China’s Carrier Killer Missile Complicates US Navy Plans

Chinese missile could shift Pacific power balance

By ERIC TALMADGE (AP) – 6 hours ago

ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON — Nothing projects U.S. global air and sea power more vividly than supercarriers. Bristling with fighter jets that can reach deep into even landlocked trouble zones, America’s virtually invincible carrier fleet has long enforced its dominance of the high seas.

China may soon put an end to that.

U.S. naval planners are scrambling to deal with what analysts say is a game-changing weapon being developed by China — an unprecedented carrier-killing missile called the Dong Feng 21D that could be launched from land with enough accuracy to penetrate the defenses of even the most advanced moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 1,500 kilometers (900 miles).


EDITOR’S NOTE — The USS George Washington supercarrier recently deployed off North Korea in a high-profile show of U.S. sea power. AP Tokyo News Editor Eric Talmadge was aboard the carrier, and filed this report.


Analysts say final testing of the missile could come as soon as the end of this year, though questions remain about how fast China will be able to perfect its accuracy to the level needed to threaten a moving carrier at sea.

The weapon, a version of which was displayed last year in a Chinese military parade, could revolutionize China’s role in the Pacific balance of power, seriously weakening Washington’s ability to intervene in any potential conflict over Taiwan or North Korea. It could also deny U.S. ships safe access to international waters near China’s 11,200-mile (18,000-kilometer) -long coastline.

While a nuclear bomb could theoretically sink a carrier, assuming its user was willing to raise the stakes to atomic levels, the conventionally-armed Dong Feng 21D’s uniqueness is in its ability to hit a powerfully defended moving target with pin-point precision.

The Chinese Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to the AP’s request for a comment.

Funded by annual double-digit increases in the defense budget for almost every year of the past two decades, the Chinese navy has become Asia’s largest and has expanded beyond its traditional mission of retaking Taiwan to push its sphere of influence deeper into the Pacific and protect vital maritime trade routes.

“The Navy has long had to fear carrier-killing capabilities,” said Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the nonpartisan, Washington-based Center for a New American Security. “The emerging Chinese antiship missile capability, and in particular the DF 21D, represents the first post-Cold War capability that is both potentially capable of stopping our naval power projection and deliberately designed for that purpose.”

Setting the stage for a possible conflict, Beijing has grown increasingly vocal in its demands for the U.S. to stay away from the wide swaths of ocean — covering much of the Yellow, East and South China seas — where it claims exclusivity.

It strongly opposed plans to hold U.S.-South Korean war games in the Yellow Sea off the northeastern Chinese coast, saying the participation of the USS George Washington supercarrier, with its 1,092-foot (333-meter) flight deck and 6,250 personnel, would be a provocation because it put Beijing within striking range of U.S. F-18 warplanes.

The carrier instead took part in maneuvers held farther away in the Sea of Japan.

U.S. officials deny Chinese pressure kept it away, and say they will not be told by Beijing where they can operate.

“We reserve the right to exercise in international waters anywhere in the world,” Rear Adm. Daniel Cloyd, who headed the U.S. side of the exercises, said aboard the carrier during the maneuvers, which ended last week.

But the new missile could undermine that policy.

“China can reach out and hit the U.S. well before the U.S. can get close enough to the mainland to hit back,” said Toshi Yoshihara, an associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College. He said U.S. ships have only twice been that vulnerable — against Japan in World War II and against Soviet bombers in the Cold War.

Carrier-killing missiles “could have an enduring psychological effect on U.S. policymakers,” he e-mailed to The AP. “It underscores more broadly that the U.S. Navy no longer rules the waves as it has since the end of World War II. The stark reality is that sea control cannot be taken for granted anymore.”

Yoshihara said the weapon is causing considerable consternation in Washington, though — with attention focused on land wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — its implications haven’t been widely discussed in public.

Analysts note that while much has been made of China’s efforts to ready a carrier fleet of its own, it would likely take decades to catch U.S. carrier crews’ level of expertise, training and experience.

But Beijing does not need to match the U.S. carrier for carrier. The Dong Feng 21D, smarter, and vastly cheaper, could successfully attack a U.S. carrier, or at least deter it from getting too close.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned of the threat in a speech last September at the Air Force Association Convention.

“When considering the military-modernization programs of countries like China, we should be concerned less with their potential ability to challenge the U.S. symmetrically — fighter to fighter or ship to ship — and more with their ability to disrupt our freedom of movement and narrow our strategic options,” he said.

Gates said China’s investments in cyber and anti-satellite warfare, anti-air and anti-ship weaponry, along with ballistic missiles, “could threaten America’s primary way to project power” through its forward air bases and carrier strike groups.

The Pentagon has been worried for years about China getting an anti-ship ballistic missile. The Pentagon considers such a missile an “anti-access,” weapon, meaning that it could deny others access to certain areas.

The Air Force’s top surveillance and intelligence officer, Lt. Gen. David Deptula, told reporters this week that China’s effort to increase anti-access capability is part of a worrisome trend.

He did not single out the DF 21D, but said: “While we might not fight the Chinese, we may end up in situations where we’ll certainly be opposing the equipment that they build and sell around the world.”

Questions remain over when — and if — China will perfect the technology; hitting a moving carrier is no mean feat, requiring state-of-the-art guidance systems, and some experts believe it will take China a decade or so to field a reliable threat. Others, however, say final tests of the missile could come in the next year or two.

Former Navy commander James Kraska, a professor of international law and sea power at the U.S. Naval War College, recently wrote a controversial article in the magazine Orbis outlining a hypothetical scenario set just five years from now in which a Deng Feng 21D missile with a penetrator warhead sinks the USS George Washington.

That would usher in a “new epoch of international order in which Beijing emerges to displace the United States.”

While China’s Defense Ministry never comments on new weapons before they become operational, the DF 21D — which would travel at 10 times the speed of sound and carry conventional payloads — has been much discussed by military buffs online.

A pseudonymous article posted on Xinhuanet, website of China’s official news agency, imagines the U.S. dispatching the George Washington to aid Taiwan against a Chinese attack.

The Chinese would respond with three salvos of DF 21D, the first of which would pierce the hull, start fires and shut down flight operations, the article says. The second would knock out its engines and be accompanied by air attacks. The third wave, the article says, would “send the George Washington to the bottom of the ocean.”

Comments on the article were mostly positive.

AP writer Christopher Bodeen in Beijing and National Security Writer Anne Gearan in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

Afghanistan’s Field of Dreams

A Canadian wades through a forest of Afghan cannabis

Bob Strong / Reuters

Cpl Ryan Belgrave with the Canadian Army’s 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, walks through a field of marijuana plants during a patrol near the village of Salavat, in the Panjway district west of Kandahar August 4, 2010.

EU Seeks Caspian Gas Accord to Cut Russian Dependence

[The EU, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan go outside Nabucco channels to attempt trans-Caspian pipeline.]

EU Seeks Caspian Gas Accord to Cut Russian Dependence

By Nicholas Comfort and Stephen Bierman
Ilham Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan has yet to receive a concrete proposal from Turkmenistan, holder of the world’s fourth-largest gas reserves, Aliyev said by phone from Baku. “We are ready to provide transit for Turkmen gas,” he said. Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

The European Union is seeking an agreement on a natural-gas pipeline between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan as the 27-nation bloc aims to import Caspian fuel and reduce its dependence on Russia.

The EU regulator’s energy unit drafted a document that the parties could use as the basis for a deal on building at least one pipeline across the Caspian Sea, according to a copy of the non-binding paper obtained by Bloomberg.

The EU, seeking less reliance on Russia, wants Turkmen gas for the proposed Nabucco pipeline. Turkmenistan, where foreign investment was held back until the 2006 death of isolationist President-for-Life Saparmurat Niyazov, ships gas to Russia and Iran, and opened a pipeline to China last year. Plans to build a link across the Caspian Sea have been frustrated by unresolved marine borders and opposition from Russia and Iran.

“Without Turkmen gas, Nabucco wouldn’t make sense,” said Alexander Rahr, a Russia and Eurasia expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. “The EU is trying to get this pipeline through, but they’re running out of time as the Turkmen are sending more gas to China.”

Azerbaijan attended an EU-hosted meeting in Brussels with Turkmenistan and no agreements were signed, said Vagif Aliyev, head of investment at The State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan. Marlene Holzner, a spokeswoman for the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, declined to comment on the document.

UN Talks

Phone calls to Turkmenistan’s department of foreign economic relations went unanswered. Officials from a state hydrocarbon agency and the Foreign Affairs Ministry will visit New York to hold talks with the United Nations on developing recommendations to draft an “international legal document on energy transit,” according to a statement the government posted on itswebsite yesterday.

Azerbaijan has yet to receive a concrete proposal from Turkmenistan, holder of the world’s fourth-largest gas reserves, Aliyev said by phone from Baku. “We are ready to provide transit for Turkmen gas,” he said.

The EU must get “serious” about Nabucco to compete with Russia’s OAO Gazprom for Caspian natural gas, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said in January. Nabucco lacks a clear leader able to attract the necessary financing or hold talks with suppliers and transit countries, Aliyev said.

‘Tangle of Countries’

“The European Commission is showing that a way can be navigated through this tangle of countries and we actually are in the course of doing so,” EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said in a copy of a July 27 speech the regulator posted on its website. “We may need extraordinary measures to achieve success, such as the Caspian Development Corporation or the building of a trans-Caspian pipeline link.”

Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan would have to assure that the owner of the link maintains optimal use of the asset subject to market conditions, according to the draft document. The owner wouldn’t be able to refuse to offer free capacity or reject requests to use available volumes, according to the paper, which does not specify the size or route of the pipeline.

The two governments would have to consult one another before designating entities that can request to use the pipe, according to the draft. The link could be used to transport gas in either direction, according to the document.

‘Political Issue’

“It isn’t a long distance, the water isn’t very deep, it’s more of a political issue,” Werner Auli, a management board member at OMV AG, the company leading the 7.9 billion-euro ($10.4 billion) Nabucco project, said today at a press conference in Vienna. “That’s why Brussels has started a project and is working very intensively to solve these legal issues we consider solved so that the Azeris and Turkmen can start on this pipeline.”

After Niyazov’s death, governments from the EU to Asia jostled for access to Turkmenistan’s gas reserves, estimated at 8.1 trillion cubic meters by BP Plc. That’s enough to meet current German demand for more than a century.

Russia wants Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to build a new gas pipeline along the Caspian coast to keep control over the former Soviet republics’ energy exports. Iran has presented an alternative plan envisioning a network of shipping routes and pipelines that would turn the country into a regional hub for Caspian energy exports.

East-West Link

Turkmenistan is building a $2 billion East-West pipeline that will carry about 30 billion cubic meters of gas from the country’s biggest fields toward the Caspian coast when opened in June 2015 as it seeks to increase fuel exports.

Nabucco is planned to stretch more than 3,300 kilometers (2,050 miles) from Turkey to Austria to send gas to Europe and reduce the region’s dependence on Russia. Nabucco is also seeking to source gas from Azerbaijan and Iraq.

The Nabucco partners, which also include Essen, Germany- based RWE AG, Budapest-based Mol Nyrt., Bulgargaz EAD, Romania’s Transgaz SA and Ankara-based Botas, have said they’ll decide on the investment by the end of this year. Construction is set to begin in 2011 and shipments may start at the end of 2014, according to the venture’s website.

While Nabucco welcomes increased support from the EU for a southern gas corridor, the venture doesn’t have any formal knowledge of efforts to push for an Azeri-Turkmen deal on a pipe between the countries, spokeswoman Gabriele Egartner said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Sub-soil Jurisdiction

The proposed framework isn’t to be interpreted as affecting Azerbaijan or Turkmenistan’s jurisdiction over sub-soil resources or their sovereign rights under international law to the Caspian Sea, according to the document.

The delineation of the Caspian Sea became an issue after the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, when Iran found itself with four neighbors on the body of water instead of one.

“We think that defining the borders is not the main problem blocking such a project,” Vagif Aliyev said. The main issue is coming up with a commercial project that will be profitable to investors, he said. “We, as investors, are not ready at this moment.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Nicholas Comfort in Frankfurt Stephen Bierman in Moscow at

Russian/Armenian Agreement That Commits Russia To Armenia’s Defense

The tenure of the Russian military base in Armenia last twice

08/05/2010 9:46

The term of the Russian military base in Armenia will be extended by almost half, said Secretary of the National Security Council (NSC) of Armenia Arthur Baghdasaryan.

According to him, the Russian government proposed to the President of Russia signed a protocol with Armenia, associated with the activities of the Russian military base. “Russia is extending its military presence in Armenia. Instead of the 25 years after its entry into force of the term military base in Armenia was 49 years with a possible extension with the consent of the parties”, – A. Baghdasaryan, in an interview with Armenian Public Television, reports ARKA .

102-I am a Russian military base deployed since 1995. near the town of Gyumri, in accordance with international treaties on the basis of compounds of the Red Banner Transcaucasian Military District. In December of 2005. after the signing of Russia and Armenia, a number of bilateral documents was announced the expansion of the Russian military base in Armenia. According to documents, Armenia gave 102 base number of land plots and real estate. The base is subject to the Group of Russian Troops in Transcaucasia, North-Caucasian military district of Russia.

According to Mr. Baghdasaryan, provides that Russia will provide security of Armenia and Armenian armed forces. “We are talking about throughout the country,” – said National Security Council Secretary. He noted that it is about border security, modernization of border infrastructure. A. Baghdasaryan underlined that such an interaction with colleagues from Russia have already implemented and it will grow and develop. “We have agreements with our Russian colleagues to work together around a comprehensive package for developing the concept of border security and the modernization of border infrastructure,” – he said.

Protection of state borders of Armenia on the border guard station in accordance with the requirements of current legislation of Russia and Armenia and the contract signed in 1992. “On the status of border troops of Russia, located on the territory of Armenia in conditions of their functioning, as well as additional agreements to this contract. On the territory of Armenia are 58 pogranzastav border FSB of Russia.

5 August 2010.

Source - RBC

Kyrgyz Govt. Calls For Vigilante “Peoples Patriots” Assistance In Latest Unrest

In Bishkek, declared “emergency mobilization of all the vigilantes’

08/05/2010 11:36

In the capital of Kyrgyzstan People’s squad Patriot announces emergency mobilization of all the vigilantes

“In the capital of Kyrgyzstan People’s squad Patriot announces emergency mobilization of all the vigilantes,” – told IA “” leader MAN Daniyar Terbishaliev.

According to him, the situation in a complex, members of the DND is not enough. “We ask for retainers and all comers to join the joint patrols and public order to apply to the brigade headquarters at: Gorky Street, 192 at the intersection of Novosibirsk. For more information, call 0 (312) 54-47-60, – said Daniyar Terbishaliev.

08.05.1910 11:32, Bishkek – Irina Pavlova

Source - IA “”,

Siloviki Kyrgyzstan accused unknown person in the preparation of “violent and armed seizure of power” (statement)

08/05/2010 14:10Coordinating Council of law enforcement agencies: The situation in the city under control and we will not allow its destabilization

The current situation in the city under control and we will not allow its destabilization. This claim in the Coordinating Council of law enforcement agencies.

As the interior minister, was preparing to violent and armed seizure of power. It was found that crushed the weapons: grenades, rifles, pistols and more. K is also known that in organizing today’s rally attracted criminal elements – members of criminal groups, “- reported to the Coordinating Council.

Follow this, attempts were made by 3 staff Ulovnogo investigation, one of whom is in serious condition. They are forced to select three units of military weapons.
It was found that organized armed combat troops, who were waiting for the signal command to start actions aimed at destabilizing the situation in the country. Detachments mainly consisted of young athletic build, “- said the council.
Also, according to his information, from 2 August was trim some criminal elements who heard the money.
“All those who took part in an attempt to seize power, and criminals are apprehended, as already has the offense. All the powers of state law enforcement agencies concentrated on the spot. We call on citizens not to succumb to provocations and do not accumulate in the appeals to take part in mass rallies. Do not stay in town until late. We personally coordinate and monitor the situation not only in the capital, but also in other regions “, – say in the coordination.

“We have set up operational headquarters which received all the information about the situation in the capital and all the data on the determination of criminal elements. We will take firm action against those involved in the unrest,” – added to the council.

Press Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic
Obtained from -
Press office of President of the Kyrgyz Republic [>

Source - CentrAsia

Female protesters pile on pressure in Indian Kashmir

Dealing with female protesters is a challenge for the police and paramilitary troops

Female protesters pile on pressure in Indian Kashmir

Hundreds of women and girls have joined the anti-India protests on streets

The protests began when a 17-year-old male student was killed by a police tear-gas shell in Srinagar on June 11

By Izhar Wani (AFP) – 8 hours ago

SRINAGAR, India — “We are out on the streets with a message — kill us before you kill our young boys and girls,” says Rehana Ashraf, a female teacher in Indian Kashmir.

It is a stance which makes the security forces deeply anxious as they battle to suppress a surge of violent protests against India’s rule of the Muslim-majority region.

An increasing number of women have been involved in the demonstrations, during which at least 45 people have been killed in the last eight weeks.

Most of the victims are young men who have died in gun fire as security forces try to enforce curfew orders that have brought ordinary life to a halt.

