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Drone Strikes Continue To Fuel Anti-US Sentiment In Pakistan

Drone Strikes Continue To Fuel Anti-US Sentiment In Pakistan

Jason Ditz

US Claims Massive ‘Militant’ Deaths and Almost No Civilian Casualties

The CIA’s drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas, something which has become an enormous issue over the past year and a half, have been an enormous source of controversy, both legal and practical.

The US, for its part, maintains that the drone strikes have caused no more than 30 civilian casualties, while killing over 500 militants. The claims seem common among US officials, in keeping with the narrative of precision drone strikes.

But they are tough to swallow for children killed and maimed in the almost constant bombardment. And for villagers the claims that friends and relatives are “suspected militants” are tough to reconcile with reality, as are the claims of US precision.

They also don’t jibe with figures from Pakistan’s own intelligence agencies, which estimate that the US actually killed 700 civilians in 2009 alone, while killing only a handful of confirmed militants. The number of civilians wounded in all these attacks is unknown, but significant.

It is unsurprising, then, that the strikes continue to inflame anti-US sentiment across Pakistan, and US claims that the victims are almost universally “militants” is likely only making matters worse, in the face of enormous evidence to the contrary.

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45% Of Indian Air Force Crashes Due To Incompetent Pilots

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW DELHI: A whopping 45% of IAF air crashes in the last six years have taken place due to human error.

The IAF has informed the parliamentary committee on defence that it had recorded a total of 74 air mishaps between April 2004 and March 2010, of which a high of 42% was due to technical faults in the aircraft and a mere 6% due to bird-hit.

The figures in percentage would mean the IAF has suffered 33 crashes out of 74 due to human errors, 31 due to technical errors in the aircraft and another 4 due to bird hit. Reasons for the remaining six crashes have not been given to the committee.

The committee, in its latest report submitted to Parliament, noted with concern that these mishaps were taking place in the backdrop of the IAF facing a crisis due to shortage of trainer aircraft and obsolescence of simulators for its pilot trainees.

It pointed out with concern that the IAF’s Hindustan Piston Trainer-32, a basic trainer aircraft, had remained grounded for over a year now following a mishap early last year and the Kiran Mk-II HJT-16 simulators were in disuse.

The committee, headed by Congress MP Satpal Maharaj, said the Defence Ministry should take all steps to acquire new trainer aircraft and upgrade the simulators “so that adequate training is provided for pilots, which would definitely result in reduction of accidents due to human failure.”

The IAF has faced problems with HPT-32’s engine and airframe, even as it spared all its Kiran trainers (usually used for secondary flying training) to enable rookie pilots to learn flying skills.

It also had a gap in its training syllabus due to the lack of an Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) when pilots moved on from Kiran aircraft to MiG-21 supersonic fighter jets.

After a protracted process lasting 20 years, the IAF contracted to buy 66 BAE’s Hawk AJTs in 2004 and the first lot were inducted for training pilots in 2008.

Times of India

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India Out Of The Loop On Af-Pak

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

India Out Of The Loop On Af-Pak

Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN

WASHINGTON: The atmospherics are good but the ground realities are unfavourable. India is struggling to stay relevant and advance its geo-political equities with the United States at a time Washington is buffeted by domestic pressures and international crises that are undercutting its resolve to put ties with New Delhi on a higher plane.

Good intentions, broad agenda, and packed schedules notwithstanding, Indian diplomatic foray into Washington this week was notable for gripes and grievances than any significant advancement towards the stated goal of achieving a strategic relationship with the US, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao had a series of meetings on Tuesday, including a drop-in by secretary of state Hillary Clinton at a state department meeting with her counterpart William Burns, but in the end there was no meeting of minds on the most fundamental security issue of the times.

India and US disagree on Afghanistan and Pakistan. That much became clear towards the end of the foreign secretary’s visit although elaboration on this issue was foiled by the cancellation of Rao’s wrap-up press meet (Indian Embassy said she was unwell).

At a time when Washington is searching for an exit strategy from the Af-Pak region, a statement released at the end of her visit (in lieu of the cancelled press conference) tersely noted that “she (Rao) reiterated India’s long-held position that it was important for the international community to stay the present course in Afghanistan for as long as it is necessary.” The international community on the other hand wants to get the hell out of Afghanistan — yesterday.

