September 24, 2011

QUOTE OF THE DAY


"Despite American pressure and persuasion, Pakistan has not changed its policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hound, with its heart with the hare and head with the hound. It is time the US understands that the war in Afghanistan will have to be fought and won on Pakistani soil." Ashok K Behuria, Source

Rabbani Assassination: An Assertive Taliban and America’s Dilemmas

http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/RabbaniAssassinationAnAssertiveTalibanandAmericasDilemmas_akbehuria_220911



Ashok K. Behuria

September 22, 2011

Burhanuddin Rabbani’s assassination proves the pessimists right. The process of reconciliation is dead. The story of his death is as gory as it is familiar. The immediate sequence of events leading to his assassination is somewhat like this.

On September 16, before leaving for Tehran to attend the Islamic awakening conference organised by Iran, Rabbani meets the media in Kabul. As the head of the Afghan high peace council, he looks sad, flustered and dismayed. He declares that the Taliban movement has become “a disaster for the Muslims of Afghanistan” and goes on to say that they are “not on right path...they are a conspiracy against Islam”, because they are killing Muslims in the name of Islam, recruiting teenagers for suicide bombing and teaching wrong things in their madrassas. Strong words indeed.

Rabbani does not stop there. In Tehran, he starts from where he left off in Kabul. In his address, he laments that some extremist suicide groups in Afghanistan regard the killing of Muslims in the name of Islam as legitimate, and urges the gathering of about 700 Islamic scholars that the time has come to take a strong stance against such groups.

Perhaps this was enough for him to cross the Taliban redline. He receives a call from his office in Kabul that the Taliban have sent their trusted emissary to talk to him and he has to come back. He is told that a senior former Taliban leader, Rehmatullah Wahidyar, who had reconciled in 2005 and joined him in his high peace council, had arranged the meeting.

Rabbani thinks his reprimand has worked, cuts short his visit to Dubai and rushes back home. Wahidyar and his trusted lieutenant Muhammad Masom Stanikzai escort two Taliban emissaries to his house. One of them, hiding an explosive under his turban, moves forward to hug him and detonates the explosive.

Exactly ten years ago another prominent Tajik leader, Ahmad Shah Masoud, was killed in similar circumstances. The moral of the story is that the Taliban have no mercy for any peace maker. They would go to any extent to eliminate their detractors.

Rabbani’s was the fifth high profile assassination since the killing of Gen. Khan Muhammad Mujahid, the police chief of Kandahar, in April 2011. This was followed by the killing of Gen. Daud Daud, a top police commander, in May. Subsequently, Karzai’s half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai and former governor of Uruzgan province, Jan Muhamamd, were assassinated in July. Days before Rabbani’s death, six suicide attackers targeted the US Embassy in a highly fortified neighbourhood; it required the deployment of the Afghan and NATO air force to take them out. All these are undeniable proof of the Taliban’s confidence in recent months. Why would they negotiate when they are winning the battle of nerves in Afghanistan?

It was pure common sense to argue until sometime ago – when the US announced its plan to withdraw against the backdrop of Taliban assertion – that the Taliban would never join the reconciliation process when they were clearly on the driver’s seat. While the determination of the US seemed to be flagging by 2009, the Taliban clearly set their eyes on Kabul. The developments during the last two and half years, ever since Obama declared his intent to pull out of Afghanistan, suggest that the “real Taliban” shall not come to the table in spite of the troops surge and the half-hearted persuasions of their benefactors.

It was also logical to imagine that the patrons of the Taliban (read the Pakistani establishment) would persuade the Taliban to join the process, facilitate the withdrawal of international forces and then help them assume power in Kabul by force or fraud to acquire “strategic depth”. There were hints that some of the Taliban leaders were amenable to the idea.

However, the fact remains that the Taliban has undergone a transformation in the meantime. During their exile they have metamorphosed into a Salafi-al Qaeda outfit. It appears that the mujahideen of the 1980s have been replaced by younger recruits within the Taliban fold; the latter are much more rigid and inflexible. It is unlikely that they would even allow Mullah Omar to reconcile with the Karzai regime.

Some days ago, the Afghan media had reported that Sirajuddin Haqqani, the 38 year old son of Jalaluddin Haqqani and leader of the infamous Haqqani network, had sent a message to Rabbani that he would participate in the reconciliation process only after all foreign forces left Afghanistan. After forcing the US to negotiate with them, the Taliban have now gone one step further – they demand the complete withdrawal of US forces from Afghan soil before any negotiation can start. Thus reconciliation talks are a non-starter.

Some analysts in the US have come up with the argument that with the killing of Osama, the US has won the war on terror. And that therefore it is time for the US to declare ‘mission accomplished’ and pull back from Afghanistan. They are perhaps not aware that they are echoing the Taliban demand.

In the face of dire economic crisis at home, long-term military commitments abroad have become unsustainable for the US administration. Therefore, it has to leave. However, it has to find a face saver. Reconciliation with the Taliban would have been a huge relief. The strategists in the US had hoped that the Taliban would oblige and Pakistan would behave. That did not happen.

Perhaps, the US is now looking for yet another face saver. It understands that leaving Afghanistan in a hurry, like it did in the 1990s, could prove disastrous. Therefore, it seeks to maintain its military presence in Afghanistan. It is desperately trying to convince President Karzai to sign a status of forces agreement, like the one it has secured in Iraq, to be able to keep a watch on the developments in Afghanistan post-withdrawal, to ensure that things do not become as bad as they did under the Taliban government. Karzai has so far not obliged the US. He must be aware of his steadily declining position and his limitations. In all probability, he would not sign such an agreement without generating some semblance of a national consensus on the issue.

Even if the US stays on, courtesy a last minute breather from Karzai, it will only maintain a thin military presence that is unlikely to deter Taliban advances. Drones may be an effective short term measure. But things have come to such a pass that taking out one, two or three top leaders will not stem the Taliban tide.

Either way, the American project of a free, democratic liberal Afghanistan is not going to materialise. The new Afghanistan that they had helped establish allegedly with the help of Afghan expatriates may be tottering on its last legs.

A realistic assessment would demand that the US isolates the factor that has breathed life into the Taliban and helped it gather strength. And that is unquestionably the sanctuaries and clandestine support provided to the Taliban — call it Quetta Shura or Haqqani group – by the shadowy operatives of the Pakistani establishment. Despite American pressure and persuasion, Pakistan has not changed its policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hound, with its heart with the hare and head with the hound. It is time the US understands that the war in Afghanistan will have to be fought and won on Pakistani soil.

ANOTHER MASSACRE OF HAZARAS IN BALOCHISTAN BY PRO-AL QAEDA ELEMENTS

B.RAMAN

Twenty-six Shia pilgrims belonging to the Hazara community were dragged out of a bus in which they were travelling at Mastung in Balochistan on September 20,2011, lined up and shot dead by unidentified gunmen suspected to be belonging to the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which is close to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Three others----of unknown sectarian or ethnic origin--- were killed subsequently.They were medical attendants who were in an ambulance which was rushing to the spot of the massacre.

2. The Hazaras have been the frequent targets of attacks in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan by anti-Shia groups----by the Taliban and the LeJ in particular. One would recall the massacre of the Hazaras in Afghanistan after the Taliban captured power in Kabul in September 1996 and allowed the LeJ to operate in Pakistan from sanctuaries in Afghan territory.

3. The Hazaras of Pakistan, who were suspected by Al Qaeda and the LeJ, of letting themselves be used by the US intelligence in its hunt for Osama bin Laden, subsequently became the targets of the LeJ.There have been many attacks on the Hazaras, who are to be found in large numbers in Balochistan.

4. Surprisingly, despite the suspected hostility of the Hazaras to Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the LeJ, Osama bin Laden chose to have his hide-out in Abbottabad, where there is a sizable Hazara community. Ever since bin Laden was killed by the US Navy SEALS in his Abbottabad hide-out on May 2, the LeJ has reportedly been suspecting that some members of the Hazara community of Abbottabad might have helped the US intelligence in tracking down bin Laden.

5. Since the death of bin Laden, there have been three attacks on the Hazaras in Balochistan by suspected cadres of the LeJ. There have been fears that the LeJ might attack the Hazaras of Abbottabad too----but this has not happened so far.

