Leaders they better would have not

But isn’t it expecting too much from an Islamabad hierarchy that has demonstrated itself such a spineless pack of self-styled leaders who the nation would better have not and would certainly be much better off without.

A hubristically arrogant British Prime Minister David Cameron chimes cheekily that Pakistan is exporting terrorism and then picks up thunderous cheers from his Indian audience and a purchase order for dozens of trainer jets worth over whopping $one billion from the Indian government. A disputed Afghan President Hamid Karzai whose authority has stayed confined throughout his nine-year rule to his presidential palace’s outer gate and his government’s writ to Kabul municipality leaps up to the Wikileaks’ leaks of US military files and screams for taking out Afghan Taliban’s “sanctuaries” in Pakistan. And what is the response of a cringing and servile hierarchy of Islamabad to these audacious outpourings of Cameron and Karzai? That this would impact negatively the “war on terror”, bleats the whole ruling clan of Islamabad sheepishly. President Zardari mumbles it; so does prime minister Gilani; foreign minister Qureshi too. And so do all the rest.

But who will tell these ignoramuses the street gives a damn if this war is affected or not or even if it goes all haywire when it has become such a sore wound on our body politic? It has cost the nation dearly in blood and treasure, without drawing it any honest gratitude from anywhere and getting it only pillory and abuse from everywhere. For this war, over 3,000 of our soldiers have sacrificed their precious lives. In this war, thousands of our civilian compatriots, including children and women, have been slaughtered in US drone attacks and terrorist strikes of thugs bred, nurtured, funded and armed by the CIA-led evil axis of Indian RAW and Afghan NDS intelligence agencies. For this war, our economy is tottering cripplingly with losses amounting to some $40 billion or more it has inflicted on it. For the insecurity that proxies and agents of this evil axis of alien agencies has spawned with their thuggery in the country, domestic investments are fleeing out and foreign investment dread coming in. For this war, our sovereignty stands rubbished and our national solidarity in tatters.

Given this, one thought reaction to Cameron’s and Karzai’s audacities would be severe, strong and manly in Islamabad . It is not, appallingly. The response is effeminate, befitting a woman and decidedly not a man. It appears Islamabad’s hierarchs are not even aware how the street is boiling with anger over impudence of Cameron as also of Karzai, a staunchly loyalist CIA asset who did its bidding so blindly slavishly, even to anoint Indians as his own senior advisors and his governors’, themselves CIA appointees. People had hoped President Zardari would at least postpone, if not cancel, his London visit to register his nation’s outrage at Cameron’s filthy inanity. He has not.

Perhaps, to him coronation of a prince regent, who he is touting up as the nation’s upcoming ruler, counts for more than does his people’s popular sentiment. Yet if he is so loath to crown his prince at home among the people he intends foisting on to rule, he could have done the coronation ceremony in France , which too he is visiting at the Pakistani taxpayer’s expense. But if he so resolved staging this regal coronation in London under the shadows of tall palaces of kings and queens at any rate, he may have this pleasure.

But in his meeting with Cameron will he pluck up the guts and ask a few relevant questions? Will he ask Cameron that Britain had taken upon it the responsibility of freeing occupied Afghanistan from drugs? Instead, it has become the world’s biggest drugs producer and supplier. Why? Will he ask him that the occupiers had pledged pacifying the post-Taliban Afghanistan , yet British troops stayed put for years in their secured bases in Kabul and Bagram. Why? Will he tell him that when finally the British troops ventured moving out, in 2006, to Helmand , the then British defence secretary squawked they would wrest it from Taliban without firing a shot? Yet four years on, they failed to capture even a mentionable portion of it, and the American marines in thousands had to be deployed, although they too have spectacularly failed in the task. Will he ask Cameron why American soldiers ridicule British troops’ fighting mettle playfully, calling them derisively chickens? And why even British troops’ command has been taken away from the British commander and given to American officers, amid report that the British contingent had been bribing local Taliban not to attack it.

But isn’t it expecting too much from an Islamabad hierarchy that has demonstrated itself such a spineless pack of self-styled leaders who the nation would better have not and would certainly be much better off without. They are worse than dictator Pervez Musharraf who danced like a red-light area dancing girl before his American patrons and threw this poor nation in such a demeaning condition.

