Pres. Zardari and Karzai Arrive In Tehran In Spite of Washington’s Threats

Zardari in Tehran for tri-lateral talks

By AFP

Plot to assassinate President Asif Ali Zardari uncovered. PHOTO: AFP

TEHRAN: The presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan arrived in Tehran on Friday for a three-way summit with their Iranian counterpart and to attend an anti-terrorism conference, IRNA news agency reported.

The summit to be attended by Presidents Asif Ali Zardari, Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comes as the United States announced that it will draw down by 33,000 its contingent of 99,000 troops in Afghanistan by the end of summer 2012.

Several hundred French soldiers have also been recalled from the country recently.

Britain and Germany, which have the largest presence in Afghanistan after the US, have also declared their intention to reduce their contingent by the end of the year.

Iran has always been hostile to the presence of NATO troops in neighbouring Afghanistan, saying they strengthened terrorist groups such as Taliban and Al-Qaeda more than it weakened them.

Tehran itself suffers from the activities of the armed Sunni Muslim group Jundallah around its border with Pakistan and Afghanistan. Jundallah is on the United States’ list of outlawed terrorist groups.

After the three-way summit, Zardari and Karzai will attend on Saturday an anti-terrorism conference alongside Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Iranian media reported.

Other nations will also attend the conference as observers.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court, which has issued two arrest warrants on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide in the Darfur region, where a bloody conflict has raged for eight years.

Iran, which is on the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism, regularly accuses Israel and the US of plotting terrorist attacks against its territory.

Brigadier held for links with CIA-backed militants

Brigadier held for links with CIA-backed militants

ISLAMABAD – A brigadier of Pakistan Army appointed at General Headquarters was arrested apparently on the charges of having links with a banned militant outfit.
Brigadier Ali Khan, who was appointed at the Regulation Directorate in GHQ back in May 2009, came under the surveillance radar of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) earlier this year, according to sources.
Reportedly, after almost six months of surveillance, the ISI and MI in a joint operation, picked up the brigadier from outside his residence on May 6. The intelligence authorities reportedly ran a check on him after some ‘suspicious’ people were found frequently visiting his home. The call records of Khan’s cell phone confirmed the suspicions of intelligence agencies. Sources said Brigadier Ali Khan was linked to the section of militants that had direct ties with the Central Investigation Agency (CIA) and the military intelligence agencies arrested him to probe this connection. The ISPR only confirmed Ali Khan’s arrest but refused to provide further details. Confirming the arrest, ISPR Director General Major General Athar Abbass said the news was not made public earlier due to pending investigations against the brigadier. Abbas said the brigadier was linked to Hizbul Tahrir, a militant organisation banned by former president Pervez Musharraf in 2003. He said the investigations were at early stages and it was premature to comment any further. He denied any racket of senior military officers having links with militants.
Earlier, talking to a private television channel, Abbas had said Hizbul Tahrir was linked to England, which, according to sources, was a hint at the possible nexus between militants, CIA and officers like Ali Khan. The ISPR DG said no other arrests were made.
The brigadier was reportedly going to retire from his duties at Pakistan Army next month. It is also being probed how a brigadier having linkages with militants got appointed Regulation Directorate, an important military branch that primarily deals with recruitments and human resource issues. Hizbul Tahrir is the same organisation that sends hand-outs and parcels to almost all the journalists of mainstream national media instigating the journalist community to declare ‘Jihad’ against the foreign powers, Pakistani government and Pakistan Army.

Agencies add: “We follow zero tolerance policy of such activities within the military. Therefore prompt action was taken on detection,” Abbas said.
A military official, who declined to be identified, ruled out the possibility of the brigadier’s involvement in any plot. “He just had contacts with the banned group. But he was not involved in any type of conspiracy,” Khan is from a family of soldiers – his father was a junior officer while he has two sons and one son-in law in the Army. His wife Anjum rejected the allegations against him as ‘rubbish’. “Every general knows Brigadier Ali Khan. Even (army chief) General (Ashfaq) Kayani knows him,” she said. “We can never think of betraying the Army or our country. “He was an intellectual, an honest, patriotic and ideological person. It’s a fashion here that whosoever offers prayers and practises religion is dubbed as Taliban and militant,” she said.
A military source told BBC that Gen Kayani had asked for a briefing about the brigadier and after being satisfied about the weight of the ‘evidence’, ordered the arrest himself.
This is not the first time allegations have been made about links between elements in Pakistan’s military and banned organisations, including militant groups. At least two army officers were court-martialled last year for links with the banned Hizbul Tahrir.
Some fear extremist groups like Hizb-ul-Tahrir may have been making inroads into the Army. “What we see is that it is trying to infiltrate the military and wanting to bring some sort of a change through the military and that could be dangerous,” retired general and defence analyst Talat Masood said.
The allegations against the brigadier could show gaps as far as discipline was concerned, he said, but added that it was a positive sign that the Army had found out and taken action. “I think the Army is trying do a clean-up,” he said. “They have realised that otherwise the institution will be undermined.”

