US far from winning in Afghanistan: McChrystal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US drone terrorism

The US is raining drones on Pakistani soil with a vengeance. On Tuesday alone the drones’ death toll has reached 30. Despite having proven counterproductive in the so-called ‘war on terror’, the drones have primarily killed innocent Pakistani civilians, including women and children, including over one hundred in January this year alone. The fallout for Pakistan is dreadful, Not only does it show that the Pakistani government is allowing its citizens to be killed by the US on Pakistani territory, it also creates more recruits for the extremists and militants and makes the job of winning over the tribals so as to isolate the hardcore militants that much more difficult. It would appear that that is the US insidious design against Pakistan, since they also know that such strikes not only add to the locals’ resolve to fight the Americans, but they also undermine the credibility of the Pakistan military and the state. At a time when the Pakistan Army is managing to win over the local tribes into committing to handing over militants, the drone attacks are undermining this critical effort to ending terrorism and extremism in the country.

Admiral Mullen, Chairman US JCS, has informed Congress that the Taliban are gaining influence in Afghanistan and in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. His argument was to convince Congress to give financial support for the US effort in Afghanistan. But if he and the US Congress were to ponder rationally as to why this is happening they would realise that the military factor is a major cause, especially the drone attacks. Instead, simply continuing to accuse Pakistan of being the “epicentre of global terrorism” is now becoming a costly cop out. The reality is that it is the misguided and deathly US policies, especially vis-a-vis the Muslim World that have become the root cause of fanning militancy and extremism globally.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan government has to take a stand on the drones beyond simple declaratory statements as these lack credibility. After all, as has been demonstrated by the Pakistan Air Force, we certainly have the technical capability to target the drones. So, if the US is not prepared to accept our demand and stop violating our sovereignty with the drone attacks, then we need to demonstrate intent and will through actions. Especially a democratic government needs to realise that it cannot justify the killing of its own people by a supposed ally on its own territory. In any case, one has to make a distinction in the punitive actions by a state against alleged terrorists and the violence perpetrated by the latter. The state must abide by legal norms and rules of engagement, otherwise they descend to the level of the terrorists. (The Nation)

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A Two-Front Threat Emerging For Pakistan

Dr. Shireeen M Mazari:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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.


Welcome to the Stone Age

Samson Simon Sharaf | Did Richard Armitage make an understatement when he threatened to pulp Pakistan to Stone Age? And in reaction, had Pakistani policy makers averted a conflict through unstinted support and secure ultimate national interests? As I have repeatedly asserted, the public through media is merely exposed to a very small fraction of the reality eclipsed with subtle propaganda. The unknown is of grave concern. Eight years hence, after all that has happened, Pakistan’s security perspectives have only deepened.

The ‘shock and awe’ phase of the invasion of Afghanistan witnessed the worse use of violence for global domination. In deciding the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan (Afpak), the Capitol Hill strategists chose to ignore a basic lesson of the American Civil War in which the North despite a ragtag army defeated the more sophisticated South; any use of violence related to hate and revenge will ultimately fail. ISAF, USA and the Afghan Combine, unlike Pakistan have ceded more and more ground to the Afghan resistance. The third surge seems to be lea-ding nowhere and prospects of an imminent US withdrawal look dimmer by the day. The question arises, then why Afghanistan?

In a conflict not of our choosing, but in many ways of our own making, landmarks crucial to a winning national strategy are elusive. Following military operations, Pakistan holds more ground in troubled areas. However, in a counter insurgency operation, ground is not always the most vital. In a conflict lacking manoeuvres and firepower, the insurgent has the option to melt away and float in the milieu like fish in water. The method, time and target to strike are always flexible, invariably punctuated with surprise. In contrast, the security mechanism remains stretched to limits, predictable and static. Devoid of any noteworthy economic and moral support, for how long will the country be able to sustain an ongoing asymmetrical conflict that is now costing more than all the wars in the past combined?

