Economic Hitmen Prepare the Pakistani Battlefield

AF-PAK: THE NEW STRATEGY

By Brig Samson S Sharaf

We as Pakistanis should be in awe of the fact that US defence contracts have already floated a bid for increased jet fuel in Afghanistan till 2013, with the condition that it must not come through Pakistan. Does this imply that Pakistan may be under US attack from Bagram in 2012-13? Or does it mean that Pakistan would have plummeted to anarchy by that time.

Much before General Stanley McChrystal had resigned, ‘Obama’s Third Surge’ had already petered into nothingness. The operations failed to create intended effects in a highly destabilized, charged and violent region. McChrystal, the highly decorated specialist in covert operations and assassination squads of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) may have been brilliant and brutal tactical hit man, but a strategic failure nonetheless.

His resignation has come as no surprise to analysts following the tug of war between the US Defence and Political Establishment and how the third surge was identically conducted at the heels of the failed second surge. In both failed operations, CENTCOM conspicuously avoided Kandhar but why?

In my article, ‘The Wilting Obama Surge’ in the Nation, I had identified the fault lines within the US establishment. Even the UN envoy in Afghanistan had called it too military driven and doomed to failure. Nothing had worked as per the plan; neither the carrot, nor the stick nor stacks of cash for the breakaway Taliban. The contradictory statements of Gates, Halbrooke and the local military command spelled it all. The foreign press corps in Kabul, obscure from reality was making big news. Media was bubbling with optimism while efforts were at hand to find a scapegoat if the good news turned sour. This scapegoat is now General Stanley McChrystal.

It was indeed at the heels of this failure that USA decided to co-opt Pakistan in the Strategic Dialogue diplomacy. In a typical US media hype, much was made of the prowess of General Kayani as a brilliant military commander with an equally sharp eye on the long term vision. A leading Indian newspaper took the lead in portraying him as the man who was in charge. Guns and Roses were offered to win over Pakistan’s military establishment towards a US driven operation in the region.  The entire political establishment of Pakistan was eclipsed. There may have been some tactical compromises, but as events proved, Pakistan resisted the trap. US could not have its way and a new strategy became inevitable. Time for a new plan had come.

This change of heart also caused a furore amongst the ‘Shock and Awe’ rightist who singled out Pakistan as part of the problem (Lisa and Nicholas). This same right saw McChyrstal as an upholder of US Absolutism and a Bush Strategy downgraded by the Democrats. It also set the template of the future US election debate between the Democrats and the Republicans.

Writing on Obama’s Third Surge, I had cautioned,

“The new AF-PAK strategy is a compromise with enough blank space for narratives to be filled later. It is these blank narratives that cause concern… What lies undisclosed is high intensity sting and covert intelligence operations conducted by CIA and the dreaded JSOC. The message is unambiguous. Pakistan will have to face a surge of expanded drone attacks (settled urban areas) by both JSOC and CIA, and a cruel spate of covertly sanctioned illegal assassinations, sting operations and anarchy generated by contractors with leaks capable of breaking hell in Pakistan”.

As an analyst, my biggest concern is to identify the blank spaces in the narratives that need to be filled in after the change of command in Afghanistan and what USA terms AF-PAK. This is a moot to be contended between the Pentagon and the White House in the coming months. In the interim, all ongoing operations in Afghanistan will lose their momentum and the operational pause give a much needed respite to the Afghan resistance to recoup and reorganise. The pause is also a blessing for Pakistan to put its house in order. However, given the ground realities, Pakistan’s politicians will continue to display their insensitivity to national sensibilities and allow the country to drift with only the military calling shots and determining the course of future events.

Much is also being made of the COIN Strategy cited as success in Iraq. Apparently this strategy had a socio economic pincer at the leading edge with dollars being used to buy off Sunni Muslims against hardcore militants linked to Al Qaida. Total economic destruction of Iraq had led to extreme poverty that was later exploited to trade loyalties for bread. This was a controversial US counter insurgency doctrine called COIN devised and implemented by U.S. Central Command Chief David Petraeus in Iraq.

Premised on ‘money talks’ all future operations in AF- PAK will witness a surge of monetary kickbacks as a corner stone to other factors related to combat, overt and covert violence, expanded role of drones (settled urban areas) and terrorising tactics in urban areas. A failing Pakistani economy is mandatory to the success of this strategy.

It is with this reason that my last ten articles on these pages have primarily focussed on the intrinsic link between the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s political economy. The focus of the primary threat to Pakistan shifted long ago from India to bad policy making and bad governance from within. In the worst case scenario, by the time US stabilises in Afghanistan, Pakistan would be a state vulnerable to a COIN Strategy.

Though the modality and command may have changed, we Pakistanis must realise that the American long, mid and short term designs and objectives in the region have not. This should also dispel any illusions that some Pakistanis may have on the benefits of the Pakistan-US Equation as a saviour.

We should rather be in awe of the fact that US defence contracts have already floated a bid for increased jet fuel in Afghanistan till 2013, with the condition that it must not come through Pakistan. Does this imply that Pakistan may be under US attack from Bagram in 2012-13? Or does it mean that Pakistan would have plummeted to anarchy by that time. Supply of jet fuel would start in 2011 about the time when new US operations would be peaking in the region.

Afghanistan is a country whose economy thrives in times of conflict. Already USA is indirectly funding the war against itself through its local contractors and efforts to buy off revolutionaries. The COIN may buy off the war lords but never the romantic revolutionaries. To the contrary, money is endemic to Pakistani Politics. It works wonders especially when it will be funnelled through methods that promote corruption and a black economy.

Under the new command, the next phase of US operations is not likely to commence before September 2010. This also coincides with the time when Pakistan army will be looking forward to a new military chief. Speculative options on the continuity of General Kayani as COAS are rife and so is the rumour and manipulation mill. Hence all rumours must be put to rest so that the military and country can concentrate on the US operations in the Kandhar region and its backwash on Balochistan in particular.

As an appropriate measure, the nation must agree to eat grass, least for the survival of its crowned jewels rather for its own national honour and pride.

If this preparation does not take place before the new surge, Pakistanis will have no option left but to look for a new social contract. I pray it comes peacefully and not through violence.

Brigadier (R) Samson Simon Sharaf retired from Pak Army in 2005. He is an infantry officer with considerable international exposure speaking at seminars and universities. He served for a long time in the Operations Branch of GHQ with substantial contribution in Nuclear Policy Making. Ever since he began writing in 1997, his views have been consistent and mostly prophetic as can be seen in his series of articles in his blog and www.Opinion-Maker.Org

Balochistan govt threaten to cut water supply from Hub

Balochistan govt threaten to cut water supply from Hub

Upadated on: 05 Jul 10 01:57 PM
Staff Report

HUB: The Balochistan government has threatened to cut water supply from Hub to Karachi if it does not give its rightful share of water to Balochistan, said sources Monday.

Irrigation Minister Sardar Aslam Bizenjo said that Balochistan’s share of water from Sindh is 2400 cusecs, but it is only getting 1400 cusecs.

“The Sindh Irrigation Department had said that the shortage of water in Kirthar Canal will be overcome by July 1, but that has not happened yet,” said Bizenjo. “The situation is worsening every day.”

He also said that agriculture is already on the road to destruction due to load shedding. The Sindh government is only adding to their woes.

“If Sindh does not give Balochistan its share of water from Kirthar canal, then it will cut off the water supply from Hub to Karachi,” he said. “The Sindh government will be responsible for the consequences.”

He also pointed out that Sindh government has not paid Rs 30 billion worth of outstanding bills to Hub dam either. SAMAA

Punjab to swoop on 17 banned outfits

Punjab to swoop on 17 banned outfits


Monitoring Report

RAWALPINDI: The Punjab Home Department has set up task forces comprising police officials at the district level to crack down against 17 banned organisations following the suicide attacks at the Data Darbar in Lahore.

The task forces will comprise officials from the CID, the Special Branch and the Anti-Terrorism Squad. They have also been advised to establish close contacts with intelligence officers in the districts to exchange information with regard to 17 banned organisations.

An official of the Punjab Home Department told the BBC Urdu Service that orders had been issued to launch crackdowns on secret hideouts of banned outfits and arrest those connected with them immediately.

The task forces have been asked to trace out those who had been financing the banned organisations and their other funding sources and take action under the Anti-Terrorist Act. Headed by District Police Officers (DPOs), the task forces will submit their reports to the Punjab Home Department.

The 17 outfits, which were banned by the Home Department, Punjab, include Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah Sahaba Pakistan, Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Tehrik-e-Jafriya Pakistan, Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi, Millat-e-Islamiya Pakistan, Khudamul Islam, Islami Tehrik Pakistan, Hizb-ut-Tehrir, Jamiat-ul-Ansar, Jamiat-ul-Furqan, Khair-un-Naas International Trust, Islamic Students Movement (ISM), Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Jamaat-ud-Daawa.

Besides, the Sunni Tehrik has been placed under observation. Among the banned outfits, nine belong to the Deobandi sect, three to Shia sect and three belong to the Ahle Hadith. The BLA is a nationalist organisation, while the ISM is a students’ organisation.

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is not included in the list issued by the Punjab government while according to Interior Minister Rehman Malik,the TTP and al-Qaeda, in collaboration with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba, were active in other parts of the country, especially in the Punjab.

A cold war is underway between the federal Interior Ministry and the Punjab government due to the failure of the organisation working under the ministry in providing information about the activities of the extremist organisations and both are accusing each other in this regard.

According to an official of the Punjab Home Department, the departments working under the Interior Ministry do not give any specific information about the possible extremist acts. He said the ministries usually provided general information about a possible extremist act in a city and specific information was very rarely imparted.

Concerning suicide attacks at the Data Darbar, the provincial Home Department said that it had not received any information in this regard from the federal Interior Ministry while the federal Interior Ministry said that it had issued a warning letter two days before the incident in which it was conveyed that the terrorists could target Imambargahs or the shrines in the province.

It is pertinent to mention that about 4,000 persons were kept under surveillance for their alleged links with the extremist organisations under the Anti-Terrorist Act Schedule-4 and these people were bound to inform their respective police stations about their movement.

‘Chinese Islamic militants setting up bases in Pakistan’

‘Chinese Islamic militants setting up bases in Pakistan’

K J M Varma

Beijing, Jul 5 (PTI) An increasing number of militants of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement fighting for separation of China’s Muslim majority Xinjiang province were “fleeing to Pakistan and settling down there for future plots,” a state-run newspaper reported today.

“According to latest reports, the ETIM has been in close collaboration with the Taliban and Osama bin Laden,” the China Daily said in its lead story on the first anniversary of the bloody riots in Xinjiang capital Urumqi in which an estimated 200 people were killed.

It said an ETIM leader is also reported to be hiding in Pakistan and there are also reports of a “Chinese battalion” made up of about 320 ETIM members in the Taliban forces.

It said a number of ETIM fighters were “fleeing to Pakistan and settling down there for future plots”.

“It is not hard for them (ETIM members) to hide in Pakistan.

USS Harry S. Truman Specially Certified To Repel Iranian-Type Attacks

[This is a sobering report, considering the situation that the US and Israel have created in the Persian Gulf, to support the planned fuel embargo of Iran.  In addition, we learn from a Navy source that an amphibious carrier group (Nassau Amphibious Ready Group–NAS ARG) has joined the ships now setting-up the picket line in the Gulf.

(July, 15 2009) A RIM-7P NATO Sea Sparrow missile is launched from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman is underway in the Atlantic Ocean conducting carrier qualifications.

Truman Fires Missiles, Certifies Air Defenses


UNITED STATES – 15 JULY 2009

USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, at sea (NNS) — The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) successfully completed a NATO Sea Sparrow Missile exercise at sea July 15 to certify that the ship’s missile system is sufficiently capable of warding off certain types of threats.

Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW) Harold Vernon said the exercise included two parts: the first being to hit an air target and the other to hit a surface target. 

To simulate protecting the ship from an aerial threat, Sailors employed two drones, which approached the ship in a stream-raid flight pattern. On board Truman a missile was fired to intercept the drones, hitting both targets.

Another missile was fired to intercept a surface target the size of a sail boat moving at 10 knots. The purpose was to test a new camera sensor installed on the NATO Sea Sparrow launcher.

The cameras are designed to give improved range and the ability to visually identify any surface crafts in the area, said Vernon.

Sailors on board Truman endured a lot of hard work and preparation to ensure a successful evolution. 

“It took approximately 70 hours of preparation from four NATO technicians and combat systems (CS-7) division in support to get this program done,” said Vernon. “They have been preparing for this missile shoot for the last month.”

“Teamwork is essential,” said Fire Controlman 2nd Class (SW) Clifford Maass. “There are certain steps in loading the missiles that require at least three people at a time. The whole evolution takes six people on deck to complete, and each person is vital.”

Safety was also an important issue in the missile exercise. 

“We all have our ammo handling physical qualification, and we have to get ammo handling qualified, which gets done with the ordnance handling officer,” said Maass. “Once we are all qualified, we actually go to schools in Dam Neck, Va., to qualify ourselves on shore before we are allowed to do this on a ship.”

USS Harry S. Truman is currently conducting work-up evolutions in preparation for deployment later this year. With the recent completion of composite training unit exercise, Truman and its attached battle group are nearing certification as the Navy’s ready deployable carrier strike group.

(July, 15 2009) A RIM-7P NATO Sea Sparrow missile is launched from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman is underway in the Atlantic Ocean conducting carrier qualifications.