There were other unresolved issues. Rao’s engagement was also partly torpedoed by the withdrawal by the government of the nuclear liability bill in Parliament hours after her arrival here. As a result, there was little progress on tying up loose ends of the civilian nuclear deal including an agreement on reprocessing although there were brave words about the deal being on track and on schedule.

Most notably, on the issue of high-tech cooperation, the Indian side was still pleading for removal of some its organizations from the so-called Entities List, seven years after the establishment of the group. “The Indian side requested the US department of commerce to review US export controls applicable to India and update them to bring them in keeping with the changed political realities that contextualize India-US strategic partnership today,” the concluding statement said.

To say India has become a mere sideshow in Washington would be overstating it (besides meeting Clinton, Rao also called on the NSA Jim Jones and two key lawmakers on a day Washington was awash with the health care issue and the US-Israel spat). There were important advances in bilateral matters, including setting the stage for external affairs minister S M Krishna’s visit to Washington shortly leading in turn to President Obama’s visit to New Delhi later this year.

But on the Af-Pak issue, India is clearly out of the loop. Pakistan is again the new game in town. Even as the Indian foreign secretary made the rounds of a capital in political and legislative ferment (over the health care bill), diplomatic corridors were abuzz with Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s own outreach to the Taliban through his brothers and Pakistan’s effort to impose itself on that engagement.

Rao meanwhile was telling think-tankers that Taliban remained untouchables for New Delhi. India’s gripe about US arms to Pakistan also went largely unaddressed. In fact, even as Rao was complaining about the potential use by Pakistan of US-supplied weapons against India, Washington had delivered from its base in Jordan a squadron of 14 AH-1 Cobra advanced helicopter gunships to Pakistan.

Times of India

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After massive Foreign Policy failure Delhi needs new strategy

March 18, 2010 1 comment

After massive Foreign Policy failure Delhi needs new strategy

Bharati diplomacy is at a stalemate. It cannot win for losing. It has tried the sabotage Pakistan–trying to force it to cry Uncle strategy. Its support for the TTP, and the BlA has has turned world opinion against Delhi. It tried to muscle in to Tajikistan–and had to face reversals after China and even Russia asked them to leave. Delhi then tried to dump Karzai and support Abdullah Abdullah–something that backfired in a big way. Now Karzai is firmly in the Pakistan camp. Delhi then tried to ego massage the Saudis into getting a role in Afghanistan. They faced a No-bid in Riyadh. Even the Putin card failed when, when an embarrassed host had to hear Putin eulogize Pakistan–in Delhi. It strategy to bifurcate Afghanistan have been exposed. India using ‘aid’ to Kabul- to split Afghanistan

Ashok Mehta in the Daily Pioneer describes the political topography succinctly.

By acknowledging Pakistan’s pivotal role in peace and stability in Afghanistan, and downgrading India’s importance, Mr Karzai has made a dramatic turnaround from the days he refused to shake hands with President Pervez Musharraf. On a visit to Islamabad last week he described India “as a close friend of Afghanistan but Pakistan is a brother of Afghanistan. Pakistan is a twin brother. We are conjoined twins. There is no separation”. He has realised that without the Generals in Pakistan, there can be no reconciliation with the Taliban. Further in Islamabad he emphasised Afghanistan’s neutrality and stressed he did not want proxy wars between India and Pakistan and the US and Iran.

It now obvious that the geo strategic location of Pakistan has made it an important ally for America in Afghanistan. The pugnacious Pakistanis are playing their cards well in the face of horrible odds. The tripartite agreement with Iran and Afghanistan gave them leverage to impact the Regional Conference in Istanbul–which enabled them to get a sane resolution at the London Conference on Afghanistan. Indian presence in Afghanistan is history!

After the London Conference, both the US-led coalition and Afghanistan have put all their eggs in the Pakistani basket. What is not clear is US intention: Cut and run or stay the course beyond 2012. For the present it seems mid-2011 is only the time line for thinning out to commence and not any upstick of forces. A process of handing-taking over will start, based on a flexible transition timetable, commensurate with political and military capacity-building as well as development. In other words, a sequential transfer of authority to the Afghan Government, including ownership of the peace process.

