Putin Joins the Anti-Syrian Chorus

Putin calls for pressure on Syria (updated)

Putin calls for pressure on Syria (updated)Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks during a press conference, in Paris, Tuesday June 21, 2011.AP

Associated Press

PARIS (AP) —Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called Tuesday for international pressure on Syria’s leadership over its deadly crackdown on anti-government protests — but said Iraq-style international intervention would only make matters worse.

Russia has been resistant to a new Western-backed draft U.N. resolution condemning Syria’s government.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Monday that his country remains firmly opposed to such a resolution.

However, Putin — who brought Medvedev to power and still dominates Russian politics — said Tuesday that “we need to apply pressure on the leadership of any country where massive unrest, and especially bloodshed, is happening.”

He called for a political solution in Syria, and said Russian officials are working on this at the United Nations, without elaborating.

“Russia understands and acknowledges that in the modern world it is impossible to use political instruments of 40 years ago. This concerns all countries, including Syria. I hope the Syrian leadership understands this, and will make the necessary conclusions,” he told a news conference.

He dismissed talk of a Russian alliance with Syria, saying their close ties dated to the Soviet era and that no “special relationship” remains now with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

He spoke strongly against international intervention. Russia has said NATO went too far in interpreting the U.N. resolution authorizing international involvement in Libya.

“The development of the situation in certain countries of the region shows that their situation is not improving because of our efforts to lead the process,” Putin said.

“Look at what is happening in Iraq. What, has total peace arrived there? There they never had any extremists. Yes there was another regime, abnormal and silly, perhaps, but there were no extremists. And now the whole country is run by warlords. So has it gotten better? Of course not.”

US gives Karzai a rare dressing down over ‘occupation’ rhetoric

US gives Karzai a rare dressing down over ‘occupation’ rhetoric

By David Usborne, US Editor

President Hamid Karzai and US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry AP

President Hamid Karzai and US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry

Straying beyond the normal boundaries of diplomatic nicety, the American Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, delivered a sharp verbal slap to President Hamid Karzai yesterday for his criticism of Nato’s operations in his country implying that the US was becoming weary of it.

While Mr Eikenberry, who was delivering an address at Herat University, did not mention Mr Karzai by name, there was no doubting whom he was castigating. His remarks came one day after a speech by Mr Karzai in which he said the Nato countries were in his country “for their own purposes”.

“When Americans, who are serving in your country at great cost – in terms of life and treasure – hear themselves compared with occupiers, told that they are only here to advance their own interest, and likened to the brutal enemies of the Afghan people, they are filled with confusion and grow weary of our effort here,” said Mr Eikenberry, who is to leave the post later this summer.

“Mothers and fathers of fallen soldiers, spouses of soldiers who have lost arms and legs, children of those who lost their lives in your country – they ask themselves about the meaning of their loved one’s sacrifice,” he said. “When I hear some of your leaders call us occupiers, I cannot look these mourning parents, spouses and children in the eye and give them a comforting reply.”

That Mr Eikenberry would air such grievances in public and with such evident personal passion will be seen as an indicator that relations between Washington and Mr Karzai are becoming dangerously strained. The new rift comes at a delicate moment with President Barack Obama preparing to decide on the details of a drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan that is supposed to start this summer.

On Saturday, Mr Karzai also went further than ever before in acknowledging that efforts are under way to start talks with the Taliban as a first step towards a political settlement. “The foreign military and especially the United States itself is going ahead with these negotiations,” he said in his speech.

But the US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, who retires at the end of this month, used warned at the weekend against building up expectations regarding such contacts. And he advised against any precipitate withdrawal of US troops arguing that keeping the Taliban militarily engaged is the only way to draw them into political talks.

“The Taliban have to feel themselves under military pressure, and begin to believe that they can’t win before they’re willing to have a serious conversation,” he said, adding that it would be months before any “substantive headway” can be made in peace talks.

So close to stepping down from a job in which he has spanned the administrations of Mr Obama and former president George Bush, the Defense Secretary is using his last days in office to articulate some of his broader views on America’s role in the world. In an interview with The New York Times, he suggested his experience in office had led him to be more wary about excercising American military power.

“If we were about to be attacked or had been attacked or something happened that threatened a vital US national interest, I would be the first in line to say, ‘Let’s go.’ I will always be an advocate in terms of wars of necessity,” Mr Gates said. “I am just much more cautious on wars of choice.”

Mr Karzai’s criticisms of Nato are not new but seem in recent weeks to have taken a more ferocious tone. In particular, the Afghan leader has berated the alliance for killing civilians and for conducting nighttime raids which he has opposed. But it was his comment on Saturday about Nato members being self-serving that seems to have triggered the indignation of Mr Eikenberry.

“They’re here for their own purposes, for their own goals, and they’re using our soil for that,”

Pak clerics declare suicide bombings unlawful

Press Trust Of India
Hundreds of Islamic scholars in Pakistan’s restive North Waziristan tribal region have declared suicide bombings as unlawful and asked all foreign militants hiding in the area to stop such attacks, according to media reports on Tuesday. About 300 religious scholars unanimously agreed on the move to

declare suicide attacks as “haram” or forbidden by Islam and condemned all forms of terrorist activities in North Waziristan Agency.The scholars strongly condemned all those involved in recruiting and training suicide bombers. They issued a stern warning to terrorists that such acts would have serious consequences, Geo News channel reported.

The meeting of the prominent ‘ulema’ of North Waziristan Agency was held in the Madrassah Nizamia religious school at Eidak, a town in Mirali area. The school is a leading and respected institution in North Waziristan.

The meeting warned all foreigners to stop their violent activities as they can only live in North Waziristan peacefully according to local customs.

A teenager who was arrested about two months ago after his suicide vest did not explode during an attack on a crowded Sufi shrine in Punjab province later told police that he had been trained in a camp in North Waziristan.

He also revealed that around 300 youths were being trained at a centre in the region and would be sent out for attacks across Pakistan and Afghanistan.

US authorities insist that al Qaeda and Taliban elements have established numerous centres in North Waziristan for cross-border attacks on foreign and Afghan forces.

Pakistan is under pressure from the US to launch a military operation against militants in North Waziristan, but Islamabad says it has no resources for such an offensive and that its troops are already engaged in other tribal regions.

Pakistani media recently reported that the army has chalked out a strategy to separate violent extremists from tribesmen as the first step to weaken the militants.

A decree from the Islamic scholars of Waziristan may be a step towards achieving the goal of isolating the extremists.

Against the backdrop of the prevailing insecurity in North Waziristan Agency, the pronouncements by the ulema of the region are historic and very significant, Geo News quoted observers as saying.

