Pakistanis have to choose one between US and Pakistan

[Mr. Mir has been called a Pakistani “mouthpiece” for the Army and its ISI spy agency.  Whatever he asserts in the following article can probably be interpreted as being faithful to the narrative being promoted by the Pakistani generals.  Whatever his political affiliations, he is clearly a Pakistani patriot, and his conclusion is dead on–“Pakistanis have to choose one between US and Pakistan.”]  

Mullah Omar reluctant

Pakistan fails to persuade Afghan Taliban for peace talks with US

Hamid Mir, Islamabad

United States have started desperate moves to make a peace deal with Taliban after the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.   [It is uncertain whether this is a fact or just the impression that Washington (and perhaps Islamabad) wishes to create.]  Many people in Pakistan are raising this question that if Washington can talk to Taliban then why not Islamabad? Fact is that Pakistan can start talks with their Taliban only if Afghan Taliban will start formal talks with US otherwise Washington can sabotage talks between Pakistan and Taliban anytime. Pakistan tried its level best to push Afghan Taliban for talks with US recently but till today there is no concrete outcome.  [Pakistan’s recent “arrest” of Mullah Baradar prevented a previous attempt to jump-start preliminary negotiations between the Taliban and the United States (SEE:  Arresting Taliban To Cover America’s Ass).]  Very few people in media know that neither the top leaders of Afghan Taliban nor the Pakistani Taliban are interested in talks right now with Kabul or Islamabad because they think that summer is not a “talking season”. This hot weather is always a “fighting season” for them. Afghan Taliban killed many US soldiers in last few days but US administration is still running after some people who can facilitate their peace talks with Taliban.

US media is claiming about secret direct and indirect contacts between Taliban and Washington from a long time. Last year there were reports that Saudi Arabia is facilitating Americans for establishing their contacts with Taliban but Saudi authorities dismissed these reports. Hilary Clinton supported talks with Taliban in Afghanistan On January 28, 2010 in London Conference and said “you have to be willing to engage with your enemies if you want to create a situation that ends the insurgency”. Few weeks back Voice of America (VOA) reported that Turkey will allow Taliban to open their office in Ankara for making direct contacts with NATO. Then German magazine Der Spiegel claimed that Germany is helping US to talk with Mullah Omar through his former spokesman Tayyab Agha but German officials have not confirmed this report yet.

Now New York Times claimed that US officials have met Tayyab Agha at least three times in last couple of weeks. There are reports in Islamabad that Pakistan also persuaded Tayyab Agha to speak with US officials but there was no breakthrough because Agha is no more close to Mullah Omar since last 8 years. All the credible Taliban sources close to Mullah Omar are denying these media reports appearing in Western press. They say that Americans are approaching us from right and left but their approaches do not mean Taliban are ready for talks. Taliban spokesperson Zabeehullah Mujahid told me on phone from Afghanistan “this is just US disinformation they want to create differences within our ranks, on one side they spread the baseless rumor about the death of Ameerul Momineen (Mullah Omar) last week and on the other side they say Taliban are meeting US officials, this is not true if they want negotiations then Obama must make a public statement first and accept that US invasion of Afghanistan was wrong.” He further said “we know Americans have established a $500 million dollars fund to break our foot soldiers, they organized many dramas of our soldiers surrendering weapons in Kandhar but when this drama was failed they are now begging for talks with our leaders”.

Can US buy Afghan Taliban for $500 million dollars? Why Taliban are not ready for talks right now? Answer is very simple. They do not trust anyone in Kabul, Islamabad and Washington. Interestingly Afghan President Hamid Karzai thinks that if Pakistan exerts some pressure on Afghan Taliban then they will definitely start talking. He is completely mistaken. He lacks information and understanding of Afghan Taliban. Yes Pakistan enjoys considerable influence on Haqqani network which is active in some parts of Eastern Afghanistan but Pakistani strategists have not much influence on the Taliban leaders belonging to South and West of Afghanistan. The close relationship between so-called “Quetta Shura” and ISI is just a myth not reality. The fact is that Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar does not trust ISI. He recently told one of his close associates that “ISI is sending messages to start talks with Americans because this is the desire of Americans, when Americans ordered ISI to provide them bases against us in 2001 they said yes to them, now Americans want talks with us and ISI again say yes to them but we say no to ISI because we don’t trust them”.