Each death — particularly those of two women so far — has triggered further angry protests and an equally strong response from Indian paramilitary troops and police.

“Under such circumstances, you can’t expect us to remain silent,” said Ashraf, 49, who lives in the region’s main town Srinagar with her two young daughters. “We want to send out a message that we are not weak.”

Young men have always led the street protests and stone-throwing in Kashmir during 20 years of rebellion, but that is changing.

“We have lost our patience. They have killed our sons and brothers. How do you expect us to be mute spectators?” 41-year-old Mehbooba Akhter, a mother of three teenage sons, told AFP.

Akhter, a Srinagar resident, said she has been taking part in the wave of anti-India protests, which began when a 17-year-old male student was killed by a police tear-gas shell in Srinagar on June 11.

Hundreds of women and girls, many in colourful salwar kameez dresses, have since been regularly out on the streets chanting “we want freedom!” and “blood for blood!” Some carry sticks and stones.

Dealing with female protesters is a fraught challenge for the police and paramilitary troops struggling to control the protests, which India says are instigated by hardline groups supported by Pakistan.

“Putting women and children in the front of rallies is a deliberate attempt by separatists to put us on back foot,” Prabhakar Tripathi, spokesman for paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), told AFP.

“They know we won’t confront them,” he said.

Many women who do not directly take part in rallies carry drinking water to the protesters and also direct youths down escape routes as they flee from baton charges, tear-gas and gunfire.

“It is not the responsibility of men alone to protest against injustice. We women have to be in the forefront to fight it too,” said Shamima Javed, 38.

“I am joining protests to express my solidarity with those women who lost their sons and daughters.”

Other women believe they should not become involved.

“I am against protests. They affect education and the livelihoods of thousands,” said Haleema Akhter, a retired woman in the southern town of Pampore. “But even my own 40-year-old daughter and her children are not willing to listen.”

Syeda Afshana, a leading columnist and lecturer in the main Kashmir university, says the increasing female presence reflects the sense of injustice felt by Kashmiris.

“Out on the streets, women are making their minds felt,” Afshana told AFP. “By pelting stones, they are expressing their collective anger.”

The Prevailing Western View On Pakistan

Balkanizing Pakistan: A Collective National Security Strategy

Breaking Pakistan To Fix It

Michael Hughes, Geopolitical Journalist

The argument for Balkanizing Pakistan or, more specifically, fragmenting the Islamic Republic so it’s easier to police and economically develop, has been on the table since Pakistan’s birth in 1947 when the country was spit out of a British laboratory.

And lately, the concept is looking more appealing by the day, because as a result of flawed boundaries combined with the nexus between military rule and Islamic extremism, Pakistan now finds itself on a rapid descent toward certain collapse and the country’s leaders stubbornly refuse to do the things required to change course. But before allowing Pakistan to commit state suicide, self-disintegrate and further destabilize the region, the international community can beat them to the punch and deconstruct the country less violently.

To quell any doubts about Pakistan’s seemingly uncontrollable spiral into darkness, just recently, Foreign Policy Magazine ranked Pakistan as the tenth most failed state on earth and it would seem its leaders are hell bent on securing the number one slot – an honor it can add to their already dubious distinction as the world’s largest incubator of jihadist extremism. Afghanistan will never see peace or prosperity with a neighbor like Pakistan and the U.S. will always be threatened by terrorist plots spawned in Pakistan’s lawless regions – like the most recent Times Square bombing.

The most popular approach to fragmentation is to break off and allow Afghanistan to absorb Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which would unite the Pashtun tribes. In addition, the provinces of Balochistan and Sindh would become independent sovereign states, leaving Punjab as a standalone entity.

Balkanization is based on the premise that the weak central government in Islamabad is incapable of governing Pakistan’s frontiers, which have become the number one source of regional instability. The governing Punjabi elite have neglected the other three major ethnic groups – the Sindhis, Pashtuns, and Baluchis, primarily because a majority of Pakistan’s budget is spent on the military rather than economic development, schooling or infrastructure. Only 2% of Pakistan’s GDP, for example, is spent on education despite the fact Pakistan’s literacy rate stands at 57%.

Minority groups have also been underrepresented in institutions such as Pakistan’s military – which is the country’s most powerful entity. Punjabis who represent 40% of the population constitute 90% of the armed forces. Pakistan’s own history provides a prime case study of what happens when an ethnic group can no longer tolerate political and economic disregard. After a quarter century of strife the Bengalis rebelled, seceded and founded Bangladesh in 1971.

If the Balkanization solution is ever put in motion, accusations will surely fly that it’s yet another example of U.S. imperialism and neoconservatism run amok. However, this would be a diplomatic and multilateral effort, plus, it is more about reversing the iniquities of British colonialism than it is building some new world order.

Inherent Instability
Pakistan’s problems began when the British drew its boundaries haphazardly, which was primarily a product of incompetence and haste than maniacal design. According to an article in the New York Times last year, British colonial officer, Sir Cyril Radcliffe was given six weeks to carve a Muslim-majority state from British India although he had never even been there before. Radcliffe’s private secretary was quoted as saying that Sir Cyril “was a bit flummoxed by the whole thing. It was a rather impossible assignment, really. To partition that subcontinent in six weeks was absurd.” It would be a comical anecdote except for the fact that hundreds of thousands of people died in the ethnic cleansing that followed as a direct result of British carelessness.

Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan – the poorly-marked Durand Line – had been drawn in 1893, also by the British, but it was never meant to be a long-term legally-binding boundary. The faux demarcation split the Pashtuns in half. By reinstating the original natural boundaries, Pakistan’s western provinces would be returned to Afghanistan and the Pashtun tribes would be reunited. Such a move would also remove a strategic advantage for the Afghan Taliban, who can easily blend in amongst fellow Pashtuns on the Pakistani side of the border today.

The British did not only gift Pakistan with lethal boundaries, according to renowned Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, Pakistan inherited a “security state” from British rule, described by scholars as “the viceregal tradition” or “a permanent state of martial law”. Intellectual Christopher Hitchens asserted Pakistan has been a fiefdom of the military for most of its short existence. As was once said of Prussia: Pakistan is not a country that has an army, but an army that has a country. Hitchens also said the country was doomed to be a dysfunctional military theocracy from day one – beginning with the very name of the country itself:

But then, there is a certain hypocrisy inscribed in the very origins and nature of “Pakistan”. The name is no more than an acronym, confected in the 1930s at Cambridge University by a NW Muslim propagandist named Chaudhri Rahmat Ali. It stands for Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, and Indus-Sind, plus the suffix “-stan,” meaning “land.” In the Urdu tongue, the resulting word means “Land of the Pure.” The country is a cobbling together of regional, religious, and ethnic nationalisms, and its founding, in 1947, resulted in Pakistan’s becoming, along with Israel, one of the two “faith-based” states to emerge from the partitionist policy of a dying British colonialism. Far from being a “Land of the Pure,” Pakistan is one of the clearest demonstrations of the futility of defining a nation by religion, and one of the textbook failures of a state and a society.

Pakistan deteriorated throughout the decades because of its focus on building the military and developing Islamic extremist groups to use as weapons in their eternal obsessive struggle against India. It’s true the U.S. helped Pakistan build these groups since the beginning of the Cold War, but America learned on 9/11 they had created a Frankenstein monster that now needed to be slain.

Many analysts have suggested India is less of a national security threat to Pakistan than its homegrown terrorist groups, many of which have openly declared their mission to topple the state, which would allow jihadists to secure nuclear materials. Yet, based on its strategic decision to foster extremism and its recent public support for Taliban rule in Afghanistan, it appears the biggest existential threat to Pakistan is its own political and military leaders.

The Last Straw
With that being said, Balkanization does seem like an extreme step at first blush, and perhaps Pakistan should be given another chance. Yet, after considering Pakistan’s historic and current relationship with Al Qaeda – it becomes much easier to justify.

Since the war began in 2001 the U.S. has asked Pakistan to root out extremists from sanctuaries in a Rhode Island-sized area called North Waziristan, chief among them being the lethal Haqqani Network. However, Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Kayani asserted his forces were too bogged down fighting the Pakistani Taliban elsewhere in places like South Waziristan, Orakzai Agency and various districts across the NWFP.

I contacted an Afghan intelligence analyst about this and he assessed General Kayani’s claim with one single word: rubbish. The Pakistan army consists of 500,000 active duty troops and another 500,000 on reserve. If Pakistan truly wanted to capture the Haqqani Network they would be able to drag them out of their caves by their beards within a few days.

In a movement that should have floored U.S. policymakers, Kayani was brazen enough to try and inveigle Afghanistan to strike a power-sharing arrangement with the Haqqanis. And Kayani, apparently the spokesperson for the Haqqani group, said they’d be willing to split from and denounce Al Qaeda, which is President Obama’s primary rationale for the war. However, there is a higher probability of General Kayani converting to Hinduism than there is of the Haqqani Network ever being decoupled from Al Qaeda.

According to the Long War Journal, Siraj Haqqani, their leader, sits on Al Qaeda’s decision-making body. Haqqani’s friendship with Osama bin Laden dates back to the war against the Soviets in the 1980s and it was Haqqani that ensured safe passage into Pakistan for many Al Qaeda figures after the collapse of the Taliban in 2001. An Institute for the Study of War analysis concluded that Haqqani was “irreconcilable” and negotiations with him would actually strengthen Al Qaeda and would undermine the raison d’etre for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan over the past decade.

In other words, the Haqqani Network is Al Qaeda.

Pakistan has had a close relationship with the Haqqanis for over 30 years, who are still seen as a crucial anti-Indian asset. So, for nine years the Pakistanis protected the Haqqanis and claimed ignorance as to the whereabouts of Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden and the Quetta Shura. Nine years, nearly $300 billion dollars and 1900 dead coalition soldiers later, the U.S. has officially verified that the entire war effort has been focused on the wrong side of the mountains.

A stable Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s best interests, but this message has been preached time and again with little to no results, and the U.S. has waited long enough for Pakistan’s leaders to uproot the extremists that orchestrated 9/11. But now, it appears as if the international community will have to do it for them.


Michael Hughes writes similar articles as the Geopolitics Examiner and the Afghanistan Headlines Examiner for

Balochistan Behind an Iron Curtain

[The following is an honest assessment of the turmoil in Balochistan, which could never have been written in Pakistan.  The heavy-handed Army strategy of isolating the province is not working and the iron curtain of media silence is falling.  Pakistan's fate will be determined in Balochistan, determined by resistance to the iron curtain strategy.]

Balochistan: Behind an Iron Curtain – South Asia Intelligence Review


By Vikram Sood

“Awake my Punjab, Pakistan is ebbing away”, Baloch poet, philosopher and Left Wing activist lawyer, Habib Jalib wrote, “Our Dreams have faded now, Pakistan is ebbing away, / Sindh, Baluchistan, have been weeping for ages. / The people of Punjab are still lost, asleep.”

On July 14, 2010, Jalib was shot dead outside his brother’s shop on Sariab Road in Quetta. Ironically, barely twenty persons showed up to condole the poet-politician’s death in faraway Islamabad, a city rendered remote by its own siege and indifference. Was Punjab really losing interest in the rest of the country, troubled as it was with its terrorists?

Jalib, the Secretary General of the Baloch Nationalist Party (BNP), who often fought legal battles pro bono, and who meant so much more to so many, had been imprisoned, at various times, by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and Generals Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf. Yet Habib would not bend.

Habib’s murder was not an incident in isolation, nor was he killed by mistake. His compatriot and colleague, Mir Maula Baksh Dashti, from the National Party also a former Chairman of the Baloch Students Organisation, had been gunned down only four days earlier, on July 10. Commentator Amir Mateen noted, in a report published on July 25, 2010, that there are, on average, two targeted killings in Balochistan every day; while official figures put this figure at 370 in the last ten months, others say the number would be closer to 600. Sardar Akhtar Mengal, president of the Balochistan National Party (BNP) and a former Chief Minister of the Balochistan, on July 31, also accused the Government and its functionaries of carrying out targeted killings, adding, “The State and its agents have deliberately created panic in Balochistan, but the BNP is not scared of anything, as the party has already scarified the lives of many of its leaders and workers.”

Baloch nationalists like Malik Siraj Akbar Khan compare the killings of Habib and Dashti to the assassinations of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Balach Marri. Yet, while the latter had united the Baloch, the unfortunate reality today is that the Baloch remain divided. There is a leadership vacuum in Balochistan, with most surviving iconic leaders no longer living in Quetta. Mir Khair Baksh Marri is in Karachi; Sardar Atuallah Khan Mengal is in Wadh (Khuzdar district), while his son, Akhtar, is in Dubai; Mir Hasil Bizenjo, Member of Pakistan’s National Assembly, operates from Karachi. Even an important secular Pashtun nationalist like Mahmood Khan Achakzai, leader of the Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party, is believed to be away, possibly in the United Kingdom.

An acute provincial xenophobia now targets the non-Baloch in the Province. Mateen says one-quarter of Quetta is a no-go area; half the city goes to sleep at sun down; and areas like Sariab Road and Arbab Karan Road are out of bounds for the non-Baloch even during daytime. Barring the Quetta Cantonment, which is heavily protected, all other areas, including pickets of the paramilitary Frontier Corps, are subject to attacks; local Police enter areas like Spiny Road and Samungli Road at their own peril. Mateen observes,
… the ordinary citizenry has been left to the butchery of a lethal mix of extremist nationalists, political separatists, religious fanatics, smugglers, drug dealers and the land mafia hand in glove with criminals, not to forget international terrorists and foreign intelligence agencies.”

The Pushtun of Quetta have moved to safer areas of Nawankhali and Sraghurdhi, while Punjabi settlers, many of whom have lived in Quetta for generations, have been forced to leave for other Provinces. Doctors and surgeons have been intimidated and prevented from attending their clinics, so that they are not able to report incidents and casualties. About 1,600 Government officials have sought transfers out of Balochistan.

In the current cycle of violence, according to former Senator Sanaullah Baloch, between 2003 and December 2005, about 2,600 to 3,200 innocent people were killed in military operations, particularly in the Marri and Bugti areas. Islamabad frequently used air raids to subdue the Baloch tribals. About 80 to 85 per cent of those killed were women and children. During this phase, according to the United Nations’ December 2006 estimates, there were 84,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Balochistan without any relief or shelter; there was a total blockade of the Marri and Bugti areas; an estimated 8000 to 10,000 died in the exodus which caused malnourishment, disease and lack of shelter.

Violence in Balochistan has since been continuous. Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was assassinated on August 26, 2006, and Mir Balach Marri, on November 21, 2007. The Baloch cannot forget the campaigns launched by General Musharraf against the Bugtis from 2005, when he rolled in tanks and brought in the Air Force to eventually kill the Nawab. Both these killings were accompanied by numerous others. There were only six reported incidents in 2005; the number rose to 44 the next year, accounting for 391 deaths, including 124 Security Force (SF) personnel. In 2007 there were 22 major incidents, with 199 fatalities. Since 2005, there have been 1,448 deaths, more than half of which were described as civilians; 404 were security personnel and 247 ‘terrorists’. In 2010, 97 civilians have been killed, as against 8 terrorists and 32 security personnel, thus far. While there have been a few sectarian killings, many targets have been the middle class – the educated and the professionals.

To put this into perspective, Balochistan has a population of 7.8 million, and there have been 1,448 fatalities. Pro rata, in the Punjab Province of Pakistan, with a population of more than 85 million, this would be equivalent to nearly 15,000 fatalities. Worse, UN reports claim that 8,000 Baloch have been missing since 2005; translated into Punjab equivalents, this would mean as many as 80,000. The truth is that there is no accurate figure of how many Baloch have died behind Pakistan’s Iron Curtain. The enormity of the casualties has been lost in the remoteness of the Province, and the seemingly ‘low’ absolute number of casualties spread over five years.

There are two versions about the ownership of these killings. Representatives of the Jamhoori Watan Party insist that the middle class was being targeted by the separatists, since the former believed in an unified Pakistan even as they struggled for a better deal for the Baloch. Others feel that the separatist movement draws its inspiration from Sardar Khair Bux Marri, who is believed to have said that violence was the only way to attain Baloch goals. Many, however, believe that this targeted killing of the political middle class is the handiwork of the ‘Agencies’ who wish to “knock out our political brains”, according to Senator Manzoor Gichki. The Baloch also suspect that the so-called Baloch Massala Daffah Army (BDMA), which has claimed responsibility for the recent assassinations, is a front for the Agencies. The plan looks reasonable from the Agencies’ point of view. Having either killed or driven away the traditional leadership of the Baloch, it would be best to decimate the middle class leadership, which could be the source and inspiration for the other dissenting Baloch. Although there are many who believe that violence is the only way to attain Baloch rights, some nationalist leaders still believe that dialogue may yield results, which could include provincial autonomy and a greater say in the national affairs under the original terms of accession. This, however, is unlikely to be granted, though Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, on August 1, reiterated the old formula that the Government was ready for a dialogue with the Baloch leaders, whether they were in or out of the country, and that the Government wanted to bring Baloch leaders into mainstream politics.

