Archive for June, 2010

Hamid Karzai; How Sincere Are You Towards Pakistan?

Hamid Karzai; How Sincere Are You Towards Pakistan?

Written by (Author ) World Jun 28, 2010

Should Pakistan Trust Karzai?

Hamid Karzai is walking on a tight rope. Ever grateful to Washington for getting the prized post of president of Afghanistan, he has been pursuing American dictates faithfully. He agreed to give all the major portfolios to non-Pashtun Northern Alliance members in his government and to sideline his own Pashtun community enjoying distinct majority. He allowed Indian influence to expand in his country on American insistence and let Afghan soil to be used for subversive activities against Pakistan. Mossad was also allowed a firm toehold in Afghanistan. On the prompting of his mentors he has all along maintained a hostile stance towards Pakistan. By following pro-American policies he became highly unpopular in his country.

To make himself useful, he fed an idea to Washington that given the resources and backing, he would be able to win over majority of Taliban leaders through bribes and incentives and would affect an in-house coup within Taliban ranks after isolating Mullah Omar led hardliners. Once he was given a green signal in 2007, he began to establish contacts with former and current members of Taliban Shura and other resistance groups. By 2009 he was able to make good gains among former Taliban ministers, Hizb-e-Islami and others. Among present Shura, Mullah Ghani Baradar was his big catch. He had made secret contacts with him through his half brother Ahmad Wali Karzai but didn’t disclose this breakthrough to USA. His efforts got stalled because of unexpected successes achieved by Taliban against coalition forces in southern and eastern Afghanistan from June to September 2009 putting ISAF on the back foot.

The US leaders began to have second thoughts about Karzai when situation in Afghanistan began to slip out of their hands. He failed to muster requisite votes in August 2009 presidential election. Although he was helped to get re-elected in November through rigging then the same people made his credibility highly doubtful by feeding the information of the elctions being rigged. He however felt convinced that it was America’s doing to weaken his political standing. He was warned by Obama to improve governance, get rid of corruption in various departments and to improve his standing among Pashtuns in particular and Afghans in general so as to become a bridge between Americans and Pashtuns. These unfriendly acts gave second thoughts to Karzai about US sincerity as well.

Once Obama announced withdrawal timeline of July 2011 and stuck to it despite strong opposition from Karzai, India and Israel, he realized that the US would again leave Afghanistan in a lurch and his fate will not be different to Babrak Karmal or Dr Najibullah. He also assessed that US-NATO had lost the will and was not in a position to defeat Taliban movement.  It was in the backdrop of these lurking fears that he hurtled some anti-US and pro-Taliban statements to win the confidence of latter. He also tried hard to allay the heart burnings of Pakistan by making series of friendly statements. While throwing feelers of goodwill towards Taliban and Pakistan, he is still not ready to lose the goodwill of USA and India since the situation at the moment is highly fluid. While he has smelt that USA has lost the war, coming six months are crucial. In this period, it will be decided which side the balance tilts.

Arrest of Baradar, deputy of Mullah Omar, by Pak security forces in January at the pointing of CIA was a setback for him since Baradar’s participation in loya jirga scheduled at Kabul in April would have made a huge difference. When he failed to get him released, he went ahead with the jirga on 2 June which was attended by 1600 people from almost all strands of Afghan society. His plan of re-integration of Taliban through negotiations was endorsed by all. His plan is however not entirely in line with US plan which hinges on first defeating the Taliban on battlefield and then negotiating with them from a position of strength. Americans are sticking to this plan since they want to leave behind a regime of their choice which could safeguard their future interests and also agree to a sizeable military presence in Baghram and Kandahar air bases.

Rocket attacks on the jirga were certainly the handiwork of anti-Karzai and anti-Taliban forces. The chief suspect is Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh who was very peeved over Karzai’s change of stance towards Pakistan. He is completely influenced by RAW and Mossad and is a vehement enemy of Pakistan, particularly ISI. He has contributed a lot towards coloring perceptions of US officials based in Afghanistan against Pakistan and in assisting RAW in recruiting agents and launching them into Balochistan and FATA. Interior Minister Hanif Atmar is another anti-Pakistan Afghan official. Both are US men and have been taking commands from Washington and New Delhi. Their sacking by Karzai is a big loss for USA and India especially because of highly turbulent security situation and the US having no clear cut strategy for exit.

