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NATO Expands Afghan War Into Pakistan

September 30, 2010 1 comment

On October 7 the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization military allies will begin the tenth year of their war in Afghanistan, over 3,000 miles from NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

The following month midterm elections will be held in the U.S. and NATO will hold a two-day summit in Portugal. The American administration is eager to achieve, or appear to have achieved, a foreign policy triumph in an effort to retain Democratic Party control of the Congress and NATO something to show for the longest and largest military mission in its 61 years of existence.

President Barack Obama has tripled the amount of American combat troops in Afghanistan to 100,000 and along with forces from other NATO member states and partner nations there are now over 150,000 foreign troops in the nation, the most ever stationed in the war-wracked country. 120,000 of those soldiers are now under the command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the most ever serving in a North Atlantic Alliance-led military operation. NATO Kosovo Force at its peak had 50,000 troops, but they entered the Serbian province after an almost three-month air war had ended.

The 120,000 NATO forces currently in theater – from 50 nations already with more pegged to provide troops – are at the center of the world’s longest-lasting and increasingly deadly hot war. NATO’s first ground war, its first combat operations in Asia.

Last year was the most lethal for the U.S and NATO in what is now a nine-year conflict and this year has already proven even more costly in terms of combat deaths. And there are three more months to go.

Washington and Brussels could decide to save face and end the fighting through some combination of an internal political settlement and a true international peacekeeping arrangement – rather than the subversion of the International Security Assistance Force that was established by a United Nations mandate in December of 2001 but which is now the Pentagon’s and NATO’s vehicle for waging war in Afghanistan. And in neighboring Pakistan.

But the military metaphysic prevalent in Washington over the past 65 years will allow for nothing other than what is seen as victory, with a “Who lost Afghanistan?” legacy tarnishing the president who fails to secure it and the party to which he belongs being branded half-hearted and defeatist.

As for NATO, the Strategic Concept to be adopted in November is predicated upon the bloc’s expansion into a 21st century global expeditionary force for which Afghanistan is the test case. A NATO that loses Afghanistan, that loses in Afghanistan, will be viewed more critically by the populations of its European member states that have sacrificed their sons and daughters at the altar of NATO’s international ambitions. In the words of then-Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer six years ago: “What is NATO doing in Afghanistan? Defending values at the Hindu Kush in the present day international climate. We have to fight terrorism wherever it emerges. If we don’t do it at the Hindu Kush, it will end up at our doorstep. In other words, this perception gap [of the North Atlantic military alliance operating in South Asia] in the long run must be closed and must be healed – that is, for NATO’s future, of the utmost importance.” [1]

Not satisfied with the Vietnam that Afghanistan has become, NATO has now launched its Cambodian incursion. One with implications several orders of magnitude greater than with the prototype, though, into a nation of almost 170 million people, a nation wielding nuclear weapons. Pakistan.

As the U.S. delivered its 20th deadly drone missile attack of the month inside Pakistan on the 27th, five times the amount launched in August and the most in any month since they were started in 2004, NATO conducted a series of attacks with helicopter gunships in Northwest Pakistan. Claiming the “right of self-defense” and in “hot pursuit” of insurgents that had reportedly attacked a NATO camp, Combat Outpost Narizah, in Afghanistan’s Khost province near the Pakistani border, this past weekend NATO attack helicopters conducted two forays into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas where U.S. drone strikes have killed a record number of people this month.

Estimates of those killed, dutifully referred to in the Western press as insurgents, militants or terrorists, were 30, then 50, afterward 60, 70 and later “82 or higher.” [2]

The amount, like the identify, of the dead will never be definitively known.

Press reports stated the targets were members of the Haqqani network, founded by veteran Afghan Mujahedin leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, who when he led attacks from Pakistani soil against Afghan targets slightly over a generation ago was an American hero, one of Ronald Reagan’s “freedom fighters.” Two years ago the New York Times wrote: “In the 1980s, Jalaluddin Haqqani was cultivated as a ‘unilateral’ asset of the CIA and received tens of thousands of dollars in cash for his work in fighting the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, according to an account in ‘The Bin Ladens,’ a recent book by Steve Coll. At that time, Haqqani helped and protected Osama bin Laden, who was building his own militia to fight the Soviet forces, Coll wrote.” [3]

As to the regret that the otherwise praiseworthy Haqqani has of late allied himself with the Taliban, one voiced by among other people the late Charlie Wilson who once celebrated Haqqani as “goodness personified,” in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press last year Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari told his American audience that the Taliban “was part of your past and our past, and the ISI and the CIA created them together. And I can find you 10 books and 10 philosophers and 10 write-ups on that….” [4]

On September 27 two NATO helicopters attacked the Kurram agency in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, killing six people and wounding eight. A local Pakistani government official described all the victims as civilians. According to Dawn News, “Nato has also shelled the area before.” [5] Three attacks in three days and as many as 100 deaths.

