American Resistance To Empire

Obama administration warns public to expect rise in US casualties

Obama administration warns public to expect rise in US casualties

• US forces to step up operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan
• Pakistani president tells US ambassador strikes ‘do not help war on terror’

Ewen MacAskill in Washington and Saeed Shah in Islamabad

The Obama administration warned the US public yesterday to brace itself for an increase in American casualties as it prepares to step up the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan.

Against a background of widespread protests in Pakistan and Afghanistan over US operations since Obama became president, the vice-president, Joe Biden, said yesterday that US forces would be engaged in many more operations as the US takes the fight to its enemies in the region.

The Obama administration is to double the number of US troops in Afghanistan to 60,000 and when asked in a television interview if the US public should expect more American casualties, Biden said: “I hate to say it, but yes, I think there will be. There will be an uptick.”

Greater US involvement in Afghanistan is a political risk for Obama, with the danger that mounting American casualties could make the war as unpopular as Iraq. Obama, in his first military action as president, sanctioned two missile attacks inside Pakistan on Friday, killing 22 people, reportedly women and children among them. The attacks drew criticism from Pakistani officials at the weekend.
The Pakistani president, Asif Zardari, told the US ambassador to Islamabad, Anne Patterson, that the strikes “do not help the war on terror”. According to reports, he also warned her that “these attacks can affect Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terror”.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Mohammad Sadiq, said: “With the advent of the new US administration, it is Pakistan’s sincere hope that the United States will review its policy and adopt a more holistic and integrated approach towards dealing with the issue of terrorism and extremism. We maintain that these [missile] attacks are counter-productive and should be discontinued.”

Biden, in an interview with CBS news, defended the strikes, saying that Obama had repeatedly said on the campaign trail he would not hesitate to strike against any high-level al-Qaida targets. He suggested cooperation between the US and Pakistani counter-terrorist agencies would increase, with more US training for Pakistani counterparts.

Over the last year, there have been at least 30 US missile attacks on Pakistan’s tribal area, which is used as a haven for insurgents fighting international troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.

On Sunday, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, condemned a separate US operation within Afghanistan that he said killed 16 Afghan civilians, prompting hundreds of villagers to demonstrate against the American military.

The US said the raid, on Saturday in Laghman province, killed 15 armed militants, including a woman with an rocket-propelled grenade. But Afghan officials said they killed civilians, including two women and three children. In Laghman’s capital, hundreds of protesters demanded an end to overnight raids.

Karzai warned the killing of innocent Afghans during US military operations was “strengthening the terrorists”. He also announced that his government had sent Washington a draft agreement that seeks to give Afghanistan more oversight over US military operations. The document has also been sent to Nato headquarters.

The death toll on Pakistan’s borders and within Afghanistan has caused widespread public anger, with resentment directed at the US, as well as the Afghanistan and Pakistan governments.

“It undermines the position of the government, its ability to negotiate [a peace deal] with the militants when the Taliban can say: ‘You’re not even master in your own house,'” said Ayaz Amir, a newspaper columnist and an opposition member of Pakistan’s parliament. “It undercuts the credibility of a government, whose credibility is already low.”

Some of the strikes in Pakistan have killed senior al-Qaida militants but they tend to live with local families in the tribal area, making civilian casualties inevitable – which are then used by the Taliban as a recruitment tool.

Rustam Shah Mohmand, an analyst who was formerly Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan, said that Pakistan had leverage it could use, by stopping supplies to Nato troops in Afghanistan to pass through its territory or threatening to withdraw the Pakistani forces deployed along the Afghan border.”

“If anything, the policy [of missile strikes] is going to be more focused, more aggressive, under Obama. There is going to be a ‘surge’ in Afghanistan,” said Mohmand. “The Americans can’t wage this war without Pakistan’s assistance.”

Afghans protest against US strike casualties

Afghans protest against US strike casualties

Published: Sunday 25 January 2009 13:14 UTC
Last updated: Monday 26 January 2009 10:29 UTC

Thousands of people in the town of Mehtar Lam in eastern Afghanistan have taken to the streets in protest at Saturday’s US air strikes. The protesters say civilians were killed in the strikes. The US military says the victims were 15 Taliban fighters.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has expressed anger over the US failure to properly coordinate its attacks with his government. Mr Karzai said that the many civilian casualties in US operations undermine support for the Afghan government and only serve to win support for the terrorists.

Saudi patience is running out

Illustration: Dwynn Ronald V. Trazo/Gulf News

Saudi patience is running out

By Turki al-Faisal, Special to Gulf News
Published: January 24, 2009, 00:31

In my decades as a public servant, I have strongly promoted the Arab-Israeli peace process. During recent months, I argued that the peace plan proposed by Saudi Arabia could be implemented under an Obama administration if the Israelis and Palestinians both accepted difficult compromises. I told my audiences this was worth the energies of the incoming administration for, as the late Indian diplomat Vijaya Lakshmi Nehru Pandit said: “The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war.”

But after Israel launched its bloody attack on Gaza, these pleas for optimism and co-operation now seem a distant memory. In the past weeks, not only have the Israeli Defence Forces murdered more than 1,200 Palestinians, but they have come close to killing the prospect of peace itself. Unless the new US administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the peace process, the US-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk.

Prince Saud Al Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, told the UN Security Council that if there was no just settlement, “we will turn our backs on you”. King Abdullah spoke for the entire Arab and Muslim world when he said at the Arab summit in Kuwait that although the Arab peace initiative was on the table, it would not remain there for long. Much of the world shares these sentiments and any Arab government that negotiated with the Israelis today would be rightly condemned by its citizens. Two of the four Arab countries that have formal ties to Israel – Qatar and Mauritania – have suspended all relations and Jordan has recalled its ambassador.

America is not innocent in this calamity. Not only has the Bush administration left a sickening legacy in the region – from the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to the humiliation and torture at Abu Ghraib – but it has also, through an arrogant attitude about the butchery in Gaza, contributed to the slaughter of innocents. If the US wants to continue playing a leadership role in the Middle East and keep its strategic alliances intact – especially its “special relationship” with Saudi Arabia – it will have to drastically revise its policies vis a vis Israel and Palestine.

The incoming US administration will be inheriting a “basket full of snakes” in the region, but there are things that can be done to help calm them down. First, President Barack Obama must address the disaster in Gaza and its causes. Inevitably, he will condemn Hamas’s firing of rockets at Israel.

When he does that, he should also condemn Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians and support a UN resolution to that effect; forcefully condemn the Israeli actions that led to this conflict, from colony building in the West Bank to the blockade of Gaza and the targeted killings and arbitrary arrests of Palestinians; declare America’s intention to work for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, with a security umbrella for countries that sign up and sanctions for those that do not; call for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Sheba’ Farms in Lebanon; encourage Israeli-Syrian negotiations for peace; and support a UN resolution guaranteeing Iraq’s territorial integrity.

Obama should strongly promote the Abdullah peace initiative, which calls on Israel to pursue the course laid out in various international resolutions and laws: to withdraw completely from the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, returning to the lines of June 4 1967; to accept a mutually agreed just solution to the refugee problem according to the General Assembly resolution 194; and to recognise the independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. In return, there would be an end to hostilities between Israel and all the Arab countries, and Israel would get full diplomatic and normal relations.

