US far from winning in Afghanistan: McChrystal

The commander of NATO and US forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, says the coalition forces are “not winning” the war in Afghanistan.

McChrystal made remarks at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Turkey.

He told reporters in Istanbul on Thursday that he does not believe the allied efforts in Afghanistan has “turned a corner.”

“I’m not prepared to say that we’ve turned the corner.”

“I still will tell you that I believe the situation in Afghanistan is serious,” McChrystal said on the sidelines of the Istanbul summit.

While US President Barack Obama was considering a troop surge last October, McChrystal had warned that the situation in Afghanistan was deteriorating and the coalition risked failure if it did not send more troops.

General McChrystal, however, claimed that US-led forces had made “significant progress” last year and set the stage for even more progress this year.

He noted that success in the war-weary country is something that is difficult to measure.

“This is all a war of perceptions. This is not a physical war in terms of how many people you kill, how much ground you capture, how many bridges you blow up,” said McChrystal. Read more of this post

Blackwater may train Afghan securitymen

ISLAMABAD – Afghan security forces would be receiving training, as announced in London Conference, but there is strong possibility that Blackwater will supervise their training in alliance with NATO and ISAF.

This newspaper’s investigations based on the audit report about Blackwater by the US State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) and informal discussions with intelligence sources and some insiders from the UN office in Afghanistan support the notion that a well-staged secretive arrangement has been reached to give Blackwater a ‘legalised’ role in Afghanistan.

One may recall here that Blackwater Lodge and Training Centre had changed its name to US Training Centre (USTC) in 2004. In August last, OIG had issued an audit report to shower endless praises on USTC. The Inspector General in the particular report had not only appreciated the operations of USTC but had also given it a clean-chit saying USTC was not involved in violence and killings.

With regard to the USTC’s operations in Afghanistan, the report observes, “US Government representatives need to meet regularly with their Afghan counterparts. Regional security staff stated to OIG that USTC was essential in ensuring the holding of such meetings.”

In complete disregard to human causalities and blatant violations of human rights, which Blackwater has inflicted in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Inspector General reported very high about Blackwater’s operations in Iraq, besides Afghanistan. The report which is available at OIG’s website with some of its extracts reported in a section of Western press says, “State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security had been highly effective in ensuring the safety of diplomatic personnel in Iraq. There have been no casualties among US diplomatic and civilian officials protected by contractors under the bureau’s supervision.

In addition, the OIG had recommended increase in Blackwater personnel, particularly USTC, in Afghanistan with all the necessary support to be provided to it.

Given that the report was released in August last and its recommendations strongly supported USTC to signify it as a competent training centre, and the name of Blackwater Lodge and Training Centre was changed to USTC in a bid to disassociate the covert organisation with its infamous dark past, it is crystal clear that Blackwater or ‘USTC’ would be offered a lucrative covert contract to train Afghan National Army and troops. Reports regarding such kind of contract being in the pipeline have also been received from UN office in Afghanistan and intelligence sources.

The London Conference laid the roadmap for the training programmes of Afghan National Army and NATO’s troop surge. However, some 37,000 military troops that would be landing in Afghanistan would be taking charge of on-field duties.

Ironically enough, no clear mechanism has been devised regarding training programmes and notorious Blackwater or USTC would be keen to give training to the same in alliance with ISAF and NATO forces.

A US court has recently charged two Blackwater personnel for killing two civilians and seriously injuring the third one last year. Dozens of incidents of second-degree murders at the hands of Blackwater have surfaced in Afghanistan and Iraq ever since the notorious organisation has been given the evil role by the US government in both the countries.
By: Sikander Shaheen

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UN exposes myth of ‘Quetta Shura’

ISLAMABAD – A series of meetings among key Taliban leaders, top United Nations officials, and Indian and US diplomats took place during December 2009 and January 2010, prior to the one reported in a questionable news item carried by foreign news agencies.

