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Topic: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan (Read 246753 times)
Reply #100 on:
August 06, 2007, 06:58:41 PM »
I've seen similar reports-- although the idea of Iraqi "donations" sounds a bit implausible, the ransom racket is probably pretty active.
As for financing AQ, I suspect the fact that Afg now produces over 95% of the western world's opium may have something to do with it even more.
Reply #101 on:
August 06, 2007, 07:29:37 PM »
Woof Guro Crafty, I agree, but is not the poppy crop something that we should be able to directly control?
I just posted a report the other day that claims this years crop was at a all time record high?
How does that corerelate with us being serious with the war on terror and more specificly A'Q
Reply #102 on:
August 06, 2007, 08:06:00 PM »
I suspect it has to do with the fact that if you stand for wiping out most of the income of a really poor country and the other side is more than willing to benefit from it, that it looks like a losing equation.
Reply #103 on:
August 06, 2007, 08:30:52 PM »
The way I see it is this mentality is at least a 3 fold loser.
1.We are directly or indirectly providing a source of income to the very people that fly jets into our sky scrapers.(not good)
2.) We are allowing for the spread of herion around the world furhter complicating the war on drugs, let alone the enabling of serious drug addicts.........
3.) By allowing this to continue we offer no long term hope for the people of Afghanstan.
Probably an easy few more good reasons that record crops of poppys is bad for us and the war on terror 6years after 9/11 but those are just 3 in no particular order that popped in off the top of my head.
I would suggest again that we are not really serious about our war on terror, or we might consider talking a look at doing some serious work on Afghanstans economic infastructour........but then that would take some serious work/commitment.....
Reply #104 on:
August 06, 2007, 08:45:05 PM »
I didn't say I supported it. I simply answered your questin as to why it was like that.
That said, I think if you were to surf through the past several years of this forum you will find kindred spirits around here for getting serious. Amongst the more recent calls for getting serious is the thread called "The Phony War" started by yours truly.
Reply #105 on:
August 06, 2007, 08:53:29 PM »
Woof Guro Crafty, By no means was I insinuating that you did support this type of reasoning.
It is just that these very types of things make me beleive that we are indeed in a "phony war" on terror.
I feel when a good hard look is made at a lot of different variables one could easily conclude that the American people are being dupped and ripped off.
Reply #106 on:
August 11, 2007, 03:57:31 PM »
The Fourth Rail: Pakistan: Concern over nukes as al Qaeda camps empty
Written by Bill Roggio on August 11, 2007 2:45 AM to The Fourth Rail
Available online at:
Red agencies/ districts controlled by the Taliban; purple is defacto control; yellow is under threat.
US intelligence investigates Pakistan's nuclear security and the military’s loyalty to Musharraf as the Northwest Frontier Province spins further out of control
As the security situation in the Northwest Frontier Province continues to deteriorate and President Pervez Musharraf's political stock continues to drop, the US military intelligence community is "urgently assessing how secure Pakistan's nuclear weapons would be in the event President Gen. Pervez Musharraf were replaced." Meanwhile, the Taliban and al Qaeda have dispersed operatives from the training camps in the Northwest Frontier Province and are preparing to fight on their own terms.
With the Pakistani government facing a robust Taliban insurgency in the Northwest Frontier Province, a significant al Qaeda presence inside the country and a violent cadre of home grown Islamist extremists, the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal has taken on an elevated importance. The US intelligence community believes it has a handle on the location of Pakistan’s nuclear warhead, but there are questions over who controls the launch codes in the event of Musharraf’s passing.
The Us is also looking past the issue of the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. The loyalty of the conventional Pakistani military to President Musharraf is in question, according to CNN. Musharraf controls the loyalty of the commanders and senior officials in charge of the nuclear program, but those loyalties could shift at any point," CNN reported on August 10. "There is also a growing understanding according to the U.S. analysis that Musharraf's control over the military remains limited to certain top commanders and units, raising worries about whether he can maintain control over the long term."
On the same day of the release of news on concerns over the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and the loyalty of the Pakistani military, the Asia Times' Syed Saleem Shahzad reported al Qaeda and Taliban camps in North and South Waziristan have emptied, the Taliban and al Qaeda are expanding into the settled districts of the Northwest Frontier Province, and are reorganizing in both Afghanistan and Pakistan for a major fight.
The Fourth Rail interviewed a senior military intelligence official and a military officer, both of whom are familiar with the situation in the Northwest Frontier Province and wish to remain anonymous. The sources confirmed Mr. Shahzad's information concerning the al Qaeda and Taliban camps in North Waziristan and the Taliban’s reorganization is accurate. Both sources are particularly concerned about the implications of the emptying of the camps.
Mr. Shahzad reported there were 29 al Qaeda and Taliban camps in North and South Waziristan, and all but one "have been dismantled, apart from one run by hardline Islamist Mullah Abdul Khaliq." [Note: on October 4, 2006, The Fourth Rail reported "there are over 20 al Qaeda and Taliban run training camps currently in operation in North and South Waziristan."] While The Fourth Rail sources verify the camps' existence, they noted the camps have not been dismantled, but the infrastructure is still in place. "The physical infrastructure (camps and the like) still exist, they haven't been dismantled. They've just been abandoned or are being operated by skeleton crews," the senior military intelligence source said, while noting "the Khaliq camp is only churning out Taliban, not al Qaeda."
The al Qaeda and Taliban personnel abandoned the 28 camps after "the US had presented Islamabad with a dossier detailing the location of the bases as advance information on likely US targets," Mr. Shahzad reported. "All other leading Taliban commanders, including Sirajuddin Haqqani, Gul Bahadur, Baitullah Mehsud and Haji Omar, have disappeared,” said Mr. Shahzad.
"Similarly, the top echelons of the Arab community that was holed up in North Waziristan has also gone." Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies are believed to have leaked information to the Taliban and al Qaeda in the past, and appears to have done so again.
The emptying of the camps is a cause for great concern in the military and intelligence communities. "We don't know where they went to or who was in the camps," the military officer told The Fourth Rail.. "They are well trained, these aren't your entry level jihadis. They are dangerous."
"This is one of the reasons that we are worried about a major CONUS [Continental United States] attack," the senior military intelligence source told The Fourth Rail, noting the recent influx of news of terror cells attempting to penetrate the US. "If they evacuated their bases, they almost certainly did so out of fear of more than just the Pakistani army."
Mr. Shahzad also reported Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second in command, along with the Shura Majlis, is currently based out of the village of Jani Khel village in the settled district of Bannu. Sirajuddin Haqqani and the Taliban Shura are operating in the eastern Afghan provinces of Khost and Gardez.
A spillover of al-Qaeda's presence in Jani Khel is likely to spread to Karak, Kohat, Tank, Laki Marwat and Dera Ismail Khan in Pakistan. Kohat in NWFP is tipped to become a central city in the upcoming battle, as the office of the Pakistani Garrison commanding officer is there and all operations will be directed through this area. In addition, Kohat is directly linked with a US airfield in Khost for supplies and logistics.
A second war corridor is expected to be in the Waziristans, the Khyber Agency, the Kurram Agency, Bajaur Agency, Dir, Mohmand Agency and Chitral in Pakistan and Nanagarhar, Kunar and Nooristan in Afghanistan.
The Fourth Rail has repeatedly identified Bannu, Kohat, Tank, Laki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Khyber, Kurram, Dir and Mohmand as Taliban controlled or influenced territory over the course of the past two years.
Quetta. Satellite Town is in the southwest corner.
According to Mr. Shahzad, the Afghan Taliban has reorganized its leadership and devolved its command structure away from senior, regional leaders to local leaders after the death of senior Taliban commanders Mullah Akhtar Usmani and Mullah Dadullah Akhund. The Taliban leadership has been decimated by NATO and Afghan strikes in southern Afghanistan over the past year, and have regrouped in Satellite Town in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan. Quetta has long been identified as a Taliban command hub. Pakistani security forces captured Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, a former Defense Minister and member of the Shura Majlis, in a hotel in Quetta.
According to the senior military intelligence source, senior Taliban leaders are hesitant to enter southern Afghanistan due to NATO successes against the Taliban command structure, and have devolved control to the regional commanders out of necessity.
Mr. Shahzad postulates the Pakistani military will move in force into the Northwest Frontier Province after the Pakistan-Afghanistan tribal jirga concludes. But the existing evidence does not support this theory at this time. While the Pakistani government claims it has moved additional forces into the tribal areas, these troops have been subjected to brutal suicide, roadside bombs, ambush and mortar and rocket attacks. Over 200 military personnel have been killed since mid-July, while the Pakistani military’s previous foray into North and South Waziristan from 2004 – 2006 resulted in upward of 3,000 soldiers killed. The Pakistani military has done little other than press for more negotiations with the Taliban while conducting retaliatory strikes, largely using artillery and air power.
On August 10, 16 Pakistani troops were kidnapped in South Waziristan. Yet Pakistani military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad confirmed the military is still in a defensive posture, reacting to attacks. "There is no planned operation going on in North Waziristan but we are responding with greater force against militant attacks on security forces now," said Arshad.
Also, the end of the summer is approaching and the Pakistani military has yet to launch the purported campaign. Winter is fast approaching in some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet, where al Qaeda and the Taliban are dug in and have deep ties with the local residents. The ideal time for the military to launch operations would have been the spring, leaving the summer open to conduct a campaign which will be difficult and bloody enough without battling the terrain and elements.
Reply #107 on:
August 11, 2007, 04:19:33 PM »
GM, I read your post. Care to translate it?
Reply #108 on:
August 11, 2007, 04:43:21 PM »
This may be where AQ tries to seize Pakistan and Pakistan's nukes. This may also signal an offensive in europe and possibly the continental US as well.
Reply #109 on:
August 11, 2007, 05:08:33 PM »
GM,This may signal the time where president Mushy has to finally take a side...... and quit playing both sides. I'am in some ways kinda glad this day has come (finally)
Its really disheartning to read that all those known A'Q and Taliban go hand in hand off into the sunset....esp when you read the article it states pretty much who they are and where they ....WERE.
SO goes my knock on the our realistc approach to the global war on terror.
Just curious as to what kind of launch capablities Pakistan has on thier nuke weapons.
Last thing I heard about their nukes was they exploded a underground weapon a short time after India did......this was several years ago though.
Reply #110 on:
August 11, 2007, 05:24:58 PM »
Off the top of my head, India's nukes are mostly bomber deployed, while Pakistan has them mounted on missiles. I'm guessing that Pakistan anticipates India holding air superiority in a potential war. Musharraf may either soon be dead or in exile, he probably tilted as far as he could to "ally" himself with us. He's been on the edge of declaring martial law already, the problem being the loyalty of the military in the coming conflict.
Reply #111 on:
August 11, 2007, 07:12:20 PM »
Reply #112 on:
August 12, 2007, 10:32:37 PM »
Reply #113 on:
August 13, 2007, 11:53:08 PM »
Watching the Camps
Bill Roggio was the first to report some rather significant--and possibly, troubling--developments from Pakistan's tribal region, where Al Qaida (and its Taliban allies) have established a new safe haven over the past year. On Saturday, Mr. Roggio noted an article by Asia Times writer Syed Saleem Shahzad, claiming that Al Qaida and Taliban camps have "emptied out" over the past month, ahead of anticipated strikes by the Pakistani military, and possibly, by U.S. special operations forces.
The implications of that move are obvious. Not only will scores of terrorists live to fight another day, but it also raises renewed questions about security and loyalty within the Pakistani military. According to Mr. Shahzad, the U.S. had developed extensive intelligence on 29 suspected camps in the Waziristan and passed the information to Islamabad, in preparation for an expected offensive. The quick exodus of insurgents from that camp suggests (once again) that the Taliban has a number of "friends" in the upper echelons of Pakistan's military (particularly within the intelligence service or ISI), who provide tipoffs and warning to the terrorists.
Shahzad's sources also claim that "all but one of the 29 camps" have been dismantled, although U.S. officials (questioned by Bill Roggio) deny that report. Clearly, there's a critical difference between an abandoned camp (or one where no activity is observed), and a facility that is being disassembled. Empty camps would suggest that Al Qaida and Taliban elements have temporarily relocated, moving into defensive positions against expected Pakistani attacks, with plans to return once the government's offensive ends.
Another--albeit less likely--explanation is that the Taliban and Al Qaida have become increasingly aware of U.S. satellites (and other surveillance platforms), scheduling training and other "outside" activity to coincide with known "breaks" in coverage. Information on various spy satellites and their coverage windows in readily available on the internet, and years of aircraft and UAV flights along the Afghan border have provided insight into their operational patterns as well.
While terrorists could use that data to developed their own "activity scheduling" program to inhibit our surveillance efforts, they would face the challenge of disseminating that information to widely-scattered camps in a timely manner. Beyond that, the "absence" of activity is likely based on all-source intelligence reporting, which indicates that the camps are empty, at least for now. In other words, not only are the imagery platforms showing an absence of activity, it's being confirmed by SIGINT and other measures.
But would Al Qaida and the Taliban be willing to permanently surrender their Waziristan bases? That's the $64,000 question, and for now, it defies a clear answer. Most of the analysts we spoke with believe that the terrorists would give up their safe havens only if (a) their training and logistical goals had been met; (b) they were anticipating a permanent Pakistani military presence in the region, (c) they anticipate access to better locations/facilities in the near future, or (d) they plan to return to the camps in the months ahead.
While the Waziristan camps have been a boon for Al Qaida and their Taliban allies, they have not achieved mid or long-term training and logistics goals in the past year. Like any other military organization (or more, correctly, quasi-military organization), the terrorists face the challenge of recruiting, training and equipping enough fighters for a multi-front war. A permanent shut-down of the 29 camps--without dedicated replacements--would put Al Qaida and the Taliban in the same fix they faced before the Waziristan Accords: a need to prepare more terrorists for jihad, without the large-scale training facilities that operated openly in Afghanistan in the late 1990s.
We also concur with Bill Roggio's assessment that the "threat" of a Pakistani military presence did not force the evacuation. As he notes, limited Pakistani forays into Waziristan have come at a high price, and despite hints from Islamabad, there are no signs of a pending government offensive into the tribal lands. Attacks by the Pakistani military may be limited to air and artillery strikes against "known" targets (i.e., the camps), so a temporary evacuation would allow terrorists to minimize their losses, and return after the offensive ends.
In terms of accessing "new" locations, the terrorists may have that opportunity in the coming weeks. Mr. Shahzad's article identified two "war corridors" that represent key axis of communications in potential battles with Pakistani forces. Success in those clashes would allow Al Qaida and Taliban operatives to extend their reach, and move closer to areas now under government control. Relocating the camps to those areas would make them more accessible, but also more vulnerable to future Pakistani attacks. Barring a major change in the balance of power, such a relocation seems unlikely.
Available information suggests that the fourth option--a return to the Waziristan camps--appears most likely. With winter looming on the horizon, the terrorists know that any Pakistani offensive (or U.S. SOF raids) will be of limited duration, allowing them to reoccupy their safe havens in a matter of weeks. That suggests that the current "evacuation" serves two operational goals: minimizing losses from potential strikes against the camps, while putting more fighters in the field to deal with potential ground incursions by Pakistani forces. Once the "immediate" threat eases, the terrorists will likely return to their camps, which are still being maintain by skeleton staffs.
ADDENDUM: There has been considerable speculation about the camps' sudden evacuation, and possible attacks by Al Qaida inside the CONUS. As one intelligence official told Bill Roggio, there were a number of experienced terrorists in those camps, operatives who are quite capable of conducting operations overseas. While we concur that assessment, it is worth remembering that those terrorists were a minority within the "local" Al Qaida population. Most of the fighters who recently dispersed were likely trained for operations within the region--Afghanistan or Pakistan.
On the Road to Jalalabad
Reply #114 on:
August 14, 2007, 09:40:19 AM »
On the Road to Jalalabad
Don't believe the naysayers. Afghanistan is doing as well as anyone has a right to expect.
BY ANN MARLOWE
Monday, August 13, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
AFGHANISTAN--Sen. Hillary Clinton has cynically charged that we are "losing the fight to al Qaeda and bin Laden" in Afghanistan. But on my eighth trip to Afghanistan (last month) I saw that the trend lines are up, not down.
The first encouraging sign came in Dubai as I boarded my flight for Kabul. Afghanistan's main private air carrier, Kam Air, has recently added a second daily round trip between Kabul and Dubai.
Once in Kabul I bought a new SIM card for my mobile phone and found that what would have cost me $40 a few years ago and $9 in September last year now cost only $3. Not surprisingly, mobile phones have spread to a broad section of Afghanistan's 24 million people, with the two major providers, AWCC and Roshan, claiming a total of three million subscribers, up from two million in September last year. Amin Ramin, managing director of AWCC, estimates that his company alone will count two million subscribers by the end of 2007 and three million by the end of 2008.
I spotted similarly hopeful trends in three heavily Pashtun provinces--Nangarhar, Laghman and Khost--in eastern Afghanistan.
But first, it's important to note that to talk about "reconstruction" is the biggest lie in Afghanistan. Before the Soviet invasion in 1979, Afghanistan was long one of the poorest countries in the world and has never had a lot of infrastructure. There are ruins in the country, of course, but 95% of them are in or near Kabul itself. Most of Afghanistan lives much as it always has, subsisting on small-scale farming and trading.
We can do nothing about many of Afghanistan's barriers to development. For starters, 86% of its land area is non-arable. It has also never had a broad distribution of income or land. According to Afghan-Australian historian Amin Saikal, up until the early 1920s when King Amanullah gave crown lands to the poor, only 20% of peasants worked their own properties.
This is why many foreign development experts working in Kabul say privately that if in a couple of decades Afghanistan reaches the level of Bangladesh--which in 2006 had a per capita GDP of about $419 per year, one of the lowest in the world--then they will judge their time in the country a success.
But I am more optimistic. Jalalabad, the largest city of eastern Afghanistan, with 400,000 people, is now just a three-hour drive to Kabul on a good road recently built by the European Union. Another hour's drive brings you to Mehtar Lam, capital of Afghanistan's Laghman province, on another good road funded by USAID.
The U.S. is now planning to start a second provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in Nangarhar Province, and it will be staffed by military reservists who are farmers and ranchers in civilian life. This second PRT will work with local farmers in Nangahar's lush river valley, while also building infrastructure to get crops to market--cold storage facilities and local roads. Air Force Lt. Col. Gordon Phillips, the commander of the existing PRT, says that blacktop roads will link all district centers in the province to the main road to Kabul by the end of this year.
"Every day we open 15 to 20 new accounts," says Maseh Arifi, the 24-year-old manager of the Jalalabad branch of Azizi Bank, one of Afghanistan's two homegrown consumer banks. The branch opened at the end of last August and has 18,000 accounts. Next door, rival Kabul Bank has opened 9,400 accounts totaling $7 million in two years. The 27,000 bank accounts represent about 15% of 660,000 adults of Jalalabad--and doesn't count some of the most prosperous locals, who commute to Peshawar to do their banking. In Nangarhar, AWCC and Roshan together have about 206,000 mobile phone customers, 31% of the adults.
Further south is Khost, a province that received little help from the central government in recent decades. Now construction cranes hover over Khost City, with modern five- and six-story office buildings and shopping centers rising amid grimy two-story concrete bazaars. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently finished building a new university in the city. And this month the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency, an investment-facilitating agency, is inviting 300 overseas Khostis to come discuss building an industrial park.
Both Kabul Bank and Azizi Bank opened their Khost branches in the summer of 2006, and each have about 3,000 accounts. Both branch managers expect their numbers to double this year. The numbers are low because some local residents view even non-interest bearing accounts as un-Islamic. (Competing fatwas have been issued by various mullahs on the topic.) About 65,000 people have mobile phones in the province.
Many of its men emigrated to the UAE and Saudi Arabia and did well for themselves as merchants. As many as 200,000 overseas Khostis (about a million people live in the province) send $6 million to $12 million annually to their families at home. USAID spent just $10 million in the province from 2002-2006.
Culturally, Khost has always been an outward-looking place. It's not an opium-producing province. In the 1970s and '80s it was a stronghold of the Khalq Communist party, as the party provided a vehicle for the Ghilzai Pashtun to challenge leaders from other tribes. The 99% Pashtun population is also about 70% literate, according to Babaker Khil, a member of parliament from Khost.
Khost should really take off when it's linked to Kabul by a blacktop road. Construction of a $70 million, 103-kilometer long Khost-Gardez road is slated to begin next spring (it will be built by USAID) and is supposed to be finished in September 2009. The U.S. Army, which moves at a much faster pace than USAID, expects to link 90% of the population of Khost to the main provincial road by the end of this year.
There have been no conventional attacks on Coalition or Afghan security forces in 2007 so far, but the long border with Pakistan makes suicide bombings and improvised explosive devices (IED) an ongoing threat.
The insurgents are seeking "soft targets" such as civilians. There have been at least 67 IED explosions this year, killing more than two-dozen Afghans and wounding one American. But, encouragingly, 51 IEDs were found and reported by locals before detonating in Khost. Twelve other devices were turned in by locals looking for reward money.
"We've got the wholehearted support of 85%-90% of the population here," Major Timothy Kohn of the 82nd Airborne told me. "The mullahs have put out fatwas against suicide bombers, saying that the victims of these bombings are the martyrs, not the extremists. Thousands of people attended peace rallies in the city."
The most economically backward of the eastern provinces I visited is Laghman. Its 400,000 people eke out a living by working rice paddies and wheat fields along the Alingar and Alishang Rivers. Even the provincial capital, Mehtar Lam, is so small you could miss it driving by. It has only a couple of two-story buildings in the bazaar. Still, an astonishing 77% of Laghman's 176,000 adults have mobile phones--also implying that a good percentage of the women have phones, too.
Nangarhar and Laghman are also known for relatively high levels of education, and in the eastern region overall, UNICEF reports that this year 737,975 children were enrolled in school, up 17,000 from 2006 and six times the figure for 2003.
Laghman is never going to be rich, but Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Ricci, the Mehtar Lam PRT commander, points out that the district of Qarghayi had Afghanistan's highest per-hectare wheat production last year. The new Nangarhar PRT will help the local farmers here, too, while Mr. Ricci's team fixes the roads so that farmers in remote areas can bring their crop to the provincial capital, and from there to Kabul. The PRT is planning to blacktop the dirt road from Mehtar Lam to the most remote district capital, Daulat Shah, 47 kilometers away, at a cost of around $16 million.
Security in Laghman is better than in the frontier provinces, but there is a well-established route for al Qaeda, Taliban and other fighters to cross from Pakistan and make their way north through Laghman. A suicide bombing in April seems to have been a turning point in Laghman. The bomber killed a mullah and several schoolgirls, and according to Mr. Ricci, local residents were so angry that they left the bomber's body parts on the road, refusing him burial. Since then, just nine IEDs have been detonated in Laghman, while 25 were turned in by locals.
Of course, one suicide bombing or IED is one too many, but every society is violent in its own way. The 58 killed by IEDs and suicide bombers in Khost could be compared with the 2006 murders in some American cities with around Khost's one-million population: There were 29 murders in San Jose, 108 in Indianapolis, and 373 in Detroit.
Afghanistan is still a poor rural country with a mainly illiterate population, but it's improving rapidly, and with the exception of Helmand Province and a few bad districts in Uruzgun, Kandahar and Loghar, it's much like any number of developing countries in terms of security. We can't give every country everything they'd like, and it will take decades for the rule of law to be as firmly established here as it is in the West. But we can and are helping the Afghans pull themselves up to the next rung on the development ladder.
Ms. Marlowe is author of "The Book of Trouble" (Harcourt, 2006), a memoir.
Reply #115 on:
August 18, 2007, 09:19:53 AM »
I always find it interesting to get the perspective of Indians on the situation in Afg/Pak. Due to their long history of problems between Pak and them, they tend to be quite informed and thoughtful.
Pakistan Tribal Unrest Intensifies- International Terrorism Monitor- Paper No. 267
By B. Raman.
Anti-Musharraf and anti-US anger continues to run high in the Pashtun tribal areas of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan.
2.The fresh wave of anger, which initially started after the raid of the Pakistani Army commandoes on the Lal Masjid in Islamabad between July 10 and 13,2007, has further intensified after the death of Abdullah Mehsud, a pro-Taliban tribal leader of South Waziristan and a former detenu at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba, at Zhob in Balochistan on July 23,2007 . According to the Pakistan Army, he blew himself up when he was surrounded by the security forces. But, his supporters allege that he was shot dead at point-blank range by the security forces.
