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Topic: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan (Read 251388 times)
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1150 on:
November 05, 2011, 01:02:50 PM »
Probable Future Paki leader...Imran Khan
Imran Khan and his Tehreek-e-Insaf held a mammoth rally at the Minar-e-Pakistan Lahore on 30 October 2011 - estimated by the ISI to be two-lakh strong - and put the fear of God in both the PMLN and the PPP that Imran Khan had been targeting. He pushed the familiar buttons: challenged India on Kashmir, vowed to replace the US with China as Pakistan's ally, threatened corrupt politicians with civil disobedience 'in a few months', and foresaw midterm general election after March 2012.
Imran Khan has taken big strides in putting the country on notice about his party's political potential. He says he can win elections and form governments. That is what he should say as a politician, but the fact is that a lot of people have joined him in his rallying call to get rid of both the parties more or less settled into the groove of Pakistan's bipartisan system. Imran Khan is without the usual blemish of corruption; and his charity work places him above every other politician in the country.
He has an extreme posture, or at least he had before the party profile improved and he became conscious that Insaf may get more breakaway votes than he had counted on. In one of his latest TV shows he seemed more moderate than before about relations with India and the US, about tackling terrorism and the economy. Some of the recipes were romantic but that is quite forgivable in a person who has no experience of governance, doesn't know in depth how capitalist economics works, and is simply practising the pre-election hyperbole of the normal politician.
Yet his insistence that he would extend the tax net is the right thing to say although the number of people paying income tax in India is proportionately not much bigger and that takes nothing away from India's success a country with a high growth rate. Corruption and money stashed away abroad too has not distracted positive attention to India's law and order and a much better educational system.
Will Imran Khan embrace the more aggressive version of Islam which the Taliban have showcased in the Tribal Areas by cutting hands and stoning people to death? Will he oppose hudood the way Allama Iqbal did in his Sixth Lecture? Above all will he fight the Taliban if they reject him?
Bad governance in Pakistan is not linked to corruption and the Zardari Factor; it is clearly linked to terrorism and the presence of Al Qaeda in Pakistan with its Taliban followers fighting the state. Law and order is linked to the writ of the state which is non-existent in over 50 percent of the country and in cities like Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi. Imran Khan is opposed to the US presence in the region and Pakistan's collaboration with it in Afghanistan. The solution he has in mind is that the moment the US leaves and he comes to power, terrorism will stop in 90 days because the Taliban - Pakhtun and Punjabi - will simply return to being normal non-terrorist citizens of Pakistan. He is capitulatory to the Taliban; he is denunciatory of the political parties in power.
People who are scared of Al Qaeda and Taliban don't believe Imran Khan can bring peace in 90 days. They don't believe he can collect income tax to the level he promises - one trillion rupees extra in the first year in power - and his utopian governance through 200 perfect men seems too dreamlike. The pledge of gouging money from the corrupt and putting it back in the state kitty and getting politicians to bring their money back from foreign banks has been made in the past and has been belied by reality. Today money flees and comes back if the country has a soft image and there is law and order. Will Imran Khan give Pakistan a soft image?
Bad governance in Pakistan is not linked to corruption and the Zardari Factor; it is clearly linked to terrorism and the presence of Al Qaeda in Pakistan with its Taliban followers fighting the state. Law and order is linked to the writ of the state which is non-existent in over 50 percent of the country and in cities like Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi
In his book Pakistan: A Personal History (Bantam Press 2011), Imran Khan has handed us a clue about how his mind works and that could also be the reason why his party has been organisationally so neglected. Imran imbibed a strong sense of personal destiny. He recalls: 'Pir Gi from Sahiwal said I would be very famous and make my mother a household name' (p.89). Imran had announced his first retirement when he met another clairvoyant: 'Baba Chala, lived in a little village just a few miles from the Indian border. He certainly had not heard bout my retirement...the man looked at me and said I had not left my profession...It is the will of Allah; you are still in the game' (p.93).
The man who stood by him as his spiritual mentor was Mian Bashir (d.2005) who shocked him by naming the Quranic ayat his mother used to read to baby Imran and predicted that Allah had turned the tables in his favour in the Lamb-Botham libel suit whose reparations would have pauperised Imran (p.189). Mian Bashir also disarmed a sceptical Jemima by accurately guessing her three secret wishes (p.120).
From his sense of predestination comes his risk-taking character. But he says: 'The difference between a good leader and a bad one is that the former takes huge risks while fully grasping the consequences of failure. Leaders of a country shaping policies out of fear of losing power have always proved to be disastrous. Great leaders always have the ability to resist pressure and make policies according to their vision, rather than fear' (p.113).
One wonders how he will negotiate peace with the terrorists who have an ideology and say clearly that their aim is not only to get Pakistan out of the clutches of the US but also to impose the true sharia on Pakistan. And if warlords like Maulvi Faqir and Fazlullah and Mangal Bagh don't give ground, what will he do? We know Imran Khan's view of religion apart of the deeply spiritual clairvoyants he has been relying on. But will he embrace the more aggressive version which the Taliban have showcased in the Tribal Areas by cutting hands and stoning people to death? He is clearly wedded to the vision of Allama Iqbal. Will he oppose hudood the way the Allama did in his Sixth Lecture? Above all will he fight the Taliban if they reject him?
Probably shaken by a gallup survey that puts Imran Khan at the top of the popularity roster in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Maulana Fazlur Rehman has not been able to contain himself. Quoted in daily Jinnah (29 October 2011) he has lashed out at what he thinks is an un-Islamic 'walking together' by Imran with his divorced wife Jemima Khan who joined Imran in Islamabad in his campaign against drone attacks in the Tribal Areas. He said, 'Islam forbids mixing with one's divorcee wife; and it seems as if Imran Khan's future is still linked to Jemima Khan'.
If the MMA wants to make a comeback in KPK, Imran Khan definitely is not the favourite son of the religious parties. He was once roughed up by the Jamiat although the Jamaat Islami under Qazi Hussain Ahmad looked at him with favour. (Qazi Sahib said the funeral prayer for his late father.) But it is perhaps clear that no one - in addition to the PMLN - wants Imran Khan treading on their turf. The youth Imran Khan is attracting will probably take him further away from the religious parties and force him to distance the party from the pre-modern prescriptions that are so popular in the Muslim world. (His party already believes in joint electorates.) He was ignoring the non-Muslim minorities before the big Lahore rally but the fact is that they are a vote-bank waiting for him on the sidelines. The Christian backing to Shahbaz Sharif's show in Lahore on 28 October could be the writing on the wall.
Pakistan's top Urdu columnist Haroon Rashid, who is a bit of a loose cannon when it comes to analysing 'Captain' Imran Khan, and may share with him nothing more than his passion for 'desi murghi', wrote in Jang (29 October 2011) that if Imran Khan and his companions are true (sachay), they will do vigil (riyazat) and will place their trust in Allah who will give them the blinding (kheera-kun) conquest. The decisions, he wrote, were not taken on earth but in Heaven.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1151 on:
November 05, 2011, 01:35:52 PM »
As always, very appreciative of the informative posts from ya! Very interesting to learn about the leading candidate. Most unusual to have a most favored nation trade status one way but not mutual.
As a flippant aside, must say I am jealous of the regions of Pakistan that are completely outside the power of their central government.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1152 on:
November 12, 2011, 08:45:32 PM »
Karachi fashion week: male burkha coming to a street near you..
Last Edit: November 12, 2011, 08:47:14 PM by ya
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1153 on:
November 13, 2011, 10:44:57 AM »
Who is the designer?
Palace coup unfolding
Reply #1154 on:
November 17, 2011, 06:57:56 PM »
For those of you wondering what this Strat snippet means...see the article below.
"Pakistan: Ambassador To U.S. Offers To Resign
November 16, 2011 | 2109 GMT
Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani wrote a letter to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in which he offered to resign from his post because of his involvement with a memo allegedly sent from Zardari to former U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, The News International reported Nov. 16."
Is a Palace Coup Unfolding in Pakistan?
Posted: 11/16/11 10:36 AM ET
A palace coup could be in the offing in nuclear-armed Pakistan as pro-Taliban army generals try to undermine democratically elected civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari.
First indications that something foul was afoot in Islamabad came on the weekend when Pakistan's top four military officials, including powerful Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani became conspicuous by their absence at a state banquet hosted by President Zardari for the visiting President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan.
For Pakistan watchers, the presence or absence of the top military leadership at events organized by a civilian government is an indication of the state of relations between the Pakistan's poweful power-hungry military and the weak civilian administration in Islamabad.
The obvious boycott of a state dinner hosted by Pakistan's president by his top generals and admirals, who are supposedly answerable to him, was not the only signal that something sinister was taking place. The absence was followed by the resignation from the ruling party by the former foreign minister, which too was suspected to have come after prodding by the military.
The latest tug of war between the government of president Zardari and his generals erupted on October 11, 2011 when the Financial Times ran an op-ed titled "Time to take on Pakistan's Jihadis."
In the article, Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-American businessman, claimed he was contacted by a senior Pakistani diplomat close to President Zardari and asked to contact Admiral Mullen to prevent a military coup from taking place in Pakistan. The military was outraged and wanted heads to roll. Ijaz wrote:
"Early on May 9, a week after US Special Forces stormed the hideout of Osama bin Laden and killed him, a senior Pakistani diplomat telephoned me with an urgent request. Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan's president, needed to communicate a message to White House national security officials that would bypass Pakistan's military and intelligence channels.
The embarrassment of bin Laden being found on Pakistani soil had humiliated Mr Zardari's weak civilian government to such an extent that the president feared a military takeover was imminent. He needed an American fist on his army chief's desk to end any misguided notions of a coup - and fast."
Ijaz further claimed that a memo was drafted and delivered to Admiral Mullen on May 10.
"In a flurry of phone calls and emails over two days a memorandum was crafted that included a critical offer from the Pakistani president to the Obama administration: 'The new national security team will eliminate Section S of the ISI charged with maintaining relations to the Taliban, Haqqani network, etc. This will dramatically improve relations with Afghanistan.'"
The pro-military media in Pakistan suggested the diplomat in question was Pakistan's ambassador the U.S., former Boston University professor, Husain Haqqani --a man not liked by his country's Jihadis, whether civilian or military.
Both Admiral Mullen and Islamabad denied that any such back door diplomacy had taken place, but the denials could not put out the fire. What was ostensibly written as a critique of Pakistan's jihadi extremists in fact turned out to have the exact opposite effect. In a country where anti-Americanism is rife, the elected civilian government was made out to appear as lackeys of the U.S.
Could the writer have intended to weaken the government and strengthen the military? Mansoor Ijaz is not new to controversy. According to the International Herald Tribune's Pakistan edition, "a deeper look into Ijaz's background provides evidence that this hasn't been the first time the influential businessman has raised controversy concerning his alleged role as a secret international diplomat."
The IHT discloses that :
"In 1996, he was accused of trying to extort money from the Pakistani government in exchange for delivering votes in the US House of Representatives on a Pakistan-related trade provision. Ijaz, who runs the firm Crescent Investment Management LLC in New York, has been an interlocutor between U.S. officials and foreign government for years, amid constant accusations of financial conflicts of interest. He reportedly arranged meetings between U.S. officials and former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. He also reportedly gave over $1 million to Democratic politicians in the 1990s and attended Christmas events at former President Bill Clinton's White House. Ijaz has ties to former CIA Director James Woolsey and his investment firm partner is Reagan administration official James Alan Abrahamson."
Anywhere else a civilian diplomat warning directly or indirectly against a military coup would not be deemed wrong in itself. But in Pakistan, a civilian Prime Minister was toppled and arrested (Nawaz Sharif, in 1999 by General Musharraf) for simply trying to assert civilian control over the military. Even if Zardari and his diplomat had, as Ijaz claims, asked Ijaz to contact the American government to use its influence against a military coup, there was nothing unlawful or unconstitutional in what he did. But in Pakistan, Ijaz's claims have provoked circumstances that are threatening at least the sacking of a respected ambassador and possibly undermining civilian rule.
Knowing the workings of Pakistan's intelligence services, Ijaz's article could have been part of a plan by the ISI to destabilize Pakistani democracy once again.
On Monday, the moves by the military triggered a closed-door meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and the country's dour Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani followed by another meeting between Zardari and the Chief of Army Staff Gen. Kayani.
The generals are adamant. President Zardari has being asked to summon his ambassador to the U.S. back to Islamabad for a full dressing down by the junta. According to the Pakistani newspaper The News, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani decided on Monday to call Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to Washington, to Islamabad to brief the country's leadership on a host of issues impacting on Pak-U.S. relations and recent developments."
Long before Haqqani was appointed as Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S., he had exposed the close links between the Pakistan military and the country's Islamist jihadis in his book, Pakistan: Between Mosque and the Military. For that sin, the men in boots have never forgiven the man they cannot control.
Haqqani, described by Bloomberg as the "hardest working man in DC," has been in the sights of the Pak Army and its intelligence wing, the ISI, who do not trust the academic. They fear he has exposed their attempts to double-cross the USA and as such want his skin as a price for allowing Zardari to stay in power.
The developments in Islamabad and the demand by the army to fire Haqqani should also be seen in light of the sudden rise in the profile of Pakistan's leading pro-Taliban politician, former cricketer Imran Khan. The establishment in Pakistan has run a brilliant campaign to project Khan as both a patriotic Islamist as well as a liberal. Using his Oxford background, he cultivates the ultimate anti-American modernist who has charmed the urban middle classes as the 'non-politician.'
Because of the Kerry-Lugar Bill, the army cannot overthrow an elected government as it used to do in the past, but the generals and the ISI are propping up a Khan and demanding the firing of the liberal Haqqani.
The sad part is that Islamist influence inside the U.S. State Department may result in a nod of approval to the Khakis to trigger a civilian coup. If Ambassador Haqqani is fired, can president Zardari be far behind?
Last Edit: November 17, 2011, 07:36:15 PM by Crafty_Dog
WSJ: O'Hanlon & Wolfowitz offer a strategy
Reply #1155 on:
November 22, 2011, 10:41:25 AM »
YA et al:
Thoughts on this?
By MICHAEL O'HANLON AND PAUL WOLFOWITZ
The American debate on Afghanistan seems to be framed by two diametrically opposed definitions of success. One says that we have effectively won the war already—that the death of Osama bin Laden and the increase in targeted drone attacks have achieved the goal of preventing transnational terrorists from once again using sanctuaries in Afghanistan to attack the United States. The other view holds that success is impossible—that the goal of a stable Afghan government in control of its own territory is beyond our reach.
Both views lead to the same result: a premature abandonment of Afghanistan that could return it to the control of the Taliban and allow al Qaeda and other extremists to regain sanctuaries. Even targeted drone strikes would be much less effective without the human intelligence needed to support them.
But there is an alternative: the"Colombia standard" of success. It's probably unrealistic to think that the Afghan government can completely control Afghan territory by 2014 or even some later date. But, like the Colombian government, it could achieve success short of complete victory.
After decades of struggle against its armed insurgency, Colombia has substantially reduced the territory held by the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Fatality rates and kidnappings have been cut roughly in half over roughly a decade, and key FARC leaders have been killed. Assassinations of judges and other government officials were once frequent but now are much less so.
Crucially, nearly all of the fighting has been done by Colombian armed forces, with the U.S. providing advisers, intelligence and military equipment. Even today the homicide rate in Colombia remains high—much higher than violent civilian deaths in Afghanistan. But 10 years after Colombia seemed headed to collapse, it has achieved something that is widely regarded as a victory.
In Colombia's jungles as in Afghanistan's mountains, the guerillas can always find sanctuaries. Both countries' guerillas also enjoy sanctuaries across the border—and Pakistan probably gives more support to the Taliban than Venezuela gives the FARC. Guerilla movements that enjoy sanctuaries can never be completely defeated. But the important thing, from an American point of view, is that in Colombia it is Colombians, not Americans, who are fighting for their own country.
In Afghanistan our goal should be an Afghan government and security forces able to control the country's major cities and most of its territory with only modest outside help. Substantial territory, mostly in the rural South and East, would remain contested or even partly insurgent-controlled. But any large concentrations of extremists would be vulnerable to drone strikes or commando raids by Afghan and American forces. And over time, Afghan government forces could gradually reduce the remaining enemy strength.
A Colombia standard of success cannot be taken as an excuse for hasty withdrawal. For one thing, Afghanistan's security forces are two years away from being fully built. And while enemy-initiated violence is down about 25% from a year ago, and progress has been made in Helmand and Kandahar, additional American and NATO effort in the more densely populated East—as planned for 2012 and 2013—is needed before the Afghan army can take over primary responsibility. This may require keeping 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through the 2013 fighting season, before cutting forces further.
While Colombians deserve most of the credit for success, they depended on a long-term U.S. commitment that was limited in scale but not in time. Afghanistan will need that even more. With a desperately poor economy (one-sixteenth the size of Colombia's), Afghanistan cannot sustain the army it needs without help. The country will need some $3 billion annually in foreign military assistance for an extended period after 2014, as well as a continuing military presence in the range of 10,000 U.S. and other NATO troops in a supporting role.
A U.S.-led commitment to provide that funding in the future would help the current situation. Making clear that we will not abandon the country the way that we did after the defeat of the Soviets in 1989 would reassure our friends, discourage our enemies, and induce the Pakistanis to cooperate.
It would also give the U.S. valuable leverage in the current Afghan debate about post-2014 security arrangements. Instead of appearing as the supplicant—seeking to use Afghan territory for our own purposes—and allowing Afghan President Hamid Karzai to burnish his nationalist credentials by imposing conditions, we should make it clear that the help the Afghans need will be forthcoming, provided our conditions are met. One condition should be a process of consultation that extends beyond Mr. Karzai's hand-picked loya jirga.
We should certainly ask other countries to share the burden in both military and economic assistance, but the annual cost of this commitment would be roughly 10% of what we are currently expending—and Afghanistan's neighborhood remains central to American national security.
Even these costs would be too high if the cause were indeed lost. But success is possible if we think in terms of Colombia. Giving up now—or declaring victory prematurely—would be a grave mistake when, despite the challenges, three-fourths of Afghanistan is now reasonably secure and the Afghan armed forces are well over halfway toward achieving the capabilities they will need.
Our current exit strategy of reducing American troops to 68,000 by the end of next summer and transferring full security responsibility to Afghan forces by 2014 is working. In a war where the U.S. has demonstrated remarkable strategic patience, we need to stay patient and resolute.
Mr. O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is co-author of its Afghanistan Index and author of "The Wounded Giant: America's Armed Forces in an Age of Austerity" (Penguin, 2011). Mr. Wolfowitz, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is a former U.S. deputy secretary of defense.
Re: WSJ: O'Hanlon & Wolfowitz offer a strategy
Reply #1156 on:
November 22, 2011, 10:45:22 AM »
Anything that leaves the Pakistan problem unaddressed is doomed to fail.
Re: Afpakia: O'Hanlon Wolfowitz piece
Reply #1157 on:
November 22, 2011, 01:01:20 PM »
The piece makes some sense to me, to spend 10% of what we spend now instead of nothing. Who knows from here what the strategy on the ground should be, but it seems to me that to leave Iraq and Afghanistan in total whether calling it success or failure will be a mistake very difficult to correct. We didn't have that type of false confidence leaving other conflict zones of Japan, Germany or Korea and we didn't launch the bin Laden operation or drone strikes in Pakistan from Tampa.
Keeping US power in the region and strengthening our cooperation with India is the foundation of a Pakistan plan IMO.
As the 3 am question goes, what as President would you do if the call says that forces of al Qaida just took over Pakistan and took control of all their nukes. If we have gutted our intelligence, our defense and readiness budgets, if we end our presence on their doorstep and our influence and contacts on the inside, if we have moved what remains of our personnel and equipment home, the response of the President of the US will be the same as the head of the UN, the head of the EU or the President of Haiti or Ghana - like everyone else, we would be in a position to do nothing about it. Maybe we could call our superpower 'friends' in Russia and China.
