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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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

Can aggressors be peacemakers?

An Afghan homeless boy sleeps on a street in Kabul

by Mahboob A Khawaja

Wars are planned and orchestrated by the few, the privileged ruling elite, the humanity becomes the targeted victims of the few for global hegemonic governance. Throughout the ages, the conscientious mankind searched for ways to undo the war and strive for peace, the real aim for the establishments of international institutions. But now the global institutional capacity to deal with peace and conflict management appears in ruin with the continued onslaught of the American led so called War on Terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Like the failed League of Nations, the UNO is an umbrella institution for debate and time consuming dialogue – a new nuisance model of the 21st century institutional failure. Most UN funding is covered by I.O.U. paper notes by the leading powers. They decide and control what the UN can and should do, not the UN itself. It is a dummy and silent spectator organization witnessing all the global catastrophic disasters in progress. A global puppet show to deceive the humanity with visual illusions of intentions, discussions, complemented by lies and deceptions assuming new titles for the international politics. Bush and Blair have been replaced by Obama and Cameron to overtake the wars of aggressions in Iraq and Afghanistan. With changed faces, strategies and aims remain the same to continue the war against Islam. Today, there was an allied global conference in Kabul to talk about its reconstruction and future. The question is, why was Afghanistan invaded and destroyed?

Realizing the eminent defeats by the handful forces of Talaban, the allies are gathered to make their presence known for propaganda purposes to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan and global audience. Talaban fighting the intruders are not the foreigners but people of the land. The US, British and others paid agents are foreigner mercenaries fighting in a foreign land, culturally unknown and unconquerable by their armed forces. Piety and peacemaking vis-à-vis aggression and wickedness cannot be combined as credible attributes in one mindset and one character. Now, the issue is, how conveniently, the aggressors want to redefine their strategic role and ambitions in Afghanistan as peacemakers as if they have achieved the goals of their aggression. Imagine, Adolph Hitler while occupying France and continuing bombing of London, wanted to organize a peace conference. Would it have been a logical discourse for the French and British people to talk peacemaking with the aggressor? Bush and Hitler had lot in common as both claimed to have the divine support for their mission. Both tried to destroy the living humanity but fell in disgrace and met defeats.

A week earlier, Talaban while talking to the BBC reporter in Kabul, made it clear that they believe in peacemaking but all the foreign forces must leave Afghanistan. The same logic that French and British politicians would have implied to Hitler. Could the facts of human life be changed, be it Iraq, Afghanistan or the occurrences of the 2nd World War?

The “war on terror” was a bogus war planned by the US neoconservatives to occupy Iraq and other oil rich Muslim countries for their strategic goals. Both the US and its allies failed miserably to conquer the people of these lands. The people of Iraq and Afghanistan need change for peace and normalcy. The change can only happen if the US led occupying forces leave immediately and compensate the victim nations for the war damages. The same formula used at the end of the WW2. The same legal principle is needed that the aggressors be brought to legal and political accountability in an international war tribunal such as Nuremberg tribunal after the end of the WW2. E. H Carr, the famous historian, had emphasized that history has learning role for the future. Those who defy the logic of learning were lost without a trace.

Would the aggressors tell the humanity, when would they end the aggression? And when would their armed forces finally leave Iraq and Afghanistan? So that the victims could think openly and plan for change and peaceful transfer to making of their own future. This is the issue that the current gathering of the 70 or so nations avoided to discuss. The assembly was not for peacemaking but for prolonging the failing war efforts. The leaders wanted to discuss the developmental aid, a typical western materialistic scenario to help the impoverished nations. The aid gimmick is an attractive illusion to entrap the poor nations and exploit their resources for the good of the colonial masters. The US and Britain survive on borrowed money from the future generations as their own financial institutions have collapsed and so are the political powerhouses and working agencies. But the aid’s long term purpose is to create more beggars and poverty and dependent nations asking for external aid and to survive on borrowed future and resources. The discussion developmental aid and withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan sends a clear signal of defeat and prospective surrender to the Talaban fighting for the freedom of their homeland.

