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51  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Indian Ocean and the new Great Game on: September 01, 2012, 10:20:15 AM

Indian Ocean: the new Great Game

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard Weekend Supplement
1st Sept 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

Indian Navy force multipliers

1.   Sea Control

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

2.   Strategic Bases


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

3.   Blockade of Shipping


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

4.    Maritime Domain Awareness


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

5.   Land Attack


The Brahmos cruise missile, which is now standard fitment on all naval warships, provide a potent capability to attack targets that are 200-250 kilometres inland.
52  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India; India-afpakia and India-China? on: June 27, 2012, 08:28:55 PM
India-US relations is a complex's one article. This focusses on defense issues, ofcourse there's lots of other commerce that's not discussed.
Posted on June 26, 2012
America’s great plans for India, and why New Delhi’s jumpy

By Syed Nazakat in Delhi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 7, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Islam most misunderstood ...

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

Islamists in Pakistan Recruit Entire Families from Europe

By Yassin Musharbash and Holger Stark

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

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

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

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

Islamists Recruiting Entire Families

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

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

A Child in Custody

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

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

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

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

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

Release Could Be Imminent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looks like we are back in business... grin
69  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Can Russia help us withdraw from Afpakia? on: January 01, 2012, 08:03:07 AM
Can Russia Help Us Withdraw From Afghanistan?

Yarek Waszul
Published: December 1, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

72  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 24, 2011, 08:10:57 PM

Former Pakistan Army Chief Reveals Intelligence Bureau Harbored Bin Laden in Abbottabad
Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 9 Issue: 47December 22, 2011 04:19 PM Age: 2 days
By: Arif Jamal

In spite of denials by the Pakistani military, evidence is emerging that elements within the Pakistani military harbored Osama bin Laden with the knowledge of former army chief General Pervez Musharraf and possibly current Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. Former Pakistani Army Chief General Ziauddin Butt (a.k.a. General Ziauddin Khawaja) revealed at a conference on Pakistani-U.S. relations in October 2011 that according to his knowledge the then former Director-General of Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan (2004 – 2008), Brigadier Ijaz Shah (Retd.), had kept Osama bin Laden in an Intelligence Bureau safe house in Abbottabad. In the same address, he revealed that the ISI had helped the CIA to track him down and kill on May 1. The revelation remained unreported for some time because some intelligence officers had asked journalists to refrain from publishing General Butt’s remarks. [1] No mention of the charges appeared until right-wing columnist Altaf Hassan Qureshi referred to them in an Urdu-language article that appeared on December 8. [2]

In a subsequent and revealing Urdu-language interview with TV channel Dawn News, General Butt repeated the allegation on December 11, saying he fully believed that “[Brigadier] Ijaz Shah had kept this man [Bin Laden in the Abbottabad compound] with the full knowledge of General Pervez Musharraf…  Ijaz Shah was an all-powerful official in the government of General Musharraf.” [3] Asked whether General Kayani knew of this, he first said yes, but later reconsidered: “[Kayani] may have known – I do not know – he might not have known.” [4] The general’s remarks appeared to confirm investigations by this author in May 2011 that showed that the Abbottabad compound where bin Laden was captured and killed was being used by a Pakistani intelligence agency (see Terrorism Monitor, May 5). However, General Butt failed to explain why Bin Laden was not discovered even after Brigadier Shah and General Musharraf had left the government.

General Butt was the first head of the Strategic Plans Division of the Pakistan army and the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) under Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1990 to 1993, and again from 1997 to 1999. Sharif promoted General Ziauddin Butt to COAS after forcibly retiring General Pervez Musharraf on October 12, 1999, but the army’s top brass revolted against the decision and arrested both Prime Minister Sharif and General Butt while installing Musharraf as the nation’s new chief executive, a post he kept as a chief U.S. ally until resigning in 2008 in the face of an impending impeachment procedure.

Brigadier Shah has been known or is alleged to have been involved in several high profile cases of terrorism. The Brigadier was heading the ISI bureau in Lahore when General Musharraf overthrew Prime Minister Sharif in October 1999. Later, General Musharraf appointed Shah as Home Secretary in Punjab. As an ISI officer he was also the handler for Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was involved in the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002. [5] Omar Saeed Sheikh surrendered to Brigadier Shah who hid him for several weeks before turning him over to authorities. In February 2004, Musharraf appointed Shah as the new Director of the Intelligence Bureau, a post he kept until March 2008 (Daily Times [Lahore] February 26, 2004; Dawn [Karachi] March 18, 2008). The late Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto accused Brigadier Shah, among others, of hatching a conspiracy to assassinate her (The Friday Times [Lahore], February 18-24).                                                                                                                           

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistani top military brass had serious differences on several issues. One of the most serious of these concerned Pakistan’s relations with Osama bin Laden. However, the disastrous1999 Kargil conflict in Kashmir overshadowed all of these. General Butt says that Prime Minister Sharif had decided to cooperate with the United States and track down Bin Laden in 1999. [6] According to a senior adviser to the Prime Minister, the general staff ousted Sharif to scuttle the “get-Osama” plan, among other reasons: “The evidence is that the military regime abandoned that plan.” [7] General Butt corroborates this. In his latest interview, he says that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had constituted a special task force of 90 American-trained commandos to track down Bin Laden in Afghanistan. If the Sharif government had continued on this course, this force would likely have caught Bin Laden by December 2001, but the plan was aborted by Ziauddin Butt’s successor as ISI general director, Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed. [8]

Arif Jamal is an independent security and terrorism expert and author of “Shadow War – The Untold Story of Jihad in Kashmir.”


1. Author’s telephone interview with an Islamabad journalist who requested anonymity, November 16, 2011.

2. Altaf Hassan Qureshi, “Resetting Pak-U.S. relations” (in Urdu), Jang [Rawalpindi], December 8, 2011.  Available at

3. See “Government – Army - America on Dawn News – 11the Dec 2011 part 2,”

4. Ibid

5. Author’s interview with a security officer who requested anonymity, Islamabad, May 2000.

6. “Government – Army - America on Dawn News –December 11, 2011, part 1,”       

7. Author’s interview with a former government minister who requested anonymity, Rawalpindi, February 2006.

8. “Government – Army - America on Dawn News –December 11, 2011, part 1,”       

73  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 24, 2011, 07:58:17 PM
With ref to Pak, its always about the money  grin

US offers solatia payments to Pak
PTI Dec 23, 2011, 01.21PM IST

WASHINGTON: In keeping with its practice in Afghanistan, the US is willing to offer solatia payments to the families of Pakistani soldiers killed in a cross-border NATO strike last month as it tries to resolve the crisis generated in its aftermath, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

The airstrike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and hit the fragile US-Pakistan ties hard, following which Pakistan shut down its NATO supply routes to Afghanistan in protest.

"In keeping with our normal practices in Afghanistan, the United States is willing to offer solatia payments as a sign of our regret for the loss of life," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told PTI.

"This is not necessarily a legal form of compensation, but it is a sign of regret for the loss of life," Little said in response to a question, adding that an offer has to be made and accepted in accordance with the normal practice for payments be made to each of the 24 families.

He said the US had accepted responsibility for the "mistakes" and admitted "shortcomings" after a thorough investigation.

"We have expressed our deepest regret for loss of life and extended our condolences," Little said when asked about the Pakistani demand that US should issue a formal apology.

"We have expressed our regret," he said. Earlier at a news conference, the Pentagon Press Secretary said the findings of the report would soon be shared with the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, both of whom have already been briefed about it.
74  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 22, 2011, 06:35:41 PM
The WSJ carries an article today, essentially indicating that the US accepts blame for the killing of 24 pakis. Looks like appeasement of paki H&D by the Obama admin to me. The DOD release is more nuanced in accepting blame...

Department of Defense Statement Regarding Investigation Results into Pakistan Cross-Border Incident

                 The investigation into the 25-26 November engagement between U.S. and Pakistani military forces across the border has been completed.  The findings and conclusions were forwarded to the Department through the chain of command.  The results have also been shared with the Pakistani and Afghan governments, as well as key NATO leadership.

                The investigating officer found that U.S. forces, given what information they had available to them at the time, acted in self defense and with appropriate force after being fired upon. He also found that there was no intentional effort to target persons or places known to be part of the Pakistani military, or to deliberately provide inaccurate location information to Pakistani officials. 

                Nevertheless, inadequate coordination by U.S. and Pakistani military officers operating through the border coordination center -- including our reliance on incorrect mapping information shared with the Pakistani liaison officer -- resulted in a misunderstanding about the true location of Pakistani military units.  This, coupled with other gaps in information about the activities and placement of units from both sides, contributed to the tragic result.

