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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Today's attacks in Paris on: November 14, 2015, 04:12:14 PM
Am reading one of the terrorists was a syrian refugee...
How many more coming to the US and how many are already in Europe. Remember there is never only one cockroach...
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 19, 2015, 09:06:20 PM
One should probably not apply the lessons from Iraq/Libya to Afgh. After Saddam or Gaddafi, we left a power vacuum in governance, in Afghanistan there is unlikely to be any significant power vacuum. The Taliban and the Northern Alliance will remain, interference from Pak will continue with or without the US. Similarly ISIS is making inroads, with/without the USA.

3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 18, 2015, 06:06:42 PM

The Definition of Insanity Is U.S. AfPak Strategy

The central problem confronting the United States in the region is no longer al Qaeda or the Taliban. It’s the Pakistan Army.
By Dhruva Jaishankar
October 16, 2015

The Definition of Insanity Is U.S. AfPak Strategy  

Donald Trump is right: America’s leaders are stupid. They’re nothing but a bunch of losers. Well, at least when it comes to Afghanistan and Pakistan. That’s the only conclusion to be reached following two big developments this week.

The first was President Barack Obama’s announcement that the United States will decelerate its military drawdown from Afghanistan. Instead of preserving only a small force of about 1,000 troops, the new plan will station 9,800 in the country until 2016 and 5,500 into 2017. Their mission will be limited to training Afghan forces and supporting counterterrorism operations. This will help promote, in Obama’s words, an “Afghan-led reconciliation process” leading to a “lasting political settlement” that will make Kabul “a stable and committed ally.”

If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. The new policy is at best a band-aid and — given the likely cost in blood and treasure — not a pain-free one. David Galula, the French military scholar who is the ideological godfather of the U.S. counterinsurgency, understood years ago that support from a neighboring country could easily sustain an insurgency. The U.S. mission in Afghanistan cannot succeed as long as the Pakistan Army continues to tolerate and sponsor the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, and other terrorist groups. The U.S. intelligence community has been saying precisely that for years.

At one level, Obama appreciates the problem. “Sanctuaries for the Taliban and other terrorists must end,” he said on Oct. 15, adding that he would discuss the matter with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when he visits Washington next week. The White House and the U.S. foreign-policy establishment still believe that Islamabad just needs to be convincingly persuaded about the merits of cracking down on terrorist organizations.

But let’s cut the crap. The central problem confronting the United States in the region is no longer al Qaeda or the Taliban. It’s the Pakistan Army, which has always pursued its own objectives over those of the country it is meant to defend. The Army has a 40-year history of supporting terrorists against Afghanistan, India, and (more recently) Americans. Even in the absence of a smoking gun, there is little doubt that the Army and its intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, sheltered Osama bin Laden and protected Taliban leader Mullah Omar. This policy of supporting terrorism has been driven by a warped ideology, political imperatives, and corporate interests. The Army has long used Islamism and imagined foreign threats to consolidate its political primacy and shore up its commercial interests, which range from cement to telecommunications.

Sharif offers little help. Anti-government protests engineered by the Army in 2014 forced him to relinquish foreign and security policy to the military, in what many Pakistani commentators described as a “soft coup.” Today, few seriously believe that the prime minister calls the shots in Islamabad.

Why does the United States shy away from confronting Pakistan about its continued export of terrorism? The simple answer is nukes.
Why does the United States shy away from confronting Pakistan about its continued export of terrorism? The simple answer is nukes. Pakistan has been steadily increasing fissile material for its nuclear stockpile and now produces enough for between 16 and 20 warheads per year. Its justification was initially New Delhi’s nuclear program, except that India produces material for only around 5 warheads per year. India has a stockpile of an estimated 90 to 110 warheads in reserve; Pakistan is thought to have between 110 and 130 (though some experts believe it’s possible “to calculate a number twice this size”). But it’s not an arms race if only one party is racing.

