The Holbrooke Payback

The Holbrooke Payback

Examples of this type of blackmail are rampant in the seven years of bad experience that Pakistan has had with the U.S. in Afghanistan.

By Ahmed Quraishi

Wednesday, 15 April 2009.

WWW.AHMEDQURAISHI.COM

Holbrooke Bulldozed?

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—We knew there will be consequences. But not this fast. Pakistan stood firm as it received Mr. Holbrooke and Adm. Mullen last week. The payback, it appears, came in swift succession: Balochistan erupted in violence, and America’s B-team – Britain and India – chipped in to unsettled Pakistan’s weak rulers:  Britain suddenly discovered a “very big” terrorist plot involving two dozen Pakistani students, and India claimed the Afghan Taliban were planning to sabotage Indian elections.

We in Pakistan have been seeing this pattern over the past seven years of our Afghan occupation alliance with Washington that we can now detect it with a naked eye. As always, the usual suspects are putting Pakistan on the defensive on issues on which they can furnish no evidence.

Washington can offer no evidence that OBL is in Balochistan [more on Balochistan in a moment]. The Brits can offer no evidence linking Pakistani students to what a British policeman described as a “very big” terrorist plot. Since there is no evidence, Britain has decided to arbitrarily deport the kids because British courts won’t be convinced and the plot theory won’t stick. And there is no way that Indian Premier Manmohan Singh’s election campaign firecracker about a Taliban attack on India can be verified or proven.

What is definite, however, is that the dramatic British and Indian claims came on the heels of Mr. Holbrooke’s bumpy visit to Pakistan and served no purpose – in the absence of evidence – except to increase pressure on Pakistan. Islamabad has asked London and New Delhi for evidence. In case adequate proof is not furnished, Prime Minister Gilani’s government should not hesitate in asking Washington to restrain itself and its regional watchdogs from deliberate demonization campaigns against Pakistan that arise every time someone here tries to show some spine. Examples of this type of blackmail are rampant in the seven years of bad experience that Pakistan has had with the U.S. in Afghanistan.

Balochistan is an example of this blackmail, a Pakistani province that is in the throes of a terrorist insurgency, remote-controlled from Afghanistan. The ugly murder of three Pakistani Baloch political activists and then the immediate reaction by the U.S. embassy, which appeared to complicate an already explosive situation, are intriguing to say the least.

Two Indian assets: Brahamdagh Bugti & Balaach Marri. Marri

died in an ambush in 2007 while crossing from Afghanistan to

Pakistan after meeting his sponsors there.

John Solecki, an American citizen and U.N. official, was kidnapped by terrorists trained and financed by Brahamdagh Bugti who was last sighted in Kabul. Indian ‘diplomats’ in the Afghan capital are some of his most frequent visitors. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad knows very well about Mr. Bugti’s activities. So do senior U.S. officials since Pakistan did share startling information with them on this subject. Mr. Bugti, a Pakistani citizen, enjoys Indian and Afghan safe houses provided by elements in the Karzai government in return for helping recruit young Pakistanis to wage war against their own country exploiting legitimate grievances. The three murdered activists were in contact with all parties including Pakistani security officials during the effort to secure the American’s release. Pakistani intelligence agencies do not gain anything from kidnapping the three, killing them and then throwing the bodies in full public view.  If anything, the murder of the three activists was designed to create forward motion for the terrorist insurgency and put the Pakistani government in the dock.  Contrary to the anti-state propaganda that seeks to exploit this incident, information suggests that the three activists became privy to a lot of information about the captors and their chain of links outside Pakistan. The contacts that developed between the three activists and Pakistani security officials during the negotiations apparently unnerved the shadowy captors.  Multiple parties benefited from the murder of the three politicians and our security agencies are the least of these beneficiaries.

This is why the calls by some opportunists for a U.N. investigation are malicious to say the least. And equally reprehensible is the statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad on Apr. 9 that appeared to provoke the inflamed sentiments and pour fuel on fire. For Islamabad to allow such naked displays of challenge to its authority sends a message of weakness and invites more outside interference.

This whole regional dynamic can be traced to a core issue: Pakistan’s right to decide its national interest. For the United States to mislead Pakistan after 9/11 and turn the Afghan soil over to anti-Pakistan players in the region is not what we signed up for. It is preposterous for Washington to unleash a media campaign that portrays Pakistan and its intelligence operatives as supporters of extremism.  National institutions are not purveyors of any ideology. They simply protect the nation’s interest using multiple tools. Imagine us in Pakistan launching a media campaign to expose how the CIA funded and armed Nicaragua’s rightwing Contra rebels in advanced terrorism tactics in the 1980s. Or how the U.S. proxy, the Unita rebels in Angola, planted landmines whose victims’ count today begins at 15,000 amputees.

The only way forward is for Washington to mind its Pakistani ally’s interests as it consolidates its own position in the region. Pakistan will not submit to Indian regional hegemony simply because that suits U.S. interests in this point in time.

© 2007-2009. All rights reserved. The News International & AhmedQuraishi.com & PakNationalists

Suspected US Drone Hits Pakistan Militant Camp – 3 Dead

Suspected US Drone Hits Pakistan Militant Camp – 3 Dead


19 April 2009

Pakistani officials say three people were killed and five wounded when missiles fired from a suspected U.S. drone targeted a militant stronghold in northwest Pakistan’s South Waziristan region Sunday.

[insert caption here]

South Waziristan is known as a stronghold for Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, who is accused of orchestrating the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

The drone strike came a day after a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a military convoy at a security checkpoint in the northwest, killing 25 soldiers and police and two passers-by.

The authorities say another 62 security personnel and three civilians were wounded in the attack Saturday near the town of Hangu in North West Frontier Province.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was retaliation for U.S. drone attacks.  Taliban commander Hakeemullah Mehsud said militants will continue suicide attacks if the drone strikes do not stop.

Both Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani issued statements condemning the attack.  Mr. Zardari vowed to root out terrorism and extremism from the country.

Northwest Pakistan has experienced a surge of militant attacks by Taliban fighters and other Islamic groups.  Attacks also have been carried out in other parts of Pakistan, including the capital, Islamabad, and the commercial center, Karachi.

Balochistan’s Unaddressed Grievances

THIS LIST OF PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS COULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN IN WAZIRISTAN OR BAJAUR.

Balochistan’s Unaddressed Grievances

By Rahil Yasin

19 April, 2009
Countercurrents.org

Normalcy returns to Balochistan. The latest wave of violence erupted in strategically important and resource-rich province of Balochistan after the killing of three leaders of Balochistan National Party (BNP), a nationalist political party which believes in national right of autonomy for Balochistan through a peaceful and democratic struggle.

The brutal slaying of these nationalist leaders proved to be another addition in the long list of grievances suffered by the Baloch people. The incident will also be helpful in scratching the past wounds like Gen Musharraf’s army operation, the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, Nawabzada Balaach Marri, and the disappearance of hundreds of civilians etc.

Among the many grievances expressed by the Baloch nationalists, the most persistent and long-standing has been that the resources, including coal as well as gas, have been exploited by the central government without adequate compensation to the province. Poor handling of Balochistan issue by the past governments fed a sense of alienation in the minds of the Baloch.

Balochistan is a transit site for major proposed natural gas pipelines that would carry gas from either Iran or Turkmenistan to Pakistan and from there potentially to India. One of many obstacles to the implementation of these pipeline projects has been the threat of Baloch militant attacks to disrupt gas supplies.

Balochistan is the site of a major port facility and energy hub at Gwadar on the province’s coast. Gwadar is the terminus of a projected interstate transport corridor that is to link Pakistan by road, rail, air, and, to some extent, pipeline with both China’s Xinjiang province and, via Afghanistan, with the energy-rich Central Asian Republics (CARs).

Baloch nationalists have complained that the government has developed the port and corridor without consultation with, involvement of, or benefit to the Baloch people. The anger of Baloch nationalists has sometimes been directed against China, whose investment in the Gwadar project and in other Balochistan-based ventures has been substantial.

A number of Chinese nationals have been the target of five violent attacks in Pakistan in recent years, with three of these attacks taking place in Balochistan, two of which resulted in fatalities. And recently, the Baloch nationalists abducted UN official John Solecki asking the government to fulfill their demands in return of his release. But later, Mr Solecki was released with the help of the three deceased leaders. These acts of belligerence cannot be stopped unless the grievances of the Baloch are addressed completely and surely.

Baloch nationalist leaders insist they are not opposed to development but are against the exploitation of natural resources that do not benefit local communities. They also insist that the province, not the sardars or the centre, should be the main beneficiary of the income from Balochistan’s natural gas and other mineral resources.

Distribution of resources remains another matter of conflict between Balochistan and the centre. The National Finance Commission (NFC), the mechanism used by the centre to distribute federal grants to the provinces, is contentious because it is controlled by the federal government, and in the Balochistan context, because the main criterion for NFC awards is population. The award should be determined through consensus among the provinces and on an equitable basis. By revising the criteria to account for backwardness, level of development, geographic size and revenue levels of the provinces, the centre would remove at least one major bone of contention.

In a province that already has an excessive security presence, the government’s decision to establish new military cantonments has reinforced local perceptions of the Pakistani army as a ‘colonising force’.

The Baloch opposition has called for the removal of the Frontier Corps (FC) and its checkposts, an end to military operations, the return of the army to the barracks, the withdrawal of politically motivated cases and the release of political prisoners if peace is to be restored. The insurgency is unlikely to subside as long as the military relies on repression, killings, imprisonment, disappearances and torture to bend the Baloch to its will.

Many Baloch ruling provincial parliamentarians also support local ownership of development projects and agree with the opposition that military force will not solve the conflict.

To solve the Balochistan conflict, the federal government should review the checkposts manned by the Frontier Corps and the Coast Guards in interior Balochistan, removing those not needed; redirect the focus of both security agencies on border patrol and interdiction of arms and narcotics; train levies on the police pattern and provide the requisite logistics.

The federal government should halt construction of military cantonments until all major issues are resolved, increase royalties to the gas-producing districts of Balochistan, with the government paying arrears. It must ensure maximum provincial representation immediately on the boards of PPL, OGDC, and Sui Southern.

It is required that oil and gas companies invest 5 percent of total expenditures on social sector projects in consultation with public representatives; distribution companies should provide gas on a priority basis to the areas where it is produced.

The central government should allocate 7 per cent of the GPA’s gross revenue, other than federal levies, for Balochistan’s development, while giving locals employment preference, followed by people from Makran and then the rest of Balochistan; fishermen, displaced by the Gwadar project, must be reimbursed and relocated near the East or West Bays; address under-development in Gwadar, Quetta and Sui, facilitate social sector development province-wide, especially in health, housing and education, and make a one-time grant to improve the province’s medical infrastructure.

The federal government should make the development level and degree of backwardness the first criteria for NFC awards; strictly implement the 5.4 per cent employment quota for Baloch workers in all federal ministries, divisions, corporations and departments and consider special measures to compensate for the lack of recruitment of the Baloch into the armed forces and civil security forces; and create parity between the Baloch and Pashtuns in Balochistan in all spheres of life.

Rahil Yasin is a freelance columnist and independent researcher based in Lahore, Pakistan. He can be reached at rahil.yasin@gmail.com

Netanyahu Is Going To Be An Asshole

US Rejects Netanyahu’s Condition for Renewing Talks

Readers Number : 121

19/04/2009 The US State Department said during special envoy George Mitchell’s visits over the weekend to Ramallah and Cairo underlined that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people as a condition for renewing peace talks was unacceptable to the United States.

The State Department released statements saying that the United States would continue to promote a two-state solution. In Ramallah, Mitchell met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mitchell’s talks also seem to indicate that the United States does not accept Netanyahu’s position that the renewal of negotiations should be postponed until the Iranian nuclear threat is removed.

While Defense Minister and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak has not spoken publicly on the issue, his associates said Saturday he is obligated to the party platform, which supports the establishment of a Palestinian state. The platform does not mention Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people as a precondition for establishing a Palestinian state.

Barak also reportedly opposes linking the renewal of talks with the Iranian threat and supports a regional peace agreement that includes dealing with that threat.

The demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people was raised for the first time about 18 months ago in talks between Israel and the United States ahead of the Annapolis Conference. Then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni demanded that the conference’s closing statement mention a nation-state solution, a formulation meant to neutralize a Palestinian demand for refugees’ right of return.

However, the Bush administration accepted the Palestinian objection that the issue should be subject to negotiation. The PLO leadership also told the United States that it supported unequivocally the Saudi peace initiative that includes a clause in favor of a just and agreed-on solution to the refugee problem in keeping with U.N. Resolution 194.

That resolution calls for the right of refugees to return at the earliest practicable date and compensation for those who choose not to return. The Arab League meeting last month appended a comment to its closing statement that its initiative does not include the right of return for refugees.

PALESTINIAN REACTIONS
The Palestinian Authority and Hamas rejected over the weekend Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people as a precondition for resuming the stalled peace talks between the two sides.

Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state was “an admission by the Israeli prime minister that he cannot deliver on peace.” Erekat pointed out that the PLO had already recognized Israel’s right to exist when it signed the Oslo Accords, while Netanyahu was refusing to mention a Palestinian state.

Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official closely associated with Abbas, said on Saturday that the Palestinians would not return to the negotiating table until Netanyahu publicly accepted the two-state solution.
“This demand illustrates the racist nature of Israel and the extremist policies of its government. It also shows that Israel is not serious about making peace with its neighbors,” he said.
Ahmed also said that the PA would not resume the peace talks until Israel halted all settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Omar al-Ghul, an adviser to PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, said that Netanyahu’s demand was aimed at transferring the Palestinians to another country.
“No Palestinian leader can ever accept this demand even if the whole world recognizes Israel as a Jewish state,” he stressed.

Hamas also rejected the demand, calling it a “dangerous idea” and warning the PA leadership against accepting it.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that accepting the demand was tantamount to legitimizing the “radical terrorist Zionist entity.”
He said that the Palestinians and Arabs must respond to Netanyahu by suspending all forms of contact with the Israeli government, including security coordination between the PA and Israel.

In Cairo, Mitchell met on Saturday with President Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and reiterated the commitment of the Obama administration to the two-state solution.

The US envoy said that Egypt was vital for achieving peace in the region.

“We believe that a comprehensive Middle East peace is not only in the interest of the people of the Middle East, the Palestinians, and Israelis and Egyptians, but it is also in the national interest of the United States and people around the world,” he told reporters after the meeting.
Mitchell’s next stop in his Mideast tour is Saudi Arabia.

The price of moral cowardice

WORDS FROM ONE WHO UNDERSTANDS THE PRICE THAT PAKISTAN WILL SOON PAY FOR ITS BEING UNWILLING TO PAY THE SMALLER PRICE NOW OF RESISTANCE  TO THE AMERICAN/TALIBAN PLAN.  RESISTING THE TALIBAN IS RESISTING AMERICA, FOR WHAT ONE WANTS, THE OTHER WANTS THE SAME.

The price of moral cowardice

By Ardeshir Cowasjee

Pervert form of religion has been legally sanctified to terrorise the state: Ardesh Cowasjee. — APP

AUGUST 11, 1947, in the constituent assembly of Pakistan at Karachi: “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” — Founder and maker of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah. February 19, 1948, a broadcast to the people of Australia: “But make no mistake: Pakistan is not a theocracy or anything like it.” — Jinnah. Later in February 1948, a broadcast to the people of the US: “In any case, Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state — to be ruled by priests with a divine mission.” — Jinnah. Deliverance into the hands of the theocrats came a mere six months after the death of Jinnah, the delivery made by the man who had succeeded him as the leader of his nation. The Objectives Resolution was adopted on March 12, 1949 by the constituent assembly of Pakistan, proposed by the prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan. It clearly and unambiguously declared that religion had much to do with the business of the state. There could be no recovery, as history has proven over the past 60 years. Now, with the resolution passed in the National Assembly of Pakistan on April 13, 2009, a perverted form of religion has been legally sanctified to terrorise the state, to threaten the nation, to widen the already alarming internal divide, and to spread alarm and despondency amongst those who still had hope that one day the creed of Jinnah would prevail. The Nizam-i-Adl resolution, unanimously passed by the political parties present in the assembly on that disgraceful Monday in April is pure and simple appeasement by a weak government, by parties who have abandoned their principles, by other parties imbued with the bleakness of fundamentalism, all backed to the hilt by an army of over half a million men who were routed by a band of brainwashed terrorists. To those of us who remember our history the signing of the regulation by the president of the Republic is akin to Great Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s gesture on his return to London from Munich at the end of September 1938, when he waved a piece of paper in the air and declared that there would be “peace in our time,” thus setting in place preparations for a long and bloody war. Appeasement is, to put it mildly, a naïve policy denoting weakness. It is a yielding of compromise and sacrificial offerings. More bluntly, it is moral cowardice exhibited by pathetic men and women who offer concessions at the expense of others. Appeasement is doing deals with men who have insatiable territorial appetites with the wish to impose their own brand of false theological practices and beliefs. It is an indulgence in wishful thinking — peace in our time — at the price of surrender. But all was not lost. The Chaudhry of Chakwal, brave and true to himself, spoke up when all were silent. My friend and co-columnist Ayaz Amir salvaged some of the disgrace when he told his fellow parliamentarians just what is what when it comes to dealing with the Taliban, when it comes to giving in to them, and when it comes to appeasement. He was rightly harsh on the government for its moral cowardice, and on the army in which he once served for having crumbled, for the abandonment of its pride. His warnings were valid, but have gone unheeded. He and the many whose heads are not in the sand are now at the mercy of a ragtag and bobble band of maniacal ‘students’ of a cruelly false religion. Reservations are many about the MQM. We cannot forget the early 1990s, nor May 12, 2007. The party cannot be absolved of its past sins and crimes and its ‘cult’ image is somewhat off-putting. But last Monday it went far to redeem itself when Farooq Sattar, minister of this government and parliamentary leader of the party rose, prior to Ayaz, and told the house that a wicked precedent was being set, that the passing of the resolution will embolden all the militant parties of the land — and they are more than sufficient unto the day — that democratic and parliamentary norms were being violated, and that this pernicious resolution may prove to be the last nail driven into Jinnah’s Pakistan. He then led his party members out of the house and later further addressed the press in the same tone. And that was it — just two went out on a limb, two out of the horde of parliamentarians, all of whom have vowed to uphold and honour the constitution of Pakistan, which constitution makes no provision for the passing of any such regulation as the Nizam-i-Adl, nor of the setting up in the country of a parallel judicial system, nor of ceding territory to dangerous fanatical outlaws. The party in power claims to be a secular party as does the ANP of which the less said the better. The PML-N does not openly admit to secularism, its chief not being that way inclined as we know from his attempted 15th Amendment, but it also does not lay claim to be motivated by militant fervour. Those who let down the nation most severely were all the women parliamentarians, the most affected, the prime targets of the Taliban. And where is ‘civil society’, where are the lawyers? They motor-marched for the independence of the judiciary. Why are they comatose when it comes to the imposition of a parallel judiciary by a supine parliament? The fearsome Muslim Khan of the Taliban may have threatened the lives of those who oppose the infamous Nizam-i-Adl, but there should be some, other than Ayaz Amir and the MQM, who can show a bit of spunk. The press, at least some portions of it, are doing their bit and speaking up and out. Where is everyone else? The army chief, Gen Ashfaq Kayani, went to the rescue of the government at Gujranwala in March, but now he and his army have succumbed to obscurantism. Now, only the US and the rest of the world can step in — we, in nuclear Pakistan, can do nothing but wait and see which way the cards fall. We, including the legislators, are all helpless, they by choice, we by default. Footnote: Karachi is already feeling the Taliban pinch. Co- educational schools in Defence, Clifton and Saddar areas are known to have received visits and been threatened if they do not change, others have been sent letters with the same message.arfc@cyber.net.pk

Taliban shoot US drone ‘informants’

Taliban shoot US drone ‘informants’

* US official dismisses video showing execution as propaganda

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: In a video released last week, the Taliban are seen shooting a 19-year-old after he confesses to planting small transmitter chips that guide CIA’s drones to their targets.

“I was given Rs 10,000 to drop chips wrapped in cigarette paper at Al Qaeda and Taliban houses,” he said. “If I was successful, I was told I would be given thousands of dollars … The money was good so I started throwing the chips all over. I knew people were dying because of what I was doing, but I needed the money.”

Propaganda: A US official talking to the NBC dismissed the video as “extremist propaganda”. The Taliban, meanwhile, believe they have busted most of the spy networks operated by the US and Pakistani militaries.

“We used to watch these planes, but had no idea they were chasing us and taking pictures of our activities,” said a Taliban commander in North Waziristan. “In the early days … our training camps were visible and people would come and go. We were not so concerned about the security of our locations, but that has all changed now. We [have] abandoned all our old camps and re-located to new places.”

The commander said 40 training camps had been moved because their friends in Afghanistan had tipped them off about planned US attacks.

The commander said that the Americans had then started paying Pakistani and Afghan citizens to identify their locations. “Finally, with the help of our sources in the Pakistani and Afghan intelligence agencies, we detained two Afghan tribesmen, who after five days of interrogation, confessed to spying for US forces in Afghanistan. They revealed other names and then we knew there were entire networks of spies operating in our areas,” he said. A government official said the Taliban had recently executed more than 100 alleged spies in North Waziristan.

The Fluttering Flag of Jehad: Book review

The Fluttering Flag of Jehad

By Amir Mir Mashal Books Lahore 2008 Pp306; Price Rs 700

Book review: Jihad goes on in Pakistan —by Khaled Ahmed

Amir Mir has developed into an informed commentator on the state of jihad with an uncomfortable inside track with those who are supposed to counter it in Pakistan. Of course jihad has unfortunately become another name for terrorism and those who have taken it out of the roster of the functions of the state and privatised it are to blame for this development.

Amir Mir was able to interview Benazir Bhutto just before she fell to the terrorism of Al Qaeda or whoever it was who assassinated her in December 2007. She thought Pervez Musharraf was secretly in league with the terrorists and had tried to kill her in Karachi in October 2007, and was sure he would get terrorists like Abdur Rehman Otho of Lashkar-e Jhangvi and Qari Saifullah Akhtar of Harkat Jihad Islami, protégés of the ISI, to do the job. She named Brigadier Ijaz Shah and Brigadier Riaz Chibb etc. in her final writings. She predicted her death and blamed it on the army; months later, Major General Faisal Alvi too predicted his own death at the hands of the army and was shot down in Islamabad.

Musharraf claimed that Benazir was killed by Baitullah Mehsud through his suicide-bombers whose minder was taped talking to him on the phone about the achievement. Evidence in place was destroyed by the establishment, and questions arising from her murder could not be answered although Al Qaeda was at first quoted in the press as having taken care of ‘the most precious American asset’ in the words of Mustafa Abu Yazid, the Al Qaeda commander in Afghanistan. Benazir had her moles inside the ISI (p.28); but Amir doesn’t accept that Baitullah Mehsud killed her and gives a convincing critique of the findings of Scotland Yard.

Now a lot of writers use inside information from the US government to claim that Musharraf was sympathetic to the Taliban as they fled from the US attack in 2001. Amir Mir tells us that Corps Commander Peshawar General Safdar Hussain, who signed the peace accord with Baitullah Mehsud at Sararogha near Wana in February 2005, had called him a soldier of peace even as Mehsud’s warriors shouted ‘Death to America’. Major General Faisal Alvi was to accuse some elements in the army high command of being on the side of the Taliban before his assassination in 2008. Baitullah rewarded General Hussain with 200 captured Pakistani troops in August 2007.

Benazir believed Qari Saifullah Akhtar was involved in the attempt on her life in Karachi in October 2007 (p.43). Qari was in prison for trying to kill Musharraf in 2004 and was sprung from there to do the job on Benazir. Musharraf was outraged when he got to know that an ISI protégé had tried to kill him from his safe haven in Dubai after fleeing from Afghanistan in 2001. Qari was special because he was rescued by the spooks after he was found involved in trying to stage a military coup in league with Islamist fanatic Major General Zaheerul Islam Abbasi in 1995. He along with his Harkat Jihad Islami was to become the favourite of the Taliban government.

The place to be mined for leadership talent was Karachi’s Banuri Mosque where the Qari and that other protégé Fazlur Rehman Khalil had received their Deobandi orientation. The third Banuri Mosque protégé of the state was Maulana Masud Azhar, who formed Jaish-e Muhammad and was rescued from an Indian jail together with Omar Sheikh, the man who later helped kill Daniel Pearl in Karachi. Qari was recalled from Dubai and kept in custody, and the Lahore High Court did not release him on a habeas corpus petition. But he was released quietly before Benazir arrived in Pakistan in October 2007 (p.45).

After Benazir named him in her posthumous book, Qari was arrested again in March 2008. The reaction came in the shape of a suicide attacks on the Naval War College and the FIA office in Lahore where Qari’s terrorists were being kept for interrogation into the War College attack (p.47). A Karachi terrorist court heard the case against Qari and freed him on bail because the proof with which the prosecution could have proved him guilty had ‘disappeared’. Later he was rearrested but then quietly released by the Home Department because the spooks wanted him freed (p.48).

Fazlur Rehman Khalil is another protected person who lives in Islamabad but governments hardly know what he has been saying to the American authors who visit him. When Islamabad got into trouble with its own clerics in Lal Masjid, it was Khalil who was taken out and made to negotiate with them (p.109). He is the sort of person who can some day get Pakistan into trouble after which Islamabad will have to say he has mysteriously left the country and cannot be produced. He is Osama bin Laden’s man and his Harkatul Mujahideen was prominent among the jihadi organisations in Kashmir and ran training camps for warriors in Dhamial just outside Rawalpindi, at least that is what an American suspect Hamid Hayat told the FBI after visiting it (p.108).

It is not only Dr AQ Khan whom Pakistan has to save from being kidnapped by the anti-proliferationist West, there is also Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, the top scientist who enriched uranium at Khushab and then conferred with Osama bin Laden about building a nuclear bomb when he was in Kabul looking after his charity organisation called Umma Tameer Nau (p.111). He is the crazy bearded man who once presented a paper to General Zia saying Pakistan could make electricity from jinns. He also thought he could use a nuclear bomb to clear up a silted Tarbela Dam. Daniel Pearl was on to him, but he got killed when he got close to another protected person.

The other person was Mubarak Shah Gilani, a scion of the great Sufi of Lahore, Mianmir, who actually controlled jinns and ran a jihadi organisation named Al Fuqra still alive and doing well in the UK’s Londonistan. He had recruited Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber terrorist who was caught before he could blow up an aircraft. Daniel Pearl had traced Mubarak Shah Gilani to Karachi and was going to interview him when he was tricked by Omar Sheikh into going with Lashkar-e Jhangvi gunmen who then handed him over to Khaled Sheikh Muhammad, who confessed at Guantanamo to personally beheading him (p.116). Omar Sheikh, who got involved in planning the 9/11 strike, was finally made to surrender after sheltering in home secretary and ex-ISI officer Ijaz Shah’s residence in Lahore for a week.

The book says on page 122 that the ISI chief General Mehmood was later investigated by FBI for sending $100,000 to plane hijacker Atta, who led the 9/11 strike on the World Trade Centre. The conduit for Mehmood was Omar Sheikh. The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Pearl’s paper, reported that an examination of Omar Sheikh’s telephone record showed him talking to General Mehmood, proving also that the money sent by General Mehmood through Omar Sheikh was funding for the New York strike (p.122). General Musharraf in his book reported, as if in rebuttal, that Omar Sheikh was first recruited by the British spy agency MI6.

The book also reports that the hijacking — done by Masood Azhar’s brother Abdul Rauf and brother-in-law Yusuf Azhar — of an Indian airliner that led to the release of Omar Sheikh and Masood Azhar from an Indian jail was linked to the ISI because its Quetta-based officers talked to the hijackers on the wireless set at Kandahar (p.128). Masood Azhar then went on to attack the Parliament in New Delhi in 2001, a month after 9/11. ISI chief Javed Ashraf Qazi on March 6, 2004 admitted that Jaish was involved in the New Delhi parliament assault (p.134). Later Jaish militants were to be housed in Lal Masjid during its siege by state troops in 2007 (p.141).

An interesting chapter is included on the infiltration of the Pakistani cricket team by the Tablighi Jama’at. As a result, the team under captain Inzamam-ul Haq lost its playing ability to its obsession with tabligh and conversion. Media manager PJ Mir accused the team of neglecting the game during the 2007 World Cup and spending all the time trying to convert the innocent people of the West Indies (p.204).

US to jam Taliban websites, radio links

US to jam Taliban websites, radio links

Sunday, April 19, 2009
WASHINGTON: The Obama administration is starting a broad effort in Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from using radio stations and websites to intimidate civilians and plan attacks, according to senior US officials.

As part of the classified effort, American military and intelligence personnel are working to jam the unlicensed radio stations in Pakistan’s lawless regions on the Afghanistan border that Taliban fighters use to broadcast threats and decrees, according to US influential daily WSJ.

US personnel are also trying to block the Pakistani chatrooms and websites that are part of the country’s burgeoning extremist underground. The websites frequently contain videos of attacks and inflammatory religious material that attempts to justify acts of violence.

The push takes the administration deeper into “psychological operations,” which attempt to influence how people see the US, its allies and its enemies. Officials involved with the new programme argue that psychological operations are a necessary part of reversing the deterioration of stability in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Taliban and other armed groups have carried out a wave of attacks in the two countries. US officials believe the Taliban enjoy an advantage by being able to freely communicate threats and decrees.

In Pakistan, Taliban leaders use unlicensed FM stations to recite the names of local Pakistani government officials, police officers and other figures who have been marked for death by the group. Hundreds of people named in the broadcasts have later been killed, according to US and Pakistani officials.

“The Taliban aren’t just winning the information war — we’re not even putting up that much of a fight,” said a senior US official in Afghanistan. “We need to make it harder for them to keep telling the population that they’re in control and can strike at any time.”

The new efforts were described by an array of US officials, several with firsthand knowledge of the technologies and tactics used to block the radio stations and websites. The Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Central Intelligence Agency declined to comment.

Psychological operations have long been a part of war, famously in World War II when “Tokyo Rose” broadcast English-language propaganda to Allied troops. More recently, some militaries have used high-tech methods. During the December-January war in Gaza, Israeli forces sent cellphone text messages to alert Palestinian civilians to impending strikes and encourage them to turn against the Hamas.

The Obama administration’s recently released strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan calls for sending 4,000 US military trainers to Afghanistan and sharply expanding economic aid to Pakistan. The US may also provide radio-jamming equipment to the Pakistani government, according to officials familiar with the plans.

The new push reflects the influence of Gen David Petraeus, who runs the military’s Central Command and has long been a major proponent of using psychological operations to reduce popular support for militant groups.

Another supporter, Richard Holbrooke, the administration’s special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, publicly alluded to the new program late last month. He told reporters there were 150 illegal FM radio stations in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, which allowed militants to go “around every night broadcasting the names of people they’re going to behead or they’ve beheaded.”

Holbrooke likened the Taliban radio stations to Rwanda’s Radio Mille Collines, a virulently sectarian broadcaster widely believed to have helped fuel the Rwandan genocide. The US considered jamming the station in the 1990s, but ultimately chose not to.

“Nothing has been done so far” about impeding the Taliban communications, Holbrooke said. “We have identified the information issue … as a major, major gap to be filled.”

Psychological operations can be controversial. In Iraq, the Pentagon at one point ran a programme that paid Iraqi journalists to run articles and opinion pieces supportive of US war aims and the Iraqi central government. Critics called it government-funded propaganda, while the Bush administration defended the effort.

Henry A. Crumpton, a former State Department counterterrorism chief who led the CIA’s Afghanistan campaign in 2001 and 2002, warned against relying too heavily on high-tech solutions such as disrupting militant radio broadcasts. “Those can be very effective, but they’re — underscore — short-term tactics,” he said.

Still, many military officials believe that stabilising Afghanistan and Pakistan requires gradually diminishing the Taliban’s public standing while simultaneously building popular support for more moderate local political and religious institutions allied with the US.

“It’s not an issue of trying to persuade your average Pakistani farmer to love the US,” a US official said. “The idea, frankly, is to muddy the water a bit.”

As part of this push, the US has started US-funded radio stations in many rural parts of Afghanistan. In one example, Army Special Forces teams in eastern Paktia, a restive Afghan province that abuts the Pakistani frontier, put on air a radio station late last year called “the Voice of Chamkani,” referring to the village where the US base is located, and distributed hundreds of radio receivers.

According to an account in the current issue of “Special Warfare Magazine,” an Army publication on special operations, the US-run radio station has worked to build support for the Afghan national government by highlighting local development projects that were approved by Kabul.

Musharraf Approaches the Seat of Power

Musharraf arrives in Riyadh

RIYADH: Former president General (retd.) Pervez Musharraf arrived here on Sunday afternoon from Islamabad.

According to a Saudi news agency, Saudi Transport Minister Dr. Jabbara Al Siraiseri, Base Commander Lt. General Abdul Latif and other top officials greeted Musharraf at Riyadh military base.

Earlier, speaking to newsmen at Islamabad airport before leaving to Saudi Arabia, he said people should think about the future of Pakistan instead of bogging down in minor issues.

The former president persisted that 94 terrorists were killed in the Lal Masjid operation.

He denied that women or children were harmed in the operation.

Some elements interpret Holy Qur’an as they want: Altaf

Some elements interpret Holy Qur’an as they want: Altaf

KARACHI: Chief of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Altaf Hussain has said that some elements interpret and explain the Holy Qur’an the way they want and people who are not aware of actual explanation take it as correct.

In his telephonic address at a convention of Ulema and Mashaikh here on Sunday, the MQM Chief said the convention has been organized to discuss a very important subject which is becoming cause of problem of the oppressed population of the country.

“People are scared of the situation in Swat,” he said, adding, the purpose of the holding the convention is to get guidance and opinion of the Ulema.

He said use of Mosques for creating sectarianism is absolutely unjustified and wrong.

25 security personnel among 27 killed in Hangu attack

HANGU: Twenty-seven people were killed including 25 security personnel and scores others injured in a suicide attack at a security check post here on Saturday.
According to sources, the suicide bomber rammed his explosives laden vehicle into the security check post near Doaba Police Station, causing a loud blast which was heard in a wide radius.
DSP Hangu, Fareed Khan told Geo News that the security men when tried to stop a suspicious vehicle the suicide attacker driving it rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into the check post. The blast occurred

‘Copper Standard’ for the world’s currency system?

THE NEW "AMERO"?

THE NEW "AMERO"?

‘Copper Standard’ for the world’s currency system?

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Hard money enthusiasts have long watched for signs that China is
switching its foreign reserves from US Treasury bonds into gold bullion. They may have been eyeing the wrong metal.

China’s State Reserves Bureau (SRB) has instead been buying copper and other industrial metals over recent months on a scale that appears to go beyond the usual rebuilding of stocks for commercial reasons.

Nobu Su, head of Taiwan’s TMT group, which ships commodities to China, saidBeijing istrying to extricate itself from dollar dependency as fast as it can.

“China has woken up. The West is a black hole with all this money being printed. The Chinese are buying raw materials because it is a
much better way to use their $1.9 trillion of reserves. They get ten times the impact, and can cover their infrastructure for 50 years.”

“The next industrial revolution is going to be led by hybrid cars, and that needs copper. You can see the subtle way that China is moving into 30 or 40 countries with resources,” he said.

The SRB has also been accumulating aluminium, zinc, nickel, and rarer metals such as titanium, indium (thin-film technology), rhodium (catalytic converters) and praseodymium (glass).

While it makes sense for China to take advantage of last year’s commodity crash to restock cheaply, there is clearly more behind
the move. “They are definitely buying metals to diversify out of US
Treasuries and dollar holdings,” said Jim Lennon, head of commodities at Macquarie Bank.

John Reade, metals chief at UBS, said Beijing may have a made strategic decision to stockpile metal as an alternative to foreign
bonds. “We’re very surprised by Chinese demand. They are buying much more copper than they will need this year. If this is strategic, there may be no effective limit on the purchases as China’s pockets are deep.”

Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank governor, piqued the interest of metal buffs last month by calling for a world currency modelled on the “Bancor”, floated by John Maynard Keynes at Bretton Woods in 1944.

The Bancor was to be anchored on 30 commodities – a broader base than the Gold Standard, which had caused so much grief in the 1930s. Mr Zhou said such a currency would prevent the sort of “credit-based” excess that has brought the global finance to its knees.

If his thoughts reflect Communist Party thinking, it would explain the
bizarre moves in commodity markets over recent weeks. Copper prices have surged 49pc this year to $4,925 a tonne despite estimates
by the CRU copper group that world demand will fall 15pc to 20pc this year as construction wilts.

Analysts say “short covering” by funds betting on price falls has played a role. But the jump is largely due to Chinese imports, which reached a record 329,000 tonnes in February, and a further
375,000 tonnes in March. Chinese industrial demand cannot explain this. China has been badly hit by global recession. Its exports – almost half GDP – fell 17pc in March.

While Beijing’s fiscal stimulus package and credit expansion has helped lift demand, China faces a property downturn of its own. One government adviser warned this week that house prices could fall
50pc.

One thing is clear: Beijing suspects that the US Federal Reserve is
engineering a covert default on America’s debt by printing money. Premier Wen Jiabao issued a blunt warning last month that China was tiring of US bonds. “We have lent a huge amount of money to the US, so of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets,” he said.

The beauty of recycling China’s surplus into metals instead of US bonds is that it kills so many birds with one stone: it stops the yuan rising, without provoking complaints of currency manipulation by Washington; metals are easily stored in warehouses, unlike oil; the holdings are likely to rise in value over time since the earth’s crust is gradually depleting its accessible ores. Above all, such a policy safeguards China’s industrial revolution, while the West may one day face a supply crisis.

Beijing may yet buy gold as well, although it has not done so yet. The gold share of reserves has fallen to 1pc, far below the historic norm in Asia. But if a metal-based currency ever emerges to end the reign of fiat paper, it is just as likely to be a “Copper Standard” as a “Gold Standard”.

===

China Copper move may secure Cu supply but jeopardise US recovery

A recent article by Ambrose Evans-Prichard seems VERY significant (ie A ‘Copper Standard’ for the world’s currency system?)

It suggests that China is rapidly running down its $US foreign exchange holdings to buy huge quantities of strategic inputs to its production system. This is just confirming information that was already out there – see http://cpds. apana.org. au/Teams/ Articles/ china_as_ economic_ engine.htm# diversifying

If correct this means one of two things.

Firstly it may mean that China expects, and is moving to try to ensure, that the global financial crisis will result in a general breakdown in the global market economy. China may be ensuring access to the resources needed to manufacture (say) hybrid cars as Evan’s Prichard suggested – but, if a run on US Treasuries prevents the
US government from funding its stimulus / bank rescue packages and budget deficits which was already a risk, then there is going to be no real market demand for whatever China intends to manufacture
because there will be no economic recovery elsewhere for years.

Secondly it may mean that China has made a huge blunder which will be
written up in history books as one of the causes of the coming Great
Depression – because its commercial desire for profit has caused it to
ignore macroeconomic policy imperatives.

In either event it is likely that the whole economic and
geopolitical game is going to be changed.

Somalia declared ‘Islamic state’

PROBABLY NOWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD COULD WE FIND A MORE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THE AMERICAN PROCESS FOR CREATING FAILED STATES THAN THIS REPORT ON SOMALIA.  WHEN THE UNITED STATES HAS SUCCEEDED IN SO DESTROYING GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY IN A TARGETED COUNTRY OR REGION THAT THE PEOPLE BECOME DESPERATE FOR LAW AND ORDER OF ANY KIND, EVEN HARSH “SHARIAH LAW” (THE DISTORTED WAHABBI VERSION) BECOMES DESIRABLE, ESPECIALLY WITH ITS INSTANT FORM OF JUSTICE.  IT IS NO ACCIDENT THAT THE PEOPLE TURN TO THE “ISLAMISTS” AND THEIR BRAND OF SHARIAH IN REACTION TO AMERICAN-SPONSORED ATTACKS, IT IS THE REASON FOR THE ATTACKS, TO TURN THE PEOPLE TOWARD THE RADICAL RULERS THAT HAVE BEEN SO THOUGHTFULLY PLACED IN THE SEATS OF POWER.  AMERICAN PLANNERS WANT THEIR SAUDI FRIENDS TO ESTABLISH A CALIPHATE, SEATED IN MECCA, JUST AS THEIR WANT THEIR ISRAELI FRIENDS TO SIT ATOP A GLOBAL ZIONIST EMPIRE SEATED IN JERUSALEM.  BY HAVING A DIVIDED WORLD UNDER ONE COMMAND, THE STAGE IS SET FOR PERMANENT LIMITED GLOBAL WAR.
Somali unity government forces patrol the streets of the capital Mogadishu, April 18, 2009.

Somalia declared ‘Islamic state’

Sat, 18 Apr 2009
http://www.presstv. ir/detail. aspx?id=91833§ionid=351020501

Somali members of parliament have unanimously voted in
favor of the implementation of Islamic Sharia law in the Horn of Africa country.

In a morning session held Saturday in the Somali capital of Mogadishu,
the 343 members passed the motion officially making Somalia an Islamic state, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Deputy speaker of parliament Osman Elmi Boqore, who presided over the debates in the absence of speaker Aden Mohamed Nur, said none of the members had any objections to the new law.

“No one had objections about the motion……that automatically makes Somalia an Islamic state,” Boqore said.

The proposal suggested by Somali clerics was endorsed by the cabinet last month as a bargaining point between the newly-formed government in the lawless country and insurgents whose key demand has been the Islamic governance of the country.

Al-Shabaab fighters have already imposed the law in the areas of the war-torn country under their control.

In February, Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed urged
the implementation in a bid to stop violence in the country that has not enjoyed a functioning central government since 1991 when warlords toppled the regime of former President Mohammed Siad Bare.

Some strategists cast doubt on Afghan War rationale

Some strategists cast doubt on Afghan War rationale

By Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON (IPS) – The argument for deeper U.S. military commitment to the Afghan War invoked by President Barack Obama in his first major policy statement on Afghanistan and Pakistan Friday – that al Qaeda must be denied a safe haven in Afghanistan – has not been subjected to public debate in Washington.

U.S. Army Pvt. Antonio Macias, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army Europe, walks past a group of local boys while on a dismounted patrol mission near Forward Operating Base Baylough, Zabul, Afghanistan, March 17. Photo: Department of Defense

A few influential strategists here have been arguing, however, that this official rationale misstates the al Qaeda problem and ignores the serious risk that an escalating U.S. war poses to Pakistan.

Those strategists doubt that al Qaeda would seek to move into Afghanistan as long as they are ensconced in Pakistan and argue that escalating U.S. drone airstrikes or Special Operations raids on Taliban targets in Pakistan will actually strengthen radical jihadi groups in the country and weaken the Pakistani government’s ability to resist them.

The first military strategist to go on record with such a dissenting view on Afghanistan and Pakistan was Col. T. X. Hammes, a retired Marine officer and author of the 2004 book “The Sling and the Stone”, which argued that the U.S. military faces a new type of warfare which it would continue to lose if it did not radically reorient its thinking. He became more widely known as one of the first military officers to call in September 2006 for Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation over failures in Iraq.

Col. Hammes dissected the rationale for the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan in an article last September on the website of the “Small Wars Journal”, which specialises in counterinsurgency issues. He questioned the argument that Afghanistan had to be stabilised in order to deny al Qaeda a terrorist base there, because, “Unfortunately, al Qaeda has moved its forces and its bases into Pakistan.”

Hammes suggested that the Afghan War might actually undermine the tenuous stability of a Pakistani regime, thus making the al Qaeda threat far more serious. He complained that “neither candidate has even commented on how our actions [in Afghanistan] may be feeding Pakistan’s instability.”

Hammes, who has since joined the Institute for Defence Analysis, a Pentagon contractor, declined to comment on the Obama administration’s rationale for the Afghan War for this article.

Kenneth Pollack, the director of research at the Saban Centre for Middle East Policy of the Brookings Institution, has also expressed doubt about the official argument for escalation in Afghanistan. Pollack’s 2002 book, “The Threatening Storm,” was important in persuading opinion-makers in Washington to support the Bush administration’s use of U.S. military force against the Saddam Hussein regime, and he remains an enthusiastic supporter of the U.S. military presence in Iraq.

But at a Brookings forum Dec. 16, Pollack expressed serious doubts about the strategic rationale for committing the U.S. military to Afghanistan. Contrasting the case for war in Afghanistan with the one for war in Iraq in 2003, he said, it is “much harder to see the tie between Afghanistan and our vital interests.”

Like Hammes, Pollack argued that it is Pakistan, where al Qaeda’s leadership has flourished since being ejected from Afghanistan, which could clearly affect those vital interests. And additional U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Pollack pointed out, “are not going to solve the problems of Pakistan.”

Responding to a question about the possibility of U.S. attacks against Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan paralleling the U.S. efforts during the Vietnam War to clean out the Communist “sanctuaries” in Cambodia, Pollack expressed concern about that possibility. “The more we put the troops into Afghanistan,” said Pollack, “the more we are tempted to mount cross-border operations into Pakistan, exactly as we did in Vietnam.”

Pollack cast doubt on the use of either drone bombing attacks or Special Operations commando raids into Pakistan as an approach to dealing with the Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan. “The only way to do it is to mount a full-scale counterinsurgency campaign,” said Pollack, “which seems unlikely in the case of Pakistan.”

The concern raised by Hammes and Pollack about the war in Afghanistan spilling over into Pakistan paralleled concerns in the U.S. intelligence community about the effect on Pakistan of commando raids by U.S. Special Operations forces based in Afghanistan against targets inside Pakistan. In mid-August 2008, the National Intelligence Council presented to the White House the consensus view of the intelligence community that such Special Forces raids, which were then under consideration, could threaten the unity of the Pakistani military if continued long enough, as IPS reported Sep. 9.

Despite that warning, a commando raid was carried out on a target in South Waziristan Sep. 3, reportedly killing as many as 20 people, mostly apparently civilians. A Pentagon official told Army Times reporter Sean D. Naylor that the raid was in response to cross-border activities by Taliban allies with the complicity of the Pakistani military’s Frontier Corps.

Although that raid was supposed to be the beginning of a longer campaign, it was halted because of the virulence of the political backlash in Pakistan that followed, according to Naylor’s Sep. 29 report. The raid represented “a strategic miscalculation,” one U.S. official told Naylor. “We did not fully appreciate the vehemence of the Pakistani response.”

The Pakistani military sent a strong message to Washington by demonstrating that they were willing to close down U.S. supply routes through the Khyber Pass talking about shooting at U.S. helicopters.

The commando raids were put on hold for the time being, but the issue of resuming them was part of the Obama administration’s policy review. That aspect of the review has not been revealed.

Meanwhile airstrikes by drone aircraft in Pakistan have sharply increased in recent months, increasingly targeting Pashtun allies of the Taliban.

Last week, apparently anticipating one result of the policy review, the New York Times reported Obama and his national security advisers were considering expanding the strikes by drone aircraft from the Tribal areas of Northwest Pakistan to Quetta, Baluchistan, where top Taliban leaders are known to be located.

But Daniel Byman, a former CIA analyst and counter-terrorism policy specialist at Georgetown University, who has been research director on the Middle East at the RAND corporation, told the Times that, if drone attacks were expanded as is now being contemplated, al Qaeda and other jihadist organisations might move “farther and farther into Pakistan, into cities”.

Byman believes that would risk “weakening the government we want to bolster”, which he says is “already to some degree a house of cards.” The Times report suggested that some officials in the administration agree with Byman’s assessment.

The drone strikes are admitted by U.S. officials to be so unpopular with the Pakistani public that no Pakistani government can afford to appear to tolerate them, the Times reported.

But such dissenting views as those voiced by Hammes, Pollack and Byman are unknown on Capital Hill. At a hearing on Afghanistan before a subcommittee of the House Government Operations Committee Thursday, the four witnesses were all enthusiastic supporters of escalation, and the argument that U.S. troops must fight to prevent al Qaeda from getting a new sanctuary in Afghanistan never even came up for discussion.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006.