On the same day a U.S. drone-launched missile strike killed four people in the North Waziristan agency. “The identities of the four people killed in the attack were not known….” [6]

The above events occurred against the backdrop of the revelation in Bob Woodward’s new book Obama’s Wars that “a 3,000-strong secret army of Afghan paramilitary forces run by the Central Intelligence Agency had conducted cross-border raids into Pakistan.” [7]

After mounting in intensity for two years and consisting in part – helicopter gunship attacks and special forces assassination team raids – of covert operations, the U.S. and NATO war in Northwest Pakistan is now fully underway and can no longer be denied.

The Pentagon – the helicopters used in the attacks on September 25 and 26 were American Apaches and Kiowas – defended the strikes over the weekend as falling within its rules of engagement and Defense Department spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said the U.S. had adhered to “appropriate protocol” and “Our forces have the right of self-defense.” [8]

A spokesmen for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force initially denied that Alliance forces had launched any attacks inside Pakistani territory, although Afghan police officials had confirmed that they did. On September 27, however, the International Security Assistance Force verified that NATO forces had conducted the deadly strikes. As the third attack by NATO helicopters occurred on the same day, “Coalition officials said the cross-border attacks fell within its rules of engagement because the insurgents had attacked them from across the border.” [9]

A NATO official informed the press that “ISAF forces must and will retain the authority, within their mandate, to defend themselves in carrying out their mission.” [10]

Mehmood Shah, former top security official of the Pakistani government in the region where the helicopter gunship and drone strikes have killed over 200 people so far this month, said of the recent NATO attacks: “This should be considered a watershed event. They [Nato] must be warned: the next time you do this, it can lead to war. Our units should be deployed to fire upon them. This border has sanctity. Nato must realise they have a mandate to operate in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan.” [11]

On September 27 Interior Minister Rehman Malik denounced the NATO raids as a violation of Pakistani territorial integrity and national sovereignty and told the nation’s Senate that the Afghan ambassador to Islamabad would be summoned to explain the attacks. Malik and the Pakistani government as a whole know that the Hamid Karzai administration in Kabul has no control over what the U.S. and NATO do in its own country, much less in Pakistan. The interior minister’s comment were solely for internal consumption, for placating Pakistani popular outrage, but as Pakistan itself has become a NATO partner and U.S. surrogate [12] its officials, like those of Afghanistan, will not be notified of any future attacks.

Nevertheless domestic exigencies compelled Malik to denounce the strikes inside his country and assert “I take the drone attacks in Pakistani territory as an attack on the sovereignty of Pakistan.” A senator from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz “asked the government to inform the parliament about any accord it had reached with the US under which drone attacks were being carried out.” [13]

At the same time Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit went further and lodged what was described as a strong protest to NATO Headquarters in Brussels over the weekend’s air strikes, issuing a statement that said in part: “These incidents are a clear violation and breach of the UN mandate under which ISAF operates,” as its mandate “terminates/finishes” at the Afghan border.

“There are no agreed ‘hot pursuit’ rules. Any impression to the contrary is not factually correct. Such violations are unacceptable.” [14]

By the evening of September 27, after the Pakistani complaints were registered, NATO’s ISAF attempted to conduct damage control and reverted to the military bloc’s original position: That it has not launched attacks inside Pakistan at all. On that very day it had dispatched two more helicopter gunships for the third raid in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

NATO will continue to launch lethal attacks inside Pakistan against whichever targets it sees fit and will proffer neither warnings nor apologies. The U.S. will continue to escalate attacks with Hellfire missiles against whomever it chooses, however inaccurate, anecdotal and self-interested the reports upon which they are based prove to be.

The death toll in Pakistan this month is well over 200 and for this year to date over 2,000. The justification for this carnage offered by the U.S. and NATO is that it is intended to extend the policy of Barack Obama to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” insurgent networks in Afghanistan into Pakistan, supposedly the sooner to end the war.

Forty years ago Obama’s predecessor Richard Nixon began his speech announcing the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia with these words: “Good evening, my fellow Americans. Ten days ago, in my report to the nation on Vietnam, I announced the decision to withdraw an additional 150,000 Americans from Vietnam over the next year. I said then that I was making that decision despite our concern over increased enemy activity in Laos, in Cambodia, and in South Vietnam. And at that time I warned that if I concluded that increased enemy activity in any of these areas endangered the lives of Americans remaining in Vietnam, I would not hesitate to take strong and effective measures to deal with that situation.” [15]

He claimed that “enemy sanctuaries” in Cambodia “endanger the lives of Americans who are in Vietnam,” and “if this enemy effort succeeds, Cambodia would become a vast enemy staging area and a springboard for attacks on South Vietnam along 600 miles of frontier: a refuge where enemy troops could return from combat without fear of retaliation.”

The course he ordered was to “go to the heart of the trouble. And that means cleaning out major North Vietnamese and Vietcong occupied territories, these sanctuaries which serve as bases for attacks on both Cambodia and American and South Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam.”

The practical application of the policy was that “attacks are being launched this week to clean out major enemy sanctuaries on the Cambodian-Vietnam border.”

