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101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 02, 2011, 04:54:40 PM

ISI has been implicated...

Afghan president Hamid Karzai says a Pakistani was responsible for last month's assassination of former president and High Peace Council chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Mr Karzai released a statement blaming an insurgent from Pakistan for the murder of Professor Rabbani as he reviewed Afghanistan's peace process.

It added that the death was plotted in Quetta and the killer had been living in Chaman, a Pakistani border town near Quetta.

The statement also quoted investigators as saying: "Documents and evidence together with the biography, address and phone numbers of suspects involved in the incident have been submitted to the government of Pakistan in order to arrest and hand them [other suspects] over."

Many Afghans are suspicious of Pakistan's connections to the Taliban-led insurgency in their country but the statement was the strongest yet to suggest a Pakistani link to Professor Rabbani's killing.

Professor Rabbani, chairman of Mr Karzai's High Peace Council, was killed by a turban suicide bomber at his home in Kabul on September 20.

He had thought that he was meeting a representative carrying a special message from the Taliban.

The statement came hours after Mr Karzai was reviewing his strategy for peace with the Taliban in the wake of Professor Rabbani's killing.

102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 02, 2011, 04:29:52 PM
Opinion: Turning to the Haqqanis, Pakistan has made its choice
The ISI’s ties to an insurgent network undermine any hope of real cooperation with the US
By Keith Yost
September 30, 2011

It’s difficult for me to add more than what I’ve already written in “While Karachi Slowly Burns” (Sept. 10, 2010), or “Mission Accomplished” (May 6, 2011). Pakistan is a state with a major security problem — India — and two mutually-exclusive strategies to deal with that problem: a stable security partnership with the United States, or an increasing reliance on jihadi proxies. The former is a realistic path, as Pakistan and the United States have considerable mutual interests, while the latter is a monumental blunder, built on the quixotic notion that terrorists and guerrillas can somehow bleed India down to parity despite its seven to one advantage in men and materiel.

We have long hoped that Pakistan would choose America, not terrorists, as the guarantors of its security, but that hope has been in vain. Now, Admiral Mullen, Pakistan’s greatest remaining booster in the U.S. foreign policy establishment, has delivered what amounts to an ultimatum: either Pakistan severs its connection with the militant groups that are attacking NATO forces in Afghanistan, or America will sever its connection with Pakistan. The Pakistanis have refused to abandon the Haqqanis, and so the die is cast. The dissolution of the relationship between the United States and Pakistan is a fait accompli; it is inconceivable that the U.S. Congress will renew billions of dollars of aid for a country that is actively (and now publicly) engaged in the killing of U.S. troops.

The decision by the Obama administration to deliver the ultimatum to our nominal ally is not without its downsides. Our counter-terrorism efforts, as well as our war-fighting in Afghanistan, rely a great deal on Pakistan’s cooperation. However, in the long run, given Pakistan’s behavior, long-term U.S. interests in South and Central Asia are best served by a realignment toward India. The Obama administration deserves praise for its execution of this realignment. Years have been spent carefully setting the stage, giving the Pakistanis every opportunity to edge themselves back from their suicidal geopolitical strategy while simultaneously testing the waters of a U.S-India partnership. And the choice of timing is impeccable: U.S. forces in Afghanistan are higher than they have ever been before, giving the U.S. its maximal leverage against Pakistan, but the president’s political capital to remove those forces is also at its zenith, which undercuts Pakistan’s main source of leverage over the U.S. — namely, its supply routes to Afghanistan.

It is important that Obama (or the next president of the United States) appreciates the gravity and finality implicit in Pakistan’s rebuff of Mullen’s ultimatum. Already, some pundits are selling the cutesy notion of the U.S. being “frenemies” with Pakistan, as if international relations followed a script out of some Hollywood high school drama. But there is no intermediate status between friends and enemies to be found here — as the U.S. withdraws its support from Pakistan, Pakistan will compensate for this loss by relying even more strongly on militant groups like the Haqqanis to provide for its national security. The break-up, once initiated, can only accelerate.

In the long run, the U.S. playbook on Pakistan should grow to resemble that of India’s. The way to neuter an enemy is to carve them up into multiple states — such was Germany’s treatment by the allies after World War II, as well as the Soviet Union’s fate after its fall. India has already cut Pakistan in half, dividing it between modern Pakistan and Bangladesh. It seeks to do so again, exploiting the ethnic fault lines in Pakistani society to carve it up even further. With its parting shots in Afghanistan, the U.S. should use its military might to aid in this strategy. In its least extreme form, this strategy might merely ensure that Baloch-dominated provinces within Afghanistan retain a high degree of autonomy from the Afghan federal government. In its most extreme form, the U.S. could funnel arms to Baloch nationalists in southern Pakistan or take direct action in support of a free Balochistan. Where the U.S. should fall on this spectrum of policy choices is open to debate — what must be avoided is the naive optimism that Pakistan will have a Damascene moment and suddenly become the ally that the U.S. requires. Now is the time to restructure Afghanistan in the way that makes Pakistan weakest, not to dither in a nonexistent middle ground.

History will look upon Pakistan’s embrace of jihadists as one of the greatest geopolitical missteps of the 21st century. To prevent itself from appearing with Pakistan in history’s list of blunderers, the U.S. must make its break with Pakistan a decisive one and resist the urge to force nuance into a situation that deserves none.

103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 30, 2011, 10:16:43 AM
104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 30, 2011, 06:37:56 AM
Working the levers of patriotism

Ayaz Amir
Friday, September 30, 2011

No one can work the engines of patriotism better than the army and its ideological wing, the ISI. In actual combat their performance may invite questions. But in ideological combat their skill is unsurpassed.

In the annals of Pakistani democracy no fiction is more endearing than that of parliamentary sovereignty. The army and ISI set the score and music of national security. Civilian governments and politicians perform vigorously to this music and call it parliamentary sovereignty.

The corps commanders led the national outrage over the Kerry-Lugar bill, the jihadi media taking its cue from there. We know what deft hands first generated and then dissipated the hype over the Raymond Davis affair. Left to itself the federal government might have handled matters differently. But then the ISI wouldn’t have been the ISI if it had allowed this to happen.

When Sheikh Osama’s hideout was busted in Abbottabad, the first reaction of both President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani was sensible. But they weren’t counting on the deep sense of humiliation felt in General Headquarters. Realising their error they changed tack and hurriedly joined the national chorus of patriotism which had begun belting out lines about wounded sovereignty.

Few people paused to ask whether the sharper blow to national pride was dealt by the Americans or the Sheikh who, with his computers and disk drives, had installed himself in Abbottabad for close on five years. Where lesser mortals might have directed their anger at Al-Qaeda we went blue in the face denouncing America.

No praise is too high for Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the ISI chief, for playing the subsequent in-camera session of parliament the way he did. Towards its end most of the parliamentarians seemed to be eating out of his hands, all speaking the same language of honour and national pride with which he had prefaced his briefing.

Now in the latest outbreak of patriotic fever in the wake of Admiral Mike Mullen’s excoriating remarks about the Haqqani group and its real or presumed linkages to the ISI, it is again the army and ISI orchestrating the national response, and the government and much of the political class following suit and reading from the script prepared by the supreme guardians.

The corps commanders met first and Prime Minister Gilani swung into action later, calling up the assorted characters who presume to speak on behalf of the Pakistani people, and inviting them for an all-parties conference (APC). If past experience is any guide, there are few activities more pointless than this gathering of the good and the not-so-great. It is safe to say – these lines being written before this momentous event – that the emphasis will be on verbosity and beating the drums of national honour. At the end will come the refrain, the nation stands united.

The Pakistani nation caught up in the throes of patriotism is usually a dangerous sight – mostly a prelude to something bizarre and foolish. What a mood of excitement we built up in 1965, closing our eyes to the reality that our rulers of the time, for no rhyme or reason, had started the whole blooming adventure. No one punished them but the country is still, in myriad ways, living the consequences.

In 1971 every vehicle in Lahore carried the sticker “Crush India”. We know who was crushed and who wasn’t in that conflict. The Afghan jihad, the conflict in Kargil, our predilection with managing the affairs of Afghanistan, when everything points to the conclusion that we are far from able to manage our own....the list of our militant follies is endless.

The US may be using too broad a brush and putting too thick a coat of paint on our warped strategic theories, but there is a growing body of opinion in Pakistan itself that the time for our strategic games is up. Mike Mullen did not say the ISI was attacking Kabul. We should read his testimony more dispassionately. He was saying the culprits were from the Haqqani group and that this group had strong links with the ISI.

Who the intrepid soul who would deny this last point? Don’t the Haqqanis have havens on this side of the border? The ISI doesn’t micro-manage them, it has no operational control over them. But in the name of all that is profane, don’t they have a presence there and here?

They are assets for the future, our strategic grandmasters will say. Haven’t we played enough of Afghan games and isn’t it time to let that unfortunate country be on its own? No one should wish more misfortunes upon the Afghan people but if they must fight their own internecine wars what drives us to the necessity of being a part of them, directly or indirectly?

Not only is it high time the army redrew its priorities, it is also time it stopped forcing its theories on hapless civilian governments. Every malevolent adjective in the world this government – indeed the entire political class – richly deserves. We have a set of ineffectual people at the helm, their capacity and competence no secret to anyone. But, I would venture to suggest, that even these clowns, if left to do their own bit, would manage relations with the US better than our brilliant army commanders.

There is no more difficult negotiating partner in the world than the MQM. He who can handle the MQM can deal with anyone, even the spirits of the dark and the deep. If we settled for cheap terms and low wages in 2001, broad-chested generals were in charge of national affairs not weak-kneed civilians. When the time was for negotiating something sensible and equitable with the Americans our army command blew it. Now when events have moved on and a new dynamic is in play, the army command just refuses to dismount from the high stallion of national honour and inviolable sovereignty.

What kind of a country are we? After India tested its nuclear bombs in 1998 Lal Kishan Advani only had to make a few threatening statements for Pakistan to go into panic mode and rush into its own tests. Israel hasn’t carried out any nuclear tests. Is its nuclear arsenal any less effective because of this? What, if exercising better judgment – admittedly, a tall order – we hadn’t tested in May 1998. Would our bombs have melted or just disappeared? And would Indian tanks have invaded Pakistan?

Here we are bedevilled by the wages of terrorism and a falling economy and yet we speak the language of Prussia at the height of its military power.

And now Mullen’s congressional testimony and some tough talk by the US secretary of defence Leon Panetta have thrown us into a panic in 2011. The corps commanders, forsaking their beloved golf, meet on a Sunday and the good and the patriotic get together for the Pakistani variant of that all-time farce called the APC.

Philip, Alexander the Great’s father, held out this threat to Sparta: “If I enter Laconia (Sparta’s other name), you shall be exterminated.” The reply was a single word, “If”. It’s too much to hope that Pakistan can emulate such brevity but at least our response to real or imagined challenges could be less windy and extended than they often tend to be.

Why should the Americans attack us when a few statements can so thoroughly unnerve us? We are already talking again – the Americans and us – and let no one say that American pressure, calculated or fortuitous, hasn’t worked. The corps commanders hurriedly called to meet and the pantomime of the APC are reminders less of a nation united than a nation easily jolted.

But more than semantics and the right tools of verbiage we have to put a rein on our strategic theories. The threat to us is from within, from the cumulative consequences of past follies. India is an elephant. Living cheek-by-jowl with an elephant is always a problem. But can we please get out of the calculus of India posing some kind of an existential threat to us? From the realm of dreams and fantasies, and imagined threats, isn’t it time we stepped into the real world?
105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 30, 2011, 06:35:00 AM
I think Baraq is weak, that's the real reason we dont base missiles in eastern europe. Those decisions were taken at a time of "hope & change". 
re: Af-Pak, any gains in obtaining additional supply routes from throwing europe under the bus were likely factored into the calculations and used as a justification to chicken out from placing missiles in europe. Now this analysis would be faulty, if Bama does something about tightening the screws on Haqqanis and Pak, for that would imply that the gain of additional supply routes was part of the planned end game in Pak. There is some evidence to suggest that after Mullen's testimony pakis are in a panic that the US may bomb Pak or send boots on the ground. After Nato rocketed N.Waziristan, they have had a corps commanders meet, an all party conference, their media is full of jingoistic war songs, eg
106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 29, 2011, 07:07:36 PM
This seems to be the first the US to bring Pak to heel.

Pakistan: NATO Fires Rockets Into North Waziristan
September 29, 2011 | 0712 GMT
NATO forces fired 12 rockets on the Ghulam Khan area of Pakistan’s North Waziristan, Karachi Dawn News reported in a screen caption at 0433 GMT Sept. 29. Another screen caption reported that government sources said Pakistan retaliated by firing 15 mortar rounds. Another caption reported sources claiming that Pakistani helicopters were flying along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 28, 2011, 07:11:14 PM

Why Pakistan Is Getting Cocky
Sep 23, 2011 1:21 PM EDT
Pakistan’s Army and intelligence service are behaving ever more provocatively—with potentially drastic ramifications for the war in Afghanistan. Bruce Riedel on the ISI’s psyche.

Admiral Mullen's candid and stunning testimony that directly links Pakistan's intelligence service, ISI, to recent attacks on NATO forces and the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan puts America and Pakistan on a collision course.
Why are the ISI and the Pakistani Army making such risky moves? What is the calculation in the generals’ minds? Short answer is, they believe we are on the run in Afghanistan and they want to push us out faster. Mullen has been Pakistan’s strongest advocate inside the White House situation room since President Obama took office in 2009. He prudently argued for patience and tolerance with the ISI’s duplicity for years, rightly stressing Pakistan’s critical importance on many vital issues like the nuclear-arms race, counterterrorism, and the Afghan war. This makes his remarks linking ISI to the Afghan Taliban’s Haqqani network attacks on our forces this month all the more stunning. Mullen labeled the Haqqani Taliban a “veritable arm” and “proxy” of the ISI. Afghan sources have said the Taliban suicide team that attacked our embassy was in constant contact by cell phone with their masters back in Pakistan during the firefight.

More questions are coming about ISI. The assassination last Tuesday of former Afghan president Rabbani, who was leading Afghanistan’s effort to develop a peace and reconciliation process with the Taliban, dealt a literal death blow to any hope of a peace settlement between NATO, the Karzai government, and the Taliban insurgency. Rabbani was murdered by a suicide bomber who allegedly brought a message from the Taliban’s top authority, the Quetta Shura, which has long been directly linked to the ISI as well. We still don’t know enough about the assassination plot, but it is highly unlikely the Taliban leadership in Quetta would have blown up the reconciliation process without a green light—or at least an amber one —from the ISI leadership.

These are incredibly provocative actions for the ISI. Over the past three decades it has developed a well-deserved reputation for sponsoring terror, like the 2008 Mumbai attack. It is accountable only to the Army and chief of Army staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari and his ministers has zero control over the spies and live in fear of them. It is not a rogue agency; it is a state within the state. The generals who run ISI have worked with the Taliban for more than 15 years. They provide critical sanctuary for its leaders like Haqqani and Mullah Mohammed Omar. Without direct and substantial Pakistani help, the Taliban could not have recovered from its defeat in Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001 and become the threat it is today.

Pakistan feels they hold a lot of aces, maybe more than they should.
But now the generals feel increasing heat from the U.S. and sense a growing chance that America and NATO are looking to cut and run from Afghanistan, hence their willingness to take risks to accelerate America’s departure from their doorstep and help their clients win. The stepped-up drone operations and especially the May 1 SEAL raid in Abbottabad have humiliated the generals deeply. They also know Osama bin Laden’s success in hiding out for six years in eyesight of the Army’s premier academy has raised profound suspicions in America about whether the ISI was clueless or complicit in his hideout.

So the heat was rising well before Mullen’s testimony. Yet the ISI also knows American and European support for staying in Afghanistan is dropping. Canada has already left. Obama has started withdrawing faster than his generals wanted. The Pakistani officers want to accelerate this process—the sooner NATO is gone, the better for them. So their advice to their Afghan proxies is to carry out operations designed to impact the home audience in America and Europe. Make the war look unwinnable and hopeless. Make Kabul appear chaotic and unsafe. Kill any hope for a political process. The darker Afghanistan appears on TV screens, the sooner the foreign armies will be called home.

Reality is less important than image in this war. The Army leadership also feels it can weather any blowback from Washington. The generals assume U.S. military aid will be cut or eliminated by Congress sooner rather than later, and they are confident that the Saudis and Chinese will fill the gap. They also know NATO’s logistical supply line to Kabul runs through Karachi (more than half of everything NATO eats, drinks, and shoots arrives via Karachi despite intense efforts to find alternatives). They have leverage and they know it. And of course, they have the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal in the world with a developing tactical nuclear capability. They feel they hold a lot of aces, maybe more than they should. Cocky poker players are dangerous.

Bruce Riedel, a former longtime CIA officer, is a senior fellow in the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. At President Obama’s request, he chaired the strategic review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009. He is author of the new book Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America and the Future of the Global Jihad and The Search for Al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology and Future.

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at
108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 25, 2011, 01:29:27 PM
From B.Raman's blog...

The United States has turned on Pakistan with such dizzying speed over the past few weeks that it is difficult to keep pace. Yet what is clear after Admiral Mike Mullen’s extraordinarily blunt statement that the Haqqani militant network is a “veritable arm” of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency is that it now has the Pakistan army very firmly in its sights.

Mullen accused the ISI, which is effectively a wing of the Pakistan army, of supporting the Haqqani network in a truck bomb attack on a U.S. base in Afghanistan and an assault on the U.S. embassy in Kabul which led to a 20-hour siege. “We also have credible intelligence that they (the Haqqani network) were behind the June 28 attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller but effective operations,” he said.

It was the most forthright assertion yet by the Americans that the Pakistani military is not merely turning a blind eye to militant groups based on its border with Afghanistan but actively encouraging them to attack American interests. The Pakistan army says it is overstretched as it is tackling militant groups which target Pakistan without creating new enemies by attacking Afghan militants and denies it retains links with the Haqqani network.

Just one month ago in a report titled “Pakistan, the United States and the End Game in Afghanistan” a group describing themselves as “the foreign policy elite” laid out what Pakistan wanted to happen in Afghanistan. Among their suggestions were that both the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Mohammed Omar and the Haqqani network be included in talks on a political settlement in Afghanistan. The report was heavily criticised by those who saw it as an attempt by Pakistan to maintain its old policy of “strategic depth” – using militant proxies to stamp its influence on Afghanistan and counter India.