In the wake of Marjah operation and much hyped operation Kandahar planned in September, the Taliban instead of going on the defensive have become more assertive. Rate of attacks have accelerated and so is the casualty rate of occupation forces. June is proving to be the most deadly month since 2001. In case Kandahar operation turns into another fiasco, it will have grave ramifications for USA. It will lose whatever leverage it still has on certain groups and spaces it controls. The situation has become dicey because of ouster of Gen McChrystal who had conceived the offensive plan and was making hectic preparations. Morale of occupation troops is already very low. Many feel that their civil leaders and war merchants have turned them into sacrificial lambs to upkeep their mercantile interests. Disgraceful dismissal of their commander may be resented by them and further erode their resolve to fight a losing battle.

In 1989, the US abandoned Afghanistan in haste since it was a victor and had fulfilled all its objectives. The situation now is altogether different. It has not achieved even a single objective and is bound to lose the war. Under such adverse circumstances, it may not be possible for coalition troops to pullout easily and safely. It will be highly costly withdrawal. Afghans revenge against defeated foe is horrifying since they believe in total massacre and that too in most brutal ways.

In case Karzai is not playing a double game and is sincere in his overtures towards Pakistan, it is to the advantage of Pakistan in post American exit era. The only worrying thing for Pakistan is whether Karzai at his own will be able to steer the ship or will seek Indian assistance? Another upsetting matter is that the US is a very bad loser. When it finds that there is no way out left to save its ship in Afghanistan from sinking, it may opt for another misadventure either against Pakistan or Iran, or else handover security of Afghanistan to India.

Brig A. H. Raja, The writer is a retired Brig, security and defence analyst and author of several books.

Categories: Afghanistan, Article Tags: , , ,

Pakistan Rules Out Banning Hafiz Saeed

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has ruled out barring Jamaat-ud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed from giving public speeches targeting India.

“In a democracy, there is freedom of expression in Pakistan as in India. There are all sorts of people making all kinds of speeches. There are people with extremist views in both India and Pakistan…. and there is nothing you can do about it. There are views being expressed in Pakistan that I can do nothing about,” foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters on Saturday night.

He, however, said the “positive” thing is that the views of extremist elements do not reflect that of the majority opinion either in India or in Pakistan.

“The overwhelming majority of people do not agree with hate speeches. They want normalisation, they want peace, they want growth, they want development”, he said.

Asked if the tone laid down in Bhutan after the meeting between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani on the margin of SAARC summit yielded fruits, Qureshi said: “I think there is progress”.

He said the fact that Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao visited Pakistan and met her Pakistani counterpart, that Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram came to Pakistan and had “candid discussion” with his Pakistani counterpart “I consider this progress”.

In this context, Qureshi also cited his meeting with Chidambaram discussing issues of concern.

Pakistan exploits troubled US effort in Afghanistan

* Afghan officials say Pakistanis are pushing various other proxies, with Kayani personally offering to broker a deal with Taliban
* Pak official says Taliban, including Haqqani group, ready to ‘make a deal’ over al Qaeda
* Analyst says Haqqanis’ willingness aimed at thwarting military action in NWA

Daily Times Monitor

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is exploiting the troubled United States military effort in Afghanistan to drive home a political settlement with Afghanistan that will give Islamabad important influence there but is likely to undermine US interests, Pakistani and American officials said, according to the New York Times.

The dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal will almost certainly embolden the Pakistanis in their plan as they detect increasing American uncertainty, Pakistani officials said. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani preferred McChrystal to his successor, General David H Petraeus, whom he considers more of a politician than a military strategist, say people who have spoken recently with Kayani.

Pakistan is presenting itself as the new viable partner for Afghanistan to President Hamid Karzai, who has soured on the Americans.

Proxies: In addition, Afghan officials said the Pakistanis were pushing various other proxies, with Kayani personally offering to broker a deal with the Taliban leadership, New York Times reported.

Washington has watched with some nervousness as Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha shuttle between Islamabad and Kabul, telling Karzai that they agree with his assessment that the US cannot win in Afghanistan, and that a post-war Afghanistan should incorporate the Haqqani network, a long-time Pakistani asset. Despite McChrystal’s 11 visits to Kayani in Islamabad in the past year, the Pakistanis have not been altogether forthcoming on details of the conversations in the last two months, making Islamabad’s moves even more worrisome for the US, said an American official.

“They know this creates a bigger breach between us and Karzai,” the official said.