3. The intensified anger has not only led to many more clashes between the tribals and the security forces, but also to a boycott of the celebration of Pakistan's 60th Independence Day anniversary in many tribal villages.
4.The "Daily Times" of Lahore reported as follows on August 15,2007: " Many people in the tribal areas marked August 14 as a "black day", in protest at the stepped up military presence in the region near the Pak-Afghan border. Many tribesmen in Khyber Agency and 25 disputed villages adjacent to Mohmand Agency observed the 60th Independence Day by hoisting black flags on their homes. Similarly, tribesmen in South Waziristan, North Waziristan and Bajaur
agencies did not observe Independence Day due to the military's operations in the tribal areas. "For the first time in the country's history, numerous tribesmen did not celebrate Independence Day. There were no selling and buying of national flags and other relevant things in North Waziristan," Haji Gul Noor from Miranshah told Daily Times. "This could be a reaction to military operations and the Taliban may have forbidden tribesmen to celebrate the day," he added."
5.On August 17,2007, seven soldiers and 15 tribals were reportedly killed in clashes in Chackmalai and adjacent areas of North Waziristan. Eleven soldiers were also injured. The clashes occurred when a military convoy came under attack and the security forces retaliated. On August 16,2007, 10 tribals were killed and many injured when Pakistan Army gunship helicopters retaliated after an attack on a military convoy near the same area. In the attack on the convoy, three soldiers were killed and six others injured. On August 14, 2007, the beheaded body of one of the 16 paramilitary Frontier Corps soldiers, kidnapped by militants in the South Waziristan agency a week ago, was found on the Tank-Jandola road. A note left on the body warned that the remaining soldiers would be punished in the same fashion if the tribals' demand for the release of 10 tribal detenus (reportedly Mehsuds) was not met by the Army.
6.Is Pakistan a jihadi volcano waiting to erupt?
7.That is the question which has been worrying the minds of many intelligence analysts, Congressmen and policy-makers in the US.
8.They may differ in their assessment of the ground situation in Iraq.
9.But they are all agreed that the ground situation in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region does not bode well for the success of the so-called war on global jihadi terrorism.
10.Recent testimonies by senior intelligence and military officers and non-governmental analysts before Congressional committees and recent debates among aspirants for the Presidential race next year have revealed a convergence of views on both sides of the political spectrum that there has been a worrisome resurgence of Al Qaeda from new sanctuaries in the Pakistani territory.
11.According to them, its command and control, which was badly disrupted by the post-9/11 US military operations in Afghanistan, has been repaired and revamped. It has set up a new jihadi training infrastructure in the North Waziristan area in replacement of its previous infrastructure in Afghan territory, which was destroyed by the US security forces. New recruits have started flowing in---- Arabs as well as non-Arabs. Recruits from the Pakistani diaspora in the West have been in the forefront of the flow of new non-Arab volunteers.
12.The determination and motivation of Al Qaeda and its mix of leaders of old vintage such as Osama bin Laden and his No.2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the crop of new post-9/11 recruits remain as strong as ever despite the losses in leadership, cadre strength and resources suffered by it in 2002 and 2003.
13.There is an apparent realization----not yet openly expressed---- that Pakistan's President Gen.Pervez Musharraf has not been such a sincere front-line ally in the war against jihadi terrorism as he was projected to be. He made brave statements on his determination to act against jihadi extremists and terrorists, but his actions on the ground belied his statements.
14.He promised action against the madrasas producing terrorists, but refrained from action against them. He was reluctant to act even against the Lal Masjid, which had set up a jihadi GHQ right under his nose in Islamabad. He was forced to act not by US threats, but by Chinese unhappiness over the kidnapping of six Chinese women by the girl students of the Masjid's madrasa for girls, who accused them of loose morals.
15.He claimed to have effectively sealed the Pakistan-Afghanistan border by deploying thousands of extra troops in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to prevent the ingress of the Neo Al Qaeda and Neo Taliban elements from Afghanistan to set up new bases in Pakistani territory. These troops, instead of fighting the terrorists, made peace with them---initially in South Waziristan in 2005 and then in North Waziristan in 2006.
16.He assured the international community that his peace agreements were meant to encourage the local people to rise against the Neo Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban. Instead of doing so, they joined hands with them and helped them set up new training bases in North Waziristan.
17.The realization is slowly dawning on US intelligence analysts and policy-makers that Musharraf is either unable to act or insincere or both.
18.All this has been taking place at a time when Musharraf's authority has been weakening due to his ill-advised confrontation with the judiciary and the lawyers' fraternity, which ended in an embarrassing loss of face for him when the Supreme Court unanimously ordered the reinstatement of the suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury. The public rallies in support of the wronged Chief Justice demonstrated the extent of the growing alienation against the General.
19.Balochistan continues to burn. There is a growing clamour for his discarding the post of the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) to which he continues to cling due to fears that he may not be able to control the Army effectively if he ceased to be the COAS. His uniform gives him the power to intimidate his people and opponents. Once he discards it, he may lose his power of intimidation. So he apprehends.
20.He does not have the confidence that his political supporters in the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam), who are in a majority in the present National Assembly, may be able to retain their majority in the new Assembly to be elected later this year. If his detractors secure a majority, his hopes of continuing as the President for a second term may be belied. Hence, his desperate anxiety to have himself re-elected by the present National Assembly before it is dissolved.
21.The Supreme Court, headed by a Chief Justice who was sought to be humiliated by the General, may come in the way. Nawaz Sharif, the former Prime Minister, has already challenged the various executive orders passed by Musharraf against him. If the Supreme Court upholds Nawaz's petition, it might severely weaken the legal basis of Musharraf's rule.
22.Musharraf has for the present given up the idea of imposing a State of Emergency in order to escape the consequences of his sins of commission and omission. But, he may still use that sword. If he does, there may be violent street protests against him.
23.Public disenchantment on the one side and the spreading Talibanisation and jihadi anger on the other. That is the situation facing Musharraf today. The US is not yet prepared to write him off, but is already considering fall-back options if it has to. Inducting Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister to soften the arbitrary image of Musharraf is unlikely to work. She is not very popular among the Mohajirs, the Balochs and even large sections of the Sindhis, despite her being from Sindh. Large sections of senior Army officers do not feel comfortable with her. Moreover, it is doubtful how effective a woman Prime Minister will be against the jihadis, who would look upon her as apostate.
24.Pakistan is not Iran. An Islamic revolution of the Iranian model of 1979 is unlikely. But its FATA and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) are no different from Afghanistan. The Pashtun tribes, who inhabit these areas, are strongly anti-US and anti-Musharraf. The 9/11 terrorist strikes came from the Pashtun areas of Southern and Eastern Afghanistan. If there is a repeat of 9/11, it would have originated in the Pashtun areas of Pakistan.
25.The anger against both Musharraf and the US is so intense in the Pashtun belt on both sides of the Durand Line that no precise human intelligence has been forthcoming from the people of the area. The communications security of the Neo Al Qaeda is so strong that the available technical intelligence is weak. Despite nearly four years of its operations, the US' intelligence agencies have not been able to establish wherefrom As-Sahab, the Neo Al Qaeda's Psychological Warfare unit, has been operating and silence it.
26.The US is thus in a dilemma. It is not in a position to act on its own due to inadequate intelligence. Nor is it in a position to depend on Musharraf due to his insincerity and ineffectiveness.
27.This dilemma is likely to continue for some time till the capability of the US for the collection of precise intelligence improves. Fears of instability in Pakistan due to political factors and insecurity due to the uncontrolled activities of the Neo Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban would continue to confront the US policy-makers. Their bold statements of their intention to act are just whistling in the dark in the absence of precise intelligence.
28.There is no end in sight to the US military operations against the Neo Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban even almost six years after the operations started. This is nothing to be surprised about. Victory in the war is not for tomorrow or the day after. There is no doubt that the US will one day ultimately prevail over the jihadi terrorists. It has to in order to protect its homeland. But that day is still far off.
29.The time has come for the US to have a revamped policy on Pakistan and to make it clear to Musharraf that the days of lollipops are over. That is what the recently passed Congressional Resolution seeking to tie future military and economic assistance to his actions against the jihadis does. This is a good beginning. This has to be followed by pressing him to hold free and fair elections and seek a new mandate from a new Assembly and not from the present one in which his followers have an engineered majority. The lollipops should be withheld if he does not do so.
30.India cannot remain unaffected by these developments. Some of the associates of Al Qaeda in the International Islamic Front (IIF) such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) are active in India for many years. The developing Indian relations with the US and the increasing US presence in India are a cause for provocation for Al Qaeda. Its intention to target India is already being reflected increasingly in the statements of its leaders. Al Qaeda as an Arab terrorist organization has not yet carried out a terrorist strike in Indian territory. But it is wanting to do so. India should take Al Qaeda's threats seriously and avoid an Al Qaeda orchestrated Pearl Harbour in its territory.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail:
Reply #116 on:
August 26, 2007, 01:06:08 PM »
Scores of Pak soldiers desert forces
26 Aug 2007, 0255 hrs IST,AGENCIES
ISLAMABAD: Scores of Pakistani soldiers have deserted the security forces deployed in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, mainly because they were not sure whether fighting against their 'own people' was morally right, media reports said on Saturday.
"I did not desert the force because I feared death, but I was not sure whether the fighting in tribal district Waziristan was Islamic or not," a soldier from paramilitary Frontier Corps told the Daily Times.
The man, who recently refused to serve in tribal areas, claimed the same question was haunting many other soldiers and the confusion was stopping them from "putting up a tough fight" against the Taliban and Al-Qaida elements in the area. Pro-Taliban militiamen pulled out of peace treaties with the government after troops stormed the Lal Masjid in the capital on July 10, and launched a series of raids on security forces.
He confirmed the desertions but insisted these should be ignored as "insignificant incidentsâ€?. "Small-scale desertion takes place in any force and in any country for one reason or another," Arshad told the newspaper.
However, six soldiers from only one suburb of Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province, have deserted the Frontier Corps. The force is the first line of defence of around 90,000 troops deployed along the countryâ€™s western border against militants launching attacks at international forces in Afghanistan.
Pakistan is setting in process a plan to withdraw its army from the restive tribal areas and replace them with paramilitary forces, a news report has said.
President Pervez Musharraf told a group of parliamentarians from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas that army would be withdrawn from tribal areas after January 2008, the same newspaper reported.
"Paramilitary forces including Frontier Constabulary, Levies and Khasadars will take over the charge of tribal areas from the military, which would be withdrawn after January 2008,"sources quoted the Musharraf as saying.
Convert or Die
Reply #117 on:
August 28, 2007, 10:10:21 AM »
From a website that IMHO hyperventilates on occasion, but here it is:
'Convert or die,' Christians told
Muslims flood neighborhoods with threats
Posted: August 23, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
Christian residents of several neighborhoods in northern Pakistan have been sent letters "inviting" them to abandon Christianity and join Islam – or be killed, according to a new report from Voice of the Martyrs, the ministry to persecuted Christians around the world.
"There have been numerous threats sent to Peshawar's Kohati area," sources for VOM reported this week. "The letters say if we don't become Muslim we will be killed."
The unsigned threats began several weeks ago, when residents of Peshawar, the capital of the North-West Frontier Province, reported receiving the letters threatening suicide bombings if they did not convert.
(Story continues below)
The letters went to Christian residents of the Tailgodom, Sandagodom and Goalgodom neighborhoods, according to a report from Assist News Service.
"These letters sent a wave of fear and uncertainty among the Christian residents of these … areas," Kamran George, a Peshawar government member, told the news service.
Each of the districts houses an estimated 2,000 Christians.
"Through this open letter you are openly invited to convert to Islam and quit Christianity, the religion of infidels," the letter said. Readers could "ensure your place in heaven" by adopting Islam.
"We will wipe out your slum on next Friday, August, 10th, 2007. And you, yourself would be responsible for the destruction of your men and material. Get ready! This is not a mere threat, our suicide bombers are ready to wipe out your name and signs from the face of earth. Consider it be the Knock of Death," it said.
Although that deadline has passed, Christians still fear the threat, a government official told Assist. He noted that a man dressed in Pakistan's national dress managed to get inside a recent meeting at St. John Catholic Church in Peshawar, but fled immediately when he saw police.
George said the threats were prompted by the suggestion from U.S. presidential candidate Tom Tancredo that the U.S. threaten to bomb Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina in retaliation if there would be a terrorist nuclear attack on the United States.
"We would be pleased to send those to Hell who dared casting malicious eye on Khana Kaba (Mecca, Saudi Arabia) and Prophet's Mosque (Medina, Saudi Arabia). There is death here (in Pakistan) for the agents and followers of the religion of Americans (Christians)," said the letter, written in Urdu, Pakiston's national language, Assist reported.
"We would wipe out the Churches from the face of the earth because our mosques, seminaries and children are being martyred on the directions of United States. We would write a new history with the blood of Infidels. Our suicide bombers, lovers of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) are ready to strike churches, to protect the sanctity of Mecca and Medina, and pride of Islam.
"These suicide bombers would strike at any time or day. It is our first and foremost Jihad (Islamic Holy war) to assassinate and eradicate the infidels from the face of earth," the letter said.
Additional police have been assigned in the region, the same area where a surge of violence followed the recent occupation and storming of the nation's Red Mosque. There, as WND reported, radical leaders faced off against Pakistani forces and said the 1,800 children in the compound had taken oaths on the Quran to fight to the death.
Followers of Abdul Rashid Ghazi, leader of the pro-Taliban mosque, staged the standoff after a crackdown was launched on the mosque for a months-long campaign to expand Islamic religious law.
A minority member of Pakistan's parliament, Pervaiz Masih, even raised the issue of the threats in the legislature's National Assembly, reading the letter to lawmakers and calling on the government to note the insecurity it had created.
The Voice of the Martyrs cited a list of other attacks on Christians in Pakistan in recent weeks that also have raised concerns.
For example, the organization reported that Muslims had confessed and apologized for attacking a church in the Punjab region, but have to this point offered no compensation for injuring Christians and damaging their building.
Reports confirmed seven Christians were hurt and Christian literature was destroyed at a Salvation Army church north of Faisalabad in the attack, and attackers admitted they had planned to burn a page of the Quran – which can bring a life prison sentence in Pakistan – and then blame the Christians of the community.
The attack happened just as Christians were assembling for a worship meeting, and several victims were hit with axes. Bibles and hymn books also were destroyed.
Just weeks earlier, a formal court session in Lahore also sentenced a Pakistani Christian to death for blasphemy. Authorities said Younis Masih, a Christian from Chungi Amar Sadu in Lahore, was accused of blasphemy of the Prophet Muhammad.
Although no one has yet been executed by the state for blasphemy, several have been murdered by extremists.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide says Pakistan's blasphemy laws are regularly misused as a means of settling scores or targeting religious minorities.
The blasphemy laws require only an accusation by one man against another for a case to be filed. In almost all cases the charges are entirely fabricated. Masih was outspoken against incidents of rape committed against Christian girls, and is a Christian himself. It is believed these were the reasons he was accused of blasphemy, according to reports.
VOM is a non-profit, interdenominational ministry working worldwide to help Christians who are persecuted for their faith, and to educate the world about that persecution. Its headquarters are in Bartlesville, Okla., and it has 30 affiliated international offices.
It was launched by the late Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, who started smuggling Russian Gospels into Russia in 1947, just months before Richard was abducted and imprisoned in Romania where he was tortured for his refusal to recant Christianity.
He eventually was released in 1964 and the next year he testified about the persecution of Christians before the U.S. Senate's Internal Security Subcommittee, stripping to the waist to show the deep torture wound scars on his body. The group that later was renamed The Voice of the Martyrs was organized in 1967, when his book, "Tortured for Christ," was released.
Reply #118 on:
August 31, 2007, 07:44:30 PM »
It no longer is a matter of if, but of when Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf will leave the helm in Islamabad. The judiciary and the man he ousted from power, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, are threatening to throw a monkey wrench into his evasive maneuvers. The issue, however, now turns from the day-to-day drama of internal Pakistani politics to the much deeper issue of whether Musharraf's fall from grace will be paralleled by that of the Pakistani military as a whole.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced Aug. 30 that he will return to Pakistan from forced exile Sept. 10. The same day, another exiled former leader, Benazir Bhutto, announced breakthroughs in negotiations with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf that would ease the general out of power. Meanwhile, the country's Supreme Court began proceedings on petitions challenging on constitutional grounds Musharraf's bid to seek re-election.
Stratfor forecast months ago that Musharraf would have to concede his position as military chief if he intended to stay on as a civilian president, and that he would have no choice but to work out a political agreement with Pakistan's opposition parties, specifically Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party. Prompted by advice from his closest aides, Musharraf is now quietly working toward securing an honorable exit from the scene. He could be forced to throw in the towel sometime after the appointment of a successor military chief on or around Oct. 8.
Once Musharraf vacates the presidency, events will pretty much unfold as per the constitution -- the way they did when the death in 1988 of Pakistan's last military dictator, Gen. Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, created a power vacuum. A caretaker government headed by an acting president and an interim premier will be charged with holding fresh legislative elections, which will likely produce a highly divided parliament resulting in a coalition government.
Beyond the change in political personalities and groups, a far more important shift will take place in Pakistan in the coming months. For the first time since the army took control of the state in 1958 under Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the military's grip on the reins of the state is in the process of weakening.
This did not happen even when Pakistan's second military dictator, Gen. Yahya Khan, stepped down in 1971 after civil war led to the secession of a major chunk of the country and the surrender of some 100,000 troops to Indian forces. Neither did it happen when Zia-ul-Haq and his top generals died in a mysterious plane crash, ending his 11-year stint. In both cases, the military merely went into the background for some years -- only to return when the politicians could not agree to disagree. Even when the army was not directly ruling, the civilian leaders had to look over their shoulders continuously to see whether the generals were still with them nearly each step of the way.
That was in the past, however, when there were essentially two players in Pakistan -- the army and the political parties. Today, a vibrant civil society and increasingly independent and assertive judiciary have emerged within the country.
The empowerment of Pakistan's civil society was catalyzed by Musharraf's ill-fated decision to sack Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry in March. Chaudhry, breaking with tradition, would not fold, which set in motion a series of events that, within a matter of days, energized bar associations across the country. In turn, this emboldened the judiciary to assert its independence and challenge the military's hold on power.
The Supreme Court already has asserted its power, reversing a number of the Musharraf regime's decisions. The court reinstated the chief justice, released a top Musharraf opponent who was jailed on charges of treason and ensured Sharif's right of return. The judiciary also has taken steps to limit interference by the military and the intelligence agencies in matters of governance.
Meanwhile, the country's media, particularly the private television news channels, also have emerged as a powerful driver of events. In the wake of the judicial crisis, Musharraf tried June 4 to place restrictions on the electronic media through new ordinances empowering the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to block transmissions, suspend licenses and confiscate equipment of electronic media organizations deemed in violation of the new laws. But five days later, under intense domestic and international pressure, he was forced to withdraw the controversial restrictions.
Pakistan also has witnessed an unprecedented surge in civil society activism. Instead of the political parties that historically have led protests, civil society groups -- especially the legal syndicates -- drove the protests during the legal crisis. There also has been an unprecedented outbreak of social debate on national issues, not only regarding the military's role in politics but also on the issue of rule of law. This debate has included criticism of men in uniform, as well as politicians.
All of this has been made possible by several structural changes that took shape mostly during the first seven years of Musharraf's rule. In order to counter the perception that he was a military dictator, Musharraf created a hybrid political system with a significant civilian component. Despite having manipulated the constitution on a number of occasions, he relied heavily on it to strengthen his grip on authority. In the process, he inadvertently strengthened the country's constitutional roots, which is now weakening the very power he consolidated.
Even within the military, Musharraf's repeated reshuffling of positions has contributed to his own undoing. It has brought to the fore a junior crop of generals that is inexperienced in politics and government. For a long time, this worked to his advantage by preventing any of his subordinates from rising up to challenge him. Now, however, as he faces challenges from Pakistan's civilian sectors, his top generals are unable and/or unwilling to support him.
In essence, the law of unintended consequences has worked against Musharraf. Moreover, it has weakened the military's ability to dominate the state. For now, this is limited to the political sphere. Eventually, the judicial branch can be expected to empower the legislative branch by forcing the military and the intelligence community to open up their books to parliamentary scrutiny. The weakening of the military's hold over the country's economic sector will be the next stage in the ongoing systemic change.
The question moving forward is: How far will the military's grip slacken before arrestors force the generals to take a firmer role? For now, the trend is running against the military -- and historical positions are being reversed. As the civilians entrench their power, it is the military -- not the civilian politicians -- that will mostly have to contend with limitations imposed by the judiciary. And civil society will serve as the watchdog.
And yet, there are plenty of issues that have the potential to topple this emerging civilian structure, such as the ability of Sharif and Bhutto to get along with one another and cooperate in order to check the military's power; the Islamists' level of power in the political system; the level of security in the country's Northwest; the status of the war on terrorism; the amount of pressure from the United States; and, of course, how India reacts to the changing political dynamic in Islamabad.
Any of these issues could lead to the military's return. Pakistan might be moving into the hands of civilians, but half a century of political culture does not die easily.
Reply #119 on:
September 03, 2007, 09:04:26 PM »
Note whom the author is:
US PARADROP FOR A NEOBENAZIR
By B. Raman
The much talked about US plans for a political paradrop of a neo Benazir Bhutto into Pakistan in the hope of providing the badly-needed oxygen to President General Pervez Musharraf and saving the country from Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and an assortment of other pro-Al Qaeda and anti-US jihadi terrorist groups is likely to create a third mess in a row for the US after the earlier two in Afghanistan and Iraq.
2. All the reports from a variety of sources in Pakistan are clear on one point---- there is widespread anti-Americanism in the general public. This is not confined to the fundamentalist and jihadi parties. It is widely shared right across the country.
3. One of the reasons for the growing unpopularity of Musharraf is the public perception of him as a collaborator of the US in its so-called war against jihadi terrorism, which is viewed as a war against Islam. Outside the tribal areas, the Pakistani people are by and large moderate. They are unhappy over the role of the fundamentalists and the jihadis in hampering the modernisation of the country and in retarding its economic development. But they are equally unhappy over the perceived role of the US in influencing, if not dictating, not only the foreign, but also the domestic policy of the country.
4. Any leader---whether it be the Neo Benazir or anyone else--- who seeks to regain power with the support of the US with promises to co-operate with the US more effectively than at present in the so-called war against jihadi terrorism is unlikely to have much credibility in the eyes of the people.
5. Moreover, anyone even with rudimentary knowledge of Pakistan would know that Benazir, like Musharraf, is an opportunist par excellence. Both have broken more promises than kept them in the past. Both have betrayed more political allies than stood by them. Look at the way the Neo Benazir let down Mr.Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League (PML) in her anxiety to come to power. Look at the way Musharraf is apparently prepared to ditch the PML (Qaide Azam), whose formation was engineered by him in 2002 in order to have himself elected as the President, in order to get her support for his re-election.
6. Benazir and Musharraf were birds of the same feather in the past. Remember how she, as the Prime Minister in her first term (1988-90) asked the Inter-Services Intelligence to start terrorism in India's Jammu and Kashmir in 1989? She, Maj.Gen.Naseerullah Babar, her Interior Minister during her second term (1993-96), and Musharraf, then the Director-General of Military Operations (DMO), were the joint creators of the Taliban and facilitated its capture of Kabul in September, 1996.It was she, who allowed Osama bin Laden, to shift from Khartoum to Jalalabad in 1996, thereby paving the way for the creation of Al Qaeda's infrastructure in Afghan territory. She was as responsible as Musharraf for the rogue activities of Dr.A.Q.Khan and other nuclear scientists. Pakistan's clandestine nuclear co-operation with Iran and Libya, started under Zia-ul-Haq, made headway under her and its clandestine nuclear and missile co-operation with North Korea started during her second tenure .
7. Musharraf has not kept up his promises to co-operate sincerely with the US in neutralising Al Qaeda activities from Pakistani territory.He has avoided action against the operations of the Neo Taliban in Afghan territory from its sanctuaries in Pakistani territory. Not having learnt any lessons from its pathetic faith in Musharraf, which has not produced results, the US is banking on Benazir's promise of strong action against the extremists and terrorists if the US supports her return to power. It seems to believe that Musharraf and Benazir acting together could save Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal from falling into the hands of the jihadi terrorists.