It looks like the United States is having none of it. I dislike the expression “end-game” applied to either Afghanistan or Pakistan (or Britain for that matter) with its implication that the people living in those countries come to an end when outside powers lose interest. But it is worth considering the expression just to show how much has changed. The so-called “end-game” is now in Pakistan.

That is not to say there are not worsening problems in Afghanistan itself, especially with the assassination of peace council chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani “laying open again the fracture lines” of civil war, as Kate Clark wrote at the Afghanistan Analysts Network. Nor is to suggest that anyone disputes the need for a political settlement in Afghanistan. Nor indeed that American tactics and strategy in Afghanistan are not open to criticism – Pakistan repeatedly says it is being used as a scapegoat for U.S. failures in Afghanistan. And nor would it be fair to dismiss Pakistan’s own concerns that by going after the Haqqani network – with its links to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and other militant groups – it would face even greater violence on its own soil. Those are all subjects which merit separate and serious discussion.

But it is to say that the particular end-game going on now is between the United States and the Pakistan army. Look closely at the proposition being made by Washington. According to Mullen’s testimony Pakistan – and specifically its army – must give up support for the Afghan Taliban (the so-called Quetta shura Taliban) and the Haqqani network. In return the United States will help Pakistan find “an increasing role for democratic, civilian institutions and civil society in determining Pakistan’s fate.”

Whatever language you couch that in, that is quite a difficult proposition for the Pakistan army. First it is being asked to turn on old militant proxies which for decades it saw as its main leverage against both India and a hostile Afghanistan and which for the ISI in particular were a considerable source of power. Second the army – an institution which is used to being the most powerful in Pakistan – is being asked to relinquish its dominance and cede its place to a civilian democracy. Third, even if it were willing to give up some of its power – and the considerable economic advantages that go with it – it would need to make a leap of faith that Pakistan’s warring and often corrupt politicians could get their act together to govern the country effectively.

Yet the message that appears to be being delivered by the Americans with increasing force is that if it resists, it will lose. Unlike during the Cold War when Pakistan was able to exploit U.S.-Soviet rivalry to maintain its position against India, Pakistan is looking very isolated right now. In the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s it had American and Saudi support. This time around it is hard to find any country which will help it.

In Afghanistan ordinary people are opening blaming the ISI for the country’s troubles. Russia is worried about instability in Afghanistan spilling over into the former Soviet Central Asia and about drug smuggling pushing up the numbers of heroin addicts whose growth is already gnawing away at its economy. Moscow has been more resistant even than the United States to the idea of taking former Taliban off a UN sanctions list to create a better climate for talks. Relations with neighbouring Iran tend to go up and down, but are not helped by a spate of killings of Shi’ites by Sunni extremists in Pakistan. China is interested only in stability and securing its access through Pakistan to oil supplies and raw materials. For all Pakistan’s “deeper than the oceans” faith in Chinese friendship, it is unlikely to ride to its rescue in a confrontation with the United States over Afghanistan.

Ironically, India is being projected as a way out of the quagmire with the prospect of regional trade offered as a solution to Pakistan’s deepening economic gloom. But India – indeed far more than the United States – has tended to be more suspicious of the Pakistan military and the government has justified to its domestic critics the current peace process as a way of supporting civilian democracy in Pakistan.

So the question we need to ask is this. Will the Pakistan army fold? Institutions do not give up power easily and arguably the Pakistan army as an institution is more powerful than the individuals who lead it.

In many ways this is like a rerun of the Kargil war writ large. In 1999, the Pakistan army occupied mountain positions in the Kargil region on the Line of Control separating the Indian and Pakistani parts of the former kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir – its troops encroaching on part of the territory that was supposed to be under Indian control. In doing so, it breached a 1972 agreement with India that neither side would attempt to change the Line of Control, or ceasefire line, by force.

There was in fact an underlying – though heavily contested – logic to Pakistan’s actions in Kargil. Pakistan considered India’s occupation of Siachen (in the Karakoram mountains beyond the Line of Control) in 1984 as a similar breach of the 1972 Simla agreement. Since the late 1980s – or so I have been told by one of the generals involved – it had thought about occupying the heights above Kargil as a way of training its artillery on the main road from Kashmir towards Siachen, thereby cutting off the Indian army’s supply route.

Yet the Pakistan army had over-reached. It first denied that it had any troops in Kargil at all, saying that mujahideen and irregulars had moved into positions in the mountains as part of their campaign to free Indian Kashmir from what it calls Indian occupation. In an odd foreshadowing of the current situation in Afghanistan, it chose to launch its Kargil war at a time when India and Pakistan were engaged in peace talks. After a brief and bitter war with India, the Pakistan army was forced by international pressure — especially from the United States but more discreetly from China – into a humiliating retreat.

This time around the Pakistan army appears to have over-reached in a way which could prove to be its undoing. It has taken on the United States – a declining but still superpower – in Afghanistan. The issue here is not really who is right or wrong but rather which country can bring the greater force to bear and the greater international leverage.
The other possibility is that the confrontation between the Pakistan army and the United States could become more and more dangerous. But with its very public comments on the Haqqanis and the ISI, the United States has just rolled a dice that it hopes and believes is weighted in its favour.
109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Supply routes on: September 23, 2011, 07:18:57 PM
Routes into Afghanistan...the easiest is through Iran (Chabahar), but relations are bad with Iran.

110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 22, 2011, 06:44:45 PM
US bomb warning to Pakistan ignored
American commander asked Pakistan's army chief to halt truck bomb two days before an explosion wounded 77 near Kabul

Declan Walsh in Islamabad and Jon Boone in Kabul,    Thursday 22 September 2011 17.32 EDT
Article history

Pakistan intelligence accused of ignoring warnings about a truck bomb that wounded 77 and killed five.
The American commander of Nato in Afghanistan personally asked Pakistan's army chief to halt an insurgent truck bomb that was heading for his troops, during a meeting in Islamabad two days before a huge explosion that wounded 77 US soldiers at a base near Kabul.

In reply General Ashfaq Kayani offered to "make a phone call" to stop the assault on the US base in Wardak province. But his failure to use the American intelligence to prevent the attack has fuelled a blazing row between the US and Pakistan.

Furious American officials blame the Taliban-inspired group the Haqqanis – and, by extension, Pakistani intelligence – for the 10 September bombing and an even more audacious guerrilla assault on the Kabul US embassy three days later that killed 20 people and lasted more than 20 hours.

On Thursday the US military chief, Admiral Mike Mullen, described the Haqqanis as "a veritable arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence [spy] agency". He earlier accused the ISI of fighting a "proxy war" in Afghanistan through the group.

Pakistan's defence minister, Ahmed Mukhtar, rejected the American accusations of Haqqani patronage as "baseless". "No one can threaten Pakistan as we are an independent state," he said.

The angry accusations lift the veil on sensitive conversations that have heretofore largely taken place behind closed doors. On 8 September, General John Allen, the Nato commander in Afghanistan, raised intelligence reports of the impending truck bomb at a meeting with Kayani during a visit to Islamabad.

Kayani promised Allen he would "make a phone call" to try to stop the attack, according to a western official with close knowledge of the meeting. "The offer raised eyebrows," the official said.

But two days later, just after Allen's return to Kabul, a truck rigged with explosives ploughed into the gates of the US base in Wardak, 50 miles south-west of Kabul, injuring 77 US soldiers and killing two Afghan civilians.

Afterwards the US ambassador to Kabul, Ryan Crocker, blamed the Haqqanis. "They enjoy safe havens in North Waziristan," he said, referring to the Haqqani main base in the tribal belt.

Allen's spokesman said Nato "routinely shares intelligence with the Pakistanis regarding insurgent activities" but he refused to confirm the details of the conversation with Kayani.

The Pakistani military spokesman, General Athar Abbas, said: "Let's suppose it was the case. The main question is how did this truck travel to Wardak and explode without being checked by Nato? This is just a blame game."

US allegations of ISI links to Haqqani attacks stretch back to July 2008, when the CIA deputy director, Stephen Kappes, flew to Islamabad with intercept evidence that linked the ISI to an attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul.

But American disquiet has never been so uncompromisingly expressed as in recent days. The issue dominated three hours of talks between the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and the Pakistani foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar.

On Tuesday Mullen said he had asked Kayani to "disconnect" the ISI from the Haqqanis. In Washington the CIA chief, David Petraeus, delivered a similar message in private to the ISI chief, General Shuja Pasha. Even the soft-spoken US ambassador to Islamabad, Cameron Munter, has joined the chorus of condemnation, delivering a hard-hitting message through an interview on Pakistani state radio.

"We've changed our message in private too," one US official said. "Before, we used to make polite demands about the Haqqanis. Now we are saying 'this has to stop'."

The new mood is driven by a combination of climbing casualties and brazen attacks. The Haqqanis were also blamed for a recent assault on the InterContinental Hotel, while August was the deadliest month for US forces in Afghanistan, with 71 deaths.

Nato is now investigating whether the Haqqanis had a hand in Tuesday's assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, President Hamid Karzai's peace envoy to the Taliban. Rabbani was killed at his home by a suicide bomber wearing an explosives-packed turban. A bloodstained four-page letter he was carrying at the time of the attack, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, insisted that "Pakistan is not our boss".

American officials have vowed to act unilaterally if Pakistan fails to comply with their demands over the Haqqanis. But it remains unclear how far they are willing to go against Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country that still provides vital counter-terrorism support.

There was some hope of resuscitating fragile relations between the Pakistani and American intelligence services, which were buffeted by the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden on 2 May. Officials from both countries hailed a joint operation on 28 August to arrest Younis al-Mauritani, a senior al-Qaida operative, in the western city of Quetta. On 5 September the Pakistani military issued a press release that highlighted Pakistani-American co-operation; some viewed the raid as a possible turning point in relations.

But the flurry of Haqqani attacks over the past two weeks seems to have washed away whatever goodwill was generated by the arrest.

US officials say debate is raging inside US policy circles about what to do next. The defence secretary, Leon Panetta, is said to have privately advocated US military incursions into the Haqqani stronghold in Waziristan – a risky gambit other officials reject as dangerous folly, citing the historical record of failure of western armies in the tribal belt.

Other US officials say Washington could slash non-military aid such as the $7.5bn five-year Kerry-Lugar-Berman package, which was approved in 2009.

There is also debate about the exact nature of the ISI's relationship with the Haqqanis. One western official said it was not a puppetmaster scenario. "It's not like they have a chain of command, with the Pakistanis handing down XOs [executive orders]," he said. Neither are the Pakistanis necessarily providing logistical support, he added: "It's murkier than that."

But, the official added, the US believes Pakistan is "actively tolerating" the Haqqanis. And the ISI could, if it wanted to, seriously disrupt their activities.

He warned that Pakistan was heading towards international isolation. "If it keeps going like this, it could end up like Syria – before the Arab spring."
111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 17, 2011, 08:55:39 PM
Nothing new here...but the US has started to explicitly indicate that paki govt is involved..

U.S. ambassador says evidence links Pakistan to militant group
By the CNN Wire Staff
September 18, 2011 -- Updated 0052 GMT (0852 HKT)
Ambassador Cameron Munter says evidence ties the Haqqani network to Pakistan
U.S. officials blame the Haqqani network for this week's attack in Kabul
They consider the network one of the most significant threats to Afghanistan's stability
Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, and Adm. Michael Mullen meet in Spain
(CNN) -- The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan accused the government there of having links to the Haqqani network, a pro-Taliban militant group that U.S. officials blame for this week's attack on the U.S. Embassy and NATO command center in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Speaking to Radio Pakistan, Ambassador Cameron Munter said relations between the United States and Pakistan "need a lot of work" and urged closer cooperation. The interview was available Saturday on the Radio Pakistan website.
A Taliban assault on the U.S. Embassy and NATO command center in central Kabul was brought to a bloody end Wednesday with the deaths of half a dozen militants. Four policemen and two civilians were killed and 27 injured in that attack and a handful of other incidents across Kabul, according to Afghan government figures.
"The attack that took place in Kabul a few days ago -- that was the work of the Haqqani network," Munter told Radio Pakistan. "There is evidence linking the Haqqani network to the Pakistani government. This is something that must stop. We have to make sure that we work together to fight terrorism."
U.S. officials have previously blamed this week's attack on the Haqqani network, a pro-Taliban militant group based in Pakistan's North Waziristan region. They have also previously accused the Pakistani government of maintaining a relationship with that network.
Still, Munter's comments are noteworthy for their timing, amid heightened tensions between Pakistan and the United States, and because of their blunt nature.
They came one day after U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen told his Pakistani counterpart he was deeply concerned about the brazenness of attacks being staged by operatives loyal to the Haqqani network.
During a lengthy one-on-one meeting in Seville, Spain, Mullen "conveyed his deep concerns about the increasing -- and increasingly brazen -- activities of the Haqqani network and restated his strong desire to see the Pakistani military take action against them and their safe havens in North Waziristan," Capt. John Kirby, Mullen's spokesman, told CNN.
Mullen believes that "elements" of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, known as the ISI, "directly support" the Haqqani network, Kirby said.
The Haqqani network is aligned with the Taliban and al Qaeda and is considered one the most significant threats to stability in Afghanistan. U.S. officials believe Haqqani operatives are moving unfettered across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and are responsible for several recent high-profile attacks in Kabul, including this week's assault.
In late April, Mullen said on Pakistan's Geo TV that the ISI has a "long-standing relationship" with the Haqqani network.
Pakistani officials have denied the existence of such a relationship.
Mullen, who is retiring at the end of this month, met with Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, for more than two hours in what was their final official meeting. Both men were in Spain to attend a high-level NATO military meeting.
"They agreed that the relationship between our two countries remained vital to the region and that both sides had taken positive steps to improve that relationship over the past few months. They also discussed the state of military-to-military cooperation and pledged to continue to find ways to make it better," Kirby said.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan's Interior Minister Bismillah Muhammadi avoided blaming Pakistan directly for this week's attack in Kabul. However, he used the phase "across the borders of Afghanistan," a typical way of referring to Pakistan, in connection to the recovered phones of the attackers.
"The six cell phones we found on them, and the evidence we got on them all shows that this plot was made across the borders of Afghanistan," he said. "Without doubt they are across the borders of Afghanistan. They get equipped, they get trained there, and then they get sent here for killing of our people."
CNN's Barbara Starr in Washington contributed to this report.
112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 15, 2011, 06:49:11 PM

Tuesday, September 13, 2011      


 A guide to dying in Pakistan —Fahd Husain

 An array of death merchants awaits you. There are the wild TTP dudes who will cut your throat while chanting holy verses. Your religious sentiments will therefore be lovingly safeguarded while you experience that throat-slitting feeling

Bzzzzzzzz....That is the sound of death hovering over you. Take your pick: drone or dengue mosquito. Both ways, you are done for.

Death is the trend in Pakistan. You can choose from a wide variety of locales: Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Badin, North Waziristan. There is plenty of death to go around for all of you. There is the quick ka-boom if you want to experience the Reaper from the skies; there is the bloodsucking kind in Lahore if you desire to hold out for a while in a netted hospital bed before slipping into the hereafter; or if you want a surprise end, try walking a bazaar in say D I Khan. Who knows you might just meet a teenaged suicide bomber. Then of course, there is the famed drill-induced death that awaits you in Karachi. Chop, chop, chop and gunnybagged for your final journey. Karachi beckons if you are into this kind of stuff.

It is all happening here. If you’ve got the wish, we’ve got the means.

If you liked ‘Saw’, or ‘Saw 2’, you will absolutely love Pakistan. We have got Jigsaws crawling all over the place, and they do not even need funny masks. Decapitation? We got specialists. Death by your own bodyguard? Yep, done that. Severed limbs and noses? Happens in the warm confines of our homes. How about whipping? Hey, we can do that with our left hands, with an applauding audience as a bonus. Oh, and how about a shot in the back of the head by a posse of cops? We teach that at our police academies. If you want a headlined death, we have got this huge compound in Abbottabad you would cherish for the rest of your life — till the marines come. And now even our mosquitoes are trained to literally suck the life out of you. Beat that.

Remember we are 180 million strong. This means there are a lot of us. So a couple of hundred going six feet under does not really upset our demographic balance. We have lost 35,000 of our fellow Pakistanis in this war on terror and that does not even get us a mention in the 9/11 speeches by US presidents past and present. That is how conveniently expendable we are. Death gets a multiple visa on arrival.

We are the horror movie rated not ‘R’ but NC17. But age is no bar to death here. We have got dead kids turning up all the time. In fact, while movies end after two hours, this one does not. We just keep on killin’ and killin’. Imagine ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand’ on steroids. That would be us.

An array of death merchants awaits you. There are the wild Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) dudes who will cut your throat while chanting holy verses. Your religious sentiments will therefore be lovingly safeguarded while you experience that throat-slitting feeling. If you do not want this cutting edge experience, we have for you the political militants. You can discuss your personal favourite ideologies and they will drill some sense into you — through your kneecaps. And there is also a homegrown scheme for you to whiten your black money if you so desire. You will be gagged and bound and bundled off to Fata and then perhaps to Afghanistan (no visa fee required). You can then pay a couple of million rupees of your black money as ransom — tax free — and return home to your loved ones. Word-of-mouth is the best advertisement, you know, that is why we are never short of thrill-seekers. ‘Pay as you go’ works best.

For the nature freaks, there is Lahore. Here are some tips to maximise your death wish: wear short sleeves, expose some skin (no midriffs please), try to stay near water bodies, and just hope for the worst. The mosquitoes, rest assured, will take care of the rest. Of course, if the thirsty insects mess it up, the doctors will ensure your wishes are fulfilled. Lahore Lahore aye na (Lahore is Lahore).

Further up north, Swat boasts lush hills and bloody memories. If you are lucky you may still run into a Taliban commander, but if not, you can dress like one and there are solid chances you will get lined up against a wall and shot. Look at the bright side: you got very dead in drop-dead surroundings. Swat is, after all, heaven on earth.

If on the other hand, you are the faint-hearted type, we could always just bore you to death. And we have just the place for it: parliament. You see, all good political debates have migrated to TV studios and parliament now echoes with eternal inanities. The roof of the building leaks, just like the politicians, and hardly anything ever gets done in there. You are in for a whole lot of — nothing. Are you man enough to do it?

We take our trade seriously here. We are good at the game of death — and striving for further excellence. We are blessed with trained manpower and fertile killing fields. We are open for business. We are dying for you to visit us. So snuff out those doubts, stop being killjoys and bite the bullet. Pakistan is a must-see, even if it is the last place you see.