– The Frontier Post

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Pentagon Seeks Contractor to Move Weapons Through Pakistan/Afghanistan

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by Jeremy Scahill

The United States military is in the process of taking bids from private war contractors to secure and ship massive amounts of US military equipment through sensitive areas of Pakistan into Afghanistan, where it will then be distributed to various US Forward Operating Bases and other facilities. According to thecontract solicitation (PDF), “There will be an average of 5000″ import shipments “transiting the Afghanistan and Pakistan ground lines of communication (GLOC) per month, along with 500 export shipments.” The solicitation states that, “This number may increase or decrease due to US military transportation requirements,” adding, “The contractor must maintain a constant capability to surge to any location within Afghanistan or Pakistan” within a 30-day period. Among the duties the contractor will perform is “intelligence, to include threat assessments throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

And while it seems the United States is trying to put a Pakistani or Afghan face on the work, the terms of the contract mandate that US personnel will be involved with inherently risky and potentially lethal operations. Among the firms listed by the Department of Defense as “interested vendors” are an Afghan company tied to a veteran CIA officer and run by the son of Afghan defense minister, General Abdul Rahim Wardak, and a Pakistani outfit with links to Blackwater.

Perhaps most striking about this US military contract solicitation is the admission by the military that contractors are being used for shipping and guarding military hardware as a runaround to the current official policy of the US and Pakistan governments that the US military does not conduct operations in Pakistan. “Due to current limitations on having US military presence in Pakistan and threat levels precluding US Military active involvement with the contractor ‘outside the wire’ in Afghanistan, the contractor must be proactive at identifying appropriate methods for obtaining the necessary in-transit visibility information,” according to the contract solicitation.

Many of the companies that have currently expressed interest in the contract are registered as Pakistani or Afghan businesses. It is well established that the US military depends on Pakistani and Afghan intermediaries to pay off the Taliban and other resistance groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan to allow safe passage of US military hardware and other supplies, meaning the United States is effectively funding both sides of the war. As my colleague Aram Roston reported last year for The Nation, “US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10 percent of the Pentagon’s logistics contracts–hundreds of millions of dollars–consists of payments to insurgents.” Other US military sources have told me the number might be as high as 20 percent.

The current contracting arrangement for which the DoD is soliciting bids is essentially a more formalized way of doing the same thing. But while the contractor may place a Pakistani or Afghan stamp on the paper trail and allow the United States and Pakistan to deny that US personnel are involved, the security language of the solicitation actually mandates that US personnel work the operations.

According to the solicitation, the contractor must provide personnel “capable of facilitating, coordinating, obtaining, and reporting critical movement control data and information from the appropriate US government personnel at multiple locations.” The personnel must “have the ability to obtain necessary identification…to gain access to base camps within Afghanistan without escort.” Most importantly, “Personnel must have a valid US Secret Security Clearance.” That level of clearance—”Secret”—cannot be issued to a foreign citizen, meaning that the contract actually necessitates US citizens working on the contract, presumably in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This arrangement is not new. In fact, this is precisely the arrangement I reported on last year for The Nation (See “The Secret US War in Pakistan“). According to Blackwater and US military sources, US military shipments were being protected on a contract with Kestral Logistics, a powerful Pakistani firm, which specializes in military logistical support, private security and intelligence consulting. It is staffed with former high-ranking Pakistani army and government officials. A former senior Blackwater executive with experience in Pakistan told me that Kestral subcontracted to Blackwater and that “Blackwater has provided convoy security for Defense Department shipments destined for Afghanistan that would arrive in the port at Karachi. Blackwater, according to the former executive, would guard the supplies as they were transported overland from Karachi to Peshawar and then west through the Torkham border crossing, the most important supply route for the US military in Afghanistan.” Blackwater, he said, was paid by the Pakistani government through Kestral for consulting services. “That gives the Pakistani government the cover to say, ‘Hey, no, we don’t have any Westerners doing this. It’s all local and our people are doing it.’ But it gets them the expertise that Westerners provide for [counterterrorism]-related work,” according to the former Blackwater executive.

All of this is consistent with the US military’s current contract solicitation. What’s more, Kestral is listed as an “interested vendor” on the current DoD contract. According to federal lobbying records, Kestral has hired former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega, who served in that post from 2003 to 2005, to lobby the US government, including the State Department, USAID and Congress, on foreign affairs issues “regarding [Kestral’s] capabilities to carry out activities of interest to the United States.” Noriega was hired through his firm, Vision Americas, which he runs with Christina Rocca, a former CIA operations official who served as assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs from 2001 to 2006 and was deeply involved in shaping US policy toward Pakistan. Since late 2009, Kestral has paid Vision Americas and a Vision Americas-affiliated firm, Firecreek Ltd., at least $60,000 to lobby on defense and foreign policy issues. Read more of this post

Afghanistan: never again

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Afghan Mujahideen pose on top of a downed Soviet helicopter from the USSR's failed invasion/occupation.

by I. M. Mohsin

The subject of the article is part of a quote from the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Sergei Ivanov. Attending a seminar in Singapore on regional security, he confided that his government was rendering useful help to the ISAF and the US in Afghanistan, including intelligence input. During the question-answer session with the delegates in the Shangri-La Dialogue, it was insinuated if such help could include committing Russian forces to join other allies against the Taliban. The Russian Deputy PM promptly retorted: “Never again a Russian soldier would enter Afghanistan.”

I think you understand why. It’s like asking the US whether they would send troops in Vietnam. Emphasising his point he followed it up by stating: “It is something like that. It is totally impossible.” In between he also conceded that he could not disclose the scope and pace of cooperation between his country and the US on Afghanistan to the media. However, he had had serious discussions with his counterparts at this forum like the others.

Considering the quagmire effect which the US is experiencing in Afghanistan, such conferences or dialogues are regular exercises all over the world wherein politicians and intellectuals from the ISAF generally project their mental prowess with analysis relying on media coverage and a reference to history. More often than not, most of them have not even a nodding acquaintance with Afghanistan and FATA, and their culture. Thus, while such exercises are scholastically and for projection purposes in the media, they yield precious little information about the ground realities and the sufferings of the people either due to atrocious use of force, ‘collateral damage’ or ‘friendly fire’. Like all foreign forces, the US often takes a long time to concede that it has committed an atrocity.

Perhaps, accepting responsibility for a miscalculation or overreaction to an assumed threat induces such self-defence mechanism. No wonder arguments are always found to confound any crisis which may have been crime in some other situation wherein no US personnel is involved. In nine years, no US trooper has been held accountable. Hence, war communications are utilised to whittle down what would be a war crime for killing innocent civilians, per se. The only ones who paid for their sin were the Germans whose costly mistake in Kunduz made the then Defence Minister to resign.

Despite all the media hype and help from the former enemy, Russia, which finds a way to avenge the loss of the Soviet Empire from the principal enemy – the Pashtuns, a US policy-shift appears to be on in Afghanistan. Hillary Clinton had recently claimed that the US was fully braced for interacting with a multipolar world. The way Hamid Karzai went ahead with his peace jirga, despite the US silence, indicates that he had acquiesced to his mentors in Washington DC. It touted the old charm offensive propagated by the Afghan President for quite some time by way of befriending the “alienated brothers.”
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Political hypocrisy of industrialized countries

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Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla:

MR. PRESIDENT;
IT TOOK 60 million deadly casualties during World War II to develop the concept of human rights, particularly the right to life and human dignity. Much progress has been made in developing the human rights concept; very little has been done to guarantee its implementation. This issue has become one of the fundamental pillars of the United Nations, as well as international development, peace and security. However, this is the area where the ideological manipulation, political hypocrisy and double standards of industrialized countries have caused most ravages.

Those who take upon themselves the role of watchdogs of human rights and attempt to question others, are precisely the ones who are directly responsible for the most serious, systematic and flagrant violations of human rights, particularly the right to life.

They were the ones who masterminded the colonial system that was imposed to plunder the countries of the South and doom them to live in underdevelopment. They are the ones who bear responsibility for the present international economic order that silently murders tens of millions of human beings who fall victims of starvation, poverty and preventable and curable diseases. They are the ones who impose the modern wars of conquest that kill millions, mostly civilians, whom they amazingly call “collateral damages.”

They are also the beneficiaries of single thought, exclusive models and values, media warfare, the creation of immanent truths, the subculture of commercial advertisement, the imposition of conditioned reflexes, the deceitful, docile, stultifying embedded press that justifies or conceals massacres.

The US and its European allies resorted to the manipulation of terrorism to launch the wars whose aim was to control and conquer the energy resources in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have taken a toll on two million human lives and also served to justify involuntary disappearance, torture, secret renditions and detention centres where there is no recognition for International Humanitarian Law or the human being condition. It was the pretext to pass laws such as the “Patriot Act” whose implementation has just been extended by the US government, which encroaches on the liberties and guarantees conquered by the civil rights movement after several centuries of struggle.

Who will take responsibility for the brutal acts committed in Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo and other centres of torture and death? When will the responsible face trial, thus putting an end to impunity?

Who will take responsibility in European countries for the secret renditions, the clandestine prisons in these territories and their involvement in acts of torture?
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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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“War on Terror” as a Cover for US Terrorism

“Dissent is no longer the duty of the engaged citizen but is becoming an act of terrorism ” – Chris Hedges

By Paul J | It’s ironic. It’s hypocritical. It’s a fraud. The “war on terrorism” branded by America is a propaganda cover for the worst terrorists in the world.

What was the invasion and occupation of Iraq but an act of terrorism? Everyone now knows that the faux war was born of a fraud. The deception had no legitimate purpose except to terrorize countries that (a) produce oil, (b) harbour Al-Qaeda or (c) threaten Israel.

Even the invasion of Afghanistan, considered a legitimate response to 9/11, could have been avoided. The Taliban appropriately asked the US to provide evidence of Osama bin Laden’s complicity in the 9/11 affair before deporting him.

Instead, we attacked Afghanistan to the cheers of terrorizing avengers. “We’ll show you what we do to those who terrorize America!” was the mantra. The USA is still terrorizing Afghanistan, thereby increasing Al-Qaeda cells.

The icing on the spread-fear cake has involved the USA terrorizing Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Not only are the countries America bombs terrorized. Every other country that might disobey our commands is threatened and made to fear for its existence.

Human life outside America and its stooges isn’t worth a tinker’s damn to terrorist America. Some 567,000 Iraqi children under the age of five died from American sanctions on Iraq. On 60 minutes in 1996, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said: “We think the price is worth it.”

As of January 2010 and since the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, 1,366,350 Iraqi lives have been lost to terrorist slaughterers. “Never mind,” you say? “The price is worth it. Beside, they’re only Muslims who want to multiply and take over the world.”

Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and rendition programmes have been nothing but terrorizing to plant fear in the hearts and minds of any Arab or Muslim with negative feelings toward America.

Something about being a terrorist of “lesser breeds” tends to become a mindset that disregards national identities. Even Americans can become the objects of American terrorists. American Arabs and Muslims have been the objects of terrorism ever since 9/11.

According to Chris Hedges, “An Arab American, Syed Fahad Hashmi, made provocative statements, including calling America “the biggest terrorist in the world”. That led to his arrest and prosecution on trumped up charges, in much the same way that Professor Sami al-Aryan lost his job and freedom for being an outspoken critic of US and Israeli policy.

Hedges relates the terrorizing effect of these prosecutions even of American citizens. “The state,” he says, “can detain and prosecute people not for what they have done, or even for what they are planning to do, but for holding religious or political beliefs that the state deems seditious. The first of those targeted have been observant Muslims, but they will not be the last.

Chris Floyd points to incidents in countless towns and villages across America’s terror war fronts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen where a multitude of grieving, angry Iraqis are further embittered against the American occupation by America’s terrorist killings.

“You want to stop the ‘radicalization’ of young Muslims? Chris asks. “It’s simple: stop killing innocent Muslims in wars of domination all over the world. Stop running ‘covert ops’ in every nation of the world (as Obama’s ‘special envoy’ Richard Holbrooke admitted last week) – murders, kidnappings, corruption and deception that make a howling mockery of the very ‘civilized values’ these wars and ops purport to defend.”

If America wants to stop terrorism, it needs to stop terrorizing the world.


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