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If NATO wants to Broaden the War Theatre does it have the body bags?

October 1, 2010 Leave a comment

If NATO wants to Broaden the War Theatre does it have the body bags?

  • At least 27 tankers carrying fuel for NATO forces in Afghanistan were destroyed at a fuel station in southern Pakistan, an official said Friday.
  • It was unclear whether the attack was linked to a NATO airstrike Thursday at a border post in Khurram Agency along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in which three Pakistani troops died, the BBC said.
  • Pakistan has formally lodged protest with NATO over airstrikes in its tribal region, which Thursday also killed three soldiers, officials said on Friday.
  • “Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani met the Deputy Secretary General of NATO in Brussels to lodge protest over the border violations by NATO/ISAF helicopters,” Pakistani Embassy in Brussels said.
  • Most people in Pakistan’s tribal regions strongly oppose U.S. missile strikes in their territory, with nearly half believing they kill mainly civilians, according to a rare opinion poll that may raise doubts about a key plank of the Obama administration’s anti-terror strategy.
  • Nearly nine of 10 people surveyed opposed the U.S. taking action against militants in the tribal belt.

Following the unwarranted missile firing by two NATO helicopters on Pakistani army posts in Kurram agency Waziristan, the situation has taken a very ugly and ominous turn. In what they claim as hot pursuit option of the militants, the NATO air force has arrogated itself the right to target even the Pakistani soldiers fighting on Pakistani soil in what ostensibly is NATO and American war.

While this is outright an egregious provocation, it lends a new grave dimension to the anti terrorism alliance between Pakistan and America a new bizarre twist. For Pakistan, there are two choices. She should either bear with this disgrace and willingly agree to be killed and come under wanton aerial bombing by the chasing NATO bombers or retaliate in a befitting manner. Being a world class and one of the finest armies, it would be difficult for Pakistan army command to swallow this insult and affront that could be repeated time and again.

The second course would be to withdraw, the Pakistan army from the embattled frontier and tribal regions to allow the NATO troops to deal with the insurgents directly. It is important to do so because NATO and particularly America is bent upon dealing severe blows to the insurgents and Taliban no matter it amounts to grave and naked violation of the territorial integrity of a country which is rendering huge sacrifices by fighting a proxy war for the foreign occupation forces stationed in Afghanistan. It is highly improbable that if NATO cannot succeed in a limited area of Afghanistan, how it can cope with a larger terrain.

Yet it clearly demonstrates that America and NATO are embracing a new strategy in their war again the militants in which the demarcation of boundaries and sanctity of the land do not hold any prominence. By that token, it would not be naïve to speculate that if the border regions of Pakistan can be bombed and intruded either by land or by air, the remaining territory of Pakistan can also be treated as a war zone for chasing the miscreants because there is every possibility of fleeing Taliban to spread across the land of Pakistan. Thus, they can also launch their forays against the NATO forces and retreat to save havens and sanctuaries interspersed all over Pakistan.

This overly alarming development has the seeds of pitting the two allies against each other. The Pakistan army’s top brass must be emergently seized of the freakish and sinister turn of the events and the changing paradigm of fighting and the latest tactics of the NATO forces for counter-terrorism. Hopefully, Pakistan army’s command would be able to persuade the NATO commanders not to indulge in such insane violations,, highly questionable conduct and desperate maneuvers that can deal a fatal blow to the cooperation between Pakistan and NATO in combating terrorism.

While Pakistan army would be mulling over the next step and is believed to be in consultation, it is laudable that the NATO supplies have been suspended by Pakistan as retaliation to this fiasco.

If NAT O does not have the requisite intelligence that can differentiate between friends and foes and militants and the Pakistan army personnel, then this negligence assumed very intriguing dimensions. In the future too, every time the NATO bombers can cross over to Pakistan’s territory, indiscriminately shell the Pakistani soldiers, and then justify it as an act of self-defense. The logic of self-defense is tenable if Pakistan forces infiltrate all the way into the Afghan territory and attack the NATO troops. This is not self-defense and there is no precedent that you can trespass the terrain of a friendly country without giving prior information based on proper and credible intelligence.

The hamstrung government run by the spineless and titular rulers in Pakistan does not have enough courage and dignity to order shooting down the intruding aircrafts or helicopter gunships. If the invaders do not observe any rules of the game then why should Pakistan be imposed with an explanation which is downright audacious, unconvincing and an open declaration for doing such violations even for the future.

The crossing of the international borders and firing upon an outpost of the Frontier Corps located 200 meters (650 feet) inside Pakistan is either a sign of desperation or willful attempt to give the message that NATO can extend its operations to the Pakistani territory. According to a Pakistan army spokesperson, Troops present at the post manned by six soldiers “retaliated through rifle fire to indicate that the helicopters were crossing into our territory,”. “Instead of heading to the warning, helicopters went to fire two missiles, destroying the post. As a result, three FC soldiers embraced shahadat (martyrdom) and three have been injured.”

These patently provocative actions would erode whatever the support and sympathy America and her NATO allies have at the moment in the tribal regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Perhaps as a retaliation that brazen misadventure by the NATO gunships, the NATO containers were torched at Shiakpur Pakistan emanating a clear yet a portentous message that if such acts are repeated these can have their detrimental reactions in Pakistan’s mainland and perhaps elsewhere.

If United States thinks that the Pakistan’s territory should also be envisaged as the war theatre, a scenario that can prompt Pakistan to withdraw her troops from these war areas to leave the embattled terrain open to NATO and the insurgents, then it can be a good riddance by Pakistan army, fighting under duress. Or else Pakistan army can shoot down the intruding gunships, fight the land troops if these enter Pakistan’s territory and drive away or bring down drones by firing missiles at them.

This very horrendous projected situation neither suits Pakistan nor NATO and America. It would be, therefore, better if NATO leaves the military operations in the Pakistan’s territory to Pakistan army. They can continue focusing on Afghanistan as they are doing now. Pakistan indeed is a scapegoat in this so-called war against terrorism but there is a limit to find faults with such a trustworthy, competent, and brave ally as the Pakistan army is. October 1, 2010, Upright Opinion, Does NATO want to Broaden the War Theatre? By Saeed Qureshi.

(The writer is a freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)

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  • President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday said that the Government of Pakistan strongly disapproves any incident of violation of its sovereignty and any violation of internationally agreed principles was counter-productiveand unacceptable.
  • The president made these remarks during a meeting with CIA Director Leon Panetta, who called on him at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on Thursday.
  • Panetta also separately met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at the PM House and the General Headquarters respectively.
  • Gunmen in southern Pakistan on Friday torched more than two dozen trucks and tankers carrying supplies for Nato forces in Afghanistan, police said.
  • Attacks on trucks carrying goods for US and Nato-led forces are routine.

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.

Kabul conference highlights Pakistan’s seminal role

Kabul conference highlights Pakistan’s seminal role

It has been a cascading series of events. The Afghan president visited Pakistan and called the countries inseparable conjoined twin brothers. This cleared the way for the Tehran Agreement (Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan), then there was Istanbul Meeting (All the neighbors of Afghanistan and Turkey), then there was London Conference (62 members of the international community). After the London Conference an Afghan jirga was held which approved reconciliation with the Afghan National Resistence (aka Taliban). President Hamid Karzai called the Taliban “Talibjan (Dearest students) and has been talking to the Afghan National Resistance. Now there is the Kabul Meeting with 72 countries represented in Afghanistan’s capital.

In all the previous conferences a Pan-Afghan has been suggested and proposed. Now the Kabul Conference is suggesting and advertising a similar message for all Afghans. Even Bharat which was opposing the Pan-Afghan solution or any reconciliation with the Afghan National Resistance–has now accepted the reconciliation formula proposed by Pakistan.

As NATO is seeking deeper links with Pakistan–in a post Afghan phase, and Kabul and Islamabad seem to be drawing closer with trade and access to ports, there has been a transformational improvement in the atmospherics in the two capitals. Pakistan is proposing joint monitoring of the Durand Line and is now training Afghan Army officers in one of the finest military academies in the world–in Kakul.

Pakistan has been a crucial and important player in the reconciliation process.

British and US sources are confirming internal Afghan and NATO documents which outline the beginning of the withdrawal and the end of the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014.

As international leaders arrive in Kabul for a key conference on Afghanistan’s future, Channel 4 News has obtained the document on which the Afghan government’s plan to reintegrate the Taliban is based.

As International Editor Lindsey Hilsum writes, it says fighters could be retrained in forestry and literacy skills. … I say it’s a government document, because the front page says “Islamic Republic of Afghanistan National Security Council”, but the 80 pages of management consultant-speak about ‘stakeholders’, ‘change management’, ‘broad strategic vision’ and ‘a menu of conflict recovery options’ suggest that the men from the Afghan ministry were not the ones to write the draft. The flowery paragraphs about “We Afghans desire… a consolidated and sustainable peace”, and statements that it’s all ‘Afghan owned and led’ do not convince. The document says that international donors will spend $772m over five years to retrain former Taliban fighters in forestry, literacy, technical and vocational skills and keep them busy on agricultural conservation and public works.’ – UK Channel 4 News

The Official Chinese media is highlighting Pakistan’s role at the Kabul Conference:

ISLAMABAD, July 21 (Xinhua) — The international conference in Kabul has backed Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s efforts of reconciliation with Taliban. Representatives of almost every country in their speeches tried to announce the end of its engagement in Afghanistan. This is now a test case for the Afghan security forces as how to deal with the law and order in 2014, the deadline set by President Karzai to hand over security to Afghan forces.

Some 150,000 US-led NATO troops have fought their enemy — the Taliban and remnants of al-Qaeda in nearly nine years, but the fast growing deaths of foreign troops raised concerns over how foreign troops will deal with insurgents.

June was the deadliest month for foreign forces in Afghanistan with 102 deaths including 60 of Americans. Over 50 NATO troops have died this month. Taliban failed to disrupt the Kabul Conference, but their rockets fired at Kabul international airport forced diversion of the plane of the UN Secretary General to the U. S-controlled Bagram airbase north of Kabul. The rocket attack to some extent highlighted Taliban ability that they can attract the world attention.

The conference highlighted the role of Pakistan in any possible political reconciliation and reintegration process as it is strongly believed that Islamabad still has influence on the Afghan Taliban. The NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also said in Islamabad on Wednesday that Pakistan can play important role in Afghanistan’s political reconciliation. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was quick to add that Islamabad will play role in political reconciliation after the Afghan government formally makes a request for such a role.

When Pakistan announced this January to reach out Afghan Taliban, several Afghan experts and foreign media opined that Islamabad can play a role as it has influence on Afghan Taliban. Pakistan is believed to have strong contacts with Haqqani network, which is based in North Waziristan tribal region and led by Siraj- ud-Haqqani,the son of former Taliban Minister Jalaluddin Haqqani.

No delegate opposed talks with Taliban in the Kabul conference as NATO member countries are anxious to quit Afghanistan as they have not succeeded in defeating their enemy despite spending some 40 billion US dollars and loosing hundreds of soldiers.

After President Obama’s announcement to start withdrawal of forces in July 2011, several other voices emerged for political reconciliation and the Kabul conference endorsed those voices.

Late last month, head of the British army Gen Sir David Richards surprised the world when he suggested politicians and military chiefs to talk to members of the Taliban sooner rather than later. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Australian Defence Minister have also said they could start withdrawal of troops in 2011.

These are among NATO’s important countries and the others will follow them to leave Afghanistan. NATO is confident to train the Afghan forces to take responsibility in 2014, but Afghan experts say it may be very difficult for the Afghan forces to deal with the Taliban and that is why the notion of reconciliation is gaining momentum. Pakistan would play a key role in this process. The Afghan President, on a number of occasions, sought Islamabad’s help to reach out to Taliban.

Many believed that without the help of Pakistan it would be impossible to oust Taliban and it would also be difficult to reconcile with Taliban. Pakistan’s contacts with Afghan Taliban are not a secret. Some local security officials privately defended such contacts as a must as Islamabad needs influence in the neighboring country. Kabul conference highlights Pakistan’s role. English.news.cn 2010-07-21 23:56:13 FeedbackPrintRSS, by Muhammad Tahir