                For the loss of life -- and for the lack of proper coordination between U.S. and Pakistani forces that contributed to those losses -- we express our deepest regret.  We further express sincere condolences to the Pakistani people, to the Pakistani government, and most importantly to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who were killed or wounded.

                Our focus now is to learn from these mistakes and take whatever corrective measures are required to ensure an incident like this is not repeated.  The chain of command will consider any issues of accountability.  More critically, we must work to improve the level of trust between our two countries.  We cannot operate effectively on the border -- or in other parts of our relationship -- without addressing the fundamental trust still lacking between us.  We earnestly hope the Pakistani military will join us in bridging that gap.
75  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 22, 2011, 06:21:06 PM
This group of 3 interrelated reports, suggests trouble is brewing between PPP (Zardari's party, of which Gilani is also a member) the army and the judiciary. It appears that the army and the judiciary are ganging up on Zardari. Interesting times ahead..

Strat reporting:
Pakistan: No Control Over ISI, Army – Defense Ministry
December 22, 2011 | 0540 GMT
In a written reply to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Pakistani Defense Ministry said it has no control over any operation conducted by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency or the Pakistani Army, Geo New TV reported Dec. 22, citing unnamed sources close to the matter. The ministry said it only handles administrative affairs for the ISI and the army, and therefore it was not in a position to answer or explain anything on behalf of the Pakistani Army.

Pakistan: Army Answers To Government - PM
December 22, 2011 | 1450 GMT
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani reminded the army that it, like all state institutions, answers to the parliament and the prime minister, Associated Press of Pakistan and AFP reported Dec. 22. He added that the army is under the Defense Ministry and could not consider itself its own state within Pakistan without taking lawmakers’ sovereignty. Gilani said there are conspirators plotting against the elected government and that he would fight for Pakistani rights whether he remains in the government or not.

Pakistan: Army Wants President Legally Removed - Source
December 22, 2011 | 1509 GMT
Pakistan’s army wants President Asif Ali Zardari to leave office through legal means rather than a rumored coup, military sources said Dec. 22, Reuters reported. The sources added that no military coup is being planned because it would be unpopular with the people, it would have national and international consequences and the government’s mistakes already create discontent. Any action taken must come from the Supreme Court rather than the military.
76  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Redraw the Map on: December 21, 2011, 07:51:42 PM

Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011 2:00AM EST

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

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

It should be obvious by now that Pakistan has no intention of doing what the United States has wanted for the past decade. The combination of wishful thinking, admiration for the emperor’s new clothes and $10-billion in payments to the Pakistani military have accomplished nothing. Admiral Michael Mullen was not wrong when he testified recently that the terrorist Haqqani network is operating as an arm of the Pakistani army. He might have added that the Taliban is the Pakistani army’s expeditionary force in Afghanistan. Pakistan shelters, funds, trains, supplies and advises the Taliban. The simple fact is that Pakistan is the world’s No. 1 state supporter of terrorism.

In Afghanistan, Pakistan will never be happy unless it has a puppet regime in Kabul and can run the country like a colony. Islamabad does not intend to allow the current Afghan constitution to remain in effect, and as soon as NATO pulls out, it will push the Taliban into an all-out civil war in Afghanistan designed to return it to power. All of which has led to a lot of hand-wringing in Washington, accompanied by a revolving-door procession of senior U.S. officials going to Islamabad to read a toothless riot act the Pakistanis can now recite by heart.

The permanent solution to the Pakistan problem is not more of this chest-beating appeasement. The answer lies in 20th-century history. In 1947, when India gained independence, a British Empire in full retreat left behind an unworkable mess on both sides of India – called Pakistan – whose elements had nothing in common except the religion of Islam. In 1971, this postcolonial Frankenstein came a step closer to rectification when Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, became an independent state.

The answer to the current Pakistani train wreck is to continue this natural process by recognizing Baluchistan’s legitimate claim to independence. Baluchistan was an independent nation for more than 1,000 years when Great Britain notionally annexed it in the mid-19th century. The Baluchis were never consulted about becoming a part of Pakistan, and since then, they have been the victims of alternating persecution and neglect by the Pakistani state, abuse which escalated to genocide when it was discovered in the 1970s that most of the region’s natural resources lie underneath their soil. Since then, tens of thousands of Baluchis have been slaughtered by the Pakistani army, which has used napalm and tanks indiscriminately against an unarmed population.

Changing maps is difficult only because it is initially unimaginable to diplomats and politicians. Although redrawing maps is the definition of failure for the United Nations and the U.S. State Department, it has, in fact, been by such a wide margin the most effective solution to regional violence over the past 50 years that there is really nothing in second place. Among the most obvious recent examples (apart from the former Soviet Union) are North and South Sudan, Kosovo, Eritrea, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, East Timor and Bangladesh.

An independent Baluchistan would, in fact, solve many of the region’s most intractable problems overnight. It would create a territorial buffer between rogue states Iran and Pakistan. It would provide a transportation and pipeline corridor for Afghanistan and Central Asia to the impressive but underutilized new port at Gwadar. It would solve all of NATO’s logistical problems in Afghanistan, allow us to root the Taliban out of the former province and provide greater access to Waziristan, to subdue our enemies there. And it would contain the rogue nuclear state of Pakistan and its A.Q. Khan network of nuclear proliferation-for-profit on three landward sides.

The way to put the Pakistani genie back in the bottle and cork it is to help the Baluchis go the way of the Bangladeshis in achieving their dream of freedom from tyranny, corruption and murder at the hands of the diseased Pakistani military state.

M. Chris Mason is a retired diplomat with long service in South Asia and a senior fellow at the Center for Advanced Defence Studies in Washington.
77  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 20, 2011, 07:31:28 PM
Pak 101: keyword: Down-hill skiing...slowly pak is withdrawing from all the tough talk...very soon drone strikes will resume, as will the opening of highways. Afterall, stopping transport of US goods thro Pak, hurts the pakis equally, they dont get paid!.

Pakistan: Afghan Border Centers Restored

December 19, 2011
Pakistan restored liaisons to coordination centers on the Afghan border, a NATO official said, Reuters reported Dec. 19.
78  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 20, 2011, 07:23:52 PM
NEW YORK: The New York Times said on Monday that President Asif Ali Zardari may have come back to Pakistan only for a “cameo appearance” for the death anniversary (Dec 27) of Benazir Bhutto and “then go on permanently to London or Dubai”.
79  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 20, 2011, 07:09:19 PM
H&D alert: It seems to me that the pakis fired first, and then got their a$$ handed to them....but ofcourse that cannot be blame India!.

KARACHI: According to a BBC report, Pakistan’s military officials on Monday blamed an Afghan commander for the November 26 Nato strike on Salala check post in Mohmand agency, DawnNews reported. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported that the accused Afghan commander conspired on the instructions of Indian and Afghan intelligence to dismantle Pakistan’s ties with US and Nato.

See also this article

The probe report – parts of which have been shared with Nato forces in Kabul – states that no US soldier was involved in the airstrike on the Salala check post in the Mohmand Agency that left two dozen border guards dead.
Investigators are convinced that an Afghan National Army (ANA) officer conspired with India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security in prompting the Nato airstrike, an officer privy to the probe told the BBC.
Islamabad has shared the evidence of his involvement with Nato, saying that the evidence warrants action against him.
Islamabad has long suspected that archrival India is using Afghan soil to foment trouble in Pakistan’s border regions.

80  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 20, 2011, 06:57:17 PM
The above article does not mention this, but wrt to relations with the USA, in moments of clarity, Pakistanis often refer to themselves as a condom which is discarded after use, a most perceptive description IMHO.

The above article also exemplifies everything that is wrong with US policy. What do the pakis need to do before the US govt will cut aid ?. The reality is that pakiland is on a downhill course (somewhat like the Euro), you can slow the descent but not the trajectory.
81  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 18, 2011, 06:15:11 PM
Zardari has returned to Pak, suggestion a deal has been reached with Kayani...all's well for now. He still has issues with the judiciary..\12\19\story_19-12-2011_pg1_1
Back in the saddle

By Masroor Afzal Pasha and Hussain Kashif

KARACHI/LAHORE: President Asif Ali Zardari, who was in Dubai for nearly two weeks for medical treatment, returned to country late on Sunday night.

The president arrived in a special plane that landed at the PAF base Masroor in Karachi. The plane was equipped with medical facilities, and the president’s personal physician and medics were on board. The president was accompanied by his daughter Asifa Bhutto Zardari. Senior Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leaders welcomed him at the airport.

The medical team accompanying the president declared him completely fit, allowing him to resume his official activities. Security from airport to the Bilawal House had already been beefed up in anticipation of president’s arrival. Earlier, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said that the ‘situation’ had neutralised after army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s meeting with him and direct telephonic talk with President Zardari on Saturday, Daily Times learnt.