Shaping up are two scenarios: A Karzai-led inclusive Government; a Taliban-led or dominated regime. Pakistan’s flag flies higher than India’s in Afghanistan. India’s stature has diminished due to a number of reasons: Rejection of its passionate advocacy that talking to Taliban is like frying snowflakes; not being consulted on AfPak; not invited to the Istanbul Conference and being sidelined at the London Conference. The final blow was the deadly third targeted attack last month against Indian interests in Kabul in which, among others, three Army Majors teaching English to the Afghan Army were killed. India diminished in Afghanistan, Ashok K Mehta. The Daily Pioneer.

What Fareed Zakaria describes as the success of Obama’s Afghanistan-Pakistan policy is actually the Pakistani policy from the very start. In 2001 the Pakistanis told the Americans not to attack Pakistan and bring about a regime change with the moderate Taliban. That sane advice was ignored. America after banging its head for a decade clearly realizes that victory in Afghanistan is very much dependent on the cooperation of Pakistan. It was hard to get through the American tin ear. It took a decade of body bags going back on C-130s for Washington to see things clearly. The Pakistanis have finally been able to influence American policies  and bring them in line with their strategic interests. Therefore the apparent indifference by the US towards Indian concerns as displayed by the uncharitable remarks of Holbrooke. India is hamstring by these realities, as well as overplaying its cards in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Things are worse for a variety of reasons. Bharat’s  foreign policy mandarins should have carried out a cost-benefit analysis regarding the Afghan mission and adopt a hard headed approach based on withdrawal. However Bharat has been unable to change its course

Chidanand Rjghatta has written an article in Times of India about Bharati (aka Indian) problems with the US. it describes the problems between the US and Bharat. India’s brilliant blunder in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON: The atmospherics are good but the ground realities are unfavourable. India is struggling to stay relevant and advance its geo-political equities with the United States at a time Washington is buffeted by domestic pressures and international crises that are undercutting its resolve to put ties with New Delhi on a higher plane. India out of the loop on Af-Pak,Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN, Mar 18, 2010, 01.13am IST

There is ample evidence, in this Post London Conference that Bharat is having a tough time selling its Anti-Pakistan agenda, which also proposes to bifurcate Afghanistan into Pakhutn and Non-Pakhtun mini-states. Bharat hopes that it will be able to influence the Non-Pakhtun state a bit better. Its entire aid package is built around its own strategic interests which aim to create new roads, and access to Central Asia via the Iranian port of Chahbahar. Bharat cares two hoots about Afghans–all it wants is Bharati goods to reach the markets of Europe and Central Asia. Wall Street’s role in the Indo-U.S. relationship.

Good intentions, broad agenda, and packed schedules notwithstanding, Indian diplomatic foray into Washington this week was notable for gripes and grievances than any significant advancement towards the stated goal of achieving a strategic relationship with the US, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao had a series of meetings on Tuesday, including a drop-in by secretary of state Hillary Clinton at a state department meeting with her counterpart William Burns, but in the end there was no meeting of minds on the most fundamental security issue of the times. India out of the loop on Af-Pak, Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN, Mar 18, 2010, 01.13am IST

The Bharati press is full of gripes about the USA. Fake encounters, and false flags were used to malign Pakistan. Delhi even tried to play the Putin card. Nothing seems to working for the Bharati policy makers.

Rajghatta is behind the times. Using words that have fallen into disrepute shows, that Bharat is still parked in Bushland. Delhi has not realized that Bush is no longer president and the “build India as a counterweight to China” has been sent to the dustbin of history. Rajghatta still wants to use the term Af-Pak, a term hated by both Pakistan and Afghanistan. However Chidanand is right about the fact that the USA and Britain want to get out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible.

India and US disagree on Afghanistan and Pakistan. That much became clear towards the end of the foreign secretary’s visit although elaboration on this issue was foiled by the cancellation of Rao’s wrap-up press meet (Indian Embassy said she was unwell).

At a time when Washington is searching for an exit strategy from the Af-Pak region, a statement released at the end of her visit (in lieu of the cancelled press conference) tersely noted that “she (Rao) reiterated India’s long-held position that it was important for the international community to stay the present course in Afghanistan for as long as it is necessary.” The international community on the other hand wants to get the hell out of Afghanistan — yesterday. Chidanand Rajghatta

One of the biggest hurdles in the US-Bharati relationship is the non-operationalization of the 123-Nuclear deal which languishes on a backburner in Washington.

There were other unresolved issues. Rao’s engagement was also partly torpedoed by the withdrawal by the government of the nuclear liability bill in Parliament hours after her arrival here. As a result, there was little progress on tying up loose ends of the civilian nuclear deal including an agreement on reprocessing although there were brave words about the deal being on track and on schedule. Chidanand Rajghatta

Bharati companies are still on the export control list. Delhi is struggling to get them removed without much luck.

Most notably, on the issue of high-tech cooperation, the Indian side was still pleading for removal of some its organizations from the so-called Entities List, seven years after the establishment of the group. “The Indian side requested the US department of commerce to review US export controls applicable to India and update them to bring them in keeping with the changed political realities that contextualize India-US strategic partnership today,” the concluding statement said…But on the Af-Pak issue, India is clearly out of the loop. Pakistan is again the new game in town. Chidanand Rajghatta

Seema Mustafa has written a prodigiously effulgent article on the malaise of that Bharat (aka India) finds itself in. She writes of Buzz Express–and Indian news outlet. She clearly identifies the reasons for Delhi’s failure and provides a few pointers on new directions in Bharati foreign policy.

Pakistan is America’s strategic ally for Afghanistan to the point where India has been isolated. India, however, continues to strive to hold on to its few assets in Afghanistan in a bid to foil Islamabad’s plans to control Kabul, politically and strategically if and when the Americans manage to execute their exit policy. The attack on the guesthouse in Kabul that is a favourite with visiting Indians was a clear indication that their safety and security is now at high risk. And that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is not just incapable but also unwilling to ensure that all Indians working and living in Kabul are given adequate protection.

Bharat was also unable to make its case on not supplying arms to Islamabad. In fact Washington gifted a squadron of Cobras while Ms. Rao was making the rounds in Washington.

Rao meanwhile was telling think-tankers that Taliban remained untouchables for New Delhi. India’s gripe about US arms to Pakistan also went largely unaddressed. In fact, even as Rao was complaining about the potential use by Pakistan of US-supplied weapons against India, Washington had delivered from its base in Jordan a squadron of 14 AH-1 Cobra advanced helicopter gunships to Pakistan. Chidanand Rajghatta

Seema Mustafa correctly identifies the fact that Kabul, in fact all of Afghanistan is inhospitable for Bharatis.

It is apparent from the few leaked stories that are now appearing in the media that national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon returned from his visit to Kabul with the distinct impression that Indians there are no longer secure. The government seems to be seriously contemplating reducing the strength of missions in Kabul, and recalling soft targets like doctors and others. It is clear that the decision to send paramilitary forces for the protection of Indians in Afghanistan is not a foolproof arrangement against suicide bombers, and the issue of security will remain wide open.

Like Rajghatta Seema Mustafa laments about Washington, about Mr. Karzai, and about the failure of Bharati policies.

Pakistan has been urging the US to put pressure on India so that it closes its consulates in Afghanistan and curtails its presence in that country. New Delhi refused to succumb to the pressure but clearly now the threat of violence and the lukewarm response of the Karzai government is forcing a decision that does not serve Indian interests in the long run. But the choice is difficult and the government cannot be blamed for whittling down its presence in the violence torn country. Seema Mustafa

Ms. Mustafa complains about Pakistan not wanting to continue talks. The fact remains that it is Delhi that wants talks for the sake of talks–and like a broken record and a bad CD is stuck on the false flag of Mumbai. Bharat has overplayed its hand with the TTP–and now faces world approbation in the form of snubs in London and Washington. Bharati analysts do not realize that they are are barking up the wrong tree. The world is not interested in carping about Mumbai. They see the carnage in Lahore, and suspect Bharat.

The point however, is that Pakistan has decided not to continue talks with India and to keep the hostilities alive so that it does not have to shift the troops from the borders with India into ongoing operations along the Pakistan-Afghan border. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s willingness to talk despite the odds has been interpreted by Islamabad as weakness, and the anti-India cacophony has only intensified as a result.

The hardening of Pakistan policy is evident from this, as well as its decision to parade anti-India jihadi groups on Kashmir Solidarity Day all over that country, and its decision to invite the hardline Kashmiri separatists to visit Pakistan. Islamabad has decided to recognise only the Geelani faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, ignoring the more moderate voice of Mirwaiz Omar Farooq. It has also sought to create a new leadership that can replace the ageing and ailing Geelani, with two new invitees — the rabid Asiya of the Dukhtaran-e-Millat and Adbul Qayum of the Kashmir Bar Council. Seema Mustafa

The malaise in the Bharati foreign policy is evident for all to see. Every analyst worth his or her salt can see the failure. Ms. Mustafa simply consecrates the obvious. Ambassador Bhadrakumar says the same—Delhi lacks the self correcting mechanism to pull itself out of the hole it has dug itself into.

New Delhi seems to be bereft of strategy as the visit of Menon to Kabul suggests. His agenda should have been to get Karzai back on track but clearly he either did not even venture into this territory but this is hard to believe, or he just did not meet with any success. The last seems more likely as Karzai who was always vocal in criticising Pakistan, is now Islamabad’s friend and has moved quite a distance away from India.

The result of what could well be a complete diplomatic misadventure is that India will have a Taliban government sitting in Kabul … The question is not of a good or bad Taliban as everyone knows it is of a pliable and rigid Taliban. And the bad might be present in large numbers in the ‘pliable’ that Pakistan is trying to get to form a government in Kabul. The choices before India are now very few, as the strategists in government should have seen this coming but obviously were too arrogant or blind to sense it. Instead of opening all links with the remnants of the Northern Alliance, the war lords and even sections of the Taliban, Indian foreign policy focused for several years only on the nuclear deal with the US, and the dialogue with Pakistan. Afghanistan was handled in a totally kick jerk fashion and now that New Delhi is waking up to the reality it finds itself pretty much on the periphery with insignificant say in developments in the region. Seema Mustafa

Bharat is packing its bags in Afghanistan. It has had a good run of a decade. Now its time to get the soldiers, and the spies out of Kabul and back to Delhi.

Indian nationals have become the target of the Taliban, which is not fighting the US in the same manner as al-Qaeda. New Delhi does not have the support it needs to protect them, and this has been pretty much made clear to the government here. US envoy Richard Holbrooke’s first comment after the terror attack in Kabul that Indians were not the intended target is a striking example of the US disinterest, and although he retracted later, the message had come through with all its implications. This is adding to muscle-flexing in Islamabad with its foreign minister and prime minister making statements that just do not compliment politicians of their seniority.

This has to stop. And it is time that the PMO, MEA and MHA sat down in strategy sessions, invited strategic experts who necessarily do not see eye to eye with the government, and worked out a strategy for the region that could help India handle Afghanistan and Pakistan from a position of strength and not weakness. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must allow foreign policy and decision making to come back to India from Washington, and evolve a strategy that furthers Indian and not American interests. Seema MustafaFirst Published : 18 Mar 2010 11:42:00 PM IST Seema Mustafa is a commentator on political affairs.

A seminal article that describes the pickle Bharat finds itself in. Here is an excerpt from that article.

If Delhi failed to anticipate this shift in Karzai’s order of priorities, it has only itself to blame. Thus, even in the face of impending realignments in the Afghan political and military situation that were obvious to most perceptive foreign observers, Delhi kept up the presence of a few thousands Indians in Afghanistan whose security becomes now almost entirely its responsibility to shoulder.

The malaise of the Bharati foreign policy in Afghanistan and beyond is defined below.

In retrospect, Delhi’s hare-brained idea of a US-led “quadripartite alliance” against China, the “Tibet card”, the dilution of a 2003 strategic understanding with Iran, neglect of the traditional friendship with Russia, the lukewarm attitude toward the SCO, exaggerated notions within the establishment regarding the US-India strategic partnership as an alternative to an independent foreign policy and diversified external relationships – all these appear now like dreadful pantomimes out of India’s foreign policy chronicle of recent years that Delhi would rather not think about.Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar.

Bharat has consistently aligned itself on the wrong side of history. It opposed SEATO and CENTO. it opposed the US on almost everything, voting against US 95% of the time in the US. It tried to ally itself with one of the most brutal dictators of our time Marshall Tito. It befriended Saddam Husein. It opposed the recognition of China, it opposes the one China policy. It supported the USSR invasion of Afghanistan. FM Jiechi reaffirms China’s support to Pakistan on Kashmir dispute.

