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Topic: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan (Read 343157 times)
Strat thought piece: Pak and the US exit
Reply #750 on:
September 28, 2010, 06:57:29 AM »
Not all of this makes sense to me (e.g. the comment on India) but George Friedman is no fool. What do we make of this?
Pakistan and the U.S. Exit From Afghanistan
September 28, 2010
By George Friedman
Bob Woodward has released another book, this one on the debate over Afghanistan strategy in the Obama administration. As all his books do, the book has riveted Washington. It reveals that intense debate occurred over what course to take, that the president sought alternative strategies and that compromises were reached. But while knowing the details of these things is interesting, what would have been shocking is if they hadn’t taken place.
It is interesting to reflect on the institutional inevitability of these disagreements. The military is involved in a war. It is institutionally and emotionally committed to victory in the theater of combat. It will demand all available resources for executing the war under way. For a soldier who has bled in that war, questioning the importance of the war is obscene. A war must be fought relentlessly and with all available means.
But while the military’s top generals and senior civilian leadership are responsible for providing the president with sound, clearheaded advice on all military matters including the highest levels of grand strategy, they are ultimately responsible for the pursuit of military objectives to which the commander-in-chief directs them. Generals must think about how to win the war they are fighting. Presidents must think about whether the war is worth fighting. The president is responsible for America’s global posture. He must consider what an unlimited commitment to a particular conflict might mean in other regions of the world where forces would be unavailable.
A president must take a more dispassionate view than his generals. He must calculate not only whether victory is possible but also the value of the victory relative to the cost. Given the nature of the war in Afghanistan, U.S. President Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus — first the U.S. Central Command chief and now the top commander in Afghanistan — had to view it differently. This is unavoidable. This is natural. And only one of the two is ultimately in charge.
The Nature of Guerrilla Warfare
In thinking about Afghanistan, it is essential that we begin by thinking about the nature of guerrilla warfare against an occupying force. The guerrilla lives in the country. He isn’t going anywhere else, as he has nowhere to go. By contrast, the foreigner has a place to which he can return. This is the core weakness of the occupier and the strength of the guerrilla. The former can leave and in all likelihood, his nation will survive. The guerrilla can’t. And having alternatives undermines the foreigner’s will to fight regardless of the importance of the war to him.
The strategy of the guerrilla is to make the option to withdraw more attractive. In order to do this, his strategic goal is simply to survive and fight on whatever level he can. His patience is built into who he is and what he is fighting for. The occupier’s patience is calculated against the cost of the occupation and its opportunity costs, thus, while troops are committed in this country, what is happening elsewhere?
Tactically, the guerrilla survives by being elusive. He disperses in small groups. He operates in hostile terrain. He denies the enemy intelligence on his location and capabilities. He forms political alliances with civilians who provide him supplies and intelligence on the occupation forces and misleads the occupiers about his own location. The guerrilla uses this intelligence network to decline combat on the enemy’s terms and to strike the enemy when he is least prepared. The guerrilla’s goal is not to seize and hold ground but to survive, evade and strike, imposing casualties on the occupier. Above all, the guerrilla must never form a center of gravity that, if struck, would lead to his defeat. He thus actively avoids anything that could be construed as a decisive contact.
The occupation force is normally a more conventional army. Its strength is superior firepower, resources and organization. If it knows where the guerrilla is and can strike before the guerrilla can disperse, the occupying force will defeat the guerrilla. The occupier’s problems are that his intelligence is normally inferior to that of the guerrillas; the guerrillas rarely mass in ways that permit decisive combat and normally can disperse faster than the occupier can pinpoint and deploy forces against them; and the guerrillas’ superior tactical capabilities allow them to impose a constant low rate of casualties on the occupier. Indeed, the massive amount of resources the occupier requires and the inflexibility of a military institution not solely committed to the particular theater of operations can actually work against the occupier by creating logistical vulnerabilities susceptible to guerrilla attacks and difficulty adapting at a rate sufficient to keep pace with the guerrilla. The occupation force will always win engagements, but that is never the measure of victory. If the guerrillas operate by doctrine, defeats in unplanned engagements will not undermine their basic goal of survival. While the occupier is not winning decisively, even while suffering only some casualties, he is losing. While the guerrilla is not losing decisively, even if suffering significant casualties, he is winning. Since the guerrilla is not going anywhere, he can afford far higher casualties than the occupier, who ultimately has the alternative of withdrawal.
The asymmetry of this warfare favors the guerrilla. This is particularly true when the strategic value of the war to the occupier is ambiguous, where the occupier does not possess sufficient force and patience to systematically overwhelm the guerrillas, and where either political or military constraints prevent operations against sanctuaries. This is a truth as relevant to David’s insurgency against the Philistines as it is to the U.S. experience in Vietnam or the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.
There has long been a myth about the unwillingness of Americans to absorb casualties for very long in guerrilla wars. In reality, the United States fought in Vietnam for at least seven years (depending on when you count the start and stop) and has now fought in Afghanistan for nine years. The idea that Americans can’t endure the long war has no empirical basis. What the United States has difficulty with — along with imperial and colonial powers before it — is a war in which the ability to impose one’s will on the enemy through force of arms is lacking and when it is not clear that the failure of previous years to win the war will be solved in the years ahead.
Far more relevant than casualties to whether Americans continue a war is the question of the conflict’s strategic importance, for which the president is ultimately responsible. This divides into several parts. This first is whether the United States has the ability with available force to achieve its political goals through prosecuting the war (since all war is fought for some political goal, from regime change to policy shift) and whether the force the United States is willing to dedicate suffices to achieve these goals. To address this question in Afghanistan, we have to focus on the political goal.
The Evolution of the U.S. Political Goal in Afghanistan
Washington’s primary goal at the initiation of the conflict was to destroy or disrupt al Qaeda in Afghanistan to protect the U.S. homeland from follow-on attacks to 9/11. But if Afghanistan were completely pacified, the threat of Islamist-fueled transnational terrorism would remain at issue because it is no longer just an issue of a single organization — al Qaeda — but a series of fragmented groups conducting operations in Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, North Africa, Somalia and elsewhere.
Today, al Qaeda is simply one manifestation of the threat of this transnational jihadist phenomenon. It is important to stop and consider al Qaeda — and the transnational jihadist phenomenon in general — in terms of guerrillas, and to think of the phenomenon as a guerrilla force in its own right operating by the very same rules on a global basis. Thus, where the Taliban apply guerrilla principles to Afghanistan, today’s transnational jihadist applies them to the Islamic world and beyond. The transnational jihadists are not leaving and are not giving up. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan, they will decline combat against larger American forces and strike vulnerable targets when they can.
There are certainly more players and more complexity to the global phenomenon than in a localized insurgency. Many governments across North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia have no interest in seeing these movements set up shop and stir up unrest in their territory. And al Qaeda’s devolution has seen frustrations as well as successes as it spreads. But the underlying principles of guerrilla warfare remain at issue. Whenever the Americans concentrate force in one area, al Qaeda disengages, disperses and regroups elsewhere and, perhaps more important, the ideology that underpins the phenomenon continues to exist. The threat will undoubtedly continue to evolve and face challenges, but in the end, it will continue to exist along the lines of the guerrilla acting against the United States.
There is another important way in which the global guerrilla analogy is apt. STRATFOR has long held that Islamist-fueled transnational terrorism does not represent a strategic, existential threat to the United States. While acts of transnational terrorism target civilians, they are not attacks — have not been and are not evolving into attacks — that endanger the territorial integrity of the United States or the way of life of the American people. They are dangerous and must be defended against, but transnational terrorism is and remains a tactical problem that for nearly a decade has been treated as if it were the pre-eminent strategic threat to the United States.
Nietzsche wrote that, “The most fundamental form of human stupidity is forgetting what we were trying to do in the first place.” The stated U.S. goal in Afghanistan was the destruction of al Qaeda. While al Qaeda as it existed in 2001 has certainly been disrupted and degraded, al Qaeda’s evolution and migration means that disrupting and degrading it — to say nothing of destroying it — can no longer be achieved by waging a war in Afghanistan. The guerrilla does not rely on a single piece of real estate (in this case Afghanistan) but rather on his ability to move seamlessly across terrain to evade decisive combat in any specific location. Islamist-fueled transnational terrorism is not centered on Afghanistan and does not need Afghanistan, so no matter how successful that war might be, it would make little difference in the larger fight against transnational jihadism.
Thus far, the United States has chosen to carry on fighting the war in Afghanistan. As al Qaeda has fled Afghanistan, the overall political goal for the United States in the country has evolved to include the creation of a democratic and uncorrupt Afghanistan. It is not clear that anyone knows how to do this, particularly given that most Afghans consider the ruling government of President Hamid Karzai — with which the United States is allied — as the heart of the corruption problem, and beyond Kabul most Afghans do not regard their way of making political and social arrangements to be corrupt.
Simply withdrawing from Afghanistan carries its own strategic and political costs, however. The strategic problem is that simply terminating the war after nine years would destabilize the Islamic world. The United States has managed to block al Qaeda’s goal of triggering a series of uprisings against existing regimes and replacing them with jihadist regimes. It did this by displaying a willingness to intervene where necessary. Of course, the idea that U.S. intervention destabilized the region raises the question of what regional stability would look like had it not intervened. The danger of withdrawal is that the network of relationships the United States created and imposed at the regime level could unravel if it withdrew. America would be seen as having lost the war, the prestige of radical Islamists and thereby the foundation of the ideology that underpins their movement would surge, and this could destabilize regimes and undermine American interests.
The political problem is domestic. Obama’s approval rating now stands at 42 percent. This is not unprecedented, but it means he is politically weak. One of the charges against him, fair or not, is that he is inherently anti-war by background and so not fully committed to the war effort. Where a Republican would face charges of being a warmonger, which would make withdrawal easier, Obama faces charges of being too soft. Since a president must maintain political support to be effective, withdrawal becomes even harder. Therefore, strategic analysis aside, the president is not going to order a complete withdrawal of all combat forces any time soon — the national (and international) political alignment won’t support such a step. At the same time, remaining in Afghanistan is unlikely to achieve any goal and leaves potential rivals like China and Russia freer rein.
The American Solution
The American solution, one that we suspect is already under way, is the Pakistanization of the war. By this, we do not mean extending the war into Pakistan but rather extending Pakistan into Afghanistan. The Taliban phenomenon has extended into Pakistan in ways that seriously complicate Pakistani efforts to regain their bearing in Afghanistan. It has created a major security problem for Islamabad, which, coupled with the severe deterioration of the country’s economy and now the floods, has weakened the Pakistanis’ ability to manage Afghanistan. In other words, the moment that the Pakistanis have been waiting for — American agreement and support for the Pakistanization of the war — has come at a time when the Pakistanis are not in an ideal position to capitalize on it.
In the past, the United States has endeavored to keep the Taliban in Afghanistan and the regime in Pakistan separate. (The Taliban movements in Afghanistan and Pakistan are not one and the same.) Washington has not succeeded in this regard, with the Pakistanis continuing to hedge their bets and maintain a relationship across the border. Still, U.S. opposition has been the single greatest impediment to Pakistan’s consolidation of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and abandoning this opposition leaves important avenues open for Islamabad.
The Pakistani relationship to the Taliban, which was a liability for the United States in the past, now becomes an advantage for Washington because it creates a trusted channel for meaningful communication with the Taliban. Logic suggests this channel is quite active now.
The Vietnam War ended with the Paris peace talks. Those formal talks were not where the real bargaining took place but rather where the results were ultimately confirmed. If talks are under way, a similar venue for the formal manifestation of the talks is needed — and Islamabad is as good a place as any.
Pakistan is an American ally which the United States needs, both to balance growing Chinese influence in and partnership with Pakistan, and to contain India. Pakistan needs the United States for the same reason. Meanwhile, the Taliban wants to run Afghanistan. The United States has no strong national interest in how Afghanistan is run so long as it does not support and espouse transnational jihadism. But it needs its withdrawal to take place in a manner that strengthens its influence rather than weakens it, and Pakistan can provide the cover for turning a retreat into a negotiated settlement.
Pakistan has every reason to play this role. It needs the United States over the long term to balance against India. It must have a stable or relatively stable Afghanistan to secure its western frontier. It needs an end to U.S. forays into Pakistan that are destabilizing the regime. And playing this role would enhance Pakistan’s status in the Islamic world, something the United States could benefit from, too. We suspect that all sides are moving toward this end.
The United States isn’t going to defeat the Taliban. The original goal of the war is irrelevant, and the current goal is rather difficult to take seriously. Even a victory, whatever that would look like, would make little difference in the fight against transnational jihad, but a defeat could harm U.S. interests. Therefore, the United States needs a withdrawal that is not a defeat. Such a strategic shift is not without profound political complexity and difficulties. But the disparity between — and increasingly, the incompatibility of — the struggle with transnational terrorism and the war effort geographically rooted in Afghanistan is only becoming more apparent — even to the American public.
Reply #751 on:
September 28, 2010, 07:32:39 AM »
"The Foxification of the henhouse".
POTH: More drones in Waziristan
Reply #752 on:
September 28, 2010, 07:35:27 AM »
Certainly it is hard to square with reports like this:
WASHINGTON — The C.I.A. has drastically increased its bombing campaign in the mountains of Pakistan in recent weeks, American officials said. The strikes are part of an effort by military and intelligence operatives to try to cripple the Taliban in a stronghold being used to plan attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.
As part of its covert war in the region, the C.I.A. has launched 20 attacks with armed drone aircraft thus far in September, the most ever during a single month, and more than twice the number in a typical month. This expanded air campaign comes as top officials are racing to stem the rise of American casualties before the Obama administration’s comprehensive review of its Afghanistan strategy set for December. American and European officials are also evaluating reports of possible terrorist plots in the West from militants based in Pakistan.
The strikes also reflect mounting frustration both in Afghanistan and the United States that Pakistan’s government has not been aggressive enough in dislodging militants from their bases in the country’s western mountains. In particular, the officials said, the Americans believe the Pakistanis are unlikely to launch military operations inside North Waziristan, a haven for Taliban and Qaeda operatives that has long been used as a base for attacks against troops in Afghanistan.
Beyond the C.I.A. drone strikes, the war in the region is escalating in other ways. In recent days, American military helicopters have launched three airstrikes into Pakistan that military officials estimate killed more than 50 people suspected of being members of the militant group known as the Haqqani network, which is responsible for a spate of deadly attacks against American troops.
Such air raids by the military remain rare, and officials in Kabul said Monday that the helicopters entered Pakistani airspace on only one of the three raids, and acted in self-defense after militants fired rockets at an allied base just across the border in Afghanistan. At the same time, the strikes point to a new willingness by military officials to expand the boundaries of the campaign against the Taliban and Haqqani network — and to an acute concern in military and intelligence circles about the limited time to attack Taliban strongholds while American “surge” forces are in Afghanistan.
Pakistani officials have angrily criticized the helicopter attacks, saying that NATO’s mandate in Afghanistan does not extend across the border in Pakistan.
As evidence of the growing frustration of American officials, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Afghanistan, has recently issued veiled warnings to top Pakistani commanders that the United States could launch unilateral ground operations in the tribal areas should Pakistan refuse to dismantle the militant networks in North Waziristan, according to American officials.
“Petraeus wants to turn up the heat on the safe havens,” said one senior administration official, explaining the sharp increase in drone strikes. “He has pointed out to the Pakistanis that they could do more.”
Special Operations commanders have also been updating plans for cross-border raids, which would require approval from President Obama. For now, officials said, it remains unlikely that the United States would make good on such threats to send American troops over the border, given the potential blowback inside Pakistan, an ally.
But that could change, they said, if Pakistan-based militants were successful in carrying out a terrorist attack on American soil. American and European intelligence officials in recent days have spoken publicly about growing evidence that militants may be planning a large-scale attack in Europe, and have bolstered security at a number of European airports and railway stations.
“We are all seeing increased activity by a more diverse set of groups and a more diverse set of threats,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano before a Senate panel last week.
The senior administration official said the strikes were intended not only to attack Taliban and Haqqani fighters, but also to disrupt any plots directed from or supported by extremists in Pakistan’s tribal areas that were aimed at targets in Europe. “The goal is to suppress or disrupt that activity,” the official said.
The 20 C.I.A. drone attacks in September represent the most intense bombardment by the spy agency since January, when the C.I.A. carried out 11 strikes after a suicide bomber killed seven agency operatives at a remote base in eastern Afghanistan.
According to one Pakistani intelligence official, the recent drone attacks have not killed any senior Taliban or Qaeda leaders. Many senior operatives have already fled North Waziristan, he said, to escape the C.I.A. drone campaign.
Over all the spy agency has carried out 74 drone attacks this year, according to the Web site The Long War Journal, which tracks the strikes. A vast majority of the attacks — which usually involve several drones firing multiple missiles or bombs — have taken place in North Waziristan.
The Obama administration has enthusiastically embraced the C.I.A.’s drone program, an ambitious and historically unusual war campaign by American spies. According to The Long War Journal, the spy agency in 2009 and 2010 has launched nearly four times as many attacks as it did during the final year of the Bush administration.
One American official said that the recent strikes had been aimed at several groups, including the Haqqani network, Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban. The United States, he said, hopes to “keep the pressure on as long as we can.”
But the C.I.A.’s campaign has also raised concerns that the drone strikes are fueling anger in the Muslim world. The man who attempted to detonate a truck filled with explosives in Times Square told a judge that the C.I.A. drone campaign was one of the factors that led him to attack the United States.
In a meeting with reporters on Monday, General Petraeus indicated that it was new intelligence gathering technology that helped NATO forces locate the militants killed by the helicopter raids against militants in Pakistan.
In particular, he said, the military has expanded its fleet of reconnaissance blimps that can hover over hide-outs thought to belong to the Taliban in eastern and southern Afghanistan.
The intelligence technology, General Petraeus said, has also enabled the expanded campaign of raids by Special Operations commandos against Taliban operatives in those areas.
Rod Nordland and Alissa J. Rubin contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Ismail Khan from Peshawar, Pakistan.
Reply #753 on:
September 28, 2010, 07:45:11 AM »
I said it years ago. When it is all said and done, we'll find out that Pakistan's ISI knew where OBL went from Tora Bora, and most likely helped him evade US forces.
Drones Target Terror Plot
Reply #754 on:
September 28, 2010, 07:57:58 AM »
WASHINGTON—In an effort to foil a suspected terrorist plot against European targets, the Central Intelligence Agency has ramped up missile strikes against militants in Pakistan's tribal regions, current and former officials say.
The strikes, launched from unmanned drone aircraft, represent a rare use of the CIA's drone campaign to preempt a possible attack on the West.
In this July 8, 2010 file photo, Pakistani paramilitary troops took position on a hilltop post in Khajore Kut, an area of Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal region.
The terror plot, which officials have been tracking for weeks, is believed to target multiple countries, including the U.K., France, and Germany, these officials said.
The exact nature of the plot or plots couldn't be learned immediately, and counterterrorism officials in the U.S., Pakistan and Europe are continuing to investigate. There have, however, been multiple terror warnings in recent days in France, Germany and the U.K.
"There are some pretty notable threat streams," said one U.S. military official, who added that the significance of these threats is still being discussed among counterterrorism officials but that threats of this height are unusual.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano plans to discuss the current European terrorism intelligence with her European counterparts at a U.N. aviation security meeting this week in Montreal. "We are in constant contact with our colleagues abroad," she told a Senate panel last week. "We are all seeing increased activity by a more diverse set of groups and a more diverse set of threats. That activity, much of which is Islamist in nature, is directed at the West generally."
Stratfor: Negotiations with the Taliban
Reply #755 on:
September 30, 2010, 12:10:25 AM »
The Necessity -- and Difficulties -- of Negotiations With the Taliban
Afghan President Hamid Karzai made an impassioned speech on Tuesday calling for the Taliban to enter into negotiations to reach a political settlement. His office then announced the names of 68 former officials and tribal leaders who will form the High Peace Council. This council, which was decided upon in June during the National Council for Peace, Reconciliation and Reintegration, is to be responsible for negotiations with the Taliban — and the government in Kabul is, at least in theory, expected to abide by the agreement the council reaches. Of course, Karzai has handpicked the council members, so his interests are protected. The day before Karzai’s speech, The New York Times published comments from the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, that “very high-level” Taliban leaders have reached out to the “highest levels” of the Afghan government. The correlation of these events indicates that considerable movement has occurred this week on efforts to set the stage for negotiations with the Taliban.
Not only did elements of the Taliban issue denials on Tuesday regarding Petraeus’ assertion, but also another Taliban spokesman insisted that the Afghan people were anxiously anticipating a Taliban victory in Afghanistan. While some factions of the Taliban might be interested in a negotiated settlement, as a whole the movement has maintained considerable internal discipline and is not being forced to the negotiating table out of fear of defeat.
“The Taliban lose little by being at the negotiating table; they can always walk away.”
But negotiation and political accommodation can stem from both fear and opportunity. It is the role of force of arms to provide the former, and the current counterinsurgency strategy has not instilled — and does not appear close to instilling — that fear. But U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force efforts have not been without their tactical effect. The squeeze has been put on Taliban funds, and special operations forces raids have reduced the Taliban’s ranks. There is certainly the opportunity for a settlement that brings political accommodation about sooner rather than later and at a reduced cost to the Taliban in terms of lives and effort. The Taliban lose little by being at the negotiating table; they can always walk away. And they do not harbor illusions about being able to return to power and control the country to the degree they did at the turn of the century.
So the question is not one of whether talks might take place. They already have taken place behind closed doors, and they will no doubt continue. The question is what the cost will be, in terms of concessions, of convincing the Taliban to negotiate meaningfully and genuinely on a political settlement on a timeframe compatible with U.S. constraints. Because the United States, and by proxy Karzai’s regime, are now at the height of their military strength, and because the Taliban — not Washington and Karzai — enjoy the luxury of time, the Taliban have little incentive to allow negotiations to proceed rapidly or make significant concessions themselves.
Thus, the question becomes what price the Taliban will demand from their position of strength and whether that price is one that not only Kabul and Washington, but also Islamabad (which could well be key to a negotiated settlement), will accept. That remains very much in doubt. None of the underlying realities of the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan have suddenly shifted.
The developments of recent days essentially provide additional infrastructure to facilitate negotiations, but it is unclear whether an agreement on political accommodation is reachable or on what timetable any agreement might be implemented. Nevertheless, political accommodation will both underlie and facilitate a U.S. drawdown, so the prospects for progress will warrant careful scrutiny.
Reply #756 on:
September 30, 2010, 11:19:33 AM »
Bad news from the front, I think we need to consider ending aid to Pakistan and align ourselves with India. Obama has soured any chance of maintaining any support there.
Reply #757 on:
September 30, 2010, 11:24:59 AM »
Here's Stratfor's report on the same matter:
Pakistan Blocks ISAF Supply Lines After Border Incident
September 30, 2010 | 1332 GMT
TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images
NATO supply trucks traveling through the Khyber PassRelated Special Topic Page
The War in Afghanistan
Attack helicopters supporting International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops on the Afghan-Pakistani border reportedly fired upon a Pakistani Frontier Corps position Sept. 30, killing three paramilitary Frontier Corps troops and wounding three others. According to Pakistani media reports, there have been two incidents of ISAF attack helicopters engaging targets in Pakistan. One took place before dawn and one at 9:30 a.m. local time, both northwest of Parachinar, the main town in the Kurram agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, according to preliminary reports. The ISAF forces were operating in the Dand Patan district of Afghanistan’s Paktia province. ISAF has claimed that its troops were responding to mortar fire and remained on the Afghan side of the border, and it believes that at least one of the two places engaged by close air support could have been on the Afghan side of the border. The Pakistani government quickly issued strong condemnation of the incident.
(click here to enlarge image)
There is no shortage of potential scenarios for what actually happened on the ground. ISAF troops are regularly engaged from the Pakistani side of the border, and cross-border exchanges of fire and fighting on the border are common. ISAF may have even been fired upon from the Frontier Corps position. Or it may have been an error on the ISAF’s part and the Frontier Corps position was accidentally or inappropriately engaged. Pakistan has suggested that the Frontier Corps position was deliberately engaged.
But the facts in this case are really beside the point. According to a well-placed STRATFOR source in Pakistan, the Pakistani army’s General Headquarters considers this the fourth incident in less than a week — and the most offensive because the Pakistanis believe their troops were directly targeted. Just two days earlier, Pakistan warned that it would stop protecting ISAF supply lines to Afghanistan if foreign aircraft continued engaging targets across the border. Following through on that threat, the Pakistanis closed the border crossing over the Khyber Pass at Torkham in response to the Sept. 30 incident.
It is not yet clear how long the border will remain closed in protest. Short disruptions are completely manageable logistically in Afghanistan and have been accommodated in the past. But the government in Islamabad has been feeling increased pressure as U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle strikes on militant positions in Pakistan’s tribal areas have increased, and widespread domestic dissatisfaction with the response to the humanitarian disaster caused by flooding earlier this year has only further strained the government.
Domestically, Islamabad has little room to compromise or back down on this. Moving forward, the key issue is not the facts of this particular incident, but the Pakistani government’s response — essentially whether this is largely for show, and what Islamabad demands of the United States operationally. At this stage it is unclear how long this situation will persist but it is very likely that the move to block the supply route was designed to force the United States to back off from the latest wave of cross-border operations.
Reply #758 on:
September 30, 2010, 11:26:52 AM »
Our very next cross-border op should be to seize Pakistan's nukes.
Stratfor: Logistical need for Pakistan
Reply #759 on:
October 06, 2010, 10:33:56 AM »
Washington's Logistical Need for Pakistan
Tankers carrying fuel and trucks hauling vehicles and supplies bound for Afghanistan were regularly attacked over the weekend and Monday in Pakistan as militants took advantage of logjams of trucks caused by the closing of the Torkham border crossing at the Khyber Pass. The pass was closed in protest Sept. 30 after the deaths of three paramilitary Frontier Corps troops by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) attack helicopters in what the Pakistanis considered to be the fourth cross-border incursion in less than a week’s time. The southern crossing at Chaman remains open.
The Frontier Corps deaths simply served as the culminating offense in a long series of increasing American brazenness and disregard of Pakistani sovereignty (the offending forces were almost certainly American, and in any event, the aggressive cross-border operational agenda is being pushed by Washington, largely in pursuit of Haqqani militants). There is no shortage of outraged Pakistani militant groups seeking to hit back, and their targets — dozens of tankers laden with gasoline and parked in close proximity — require little operational expertise or technical complexity to strike. Indeed, few of the attacks have evinced much sophistication.
Even on a good day, the line of supply from the port of Karachi to Torkham has never been particularly secure, and as such, the ISAF holds stockpiles in Afghanistan to make temporary disruptions manageable. Thus, the key issue is not about short-term losses; it is whether the closure of Torkham is indeed temporary. So far, this appears to be the case: The Pakistani ambassador to the United States on Sunday insisted that the border would reopen soon, and a STRATFOR source in Pakistan has reiterated this claim. However, this is not the usual spat between Washington and Islamabad.
“It is unlikely that the United States and ISAF could support nearly 150,000 troops in Afghanistan and sustain combat operations at the current tempo — or, it is worth noting, easily withdraw its forces in the years ahead — without Pakistani acquiescence allowing the transit of supplies.”
CIA unmanned aerial vehicle strikes in Pakistan in September totaled as many as the previous four months combined and were roughly double the previous one-month high at the beginning of the year. Other forms of fire support, close air support and cross-border incursions also appear to be on the rise as the U.S. struggles to put meaningful pressure on the Taliban to force a negotiated settlement that will facilitate the beginnings of an American exit from the country. Pakistan, angered at these blatant operational escalations, has exercised one of its key levers against its ally: reminding Washington of its reliance on Pakistani territory (and Pakistani refineries) to wage the war in Afghanistan.
War requires logistics — even the Taliban has logistical vulnerabilities. But sustained, multidivisional expeditionary warfare conducted with modern, combined arms is unspeakably resource intensive. The withdrawal of American vehicles, equipment and materiel from Iraq in 2010 has been characterized as more massive and complex than the “Red Ball Express” that sustained the Allied offensive in Europe in World War II — and this for a country with flat, unimpeded access to Kuwaiti ports. It is unlikely that the United States and ISAF could support nearly 150,000 troops in Afghanistan and sustain combat operations at the current tempo — or, it is worth noting, easily withdraw its forces in the years ahead — without Pakistani acquiescence allowing the transit of supplies. In recent years, alternate northern routes have been opened and expanded. But these have served to complement, not replace, the Pakistani routes, which are by far the shortest, most direct and most established.
Ultimately, as we have noted, the United States is demanding and needs contradictory things from Pakistan. But of all the things the Americans want from the Pakistanis — intelligence sharing, permission for (or at least tolerance of) cross-border operations, Pakistani operations to complement those efforts or replace them where possible — Islamabad’s acquiescence on the unimpeded flow of supplies is a need dictated by the logistical realities of war.
Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History
Reply #760 on:
October 08, 2010, 08:14:10 PM »
Book Review: Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History featuring Doug Bandow
Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History
By Thomas Barfield
Princeton University Press, $29.95, 389 pages
Nine years after the United States engineered the ouster of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the fundamentalist Islamic movement is back. Al Qaeda has been displaced and greatly weakened, but America's attempt to create a stable regime in Kabul is failing.
The U.S. government's attempt at nation-building risks failure for a number of reasons. Foreign social engineering is never easy — especially because Washington routinely fails to understand other nations, peoples and conflicts. Boston University anthropologist Thomas Barfield's new book offers a remedy for Americans' pervasive ignorance of Afghanistan.
The country has the image of "the graveyard of empires" — an ever-violent, never-governed, always-at-war Central Asian black hole. If it is, Mr. Barfield asks, "how did a ruling dynasty established in 1747 manage to hold power over such a fractious people until 1978?"
Other anomalies abound. For all of the ethnic divisions, there is little sentiment for secession. Federalism appears to be what most Afghans desire.
Aiding the Mujahedeen probably sped up the end of the Cold War. But today's conflict is an example of blowback, an unexpected consequence of that Cold War policy. Particularly problematic was allowing Pakistan to use American money to fund the most extreme Islamist groups.
Moreover, Mr. Barfield writes, "the successful resistance strategy of making the country ungovernable for the Soviet occupier also ended up making Afghanistan ungovernable for the Afghans themselves. While the Afghans had recovered from many earlier periods of state collapse, the body politic was now afflicted with an autoimmune disorder in which the antibodies of resistance threatened to destroy any state structure."
Mr. Barfield explores the demographic and geographic complexity of Afghanistan that complicates the effort to create a Western-style government in Kabul. The nation is a patchwork dominated by Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmen and Aimaqs. However, Mr. Barfield adds, "ethnic group definitions are based on multiple criteria that are often locally idiosyncratic."
The people are largely rural, but the geography is diverse, dominated by "the mountainous central massif" that "discourages easy travel" and isolates people in villages. Nevertheless, Mr. Barfield notes, historically "many of the routes through the mountains have been conduits of international trade that have consistently brought outsiders and high levels of culture through these regions." While Kabul dominates Western attention, such cities as Herat, Mazar and Jalalabad represent very different peoples and experiences.
The history of the territory now known as Afghanistan is more complex than most people assume. Afghanistan "had a positively magnet[ic] attraction for conquerors, not because they coveted the wealth of Afghanistan, but rather because control of Afghan territory gave them access to more prosperous places like India or central Asia," Mr. Barfield says.
Moreover, outside empires frequently subdued those living in Afghanistan. The "main problem they faced after establishing their power was attacks by rival states, not rebellions by the inhabitants."
The Anglo-Afghan wars most established the terrifying Afghan reputation. Mr. Barfield explores this fascinating period, including its impact on the creation of an Afghan state. It was the time of "the great game" between Britain and Russia. The British got into trouble when they attempted to impose their will directly and meddle in traditional Afghan society. They had far more success wielding influence indirectly, subsidizing favored rulers, who maintained the veneer of independence while using foreign cash to maintain control. Mr. Barfield tells the story well.
In contrast, the 20th century was a more peaceful time for Afghans. Nevertheless, Mr. Barfield warns against the tendency to idealize this period: "Like most such golden ages, it looks much better in hindsight than it did to the people of the time." The country was stable, not prosperous, democratic or liberal. And there was a brief civil war in 1929 before another ruling dynasty was established.
Still, that time looks positively idyllic compared to today. Former Prime Minister Mohammed Daud Khan triggered nearly four decades of conflict when he overthrew his cousin and brother-in-law, King Mohammed Zahir Shah. President Daud was murdered in a communist-led coup five years later. Brutal infighting among his successors led to the Soviet invasion in 1979 and installation of Babrak Karmal as president. Then followed the Mujahedeen resistance, Soviet withdrawal, civil war and the rise of the Taliban.
It is no surprise that debilitating conflict and Islamic fundamentalism deformed Afghan society. There were many possible lost opportunities over the years. Several revolved around Ahmad Shah Massoud, perhaps the most respected leader of the resistance against the Soviets. He was assassinated just before the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mr. Barfield even makes the surprising suggestion that Washington should have cut a deal with President Mohammed Najibullah Ahmadzai after his Soviet protectors withdrew. The author argues that only Pakistan benefited from the ensuing conflict, which empowered Islamic radicals and ultimately the Taliban.
He writes: "Had the dead spirits of the British raj arisen to give their advice on the matter they would surely have advised their American cousins to cut a deal with Najibullah now that he had become an Afghan nationalist and proved his staying power." The problems with such an approach are obvious, but it looks ever better in hindsight.
More than a few mistakes have been made since then by Washington. Some were strategic, including attempting to create a centralized government in Kabul and diverting resources to Iraq. Some were tactical, such as providing aid with "little familiarity with Afghanistan's culture or history." The result, Mr. Barfield observes, was that "spending large amounts of money that generated disappointing results at the local level exacted a political price when rural Afghans came to believe that their needs were being ignored."
At this stage, there are no good options. Mr. Barfield dispassionately discusses the dangers of escalation and risks of disengagement, concluding that "as the second decade of the 21st century dawned, Afghanistan could expect to remain the focus of world attention for years to come."
Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History is an invaluable book. Mr. Barfield does not give the United States a way out of Afghanistan, but he does provide the context necessary for good policymaking. The next step is up to U.S. officials.
Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, is the author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire (Xulon, 2006).
Reply #761 on:
October 08, 2010, 08:25:49 PM »
The president's new plan for Afghanistan:
1. Cut and run.
Reply #762 on:
October 28, 2010, 10:30:19 AM »
October 28, 2010
PAKISTAN'S NORTH WAZIRISTAN AND SALVAGEABLE JIHADISTS
A top Pakistani military official told reporters on a tour of the tribal areas on
Tuesday that Islamabad would consider mounting a counterinsurgency offensive in
North Waziristan only after other parts of Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt are
stabilized. Lt. Gen. Asif Yasin Malik -- commander of the Peshawar-based XIth Corps,
which is leading the counterjihadist operations in Pakistan's northwest -- said
Pakistani forces do not have the resources to cover the entire area under his
command. He said it would take at least another six months to clear out just Mohmand
and Bajaur, the two agencies on the northern rim of the Federally Administered
Tribal Areas (FATA). Malik estimated that "by 2012, things should have turned it
This statement comes within days of the U.S. announcement of a $2 billion military
assistance package for Pakistan. It conflicts with Washington's expectations that
Pakistan would expand its ongoing offensive to North Waziristan -- which has become
the world's largest gathering spot for jihadists of various stripes -- as quickly as
possible. North Waziristan is the only agency of the seven in the autonomous tribal
belt along the Afghan border where Pakistani security forces (despite having six
brigades in the area) have not launched a major assault on Taliban and al Qaeda
fighters. This issue has spurred the growing tensions between Washington and
"Islamabad feels it would be suicidal to act against Bahadur and Haqqani, especially
when the Pakistanis are struggling to combat renegade Taliban forces elsewhere."
Occasionally, senior U.S. officials issue statements that they understand that
Pakistani forces are stretched to the limit and that Islamabad will decide when it
is appropriate to send its forces into the area. On different occasions, however,
Washington will go back to pressuring Islamabad into taking swift action in North
Waziristan. In other words, the U.S. government oscillates between the realization
that a premature expansion of the Pakistanis' offensive could make matters worse for
Pakistan and its own desire for the rapid development of conditions in Afghanistan
that would facilitate a U.S. withdrawal.
All of this raises the question of why North Waziristan is such a huge point of
contention between the United States and Pakistan. The answer has to do with the
complex militant landscape in this particular FATA agency. North Waziristan's
territory can be divided broadly into two dominions: one under the control of
Pakistani warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur, and the other under the most prominent Afghan
Taliban regional commander, Sirajuddin Haqqani. Neither Bahadur nor Haqqani is
participating in the Pakistani Taliban rebellion, but both have complex ties to al
Qaeda-led transnational jihadists and are focused on fighting coalition forces in
eastern Afghanistan. From the Pakistani viewpoint, these men are not hostile forces
who need to be fought: In fact, they are allies who can help Islamabad regain
control of territory on its side of the border and regain its sphere of influence in
a post-NATO Afghanistan. Islamabad feels it would be suicidal to act against Bahadur
and Haqqani, especially when the Pakistanis are struggling to combat renegade
Taliban forces elsewhere.
But Pakistan cannot completely ignore North Waziristan -- and not just because of
U.S. pressure. Many of its own Taliban rebels relocated to the area late last year
when security forces mounted a ground offensive in South Waziristan. Furthermore, al
Qaeda and the transnational jihadists who are supporting Pakistani Islamist rebels
are also based in this area.
This is why Pakistan has not just accepted the increasing number of U.S. unmanned
aerial vehicle strikes in North Waziristan: It is also facilitating them. However,
Islamabad knows that the strikes alone will not solve its problems in the area and
certainly will not satisfy Washington. Islamabad also wants to be able to regain
control over the area, and it expects it can achieve this with a settlement in
Afghanistan. Pakistan will argue that if the United States cannot impose a military
solution in Afghanistan and is forced to negotiate on the other side of the border,
then Pakistan should not wage war against those in its territory who are not
fighting against Islamabad.
This leads back to the disagreement between Washington and Islamabad over the
definition of salvageable jihadists. To the United States, Haqqani is not just
responsible for a great deal of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. He is also
tied to al Qaeda, which continues to plot attacks in the United States and threatens
U.S. interests in the region, and is thus irreconcilable. As far as the Pakistanis
are concerned, Haqqani can be negotiated with and his ties with al Qaeda can be
severed, much like what happened with Iraq's Awakening Councils.
It is unclear that the United States and Pakistan can come to terms on which Taliban
can be negotiated with. Until that happens, North Waziristan will remain a major
source of tension between the two sides.
Copyright 2010 STRATFOR.
Stratfor: Kurram Agency and divergent interests
Reply #763 on:
November 03, 2010, 07:43:40 AM »
Two of prominent militant leader Jalauddin Haqqani’s sons have been meeting with tribal elders from Kurram agency in Peshawar and Islamabad in a bid to end Sunni-Shiite violence in northwestern Pakistan’s Kurram agency. Many outside parties have an interest in what happens in the strategic region, including the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, Islamabad and Washington. While having the Haqqanis negotiate a settlement may be a boon to Islamabad and the Afghan Taliban, it will create challenges for the Pakistani Taliban and Washington.
Media reports have emerged that two of important Taliban leader Jalauddin Haqqani’s sons, Khalil and Ibrahim, are involved in peace talks in Pakistan’s tribal belt between Sunni and Shiite leaders from Kurram agency. The talks, which have been held in Peshawar and Islamabad, represent an attempt to settle the long-running sectarian dispute in Kurram agency.
This dispute has expanded beyond localized sectarian violence into one with much further-reaching consequences involving the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban. The implications of the wider struggle encapsulate divergent U.S. and Pakistani interests in the wider region.
A Strategic Area
Kurram agency is one of seven districts in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). With an area of 3,380 square kilometers (about 1,300 square miles), it is the third-largest agency of the FATA after South and North Waziristan. The only area in the tribal badlands with a significant Shiite population, Kurram has a long history of sectarian violence predating the creation of Pakistan in 1947.
The area became the main staging ground for joint U.S.-Saudi-Pakistani intelligence aid for the multinational force of Islamist insurgents battling Soviet forces and the pro-Moscow regime in Kabul during the 1980s, during which time Kurram’s capital, Parachinar, frequently came under attack by Soviet and Afghan aircraft. The influx of predominantly Sunni Afghan and other Islamist fighters altered the sectarian demographic balance to some extent. The Shia bitterly resisted, but Islamabad’s support of Sunni locals overcame their efforts.
Kurram saw its most intense sectarian clashes only after the rise of the Pakistani Taliban phenomenon in 2006-07, however. The agency saw two weeks of violence in April 2007 as sectarian attacks spiraled out of control after a gunman opened fire on a Shiite procession in Parachinar. The violence spread all the way southeast to Sadda before the Pakistani military went in to restore order. Despite a peace agreement between the two sides that officially ended the conflict in October 2008, antagonism between the communities continued to simmer. Violence comes mostly in the form of tit-for-tat small-arms attacks carried out by tribal militias on their Sunni or Shiite neighbors.
(click here to enlarge image)
Tribal and geographic differences reinforce the sectarian conflict. The Shia break down into three major tribes, the Turi, Bangash and Hazara. Meanwhile, eight major Sunni tribes populate most of central and lower Kurram. Sunni and Shia live in close proximity to each other throughout Kurram, which has a population of around 500,000 consisting of roughly 58 percent Sunni and 42 percent Shia.
The Sunnis’ main advantage lies in control of lower Kurram. They have exploited this to close off the only major road from Parachinar, which lies on the edge of the mountains of Upper Kurram, to Thal in lower Kurram — where connections to larger markets of Peshawar and Karachi can be made. Without access to this highway, supplies have become scarce in upper Kurram.
The Shia’s main advantage is control of a strategic piece of high ground that forms a peninsula of Pakistani territory jutting into Afghanistan, territory that has shifted over the centuries between Mughal, Afghan, British and Pakistani control. Upper Kurram provides powers from the east easy access to Kabul, which lies just under 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) from the border between Kurram agency and Paktia province, Afghanistan. This geographic advantage is why the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate decided on it as the location for training and deploying Mujahideen fighters into Afghanistan to fight the Soviets during the 1980s. It is thus key territory for anyone who wants access into eastern Afghanistan — Islamabad and the Taliban included.
The sectarian violence simmering in Kurram complicates Islamabad’s efforts to defeat the Pakistani Taliban while maintaining ties with the Afghan Taliban. The violence has become a more serious threat to Islamabad’s efforts in recent years, as outside forces reportedly have begun to exploit the sectarian violence. Sunni leaders in Kurram have blamed Iran for supplying weapons and cash to their Shiite rivals. While there is little evidence to back up this claim, it would make sense that Iran would want to establish a bridgehead in the Shiite population allowing it to operate in eastern Afghanistan.
The Sunni Militant Landscape in Kurram and the Afghan Angle
Well-known Pakistani jihadist Baitullah Mehsud used the base of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Orakzai to expand TTP influence in Kurram. Following Baitullah’s death, Mullah Toofan (aka Maulana Noor Jamal) emerged as the main TTP leader in the central rim of the FATA. Mullah Toofan now leads efforts targeting Kurram from Orakzai, which has become the main TTP hub since the Pakistani army evicted the group from South Waziristan in a late 2009-early 2010 ground offensive. Many militants subsequently resettled in Kurram.
The TTP formed alliances with the Sunni tribes in Kurram in its bid to establish a sanctuary there. The TTP later began using the sanctuary provided by allied Sunni tribes in Kurram in coordination with Orakzai and South Waziristan to conduct attacks in the core of Pakistan.
For their part, the Haqqanis want a more stable environment in Kurram. Kurram is a key piece of territory for the Haqqani network, which organizes and has sanctuaries in Pakistan’s northwest from which it engages U.S., NATO and Afghan government military forces in eastern Afghanistan as part of the Afghan Taliban’s eastern front.
Islamabad is very open to cooperation with the Haqqanis. They pose no direct threat to Islamabad but have the military and political clout to shape conditions on the ground in northwestern Pakistan — to say nothing of Afghanistan, where Pakistan is trying to rebuild its influence. The Haqqanis are best positioned to convince Sunnis in lower Kurram to open up the road to Parachinar and to restrain Shiite forces from attacking Sunnis (and vice versa). The easing of sectarian tensions, likely if this happens, would hamper the TTP’s ability to grow in Kurram, satisfying Islamabad’s goal in the agency.
If the Haqqanis can successfully negotiate a peace in Kurram (or at least a cease-fire — Kurram’s geopolitical and sectarian rivalries will not simply vanish) it would give them a stronger foothold in an area close to Kabul and eastern Afghanistan. This arrangement would not bode well for security in eastern Afghanistan, where U.S. and coalition forces are concentrating much of their efforts in their current offensive against the Taliban and al Qaeda.
This would come at a bad time for Washington, which is looking to contain the Afghan Taliban as it seeks to bolster the U.S. negotiating position ahead of eventual talks regarding a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The Kurram sectarian conflict is also the most prominent example of Islamabad trying to eliminate “bad” Taliban while supporting “good” Taliban. Preventing sectarian violence in Kurram from spiraling out of control and benefiting the TTP requires that Islamabad seek the services of the Haqqanis. This also will help Pakistan’s longer-term efforts to re-establish its influence in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces. Kurram thus encapsulates the larger challenges Washington faces in containing a militant movement that enjoys Islamabad’s tacit support.
Read more: Kurram Agency and the U.S. and Pakistan's Divergent Interests | STRATFOR
A tentative handover
Reply #764 on:
November 03, 2010, 10:50:38 AM »
second post of the morning
The indeterminate state of the war in Afghanistan continues, with reports of progress by the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the south and southwest and Taliban reversals elsewhere in the country.
In Helmand province, U.S. Marines have reportedly begun to hand over control of small outposts in Nawa-i-Barakzayi district to Afghan security forces. The U.S. Marines have been operating in Helmand for several years now, reinforcing British, Canadian, Danish and Dutch troops who have been holding the line in some of the territory held most tenaciously by the Taliban. Yet despite an influx of combat troops into the province, ISAF units are still spread extremely thin.
(click here to enlarge image)
Despite this dispersal of forces, some important gains appear to have been achieved in denying key bases of support and income to the Taliban. The handing over of outposts to Afghan security forces is the next step toward what amounts to the exit strategy of “Vietnamization.” By any measure, however, this is a small and isolated step. As the winter takes hold and the White House begins to review the efficacy of the current counterinsurgency focus for a report that will be issued next month, the pace and scale of these handovers will be important in gauging their effect. The United States has set a very tight timetable for itself in Afghanistan, and the only way it can stick to it is for Afghan security forces to rapidly step up and take the point in providing day-to-day security district by district. This not only will free up ISAF troops to concentrate their focus and attempt to achieve faster results elsewhere but it will also set the stage for Afghan security forces to operate and function independently, thereby reducing the overall demand for ISAF forces in the country.
Handing over smaller, isolated outposts can reduce the vulnerability of ISAF troops as well as the logistical requirements of sustaining Western forces as opposed to indigenous forces. In many cases, this means the transition could free up forces disproportionate to the size and significance of the outpost itself. The transition could also reflect local understandings being reached that are far more important to the security of the area than the makeup and nationality of forces that occupy the position.
And the most critical part of the handover is not the physical transition but what happens afterward. Obviously, military positions are not turned over to new units without due consideration. And one important consideration in the localized landscape of Afghanistan can be the makeup of an “indigenous” unit, whether it consists mainly of outsiders recruited and trained elsewhere and then shipped in or reflects the area’s distinct demographics and loyalties. This dynamic can either consolidate or undermine the conditions that led to the ISAF handover in the first place.
Going to the Other Side
Farther north, in Ghazni province, as many as 19 Afghan police officers — essentially the entire unit in Khogyani district — apparently defected to the Taliban earlier this week. The local police chief does not appear to have been involved, but the police station reportedly broke radio contact with the provincial government early Nov. 1. When Afghan security forces arrived hours later, the officers and their vehicles, weapons, uniforms and supplies had all disappeared and the police station was burned to the ground. The Taliban claimed all the officers had joined their cause.
The factors leading up to this incident are unclear, but the story is hardly an unprecedented one. For every Taliban contingent that comes over to the government/ ISAF side there is an example of a government contingent going the other way. Police units are particularly vulnerable to acts of coercion and intimidation by the Taliban — particularly in isolated areas far from reinforcements — and are all too often poorly equipped and supported. That, coupled with the perception that the ISAF is on its way out, forces Afghan security personnel to fend for themselves day-to-day and to think very seriously about the long-term implications of loyalty.
The modern history of conflict in Afghanistan is rife with the changing of sides. Hizb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is a notorious case in point. He fought against the Soviets and even served as the country’s prime minister after the overthrow of the Marxist regime, but he was also quick to change loyalties when it is to his advantage. The ongoing fragility of security in Iraq is a reminder of how tenuous even significant security gains can be. And in Iraq, the demographics are far less complex than they are in Afghanistan, where tribal and ethno-sectarian conflict are not so cut and dry. The Taliban “movement” is a diffuse and diverse phenomenon that finds its support at the grassroots level, and though they practice and enforce a particularly severe form of Islamism, the Taliban are more naturally attuned to local sensitivities and issues.
Durability of the Transition
And this is where the durability of the transition from ISAF to Afghan security forces really comes into question. The Taliban represent a strong and enduring reality in Afghanistan — one that perceives itself as winning. In a world where locals cannot trust either the ISAF or Kabul to guarantee their security, Afghan troops in isolated areas as well as local residents must be concerned about their safety where there is no meaningful ISAF or Afghan security presence day-to-day.
The ISAF is hindered by its alliance with the regime of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is widely perceived as being not only corrupt but also distant and uninterested in providing for local needs (or unable to do so). Indeed, some of Kabul’s successes (including recent operations in the city of Kandahar and the surrounding districts of Argandab, Panjwai and Zhari) reportedly have involved local warlord militias that exist outside the aegis of the Afghan security apparatus and beyond Kabul’s control. These forces are often more capable and aggressive than official government units, but the question of their loyalty remains an issue, and there are long-term implications in creating, supporting and strengthening independent militias in a country that already has too many of them.
The overarching U.S. strategy of crafting the conditions for a withdrawal make near-term and even potentially short-lived gains important. But the long-term gains are what count, and the United States continues to suffer from its alliance with an artificial, weak and compromised central government in a country where all politics really is local.
Just as the Vietnamization strategy hangs on wider regional arrangements with countries like Pakistan and Iran, the successful handover of an isolated outpost depends on local political accommodations. And the durability of the security transition just beginning in southern and southwestern Afghanistan will be an important gauge of the time and space that actually has been created by the surge of forces into Afghanistan.
Read more: A Week in the War: Afghanistan, Oct. 27-Nov. 2, 2010 | STRATFOR
Stratfor: Intel issues in Afg
Reply #765 on:
November 24, 2010, 11:30:53 AM »
The spectrum of intelligence-gathering capabilities deployed by the United States and its allies in Afghanistan has expanded significantly in recent years, but perhaps the most important type of intelligence in counterinsurgency — human intelligence — remains elusive. Not all signs are negative, however, and the evolution of human intelligence will be a key factor in the success or failure of allied efforts in the months and years ahead.
The Afghanistan Campaign, Part 1: The U.S. Strategy
Military Doctrine, Guerrilla Warfare and Counterinsurgency
STRATFOR has long held that Afghanistan is at its heart an intelligence war. While we are hardly alone in this view, intelligence remains central to our perspective and coverage of the war. Intelligence for the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has seen a broad spectrum of improvements in recent years, but the most important developments may be in the sphere of human intelligence.
The Broad Spectrum of Intelligence
The technical platforms for battlefield intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) have improved dramatically in recent years, with most honed in Iraq at the height of American military efforts there. Over time, these ISR assets have been freed up (to a certain degree) from Iraq and transitioned to Afghanistan, more platforms have been built and deployed and the technologies themselves — as well as the ways in which ISR is communicated and disseminated — have been further refined.
SPC THEODORE SCHMIDT, U.S. Department of Defense
A Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment blimp being launched over a forward operating base in AfghanistanThere is now such a broad spectrum of ISR platforms deployed in Afghanistan that it is difficult to cover concisely even what is known and discussed in the open source (and this does not even include “national technical means,” i.e., spaced-based sensors). The list of deployed ISR platforms includes:
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs): The RQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper are only the most recognized. Equipped with electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) turrets, significant additional numbers of UAVs have been surged into the country in recent years, dramatically expanding the number of sustained UAV orbits and their availability — though they remain in high demand.
Manned aircraft: The MC-12W Liberty, a recent addition to the operational arsenal, provides both EO/IR coverage and signals intelligence. A squadron is now operating from Kandahar Airfield. These and other fixed-wing platforms dedicated to ISR and signals collection (including the British R1 Sentinel) are complemented by the EO/IR capabilities of attack helicopters and combat aircraft overhead to provide close air support — all of which are increasingly well integrated.
Aerostats: Persistent Threat Detection System and Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment (RAID) lighter-than-air aerostats (e.g., blimps) deployed at major airfields and forward operating bases provide ISR coverage from fixed ground stations.
Elevated systems: Tower- and mast-mounted system variants of the RAID system have been around for years but are now being complemented by the Ground-Based Operational Surveillance System (GBOSS), a system that is being mated with Man-portable Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radars (MSTAR) that provide all-weather day and night capabilities that are low-power and can be deployed on light trailers or even vehicles.
Limits of ISR
Airborne capabilities are beholden to weather both in order to fly (rotary wing and lighter fixed-wing aircraft can be more restricted) and to see (some thermal and particularly radar-based sensors are less sensitive to overcast weather), which is particularly problematic in the winter months. However, the variety and number of platforms has dramatically increased, leading to improved situational awareness. The scale, affordability and power requirements of the smaller GBOSS variants especially are translating into the deployment of dedicated EO/IR and MSTAR capabilities to lower and lower echelons — some of which are less sensitive to unpredictable weather.
U.S. Air Force
An MC-12W Liberty intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance planeBut this sort of surveillance is limited in that one must know where to look, what to look for, and what can be discerned. The technology can be applied to main supply routes and route clearance efforts — keeping the lines of supply open in the country by watching specific stretches of road, for example. Similarly, with more bandwidth, even squad-level engagements can quickly have eyes overhead.
But short of being spotted actively digging in the ground on a main supply route or openly toting an assault rifle or rocket-propelled grenade while retreating from a firefight, the Taliban exist as a guerrilla force among the people. Even with the remarkable resolution of modern EO/IR sensors, visual means of intelligence gathering will only achieve so much in a counterinsurgency effort. More important, their tactical and battlefield utility may not translate into larger operational or strategic success. In many cases, it is only with biometrics such as eye scans that individuals can readily be visually identified as Taliban if they are not overtly engaged in some sort of incriminating activity (and then only if they have committed some nefarious deed that caused security forces to scan their eye).
Further emphasizing this lack of clarity in terms of individual identity and relationship to the diffuse and amorphous Taliban phenomenon, a purported senior Taliban leader taking part in back-channel negotiations with the Afghan government is now being reported as an impostor. STRATFOR has long held that no one has a good master list of the Taliban hierarchy; without this sort of sound analytic construct and sophisticated and nuanced understanding of one’s adversary, raw intelligence can only get you so far.
Similarly, signals intelligence — also a very broad, active and significant effort — has its value. If claims of success against the Taliban through special operations forces raids to capture and kill senior leadership and operational commanders are accurate, signals intelligence is likely playing an active and pivotal role.
But the one type of intelligence upon which the war might truly turn is human intelligence. This is not to denigrate or disregard the pivotal importance of ISR, signals and other means of collection. Each type of intelligence is different in extremely important and defining ways, and each has its role. Continued collection efforts and continually improving technical means are obviously important.
LCPL JOHN MCCALL, U.S. Department of Defense
A Ground Based Operational Surveillance System tower being secured in southwestern AfghanistanBut an indigenous guerrilla force naturally enjoys advantages in intelligence by virtue of its demographic identity, its cultural awareness and its human relationships. Merely managing this disadvantage can be a daunting task for a foreign power. Moreover, indigenous security forces trained and supported by that foreign power are very often inherently compromised to the benefit of the guerrilla.
Intelligence that cannot be gotten directly can be secured from allies with that knowledge, though it is not at all clear that the capabilities of Afghanistan’s fledgling intelligence services (particularly in key areas like the Taliban’s heartland in southwestern Afghanistan) or its willingness to share what actionable intelligence it does have can be decisive. It certainly has not been yet. Similarly, the United States has struggled to get sufficiently timely and accurate intelligence from the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence directorate.
The assistance of locals at the tactical level presents another avenue — both for intelligence to flow to U.S. units and for actionable intelligence to flow directly to Afghan security forces (which are only in some cases manned with local troops). Even in places like Marjah, which were until recently controlled — uncontested by ISAF forces — by the Taliban, there have been instances of locals not only helping identify improvised explosive devices or individuals that other forms of intelligence have not, but doing so openly, without attempting to conceal their own identity or collaboration.
In Iraq, active intelligence sharing from Iraq’s Sunnis on the al Qaeda and foreign jihadist operations that they had previously supported proved decisive in turning the tide in the war (even if the situation remains fragile and uncertain). This was done at a high level within the Sunni community — a level and example that is simply not replicable in the Afghan case. But it is nevertheless a reminder of how decisive indigenous intelligence can be in counterinsurgency.
Without a single demographic to turn to, and with such complex demography to begin with, there is no comparable single solution in Afghanistan. And a local here and there pointing out an explosive device that may well be near where his children play or travel or selling out a particularly unpleasant hard-line Taliban operative does not necessarily indicate much tactical progress in the intelligence sphere. The motivation of the source is of pivotal importance in human intelligence — he may be doing it for personal gain (by accurately or inaccurately fingering a competitor) or seeking financial or political gain. This is why it is difficult to draw conclusions, but the intelligence relationship between ISAF forces, Afghan security forces and locals in areas like Marjah will warrant close scrutiny moving forward. There are more and more instances of this sort of local assistance, and now that the United States and NATO have overtly committed to four more years of combat operations, that assistance may prove at least sustainable. The extent and actual intelligence value of that assistance is unclear, but the prospect for an increasingly broad (if not systematic) network of local human sources could yet hold strategic significance for the U.S.-led war effort.
Read more: Afghanistan: The Intelligence War | STRATFOR
another Stratfor: Helmand Vallye
Reply #766 on:
November 24, 2010, 11:32:19 AM »
second post of the morning:
One theme of this weekly update, particularly in recent months, has been a rather critical view of the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan. This perspective has its roots in the strategic and grand strategic altitude from which STRATFOR views the world and the context into which STRATFOR attempts to place world events. In particular, STRATFOR has raised questions regarding the opportunity costs of the forces committed to the counterinsurgency-focused strategy in Afghanistan and the size and duration of the commitment necessary to attempt to achieve meaningful and lasting results. But this update has also long endeavored to provide an accurate portrayal of operational and tactical developments — both challenges and successes. STRATFOR noted at the beginning of the year that the “new” American strategy, though it has its flaws, is more coherent and entails a more tough-minded recognition and awareness of U.S. challenges and weaknesses in Afghanistan.
The central Helmand River Valley is an example of recent tactical success. Here the U.S. Marine Regimental Combat Team-1 (RCT-1) is responsible for key areas south of Lashkar Gah, the Helmand provincial capital, including the farming community of Marjah to the west and Nawa and Gamshir further south down the Helmand River. Some two years ago, this area was the responsibility of a single Marine infantry battalion (some 1,000 Marines), that was spread quite thin simply attempting to provide some semblance of security in district centers. Today, four battalions provide security across the Regimental Area of Operations from more than 100 positions — many held by a squad of only about nine Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman and partnered with an Afghan National Army (ANA) squad. Other positions are held by the Afghan Uniform Police, the Afghan National Civil Order Police (a gendarmerie formation) or the ANA independently. A local community police initiative awkwardly known as the Interim Security Critical Infrastructure provides a block-by-block arrangement where locals provide for their own security.
(click here to enlarge image)
After two years of security operations in Nawa, Marine commanders will now visit the central market without helmets or body armor. It is the success story of the recent U.S.-led effort here, and one which commanders consider replicable in Marjah and Gamshir — where the fight is still more kinetic — given time. And there have been signs that locals are more forthcoming with intelligence and share it with both U.S. forces and Afghan forces, a potentially important sign for the durability of the civilian relationship with the government.
Gains across the central Helmand River Valley remain fragile and reversible, and it will take time to consolidate and entrench these successes, particularly since the area was once broadly and firmly controlled by the Taliban. It will also take time for the Afghan security forces and government — through trial and error, experience, training, and further support — to become strong enough to resist any return of Taliban fighters to the area or, perhaps more important, to deny the Taliban any meaningful ideological or material local support. It has often been said that the United States won all the battles in Vietnam but lost the war. Tactical success does not necessarily indicate broader operational or strategic gains, but it is nevertheless a trend that will warrant close scrutiny.
2014 and Beyond
The (not entirely unexpected) announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama on Nov. 20 at the NATO Summit in Lisbon that responsibility for security in Afghanistan would be completely transferred to Afghan forces by 2014 was particularly important in this regard, because it now makes explicit that there is more room for consolidating and cementing near-term gains against the Taliban. Notably, the 2014 timetable entails combat forces; in Iraq, some 50,000 U.S. troops remain in the country following the termination of combat operations at the end of August, playing an “advisory and assistance” role — meaning that the overall commitment of U.S. forces to Afghanistan could well last many years beyond 2014.
But the recent gains in Afghanistan have required the massing of forces. Four reinforced and heavily supported U.S. Marine infantry battalions in the central Helmand River Valley represent a far denser concentration of combat power than most areas of Afghanistan ever have or likely will ever experience. The Helmand River Valley is not a representative case study because the laser-sharp focus of forces cannot be replicated everywhere in the country. But it has been an area deliberately identified and targeted in the U.S. strategy in order to focus on key population centers and deny the Taliban both that population and the income from the poppy crop that the militants rely upon significantly.
This application of force has seen results — if not as rapidly as was originally hoped when Marines seized key bazaars in Marjah back in February. Relationships and a degree of trust are forming between locals and both U.S. and Afghan forces. But an insurgency is a moving target, and already the most intense combat operations have shifted northward to the district of Sangin. So while Marine efforts in Marjah in the last six months have indeed succeeded, the effects of the transition to Afghan forces as U.S. forces begin to pull back and focus their efforts elsewhere will warrant close and ongoing scrutiny.
The United States announced Nov. 19 that it will expand its Northern Distribution Network (NDN) supply chain to the Afghan theater by utilizing the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda. U.S. Transportation Command said the initial shipment will involve approximately 100 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers and will arrive in December. Klaipeda will join the Latvian port of Riga, the Estonian port of Tallinn, Georgia’s port of Poti and the Turkish port of Mersin in receiving non-lethal materiel such as building supplies, fuel and food bound for northern Afghanistan (the variety of materiel shipped has also expanded). The NDN began operation in early 2009 in response to threats to the supply chain in Pakistan and already sees the transit of some 1,000 TEU containers per week. The port of Klaipeda has the highest container-handling rate of all the other Baltic ports, though the capacities of the Russian, Kazakh, Uzbek and Tajik railways are a key limiting factor.
