Pakistan is trying to derail a settlement in Afghanistan–(Russian press)

Pakistan is trying to derail a settlement in Afghanistan

B. Skosyrev
Secret meeting between representatives of the President of Afghanistan and the Taliban are under the supervision of the United States. Coalition troops being moved to Kabul from Pakistan to the negotiating parties. But Islamabad dismissed from behind the scenes contacts, trying to thwart. Pakistani intelligence kills Taliban leaders who are inclined to compromise with Karzai.

The commanders of the Taliban secretly leave their refuge on Pakistani soil and with the help of NATO forces arrive in Kabul and other Afghan cities to negotiate with the approximate Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Known for at least one case where Taliban leaders crossed the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and flown to Kabul for NATO plane, reports New York Times. Coalition commanders gave assurances the rebels that they would not be attacked or arrested, when will be located in areas controlled by NATO. The fact that Kabul, with the approval of the United States is negotiating with the leaders of the Taliban, “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” reported last week (see the room from 15/10/1910). But it seems that NATO is also providing the enemy vehicles. It also appears that the talks involving envoys shura (council) of the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Peshawar, as well as the Haqqani clan, which Western media outlets were among the most implacable enemies of America.

The names of persons involved in the negotiations with the rebels, officials in Washington interlocutors with the media, asked not to disclose. These people are in mortal danger. They can destroy the rival factions or the Taliban, Pakistani spies.

After negotiations are conducted without the consent of Pakistan. Karzai does not want Pakistan has received a great influence in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign troops. Therefore, Islamabad is trying to derail the talks. The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence hands of their Afghan agents had already destroyed several Taliban commanders, came into contact with the enemy.

In an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Vyacheslav Nekrasov, executive secretary of the Federation Council for Cooperation with the National Assembly of Afghanistan, said that the U.S. has learned: the opposition by armed force can not win. “The Taliban have no shortage of human resources. In place of the dead will come new fighters. This awareness came to the Americans belatedly. Soviet military leaders have begun to negotiate with the Mujahideen in early 80’s, that is, shortly after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Difficulties in reaching an agreement compounded by the fact that the resistance is fragmented. Supreme leader Mullah Omar has no control over the rebel troops. For ordinary fighters currently chief – their field commander, not leader of the movement.

Nevertheless, to find common ground with those Taliban who are involved in the negotiations difficult. After all, the Taliban does not recognize the Afghan Constitution and demands the withdrawal of foreign troops. How to avoid these conditions, it is not clear. ”

10.21.2010 / Vladimir Skosyrev

Tajikistan on the verge of political collapse

Tajikistan on the verge of political collapse

M. Immatshoev
Recent events, when 25 convicts escaped from prison of the State Committee on National Security in Dushanbe, the explosion at the building RUBOP in Khujand, the bombing of outposts in the mountains Ramitskogo gorge became links in a chain that will soon lead to the main purpose of all that happens – a revolution in Tajikistan.
Commenting on current events, Tajik authorities have all the forces trying to downplay the magnitude of what is happening, referring to the time, even the local nature of phenomena. However, with every passing day the situation gets worse, gunfire and explosions – today it is commonplace on the streets of towns and villages of the republic. Rejection of the realities of official Dushanbe put the country on the edge of a precipice, where any attack could be the last straw, and lead to disaster.

In contrast to the authorities, it is well understood by those who had for several years trying to destroy Tajikistan “inside” and “outside”, a source of instability in the region, and hence the “green corridor” for drug trafficking, weapons and terrorism. A simple axiom – the more destabilized situation in the country, the easier criminal elements, eliminating the formal power to usurp it. So now, everyone is sinking deeper into chaos. Step by step, planned attacks, shootings roadblocks, speeches opposition led to the main event – the coup d’etat.
Further, more interestingly, on the background of everything that happens suddenly, from somewhere created a new movement “psevdopolitikov”, which has proclaimed itself the people’s Movement of Democratic Forces.
The emergence on the political stage of this movement acted as a decisive factor in confirming that the republic is preparing a coup. Escape from prison, an explosion at the building RUBOP in Khujand, the firing of roadblocks in the mountains Ramitskogo Gorge – they just set the stage for the decisive events – the emergence of the Movement of Democratic Forces of the country, which according to its shadow leaders should move all the threads of power.
Interestingly, the leaders of the new movement did not even try to hide their real goals. Rahmatullo Zoirov, who heads the Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan and entered in an action team of the new movement, saying its goals, noted that “at present the country’s civil society is in decline and has virtually no effect on life in Tajikistan. Political parties are also passive, most operate in tandem with the ruling party. The movement plans to bring to residents in Tajikistan need to rebuild a civil society and its involvement in solving problems of the country. ” Here it is the perfect plan for Zoirov – a peaceful civil society, fully subordinate to the ideas of the Movement and its leadership.