Well-placed sources in the PPP, speaking on the eve of the hearing of the memo case in the Supreme Court, said that the ice has been melted after former US national security adviser General James Jones, who delivered the memo to the then chief of US military Admiral Michael Mullen, filed a statement in the Supreme Court regarding the memo scandal, clearing the confusion on the matter.

Sources had earlier said that the president’s core team had made a decision for his return homeland. The sources also said that President Zardari had also rejected the suggestion of a welcome gathering from the party at the airport on his return to the country. The sources further informed that the party heads have also decided that Zardari would stay in the Bilawal House and take rest till December 26 avoiding work and meetings, but he would appear in the public meeting at Garhi Khuda Baksh on the eve of Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary where he would deliver a special speech and take the nation in confidence regarding conspiracies against him and his party’s government. The PPP sources also said that some party leaders had been in favour of the president’s return on Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary to prevent any move against him. They were of the view that the party was showing its strength and all the activists and followers of Bhuttos would be united at Garhi Khuda Baksh.
82  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 15, 2011, 07:16:30 PM
Paki behaviour 101: Blame everyone else, but self

From Stratfor..     
Pakistan: Islamabad Will Fight Terrorism On Its Own Terms - FM

December 15, 2011
Pakistan will fight terrorism on its own terms rather than those of the U.S. Congress, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said in a Dec. 15 meeting with the Pakistani National Security Commission, The Express Tribune reported. She said the U.S.-Pakistan relationship is on hold and will be restored on a mandate from Pakistan’s parliament and people that clearly defines the partnership so that it can be pursued more vigorously. Khar added that although Pakistan should not be worried by the freeze on U.S. aid to Islamabad, the United States will be responsible if Pakistan loses its war on terrorism, NDTV reported.
83  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 13, 2011, 09:38:08 PM
Pak 101: key word: Honor& Dignity (H&D)

The previous 2 posts are all about maintaining H&D...amongst the beards. Never mind that Shamsi airbase was winding down ops over the last several months.

The post about basing paki air assets near the border is harder to evaluate...for it could lead to a confrontation with the US, or will likely involve down-hill skiing (keyword discussed earlier!) from their decision later. Paki generals are under pressure to do something in response to the 24 killed in the cross border attack by the US. I suspect that the US jammed some paki radio communications during the couple of hrs that the attack took place. Since pakis cannot admit that the US can jam all radio communications at will, as in this attack, and also previously in the OBL killing, Gen.Kiyani recently ordered that the front line troops need not wait for orders from their senior commanders, and can take matters into their own hands. This statement will calm down the rank and file, since they can now shoot down the reviled US helis and drones, but in their tactical brilliance they forget that the US can pulversise them with a devastating counter attack. I very much doubt that the US is shutting down the drone programme (the only thing that has worked in the Af-pak theater).

Another possibility is that the "anointed one" (Fox terminology), is withdrawing from Af-pak, and pakis are taking advantage of that to show that they forced the US to withdraw. Interesting times ahead..
84  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 10, 2011, 11:10:36 AM
Note the Dec 15, deadline...that will likely determine whether Zardari comes back. If the army blames Zardari for "memogate", the PPP prime minister may resign, and create chaos in Sindh state of pak.

President Asif Zardari's sudden departure for Dubai last Tuesday, reportedly for a "routine medical check-up", has provoked much speculation. One report claims he may resign for reasons of bad health. Others say he has fled the country to avoid impeachment or conviction on account of "treasonable" involvement in "Memogate". The government says he is fine and should be back in a few days after the medical checkups are done, "provided his doctors give him the all-clear". If he is fine, why qualify it thus? If he isn't back soon, then he must be seriously ill. These contradictory statements have fueled rumours of a creeping "soft coup" against him.

Mr Zardari, to be certain, hasn't been in the best of health. He suffers from an assortment of ailments, including diabetes, hypertension, blood pressure and coronary disease. But the truth is that the tensions of Memogate and NRO must be weighing on him in more ways than one. Consider.

The opposition, Supreme Court, military and sections of the media are gunning for President Asif Zardari. Of late, Mr Nawaz Sharif has also been screaming "Go Zardari Go". He gave the government ten days to set up a credible commission on Memogate but then petitioned the SC in four days to take matters in hand. Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi have been blasting him in rallies, the latter thundering that Pakistan's nuclear assets and Mr Zardari cannot co-exist, an ominous charge that those close to the military are inclined to make of politicians who are accused of being a "national security risk" and then scuttled.

The SC also seems to have decided to go for Mr Zardari's jugular. The NRO review petition has been revived and rubbished swiftly. The PM has been ordered to write to the Swiss authorities to reopen the money laundering cases against Mr Zardari, regardless of his presidential immunity. Now the SC has hastily held that there is, prima facie, a case to be made out against Husain Haqqani, former ambassador to Washington, and President Zardari, and ordered them, plus the prime minister, army chief and DG ISI, to send their comments, remarks and evidence to the SC by 15 December.

The military, in the meanwhile, is leaking like a sieve with stories of the "nefarious and treasonable" activities of both Mr Haqqani and President Zardari.

All these "stakeholders" have personal, political or institutional grudges against Mr Zardari. According to Imran Khan, the plan to "get Zardari" was ready in November last year but the military backed off at the last minute following the extensions in service granted by him to both the army chief and DG ISI. Now there is no such hurdle.

December is a critical month. If the government balks at obeying SC orders, the SC may seek recourse to Article 190 of the Constitution and order the army to implement them. Once such an order is made, Mr Zardari will be as good as in the net. He won't be able to flee.

Under the circumstances, it makes good sense to be ill (thereby deriving public sympathy) and be out of the country (thereby denying the SC and military a chance to nab him and put him in the dock) until the road is clear of the present danger. Alternatively, if the plans are there for all to see, he can guide his besieged party and prime minister from the safety of Dubai and London to resist, like Altaf Hussain continues to do and like Nawaz Sharif did for ten years from Saudi Arabia. It is learnt that the prime minister and party have girded their loins to face the conspiracies afoot against them.

Mr Zardari will not resign and the PPP will not throw in the towel without a fight. Instead, they will go down fighting, charging the "Punjabi establishment" of martyring two Sindhi prime ministers and scuttling three PPP governments to date, thus reclaiming collective martyrdom and another chance to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes.

Mr Zardari can pend his decision to stay or return on the basis of how the SC proceeds in the next month or so. If the omens are not good, his illness could take a turn for the worse, compelling him to stay put in a hospital abroad. Or he might return in the next few days and see how the army and ISI respond to the notice of the SC. Much will rest on whether they send an adverse view of him on Memogate directly via the Judge Advocate General of the army or a favourable view of him via the Defense Ministry which comes under the federal government. He has already set a precedent for exiting the country unannounced and suddenly on account of health reasons. He can do so again should an emergency arise. But the dice is loaded against him and the conspirators will not be easily thwarted this time round.
85  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 10, 2011, 08:54:14 AM
From the web..
"Everyone seems to wonder why Pak terrorists are quick to line up for suicide attacks. Lets have a look at the evidence: No Christmas,No tv,No nude women,No football,No pork chops,No hotdogs, No burgers, No beer, No bacon, Rags for clothes, Towels for hats, Constant wailing from some asshole in a tower, More than one wife, More than one mother in law, You can't shave, Your wife can't shave, You can't wash off the smell of donkey, You cook over burning camel shit, Yr wife smells worse than your donkey.
Then they tell you "when you die, it all gets better"....!!"

Seasons Greetings.

P.S.Pl. delete if offensive..

86  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 06, 2011, 06:57:18 PM

President Zardari suddenly leaves Pakistan -- is he on the way out?
Posted By Josh Rogin   Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 5:34 PM    Share

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari left Pakistan suddenly on Tuesday, complaining of heart pains, and is now in Dubai. His planned testimony before a joint session of Pakistan's parliament on the Memogate scandal is now postponed indefinitely.

On Dec. 4, Zardari announced that he would address Pakistan's parliament about the Memogate issue, in which his former ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani stands accused of orchestrating a scheme to take power away from Pakistan's senior military and intelligence leadership and asking for U.S. help in preventing a military coup. Haqqani has denied that he wrote the memo at the heart of the scheme, which also asked for U.S. support for the Zardari government and promised to realign Pakistani foreign policy to match U.S. interests.

The memo was passed from Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz to former National Security Advisor Jim Jones, to then Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen on May 10, only nine days after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani military town of Abbottabad.

Ijaz has repeatedly accused Haqqani of being behind the memo, and Ijaz claims that Haqqani was working with Zardari's implicit support.

Early on Tuesday morning, Zardari's spokesman revealed that the president had traveled to Dubai to see his children and undergo medical tests linked to a previously diagnosed "cardiovascular condition."

A former U.S. government official told The Cable today that when President Barack Obama spoke with Zardari over the weekend regarding NATO's killing of the 24 Pakistani soldiers, Zardari was "incoherent." The Pakistani president had been feeling increased pressure over the Memogate scandal. "The noose was getting tighter -- it was only a matter of time," the former official said, expressing the growing expectation inside the U.S. government that Zardari may be on the way out.

The former U.S. official said that parts of the U.S. government were informed that Zardari had a "minor heart attack" on Monday night and flew to Dubai via air ambulance today. He may have angioplasty on Wednesday and may also resign on account of "ill health."

"This is the ‘in-house change option' that has been talked about," said Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, in a Tuesday interview with The Cable. Nawaz said that this plan would see Zardari step aside and be replaced by his own party, preserving the veneer of civilian rule but ultimately acceding to the military's wishes to get rid of Zardari.

"Unfortunately, it means that the military may have had to use its muscle to effect change yet again," said Nawaz. "Now if they stay at arm's length and let the party take care of its business, then things may improve. If not, then this is a silent coup with [Pakistani prime minister Yousaf Raza] Gilani as the front man."

In Islamabad, some papers have reported that before Zardari left Pakistan, the Pakistani Army insisted that Zardari be examined by their own physicians, and that the Army doctors determined that Zardari was fine and did not need to leave the country for medical reasons. Zardari's spokesman has denied that he met with the Army doctors.

One Pakistani source told The Cable that Zardari was informed on Monday that none of the opposition party members nor any of the service chiefs would attend his remarks to the parliament as a protest against his continued tenure. This source also said that over a dozen of Zardari's ambassadors in foreign countries were in the process of being recalled in what might be a precursor to Zardari stepping down as president, taking many of his cronies with him.

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported that before leaving, Zardari met separately with Gilani, Chairman of the Senate Farooq H Naik, and Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

This past weekend, the Memogate scandal worsened for Zardari when Ijaz alleged in a Newsweek opinion piece that Zardari and Haqqani had prior knowledge of the U.S. raid to kill bin Laden, and may have given permission for the United States to violate Pakistan's airspace to conduct the raid.

On May 2, the day after bin Laden was killed, Wajid Hasan, Pakistan's high commissioner to the United Kingdom, said in an interview with CNN that Pakistan, "did know that this was going to happen because we have been keeping -- we were monitoring him and America was monitoring him. But Americans got to where he was first."

In a statement given to the Associated Press of Pakistan Monday, White House spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said that information on the actual operation to kill bin Laden was not given to anyone in Pakistan.

"As we've said repeatedly, given the sensitivity of the operation, to protect our operators we did not inform the Pakistani government, or any other government, in advance," she said.

Zardari lived in self-imposed exile in Dubai from 2004 through 2007 after being released from prison, where he had been held for eight years on corruption charges. His three children live there, but his 23-year son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the chairman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), is in Pakistan now.
87  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 04, 2011, 05:59:03 PM

Why I find US attacks on Pakistan satisfying
What goes around comes around… The US military has spanked the Pakistani army and humiliated its leadership by attacking outposts on the Af-Pak border and killing 24 soldiers.
Normally, I feel strongly against such blatant violations of the sovereignty of independent nations. But, and only as an exception, I must confess, the US action is giving me immense pleasure.
Adding to my satisfaction, even unconcealed glee, is the decision of US President Barrack Obama not to tender an apology for the attack.
A respected colleague is aghast at my reaction. He accuses me of being intrinsically anti-Pakistani.
I’m not.
But I also don’t believe, even for a minute, that it is a friendly country; that engagement with it is the best way forward for us; that a strong and stable Pakistan is in our best interest; and that we must do our bit to strengthen its democratically elected government and the civil society from which it draws its authority.
And that’s why I feel vindicated when the US gives Pakistan a solid hiding and a very visible black eye – something that the Indian government seems singularly incapable of doing.
For decades, India and its citizens have been at the receiving end of a well-documented, highly visible but never publicly acknowledged war declared by the rulers of Islamabad.
For decades, Indians have been chaffing at the impunity with which the perpetrators of terror from across the border have been plying their craft in this country and the brazenness with which their political masters in Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been denying their complicity and even defending them as so-called freedom fighters, social workers and heroes.
So, it comes as a delicious irony to see Pakistan at the receiving end of its own medicine; to see Pakistani sovereignty violated with impunity by a “friendly nation”, which refuses even to apologise for the havoc it caused.
And how have the Pakistanis reacted – to this attack as well as the one six months ago that killed terror mastermind Osama bin Laden right under the noses of his hosts in that country’s establishment?
“We will not tolerate this.”
“Next time, we will hit back.”
“We will retaliate.”
The impotent rage ringing out from those words is music to my ears.
We’ve heard our leaders repeat them thousands of times in the past. We know them for just what they are: false bravado.
There’s nothing the Pakistani government or military can do about it. The Pakistani leadership knows it, too. They’ve heard it for decades from their Indian counterparts – and chuckled.
Now, they’re being forced to parrot these same lines. And I can bet my bottom dollar that they’re not chuckling this time.
The Indian government is also not chuckling – at least not publicly. Officially, India wants the US and Pakistan – “two friendly powers” – to resolve their differences.
All right… we may not have the means to punish Pakistan for being the neighbourhood delinquent, but we can at least call a spade a spade!
What amazes me is the continued belief across the Indian political spectrum – right, left and centre – in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, that peace with Pakistan is possible on respectable terms and that India must somehow try and help that country’s civilian government consolidate its grip on power.
Complete tosh.
Look at the evidence:
* Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a civilian, reneged on the Simla Pact as soon as India returned 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war;
* Gen Zia ul Haq, his successor, began exporting thousands of jehadi fighters into India to bleed this country to death by a thousand cuts;
* Bhutto’s daughter Benazir, despite publicly wanting peace with India, set the Kashmir valley in flames in 1989;
* Kargil happened during the reign of Nawaz Sharif;
* Gen Parvez Musharaf, who overthrew Sharif in a coup, is widely believed to be the author of Kargil; and
* Pakistan planned and executed the 26/11 attack on Mumbai when Benazir’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, was (and remains) President. Indian home minister P Chidambaram complained only last week that Pakistan continues to protect the perpetrators of that attack even as it continues to stonewall Indian demands to bring them to justice.
So, no Pakistani ruler over the last 40 years – whether civilian, military or civilian-backed-by-the-military – has seriously pursued peace with India.
And the peace overtures by every Indian leader – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh – have been rebuffed with asymmetric warfare, political doublespeak, diplomatic grandstanding and brazen deceit.
Pakistan’s bottom line has always been: give us Kashmir, or else…
It has not budged from this position since Independence.
All the concessions, it has demanded overtly and covertly, have to come from India. Regrettably, successive rulers in New Delhi have, in their eagerness for peace, willingly suspended disbelief and fallen into the Pakistani trap.
Tell me: which book of strategy, which master of real politick, which treatise on international relations has ever said: It is in your best interest to strengthen your enemy.
Even the US, without whose military and financial support Pakistan will collapse, has not been able to make Pakistan behave like a responsible member of the international community.
Then, Pakistan’s foundational premise was anti-Indian and it continues to define its existence on an anti-India paradigm.
So, New Delhi’s hopes of responsible behaviour and neighbourliness from Pakistan is nothing but the victory of irrational expectation over experience.
Already, many influential circles around the world consider Pakistan a failed state. It may be in India’s best interest to let it fail completely. And if its constituent parts – Sindh, Balochistan, Northwest Frontier Province and Punjab — want to go their own way, let them.
My respected colleague is getting very agitated, almost on the verge of having a fit. How can you consider Pakistan an enemy? he demands. That is the language of 19th century geopolitics.
And that, to me, is the language of post-modern denial.
Friendly, it isn’t; neutral, it can’t be… I’m sorry, but I can’t find any other word to describe Pakistan. Let’s face it, the Allies didn’t win the Second World War by calling Nazi Germany a friend; the West didn’t win the Cold War by describing Soviet Bloc inhabitants as comrades; and the Indian Army didn’t liberate Bangladesh by being buddies with General Niazi’s hordes.
That still leaves the main question unanswered: how do we deal with our troublesome western neighbour?
War is not an option, India lacks the capability for covert action and talks have not yielded any results.
The honest answer is, like the Indian government and, indeed, the rest of the world, I don’t know.
But I do know this: the first step towards resolving the problem of Pakistan is to acknowledge that Pakistan is, indeed, a problem. And considering Pakistan a friend is not a step in that direction.
Meanwhile, I continue to savour the quiet satisfaction of seeing Pakistan getting what it had coming for a long, long time.
88  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 02, 2011, 06:39:26 PM
Pakiness, 101: Pakistan cannot be understood, without understanding pakiness. Hoping to repeatedly point out examples of typical paki behaviour...which needs to be recognized as it is a recurring pattern. If our govt understood these behaviours, we could have saved ourselves billions in treasure and lost lives.

Key word: Down hill skiing: First they will take an extreme position (ie will boycott Bonn meeting), then when suitable pressure is applied, will back down under flimsy excuses.
Pakistan budges on Bonn meet


Pakistan on Wednesday hinted at the possibility of participating in the coming Bonn Conference on Afghanistan but ruled out any high-level representation on the ground that Afghan soil had been used by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to attack the country in what the Army calls a “deliberate” act of aggression.

Agreeing to consider German Chancellor Angela Merkel's repeated requests for Islamabad's participation, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said he would refer the suggestion of having Pakistan's Ambassador in Germany attend the deliberations to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security.

Ms. Merkel called Mr. Gilani to impress upon him the importance of Pakistan's participation at the meeting to make it meaningful. As Mr. Gilani was unwilling to budge on high-level participation, she suggested the Ambassador be permitted to represent Pakistan so that its seat at the table was not left vacant.

In view of bilateral relations and the fact that the German Foreign Minister was among the first to personally call his Pakistani counterpart to express solidarity with Pakistan and condole the death of 24 Pakistan Army soldiers in the NATO firing at Pakistani outposts on Saturday morning, Mr. Gilani agreed to refer the request to the Parliamentary Committee.

Meanwhile, the formal communication to the U.S. asking it to vacate the Shamsi airbase has been sent with December 11 set as the deadline.

Pakistan has released footage of two posts which came under fire from helicopters of the coalition forces in Afghanistan and wanted to know where the NATO casualties were in case there was firing from the Pakistani side.
89  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 28, 2011, 07:13:04 PM
This is another Strat like US  agency reporting..

Pakistan-US: Comment: The news accounts are reasonably consistent that a NATO helicopter attack killed two dozen or more Pakistani paramilitary forces. The NATO account insists that Pakistani officers cooperated in the attack. Another story says that Afghan officers called in the air attack, which occurred inside Pakistan's Mohmand Agency. Another account says US forces were far into Pakistani national territory.

The Torkham border crossing, near Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan, has been closed to truck traffic to Afghanistan. The border crossing point at Spin Buldak in the south, evidently, remains open. The Islamabad government has ordered the CIA to vacate a remote air base that is used for drone attacks but supposedly had been ordered to vacate six months ago.

None of that matters much. All of it is for public consumption because the Pakistani civilian government and military leadership are involved in some fashion. This incident will be covered up. None of the stake holders perceive any benefit from making this incident a cause celebre, an international sensation. The logistics supply line for Afghanistan is much less dependent on Pakistani roads than on central Asian railroads.

On the other hand, Pakistani public hostility for the US will spike.
90  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 28, 2011, 07:06:18 PM
Here's much I can agree with..

Blazing Saddles in Pakistan
By Spengler

In Mel Brooks' 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles, a welcoming committee for a new sheriff turns into a lynch mob when it discovers the man is black. He points his gun at his own temple and says, ''One step closer and the [N-word] gets it!'' The townspeople back off, rather like the American government every time it catches Pakistan supporting the Taliban or other enemies of the United States. Pakistan menaces the United States with the prospect of its own failure. Pak also holds a gun to its own head, gimme money or I pull the trigger

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum summed up the Washington consensus at last week's national security debate, ''Pakistan must be our friend'' because it has nuclear weapons. America can't do without Pakistan, that is, because if Pakistan breaks up, nuclear weapons might reach the hands of terrorists. The flaw in this argument is that Pakistan itself is governed by terrorists. That is why it has been so successful. It scares its neighbors. American policy, instead, should force the burden of uncertainty onto Pakistan. Remember the paki army is jihadi

Last week's North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air strike on Pakistani frontier outposts prompted Islamabad to stop resupply of NATO forces in Afghanistan, leaving Washington to apologize for the ''unintended tragic'' deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers. Rather than calling Pakistan to account for the attack on the American embassy in Kabul by the al-Haqqani network, which outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Michael Mullen September 22 called ''a veritable arm'' of Pakistan's ISI, America finds itself on the defensive. If the Pakistanis fired on NATO forces before the latter called in an air strike, as the Afghan government claims, we should infer that Pakistan provoked the incident in order to wrong-foot the United States. Typical paki behaviour

Considering that the United States wants Pakistan to pursue military operations against a largely Pashtun insurgency in Afghanistan, while Pashtuns comprise a fifth of the Pakistan's people, friendship seems an odd choice of words. its called frenemiesAmerican policy threatens to tear Pakistan apart, and Islamabad's double-dealing is understandable under the circumstances. The only way to make Pakistan behave is to convince Islamabad that it will be torn apart if it does not accommodate American demands. Absent the threat of encirclement and dismemberment, Pakistan will do everything to avoid exacerbating what already amounts to a low-level civil war. America's strategic objective in the region - eradicating Islamist terrorists - poses an existential threat to the Pakistani state. The only way to force Pakistan to accommodate itself to American objectives is to pose an even worse existential threat.

Pakistan's pursuit of ''strategic depth'' - projecting its influence through support for Islamist groups in Afghanistan, and Kashmir, as well as terror attacks inside India - stems from weakness. As Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi writes in the Winter 2012 issue of Middle East Quarterly, ''Pakistan itself is an artificial state composed of diverse ethnic groups that are united solely by religious affiliation. Hence, fear of Pashtun and Baloch (Pakistan's largest provinces geographically) desires for autonomy or independence, together with concern about India's influence, also provides a basis for pursuing Pakistani strategic depth. For example, to suppress Baloch nationalism, the Pakistani military and intelligence have engaged in human rights abuses including the arrest and disappearance of some 8,000 Baloch activists in secret prisons.''

After three years of American strategic disengagement under the Obama administration, that has become a difficult proposition. Involving the Indian military in Afghanistan with a limited by open-ended mandate would have served notice to Islamabad that America was serious. Two years ago, Pakistani websites fluttered with rumors that India would deploy 120,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, staking a claim as America's strategic partner. It is doubtful that any such offer was on the table, but India at the time was prepared for a smaller deployment. Under present circumstances, New Delhi wants no part of an adventure that the Americans are preparing to abandon.

India simply does not trust the Obama administration to stand up for American interests in the region. China has moved into the vacuum left by American policy in Pakistan, deploying 11,000 soldiers in the Gilgat-Baltistan region of southern Kashmir. Ostensibly the Chinese are there to secure high-speed road rail links between the Chinese-built ports on Pakistan's coast and Western China, but their presence also reinforces Pakistan's control over a rebellious region. The small Chinese force, moreover, raises the stakes in any potential confrontation over Kashmir between India and Pakistan; if Chinese troops were to get in the middle of a fight, China might be drawn in on Pakistan's side. Pakistan now has two air force squadrons flying China's JF-17 ''Thunder'' jet and shortly will add a third.

After the September 13 attack on the American embassy in Kabul, the United States made belated and tentative gestures to India, including the first formal offer to sell India the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. As M K Bhadrakumar argued in this space (see Hindu art of double hedging against China, Asia Times Online, November 10), New Delhi must weigh the advantages of its strategic alignment with the United States against the fact of American strategic disengagement under the Obama administration. Whether India takes up the American offer for the F-35's depends on a number of factors, including the disappointing pace of progress in its joint development of a Fifth Generation fighter in cooperation with Russia. The F-35's though, will not change the perception that Washington is guarding its rear as it withdraws from the region.

The Obama administration has painted itself in to a corner. It cannot cajole or threaten Pakistan. On the contrary, Pakistan is threatening Washington. China's growing presence in Pakistan reduces America's capacity to punish Pakistan, for example, by withdrawing support for American-built fighter aircraft. India remains understandably cautious. And the Afghan war, as Mr. Al-Tamimi wrote in the Middle East quarterly, ''will prove at best a massive drain on US resources and lives, possibly reaching a cost of up to $100 billion a year, all for killing a few dozen al-Qaeda militants in a country whose annual gross domestic product is a mere $13 billion.''

To persuade India to align itself decisively with American interests, and China to lower its profile, the United States would have to execute a 180-degree turn. It would have to repudiate Obama's disengagement and declare its intent to remain the world's unchallenged superpower, and make this credible by investing in strategic superiority. That would require major investments in aircraft carriers, fighter aircraft, drone technology, and theater missile defense.

That is expensive, but there are other ways to economize. At the same time, America should renounce nation-building in Afghanistan and settle instead for a prolonged, if not perpetual, war of attrition against its enemies. By historical analogy, Washington should handle Afghanistan the way that Cardinal Richelieu dealt with the German Empire during the Thirty Years' War. Rather than fund a corrupt and ineffective Afghan army dominated by Tajiks, the United States should acquire Pashtun capabilities of its own; perhaps it should quietly support Pashtun and Balochi separatists operating inside Pakistan. Among other things, this is cheaper than maintaining an army of occupation. Cutting off aid to the corrupt Karzai government, moreover, will drastically reduce the cost of hiring local armies.

America's misguided attempt to stabilize Afghanistan allows Islamabad to blackmail the United States by threatening to promote instability. If the United States accepts Afghan instability as a permanent condition and uses its in-country capability to wear down its enemies in a standing civil war, it can turn the tables by threatening to export the instability to Pakistan. Pakistan has been truncated before, when it lost Bangladesh. It could happen again. The object is not to dismember Pakistan, but rather to persuade Islamabad to behave. If this seems harsh, it is worth recalling that Washington has done this sort of thing before. The Reagan administration did its best to prolong the Iran-Iraq war.

China has a general interest in limiting American power, but it also has a specific interest in forcing Pakistan to crack down on Islamist terrorism. The 100 million Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang constitute the greatest threat of a breakaway province within China's borders, and Beijing has complained that Pakistan's intelligence services are training Uyghur terrorists for infiltration into China. Islamabad, once again, is not in control over radical Islamists in its own military.

If America puts a figurative gun to the head of the Pakistani government and orders it to extirpate the radical Islamists in the military, two outcomes are possible. One is that Islamabad will succeed. The second is that it will fail, and the country will degenerate into chaos. That is the scenario the American policy is supposed to avoid at all costs, but it is hard to see why America would be worse off. If the elements of Pakistani intelligence that foster terrorism cannot be suppressed, it is clear that they are using resources of the central government to support terrorism. In the worst case, they will continue to foster terrorism, but without the resources of the central government. From America's vantage point, a disorderly collapse of Pakistan into a failed state is a better outcome than a strong central government that sponsors terrorism. At worst, a prolonged civil conflict between American-backed elements of the Pakistani military and Islamist radicals would leave the radicals weaker than they are now.

The simplest solution to the problem of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is to frighten the Pakistani army into eliminating the prospective terrorists who might use them. The second-best solution is to send the American army into Pakistan and take the nuclear weapons away. I believe Jeffrey Goldberg's and Marc Ambinder's report in The Atlantic Monthly that if the United States were to deploy troops in Pakistan to secure the country's nuclear weapons, China would raise no objections. If Islamist terrorists were to get hold of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, China would be at the top of their list of prospective targets.

Much as China might enjoy America's discomfiture in the region, American and Chinese interests converge around terrorism (and especially nuclear terrorism). Given America's present weakness, it may take some effort to iterate towards convergence with China. Threats to China's territorial integrity, though, have Beijing's undivided attention, and if America makes clear that draining the Pakistani swamp reflects support for China's efforts to preserve territorial integrity, rational self-interest will assert itself.

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman. His book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Too) was published by Regnery Press in September 2011. A volume of his essays on culture, religion and economics, It's Not the End of the World - It's Just the End of You, also appeared this fall, from Van Praag Press.
91  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 28, 2011, 06:51:06 PM
NATO regret not enough: Army
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Army while expressing its disgust over the NATO attacks has said that it does not accept NATO's apology and that this action can lead to serious consequences, Geo News reported Monday.

According to Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas, NATO’s regret over the attack is not enough.

In a pre-dawn attack on November 26 NATO attacked a Pakistani check posts in the Mohmand Agency in which 24 soldiers were killed.

Pakis want $$, how difficult is that to understand grin
92  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 28, 2011, 06:38:29 PM
Obama wont be starting a new war, this close to the elections. I think there are many in the military who know what needs to be done, but the political will is lacking. One of the reasons that the admin does not take action is because of the cold war mentality when the US sided with Pak and the USSR/Russia with India, another has to do with maintainence of parity between India and Pak. Now that China is becoming a challenge for the US, very grudgingly the US is supporting India at the expense of China (again trying to maintain balance of power).
93  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 27, 2011, 05:23:10 PM

What do you make of the airstrike by the US on the two Pak outposts?  I get a sense that our generals may be looking to influence/manipulate/force the our CiC to places he may not otherwise wish to go.

Strat says that the location of the outposts was well known to the US, so its very likely a response to hostile fire. I think the US govt is quite pi$$ed at pak, so they are having a pi$$ing match. Pakis shoot across the border with pak army support, and the US decides to pulverize them.
I dont think the US has as yet reached a stage where a decision has been made to get tough with Pak. Govt officials are still confused about Pak, eg Michelle Bachman who is on the House Intelligence Services committee (I think), said wrt Pak at the last republican debate, that we need mollycoddle them and fund them because of their nukes, and that they can descend into chaos etc. We dont even have the guts to stop funding Pak, there is no question of Obama starting a new war.
94  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What the generals can't say in public on: November 27, 2011, 08:30:50 AM
As a public service, Best Defense is offering this primer for generals on their way to Afghanistan.

Here is a list of 19 things that many insiders and veterans of Afghanistan agree to be true about the war there, but that generals can't say in public. So, general, read this now and believe it later-but keep your lip zipped. Maybe even keep a printout in your wallet and review before interviews.

My list of things to remember I can't say

1.Pakistan is now an enemy of the United States.

2. We don't know why we are here, what we are fighting for, or how to know if we are winning.

3.The strategy is to fight, talk, and build. But we're withdrawing the fighters, the Taliban won't talk, and the builders are corrupt.

4. Karzai's family is especially corrupt.

5. We want President Karzai gone but we don't have a Pushtun successor handy.

6.But the problem isn't corruption, it is which corrupt people are getting the dollars. We have to help corruption be more fair.

7.Another thing we'll never stop here is the drug traffic, so the counternarcotics mission is probably a waste of time and resources that just alienates a swath of Afghans.

8.Making this a NATO mission hurt, not helped. Most NATO countries are just going through the motions in Afghanistan as the price necessary to keep the US in Europe.

9.Yes, the exit deadline is killing us.

10.Even if you got a deal with the Taliban, it wouldn't end the fighting.

11.The Taliban may be willing to fight forever. We are not.

12.Yes, we are funding the Taliban, but hey, there's no way to stop it, because the truck companies bringing goods from Pakistan and up the highway across Afghanistan have to pay off the Taliban. So yeah, your tax dollars are helping Mullah Omar and his buddies. Welcome to the neighborhood.

13.Even non-Taliban Afghans don't much like us.

14.Afghans didn't get the memo about all our successes, so they are positioning themselves for the post-American civil war .
And they're not the only ones getting ready. The future of Afghanistan is probably evolving up north now as the Indians, Russians and Pakistanis jockey with old Northern Alliance types. Interestingly, we're paying more and getting less than any other player.
Speaking of positioning for the post-American civil war, why would the Pakistanis sell out their best proxy shock troops now?

15.The ANA and ANP could break the day after we leave the country.

16.We are ignoring the advisory effort and fighting the "big war" with American troops, just as we did in Vietnam. And the U.S. military won't act any differently until and work with the Afghan forces seriously until when American politicians significantly draw down U.S. forces in country-when it may be too damn late.

17.The situation American faces in Afghanistan is similar to the one it faced in Vietnam during the Nixon presidency: A desire a leave and turn over the war to our local allies, combined with the realization that our allies may still lose, and the loss will be viewed as a U.S. defeat anyway.

Thanks to several people who contributed to this, from California to Kunar and back to DC, and whose names must not be mentioned! You know who you are. The rest of you, look at the guy sitting to your right.
95  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Junior officer coup coming? on: November 27, 2011, 07:32:09 AM
From B.Raman's blog..


Appearing in a talk show hosted by Suhasini Haidar of CNN-IBN on November 26,2011, I said that I never believed a coup was likely in Pakistan as a result of the Army’s anger over the so-called Memogate affair . I added that Pakistan had an independent judiciary today and that, hence, the Army would not have the confidence that it could get a coup validated by the judiciary post-facto.

2.If Suhasini were to ask me the same question today in the light of the outrage in the Pakistan Army over the reported death of 28 Pakistani troops due to a mistaken NATO airstrike on two Pakistani military posts about two kms from the Afghan border in the Mohmand Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on November 26, my reply would be a little more nuanced.

3. I would still rule out a coup by senior officers headed by Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), who are quite capable of rational thinking regarding the legal and other consequences of a coup, but I would not rule out a coup by subalterns and middle level officers enraged over the failure of their senior officers and the political leadership to protect the honour of the Pakistan Army against repeated infringements by the US and other NATO forces.

4. One saw reports of such anger in the barracks over the failure of the senior military leadership to prevent the US Commando raid to kill Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad on May 2,2011.Kayani managed to control this anger with great difficulty by undertaking a tour of important military cantonments.

5. Reports received by me from Pakistani sources, who are not known to have misled me in the past, claim that one could see similar anger over the latest incident spreading across the barracks. The anger is against the US as well as against the senior leadership of the Army. The reports indicate that organisations such as the Hizbut Tehrir have been trying to fan this anger.

6.If this anger doesn’t subside, there is a danger of a successful or attempted coup in Pakistan organised by officers at middle level, who would not be bothered about the legal consequences of a coup. The Pakistan Army is a disciplined force. In its history, there has never been a successful coup by junior officers. However, there were two instances of attempted junior officers’ coup, the preparations for which were detected in time by the senior military leadership and crushed.

7. The last of them was in 1995 when Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister and Gen Abdul Wahid Kakkar was the COAS. A group of middle level officers headed by Brig. Zahir-ul-Islam Abbasi, fromer Defence Attache to India, joined hands with the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and planned to capture power after killing Benazir and the COAS. The plans for the coup were accidentally detected and the officers concerned arrested and court-martialled.

8. When Gen.Pervez Musharraf was in power we had seen reports of individual junior officers of the Army and the Air Force, who were angry over Musharraf’s co-operation with the US, joining hands with Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda elements in a conspiracy to have Musharraf assassinated. Their role came to notice during the investigation into the two attempts to kill Musharraf in December,2003, allegedly orchestrated by Abu Faraj at-Libbi of Al Qaeda now in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre of the US.

9. The anti-US anger in the lower and middle ranks of the Pakistan Army after the Abbottabad raid has till now been kept under control by Kayani. If the anger over the killing of 28 troops, including two officers, allegedly by NATO air strikes on Pakistani military posts in the Momand Agency is not carefully and tactfully handled by the US and the Pakistani civilian and military leadership, there is a danger of this anger getting out of control leading to a conspiracy of the junior officers.

10. If such a conspiracy is successful with the co-operation of jihadi elements, there would be a real threat of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal coming under their control. Senior Pakistani Army officers are responsible people who are quite capable of ensuring that there is no misuse of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. I do not have the same confidence about the junior officers.

11. The US-Pakistan relations are going from bad to worse--- particularly the military-military and intelligence-intelligence relationship. There is a lot of glee among many Indian analysts over it. This need not necessarily be a beneficial development for India. It is in our interest that the US retains the ability to influence the behaviour of the Pakistani military leadership.

12. The situation in Pakistan needs very close monitoring. (27-11-11)
96  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 26, 2011, 04:55:01 PM
Strat  reports "An outpost, located near the Afghan border in the Mohmand Agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, was struck in the early morning hours of Nov. 26, reportedly by U.S. attack helicopters. The incident is remarkable for the number of deaths it caused and comes at a time of increasing tensions between the United States and Pakistan — tensions that are likely now to get worse, regardless of the results of Pakistan’s investigation into the incident.".

The paki generals have their knickers in a twist. I dont think this will die down very quickly. Pakistani H&D has been violated again, as was their sovirginity (pronounced sovereignty in USA). Looks like US forces have been given the right to retaliate hostile fire.
97  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 24, 2011, 10:36:05 AM
1. Whoever coined the term "Af-Pak" deserves a lot of credit. It holds the key to a solution for the region, which the authors of the above articles seem to miss. ie the role of Pak in the afghan mess. Unless we are willing to deal with Pak, no point wasting time/money in Afghanistan. Also the person who coined "Fk-Ap", deserves a lot of credit, for elegantly explaining the situation.

2. We worry a lot about paki nukes getting into the hands of the taliban and AQ types. But in all honesty, is the paki army not already a jihadi force (their motto: Iman, Taqwa, Jihad fi Sabilillah ) to some extent, with a fraction of it being hardcore jihadi. So the real worry should be what if we have a  jihadi general holding the football, or what if that person has a death wish and wishes to pay back the Big Satan before collecting his 72 houris. I recently met someone who knows a lot about these matters, he thought that there was zero chance that the bomb could be hijacked by outside groups, but an insider could do it.

98  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Palace coup unfolding on: November 17, 2011, 06:57:56 PM
For those of you wondering what this Strat snippet means...see the article below.

"Pakistan: Ambassador To U.S. Offers To Resign
November 16, 2011 | 2109 GMT         
Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani wrote a letter to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in which he offered to resign from his post because of his involvement with a memo allegedly sent from Zardari to former U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, The News International reported Nov. 16.",b=facebook

Is a Palace Coup Unfolding in Pakistan?
Posted: 11/16/11 10:36 AM ET

A palace coup could be in the offing in nuclear-armed Pakistan as pro-Taliban army generals try to undermine democratically elected civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

First indications that something foul was afoot in Islamabad came on the weekend when Pakistan's top four military officials, including powerful Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani became conspicuous by their absence at a state banquet hosted by President Zardari for the visiting President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan.

For Pakistan watchers, the presence or absence of the top military leadership at events organized by a civilian government is an indication of the state of relations between the Pakistan's poweful power-hungry military and the weak civilian administration in Islamabad.

The obvious boycott of a state dinner hosted by Pakistan's president by his top generals and admirals, who are supposedly answerable to him, was not the only signal that something sinister was taking place. The absence was followed by the resignation from the ruling party by the former foreign minister, which too was suspected to have come after prodding by the military.

The latest tug of war between the government of president Zardari and his generals erupted on October 11, 2011 when the Financial Times ran an op-ed titled "Time to take on Pakistan's Jihadis."

In the article, Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-American businessman, claimed he was contacted by a senior Pakistani diplomat close to President Zardari and asked to contact Admiral Mullen to prevent a military coup from taking place in Pakistan. The military was outraged and wanted heads to roll. Ijaz wrote:

"Early on May 9, a week after US Special Forces stormed the hideout of Osama bin Laden and killed him, a senior Pakistani diplomat telephoned me with an urgent request. Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan's president, needed to communicate a message to White House national security officials that would bypass Pakistan's military and intelligence channels.
The embarrassment of bin Laden being found on Pakistani soil had humiliated Mr Zardari's weak civilian government to such an extent that the president feared a military takeover was imminent. He needed an American fist on his army chief's desk to end any misguided notions of a coup - and fast."

Ijaz further claimed that a memo was drafted and delivered to Admiral Mullen on May 10.

"In a flurry of phone calls and emails over two days a memorandum was crafted that included a critical offer from the Pakistani president to the Obama administration: 'The new national security team will eliminate Section S of the ISI charged with maintaining relations to the Taliban, Haqqani network, etc. This will dramatically improve relations with Afghanistan.'"
The pro-military media in Pakistan suggested the diplomat in question was Pakistan's ambassador the U.S., former Boston University professor, Husain Haqqani --a man not liked by his country's Jihadis, whether civilian or military.

Both Admiral Mullen and Islamabad denied that any such back door diplomacy had taken place, but the denials could not put out the fire. What was ostensibly written as a critique of Pakistan's jihadi extremists in fact turned out to have the exact opposite effect. In a country where anti-Americanism is rife, the elected civilian government was made out to appear as lackeys of the U.S.

Could the writer have intended to weaken the government and strengthen the military? Mansoor Ijaz is not new to controversy. According to the International Herald Tribune's Pakistan edition, "a deeper look into Ijaz's background provides evidence that this hasn't been the first time the influential businessman has raised controversy concerning his alleged role as a secret international diplomat."

The IHT discloses that :

"In 1996, he was accused of trying to extort money from the Pakistani government in exchange for delivering votes in the US House of Representatives on a Pakistan-related trade provision. Ijaz, who runs the firm Crescent Investment Management LLC in New York, has been an interlocutor between U.S. officials and foreign government for years, amid constant accusations of financial conflicts of interest. He reportedly arranged meetings between U.S. officials and former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. He also reportedly gave over $1 million to Democratic politicians in the 1990s and attended Christmas events at former President Bill Clinton's White House. Ijaz has ties to former CIA Director James Woolsey and his investment firm partner is Reagan administration official James Alan Abrahamson."

Anywhere else a civilian diplomat warning directly or indirectly against a military coup would not be deemed wrong in itself. But in Pakistan, a civilian Prime Minister was toppled and arrested (Nawaz Sharif, in 1999 by General Musharraf) for simply trying to assert civilian control over the military. Even if Zardari and his diplomat had, as Ijaz claims, asked Ijaz to contact the American government to use its influence against a military coup, there was nothing unlawful or unconstitutional in what he did. But in Pakistan, Ijaz's claims have provoked circumstances that are threatening at least the sacking of a respected ambassador and possibly undermining civilian rule.
Knowing the workings of Pakistan's intelligence services, Ijaz's article could have been part of a plan by the ISI to destabilize Pakistani democracy once again.