8. To expect that two opportunists such as Musharraf and Benazir, known for their insincerity, would now mend their ways and work jointly against terrorists is to live in a fools' paradise. Musharraf wants desperately to continue in power to save himself from ignominy. He believes, rightly or wrongly, that he would need the support of the US for this. She wants desperately to return to power, to have the corruption cases against her closed and to let her husband Asif Zirdari make more money as if the millions, if not billions, made by him during her first two tenures are not adequate.She feels she can do so only with US support.
9. Sections of the US media have quoted US officials as justifying the proposed Musharraf-Benazir patch-up as the best of the bad options available. So they said, when they gave unqualified backing to Musharraf post 9/11. So they are saying now.
10. US calculations of political stability in Pakistan under such a patch-up may be belied. Benazir of today is not the Benazir of 1988. She came to power in 1988 through her own efforts with the support of the people of Sindh and southern and central Punjab. The voters rejected the PML of Nawaz Sharif, which they saw as the creation of the Army and the ISI. She made a deal with the US after winning the elections in order to make the Army drop its objections to her becoming the Prime Minister.
11. Today, the Neo Benazir, who denounced Nawaz and his PML in 1988 as the stooges of the Army and the ISI, is seeking the benediction of the US even before winning the elections and the support of Musharraf and his Army for her return to power and the closing of the corruption cases against her and her husband.
12.Even if the US-engineered patch-up ultimately materialises and she returns to contest the elections, the victory of her party will be uncertain. The elections will be seen as between the collaborators of the Army and the US on the one side and their opponents on the other. The opponents will have a decided advantage in view of the prevailing anti-Army and anti-US atmosphere. Moreover, she and her party could face difficulties even in Sindh in view of the expected strong showing of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) of Mr.Altaf Hussain.
13. Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal need to be protected from the hands of Al Qaeda and other jihadi terrorists. Nobody can find fault with the over-all US objective, but it has been going about it in the wrong way. It should have allowed genuine democracy to take its own course, even at the risk of political forces not well disposed towards the US coming to power. Instead, by giving the impression of taking sides even before the elections and by making its ill-advised preferences known before the elections, it has given rise to the strong possibility of more instability, not less, more terrorism, not less.Even if Benazir comes to power in an election rigged by the Army,she will be seen as Pakistan's Hamid Karzai, who came to power not by the will of the people, but by riding on the shoulders of the US.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail:email@example.com)
Reply #120 on:
September 11, 2007, 11:35:27 AM »
September 11, 2007
Nawaz Sharif's triumphant return to Pakistan ended with a fizzle yesterday. Only a few hours after landing in Islamabad, the former Prime Minister was shuttled into a waiting aircraft and shipped back to Saudi Arabia. But that doesn't mean Pakistan's troubles are over; if anything, the domestic political environment may now get more complicated.
First it's important to remember that Mr. Sharif, like former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, isn't a democrat-in-waiting. Under his leadership in the 1990s, corruption in Pakistan flourished, the military was strengthened and the judiciary weakened. So even if Mr. Sharif had been allowed to return to Pakistan yesterday, as the Supreme Court had ordered, his presence was unlikely to have promoted the speedy return of democracy.
But by not allowing Mr. Sharif into the country, President Pervez Musharraf has set himself up for another possible confrontation with the courts that he can ill afford. Mr. Sharif's supporters have already shown themselves to be prone to violence; police fired teargas at a rowdy group outside the airport yesterday. They're not likely to be mollified by a government explanation of why Mr. Sharif "agreed" to go back to Saudi Arabia, where he's been living in exile since 2000.
All of which points to Mr. Musharraf's deepening dilemma: For a man reluctant to give up power, he's under increasing pressure both at home and abroad to move democracy forward. How he does that will determine the internal stability of this volatile nuclear state.
Mr. Musharraf's choices are quickly narrowing. He can either declare martial law or move toward an alliance with Ms. Bhutto. But the longer he waits, the harder it will be for Ms. Bhutto to rally her base around such a deal. Mr. Sharif may be out of the picture for now. But the repercussions of his round trip are just beginning.
Reply #121 on:
September 15, 2007, 09:01:35 AM »
The Times of India -Breaking news, views. reviews, cricket from across India
Musharraf set to do a Lalu on Pakistan
15 Sep 2007, 0000 hrs IST, Chidanand Rajghatta,TNN
SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates
WASHINGTON: Lalu Prasad Yadav's wild popularity in Pakistan is the stuff of political lore, but Pakistanis might not have bargained for the Bihari leader's buccaneering brand of proxy politics at home.
Military ruler Pervez Musharraf is all set to do a Lalu on the hapless nation, foisting his wife Sehba as a proxy presidential candidate to get around the constitutional and judicial hurdles he faces.
Under a formula hammered out under Uncle Sam's watchful eyes, Sehba Musharraf will be a cover candidate for Musharraf in the upcoming Presidential poll, with or without Benazir Bhutto running for Prime Minister.
The military government will also allow exiled prime minister Nawaz Sharief's wife Kulsoom Nawaz to return to Pakistan and run for election if she wishes maintaining that she is not bound by the exile arrangement that has kept her husband and his brother out of the country.
That would give the exercise a modicum of respectability, while promoting the image of Pakistan as a moderate Islamic society that allows women a role in the affairs of the state.
It will also mean Pakistan emulating Bangladesh, where two women -- Begum Hasina Sheikh and Begum Khaleda Zia -- have been locked in a familial power struggle for more than a decade.
The family project -- which will come into effect only if Musharraf himself is unable to get elected --has the imprimatur of the U.S which wants a firm handle on what is now acknowledged as the world's most dangerous and unstable state without having to deal with the uncertainties of democracy.
While Musharraf will continue to be the power behind the Sehba-Benazir dispensation which is in the offing, the power behind Musharraf will be the United States, which incidentally is home to Musharraf's son Bilal, who recently graduated from Stanford, and his brother Naveed, who lives in Chicago.
The mastermind of this Made-in-USA arrangement is said to be former intelligence czar and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who is credited with managing delicate regime changes in Latin America.
Negroponte and his state department colleague, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, were very much in the picture in Islamabad when the Musharraf regime forcibly deported Nawaz Sharief with help from Bush ally, the House of Saud, in contravention of a Supreme Court ruling.
Washington has repeatedly winked at Musharraf's political, constitutional and judicial transgressions, describing them as Pakistan internal matter, while paying lip service to democracy and free elections.
In effect, while Musharraf does a Lalu on his country, Negroponte is doing a Honduras on Pakistan.
As the US ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985, Negroponte propped up a military government led by Policarpo Paz García as a bulwark against the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua, which had close ties to both Cuba and the Soviet Union.
Political crackdowns and human rights exercise by the Garcia regime reported in the U.S media and observed by American lawmakers and activists were glossed over in Washington's ''larger'' interests, an argument that is being advanced in the Pakistan's case too vis-a-vis the war on terror.
Reply #122 on:
September 16, 2007, 01:37:35 PM »
Pakistan's newest threat: Army officer turns suicide bomber
B Raman | September 14, 2007 | 12:17 IST
According to reliable sources in the local police, a Pashtun army officer belonging to the elite Special Services Group, whose younger sister was reportedly among the 300 girls killed during the Pakistan Army's commando raid on the Lal Masjid in Islamabad between July 10 and 13, blew himself up during dinner at the SSG's headquarters mess at Tarbela Ghazi, 100 km south of Islamabad, on the night of September 13, killing 19 other officers.
The incident coincided with United States Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte's visit to Kabul and Islamabad for talks with leaders and officials of the two governments.
According to the same sources, the Pashtun army officer belonged to South Waziristan, but Tarbela Ghazi is not located in the tribal belt. The SSG, to which General Pervez Musharraf belonged, was specially trained by the US Special Forces for covert operations and for counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency duties.
The usually well-informed News of Pakistan reported as follows on September 14: 'The area where the incident occurred is the headquarters of the Special Services Group also known as SSG and Special Operation Task Force of the Pakistan Army. Sources said the blast was so powerful that it destroyed the Officers Mess. There are also reports that a company known as Karar of the SSG based in the area had taken part in the operation on Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa in Islamabad where hundreds of religious students, including religious school administrator, Maulana Abdur Rashid Ghazi, were killed. ...There were rumours that CIA personnel were also present in the area where the blast occurred.'
According to the police sources, a training team of the Central Intelligence Agency and a team of technical intelligence personnel of the US National Security Agency were also stationed at Tarbela Ghazi. The NSA personnel were reportedly running a monitoring station to intercept communications of Al Qaeda and the neo-Taliban.
While there are no reports of any American casualties, there have been rumours that the NSA's monitoring station was badly damaged. It is not clear whether it was damaged by the impact of the explosion inside the officers' mess or by a separate explosion.
Pakistani army sources initially projected the incident as due to the explosion of a cooking gas cylinder. Subsequently, they said it was caused by a remote-controlled improvised explosive device and then that it was caused by an unidentified suicide bomber, who drove a vehicle filled with explosives into the mess at dinner time.
They have not so far admitted that it was actually caused by a Pashtun officer of the SSG itself and not an outsider. No other details are available so far.
The daring attack came two days after another attack of suicide terrorism in which at least 17 people, including three security forces personnel, were killed and 16 others injured when a 15-year-old Mehsud suicide bomber blew himself up in a passenger van at Bannu Adda in Dera Ismail Khan district of the North-West Frontier Province on September 11.
The Pakistan army has not been able to re-establish its writ over South and North Waziristan, where the Mehsuds and the Uzbeks supporting them have been holding in custody 240 members of the security forces captured by them and have been repeatedly attacking posts of the army and the Frontier Corps. Repeated use of helicopter gunships by the army has not had any impact on the various sub-tribes of Pashtuns, who have been attacking the security forces almost daily.
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Reply #123 on:
September 20, 2007, 05:05:13 PM »
So, should our "friend" Mushy buy green bananas?
Reply #124 on:
September 20, 2007, 05:52:35 PM »
Bin Laden "Come to Jihad" Pakistan Message Transcript
By Jeffrey Imm
From Laura Mansfield - complete transcript of Osama Bin Laden September 20, 2007 message "Come to Jihad"
Image from Laura Mansfield
Complete message video link - from Laura Mansfield
CTB Analysis posting - September 20, 2007
"Come to Jihad: A Speech to the People of Pakistan
Shaykh Usama bin Ladin
(May Allah protect him)
September 2007/Ramadan 1428"
"All praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His aid and forgiveness, and we seek refuge in Allah from the evil in ourselves and from our bad deeds. He whom Allah guides cannot be led astray, and he who is led astray cannot be guided. I bear witness that there is no God other than Allah alone, without partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger."
"As for what comes after:"
"To my Muslim brothers in Pakistan:"
"Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah and His blessings.
"Allah, the Most High, says, 'O Prophet! Strive hard against the disbelievers and the Hypocrites, and be harsh against them. Their abode is Hell, and an evil destination it is.' (9:73) And the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, says, 'There is no one who abandons a Muslim in a place where his honor is violated and his sanctity is infringed upon except that Allah, the Most High, abandons him in a place in which he would like His aid. And there is no one who aids a Muslim in a place where his honor is violated and his sanctity is infringed upon except that Allah aids him in a place in which he would like His aid.' (Narrated by Ahmad)"
"Pervez's invasion of Lal Masjid in the City of Islam, Islamabad, is a sad event, like the crime of the Hindus in their invasion and destruction of the Babari Masjid. And this event has crucial and critical connotations, most important of which are:"
"First, this event demonstrated Musharraf's insistence on continuing his loyalty, submissiveness and aid to America against the Muslims, and this is one of the ten nullifiers of Islam, as the people of knowledge have determined, and makes armed rebellion against him and removing him obligatory. Allah, the Most High, says, 'O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guides not a people unjust.' (5:51) And His statement 'And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them' means that he is of them in Kufr (unbelief), as the people of Tafseer (explanation) have said. This ruling was the one given and confirmed by Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, may Allah have mercy on him, in his famous Fatwa following the raids on New York, and among the things which he said: 'If any ruler of an Islamic state provides aid to an infidel state in its aggression against the Islamic states, it is the legal obligation of the Muslims to remove him from power and consider him to be legally a traitor to Islam and Muslims.' People of Islam in Pakistan: Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, may Allah have mercy on him, discharged a great duty which was upon him, and declared the word of truth and didn't care about the anger of the creation. He endangered himself and his wealth and made clear the ruling of Allah regarding Pervez: that he is a traitor to Islam and Muslims and must be removed. This Fatwa enraged Pervez and enraged his masters in America, and it is my opinion that the murder of the Mufti - may Allah have mercy on him - was at their hands. And Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai died without having replaced the word of truth with falsehood, in contrast to what many of the 'Ulama of vice do. And the obligation on us remains, and we have been extremely late in carrying it out, six years having passed, so we should make up for lost time. May Allah forgive me as well as you."
"Second, the government's showing of Maulana Abd al-Aziz Ghazi in women's clothing in the media is clear evidence of the extent of the great hostility, hatred and contempt held by Pervez and his government towards Islam and its sincere 'Ulama, and that is greater Kufr which takes one out of Islam. Allah, the Most High, says, "And if you question them, they will most surely say, 'We were only talking idly and jesting.' Say, 'Was it Allah and His Signs and His Messenger which you were mocking?' Make no excuses. You have certainly disbelieved after believing. If We forgive a party from among you, a party We shall punish, for they are criminals." (9:65-66) And read, if you wish, the Tafseer of Ibn Katheer - may Allah have mercy on him - regarding this Ayat."
"Third, in such events, the people are tested and the friends of the Most Merciful are separated from the friends of Satan. The 'Ulama who are from the friends of the Most Merciful declare the truth, and if they are unable or are weak, they observe silence and don't help falsehood with their words or actions. As for the friends of Satan, they are led by Pakistani military intelligence to speak falsehood and help its people. Some of them deem it obligatory to unite with Pervez and his army, while others deem as Haraam martyrdom-seeking fedayee operations against the soldiers of the Taghut (idol-king), while still others assail the Mujahideen, slandering and defaming them. And this is the way of the Munafiqeen (Hypocrites). Allah, the Most High, says, "They are stingy [in helping] you. And when danger comes, you see them looking towards you, their eyes rolling like one fainting as death approaches. But when the fear has passed away, they assail you with sharp tongues, being stingy with good deeds. Those have never believed, so Allah has rendered their works null and void. And that is easy for Allah." (33:19)"
"So everyone who refrained from helping the Imam Maulana Abd al-Rashid Ghazi is from the sitters, whereas those who attacked him to help Pervez, claiming that Islam isn't established through fighting and calling fighting in the path of Allah "terrorism" - in the context of invective - and saying that the way is through peaceful demonstrations and democratic methods are from those who have gone astray and followed the path of the Munafiqeen."
"Nearly two decades ago, the soil of Pakistan saw and was watered by the blood of a great Imam of the Imams of Islam - i.e. the Mujahid champion Imam Abdullah Azzam, may Allah have mercy on him - and today, we have seen another great Imam, not at the level of Pakistan alone, but at the level of the entire Islamic Ummah: i.e. the Imam Maulana Abd al-Rashid Ghazi, may Allah have mercy on him. He, his brothers, his students and the female students of Jami'ah Hafsa demanded the application of the Shari'ah of Islam, as the reason for our creation is that we worship Allah the Most High through His religion, al-Islam, and they were killed because of this great objective. Allah, the Most High, says, "And I have not created jinn and men but that they may worship Me." (51:56) They sacrificed the great thing they owned: they sacrificed themselves for their religion. I ask Allah to accept them among the martyrs. They were killed treacherously and treasonously at the hands of the apostate infidel Pervez and his aides. The purpose of the army - or so they say - is to protect the Muslims against the Kuffaar, but now we see the armies becoming tools and weapons in the hands of the Kuffaar against the Muslims. Pervez threw away the cause of Kashmir and restrained those fighting to liberate it, in accordance with the wishes of the Hindus and Nazarenes. Then he opened his bases and airports to America for invading the Muslims in Afghanistan, and as you've seen before, the army attacked the people of Swat who also demanded the rule of Shari'ah, and attacked the people of Waziristan, in addition to betraying and extraditing hundreds of Arab Mujahideen from the grandsons of the Sahabah (Companions), with whom Allah was pleased, to the head of Kufr, America. So Pervez, his ministers, his soldiers and those who help him are all accomplices in the spilling the blood of those of the Muslims who have been killed. He who helps him knowingly and willingly is an infidel like him, and as for he who helps him knowingly and under compulsion, his compulsion isn't legally valid, as the soul of the one forced to kill isn't better than the soul of the one killed, and the Messenger of Allah - peace and blessings of Allah be upon him - said, "Were all the inhabitants of the heavens and earth to participate in the spilling of a believer's blood, Allah - the Great and Glorious - would throw them into the Fire." So I tell the soldiers who perform the Salaat (prayer) in the military organs: you must resign from your jobs and enter anew into Islam and disassociate yourself from Pervez and his Shirk (polytheism)."
"Some of the Munafiqeen among the 'Ulama of vice and others may say that Islam orders us to stay together and the people to unite with the army and government to stand in the face of the enemies and avoid Fitnah (strife). I say: the one who says this is creating lies about Allah. The government and army have become enemies of the Ummah, after becoming a weapon in the hands of the Kuffaar against the Muslims. And they refuse to rule by the religion of Islam in all of life's affairs, like politics, economy, social life and other matters. Allah has ordered these and their like to be fought, not to be united with and hung onto, as those hypocrites claim. Allah, the Most High, says, "And fight them until there is no Fitnah [polytheism], and religion is wholly for Allah." (8:39) So if some of the religion is for Allah and some of it is for other than Allah, fighting is obligatory to make the religion entirely for Allah, the Most High."
"By the grace of Allah, the Most High, we performed Jihad with the Afghan Mujahideen against the Russians, and the Afghan army was a weapon in their hands against us. They would pray and fast, but despite that, the senior 'Ulama of the Islamic world, including the 'Ulama of Pakistan, ruled that they are to be fought. And after the exit of the Russians, the 'Ulama of Pakistan also supported Taliban against the Northern Alliance, although they also pray and fast. So is there any difference between Pervez and his soldiers and Ahmad Shah Massoud, Rabbani and Sayyaf and their soldiers? There is no difference at all. All of them have pledged to the Crusaders to fight true Islam and its people, and those who say it is forbidden to fight Pervez and his soldiers and exclude him from the general ruling have an illness in their hearts: they prefer this life to the next. Allah, the Most High, says, "Are your unbelievers better than those or have you an immunity [from punishment] in the sacred books?" (54:43)"
Reply #125 on:
September 20, 2007, 05:53:25 PM »
"I tell Pervez and his army: your betrayal of your nation and people has been exposed, and the people are no longer fooled by your showing off militarily by launching some missiles after every disaster and massacre you commit against the populace, as has occurred repeatedly in the border regions, or after the biggest massacre in Lal Masjid most recently. How is the nation benefited by these weapons and tests of yours? The same goes for the nuclear bomb itself. When the American foreign minister Powell came to you, you cowered, bowed and submitted to him like a lowly slave, and you permitted the American Crusader forces to use the air, soil and water of Pakistan, the country of Islam, to kill the people of Islam in Afghanistan, then in Waziristan. So woe to you and away with you."
"Against the peoples attacking lions"
"And against the enemy rabbits and ostriches?"
"And your going to Makkah and performing the Tawaaf (circling) of the Ka'aba won't benefit you when combined with Kufr and combating of Islam and its people. Were it to benefit anyone in combination with Kufr, it would have benefited Abu Lahab, the uncle of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him."
"Then someone might say that armed rebellion against Pervez will lead to the spilling of blood. But I say: were the order to fight the apostate ruler was from the people, like 'Amr and Zayd, then it would be permissible for minds and opinions to intervene and discuss what they should do or not do. However, as you know, the order to fight the apostate ruler is an order in the Shari'ah of Allah, and it is not permissible for the Muslim to make his opinion a rival to the order of Allah and order of His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Allah, the Most High, says, "And it is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, to exercise their own choice in the matter concerning them. And whoso disobeys Allah and His Messenger goes manifestly astray." (33:36) "
"So when the capability is there, it is obligatory to rebel against the apostate ruler, as is the case now. And the one who believes that the strength required to rebel has not yet been completed must complete it and take up arms against Pervez and his army without procrastination. Pervez and most of the Muslims' rulers jumped to power and usurped it and ruled us by other than what Allah sent down by force of arms, and the situation will not return to normal through elections, demonstrations and shouting. So beware of the polytheistic elections and futile actions, for iron is only dented by iron, and it is through fighting in Allah's path and exhorting of the believers that the might of the Kuffar is restrained. Allah, the Most High, said, "So fight in Allah's Cause - you are held responsible only for yourself - and rouse the believers. It may be that Allah will restrain the might of the unbelievers. And Allah is strongest in might and strongest in punishment." (4:84)"
"Fighting in Allah's path is an act of worship, and it is based on sacrifice of selves. Muslim blood is spilled and poured out to protect the religion, which only reached us after his (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cuspid tooth was broken, his head cut open and his noble face bloodied, and after the blood of the best of people, like Hamza, Mus'ab, Zaid and Ja'afar (with whom Allah was pleased), was poured out. This is the path, so follow it."
"The people have forgotten the path of victory"
"They think it comes easily"
"Or without blood running"
"Where is the Jihad of the Messenger of Allah? (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)"
"So to sum up: It is obligatory on the Muslims in Pakistan to carry out Jihad and fighting to remove Pervez, his government, his army and those who help him. And it is obligatory on them to pledge allegiance to an Amir of the Believers who observes the rule of Shari'ah rather than Pervez's polytheistic positive-law constitution. And the Muslims will not be successful in liberating themselves from slavery to Pervez and his polytheistic laws until they are successful in liberating themselves from many of the leaders and 'Ulama falsely affiliated with Islam who are in fact the first line of defense for Pervez and his government and army. You have seen with your own eyes the stances they took previously, when, rather than moving to break the siege placed on the Muslims of Afghanistan, they moved to break the siege placed on the bases and airports which Pervez gave to America and from which the planes were taking off to pound us in Tora Bora, Kabul, Kandahar, Paktia, Nangarhar and other places. And for your information, Pervez only dared to invade Lal Masjid and Jami'ah Hafsa after he was satisfied that most of the 'Ulama and leaders of the Jama'ats (groups) had renounced the Jihad which Allah the Most High legislated to enforce the truth and whose banner was tied by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and replaced it with polytheistic democratic solutions and with peaceful demonstrations and bogus threats to absorb the anger of the masses. Pervez had tested them before, when he broke the back of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan, after which they came to him voluntarily and of their own accord to participate in the polytheistic parliament, as if nothing had happened."
"So O people of Islam in Pakistan: the truth is greater than everyone, and if truth is not greater than everyone and if we don't apply the Hudood (punishments) to both the nobleman and weak, that is the road to ruin, as the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) informed, "Those before you were ruined because when the nobleman among them stole, they would let him go, but when the weak one among them stole, they would execute on him the Hadd (punishment). And by He in whose Hand is my soul, were Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, to steal, I would cut off her hand." (Agreed upon)"
"O youth of Islam in Pakistan: the Pen is writing what is for you and what is against you, and it won't benefit you to make excuses by saying that many of your 'Ulama and leaders have allied themselves to the infidel rulers and that the rest have failed to speak the truth and declare it out of fear of the ruling Taghuts, except those on whom Allah has had mercy, and these are either in prison or on the run. This huge disaster - i.e. the marching of the 'Ulama of vice in line with the apostate ruler and their currying favor with him and attacking of the sincere Mujahid 'Ulama - isn't peculiar to Pakistan, but rather, is a disaster covering the entire Islamic Ummah. And there is no power nor might except with Allah."
"So O people of Islam in Pakistan: every one of you will come alone to Allah, the Most High, and be held to account for his own actions, so discharge your duty. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has said, "The smart one is he who subdues his self and works for what comes after death, and the feeble one is he who lets his self chase after its desires and [then] hopes from Allah." And be aware that if the Jihad becomes an individual obligation, as is the case today, there are only two ways with no third: either Jihad, which is the way of the Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and those who believed with him, or sitting, which is the way of the disobedient ones and Munafiqeen. So make your choice. Allah, the Most High, says, "They prefer to be with the womenfolk who remain behind at home, so their hearts are sealed so that they understand not. But the Messenger and those who believe with him strive [in the cause of Allah] with their wealth and their persons, and it is they who shall have good things, and it is they who shall prosper." (9:87-88)"
"And we in al-Qaida Organization call on Allah to witness that we will retaliate for the blood of Maulana Abd al-Rashid Ghazi and those with him against Musharraf and those who help him, and for all the pure and innocent blood, foremost of which is the blood of the champions of Islam in Waziristan - both North and South - among them the two noble leaders, Nek Muhammad and Abdullah Mahsud. May Allah have mercy on them all. The tribes of Waziristan have made a great stand in the face of international Kufr - America, its allies and its agents - and the major states have been unable to make the stands they have made. They have been made resolute in this stance by their Iman (faith) in Allah, the Most High, and their Tawakkul (reliance) on Him, and they have withstood huge sacrifices of souls and wealth. We ask Allah to compensate them well. And the Muslims shall not forget these magnificent stances, and the blood of the 'Ulama of Islam and leaders of the Muslims and their offspring will not be spilled in vain or neglected as long as there remains in us a pulsing vein or a blinking eye. We ask Allah to help us to fulfill that."