Recently, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran wrote a letter to King Abdullah, explicitly recognising Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Arab and Muslim worlds and calling on him to take a more confrontational role over “this obvious atrocity and killing of your own children” in Gaza. The communiqué is significant because the de facto recognition of the kingdom’s primacy from one of its most ardent foes reveals the extent that the war has united an entire region, both Shiite and Sunni. Further, Ahmadinejad’s call for Saudi Arabia to lead a jihad against Israel would, if pursued, create unprecedented chaos and bloodshed in the region.

So far, the kingdom has resisted these calls, but every day this restraint becomes more difficult to maintain. When Israel deliberately kills Palestinians, appropriates their lands, destroys their homes, uproots their farms and imposes an inhuman blockade on them; and as the world laments once again the suffering of the Palestinians, people of conscience from every corner of the world are clamouring for action. Eventually, the kingdom will not be able to prevent its citizens from joining the worldwide revolt against Israel.

Today, every Saudi is a Gazan, and we remember well the words of our late King Faisal: “I hope you will forgive my outpouring of emotions, but when I think that our Holy Mosque in Occupied Jerusalem is being invaded and desecrated, I ask God that if I am unable to undertake Holy Jihad, then I should not live a moment more.”

Let us all pray that Obama possesses the foresight, fairness, and resolve to rein in the murderous Israeli regime and open a new chapter in this most intractable of conflicts.

India signs pact with Kazakhstan for uranium supply

India signs pact with Kazakhstan for uranium supply

NEW DELHI: India on Saturday signed a civil nuclear pact with Kazakhstan under which the uranium-rich Central Asian country will supply much-needed fuel to atomic plants in the country.

India also signed four other pacts, including an Extradition Treaty, in the presence of President Pratibha Patil and her Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Patil oversaw the proceedings of inking of the four pacts as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was indisposed.

Kazakhstan will provide uranium and related products under the Memorandum of Understanding between Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and KazAtomProm. The MoU was signed by NPCIL CMD S K Jain and KazAtomProm President Moukhtar Dzhakishev.

The MoU also opens up possibilities of joint exploration of uranium in Kazakhstan, which has the world’s second largest uranium reserves, and India building atomic power plants in the Central Asian country.

“These agreements are very important for the stature of our bilateral relations,” Nazarbayev told reporters in the capital.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, who led the delegation level talks in absence of Singh, inked the Extradition Treaty with his Kazakh counterpart Marat Tazhin.

Minister of state of commerce Jairam Ramesh and Kazakh minister of trade and industry Vladimir Shkolnik signed the protocol on the accession of Kazakhstan to the World Trade Organisation.

An MoU was signed between ISRO and Kazakh Space Agency for space cooperation. ONGC Mittal Energy Limited also signed and agreement with state-run KazMunaiGas.

Hindu Moral Police/”Taliban”

India shamed and shocked by monsters of Mangalore

India has been shamed again. Goons of a right wing Hindu outfit Sri Ram Sena in Mangalore barged into a pub and beat up women over the weekend – in its latest round of moral policing.

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has reacted to the incident in Mangalore saying those responsible will be taken to task. He said that the police has been given full authority to take appropriate measures.

The women’s only fault was that they were found in the pub. Members of the Sri Ram Sena, who carried out the attack, justified their shameful actions.

More than 15 people have been arrested for the vicious attack as outrage over the incident spreads across the country.

The miscreants have been sent to judicial custody till January 27 and have not been allowed bail. The miscreants have been charged with criminal assault, intimidation, outrage of modesty and criminal trespass.

About 40 men were involved in the attack. Among the arrested are the district secretary and the joint convenor of the Sri Ram Sena.

A special team has been set up to arrest those responsible for the attack. The incident took place over the weekend after the men, completely unrepentant, say they received complaints suggesting the women were dancing ‘obscenely’ in the pub and they decided to act.

The hooligans chased the girls out, attacked men who tried to protect them, there are also reports that the girls were molested.

“So far we have arrested some people and we are further investigating the situation, we will take strong action,” said A M Prasad, Inspector General, West Mangalore.

Talking to NDTV, Karnataka Home Minister VC Acharya said action was being taken against the perpetrators.

This is sadly not an isolated incident of groups taking the law into their own hands – churches and prayer halls around Mangalore were attacked just a few months ago over alleged conversions.

In Bangalore, rave parties on the outskirts of the city were raided – not by police – but by members of the Kannada Rakshana Vedike.

A state that once had a strong image of peace and tolerance seems to be heading in a very different direction now.

European Pipe Dream

Today and tomorrow the European pipeline consortium will meet in Budapest to find financing for their pipeline project that has little to no gas to be carried. The project is from of the neocon play book of dirty tricks to throw at Russia and China.  The American/NATO warlords have bet the farm on this project, using it as a form of economic warfare, intended to deny the Russians a large portion of their gas income.  The funny thing is that Russia is the only nation with the proven supplies necessary to charge these large pipelines.

Balkan pipeline may be in the making

The gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine has given fresh impetus to plans to build a pipeline through Turkey and the Balkans, bringing Central Asian gas to Western Europe. At the instigation of Hungary, European Union and Central Asian officials meet in Budapest on Tuesday to try to breathe new life into the 10-billion-euro ($12.96 billion) Nabucco scheme and reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

Gas dispute
Picture: DPA

The contract row between Moscow and Kiev led to a cut-off of supplies of Russian gas affecting millions of people in central Europe in early January.

“There isn’t a PR campaign in the world that could have given the Nabucco as much attention as the Russian-Ukrainian dispute did,“ Hungarian government spokeswoman Bernadett Budai, said. “This is the best opportunity in years to make progress.“

The Nabucco plan envisages piping gas 3,300 km (2,000 mile) from the Caspian region through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to a distribution hub in Austria. Nabucco aims to meet 5 percent of Europe’s gas needs.

Progress has been slow and insiders say any one of a series of obstacles could sink the project. Expectations are not high for Tuesday’s talks, which will be attended by consortium members Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Romania and Turkey.

Also present will be Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, representing the EU presidency, as well as EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, government representatives from Azerbaijan and Iraq and corporate officials from Turkmenistan.

High on the list of difficulties are securing enough gas supplies and a dispute with Turkey over a demand by Ankara to keep a net 15 percent of the gas that would flow through the pipeline.

Turkey’s five partners want it to serve as a transit country that would not use any of the annual 30 billion cubic metres of gas the pipeline will eventually carry.

A Turkish energy official said last week Ankara expected to settle this, and other outstanding issues, in Budapest this week.

Turkey has also linked its support for Nabucco to its accession talks with the European Union.

During a visit to Brussels last week, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan threatened to reconsider support for Nabucco in response to a Cypriot veto over energy-related aspects of the accession talks. A few hours later, however, he said he would never use Nabucco as a weapon.

These disagreements with Turkey have hampered progress on a deal that would set out the long-term rules for the pipeline.


However, Nabucco’s inability to secure enough sources of gas has been the biggest threat and critics say only Russia, which is planning its own rival scheme known as South Stream, has the gas and infrastructure to supply the pipeline.

Russian officials have expressed scepticism about its eventual success.

“Nabucco could be a monument to great ambitions and actions not thought through properly,“ Viktor Zubkov, Russia’s first deputy prime minister and Gazprom’s chairman said when asked in Budapest at the weekend if Nabucco could survive without Russian gas.

Without gas supplies and no deal between member governments, the pipeline’s financing is still in doubt.

Banks are unwilling to come up with cash until an inter-governmental agreement is signed, long-term conditions are established and supplies are secured.

However, potential suppliers, such as Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are reluctant to sign up until financing is in place and the pipeline has been built.

Iran, which has indicated its willingness to provide gas, is diplomatically not acceptable while Iraq’s infrastructure is far from adequate, experts say.

Nabucco’s shareholders — who include Austria’s OMV, MOL of Hungary, Romania’s Transgaz, Bulgargaz, Turkey’s Botas and RWE of Germany — have said the EU should provide guarantees or prefinancing to persuade suppliers and banks that Nabucco is viable.

Two terrorists killed in police encounter at Noida (of course they are Pakistani!)


Two terrorists killed in police encounter at Noida

Ashok Kumar

NOIDA: Two suspected Pakistani terrorists allegedly planning to target the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi were killed in a gun battle with the Uttar Pradesh police in Sector 97 here on Sunday.

Two AK-47 assault rifles, four magazines, 120 rounds of ammunition, five hand-grenades, nine suspected RDX rods, detonators and Rs.18,000 in cash have been seized.

The 30-minute encounter, a joint operation of the U.P. Anti-Terrorist Squad and the Noida police, took place in an open plot around 2-30 a.m. The terrorists, travelling in a white Maruti car, opened fire at the ATS team when asked to stop, leading to an exchange of fire. Both the terrorists sustained bullet injuries and were declared brought dead at a hospital.

ATS constable Vinod Kumar also sustained a bullet injury in his leg and is recuperating. “While being taken to hospital, one of the terrorists identified himself as Farooq, a resident of Okara in Pakistan, and his companion as Abu Ismail from Rawalkot in PoK,” said a senior police officer.

EU states monitor spread of civil unrest

EU states monitor spread of civil unrest

26. January 2009. | 08:03 08:05


EU member states are “intensively” monitoring the risk of spreading civil unrest in Europe, as riots over the economic crisis erupt in Iceland following street clashes in Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Greece.

EU member states are “intensively” monitoring the risk of spreading civil unrest in Europe, as riots over the economic crisis erupt in Iceland following street clashes in Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Greece.

The worst street disturbances for 50 years struck Reykjavik on Thursday (22 January), as police streamed a hardcore of a few hundred anti-government protesters in the early morning with pepper spray and then tear gas after an earlier crowd of around 2,000 gathered outside the Althingi, the country’s parliament, to demand the government resign.

The crowds surrounded the building while banging pots and pans and shooting off fireworks. The demonstrators also lobbed paving stones, rolls of toilet paper and shoes.

It was the second day of protests after on Wednesday protesters jostled Minister Geir Haarde’s limousine, pummelling it with cans of soft drinks and eggs.

The regular demonstrations have strained the government coalition, with the ruling Independence Party on Thursday saying it “realises that there will be elections this year.”

Iceland is not an EU member, but the protests could result in it being the first European country to see its government brought down by the economic crisis.

“It’s a democracy that has its problems like many other states as a result of the economic crisis,” European Commission external relations spokeswoman Christiane Hohmann said.

The events in Iceland come hot on the heels of anti-government clashes in Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria in recent days, where economic discontent mixed with local issues erupted in violence.

Trade unions in Greece meanwhile warn that further strikes are still likely, after protracted street fighting by students and young workers in December that caused billions in damage.

Concern about the spreading unrest is high on the EU agenda, as governments find it increasingly more expensive to borrow money, putting pressure on social programmes.

“There are concerns. The EU shares them. It is one of the major challenges for the Spring European Council,” said a senior EU official, referring to the quarterly gathering of EU leaders.

EU ambassadors in Brussels are discussing the issue and receiving “regular updates”, according to another official, although he added that more intelligence on the situation is needed to see whether the riots are “part of a social trend” or manipulation by opposition elements.

Lithuania’s interior minister visited Latvia to discuss public security problems related to the economic crisis even before the Vilnius and Riga riots last week.

Lithuania is currently collecting “all available information about similar events in other member states” and sharing it with “concerned” countries Estonia, France, Germany and Latvia, a Lithuanian diplomat told the EUobserver.

“Intensive share of information” is also taking place between the Baltic states and Poland, he added.

Following the ructions in Vilnius, 11 further peaceful demonstrations were organised around the country by trade-unions.

“Due to the declining economic [situation] and problems raised by it, a possibility of similar meetings still remains, but we hope that riots will not be repeated,” he said.

More to come

In a Wednesday interview with the BBC, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, predicted that the economic downturn will cause more unrest.

“[It could happen] almost everywhere, in Europe certainly, and also in emerging countries,” he said. “You’ve had some strikes that look like normal, usual strikes, but it may worsen in the coming months.”

Asked which countries were most at risk, Mr Strauss-Kahn mentioned Hungary, Ukraine, Latvia and Belarus. “It can be my own country [France], the UK, it can be eastern Europe,” he said.

“The situation is really, really serious,” he added.

Oil, Obama, And Pakistan

Oil, Obama, And Pakistan

America’s military policy is following its foreign policy which follows the smell of oil. Forget freedom and democracy. That’s for fools. Pakistanis are fooling themselves if they think President Obama will be able to change this. Let’s pray he does. The Karachi-Torkham-Afghanistan supply route and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline means that U.S. will have to take effective control of Balochistan, Gwadar and Karachi. This will also help deny Iran and China any stake in their own pipelines across Pakistan. America can’t do this by going to war with a strong Pakistani military. Destabilization is part of the plan, with some margin for unintended consequences. Now you understand the game.

By Ahmed Quraishi

Wednesday, 21 January 2009.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Publicly, America’s most immediate challenge after the government change is Afghanistan and Pakistan. Privately, in Washington’s power corridors, it is oil.

Oil, and not al Qaeda, is threatening to knock America off global leadership. President Obama takes over a country whose global economic leadership is threatened by dwindling oil reserves and a dogfight over whatever remains.

Oil is running out, fast. And the remaining oil, including new reserves, lie in other people’s lands, closer to Russia, China, Europe and other powers. America’s global supremacy rests on an economic system based on easy access to oil. If someone else gets that oil, America loses.

Jon Thompson, an American oil veteran ExxonMobil Exploration Company’s former president, has written in June 2003 that by next decade the world will need 80% more oil than we have today to keep the world going.

Luckily for President Obama, his predecessor, George W. Bush, has done an excellent job in: One, securing new oil, and, Two, warding off threat from other oil hungry powers.

Under the guise of spreading freedom and democracy, Bush’s eight years saw the biggest expansion of American military bases across the world. And the trail follows the smell of oil. This riddle is as mysterious as the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

America’s foreign policy was also adjusted to follow the footprint of oil, going where the oil is, be it Angola, Sudan/Darfur, Central Asia, Russia, Colombia, Georgia, Venezuela, and of course Iraq. Somalia is fast becoming the latest battlefield in this secretive global dogfight over oil and transport routes.