Top Russian Reactor Designers Among Those Killed In Russia Aircrash

Kudankulam reactor designers among those killed in Russia aircrash


Russian designers of the Kudankulam nuclear reactors died in an aircrash in northern Russia that killed 44 people. Eight people survived the crash.

The Tu-134 airliner on a flight from Moscow crash landed in thick fog on a highway less than a km short of the runway at its destination, Petrozavodsk, in Russia’s Republic of Karelia, minutes before midnight on Monday. The aircraft veered from the highway towards a nearby forest breaking into several parts and bursting into flames.

The plane was carrying 52 people, nine of whom were crew members. The eight survivors included a nine-year-old boy, his teenage sister and their mother.

Three top officials of Russia’s main nuclear reactor design company, Gidropress, were killed in the aircrash along with two other senior nuclear engineers. Gidropress CEO and Designer General Sergei Ryzhov, Deputy CEO and Chief Designer Gennady Banyuk and Chief Designer Nikolai Trunov were all involved in designing two VVER-1000 (Version V-412) nuclear reactors for the the first stage of the Kudankulam power project in Tamilnadu. Another four reactors of this type are to be built at Kudankulam under second and third stages of the plant’s expansion.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said that pilot error was the likely cause of the Tu-134 crash, which reminded him of the catastrophe of Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s plane, Tu-154, near the Russian city of Smolensk in April 2010, in which 96 people died. The Polish aircraft also crashed short of the runway as it tried to land in bad weather. Investigation blamed the crash on pilots who rejected ground control advice to divert to another airport. A traffic controller at the Petrozavodsk airport, Sergei Shmatkov, also said the pilot of the Tu-134 turned down his suggestion to circle again.

The Tu-134’s black boxes have been recovered and were in good shape, officials said.

IMF Seeks to Avoid Repeating Kabul Bank Collapse Before Aid to Afghanistan

IMF Seeks to Avoid Kabul Bank Repeat Before Afghan Aid

The government took over Kabul Bank, the country’s biggest commercial financial institution, in September. Thousands of depositors rushed to withdraw their money last year after learning that Kabul Bank’s owners had lost hundreds of millions of dollars they had lent to themselves. Photographer: Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

IMF Head of Middle East and Central Asia Masood Ahmed

Masood Ahmed, head of the International Monetary Fund’s Middle East and Central Asia department. Source: AFP/Getty Images

IMF Seeks to Avoid Repeating Kabul Bank Collapse Before Aid to Afghanistan

By Sandrine Rastello

Afghan authorities need to prevent a repeat of the conditions that led to Kabul Bank’s collapse, before the International Monetary Fund agrees to an economic program, the institution’s regional chief said.

The Washington-based IMF recognizes the country’s progress in dealing with Kabul Bank, in particular the decision to liquidate it,Masood Ahmed, the head of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia department, said in a Bloomberg News interview yesterday. At the same time, IMF support is contingent on the country’s strengthening its financial system, he said.

“We are ready to move forward and support the Afghan authorities, including in the form of a new program, as soon as some remaining actions which we have been discussing with them for a number of weeks are undertaken,” according to Ahmed.

An agreement with the IMF on an economic program may make about$125 million available to Afghanistan and signal the fund’s approval of its policies, a condition for some governments that provide assistance. An estimated 97 percent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is generated by spending on foreign troops and aid efforts, according to a U.S. Senate report released this month.

Ahmed’s comments came as Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal accused the institution of not wanting to conclude the talks, calling future discussions with the IMF “a waste of my time,” Reuters reported yesterday.

Kabul Bank

The government took over Kabul Bank, the country’s biggest commercial financial institution, in September. Thousands of depositors rushed to withdraw their money last year after learning that Kabul Bank’s owners had lost hundreds of millions of dollars they had lent to themselves.

“The cost of that kind of crisis is large for the budget, it is large in terms of foregone expenditures in other areas, it has reputational consequences for the financial sector and it tends to overshadow the progress that has been made in so many other areas in economic management in Afghanistan,” Ahmed said.

The central bank will seek expressions of interest by next month for the purchase of Kabul Bank, and hopes to sell it by October, central bank Governor Abdul Qadir Fitrat said last month.

“Regarding the costs of Kabul Bank insolvency, a budget allocation is a critical measure going forward to ensure that additional tax revenues are used to begin paying for the costs,” Ahmed said when asked what measures need to be taken.

He declined to confirm whether measures also include a draft law to cut insider lending and bank owners’ powers, saying that the focus has been on ensuring “that the kinds of problems that happened in Kabul Bank do not recur elsewhere in the financial sector.”

Afghan Law

The IMF has called for revisions to the existing “banking law to improve corporate governance” among Afghanistan’s 17 commercial banks, an effort that Afghan officials said the cabinet rejected in January.

The new legislation, drafted last year by the central bank, would bar any shareholder from serving as a bank’s chief executive officer or supervisory board chairman, central bank Governor Fitrat said in a Feb. 26 interview at his office in Kabul.

President Barack Obama has vowed to end the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan by 2014, handing over security duties to Afghan forces that the U.S. is training and equipping.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sandrine Rastello in Washington atsrastello@bloomberg.net

In Dubai, Pasha tipped off Rana about 26/11

In Dubai, Pasha tipped off Rana about 26/11


In this photo taken on November 27, 2008, Taj Hotel caught fire during the terror attacks in Mumbai.
PTIIn this photo taken on November 27, 2008, Taj Hotel caught fire during the terror attacks in Mumbai

Tahawwur Rana, cleared by a Chicago court of involvement in Mumbai attacks, knew about the 26/11 plot as he was part of “the inner circle” and was tipped off about the “imminent” strikes by none other than LeT’s Pasha during a meeting in Dubai, according to U.S. prosecutors.

“That the city of Mumbai was under siege was not something that came like a bolt out of the blue to Rana. He knew about it. He knew about it ahead of time. He knew about it because he knew about it from David Headley, and he knew about it because Pasha had tipped him off in Dubai,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Victoria Peters told jurors during closing arguments in Rana’s trial before the Chicago court.

In summer of 2008, Rana was told by his childhood friend Headley, who has confessed to his involvement in the Mumbai strikes, all the details about the attack plan that was going to occur a few months in the future, Ms. Peters said.

“He knows that Lashkar fighters are finalising their plans to take over the city of Mumbai. He knows that Headley’s activities in Mumbai, the things that he’s been doing while using the cover that he has provided, he knows that Headley’s activities are leading to something very, very serious and that it is on the near horizon,” she said, adding that is why Rana is so security-conscious.

When the attacks in Mumbai began, Rana was not surprised, she argued.

“He knew they were coming. He knew from Headley, but he also knew from Pasha. Headley had asked Pasha (also known as Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed) to tell Rana not to stop in Mumbai on Rana’s way back to the United States. In Dubai, Pasha did just that. He gave Rana that warning. You know from Rana’s own words that he knew that the attack in Mumbai was going to happen before it started,” she said.

Under the U.S. laws, the government cannot appeal against the verdict, even though if it disagrees with the verdict of the jury.

The U.S. Government had expressed disappointment at the verdict.

Ms. Peters presented before the court transcripts of a conversation between Rana and Headley in this regard.

Headley: “Did Pasha not say that“? Rana: “Yes.” Headley: “When he mentioned that.” Rana: “What?” Headley: “Pasha had mentioned that in Dubai that this is how …” And Rana says, “That he said to me as well.”

The U.S. attorney said Pasha gave Rana the warning.

“Members of the jury, this exchange between Rana and Headley, this exchange speaks volumes. What does it tell you about Rana that Pasha gave him this warning that the attacks were imminent?

“What it tells you is that Pasha knows that Rana is part of the inner circle. Pasha can trust Rana. Pasha knows that Rana knows. What if Rana weren’t part of this inner circle? What if Rana had absolutely no idea that there was going to be an attack in Mumbai?” she said.

Ms. Peters continued: “Think about that. Wouldn’t you expect Rana, if he didn’t know that this attack was imminent, wouldn’t you expect him after the attack happens and the city of Mumbai is basically held siege by these armed men for three days, wouldn’t you expect him to go to the FBI or the police or somebody and say, ‘Guys, there’s this guy I met in Dubai, Pasha, he told me something really strange before these attacks took place, he told me, don’t go to Mumbai.’”

“If Rana wasn’t playing on the same team, why would Pasha have told him that? Pasha trusts Rana. He knows that Rana is Headley’s trusted friend. So there’s no risk on Pasha’s part. There’s no risk for him to give this warning,” she said.

A bill to settle a terrible debt

A bill to settle a terrible debt


This October 21, 2008 photo shows a taxi damaged during a protest by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena supporters in South Mumbai against the arrest of their chief Raj Thackeray for his alleged involvement in the attack on Biharis. File Photo: Vivek Bendre
This October 21, 2008 photo shows a taxi damaged during a protest by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena supporters in South Mumbai against the arrest of their chief Raj Thackeray for his alleged involvement in the attack on Biharis. File Photo: Vivek Bendre

For decades, the victims of communal and targeted violence have been denied protections of law that the rest of us take for granted. It’s time to end this injustice.

In a vibrant and mature democracy, there would be no need to have special laws to prosecute the powerful or protect the weak. If a crime takes place, the law would simply take its course. In a country like ours, however, life is not so simple. Terrible crimes can be committed involving the murder of hundreds and even thousands of people, or the loot of billions of rupees. But the law in India does not take its course. More often than not, it stands still.

If the Lokpal bill represents an effort to get the law to change its course on the crime of corruption, the new draft bill on the prevention of communal and targeted violence is a modest contribution towards ensuring that India’s citizens enjoy the protection of the state regardless of their religion, language or caste.

The draft law framed by the National Advisory Council and released earlier this month for comment and feedback is a huge improvement over the bill originally drawn up by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2005. The earlier version paid lip service to the need for a law to tackle communal violence but made matters worse by giving the authorities greater coercive powers instead of finding ways to eliminate the institutional bias against the minorities, Dalits and adivasis, which lies at the heart of all targeted violence in India.

The November 1984 massacre of Sikhs provides a good illustration of how the institutionalised “riot system” works. Let us start with the victim. She is unable to get the local police to protect the lives of her family members or property. She is unable to file a proper complaint in a police station. Senior police officers, bureaucrats and Ministers, who by now are getting reports from all across the city, State and country, do not act immediately to ensure the targeted minorities are protected. Incendiary language against the victims is freely used. Women who are raped or sexually assaulted get no sympathy or assistance. When the riot victims form makeshift relief camps, the authorities harass them and try to make them leave. The victims have to struggle for years before the authorities finally provide some compensation for the death, injury and destruction they have suffered. As for the perpetrators of the violence, they get away since the police and the government do not gather evidence, conduct no investigation and appoint biased prosecutors, thereby sabotaging the chances of conviction and punishment.

With some modifications here and there, this is the same sickening script which played out in Gujarat in 2002, when Muslims were the targeted group. On a smaller scale, all victims of organised, targeted violence — be they Tamils in Karnataka or Hindi speakers in Maharashtra or Dalits in Haryana and other parts of the country — know from experience and instinct that they cannot automatically count on the local police coming to their help should they be attacked.

If one were to abstract the single most important stylised fact from the Indian “riot system”, it is this: violence occurs and is not immediately controlled because policemen and local administrators refuse to do their duty. It is also evident that they do so because the victims belong to a minority group, precisely the kind of situation the Constituent Assembly had in mind when it wrote Article 15(1) of the Constitution: “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them”.

How are policemen and officials able to get away with violating the Constitution in this manner? Because they know that neither the law nor their superiors will act against them. What we need, thus, is not so much a new law defining new crimes (although that would be useful too) but a law to ensure that the police and bureaucrats and their political masters follow the existing law of the land. In other words, we need a law that punishes them for discriminating against citizens who happen to be minorities. This is what the draft Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011 does.

The CTV bill sets out to protect religious and linguistic minorities in any State in India, as well as the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, from targeted violence, including organised violence. Apart from including the usual Indian Penal Code offences, the NAC draft modernises the definition of sexual assault to cover crimes other than rape and elaborates on the crime of hate propaganda already covered by Section 153A of the IPC. Most importantly, it broadens the definition of dereliction of duty — which is already a crime — and, for the first time in India, adds offences by public servants or other superiors for breach of command responsibility. “Where it is shown that continuous widespread or systematic unlawful activity has occurred,” the draft says, “it can be reasonably presumed that the superior in command of the public servant whose duty it was to prevent the commission of communal and targeted violence, failed to exercise supervision … and shall be guilty of the offence of breach of command responsibility.” With 10 years imprisonment prescribed for this offence, superiors will hopefully be deterred from allowing a Delhi 1984 or Gujarat 2002 to happen on their watch.

Another important feature is the dilution of the standard requirement that officials can only be prosecuted with the prior sanction of the government. The CTV bill says no sanction will be required to prosecute officials charged with offences which broadly fall under the category of dereliction of duty. For other offences, sanction to prosecute must be given or denied within 30 days, failing which it is deemed to have been given. Although the bill says the reasons for denial of sanction must be recorded in writing, it should also explicitly say that this denial is open to judicial review.