"O Allah, our Lord, accept those of our brothers and sisters who have been killed among the martyrs and heal the wounded; O Allah, make their graves spacious for them, and take care of their families and raise their grades in 'Illiyeen (Heaven); O Allah, Pervez, his ministers, his 'Ulama and his soldiers have been hostile to your friends in Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially in Waziristan, Swat, Bajaur and Lal Masjid: O Allah, break their backs, split them up and destroy their unity; O Allah, afflict them with the loss of their dear ones as they have afflicted us with the loss of our dear ones; O Allah, we seek refuge in You from their evilness and we place You at their throats; O Allah, make their plotting their destruction; O Allah, suffice for us against them with whatever You wish; O Allah, destroy them, for they cannot escape You; O Allah, count them, kill them, and leave not even one of them; O Allah, our Lord, give us in this world goodness and in the last goodness, and protect us from the torment of the Fire; O Allah, send prayers and peace on our Prophet Muhammad and on all his family and Companions."
By Jeffrey Imm on September 20, 2007 3:30 PM
Reply #126 on:
September 27, 2007, 07:23:43 AM »
AFGHANISTAN: The process of letting Afghan forces take over from NATO in large-scale regional security operations in Afghanistan has already begun and is expected to be complete by 2009 or 2010, NATO Brig. Gen. Vincent Lafontaine said. The Afghan National Army is expected to reach 70,000 troops by 2009, and NATO troops will help with their training and conduct of operations.
Reply #127 on:
October 04, 2007, 11:26:47 AM »
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 3 — The studio distributing “The Kite Runner,” a tale of childhood betrayal, sexual predation and ethnic tension in Afghanistan, is delaying the film’s release to get its three schoolboy stars out of Kabul — perhaps permanently — in response to fears that they could be attacked for their enactment of a culturally inflammatory rape scene.
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Trailer: 'The Kite Runner'
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Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press
Ahmad Jaan Mahmoodzada, father of Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, an actor in “Kite Runner.”
Executives at the distributor, Paramount Vantage, are contending with issues stemming from the rising lawlessness in Kabul in the year since the boys were cast.
The boys and their relatives are now accusing the filmmakers of mistreatment, and warnings have been relayed to the studio from Afghan and American officials and aid workers that the movie could aggravate simmering enmities between the politically dominant Pashtun and the long-oppressed Hazara.
In an effort to prevent not only a public-relations disaster but also possible violence, studio lawyers and marketing bosses have employed a stranger-than-fiction team of consultants. In August they sent a retired Central Intelligence Agency counterterrorism operative in the region to Kabul to assess the dangers facing the child actors. And on Sunday a Washington-based political adviser flew to the United Arab Emirates to arrange a safe haven for the boys and their relatives.
“If we’re being overly cautious, that’s O.K.,” Karen Magid, a lawyer for Paramount, said. “We’re in uncharted territory.”
In interviews, more than a dozen people involved in the studio’s response described grappling with vexing questions: testing the limits of corporate responsibility, wondering who was exploiting whom and pondering the price of on-screen authenticity.
“The Kite Runner,” like the best-selling 2003 novel by Khaled Hosseini on which it is based, spans three decades of Afghan strife, from before the Soviet invasion through the rise of the Taliban. At its heart is a friendship between Amir, a wealthy Pashtun boy played by Zekiria Ebrahimi, and Hassan, the Hazara son of Amir’s father’s servant. In a pivotal scene Hassan is raped in an alley by a Pashtun bully. Later, Sohrab, a Hazara boy played by Ali Danish Bakhty Ari, is preyed on by a corrupt Taliban official.
Though the book is admired in Afghanistan by many in the elite, its narrative remains unfamiliar to the broader population, for whom oral storytelling and rumor communication carry far greater weight.
The Taliban destroyed nearly all movie theaters in Afghanistan, but pirated DVDs often arrive soon after a major film’s release in the West. As a result, Paramount Vantage, the art-house and specialty label of Paramount Pictures, has pushed back the release of the $18 million movie by six weeks, to Dec. 14, when the young stars’ school year will have ended.
In January in Afghanistan, DVDs of “Kabul Express” — an Indian film in which a character hurls insults at Hazara — led to protests, government denunciations and calls for the execution of the offending actor, who fled the country.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the “Kite Runner” actor who plays Hassan, Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, 12, told reporters at that time that he feared for his life because his fellow Hazara might feel humiliated by his rape scene. His father said he himself was misled by the film’s producers, insisting that they never told him of the scene until it was about to be shot and that they had promised to cut it.
Hangama Anwari, the child-rights commissioner for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said on Monday that she had urged Paramount’s counterterrorism consultant to get Ahmad Khan out of the country, at least until after the movie is released. “They should not play around with the lives and security of people,” she said of the filmmakers. “The Hazara people will take it as an insult.”
The film’s director, Marc Forster, whose credits include “Finding Neverland” (2004), another film starring child actors, said he saw “The Kite Runner” as “giving a voice and a face to people who’ve been voiceless and faceless for the last 30 years.” Striving for authenticity, he said, he chose to make the film in Dari, an Afghan language, and his casting agent, Kate Dowd, held open calls in cities with sizable Afghan communities, including Fremont, Calif., Toronto and The Hague. But to no avail: Mr. Forster said he “just wasn’t connecting with anybody.”
Finally, when Ms. Dowd went to Kabul in May 2006, she discovered her stars. “There was such innocence to them, despite all they’d lived through,” she said.
Mr. Forster emphasized that casting Afghan boys did not seem risky at the time; local filmmakers even encouraged him, he said: “You really felt it was safe there, a democratic process was happening, and stability, and a new beginning.”
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Ms. Dowd and E. Bennett Walsh, a producer, said they met in Kabul with Ahmad Khan’s father, Ahmad Jaan Mahmoodzada, and told him that his son’s character was the victim of a “vicious sexual assault.” Mr. Mahmoodzada seemed unmoved, they said, remarking that “bad things happen” in movies as in life. The boy, they continued, did not receive a script until a Dari translation was available on the set in western China. The rape scene was rehearsed twice, they said, once with the father present.
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Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press
Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, one of the film’s Afghan stars.
Trailer: 'The Kite Runner'
Phil Bray/Paramount Vantage
Khaled Hosseini, in baseball cap, author of “The Kite Runner,” and Marc Forster, director of that novel’s film version.
On Tuesday the elder Mr. Mahmoodzada, reached by cellphone, rejected this account, and said he never learned the rape was a plot point until the scene was about to be shot. He also said his son never received a script.
Mr. Forster said that during rehearsals he considered including a shot of Hassan’s pants being pulled down, exposing his backside, and that neither Ahmad Khan nor his father objected. But the morning the scene was to be filmed, Mr. Forster found the boy in tears. Ahmad Khan said he did not want to be shown nude, Mr. Forster agreed to skip that shot, and the boy went ahead with the rape scene. Mr. Mahmoodzada confirmed this.
In the final version of the film, the rape is conveyed impressionistically, with the unstrapping of a belt, the victim’s cries and a drop of blood.
The filmmakers said they were surprised when Ahmad Khan and his father told The Sunday Times of London in January that they feared for their lives. Mr. Walsh and Rebecca Yeldham, another producer, flew to Kabul to learn more in February.
The producers dispelled one fear, that the filmmakers would use computer tricks to depict the boy’s genitals in the rape scene. But Ahmad Khan’s parents also pressed for more cash, the producers said.
On the advice of a Kabul television company, the boys had been paid $1,000 to $1,500 a week, far less than the Screen Actors Guild weekly scale of $2,557, but far more than what Afghan actors typically receive.
In late July, with violence worsening in Kabul, studio executives looked for experts who could help them chart a safe course. Aided by lobbyists for Viacom, Paramount’s parent company, they found John Kiriakou, the retired C.I.A. operative with experience in the region, and had him conduct interviews in Washington and Kabul.
“They wanted to do the right thing, but they wanted to understand what the right thing was,” Mr. Kiriakou said.
There was one absolute: “Nothing will be done if it puts any kid at risk,” Megan Colligan, head of marketing at Paramount Vantage, said.
Mr. Kiriakou’s briefing, which he reprised in a telephone interview, could make a pretty good movie by itself. A specialist on Islam at the State Department nearly wept envisioning a “Danish-cartoons situation,” Mr. Kiriakou said. An Afghan literature professor, he added, said Paramount was “willing to burn an already scorched nation for a fistful of dollars.” The head of an Afghan political party said the movie would energize the Taliban. Nearly everyone Mr. Kiriakou met said that the boys had to be removed from Afghanistan for their safety. And a Hazara member of Parliament warned that Pashtun and Hazara “would be killing each other every night” in response to the film’s depiction of them. None of the interviewees had seen the movie.
Another consultant, whom Paramount did not identify, gave a less bleak assessment, but Ms. Colligan said the studio was taking no chances. “The only thing you get people to agree on is that the place is getting messier every single day,” she said.
So on Sunday Rich Klein, a Middle East specialist at the consulting firm Kissinger McLarty Associates, flew to the United Arab Emirates to arrange visas, housing and schooling for the young actors and jobs for their guardians. (The United States is not an option, he said, because Afghans do not qualify for refugee status.)
Those involved say that the studio doesn’t want to be taken advantage of, but that it could accept responsibility for the boys’ living expenses until they reach adulthood, a cost some estimated at up to $500,000. The families, of course, must first agree to the plan.
“I think there was a moral obligation even before any of these things were an issue,” said Mr. Hosseini, the novel’s author, who got to know the boys on the set. “How long that obligation lasts? I don’t know that anybody has the answer to that.”
Reply #128 on:
October 08, 2007, 06:06:42 AM »
By KIRK SEMPLE and TIM GOLDEN
Published: October 8, 2007
KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 7 — After the biggest opium harvest in Afghanistan’s history, American officials have renewed efforts to persuade the government here to begin spraying herbicide on opium poppies, and they have found some supporters within President Hamid Karzai’s administration, officials of both countries said.
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Taliban Raise Poppy Production to a Record Again (August 26, 2007)
The New York Times
Helmand accounts for nearly half Afghanistan’s opium.
Since early this year, Mr. Karzai has repeatedly declared his opposition to spraying the poppy fields, whether by crop-dusting airplanes or by eradication teams on the ground.
But Afghan officials said the Karzai administration is now re-evaluating that stance. Some proponents within the government are pushing a trial program of ground spraying that could begin before the harvest next spring.
The issue has created sharp divisions within the Afghan government, among its Western allies and even American officials of different agencies. The matter is fraught with political danger for Mr. Karzai, whose hold on power is weak.
Many spraying advocates, including officials at the White House and the State Department, view herbicides as critical to curbing Afghanistan’s poppy crop, officials said. That crop and the opium and heroin it produces have become a major source of revenue for the Taliban insurgency.
But officials said the skeptics — who include American military and intelligence officials and European diplomats in Afghanistan — fear that any spraying of American-made chemicals over Afghan farms would be a boon to Taliban propagandists. Some of those officials say that the political cost could be especially high if the herbicide destroys food crops that farmers often plant alongside their poppies.
“There has always been a need to balance the obvious greater effectiveness of spray against the potential for losing hearts and minds,” Thomas A. Schweich, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics issues, said in an interview last week in Washington. “The question is whether that’s manageable. I think that it is.”
Bush administration officials say they will respect whatever decision the Afghan government makes. Crop-eradication efforts, they insist, are only part of a new counternarcotics strategy that will include increased efforts against traffickers, more aid for legal agriculture and development, and greater military support for the drug fight.
Behind the scenes, however, Bush administration officials have been pressing the Afghan government to at least allow the trial spray of glyphosate, a commonly used weed-killer, current and former American officials said. Ground spraying would likely bring only a modest improvement over the manual destruction of poppy plants, but officials who support the strategy hope it would reassure Afghans about the safety of the herbicide and make eradication possible.
Aerial spraying, they add, may be the only way to make a serious impact on opium production while the Taliban continues to dominate parts of southern Afghanistan.
On Sunday, officials said, a State Department crop-eradication expert briefed key members of Mr. Karzai’s cabinet about the effectiveness and safety of glyphosate. The expert, Charles S. Helling, a senior scientific adviser to the department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, met with, among others, the ministers of public health and agriculture, both of whom have opposed the use of herbicides, an Afghan official said.
For all the controversy over herbicide use, there is no debate that Afghanistan’s drug problem is out of control. The country now produces 93 percent of the world’s opiates, according to United Nations estimates. Its traffickers are also processing more opium into heroin base there, a shift that has helped to increase Afghanistan’s drug revenues exponentially since the American-led invasion in 2001.
A United Nations report in August documented a 17 percent rise in poppy cultivation from 2006 to 2007, and a 34 percent rise in opium production. Perhaps more important for the effort to stabilize Afghanistan, officials said, the Taliban has been reaping a windfall from taxes on the growers and traffickers.
The problem is most acute in the southern province of Helmand, a Taliban stronghold. It produced nearly 4,400 metric tons of opium this year, almost half the country’s total output, United Nations statistics show.
Moreover, as Afghanistan’s opium production has soared, the government’s eradication efforts have faltered. Federal and provincial eradication teams — using sticks, sickles and animal-drawn plows — cut down about 47,000 acres of poppy fields this year, 24 percent more than last year but still less than 9 percent of the country’s total poppy crop.
And even that effort had to be negotiated plot by plot with growers. Powerful and politically connected landowners were able to protect their crops while smaller, weaker farmers were made the targets. The eradication program was so spotty that it did little to discourage farmers from cultivating the crop, American and European officials said.
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“The eradication process over the past five years has not worked,” Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said in an interview. “This year, it was a farce.”
A United Nations report estimates that the country’s cultivation of poppy buds has risen 17 percent in the last year.
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has opposed spraying but his administration is re-evaluating that stance.
The Americans have been pushing the Afghan government to eradicate with glyphosate for at least two years. According to current and former American officials, the subject has been raised with President Karzai by President Bush; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser; and John P. Walters, the director of national drug-control policy.
American officials thought they had the Karzai administration’s support late last year to begin a small-scale pilot program for ground spraying in several provinces. But that plan was derailed in January after an American-educated deputy minister of public health presented health and environmental concerns about glyphosate at a meeting of the Karzai cabinet, Afghan and American officials said.
Since then, Mr. Karzai has said he opposes spraying of any kind.
“President Karzai has categorically rejected that spraying will happen,” Farooq Wardak, Afghanistan’s minister of state for parliamentary affairs, said in a recent interview. “The collateral damage of that will be huge.”
Yet in the weeks since the latest United Nations drug report, the Bush administration’s lobbying appears to have made new headway. It has already won the backing of several members of Mr. Karzai’s government and the spray advocates here are now trying to swing other key Afghan officials and Mr. Karzai himself, one high-level Afghan official said
“We are working to convince the key ministers and President Karzai to accept this strategy,” said the official, who supports spraying but asked not to be identified because of the issue’s political delicacy. “We want to convince them to show some power. The government has to show its power in the remote provinces.”
General Khodaidad, Afghanistan’s acting minister of counternarcotics (who, like many Afghans, goes by only one name), said in an interview last week that ground spraying is under careful consideration by the Afghan government. A high-level official of the Karzai administration said he believed some spraying might take place during this growing season, which begins in several weeks.
The American government contends that glyphosate is one of the world’s safest herbicides — “less toxic than common salt, aspirin, caffeine, nicotine and even vitamin A,” according to a State Department fact sheet.
One well known supporter of glyphosate as a counternarcotics tool is the American ambassador in Kabul, William B. Wood, who arrived in April after a four-year posting as ambassador to Colombia. There, Mr. Wood oversaw the American-financed counternarcotics program, Plan Colombia, which relies heavily on the aerial spraying of coca, the raw material for cocaine.
Mr. Wood has even offered to have himself sprayed with glyphosate, as one of his predecessors in Colombia once did, to prove its safety, a United States Embassy official in Kabul said.
But among European diplomats here, a far greater concern than any environmental or health dangers of chemical eradication is the potential for political fallout that could lead to more violence and instability.
Those diplomats worry particularly that aerial spraying would kill food crops that some farmers plant with their poppies. European officials add that any form of spraying could be cast by the Taliban as American chemical warfare against the Afghan peasantry.
The British have been so concerned that on the eve of Mr. Karzai’s trip to Camp David in August, Prime Minister Gordon Brown called President Bush and asked him not to pressure the Afghan premier to use herbicides, according to several diplomats here.
In something of a reversal of traditional roles, officials at the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency have also challenged the White House and State Department support for spraying, raising concerns about its potential to destabilize the Karzai government, current and former American officials said.
American officials who support herbicide use do not dismiss such concerns. They say an extensive public-information campaign would have to be carried out in conjunction with any spraying effort to dispel fears about the chemical’s impacts.
Mr. Schweich, the assistant secretary of state, emphasized that a new American counter-narcotics strategy for Afghanistan, introduced in August, went far beyond eradication. He noted that it would increase punishments and rewards, including large amounts of development aid, to move farmers away from poppy cultivation. It also calls for more forceful eradication, interdiction and law enforcement efforts, and closer coordination of counternarcotics and counterinsurgency efforts, which until now have been pursued separately.
“We will do what the Afghan government wants to do,” Mr. Schweich said, referring to the use of herbicides. The Bush administration, he added, simply wants to ensure that the Afghans “have all the facts on the table.”
Reply #129 on:
October 11, 2007, 06:56:25 AM »
Musharraf in the Middle
By NAJAM SETHI
October 11, 2007; Page A20
When Gen. Pervez Musharraf won 99% of the votes cast in Pakistan's presidential election on Saturday -- an election that was boycotted by the opposition, no less -- one national newspaper headline aptly screamed: "Musharraf steals the show." Not quite yet, that is: The Supreme Court will decide later this month whether or not to validate the election results. If it does, Mr. Musharraf has promised to doff his uniform and hold elections. If it doesn't, he may impose martial law.
This acute uncertainty has created a flurry of debate here and, more importantly, in Washington, where the Bush administration is belatedly working out how to proceed. Is Mr. Musharraf a failing military dictator or a burgeoning democrat? And more importantly, should the U.S. back him or ditch him? The answer isn't as clear cut as the White House might like.
The radical view, outlined by Sandy Berger and Bruce Riedel in yesterday's International Herald Tribune, proposes to ditch Mr. Musharraf altogether and push for "free and fair elections." In this perfect world, a secular civilian government with legitimacy to tackle religious extremism would emerge, saving America's face.
But this kind of proposal grossly misrepresents the on-the-ground reality. Free and fair elections would likely produce a deeply divided polity, one in which the religious forces would likely hold the balance of power between Benazir Bhutto's secular People's Power Party (PPP) and Mr. Musharraf's conservative ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML). In the absence of Mr. Musharraf, the PML would most certainly ally with the Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA), an alliance of five bitterly anti-American religious parties.
If that happened, the first casualty of a rightwing coalition government would be Washington's war on terror. In the political paralysis that would inevitably follow, the Pakistani army would welcome the opportunity to retreat to the barracks rather than fight "its own people" in the border provinces. Then America wouldn't have Mr. Musharraf to lean on to "do more" to fight terror; it would have to go it alone.
Other analysts contend that the U.S. should not back an emerging alliance between Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Musharraf because the former is corrupt and the latter is unpopular. That leaves ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif in contention. Ousted by Mr. Musharraf in 1999 and exiled to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Sharif gained in popularity recently when he tried, unsuccessfully, to defy the president and return to Pakistan last month.
A Sharif government probably wouldn't be much to America's liking, either. Mr. Sharif is a deeply conservative politician who has always ruled in alliance with the mullahs, going so far as to pass various Islamic laws to appease them. Recently, he set up the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) to oppose Mr. Musharraf. This grouping comprises all the religious and anti-American parties in the country. Like Ms. Bhutto, Mr. Sharif has dodged corruption charges. When he was in power, he suppressed the free press with a vengeance. Under the circumstances, he is hardly likely to prove Pakistan's long lost democratic savior and champion of the war on religious extremism.
That leaves Mr. Musharraf, who is quickly consolidating his power base. On Monday, he named Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, the former head of the Interservices Intelligence, vice chief of the army. That puts Mr. Kayani, a Musharraf loyalist, in line to become the next army chief. Another trusted aide, Gen. Tariq Majeed, became chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee. Mr. Musharraf is also strengthening his position by rupturing the MMA's grip on the volatile North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan and his influence is growing in the Taliban-al-Qaeda infested tribal badlands of Waziristan.
Mr. Musharraf's alliance with Ms. Bhutto isn't perfect, by any means. The twice-sacked former prime minister Ms. Bhutto, a pro-West liberal in self-exile since 1997, struck a deal to have her corruption charges dropped in exchange for supporting Mr. Musharraf's bid for the presidency. Mr. Musharraf, who's survived three assassination attempts, remains deeply unpopular with middle-class Pakistanis because he is perceived as a U.S. puppet and an anti-Islamic secularist. Ms. Bhutto, by contrast, is still quite popular. But that may not matter: Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban-al Qaeda commander in Waziristan, says he is planning to welcome her back home with suicide bombers "because she is an American agent."
The Bush administration can't ask Mr. Musharraf to "do more" in the war against radical Islam at a time when he is so unpopular at home, nor can they ask him to hold free and fair elections immediately and quit the scene. The best bet for Pakistan and its friends abroad would be a liberal-secular civil-military alliance that leads to a stable and moderate government. Sometimes, that takes more patience than Washington is willing to extend.
Mr. Sethi is editor of the Friday Times and Daily Times in Lahore, Pakistan.
Reply #130 on:
October 23, 2007, 11:18:53 AM »
In the Face
By BENAZIR BHUTTO
October 23, 2007; Page A19
I survived an assassination attempt last week, but 140 of my supporters and security didn't.
This mass murder was particularly sinister, since it targeted not just me and my party leadership, but the hundreds of thousands (some estimate up to three million) of our citizens who came out to welcome me and demonstrate their support for democracy and the democratic process. Their deaths weigh heavily on my heart.
Oct. 18 underscores the critical situation we confront in Pakistan today -- trying to campaign for free, fair and transparent elections under the threat of terrorism. It demonstrates the logistical, strategic and moral challenge before us. How do we bring the election campaign to the people under the very real threat of assassination and mass casualties of the innocent?
The attack on me was not totally unexpected. I had received credible information that I was being targeted by elements that wanted to disrupt the democratic process -- specifically that Baitul Masood (an Afghan who leads the Taliban forces in North Waziristan), Hamza bin Laden (an Arab), and a Red Mosque militant had been sent to kill me. I also feared that they were being used by their sympathizers, who have infiltrated the security and administration of my country, and who now fear that the return of democracy will thwart their plans.
We had tried to take precautions. We requested permission to import a bulletproof vehicle. We asked to be provided technology that would detect and disarm IEDs. We had demanded that I receive the level of security to which I'm entitled as a former prime minister.
Now, after the carnage, the fact that the street lights around the assassination site -- Shahra e Faisal -- had been turned off, allowing the suicide bombers to gain access near to my truck, is very suspicious. I am so discomfited that the bomb investigation has been assigned to Deputy Inspector General Manzoor Mughal, who was present when my husband was almost murdered under torture some years back.
Obviously I knew the risks. I had been targeted twice before by al Qaeda assassins, including the infamous Ramzi Yousef. Knowing the modus operandi of these terrorists, coming back to the same target again (i.e. the World Trade Center), certainly underscored the danger.
Some in the Pakistani government criticized my return to Pakistan, and my plan to visit the mausoleum of the tomb of the founder of my country, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. But here was my dilemma. I had been in exile for eight painful years. Pakistan is a country of mass, grassroots, people-to-people politics. It is not California or New York, where candidates can campaign through paid media and targeted direct mail. That technology is not only logistically impossible, but it is inconsistent with our political culture.