Although encouraged by Washington, the thaw heightens the risk that the US would find itself cut out of what amounts to a separate peace between the Afghans and Pakistanis, and one that does not necessarily guarantee Washington’s prime objective in the war, denying al Qaeda a haven, New York Times reported.

The network of Sirajuddin Haqqani – an ally of al Qaeda who runs a major part of the insurgency in Afghanistan – has long been Pakistan’s crucial anti-India asset and has remained virtually untouched by Pakistani forces in their redoubt inside Pakistan, in the Tribal Areas on the Afghan border, even as the Americans have pressed Islamabad for an offensive against it.

At a briefing this week at the ISI headquarters, Pakistani analysts laid out a view of the war that dovetailed neatly with the doubts expressed by Karzai. They depicted a stark picture of an American military campaign in Afghanistan “that will not succeed.”

The offer by Pakistan to make the Haqqanis part of the solution in Afghanistan has now been adopted as basic Pakistani policy, said Riffat Hussain, a professor of international relations at Islamabad University, and a confidant of top military generals. “The establishment thinks that without getting Haqqani on board, efforts to stabilise the situation in Afghanistan will be doomed,” Hussain said. “Haqqani has a large fighting force, and by co-opting him into a power-sharing arrangement a lot of bloodshed can be avoided,” he added, according to the New York Times.

The recent trips by Kayani and Pasha to Kabul were an “effort to make this happen,” he said.

As for the Haqqanis, whose fighters stretch across eastern Afghanistan all the way to Kabul, they are prepared to break with al Qaeda, Pakistani intelligence and military officials said.

Deal: The Taliban, including the Haqqani group, are ready to “make a deal” over al Qaeda, a senior Pakistani official close to the Pakistan Army said. The Haqqanis could tell al Qaeda to move elsewhere because it had been given nine years of protection since the 9/11 attack, the official said. But this official acknowledged that the Haqqanis and al Qaeda were too “thick” with each other for a separation to happen. They had provided each other with fighters, money and other resources over a long period of time, the official said.

The Haqqanis may be playing their own game with their hosts, the Pakistanis, Hussain said.

“Many believe that Haqqanis’ willingness to cut its links with al Qaeda is a tactical move which is aimed at thwarting the impending military action by the Pakistan Army in North Waziristan,” he said, according to the New York Times.

Pakistan jails 5 Americans over terror plots

SARGODHA, Pakistan – A Pakistan court convicted five American men on terror charges Thursday and sentenced each to 10 years in prison.

The five young Muslim students from the Washington, D.C. area, were detained in December in Pakistan’s central city of Sargodha, 120 miles southeast of Islamabad, after their families reported them missing.

The case is one of several involving alleged “homegrown” American militants linked to Pakistan, but the only one being tried in a Pakistani court.

Prosecutors said they presented evidence such as e-mail records and witness statements proving that the men were plotting terror attacks in Pakistan and conspired to wage war against nations allied with it, a reference to Afghanistan, where the men were alleged to have been traveling.

Waqar Hussain Khan, Ahmed Minni, Ramy Zamzam, Aman Yemer and Umar Farooq were each charged with five counts of conspiracy, raising funds for terrorist acts, planning war against Pakistan, directing others to launch attacks and attempting to cross the Afghan border illegally.

The judge handed down two prison terms for each man, one for 10 years and the other for five, which are to be served concurrently, a copy of the decision seen by The Associated Press said. They were also fined a total of 70,000 rupees ($820).

The trial was closed to journalists and observers and was heard by a single judge in a special anti-terrorism court. Police deployed extra patrols and barriers around the court in the Punjab province town of Sargodha before the verdict.

Farewell video
The men have been identified as Ramy Zamzam of Egyptian descent, Waqar Khan and Umar Farooq of Pakistani descent, and Aman Hassan Yemer and Ahmed Minni of Ethiopian descent. One allegedly left behind a farewell video in the United States showing scenes of war and casualties and saying Muslims must be defended.

Deputy Prosecutor Rana Bakhtiar said the men have the right to appeal the convictions, and that he also plans to seek longer prison sentences for them. The men’s defense attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.

U.S. officials have said little about the trial. Washington is trying to counter anti-American sentiment in Pakistan’s government, security forces and media, but is also pressing Islamabad to crack down hard on militancy.

The five men told the court earlier that they only wanted to provide fellow Muslim brothers in Afghanistan with medicine and financial help, and accused the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Pakistani police of torturing them and trying to frame them.

Hassan Katchela, a defense lawyer for the group, said the sentences would be appealed.

“We are a bit surprised because we believed it was not a case for conviction,” he said. “We are confident and we are going to file appeals against these conviction in the high court.”

After the sentencing, one of the men’s father expressed his dismay.

“It’s the greatest disappointment,” said Khalid Farooq, father of Umar Farooq. “The judge didn’t even bother to go through evidence against them. It was so weak.”

Categories: Article

US Afghan commander Stanley McChrystal fired by Obama

The top US military commander in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal, has been dismissed by President Barack Obama after he criticised leading administration officials.

He had earlier agreed with Mr Obama that his statements in Rolling Stone magazine showed “poor judgement”.

News that Gen McChrystal was standing down came after he met Mr Obama at the White House.

He will be succeeded by General David Petraeus, US officials say.

Mr Obama said he had made the decision as Gen McChrystal had failed to “meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general”.

He insisted: “I don’t make this decision based on any difference in policy with General McChrystal, nor on any personal insult.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai had indicated he did not want Gen McChrystal replaced, with a spokesman describing him as the best commander in nine years of US military operations in Afghanistan.

Gen McChrystal quickly apologised for the magazine article, The Runaway General, written by Michael Hastings and due out on Friday, extending his “sincerest apology” and saying it showed a lack of integrity.

“It was a mistake reflecting poor judgement and should never have happened,” he said.

Gen McChrystal was due to face those he and his aides had criticised at the administration’s monthly meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan on Wednesday, but apparently left the White House after a 30-minute meeting with Mr Obama. Their targets were:

Joe Biden. Gen McChrystal had mocked the vice-president when asked a question about him. “Are you asking about Vice-President Biden? Who’s that?”
Karl Eikenberry. Gen McChrystal said he felt “betrayed” by the US ambassador to Kabul during the long 2009 White House debate on troop requests for Afghanistan
James Jones. One of Gen McChrystal’s aides says the national security adviser is a “clown… stuck in 1985″
Richard Holbrooke. Gen McChrystal says of an e-mail from the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan: “Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke… I don’t even want to open it”


Categories: Article

Pakistan to go ahead with Iran gas deal

Pakistan has brushed aside the unilateral US sanctions against Iran, saying it will go ahead with the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project as planned.

“We could start the project as soon as possible to meet the energy crisis which the country faces,” a Press TV correspondent reported Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit as saying on Wednesday.

Basit added that measures were underway by the Pakistani government to start implementing the multi-billion-dollar contract on the import of natural gas from Iran in 2014.

The comments come days after Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced the sealing of a deal between Islamabad and Tehran in view of Pakistan’s growing energy needs.

“This agreement is in the interest of Pakistan and it will only see its interests and the international laws…… the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline agreement will not come under the ambit of the sanctions on Tehran,” Qureshi said on Monday.

Earlier in the week, the US special envoy to Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, warned Pakistan not to “over-commit” itself to the deal as it comes in violation of new US-adopted sanctions against the Islamic Republic which target the Iranian energy sector.

Iran, however, has completed the construction of more than a third of the 2,600-kilometer gas pipeline, which is estimated to cost $7 billion.

Under the deal, Iran will supply its southeastern neighbor with 760 million cubic feet (21.5 million cubic meters) of gas per day, which amounts to 20 percent of the recipient’s demands.

Iran urges Islamic states’ aid to Gaza

With new international efforts underway to deliver aid supplies to Gaza, Iran has called on Islamic countries to provide financial support for the besieged territory.

Addressing the 35th annual meeting of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Board of Governors in Azerbaijan, Iranian Minister of Economy Shamseddin Hosseini condemned the silence of human rights advocates about the crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people, saying their approach is “shameful.”

“The oppressed people of Gaza are in need of the all-out support of Islamic countries and free-spirited nations of the world to break the blockade of the strip,” Hosseini was quoted by IRIB as saying on Wednesday.

The comments come a day after Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Tel Aviv would block Iranian and Lebanese aid shipments to the Gaza Strip, referring to them as “flow of arms.”

“We have the right to inspect and prevent the flow of arms into Gaza. We can’t let Gaza become an Iranian port,” Ashkenazi said on Tuesday.

His statement followed earlier remarks by Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, announcing plans to send two Iranian aid ships carrying humanitarian relief and medical supplies to the Gaza Strip.

The pro-Palestinian campaign comes after Israeli commandos stormed the Gaza Freedom Flotilla aid convoy on May 31, killing at least 9 civilian activists and injuring dozens of others in international waters.