The writer hosts a primetime show on a private TV channel. He can be reached at
113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 13, 2011, 07:31:16 PM
Pak ad in the WSJ

Another way to look at that ad
114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 09, 2011, 06:26:07 AM
The importance of this article is that it introduces a new term "the pakistanization of Al-Qaeda", which I guess is the next level from the mere "talibanization of Pakistan". To my understanding, this means that paki DNA has now been incorporated in AQ. As a result, one may expect AQ to play a more active role in many aspects of daily mayhem in Pak...

Al-Qaeda's roots grow deeper in Pakistan
By Amir Mir

ISLAMABAD - Ten years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City's twin World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon and the subsequent "war on terror" launched by United Stated-led forces against al-Qaeda, the terrorist group continues to pose a serious threat to the world as it keeps surviving and thriving mainly on the Pakistan-Afghanistan tribal belt.

In these rugged areas it has established an effective jihadi network that increasingly exploits its Pakistani affiliates to carry on the global jihadi agenda of Osama bin Laden, despite his May 2 killing in a United States military raid in Abbottabad in Pakistan.
Until recently, analysts have been mostly focusing on the dangers posed by the growing Talibanization of Pakistan. Yet, it has now become abundantly clear that the time has come to pay more attention to the bigger dangers posed by the Pakistanization of al-Qaeda.

Since US president George W Bush's declaration of war against global terrorism in September 2001, the US and its allies claim to have killed or captured over 75% of senior al-Qaeda leaders, the latest being Younis al-Mauritania, suspected of directing attacks against the US and Europe, who was arrested on September 5, 2011, during a raid in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province in Pakistan.

Yet, the frequency of terror attacks worldwide being attributed to the al-Qaeda network has increased, as compared to the pre-9/11 period, the latest being the September 7 twin suicide attacks targeting the residence of the deputy inspector general of the Balochistan Frontier Corps in Quetta, which killed 24 people.

Pakistani terrorism experts believe that the current spate of high-intensity attacks, despite Bin Laden's death four months ago, make obvious that al-Qaeda's core elements are still resilient and that the outfit is cultivating stronger operational connections that radiate outward from hideouts in Pakistan to affiliates scattered throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

Therefore, as things stand, it appears that al-Qaeda not only remains in business in its traditional stronghold in the Waziristan tribal region on the largely lawless Pakistan-Afghanistan tribal belt border, it has also clearly advanced to the urban areas in all the four provinces of Pakistan.

This is confirmed by the growing belief of the Barack Obama administration that if there is one country that matters most to the future of al-Qaeda, it is Pakistan.

A solid base
Al-Qaeda, which means "The Base" in Arabic, was founded in 1988 by Bin Laden with the aim of overthrowing the US-dominated world order. The outfit was relatively unknown until the 9/11 terror attacks when its operatives hijacked four US airliners and successfully crashed two of them into the World Trade Center towers in New York, with a third plane hitting the Pentagon building in Washington and a fourth one crashing in Pennsylvania as the passengers attempted to regain control of the plane.

In an exclusive interview with Geo television on July 23, 2008, Mustafa Abu Yazid alias Sheikh Saeed, then the third senior-most al-Qaeda leader after Bin Laden and Dr Ayman Zawahiri, confessed for the first time that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by 19 al-Qaeda operatives.

As US-led forces launched a ruthless military offensive in Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11, the Afghanistan-based al-Qaeda leadership started systematically moving its fighters across their eastern border into Pakistan, where they effectively took over the rugged mountainous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) after joining hands with local militants.

The al-Qaeda leadership's choice of using the FATA region, especially the North and South Waziristan tribal agencies as their hideout, has enabled the terror outfit to build a new power base, separate from Afghanistan. As a result, despite Pakistan's extensive contribution to the "war on terror", many questions persist about the extent to which al-Qaeda and its allied groups are operating within Pakistan.

Al-Qaeda's success in forging close ties to Pakistani jihadi groups has given it an increasingly secure haven in the mountainous tribal areas of Pakistan. These regions have replaced Afghanistan as the key training and indoctrination grounds for al-Qaeda recruits to be used in operations abroad and for training those indoctrinated and radicalized elsewhere.

The international community continues to portray Pakistan as a breeding ground for the Taliban militia and a sanctuary for fugitive al-Qaeda leaders. Despite repeated denials by Pakistani authorities, the global media keep reporting them having already established significant bases in Peshawar and Quetta, and carrying out cross-border ambushes against their targets in Afghanistan, while al-Qaeda suicide bombing teams target US-led forces from their camps in the mountainous region.

The general notion that al-Qaeda is getting stronger even after the decade-long "war on terror", can be gauged from the fact that Pakistan, despite being a key US ally during all those years, is undergoing a radical change, moving from the phase of Talibanization of its society to the Pakistanization of al-Qaeda.

Many of the key Pakistani jihadi organizations, which are both anti-American and anti-state, have already joined hands with al-Qaeda to let loose a reign of terror across Pakistan. The meteoric rise of the Taliban militia in Pakistan, especially after 9/11, has literally pushed the Pakistani state to the brink of civil war, claiming over 35,000 lives in terrorism-related incidents between 2001 and 2011.

Terrorism experts believe that the Pakistanization of al-Qaeda is rooted in decades of collaboration between elements of the Pakistani military and the intelligence establishment and extremist jihadi movements that birthed and nurtured al-Qaeda, which has evolved significantly over the years from a close-knit group of Arab Afghans to a trans-national Islamic global insurgency, dominated by more and more Pakistani militants.

American intelligence agencies believe that with a surge of motivated youth flooding towards the realm of jihad and joining al-Qaeda cadres, Pakistan remains a potential site for recruitment and training of militants as the fugitive leadership of the outfit keeps hiring local recruits with the help of their local affiliates in Pakistan. This is to bolster the manpower of al-Qaeda, which has grown from strength to strength despite the arrest and killing of hundreds of its operatives from within Pakistan since 2001.

These experts believe, despite the physical elimination of al-Qaeda founder Bin Laden, that his terrorist outfit remains a potent threat to global peace as it keeps blooming in the Pakistan-Afghanistan tribal belt. They say al-Qaeda, for all practical purposes, is now a Pakistani phenomenon as a good number of the anti-American sectarian and jihadi groups in the country have joined the terrorist network, making Pakistan the nerve center of al-Qaeda's global operations.

Investigations into the May 22, 2011, fidayeen (suicide) attack on the Mehran Naval Base in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi have revealed that it was a coordinated operation involving al-Qaeda's Waziristan-based chief operational commander from Egypt, Saif Al Adal, the outfit's top military strategists from Pakistan, Ilyas Kashmir, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban - TTP) and the Punjabi Taliban, a term used to describe the Punjab-based jihadi organizations that are opposed to, and fighting, the Pakistani state as well as the United States.

The Pakistani intelligence findings on the Mehran attack clearly demonstrate that al-Qaeda and the TTP have teamed up with the Punjabi Taliban in recent years to form a triangular syndicate of militancy, with the aim to destabilize Pakistan, whose political and military leadership has been siding with "the forces of the infidel" in the "war against terror".

Therefore, the al-Qaeda-Taliban alliance has gained an edge in Pakistan because of the support the local jihadi groups provide. Ideological ties bind al-Qaeda, the TTP and the Punjabi Taliban to throw out international forces from Afghanistan. These three jihadi entities share intelligence, human resources and training facilities, and empathize with each other as American and Pakistani forces - however strained the relationship between the two countries may be - hunt and target them. This was proven recently with the arrest of Mauritania, which was the result of collaboration between US and Pakistani intelligence agencies.

The three organizations initially came together at the time the US invaded Afghanistan post-9/11, prompting al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban to rely on local partners such as Pakistani pro-Taliban tribes, anti-US and anti-Shi'ite groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and jihadi mercenaries in Pakistani religious seminaries and jihadi groups for shelter and assistance.

The ties between local militant groups and al-Qaeda were cemented further as the Afghan Taliban's astonishing successes against the US-led allied forces prompted the US to increase drone attacks in the tribal areas and turn the heat on Pakistan to crack down on the TTP and others.

However, this "axis of evil" remains an informal alliance that is mainly meant to protect and support each member. What gave the alliance a fillip was the migration of battle-hardened Pakistani commanders from the battlefront in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir to the Waziristan region of Pakistan.

As things stand, the violence-wracked Waziristan region has become the new battlefield for the pro-Kashmir militants, who have already joined hands with the anti-US al-Qaeda elements. Information collected by Pakistani agencies shows the presence of fighters belonging to several pro-Kashmir jihadi groups, many of which have fallen out of favor with the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment, which is under tremendous pressure to stop harboring al-Qaeda-linked elements.

These groups, which include the Harkatul Jihad-al-Islami, al-Badar, Jamaatul Furqaan and renegade elements of the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Lashkar-e-Toiba, have strong connections with al-Qaeda in terms of operational collaboration and logistical support.

Veteran jihadi commanders like Kashmiri, who was reportedly killed in June in a US drone attack, were the first to adopt al-Qaeda's ideology - that the weakening of the world's only superpower, the United States, is essential for the survival of the Muslim world.

The death of Bin Laden was unquestionably a major blow to al-Qaeda. Yet, terrorism experts say long before he was killed, al-Qaeda had adapted itself to survive and operate without him, ensuring that the threat his terror network posed lived well beyond his demise.

Therefore, a decade after the US unleashed its much-trumpeted "war on terror", and despite the death of Bin Laden, there is no reason to believe that the terrorist outfit he launched more than two decades ago is anywhere near defeat.

Amir Mir is a senior Pakistani journalist and the author of several books on the subject of militant Islam and terrorism, the latest being The Bhutto murder trail: From Waziristan to GHQ.
115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 05, 2011, 10:11:18 AM
Some data porn...fryday is the big day for jihadis..

116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 31, 2011, 08:45:29 AM
Osama bin Laden : The real story? - FB Ali

The killing of bin Laden in a US Special Forces raid on a house in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad unleashed a torrent of stories about the event. The accounts by various US officials (given in bits and pieces immediately after the raid) gave little information on the details of the operation, and none on the ‘back story’. This left the field open to a lot of speculative accounts about how the raid took place and the events leading up to it. A rash of conspiracy theories also sprang up, many of which flatly denied bin Laden was even present in the house, while others put forward various versions of the Pakistani role in these events.

Recently, two accounts have been published that claim to be based on information from sources ‘in the know’ or ones who actually participated in the planning (though perhaps not the execution) of the raid. The first was a detailed account by Nicholas Schmidle in The New Yorker, based on interviews with and information provided by senior White House staff and some of the planners of the raid. This was obviously the “official” version, what the US administration would like people to believe. The second is a post on her blog by RJ Hillhouse, in which she quotes her intelligence sources on certain aspects of the raid, especially the events leading up to it.

By studying these two accounts, separating the grain from the chaff, and judiciously filling in some of the blanks, it is possible to come up with what is likely to be fairly close to the real story.


It begins with the CIA station chief in one of the Gulf states receiving an unexpected visitor with a fascinating tale. He was a recently retired senior officer of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, and he wanted to talk about Osama bin Laden. Some years ago, he said, the Saudi intelligence chief approached the ISI with the request to provide sanctuary to bin Laden within Pakistan. The Saudis said that bin Laden was prepared to come down from the hills where he was hiding, provided sufficient assurances were available about his security. In return, he would ensure that al Qaeda would not target Pakistan, and he would also limit his own involvement in its operations.

The Saudi motive behind this request presumably had to do with their internal imperatives. The bin Ladens are a very rich and influential family in Saudi Arabia. Osama and al Qaeda, and their goals, are supported by a large number of religious Saudis (even though the royal family considers them enemies). If bin Laden were to be hunted down and killed by the Americans in the tribal badlands of Pakistan, it would give the regime a black eye in the view of many of its people as well as being a serious blow to the bin Laden clan. It made sense to the Saudis to get Osama bin Laden into a safe hideout while at the same time neutralizing him as a functioning jihadi.

Whatever the Saudi motivation, their request placed the Pakistanis in a severe dilemma. The Saudis were their helpers and supporters, in fact the kingdom was their backer of last resort; they could not afford to alienate them. On the other side, bin Laden was the principal enemy and target of their current backer and ally, the United States; they could not take the risk of being caught harbouring him. The matter went right up to President Musharraf, and was the subject of much anxious debate. Finally, it was decided that the affair would be handled through one of the client jihadi outfits of the ISI, with no official involvement, thus ensuring plausible deniability in case something went wrong.

This, said the former ISI official, was how bin Laden was moved into Pakistan some years ago, and was safely harboured there. He was prepared to divulge his current location to the CIA provided he was given the reward on offer, and he and his family (accompanying him on this holiday) were securely relocated to the USA. The CIA station chief set up another meeting with the informant, and promptly relayed the information to Washington. The background check on the ISI officer having proved satisfactory, at this second meeting the station chief accepted his offer on the condition that the reward would only be paid if his information proved accurate.

When the location of bin Laden reached Langley, the CIA commenced a sophisticated, but secret, operation to verify that bin Laden did indeed live in the house in Abbottabad that their ISI informant had betrayed to them. Even before the results of this activity became available, the top security officials in the US administration began to consider actions that could be taken if his presence there was confirmed. This process quickly narrowed down the options to essentially two: a drone strike on the house, or a Special Forces raid (of the type being regularly carried out in Afghanistan against suspected insurgent leaders). When the CIA established that there was a high probability that Osama bin Laden did indeed live in the Abbottabad house, detailed planning began for both options. Their pros and cons differed so radically, however, that choosing between them was not easy.

A drone strike would involve no risk to US personnel while also reducing the loss of face for the Pakistanis and, hence, their reaction after the event. An SF raid, on the other hand, would be a risky affair. Apart from the danger of various mishaps there was a possibility of Pakistani interference, both in the air and on the ground, which would endanger not only the success of the operation but also the US personnel involved. Such an intrusion of American ‘boots on the ground’ would likely cause serious problems in relations between the two countries. The biggest difference, however, lay in the degree to which the success of the operation could be established by the administration, and generally accepted by the world when announced. A successful drone strike would show that the house was destroyed, but not whether bin Laden had been killed (the Pakistanis would never admit that he had even been there). A successful SF raid, on the other hand, would provide definitive proof.

The two options were presented to President Obama for a decision. His military advisers generally favoured the drone option, though the JSOC command was quite happy to do the raid. The ‘political’ advisers did not want to pass up this great opportunity to claim a notable success for the administration, but that would only be possible with an SF raid. Obama mulled over the choice for a few days and decided to carry out the raid ─ but with its risks minimized by getting the Pakistan military to cooperate. This set off another hectic debate among the advisers; it was finally decided that a very hard line be taken with the Pakistanis, giving them, in effect, neither the option to refuse nor any wiggle room in compliance. Leon Panetta was chosen to deliver the ultimatum: in essence, to do another ‘Armitage’ on them.

Panetta enjoyed playing the heavy with the Pakistanis (especially after their successful false emissary caper and their exploitation of the Raymond Davis affair). He told the ISI chief how the US had found out, and then confirmed, that bin Laden was being sheltered by them. The US was going to take him out; Pakistan could either help, or it would be considered an enemy of the US and treated accordingly. Backed into a corner, with their ‘plausible deniability’ in shreds, the Pakistani generals folded: they were prepared to help, but they needed a good cover story, especially for the Saudis. The US agreed to work with them on this, but demanded that knowledge of the raid be confined to a very few people at the top of the command chain, no more than necessary to ensure that any attempt by someone in the security forces to interfere with the operation would be immediately detected and quashed.

The cover story finally agreed upon was that the US had carried out a drone strike on the house (though none would in fact take place). This would account for the night-time explosions at the house, and, more importantly, provide an explanation to give to the Saudis for bin Laden’s sudden and unfortunate demise (his body having been almost obliterated by the bombs!). The US’s agreement was simply a ruse, however, in order to keep the Pakistanis cooperating; having rejected the drone option because it did not allow a definitive claim of the operation’s success, the US administration had no intention of going through with this cover story. Instead, it intended to announce the carrying out of the raid, and its momentous result, as soon as it was completed, though it is likely they planned to shift its venue to some undefined place under insurgent control so as to allow the Pakistani military some face-saving, and thus limit their adverse reaction. In the event, the helicopter crash put paid to this.

With the Pakistani military on board, the raid was launched on May 1st. Two Black Hawk helicopters with the Navy SEALs team on board took off from Jalalabad late evening and landed at the Ghazi airbase, Tarbela. This base is used by Pakistani SF (the Special Services Group), and has a US SF helicopter-training contingent stationed there. Helicopter flights into the US base area from Afghanistan are routine, and the flight of these two helicopters was cleared on the same basis. The attack on the Abbottabad target was launched from here later that night. The flying distance from Ghazi to the target is approximately 60 km (40 miles).

Even though the Pakistan army chief had agreed to allow the raid to go through without any interference, the US was not taking any chances. Schmidle describes a backup force of four Chinook helicopters, two with a backup SEALs team (which remained on the Afghan side of the border), and two as helicopter backups for the assault Black Hawks. He says that these latter two “landed at a predetermined point on a dry riverbed in a wide, unpopulated valley”. This is probably correct since, in case of a Pakistani double-cross, they would be grounded if they were to wait at the Ghazi airbase instead. One of these Chinooks was later used as the replacement for the Black Hawk that crashed at the Abbottabad house.

Schmidle’s account (and critiques of it published afterwards) dwell mostly on the details of the action inside the bin Laden compound. It doesn’t really matter how that action unfolded, though controversy over it does shift attention away from those aspects of the operation that are being kept concealed by both the US and Pakistan. The important point of these actions is that they resulted in Osama bin Laden being killed. Many conspiracy theorists refuse to accept this, but al Qaeda does, and so do the Pakistanis, who have in their custody bin Laden’s wives who witnessed the event. It may be worth commenting on a couple of the items of controversy. It doesn’t matter whether bin Laden had a weapon or not; the orders were for him to be killed. The reason why Amal al-Fatah, bin Laden’s wife who tried to protect him, was shot in the leg (DEVGRU normally just kills) was probably because the plan was to bring the wives and surviving sons back as prisoners (the loss of one of the Black Hawks forced a change there).