In language that has been heard again lately in Washington and Brussels – with nothing but the place names changed – Nixon claimed: “We take this action not for the purpose of expanding the war into Cambodia, but for the purpose of ending the war in Vietnam….”

Washington indeed expanded the Vietnam War into Cambodia, with what disastrous effects the world is fully aware, and soon thereafter departed Southeast Asia in defeat, leaving vast stretches of Vietnam and Cambodia in ruins.

Afghanistan and Pakistan will not fare any better.

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Pak Army dismisses reports of Europe plots

September 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Editor’s note: Time and again, the western media keeps dragging Pakistan into matters that are speculative and most probably hoaxes. News of terrorism/plots of terrorism always tend to make headlines in any country. By labelling it as “Pakistan-based terror”, it seems some added credit points are awarded to the channel that reports it first – despite there being no evidence of any such threats. As to why the Indian and Western media has become so Pakistan-centric in the recent past is ofcourse not beyond comprehension. The US and its coalition (including India) are facing a hard time in Afghanistan, and now they’re trying to force the “Af & Pak” region into civil war so that they can have an honourable exit, blaming it on both the countries, by labelling them as “terrorists” or “rogue states”. Unfortunately for the Pentagon however, the situation is being rubbed in their face by their constant failure in Afghanistan.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s army on Wednesday dismissed as “very speculative” media reports that this month’s  upsurge in US drone strikes on Islamist militants in the country’s northwest sought to disrupt attacks on European cities.

Sky News on Tuesday reported that militants based in Pakistan were planning simultaneous strikes in London akin to the 2008 militant assault on Mumbai as well as attacks on cities in France and Germany.

It said a month of strikes by pilotless drone aircraft focused on Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, in which more than 100 militants were killed, was intended to disrupt the plot.

Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told Reuters: “We don’t have any information or intelligence that militants had gathered there (in North Waziristan) and were plotting attacks. There is absolutely no intelligence on that.”

“Basically it’s very speculative,” he said of the Sky News report. “It’s a very speculative story. It does not quote any credible source.”

US security officials said they could not confirm that a plot had been disrupted. But they said they believed that the threat of a plot or plots remained.

While no senior-ranking militants were reported killed, Pakistani intelligence officials say a number of others of different nationalities are believed to have died.

On Sept 26, a senior al Qaeda leader, identified as Shaikh al-Fateh, also known as Shaikh Fateh al-Masri, was believed to have been killed, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

‘Not surprised at surge’

There have been 21 strikes carried out by the remotely piloted drones in September, the highest number in a single month.

Tehrik e Taliban(TTP) has made several threats against American and European targets, but has so far failed to carry out any overseas attacks.

US counter-terrorism agencies are poring over intelligence reports suggesting a major attack plot is currently in the works against unspecified targets in Western Europe or possibly the United States, US security officials said.

Four US security officials, who asked for anonymity, said that initial intelligence reports about the threat first surfaced two weeks ago, around the time of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

British security sources declined to comment on the Sky News report. Britain in January raised its international terrorism threat level to “severe” — the second highest level in the five-tier system.

In Germany, the interior ministry said that while Berlin had information on the alleged plots, there were no firm signs of an imminent attack.

“The current pointers do not warrant a change in the assessment of the danger level,” the ministry said in a statement.

A serious risk of attack

The head of Britain’s MI5 Security Service, Jonathan Evans, said on Sept. 16 there remained “a serious risk of a lethal attack taking place”.

“As we have repeatedly said, we know al Qaeda wants to attack Europe and the United States. We continue to work closely with our European allies on the threat from international terrorism, including al Qaeda,” US intelligence chief James Clapper said in a statement.

One US official said militants in Pakistan were “constantly” planning attacks in the region and beyond, and the United States would react to that.

“It shouldn’t surprise anyone that links between plots and those who are orchestrating them lead to decisive American action. The terrorists who are involved are, as everyone should expect, going to be targets. That’s the whole point of all of this,” the official said.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/56186/pakistan-army-dismisses-reports-of-europe-plots/

Pakistan blocks supply trucks after three Pakistani soldiers killed in NATO Helicopter attack

September 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Pakistan has blocked NATO supply trucks passing through its territory after atleast 3 Pakistani soldiers were killed when a NATO Helicopter targeted a security chekpost in Kurram Agency, near the Pak-Afghan border.

Pakistani government officials said senior authorities had ordered them to block oil tankers and trucks carrying Nato supplies at a checkpoint bordering Afghanistan. The two officials said they were not told the reason for the order at the Torkham border post, but it comes after threats by Pakistani officials to stop providing protection to Nato convoys if the military alliance’s helicopters hit Pakistani targets again.

A NATO helicopter attacked a Pakistani security post near the Afghan border on Thursday, killing three troops, officials in Pakistan said. NATO said it was investigating the allegations and whether they were linked to an operation against insurgents in a nearby Afghan province.

The incident was likely to fray ties between Pakistan and US-led forces in Afghanistan at a crucial time in the nine-year war. Just last weekend, NATO choppers opened fire on targets across the border, killing several alleged insurgents inside Pakistan.

Islamabad protested the incidents, which have further stirred already pervasive anti-American sentiments among Pakistanis.

Shortly after the allegations emerged, two government officials told The Associated Press they were ordered to stop NATO supply trucks from crossing into Afghanistan at the Torkham border post, a major passageway for NATO materials. Earlier this week, Pakistan threatened to stop providing protection to NATO convoys if the military alliance’s choppers attacked targets inside Pakistan again.

Pakistani officials differed on the exact location of the deadly airstrike, saying it took place either in Upper Kurram or Upper Orakzai. The remote, mountainous tribal regions neighbor one another, and the border is hard to distinguish.

The dead men were from a paramilitary force tasked with safeguarding the border, the Pakistani security officials said. Their bodies were taken to the region’s largest town of Parachinar, one official said. Three troops also were wounded.

The Pakistani officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation and because in some cases they were not authorized to release the information to the media.

Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for intelligence and special operations at NATO headquarters in Kabul, said coalition forces observed early Thursday what they believed were insurgents firing mortars at a coalition base in Dand Wa Patan district of Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan.

“A coalition air weapons team called for fire support and engaged the insurgents,” he said. “The air weapons team reported that it did not cross into Pakistani air space and believed the insurgents were located on the Afghan side of the border.”

Dorrian said NATO was reviewing the reports to see if the operation in Paktia was related to Pakistan’s reports its forces were hit by NATO aircraft.

In June 2008, a U.S. airstrike killed 11 Pakistani troops and frayed the two nations’ ties. Pakistan said the soldiers died when U.S. aircraft bombed their border post in the Mohmand tribal region. U.S. officials said their coalition’s aircraft dropped bombs during a clash with militants. They expressed regret over the incident, but said it was justified.

Pakistan and the U.S. have a complicated relationship, with distrust on both sides.

Polls show many Pakistanis regard the United States as an enemy, and conspiracy theories abound of U.S. troops wanting to attack Pakistan and take over its nuclear weapons. The Pakistani government has to balance its support for the U.S. war in Afghanistan with the support it needs from the population.

The U.S. and NATO need Pakistan’s cooperation in part because they use its land routes to transport supplies to their troops inside landlocked Afghanistan. The Pakistani government officials said about 250 vehicles of NATO supplies cross into Afghanistan daily.

There were more than 100 NATO vehicles blocked at the checkpoint by Thursday morning, they said.

US: Pakistan again raises Kashmir at international forum

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

US: Pakistan again raises Kashmir at international forum

Many in Bharat believe that the Kashmir issue cannot and should be be raised at an international forum and that it is a bilateral issue. Some obsolete and debunked agreements are brought up to further this claim. Pakistan has never adhered to this theory and has brought the Kashmir issue in various international forums like the OIC and the UN.

Foreign Minister Mahmood Qureshi once again brought up the issue at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. Bharat expected this and will respond with the usual rhetoric about so called terror and so on and so forth.

New York: Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi raised the issue of Kashmir again on Tuesday.

“The Jammu and Kashmir dispute is about the exercise of the right to self-determination by the Kashmiri people through a free, fair and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices. Pakistan views the prevailing situation in the Indian Occupied Kashmir with grave concern,” he said.

Late on Monday night, Qureshi had also said that any talks between the two countries needs to be “meaningful.”

Pakistan’s Foreign Minisiter had also noted that a bilateral was still worked out, and Islamabad had sent “some suggestions” through diplomatic channels to New Delhi about these talks.

Without going to specific details about these “suggestions,” Qureshi said that he was now awaiting a response from the Indian side.

“The talks can take place immediately if a positive response is received,” the minister said, noting that any meeting should produce results

Categories: Article

North Waziristan Residents Live In Constant Fear: 21 US Drone Attacks Launched This Month

September 28, 2010 4 comments

A rare interview of a close relative of a recent US drone attack victim in North Waziristan provides some insight into the havoc created by the widespread and indiscriminate attacks that have claimed hundreds of innocent lives. This year 72 drone attacks have been launched. The latest attack was launched on Saturday (Sept. 25) killing at least seven people.

Haider’s brother-in-law, Mohammed Asghar, a resident of Peshawar, was visiting his friends in Miranshah, North Waziristan, when he became victim of the US drone attack. Haider told Cageprisoners: “As he was a guest there – and as is the custom of the people – many of the locals gathered to welcome him into the area. He was sitting with a group of people from the community when everybody gathered for the evening prayer (‘Isha) together. The drone attack happened in the middle of the prayers and the entire congregation was martyred. In total, 31 people were killed.”

Haider said that all the people gathered were locals from the community who had come to welcome the new guest to the area. “The people are renowned for their hospitality and it is unthinkable for them that somebody would come to visit and they would not have a gathering to welcome them.”

He said that the people who had witnessed the attack had come to tell us and described what they saw of the remnants and damage in the aftermath. They said the attack was so severe that they could not even distinguish the bodies from one another- even the bones of the people were completely blown apart. The dead were completely unrecognizable. “My brother-in-law’s coffin was tightly sealed and we were not allowed to open it to view anything. We had the coffin with us for 30 minutes before it was taken away for burial.”

According to Haider, the civilians in all these regions are extremely frightened and fearful. “They can’t work in the day, nor can they sleep during the night. As soon as they hear the slightest sound of an aero-plane, they flee in panic from their homes and buildings trying to find a place for security. The whole community is in a state of fear and I just cannot explain to you how unbearable these calamities are for the people.”

Haider pointed out that every household has at least half of its people have been killed as a result of these attacks.

The region where the US attacks are being launched is a no go area since newsmen or human rights groups are not allowed by the mercenary Pakistan Army which is itself involved in killing its own people in the name of ‘war on terror’ since 2004.

Ironically, Pakistan’s nominally free media is not allowed to carry any independent report about the US drone attacks. Often names of the killed terrorists are announced but their bodies or injured are not shown. It is claimed after the attack that the militants cordoned off the area after the attack and took away all their dead and injured. All drone attack casualties reports are coming from un-named Pakistani intelligence officials since the US client government of President Zardari is complicit in helping the US kill his countrymen.

American journalist, Bob Woodward in his new book – Obama’s Wars – reported about former CIA director General Michael Hayden’s meeting with president Asif Ali Zardari in November 2008, during which, Zardari reportedly gave the Bush administration the green light to carry out more drone strikes inside Pakistan. Tellingly, Zardari told Hayden, “Collateral damage (read civilian casualties) worries you Americans. It does not worry me.”

In the 18th strike this month, two US drone attacks were launched on Saturday (Sept. 25) in Miranshah, North Waziristan, killing at least seven people. In the first attack three missiles were fired at a vehicle traveling in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan killing four people. Another three people were killed in the second attack in the same area where the first strike was launched. During the second strike, five missiles were reportedly fired and six to seven U.S. drones were seen hovering over the area. On September 22, at least 28 people were killed in three US drone strikes in the remote areas of South and North Waziristan.

According to the statistics compiled by the New America Foundation, US drones have now launched more than 123 deadly strikes in Pakistan since President Barack Obama came to power. In other words, US drone attacks in Pakistan have almost tripled under Obama claiming hundreds of innocent lives. Under his predecessor, George W. Bush, 45 drone attacks were launched from June 2004 to January 3, 2009. Obama was inaugurated on January 20 and stepped up drone attacks.

Tellingly, according to the statistics compiled by Pakistani authorities, the US drones killed 708 people in 44 predator attacks targeting the tribal areas between January 1 and December 31, 2009. For each Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist killed by US drones, 140 innocent Pakistanis also had to die. Over 90 per cent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were civilians, claim authorities. The success percentage for the drone hits during 2009 was hardly 11 per cent. On average, 58 civilians were killed in these attacks every month, 12 persons every week and almost two people every day. Most of the attacks were carried out on the basis of human intelligence, reportedly provided by the Pakistani and Afghan tribesmen, who are spying for the US-led allied forces in Afghanistan.

Intensified US drone attacks came amid shocking revelation that the US Central Intelligence Agency is running and paying for a secret 3,000-strong army of Afghan paramilitaries whose main aim is assassinating Taliban and al-Qa’ida operatives not just in Afghanistan but across the border in neighboring Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Bob Woodward’s new explosive book, Obama’s Wars, describes these forces as elite, well-trained units that conduct highly sensitive covert operations into Pakistan as part of a stepped-up campaign against al-Qa’ida and Afghan Taliban havens there.

The secret army is split into “Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams”, and is thought to be responsible for the deaths of many Pakistani Taliban fighters who have crossed the border into Afghanistan to fight Nato and Afghan government forces there.

The British newspaper Independent said that the details of the clandestine army have surprised no one in Kabul, the Afghan capital, although the fact that the information is now public is unprecedented. There have been multiple reports of the CIA running its own militias in southern Afghanistan along border with Pakistan.

Woodward says that Obama is seriously betting on his exit strategy – he wants by all means a progressive withdrawal from Afghanistan starting next summer. But “his” general, Petraeus – the Pentagon in fact – wants infinite war. Pepe Escobar asks why infinite war? He says what Woodward’s book and the corporate media orchestrated narrative will never tell is “why” infinite war. Pepe Escobar argues that this infinite or long war is:

Because of the New Great Game in Eurasia.

Because of the need of military bases to spy on strategic competitors Russia and China.

Because of the US’s obsession with Pipelineistan in Central Asia bypassing both Russia and Iran.

Because of the Pentagon’s full spectrum dominance doctrine – which justifies infinitely ballooning military budgets. 18 US Drone Attacks Launched This Month: North Waziristan Residents Live In Constant Fear By Abdus Sattar Ghazali, 27 September, 2010, Countercurrents.org

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Executive Editor of the online magazine American Muslim Perspective: http://www.amperspective.com Email: asghazali786@gmail.com

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Pakistani Establishment and Kiyani refused to be cowed down by US threats

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment

US threats against Pakistan have been ubiquitous and part and parcel of US policy since the sixties. Pakistan has been used to threats. The Pakistani establishment can discern what is a threat and what is a bluff. The state was threatened by Nehru on the day of her independence. Many think that Liaqat Ali Khan was murdered for working on a plan for a confederation with Afghanistan. Kruschev threatened Islamabad of dire consequences if the US near Peshawar was not closed. Pakistan was threatened by President Johnson when Ayub Khan closed down the US base. Nixon and Kissinger threatened Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto for pursuing a Nuclear Program.  President Carter refused to visit Pakistan. Pervez Musharraf was threatened with being “bombed to the stone age” if the Pakistani government did not accept the seven points. Hillary Clinton threatened Pakistan with dire consequences without clarifying what that threat meant. Now there are revelations that President Obama threatened Pakistan and that the US wanted to bomb 150 sites in Pakistan.

Have the threats achieved the results that Washington wanted?
The US base was closed down despite the threats. Islamabad continues to pursue its aims in Afghanistan despite the assassination of a Prime Minister. President Carter was forced to deal with President Zia Ul haq. Pakistan continued to pursue the Nuclear Program despite sanction and threats to the life of the Prime Minister who initiated the program. Pervez Musharraf agreed to the points in theory, but was not totally compliant. General Kiyani, according to Bob Woodward totally rebuffed the US delegation.

  • Frustrated over Pakistan’s lackluster response to the war against terrorism, US President Barack Obama, sent his top aides to threaten Pakistan
  • The Pakistani establishment in particular the all powerful Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani refused to adhere to any of the four demands.
  • ” Kayani would not budge very much. He had other concerns. “I’ll be the first to admit, I’m India centric,” he said, according to the book.

WASHINGTON: Frustrated over Pakistan’s lackluster response to the war against terrorism, US President Barack Obama, sent his top aides to warn Pakistan that he would have no other option but to respond, if they do not take decisive action against terrorist safe havens.

Adding to the frustration, the Pakistani establishment in particular the all powerful Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani refused to adhere to any of the four demands the US made through National Security Adviser Gen James Jones and CIA chief Leon Panetta during that trip in May this year, says noted investigative journalist Bob Woodward, in his latest book, “Obama’s War”.

“The President wants everyone in Pakistan to understand if such an attack connected to a Pakistani group is successful there are some things even he would not be able to stop. Just there are political realities in Pakistan, there are realities in the United States.

No one will be able to stop the response and consequences. There is not a threat, just a statement of political fact,” Zardai was told during the meeting, the book claims.

Giving a series of specific instances how terrorists’ leaders are operating unhindered inside Pakistan, Jones told Zardari that Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the LeT commander if the 2008 Mumbai attacks, is not being adequately interrogated and “he continues to direct LeT operations from his detention center.”

LeT is operating in Afghanistan and the group carried out a recent attack at a guesthouse there. Intelligence also shows that LeT is threatening attacks in the United States and the possibility is rising each day, Jones said according to the book.

After meeting Zardari, US officials met Kayani, wherein Jones told the Pakistan Army Chief that the clock was starting now all the four requests made by Obama.

“But Kayani would not budge very much. He had other concerns. “I’ll be the first to admit, I’m India centric,” he said, according to the book.

Kiyani fully knew that the bluff did not hold water. What would the day after the bombing look like. Several thousand Pakistanis would be dead but the basic threat is not buildings but from men. 180 million Pakistanis cannot be evaporated.

The Day after the bombing– need not be spelled out–but it is sufficient to say that the war in Afghanistan would come to a grinding halt and and Iranian-Pakistani alliance would be unstoppable.

US bases in Pakistan would be history, and the logistical connection through Pakistan would end. US bases in the vicinity could become targets.

The US wiped out any goodwill that it may have created through the Kerry Lugar Bill of the Flood Relief.

Categories: Article

Aafia Siddiqui’s Sentencing: Viceral Reaction

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Aafia Siddiqui’s Sentencing: Viceral Reaction

On September 23, the FBI headlined, “Aafia Siddiqui Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 86 Years for Attempting to Murder US Nationals in Afghanistan and Six Additional Crimes.” In sentencing, Judge Richard Berman ruled her acts premeditated, contradicting jurors saying they were not. More on the press release below.

No matter that she’s completely innocent, and has been a US political prisoner since her March 30, 2003 abduction, incarceration, torture, prosecution, and conviction on bogus charges. Her case is one of America’s most egregious examples of horrific abuse and injustice, climaxed by her virtual life sentence for an alleged crime she never committed.

Yet she was convicted for these claimed felonies:

(1) one count of trying to kill US nationals outside the US;

(2) one count of trying to kill US officers and employees;

(3) one count of armed assault of US officers and employees;

(4) one count of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; and

(5) three counts of assault of US officers and employees.

Earlier articles about her can be accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2008/12/abduction-secret-detention-torture-and.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/02/aafia-siddiqui-victimized-by-american.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/03/aafia-siddiqui-victimized-by-american.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/09/aafia-siddiqui-sentenced-grievous.html

Gloating about another victory, like a predator over its prey, the FBI quoted Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara saying:

“As a unanimous jury found beyond a reasonable doubt (they’re all unanimous or hung), Aafia Siddiqui attempted to murder Americans serving in Afghanistan, as well as their Afghan colleagues,” though only Americans were with her in Bagram Prison at the time the alleged incident took place, as follows:

In the presence of two FBI agents, two Army interpreters, and three US Army officers, this frail 110 pound woman allegedly assaulted three of them, seized one of their rifles, opened fire at close range, hit no one, yet she alone was severely wounded.

It was her word against theirs. At trial, no credible evidence was presented, because there was none, not even her fingerprints on the alleged weapon. The charges were concocted, bogus and absurd, not even rising to the level of a bad film plot, yet jurors were intimidated to convict.

A Pakistani/American scientist, home visiting her family in 2003, local authorities abducted her at the behest of Washington, after which she was handed over and incarcerated at America’s infamous Bagram Prison, Afghanistan.

Yet the FBI statement says: “SIDDIQUI was detailed (on July 17, 2008) by Afghan authorities,” who found alleged incriminating items “in her possession” about a “mass casualty attack” planned against high-profile New York targets. “Other notes….referred to the construction of ‘dirty bombs,’ (and) ways to attack ‘enemies,’ including by destroying reconnaissance drones, using underwater bombs, and deploying gliders.”

Yet these charges weren’t in her indictment, exposing them as spurious. Instead, on July 18, 2008, she was accused of allegedly disarming and attacking seven armed Americans during interrogation.

Rampaging Imperial America

Post-9/11, America declared war on Islam to justify rampaging globally, focused heavily on Eurasia’s mineral wealth, principally Middle Eastern oil, comprising two-thirds of the world’s proved reserves.

Abroad, illegal imperial wars and occupations followed. At home, Muslims have been victimized, vilified, and persecuted for their faith, ethnicity, prominence, and activism – opportunistically targeted for political advantage. They’ve been singled out, hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, brutally tortured, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence, convicted on bogus charges, given long sentences, and incarcerated as political prisoners or extraordinarily renditioned to a similar or worse fate abroad.

Victims are innocent pawns in the war on terror, mocking the rule of law, judicial fairness, and democratic freedoms – the modus operandi of rogue states, calling wars of aggression liberating ones, suppressing civil liberties for our own good, and rampaging globally for alleged “democratic freedoms,” ones America won’t tolerate at home or abroad.

US v. Pakistani Media Reports

After her sentencing, US media reports highlighted bogus government charges, ignoring the truth and Aafia’s horrific treatment. CBS, for example, affirmed allegations that she’s an “Al Qaeda supporter” and “cold-blooded radical.” CNN noted her “Anarchist’s Arsenal.” ABC News called her “Lady Qaeda.”

Wall Street Journal writer Chad Bray referred to her alleged “mass casualty attack” plan on New York landmarks, and for Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, she’s a “terror mom (and) reputed Al Qaeda associate,” a Bruce Golding headline saying, “Judge throws book at Pakistani plotter….’terror mom’ has been eighty-sixed.”

Note the difference in Pakistan. The entire country is outraged – in Karachi (Aafia’s home city), Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Lehore, Quetta, Peshawar, Multan, and elsewhere.

Dawn.com headlined “Pakistanis furious over Aafia Siddiqui’s sentence,” saying:

In Karachi, “Pakistanis burned tires, (Obama effigies), and chanted anti-US slogans after a New York (hanging) judge handed down an 86-year sentence” on bogus charges. Her case “has long stirred passions in Pakistan….where anti-American sentiment is (deservedly) widespread.”

“Many Pakistanis believe the US abducted Siddiqui and kept her in a secret prison for years as it pursued its war on terror.” News of her “harsh sentence immediately sparked anger and disbelief.” In Peshawar, angry protestors burned tires and shouted “Down with America!” Pakistan’s president and prime minister were also named, and “Some hit a portrait of….Obama with their shoes.”

Islamabad students were also outraged, shouting “Crush America, Siddiqui is our sister,” and “We will bring her back.”

More in Multan where dozens of lawyers and activists blocked traffic, shouting “Down with America,” and burning effigies of Obama and former Pakistani despot Pervez Musharra.

In Peshawar, thousands of political, social, and religious activists protested on city streets, holding banners and placards condemning the sentence. They demanded Aafia’s release and end to US Waziristan drone attacks.

A supportive Pakistan Times editorial called America “an authoritarian, arrogant superpower,” and Aafia’s sentence “unheard of….people will be waiting to see how (Obama reacts). Only time will tell if the US president will step in to mitigate (this outrage) by either pardoning Dr. Aafia or sending her back to Pakistan to serve at least part of her sentence in her home country.”

“Dr. Aafia may very well become the poster-child for increased hatred against the US and more sympathy for the militants,” a possibility both countries should consider.

