaning of 'hafta', the subcontinental expression for protection money collected by gangsters.

On the eve of the Nato summit in President Barack Obama's hometown Chicago to discuss the future of Afghanistan, Washington is locked in a bitter wrangle with Islamabad over the so-called ''transit fees'' for US/Nato containers carrying supplies through Pakistan to landlocked Afghanistan. Pakistan is demanding $5000 per container; the US says it is too much and expressions such as price-gouging and blackmail are being bandied around.

The scrap is getting ugly. Over the weekend, even as Pakistan's survivalist President Asif Ali Zardari arrived in Chicago as a late invitee, US defense secretary Leon Panetta stepped into the dispute raging in the lower level bureaucracy of both sides, ruling out the $ 5000 per container that Pakistan is demanding.

"Considering the financial challenges that we're facing, that's not likely," Panetta told Los Angeles Times of the Pakistani demand.

The US was paying Pakistan $250 per container till late last year before a rash of crises starting with the Raymond Davis episode and culminating with the Salala incident, with the Abbottabad raid to kill Osama bin Laden in between, brought the tormented ties between the two sides to a bitter pass. Pakistan has upped the ante and the price of cooperation since then, enhancing its reputation as a rentier state that uses self-generated crises to extract money. Islamabad's argument purportedly is that $5000 per container is still less than what the US is having to spend on the alternative Northern Distribution Network.

In Washington, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman told CNN that Pakistan is looking at a 'positive' conversation about reopening of Nato supply routes but it will be pre-mature to say when the trucks will resume supply. She also maintained that Pakistan is still demanding an apology from Washington for the death of Pakistani soldiers in a U.S attack on the Salala checkpoint.

But the US has hardened its stance on the issue after much debate within the administration about an apology. According to one account, the Obama administration was on the verge of issuing an apology on several occasions but backed off each time in the face of Pakistani depredations, including one episode involving Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when it was aborted midflight. The prevailing sentiment in Washington is now veering around to: When will Pakistan apologize to the world for harboring terrorists who have attacked targets across the world?

The US is now reconciled to the issue not being resolved before or during the summit, and in yet another snub to Pakistan, it has declined to announce any bilateral meeting between President Obama and Zardari. "We're not anticipating necessarily closing out those negotiations this weekend," Obama aide Ben Rhodes said on Saturday, adding, "A lot of it is happening, frankly, at the working level between our governments." The working level, as it turns outs, isn't working very well.

The spat between the two sides is bound to get uglier. Last week, the US Congress approved an amendment to a bill under which Washington could block up to $650 million in proposed payments to Pakistan unless Islamabad lets coalition forces resume shipments. The vote was an overwhelming 412-1 in favor of the amendment, indicative of the mood in Congress. The US also has various other levers to bring Pakistan to heel, including squeezing bilateral and multilateral aid, which it has so far been reluctant to use.
34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 16, 2012, 07:37:47 PM
Its only money  grin, so the lossses that Pak suffered by stopping transit for 6 months needs to be compensated for....sort of like the IRS, penalty fees apply.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/pakistan-seeks-5000-transit-fee-for-each-nato-container/2012/05/16/gIQAU8gkUU_story.html

Pakistan seeks $5,000 transit fee for each NATO container
  
By Richard Leiby and Karen DeYoung, Updated: Wednesday, May 16, 7:19 PM

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani negotiators have proposed a fee of about $5,000 for each NATO shipping container and tanker that transits its territory by land into and out of Afghanistan.

The amount is a key sticking point in discussions about the terms of a deal that would allow the traffic to resume, about six months after Pakistan closed its border crossings, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.
 
The two countries are allies but their relationship has been plagued by mistrust over the last 50 years.
Officials said Tuesday that a deal was imminent, after they reached agreement in principal on reopening the transit corridors. But the details are being negotiated.

“The framework is ready, but we are now looking at rates,” a Pakistani official said.

A U.S. official emphasized that the United States has not agreed to any figure.

According to officials from both countries, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the closed-door negotiations here, Pakistan proposed the figure after calculating its total outlays for damaged infrastructure — primarily wear and tear on its roads from the heavy vehicles — as well as security costs and a newly imposed tariff.

Pakistani officials said they had also taken into account their belief that NATO, by using alternative, far longer transport routes through Central Asia, is paying at least double the amount they have requested.

Nonetheless, payment for what are known as the Pakistani GLOCs, for Ground Lines of Communication, has been difficult for the Pentagon to swallow, because access previously was considered free. But other U.S. officials have pointed out that the United States has given Pakistan billions over the past decade as compensation for its counterterrorism efforts. That money is expected to be discontinued as the new arrangements are put in place.

Pakistan says it is still owed more than $3 billion for past operations; the United States puts the figure at about $1.3 billion.

The transport agreement is being considered as a matter separate from other aspects of the bilateral security relationship, including Pakistan’s rejection of U.S. drone attacks on militants inside its borders. Discussions on that issue are continuing between senior intelligence officials.

Pakistan closed its borders to the shipments after a U.S. air raid in November along the Afghan border left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead. A U.S. military investigation concluded that both sides were at fault, and the United States expressed regret. But Pakistan called it an unprovoked attack and demanded an apology.

Before the closures, more than 70 percent of NATO’s supplies in Afghanistan — largely paid for and utilized by the United States — traveled over land from the Pakistani port of Karachi. The route has become even more important to U.S. and coalition forces as they begin the combat troop withdrawal scheduled for completion by the end of 2014.

The pullout will be discussed at a NATO summit in Chicago this weekend. The alliance invited Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to the summit this week once it became clear that a transit agreement was near.

Some analysts here speculated that Zardari might wait to announce in Chicago any new deal with NATO. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s unwieldy cabinet — 53 ministers in all — took up the matter but ended the day with no decision except to reinforce the Parliament’s recommendation that shipments contain no weaponry or lethal supplies.

U.S. officials noted that the parliamentary recommendations being debated referred only to nonlethal supplies traveling into Afghanistan but proposed no such restriction on outgoing goods.

Although Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told reporters after the Wednesday meeting that “no decision on NATO supplies will be made under any pressure,” the government here is eager to resolve the issue, which has left thousands of containers sitting in lots near two border crossings and countless Pakistani transport and other workers idle.



DeYoung reported from Washington.
35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The YA Strategy on: March 24, 2012, 08:37:30 AM
My views on what the US needs to do have been relatively constant. The US needs leverage over Pak. There are 2 levers, 1.Independent Pashtoonistan (also a lever over Karzai), 2. Independent Balochistan (leverage over Pak and Iran). Incidentally, none of these areas ever belonged to Pak. Each of these plays will likely have different outcomes, but both will cut Pak down to size and seriously motivate them to stop terrorism and give up their nukes.
I prefer the Independent Pashtoonistan option, or even better support the breakdown of the Durrand line and allow the NWFP/FATA to join Afghanistan. Such a move will have the support of the Afghans, Pashtoons and the Taliban. The paki army will have a hard time fighting the pashtoon, their writ does not run in most of those areas anyway.
Once Pashtoonistan is freed, further leverage can be applied on Pak to give up its nukes and wrap up any remaining AQ types, or that they loose Balochistan next.
The long term outcomes would be greatly increased influence in Afghanistan and Central Asia, as well as access to the seaports of Balochistan.
P.S.
- Cutting aid is useful, currently around 1-2 Billion/year, but not enough, because China will pick up some of the slack. Also there is no real pain, because the army appropriates its share of the national wealth as needed, any left overs go for public welfare.
- I still struggle to understand the geopolitics and rationale of the US supporting Pak, especially vis a vis India. The old concept of maintaining balance of power between the two does not apply anymore. India is far ahead in technology and GDP, and only spends 1.9% of GDP on the military. The new balance of power game is between India and China. I am seeing a small tilt towards India, but the umbilical cord to Pak is frayed but intact.
- The US would be wise to team up with India in achieving the above two aims. India has excellent relations with Karzai and Balochistan, and even Iran for that matter. Something that has not been discussed so far is the Indus water treaty between India-Pak. The terms have been unsually favorable to pak, considering that its the lower riparian. India can abrogate the treaty and start afresh. Water wars between India-Pak and India-China will likely occur in the future. There are also some rivers that originate in Afghanistan that flow to Pak. Already Pak has taken India to court over water rights (lost every time), because as I said the terms are unusually favorable at the moment.
36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Taliban vows to retake Afg. on: March 23, 2012, 06:40:29 PM
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/01/us-afghanistan-idUSTRE8100E520120201
Taliban vows to retake Afghanistan: report
(Reuters) - The Taliban, backed by Pakistan, remains confident despite a decade of NATO efforts that it will retake control of Afghanistan, NATO said in a new classified report that raises more questions about Afghanistan's future as foreign forces withdraw.

"Taliban commanders, along with rank and file members, increasingly believe their control of Afghanistan is inevitable. Though the Taliban suffered severely in 2011, its strength, motivation, funding and tactical proficiency remains intact," according to an excerpt of the report, published by the Times of London and the BBC.

"While they are weary of war, they see little hope for a negotiated peace. Despite numerous tactical setbacks, surrender is far from their collective mindset. For the moment, they believe that continuing the fight and expanding Taliban governance are their only viable courses of action," the published excerpts said.

Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, confirmed the existence of the document, but military officials downplayed it as a depiction of the views of thousands of Taliban detainees who were interviewed by NATO officials.

"The classified document in question is a compilation of Taliban detainee opinions," Cummings said. "It's not an analysis, nor is it meant to be considered an analysis."

Still, the published excerpts paint a troubling picture of the Afghan war more than 10 years after the Taliban government was toppled, and as foreign forces begin to go home in earnest.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday the United States was aiming to complete its combat role in Afghanistan by mid- to late 2013, shifting to a training role.

The report's findings - including assertions that the Taliban had not formally split from international extremists - could also reinforce the view of Taliban hard-liners that they should not negotiate with the United States and President Hamid Karzai's unpopular government while in a position of strength.

Hours after the Times report, the Afghan Taliban said that no peace negotiation process had been agreed to with the international community, "particularly the Americans."

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement that before any negotiations, confidence-building measures must be completed, putting pressure on Washington to meet demands for the release of five Taliban in U.S. custody.

The hard-line Islamist movement also said it had no plans to hold preliminary peace talks with Afghanistan's government in Saudi Arabia, dismissing media reports of talks in the kingdom.

Britain's Kabul ambassador, William Patey, wrote on his Twitter feed that "if elements of the Taliban think that in 2015 they can take control of Afghanistan they will be in for a shock." He did not say if he was referring to the NATO report.

"We really do believe that militarily we are making an impact on the Taliban," said Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.

PAKISTAN LINK

The published excerpts of the report also gave further indication of the Taliban's reliance on neighboring Pakistan, where elements of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency has long had links to the Taliban.

"Reflections from detainees indicate that Pakistan's manipulation of Taliban senior leadership continues unabated. The Taliban themselves do not trust Pakistan, yet there is a widespread acceptance of the status quo in lieu of realistic alternatives," another excerpt published by the Times read.

The report overshadowed a visit to Kabul by Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar designed to repair ties and raise the issue with Karzai of peace talks with the Taliban.

"I can disregard this as a potentially strategic leak. ... This is old wine in an even older bottle," she told reporters, repeating Pakistan's denials it backs militant groups.

Khar, whose visit was the first high-level meeting in months between officials from both countries, added the neighbors should stop blaming each other for strained cross-border ties.

The Times said the "highly classified" report was put together by the U.S. military at Bagram air base, near Kabul, for top NATO officers last month. It was based on interrogations of more than 4,000 Taliban and al Qaeda detainees, it said.

Kirby declined to comment on the specifics of the report, but did acknowledge "long-standing concerns about the ties between elements of the ISI and the Taliban. This is not a new notion."

Large swathes of Afghanistan have been handed back to Afghan security forces, with the last foreign combat troops due to leave by the end of 2014. While some foreign soldiers will stay, likely to conduct counterterrorism operations, many Afghans doubt their security forces can stave off insurgents.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu, speaking in Brussels, played down the implications and said a surge offensive had seen the Taliban suffer "tremendous setbacks."

"We know that they have lost a lot of ground and a lot of leaders, and we also know that support for the Taliban is at an all-time low," she said.

As of January 1, 889 U.S. soldiers had been killed in a conflict that was launched after the September 11, 2001, attacks and has drained almost half a trillion dollars from U.S. coffers.

'WRONG POLICIES'

New accusations of Pakistani collusion with the Taliban could further strain ties between Western powers and Islamabad.

Critics say Pakistan uses militants as proxies to counter the growing influence of India in Afghanistan. The belief that Pakistan supports the insurgents is widely held in Afghanistan.

"It would be a mistake now for the international community to leave Afghanistan, and drop us in a dark ocean," said Afghan telecommunications worker Farid Ahmad Totakhil.

Pakistan is reviewing ties with the United States, which have suffered a series of setbacks since a U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil in May last year humiliated Pakistan's powerful generals.

A November 26 cross-border NATO air attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers deepened the crisis, prompting Pakistan to close supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is seen as critical to U.S. efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. Yet Islamabad has resisted U.S. pressure to go after insurgent groups like the Taliban, and argues Washington's approach overlooks complex realities on the ground.

Pakistan says the United States should attempt to bring all militant groups into a peace process and fears a 2014 combat troop exit could be hasty, plunging the region into the kind of chaos seen after the Soviet exit in 1989.

"They don't need any backing," Tariq Azim, of the Pakistani Senate's Defence Committee, told Reuters, referring to the Taliban. "Everybody knows that after 10 years, they (NATO) have not been able to control a single province in Afghanistan because of the wrong policies they have been following."

The Taliban announced this month it would open a political office in Qatar to support possible reconciliation talks. There has been talk of efforts to hold separate talks in Saudi Arabia.

U.S. lawmakers also pressed the Pentagon on Wednesday to step up measures to ensure Western soldiers are not attacked by Afghan forces or employees of security firms working with NATO.

France said it would withdraw its troops completely by the end of 2013 after four of its soldiers were killed by a rogue Afghan soldier, the latest such "insider" attack.

The U.S. Defense Department said that over 40 similar attacks on foreign personnel had taken place since mid-2007, some of them by people working with private security contractors.

"We ... owe it to our military personnel to do everything we can to reduce this sort of risk," said Representative Adam Smith, the senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

Pentagon officials said NATO took extensive steps to vet Afghans working with foreign troops and was exploring ways to prevent future attacks.

(Additional reporting by Dan Magnowski, Rob Taylor and Amie Ferris-Rotman in KABUL, David Brunnstrom in BRUSSELS, Qasim Nauman in ISLAMABAD, Missy Ryan in WASHINGTON; Writing by Michael Georgy and Rob Taylor; Editing by Robert Birsel and Peter Cooney)

37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 11, 2012, 06:12:53 PM
I have been away...just too exhausted with Af-Pak..at some point the Baloch battlefield will become important...
http://soodvikram.blogspot.com/
The Baloch battlefield


March 7, 2012

From the West’s perspective, while Syria has to be destabilised to get at Iran, Balochistan must be kept stable in order to keep Pakistan happy

.The killing of Zamur Domki along with her 13-year-old daughter Jaana on January 31 in Karachi was a new low in that violence-prone city. It may have been routinely described as yet another criminal act except that Zamur was the granddaughter of slain Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and the sister of Brahamdagh Bugti. Brahamdagh is wanted by the Pakistani authorities for rebelling and waging war against Pakistan. This brutal murder was a ruthless message to Brahamdagh. There was immediate retaliation by the Baloch Liberation Army, which killed 15 Frontier Corps men and injured 12 others in attacks on four posts.

Balochistan has been in perpetual revolt ever since Pakistan became independent — there were four other campaigns after 1948. The current rebellion gained momentum after the assassination of Nawab Bugti in August 2006 and the murder of Balaach Marri, son of Nawab Khair Bux Marri, one of the two surviving leaders of the famous 1973 Baloch uprising. The other survivor is Sardar Ataullah Khan Mengal. Among younger leaders of a possible Baloch revolt, Brahamdagh Bugti lives in exile in Switzerland, while Hyrbair Marri (Khair Bux’s son) is in London. But there is no totem pole in Balochistan around which the Baloch nationalists can rally.

The constant Baloch grievances against Islamabad have ranged from deprivation of profits from its contribution to the national exchequer to inequitable sharing of the province’s abundant natural resources with the Baloch people (which are siphoned off, mainly to Punjab). The Baloch also resent the fact that they are outnumbered by outsiders (mostly Punjabis), and that prime arable land is being parcelled out to these “outsiders” and the Army, which, in many cases, is double jeopardy. The nationalists probably echo Ataullah Mengal’s warning last year — “Balochistan will not remain with you.”
There are other problems for the Baloch. The Baloch lack centralised leadership in the campaign for their rights. There are as many as six Baloch insurgent organisations that have been banned by Islamabad, including the Baloch Liberation Army, Balochistan Republican Army and Baloch Liberation Front. In the absence of reliable data, conservative estimates assess that there have been at least 180 attacks since 2005.

While the West may fret over events in Syria, very little attention has been paid to what has been happening in Balochistan. From the West’s perspective, while Syria has to be destabilised to get at Iran, Balochistan must be kept stable in order to keep Pakistan happy and maybe helpful in Afghanistan. Balochistan provides access to Kandahar and borders the predominantly Sunni province of Sistan-Balochistan in Iran. It is not in America’s interest, therefore, to make any noise about killings and disappearances in Balochistan. The province is thrice the size of Syria in area, located on the borders of Iran and astride the Strait of Oman, and not far from the Strait of Hormuz. Balochistan was a base for drones, and Pakistan remains far too important for America’s global calculations to allow anything more than congressional hearings. The deliberations of the US House foreign affairs committee on February 8 upset the Pakistan government as much as it elated the Baloch nationalists. The US simultaneously has been making moves to “normalise” relations with Islamabad.

There is also considerable long-term Chinese interest in having access to the port of Gwadar, which would shorten the route for China from and for its African and Gulf interests to Xinjiang. The Chinese have considerable interests in the Saindak copper mines, in mineral resources, Sui gas and the possibility of participating in the Iran-Pakistan pipeline if and when it materialises. The Iranians have alleged that Mujahideen-e-Khalq as well as Jundullah are sectarian Sunni-US proxies operating from Balochistan against Iranian interests.

Having learnt from the tactics used in the Arab Spring protests last year, the Baloch nationalists — many of whom are outside Pakistan — have been using Internet platforms such as Twitter to spread their message rather effectively. Almost every day one reads about killings, abductions and kidnappings both by the state and the nationalists; there are reports of explosions but very little is reported outside the province. There have been a few brave articles in Pakistan’s English-language press, but the Baloch anger at years of discrimination, deprivation and suppression — at the hands of Pakistan’s Punjabis — continues to manifest itself.

The reaction from Islamabad to all this has been predictable. It has been a policy of kill and dump bodies of young Baloch nationalists as a warning to others. Human Rights Watch, in its 2012 World Report, documented that 200 Baloch nationalists had disappeared or were killed in the previous year. The Asian Human Rights Commission report says at least 56 bullet-ridden bodies of “disappeared persons” had been found in Balochistan. An estimated 200 extra-judicial killings had taken place since 2010. There were a total of 711 killings in 2011 — comprising 122 SF personnel, 47 militants and 542 civilians.
The situation is further complicated because, along with Baloch insurgents, there are Pushtun Islamists and sectarian mafia. The Quetta Shura of Mullah Omar, which is present in the midst of a strong Afghan Pushtun population, is another complication and cause for ethnic tension. Sectarian militant outfits like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have repeatedly targeted the Shias. It is suspected that this has the blessings of Islamabad/Rawalpindi. Over 50 Hindus have also been kidnapped for ransom in Balochistan in a bid to discredit the nationalists, which gives a clear indication of the lawlessness in the province. And last year around 12,000 Persian-speaking Hazaras had to leave Quetta, fearing for their lives. All this is a form of Wahabi ethnic cleansing.

The best way out for Pakistan would be to negotiate with Baloch leaders in good faith; but possibly it feels the jackboot is the better option. The world will continue to ignore Balochistan, while the Baloch will continue their lonely struggle, which the Pakistan government will try to suppress through force, and innocents will continue to die.


The Asia Age New Delhi and the Deccan Chronicle March 7 2012
38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Fog of Peace on: February 05, 2012, 05:25:25 PM
http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/01/18/the_fog_of_peace
The Fog of Peace
By Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason   Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 4:03 PM    Share

Afghanistan policy, like Vietnam policy before it, has taken on a life of its own, impervious to ground truth. The simple reality is that "peace talks" with the Taliban have no chance whatever of a positive outcome from the perspective of U.S. policy. Just as it did in Vietnam, the United States has been fighting the wrong war in Afghanistan with the wrong strategy from the very beginning.

In Vietnam, the United States was ideologically hell-bent on fighting a war against communism, and shaped its strategy accordingly. For nearly a decade in Afghanistan, the United States has insisted on fighting a secular war, a counterinsurgency, against a religious movement.  However, our enemy in North Vietnam was not fighting a war for communism, and in Afghanistan our enemies are not fighting an insurgency. They are fighting a jihad, and no South Asian jihad in history has ever ended in a negotiated settlement. And this one will not either.  There is no overlap between the way insurgencies and charismatic religious movements of this archetype in the Pashtun belt end.  Insurgencies by definition have both political and military arms. Regardless of what they have learned to say, the Taliban does not.  One hundred percent of the  movement's leaders are Muslim clerics. After fighting a second war in Asia the wrong way for almost a decade, the United States is now again desperately seeking a way out of the quagmire from within the wrong set of potential outcomes.

The primary reasons why "peace talks" are delusional are three fold:  First, there is no"Taliban" in the sense the proponents of talks envision it. To believe so is cultural mirroring at its peak.  Second, the enemy is interested in pre-withdrawal concessions, not a settlement, in an alien culture in which seeking negotiations to end a war is surrender. To believe otherwise is simply wishful thinking. And third, no understanding with senior clerics in the Taliban movement has ever out lived the airplane flight back to New York. Like a second marriage, trusting the "Taliban" to keep a bargain is a victory of hope over experience.

First, the best way to understand the "Taliban" is not as a political entity that can carry out negotiations, but as an event in time analogous to the First Crusade.  It is a loose network of military-religious orders which share a common goal, quite similar to the Crusader orders, which  included the Knights Templar, Knights of Malta, and the Knights Hospitaller. The "Taliban" is comprised of similar military-religious orders, including, to name a few, the Haqqani network, the Quetta Shura, the Tora Bora Front, the Tehrik-i-Taliban, the Lashkar-i-Taiba, Hisb-i-Islami Khalis, and Hisb-i-Islami Gulbuddin.  Like the crusaders, who shared a common purpose and owed allegiance to the Pope in Rome, the "Taliban" groups share a common purpose and acknowledge the religious supremacy of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Amir-ul-Mumaneen, or "Leader of the Faithful," in Quetta.  And like the crusader groups, the "Taliban" groups have no real "political wing," because in the jihadist mindset now ascendant in the Pashtun region, Islam and governance are not separate entities. The church and the state cannot be disaggregated in this way.

Just as the Knights of Malta did not agree on policy matters with the Knights Templar, and carried out radically different strategies in the Holy Land, so the various groups of the jihad often fundamentally disagree with one another on how to achieve their common goal of establishing religious rule over disputed territory. Each jihadist group has, just as each crusader group had, its own unique and complex internal dynamics. And, just as the Pope was distant from the Holy Land, Mullah Omar is distant physically and operationally from the central battlefields in Afghanistan. The course of events in Afghanistan, as were those on the ground in Acre, Tyre, or Jerusalem, are decided by local dynamics, events, and power struggles -- not by the Pope, and not by Mullah Omar. Just as the Vatican had no practical control over the behavior of the Knights Templar on the ground in Jerusalem, the Quetta Shura has none over the operational activities of the Haqqani Network, the Tehrik-i-Taliban, or even its own local commanders fighting in Afghanistan. Even if one could find bonafide representatives of the Quetta Shura, and not a conartist Quetta cobbler as was the case last time, the Quetta Shura cannot control events in Afghanistan any more than the Vatican could control events in the Holy Land in the eleventh century.

Second, the motives of any such representatives simply do not now and will never coincide with our own. The Quetta Shura has no genuine interest whatsoever in any "peace talks" or negotiations except to gain concessions such as the release of their comrades in Guantanamo Bay. They have fought for almost 20 years for control of Afghanistan and are now within two years of the withdrawal of foreign troops. As the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) makes unequivocally clear, they have not in anyway changed their intent to retake control of Afghanistan and reestablish their Islamist state. If they had any interest in genuine talks, they would hardly have assassinated Berhanuddin Rabanni, head of the Afghan High Peace Council and the Karzai regime's lead negotiator, last year.

Furthermore, although the Pentagon has added the imaginary golden fabric of "progress" and the imaginary significance of the "attrition of mid-level leadership" to the emperor's new clothes of peace talks in Afghanistan, both of these are simply fictitious. The reality is, despite all the Pentagon smoke and mirrors, the new NIE shows there has been no sustainable progress in Afghanistan, and the enemy still has a virtually unlimited supply of soldiers and leaders. There are hundreds of thousands of recruits waiting to join the cause in Pakistan, every village has a mullah to lead them on the battlefield, and the madrassas of Pakistan produce hundreds of new militant mullahs every year. They have extensive direct and indirect military support from the Pakistani government and army. And just as the Saigon government was in Vietnam in 1970, the Karzai kleptocracy in Kabul is illegitimate, incompetent, and utterly unpopular in Afghanistan today. As the desertion of a third of the tiny Afghan National Army each year proves, almost no one except Americans and Britons are willing to die for it. On a good day, the Afghan National Army has perhaps 100,000 men under arms.  In a sobering comparison, the South Vietnamese army (ARVN) had more than a million men under arms, including a large, modern air force, in a country one quarter the size of Afghanistan, and it collapsed in three weeks of fighting in 1976. The Taliban, who have studied American military history, fully understand this calculus.

Finally, the last nail in the coffin for "peace talks" is simply pragmatic. The Taliban in its original, unsplintered form, was a notoriously unreliable partner in discussions. In seeking to mediate with its elements between 1996 and 2001, foreign groups representing every interest from health care to oil pipelines to preservation of antiquities found that every "understanding" with the Taliban had completely unraveled before the foreign negotiators had even landed back in New York or London. The Taliban of 1996-2001, which was infinitely more centralized and controllable than it is today, never kept a single such agreement for more than a week.

In summary, wishful thinking aside, there is no central, political entity called the "Taliban" with whom to negotiate. The enemy is not interested in "peace talks" when they are convinced they have already won a complete victory against a hated and infidel puppet regime and an American puppeteer they now see as weak. And even if all that were not true, today's disaggregated jihadist groups would not and could not keep any bargain which a few members of one crusader order might make in any case. "Peace talks" and hopes of a negotiated solution in Afghanistan are delusional, and American policy-makers should be devoting their time and efforts to managing the coming civil war in Afghanistan rather than weaving any more new clothes for the emperor. In the next phase ofthe war, which will certainly begin when NATO has removed most of its combat power from the country, the United States will face stark political and military choices in determining the modality and extent of its support to the non-Pashtun ethnic groups who will oppose the Taliban's restoration.

Thomas H.Johnson is a Research Professor in the National Security Affairs Department at the Naval Postgraduate School and the Director of the Program for Culture & Conflict Studies. M. Chris Mason is a retired Foreign Service Officer with long experience in South Asia and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies in Washington, DC.
39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sharif relinquishes control of 8 ministries on: February 05, 2012, 05:00:36 PM
What a generous guy...gave up 8 ministries...


Caving to opposition demands: Shahbaz Sharif relinquishes control of 8 ministries
By Abdul Manan
Published: February 3, 2012

The Punjab chief minister still retains seven portfolios. PHOTO: NNI/FILE
LAHORE: After much criticism from the opposition, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday finally handed over eight ministries to cabinet members, special assistants and advisers.
Shahbaz, who had been holding 15 portfolios, still maintains seven additional departments including health; home; chief minister inspection team; services and general administration; social welfare; special education; and mines and minerals.
According to statistics of the Punjab government, after the 18th Amendment there were 39 portfolios in the Punjab Cabinet which were being catered by only 16 ministers till March 2011. Out of the 16 ministers, nine were held by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and seven by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) ministers — under a 60 to 40 proportion as mentioned in the Charter of Democracy.
Initially, the chief minister tried to run the departments through a task force but after criticism from the opposition and media, he handed over the ministries but did not increase the number of ministers in the Cabinet.
In the last budget, the Punjab chief minister had abolished four departments out of the 39 and emerged them into different departments as part of an austerity drive.
In March 2011, after the removal of PPP’s seven ministers from the Punjab Cabinet, Shahbaz added another three departments to his portfolio, giving him a total of 15 portfolios.
Technically after the 18th Amendment, the chief minister is authorised to appoint five advisers and two special assistants with the seat of senior adviser being abolished from the Constitution.
At present, Shahbaz has a total five advisers including Senior Adviser Zulfiqar Khosa, Jehazaib Khan Burki, Zakia Shahnawaz, Raja Ishfaq Sarwar and Saeed Mehdi. He also has two special assistants Senator Perveiz Rashid and Manshaullah Butt.
Under the law, advisers and special assistants are not part of the Cabinet. Despite the fact that they cannot attend the official Cabinet meetings, Shahbaz has been inviting his advisers to these meetings.
Official in the Cabinet section said that though the advisers had been assigned portfolios, the main power remained with the chief minister himself. “The major decisions will be taken by the CM himself,” sources said.
Shahbaz’s Seven
Eight departments were devolved on Thursday and assigned to the following seven ministers:
Malik Nadeem Kamran has the portfolio of Zakat and Ushr
Provincial Minister for Excise and Taxation Department Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman has the additional charge of Transport, School Education, Literacy and NFBE and Higher Education
Human Rights and Minority Affairs Minister Kamran Michael has the additional portfolio of Women Development and Finance
Planning and Development Minister Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor has the Energy Department
Agriculture Minister Malik Ahmad Ali Aolakh has the Live Stock and Dairy, Forestry Fisheries and Wildlife, Irrigation Department, Communication and Works Department
Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan has the Board of Revenue, Local Government Department
Auqaf and Religious Affairs Minister Haji Ehsanuddin Qureshi has the additional Labour and Human Rights Housing and Urban Development, and Public Health Engineering Department
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2012.
40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / E. Burdon & the Animals: "Oh Lord! Please don't let me be misunderstood!" on: January 28, 2012, 04:45:46 PM
From the web..

Islam most misunderstood ...

1) Moro "Islamic" front misunderstood in Phillipines;
2) Jemehiah "Islamia" misunderstood in Indonesia;
3) Bodo's "Islamic" front misunderstood in Thailand;
4) Party se "Islam" misunderstood in Malaysia;
5) Hizbul Tahrir misunderstood in Australia;
6) Uighur Islamic front misunderstood in China;
6) Lashkar Mohammed misunderstood in India;
7) Taliban misunderstood in Afghanistan;
6) Laskah e Toiba misunderstood in Pakistan;
7) Khomenie and gang misunderstood in Iran;
8 ) Moqtada Al Sadr misunderstood in Iraq;
9) Hezbollah misunderstood in Lebanon;
10)Hamas misunderstood in Jordan;
11) Whole of Saudi and GCC are misunderstood;
12) Nour party and Muslim brotherhood misunderstood in Egypt;
13) NLF in Libya is misunderstood in Libya;
14) Boko Haram is misunderstood in Nigeria;
15) Whole of Sudan is misunderstood;
16) Chechens are misunderstood in Russia;
17) Kosovars are misunderstood in Balkans;
18) Assorted Imams are misunderstood in Europe;
19) Assorted Imams are misunderstood in US; and
20) Not to mention Somalia
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islamists in Pakistan Recruit Entire Families from Europe on: January 28, 2012, 04:36:56 PM
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,650264,00.html

Islamists in Pakistan Recruit Entire Families from Europe

By Yassin Musharbash and Holger Stark

The German government is trying to secure the release of a group of suspected German Islamists who were arrested by Pakistani authorities while making their way to a jihadist colony in the Waziristan region along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Entire families from Germany are moving to the region to join the jihad.

  
The young speaker, who calls himself "Abu Adam," praises the stay in the mountains -- almost as if he were shooting an ad for a family holiday camp. "Doesn't it appeal to you? We warmly invite you to join us!" Abu Adam says, raising his index finger. He lists all the things this earthly paradise has to offer: hospitals, doctors, pharmacies as well as a daycare center and school -- all, of course, "a long way from the front." After all, they don't want the children to be woken up by the roar of guns.

The latest recruitment video from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is a half-hour in length and is addressed to our "beloved" brothers and sisters back in Germany. The video is presented by, among others, Mounir Chouka, alias "Abu Adam," who grew up in the western German city of Bonn.
The video shows shacks erected against a backdrop of lush greenery and craggy rock formations. Women wearing blue burqas are seen surrounded by their children. One small girl is holding an artillery gun.

Welcome to the wild world of Waziristan, the region along the Afghan-Pakistani border controlled by Pashtun tribes, al-Qaida and other splinter groups which has become a regular target of US drones and their remote-controlled missiles.

Islamists Recruiting Entire Families

The ad for Waziristan appears to be finding fertile ground in Germany. Security officials here believe the IMU is currently the largest and most active Islamic group recruiting in the country. But there's an unusual development here, too -- militants don't normally recruit women and children as the IMU appears to be doing. The families move to mujahedeen villages in the rough terrain which are used as bases for supporting the battle against the US troops and the Afghan army.

The German government in Berlin is also examining the propaganda offensive. For several weeks, diplomats in the German Foreign Ministry have been negotiating with Islamabad over the fate of a group of suspected Islamists from Germany's Rhineland region who have been held in custody in Pakistan for several months now. The group includes a young Tunisian and six Germans, including Andreas M. of Bonn, a Muslim convert, and his Eritrean wife Kerya.

A Child in Custody

The case is being viewed with concern by the federal government. The married couple's four-year-old daugher has been held in custody together with her parents since May and has suffered particularly in the tough conditions. Germany's Foreign Ministry has made several attempts to negotiate a swift return to Germany for the mother and her daughter at least, but Pakistani authorities have so far refused.

The travelers, who apparently met each other in a Bonn prayer room, left Germany in several small groups in March and April. They traveled through Turkey to the Iranian city of Zahedan. Located close to the border with Pakistan, Zahedan is notorious for its jihad tourism -- hotels even set aside entire room allotments for radical foreigners making their way to the city.

From Zahedan, most take taxis to Pakistan. For the group of Germans, though, that's where the problems started. After crossing the border, the Germans were captured by police and taken to a jail in Peshawar. The prisoners claim they were handled roughly by Pakistani officials. When German consular officials finally got access to the prisoners, several of the men claimed, in mutually corroborating statements, that they had been beaten.

Initially, the detainees claimed they were from Turkey and had lost their identification papers -- leaving authorities with little information to start with. In August, however, the Pakistani ISI intelligence service got involved in the case, moving the prisoners to Islamabad and confirming to the German government that the detainees were Germans. During the first visit by a consular employee from the German Embassy, two of the group's members, identified as Azzedine A. and Bilal Ü., openly admitted that they had wanted to join "the jihad."

Security officials believe that the goal of Mounir Chouka and the IMU was to strengthen the German "colony" in Waziristan. The detainees also include Chouka's brother-in-law, the German-Libyan Ahmed K.

Release Could Be Imminent

"I hope that Ahmed will come home soon," says Ahmed K.'s father Mohamed.
It appears that hope might soon come true. The Pakistani government has signalled that it might not prosecute the group for entering the country illegally or for supporting a terrorist organization and instead put the Germans on a plane back to Frankfurt.

But one of the travelers won't be part of the group if that happens: Atnan J., a Tunisian from the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. In a development similar to that of Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen raised in Germany who was wrongly imprisoned by the United States at Guantanamo, the German Interior Ministry wants to prevent Atnan J. from returning to Germany because his residence permit has expired. Officials in Berlin have asked Islamabad to deport the man to Tunisia.
42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Carve out Balochistan from Pakistan on: January 28, 2012, 04:28:36 PM
Pl. listen to video in the link.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/25/louie-gohmert-afghan-strategy-balochistan-pakistan-taliban_n_1232250.html

Louie Gohmert Afghan Strategy: Carve Out Balochistan From Ally Pakistan To Beat Taliban



WASHINGTON -- President Obama is losing the war in Afghanistan to the Taliban, argued Rep. Louie Gohmert after listening to Tuesday's State of the Union address. So he proposed one way to win: create a new, friendly state within the borders of neighboring Pakistan.

The Texas Republican took issue with Obama's assertion that "the Taliban's momentum has been broken." He said he had just visited Afghanistan and came away with a very different sense from talking to members of the Northern Alliance, a multiethnic confederation of warlords and other forces who led the U.S.-backed ouster of the Taliban in 2001.

Gohmert argued that, far from being broken, the Taliban are feeling powerful enough to demand that members of the Northern Alliance apologize before the United States leaves in 2013. "If you look at the objective facts ... they're not on the run," Gohmert said.

His solution was first to supply more arms to the Northern Alliance. But then, he said, the Afghan border with Pakistan needs to be shored up.

"Let's talk about creating a Balochistan in the southern part of Pakistan," Gohmert told The Huffington Post, referring to a region of Pakistan that constitutes nearly half that vital if troublesome ally.

"They love us. They'll stop the IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and all the weaponry coming into Afghanistan, and we got a shot to win over there," said Gohmert, who accused Obama's national security advisers of giving the president bad intel on Afghanistan.

"His strategy of working from ignorance and thinking we have them on the run is no way to go through life, son," Gohmert said. "I'm about to borrow from an 'Animal House' line, but anyway, that's no way to go through life when you're that ignorant of what's really going on."


The White House did not answer a request for comment, and Gohmert's office did not elaborate on how the United States could even discuss carving off Balochistan from a country that is both an ally and a nuclear power.

The United States recently has been talking about a truce with the Taliban. Gohmert, a member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, characterized such efforts as begging, backed by an offer to "let all these Taliban murderers" go free.
43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hindustan Times: A Fractured Policy on: January 23, 2012, 05:19:08 PM
http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/ColumnsOthers/A-fractured-policy/Article1-800719.aspx

A fractured policy
Brahma Chellaney, Hindustan Times
January 22, 2012


With the stage set for secret US-Taliban talks in Qatar, the White House strategy for a phased exit from war-ravaged Afghanistan is now couched in nice-sounding terms like 'reconciliation' and 'transition to 2014'. These terms hide more than they reveal. In seeking a Faustian bargain with the
medieval Taliban, President Barack Obama risks repeating the very mistakes of US policy that have come to haunt regional and international security.
Since coming to office, Obama has pursued an Afghan War strategy summed up in just four words: surge, bribe and run. The military mission has now entered the 'run' part, or what euphemistically is being called the 'transition to 2014'.

The central objective at present is to cut a deal with the Taliban so that the US and its Nato partners exit the "Graveyard of Empires" without losing face. This deal-making is being dressed up as 'reconciliation', with Qatar, Germany and Britain getting lead roles to help facilitate a settlement with the Taliban.

Yet what stands out is how little the US has learned from past mistakes. In some critical respects, it is actually beginning to repeat the past mistakes, whether by creating or funding new local militias in Afghanistan or striving to cut a deal with the Taliban. As in the covert war it waged against the nearly nine-year Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, so too in the current overt war, US policy has been driven by short-term interests.

 To be sure, any president must work to extricate his country from a protracted war. Obama thus is right to seek an end to the war. He, however, blundered by laying out his cards in public and emboldening the enemy.

Within weeks of assuming office, Obama publicly declared his intent to exit Afghanistan, before he even asked his team to work out a strategy. A troop surge that lasted up to 2010 was designed not to militarily rout the Taliban but to strike a political deal with the enemy from a position of strength. Yet even before the surge began, its purpose was undercut by the exit plan. This was followed by a publicly unveiled troop drawdown, stretching from 2011 to 2014.

A withdrawing power that first announces a phased exit and then pursues deal-making with the enemy undermines its regional leverage. It speaks for itself that the sharp deterioration in US ties with the Pakistani military has occurred after the drawdown timetable was unveiled. The phased exit has encouraged the Pakistani generals to step up support to the Taliban. Worse, there is still no clear US strategy on how to ensure that the endgame does not undermine the interests of the free world or further destabilise the region.

US envoy Marc Grossman, who visited New Delhi last Friday for consultations, has already held a series of secret meetings with the Taliban over more than a year. Qatar has been chosen as the seat of fresh US-Taliban negotiations so as to keep the still-sceptical Afghan government at arm's length (despite the pretence of 'Afghan-led' talks) and to insulate the Taliban negotiators from Pakistani and Saudi pressures. Meanwhile, even as a civil-military showdown in Pakistan compounds Washington's regional challenges, the new US containment push and energy sanctions against Iran threaten to inject greater turbulence into Afghanistan.

In truth, US policy is coming full circle again on the ISI-fathered Taliban, in whose birth the CIA had played midwife. The US acquiesced in the Taliban's ascension to power in 1996 and turned a blind eye as that thuggish militia, in league with the ISI, fostered narco-terrorism and swelled the ranks of the Afghan war alumni waging transnational terrorism. With 9/11, however, the chickens came home to roost. In declaring war on the Taliban, US policy came full circle.

Now, US policy, with its frantic search for a deal with the Taliban, is coming another full circle. The Qatar-based negotiations indeed highlight why the US political leadership has deliberately refrained from decapitating the Taliban. The US military has had ample opportunities (and still has) to eliminate the Taliban's Rahbari Shura, or leadership council, often called the Quetta Shura because it escaped to the Pakistani city.

Yet, tellingly, the US has not carried out a single drone, air or ground strike in or around Quetta. All the US strikes have occurred farther north in Pakistan's tribal Waziristan region, although the leadership of the Afghan Taliban or its allied groups like the Haqqani network and the Hekmatyar band is not holed up there.

When history is written, the legacy of the Nato war in Afghanistan will mirror the legacy of the US occupation of Iraq - to leave an ethnically fractured nation. Just as Iraq today stands ethnically partitioned in a de facto sense, it will be difficult to establish a government in Kabul post-2014 whose writ runs across Afghanistan. And just as the 1973 US-North Vietnam agreements were negotiated by shutting out the Saigon regime - in consequence of which South Vietnam unintentionally disappeared - the US today is keeping the Afghan government out of the talks' loop even as it compels President Hamid Karzai to lend support and seems ready to meet a Taliban demand to transfer five incarcerated Taliban leaders out of Guantanamo Bay.

Afghanistan, however, is not Vietnam. An end to Nato combat operations will not mean the end of the war, because the enemy will target Western interests wherever they may be. The fond US hope to regionally contain terrorism promises to keep the Af-Pak belt as a festering threat to regional and global security. This is a chilling message for the country that has borne the brunt of the rise of international terrorism - India.

Brahma Chellaney is Professor of Strategic Studies at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research. The views expressed by the author are personal.
44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 21, 2012, 02:31:14 PM
Mansoor Izaz, the guy who caused memogate in Pak is on the video, may have some nudity.

45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 16, 2012, 10:27:57 PM
Cowboys and Indians, paki style


The country is paying a price for their tactical brilliance in encouraging terror, it will take atleast 2 generations to forget these games...
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 11, 2012, 07:19:37 PM
Things are heating up in pak...Allah-O-Akbar

Coup fears resurfaces in Pakistan as Gilani-Kayani spat turns ugly
TNN | Jan 12, 2012, 01.50AM IST



Tensions between the Pakistan civilian government and the military have risen since a memo seeking US help to prevent a military coup in May and rein in the country’s powerful khaki establishment came to light in November 2011.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army on Wednesday warned of "grievous consequences" over accusations by the country's prime minister that the top military brass had violated the constitution.

Yousaf Raza Gilani also sacked the defence secretary, considered close to the military, in an apparent tit-for-tat move that worsened ties between the wobbly civilian government of Asif Ali Zardari and the powerful military that has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its existence.

Tensions have risen since a memo seeking US help to prevent a military coup in May and rein in the country's powerful khaki establishment came to light in November. Pak-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz had claimed to have delivered the memo to the Americans that former envoy to US Husain Haqqani had allegedly authored at Zardari's behest. Zardari can face impeachment if his links to the memo are established.


Shortly before news that defense secretary Naeem Khalid Lodhi had been sacked, the military released a statement saying allegations leveled against the army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and director-general Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Ahmed Shuja Pasha were very serious and will have grave consequences.

"There can be no allegation more serious than what the PM has leveled against the chief of army staff and the DG ISI and has unfortunately charged the officers for violation of the constitution of the country. This has very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country," a statement released by the military said.

The handout stated that PM Yousaf Raza Gilani gave an interview to the People's Daily Online when Kayani was on an official visit to China. Gilani had said that replies of Kayani and Pasha in the SC without the prior approval of the government in connection to the alleged memo controversy were unconstitutional and illegal.

The army has confronted the government over the memo in the SC that has constituted a three-member commission to probe the scandal that threatens to implicate Zardari. The government had asked the court to dismiss a plea seeking a judicial probe into the memo, while Kayani and Pasha in their statements took the opposite position, saying the memo was a conspiracy against the army.

The statement, issued after Kayani returned from China, maintained it had passed its response through the defence ministry to the court in accordance with the law.

Naeem Khalid Lodhi, a retired general seen as an army representative within the civilian setup, was dismissed for the "misunderstanding" between Gilani and the top brass. "PM has terminated the contract of defence secretary for gross misconduct," said an official. Lodhi was fired for his role in submitting the statements to the court.

Lodhi was regarded to be more powerful than the defence minister because of his direct ties to the army high command. Nargis Sethi, considered close to Gilani, would replace Lodhi. The PM needs the defence secretary on his side if he sacks the army or intelligence chiefs.

Analysts said the removal of Lodhi and Sethi's appointment shows the government is not in a defensive mode. "Firing Lodhi may be a first step by the government in removing the chief of army staff and the DG ISI," political analyst Ikram Sehgal said.
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 10, 2012, 08:56:46 PM
MIRANSHAH: After a lull of about 55 days, the valleys of Pakistan’s tribal region reverberated once more with missile fire from stealthy US air borne drones.
http://tribune.com.pk/story/319683/us-drone-attack-kills-four-militants-in-pakistan-officials/

Looks like we are back in business... grin
48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Can Russia help us withdraw from Afpakia? on: January 01, 2012, 08:03:07 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/02/opinion/can-russia-help-us-withdraw-from-afghanistan.html?_r=2
OP-ED CONTRIBUTORS
Can Russia Help Us Withdraw From Afghanistan?

Yarek Waszul
By DOV S. ZAKHEIM and PAUL J. SAUNDERS
Published: December 1, 2011

AMERICA’S relations with Pakistan have been steadily deteriorating ever since a Navy Seals team killed Osama bin Laden near Islamabad in May. Matters became still worse in September, when Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused Pakistan’s intelligence agency of supporting an attack on the American Embassy in Kabul. And on Saturday, the relationship hit a new low when a NATO airstrike mistakenly killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers, and Pakistan retaliated by shutting down supply routes to Afghanistan that crossed its territory.

Instead of relying heavily on Pakistan as a supply corridor, the United States should expand its cooperation with Russia, which has been playing an increasingly important role in military transit to and from Afghanistan. This would serve as both a hedge and a warning to the generals who control Pakistan.

True, this proposal might seem ironic, as Afghanistan was the site of a nearly decade-long struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union toward the end of the cold war. (During that time, America cooperated with Pakistan to support Afghan mujahedeen fighting the Soviets.) But working with Russia today is in fact the key to preventing the United States from becoming a hostage to Pakistan’s dysfunctional politics and its ambitions in Central Asia.

Expanding transit routes into and out of Afghanistan is a critical American national interest, and it would improve security for NATO forces while signaling that Washington was not beholden to Islamabad. It might also cause Pakistan to reassess its policy of providing sanctuary and support to terrorist networks operating against American forces.  

In the last two years, the Northern Distribution Network through Russia and Central Asia has evolved from a peripheral component of American wartime logistics to the principal path for non-combat supplies into Afghanistan. These routes — which traverse Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Azerbaijan and Georgia — carry approximately 52 percent of all coalition cargo into Afghanistan. And under a 2009 air transit deal with Russia, 225,000 Americans have traveled there through Russian airspace on more than 1,500 military flights.

These northern routes are far less dangerous than the supply routes that go through Pakistan, where militants often attack American and NATO convoys. As the Obama administration’s surge in Afghanistan draws to a close and we begin to reduce our military presence there, these routes will become even more significant. Indeed, the United States might be able to draw down its forces from Afghanistan safely, rather than subjecting American convoys to attacks while passing through Pakistan.

Negotiations to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan through Russia will not be easy; thus far, Moscow has allowed only the shipment of non-combat supplies. Nevertheless, Russia agreed earlier this year to let certain types of armored vehicles cross its territory into Afghanistan, and Washington should pursue further cooperation.

Facilitating the American drawdown from Afghanistan would allow Russian leaders to make an important contribution to regional security; successful American-Russian cooperation, with help from other countries along the northern routes, could also help maintain regional stability.

Russia remains deeply conflicted about America’s wider role in Central Asia.  However, the prospect of an American withdrawal has helped a number of Russian officials appreciate the security benefits of the American presence there. Indeed, during a Nov. 11 meeting outside Moscow, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia stated clearly that NATO played a “positive” role in Afghanistan and expressed concern about the consequences of a premature withdrawal.

Many Americans forget that Mr. Putin was the first world leader to call President George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks to offer his assistance, and Moscow quickly agreed to permit American bases in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia to support the war effort in Afghanistan. And even before 9/11, during the Clinton administration, Mr. Putin proposed United States-Russian cooperation against the Taliban; Washington turned down the offer for political reasons — a mistake we should not repeat.

Critics may worry that relying on the northern routes to supply our troops in Afghanistan and withdraw them as we reduce our presence there will make the United States overly dependent on Russia. But because of Afghanistan’s location, we have no choice but to depend on others for access to its territory.

The choice is between Pakistan on one hand, and Russia and Central Asian nations on the other. And Russia, unlike Pakistan, has not hosted militants who are killing Americans on the battlefield.

Dov S. Zakheim, an under secretary of defense from 2001 to 2004, is vice chairman of the Center for the National Interest, where Paul J. Saunders is executive director.
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 31, 2011, 06:44:56 AM
As discussed earlier, some in Pak have described the US behaviour towards them, as analogous to that of a used condom. Its a transactional relationship, there is no love lost between them. The US has decided to withdraw/reduce activities in Afghanistan, which means Pak is losing leverage. pak had the most leverage when US troops needed to be supported in Afghanistan which has been reduced due to the availability of alternate supply routes, Another area of paki leverage was in negotiations with taliban and haqqani group. The US seems to not care too much about negotiations these days, infact we just seem to want out. Karzai too has not been greatly supportive of the US. All of this is happening because the end game is near, and the players are jockeying politically to position themselves in a post US world (after the withdrawl).

Kiyani and his army has suffered tremendous loss of H&D in the last year (raymond davis affair, PNS Mehran base, OBL, killing of 24 pak soldiers etc). Each of these incidents resulted in tremendous damage to paki H&D, cumulatively this loss of H&D is quite serious and dont know if western commentators fully appreciate the significance or seriousness of this loss of face that the paki army has suffered. Kiyani needs to recoup, and the only way he can do so is by being tough on the US. So as the US ready's to withdraw, he has asked the US to withdraw from Shamsi base, shut down the border crossing of US goods, no more help in negotiating with the taliban etc. All of these actions help him pacify the rank and file of the army, who are greatly disturbed by all that has happened. This is one part of the story.

In reality, pak needs US money and they are not about to give that up. So based on Paki 101, they will next hold a gun to their head, and claim to blow themselves up if money is not provided (they can always threaten islamist radical take over, lose a few nukes etc). In a light hearted manner, the concept is illustrated below.

50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 31, 2011, 06:15:45 AM
I think this image shows a Freudian slip of sorts...Gilani offering to shake Kiyani's hand (thinking Kiyani may not salute him)...and perhaps Kiyani thought that Gilani would not extend his hand, so he salutes  grin
Overall, it captures the state of relations between Pak leadership and army.

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