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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.

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NATO attacks: Pakistan should move beyond ‘bumper sticker protests”

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment

NATO attacks: Pakistan should move beyond ‘bumper sticker protests”

NATO has impugned on Pakistani sovereignty and crossed the border. This incursion should not be tolerated. It crosses the red line drawn by Pakistan. Islamabad should halt NATO supplies for a week. They will be able to replenish the supplies through airlifts and through ammunition and food that has been stored inside Afghanistan. However this will certainly impact the war being waged inside Afghanistan.

  • Two Apache helicopters crossed the border from eastern Afghanistan after insurgents attacked a remote Afghan security outpost in Khost.
  • A statement released late on Sunday night said: “An air weapons team in the area observed the enemy fire, and following International Security Assistance Force rules of engagement, crossed into the area of enemy fire.
  • The ISAF aircraft then engaged, killing more than 30 insurgents.”
  • The raid was followed up on Saturday morning when two Kiowa helicopters returned to the border area killing four more insurgents.
  • Pakistan said the helicopters intruded into its territory twice from the eastern Afghan province of Khost as they chased the militants.
  • “These incidents are a clear violation and breach of the UN mandate under which ISAF operates,” a spokesman from the foreign office said.
  • Pakistan added that ISAF’s mandate “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,” the foreign office statement added.
  • “In the absence of immediate corrective measures, Pakistan will be constrained to consider response options,” it warned.

The Pakistan Army is busy in Flood Relief and counts on NATO support in many areas–however if it does not act properly this time, the “hot pursuits” on the Western borders will become the norm. Taking its cue the same type of nonsense can then be undertaken on the Eastern borders.

There has to be some sort of retaliation towards NATO. They have not apologized. Instead NATO has tried to justify its actions by trying to rationalize it. More than fifty people were killed which NATO says are “Terrorirsts”. The same NATO is talking peace with the same Taliban that they consider as “Terrorists”.

  • Military sources said the message communicated to the Nato command was crystal clear that in view of declining public support for war on terror, the security of Nato supply routes through Pakistan could be threatened in the aftermath of the new air campaign.
  • Analysts say Pakistan could only stop US-led forces from such violations by tactfully using its leverages that largely relate to the support for war on terror and the supply routes.
  • Nato was asked to coordinate its actions with Pakistan military and avoid crossing the ‘red lines’ — a euphemism for Pakistani sensitivities.

Update: International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which had earlier defended the aerial engagement as an action ‘under the right of self-defence’, later in the evening, according to military sources, informed Pakistani commanders that they were trying to establish that their helicopters during the operation did not cross into Pakistani territory.

72,400 of US heavy weapons ‘missing’ in Afghanistan

September 15, 2010 2 comments

At least 72,400 U.S. supplied AK-47s, hundreds of heavy machine guns and RPG launchers delivered to Afghan police have gone missing.

There are fears that some of the missing weapons of Afghan Police and security forces might have ended up in the hands of the Taliban while several thousand may have been intentionally smuggled into Pakistan for promoting terrorism.

The U.S. military newspaper Start and Stripes quoted “NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan” as saying that a massive hunt is on for tens of thousands of rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers that the U.S. government procured for the Afghan National Police but are unaccounted for.”

According to Logsdon, the U.S. Department of Defence procured more than 72,400 AK-47s, as well as heavy machine guns and RPG launchers for Afghan police. Coalition forces are attempting to track exactly where the weapons are amid allegations by the military and others that some police weapons may have ended up in the hands of the Taliban.

Security experts fear that there was a grand mafia working in Afghanistan with the help of Indian intelligence and transporting arms and drugs into Pakistan as well as into some Central Asian states.

Experts say that recent reports have confirmed delivery of fresh weapons to terrorists of Tehreek-i-Taliban to launch new terrorist actions and attacks inside Pakistan. It is important to note that during recent weeks there have been more than eight terrorist actions launched by foreign-backed terrorists inside Pakistan.

Pakistan recently complained to Western states about support provided to anti-Pakistan terrorists’ networks in Afghanistan but NATO officials were reluctant to take necessary action to curb infiltration from Afghanistan into Pakistan.

US deaths in Afghanistan hit record in 2010

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

In all, 1,270 US troops have lost their lives since the conflict began with the US-led invasion of Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

KABUL: The number of US soldiers killed in the Afghan war in 2010 is the highest annual toll since the conflict began almost nine years ago, according to an AFP count Wednesday.