Russian Peacemaking In Karabakh to Facilitate Western Pipeline Plans?

Mark Grigorian

Russian service Bi-bi-si

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev (left) and President of Armenia Serzh SargsyanThe leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan are waiting for a decisive step to resolve Karabakh conflict

Meeting of Presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia in Kazan on Friday may be historic, if the leaders of the warring parties signed a document on basic principles of Karabakh conflict settlement.

Kazan talks offer a rare opportunity to initiate a resolution of the conflict that continues more than a decade and claimed the lives of more than 25 thousand people. In the course of armed conflict around one million people were displaced from their homes.

The document, which on Friday put on the table in front of the Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan and Dmitry Medvedev, was the result of four years of negotiations and discussions within the OSCE Minsk Group to mediate in resolving the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

This is one of the few examples of successful cooperation between Russia, the United States and France, who lead the Minsk Group.However, the final decision depends on the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Azerbaijan insists that Nagorno-Karabakh, now controlled by Armenians, as part of its internationally recognized territory. Armenia claims that Nagorno Karabakh will not come back under the control of Baku.

If even in Kazan to sign a document on basic principles for a settlement, it will not end the conflict. On the road to peace in the region have yet to overcome many obstacles.

Diplomatic pressure

The international community does not hide its interest in resolving the Karabakh conflict. Policies of different countries are confident that this will help take some of the tensions in the Caucasus.

Madrid principles of Karabakh conflict resolution include

  • Return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan.
  • An interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh, which provides guarantees of security and self-government.
  • Corridor linking Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.
  • The future determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh through a legally binding will of its people.
  • The right of all displaced persons and refugees to return to their former homes.
  • International guarantees of security, including peacekeeping operation.

If in the process of settlement progress will be fixed, then Turkey may open its border with Armenia closed in solidarity with Azerbaijan, which will greatly facilitate the closer involvement of the South Caucasus countries into the orbit of European politics.

So the pressure on the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia before the meeting in Kazan is growing.

Before the summit, U.S. President Barack Obama called the presidents of two countries – Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan – an appeal to endorse the basic principles of conflict resolution.

A special statement on the need to sign the document by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.

“The document, which will be discussed in Kazan […], is the real basis for moving forward and continuing training for a comprehensive peace agreement”, – assured the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Optimistic and OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut.

“We are very rarely witnessed moments when our hopes for a final peaceful solution to as high as now,” – he said ahead of talks in Kazan.

Pakistan, India assess U.S. withdrawal plans

Pakistan, India assess U.S. withdrawal plans

For neighbor Pakistan, the unexpectedly larger and faster planned troop pullout from Afghanistan is welcome, but for India, which has been cultivating ties with Kabul, any increased instability bodes ill.

TalksIndian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, far right, holds talks on peace and security issues with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir, far left, during a meeting at The Pakistan Foreign Ministry in Islamabad. (Aamir Qureshi, AFP/Getty Images / June 23, 2011)
By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles TimesJune 24, 2011

Reporting from New Delhi—
In Pakistan, the news was generally applauded. The South Asian nation has bridled at U.S. regional influence, CIAdrones in its airspace and what it saw as the American intrusion on its sovereignty in May in the raid that killedOsama bin Laden in the city of Abbottabad.

It shows that America is committed to withdrawing, said Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani lieutenant general and now a military analyst. “That’s welcome in Pakistan. A gradual withdrawal will be helpful for the region.”

A reduced U.S. footprint in the region might allow Islamabadto expand its influence in Afghanistan. It also probably would reduce U.S. pressure on Pakistan to sever links between its security forces and homegrown militant groups, some of whom are viewed by Pakistanis as freedom fighters useful in countering neighbor and longtime rival India.

Many in India, on the other hand, expressed concern that the relatively sharp U.S. withdrawal would raise uncertainty in the region, increasing the risk that militancy in Pakistan and Afghanistan would spill across India’s borders.

India is confident its relations with Afghanistan are solid, and the countries share a distrust of Pakistan’s motives and its bid for enhanced influence in war-torn Afghanistan.

Pakistan will want to ensure that India doesn’t align with Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance, a political rival to tribal groups allied with Islamabad, analysts said. It is also wary of India forming links with groups in southern Afghanistan that might ally with and embolden neighboring Baluch tribesmen seeking independence for Pakistan’s Baluchistan province.

However, India’s ability to counter Pakistani ambitions or otherwise exert its muscle in Afghanistan as U.S. troop numbers decline is severely limited by geography: Pakistan borders Afghanistan; India does not.

