Tiff continues: India Gets Nowhere

With Iran on Afghanistan or anything else; India makes no headway!

By Moin Ansari

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Strategy and long term policy matters are discussed at the Presidential, and Prime Minister’s level. They are never discussed at the Deputy Foreign Minister level. The Bharati press is portraying Deputy Foreign Minister level talks as policy or strategy talks. The minister’s statements suggest that despite India’s attempts, Iran is a long way from supporting India. The LNG project put on ice by Tehran after the Indo-Israeli deals has not been resurrected.

Even these low level Indo-Iran talks failed. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali Fathollahi drove the final nail in the coffin, when he tersely informed his hosts that the Afghan Constitution would be the “basis and pillar for any action,”. In other words be emphasized the unity of Afghanistan and what the Afghan Jirga has already proposed–and “Pan Afghan solution” based upon talks with the Afghan National Resistance (aka Taliban Haqqanirs, Hikmatyar etc.). As if this wasn’t enough Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister clearly told the Bharatis that “in our regional strategy we believe in cooperation with Pakistan.”

This is what the Times of India says. Even as Fathollahi claimed that India and Iran had “close viewpoints” on Afghanistan, he said enough to suggest that the two nations may not be on the same page over the issue. “We are suspicious about the motive behind what has been revealed by Wikileaks because the issues raised are not new ones. We believe there are special objectives behind this leakage which has come at a time when things in Afghanistan are moving towards more stability and more constructive role for the Afghan government,” Fathollahi said.

To confirm our reporting, The Indian Daily Telegraph reports:

“But Iran does not share India’s concern that the Pakistani army and ISI might foist themselves on Afghanistan once the international security forces leave the region by 2014. Unlike New Delhi, Tehran wants the forces to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible.

However, the Iranian foreign minister said his government considered Pakistan an integral constituent of any regional strategy, including on Afghanistan, and has always believed in co-operating with Islamabad.”

The minister was asked specifically about ISI links with Taliban as brought out by the Wikileaks documents. When asked about Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan, the minister said only Pakistan could talk about that and “Iran always believes in cooperation with Pakistan”.

The minister’s remarks, coupled with Iran’s constant demand for immediate withdrawal of international troops from the region, are a complete antithesis of India’s stand on Afghanistan. One of the reasons for India stepping up engagement with Iran in the recent past has been the fact that, like India, Tehran too has shunned the idea of good Taliban.

“The heavy presence of military can’t be a solution to the problem. The Afghanistan government should be trusted and we must believe in its capabilities,” Fathollahi said. Times of India.

There has been much speculation about Chahbahar and Bharati desires to build a land link to Afghanistan via Iran. Mr. Fathollahi seemed to have have poured water on the Bharati wishes by stating in clear terms that this not possible under the present circumstances and this remains only a possibility—”In future there will be fundamental developments regarding the position of Chabar,” .

The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister also threw cold water on resurrecting the Northern Alliance or dividing Afghanistan–”Northern Alliance is not separated from other parts of Afghanistan”. Read more of this post

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World urged to stop Kashmiris’ genocide

Death toll of martyred protestors reaches 58

Srinagar: Hundreds of thousands Kashmiris attending funeral procession of a Kashmiri youth Iqbal Ahmed Khan martyred by Indian troops.

Srinagar – (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, veteran Kashmiri Hurriyet leader, Syed Ali Gilani has appealed to the world community to impress upon India to stop genocide of Kashmiris and resolve the lingering dispute in accordance with the aspirations of people.

Addressing newsmen in Srinagar after his release from illegal detention, Syed Ali Gilani urged India to withdraw all its troops from the territory, release all the illegally detained pro-liberation leaders and activists and revoke the draconian laws before initiating meaningful dialogue to settle the Kashmir dispute.

He appealed the people of Kashmir to participate in the protest programmes in large numbers to make them a success.

On the other hand, the Chairman of All Parties Hurriyet Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in a letter to the Secretary General of United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon appealed to him to appoint a representative for Kashmir in view of the grave crisis on the territory.

A civilian was martyred last night when Indian troops fired upon a demonstration at Nund Rishi colony in Bemina, Two persons succumbed to bullet injuries in local hospitals in Srinagar. They were fired upon by Indian police personnel during a protest in the city, yesterday. The fresh killings brought the number of martyred Kashmiri protestors since June 11 to 58.