6. The Shias of Pakistan in general and the Hazaras of Balochistan in particular have been living in dread ever since the release on bail by a court in July of Malik Ishaq, the leader of the LeJ, who was under imprisonment since 1997 facing charges in over 40 cases of terrorism----many of them directed against the Shias and Iranians living and working in Pakistan. He was ordered to be released on grounds of weak evidence by the same judge (Justice AsifSaeedKhosa), who was earlier a member of the Lahore High Court bench that had ordered the release of Hafiz MohadSayeed of the Lashkar-e-Toiba on the ground that there was no evidence to show that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa of which Hafiz is the Amir had any links with the LET, which was involved in the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai. Justice Khosa is now in the Supreme Court.

7. Since his release, Ishaq has been touring in Punjab making venomous speeches against the Shias and justifying the LeJ’s attacks on the Shias as meant to protect the honour of the holy Prophet.In one of his speeches to his followers after his release from jail, he had said:“Prisons will not stop our mission. The LeJ is not a terrorist outfit. It was set up to ensure proper respect for the companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).Our struggle will continue.”

8.Fears that his hate speeches might lead to a fresh wave of attacks on the Shias of Punjab and Sindh have not materialised so far. However, there has been a surge in the attacks on the Hazaras of Balochistan. Some reports allege that the Mastung massacre was actually in retaliation for an unsuccessful attack on a gathering of Sunni followers ofIshaq in Alipur by suspected Shia elements.

9.The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had used the services of Ishaq and three others to negotiate with a group of terrorists who had raided the GHQ at Rawalpindi in October ,2009, and taken hostage a number of officers. Among others whose services were used by the ISI were Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, the chief of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, from which the LeJ was born following a split,MaulanaFazlurRehman Khalil, the Amir of the HarkatulMujahideen (HuM) and Mufti Abdul Rauf, the younger brother of MaulanaMasoodAzharthe Amir of the Jaish-e-Mohammad. They were flown in special aircraft from different places in Punjab to Rawalpindi to help the ISI in securing the release of the hostages.

10. Following the Mastung massacre of the Hazaras, the Punjab Government has placed Ishaq under house arrest for 10 days.( 24-9-11)



( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

India and the South China Seas: The Need for a Second Look

R. S. Kalha

September 23, 2011
Source: http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/IndiaandtheSouthChinaSeasTheNeedforaSecondLook_rskalha_230911

A recent article in the Chinese newspaper ‘Global Times’ by the columnist Liu Sheng cautioning India against going ahead with collaboration with Vietnam for oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea, is a timely reminder of the dangerous pitfalls that still exist in the Sino-Indian relationship. The Global Times quoted Jiang Yu, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, to state that ‘as for oil and gas exploration...we are opposed to any country engaged in the waters under China’s jurisdiction. We hope foreign countries do not get involved in the South China Sea dispute’. Although India was not directly named, yet the finger clearly pointed towards India. The paper also said that the oil reserves in the South China Sea were not an insignificant 28 billion barrels. Understandably, this homily from the Chinese, although vaguely worded, has received widespread coverage in the print and visual media in India. ONGC has an investment of about US$ 225 million in Vietnam.

The question uppermost in the minds of most Indians is how should we react to this piece of bluster? Should we just ignore this gratuitous ‘advice’ and go ahead with exploration in collaboration with Vietnam or should we listen to Chinese ‘advice’ and stay out of disputes that exist in the South China Sea? The Chinese media quoting well known personalities from university ‘think tanks’ in China seem to suggest that we are being pushed into such a course of action by the ‘active support of the US’. While the columnist scrupulously avoided attributing any malevolence to Vietnamese intentions, it pointedly referred to the existence since June this year of a bilateral agreement between China and Vietnam to settle all such disputes, ‘through negotiations and consultations.’ A clear hint to India that China’s line to Vietnam was still open!

It goes without saying that the most popular reaction would be to simply ignore the Chinese and go ahead with the bilateral arrangement with Vietnam. After all if India is considering an agreement with Vietnam, it would automatically follow that India does consider these waters to be within Vietnamese jurisdiction. That seems to be the position adopted by the government of India when Foreign Minister Krishna told his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh that India would ‘go-ahead’ and that India’s position was based on the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas. However, the real test would be if the rest of the countries involved in the South China Sea disputes such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei or even Taiwan also consider these waters to be Vietnamese. If none of them have protested to either India or to Vietnam over the proposed agreement, then China’s case becomes that much weaker and would be pure bluster. And what is the legal position of the US, Japan and perhaps South Korea? Not much is known publicly. Nevertheless, we cannot simply dismiss China’s protests as irrelevant, for the implications for India–China relations can be rather disturbing, including the security of our borders. Nor should we base our reactions on jingoism, but conduct a cool, calculated analysis of the emerging situation.

It goes without saying that when China protests we should always pay very close attention. In this case we would have to keep in mind the range of possibilities that exist and the options available should China decide to take its protests to the next stage; thereby triggering a confrontation. In the past China has demonstrated that when it comes to her own backyard, particularly the South China Sea, she is very sensitive and overtly aggressive. Often recourse has been taken to not only physically harassing the offending party, but cables and wires where work is in progress have been deliberately cut. Should ONGC-Videsh, the contracting party in this case, suffer a similar fate, what would be the reaction of the government of India? It is extremely problematical whether the Indian Navy can do a power projection just yet in the South China Sea to ward off the Chinese Navy. Nor are the Vietnamese in any position to do so. To fold our tent after the Chinese have initiated action would be a serious blow to our prestige.

We would do well to keep in mind that we have a long unsettled border with China. It is not possible to police every inch of this border. Therefore the Chinese at present retain the option, if they do wish to exercise it, of intruding several kilometres across the ‘Line of Actual Control’. As the LOAC is not demarcated on the ground, both India and China have different perceptions as to its actual alignment. The ground for creating mischief is therefore available.

The crux of the matter would be the role and attitude of the US and the only force capable of thwarting the Chinese in the South China Sea – the US 7th Fleet. In the recent past on Sino-Indian issues the attitude of the US has been rather ambivalent. Even in the aftermath of the 1962 conflict Robert Komer, an influential National Security Council staff member, wrote a memo for President Kennedy on December 16, 1962 which highlighted the following:

‘That it is as much in our strategic interest to keep up a high degree of Sino-Indian friction as it is to prevent from spilling over into a large scale war’. [FRUS 61-63 Vol. xix.]

In the present times the US is beset with economic problems with its public debt which was US$ 6.4 trillion in 2008 constituting about 60 per cent of its GDP, now having climbed to US$ 14.2 trillion or 98 per cent of its GDP. Only Italy and Japan are worse off amongst the major powers. China is one of the biggest holders of US debt. According to the well known US economist, Joseph Stiglitz, the Iraq war alone cost the US some US $3 trillion and there is still no end yet in sight for US involvement both in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its armed forces are unduly stretched. It is for this reason that the US turned down the pleas of its close NATO allies France and the UK and refused to militarily intervene in the recent crisis in Libya.

Given the present predicament of the US, Indian policy planners would do well to pay due heed to caution when dealing with a potentially explosive situation that might develop in the South China Seas. There is no point in acting with bravado when we do not have the necessary military capacity to take on the Chinese in the South China Seas. It would be very wise indeed to take a hard second look at our involvement in the disputed waters of the South China Sea!

The western Baluchistan has been subject to repeated Persian policies of Persianzation,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The western Baluchistan has been subject to repeated Persian policies of Persianzation,



An attempt to keep the Baluch nation in chain and divide Baluchistan among looters is morally and theoretically unstable and politically unsustainable. That is true the post colonial states have developed a technique to maintain the artificial boundaries. The problem for Iran and Pakistan is that the states boundaries not sustainable.

If the Baluch come to the international community under the heading of a nation they get nothing other than the article 27 rights; the current UN frame work provide no incentive for the Baluch to identify themselves as a nation inside another states. Because a nation is entitle to an independent state.

The western Baluchistan has been subject to repeated Persian policies of Persianzation, including the suppression of Baluchi language rights, renaming towns and villages to wipe out evidence of Baluch history and settlement policies that attempt to swamp the Baluchistan with Persian settlers.


Some Baluch have gone to the United Nations working group on minorities to complain that their rights as nation minority inside Iran are not respected. But the united nation does not recognise Baluch as a nation having any distinctive right. Would they re-label their identity that time will tell?