Pakistan controls the main road and port access to landlocked Afghanistan, limiting Indian trade links. And Pakistan can block energy pipeline routes to India from Afghanistan and other Central Asian nations.

“There is a limit on what India can do to influence Pakistani-Afghan relations,” said Dipankar Banerjee, a former major general in the Indian army and director of New Delhi’s Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. “And India has to accept those limitations.”

India and Pakistan share an interest in a gradual, measured U.S. withdrawal that gives the region time to adjust and fill the vacuum in an orderly fashion, analysts said. A full-on civil war in Afghanistan would hurt everyone. Nor would Afghans fleeing any such meltdown be as welcome in Pakistan as they were during the 1980s fight against the Soviets, given Pakistan’s economic troubles and domestic terrorism problems.

India and Pakistan also share an interest in limiting the rise of the Afghan Taliban, albeit for different reasons. India is wary of increased Islamic extremism in the neighborhood that could spark another attack like the terrorist assault on the city of Mumbai in 2008, for which it holds Pakistan at least partly responsible. And Pakistan is concerned that a revitalized Afghan Taliban could embolden its homegrown Taliban movement, further complicating its security issues.

mark.magnier@latimes.com

Anshul Rana in The Times’ New Delhi bureau contributed to this report.

Afghan Groups Arming-Up for Next Civil War

Kidnapping and arms smuggling in Afghanistan 

—Musa Khan Jalalzai

Some Afghan experts are of the opinion that several ethnic and sectarian groups of the country distribute sophisticated weapons among their members for the future civil war after the NATO and US withdrawal in 2014. Local militias and political groups have started arming young unemployed men in Badakhshan, Wakhan and among groups settled near China’s border

“Don’t go to Afghanistan if you want to save the money.” These are the words quoted from a recently filed news story of my journalist friend returned from Afghanistan. Over the last three decades of civil war, Afghanistan largely depended on the black market economy, criminal trade, and smuggling of opium, heroin and arms. Drug and arms trafficking business and jihadism left devastating effects on the lives of common Afghans. The recent large-scale transfer of arms to Afghanistan from Central Asia and its distribution across the country is a bigger threat to the stability of the country as these arms may be used in a future civil war against ethnic rivals. From northern Afghanistan, these weapons are further transferred to Pakistan via the Hindu Kush mountainous regions.

In fact, kidnapping for ransom and smuggling of weapons from Central Asia has been a profitable business in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. Some underground groups who enjoy the protection of the Afghan police, intelligence officials and private militias across the country, pick up men, women, children, journalists and businessmen one by one either for the purposes of human trafficking, the organs business or for ransom. Everybody knows who they are and which political or religious group they represent.

Last year, a US embassy report in Kabul revealed that Afghan boys, girls, men and women are trafficked within the country for forced prostitution and forced labour in brick kilns, carpet-making factories and domestic service. In 2010, over 200 men and women were kidnapped by unknown criminals with the help of corrupt Afghan police who have already been involved in the illegal businesses of weapons and ‘China white’ heroin.

Kidnapping and the illegal drug business are the most powerful industries in today’s Afghanistan. Kidnappings are common in many parts of Afghanistan. When the US invaded the country, kidnappings were rare and mostly politically motivated. The average ransom amount was a hefty sum for many Afghans, $ 10,000. In 2011, the rate reached up to $ 200,000. Consequently, these criminals became an influential land mafia, promoted the kidnapping business, and used their purchased empty houses and plazas as temporary prisons for their victims. Hardcore criminal elements from different political and sectarian groups, hired by the land mafia to protect their embezzled estates, have started settling down in urban areas and polluted the local scenario with their criminal activities. They enjoy readymade facilities to carry out their illegal business. These religious and political mafia groups are making millions of dollars from the illicit drug trade, security charges on convoys, extortion and financial contributions from charities and wealthy individuals from various Arab states. The international aspect of this business is that some states do not want the involvement of their political and geographical rival states in the reconstruction of Afghanistan; they are supporting the kidnapping and killing of workers of some reconstruction companies.

The business of kidnapping for ransom supports terrorist Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Afghan and Pakistani criminal groups involved in kidnapping for ransom in Afghanistan, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are financially aiding the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban networks. In Punjab, one of my police officer friends told me in a telephonic conversation that some 100 to 150 people are being kidnapped in the province every month. “We have reports that groups involved in the ransom business have links with the Taliban of Waziristan and Afghanistan-based militants,” he told me. These underground and open groups have spawned an epidemic of ransom kidnappings.

In the Afghan capital, hundreds of people are being kidnapped every year. These criminals who enjoy the support of the Taliban, killed many captives when demands for ransom went unmet. We still remember the brutal killing of a British woman kidnapped for ransom in 2011, because most criminal groups’ kidnappings end either in the payment of a ransom or the death of the hostage. The money these groups retrieve from this business goes into the pockets of four categories of people. The first group is the Taliban who help them in kidnapping locals and foreigners, the second is the corrupt officials of the Afghan police, the third is elements in the Afghan intelligence and the fourth group that receive its share is the private warlords’ militias.