Another lacuna the bill fills is on compensation for those affected by communal and targeted violence. Today, the relief that victims get is decided by the government on an ad hoc and sometimes discriminatory basis. Section 90 and 102 of the CTV bill rectify this by prescribing an equal entitlement to relief, reparation, restitution and compensation for all persons who suffer physical, mental, psychological or monetary harm as a result of the violence, regardless of whether they belong to a minority group or not. While a review of existing state practice suggests victims who belong to a religious or linguistic ‘majority’ group in a given state do not require special legal crutches to get the police or administration to register and act on their complaints, the CTV bill correctly recognises that they are entitled to the same enhanced and prompt relief as minority victims. The language of these Sections could, however, be strengthened to bring this aspect out more strongly.

The CTV bill also envisages the creation of a National Authority for Communal Harmony, Justice and Reparation. The authority’s role will be to serve as a catalyst for implementation of the new law. Its functions will include receiving and investigating complaints of violence and dereliction of duty, and monitoring the build up of an atmosphere likely to lead to violence. It cannot compel a State government to take action — in deference to the federal nature of law enforcement — but can approach the courts for directions to be given. There will also be State-level authorities, staffed, like the National Authority, by a process the ruling party cannot rig. The monitoring of relief and rehabilitation of victims will be a major part of their responsibilities.

On the negative side of the ledger, the NAC draft makes an unnecessary reference to the power of the Centre and to Article 355 of the Constitution. The aim, presumably, is to remind the Centre of its duties in the event of a State government failing to act against incidents of organised communal or targeted violence. But the Centre already has the statutory right to intervene in such situations; if it doesn’t, the reasons are political rather than legal. The draft also unnecessarily complicates the definition of communal and targeted violence by saying the acts concerned must not only be targeted against a person by virtue of his or her membership of any group but must also “destroy the secular fabric of the nation.” Like the reference to Art. 355, this additional requirement can safely be deleted without diluting what is otherwise a sound law.

The BJP and others who have attacked the bill by raising the bogey of “minority appeasement” have got it completely wrong again. This is a law which does away with the appeasement of corrupt, dishonest and rotten policemen and which ends the discrimination to which India’s religious and linguistic minorities are routinely subjected during incidents of targeted violence. The BJP never tires of talking about what happened to the Sikhs in 1984 when the Congress was in power. Now that a law has finally been framed to make that kind of mass violence more difficult, it must not muddy the water by asking why it covers “only” the minorities. In any case, the Bill’s definition covers Hindus as Hindus in States where they are in a minority (such as Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Nagaland), as linguistic minorities in virtually every State, and as SCs and STs. More importantly, persons from majority communities who suffer in the course of communal and targeted incidents will be entitled to the same relief as minority victims. If someone feels there is any ambiguity about this, the bill’s language can easily be strengthened to clarify this.

At the end of the day, however, we need to be clear about one thing: India needs a law to protect its most vulnerable citizens from mass violence, its minorities. This is a duty no civilised society can wash its hands of.

Terrorists Eight-Year Old Girl To Wear Suicide Vest

Terrorists force minor girl to wear suicide vest

Anita Joshua

Photo: AP

GREAT ESCAPE:Suhana at a press conference in Lower Dir in Timergarah, Pakistan, on Monday.ISLAMABAD: In a first case of its kind, an eight-year-old girl was reportedly forced by terrorists to wear a suicide vest for blowing herself up at a check-post in the Lower Dir area of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa – formerly North West Frontier Province.

However, she surrendered herself to the very police she was supposed to attack. Narrating her experience to the media, Suhana — a Class III student — said she was kidnapped from her hometown in Peshawar by two women and a man on Sunday.

The kidnappers apparently beckoned her and when she approached them, they put a handkerchief around her nose after which she fell unconscious. Once she regained consciousness, Suhana said she was forced to wear a suicide vest and taken to the police post in Balambat area of Lower Dir.

After dropping her off near the check-post with the instruction to approach the police and blow herself up once she got there, her abductors fled the spot. Making use of the opportunity, she ran to the police and raised an alarm, Suhana said.

This is arguably the first case of someone so young being forced into becoming a suicide bomber and that, too, within a day of being in the clutches of terrorists. Using children as suicide bombers is nothing new in this country and the past few months have thrown up many instances where teenaged boys blew themselves up.

Often they did not even know who their targets were as became evident in April when a 14-year-old would-be suicide bomber – nabbed before he could detonate himself – told the police that he and his associates were told that they were being taken to Afghanistan to attack the Americans. Instead, they were dropped off at the Sufi shrine of Sakhi Sarwar in South Punjab on April 3 where their attack killed over 40 people.

US cautioned to take Pakistan along on talks with Taliban

US cautioned to take Pakistan along on talks with Taliban

By Baqir Sajjad Syed

Frank Ruggiero, US Deputy Special Representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, called on Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar. -APP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan cautioned the United States on Monday that its peace talks with the Taliban might not make headway without clarity on ‘reconcilables’ and without taking Islamabad and Kabul on board about dialogue with the Afghan insurgency leadership.

US Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Frank Ruggiero in his meetings at the Foreign Office was rather curtly told that American unwillingness to share information on the talks was against the spirit of rebuilding modicum of trust after a spate of bruising incidents beginning with the May 2 Abbottabad raid on Osama bin Laden compound.

In a statement on Mr Ruggiero’s meetings, the Foreign Office said: “The importance of clarity and strategic coherence as well as transparency to facilitate the Afghan people and the Afghan government in the process for peace and reconciliation” was underscored.

Mid-ranking US State Department and CIA officials have met Taliban representatives led by Tayyab Agha, a personal aide of Mullah Omar, at least thrice since January 2011 – once in Qatar and twice in Germany.

On Saturday, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates stated officially about direct talks with Taliban representatives, but the confirmation came only after President Karzai had publicly spoken about the meetings.

Secretary Gates claimed the interactions were at preliminary stage that were not likely to progress till winter, probably around the time when the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan is held in December, but observers say the official American acceptance of being in talks with the Taliban was in itself significant and denoted they were hopeful about the outcome.

Although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has acknowledged Pakistan’s legitimate concerns about reconciliation in Afghanistan and the criticality of its involvement in the process, diplomatic sources regret that the US was not ready to take Pakistan along.

Responding to the criticism he confronted at the Foreign Office, Mr Ruggiero was quoted in the Foreign Office media statement as having reiterated the importance the Obama administration attached to the ‘Core Group’ comprising Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US “in the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of reconciliation and peace”.

The core group is meeting again in Afghanistan on June 28 – the third time in a series of meetings that started a day after Osama bin Laden was killed in the Abbottabad raid. Alongside the trilateral mechanism, Pakistan and Afghanistan have set up a joint commission on peace and reconciliation which recently held its inaugural session in Islamabad and its second tier comprising officials would be meeting soon to discuss modalities for cooperation.