A total of 323 US soldiers have been killed in the Afghan war this year, compared to 317 for all of 2009, according to a count by AFP based on the independent icasualties.org website.

Foreign forces suffered a grim spike in deaths last month as the Taliban insurgency intensified, with Nato confirming on Wednesday that a sixth US soldier was killed on one of the bloodiest days this year.

At 490, the overall death toll for foreign troops for the first eight months of the year is rapidly closing in the number registered in all of 2009, which at 521 was a record since the start of the war in late 2001.

A total of 80 international soldiers died in the Afghan war last month, 56 of them Americans.

In all, 1,270 US troops have lost their lives since the conflict began with the US-led invasion of Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday warned that the United States faced a “very tough fight” in Afghanistan, with more casualties and “heartbreak” to come.

“We obviously still have a very tough fight in Afghanistan,” Obama told troops in Texas as the United States marked the formal end of combat operations in Iraq.

“We have seen casualties go up because we are taking the fight to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban,” Obama said. “It is going to be a tough slog.”

Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) confirmed that a sixth US soldier died on Tuesday, killed in an insurgent attack in the south of the country.

This followed the previously announced deaths on Tuesday of another five US soldiers, four of them killed in a roadside bomb attack.

Twenty-five Americans have died since Friday.

Military leaders say the spike in deaths reflects the injection of additional troops into the Afghan theatre, which leads to a higher number of battlefield engagements with Taliban-led insurgents.

US General David Petraeus, the commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, said Tuesday that deployments would reach their full strength of 150,000 within days.

On Monday, eight Nato troops — seven Americans and an Estonian — were killed in bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan.

Icasualties.org is constantly updating its figures as soldiers wounded in battle die of their injuries after they have been evacuated from Afghanistan, sometimes days or weeks later.

Pakistan may have tried to thwart Afghan talks: report

August 23, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON: January’s capture of top Taliban commander Abdul Ghani Baradar may have been a bid by Pakistani intelligence to thwart talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, The New York Times said late Sunday.

Baradar was a top military strategist and trusted aide of the militia’s shadowy leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

He was arrested in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi reportedly in a secret raid by CIA and Pakistani agents, an operation that was described as a huge blow to the group.

Citing unnamed Pakistani officials, it said Pakistan’s intelligence had set out to capture Baradar with the CIA’s help as it wanted to end secret peace talks between Baradar and the Afghan government that excluded Pakistan, the Taliban’s longtime backer.

In the weeks after Baradar’s capture, Pakistani security officials detained up to 23 Taliban leaders, many of whom had been enjoying Islamabad’s protection for years, the report said.

These developments resulted in the talks coming to an end.

The events surrounding Baradar’s arrest have been the subject of debate inside military and intelligence circles for months, The Times said.

“We picked up Baradar and the others because they were trying to make a deal without us,” the paper quotes a Pakistani security official as saying.

“We protect the Taliban. They are dependent on us. We are not going to allow them to make a deal with Karzai and the Indians,” the official said, referring to Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President.

Some US officials say the Pakistanis may be trying to make themselves appear more influential, the report said.

“These are self-serving fairy tales,” The Times quotes one US official as saying on condition of anonymity.

“The people involved in the operation on the ground didn’t know exactly who would be there when they themselves arrived. But it certainly became clear, to Pakistanis and Americans alike, who we’d gotten.”

But other US officials suspect the CIA may have been unwittingly used by the Pakistanis for the larger aims of slowing the pace of any peace talks, the report said. – AFP

The strange case of Doctor CIA and Mister ISI

ANY guesses which intelligence agency is the most damned in the world today? The one that must bear the burden sitting heavy on every cumbersome moment of an indefatigable truth: that the US-led coalition is eons away from winning the war in Afghanistan.

The same that in partnership with the CIA and the Saudi Intelligence helped win the Afghan jihad and gave the Soviets that final push over the tottering edge of their crumbling edifice—the mighty USSR.  As with the law of nature all good things come to an end and thus we reach the happily-ever-after end of the intelligence world’s shortest lived honeymoon for Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency.  More reviled than the Soviet era KGB, the ISI is now the favourite whipping boy for every ill under the sun. From Secretary Clinton to Admiral Mike Mullen, everyone regularly raps it on the knuckles.