Another formidable aspect of the business is that as these groups belong to sectarian and political parties of Afghanistan, they spend a lot of money on the purchase of weapons from across Central Asia and Iran. Some Afghan experts are of the opinion that several ethnic and sectarian groups of the country distribute sophisticated weapons among their members for the future civil war after the NATO and US withdrawal in 2014. Local militias and political groups have started arming young unemployed men in Badakhshan, Wakhan and among groups settled near China’s border. Ethnic thugs in northern provinces have been terrorising opponents, extorting money, demanding sanctuary, and kidnapping for ransom. Some military experts understand that the weapons they purchase go into the hands of Pakistani Taliban groups in Waziristan and the FATA regions. Improvised explosive devices smuggled into Pakistan have become an effective weapon against civilians in the country.

Heartbreaking reports recently revealed the illegal weapons business in northern Afghanistan. Local criminals, police and intelligence officials are jointly running the profitable business of sophisticated weapons in Kunduz, Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Takhar, Balkh, Samangan, Parwan and Baghlan provinces. A police commander from Afghanistan told me that smugglers use the Darqad Pass between Tajikistan and the northern Afghan province of Takhar for weapons smuggling. Military experts understand that this is a crucial stage for preparation of forces for a future civil war in the country.

A source in the Afghan interior ministry told me that police vehicles are being used in narcotics and weapons smuggling across the country. Military relations among Afghan and Tajik and Uzbek Islamist insurgents from Central Asia are friendly. Afghanistan shares porous borders with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which are used by some subversive elements to smuggle weapons into the country. These elements will be helpful in igniting the fire of civil war in Afghanistan.

The writer is the author of Britain’s National Security Challenges and Punjabi Taliban. He can be reached at zai.musakhan222@gmail.com

Cuba Still Fighting American Destabilization Efforts After All These Years

Informatics War: Destabilizing Technology

By Néstor Núñez/ ACN.It is not new for the Cuban people that Washington is now carrying out an informatics war with sophisticated technologies aimed at destabilizing the Revolution in addition to the already existent economic, financial and commercial blockade against the island.

Years ago different means were used to undermine the Revolution, like invisible ink or transmitting stations disguised in a variety of things or anything that could be brought in to the island without being detected.

Other things also included were introducing explosives to the island for terrorist activities, like the case of the bombs placed in Cuban tourism installations which were organized by terrorist Luis Posada Carriles using mercenaries mainly from Central America.

On the other hand, during a recent television series on Cuban TV on aggressive activities organized in Washington against Cuba, the program demonstrated US attempts to introduce sophisticated communication devices capable of outwitting all detection mechanisms dedicated to transmitting information outside the island and the reception of messages, instructions and subversive materials from abroad.

As usual, technology in the hands of the aggressors to the North preferably point to the most repulsive objectives.

According to recent reports from the New York Times, the “US government is going ahead with the construction of what is called ghost networks “to protect and conceal ways of communication for the so called dissidents abroad.

The test project has apparently been applied in Afghanistan at a cost of 50 million dollars aimed at establishing independent cell telephone networks capable of not being detected by the current systems of control and security.

According to the same source, up until the end of the year, the Barack Obama will add another 70 million dollars to similar projects, disguised under the old concept of adding “new efforts” in “promoting freedom of expression and democracy” worldwide.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the efforts lies in giving security and stability to communication traffic to the so called dissident groups and achieve expanding their messages and criteria.

Imperialism’s objectives have not changed which is to dominate the world, beyond figures, smiles and the color of the skin of the high ranking dignitaries.

‘Army to leave Fata when tribals take responsibility’

‘Army to leave Fata when tribals take responsibility’

 

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani shaking hand with a cadet of the Cadet College Wana.-APP

LADDAH: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said on Thursday that army would be withdrawn from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) when tribal people were able to take up their responsibilities.

Addressing separate jirgas of Ahmadzai Wazir and Mehsud tribes in Wana and Chegmalai areas of South Waziristan, he said the army had played an important role in eradicating militancy and restoring peace in the region.

Pakistan has deployed over 100,000 regular and paramilitary troops in Fata to flush out the Taliban from the area.

The army chief blamed foreign elements for the situation in Fata. He said: “The army will leave the area when tribesmen are capable of fulfilling their responsibilities.”

Under the Frontier Crimes Regulations, tribal people have certain responsibilities, including protection of roads, government installations and officials and keep their areas clear of anti-state and anti-social elements.

He inaugurated the Wana Cadet College and performed ground-breaking ceremony of Wana-Angoor Adda Road. He said the road would help to boost trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan.