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Author Topic: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan  (Read 408535 times)
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Posts: 309

« Reply #1050 on: July 16, 2011, 09:47:48 AM »

The thing is that the taliban are against vaccination any way, and Pak is one of the few countries in the world with a high polio rate. One can safely assume that vaccinations will reduce markedly in Pak...

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

Saeed Shah in Abbottabad,    Monday 11 July 2011 19.59 BST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The CIA refused to comment on the vaccination plot.
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« Reply #1051 on: July 16, 2011, 09:52:17 AM »

It would be a shame if an enemy state unleashed a bioweapon....  How's India's biotech industry these days?
Power User
Posts: 309

« Reply #1052 on: July 16, 2011, 10:14:13 AM »

India is not a leader in biotech...but all industries are improving in India. More of contract manufacturing of generics. from a semi sane Paki..

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

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

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

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

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

Pakistan and America should put their interests and concerns squarely on the table and abstain from airing their political differences or applying countervailing pressures through the media. America's carrot-and-stick policy won't yield dividends with Pakistan just as Pakistan's "double-game" breaches the trust red-line and mocks its "strategic" relations with America. Washington's plans for Afghanistan must not exclude Mullah Umar and the Haqqani network just as Islamabad's plans must not be exclusively based on them. In fact, America and Pakistan must not stake their all on the end-game in Afghanistan because its final outcome holds no guarantees for either of them.
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« Reply #1053 on: July 16, 2011, 10:53:14 AM »


If you were the American Commander in Chief, what would you have us do?

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Posts: 309

« Reply #1054 on: July 16, 2011, 01:31:15 PM »

Not having any intelligence estimates or knowing the full capabilities of US intelligence, nor what the real US interests in the region might be...its kind of difficult. But assuming the US goal is to stop terrorism, these are the broad areas that i would push for.

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

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

Once they lose the "tribes" as proxy for use against India, a much chastened pak can be pressurized to give up nukes. The Balochistan card can be played at this stage, one can easily force a blockade of Karachi harbor if Pak does not give up nukes. At this stage the US must be willing to use overwhelming force if the pakis dont give up nukes.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2011, 01:36:18 PM by ya » Logged
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« Reply #1055 on: July 19, 2011, 09:20:04 PM »
US exposes ISI subversion of Kashmir issue; FBI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fai and the KAC have received at least $4 million from the Pakistani government since the mid-1990s through Ahmad and his funding network, the FBI said. The money is allegedly routed to Fai through Ahmad and a network of other individuals connected to Ahmad. Ahmad allegedly arranges for his contacts in the United States to provide money to Fai in return for repayment of those amounts in Pakistan.
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« Reply #1056 on: July 19, 2011, 11:50:08 PM »

Nary a peep from the Pravdas on that , , ,

Turning now to Afg,

Two Prominent Southern Officials Killed

Jan Mohammad Khan, Afghanistan’s senior presidential adviser on tribal affairs, was assassinated July 17 at his home in Kabul at around 8 p.m. Khan, the former governor of Uruzgan province, was killed along with lawmaker Hashim Atanwal and three other people when a suicide bomber and three gunmen attacked Khan’s home in the Karte Char area of the city. Though the Taliban claimed responsibility, Afghan lawmaker Mohammad Daud Kalakani blamed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate for the killings. Khan’s assassination comes less than a week after the  death of Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and head of the Kandahar provincial council, who was assassinated July 12 at his home in Kandahar city by Sardar Mohammad. Mohammad, who was a close associate of the Karzai family for the last seven to eight years in his capacity as the commander of all security posts in and around the town of Karz, the home city of the Karzai family, shot Karzai several times before being killed by his bodyguards.

The deaths of two government officials with strong influence in the southern provinces — the Taliban’s core territory — could have  serious implications for the Afghan government and its ability to conduct business in the south.

Being closely affiliated with the Karzai family and the head of security, Mohammad was a frequent visitor at Ahmed Wali Karzai’s house, making it possible for him to bypass security while carrying a weapon. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, asserting that Mohammad was a Taliban agent (a routine and expected Taliban response, whether they were responsible or not), but it is far from clear whether this was the case. Mohammad and Karzai had a long-standing association and there were myriad licit and illicit activities in which Karzai was involved that could have provoked personal, criminal or other motivations for the killing.

Given that Karzai was a high-profile government official, he would have had tight security around him that would have been difficult for the Taliban to penetrate. Additionally, it seems unlikely that Mohammad would choose to work with the Taliban after being loyal to the Karzai family for several years. Mohammad likely would have known that Karzai had protection and that he would be killed in the process of assassinating him, making the act more likely motivated for personal rather than ideological reasons. Acting Kandahar police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq stated that the involvement of foreign circles could not be ruled out. Several suspects were detained and interrogated in relation to the assassination. Later reports from STRATFOR sources indicate that the assassination might be the result of a feud over finances arising from coalition contracts.

Later, during the funeral service for Karzai held at Red Mosque in Kandahar city on July 14, a suicide bomber staged an attack. The explosive device, hidden in the turban of the suicide bomber, killed Mawlawi Hekmatullah Hekmat, the head of the religious council in Kandahar, along with four other people. It remains unclear if Hekmat was the intended target. There are conflicting reports about the presence of Hamid Karzai at the funeral service, and if the Afghan president did attend he may have been the intended target. It is also possible that the attack may not have been aimed at any particular official at all, but instead may have targeted the large crowd of mourners gathered at the service.

This is a critical time for Hamid Karzai’s government, which is currently trying to hold talks with the Taliban in an effort to move toward a political accommodation and a negotiated settlement as foreign troops begin pulling out of the country. This does not necessarily mean that the Taliban will immediately have more room to operate in the absence of the Ahmed Wali Karzai and Khan. Much will depend on the ability of Karzai’s replacement to step into the role and wield power through the relationships and networks Karzai built for himself as well as the replacement’s ability to take the government’s relationship with the Taliban in a new direction. What is clear, however, is that the process of political transition is being forced upon Hamid Karzai’s regime through assassination in a key area of the country at a decisive time, and Kabul has work to do in reconsolidating what position it did have in the south under the president’s half-brother.

Transfer of Power

The targeted killings of three Afghan political figures — Khan, Ahmed Wali Karzai and then Hekmat at Karzai’s funeral — in a week’s time come as NATO is preparing to hand power to local Afghan forces in the northern province of Bamiyan. Additionally, 1,000 soldiers from two National Guard regiments at the Bagram Air Base in Parwan are scheduled to start withdrawing this month. Bamiyan is the first of seven locations that will make up the first phase transferring security responsibility to Afghan forces. The first phase of withdrawal will involve the transfer of power in the provinces of Panjshir, Kabul (aside from the restive Surobi district) and the cities of Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Lashkar Gah and Mehtar Lam.

(click here to enlarge image)
All of these locations are relatively calm and have been largely secured by Afghan security forces for some time now. The transfer is a slow and measured process, but it will be important to watch the evolution of the standard for transfers and any potential shortening of timetables associated with the process as well as how sustainable security gains prove as International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops begin to pull back from key areas.

Meanwhile, Gen. David Petraeus, who will be the next director of the CIA, handed over command of the ISAF and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan to Marine Lt. Gen. John Allen on July 18. STRATFOR believes and has argued that this is more than a personnel change — it is the retirement of a key architect and principal proponent of the counterinsurgency-focused strategy currently being pursued. His replacement by a commander no doubt carefully vetted by the White House is beginning to show signs of how the appointment is intended to reshape and redefine the strategy for the war. The war in Afghanistan appears to be moving away from a focus on counterinsurgency and toward a counterterrorism approach, and Petraeus’ military experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and his newly appointed position are likely to help with that transition.

Read more: Afghanistan Weekly War Update: Losing Influence in the Taliban Core? | STRATFOR
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« Reply #1057 on: July 25, 2011, 06:52:57 PM »

the psychoanalysis of pakistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pakistan’s search for reflection began anew; a search that he ensured was always a never-ending spiral, where the journey itself is enacted only to avoid the destination. The therapist wondered who Pakistan would be if she were to meet him after some time; she wasn’t even sure if she would recognize him. She held the notebook tightly next to her chest and walked off determined to hold on to her diagnosis, if nothing else. And yet, she knew that in spite of all that he had endured (and inflicted) he had still lived to tell the tale. A survivor and stubborn to the core, she knew he’d be back. And while he wouldn’t be pretty for his pains, she knew, irrationally, that she might just like to see him again.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, July 24th,  2011.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2011, 06:57:47 PM by ya » Logged
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« Reply #1058 on: July 31, 2011, 08:58:49 AM »

"We are all human. God created us from one dirt. Why can we not marry each other, or love each other?"
HALIMA MOHAMMEDI, an Afghan teenager whose love for another teenager, Rafi Mohammed, set off a riot by flouting their village's tradition of arranged marriages.

"What we would ask is that the government should kill both of them."
KHER MOHAMMED, her father.

HERAT, Afghanistan — The two teenagers met inside an ice cream factory through darting glances before roll call, murmured hellos as supervisors looked away and, finally, a phone number folded up and tossed discreetly onto the workroom floor.

Times Topic: Afghanistan
Enlarge This Image

Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
A car burned by a crowd during a riot that took place after the police rescued two teenagers from a group of men who had demanded that they be hanged or stoned for their relationship.
It was the beginning of an Afghan love story that flouted dominant traditions of arranged marriages and close family scrutiny, a romance between two teenagers of different ethnicities that tested a village’s tolerance for more modern whims of the heart. The results were delivered with brutal speed.

This month, a group of men spotted the couple riding together in a car, yanked them into the road and began to interrogate the boy and girl. Why were they together? What right had they? An angry crowd of 300 surged around them, calling them adulterers and demanding that they be stoned to death or hanged.

When security forces swooped in and rescued the couple, the mob’s anger exploded. They overwhelmed the local police, set fire to cars and stormed a police station six miles from the center of Herat, raising questions about the strength of law in a corner of western Afghanistan and in one of the first cities that has made the formal transition to Afghan-led security.

The riot, which lasted for hours, ended with one man dead, a police station charred and the two teenagers, Halima Mohammedi and her boyfriend, Rafi Mohammed, confined to juvenile prison. Officially, their fates lie in the hands of an unsteady legal system. But they face harsher judgments of family and community.

Ms. Mohammedi’s uncle visited her in jail to say she had shamed the family, and promised that they would kill her once she was released. Her father, an illiterate laborer who works in Iran, sorrowfully concurred. He cried during two visits to the jail, saying almost nothing to his daughter. Blood, he said, was perhaps the only way out.

“What we would ask is that the government should kill both of them,” said the father, Kher Mohammed.

The teenagers, embarrassed to talk about love, said plainly that they were ready for death. But they were baffled by why they should have to be killed.

Mr. Mohammed, who is 17, said: “I feel so bad. I just pray that God gives this girl back to me. I’m ready to lose my life. I just want her safe release.”

Ms. Mohammedi, who believes she is 17, said: “We are all human. God created us from one dirt. Why can we not marry each other, or love each other?”

The case has resonated in Herat, in part because it stirred memories of a brutal stoning ordered by the Taliban last summer in northern Afghanistan.

A young couple in Kunduz was stoned to death by scores of people — including family members — after they eloped. The stoning marked a brutal application of Shariah law, captured on a video recording released online months later. Afghan officials promised to investigate after an international outcry, but no one has faced criminal charges.

The immediate response to the violence in Herat was heartening by comparison. Top clerics declined to condemn the couple. Police officers risked their lives to pull the two teenagers to safety and deposit them into the legal system, rather than the hands of angry relatives. And the police reported that five or six girls had fled the city with their boyfriends and fiancés in the weeks after the riot.

After discussing the case, the provincial council decided that Mr. Mohammed and Ms. Mohammedi deserved the government’s protection because neither was engaged, and because each said they wanted to get married.

“They are not criminals, even if they have committed sexual activities,” said Abdul Zahir, the council’s leader.

But so far, their words have not freed either of the teenagers or lent them any long-term security.

Ms. Mohammedi was initially taken to the only women’s shelter in this province of more than 1.5 million people, but the police transferred her quickly to the city’s juvenile detention center, a sun-washed building where about 40 girls and 40 boys sleep in separate dormitories. The police said they had referred the teenagers’ cases to prosecutors.

“From their point of view, she committed a crime,” said Suraya Pakzad, director of Voices of Women Organization, a rights group that provided Ms. Mohammedi with a bed for one night.
Enlarge This Image

Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
The girl's father, Kher Mohammed, with his head in his hand, wants the government to kill her and her boyfriend.

Times Topic: Afghanistan
Ms. Pakzad said most of the women and girls in the shelters of western Afghanistan had fled forced or abusive marriages, or had been ostracized from their communities for dating young men without their families’ approval. Male relatives often punish such transgressions with beatings or death.

But in separate interviews at the juvenile jail, Ms. Mohammedi and Mr. Mohammed said they had not worried about such things.

He did not think about the rage that would erupt if a young Tajik man picked up a Hazara girl in a neighborhood dominated by conservative Hazaras, members of one of Afghanistan’s many ethnic minorities. “It’s the heart,” Mr. Mohammed said. “When you love somebody, you don’t ask who she is or what she is. You just go for it.”

They had much in common. His father was dead, as was her mother. They described each other as quiet and polite, both a little shy. They liked the same sappy songs that float over from Iran.

After six years of primary school, Ms. Mohammedi had wanted to study English and take computer classes, but she said her family told her it was a waste of time, and sent her to work at the ice cream factory, for $95 a month.

There, at least, they found each other. Mr. Mohammed spent a month stealing hellos before Ms. Mohammedi tossed her phone number at his feet.

The couple talked on the phone most nights, even though her stepmother disapproved. After a year, they decided they were fed up with hiding their relationship. They would meet, go to the courthouse and get married. Mr. Mohammed persuaded an older cousin to take him to the village of Jabrail, where she was waiting in the town square.

They had not driven 30 feet when a yellow Toyota Corolla blocked their path and angry men jumped out. Ms. Mohammedi was not hurt in the melee that followed, but the crowd beat up the cousin and pummeled Mr. Mohammed until he collapsed.

“We knew they would kill us,” she said.

They now spend the days at opposite ends of the same juvenile jail, out of each other’s sight. Mr. Mohammed nurses the wounds still visible in his swollen face and blood-laced eyes, and Ms. Mohammedi has been going to classes and learning to tailor clothes.

Both say they want to be together, but there are complications. Family members of the man killed in the riot sent word to Ms. Mohammedi that she bears the blame for his death. But they offered her an out: Marry one of their other sons, and her debt would be paid.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2011, 09:03:00 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #1059 on: July 31, 2011, 09:43:51 AM »

It's a beautiful, wonderful culture.
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« Reply #1060 on: August 02, 2011, 05:17:55 AM »
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« Reply #1061 on: August 02, 2011, 08:20:17 PM »

Interesting article..
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« Reply #1062 on: August 02, 2011, 08:27:50 PM »

Hey Ya, who is sponsoring the ETM in Pakistan?
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« Reply #1063 on: August 05, 2011, 04:31:52 AM »

August 5, 2011


On Wednesday, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman
said a political settlement in Afghanistan was not possible without assistance from
Pakistan. Separately, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Javid Ludin said Kabul wanted
Islamabad to bring the senior leadership of the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating
table. Both statements were made in Islamabad on the sidelines of a meeting of the
three countries.

These remarks represent the first time that either Washington or Kabul has openly
and directly sought Pakistani help in the efforts to negotiate with the Afghan
jihadist movement. Thus far, the Americans and Afghans have only demanded that the
Pakistanis crack down on Afghan Taliban operating in their territory. Pakistan has
long awaited the time when the U.S. government would engage in this policy shift.

"Any American search for Pakistani involvement in the Afghan reconciliation efforts
cannot be separated from this wider atmosphere of tensions."

From Islamabad's point of view, it made no sense for the Americans to keep pressing
Pakistan to use force against the Taliban when the Americans themselves would
eventually have to seek a political settlement. The Pakistanis have questioned why
they should have to fight the Afghan Taliban and lose their leverage over the
Islamist insurgents, especially while Islamabad fights its own Taliban rebels.
Therefore, Pakistan is likely pleased that the Americans have finally sought its
involvement in efforts to talk to the Afghan Taliban.
Islamabad, however, cannot be completely confident that things are moving in its
preferred direction. The United States seeks Pakistani assistance in the
reconciliation efforts toward the Taliban at a time when the American-Pakistani
relationship is mired in unprecedented tensions. The U.S. drive toward unilateral
military and intelligence capabilities in Pakistan has fostered mutual mistrust and
Any American search for Pakistani involvement in the Afghan reconciliation efforts
cannot be separated from this wider atmosphere of tensions. While Washington may
have decided to involve Islamabad in the Afghan political settlement process, there
remains a disagreement over the definition of who among the Taliban is capable of
reconciliation. Though Kabul has asked Pakistan to encourage top Taliban leaders
toward the bargaining table, it is unlikely that the likes of Taliban chief Mullah
Mohammad Omar or the most prominent regional Taliban commander, Sirajuddin Haqqani
(both have enjoyed complex relations with al Qaeda), will be acceptable to
Washington as negotiating partners.
Also, the degree of influence Pakistan holds over senior Afghan Taliban leaders is
questionable. Over the past decade, the fragmentation and metamorphosis of the
Taliban phenomenon on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border have led to a waning
of Pakistani influence over the Pashtun jihadist landscape. The insurgency inside
Pakistan has weakened Islamabad's position; it remains to be seen to what degree
Islamabad can deliver vis-à-vis the Afghan Taliban.
This waning could explain why the Pakistanis have openly said that they do not seek
a Taliban comeback in Afghanistan and Islamabad. Islamabad has been trying to
diversify its sphere of influence in its western neighbor, working to improve its
relationship with the regime of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. With relations with
Kabul still uncertain and Pashtun influence perhaps softening, Pakistan may find it
difficult to nudge the Taliban toward a power-sharing deal with the Karzai regime.

The United States appears to have finally moved toward involving Pakistan in its
talks with the Taliban. However, it will be awhile before the appropriate conditions
(in which substantive talks could take place) can be created.
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« Reply #1064 on: August 06, 2011, 12:12:25 PM »

**I'd be willing to bet this was an ISI op. I have no evidence to back this up, but if I was investigating this, that's the first place I'd look.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A military helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan, killing 31 U.S. special operation troops, most of them from the elite Navy SEALs unit that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, along with seven Afghan commandos. It was the deadliest single incident for American forces in the decade-long war.

The Taliban claimed they downed the helicopter with rocket fire while it was taking part in a raid on a house where insurgents were gathered in the province of Wardak late Friday. It said wreckage of the craft was strewn at the scene. A senior U.S. administration official in Washington said the craft was apparently shot down by insurgents. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the crash is still being investigated.

NATO confirmed the overnight crash took place and that there "was enemy activity in the area." But it said it was still investigating the cause and conducting a recovery operation at the site. It did not release details or casualty figures.

"We are in the process of accessing the facts," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Justin Brockhoff, a NATO spokesman.

One current and one former U.S. official said that the dead included more than 20 Navy SEALs from SEAL Team Six, the unit that carried out the raid in Pakistan in May that killed bin Laden. They were being flown by acrew of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because families are still being notified.

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« Reply #1065 on: August 06, 2011, 03:48:35 PM »

Hey Ya, who is sponsoring the ETM in Pakistan?

I have not followed the ETM story very much. Two possibilities come to mind.
1. Its an independent jihadi movement based in Pak, ie Pak has lost control of them. This is what the Pak govt wants you to believe.
2. Another possibility is that with the US trying to arm twist Pak, Pak desperately needs China's support. The Chinese however have not been very enthusuiastic to replace Uncle sam, atleast interms of free $$. This is the ISI reminding the Chinese, what could be if the renmibis dont flow through. This is a standard operating procedure for the pakis, to seek protection money. The US pays protection money, the Indians do, so no reason the Chinese will be given a free pass.
3. As GM points out below...the shooting of the heli might be an ISI op...fits a pattern. ie payback for the OBL operation..especially since these were navy seals..
« Last Edit: August 06, 2011, 04:06:01 PM by ya » Logged
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« Reply #1066 on: August 06, 2011, 05:33:28 PM »

US special forces Afghan helicopter downed 'by Taliban'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An increase in US troop numbers last year has had some success combating the Taliban in the south of Afghanistan, but attacks in the north, which was previously relatively quiet, have picked up in recent months.
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« Reply #1067 on: August 06, 2011, 06:02:34 PM »
Pakistan: Update. Hundreds of extra paramilitary troops have been deployed to Karachi where 58 people have been killed in political violence in the past five days. More than 200 people were killed last month.

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

Pakistan is heading for a military takeover of government, based on precedent and barring a surprise improvement in economic, law and order and social conditions. In other words, the economic and social conditions that are necessary but not sufficient conditions for a military takeover are present. The instrumental and sufficient conditions -- security force dissatisfaction with the civilian leadership and refusal to carry out lawful orders - do not yet seem present, but can appear in a short time without additional warning.
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« Reply #1068 on: August 06, 2011, 07:11:09 PM »

While there is general jubilation on the pak defense forum (about the downed chinook), pakis being masters at spinning conspiracies..have come up with this gem.

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

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« Reply #1069 on: August 06, 2011, 07:25:44 PM »

While there is general jubilation on the pak defense forum (about the downed chinook), pakis being masters at spinning conspiracies..have come up with this gem.

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

No indication that these were the very same SEALs that were on the OBL op. SEAL Team 6 aka Devgru aka whatever it's really called now has many more SEALs than 28 in the unit.
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« Reply #1070 on: August 07, 2011, 07:41:50 PM »

On the Indian defense forum...its an article of faith that this was an ISI operation. This is not based on evidence but tons of prior experience with the MO of the ISI. Seal Team 6 caused a loss of H&D in pak, so they had a target on their back. Also of interest, in the US media no one is even discussing this as a possibility. Would be interesting to know where the weapon to hit the heli came from, and who supplied the intelligence. I find it difficult to believe the taliban got off a luck shot.
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« Reply #1071 on: August 07, 2011, 07:43:56 PM »

By "RajeshA"...a poster on the www.

Fighting Jihadism in Pakistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So if we want to wage a successful war against Jihad, we would have to rethink the basics again.
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« Reply #1072 on: August 07, 2011, 07:47:45 PM »

On the Indian defense forum...its an article of faith that this was an ISI operation. This is not based on evidence but tons of prior experience with the MO of the ISI. Seal Team 6 caused a loss of H&D in pak, so they had a target on their back. Also of interest, in the US media no one is even discussing this as a possibility. Would be interesting to know where the weapon to hit the heli came from, and who supplied the intelligence. I find it difficult to believe the taliban got off a luck shot.

Lucky shots do happen. An RPG at close range could account for this, but unless the evidence points to this, I'm assuming it's an ISI, or possibly an Iranian op until proven otherwise.
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« Reply #1073 on: August 08, 2011, 12:46:03 AM »

Combat helicopters are vulnerable to small-arms fire, especially at takeoff and landing, analysts say. Pictured, a U.S. Chinook CH-47 helicopter landed in Khost province in 2009.
.KABUL—U.S. Special Operations troops were closing in on a clandestine Taliban meeting thought to include a high-value commander in Afghanistan's rugged Tangi Valley when they ran into an insurgent patrol that pinned them down.

Before dawn on Saturday, members of the elite U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six packed into a twin-rotor Chinook transport helicopter and rushed to the rescue.

As their Chinook was about to land, Afghan and U.S. officials said, a lone insurgent shot it out of the sky with a rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG, in the deadliest attack endured by the American military in a decade of war in Afghanistan. Thirty American troops, including 22 SEALs, died in the crash, as did a civilian interpreter and seven Afghan commandos.

The U.S. military didn't report any casualties among the original Special Operations team.

It was the worst tragedy in the history of the SEALs, and it delivered a jarring setback to the U.S.-led coalition, which has already started pulling troops out of Afghanistan in hopes of extricating itself from the conflict that has become America's longest foreign war.

American Special Operations Forces, a community that includes the Navy SEALs, Army Rangers and Army Green Berets, have conducted thousands of night raids. Most such raids, American officials say, end without a shot being fired.

This time, said a local villager and Afghan officials, the operation quickly ran into trouble as a Special Operations strike team tried to sneak up on the Taliban gathering thought to include a high-value target.

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Military Aims to Reduce Copter Vulnerability
.One local resident said Taliban fighters in groups of five to 10 fighters have been routinely patrolling every village in the area since the conventional U.S. forces pulled out.

Saturday's meeting, he said, included two midlevel Taliban commanders: Habib Rehman and Saif ur Rehman, both of whom had recently returned from Quetta, Pakistan, home of the Taliban leadership.

The Taliban patrol spotted the U.S. troops and identified them as Americans as the forces crossed a river near a cluster of three villages in the valley. Taliban fire kept the Americans pinned down and exposed, said an Afghan official briefed on the incident.

 Insurgents shot down a coalition forces helicopter in Afghanistan Saturday, killing 38. Video courtesy Reuters.
.As the operation unraveled, the U.S. team called for help.

In response, the U.S. command scrambled the Navy SEALs, backed up by Air Force tactical controllers and Afghan commandos as a quick reaction force. They rushed onto the Chinook and flew into the firefight, said a U.S. official, who added that the Chinook was approaching the landing zone when it was hit. Afghan officials said a Taliban insurgent who was hiding in the area fired the RPG that brought down the chopper.

All 38 people on board were killed. The Taliban said eight of their fighters also died in the fighting. The insurgent who fired the RPG, a local resident said, escaped unhurt.

"This is a real psychological blow," said Jeffrey Addicott, a former senior legal adviser to Army Special Forces who now directs the Center for Terrorism Law in San Antonio.

Some Afghan and Western officials said the attack could be an early warning about the risks of ceding ground as the U.S. and its allies prepare to end major combat operations in late 2014, transferring security duties to Afghan forces.

Until this spring, the U.S. military had a base in the middle of the inhospitable Tangi Valley, in the Wardak province some 60 miles southwest of Kabul. When the U.S. military pulled out, local officials said, the Taliban moved back in, with the fledgling Afghan security forces unable to stop them.

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."The government can't protect the people, they are under Taliban threats," said Mohammad Hazrat Janan, the provincial council chief in Wardak. "So the people have chosen Taliban for themselves and don't support or cooperate with government anymore."

Saturday's attack cast a pall over the U.S. military as its members came to terms with the devastating loss. A military official who worked in Afghanistan said the incident would be a significant propaganda victory for the Taliban. "The impact is huge. Being rattled is certainly justified," the official said.

The U.S. military and administration officials in Washington said Saturday's losses wouldn't impact the operational tempo of special-operations raids, nor would it have any strategic effect on the war.

"There is not going to be any scaling back," said a military official in Washington. "The fight goes on and we are going to keep pressing."

Although the investigation is still in its early stages, officials said they believe the Taliban success in bringing down the Chinook CH-47 was an aberration and not an indication that the U.S. will have to radically overhaul its tactics.

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Track the deaths of U.S. and allied forces' troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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."There is not a sense we have been sent back on our heels," said an administration official. "The feeling here is lucky shot, last lucky shot."

But Saturday's attack marked the second time an insurgent RPG has brought down a Chinook helicopter. Two service members were injured in the July 25 attack in eastern Afghanistan.

American forces sealed off the crash site Sunday as they went through the difficult process of recovering the wreckage and trying to determine the exact sequence of events.

One Afghan official said on Sunday that there was "no doubt" that the crash was caused by an RPG. But the U.S.-led military offered no official comment while the recovery operation was under way.

The downing of the helicopter underscores the urgency, and difficulty, of making low-flying helicopters less vulnerable to attack. While sophisticated defenses can fool heat-seeking missiles, there is little current technology that can defend against the lucky shot of a crude AK-47 or an RPG.

At shortly after 8 p.m. Friday, East Coast time, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon delivered the bad news of the attack to President Barack Obama.

Mr. Obama, who was at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., received updates over the weekend from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Adm. Michael Mullen, Chief of Staff Bill Daley and Mr. Donilon, officials said.

Most of the SEALs killed on Saturday were part of the secretive SEAL Team Six, officially known as Naval Special Warfare Development Group and numbering only some 300 operators. Along with the Army's Delta Force it is one of the United States' Special Mission Units, given the most dangerous and sensitive counterterrorism tasks. Members of the unit killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan three months ago, but none of those service members involved in that raid were killed Saturday.

Operationally assigned to the Fort Bragg-based Joint Special Operations Command, SEAL Team Six is based at Training Support Center Hampton Roads in Virginia Beach, Va.

In the aftermath of the attack, officials scaled back the planned change of command ceremony to be held on Monday at JSOC's Tampa headquarters. Adm. William McRaven, until recently the commander of the most elite group of Special Operations forces, including SEAL Team Six, will take over from another SEAL, Adm. Eric Olsen.

But officials said the speeches at the JSOC ceremony on Monday will reflect the command's commitment not to let the devastating attack result in any slowing of the tempo of operations against the Taliban.

Because they have been repeatedly and frequently deployed throughout the Afghanistan war, the commandos in the SEAL units know each other well, and the loss will be felt throughout the command.

"The special-ops community is very tight-knit," said Richard "Ozzie" Nelson, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former Navy officer who served at JSOC. "They have very strong bonds that they have forged over 10 years in combat. And in a very small community when you have a loss of this magnitude, the impact is significant."

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« Reply #1074 on: August 09, 2011, 01:49:05 PM »

Dispatch: Effects of the U.S. Helicopter Downing in Afghanistan
August 9, 2011 | 1809 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:

Analyst Kamran Bokhari examines the potential fallout from the Taliban’s downing of a U.S. Chinook helicopter.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Related Links
Afghanistan Weekly War Update: A Helicopter Crashes in Eastern Afghanistan
Intelligence Guidance: Week of Aug. 7, 2011
U.S. and Pakistan: Afghan Strategies
U.S. military authorities are referring to the downing of a helicopter used by U.S. special forces, in which as many as 30 American military personnel were killed, as a one-off incident. While that may be the case, the downing of a U.S. military helicopter, with as many as 25 members of the Navy SEALs aboard it, will be a source of emboldenment for the Taliban. Should the Taliban be able to reproduce this incident in the future, it will enhance its position on the battlefield as well as the negotiating table.

A Pentagon spokesperson described the incident in which 30 U.S. military officials were killed aboard a CH-47 helicopter that was brought down by a Taliban RPG [rocket-propelled grenade], as a one-off incident and cautioned against reading too much into it and said that this did not constitute “a watershed or a new trend.” Indeed, the available evidence does suggest that the Taliban militiamen got lucky in this particular incident in the province of Wardak in central Afghanistan, when a team of Navy SEALs tried to rescue rangers who were pinned down in a firefight with the jihadist militiamen.

Even though the Taliban may have gotten lucky this time around, they will definitely be wanting to try and reproduce this incident in the future, just as U.S. military officials are investigating the incident in terms of trying to understand how this happened and how it can be prevented in the future. The Taliban can be expected to do their own probe in which they would want to be able to glean from “lessons learned.”

The point to note here is that while the tactical military skills and circumstances may be reproducible, but in the long run the frequency of such events essentially depends upon the Taliban having advanced intelligence on helicopter missions. And that’s where they will run into some problems, because ultimately it depends upon how good the Taliban penetration is of the Afghan security forces and how much U.S. military authorities are sharing with their Afghan counterparts.

Should the Taliban be able to bring down additional helicopters in the near future, then that allows them to extract concessions from the United States on the negotiating table in terms of the circumstances of withdrawal and the share of power that the Taliban will be demanding in a post-NATO Afghanistan.

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« Reply #1075 on: August 09, 2011, 01:54:09 PM »

The point to note here is that while the tactical military skills and circumstances may be reproducible, but in the long run the frequency of such events essentially depends upon the Taliban having advanced intelligence on helicopter missions. And that’s where they will run into some problems, because ultimately it depends upon how good the Taliban penetration is of the Afghan security forces and how much U.S. military authorities are sharing with their Afghan counterparts.

This is what indicates to me the potential for this to be an ISI op. I cannot exclude a "lucky shot", but the ISI is still my best suspect here.
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« Reply #1076 on: August 09, 2011, 01:58:35 PM »

The Taliban lured US forces into an elaborate trap to shoot down their helicopter, killing 30 American troops in the deadliest such incident of the war, an Afghan official said Monday.
US President Barack Obama pledged that the incident -- which killed 38 people -- would not keep foreign forces from prevailing in Afghanistan, and the Pentagon called the downing of the Chinook a "one-off" that would not alter US strategy.
The late Friday attack marked the biggest single loss of life for American and NATO forces since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan toppled the Taliban in late 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks.
The loss of the Chinook during an anti-Taliban operation southwest of Kabul dealt a blow to elite US special forces, which had 25 members on board -- 22 US Navy SEAL commandos and three Air Force Special Operations Forces.
Five US Army personnel, seven Afghan commandos and an interpreter also died.
A senior Afghan government official told AFP on condition of anonymity that Taliban commander Qari Tahir lured US forces to the scene by tipping them off that a Taliban meeting was taking place.
He also said four Pakistanis helped Tahir carry out the strike.

"Now it's confirmed that the helicopter was shot down and it was a trap that was set by a Taliban commander," said the official, citing intelligence gathered from the area.
"The Taliban knew which route the helicopter would take," he continued.
"That's the only route, so they took position on the either side of the valley on mountains and as the helicopter approached, they attacked it with rockets and other modern weapons. It was brought down by multiple shots."
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to discuss the issue, also said President Hamid Karzai's US-backed government "thinks" the attack was retaliation for the May killing of Osama bin Laden.
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« Reply #1077 on: August 14, 2011, 12:24:02 PM »

I will bet very large sums that money has already changed hands and the Chinese have already been all over this.

Pakistan: I guess we’ll have to show China the wreckage of your secret stealth helicopter


posted at 8:52 pm on May 10, 2011 by Allahpundit

You know what the answer to this is? Have Mike Mullen very loudly and formally invite the head of India’s air force to tour an American air base and check out all the latest projects we’re working on. Maybe, as a bonus, let him sneak a peek at that insanely awesome shipborne laser that the Navy’s perfecting.
Why not? India’s the ultimate bulwark against these fascist and jihadist savages. Let’s make sure they’re prepared. And given their own growing knowledge base in weapons advances, it’d be useful to have a reciprocal relationship with them. It’s time to make this a proper alliance.

The U.S. has already asked the Pakistanis for the helicopter wreckage back, but one Pakistani official told ABC News the Chinese were also “very interested” in seeing the remains. Another official said, “We might let them [the Chinese] take a look.”
A U.S. official said he did not know if the Pakistanis had offered a peak to the Chinese, but said he would be “shocked” if the Chinese hadn’t already been given access to the damaged aircraft…
The potential technological advancements gleaned from the bird could be a “much appreciated gift” to the Chinese, according to former White House counterterrorism advisor and ABC News consultant Richard Clarke…
The Chinese and Pakistani governments are known to have a close relationship. Last month Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif concluded a trip to Beijing, afterwards telling Pakistan’s local press that China was Pakistan’s “best friend.”
Yes, please, let China know the singular joy that comes with being Pakistan’s “best friend.” ABC correctly points out that China is rumored to have jumpstarted its stealth program with pieces of a U.S. bomber that crashed in the Balkans in the late 90s; if that’s so, then that Point A might have led directly to this Point B. And yet, the question lingers: Is a stealth helicopter really all that difficult to figure out? Some experts say no:

[Lexington Institute head Loren Thompson] said that the technology and design features to enable an aircraft to reduce noise and evade radar are not shrouded in secrecy.
Countries that examine the wreckage “will not learn much from the remnants of the exploded helicopter that were not already readily available in open literature,” Thompson told AFP…
The helicopter appears to have at least five blades in its tail rotor, instead of the four associated with the Blackhawk, which analysts said could possibly allow for a slower rotor speed to reduce noise.
A cover on the rotor, akin to a hubcap, can also be seen as well as harder edges in the design, similar to the lines on stealth fighter planes such as the F-117. The cover on the rotor and the design lines would presumably be aimed at circumventing radar, according to analysts.
It’s not completely stealth, either. No doubt it’s radar-proof and quieter than a normal military helicopter in its approach, but remember that guy in Abbottabad who inadvertently tweeted the Bin Laden raid as it happened? His very first tweet was “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1 AM.” I don’t know how far he was from the compound, but if it was loud enough for him to hear, the Pakistani military must have heard it too. That’s why the raid was only 40 minutes; they would have showed up sooner or later.
As further reading, I recommend this short piece from Victor Davis Hanson about our very good friends in Islamabad. He’s tired of paying them billions in protection money not to do something crazy involving nukes, mainly because they seem to be getting crazier regardless. Exit quotation: “We’ve tried aid, no aid, sanctions, full diplomatic relations, estrangement,etc. At this point, all have failed, and failure without $3 billion a year is better than failure costing $3 billion a year.”


August 14, 2011 4:27 pm
Pakistan gave China access to US helicopter
By Anna Fifield in Washington

Pakistan allowed Chinese military engineers to photograph and take samples from the top-secret stealth helicopter that US special forces left behind when they killed Osama bin Laden, the Financial Times has learned.
The action is the latest incident to underscore the increasingly complicated relationship and lack of trust between Islamabad and Washington following the raid.

"The US now has information that Pakistan, particularly the ISI, gave access to the Chinese military to the downed helicopter in Abbottabad," said one person in intelligence circles, referring to the Pakistani spy agency. The Chinese engineers were allowed to survey the wreckage and take photographs of it, as well as take samples of the special "stealth" skin that allowed the American team to enter Pakistan undetected by radar, he said.
President Barack Obama's national security council had been discussing this incident and trying to decide how to respond, said the situation “doesn't make us happy”, but the administration had little recourse.
As Navy Seals raided Bin Laden's compound in the military city of Abbottabad, just outside Islamabad, in May, one of their modified Black Hawk helicopters crashed into the wall of the compound, rendering it inoperable.
The Seals used a hammer to smash the instruments then rigged up explosives to detonate it in an effort to keep classified military technology secret, but the tail section landed outside the compound wall and remained intact. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, went to Pakistan two weeks after the raid to secure the tail's return.
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« Reply #1078 on: August 15, 2011, 05:09:19 AM »

Lets see if I have this right.  Pakistan has more people than Russia (I read this somewhere recently and was quite surprised); more nukes than everyone except the US, Russia, and China; a rogue nuclear program that is in alliance with the Norks rogue program and has connections with Iran's nuclear program, harbored Bin Laden, helps the Chinese get our military technology, etc etc , , , and they are an ally of ours , , ,
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« Reply #1079 on: August 15, 2011, 09:31:07 AM »

Lets see if I have this right.  Pakistan has more people than Russia (I read this somewhere recently and was quite surprised); more nukes than everyone except the US, Russia, and China; a rogue nuclear program that is in alliance with the Norks rogue program and has connections with Iran's nuclear program, harbored Bin Laden, helps the Chinese get our military technology, etc etc , , , and they are an ally of ours , , ,

Who are and will continue to get our tax dollars.
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« Reply #1080 on: August 29, 2011, 02:02:35 PM »

This could go in a number of places on the forum but currently relates mostly to strikes in Pakistan.  The AEI author (conservative) comes down on the pro-drone side, but can you imagine the public uproar today if it was a Cheney or McCain administration who had quadrupled the unmanned aerial attacks inside a 'sovereign' country?  As an aside, I have a newer acquaintance who is a leading researcher/developer of UAV (drone) technology and I would be very interested in suggestions for intelligent, non-classified questions to ask if I am able to get some access.

The Morality of Drone Warfare
The reports about civilian casualties are unreliable.


Last week, the London-based nonprofit Bureau of Investigative Journalism published a series of articles accusing the U.S. of covering up civilian casualties caused by drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas. In a New York Times op-ed on Sunday, retired Adm. Dennis Blair, President Obama's former director of national intelligence, declared that America's drone campaign "is eroding our influence and damaging our ability to work with Pakistan to achieve other important security objectives like eliminating Taliban sanctuaries, encouraging Indian-Pakistani dialogue, and making Pakistan's nuclear arsenal more secure."

In reality, drones represent the most discerning—and therefore most moral—form of aerial warfare in human history. In Pakistan, they keep terrorists on the run. They also help Washington to pressure an ostensible ally that doesn't respond to carrots alone.

According to the Bureau's journalists, drones have killed at least 45 civilians over the past year. This flatly contradicts White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, who said in June that drones have not caused "a single collateral death" since last August.

Then there's the realpolitik argument. Drones allegedly create day-to-day friction in U.S.-Pakistan relations. Without the bad blood they cause, Adm. Blair suggests, ties between Washington and Islamabad would flourish.

To be fair, neither argument can be casually dismissed. The claim of zero collateral deaths in a land where militants often live with their families, or cheek-by-jowl with other civilians, appears implausible. The strikes—53 so far this year—tend to draw street protests and harsh criticism from the Pakistani press. Both Pakistan's parliament and the provincial assembly in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province have passed resolutions calling for their end.

On closer examination, however, this case collapses. According to U.S. government officials quoted in the Times, the Bureau's reportage is unreliable. To begin with, Pakistani authorities, and the local reporters they hold sway over, have an incentive to fabricate or exaggerate casualty figures. And the reports rely, at least in part, on information provided by a Pakistani lawyer who publicly outed the CIA's undercover station chief last year.

Though even a single civilian casualty ought not to be taken lightly, the focus on alleged collateral damage distorts the essence of the drone program. Technology allows highly trained operators to observe targets on the ground for as much as 72 hours in advance. Software engineers typically model the blast radius for a missile or bomb strike. Lawyers weigh in on which laws apply and entire categories of potential targets—including mosques, hospitals and schools—are almost always out of bounds. All these procedures protect innocent civilian life.

As for affecting U.S. popularity, according to the Pew Global Attitudes survey, the U.S. favorability rating—long battered by conspiracy theories and an anti-American media—hovers at about 12%, almost exactly where it stood before the drone program's advent in 2004.

The program also serves a larger purpose. One of Washington's most pressing objectives in Pakistan is to end the use of its territory for attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan. Another is to wean the country off its historic support for terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, India and beyond. It cannot achieve either without the help of the Pakistani army and its notorious spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence.

But the Pakistani army, riddled with jihadist sympathizers, and with a two-decade old belief in its mission to dominate Afghanistan and bleed India, has shown little inclination to do much more than the bare minimum. The violently anti-American Haqqani network remains comfortably ensconced in North Waziristan near the Afghan border. And terrorists such as Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, whose group was behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans, routinely give inflammatory speeches to adoring crowds.

Against this backdrop, drones offer a practical way to eliminate some terrorists and keep others on the run. They also raise the incentives for the Pakistani military to crack down on terrorism, or else deal with the social unrest unleashed by the strikes.

Instead of cutting back on drones, the U.S. should threaten to ratchet up their use if the army and ISI fail to suppress anti-NATO forces in Afghanistan. Over $20 billion in aid in the past decade has not done enough to alter Islamabad's behavior. A carefully calibrated drone strategy, backed by resolve to stay the course in Afghanistan, may produce better results.

Mr. Dhume is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, and a columnist for
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« Reply #1081 on: August 29, 2011, 11:49:43 PM »
Watch out for Afpak turbulence G. PARTHASARATHY
With the US planning to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014, Pakistan is hoping for a Taliban takeover of the region. India should be under no illusion that it can change the jihadi mindset of Pakistan's armed forces.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(The author is a former High Commissioner to Pakistan.

« Last Edit: August 30, 2011, 12:00:26 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #1082 on: August 31, 2011, 06:15:58 AM »

The Afghan Taliban's Strategic Conciliatory Turn

Afghanistan’s Taliban movement was negotiating directly with the United States until the nervous regime of Afghan President Hamid Karzai used media leaks to disrupt the talks in June, an AP report claimed Monday, quoting unnamed American and Afghan officials.

The AP report said negotiations were taking place not just with Tayyeb Agha, a representative of Taliban founder and chief Mullah Mohammad Omar, but also with Ibrahim Haqqani, the brother of Jalaluddin Haqqani, head of the so-called Haqqani Network — the branch of the Afghan jihadist movement active in the country’s east. Normally STRATFOR takes such reports with a strong dose of skepticism, but in a highly unusual communique, Mullah Omar himself confirmed that his group had been in negotiations with Washington.

“In today’s message, the Taliban chief referred to the Islamic Emirate as a non-state actor with no interest in ‘monopolizing power.’”
In a lengthy message on the occasion of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the Taliban leader claimed that the talks were not aimed at reaching a political settlement but intended to secure the release of prisoners. More importantly, Mullah Omar went on to justify negotiations as a legitimate means of trying to establish his group’s vision of an Islamic polity in the country. Thus far the Taliban position has been to seek the re-establishment of their regime, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, toppled by the United States in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

In today’s message, the Taliban chief referred to the Islamic Emirate as a non-state actor with no interest in “monopolizing power.” In fact, Mullah Omar said that all ethnic groups (including the non-Pashtun minorities of the north who are the historic enemies of the Taliban) would be part of a post-NATO Afghan government. The Taliban chief added that a future coalition government would not allow the developments that followed the collapse of communism — a time he categorized as when the country was roundly plundered and the state apparatus damaged entirely. “Strict measures will be taken to safeguard all national installations, government departments and the advancements that have occurred in the private sector,” he said.

A man known as a key international symbol for violent extremism, Mullah Omar also talked about economics, saying that his country had abundant arable land, rich mines and large energy resources with high potential. He said these resources could be invested under peaceful and stable circumstances and could help Afghanistan overcome poverty, unemployment and the social and economic problems arising from the economic ills. Clearly, this statement stands in sharp contrast to past communiques by Mullah Omar that have been heavy on ideological rhetoric while warning opponents of his jihadist militia’s capability for violence. So, why this major shift in attitude?

The answer involves the Taliban’s emerging realization that as the United States and its NATO allies begin to withdraw from Afghanistan, they are leaving behind a country far different from the one the Soviets left when they withdrew. If the communist state that the Soviets left behind was able to hold its own for three years before the much larger and more well-endowed Islamist insurgent alliance was able to topple it, then the Taliban realize that they face an even greater challenge with the Karzai regime. Even after they push Western forces out of the country, the Taliban are expecting a prolonged civil war with their opponents before they can regain power.

Assuming that scenario occurs, the Taliban would still be considered a global pariah with intense international isolation. Indeed, the group remembers how the country was sanctioned during their first stint in power. By opting for negotiations, the Taliban, who remain the single largest political force in the country, hope to dominate a post-NATO political dispensation and avoid international isolation. This tactic does not mean that the Taliban are moderating; rather they are adjusting to constraints that limit their ability to achieve their goals of resurging to power.

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« Reply #1083 on: August 31, 2011, 08:45:29 AM »
Osama bin Laden : The real story? - FB Ali

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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« Reply #1084 on: September 05, 2011, 10:11:18 AM »

Some data porn...fryday is the big day for jihadis..

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« Reply #1085 on: September 05, 2011, 10:23:45 AM »

Good thing it's a religion of peace.
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« Reply #1086 on: September 06, 2011, 08:06:29 AM »

KABUL—Has the U.S. military surge in Afghanistan been a success?

As America begins to scale back its presence in the country, that question is generating diverging answers from U.S. military commanders and United Nations officials in Afghanistan.  American military commanders argue the infusion of 33,000 more American forces has helped change the tide of the war by driving down violence and reducing the number of civilian casualties this summer.  U.N. officials, along with independent security analysts in Afghanistan, contest that analysis and say violence and civilian deaths both hit record highs in recent months.

Somewhere between those contrasting interpretations of the strength of the insurgency is the question of whether the Afghan army and police will be able to protect their own people from the Taliban as the U.S. cedes security responsibility to local forces.

As the U.S. begins a phased withdrawal of the added forces who were deployed beginning early last year, American commanders say the surge has done exactly what was intended: dislodged Taliban fighters from southern sanctuaries and put insurgents on the defensive.

Coalition officials say insurgent attacks fell 20% in July from the same month in 2010. As of late August, violence was down 12 of the previous 16 weeks when compared with last summer, according to coalition officials, who declined to release specific numbers.

"Violence is down over the course of the last couple of months considerably from what it was this time last year," Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Afghanistan this summer.

The drop in attacks, military officials say, is a sign the coalition has gained a decisive upper hand. "I think it's a leading indicator," a coalition official in Kabul said of the military analysis. "We believe we are making progress based on the numbers."

U.N. officials disagree, and say the coalition failed to achieve a counterinsurgency goal it set for itself ahead of the surge: protecting Afghan civilians.

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Close."The most important criteria for the average Afghan is whether civilians are dying, and whether their quality of life and capacity of moving around has increased or not," said Staffan de Mistura, the top U.N. envoy in Afghanistan. "In terms of civilian casualties, all the reports we get are that they are not happy with this."

In the three months through July, the war claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Afghan civilians, according to U.N. statistics, the first time since U.N. investigators began tracking casualties in 2007 that they have documented more than 1,000 civilian deaths in a three-month period.

The U.N. charted a 15% rise in civilian casualties in the first six months of this year compared with the year-earlier period.

The single largest killer: Hidden explosives, a hallmark of the insurgency's summer campaign. Roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices planted by insurgents accounted for nearly half the civilian casualties recorded by the U.N. in the first six months of 2011.

U.N. officials said that May was the deadliest month for Afghan civilians since the international body started tracking the figures in 2007, and that June marked a high in security incidents.

Coalition officials disputed the U.N. estimates and said that they documented a 14% decrease in civilian deaths between the second quarter of 2010 and the second quarter of 2011.

August also marked a grim milestone for the U.S. as the most deadly month in nearly a decade of war: 69 American soldiers died last month, according to the iCasualties website, with nearly half killed when a Taliban insurgent shot down a Chinook helicopter in eastern Afghanistan. So far this year, 310 Americans and 111 other coalition forces have been killed.

While the U.N. and the U.S.-led military coalition confer on their numbers, they still rely on their own investigators, collect varied intelligence and sometimes draw different conclusions on civilian casualties.

Military commanders and U.N. officials expressed confidence that their differing analysis, interpretations and methods of collecting data were accurate reflections of the state of the conflict.

Some Afghan leaders worry that the debate about numbers may miss the point.

Shaida Mohammad Abdali, President Hamid Karzai's deputy national security adviser, said the issue isn't the amount of violence; it is the Taliban's increasing effectiveness in killing prominent Afghan officials.

Since May, the Taliban have taken credit for killing a string of Afghan leaders, including Ahmed Wali Karzai, President Karzai's half-brother who worked closely with U.S. officials to fight the Taliban in Kandahar, and Gen. Daoud Daoud, the powerful police commander for northern Afghanistan.

That has raised concerns that a decline in overall insurgent attacks might not be a sign that things are getting better.

"We have to think about the optimism that we show about the level of violence," said Mr. Abdali. "Yes we may have a much more quiet countryside than before, but generally I am more concerned about the strategic impact of this war."

Mr. Abdali said American and Afghan military leaders had to focus more efforts on countering the Taliban's targeted assassination campaign.

"I hope that, instead of speaking about the decrease in the level of violence, we think about how we can counter this new tactic of the Taliban, or the terrorists, who are simply looking for the high-profile targets."

Michael Capstick, a retired Canadian military officer who worked in Afghanistan as an officer and a civilian, said the trends are taking a toll on the faith of the Afghan people.

"The high-profile attacks and assassinations since the spring are really eroding whatever confidence the Afghan people might have had in their security forces and, by extension, the military coalition," Mr. Capstick said. "The prevailing view seems to be: 'If they…can't protect themselves, how can they protect us?'," he said.

U.S. military commanders say the assassinations are militarily insignificant. "Those are not going to be decisive," a senior U.S. military commander said. The Taliban "are not physically controlling the terrain, they're not retaking what they have lost. And I don't think they can."

The U.N. assessment is supported by the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, which examines security risks for aid groups working in the country. While the military charted a 20% decline in insurgent attacks in July, the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, or ANSO, documented a 7% rise.

The insurgency, the group concluded, has adapted to the surge, creating what it dubbed a "perpetually escalating stalemate."

The military's reports of progress against the Taliban are "at best misleading and at worst gravely irresponsible," says Nic Lee, director of the independent organization, which assesses security risks for scores of prominent aid groups in Afghanistan.

The coalition "is under a lot of pressure to demonstrate results ahead of transition, and this inevitably shapes the content of their data and the conclusions they draw from it," Mr. Lee said.

The U.S. military, when asked about ANSO's figures, said it stands by its analysis and sees it as the most comprehensive view of the conflict.

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« Reply #1087 on: September 08, 2011, 09:07:07 AM »

KABUL—The Sept. 11 attacks that triggered the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan also uprooted 16-year-old Abdul Ghattar from his village in war-torn Helmand province, bringing him to a desolate refugee camp on the edge of Kabul.

Yet Mr. Ghattar stared blankly when asked whether he knew about al Qaeda's strike on the U.S., launched a decade ago from Afghan soil.

"Never heard of it," he shrugged as he lined up for water at the camp's well, which serves thousands of fellow refugees. "I have no idea why the Americans are in my country."

In a nearby tent that is the camp's school, his teacher, 22-year-old Mullah Said Nabi Agha, didn't fare much better. He said he has never seen the iconic image of the Twin Towers burning. He was vaguely aware that some kind of explosion had occurred in America.

"I was a child when it happened, and now I am an adult, and the Americans are still here," Mr. Agha said. "I think the Americans did it themselves, so they could invade Afghanistan."

The teacher's view is by no means rare here. The events of Sept. 11, 2001, of course, are known to educated Afghans, and to many residents of big cities. But that isn't always the case elsewhere in a predominantly rural country where 42% of the population is under the age of 14, and 72% of adults are illiterate. With few villages reached by television or electricity, news here is largely spread by word of mouth.‬

Such opinions highlight a contrast between American and Afghan perspectives on the longest foreign war in U.S. history, one that killed thousands of Afghans and, at the latest count, claimed the lives of 1,760 U.S. troops.

They also explain the Taliban's ability to rally popular support—in part by seizing the narrative to portray the war not as one triggered by America's need for self-defense, but as one of colonial aggression by infidels lusting for Afghanistan's riches.

"The Islamic Emirate wages a lawful struggle for the defense of its religion, country and soil," the Taliban's leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, told Afghans last month on the occasion of the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday.

According to a survey of 15- to 30-year-old men in the two southern provinces where President Barack Obama sent the bulk of American surge troops, 92% of respondents said they didn't know about "this event which the foreigners call 9/11" after being read a three-paragraph description of the attacks.

"Nobody explained to them the 9/11 story—and it's hard to win the hearts and minds of the fighting-age males in Helmand if they don't even know why the foreigners are here," says Norine MacDonald, president of the International Council on Security and Development, the think tank that carried out the survey of 1,000 Afghan men in eight districts of Kandahar and Helmand. "There is a vacuum—and it's being filled by al Qaeda and Taliban propaganda claiming that we are here to destroy Islam."

Some Afghans who do know about the events of 2001 often subscribe to conspiracy theories, imported from Pakistan and Iran, that have long lost currency even in the Middle East.

Maulvi Abdulaziz Mujahed, an imam at Kabul's Takbir mosque who served as chairman of the Kabul provincial council in 2008 to 2009, said in a recent interview that the Sept. 11 attacks were a Jewish conspiracy, a view he says was reinforced by his 2009 visit to New York's Ground Zero.

"I saw the photos of all those who have been killed in the attacks, and I saw people bring flowers for their loved ones. But I couldn't find a single Jew among them," Mr. Mujahed said. "The superpowers wanted a good pretext to invade Afghanistan, and these attacks provided it."

Abdul Hakim Mujahid, the deputy chairman of the Afghan government's High Peace Council, a body created to negotiate a peaceful solution to the war, was in New York when the two jets struck the Twin Towers—in his capacity as the Taliban regime's semi-official envoy to the U.S. and the United Nations.

While Mr. Mujahid says he was saddened by the attacks, he says he still doesn't believe al Qaeda was responsible for "the unfortunate incident."

"After 9/11, the whole world rushed to Afghanistan, and the people of Afghanistan were under the illusion that everything would be changed: The roads would be paved black, the houses would be painted white, the infrastructure rebuilt and the industries established," he says. "But gradually these expectations have come down, and now have reached the point of zero. The people are asking: When will the foreigners finally leave?"

Not every Afghan subscribes to the conspiracy theories or wants the Americans to leave. At the campus of Kabul University, where young women and men mix in a setting unimaginable under Taliban rule, students said in interviews they were fully aware of the Sept. 11 attacks and saw the U.S. invasion as bringing benefits to Afghanistan. Many of them were ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks from the country's north—ethnic minorities discriminated against under the rule of the Taliban.

"Under the Taliban, Afghanistan was a terrorist haven, nobody could leave their house, and I wouldn't have been able to attend university," says Nasser Hasrab, a 20-year-old literature student from the northern Faryab province. "After the Soviets left we had a civil war, and I am afraid that if the Americans leave, the same would happen again."

Across town in the Herat restaurant—once the favorite hangout of Taliban leaders and al Qaeda militants—owner Abdulazim Niyazi, dressed in a Polo shirt and clutching a Samsung cellphone, pondered the momentous change of the past decade.

Because TV was banned under the Taliban, there was no particular celebration or commotion in the restaurant on Sept. 11, 2001, he said. Since then, Mr. Niyazi complained, boomtown Kabul has been swamped with corruption, prostitution and vice. More importantly, his business has soured.

"Under the Taliban, we were the only place," he said. "Now, Kabul is filled with restaurants."

—Habib Khan Totakhil contributed to this article.
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« Reply #1088 on: September 09, 2011, 06:26:07 AM »

The importance of this article is that it introduces a new term "the pakistanization of Al-Qaeda", which I guess is the next level from the mere "talibanization of Pakistan". To my understanding, this means that paki DNA has now been incorporated in AQ. As a result, one may expect AQ to play a more active role in many aspects of daily mayhem in Pak...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amir Mir is a senior Pakistani journalist and the author of several books on the subject of militant Islam and terrorism, the latest being The Bhutto murder trail: From Waziristan to GHQ.
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« Reply #1089 on: September 09, 2011, 08:38:40 AM »

Another fine post from YA.  Here's this WSJ report on today's episode of congnitive dissonance:

KABUL—Peace negotiations with the Taliban are unlikely to bear results until additional military pressure is brought on the insurgents, the new American ambassador to Kabul said, playing down expectations of progress in the efforts to end the 10-year-old war. (Of course said pressure will be brought to bear as we draw down , , ,)

"The Taliban needs to feel more pain before you get to a real readiness to reconcile," Ambassador Ryan Crocker, a veteran diplomat who took over the American Embassy in Kabul in July, cautioned in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

U.S. and Afghan officials have been trying for more than a year to open negotiations with the insurgents, even as U.S. surge troops deployed since early last year advanced into Taliban strongholds, killing or capturing scores of insurgent commanders. That surge is now beginning to wind down, with the U.S.-led coalition aiming to bring most combat troops home by the end of 2014.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has made a peace settlement his key priority, establishing a special High Peace Council entrusted with pursuing a political solution to the intensifying conflict. So far, these contacts with insurgent representatives, carried out in Afghanistan and abroad, have failed to produce any concrete results.

"They are still just kind of feeling each other out at this stage," Mr. Crocker said.

A key stumbling block, a person familiar with these outreach attempts said, is that Afghan and U.S. officials are still trying to establish whether their interlocutors have the authority to speak for the Taliban's leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar.

The Taliban until recently publicly rejected the idea of peace negotiations, saying all foreign forces must leave Afghanistan before any such talks begin. Last month, however, Mullah Omar appeared to soften that position, admitting for the first time that some contacts have already taken place.

In an Aug. 28 message for the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday, Mullah Omar said "every legitimate option can be considered" in order to reach the Taliban's goal of establishing "an independent Islamic regime" in Afghanistan. He added, however, that "the contacts which have been made with some parties for the release of prisoners can't be called a comprehensive negotiation for the solution of the current imbroglio of the country."

Mullah Omar's statement, which also promised to establish a "peace-loving and responsible regime" that would encompass all Afghan ethnicities and encourage businessmen and professionals, in recent days elicited cautious optimism among some U.S. and Afghan officials.

Mr. Crocker said he disagreed with such upbeat assessments.

"Mullah Omar's Eid message, read as positive in some quarters, did not infuse me with any optimism," the ambassador said. "He acknowledged the talks but said they are purely tactical. He did not indicate a readiness to make any concessions at all on the side of the Taliban," he said.

Mr. Crocker called it "the kind of statement that one would expect from a governmental leader in waiting. I think he's going to be disappointed."

If there was anything encouraging in Mullah Omar's new approach, he added, it was the indication that the Taliban may be feeling the effect of the coalition's offensives.

"They have been hurt militarily and they are therefore broadening the array of tools that they are prepared to deploy, like talks, visits, so forth," he said.

Until recently, some Afghan and Western officials had hoped that military pressure—combined with the peace outreach—would persuade the Taliban to send representatives to the international conference on Afghanistan that is scheduled for December in Bonn.

That isn't likely to happen, in part because of obstacles thrown up by Pakistan, where Mullah Omar and other key Afghan Taliban leaders reside, a Western diplomat said.

The Pakistani government, eager to maintain its leverage, hasn't yielded to Afghan requests to publicly call on the Taliban to open peace talks. Pakistan also declined to provide safe-passage guarantees that would allow Pakistan-based Taliban leaders to travel for any such negotiations.

"Implicit in that is, 'Yeah, you can try to get to Afghanistan. I hope your family is going to be OK!' " the Western diplomat quipped. Mullah Omar said in the Eid message that this year's Bonn conference will be no different from the one that created Afghanistan's post-Taliban government headed by Mr. Karzai 10 years earlier because "neither true representatives of the Afghan people have participation in it, nor attention is paid to the comprehensive and real solution of the problems of Afghanistan."

The deputy chairman of the Afghan government's High Peace Council, Abdul Hakim Mujahid—who served as the Taliban regime's unofficial envoy to the U.S. and the United Nations before 2001—said it is unrealistic to expect the Taliban to "come out of their caves" as long as the international community doesn't accept them as "a real force" in Afghanistan.

"There is a great ocean of a lack of confidence," Mr. Mujahid said.

In the absence of progress in high-level contacts with the Taliban, the U.S. and Afghan officials are concentrating on the so-called reintegration program that aims to woo Taliban foot soldiers and midlevel commanders from the battlefield with offers of amnesty and jobs.

"We've seen several thousand move forward in this process," Mr. Crocker said. "If this were to increase exponentially you could kind of see commanders without an army—and that could really change the dynamic."

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« Reply #1090 on: September 09, 2011, 02:37:52 PM »

Several posts today.  Make sure to read YA's post.

The scheduled drawdown of U.S. and allied forces from Afghanistan has begun, and the need for a negotiated settlement to fill the eventual power vacuum in Afghanistan has become more evident. And as always, the key players each have their own set of goals for such a settlement.

Obama’s Afghanistan Plan and the Realities of Withdrawal

Afghanistan at the Crossroads: Insights on the Conflict

The United States has begun the scheduled drawdown of U.S. and allied forces from Afghanistan, but there are clear indications that it is seeking ways to accelerate this timeline. While the surge of U.S. and allied combat forces has had an effect, it was insufficient both in scale and time to impose a military reality on Afghanistan and pacify the Taliban insurgency. So while progress outlined by Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, in terms of the counterinsurgency-focused strategy, can certainly be defended, the Taliban also — and with good cause — perceive themselves to be winning and have continued to wage an aggressive assassination campaign.

Now that it is clear the United States is leaving, all sides must begin actually reaching understandings and taking concrete action in anticipation of the looming power vacuum in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the United States has once again intensified its efforts to reach a comprehensive political accommodation with Mullah Muhammad Omar, the most senior Taliban figure, and the Taliban movement as a whole. Such a settlement would stabilize the security situation in the country and facilitate an orderly withdrawal of at least most Western forces from the country.

The Taliban

The Taliban cannot take the United States’ stated intention to withdraw at face value. And in any event, the Taliban have multiple incentives to maintain the current intensity of operations: Doing so maintains the pressure on Washington and Kabul to negotiate, maximizes the strength of their position in those negotiations and maintains their visibility and relevance to the wider Afghan population.

But the Taliban also do not harbor the same ambitions they once did. Having run Afghanistan as a pariah regime in the late 1990s and perceiving Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government as more robust than the regime the Soviets left in place when they withdrew in 1989, the Taliban seek a power sharing agreement rather than complete dominion of the country. Part of that sharing of power entails getting aid monies and a piece of the foreign investment flowing into the country as well as positioning themselves to gain from the withdrawal of foreign forces.

In recent communiques, the Taliban have even shifted from speaking of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to acknowledging that the Islamic Emirate does not seek to monopolize power. Instead, the Taliban seek certain broad achievements:

Negotiations before withdrawal that help establish the Taliban’s international legitimacy (which would also entail the removal of the movement’s leadership from international terrorism watch lists and ensure that any government in which the Taliban is involved would not be subject to the same sanctions imposed on its government in the late 1990s).
Ultimately, the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
A reshaping of the Afghan government. Karzai (with heavy input from the West) has carefully crafted his regime, its offices and the government’s entire structure for the better part of a decade, maximizing his influence and the power of those close to him. It makes little political sense for the Taliban to accept that structure.
A more Shariah-compliant government. Afghanistan is largely a mountainous, rural and conservative society, so the more extreme brand of Islamism espoused by the Taliban actually has considerable traction with large swaths of Afghan society, particularly the Pashtun population that straddles the Afghan-Pakistani border. In other words, this is not necessarily something that a much broader demographic would resist.
A solution for the foreign fighters that have been waging war alongside the Taliban. Whether this is a repatriation agreement or one that allows these fighters to settle and live in Afghanistan peacefully, the Taliban want some viable solution. The Taliban — along with many Pakistani and Arab actors among others — see the lack of a settlement regarding foreign fighters at the time of the Soviet withdrawal as part of a problem that has plagued Afghanistan ever since: Those actors retained their autonomy and used it to maintain chaos in Afghanistan, drawing in other players and complicating the security and political situation further. And if Afghanistan is truly to rein in Islamist extremists with transnational ambitions in a post-NATO Afghanistan, many of these fighters will need to be weaned away from such movements.

(click here to enlarge image)
However, the Taliban face considerable challenges in their negotiations. The diffuse, decentralized and amorphous nature of the Taliban phenomenon has both strengths and weaknesses. Many of these benefits are operational, but internal discipline and cohesion become significant as insurgency gives way to coherent negotiations. Washington originally had hoped to hive off so-called “reconcilable” elements of the Taliban, and the United States and its allies have certainly had some successes in dealing with localized elements that carried the Taliban flag more as a convenience for personal gain or personal grievance. But recent years have been just as rife with Afghan government and security officials in particular changing sides in the other direction.

Internal discipline and cohesion are a challenge for any revolutionary entity — demonstrated all too clearly by the lack of cohesion of Libya’s National Transitional Council forces now that Moammar Gadhafi’s regime has fallen. As the Taliban’s objective of the withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces nears, the ability of the Taliban’s senior leadership to speak as one voice for the overall phenomenon — and with the demonstrated ability to control the overall phenomenon operationally as well as ideologically — is critical to the strength and credibility of the Taliban’s negotiating position.

As occurs with loosely affiliated groups and in agreements that result in winners and losers, some groups will seek to derail any settlement. Those groups will include what remains of al Qaeda and associated radicalized Islamist groups with a transnational agenda, other foreign fighters and even some locals who have a vested interest in the perpetuation of conflict. Whether the senior Taliban leadership headed by Mullah Omar can contain and manage all these countervailing forces remains to be seen. What is clear is that Mullah Omar is the best chance for a settlement to work. If he cannot manage these players, it is unclear who else might command anything like that sort of broad appeal and deference.


For its part, Kabul also understands the need for reconciliation, though it will obviously seek terms that maintain the strength and cohesion of the regime Karzai has built. But having seen his brother killed as part of the Taliban’s assassination campaign and having announced that he has no intention of seeking another term in office, Karzai also wants an honorable retirement — one in which he remains in Afghanistan as a prominent and influential figure free of the constant threat of assassination by an unrestrained Taliban. (To retire in, say, northern Virginia, would be considered not only comparatively dishonorable but a repudiation of everything Karzai had ostensibly built since the U.S. invasion in 2001.) In short, he wants to survive.


Islamabad has long intended to be in the center of any negotiated settlement regarding Afghanistan so that it can maximize its influence in terms of the settlement itself and in post-settlement Afghanistan. Pakistan seeks to end the ideological basis for the ongoing armed struggle in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In other words, Islamabad wants everyone with influence and power — particularly within the Pashtun belt — to reject continued violent resistance. This would give Islamabad the basis for a broadly supported offensive against anyone who continues to fight and would strengthen Pakistan’s hand in its war against the Pakistani Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Pakistan sees this ability to exercise force in a more limited, but more effective and comprehensive, way as key to a lasting stabilization on both sides of the border. (Given the inherently cross-border nature of populations and fighting, stabilizing its side of the border entails stabilizing both sides.) Islamabad believes this stability would allow more comprehensive and deliberate efforts at consolidating Pakistani influence in Afghanistan.

At the same time, Pakistan will try to halt and ultimately reverse the expansion of Indian influence in Afghanistan. Similarly, Pakistan will also push for as small a U.S. presence in the country as possible.

Whether this sort of comprehensive settlement is achievable is open to question. But both Kabul and Islamabad see the way matters remained unsettled after the Soviet withdrawal as a major factor in the subsequent decades’ instability and war.

United States

After a decade of war,  Washington is attempting to reorient its international military presence and the focus of its foreign policy toward regions of more pressing geopolitical and long-term strategic significance. Having executed the surge as planned, the White House is now firmly committed to withdrawing most of its forces, though what sort of residual and special operations presence might remain is another question.

The sooner a viable political accommodation can be reached, the more orderly the U.S. withdrawal — and the more stable the region — will be. But the counterterrorism and sanctuary denial mission — keeping pressure on what remains of al Qaeda and preventing the re-emergence of a sanctuary from which it can plan and orchestrate transnational operations — will require at best a small fraction of the forces currently deployed in the country.

The question moving forward, then, is how quickly the United States and its allies can extract themselves from Afghanistan and what sort of negotiated settlement might be possible in the interim.

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« Reply #1091 on: September 13, 2011, 07:31:16 PM »

Pak ad in the WSJ

Another way to look at that ad
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« Reply #1092 on: September 15, 2011, 06:49:11 PM »

Tuesday, September 13, 2011      


 A guide to dying in Pakistan —Fahd Husain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The writer hosts a primetime show on a private TV channel. He can be reached at
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« Reply #1093 on: September 16, 2011, 03:29:11 PM »

Agenda: With George Friedman on the Taliban Strategy
September 16, 2011 | 1326 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:

The past week’s attacks by the Taliban on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul may not yet have had a psychological impact on the United States, but it does cast doubt on the Obama administration’s claims of progress in the war. STRATFOR CEO Dr. George Friedman suggests the well-planned strike was aimed at improving the Taliban’s negotiating position.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Related Links
Afghanistan Weekly War Update: U.S. Embassy in Kabul Attacked as Ambassador Discusses Talks with Taliban
Taliban Attacks Seek Broader Strategic Payoff

Colin: In Agenda this week, just when U.S. coalition commanders and political leaders are assuring us they’re making solid progress in Afghanistan, the Taliban exposed the inability of security forces to protect prime targets in Kabul, like the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters. Eventually, their attackers quashed, but to what extent have the Taliban delivered a psychological blow to the United States and its allies?

Colin: Welcome to Agenda with George Friedman. George, the Taliban operation failed militarily but it has people thinking, hasn’t it?

George: Well, first, let’s define what happened. There was an attack on a complex of facilities, command and control facilities, in Afghanistan. The battle went on for 24 hours. It was demonstrated that the Taliban was able to penetrate the defenses and that it would take very long time for Western forces, allied forces, to root them out. Well, that may not have created a psychological effect, but it certainly has created a military effect. Because that means that security around these facilities, and really facilities all over Afghanistan, is going to be strengthened. And in doing that, that means that personnel will be diverted from counterinsurgency missions to other missions. So anytime you have a successful attack or an attack that makes the other side uncomfortable, there is a diversion of forces to the defensive, and that always benefits. But clearly, something important is going on politically in this. We know that discussions are going on between the Taliban, the Karzai government, the United States, and we know that because it’s been stated by senior leaders on all sides. In a negotiating situation of guerrilla war, we always refer back to Vietnam, which is a pretty good example. And in Vietnam, we have the example of, well two examples really, during the war against the French — the example of Dien Bien Phu, where the North Vietnamese, the Communists in that case, conducted an attack against a French outpost that was overrun, which created a psychological sense that the French could not possibly win. And then we think of the Tet Offensive in 1968 against the United States, which, although it turned into a military defeat for the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong, it was a psychological blow against the United States because it essentially took the American narrative, which is that the North Vietnamese were weakening, that they were no longer able to mount an offensive against the United States, of that sort, and made it appear to be untrue. In the end they may have well weakening, but they could mount an offensive. And that drew into question the credibility of the Johnson administration and, not incidentally, had a serious effect on his decision not to run for president. The United States is now, again, in a presidential election. The Obama administration has been talking about how it has put the Taliban on the defensive, how it’s getting weaker and weaker, and the Taliban has mounted an attack which could show, depending on how you read it, that they are not only far from beaten, but have substantial capabilities. This is a very important story because, even though this may not directly have had an impact on the psychology of the United States, should the Taliban be able to mount multiple attacks of this sort, it would raise serious doubts about the Obama administration’s claims to having put them on the defensive and would also set the stage for an effective negotiating process from the Taliban point of view

Colin: But Dien Bien Phu and the Tet Offensive got heavy playing in global media. These attacks didn’t stay on the front pages for long at all.

George: Well I think, you know, it may have been, that the Taliban underestimated the extent to which the Western media has deteriorated since Vietnam so that these other stories were there. Fortunately, Michael Jackson didn’t die this week or it wouldn’t have been noticed it all. But, I think the point is Dien Bien Phu lasted for a very long time. The Tet Offensive also lasted for quite a while. This did not last for a very long time. We don’t know that this last offensive — not the beginning of multiple offenses, and we don’t know their other plans on attacking both there and other places. The fear of the United States ought to be that the Taliban begins assaulting the various outposts the United States has and begins taking prisoners. This became a very important factor for the North Vietnamese. I think the Taliban are looking at the North Vietnamese playbook carefully. I don’t know they’re able to do that, but I’m sure they would like that. So I think we should look at this as the first attempt and however long it takes the media to notice will depend on how many other events are taking place in the day, but, in due course, it is something that is going to undermine the credibility of the Obama administration’s claims on Afghanistan.

Colin: And particularly, the claim security could be handed over to the Karzai government?

George: I don’t think anybody’s claiming we can just leave it to the Afghans now. They are claiming that the trajectory is leading toward that. But the point I wanted to make, that is very important, is that this was not a minor target. This was a major target — it was a headquarters. It was in a very heavily guarded area. The Taliban clearly intended, and planned very carefully and devoted some very good troops to this operation because bad troops wouldn’t have succeeded in holding out as long as they did in penetrating the area. And I don’t think that the Taliban did this casually. I think they did this testing the waters to see whether this would have the impact they want. I strongly suspect they will be back for more and they will continue to act until he could no longer be ignored. Its sort of what Al Qaeda did. They first attacked the East African embassies, they then attacked the Cole. These were not responded to dramatically by the United States. They finally mounted an attack that even the media couldn’t ignore — that was 9/11 of course — and so I think we are now in in a situation where the Taliban is testing the waters.

Colin: Of course there are other actors in this, like Pakistan. I see American officials have blamed the Pakistani-based Haqqani group. They say they may have been responsible. What would Islamabad be thinking?

George: Well, I think Islamabad has been telling Washington, for a long time, that the the situation in Afghanistan is not under control, that their intelligence tells them that Taliban is quite robust and biding its time, and I think that the Pakistanis would vigorously deny any involvement in this at all. But remember, the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is rather arbitrary. Their are people on both sides of the border who want the same thing, and I would not be surprised, given the fact the Taliban uses Pakistan as a sanctuary, that there are others who plan this attack with them. But this simply makes the situation that the Americans face, all the more difficult. Because if those American claims are true, then defeating the Taliban becomes that much more difficult. It also makes it more difficult to negotiate the kind of settlement the United States wants. And so, if the American charge is true, what the United States is really saying is that the war is in much more serious trouble, than we might think otherwise, because the planning is going on from Pakistan.

Colin: Now the Taliban have opened up a political office in Qatar, where U.S. Central Command is located, what do you think President Obama would try for a settlement before the election?

George: Well, according to what’s been said by the administration, they are attempting to negotiate with the Taliban right now. I think, either way you play it politically, it’s equally troubling for President Obama if he doesn’t have peace by the time the election, the charge can be made that he has an open-ended war, that he doubled-down on Bush’s policy, and be criticized by both sides of the spectrum. If he does make an agreement, it will be charged that he capitulated to the enemy. He’s going to have to live with it either way. The worst thing that could happen to him, is to be suffering a series of significant defeats with large and growing American casualties, Americans captured on the ground and things like that. That is the thing that he is going to have a great deal of difficulty with. Its not that he isn’t going to have difficulty no matter what he does, but that’s his worst-case scenario. He really, if there is a Taliban offensive under way, he really needs to shut it down fast for political reasons, as well as military.

Colin: George Friedman, thank you, and thank you for watching Agenda. Until next time, goodbye.

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« Reply #1094 on: September 17, 2011, 08:55:39 PM »

Nothing new here...but the US has started to explicitly indicate that paki govt is involved..

U.S. ambassador says evidence links Pakistan to militant group
By the CNN Wire Staff
September 18, 2011 -- Updated 0052 GMT (0852 HKT)
Ambassador Cameron Munter says evidence ties the Haqqani network to Pakistan
U.S. officials blame the Haqqani network for this week's attack in Kabul
They consider the network one of the most significant threats to Afghanistan's stability
Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, and Adm. Michael Mullen meet in Spain
(CNN) -- The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan accused the government there of having links to the Haqqani network, a pro-Taliban militant group that U.S. officials blame for this week's attack on the U.S. Embassy and NATO command center in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Speaking to Radio Pakistan, Ambassador Cameron Munter said relations between the United States and Pakistan "need a lot of work" and urged closer cooperation. The interview was available Saturday on the Radio Pakistan website.
A Taliban assault on the U.S. Embassy and NATO command center in central Kabul was brought to a bloody end Wednesday with the deaths of half a dozen militants. Four policemen and two civilians were killed and 27 injured in that attack and a handful of other incidents across Kabul, according to Afghan government figures.
"The attack that took place in Kabul a few days ago -- that was the work of the Haqqani network," Munter told Radio Pakistan. "There is evidence linking the Haqqani network to the Pakistani government. This is something that must stop. We have to make sure that we work together to fight terrorism."
U.S. officials have previously blamed this week's attack on the Haqqani network, a pro-Taliban militant group based in Pakistan's North Waziristan region. They have also previously accused the Pakistani government of maintaining a relationship with that network.
Still, Munter's comments are noteworthy for their timing, amid heightened tensions between Pakistan and the United States, and because of their blunt nature.
They came one day after U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen told his Pakistani counterpart he was deeply concerned about the brazenness of attacks being staged by operatives loyal to the Haqqani network.
During a lengthy one-on-one meeting in Seville, Spain, Mullen "conveyed his deep concerns about the increasing -- and increasingly brazen -- activities of the Haqqani network and restated his strong desire to see the Pakistani military take action against them and their safe havens in North Waziristan," Capt. John Kirby, Mullen's spokesman, told CNN.
Mullen believes that "elements" of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, known as the ISI, "directly support" the Haqqani network, Kirby said.
The Haqqani network is aligned with the Taliban and al Qaeda and is considered one the most significant threats to stability in Afghanistan. U.S. officials believe Haqqani operatives are moving unfettered across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and are responsible for several recent high-profile attacks in Kabul, including this week's assault.
In late April, Mullen said on Pakistan's Geo TV that the ISI has a "long-standing relationship" with the Haqqani network.
Pakistani officials have denied the existence of such a relationship.
Mullen, who is retiring at the end of this month, met with Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, for more than two hours in what was their final official meeting. Both men were in Spain to attend a high-level NATO military meeting.
"They agreed that the relationship between our two countries remained vital to the region and that both sides had taken positive steps to improve that relationship over the past few months. They also discussed the state of military-to-military cooperation and pledged to continue to find ways to make it better," Kirby said.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan's Interior Minister Bismillah Muhammadi avoided blaming Pakistan directly for this week's attack in Kabul. However, he used the phase "across the borders of Afghanistan," a typical way of referring to Pakistan, in connection to the recovered phones of the attackers.
"The six cell phones we found on them, and the evidence we got on them all shows that this plot was made across the borders of Afghanistan," he said. "Without doubt they are across the borders of Afghanistan. They get equipped, they get trained there, and then they get sent here for killing of our people."
CNN's Barbara Starr in Washington contributed to this report.
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« Reply #1095 on: September 20, 2011, 01:09:12 PM »

The Evolution of a Pakistani Militant Network
September 15, 2011

By Sean Noonan and Scott Stewart

For many years now, STRATFOR has been carefully following the evolution of “Lashkar-e-Taiba” (LeT), the name of a Pakistan-based jihadist group that was formed in 1990 and existed until about 2001, when it was officially abolished. In subsequent years, however, several major attacks were attributed to LeT, including the November 2008 coordinated assault in Mumbai, India. Two years before that attack we wrote that the group, or at least its remnant networks, were nebulous but still dangerous. This nebulous nature was highlighted in November 2008 when the “Deccan Mujahideen,” a previously unknown group, claimed responsibility for the Mumbai attacks.

While the most famous leaders of the LeT networks, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, are under house arrest and in jail awaiting trial, respectively, LeT still poses a significant threat. It’s a threat that comes not so much from LeT as a single jihadist force but LeT as a concept, a banner under which various groups and individuals can gather, coordinate and successfully conduct attacks.

Such is the ongoing evolution of the jihadist movement. And as this movement becomes more diffuse, it is important to look at brand-name jihadist groups like LeT, al Qaeda, the Haqqani network and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan as loosely affiliated networks more than monolithic entities. With a debate under way between and within these groups over who to target and with major disruptions of their operations by various military and security forces, the need for these groups to work together in order to carry out sensational attacks has become clear. The result is a new, ad hoc template for jihadist operations that is  not easily defined and even harder for government leaders to explain to their constituents and reporters to explain to their readers.

Thus, brand names like Lashkar-e-Taiba (which means Army of the Pure) will continue to be used in public discourse while the planning and execution of high-profile attacks grows ever more complex. While the threat posed by these networks to the West and to India may not be strategic, the possibility of disparate though well-trained militants working together and even with organized-crime elements does suggest a continuing tactical threat that is worth examining in more detail.

The Network Formerly Known as Lashkar-e-Taiba

The history of the group of militants and preachers who created LeT and their connections with other groups helps us understand how militant groups develop and work together. Markaz al-Dawa wal-Irshad (MDI) and its militant wing, LeT, was founded with the help of transnational militants based in Afghanistan and aided by the Pakistani government. This allowed it to become a financially-independent social-service organization that was able to divert a significant portion of its funding to its militant wing.

The first stirrings of militancy within this network began in 1982, when Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi traveled from Punjab, Pakistan, to Paktia, Afghanistan, to fight with Deobandi militant groups. Lakhvi, who is considered to have been the military commander of what was known as LeT and is awaiting trial for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, adheres to an extreme version of the Ahl-e-Hadith (AeH) interpretation of Islam, which is the South Asian version of the Salafist-Wahhabist trend in the Arab world. In the simplest of terms, AeH is more conservative and traditional than the doctrines of most militant groups operating along the Durand Line. Militants there tend to follow an extreme brand of the Deobandi branch of South Asian Sunni Islam, similar to the extreme ideology of al Qaeda’s Salafist jihadists.

Lakhvi created his own AeH-inspired militant group in 1984, and a year later two academics, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and Zafar Iqbal, created Jamaat ul-Dawa, an Islamist AeH social organization. Before these groups were formed there was already a major AeH political organization called Jamaat AeH, led by the most well-known Pakistani AeH scholar, the late Allama Ehsan Elahi Zaheer, who was assassinated in Lahore in 1987. His death allowed Saeed and Lakhvi’s movement to take off. It is important to note that AeH adherents comprise a very small percentage of Pakistanis and that those following the movement launched by Saeed and Lakhvi represent only a portion of those who ascribe to AeH’s ideology.

In 1986, Saeed and Lakhvi joined forces, creating Markaz al-Dawa wal-Irshad (MDI) in Muridke, near Lahore, Pakistan. MDI had 17 founders, including Saeed and Lakhvi as well as transnational militants originally from places like Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian territories. While building facilities in Muridke for social services, MDI also established its first militant training camp in Paktia, then another in Kunar, Afghanistan, in 1987. Throughout the next three decades, these camps often were operated in cooperation with other militant groups, including al Qaeda.

MDI was established to accomplish two related missions. The first involved peaceful, above-board activities like medical care, education, charitable work and proselytizing. Its second and equally important mission was military jihad, which the group considered obligatory for all Muslims. The group first fought in Afghanistan along with Jamaat al-Dawa al-Quran wal-Suna, a hardline Salafist group that shared MDI’s ideology. Jamil al-Rahman, the group’s leader at the time, provided support to MDI’s first militant group and continued to work with MDI until his death in 1987.

The deaths of al-Rahman and Jamaat AeH leader Allama Ehsan Elahi Zaheer in 1987 gave the leaders of the nascent MDI the opportunity to supplant Jamaat al-Dawa al-Quran wal-Suna and Jamaat AeH and grow quickly.

In 1990, the growing MDI officially launched LeT as its militant wing under the command of Lakhvi, while Saeed remained emir of the overall organization. This was when LeT first began to work with other groups operating in Kashmir, since the Soviets had left Afghanistan and many of the foreign mujahideen there were winding down their operations. In 1992, when the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was finally defeated, many foreign militants who had fought in Afghanistan left to fight in other places like Kashmir. LeT is also known to have sent fighters to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Tajikistan, but Kashmir became the group’s primary focus.

MDI/LeT explained its concentration on Kashmir by arguing that it was the closest Muslim territory that was occupied by non-believers. Since MDI/LeT was a Punjabi entity, Kashmir was also the most accessible theater of jihad for the group. Due to the group’s origin and the history of the region, Saeed and other members also bore personal grudges against India. In the 1990s, MDI/LeT also received substantial support from the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) and military, which had its own interest in supporting operations in Kashmir. At this point, MDI/LeT developed relations with other groups operating in Kashmir, such as Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Jihad e-Islami and Jaish-e-Mohammad. Unlike these groups, however, MDI/LeT was considered easier to control because its AeH sect of Islam was not very large and did not have the support of the main AeH groups. With Pakistan’s support came certain restraints, and many LeT trainees said that as part of their indoctrination into the group they were made to promise never to attack Pakistan.

LeT expanded its targeting beyond Kashmir to the rest of India in 1992, after the destruction of the Babri Masjid mosque during communal rioting in Uttar Pradesh state, and similar unrest in Mumbai and Gujarat. LeT sent Azam Cheema, who Saeed and Iqbal knew from their university days, to recruit fighters in India. Indian militants from a group called Tanzim Islahul Muslimeen were recruited into LeT, which staged its first major attack with five coordinated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on trains in Mumbai and Hyderabad on Dec. 5-6, 1993, the first anniversary of the destruction of the Babri Masjid mosque. These are the first attacks in non-Kashmir India that can be linked to LeT. The group used Tanzim Islahul Muslimeen networks in the 1990s and later developed contacts with the Student Islamic Movement of India and its offshoot militant group the Indian Mujahideen.

The Student Islamic Movement of India/Indian Mujahideen network was useful in recruiting and co-opting operatives, but it is a misconception to think these indigenous Indian groups worked directly for LeT. In some cases, Pakistanis from LeT provided IED training and other expertise to Indian militants who carried out attacks, but these groups, while linked to the LeT network, maintained their autonomy. The most recent attacks in India — Sept. 7 in Delhi and  July 13 in Mumbai — probably have direct ties to these networks.

Between 1993 and 1995, LeT received its most substantial state support from Pakistan, which helped build up LeT’s military capability by organizing and training its militants and providing weapons, equipment, campaign guidance and border-crossing support in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. LeT operated camps on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border as well as in Kashmir, in places like Muzaffarabad.

At the same time, MDI built up a major social-services network, building schools and hospitals and setting up charitable foundations throughout Pakistan, though centered in Punjab. Its large complex in Muridke included schools, a major hospital and a mosque. Some of its funding came through official Saudi channels while other funding came through non-official channels via Saudi members of MDI such as Abdul Rahman al-Surayhi and Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq, who reportedly facilitated much of the funding to establish the original Muridke complex.

As MDI focused on dawah, or the preaching of Islam, it simultaneously developed an infrastructure that was financially self-sustaining. For example, it established Al-Dawah schools throughout Pakistan that charged fees to those who could afford it and it began taxing its adherents. It also became well-known for its charitable activities, placing donation boxes throughout Pakistan. The group developed a reputation as an efficient organization that provides quality social services, and this positive public perception has made it difficult for the Pakistani government to crack down on it.

On July 12, 1999, LeT carried out its first fidayeen, or suicide commando, attack in Kashmir. Such attacks focus on inflicting as much damage as possible before the attackers are killed. Their goal also was to engender as much fear as possible and introduce a new intensity to the conflict there. This attack occurred during the Kargil war, when Pakistani soldiers along with its sponsored militants fought a pitched battle against Indian troops in the Kargil district of Kashmir. This was the height of Pakistani state support for the various militant groups operating in Kashmir, and it was a critical, defining period for the LeT, which shifted its campaign from one focused exclusively on Kashmir to one focused on India as a whole.

State support for LeT and other militant groups declined after the Kargil war but fidayeen attacks continued and began to occur outside of Kashmir. In the late 1990s and into the 2000s, there was much debate within LeT about its targeting. When LeT was constrained operationally in Kashmir by its ISI handlers, some members of the group wanted to conduct attacks in other places. It’s unclear at this point which attacks had Pakistani state support and which did not, but the timing of many in relation to the ebb and flow of the Pakistani-Indian political situation indicates Pakistani support and control, even if it came only from factions within the ISI or military. The first LeT attack outside of Kashmir took place on Dec. 22, 2000, against the Red Fort in Delhi.

The Post-9/11 Name Game

In the months following 9/11, many Pakistan-based jihadist groups were “banned” by the Pakistani government. They were warned beforehand and moved their funds into physical assets or under different names. LeT claimed that it split with MDI, with new LeT leader Maula Abdul Wahid al-Kashmiri saying the group now was strictly a Kashmiri militant organization. Despite these claims, however, Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi was still considered supreme commander. MDI was dissolved and replaced by Jamaat-ul-Dawa, the original name used by Saeed and Iqbal’s group. Notably, both al-Kashmiri and Lakhvi were also part of the Jamaat-ul-Dawa executive board, indicating that close ties remained between the two groups.

In January 2002, LeT was declared illegal, and the Pakistani government began to use the word “defunct” to describe it. In reality it wasn’t defunct; it had begun merely operating under different names. The group’s capability to carry out attacks was temporarily limited, probably on orders from the Pakistani government through Jamaat-ul-Dawa’s leadership.

At this point, LeT’s various factions began to split and re-network in various ways. For example, Abdur Rehman Syed, a senior operational planner involved in David Headley’s surveillance of Mumbai targets, left LeT around 2004. As a major in the Pakistani army he had been ordered to fight fleeing Taliban on the Durand Line in 2001. He refused and joined LeT. In 2004 he began working with Ilyas Kashmiri and Harkat-ul-Jihad e-Islami. Two other senior LeT leaders, former Pakistani Maj. Haroon Ashiq and his brother Capt. Kurram Ashiq, had left Pakistan’s Special Services Group to join LeT around 2001. By 2003 they had exited the group and were criticizing Lakhvi, the former LeT military commander.

Despite leaving the larger organization, former members of the MDI/LeT still often use the name “Lashkar-e-Taiba” in their public rhetoric when describing their various affiliations, even though they do not consider their new organizations to be offshoots of LeT. The same difficulties observers face in trying to keep track of these spun-off factions has come to haunt the factions themselves, which have a branding problem as they try to raise money or recruit fighters. New names don’t have the same power as the well-established LeT brand, and many of the newer organizations continue to use the LeT moniker in some form.

Operating Outside of South Asia

Organizations and networks that were once part of LeT have demonstrated the capability to carry out insurgent attacks in Afghanistan, small-unit attacks in Kashmir, fidayeen assaults in Kashmir and India and small IED attacks throughout the region. Mumbai in 2008 was the most spectacular attack by an LeT offshoot on an international scale, but to date the network has not demonstrated the capability to conduct complex attacks outside the region. That said, David Headley’s surveillance efforts in Denmark and other plots linked to LeT training camps and factions do seem to have been inspired by al Qaeda’s transnational jihadist influence.

To date, these operations have failed, but they are worth noting. These transnational LeT-linked plotters include the following:

The Virginia Jihad Network.
Dhiren Barot (aka Abu Eisa al-Hind), a Muslim convert of Indian origin who grew up in the United Kingdom, was arrested there in 2004 and was accused of a 2004 plot to detonate vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices in underground parking lots and surveilling targets in the United States in 2000-2001 for al Qaeda. He originally learned his craft in LeT training camps in Pakistan.
David Hicks, an Australian who was in LeT camps in 1999 and studied at one of their madrassas. LeT provided a letter of introduction to al Qaeda, which he joined in January 2001. He was captured in Afghanistan following the U.S.-led invasion.
Omar Khyam of the United Kingdom, who attended LeT training camps in 2000 before his family brought him home.
The so-called “Crevice Network,” members of which were arrested in 2004 and charged with attempting to build fertilizer-based IEDs in the United Kingdom under the auspices of al Qaeda.
Willie Brigette, who had been connected to LeT networks in France and was trying to contact a bombmaker in Australia in order to carry out attacks there when he was arrested in October 2003.
While these cases suggest that the LeT threat persists, they also indicate that the transnational threat posed by those portions of the network focused on attacks outside of South Asia does not appear to be as potent as the attack in Mumbai in 2008. One reason is the Pakistani support offered to those who focus on operations in South Asia and particularly those who target India. Investigations of the Mumbai attack revealed that current or former ISI officers provided a considerable amount of training, operational support and even real-time guidance to the Mumbai attack team.

It is unclear how far up the Pakistani command structure this support goes. The most important point, though, is that Pakistani support in the Mumbai attack provided the group responsible with capabilities that have not been demonstrated by other parts of the network in other plots. In fact, without this element of state support, many transnational plots linked to the LeT network have been forced to rely on the same kind of “Kramer jihadists” in the West that the al Qaeda core has employed in recent years.

However, while these networks have not shown the capability to conduct a spectacular attack since Mumbai, they continue to plan. With both the capability and intention in place, it is probably only a matter of time before they conduct additional attacks in India. The historical signature of LeT attacks has been the use of armed assault tactics — taught originally by the ISI and institutionalized by LeT doctrine — so attacks of this sort can be expected. An attack of this sort outside of South Asia would be a stretch for the groups that make up the post-LeT networks, but the cross-pollination that is occurring among the various jihadist actors in Pakistan could help facilitate planning and even operations if they pool resources. Faced with the full attention of global counterterrorism efforts, such cooperation may be one of the only ways that the transnational jihad can hope to gain any traction, especially as its efforts to foster independent grassroots jihadists have been largely ineffective.

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« Reply #1096 on: September 21, 2011, 10:01:04 AM »

Afghan Assassination Raises Questions As Negotiations Begin

On Tuesday, Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of the High Peace Council in Afghanistan, was assassinated in a suicide attack at his residence. While local and foreign officials confirmed his death, the details surrounding his assassination remain unclear. According to the head of the criminal investigation division of the Kabul police, Mohammad Zahir, Rabbani was meeting two Taliban representatives who were escorted by senior members of the peace council for talks at Rabbani’s residence. The Afghan interior ministry confirmed that one of the suicide attackers was arrested. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for Rabbani’s assassination approximately three hours after the attack. He said that two Taliban suicide bombers had met Rabbani under the pretext of talks and added that the attack killed the other suicide bomber, along with four of Rabbani’s guards. Mujahid typically claims militant Taliban attacks and reportedly has links with the Haqqani network, an autonomous branch of the Taliban.

“The U.S.-Taliban negotiating track is still in its developing phases, and now is the time to shape it.”
Significant gaps remain, however, in the Taliban claims and in the official Afghan statements. The most pressing preliminary unknown is the identity of the attackers. Taliban suicide bombers do not typically rise above the rank of foot soldiers — far short of negotiators with private access to Rabbani. Nor do we know how the two attackers infiltrated the strong layer of security that surrounds Rabbani’s residence in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood.

The attack comes as U.S.-Taliban negotiations, mediated by Pakistan, are in their initial phases. While we are currently seeing greater coordination between the Pakistan, Taliban and Haqqani triad, several factions within each group may be attempting to derail negotiations to work in their favor.

This calls into question why Rabbani would be targeted for an attack. Rabbani, an ethnic Tajik, was the president of Afghanistan from 1992-1996. He was overthrown by the Taliban and assumed political leadership of the Northern Alliance, in league with legendary Tajik leader Ahmed Shah Massoud. Afghan President Hamid Karzai made Rabbani chairman of the High Peace Council for good reason: Rabbani was well respected as one of the leading mujahideen leaders during the Soviet days. More importantly, as an influential representative of the minority Tajik community, Rabbani could counter resistance from Afghan Tajiks who were opposed to dealing on any level with their Taliban rivals. Rabbani also had his fair share of enemies — he was allegedly deeply involved in the Afghan drug trade, and as one of the main U.S. financial conduits in Afghanistan, he was reportedly taking more than his share of commission from money flows out of the United States.

The circumstances of Rabbani’s death remain unclear, but we can’t help but be reminded of the al Qaeda assassination of Ahmed Shah Massoud two days prior to 9/11. Massoud was killed in an intimate setting by a two-man Arab team carrying an explosives-laden video camera under the pretext of conducting an interview. Massoud was a resilient Northern Alliance leader, capable of standing up to the Taliban’s political authority — an obstacle that al Qaeda needed to get rid of.

Rabbani, who was filling Massoud’s shoes as the lead representative of the Tajiks, posed a strategic hurdle to the Taliban. The U.S.-Taliban negotiating track is still in its developing phases, and now is the time to shape it. Rabbani’s assassination creates a power vacuum within the factions in the North and allows the Taliban to push their demands for political dominance in any postwar political arrangement. If this is what the Taliban were actually calculating in assassinating Rabbani (and if the Taliban actually carried out this assassination), it leaves the United States in a highly uncomfortable position. As Marine Gen. John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force put it, the Rabbani assassination represents “another outrageous indicator that, regardless of what Taliban leadership outside the country say, they do not want peace, but rather war.”

The biggest question moving forward is the assassination’s impact on negotiations. The United States has to wonder whether Mullah Omar is a credible negotiator — and whether it can feel safe sending a representative to negotiate with the Taliban. Yet at the end of the day, the United States has no choice but to engage in an unsavory negotiation with the Taliban — and this may be what the Taliban were calculating all along.

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« Reply #1097 on: September 22, 2011, 06:44:45 PM »

US bomb warning to Pakistan ignored
American commander asked Pakistan's army chief to halt truck bomb two days before an explosion wounded 77 near Kabul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He warned that Pakistan was heading towards international isolation. "If it keeps going like this, it could end up like Syria – before the Arab spring."
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« Reply #1098 on: September 23, 2011, 07:18:57 PM »

Routes into Afghanistan...the easiest is through Iran (Chabahar), but relations are bad with Iran.

« Last Edit: September 23, 2011, 09:33:42 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #1099 on: September 24, 2011, 11:02:18 AM »

Ummm , , , correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it the departing McMullen, now free to speak plainly, and other elements of the military who are leading the way on this, not Baraq? 

Anyway, as our YA has been leading the way around here, Pakistan's true nature is becoming clearer to the American people.
America's most impossible foreign relationship just got worse. The U.S. on Thursday publicly accused Pakistan's intelligence service of aiding the terrorist Haqqani network in northern Pakistan. This remarkable public accusation came after last week's attack by the Haqqani clan on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Pakistan's tolerance for the Haqqani family and its pro-Taliban terrorist army in northern Pakistan is the sort of behavior that makes the Pakistanis, as a top Obama security official once put it to us, "the most difficult people in the world to deal with." No one has worked harder to make the relationship work than soon-to-depart Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen. Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, Admiral Mullen said, "The government of Pakistan and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI [the Inter-Services Intelligence agency]" have decided "to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy."

Admiral Mullen added that the Haqqani network "with ISI support" had carried out the truck bombing on September 10 in Kabul that wounded 77 NATO troops and killed five Afghans. Lest anyone miss the message, Admiral Mullen said bluntly that the Haqqani network "acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency."

These statements walk right to the edge of accusing Pakistan, a nominal ally, of committing acts of war against the United States. To be sure, the U.S. didn't say the ISI had actually planned the Haqqani raids but that the spy agency was abetting the operations of the group, whose goal is to kill U.S. troops on the way to overthrowing the Afghan government.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said as well, "We've made clear that we are going to do everything we have to do defend our forces."

In short, earth to Pakistan: Clear out this threat in your northern provinces, or the U.S. will do it alone, either with drone attacks or cross-border raids.

The Haqqanis, along with the Quetta Shura of Mullah Omar in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, pose the most significant threat to the success of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Both groups provide crucial support to the Afghan Taliban operations against American and NATO forces. The Afghan government this week said the Quetta Shura was behind the suicide-bomber assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kabul.

In Islamabad yesterday, Pakistan's foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, tried to play the indispensable-ally card, suggesting that the U.S. "cannot afford to alienate Pakistan."

No doubt it would be in the long-term strategic interests of both countries to remain allies. But there is a larger reality. The U.S. cannot be seen before the world, or more especially by the American people, turning a blind eye to Pakistan's complicity in the murder of U.S. citizens serving in Afghanistan.

The U.S. now has a range of options available, from designating the Haqqani network a foreign terrorist organization (as a prelude to hitting its finances); withholding $1 billion in military aid to Pakistan in the absence of antiterrorist cooperation; or hitting the Haqqanis ourselves. Pakistan's leadership, among its myriad delusions, believes its status as a nuclear power somehow frees it to reduce its relationship with the U.S. to the same crude and cynical status as its relations with the homicidal Haqqanis.

That's false, and the Obama Administration deserves credit for publicly putting Pakistan's impossible-to-tolerate behavior on the table.

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