Imagine what will happen next, is not difficult. Movement, of paramount importance critique current leader of the state, on the wave of discontent among the population, social instability, economic crisis, on a white horse vedet the political arena. The more so because Rahmatullo Zoirov known in Tajikistan as an uncompromising critic Rahmon’s. He has repeatedly emphasized the “unconstitutionality” of his time in power and criticized the methods of “nepotism and cronyism” in government. No doubt about the motives of leaders of the Movement because of their efforts are funded green bills, directed from abroad by third forces. Lofty words about the welfare of the people and the native state paid money for sale of drugs, guns and killings.

Against this background, the words of representatives of the Tajik government, claiming that the situation is under control, at least sound ridiculous. People who are tired of miserable wages, non-payment of allowances, pensions, regular attacks from day to day take to the streets to open the eyes of their government on the real situation in the country. But will then have the official Tajikistan time to rectify the situation?

Muhibullo Immatshoev

Source – CentrAsia
Permanent address – http://www.centrasia.ru/newsA.php?st=1287641220

What Is Really Happening in Afghanistan?

The other week, Michael Cohen wrote a probing article for the New Republic, in which he discussed the weird state of affairs we are in. After noting the “pervasive gloom” when talking with literally everyone who is responsible for understanding the place, Cohen noted there was one exception. “To hear it from U.S. military spokespersons,” he wrote, “one would think that corners are being turned, lights are being glimpsed at the end of the tunnel, the U.S. and NATO are making steady progress against the Talban and important advances are being made.”

This is an important contrast. To read the news dispatches from Afghan and Coalition officials, the Taliban in Kandahar are being routed. It’s a tricky thing to swallow: despite the presence of veteran Carlotta Gall, we have all the trappings of a normal puff-piece about the super-awesome military: reversed momentum, pinky-swears that this time, promise, it won’t be like Marjah, and declarations of victory following the established Taliban tactic of slinking away under the slightest military pressure.

It’s one of many reasons I’m so deeply skeptical of the current effort to reach out to the Taliban and begin negotiations. I wrote about some of these doubts for my column this week at PBS:

The last four years have seen a slow, but accelerating, deterioration in the tenuous security gains of 2002 and 2003 — broad areas the country once considered safe, like the northern provinces, are now incredibly violent. The south, where aid workers could live openly, is now so bad that westerners fetch $200,000 in abduction ransom. By almost every measure, the Taliban are winning — despite the massive assassination campaign begun under Gen. David Petraeus (who brags of the hundreds of “senior leaders” killed or arrested, to negligible security gains). It is unreasonable under these circumstances to show up at a negotiating event and expect them to renounce a thing: they have the advantage.

Yet we do precisely that. But it isn’t just with negotiations and with offensives to “clear” an unwelcoming Kandahar where the U.S. seems beset with magical thinking and a complete disconnect from ground conditions. As we learned on Tuesday, the CIA is stricken with it as well. I have a piece up at the AfPak Channel discussing it:

Given the intensity of the CIA’s operations in Pakistan — which by all accounts have increased dramatically under President Obama — it is appropriate to question the reliability of the intelligence the CIA is using. We don’t know how well the agency’s sources’ intelligence is cross-checked against verifiable data. If the al-Balawi incident in Afghanistan is any indication, it often isn’t… In the case of the CIA, when seemingly every check and balance against hasty or ill-considered action breaks down, we know even less. This makes it difficult for analysts, agents, and outsiders to have any confidence in the government’s ability to wage war properly.

Indeed. I get the sinking feeling that we really have no idea how things are going. As Cohen pointed out, the military is persisting that everything is awesome and we’re winning, while every single empirical measure we know of says the opposite. What is really going on in Afghanistan? Until the press stops willingly playing along in the DOD’s “messaging” campaign against the American public, we will never know really know.

Tajik security services kill two militants of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan

Tajik security services kill two militants of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan

Dushanbe, October 21, Interfax – Tajik security services killed two members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in northern Tajikistan on Thursday, the National Security Committee said.

Tajik experts said one of the killed militants was the first woman in the ranks of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

The operation took place in Childukhatoron, near Isfara, 430 kilometers northeast of Dushanbe, and close to the borders with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

“The Sogd District department of the National Security Committee traced two members of the terrorist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan – Mukhtasar Miramonova and Akram Nasimjon both born in Isfara in 1985 – on October 21,” the committee said.

“The aforesaid individuals resisted the police and were killed in a clash,” the committee said.

They were carrying two Kalashnikov submachine guns with five cartridge clips, a Makarov pistol and an F-1 grenade.

Tajikistan’s Security Service blamed the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) for involvement in organizing the explosion at the headquarters of the Khujand Regional Department for Combating Organized Crime on September 3. Three police officers were killed in the blast and 28 others sustained injuries.

Dozens of IMU and Hizb ut-Tahrir activists are arrested in the region each year. The Sogd Region is the Tajik sector of the Ferghana Valley at the junction between Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, where the influence of various extremist organizations is strong.

The Tajik authorities also blames the IMU for organizing previous bombings, including the explosion in Dushanbe in January and June 2005 and near the Emergency Situations Ministry building in 2007. Ten to 15 IMU members are convicted in Tajikistan annually.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, set up in Afghanistan in 1996, wants all secular governments in Central Asia to be toppled in order to become Islamic states.

Russia sells shares in 900 companies

Russia sells shares in 900 companies

Russia intends to sell up to 15% of the largest oil companies in the country, Rosneft, as part of the government to raise 1.8 trillion. rubles (59 billion) from asset sales over the next five years to balance the budget.

The government of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin approved yesterday, according to statements strain Kremlin plan to sell shares in about 900 companies, including banks Sberbank and VTB Group.

The finance ministry had proposed in July sales meipsoifias shares in 10 companies, including Rosneft, Sberbank and VTB.

According to statements from the Kremlin, the government intends to reduce its stake inRussia’s largest bank, Sberbank, the share control between 2011 and 2014.

Afghan peace council wants Saudi help

Afghan peace council wants Saudi help

(AP) – The new peace council of the Afghan government in Saudi Arabia sees an important role in efforts to achieve reconciliation with the Taliban, and a political solution to the war to find.

Afghaanse vredesraad wil Saudische hulp

Qiyamuddin kashaf spokesman of the seventy-member Supreme Peace Council said Thursday that Saudi Arabia is a good location for the formal peace talks that will hopefully result from the exploratory consultations with some other Taliban leaders spoke.

Saudi King Abdullah would take the lead and hosted the peace talks occur if the case inAfghanistan itself is not well off the ground, said kashaf.

Saudi Arabia maintained warm relations with the then Taliban government in the early 90s won the Afghan civil war came out on top.

Pakistani Foreign Minister: “the networks that all of us had jointly created.”

Pakistani Foreign Minister Suggests U.S. To Blame For Taliban, Al-Qaeda

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the stakes had never been higher in the two countries' relationship.Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the stakes had never been higher in the two countries’ relationship.

By Heather Maher
WASHINGTON — Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi says that his country has paid “an enormous price” for being the United States’ main ally in South Asia for the last 50 years.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution, a political-policy think tank in Washington, D.C., Qureshi said Pakistan had been a “steady partner” in challenges faced by the United States since World War II and remained so today.

“If the Cold War was the central struggle of the 20th century, the fight against terrorism and fanaticism has become the defining struggle of new millennium,” Qureshi said. “And in this historic struggle, Pakistan and the United States are once again in the trenches together.”

Qureshi is in Washington this week leading a Pakistani delegation of government ministers in the third round of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, a series of broad discussions aimed at expanding relations between the two countries beyond the war against Islamist insurgents.

Thirteen working groups focusing on topics from energy to agriculture, water to women’s rights, began meeting on October 20 for three days of talks between U.S. and Pakistani government representatives.

The foreign minister’s speech at Brookings was his first public remarks in Washington during this trip and followed a White House meeting with President Barack Obama that he characterized as “tremendously satisfying.”

What Goes Around…

But if anyone in the audience thought that positive remark was setting the tone for the rest of the speech, they were wrong. Qureshi described the devastating effect that the war between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan had on Pakistan — it “converted our peaceful country into a society infested with Kalashnikovs, heroin, and sectarianism,” he said — and then took off at least one of his diplomatic gloves.