The people of Pakistan -- whatever political party they may belong to -- want and expect to see and hear their party leaders, and be directly part of the political process. They expect mass rallies and caravans, and to hear directly from their leaders through bullhorns and loud speakers. Under normal conditions it is challenging. Under the terrorist threat, it is extraordinarily difficult. My task is to make sure that it is not impossible.
We are consulting with top political strategists on the problem. We want to be sensitive to the political culture of our nation, give people the opportunity to participate in the democratic process after eight long years of dictatorship, and educate the 100 million voters of Pakistan on the issues of the day.
But we do not want to be reckless. We do not want to endanger our leadership unnecessarily, and we certainly don't want to risk potential mass murder of my supporters. If we don't campaign, the terrorists have won and democracy is set back further. If we do campaign, we risk violence. It is an extraordinary dilemma.
We are now focusing on hybrid techniques that combine individual and mass voter contact with sharp security constraints. Where people have telephones, we can experiment with taped voice messages from me describing my issue positions and urging them to vote. In rural areas we are contemplating taped messages from me played regularly on boom boxes set up in village centers. Instead of the traditional mass caravans of Pakistani politics, we are discussing the feasibility of "virtual caravans" and "virtual mass rallies" where I would deliver important campaign addresses to large audiences all over the four provinces of Pakistan. We are thinking of new voter education and get-out-the-vote techniques that minimize my vulnerability, and minimize the opportunity for successful terrorist attacks over the next critical weeks leading to our parliamentary elections.
The sanctity of the political process must not be allowed to be destroyed by the terrorists. Democracy and moderation must be restored to Pakistan, and the way to do that is through free and fair elections establishing a legitimate government with a popular mandate -- leaders supported by the people. Intimidation by murdering cowards will not be allowed to derail Pakistan's transition to democracy.
Ms. Bhutto was prime minister of Pakistan from 1988-1990 and 1993-1996.
Reply #131 on:
October 25, 2007, 03:02:39 AM »
By HUSAIN HAQQANI
October 25, 2007; Page A23
After more than a decade in exile, Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister of Pakistan, returned home to Karachi last week to throngs of cheering supporters. Her triumphal arrival was marred by a terrorist bombing that killed more than 130 people, and underscored this fact: Terrorism is a threat to Pakistan and its people, and not merely a response to the foreign policy of a distant superpower.
For too many Pakistanis, this is a hard fact to accept. Many seem to believe that the war on terrorism is America's war and that if it did not stand with the U.S., then Pakistan would be safe from attack. This is not true. Pakistan has been a terrorist target since the 1980s, when its security services got involved in proxy wars in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
A compilation of published figures shows the trends. In 2006, 1,471 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Of these, 608 were civilians, 325 were security personnel and 538 were terrorists. That's an increase over 2005, when the number of fatalities was much lower: 430 civilians, 137 terrorists and 81 security personnel.
This year terrorists stepped up their attacks even before Ms. Bhutto's return. In the first 10 months of the year, a reported 2,037 people were killed. The number of suicide bombings in Pakistan is also up compared to previous years.
Pakistan clearly has a terrorist problem and needs to fight the organizations that carry out these attacks for the sake of its own people.
The willingness of the United States to provide economic and military aid for fighting terrorism is incidental. Those who punish men for not growing a beard, or who wish to subjugate women, or who behead human beings like animals are not open to persuasion. They will not stop if Pakistan were to distance itself from the U.S.
The attack against Ms. Bhutto reflects a deep-seated anger among global jihadis who shake at the thought of a woman leading the world's only nuclear-armed, majority-Muslim country. It's not the first time this anger has been directed at Ms. Bhutto. When she was elected prime minister for the first time in 1988, fatwas were issued by radical clerics condemning her and the decision to elect her. Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 attack on New York's World Trade Center, has also admitted to plotting an attack on Ms. Bhutto in 1989.
Ms. Bhutto is clearly a brave and courageous woman who cannot and will not be deterred easily by either the threats of terrorists, or the machinations of those within Pakistan's covert security services who have consistently conspired against her. Even after the attacks, Ms. Bhutto did not change her stance against terror, nor did she back away from her demand for restoration of democracy and free and fair elections.
Ms. Bhutto's suspicion is that certain elements within Pakistan's ruling establishment might be behind the bid to kill her. These fears should not be disregarded, even though it is difficult for Gen. Pervez Musharraf to accept that some of his close friends and associates may be complicit or tolerant of mass murder. Ms. Bhutto's fears come from almost two decades of being hounded by jihadis and their allies in Pakistan's security establishment. It's crucial for Pakistan to address her concerns.
Mr. Musharraf needs to open his heart to genuine democracy. And that must include listening to the complaints lodged by the people's representatives against his friends and allies in the establishment. In any case, Mr. Musharraf has wasted six critical years in the war against terrorism by failing to purge the government and intelligence services of hard-liners who supported jihadis in the past, and who have maneuvered behind the scenes to stop true democrats from gaining power.
The massive demonstration of support for Ms. Bhutto and her Pakistan Peoples Party last Thursday confirms that her popularity remains undiminished by the political developments of the past two decades.
Before Ms. Bhutto's return, the conventional wisdom offered by many pundits and some politicians was this: Ms. Bhutto is seen to be too pro-American and too pro-Musharraf to be popular in Pakistan. But neither of these suggestions, nor the charges of corruption and misrule that have been repeatedly lodged against her over the past 19 years, seemed to carry much weight with the millions of people enthused about Ms. Bhutto's return.
From America's point of view, the good news is that the people who were cheering in the streets of Pakistan for Ms. Bhutto will likely cheer against terrorism under a government run by her. Pakistan's war against terrorism will likely make better progress with the support of the people than it has in recent years under an embattled military dictator.
Mr. Haqqani is director of Boston University's Center for International Relations and author of "Pakistan Between Mosque and Military" (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005). He has also served as an adviser to several Pakistani prime ministers, including Ms. Bhutto.
Reply #132 on:
October 29, 2007, 06:32:21 PM »
Normally I put Michael Yon reports on the Mil-blog/Michael Yon thread, but for reasons that will be obvious once you read it, I post this one here. MY dishes it up very straight here-- the situation in Afg is fcuked.
Note that there are two more parts to this report which can be found at this URL.
Reply #133 on:
October 30, 2007, 04:59:29 PM »
NY Times: Caveat lector
GARDEZ, Afghanistan — Afghan police officers working a highway checkpoint near here noticed something odd recently about a passenger in a red pickup truck. Though covered head to toe in a burqa, the traditional veil worn by Afghan women, she was unusually tall. When the police asked her questions, she refused to answer.
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Tomas Munita for The New York Times
Afghan officials say Muhammad Kuzeubaev, 23, of Kazakhstan, is a bombmaker. He says he was visiting as a tourist.
VideoMore Video » When the veil was eventually removed, the police found not a woman at all, but Andre Vladimirovich Bataloff, a 27-year-old man from Siberia with a flowing red beard, pasty skin and piercing blue eyes. Inside the truck was 1,000 pounds of explosives.
Afghan and American officials say the Siberian intended to be a suicide bomber, one of several hundred foreign militants who have gravitated to the region to fight alongside the Taliban this year, the largest influx since 2001.
The foreign fighters are not only bolstering the ranks of the insurgency. They are more violent, uncontrollable and extreme than even their locally bred allies, officials on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border warn.
They are also helping to change the face of the Taliban from a movement of hard-line Afghan religious students into a loose network that now includes a growing number of foreign militants as well as disgruntled Afghans and drug traffickers.
Foreign fighters are coming from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Chechnya, various Arab countries and perhaps also Turkey and western China, Afghan and American officials say.
Their growing numbers point to the worsening problem of lawlessness in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which they use as a base to train alongside militants from Al Qaeda who have carried out terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Europe, according to Western diplomats.
“We’ve seen an unprecedented level of reports of foreign-fighter involvement,” said Maj. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux, deputy commander for security of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. “They’ll threaten people if they don’t provide meals and support.”
In interviews in southern and eastern Afghanistan, local officials and village elders also reported having seen more foreigners fighting alongside the Taliban than in any year since the American-led invasion in 2001.
In Afghanistan, the foreigners serve as mid-level commanders, and train and finance local fighters, according to Western analysts. In Pakistan’s tribal areas, they train suicide bombers, create roadside-bomb factories and have vastly increased the number of high-quality Taliban fund-raising and recruiting videos posted online.
Gauging the exact number of Taliban and foreign fighters in Afghanistan is difficult, Western officials and analysts say. At any given time, the Taliban can field up to 10,000 fighters, they said, but only 2,000 to 3,000 are highly motivated, full-time insurgents.
The rest are part-time fighters, young Afghan men who have been alienated by government corruption, who are angry at civilian deaths caused by American bombing raids, or who are simply in search of cash, they said. Five to 10 percent of full-time insurgents — roughly 100 to 300 combatants — are believed to be foreigners.
Western diplomats say recent offers from the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, to negotiate with the Taliban are an effort to split local Taliban moderates and Afghans who might be brought back into the fold from the foreign extremists.
But that effort may face an increasing challenge as foreigners replace dozens of midlevel and senior Taliban who, Western officials say, have been killed by NATO and American forces.
At the same time, Western officials said the reliance on foreigners showed that the Taliban are running out of midlevel Afghan commanders. “That’s a sure-fire sign of desperation,” General Champoux said.
Seth Jones, an analyst with the Rand Corporation, was less sanguine, however, calling the arrival of more foreigners a dangerous development. The tactics the foreigners have introduced, he said, are increasing Afghan and Western casualty rates.
“They play an incredibly important part in the insurgency,” Mr. Jones said. “They act as a force multiplier in improving their ability to kill Afghan and NATO forces.”
Western officials said the foreigners are also increasingly financing younger Taliban leaders in Pakistan’s tribal areas who have closer ties to Al Qaeda, like Sirajuddin Haqqani and Anwar ul-Haq Mujahed. The influence of older, more traditional Taliban leaders based in Quetta, Pakistan, is diminishing.
“We see more and more resources going to their fellow travelers,” said Christopher Alexander, the deputy special representative for the United Nations in Afghanistan. “The new Taliban commanders are younger and younger.”
In the southern provinces of Oruzgan, Kandahar and Helmand, Afghan villagers recently described two distinct groups of Taliban fighters. They said “local Taliban” allowed some development projects. But “foreign Taliban” — usually from Pakistan — threatened to kill anyone who cooperated with the Afghan government or foreign aid groups.
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Hanif Atmar, the Afghan education minister, said threats from foreign Taliban have closed 40 percent of the schools in southern Afghanistan. He said many local Taliban oppose the practice, but foreign Taliban use brutality and cash to their benefit.
Skip to next paragraph VideoMore Video » “That makes our situation terribly complicated,” Mr. Atmar said. “Because they bring resources with them, their agenda takes precedence.”
Large groups of Pakistani militants operate in southern Afghanistan, according to Afghan officials. In the east, more Arab and Uzbek fighters are present.
Mr. Bataloff, the Russian arrested in a burqa, insists he is a religious student who traveled to Pakistan last year to learn more about his new faith. In an hourlong interview in an Afghan jail in Kabul, he said his interest in Islam blossomed three years ago when he was living in Siberia.
“First, I heard from TV, radio and newspapers about Islam,” he said in Russian. “I found Islam had a lot of good things, especially that Islam respects all prophets, including Jesus.”
But he declined to describe many details of his trip and grew angry when asked about his personal background. “Homicide and suicide is not allowed in any religion,” he said, when asked about the allegations against him. “Why are you asking me these questions?”
Mr. Bataloff said he grew up in Siberia, but would not identify his hometown or region. He said he could not remember the names of the Pakistanis he met or the two Afghan men who drove the pickup truck.
He said he decided to go to a predominantly Muslim country last fall to study Islam and learn about “the morals, the customs, the ethics and the literature.” He flew alone from Russia to Iran, he said, and met a Russian-speaking “guide” in the airport.
After spending 10 days in Iran, he crossed into Pakistan and traveled to North Waziristan, a remote tribal area that is a longtime Taliban and Qaeda stronghold. There, he spent a year living and studying in a small mosque in Mir Ali.
Pakistani security officials say the Islamic Jihad Union, a terrorist group led by militants from Uzbekistan, operates a training camp in Mir Ali.
[In mid-October, in some of the heaviest fighting in four years, the Pakistani military said 50 foreign fighters were among 200 militants reported killed in three days of clashes around Mir Ali. The dead foreigners were said to include mostly Uzbeks and Tajiks, as well as some Arabs, the army said.]
Some of the suspects arrested in a failed bombing plot in Germany in September received training in the tribal areas, according to German officials. Several men involved in the July 2005 London transit bombings and a failed August 2006 London airliner plot did as well.
Mr. Bataloff said he met no foreign militants in his 10 months in the tribal areas. But American military officials said he had told interrogators that he had attended a terrorist training camp in North Waziristan. He said local militants forced him to go to the camp and taught him how to fire an AK-47 assault rifle, the officials said.
“I didn’t have any specific teacher,” he said, when asked about Pakistanis he met there. “There were local people who knew the Koran.”
A second foreign prisoner produced by Afghan officials identified himself as Muhammad Kuzeubaev, a 23-year-old from Temirtau, Kazakhstan. Afghan officials said he was a bombmaker arrested in September in Badakhshan Province in northern Afghanistan.
In an interview, Mr. Kuzeubaev, who also spoke fluent Russian, said he was visiting Afghanistan as a tourist. “I was close to the border,” he said. “I thought I would go explore the country.”
In Badakhshan, he said, two Afghan men abducted him and demanded he join Al Qaeda. He agreed to do so fearing he would be killed, he said. That night, the men showed him parts of a suicide vest and promised to take him to Pakistan for training.
“They showed me the explosives, the vest and grenade,” said Mr. Kuzeubaev. “The next day, they brought some kind of weapons.”
Two days later, Afghan police officers surrounded the house and arrested him, he said. Afghan interrogators beat him, chained him to a wall and prevented him from sleeping for four days, he said.
“They are saying, ‘You are the man who was making the vests,’ ” said Mr. Kuzeubaev. “But the ammunition and other explosives were not mine.”
Taliban/Al Qaida Split?
Reply #134 on:
November 03, 2007, 09:31:07 PM »
November 02, 2007
Al Qaeda's Taliban Troubles
By Ray Robison
The signs of al Qaeda's downward spiral are accumulating. If the media were as anxious to find signs of victory as signs of failure in our war with al Qaeda, the incipient crumbling of its support in South Asia would already be noted. But of course that would require giving credit to the Bush Administration's war policies.
Already beleaguered in Iraq, where tribal leaders have turned against it, al Qaeda faces a crumbling of its tribal alliances in the Afghanistan/Pakistan borderland regions. New reporting reaffirms my belief that substantial portions of the Taliban, a tribal entity which is under the influence of the Maulana Fazlur Rahman, have turned against al Qaeda. To be sure, not every Taliban leader is going to turn, but a significant portion of them will.
The Maulana is already a target of al Qaeda, and he is working against them.
President Mushareef finally showed the will to act against the Maulana and his jihadists with a raid on a mosque a few months back, letting him know there is pressure. In addition, Mushareef is now sending forces -- which have been getting trounced by Taliban and tribal forces so far -- into tribal lands.
Enter back into the Pakistani political mix former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazeer Bhutto. She worked closely with the Maulana when she was PM. He was then and is still the political leader of the militant Islamic faction in Pakistan. Bhutto will help bring him back into the inner circle. Though he will not act by proclamation and his changes will be covert, he will affect the Taliban by internal political maneuvering within his jihad-centric political parties.
Al Qaeda has targeted the Maulana. Undoubtedly the U.S. is applying more than a little bit of pressure on him, and his former foreign sponsors Saddam and Qaddafi are no longer pumping millions to his jihad groups. The new Bhutto/Mushareef alliance leaves him divided from the military and democratic political interests of Pakistan. He is increasingly isolated.
But Bhutto also gives the Maulana an escape valve; a chance to earn a powerful ally. The Maulana is no fool and he sees the weakness of al Qaeda and the end of the current incarnation of its international jihad just around the corner. Already his vitriol against the United States has lessened.
He is positioning the Taliban to start making peace agreements.
Faced with the looming conflict with the Maulana, Al Qaeda is concentrating its forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The New York Times describes a new influx of foreign fighters into Pakistan and Afghanistan. As always, the Times spins the hollowest analysis to portray defeat for the United States. But there are some questions the Times didn't bother to ask or answer, beyond the usual "the U.S. made them do it" tripe anyway. Chiefly, "why are they coming to Afghanistan"?
As the Times notes, many of these new foreign fighters in Afghanistan are being placed in leadership positions within the Taliban, usually under newer, younger Taliban commanders. The article even notes that this is a somewhat "new" vs. "old" battle for Taliban leadership. The Times fails to realize the obvious, that these are al Qaeda fighters, and instead refers to them as new Taliban recruits. But the timing of this "new phenomenon" makes the reality self-evident.
These fighters were meant for Iraq but the core al Qaeda leadership has realized that the war there is lost. They are no longer sending the new recruits in large numbers. In the current environment, only small teams can go unmolested in the Iraqi lands al Qaeda used to control. Since al Qaeda can no longer send large numbers of fighters to Iraq and since their Taliban support base is slipping away at home they have one option left to them.
Al Qaeda is attempting a hostile takeover of the Taliban.
And that signals the end of al Qaeda in Pakistan/Afghanistan just as it did in Iraq when they tried to take over from local chieftains.
Other tribal leaders are also reported to be turning against AQ. The Telegraph reports: [H/T Larwyn/Prairie Pundit]
The Daily Telegraph has learned that the Afghan government hopes to seal the deal this week with Mullah Abdul Salaam and his Alizai tribe, which has been fighting alongside the Taliban in Helmand province.
Diplomats confirmed yesterday that Mullah Salaam was expected to change sides within days. He is a former Taliban corps commander and governor of Herat province under the government that fell in 2001.
Military sources said British forces in the province are "observing with interest" the potential deal in north Helmand, which echoes the efforts of US commanders in Iraq's western province to split Sunni tribal leaders from their al-Qa'eda allies.
Older Taliban commanders are flipping to our side. In response, al Qaeda is seeking out young leaders to take over with the support of al Qaeda fighters. Now we know that UBL's latest statement was about more than just the split of his jihadists in Iraq. It is about the coming crumbling of the Taliban in Southern Asia.
You can bet that Taliban commanders like Mullah Salaam would not be making deals if they didn't have the support of the major players in Pakistan, namely Maulana Fazlur Rahman. If this "new" vs. "old" stew with al Qaeda stirring the pot comes to a boil, the fighting will resemble the Iraqi sectarian fighting, except this time is will be all Taliban and al Qaeda fighters killing each other in an all out war. And here is the bad news for The New York Times. When that happens, we win.
In fact, al Qaeda is now engaging in a propaganda effort to conceal its' Achilles heal of fractionalization. The Times of India is now reporting that a significant Taliban leader has just released a rare video reaffirming his commitment to al Qaeda:
A top Taliban commander has said his group maintains good relations and military cooperation with the Al-Qaida insurgents not only in Afghanistan but in Iraq as well.
"We have good and strong relations with Al-Qaida mujahideen in Iraq, provide them with our expertise and share with them military information," Taliban southern commander Dadullah Mansoor on Wednesday said in a video produced by Al-Qaida's media production wing, as-Sahab .
How very interesting that al Qaeda is so concerned about the jihadist split that it is running videos from sympathetic Taliban commanders to refute it.
Hold on to your seats, things are about to get messy in South Asia. A war is shaping up between New Taliban backed by al Qaeda on one side and Old Taliban backed by Fazlur Rahman/Mushareef/Bhutto on the other side. The first shot came with the bombing of Bhutto's motorcade, which killed over a hundred.
When these murders are fully targeting on each other instead of innocents they will kill thousands of their own fighters.
Ray Robison is proprietor of Ray Robison: Pointing out the Obvious to the Oblivious.
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at November 03, 2007 - 10:27:11 PM EDT
Reply #135 on:
November 05, 2007, 08:51:11 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Making Sense of Pakistan
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf finally pulled the trigger Nov. 3 after many weeks of keeping the world guessing. He declared a state of emergency, essentially took control of the judiciary, arrested a group of dissidents and shut down private media outlets (including access to foreign media). The immediate issue was the role of the Supreme Court in freeing 61 individuals charged with terrorism. The deeper issue has to do with the role of the military in Pakistani society.
The Pakistani military has been the guarantor of the state from the beginning -- and therefore has been, in the long run, the arbiter of Pakistani politics. Musharraf's coup in 1999 simply made clear Pakistan's underlying reality. Pakistan is a deeply divided entity (it is not quite reasonable to call it a nation) presided over by a state. Whatever the formal character of the state, be it democratic, military, Islamist or otherwise, the greatest threat to Pakistan's territorial integrity comes from the divisions among the country's various ethnic groups. Pakistan requires a unified military to ensure cohesion.
Whatever demonstrations there are, whatever politicians may say, whether elections are held or not -- so long as military cohesion holds, the military will be the glue of society. Much of the rest that goes on is irrelevant.
Two things are therefore interesting and important. First, there is no visible sign of dissent within the military concerning Musharraf's move; thus far, the corps commanders or their subordinates do not appear to be resisting. Second, there is no indication of any mass resistance to the state of emergency. Nov. 5 will be the test -- so far it has been the weekend -- but by all reports any demonstrations have been scattered, small and quickly suppressed.
The question is why Musharraf made this move. To a great extent it had to do with his own political survival rather than survival of the regime. There was great pressure on Musharraf to take off his uniform -- to leave the military and become a civilian leader. However, Musharraf understands what many others do not: His power and legitimacy come from his role in the military, not in spite of it. By giving up his uniform, he would be leaving the chain of command and thereby turning ultimate power over to his successor in the military. However carefully picked, that successor would command the army, and in due course would hold ultimate political power as well.
Musharraf was not going to allow that to happen. He was not prepared to leave the stage just yet; he planned to stay in uniform and put off the election. The challenge from the Supreme Court was simply the catalyst for Musharraf's deeper decision. His calculation was that, following the immediate shock to the Pakistani polity, things would settle down and he would continue to hold power. There is no indication thus far that he was wrong about this.
The United States scolded Musharraf publicly (and likely privately as well), but in truth Washington has only two interests in Pakistan. First, it wants a state that will fight Islamists along the Afghan border. Second, it wants a government that will hold Pakistan together and prevent internal collapse. In that sense, whatever the moral sentiments expressed by the administration, the United States has only one issue with Musharraf's move: that it had better not fail.
We suspect that the army remains united and will support Musharraf, and therefore we expect the move to work. Musharraf (or someone like him) will continue to govern. But that doesn't bring us closer to answering the fundamental question: what exactly is this entity he is governing?
Reply #136 on:
November 05, 2007, 08:52:33 AM »
And now here's the WSJ's take on this-- not quite the same as Stratfor:
Musharraf backs himself into an even tighter corner.
Monday, November 5, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST
In the war on terror, few problems are more difficult for U.S. foreign policy than our alliance with the nuclear-armed Muslim state of Pakistan. President Pervez Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule this weekend is the latest setback. It runs the risk of making Pakistan even less stable than it already is and makes it harder for Mr. Musharraf to restore democratic legitimacy, as he says he still wants to do.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was quick to criticize Mr. Musharraf's move and said yesterday that the U.S. would review its financial aid to Pakistan, which has amounted to more than $10 billion over the past five years (most of it for the military). Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, issued a statement urging the Administration to "move from a Musharraf policy to a Pakistan policy." That oversimplifies both current U.S. policy and the options going forward, but it should indicate to General Musharraf how his "second coup," as some are calling it, will be received in Washington.
Mr. Musharraf defends his emergency decree as a response to rising Islamic militancy and political instability caused by an interfering judiciary. But the timing and his sacking of the chief justice of the Supreme Court suggest that the general was mainly interested in pre-empting a ruling on his recent re-election, which the opposition boycotted. The high court was expected to make a decision soon on that October referendum, and the General couldn't be sure of the outcome.
No one can dispute that Islamic violence is on the rise in Pakistan. Three weeks ago 139 people died in a bomb attack on a homecoming parade for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. More than 800 Pakistanis have perished in suicide bombings and militant attacks since July, when Mr. Musharraf ordered troops to storm the Red Mosque in Islamabad to destroy a Taliban-style movement headquartered there.
But the violence is not the product of democratic opponents of Mr. Musharraf's rule. It is the work of the same Islamist extremists who have also tried to kill the General more than once. Thanks to some of Mr. Musharraf's own mistakes, such as a 2006 truce, those forces have been able to build safe havens in the tribal areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Far from targeting those forces, however, the weekend action has included rounding up democratic politicians, lawyers and human rights activists. The General also suspended the constitution and closed down the free media. By attacking these sources of moderate civil society, Mr. Musharraf makes it easier for the Islamists to pose as the main opposition.
A more effective way to defeat the extremists is by respecting the rule of law and introducing a democratic government that reflects the wishes of Pakistan's mostly moderate population. This is the course Pakistan had been on in recent weeks. With encouragement from Washington, Mr. Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup, was working toward a political compromise with democratic opponents. He had pledged to give up his military role by mid-November and become a civilian President. He brokered a tentative power-sharing deal with Ms. Bhutto that would have curtailed religious parties' power in Parliament. Elections, which may now be delayed, were scheduled for January.
It will now be more difficult, though not impossible, to get back on this track. Ms. Bhutto, who condemned the state of emergency as the "blackest day" in Pakistan's history, pointedly did not rule out continuing power-sharing talks with Mr. Musharraf. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told a news conference yesterday that "We are committed to making sure that elections are held and that \[the\] democratic process flourishes in Pakistan." But the decree will make it harder for Ms. Bhutto to agree to any deal with the General.
The main U.S. interest here is a stable Pakistan that can help defeat the jihadists. That interest won't be served by precipitously moving to sever ties with Mr. Musharraf, or with the Pakistan military the way the U.S. did in the 1990s. That would only reduce whatever leverage the U.S. continues to have with Islamabad, as well as reduce the prospects for cooperation in pursuing al Qaeda safe havens.
The Bush Administration will have to speak clearly to Pakistanis that its support for its government is not limited to Mr. Musharraf, and to loudly and publicly urge the General to honor his pledge to relinquish his military commission and hold elections as soon as possible. After this weekend, it is clearer than ever that U.S. policy has to prepare for the post-Musharraf era.
Reply #137 on:
November 06, 2007, 05:57:37 PM »
Pakistan and its Army
By George Friedman
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency over the weekend, precipitating a wave of arrests, the suspension of certain media operations and the intermittent disruption of communications in and out of Pakistan. As expected, protests erupted throughout Pakistan by Nov. 5, with clashes between protesting lawyers and police reported in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and several other cities. Thus far, however, the army appears to be responding to Musharraf's commands.
The primary issue, as Musharraf framed it, was the Pakistani Supreme Court's decision to release about 60 people the state had charged with terrorism. Musharraf's argument was that the court's action makes the fight against Islamist extremism impossible and that the judiciary overstepped its bounds by urging that the civil rights of the accused be protected.
Musharraf's critics, including the opposition's top leader, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, argued that Musharraf was using the Supreme Court issue to protect his own position in the government, avoid leaving the army as promised and put off elections. In short, he is being accused of staging a personal coup under the guise of a state of emergency.
Whether Musharraf himself survives is not a historically significant issue. What is significant is whether Pakistan will fall into internal chaos or civil war, or fragment into smaller states. We must consider what that would mean, but first we must examine Pakistan's underlying dilemma -- a set of contradictions rooted in Pakistani history.
When the British conquered the Indian subcontinent, they essentially occupied the lowlands and pushed their frontier into the mountains surrounding the subcontinent -- the point from which a relatively small British force, augmented by local recruits, could hold against any external threat. The eastern line ran through the hills that separated Bengal from Burma. The northern line ran through the Himalayas that separate China from the subcontinent. The western line ran along the mountains that separated British India from Afghanistan and Iran.
This lineation -- which represented not a political settlement but rather a defensive position selected for military reasons -- remained vague, driven by shifting tactical decisions designed to secure a physical entity, the subcontinent. The Britons were fairly indifferent to the political realities inside the line. The British Raj, then, was a wild jumble of states, languages, religions and ethnic groups, which the Britons were quite content to play against one another as part of their grand strategy in India. As long as the British could impose an artificial, internal order, the general concept of India worked. But as the British Empire collapsed after World War II, the region had to find its own balance.
Mahatma Gandhi envisioned post-British India as being a multinational, multireligious country within the borders that then existed -- meaning that India's Muslims would live inside a predominantly Hindu country. When they objected, the result was both a partition of the country and a transfer of populations. The Muslim part of India, including the eastern Muslim region, became modern Pakistan. The eastern region gained independence as Bangladesh following a 1971 war between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan, however, was not a historic name for the region. Rather, reflective of the deeply divided Muslims themselves, the name is an acronym that derives, in part, from the five ethnic groups that made up western, Muslim India: Punjabis, Afghans, Kashmiris, Sindhis and Balochis.
The Punjabis are the major ethnic group, making up just under half of the population, though none of these groups is entirely in Pakistan. Balochis also are in Iran, Pashtuns also in Afghanistan and Punjabis also in India. In fact, as a result of the war in Afghanistan more than a quarter century ago, massive numbers of Pashtuns have crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan -- though many consider themselves to be moving within Pashtun territory rather than crossing a foreign border.
Geographically, it is important to think of Pakistan in two parts. There is the Indus River Valley, where the bulk of the population lives, and then there are the mountainous regions, whose ethnic groups are deeply divided, difficult for the central government to control and generally conservative, preferring tradition to modernization. The relative isolation and the difficult existence in mountainous regions seem to create this kind of culture around the world.
Pakistan, therefore, is a compendium of divisions. The British withdrawal created a state called Pakistan, but no nation by that name. What bound its residents together was the Muslim faith -- albeit one that had many forms. As in India -- indeed, as in the Muslim world at the time of Pakistan's founding -- there existed a strong secularist movement that focused on economic development and cultural modernization more than on traditional Islamic values. This secularist tendency had two roots: one in the British education of many of the Pakistani elite and the second in Turkish founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who pioneered secularism in the Islamic world.
Pakistan, therefore, began as a state in crisis. What remained of British rule was a parliamentary democracy that might have worked in a relatively unified nation -- not one that was split along ethnic lines and also along the great divide of the 20th century: secular versus religious. Hence, the parliamentary system broke down early on -- about four years after Pakistan's creation in 1947. British-trained civilian bureaucrats ran the country with the help of the army until 1958, when the army booted out the bureaucrats and took over.
Therefore, if Pakistan was a state trying to create a nation, then the primary instrument of the state was the army. This is not uniquely Pakistani by any means, nor is it unprincipled. The point that Ataturk made -- one that was championed in the Arab world by Egypt's Gamal Abdul Nasser and in Iran by Reza Pahlavi -- was that the creation of a modern state in a traditional and divided nation required a modern army as the facilitator. An army, in the modern sense, is by definition technocratic and disciplined. The army, rather than simply an instrument of the state, therefore, becomes the guarantor of the state. In this line of thinking, a military coup can preserve a constitution against anti-constitutional traditionalists. If the idea of a military coup as a guarantor of constitutional integrity seems difficult to fathom, then consider the complexities involved in creating a modern constitutional regime in a traditional society.
Although the British tradition of parliamentary government fell apart in Pakistan, one institution the Britons left behind grew stronger: the Pakistani army. The army -- along with India's army -- was forged by the British and modeled on their army. It was perhaps the most modern institution in both countries, and the best organized and effective instrument of the state. As long as the army remained united and loyal to the concept of Pakistan, the centrifugal forces could not tear the country apart.
Musharraf's behavior must be viewed in this context. Pakistan is a country that not only is deeply divided, but also has the real capacity to tear itself apart. It is losing control of the mountainous regions to the indigenous tribes. The army is the only institution that transcends all of these ethnic differences and has the potential to restore order in the mountain regions and maintain state control elsewhere.
Musharraf's coup in 1999, which followed a series of military intrusions, as well as attempts at secular democratic rule, was designed to preserve Pakistan as a united country. That is why Musharraf insisted on continuing to wear the uniform of an army general. To remove the uniform and rule simply as a civilian might make sense to an outsider, but inside of Pakistan that uniform represents the unity of the state and the army -- and in Musharraf's view, that unity is what holds the country together.
Of course the problem is that the army, in the long run, reflects the country. The army has significant pockets of radical Islamist beliefs, while Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the military's intelligence branch, in particular is filled with Taliban sympathizers. (After all, the ISI was assigned to support the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in the 1980s, and the ISI and other parts of the army absorbed the ideology). Musharraf has had to walk a tightrope between U.S. demands that he crack down on his own army and his desire to preserve his regime -- and has never been able to satisfy either side fully.
It is not clear whether he has fallen off the tightrope. Whatever he does, as long as the army remains united and he controls the corps commanders, he will remain in power. Even if the corps commanders -- the real electors of Pakistan -- get tired of him and replace him with another military leader, Pakistan would remain in pretty much the same position it is in now.
In simple terms, the real question is this: Will the army split? Put more broadly, will some generals simply stop taking orders from Pakistan's General Headquarters and side with the Islamists? Will others side with Bhutto? Will ethnic disagreements run so deep that the Indus River Valley becomes the arena for a civil war? That is what instability in Pakistan would look like. It is not a question of civilian institutions, elections or any of the things we associate with civil society. The key question on Pakistan is whether the army stays united.
In our view, the senior commanders will remain united because they have far more to lose if they fracture. Their positions depend on a united army and a unified chain of command -- the one British legacy that continues to function in Pakistan.
There are two signs to look for: severe internal dissent among the senior generals or a series of mutinies by subordinate units. Either of these would raise serious questions as to the future of Pakistan. Whether Musharraf survives or falls and whether he is replaced by a civilian leader are actually secondary questions. In Pakistan, the fundamental issue is the unity of the army.
At some point, there will be a showdown among the various groups. That moment might be now, though we doubt it. As long as the generals are united and the troops remain under control, the existence of the regime is guaranteed -- and in some sense the army will remain the regime. Under these conditions, with or without Musharraf, with or without democracy, Pakistan will survive.
Reply #138 on:
November 07, 2007, 08:17:17 AM »
Joel Hafvenstein returned to Afghanistan in late 2004 armed with nothing but good intentions. Employed by Chemonics, a private company with a contract from the United States Agency for International Development, he was part of a team trying to discourage cultivation of the opium poppy by providing an alternative income for poor farmers.
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A Year on the Afghan Frontier
By Joel Hafvenstein
The Lyons Press. 337 pages. $24.95.
Within months the mission was in disarray, its American workers huddled in a fortified bunker after eight of its Afghan employees had been murdered. The next year’s poppy harvest would be the largest on record.
The sobering dispatches in “Opium Season,” a wrenching account of lofty hopes and bitter disappointments, shed a dismal light on American efforts to improve the lot of ordinary Afghans. All over the country development projects are under way aimed at winning over the Afghan people, depriving the Taliban of popular support and propping up Hamid Karzai’s government. The obstacles are as steep as the surrounding mountains, as Mr. Hafvenstein discovered and ruefully recounts in this bitter but affectionate book about his three stints in Afghanistan from October 2003 to May 2005.
In Helmand Province, where Mr. Hafvenstein had his final tour of duty, the immediate plan was simple: hire local people for big public-works projects and put money in their pockets before the government started cutting down profitable poppy fields. This stopgap effort would be the prelude to large-scale infrastructure projects that would lift the local economy permanently. Easier said than done.
Getting a multimillion-dollar project up and running plunged Mr. Hafvenstein and his co-workers into a social, political and economic morass that eventually sucked them under. In a country with scant resources, every dollar shifted the local balance of power in unforeseen ways.
The influx of international development companies distorted the Afghan economy, driving up the cost of housing and drawing educated Afghans away from vital but poorly paid jobs in, for example, education. Local power brokers, whether government officials or tribal leaders, eyed the Americans askance, worried that their own influence might be diminished. Big landowners schemed to steer benefits in their direction.
Mr. Hafvenstein arrived eager but unprepared in a region known to the ancient Persians as “the land of the unruly.” Racing to set up a project office, he interviewed a long line of Afghans with spotty qualifications and modest expectations. One stated on his application that he looked forward to working in “a mullet-cultural environment.” Another, hesitant to accept a job that required him to travel with payroll money, said, “I would like a job where I will not be killed.”
The security situation was indeed tenuous. Early on Mr. Hafvenstein got a cold dose of reality when the company’s security officer rattled off a list of must-buy items for the offices. These included blast film for the windows, razor wires for the walls and a windowless safe room lined with sandbags “if things get ugly.” Nevertheless, before safes arrived, Mr. Hafvenstein carried around bricks of American, Afghan and Pakistani currency in the inside pockets of his waistcoat.
The cash-for-work program showed progress. Chemonics hired thousands of laborers to do roadwork or dig out the silt from canals in a huge irrigation system built in the 1940s by Morrison-Knudsen, the engineering company that built the Hoover Dam and the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Spurred on by an energetic, idealistic Afghan-American in the office, the company made every effort to extend its reach to remote valleys badly in need of development aid.
But the hard realities of the poppy economy quickly reasserted themselves. The local government would plow under the poppy fields belonging to poor farmers just enough to mollify the central government, while powerful landlords paid the police to pass them by. After a particularly heavy rain in Lashkargah, the provincial capital, Mr. Hafvenstein noticed a thriving poppy field directly across the street from the American military outpost, its existence revealed by a collapsed section of earthen wall.
Everyone in Helmand, directly or indirectly, depended on poppy income, including top officials. In June 2005 police raided the mansion of Helmand’s governor, Sher Muhammad Akhundzada, and found nine metric tons of opium. Mr. Akhundzada, who enjoys close family ties to Mr. Karzai, explained that he had seized the opium from traffickers and was merely waiting for the appropriate moment to dispose of it.
Mr. Hafvenstein and his team disturbed the status quo, although they were never clear precisely when or how. When several workers were victimized by a carjacking, informants blamed common thieves, but the act might have been retaliation for giving too many jobs to members of the wrong clan. Later, in the same area, two Afghan workers were ambushed and killed. A party that set out the following day to transport the dead bodies to a cemetery in Kabul was also ambushed and its members executed. One man, an ethnic Hazara (member of the Shiite minority) was shot through the eyes.
Local leaders blamed the Taliban. But the killings might have been ordered by poppy growers angry that the American project was depriving them of badly needed labor for the harvest. The police showed little enthusiasm for investigating the matter.
That was it for Mr. Hafvenstein and his American colleagues. They headed home, sadder and wiser. “We had come to Helmand thinking of opium as the local currency, and had tried to replace it with cash,” Mr. Hafvenstein writes. “But security was the real currency of Afghanistan. The traumatized population of Helmand would trade anything for it, follow anyone who could offer it.”
In a country where violence trumps money every time, the United States, Mr. Hafvenstein suggests, will have to work out a different equation.
Reply #139 on:
November 07, 2007, 07:45:21 PM »
Pakistan's nuclear history worries insiders
'Nuclear coup' in 1990 and bin Laden meeting offer two chilling precedents
By Robert Windrem
Senior investigative producer
updated 5:04 p.m. PT, Tues., Nov. 6, 2007
It is the most disturbing element in the mix that makes Pakistan the most dangerous country in the world: its stockpile of at least 30 and perhaps as many as 45 nuclear weapons. And it is always the element that captures the most attention from US intelligence officials.
The United States has essentially let Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal grow over the past three decades, as succeeding governments in Islamabad have supported US policies in neighboring Afghanistan, first in thwarting the Soviet occupation and then in driving out the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Still, the fear is that in the chaos that regularly afflicts Pakistan, al-Qaeda or other jihadis will somehow gain control of one of the weapons, some of the highly enriched uranium that forms the core of a bomb or the technology to make a bomb -- or even gain control of the government.
“It’s always been easier to steal a government in Pakistan than to steal a bomb,” said one former senior US intelligence official.
It is not an abstract concern, one driven by war game scenarios. There have been two incidents in the past 20 years that call into question who controls the weapons, controls the technology.
Indeed, the incidents offer chilling precedents to what could happen now in a chaotic Pakistan. One is what Benazir Bhutto called a “nuclear coup” in 1990, while the other is knowledge from intelligence that al-Qaeda’s top leaders, including Osama bin Laden, met with Pakistani nuclear scientists in Afghanistan just before September 11 and offered the terrorist group advice on how to build a crude nuclear device.
For better or worse, the US is confident that it knows where the Pakistani nuclear arsenal is located and that it is secure. And in 2003, the US secretly provided technology and training to Pakistani nuclear scientists so they could develop “permissive action links”—codes that prohibit unauthorized detonation. Prior to US intervention in this area, none of the Pakistani warheads were protected, say US and Pakistani officials.
Moreover, military and intelligence officials have told NBC News that should the need arise, the US is prepared to take out—or simply take—the weapons from Pakistani control. As Condoleezza Rice said at her confirmation hearings in January 2005, “We have noted this problem, and we are prepared to try to deal with it. I would prefer not in open session to talk about this particular issue.”
“There wasn’t much concern about physical security, but a high degree of angst that the government would fall into the hands of bad guys and they would be in charge,” said the former official, who added that there were “some in the nuclear program who are sympathetic to the radicals”.
As laid out in “Critical Mass: The Dangerous Race for Superweapons in a Fragmenting World," a 1994 book by Robert Windrem and William E. Burrows, the first incident unraveled in the summer of 1990 when India and Pakistan were in one of their seemingly innumerable crises. For the first time, the US had detected that Pakistan had actually put together a nuclear weapon without the knowledge of the country’s prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. And not long after Bhutto learned what her military had done, she was deposed by the same men who had kept the weaponization secret from her.
The CIA had determined that in May 1990 Pakistani scientists had succeeded in converting highly enriched uranium from a gas into a heavy metal. The uranium had undergone successive changes, going from gas to pellets to the mold and machined spheres—perfect spheres—that constituted the cores of atomic bombs. The CIA knew that the cores were then stored near the other components needed to make a complete weapon so the Pakistani bomb could be assembled in as little as three hours at Dalbandin, an airbase in the Baluchistan desert well out of reach of Indian jets. There was enough metal to make between six and eight nuclear weapons, each with the explosive capability equivalent to the bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The United States later learned the final number of cores was seven. Two cores had been machined in May, and five more were turned out by the end of July. The first two used about 40 pounds of uranium while the last used about 26 pounds each. Like most other things, a learning curve improves efficiency.
The Pakistanis had not only “crossed the line” as the saying went in Washington’s nuclear precincts. They had actually prepared bombs for delivery. More importantly, in relation to the current crisis, the whole scenario had been carried out without Bhutto even knowing what had happened.
“I think it is criminal that the Prime Minister, who is ultimately responsible in the eyes of the people and in the eyes of history, should not be taken into confidence on such a major issue.” She told NBC two years later. “I did not know.”
Bhutto in fact had not just been Prime Minister. She was Defense Minister and Atomic Energy Minister as well.
The decision had been taken by the Army chief of staff, Mirza Aslam Beg, and the country’s president, Ghulam Ishaq Khan. The presidency then, unlike now, was more of a ceremonial post. Both had been proponents of the Pakistani bomb program, which ironically had been started by Bhutto’s father when he had been prime minister. Khan in fact had run the program.
Bhutto also found out in a most unorthodox way. In late June, two long time American friends of hers had come to Islamabad to tell her what happened. Peter Galbraith, then the south Asia specialist on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Mark Siegel, her Washington lobbyist, took her to a garden outside her offices in the Pakistani capital to inform her.
The news Galbraith and Siegel had delivered took Bhutto by surprise, but she knew the consequences. The United States now had the proof it needed to cut off aid to Pakistan under a law called the Pressler Amendment, and ultimately the US did just that.
A few weeks later, the US ambassador delievered the news to her. Robert Oakley informed her that US law required a cutoff in aid to Pakistan if it possessed a “nuclear explosive device” and demanded that Pakistan reverse the process.
Around the same time, US officials flew to Islamabad while Bhutto was on a state visit to the Gulf States to warn Ishaq Khan and Beg there was no way Pakistan could win a war with India and that continued nuclear brinksmanship would risk a catastrophe.
Bhutto, unaware of the US meeting, contacted Ishaq Khan to relay Oakley’s warning and three times called for a meeting of the top-secret committee that ran the nuclear weapons program. Each time Ishaq Khan said he would get back to her. She also asked Beg for an explanation as well and he promised one would be forthcoming.
Neither happened, but on Aug. 6, less than three months after Pakistan had begun the process of building a bomb, Bhutto was deposed. With the world’s attention then focused on Saddam Hussein’s four-day old occupation of Kuwait, Ishaq Khan went on Pakistani television to denounce Bhutto’s government as corrupt and incompetent.
“I have no proof of this,” Bhutto later told NBC News, “but I feel that someone may have turned on the switch in the spring of 1990 to justify the dismissal of my government.” She called it a “nuclear coup.”
More troubling was what former CIA Director George J. Tenet wrote about in his memoir, “At the Center of the Storm” about al-Qaeda’s attempt to obtain nuclear know-how from Pakistani scientists.
In August 2001, just weeks before the 9/11 attacks, two officials of an ostensible Pakistani charity, both senior scientists in the country’s nuclear weapons program, met with Osama bin Ladin and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Afghanistan.
“There, around a campfire, they discussed how al-Qa’ida should go about building a nuclear device,” wrote Tenet.
The scientists were not ordinary scientists. Sultan Bashirrudan Mahmood, was the former director for nuclear power at Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission. Chaudiri Andul Majeed, a prominent nuclear engineer, had retired from the Pakistani Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology in 2000. Both institutes were part of the nuclear weapons establishment. Their charity, UTN, also included retired Pakistani nuclear scientists, military officers, engineers, and technicians.
The United States had already learned from Libyan intelligence that UTN scientists had approached Moammar Khaddafi’s government with an offer they thought the Libyans couldn’t refuse: “They tried to sell us a nuclear weapon,” Tenet quoted Musa Kusa, the head of Libyan intelligence, as saying. “Of course, we turned them down.” The CIA was able to confirm through other sources that indeed the offer had been made, according to Tenet.
“CIA passed our information on UTN to our Pakistani colleagues, who quickly hauled in seven board members for questioning,” Tenet wrote, adding with some exasperation, “The investigation was ill-fated from the get-go. The UTN officials all denied wrongdoing and were not properly isolated and questioned.
“In fact, they were allowed to return home after questioning each day. Pakistani intelligence interrogators treated the UTN officials deferentially, with respect befitting their status in Pakistani society. They were seen as men of science, men who had made significant contributions to Pakistan. Our officers read the question etched in the faces of their Pakistani liaison contacts: Surely, such men cannot be terrorists?”
Ultimately, after more intelligence came in, President Bush dispatched Tenet to Islamabad in November 2001 with a file of accusations and a less than subtle threat.
“After a few pleasantries, I explained to President Musharraf that I had been dispatched by the U.S. president to deliver some very serious information to him. I launched into a description of the campfire meeting between Usama bin Ladin, al-Zawahiri, and the UTN leaders. ‘Mr. President,' I said, ‘you cannot imagine the outrage there would be in my country if it were learned that Pakistan is coddling scientists who are helping Bin Ladin acquire a nuclear weapon. Should such a device ever be used, the full fury of the American people would be focused on whoever helped al-Qa’ida in its cause.'”
Musharraf was incredulous.
“But Mr. Tenet, we are talking about men hiding in caves,” Tenet quotes Musharraf as saying. “Perhaps they have dreams of owning such weapons, but my experts assure me that obtaining one is well beyond their reach. We know in Pakistan what is involved in such an achievement.”
“Mr. President, your experts are wrong,” Tenet said he responded.. “I told him that the current state of play between weapon design and construction and the availability of the needed materials made it possible for a few men hidden in a remote location—if they had enough persistence and money, and black enough hearts—to obtain and use a nuclear device.”
A second round of interrogations followed and the full story finally emerged. As Tenet recounts it, there was little doubt that bin Laden and Zawahiri saw Pakistan’s nuclear fraternity as its most likely source of help. Moreover, there was even less doubt of bin Laden’s interest in nuclear weapons.
“Mahmood confirmed all we had heard about the August 2001 meeting with Usama bin Ladin, and even provided a hand-drawn rough bomb design that he had shared with al-Qa’ida leaders. He told his interrogators that he had discussed the practicalities of building a weapon. ‘The most difficult part of the process,’ he told Bin Ladin, ‘is obtaining the necessary fissile material.’ ‘What if we already have the material?’ Bin Ladin replied. This surprised Mahmood. He said he did not know if this was a hypothetical question or if Bin Ladin was seeking a design to use with fissile material or components he had already obtained elsewhere.”
An unidentified senior al-Qaeda leader also present at the campfire displayed a canister for the visitors that may or may not have contained some kind of nuclear material or radioactive source. He also shared his ideas of building a simple firing system for a weapon using commercially available supplies, according to the interrogation quoted by Tenet.
