Archive

Posts Tagged ‘President’

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.

Categories: Article Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Categories: Afghan War, Afghanistan, Article, Asia-Pacific Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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