Why Mullah Omar is angry with ISI? First of all Mullah Omar is sure that ISI is responsible for helping CIA for the killing of many top Afghan Taliban commanders like Mullah Dadullah. Secondly ISI arrested his deputy Mullah Abdul Ghani Bradar in February 2010 from Karachi and then spread rumors that Bradar was in the contact of CIA and he was trying to establish direct contacts between Taliban and US. Now Mullah Bradar is in the custody of ISI and they try to use him for opening some channels with different Taliban leaders but the status of Bradar is not different from the status of Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef who was in the custody of US in Kabul for a long time but now lives in Kabul like a bird in cage. His movement is restricted. Mullah Zaeef was the Taliban ambassador in Pakistan in 2001. Karzai met him many times recently and wanted him to facilitate talks with Mullah Omar but Zaeef regreted. He clearly told Karzai that “Americans are invaders, they occupied our country and killed innocent Afghans, they must apologize and leave Afghanistan, and there could be no talks with them”.

Mullah Zaeef is highly respected in Taliban circles because he refused to become minister in Karzai government. Zaeef represent those Taliban who hate not only Washington and Kabul but also dislikes the policy makers sitting in Islamabad. Mullah Zaeef harshly criticized policies of Kabul, Washington and Islamabad in his autobiography published recently. He accused Pakistan for handing over its air bases to Americans in 2001 so they could kill Afghans. He said “Pakistanis can get milk even from a bull. They have two tongues in one mouth, and two faces on one head so they can speak everybody’s language; they use everybody, deceive everybody. They deceive the Arabs by using the name of Islam, they milk America in war against terrorism and they have been deceiving Pakistanis in the name of Kashmiris, but behind the curtain they have been betraying everyone”.

Karzai is not ready to understand that he is sitting in Kabul with the help of Northern Allaince.He appointed a Northern Alliance Tajik leader Burhan uddin Rabbani as the head of the peace council responsible for talks with Pashtun Taliban. Many in Taliban believe that there is no use of talks with US because US will demand to share power with Karzai and Rabbani. US forced Afghan militants to share power with pro-Moscow Dr.Najibullah in 1989 which resulted a bloody civil war and now US desire to make a coalition of Karzai and Rabbani with Taliban could inflame a new civil war bigger than 90’s because this time Gulbadin Hikmatyar will not support Rabbani.

Thinking of Pakistani Taliban about Islamabad is not different from Afghan Taliban. They know that American drone are coming from Pakistani air bases so they have started attacking Pakistani bases. Pakistani Taliban are much dangerous than Afghan Taliban. These Pakistanis are not fighting against any foreign invaders. They are fighting against their own country. They are not fighting for a noble cause of liberation. Their ultimate objective is just to take revenge. Some of them are taking revenge because their homes were bombed in tribal areas and some are fighting because they feel betrayed by Pakistan Army. Illyas Kashmiri is one example. He was part of the Kashmir resistance but then he was arrested in 2003 and he was brutally tortured for conspiring the assassination attempt on the life of Pervez Musharraf. After his release he is on a deadly revenge mission against Pakistani Armed Forces. Afghan Taliban are united under one leadership but Pakistani Taliban have no chain of command. Tehrik-eTaliban Pakistan(TTP)was created in December 2007 after the Lal Masjid operation in Islamabad under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud. Before the creation of TTP these militants tested many peace deals with Pakistan Army. US drones sabotaged all the major peace deals. Pakistan Army signed first peace deal with Maulvi Nek Muhammad in South Waziristan on March 27th, 2004.Within few months Maulvi Nek Muhammad was killed in the first ever drone attack by US in Pakistan on June 18, 2004.That was the beginning of a new bloody war in Pakistan. His killing gave rise to Abdullah Mehsud who announced revenge against Pakistan Army. Pakistan Army supported Baitullah Mehsud against Abdullah Mehsud. A peace deal was done with Baitullah Mehsud on February 22,2005 and it was decided that Baitullah Mehsud will not provide shelter to foreign militants but there was another drone attack on May 14,2005.Despite these drone attacks Pakistan Army convinced some major Taliban commanders to make a peace deal with them in North Waziristan on September 5, 2006. Another major peace deal was also underway in Bajour but there was a US drone attack on October 30, 2006 on a religious school in Bajour. More than 80 boys were killed including the family members of many militants of South and North Wazirastan. The attacks created new militants groups all over the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Finally the July 2007 military operation in Lal Masjid Islamabad further fumed the militancy and Pakistanis started facing suicide bombings every day.