On Monday, the moves by the military triggered a closed-door meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and the country's dour Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani followed by another meeting between Zardari and the Chief of Army Staff Gen. Kayani.

The generals are adamant. President Zardari has being asked to summon his ambassador to the U.S. back to Islamabad for a full dressing down by the junta. According to the Pakistani newspaper The News, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani decided on Monday to call Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to Washington, to Islamabad to brief the country's leadership on a host of issues impacting on Pak-U.S. relations and recent developments."

Long before Haqqani was appointed as Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S., he had exposed the close links between the Pakistan military and the country's Islamist jihadis in his book, Pakistan: Between Mosque and the Military. For that sin, the men in boots have never forgiven the man they cannot control.

Haqqani, described by Bloomberg as the "hardest working man in DC," has been in the sights of the Pak Army and its intelligence wing, the ISI, who do not trust the academic. They fear he has exposed their attempts to double-cross the USA and as such want his skin as a price for allowing Zardari to stay in power.

The developments in Islamabad and the demand by the army to fire Haqqani should also be seen in light of the sudden rise in the profile of Pakistan's leading pro-Taliban politician, former cricketer Imran Khan. The establishment in Pakistan has run a brilliant campaign to project Khan as both a patriotic Islamist as well as a liberal. Using his Oxford background, he cultivates the ultimate anti-American modernist who has charmed the urban middle classes as the 'non-politician.'

Because of the Kerry-Lugar Bill, the army cannot overthrow an elected government as it used to do in the past, but the generals and the ISI are propping up a Khan and demanding the firing of the liberal Haqqani.

The sad part is that Islamist influence inside the U.S. State Department may result in a nod of approval to the Khakis to trigger a civilian coup. If Ambassador Haqqani is fired, can president Zardari be far behind?

99  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 12, 2011, 08:45:32 PM
Karachi fashion week: male burkha coming to a street near you..

100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 05, 2011, 01:02:50 PM

Probable Future Paki leader...Imran Khan

Imran Khan and his Tehreek-e-Insaf held a mammoth rally at the Minar-e-Pakistan Lahore on 30 October 2011 - estimated by the ISI to be two-lakh strong - and put the fear of God in both the PMLN and the PPP that Imran Khan had been targeting. He pushed the familiar buttons: challenged India on Kashmir, vowed to replace the US with China as Pakistan's ally, threatened corrupt politicians with civil disobedience 'in a few months', and foresaw midterm general election after March 2012.

Imran Khan has taken big strides in putting the country on notice about his party's political potential. He says he can win elections and form governments. That is what he should say as a politician, but the fact is that a lot of people have joined him in his rallying call to get rid of both the parties more or less settled into the groove of Pakistan's bipartisan system. Imran Khan is without the usual blemish of corruption; and his charity work places him above every other politician in the country.

He has an extreme posture, or at least he had before the party profile improved and he became conscious that Insaf may get more breakaway votes than he had counted on. In one of his latest TV shows he seemed more moderate than before about relations with India and the US, about tackling terrorism and the economy. Some of the recipes were romantic but that is quite forgivable in a person who has no experience of governance, doesn't know in depth how capitalist economics works, and is simply practising the pre-election hyperbole of the normal politician.

Yet his insistence that he would extend the tax net is the right thing to say although the number of people paying income tax in India is proportionately not much bigger and that takes nothing away from India's success a country with a high growth rate. Corruption and money stashed away abroad too has not distracted positive attention to India's law and order and a much better educational system.

Will Imran Khan embrace the more aggressive version of Islam which the Taliban have showcased in the Tribal Areas by cutting hands and stoning people to death? Will he oppose hudood the way Allama Iqbal did in his Sixth Lecture? Above all will he fight the Taliban if they reject him?
Bad governance in Pakistan is not linked to corruption and the Zardari Factor; it is clearly linked to terrorism and the presence of Al Qaeda in Pakistan with its Taliban followers fighting the state. Law and order is linked to the writ of the state which is non-existent in over 50 percent of the country and in cities like Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi. Imran Khan is opposed to the US presence in the region and Pakistan's collaboration with it in Afghanistan. The solution he has in mind is that the moment the US leaves and he comes to power, terrorism will stop in 90 days because the Taliban - Pakhtun and Punjabi - will simply return to being normal non-terrorist citizens of Pakistan. He is capitulatory to the Taliban; he is denunciatory of the political parties in power.

People who are scared of Al Qaeda and Taliban don't believe Imran Khan can bring peace in 90 days. They don't believe he can collect income tax to the level he promises - one trillion rupees extra in the first year in power - and his utopian governance through 200 perfect men seems too dreamlike. The pledge of gouging money from the corrupt and putting it back in the state kitty and getting politicians to bring their money back from foreign banks has been made in the past and has been belied by reality. Today money flees and comes back if the country has a soft image and there is law and order. Will Imran Khan give Pakistan a soft image?

Bad governance in Pakistan is not linked to corruption and the Zardari Factor; it is clearly linked to terrorism and the presence of Al Qaeda in Pakistan with its Taliban followers fighting the state. Law and order is linked to the writ of the state which is non-existent in over 50 percent of the country and in cities like Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi
In his book Pakistan: A Personal History (Bantam Press 2011), Imran Khan has handed us a clue about how his mind works and that could also be the reason why his party has been organisationally so neglected. Imran imbibed a strong sense of personal destiny. He recalls: 'Pir Gi from Sahiwal said I would be very famous and make my mother a household name' (p.89). Imran had announced his first retirement when he met another clairvoyant: 'Baba Chala, lived in a little village just a few miles from the Indian border. He certainly had not heard bout my retirement...the man looked at me and said I had not left my profession...It is the will of Allah; you are still in the game' (p.93).

The man who stood by him as his spiritual mentor was Mian Bashir (d.2005) who shocked him by naming the Quranic ayat his mother used to read to baby Imran and predicted that Allah had turned the tables in his favour in the Lamb-Botham libel suit whose reparations would have pauperised Imran (p.189). Mian Bashir also disarmed a sceptical Jemima by accurately guessing her three secret wishes (p.120).

From his sense of predestination comes his risk-taking character. But he says: 'The difference between a good leader and a bad one is that the former takes huge risks while fully grasping the consequences of failure. Leaders of a country shaping policies out of fear of losing power have always proved to be disastrous. Great leaders always have the ability to resist pressure and make policies according to their vision, rather than fear' (p.113).

One wonders how he will negotiate peace with the terrorists who have an ideology and say clearly that their aim is not only to get Pakistan out of the clutches of the US but also to impose the true sharia on Pakistan. And if warlords like Maulvi Faqir and Fazlullah and Mangal Bagh don't give ground, what will he do? We know Imran Khan's view of religion apart of the deeply spiritual clairvoyants he has been relying on. But will he embrace the more aggressive version which the Taliban have showcased in the Tribal Areas by cutting hands and stoning people to death? He is clearly wedded to the vision of Allama Iqbal. Will he oppose hudood the way the Allama did in his Sixth Lecture? Above all will he fight the Taliban if they reject him?

Probably shaken by a gallup survey that puts Imran Khan at the top of the popularity roster in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Maulana Fazlur Rehman has not been able to contain himself. Quoted in daily Jinnah (29 October 2011) he has lashed out at what he thinks is an un-Islamic 'walking together' by Imran with his divorced wife Jemima Khan who joined Imran in Islamabad in his campaign against drone attacks in the Tribal Areas. He said, 'Islam forbids mixing with one's divorcee wife; and it seems as if Imran Khan's future is still linked to Jemima Khan'.

If the MMA wants to make a comeback in KPK, Imran Khan definitely is not the favourite son of the religious parties. He was once roughed up by the Jamiat although the Jamaat Islami under Qazi Hussain Ahmad looked at him with favour. (Qazi Sahib said the funeral prayer for his late father.) But it is perhaps clear that no one - in addition to the PMLN - wants Imran Khan treading on their turf. The youth Imran Khan is attracting will probably take him further away from the religious parties and force him to distance the party from the pre-modern prescriptions that are so popular in the Muslim world. (His party already believes in joint electorates.) He was ignoring the non-Muslim minorities before the big Lahore rally but the fact is that they are a vote-bank waiting for him on the sidelines. The Christian backing to Shahbaz Sharif's show in Lahore on 28 October could be the writing on the wall.

Pakistan's top Urdu columnist Haroon Rashid, who is a bit of a loose cannon when it comes to analysing 'Captain' Imran Khan, and may share with him nothing more than his passion for 'desi murghi', wrote in Jang (29 October 2011) that if Imran Khan and his companions are true (sachay), they will do vigil (riyazat) and will place their trust in Allah who will give them the blinding (kheera-kun) conquest. The decisions, he wrote, were not taken on earth but in Heaven.
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