The stateless people under the UNPO are debating to redefine their status as an indigenous people to gain some international protection. The international community never recognise the Baluch right to national self determination. Unless Baluch nation uses national self determination as powerful tool to mobilise members to defend their claim to independent state and develop a power to destabilise a state.
M.Sarjov
http://http://sarjau.blogspot.com/2011/09/western-baluchistan-has-been-subject-to.html

The western Baluchistan has been subject to repeated Persian policies of Persianzation,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The western Baluchistan has been subject to repeated Persian policies of Persianzation,



An attempt to keep the Baluch nation in chain and divide Baluchistan among looters is morally and theoretically unstable and politically unsustainable. That is true the post colonial states have developed a technique to maintain the artificial boundaries. The problem for Iran and Pakistan is that the states boundaries not sustainable.

If the Baluch come to the international community under the heading of a nation they get nothing other than the article 27 rights; the current UN frame work provide no incentive for the Baluch to identify themselves as a nation inside another states. Because a nation is entitle to an independent state.

The western Baluchistan has been subject to repeated Persian policies of Persianzation, including the suppression of Baluchi language rights, renaming towns and villages to wipe out evidence of Baluch history and settlement policies that attempt to swamp the Baluchistan with Persian settlers.


Some Baluch have gone to the United Nations working group on minorities to complain that their rights as nation minority inside Iran are not respected. But the united nation does not recognise Baluch as a nation having any distinctive right. Would they re-label their identity that time will tell?

The stateless people under the UNPO are debating to redefine their status as an indigenous people to gain some international protection. The international community never recognise the Baluch right to national self determination. Unless Baluch nation uses national self determination as powerful tool to mobilise members to defend their claim to independent state and develop a power to destabilise a state.
M.Sarjov
http://http://sarjau.blogspot.com/2011/09/western-baluchistan-has-been-subject-to.html

The western Baluchistan has been subject to repeated Persian policies of Persianzation,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The western Baluchistan has been subject to repeated Persian policies of Persianzation,



An attempt to keep the Baluch nation in chain and divide Baluchistan among looters is morally and theoretically unstable and politically unsustainable. That is true the post colonial states have developed a technique to maintain the artificial boundaries. The problem for Iran and Pakistan is that the states boundaries not sustainable.

If the Baluch come to the international community under the heading of a nation they get nothing other than the article 27 rights; the current UN frame work provide no incentive for the Baluch to identify themselves as a nation inside another states. Because a nation is entitle to an independent state.

The western Baluchistan has been subject to repeated Persian policies of Persianzation, including the suppression of Baluchi language rights, renaming towns and villages to wipe out evidence of Baluch history and settlement policies that attempt to swamp the Baluchistan with Persian settlers.


Some Baluch have gone to the United Nations working group on minorities to complain that their rights as nation minority inside Iran are not respected. But the united nation does not recognise Baluch as a nation having any distinctive right. Would they re-label their identity that time will tell?

The stateless people under the UNPO are debating to redefine their status as an indigenous people to gain some international protection. The international community never recognise the Baluch right to national self determination. Unless Baluch nation uses national self determination as powerful tool to mobilise members to defend their claim to independent state and develop a power to destabilise a state.
M.Sarjov
http://http://sarjau.blogspot.com/2011/09/western-baluchistan-has-been-subject-to.html

The western Baluchistan has been subject to repeated Persian policies of Persianzation,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The western Baluchistan has been subject to repeated Persian policies of Persianzation,



An attempt to keep the Baluch nation in chain and divide Baluchistan among looters is morally and theoretically unstable and politically unsustainable. That is true the post colonial states have developed a technique to maintain the artificial boundaries. The problem for Iran and Pakistan is that the states boundaries not sustainable.

If the Baluch come to the international community under the heading of a nation they get nothing other than the article 27 rights; the current UN frame work provide no incentive for the Baluch to identify themselves as a nation inside another states. Because a nation is entitle to an independent state.

The western Baluchistan has been subject to repeated Persian policies of Persianzation, including the suppression of Baluchi language rights, renaming towns and villages to wipe out evidence of Baluch history and settlement policies that attempt to swamp the Baluchistan with Persian settlers.


Some Baluch have gone to the United Nations working group on minorities to complain that their rights as nation minority inside Iran are not respected. But the united nation does not recognise Baluch as a nation having any distinctive right. Would they re-label their identity that time will tell?

The stateless people under the UNPO are debating to redefine their status as an indigenous people to gain some international protection. The international community never recognise the Baluch right to national self determination. Unless Baluch nation uses national self determination as powerful tool to mobilise members to defend their claim to independent state and develop a power to destabilise a state.
M.Sarjov
http://http://sarjau.blogspot.com/2011/09/western-baluchistan-has-been-subject-to.html

MRS.SONIA GANDHI: LEAD THE FIGHT AGAINST CANCER

B.RAMAN

A few days ago, Mrs.Sonia Gandhi, the Congress President, returned to New Delhi after a month-long stay abroad ---presumed to be in New York--- for medical treatment, which necessitated a surgery.According to party spokespersons, she has recovered well from her ailment and has started the process of resuming her normal political activities. We wish her well as she resumes her normal routine.

2. The nature of her ailment, which necessitated a surgery, has not been disclosed to the public, but it is widely believed that the treatment was for cancer in an undisclosed part of her body.

3.Iam writing this article as a cancer patient myself, who has been under treatment for 22 months now for metastasised (widely spread before detected) cancer in the lower part of the abdomen. Before it was detected, the cancer had affected my prostate, the urinary bladder, a nearby bone and a lymph node. Fortunately, it has not caused me any pain so far.My body has been responding well to the treatment.

4. For a month after my cancer was detected in 2009, I was out of circulation, but, thereafter, even while undergoing the treatment, I have resumed my normal physical and intellectual activities. I have been writing as regularly as before, participating in seminars and TV discussions as frequently as before and travelling inside India as often as before. The quality of my life has not changed in any significant manner as a result of my cancer and the treatment.

5. What I have learnt during this period is that cancer is like any other physical ailment. It is not a tragedy. It is not the end of the world. It is not something to be ashamed of. One can fight cancer as one fights any other ailment and still lead an active and energetic life.

6. From the beginning, I have been very transparent about my cancer. I take the initiative in sharing not only with my friends and relatives, but also with my readers and the general public news of my treatment and the progress that I have been making in my fight against cancer. After every quarterly medical check-up, I myself post in my blog details of my condition as told to me by my doctor. I have written two articles on my fight against cancer, posted them in my blog and widely disseminated them through the Internet. I have seen to it that there is no unnecessary and undesirable mystery about my cancer. Mystery gives rise to avoidable speculation, which is not advisable for a public personage.

7. The cheerful manner in which I have been fighting it and voluntarily sharing the information with others has given me a certain pride in myself. I also like to think that it has enhanced the respect in which I am held by others.

8.The alleged secrecy surrounding the exact nature of Mrs.Sonia Gandhi’s ailment and the details of the progress in her treatment were discussed in some detail and with considerable sympathy by Ms.Nirmala Subramanian of “The Hindu” in an editorial page article earlier this week.She needs to be complimented for handling a personally and politically sensitive subject with considerable understanding and seriousness ---- while taking care not to hurt the feelings of Mrs.Sonia Gandhi and her family members.

9. Mrs.Sonia Gandhi and her family have a right to privacy in matters relating to her ailment and her medical treatment. Sinceshe occupies an important position as the leader of a party which is leading the present coalition Government, the public too has a right to know as much as possible about her health. It is not obscene curiosity. It is a way of reassuring ourselves that Mrs.Sonia Gandhi has been responding well to the treatment and that her normal personal and political life will not be affected in any way by the treatment.

10. Till some years ago, all over the world, cancer was treated as something to be kept a secret. People diagnosed with cancer often used to disappear from public view and avoid contacts and sharing with other human beings. Now, the attitude to cancer has changed and continues to change.

11. Doctors and social activists discourage cancer patients from withdrawing into a shell. They encourage them to share freely with others the details of their ailment and the treatment and to continue to lead as active and as energetic a life as possible.

12. Cancer has to be fought and can be fought successfully without allowing your life-style to be affected significantly. In the fight against cancer, the psychological aspect is as important as the medicinal aspect. Fight, share and be active--- that is the message of today to all cancer patients.

13. In our country, many hospitals are encouraging cancer patients to develop the right mental attitude to strengthen their capability for handling the psychological dimension. A couple of days ago, a Chennai hospital had organised a get-together of cancer patients as part of such an exercise.

14.In our country, knowledge of cancer is still limited. As a result, many ---patients as well as their relatives---look upon cancer as a tragedy and as the beginning of the end of life. Doctors are trying to reassure people that it is not.

