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Pakistan General Dismisses North Waziristan ‘Hype’

Pakistan General Dismisses North Waziristan ‘Hype’

Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik

 

MOHAMAD GAT, Pakistan — A leading Pakistani commander on Wednesday sought to play down “media hype” over the prospect of an imminent military offensive to meet US interests in North Waziristan.

 

In the fallout from Osama bin Laden’s killing, US officials are said to have increased pressure on Pakistan to mount a major offensive in the district, considered the premier Taliban and Al-Qaeda fortress along the Afghan border.

 

Local newspaper The News reported this week that Pakistan had decided to launch a “careful and meticulous” military offensive in North Waziristan after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to Islamabad.

 

But Lieutenant General Asif Yasin Malik, the corps commander supervising all military operations in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told reporters: “We will undertake operation in North Waziristan when we want to.”

 

“There has been a lot of media hype about the operation,” said Malik in the Mohamad Gat area of tribal district Mohmand, where the military flew reporters to show off apparent progress in battles against homegrown Taliban.

 

“I do not operate on press reports. I get orders from my high command,” he said in response to a question.

 

“We will undertake such an operation when it is in our national interest militarily,” the general said, describing North Waziristan as “calm and peaceful as it was weeks ago”.

 

The remote, mountainous region has attracted major interest in the United States as a fiefdom of the Haqqani network, one of its most potent enemies across the border in Afghanistan and thought to have a core of 4,000 fighters.

 

The Al-Qaeda-linked group attacks only across the border in Afghanistan, and is said to have long-standing ties to Pakistan’s intelligence services.

 

Pakistani officials are said to believe they cannot win if they take on its leaders, who command considerable tribal support and are well-armed.

 

Set up by Afghan warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani, the group is loyal to the Taliban and has been blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan, including a suicide bombing in 2009 that killed seven CIA operatives.

 

But asked about the Haqqanis, Malik hit back: “We are misusing the word ‘network’. It does not become a network if four people sit together somewhere.”

 

Instead he said the military was focused on maintaining an already “stable” environment to undertake “developmental activity” in North Waziristan, and confirmed reports that a cadet college in the area had been reopened.

 

The army had closed the college at Razmak after Taliban militants briefly kidnapped 46 students and two staff in June 2009 as they were going home at the start of the summer holidays.

 

In the absence of a Pakistani military offensive, a covert CIA drone war on Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked fighters has been concentrated in North Waziristan, and Western officials say it has dealt a major blow to militant capabilities.

 

But Pakistan is publicly opposed to the drones as a violation of sovereignty and parliament demanded an end to the attacks in the fallout over the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad by US troops.

 

Malik called the programme a “negative thing” that “creates instability and infringes” his relationships with local tribes, and rejected any question of a joint operation with US forces in North Waziristan or anywhere else.

 

Clinton last Friday urged Pakistan to take decisive steps to defeat Al-Qaeda, as she became the most senior US official to visit since US Navy SEALs found and killed bin Laden in the country on May 2.

 

The fact that the Al-Qaeda terror chief had been living in a garrison city just a stone’s throw from Pakistan’s top military academy raised disturbing questions about incompetence or complicity within the armed forces.

 

Under US pressure to crack down on Islamist havens on the Afghan border, Pakistan has been fighting for years against homegrown militants in much of the tribal belt, dubbed a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda.

 

Pakistan has always maintained that any North Waziristan operation would be of its own time and choosing, arguing that its 140,000 troops committed to the northwest are already too overstretched fighting elsewhere.


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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Does “CIA Post In Karachi” Mean Blackwater?

February 23, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON: Pakistan allowed the US Central Intelligence Agency to set up a post in Karachi and the data collected by this post led to the arrest of a key Taliban commander and two ‘governors’, officials said.

Describing this as “a high-level of cooperation between the United States and Pakistan,” The Washington Post reported on Friday that it signalled a major change in Islamabad’s attitude towards the Taliban movement.

This enhanced cooperation between the CIA and the ISI led to the arrests of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Afghan Taliban’s second in command, and two Taliban shadow governors for northern Afghanistan, the report said.

“The ISI and the CIA are working together, with the Americans providing actionable intelligence and the Pakistanis acting together with them” to hunt the insurgency’s leaders, a Pakistani official told the paper.

The Post noted that Pakistan’s decision to aggressively search for Afghan Taliban leadership reflected a shift that had been in the works since autumn last year when US President Barack Obama wrote to President Asif Ali Zardari.

The letter offered additional military and economic assistance and help in easing tensions with India.

The Post noted that with US facilitation, India and Pakistan had agreed to restart their stalled talks. President Obama’s letter also contained a warning that Pakistan’s use of insurgent groups to achieve policy goals would no longer be tolerated.

The arrests of Mullah Baradar and other leaders represented “major progress,” a US intelligence official told the Post. “No one has forgotten Pakistan’s complex history with the Taliban. But they understand how important this is to the United States, the region and to their own security.”

The CIA post in Karachi intercepted communications which were later handed over to ISI officials. The two agencies then planned a joint operation to catch Mullah Baradar and ‘governors’.

Final agreement on the operation came in the last week of January.

The detentions, which have taken place since early last week, were initially kept secret to allow intelligence operatives to use information gleaned from the captured men to reach other militants.

The Post claimed that the arrests offered evidence of something that has long been suspected: Top Afghan Taliban leaders have found refuge across Pakistan, particularly in its cities, something the government long denied.

Coutesy: DAWN

Categories: Afghan War, Afghanistan, Article, Color Revolutions, Conspiracies, Deception, Editorial, Geo-Politics, History, Imperialism, Insurgencies, Intelligence Agencies, International Politics, International Relations, Lies & Deception, Military Strength, Pakistan, Pakistan Army, Regional Affairs, Report, SiyasiPakistan, Strategic Cooperation, Sub-Continent, TALIBAN, U.S.A, US-Pakistan Relations, War, War on Terror, Waziristan Operations, World Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What Robert Gates Didn’t Say – And US Media Hides – About Blackwater In Pakistan

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

PKKH

Two Pakistani employees of an American defense contractor engaged by the US Embassy in Islamabad have been linked to two attacks on Pakistani military and the assassination of a Brigadier. If this is not alarming, then consider that US Ambassador Anne Patterson’s name has come up in an investigation where thousands of dollars were paid in bribes to Interior Ministry to smuggle illegal weapons into Pakistan. Not to mention how Washington is empowering India in Afghanistan at Pakistan’s cost. When Pakistan takes countermeasures, US officials like Mr. Gates and Mr. Holbrooke accuse Pakistan of ‘anti-Americanism’ and harassing US diplomats. Time for some straight talk.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—US Defense Secretary Robert Gates admitted during an interview with a Pakistani TV station that Blackwater [now ‘Xe International’] and DynCorp are operating in Pakistan. Immediately after the statement, Pentagon tried to put a spin on his words.

But US meddling inside Pakistan –by posting private US defense contractors under diplomatic cover of the US embassy – is a reality for most Pakistanis. Some of these Americans have been caught disguised as Taliban right in the heart of Islamabad. Some Pakistanis were manhandled by some of these American militiamen on the streets of at least two Pakistani cities in recent months. Since Pakistan is not Iraq or Afghanistan despite all the US direct and indirect misinformation, these US covert operators were arrested on several occasions.

The mainstream US media continues to keep the good American people and the world opinion in the dark about this. But this is probably one of the biggest untold stories in America’s war on terror. This is about United States trying to put boots on the ground inside Pakistan through the help of a pro-US government in Islamabad that shares [or at least key figures in it] the US objective of containing and limiting the ability of Pakistan’s military to influence the country’s foreign policy. This is about Pakistan wanting to keep an independent foreign policy versus Pakistan blindly serving US policy on Afghanistan, India and China.

Mr. Gates tried to put a gloss on this US covert meddling when he said, ‘Well, they’re [Blackwater and DynCorp] operating as individual companies here in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and in Iraq.’

Not true. The truth is that the issue is so serious that, according to Pakistani investigators, US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson is a suspect in a case of bribes amounting to little over US $ 270,000 paid by DynCorp in 2009 to senior officials at the federal Interior Ministry in Pakistan. The money went in exchange for allowing illegal weapons into Pakistan to be used by private US defense contractors without informing the country’s security departments and intelligence agencies. Ms. Patterson personally lobbied Pakistani officials for this concession to DynCorp. She even wrote a letter to Pakistani officials, followed by a letter by her Deputy Head of Mission Mr. Gerald Feierstein, asking Pakistani Interior Ministry officials to issue permits for weapons to be used by DynCorp in the ‘entire territory of Pakistan.’ The US ambassador is directly linked to the probe, which has resulted in the arrest of a key aide to Pakistan’s Minister of State for the Interior. But the government of President Zardari will not dare allow Pakistani investigators to pursue US Ambassador’s role in the scandal.

A key question in the probe is how the US Embassy and DynCorp allowed the cargo of illegal weapons into Pakistan. According to one lead, a huge cache of weapons reached a Pakistani tribal leader on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, who in turn wrote to the Interior Ministry announcing he was ‘gifting’ the weapons to a Pakistani subcontractor of DynCorp.

Incidents like this and others raised alarm bells inside Pakistani security departments and the intelligence community. In effect, key figures in President Zardari’s government were found to have given approval for the entry of a large number of US citizens into Pakistan for ‘official US government business’ without explaining what that is. When Pakistani authorities tried to get to the bottom of how private US defense contractors ended up inside Pakistan in large numbers and what they were exactly doing here, US officials and media launched what appears to be a media trial of Pakistan, accusing the country of ‘harassing’ US diplomats and denying visas to them because of alleged anti-Americanism.

The unwillingness of the Zardari government to confront Washington and Pakistan’s generally weak media outreach skills allowed Washington to pain this as a case of anti-Americanism fueled by war on terror.

‘Conspiracy theories’ is another label that US officials and media have increasingly used recently as a cover to hide serious violations of diplomatic norms and sovereignty involving undercover private US operatives inside Pakistan. This is how the Wall Street Journal tried to delegitimize serious Pakistani concerns raised during Mr. Gates’ visit in a report filed from Islamabad whose opening line read as follows, “U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is overseeing wars with Sunni militants in Iraq and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, he’s facing a different foe: the pervasive conspiracy theories that fuel widespread anti-American feelings here.”

The truth is that there are no conspiracy theories but real events, reported and documented, that raise questions over US political, diplomtic, and covert meddling inside Pakistan. Here is a list:

1. NUCLEAR ESPIONAGE: In July 2009, four US ‘diplomats’ were arrested inside the maximum security perimeter around Pakistan’s premier nuclear facility at Kahuta. They failed to tell Pakistani investigators what they were doing there and how they managed to slip through the security checkpoints in the area. US Embassy intervened to rescue the four ‘diplomats’ after almost three hours in detention, citing diplomatic immunity. President Zardari’s government refused to let Pakistani security authorities press charges.

2. SUSPICIOUS CONDUCT: On Oct. 6, 2009, Pakistani police arrested two Dutch diplomats roaming the streets of Islamabad without a number plate carrying advanced weapons. Pakistani police were surprised when security personnel from the US Embassy reached the scene to rescue the Dutch. The Americans used their contacts within the Zardari government to get everyone released. Later, Pakistan Foreign Office summoned US and Dutch diplomats for a private meeting over the incident. But the Pakistani government refused to demand a public explanation from US and Dutch diplomats despite recommendations from police and security officials.

3. FACILITATING INDIAN ACTIVITIES: In this high profile case in May 2009, a US diplomat arranged a small meeting between an Indian diplomat and several senior Pakistani federal government officials at a private house. The invited Pakistanis worked in civilian positions, including one with access to Prime Minister’s Office. It appeared that the US diplomat was basically facilitating the Indian to meet senior officials who otherwise would be inaccessible for him. Pakistan Foreign Office took serious exception to the meeting, publicly reprimanded the Pakistani officials who attended the meeting but stopped short of seeking explanation from the US embassy. According to Pakistani investigators, for a US diplomat to indulge in facilitating possible espionage linked to an Indian diplomat was a matter of grave concern. It also fitted with the US policy of exercising tremendous pressure on the pro-US government in Islamabad to give concessions to India at the expense of Pakistani strategic interests.

4. COVERT US MILITIAS IN THE HEART OF PAKISTAN: In September 2009, undercover US agents were found to have recruited a total of 100 former elite Pakistani military commandos to create rapid-intervention teams for unknown purposes. A 100 more were under training at a secret facility camouflaged as a workshop on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital when it was raided by Pakistani police. It turned out that DynCorp was training the men. US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson brought DynCorp to Pakistan by telling Pakistani officials that the private defense contractor would provide security to embassy buildings. But she never explained why DynCorp was secretly raising private militias on Pakistani soil without informing the Pakistani government or military or the intelligence agencies. Some of those who were under training at the time of the raid said that DynCorp focused on recruiting retired officers who had links and contacts within the Pakistani military and could glean information from their sources. [See video and pictures]

5. PUSHY US DIPLOMATS: The US Embassy in Islamabad has made it its business to mount pressure on owners of Pakistani newspapers to curtail or expel columnists and commentators critical of US policy. Of special target are those who expose how US Embassy is meddling in Pakistani affairs and expanding the US footprint inside Pakistan. Last year, Ambassador Patterson sent a letter to one of the largest Pakistani media groups accusing a columnist of endangering American lives and succeeded in pushing her out. The US Embassy is also recruiting opinion makers within the Pakistani media, academia and military in order to promote the US agenda even at the cost of Pakistani interests, dismissing critics as ‘conspiracy theorists’ and accusing them of anti-Americanism. A senior Pakistani journalist Syed Talat Hussain exposed US activities in the following words, “Pro-American lobby in Pakistan is growing in direct proportion to the scaling up of suspicions about the US. The main task of this lobby is to reduce the complexity of the US’s objectives towards Pakistan to romantic levels of trust (…) A motley crew of former diplomats, retired generals, socialites, slick civil society begums, self-styled analysts, businessmen, journalists, and now also lawyers — they are the darlings of the US embassy staff. They are the instruments of positive outreach and public diplomacy that US diplomats are so keen to expand in Pakistan.”

6. HARASSING PAKISTANIS: Private US security contractors, or militiamen, have been involved in at least three incidents registered by the Pakistani police where armed Americans physically assaulted unarmed ordinary Pakistanis in public places. In one case, the nephew of a senior member of President Zardari’s own government was manhandled and locked up in the toilet of a gas station by men described as armed military-looking civilian Americans.

7. RESISTING POLICE CHECKS: In at least five incidents, US ‘diplomats’ disguised as Taliban, complete with beards and Pashto language skills, were stopped at several police checkpoints in Islamabad and Peshawar. In some cases, these American ‘diplomats’ tried to speed through police barriers. In one recent case, this resulted in a brief police chase, where a Pakistani officer dragged the US ‘diplomats’ back to the police picket and forced the Americans to apologize to Pakistani police officers. Again, no charges were pressed because these private US agents carried diplomatic passports.

8. ENGINEEING DOMESTIC POLITICS: As recently as December 2009, US ambassador in Islamabad was found meeting senior Pakistani politicians at private homes of mutual friends in unannounced meetings restricted to 3 to 4 persons. The ambassador asked her guests to publicly support the embattled pro-US President Zardari. US diplomats in Islamabad and officials in Washington have been blatantly interfering in Pakistani politics. In addition to helping form the incumbent coalition government in Islamabad, made up of pro-US parties, US officials have been busy trying to save both Mr. Zardari and his key political adviser and ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani. US officials in Washington have been briefing sympathetic US journalists about this. In one case, columnist Trudy Rubin had this to say while discussing Pakistan in an article published last month: “Here is the first piece of good news: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari seems to have weathered a campaign by opponents, including the military, to force him out of office. Zardari has deep flaws, but his ouster would have hampered efforts to fight the jihadis. So would the removal, now averted, of Pakistan’s effective ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, whom the Pakistani military had unfairly blamed for conditions that Congress imposed on aid to Pakistan.”

9. BRIBES AND ILLEGAL WEAPONS: This case is stunning because of the direct involvement of US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson in lobbying for DynCorp. The company ended up bribing Interior Ministry officials to smuggle banned weapons into Pakistan and then went on to raise private militias and hire retired Pakistani military officers to run rapid deployment teams and possibly even spy on the Pakistani military.

10. DEMONIZATION OF PAKISTAN: Since 2007, US officials and US media has systematically demonized Pakistan worldwide, creating false alarm over Pakistan’s strategic arsenal. US officials and media have also pushed to bracket Pakistan along with Iraq and Afghanistan in order to justify a possible military intervention. When Pakistan resisted US meddling recently, US media again went on rampage, accusing Pakistan of ‘anti-Americanism’ and harassment of US diplomats. Additionally, there has been a marked increase of lectures and studies by US think-tanks inviting unknown separatist individuals and groups to speak and fan ethnic separatism inside Pakistan and theorize on the breakup of the country.

11. ABETTING TERROR INSIDE PAKISTAN: The suspicions about why DynCorp was secretly raising private militias inside the federal Pakistani capital almost turned real when a suspect in the attack on the Pakistani military headquarters in October 2009 was allegedly found to have been recruited by Dyna Corp. In a second case, another suspected DynCorp recruit was found involved in assassinating a senior Pakistani military officer as he drove to work. In other words, two Pakistani employees of a US defense contractor engaged by the US embassy have been linked to two terrorist attacks on the Pakistani military. Add to this that Pakistan’s military and intelligence are a favorite punching bag for the United States and its allies, like India and Britain, and the picture of what the US is doing in Pakistan becomes even more disturbing.

These points explain how ill-motivated the US complaints about delaying visas and alleged anti-Americanism in Pakistan are. This is what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mr. Holbrooke and Mr. Gates are loath to share with the American people and the world public opinion.

Categories: Afghan War, Afghanistan, Article, Asia-Pacific, biased media, Clash of Civilization, Color Revolutions, Conspiracies, Deception, defence, disputes, Editorial, Geo-Politics, History, Imperialism, Insurgencies, Intelligence Agencies, International Politics, International Relations, Lies & Deception, Military Strength, Pakistan, Pakistan Army, PKKH, Regional Affairs, Report, SiyasiPakistan, South Asia, Strategic Cooperation, TALIBAN, Think-Tanks, U.S.A, War, War on Terror, Waziristan Operations, World Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

US-Hikmatyar peace deal brokered by Pakistan

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

RupeeNews

KABUL—One of the three main leaders of the Afghan insurgency, mercurial warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has a long history of switching sides, and once fought against his current Taliban allies.

Now, he has held out the possibility of negotiating with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and outlined a roadmap for political reconciliation, opening what could be the most promising avenue for Mr. Karzai’s effort to peacefully resolve the conflict.

It is far from certain that any talks with Mr. Hekmatyar will begin, let alone succeed. But in contrast to Taliban leader Mullah Omar and allied insurgent chief Sirajuddin Haqqani, who refuse any talks with Kabul as long as foreign troops remain in the country, Mr. Hekmatyar took a much more conciliatory line in a recent video.

“We have no agreement with the Taliban—not for fighting the war, and not for the peace,” said Mr. Hekmatyar, who commands the loyalty of thousands of insurgents. “The only thing that unites the Taliban and [us] is the war against the foreigners.”

Unlike in previous videos, where Mr. Hekmatyar used a Kalashnikov rifle as a prop and expressed support for al Qaeda, in the latest tape, recorded in late December and provided to The Wall Street Journal by his aides in Pakistan, he assumed a professorial tone, wearing glasses and a black turban as he spoke in a quiet, soft voice.

Mr. Hekmatyar, who is 59 years old and lived in exile in Iran when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, built his movement over the last three years into a formidable force. His men dominate the insurgency in several eastern and central Afghan provinces, such as Kunar, Laghman and Kapisa, according to American intelligence estimates.

At the same time, a legal wing of Hizb-e-Islami, an Islamist party that Mr. Hekmatyar founded in the 1970s, participates in the Afghan parliament, with 19 of 246 seats. One of its leaders is minister of the economy in Mr. Karzai’s new cabinet. Though the legal Hizb-e-Islami denies formal links with Mr. Hekmatyar, many of its senior members are believed to maintain communications with the grizzled warlord, and openly support the idea of bringing him into the government.

Mr. Hekmatyar’s “reported willingness to reconcile with the Afghan government” has already become a key factor working against the militancy because it “causes concern that others may follow,” the U.S.-led international forces’ intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, noted in a recent presentation. In addition to subtracting fighters from the battlefield, such a reconciliation would boost the legitimacy of the Kabul government.

Currently, fighters of the three main groups—Mullah Omar’s Taliban in the south, where the bulk of combat takes place, the Haqqani network in the southeast, and Mr. Hekmatyar’s men in its strongholds—cooperate with each other, at least on the tactical level, American intelligence officials say.

But, while Mr. Haqqani made a formal oath of allegiance to Mullah Omar, recognizing him as his overall leader, Mr. Hekmatyar repeatedly refused to make such a pledge. In the tape, he said he spent “a couple of months” with Mullah Omar and al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahri in 2002, but insisted that he “had no direct or indirect contact with them since then.”

He also said that the main reason he’s fighting American forces is because the U.S. allied itself with his bitter Afghan enemies after the Taliban’s downfall in 2001.

“It’s just a convenience for Hekmatyar to be with the Taliban,” says Marc Sageman, a terrorism expert who, as a Central Intelligence Agency officer in Pakistan, worked with Afghan insurgent leaders in the late 1980s. “Hekmatyar’s main goal is Hekmatyar. He’ll do anything that will help him out—it all depends on the deal he’s going to get.”

In the tape, Mr. Hekmatyar outlined his political program, calling for elections under a neutral caretaker government once U.S.-led forces withdraw, predicting that Hezb-i-Islami will win 70% of the votes, and saying that he would accept an impartial international peacekeeping force. While the Taliban brand Mr. Karzai a traitor, Mr. Hekmatyar promised to support the Afghan president should he stop being subservient to his American backers.

“Negotiations with the Afghan government will not be fruitful unless the foreigners give the Afghan government the authority to start negotiations independently—but unfortunately it has not been given this authority yet,” Mr. Hekmatyar said in the tape.

Similar overtures by Mr. Hekmatyar in recent months failed to produce any breakthrough. And, while some Afghan and American officials have already explored indirect contacts with Mr. Hekmatyar, the U.S. government so far refuses to make a meaningful distinction between him and the two other man insurgent chiefs.

“Each one has a different origin and orientation,” says Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. “But all work together and are linked to al Qaeda.”

A Pashtun former engineering student from the northern Kunduz province, Mr. Hekmatyar started out in politics as a pro-Soviet Communist. He embraced pan-Islamist ideology in the 1970s, and famously refused to meet President Ronald Reagan even as the U.S. was pumping millions of dollars into his guerrilla movement through the Pakistani intelligence in the 1980s.

After the pro-Soviet regime collapsed in 1992, Mr. Hekmatyar reduced large parts of Kabul to rubble as he fought rival mujahedeen commanders for control of the capital, and briefly served as the nation’s prime minister. Once Pakistan switched its support to the nascent Taliban movement in the mid-1990s, Mr. Hekmatyar was chased out by the Taliban, and had to seek refuge in Iran.

After the U.S. overthrew the Taliban in 2001, it excluded the warlord—who was seen as a spent force—from the new Kabul government. In the following months, as an embittered Mr. Hekmatyar started voicing support for the Taliban and al Qaeda, he was expelled by Iran, and was nearly killed by a U.S. airstrike. In 2003, Mr. Hekmatyar was designated a terrorist by the U.S. and put on the United Nations blacklist alongside Mullah Omar and Mr. bin Laden.

These days, some American officials say, Mr. Hekmatyar has managed to rebuild his fortunes in part because of help from elements of the powerful Pakistani spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. Mr. Hekmatyar’s movement uses the area around the Pakistani city of Peshawar, with its teeming Afghan refugee camps, as its logistics hub. His daughter and son-in-law reside in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. Pakistan denies it is giving any aid to the Taliban or its insurgent allies.