After the publication of the particular report revealing a secretive meeting reportedly held on January 8 in Dubai between UN Afghanistan’s Chief Kai Eide and some moderate Taliban representatives allegedly hailing from ‘Quetta Shura’, this newspaper contacted its sources in United Nations Assistance Missions in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and representatives of some credible stakeholders, who said that such kinds of covert meetings had become a routine affairs and were extensively been held in Kabul with the active collusion of Indian consulates. It was the result of these negotiations that Hikmatyar’s spokesman had hinted about dialogue with Afghan government provided that ISAF and NATO devised a roadmap regarding their eviction from Afghanistan. Contrary to Taliban’s expectations, the London Conference did not address the issue of troop surge and laid the provisions of training programmes for Afghan National Army instead, which led the Taliban to reject London Conference.

However, given that the particular news item surfaced just a day after London Conference, its timing and ‘selected venue’ make the entire affair very suspicious as a concocted plan to malign Pakistan. It is widely believed among diplomatic circles that US has deliberately floated this unfounded news among the sections of media and associated it with ‘Quetta Shura’ only to breed the evasive notion that unrest in Afghanistan was nurtured and sponsored by Pakistan.

In addition, the statement, quoting a UN official in the specific news report as saying (about Taliban) “They don’t want to vanish into places like Bagram,” bears less relevance with existing scenario in the wake of UN’s demand regarding expediting the review process pertaining to Bagram detainees. The closure of notorious base is under heated discussion.

It needs to be questioned since when did the term ‘Quetta Shura’ which had been coined just recently, started existing, while bordering areas of Afghanistan, especially North Waziristan and FATA, had been slammed by the West and Afghanistan for sponsoring cross-border terrorism. After Pakistan’s military command and key regional players have taken a tougher stance on Indo-US nexus and it became evident that Afghan terrorism is indigenous and its corruption-ridden government is incapable of combating the menace, Quetta has been selected as a new scapegoat for the purpose.

The news regarding ‘Quetta Shura’ has proved this perception true that all those calls seeking Pakistan’s support in London Conference are likely to be given a reversal in the days ahead and India was deliberately kept out of London Conference to avoid negative fallout.

After UN has given a clean-chit to Pakistan and has categorically slammed Afghan government in its reports exposing massive corruption, administrative deficiencies and rigged presidential elections coupled with UN’s statement in the Security Council that Pakistan has suffered more than any neighbouring country ever suffered, US needed a loud excuse to justify its nexus with India in Afghanistan, and the ‘Quetta Shura’ is ‘destined to do the favour.’

Pakistan’s neighbouring countries say their concerns regarding the planted London moot were not unfounded and the signs of malicious Indo-US alliance are evident. These neighbours’ reservations surfaced out of tiptoe meetings in Afghanistan. US, UN and Indian diplomats have met Taliban and are still believed to be meeting them mostly in Kabul, its suburbs and unspecified venues in Middle East and Europe. by Sikander Shaheen

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A Two-Front Threat Emerging For Pakistan

Dr. Shireeen M Mazari:

The moment of truth for those in Islamabad who continue to trust the Americans is nearing and might have already arrived. Pakistan needs to respond to the provocations by India and by those who are supporting India. Pakistan also needs to consider withdrawing from the coming London conference on Afghanistan if its legitimate security interests are further ignored by the United States and the United Kingdom. Additionally, Pakistani forces need to be positioned along the border with southern Afghanistan, where some elements within the US establishment seem to be planning limited incursions.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—A nightmare security scenario for Pakistan seems to be emerging – that of a two-front military conflict. Pakistan is already facing an internal militancy aided and abetted from Afghanistan and is threatened with all manner of likely US boots actually coming into Pakistan.

Already, the drone attacks on Pakistani soil have increased. For all these reasons, Pakistan has moved a large chunk of its forces away from its Eastern border with India and along the LoC, and moved them to the Western front along the international border with Afghanistan as well as into FATA.

Now India has upped the military ante against Pakistan after meetings between Indian officials and America’s Holbrooke and Gates. Hence we are seeing the unprovoked Indian military firing at Pakistani forces across the international border, the working boundary and across the LoC, which has resulted in death and injury for Pakistani soldiers. What can possibly be the Indian intent at this time to undertake such military adventurism? Had it been given some go-ahead by the Americans?

This new military provocation comes when there seems to have been a decision made by the British and Americans to give India a major military role in Afghanistan. The two allies are all set to spring this nasty decision onto Pakistan at the international conference on Afghanistan in London at the end of this month when it will be proposed that India train the Afghan National Army – something it is already doing at a small level covertly and on that pretext already has its operatives in Afghanistan. It is these operatives who are conducting the aid and assistance to militants within Pakistan.