The US frustration is mounting by the day. Deeply ensnared in the morass in Afghanistan and clueless how to get out, it must blame somebody. So why not the Pakis? After all, aren’t they the troublemakers who break the bread with the Afghan insurgents telling them on how to launch offensives against the good ol’ coalition forces fighting the terrorists? Tell you what, not only are these treacherous sleuths indulging in a double game and ensuring the defeat of our forces, they are also harbouring the king of terrorists, yes, Osama bin Laden himself!

Wow, makes for an incredible storyline—but one that cannot help proclaim its grade B status. So if bin Laden is in Pakistan why are the US drones shying away from attacking his hideout? If these guys have “credible evidence” pointing to the ISI complicity in aiding the Afghans, why not sock one to ‘em and pull their strings—yes, those green ones hopping a merry little dance. Dear, dear, the truth is that facts speak louder than rhetoric. The blame game is fine but don’t insult your audience’s intelligence, for God’s sake.

The icing on the cake comes in the form of the Afghan War Diary, a trove of dirty secrets divulged by the WikiLeaks that has earned a reputation of sorts with its history of exposes. Apart from the damning evidence against US policies and military strategy not to forget the mind-boggling array of nuggets about the role being played by Afghan government, its allied warlords and national security forces, we come to the parallel narrative about ISI. Before launching into a diatribe against the injustice of it all, let me reflect on the western media’s take on the issue. The New York Times and the London Times have expressed doubts over the veracity of the reports concerning ISI since much of this was provided by the Afghan intelligence.

I guess once you’ve belled the cat, it is best to leave the rest unsaid. But here’s my two-bit. The incredible charges against a former ISI chief General Hameed Gul deserve a good laugh. Yes, the gentleman appears regularly on the television and all but only someone with zero IQ can conjure such a fantastical scenario whereby the ISI is fielding its former chief to represent its interests and help Afghan insurgents launch offensives across the border!

If it wasn’t so pathetic, it would have made a great joke. It is no laughing matter though. The same ISI has paid with its blood as has every other wing of the Pakistan military in helping fight terrorism. It is not ISI that invited bin Laden to come with his comrades to Afghanistan. Rather it was the Americans who are to blame for allowing him to leave Sudan to move to Afghanistan. The past few years have brought Pakistan nothing but terror and huge loss of lives and property. That is something the US cannot compensate with a paltry $7.5 million aid package. So please give the ISI a break, any bomb blast in Kabul or gun battle in Mumbai is visited upon its head like a crown of thorns. It is preposterous and it is time this ridiculous charade ended.

Having contacts with key players in the Afghan insurgency is not a crime and does not mean these contacts are being helped with weapons, funds and logistics to fight the international forces. If blaming a former ISI chief for having past contacts is the criterion then what is next? Who will stop the architects of these malicious rumours from laying the blame at the door of Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani? After all, he was also a former ISI chief from 2004-2007. Does it make sense that a sitting army chief who has earned the respect of every military commander in the coalition, would allow Pakistan’s counterterrorism doctrine to be thus jeopardised? Pakistan is waging its toughest battle against home-grown militants who have used the Afghan card to proliferate and promote their own vested interests. The neighbourhood conflict and the presence of foreign forces is the main reason for the mushrooming of extremism and not vice versa. Anyone with the slightest intelligence should be able to discern the changed environment and the dynamics at play.

To win this war against terrorism, the insurgency must be wrenched away from its embrace with every option available. It should not be too bitter a pill for after all Washington is an old hand at making deals with the unlikeliest of partners. As for Pakistan, the US needs to stop playing coy. Either it should make a break or forge ahead with mutual trust and respect. Wars are not won when allies mistrust and berate each other at every given opportunity.

While US officials have denounced the WikiLeaks report and have assured that cooperation with partners will not be affected, questions are already being raised about the US policy towards Pakistan.  This is why it is important for policy makers in Washington to decide on how to deal with Pakistan. The dual policy that has only created bad blood and affected US credibility needs a complete overhaul.

Faryal Leghari is Assistant Editor of Khaleej Times and can be reached at faryal@khaleejtimes.com

Wikileaks Afghanistan files– INTERACTIVE

Wikileaks Afghanistan files– INTERACTIVE

Wikileaks Afghanistan files– INTERACTIVE

Afghan civilian deaths

(BOTTOM) Afghan friendly fire incidents