Aafia’s sister, Fauzia, called the sentence “a slap in the face of our rulers, who have pledged and made promises to bring” her back.

Addressing a supportive rally, she said they failed miserably to help Aafia. “The sentence bears testimony to the fact that this government is a puppet of the US. We are peaceful people, and our aim is to bring back Aafia.”

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit expressed “disappoint(ment with) the sentence and sad that our efforts….did not succeed. We are still in touch with the US administration to see what possible options are available. We are not giving up.” At issue is whether they ever tried, given the ties between the countries “in the fight against Terrorist militancy….”

The International Tribune reported that Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik said government efforts “will surely bring (her back), but it needs time to do it.”

Pakistan’s US ambassador, Hussain Haqqani, said “the government took every possible step for (her) safe release,” adding that efforts will continue.

Pakistan’s Jamiat Uleme-e-Islam Party (JUI) chief, Fazalur Rehman, cancelled his US trip in protest, saying “the punishment of Doctor Aafia has added to the list of American crimes, and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said he, too, “would make all efforts for Dr. Aafia’s release,” adding that “the entire nation was praying for her safe return.”

Tekreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Party chairman, Imran Khan, condemned the verdict as “unethical and inhuman,” warning it could inflame the entire Muslim world. He also announced launch of a countrywide protest, saying Pakistanis won’t tolerate this outrage.

“Aafia is the daughter of the nation,” he said, “and all-our efforts should be made for her early return.” PTI plans protest rallies, seminars and meeting throughout the country, its campaign to continue until Affia’s back home.

Farooq Sattar, Parliamentary leader of Pakistan’s third largest political party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), condemned Aafia’s sentence, announced protests, and said MQM officials would meet with America’s ambassador to demand her release. MQM head, Altaf Hussain, also wants her released and sent home, saying, if in power, MQM “would have immediately severed ties with the US and its allies….”

In America, Aafia’s a “terrorist,” in Pakistan a national hero, at least on the country’s streets, if not the halls of power, despite the above rhetoric.

For their part, Aafia’s family vowed to launch a “movement” for her release, Fauzia telling reporters that all of Pakistan would agitate for her. “I was alone when I started the campaign to release my sister, but from now on it will be the Aafia movement as the whole nation is with me.”

Qazi Muhammad, Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president asked “Why is our individual and collective conscience as a nation silent on the maltreatment of Dr. Aafia, the daughter of the nation?” He said an SCBA delegation would meet with her family, and offered to defend her in the US pro bono.

Responses from Human Rights Groups

The International Justice Network (ICN – supporting human rights globally, including Aafia’s family) issued a press release, saying:

“Dr. Aafia Siddiqui – who has never caused harm to anyone – has now been condemned to spend the rest of her life in a (US) maximum security prison….This sentence is not only unjust because of its harshness, (but) also because of its impact on her….children….who may never see their mother again. But the greatest injustice….is that those who are responsible for the kidnapping, disappearance, and abuse of Dr. Siddiqui and her children without cause have yet to answer for their actions.”

“The International Justice Network stands in solidarity with the international community in condemning this unfair and unjust result in Dr. Siddiqui’s case.”

Dr. Mehdi Hasan, chairperson of The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) issued the following statement:

America must “assess the impact of the unusually harsh punishment awarded to (Aafia), particularly in view of the absence of direct and credible evidence against her.”

In fact, there’s none.

It’s also a red herring for the US embassy to say Pakistan must sign two international treaties relating to prisoner exchanges before Aafia can be returned – the Council of Europe Treaty and OAF Convention. In fact, reversing her sentence and repatriating her is as simple as doing it, an Obama stroke of the pen sending her home. It’s time for Pakistan’s government to put its muscle where it’s rhetoric is and demand nothing less, suspending diplomatic relations until done.

A Final Comment

On September 11, 2001, America declared “war on terror” based on a lie, then used it as justification to rampage globally. Thereafter, democratic freedoms weakened or disappeared, and Muslims became the target of choice. A war on Islam followed.

Stereotypically called culturally inferior, dirty, lecherous, untrustworthy, religiously fanatical, and violent, they’ve been prejudicially called Islamofascists, “terrorists,” or a homeland fifth column. Their fate became summary judgment – no due process, judicial fairness, or innocent unless proved guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt by an impartial jury of their peers.

Aafia is their poster child, an innocent woman brutalized and condemned to spend the rest of her life in maximum security confinement, meant for America’s “worst of the worst” criminals. The facilities are extremely harsh. They crush the human spirit, body and mind, in Aafia’s case even more than already after seven and a half brutalizing years.

More is now planned for the rest of her life unless world outrage saves her, no easy task given the Obama administration’s contempt for the rule of law, human rights and justice, as roguish as Bush officials.

That alone should incite everyone’s moral outrage. Aafia’s case adds an exclamation point!

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. Reaction To Aafia Siddiqui’s Sentencing By Stephen Lendman
27 September, 2010, Countercurrents.org

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/

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