As for the fallout from the operation, it was, as expected, mainly on US-Pakistan relations. If the US had the intention of making it easier for the Pakistanis by fudging the site of the raid, the crashed helicopter’s tail sticking up from bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound ended that option. This stark evidence of the US incursion left the US with no option but to (in Hillhouse’s apt phrase) throw the Pakistanis under the bus. Panetta couldn’t let the opportunity pass without adding an extra kick of his own (“ they were either complicit or incompetent”). The Pakistan military lost a lot of ‘face’ internally, but had a tolerable alibi for the Saudis. Most importantly, the raid and its aftermath ended all chances of them working as allies with the US in the future; the relationship became once again purely transactional, with no trust on either side.

The United States certainly got their man but, in the process, lost Pakistan. Time will tell whether that was a good deal.

117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / G. Parthasarathy: Watch out for Afpak turbulence on: August 29, 2011, 11:49:43 PM
Watch out for Afpak turbulence G. PARTHASARATHY
With the US planning to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014, Pakistan is hoping for a Taliban takeover of the region. India should be under no illusion that it can change the jihadi mindset of Pakistan's armed forces.

The Americans intend to end active combat operations in Afghanistan after 2014, and the Pakistanis have started pondering over what life would be like after that. Optimists, particularly from the military and jihadi groups, believe that American withdrawal will lead to the fulfilment of General Zia-ul-Haq's dream of a Pakistan blessed with “strategic depth”' extending beyond the Amu Darya and into Central Asia.

Others fear that with Taliban extremism already having spread from across the Durand Line into Punjab and even Karachi, the country is headed for what author Ahmed Rashid once described as a Descent into Chaos.

The CIA report, Global Trends 2015, noted even in December 2001: “Pakistan will not recover easily from decades of economic mismanagement, divisive politics and ethnic feuds. In a climate of continuing domestic turmoil, the Central Government's control will probably be reduced to the Punjab heartland and the economic hub of Karachi.”


Pakistan's military still believes that the Americans will meet the same fate as the Soviets did when confronted with the forces of “militant Islam” from across the Durand Line. There is nothing to indicate that Rawalpindi has any intention of ending its support for either the Taliban or the Haqqani network.

Both Mullah Omar and Sirajuddin Haqqani remain implacably opposed to American proposals on political “reconciliation” in Afghanistan. Neither of them has shown any sign of ending links with the Al Zawahiri-led Al Qaeda and its Chechen and Central Asian affiliates. Moreover, the Haqqani network unabashedly supports the Islamic Movement of East Turkestan, infuriating Pakistan's “all-weather friend,” China.

Pakistan's military has believed over the past few years that with the American economy in tatters and domestic opinion becoming increasingly hostile to growing casualties overseas, the Obama Administration will quit Afghanistan, paving the way for a Taliban takeover.

Another Pakistani calculation was that given their dependence on Pakistan's logistical support for supplies to their military in Afghanistan, the Americans were in no position to take coercive measures against Pakistan. These calculations have gone awry. It was the combined costs of war in Iraq (estimated at $806 billion) and the relatively less expensive war in Afghanistan ($444 billion over a decade) that were proving unaffordable to the US taxpayer.

While Americans have lost 1,760 soldiers in Afghanistan over a decade, their high casualties in Iraq, which included 4,474 killed in action, made the war in Iraq highly unpopular. Showing some intent to thwart Pakistani blackmail and threats of blocking supply routes, the Americans now move less than 35 per cent of their supplies through Pakistan, with the rest coming across their Northern Distribution Network, assisted by Russia and the Central Asian Republics. Two years ago, over 70 per cent of American supplies were routed through Pakistan.

Whether it is on the question of the secret approval it gave to American drone attacks on Pakistan territory, even as it raised a public hue and cry on the issue, or in its policy of providing shelter to Osama bin laden in Abbottabad, while claiming to be a loyal ally on America's “War on Terror”, the duplicity of the Pakistani military stands exposed. The Pakistan army is finding it difficult to defeat its erstwhile Pashtun protégés in the Tehriq-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan. There is, therefore, little prospect of its meeting American demands to act decisively against the followers of Mullah Omar and Sirajuddin Haqqani.

With Pakistan's Generals hell bent on retaining their jihadi assets in Afghanistan, on the one hand, and the US determined to ensure that the Afpak badlands straddling the Durand Line are not infested with anti-American Jihadis, on the other, the two “major non-NATO allies” appear set on a collision course, though with pretensions of seeking mutual understanding.

The Russians have made it clear that their air-space and territory are available for American operations in Afghanistan against the Taliban, as long as they can jointly crackdown on production and smuggling of opium.

Unless there is a total meltdown in their economy, the Americans will retain a small, but significant military presence in Afghanistan, primarily for counter-terrorism, against groups operating across the Durand Line.

There are hints that their military presence in Afghanistan will also be geared to deal with any possible takeover of Pakistan's nuclear weapons by jihadi extremists, including such elements within Pakistan's much-vaunted military.

India should have no illusions that it can change the jihadi mindset of Pakistan's armed forces and should learn the right lessons from the heavy price the Americans have paid for their naiveté on the military mindset in Pakistan. The end-game in Afghanistan has only just begun.

(The author is a former High Commissioner to Pakistan.

118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 07, 2011, 07:43:56 PM
By "RajeshA"...a poster on the www.

Fighting Jihadism in Pakistan

Global Jihad Inc. and even the Local Mullah are proving very resistant to GWoT, to COIN, to the modern state's security measures.

It is a many-headed Hydra. You cut one head and another one would grow instead. The Mujahids feel they are doing Allah's work, so any opportunity to take greater responsibility in Jihad is considered a normal promotion. If the predecessor was mowed down by security agencies of a modern state, that in itself does not seem to act as an impediment. As long as they live in their new positions as commanders, they will enjoy the respect of their colleagues, other Mujahids, they will enjoy being able to put fear into the hearts of the infidel, they will enjoy their exalted position in society, which honors Mujahids who "do Allah's work"! When these Mujahids die, there are prospects of getting 72 virgins along with the virility of a 100 men to satisfy them and to relish the experience. Plus, the organization, the dawa, would ensure that their families would be looked after and would receive a monthly stipend.

There is as such from their PoV, no reason to not opt for a lifetime of service in the cause of Jihad and to become a martyr in the same cause. Considering that there is no other work, is all the more reason.

So just killing off Jihadis one by one is a never-ending task. Americans are finding that out in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Yemen, and elsewhere.

Israelis tried breaking out of this dynamic. It was considered as insufficient to simply kill off the Palestinian fighters. What the Israelis did in Gaza, was to use collective punishment on Palestinians to relent - the blockades, sanctions, withholding of tax revenues, counter-bombardment, etc. That just increased the resolve of Palestinians. The whole community felt bound by a collective destiny and so they pulled themselves together and their determination to fight and die together increased as well.

Some would use that example to prove that collective punishment does not pay.

So if killing mujahids does not pay and collective punishment does not pay, then how does one go about fighting Jihadism?

Any social dynamic is based on understandings and contracts. When these understandings and contracts are not heeded or adhered to, then the society starts falling apart - any society, even a deeply conservative society. One has to see what these understandings and contracts are. One would however notice that an outsider does not really have the ability to intervene to such a high degree, so as to ensure that social compacts are violated.

There are basically two ways:
1) Corrupt society: A community works like one big block sharing resources, sharing space and sharing secrets valuable to the security of the whole community, sharing trust. It is often not possible to change the behavior of the majority in the community in a way that the previous social compacts are not honored, but certain individuals can always be turned around. The poorer a society becomes, the more vulnerable the individuals are to being bought off by giving them some rewards. As such one can buy people's loyalty, and make them work for you against the interests and wishes of the wider society. Similarly if somebody has much to lose, in terms of wealth, then again the other one would be willing to cooperate with outside forces, and may sell out the mujahids.

The avenues of corruption need to be explored to the maximum. The challenge is of course gaining access to those individuals who would be willing to break the social compact, and be willing to trade the community's secrets and trust for some favors and rewards. Normally a community would be very alert against such turncoats and anybody acting funny would be investigated. Also punishments are always severe and quick against traitors, in Jihadized communities.

As such increased trade and interaction with the outside world, even aid organizations working in the area, all provide a better backdrop for infiltration and recruitment of possible 'traitors', a standard operating procedure for gather HUMINT.

2) Care for the Family: The choice to wage jihad comes easily as the mujahids know that after them their families would be respected and looked after properly, they will not be allowed to starve. Moreover their families would receive funds and protection from the dawa, from the tanzeems.

That is the basis of the social compact a mujahid enters into with the community, before he swears his allegiance to jihad. So the question arises, would a mujahid willingly go for Jihad if the safety of his family was not guaranteed! Now the outside world does not have any say over whether the mujahids tanzeem would make that promise, but the outside world very well has the capacity to decide whether mujahid's tanzeem would be able to keep that promise.
Outside forces can ensure a dynamic, where the potential mujahid needs to be afraid of the consequences of his decision on his faith and on the rest of his family. If there are consequences, then they should be of a nature which would really give the potential mujahid some cause for rethinking, something shocking enough for him to rethink his decision, a decision he has been told, is sanctioned by Allah himself.

Something shocking enough on the faith front for him would be say after his death his body is not turned over to his family or community but is in fact defiled in a way completely contrary to his beliefs - say fed to the pigs, or cremated.

Something shocking enough on the family front for him would be say the death of all his male offspring regardless of age, and if he doesn't have any, than those of his next of kin - his parents, his male siblings. Something shocking would be say, if his female offspring, or his female siblings were to be kidnapped and taken as women, forcibly or otherwise, by men belonging to a different faith as Islam.

Should this happen to each and every mujahid, that is either caught fighting or dies in the battlefield, or is simply identified as a fighter, then it would establish not a probability but an almost certainty in the minds of potential mujahids, about the consequences.
Moreover he should also be angry at those who suggest to him that he should become a mujahid. The argument should go something on the lines that he would be the only one making the sacrifice, while others would be sacrificing nothing.

This anger would come only only he is being asked to make this sacrifice, while the others suffer no consequences at all. That is why the above punishment should be very discriminatory. There should be no collateral damage if it can be avoided, so that the recruiters cannot claim on behalf of the community, that the war is being waged on the whole community, and they should pick the gun and do likewise. The punishment should be so surgical and discriminatory, that it is difficulty to make this argument.

The "traitors" as such can then help in ensuring that the punishment is very surgical and precise.
Thirdly, there should be people around him, who should be making the argument to him, that he should decide against becoming a mujahid, and their argument should carry more weight than those who want to push him into Jihad citing the interests of religion and community.

Here the talk is of grown up adults, possibly the brothers of a potential mujahid who talk him out of becoming a mujahid. They would make the argument only if they also share in some of the consequences spoken of earlier, should he become a mujahid. Only then would they have the motivation to speak up. They should be able to make the argument that only their family would suffer, while the others would not.

As a civilized society, we tend to think of punishments which would only dissuade one belonging to such a civilized society who prizes his freedoms and desire to be with his family, to whom prison can be insulting to his dignity, etc. etc. If however we are waging a war, then we have to think of punishments which can act as discouragement for the enemy community, and not the same laws apply.

The implementation of consequences on the dead body of a mujahid can be justified on the basis of a declaration that, "he was a terrorist, and we do not consider him a Muslim, for terrorists have no religion!"

The implementation of consequences on his family would have to be carried out extra-judiciously, using some organization which specializes only in the above, and uses HUMINT from within the community to aid them in carrying out their missions.

So if we want to wage a successful war against Jihad, we would have to rethink the basics again.
119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 07, 2011, 07:41:50 PM
On the Indian defense forum...its an article of faith that this was an ISI operation. This is not based on evidence but tons of prior experience with the MO of the ISI. Seal Team 6 caused a loss of H&D in pak, so they had a target on their back. Also of interest, in the US media no one is even discussing this as a possibility. Would be interesting to know where the weapon to hit the heli came from, and who supplied the intelligence. I find it difficult to believe the taliban got off a luck shot.
120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 06, 2011, 07:11:09 PM
While there is general jubilation on the pak defense forum (about the downed chinook), pakis being masters at spinning conspiracies..have come up with this gem.

"Oh! looks like they killed their own Navy Seals who were witnesses of the OBL raid they killed them cuz the US dont want the actual story comes out anyway that there was no OBL in Abbottabad operation.....and it was the CIA drama......looks like they wanted to wipe out the evidence........umm...... "

121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 06, 2011, 06:02:34 PM
Pakistan: Update. Hundreds of extra paramilitary troops have been deployed to Karachi where 58 people have been killed in political violence in the past five days. More than 200 people were killed last month.

Comment: The Islamabad government has exhausted its options and ideas for halting politically-motivated violence in Karachi.

Pakistan is heading for a military takeover of government, based on precedent and barring a surprise improvement in economic, law and order and social conditions. In other words, the economic and social conditions that are necessary but not sufficient conditions for a military takeover are present. The instrumental and sufficient conditions -- security force dissatisfaction with the civilian leadership and refusal to carry out lawful orders - do not yet seem present, but can appear in a short time without additional warning.
122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 06, 2011, 05:33:28 PM

US special forces Afghan helicopter downed 'by Taliban'

Thirty US troops, said to be mostly special forces, have been killed, reportedly when a Taliban rocket downed their helicopter in east Afghanistan.

Seven Afghan commandos and a civilian interpreter were also on the Chinook, officials say.

US sources say the special forces were from the Navy Seal unit which killed Osama Bin Laden, but are "unlikely" to be the same personnel.

This is the largest single US loss of life in the Afghan conflict.

The numbers of those killed have now been confirmed by the Nato-led mission in Afghanistan.

The Chinook went down in the early hours of Saturday in Wardak province, said a statement from President Hamid Karzai's office.

It was returning from an operation against the Taliban in which eight insurgents are believed to have been killed.

A senior official of President Barack Obama's administration said the helicopter was apparently shot down, Associated Press news agency reports.

An official with the Nato-led coalition in Afghanistan told the New York Times the helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Kabul says it is rare for the Taliban to shoot down aircraft.

The Taliban say they have modified their rocket-propelled grenades to improve their accuracy but that may not be true, our correspondent says.

Nato's worst Afghan moments
6 April 2005 - Chinook crash in Ghazni province kills 15 US soldiers and three civilian contractors
28 June 2005 - 16 US troops killed when Taliban bring down Chinook in Kunar province
16 August 2005 - 17 Spanish soldiers die when Cougar helicopter crashes near Herat
5 May 2006 - 10 US soldiers die after Chinook crashes east of Kabul
2 Sept 2006 - 14 UK personnel killed when RAF Nimrod explodes following mid-air refuelling
18 August 2008 - 10 French soldiers killed in Taliban ambush east of Kabul
6 August 2011 - 31 US special forces and seven Afghan soldiers killed in Chinook crash
Source: BBC and news agencies

"The president of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan expresses his sympathy and deep condolences to US President Barack Obama and the family of the victims," the statement from President Karzai said.

President Obama, too, issued a statement paying tribute to the Americans and Afghans who died in the crash.

"We will draw inspiration from their lives, and continue the work of securing our country and standing up for the values that they embodied. We also mourn the Afghans who died alongside our troops in pursuit of a more peaceful and hopeful future for their country," the statement said.

Reports say more than 20 of the US dead were Navy Seals.

A US military source has confirmed to the BBC that they were from Seal Team Six - the same unit which killed Bin Laden in Pakistan in May.

Continue reading the main story
Who are the Navy Seals?
2,500 US Navy special forces
They carry out Sea, Air and Land operations, hence their name
Origins lie in World War II
Involved in Vietnam, Panama, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen
Team Six is elite group officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group
Team Six based near Virginia Beach, members usually have five years of experience, part of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC )
The team that killed Bin Laden
However, US officials have told both they BBC and AP they do not believe that any of those who took part in the Bin Laden operation were on the downed helicopter.

The size of Team Six, an elite unit within the Seals, which is officially called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, is not known.

Several air force personnel, a dog and his handler, a civilian interpreter, and the helicopter crew were also on board, AP reports.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said it was mounting an operation to recover the helicopter and find out why it crashed. It said there had been "enemy activity in the area" where it went down.

A Taliban spokesman said insurgents had brought down the helicopter with a rocket after US and Afghan troops attacked a house in the Sayd Abad district of Wardak where insurgents were meeting late on Friday, Associated Press said.

Sayd Abad, near the province of Kabul, is known to have a strong Taliban presence.

A Wardak government spokesman quoted by AFP news agency agreed with this, saying the helicopter had been hit as it was taking off.

A local resident told the BBC Pashto service a rocket had hit the helicopter.

"What we saw was that when we were having our pre-dawn [Ramadan] meal, Americans landed some soldiers for an early raid," said Mohammad Wali Wardag.

"This other helicopter also came for the raid. We were outside our rooms on a veranda and saw this helicopter flying very low, it was hit by a rocket and it was on fire."

There are currently about 140,000 foreign troops - about 100,000 of them American - in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban insurgency and training local troops to take over security.

All foreign combat forces are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and some troop withdrawals have already taken place.

Nato has begun the process of handing over control of security in some areas to local forces, with Bamiyan becoming the first province to pass to Afghan control in mid-July.

An increase in US troop numbers last year has had some success combating the Taliban in the south of Afghanistan, but attacks in the north, which was previously relatively quiet, have picked up in recent months.
123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 06, 2011, 03:48:35 PM
Hey Ya, who is sponsoring the ETM in Pakistan?

I have not followed the ETM story very much. Two possibilities come to mind.
1. Its an independent jihadi movement based in Pak, ie Pak has lost control of them. This is what the Pak govt wants you to believe.
2. Another possibility is that with the US trying to arm twist Pak, Pak desperately needs China's support. The Chinese however have not been very enthusuiastic to replace Uncle sam, atleast interms of free $$. This is the ISI reminding the Chinese, what could be if the renmibis dont flow through. This is a standard operating procedure for the pakis, to seek protection money. The US pays protection money, the Indians do, so no reason the Chinese will be given a free pass.
3. As GM points out below...the shooting of the heli might be an ISI op...fits a pattern. ie payback for the OBL operation..especially since these were navy seals..
124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 02, 2011, 08:20:17 PM

Interesting article..
125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 25, 2011, 06:52:57 PM

the psychoanalysis of pakistan

The door creaked open as the therapist led Pakistan into the room, his clothes drenched, his hair wild, his shirt unbuttoned, his hands covered in mud. “This is the last time I see you without an appointment, Pakistan.” The therapist tried not to reward Pakistan by obliging to his unannounced visits and subsequent tantrums, but this time, she knew that there was something terribly wrong.