“When the Soviets were defeated and left Afghanistan, the United States quickly packed its bags, leaving us to deal with networks that all of us had jointly created,” Qureshi said. “This was the beginning of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.”

With that, the Pakistani foreign minister appeared to lay blame for the nest of terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan the United States has been trying to defeat for nearly a decade squarely at the feet of — the United States.

But he was on his way to making a much larger point. Tying Washington’s foreign policy over the decades to the current “vicious and inhuman terrorist campaign” that he said has claimed the lives of thousands of Pakistanis simply established the baseline for the case he went on to make, which was that to accomplish its goals in Afghanistan and the wider region, the United States needs Islamabad like never before.

“Our commitment to the fight against terrorism and extremism is real and demonstratable. The democratic government has spent immense political capital in converting public opinion in favor of the struggle. A national consensus that was earlier lacking,” Qureshi said. “As a result, today, for the people of Pakistan, this is our war. Pakistan has walked the talk and is standing up for the peace and security of the region — in fact, the whole world.”

The foreign minister noted that the stakes have never been higher in the two countries’ relationship. What he didn’t note — and didn’t have to — is that this gives Pakistan a degree of leverage with the United States it has never had before.

Underwater, Under Siege

And it comes as Pakistan is facing what is possibly the most difficult moment in its 63-year history.

“This is a moment of a unique crisis of confidence for Pakistan. A vicious and inhuman terrorist campaign has killed thousands of our people. Long-neglected social and economic problems threaten our national structure. The international recession has badly hurt for investments and markets for our products,” Qureshi said. “And on top of it all, over the last three months, Pakistan has been faced with the greatest floods in modern history.”

The devastating floods that swamped an area of Pakistan the size of Italy this August and caused an estimated $9.7 billion in damage dealt the country a colossal blow when it was already on its knees.

Qureshi praised the resilience and “indomitable spirit” of the Pakistani people, and thanked the United States on their behalf for being the largest donor of aid and assistance. And he said Islamabad hoped that Washington would continue to help the country recover and rebuild.

A moment later, however, he reminded the audience that “an overwhelming number of Pakistanis do not consider America a friend” and feel “used and exploited.” The United States’ longtime support of General Pervez Musharraf, who seized the presidency in a bloodless coup in 1999, is seen as having damaged the country’s democratic traditions.

What was helping to ease that animosity, he said, was the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, as Pakistanis start to see the effects of the United States’ five-year, $7.5 billion nonmilitary aid package.

More aid is needed for flood-recovery efforts, the foreign minister added, but his message on economic matters emphasized that Pakistan is not seeking charity from the United States. He urged Congress to pass a free-trade agreement with his country.

“Let me be clear: We do not seek dependency, we seek economic viability. We need trade, not just aid,” Qureshi said. “We need the United States to open up its markets to our products, like the European Union has resolved to do, so that our factories can create jobs for our people and give young Pakistanis hope for their future.”

Improving Cooperation

Economic issues are on the agenda in this week’s working group meetings, but the issues getting the most attention in Washington concern the counterinsurgency effort being waged by U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, and more and more, in Pakistan via drones strikes and unwelcome cross-border incursions by NATO helicopters.

This third round of strategic dialogue comes as tensions between Islamabad and Washington are running high following the deaths of two Pakistani border guards by NATO helicopters, Pakistan’s temporary closure of a NATO supply-line border crossing in apparent retaliation, an increase in unmanned U.S. drone attacks, and Washington’s criticism of Pakistan’s unwillingness to pursue terrorists in its North Waziristan region.

The Obama administration is eager to demonstrate progress in its Afghan war strategy ahead of a scheduled December review that will evaluate the effectiveness of U.S. policy and whether the stated plan of beginning a troop withdrawal next summer is viable. The White House announced on October 20 that Obama would travel to Pakistan next year, in his first visit to the country since taking office.

Before Obama met with the Pakistani delegation, the president and his national security team met to discuss the need to increase pressure on the safe havens in northwestern Pakistan.

A White House statement said Obama and Pakistani officials — who included Qureshi and army chief General Ashfaq Kayani — agreed on the “importance of cooperating toward a peaceful and stable outcome” in the Afghan war.

Obama’s national security team also discussed Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s reconciliation efforts with the Taliban, which the United States supports.

Earlier in the day, a State Department spokesman said the strategic partnership meetings would include discussions on “ways in which Pakistan can be a part” of the reconciliation effort.

Qureshi is set to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on October 22.

Obama to skip Pakistan during his visit to India

[This is the real strategic dialogue, the one that is happening with India instead of Pakistan, our true allies.  Pakistan is being asked to facilitate the talks with the Taliban on one hand, while being forced to expand the war against them on the other.]

Obama to skip Pakistan during his visit to India

PTI
Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi

US President Barack Obama will skip Pakistan when he makes his first visit to India and East Asia next month as American officials sought Islamabad’s support for peace talks with the Taliban and pressed the country to take firm military action against militant groups in restive north Waziristan.

The White House said the president had committed to travel to Pakistan next year and was looking forward to welcoming Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to Washington soon.

Obama conveyed this to a visiting high-level delegation from Pakistan, who are here to participate in the US-Pak Strategic Dialogue, the White House said in a statement, scotching speculations that the President might make an unannounced visit to Islamabad and Kabul before touching down in New Delhi.

“The President explained that he would not be stopping in Pakistan during his trip to Asia next month, and committed to visiting Pakistan in 2011”, the statement said.

The visiting Pakistani delegation was led by foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.

During his meeting with the Pakistani delegation, Obama stressed that Washington and Islamabad should move towards a “true partnership” based on mutual respect and common interest.

“The president and the Pakistani delegation agreed on the need for regional stability and cooperating towards a peaceful and stable outcome in Afghanistan”, the statement said.

Earlier, in an attempt to simmer down tensions flamed by recent NATO airstrikes into Pakistan, the US defence secretary Robert Gates called for better cross-border communication.

Gates also apologised for the accidental killings of three Pakistani troops by NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan at a meeting with the Pakistan Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at Pentagon, press secretary Geoff Morrell said.

At the crucial strategic talks between the Pakistani delegation and defence and state department officials, Washington pressed Pakistan to take stronger military actions against militant groups sheltering in Pakistan’s tribal belt.

The Pakistani delegation were told that continued presence of the terrorist safe havens in the country would undermine the US-led international efforts against extremism in Afghanistan and in the region.

Identical messages were conveyed to the delegation at the state department, at the White House when they met Obama and to Pakistan army chief Gen Kayani when he met defence secretary Gates and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen at the Pentagon.

Officials familiar with the discussions said that US conversations with the Pakistani leaders reflected the Obama Administration’s growing sense of frustration about the continued existence of these havens and their reluctance to take action against certain terrorist groups like the Haqqani network.

“We definitely recognise that there are safe havens in other parts of the region, including North Waziristan. And we will be encouraging Pakistan to take steps there as well,” state department spokesperson PJ Crowley told reporters.

Crowley said Pakistan’s role in the Afghan conflict was the highlight of discussion. “We have assured Pakistan it has an appropriate role in resolving the situation in Afghanistan.”

“We do not want to see efforts by any entity to prevent political reconciliation,” he said referring to efforts to woe Taliban to accept legitimacy of the Karzai government and the Afghan constitution in exchange for amnesty and a political role.

“This is our fundamental strategy and Pakistan has legitimate role to play in supporting this process”, Crowley said.

On talks with Taliban, Crowley said these were at an early stage, but were picking up momentum.

He said no American officials were directly involved in the negotiations, though US and NATO forces had granted Taliban leaders safe passage into Afghanistan for talks.

Is Islamabad losing Parachinar to Kabul?

Is Islamabad losing Parachinar to Kabul?

“When the leaders are oblivious of their responsibilities, when self projection remains their only concern, the people should act before the countries head towards oblivion.” Raja Mujtaba

By Dr Ghayur Ayub

Lord Curzon understood the Pakhtun psyche and separated Pakhtu speaking areas from the domination of Punjab in 1901, creating NWFP. He particularly concentrated on the tribal region and wisely combined the draconian Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR) and military objectives with a softer policy of winning the hearts and minds of the tribal people through development projects pertaining to communication, railways, roads, education and health. His knowledge of the Pakhtun mental make-up surfaced in his Darbar speech, at Shahi Bagh, Peshawar on April, 26, 1903, when he said, “Pathan is a curious mixture. He is a man of war but he is also a born trader. I see him conducting business right away in the Bazzars of Bengal. I have come across him in Burma and Asam.” He could have added religion as third element in the mixture.

In recent decades, the Shias of Kurrum agency have suffered on all three counts. It all started when Gen. Zia targeted their religious beliefs by; relocating the Shia Kurrum Militia from Parachinar to other agencies; upsetting a century-old tradition of keeping a Shia officer either as head of Kurrum Militia or as political administration; and having a mixture of Shias and Sunnis in appointments of subordinate administrative staff of APA, Tehsildar and Naib Tehsildar. His policy went against the local Shias and when the Taliban took over in Afghanistan, the situation got deplorably worse for them.

After the Taliban defeat in 2001, a large number of them along with Al-Qaeda members fled to the tribal areas settling among other places, in regions around the Shia dominated upper Kurrum. As a result, their defeat in Afghanistan became a flashpoint for Shia miseries. The religious oppression of Shias multiplied manifold when, five years ago, they blocked the only road that connects Parachinar with Tal-the first town in the settled area. It adversely affected Shia trade and commerce downgrading their social life and strangulating their livelihood. As a consequence they found it difficult to safeguard their families, find jobs, decent food and sometimes even medicine.

A glaring example was that of Sarwan Ali from village Malana, who shot himself because he could not get food and medicine for his ailing wife. Or a young mother in her early twenties from village Alamsher, who was fatally wounded in her home, holding her baby in her arms, by a splinter of mortar shell fired by Taliban from a nearby hilltop. Bombing, shelling,shooting, killing and living in a constant state of fear, anguish and disappointment has become routine. Ironically, for their daily essentials they cross the border to Afghanistan; and when they want to visit their relatives and friends in Pakistan they travel through Afghanistan and re-enter their own country at Torkham. Can things be more pathetic than this? For them, the Afghan government is friendlier than Pakistan’s; thanks to the failure of political administration to redress their grievances and control the Taliban’s brutal onslaught. When an angry local Shia was asked, which country was safer to live in; Pakistan or Afghanistan? He replied in an argumentative query, “Just look around and you tell me?” He had lost two sons, when, one night, the Taliban left their beheaded and mutilated bodies at his doorstep. The valley is full of such grieving Shias.

The unbearably harsh life is reaching an explosive point, leaving them with two options; either to migrate or fight back. They have opted for the second. For that, they need possible support from Iran, Hezbollah, Afghanistan or even the Americans. Material help from the latter two seems logical because of easy access. They can see new venues of hope through Khost, Paktia and Nangarhar after being regularly attacked at Tor Ghar near Tal, Doaba near Hangu and Japanese tunnel near Kohat. In frustration, some have started thinking to react the way certain rebellious Baloch have reacted with one difference; the Shias understand that Kurrum cannot survive independently. So they have looked back at history and have found two incidents they can get guidance from.

  1. First; in the early 20th century, the Sunnis created a deplorable situation for the Shia population identical to the one seen today. The grand Khan of Turi Duperzai, Noor Khan (alias Dur Khan) wrote to the Deputy Commissioner of Kohat on behalf of the Shia elders, inviting the British government to Kurrum agency to safeguard the Shia population. The British accepted the invitation by appointing a political agent at Parachinar. That’s how the massacre of Shias was stopped.
  2. Second; a treaty known as Durand Line Agreement was signed on November 12, 1893, between Amir Abdur Rahman Khan and Sir Henry Mortimer Durand creating a buffer zone between British India and Afghanistan. The signed treaty was in English-a language the Amir couldn’t read or understand. The translated portions in Dari and Pakhtu were not signed by the Amir. According to historians, the Pakhtun elders close to the Amir were not aware of the written agreement. They thought the treaty was according to an unwritten Jirga practised in those days.

This brings up an important point of the time frame of the pact which remains ambiguous till the present day. Maybe the treaty was actually in two parts; a written part according to the British legal requirement signed by the Amir; and an unwritten part called ‘Tiga’ according to the requirement of the Jirga System. ‘Tiga’ in the Jirga system is like a seal between the two participating parties and is time bound. Was a hundred year limit part of ‘Tiga’? The Pakhtun elders then and in the following decades believed so. And this could be the reason that successive governments in Afghanistan, including the very friendly Taliban of Mullah Omar, took a firm stand on this issue. They have consistently disregarded certifications by SEATO and SENTO which supported Pakistan’s version, by arguing that Afghanistan was not made party during the dialogues, and that those two bodies are dead and buried. They also argue; that how can a treaty of such a nature and magnitude be agreed upon without a time-frame. The issue has not reached the United Nations thus far, and the US and UK both ignore it because it can affect their war strategy in Afghanistan.

Some frustrated Shias share Afghanistan’s version and consider the DLA as null and void since 1993, thus making Kurum part of Afghanistan. When asked what if the Taliban got back to power in Afghanistan, they reply they will cross that bridge when they come to it; so strong are their feelings. According to them things have changed since 9/11.They conducted a private survey, amongst 500 Shias aged between 20 and 65, (its authenticity cannot be verified) which gives opposite figures to the one given by another public survey conducted by the New America Foundation and Terror Free Tomorrow, which stated “Nearly nine out every ten people in FATA oppose the U.S. military pursuing al-Qaeda and the Taliban in their region.” The local survey showed that 99% are against Taliban and Al-Qaeda; 70% are disappointed by the role played by the Sunni led Pak army in Kurum; 85% are against the existing political set-up in Kurrum; 45% are ready to take up arms against the Pak army.

Irrespective of the survey being authentic or not, a strong lobby is surfacing especially amongst the youth who blame Pakistan for their miseries. They want to safeguard their livelihoods, bring safety to their families, put trade back on track, achieve an atmosphere of peaceful existence, and most importantly have freedom of religious beliefs. They are ready to take up arms in Hezbollah style to achieve those aims.

The American administration must closely be watching the situation in Kurum in the context of their non-productive military actions in FATA and non-implementation of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZ) policy in the region. Obama is desperate to show the American people that he can crush Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in FATA and help the locals economically. Upper Kurrum could turn out to be his dream come true if it becomes a launching pad to achieve those aims. Its location bordering Afghanistan from three sides and with direct land-linkage with the three important FATA regions of North Waziristan, Aurakzai and Khyber makes it ideal to fight his worst enemy from within FATA. If the local Shias are willing to participate; why shouldn’t he take advantage of the opportunity and offer material help to the trained fighters against Al-Qaeda and Taliban?

Before it turns into a reality, Pakistan should seriously think of taking the following reconciliatory steps;

  • Take the Shia population, especially the youth, in confidence and show them in real terms that the government is willing to help take them out of their miseries.
  • Construct a second road along the south bank of Mar Toi (Kurrum river) bypassing the strongholds of Taliban dominated regions at Sadda and beyond, thus opening communication and trade links with the rest of Pakistan
  • Undo what Gen Zia did, by reintroducing the century-old system of power sharing between Shia and Sunni officers in civil and military bureaucracy in Parachinar.
  • Bring back the HQ of Kurrum Militia to Parachinar and build it afresh by inducting both Sunnis and Shias in its ranks and files.

Otherwise, the Pakistani leadership should open its eyes and read the writing on the wall which says; Islamabad is fast losing Parachinar to Kabul.

Bullets Flying Across Texas Border as Drug Wars Rage

Gunbattles stir panic in Mexican border cities

Four shootouts erupt in Nuevo Laredo, including one near a Walmart; violence also reported in Reynosa

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico — Mexican soldiers battled gunmen in two cities across the border from Texas on Wednesday, prompting panicked parents to pull children from school and factories to warn workers to stay inside. Assailants in a third city threw a grenade at an army barracks.

The U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo warned American citizens to stay indoors. The statement said there were reports of drug gangs blocking at least one intersection near the consulate in the city across from Laredo, Texas.

The local city government and witnesses reported several more blockades — a new tactic that has emerged in northeastern Mexico, where violence has soared this year amid a split between the Gulf and Zetas drug gangs.

Cartel gunmen frequently use stolen cars and buses to form roadblocks during battles with soldiers. Witnesses in Nuevo Laredo said gunmen forced people from their cars to use the vehicles in the blockades.

Shootouts also erupted in Reynosa, across from McAllen, causing a huge traffic jam in the highway connecting the city with Monterrey and Matamoros.

‘Situation of risk’
The local governments of Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo warned residents to stay inside through a series of Twitter and Facebook messages.

By the evening, the Nuevo Laredo government said in a Twitter message that the “situation of risk” had ended, and most of the vehicles blocking the roads had been removed.

The city government also said federal authorities reported no fatalities, but it was unclear if anyone was injured. Officials at the press office of the Mexican Defense Departmentsaid they had no immediate information on the shootouts.

Witnesses and reporters at the scene said four shootouts erupted in Nuevo Laredo, including one behind a Walmart store near a residential area.

Bullet casings from assault rifles littered the scene, and at least one house and two cars had bullet holes. Apolinar Rodriguez, a resident of the neighborhood, said he thought he heard grenade blasts.

“They are fighting with everything they have,” he said.

Parents rushed to schools to pick up their children. Factory managers at one industrial park closed their gates, ordered their workers not to leave and canceled night shifts.

“We were not allowed to leave for two-and-a-half hours,” said Eva Lara, a worker at one factory.

Meanwhile, assailants hurled a grenade at military barracks in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville. A Red Cross worker, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said four adults were injured, none seriously. He said they were treated inside the barracks.

Mexico’s northeastern border with Texas has become one of the most violent fronts in an increasingly bloody drug war.

National Guard soldier killed
Shootouts in the middle of cities erupted frequently, and in the most horrifying attack, 72 migrants were massacred near Matamoros in August, apparently because they refused to work for the Zetas. Several mayors and the leading gubernatorial candidate for Tamaulipas state — where Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros are located — have been assassinated.

In Ciudad Juarez, a 21-year-old Texas National Guard soldier was reportedly one of two men killed Wednesday.

Spokesman Arturo Sandoval of the Chihuahua state attorney general’s office says family members identified the soldier as 21-year-old Jose Gil Hernandez of El Paso. The identity of the other man was not available, and details on the incident were sketchy.

A message left with FBI El Paso spokesman Michael Martinez was not immediately returned. However, he told the El Paso Times that Hernandez was shot about 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Colonia Revolucion Mexicana in Ciudad Juarez. Martinez told the newspaper that the FBI and the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division were trying to verify the details of the shooting.

Nationwide, more than 28,000 people have been killed in drug gang violence since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon deployed soldiers to battle the cartels in their strongholds in northern Mexico and along the Pacific coast.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Columbia Anti-Nuclear Center, Victor Bout and FARC

Colombia opens Nuclear Security Center

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Colombia news - nuclear

Colombia’s police on Tuesday opened a National Nuclear Security Center to "detect and respond to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction," in response to alleged FARC plans to purchase uranium.

Police General Rafael Parra said that the center had been planned following the discovery of a plot to bring uranium from Europe to Colombian, found on computer drives seized from the camp of slain FARC commander "Raul Reyes."

According to the President’s Office, this nuclear security center is the first and only in South America and will be at the service of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the United Nations.

The center was opened just days after Russia signed a deal to build a nuclear power plant in Venezuela.

Colombian authorities in 2008 claimed to have found 30 kilograms of uranium that allegedly belonged to the country’s largest guerrilla group FARC.

The nuclear center is located inside the headquarters of the judicial and intelligence branch of the police in the capital Bogota. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez earlier on Tuesday responded angrily to perceived suggestions by the Colombian media that Venezuela is now a nuclear threat, and is violating the non-proliferation agreement.

Columbian Counter-Nuclear Arms Center and International Uranium Plots

Colombia tries to stop rebels from getting nuclear arms

Colombian police have created the first counter-nuclear arms unit in the region dealing with leftist rebels.

The new Centre for Nuclear Security will try to prevent members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) from obtaining nuclear material to make a "dirty bomb".

Intelligence officials say computers belonging to the Farc proved they had been trying to obtain nuclear material.

They believe the rebels intend to use the material to cause maximum damage.

Since 2008, when the Colombian army found several computers belonging to the slain Farc commander known as "Raul Reyes", the authorities have been working on a theory that the guerrillas have ambitions involving nuclear arms.

At a news conference in Bogota, the new head of the unit, Gen Rafael Parra, said emails found on the computers proved that since 2005 the Farc had been trying to buy nuclear material in Ukraine.

Venezuelan nuclear ambitions

"It’s clearly the intention of the Farc to obtain uranium in Europe. It’s obvious that if it tries to do this, then it’s for the sole purpose of using it against the people it has been terrorising for years," Gen Parra told reporters.

The inauguration of the centre comes just days after Colombia’s neighbour Venezuela signed a contract with Moscow for a new nuclear reactor.

The BBC’s Jeremy McDermott in Colombia says the Colombian authorities have long accused President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela of arming the Farc.

However, at the launch of the counter-nuclear arms centre one of its senior officials, Anitta Nilson, insisted there was no link between the new unit and developments in Venezuela.

She said the work of her unit was "in no way political"