Pakistani officials sounded critical over lack of clarity about who the US considered as reconcilable. “On one hand they are talking to Mullah Omar’s aide, but on the other the Taliban leader is on the list of the five men that they (the Americans) want to be taken out,” an official, asking not to be named, said, adding that Pakistan would also like to hear if there could be any space in the political dialogue for the Haqqani network, whose operational commander Sirajuddin Haqqani is also on the list of five most wanted terrorists.

A US official, speaking about Mr Ruggiero’s meetings, said a whole range of issues in relations between the US and Pakistan, including Afghan peace and reconciliation, was discussed.

The Real War –vs– The Illusions

The Real War –vs– The Illusions

Peter Chamberlin

In the complicated calculus of the men who would plan our destinies for us, if we would only let them, it is often hard to fathom which line of reasoning represents their dominant thinking on any strategic subject.  In Afghanistan and in Pakistan, it is getting harder to distinguish between the minimum acceptable goals for the Empire and less-desirable, though ultimately acceptable conditions for ending the war.  In particular, thinking of the “pipeline wars” (which American corporations seem to be losing, badly), if America is projected to fail miserably in its plans for Central and South Asia, then what secondary objectives is the Empire preparing for the region?

Could it be possible that the rationale for the US terror war is falling apart so quickly since the big production in Abbottabad, that the secondary objective of playing spoiler for the winners in the energy war is replacing the primary mission of Central Asian energy-looting as America’s military solution for economic salvation?  The war itself is unsustainable, absent the collective will of the American people to wage this war without a valid reason, or foreseeable end, the 911 attacks having been replaced long ago with whatever excuse Obama wanted to use as justification.  On top of this, the bin Laden psyop is having the unintended consequence of undermining support for continuing the war and increasing the public uproar to find an end to this war that now has no adversary, in the absence of a terrorist mastermind.  It is slowly winding-down to total defeat for the United States, absent another earth-shattering unifying, “Pearl Harbor-like event” in the near future.  What will the American administration do to sustain this unpopular war?  How far will they go to keep the Afghan/Pakistan war going?

The NATO side is currently still pursuing a policy of faking negotiations with old acquaintances of Mullah Omar, like Tayyab Aga, allegedly discussing reconciliation efforts for harmless “Taliban” (those who are not veteran Taliban fighters).  These fighters are expected to turn-in their weapons for cash, even though the actual Taliban spokesmen for Mullah Omar insist that there will be no negotiations as long as occupation forces remain in Afghanistan.  The US has staked-out the position that those who fought against the coalition government cannot be “reconciled,” meaning that all those who have fought against the American occupation have no other choices but to keep fighting until they die in combat, or turn themselves in for arrest.  The Taliban still insist that there is nothing to talk about as long as the occupation continues.  Mullah Omar has issued hand-written warning notes to local mosques stating that those who negotiate with the Americans are marked for death. There is no room for compromise there for either side.  So what good will it do for US/British negotiators to talk to second or third level Taliban who have no sway with high command?  It is more than likely that all of this reconciliation talk is merely for public entertainment purposes, maintaining popular support for the war and Obama, by pretending that Obama is getting it right and peace may be just around the corner.

It is becoming clear to those who care to look for the truth about the war, that the US never intended to leave Afghanistan, it has always planned to use Afghanistan and Pakistan as a military beachhead into Central Asia (SEE: Neutral Afghanistan serves regional stability).  Every American

spokesperson who has publicly denied these now obvious facts, has been consciously lying to the world, in order to advance this mass deception as far as possible before the American people wake-up.  Researchers and analysts are breaking through the carefully constructed wall of American deception to understand just how cynically American leaders have manipulated Pakistan and India, playing them off against one another in a dangerous game of brinkmanship designed to serve only Imperial ends.

Indian and Pakistani writers have to dig deeper to understand the psyops that are still playing-out along the Durand Line.  They must ask:  How deep does the American deception go, or is everything about this war a deception?  Only then can it become apparent the defensive actions that each nation must take, perhaps in a united action against the Imperial designs.

Indian writer M K Bhadrakumar reports on American attempts to sideline both Afghan and Pakistani governments from any negotiations with the Afghan Taliban (SEE:  CIA instigating mutiny in the Pakistani army), in order to buy time to force an American compromise.  His article offers the following novel explanation of why American leaders would intentionally engineer a risky potential “colonel’s coup” to unseat Gen. Kayani:

“The only way is to set the army’s house on fire so that the generals get distracted by the fire-dousing and the massive repair work and housecleaning that they will be called upon to undertake as top priority for months if not years to come.”

In the opinion of this former Indian diplomat, Washington was actively destabilizing Islamabad, and it was endangering the entire region in order to do it.  A destabilized nuclear sub-continent has always been the implied result of these American machinations.  It is only logical to ask whether this has always been the plan, and for what conceivable reasons?  Did they really believe that they could force both Afghans and Pakistanis to follow orders that would harm their own countrymen, or that their plans would succeed even if they got everything that they wanted from them?  What could American leaders hope to get out of this planned conflagration that they probably could have achieved by less violent, more honorable means?  There is nothing “honorable” about this ongoing thirty-year war.  Our “upstanding” national leaders have always planned to use American military muscle to protect their great redistribution of wealth (the exact opposite of the Marxist concept, the rich get everything), as they looted, raped and plundered the entire world, even our allies.  It is only now, in the end game, when these things are being made clear to all who care to see.

The plan has always been to use American military muscle to create for themselves the power to dictate a political/military solution to the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, by sidelining all the valid neighborhood players, even the Afghan “straw man” government itself, much as it has already done for itself in Iraq.  They have even applied the same time-tested formula for destabilization which was used in Iraq, but without the same results.  The US is no more in position to dictate terms to Afghanistan today than it was ten years ago.  Unlike Iraq, where the “Anbar solution” of tribal militias was field-tested, there are no major differences between Afghans to exploit.  Iraq is nothing like Afghanistan or Pakistan.  Different solutions were required, even though Pentagon and CIA geniuses only knew the one song of divide and conquer.  That is why they have failed so miserably in the Far Eastern war theater.

Since they had only one song and dance routine, the CIA and their ISI counterparts have kept playing on the same theme, in their little war games, intended to hold the attention of  patriotic Americans and Pakistanis.  In Afghanistan, Western powers have manipulated the tribal and national differences by developing the Northern Alliance coalition of Hamid Karzai, which is mostly comprised of Uzbeks, Tajiks and Hazara Shia, as a counterfoil to mostly Pashtun Taliban forces.  The anti-Taliban coalition efforts of a massive nationwide propaganda effort, supplemented with an equally massive program of enormous pay-offs, backed-up by NATO firepower have failed to buy or intimidate loyalty from local warlords or join their forces to the Karzai/Northern Alliance government.

Since Karzai’s reelection, the Western media, politicians and generals have been steadily undermining the support Karzai did have, undercutting his efforts to create a High Peace Council, probably well on their way to grooming his replacement, someone like former Afghan spymaster, Amrullah Saleh, who is already a long-term CIA asset, besides being Karzai’s exact opposite.  Saleh is one of those selected individuals, unfortunate enough to be native to a CIA-targeted country, who was sent to America before 2001, for specialized training by the CIA.  As a top junior aid to legendary Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, he was there in Takhar Province, serving as the CIA liason, when the “Lion of Panjshir” was assassinated on September 9, 2001.  He has been a favorite of the spooks since then, especially after the FBI forced him on Karzai as his new spy chief in Feb. 2004, coincidentally, just one month before Pakistani Taliban founder Abdullah Mehsud was released from two and one-half years at Guantanamo “brainwashing academy” into his custody as Afghan intelligence chief.  The story of the Tehreek e-Taliban Pakistan that he helped to inspire is a tale of grief and double-crossing.  They are the “poison” that was introduced into the Pakistani soil, which Saleh so colorfully described.

The Americans are hedging their bets in Afghanistan, like always, fronting two streams of the Afghan political spectrum at once.  The Karzai/Rabbani alliance is backing the reconciliation talks with the Taliban that could lead to the partitioning of Afghanistan, split between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban in control of the south, in order to facilitate pipeline and development plans for the north.  This is the State Dept. best solution.  This position is allegedly unacceptable to Northern Alliance candidate Saleh, who advocates carpet-bombing Pakistan and night-time Special Forces decapitation raids all the way from Balochistan to Bajaur.  His position is that there can never be victory in the war against the Taliban until their support lines to the Pak Army are cut.  He represents the most radical factions of the CIA, who advocate total war with Pakistan.

In order to dissuade the Pak Army from continuing to support the Afghan Taliban, the CIA master-plotters have created their own versions of “lashkars,” such as the fake Pakistani Taliban, to battle and terrorize the Army and the people of Pakistan.  Since 2003, Musharraf’s generals have been helping him and his successor Gen. Kayani, to revive the defeated Taliban movement as a substitute for concerted, decisive military action against the remnants of “al-Qaeda” and the Afghan Taliban leadership, who had all been allowed to regroup in Waziristan and Balochistan by both the ISI and the CIA.  They originally relocated there from northern Afghanistan in the infamous “Kunduz airlift,” where they were spared from certain annihilation at the hands of Uzbek Gen. Dostum and the Northern Alliance forces.  Once they were flown there, they began to reoccupy the old CIA/ISI training camps there which had formerly been vacated after they were used to drive-out the Soviets.  The IMU terrorists of Tahir Yuldeshev, who were brought across the border with Abdullah Mehsud in his instant army of fake Taliban (composed of Northern Alliance fighters), ran the camps and shared their military expertise with the new Taliban recruits being readied to keep the Afghan conflict going.

Abdullah brought his Uzbek and Chechen fighters to Wana, where they joined-up with Nek Mohammed.  This was long before the Pakistani Taliban began their waves of Pakistani terrorism, when they still had the trust of the real Afghan Taliban.  Because of his trust for new militant leader Baitullah Mehsud, as well as his initial distrust of Abdullah Mehsud, because of the Guantanamo years, Mullah Omar sent his hand-picked emissary, celebrated veteran commander Mullah Dadullah, to bless the Pakistani Taliban union and name Baitullah as its head.  Dadullah oversaw the effort in S. Waziristan, where he had been working closely with Nek Mohammed and his successors, Abdullah and Baitullah Mehsud to develop a formidable new Taliban army of 20,000 fighters or more, including a suicide-bomber academy.  After Dadullah shepherded the Waziri Accord peace treaty between the Pakistani Taliban and the Army on orders from Mullah Omar himself, Dadullah was also targeted for drone assassination, just like Nek before him (even though British Special Forces claim the kill).

Under the command of Baitullah, the Pakistani Taliban (now called Tehreek e-Taliban Pakistan, TTP) unleashed a wave of terror upon tribal leaders, government forces and the mosques of the unbelievers.  At first, this terror was blamed upon the IMU terrorists who had been given shelter by the Mehsud leadership, providing an opening for the Pak Army to introduce a counter-insurgency, in the form of aggressive tribal lashkars of their own.

Local Ahmadzai Wazir militant leader Maulvi Nazir created a lashkar army of 900 heavily armed men, who proceeded to run the IMU terrorists out of his territory around Wana, S. Waziristan.  The Army then began to replicate the lashkar-building process in other towns, hoping to enlist the tribals in a massive show of force to evict the “bad Taliban” and those labeled as “al-Qaeda” from Pakistan.  Nothing much came from the effort, except for a bunch of dead lashkar militiamen.

Needing a concrete strategy to counter US destabilization plans and demands for total war in the Tribal Regions, Pakistan has continued to sell the “good/bad Taliban” theme as a path to eventual “reconciliation,” putting distance between the two groups, so that heavy force could then be used to eliminate the criminal Taliban in successive operations.  But each time that Pakistan made a little headway, lashkar leaders would be eliminated in car-bomb attacks, or by the occasional Predator drone.

Beginning with the massive drone assault in Bajaur, on October 30, 2006, which killed 80 religious students, drone attacks have become the favorite weapon for radicalizing locals and driving them into the eager arms of the Taliban.  This is one of the reasons for believing that American leaders have always secretly supported the formation of militant armies, in order to have someone to fight and to provide valid-seeming reasons for prolonging the war.  Everything they do creates more resistance.

The complex CIA schemes have forced Pakistan to develop its own ISI counter-schemes as a matter of self-defense against American demands to wreck the country and force the Pakistani people into open rebellion against their elected government.  The ten-year deception in Pakistan has gone through many stages, fronted by many separate players, all of them having some stake in the Empire winning the contest. Today in Afghanistan we have an ongoing war, fueled by a series of major deceptions.  The more obvious it becomes that the war is being lost, the more the deceptions will fall apart.  At some point, the lies will fall apart faster than they can be reconstructed in a new form.

In Pakistan, we see at least ten times the number of major deceptions which we can see unwinding across the border.  I guess that this is what they mean by an “intelligence driven war.”  Every interested great power has a game at play now in Pakistan; every interested great power is double-gaming someone else, partners are being made to be cashed-in later, when it will bring the greatest advantage.  Pakistan’s military, the “Establishment” and every one of the many “mafias” (land mafia, gas mafia, etc.) have their own separate games going on, all of them game off each other.  Seeing daylight through this morass of webs of intrigue is almost an impossibility.  It is not surprising that the game-players are having such a difficult time controlling the eventual outcome of this soon to be exploding psychological warfare experiment.

American mind-benders have playing their usual games and inventing a few new ones in their careful efforts to destabilize Pakistan without really upsetting the apple cart, losing control of the situation.  It suits CIA and American military purposes to give the ISI enough rope to hang itself.  This explains why they seem to go along with Pakistan’s generals, even when they are obviously lying or playing games to avoid causing a rupture in relations.  In their international media campaign to embarrass the Pak Army and government, the media-masters are careful to go just so far in slandering them, but not far enough to force negative international reactions.  US leaders understand the close relationship between the ISI and certain militant groups, but, until recently never charged the Army with supporting militants in public.  Since open psychological war broke-out between the two sides in 2008 (SEE:  US/Pakistan Showdown/Throwdown July12), they have maintained a love/hate relationship, creating difficult circumstances for fulfilling contracts and such.  As far as the United States is concerned, Pakistan has a contractual obligation to help eliminate the “al-Qaeda” militants that the US and Pakistan have created together.

For these reasons, the CIA lets the ISI have its Lashkars and its “strategic depth” militants, preferring to seize the opportunity to use the controlled media to weave stories about the Wana battles into tales of “al-Qaeda,” the mythical international terrorist network. Beginning with the story about Mullah Nazir and his battle against the IMU terrorists of Abdullah and Baitullah Mehsud, CIA-sponsored Pakistani and Western reporters have invented stories of “good Taliban” turning against “al-Qaeda.”  (The most reliable of these al-Qaeda story creators was Asia Times reporter Syed Saleem Shazad, the author of the Al-Qaeda/Taliban split story.  Syed worked tirelessly, over several years to weave a tapestry out of whole cloth about the “al-Qaeda” monolith that stood astride the Durand Line, threatening the entire world with “Islamist terrorism.”).

Since its inception, the concept of “good Taliban vs bad Taliban has been fully implemented by both sides, although neither side could agree on whether the “bad Taliban” were those who attacked only Pakistan, or those who attacked only Afghan coalition targets.  It seems that most of the time, there has been no Taliban who attacked both sides, except when the Pak Army gave in to American demands and turned its guns upon its friends.  By cultivating peace treaties and non-aggression agreements with individual tribal groups, Pakistan had developed an equilibrium with the militants, and for short intervals, terror attacks seemed to have almost come to an end—until the Predator assassination campaign began, ultimately destroying any trust, driving tribal fighters by the thousands into the arms of the Taliban.

American drones have consistently targeted those militant leaders and outfits that the Pak Army has chosen to protect under the wing of its “strategic depth” concept.  Both militant and lashkar leaders have fallen prey to drone missiles—the majority of them friends of the Army.  The CIA has intensified the drone attacks as the administration upped the ante, demanding more and more that Pakistan dare not give, since national suicide is out of the question.

The big question then becomes then:  Is Obama willing to accept a partial non-Haqqani offensive against the TTP, the mad dog killers of Col. Imam and Khalid Khawaja, in N. Waziristan, in place of an anti-Haqqani offensive?  Of all the militant groups, the criminal gangs who have attached themselves to the psychopathic killer Hakeemullah Mehsud, heir to all that Baitullah stood for, are by far the most dangerous.  The only explanation for such a grouping of monsters who have never attacked American or NATO troops, is that they consider them to be allies, or at least employers.  If the US would support the elimination of these killers first, as a favor to our struggling ally, then perhaps Pakistan’s influence upon such “Taliban” as Haqqani can help bring the Afghan war to a resolution, if that is what Obama really wants.

If events follow the time-tested patterns of previous Pakistani offensives, then an operation in N. Waziristan would mean another flushing of refugees onto the roadways  and trails of neighboring provinces (overwhelming limited social services wherever they come to rest, Pakistan already has more refugees than any other country).  This will once again demonstrate Pakistan’s basic inability to carry-out the total war actions that the US is demanding from them.  Pakistan doesn’t have either the manpower or the equipment needed to meet national disasters (just like most other nations), nor the capabilities required to eliminate an entrenched heavily armed insurgency.  Will Obama accept this excuse for doing half of what he has demanded, just as Bush eventually did in the past?

The basis of the new great Show seems to be the “Waziristan Accords,” agreements between the Army and the Ahmadzai Wazirs of Mullah Nazir of the South and Uthmanzai Waziris in the North, led by Gul Bahadur.  The agreement allegedly binds the tribes to police their own areas against Mehsuds or foreign terrorists.  The antecedent to this Wazir option is the creation of multiple lashkars amongst the other tribes, even among the Mehsuds, if that is possible, considering the fate of the previous anti-Mehsud Mehsud leader, Qari Zainuddin Mehsud, that might prove to be impossible.

Pak plans to rope in tribals to take on al-Qaeda, according to the Indian press.  If the plan really is to rebrand the Tehreek e-Taliban Pakistan as the new “al-Qaeda,” as the IMU Uzbeks once were, then this might put Pakistan’s generals and American generals on the same page.  Once the offensive actually gets underway it will become obvious exactly who is on what page.  Until then, we will have to get by on the delicious clues given us in Pakistan news leaks, or the latest militant attacks, to try to understand the mindset of the generals on both sides, who continue to run the show.

In light of recent events in S. Waziristan that are described below, it is possible to project the shape of the upcoming offensive: The Army goes after Hakeemullah Mehsud and the foreign terrorists under his protection, demanding from Haqqani lieutenant and local Wazir tribal leader Gul Bahadar that he fulfill his treaty commitments under the Waziristan Accords and actively suppress foreign terrorists, as well as the criminal Mehsuds, if they violate his territory, thus limiting the operating range of fleeing TTP militants (SEE:  Pakistan Using Wazir Tribe of Mullah Nazir to Set-Up Next Psyop):

“The alleged 2007 agreement referred to in [that] report, between Nazir and the govt., allows the Army to wash its hands of the Wana region, making the tribes responsible for keeping-out Uzbeks, Mehsuds, Al-Qaeda and other foreign militants, an impossible task for the outgunned tribes.”

But this plan too, is being undermined by the government leaks that “telegraph” their next moves to the militants, raising lashkars for what is coming next, giving their friends there plenty of time to either prepare or relocate.  It might be that the Army telegraphing its next moves gives Hakeemullah the same opportunity to flee the area before the battle, that it gives to Haqqani.  It is here where the Army will rely upon the new Kurram Treaty to bring Haqqani into action against Hakeemullah in Kurram and perhaps in Hangu, Hakeemullah’s home turf, as well.  We are already seeing an impending confrontation between the two groups over continued TTP attacks upon Shia, in spite of having signed the truce, thus endangering the fragile peace (SEE:  Kurram Agency: Haqqani warns Hakimullah not to ‘sabotage’ peace deal):

“Things have now reached a very awkward point … Haqqani has said some very strong words to Hakimullah: ‘Stop it yourself or my men will make you stop it’.”

It may be that Haqqani also has a personal grudge to settle with Mehsud, over the murder of Col. Imam and Khalid Khawaja, who was highly respected by his father Jalaluddin and by all Afghan Taliban, since Mehsud refused to spare the old jihadi teacher’s life.  If that is the case, then he may be more than willing to help-out the ISI clean-up the mess.

The timing of the events around Col. Tarar’s kidnapping and murder nearly one year later, help to confirm the “rogue” out of control status of Hakeemullah Mehsud, when compared to the Haqqanis.  Ignoring all Haqqani, ISI, or Afghan Taliban pleas, Hakeemullah Mehsud gave the order to kill Col. Imam, which can be seen on YouTube.

(SEE:  Taliban release video of killing of Col Imam).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Taliban release video of killing of Col Imam, posted with vodpod

His body was then dumped in the Danday Darpakhel area of Miramshah on January 23, 2011.  This was clearly intended to serve as a challenge to Haqqani’s authority.  On Jan. 27, CIA agent Raymond Davis shot two ISI agents dead in Lahore.  The Haqqani-backed Kurram peace deal between the Turi tribe and Shia was struck ten days later, on February 3.

On Feb.7, 2010, top Taliban leaders were placed under protective custody (or arrest) in Pakistan, beginning with Taliban number two, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.  As far as can be ascertained, the Mullahs were arrested to stop the previous attempt to initiate secret American/Taliban negotiations—that time they were with Mullah Omar’s actual second in command.

On 2/26/2010, Khalid Khwaja petitioned the Lahore High Court to block US efforts to have the arrested Taliban extradited to Afghanistan and into US custody.

One month later, 03/25/2010, former ISI agent Khwaja was abducted, along with Col. Imam and the British journalist Asad Qureshi, in North Waziristan.  They were allegedly in Waziristan at the insistence of retired generals Beg and Gul, trying to interview Sirajuddin Haqqani and Wali-ur Rahman Mehsud.

The Asian Tiger organization… offered to release them in exchange for three important Afghan Taliban figures — Mulla Abdul Ghani Biradar, Mulla Abdul Kabir and Mansoor Dadullah — presently ‘in the custody of the Pakistan government’. The group didn’t even know that Kabir wasn’t, in fact, in detention in Pakistan.”

Khalid  Khwaja was found dead in Miranshah on April 30, 2010.  Qureshi was ransomed.

The Murder of Col Imam was a turning point for several parties, in many areas of their relationships. The fact that Hakeemullah ignored pleas from fellow Islamist Sirahuddin Haqqani, as well as the ISI, confirms the split between the Pakistani Taliban group and the ISI-supported Afghan Taliban.  Hakeemullah Mehsud and his TTP followers, especially the IMU Uzbeks and the just as radical Punjabi recruits of the Lashkar e-Jhangvi are a criminal/terrorist menace and must be eliminated from Pakistan.  The US military has no intention of helping the Pak Army with this formidable task, such as focusing drone attacks first upon this criminal network, even though it would be a simple task, even considered as an obligation to help an ally and old friend.  The American military is only interested in those fighters in Pakistan who wage war on NATO, not those who choose to fight against Pakistan.  Reciprocity might be the better choice over issuing demands and making ultimatums to Pakistan’s generals.

Col Imam was a bitter critic of the United States which, he said, had left the Afghan mujahideen in the lurch after the defeat of the Soviet forces in the late 1980s.  The CIA hated Imam and the Pakistani Taliban hated him.  When he went to N. Waziristan he was carrying a list of 14 Taliban leaders who worked for India and probably the US.  That list ended-up in Hakeemullah’s hands.  His name was alleged at the top of the list.  Perhaps that was why he had to die.

From the Pakistani press comes the claim that Col. Imam and Khalid Khawaja may have been killed by Ilyas Kashmiri, as revenge for his being tortured by the Army in 2003 for trying to kill Musharraf.  Other elements of the national press claim that the pair were killed for calling the Afghan Taliban mujahedeen and the Pakistani Taliban criminals.

If that was the case then it would justify Pakistan setting Kashmiri up for a drone kill in Wana on June 3.  Unlike the surreptitious drone whacking of Baitullah Mehsud (where ISI allegedly tricked the CIA into striking Baitullah), it appears that a potential joint effort to get Kashmiri may have been conceivable, considering Headley’s testimony about Kashmiri’s connections to the Mumbai attack, made Ilyas Kashmiri an embarrassment for both sides.  Like always, in this tortuously slow dance between Pakistani and American leaders, that has been grinding-on for decades now, at times it is impossible to tell whether the two sides are in almost perfect step with each other, whether they are hopelessly out of sync, or even at times, whether they are moving at all.  Judging by today’s deadly drone strike on Haqqani forces in Kurram, it seems like they might be at odds with each others plans.  Recent reports have revealed that the US is attempting to draw Ibrahim Haqqani into negotiations, even though US drones continue to strike Haqqani targets in Kurram Agency.

Can the Obama team accept Pakistan’s revised game plan and spin it in an effective manner, so that it will fool the yokels back home, even after all the yelling that they have done over North Waziristan?  Or is the great game suddenly no longer about maintaining the illusion?  Has the American/NATO position deteriorated so far down that they must force a “game-changer” upon us all?  Have run up against so many walls that we have given-up entirely upon the American vision for Afghanistan and Pakistan as the new international strategic corridor, the new “Silk Road” to Central Asia?  Is the new intent to simply so destabilize the region that no one else can reap the economic rewards?

There are many good questions here that no one wants to touch, or to see answered.  The questions will answer themselves in short order, whenever it becomes apparent whether Obama opts for Pakistan’s pacification or for its destabilization.  Will he maintain and escalate the state of confrontation until it leads to widespread violence between two old allies, or will he choose to calm things down in Pakistan, even as he risks revealing the American hand and long-term plans for moving into Central Asia?

Perhaps the most important part of this whole new (recycled) psyop is that the Tehreek e-Taliban Pakistan will now play the role of “Al-Qaeda” (SEE:  The CIA/ISI Soap Opera In South Waziristan) for the remainder of this drama.