Tenet says in spite of extensive efforts to learn whether bin Laden actually had HEU, the US intelligence and law enforcement community had no luck. Luck in fact may be what is needed more than anything else in dealing with Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
© 2007 MSNBC Interactive
Reply #140 on:
November 08, 2007, 11:21:07 AM »
Jailed in Pakistan
November 8, 2007; Page A22
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf says he imposed a state of emergency to limit terror attacks. Then why is he arresting so many nonterrorists?
Beginning Saturday, the main targets of police have been human rights workers and Mr. Musharraf's political opponents. While precise figures are hard to come by, more than 1,500 people -- mostly lawyers who participated in anti-Musharraf protests -- are thought to be incarcerated, either in their homes or in jails.
Topping the detainee list is Asma Jahangir, the Lahore-based head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Ms. Jahangir, a lawyer who is also a United Nations' special rapporteur on freedom of religion, agitated publicly for an independent judiciary and has represented the families of "disappeared" political dissidents. She was placed under a 90-day "preventative" house arrest on Saturday in Lahore.
Next comes Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, a member of Parliament and a former law minister. Mr. Ahsan, who defended former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry earlier this year when Mr. Musharraf sacked him, stood up at a press conference Saturday and denounced the state of emergency. Mr. Ahsan is now in Adiala Jail near Rawalpindi.
Then there's Ali Ahmed Kurd, another lawyer for former Chief Justice Chaudhry, who human rights groups claim is now under the supervision of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Other lawyers in that case, including Munir Malik and Tariq Mahmood -- both former presidents of the Supreme Court Bar -- have also been arrested.
Other detainees include Javed Hashmi, the acting president of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's party; Imran Khan, a famous cricketer and leader of a new, small political party; and hundreds of workers for Jamaat-e-Islami, a large religious party. Mr. Khan managed to give the slip to his minders at his home and is now on the run.
If Mr. Musharraf wants to fight terrorism and move Pakistan toward democracy, arresting democrats and lawyers is an odd way of doing so. By targeting members of civil society, he's weakening the very forces that would have supported him had he moved forward with a power-sharing arrangement with Benazir Bhutto. Instead, he's angering the country's middle class and empowering militants.
Reply #141 on:
November 08, 2007, 12:34:57 PM »
Pakistanis Say No
By HUSAIN HAQQANI
November 8, 2007; Page A23
When Gen. Pervez Musharraf suspended Pakistan's Constitution, declared a state of emergency and put the nation once again under martial law, he expected limited civilian resistance and only ritual international condemnation, in view of his role in the war against terrorism. On both counts, Mr. Musharraf appears to have badly miscalculated.
Police officers clash with lawyers outside the district courts in Multan, Pakistan, on Nov. 6, 2007.
Pakistan's burgeoning civil society, led by lawyers and encouraged by judges ousted from the Supreme Court, is refusing to be cowed. Protests are spreading despite thousands of arrests and the use of tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators. More than 1,700 attorneys have been jailed but still more are taking to the streets. University students have joined the lawyers, and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has vowed to violate a ban on public meetings by leading a rally on Friday.
There are a number of important reasons why Pakistan's attorneys are leading the protests against Mr. Musharraf. They have a long tradition of activism for rule of law and human-rights issues. In 1968-69, the lawyers started the campaign that resulted in the ouster of Pakistan's first military ruler, Field Marshal Ayub Khan. They also were at the forefront of the campaign against Mr. Zia-ul-Haq, whose 11-year military rule ended when he died in a 1988 plane crash.
The legal fraternity has another advantage, in that they can afford to confront the government without fearing starvation for their families. Some 65 million of Pakistan's 160 million people subsist on less than $1 a day, while another 65 million survive just above the poverty line. The poor are willing to participate in organized rallies, such as the one that welcomed Ms. Bhutto back to Pakistan on Oct. 18 (and was targeted by a suicide terrorist), but they generally avoid protest demonstrations where getting arrested and missing work is almost inevitable.
That could change in the days and weeks to come. Although Mr. Musharraf has taken all private and international television channels off the air, images of the protests are being seen all over Pakistan through the Internet and with satellite dishes. Middle-class Pakistanis, and increasingly the poor, are making it clear that they want political freedom, along with an improvement in their economic prospects, and do not consider prosperity and democracy to be mutually exclusive.
The international community has also responded more strongly than Mr. Musharraf expected. The Netherlands has suspended aid, and several donors are reviewing their policy on military and economic assistance. The Bush administration is hoping to defuse the situation through assertive diplomacy. But withdrawal of aid, supported by several congressional leaders, remains a possibility.
Since 9/11, Mr. Musharraf has positioned himself as the key Western ally in the global war against terrorism. But in recent months, he has been too distracted with domestic politics to play an effective role. The U.S., in particular, does not want anti-Musharraf sentiment to result in a fresh wave of anti-Americanism in Pakistan that further fuels terrorism. While some in the U.S. argue about America's limited options in dealing with the crisis in Pakistan, one could argue that Mr. Musharraf's options are even more limited.
The more he has to repress critics and political opponents, the less Pakistan will be able to fight terrorism. After all, when troops have to be deployed to detain Supreme Court judges, journalists, lawyers and politicians, there are fewer troops available to fight terrorists. Pakistan's intelligence services can either spy on dissenting Pakistani civilians or focus their energies on finding Osama bin Laden and his ever increasing number of deputies and operatives around Pakistan. But Pakistan needs to fight terrorism for Pakistan's sake. Mr. Musharraf cannot endlessly blackmail Washington by hinting that he would withdraw antiterror cooperation if the U.S. pressures him on other issues, including democracy and human-rights violations.
One thing is clear: Mr. Musharraf's authoritarianism is being challenged by diverse elements in Pakistani society. His self-cultivated image as a benign dictator is a thing of the past, and his recent harsh measures have failed to frighten Pakistan's civil society and political opposition into submission.
The defiance of the judiciary and the media might not immediately topple Mr. Musharraf, but it could render him ineffective to a point where the military rethinks its options. The army will soon recognize that the only thing keeping the general and his civilian cronies in power is the army's support. It risks further alienating the Pakistani people and losing their respect as long as it continues to act solely in the interests of Mr. Musharraf and his small band of political allies. At some point, the professional soldiers will wonder whether they should risk their institution's position to keep him in power.
The army is Mr. Musharraf's support base. It is a major beneficiary of U.S. security assistance, having received $17 billion since 1954 with equipment worth several hundred million dollars currently in the pipeline. Since 2002, the U.S. has subsidized the Pakistani army to the tune of $150 million per month. The army is also a stakeholder in Pakistan's growing economy, which benefits from international aid and investment. If Mr. Musharraf's autocratic policies threaten Pakistan's prosperity, the army is likely to be less unanimous in its support of its commander.
Already, there are signs of economic fallout from the political turmoil. Rumors of an anti-Musharraf military coup on Monday caused the biggest one-day decline in 16 months on the Karachi Stock Exchange, resulting in losses of an estimated $1.3 billion. Pakistan's credit rating has been revised downward in anticipation of further civic unrest and international sanctions.
Pakistanis are used to coups d'état where the army takes the helm of government. Things are different this time. In the past, generals have suspended the constitution to remove from power unpopular rulers, usually weakened civilians rightly or wrongly accused of corruption (as was the case when Mr. Musharraf ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in October 1999). This is the first time an unpopular military ruler has suspended the constitution to preserve his own rule. In doing so, Mr. Musharraf has clearly overplayed his hand.
Mr. Musharraf cannot blame a civilian predecessor for bringing the country to the brink. If there is internal chaos in Pakistan today, it is of the general's making. After all, it was his arbitrary decision to remove Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry in March that initiated the political crisis which has led to the current "state of emergency."
Justice Chaudhry, on the other hand, has become a symbol of resistance to arbitrary rule -- the man who refused to roll over and disappear, unlike earlier judges who cooperated with military rulers or simply went home when their conscience dictated otherwise. Justice Chaudhry's call upon the legal fraternity to "Go to every corner of Pakistan and give the message that this is the time to sacrifice" for the supremacy of Pakistan's Constitution has drawn elements disillusioned with existing political leaders to anti-Musharraf protests.
Among Pakistani political leaders, Ms. Bhutto has emerged as the viable civilian alternative to Mr. Musharraf, with public support at home and acceptance abroad. As the only politician in Pakistan to publicly describe Islamist extremism and terrorism as the principal threat to the nation, Ms. Bhutto was initially measured in her response to Mr. Musharraf's reckless actions. She demanded that he restore the constitution and call elections as scheduled. She hoped to change his attitude with the threat of putting hundreds of thousands of supporters in the streets, without actually doing so. But Mr. Musharraf's stubbornness is changing that position.
Like many in the U.S., Ms. Bhutto appears worried about directing attention away from fighting terrorism and destabilizing Pakistan further. But leaving the anti-Musharraf campaign leaderless is not an option. She has positioned herself as an opposition leader who represents the sentiment of the people, but is also willing to accept a negotiated settlement that restores the constitution, ends persecution, and results in free and fair elections leading to full civilian rule.
So far Mr. Musharraf has shown no inclination to negotiate in good faith with Ms. Bhutto or the international community. With each passing day, the Bush administration's hopes -- that with its help there could be a transition to democracy in Pakistan with a continuing role for Mr. Musharraf -- are diminishing. Unless Mr. Musharraf changes course quickly, the U.S. will be compelled to start looking beyond him to a more legitimate leader.
Mr. Musharraf seems determined to put his own political survival before the rule of law -- actions that warrant the label dictator. Pakistan's attorneys, and increasingly the rest of its citizenry, seem equally determined to prevent this from happening.
Mr. Haqqani is director of Boston University's Center for International Relations and the author of "Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military" (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005). He also has served as adviser to several Pakistani prime ministers, including Ms. Bhutto.
Reply #142 on:
November 10, 2007, 03:27:54 PM »
Khaleej Times Online >> News >> SUBCONTINENT
‘Pakistan cuts troops on Indian border’
By our correspondent
7 November 2007
NEW DELHI — For the first time in 60 years, Pakistan has considerably reduced the number of troops along the heavily guarded border with India.
The matter has come up in the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
Turmoil in Pakistan and unrest in its western areas, have resulted in Pakistani troops being pulled away in large numbers from the border areas adjoining Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Reports quoting intelligence agencies said here yesterday that the aggressively positioned eastern frontier areas adjoining India have become extremely thin. Pakistani troops that otherwise are positioned to counter Indian forces, have been moved out to Waziristan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas on the western borders, reports said.
Intelligence officials have been quoted as saying that strain is starting to tell on the regular Pakistan army with tensions mounting in the north west frontier. “The very sign of pressure building up against Pakistan is that their forces which never compromised on its eastern border have been moved out leaving the border areas along India lean and lanky,” said top officials.
Some 38,000 troops from key border installations have been repositioned, the Caninet Committee has been told. It is said as many as 15 Infantry Brigades of Pakistan army have been repositioned on the border areas of north west frontier to fight Taleban.
Many reserve troops and units that were on duty on the borders at Indo-Pak Line of Control have been moved out. Even soldiers from the elite strike corps that are trained to slice into India in the event of war along with reserves with the army GHQ in Rawalpindi have been mobilised. However, this doesn’t indicate that Pakistan’s eastern border has been left totally unattended.
The thinning of troops indicate that Islamabad is quite apprehensive about internal developments more than any untoward events unfolding with India. Officials were quoted as saying that Islamabad isn’t worried with New Delhi that has seemingly been sympathetic with the situation in its neighbour that forced President Pervez Musharraf impose 'emergency' last Saturday.
“For them the priority is surely the western flank that has brought them more trouble as of now. With Indo-Pak peace process still on, Islamabad can at least trust its new found camaraderie with New Delhi,” officials said. Latest inputs have shown that the Mangla-based Army Reserve North (ARN) and Multan-based Army Reserve South (ARS) too have been repositioned, said Indian Express newspaper.
“They have been dispatched to Peshawar or Quetta for deployment along the troubled Afghan frontier. Units from the Force Command Northern Area (FCNA) that controls Pakistan’s Azad Kashmir region and forces from the dual-role XI Corps in Peshawar — tasked with defending the Afghan border have also been moved to fight the Taleban,” said the report.
The reports quoting valid details, point out that written instructions were sent by Pakistan Army GHQ to all formation commanders to determine the quantity of forces each unit could relieve for deployment along the Afghan border and even the hinterland. After that a classified list of ‘extra troops’ was drawn up by GHQ based on an internal audit that was carried out by all formations.
Top US-based defence analysts watching developments in India and Pakistan, have warned that this pressure on Pakistani armed forces could lead to an ‘abnormally high percentage of Pakistani troops on active duty’ — a factor that is dangerous, as it can ‘crack open’ the army against President Musharraf himself.
“Intelligence data says that out of the 66 Infantry Brigades (about 1.65 lakh troops) in the Pak army, 33 brigades are currently on active duty. Of these, 18 brigades (45,000 troops) are deployed for counter-terror operations. With half its troops committed to active duty, the army is finding it hard to rotate and relive formations,” said reports.
“It is a major operational constraint. In the event of war, the whole army gets mobilised but in an ideal scenario, one-third of the troops should be on duty, while the rest are in transit or in a peace area. In long term, it will get increasingly difficult to manage the already strained forces,” top officials were quoted as saying.
On this scenario, strategic affairs expert Stephen Cohen has pointed out that “the (Pakistani) army might lose its coherence. It is a multi-ethnic army, derived from the old British Indian army, and from time to time it, like its predecessor, has had ethnic-based mutinies (the most notable being the revolt of the Bengali elements of all three services in 1970).”
“At present, about 18 per cent of the Pakistan army are Pushtuns or of Pushtun-origin. There are reports of officers refusing to attack targets, and the astonishing case, still unexplained, of nearly 300 officers and jawans surrendering to the militants in Waziristan — where they are still being held hostage,” Cohen wrote for Brookings Institution explaining that America was in for a tough ride with developments in Pakistan.
Reply #143 on:
November 10, 2007, 07:45:49 PM »
Good to have you with us again.
Given the history of the border with India, this development seems quite significant. Is it a sign that Mush fears the situation unravelling completely? Or is he readying a genuinely aggressive move against to Whackostans? Or?
We certainly live in interesting times , , ,
The Bush-Biden Doctrine
November 10, 2007; Page A10
Whatever Pervez Musharraf's failings in Islamabad, his impact in Washington has been nothing short of miraculous. With his declaration of emergency rule, the Pakistan President has single-handedly revived the Bush Doctrine. The same people who only days ago were deriding President Bush for naively promoting democracy are now denouncing him for not promoting it enough in Pakistan.
"We have to move from a Musharraf to a Pakistan policy," declared Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday. "Pakistan has strong democratic traditions and a large, moderate majority. But that moderate majority must have a voice in the system and an outlet with elections. If not, moderates may find that they have no choice but to make common cause with extremists, just as the Shah's opponents did in Iran three decades ago."
Pakistan Plunges Deeper Into ChaosJoe Biden, neocon.
The Senator's epiphany underscores that Pakistan has long been the playground not of democracy promoters but of the foreign-policy "realists." General Musharraf may have taken power in a coup, but when Colin Powell famously gave him the for-us-or-against-us choice after 9/11, the general chose "for." He is a U.S. ally in a rough neighborhood, his government captured such al Qaeda bigs as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and as an authoritarian he was of the moderate kind. The Bush Administration did push Mr. Musharraf to restore democratic legitimacy, but quietly and without great urgency. Brent Scowcroft would have approved.
We don't summarize this history to deride it the way Mr. Biden and many neocons-come-lately are. There are exceptions to every foreign policy rule, and sometimes democracy promotion must compete with other American interests, such as the need to pursue al Qaeda. In the Cold War, Americans often had little choice but to support authoritarian rulers who were allies in the larger struggle against Communism. Sometimes the alternatives are worse, and Pakistan is a hard case.
Clearly, however, this calculation has to change after Mr. Musharraf's "emergency" declaration. His arrest of lawyers, human-rights activists and political opponents shows that his main targets aren't Islamists. They are the pro-Western parts of Pakistan civil society that oppose Islamism more than the general does. He is making a heavy-handed play to avoid a Supreme Court ruling against his recent Presidential election, and he has undermined the talks he was having with opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on a transition to democracy. As a national leader, he has made himself even less legitimate.
So what should the U.S. do? To some, like Mr. Biden, the answer is to issue an ultimatum to restore elections by a date certain, and if Mr. Musharraf refuses, cut off the U.S. aid of $150 million a month and walk away. This has its virtues as a political threat, but it is less useful if you actually have to follow through.
The last time the U.S. tried to isolate Pakistan, after its nuclear test in the late 1990s, we lost contact with a generation of Pakistani military officers. Pakistan also got in bed with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the U.S. had little or no influence. It was only after 9/11, with the resumption of U.S. aid, that Mr. Musharraf replaced some generals and intelligence officials who sympathized with the Taliban. There are benefits to staying engaged with the military and other parts of Pakistan society -- both to understand it better and to help deter the worse possible outcome, which would be an Islamist coup.
At the same time, however, the U.S. can't quietly acquiesce in the status quo. Mr. Musharraf's days are numbered, and his country's democrats need to know that the U.S. stands squarely for restoring the rule of law, freedom of the airwaves, and democratic legitimacy. President Bush already seems to be making some progress on this front, calling Mr. Musharraf this week and urging him both to resign his military commission and set a date for elections. The general has responded by saying elections will be held by February, a month after they had been scheduled before the "emergency" was declared.
Some of our neocon friends point to the Cold War precedent of the Philippines, where Ronald Reagan helped to push long-time ally Ferdinand Marcos from power. What they forget is that the Gipper's push came at the end of a long process of private engagement and public pressure, and only after Marcos had tried to steal a Presidential election. It also came in a country whose political culture we clearly understood, and one with close bilateral military ties. When Marcos ordered military leaders to arrest the opposition, they refused and a bloodbath was prevented.
Others point to the Iran example of 1979, but that too is an imperfect model. Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski abandoned the Shah with little understanding that the military as an institution would crumble, and none at all about the radical designs of the Ayatollah Khomeini. We have been living with the consequences of that blunder ever since.
Pakistan today is not Iran in 1979, but neither is it the Philippines in 1986. It requires its own unique U.S. engagement and diplomacy. The restoration of democracy should be one goal of that engagement, even if we have to call it the Bush-Biden Doctrine.
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Last Edit: November 10, 2007, 10:26:44 PM by Crafty_Dog
Reply #144 on:
November 13, 2007, 06:16:42 AM »
Being Pervez Musharraf
What's it like to be Pakistan's ruler?
BY BRET STEPHENS
Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST
Imagine yourself as Pervez Musharraf, the 64-year-old military ruler of Pakistan. As a young artillery officer, and later as a commando, you acquired a reputation for personal bravery--and for doing just as you pleased, whatever your orders. Your subsequent performance as a general and politician has been of a similar piece. In recent days, you have declared a state of emergency, imprisoned thousands of lawyers and civil society types, fired the Supreme Court and put its chief justice under house arrest, and shut down much of the independent media. You have done all this to keep your grip on power, all the while insisting you have "no personal ego and ambitions to guard."
Abroad, the conventional wisdom is that you have shredded what little legitimacy you had and that your days, politically or otherwise, are numbered. You think they're wrong. You're probably right.
No doubt you are sensitive to the appearance of hypocrisy. In your self-applauding autobiography, "In the Line of Fire," you wrote about former Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as follows: "He threw many of his opponents, including editors, journalists and even cartoonists, into prison. He was really a fascist--using the most progressive rhetoric to promote regressive ends, the first of which was to stay in power forever." Of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, you recalled how he "got his party goons to storm the Supreme Court building while the court was in session. . . . This was, to put it mildly, a very low point in Pakistani political history." Concerning the efficacy of martial law, you said that "our past experience had amply demonstrated that martial law damages not only military but also civilian institutions."
The way you see it, however, there's just no comparing you to Pakistan's past leaders. The elder Bhutto, his daughter Benazir, and Mr. Sharif were a trio of political mesmerists--aristocrats posing as populists--who enriched themselves and their friends to the tune of billions as they bankrupted the country. You are a refugee from partition, a man for whom Pakistan is a sanctuary that must be preserved at all cost. You have raised your family on a soldier's wages. Nobody can accuse you of being a thief.
Besides, who in his right mind would want to return to the days of Mr. Sharif or the Bhuttos? When you took over in 1999, the country was $30 billion in debt and its credit rating was among the world's worst. Since then, the number of cell phone subscribers is up 100%, the number of air conditioners sold is up 200%, the stock market is up 800%, foreign direct investment is up more than tenfold and the economy has averaged 7% annual growth over five years. Did the shambolic democracy of years past ever register these kinds of figures?
That's one reason why you are confident you can ride out this storm, just as you have so many others. The intellectuals, the leftists, the human-rights activists and the lawyers--lawyers!--may be against you, but the worst they can do is write nasty op-eds in the pages of the Western press. That may be a stain on your vanity, but it is not a threat to your regime.
By contrast, the merchant classes, political allies from the beginning, remain your great beneficiaries and would be the last to cheer your ouster. As for the poor, they will do nothing to risk their livelihoods for the sake of politics. Come to think of it, that's another excellent reason to enforce the state of emergency well past the next election.
Then there is Ms. Bhutto, whose political smarts don't quite match her rhetorical gifts. She did you a favor earlier this year when she all but agreed to rule in condominium with you in exchange for having her corruption charges dropped. But she was under the mistaken impression that you needed her "democratic legitimacy" every bit as much as she craved a return to power. You've rubbished that assumption. Maybe now she'll understand the favor you have done her by keeping her under house arrest, thereby preserving the pretense of her political oppositionism.
As for the military, you've had eight years to make sure your lieutenants are loyal. Not only do they see you as one of their own, they also see you as the man who will keep the money coming from Washington. And the money will keep coming. The ostensible purpose of President Bush's phone call last week may have been to insist that you hold elections and relinquish your uniform, and you're probably prepared to meet him halfway. But the subtext of the call is that the two of you remain on speaking terms. Had it been otherwise, the consequences could have been devastating to you. For now, though, you're still the one.
What worries you? The business about the uniform, for starters. You are old enough to remember 1958, when a former general turned civilian president named Iskander Mirza dissolved the government, declared martial law and put Ayub Khan, the army chief of staff, in charge. Bad move: Khan exiled Mirza to London in three weeks flat.
You also can't be sure the street violence won't spiral out of control. You have gone out of your way to treat the detained lawyers gingerly, by local standards. What if they don't get the message and return to the streets, unchastened and emboldened? What if there is some kind of "event" that galvanizes the protestors? Most of your army is Punjabi: Could they be counted on to crack the heads of fellow Punjabis in Lahore, if it came to that?
There's also this pesky matter of increasingly assertive Islamist militants in the North-West Frontier Province, who have repeatedly humiliated the army in recent confrontations. Your motives for declaring an emergency have been so transparently self-serving that it's easy to forget there really is a terrorist threat to the country. It may soon dawn on you that your assault on civil liberties has only ripened the conditions in which terrorists thrive.
Fortunately for you, the first two scenarios aren't likely to come to pass, and the third you'll somehow handle. Your support, both at home and abroad, may never again be what it was, but the absence of support does not necessarily mean active opposition. In your case it will probably mean reluctant acquiescence to the facts you lay on the ground. Were you a democrat, you might feel ashamed to carry on ruling that way. Soldier that you are, it won't make you lose much sleep.
Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.
Reply #145 on:
November 13, 2007, 06:25:43 AM »
And here is a completely different take, also from the WSJ:
Indira and the Islamists
By SHIKHA DALMIA
November 13, 2007
The Bush administration has so far taken only perfunctory steps to prod Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to lift "emergency rule," reinstate the constitution and hold elections. Doing anything more, the United States seems to fear, might produce an Islamist victory at the polls -- and undermine a key ally in its war on terror. In effect, the old foreign policy bogeyman of the "fear of the alternative" is back in the White House.
But at least with respect to Pakistan, this fear ought to be banished. If anything, the longer Mr. Musharraf is allowed to suspend democracy, the more politically powerful Pakistan's religious extremists are likely to become. Those who doubt this thesis should peer across Pakistan's southern border and examine what happened during India's two-year flirtation with emergency rule in 1975.
Like Mr. Musharraf, India's then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared emergency after a state high court invalidated the elections that had brought her to power, on grounds of corruption and fraud. But instead of stepping down, she gave herself extraordinary powers and launched a massive crackdown on every democratic institution that India had painstakingly built since its independence from the British in 1947. She threw leaders of opposition parties behind bars and clamped down on the press, threatening to cut off the power supply to newspapers that refused to submit to her censorship. She also banned political activity by grassroots organizations.