Since 2001, instead of playing a positive role in Afghanistan, Delhi used the opportunity to ingratiate itself with the worst druglords on the planet. It opposed the majority of the Pakhtuns and aligned itself with a very small minority of the Afghans. Its biggest blunder was supporting Abdullah Abdullah and opposing Hamid Karzai.Karzai sings a new tune: ‘Pakistan is twin brother’. Mr. Karzai has now totally and unconditionally aligned himself with Pakistan–supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, China, the US and the UK. Accepting Pakistan as a Nuclear state?

Why India cannot attack Pakistan. How could Bharat overcome its defeat. Bharat can do something spectacular so that world opinion changes. Perhaps a false flag attack on a Western capital attributable to the Lashkar, or the assassination of Hamid Karzai using RAW–which is very close to the Afghan president and has access to him. Other possibilities for Bharat may include some provocation to start a war with Pakistan. These are some of the possibilities that Delhi Analysts may be toying with. Rebutting Mr. Sameer Lakwani on Afghanistan

Bharat has to settle its border disputes with all its neighbors–possibly with some loss in ego and territory. Bharat has to fix it colossal cavities with the Dalits, Maoists and the Muslims. Delhi has reinvent itself and move away from sabotaging its neighbors–be it Lanka, Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, China, Bangladesh or Pakistan. Delhi has to form a more perfect union–the current one is not working. Perhaps a looser confederation of fifty states than the current stifling 22 which don’t want to be part of “India”. Bharat has to use its influences in the world in a positive manner–not the detriment of other nations.

Bharat has tremendous potential–but it is a millstone on the neck of Asia–keeping all of South Asia as the only island of penury on the continent. Meagre progress in the last decade has not made it a superpower. Even China shuns that title. It is crazy–and Bharat is incapable of changing. Bharat has to get its citizens to come down to reality and Delhi has to manage expectations. Just because Farid Zakaria calls it great–doesn’t mean that the Gharibabad slums that engulf half of Mumbai have gone away. Bharat is the hungriest nation in South Asia and in the vicinity of Chad on the scale. It however just bought a rust bucket from Russia for more than $2 billion. Is this insanity or what?

Bharat needs a new direction. Is it up to the challenge?

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Raise your price

Ahmed Quraishi

Pakistan has agreed to hand over Afghan Taliban’s number 2, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, to Afghanistan. How about asking for the dismantling of the Afghan-based terror infrastructure targeting Pakistani Balochistan? Though Afghanistan’s role as a base for anti-Pakistan operations over the past seven years seems to be gradually shrinking, it is not completely over yet. The rollback in that role is directly linked to what the US wants. Its recent change of heart regarding Pakistan’s role and legitimate regional security interests are the result of the Pakistani military standing its ground, not any genuine change of heart in US policymaking circles. This is why you did not see any US official jumping in excitement at the idea of the Pakistani military training the Afghan National Army.

So the change in the US position may be tactical, forced by Pakistani straight talk. Examples abound, including how the CIA dragged its feet before it finally began targeting anti-Pakistan terror groups and leaders in the border area. There might have also been some visible decrease in the level of logistical support that the so-called Pakistani Taliban received from the Afghan soil (and not all of it from the proceeds of Afghan Taliban’s drug trade, as Afghan and American officials have been trying to convince their Pakistani counterparts). Pakistani officials are yet to certify this decrease publicly. Granted that Admiral Mike Mullen is someone who genuinely tries to understand Pakistani concerns. And he has been doing his bit with apparent sincerity in the past few months. But there are still some tensions below the surface. A Time magazine story over the weekend tried to delink US connection to the Jundullah terrorist group and throw the entire responsibility at Pakistan, targeting Iranian paranoia by suggesting a Pakistani intelligence support for Jundullah ‘as a tool for strategic depth.’ Enough of the demonization of Pakistan that the US media unfortunately spearheaded over the past three years, apparently through some kind of semi-official patronage. If US officials can bluntly accuse their Pakistani counterparts of sponsoring ‘anti-American articles’ in newspapers, whatever that means, surely Islamabad can pose the same question, especially when Pakistan’s case is stronger.