The United States is also looking at expanding its ability to use transportation networks in Russia and Central Asia. Russia agreed to allow the shipment of armored vehicles through its territory along the NDN and is currently negotiating with NATO to allow reverse transit, which would let NATO send materiel upstream, back to the Baltic, Turkish and Georgian ports for repair or redeployment. But Central Asia also poses several challenges for the United States and NATO. Aside from being extremely long, the NDN is not completely free of security risks. Militants in Tajikistan have threatened to attack shipments traversing Uzbekistan and Tajikistan into Afghanistan. While there is no evidence that this is happening enough to be significant — Pakistani militants have set a high standard for interfering with logistics — militants along the Tajik-Afghan border do have ties to the Afghan Taliban and could mount a more aggressive campaign, much like the Pakistani militants’ continuing challenges to NATO supply lines there. Nevertheless, further diversification of the logistical network, while it cannot replace reliance on Pakistan and entails risks of its own, can be considered significant progress for the U.S.-led war effort.
Main Battle Tanks
Logistics remain a key aspect of the fight inside Afghanistan as well. The notoriously poor road infrastructure — there is not currently a single paved road in the entire RCT-1 area of operations — is further degraded in wet conditions. This makes a Marine request for the deployment of a company of M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks (MBTs) particularly noteworthy. The tanks will offer heavy direct fire support that further taxes that infrastructure — at nearly 70 tons, the M1 does not tread lightly on local roads, and it is a fuel-hungry beast, with its gas turbine engine capable of burning through a gallon of gasoline in a quarter mile — but will also, by virtue of the off-road mobility that tracks provide, give greater freedom of movement. This will mark the first deployment of U.S. MBTs to the country, though Canadian and Danish Leopard tanks have been used to considerable effect in Kandahar province since 2007.
JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images
M-1 Abrams main battle tanksThe Marine Assault Breacher Vehicle, which is built on an M1A1 chassis, has been operating in Helmand province for a year now, giving the Marines a sense of what it takes to operate a vehicle of that size and weight. Both institutionally and doctrinally, the Marine tanker community is a small one that has always worked closely with infantry. Much has been said of what this request signifies at the current time, but the request was submitted earlier in the year and in fact echoed a request made last year that was denied. A small contingent of tanks — a single company has been requested which, including support vehicles, will amount to only around 15 vehicles to be deployed by the entire 1st Marine Division (Forward) — is simply part and parcel of how the Marines do business. The tanks will not win the war, and the request is not a sudden, panicked call for reinforcements.
The precision-engagement that the Abrams’ 120 mm main gun offers will be a significant direct-fire support asset, especially as vegetation is now thinning out, allowing for it to engage targets at longer range (beyond 2 miles). Indeed, in the lightly armored and largely foot-mobile Afghan campaign, even the Abrams’ M2 .50-caliber machine gun — often found along with the Mk 19 40 mm automatic grenade launcher mounted on M-ATV trucks — will often be found valuable, since the tanks’ tracks will allow them to move and position themselves in places that even the M-ATVs cannot go.
Meanwhile, the lack of a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the Taliban’s composition remains an issue. Nowhere was this made clearer than when a purported senior Taliban leader taking part in backchannel negotiations with the Afghan government was announced to have been an impostor. While this is an emerging development that requires further clarification and investigation, the mere statement — and the viability of such a claim, even if this one turns out to be different — underscores a longstanding STRATFOR point that no one has a good master list of the Taliban hierarchy. And without this sort of sound analytic construct and sophisticated and nuanced understanding of one’s adversary, raw intelligence can only go so far.
Read more: A Week in the War: Afghanistan, Nov. 17-23, 2010 | STRATFOR
Musings from an Indian friend
Reply #767 on:
December 03, 2010, 12:01:43 PM »
about one month old:
Some random musings...paki perfidy always gets my goat!.
Have you ever wondered, why the US cannot control pak ?. The solution to pak problem is very simple, and the US could implement it in a minute. What is not said is the need of the US govt to keep India in check (to maintain balance of power between India and Pak). The pakis know this and they exploit it fully. If the US did not try to keep India down, the pak problem would go away very quickly. Every weapons shipment (free) to Pak is done with the ostensible aim to help fight the taliban, but in reality it is to keep India under control. All the US needs to do is stop financing pak and keep a watch on the nukes. Within a few months pak will collapse, the state will break into its provinces, Balochistan would be free, the durrand line will go away, Afghan-Pak problem will disappear, The kashmir problem would go away and peace will reign
). Yugoslavia is quite peaceful now...
Carrying on with the current policy is a setup for failure. The Americans are generally the most hated nationals in pak, we waste resources on a god forsaken land. Due to american support, the army steals all the money it can, with very little left to improve the infrastructure, education or the poor. Its only a matter of time when the peasant class rises against the feudal elites. The MQM party is proposing land reforms, though I expect the bill to not pass. In essence, american money makes it easy for the generals to steal even more. In reality, the beggar nation should not be spending on nukes. If pak has nukes, the US is fully to blame, because we turned a blind eye to the chinese, who gave them the technology.
However, the US-India equation is changing. Instead of trying to check India wrt pak, the US now needs to checkmate China, for that reason the US is now supportive of India, which means that support to Pak must fade. I anticipate a harder line wrt to Pakiland, and improved relationship with India. This change seems to be happening. In Nov, Obama travels to India, many billion dollar deals will be signed, most related to weapons!. What is galling to americans is that Bush signed the nuclear deal with India, which has allowed many nations (France, Russia, canada etc) to sign nuclear power plant and uranium deals with India, but the US is still to bag a single deal!. This is because of Obama's insistence on technology denial to India under equal terms. The world is changing, and the Americans seem to be the last to realize it. When I talk to visiting Indians, the energy and enthusiasm regarding the future place of India in the comity of nations is palpable. In India, people ignore Pak needle pricks, and are now focussed on China. The thinking is that if a war can be avoided for one more decade, the economic progress will be sufficient to make any aggression by China very painful to them.
Karzai reading this thread
Reply #768 on:
December 12, 2010, 01:50:21 PM »
Afghanistan's President Karzai signs deal on gas pipeline project
The proposed 1,000-mile natural gas pipeline would cut through Taliban territory in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A flurry of 26 deaths over two days highlights difficulties the project would face.
By Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times
December 12, 2010
Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with regional leaders Saturday to sign an agreement for a massive energy project that could eventually net his country billions of dollars in revenue: a 1,000-mile natural gas pipeline whose proposed route cuts through the heartland of the Taliban insurgency.
As if to highlight the complications facing the project, at least 26 people were killed in attacks Friday and Saturday, including a Taliban commander and several people believed to be with a private security firm, Afghan and NATO officials said.
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The United States strongly supports the proposed pipeline because it could draw Central Asia's significant energy resources to Pakistan and India an bypass Iran, Washington's top adversary in the region.
Karzai met with Turkmen, Indian and Pakistani officials in Ashgabat, the capital of neighboring Turkmenistan, to sign the accord.
"On this very important occasion, let me once again highlight our vision for regional cooperation, which is to contribute to regional stability and prosperity," Karzai said in a statement, "and to enhance the conditions for Afghanistan to resume its central role as a land bridge in this region."
But the proposed $7.6-billion TAPI Gas Pipeline project and any revenue it may generate may be years away. The planned route passes from Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic, through violent territory still unsettled by insurgencies, including the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, and the Pakistani city of Quetta, which is considered the home of the Taliban leadership.
The latest violence took place in Afghanistan's south and the northern province of Kunduz.
In the most deadly attack, a roadside bomb blast struck a pickup truck carrying Afghan men Friday in a rural stretch of Helmand province, killing 15 people, Daoud Ahmadi, a spokesman for Helmand's governor, said Saturday.
Also in Helmand, a man described as a senior Taliban commander and three members of his family were killed Saturday in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization airstrike, the official Bakhtar news agency reported.
A car bomb exploded Saturday afternoon in the parking lot of the Information and Culture Directorate in Kandahar, injuring four police officers and two youths, said Zalmay Ayoubi, spokesman for the governor there.
"The enemies of peace and the people have lost the ability to fight against the government, and now they want to terrorize the public by committing such criminal acts just to show their existence," said a statement issued by the governor's office.
In Kunduz, a suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden car attacked an Afghan army checkpoint, injuring five soldiers and nine civilians in nearby homes, mostly women and children, said Muhbullah Sayedi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
U.S.-led forces also announced an investigation of allegations that seven Afghan members of a private security firm were killed Saturday during a counterinsurgency operation near the eastern Afghan city of Gardez, the site of a Dec. 5 suicide bombing that killed Western troops.
A military news release said the U.S.-led troops opened fire after armed men emerged from a vehicle and compound suspected of being linked to the Haqqani network, which is allied with the Taliban.
"The security force takes civilian casualty allegations seriously and is currently accessing who the individuals were, why they were armed and why they were in that area at that time of the morning," the news release said.
Protecting civilian lives has become a key component of the international force's strategy in Afghanistan. Deteriorating security erodes the Afghan civilians' trust in the central government and its armed forces, sometimes leading them to turn to the Taliban for protection.
The United States hopes the Afghan army and police force will be able to secure the country and tamp down the Taliban once international troops begin to depart. But attempts at political reconciliation between the central government and the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan from the mid-1990s until the U.S. invasion in 2001, appear to have stalled.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told reporters Wednesday in Kabul, the Afghan capital, that a large U.S. troop buildup in Afghanistan was showing results.
After a meeting with Karzai, Gates told reporters he would return to Washington believing that Afghanistan will be ready for a U.S. troop drawdown by 2014, as set out by President Obama.
Reply #769 on:
December 12, 2010, 09:53:33 PM »
No comments on the previous post? I thought it quite significant , , ,
Anyway, in a tragi-comic vein, here's this:
Reply #770 on:
December 13, 2010, 12:02:24 AM »
"No comments on the previous post? I thought it quite significant"
- I loved your title: "Karzai reading this thread". It's surprising who you bump into here!
"...natural gas pipeline whose proposed route cuts through the heartland of the Taliban insurgency..."
- What could possibly go wrong with that?? If this is possible it is the beginning of finding a revenue stream other than poppies for this wasteland. I forget why we favor legalization here but not poppy exports for the Afghans...
"Gates told reporters he would return to Washington believing that Afghanistan will be ready for a U.S. troop drawdown by 2014, as set out by President Obama"
- I thought Obama said 2011(?) Do you still think there will be no challenge to Obama from his own (anti-war) party?
Reply #771 on:
December 13, 2010, 08:44:09 AM »
FWIW IMHO BO is simply posturing until we get out.
FWIW IMHO if we were there to succeed this pipeline project would really be something around which to focus our efforts; both for its symbolic and real world meaning.
POTH progress around Kandahar
Reply #772 on:
December 16, 2010, 10:51:28 AM »
KABUL, Afghanistan — As the Obama administration reviews its strategy in Afghanistan, residents and even a Taliban commander say the surge of American troops this year has begun to set back the Taliban in parts of their southern heartland and to turn people against the insurgency — at least for now.
Mixed Picture on Taliban as Pentagon Reviews War
On Thursday, the Pentagon will release a year-end review of the nearly nine-year war in Afghanistan.
While the review seems certain to emphasize progress that has been made around the important southern city of Kandahar, security in other critical areas of the country continues to deteriorate.
The uneven picture in Afghanistan is raising questions about whether the United States military is gambling too heavily on a strategy aimed at breaking the back of the Taliban in their southern stronghold, at the expense of securing the country over all. (It would have helped if our CiC didn't announce that we are leaving too one suspects)
The stepped-up operations in Kandahar Province have left many in the Taliban demoralized, reluctant to fight and struggling to recruit, a Taliban commander said in an interview this week. Afghans with contacts in the Taliban confirmed his description. They pointed out that this was the first time in four years that the Taliban had given up their hold of all the districts around the city of Kandahar, an important staging ground for the insurgency and the focus of the 30,000 American troops whom President Obama ordered to be sent to Afghanistan last December.
“To tell you the truth, the government has the upper hand now” in and around Kandahar, the Taliban member said. A midlevel commander who has been with the movement since its founding in 1994 and knows it well, he was interviewed by telephone on the condition that his name not be used.
NATO commanders cautioned that progress on the battlefield remained tentative. It will not be clear until next summer if the government and the military can hold on to those gains, they said. Much will depend on resolving two problems: improving ineffectual local governments and strengthening Afghan troops to fight in NATO’s place.
The Taliban commander said the insurgents had made a tactical retreat and would re-emerge in the spring as American forces began to withdraw.
But in a dozen interviews, Afghan landowners, tribal elders and villagers said they believed that the Taliban could find it hard to return if American troops remained.
The local residents and the Taliban commander said the strength of the American offensive had already shifted the public mood. Winning the war of perceptions is something the military considers critical to the success of the counterinsurgency strategy being pursued by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the coalition commander.
While coalition gains in other parts of the south are spottier, Afghans with Taliban contacts say the insurgents have lost their bases in the rural areas around Kandahar and are a much weakened force in their old southern stronghold. Commanders have taken refuge across the border in Pakistan and are unwilling to return, they said.
“They are very upset and worried,” said one Afghan who lives in Quetta, the western Pakistani city where the Taliban leadership is based, and knows a number of Taliban commanders who live in his neighborhood. “This whole operation in the south has made it very difficult for them. They have lost their heart. A lot of leaders have been killed.”
NATO commanders have issued reams of press releases on the capture and killing of Taliban fighters.
While an emphasis on body counts can be misleading when fighting an indigenous insurgency, Afghans around the country said the strategy of targeted raids on Taliban field commanders had hit the movement hard. The Taliban member also confirmed the impact, and said the Taliban were dismayed to see the much more concerted offensive by coalition forces, as well as the corresponding shift in the public mood.
American forces have occupied former bases of the Taliban in districts surrounding Kandahar, and set up positions in the same buildings, including the Taliban’s main headquarters and courthouse in Sayedan where they held trials under Islamic law, or Shariah.
“Positioning themselves in the Taliban bases signals to the people that the Taliban cannot come back,” said one landowner from Panjwai, an important district outside the city of Kandahar. Like many others, he asked not to be named, indicating there was still widespread fear of Taliban retribution in the rural communities.
“Our Afghan security forces are assuring us that they will stay, and that gives hope,” said Hajji Agha Lalai, a provincial council member from Panjwai District. A medical worker who visited his home village in Panjwai on Monday said the area that used to be the front line between the government and the Taliban was now completely cleared and safe.
The coalition and government forces had blocked access to Panjwai and Zhare, another important district outside Kandahar, with wire fencing, concrete blast walls and tank berms so that all traffic had to filter through their checkpoints, making it nearly impossible for insurgents to move through the area clandestinely, the Taliban member and residents said.
Raids on houses of suspected Taliban members have also badly rattled those Taliban remaining in the area, landowners and residents said. Most of the Taliban have either fled or gone into hiding, they said. One local landlord, Abdul Aleem, said a group of Taliban had begged for food and lodging from villagers in Zhare 20 days ago, but were terrified whenever they heard shooting.
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The Taliban are even more concerned that the Americans are gaining the upper hand in the battle of perceptions on who is winning the war, several people with contacts in the Taliban said. “The people are not happy with us,” the Taliban fighter said. “People gave us a place to stay for several years, but we did not provide them with anything except fighting. The situation is different now: the local people are not willingly cooperating with us. They are not giving us a place to stay or giving us food.”
On Thursday, the Pentagon will release a year-end review of the nearly nine-year war in Afghanistan.
While the review seems certain to emphasize progress that has been made around the important southern city of Kandahar, security in other critical areas of the country continues to deteriorate.
The uneven picture in Afghanistan is raising questions about whether the United States military is gambling too heavily on a strategy aimed at breaking the back of the Taliban in their southern stronghold, at the expense of securing the country over all.
NATO’s announcement that it would remain until a transfer to Afghan forces in 2014 has also convinced people that it will not withdraw quickly, he said.
“The Americans are more serious, and another thing that made people hopeful was when they said they would stay until 2014,” the Taliban commander said. “That has made people change their minds.”
That shift in support could hamper Taliban operations, said one landowner, a former guerrilla fighter who has Taliban contacts. “It will hurt the leadership because they will not have people to work for them in the area,” he said.
The Taliban leadership was so concerned that it held a meeting recently to discuss how to counter the American-led offensive and regain key districts around the city of Kandahar, the Taliban member said. They appointed a new commander, Maulavi Sattar, to oversee the winter campaign in Kandahar and are pressing fighters to stall expansion of coalition and government forces in the province, and prevent recruitment of local police officers in the districts.
Nevertheless the Taliban fighters were losing heart and showing signs of division, said the Taliban commander, who has been sheltering in Kandahar city since the insurgents were routed from his district in October.
He said he traveled recently to the Pakistani border town of Chaman and met three Taliban commanders there. But when he asked when they were coming back to Kandahar, they said they were reluctant to return and feared they would be killed. “They said they feared our own men, that other Taliban might betray them,” he said.
The Afghan living in Quetta said that Taliban commanders he knew were trying to recruit and pay others to fight while holding themselves back. “One threw me 50,000 Pakistani rupees and said, ‘If you have anyone who can go and fight, take them and go and fight,’ ” he said. “When they threw me the money, they said, ‘If you don’t want to go and fight, could you find some recruits for the spring?’ ”
The Taliban leaders and commanders will certainly not give up, Afghans familiar with them said. Some of them have moved to Pakistan and will rest up until the spring. Others have shifted to more remote areas, where the coalition and government presence is not as strong.
“The Taliban will come back in the spring, but most people predict that they will not come with the force of previous years because they have been hit very hard and they keep being hit,” the landowner from Kandahar said.
“And if the Americans stay, the Taliban commanders will never come back,” he said.
Afghanistan war ending date strategy with politcs
Reply #773 on:
December 19, 2010, 03:04:25 PM »
My recollection during the dither over the strategy of an Afghan surge was that the withdrawal was set for July 2011, date certain. That date was chosen for American political reasons, not for future facts on the ground which were by definition unknown when the date was set. Now I understand we are out in 2014, date certain. That date, again, was chosen for American political purposes because, again, conditions and circumstances on the ground in 2014 can't be known now as that date is set - with certainty.
Under Obama, we escalated the war in terms of numbers of troops committed, cost. civilian deaths, enemy attacks, drone attacks, kills and captures and especially increasing is the number and rate of Americans dying in Afghanistan to the point of more deaths now than under 8 years of Bush. Also less press coverage so I write the above with no judgment whatsoever about how it is going.
The Afghan war had the potential of splitting the Democrat party, but it was off the political radar in 2010 because we are already committed to be out in 2011, date certain (I am not the one over-using that phrase). Switching now to 2014, date certain, allows the incumbent Commander in Chief to run just one more time as the true anti-war candidate because of his firm commitment to bring our troops home, a 'commitment' that a conservative Republican likely nominee will be unable to make.
Reply #774 on:
December 29, 2010, 11:37:48 PM »
The Continuing U.S.-Pakistani Disconnect Over the Afghan War
A number of developments related to the complex dealings between the United States and Pakistan over the war in Afghanistan took place Tuesday. The day began with the head of the Pakistani army’s public relations wing telling the Pakistani English daily Express Tribune that the army’s preliminary plans to launch an offensive in a key tribal region was delayed. The top Pakistani officer explained that the delay of sending forces into North Waziristan was the consequence of a resurgence of militant activity in other parts of the tribal areas — the latest manifestation of two separate attacks over the weekend in Mohmand and Bajaur agencies.
Since the recent strategy review by U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, Islamabad has come under increasing pressure from Washington to expand the scope of its counterinsurgency offensive in North Waziristan. It is the only agency (out of the seven that constitute the Federally Administered Tribal Areas or FATA) that the Pakistani government has not targeted as part of its 20-month-old campaign against Taliban rebels and their transnational allies. North Waziristan has also become the hub of jihadist forces of various stripes, particularly Taliban forces engaged in the fight in Afghanistan, especially so after the mid-2009 Pakistani-commenced operations against militants in other parts of the FATA.
“Both the United States and Pakistan agree that there is to be a negotiated settlement with the Afghan Taliban, but there is a huge disagreement on how to go about getting to the negotiating table.”
In a separate Express Tribune report by Pakistan’s first internationally affiliated daily — a partner of the International Herald Tribune — unnamed military sources were quoted as saying that senior military commanders decided to redeploy combat troops into the Swat district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in the wake of a renewed threat from Pakistani Taliban rebels. According to intelligence reports, the Taliban rebel leaderships in Swat and the FATA, which had escaped to Afghanistan’s eastern provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, were now regrouping in Mohmand and Bajaur to stage a comeback in Swat.
This report provides a justification for the Pakistani argument that it cannot expand its operations into North Waziristan — at least not for a while. It also upends the American argument that Pakistani territory along the Durand Line is a launch pad for Afghan Taliban insurgents fighting Afghan and NATO troops in Afghanistan. In other words, from the Pakistani view, while it is true that Pakistani soil is being used by militants to stage attacks in Afghanistan, the reverse is also true in that Taliban and al Qaeda forces waging war against Islamabad enjoy safe havens in eastern Afghanistan. Interestingly, on Tuesday, The New York Times published a story quoting unnamed U.S. intelligence and military officials stating that rival militant forces on both sides of the border had begun to cooperate to enhance their respective cross-border operations.
On a related note, and in response to the U.S. strategy review, Pakistan recently criticized the United States for demanding that Islamabad prevent militants on its side of the border from staging attacks in Afghanistan, while Washington-led forces with far more superior capabilities were not able to seal the border from the Afghan side. An American military commander responded Tuesday saying that it was not possible for Western forces to seal the lengthy Afghan-border and prevent militants from slipping in from the Pakistani side. Herein lies the dilemma in that both the United States and Pakistan have different priorities.
As far as Washington is concerned, Islamabad should not limit itself to action against Islamist militants waging war on Pakistani soil. Conversely, the Pakistanis want the Americans to realize that they can’t risk exacerbating the war in their country by going after forces that are not waging war against Pakistan. Ultimately, both sides agree that there is to be a negotiated settlement with the Afghan Taliban, but there is a huge disagreement on how to go about getting to the negotiating table.
As this disagreement continues to play itself out, the idea of setting up a Taliban office in Turkey surfaced last week around a summit-level meeting in Istanbul involving the Turkish, Afghan and Pakistani leaderships. While both Kabul and Islamabad welcomed the suggestion, the United States is unlikely to seriously entertain the idea of talks with the Taliban, at least not until after the end of 2011 due to the U.S. surge campaign. That said, if there is to be a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, the Afghan insurgent movement will need to achieve international recognition as a legitimate Afghan national political force and opening an office in a neutral country is a first step in that direction. And until that happens, the U.S.-Pakistani disconnect over the cross-border insurgency is likely to continue.
Stratfor: Potentially significant
Reply #775 on:
January 05, 2011, 01:44:37 AM »
Potential Significance of a Local Afghan Deal
A local peace deal may be emerging in one of the most violent corners of Afghanistan. U.S. Maj. Gen. Robert Mills, commander of Regional Command Southwest and commanding general of First Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), on Monday confirmed reports from the weekend that the largest tribe in Sangin district in Helmand province has pledged to end fighting and expel “foreign” fighters from the area. The Taliban, for their part, remain silent on the issue. But according to reports, the deal was struck with the Alikozai tribe in the Sarwan-Qalah area of the Upper Sangin Valley (only a portion of Sangin district), which controls some 30 villages. The agreement was made between tribal elders and the provincial governor, though the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was involved.
ISAF has neither the troops nor the staying power to actually defeat the Taliban. While they may yet succeed in eroding the strength and cohesion of the Taliban phenomenon, any lasting exit strategy would require some sort of political accommodation. In a sense, this can be compared to Iraq, where the 2007 surge of American combat forces — while not without its impact — did not turn the tide in Mesopotamia so much as play a supporting role in a political arrangement with Sunni insurgents (in the previously restive Anbar province and beyond) to not only cease supporting but to actively cooperate in the form of both local militias and, critically, intelligence sharing, in the war against the foreign jihadists that they had previously fought alongside. While Iraqi and regional politics remain very much in flux, this paved the way for a national-scale counter to the Sunni insurgency and foreign jihadist threat.
“The history of insurgency provides little to suggest that recent gains presage or herald an entity near defeat.”
Due to terrain and demography, power in Afghanistan — militarily and politically — is far more localized. While a comprehensive deal with the Pashtun, the ethnic group at the heart of the Taliban insurgency, could yield considerable results, the Pashtun do not fear any other ethnic group in the country as the Sunnis in Iraq feared the Shia. And the nature of local and tribal loyalties — not to mention the now cross-border and transnational Taliban phenomenon — makes settling on, much less enforcing, a nationwide solution far more problematic. Indeed, the Alikozai tribe speaks for only a small portion of Sangin (not to mention the potential impact of tribal rivalries) while the provincial government in Helmand has very little ability to impose or enforce much of anything on its own.
But while this most recent development in Sangin does not mark the beginning of a comprehensive solution, it remains noteworthy. Under the American counterinsurgency-focused strategy, forces have been massed in Helmand and neighboring Kandahar provinces — the heartland and home turf of the Afghan Taliban. In places like Nawa and Marjah, the sustained application of force has pushed the Taliban from territory that they once held uncontested. And the ability to turn the tide politically in former insurgent strongholds (as in Anbar province) has the potential to have wider significance.
Yet, it is classic guerrilla strategy to fall back in the face of concentrated conventional military force. STRATFOR does not trust the recent quietude of the Taliban in Helmand and beyond. The history of insurgency provides little to suggest that recent gains presage or herald an entity near defeat. And while ISAF’s claims of progress in terms of undermining Taliban funds and the capturing and killing of its leadership do not appear to be without grounds (though the true seniority of those killed and the operational impact of those losses remain pivotal questions), that does not necessarily translate into a more lasting political solution.
After all, while the United States succeeded in Iraq in extracting itself from an internal counterinsurgency battle that it was losing, the fate of the wider region is anything but settled. Transnational and regional issues — as well as the larger American grand strategy — will continue to loom long after American and allied forces begin to leave Afghanistan. But finding a solution whereby ISAF can extract itself from the day-to-day work of a difficult counterinsurgency where foreign forces are at an inherent disadvantage is of central importance to the current campaign in Afghanistan. And all caveats aside, political accommodation in Sangin must be seen as a positive development. Just how positive remains to be seen and will warrant close scrutiny in the weeks and months ahead.
Muslim politician stands against blasphemy law
Reply #776 on:
January 05, 2011, 08:21:54 AM »
4 January 2011 Last updated at 17:54 ET
Punjab Governor Salman Taseer assassinated in Islamabad
Salman Taseer was repeatedly shot at close range with a sub-machine gun
* In pictures: Taseer assassination
* Your reaction to the killing
* Pakistan's very unhappy new year
The influential governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, Salman Taseer, has died after being shot by one of his bodyguards in the capital, Islamabad.
Mr Taseer, a senior member of the Pakistan People's Party, was shot when getting into his car at a market.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the guard had told police that he killed Mr Taseer because of the governor's opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law.
Many were angered by his defence of a Christian woman sentenced to death.
Reply #777 on:
January 05, 2011, 07:30:10 PM »
Cheers and tears in Pakistan after assassination
ISLAMABAD – Lawyers showered the suspected assassin of a liberal Pakistani governor with rose petals as he entered court. Some 170 miles away, the prime minister joined thousands to mourn the loss of the politician, who dared to challenge the demands of Islamic extremists.
The cheers and tears across the country Wednesday underscored Pakistan's journey over the past several decades from a nation defined by moderate Islam to one increasingly influenced by fundamentalists willing to use violence to impose their views.
Even so-called moderate Muslim scholars praised 26-year-old Mumtaz Qadri for allegedly killing Punjab province Gov. Salman Taseer on Tuesday in a hail of gunfire while he was supposed to be protecting him as a bodyguard. Qadri later told authorities he acted because of Taseer's vocal opposition to blasphemy laws that order death for those who insult Islam.
As Qadri was escorted into court in Islamabad, a rowdy crowd patted his back and kissed his cheek as lawyers at the scene threw flowers. On the way out, some 200 sympathizers chanted slogans in his favor, and the suspect stood at the back door of an armored police van and repeatedly yelled "God is great."
Many other Pakistanis were appalled.
"Extremist thought has become so mainstream that what we need to question in Pakistan is what people think constitutes extremism now," said Fasi Zaka, a 34-year-old radio host and columnist.
Pakistan's founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, helped establish the country in 1947 as a moderate Islamic state welcoming all minority groups and religions. But that foundation has slowly been eroded over the years, especially in the 1980s during the military rule of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, who imposed a more conservative brand of Islam on the country.
The U.S. participated in this process by providing Zia's government with billions of dollars that it funneled to the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in neighboring Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia also provided billions and established scores of conservative Islamic schools that have played a major role in empowering the religious right in Pakistan.
Analysts say a majority of Pakistan's Muslims still follow a moderate form of Sufi-influenced Islam. But there are signs that even some of those beliefs may have shifted to the right. An influential group of 500 clerics and scholars from the Barelvi sect, which opposes the Taliban, praised Taseer's assassination.
The Jamat Ahle Sunnat group said no one should pray or express regret for the killing of the governor. The group also issued a veiled threat to other opponents of the blasphemy laws.
"The supporter is as equally guilty as one who committed blasphemy," the group warned in a statement, adding politicians, the media and others should learn "a lesson from the exemplary death."
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other senior ruling party officials joined up to 6,000 mourners under tight security to pay homage to Taseer at a funeral in the eastern city of Lahore. Other parties, including the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N, which is more aligned with religious groups, had limited presence at the event.
The response to Taseer's murder among ordinary Pakistanis seemed mixed. Some praised Qadri for targeting the governor, who in recent weeks had spoken forcefully in favor of clemency for a Christian woman sentenced to die for allegedly insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad.
"Salman Taseer committed a grave crime calling the blasphemy law a 'black law,'" said 30-year-old Ghulam Murtaza, a farmer on the outskirts of the southern port city of Karachi.
Lunatics now rule the asylum
Reply #778 on:
January 08, 2011, 08:36:37 AM »
An Indian friend who is an astute observer of these things comments:
The recent murder of the governor of punjab in pakistan marks an important turning point in pakistan's death spiral. The RAPE (Rabid Anglicized Pakistani Elite) class has been effectively silenced. 500 muslim priests refused to perform the last rites of the man. The body guard who shot the governor, did so with apparent agreement of other body guards (I guess the nukes are safe though). The shooter was brought to court and showered with rose petals, lawyers fighting to defend him!. As background the governor was shot for supporting a christian woman who was handed down a death sentence for blasphemy following a verbal altercation with other muslim women, who had refused to accept drinking water from her.
Effectively, the lunatics now rule the asylum....you have been warned.
Taseer's son's eulogy for his dad
Reply #779 on:
January 09, 2011, 11:05:13 AM »
TWENTY-SEVEN. That’s the number of bullets a police guard fired into my father before surrendering himself with a sinister smile to the policemen around him. Salmaan Taseer, governor of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, was assassinated on Tuesday — my brother Shehryar’s 25th birthday — outside a market near our family home in Islamabad.
The guard accused of the killing, Mumtaz Qadri, was assigned that morning to protect my father while he was in the federal capital. According to officials, around 4:15 p.m., as my father was about to step into his car after lunch, Mr. Qadri opened fire.
Mr. Qadri and his supporters may have felled a great oak that day, but they are sadly mistaken if they think they have succeeded in silencing my father’s voice or the voices of millions like him who believe in the secular vision of Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
My father’s life was one of struggle. He was a self-made man, who made and lost and remade his fortune. He was among the first members of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party when it was founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the late 1960s. He was an intellectual, a newspaper publisher and a writer; he was jailed and tortured for his belief in democracy and freedom. The vile dictatorship of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq did not take kindly to his pamphleteering for the restoration of democracy.
One particularly brutal imprisonment was in a dungeon at Lahore Fort, this city’s Mughal-era citadel. My father was held in solitary confinement for months and was slipped a single meal of half a plate of stewed lentils each day. They told my mother, in her early 20s at the time, that he was dead. She never believed that.
Determined, she made friends with the kind man who used to sweep my father’s cell and asked him to pass a note to her husband. My father later told me he swallowed the note, fearing for the sweeper’s life. He scribbled back a reassuring message to my mother: “I’m not made from a wood that burns easily.” That is the kind of man my father was. He could not be broken.
He often quoted verse by his uncle Faiz Ahmed Faiz, one of Urdu’s greatest poets. “Even if you’ve got shackles on your feet, go. Be fearless and walk. Stand for your cause even if you are martyred,” wrote Faiz. Especially as governor, my father was the first to speak up and stand beside those who had suffered, from the thousands of people displaced by the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 to the family of two teenage brothers who were lynched by a mob last August in Sialkot after a dispute at a cricket match.
After 86 members of the Ahmadi sect, considered blasphemous by fundamentalists, were murdered in attacks on two of their mosques in Lahore last May, to the great displeasure of the religious right my father visited the survivors in the hospital. When the floods devastated Pakistan last summer, he was on the go, rallying businessmen for aid, consoling the homeless and building shelters.
My father believed that the strict blasphemy laws instituted by General Zia have been frequently misused and ought to be changed. His views were widely misrepresented to give the false impression that he had spoken against Prophet Mohammad. This was untrue, and a criminal abdication of responsibility by his critics, who must now think about what they have caused to happen. According to the authorities, my father’s stand on the blasphemy law was what drove Mr. Qadri to kill him.
There are those who say my father’s death was the final nail in the coffin for a tolerant Pakistan. That Pakistan’s liberal voices will now be silenced. But we buried a heroic man, not the courage he inspired in others. This week two leading conservative politicians — former Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and the cricket-star-turned-politician Imran Khan — have taken the same position my father held on the blasphemy laws: they want amendments to prevent misuse.
To say that there was a security lapse on Tuesday is an understatement. My father was brutally gunned down by a man hired to protect him. Juvenal once asked, “Who will guard the guards themselves?” It is a question all Pakistanis should ask themselves today: If the extremists could get to the governor of the largest province, is anyone safe?
It may sound odd, but I can’t imagine my father dying in any other way. Everything he had, he invested in Pakistan, giving livelihoods to tens of thousands, improving the economy. My father believed in our country’s potential. He lived and died for Pakistan. To honor his memory, those who share that belief in Pakistan’s future must not stay silent about injustice. We must never be afraid of our enemies. We must never let them win.
Shehrbano Taseer is a reporter with Newsweek Pakistan.
Reply #780 on:
January 09, 2011, 11:41:25 AM »
To the previous post here, 27 shots into the Governor? The last 26 sound like sending a message to whoever wants to try being sane and rational next. And we ask why more moderate Muslims don't stand up and step forward.
"In Pakistan, the Zardari government is likely to fall in 2011."
This piece, Warcast 2011, could go under Geopolitics but has interesting insights on Pak-Afghan and our involvement. I will excerpt that here and read it all if you want. Also interesting regarding Iraq, Israel and Iran. Read it all if you if you like the excerpt. I don't agree or disagree, just taking it in.
In Afghanistan, we will see the largest yearly number of American and coalition casualties since the war there began in 2001. Our military operations will be accelerated, bigger and more far-reaching this year because President Obama may still draw down the surge of troops into Afghanistan this summer. (the news this week of an additional 1400 combat troops being sent in will proves the acceleration). The biggest question is whether the Karzai government - increasingly uncooperative with our military operations - seeks to assert greater control over those operations.
Vice President Biden's declaration that we will be out of Afghanistan "come hell or high water" in 2014 raises the likelihood of open conflict between Karzai and Afghanistan commander Gen. David Petraeus to a near-certainty. Petraeus is frustrated at the lack of progress in establishing local government operations where military operations have temporarily cleared areas of the Taliban. Karzai - looking ahead three years - will be less cooperative as the year goes on. Karzai's 70-member "high peace council" will be meeting with Pakistani representatives in talks designed to reach an accommodation with the Taliban. Those talks will not produce a peace agreement, but pressure by Karzai on Petraeus to reduce military strikes to incent the Taliban to talk peace will result in greater tensions.
In neighboring Pakistan, the Zardari government is likely to fall in 2011. As recently as this past weekend, the second largest party in the Pakistani coalition government - the Muttahida Qaumi Movement - quit the government and joined the opposition. Corruption, rising inflation and the government's poor performance during the 2010 floods have combined to weaken the Zardari government to the point that a military coup - or a parliamentary move to "temporarily" replace Zardari with a military strongman -- is more likely than not.
Gen. Pervez Musharraf would like to return to power, but more likely is the ascendance Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. Gen. Kayani, commander of the Pakistani military, plays a closely-held poker hand. He often chooses to turn a blind eye to American military strikes at terrorists in the Pakistani northern tribal regions, but he is keeping his options open in all directions.
The black swan hovering over Southwest Asia is what Kayani would do if he were to replace Zardari. Kayani, according to Pakistani media, quietly thwarted American aid legislation designed to ensure civilian control over Pakistan's military. Kayani, like Karzai, is making his own plans based on the Obama administration's plan to withdraw from Afghanistan no later than 2014. At that point, the Taliban will be neither defeated nor sufficiently disrupted to no longer be a threat to Pakistan. If he takes power, Kayani will move to force al-Qaeda and the Taliban back into Afghanistan and attempt to contain them there. His cooperation with American military operations will be sporadic, aimed only at that containment. ...
(author Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush)
Reply #781 on:
January 09, 2011, 02:25:12 PM »
As I have been posting here for a few years now, our strategy for Afpakia is utterly incoherent. Bush left a mess, no doubt! but as best as I can tell at present we simply are posturing so that our Commander in Chief can pretend that he kept his campaign promise to wage this "essential war of national self-defense" before doing what he fully intended to do along anyway-- which is to leave, under the guise of , , , well , , , that is going to be tricky, isn't it? The Democratic left and all sentient political observers understood that-- which is why the left supported him as the "peace" candidate.
As best as I can tell, we will withdraw under dishonorable conditions, Pakistan's underlying hostility will become overt, and its nuke program will become a major player in the proliferation ensuing from Iran's nukes.
Meanwhile, our CiC will cut the military while enslaving our children with deficit entitlements, bluster with China, set the stage for China's takeover of Taiwan not so many years down the road, etc etc etc.
An Indian analysis: Pakistan's Multiple Crises
Reply #782 on:
January 22, 2011, 06:47:30 PM »
Note the interesting comments on Indian Muslims at the end too.
MONDAY, JANUARY 10, 2011
Pakistan Multiple Crises
Two to three years has been the average life span of elected governments in Pakistan ever since Z A Bhutto was PM from 1973 to 1977. His daughter Benazir alternated with her rival Nawaz Sharif from 1988 till 1999 when the Mian Sahib was overthrown by yet another saviour in Khaki, General Pervez Musharraf. And both former Prime Ministers were forced into exile.
Thus, going by past precedents the present combine of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani would now seem to have run out of its allotted time. Several crises confront the PPP led government and there are no easy solutions, quite a few outside the range of the PPP leadership's capabilities to solve them.
The Commissar and the General
Apart from the ongoing turmoil in FATA and the tussle between the US and the Pak Army over North Waziristan is well known. An exasperated US administration finds itself unable to push the Pakistan Army led by Gen Kayani into launching operations in North Waziristan as it prepares for its draw down of forces later in the year. Each time the Americans press this issue or launch their drone attacks they slip in their popularity rating among the Pakistanis and each time Gen Kayani stonewalls he shines as a patriot.
The General has been driving a hard bargain with the Americans successfully as he silently strengthens his hold both on the system and the armed forces. Quite obviously, General Kayani has an agenda that goes beyond just refurbishing the image of the Army with generous assistance from the US. A professional Army does not need three year extensions in service to its Chief beyond the stipulated term unless the agenda is wider and political or ominously, even military and strategic.
Setting aside the economic crisis that engulfs Pakistan, there are two other crises that are brewing a political crisis in Islamabad and an ethnic-religious crisis in Karachi of grave dimensions that no one really wants to talk about.
A Political Crisis Unfolds
Zardari and Gilani are resigned to having to deal with an over bearing Army since this is the way of political life in Pakistan. But they have other disadvantages compared to their main political rival, Mian Nawaz Sharif and his PML (N) or even their ally the MQM led by Altaf Hussain both of who command personal loyalties and have strong cadre based parties.
Nawaz controls the Punjab, while Altaf controls Karachi. Gilani and Zardari are comparative lightweights in the PPP and do not command that kind of respect that these two do within their parties and people. Nawaz is a Punjabi, has close links with the Saudis and the Jamaat Islami, which has a following in the Pak Army. He himself has strong right wing religious leanings, which endears him to a section of the Army and the religious parties. Yes his attempts to manipulate the Army in the past despite being originally a protigi of the Army, and his religious leanings would make him unacceptable to the Army and the US.
In a free and fair election, Nawaz could possibly sweep Punjab and he who wins Punjab rules Pakistan. This is possibly Kayani's threat to the Americans at this juncture a few months before they plan their pull out. In the present crisis, perhaps Nawaz himself would not want to take over the reins of office so it suits him to see the government further weakened. He would rather wait it out unless an election is thrust upon him.
The MQM's Complaints
The MQM crisis is somewhat different. While the world's attention has been focused on the war in FATA against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the NWFP (Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa) ethnic and religious violence has been increasing alarmingly in Karachi. The MQM has for years complained and feared that the ingress of Pushtuns from the frontier many of whom are Talibanised would tilt the balance away from them while the activities of religious parties like the Deobandi parties like Lashkar e Jhangvi would further erode its hold in urban Sindh especially Karachi and Hyderabad. There is another complication in that politically the Mohajirs support the MQM, the Sindhis support the PPP and the Pushtun support the Awami National Party. The latter two invariably combine against the MQM.
Politically motivated targeted killings in Karachi have been increasing alarmingly. The Daily Times of Lahore reported that last year about 780 people were killed in ethnic, religious and political violence in Karachi which is similar to the suicide killings in the NWFP (797) and more than in the rest of the country (427). While the MQM may have its own political objectives in complaining to Gilani about the worsening law and order situation in Karachi the fact is that the metropolis has become a hot bed of rivalries between various competing and conflicting interests with strong overtones of a Talibanised culture and MQM fears it may have to cede ground to Wahhabi-Salafi beliefs brought in by more and more Pushtun leaving their homes for Karachi. Islamabad's failure to redress the MQM's complaints is the real reason for the threat of MQM to walk out although it is camouflaged in economic demands to bring in support from the Sindhis as well. To make matters worse for the MQM, its leaders have been trading insults with the PML (N) leadership. Consequently, the political situation looks very uncertain and the PPP looks extremely weak. And enter General Kayani centre stage?
The Assassination and the Islamic Fundamentalist Fervour
There is another development that could make the Army even more indispensible to the situation in today's Pakistan - the assassination of Salman Taseer the Punjab Governor and a close ally and friend of President Zardari, by one of his own guards for his opposition to Blasphemy Laws. It is not the first time that the religious right has resorted to punish those opposed to its creed. While Pakistan's liberal elite may mourn Taseer's death a wide section of the religious right has actually approved the killing.
The comments that were visible on Twitter and Facebook supporting the assassin were a chilling indicator of the direction Pakistan had taken in recent years. Killing for religion is frightening enough but the reaction that has been visible is even more frightening. The diktat by the Jamaate Ahle Sunnat Pakistan that no Muslim should attend Taseer's funeral sends a chill down every liberal spine.
The JASP is the largest body of the Barelvi group and considerate moderate in comparison to the Deobandhi-Wahhabi-Salafi Sunnis. Gen Zia's dream has become Pakistan's nightmare. The message to the liberal elite is - shut up and put up. The comment by the well known Pakistani commentator Cyril Almeida that, "Conservative forces are not just on a roll in Pakistan, they're pretty dominant. And liberal forces are not just on the back foot, but, really, they are extinguished," sums up the despondency and the gravity.
This is not the first time that a prominent Pakistani leader has been assassinated by suspected Islamic hardliners or attempts have been made. Benazir was killed by three years ago at the second attempt. They almost succeeded in killing Gen Musharraf in 2003 when he turned his back to the Taliban and some religious extremists in response to American demands. Then there were several attacks on the symbols of Pak power since September 11, 2001 including the Army and obviously the rot had set in but all this was swept away in the larger interest of preserving the peace and fighting the larger American war.
In the midst of all this one would continue to have doubts about Pakistani leadership's commitment to fight terror. It is believed that, the well-known senior Pakistani terrorist Qari Saifullah Akhtar from the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami with links to both the ISI and Al Qaeda was released from custody in early in December 2010. He had been taken into custody in August 2010 for trying to recruit five Americans for Al Qaeda when they had visited Pakistan in November 2009.
Qari Akhtar has a colourful jihadi history. Qari and the HUJI have been very close to the Taliban and Al Qaeda; he was involved along with some jihadi Army officers in an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Gen Abdul Waheed Kakkar in 1995 and over throw the government in 1995. Released in 1996, Akhtar fled to Afghanistan and then plotted the assassination of General Musharraf in 2003; he fled again to the UAE, deported in 2004 and released from custody again in 2007; was suspected to have been involved in the abortive attempt on Benazir in October 2007; detained in February 2008 and released in June 2008; and he was one of the main conspirators in the attack on the Marriott hotel in Islamabad in September 2008.
The ease with which Akhtar has been able to change residence only adds to suspicions that when the trail gets too hot the Pakistani establishment pulls in its assets for the trail to go cold and then release them when it is considered safe. This happens ever so often to Lashkar e Tayyaba leader Hafiz Saeed and the Jaish e Mohammed leader Maulana Masood Azhar.
Some of us worry that this could have an adverse reaction in India. There is an overreaction in some sections about intolerance in India. We must learn to trust the Indian Muslim instead of assuming he will be influenced by events and thought processes or ideologies in Pakistan. In so doing we challenge his intelligence and doubt his loyalties. In Pakistan they demanded the funeral of Taseer be boycotted because he was a liberal, in India the Indian Muslim leaders refused to allow the killers of Mumbai 26/11 be buried on Indian soil because they were terrorists. That is the difference between them and us.
True there is a fringe element in India as in most democratic societies but it does not endanger the state in the manner it has in Pakistan where it is no longer a fringe element but may well have become mainstream. In fact, extreme belief has been state sponsored in Pakistan; not so in India. The trick is to marginalise the extreme fringe but not to frighten the mainstream. Reaction here tends to lose touch with Indian realities and creates more discord. Careless off the cuff remarks are more responsible for this sort of thing and do not make for responsible commentary. By Vikram Sood(ANI)
Reply #783 on:
January 22, 2011, 07:03:15 PM »
As things progress, muslims that live in non-muslim lands will have to make a choice between the nation and the umma.
Reply #784 on:
January 22, 2011, 09:54:51 PM »
Only if we put that choice to them.
Any comments from anyone on the substance of the article? I always appreciate the Indian POV on Pakistan; the Indians (at least the pieces forwarded to me by my Hindu friend) always seem to have much more knowledge and insight into what is going on there whereas BO (and Bush too for that matter) just seems to be coyote to the various roadrunners of the region.
Last Edit: January 22, 2011, 09:58:04 PM by Crafty_Dog
WSJ: Nice shooting; is there a backstory?
Reply #785 on:
January 27, 2011, 02:18:16 PM »
By ZAHID HUSSAIN
LAHORE, Pakistan—A U.S. consular official shot dead two armed men Thursday as they tried to rob him in a crowded street in the central Pakistani city of Lahore, triggering a public protest in a nation where anti-Americanism is fierce.
A pedestrian also was killed when hit by another car that came to rescue the diplomat as he was being chased by a crowd.
Police later detained the American, who wasn't identified by name.
"The man said he fired in self-defense," Umar Saeed, a senior police officer in Lahore, was quoted as saying by local media.
Scores of people protested and burnt tires outside the police station where the American man was held. Television footage showed the man's white Honda car, with a civilian registration number plate, riddled with bullets and the windshield smashed.
One eyewitness told GEO TV network that the American fired after the armed men, who were riding a motorbike, tried to stop his car.
One of the alleged robbers died on the spot while the second succumbed to injuries in a local hospital.
It was unclear whether the attackers had any links to militant Islamist groups that have mounted attacks across Pakistan in the past two years.
The U.S. embassy in Islamabad confirmed that a U.S. consular employee was involved in an incident in Lahore without providing further details.
Mr. Saeed said police officials were investigating the incident.
It wasn't clear whether any case was registered against the U.S. official, who customarily should be covered by diplomatic immunity from any legal action in Pakistan.
The incident fueled anti-American rhetoric as some local television channels called for an investigation into why the American was armed.
There have been several incidents in the past where U.S. diplomatic cars were stopped by the security agencies in Lahore and Islamabad and searched for weapons.
A section of Pakistan's media has been fanning anti-American sentiment, accusing U.S. diplomats of being involved in spying.
Western diplomats in Pakistan are supposed to follow strict security guidelines while traveling because of threats from rising militant violence.
Lahore, which is the country's second-largest city, has in the past couple of years been hit by a series of terrorist attacks that have left hundreds of people dead.
Reply #786 on:
January 27, 2011, 02:50:51 PM »
I may have shared this with you earlier, if not pl. see this link
This is obviously written from the Indian POV, take it FWIW. But anyone reading this, would be leagues ahead in understanding Pakistan.
Reply #787 on:
February 01, 2011, 07:38:03 PM »
Should we be giving billions in aid to pak...since it allows them to redirect their own meagre resources to nuclear weapons.
Reply #788 on:
February 01, 2011, 07:46:25 PM »
A most pertinent question!
I was greatly intrigued by a different Indian POV piece you shared with me a year or so ago which I think I shared here which argued for the dismemberment of Pakistan.
Your post of the 27th is quite lengthy--though it looks quite worthy of the time to read it, the fact is that I don't have the time. May I ask for your synopsis thereof?
Re: WSJ: Nice shooting; is there a backstory?
Reply #789 on:
February 09, 2011, 07:25:50 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on January 27, 2011, 02:18:16 PM
You ask is there a backstory. Very likely there is.
The longish link to Bharat-Rakshak, posted below, re: Pak is difficult to summarize (more suitable for a read on the plane ride), but it provides insights into the paqui mind. I do hope to however comment on the way pakilanders think. Thus, wrt to the shooting, its easy to understand, that they are holding out for more $$. Another possibility is that the issue will be used to make a swap, perhaps the MIT trained female terrorist under US custody (daughter of the paki nation), or perhaps the withdrawl of cases against General Pasha (head of ISI), which have been filed in NY, in connection with the Mumbai terrorist act. Another, possibility is H & D (honor and dignity), which has been shattered by Raymond Davis, the shooter. Afterall, its not often that ISI operatives get shot in their own country by americans. To extract more dollah, they are drumming up demonstrations
, see the photo (looks like Microsoft is involved
). Its also very strange that the wife of the ISI operative, poisoned herself with rat poison
. More likely scenario is that ISI forced it down her throat (again, anything to maintain a facade of H&D, and extract more dollah). I am betting that they will release Davis soon, the game has gone on far too long. If they hold him too long, the jihadists could get involved, which would make it very messy.
Reply #790 on:
February 09, 2011, 07:57:32 PM »
Glad to have you here, Ya!
Reply #791 on:
February 13, 2011, 04:22:30 PM »
Here is one perspective on life in Pureland.
The game preserve
By Mohsin Hamid | From the Newspaper Yesterday
LAST summer in Lahore, I had a little party at my house for the final of the football World Cup. It was a pretty relaxed affair, maybe 20 people, cushions on the TV room floor, pizza on the dining room table. Some of my friends brought friends of their own.
One was an American man. He was wearing a light jacket. After he left, my wife told me he was also wearing a gun. Now, I’m open to my friends bringing their friends to my house. But I’m not very accepting of a friend bringing a gun — or, worse, bringing a complete stranger with a gun. Yet that’s what happened, and it left me angry and disturbed.
Like everyone else I knew, I’d heard the stories about large numbers of armed Americans in Lahore, staying at such-and-such hotels, for example, or working out at such-and-such gyms. Maybe I became more sensitive to their presence after the incident at my house, but suddenly I began to see them all around town. To be precise, I didn’t know if the men I was seeing were armed. But they looked like Americans, and they didn’t look like rock guitarists or maths teachers or irrigation specialists or heart surgeons. They looked, to my unschooled eye, like what I’d expect trained killers to look like.
(Of course it was possible that groups of non-violent, hard-faced, physically fit, all-male Swedish and Dutch and Spanish tourist groups with a niche interest not in ancient outdoor monuments but in the interiors of tacky hotels had descended on Lahore, but I thought this unlikely.)
Then, last month, in broad daylight on a main Lahore road, one such man, Raymond Davis, shot dead two Pakistani citizens with his Glock, and a US consular car sent to retrieve him killed another Pakistani citizen while speeding the wrong way down a street. Davis is being held by the Pakistani police, the US government is demanding that he be released and threatening to withhold aid to Pakistan if he is not, and the wife of one of the Pakistani men killed has committed suicide saying lucidly from her deathbed that her reason for doing so is that she does not expect Davis will be punished for his actions.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan government has tied itself up in obfuscatory knots over what should be the straightforward issue of whether Davis has diplomatic immunity, and therefore whether he can be tried in Pakistan.
So what is going on? Who is Raymond Davis, and what are people like him doing in Pakistan? I’ve read articles likening him to Rambo and RoboCop. But I believe another Hollywood film franchise metaphor is more apt. Predator.
The Raymond Davis affair has brought home what should have been obvious to us Pakistanis for a long time. Pakistan has become a game preserve, a place where deadly creatures are nurtured, and where hunters pay for the chance to kill them.
Here in the game preserve, money flows to the hunt. Pakistani extremists are funded, armed and trained. And American hunters, whether far away at the remote controls of Predator drones or on the ground in the form of men with the shooting skills of a Raymond Davis, operate under paid immunity. Want a blanket Tribal Area Hellfire missile licence? Well that might set you back the price of 18 new F-16s. An all-Lahore Glock licence to kill? Perhaps double-oh-seven billion in development aid.
But while the Pakistani population has until now grudgingly tolerated the notion of a game preserve limited to the Pak-Afghan border, the outcry over Raymond Davis has demonstrated that a game preserve encompassing the whole country strikes people as a different matter entirely.
Which puts both our governments in a bind. What are the warden-owners and hunter-consumers of a game preserve to do, after all, when the frogs and butterflies and trees and worms that make up the traumatised and hungry population of this land object to its current business model?
Because when I speak to my Pakistani friends the message I hear, though admittedly far from uniform, is nonetheless becoming increasingly clear. No more Pakistani extremists. No more American killers. And, if it comes to it, no more American aid either. We don’t want to live in a game preserve. We want to get on with our lives and build a future in peace for ourselves and our children.
The multi-billion dollar question is this: do the Pakistani and American governments — no, that term is too limited, focusing as it does mainly on our elected officials — do the Pakistani and American states have the capacity to listen?
If they do not, then the continued passivity of the long-neglected, inflation-gouged, and violence-subjected people of Pakistan is far from guaranteed. In the meantime, however, widespread reports that our country has produced a more-than-previously-estimated 100 nuclear warheads will surely increase the price of hunting permits.
The writer is the author of the novels Moth Smoke and The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
Reply #792 on:
February 13, 2011, 06:47:36 PM »
What do you make of this piece?
Reply #793 on:
February 13, 2011, 08:25:57 PM »
This article as well as other purelander boards that I follow, suggests that the common man (aka mango abdul in Indian defense forum lingo) has realized that the paki govt has given the US the right to bomb its citizens in the NWFP/FATA territories in return for mucho $$. Even worse the paki army bombs its own citizens and strafes them with F-16's. All this was acceptable, because the action was outside of pak's core regions. As the taliban moved into interior regions of pak proper (Lahore, karachi, Islamabad), and the pak govt was not interested in taking action, the US was forced to arm its own black water types and send them into battle along with paki forces, mostly to monitor that real "encounters" took place, as opposed to the sham fights. It seems that the numbers of these gun toting "diplomats" has increased tremendously in the last year or so. Raymond Davis is obviously a military type, who on paper has diplomatic cover. If the paki govt would have been smart, they would have immediately released him, but being paki, they wanted to milk the situation for all its worth. Now, that the jihadi types are agitating, all bets are off.
Pak is addicted to US $$ support, the politicians loot the country and same goes for the army which gets billions in aid. The mango abdul suffers. Another paki trait is to negotiate by putting a gun to their own head, "give me money or I blow my brains out". At the moment its unthinkable that the US will stop supporting Pak, but if the US stops funding pak, there could be significant upheaval. The army will be forced to fund themselves from paki resources, which means that whatever little goes to the common man, will stop almost completely....a recipe for social upheaval.
Reply #794 on:
February 13, 2011, 08:41:21 PM »
If he was NOC, then I could see the US walking away. Walking away when Davis has diplomatic immunity would be unthinkable, well before Obama was president it would be.....
Reply #795 on:
February 13, 2011, 09:26:04 PM »
That was very interesting commentary. It gives me a sense of things that I did not have before. That said, am I missing the mark when I wonder where the sense of responsibility is for refuge being given to those who launch attacks on the US from their territory?
Reply #796 on:
February 14, 2011, 08:02:54 PM »
If pak were to act on the taliban sanctuaries inside pak, that would solve americas immediate problems, allowing for an honorable withdrawal. With the US gone, the aid would likely diminish. Now why would the aid(s) addicted army want such an outcome ?. There is a moral hazard here, aid continues and increases only as long as the taliban are a problem. Side note: same issue in N.Korea, the more N.Korea misbehaves, the more aid we give. The solution obviously is to use a heavier stick, as opposed to a larger carrot.
Reply #797 on:
February 14, 2011, 11:19:07 PM »
Ya, Welcome! That was a great post - very insightful thinking. It is strange that the more people don't solve a problem, the more we are willing to pay.
I wonder why the reward for bin Laden doesn't work. That is an example of at least trying to pay for results.
Reply #798 on:
February 15, 2011, 07:57:27 PM »
And right on cue, here is Ombaba with his
money sack, certainly pays to misbehave...
WSJ: Pressure building, additional details on detained US govt employee
Reply #799 on:
February 16, 2011, 06:58:47 AM »
LAHORE, Pakistan—U.S. President Barack Obama called for Pakistan to release a government employee who killed two men last month, as Sen. John Kerry arrived here for talks aimed at ending the diplomatic standoff.
The man, Raymond Davis, has been in custody in Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city, since the incident on Jan. 27. The U.S. says he is covered by diplomatic immunity and should be released.
Mr. Obama weighed in on the row Tuesday, saying Pakistan must release Mr. Davis under its commitments as a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a pact from the 1960s that guarantees diplomats immunity from prosecution. "If it starts being fair game on our ambassadors around the world, including in dangerous places…it means they can't do their job," Mr. Obama told a news conference.
The comments escalated a diplomatic dispute over Mr. Davis's detention. Public anger over the shooting and demands for Mr. Davis's prosecution make it difficult for Pakistan's central government—an ally of the U.S.—to order his release.
A court in Lahore is expected to begin hearing a case Thursday on whether Mr. Davis has immunity from prosecution.
Mr. Kerry, at a news conference in Lahore, promised the U.S. Justice Department would conduct its own "thorough criminal investigation" if Pakistan were to release Mr. Davis.
"It is a strong belief of our government that this case does not belong in the court," Mr. Kerry said Tuesday. "And it does not belong in the court because this man has diplomatic immunity."
Mr. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has made four trips to Pakistan in the past two years and was instrumental in co-writing in 2009 a five-year, $7.5 billion civilian aid package, part of a strategy to help counter Islamic radicalism in the country. Despite closer ties, many here remain wary of the U.S., which is viewed as building strategic alliances with Pakistan's traditional rivals, notably India.
Washington, too, has been disappointed with Pakistan for failing to clamp down on Taliban havens on its soil.
The incident involving Mr. Davis has added a further level of mistrust to the relationship.
The U.S. last week canceled a meeting scheduled for late February in Washington, involving Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Afghanistan, in protest against Mr. Davis's detention. Washington has also scaled back other routine bilateral contacts.
According to the U.S. version of events, Mr. Davis, 36 years old, opened fire on two armed men in self-defense after they attempted to stop his white Honda Civic car at a busy intersection in broad daylight. U.S. officials say the two men, who were on a motorbike, had earlier in the day robbed other people in the area.
The U.S. has said Mr. Davis is a "technical and administrative" staff of the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, but hasn't said what his role was or whether he was authorized to carry a weapon. The U.S. confirmed Mr. Davis's identity Friday, two weeks after Pakistani authorities released his name.
Lahore police officers say they recovered a number of effects from Mr. Davis's car after the incident, including two Glock pistols and more than 70 rounds of ammunition. Officials say they also found a metal detector, a latex face mask with a beard and headpiece, and a make-up kit.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad declined to comment on Mr. Davis's effects.
Pakistani officials appear to be angered by what they say was Mr. Davis's covert role in Pakistan. A senior official with Inter-Services Intelligence, the military's spy agency, said the organization was unaware of Mr. Davis. "Apparently he was working behind our backs," the official said.
The U.S. Embassy denied this and said it notified Pakistan's Foreign Ministry of Mr. Davis's arrival in the country in January 2010, which, the U.S. says, means he is covered by diplomatic immunity.
Senior Pakistani officials have made contradictory statements in recent weeks over whether, in their view, Mr. Davis is covered by immunity from prosecution.
Pakistani police investigating the incident have yet to formally charge Mr. Davis, but say they are treating the case as murder. If the high court finds Mr. Davis isn't covered by immunity, state prosecutors must bring his case to court by Feb. 25.
In Lahore's British-era town center, placards put up by an Islamist group show a photo of Mr. Davis's head with a hangman's noose superimposed around it.
Two Lahore police officers involved in the case say the two men who confronted Mr. Davis were likely armed due to a dispute with another family. One of the men's elder brothers had been killed in December in a row over a girl. They denied the men, who resided in Lahore, had earlier robbed others in the area.
Witnesses say the men were circling around Mr. Davis's car, which he was driving himself, according to the police officers.
What happened next is unclear. Mr. Davis fired nine bullets from inside the car, seven of which hit the men in various parts of their bodies. He got out of the car to photograph the dead men on his cellphone and then fled an angry crowd that was forming, the officers said. Police arrested him in his car a few miles from the scene.
Another vehicle from the consulate, which came to rescue Mr. Davis, ran over and killed a bystander. The driver of that car wasn't taken into custody and hasn't been identified.
Authorities had previously detained Mr. Davis for a few hours two years ago, the two police officers said.
In that incident, police stopped the car in which Mr. Davis was traveling in Lahore during a routine check in a posh part of town and found a number of weapons in the car, the officers said. But they let Mr. Davis go after orders from the central government, they added.
The U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said reports about this detention were "unsubstantiated."
—Shahnawaz Khan contributed to this article.
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