Shutting down these institutions had a perverse side effect from which India's secular democracy has yet to fully recover: It left the field of resistance open to Hindu extremist groups such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its then political front Jan Sangh, allowing them to regain the political legitimacy they had lost after one of their erstwhile recruits assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. The RSS was banned shortly after the assassination, but once the ban was lifted, it decentralized its organization further, making it harder for authorities to keep track of all its activities. The RSS maintained a public face of a charitable social organization, but beneath that facade lay a more sinister side that engaged in communal sectarian incitement and other subversive activities.
The RSS's quasi-underground character proved to be a vital asset after Gandhi choked off all regular channels for political organization. Unlike the other parties, Jan Sangh was quickly able to mobilize the nationwide network of RSS's "shakhas," or highly disciplined cadres, and take over the mantle of resistance. It temporarily suspended its ideology of "Hindutva," or Hindu nationalism, to make common cause with what it dubbed the "second struggle for independence." It played an important role in producing and disseminating underground literature chronicling Gandhi's excesses, publishing speeches by her opponents and reaching out to families of arrested dissidents.
The upshot was that once the emergency was lifted and elections called, Jan Sangh declared itself the savior of Indian democracy -- a boast that its successors like the Bharatiya Janata Party still make -- and won a prominent place in the coalition of secular parties that ultimately defeated Gandhi. This alliance collapsed in less than two years, thanks in no small part to Jan Sangh's sectarian demands. Nevertheless, as New York University Professor Arvind Rajagopal has noted, this brief stint in power proved an invaluable launching pad for the group's virulent ideology and did lasting damage to the country's commitment to secularism.
Indeed, although Gandhi, like her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, was an ardent secularist, after she returned to power she assiduously tried to build her Hindu bona fides, even accepting an invitation by a Hindu fundamentalist group to inaugurate the Ganga Jal Yatra, an annual event under which Hindus gather in a show of unity and collectively march to the mountains to get water from the holy Ganges river. Gandhi's gesture was significant because it legitimized the use of Hindu symbolism for political mobilization, something that subsequently produced immense tensions and ugly confrontations among Hindus and Muslims.
* * *
A similar political mainstreaming of radical Islamist groups might occur in Pakistan if Mr. Musharraf is allowed to prolong his power grab. In fact, the situation could be worse, given that, unlike India, Pakistan has never been a secular country and Islamists have always exerted considerable behind-the-scenes influence on government. They have infiltrated the Pakistani intelligence services and are well represented in the ranks of the civil bureaucracy. And there has always been close cooperation between Pakistan's generals and mullahs because of their common interest in cultivating Pakistan's Islamic identity and playing up the threat that Hindu India poses to it. The one government institution where Islamists have only a minority presence is the Pakistani Parliament.
But that might change if Mr. Musharraf continues to postpone elections and crush political opponents. Under such circumstances, Jammat-e-Islami (JI), Pakistan's oldest religious party with ties to the Taliban -- and an organization that harbors a long-standing desire to impose Shariah, or Islamic law, on the country -- and its sister organizations might well become useful to secular parties such as former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party. JI and its cohorts command even bigger powers of mobilization than Jan Sangh did during India's emergency. They run madrassas, or religious schools, publish newspapers and have sizeable cadres that can be quickly deployed for street protests. These resources might prove vitally important in resisting Mr. Musharraf.
"Instead of the secular and religious parties working against each other, they will start working together," fears Prof. Hasan-Askari Rizvi of Punjab University in Lahore. Indeed, the Associated Press has already reported that Ms. Bhutto is inviting the Islamist parties, many of whose members too have been thrown in jail, to "join hands" with her. All of this will allow the Islamists to mask their real agenda and piggyback on a popular cause to win more representation in parliament when elections are held. Even if secularists like Ms. Bhutto prevail in these elections eventually, it will be much harder for them to resist Islamist demands if they are beholden to them for beating back the emergency. In effect, the Islamist reach will not only gain in depth -- but legitimacy as well.
* * *
If Mr. Musharraf were prodded to call off the emergency and honor his commitment to hold genuinely free and transparent elections in early January, would that lead to an Islamist victory, or at least significant gains, as the Bush administration fears? Not at all.
Islamist parties had their best showing in the 2002 general elections, when they secured 11.1% of the vote and 53 out of 272 parliamentary seats -- a major gain over the pathetic three seats they won a decade before. But this gain was less serious than it seems. Most of the additional seats came not from Pakistan proper, but a few border provinces in the West that were experiencing a resurgence of anti-Americanism given their deep cross-border ties with the Taliban in Afghanistan. More crucially, however, Mr. Musharraf banned Ms. Bhutto and leaders of other secular parties from running, making it hard for these parties to secure a decent voter turnout. If free and fair elections were to be held today, Prof. Rizvi estimates secular parties would win handily, with the Islamists commanding no more than 5% of the national vote.
Islamist victory at the polls is not a real threat in Pakistan right now. The Bush administration should not allow that fear to deter it from applying maximum pressure on Mr. Musharraf to hold elections posthaste. The U.S. can, for instance, threaten to cut off Pakistan's supply of F-16 fighter jets and other nonterrorism-related aid.
India's example shows that even one vacation from democracy can be a huge setback for secularism. Yet another prolonged suspension of democracy will leave Pakistan few resources to beat back its Islamists. This is one instance where the Bush administration's avowed commitment to democracy is not just the more principled -- but also the more practical -- way of countering the threat of Islamic extremists.
Ms. Dalmia is a senior analyst at Reason Foundation, a Los Angeles-based think tank.
Reply #146 on:
November 17, 2007, 08:00:31 PM »
NYT: U.S. has highly classified program to help safeguard Pakistani nukesposted at 3:35 pm on November 17, 2007 by Allahpundit
Send to a Friend | printer-friendly The least surprising surprise since Ehud Olmert accidentally let slip that Israel has nukes. To its credit, the Times evidently sat on the story for three years in the interests of security; only after the Pakistanis themselves started talking about it and the administration dropped its objection to publishing details are they moving forward.
As with all other forms of military aid to Pakistan, we’re getting very little bang for our buck.
November 18, 2007
U.S. Secretly Aids Pakistan in Guarding Nuclear Arms
By DAVID E. SANGER and WILLIAM J. BROAD
WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 — Over the past six years, the Bush administration has spent almost $100 million so far on a highly classified program to help Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, secure his country’s nuclear weapons, according to current and former senior administration officials.
But with the future of that country’s leadership in doubt, debate is intensifying about whether Washington has done enough to help protect the warheads and laboratories, and whether Pakistan’s reluctance to reveal critical details about its arsenal has undercut the effectiveness of the continuing security effort.
The aid, buried in secret portions of the federal budget, paid for the training of Pakistani personnel in the United States and the construction of a nuclear security training center in Pakistan, a facility that American officials say is nowhere near completion, even though it was supposed to be in operation this year.
A raft of equipment — from helicopters to night-vision goggles to nuclear detection equipment — was given to Pakistan to help secure its nuclear material, its warheads, and the laboratories that were the site of the worst known case of nuclear proliferation in the atomic age.
While American officials say that they believe the arsenal is safe at the moment, and that they take at face value Pakistani assurances that security is vastly improved, in many cases the Pakistani government has been reluctant to show American officials how or where the gear is actually used.
That is because the Pakistanis do not want to reveal the locations of their weapons or the amount or type of new bomb-grade fuel the country is now producing.
The American program was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the Bush administration debated whether to share with Pakistan one of the crown jewels of American nuclear protection technology, known as “permissive action links,” or PALS, a system used to keep a weapon from detonating without proper codes and authorizations.
In the end, despite past federal aid to France and Russia on delicate points of nuclear security, the administration decided that it could not share the system with the Pakistanis because of legal restrictions.
In addition, the Pakistanis were suspicious that any American-made technology in their warheads could include a secret “kill switch,” enabling the Americans to turn off their weapons.
While many nuclear experts in the federal government favored offering the PALS system because they considered Pakistan’s arsenal among the world’s most vulnerable to terrorist groups, some administration officials feared that sharing the technology would teach Pakistan too much about American weaponry. The same concern kept the Clinton administration from sharing the technology with China in the early 1990s.
The New York Times has known details of the secret program for more than three years, based on interviews with a range of American officials and nuclear experts, some of whom were concerned that Pakistan’s arsenal remained vulnerable. The newspaper agreed to delay publication of the article after considering a request from the Bush administration, which argued that premature disclosure could hurt the effort to secure the weapons.
Since then, some elements of the program have been discussed in the Pakistani news media and in a presentation late last year by the leader of Pakistan’s nuclear safety effort, Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai, who acknowledged receiving “international” help as he sought to assure Washington that all of the holes in Pakistan’s nuclear security infrastructure had been sealed.
The Times told the administration last week that it was reopening its examination of the program in light of those disclosures and the current instability in Pakistan. Early this week, the White House withdrew its request that publication be withheld, though it was unwilling to discuss details of the program.
The secret program was designed by the Energy Department and the State Department, and it drew heavily from the effort over the past decade to secure nuclear weapons, stockpiles and materials in Russia and other former Soviet states. Much of the money for Pakistan was spent on physical security, like fencing and surveillance systems, and equipment for tracking nuclear material if it left secure areas.
But while Pakistan is formally considered a “major non-NATO ally,” the program has been hindered by a deep suspicion among Pakistan’s military that the secret goal of the United States was to gather intelligence about how to locate and, if necessary, disable Pakistan’s arsenal, which is the pride of the country.
“Everything has taken far longer than it should,” a former official involved in the program said in a recent interview, “and you are never sure what you really accomplished.”
In recent days, American officials have expressed confidence that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is well secured. “I don’t see any indication right now that security of those weapons is in jeopardy, but clearly we are very watchful, as we should be,” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon news conference on Thursday.
Admiral Mullen’s carefully chosen words, a senior administration official said, were based on two separate intelligence assessments issued this month that had been summarized in briefings to Mr. Bush. Both concluded that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was safe under current conditions, and one also looked at laboratories and came to the same conclusion.
Still, the Pakistani government’s reluctance to release information has limited efforts to assess the situation. In particular, some American experts say they have less ability to look into the nuclear laboratories where highly enriched uranium is produced — including the laboratory named for Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man who sold Pakistan’s nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.
So far, the amount the United States has spent on the classified nuclear security program, less than $100 million, amounts to slightly less than one percent of the roughly $10 billion in known American aid to Pakistan since the Sept. 11 attacks. Most of that money has gone for assistance in counterterrorism activities against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
The debate over sharing nuclear security technology began just before then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was sent to Islamabad after the Sept. 11 attacks, as the United States was preparing to invade Afghanistan.
“There were a lot of people who feared that once we headed into Afghanistan, the Taliban would be looking for these weapons,” said a senior official who was involved. But a legal analysis found that aiding Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program — even if it was just with protective gear — would violate both international and American law.
General Musharraf, in his memoir, “In the Line of Fire,” published last year, did not discuss any equipment, training or technology offered then, but wrote: “We were put under immense pressure by the United States regarding our nuclear and missile arsenal. The Americans’ concerns were based on two grounds. First, at this time they were not very sure of my job security, and they dreaded the possibility that an extremist successor government might get its hands on our strategic nuclear arsenal. Second, they doubted our ability to safeguard our assets.”
General Musharraf was more specific in an interview two years ago for a Times documentary, “Nuclear Jihad: Can Terrorists Get the Bomb?” Asked about the equipment and training provided by Washington, he said, “Frankly, I really don’t know the details.” But he added: “This is an extremely sensitive matter in Pakistan. We don’t allow any foreign intrusion in our facilities. But, at the same time, we guarantee that the custodial arrangements that we brought about and implemented are already the best in the world.”
Now that concern about General Musharraf’s ability to remain in power has been rekindled, so has the debate inside and outside the Bush administration about how much the program accomplished, and what it left unaccomplished. A second phase of the program, which would provide more equipment, helicopters and safety devices, is already being discussed in the administration, but its dimensions have not been determined.
Harold M. Agnew, a former director of the Los Alamos weapons laboratory, which designed most of the United States’ nuclear arms, argued that recent federal reluctance to share warhead security technology was making the world more dangerous.
“Lawyers say it’s classified,” Dr. Agnew said in an interview. “That’s nonsense. We should share this technology. Anybody who joins the club should be helped to get this.”
“Whether it’s India or Pakistan or China or Iran,” he added, “the most important thing is that you want to make sure there is no unauthorized use. You want to make sure that the guys who have their hands on the weapons can’t use them without proper authorization.”
In the past, officials say, the United States has shared ideas — but not technologies — about how to make the safeguards that lie at the heart of American weapons security. The system hinges on what is essentially a switch in the firing circuit that requires the would-be user to enter a numeric code that starts a timer for the weapon’s arming and detonation.
Most switches disable themselves if the sequence of numbers entered turns out to be incorrect in a fixed number of tries, much like a bank ATM does. In some cases, the disabled link sets off a small explosion in the warhead to render it useless. Delicate design details involve how to bury the link deep inside a weapon to keep terrorists or enemies from disabling the safeguard.
The most famous case of nuclear idea sharing involves France. Starting in the early 1970s, the United States government began a series of highly secretive discussions with French scientists to help them improve the country’s warheads.
A potential impediment to such sharing was the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which bars cooperation between nations on weapons technology.
To get around such legal prohibitions, Washington came up with a system of “negative guidance,” sometimes called “20 questions,” as detailed in a 1989 article in Foreign Policy. The system let United States scientists listen to French descriptions of warhead approaches and give guidance about whether the French were on the right track.
Nuclear experts say sharing also took place after the cold war when the United States worried about the security of Russian nuclear arms and facilities. In that case, both countries declassified warhead information to expedite the transfer of safety and security information, according to federal nuclear scientists.
But in the case of China, which has possessed nuclear weapons since the 1960s and is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Clinton administration decided that sharing PALS would be too risky. Experts inside the administration feared the technology would improve the Chinese warheads, and could give the Chinese insights into how American systems worked.
Officials said Washington debated sharing security techniques with Pakistan on at least two occasions — right after it detonated its first nuclear arms in 1998, and after the terrorist attack on the United States in 2001.
The debates pitted atomic scientists who favored technical sharing against federal officials at such places as the State Department who ruled that the transfers were illegal under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and under United States law.
In the 1998 case, the Clinton administration still hoped it could roll back Pakistan’s nuclear program, forcing it to give up the weapons it had developed. That hope, never seen as very realistic, has been entirely given up by the Bush administration.
The nuclear proliferation conducted by Mr. Khan, the Pakistani metallurgist who built a huge network to spread Pakistani technology, convinced the Pakistanis that they needed better protections.
“Among the places in the world that we have to make sure we have done the maximum we can do, Pakistan is at the top of the list,” said John E. McLaughlin, who served as deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, and played a crucial role in the intelligence collection that led to Mr. Khan’s downfall.
“I am confident of two things,” he added. “That the Pakistanis are very serious about securing this material, but also that someone in Pakistan is very intent on getting their hands on it.”
Last Edit: November 17, 2007, 08:04:55 PM by Crafty_Dog
Reply #147 on:
November 18, 2007, 08:02:17 AM »
Pakistan’s Collapse, Our Problem
By FREDERICK W. KAGAN and MICHAEL O’HANLON
Published: November 18, 2007
AS the government of Pakistan totters, we must face a fact: the United States simply could not stand by as a nuclear-armed Pakistan descended into the abyss. Nor would it be strategically prudent to withdraw our forces from an improving situation in Iraq to cope with a deteriorating one in Pakistan. We need to think — now — about our feasible military options in Pakistan, should it really come to that.
We do not intend to be fear mongers. Pakistan’s officer corps and ruling elites remain largely moderate and more interested in building a strong, modern state than in exporting terrorism or nuclear weapons to the highest bidder. But then again, Americans felt similarly about the shah’s regime in Iran until it was too late.
Moreover, Pakistan’s intelligence services contain enough sympathizers and supporters of the Afghan Taliban, and enough nationalists bent on seizing the disputed province of Kashmir from India, that there are grounds for real worries.
The most likely possible dangers are these: a complete collapse of Pakistani government rule that allows an extreme Islamist movement to fill the vacuum; a total loss of federal control over outlying provinces, which splinter along ethnic and tribal lines; or a struggle within the Pakistani military in which the minority sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda try to establish Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism.
All possible military initiatives to avoid those possibilities are daunting. With 160 million people, Pakistan is more than five times the size of Iraq. It would take a long time to move large numbers of American forces halfway across the world. And unless we had precise information about the location of all of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and materials, we could not rely on bombing or using Special Forces to destroy them.
The task of stabilizing a collapsed Pakistan is beyond the means of the United States and its allies. Rule-of-thumb estimates suggest that a force of more than a million troops would be required for a country of this size. Thus, if we have any hope of success, we would have to act before a complete government collapse, and we would need the cooperation of moderate Pakistani forces.
One possible plan would be a Special Forces operation with the limited goal of preventing Pakistan’s nuclear materials and warheads from getting into the wrong hands. Given the degree to which Pakistani nationalists cherish these assets, it is unlikely the United States would get permission to destroy them. Somehow, American forces would have to team with Pakistanis to secure critical sites and possibly to move the material to a safer place.
For the United States, the safest bet would be shipping the material to someplace like New Mexico; but even pro-American Pakistanis would be unlikely to cooperate. More likely, we would have to settle for establishing a remote redoubt within Pakistan, with the nuclear technology guarded by elite Pakistani forces backed up (and watched over) by crack international troops. It is realistic to think that such a mission might be undertaken within days of a decision to act. The price for rapid action and secrecy, however, would probably be a very small international coalition.
A second, broader option would involve supporting the core of the Pakistani armed forces as they sought to hold the country together in the face of an ineffective government, seceding border regions and Al Qaeda and Taliban assassination attempts against the leadership. This would require a sizable combat force — not only from the United States, but ideally also other Western powers and moderate Muslim nations.
Even if we were not so committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Western powers would need months to get the troops there. Fortunately, given the longstanding effectiveness of Pakistan’s security forces, any process of state decline probably would be gradual, giving us the time to act.
So, if we got a large number of troops into the country, what would they do? The most likely directive would be to help Pakistan’s military and security forces hold the country’s center — primarily the region around the capital, Islamabad, and the populous areas like Punjab Province to its south.
We would also have to be wary of internecine warfare within the Pakistani security forces. Pro-American moderates could well win a fight against extremist sympathizers on their own. But they might need help if splinter forces or radical Islamists took control of parts of the country containing crucial nuclear materials. The task of retaking any such regions and reclaiming custody of any nuclear weapons would be a priority for our troops.
If a holding operation in the nation’s center was successful, we would probably then seek to establish order in the parts of Pakistan where extremists operate. Beyond propping up the state, this would benefit American efforts in Afghanistan by depriving terrorists of the sanctuaries they have long enjoyed in Pakistan’s tribal and frontier regions.
The great paradox of the post-cold war world is that we are both safer, day to day, and in greater peril than before. There was a time when volatility in places like Pakistan was mostly a humanitarian worry; today it is as much a threat to our basic security as Soviet tanks once were. We must be militarily and diplomatically prepared to keep ourselves safe in such a world. Pakistan may be the next big test.
Frederick W. Kagan is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Michael O’Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Reply #148 on:
December 04, 2007, 02:08:55 PM »
With the Afghan Army
By ANN MARLOWE
December 4, 2007; Page A20
The half dozen cadets at the National Military Academy of Afghanistan stood straight and tall in the cramped room they share with six others. I asked, "Are you worried about graduating and going to fight the Taliban?" They smiled. "If you are afraid, you are not here," one said in English.
Seeing these self-assured young men, each of whom has beat out five others for one of the 300 places in the freshman class, it's not hard to understand why the Afghan National Army is one of the unqualified success stories of coalition nation-building efforts. "Since April, the ANA has not lost an engagement with the insurgency," says Col. Martin Schweitzer, commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, in six eastern Afghan provinces. A 2006 survey showed that 91% of Afghans in the volatile eastern provinces had "a lot" or "some" confidence in the ANA.
Beginning in 2002 with a few dozen officers, the ANA is now 50,000 strong. Most have come through the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC), which currently puts 5,000 men at a time through a 10-week Basic Warrior Training course modeled on the program at Fort Benning, Ga. A kandak, or battalion, of 1,000 soldiers leaves to fight every two weeks, each one deploying as a unit in a province where security is iffy. Just two corps of the army are in the stable northern and western provinces; three are in the south and east.
The KMTC replaces academies that ceased to function during the war years, and represents a sea change in Afghan military culture. Instructors are no longer allowed to hit the students, and the laws of war are taught early on. Drill is kept to a minimum -- "just enough for them to be soldiers," as Brigadier Tim Allen, who mentors the ANA training command, puts it -- with the focus on maneuvers.
The KMTC retains some distinctively Afghan aspects. One is the attention paid to ethnic balance. Another is basic literacy training. After four weeks of training, soldiers are tested for literacy in their mother tongue (Dari or Pashto) and sent for instruction accordingly. The most recent kandak to pass through was just 30% literate at the four-week mark; trainers admit that the 10-week course isn't long enough to bring everyone up to full literacy. NCOs must be literate to enter training.
According to Maj. Jim Fisher, a reservist and the senior U.S. mentor for Basic Warrior Training, the dropout percentages are in the low 20s. Not every recruit has what it takes, and some soldiers turn out to have left home without telling their families, who find out and implore them to return. Others turn out to be under the age minimum, 17. And some, faced with a deployment in a dangerous area in a remote province, instead elect to join the Afghan National Police near their homes. This option has grown in popularity lately, since police salaries are due to reach parity with the army in January.
In some eastern and southern provinces, recruits face Taliban intimidation. Many recruits admitted to me that they do not wear their uniforms home on vacation.
Officers follow a different path. A British-run officer training school, established in 2006 and based on Sandhurst, has graduated around 100 high school and college graduates. Now it is taking in 130 men in each class with a target output of 102 second lieutenants after the program.
The 630-student National Military Academy of Afghanistan (NMAA) is the gem of the system. Founded in March 2005 and modeled on West Point, it's currently admitting classes of 300 cadets and expecting a 25% attrition rate. It will admit women as 10% of the student body in 2011, when female dorms are ready. The applicant pool has been steadily rising, mainly by word of mouth, with 1,200 applying last year and 1,800 this year. All the professors are Afghan, with the exception of the instructors in foreign languages.
Everything at the NMAA is geared to producing a national army free of regional and ethnic biases. Even their living quarters take ethnic and regional balance into account. In one random dormitory room I visited, the 12 cadets came from all over the country. In fact, these young men have been so well drilled that random questions about unrelated issues are apt to include a reference to the fact that "we are one Army for all of Afghanistan."
ANA officer pay is decent by Afghan standards, but, as in the U.S., money would not be anyone's primary motivation. A brigadier general makes $580 a month, a major $330, a second lieutenant $210. The cadets I met seemed driven by patriotism and, in many cases, family tradition: As at West Point, many cadets have relatives who are officers.
Col. Scott Hamilton, a graduate of West Point and a civil engineering professor there, terms the achievement "staggering." "Imagine starting a four-year liberal arts college from scratch," he says. "And then imagine that in Afghanistan."
Ms. Marlowe is the author of "The Book of Trouble" (Harcourt, 2006), a memoir.
Reply #149 on:
December 27, 2007, 11:04:45 PM »
The death of Benazir Bhutto will probably spell the end of the Musharraf regime if for no other reason than that he could not protect her. If he does step down, hopefully General Ashfaq Kiyani will stabilize the country until elections can be held. General Kiyani however will also be a target for Al Qaeda because he is even more friendly to the West than Musharraf. The Pakistani army was just recently handed over to General Kiyani as Musharraf stepped down from his military post.
Kiyani was Bhutto's deputy military secretary when she was Prime Minister in the 80's. And he was Musharraf's director of Inter Services Intelligence. Kiyani had close ties with the U.S. intelligence agencies and was a graduate of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth Kansas. He is definitely the guy we want in charge of maintaining order and keeping Pakistan's nukes safe.
On a personal note It really sadden me when I heard Benazir Bhutto had been killed. In all the interviews I saw of her she seemed sincere in her efforts to improve the lives of the Pakistani people. She was a very serious, intelligent lady with a sense of humor and warmth that showed through when she was answering very difficult questions. She would have been a strong ally in the War on Terror and to the West in general. She had degrees from both Harvard and Oxford. The free world cannot afford to lose friends like her. Of course that is the reason she was a target.
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