In view of these developments, what are the immediate options for Pakistan which will protect its interests as well as signal an effective message to both the US and India?

First and most immediate, Pakistan needs to move its troops back to its Eastern front and cease operations in FATA. We need to distinguish between our militancy problem, which is certainly threatening and very real, but has multiple dimensions, and the misguided US ‘War on Terror’. On the Western front, it needs to realign its forces along the Chaman border area with Afghanistan where it is expected US boots may enter Pakistan on the ground.

Second, it needs to tell the US in no uncertain terms that it will not tolerate these Indian military incitements and may well up the ante also choosing its own time, place and type of response.

Third, Pakistan needs to categorically refuse to participate in the London Conference if the plan to train the Afghan National Army by India is even discussed informally. In fact, under the circumstances, if India participates in the Conference, Pakistan should consider the option of boycotting it. Let us see how far the US and UK get in Afghanistan without Pakistan’s active cooperation!

Fourth, it is time to demand that Indian operatives move out of Afghanistan and Indian consulates in Afghanistan along the border area with Pakistan be closed.

The fact that the Indian aggression has come immediately in the aftermath of the discussions between the Indians and visiting Americans including Defense Secretary Gates, and following on the heels of the visit to Kabul by India’s DG MI, shows only too clearly the Indo-US nexus in terms of presenting Pakistan with a possible two-front threat.

India’s Military Intelligence Chief conducts covert visit to Afghanistan

  • General Loomba held furtive, yet detailed meetings with Afghan, US and NATO officials
  • Delhi plans Afghan military takeover after US/ ISAF pullout
  • Indian Military spy master’s stealth Afghan trip conducted ahead of top US defence officials’ India visit
  • Holbrook kept Pakistanis busy in futile talks as per Pentagon, Langley plan
  • Indian MI boss visited covert Indian troopers’ positions in Afghanistan, met Indian Army instructors of ANA
  • Indian government, army resort to cohesive hostile approach towards Pakistan after Loomba’s Afghan trip
  • Analysts smell some secret US development in Afghanistan through Indian army.

While the US special envoy on Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrook and US Defence Secretary Robert Gates are paying surprise visits to India, in a rather mysterious move, the Chief of India’s Military Intelligence (DGMI), Lt. General R.K Loomba has carried out a high profile, yet comprehensively clandestine visit to Afghanistan and held detailed parlays with the Afghan, US and NATO officials, a development that was never officially or unofficially reported to Pakistan by either the US, the NATO or the Afghan officials, reveal the investigations of The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that this stealthy visit of the Director General of India’s Military Intelligence was carried out last week, just ahead of the visits of US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and US Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke to New Delhi

The Daily Mail’s findings disclose that Lt Gen. R.K. Loomba visited the headquarters of the Afghan National Army (ANA) in Kabul and also met with officials of Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the military officials, belonging to the US CENTCOM. Lt. General R.K Loomba, who, apart from being accompanied by some senior officials of the Indian MI, was also assisted by 2 senior RAW officials during all the meetings. These findings further reveal that General Loomba, despite holding discussions with the above mentioned Afghan, US and NATO officials, also visited some positions where India has covertly posted around two companies of regular Indian soldiers of Indian army’s Special Services Group in the disguise of members of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) while he is reported to have held a detailed meeting with the instructors of the Indian army, posted officially in Afghanistan to teach English language to the personnel of Afghan National Army while they actually belong to the Military Intelligence and RAW and are actually training the ANA special units about combat strategies against Pakistan army.

Though a highly credible at the army Headquarters in New Delhi told The Daily Mail that the purpose of the visit of General Loomba to Afghanistan was to assess preparations of the Afghan National Army in the wake of the US announcing a surge-and-exit policy through this year, yet the sources refrained to explain that why the visit was so secret and why the MI Chief had to go to Afghanistan instead of holding same discussions with the relevant officials from the US who were constantly visiting New Delhi.

The sources also say that the Indian military officials assess that the US/ NATO pullout would be gradual and Afghan National Army units would be asked to take over charge of areas sector by sector. India is involved in training ANA officers in India but quiet proposals have been floated for the deployment of Indian instructors in Afghanistan for the Afghan army.

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