The picture that emerges from Balochistan is of total lawlessness, with no one seemingly in control. A situation where various kinds of mafia – drugs, weapons, land and smuggling, anything, take control, and even the government of the day seems part of that mafia. With Chief Minister Aslam Raisani taking shelter in Dubai for half the month, nobody is really in charge. Local dissidents and objectors are routinely described as ‘terrorists’ and treated as such. The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), for instance, has been seen to be increasingly anti-Punjabi in recent years. Its cadres consist of the educated class too, which includes doctors, engineers and lawyers, and this obviously means that this class too feels that their basic rights would not be available to them except through a violent struggle. Age-old grievances have not been addressed and new ones like the presence of the Chinese in Gwadar have been added.

The Baloch resent the fact that theirs has become a garrison province; that lucrative projects like the Saindak Copper Project and the Gwadar Port are being handled by the Chinese; that projects like the Sui Gas and Reko Dik Copper-Gold undertakings are exploited by Pakistan Petroleum Limited, and the Baloch get no share of the revenue. In November 2009, former Senator Sanaullah Baloch gave a detailed account of the extent of discrimination and deprivation that the Baloch face, speaking of “The centre’s endless desire to control the province’s natural wealth and its continued suppression of the people through ethnically-structured military and paramilitary forces…”

There is further resentment on issues such as the fact that Civil Armed Forces in the Province (numbering 50,000 personnel). The World Bank released the Balochistan Economic report 2009, which recounts a dismal story. During the period 1972-73 to 2005-06, Balochistan’s economy expanded 2.7 times compared to 3.6 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP, formerly the North West Frontier Province) and four times in Punjab. The report also pointed out that Balochistan had the worst social indicators for education, literacy, health, water and sanitation for 2006-07. The Human Development Index rate the resource-rich Dera Bugti as the worst District in Pakistan, at 0.285, compared to the best in the land of the powerful Jhelum District at 0.703. While rural poverty in Punjab decreased by four per cent, it increased by 15 per cent in Balochistan during the same period (other provinces, Sindh and KP, also grew poorer). Gas from Balochistan has been used primarily in the Punjab since 1964; Quetta got gas only in 1986. The Chaghai nuclear tests were carried out without the knowledge of the Baloch Government and, although many in the Province have suffered from the after effects of these tests, there has been no compensation.

Yet other grim statistics are

  • 92 percent of Balochistan’s districts are classified as ‘high deprivation’ areas, compared to 50 per cent in Sindh and 29 per cent in Punjab.
  • Balochistan has the highest infant and maternal mortality rate in South Asia, caused mainly by malnutrition among 34 per cent of pregnant women.
  • Infant mortality rates in Balochistan stand at 130 per thousand, against Pakistan’s national average of 70.
  • Balochistan has only one vocational institute for women. Punjab has 111.
  • 23 per cent of girls in rural Balochistan have access to primary schools. The figure for Punjab is 46 per cent.
  • Punjab has 486 polytechnic, computer science and women’s vocational institutes, as well as commercial and law colleges, while Baloch have just nine.
  • The Social Policy Development Centre report of 2005 stated that the percentage of population living in a high degree of deprivation was 88 per cent in Balochistan, compared to 25 per cent in Punjab.

Such statistics are endless, but all confirm the acute discrimination and deprivation that Balochistan faces. Deprived of political, economic and social rights, the Baloch have no faith that the Federal Government will ever deliver on the various promises it has made in the past. This is the sentiment that underpins their struggle for self-determination. Islamabad, on the other hand, feels it has an inalienable right to exploit the resources of Balochistan, and feels no necessity to assuage the feelings of the rebellious Baloch.

Comparisons between the present situation in Balochistan and East Pakistan in 1971 are not just tempting, they are, in many ways, accurate. The Bengalis had suffered decades of neglect and discrimination, which the Punjabi rulers in Islamabad/Rawalpindi fobbed off as ‘external intervention’, sustaining the argument that nothing needed to be done to alleviate the local grievances. When the Bengalis reacted by launching a movement for separation, the response was brutal, indeed, genocidal, use of force. In Balochistan, four previous uprisings have been suppressed through brute force, and nothing has been done to remove the sense of injustice, alienation and deprivation. In a recent interview to a Sindhi newspaper, Khair Bux Marri declared, “The British only laid the foundation of our slavery but the Punjabis bathed us in blood and kept us slaves. What would we do in such circumstances? Obviously, we would retaliate.”

There are other complications in Balochistan. The foremost is the presence of the Quetta Shura of Mullah Omar, and divergent US and Pakistani interests in the future of this Shura, as well as the Pushtun response to this in Balochistan. US involvement in the intricate and seemingly hopeless war in Afghanistan against the Taliban and al Qaeda with the dubious assistance of Pakistan and its surrogates in Balochistan, will inevitably bring the Province on to the front page. The activities of the Jundullah, a Sunni Wahhabi organization, from bases in Balochistan, have already attracted Iranian ire and the suspicion in Tehran that the movement is meant to detach the predominantly Sunni Sistan-Balochistan. Already feeling surrounded by Sunni regimes, fearing a Talibanised Afghanistan on its northern borders and the Centcom Forces in the area that have indulged in periodic sabre-rattling, the Iranian leaders have reason to be paranoid.

Further, the concept of reconfiguring the region has been doing the rounds for some time. Among these, Ralph Peters, in his article “Blood Borders – How a better Middle East would look”, argued that, since there have been arbitrary and distorted borders in Africa and the Middle East, it was necessary to mend this. His redrawn map leaves a reconfigured Iran, Afghanistan and a much reduced Pakistan. Peters does not say how this would be achieved and his argument remains no more than a hypothesis.

In July 2010, former US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill and geopolitical journalist Michael Hughes, explored the idea of re-configuration of the region again. Blackwill’s essay “A de facto partition of Afghanistan” is more about how the US could exit Afghanistan and stay there as well: “De facto partition is clearly not the best outcome one can imagine for the United States in Afghanistan. But it is now the best outcome that Washington can achieve consistent with vital national interests and US domestic politics.”  Though he refers more to the Pushtun belt in Afghanistan, it is unlikely that the Pushtun belt in KP and Balochistan would remain unaffected by this plan. A domino effect is quite likely.

Hughes’ essay, “Balkanising Pakistan: A collective national Security Strategy – Breaking Pakistan to Fix It” argues that,
…as a result of flawed boundaries combined with the nexus between military rule and Islamic extremism, Pakistan now finds itself in rapid descent toward certain collapse and the country’s leaders stubbornly refuse to do things required to change course. But before allowing Pakistan to commit state suicide, self-disintegrate and further destabilise the region, the international community can beat them to the punch and deconstruct the country less violently.

Hughes admits that Balkanisation did seem to be an extreme step, but adds, “after considering Pakistan’s historic and current relationship with al Qaeda – it becomes easy to justify.” More than just strategic justification, one can discern a serious undertone of exasperation and disillusionment with Pakistan in the emerging western discourse, which the Wikileaks exposures will only exacerbate.

It is only natural that all Pakistanis would find this kind of discourse about their country extremely abhorrent. But they must also realise that the biggest existential threat to them comes from the policies followed by their political and military leaders these past sixty years, with little hope that this will change. The implications of all this go beyond Balochistan, even beyond Pakistan, and the region and the world cannot be passive spectators.

Vikram Sood, Former Secretary, R&AW; Vice President, Observer Research Foundation


SATP, or the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP)  publishes the South Asia Intelligence Review, and is a product of The Institute for Conflict Management, a non-Profit Society set up in 1997 in New Delhi, and which is committed to the continuous evaluation and resolution of problems of internal security in South Asia. The Institute was set up on the initiative of, and is presently headed by, its President, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, IPS (Retd).

A Semi-Official Indian Interpretation Of the Baloch Insurrection

[As a former RAW official, Mr. Raman paints a glowing picture of the Baloch Liberation Army and other radical militant Baloch resistance groups, drawing upon the rhetoric of Ronald Reagan in describing them as "freedom fighters."  It seems that Indian officials are growing confidant enough about the destabilized situation in Pakistan to show their hand just a little.  The Baloch insurgency is composed mostly of anti-state resistance groups, but among them is a second current, one given life and material support by foreign governments.  They are the true terrorists there (in addition to the state terrorists of the Punjab government), who are seeking to turn the raging rivers of Baloch discontent into an anti-Pakistan tsunami that will wash away all government in the area.  The Balochs should draw closer together, so that they might recognize the foreign hand among them.  Only in such unity can they hope to keep-out the forces of division.  Don't look for American assistance, unless you are ready to accept a new, more powerful, master.]

Weakening Pakistani Hold In Balochistan


The Pakistani hold in Balochistan continues to weaken. Despite ruthless suppression by the Pakistan Army headed by Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), the Baloch freedom fighters are making headway. Their significant success has been not only in ground actions through their guerilla armies against the Pakistani security forces, but also in successfully spreading the ideology of an independent Balochistan amongst the Balochs.  Those among the Balochs as well as the non-Balochs, who try to speak for the State of Pakistan, find themselves increasingly isolated. The Pakistani flag is disappearing from Government buildings in Quetta, the Baloch capital.

The Baloch freedom struggle has become as much an ideological struggle as a militant struggle, as much a struggle for achieving the Balochs’ unfinished agenda of the Partition through ideological emancipation as a struggle for economic emancipation from the post-Partition Punjabi domination of their economy and natural resources, as much a struggle for their ethnic pride as it is for their national, inter-tribal solidarity.

The State is being increasingly administered not from Quetta, but from Karachi or Dubai. The members of the Baloch State Government are being increasingly seen by the people as quislings of Islamabad and are afraid of staying in Quetta. They spend more time in Karachi or Dubai than in Quetta. Government files go to them for orders there. Even if they pass orders on the files in Karachi or Dubai, the bureaucrats, who have stayed behind in Quetta, are not able to have them implemented. The police and the Army are not able to protect the life and property of the non-Baloch ruling and business class, who are increasingly targeted by the freedom-fighters.

Balochistan’s economy is in a shambles. So is Pakistan’s economy which cannot improve without the flow of gas from Balochistan. The gas supply from the existing wells to the industries of Punjab is subject to frequent disruptions. The industrial production has been coming down. So is agricultural production due to the shortage of oil for running agricultural machinery.  The Pakistan economy cannot improve without peace and stability in Balochistan. There cannot be peace and stability in Balochistan unless the aspirations of the people are met by the Government.

Pakistan has become a land of serious shortages—-shortage of water for agricultural and drinking purposes, shortage of electricity and gas  for private and industrial consumers, shortage of money for development. However, there is no shortage of US dollars. The misuse of the enhanced economic assistance from the US under the Kerry-Lugar Act is resulting in a situation where much of the money is misutilised for non-development purposes or for feeding corruption.

Pakistan’s hopes of profiting from the war in Afghanistan and regaining its influence in that country will prove to be a chimera without peace and stability in Balochistan. That peace and stability is nowhere in sight. The dramatic situation in Balochistan, where the freedom struggle is forging ahead relentlessly, has been brought out in a statement made by Mr.Rehman Malick, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, in the Senate, the upper House of Parliament, on July 27, 2010, and in a series of articles carried by the “Dawn” and “News”. Relevant extracts are given below:

From The Statement Of Mr. Rehman Malik In The Senate On July 27, 2010:

Settlers are being killed in Balochistan.  So far over 100,000 people have migrated from the province. Militants  are burning Pakistani flags. They do not allow the hoisting of the Pakistani flag nor the national anthem to be recited in educational institutions while pro-Pakistan elements are falling victim to targeted killing. From January to July 13 this year, 252 settlers including 13 officers of  the Pakistan Army, 21 officers of the Frontier Corps, 27 Police officials, 26 Punjabis, 21 Pashtoons, 12 Sindhis and 112 from other parts of the country have died in targeted killings. “Balochistan is part of Pakistan, then why are settlers being killed there?” he asked. “Why those who are killing patriotic Pakistanis and burning national flag are not condemned?”

From The “Dawn” Of July 26:

More than the proliferation of radical groups, however, what worries observers is the widening scope of targets. Attacks on security forces, state installations and government offices are all standard fare in Baloch insurgencies. In addition, killings of ‘settlers’ (groups considered non-Baloch because they trace their ancestry to outside the province, even though in many instances they have been residing in Balochistan for generations) have occurred in the past. This time, however, it is the breadth and intensity of such killings that is alarming. A senior journalist in Quetta claimed: “The target killings started in 2003, but they were sectarian in nature. The radical groups started their killings post-Bugti, initially in Quetta. Now, though, it has spread. Nushki, Khuzdar, Mastung, Gwadar, Turbat, Kech, the target killings are happening everywhere.” According to the Balochistan Government’s most recent figures, more than 125 people have been killed and nearly 200 injured in the last 18 months alone in settler-related violence. Another worrying trend this year: the killing of fellow Baloch by the insurgent groups. The victims have been accused of spying and working as agents of the Pakistani state. A senior journalist said, “Even Pathans have been killed, and businessmen too. The impact is enormous. There is an exodus of teachers, doctors, businessmen.”

A handful of groups dominate the insurgency, of which the Balochistan Liberation Army is perhaps the most well-known.  The BLA appeared in its present incarnation soon after the arrest of Khair Bakhsh Marri in January 2000. The powerful Marri chief was accused of having a hand in the murder of a Balochistan High Court judge. Originally a rural phenomenon and limiting its operations to Dera Bugti and Kohlu, the BLA is believed to have expanded its attacks into the cities following the breakdown of a unilateral ceasefire declared in September 2008. An affiliate of the BLA is the Balochistan Liberation United Front, a smaller organisation thought to be ‘more sophisticated’ and considerably more hard-line. The other high-profile radical group is the Baloch Republican Army, the militant wing of the Balochistan Republican Party, a rechristened arm of Akbar Bugti’s Jamhoori Watan Party.  The BRA came into existence after Bugti’s death in August 2006 and is believed to be controlled by his grandson, Brahmdagh. Its area of operations appears to be in relatively remote areas such as Dera Bugti, Jaffarabad and Naseerabad. A third major group is the Balochistan Liberation Front, another name resurrected from the last insurgency in the 1970s. The present-day version operates mostly in the Mekran area and is also linked to Khair Bakhsh Marri. Recently, a new organisation called  the Baloch Armed Defence Organisation (Baloch Musallah Defai Tanzeem) has come up. It is a relatively new ‘anti-Baloch-nationalist’ group about which little is known, though the Balochs claim it is a front for the intelligence agencies. That is denied by the army. Asma Jahangir, former chairperson of the HRCP (Human Rights Commission of Pakistan), however, is not convinced: “The cleansing of the Baloch intelligentsia can only be the work of the agencies.”

From The “Dawn” Of July 24, 2010:

Why is the cycle of violence still continuing in Balochistan? While the violence is down from the 2005-2008 peak period, the Pakistani state and parts of the Baloch population are undeniably still locked in conflict. In a series of conversations with Dawn, senior government and army officials and Baloch representatives attempted to explain why, in their view, a conflict that has claimed between 500 and 1,500 lives since 2001 continues today. Foremost is the issue of missing persons. Estimates vary wildly: the Baloch claim thousands of fellow citizens are missing; rights groups like the HRCP ( Human Rights Commission of Pakistan) suggest a figure in the low hundreds; the army acknowledges no more than a few dozen missing. Yet, it isn’t necessarily the detentions per se but the lack of information about the detainees that makes the missing-persons issue so incendiary. A senior federal minister involved in discussions concerning Balochistan concurred: “We weren’t even asking to set them free. But they (the army) weren’t willing to listen because they considered them (the missing persons) to be treasonous. We said, they may have done things they need to be punished for, but they are still Pakistanis and we have to treat them as such.” Part of the problem is that the army does not understand the impact of missing persons. “Balochistan is a backward society. If you pick up a boy from a village, you make an enemy of the entire village.” The depth of anger over the missing persons can be gauged from the fact that it has dislodged as the central issue the decades-old grievance of the Balochs that the province’s gas and mineral riches have been exploited by the Pakistani state. No one, not even army officers, denies that reality. Referring to the disparity in the gas price offered to Balochistan and the other provinces, Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Naveed Qamar explained: “There was definitely an anomaly in pricing. ” However, Mr Qamar disputes the notion the centre is still exploiting Balochistan’s resources: “Over the last 18 months, significant change has come about. We’ve fixed the gas-price anomaly to a large extent. Rikodiq (where large reserves of gold and copper are reported to exist) has been handed over to the provincial government and Saindak will be soon.” Even so, perceptions about the intentions of the army and ‘centrist’ bureaucrats in Islamabad linger. “It’s about greed. They want Balochistan’s resources to create prosperity in the other provinces,” claimed Syeda Abida Hussain, co-founder with her husband, Fakhar Imam, of the Friends of Baloch and Balochistan. “It’s no longer about the resource-sharing at present. It’s about the potential,” Naveed Qamar suggested. “Balochistan contributes 17 or 18 per cent of gas today to Pakistan’s needs, but the vast resources that are still untapped because of the security situation, that is the real prize.” The Balochs look no further for modern-day proof of the Pakistani state’s intention to ‘colonise’ Balochistan than the port at Gwadar. “There are these beautiful, paved boulevards in the port area. And right outside the poverty of the Balochs is shocking,” said Sanaullah Baloch, a former BNP-M senator. “Gwadar has nothing to do with concern for the Balochs.” If the Balochs, army and government do agree on one thing, it is that a great deal of the blame for the violence continuing must be shouldered by the Balochistan government. The provincial government is widely perceived to be epically corrupt and monumentally inefficient. That has real consequences. For one, it allows the army to deflect attention from the heavy-handedness of the Frontier Corps, which is still tasked with law and order duties. Practically speaking, it becomes difficult to debate the withdrawal of the FC, a major demand of the Balochs, when the police are incapable of establishing even a modicum of law and order. The provincial government’s incompetence also impacts on the possibility of winning over disaffected Balochs. “They’ve got all this extra money,” Naveed Qamar said referring to the Rs12 billion of new resources-related payments to the province, “but will it make its way to the people? That’s a big question mark.” Another commonality among the Balochs, government officials and army officers spoken to: none were optimistic the violence will abate soon. In fact, many suggested the two extremes appear to be digging in their heels. On the Baloch side, the armed radicals are bent on intimidating, perhaps even eliminating, moderate voices, making the possibility of a compromise with the state that much more distant. On the army’s side, while it fiercely denies it has a ‘colonial’ approach towards Balochistan, there is a steely resolve to prevent any ‘mischief’ by outside powers in the province — an approach which severely diminishes the possibility of concessions towards the Baloch extremists. “If the federation is to survive, the moderates need to be heard,” according to Raza Rabbani. The trouble is, no one seems to believe that is an imminent possibility.