Thousands of people participated in a mourning gathering at Zadoora-Newa in Pulwama to pray for the soul of a young man martyred in the firing of Indian police on peaceful protestors in the area. Read more of this post

Why Afghanistan?

There are other reasons for the US to be involved in Afghanistan,al Qaeda not being the most important.Control of Afghanistan give the United States access to Iran to the north are many of the ” Stans” Afghanistan is a very Strategic area.

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By Timothy V. Gatto

Lately, I’ve been listening to folks like Rachel Maddow and Richard Holbrooke talk about the situation in Afghanistan. I’ve been hearing that the rate of illiteracy in that country runs in the area of 70 to 80%. The government is having a hard time enforcing the law because in cities like Kandahar, there are only 9 magistrates to hear court cases. I’ve also heard about the government, along with the military forces from NATO, have seemingly stopped cutting down Afghan poppy and marijuana fields so that farmers can stay afloat selling these crops.

I’ve heard that the primary mission of the NATO forces is to prevent “collateral damage” to civilians as they relentlessly hunt down the Taliban. It’s been reported that the Taliban gave al Qaeda a free hand to operate in this poor, backwards country which led to the September 11th attacks on the United States in 2001, and that this is the primary reason that the United States and NATO operate on the premise that if we don’t develop a strong central government in Kabul, that more attacks will surely hit the United states “Homeland” after being planned in Afghanistan.

During an interview with Rachel Maddow, Special Envoy to the nations of Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard C. Holbrooke remarked that NATO must create a strong central government in order to get the majority of the populace to align themselves with the government in Kabul. This supposedly, would break the grip that the Taliban holds over the people that live in the rural areas. Since a hefty majority or the Afghan population live in the rural areas, this becomes a very tall order.

While listening to Holbrooke pontificate on the problems that the central government faces in winning “the hearts and minds” of the Afghan people, I couldn’t help but remember the rhetoric that came out of Vietnam over 40 years ago. There too, we were involved in winning “the hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese people and there too, Richard C. Holbrooke was involved in that strategy.

Listening to Holbrooke discuss the reasons we are in Afghanistan made me think about what a wonderful nation the United States truly is. Even though we are experiencing a recession that is akin to the Great Depression of the 1930’s, with official unemployment figures running about 9 percent on average (while the true figures are obscured because so many have come off the unemployment rolls due to these people no longer being eligible for unemployment benefits due to the length of time they have been unemployed and many have ceased looking for work, while some economists claim the real figures are between 20 and 25%), we valiantly spend our nation’s treasure to “help” these unfortunate Afghan people to build a nation free from corruption and rule by tribal warlords.

Holbrooke claims that we are making substantial progress in opening schools while training the Afghan Army and police forces to bring about a nation run by law. Even though the main cash crop in that country is opium that accounts for something like 95% of Europe’s heroin supply and most of its hashish, we are asked to believe that soon Afghanistan will be a major supplier of corn and other foodstuffs after the central government “rehabilitates” the farmers that make their livings off of narco-agriculture. After all, why would farmers willingly grow poppies and marijuana when they could grow eggplants, melons and corn?

Listening to government officials like General Ben Hodges describe the Taliban’s way of settling disputes in Kandahar made me wonder if the military leadership over there are sampling the hashish being grown by the farmers. (). The truth as I see it, there is so much corruption and so little support from the government in Kabul, the idea of bringing Afghanistan into the twenty-first century could take decades.

The true nature of our involvement in Afghanistan is something that has yet to be defined. The obvious question is why are we there? What makes this nation (and I use the term loosely), so important that we need 150,000 troops from the U.S. (and almost as many mercenaries), and tens of thousands of troops from NATO as well as Mongolia, South Korea and other non-NATO countries, to perform the task of “nation-building”? Is it because of the TAPI petroleum pipeline that will run from the Caucuses to ports in India, thus bringing oil from the Caucuses without having to go through Russia, and insuring petroleum to Western Europe without the inconvenience of having it controlled by Russia and thus holding Western Europe hostage? Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia on the pipeline;

“The new deal on the pipeline was signed on 27 December 2002 by the leaders of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2005, the Asian Development Bank submitted the final version of a feasibility study designed by British company Penspen. ‘Since the US-led offensive that ousted the Taliban from power,’ reported Forbes in 2005, “the project has been revived and drawn strong US support” as it would allow the Central Asian republics to export energy to Western markets “without relying on Russian routes”. Then-US Ambassador to Turkmenistan Ann Jacobsen noted that: “We are seriously looking at the project, and it is quite possible that American companies will join it.”[5] Due to increasing instability, the project has essentially stalled; construction of the Turkmen part was supposed to start in 2006, but the overall feasibility is questionable since the southern part of the Afghan section runs through territory which continues to be under de facto Taliban control.”

There are other reasons for the U.S. to be involved in Afghanistan, al Qaeda not being the most important. Control of Afghanistan gives the United States access to Iran to the west and China to the east whiles to the north are many of the “Stans”. Afghanistan is a very strategic area. Read more of this post

Infocus (PRESS TV): India Pakistan relations and current political situation of the region

Zaid Hamid and General (R) Hamid Gul on Press TV discuss the current political situation of the region.



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Pakistan-China YOUYI-III (Friendship) Joint Military Exercise 2010 (video)

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PAF JF-17 Thunder in Farnborough Air Show 2010 (Pictures)

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Pakistan Air Force JF-17 Thunder Arrive At Farnborough Airshow 2010

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Pak Interests Differ from US on Substantive Issues

By Dr. Shireen M Mazari

The Americans cannot understand mainstream Pakistan because they never get beyond the selected few amongst even the elite, the rulers and the civil and military bureaucracies. Ms Clinton never got the real picture on her earlier visit and surely she will not understand the depth of the anti-American sentiment that prevails in Pakistan today, despite (or perhaps because of) the massive inflows of intrusive aid into this country.

We are told she has come with a $500 million aid package and apparently the aid will go into power, agriculture, health and dams also – but as we all know for the Americans there is no such thing as a “free lunch” – and already our country is bleeding because of the alliance with the US so we are going to be bled some more with this aid package which is believed to be part of the old $ 7.5 billion Congressional aid package.

So why is one seeing this as a “bribe”? Simply because it is intended to soften the blow that the US is trying to deal Pakistan in terms of altering what remains of our indigenous foreign policy. So much has also been admitted by the self-styled expert on Pakistan, like many others on Holbrooke’s team, Vali Nasr. In a talk with CNN while he admitted that there was a wide trust gap between Pakistan and the US, besides stating that changing the relationship would take time. But his assessment was that “We are not going to be able to change their foreign policy on a dime.” If he had been a proper expert on Pakistan and actually knew the country well, he would have realised that it is not money that will alter Pakistan’s thinking (leaving aside the fifth columnists) on the US, but actually policy changes in US strategic policy especially in this region.

What are the primary changes the US will need to make to allow Pakistanis to rethink their perceptions of the US?

One, a stop in drone attacks, which can in definitional terms be regarded as state terrorism against the Pakistani people. Let Pakistan talk to its militants – many of whom are Pakistani citizens – rather than demanding our military simply kill the people of FATA indiscriminately.

Two, a new approach to the Pakistan-India relationship and a more even-handed policy towards both states. As long as the Indo-US nuclear agreement remains and the US pressurises Pakistan on its civil nuclear agreements with China, the US will be suspect. Also, the supply of state-of-the-art conventional weapon systems to India with no restrictions on their use, and the highly conditional sale of F-16s to Pakistan also add to the suspicions about the US agenda for Pakistan. And let us not forget the missile defence system for India, which will compel Pakistan to increase the number of its warheads and missiles. On Kashmir also, the recent statement by the US State Department, echoing the Indian position and ignoring the disputed status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir within the UNSC, hardly creates confidence in Pakistan. Many are asking why this is so and what the secret clauses are to this Agreement since the US is desperately seeking access for India through the land route across Pakistan into Afghanistan?

Three, the US has to rid itself of its approach to the Muslim World, especially towards Muslim states that refuse to toe the US line. Its killings of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan; its harassment of Muslims in the US itself all add to the anti-US sentiment. The US analysts are ignorant about the fact that Pakistan has since 1947 been in the frontline of assisting Muslim causes – be it our pilots flying Syrian planes against Israel or the Tunisian and Algerian leadership using Pakistani passports and our embassy in Paris as they struggled for independence from France – to cite a few examples only. Read more of this post

Double standards in nuke cooperation

By Fu Xiaoqiang (China Daily)

The civil nuclear cooperation agreement between Pakistan and Chinese companies has attracted wide attention, with some countries even questioning the legality of the deal.

The pact is however a routine development and is a sign of pragmatic cooperation that will in fact be closely supervised by the concerned international authorities.

The strategic cooperative endeavor is not intended at targeting any third party. China has been an important source of assistance to Pakistan in several fields and this cooperation is the result of comprehensive bilateral strategic relations based on mutual trust.

Energy shortage has restricted economic development in Pakistan. Building nuclear power stations is an important solution to this problem.
The first and second stage of construction of the Chashma Nuclear Power Station has already been completed due to this bilateral cooperation initiative.

Civil nuclear cooperation is the fruit of deepening bilateral ties and is not only a win-win choice for both nations but also contributes to the stability and prosperity of South Asia.

Chinese companies’ involvement in civil nuclear projects is a routine economic activity. The overall installed capacity of civil nuclear power in Pakistan will increase several-fold in the next decade, turning Pakistan into an important market for international nuclear power service suppliers.

In this context, China National Nuclear Corporation’s (CNNC) construction of two new nuclear reactors for Pakistan, which is being closely supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), should be deemed normal entrepreneurial behavior that does not breach China’s promise of nuclear non-proliferation as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

In fact, the US has already started talks with Pakistan about civil nuclear cooperation. Due to domestic political compulsions, the nuclear tycoons of the West cannot compete in Pakistan’s nuclear reactors market. This should not, however, be made into an excuse to stop other nations’ companies from initiating routine nuclear cooperation with Pakistan.

It is illogical to approach the civil nuclear cooperation agreement between China and Pakistan using double standards. To some extent, similar cooperation – between the US and India – has provided China and Pakistan with a practical model.

After signing a nuclear cooperation agreement with the US in 2006, India became free to accept civil nuclear fuel and core technologies from the US – as long as it separated its civil nuclear facilities from military ones – even though the country hadn’t signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

The IAEA council agreed to provide supervision guarantees to India after the US and India lobbied widely for the same in 2008. Forty-five members of the NSG reached agreement to lift restrictions on nuclear export to India later in the same year, after which the India-US cooperation entered a crucial stage. The US has reportedly sold nuclear material to India ever since, while Russia is helping India build more than 10 reactors.

Since it initiated large-scale nuclear cooperation with the US and Russia, it is groundless for India to complain about similar cooperation – on a much smaller scale – between Pakistan and China. It is India and the US that has opened the so-called nuclear Pandora’s box.

Their cooperation has, in some degree, removed obstacles for the Sino-Pakistan pact. Anybody nodding to the US and India has no reason to dissent to China and Pakistan now. The international community should abandon its ideological prejudice towards China and Pakistan.

Some Westerners think the civil nuclear cooperation between India and the US will certainly help improve the lives of ordinary Indian citizens simply because of their shared identity as free democratic countries.

In contrast, the deal between China and Pakistan, so-called non-democracies, must be evil and threatening, they aver. These double standards are a typical legacy of the Cold War era power politics. Any conclusion drawn from such a mentality deserves second thought. Read more of this post

Pak-US vs Pak-China relations

By S.m. Hali

Decision makers in Pakistan are often torn between opting for strategic relations with the US or China: ties with either of the two should be mutually exclusive. However, as Pakistanis wonder whether Pakistan is a US ‘ally’ or ‘target’, China with its quiet unobtrusive help continues to win the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan. The question here is, why is it that the US continues to pump money, train Pakistani security forces and provide technical support, yet it continues to draw flak? It is worth examining the reason for this dichotomy.

The Pak-US military relations have been like a rollercoaster ride. Historically, no US ally has faced as many sanctions from it as Pakistan. A brief history of the Pak-US military relations indicates that they commenced in 1954/55, with the signing of the SEATO/CENTO pact, after which Pakistan started receiving weapons and training from America. In July 1957, Pakistan permitted the US to establish a secret intelligence facility in the country and for the U-2 spy plane to operate from Badaber, near Peshawar. But when the plane was shot down by the Soviet army and its pilot captured alive on May 1, 1960, it embarrassed the US and brought Soviet ire on Pakistan. Since the Pakistani government was kept in the dark regarding the clandestine US operations, it asked the US to wind up its activities in Pakistan.