Jonathan Steele book review from economist; interesting take
Reply #1158 on:
November 22, 2011, 02:21:19 PM »
Afghanistan’s interminable war
Looking for the exit
A bleak but authoritative assessment of foreign intervention
Nov 19th 2011 | from the print edition
Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Haunted Battleground. By Jonathan Steele. Counterpoint; 437 pages; $26. Portobello; £25. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk
ON TAKING office in 2009, President Barack Obama found a longstanding request from the army on his desk, asking for more troops for the war in Afghanistan. He soon acceded, though not in full. According to Bob Woodward’s book, “Obama’s Wars”, which came out in 2010, the late Richard Holbrooke, Mr Obama’s envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, reminded his boss that Lyndon Johnson had faced similar demands during the Vietnam war. “Ghosts”, whispered Mr Obama. They haunt him still, as he seeks to bring most American troops home before 2015, without leaving Afghanistan prey to a new extremist Taliban regime or an intensification of its three-decade-long civil war.
“Ghosts of Afghanistan” is a good title for this fine modern history by Jonathan Steele, a British journalist. This is not just because of the many people who have died in its wars, but because “the spectres of past mistakes” still complicate decision-making by the NATO-led, American-dominated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
These include both the quagmire in Vietnam and the Soviet Union’s disastrous nine-year occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, which was cheered by Western cold warriors as “the Soviet Union’s Vietnam”. An experienced writer and commentator for the Guardian, Mr Steele has visited Afghanistan in every phase of the civil war and is well placed to compare the end of the Soviet era and the present “transition”, the favoured common euphemism for foreign withdrawal.
He demolishes some Western myths about Afghanistan that betray short memories and government spin. The Soviet years, for example, tend to be portrayed as a period of bitter repression under a puppet regime, which was defeated by a popular, Islamist uprising, backed by America and Pakistan, and which crumbled as soon as the Soviet Union withdrew its occupation forces in 1989.
There is another way of looking at the same history. At no stage did the Soviet Union have as many troops in Afghanistan as America and ISAF do now. It was never defeated. It withdrew because Mikhail Gorbachev realised the Soviets could never win. The regime they left behind was quite resilient. Only as the Soviet Union began to unravel in 1991 and withdraw its aid did the regime collapse shortly after. The mujahideen boast of having brought down the Soviet Union. The reverse is just as true: it was the collapse of the Soviet Union that brought the mujahideen to power.
There are some uncanny echoes between the two interventions. The Soviets and the Americans both allocated 15 times as much to military spending in the country as to civilian spending. Soviet resentment at the ingratitude of the client regime is matched in America. This month ISAF had to sack an American general for voicing it. Neither the West nor the Soviet Union is predominantly Muslim, enabling their enemies to decry the “infidel” regimes they back. Both wars became very unpopular at home. ISAF, like the Soviet army, has established solid-looking structures in the north, which is largely inhabited by smaller ethnic groups, such as Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. But it still faces a serious insurgency in the Pushtun-dominated south and east, fuelled from Pakistan.
With the war in stalemate now, as it was 20 years ago, Mr Steele argues for peace talks with the Taliban and the regional powers. That, of course, is how wars end. But it is hard when the enemy, known in convenient shorthand as “the Taliban”, is fragmented and ISAF is trying to kill or co-opt as many of its fighters as possible. Moreover, America has committed itself to a timetable for withdrawal—an invitation to its enemies to play a long game.
In one respect the Soviet precedent is not encouraging. That withdrawal was preceded by years of ultimately fruitless diplomacy. But the foreign presence is not the only reason Afghans fight. So the lesson some ISAF strategists draw from the Soviet experience is less to do with the necessity for peace talks than about the durability of the post-occupation Afghan government until its plug was pulled from a socket in Moscow. If the West can commit enough in military and civilian assistance, the present government should muddle through, at least in the cities.
That is not a very encouraging outcome, measured against the high hopes after the swift toppling of the Taliban in 2001. But Mr Steele gives almost the last word in his book to an even gloomier scenario, spelled out by Francesc Vendrell, a wise diplomat formerly with the UN and the EU: “Having failed dismally to make the Afghan people our allies, we will inevitably abandon them to a combination of Taliban in the south and the warlords in the north, and (having somehow redefined success) we will go home convinced that it is the Afghan people who have failed us.” Mr Steele and Mr Vendrell are not the only ones to be haunted by the ghosts of Afghanistan’s future.
from the print edition | Books and arts
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1159 on:
November 22, 2011, 05:33:54 PM »
Ummm , , , nothing in there that I can see addressing the fact that after helping them drive out the Russian Empire and then leaving them alone that they gave sanctuary to AQ to attack us. Nor is there anything about Pakistan or the greater realities of Afpakia.
Other than that , , ,
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1160 on:
November 24, 2011, 10:36:05 AM »
1. Whoever coined the term "Af-Pak" deserves a lot of credit. It holds the key to a solution for the region, which the authors of the above articles seem to miss. ie the role of Pak in the afghan mess. Unless we are willing to deal with Pak, no point wasting time/money in Afghanistan. Also the person who coined "Fk-Ap", deserves a lot of credit, for elegantly explaining the situation.
2. We worry a lot about paki nukes getting into the hands of the taliban and AQ types. But in all honesty, is the paki army not already a jihadi force (their motto: Iman, Taqwa, Jihad fi Sabilillah ) to some extent, with a fraction of it being hardcore jihadi. So the real worry should be what if we have a jihadi general holding the football, or what if that person has a death wish and wishes to pay back the Big Satan before collecting his 72 houris. I recently met someone who knows a lot about these matters, he thought that there was zero chance that the bomb could be hijacked by outside groups, but an insider could do it.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1161 on:
November 24, 2011, 11:57:09 AM »
Perhaps tis a moment of vanity and hubris combined, but IIRC twas me that came up with the term , , , or maybe I read it somewhere and forget that
YA makes a very powerful point about the Pak army already being jihadi, including extreme elements.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1162 on:
November 26, 2011, 04:55:01 PM »
Strat reports "An outpost, located near the Afghan border in the Mohmand Agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, was struck in the early morning hours of Nov. 26, reportedly by U.S. attack helicopters. The incident is remarkable for the number of deaths it caused and comes at a time of increasing tensions between the United States and Pakistan — tensions that are likely now to get worse, regardless of the results of Pakistan’s investigation into the incident.".
The paki generals have their knickers in a twist. I dont think this will die down very quickly. Pakistani H&D has been violated again, as was their sovirginity (pronounced sovereignty in USA). Looks like US forces have been given the right to retaliate hostile fire.
Junior officer coup coming?
Reply #1163 on:
November 27, 2011, 07:32:09 AM »
From B.Raman's blog..
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2011
PAKISTAN: DANGERS OF A SUBALTERNS’ COUP
Appearing in a talk show hosted by Suhasini Haidar of CNN-IBN on November 26,2011, I said that I never believed a coup was likely in Pakistan as a result of the Army’s anger over the so-called Memogate affair . I added that Pakistan had an independent judiciary today and that, hence, the Army would not have the confidence that it could get a coup validated by the judiciary post-facto.
2.If Suhasini were to ask me the same question today in the light of the outrage in the Pakistan Army over the reported death of 28 Pakistani troops due to a mistaken NATO airstrike on two Pakistani military posts about two kms from the Afghan border in the Mohmand Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on November 26, my reply would be a little more nuanced.
3. I would still rule out a coup by senior officers headed by Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), who are quite capable of rational thinking regarding the legal and other consequences of a coup, but I would not rule out a coup by subalterns and middle level officers enraged over the failure of their senior officers and the political leadership to protect the honour of the Pakistan Army against repeated infringements by the US and other NATO forces.
4. One saw reports of such anger in the barracks over the failure of the senior military leadership to prevent the US Commando raid to kill Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad on May 2,2011.Kayani managed to control this anger with great difficulty by undertaking a tour of important military cantonments.
Reports received by me from Pakistani sources, who are not known to have misled me in the past, claim that one could see similar anger over the latest incident spreading across the barracks. The anger is against the US as well as against the senior leadership of the Army. The reports indicate that organisations such as the Hizbut Tehrir have been trying to fan this anger.
6.If this anger doesn’t subside, there is a danger of a successful or attempted coup in Pakistan organised by officers at middle level, who would not be bothered about the legal consequences of a coup. The Pakistan Army is a disciplined force. In its history, there has never been a successful coup by junior officers. However, there were two instances of attempted junior officers’ coup, the preparations for which were detected in time by the senior military leadership and crushed.
7. The last of them was in 1995 when Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister and Gen Abdul Wahid Kakkar was the COAS. A group of middle level officers headed by Brig. Zahir-ul-Islam Abbasi, fromer Defence Attache to India, joined hands with the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and planned to capture power after killing Benazir and the COAS. The plans for the coup were accidentally detected and the officers concerned arrested and court-martialled.
8. When Gen.Pervez Musharraf was in power we had seen reports of individual junior officers of the Army and the Air Force, who were angry over Musharraf’s co-operation with the US, joining hands with Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda elements in a conspiracy to have Musharraf assassinated. Their role came to notice during the investigation into the two attempts to kill Musharraf in December,2003, allegedly orchestrated by Abu Faraj at-Libbi of Al Qaeda now in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre of the US.
9. The anti-US anger in the lower and middle ranks of the Pakistan Army after the Abbottabad raid has till now been kept under control by Kayani. If the anger over the killing of 28 troops, including two officers, allegedly by NATO air strikes on Pakistani military posts in the Momand Agency is not carefully and tactfully handled by the US and the Pakistani civilian and military leadership, there is a danger of this anger getting out of control leading to a conspiracy of the junior officers.
10. If such a conspiracy is successful with the co-operation of jihadi elements, there would be a real threat of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal coming under their control. Senior Pakistani Army officers are responsible people who are quite capable of ensuring that there is no misuse of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. I do not have the same confidence about the junior officers.
11. The US-Pakistan relations are going from bad to worse--- particularly the military-military and intelligence-intelligence relationship. There is a lot of glee among many Indian analysts over it. This need not necessarily be a beneficial development for India. It is in our interest that the US retains the ability to influence the behaviour of the Pakistani military leadership.
12. The situation in Pakistan needs very close monitoring. (27-11-11)
Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 08:31:25 AM by Crafty_Dog
What the generals can't say in public
Reply #1164 on:
November 27, 2011, 08:30:50 AM »
As a public service, Best Defense is offering this primer for generals on their way to Afghanistan.
Here is a list of 19 things that many insiders and veterans of Afghanistan agree to be true about the war there, but that generals can't say in public.
So, general, read this now and believe it later-but keep your lip zipped. Maybe even keep a printout in your wallet and review before interviews.
My list of things to remember I can't say
1.Pakistan is now an enemy of the United States.
2. We don't know why we are here, what we are fighting for, or how to know if we are winning.
3.The strategy is to fight, talk, and build. But we're withdrawing the fighters, the Taliban won't talk, and the builders are corrupt.
4. Karzai's family is especially corrupt.
5. We want President Karzai gone but we don't have a Pushtun successor handy.
6.But the problem isn't corruption, it is which corrupt people are getting the dollars. We have to help corruption be more fair.
7.Another thing we'll never stop here is the drug traffic, so the counternarcotics mission is probably a waste of time and resources that just alienates a swath of Afghans.
8.Making this a NATO mission hurt, not helped. Most NATO countries are just going through the motions in Afghanistan as the price necessary to keep the US in Europe.
9.Yes, the exit deadline is killing us.
10.Even if you got a deal with the Taliban, it wouldn't end the fighting.
11.The Taliban may be willing to fight forever. We are not.
12.Yes, we are funding the Taliban, but hey, there's no way to stop it, because the truck companies bringing goods from Pakistan and up the highway across Afghanistan have to pay off the Taliban. So yeah, your tax dollars are helping Mullah Omar and his buddies. Welcome to the neighborhood.
13.Even non-Taliban Afghans don't much like us.
14.Afghans didn't get the memo about all our successes, so they are positioning themselves for the post-American civil war .
And they're not the only ones getting ready. The future of Afghanistan is probably evolving up north now as the Indians, Russians and Pakistanis jockey with old Northern Alliance types. Interestingly, we're paying more and getting less than any other player.
Speaking of positioning for the post-American civil war, why would the Pakistanis sell out their best proxy shock troops now?
15.The ANA and ANP could break the day after we leave the country.
16.We are ignoring the advisory effort and fighting the "big war" with American troops, just as we did in Vietnam. And the U.S. military won't act any differently until and work with the Afghan forces seriously until when American politicians significantly draw down U.S. forces in country-when it may be too damn late.
17.The situation American faces in Afghanistan is similar to the one it faced in Vietnam during the Nixon presidency: A desire a leave and turn over the war to our local allies, combined with the realization that our allies may still lose, and the loss will be viewed as a U.S. defeat anyway.
Thanks to several people who contributed to this, from California to Kunar and back to DC, and whose names must not be mentioned! You know who you are. The rest of you, look at the guy sitting to your right.
Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 08:34:01 AM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1165 on:
November 27, 2011, 08:36:33 AM »
That resonates quite strongly with me.
What do you make of the airstrike by the US on the two Pak outposts? I get a sense that our generals may be looking to influence/manipulate/force the our CiC to places he may not otherwise wish to go.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1166 on:
November 27, 2011, 05:23:10 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on November 27, 2011, 08:36:33 AM
What do you make of the airstrike by the US on the two Pak outposts? I get a sense that our generals may be looking to influence/manipulate/force the our CiC to places he may not otherwise wish to go.
Strat says that the location of the outposts was well known to the US, so its very likely a response to hostile fire. I think the US govt is quite pi$$ed at pak, so they are having a pi$$ing match. Pakis shoot across the border with pak army support, and the US decides to pulverize them.
I dont think the US has as yet reached a stage where a decision has been made to get tough with Pak. Govt officials are still confused about Pak, eg Michelle Bachman who is on the House Intelligence Services committee (I think), said wrt Pak at the last republican debate, that we need mollycoddle them and fund them because of their nukes, and that they can descend into chaos etc. We dont even have the guts to stop funding Pak, there is no question of Obama starting a new war.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1167 on:
November 27, 2011, 05:37:10 PM »
Not for the first time I get the impression that (some of?) the generals rather disgusted with the CiC and are looking to give him options he cannot refuse. I get the impression that at least some of our military folks are coming to similar conclusions to those of the sources that YA brings to our attention.
To the extent that this is true, then , , , what conclusions do we draw from this attack on the Pak outposts?
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1168 on:
November 28, 2011, 10:09:05 AM »
"said wrt Pak at the last republican debate, that we need mollycoddle them and fund them because of their nukes, and that they can descend into chaos etc. We dont even have the guts to stop funding Pak, there is no question of Obama starting a new war."
With regards to the first part of this post what do the generals think we ought to do? We can keep doing what we are doing and tread water, we can perhaps get tougher with (what) results, or perhaps we pull out altogether.
What do the military experts think is best? I would guess they may have divergent opinions and may be unsure as well?
With regards to the latter part of the post are you saying Obama is starting a new war?
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1169 on:
November 28, 2011, 06:38:29 PM »
Obama wont be starting a new war, this close to the elections. I think there are many in the military who know what needs to be done, but the political will is lacking. One of the reasons that the admin does not take action is because of the cold war mentality when the US sided with Pak and the USSR/Russia with India, another has to do with maintainence of parity between India and Pak. Now that China is becoming a challenge for the US, very grudgingly the US is supporting India at the expense of China (again trying to maintain balance of power).
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1170 on:
November 28, 2011, 06:51:06 PM »
NATO regret not enough: Army
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Army while expressing its disgust over the NATO attacks has said that it does not accept NATO's apology and that this action can lead to serious consequences, Geo News reported Monday.
According to Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas,
NATO’s regret over the attack is not enough.
In a pre-dawn attack on November 26 NATO attacked a Pakistani check posts in the Mohmand Agency in which 24 soldiers were killed.
Pakis want $$, how difficult is that to understand
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1171 on:
November 28, 2011, 07:06:18 PM »
Here's much I can agree with..
Blazing Saddles in Pakistan
In Mel Brooks' 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles, a welcoming committee for a new sheriff turns into a lynch mob when it discovers the man is black. He points his gun at his own temple and says, ''
One step closer and the [N-word] gets it!'
' The townspeople back off, rather like the American government every time it catches Pakistan supporting the Taliban or other enemies of the United States. Pakistan menaces the United States with the prospect of its own failure.
Pak also holds a gun to its own head, gimme money or I pull the trigger
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum summed up the Washington consensus at last week's national security debate, ''Pakistan must be our friend'' because it has nuclear weapons. America can't do without Pakistan, that is, because if Pakistan breaks up, nuclear weapons might reach the hands of terrorists.
The flaw in this argument is that Pakistan itself is governed by terrorists.
That is why it has been so successful. It scares its neighbors. American policy, instead, should force the burden of uncertainty onto Pakistan.
Remember the paki army is jihadi
Last week's North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air strike on Pakistani frontier outposts prompted Islamabad to stop resupply of NATO forces in Afghanistan, leaving Washington to apologize for the ''unintended tragic'' deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers. Rather than calling Pakistan to account for the attack on the American embassy in Kabul by the al-Haqqani network, which outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Michael Mullen September 22 called ''a veritable arm'' of Pakistan's ISI, America finds itself on the defensive. If the Pakistanis fired on NATO forces before the latter called in an air strike, as the Afghan government claims,
we should infer that Pakistan provoked the incident in order to wrong-foot the United States
Typical paki behaviour
Considering that the United States wants Pakistan to pursue military operations against a largely Pashtun insurgency in Afghanistan, while Pashtuns comprise a fifth of the Pakistan's people, friendship seems an odd choice of words.
its called frenemies
American policy threatens to tear Pakistan apart, and Islamabad's double-dealing is understandable under the circumstances. The only way to make Pakistan behave is to convince Islamabad that it will be torn apart if it does not accommodate American demands. Absent the threat of encirclement and dismemberment, Pakistan will do everything to avoid exacerbating what already amounts to a low-level civil war. America's strategic objective in the region - eradicating Islamist terrorists - poses an existential threat to the Pakistani state. The only way to force Pakistan to accommodate itself to American objectives is to pose an even worse existential threat.
Pakistan's pursuit of ''strategic depth'' - projecting its influence through support for Islamist groups in Afghanistan, and Kashmir, as well as terror attacks inside India - stems from weakness. As Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi writes in the Winter 2012 issue of Middle East Quarterly, ''Pakistan itself is an artificial state composed of diverse ethnic groups that are united solely by religious affiliation. Hence, fear of Pashtun and Baloch (Pakistan's largest provinces geographically) desires for autonomy or independence, together with concern about India's influence, also provides a basis for pursuing Pakistani strategic depth. For example, to suppress Baloch nationalism, the Pakistani military and intelligence have engaged in human rights abuses including the arrest and disappearance of some 8,000 Baloch activists in secret prisons.''
After three years of American strategic disengagement under the Obama administration, that has become a difficult proposition. Involving the Indian military in Afghanistan with a limited by open-ended mandate would have served notice to Islamabad that America was serious. Two years ago, Pakistani websites fluttered with rumors that India would deploy 120,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, staking a claim as America's strategic partner. It is doubtful that any such offer was on the table, but India at the time was prepared for a smaller deployment. Under present circumstances, New Delhi wants no part of an adventure that the Americans are preparing to abandon.
India simply does not trust the Obama administration to stand up for American interests in the region. China has moved into the vacuum left by American policy in Pakistan, deploying 11,000 soldiers in the Gilgat-Baltistan region of southern Kashmir. Ostensibly the Chinese are there to secure high-speed road rail links between the Chinese-built ports on Pakistan's coast and Western China, but their presence also reinforces Pakistan's control over a rebellious region. The small Chinese force, moreover, raises the stakes in any potential confrontation over Kashmir between India and Pakistan; if Chinese troops were to get in the middle of a fight, China might be drawn in on Pakistan's side. Pakistan now has two air force squadrons flying China's JF-17 ''Thunder'' jet and shortly will add a third.
After the September 13 attack on the American embassy in Kabul, the United States made belated and tentative gestures to India, including the first formal offer to sell India the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. As M K Bhadrakumar argued in this space (see Hindu art of double hedging against China, Asia Times Online, November 10), New Delhi must weigh the advantages of its strategic alignment with the United States against the fact of American strategic disengagement under the Obama administration. Whether India takes up the American offer for the F-35's depends on a number of factors, including the disappointing pace of progress in its joint development of a Fifth Generation fighter in cooperation with Russia. The F-35's though, will not change the perception that Washington is guarding its rear as it withdraws from the region.
The Obama administration has painted itself in to a corner. It cannot cajole or threaten Pakistan. On the contrary, Pakistan is threatening Washington. China's growing presence in Pakistan reduces America's capacity to punish Pakistan, for example, by withdrawing support for American-built fighter aircraft. India remains understandably cautious. And the Afghan war, as Mr. Al-Tamimi wrote in the Middle East quarterly, ''will prove at best a massive drain on US resources and lives, possibly reaching a cost of up to $100 billion a year, all for killing a few dozen al-Qaeda militants in a country whose annual gross domestic product is a mere $13 billion.''
To persuade India to align itself decisively with American interests, and China to lower its profile, the United States would have to execute a 180-degree turn. It would have to repudiate Obama's disengagement and declare its intent to remain the world's unchallenged superpower, and make this credible by investing in strategic superiority. That would require major investments in aircraft carriers, fighter aircraft, drone technology, and theater missile defense.
That is expensive, but there are other ways to economize. At the same time, America should renounce nation-building in Afghanistan and settle instead for a prolonged, if not perpetual, war of attrition against its enemies. By historical analogy, Washington should handle Afghanistan the way that Cardinal Richelieu dealt with the German Empire during the Thirty Years' War. Rather than fund a corrupt and ineffective Afghan army dominated by Tajiks,
the United States should acquire Pashtun capabilities of its own; perhaps it should quietly support Pashtun and Balochi separatists operating inside Pakistan.
Among other things, this is cheaper than maintaining an army of occupation. Cutting off aid to the corrupt Karzai government, moreover, will drastically reduce the cost of hiring local armies.
America's misguided attempt to stabilize Afghanistan allows Islamabad to blackmail the United States by threatening to promote instability. If the United States accepts Afghan instability as a permanent condition and uses its in-country capability to wear down its enemies in a standing civil war, it can turn the tables by threatening to export the instability to Pakistan. Pakistan has been truncated before, when it lost Bangladesh. It could happen again. The object is not to dismember Pakistan, but rather to persuade Islamabad to behave. If this seems harsh, it is worth recalling that Washington has done this sort of thing before. The Reagan administration did its best to prolong the Iran-Iraq war.
China has a general interest in limiting American power, but it also has a specific interest in forcing Pakistan to crack down on Islamist terrorism. The 100 million Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang constitute the greatest threat of a breakaway province within China's borders, and Beijing has complained that Pakistan's intelligence services are training Uyghur terrorists for infiltration into China. Islamabad, once again, is not in control over radical Islamists in its own military.
If America puts a figurative gun to the head of the Pakistani government and orders it to extirpate the radical Islamists in the military, two outcomes are possible. One is that Islamabad will succeed. The second is that it will fail, and the country will degenerate into chaos. That is the scenario the American policy is supposed to avoid at all costs, but
it is hard to see why America would be worse off
. If the elements of Pakistani intelligence that foster terrorism cannot be suppressed, it is clear that they are using resources of the central government to support terrorism. In the worst case, they will continue to foster terrorism, but without the resources of the central government.
From America's vantage point, a disorderly collapse of Pakistan into a failed state is a better outcome than a strong central government that sponsors terrorism.
At worst, a prolonged civil conflict between American-backed elements of the Pakistani military and Islamist radicals would leave the radicals weaker than they are now.
The simplest solution to the problem of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is to frighten the Pakistani army into eliminating the prospective terrorists who might use them. The second-best solution is to send the American army into Pakistan and take the nuclear weapons away. I believe Jeffrey Goldberg's and Marc Ambinder's report in The Atlantic Monthly that if the United States were to deploy troops in Pakistan to secure the country's nuclear weapons, China would raise no objections. If Islamist terrorists were to get hold of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, China would be at the top of their list of prospective targets.
Much as China might enjoy America's discomfiture in the region, American and Chinese interests converge around terrorism (and especially nuclear terrorism). Given America's present weakness, it may take some effort to iterate towards convergence with China. Threats to China's territorial integrity, though, have Beijing's undivided attention, and if America makes clear that draining the Pakistani swamp reflects support for China's efforts to preserve territorial integrity, rational self-interest will assert itself.
Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman. His book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Too) was published by Regnery Press in September 2011. A volume of his essays on culture, religion and economics, It's Not the End of the World - It's Just the End of You, also appeared this fall, from Van Praag Press.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1172 on:
November 28, 2011, 07:13:04 PM »
This is another Strat like US agency reporting..
Pakistan-US: Comment: The news accounts are reasonably consistent that a NATO helicopter attack killed two dozen or more Pakistani paramilitary forces. The NATO account insists that Pakistani officers cooperated in the attack. Another story says that Afghan officers called in the air attack, which occurred inside Pakistan's Mohmand Agency. Another account says US forces were far into Pakistani national territory.
The Torkham border crossing, near Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan, has been closed to truck traffic to Afghanistan. The
border crossing point at Spin Buldak in the south, evidently, remains open
The Islamabad government has ordered the CIA to vacate a remote air base that is used for drone attacks but supposedly had been ordered to vacate six months ago.
None of that matters much. All of it is for public consumption because the Pakistani civilian government and military leadership are involved in some fashion. This incident will be covered up. None of the stake holders perceive any benefit from making this incident a cause celebre, an international sensation. The logistics supply line for Afghanistan is much less dependent on Pakistani roads than on central Asian railroads.
On the other hand, Pakistani public hostility for the US will spike.
Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 09:03:01 PM by ya
Supply lines in danger
Reply #1173 on:
November 29, 2011, 10:24:02 PM »
November 29, 2011
PAKISTAN, RUSSIA AND THE THREAT TO THE AFGHAN WAR
By George Friedman
Days after the Pakistanis closed their borders to the passage of fuel and supplies
for the NATO-led war effort in Afghanistan, for very different reasons the Russians
threatened to close the alternative Russia-controlled Northern Distribution Network
(NDN). The dual threats are significant even if they don't materialize. If both
routes are cut, supplying Western forces operating in Afghanistan becomes
impossible. Simply raising the possibility of cutting supply lines forces NATO and
the United States to recalculate their position in Afghanistan.
The possibility of insufficient lines of supply puts NATO's current course in
Afghanistan in even more jeopardy. It also could make Western troops more vulnerable
by possibly requiring significant alterations to operations in a supply-constrained
scenario. While the supply lines in Pakistan most likely will reopen eventually and
the NDN likely will remain open, the gap between likely and certain is vast.
The Pakistani Outpost Attack
The Pakistani decision to close the border crossings at Torkham near the Khyber Pass
and Chaman followed a U.S. attack on a Pakistani position inside Pakistan's tribal
areas near the Afghan border that killed some two-dozen Pakistani soldiers. The
Pakistanis have been increasingly opposed to U.S. operations inside Pakistani
territory. This most recent incident took an unprecedented toll, and triggered an
extreme response. The precise circumstances of the attack are unclear, with details
few, contradictory and disputed. The Pakistanis have insisted it was an unprovoked
attack and a violation of their sovereign territory. In response, Islamabad closed
the border to NATO; ordered the United States out of Shamsi air base in Balochistan,
used by the CIA; and is reviewing military and intelligence cooperation with the
United States and NATO.
The proximate reason for the reaction is obvious; the ultimate reason for the
suspension also is relatively simple. The Pakistani government believes NATO, and
the United States in particular, will fail to bring the war in Afghanistan to a
successful conclusion. It follows that the United States and other NATO countries at
some point will withdraw.
Some in Afghanistan have claimed that the United States has been defeated, but that
is not the case. The United States may have failed to win the war, but it has not
been defeated in the sense of being compelled to leave by superior force. It could
remain there indefinitely, particular as the American public is not overly hostile
to the war and is not generating substantial pressure to end operations.
Nevertheless, if the war cannot be brought to some sort of conclusion, at some point
Washington's calculations or public pressure, or both, will shift and the United
States and its allies will leave Afghanistan.
Given that eventual outcome, Pakistan must prepare to deal with the consequences. It
has no qualms about the Taliban running Afghanistan and it certainly does not intend
to continue to prosecute the United States' war against the Taliban once its forces
depart. To do so would intensify Taliban attacks on the Pakistani state, and could
trigger an even more intense civil war in Pakistan. The Pakistanis have no interest
in such an outcome even were the United States to remain in Afghanistan forever.
Instead, given that a U.S. victory is implausible and its withdrawal inevitable and
that Pakistan's western border is with Afghanistan, Islamabad will have to live with
-- and possibly manage -- the consequences of the re-emergence of a
Under these circumstances, it makes little sense for Pakistan to collaborate
excessively with the United States, as this increases Pakistan's domestic dangers
and imperils its relationship with the Taliban. Pakistan was prepared to cooperate
with the United States and NATO while the United States was in an aggressive and
unpredictable phase. The Pakistanis could not risk more aggressive U.S. attacks on
Pakistani territory at that point, and feared a U.S.-Indian entente. But the United
States, while not leaving Afghanistan, has lost its appetite for a wider war and
lacks the resources for one. It is therefore in Pakistan's interest to reduce its
collaboration with the United States in preparation for what it sees as the
inevitable outcome. This will strengthen Pakistan's relations with the Afghan
Taliban and minimize the threat of internal Pakistani conflict.
Despite apologies by U.S. and NATO commanders, the Nov. 26 incident provided the
Pakistanis the opportunity -- and in their mind the necessity -- of an exceptional
response. The suspension of the supply line without any commitment to reopening it
and the closure of the U.S. air base from which unmanned aerial vehicle operations
were carried out (though Pakistani airspace reportedly remains open to operations)
was useful to Pakistan. It allowed Islamabad to reposition itself as hostile to the
United States because of American actions. It also allowed Islamabad to appear less
pro-American, a powerful domestic political issue.
Pakistan has closed supply lines as a punitive measure before. Torkham was closed
for 10 straight days in October 2010 in response to a U.S. airstrike that killed
several Pakistani soldiers, and trucks at the southern Chaman crossing were
"administratively delayed," according to the Pakistanis. This time, however,
Pakistan is signaling that matters are more serious. Uncertainty over these supply
lines is what drove the United States to expend considerable political capital to
arrange the alternative NDN.
(click here to enlarge image)
The NDN Alternative and BMD
This alternative depends on Russia. It transits Russian territory and airspace and
much of the former Soviet sphere, stretching as far as the Baltic Sea -- at great
additional expense compared to the Pakistani supply route. This alternative is
viable, as it would allow sufficient supplies to flow to support NATO operations.
Indeed, over recent months it has become the primary line of supply, and reliance
upon it is set to expand. At present, 48 percent of NATO supplies still go through
Pakistan; 52 percent of NATO supplies come through NDN (non-lethal); 60 percent of
all fuel comes through the NDN; and by the end of the year, the objective is for 75
percent of all non-lethal supplies to transit the NDN.
Separating the United States yields a different breakdown: Only 30 percent of U.S.
supplies traverse Pakistan; 30 percent of U.S. supplies come in by air (some of it
linked to the Karakoram-Torkham route, probably including the bulk of lethal
weapons); and 40 percent of U.S. supplies come in from the NDN land route.
Therefore, Dmitri Rogozin's threat that Russia might suspend these supply lines
threatens the viability of all Western operations in Afghanistan. Rogozin, the
Russian envoy to NATO, has been known to make extreme statements. But when he makes
those statements, he makes them with the full knowledge and authorization of the
Russian leadership. Though he is used to making statements that the leadership might
want to back away from, it is not unusual for him to signal new directions in
Russian policy. This means the U.S. and NATO militaries responsible for sustaining
operations in Afghanistan cannot afford to dismiss the threat. No matter how small
the probability, it places more than 100,000 U.S. and allied troops in a vulnerable
For the Russians, the issue is the development and deployment of U.S. ballistic
missile defenses in Europe. The Russians oppose the deployment, arguing it
represents a threat to the Russian nuclear deterrent and therefore threatens the
nuclear balance. This was certainly the reason the Soviets opposed the initial
Strategic Defense Initiative in the 1980s. Carrying it forward to the 2010s,
however, and the reasoning appears faulty. First, there is no nuclear balance at the
moment, as there is no political foundation for nuclear war. Second, the
U.S.-European BMD scheme is not designed to stop a massive launch of nuclear
missiles such as the Russians could execute, but only the threat posed by a very
small number of missiles such as might be launched from Iran. Finally, it is not
clear that the system would work very well, though it has certainly proven far more
capable than the turn-of-the-century predecessor systems.
Nevertheless, the Russians vehemently opposed the system, threatening to deploy
Iskander short-range ballistic missiles and even tactical nuclear weapons in
Kaliningrad and other locations in response. The Russian concern is obviously real,
but it is difficult to believe it is the nuclear balance they are concerned about.
Rather, it is the geopolitical implications of placing BMD infrastructure in Central
Opposition to a Second Containment
Elements of the weapons, particularly radars and interceptors, are being deployed
around the periphery of Russia -- in Poland, Romania, Turkey and Israel. From the
Russian point of view, the deployment of radars and other systems is a precursor to
the deployment of other military capabilities. They are extremely valuable
installations that must be protected. Troops therefore will be deployed along with
air defenses, and so on. In other words, the deployment of the BMD infrastructure
itself may have no practical impact on the Russians, but the indirect consequences
would be to set the stage for more expansive military deployments. The Russians must
assume this could entail a return to containment, the principle employed by the
United States during the Cold War to limit Soviet power.
The Russians see the inclusion of other military forces at the locations of the
interceptor and radar deployment as creating a belt of nations designed to contain
Russia. Given the uncertain future of Europe and the increasing relative power of
Russia in the region, the United States has an interest in making certain any
disruption in Europe doesn't give the Russians opportunities to extend their
political influence. While the extent to which American planners chose the sites
with the containment of Russia in mind isn't clear, from the Russian point of view
the motive doesn't matter. Planning is done based on capability, not intent.
Whatever the U.S. intent, the move opens the door for containment if and when U.S.
policy planners notice the opportunity.
The Russians have threatened actions for years, and in the past few weeks they have
become increasingly vocal on the subject of BMD and on threats. Rogozin obviously
was ordered to seize on the vulnerability created by the Pakistani move and
introduced the now-indispensible NDN as a point where the Russians could bring
pressure, knowing it is the one move the United States cannot tolerate at the
moment. Whether they intend to shut down the supply line is questionable. Doing so
would cause a huge breach with the United States, and to this point the Russians
have been relatively cautious in challenging fundamental U.S. interests. Moreover,
the Russians are worried about any instability in Afghanistan that might threaten
their sphere of influence in Central Asia. However, the Russians are serious about
not permitting a new containment line to be created, and therefore may be shifting
their own calculations.
It is a rule of war that secure strategic supply lines are the basis of warfare. If
you cannot be certain of supplying your troops, it is necessary to redeploy to more
favorable positions. The loss of supply lines at some point creates a vulnerability
that in military history leads to the annihilation of forces. It is something that
can be risked when major strategic interests require it, but it is a dangerous
maneuver. The Russians are raising the possibility that U.S. forces could be
isolated in Afghanistan. Supply lines into the landlocked country never have been
under U.S. or NATO control. All supplies must come in through third countries (less
than a third of American supplies come by air, and those mostly through Russian
airspace), and their willingness to permit transit is the foundation of U.S.
The United States and NATO have been exposed as waging a war that depended on the
willingness of first Pakistan and now increasingly Russia to permit the movement of
supplies through their respective territories. Were they both to suspend that
privilege, the United States would face the choice of going to war to seize supply
lines -- something well beyond U.S. conventional capacity at this time -- or to
concede the war. Anytime a force depends on the cooperation of parties not under its
control to sustain its force, it is in danger.
The issue is not whether the threats are carried out. The issue is whether the
strategic interest the United States has in Afghanistan justifies the risk that the
Russians may not be bluffing and the Pakistanis will become even less reliable in
allowing passage. In the event of strategic necessity, such risks can be taken. But
the lower the strategic necessity, the less risk is tolerable. This does not change
the strategic reality in Afghanistan. It simply makes that reality much clearer and
the threats to that reality more serious. Washington, of course, hopes the
Pakistanis will reconsider and that the Russians are simply blowing off steam. Hope,
however, is not a strategy.
This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to
Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.
The US attack on Pak outpost
Reply #1174 on:
December 01, 2011, 06:12:04 AM »
December 1, 2011
A DEADLY U.S. ATTACK ON PAKISTANI SOIL
By Nate Hughes
In the early hours of Nov. 26 on the Afghan-Pakistani border, what was almost
certainly a flight of U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and an AC-130
gunship killed some two dozen Pakistani servicemen at two border outposts inside
Pakistan. Details remain scarce, conflicting and disputed, but the incident was
known to have taken place near the border of the Afghan provinces of Kunar and
Nangarhar and the Mohmand agency of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas
(FATA). The death toll inflicted by the United States against Pakistani servicemen
is unprecedented, and while U.S. commanders and NATO leaders have expressed regret
over the incident, the reaction from Pakistan has been severe.
Claims and Interests
The initial Pakistani narrative of the incident describes an unprovoked and
aggressive attack on well-established outposts more than a mile inside Pakistani
territory -- outposts known to the Americans and ones that representatives of the
NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had visited in the past. The
attack supposedly lasted for some two hours despite distressed communications from
the outpost to the Pakistani military's general headquarters in Rawalpindi.
(click here to enlarge image)
The United States was quick to acknowledge that Pakistani troops were probably
killed by attack aircraft providing close air support to a joint U.S.-Afghan patrol
near the Kunar border, and while U.S. Marine Gen. James Mattis, the head of U.S.
Central Command, promised a high-level investigation, the United States and NATO
seemed to be more interested in smoothing relations with Islamabad than endorsing or
correcting initial reports about the specifics of the attack.
What has ensued has been a classic media storm of accusations, counteraccusations,
theories and specifics provided by unnamed sources that all serve to obscure the
truth as much as they clarify it. Meanwhile, no matter what actually happened,
aggressive spin campaigns have been launched to shape perceptions of the incident
for myriad interests. Given the longstanding tensions between Washington and
Islamabad as well as a record of cross-border incidents, stakeholders will believe
exactly what they want to believe about the Nov. 26 incident, and even an official
investigation will have little bearing on their entrenched views.
While statements and accusations have often referenced NATO and the ISAF, it is U.S.
forces that operate in this part of the country, and this close to the border the
unit involved was likely operating under the aegis of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (the
U.S. command in Afghanistan) rather than under the multinational ISAF. Indeed, many
American allies have also expressed frustration over the incident, convinced that it
undermines ISAF operations in Afghanistan.
Reports indicate that a U.S. special operations team (likely a platoon-sized
element, but at least a 12-man detachment) accompanied by Afghan commandos
(generally a seven-man squad accompanies a U.S. platoon, but 25- to 30-man platoons
sometimes accompany 12-man U.S. teams) were involved in an engagement and called for
close air support. It now seems clear that both sides opened fire at some point. At
least one unidentified senior Pakistani defense official told The Washington Post
that it had been the Pakistanis who fired first, opening up with mortars and machine
guns after sending up an illumination round. However, most Pakistani sources
continue to deny this.
Given that Washington has been trying to smooth over already tense relations with
Islamabad, such an aggressive attack taking place without provocation seems
unlikely. In any event, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operated by the CIA
essentially have free rein in Pakistani airspace over the border area and are often
used for targeted assassinations, meaning that the involvement of attack helicopters
rather than UAVs does lend credence to the close air support claim. (The principle
of hot pursuit, which is understood and often exercised by U.S. patrols along the
border, might also have been applied.)
The "border" between Afghanistan and Pakistan in this area is part of the Durand
Line agreed upon between the Afghan monarch and the colonial authority of British
India in 1893. Not only is the border poorly marked, it also divides extraordinarily
rugged terrain and essentially bisects the Pashtun population. And from the British
perspective, the agreement was intended to establish a broad buffer between British
and Russian interests in Central Asia by establishing a line along the distant,
outer frontier of British India. British priorities had little to do with the
day-to-day realities of a fixed linear boundary, and to this day the specific border
exists primarily on paper.
The border is characterized by a string of outposts -- often little more than
prepared fighting positions and some crude shelters that are difficult to
distinguish between military, government or civilian structures -- manned by the
paramilitary Frontier Corps on the Pakistani side. These positions presumably are
selected for their tactical value in monitoring and dominating the border, and the
troops occupying those positions invariably know the general location of the border
before them. Similarly, U.S. special operations teams are well trained and practiced
in land navigation at night, regularly conduct operations in the area and are there
to patrol that very border. Both sides know full well their general positions
relative to the border.
A post-attack image of the Pakistani outpost involved in the Nov. 26 cross-border
The point is that, whatever the specifics of the Nov. 26 incident, it appears
largely consistent with and governed by the underlying tactical realities of the
border. A small Pakistani outpost that perceives a threatening, armed entity will
take advantage of its position and heavier weaponry in engaging the force rather
than let it slip any closer -- and this will be more true the smaller and more
isolated the garrison. Under fire, a U.S. interdiction patrol (as distinct from a
reconnaissance patrol, for which breaking contact is proscribed if feasible) will
move quickly to advantageous terrain dictated by the direction of fire and the
immediate geography around it, regardless of the border. If the situation dictates,
the patrol may engage in hot pursuit across the border after being attacked.
The border is a highway for insurgents (both those who use Pakistan as a sanctuary
for their fight in Afghanistan and those who are doing the reverse), other militants
and supplies. That's why the border outposts are manned and U.S.-Afghan teams
conduct patrols -- to interdict both types of insurgents. But it also means that
there are plenty of armed formations moving around at night, and from the
perspective of both a Pakistani outpost and a U.S. patrol, none of them is friendly.
Close Air Support
Pakistani forces have regularly shelled targets on the Afghan side of the border,
and on a number of occasions U.S. forces have killed Pakistani troops -- in
firefights, with artillery, with UAVs and with attack helicopters. Indeed, standard
U.S. operating procedures allow Pakistani troops and militants alike to know the
probable American response in a given tactical scenario -- including what it takes
to get close air support called in.
Any dismounted American foot patrol that takes fire from both mortars and heavy
machine guns is going to call for whatever fire support it can get. And given the
frequency of incidents and the rugged terrain near the border, special operations
teams operating near the border are likely to have a flight of Apaches close by
ready to provide that support.
The forward-looking infrared sensor mounted on the nose of the AH-64 Apache is
capable of remarkable resolution -- sufficient to make out not only adult
individuals but the shapes of weapons they may be carrying. But the history of the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is also rife with incidents where aircrews, acting on
the information available to them (and with the context of being called in to
support friendly forces under fire), engaged targets only later to find that the
activity or weaponry had not been as it appeared -- a reporter with a long,
telephoto lens on a camera rather than a rocket launcher or children picking up
pinecones instead of insurgents emplacing an improvised explosive device.
Particularly on the border, the pilot and gunner are making the same distinction
Pakistani outposts and American patrols are likely to make in the area: Armed
individuals and groups not known to be friendly are probably hostile. The position
of friendly forces will be communicated by the air controller in contact with the
aircrew and also generally by infrared strobes or other means. Though the air
controller will indicate the immediate threat, any non-friendly position could
quickly be judged hostile. Any unit firing or maneuvering with what appears to be
weaponry may quickly be deemed hostile in the exigency of the moment and the
uncertainty of the environment based on limited information. And while ISAF has
tightened its rules of engagement and added additional oversight for close air
support in Afghanistan in response to domestic outrage over collateral damage, there
is still going to be an enormous difference between the restraint exercised in, say,
Marjah, where a population-centered counterinsurgency campaign is actively under
way, and an isolated special operations patrol near the Pakistani border in an area
known to be frequented by militants.
The Big Picture
In a way, the Afghan-Pakistani border is a microcosm of the U.S.-Pakistani
relationship. The U.S. patrols and the Pakistani outposts are there for entirely
different and in some cases directly opposing reasons. The Pakistanis are spread
thin in the FATA and are focusing their efforts on the Pakistani Taliban, which have
their sights set on Islamabad. Not only are they less interested in confronting the
Afghan Taliban as a matter of priority, but Pakistani national interest dictates
maintaining a functional relationship with the Afghan Taliban as leverage in dealing
with the United States and as a way to control Afghanistan as the United States and
its allies begin to withdraw.
Hence, elements of the Pakistani military and the Inter-Services Intelligence
directorate are actively engaged in supporting the Afghan Taliban and have in some
cases come to see common cause with them -- not only in supporting the Afghan
Taliban but also in actively undermining U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and disrupting
Pakistani cooperation with the United States. Indeed, the timing and magnitude of
the Nov. 26 incident -- which was entirely plausible under a number of scenarios --
calls into question whether it may have been staged or intended to provoke the
response it did. Some reports have indicated that the Taliban may have staged an
initial attack intended to draw the Pakistani positions and the American patrol into
a firefight with each other.
Whatever the case, factions that benefit from a greater division between Pakistan
and the United States will be aided by the incident and subsequent public outcry --
as will the Pakistani state, which is now holding its own cooperation hostage for
better terms in its relationship with Washington.
Ultimately, however, there is a reason for the long, established history of
cross-border incidents and skirmishes. The United States and Pakistan are playing
very different games for very different ends on both sides of the border and in
Afghanistan. They have different adversaries and are playing on different
timetables. The alliance is one of necessity but hobbled by incompatibility, and
near-term American imperatives in Afghanistan -- lines of supply, political
progress, counterterrorism efforts -- clash directly with the long-term American
interest in a strong Pakistani state able to manage its territory and keep its
nuclear arsenal secure. The near-term demands Washington has made on Islamabad
weaken the state and divide the country. Obviously, the Pakistani government intends
to retain its strength and keep the country as unified as possible.
The reality is that as long as the political objectives that dictate U.S. and
Pakistani military strategies and tactics are generally at odds, there will be
tension and conflict. And as long as Pakistani and American forces are both
patrolling a border that exists primarily on paper, they will be at odds.
Tactically, this means armed groups with many divergent loyalties will be circling
What actually happened early on Nov. 26 is increasingly irrelevant; it is merely a
symptom of larger issues that remain unresolved, and the fallout has already taken
shape. Pakistan is leveraging the incident for everything it can and is already
demonstrating its displeasure (both for political leverage and to satisfy an enraged
domestic populace) by doing the following:
Closing the crucial border crossings at Torkham near the Khyber Pass and Chaman to
Giving the CIA 15 days to vacate the Shamsi air base in Balochistan from which it
conducts UAV operations (though Pakistani airspace reportedly remains open to such
Reviewing its intelligence and military cooperation with the United States and NATO
Boycotting the upcoming Dec. 5 Bonn conference on Afghanistan, though there are
some hints already that it may reconsider; it is difficult to imagine what a
conference on Afghanistan without Pakistan might achieve, but Islamabad would face
other risks in not attending such a conference.
The larger question is whether the calculus for an alliance of necessity between the
United States and Pakistan still holds. As the American and allied withdrawal from
Afghanistan accelerates, without a political understanding between Washington,
Islamabad, Kabul and the Afghan Taliban, there is little prospect of American and
Pakistani interests coming into any closer alignment. The United States and its
allies are moving for the exits while the Pakistanis try to ensure optimal
circumstances surrounding the withdrawal and at the same time ensure maximum
leverage to manage whatever ends up being left behind. The two countries still have
numerous incentives to continue cooperation, but all the ingredients for
cross-border incidents and skirmishes -- as well as the opportunity to stage,
provoke and exploit those incidents and skirmishes -- remain firmly in place.
This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to
Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1175 on:
December 02, 2011, 06:39:26 PM »
Pakiness, 101: Pakistan cannot be understood, without understanding pakiness. Hoping to repeatedly point out examples of typical paki behaviour...which needs to be recognized as it is a recurring pattern. If our govt understood these behaviours, we could have saved ourselves billions in treasure and lost lives.
Down hill skiing
: First they will take an extreme position (ie will boycott Bonn meeting), then when suitable pressure is applied, will back down under flimsy excuses.
Pakistan budges on Bonn meet
Pakistan on Wednesday
at the possibility of participating in the coming Bonn Conference on Afghanistan
ruled out any high-level representation on the ground that Afghan soil had been used by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to attack the country in what the Army calls a “deliberate” act of aggression.
Agreeing to consider German Chancellor Angela Merkel's repeated requests for Islamabad's participation, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said he would refer the suggestion of having Pakistan's Ambassador in Germany attend the deliberations to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security.
Ms. Merkel called Mr. Gilani to impress upon him the importance of Pakistan's participation at the meeting to make it meaningful. As Mr. Gilani was unwilling to budge on high-level participation, she suggested the Ambassador be permitted to represent Pakistan so that its seat at the table was not left vacant.
In view of bilateral relations
and the fact that the German Foreign Minister was among the first to personally call
his Pakistani counterpart to express solidarity with Pakistan and condole the death of 24 Pakistan Army soldiers in the NATO firing at Pakistani outposts on Saturday morning, Mr. Gilani agreed to refer the request to the Parliamentary Committee.
Meanwhile, the formal communication to the U.S. asking it to vacate the Shamsi airbase has been sent with December 11 set as the deadline.
Pakistan has released footage of two posts which came under fire from helicopters of the coalition forces in Afghanistan and wanted to know where the NATO casualties were in case there was firing from the Pakistani side.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1176 on:
December 04, 2011, 05:59:03 PM »
Why I find US attacks on Pakistan satisfying
What goes around comes around… The US military has spanked the Pakistani army and humiliated its leadership by attacking outposts on the Af-Pak border and killing 24 soldiers.
Normally, I feel strongly against such blatant violations of the sovereignty of independent nations. But, and only as an exception, I must confess, the US action is giving me immense pleasure.
Adding to my satisfaction, even unconcealed glee, is the decision of US President Barrack Obama not to tender an apology for the attack.
A respected colleague is aghast at my reaction. He accuses me of being intrinsically anti-Pakistani.
But I also don’t believe, even for a minute, that it is a friendly country; that engagement with it is the best way forward for us; that a strong and stable Pakistan is in our best interest; and that we must do our bit to strengthen its democratically elected government and the civil society from which it draws its authority.
And that’s why I feel vindicated when the US gives Pakistan a solid hiding and a very visible black eye – something that the Indian government seems singularly incapable of doing.
For decades, India and its citizens have been at the receiving end of a well-documented, highly visible but never publicly acknowledged war declared by the rulers of Islamabad.
For decades, Indians have been chaffing at the impunity with which the perpetrators of terror from across the border have been plying their craft in this country and the brazenness with which their political masters in Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been denying their complicity and even defending them as so-called freedom fighters, social workers and heroes.
So, it comes as a delicious irony to see Pakistan at the receiving end of its own medicine; to see Pakistani sovereignty violated with impunity by a “friendly nation”, which refuses even to apologise for the havoc it caused.
And how have the Pakistanis reacted – to this attack as well as the one six months ago that killed terror mastermind Osama bin Laden right under the noses of his hosts in that country’s establishment?
“We will not tolerate this.”
“Next time, we will hit back.”
“We will retaliate.”
The impotent rage ringing out from those words is music to my ears.
We’ve heard our leaders repeat them thousands of times in the past. We know them for just what they are: false bravado.
There’s nothing the Pakistani government or military can do about it. The Pakistani leadership knows it, too. They’ve heard it for decades from their Indian counterparts – and chuckled.
Now, they’re being forced to parrot these same lines. And I can bet my bottom dollar that they’re not chuckling this time.
The Indian government is also not chuckling – at least not publicly. Officially, India wants the US and Pakistan – “two friendly powers” – to resolve their differences.
All right… we may not have the means to punish Pakistan for being the neighbourhood delinquent, but we can at least call a spade a spade!
What amazes me is the continued belief across the Indian political spectrum – right, left and centre – in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, that peace with Pakistan is possible on respectable terms and that India must somehow try and help that country’s civilian government consolidate its grip on power.
Look at the evidence:
* Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a civilian, reneged on the Simla Pact as soon as India returned 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war;
* Gen Zia ul Haq, his successor, began exporting thousands of jehadi fighters into India to bleed this country to death by a thousand cuts;
* Bhutto’s daughter Benazir, despite publicly wanting peace with India, set the Kashmir valley in flames in 1989;
* Kargil happened during the reign of Nawaz Sharif;
* Gen Parvez Musharaf, who overthrew Sharif in a coup, is widely believed to be the author of Kargil; and
* Pakistan planned and executed the 26/11 attack on Mumbai when Benazir’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, was (and remains) President. Indian home minister P Chidambaram complained only last week that Pakistan continues to protect the perpetrators of that attack even as it continues to stonewall Indian demands to bring them to justice.
So, no Pakistani ruler over the last 40 years – whether civilian, military or civilian-backed-by-the-military – has seriously pursued peace with India.
And the peace overtures by every Indian leader – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh – have been rebuffed with asymmetric warfare, political doublespeak, diplomatic grandstanding and brazen deceit.
Pakistan’s bottom line has always been: give us Kashmir, or else…
It has not budged from this position since Independence.
All the concessions, it has demanded overtly and covertly, have to come from India. Regrettably, successive rulers in New Delhi have, in their eagerness for peace, willingly suspended disbelief and fallen into the Pakistani trap.
Tell me: which book of strategy, which master of real politick, which treatise on international relations has ever said: It is in your best interest to strengthen your enemy.
Even the US, without whose military and financial support Pakistan will collapse, has not been able to make Pakistan behave like a responsible member of the international community.
Then, Pakistan’s foundational premise was anti-Indian and it continues to define its existence on an anti-India paradigm.
So, New Delhi’s hopes of responsible behaviour and neighbourliness from Pakistan is nothing but the victory of irrational expectation over experience.
Already, many influential circles around the world consider Pakistan a failed state. It may be in India’s best interest to let it fail completely. And if its constituent parts – Sindh, Balochistan, Northwest Frontier Province and Punjab — want to go their own way, let them.
My respected colleague is getting very agitated, almost on the verge of having a fit. How can you consider Pakistan an enemy? he demands. That is the language of 19th century geopolitics.
And that, to me, is the language of post-modern denial.
Friendly, it isn’t; neutral, it can’t be… I’m sorry, but I can’t find any other word to describe Pakistan. Let’s face it, the Allies didn’t win the Second World War by calling Nazi Germany a friend; the West didn’t win the Cold War by describing Soviet Bloc inhabitants as comrades; and the Indian Army didn’t liberate Bangladesh by being buddies with General Niazi’s hordes.
That still leaves the main question unanswered: how do we deal with our troublesome western neighbour?
War is not an option, India lacks the capability for covert action and talks have not yielded any results.
The honest answer is, like the Indian government and, indeed, the rest of the world, I don’t know.
But I do know this: the first step towards resolving the problem of Pakistan is to acknowledge that Pakistan is, indeed, a problem. And considering Pakistan a friend is not a step in that direction.
Meanwhile, I continue to savour the quiet satisfaction of seeing Pakistan getting what it had coming for a long, long time.
Significance of Dec 6 attacks
Reply #1177 on:
December 06, 2011, 03:11:02 PM »
Tactical Analyst Ben West discusses the characteristics and significance of the Dec. 6 attacks in Afghanistan.
• Attacks on Shiites in Afghanistan
• The Afghanistan Campaign, Part 2: The Taliban Strategy
Today’s bombings in Afghanistan targeting Shiites have been condemned by the Taliban. Meanwhile, a Pakistani militant group has claimed them. These attacks pose a challenge to the Taliban and undermine their claim of control.
Three bombings across Afghanistan have targeted Shiites celebrating Ashura. Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (also known as LeJ) has claimed responsibility for the attack in Kabul that killed 55 people. Smaller attacks in Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar appear to be linked due to their similar timing and targeting. Sectarian violence like this is rare in Afghanistan. LeJ has been highly involved in attacks against Shiites in Pakistan, but has not engaged in high profile militant attacks in Afghanistan.
In Kabul, a man wearing a suicide vest maneuvered his way into a group of Shiites waiting to enter a shrine. The resulting explosion has killed at least 55 people and injured over 100 more. In Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar, bombs planted on a bicycle and motorbike, respectively, targeted processions of Shia on the streets. These attacks were far less deadly though — four were killed in Mazar-i-Sharif, while nobody was killed in Kandahar. The similar timing and targeting of the three attacks strongly suggests coordination between the attackers. So even though LeJ did not claim responsibility for the attacks outside of Kabul, it is very likely that they were responsible for these coordinated attacks.
High profile sectarian attacks like these are rare in Afghanistan. The Taliban has focused its effort on NATO forces and Afghan government officials in collusion with them. Inciting more violence by attacking Afghanistan’s Shiite minority does not fit into their strategy. In Pakistan however, the opposite is true. Extremist groups have long adopted sectarian violence as a tactic in trying to destabilize the government.
It is not surprising then that the Taliban has condemned these attacks while a Pakistani militant group has claimed them. LeJ has engaged in numerous sectarian attacks across Pakistan. For example, just in September, LeJ claimed responsibility for an armed assault on a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims in Quetta, Pakistan. In a similar attack earlier in July, gunmen killed 11 Shiites travelling in a van in Quetta. The LeJ promptly claimed responsibility for it as well.
However, it is significant that LeJ appears to be moving its attacks across the border into Afghanistan. Pakistani militant groups are known to support the Taliban by providing things such as fighters, supplies, training and even conducting the occasional attack. But these attacks today do not support the Taliban’s goal of forcing foreign military presence out of the country and assuming control.
Today’s attacks work against the Taliban strategy and highlight a breach in Taliban control over the various militant groups active in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, militant groups are trying to weaken the government by causing insecurity, but in Afghanistan, the Taliban is trying to prove that it is the more competent governing force – and that means providing security. The fact that the LeJ was able to establish a presence in these areas and conduct these attacks undermines the Taliban’s governing capability. The Taliban has verbally condemned the attacks, but we are watching for more direct retaliation from the Taliban in an effort for them to prove they can control these areas and punish those who trespass.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1178 on:
December 06, 2011, 06:57:18 PM »
President Zardari suddenly leaves Pakistan -- is he on the way out?
Posted By Josh Rogin Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 5:34 PM Share
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari left Pakistan suddenly on Tuesday, complaining of heart pains, and is now in Dubai. His planned testimony before a joint session of Pakistan's parliament on the Memogate scandal is now postponed indefinitely.
On Dec. 4, Zardari announced that he would address Pakistan's parliament about the Memogate issue, in which his former ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani stands accused of orchestrating a scheme to take power away from Pakistan's senior military and intelligence leadership and asking for U.S. help in preventing a military coup. Haqqani has denied that he wrote the memo at the heart of the scheme, which also asked for U.S. support for the Zardari government and promised to realign Pakistani foreign policy to match U.S. interests.
The memo was passed from Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz to former National Security Advisor Jim Jones, to then Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen on May 10, only nine days after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani military town of Abbottabad.
Ijaz has repeatedly accused Haqqani of being behind the memo, and Ijaz claims that Haqqani was working with Zardari's implicit support.
Early on Tuesday morning, Zardari's spokesman revealed that the president had traveled to Dubai to see his children and undergo medical tests linked to a previously diagnosed "cardiovascular condition."
A former U.S. government official told The Cable today that when President Barack Obama spoke with Zardari over the weekend regarding NATO's killing of the 24 Pakistani soldiers,
Zardari was "incoherent."
The Pakistani president had been feeling increased pressure over the Memogate scandal. "The noose was getting tighter -- it was only a matter of time," the former official said, expressing the growing expectation inside the U.S. government that Zardari may be on the way out.
The former U.S. official said that parts of the U.S. government were informed that Zardari had a "minor heart attack" on Monday night and flew to Dubai via air ambulance today. He may have angioplasty on Wednesday and may also resign on account of "ill health."
"This is the ‘in-house change option' that has been talked about," said Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, in a Tuesday interview with The Cable. Nawaz said that this plan would see Zardari step aside and be replaced by his own party, preserving the veneer of civilian rule but ultimately acceding to the military's wishes to get rid of Zardari.
"Unfortunately, it means that the military may have had to use its muscle to effect change yet again," said Nawaz. "Now if they stay at arm's length and let the party take care of its business, then things may improve. If not, then this is a silent coup with [Pakistani prime minister Yousaf Raza] Gilani as the front man."
In Islamabad, some papers have reported that before Zardari left Pakistan, the Pakistani Army insisted that Zardari be examined by their own physicians, and that the Army doctors determined that Zardari was fine and did not need to leave the country for medical reasons. Zardari's spokesman has denied that he met with the Army doctors.
One Pakistani source told The Cable that Zardari was informed on Monday that none of the opposition party members nor any of the service chiefs would attend his remarks to the parliament as a protest against his continued tenure. This source also said that over a dozen of Zardari's ambassadors in foreign countries were in the process of being recalled in what might be a precursor to Zardari stepping down as president, taking many of his cronies with him.
Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported that before leaving, Zardari met separately with Gilani, Chairman of the Senate Farooq H Naik, and Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
This past weekend, the Memogate scandal worsened for Zardari when Ijaz alleged in a Newsweek opinion piece that Zardari and Haqqani had prior knowledge of the U.S. raid to kill bin Laden, and may have given permission for the United States to violate Pakistan's airspace to conduct the raid.
On May 2, the day after bin Laden was killed, Wajid Hasan, Pakistan's high commissioner to the United Kingdom, said in an interview with CNN that Pakistan, "did know that this was going to happen because we have been keeping -- we were monitoring him and America was monitoring him. But Americans got to where he was first."
In a statement given to the Associated Press of Pakistan Monday, White House spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said that information on the actual operation to kill bin Laden was not given to anyone in Pakistan.
"As we've said repeatedly, given the sensitivity of the operation, to protect our operators we did not inform the Pakistani government, or any other government, in advance," she said.
Zardari lived in self-imposed exile in Dubai from 2004 through 2007 after being released from prison, where he had been held for eight years on corruption charges. His three children live there, but his 23-year son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the chairman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), is in Pakistan now.
REcent attacks a reminder of sectarian tensions
Reply #1179 on:
December 07, 2011, 11:27:40 PM »
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2011 STRATFOR.COM Diary Archives
Attacks a Reminder of Afghanistan's Sectarian Tensions
Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for one of three improvised explosive device attacks that targeted Afghan Shiite shrines and Ashura mourner processions Tuesday. The attacks hit targets hundreds of kilometers apart but occurred within 75 minutes of each other. Investigations have yet to confirm LeJ’s claim. The attacks were almost certainly timed to spark sectarian violence, and whichever militant group carried them out required resources in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kandahar.
That kind of sectarian violence, which for years has affected Iraq, has not played a great role in the war NATO has led in Afghanistan since 2001. The Afghan Taliban have for the most part directed their actions at Western, Indian and NATO targets, along with Afghan security forces and government posts. While they do not indicate the stirring of a new trend, Tuesday’s attacks do spotlight the potential for a rise in sectarian and tribal violence in the country.
“While they do not indicate the stirring of a new trend, Tuesday’s attacks do spotlight the potential for a rise in sectarian and tribal violence in the country. “
Foreign powers have occupied Afghanistan for about two decades since 1979. In the period between these occupations, Afghanistan was embroiled in a civil war. Foreign occupiers tend to divide the country along artificial lines, co-opting some elements of society and thereby alienating others. Those groups that do not benefit from patronage — or worse, see their traditional rivals gain strength — turn to insurgency. Other parts of society, even when attempting to maintain neutrality, are often dragged into conflict. While foreign intervention puts a temporary hold on underlying tribal, ethnic and sectarian tensions, it does not permanently solve them. In the long run, occupation tends to exacerbate those rivalries and even creates new ones. When the artificial force is removed from the equation — as was seen in the 1990s — long-repressed tensions quickly return to the fore. This is the key geopolitical reality of a country with arbitrary borders that has been colonized time and again.
The artificial force directed by the U.S. and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force has only recently begun to lift, and will affect the reality on the ground for years to come. But as Washington attempts to work with Kabul and Islamabad to forge a political accommodation with the Taliban, opportunities for rival groups to take part in an eventual settlement will open, while others will close. While the Taliban have appeared reticent to negotiate, it is fully within their interest — their participation depends on terms and timing.
If such progress occurs, transnational jihadists with no stake in national politics or in political reconciliation in Afghanistan and Pakistan fear they will be negatively affected. Many of them do have past associations with parts of the Afghan Taliban, so some jihadists may choose to move toward negotiations. But the most hardline groups fear that the settlement will fall far short of their ideological expectations, or that they may actually end up the subject of crackdowns.
In a fairly quick response, Zabihollah Mojahed, an Afghan Taliban spokesman, criticized the attacks and blamed them on foreign enemies. Mullah Muhammad Omar, the head of the Taliban, recently instructed his fighters to avoid attacking civilians and to focus on foreign targets and Afghan collaborators. While that has not been strictly carried out in practice, one possibility these events open is for the Taliban — if they so choose — to openly criticize transnational jihadists. While they may have aligned over the last two decades, the Taliban’s interests are not perfectly or permanently tied to those of foreign jihadists.
Tuesday’s attacks appear to indicate that LeJ, which has close ties to al Qaeda and foreign jihadists, is attempting to ignite new types of infighting and to disrupt any movement toward a negotiated settlement between Washington, the Afghan government, Pakistan and the Taliban. If so, it represents a highly visible and significant break between LeJ and the Taliban. Washington demands that the Taliban eliminate support of transnational jihadists as a precondition to any settlement. In this context, the attacks’ potential significance as a break between the two entities, and the distinction publicly made afterward by the Taliban, are both noteworthy.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1180 on:
December 10, 2011, 08:54:14 AM »
From the web..
"Everyone seems to wonder
why Pak terrorists are quick to line up for suicide attacks
. Lets have a look at the evidence: No Christmas,No tv,No nude women,No football,No pork chops,No hotdogs, No burgers, No beer, No bacon, Rags for clothes, Towels for hats, Constant wailing from some asshole in a tower, More than one wife, More than one mother in law, You can't shave, Your wife can't shave, You can't wash off the smell of donkey, You cook over burning camel shit, Yr wife smells worse than your donkey.
Then they tell you "when you die, it all gets better"....!!"
P.S.Pl. delete if offensive..
Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 08:56:26 AM by ya
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1181 on:
December 10, 2011, 11:10:36 AM »
Note the Dec 15, deadline...that will likely determine whether Zardari comes back. If the army blames Zardari for "memogate", the PPP prime minister may resign, and create chaos in Sindh state of pak.
President Asif Zardari's sudden departure for Dubai last Tuesday, reportedly for a "routine medical check-up", has provoked much speculation. One report claims he may resign for reasons of bad health. Others say he has fled the country to avoid impeachment or conviction on account of "treasonable" involvement in "Memogate". The government says he is fine and should be back in a few days after the medical checkups are done, "provided his doctors give him the all-clear". If he is fine, why qualify it thus? If he isn't back soon, then he must be seriously ill.
These contradictory statements have fueled rumours of a creeping "soft coup" against him.
Mr Zardari, to be certain, hasn't been in the best of health. He suffers from an assortment of ailments, including diabetes, hypertension, blood pressure and coronary disease. But the truth is that the tensions of Memogate and NRO must be weighing on him in more ways than one. Consider.
The opposition, Supreme Court, military and sections of the media are gunning for President Asif Zardari. Of late, Mr Nawaz Sharif has also been screaming "Go Zardari Go". He gave the government ten days to set up a credible commission on Memogate but then petitioned the SC in four days to take matters in hand. Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi have been blasting him in rallies, the latter thundering that Pakistan's nuclear assets and Mr Zardari cannot co-exist, an ominous charge that those close to the military are inclined to make of politicians who are accused of being a "national security risk" and then scuttled.
The SC also seems to have decided to go for Mr Zardari's jugular. The NRO review petition has been revived and rubbished swiftly. The PM has been ordered to write to the Swiss authorities to reopen the money laundering cases against Mr Zardari, regardless of his presidential immunity.
Now the SC has hastily held that there is, prima facie, a case to be made out against Husain Haqqani, former ambassador to Washington, and President Zardari, and ordered them, plus the prime minister, army chief and DG ISI, to send their comments, remarks and evidence to the SC by 15 December.
The military, in the meanwhile, is leaking like a sieve with stories of the "nefarious and treasonable" activities of both Mr Haqqani and President Zardari.
All these "stakeholders" have personal, political or institutional grudges against Mr Zardari. According to Imran Khan, the plan to "get Zardari" was ready in November last year but the military backed off at the last minute following the extensions in service granted by him to both the army chief and DG ISI. Now there is no such hurdle.
December is a critical month. If the government balks at obeying SC orders, the SC may seek recourse to Article 190 of the Constitution and order the army to implement them. Once such an order is made, Mr Zardari will be as good as in the net. He won't be able to flee.
Under the circumstances, it makes good sense to be ill (thereby deriving public sympathy) and be out of the country (thereby denying the SC and military a chance to nab him and put him in the dock) until the road is clear of the present danger. Alternatively, if the plans are there for all to see, he can guide his besieged party and prime minister from the safety of Dubai and London to resist, like Altaf Hussain continues to do and like Nawaz Sharif did for ten years from Saudi Arabia. It is learnt that the prime minister and party have girded their loins to face the conspiracies afoot against them.
Mr Zardari will not resign and the PPP will not throw in the towel without a fight. Instead, they will go down fighting, charging the "Punjabi establishment" of martyring two Sindhi prime ministers and scuttling three PPP governments to date, thus reclaiming collective martyrdom and another chance to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes.
Mr Zardari can pend his decision to stay or return on the basis of how the SC proceeds in the next month or so.
If the omens are not good, his illness could take a turn for the worse, compelling him to stay put in a hospital abroad. Or he might return in the next few days and see how the army and ISI respond to the notice of the SC. Much will rest on whether they send an adverse view of him on Memogate directly via the Judge Advocate General of the army or a favourable view of him via the Defense Ministry which comes under the federal government. He has already set a precedent for exiting the country unannounced and suddenly on account of health reasons. He can do so again should an emergency arise. But the dice is loaded against him and the conspirators will not be easily thwarted this time round.
Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 12:07:39 PM by ya
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1182 on:
December 10, 2011, 11:19:46 AM »
The game certainly has more than the usual number of levels in Afpakia!
BTW, I just noticed that this thread too has passed the 100,000 level-- a goodly portion of the credit I think must go to our YA and the quality of the posts and intel he brings.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1183 on:
December 10, 2011, 08:10:55 PM »
Not a friendly move on Pakistan's part.
Pakistan says U.S. drones in its air space will be shot downBy NBC News, msnbc.com staff and news service reports
Updated at 8 p.m. EST
ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan will shoot down any U.S. drone that intrudes its air space per new directives, a senior Pakistani official told NBC News on Saturday.
Pakistani security personnel examine a crashed US surveillance drone inside Pakistan in August.
According to the new Pakistani defense policy, "Any object entering into our air space, including U.S. drones, will be treated as hostile and be shot down," a senior Pakistani military official told NBC News.
The policy change comes just weeks after a deadly NATO attack on Pakistani military checkpoints accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, prompting Pakistani officials to order all U.S. personnel out of a remote airfield in Pakistan.
Pakistan told the U.S. to vacate Shamsi Air Base by December 11.
A senior military official from Quetta, Pakistan, confirmed to NBC News on Saturday that the evacuation of the base, used for staging classified drone flights directed against militants, “will be completed tomorrow,” according to NBC’s Fakhar ur Rehman.
Pakistan's Frontier Corps security forces took control of the base Saturday evening after most U.S. military personnel left, Xinhua news agency reported. Civil aviation officials also moved in Saturday, Xinhua said.
Pakistani Military Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had issued multiple directives since the Nov. 26 NATO attack, which included orders to shoot down U.S. drones, senior military officials confirmed to NBC News on Saturday.
It was unclear Saturday whether orders to fire upon incoming U.S. drones was part of the initial orders.
Supporters of opposition political party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (Movement of Justice) carry a mock US drone as they listen to a speech by the party founder Imran Khan, during a protest rally against the United States drones attacks.
The Pakistani airbase had been used by U.S. forces, including the CIA, to stage elements of a clandestine U.S. counter-terrorism operation to attack militants linked to al-Qaida, the Taliban and Pakistan's home-grown Haqqani network, using unmanned drone aircraft armed with missiles.
President Barack Obama stepped up the drone campaign after he took office. U.S. officials say it has produced major successes in decimating the central leadership of al-Qaida and putting associated militant groups on the defensive.
Since 2004, U.S. drones have carried out more than 300 attacks inside Pakistan.
Pakistani authorities started threatening U.S. personnel with eviction from the Shamsi base in the wake of the raid last May in which U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden at his hide-out near Islamabad without notifying Pakistani officials in advance.
NBC News' Fakhar ur Rehman, msnbc.com's Sevil Omer and Reuters contributed to this report
Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 08:14:54 PM by prentice crawford
WSJ: We are out of Shamsi Air Base in Baluchistan
Reply #1184 on:
December 12, 2011, 08:55:32 AM »
Pakistan's military said Sunday that Washington has met its demand to pull U.S. equipment and personnel from an air base in the southwest of the country.
US army vacates airbase in Pakistan, as angry demonstrators burn the American flag in protest at a NATO air strike that killed 24 soldiers. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
.Pakistan demanded the U.S. withdraw from Shamsi air base in Baluchistan province as a retaliatory measure after a North Atlantic Treaty Organization strike late last month killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The U.S. had used Shamsi to operate drone strikes against Taliban militants sheltering in the tribal regions on the frontier with Afghanistan, according to Pakistani defense officials.
The U.S. already had scaled back operations at the base this summer due to Pakistani demands to do so, these officials said.
.The expulsion from Shamsi is more symbolic than a meaningful attempt to halt the drone attacks, which have killed scores of Taliban and al Qaeda militants.
The U.S. has continued the covert program, which is run by the Central Intelligence Agency, from bases in Afghanistan, despite the wind-down at Shamsi begun this summer.
But another Pakistan retaliatory measure for the NATO air strikes — shutting key NATO supply routes through Pakistan — is likely to pose a greater threat to U.S. interests in the region, U.S. officials say.
Pakistan has given no indication of when it will lift the blockade. NATO sends about half of its supplies for its soldiers in Afghanistan via two Pakistani land routes.
If the shut-down lasts much longer, affecting key supplies of fuel, it could begin to hurt NATO's campaign in Afghanistan, U.S. officials have said.
Anti-U.S. sentiment has been on the rise this year due to the drone program, which is unpopular with many people, and the covert U.S. raid on a Pakistani garrison town in May that killed Osama bin Laden.
After the NATO raid on Nov. 26, Pakistan gave the U.S. 15 days to fully vacate Shamsi. The "last flight carrying leftover US Personnel and Equipment departed Shamsi Base today and the Base has been completely vacated," Pakistan's military said in a statement Sunday. "The control of the Base has been taken over by the Army."
Attempts to contact a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad were not successful.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1185 on:
December 13, 2011, 09:38:08 PM »
Pak 101: key word:
Honor& Dignity (H&D)
The previous 2 posts are all about maintaining H&D...amongst the beards. Never mind that Shamsi airbase was winding down ops over the last several months.
The post about basing paki air assets near the border is harder to evaluate...for it could lead to a confrontation with the US, or will likely involve
(keyword discussed earlier!) from their decision later. Paki generals are under pressure to do something in response to the 24 killed in the cross border attack by the US. I suspect that the US jammed some paki radio communications during the couple of hrs that the attack took place. Since pakis cannot admit that the US can jam all radio communications at will, as in this attack, and also previously in the OBL killing, Gen.Kiyani recently ordered that the front line troops need not wait for orders from their senior commanders, and can take matters into their own hands. This statement will calm down the rank and file, since they can now shoot down the reviled US helis and drones, but in their tactical brilliance they forget that the US can pulversise them with a devastating counter attack. I very much doubt that the US is shutting down the drone programme (the only thing that has worked in the Af-pak theater).
Another possibility is that the "anointed one" (Fox terminology), is withdrawing from Af-pak, and pakis are taking advantage of that to show that they forced the US to withdraw. Interesting times ahead..
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1186 on:
December 15, 2011, 07:16:30 PM »
Paki behaviour 101: Blame everyone else, but self
Pakistan: Islamabad Will Fight Terrorism On Its Own Terms - FM
December 15, 2011
Pakistan will fight terrorism on its own terms rather than those of the U.S. Congress, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said in a Dec. 15 meeting with the Pakistani National Security Commission, The Express Tribune reported. She said the U.S.-Pakistan relationship is on hold and will be restored on a mandate from Pakistan’s parliament and people that clearly defines the partnership so that it can be pursued more vigorously. Khar added that although Pakistan should not be worried by the freeze on U.S. aid to Islamabad,
the United States will be responsible if Pakistan loses its war on terrorism
, NDTV reported.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1187 on:
December 18, 2011, 06:15:11 PM »
Zardari has returned to Pak, suggestion a deal has been reached with Kayani...all's well for now. He still has issues with the judiciary..
Back in the saddle
By Masroor Afzal Pasha and Hussain Kashif
KARACHI/LAHORE: President Asif Ali Zardari, who was in Dubai for nearly two weeks for medical treatment,
returned to country late on Sunday night.
The president arrived in a special plane that landed at the PAF base Masroor in Karachi. The plane was equipped with medical facilities, and the president’s personal physician and medics were on board. The president was accompanied by his daughter Asifa Bhutto Zardari. Senior Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leaders welcomed him at the airport.
The medical team accompanying the president declared him completely fit, allowing him to resume his official activities. Security from airport to the Bilawal House had already been beefed up in anticipation of president’s arrival. Earlier, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said that the ‘situation’ had neutralised after army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s meeting with him and direct telephonic talk with President Zardari on Saturday, Daily Times learnt.
Well-placed sources in the PPP, speaking on the eve of the hearing of the memo case in the Supreme Court, said that the ice has been melted after former US national security adviser General James Jones, who delivered the memo to the then chief of US military Admiral Michael Mullen, filed a statement in the Supreme Court regarding the memo scandal, clearing the confusion on the matter.
Sources had earlier said that the president’s core team had made a decision for his return homeland. The sources also said that President Zardari had also rejected the suggestion of a welcome gathering from the party at the airport on his return to the country. The sources further informed that the party heads have also decided that Zardari would stay in the Bilawal House and take rest till December 26 avoiding work and meetings, but he would appear in the public meeting at Garhi Khuda Baksh on the eve of Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary where he would deliver a special speech and take the nation in confidence regarding conspiracies against him and his party’s government. The PPP sources also said that some party leaders had been in favour of the president’s return on Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary to prevent any move against him. They were of the view that the party was showing its strength and all the activists and followers of Bhuttos would be united at Garhi Khuda Baksh.
Pravda On The Hudson: Pakistan has a point
Reply #1188 on:
December 18, 2011, 06:17:19 PM »
By BILL KELLER
Published: December 14, 2011
As an American visitor in the power precincts of Pakistan, from the gated enclaves of Islamabad to the manicured lawns of the military garrison in Peshawar, from the luxury fortress of the Serena Hotel to the exclusive apartments of the parliamentary housing blocks, you can expect three time-honored traditions: black tea with milk, obsequious servants and a profound sense of grievance.
Talk to Pakistani politicians, scholars, generals, businessmen, spies and journalists — as I did in October — and before long, you are beyond the realm of politics and diplomacy and into the realm of hurt feelings. Words like “ditch” and “jilt” and “betray” recur. With Americans, they complain, it’s never a commitment, it’s always a transaction. This theme is played to the hilt, for effect, but it is also heartfelt.
“The thing about us,” a Pakistani official told me, “is that we are half emotional and half irrational.”
For a relationship that has oscillated for decades between collaboration and breakdown, this has been an extraordinarily bad year, at an especially inconvenient time. As America settles onto the long path toward withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pakistan has considerable power to determine whether the end of our longest war is seen as a plausible success or a calamitous failure.
There are, of course, other reasons that Pakistan deserves our attention. It has a fast-growing population approaching 190 million, and it hosts a loose conglomerate of terrorist franchises that offer young Pakistanis employment and purpose unavailable in the suffering feudal economy. It has 100-plus nuclear weapons (Americans who monitor the program don’t know the exact number or the exact location) and a tense, heavily armed border with nuclear India. And its president, Asif Ali Zardari, oversees a ruinous kleptocracy that is spiraling deeper into economic crisis.
But it is the scramble to disengage from Afghanistan that has focused minds in Washington. Pakistan’s rough western frontier with Afghanistan is a sanctuary for militant extremists and criminal ventures, including the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, the notorious Haqqani clan and important remnants of the original horror story, Al Qaeda. The mistrust between Islamabad and Kabul is deep, nasty — Afghanistan was the only country to vote against letting Pakistan into the United Nations — and tribal. And to complicate matters further, Pakistan is the main military supply route for the American-led international forces and the Afghan National Army.
On Thanksgiving weekend, a month after I returned from Pakistan, the relationship veered precipitously — typically — off course again. NATO aircraft covering an operation by Afghan soldiers and American Special Forces pounded two border posts, inadvertently killing 24 Pakistani soldiers, including two officers. The Americans said that they were fired on first and that Pakistan approved the airstrikes; the Pakistanis say the Americans did not wait for clearance to fire and then bombed the wrong targets.
The fallout was painfully familiar: outrage, suspicion and recrimination, petulance and political posturing. Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the chief of the army and by all accounts the most powerful man in Pakistan, retaliated by shutting (for now and not for the first time) the NATO supply corridor through his country. The Pakistanis abruptly dropped out of a Bonn conference on the future of Afghanistan and announced they would not cooperate with an American investigation of the airstrikes. President Obama sent condolences but balked at the suggestion of an apology; possibly the president did not want to set off another chorus of Mitt Romney’s refrain that Obama is always apologizing for America. At this writing, American officials were trying to gauge whether the errant airstrike would have, as one worried official put it, “a long half-life.”
If you survey informed Americans, you will hear Pakistanis described as duplicitous, paranoid, self-pitying and generally infuriating. In turn, Pakistanis describe us as fickle, arrogant, shortsighted and chronically unreliable.
Neither country’s caricature of the other is entirely wrong, and it makes for a relationship that is less in need of diplomacy than couples therapy, which customarily starts by trying to see things from the other point of view. While the Pakistanis have hardly been innocent, they have a point when they say America has not been the easiest of partners.
One good place to mark the beginning of this very, very bad year in U.S.-Pakistani relations is Dec. 13, 2010, when Richard C. Holbrooke died of a torn aorta. Holbrooke, the veteran of the Balkan peace, had for two years held the thankless, newly invented role of the administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The antithesis of mellow, Holbrooke did not hit it off with our no-drama president, and his bluster didn’t always play well in Kabul or Islamabad either.
But Holbrooke paid aggressive attention to Pakistan. While he was characteristically blunt about the divergent U.S. and Pakistani views, he understood that they were a result of different, calculated national interests, not malevolence or mere orneriness. He was convinced that the outlooks could be, if not exactly synchronized, made more compatible. He made a concentrated effort to persuade the Pakistanis that this time the United States would not be a fair-weather friend.
“You need a Holbrooke,” says Maleeha Lodhi, a well-connected former ambassador to Washington. “Not necessarily the person but the role.” In the absence of full-on engagement, she says, “it’s become a very accident-prone relationship.”
On Jan. 27, a trigger-happy C.I.A. contractor named Raymond Davis was stuck in Lahore traffic and shot dead two motorcyclists who approached him. A backup vehicle he summoned ran over and killed a bystander. The U.S. spent heavily from its meager stock of good will to persuade the Pakistanis to set Davis free — pleading with a straight face that he was entitled to diplomatic immunity.
On May 2, a U.S. Navy Seals team caught Osama bin Laden in the military town Abbottabad and killed him. Before long, American officials were quoted questioning whether their Pakistani allies were just incompetent or actually complicit. (The Americans who deal with Pakistan believe that General Kayani and the director of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, were genuinely surprised and embarrassed that Bin Laden was so close by, though the Americans fault the Pakistanis for not looking very hard.) In Pakistan, Kayani faced rumbles of insurrection for letting Americans violate Pakistani sovereignty; a defining victory for President Obama was a humiliation for Kayani and Pasha.
In September, members of the Haqqani clan (a criminal syndicate and jihadi cult that’s avowedly subservient to the Taliban leader Mullah Omar) marked the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with two theatrical attacks in Afghanistan. First a truck bomb injured 77 American soldiers in Wardak Province. Then militants rained rocket-propelled grenades on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, forcing our ambassador to spend 20 hours locked down in a bunker.
A few days later the former Afghan president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, spread his arms to welcome an emissary from the Taliban to discuss the possibility of peace talks. As they embraced, the visitor detonated a bomb in his turban, killing himself, Rabbani and the talks. President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, without any evidence that American officials are aware of, accused Pakistan of masterminding the grotesque killing in order to scuttle peace talks it couldn’t control.
And two days after that, Adm. Mike Mullen, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took to Capitol Hill to suggest that Pakistani intelligence had blessed the truck bomb and embassy attack.
His testimony came as a particular shock, because if the turbulent affair between the United States and Pakistan had a solid center in recent years, it was the rapport between Mullen and his Pakistani counterpart, General Kayani. Over the four years from Kayani’s promotion as chief of the army staff until Mullen’s retirement in September, scarcely a month went by when the two didn’t meet. Mullen would often drop by Kayani’s home at the military enclave in Rawalpindi, arriving for dinner and staying into the early morning, discussing the pressures of command while the sullen-visaged general chain-smoked Dunhills. One time, Kayani took his American friend to the Himalayas for a flyby of the world’s second-highest peak, K2. On another occasion, Mullen hosted Kayani on the golf course at the Naval Academy. The two men seemed to have developed a genuine trust and respect for each other.
(Page 3 of 9)
But Mullen’s faith in an underlying common purpose was rattled by the truck bombing and the embassy attack, both of which opened Mullen to the charge that his courtship of Kayani had been a failure. So — over the objection of the State Department — the admiral set out to demonstrate that he had no illusions.
The Haqqani network “acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency,” he declared. “With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck-bomb attack as well as the assault on our embassy.”
Several officials with access to the intelligence told me that while the Haqqanis were implicated in both attacks, there was no evidence of direct ISI involvement. A Mullen aide said later that the admiral was referring to ISI’s ongoing sponsorship of the Haqqanis and did not mean to say Pakistan authorized those specific attacks.
No matter. In Pakistan, Mullen’s denunciation led to a ripple of alarm that U.S. military “hardliners” were contemplating an invasion. The press had hysterics. Kayani made a show of putting the Pakistani Army on alert. The Pakistani rupee fell in value.
In Washington, Mullen’s remarks captured — and fed — a vengeful mood and a rising sense of fatalism about Pakistan. Bruce O. Riedel, an influential former C.I.A. officer who led a 2009 policy review for President Obama on Pakistan and Afghanistan, captured the prevailing sentiment in an Op-Ed in The Times, in which he called for a new policy of “containment,” meaning “a more hostile relationship” toward the army and intelligence services.
“I can see how this gets worse,” Riedel told me. “And I can see how this gets catastrophically worse. . . . I don’t see how it gets a whole lot better.”
When Gen. David H. Petraeus took over the U.S. military’s Central Command in 2008, he commissioned expert briefing papers on his new domain, which sprawled from Egypt, across the Persian Gulf, to Central Asia. The paper on Afghanistan and Pakistan began, according to an American who has read it, roughly this way: “The United States has no vital national interests in Afghanistan. Our vital national interests are in Pakistan,” notably the security of those nuclear weapons and the infiltration by Al Qaeda. The paper then went on for the remaining pages to discuss Afghanistan. Pakistan hardly got a mention. “That’s typical,” my source said. Pakistan tends to be an afterthought.
The Pakistani version of modern history is one of American betrayal, going back at least to the Kennedy administration’s arming of Pakistan’s archrival, India, in the wake of its 1962 border war with China.
The most consequential feat of American opportunism came when we enlisted Pakistan to bedevil the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan in the 1980s. The intelligence agencies of the U.S. and Pakistan — with help from Saudi Arabia — created the perfect thorn in the Soviet underbelly: young Muslim “freedom fighters,” schooled in jihad at Pakistani madrassas, laden with American surface-to-air missiles and led by charismatic warriors who set aside tribal rivalries to war against foreign occupation.
After the Soviets admitted defeat in 1989, the U.S. — mission accomplished! — pulled out, leaving Pakistan holding the bag: several million refugees, an Afghanistan torn by civil war and a population of jihadists who would find new targets for their American-supplied arms. In the ensuing struggle for control of Afghanistan, Pakistan eventually sided with the Taliban, who were dominated by the Pashtun tribe that populates the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier. The rival Northern Alliance was run by Tajiks and Uzbeks and backed by India; and the one thing you can never underestimate is Pakistan’s obsession with bigger, richer, better-armed India.
Page 4 of 9)
As long as Pakistan was our partner in tormenting the Soviet Union, the U.S. winked at Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons program. After all, India was developing a nuclear arsenal, and it was inevitable that Pakistan would follow suit. But after the Soviets retreated, Pakistan was ostracized under a Congressional antiproliferation measure called the Pressler Amendment, stripped of military aid (some of it budgeted to bring Pakistani officers to the U.S. for exposure to American military values and discipline) and civilian assistance (most of it used to promote civil society and buy good will).
Our relationship with Pakistan sometimes seems like a case study in unintended consequences. The spawning of the mujahadeen is, of course, Exhibit A. The Pressler Amendment is Exhibit B. And Exhibit C might be America’s protectionist tariffs on Pakistan’s most important export, textiles. For years, experts, including a series of American ambassadors in Islamabad, have said that the single best thing the U.S. could do to pull Pakistan into the modern world is to ease trade barriers, as it has done with many other countries. Instead of sending foreign aid and hoping it trickles down, we could make it easier for Americans to buy Pakistani shirts, towels and denims, thus lifting an industry that is an incubator of the middle class and employs many women. Congress, answerable to domestic textile interests, has had none of it.
“Pakistan the afterthought” was the theme very late one night when I visited the home of Pakistan’s finance minister, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh. After showing me his impressive art collection, Shaikh flopped on a sofa and ran through the roll call of American infidelity. He worked his way, decade by decade, to the war on terror. Now, he said, Pakistan is tasked by the Americans with simultaneously helping to kill terrorists and — the newest twist — using its influence to bring them to the bargaining table. Congress, meanwhile, angry about terrorist sanctuaries, is squeezing off much of the financial aid that is supposed to be the lubricant in our alliance.
“Pakistan was the cold-war friend, the Soviet-Afghan-war friend, the terror-war friend,” the minister said. “As soon as the wars ended, so did the assistance. The sense of being discarded is so recent.”
A Boston University-educated economist who made his money in private equity investing — in other words, a cosmopolitan man — Shaikh seemed slightly abashed by his own bitterness.
“I’m not saying that this style of Pakistani thinking is analytically correct,” he said. “I’m just telling you how people feel.”
He waved an arm toward his dining room, where he hung a Warhol of Muhammad Ali. “We’re just supposed to be like Ali — take the beating for seven rounds from Foreman,” he said. “But this time the Pakistanis have wised up. We are playing the game, but we know you can’t take these people at their word.”
With a timetable that has the United States out of Afghanistan, or mostly out, by the end of 2014, Pakistan has leverage it did not have when the war began.
One day after 9/11, Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, summoned the head of Pakistani intelligence for a talking to. “We are asking all of our friends: Do they stand with us or against us?” he said. The following day, Armitage handed over a list of seven demands, which included stopping Al Qaeda operations on the Pakistani border, giving American invaders access to Pakistani bases and airspace and breaking all ties with the Taliban regime.
The Pakistanis believed from the beginning that Afghanistan had “American quagmire” written all over it. Moreover, what America had in mind for Afghanistan was antithetical to Pakistan’s self-interest.
“The only time period between 1947 and the American invasion of Afghanistan that Pakistanis have felt secure about Afghanistan is during the Taliban period,” from 1996 to 2001, says Vali Nasr, an American scholar of the region who is listened to in both academia and government. Now the Bush administration would attempt to supplant the Taliban with a strong independent government in Kabul and a muscular military. “Everything about this vision is dangerous to Pakistan,” Nasr says.
Page 5 of 9)
Pakistan’s military ruler at the time, Pervez Musharraf, saw the folly of defying an American ultimatum. He quickly agreed to the American demands and delivered on many of them. In practice, though, the accommodation with the Taliban was never fully curtailed. Pakistan knew America’s mission in Afghanistan would end, and it spread its bets.
The Bush-Musharraf relationship, Vali Nasr says, “was sort of a Hollywood suspension of disbelief. Musharraf was a convenient person who created a myth that we subscribed to — basically that Pakistan was on the same page with us, it was an ally in the war on terror and it subscribed to our agenda for Afghanistan.”
But the longer the war in Afghanistan dragged on, the harder it was to sustain the illusion.
In October, I took the highway west from Islamabad to Peshawar, headquarters of the Pakistan Army corps responsible for the frontier with Afghanistan. Over tea and cookies, Lt. Gen. Asif Yasin Malik, the three-star who commanded the frontier (he retired this month) talked about how the Afghan war looked from his side of the border.
The official American version of the current situation in Afghanistan goes like this: By applying the counterinsurgency strategy that worked in Iraq and relying on a surge of troops and the increasingly sophisticated use of drones, the United States has been beating the insurgency into submission, while at the same time standing up an indigenous Afghan Army that could take over the mission. If only Pakistan would police its side of the border — where the bad guys find safe haven, fresh recruits and financing — we’d be on track for an exit in 2014.
The Pakistanis have a different narrative. First, a central government has never successfully ruled Afghanistan. Second, Karzai is an unreliable neighbor — a reputation that has not been dispelled by his recent, manic declarations of brotherhood. And third, they believe that despite substantial investment by the United States, the Afghan Army and the police are a long way from being ready to hold the country. In other words, America is preparing to leave behind an Afghanistan that looks like incipient chaos to Pakistan.
In Peshawar, General Malik talked with polite disdain about his neighbor to the west. His biggest fear — one I’m told Kayani stresses in every meeting with his American counterparts — is the capability of the Afghan National Security Forces, an army of 170,000 and another 135,000 police, responsible for preventing Afghanistan from disintegrating back into failed-state status. If the U.S. succeeds in creating such a potent fighting force, that makes Pakistanis nervous, because they see it (rightly) as potentially unfriendly and (probably wrongly) as a potential agent of Indian influence. The more likely and equally unsettling outcome, Pakistanis believe, is that the Afghan military — immature, fractious and dependent on the U.S. Treasury — will disintegrate into heavily armed tribal claques and bandit syndicates. And America, as always, will be gone when hell breaks loose.
General Malik studied on an exchange at Fort McNair, in Washington, D.C., and has visited 23 American states. He likes to think he is not clueless about how things work in our country.
“Come 2015, which senator would be ready to vote $9 billion, or $7 billion, to be spent on this army?” he asked. “Even $5 billion a year. O.K., maybe one year, maybe two years. But with the economy going downhill, how does the future afford this? Very challenging.”
American officials will tell you, not for attribution, that Malik’s concerns are quite reasonable.
So I asked the general if that was why his forces have not been more aggressive about mopping up terrorist sanctuaries along the border. Still hedging their bets? His answer was elaborate and not entirely facile.
First of all, the general pointed out that Pakistan has done some serious fighting in terrorist strongholds and shed a lot of blood. Over the past two years, Malik’s forces have been enlarged to 147,000 soldiers, mainly by relocating more than 50,000 from the Indian border. They have largely controlled militant activities in the Swat Valley, for example, which entailed two hard offensives with major casualties. But they have steadfastly declined to mount a major assault against North Waziristan — a mountainous region of terrorist Deadwoods populated by battle-toughened outlaws.
Page 6 of 9)
Yes, Malik said, North Waziristan is a terrible situation, but his forces are responsible for roughly 1,500 miles of border, they police an archipelago of rough towns in the so-called Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, and by the way, they had a devastating flood to handle last year.
“If you are not able to close the Mexican border, when you have the technology at your call, when there is no war,” he said, “how can you expect us to close our border, especially if you are not locking the doors on your side?”
Americans who know the area well concede that, for all our complaints, Pakistan doesn’t push harder in large part because it can’t. The Pakistan Army has been trained to patrol the Indian border, not to battle hardened insurgents. They have comparatively crude weaponry. When they go up against a ruthless outfit like the Haqqanis, they tend to get killed. Roughly 4,000 Pakistani troops have died in these border wars — more than the number of all the allied soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
“They’re obviously reluctant to go against the Haqqanis, but reluctant for a couple of reasons,” an American official told me. “Not just the reason that they see them as a potential proxy force if Afghanistan doesn’t go well, but also because they just literally lack the capability to take them on. They’ve got enough wars on their hands. They’ve not been able to consolidate their gains up in the northern part of the FATA, they have continued problems in other areas and they just can’t deal with another campaign, which is what North Waziristan would be.”
And there is another, fundamental problem, Malik said. There is simply no popular support for stepping up the fight in what is seen as America’s war. Ordinary Pakistanis feel they have paid a high price in collateral damage, between the civilian casualties from unmanned drone attacks and the blowback from terror groups within Pakistan.
“When you go into North Waziristan and carry out some major operation, there is going to be a terrorist backlash in the rest of the country,” Malik told me. “The political mood, or the public mood, is ‘no more operations.’ ”
In late October, Hillary Clinton arrived in Islamabad, leading a delegation that included Petraeus, recently confirmed as C.I.A. director, and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Mullen’s successor as chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Petraeus used to refer to Holbrooke as “my diplomatic wingman,” a bit of condescension he apparently intended as a tribute. This time, the security contingent served as diplomacy’s wingmen.
The trip was intended as a show of unity and resolve by an administration that has spoken with conflicting voices when it has focused on Pakistan at all. For more than four hours, the Americans and a potent lineup of Pakistani counterparts talked over a dinner table.
Perhaps the most revealing thing about the dinner was the guest list. The nine participants included Kayani and Pasha, but not President Zardari or Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who provided the dining room at his own residence and made himself scarce. The only representative of the civilian government was Clinton’s counterpart, the new foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, a 34-year-old rising star with the dark-haired beauty of a Bollywood leading lady, a degree in hospitality management from the University of Massachusetts and, most important, close ties to the Pakistani military.
For a country that cherishes civilian democracy, we have a surprising affinity for strong men in uniform. Based on my conversations with American officials across the government, the U.S. has developed a grudging respect for Kayani, whom they regard as astute, straightforward, respectful of the idea of democratic government but genuinely disgusted by the current regime’s thievery and ineptitude. (We know from the secret diplomatic cables disclosed by WikiLeaks that Kayani has confided to American officials his utter contempt for his president and “hinted that he might, however reluctantly, have to persuade President Zardari to resign.”) Zardari, whose principal claim to office is that he is the widower of the assassinated and virtually canonized Benazir Bhutto, has been mainly preoccupied with building up his patronage machine for elections in 2013. The Americans expect little from him and don’t see a likely savior among his would-be political challengers. (As this article goes to press, Zardari is recovering from chest pains in a hospital in Dubai; there are rumors he won’t return.) So, Kayani it is. The official American consensus is less enamored of Kayani’s loyal intelligence underling, General Pasha, whose agency consorts with terrorists and is suspected of torturing and killing troublemakers, including journalists, but Pasha is too powerful to ignore.
Page 7 of 9)
The day after the marathon dinner, Clinton’s entourage took over the Serena Hotel for a festival of public diplomacy — a press conference with the foreign minister, followed by a town meeting with young Pakistanis and then a hardball round-table interview with a circle of top editors and anchors.
Clinton’s visit was generally portrayed, not least in the Pakistani press, as a familiar ritual of America talking tough to Pakistan. In the town meeting, a woman asked why America always played the role of bossy mother-in-law, and that theme delighted editorial cartoonists for days.
But the private message to the Pakistanis — and a more careful reading of Clinton’s public performance — reflected a serious effort to reboot a troubled relationship. Clinton took care to pay tribute to Pakistani losses in the war against terror in the past decade — in addition to the military, an estimated 30,000 civilian dead, the equivalent of a 9/11 every year. She ruled out sending American ground troops into Pakistani territory. She endorsed a Pakistani plea that U.S. forces in Afghanistan do a better job of cleaning up militant sanctuaries on their own side of the border.
Questioned by a prominent television anchor, she repudiated Mullen’s testimony, not only disavowing any evidence of ISI complicity in the attack on America’s embassy in Kabul but also soft-peddling the spy agency’s coziness with terrorists.
“Now, every intelligence agency has contacts with unsavory characters,” she said. “I don’t think you would get any denial from either the ISI or the C.I.A. that people in their respective organizations have contacts with members of groups that have different agendas than the governments’. But that doesn’t mean that they are being directed or being approved or otherwise given a seal of approval.”
That particular riff may have caused jaws to clench at the C.I.A. compound in Langley, Va. The truth is, according to half a dozen senior officials with access to the intelligence, the evidence of Pakistan’s affinity for terrorists is often circumstantial and ambiguous, a matter of intercepted conversations in coded language, and their dealings are thought to be more pragmatic than ideological, more a matter of tolerating than directing, but the relationship goes way beyond “contacts with unsavory characters.”
“They’re facilitating,” one official told me. “They provide information to the Haqqanis, they let them cross back and forth across the border, they let this L.E.T. guy (the leader of the dangerous Lashkar-e-Taiba faction of Kashmiri terrorists) be in prison and not be in prison at the same time.”
And yet the Pakistanis have been helpful — Abbottabad aside — against Al Qaeda, which is America’s first priority and which the Pakistanis recognize as a menace to everyone. They have shared intelligence, provided access to interrogations and coordinated operations. Before the fatal border mishap Thanksgiving weekend, one U.S. official told me, anti-terror cooperation between the C.I.A. and Pakistani intelligence had been “very much on the upswing.”
The most striking aspect of Clinton’s trip, however, was her enthusiastic embrace of what is now called “reconciliation” — which is the polite word for negotiating with the Taliban.
Pakistan has long argued that the way to keep Afghanistan from coming to grief is to cut a deal with at least some of the Taliban. That would also mean Afghanistan could get by with a smaller, cheaper army. The notion has been anathema to the Americans tasked with killing Taliban; a principled stand against negotiating with terrorists is also a political meme that acquires particular potency in election seasons, as viewers of the Republican debates can attest.
Almost unnoticed, though, reconciliation has moved to a central place in America’s strategy and has become the principal assignment for U.S. officials in the region. Clinton first signaled this in a speech to the Asia Society last February, when she refocused Afghanistan strategy on its original purpose, isolating the terrorists at war with America, meaning Al Qaeda.
Page 8 of 9)
The speech was buried beneath other news at the time, but in early October, Tom Donilon, Obama’s national security adviser, met Kayani in Abu Dhabi to stress to skeptical Pakistani leaders that she was serious. Clinton’s visit to Islamabad with her generals in tow was designed to put the full weight of the U.S. behind it.
Clinton publicly acknowledged that the ISI (in fact, it was General Pasha in person) had already brokered a preliminary meeting between a top American diplomat and a member of the Haqqani clan. Nothing much came of the meeting, news of which promptly leaked, but Clinton said America was willing to sit down with the Taliban. She said that what had once been preconditions for negotiations — renouncing violence, shunning Al Qaeda and accepting Afghanistan’s constitution, including freedoms for women — were now “goals.”
In diplomacy, no process is fully initiated until it has been named. A meeting of Pakistani political parties in Islamabad had adopted a rubric for peace talks with the Taliban, a slogan the Pakistanis repeated at every opportunity: “Give peace a chance.” If having this project boiled down to a John Lennon lyric diminished the gravitas of the occasion, Clinton didn’t let on.
Within the American policy conglomerate, not everyone is terribly upbeat about the prospect of reconciling with the Taliban. The Taliban have so far publicly rejected talks, and the turban-bomb killing of Rabbani was a serious reversal. There is still some suspicion — encouraged by Afghanistan and India — about Pakistan’s real agenda. One theory is that Pakistan secretly wants the Taliban restored to power in Afghanistan, believing the Pashtun Islamists would be more susceptible to Pakistani influence. A more cynical theory, which I heard quite a bit in New Delhi, is that the Pakistani Army actually wants chaos on its various borders to justify its large payroll. Most Americans I met who are immersed in this problem put little stock in either of those notions. The Pakistanis may not be the most trustworthy partners in Asia, but they aren’t idiots. They know, at least at the senior levels, that a resurgent Taliban means not just perpetual mayhem on the border but also an emboldening of indigenous jihadists whose aim is nothing less than a takeover of nuclear Pakistan. But agreeing on the principle of a “stable Afghanistan” is easier than defining it, or getting there.
After Clinton left Islamabad, a senior Pakistani intelligence official I wanted to meet arrived for breakfast with me and a colleague at Islamabad’s finest hotel. With a genial air of command, he ordered eggs Benedict for the table, declined my request to turn on a tape recorder, (“Just keep my name out of it,” he instructed later) and settled into an hour of polished spin.
“The Taliban learned its lesson in the madrassas and applied them ruthlessly,” he said, as the Hollandaise congealed. “Now the older ones have seen 10 years of war, and reconciliation is possible. Their outlook has been tempered by reason and contact with the modern world. They have relatives and friends in Kabul. They have money from the opium trade. They watch satellite TV. They are on the Internet.”
On the other hand, he continued, “if you kill off the midtier Taliban, the ones who are going to replace them — and there are many waiting in line, sadly — are younger, more aggressive and eager to prove themselves.”
So what would it take to bring the Taliban into a settlement? First, he said, stop killing them. Second, an end to foreign military presence, the one thing that always mobilizes the occupied in that part of the world. Third, an Afghan constitution framed to give more local autonomy, so that Pashtun regions could be run by Pashtuns.
On the face of it, as my breakfast companion surely knows, those sound like three nonstarters, and taken together they sound rather like surrender. Even Clinton is not calling for a break in hostilities, which the Americans see as the way to drive the Taliban to the bargaining table. As for foreign presence, both the Americans and the Afghans expect some long-term residual force to stay in Afghanistan, to backstop the Afghan Army and carry out drone attacks against Al Qaeda. And while it is not hard to imagine a decentralized Afghanistan — in which Islamic traditionalists hold sway in the rural areas but cede the urban areas, where modern notions like educating girls have already made considerable headway — that would be hard for Americans to swallow.
Page 9 of 9)
Clinton herself sounded pretty categorical on that last point when she told Pakistani interviewers: “I cannot in good faith participate in any process that I think would lead the women of Afghanistan back to the dark ages. I will not participate in that.”
To questions of how these seemingly insurmountable differences might be surmounted, Marc Grossman, who replaced Holbrooke as Clinton’s special representative, replies simply: “I don’t know whether these people are reconcilable or not. But the job we’ve been given is to find out.”
If you look at reconciliation as a route to peace, it requires a huge leap of faith. Surely the Taliban have marked our withdrawal date on their calendars. The idea that they are so deeply weary of war — – let alone watching YouTube and yearning to join the world they see on their laptops — feels like wishful thinking.
But if you look at reconciliation as a step in couples therapy — a shared project in managing a highly problematic, ultimately critical relationship — it makes more sense. It gives Pakistan something it craves: a seat at the table where the future of Afghanistan is plotted. It gets Pakistan and Afghanistan talking to each other. It offers a supporting role to other players in the region — notably Turkey, which has taken on a more active part as an Islamic peace broker. It could drain some of the acrimony and paranoia from the U.S.-Pakistan rhetoric.
It might not save Afghanistan, but it could be a helpful start to saving Pakistan.
What Clinton and company are seeking is a course of patient commitment that America, frankly, is not usually so good at. The relationship has given off some glimmers of hope — with U.S. encouragement, Pakistan and India have agreed to normalize trade relations; the ISI has given American interrogators access to Osama bin Laden’s wives — but the funerals of those Pakistani troops last month remind us that the country is still a graveyard of optimism.
At least the U.S. seems, for now, to be paying attention to the right problem.
“If you stand back,” said one American who is in the thick of the American strategy-making, “and say, by the year 2020, you’ve got two countries — 30 million people in this country, 200 million people with nuclear weapons in this country, American troops in neither. Which matters? It’s not Afghanistan.”
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1189 on:
December 20, 2011, 06:57:17 PM »
The above article does not mention this, but wrt to relations with the USA, in moments of clarity, Pakistanis often refer to themselves as a condom which is discarded after use, a most perceptive description IMHO.
The above article also exemplifies everything that is wrong with US policy. What do the pakis need to do before the US govt will cut aid ?. The reality is that pakiland is on a downhill course (somewhat like the Euro), you can slow the descent but not the trajectory.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1190 on:
December 20, 2011, 07:09:19 PM »
It seems to me that the pakis fired first, and then got their a$$ handed to them....but ofcourse that cannot be admitted...so blame India!.
KARACHI: According to a BBC report, Pakistan’s military officials on Monday blamed an Afghan commander for the November 26 Nato strike on Salala check post in Mohmand agency, DawnNews reported. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported that the accused Afghan commander conspired
on the instructions of Indian
and Afghan intelligence to dismantle Pakistan’s ties with US and Nato.
See also this article
The probe report – parts of which have been shared with Nato forces in Kabul –
states that no US soldier
was involved in the airstrike on the Salala check post in the Mohmand Agency that left two dozen border guards dead.
Investigators are convinced that an Afghan National Army (ANA) officer conspired with India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security in prompting the Nato airstrike, an officer privy to the probe told the BBC.
Islamabad has shared the evidence of his involvement with Nato, saying that the evidence warrants action against him.
Islamabad has long suspected that archrival India is using Afghan soil to foment trouble in Pakistan’s border regions.
Last Edit: December 20, 2011, 07:14:17 PM by ya
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1191 on:
December 20, 2011, 07:23:52 PM »
NEW YORK: The New York Times said on Monday that President Asif Ali Zardari may have come back to Pakistan only for a “cameo appearance” for the death anniversary (Dec 27) of Benazir Bhutto and “then go on permanently to London or Dubai”.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1192 on:
December 20, 2011, 07:31:28 PM »
Pak 101: keyword:
...slowly pak is withdrawing from all the tough talk...very soon drone strikes will resume, as will the opening of highways. Afterall, stopping transport of US goods thro Pak, hurts the pakis equally, they dont get paid!.
Pakistan: Afghan Border Centers Restored
December 19, 2011
Pakistan restored liaisons to coordination centers on the Afghan border, a NATO official said, Reuters reported Dec. 19.
Redraw the Map
Reply #1193 on:
December 21, 2011, 07:51:42 PM »
Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map
M. CHRIS MASON
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011 2:00AM EST
Relations between the United States and Pakistan have reached an all-time low. The Khyber Pass is closed to NATO cargo, U.S. personnel were evicted from Shamsi airbase and Pakistani observers have been recalled from joint co-operation centres.
Much more importantly, senior officials in Washington now know that Pakistan has been playing them false since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and understand that Pakistan was sheltering Osama bin Laden a few hundred yards from its version of West Point. The recent shelling of Afghan troops inside Afghanistan by the Pakistani army, and the NATO counterstrike, cleared in error by Pakistan, has further embarrassed the Pakistani military.
It should be obvious by now that Pakistan has no intention of doing what the United States has wanted for the past decade. The combination of wishful thinking, admiration for the emperor’s new clothes and $10-billion in payments to the Pakistani military have accomplished nothing. Admiral Michael Mullen was not wrong when he testified recently that the terrorist Haqqani network is operating as an arm of the Pakistani army. He might have added that the Taliban is the Pakistani army’s expeditionary force in Afghanistan. Pakistan shelters, funds, trains, supplies and advises the Taliban. The simple fact is that Pakistan is the world’s No. 1 state supporter of terrorism.
In Afghanistan, Pakistan will never be happy unless it has a puppet regime in Kabul and can run the country like a colony. Islamabad does not intend to allow the current Afghan constitution to remain in effect, and as soon as NATO pulls out, it will push the Taliban into an all-out civil war in Afghanistan designed to return it to power. All of which has led to a lot of hand-wringing in Washington, accompanied by a revolving-door procession of senior U.S. officials going to Islamabad to read a toothless riot act the Pakistanis can now recite by heart.
The permanent solution to the Pakistan problem is not more of this chest-beating appeasement. The answer lies in 20th-century history. In 1947, when India gained independence, a British Empire in full retreat left behind an unworkable mess on both sides of India – called Pakistan – whose elements had nothing in common except the religion of Islam. In 1971, this postcolonial Frankenstein came a step closer to rectification when Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, became an independent state.
The answer to the current Pakistani train wreck is to continue this natural process by recognizing Baluchistan’s legitimate claim to independence. Baluchistan was an independent nation for more than 1,000 years when Great Britain notionally annexed it in the mid-19th century.
The Baluchis were never consulted about becoming a part of Pakistan, and since then, they have been the victims of alternating persecution and neglect by the Pakistani state, abuse which escalated to genocide when it was discovered in the 1970s that most of the region’s natural resources lie underneath their soil. Since then, tens of thousands of Baluchis have been slaughtered by the Pakistani army, which has used napalm and tanks indiscriminately against an unarmed population.
Changing maps is difficult only because it is initially unimaginable to diplomats and politicians. Although redrawing maps is the definition of failure for the United Nations and the U.S. State Department, it has, in fact, been by such a wide margin the most effective solution to regional violence over the past 50 years that there is really nothing in second place.
Among the most obvious recent examples (apart from the former Soviet Union) are North and South Sudan, Kosovo, Eritrea, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, East Timor and Bangladesh.
An independent Baluchistan would, in fact, solve many of the region’s most intractable problems overnight.
It would create a territorial buffer between rogue states Iran and Pakistan. It would provide a transportation and pipeline corridor for Afghanistan and Central Asia to the impressive but underutilized new port at Gwadar. It would solve all of NATO’s logistical problems in Afghanistan, allow us to root the Taliban out of the former province and provide greater access to Waziristan, to subdue our enemies there. And it would contain the rogue nuclear state of Pakistan and its A.Q. Khan network of nuclear proliferation-for-profit on three landward sides.
The way to put the Pakistani genie back in the bottle and cork it is to help the Baluchis go the way of the Bangladeshis in achieving their dream of freedom from tyranny, corruption and murder at the hands of the diseased Pakistani military state.
M. Chris Mason is a retired diplomat with long service in South Asia and a senior fellow at the Center for Advanced Defence Studies in Washington.
Last Edit: December 21, 2011, 10:02:18 PM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1194 on:
December 22, 2011, 06:21:06 PM »
This group of 3 interrelated reports, suggests trouble is brewing between PPP (Zardari's party, of which Gilani is also a member) the army and the judiciary. It appears that the army and the judiciary are ganging up on Zardari. Interesting times ahead..
Pakistan: No Control Over ISI, Army – Defense Ministry
December 22, 2011 | 0540 GMT
In a written reply to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the
Pakistani Defense Ministry said it has no control over any operation conducted by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency or the Pakistani Army,
Geo New TV reported Dec. 22, citing unnamed sources close to the matter. The ministry said it only handles administrative affairs for the ISI and the army, and therefore it was not in a position to answer or explain anything on behalf of the Pakistani Army.
Pakistan: Army Answers To Government - PM
December 22, 2011 | 1450 GMT
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani
reminded the army that it, like all state institutions, answers to the parliament and the prime minister,
Associated Press of Pakistan and AFP reported Dec. 22. He added that the army is under the Defense Ministry and could not consider itself its own state within Pakistan without taking lawmakers’ sovereignty. Gilani said there are conspirators plotting against the elected government and that he would fight for Pakistani rights whether he remains in the government or not.
Pakistan: Army Wants President Legally Removed - Source
December 22, 2011 | 1509 GMT
Pakistan’s army wants President Asif Ali Zardari to leave office through legal means rather than a rumored coup, military sources said
Dec. 22, Reuters reported. The sources added that no military coup is being planned because it would be unpopular with the people, it would have national and international consequences and the government’s mistakes already create discontent. Any action taken must come from the Supreme Court rather than the military.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1195 on:
December 22, 2011, 06:35:41 PM »
The WSJ carries an article today, essentially indicating that the US accepts blame for the killing of 24 pakis. Looks like appeasement of paki H&D by the Obama admin to me. The DOD release is more nuanced in accepting blame...
Department of Defense Statement Regarding Investigation Results into Pakistan Cross-Border Incident
The investigation into the 25-26 November engagement between U.S. and Pakistani military forces across the border has been completed. The findings and conclusions were forwarded to the Department through the chain of command. The results have also been shared with the Pakistani and Afghan governments, as well as key NATO leadership.
The investigating officer found that U.S. forces, given what information they had available to them at the time, acted in self defense and with appropriate force after being fired upon.
He also found that there was no intentional effort to target persons or places known to be part of the Pakistani military, or to deliberately provide inaccurate location information to Pakistani officials.
Nevertheless, inadequate coordination by U.S. and Pakistani military officers operating through the border coordination center -- including our reliance on incorrect mapping information shared with the Pakistani liaison officer -- resulted in a misunderstanding about the true location of Pakistani military units. This, coupled with other gaps in information about the activities and placement of units from both sides, contributed to the tragic result.
For the loss of life -- and for the lack of proper coordination between U.S. and Pakistani forces that contributed to those losses -- we express our deepest regret. We further express sincere condolences to the Pakistani people, to the Pakistani government, and most importantly to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who were killed or wounded.
Our focus now is to learn from these mistakes and take whatever corrective measures are required to ensure an incident like this is not repeated. The chain of command will consider any issues of accountability. More critically, we must work to improve the level of trust between our two countries. We cannot operate effectively on the border -- or in other parts of our relationship -- without addressing the fundamental trust still lacking between us. We earnestly hope the Pakistani military will join us in bridging that gap.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1196 on:
December 22, 2011, 06:46:19 PM »
Thursday, Dec 22 2011 12AM Secret talks with Taliban reach critical juncture as U.S. considers transfer of Gitmo prisoners to Afghan custodyU.S. officials held meeting with Haqqani network
Currently, fewer than 20 Afghan citizens detained at Guantanamo Bay
'End conditions' they want Taliban to embrace include renouncing violence, breaking with al-Qaeda, and respecting Afghan constitution
Senior Taliban official denies meetings occurred
By Reuters Reporter
After ten months of secret dialogue with Afghanistan's Taliban insurgents, stakes could not be higher.