“Hekmatyar could be turned if the ISI wanted him to be turned,” says Bruce Riedel, a Brooking Institution scholar and former senior CIA officer who oversaw President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan and Pakistan policy review last year. “He is too closely tied to them to operate for us without their okay.” ASIA NEWS JANUARY 21, 2010 Afghan Insurgent Outlines Peace Plan. By YAROSLAV TROFIMOV

Write to Yaroslav Trofimov at yaroslav.trofimov@wsj.com

Categories: Afghan War, Afghanistan, Article, Asia-Pacific, Editorial, Geo-Politics, History, Imperialism, Insurgencies, Intelligence Agencies, International Politics, International Relations, NATO, PakAlert, Pakistan, Pakistan Army, Regional Affairs, Report, SiyasiPakistan, South Asia, TALIBAN, U.S.A, War, War on Terror, Waziristan Operations, World Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pakistan to US: Are You With Us Or Against Us?

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

PKKH Editorial

The tide has shifted dramatically in recent years. Resurgent Afghan Taliban, better armed, trained, and deadly effective, now have control over 80% of Afghan territory. There has been a significant increase in offensive targetting of US and NATO bases and Afghan government officials and buildings in the last couple of years, with even Kabul coming under increasing pressure.

On the other side of the border, the CIA and Indian supported TTP has been getting a hiding at the hands of Pakistan’s armed forces with even the US and NATO stunned at the efficiency and success of the army operations against TTP militants in Swat and South Waziristan. For the first time in 8 years, Pakistan now has the upper hand and has started to dictate terms to the US, starting last week with the rejection of US request to extend the operation to North Waziristan where Jalaluddin Haqqani’s faction allegedly operates from. Anticipating an imminent turnaround in Pakistan’s Afghan policy and fearing the US supply lines into Afghanistan may come under pressure, the US immediately sought to pacify the Pakistan Armed Forces with promises to deliver 12 ‘unarmed’ shadow drones – which hasn’t worked.

The White House and Pentagon are in shock, as this turnaround by the Pakistan Army couldn’t have come at a worse time for them – with the recent attacks on CIA’s Chapman outpost in Khost, a failed civilian government incharge, an incompetent Afghan army, and with 30,000 US troops on their way to what many now realise is a lost cause.

And now the New York Times reveals an interesting conversation between Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and an unnamed senior Pakistan Army official that took place last week. The biggest sign yet of the reversal of fortunes comes with a simple but symbolic ‘Are you with us or against us?’ from the Pakistan Army to the United States. The NYT article follows:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Nobody else in the Obama administration has been mired in Pakistan for as long as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. So on a trip here this past week to try to soothe the country’s growing rancor toward the United States, he served as a punching bag tested over a quarter-century.

“Are you with us or against us?” a senior military officer demanded of Mr. Gates at Pakistan’s National Defense University, according to a Pentagon official who recounted the remark made during a closed-door session after Mr. Gates gave a speech at the school on Friday. Mr. Gates, who could hardly miss that the officer was mimicking former President George W. Bush’s warning to nations harboring militants, simply replied, “Of course we’re with you.”

That was the essence of Mr. Gates’s message over two days to the Pakistanis, who are angry about the Central Intelligence Agency’s surge in missile strikes from drone aircraft on militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas, among other grievances, and showed no signs of feeling any love.

The trip, Mr. Gates’s first to Pakistan in three years, proved that dysfunctional relationships span multiple administrations and that the history of American foreign policy is full of unintended consequences.

As the No. 2 official at the C.I.A. in the 1980s, Mr. Gates helped channel Reagan-era covert aid and weapons through Pakistan’s spy agency to the American allies at the time: Islamic fundamentalists fighting the Russians in Afghanistan. Many of those fundamentalists regrouped as the Taliban, who gave sanctuary to Al Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and now threaten Pakistan.

In meetings on Thursday, Pakistani leaders repeatedly asked Mr. Gates to give them their own armed drones to go after the militants, not just a dozen smaller, unarmed ones that Mr. Gates announced as gifts meant to placate Pakistan and induce its cooperation.

Pakistani journalists asked Mr. Gates if the United States had plans to take over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons (Mr. Gates said no) and whether the United States would expand the drone strikes farther south into Baluchistan, as is under discussion. Mr. Gates did not answer.

At the same time, the Pakistani Army’s chief spokesman told American reporters at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi on Thursday that the military had no immediate plans to launch an offensive against extremists in the tribal region of North Waziristan, as American officials have repeatedly urged.

And the spokesman, Maj. Gen Athar Abbas, rejected Mr. Gates’s assertion that Al Qaeda had links to militant groups on Pakistan’s border. Asked why the United States would have such a view, the spokesman, General Abbas, curtly replied, “Ask the United States.”

General Abbas’s comments, made only hours after Mr. Gates arrived in Islamabad, were an affront to an American ally that gave Pakistan $3 billion in military aid last year. But American officials, trying to put a positive face on the general’s remarks and laying out what they described as military reality, said that the Pakistani Army was stretched thin from offensives against militants in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan and probably did not have the troops.

“They don’t have the ability to go into North Waziristan at the moment,” an American military official in Pakistan told reporters. “Now, they may be able to generate the ability. They could certainly accept risk in certain places and relocate some of their forces, but obviously that then creates a potential hole elsewhere that could suffer from Taliban re-encroachment.”

Mr. Gates’s advisers cast him as a good cop on a mission to encourage the Pakistanis rather than berate them. And he was characteristically low-key during most his visit here, including during a session with Pakistani journalists on Friday morning at the home of the American ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson.

But Mr. Gates perked up when he was brought some coffee, and he soon began to push back against General Abbas. American officials say that the real reason Pakistanis distinguish between the groups is that they are reluctant to go after those that they see as a future proxy against Indian interests in Afghanistan when the Americans leave. India is Pakistan’s archrival in the region.

“Dividing these individual extremist groups into individual pockets if you will is in my view a mistaken way to look at the challenge we all face,” Mr. Gates said, then ticked off the collection on the border.

“Al Qaeda, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Tariki Taliban in Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Haqqani network – this is a syndicate of terrorists that work together,” he said. “And when one succeeds they all benefit, and they share ideas, they share planning. They don’t operationally coordinate their activities, as best I can tell. But they are in very close contact. They take inspiration from one another, they take ideas from one another.”

Mr. Gates, who repeatedly told the Pakistanis that he regretted their country’s “trust deficit” with the United States and that Americans had made a grave mistake in abandoning Pakistan after the Russians left Afghanistan, promised the military officers that the United States would do better.

His final message delivered, he relaxed on the 14-hour trip home by watching “Seven Days in May,” the cold war-era film about an attempted military coup in the United States.

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‘Drone attacks endanger US-Pakistan relations’

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

PressTv

Pakistan has warned the US that drone attacks on its soil would endanger the two countries’ ties, urging a halt in the air raids.

“I said despite the partnership that we enjoy, Pakistan cannot, and Pakistan feels that it will undermine our relationship, if there’s expansion of drones and if there are operations on ground,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told at a press conference on Wednesday after meeting the visiting US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke.

Qureshi also slammed the US’s new air passenger screening measures and said he had discussed “red lines” in the meeting with Holbrook, the Press TV correspondent reported.

“The people of Pakistan feel that innocent people are treated like terrorists,” he said about the inclusion of Pakistani citizens flying to US for body-screening at airports. The minister also called the measure regrettable.

Holbrooke is in Pakistan on a three-day visit to meet the country’s top political and military officials as well as tribal elders.

Washington has stepped up its drone attacks against Pakistan’s tribal regions in recent weeks. Pakistan has repeatedly said such attacks violate the country’s sovereignty and fuel anti-American sentiments among Pakistani people.

Categories: Afghan War, Afghanistan, Article, Editorial, Geo-Politics, Insurgencies, Intelligence Agencies, International Politics, International Relations, Military Strength, Pakistan, Pakistan Army, PressTv, Report, South Asia, Strategic Cooperation, TALIBAN, Terrorrism, U.S.A, War, War on Terror Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,