15. In the fight against cancer and in the campaign to spread awareness of the importance of will power and the right mental attitude to the ailment,Mrs.Sonia Gandhi, her children and party can play a very important role by fighting and sharing.Mrs.Sonia Gandhi is already on the way to becoming her usual active self after her return from the US.

16. She should not remain satisfied with merely resuming an active personal and political life. She should with gusto take over the leadership in public of the fight against cancer. She cannot do this effectively if she and those close to her continue to maintain secrecy about her ailment and the treatment. She must share the details with the public and contribute to the fight against cancer.

17. That’s what Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi would have done in similar circumstances. That’s what Mrs.SoniaGandhi should do. As the opening shot of the exercise, she should let herself be interviewed on a good and responsible TV channel on her ailment and treatment . She should use this opportunity to convey to the public her determination to serve the people as before despite the ailment. ( 25-9-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

The “end game” is in Pakistan

http://blogs.reuters.com/pakistan/2011/09/23/the-end-game-is-in-pakistan/
Sep 22, 2011 20:20 ED

The United States has turned on Pakistan with such dizzying speed over the past few weeks that it is difficult to keep pace. Yet what is clear after Admiral Mike Mullen’s extraordinarily blunt statement that the Haqqani militant network is a “veritable arm” of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency is that it now has the Pakistan army very firmly in its sights.

Mullen accused the ISI, which is effectively a wing of the Pakistan army, of supporting the Haqqani network in a truck bomb attack on a U.S. base in Afghanistan and an assault on the U.S. embassy in Kabul which led to a 20-hour siege. “We also have credible intelligence that they (the Haqqani network) were behind the June 28 attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller but effective operations,” he said.

It was the most forthright assertion yet by the Americans that the Pakistani military is not merely turning a blind eye to militant groups based on its border with Afghanistan but actively encouraging them to attack American interests. The Pakistan army says it is overstretched as it is tackling militant groups which target Pakistan without creating new enemies by attacking Afghan militants and denies it retains links with the Haqqani network.

Just one month ago in a report titled “Pakistan, the United States and the End Game in Afghanistan” a group describing themselves as “the foreign policy elite” laid out what Pakistan wanted to happen in Afghanistan. Among their suggestions were that both the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Mohammed Omar and the Haqqani network be included in talks on a political settlement in Afghanistan. The report was heavily criticised by those who saw it as an attempt by Pakistan to maintain its old policy of “strategic depth” – using militant proxies to stamp its influence on Afghanistan and counter India.

It looks like the United States is having none of it. I dislike the expression “end-game” applied to either Afghanistan or Pakistan (or Britain for that matter) with its implication that the people living in those countries come to an end when outside powers lose interest. But it is worth considering the expression just to show how much has changed. The so-called “end-game” is now in Pakistan.

That is not to say there are not worsening problems in Afghanistan itself, especially with the assassination of peace council chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani “laying open again the fracture lines” of civil war, as Kate Clark wrote at the Afghanistan Analysts Network. Nor is to suggest that anyone disputes the need for a political settlement in Afghanistan. Nor indeed that American tactics and strategy in Afghanistan are not open to criticism – Pakistan repeatedly says it is being used as a scapegoat for U.S. failures in Afghanistan. And nor would it be fair to dismiss Pakistan’s own concerns that by going after the Haqqani network – with its links to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and other militant groups – it would face even greater violence on its own soil. Those are all subjects which merit separate and serious discussion.

But it is to say that the particular end-game going on now is between the United States and the Pakistan army. Look closely at the proposition being made by Washington. According to Mullen’s testimony Pakistan – and specifically its army – must give up support for the Afghan Taliban (the so-called Quetta shura Taliban) and the Haqqani network. In return the United States will help Pakistan find “an increasing role for democratic, civilian institutions and civil society in determining Pakistan’s fate.”

Whatever language you couch that in, that is quite a difficult proposition for the Pakistan army. First it is being asked to turn on old militant proxies which for decades it saw as its main leverage against both India and a hostile Afghanistan and which for the ISI in particular were a considerable source of power. Second the army – an institution which is used to being the most powerful in Pakistan – is being asked to relinquish its dominance and cede its place to a civilian democracy. Third, even if it were willing to give up some of its power – and the considerable economic advantages that go with it – it would need to make a leap of faith that Pakistan’s warring and often corrupt politicians could get their act together to govern the country effectively.

Yet the message that appears to be being delivered by the Americans with increasing force is that if it resists, it will lose. Unlike during the Cold War when Pakistan was able to exploit U.S.-Soviet rivalry to maintain its position against India, Pakistan is looking very isolated right now. In the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s it had American and Saudi support. This time around it is hard to find any country which will help it.

In Afghanistan ordinary people are opening blaming the ISI for the country’s troubles. Russia is worried about instability in Afghanistan spilling over into the former Soviet Central Asia and about drug smuggling pushing up the numbers of heroin addicts whose growth is already gnawing away at its economy. Moscow has been more resistant even than the United States to the idea of taking former Taliban off a UN sanctions list to create a better climate for talks. Relations with neighbouring Iran tend to go up and down, but are not helped by a spate of killings of Shi’ites by Sunni extremists in Pakistan. China is interested only in stability and securing its access through Pakistan to oil supplies and raw materials. For all Pakistan’s “deeper than the oceans” faith in Chinese friendship, it is unlikely to ride to its rescue in a confrontation with the United States over Afghanistan.

Ironically, India is being projected as a way out of the quagmire with the prospect of regional trade offered as a solution to Pakistan’s deepening economic gloom. But India – indeed far more than the United States – has tended to be more suspicious of the Pakistan military and the government has justified to its domestic critics the current peace process as a way of supporting civilian democracy in Pakistan.

So the question we need to ask is this. Will the Pakistan army fold? Institutions do not give up power easily and arguably the Pakistan army as an institution is more powerful than the individuals who lead it.

In many ways this is like a rerun of the Kargil war writ large. In 1999, the Pakistan army occupied mountain positions in the Kargil region on the Line of Control separating the Indian and Pakistani parts of the former kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir – its troops encroaching on part of the territory that was supposed to be under Indian control. In doing so, it breached a 1972 agreement with India that neither side would attempt to change the Line of Control, or ceasefire line, by force.

There was in fact an underlying – though heavily contested – logic to Pakistan’s actions in Kargil. Pakistan considered India’s occupation of Siachen (in the Karakoram mountains beyond the Line of Control) in 1984 as a similar breach of the 1972 Simla agreement. Since the late 1980s – or so I have been told by one of the generals involved – it had thought about occupying the heights above Kargil as a way of training its artillery on the main road from Kashmir towards Siachen, thereby cutting off the Indian army’s supply route.

Yet the Pakistan army had over-reached. It first denied that it had any troops in Kargil at all, saying that mujahideen and irregulars had moved into positions in the mountains as part of their campaign to free Indian Kashmir from what it calls Indian occupation. In an odd foreshadowing of the current situation in Afghanistan, it chose to launch its Kargil war at a time when India and Pakistan were engaged in peace talks. After a brief and bitter war with India, the Pakistan army was forced by international pressure — especially from the United States but more discreetly from China – into a humiliating retreat.

This time around the Pakistan army appears to have over-reached in a way which could prove to be its undoing. It has taken on the United States – a declining but still superpower – in Afghanistan. The issue here is not really who is right or wrong but rather which country can bring the greater force to bear and the greater international leverage.
The other possibility is that the confrontation between the Pakistan army and the United States could become more and more dangerous. But with its very public comments on the Haqqanis and the ISI, the United States has just rolled a dice that it hopes and believes is weighted in its favour.

India’s ‘Look East’ policy

It can help counter Chinese assertiveness
by Harsh V. Pant

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110924/edit.htm#4

INDIA’S relations with China have entered a new phase as New Delhi asserts its rights in the international waters of the South China Sea and deepens its engagement with Hanoi. The Indian External Affairs Minister was in Vietnam last week when India snubbed China and made it clear that ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) will continue to pursue oil and natural gas exploration in two Vietnamese blocks in the South China Sea. Asking countries “outside the region” to stay away from the South China Sea, China had issued a demarche to India underlining that Beijing’s permission should be sought for exploration in Blocks 127 and 128 and that without it, OVL’s activities would be considered illegal. Vietnam, meanwhile, had underlined the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to claim its sovereign rights over the two blocks being explored. India decided to go by the Vietnam’s claims and ignore China’s objections.

The official Chinese reaction to the Indian decision was an assertion that China had undisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea and its islands and that Beijing remained opposed to any country involving itself in oil and gas exploration there. But the official media has come out all guns blazing. The Global Times, an influential Communist Party-run newspaper, called India’s dealings with Vietnam a “serious political provocation” that would “push China to the limit.” It went on to argue that “China should try every means possible to stop this cooperation from happening.” Expressing its concern over the involvement of extra-regional powers in the South China Sea, the paper claimed, “China and relevant countries should digest the conflicts within the South China Sea, but when other countries step in, China should oppose them with all involved having to share the blame and resulting losses.” Though the paper often expresses the more hard-line nationalist sentiment in the party, main editorials are published with the approval of the Communist Party.

India’s bold move is aimed at asserting India’s legal claims in the international waters of the South China Sea as well as strengthening its relationship with Vietnam. Both moves unsettle China which views India’s growing engagement in East Asia with suspicion. With China expanding its presence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, India is staking its own claims in East Asia. Most significant in this regard is India’s growing engagement with Vietnam. Bilateral ties between India and Vietnam have got strengthened in recent years with the focus on regional security issues and trade. Traditionally, India has had a favourable presence in Vietnam with its support for Vietnamese independence from France and eventual unification of the country as well as its opposition to the US involvement in the Vietnam War. With the rise of China in recent years, their ties have become strategic in orientation. The two states promulgated a Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Cooperation in 2003 in which they envisaged creating an “Arc of Advantage and Prosperity” in Southeast Asia and have initiated a strategic dialogue since 2009. During his visit to Hanoi last week, the Indian External Affairs Minister, along with his Vietnamese counterpart, co-chaired the 14th India-Vietnam Joint Commission Meeting on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation and agreed to add greater content to bilateral relations in the fields of defence and security, trade and investment, education and culture.”

Bilateral trade has grown since the liberalisation of Indian and Vietnamese economies with the trade volume now exceeding $2 billion. The signing of the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement and India’s recognition of Vietnam’s market economy status will further boost economic ties. Vietnam has backed a more prominent role for India in ASEAN as well as India’s bid for the permanent membership in the UN Security Council.

Given that Vietnam and India use the same Russian and erstwhile Soviet platforms, there is a significant convergence between the two in the defence sector. Vietnam has sought Indian help in the modernisation of its military hardware. India’s exploration interests near the Vietnamese coasts have been threatened by China’s diplomatic offensive. Delhi and Hanoi have significant stakes in ensuring sealanes security and preventing sea piracy while they also share concerns about Chinese access to the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Indian strategic interests demand that Vietnam emerge as a major regional player and India is well placed to help Hanoi achieve that objective. It has been argued in Indian strategic circles that just as China has used states in India’s periphery to contain India, Delhi should build states like Vietnam as strategic pressure points against China to counter it.

India has decided to work with Vietnam to establish a regular Indian presence in the region as part of a larger Delhi-Hanoi security partnership with Vietnam giving India the right to use its port of Nha Trang. Delhi and Hanoi have significant stakes in ensuring sealanes security and preventing sea piracy while they also share concerns about Chinese access to the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Indian strategic interests demand that Vietnam emerge as a major regional player and India is well placed to help Hanoi achieve that objective.

India has been helping Vietnam for beefing up its naval and air capabilities. If the South China Sea is a disputed area for China and India should refrain from entering the fray so as to respect Chinese sensitivities, then India can rightfully ask China to do the same in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, an area recognised by all major powers as a disputed territory. Yet China has had no compunction in enlarging its military and economic presence in the region.

A common approach on the emerging balance of power is evolving with India and Vietnam both keen on reorienting their ties with the US as their concerns about China rise. And a similar commonality of views is emerging among major powers on the South China Sea disputes which will hopefully force China to moderate its maximalist position on this issue. India’s entry into the scene was overdue. Now it should focus on building strategic partnerships with regional powers. Vietnam is a good place to begin this process.

The writer teaches at King’s College, London.

"Sullen Mullen" signals US break with Pakistan

Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN | Sep 23, 2011, 09.32PM IST

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Sullen-Mullen-signals-US-break-with-Pakistan/articleshow/10094840.cms

WASHINGTON: Amid a rapid unraveling of ties between Washington and Islamabad, the principal architect of the U.S military partnership with Pakistan has bitterly accused the country of using terrorism as a policy weapon and said it has ''lost the bet'' to be a regional player of consequence because of it.

The testimony of U.S Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen before a Senate committee on Thursday was nothing short of stunning. A passionate votary of Pakistani salience in the region (thereby earning the nickname Abu Mullen al-Amriki), America's top military officials signaled that he was read to write off the country if it did not abjure its use of terrorism.

In choosing to use ''violent extremism'' as an instrument of policy, Mullen said, using a euphemism for terrorism, ''the government of Pakistan, and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI, jeopardizes not only the prospect of our strategic partnership but Pakistan's opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence.''

''They may believe that by using these proxies, they are hedging their bets or redressing what they feel is an imbalance in regional power. But in reality, they have already lost that bet,'' he added, alluding to Pakistan's effort to counter its perceived odds against India by straining for strategic depth in Afghanistan, a policy many analysts have said is disastrous.

Swiftly dubbed ''Sullen Mullen'' by the twitterati following the gloomy prognosis for a favored U.S military ally at one time, the U.S commander warned that ''by exporting violence, they (Pakistan) have eroded their internal security and their position in the region. They have undermined their international credibility and threatened their economic well-being.''

Mullen however defended his strong ties to Pakistan, saying but for his effort the U.S would have been in a far tougher situation. ''I've done this because I believe that a flawed and difficult relationship is better than no relationship at all,'' he maintained.

Senators who heard the grim testimony were as downbeat on Pakistan as they sought to ratchet up pressure on what is informally now regarded as a terrorist state, while not isolating it completely.

While some of them, notably Carl Levin and Dianne Feinstein, endorsed the administration's stance that Pakistan was actively using the Haqqani group for terrorist activity and demanded Washington declare it a terrorist group, it was mystifying why they did not demand the same of Pakistani army or its intelligence wing the ISI. In fact, ISI chief Ahmad Shuja Pasha was in Washington DC earlier this week for secret talks even as the administration was accusing the ISI and the Pakistani government of proxy terrorism.

''The Haqqani Network continue to enjoy sanctuary in the country, as well as active support from Pakistan's intelligence service, which they continue to use to attack and kill Afghans, Pakistanis, Indians and Americans,'' said Senator John McCain, adding that, ''This is the fundamental reality from which we must proceed in reevaluating our policy towards Pakistan.''

Meanwhile, as Islamabad continued to defiantly deny U.S charges, an American expert on the region threw some light on the evidence Washington claims it has to link Pakistan with the Haqqani group and the attack on U.S assets in Kabul. Bruce Riedel, a CIA analyst who advised president on his Af-Pak policy told Reuters that U.S officials were in possession of cell phone used by the Haqqani group terrorists to communicate with ISI operatives during and after the attack.


The fact remains that the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network operate from Pakistan with impunity. Extremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan troops and civilians as well as U.S. soldiers. For example, we believe the Haqqani Network—which has long enjoyed the support and protection of the Pakistani government and is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency—is responsible for the September 13th attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. There is ample evidence confirming that the Haqqanis were behind the June 28th attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and the September 10th truck bomb attack that killed five Afghans and injured another 96 individuals, 77 of whom were U.S. soldiers. History teaches us that it is difficult to defeat an insurgency when fighters enjoy a sanctuary outside national boundaries, and we are seeing this again today. The Quetta Shura
and the Haqqani Network are hampering efforts to improve security in Afghanistan, spoiling possibilities for broader reconciliation, and frustrating U.S.-Pakistan relations. The actions by the Pakistani government to support them—actively and passively—represent a growing problem that is undermining U.S. interests and may violate international norms, potentially warranting sanction. In supporting these groups, the government of Pakistan, particularly the Pakistani Army, continues to jeopardize Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected and prosperous nation with genuine regional and international influence. However, as I will discuss later, now is not the time to disengage from Pakistan; we must, instead, reframe our relationship.


Such evidence would be similar to what India acquired after the 26/11 attack in Mumbai or what the U.S got hold of following the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul in 2008. Confronted with such evidence - most notably by the CIA deputy director Stephan Kappes in meetings with Pakistani interlocutors - Islamabad's response is one of denial, bluster, and defiance, according to intelligence circles.

Similar bluster was on display on Friday following the latest development, with Pakistani leaders bristling at exposure of the country's ties to terrorists. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar warned in New York that the U.S risked breaking the alliance if it continued to make public such allegations and Prime Minister Gilani followed it up by suggesting Washington could lump it if it did not like it.

"You cannot afford to alienate Pakistan," Khar said in New York City, where she is attending a U.N. General Assembly meeting. "Anything which is said about an ally, about a partner publicly to recriminate it, to humiliate it, is not acceptable. We have conveyed (to America) that you will lose an ally." Gilani, on his part, was even more defiant.

"They can't live with us. They can't live without us," he crowed. "So, I would say to them that if they can't live without us, they should increase contacts with us to remove misunderstandings."
__________________________________

SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
STATEMENT OF
ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, U.S. NAVY
CHAIRMAN
JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
BEFORE THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
ON AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ
SEPTEMBER 22, 2011
SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE Mr. Chairman, Senator McCain, members of the Committee, thank you

for the opportunity to testify on the situations in Afghanistan, where nearly
98,000 U.S. forces are currently deployed; in Pakistan; and in Iraq, where we
are transitioning to a more normal military-to-military relationship. As this
should be my last appearance before you, I want to thank you for your
unwavering commitment to our national security and especially to our service
members and their families. I greatly appreciate the tremendous support you
have consistently given our military.

The security situation in Afghanistan is steadily improving. The military
component of our strategy—to the extent it can be separated from the strategy
as a whole—is meeting our objectives. Afghan and ISAF forces have wrested
the initiative and momentum from the Taliban in several key areas of the
country and have forced them out of critical population centers, particularly in
the south and southwest. Some of these areas have been Taliban controlled for
years. Our combined forces are placing sustained pressure on insurgent
groups. As a result, the number of insurgent-initiated attacks has for several
months been lower than it was at the same time last year. Security is holding
in most cleared areas, particularly in those districts where governance and
economic opportunity were also playing a constructive role. Critically, NATO
members and other coalition partners remain committed.
As a result, the insurgents have predictably shifted tactics. Rather than
confront Afghan and international security forces directly, insurgent groups
have and will increasingly focus on high profile attacks as well as assassination
attempts against high-level officials. Like the recent complex attack in Kabul
and the assassination of former president Rabbani, these incidents are
designed to reap a maximum strategic and psychological effect with minimal
input. And make no mistake, combating an insurgency is about combating
perceptions. We must not attribute more weight to these attacks than they
deserve. They are serious and significant, but they do not represent a sea change in the odds of military success. We will step up our protection of key
officials, continue our pressure on the enemy, and patiently, inexorably expand
the ANSF, their capability, and the territory they hold. I expect that following
the consolidation of gains in Kandahar in the south and Helmand in the
southwest, our forces will increasingly focus on eastern Afghanistan going into
next year’s campaign season. Given the sequencing of this campaign plan, we
do not expect to see the full extent of the effects of our military operations until
late next year.

While ISAF and Afghan forces are fighting, they are also transitioning
security responsibilities. A sensible, manageable, and, most importantly,
Afghan-led transition process is up and running. The first tranche of
transitions – selected by President Karzai in March 2011 – has already changed
hands. The three provinces and four districts in which ISAF forces have
transferred lead for security responsibilities to the ANSF are home to nearly
one quarter of the Afghan population. However, it is too early to judge how well
Afghan structures handle transition, because the first tranche locations were
already fairly developed and secure. The Afghan government and ISAF are
receiving feedback from these districts and provinces and incorporating lessons
drawn from the experience into future plans. President Karzai is expected to
announce the areas in the second tranche of transitions in the next few weeks.
I expect ISAF will be able to thin out forces and employ them elsewhere in the
country, and as conditions on the ground allow, U.S. and other coalition forces
will redeploy. As directed by the President, we will withdraw 10,000 American
troops by the end of this year and complete the withdrawal of the remaining
23,000 surge troops by the end of next summer.
Vital to this process is ANSF development. Placing security
responsibilities into Afghan hands rests on the availability of capable, credible,
and legitimate Afghan security forces. The Afghan army and police have
progressed in quantity, quality, and effectiveness far more than we thought
possible one year ago. We have helped the ANSF to already reach their 2011
end strength goal of 305,600. They are ahead of schedule. More important, the ANSF are in the fight, and the reviews from the field are increasingly
positive. The Afghan National Police, whose capabilities and professionalism
for a long time lagged behind the Army’s, are also seeing capability gains. The
ANSF now have a training base, and they will be taking on more forcedevelopment tasks during the coming year. Overwatch remains essential, and
reports of human rights violations are serious and will be investigated and
fixed. I expect the ANSF to be able to increasingly assume responsibility for
securing Afghanistan and to meet the goal of assuming lead responsibility for
security by the end of 2014.
Despite this steady progress in the areas of security and ANSF
development, however, a successful military strategy alone cannot achieve our
objectives in Afghanistan. Other critical problems remain, problems that will
undermine hard-won gains if they are not addressed.
The fact remains that the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network
operate from Pakistan with impunity. Extremist organizations serving as
proxies of the government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan troops and civilians
as well as U.S. soldiers. For example, we believe the Haqqani Network—which
has long enjoyed the support and protection of the Pakistani government and
is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence
Agency—is responsible for the September 13th
attacks against the U.S.
Embassy in Kabul. There is ample evidence confirming that the Haqqanis were
behind the June 28th
attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and
the September 10th
truck bomb attack that killed five Afghans and injured
another 96 individuals, 77 of whom were U.S. soldiers. History teaches us that
it is difficult to defeat an insurgency when fighters enjoy a sanctuary outside
national boundaries, and we are seeing this again today. The Quetta Shura
and the Haqqani Network are hampering efforts to improve security in
Afghanistan, spoiling possibilities for broader reconciliation, and frustrating
U.S.-Pakistan relations. The actions by the Pakistani government to support
them—actively and passively—represent a growing problem that is
undermining U.S. interests and may violate international norms, potentially warranting sanction. In supporting these groups, the government of Pakistan,
particularly the Pakistani Army, continues to jeopardize Pakistan’s opportunity
to be a respected and prosperous nation with genuine regional and
international influence. However, as I will discuss later, now is not the time to
disengage from Pakistan; we must, instead, reframe our relationship.
There is also notable lack of progress in improving governance and
countering corruption in Afghanistan. Pervasive corruption, by criminal
patronage networks that include government officials—at both national and
local levels—impedes all efforts to consolidate tactical successes. Corruption
makes a mockery of the rule of law, something demanded with increasing
urgency by peoples across the region. It also hollows out and delegitimizes the
very governing institutions to which we will be transitioning authority. Few
efforts to improve government capabilities and legitimacy over the past several
years have borne fruit, and without a serious new approach, systematic change
in next three years, before 2015, increasingly seems improbable. If we
continue to draw down forces apace while such public and systemic corruption
is left unchecked, we will risk leaving behind a government in which we cannot
reasonably expect Afghans to have faith. At best this would lead to continued
localized conflicts as neighborhood strongmen angle for their cut, and the
people for their survival; at worst it could lead to government collapse and civil
war.
Pakistan also increasingly faces the threat of corruption. It consistently
ranks among the most corrupt countries in the world by numerous
international organizations. Corruption is a hidden tax that retards business
investment and economic growth, makes politicians less responsive to people’s
needs, degrades the ability of the government to provide services, and
undermines public confidence. Just as in Afghanistan, the people of Pakistan
will struggle until the country’s leadership addresses corruption head-on. Despite these challenges and their implications for local and regional
stability, al-Qaeda in this part of the world seems increasingly incapable. With
Pakistan’s help, we have disrupted al-Qaeda and its senior leadership in the
border regions and degraded its ability to plan and conduct terror attacks. The
deaths of al-Qaeda founder, Osama bin Laden, and a great number of other
senior leaders and operators have put the organization in the worst position it
has seen since the September 11th
attacks. While the terrorist group still
retains the ability to conduct murderous attacks, with continued pressure on
all fronts, the defeat of al-Qaeda’s leadership and dismantlement of its
operational capabilities in the region is within reach.
Our interests in the region, however, do not rest solely in the operational
effectiveness of al-Qaeda’s senior leadership. The United States, the countries
in the region, and their neighbors all share interests in regional stability,
nuclear surety, and increased prosperity. That stability is threatened by too
many other factors for the United States to simply walk away once al-Qaeda is
effectively crippled. We must and will remain steadfast partners with
Afghanistan and, yes, work closely with Pakistan, as difficult or as uneven as
that relationship might be. Even as we remain committed to a conditions
based drawdown in Afghanistan and the transition of lead for security
responsibilities by the end of 2014, we must further develop the ANSF. We
should shape our ongoing assistance to Afghanistan so as to promote
reliability, accountability, and representation in both governance and the
economic environment. And we must continue to work with the government
and military in Pakistan to forge a constructive relationship.
I have spent a great amount of time during the past four years cultivating
a relationship with Pakistan’s military. I have been dedicated to this task
because I know the importance of this relationship, strained as it is, and
because I recognize the difficulties Pakistan has had and the many sacrifices it
has made in its own internal fight against terrorism. And despite deep
personal disappointments in the decisions of the Pakistani military and
government, I still believe that we must stay engaged. This is because while Pakistan is part of the problem in the region, it must also be part of the
solution. A flawed and strained engagement with Pakistan is better than
disengagement. We have completely disengaged in the past. That
disengagement failed and brings us where we are today. Thus, our
engagement requires a combination of patience with understanding what is in
Pakistan’s national interests, and a clear-eyed assessment about what is in
ours.
Even in the midst of extraordinary challenges in our relationship today, I
believe we can take advantage of this situation and reframe U.S.-Pakistan
relations. While the relationship must be guided by some clear principles to
which both sides adhere, we can no longer simply focus on the most obvious
issues. We must begin to address the problems that lie beneath the surface.
We must also move beyond counter-terrorism to address long-term foundations
of Pakistan’s success – to help the Pakistanis find realistic and productive ways
to achieve their aspirations of prosperity and security. Those foundations must
include improved trade relations with the United States and an increasing role
for democratic, civilian institutions and civil society in determining Pakistan’s
fate. We should help the Pakistani people address internal security challenges
as well as issues of economic development, electricity generation, and water
security. We should promote Indo-Pak cooperation and strategic dialogue. We
should also help create more stakeholders in Pakistan’s success by expanding
the discussion and including the international community; isolating the people
of Pakistan from the world right now would be counter-productive.
In summary, success in Afghanistan and in the broader region will
require substantial efforts outside the realm of security—they are now largely
in the political domain. We must address the unfinished business of safe
havens in Pakistan, poor Afghan governance, and corruption for there to be
any hope of enduring security in Afghanistan. We must work toward a
reconciliation process that produces both an intra-Afghanistan compromise
providing for a real redress of grievances and state-to-state interaction between
Afghanistan and Pakistan to resolve matters of sovereign concern. And we must agree upon a Strategic Partnership Declaration with Afghanistan that will
clarify and codify our long-term relationship. Addressing these and other
internal problems will require hard work by the Afghans and by the Pakistanis
and also by us. We cannot afford to put off tackling these problems for later.
Turning briefly to Iraq, we have ended our combat mission there, and,
over a year ago, we successfully transferred lead for security responsibilities to
the Iraqi Security Forces. Iraq’s military and political leaders are responding to
the residual, but still lethal, threat from al-Qaeda and Iranian-sponsored
militant groups. As a result, and despite a drawn-out government formation
process, the security situation there remains stable, and the Iraqi people are
increasingly able to focus on jobs and development. However, the end of the
war in Iraq will not mean the end of our commitment to the Iraqi people or to
our strategic partnership. We must focus on the future to help Iraq defend
itself against external threats and consolidate a successful, inclusive
democracy in the heart of the Middle East. As we continue to draw down
forces through December 31, 2011, in accordance with the U.S.-Iraqi Security
Agreement, we will transition to a more normal military-to-military
relationship.
It has been a privilege working with this Committee over the past four
years while serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in my previous
positions, as well. Your untiring efforts, while important in themselves to our
nation’s security, also serve as a much appreciated salute to our men and
women in uniform and their families during this time of war. I thank you, and
the entire Congress, on their behalf, for your unwavering support.