From The “News” Of July 25:

Anybody who has not been to Quetta for some time will be aghast to see the ghost town that it has become. Half of the once-bustling and lively town goes to sleep as soon as the sun sets. The other half trembles even to the sound of a cracker while locked inside their overly guarded houses. The British garrison city that was known for its cultural diversity and for its laidback evenings stands divided into quarters based on ethnicity and religion. And, more important, whether you are a “uniformed person” or not. A quarter of the city is a no-go-area worse than Karachi’s killing alleys in the 1990s. A non-Baloch would not venture into areas around Saryab Road and Arbab Karam Road even during daytime. The localities of Spiny Road and Smungli Road are no less dangerous as the marauding gangs of armed youth are found witch-hunting for anybody wearing trousers or matching the profile of a “non-local.” Local police enter the localities at considerable risk. Even the paramilitary Frontier Corps pickets get attacked occasionally. The picket leading to Bolan Medical College, meaningfully named as “Golimaar,” has been targeted more than once by grenade attacks. In suburbs, 16 kilometres off Quetta city on the western bypass, the Hazar Ganj bus stand was ambushed by rockets. The situation on the east side is equally scary. Life in the Quetta Cantonment is stable, thanks to the 24-hour armed-to-the-teeth vigilance. But the ordinary citizenry has been left to the butchery of a lethal mix of extremist nationalists, political separatists, religious fanatics, smugglers, drug dealers and the land mafia hand in glove with criminals, not to forget international terrorists and foreign intelligence agencies. The locals are shifting to the relatively safer Pashtun localities of, say, Nawankali and Sraghurdhi. The so-called Punjabi settlers, who may have lived in Quetta for generations, are being forced to leave for other provinces, sometime after selling their assets for pennies. “The country seems to have given up on Balochistan,” says social activist Dr Faiz Rehman. He believes doctors are being discouraged to attend clinics in trouble areas so that such incidents do not get reported. Dr Yousaf Nasir, a top surgeon who was a cousin of former federal Minister Yaqoob Nasir, was ambushed in a target killing. Another senior surgeon Chiragh Hassan is also receiving threats to move out. “Everybody wants to get out of here,” he added. Security officials are on top of the hit lists. Around 1,600 government officials have applied for long leave and for transfer to other provinces. Under such trying times, one hardly finds a notable politician in Quetta or even in Balochistan. While half of the province is inundated because of floods, killing scores of people, Chief Minister Aslam Raisani is languishing in Dubai. His staff said he was in Dubai for many days and they could not confirm when he would return. In any case, he is known to be a part-time CM as he lives in Dubai or Islamabad nearly 15 days a month and is never available, intelligibly that is, after 8:00pm come crash floods or cyclone. In the meantime, on average two persons die every day in target killings. The official figure for target killings in the last 10 months is 370 but others say the actual number should be around 600.

B. Raman

B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail:

Why Doesn’t the Pakistani Government Leak What It Knows?

[It is obvious to every interested reader that Pakistan's leaders know the deepest darkest secrets of the terror war, but they refuse to spill the beans, even though the US govt. regularly releases leaks that paint Pakistan in the worst light.  Why is that?  Because they know who pays their own salaries and they will not bite the hand that feeds them, even when the other hand is constantly slapping them around.  The Pakistani people protest loudly about the corrupt Establishment leaders who control their national life, but they do not take action to break the chain of dependence.  Every secret about the thirty-year terror war lies buried in Pakistani files and in personal recollections.  There is only one way to dig them up--with Pakistani hands.  When the people grow weary of their suffering and subjugation to the new American "Raj," they will once again sweep the Empire from their land.]

The question arises: if the US, the UK or India are behind every leak that hurts Pakistan, then why are our security agencies and our government not paying back in the same coin? The Pakistani government or agencies should leak all such information to the media so that our people know the facts and ask people like David Cameron to stop talking. When all facts are open and when we show some national pride, the US and the UK can easily be defeated in their own games.

Our shoulders for others

By Saleem Safi

The WikiLeaks episode and the undiplomatically harsh statement of the British prime minister in India, blaming Pakistan for the export of terror in the region and the world, must serve as a rude awakening for our policymakers and rulers. It is high time we showed the British and American rulers the other side of the picture before we shouldered their gaffes any more. They must be made aware of the blunders which have precipitated their humiliation and impatience in Afghanistan.

Our policymakers and rulers must ask the Americans and the British some questions. Who pushed them into the Iraq war before stabilising Afghanistan? Who declared Iran, a committed ally and supporter against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a part of the ‘axis of evil’ and thus compelled it to support the Taliban? In the wake of the Bonn Conference, who made Karzai a hostage of the warlords and corrupt people? Who stopped Karzai from initiating a timely process of negotiation with the Taliban and Hikmatyar? Who converted Afghanistan into a battleground of proxy wars among the regional and international stakeholders? Pakistanis or the American and British intelligence agencies that grouped all anti-China rebels in Kabul in 2002? Was it Pakistan or the US that annoyed Russia by not allowing Karzai to send a few officers for training in the Russian academies? Who installed intelligence officials for eight years in Afghanistan who were staunch opponents of the Afghan president?

It should also be made clear to the US and British rulers that Hamid Karzai, or any other Afghan for that matter, is not troubled by Iran, nor is he in enmity with that country. Rather, it was the US and UK intelligence agencies which established “Jundullah” training camps in Afghanistan and had issued an Afghan passport to Jundullah leader Abdul Malik Riggi. It should be made clear that neither Karzai nor any other Afghan has any objections to the development of Gwadar port or the Chinese investment in Balochistan. Besides the Karachi and Bandar Abbas ports, Gwadar will provide Kabul with another easily accessible short route while development in Balochistan will open up new avenues of development in Afghanistan. But it is the US and the UK which do not like the Chinese investment in Balochistan and the construction of the Gwadar port. These two countries have allowed India to support Baloch separatists in Afghanistan. The Americans and British governments have provided Brahamdagh Bugti with an Indian passport and are still harbouring the mentors of these separatists. Just five days before David Cameron spewed allegations against Pakistan, Britain conferred nationality on an anti-Pakistan Baloch Sardar.

Anomalies in the policies of Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Turkey and the US should be pointed out. The Germans and Turks do no take part in the combat operations. Americans are blaming the British for secret contacts with the Taliban while the latter are suspicious of the former’s intentions.

The Afghan officials are heard complaining that the US and the UK are not interested in peace in Afghanistan. If Pakistan has not played its due role in stabilising the Hamid Karzai government, the US and the UK have wasted no opportunity to destabilise it either. It is no secret that instead of supporting Hamid Karzai and Afghan institutions, the American and British governments have divided the Afghan leadership. Turkey and Germany are backing Rasheed Dostam and Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, respectively, while the US and the UK are backing Abdullah Abdullah and some other warlords. NATO supply trucks cross Pakistan where no taxes or extortion money are paid to the government or Taliban groups. But from the Chaman border to Kabul, ISAF commanders pay the Taliban $2,000 for every truck that crosses the areas under their influence. The extortion has assumed the shape of a regular tax paid to the Taliban in the Wardag province for letting ISAF supply trucks safely cross their areas. This money is the biggest source of Taliban finances at the moment. In this way, the US and the UK are the biggest financier of the Taliban insurgency.

Similarly if the Afghan insurgents are getting financial support through the opium trade, it is the responsibility of the US and UK governments to stop cultivation or ensure destruction of the poppy crops in that country. Also, the Taliban are either using arms made in the US, Russia or Iran and no weapons have been traced back to Pakistan. Therefore, the western alliance is the biggest supporter and sustainer of the Taliban insurgency.

These are some of the facts which are available to even an ordinary journalist like this writer. The Pakistani intelligence agencies must surely be in possession of a vast body of other such information. The question arises: if the US, the UK or India are behind every leak that hurts Pakistan, then why are our security agencies and our government not paying back in the same coin? The Pakistani government or agencies should leak all such information to the media so that our people know the facts and ask people like David Cameron to stop talking. When all facts are open and when we show some national pride, the US and the UK can easily be defeated in their own games.

The writer works for Geo TV. Email:

Turkish president approves military promotions except top two posts

ISTANBUL — Daily News with wires

Turkey’s president on Wednesday ratified a list of appointments to senior military positions that omitted candidates for the top two posts and also excluded officers who are being tried on coup plot allegations.

The ratification came after four days of talks in Ankara between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government and the military. This year’s Supreme Military Council, or YAŞ, generated heated debate as 11 of the officers primed for promotion were suspects in an alleged coup plot against the government.

Wednesday’s appointments did not include any of the officers who are being tried in connection with the “Sledgehammer” (Balyoz) case, an alleged coup plot.

The list approved by Gül also did not include a candidate for Land Forces commander, broadcaster TRT reported, or a candidate for chief of General Staff, Anatolia news agency reported.

According to TRT, the government and the military failed to agree on the candidates for the two positions, the two highest posts in the Turkish military. Gül will announce on Thursday the appointment of the next Land Forces commander, media reported.

Broadcaster CNNTürk reported that the outcome of the meeting also excluded a list of dismissals, which is routine for the annual meeting.

On Monday, the prosecutor called on Gen. Hasan Iğsız, acting commander of the 1st Army and top candidate for Land Forces commander, to testify as part of the Ergenekon probe, another investigation into an alleged anti-government plot.

Eighteen other officers were also summoned on Monday to testify in the case.

The People–vs–The Military In Turkey (that’s how it’s done, folks)

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Overshadowed by coup allegations and arrest warrants for military personnel, the still-unfolding drama of this year’s Supreme Military Council, or YAŞ, may pose one of the biggest crises ever faced by the Turkish army.

“There is a power struggle between the government and the army. The difference in this year’s YAŞ stems from the government’s interference in promotions among military ranks,” security analyst Nihat Ali Özcan told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Wednesday.

The four-day meeting, usually a routine procedure dealing with military promotions and retirements, has been characterized by high tension between the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK.

Late Wednesday evening, Turkish President Abdullah Gül ratified a list of appointments to senior positions, Turkish media reported. None of the officers accused in an alleged coup plot were given promotions.

The bureaucratic warfare that defined the four-day meeting is being seen as the latest, and one of the most serious, bouts in the ongoing battle between the country’s two main pillars.

More on YAŞ
Tangle of coup allegations put Turkish military promotions in doubt

A few military names
Gen. Hasan Iğsız
Gen. Hasan Iğsız is the acting commander of the 1st Army and his name has been mentioned for the top command of the Turkish Land Forces. This potential promotion might be thwarted, however, because he is among the officers called to testify in an investigation of online anti-government propaganda allegedly linked to the so-called “e-memorandum.”

Col. Dursun Çiçek
Col. Dursun Çiçek has the busiest legal agenda among all the suspects. He is alleged to have attached his signature to the Action Plan for the Fight against Fundamentalism, a document detailing anti-government plans. That case has been combined with a branch of the Ergenekon probe. Çicek is also a suspect in the “Sledgehammer” (Balyoz) alleged coup plot and has been named in connection with the online propaganda case as well.

Gen. Ali Aydın
Gen. Ali Aydın is the Gendarmerie Commander for the Kayseri area. He is a suspect in the Sledgehammer case and the superior of Col. Cemal Temizöz, who has been arrested as a suspect in the ongoing case of JİTEM, an alleged illegal intelligence and strike unit within the Gendarmerie accused of many unsolved murders. Aydın is not expected to be promoted.

Gen. Hıfzı Çubuklu
Gen. Hıfzı Çubuklu is the legal counselor to the chief of General Staff. He is expected to be called for questioning in connection with the online propaganda case. Çubuklu has previously been called to testify by Prosecutor Zekeriya Öz, on claims of protecting Col. Zeki Üçok, who was arrested in a case dealing with false certificates of disability for military discharge. Çubuklu did not testify in that case.

Just before this year’s YAŞ began, an Istanbul court issued arrest warrants for 102 officers – including 11 generals and admirals – in connection with the “Sledgehammer” (Balyoz) case, an alleged coup plot. As the meeting continued, a high-level general who had been expected to be named to head Turkey’s Land Forces was called to testify as part of the Ergenekon probe, another investigation into an alleged anti-government plot.

In a normal year, YAŞ would issue its decisions on promotions, retirements and discharges on the fourth and final day of the summit, which was set to be Wednesday. Typically, such decisions would be signed by the prime minister and sent the same day to the president for final approval, then announced to the public.

Media reported Wednesday that the meeting at military headquarters had ended for the fourth day and Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül, who had chaired that day’s session, had passed the decisions made to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who did not participate Wednesday as scheduled.

Gül’s Wednesday schedule, which is normally faxed to newspapers a day early, did not include anything about approval of YAŞ decisions.

In the absence of an official statement about YAŞ, which is closed to the press, speculation abounded that the government is opposing the promotion of the generals embroiled in the Balyoz case, while the military is insisting that at least some of them be allowed to move up in the ranks as scheduled.

“In my personal opinion, the matter is not YAŞ but the arrest warrant issued for 102 officers. This is the biggest crisis ever encountered by the Turkish Armed Forces in its history,” analyst Özcan from the Ankara-based think tank TEPAV told the Daily News.

Erdoğan held surprise talks Wednesday with Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin.

“[The interference in YAŞ] is not the government’s job only,” Özcan said. “There are both official and outside actors such as courts and prosecutors and it is hard to sustain synchronization between them.”

‘Democracy problem’

The crisis at YAŞ is being seen by some observers as a culminating moment in the war between the country’s secular and Islamist forces. The latest developments, however, more seriously reveal a problem with democracy in Turkey, one journalist told the Daily News.

“What has been called the [YAŞ] ‘tradition’ has [actually] been military-dominated practices deprived of [the influence of] the executive power, which left no room for tension. Right now the government is using its power stemming from the laws,” journalist Mehmet Altan said. “All these developments show how far Turkey is from the rule of law and democracy and how it is being ruled with a military understanding.”

Columnist Mehmet Ali Kışlalı, who has close connections within the military, agreed that this year’s summit has taken a radical turn.

“This year’s summit is different. Why? Because the government’s approach toward the armed forces is different,” said Kışlalı, a columnist for daily Radikal. “The government wants to arrange YAŞ issues according to its views to a degree that has not been seen until this year. It wants to make its weight felt.”

The ‘president factor’

A similar conflict between the government and the army occurred in 2005 when an indictment prepared on a bookstore bombing that year in Şemdinli, in the southeastern province of Hakkari, included the name of Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt, who was then the Land Forces commander and later became the chief of the General Staff.

“The difference is this: In the Büyükanıt case, the AKP was in power but the president was different,” said columnist Kışlalı. At that time, staunch secularist Ahmet Necdet Sezer was Turkey’s president. Current President Gül comes from the ranks of the AKP, which takes its roots from the Islamic Welfare Party, or RP.

“The president is very important in YAŞ decisions because the final signature comes from him,” Kışlalı said.

‘Power struggle is nothing new’

This is not the first time there has been a power struggle regarding promotions and appointments in the military ranks, said veteran journalist Uğur Şevkat, who has been following military issues for years. He cited an example dating back to 1977 that he said is applicable today.

“Then-Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel wanted the retirement of then-Land Forces Commander Namık Kemal Ersun without waiting for YAŞ on the suspicion that he might have been planning to stage a coup. He suggested Ali Fethi Esener [instead],” Şevkat said. “But then-President Fahri Korutürk, coming from military ranks, opposed the idea and said he wanted another general, Adnan Ersöz, to be the commander. Because of the government-president conflict, Demirel held the [appointment] decree and refused to send it to the president until Aug. 30, when neither Esener nor Ersöz could be appointed as they both retired due to their age.”

According to Şevkat, that opened the way for another general, Kenan Evren, who had been awaiting retirement, to became Land Forces commander and then the chief of the General Staff. Evren staged the Sept. 12, 1980, coup.

Şevkat added that since governmental decisions are influential regarding appointments, the ruling party could block the accession of Hasan Iğsız, expected to be named to head Turkey’s Land Forces, by holding onto his appointment decree. If it were to do so, he could not be appointed but would instead be subjected to early retirement.