Pakistan lay on the couch, with the therapist sitting behind him close to the door. She dimmed the lights, giving the weathered wood paneling a bronze glow. She hadn’t known Pakistan for long, but long enough to detect a disturbing pattern. Having changed several therapists, Pakistan followed a predictable course with all of his previous shrinks — starting off in a blaze of intimacy, slowly withdrawing, reaching a point of violent confrontation and then starting over with someone else. She knew that he badly needed her to understand him, even as he erected every possible obstacle in her endeavours to do so. Every session with Pakistan was a struggle — both for the therapist, as she tried to decipher his thoughts and motivations beneath the white noise of his obscurantist denial and obsessive paranoia — and for him, as he resolutely prevented her (and himself) from reaching his innermost chambers.
The therapist had no idea just how old Pakistan was, for even by his own accounts, his birth was a matter of great dispute. Pakistan was born either in the Bronze Age when the Indus Valley Civilisation was established in Mohenjodaro. Or, in the 8th century with the arrival of Muhammad bin Qasim, the 17-year-old Arab general, who became the first man to plant the flag of Islam in the Indian Subcontinent. Along the way, he also planted seeds in the collective Jungian psyche, the shoots from which continue to surface to this day. Sometimes he claimed to be born as a reactionary ideal in 1857. His real genesis, in 1947, was corroborated by an official birth certificate. Though that might simply be the day he was separated from his Siamese twin in a rather bloody operation.

The therapist took out her file to review her notes. From session to session, Pakistan varied from bouts of extreme pride and grandiosity– touting the mark on his forehead from excessive prostration during prayer, picking fights with the toughest boys in the neighbourhood, showing off the missile tattoos on his biceps — to states of despicable self-loathing — slitting his wrists to atone for his ‘sins’, claiming to have disavowed his religion and his brethren, shooting up heroin to disassociate himself from self-reflection. It was difficult to pin a diagnosis on him. Her initial hunch was that he had manic depression, swinging from grandiosity to doom and gloom. But she couldn’t pick that diagnosis, since these personality traits had persisted since about as long as the therapist could note. She relied on what she knew of Pakistan’s life thus far to inch closer towards a diagnosis.
Pakistan’s childhood remained of great interest to the therapist. While it was a topic that Pakistan refused to confront directly, drawing from his nightmares, his rambling digressions, and notes she had received from his previous therapists, a vague picture had come together. Born on the stroke of midnight, Pakistan and his twin brother, India, had had a tumultuous childhood, resulting in frequent fights, bleeding noses and cut lips. Orphaned in his infancy with the premature death of his father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, frequently beaten by his estranged brother (who also took away Pakistan’s favourite cashmere sweater), deeply insecure due to his short stature, and lacking any sort of guiding hand, Pakistan had a tormented upbringing. Once he attacked his brother to take back his sweater but failed (though he still claims it was his brother who started that particular round of fisticuffs). To this day, Pakistan refused to acknowledge any blood relationship with his brother, claiming to be a separate entity from him.

After his companion and childhood friend, Bangla, abandoned him in the early ‘70s, instead of reflecting on the many years of neglect and abuse he had inflicted on her, Pakistan transitioned into another high of energy. His charisma won him many friends and he formed a relationship with a mysterious sheikh, who would go on to have a deep impact on him. Sheikh Al-Wahab charmed Pakistan with his white robes and his shiny Rolexes (which he would jingle whenever he wanted Pakistan’s attention). The therapist could see that Pakistan believed that the sheikh, and his devout breed of Islam, offered him a chance to reconstruct his identity … but it was a dangerous façade.
Armed with this new identity, Pakistan entered a phase of gradual psychological self-mutilation, wherein he began to erase all memories that contradicted his new self. He grew a beard, rode his pants high on his tummy and learnt Arabic, but forgot his own native tongue. In his attempt to be born anew, he began to loathe himself: his brown skin, the festivals he celebrated, and the culture he shared with his estranged brother.

Pakistan’s newly found religiosity didn’t go entirely unnoticed. In fact, Uncle Sam encouraged Pakistan’s violent streak in order to settle a score against its long time adversary by training Pakistan’s crazy cousin, Talib. With his AK-47 loaded with incendiary rounds and an even more incendiary faith, Talib, with the help of his Arab roommate, Qaeda, and Pakistan’s full backing, did for Uncle Sam what no one else could have. After the fight, when Pakistan and Talib turned around to celebrate their victory with a series of high-fives and ‘Allah-u-Akbar’ chants, Sam was nowhere to be found. All they had to show for their efforts was a crate full of Kalashnikovs, heads full of grandiose delusions and a stash of smack to ensure insight remained an unwanted guest.

Pakistan, far from smothering Talib’s zeal, channeled it to settle scores with India in his unending struggle to regain his cashmere sweater. But in his efforts to agitate Talib against India, it was Pakistan who was influenced by his oddly appealing cousin. Meanwhile, Qaeda ran out of his supply of Ritalin® and, no longer in the spotlight, grew increasingly bored in his suburban house-cave. Convinced that Sam, who no longer showered him with attention, was the root of all the evils in the neighborhood, Qaeda went to Sam’s house with his bamboo stick and poked it right into Sam’s eye. Sam, infuriated, attacked Qaeda, who had taken refuge in Talib’s house-cave next to Pakistan’s, and demanded of Pakistan that he too join him in fighting both Qaeda and Talib. Scared out of his wits by the heavily muscled and belligerent Sam, Pakistan shaved his beard and donned a suit to convince Sam that he was ‘with him, not against him’. But in his heart, Pakistan could not abandon Talib, and banking on Sam’s short attention span (possibly due to serious ADHD), hoped to be able to hold off any Public Displays of Affection with Talib until Sam’s interest fizzled out.

But Talib just didn’t get it. He began to attack Pakistan for supporting Sam. Talib and Qaeda dealt Pakistan blows the likes of which he had never received, tearing into him, ripping apart whatever was important to him. But for all the pain they inflicted on him, Pakistan blamed everyone else in the neighborhood. Unable to remove himself from his association with Talib and Qaeda, and yet fully aware of their actions, the therapist noted that Pakistan found himself more confused, more in pain, more depressed and more vulnerable, than ever before.

The therapist formulated Pakistan’s history into what she regarded as a pattern of unstable identity, unstable relationships and fearful attachments. She started crossing out all the different diagnoses she had written on her sheet including adjustment disorder, substance abuse, depression with psychotic features, dysthymia and anti-social personality disorder, until the only diagnosis un-maimed by her pen was borderline personality disorder.
And yet, even armed with this knowledge, the therapist continued to have a difficult relationship with Pakistan. She knew that this was not just because Pakistan was, to put it mildly, un-normal, for she barely knew anyone in the entire neighbourhood who was.
“What happened, Pakistan? You look terrible.”

Pakistan remained mum, looking blankly up at the ceiling. The therapist prodded on, “Why do you have mud on your hands?”
“A great flood destroyed my house. I had to dig myself out of the rubble. My cow, Rani, my princess, I couldn’t find her. The waters took her away. My crops have all run a-waste.” Pakistan spoke in a monotone, staring blankly at the ceiling. The therapist didn’t know what to feel. A part of her believed he was pre-schizophrenic, his ability to process reality crumbling slowly. Another part felt that the heroin was like a virus, forever impairing his ability to test reality. She tried to feel sympathy for him, but found herself unable to do so. “Did anyone help you out?”

“Sam helped me out, not because he cared, but because he feared that if I lost my mind a bit more, I would blow up in his face.”
The therapist carried on, without believing his entire flood story. Just a few years back he had come running to her, with an earthquake-story in which his house was leveled, and here he was again, carrying on what was now becoming a comically long list of tragedies, some real, some imagined. “Why do you think these catastrophes happen to you?”
“It is a test of my faith, or a punishment for my transgressions, I can’t seem to understand.” The therapist’s attempts at objectivity began to fail, as Pakistan’s contradictions started to amuse her. His misery became a source of mirth, rather than solemn reflection.
“What transgressions?”
“I have failed my religion and no matter how much I pray for forgiveness, Allah continues to punish me. And I continue to be Sam’s slave. I have shaved my beard and started wearing suits just so that he does not suspect me of being with Talib. But inside, I know that I am in the wrong, and that is why Allah-Almighty punishes me.”
“But haven’t these Muslim ‘brothers’, hurt you more than even those who you claim are your enemies, including your actual sibling? Look at how you’re bruised, scarred, hurt — isn’t that the work of your so-called brothers?”
“They are angry, and justified in being so.”
“So they have the right to spew hatred and commit violence, but no one else does? Why bend the rules for them? Your sheikh has taken more from you than even your worst enemies: he took away you.”
“What is that supposed to mean? I have me.”
“What me, Pakistan? What of you do you have left?” The therapist’s frail figure shook, her spectacles danced on the bridge of her nose, as she continued to unabashedly counter-transfer.
“All of me is here in front of you. Me, born to live life governed by the laws of Islam, and to vanquish the apostates who tarnish its name.”
“But how can that be! Don’t you remember that when you were born, not in the 8th Century, but in 1947, your first law minister was a Hindu, and your finance minister was an Ahmadi, a sect you now consider as worthy of murder!”
“That cannot be true! Why wouldn’t I remember it if it were so? Wait, you are right, but how…?”

The blank look left Pakistan. Suddenly, he was awash with palpable emotion. The therapist knew what was going on, a rock had been upturned, and from beneath it had scampered out a thousand repressed memories. Memories of a father who never said his prayers, who swore by his suit and his whisky, of a time when festivals were marked with kites flying in the sky rather than blood from sacrificial animals running in the streets. Clearly in pain, Pakistan held his head. He tried to get up from the couch, before falling onto his knees, his hands covering his ears, ensuring that nothing but the voice within was heard. The therapist ran to the door, but stayed on to look at Pakistan writhe as alarmed guards ran in to pin him to the ground. Her unfinished case history was still lying next to her chair in the room. She was shaking. This would be her last session with Pakistan not so much because Pakistan’s malady awoke no empathy in her anymore, but because she knew she had stepped on the wrong side of Pakistan’s split monochromic psychological spectrum of blacks and whites.

Pakistan’s search for reflection began anew; a search that he ensured was always a never-ending spiral, where the journey itself is enacted only to avoid the destination. The therapist wondered who Pakistan would be if she were to meet him after some time; she wasn’t even sure if she would recognize him. She held the notebook tightly next to her chest and walked off determined to hold on to her diagnosis, if nothing else. And yet, she knew that in spite of all that he had endured (and inflicted) he had still lived to tell the tale. A survivor and stubborn to the core, she knew he’d be back. And while he wouldn’t be pretty for his pains, she knew, irrationally, that she might just like to see him again.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, July 24th,  2011.
126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 19, 2011, 09:20:04 PM
US exposes ISI subversion of Kashmir issue; FBI

WASHINGTON: Federal authorities on Monday arrested a prominent US-based pro-Pakistan activist associated with the Kashmiri separatist movement, accusing him of funneling money from the Pakistani spy agency ISI to lobby US decision-makers.

In the process, the Obama administration's law enforcement brigade also blew open the Pakistan and its spy agency's two-decade long subversion of the so-called Kashmir cause.

The FBI swooped down on the Virginia residence of Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, a well-known representative of Kashmiri separatists in the US and detained him on charges of ''participating in a long-term conspiracy to act as agents of the Pakistani government in the United States without disclosing their affiliation with the Pakistani government as required by law.''

Or simply put, he served as a frontman for ISI's Kashmir agenda.

Another individual, Zaheer Ahmed, like Fai a US citizen, was also similarly charged, but he is at large and believed to be in Pakistan, according to US authorities.

Fai has been a familiar and prominent figure in Washington DC for nearly two decades, lobbying Kashmiri separatist cause as executive director of the Kashmiri-American Council (KAC) and dallying with senators and congressmen. US authorities now say the KAC was just an ISI front, funded by Pakistan's spy agency.

The FBI affidavit alleges that, although the KAC held itself out to be a Kashmiri organization run by Kashmiris and financed by Americans, ''it is one of three 'Kashmir Centers' that are actually run by elements of the Pakistani government, including ISI.'' The two other Kashmir Centers are in London, England, and Brussels, Belgium.

According to the affidavit, a confidential witness told investigators that he participated in a scheme to obscure the origin of money transferred by Pakistan's ISI to Fai to use as a lobbyist for the KAC in furtherance of Pakistani government interests. The witness explained that the money was transferred to Fai through Ahmad, an American living in Pakistan.

A second confidential witness told investigators that the ''ISI created the KAC to propagandize on behalf of the government of Pakistan with the goal of uniting Kashmir.'' This witness said ''ISI's sponsorship and control of KAC were secret and that ISI had been directing Fai's activities for the past 25 years.''

The FBI affidavit alleges that Fai has "acted at the direction of and with the financial support of the Pakistani government for more than 20 years." Four Pakistani government handlers have directed Fai's US. activities and Fai has been in touch with his handlers more than 4,000 times since June 2008, according to the FBI.

The affidavit also alleges that Fai repeatedly submitted annual KAC strategy reports and budgetary requirements to his Pakistani government handlers for approval. One document entitled "Plan of Action of KAC / Kashmir Center for Fiscal Year 2009" laid out Fai's intended strategy to secure US. Congressional support in order to encourage the Executive Branch to support self-determination in Kashmir; his strategy to build new alliances in the State Department, the National Security Council, the Congress and the Pentagon, and to expand KAC's media efforts.

According to the affidavit, Fai also set forth KAC's projected budgetary requirements from the Pakistani government for 2009, including $100,000 for contributions to members of Congress.

Fai and the KAC have received at least $4 million from the Pakistani government since the mid-1990s through Ahmad and his funding network, the FBI said. The money is allegedly routed to Fai through Ahmad and a network of other individuals connected to Ahmad. Ahmad allegedly arranges for his contacts in the United States to provide money to Fai in return for repayment of those amounts in Pakistan.
127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 16, 2011, 01:31:15 PM
Not having any intelligence estimates or knowing the full capabilities of US intelligence, nor what the real US interests in the region might be...its kind of difficult. But assuming the US goal is to stop terrorism, these are the broad areas that i would push for.

Put pressure on pak to act against the jihadis in N.wazoostan. Pakis will not however do this (inspite of any amount of $$), because their army is itself jihadized. The next step would be to initiate the break up Pak. Two areas are ready to secede, Balochistan and Pashtoonistan. For the prsent lets focus only on Pashtoonistan. The US should support the aspirations of the pashtoon people, who have been artificially divided by the durrand line. If the US were to support the elimination of the Durrand line, and support the unification of the pashtoon people as a part of united Afghanistan, both the Afghans as well as the Taliban in FATA/NWFP region will support this initiative, and support the US. This could lead to real nation building and peace. If you come to think of it, this is what the afghan people want, and this is also Afghanistan's gripe with Pak. Why is the US not supporting this nation building. Make this offer to the Taliban, "Give up terrorism and we give you a united Afghanistan". This is in line with what Mullah Omar wants and what the haqqani group wants. There is a minor variant of the plan, whereby the southern areas of afghanistan/NWFP fuse to form pashtoonistan, whereas N.Afghanistan remains a separate country.

Paki interests are the opposite, they want to put a razor fence on the border with Afghanistan, and the way that they are controlling the pashtoon is with a radical version of Islam. Pak is financially broke, their bank contains only about 64 tonnes of gold!, they cannot wage a war against afghanistan or anybody else for that matter. Their frontier corps is mostly pashtoon, they are not going to fight against the formation of their homeland. The pak army's punjab based corps are not going to fight on the afghan border either, because that would leave the Indian border unguarded. India can make the appropriate saber rattling noises to keep the pak army at the indian border. Pak army cannot nuke the afghan people either, because it would be nuking the ummah, or worst case the nuclear winds blow down to the plains of pakistan. Furthermore, any use of the nukes should invite a massive response from the US.

Once they lose the "tribes" as proxy for use against India, a much chastened pak can be pressurized to give up nukes. The Balochistan card can be played at this stage, one can easily force a blockade of Karachi harbor if Pak does not give up nukes. At this stage the US must be willing to use overwhelming force if the pakis dont give up nukes.
128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 16, 2011, 10:14:13 AM
India is not a leader in biotech...but all industries are improving in India. More of contract manufacturing of generics. from a semi sane Paki..

The military strategists of America who want to "save" Afghanistan from their Al-Qaeda enemy and the military establishment of Pakistan which wants to "secure" Afghanistan for its Taliban "assets", have both got it tragically wrong. If they insist on having it their exclusive way, they will lose both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Consider.

America's strategy in the run-up to the Afghan end-game is inconsistent and contradictory. Ten years after 9/11, with $1 trillion down the drain, Afghan "nationhood" is out, counter-insurgency is being substituted with counter-terrorism, troop surges with troop draw downs, and not all good Taliban are dead ones. So key Taliban leaders have to be targeted by drones in order to soften up their resistance and make them amenable to a US-sponsored power-sharing arrangement in Kabul. But this strategic direction-change is tripping up for two reasons.

First, the post-2014 "Base-Afghanistan" envisioned by Washington is critically based on two factors which are eroding faster than they are being consolidated. The first is the failure to build a reliable Afghan National Army that can do America's bidding - Taliban infiltration has made it an unreliable future adjunct. The second is America's inability to create a viable puppet regime of strongmen that can capture space and sustain stability - as testified by the assassination of the police head of Northern Afghanistan, General Dawood Dawood, two months ago, and that of Hamid Karzai's powerful, alliance-building brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, this week, followed by the abortive attempt on the life of the Home Minister, Bismillah Mohammadi, the same day. America's man in Kabul, Hamid Karzai, has never been more vulnerable as he is now.

The second is a continuing failure to persuade Pakistan's defense establishment to help knock out the core Al-Qaeda-Taliban trouble-makers in FATA. A carrot-and-stick policy that is based on "peanuts-for-aid" ($800 million for Pakistan in the last two years out of $3 billion pledged, as compared to $200 billion spent in Afghanistan in the same period) and largely ignores or denies Pakistan's legitimate security concerns in post-America Afghanistan (the need for a stable if not fully "friendly" Afghanistan on its western border) has failed to deliver. They want more aid, $$ comment American unaccountability and unilateralism has fueled anti-Americanism in Pakistan following the Raymond Davis affair, the OBL raid in Abbottabad and the surge in drone strikes in FATA, putting the Pakistani military on the spot in the public eye. Now American impatience and arrogance - the attack on the ISI (publicly blamed for journalist Saleem Shahzad's murder) and its chief General Pasha ("sack him", says the New York Times) - and the decision to formally "announce" a "suspension" in $800 million in overdue US aid and compensation for the Pakistan military's big effort against the Pakistani Taliban, has added insult to injury.

Pakistan's strategy of continuing to obsess about India and making it an element of the future Afghan matrix on the basis of its Taliban "assets" is also coming a cropper. These Taliban "assets" were problematic even during Mullah Umar's reign from 1996-2001 when they refused to recognize the Durand Line as the international border with Pakistan, refused to kick out radical Islamic sectarian elements belonging to the Sipah Sahaba and Lashkar Jhangvi, and refused to break relations with Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda even though they were plotting against both America and Pakistan. These same Afghan Taliban "assets" have since networked with Al-Qaeda in FATA to give birth to and sustain the Pakistani Tehreek-i-Taliban which has exacted a toll of 35,000 Pakistan civilians and over 3000 Pakistani soldiers in Swat and South Waziristan in the last two years. As the murdered journalist and insider, Saleem Shahzad, noted, the real aim of the Al-Qaeda-Taliban network is to infiltrate the Pakistani state, plunge it into conflict with India (new Mumbais), erode the army's fighting capacity by de-motivating its rank and file, seize control of its nuclear weapons and transform its territory as a base area for world Islamic revolution. On the basis of Mullah Umar's past record, the Haqqani network's current liaison with Al-Qaeda, and Al-Qaeda's future ambitions, the Pakistan military's rigid protection of such assets is souring its longer term "strategic" relationship with the international community in general and America in particular. This is something it can ill-afford, given its trade and aid dependency on the West.

Pakistan and America should put their interests and concerns squarely on the table and abstain from airing their political differences or applying countervailing pressures through the media. America's carrot-and-stick policy won't yield dividends with Pakistan just as Pakistan's "double-game" breaches the trust red-line and mocks its "strategic" relations with America. Washington's plans for Afghanistan must not exclude Mullah Umar and the Haqqani network just as Islamabad's plans must not be exclusively based on them. In fact, America and Pakistan must not stake their all on the end-game in Afghanistan because its final outcome holds no guarantees for either of them.
129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 16, 2011, 09:47:48 AM
The thing is that the taliban are against vaccination any way, and Pak is one of the few countries in the world with a high polio rate. One can safely assume that vaccinations will reduce markedly in Pak...

CIA organised fake vaccination drive to get Osama bin Laden's family DNA
Senior Pakistani doctor who organised vaccine programme in Abbottabad arrested by ISI for working with US agents

Saeed Shah in Abbottabad,    Monday 11 July 2011 19.59 BST

CIA organised fake vaccination programme in Abbottabad to try and find Osama bin Laden. Photograph: Md Nadeem/EPA
The CIA organised a fake vaccination programme in the town where it believed Osama bin Laden was hiding in an elaborate attempt to obtain DNA from the fugitive al-Qaida leader's family, a Guardian investigation has found.

As part of extensive preparations for the raid that killed Bin Laden in May, CIA agents recruited a senior Pakistani doctor to organise the vaccine drive in Abbottabad, even starting the "project" in a poorer part of town to make it look more authentic, according to Pakistani and US officials and local residents.

The doctor, Shakil Afridi, has since been arrested by the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) for co-operating with American intelligence agents.

Relations between Washington and Islamabad, already severely strained by the Bin Laden operation, have deteriorated considerably since then. The doctor's arrest has exacerbated these tensions. The US is understood to be concerned for the doctor's safety, and is thought to have intervened on his behalf.

The vaccination plan was conceived after American intelligence officers tracked an al-Qaida courier, known as Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, to what turned out to be Bin Laden's Abbottabad compound last summer. The agency monitored the compound by satellite and surveillance from a local CIA safe house in Abbottabad, but wanted confirmation that Bin Laden was there before mounting a risky operation inside another country.

DNA from any of the Bin Laden children in the compound could be compared with a sample from his sister, who died in Boston in 2010, to provide evidence that the family was present.

So agents approached Afridi, the health official in charge of Khyber, part of the tribal area that runs along the Afghan border.

The doctor went to Abbottabad in March, saying he had procured funds to give free vaccinations for hepatitis B. Bypassing the management of the Abbottabad health services, he paid generous sums to low-ranking local government health workers, who took part in the operation without knowing about the connection to Bin Laden. Health visitors in the area were among the few people who had gained access to the Bin Laden compound in the past, administering polio drops to some of the children.

Afridi had posters for the vaccination programme put up around Abbottabad, featuring a vaccine made by Amson, a medicine manufacturer based on the outskirts of Islamabad.

In March health workers administered the vaccine in a poor neighbourhood on the edge of Abbottabad called Nawa Sher. The hepatitis B vaccine is usually given in three doses, the second a month after the first. But in April, instead of administering the second dose in Nawa Sher, the doctor returned to Abbottabad and moved the nurses on to Bilal Town, the suburb where Bin Laden lived.

It is not known exactly how the doctor hoped to get DNA from the vaccinations, although nurses could have been trained to withdraw some blood in the needle after administrating the drug.

"The whole thing was totally irregular," said one Pakistani official. "Bilal Town is a well-to-do area. Why would you choose that place to give free vaccines? And what is the official surgeon of Khyber doing working in Abbottabad?"

A nurse known as Bakhto, whose full name is Mukhtar Bibi, managed to gain entry to the Bin Laden compound to administer the vaccines. According to several sources, the doctor, who waited outside, told her to take in a handbag that was fitted with an electronic device. It is not clear what the device was, or whether she left it behind. It is also not known whether the CIA managed to obtain any Bin Laden DNA, although one source suggested the operation did not succeed.

Mukhtar Bibi, who was unaware of the real purpose of the vaccination campaign, would not comment on the programme.

Pakistani intelligence became aware of the doctor's activities during the investigation into the US raid in which Bin Laden was killed on the top floor of the Abbottabad house. Islamabad refused to comment officially on Afridi's arrest, but one senior official said: "Wouldn't any country detain people for working for a foreign spy service?"

The doctor is one of several people suspected of helping the CIA to have been arrested by the ISI, but he is thought to be the only one still in custody.

Pakistan is furious over being kept in the dark about the raid, and the US is angry that the Pakistani investigation appears more focused on finding out how the CIA was able to track down the al-Qaida leader than on how Bin Laden was able to live in Abbottabad for five years.

Over the weekend, relations were pummelled further when the US announced that it would cut $800m (£500m) worth of military aid as punishment for Pakistan's perceived lack of co-operation in the anti-terror fight. William Daley, the White House chief of staff, went on US television on Sunday to say: "Obviously, there's still a lot of pain that the political system in Pakistan is feeling by virtue of the raid that we did to get Osama bin Laden, something the president felt strongly about and we have no regrets over."

The CIA refused to comment on the vaccination plot.
130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 16, 2011, 09:40:31 AM
Yes there will be consequences to a US withdrawl, but unless the US is willing to tackle Pak and focus on Pak....its not worthwhile to stay in Afghanistan, IMHO.  The paki contribution to US body bags needs to be stopped, or we should come back. The other important development that is only briefly alluded to are the voices suggesting division of Afghanistan. The handling of the Pashtoon "problem", ie the artificial demarcation by the Durrand line, is key to controlling Pak. Its not Kashmir which many westerners and Pak keeps alluding to. Even the Kashmiris in Pak occupied Kashmir dont want to merge with Pak, leave alone those from India. I anticipate, in the coming year(s), this issue will gain more interest and comment in the media. Pakistan is scared $hit, as to what will happen if the pashtoons unite on both side of the Durrand line.

Made in US disaster
July 05, 2011   11:18:33 PM

Ashok K Mehta

As the Americans flounder for an exit from the Afghan mess, India must be prepared for a precipitate and irresponsible US withdrawal.

The multiple suicide attack last week against Hotel Intercontinental perched on a hillock on the western edge of Kabul when Provincial Governors were meeting to chart out Afghanisation’s security reflects holes in capability of the Afghan National Security Forces. Not a single battalion of the Army can operate independently.

I stayed at the Intercontinental last year for a conference and wondered how the Taliban might storm the hotel. Of the three security checks along the road two were lightly held with armed guards. The third with X-ray machines was virtually in the hotel. But the rest of the area seemed uncovered, especially the slopes to the hill top. That’s where they came from and not along the road. The Taliban are both great improvisers and innovators, routinely springing new tricks and not afraid to die.

This setback will not derail the phased withdrawal beginning this month of the 33,000 US surge troops who will be out in 15 months. The remaining 70,000 troops are to deinduct by 2014. The politically choreographed drawdown is premised on preservation of gains of the surge. America’s Nato partners, except the UK, have earlier exit schedules which are to be finalised at the Chicago Nato summit next year.

US President Barack Obama’s 13-minute speech outlining the withdrawal marks the end of phase one of the war, a shift from counter-insurgency to counter-terrorism and from combat to combat support of the ANSF. The new US counter-terrorism strategy document released last week lays emphasis on raids and drone strikes.

The illusion of success has been buoyed by the dramatic elimination of Osama bin Laden and the annihilation of the Al Qaeda leadership, whereas opposition to foreign forces is from Al Qaeda’s affiliates, the Taliban. They too, have been degraded, some 2000 killed (700 middle-level commanders) and 4,000 captured, but nearly 80 per cent were civilians. Mr Obama characterised these ephemeral gains as “tide of war receding and drawdown from a position of strength”.

The core of Mr Obama’s assessment was embedded in two stark admissions: “We will not try to make Afghanistan a perfect place” and “nation-building has to be done at home facing rising debt and hard economic times”. The war cost of $12 billion annually and 30 to 40 body bags (in June there were 44) with nearly twice that number wounded monthly is politically unsustainable.

So how does Mr Obama hope to reduce American footprint, withdraw responsibly and leave behind a minimally stable Afghanistan? The key to transition — two small provinces and five urban centres, including Kabul, are to be handed over starting this month — is a capable and motivated ANSF. By October 2011, the Army will be 170,000-strong, to reach 240,000 by next year, optimally equipped with Nato class of weapons. Currently 70,000, the police force will increase to 130,000 but is terribly under-resourced. Too many countries are involved in their training and confusion obtains on whether it is to be CIS or policing. Interestingly, Pakistan’s hopes of a weak and sterile ANSF may turn out to be real.

A political settlement entailing power-sharing with the Taliban requires reintegration and reconciliation. Reintegration has proved more successful than reconciliation with nearly 2,000 rank and file Taliban reportedly brought overground. Response to reconciliation has been tardy despite claims of conversations with Mullah Omar’s aides, including some Taliban imposters. Here, too, many countries are involved: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK and Germany which is coordinating the talks.

Mullah Omar has posted in mosques in southern Afghanistan warnings of death to anyone who talks to the Government. And why will Pakistan, which wants to be part of the solution and not the problem, be left out of reconciliation, as it has been so far? In February 2010, Quetta Shura’s number two, Mullah Biradar, was arrested in Karachi by the ISI and Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha has ensured Mullah Omar’s relocation after the Osama bin Laden plucking. Both former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have said the Taliban will not engage in serious and fruitful talks. The Afghans feel that for serious reconciliation the surge has to continue — otherwise even if an agreement is reached its implementation is unlikely.

Against this background the recently established Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Commission on Reconciliation and Joint Task Force on Infiltration are as good as the India-Pakistan Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism: Good only for the joint statement. Similarly, at the counter-terrorism summit in Tehran last week, the Presidents of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan resolved to collectively fight militancy and oppose foreign interference — both aspirational goals.

The third element of the US exit strategy is turning the focus of operations from Afghanistan to Pakistan, reversing AfPak to PakAf, to neutralise Taliban sanctuaries inside Pakistan. In 2001, Pakistan was the base for the American war in Afghanistan; now it could be the opposite.

Cajoling and coercing Pakistan to act against its strategic assets will be the trickiest bit. Already the reverse is happening. Pakistan has asked the US to withdraw its trainers, close down drone bases, recall CIA operatives and the whole works. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is very angry the Army’s nose has been rubbed on the ground after the Osama bin Laden episode. He’s under extreme pressure from the conclave of Corps Commanders, political opposition and the public to punish the Americans.

As Pakistan is unlikely to cooperate easily, the frequency of drone attacks from Afghanistan will increase, prompting Islamabad to take up the legality of cross-border aerial attacks with Kabul and, who knows, the UN too. With US-Pakistan relations plummeting, training and capability of the ANSF under a cloud and good governance and a political settlement out of sight, Mr Obama’s exit strategy is as unworkable as Mr Henry Kissinger’s latest prescription in The International Herald Tribune: A ceasefire, withdrawal, coalition Government and an enforcing mechanism.

Already voices in the US suggest accelerated transition and division of Afghanistan if necessary. While the Americans are barking up the wrong tree, India must be prepared for a precipitate and irresponsible US withdrawal. Afghans want India to punch up to its weight without being inhibited by American and Pakistani sensitivities to a more proactive role. India must engage the Taliban and offer to equip and train the ANSF. But Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said last week in Washington, DC that India will not get involved in a security role. A rethink is required as was done on reintegration and reconciliation.
131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 15, 2011, 09:51:54 PM

Why My Father Hated India
Aatish Taseer, the son of an assassinated Pakistani leader, explains the history and hysteria behind a deadly relationship

Ten days before he was assassinated in January, my father, Salman Taseer, sent out a tweet about an Indian rocket that had come down over the Bay of Bengal: "Why does India make fools of themselves messing in space technology? Stick 2 bollywood my advice."

My father was the governor of Punjab, Pakistan's largest province, and his tweet, with its taunt at India's misfortune, would have delighted his many thousands of followers. It fed straight into Pakistan's unhealthy obsession with India, the country from which it was carved in 1947.

Though my father's attitude went down well in Pakistan, it had caused considerable tension between us. I am half-Indian, raised in Delhi by my Indian mother: India is a country that I consider my own. When my father was killed by one of his own bodyguards for defending a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, we had not spoken for three years.

To understand the Pakistani obsession with India, to get a sense of its special edge—its hysteria—it is necessary to understand the rejection of India, its culture and past, that lies at the heart of the idea of Pakistan. This is not merely an academic question. Pakistan's animus toward India is the cause of both its unwillingness to fight Islamic extremism and its active complicity in undermining the aims of its ostensible ally, the United States.

The idea of Pakistan was first seriously formulated by neither a cleric nor a politician but by a poet. In 1930, Muhammad Iqbal, addressing the All-India Muslim league, made the case for a state in which India's Muslims would realize their "political and ethical essence." Though he was always vague about what the new state would be, he was quite clear about what it would not be: the old pluralistic society of India, with its composite culture.

Iqbal's vision took concrete shape in August 1947. Despite the partition of British India, it had seemed at first that there would be no transfer of populations. But violence erupted, and it quickly became clear that in the new homeland for India's Muslims, there would be no place for its non-Muslim communities. Pakistan and India came into being at the cost of a million lives and the largest migration in history.

This shared experience of carnage and loss is the foundation of the modern relationship between the two countries. In human terms, it meant that each of my parents, my father in Pakistan and my mother in India, grew up around symmetrically violent stories of uprooting and homelessness.

Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, in May 2009. He was assassinated in January 2011.

But in Pakistan, the partition had another, deeper meaning. It raised big questions, in cultural and civilizational terms, about what its separation from India would mean.

In the absence of a true national identity, Pakistan defined itself by its opposition to India. It turned its back on all that had been common between Muslims and non-Muslims in the era before partition. Everything came under suspicion, from dress to customs to festivals, marriage rituals and literature. The new country set itself the task of erasing its association with the subcontinent, an association that many came to view as a contamination.

Had this assertion of national identity meant the casting out of something alien or foreign in favor of an organic or homegrown identity, it might have had an empowering effect. What made it self-wounding, even nihilistic, was that Pakistan, by asserting a new Arabized Islamic identity, rejected its own local and regional culture. In trying to turn its back on its shared past with India, Pakistan turned its back on itself.

But there was one problem: India was just across the border, and it was still its composite, pluralistic self, a place where nearly as many Muslims lived as in Pakistan. It was a daily reminder of the past that Pakistan had tried to erase.

Pakistan's existential confusion made itself apparent in the political turmoil of the decades after partition. The state failed to perform a single legal transfer of power; coups were commonplace. And yet, in 1980, my father would still have felt that the partition had not been a mistake, for one critical reason: India, for all its democracy and pluralism, was an economic disaster.

Pakistan had better roads, better cars; Pakistani businesses were thriving; its citizens could take foreign currency abroad. Compared with starving, socialist India, they were on much surer ground. So what if India had democracy? It had brought nothing but drought and famine.

But in the early 1990s, a reversal began to occur in the fortunes of the two countries. The advantage that Pakistan had seemed to enjoy in the years after independence evaporated, as it became clear that the quest to rid itself of its Indian identity had come at a price: the emergence of a new and dangerous brand of Islam.

As India rose, thanks to economic liberalization, Pakistan withered. The country that had begun as a poet's utopia was reduced to ruin and insolvency.

The primary agent of this decline has been the Pakistani army. The beneficiary of vast amounts of American assistance and money—$11 billion since 9/11—the military has diverted a significant amount of these resources to arming itself against India. In Afghanistan, it has sought neither security nor stability but rather a backyard, which—once the Americans leave—might provide Pakistan with "strategic depth" against India.

In order to realize these objectives, the Pakistani army has led the U.S. in a dance, in which it had to be seen to be fighting the war on terror, but never so much as to actually win it, for its extension meant the continuing flow of American money. All this time the army kept alive a double game, in which some terror was fought and some—such as Laskhar-e-Tayyba's 2008 attack on Mumbai—actively supported.

The army's duplicity was exposed decisively this May, with the killing of Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad. It was only the last and most incriminating charge against an institution whose activities over the years have included the creation of the Taliban, the financing of international terrorism and the running of a lucrative trade in nuclear secrets.

This army, whose might has always been justified by the imaginary threat from India, has been more harmful to Pakistan than to anybody else. It has consumed annually a quarter of the country's wealth, undermined one civilian government after another and enriched itself through a range of economic interests, from bakeries and shopping malls to huge property holdings.

The reversal in the fortunes of the two countries—India's sudden prosperity and cultural power, seen next to the calamity of Muhammad Iqbal's unrealized utopia—is what explains the bitterness of my father's tweet just days before he died. It captures the rage of being forced to reject a culture of which you feel effortlessly a part—a culture that Pakistanis, via Bollywood, experience daily in their homes.

This rage is what makes it impossible to reduce Pakistan's obsession with India to matters of security or a land dispute in Kashmir. It can heal only when the wounds of 1947 are healed. And it should provoke no triumphalism in India, for behind the bluster and the bravado, there is arid pain and sadness.
132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 15, 2011, 09:37:59 PM

As predicted a  few posts back, "In the next few days, the US will call India to exercise restraint, and the indians will fume in impotent rage for a while....pakis will say india may attack and they need to protect the Indian border as opposed to the Afghan border, unless ofcourse US pays the 800 million$ predictable."  
133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 13, 2011, 08:49:32 PM
Calling Pakistan's Bluff On Aid
Posted 07/12/2011 06:35 PM ET
War On Terror: Washington finally has done what it should have done years ago: deny aid to Islamabad unless it can show its cooperation is more than just a facade to milk the U.S. for more cash.

After Pakistan ordered U.S. military trainers out of the country — in retaliation for the clandestine raid on Osama bin Laden's compound — the administration held back $800 million in aid to the Pakistani military.

The cut amounts to only a third of promised aid this year. And it was measured. The lack of trainers means that planned U.S. equipment can't be put into service, reducing some of the needed aid.

The reaction from Islamabad was predictable. Its defense minister threatened to pull back troops from border areas where Islamist militants are active.

But Pakistan already has failed to deploy troops to the region as the U.S. has requested, which is another reason aid was withheld.

About $300 million from the trimmed aid was intended to reimburse Pakistan for the cost of deploying troops along the Afghan border.

Pakistan wasn't through huffing and bluffing. It said the financial snub would only push it into the arms of its "all-weather friend," China.

But it's already there. In fact, there is evidence U.S. aid has been fueling a dangerous nuclear pact between Pakistan and China.

At a cost of $2.4 billion, Islamabad is buying two 635-megawatt reactors from Beijing for its plutonium production complex at Chasma.

These are military reactors with the capability of adding 24 nuclear weapons a year to Pakistan's existing arsenal of some 90.

There's no explanation for how impoverished Pakistan is paying for these weapons-grade reactors except for the $20 billion in aid the U.S. has blank-checked Islamabad since 9/11. So it's fairly clear we are subsidizing the deal — against U.S. interests in the region, as well as the world.

Pakistan has led one of the most dangerous nuclear smuggling rings ever disclosed, stretching from North Korea to Iran and possibly to Saudi Arabia.

There is also evidence the Pakistani military is diverting U.S. aid to supply the Taliban with weapons and direct cash payments.

According to one report, Pakistani intelligence pays Taliban insurgents $2,000 for every IED bomb they plant, $2,000 for every Afghan army soldier they kill, $10,000 for every American soldier they kill, and $20,000 to the family of suicide bombers.

Still, a former Pakistani ambassador claims suspending aid will end up hurting Washington more than Islamabad.

"It will strengthen those elements in the armed forces that have always had grave misgivings of the relationship with the United States," Tariq Fatemi warned.

Sorry, that bluff is equally weak. Their armed forces are already seriously compromised.

A noted Pakistani journalist recently detailed a "sizable al-Qaida infiltration" within the Pakistani military.

"No one can separate Islam and Islamic sentiment from the armed forces of Pakistan," Syed Shahzad quoted a senior Pakistani military official saying in his investigative story for the Asia Times.

Days after he published his report in May, Shahzad's tortured body was discovered. Last week, U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pakistani government "sanctioned" the killing of the reporter.

More than 180 recently leaked intelligence files detail allegations that Pakistani intelligence has been aiding the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Support includes plots to train suicide bombers, smuggle surface-to-air missiles across the border, bomb the Indian Embassy in Kabul, and assassinate President Hamid Karzai and members of his administration.

U.S. officials say Pakistan provides direct support to two major groups carrying out attacks in Afghanistan: the Taliban based in Quetta, Pakistan, and the Haqqani group operating out of Pakistan's tribal region.

It's plain that Islamabad is playing both sides of the war on terror. Hold back the other two-thirds in aid.
134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 13, 2011, 08:34:14 PM
This (Mumbai bombing) was completely expected. So the game goes like this...
Uncle Sam is tightening the screws on the purelanders to do more with respect to AQ, as well as to mount an operation in N.Wazoostan. Pakis wont do it, because its against their national interests vis a vis India. So Uncle sam decided to withold funds (800 mill$), in response pakis threaten to withdraw troops from their  border with Afghanistan/FATA. Infact pakis have absolutely zero interest in doing uncle sam's bidding, because of the many jihadis who are members of the pak army. The problem is that the US does not want pakis to withdraw from the NWFP/FATA area, and if they withdraw, uncle sam will get even more pi$$ed off. So the only approach left for pak is to foment trouble in India via its proxies. They hope India will respond, or threaten to respond, which will allow pakis to withdraw from the afghan border to the border with India.

In the next few days, the US will call India to exercise restraint, and the indians will fume in impotent rage for a while....pakis will say india may attack and they need to protect the Indian border as opposed to the Afghan border, unless ofcourse US pays the 800 million$ predictable.
135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 12, 2011, 07:23:35 PM
This comes under the "`Commando` bodyguards against governors" category pf jihad.  evil

All over the region, the bodyguards are becoming suspect. The elites are sweating...there has been talk of hiring foreign body guards, since the locals cant be trusted. Soon the elites may start to leave the country (Pak)...once that happens the jihadis have won.
136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 09, 2011, 05:46:41 PM
If you are trying to understand the situation in Pak and having difficulty...and wondering why the US govt does not have a coherent policy..

Quotable from the web..
"The list of all who have declared Jihad in Pakistan against who all. Its not complete.
Muslims against Jews, Christians and Hindus.
Sunnis against Shias, Ahmedis and Sufis.
Shias against Sunnis.
Pashtoons against Mohajirs.
Mohajirs against Pashtoons.
`Commando` bodyguards against governors.
Taliban against Pakistan Army.
Pakistan Army against Taliban.
Pakistan Army against Balochi insurgents.
Pakistan army against terrorists.
Pakistan against USA, India and Israel.
Taliban against USA and India.
LeT/Al/Qaeda/JeM against the rest of the world.
Lashkar e Jhangvi against Shias........
....Pakistan is the first muslim country to have achieved such a comprehensive list of Jihaad declarations ."
137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 09, 2011, 05:14:04 PM
JDN and others, thanks.

Here's some interesting stuff, about AQ Khan the nuclear proliferator, note in particular the link to NK letter.

If you are wondering, about the body, the story is here..

and this too
138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 01, 2011, 08:24:41 PM
Even Colbert gets it..
139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 26, 2011, 09:50:49 AM
Obama puts the heat on Pakistan
By Karamatullah K Ghori

When the head of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) directorate of the Pakistan military makes a clean breast, as he did on June 21, that a serving brigadier of the army at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi is in detention on charges of having links with an extremist religious organization, one has to believe that something very serious must be wrong in the military.

Another announcement from the ISPR, a day later, added four majors of the army to the brigadier's column. These four, however, are merely being questioned and not detained, at least not yet.

The Pakistan military is an exclusive club that doesn't let out much information about itself unless there's an overwhelming reason for it. And the current period in time is, no doubt, one such phase when a lot has happened that the denizens of this elitist club may never have wished to see.

The series of humiliations kicked off in early May with the embarrassment of Abbottabad and the macabre siege of the naval base Mehran, in Karachi, and shows little sign of abating.

As the sweltering heat in the plains of Pakistan is getting closer to making room for the annual monsoons - with the likelihood of another visitation of floods engulfing the country - dark clouds ominously dot the horizon for the army.

The open season that opposition politicians, led by two-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, have declared on the military's bloated but unwelcome role in governance is enough to test its resilience. And now United States President Barack Obama, too, has waded in to make the challenge even more onerous for the generals at GHQ.

Obama's June 22 speech from the White House - in which he announced the commencement of his promised drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan in July this year and phased over the next three years - contains a list of veiled demands and warnings for Pakistan, particularly its military.

To Obama, the thinning of the American combat presence in Afghanistan doesn't mean any dilution of his firm resolve to keep up the pressure on al-Qaeda and its militant comrades. He complimented Pakistan's efforts that, together with the American punch, have led to more than half of al-Qaeda's top brass being eliminated. However, he left no room for doubt that as long as he was in command, there would be no sanctuary for terrorists, anywhere.

That's where Pakistan and the role of its military take on a pivotal position in Obama's estimation. He was quite categorical that there would be no "safe havens for al-Qaeda". That was a loud and clear message for Pakistan to ensure there are no hide-outs for al-Qaeda and its fellow-travellers in the "no man's land" of Pakistan's tribal belt straddling Afghanistan.

It's an old but persistent demand of the Americans for the Pakistan army to do in its North Waziristan tribal area what it did in South Waziristan. The Pakistan army - for a variety of reasons - has been stalling on that demand. But Obama sounded more insistent and resolute than ever before. Indeed, his confidence has climbed since US special forces killed al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in his hideout not far from a military compound in Abbottabad. So he hardly minced his words in articulating that "we will insist" that Pakistan keeps its commitments.

It's easy for Obama to pile pressure on Pakistan, coupled with barely disguised warnings that if Pakistan didn't, then he would go about it on his own, which in simple words means another Abbottabad-like solo operation.

However, the relentless demands from Obama for the Pakistan army to do still more - with himself holding a gun to its head, is a catch-22 dilemma for the generals. The price Obama could exact from them and the country is enormous.

The latest survey by the Washington-based Pew research in Pakistan in the wake of Bin Laden's demise finds that 67% of Pakistanis questioned, a solid majority, don't think the "war on terror" is Pakistan's war. A fresh incursion by the army into North Waziristan to oblige the Americans could only trigger wider public uproar, which would be hard to stomach for an army leadership already forced onto the back foot.

The Pakistan army's operation in South Waziristan has already brought a massive spike in acts of terrorism that has taken a heavy toll of public life. Another Quixotic venture would inevitably add fuel to a burning fire and push the country to the brink of anarchy.

In a nutshell, Pakistan could slide into civil war, given an already super-charged tension in its political culture, where tolerance of any kind is at a heavy premium.

On top of that, Pakistan is wary of the talks that Washington has been carrying on for some time with the Afghan Taliban behind its back. Keeping Pakistan out of the loop has only one meaning for Islamabad: the Obama administration doesn't trust it enough to make it a party to the parleys, which could have far-reaching consequences for Pakistan, more than any other neighbor of Afghanistan.

Islamabad is also feeling increasingly leery of the traction that the so-called Blackwill formula - to divide Afghanistan along ethnic lines into a Pashtun south and a non-Pashtun north - is apparently receiving in top echelons of the Obama administration.

There's near-consensus in Pakistan's intellectual community, and policymakers, that the author of this prescription, Robert Blackwill, has absorbed a lot of Indian input into his brain wave. Blackwill was George W Bush's ambassador to India from 2001 to 2003.
Pakistan's intellectual community also fears Obama's drawdown of forces, spread over three years, is calibrated to allow the Blackwill plan ample opportunity to take root in Afghanistan.

A divided Afghanistan would not only denude Pakistan of its strategic depth, vis-a-vis India, but may also become a cause for the Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line, the poorly marked border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, to unite. Such unity could only mean further dismemberment of Pakistan and open up a Pandora's box. Pakistan simply can't countenance such an outcome and will pull no punches to thwart it.

Karamatullah K Ghori is a former career ambassador of Pakistan whose diplomatic assignments took him to the United States, Argentina, Japan, China, The Philippines, Algeria, Kuwait, Iraq, Macedonia and Turkey.
140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 26, 2011, 09:42:28 AM
From Night watch..

NightWatch has continued to track data in detail for all 400 districts of Afghanistan every other month and spot checked fighting reports in between. Preliminary analysis of the data for May 2011 was completed today. The table below shows the data from three tracking measures since last November.

See table:

What do these data  signify?

First the "media expert" thesis that the Taliban have a fighting season that ends in winter is a fantasy. During each of the past three winters Taliban and other anti-government fighters increased their level of activity, reducing their operations only briefing for weather, as in January 2009. Winter weather imposes no lasting impediment to anti-government operations in the core provinces of the insurgency.

The Taliban did begin an offensive in May 2011, as announced. The number of security incidents in May reached an all-time high despite a brief dip in activity in late May apparently because of rumors that Mullah Omar was missing or deceased.

The number of districts experiencing security incidents was at an all-time high, despite the increase in US forces. The mix of districts has changed, indicating the anti-government fighters moved, rather than confront overwhelming US force. This explains the multiple reports of successfully cleared districts that have returned to normality while the overall number of security incidents increased.

About 200 of the 400 Afghan districts have Pashtun majorities or significant Pashtun minority populations. Any monthly total number of districts experiencing security incidents that exceeds 200 means the Taliban have acquired support or tolerance from non-Pashtun populations.

The May 2011 number of districts experiencing security incidents represents two-thirds of all districts, and is the highest number since the Taliban resurgence began in 2006. Much of this increase  in reach is in districts north of Kabul.

The number of incidents is partly a function of increased US operations during the surge, but the Taliban are almost always present to shoot back. There also has been a noticeable spike in the use of improvised explosive devices, the most effective Taliban weapons.

The anti-government fighters waste lots of ammunition and explosives, but never seem to lack for supplies for long. Afghanistan makes no ammunition and no explosives. Almost all come from Pakistan or from leakage from US and Afghan supplies. The increase in security incidents always is matched by an increase in logistics for NATO and anti-government fighters.

The analysis continues, but the reports since November show no significant Afghan army involvement in combat operations. The May reports contained a single operation that clearly was Afghan army initiated. Afghan soldiers accompany NATO forces on operations, but seldom take casualties except from careless driving.

The Afghan police continue to sustain more casualties than any other armed entity. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates Afghanistan has more than 30,700 villages. NightWatch security incident data indicates up to two-thirds harbor or tolerate anti-government fighters in them.

The data show the Afghan government cannot survive without NATO support, especially logistics and tactical air support. More on casualties, later.
141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 26, 2011, 07:00:06 AM
In the last few days, atleast two commentators have started talking about the balkanization of Af-Pak region, specifically southern afghanistan/northern afghanistan.

Here's from the Broadsword blog on the 25th of June "Critical to the American vision for Afghanistan is the reconciliation process with the Taliban. A long-term US presence is anathema to the Taliban; a US drawdown, alongside the failure of reconciliation, could well result in the effective Balkanisation of Afghanistan, with the Taliban controlling southern Afghanistan and the remaining US forces militarily propping up Karzai’s (or a successor’s) government in northern Afghanistan. At least one prominent American thinker, former US Ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, has foreseen the de facto division of Afghanistan, with US drone and Special Forces strikes being conducted from northern Afghanistan into the south and into Pakistan.

For Pakistan, the US drawdown is ominous since Washington’s reduced dependence on Pakistan will allow more effective arm-twisting of Islamabad. As senior US officials have briefed New Delhi, the dependence on Pakistan for logistical routes has already come down thanks to Russia’s cooperation in expanding the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). This involves landing US supplies in Baltic Sea ports and then transporting them to Afghanistan through Russia and the Central Asian countries over a 3,200-mile railway. Even though the NDN is four times as expensive as the comparatively straightforward route through Pakistan, it already accounts for half of America’s logistical requirements in Afghanistan. Any reduction in the American presence will further decrease Pakistan’s leverage."

Here's Major Amin, a Pak army commentator on June 22 "The result will be an Afghanistan again divided in north and south regardless of Pakistan or USA liking it.".

142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 25, 2011, 10:27:22 PM
A different take from the previous post from Stratfor-- any comments contrasting the two?
Obama's Announcement and the Future of the Afghan War

If military reality and military objectives are defined in terms of the Taliban insurgency, then Afghanistan is every bit as lost now as it was two years ago – if not more so. But if they are defined in terms of al Qaeda, then the United States has good cause to claim victory and reorient its posture in Afghanistan.

If Baraq implements his withdrawl, I think US policy in Af-Pak will result in Talib controlled south Afghanistan, and Northern alliance controlled N.Afghanistan. If the US can force Pak army to take action on the Haqqani group, then the fun begins, as pak unravels. Pak will unravel, only question is the pace. A stable Pak is not in anyone's interest..the US govt is coming around to this view. A weaker Pak is a manageable pak.
143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 22, 2011, 09:00:37 PM

The Future of Afghanistan

Major AH Amin (Pakistan Army, Retired)

- The Pakistanis/ISI are not the masters of Afghanistan's destiny, although one may state that the Taliban in Afghanistan south of line Wardak-Shindand are Pakistan dependent as are near-Pakistani proxies.
- Kunnar, Laghman, Nuristan is a different game. It is Al Qaeda plus a combination of anti Pakistan Taliban groups with a heavy mixture of Swat. Dir, Bajaur, and Mohmand Talibans.
- The north is to a large extent pro Russian groups controlled with exception of pockets of Taliban in Baghlan and Kunduz. The Northern Alliance, Dostum and some other commanders will definitely look towards Russia, India and Iran rather than Pakistan.
- A new Northern Alliance is already being created with possible aerial fire support at Kulyab, Dehdadi, Kunduz and Herat Airfields. Russia will not allow the Taliban to have a clean run north of Hindu Kush; neither would Iran and India
In all probability the Taliban will have a clean run till line Kabul-Shindand but no further north.
- US has already abandoned large parts of Kunnar, Laghman, and Nuristan where the anti Pakistan Taliban are based.
- Note that 80 % of Taliban out of which 90 % are from Afghanistan regard Pakistan as a friend. There is no Pakistani regular army all along the 1500 Km stretch of Afghan border from Zhob to Taftan which is freely used for logistics by the 90 % of Taliban who are against USA and already pro Pakistan.
- The result will be an Afghanistan again divided in north and south regardless of Pakistan or USA liking it.
That Pakistan has been using Pashtuns as its pawns in its wars is now even very clear to the Pashtuns. The greatest beneficiary of money from Afghan wars has been the North Punjab.

- My fear is that Taliban backlash against Pakistan will be some kind of subconscious Pashtun backlash against Pakistan where Pashtuns will use religion to justify rebellion and even taking over Pakistan or some kind of secession. Here they would be aided by a simultaneous Baloch war of secession and a Punjab and Sindh paralyzed by inflation and unemployment.
- Pakistan is a suicide bombers factory. India may not be ideal but at least a young man can hope something in India but not in Pakistan which is a bastion of corruption, nepotism and red tapism. Inflation, poverty and despondency makes Pakistanis kill themselves or aspiring to kill some one, if not physically then spiritually and morally.
- A military coup in Pakistan can also not be ruled out. It has not succeeded before but it may  next time.
- A serious strategic imbalance of Pakistan is that all institutions have lost their coercive value. This includes the military, the ISI and everybody who once mattered.
- The majority in Pakistan may be moderate but the extremists are the best organized and most ready to die. So Pakistan may be the worst nightmare of this world in next five to ten years.
- The Pakistani military and intelligence and its security apparatus is just not capable of containing extremism. What can the omnipotent USA do about it if they cannot manage to make an Frontier Corps training centre worth 31 Million USD at Tank which was long planned, or bring 1000-MW electricity to Pakistan because of the closing down of the CASA 1000 project.
- An Indo Pak showdown with nuclear weapons may become a reality within next five years.
With water resources decreasing and population rising an Indo-Pak conflict is a matter of few years unless Pakistan breaks down from within, not into Balkanization, but into a constant civil war bordering near breakdown.
- The militarization of the Indo-Pak has to see a showdown unless one party breaks down without a war. Pakistan seems more likely and the last resort may be a nuclear exchange or a cold start war with India which further weakens Pakistan.
- The US would not be able to make a dent with India over Pakistan as Pakistan is a solid Chinese concubine although its US relationship is a more temporary and fluctuating Mutaah or Sigheh (Temporary Marriage).
144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 17, 2011, 09:06:20 PM
I have been harping on the paki need for maintaining H&D (honor and dignity) for a while now. Unfortunately, H&D has been taking a beating as of late.. grin, what with the OBL raid, PNS Mehran attack etc..
145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: POTH: Paks arrest US informants on OBL on: June 16, 2011, 08:17:37 PM
Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants Who Aided Bin Laden Raid

From Kiyani's point of view...these guys killed the golden goose...cost Kiyani and friends a couple of billion $$.
146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 12, 2011, 09:29:20 PM
Note the last few lines as a solution to Pak...everyone seems to think break up of pak is a good thing.. grin

Managing Afghanistan
Backing Northern Alliance II is the only viable option for India when US troops withdraw, says N.V.Subramanian.

27 May 2011: Through back channels, the US is telling India that it is leaving Afghanistan. After the discovery of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, the United States no longer trusts Pakistan to "hand over" Afghanistan to it and its Taliban allies. America wants regional ownership of Afghanistan, meaning that India, Iran, Russia, the Central Asian republics, China and Pakistan must sit together to decide the best course for bringing peace and stability to the benighted country. The US has promised to remain involved. And it will not let its anti-Iran biases obstruct a regional peace solution for Afghanistan.
So what should India do?
Retired senior US CIA and military officials are keen to let India know that America is absolutely serious about withdrawing from Afghanistan. The withdrawal will by no means be sudden. But since president Barack Obama has decided to stand for re-election, the White House wants some troops' withdrawal. One estimate of that is sixty thousand troops and another thirty thousand. There is also the compulsion to cut defence spending, and so it is imperative to keep a manageable size of troops in Afghanistan.
Even if a majority of US troops are withdrawn, a small number will be kept in non-Pashtun territories in the west but more likely in the north, roughly in the region of the former Northern Alliance. The trust with Pakistan is broken. The US national security establishment has evidence that Pakistan's ISI facilitated the Pakistani Taliban attack on a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan in December 2009 that killed eight American agents. The US is also convinced of an ISI hand in 26/11. Indeed, Pakistan hoped the US government would prevent the presentation of documentary evidence of the ISI role in 26/11 in the Tahawwur Rao trial in Chicago.
And previous to the Abbottabad raid that killed Bin Laden, strains in Pak-US relations came on the Raymond Davis affair. Davis who was a contract CIA operative in Pakistan killed two threatening ISI gunmen. While blood money was paid to return him to the US, the Obama administration made two other pledges to Pakistan for Davis' release. One was that about four dozen CIA undercover officers deployed in FATA and elsewhere against the Al-Qaeda and Taliban would be removed. The second was that the US would hand over the drone campaign to the Pakistanis.
Once Raymond Davis was back in the US, America signaled that the two deals were off. The CIA agents would not be pulled out. And the US would continue to manage drone warfare. Drone attacks significantly increased after Davis' return. And CIA undercover agents scored a big hit in tracing Osama Bin Laden to a secure compound in Abbottabad. When the ISI chief, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, came to the US to press for the honouring of the Davis deal, he got a tongue-lashing from the CIA director, Leon Panetta, and left the meeting in a huff.
The point the US wants to convey is that it no longer trusts Pakistan on Afghanistan. While it is leaving, it wants India, Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan to confabulate to return peace and stability to Afghanistan.
What should India do?
While the US position on Iran that it will not discourage its participation for an Afghan solution is welcome, trouble comes from China and Pakistan, and possibly, more from Pakistan than China. Following the Pakistan prime minister, Yousaf Reza Geelani's visit to China, it appears that China does not want to step into US shoes as a military aider of Pakistan. Nor it would seem is China keen to insert itself into Afghanistan in the present mess. Above all, it wants no damage in relations with the US.
But even assuming China and Pakistan come together on Afghanistan, they will not accept an India role in deciding that country's future. While Russia would have no obvious issues with Pakistan and China on Afghanistan, Iran would be deterred from their camp by the Shia-Sunni angle. But in the natural course, Russia and Iran would prefer India because of their past common Northern Alliance dealings. And if Pakistan ascertains it will have a major role in Afghanistan if a regional solution involving India fails, it will work towards its destruction.
What's the solution for Afghanistan in which India can play a role? There is no "solution" in sight and it is going to be messy. India's best bet is to remain engaged with Afghanistan's peaceful development till conditions worsen. Then, cutting its losses, India has to return to the pre-9/11 position of backing a previously created Northern Alliance II.
This is familiar territory for our readers. In time, Pakistan will face the blowback of encouraging terrorism in Afghanistan (and India), and it would sink the Pakistan state. The only worry is Pakistani nukes. Opinion is already building worldwide for denuclearizing Pakistan. Once Pakistan disintegrates by itself, its state policy of terrorism will crumble, and consequently the region will gradually stabilize, including Afghanistan.
N.V.Subramanian is Editor,, and writes internationally on strategic affairs. He has authored two novels, University of Love (Writers Workshop, Calcutta) and Courtesan of Storms (Har-Anand, Delhi). Email:
147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 12, 2011, 08:53:41 PM
Comments by sanman in the Economist...explaining the history of the region.

In 1839, the British Empire sought to expand the borders of its colony of British India, by launching a war of conquest against the neighboring Pashtuns. The Pashtuns, as a fiercely independent tribal warrior people, resisted ferociously, so that the British conquest of them was not successful. The British were only able to conquer part of the Pashtun territory, and even that remained in constant rebellion against them. Meanwhile, the remaining unconquered portion of Pashtun territory became the nucleus for the formation of Afghanistan. In 1893, the British imposed a ceasefire line on the Afghans called the Durand Line, which separated British-controlled territory from Afghan territory. The local people on the ground however never recognized this line, which merely existed on a map, and not on the ground.

In 1947, when the colony of British India achieved independence and was simultaneously partitioned into Pakistan and India, the Pakistanis wanted the conquered Pashtun territory to go to them, since the Pashtuns were Muslims. Given that the Pashtuns never recognized British authority over them to begin with, the Pakistanis had tenuous relations with the Pashtuns and were consumed by fears of Pashtun secession.

When Pakistan applied to join the UN in 1947, there was only one country which voted against it. No, it wasn't India - it was Pashtun-ruled Afghanistan which voted against Pakistan's admission, on the grounds that Pakistan was in illegal occupation of Pashtun lands stolen by the British. Their vote was cast on September 30, 1947 and is a fact.

In 1948, in the nearby state of Kashmir, its Hindu princely ruler and Muslim political leader joined hands in deciding to make Kashmir an independent country rather than joining either Pakistan or India. Pakistan's leadership were immediately terrified of this precedent, fearing that the Pashtuns would soon follow suit and also declare their own ethnically independent state. In order to pre-empt that and prevent it from happening, Pakistan's founder and leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah quickly decided to raise the cry of "Hindu treachery against the Muslims" and despatched hordes of armed Pashtun tribesmen to attack Kashmir. This was his way of distracting the Pashtuns from their own ethnic nationalism by diverting them into war against Kashmir "to save Islam". These are the same Pashtun tribesman whose descendants are today's Taliban. Fleeing the unprovoked invasion of their homeland, Kashmir's Hindu prince and Muslim political leader went to India, pledging to merge with it if India would help repel the invasion. India agreed, and sent its army to repel the Pashtun invasion. Pakistan then sent its army to clash with Indian forces, and the result was Indo-Pakistani conflict, which has lasted for decades.

Pakistan's fear of Pashtun nationalism and separatism, which it fears can break up Pakistan, is thus the root of the Indo-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir and also the root of Pak conflict with Afghanistan, not any alleged Indian takeover of Kabul. This is all due to the legacy of 1839, which happened long before Pakistan was even created.

When a communist revolution happened in Kabul in the late 70s, Pakistan's fear of potential spillover effects on Pashtun nationalism caused Pakistan to embark on fomenting a guerrilla war against Kabul that led to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Aligned with with the USA, Pakistan then proceeded to arm the Pashtuns while indoctrinating them with Islamic fanaticism. The USA was not allowed any ground role, and was told it could only supply arms and funds to Pakistan, which would take care of the rest. Pakistan then simultaneously embarked on destabilization of India by fomenting insurgency there.

After the Soviets withdrew, Pakistan again feared that the well-armed Pashtuns would turn on it and pursue secession. So Pakistan then created the Taliban as a new umbrella movement for the fractious factional guerrilla groups under an ultra-fundamentalist ideology. Bin Laden's AlQaeda then became cosy with Taliban, and the result was 9-11.

When the 9-11 attacks occurred, the cornered Pakistanis then did a 180 and promised to help the US defeat the Taliban and bring the terrorists to justice. Meanwhile they were racking their brains hoping to come up with a way to undermine the War on Terror from within. Now that they have succeeded in doing that, and in bleeding US/NATO forces, they hope to jump horses by kicking the US out and aligning with China.

Because of Pakistan's attempts to illegitimately hang onto Pashtun land, it has brought itself into conflicts with so many countries - first against its neighbors and then against more distant larger powers. This is the reason why Pakistan is an irredentist state and can never be an ally against Islamic extremism, because Pakistan depends on this very Islamism as a national glue to hold itself together, and keep nationalistic ethnic groups like the Pashtuns from breaking Pakistan apart.

At the same time, Pakistanis don't dare own upto the Pashtun national question at any level, nor its effect on their national policies, because any attempt to do so would open up the legitimacy of their claim to Pashtun land.

Sovereignty is a 2-way street, entailing not just rights but obligations. Pakistan only wishes to assert rights owing to it from sovereignty, and wishes to completely duck the issue of any sovereign obligations to apprehend terrorists on what it claims as its own territory. This is because the fundamental reality is that the Pashtun territory is not really theirs, is not really under their control, and the Pashtuns don't really recognize Pakistani central authority over them.

Pakistan uses Islamic fundamentalism to submerge traditional Pashtun ethnic identity in a desperate attempt to suppress Pashtun ethnic nationalism, and to stave off the disintegration of Pakistan. The Pashtuns are a numerically large enough ethnic group possessing the strength of arms to be able to secede from Pakistan at any moment, should they decide upon it.

The answer is to let the separatists have their way and achieve their independent ethnic states, breaking up Pakistan. It's better to allow Pakistan to naturally break up into 3 or 4 benign ethnic states, than for it to keep promoting Islamic fundamentalist extremism in a doomed attempt to hold itself together. Pakistan is a failing state, and it's better to let it fail and fall apart. This will help to end all conflict in the region and the trans-national terrorist problem. An independent ethnic Pashtun state will be dominated by Pashtun ethnic identity instead of fundamentalist Islam, and thus AlQaeda will no longer be able to find sanctuary there. Conventional ethnic identity is far more natural and benign than trans-nationalist Islamism with its inherent collectivist political bent. Supporting the re-emergence of 4 natural ethnic states - Pashtunistan, Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab - would be far better than continuing to support a dangerous and dysfunctional failed state like Pakistan which continues to spew toxic Islamist extremist ideology in a doomed attempt to hold itself together.

Following the failure of the Vietnam War, many Americans later recognized that war was really a war of ethnic reunification by the Vietnamese people. It wasn't a case of one foreign country attempting to conquer another foreign country - indeed, the north and south Vietnamese were not strangers or aliens to one another - they were 2 halves of a common whole. The question was whether they would reunify under communist socialism or under free democracy, but because a blinkered American leadership refused to recognize the Vietnamese grassroots affinity for one another and their desire to reunify, it pretty much ensured that Vietnamese reunification would take place under communist socialism.

Likewise, the Pashtun people live on both sides of an artificial Durand Line (Afghan-Pak "border") which they themselves have never accepted or recognized. It's a question of whether they will politically reunify under close-minded theocratic Islamism or under a more secular and tolerant society. Because today's blinkered American leadership is again blindly defending another artificial line on a map, and refusing to recognize the oneness of the people living on both sides of that artificial line, America is again shutting itself out of the reunification process, guaranteeing that Pashtun reunification will occur under fanatical fundamentalist Islamism as prescribed by Pakistan (much as Hanoi's Soviet backers prescribed reunification under communist socialism.) It's only later on, much after America's defeat, that some Americans will realize too late that they should have seen that the Pashtuns on both sides of the artificial line were actually one people. Pakistan knows it all too well, because they've been living with the guilt and fear of it ever since Pakistan's creation - but that's why they're hell-bent on herding the Pashtuns down the path of Islamist fanaticism, using Islamist glue to keep the Pashtuns as a whole hugged to Pakistan's bosom.

If only the preachers at the Economist could shed their blinkers and really understand what's going on, then they might have a chance to shape events more effectively, and to their favor. Pakistan is rapidly building up its nuclear arsenal, as it moves to surpass Britain to become the world's 5th-largest nuclear state.The Pakistanis are racing to build up as much hard-power as possible to back up the soft-power they feel Islamist hate-ideology gives them.

The world needs to compel the Pakistanis to let the Pashtuns go, and allow them to have their own independent national existence, along with the Baluchis and Sindhis. Humoring Pakistan and allowing it to continue using Islamist hatred to rally the people towards unity to counter slow disintegration is not the way to achieve stability in the region, or security for the world.
148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 12, 2011, 07:24:42 AM
Pakis are getting paranoid..
149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 12, 2011, 07:20:05 AM
The country is ripe for civil war....insha allah..

Pakistan Poverty increased to an astonishing 43 Percent
June 03, 2011

ISLAMABAD: For the third year in a row, the government of Pakistan refused to state how many people in the country live below the poverty line, although estimates based on data provided by the finance ministry in its economic survey suggest that the poverty rate may have increased to an astonishing 43%.

During much of the press conference, both Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and the finance secretary refused to answer the question on poverty and unemployment rates, despite the fact that nearly every journalist present started off by asking about those two key metrics of the nation’s economic health.

Process of Compiling: The question was usually summarily ignored by both the minister and other officials present before the finance secretary finally gave a non-answer, saying that he had no new information on the matter. Since the last poverty survey in 2006, there are no new figures on poverty, said Finance Secretary Waqar Masood, during a press conference that marked the release of the 2011 Economic Survey. The government is in the process of compiling the results of its new poverty survey and will be able to release the data next year. In 2006, the government had determined that 22.3%, a figure that hid the fact that there was an increasingly wide gap between the poverty rates in urban and rural areas. Poverty rates in urban areas are lower by as much as 20% compared to rural areas. The government uses the World Bank’s definition of poverty, which is any person earning less than $1.25 per day. In Pakistan, that figure comes to any person living on less than Rs3,243 per month. The government has not given any reason as to why it does not produce even estimates of the poverty rates, even though this year’s economic survey seems to include suggestions on how much it might have increased by. By the ADB’s estimates, as cited by the ministry of finance, every 10% increase in food prices pushes 2.2% of Pakistan’s population below the poverty line.

The ministry estimates that food prices have risen 94% since its last poverty survey. If the ADB’s estimates hold across several years, poverty in Pakistan has increased to an astonishing 43%. Data from the finance ministry suggest that nearly 75% of the population lives very close to the poverty line and very small changes can push very large numbers of people below it, while relatively medium-paced economic growth can also bring several million people out of poverty as well.[/b]]If the ADB’s estimates hold across several years, poverty in Pakistan has increased to an astonishing 43%. Data from the finance ministry suggest that nearly 75% of the population lives very close to the poverty line and very small changes can push very large numbers of people below it, while relatively medium-paced economic growth can also bring several million people out of poverty as well.
150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 11, 2011, 09:04:19 AM

Pakistan Officials Colluding With Militants? US Presents Evidence

By NICK SCHIFRIN (@nickschifrin) and MATTHEW COLE
June 10, 2011
The United States' attempts to regain trust in Pakistan's intelligence service suffered a blow in the last few weeks when the CIA gathered evidence that U.S. officials believe shows collusion between militants and Pakistani security officials.

During a visit to Islamabad on Friday, CIA Director Leon Panetta confronted the head of Pakistan's intelligence service, showing him satellite and other intelligence that the CIA believes is evidence of Pakistani security's efforts to help Islamic militants based in Pakistan, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.

According to the officials, Panetta revealed overhead imagery that showed two facilities where militants manufactured improvised explosive devices, known as IEDs, which are commonly used by militants fighting U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The "IED factories" were located in North and South Waziristan, where many militants are based.

The CIA passed intelligence in the past several weeks to their Pakistani counterparts, alerting them to the two facilities, but when Pakistani forces raided the facilities, the militants had disappeared.

In his meetings Friday, Panetta conveyed the CIA's belief that the militants had been warned by Pakistani security officials prior to the raids.

Panetta traveled to Islamabad just hours after his Congressional hearing to become secretary of defense, an unannounced trip that U.S. officials publicly described as a way to "discuss ways to improve cooperation." But behind the scenes, Panetta's visit -- expected to be his last as CIA chief -- underscored the lack of trust that U.S. officials continue to have in their Pakistani counterparts.

Since Osama bin Laden's death, senior U.S. officials have demanded that Pakistan prove that it intends to help crack down on terror networks within its own borders with concrete, specific steps.

Today, U.S. and Pakistani officials both admitted that the escape of militants making bombs for use against Americans in Afghanistan was a setback.

Pakistani officials made a rare admission that some kind of collusion was possible.
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