Pakistan, U.S. & the immoderate Taliban

PRAVEEN SWAMI

A man holds a photo of Burhanuddin Rabbani during a rally after he was killed, in Kabul. The assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, Afghanistan's former President and principal negotiator for talks with jihadists, has underlined the abiding threat from the immoderate Taliban.

Islamabad's relationship with the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network has precipitated a crisis in its relationship with Washington.

In 1992, nine full years before 9/11, the Pakistani Islamist politician Fazlur Rahman laid out a road map for the global jihadist magazine. “The Afghan jihad,” he told the Pashto language Manba al-Jihad magazine, “which was spearheaded by Maulana Haqqani and other truthful leaders, defeated the Soviet empire. But now there is another enemy to this jihad. That is America, and its conspiratorial policies that are intended to bring Afghanistan, the centre of jihad, under American attack.”

Fazlur Rahman concluded: “we are absolutely certain that people like Mawlawi Haqqani will give the Americans the same answer they gave to the Russians. And we are sure that people like Haqqani will fuel the flames of jihad worldwide.”

The assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, Afghanistan's former President and principal negotiator for talks with jihadists, has underlined the abiding threat from the immoderate Taliban: Afghan groups closely entwined with the global jihadist movement, hostile to dialogue — and, yet, backed by Pakistan, which sees them as allies in its own battle for survival.

Last week, in the wake of a terrorist assault targeting the United States Embassy in Kabul, the U.S. held out its most blunt warning yet to Pakistan, the principal patron of Islamist warlord Sirajuddin Haqqani, son and heir apparent to the man Fazlur Rahman hailed. “I think the message they [the Pakistanis] need to know,” said Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, is that “we're going to do everything we can to defend our forces.” In Islamabad and Washington alike, that phrase has been read as a threat to use force inside Pakistan.

For years now, U.S. officials have privately used similar language. The Haqqani network is not just responsible for most major strikes in Kabul — among them, the murderous 2008 attack on the Indian Embassy — but also part of the reason why western efforts to engage purported moderates in the Taliban have gone nowhere. Now, as the U.S. prepares to dramatically scale down its presence in Afghanistan, it needs Pakistan to act against the Haqqanis more than ever.

That, in turn, makes a showdown between the U.S. and the country its former military ruler Muhammad Ayub Khan once described as its “most allied ally” seems evermore likely.

‘The fountainhead of jihad': Born in the early 1950s, Jalaluddin Haqqani hailed from the Zadran tribe of the Pashtun ethnic group. He studied at a seminary in Datta Adam Khel, and would likely have gone on to become a rural cleric — had it not been for a series of dramatic events that transformed Afghanistan, eventually bringing to power a new class of armed clerics who would displace both the traditional tribal √©lite and the modernising left-wing secularists who had swept them aside.

In 1973, Afghan communists overthrew the decaying monarchy. Even though the new President, Daud Muhammad Khan, was the deposed king's brother-in-law, he declared the country a republic. President Khan presided over a dramatic process of social reform — marked, among other things, by an emphasis on women's rights. Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate, fearful that Mr. Khan's nationalist rhetoric would seduce ethnic Pashtuns living on its side of the border, responded by backing an insurgency spearheaded by the Afghan Islamists.

Five years before the crisis that would suck the Soviet Union into Afghanistan, Jalaluddin Haqqani declared war against the Afghan state. Helped by the ISI, he developed sources of funding in the Middle East, using the flow of cash to build an impressive military apparatus.

The ISI, though, wasn't Jalaluddin Haqqani's only source of support. In the wake of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, journalist Steve Coll has revealed, he was cultivated as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) asset. Charlie Wilson, a right-wing politician who helped funnel tens of millions of dollars to the Afghan jihadists, described Jalaluddin Haqqani as “goodness personified.”

Key figures in the global jihadist movement — among them Osama bin Laden — learned their military skills in camps set up by Jalaluddin Haqqani, and maintained a close relationship with him in the years that followed.

Mustafa al-Hamid, an al-Qaeda linked ideologue and writer who served with Jalaluddin Haqqani's forces, wrote a hagiographic account which was published in the jihadist magazine al-Somud last year. The “majesty in his personality was a model for the great religious scholars of Afghanistan and students of the knowledge of the pure mujahideen, who now stand as an impregnable bulwark against the largest crusader attack upon the Islamic nation.”

From the outset, scholars Don Rassler and Vahid Brown have noted in a seminal paper, that Jalaluddin Haqqani helped shape the global jihadist movement's ideas.