Future must be anew, not the repetition of the past. Future making does not lie with the aggressors nor with the failed international institutions, it is with the will and resolve of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan to oust the aggressors and recover their homes and habitats for rebuilding their lives and human dignity. The US led forces went to Iraq and Afghanistan in pursuit of freedom, liberty and justice for the people. Instead they planned and developed the institutions of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Belgrham prison in Afghanistan. Facts speak for themselves. All you need to do is to see the outcomes, the triumphs of the American version of liberty, human rights and justice role models, the inhuman treatment and horrifying photos of the prisoners are easily available from the internet, and the photos speak their own language depicting the American-British civilized achievements in the Arab-Islamic world. Mr. Karzai, the self-made president of Afghanistan, claimed that he and the participating members of the Arab-Islamic world represent the Islamic version of the civility and not terrorism. Mr. Karzai or others in attendance, the Arab-Muslim staged actors do not represent the interest and priorities of the Muslim Ummah.

The people of the Islamic world see them all as a pan on the global political chessboard being financed, supported and kept in office to steal the future of the people of Afghanistan and the Muslim world. He is viewed as part of the problem, not part of any workable solution. If the US and its comrades in arms the UNO, NATO and others were honest and responsible institutions, they should have outlined the priorities for immediate withdrawals of the forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. More importantly, if there are concerned Arab-Muslim leaders, they should set the agenda for the resolution of the Arab-Israeli problem, the making of an independent State of Palestine and the removal of the illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem. Apparently, there is no conference scheduled to deal with the real issues facing the global humanity. The states, the main puppet actors in the global political arena can be found existing on legal papers, not in the real world actions, and certainly not in a responsive manner to the concerned international community. Read more of this post

Hillary widens Pak-US distrust

By General Retd Mirza Aslam Beg

Diplomats are very careful in their words while delivering political speeches and also dealing with the leadership of other countries. They are polite, articulate and courteous, and convey even very tough messages with a touch of grace. But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her recent visit to Pakistan, appeared much emotionally disturbed, displaying a strange logic hit out to “decrease the historic distrust.” She said:

  • “Should an attack on the US be traced to Pakistan, it would have a very devastating impact.” This means, another demonstration of “shock and awe” over Pakistan as on Afghanistan in 2001, but with a mild difference. That India would also join the US, as it is also having jitters after the Mumbai attack.
  • “I believe, Mullah Omar and Osama are in Pakistan and you know they are here. Don’t double cross. Help us to get them.” For over nine years, the Americans and their allies have been trying to get them and having failed, now expect the Pakistan army to ‘produce the rabbits from the hat’, failing which Pakistan has to remain prepared to face the wrath of the sole superpower of the world.
  • Three: “Pak-China nuclear deal is a matter of great concern. We can trace the export of nuclear information and material from Pakistan, through all kinds of channels, to many different countries. We are fulfilling our commitment, but it is not a one-way street.” Since Pakistan and China have explained umpteen times that the nuclear deal is fully covered by the IAEA guarantees, it should not be a matter of concern for any one. But as this is a case of the ‘lion and the lamb’, Pakistan has to be prepared to face the onslaught of the “global-anti-nuclear-proliferation-regime comprising US, Israel and India”, ready to take out its nuclear assets and capabilities.
  • Four: “Pakistan is double crossing us in dealing with the terrorists. They are shielding the Haqqani group in particular, who are causing all the trouble for us in Afghanistan. It is time for Pakistan now to make sure that we are on the same page on Afghanistan” and “there is a gulf between how the Pakistanis define the good and bad Taliban and what Washington calls reconcilable and irreconcilable Taliban.”

As if, this was not enough, Pakistan and Afghanistan delegates were huddled together at Islamabad to sign the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement, while Hillary stood behind like a headmistress with a rod in hand, to ensure compliance. The entire process was completed in such a hurry, that the Pakistan’s representatives did not get the time to discuss the matter with Parliament, or at least with the members of the Cabinet. And our PM, who should not have been there, in any case, stood at the signing of the agreement with a cynical smile on his face.