The same goes for the admirable US nudge to India to resume peace talks with Pakistan. Had things not gone wrong in Afghanistan for the grand US project, Washington was all set to introduce India as the new regional policeman in Afghanistan following the eventual pullback of NATO and US militaries from that country. Pakistan was being pushed to accept this as fait accompli and Mr Zardari’s pro-US government was more than willing to play along. Again, a Pakistani public opinion that is not ready for such a major one-sided Pakistani concession probably threw a spanner in the works.

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir must be commended along with his team for stating the Pakistani bottom line. Forget the US statements on the need for peace between Pakistan and India. The fact is that the US played the two countries against one another in Afghanistan in the past eight years. If Pakistan accepts, a photo-op would work just fine for Washington as it does for New Delhi. We’d be asking too much if we think anyone in New Delhi or Washington is really itching to help Pakistan resolve its grievances with India. It’s just that the regional dynamic is helping us at this point in time.

So let’s make the most out of it while we retain the initiative. Instead of the theatrics, we must ask for something substantial this time. No more prolonged people-to-people exchanges. There is no problem between our peoples. And please, no more equating Pakistan’s responsibility for peace with India’s responsibility. The onus is on India. It is the bigger country. It can change the entire mood in the region by taking small steps to alleviate Pakistani insecurities. It can do so by taking steps in the water dispute, in improving how it treats Pakistani visitors, and by reducing tensions with the Kashmiri people on the ground.

Bottom line: Enough of selling ourselves cheap over the past eight years. Pakistan should secure its interests and accept nothing less.

The writer works for Geo TV. Email: aq@ahmedquraishi.com

Iran Nabs Top NATO Terrorist With Pakistan Help

February 26, 2010 Leave a comment

PakAlertPress

By Webster Tarpley

On Tuesday Feb. 23, Iran announced the capture of Abdulmalek Rigi, the boss of the terror organization Jundullah, which works for NATO. The capture of Rigi represents a serious setback for the US-UK strategy of using false flag state-sponsored terrorism against Iran and Pakistan, and ultimately to sabotage China’s geopolitics of oil. The Iranians claim to have captured Rigi all by themselves, but the Pakistani ambassador to Teheran is quoted in The Dawn as claiming an important role for Pakistan. The Iranians say that Rigi was attempting to fly from Dubai to Kyrgystan, and that his plane was forced to land in Iran by Iranian interceptors. This exploit recalls Oliver North’s 1985 intercept of the accused Achille Lauro perpetrators, including Abu Abbas, forcing their Egyptian plane to land at Sigonella, Sicily. But other and perhaps more realistic versions suggest that Iran was tipped off by the Pakistanis, or even that Rigi was captured by Pakistan and delivered to the Iranians.

Jundullah, otherwise known as the Rigi organization, is a clan-based Mafia organization that has long infested the Iran-Pakistan border. The Rigis are traditionally smugglers and drug pushers of royalist persuasion, and now they have branched out into terrorism. Jundullah is mounting a Sunni rebellion against the Shiite Iranian regime in Iranian Baluchistan. They have blown up a Shiite mosque, killing 25, and managed to kill 50 in a bombing in Pishin last October, where their victims included some top commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, against which Mrs. Clinton has now declared war. There is no doubt that Jundullah is on the US payroll. This fact has been confirmed by Brian Ross of ABC News, the London Daily Telegraph , and by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. Hersh noted that Jundullah has received some of the $400 million appropriated by the US Congress in the most recent Bush-era regime change legislation targeting Iran.

Jundullah is a key part of the US-UK strategy of fomenting ethnic and religious civil war in both Iran and Pakistan. Jundullah is a twofer in this context, since it can help destabilize both sides of the Iran-Pakistan border. Baluchistan has special importance because any oil pipeline linking Iran with China must go straight across Baluchistan. Jundullah’s false flag jihad is a means to make sure that strategic pipeline, which would help solve China’s energy problem, is never built.

There is also no doubt that Jundullah functions as an arm of NATO, a kind of irregular warfare asset similar in some ways to the KLA of Kosovo. Rigi is reported by the Iranians to have met with Jop de Hoop Scheffer when he was NATO Secretary General. Rigi has also met with various NATO generals operating in Afghanistan. Who knows — he may have met with McChrystal himself, a covert ops veteran from Iraq.

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This capture comes at a moment when Baluchistan is the object of intense US-UK exertions. The current US-NATO offensive in southern Afghanistan targets Marjah and the rest of Helmand province, which directly faces Baluchistan. Many observers were puzzled when the US and NATO publicized the Marjah offensive in advance. Militarist talking heads like General Barry McCafferty responded that the main goal of the Marjah offensive was not to destroy the Taliban, but to drive them out of the province. It was thus clear from the beginning that the real goal was to drive the Helmand Taliban fighters into Pakistani Baluchistan. Why?

A statement from the Afghan Taliban covered on the RIA Novosti web site suggests that the real goal of the US-NATO offensive in Marjah-Helmand is to attack Chinese economic interests in Pakistani Baluchistan, and especially the port of Gwadar, one of China’s largest overseas projects. If the US can push the Taliban into Pakistani Baluchistan and into the area around Gwadar, they will have a pretext for militarization ­ perhaps through Blackwater mercenaries, who are already operating massively in Pakistan, or perhaps through direct US military involvement in the zone. US jackboots on the ground in Baluchistan would interfere mightily with Chinese economic development plans. They would also allow the US to commandeer Gwadar as the home port of a new NATO supply line into southern Afghanistan, allowing the avoidance of the Khyber Pass bottleneck. The US could also use Baluchistan as a springboard for bigger and better terror ops into Iran, electronic surveillance of Iranian activities, and so forth.

The US and NATO had evidently planned a double envelopment of Baluchistan, with Taliban fighters from Helmand arriving from the north, while the Jundullah escalated their own activity on the ground. Now that Rigi has joined his brother in Iranian jails, Jundullah has been decapitated, and the NATO strategy has consequently been undermined. Iran has bagged a dangerous terrorist foe. Another winner is Pakistan, where The Dawn celebrated the capture of Rigi as “a godsend” and “a lucky break” for Pakistan. By helping Rigi to fall into Iranian hands, Pakistan may have finally found an effective way to counter the US-UK strategy, which notoriously aims at the breakup and partition of Pakistan. The coming Iranian trial of Rigi may go far towards exposing the real mechanism of terrorism in today’s world, with the CIA sitting in the dock next to Rigi.

Reports of Indians training Baloch dissidents

February 26, 2010 Leave a comment

ISLAMABAD: More than 100 Pakistani Baloch dissidents have been sent to India by the Indian consulate located in Kandahar (Afghanistan) for six-month training, The News learnt here on Friday.

“We have credible reports that the Indian consulate in Kandahar dispatched more than 100 Pakistani Baloch dissidents during the second week of December 2009 for six-month training in India,” an intelligence source told The News on condition of anonymity.

The source said the men sent for training in India were selected from areas bordering Pakistan as well as Baloch nationals residing in different camps in Kandahar maintained under arrangements of the Afghan and Indian intelligence operatives.
“They have been promised a monthly salary of $500-1,000 on their return to Afghanistan,” the source said. “They will be imparted training in the fields of sniper shooting, handling of technical equipment such as GPS,

wireless sets and intelligence gathering techniques,” he added.

The source said they had credible reports that upon completion of training under the Indian trainers, half of the strength of the anti-Pakistan elements would report to Commander Abdul Raziq, in charge of Sarhadi Leva (border police) in Spin Boldak close to Chaman while the remaining strength would be placed under Sarhadi Leva post commander in Shorawak district of Kandahar.

“Our informers have also revealed that the handlers of the dissident Baloch elements plan to assign different targets in Balochistan and Sindh provinces to the trained Baloch militants for sabotage and terrorist activities,” the source said.

When contacted for comments, Lt Gen (retd) Hamid Gul, former director-general of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), said it might not be the first batch of Baloch dissidents sent to India for training.

He said that India, the arch-rival of Pakistan, was supporting the Baloch dissidents for the past many years.

“The Indians are sitting right at our back and initially they deployed nearly 20 intelligence detachments with a fulltime brigadier being in charge of these detachments,” he said, quoting his own sources in Afghanistan.

The RAW network has been operating in Pakistan since long and it is not surprising that they have hired the Baloch dissidents to destabilise Pakistan, the former general stated.

“Ever since the Taliban were ousted from power and foreign troops landed in Afghanistan in late 2001, the Indians have been using the Afghan soil for sabotage and terror acts in Pakistan,” he said.

The News

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