Since seeking nuclear parity with India now has little credibility as an excuse, Pakistan has resorted to several flimsy reasons to justify its nuclear expansion. The one that gained the most traction blames an Indian Army doctrine, Cold Start, which would have involved punitive incursions into Pakistan following a terrorist attack. The Indian Army certainly considered Cold Start in 2004 — but the Indian military or government never formally adopted it. Pakistani strategists, many with ties to the military, have also blamed India’s defense spending, military modernization, and even its purportedly belligerent rhetoric as reasons for Islamabad to rely on nuclear weapons to compensate for the growing disparity between the two countries. These have never been more than convenient pretexts for a Pakistani nuclear arms buildup.

The real reason for Pakistan’s nuclear expansion isn’t India — it’s for blackmailing the United States. So fearful has Washington been of Pakistan’s nukes being sold, stolen, lost, sabotaged, or accidentally used that during George W. Bush’s administration, it reportedly spent as much as $100 million trying to secure the arsenal. Since 2001, the Pakistan Army has also received more than $20 billion in military support from the United States, even as it has continued to support groups like the Haqqani network that have killed hundreds of Americans. This is the greatest shakedown in history.

What makes this ploy all the more brilliant is that the blackmail victim doesn’t even realize it. Take the second major AfPak development of the week. According to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius and the New York Times’s David Sanger, the White House is considering relaxing controls on Pakistan’s access to civilian nuclear technology, equipment, and fuel in exchange for promises that it will limit its nuclear weapons program. (The White House has publicly downplayed the possibility of a deal.) As Ignatius hints, such an agreement is closely linked to Pakistani cooperation on Afghanistan, possibly a sweetener for Pakistan to bring the Taliban back to the negotiating table.

But even dangling the offer of “nuclear mainstreaming” — as advocates of the policy have described it — is an awful idea. Its the Iran deal part IIForget for a moment that Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism or that such a deal risks incentivizing bad behavior. The deal also continues the long track record of the United States raising Pakistani expectations and then not delivering, a history of disappointment that has long fanned anti-Americanism in the country. A nuclear agreement of this kind will face resistance from within the U.S. government, not to mention Congress, given Pakistan’s history of duplicitous nuclear proliferation. Even then, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the powerful 48-nation international nuclear cartel of which the United States is a member, will almost certainly veto it.

Furthermore, there is no guarantee that Islamabad will keep its end of the bargain. Washington would be helping Pakistan in the near term in exchange for a long-term commitment to limit its nuclear program, a promise that Islamabad has shown no prior interest in keeping. Ultimately, energy-starved Pakistan has far more to lose from its continued nuclear isolation than the international community has to gain from such a deal. The onus therefore is on Pakistan to show its bona fides — come clean about its past proliferation activities, stop supporting terrorism as a state policy, and adopt a stabilizing nuclear posture — before nuclear mainstreaming can even be considered. Finally, if such an agreement were to be realized, it would rock U.S. relations with India, which — despite a far better proliferation track record — had to jump through a number of legal, procedural, and political hoops between 2005 and 2008 to be allowed to import civilian nuclear technology, fuel, and equipment. The immense goodwill for the United States in India that was generated by that deal would be lost overnight.

The proposed agreement to mainstream Pakistan’s nuclear program and the failure to address the Pakistan factor in Afghanistan are, in Trump’s parlance, just dumb, dumb, dumb. The White House seems completely removed from South Asia’s political and security realities. It’s quaint, almost funny, that U.S. officials and experts still worry about a “rogue commander” with “radical sympathies” seizing control of a Pakistani nuclear bomb. The Pakistan Army radicalized and went rogue many years ago.
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 17, 2015, 09:17:21 PM
I wonder what the group thinks, should we keep back a significant force in Afg ?. Perhaps I hold the minority opinion, I think we should withdraw completely. My reasoning is as follows.
1. The US cannot keep a force there indefinitely, at some point we have to withdraw. Afg managed quite well without US forces in the past and will survive in the future too. Do we have any clear objectives that need to be met before we withdraw ?.
2. Its not clear to me, what our mission might be. At present even though we may control Kabul and a few big cities, the Talibs control much of the countryside. So apart from possibly providing law and order in Kabul, its not clear what else we are doing.
3. Training the Afg military seems silly to me. The indigenous Taliban do quite well without any US military training, who BTW we are unable to beat with all our superior training and weapons. Similarly, training the Afg military is not much use, unless we plan to give them advanced weapons or technology. The Afg rag tag army is no worse than the Taliban. The wars in that part of the world are fought with simple weapons and grit.
4. The only one who benefits from US presence are the Pakistanis, who extort protection money.
5. If the US withdraws, and another attack on the homeland is traced back to Afg, that would be the time to consider all options again.
6. The fear that the US vacuum will be filled by undesirable characters is to me a bogus. There are already undesirable characters in Afg/Pak, whom we don't control. Let them fight it out. Our current presence is not likely to prevent any undesirables from getting a foothold. ISIS is already making inroads and the Taliban are fighting them. So unless we plan to align with the talibs, we should get out.

5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 29, 2015, 12:22:07 PM
Here's real life kiddy play in pak

Fake guns, real terrorism

Syed Muaz Shah — Updated about 3 hours ago
These real-looking guns in the hands of our children must not being taken lightly. —AP

This last Eid, as I was walking through the dusty old alleys of Nazimabad 5-C – paying visits to age-old community members and families from the time of my grandfather’s era – I couldn’t help but notice one striking change in these slow-paced streets. It wasn’t the droning of generators in the occasional house or the new trend of lego-block flats towering over smaller housing plots.

It was a “click”; an insistent sound coupled with the voice of children.

Every corner I turned, I heard it one after the other – this clicking sound was occasionally followed by the complaint of a kid who had been 'hit'. In the short walks on these streets, I noticed more replica guns than I had seen in real, just about everywhere.

I could swear I saw every next kid on that street with a “charray” (pellet) pistol in his hand, firing away – click! click! click! As I dodged the occasional misfire, I was struck by this show of blatant disregard for life – a lack of compassion and empathy passed on from parent, teacher, society to child.

We, ourselves, are encouraging a gun culture around us. And yet, we complain about it with a staggering hypocrisy.

I cannot recall seeing such sophisticated toy guns before. It was one thing to play ‘cowboys and Indians’ with rainbow-coloured plastic toys or pump-action water guns. But these real-looking military-like guns in the hands of our children must not be taken lightly.

Earlier this year, two young boys were shot at (one of whom died) while taking a selfie with a toy gun by a trigger-happy police in Punjab. The bitter irony of this tragic incident epitomised a sickness that the closeness to guns can bring on a society.

The boys were fond of replica guns, the police mistook them for real ones and shot them (a reaction which may be unjustified even if the guns were real), in the process exposing their own tendency of firearm abuse.

What a cruel joke.

Another occasion our doomed proximity with weapons manifested itself in, was the move to allow teachers in K-P to carry firearms. It ultimately resulted in what many of us feared from the beginning: the accidental death of a schoolchild in Swat.

That is why I welcomed the resolution tabled in Sindh Assembly earlier this month, which sought to enforce a ban on toy guns. Lawmakers and civil society members have implemented or are seeking similar bans in Punjab and K-P.

One might chide these moves as irrelevant and useless to our very real terrorism problems, wrought with real guns. But, the fact is, we have now seen target killers emerge from even the more educated and affluent sections of our society, and that the 'real terrorism' is happening in the same streets that our kids play in.

The lines are further blurred thanks to the dark times we live in; when even the 'good side' is not seen without a huge cache of weapons of their own. That makes it all the more important to teach our kids that guns exist only as a necessary evil and are not a normal way of life. The culture of violence and aggression should not be glorified.

Otherwise, we are essentially desensitising the concept of death by firearm – making our children’s minds numb to the loss of life in a very subtle way.

Let us not be passive about this matter. Our kids should have a childhood that is violence-free – even in their make-believe worlds – so that they are allowed to grow up into peace-loving adults.

6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 27, 2015, 09:49:20 PM
Nursery class in Pak. In a way this is not a joke..they learn things like A for AK-47, B for bomb etc...stuff they identify with!