During the Indo-China war in 1962, the US supply of defence equipment to India, despite Pakistan’s objections, soured the Pak-US relations. On the contrary, the US did not come to Pakistan’s aid either in the 1965 or the 1971 Indo-Pak wars, despite a pact for mutual defence, forcing Pakistan to denounce its SEATO and CENTO membership. In addition, the Pak-US relations underwent a severe blow with Pakistan’s nuclear tests on May 28, 1998, and the ensuing sanctions. The ouster of then premier Nawaz Sharif in 1999 in a military coup led by General Musharraf gave the US government another reason to invoke fresh sanctions under Section 508 of the Foreign Appropriations Act, which included restrictions on foreign military financing and economic assistance.

Now let us examine Pak-China relations briefly. The relationship between the two countries began in 1950s when Pakistan was among the first countries, and the only Muslim nation, to recognise the People’s Republic of China and tried to build good relations with the newly independent country. Pakistan also helped China become a member of the United Nations and has been instrumental in helping it to maintain relations with the Muslim world. It has also played a leading role in bridging the communication gap between China and the West, through Henry Kissinger’s secret visit in 1971, which became the forerunner of President Nixon’s historic Beijing tour, establishing to the world that China was a lawful entity. Read more of this post

The Unwinnable War in Afghanistan

Saving face in unwinnable war

Sinking in debt and no closer to victory, heads may roll as the U.S. and NATO wrap up their pointless Afghan adventure

American soldiers search for caves concealing weapons in eastern Afghanistan. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

By ERIC MARGOLIS, QMI AGENCY

Fire-breathing U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his Special Forces “mafia” were supposed to crush Afghan resistance to western occupation. But McChrystal was fired after rude remarks from his staff about the White House.

A more cerebral and political general, David Petraeus, replaced McChrystal. Petraeus managed to temporarily suppress resistance in Iraq.

Last week, the usually cautious Petraeus vowed from Kabul to “win” the Afghan War, which has cost the U.S. nearly $300 billion to date and 1,000 dead. The problem: No one can define what winning really means. Each time the U.S. reinforces, Afghan resistance grows stronger.

Afghanistan is America’s longest-running conflict.

The escalating war now costs U.S. taxpayers $17 billion monthly. President Barack Obama’s Afghan “surge” of 30,000 more troops will cost another $30 billion.

The Afghan and Iraq wars — at a cost of $1 trillion — are being waged on borrowed money when the U.S. is drowning in $13.1 trillion in debt.

America has become addicted to debt and war.

By 2011, Canadians will have spent an estimated $18.1 billion on Afghanistan, $1,500 per household.

The U.S. Congress, which alone can declare and fund war, shamefully allowed U.S. presidents George W. Bush and Obama to usurp this power. A majority of Americans now oppose this imperial misadventure. Though politicians fear opposing the war lest they be accused of “betraying our soldiers,” dissent is breaking into the open.

Last week, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele let the cat out of the bag, admitting the Afghan war was not winnable. War-loving Republicans erupted in rage, all but accusing Steele of high treason. Many of Steele’s most hawkish Republican critics had, like Bush and Dick Cheney, dodged real military service during the Vietnam War.

Republicans (I used to be one) blasted McChrystal’s sensible policy of trying to lessen Afghan civilian casualties from U.S. bombing and shelling. There is growing anti-western fury in Afghanistan and Pakistan over mounting civilian deaths.

By clamouring for more aggressive attacks that endanger Afghan civilians and strengthen Taliban, Republicans again sadly demonstrate they have become the party and voice of America’s dim and ignorant.

Obama claimed he was expanding the Afghan War to fight al-Qaida. Yet the Pentagon estimates there are no more than a handful of al-Qaida small-fry left in Afghanistan.

Obama owes Americans the truth about Afghanistan.

After nine years of war, the immense military might of the U.S., its dragooned NATO allies, and armies of mercenaries have been unable to defeat resistance to western occupation or create a popular, legitimate government in Kabul. Drug production has reached new heights.

As the United States feted freedom from a foreign oppressor on July 4, its professional soldiers were using every sort of weapon in Afghanistan, from heavy bombers to tanks, armoured vehicles, helicopter gunships, fleets of drones, heavy artillery, cluster bombs and an arsenal of hi-tech gear.

In spite of this might, bands of outnumbered Pashtun tribesmen and farmers, armed only with small arms, determination and limitless courage, have fought the West’s war machine to a standstill and now have it on the strategic defensive. Read more of this post

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