Senior U.S. officials say the talks have reached a critical juncture and they will soon know whether a breakthrough is possible, leading to peace talks whose ultimate goal is to end the Afghan war.
Failure would likely condemn Afghanistan to continued conflict, perhaps even civil war, after Nato troops finish turning security over to Afghan president Hamid Karzai's weak government by the end of 2014.
Negotiations: The U.S. has been in talks with the Taliban for ten months to release Afghan detainees at Guantanamo Bay
Success would mean a political end to the war and the possibility that parts of the Taliban - some hardliners seem likely to reject the talks - could be reconciled.
The effort is now at a pivot point.
As part of the accelerating, high-stakes diplomacy, Reuters has learned, the United States is considering the transfer of an unspecified number of Taliban prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay military prison into Afghan government custody.
It has asked representatives of the Taliban to match that confidence-building measure with some of their own. Those could include a denunciation of international terrorism and a public willingness to enter formal political talks with the government headed by Mr Karzai.
More...'I pray he didn't lay down his life for nothing': First and last U.S. soldiers killed at war remembered as last troops withdraw from Iraq
Over and out: Soldiers cheer as America closes the gates on Iraq
The $4 MILLION vacation: Separate flights, luxury accommodation and plenty of golf... the price of Obama’s annual Hawaiian holiday soars
The officials acknowledged that the Afghanistan diplomacy, which has reached a delicate stage in recent weeks, remains a long shot. Among the complications: U.S. troops are drawing down and will be mostly gone by the end of 2014, potentially reducing the incentive for the Taliban to negotiate.
Still, the senior officials, all of whom insisted on anonymity to share new details of the mostly secret effort, suggested it has been a much larger piece of President Barack Obama's Afghanistan policy than is publicly known.
U.S. officials have held about half a dozen meetings with their insurgent contacts, mostly in Germany and Doha with representatives of Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban's Quetta Shura, the officials said.
In talks: According to senior U.S. officials, has been one talk with a member from the Haqqani group, who was responsible for a deadly attack in Kabul this fall
'We imagine that we're on the edge of passing into the next phase. Which is actually deciding that we've got a viable channel and being in a position to deliver' on mutual confidence-building measures, said a senior U.S. official.
While some U.S.-Taliban contacts have been previously reported, the extent of the underlying diplomacy and the possible prisoner transfer have not been made public until now.
There are slightly fewer than 20 Afghan citizens at Guantanamo, according to various accountings. It is not known which ones might be transferred, nor what assurances the White House has that the Karzai government would keep them in its custody.
SENIOR TALIBAN COMMANDER DENIES SECRET TALKS WITH U.S.
A senior Afghan Taliban commander on Monday denied that the group held secret talks with U.S. officials which had reached a turning point.
'How can talks be at a critical point when they have not even started,' the commander told Reuters by telephone.
The Taliban have publicly maintained they will not enter into any negotiations while foreign troops are in Afghanistan, so even if they are participating, they might be reluctant to admit that.
Commanders might also worry about morale among fighters on the ground, if their believed their leaders were in talks.
'Our position on talks remains the same. All occupying forces have to leave Afghanistan.
'Then we can talk,' said the commander from an undisclosed location.
Guantanamo detainees have been released to foreign governments - and sometimes set free by them - before. But the transfer as part of a diplomatic negotiation appears unprecedented.
The reconciliation effort, which has already faced setbacks including a supposed Taliban envoy who turned out to be an imposter, faces hurdles on multiple fronts, the U.S. officials acknowledged.
They include splits within the Taliban; suspicion from Mr Karzai and his advisers; and Pakistan's insistence on playing a major, even dominating, role in Afghanistan's future.
Mr Obama will likely face criticism, including from Republican presidential candidates, for dealing with an insurgent group that has killed U.S. soldiers and advocates a strict Islamic form of government.
But U.S. officials say that the Afghan war, like others before it, will ultimately end in a negotiated settlement.
'The challenges are enormous,' a second senior U.S. official acknowledged. 'But if you're where we are ... you can't not try. You have to find out what's out there.'
Mr Obama is expected to soon sign into law the 2011 defence authorization bill, including changes that would broaden the military's power over terror detainees and require the Pentagon to certify in most cases that certain security conditions will be met before Guantanamo prisoners can be sent home.
Ten years after the repressive Taliban government was toppled, a hoped-for political resolution has become central to U.S. strategy to end a war that has killed nearly 3,000 foreign troops and cost the Pentagon alone $330billion.
While Mr Obama's decision to deploy an extra 30,000 troops in 2009-10 helped push the Taliban out of much of its southern heartland, the war is far from over. Militants remain able to slip in and out of lawless areas of Pakistan, where the Taliban's senior leadership is located.
Bold attacks from the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network have undermined the narrative of improving security and raised questions about how well an inexperienced Afghan military will be able to cope when foreign troops go home.
In that uncertain context, officials say that initial contacts with insurgent representatives since U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly embraced a diplomatic strategy in a February 18, 2011, speech have centred on establishing whether the Taliban was open to reconciliation, despite its pledge to continue its 'sacred jihad' against Nato and U.S. soldiers.
Denied: A senior Taliban commander denied such talks, possibly because of a resolve not to go into talks while foreign troops are in the country
'The question has been to the Taliban, 'You have got a choice to make. Life's moving on,' the second U.S. official said.
'There's a substantial military campaign out there that will continue to do you substantial damage ... Are you prepared to go forward with some kind of reconciliation process?'
U.S. officials have met with Tayeb Agha, who was a secretary to Mullah Omar, and they have held one meeting arranged by Pakistan with Ibrahim Haqqani, a brother of the Haqqani network's founder.
They have not shut the door to further meetings with the Haqqani group, which is blamed for a brazen attack this fall on the U.S. embassy in Kabul and which U.S. officials link closely to Pakistan's intelligence agency.
U.S. officials say they have kept Mr Karzai informed of the process and have met with him before and after each encounter, but they declined to confirm whether representatives of his government are present at those meetings.
Officials now see themselves on the verge of reaching a second phase in the peace process that, if successful, would clinch the confidence-building measures and allow them to move to a third stage in which the Afghan government and the Taliban would sit down in talks facilitated by the United States.
'We imagine that we're on the edge of passing into the next phase. Which is actually deciding that we've got a viable channel and being in a position to deliver' on mutual confidence-building measures.
-Senior U.S. official
'That's why it's especially delicate -- because if we don't deliver the second phase, we don't get to the pay-dirt,' the first senior U.S. official said.
Senior administration officials say that confidence-building measures must be implemented, not merely agreed to, before full-fledged political talks can begin. The sequence of such measures has not been determined, and they will ultimately be announced by Afghans, they say.
Underlying the efforts of U.S. negotiators are fundamental questions about whether - and why - the Taliban would want to strike a deal with the Western-backed Karzai government.
U.S. officials stress that the 'end conditions' they want the Taliban to embrace - renouncing violence, breaking with al Qaeda, and respecting the Afghan constitution - are not preconditions to starting talks.
Encouraging trends on the Afghan battlefield - declining militant attacks and a thinning of the Taliban's mid-level leadership - is one reason why U.S. officials believe the Taliban may be more likely now to engage in substantive talks.
They also cite what they see as an overlooked, subtle shift in the Taliban's position, based in part on statements this year from Mullah Omar that, despite fiery rhetoric, indicate some openness to talks. They also condemn civilian deaths and advocate development of Afghanistan's economy.
End of mission: U.S. troops are slated to leave Afghanistan in 2014
In July, the Taliban reiterated its long-standing position of rejecting talks as long as foreign troops remain. In October, a senior Haqqani commander said the United States was insincere about peace.
But U.S. officials say the Taliban no longer wants to be the global pariah it was in the 1990s. Some elements have suggested flexibility on issues of priority for the West, such as protecting rights for women and girls.
'That's one of the reasons why we think this is serious,' a third senior U.S. official said.
Yet as it moves ahead the peace initiative is fraught with challenge.
At least one purported insurgent representative has turned out to be a fraud, highlighting the difficulty of vetting potential brokers in the shadowy world of the militants.
And it as dealt a major blow in September when former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who headed Mr Karzai's peace efforts, was assassinated in an attack Afghanistan said originated in neighbouring Pakistan.
Since then, Mr Karzai has been more ambivalent, ruling out an early resumption in talks. He said Afghanistan would talk only to Pakistan 'until we have an address for the Taliban.'
Words of caution: Afghan president Hamil Karzai warned U.S. officials to be sure of the Taliban's authenticity for seeking peace
The dust-up over the unofficial Taliban office in Qatar, with a spokesman for Karzai stressing that Afghanistan must lead peace negotiations to end the war, suggests tensions in the U.S. and Afghan approaches to the peace process.
Speaking in an interview with CNN aired on Sunday, Mr Karzai counselled caution in making sure that Taliban interlocutors are authentic -- and authentically seeking peace.
The Rabbani killing, he said, 'brought us in a shock to the recognition that we were actually talking to nobody.'
Critics of Mr Obama's peace initiative are deeply sceptical of the Taliban's willingness to negotiate given that the West's intent to pull out most troops after 2014 would give insurgents a chance to reclaim lost territory or nudge the weak Kabul government toward collapse.
While the United States is expected to keep a modest military presence in Afghanistan beyond then, all of Obama's 'surge' troops will be home by next fall and the administration - looking to refocus on domestic priorities -- is already exploring further reductions.
Another reason to be circumspect is the potential spoiler role of Pakistan, which has so far resisted U.S. pressure to crack down on militants fuelling violence in Afghanistan.
Such considerations make for a divisive initiative within the Obama administration. Few officials describe themselves as optimists about the peace initiative.
Only a handful left: There are less than 20 Afghans being detained at Guantanamo Bay. It is unclear how many would be released back to the Afghan government
At the State Department, formally leading the talks, senior officials see the odds of brokering a successful agreement at only around 30 per cent.
'There's a very real likelihood that these guys aren't serious ... which is why are continuing to prosecute all of the lines of effort here,' the third senior U.S. official said.
While Nato commanders promise they will keep up pressure on militants as the troop force shrinks, they are facing a tenacious insurgency in eastern Afghanistan that may prove even more challenging than the south.
Still, with Obama committed to withdrawing from Afghanistan, as the United States did last week from Iraq, the administration has few alternatives but to pursue what may well prove to be a quixotic quest for a deal.
'Wars end, and the end of wars have political consequences,' the second official said. 'You can either try to shape those, or someone does it to you.'
THE NEXT STEPS OF NEGOTIATION
If the effort advances, one of the next steps would be more public, unequivocal U.S. support for establishing a Taliban office outside of Afghanistan.
U.S. officials said they have told the Taliban they must not use that office for fundraising, propaganda or constructing a shadow government, but only to facilitate future negotiations that could eventually set the stage for the Taliban to re-enter Afghan governance.
On Sunday, a senior member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council said the Taliban had indicated it was willing to open an office in an Islamic country.
But underscoring the fragile nature of the multi-sided diplomacy, Afghan president Hamid Karzai last week announced he was recalling Afghanistan's ambassador to Qatar, after reports that nation was readying the opening of the Taliban office. Afghan officials complained they were left out of the loop.
On a possible transfer of Taliban prisoners long held at Guantanamo, U.S. officials stressed the move would be a 'national decision' made in consultation with the U.S. Congress.
Future of Civil-Military Balance of Power in Pak.
Reply #1197 on:
December 24, 2011, 12:10:48 AM »
Pakistan and the Future of the Civil-Military Balance of Power
• Foundations: Pakistan’s Muslim Identity Crisis
• Foundations: A Pre-Partition Pakistan
• Foundations: Pakistan’s Economy and Resources
• Foundations: Pakistan and Religious Conflict
• Foundations: Pakistan, Kashmir and South Asia
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Thursday issued some unprecedented remarks against the country’s military and premier intelligence service. During a speech before parliament, Gilani said that the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate cannot be a “state within a state” and must “be answerable to this parliament.” Responding to reports that the defense ministry had told the Supreme Court that it had no control over the armed forces or the ISI, the prime minister told lawmakers that “if [the military and ISI] say that they are not under the ministry of defense, then we should get out of this slavery, then this parliament has no importance, this system has no importance, then you are not sovereign.”
“The larger question concerns the future of the civil-military balance of power in Pakistan and by extension the nature of the republic itself.”
Gilani’s statements are perhaps the toughest remarks made against the country’s powerful security establishment that has directly ruled the country for 33 of its 64 years. That the current civilian government, which came to power in March 2008, has decided to take such a tough stance against the generals illustrates just how influential civilians have become within the Pakistani political system. More important is the timing chosen by the governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to take such a strong position: It is currently the subject of a Supreme Court inquiry into a memo seeking U.S. assistance in reining in the country’s military allegedly written by Islamabad’s former envoy to Washington with approval from Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
The PPP’s confidence comes from the current situation where the army is no longer in a position to threaten the government with a coup. The PPP government also realizes that it would be difficult for the army-intelligence complex to support its ouster via constitutional means. Most opposition forces, particularly the largest one led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, are not willing to empower the army despite its rivalry with the governing PPP.
The larger question concerns the future of the civil-military balance of power in the country and by extension the nature of the republic itself. Political developments since the fall of former President Pervez Musharraf’s regime have led to a situation where civilians are increasingly becoming stakeholders in a system where the army has historically enjoyed a near monopoly.
Over the past four years, Pakistan has indeed witnessed the rise of civilian forces, but this doesn’t mean that the locus of power has definitively shifted away from the armed forces. Civilian supremacy over the military is a generational process to say the least. It assumes uninterrupted and successive electoral cycles, which have never happened in the South Asian nation.
Pakistan’s traditionally powerful security sector is facing a considerable challenge from civilian forces in terms of its influence over policymaking. But civilian governments must demonstrate their competence in managing the country’s political economy before they can really assert themselves vis-à-vis the military. The current government has not been able to do so and the ability of its successors remains questionable as well — which means it will be a while before political forces can really gain the upper hand over the military.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1198 on:
December 24, 2011, 07:58:17 PM »
With ref to Pak, its always about the money
US offers solatia payments to Pak
PTI Dec 23, 2011, 01.21PM IST
WASHINGTON: In keeping with its practice in Afghanistan, the US is willing to
offer solatia payments
to the families of Pakistani soldiers killed in a cross-border NATO strike last month as it tries to resolve the crisis generated in its aftermath, a Pentagon spokesman said today.
The airstrike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and hit the fragile US-Pakistan ties hard, following which Pakistan shut down its NATO supply routes to Afghanistan in protest.
In keeping with our normal practices in Afghanistan
, the United States is willing to offer solatia payments as a sign of our regret for the loss of life," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told PTI.
"This is not necessarily a legal form of compensation, but it is a sign of regret for the loss of life," Little said in response to a question, adding that an offer has to be made and accepted in accordance with the normal practice for payments be made to each of the 24 families.
He said the US had accepted responsibility for the "mistakes" and admitted "shortcomings" after a thorough investigation.
"We have expressed our deepest regret for loss of life and extended our condolences," Little said when asked about the Pakistani demand that US should issue a formal apology.
"We have expressed our regret," he said. Earlier at a news conference, the Pentagon Press Secretary said the findings of the report would soon be shared with the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, both of whom have already been briefed about it.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1199 on:
December 24, 2011, 08:10:57 PM »
Former Pakistan Army Chief Reveals Intelligence Bureau Harbored Bin Laden in Abbottabad
Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 9 Issue: 47December 22, 2011 04:19 PM Age: 2 days
By: Arif Jamal
In spite of denials by the Pakistani military,
evidence is emerging that elements within the Pakistani military harbored Osama bin Laden with the knowledge of former army chief General Pervez Musharraf and possibly current Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.
Former Pakistani Army Chief General Ziauddin Butt (a.k.a. General Ziauddin Khawaja) revealed at a conference on Pakistani-U.S. relations in October 2011 that according to his knowledge the then former Director-General of Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan (2004 – 2008), Brigadier Ijaz Shah (Retd.), had kept Osama bin Laden in an Intelligence Bureau safe house in Abbottabad.
In the same address, he revealed that the ISI had helped the CIA to track him down and kill on May 1.
The revelation remained unreported for some time because some intelligence officers had asked journalists to refrain from publishing General Butt’s remarks.  No mention of the charges appeared until right-wing columnist Altaf Hassan Qureshi referred to them in an Urdu-language article that appeared on December 8. 
In a subsequent and revealing Urdu-language interview with TV channel Dawn News, General Butt repeated the allegation on December 11, saying he fully believed that “[Brigadier] Ijaz Shah had kept this man [Bin Laden in the Abbottabad compound] with the full knowledge of General Pervez Musharraf… Ijaz Shah was an all-powerful official in the government of General Musharraf.”  Asked whether General Kayani knew of this, he first said yes, but later reconsidered: “[Kayani] may have known – I do not know – he might not have known.”  The general’s remarks appeared to confirm investigations by this author in May 2011 that showed that the Abbottabad compound where bin Laden was captured and killed was being used by a Pakistani intelligence agency (see Terrorism Monitor, May 5). However, General Butt failed to explain why Bin Laden was not discovered even after Brigadier Shah and General Musharraf had left the government.
General Butt was the first head of the Strategic Plans Division of the Pakistan army and the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) under Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1990 to 1993, and again from 1997 to 1999. Sharif promoted General Ziauddin Butt to COAS after forcibly retiring General Pervez Musharraf on October 12, 1999, but the army’s top brass revolted against the decision and arrested both Prime Minister Sharif and General Butt while installing Musharraf as the nation’s new chief executive, a post he kept as a chief U.S. ally until resigning in 2008 in the face of an impending impeachment procedure.
Brigadier Shah has been known or is alleged to have been involved in several high profile cases of terrorism. The Brigadier was heading the ISI bureau in Lahore when General Musharraf overthrew Prime Minister Sharif in October 1999. Later, General Musharraf appointed Shah as Home Secretary in Punjab. As an ISI officer he was also the handler for Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was involved in the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.  Omar Saeed Sheikh surrendered to Brigadier Shah who hid him for several weeks before turning him over to authorities. In February 2004, Musharraf appointed Shah as the new Director of the Intelligence Bureau, a post he kept until March 2008 (Daily Times [Lahore] February 26, 2004; Dawn [Karachi] March 18, 2008). The late Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto accused Brigadier Shah, among others, of hatching a conspiracy to assassinate her (The Friday Times [Lahore], February 18-24).
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistani top military brass had serious differences on several issues. One of the most serious of these concerned Pakistan’s relations with Osama bin Laden. However, the disastrous1999 Kargil conflict in Kashmir overshadowed all of these. General Butt says that Prime Minister Sharif had decided to cooperate with the United States and track down Bin Laden in 1999.  According to a senior adviser to the Prime Minister, the general staff ousted Sharif to scuttle the “get-Osama” plan, among other reasons: “The evidence is that the military regime abandoned that plan.”  General Butt corroborates this. In his latest interview, he says that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had constituted a special task force of 90 American-trained commandos to track down Bin Laden in Afghanistan. If the Sharif government had continued on this course, this force would likely have caught Bin Laden by December 2001, but the plan was aborted by Ziauddin Butt’s successor as ISI general director, Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed. 
Arif Jamal is an independent security and terrorism expert and author of “Shadow War – The Untold Story of Jihad in Kashmir.”
1. Author’s telephone interview with an Islamabad journalist who requested anonymity, November 16, 2011.
2. Altaf Hassan Qureshi, “Resetting Pak-U.S. relations” (in Urdu), Jang [Rawalpindi], December 8, 2011. Available at
3. See “Government – Army - America on Dawn News – 11the Dec 2011 part 2,”
5. Author’s interview with a security officer who requested anonymity, Islamabad, May 2000.
6. “Government – Army - America on Dawn News –December 11, 2011, part 1,”
7. Author’s interview with a former government minister who requested anonymity, Rawalpindi, February 2006.
8. “Government – Army - America on Dawn News –December 11, 2011, part 1,”
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