7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ISIS makes noise about buying nukes from Pakistan on: May 23, 2015, 09:19:41 AM
While this is only wishful thinking at present....YA

ISIS claims it could buy its first nuclear weapon from Pakistan within 12 months

Heather Saul,The Independent | May 23, 2015, 01.08 PM IST

The finances of the ISIS have been estimated by some to be in the $2billion area, though it is impossible to verify how much money it actually has access to.

LONDON: ISIS has used the latest issue of its propaganda magazine Dabiq to suggest the group is expanding so rapidly it could buy its first nuclear weapon within a year.

The hyperbolic article, which the group attributes to the British hostage John Cantlie, claims ISIS has transcended its roots as "the most explosive Islamic 'group' in the modern world" to evolve into "the most explosive Islamic movement the modern world has ever seen" in less than twelve months.
Photojournalist Cantlie is regularly used in the terror group's propaganda and has appeared in a number of videos, including a YouTube series called "Lend Me Your Ears". He has been held a hostage by ISIS for more than two years.

 The piece, entitled "The Perfect Storm", describes militant Islamist groups such as Boko Haram, which recently pledged allegiance to ISIS, uniting across the Middle East, Africa and Asia to create one global movement.

 The article claims this alignment of groups has happened at the same time as ISIS militants have seized "tanks, rocket launchers, missile systems, anti-aircraft systems," from the US and Iran before turning to the subject of more extreme weapons the group is not in possession of — such as nuclear weapons.

 "Let me throw a hypothetical operation onto the table," the article continues. "The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wilayah in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region."

 It admits that such a scenario is "far-fetched" but warns: "It's the sum of all fears for Western intelligence agencies and it's infinitely more possible today than it was just one year ago.

 "And if not a nuke, what about a few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive? That's easy enough to make."

 An attack launched by ISIS against America would ridicule "the attacks of the past".

 "They'll [ISIS] be looking to do something big, something that would make any past operation look like a squirrel shoot, and the more groups that pledge allegiance the more possible it becomes to pull off something truly epic.

 "Remember, all of this has happened in less than a year. How more dangerous will be the lines of communication and supply a year on from today?"

 The capacity of ISIS to acquire such a device is certainly beyond the group at the moment.

 But ISIS is indeed a well funded group having secured a number of oilfields in Syria and Iraq. The group also sells artefacts looted from historic areas seized during its insurgency, sometimes for six figure sums, as well as imposing taxes on civilians trapped in its self-declared caliphate and other methods of extortion.

 The finances of the group have been estimated by some to be in the $2billion area, though it is impossible to verify how much money it actually has access to.

 The threats come against a mixed backdrop of successes and losses in both countries; the group has been driven out of Tikrit in Iraq but has overrun Ramaldi and the Syrian ancient city of Palmyra.

 A recent call to arms from its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi also appeared to suggest it may be overstretched in some areas, with his speech urging supporters from across the world to travel to its territories in the Middle East.

 In September last year, the home secretary, Theresa May, warned that the militant group could become the world's first "truly terrorist state".

 "We will see the risk, often prophesied but thank God not yet fulfilled, that with the capability of a state behind them, the terrorists will acquire chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons to attack us," she said.
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: April 20, 2015, 09:16:04 PM
Hussein Haqqani the author of the above piece is one of the few sane pakis (I know its an oxymoron).  He would not last a day, if he went back to Pak.
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: April 12, 2015, 09:24:19 PM

Saudis want Pak participation in Yemen war.....chickens come home to roost.
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: April 09, 2015, 11:17:04 PM
If you think the police are heavily militarized in the US, the pakis claim that strafing their populace in the frontier regions with F-16's is not very effective and they need helicopters and missiles. However, the beggars cant afford anything, one way or the other its US aid being recycled back to US arms merchants.
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: April 05, 2015, 03:19:23 PM
Daesh is way too cool for the jihadis!...YA

Afghan Taliban release Mullah Omar biography amid growing frustration within ranks

By Tahir Khan

Published: April 5, 2015

The Afghan Taliban released on Sunday a biography of their reclusive leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

In hiding for 13 years, the Afghan Taliban supremo disappeared after US airstrikes dislodged the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001.

The biography comes amid rising speculation over the elusive leader’s whereabouts and whether he is still alive and able to lead the militant group. Further, there have been reports of  growing frustration within Taliban ranks over the lack of leadership by Omar, particularly in light of Islamic State’s growing popularity.

The Afghan Taliban chief who has not been seen in public for more than a decade was last heard in 2007 – eight years ago.

However, if there were any doubts regarding his role in the Afghan Taliban, the biography cleared them.

“Mullah Mohammad Omar (Mujahid) is still the leader in the present hierarchy of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the biography asserts.

“His deputy, the leading council, judiciary, nine executive commissions and three other administration organs are active under his leadership which form the warp and woof of the present setup of the Islamic Emirate,” it added.

The Afghan Taliban chief’s biography was released on April 4, 2015 — the 19th anniversary of the organisation’s rule. Around 1,500 Taliban scholars who declared Mullah Omar as “Amir-ul-Momineen” (Leader of pious people) were present at the gathering.

“Under present conditions of regularly being chased by the enemy, no major change and disruption has been observed in the routine works of Mullah Mohammad Omar (Mujahid) in following and organising the Jihadi activities as the leader of the Islamic Emirate,” the biography said.

The biography which was issued in English, Urdu, Pashto and Dari further claimed, “He (Omar) keenly follows and inspects the Jihadi activities against the infidel and brutal foreign invaders.”

“In organising and reshuffling the Jihadi and military issues, he delivers his orders in a specific way to Jihadi commanders.”

Further elaborating on how the elusive leader runs the organisation, the biography added, “He regularly follows Jihadi publications and other international media resources to judge his victories and likewise other issues against the foreign invaders. In this way, he remains in touch with the day to day happenings of his country as well as the outside world. These activities form his basic daily life in the present circumstances.”

Mullah Omar’s whereabouts are unknown though Afghan intelligence officials have on a number of occasions claimed Omar is hiding in Karachi. Meanwhile, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has long claimed the Taliban supremo has been hiding in Quetta. However, the claim has been denied by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Afghan Taliban officials.

Though, the Taliban initially routinely issued Omar’s traditional “Eid” messages, his voice was last heard eight years ago.

His last audio message in 2007 addressed his commanders, ordering them to expel Taliban commander Mansoor Dadullah for killing Taliban men on suspicion of them spying on his brother Mullah Dadullah.

The feared commander Mullah Dadullah was killed by foreign and Afghan forces in southern Afghanistan in 2007.

Earlier it was reported that a growing number of militant commanders in Afghanistan and Pakistan were beginning to look towards Islamic State (IS) for inspiration, frustrated by Mullah Omar’s lack of leadership.

In Afghanistan, one militant commander said many have turned to IS. “Look, we have been fighting for years but we don’t have an inch of land in our possession in Afghanistan,” said the senior commander, who spoke from the province of Kunar.

“We have serious doubts about whether he (Omar) is alive at all … Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is visible and is leading his people,” the commander said, referring to the IS leader.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) which considered Mullah Omar as their “Ameer” switched loyalties to the Islamic State of Dai’sh a few days ago. The leader of the group in a video said Mullah Omar has not been seen in years and that it is declaring allegiance to Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi.

12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Good video on Afg-Pak relations on: March 22, 2015, 10:37:21 AM

This 5 min video, provides worthwhile clarity on Af-Pak relations
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: March 14, 2015, 09:26:37 PM
Where is Putin ?Interesting rumor
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: March 14, 2015, 09:33:47 AM
This has been known on many pak discussion forums for years,,,

Saudi Arabia prepares for Iran nuclear deal
Saudi Arabia is quietly preparing for an international nuclear agreement with Iran that it fears will rehabilitate its Shiite Persian rival. King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud's approach eschews the public spectacle of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress (indeed, the Saudis don't want any association with Israel) and instead focuses on regional alliances to contain an emergent Iran.