Pakistani parliament adopted a resolution in October 2008 which said that we will not allow our territory to be used against any other country and we will start dialogue with all those who accept the law of the land. Unfortunately this resolution was not implemented. Pakistan government wanted a peace deal with Taliban in Swat but they refused. On the other hand US also opposed any peace with Taliban. Finally this deal was signed by a pro-Taliban cleric Sufi Muhammad but later it was proved that he never had any influence on Taliban and the deal was again crashed. Pakistani parliament again passed another resolution on May 13,2011.This resolution not only asked the government to revisit and reconsider its relations with US but also supported the 2008 resolution which suggested dialogue with all the stake holders including Baluch insurgents. US have no objections on talks with Baluch insurgents but they will not allow Pakistan to start talks with Taliban according to the parliament resolutions until Pakistan provide Afghan Taliban in a plate to US for a “peace meal”.

Majority of Pakistanis want to get rid of the US war against terror. This war made Pakistan the most dangerous country in the world. Pakistan faced more bomb blasts and suicide attacks than Iraq and Afghanistan in last three years. Pakistan is under attack from both Taliban and US.

Pakistan suffered around 68 billion US dollars loss and received not more than 15 billion US dollars in aid from Washington in last 9 years. The gap between loss and profit is huge while the human loss is unbelievable. Pakistan lost more than 35000 human lives in bomb blasts and suicide attacks after 9/11 while US causalities in Afghanistan are not more than 1500 in last 9 years. Pakistan needs peace with Taliban but they don’t trust Islamabad. If they don’t agree to talk then what to do? Only solution is to make national consensus for a final and grand operation against Taliban in tribal areas which is their base of training. Pakistan cannot have a national consensus until it is a so-called ally of US war. Pakistan can at least stop US for using Pakistani air bases for drone attacks. It will make US angry but Pakistanis have no other choice. Pakistanis have to choose one between US and Pakistan.

Handwritten Notes from Mullah Omar Threaten Taliban Reconcilers With Death

In this photo taken, Nov. 2, 2010, a veteran member of the Taliban speaks to The Associated Press in Afghanistan, Nov 2, 2010. The longtime member said scribbled notes from Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar have surfaced in mosques all over Afghanistan’s ethnic Pashtun heartland, threatening death to anyone who takes up a government offer to negotiate for peace. Trying to quash rumors of a break in their ranks, the Taliban have also vehemently denied reports _ including one by The Associated Press _ that representatives of the militant group were involved in negotiations with the Afghan government. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Taliban threaten to kill followers who seek to reconcile with the Afghan government

Kathy Gannon, The Associated Press
Nov 07, 2010

KABUL – Scribbled notes from Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar have surfaced in mosques all over Afghanistan’s ethnic Pashtun heartland, threatening death to anyone who takes up a government offer to negotiate for peace, according to a longtime Taliban member.

Trying to quash rumours of a break in their ranks, the Taliban also have vehemently denied reports — including one by The Associated Press — that representatives of the militant group were involved in negotiations with the Afghan government.

The leadership could be worried that commanders might strike separate deals that would threaten to undermine the insurgency and cripple the morale of their rank-and-file fighters.

President Hamid Karzai has made reconciliation a top priority and recently formed a 70-member High Peace Council to find a political solution to the insurgency. At the same time, the U.S.-led coalition has ramped up its military campaign in an effort to pound Taliban commanders to the negotiating table.

There are no signs that either strategy is having much effect on the senior Taliban leadership.

A veteran Taliban member who recently visited the powerful shura — or council — in the Pakistani city of Quetta and controlled by Mullah Omar said there was no talk of negotiation among those who control the insurgency.

“None of the big Taliban is talking,” the bulky, bearded Taliban member said on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal from both the government and the religious movement. “I have been to Quetta and I know the council there is not talking.”

In an interview with the AP, he said the handwritten scribbled notes started appearing in mosques shortly after news of Karzai’s peace overture was broadcast around the country. In the past, Mullah Omar has used notes and sometimes audio recordings to get his message across.

“We heard it on the radio,” the Taliban member said of Karzai’s overture and reports of contacts between the Taliban and the government.

“No one in our village has televisions,” explained the man, who has played an integral role in the Taliban for the past 15 years and has been interviewed numerous times by the AP since the 1990s. “The Taliban don’t allow televisions.” During Taliban rule, television was banned as un-Islamic.

Even if the top Taliban leadership did not participate, a number of exploratory talks have taken place with the militants over the past two years, according to lawmakers, peace council delegates and former and current members of the Taliban.

The talks were held in various places, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan, said Habibullah Fauzi, a peace council member who once served as the Taliban’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

“It’s not because they can bring Taliban fighters with them that they are talking,” Fauzi said. “Some are facing problems and don’t know if they can stay safe in Pakistan; or some were not given the powerful positions in the Taliban they thought they might have.”

According to peace council members, those who have held talks with government officials include Maulvi Abdul Kabir, the former Taliban governor of Nangarhar province; Aga Jan Mohtasim, a former Taliban finance minister and current member of the Taliban council in Pakistan’s North Waziristan area; Maulvi Akhtar Mansoor, a former Taliban minister of civil aviation; Qatradullah Jamal, a former Taliban information minister; and Tayyab Agha, a special assistant to Omar.

One member of parliament told the AP that he personally met four times with Mohtasim.

“These are not official negotiations. They are Taliban meeting with people they trust to try to know what the government and the international community is thinking,” said the parliamentarian, who declined to be identified because it would compromise his relationship with the Taliban.

The AP has previously reported that Kabir and two other midlevel Taliban leaders met with Karzai in mid-October to discuss the Haqqani network, an al-Qaida-linked group that controls much of eastern Afghanistan.

A former Afghan official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media, said the discussion did not focus on the peace effort, but rather on weakening the Haqqani network’s influence in eastern Afghanistan by dividing tribal loyalties between its leader and Kabir.

The Taliban and Karzai’s spokesman Waheed Omar both contested the AP story, saying this meeting never took place.

In his interview, the 15-year Taliban veteran painted a picture of increasing violence as the group shifts its fight from the south, where it is constantly attacked by NATO forces, to eastern provinces such as Ghazni.

Taliban fighters overran a county seat in Ghazni on Nov. 1, captured its headquarters and police station and set both ablaze. They then melted back into the mountains — with at least 16 police officers who apparently defected to the Taliban.

“Ghazni now is worse than Helmand because the Taliban are everywhere, and the Americans are bombing and attacking Taliban every day and in the night they come with their helicopters,” he said. “We have Punjabis, Arabs, Chechens and Pakistani Pashtuns coming over the mountains.”

In the Pakistani city of Quetta, he said, Afghan Taliban are sheltered by members of Jaish-e-Mohammed, an extremist group believed to have been organized a decade ago with the help of Pakistani intelligence to fight the Indians in disputed Kashmir.

He said those who cross the frontier from Pakistan bring bombs, which they assemble in Ghazni and then give to local fighters for use elsewhere, adding that he personally saw this happen several days earlier.

“In front of my eyes, we were sitting and talking and they were making their bomb,” he said.


Kathy Gannon is special regional correspondent covering Afghanistan and Pakistan.

US Fakes Attempted Negotiations With Former Taliban Leaders Other Than Mullah Omar, Sirahuddin Haqqani’s Brother

[US is faking negotiations with Afghans, calling them Taliban and “Al-Qaeda,” pretending that it intends to “exit Afghanistan, in a massive ploy intended to stave-off public pressure to end the war.  Just like in Iraq, the US military has constructed enormous bases along energy corridors, that it never intends to vacate, as key elements of a long-range plan for a massive military penetration of Central Asia.  The key to ending this war is ending the American psychological warfare and deception that furthers the false narrative which hides American Imperial plans.  Expose the lies that make this illegal, unjust war possible.]

Movement toward peace talks with Taliban

By Deb Riechmann and Kathy Gannon – The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — Efforts to start peace talks with the Taliban appear to be gaining traction, with the head of the Afghan peace council saying Saturday that it has been in contact with three factions of the insurgent movement and the U.S. defense secretary predicting negotiations by the end of the year.

Other signs also suggest that discussions with insurgents are moving forward.

Marc Grossman, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, has reached out directly or indirectly to three insurgent groups, although it’s unclear how the efforts by the peace council and the U.S. dovetail, Western officials say.

The United Nations will give a thumb’s up or thumb’s down later this month on whether to take Taliban figures off a U.N. sanctions blacklist list — a move that could enable prospective intermediaries to travel abroad to hold talks.

One Western official has told The Associated Press that the fate of the only U.S. soldier being held by insurgents has been mentioned in recent preliminary discussions between the Americans and Tayyab Aga, the former personal secretary to the Taliban’s one-eyed leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. The U.S. is asking what it will take to win the release of Spc. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, captured June 30, 2009.

It’s not clear whether Aga still has links to Omar or whether Omar supports contacts with U.S. officials. The Taliban have flatly denied that anyone is talking to the U.S. or to the Afghan government, and senior Pakistani security officials say Omar is rigid in his refusal to negotiate.

At a news conference Saturday in the Afghan capital with President Hamid Karzai, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said if the U.S.-led coalition and Afghan forces can hold territory captured from the Taliban, and even expand that security “we will be in a position towards the end of this year to perhaps have a successful opening to reconciliation.”

But Gates, who’s retiring June 30, said much depends on whether the May 2 death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden creates a new opening.

A day earlier in Singapore, Gates said it was important to maintain military pressure on the Taliban to reach a peace deal.

The Taliban publicly insist they have no interest in negotiating peace so long as foreign troops occupy Afghanistan. President Obama is due to make a decision on U.S. troop reductions in the next couple of weeks.

More than 200 NATO troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year, including four who died Saturday in an explosion in the east of the country.

Richard Barrett, coordinator for the U.N.’s al-Qaida and Taliban monitoring team, said he didn’t think the Taliban were feeling “so weak that they have to negotiate or else be eradicated. Nor do I think they rule out the possibility of talks.”

“The Taliban are feeling the ground just like the Americans and everybody else is. Talks are in the early stages,” he said.

He said Karzai has requested that just under 50 Taliban figures be taken off the U.N. sanctions list, which keeps them subject to an asset freeze and travel ban. More than 100 Taliban members are on the list.

The U.N Security Council committee monitoring the sanctions will make a decision June 16 on the latest tranche of roughly 30 individuals, Barrett said. The Afghan government has provided the committee with extensive dossiers on about 20 of them with information about why it believes these individuals should no longer be sanctioned, he said.

Those with the extensive documentation include Sayed Rahman Haqani, a former deputy minister of mines and public works in the Taliban regime, as well as four members of the peace council. The council members are: Arsala Rahmani, the Taliban’s former deputy minister of higher education; Habibullah Fawzi, who once served as the Taliban’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia; Faqir Mohammad Khan, a former Taliban deputy minister; and Sar Andaz Qalamuddin, a former top official in the Taliban’s hardline religious police — known as the vice and virtue unit.

Russia, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council that holds veto power, has been reluctant to approve requests to delist members of the Taliban. Barrett, however, said the Russians could be amenable in some cases.

“Russia will want to look at the cases very thoroughly, but by no means will they refuse to delist anybody and everybody just because they’re Taliban,” he said.

Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who is head of the peace council that Karzai set up to facilitate contacts with insurgents, told members of parliament Saturday that in the past five months the council has made contacts with: the Taliban governed by the Quetta shura, named for Pakistan’s southeastern city where many of the Taliban are said to live or transit with relative ease; the al-Qaida affiliated Haqqani network; and the insurgent group run by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is on a U.S. designated terrorist list.

Even talks about talks with the Taliban have prompted rising concern from ethnic minorities and women’s groups in Afghanistan. They worry that negotiations with the Taliban, comprised mostly of majority Pashtuns, will open a path for the hard-line fundamentalist group to regain power — or exact painful concessions.

The Taliban, who were ousted by the 2001 U.S. invasion for harboring al-Qaida, banned women from most jobs and education during their years in power.

Discussions the U.S. is having with Tayyab Aga are still in the exploratory stage, according to the Western official. It wasn’t clear whether Aga made the first overture to the U.S. or whether it was the U.S. who contacted him.

Aga has made no commitments, but comments like “Would this help Bergdahl?” have been raised in the meetings, according to the official, who declined to give more specifics.

Aga is just one of several insurgents the U.S. reportedly has approached either directly or indirectly to test their willingness to talk peace, according to Western diplomats. Others include former Taliban information minister Qatradullah Jamal. Lines also are out to representatives of the network run by Hekmatyar and Ibrahim Haqqani, a brother of group leader Jalaluddin Haqqani.

All the Western diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity in exchange for disclosing details about confidential talks.

A senior Pakistani intelligence official told AP that so far, the nation’s intelligence service has not been asked to approach any of the insurgent groups about peace talks. The official, who also asked not to be named because he wasn’t authorized to release the information, said that the United States has had full access to members of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistani custody, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the former Taliban No. 2.

Kathy Gannon reported from Islamabad. Associated Press reporter Robert Burns, traveling with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, contributed to this report.

DNA Report of PNS Mehran Terrorists Reveals All Were Anglo-Indians

Police receive DNA report of PNS Mehran terrorists

PNS Mehran

KARACHI: The DNA test result revealed that four terrorists who attacked PNS Mehran base in Karachi were foreigners, officials said on Saturday.

The samples from the four terrorists do not match the DNA databank in Pakistan, police officials said.

According to police officials, the DNA samples of the four terrorists were sent to Islamabad for testing. The officials added that these samples did not match the DNA databank in Pakistan.

The report disclosed that two of them belong to same country while nationality of other two has not been confirmed so far.

Those terrorists were Anglo-Indians and have blood relations, could be cousins, the report said.

Police said two samples were taken for DNA, one to know their nationality while other for identification of their families. These samples were matched with NADRA database which revealed that these terrorists were not Pakistani.

In order to identify the terrorists, their pictures were taken using the most advance cameras along with their fingerprints. These did not match with the data maintained by NADRA.


Copyright NNI (News Network International)

Pakistan Military Cornered, US Content

Pakistan Military Cornered, US Content

By Shahzad Chaudhry

Robert Kaplan’s new book Monsoon suggests a newer dimension of the twenty-first century’s great game. He posits that anyone controlling the two choke points in the Indian Ocean, Hormuz and Malacca, dominates the Indian Ocean. Add to it the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and you have around three-quarters of world trade in your control. More important is oil and liquefied gas that runs the economies of China, India and the entire East and South East Asia. The trade plies only if the one controlling the sea lanes lets it ply. That explains the ongoing quest between China and America for dominating the seas; and that is why new blocs are forming — replacing the Cold War construct.

China operates under a different strategy. Never the one to flaunt hard power, it underplays its strength and uses soft power instead to extend its influence. What better way to expend a part of its almost $3 trillion worth of liquid reserves than to invest in countries that have either escaped American attention or where space exists. Never good at free handouts, the Chinese believe in economic investment where returns favour economic sustainability and prosperity. She remains, however, acutely conscious of the importance of Malacca, as indeed of the combined challenge that has been building up to dominate that portion of the waterways.

The Chinese, realistically, unable to withstand the combined challenge, in their plan B envisage land routes and pipelines from various ports around the Indian Ocean to transport commodities. Gwadar in Balochistan is one such port made with Chinese assistance with a potential to facilitate trade. Iran next door, too, can connect into this potential trade highway of commodities and goods. Quite clearly, China and all such nations that are linked through these means of trade retain mutual dependencies, binding them into a supportive relationship. This is where the rub for America lies.

Enter the current spate of geopolitics in the region. The US derides Burma for human rights excesses but allows a free hand to its strategic partner, India, to retain close links with the Yangon regime. India, itself a potential hegemonic state, validates this exception as her need. The US pushes Pakistan to resolve matters with India and to perceive her as a friendly neighbour rather than an enemy. America already owns Afghanistan and permits greater access to India for her proxy role against China — obviating her own longer-term presence. In India, too, a few voices question the strategy of not engaging with Pakistan since that has left an open space for China; there is also growing clamour for regaining India’s primacy over what was earlier British India.

A few things happen simultaneously: Following the Abbottabad operation, the Americans build on the incredulity of Osama’s presence in Pakistan without state support and then call into question the state’s capacity to implement parliament’s resolution against drone strikes. The attack on the PNS Mehran base further dents the military’s reputation and its credence in the eyes of its own people. Saleem Shahzad and Saba Dashtiari are murdered in quick succession; militating the gradually growing venom against the military, lowering its stock in the dumps.

The media and the educated elites grab the opportunity to seek redemption to a long-standing civil-military imbalance in Pakistan’s intellectual discourse and another divide entrenches itself into Pakistani society. Pakistan attempts balancing American intransigence through the China card but then both retrench to avoid raising hackles.

Pakistan remains on a slow boil: Balochistan is unsteady and badly governed — the military, unable to dust off past ghosts, can now only fight a rearguard battle; the media and the intellectual focus resides in cornering the military to give in to civilian supremacy; the discourse is stuck in a groove on the entitlement to formulate the foreign and security policies of the state. An embroiled Pakistan is consistently losing space to pursue traditional interests forced to fight on the inner front. A divided nation, Pakistan remains incapable of imaginative recourse out of its travails; this suits the American agenda well. Somewhere along the line, this nation of ours plays an unwitting accomplice. We are losing the woods as we count the trees.

Published in The Express Tribune

The Slippery Slope of Siachen Glacier and Imperial Interference

[Obama adviser urges introduction of British troops as “neutral force” (SEE:  Russian Roulette in South Asia)



China was the unspoken but ominous presence in the South Block room when the two-day talks between India and Pakistan on the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge region ended on Tuesday with no significant breakthrough in the long-standing dispute.

China fear makes India harden Siachen stand

Rajat Pandit, TNN Jun 1, 2011, 12.45am IST

NEW DELHI: China was the unspoken but ominous presence in the South Block room when the two-day talks between India and Pakistan on the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge region ended on Tuesday with no significant breakthrough in the long-standing dispute.

China’s expanding strategic footprint in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, in fact, seems to have led India to harden its stand, which till now was largely about Pakistan providing iron-clad guarantees to “authenticate” the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) along the Saltoro Ridge, on maps and on ground.

India remains open to discussing the “modalities” for the verification of the AGPL and the proposed demilitarized zone but would “insist on map coordinates, obtained through aerial or satellite imagery, and other methodologies to show the relative positions on the ground”. Till it gets them, troop disengagement, withdrawal and the final demilitarization of the glacier is not on the cards.

Some may scoff at the strategic significance of the forbidding glacial heights but the Indian Army, which beat the Pakistan Army by just a whisker to occupy most of the dominating posts in the region in April 1984, has repeatedly drilled it into the political leadership.

For one, the Army is clear that if Pakistani troops occupy the heights vacated by it, then dislodging them from there would be virtually impossible. For another, if Indian soldiers had not been sitting atop heights ranging from 16,000 to 22,000 feet, Pakistan from the west would have long joined up with its “all-weather ally” China from the east through the Karakoram Pass to threaten Ladakh.

The ever-growing presence of Chinese personnel, including military engineers, in PoK on the pretext of civilian infrastructure development in recent times has only served to accentuate these concerns.

So, at the end of the 12th round of defence secretary-level talks on Siachen, despite the “good atmospherics” and “enhanced understanding of each other’s position”, there was no perceptible movement towards bridging the “trust deficit” between India and Pakistan.

“Both sides agreed to continue discussions in a meaningful and result-oriented manner. They agreed to meet again at a mutually convenient date in Islamabad,” said the joint statement, which also appreciated the fact that the ceasefire along AGPL was “holding since November 2003”.

Obama Spending $50 Million To Persuade Pakistani Media To Say Only Good Things About America

The Obama administration plans to spend nearly $50 million on Pakistani media this year to reverse anti-American sentiments and raise awareness of projects aimed at improving quality of life, confirms a Washington insider.

After the Kerry-Lugar Bill debacle, the Obama administration had struggled with the idea of ‘branding’ aid and many within the State department and the USAID had argued that identifying projects may backfire.

“By announcing that a school was built and is being maintained – partly because of the aid received from America – you can alienate people,” said someone who had proposed not ‘branding’ the aid.

The US Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke believes that a substantial amount of monies spent on media- especially private TV channels will reduce tension and may even bring Pakistan-US relations back on the right path.

Senator John Kerry, the main architect of Kerry-Lugar bill also supports the idea of claiming credit for all “the good work being done to improve infrastructure, energy and education,” said a source in Senator’s office.

Reuters today reported that the Obama administration has sent lawmakers a plan for funding water, energy and other projects. Report said the US intends to spend $1.45 billion of earmarked for the Kerry-Lugar bill in fiscal 2010.

The trust deficit had surged after a well intended aid package focused to uplift Pakistan’s civilian society was trashed by a section of Pakistani media. Interviews with diplomatic sources in Washington, D.C. and media coverage of the KLB debacle had demonstrated growing frustration of the Obama administration.

Although American officials publicly praise military operation in South Waziristan, in private they sing a different tune; their assessment of ”alignment” is rather pessimistic. Stories leaked to media consistently allege that al-Qaeda leadership is still enjoying safe haven in Pakistan.

Pakistan-U.S. relations have not been this tenuous before, and the Obama administration is frustrated with the outcome of the Kerry-Lugar bill. “No one had anticipated such negativity,” said an American official who did not want to be identified. “We thought Pakistanis [would] celebrate the passage of this bill. This is what we were told by representatives of Pakistani government.”

Pakistani government representatives from President Zardari to Foreign Minister Qureshi and Ambassador Hussain Haqqani further down the chain had assured the Americans that Pakistanis would be jubilant; KLB was suppose to heal all wounds, rectify all wrongs and erase memories of the past from the consciousness of the masses.

The Obama administration has shared their plan to sponsor high impact projects and communicate the value of these projects using local media.

Voice of America, a radio and TV platform that speaks for the government of the US already has a tie-up with Geo TV and now they have aligned with Express TV as well.

The Obama administration plans to help Pakistan’s democratic government meet budget shortfalls and deliver services to a population increasingly angry about economic and security troubles. As the funding builds the capacity of the government to provide basic services, the US sponsored Pakistani media will raise awareness and a build a brand for America, our sources have confirmed.