The effects of the Afghan conflict on Pakistan are damaging on all counts. The malaise is like a squamous with tentacles spread to every sinew of our society. The military to some extent may succeed in dominating the geographical and cyber space, but what of the individuals whose mind cannot be reached and tamed and who have the capacity to proliferate? They inevitably matter in a society fractured by poor economic conditions, sectarianism, crime and population explosion. Seen in the context of the ongoing political controversies, economic recession and fault lines within the society, it will take a very long and herculean efforts to restore normalcy. Given the obtaining environments, conditions are most likely to worsen before we could hope for a turn for the positive. What happens during the interim and how, we as a nation contend is the concern of every Pakistani. Tragically, a national policy to win hearts and minds in general and at the grassroots in particular is conspicuously missing. For how long can we play the flute while Pakistan burns?

Barring military operations daringly led by young officers, all other indicators of a national well being have gradually plummeted. Unplanned urbanisation in mega cities is rapidly morphing into bigger pockets of poverty providing breeding grounds for minimalist agendas. Wheat, sugar, rice, cotton, fertilizer, pesticide, cement and communication cartels are on an unchecked loose. Value added exports are being manipulated to dwindle in face of raw exports, pricing issues, time delays, energy shortages, transportation costs and high interest rates. Agricultural products like cane, cotton, wheat and paddy have virtually suffocated through pricing mechanisms, water shortages and energy inputs. Two years of bumper crops are now hampered by lack of winter monsoons and extremely low water particularly in the river systems. The GDP other than the incidental 1.1 is virtually at a halt. Barring the import bill, Pakistan’s economic downturn does not appear to be affected by the global recession. The question arises that despite positive home grown indicators, why Pakistan’s economy is being allowed to slide into shortages, hyperinflation and dependency?

Just like the insurgents need a cause and outside support to sustain themselves, counties fighting them also need a powerhouse to defeat them. Even the best military plans are doomed to fail in the absence of an all encompassing national strategy. So far the entire might of ISAF and USA with full international support and massive resources has only resulted in ceding more areas to Taliban. In contrast, Pakistan despite economic constraints, manipulative political economy and practically non-existent international assistance/support has cleared area after area. In terms of success ratios to economics, the results have been at a fraction of what ISAF and USA spend in Afghanistan. Yet the unending chants of ‘do more’ grows vociferous and threatening by the day. India has been showered far more praises in this WOT than Pakistan that has done the donkey’s work and remains a donkey.

Gratitude to Pakistan in this disowned conflict usually makes headlines in form of leaks by the American and British media reflecting an uneasiness with Pakistan’s nuclear capability and complicity with terrorism. This propaganda is followed by statements of US and UK officials synchronised with threatening statements and posturing from India and their military establishment. With the Baghliar Dam in operation and numerous ‘run of the river’ power generating units on rivers leading to Pakistan in place, India manipulates water flow at will.

What has the government done to formulate a cohesive national policy?

Rather than venture on an all-encompassing national austerity programme, boost domestic growth particularly in the agrarian sector, facilitate value addition of exports and initiate rehabilitation plans for young men exposed to militancy, the government seems to adopt and pursue policies to the contrary. International financial institutions with their unfriendly conditions are back. Price structuring is grossly manipulative and exports discouraged. At the same time the government is involved in serious political differences with its allies, military establishment and the judiciary. Rather than channelise all efforts into the conflict and nation building, resources are being wasted on issues not of immediate significance. It appears that Pakistan’s policy makers have willingly chosen to recluse the nation to backwardness. President’s recent tirades are unequivocal in that ‘if we go, everything goes with us’. This is indeed a very poor reflection of a country and its leadership at war.

Least metaphorically, lanterns and candles are back but expensive. Earthen oil lamps have replaced energy savers and petromax. Raw brown sugar is now a household substitute. In rural areas, donkey carts and bullocks are becoming the preferred mode of transport. A generation bred on consumerism and leasing is rushing to cycle shops.

Being loyal that we are, we will do it ourselves and save USA the bother. Welcome to the Stone Age!

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