Author Bruce RiedelPosted March 8, 2015

The Saudis publicly welcomed US Secretary of State John Kerry's assurances in Riyadh last week that Washington will not accept a bad nuclear deal with Iran, and that a deal will not inaugurate a grand rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. They remain deeply skeptical about the negotiations, however, and are preparing for any outcome in the P5+1 process.

The Saudis recognize that a successful deal between Iran, the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany will enjoy broad international backing and United Nations endorsement. Riyadh has no interest in being isolated in a dissenting minority with Netanyahu against a deal backed by a global majority. The royal family despises Israel, and Netanyahu is regarded as a war criminal by most Saudis. Any hint of mutual interest with Israel is unpalatable in the kingdom.

So the Saudi approach is to strengthen its regional alliances for long-term confrontation with Tehran. Most immediately, this means strengthening the unity of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It has strong allies in Abu Dhabi and Manama. In Riyadh's eyes, there are two weak links in GCC collusion against Iran: Oman and Qatar. Neither is likely to give up their bilateral lucrative ties to Iran, but Salman is pressing both to adhere to GCC unity and not facilitate Iranian subversion.

Yemen is the key GCC battlefield. The victory of the Iranian-backed Zaydi Shiite Houthis in seizing control of most of north Yemen, including Sanaa, has led the Saudis and the GCC to move their embassies to Aden, where they are trying to back the tattered remnant of the Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi regime in south Yemen. The inauguration of Sanaa-Tehran air flights last month, a first, only underscores the extent of Iran's success in achieving a key goal in the kingdom's backyard and in its historically weak underbelly. The Saudis are on the defense in Yemen.

Egypt is Riyadh's key Arab partner. The kingdom played an important role in bringing Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power, and Salman met him a week ago to coordinate closely on regional issues, especially Iran. Cairo is too preoccupied with its own domestic terror threat from the Islamic State (IS) and spillover from Libya's disintegration to be very helpful against Iranian machinations elsewhere, however, and is more of a liability (especially financially) than an asset, albeit one Saudi Arabia is determined to keep afloat.

The Shiite government in Baghdad is regarded as a long-lost Arab partner. The Saudis expect Iran to emerge as the big winner in the war with IS, no matter how long it takes and how bloody it is. The Saudis know history, geography, demography and sectarian affiliation favor Iran in Iraq. They believe that President George W. Bush made a colossal error in 2003 and that President Barack Obama has made an "unholy alliance" today with Iran in Iraq. The only option now is to contain the Shiite breakthrough here, too.

Syria has been lost to Iran as well, but Riyadh still hopes to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Saudis are pouring money into the Lebanese army, as a potential brake on Hezbollah, along with the French. Salman also recently met with Jordan's King Abdullah to coordinate with Amman on Syria and with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well.

Riyadh's most crucial ally is Pakistan, the only Muslim nuclear weapons state. Last year, for the first time, the Saudis publicly displayed their vintage Chinese-made intermediate-range ballistic missiles — the only ones they have that can reach Tehran — at a military parade. In the reviewing stands was Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Rahul Sharif, the man who controls Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. It is the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world, and the Saudis have been helping to pay for its development since the 1970s. It was a very calculated signal.

Salman, in late February, summoned the Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, to Riyadh. The highly unusual and urgent public invitation was linked in the Pakistani press to "strategic cooperation" against Iran. Salman visited Islamabad a year ago as crown prince and gave Sharif a $1.5 billion grant to reaffirm the Saudi-Pakistani strategic accord. Sharif spent three days in the kingdom last week in response to the king's invitation. He received a royal reception.

One immediate result of the talks is a plan for Pakistan to move its embassy in Yemen to Aden.

The speculation in Islamabad is that the king sought assurances from Sharif that, if the Iran negotiations produce either a bad deal or no deal, Pakistan will live up to its longstanding commitment to Saudi security. That is understood in Riyadh and Islamabad to include a nuclear dimension.

Sharif also visited the kingdom in January of this year. He was apparently told that then-King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was at death's door, and Sharif came to pay his respects and meet with Salman before the king died. No other leader was given this advance notice — another sign of the critical importance of the Saudi-Pakistani axis.

​The exact details of what the Pakistani nuclear commitment to the kingdom includes is, of course, among the most closely held secrets of our world. Both Riyadh and Islamabad prefer to maintain ambiguity and deniability.

The Saudis have not given up on Obama; the United States is still their oldest ally. Washington is too important to irritate with speeches. The Saudis prefer a more subtle approach.

Read more:
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India/Indian Ocean (and India-afpakia and India-China) on: January 31, 2015, 12:07:40 AM
FWIW, Obama was the Chief Guest at India's Republic Day, he had a very well received visit.
He is trying to support India to balance China. This time, he also dropped a key tracking requirement by US for nuclear material, since the IAEA already does that and the Russians have sold many nuclear reactors to India, whereas American/Japanese companies were losing out. India has an exemplary record in not stealing or spreading nuclear tech. Also India's peaceful use reactors are under IAEA safe guards, but not the military ones, which are off limits and a bone of contention for some of the nuclear powers.
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 17, 2015, 08:57:31 PM
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 16, 2015, 10:31:36 PM
The question is who is the greenest of them all...and IS wins hands down....and so the jihadi flight to "quality".
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 15, 2015, 10:29:40 PM
And why its hard to figure out, whats happening in pakiland

19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 15, 2015, 10:19:05 PM

Incase, you wonder what exactly the jihadi imams preach....this is a paki site which catalogs the sermons, which the imams of all its in english. Pakiland is moving into the modern age.. grin

A random sample is below....YA

Maulana Mufti Saeed Ahmed
Posted in Ahl-e-Hadith, America, India, Jihad, Morality, Nuclear, Politics on July 11, 2010

Speaker: Maulana Mufti Saeed Ahmed
Place: Jamia Masjid Mittranwali,  Sialkot
Sect: Ahle Hadith
Language: Urdu

Let us not be spectators but get together to swear that we will avenge the making of cartoons about our Beloved Prophet PBUH. O Muslims, get up and take in hand your arrows, pick up your kalashnikovs, train yourselves in explosives and bombs, organise yourselves into armies, prepare nuclear attacks and destroy every part of the body of the enemy.

The Quran instructs us but since we have not followed it the Europeans have published the cartoons. Former ruler President Farooq Leghari arrested Aimal Kansi from Dera Ghazi Khan and handed him over to the US. And merciless America put him on the electric chair and handed over his corpse to Pakistan.

Supplier of women (dalla!) Musharraf and his shameless khaki clad army-men handed over the daughter of the nation Aafiya Siddiqi to the Americans. He kept quiet on Afghanistan and put a stop to Kashmir jihad. He also destroyed the Jamia Hafsa in Islamabad.

In Musharraf’s book more betrayals are narrated. He sold the Arab mujahideen, sold Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, and earned dollars by doing this. This group of kanjars (pimps) and clowns (bhaand) have got hold of the Two Nation Theory and have become dominant on us.

Allah has got us rid of Musharraf but who has been imposed on us in his place, Mr Ten Percent Zardari. Prime Minister Gilani who proclaims he is a Syed is lying because in his rule women are being freely raped and there is no remedy. And India in the name of friendship is interfering in Balochistan.

It is only yesterday that Lahore suffered seven explosions after similar explosions at Aabpara in Islamabad, the Wah Factory, and the Islamic University. There are suicide bombers all over the place and Americans, Indians and Jews are crawling all over disguised and hidden in cars with windows covered in black tint. Today India has blocked our water by building 62 illegal dams on our rivers. Under the Indus Waters Treaty, Indus, Sutlej and Jhelum belonged to Pakistan, but India was opposed to the situation and has built dams on them.

Hafiz Saeed has called a large rally of protesters against water-stealing India on the Mall in Lahore to open the eyes of the media. The Hindus are dissemblers, they say something and do something else. Manmohan Singh said there was no water issue and Pakistan should get hold of Hafiz Saeed. The Hindus have rejected Jamaat Ali Shah the Water Commissioner of Pakistan and other delegates. My brothers, the answer to water thieves, cartoon-makers and drone fliers is only jihad in the name of Allah.

Today Pakistan is at an important crossroads. The hatred among the people against the kafirs has reached a new height. Remember the ambassador of America had come to Lahore trying to pin a medal on the chest of a boy who had won distinction but the boy refused to accept the medal from the ambassador saying America was not friend of Pakistan and Muslims. The hands of America are red with the blood of Muslim women and children. We will not receive medals from these people.

This year in February eight FATA leaders were going to America on the invitation of the US embassy but once there they were subjected to humiliating body search and scanning (jama-taladshi) But when it came to scanning, the eight refused to be subjected to insult and turned back saying if the Americans don’t invite us again it does not matter, what matters is our honour.

May America the rebel of Allah be destroyed. We will not go to America after being made naked (nanga). A big change is upon us and there is revolution in the air. Look the Americans have come and located themselves in our country. They will not leave unless we impose jihad on them. The experts of jihad are predicting that America will be subjected to a lot of drubbing before it decides to leave. We will have to create a graveyard of the Americans like the one created in Vietnam.

In America 172 banks have gone bankrupt. The G-20 hooligans get together and hold consultations to strengthen the IMF with funds. Until yesterday only Hafiz Said was asking for contributions. And the mujahideen have thrashed the Americans so much that they are now forced to beg for contributions.

Now the Americans go to Saudi Arabia begging it for an arranged meeting with Mullah Umar and peace talks with the Taliban. The big slap was delivered on the cheek of Hindus in Mumbai by Deccan Tigers and although the Hindus have done bigger mischief in Pakistan, they can’t for get forget the slap of Mumbai.

I tell the generals and the establishment in the country that if you want to relieve the pressure and want to bring peace to your country then give a bloodbath to Indian and American diplomats in Kabul and Kandahar. The Hindu will stop blocking your water after that.

20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pak Taliban debates Pak Army on: December 28, 2014, 07:19:10 PM

This video is making the rounds on the paki circuit. It has a TTP (Tehreek-e-Pakistan) mullah (bad taliban) vs pak army person debating the TTP policy of war against the state of pak and the paki army. Its in Urdu, but the TTP person is actually quite impressive and clear in his religious thinking, and runs circles around the paki army guy. It does have english subtitles, but the effect is lost. Anyway, the guy with the turban is the TTP person and Pak general's pict is shown when the army person speaks. Its a long video, but it provides the TTP pov.

1 hr of this video gives you more insight on the TTP way of thinking, than anything else. Looks like the paki army is in deep doo doo. Its hard to win against someone whose criteria for success is either shariah in pak, or martyrdom.
21  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.

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.
22  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.

23  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...

This branch of AQ will be for south asia...
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 27, 2014, 08:21:05 PM

Weather in Af-Pak

25  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 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."
26  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.
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 pak continues to go down the tubes.
27  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.
28  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 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

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.

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

29  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

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.
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: February 11, 2014, 08:31:43 PM

Karzai Arranged Secret Contacts With the Taliban

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.
31  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!.
32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: January 01, 2014, 01:38:33 PM
 grin Immigration humor, SA style
33  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 ?

34  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.
35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 21, 2013, 08:40:16 AM

Its only fair....

36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 21, 2013, 08:19:19 AM
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.
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 21, 2013, 07:49:14 AM
Some interesting view points from the Indian sub-continent..

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.
38  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!.
39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 07, 2013, 10:56:27 AM
Posted without comment...
40  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.
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 11, 2013, 01:48:22 PM
42  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..
43  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
44  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."
45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India; India-afpakia and India-China? on: May 04, 2013, 06:30:44 PM

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 at, 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
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India; India-afpakia and India-China? on: May 04, 2013, 01:39:47 PM

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.
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pakistani rave party on: March 17, 2013, 09:31:20 AM!

Enjoy the Harlem Shake af-pak style.... grin
48  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...
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.
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 01, 2012, 02:57:02 PM

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

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.

* * * * *

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.
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