Ms Clinton scored another point, by forcing the Pakistani government to restore the privilege of our Ambassador in Washington, to issue one year multiple visit visas’ to the Americans visiting Pakistan. This privilege was, however, misused in the past by the Americans working for Blackwater and other such shady organisations. It means that the old ‘cloak and dagger’ game is on, once again. 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

Pakistan-Afghanistan: The Conjoined Twins

Have you heard about Allama Iqbal Faculty at Kabul University? Sir Syed Science Faculty Block at Nangarhar University? Liaqat Ali Khan Engineering Faculty at Balkh University? Rehman Baba High School in Kabul? And the sprawling ten-tower Jinnah Hospital Complex in Kabul and the Nishtar Kidney Hospital in Jalalabad?

  • Pakistan will issue 250,000 multiple entry visas to applicants across Afghanistan in 2010
  • 28,000 Afghans have studied in Pakistani schools, colleges and universities in the past 30 years; Islamabad has longstanding policy of educating the children of Afghan refugees
  • About 500,000 Afghan children attend schools in Pakistan
  • The most successful professionals in today’s Afghan society had studied in Pakistan
  • Afghan graduates from Pakistani universities receive higher salaries than graduates from any other country in the region
  • Every single day in 2009, 52,000 Afghans entered Pakistan for business, education and tourism
  • Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara Afghans are as welcome in Pakistan as the Pashtun Afghans
  • Pakistan once hosted 5.5 million Afghans, a majority of them continue to live with their Pakistani cousins
  • When the world abandoned Afghanistan after 1989, it was Pakistanis who supported their Afghan cousins

By AMBASSADOR MOHAMMAD SADIQ
[This is a revised version by the author]

KABUL, Afghanistan—While addressing the media in Islamabad on 11 March 2010, President Hamid Karzai very aptly said Pakistan and Afghanistan were conjoined twins. The remarks were not new but they hit the headlines, showing that nature of relations between the two countries continued to baffle many.

Mark Twain, the great American writer, had famously said Johann Sebastian Bach’s music was better than it sounded. If Twain were around today, he would have pronounced Pak-Afghan relationship ‘better than portrayed.’

Some 52,000 Afghans crossed border with Pakistan everyday in 2009 for business, jobs, medical treatment, education and to visit relatives. This was a significant increase over a year ago when 44,000 Afghans traversed the border daily. More visitors now undertake documented travel between the two countries by obtaining visas or visit permits.

Our Missions in Afghanistan have geared up to issue quarter of a million multiple entry visas to Afghan nationals during 2010. Pakistan issues more visas to Afghans than the rest of the world combined. Pakistan does not charge any visa fee from Afghan passport holders.

Contrary to the craftily promoted perception that Afghans of only one ethnicity are welcomed in Pakistan, one finds people from all over Afghanistan in Pakistani cities. Our consular records show that visas issued to Afghan nationals closely represent the ethnic composition of the population.

Despite occasional ups and downs at certain levels, the overall bilateral relations remained remarkably frequent and cordial. This explains the continued presence of over three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan for last 30 years. At one point, over 5.5 million Afghans were living in Pakistan. 37 percent of the refugees who voluntarily repatriate to Afghanistan are back in Pakistan within weeks.

In last thirty years, Afghans of all ethnicities and of political views had taken refuge in Pakistan: whether it was mass exodus against the Soviet occupation or flight from atrocities of a decade long internecine war. They looked at Pakistan as a place where they could find safety, at least temporarily, for their families.

The world hurriedly left Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal. The unfortunate events of 9/11 have reengaged the world in Afghanistan but still little attention is paid to the honourable return of refugees to their homes. The international community’s attitude towards Afghan refugees is rather callous. Just one example: they were disenfranchised in the last Presidential elections because the international community claimed that it was short of funds!

Due to Pakistan’s longstanding policy on educating Afghan nationals, some 28,000 Afghans had attended Pakistani universities and colleges in last three decades. Today, 6,000 Afghan students are enrolled in Pakistan’s colleges and universities. This represents about 60 percent of all Afghans studying in institutions of higher education abroad. In addition, about half a million Afghan refugee children attend schools in Pakistan.

To facilitate the capacity building efforts of other donors, Pakistan also encourages third party sponsorship of training of Afghan students and officials in its institutions. Under this policy, over five hundred Afghan nationals attended courses in the field of agriculture from a few weeks duration to postgraduate degrees in the AgricultureUniversity of Peshawar alone. Scores were trained in other professions ranging from medicine to civil aviation.

Over the years, Afghan students in Pakistan have mostly been allowed the same opportunities and treatment which are extended to our own nationals. A whole generation of Afghans is thus educated, and now gainfully employed, inside Afghanistan or abroad.

Most successful professionals in today’s Afghan society had studied in Pakistan. They dominate the work place not only in government offices, international organizations and NGOs but also as professionals, businessmen, and skilled and semi-skilled workers.

And more proudly, Afghan graduates from Pakistani universities are paid significantly higher salaries than graduates from any other neighboring country.

Pakistan is further providing 2,000 fully funded graduate and post-graduate scholarships to Afghan students in its institutions of higher learning over the next four years. The placements are being made in ten different fields from medicine to IT to agriculture. The first batch of the students under this programme had already left for Pakistan early this year.

Providing consistent and across the board education and capacity building opportunities is Pakistan’s greatest gift to the people of Afghanistan and it is considered so innate that it is hardly mentioned in any discourse in Kabul.

Another important area where Pakistan has been of unlimited help to the people of Afghanistan is healthcare. Afghans are provided free medical care in Pakistan’s government hospitals, a facility available to our own nationals.

Over 90 percent of Afghans who seek medical treatment abroad visit Pakistan. Most of the Afghan patients opt for free treatment at government or philanthropic healthcare facilities. Moneyed Afghan patients are welcomed by many countries but for their less fortunate compatriots only Pakistan has kept its doors opened.

Just a few examples of the effects of this facility: 40 percent of patients in Peshawar’s major government hospitals and 11 percent patients in tertiary hospitals all over Pakhtunkhwa province are Afghans; over 50 percent patients in major government hospitals in Quetta are Afghan nationals; and two Pakistani philanthropic hospitals perform free eye surgeries on about 30,000 Afghans every year. Read more of this post

Israeli agents in Kabul for anti-Pakistan media war

A group of Israeli undercover operatives is stated to have reached Kabul at the invitation of Indian government to participate in activities aimed at intensifying media war against Pakistan in a bid to create mistrust between NATO and Pakistani security forces.

Highly-placed diplomatic sources based in Kabul revealed on Thursday that a team of Israeli journalists headed by Dan Williams, a Jerusalem-based writer, reached Kabul recently to intensify media war against Pakistan.

Dan Williams contacted Indian Ambassador for a meeting and later crafted a strategy to step up frequency propaganda against Pakistan, playing frontline role in the war on terror.

The sources further revealed that the Indian Ambassador had visited Israel in the past and held a detailed meeting with Dan Williams at Tel Aviv.

The Indian Ambassador asked the Israeli journalists, having influence in Western media, to visit Afghanistan and participate in media war to tarnish the image of Pakistan in the international community.

The Indian government also pledged to pay all the expenses besides lucrative incentives during their stay in Kabul.

“These journalists have been tasked not only to project India’s perspective on Afghanistan but also step up propaganda to defame Pakistan,” the sources added.

They further said the Indian ambassador also assured foolproof security to the visiting journalists in Afghanistan and forwarded a formal request to their intelligence network in this regard, asking them to assist the delegates.

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: the nasty north

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by I M Mohsin:

So far the main headache for the foreign forces has been the ‘insurgency’ in the Pashtun areas of the south. Hence, a COIN strategy was devised by the General Staff and adopted only after its approval by the President. This resulted in a surge of forces. as against all kinds of advice and suggestions ranging from Ambassador Karl Eikenberry to Mikhail Gorbachev. If history of the country was any guide this would be tantamount to putting your good money with bad money, which seldom works in the field of economics.

However, for some reason known to the US, a military operation was launched in Marjah, a small town in Helm-and Province, with a force of 15,000 troops, mostly US but some Afghan too. As usual the media went abuzz projecting the Operation Moshtarik, which is the biggest joint venture between the foreign troops and their Afghan counterparts during the Afghan war.

As it always happens in a war between a very powerful force and a ragtag entity, but one with a commitment to a cause, howsoever debatable, the Taliban launched daring attacks against their enemy for about two months. But later they reduced their attention to the operation in Marjah. The foreign troops started telling the media that they had scored a great victory against their enemy, which may have sold in the US. Soon the Taliban went on upping the ante in other provinces and they also made sure that Marjah would not look like an abandoned cause. The result is that even now it stays a bad bet for the US forces which feel, somewhat, comfortable by the liberal distribution of goodwill money among the local people.

The northern Afghanistan, unlike in the south, had sided with the US coalition since 9/11. As the Taliban were an authoritarian regime, they wanted to bring everything under their control ignoring even ethnic divisions which have always played a role in the Afghan history. Moreover, the Afghan culture of autonomy could not tolerate micro-management from Kabul. That is why the institution of warlords prevailed more often than not, as it does most ferociously under Karzai.

A school of thought believes that in defying the Taliban, Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Tajik Commander and the ‘Lion of Panjshir’ against the Soviet onslaught of 80’s, was planning to seek the creation of greater Tajikistan with alleged Russian help, perhaps out of disgust with his fellow Afghans.

Once he was killed in early September 2001 in a bombing-incident planned by the Taliban, the other leaders still holding out in the north had no option but to join the invading forces. A lot of evidence is now emerging about the role of the powerful US oil lobby in the attacks on Afghanistan following 9/11.

As Enron and UNOCAL had invested billions in ventures whose success depended on the passage of a pipeline through Afghanistan to Pakistan and onwards through India, the Taliban trying a tough bargain angered the ‘lobby’. As George Bush and many of the neocon stalwarts were obliged to support the lobby due to their inherent commonality of interest, the American policy got reduced to “you are either with us or against us.”

What happened is recent history. According to one estimate, the US used the aerial bombing atrociously although their enemy had no air force, which cost America $2 billion initially. The Taliban, despite being only a ragtag militia, kept up the honourable Afghan tradition and fought valiantly. However, seeing no openings they retreated to the mountains, which again was like history repeating itself in the new century.

The north remained fully involved with the US and the concerned warlords took their pound of flesh from the US, which needed their help to keep their acolyte in Kabul going. In addition to getting all kinds of benefits from the status quo, they started trading in heroin by growing large tracts of opium. This was more than a goldmine, as it met the demand in the US and Russia for the drugs. As was natural, the Pashtuns in the south, who have far bigger cultivable area, followed suit to benefit from the bounty offered by drug trade; more so, after the threat of a famine appeared on the horizon in 2004/5 to stave off starvation.

Seeing a breakthrough becoming available, the Taliban started offering security to the local cultivators so that their business flourished to everybody’s benefit, as the chances of any other kind of employment had become virtually non-existent under Karzai’s set up. Soon the drug traders felt obliged to pay a part of their earnings to the Taliban for their services and support to the southern drug enterprise. Helped by such shared interest, the Taliban re-emerged on the scene to challenge the foreign forces.

Apparently, their appeal also increased due to the incidents involving civilians, who were treated as ‘’collateral damage” by the foreign troops, which provoked even more anger among the Afghans. No wonder, the Taliban started getting stronger and also swelled in the south.

As the promised reconstruction failed to take off, a reaction started against the US forces even in the north. This was aggravated by the most unfortunate incidents of the killing of civilians out of fear or miscalculations. Kunduz experienced the most harrowing of such incidents when an oil tanker trying to cross a small river got stuck in the mud and the area was deliberately bombed by the US and NATO forces. This ended up with the killing of 150 people and wounding of twice that number. Two more similar incidents turned the tide in the north. The Taliban cashed in on such resentment and now the north is becoming a real sore point like the south.

Lately, a commander of the NATO forces advocated that an operation, like the one projected for Kandahar in June, should also be held in the north. This is seen as a must to stem the tide of attacks which is going up. If that is so, the supply line for foreign troops, which was considered safe, would also be blocked like the one in the south. Moreover, the Kyrgyzstan crisis could create more bottlenecks in the airlift of troops. The US must do some hard thinking or follow Karzai’s approach despite the outbursts of Hillary Clinton, which were also matched by similar expressions from her guest from Kabul. Only the USA’s advantage of asymmetrical power may not work. It’s Afghanistan!

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Result of American “War against Terror” in Afghanistan

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Result of American “War against Terror” in Afghanistan (from a hospital in Kabul, children deformed by depleted Uranium)

( http://acdn.france.free.fr/spip/article.php3?id_article=200&lang=en )



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