In 1980, for example, Haqqani asserted that Middle Eastern charity to the Afghan campaign did “not absolve the individual Muslim of the duty to offer himself for the jihad.” Abdullah Azzam — bin Laden's mentor, Lashkar-e-Taiba co-founder and ideological patriarch of the global jihadist movement — arrived at the same conclusion four years later, when he declared the Afghan jihad fard ‘ayn, an individual obligation. When bin Laden shifted base to a pink stucco three-storey home in Khartoum in 1991, having fallen out with Saudi Arabia's royal family, Jalaluddin Haqqani used the opportunity to operate on a wider stage. He backed Hasan al-Turabi's Islamist regime in Sudan, and sent volunteers to fight in Bosnia. In 1991, at a meeting in Karachi, he also bragged about his war against India, saying his networks had “trained thousands of Kashmiri mujahideen and have made them ready for the jihad.”

Nizamuddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin Haqqani's deputy, proclaimed in 1991 that the U.S. and Russia were “both infidel forces.”

The resurgent warrior: Bin Laden's close relationship with the Haqqanis helped him act on those ideas during his last, tortured months in Afghanistan — scarred by an increasingly bitter relationship with Taliban chief Mullah Muhammad Omar which saw al-Qaeda's leader confined to the city of Kandahar.

“From that point on,” Dr. Rassler and Dr. Brown record, “al-Qaeda came to increasingly rely on the Haqqani network's autonomy from the Taliban in Loya Paktia as a launching pad for its declarations of war on the West.”

Bin Laden's declaration of jihad against the West — his most sweeping manifesto and ideological keystone of the 9/11 attacks, was critically issued from a Haqqani camp in the Zhawara valley.

Since 9/11, the Haqqani network has survived by using the same geographical advantages that stood it so well during the anti-Soviet jihad: its control of key routes from Pakistan into Afghanistan, and its ability to retreat south across the border. Much of the organisation is now run out of Miranshah, deep inside Pakistan's North Waziristan region. Ever since Sirajuddin Haqqani started taking care of the organisation, it has expanded out of its Loya Paktia strongholds into Nangarhar and Kunar, and southward to Ghazni — even while insisting that it is a part of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the Taliban calls itself.

Mullah Omar has often been reported to resentful of the Haqqani network's autonomy — but there is no sign of any friction on the ground. “This,” Dr. Antonio Giustozzi, an academic, pointed out, “is clearly not the reaction one would expect if the Haqqani network was seen by the Taliban leadership in Quetta as a separate, competing organisation.”

Put another way, the power of the Haqqanis suits the broader Taliban. More important, it suits Pakistan, too.

The reasons are none-too-opaque. In return for ISI patronage, it has proved a valuable source of support in Pakistan's north-west — the heartland for jihadists hostile to the state. Sirajuddin Haqqani is believed, for example, to have brokered the February peace deal in Kurram, which brought about a brief cessation of hostilities between Shi'a and Sunni militia. He, along with other “good Taliban” like Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazir Ahmad, is also seen as a source of pressure on Tehreek-e-Taliban leaders like Hakimullah Mehsud.

In the long-run, Pakistan's strategic establishment believes that bringing allies like Sirajuddin Haqqani to power in Kabul will help it contain the jihadist threat to its own survival. Increasingly, Pakistan's strategic community is arguing that the Haqqanis' ambitions are local — not a threat to the world.

How well-advised this calculation will prove remains unclear. Ever since 9/11, Dr. Rassler and Dr. Brown have noted, it has changed course, portraying itself “as a local actor preoccupied with local concerns.” This message, though, changed depending on the audience. In the Pashto and Urdu language versions of the journal Nusrat al-Jihad, for example, the role of Arabs in the famous 1991 siege of Khost is ignored. However, the Arabic language version celebrates their contributions.

Key figures in Pakistan's “good Taliban” have been less coy. In an interview this May, for example, the Pakistani army's ally, Nasir Ahmad, announced that he was “a part of al-Qaeda.” He argued that events in the Middle East would “benefit the mujahideen” and promised to despatch jihadists to “join forces with the Arabs.” It takes little to see that Pakistan's jihadist allies could precipitate precisely the same kind of problems that created the crisis it is now fighting.

This we know for certain: the U.S. has spent years pressing Pakistan to act, without effect. In diplomatic cables obtained by the WikiLeaks, there is a graphic account of a July 29, 2008, meeting between top U.S. officials and Pakistan's Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani. Anne Patterson, Washington's Ambassador to Islamabad, hit out at Pakistan's claims that it had no knowledge of Sirajuddin Haqqani's whereabouts. She asserted that the ISI was in “constant touch” with him, and that the seminary from where he conducted business was clearly visible from a Pakistani military base.

Now though, as the U.S. prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan, it no longer has the luxury of time — and that means Pakistan could soon be faced with hard decisions, each with murderous consequences.

September 23, 2011

With an ally like Pakistan, who needs enemies?

I swear I did not write this piece! Reggie Sinha

http://opinion.latimes.com/opinionla/2011/09/pakistan-ally-aiding-insurgents-afghanistan-attacks-on-american-soldiers.html

Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

September 23, 2011 |
Remember when Pakistan was our ally?
Neither do I.
But on Thursday, The Times' David S. Cloud, Ken Dilanian and Alex Rodriguez outlined just how lousy an ally that nation has become. (Warning: The following may be upsetting to you if you are an American taxpayer.)

Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency communicated with Afghan insurgents who attacked the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters in central Kabul last week and appear to have provided them with equipment, according to U.S. military officers and former officials.

Communications gear used by the insurgents "implicated" the directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, Pakistan's spy service, a senior U.S. military official said Thursday. The equipment was found in a 14-story building under construction that the attackers used to lay siege to the embassy compound for 19 hours on Sept. 13, according to the official, who would not describe the equipment recovered.

Bruce Riedel, a former White House advisor on Pakistan and a retired senior CIA official, said administration officials told him that "very firm intelligence" linked the Pakistani spy agency to the embassy attack, which killed at least nine Afghans.

"There are [communications] intercepts and the attackers were in cellphone contact back to Pakistan," he said.

In a dramatic appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged that the insurgents had received "ISI support" not only for the attack on America's most prominent diplomatic and military symbols in the Afghan capital, but also for a massive truck bomb assault this month on a U.S. combat outpost in Wardak province west of Kabul that wounded 77 U.S. soldiers.

Other than that, though, Islamabad has really helped us out a lot, I guess.
Of course, the Pakistanis don't really owe us -– much. As the story concludes:

Pakistan receives about $3.5 billion in U.S. economic and military aid each year to help revamp critical infrastructure and to battle its homegrown militancy.
That's $3.5 billion, as in, $3.5 billion we don't have to spend on oh, say, disaster relief. You know, the money the Republicans in Congress are saying can only come from cutting other programs?

Hello, paging House Speaker John Boehner: I may have found a program you can cut from.
Oh sure, I know. It's complicated. This is global politics. This is fancy foreign policy stuff. We need the Pakistanis.
And on Friday, their reaction was pretty predictable:

Reacting to Mullen's charges, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar cautioned that if the U.S. continued airing such allegations, "you could lose an ally."
"You cannot afford to alienate Pakistan, you cannot afford to alienate the Pakistani people," Khar said, speaking to a Pakistani television channel from New York on Thursday. "“If you are choosing to do so and if they are choosing to do so, it will be at their [the Americans'] own cost."
Uh, Foreign Minister, exactly how much more than the $3.5 billion a year will it cost us?
And then there was this:
In Karachi, Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani told reporters that the onus was on Washington to pull back and begin mending frayed relations between the two countries.
"They can’t live with us -- they can’t live without us," Gilani said. "So, I would say to them that if they can’t live without us, they should increase contacts with us to remove misunderstandings."

Well, I'll give him points for bluntness, and for his cold-blooded assessment of the relationship.
And it's not as if the Pakistanis haven't helped us.

After all, didn't'they keep Osama bin Laden cooped up in a compound near their major military academy for years, just waiting for us to come and get him?
Yes, the Pakistanis, and many in the U.S., say it could be a lot worse if we were to break ties.

Which, oddly, reminds me of the scene in Monty Python's "Life of Brian" in which a man is about to be stoned for uttering the word "Jehovah." Explaining his action, he repeats the word "Jehovah," at which point the judge shouts: "You're only making it worse for yourself!"
And the man, sanely, replies: "Making it worse! How can it be worse?"

The moral? When your "ally" is helping your "enemy" kill your troops -– well, it's time to consider just what "worse" really means.