In the words of veteran American oil industry correspondent William Engdahl, ‘U.S. military and foreign policy was now about controlling every major existing and potential oil source and transport route on earth […] One superpower, the United States, would be in a position to decide who gets how much energy and at what price.’

The Taliban government was not an enemy of America. It sent delegations to United States and lobbied for U.S. State Department’s attention. Its removal was decided much before 9/11, according to Pakistan’s former top diplomat Niaz Naik, who was told so explicitly by U.S. officials in July 2001. Taliban fell out of favor because they put terms and conditions on the pipelines that American oil giants planned to construct on Afghan territory. Taliban were replaced by U.S. oil consultants Zalmay Khalilzad and Hamid Karzai.

Pakistan was and continues to be the next target. U.S. diplomatic meddling has already disturbed the natural progression of the Pakistani government system, leading to instability and creating local players who look to America for support. U.S. military intervention is softening up the country through regular missile attacks and drone flights. The last time this method proved effective was in Iraq during the 1990s. The chatter in the U.S. think tanks and media about Pakistan’s division along ethnic lines has never been this high. Pakistan has to be subdued in order for American energy and military transport lines to become secure. America needs to secure Pakistani transport routes from the sea to the Afghan border.

Balochistan is an interesting case. Destabilizing this Pakistani province disturbs Iran’s plans to lay down pipelines to Pakistan and beyond. The instability also helps destroy China’s chances of using Gwadar, the new Pakistani port city overlooking oil-rich Gulf, to dock its commercial and naval ships. In fact, the entire area between Gwadar and the Sino-Pakistani border is up in insurgencies of all sorts, known and unknown. This is the same route that a future Chinese oil pipeline is supposed to take, linking China to oil supplies from Africa and the Gulf. This entire area was peaceful before 2005, until meddling by unknown actors began from the U.S.-controlled Afghan soil, exploiting Pakistani internal problems.

The United States is playing a big role in ‘softening’ Pakistan. It is trying to pitch the country’s elected governments against the military to reduce the military’s ability to decide Pakistani interest on Afghanistan, China and India. Outside meddling is easy thanks to Pakistan’s weak political and government structure.

Stopping American intervention in Pakistan, while continuing the cooperative relationship, is the biggest challenge facing President Obama.

Will he do it? The facts on the ground are not encouraging. After gaining unprecedented access inside Pakistan – both diplomatically and militarily – it is doubtful that an Obama administration would scale back U.S. gains.

Pakistan will have to tell the U.S. that it has legitimate security and strategic interests in the region and that it cannot allow the U.S. to decide those for Pakistan. This includes the shape of the future government in Kabul, the expansion of the Indian role in the region, and the relationship with China.

Obama’s Washington has to understand, respect and work with Pakistani interests and concerns. Any other type of relationship won’t work. President Obama needs to wean his policy planners off the idea of reproducing the pliant regimes Baghdad and Kabul.

Those things require war. And President Obama doesn’t want another war, does he?

Afghan Taliban Form Shadow Government

Afghan Taliban Form Shadow Government

The ‘real’ Taliban (as opposed to the fake ones based in Pakistan who are heavily penetrated by suspect foreign intelligence operatives) now have shadow governors in all but three of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan.

By News Staff
Monday, 19 January 2008.

KABUL, Afghanistan-The Taliban are claiming they control 70 per cent of rural Afghanistan and have instituted a shadow government with their own police, courts and rule of law.

The boast comes in the days leading up to Barack Obama’s inauguration as U.S. president, who is planning on dramatically ratcheting up America’s military presence in Afghanistan.

The Taliban’s claim is being dismissed by many inside Afghanistan as empty rhetoric, but there is little denying that their presence is expanding.

Khalid Pashtoon, a member of the Afghan Parliament, says there isn’t enough NATO and Afghan troops to police the entire country. As well, the justice system is spread thin and some villagers are turning to the harsh – but swift — justice system of the Taliban.

“Right now the people have completely lost their faith, they mostly solve their legal disputes over Taliban judges,” he said.

Recently the governor of Kandahar visited distant parts of his province to counter claims that the Taliban was in control in those regions.

Tooryalai Wesa, the Canadian-Afghan governor of Kandahar, called the Taliban’s assertions “rumors.”

But many villagers in the region told CTV’s Steve Chao a different story — saying they put their trust in the Taliban.

Wesa’s shadow government counterpart is believed to be Mahibullah Akhunzada, The Canadian Press reports. He replaced Mullah Mahmood, who died last year in an air strike in Khakrez district.

He has said that the Taliban has shadow governors in all but three of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.

With a report from CTV’s Steve Chao and files from The Canadian Press. Published by CTV.CA

© 2007-2008. All rights reserved.

Taliban’s Swift Justice

Taliban’s Swift Justice

By Dr. Ghayur Ayub

Friday, 23 January 2009.


ISLAMABAD, PakistanIt was during a visit to Peshawar that I met a senior police officer. He narrated a story which was brow-raising. He told of a person from Bannu who lent Rs. 40,000 [approx. U.S. $500] to a man he knew, who promised that he would return it within a specified time. He told the borrower that he had saved up the said amount to help pay for his children’s education. When the agreed time lapsed, he asked him to return the amount. The borrower started making excuses and after a few months he flatly refused and challenged the lender to do what ever he could. There is a Pukhtu word for it ‘Laas Da Azaad De’.

The man went from pillar to post to seek justice but with no result. The police proved incapable as the borrower was a powerful man with strong connections. When he tried to knock on the door of the court for justice he was dismayed to hear that it would take months for the case to come to a hearing and years to reach a final judgment. After all that, the chances were that the verdict would go against him as he was up against powerful people. To top it off, he was told he had to pay Rs 1000 upfront every time he wanted to put his case forward for a hearing. This amount did not include the amount he was going to pay the lawyers. When he calculated it, the approximate amount turned out to be more than the actual amount he was going to seek justice for.

At the end of every day, he would go back home heart broken; cursing his luck to be living in a country where there was no justice for the middle or poor classes. He tried to persuade the borrower by pleading with him, explaining how desperately he needed the money for his children’s education. He even offered a discount or to split the amount into installments, but all in vain. It was like hitting a brick wall. He felt dejected, helpless and powerless to see his children suffering just because he came from a stratum of a society pushed against the wall.

One evening, he heard a knock on the door. He opened it and saw two strangers with bushy beards standing outside. Thinking they were there to collect charity, he asked with irritation what they wanted. They told him that they saw him crying in the mosque and on enquiry they were told that someone was refusing to pay his money back. With a surprised look on his face, he asked them who they were.

“We are local Taliban,” they said. Then they asked if he would let them have his side of story. He saw a ray of hope and ushered them in. After listening to his story, the Taliban told him that the borrower had committed an un-Islamic act, and if he wanted they could persuade him to return the said money. “We want your permission”. His heart jumped with flickering optimism and immense joy and without any hesitation, he gave them his consent. Before they left the premises they asked for 72 hours.

According to the police officer, the Taliban went to the influential man and told him it was un-Islamic not to pay the amount he had borrowed from the man. They threatened that if he did not pay the debt back within 48 hours; he would bear the consequences. They also told him how Taliban had previously dealt with people like him. Shivers went through the spine of the ‘powerful’ man as he knew what their threat meant. With a dry mouth, frightened face and shaking body he nodded his head in agreement, promising he would return the amount. The next day, he went to the house of the lender and paid back the full amount he had refused up until then. He apologized for the delay and requested him to tell the Taliban not to harm him or his family and to let them know that he had returned the money. The Taliban never went back to ask whether he got the money back, but they must had been watching the development. From that day on, according to the police officer, that man became a strong supporter of Taliban. Could anyone blame him?

Another related story about quick and effective justice comes from the Bugti tribe of Balochistan. According to electronic media, a man named Nazim Ali was refused his share in a dispute. According to him, he spent a lot of money to get justice from the court but failed because of corrupt practices. So he went to the tribal chief who referred him to the Jirga. The Jirga decided that he should walk on fire and if he was telling the truth he will not be burned. Nazim Ali agreed to it and in front of onlookers he walked on red hot coal. After the walk, people saw that his soles were not burned. The chief decided in his favor and he was given his due share.

There are countless other stories of parallel justice systems running in Pakistan in the present day. These systems seem to be nippy and effective satisfying their poor clients. Some are Taliban style, others tribal style, sharing one commonality; they are swift, just and not stained with corruption.

In my discussions with different walks of people living in the troubled parts of FATA and NWFP the vast majority agreed that the justice provided by Taliban is fair and quick. They might not agree with other activities related to Talibanization such as discouraging western education, burning of schools, gender discrimination etc; but they do appreciate the provision of justice served at the doorsteps with efficiency, audacity and honesty. Swift justice is the major achievement which attracts the poor people of Pakistan to Taliban.

Dr. Ayub can be reached at

US will act on ‘actionable targets’ in FATA: Biden

US will act on ‘actionable targets’ in FATA: Biden

* Vice president says US working to build Pakistan’s capability to counter insurgency
* FATA had been ‘ungovernable’ for Pakistan

WASHINGTON: Hinting that the United States drone attacks in the Tribal Areas would continue as before, US Vice President Joe Biden said the US would act if there was an ‘actionable target’ in sight.

He said the US was working towards strengthening Pakistan’s counterinsurgency capability, but declined to specifically address the issue of drone strikes against suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda targets on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border.

“I cannot speak to any particular attack. I cannot speak to any particular action. It is not appropriate for me to do that,” he said in response to a question in the backdrop of Friday’s drone strikes on North and South Waziristan, which killed 18 people.

Working: “What we are doing is we are in the process of working with the Pakistanis to help train up the counterinsurgency capability of their military, and we’re getting new agreements with them about how to deal with cross-border movements of these folks, so we are making progress,” Biden said.

Referring to US President Barack Obama’s election campaigning, Biden said the president had “said during his campaign and in the debates that if there is an actionable target, of a high-level Al Qaeda personnel, that he would not hesitate to use action to deal with that”.

He, however, praised increased cooperation by Pakistani authorities, calling the coordination ‘good news’.

“The good news is that in my last trip – and I have been to Pakistan and that region many times – there is a great deal more cooperation going on now between the Pakistan military in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Waziristan, North Waziristan – all that area that we hear about being ungovernable,” he said.

FATA: But Biden added that the areas had “been ungovernable for the Pakistani government. That’s where the bad guys are hiding. That’s where the Al Qaeda folks are, and some other malcontents”.

Biden also expressed understanding of the fact that FATA had been historically ungoverned.

According to a Pakistani embassy spokesman, agreement of views on coordination of border monitoring, improvement in intelligence-sharing and bolstering the capacity of Pakistani security forces was a continuous process between the coalition partners.

A senior official in Islamabad on Sunday said the drone attacks were counterproductive to Pakistan’s efforts aimed at curbing extremism.

On Afghanistan, Biden said the new US administration had inherited a ‘real mess’. “What’s happened is that because of a failure to provide sufficient resources, economic, political and military, as well as failure to get a coherent policy among our allies, economically and politically, and in terms of military resources, the situation has deteriorated a great deal,” he said

Charges Filed Against 15 Israeli Officials

Charges Filed Against 15 Israeli Officials

Palestinian and international efforts continue to institute legal proceedings for the prosecution of Israeli officials in the commission of war crimes.

International attorneys have filed war crime charges against 15 Israeli political and military officials including Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak.
Palestinian and international efforts continue to institute legal proceedings for the prosecution of Israeli officials in the commission of war crimes.
Although Israeli forces are involved in thousands of cases, local experts such as the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights believe that the recent major attacks on the Gaza Strip will be successfully prosecuted.
“They were well-documented, televised and the world was paying attention,“ a member of the Gaza City team commented.
After the very public detection of large-scale atrocities which included the use of white phosphorus bombs in enclosed civilian areas and the liquidation of children there is little defense, PNN reported.
Fifteen specific names are now pending for prosecution in The Hague’s war crimes tribunal.
Those listed for prosecution include Israeli political and military officials, namely Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak.
Israelis are being warned internally against leaving its boundaries due to fears of arrest.
French lawyer Gilles Dovers is handling the complaint in Paris calling for the “open investigation into war crimes“ committed by Israeli forces during three weeks in Gaza.
Dovers said today that 500 complaints are being submitted by Arab, European and Latin American officials. Bolivia is preparing its own case, as is Venezuela.
Argentine international prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is deciding whether to go ahead with an investigation.
The French lawyer said there is some fear of interference from the United Nations Security Council under pressure from the United States to stop the proceedings and prevent the achievement of access to trial. The founding texts of the International Criminal Court empower the Security Council to suspend its work.
Today’s invitation to try at least 15 Israeli officials is being delivered by 30 international lawyers of several nationalities.
In parallel, the intention of a group of French lawyers to file a complaint on behalf of French citizens of Palestinian origin to the French courts against Israeli officials is gaining attention in the cities of Paris and eastern France.
Coordination with other lawyers in Belgium and Spain is underway as similar complaints against the Israeli officials are being made in Brussels and Madrid. Belgium is among the countries who issued charges against Ariel Sharon in the past.
Moroccan lawyers also disclosed on Thursday practical steps toward filing a lawsuit against “the perpetrators of war crimes“ in Gaza. Six lawyers are working with the Minister of Justice of Morocco.
As reported by PNN throughout the week, in Tel Aviv Israeli activists published 15 names:
Ehud Barak, Amir Peretz, Binyamin Ben Eliezer, Avi Dichter, Carmi Gilon, Dan Halutz, Doron Almog, Ehud Olmert, Eliezer Shkedy, Gabi Ashkenazi, Giora Eiland, Matan Vilani, Moshe Bogi Yaalon, Shaul Mofaz and Tzipi Livni.

Preparing Against Crimes
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has put the justice minister in charge of defending Israel against charges of war crimes during its 22-day Gaza assault, a government source said Friday.
Daniel Friedman will lead an inter-ministerial team to coordinate a legal defense for civilians and the military, the source said.
Ehud Barak, the Defense Minister and architect of the offensive, ordered the army to establish an incrimination team of intelligence and legal experts to examine any evidence that could be used against Israeli officials in law suits. That could possibly include Major-General Yoav Galant, the chief of Israel’s southern command, as well as other senior officers.
According to human rights groups, Israel killed more than 1,400 Palestinians with a third being children and also wounded at least 5500.
Israeli massive offensive also destroyed UN schools and the main aid headquarters where tons of food was stocked were bombed beside mosques, hospitals, government buildings.

Compelling Evidence
UN human rights expert and retired Princeton law professor Richard Falk said on Thursday that there is compelling evidence that Israel violated the laws of war by “conducting a large-scale military operation against an essentially defenseless population.“
“There needs to be an investigation carried out under independent auspices as to whether these grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions should be treated as war crimes,“ the professor said, adding that he believes “that there is the prima facie case for reaching that conclusion.“
“This is the first time I know of where a civilian population has been essentially locked into the war zone, not allowed to leave it despite the dense population and the obvious risks that were entailed,“ Falk pointed out, “the civilians in Gaza were denied the option of becoming a refugee.“

Confusion In Islamabad: Can Politicians & Military Handle The Mess?

Confusion In Islamabad: Can

Politicians & Military Handle The


There are conflicting signals about what is happening inside the Zardari government, and mixed signals on U.S. and India. Pakistani experts are now convinced that India’s ‘evidence’ regarding Mumbai is not watertight. But a pro-U.S. core within the Pakistani government is preventing Islamabad from talking openly about it. The Pakistani media and political class remain confused about priorities, discussing nonissues such as the marks of a daughter of a senior judge and political backstabbing when the country faces a gathering storm on its international borders. The debate within military circles is substantive. But the military won’t intervene.


Sunday, 25 January 2009.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—There are some indications that the Zardari government is taking a tougher line toward India and toward the proxy U.S. pressure regarding the Mumbai attacks and the U.S. attacks inside Pakistan.

This change, if real, contrasts sharply with the initial passive attitude of the members of the government who appeared too eager to take in the sermons from U.S. officials and to appease India.

Meanwhile, Pakistani defense analysts are reviewing some of the longtime military beliefs regarding how to fight a war with India in case of Indian aggression. Of special concern is the reported power concentration around central and northern Pakistan, leaving the southern parts of the country exposed. Some defense analysts, as shown later in this report, are arguing

The problem lies in the fact that this government is issuing contradictory statements. President Zardari, for example, has condemned, without naming President Obama, the Jan. 23 U.S. missile attacks inside Pakistan. But he is not ready to go beyond this or take a stronger public line. There are reports that his government has an understanding with Washington on increasing U.S. operations inside Pakistan. But Mr. Husain Haqqani, Mr. Zardari’s pointman and ambassador in Washington, was reported last week as having said that Pakistan might consider ‘other options’ if the U.S. did not change its policy. The statement raised eyebrows in Islamabad, coming from a known U.S. apologist in the elected Pakistani government.

This hardline is tempered by other statements that verge on appeasement. On India, Prime Minister Gilani said on Jan. 14 that India’s ‘evidence’ on Mumbai attacks is more of ‘information’ and not evidence that can admitted in a court of law. But o Jan 23, Mr. Gilani told a London newspaper that Pakistan ‘needs to act fast’ on the Indian dossier and emphasized, rather sheepishly, that Pakistan is taking the dossier ‘seriously’.

There are elements within the PPP government who are strongly pro-U.S. This includes President Zardari, Mr. Haqqani, and Interior Adviser Rehman Malik. The former national security adviser M. A. Durrani is no longer in this group. All four were either longtime residents in the United States and United Kingdom or retained strong business and personal interests in both countries. On the other hand, there are other PPP officials who do not approve of the policies of this pro-U.S. camp but are incapable of opposing them openly. This group supposedly includes – to varying degrees – Prime Minister Yousaf Reza Gilani and some other lower-level party officials. This division is fluid and is not immediately clear. One sign of it surfaced on Jan. 7, when national security adviser Mr. Durrani was caught making leaks to the Indian media to embarrass Pakistan. Mr. Tasnim Qureshi, the State Minister for Interior, appeared on television to confront the revelations that Mr. Durrani was making. A couple of news channels showed Mr. Qureshi quite disturbed by his own government’s national security adviser insisting that Ajmal Kassab, the name India uses to describe the man in its custody involved in the Mumbai attacks, was indeed a Pakistani citizen. Mr. Qureshi went as far as saying that Mr. Kassab was an Indian intelligence asset even if it was proven beyond doubt that he was a Pakistani citizen.

President Zardari appears to be in a bind. He apparently has some commitments under the ‘deal’ brokered by the U.S. with former president Pervez Musharraf. But on the other hand, has to keep the Pakistani public opinion and the Pakistani military on his side.

Prime Minister Gilani’s soft message to India is balanced by Interior Advisor Rehman Malik’s veiled statement on Jan. 22 that foreign hands were behind insurgencies in Swat and the tribal belt:

Pakistan Interior Advisor Rehman Malik has said that the rise in extremist activities in the tribal regions of the country was due to the help being offered to the extremists groups from some foreign countries. He said that foreign hands were patronizing terrorists in the Swat valley, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Mr. Malik’s statement came during a closed door briefing at the Pakistan Foreign Office given to eighty diplomats based in the Pakistani capital, including U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson. Ms. Patterson was apparently keen to counter the impression that Washington is endorsing India’s position. This is an impression that U.S. ambassador in New Delhi and the outgoing Bush administration made quite clear. Additionally, the CIA, which is facilitating information exchange between ISI and the Indian security establishment, had also given clear indication that U.S. endorses the Indian ‘evidence’ without giving Pakistan the chance to verify it.

Pakistani officials are now telling the Americans and the British that they need DNA samples from Mr. Kassab to ascertain that he is the same person whose name appears in Pakistani records. Pakistani officials are also talking now about asking India for access to three senior Indian army officers arrested for blowing up 60 Pakistani citizens visiting Indian aboard a train service known as ‘Samjhauta Express’ [friendship train] in 2006.

Interestingly, the Zardari government has not made any formal request to India regarding access to the arrested Indian army officers. It could be possible that the government is releasing these trial balloons in order to show Pakistanis that the government is willing to take a hardline in defense of Pakistani interests. In this line of analysis, it would be fair to say that the Zardari government is reluctant to confront the ‘deal guarantors’ in Washington by taking a policy line that is confrontational in any way to the U.S. or its new regional ally, India.

The chairman of the Pakistani Senate Standing Committee on Interior, Senator Talha Mahmood, said as much on Jan. 14, insisting that Foreign powers are dictating the government:

Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, Talha Mahmood, said that the government was taking dictates from the foreign powers for promoting their agenda in Pakistan and had sidelined the parliament’s resolution that asked for a halt to the operations in the tribal and settled areas besides his committee’s recommendations. Talking to journalists here, Talha alleged that the government was being run by two or four persons who were taking dictates from the foreign powers instead of protecting the interests of the country and its people. “It is being trumpeted that there is a complete democracy in the country but it exists on papers only. Two or four persons are running the affairs of the government who don’t consider themselves responsible to the people or parliament,” he alleged.

Military Rethink

The former Deputy Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Air Force, retired Air Vice Marshal Shehzad Chaudhry, in an op-ed piece published on Jan. 21, called on the government to adopt an ‘institutional approach’ in analyzing the threats facing Pakistan. He called on the Pakistani military to temporarily shed its resolve not to interfere in politics and offer its institutional capabilities for crisis management to the government considering the exceptionally difficult regional situation.

His analysis was quite clear on the threats facing Pakistan and it’s not just ‘terrorism’ as defined by the United States. In his piece, titled, ‘The gathering storm, AVM Chaudhry wrote:

What gathers additionally on the horizon is even more disconcerting. What with the RAND study for the US Army engaging in a “long war”; and another sponsored by the US Joint Staff endeavoring to determine the most likely points of application of the US military in the future, pointing towards a nexus of Islamist threat in combination with a failed state of nuclear Pakistan that so scares the Americans.
The importance of what
RAND says or what the US Joint Staff is sweating on can never be underplayed. The RAND guys are no neo-cons working on extravagant notions of re-carving the world; instead they are at the delivery end working out the combatant level logistic, operational and strategic details. Pakistan has never been in a more critical security dilemma. Even the 1971 the loss of East Pakistan was not as dangerous in consequences as is the current and progressively deteriorating regional and global environment from Pakistan‘s perspective.

Most importantly, he sent an indirect message to General Tariq Majeed, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, and to General Ashfaq Kayani, Chief of the Army Staff. The message is that this is not the time to keep the military in the background:

Amongst the few functioning institutions, the military chastened by their experience of the last nine years consider it wise to keep at a distance, while the foreign ministry is woefully short of effort to go beyond fire-fighting and superficial treatment of immediate sores. It neither has the time nor the inclination to dig deeper than the surface and address the inherent dangers to the state and the nation. In a paradox of comical proportions, neither is the state and government leadership getting an honest and well deliberated guidance from the bureaucracy. The state is in need of all hands; even though the military might wish to prove its non-intervening credentials, now perhaps is not the time. It should be able to bring the support of its organizational strength and institutional approach to deliberating issues of critical national importance in helping formulate the blue-print of recovery from a complex situation. The other national institutions too

On India, he wrote:

India is likely to continue to up the ante in terms of diplomatic pressure, enlivened by suitably spaced jingoistic support. It shall essentially be an effort to keep Pakistan embroiled in a meaningless banter and dissuade Pakistan from a steadied attention to the most important, hoping that Pakistan might implode from within under the weight of these compounding adversities.

Another retired Pakistani military officer and a defense analyst, Ikram Sehgal, published an important article on Jan. 22, titled Cold-starting Pakistan, describing in detail an Indian military doctrine that is stunning in its aggressiveness leaves no doubts about India’s aggressive military intentions toward Pakistan. The article is important because it indirectly raises questions about how and why the U.S. government and the think tanks deliberately suppress such glaring evidence that shows India as a cause of regional instability and not the victim that New Delhi likes to portray itself as.

Cold Start is the name that India has given to a policy of ordering rapid deployment forces to attack Pakistan in case of a terrorist attack inside or against India, without taking into consideration the other possibilities, like some third player trying to start a war, or the possibility of Hindu terrorist groups staging attacks and blaming them on Pakistan like they did in the ‘Samjhauta Express’ tragedy, according to India’s own investigations.

Mr. Sehgal made two important revelations in his article. One on how a quick Pakistani military response dampened the chances of a possible Indian military aggression after the Mumbai attacks, and second, an important revelation about the distribution of Pakistani military forces in Pakistan’s northern and southern regions.

He wrote:

Rumors are afloat about a game plan where India will conduct surgical strikes against “known” terrorist camps, and Pakistan will helpfully turn the other cheek. Our rather helpless response to daily “Predator” attacks, bluster rather than any substance, has given weight to this belief. Bob Woodward’s book “Bush at War” describes how, agonising over how to convince Pakistan, the US hierarchy was nonplussed by Pervez Musharraf’s “ready and willing” acceptance of all seven US demands without even a murmur. Was diplomatic pressure recently brought on Pakistan to fall in line in the “supreme” interest of the “war against terrorism,” the logic being that since only “terrorist” targets were to be engaged this was in “Pakistan’s interest”? Wonder of wonders, for once we did not roll over and play dead! Our rulers probably calculated that the people of Pakistan would give them short shift.

Initiating preliminary actions of their “Cold Start” Doctrine, the IAF was geared into a “first strike” mode. Picked up by our intelligence, the PAF responded by a “show of force” on “high alert.” A dense fog then engulfed most areas of the likely military options. During this time-lag some strategic reserves were extricated from FATA and rushed eastwards, that “window of opportunity” for India passed. Mere coincidence that three Strike Corps are in “winter collective exercise” mode in the Rajasthan Desert? That too carrying their first- and second-line ammunition? Movement of their Amphibious Brigade and dumping of fuel for forward deployment of troop-lifting helicopters has also been detected.

Pakistan‘s history is replete with strategic blunders of monumental stupidity, we have only been saved by tactical successes achieved by the great sacrifices and outstanding bravery of our soldiers, sailors and airmen, those who have actually taken part in action, and not just talked about it.

On the second point, the distribution of Pakistani military forces between the north and the south of the country, Mr. Sehgal made this observation:

Some morons thought up the “Defence of the East lies in the West,” and we left East Pakistan defenceless […] Those who think that “the defence of the South lies in the North,” i.e., putting the bulk of our Armed Forces protecting our main population centres and communication in the Punjab and AK, may be theoretically correct in a long-drawn-out war, in the short Indo-Pak version it is stupid, monumentally stupid, particularly in the face of the known Indian deployment.

As night turns into day, the Indians will put their main effort in the deep South. 18 Div was almost overwhelmed in 1971. Two brigades of 33 Div were force-marched from the Rahimyarkhan area to stem the rot. Only the outstanding courage of individual unit commanders like
Lt Col (later Brig) Mohammad Taj, S J & Bar (44 Punjab now 4 Sindh), saved Pakistan when “the barbarians were at the gate” in Chhor and Umerkot on Dec 12, 1971. Taj was symbolic of many brave officers who went up and down the line in the Thar Desert exhorting the rank and file, the line held. It was touch and go for a couple of days! Later, no one did more than Lt Gen Lehrasab Khan as Commander 5 Corps for improving our defences in the area but even his soldierly persistence did not succeed penetrating military obduracy to get the resources in men and material required for the Chhor-Badin-Sujawal area. Kayani must ensure that this time around we have enough in the Thar Desert and the adjacent coast. Our existence is a zero-sum situation; can we afford to take chances?

These are issues that the political elite of the country is not aware of. In fact, with the lack of any organized research and analysis activities within the Pakistani political parties, it is no wonder that we see many Pakistani politicians and parties conducting their own private ‘foreign policies’ with outside powers.

The Pakistani military, while rightfully keeping a distance from domestic politics, has to make a temporary break and involve the political elite in an issue that concerns external threats facing Pakistan. The military will need this channel in the future, in case of a foreign imposed war, to urge the politicians to be able to explain the Pakistanis why Pakistan has to take unusual steps to protect the nation.

© 2007-2008. All rights reserved.

Cold-starting Pakistan

Cold-starting Pakistan

Thursday, January 22, 2009
By Ikram Sehgal
“Cold Start” is the Indian military doctrine meant to allow rapid deployment Special Forces units “to strike Pakistan within hours of any terrorist attack on Indian soil. It assumes that militants from Pakistan, and not home grown Indian radicals, are responsible for any actions”. Such a rapid response would not allow time for diplomacy, Stephen Cohen, who helped India in the formulation process, maintains “cold start” was developed with the help of external strategists, borrowing heavily from Israeli tactics, notably from the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

The assumptions of the new Indian Doctrine are: (1) to act offensively against Pakistan for any perceived acts of strategic destabilisation of India, proxy war and terrorism (2) move away from India’s defensive mindset of last 50 years (3) prepare to undertake offensive military operations at the outset (4) undertake offensive operations short of the nuclear threshold (5) vast majority of Indian public will support any war putting Pakistan into place and forces it “to desist from proxy war and terrorism against India.”

Pakistan’s assumptions about cold start are: (1) offensive operations commencing without giving Pakistan time to bring diplomacy into play and (2) such offensive operations will not cross the nuclear threshold or prompt Pakistan into crossing it. India implies that, should Pakistan opt for crossing the threshold, the onus would lie squarely on Pakistan. The assumptions by New Delhi are dangerous: (1) the ability to hold limited portions of Pakistan with military might and (2) use this for political leverage against Pakistan. Holding of Pakistani territory will be unacceptable, triggering a ground war as well as a possible nuclear exchange.

Exercise Vajra Shakti further developed the cold start doctrine. “Against the backdrop of a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare threat from Pakistan, Special Forces were employed in pre-emptive strikes for furtherance of offensive operations by a Pivot Corps employing an infantry division, armoured regiments and an independent mechanised brigade from its own resources. Envisaging swift, day and night operations, offensive strikes were supported by advanced C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence) network and systems, including establishment of a Force Multiplication Command Post for integration and flow of real-time information to combat units, collected by satellites, UAVs, aerial reconnaissance, radar networks, communication intercepts etc. Digital photographs of “the enemy areas” were transmitted real time to forward combat units, facilitating speedy decision-making by Commanders, the commencement of network-centric warfare in the Indian Army. Information-dominance of the battlefield was practiced by use of electronic warfare systems. The Indian Aerospace Force (IAF) role was paramount, providing 130 sorties for this Exercise in reconnaissance, fighter aircraft strikes, attack helicopter and Special Forces operations. “With lessons learnt in Ex Vajra Shakti, the other pivot corps of the Indian Army were similarly exercised.”

Rumours are afloat about a game plan where India will conduct surgical strikes against “known” terrorist camps, and Pakistan will helpfully turn the other cheek. Our rather helpless response to daily “Predator” attacks, bluster rather than any substance, has given weight to this belief. Bob Woodward’s book “Bush at War” describes how, agonising over how to convince Pakistan, the US hierarchy was nonplussed by Pervez Musharraf’s “ready and willing” acceptance of all seven US demands without even a murmur. Was diplomatic pressure recently brought on Pakistan to fall in line in the “supreme” interest of the “war against terrorism,” the logic being that since only “terrorist” targets were to be engaged this was in “Pakistan’s interest”? Wonder of wonders, for once we did not roll over and play dead! Our rulers probably calculated that the people of Pakistan would give them short shift.

Initiating preliminary actions of their “Cold Start” Doctrine, the IAF was geared into a “first strike” mode. Picked up by our intelligence, the PAF responded by a “show of force” on “high alert.” A dense fog then engulfed most areas of the likely military options. During this time-lag some strategic reserves were extricated from FATA and rushed eastwards, that “window of opportunity” for India passed. Mere coincidence that three Strike Corps are in “winter collective exercise” mode in the Rajasthan Desert? That too carrying their first- and second-line ammunition? Movement of their Amphibious Brigade and dumping of fuel for forward deployment of troop-lifting helicopters has also been detected.

Pakistan’s history is replete with strategic blunders of monumental stupidity, we have only been saved by tactical successes achieved by the great sacrifices and outstanding bravery of our soldiers, sailors and airmen, those who have actually taken part in action, and not just talked about it. Some morons thought up the “Defence of the East lies in the West,” and we left East Pakistan defenceless. Subsequently some more morons came up with the “Afghanistan gives us strategic depth” concept and we are now in trouble up to our eyeballs on our western borders. Those who think that “the defence of the South lies in the North,” i.e., putting the bulk of our Armed Forces protecting our main population centres and communication in the Punjab and AK, may be theoretically correct in a long-drawn-out war, in the short Indo-Pak version it is stupid, monumentally stupid, particularly in the face of the known Indian deployment.

To quote my article on the 2002 crisis, “Talk of a limited Indian offensive across the LoC in “hot pursuit” or the targeting of Mujahideen training camps in Azad Kashmir means to contain the battleground to Kashmir, the premise being that all the other Strike Corps are then positioned to go on the offensive if Pakistan does not opt for limited war and goes on an all-out offensive. With all 3 Armoured Divisions and 4 RAPID Divisions, with 2 out of 5 Independent Armoured Brigades concentrated in Rajasthan, the resource allocation makes the offensive targets obvious, either along the Jaisalmer-Rahimyar Khan axis or along the Barmer-Mirpurkhas axis. No ground offensive being possible in the desert without heavy air cover, their air deployment suggests that the focus of attack could well be in the deep south (Western and Southern Commands), the same principle applying for a combined heliborne, para and/or amphibious operation. Both the Indian Strike Corps have been reinforced with additional Divisions with integral Helicopter Attack Squadrons, Engineer, Artillery and Air Defence Brigades. Jodhpur has a concentration of heavylift MI-8/M-17 helicopters, could be supplemented by the 50th Independent Parachute Brigade air-lifted by AN-32s from Agra, attempting helicopter troop transportation/amphibious LST landings with XXI Strike Corps going for a link-up. The Indians have been practicing this. The area between Badin and Sajawal east of the Indus thus becomes vulnerable.”

My recent article was based on their 2002 ORBAT, a number of my friends corrected me that this was outdated, the Indians had restructured their ORBAT in 2005. Not surprisingly, the “South-Western Command” was created at Jaipur, in line with the IAF’s existing South-Western Command. Western Command has an additional 9 Corps created at Yo1 and RAPID Divisions have increased from 4 to 5, all concentrated in the Rajasthan Desert. Furthermore a new Artillery Division has been raised. Their likely main thrust remains the deep South Barmer-Mirpurkhas axis with secondary effort in the Jaisalmer-Rahimyarkhan area. The “COLD START” Doctrine is in keeping with the likely fulcrum of their offensive.

As night turns into day, the Indians will put their main effort in the deep South. 18 Div was almost overwhelmed in 1971. Two brigades of 33 Div were force-marched from the Rahimyarkhan area to stem the rot. Only the outstanding courage of individual unit commanders like Lt Col (later Brig) Mohammad Taj, S J & Bar (44 Punjab now 4 Sindh), saved Pakistan when “the barbarians were at the gate” in Chhor and Umerkot on Dec 12, 1971. Taj was symbolic of many brave officers who went up and down the line in the Thar Desert exhorting the rank and file, the line held. It was touch and go for a couple of days! Later, no one did more than Lt Gen Lehrasab Khan as Commmander 5 Corps for improving our defences in the area but even his soldierly persistence did not succeed penetrating military obduracy to get the resources in men and material required for the Chhor-Badin-Sujawal area. Kayani must ensure that this time around we have enough in the Thar Desert and the adjacent coast. Our existence is a zero-sum situation, can we afford to take chances?

The writer is a defence and political

analyst. Email: