German police clash with thousands blocking nuclear train

German police clash with thousands blocking nuclear train

DANNENBERG: German police battled thousands of anti-nuclear protestors Sunday, many chained to railroad tracks, who have caused delays as they try to block a train carrying radioactive waste.

The convoy taking the German waste on a 1,200-kilometre (750-mile) journey from a reprocessing centre in northwestern France to a storage facility in northern Germany was stopped for 18 hours, including overnight, amid mass demonstrations.

Thousands of activists swarmed the tracks along the route near the train’s final destination in Dannenberg and boasted that the odyssey’s duration had now topped the 92-hour record set during a shipment one year ago.

Police said they detained about 1,300 people, including some who had chained themselves to the railway, requiring tricky and time-consuming operations to free them before the train could slowly rumble on.

Some 150 people were injured in clashes, most of them demonstrators, according to security forces quoted by German news agency DPA.

The waste, produced in German reactors several years ago and then sent to France for reprocessing, began its journey in a yard operated by French nuclear company Areva in Valognes, Normandy Wednesday.

The protestors argue that the shipment by train of spent fuel rods is hazardous and note that Germany, like the rest of Europe, has no permanent storage site for the waste, which will remain dangerous for thousands of years.

They are also angry that a pledged German phase-out of nuclear power, hastily agreed this year in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, will take another decade to implement.

“It’s like a friend telling you that he will stop smoking in 10 years,” said Jochen Stay, spokesman for the anti-nuclear body Ausgestrahlt (Radiated), which has mobilised protesters against the shipment. “You are not going to congratulate them just yet.”

At the train’s final destination of Dannenberg, the 11 containers of waste are due to be unloaded onto trucks for the final 20-kilometre leg of the journey by road to the Gorleben storage facility on the River Elbe.

Organisers said about 23,000 protestors had gathered in Dannenberg, while police put the number at 8,000. About 20,000 police have been deployed along the train’s German route.

The demonstrators had travelled from across Germany as well as from Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Italy, organisers said.

The train’s disputed load represents “44 times Fukushima”, according to ecology group Greenpeace, which said a single container could unleash “four times the radioactivity released” by the stricken Japanese nuclear reactor. The bulk of the protests have been peaceful. (AFP)

The great game is to avoid war in Iran

The great game is to avoid war in Iran

No other sphere of Russia’s foreign policy is subject to such wide-ranging scrutiny as Moscow’s policy towards Iran.

The great game is to avoid war in Iran

Source: Drawing by Andrey Popov

Conservative American analysts in think-tanks such as the Heritage Foundation often view Russia as a tacit ally of Iran, turning a blind eye to its dangerous nuclear programme and ignoring the Iranian regime’s aggressive form of Islamist fundamentalism.


Israeli government officials, when visiting Moscow, persistently point to the divergence of Russia’s national interests with those of Iran, citing Russia’s own troubles with Islamist fundamentalism in the North Caucasus and, earlier, in Central Asia and Afghanistan. Obviously pursuing their country’s national interest, those Israeli officials believe in the possibility of a return to the very cold peace that existed between the Soviet Union and Iran in the Eighties, when Moscow was very wary of the effect of Ayatollah Khomeini’s teachings on its Muslim minorities.

So what is the Russian authorities’ attitude now? And where does Russia’s national interest in the Iranian question lie? The truth is that the Kremlin has been sending out a whole array of signals on the issue, some of which are contradictory. On the one hand, Russia stopped selling or transiting any kind of weapons to Iran, fulfilling UN resolution 1929, which was adopted in June 2010. This meant cancelling the contract to ship S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran, which could have helped the Iranians to challenge Israel’s superiority in the air. On the other hand, Russia finished the construction of the nuclear power station in Bushehr. Where is the logic?

Actually, the logic is very simple: Russia is concerned about Iran’s nuclear programme. It has no sympathy for Islamist fundamentalism but, considering Iran is right next to Russia’s border and to the borders of Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic with a several million-strong Azeri minority in Iran, it is extremely keen to avoid a war breaking out on its doorstep. It is not too difficult to guess in which direction the Azeri minority would flee from Iran in the event of it being turned into a war zone. Azeris are already the biggest Muslim minority in Russia.

Hence Russia’s strong desire to see Iran at peace with other countries and to have a peaceful nuclear programme. Incidentally, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Iran is a signatory, obliges nuclear powers to help non-nuclear countries to develop the peaceful use of atomic energy. The balancing act between Iran and the West, which Russia has to perform, however, is becoming more and more difficult. It should be said that Iran has shown remarkable restraint in its reaction to a number of regional wars in which Russia has been a party in recent years. Unlike certain Western circles, Iran never provided help to anti-Russian mudjaheddin in Afghanistan or to the Chechen rebels, and it stayed largely neutral in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, despite an obvious temptation to show solidarity with its 
Muslim brothers.

Tehran’s restraint in Russia- related issues is ever more laudable, since Iran historically has had little positive sentiment about Russia. Modern Azerbaijan had for centuries been a part of the Iranian empire, and Georgia was in its zone of influence until the Russian tsars wrestled the territories away from Iran in the early 19th century. In his childhood, Ayatollah Khomeini was a witness to the joint Soviet-British occupation of Iran in 1941. But despite the troubled history, Iran’s rhetoric on Russia is in most cases less critical than that of some members of the EU .

The recent Western interventions in Iraq, and even more recently in Libya, make Russia suspicious of what lies behind Western hostility towards Iran. Iranian restraint in Afghanistan and the Caucasus makes Russians somewhat sceptical about the information on Iran’s support for extremists in the Middle East – a region which is becoming more and more distanced and estranged from Russia. Hence Russia’s unwillingness to see Iran condemned and punished by the West according to the Iraqi or Libyan scenario.

Dmitry Babich is a political analyst at RIA Novosti.

‘Unprovoked’: DGMO gives details of aerial assault

‘Unprovoked’: DGMO gives details of aerial assault

The two helicopters had pulled back midway through giving the impression the attack had ended, but returned for another attack that night. PHOTO : FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Nato attack on two military check posts in the Mohmand Agency early Saturday morning was an “unprovoked act of blatant aggression,” said the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Major General Ishfaq Nadeem on Tuesday, adding that all options remained open to the  government and the military. “The final decision rests with the prime minister.We are considering a range of options,” he told journalists at a briefing, adding that the military will have its input into the decisions taken.  A review of the incident is under way at the GHQ, he said.

The DGMO said he was not authorised to comment on what specific counter measures were being considered to cope with such situations in the future and added these would be finalised after the completion of the continuing investigation into the incident.

He went into comprehensive detail about the sequence of events known so far, explaining that a check post code-named Volcano first came under attack at around 15 to 30 minutes after midnight. A nearby check post, code-named Boulder, responded with 12.7 mm anti-aircraft weapons and mortars after the Volcano check post came under attack from gunship helicopters.

Subsequently, check post Boulder also came under attack and all communication was lost with both check posts. But before communication was lost, company commander Major Mujahid headed for Volcano and Boulder to investigate and was killed as the helicopters re-engaged. Amongst the 24 men killed that night was also Captain Usman who leaves behind a widow and a 3-month-old baby daughter.

The DGMO said the two posts were located at a place from where there has been no cross-border infiltration, though militant attacks from the other side had been continuing. Settled villages were two-three kilometres away from the posts and the posts themselves were about 300-400 metres inside Pakistan borders.

The two check posts, he maintained, could not be mistaken for militant sanctuaries because the other side had been provided all available information about the number of Pakistani posts and their locations. The men at the posts were uniformed and the posts were well-defined. The DGMO further said the Pakistan Army believed that Nato was monitoring the transmissions that night and knew they had hit Volcano checkpost.

The posts were being manned by the experienced and battle-hardened 7-AK battalion which was equipped with both line and wireless communications equipment, but armed for dealing only with militant activity but not repelling an aerial assault. “The troops are geared for fighting terrorists and not border security,” he said.

The Pakistan Army maintains an 8,200 man presence in Mohmand Agency following military operations to clear the region of militants, with 29 border checkposts in along the border while there are only 14 on the Afghan side, manned predominantly by Afghan police. A total of 820 check posts are maintained in the tribal belt along the border.

By 1 a.m. all channels of communications with the other side were activated and the helicopters were pulled back. But as Pakistani troops moved from one post to the other to assess the damage and aid the injured, the helicopters reappeared and pinned them down. Some 26 artillery airbursts were fired by the Pakistani side and the engagement lasted until 0215.

Answering a question, he said the civil authorities including the president, the prime minister and the foreign and defence ministers were informed in the “morning” about the incident which began around midnight and lasted for two hours.

The reason for the implied delay in informing the civil authorities, he said, was because a complete picture had not emerged until daybreak.

It was clear from General Nadeem’s briefing that there was misleading information being provided to the Pakistan military from the start. Just before the attack, a Pakistani officer at the regional tactical center was informed by an American sergeant that their special forces had received indirect fire from Gora Pai, located some 15 kilometres away from Volcano post. And after 7 minutes, a woman officer informed him that the fire had, in fact, come from Volcano, which had been hit in retaliation.

The DGMO was dismissive of previous joint inquiries conducted into three earlier incidents. “There have been joint inquiries and they all came to naught. They give a version not based on facts as we know them,” he said, adding that Pakistan did not initiate firing at any point that night.

The DGMO listed the standard operating procedures that exists in the border coordination mechanism that entails sharing information on impending operations in advance, particularly if these operations come within two kilometers of the border; to immediately communicate if one side comes under fire with the responsibility to take action from the country from where the attack originated; and cessation of fire when communication established. “All SOPs were violated that night,” said General Nadeem.

He further elaborated that while the helicopters intruded into Pakistani airspace on an intermittent basis, supporting jets did not enter Pakistani airspace.

The central question remains why the Pakistan Air Force did not respond immediately to the attack. General Nadeem said there was “a haze” at the time, adding Pakistan Air Force interceptors did not scramble when the two helicopters from the other side violated the border, because initially it seemed the violation was only marginal.

Furthermore, according to him, the two helicopters had pulled back midway through giving the impression the attack had ended, but returned for another attack.

AVM (retd) Shahzad Chaudhry told Express Tribune that “the air force could have scrambled but you have to decide if you want a shooting war with America. With only 200-300 meters between the border, our jets would have entered Afghanistan. It is the consequences you have to live with.”

(Read: A grave crisis in Pakistan-US relations)

Published in The Express Tribune

India tastes a big slice of Afghan pie

India tastes a big slice of Afghan pie

Hamid Karzai

New Delhi, Nov. 28: The Hamid Karzai government today awarded an Indian consortium mining rights to develop three of the four blocks of Afghanistan’s huge Hajigak iron ore deposits, signalling a greater role for Delhi in the war-torn country.

Till now, India has mainly focused its aid to Afghanistan in developing smaller infrastructure projects like culverts and roads.

Sources said the contract awarded to the Afghan Iron and Steel Consortium (AFISCO), led by state-run steel maker SAIL, had the potential to become the landlocked country’s single-biggest foreign investment project.

In a statement, Afghanistan’s ministry of mines said the development of the blocks was “expected to bring billions of dollars in mining investment and thousands of new jobs to Afghanistan”.

The statement said the companies had also “pledged substantial support for railway, power, and other infrastructure development within the country, as well as major support for education and training programmes”.

The Hajigak blocks, in the mountainous Bamyan province 130km west of Kabul, are one of Asia’s largest iron ore deposits that are yet to be mined. According to a 1960 estimate, the blocks hold an estimated 1.8 billion tonnes of iron ore.

The contract came within a month after Delhi and Kabul signed a strategic partnership agreement on Indian investments in the Afghan mining sector. According to the announcement, the consortium has been awarded the rights to blocks B, C, and D, with block A going to Canadian firm Kilo Gold Company.

Sources said the Indian consortium — which also includes the National Mineral Development Corporation, Monnet Ispat and Energy Limited, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited, JSW Steel Limited, Jindal Steel Power Limited and JSW Ispat Steel Limited — could invest $6 billion in the mines, construct a steel plant and a railway network.

The development, unlikely to be welcomed in Islamabad which resents closer Delhi-Kabul ties, signals a much greater role for India in Afghanistan in the years to come, particularly after the scheduled departure of Nato forces by 2014.

However, it would also mean more Indians will have to be sent to Afghanistan at a time violence in the region has peaked.

Over the past couple of years, Delhi had looked to scale down its investments in Afghanistan because of terror attacks that targeted Indian interests. India has already pledged $2 billion in Afghan infrastructure and development projects, including erecting a new parliament building.

BBC taken off air in Pakistan by cable operators

[You can see Secret Pakistan at YouTube.  I have watched most of it and it is a typical BBC hit piece, done to smear Pakistan as being to blame for everything America has done wrong in Afghanistan.  Part II is more chest-thumping over the alleged “bin Laden raid.”  BBC and Reuters always handle the character assassination work for the Empire.  This is nothing new.  It is good to see them lose their foothold in Pakistan.]

BBC taken off air in Pakistan by cable operators

The operators named BBC News as one of the channels to be closed down.

Popular British news channel, BBC World News was taken off air by a number of Pakistani cable television operators late on Tuesday after proclaiming to ‘ban’ the channel for airing anti-Pakistan programming following a NATO air strike on a Pakistani border check post that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The All Pakistan Cable Operators Association (APCOA), a body of cable tv operators, held a press briefing in Lahore where they demanded the country’s primary electronic media regulator, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to revoke landing rights to BBC.

APCOA chairman, Kamran Arain said “we want to send them a strong message to stop this. If they don’t stop this, then it is our right to stop them,” referring to pulling the channel off from their cable networks.

The operators say that the move is in response to a documentary broadcast by the channel, entitled Secret Pakistan.

Other foreign TV channels found guilty of broadcasting “anti-Pakistan” content will also be blocked, they threatened.

The BBC said it was deeply concerned by the move, and called for its channel to be speedily reinstated.

“We condemn any action that threatens our editorial independence and prevents audiences from accessing our impartial international news service,” a BBC spokesperson said.

“We would urge that BBC World News and other international news services are reinstated as soon as possible.”

However, the channel was off air soon after the APCOA press conference was over.

@KurtAchin, Voice of America’s Bureau chief stationed in Islamabad tweeted:

“BBC signal just disappeared in my Islamabad office, following Pakistani cable operators to cut signal over “anti-Pakistan” programming”.

@norbalm, a Karachi based Security Risk Manager tweeted:

“BBC and FOXNEWS off on Worldcall in Karachi now

Another tweeter, @evo8X8 k wrote:

“my cable operator takes CNN, BBC, & FOX now off… enter AL-JAZEERA”

Though some suggested that it was not a uniform ban with

@asmiather tweeted:

“well on my cable even Fox news is coming so is BBC & sky news & RT @SaadParacha: @FoxNews is on”

The source of the ban

A two-part BBC documentary, “Secret Pakistan“, questioned the country’s commitment to tackling Taliban militancy. It furthered festering Pakistani anger towards the west after a NATO air stirke on a Pakistani border check post killed 24 soldiers.

It argued that some in Pakistan were playing a double game, quoting US intelligence officials as saying that they acted as America’s ally in public while secretly training and arming the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The decision to block BBC World News and other international news channels comes after a media uproar in Pakistan over a Nato air strike that killed 24 Pakistani troops near the Afghan border at the weekend.

Read more: natoattack


US and Pakistan Enter the Danger Zone

US and Pakistan Enter the Danger Zone

By M K Bhadrakumar

The air strike by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at the Pakistani military post at Salala in the Mohmand Agency on the Afghan-Pakistan border Friday night is destined to become a milestone in the chronicle of the Afghan war.

Within hours of the incident, Pakistan’s relations with the US began nose-diving and it continues to plunge. NATO breached the ”red line”.

What is absolutely stunning about the statement issued by Pakistan’s Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DDC), which met Saturday at Islamabad under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani is that it did not bother to call for an inquiry by the US or NATO into the air strike that resulted in the death of 28 Pakistani soldiers.

Exactly what happened in the fateful night of Friday – whether the NATO blundered into a mindless retaliatory (or pre-emptive) act or ventured into a calculated act of high provocation – will remain a mystery. Maybe it is no more important to know, since blood has been drawn and innocence lost, which now becomes the central point.

At any rate, the DDC simply proceeded on the basis that this was a calculated air strike – and by no means an accidental occurrence. Again, the DDC statement implies that in the Pakistan military’s estimation, the NATO attack emanated from a US decision. Pakistan lodged a strong protest at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels but that was more for purpose of ‘record’, while the “operative” part is directed at Washington.

The GHQ in Rawalpindi would have made the assessment within hours of the Salala incident that the US is directly culpable. The GHQ obviously advised the DDC accordingly and recommended the range of measures Pakistan should take by way of what Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani publicly called an “effective response.”

The DDC took the following decisions: a) to close NATO’s transit routes through Pakistani territory with immediate effect; b) to ask the US to vacate Shamsi airbase within 15 days; c) to “revisit and undertake a complete review” of all “programs, activities and cooperative arrangements” with US, NATO and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), including in “diplomatic, political and intelligence” areas; d) to announce shortly a whole range of further measures apropos Pakistan’s future cooperation with US, NATO and ISAF.

No more doublespeak
The response stops short of declaring the termination of Pakistan’s participation in the US-led war in Afghanistan (which, incidentally, is the demand by Pakistani politician Imran Khan who is considered to be close to the Pakistani military circles). In essence, however, Pakistan is within inches of doing that.

The closure of the US-NATO transit routes through Pakistan territory may not immediately affect the coalition forces in Afghanistan, as it has built up reserve stocks that could last several weeks. But the depletion of the reserves would cause anxiety if the Pakistani embargo is prolonged, which cannot be ruled out.

Therefore, the Pakistani move is going to affect the NATO operations in Afghanistan, since around half the supplies for US-NATO troops still go via Pakistan. An alternative for the US and NATO will be to rely more on the transit routes of the Northern Distribution Network [NDN]. But the US and NATO’s dependence on the NDN always carried a political price tag – Russia’s cooperation.

Moscow is agitated about the US regional policies. The NATO intervention in Libya caused friction, which deepened the Russian angst over the US’s perceived lack of seriousness to regard it as equal partner and its cherry-picking or “selective partnership”.

Then, there are other specific issues that agitate Moscow: US’s push for “regime change” in Syria, the US and NATO appearance in the Black Sea region, continued deployment of US missile defense system, and the push for US military bases in Afghanistan. In addition, Moscow has already begun circling wagons over the US “New Silk Road” initiative and its thrust into Central Asia.

The future of the US-Russia reset remains uncertain. Washington barely disguises its visceral dislike of the prospect of Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin following the presidential election in March next year. Short of bravado, the US and NATO should not brag that they have the NDN option up their sleeve in lieu of the Pakistani transit routes. The Pakistani military knows this, too.

Equally, the closure of the Shamsi airbase can hurt the US drone operations. Pakistan has so far turned a blind eye to the drone attacks, even conniving with them. Shamsi, despite the US’s insistence that drone operations were conducted from bases in Afghanistan, surely had a significant role in terms of intelligence back-up and logistical support.

By demanding that the US vacate Shamsi, Pakistan is possibly shifting its stance on the drone attacks; its doublespeak may be ending. Pakistan is ”strengthening” its air defense on the Afghan-Pakistan border. Future US drone operations may have to be conducted factoring in the possibility that Pakistan might regard them as violations of its air space. The US is on slippery ground under international law and the United Nations Charter.

A Persian response
The big issue is how Pakistan proposes to continue with its cooperation with the US-NATO operations. Public opinion is leaning heavily toward dissociating with the US-led war. The government’s announcement on the course of relations with the US/NATO/ISAF can be expected as early as next week. The future of the war hangs by a thread.

Unlike during previous phases of US-Pakistan tensions Washington lacks a “Pakistan hand” to constructively engage Islamabad. The late Richard Holbrooke, former special AfPak envoy, has become distant memory and special representative Marc Grossman has not been able to step into his shoes.

Admiral Mike Mullen has retired as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is now a ‘burnt-out case’ embroiled in controversies with the Pakistani military. Central Intelligence Agency director David Petraeus isn’t terribly popular in Islamabad after his stint leading the US Central Command, while his predecessor as spy chief and now Defense Secretary Leon Panetta always remained a distant figure.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is a charming politician, but certainly not cut out for the role of networking with the Pakistani generals at the operational level. She could perhaps offer a healing touch once the bleeding wound is cleansed of dirt, stitched up and bandaged. And US President Barack Obama, of course, never cared to establish personal chemistry with a Pakistani leader, as he would with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Now, who could do that in Washington? The horrible truth is – no one. It is a shocking state of affairs for a superpower with over 100,000 troops deployed out there in the tangled mountains in Pakistan’s vicinity. There has been a colossal breakdown of diplomacy at the political, military and intelligence level.

Washington trusted former Pakistani ambassador Hussein Haqqani almost as its own special envoy to Islamabad, but he has been summarily replaced under strange circumstances – probably, for the very same reason. At the end of the day, an intriguing question keeps popping up: Can it be that Pakistan is simply not interested anymore in dialoguing with the Obama administration?

The heart of the matter is that the Pakistani citadel has pulled back the bridges leading to it from across the surrounding crocodile-infested moat. This hunkering down is going to be Obama’s key problem. Pakistan is boycotting the Bonn Conference II on December 2. This hunkering down should worry the US more than any Pakistani military response to the NATO strike.

The US would know from the Iranian experience that it has no answer for the sort of strategic defiance that an unfriendly nation resolute in its will to resist can put up against an ‘enemy’ it genuinely considers ‘satanic’.

The Pakistani military leadership is traditionally cautious and it is not going to give a military response to the US’s provocation. (Indeed, the Taliban are always there to keep bleeding the US and NATO troops.)

Washington may have seriously erred if the intention Friday night was to draw out the Pakistani military into a retaliatory mode and then to hit it with a sledgehammer and make it crawl on its knees pleading mercy. Things aren’t going to work that way. Pakistan is going to give a “Persian” response.

The regional situation works in Pakistan’s favor. The recent Istanbul conference (November 2) showed up Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran sharing a platform of opposition to the US bases in Afghanistan in the post-2014 period.

The Obama administration’s grandiose scheme to transform the 89-year period ahead as ‘America’s Pacific Century’ makes Pakistan a hugely important partner for China. At the very minimum, Russia has stakes in encouraging Pakistan’s strategic autonomy. So does Iran.

None of these major regional powers wants the deployment of the US missile defense system in the Hindu Kush and Pakistan is bent on exorcising the region of the military presence of the US and its allies. That is also the real meaning of Pakistan’s induction as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is on the cards.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

Turkmen President Orders Man To Choose Prison, or Surrender Dog for Execution

[The moral is–don’t walk your pets on the main streets of Turkmenistan.]

Man forced to choose prison or death of pet dog

For residents of Ashgabat, capital of one of the world’s most bizarre dictatorships, taking the dog for a walk has become a dangerous pastime. Earlier this month, a pet-lover was walking his dog through the streets of Turkmenistan’s capital late one evening, when he was suddenly surrounded by police, pushed to the ground, and dragged off to the local police station.

According to police, the cortège of the country’s leader, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, had been speeding along a nearby boulevard, which in Turkmenistan means that the streets are cleared of cars and people for several blocks around. The unfortunate dog-walker had strayed into a restricted area, and the police soon told him that an order had come from the top – either they could shoot the dog, or the man would have to go to prison for two weeks. Unable to pronounce the death sentence on his pet, the man agreed to prison.

The story, which was recounted on an independent website run by Turkmen émigrés, is hard to verify, as there are no free media in the country. But the incident would fit with an apparent pathological hatred of household pets on the part of Mr Berdymukhamedov, detailed in an American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks last year.

The cable recounted an incident where a cat ran in front of the presidential motorcade. The President was so angry that a top military official was fired. The Turkmen press has also reported an extermination drive to remove stray dogs and cats from the capital on his orders.


To get around Pak blockade, US eyes other supply routes

“the average cost of hauling a 20-foot container on NDN truck and rail routes between April and September was $12,367. The cost was about $6,700 per container on the Pakistan route.”

[The closing of Pakistani transit for NATO will cause the price of every container shipped to double, over the NDN.  In the face of our collapsing economy, has the Pentagon shot itself in the foot, by allowing itself the satisfaction of a two-hour air assault upon a Pakistani check post, even a C-130 gunship was called in at one point?  This was a helluva costly way to make a point (SEE: This is a clear-cut case of the Pentagon sabotaging the White House).]

To get around Pak blockade, US eyes other supply routes

Uttara Choudhury 

New York: Supply trucks for US-led forces in Afghanistan lined Pakistani roads near the border, after Islamabad retaliated against US strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers by sealing its Afghan border. The Pentagon said on Monday that the blockade had not unduly impacted the US war effort.

US military officials said they had enough stockpiles in Afghanistan to maintain operational capability if Pakistan opted to keep the border crossings into Afghanistan closed. The US military is also looking at alternative supply routes that don’t rely on Pakistan.

“There are other supply routes,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters on Monday. “The war effort continues.”

On the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, NATO supply trucks idle after Pakistan sealed the border. Shahid Shinwari/Reuters

According to a Bloomberg report, US-led forces in Afghanistan get 35 percent of “non-lethal” supplies like food and fuel via Pakistan supply routes. Alternative routes are being investigated in Russia and Central Asia, according to US General William Fraser.

The US military and its allies may have to rely more heavily on the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), a key gateway for military equipment. The NDN comprises rail and truck routes cutting across several countries in Europe and Central Asia. It already accounts for about 40 percent of US cargo deliveries into Afghanistan and 52 percent of all coalition cargo, according to US Transportation Command officials.

The US has also been exploring other Europe-based ways to get deliveries to Afghanistan. Earlier this year, “US cargo planes delivered weapons and other supplies from Romania to test whether an airport near the Black Sea could serve as another piece in solving the logistical puzzle of getting gear into Afghanistan,” reported Stars and Stripes.

Although alternatives supply routes exist, they come at double the cost. The US Transportation Command’s back of the envelope calculation showed that in 2011, the average cost of hauling a 20-foot container on NDN truck and rail routes between April and September was $12,367. The cost was about $6,700 per container on the Pakistan route.

India’s Sneaky Plan To Ignore Iran Sanctions, Activate Chabahar, Take Advantage of Pakistan’s MFN Designation

[Since India considers itself a new superpower it thinks that it can do whatever it wants.]

Iran, India Move on Chabahar Transportation Project

TEHRAN (FNA)- Senior Indian officials arrived in Tehran to finalize a joint working group on the Chabahar Port project, which includes construction of a strategic railway.

Iran’s Southeastern Chabahar Port, which is New Delhi’s strategic link to Afghanistan-Pakistan region, is just 72 km West of Pakistan’s Gwadar port which is being built by China. 

Making investments in the Chabahar Port on the Sistan-Balouchestan province in Iran will give leverage to India in the region and by making it as an important transit link it will give India an access to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Eurasia thereby reducing the landlocked Kabul’s utter dependence on Pakistan. The Chabahar Port project is set to bypass Islamabad. 

India’s shipping secretary K Mohandas is in Tehran push the plans ahead. The Mohandas-led delegation is the first such high-level team visiting Iran over the port in a while. His visit will conclude on November 30. 

Iran believes that this port collaboration between Delhi and Tehran is the “minimum” that is necessary between the two countries for the development of the people and the region. 

Chabahar could be a “multimodal link” port as the Chabahar-Bam link will help in establishing link to Russia via Iran. 

Iran, India Move on Chabahar Transportation Project

TEHRAN (FNA)- Senior Indian officials arrived in Tehran to finalize a joint working group on the Chabahar Port project, which includes construction of a strategic railway.

Iran’s Southeastern Chabahar Port, which is New Delhi’s strategic link to Afghanistan-Pakistan region, is just 72 km West of Pakistan’s Gwadar port which is being built by China. 

Making investments in the Chabahar Port on the Sistan-Balouchestan province in Iran will give leverage to India in the region and by making it as an important transit link it will give India an access to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Eurasia thereby reducing the landlocked Kabul’s utter dependence on Pakistan. The Chabahar Port project is set to bypass Islamabad. 

India’s shipping secretary K Mohandas is in Tehran push the plans ahead. The Mohandas-led delegation is the first such high-level team visiting Iran over the port in a while. His visit will conclude on November 30. 

Iran believes that this port collaboration between Delhi and Tehran is the “minimum” that is necessary between the two countries for the development of the people and the region. 

Chabahar could be a “multimodal link” port as the Chabahar-Bam link will help in establishing link to Russia via Iran. 

“Al-CIA-da” Fills Void Left By CIA Network Elimination In Lebanon, Fires Katyusha Rockets Into Israel

[Hezbollah cleans-out the nest of CIA spies, after first cleaning-out the Mossad network–all that is left for the spooks to do is to activate one of their “al-Qaeda-linked” terrorist outfits to fire into Israel.]

Group linked to al-Qaeda takes responsibility for rocket fire


The Abdullah Azzam Brigades have taken responsibility for the launch of rockets from southern Lebanon towards Israel. The group are recognized as an off-shoot of al-Qaeda in Lebanon.

In a statement the organization said: “The Rocket unit of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades bombed the settlements of the Zionist enemy in northern Palestine. The rockets hit their targets.” (Roi Kais)

Mumbai attacks: India names judicial panel for joint probe with Pakistan

Mumbai attacks: India names judicial panel for joint probe with Pakistan

Three years after the siege which rocked Mumbai, Pakistan and India will cooperate with each other to record statements of prosecution witnesses. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Three years after the siege that rocked Mumbai, India has finally nominated a judicial commission to work with the Pakistan government to investigate the attacks on its financial capital.

Indo-Pak officials will for the first time cooperate with each other to interrogate Ajmal Kasab and record statements of prosecution witnesses residing in India, The Express Tribune has learnt. M Azhar Chaudhry, nominated as special prosecutor by the Pakistan government for the Mumbai terror case, will head a three-member team of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The team will leave shortly for India accompanied by defence counsels of the men nominated in the Mumbai assault case in Pakistan, revealed interior ministry sources declining to be identified.

The FIA will submit a letter by the Indian government before Justice Shahid Rafique, judge of an anti-terrorism court hearing the case in Rawalpindi, on Tuesday (today). In compliance with the anti-terrorism court’s order, a judicial officer at Mumbai will be nominated to record statements of prosecution witnesses or those imprisoned in India , states the letter issued by the Indian home affairs ministry and forwarded to the FIA through Pakistan’s High Commission in India.

Ajmal Kasab, the lone gunman caught alive after the attack, is imprisoned in a high-security cell in Mumbai. Chaudhry told The Express Tribune he had attributed the delay in the conclusion of the trial – more than 14 months – to the Indian government during the last hearing of the case. “The Indian government has been slow to nominate a judicial commission and to send copies of documentary evidence to FIA despite repeated requests.”

The judicial commission is expected to take statements from the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate RV Sawant Waghule and Investigating Officer Ramesh Mahale, who recorded Kasab’s confessional statement. It is also likely to record the statement of the doctor who carried out the post-mortem of the terrorists killed during the siege, sources revealed.

Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna, on the eve of the third anniversary of 26/11, had said India is waiting for Pakistan to act “decisively” after providing it with evidence against perpetrators in Pakistan.

The Indian foreign minister had said, “The use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy has no place in today’s world and is self-destructive. I think the evidence provided by the ministry of home affairs would be sufficient for any normal civilian court to prosecute the people involved in the conspiracy and the perpetrators of this crime.”

On Friday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik had asked India to provide “credible evidence” against the perpetrators. He said Pakistan did take action against Hafiz Saeed and others based on information provided by India but the suspects were released by the courts because it did not count as legal evidence. “Pakistan is ready to take action on information shared by India, provided it is acceptable in court.”

Published in The Express Tribune

Pakistan to boycott Bonn conference over Nato attack

Pakistan to boycott Bonn conference over Nato attack

A meeting of the federal cabinet in progress. — Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan decided Tuesday to boycott a key international conference on Afghanistan next month, ramping up its protest over lethal cross-border Nato air strikes that have plunged US ties into deep crisis.

The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting in Lahore, just days after Islamabad confirmed it was mulling its attendance in the German city of Bonn, where Pakistan’s participation was considered vital.

“The cabinet has decided not to attend the Bonn meeting,” a government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The prime minister’s office said the cabinet agreed that “unilateral action” such as Saturday’s strike in the tribal district of Mohmand and the May 2 US killing of Osama bin Laden near the capital was “unacceptable”.

US-led investigators have been given until December 23 to probe the attacks, threatening to prolong significantly Pakistan’s blockade on Nato supplies into Afghanistan implemented in retaliation for the killings.

The US military appointed Brigadier General Stephen Clark, a one-star air force general based in Florida, to lead the investigation into the attack.

The team, set to include a Nato representative, is yet to arrive in Afghanistan but an initial military assessment team went to the border at the weekend after Saturday’s catastrophic strike killing 24 Pakistani troops.

The Afghan and Pakistani governments are also being invited to take part.

Russia Dispatching Admiral Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier In Flotilla of Warships to Syrian Base

Russia Sending Warships to Syrian Base


Russia is sending a flotilla of warships to its naval base in Syria in a show of force that suggests Moscow is willing to defend its interests in the strife-torn country as international pressure mounts on President Bashar Assad’s government.

Russia, which has a naval maintenance base in Syria and whose weapons trade with Damascus is worth millions of dollars annually, joined China last month to veto a Western-backed UN Security Council resolution condemning Assad’s government.

The Izvestia newspaper reported on Monday, citing retired Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, that Russia plans to send its Admiral Kuznetsov flagship aircraft carrier, along with a patrol ship, an anti-submarine craft and other vessels.

“Having any military force apart from NATO is very beneficial for the region because it prevents the outbreak of armed conflict,” Kravchenko, who was navy chief of staff from 1998 to 2005, was quoted as saying by Izvestia.

A navy spokesman quoted by the newspaper confirmed that the Russian warships would head to the maintenance base Russia keeps on the Syrian coast near Tartus, but said the trip had nothing to do with the uprising against Assad.

The paper said the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier would be armed with at least eight Sukhoi-33 fighters, several MiG-29K fighters and two helicopters.

It will also have cruise and surface to air missiles, the paper said.

A navy spokesman was not available to comment.

Yegor Engelhart, an analyst with Moscow-based defense think tank CAST, said Moscow did not want its position to be ignored while the Assad government was under pressure.

“At the very least, Moscow wants to show that it is willing to defend its interests in Syria,” he said.

Russian officials say the naval base at Tartus, Syria, is used for repairs to ships from its Black Sea fleet, and Izvestia said about 600 Russian Defense Ministry employees worked there. There are currently no Russian ships there, the paper said.

Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, abstained from voting on a resolution that paved the way for Western military intervention in Libya but later criticized the mission saying NATO overstepped its mandate and interfered in a civil war.

Russia said it lost of tens of billions of dollars in potential arms deals with Moammar Gadhafi’s fall and is loath to lose another customer in the region. Syria accounted for 7 percent of Russia’s total of $10 billion in arms deliveries abroad in 2010, according to CAST.

Moscow has traditionally used what influence it still has in the Middle East as a lever in diplomatic maneuvering with Europe and in particular the United States, Moscow’s Cold War foe.

Arab League sanctions and French calls for the establishment of humanitarian zones in Syria have increased international pressure on Assad to end bloodshed that the United Nations says has left 3,500 people dead during nine months of protests against his rule.

Russia Considers Blocking NATO Supply Routes

[The rapidly unfolding situation is starting to tilt the scales in Russia’s favor.  Without secure routes in the north or Pakistan to push around anymore, a Russia embargo on overflights or rail shipments would really put NATO over a barrel.  Perhaps then, Obama would play nice with Iran, in order to open the Indian/Iranian route to Charhabar.  This is the path Obama should be considering, one which heals the last thirty years of cold war with Iran.  If every major power in the neighborhood has its own nuclear weapons then so should Iran.  How ridiculous is it that Obama and Hillary are trying to sell their Silk Roads plan without Iran, a primary component of the original Silk Route?  We are witnessing another grand testing of wills between Russia and the West, another Georgian war type of event.  

Danger, Will Robinson!]

Russia Considers Blocking NATO Supply Routes



MOSCOW—Russia said it may not let NATO use its territory to supply troops in Afghanistan if the alliance doesn’t seriously consider its objections to a U.S.-led missile shield for Europe, Russia’s ambassador to NATO said Monday.

Russia has stepped up its objections to the antimissile system in Europe, threatening last week to deploy its own ballistic missiles on the border of the European Union to counter the move. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization says the shield is meant to thwart an attack from a rogue state such as Iran, that it poses no threat to Russia, and that the alliance will go ahead with the plan despite Moscow’s objections.

If NATO doesn’t give a serious response, “we have to address matters in relations in other areas,” Russian news services reported Dmitri Rogozin, ambassador to NATO, as saying. He added that Russia’s cooperation on Afghanistan may be an area for review, the news services reported.

Threats to the NATO supply line through Russia come at an awkward time for the alliance. NATO has become increasingly reliant on the Russian route as problems in Pakistan—its primary supply route—have escalated. Over the weekend, Pakistan closed its border to trucks delivering supplies in response to coalition airstrikes Saturday that killed 25 Pakistani soldiers.

NATO began shipping its supplies through Russia in 2009, after the so-called reset in relations between Moscow and the U.S., allowing the alliance a safer route for supplies into Afghanistan. But U.S.-Russian relations have been strained lately by the approach of elections in both countries. In the past week, the Kremlin has sharply stepped up its anti-Western rhetoric ahead of parliamentary elections on Dec. 4.

Ivan Safranchuk, deputy director of the Moscow-based Institute of Contemporary International Studies, said Russia is unlikely to cut off the flow of NATO supplies to Afghanistan as an immediate response to missile-defense decisions. But Russia does want its objections to the missile shield to be taken more seriously, he said.

“If the U.S. is not responsive, then a cutoff could be a reality at some point,” Mr. Safranchuk said. “Russia would like the U.S. to be more serious about Russian concerns.”

Write to Alan Cullison at

This is a clear-cut case of the Pentagon sabotaging the White House

This is a clear-cut case of the Pentagon sabotaging the White House

Peter Chamberlin
Nangarhar is the secured province that is being turned over to Afghan forces, where the border incident has erupted.  The attack upon Pakistan was intended as a demonstration for the world to see the dangers of an early Afghan transition and withdrawal.  What else could explain this Afghan unit gaining command over Nangarhar Province on the same day that calls for air support inside Pakistan have become necessary?  This is a clear-cut case of the Pentagon sabotaging the White House.  It is also the first sign of what post-reconciliation ISAF actions will look like, under a Northern Alliance-dominated Afghan regime.  Since the murder of Rabbani, Afghan security officials have been screaming in unison for this day to come–

“The Taliban can only be defeated by attacking them in Pakistan.”

According to former head of Afghanistan’s secret service, Amrullah Saleh, “You poison the soil where that grass is, then you eliminate it forever.”  This is what has happened on Pakistan’s side of the Durand Line, the Pakistani Taliban from Mohmand (who have relocated to Afghanistan) have poisoned the Pakistani soil  by firing upon Afghan forces from points near outpost Salala’s coordinates, in order to bring the two sides together inside Pakistan.  This is not the first time that the Pakistani Taliban have used this tactic to bring the Afghan and Pakistani forces together.  They used it preceding the “Battle of Wanat” and once again in the “Gora Prai” border post assault.  In the Gora Prai video below you can see the individual militants being killed. 

The Gora Prai video is from a single Predator; it pales in comparison to the latest assault which allegedly involved repeated runs of aircraft and helicopters, over a period of several hours. 

The following was sent to me by a friend from Peshawar.  It is self-explanatory.   

“Another pack of Lies By NATO

 Today’s papers carry the news that the NATO Chief has said that the  attack on Pakistani soldiers was un-intentional. Very generous of him!!
 Yesterday, I talked to Lt Col ZZZZZZ from Peshawar. He had just visited CMH Peshawar to meet the wounded in Salah Post by the US/ATO raid on night of 26 November. This is what he told me.
 There were 14 wounded lying in the surgical ward suffering a variety of wounds. He talked to every one of them and asked them what had happened. The crux of the account of the soldiers and officers was that at about 11pm on 26th Nov a light aircraft came from across the border, flew over the post and fired flares and returned. About half an hour later armed helicopters and light aircraft came . They again fired flares and began firing at the men. They remained in the area for about 5 – 6 hours. During this time, the helicopter firing at individual personnel at will. The post had only one 12.7 anti-aircraft gun which opened fire. The gunner was shot. The major on the post took up the gun and began firing at the helicopters. He was fired at again. While changing position he was hit by a rocket or missile. His body was blasted to pieces. Only his name-plate was found.
Every one of the men on the post was killed or wounded. They seemed to be in no hurry and going after each individual separately. Having finished the entire post, they peaceably went back without any casualty on their part.
 And the NATO Chief has the effrontery to say that it was un-intentional.
 Now my question is, if for 5 to 6 hours this enemy action was taking place and our ground troops were under such deliberate enemy fire, where was the Army’s reaction and where was the PAF during all this time?I cannot believe that the Corps HQ or the PAF Northern Command in Peshawar did not know what was going on,on the front. If so, both should be disbanded for deliberate incompetence.”

The biggest question is–Why did the joint military commands allow the attack to happen, or make no effort to end it?

If the dust was allowed to settle on this confrontation, then it would surely reveal that it was the TTP bringing Afghan and Pakistani forces into conflict, which they would be inclined to do, considering the level of penetration of the Pakistani Taliban by British, Afghan, and American secret services (SEE: Dissecting the Anti-Pakistan Psyop).  Through these separate assets, plus those of India and the Mossad, the Pakistani Taliban have always danced to the same tune as the CIA.  This does not necessarily mean that Hakeemullah Mehsud (and Baitullah before him), Faqir Mohammed and Fazlullah are conscious American assets, but that they might as well be.  If they are so foolish as to be led around by the nose by spook money, doing the Empire’s bidding, then they are nothing more than petty mercenaries, pretending to be revolutionary jihadis. 

This attack can be compared to the Mumbai attack, in that Pakistani jihadis have taken actions which were intended to bring Pakistan into conflict with one of its neighbors.   The last time it was India’s turn.  Indian leaders kept a cool head, at that time, avoiding another major war with Pakistan, to suit American interests.  Will Afghan leaders use their heads, to see this blow-up as their own warning to turn back from the pied piper’s road to oblivion, before it is too late for us all?

Nangarhar ready for security transfer

by Abdul Moeed Hashmi on 28 November, 2011 – 18:36

JALALABAD (PAN): Officials and tribal elders on Monday said the eastern province of Nangarhar was ready for security transition, stressing the need for increasing the strength of Afghan security forces.

Afghan forces will take over the security responsibility in 18 more areas in the second phase of transition. The forces will take full control of Balkh, Daikundi, Takhar, Samangan, Kabul and Nimroz provinces.

The cities included in the second phase of transition include Jalalabad, Chaghcharan, Shiberghan, Faizabad, Ghazni, Maidan Shahr and Qala-i-Naw. Helmand districts Nawa, Nad Ali and Marja are also to change hands.

In Nangarhar, Jalalabad, the provincial capital, Kama, Behsud, Khewa and Surkhrod districts would be handed to Afghan forces. Surkhrod district chief, Syed Ali Akbar Sadat, said they were ready for the handover, but the inadequate police strength posed a problem.

Governor Gul Agha Sherzai had discussed the issue with civil and military officials, his spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai said, adding the provincial capital is ready for the transfer.

“Foreign soldiers disrespect our traditions and we no longer need them,” Wilayat Khan, a tribal elder from Behsud, told Pajhwok Afghan News. The district had only 50 policemen, he said, asking the government to increase their number.


Censored! There are no poor people in Saudi Arabia

Two young Saudi bloggers were sent to jail for fifteen days after uploading a ten-minute documentary on poverty in Riyadh, the capital of one of the richest petro-states in the Gulf.
Firas Buqna and Hussam Al-Darwish posted the video on YouTube on October 10. The fifth episode of their Web TV show “Mal’oub Alen” (“we’re being duped” in Arabic) touched on the living conditions of people in the poor neighbourhood of Al Jaradiya, on the outskirts of Riyadh.


In the report, Buqna is shocked by the relative poverty of the neighbourhood, where he comes across children “who are barefoot and don’t own any shoes.” Of the three neighbourhood residents that Buqna interviews, one “earns only 1,300 dollars (945 euros) to support his two wives and 11 children. Another resident supports 20 people with just 666 dollars (484 euros) a month.
Buqna and Al-Darwish denounce the stereotype of the wealthy, SUV-driving Saudi, explaining that 89% of the country’s citizens live in debt. The bloggers question why residents of such a wealthy country are slipping through the net and living in poverty. They point out that over the past 27 years Saudi Arabia has donated 56 billion euros to developing countries, while 22% the the country’s own citizens were reportedly living in relative poverty in 2009 (local media put the number at 30% in 2008).
Vodpod videos no longer available.

poverty in saudi arabia, posted with vodpod

The young bloggers’ video did not go down well with authorities. Six days after they posted the video online, Buqna and Al-Darwish were arrested and interrogated by the police. They were released two weeks later, on October 31. The exact reasons behind their arrest remain unclear.
However, the controversy generated by their arrest has drawn over a million viewers to their online video.

“Poverty is an open secret in Saudi Arabia”

Rachid M. (not his real name) is a blogger; he lives in eastern Saudi Arabia.

There are more and more poor people in Saudi Arabia, and the middle class has all but disappeared. It’s an open secret in the kingdom.
I don’t live in Riyadh and have never visited the neighbourhood of Al Jaradiya, but in the east of the country where I live, there are far poorer neighbourhoods than what Firas Buqna showed in his video. The fact that there are a lot of oil wells in the area changes nothing. Comparing the poorest areas of Saudi Arabia with Somalia, as Buqna does at the beginning of his documentary, makes sense. There are people who live in terrible conditions, on the streets or under makeshift tents.
Poverty was officially recognised for the first time during a visit by Ali Al-Namia, the former minister of social affairs, in the neighbourhood of Al Shamishi in Riyadh in November 2002. He went with King Abdullah, who was still crown prince at the time. The footage was aired on state television. At the time, authorities decided to create a national solidarity fund. But that wasn’t enough to stop poverty from spreading. Wealth is very badly distributed in our country, and corruption is also rife [in 2010, Saudi Arabia ranked 50th in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index list].
Official media outlets have addressed the problem in a very superficial way. They present poverty as if it affected only an isolated few and not entire swaths of the population, in one of the richest oil nations of the world.
Poor families do get government aid, but they receive symbolic amounts which absolutely don’t allow these people to meet all their needs. Not to mention the maze of bureaucratic red tape they have to go through to receive this aid. What’s more, this aid is granted only to people who have no other source of income. Low-income working families aren’t entitled to it.
“We think they were arrested because they caricatured a commonly-used phrase that honours the King”
There are several reasons for which the two bloggers may have been arrested. According to another famous blogger, nicknamed Saudi Jeans, authorities may not have liked the fact that their video was picked up by a foreign-based opposition TV network. Others think authorities were angered by the videos’ direct, defiant tone. But most people think that what got them into trouble was the fact that they caricatured a commonly-used phrase that honours the King (‘We are fine, we hope you are too’ in Arabic). The beginning of the video shows several wealthy Saudis in a large, elegant car saying ‘We are fine ,’ then a small boy from the neighbourhood of Al Jaradiya saying ‘We are not fine’.
Others think the motive of their arrest was to scare young Saudis, who increasingly use social media and new technologies to express themselves and voice criticism of the government and the country, sometimes beyond the limits imposed by authorities.”

Firas Buqna posted this photo of himself on Twitter after he was freed from prison.

At Tahrir Square, they chant ‘Erha’–(Leave)

Egypt goes to polls today

At Tahrir, they chant ‘Erha’


Protestors hold a large national flag with Arabic writing that reads,
APProtestors hold a large national flag with Arabic writing that reads, “Jan. 25 revolution, Egypt,” in Tahrir Square in Cairo, on November 25, 2011.

If the popular upsurge in Cairo sweeps away the military establishment, the U.S.’ strategy to harness the Arab Spring will have to be reworked all over again.

The events unfolding in Tahrir Square in Cairo are epochal. A cross section of the Egyptian society — youth, intellectuals, workers, Islamists — has converged on Tahrir. Their demand resonates in a single word: “Erha! (Leave!”). It is a call to the remnants of the authoritarian system of the Hosni Mubarak era to quit, so that Egypt’s incomplete revolution of February can be successfully rounded off. A bloody crackdown seems no more sustainable.

The protestors are demanding that the military should return to the barracks from where they marched out into the civilian world nearly six decades ago in 1952 under the charismatic leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser. However, as of now, the military continues to probe where the fault lines run within the opposite camp. The political discourse principally dwells on the supremacy of elected civilian governments in a democratic environment. In a manner of speaking, it is a strain of the regional malady of a civil-military “imbalance” that has its roots in the political culture that Turkey spawned. The Egyptian military demands a “Turkish model” of democratic governance. Surely, Turkey cannot influence the course of events in Egypt, which is an ancient nation that is disdainful of Ottoman claims to grandeur. All the same, the “Turkish model” bears some scrutiny in the emergent context in Egypt.

Turkish model

The “Turkish model” rejected the concept of civilian supremacy in a democracy. The civilian governments exercised no control over the military, while the latter claimed to be the Praetorian Guards of the state founded by Kemal Ataturk. The military incessantly invoked Ataturk’s legacy to insert itself into the making of national policy and repeatedly intervene to change elected governments it didn’t like. The present government headed by Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, who is an immensely popular figure, has asserted civilian supremacy and much depends on how he follows through by rewriting the Turkish constitution and making the democratisation of the Turkish state a fait accompli. The Turks accept that the answer to their country’s problems may lie in having more democracy and the unparalleled economic prosperity also gives them a belief in the brave new world.

Suffice to say, Turkey’s democratisation process is happening within a certain uniquely “Anatolian” environment, so to speak. A major factor has been that Mr. Erdogan’s reform programme was necessitated by the accession requirements for European Union membership and, thus, it bore the imprimatur of the western liberal democracies (which also raised its comfort level for Turkey’s western-minded elites). An engrossing detail of much consequence has been the stance taken by the United States, which was largely helpful. Washington could have incited the pashas to shake off the harness that Mr. Erdogan put around their necks. But it didn’t.

How this intriguing performance can quite repeat ditto over Egypt is the big question. The mass upsurge in Tahrir demanding vacation of the political space by the Egyptian military junta puts the Barack Obama administration in a tight spot. The U.S. wields enormous clout over the Egyptian top brass, given the $1.5-billion military aid that it provided annually to Cairo ever since the Camp David accord and the umbilical cords that tie the Egyptian military establishment to its U.S. (and Israeli) counterparts.

The top echelons of the Egyptian armed forces are weaned in the American military academies and have vested interests in the perpetuation of the close links with the Pentagon. (Like the Turkish pashas, Egyptian generals also maintain a lavish lifestyle, which they won’t easily give up.) Clearly, Washington has good enough reasons to trust the Egyptian military leadership to continue with the same old regional policies that Cairo dutifully pursued under Hosni Mubarak.

On the contrary, the political forces clamouring from the barricades in Tahrir stand beyond the pale of U.S. influence. The spectre that haunts the U.S. is that in a free election, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood may win the most seats in a new parliament. Although there are low-key contacts between the U.S. and the Muslim Brothers, a “constructive engagement” is yet to mature and Washington cannot but be concerned about the policy orientations of any civilian government that emerges in Cairo in the present circumstances. Thus, Washington took a safe stance of calling on both sides — military junta and the unarmed protestors — to show “restraint.”

Autocratic regimes

A host of contrarian trends comes into play. Arguably, the U.S. comprehends that the legitimacy question involving the Middle Eastern autocratic regimes lies at the core of the region’s instability. The U.S. is also capable of the requisite pragmatism to deal with the forces of Islamism if that serves its geopolitical interests. A lot of ground has been covered in the recent period in building contacts with various Islamist groups in the Middle East. In Tunisia, the U.S. acquiesced with the ascendancy of Ennahda. Washington didn’t lose sleep over the Islamist elements within the Libyan opposition; it trusted Doha to duly “handle” them (which it is doing). Nor is the U.S. perturbed that the intelligence agencies of close allies like Saudi Arabia and Jordan are actively financing and assisting violent Islamist elements in their campaign to overthrow the Syrian regime. Even in Afghanistan, if only the Pakistani ally could put together the broth, U.S. officials would readily sup with the Haqqanis.

Broadly speaking, the Islamist forces in the Middle East are home-grown movements with popular base and it is only through an inclusive approach of accommodating them can political stability be ensured on an enduring basis. Thus, the U.S. is showing political realism selectively by exploring the possibilities that may exist in trying over time to influence (or corrupt — depending on one’s point of view) the ideology-based Islamist groups and get them to abandon the straight path rooted in the dogmas of justice and resistance. The U.S’ Persian Gulf allies have shown remarkable genius to bring money power into play in the politics of Islamism in the Middle East — especially Qatar, which is today punching far above its weight in Libya and Syria. Ironically, it is here that the Islamists of Turkey may offer a role model in the politics of Islamism — how to gracefully succumb to the persuasions of “green money.”

Tehran issue

On the other hand, the U.S. also needs to weigh in certain compelling, near-term considerations affecting the geopolitics of the region: the likely policies of a future democratic regime in Cairo on the Egypt-Israel peace accords and the security cooperation between the two countries; Cairo’s dealings with Hamas and other “non-state actors” and its stance on the Palestine problem and the Arab-Israeli conflict; and, the likelihood of a warming up of ties between Cairo and Tehran. The last one is particularly crucial since the containment of Iran lies at the core of the U.S’s Middle East strategy, whereas the prevailing Egyptian popular opinion (Islamist and secular alike) happens to be to seek to normalise ties with Iran. The Egyptian Islamists and secularists also lack the appetite for playing sectarian Sunni-Shi’ite politics, which, in turn, would present a level playing field for Iran in Cairo under a democratic dispensation.

Most important, Egypt is the “brain” of Arabism and what happens in Cairo in the coming days — with the revolutionary fervour resurging, reclaiming lost territory and restoring primacy in the political discourse — is going to impact profoundly on the politics of the entire region. Actually, Turkey has been a mere pretender to claim the status of a role model in the Arab world. The plain truth is that Egypt never vacated its leadership even in the darkest years since the Camp David accords and that is also how the Arab world is watching the events unfolding in Tahrir — be it in the borderlands of Yemen or Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. In sum, the U.S. strategy to harness the Arab Spring within a new political framework aimed at perpetuating the western regional hegemony in the Middle East in a manner that doesn’t appear to be overbearing needs to be reworked all over again if the popular upsurge in Cairo sweeps away the Egyptian military junta.

On the Middle Eastern landscape, an epochal break with the past through a popular upsurge happened only once in the recent decades — in Iran in 1978. And the results were disastrous for the U.S’s geostrategy. Unsurprisingly, there is great uneasiness in Washington. But Tahrir offers a brilliant opportunity for the Barack Obama administration to showcase its regional policy. On the Arab street, all eyes are trained on Washington.

The odds are that Mr. Obama is tempted to grasp the nettle and take up the challenging offer by the Muslim Brothers to be held accountable and wedded to democratic intentions and religious tolerance. Of course, it needs a leap of faith on Mr. Obama’s part, But more than that, as a politician seeking re-election himself, his main worry narrows down to how the Israeli Lobby and the Republicans would forgive him for being party to the rise of the Muslim Brothers to power in Egypt.

(The writer is a former diplomat.)

NATO supply stopped permanently

NATO supply stopped permanently

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Sunday said that the supply of NATO has not been suspended rather it has been stopped permanently. Talking to reporters at National Crisis Management Cell of Ministry of Interior, he strongly condemned the NATO attack on Pakistani forces.

“NATO force should respect feelings of Pakistani nation.” He said the nation and the government were aggrieved on the death of 24 officials of Pakistani security forces in the wake of NATO aggression on Salala post in Mohmand Agency. He said the decisions of the Defence Cabinet Committee (DCC) on the NATO forces attack inside Pakistan would be implemented in letter and spirit. “The decisions of the DCC are final and would be implemented,” he added.

The minister said that NATO containers, which have been stopped, would not be allowed to cross the Pak-Afghan border. Malik said that the democratic government of Pakistan would not take dictation from anyone. Referring to security arrangements for Muharram, he said the security arrangements for the month of Muharram have been completed and foolproof security would be ensured across the country to maintain the sanctity of the holy month. He informed that the Rangers and police have been deployed in sensitive areas of Punjab, while the Army would maintain peace and order in Sindh during Muharram, adding that the Sindh police have been given extra powers to maintain law and order in the province.

NATO Air Assault Went On for Two Hours

NATO airstrike was not provoked: Army

RAWALPINDI: Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas while speaking to Geo News denied reports that Pakistan provoked the attack by firing first and said if this was the case then ISAF and NATO should provide proof of it.

Abbas said initial reports indicate that two check posts were attacked by NATO.

According to Abbas, the attack lasted for almost two hours during which ISAF was informed.

The army spokesman also said that Mohmand Agency, where the attack took place had been cleared of terrorists and this had been communicated to ISAF.

Abbas added that investigations into the attack were underway and a future course of action would be decided after their completion.

Afghanistan: US Strategy in Conflict with Indian Interests

Indian interests in Afghanistan and the region as a whole do not find importance in the US strategy in this part of the world. As a matter of fact the strategy not only ignores but also does not conform to those interests. For all its pronouncements to the contrary, the essential objective of the Obama Administration in Washington is to strike a deal with the ISI and its strategic assets, the Taliban and Haqqani network.

The New Silk Route concept disclosed by the US Secretary of State in Chennai last July is the central point of the deal. Islamabad should pacify the Pathans. In the bargain, Central Asian minerals, hydrocarbons, and other resources and goods will flow to Pakistani ports as well as a diverse range of machinery, electronics and garments in the reverse direction. Pakistan is to get huge invest-ments in its communications and infrastructure thereby helping it to flourish enormously.

As for New Delhi, it will be a mute spectator, just a bystander. The US is quite voluble in claiming that it is eager to help India and Pakistan normalise mutual trade and at the same time assist in opening the land routes to Central Asia for the benefit of the Indian business community. In reality Washington will be more than satisfied if the current tragi-comedy of granting or not granting MFN status to India continues interminably in Islamabad.

That is not all. With American backing the ISI is bound to get the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. In this scenario what is most likely to happen is the following: whenever New Delhi seeks to press Islamabad to call a halt to the unending waves of terror from across the border, the Pakistani Generals would stop the delivery of gas under one technical reason or another. No international consortium would be in a position to take punitive financial measures against them. However, in the process all Indian industries and power stations utilising Turkmen gas would remain almost perm-anently dysfunctional. Such an apprehension is not a mere figment of imagination in the present setting.

The ulterior motive of Washington becomes increasingly transparent if one takes note of the fact that the US meanwhile is effectively blocking India’s only reliable route to Afghanistan and the former Soviet Union—the one through Iran. This is how the US aims to further its nefarious designs to the detriment of the interests of India in particular as well as those of other friendly states in this country’s neighbourhood.

Militants attack NATO oil tankers in Pak, 5 killed

Militants attack NATO oil tankers in Pak, 5 killed


ISLAMABAD: Militants in Pakistan on Friday carried out two separate attacks on vehicles carrying fuel for NATO and US forces inAfghanistan, killing five persons and injuring several others.

In the first attack, a group of about 20 militants fired rockets at nearly 40 oil tankers parked at two petrol stations in Shikarpur, a city in southern Sindh province, officials said.

Many tankers caught fire during the attack. Police sources said at least three people died due of burn injuries while three others were injured.

The dead and injured were sleeping in the tankers. Drivers and police officials said 28 tankers and two roadside petrol stations were destroyed in the attack early this morning.

A truck driver and his assistant were burned alive in the second attack on an oil tanker in the parking lot of a restaurant at Khuzdar in southeastern Balochistan province, police said.

The tanker caught fire after it was attacked by several armed militants.

No group claimed responsibility for both attacks. In both incidents, the attackers managed to escape. Police briefly exchanged fire with the attackers in Shikarpur, officials said.

Taliban militants regularly attack NATO supply trucks and oil tankers in parts of Pakistan, particularly the troubled Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in the northwest and southwestern Balochistan, both bordering Afghanistan.

This was the first time that such an attack was carried out in the interior of Sindh province.

In June, around 60 NATO supply trucks were destroyed and eight drivers were killed in a major attack near the federal capital Islamabad.

In April, four policemen were killed as 12 NATO trucks were burnt in eastern Punjab province.

Officials say nearly 70 per cent of NATO supplies and 40 per cent of its fuel requirements are shipped via Pakistan for some 160,000 US-led troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistani authorities yesterday blocked oil tankers and trucks carrying NATO supplies at a check point bordering Afghanistan.

The blockade came shortly after NATO helicopters attacked a Pakistani border check post in Kurram tribal region and killed three Pakistani soldiers and injured three others, sources said.

No reason was given for the blockade in Khyber Agency. However, sources said it was a reaction to the NATO air strikes in Pakistani territory.

NATO helicopters have launched four attacks in Pakistan this week, sparking strong condemnation by Islamabad.

NATO has defended the attacks and a spokesman in Kabul said the action was taken in self-defence as militants had attacked a post in Afghanistan.

The Twilight Zone of Afghanistan’s Borders

[If it is true that Afghan forces called in the lethal airstrikes, to get them out of a jam on the ground, then is it also true that they were either in hot pursuit of attacking militants, or their firing positions from near Army outposts, when they came under heavy fire?  The only available evidence comes from military supplied reports, so there is no reliable reporting for us to know what really happened.  One source claimed that the Pakistani outposts are new installations, located there after the recent wave of cross-border raids in Mohmand by the Pakistani Taliban who had moved into Afghanistan to escape Pak Army attacks.  From the apparent safety of Afghanistan, the TTP have launched a series of mass-attacks, and cross-border firing, which has invited Pakistani forces to fire into Afghanistan on occasion.  With the near universal ignorance of the specific location of the Durand Line, a Pakistani move to the edge of the actual border might have provoked the other side to scream, “violation.” 

If the militants really did fire on the Afghan forces from close proximity to Pakistani forces, then they were studiously overlooked by the soldiers.  It would not be the first time that this tactic has been used.  One well-known instance of this tactic being used was preceding the “Battle of Wanat,” another was in the “Gora Prai” border post assault.  In conflicting news reports at the time, it is reported as an ISAF incursion, but it too, was a report of militants being pursued near border posts.  In the video you can see the individual militants being killed (Video below). 

We have no way of knowing what has happened in these isolated border incidents.  This uncertainty applies to events on all Afghan borders (SEE: Uzbekistan: November 17 railway line near the border with Afghanistan explosion ).  We have no way of knowing anything more than that we have these short reports of a terrorist attack on the Northern Distribution Network.  Did it even happen, or is it all just propaganda intended to reinforce some psyop, or an effort to stop train traffic into Tajikistan?  

Why was this attack upon Pakistani forces ordered?  What has CENTCOM to gain at this time, by exploding the military arrangements with Pakistan?  No matter how much spin the militarists manage to put on this latest tragedy of poor American judgment, we shall still be left with the same question that we are always left pondering in America’s terror war–Why did the geniuses at the Pentagon let it happen?]

Afghan soldiers called in deadly NATO airstrike

Mohammad ZubairA Pakistani border security guard stands alert as authorities close border down the Torkham border for NATO vehicles in Pakistan on Sunday, Nov 27, 2011. Pakistan on Saturday accused NATO helicopters and fighter jets of firing on two army checkpoints in the country’s northwest and killing 24 soldiers. Islamabad retaliated by closing the border crossings used by the international coalition to supply its troops in neighboring Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Mohammad Zubair)

Afghan troops who came under fire while operating near the Pakistan border called in the NATO airstrikes that allegedly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at two posts along the frontier, Afghan officials said Sunday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said it’s unclear who attacked the Afghan troops before dawn Saturday, but that the soldiers were fired upon from the direction of the Pakistani border posts that were hit in the strikes. The border area where the soldiers were operating contains a mix of Pakistani forces and Islamist militants.

The incident has driven to new lows the United States’ already tattered alliance with Pakistan, a relationship that is vital to winding down the 10-year-old Afghan war. The Pakistan army has said the alleged NATO attack was unprovoked and has insisted there wasn’t militant activity near the border posts in the Mohmand tribal area.

The Arab League’s Hypocrisy

The Arab League’s Hypocrisy – OpEd


After the Arab League hypocritically suspended the membership of Syria amid the mounting pressures of NATO and the United States, the resurgence of violence in Egypt, the increasing use of excessive force in Bahrain and Yemen, and the unrelenting massacre of innocent civilians by the barbaric regime of Al Khalifa and Ali Abdullah Saleh have once again attracted the attention of conscientious observers in the international community.

According to official figures released by the “Bahrain Center for Human Rights” website, so far 44 Bahraini citizens are killed at the hands of the mercenaries of the Al Khalifa regime. The 6-year-old Mohammed Farhan, 14-year-old Ali Jawad Alshaikh and 15-year-old Sayed Ahmad Saeed Shams are among the martyrs. The Bahraini organization reported that many of these martyrs have been killed while in custody. The Center also published documents indicating that more than 1,500 Bahrainis, 100 of whom were women, have been incarcerated since the eruption of turmoil in the Persian Gulf country on February 14, 2011 and that more than 90 journalists have faced life threat during the same interval.

It’s also said that the Bahraini government has blocked access to more than 1000 opposition websites, which are mainly used to organize and plan protests and mass demonstrations in the country.

The Bahraini regime commits all of these aggressive and brutal actions with the direct involvement of the Saudi Arabia and the implicit support and backing of the NATO and the United States. The author of the “Hidden Harmonies China” blog in his post on March 14, 2011, referring to recent human rights violation in Bahrain with the flagrant, duplicitous support of the White House, wrote that “the entry of Saudi security forces to crack down on the protesters with deadly force is a complication for US policies, to say the least, since the US is reluctant to criticize its oil ally dictators in the region.”

He also called Bahrain the “Las Vegas” of the Middle East, host to the US 5th Fleet and a haunt for the rich Saudis who are forbidden by Islamic laws to indulge in alcohol and other immoral enjoyments at home, “but who often vacation in Bahrain for these reasons.”

Bahraini citizens have uploaded several videos on the internet, showing the cruel and ruthless torturing and persecuting of the protesters by the Al Khalifa lackeys. These videos depict Bahraini forces using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters and killing many of them. Some of these videos also show the Saudi and Bahraini cars nonchalantly running over Bahraini children and women, killing them at once.

The US-Saudi project of crackdown on the Bahraini people was also empowered by many of the European cronies of Washington. In July 2011, Germany sold a set of 200 62-ton Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia, an act which sparked a huge controversy among the German parliamentarians and anti-war activists. According to Daily Telegraph, Wolfgang Gerhardt, former leader of the Free Democrats and junior collation member to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats also considered the act as “unacceptable.” Despite all this, the USD 1,252 million-agreement was signed and the Saudi government dispatched many of these newly-bought tanks to Bahrain to accelerate and facilitate the bloody clampdown on the protesters.

The situation in Yemen, however, is far more deplorable and appalling. has reported that as of September 25, 1,870 Yemenis had been killed in the revolution; the majority of the martyrs were reported to be unarmed civilians taking part in anti-government demonstrations.

The Yemeni dictator, who has remained defiant in the face of frequent calls by the tribal leaders, opposition groups and demonstrators to step down and give up power, has turned his country into a bloodbath, making the Yemeni uprising the longest and most devastative revolution in the wave of protests in the Middle East. The protests in Yemen started on February 3, 2011 and have continued so far. The only reaction of the international community to the brutality in this country has been an indecisive and faltering resolution by the UNSC which has called for “an end to violence” and asked President Ali Abdullah Saleh to accept a peace deal brokered by the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council. However, Abdullah Saleh, who is tacitly supported by the US, has kept up with the brutalities and according to Yemen Times, 94 protesters have been killed after the Security Council adopted the resolution 2014.

A report published in Yemen Times on November 17 revealed that “ninety-four Yemenis were killed and over 800 injured since UN Resolution 2014 was issued on October 21.”

“Tentative reports show that over the last three weeks in Yemen, 124 homes, seven mosques, six public institutions including one hospital, two community wells, and 17 vehicles were effectively destroyed,” Yemen Times reported.

In the days leading to the detainment and death of Muammar Gaddafi, the Western mainstream media were only talking about the Libyan civil war, and the reason was clear, NATO had secured a UNSC resolution to enact a no-fly zone over Libya and it was in the interest of the US and its European partners to cover the tumultuous situation in the North African country. However, the reports and news regarding the carnage in Bahrain and Yemen were predominantly shunned and boycotted, simply because these two despotic regimes were the close allies of the US in the Middle East.

In a report published in Independent Australia, Zaid Jiani alluded to the violent crackdown on the protesters in Bahrain and Yemen and posed the question that “is the media downplaying these events because the two dictatorships are firm allies of the West?”

“A Think Progress analysis of press coverage by the three major US cable news networks -CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News – from March 14 to March 18 finds that Bahrain received only slightly more than ten percent as many mentions as Libya and that Yemen received only six percent as many mentions as Libya.”

Now what concerns the independent thinkers, scholars, university professors, journalists and peace activists is that Syria has become the target of international pressure, simply because it has strong ties with Iran and resistant groups in Lebanon and Palestine, while the reactionary regimes of Bahrain and Yemen are getting away with the felonies they had commit by the virtue of their alliance with the United States.

Arab League has hypnotically suspended the participation of Syria while it has taken no practical step to normalize the situation in the turbulent and chaotic Yemen and Bahrain in which innocent people are being killed on a daily basis by their tyrannical rulers and their loyalists

All that can be said is that the performance of the Arab League in neglecting the situation in Yemen and Bahrain and exaggerating the unrest in Syria which is mainly caused by the foreign intervention and the West’s indifference toward the plight of the suppressed nations in Yemen and Bahrain is an all-out hypocrisy and a clear, undeniable exercise of double standards. Who can really devise a clear-cut solution for this unsolvable dilemma?

About the author:

Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian media correspondent, freelance journalist and interviewer. He is a contributing writer of Finland’s Award-winning Ovi Magazine and the the Foreign Policy Journal. He is a member of Tlaxcala Translators Network for Linguistic Diversity (Spain). He is also a member of World Student Community for Sustainable Development (WSC-SD). Kourosh Ziabari’s articles have appeared in a number of Canadian, Belgian, Italian, French and German websites. He can be reached at

The Failure of Liberal Democracy

The Failure of Liberal Democracy

Gaspar Miklos Tamas

Gáspár Miklós Tamás interviewed by Matthew Brett

Freedom, equality and participation in the democratic process are cornerstones of liberal democracy. Yet these principles are unravelling across the world as states become increasingly authoritarian and unequal. On a speaking tour of North America, Hungarian dissident intellectual Gáspár Miklós Tamás speaks with political science graduate student Matthew Brett about the failure of liberal democracy. Tamás is a significant voice of the Hungarian democratic opposition. He co-founded in 1988 the Network of Free Initiatives, a dissident movement under the communist regime of Janos Kadar, and subsequently served as Member of Parliament between 1989 and 1994 under the banner of the Free Democratic Alliance.

He is currently Research Professor at the Institute of Philosophy of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and lectures regularly in political philosophy and social theory in universities around the world. Professor Tamás is the author of ten books in Hungarian and several of his essays have appeared in English translation in publications such as The Times Literary SupplementThe SpectatorBoston ReviewPublic Affairs Quarterly and Socialist Register. Professor Tamás spoke with Matthew at Concordia University in Montreal on Sept. 22, 2011 following his lecture, “The Failure of Liberal Democracy in Eastern Europe…and Everywhere Else.”

How would you define yourself politically?

Well I think I’m a man on the left and I would call myself a Marxist.

Your lecture is titled, “The Failure of Liberal Democracy in Eastern Europe…and Everywhere Else.” For this interview, I’d really like to focus on the nature and content of that lecture, perhaps just beginning with your understanding of what liberal democracy is and what that means.

Well of course I’m trying to keep close to the generally accepted definition in order to be able to talk reasonably. Liberal democracy is a combination of elements, mostly of liberal elements of individual rights and legal guarantees for autonomous self-activity, personal sovereignty, and guarantees against state power. And democracy which means, well, not simply peoples’ rule, but most certainly peoples’ participation in decision making – one man one vote, or one person one vote nowadays. And of course political participation is still far from being complete. We cannot say that every citizen is a lawmaker and a lawgiver. We are mostly passive recipients of law, and obedient or disobedient subjects to the legal system.

Professor Tamas argues that liberal democracy was unravelling as early as the 1980s but that things have become very evident after the recession, and it’s become particularly severe today. One of the central arguments he makes is that an increasing percentage of the global population falls completely outside of our dominant social order. Technology has made labour redundant for many in the world, and so they exist outside of the typical capital-labour relationship.

It seems to me that nowadays we are not only failing to fulfill the moral and theoretical conditions of what would constitute a liberal democracy, but even our faith in the fundamental principles is dwindling as a result of some changes. These changes consist mostly of technological and economic developments that partly through globalization (i.e. the flight of capital to lower wage regions of the world; therefore, the demolition of traditional North American and European manufacturing industries and other economic assets have been stripped and just exported to where there is technology on the one hand, and on the other hand, cheap labour). But most importantly, these technological developments make it so that every human activity is so mechanized – to use the old expression – digitalized, and miniaturized, and robotized, and automated and so on, that the old dispensation according to which most people worked in manufacturing or in services and commerce, it’s not true of today. There won’t be again full employment. Most people will be outside of productive work – productive meaning producing commodities that can be sold on the market. And that means that the previous modals of social organization, which were mostly work, will be lacking. They will be characteristic of only a minority of the populations, and the rest of us will be dependent upon the community itself to survive.

So partly there will be people who work in the public interest, but not productive, like schoolteachers and doctors and so on. And the rest, if society remains as it is, will be in dire need of social assistance, social assistance that must be available based on resources that governments insist they are lacking. Of course this is a system that I do not recognize or let alone like, but if you accept the basic facts about it – which I don’t – then it’s quite obvious that the resources are not there, and governments will have to choose between various groups – whom to assist, whom to help, and who will be left behind, neglected, excluded, condemned to very precarious life or to death by starvation. And therefore the political community is split along the lines of legitimacy of income – what I mean by this is that, still in all our societies there are two main legitimate sources of income: capital and labour. As for the rest, that comes to us through state redistribution – tax monies that are redistributed by government – that are subject to political decisions. And an increasing number of people are dependent on resources that are available to them through redistribution and government channels. And the government has the immense power nowadays, although it has been depleted institutionally, to decide who will get what, and since not everybody can receive these goodies, there’s a great fight about legitimizing or delegitimizing social groups.

So nowadays you will say that people with some illnesses, people above a certain age, immigrants, racial groups, lifestyle groups designated as being of a criminal behaviour and the undeserving poor – to use the 19th century expression – those people are not only ill-served by their government, but also excluded from the core of society, and real active citizenship is re-becoming a privileged instead of a general condition of human beings. And that is something new. After all, liberal democracies aspired to universalize civic rights, to extend the privileges and securities and pride of citizenship to virtually all human beings. Well this trend has been reversed, and this is what I call the failure of liberal democracy.

One of the examples that you’ve given along those lines is the Hungarian Constitution. Can you describe briefly what happened there?

Well the whole Hungarian political development over the last-year-and-a-half has been very much worrying. The new government has installed a new regime. This is not just a change of government; it’s a very deep transformation of the whole country with hundreds of new laws changing the whole legal makeup of the country – changing back from a very flawed but still existent liberal democratic order into a very modern, very contemporary authoritarianism, which is very carefully thought out and very coherent. It consists of a number of measures that I can’t list in a short interview, which is curtailing people’s freedoms from press, freedom of assembly, right to strike and all that stuff, while slashing most institutions that enjoyed some kind of autonomy, from media outlets, to universities, to schools, to art institutions, to unions, to whatever.

But all this is based on a very intellectually interesting development in constitutional law that also has some symbolic changes – for example, Hungary is no longer designated a republic as of the January 1. It’s just Hungary. And where there are articles from the old constitution disappearing, such as equal pay for equal work – that’s not any longer in the constitution. Old welfare statist prescriptions are not there any longer. But what is most important is that rights are not defined as they are normally – like in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the beginning of your Constitution – but they are made dependent on the satisfactory delivery of duties – delivery of public functions and observance of duties. And there are other articles of the Constitution wherein its partially hidden, partially declared openly, that only citizens with a community spirit, and honest work, and appropriate makeup of a citizen can really count on the plenitude of all rights. The state is not obliging itself any longer to the performance of obligations on the side of the state toward citizens. So, for example, whenever the old constitution said that the government must guarantee housing or health or whatever, it said now that the government must do its best to insure fairness, health, housing, welfare, et cetera. So both the welfare state remnants in the old constitution are wiped out completely, and also the absoluteness of rights on which liberal democracies are based in most places have disappeared, which of course enables the authorities to deny various things to citizens in need.

That seems to be a trend that we’re witnessing, as you say, not only in Eastern Europe, but everywhere else – these increasing trends of authoritarianism, particularly on the legislative side, very particular invasive laws. It raises, to me, interesting questions about the role of the state. Particularly in Canada, there’s a strong base of anarchist organizing. That is a strong impulse here on the left. I was wondering if you could speak to your thoughts on anarchism, particularly as somebody who has often worked with political parties.

Well, I was myself an anarchist as a young man, and most of that I haven’t reneged on. I published in some illegal publication called the Eye and the Hand, and it actually has been translated into French, and appeared in a small anarchist publishing house in Switzerland in 1985. “Louis la main” it’s called. It’s a short tract of anarchist political libertarian philosophy. The problem of the state is very perverse nowadays, because the state is the only hope of many needy abandoned people – the same oppressive people that causes most of the problems. And people cling to the state, still hoping that the state, according to the old principles, is still representing fairness, and help, and redistribution, and a soothing hand. Well needless to say that this is a vain hope.

But we always have to take into account that we are speaking within the frameworks of the existing capitalist system, which I’ve done up until now in this interview, accepting experimentally that this is the framework in which we live. And of course I’m not at all opposed to reformistically trying to improve our lot if possible, although in the past time we haven’t witnessed the most progressive performance. And when I’m taking a step back to look more carefully at things, of course I know that there is no substantial hope of the state improving.

You can see that in such countries like Canada, which, compared to others, has been a pretty mild proposition. It’s becoming ever more brutal, although nothing on the scale of the French or the Italian state. Nevertheless, I can see, even though I have no large knowledge of Canada, that privacy, treatment of prison populations, police powers, there’s a progress backwards. It’s called regress.

So of course I don’t think that, if indeed the possibility of oppression is enshrined in the basic tenets of any given society, then you can expect the oppressors to convince them that in the goodness of their heart that they should dispense with all this. Of course they wouldn’t. What has been the only thing, and what will always be, is to mount pressure and to build up counter-powers.

And if you’re talking to anarchists, the question is how to build up counter-powers, when counter-powers by their very nature are also hierarchical? You use coercion, which may be much more dispersed and less toxic than other kinds of coercion. Nevertheless, if you have leadership, if you have organizational blueprints, then coercion of one kind or another will always materialize. These are almost eternal problems. Nevertheless, I think we should turn – as well as doing everything else – to considering again the old problem of how to pre-empt a future – peaceful, and equal, and non-oppressive and non-alienating society – within our own circles. How to live in exploitative, and oppressive, and repressive and in all senses fucked up society, sorry, in a way in which we can at least try to realize in our own lives the principles according to which we would like to live. This is extremely, extremely difficult, given that we have to earn our living, and fit in, and avoid jail, and all those kinds of things, while compromising, and ducking, and hiding ourselves, and lying about who we are. I know very well how tactical life rots your teeth. There’s no one solution to this. This means that you have to build up milieus in which there’s some kind of confidence in which you can get moral help on all these difficulties, and this has all the usual problems of sect building, and cult building. There are many pathologies that beset freedom loving people who want to get outside these really intolerable societies.

Speaking very much to that – the attempt within existing social orders to create alternatives – there’s definitely a strong impulse, particularly after the latest crisis of capitalism, or in the midst of the latest crisis of capitalism, a strong socialist impulse. And I’d like to speak about a piece that you wrote, “Communism on the Ruins of Socialism.” At a time when vast segments of the left are calling for a revived socialism, that article very much says that if anything, socialism has helped sustain capitalism. So can you speak to that, perhaps?

Right, so this was initially a speech that I gave last year [2010] in Berlin together with Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek and Antonio Negri. I’m proud of it, yes – great men. So the main thing about it is that socialism, which is my common name for the social democratic and the Bolshevik branches of the former international workers movement, that in their own separate ways, what they have realized, which in terms of civilization is enormous – state based egalitarianism – real egalitarianism. I mean transformation of life in which, to use the language of the epoch, the common man for the first time could enjoy a roof over his and his families head, indoor plumbing, hot water, some sanitation, guaranteed pensions, paid holidays, all that stuff, which of course is an enormous advance compared to what the situation had been in the 19th century, and of course for millennia.

So for the first time, working people had a modicum of counter-power in the workers movement, in whatever forms – democratic or dictatorial forms – and gave a kind of counter-hegemony in working class culture. And what I’m always saying to make it comprehensible, is that all subordinate classes in history before, what was their culture? It was folklore, complaint, rage – but mostly complaint. And then the working class was the first subordinate class in history that had its own science, its own theory, its own philosophy, its own political organization, its own separate corporate pride, and its own attempt to gain power, and build up its own state, and to kick its adversaries in the teeth. And this is a tremendous historical development, a huge achievement…which failed.

Because of course it could not, and did not, create a society in which the fundamental characteristics of exploitation and hierarchy disappeared. These were, even in the social democratic variant, pretty hierarchical and oppressive societies, in spite of the undeniable great merits of the 20th century – I mean real heroism, so this is a respectable thing that will be remembered as Ancient Greece is remembered. Nevertheless, it is the past, and in many ways a very unsavoury past. I have no illusions about its tragic greatness, if you wish. Now, the characteristics of socialism in this sense – I mean real socialism in a social democratic and Bolshevik way – of course these were productivists and tried to accumulate and produce a lot and construct newer enterprises and plants and factories based on a very limited and naive faith in technology and the natural sciences, and in growth, which of course they shared with capitalism.

These were societies in which it was not the suppression of wage labour that was aimed at but wage raises; not the abolition of commodity production was aimed at, but more commodities (i.e. more consumption); wealth, abundance if possible. So therefore I feel that, as people have felt before, that there’s no time to try the detour through étatiste, welfarist, egalitarian systems to get humankind out of their contemporary shit. I don’t think that we can, or we should, try the social democratic solution, which is of course superior to the present order, but reconstructing it will be very onerous, people don’t really like it, and it could not address the bio-political problem that I alluded to earlier [the bio-political problem of climate change, which Tamas argues, is immensely difficult to tackle in a liberal democratic manner].

Now stimulating production wouldn’t solve the problems of the majority. Work has to be changed, production has to be changed, consumption has to be changed, social hierarchy has to be changed, the whole rationality of public administration and law has to be change – in short, the system must be changed, because it cannot survive in this way.

I very much would like humankind to survive. And I very much would like this to happen without supreme sacrifice – in destroying our livelihood, our culture, our nature, our towns and so on. A lot of valuable and fun things are going on, and it would be a pity if we had to hunker down in some igloos to survive the global storm provoked by capitalism. So it’s an urgent task, and I know it sounds absurd, but given what we see around us, it’s extremely urgent to turn toward the original ideas of communism, which of course, I must emphasize, has nothing to do with 20th century dictatorships.

The idea of a society in which the artificial separations between producers and the means of production, between classes, between races, between persons in authority and persons who obey et cetera, should be dispensed with, and in which indeed human activity based on personal aspirations and non-hierarchical relations should decide about directions to be taken, and which sacrifices in the favour of an imagined supreme common good are not any longer expected.

I’ll give you a shamefully simple example. What are we spending on the military, which is of course especially in North America is something really obscene, and which contributes to death by being shot, and death by the terrible environmental damage that military activities [inflict]. I just read a very good article in Canadian Dimension about the environmental damage that the military is inflicting on all our societies. And we are supposed to pay for this in taxes, and to suffer the terrible consequences in the name of a supposed superior common good un-debated by the citizens. These things have to stop. People should really take over, and triumph over the automatisms, and the mechanisms and the impersonal building blocks of capital in which what looks as spontaneity is just anonymity and impersonality of capitalist power. And it is urgent I say because we are of course in great trouble.

This has happened before, and in that respect we are very much like people in the 1920s – there’s a great bitterness, and unhappiness, and callousness everywhere – and this is nothing that cannot be stopped. We are no worse than we’ve been before, nor better, but there’s no really intrinsic reasons why things should be like this. And I think the radical solutions will do, because the moderate solutions have been tried, are being tried, without any result.

I mean quite seriously who would really believe that, for example in your country, Mr. Harper’s Conservative government gets voted down in one moment and then comes who? You know, Mr. Topp [NDP leadership candidate] or somebody, more humane – a slower version. And everybody knows, of course even small advances aren’t to be spurned, but they won’t really help. But what is the obstacle between us and this noble goal is a great deficiency of which I share, unfortunately. We don’t have the innovative and imaginative way of people in the 19th century to invent new political forms. I think we all should furiously think about what kind of guaranteed free forms of political struggle to invent, because we seem to be clueless, myself included.

Matthew Brett is a political science graduate student at Concordia University and is on the organizing committee for the Montreal-based Forum to Resist the Conservatives. This interview was conducted for CKUT 90.3 FM, Montreal.

BRICS warns against Syria intervention

BRICS warns against Syria intervention

Russia and China along with their three partners in the BRICS group of emerging economies have warned against foreign intervention in Syria without UN approval.

In a statement issued after consultations on Thursday in Moscow, the five nations called for immediate talks between the government and opposition in Syria, Reuters reported.

The Russian representative at the meeting said Moscow rejects pressure from the Syrian opposition groups and accuses Western nations of trying to set the stage for armed intervention.

“Any external intervention that does not correspond with the United Nations Charter must be ruled out,” the Russian Foreign Ministry statement said.

The Russian statement added that, “The only acceptable scenario for resolving the internal crisis in Syria is the immediate start of peaceful talks with the participation of all sides,”

The BRICS final communiqué said nations “placed a special accent on the role of (the UN Security Council), which holds primary responsibility for the support of international peace and security.”

Referring to the recent events in the Middle East and North Africa, BRICS nations noted “the need for the complete adherence to human rights by all sides, in particular the authorities, in regard to protecting unarmed civilians.”

The consultations of the BRICS countries brought together deputy foreign ministers of Russia and China as well as Brazil, India and South Africa.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March, with demonstrations held both in favor and against President Bashar al-Assad.

France became the first country to call for international intervention in Syria this week citing humanitarian grounds.

Syria insists that the unrest in the country has been largely promoted by foreign-linked armed elements that have been trying to incite violence by targeting security forces as well as ordinary protesters and blaming the government for their armed efforts.

Countless Syrian civilians and military personnel have lost their lives in the unrest.


Pakistanis protest at U.S. consulate after NATO attack

Pakistanis protest at U.S. consulate after NATO attack

Protestors, who are demonstrating against a NATO cross-border attack, burn an effigy representing the U.S. in Karachi November 27, 2011.   REUTERS-Athar Hussain
An army soldier stands guard near caskets of soldiers killed in a cross-border attack along Pakistan and Afghan during their funeral prayers in Peshawar November 27, 2011. Pakistan on Sunday buried 24 troops killed in a NATO cross-border air raid that has pushed a crisis in relations with the United States towards rupture.  REUTERS-Stringer
Cargo trucks, including those carrying supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan, are seen halted along the Pakistan-Torkham border, after it was shut down to traffic November 26, 2011.   REUTERS-Shahid Shinwari

By Imtiaz Shah

KARACHI, Pakistan

(Reuters) – Thousands gathered outside the American consulate in the city of Karachi on Sunday to protest against a NATO cross-border air attack that killed 24 Pakistani troops and is threatening a strategic alliance between the countries.

A Reuters reporter at the scene said the angry crowd shouted “Down with America.” One young man climbed on the wall surrounding the heavily fortified compound and attached a Pakistani flag to barbed wire.

The NATO attack was the latest perceived provocation by the United States, which infuriated Pakistan’s powerful military with a unilateral U.S. special forces raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May.

NATO helicopters and fighter jets based in Afghanistan attacked two Pakistan military outposts on Saturday, killing the soldiers in what Pakistan said was an unprovoked assault.

“America is attacking our borders. The government should immediately break ties with it,” said Naseema Baluch, a housewife attending the Karachi demonstration.

“America wants to occupy our country but we will not let it do that.”

U.S. and NATO officials are trying to defuse tensions but the soldiers’ deaths are testing a bad marriage of convenience between Washington and Islamabad.

“This was a tragic unintended incident,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement, adding that he fully supported a NATO investigation that was under way.

“We will determine what happened, and draw the right lessons.”

That is unlikely to cool tempers. Many Pakistanis believe their army is fighting a war against militants that only serves Western interests and hurts their country.

“U.S. stabs Pakistan in the back, again,” said a headline in the Daily Times, reflecting fury over the attack in Pakistan, a regional power seen as critical to U.S. efforts to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan on Sunday buried the troops killed in the attack.

Television stations showed the coffins draped in green and white Pakistani flags in a prayer ceremony at the headquarters of the regional command in Peshawar attended by army chief General Ashfaq Kayani.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by telephone early on Sunday to convey “the deep sense of rage felt across Pakistan.”

“This negates the progress made by the two countries on improving relations and forces Pakistan to revisit the terms of engagement,” a Foreign Ministry statement quoted Khar as telling her U.S. counterpart.

Khar also informed Clinton that Pakistan wants the United States to vacate a drone aircraft base in the country.

Pakistan shut down NATO supply routes into Afghanistan — used for sending in nearly half of the alliance’s land shipments — in retaliation for the worst such attack since Islamabad uneasily allied itself with Washington following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

About 500 members of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan’s most influential religious party, staged a protest in Mohmand tribal area, where the NATO attack took place.

“Jihad is The Only Answer to America,” they yelled.

Pakistan is reviewing whether it will go ahead with plans to attend a major international conference in Bonn next month on the future of Afghanistan in light of the NATO attack.

Around 40 troops were stationed at the outposts at the time of the attack, military sources said.

“They without any reasons attacked on our post and killed soldiers asleep,” said a senior Pakistani officer.


Pakistan responded with unusually strong condemnations and said it reserved the right to retaliate.

Pakistan is a vital land route for nearly half of NATO supplies shipped overland to its troops in Afghanistan. Land shipments account for about two thirds of the alliance’s cargo into Afghanistan.

A similar incident on Sept 30, 2010, which killed two Pakistani service personnel, led to the closure of one of NATO’s supply routes through Pakistan for 10 days.

U.S. ties with Pakistan have suffered several big setbacks starting with the unilateral U.S. special forces raid in May that killed bin Laden in a Pakistani town where he had apparently been living for years.

Pakistan condemned the secret operation as a flagrant violation of its sovereignty, while suspicions arose in Washington that members of Pakistan’s military intelligence had harboured the al Qaeda leader.

The military came under unprecedented criticism from both Pakistanis who said it failed to protect the country and American officials who said bin Laden’s presence was proof the country was an unreliable ally in the war on militancy.

Pakistan’s army, one of the world’s largest, may see the NATO incursion from Afghanistan as a chance to reassert itself, especially since the deaths of the soldiers are likely to unite generals and politicians, whose ties are normally uneasy.

Pakistan’s jailing of a CIA contractor, Raymond Davis, and U.S. accusations that Pakistan backed a militant attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul have added to the tensions.

“From Raymond Davis and his gun slinging in the streets of Lahore to the Osama bin Laden incident, and now to the firing on Pakistani soldiers on the volatile Pakistan-Afghan border, things hardly seem able to get any worse,” said the Daily Times.

Islamabad depends on billions in U.S. aid and Washington believes Pakistan can help it bring about peace in Afghanistan ahead of a combat troop withdrawal at the end of 2014.

But it is constantly battling Anti-American sentiment over everything from U.S. drone aircraft strikes to Washington’s calls for economic reforms.

“We should end our friendship with America. It’s better to have animosity with America than friendship. It’s nobody’s friend,” said laborer Sameer Baluch.

In Karachi, dozens of truck drivers who should have been transporting supplies to Afghanistan were idle.

Taj Malli braves the threat of Taliban attacks to deliver supplies to Afghanistan so that he can support his children. But he thinks it is time to block the route permanently in protest.

“Pakistan is more important than money. The government must stop all supplies to NATO so that they realize the importance of Pakistan,” he said.

But some Pakistanis doubt their leaders have the resolve to challenge the United States.

“This government is cowardly. It will do nothing,” said Peshawar shopkeeper Sabir Khan. “Similar attacks happened in the past, but what have they done?”

(Additional reporting by Zeeshan Haider in Islamabad, Izaz Mohmand and Aftab Ahmed in Peshawar and David Brunnstrom in Brussels; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Nick Macfie)

India and China–So Many People In Need of Transportation

India and China responsible for increase in global fuel prices and pollution levels?

Rising number of car sales in Asian countries, especially China and India, has become a cause of worry for world leaders. But is it fair to blame people in India and China for buying new cars, considering the fact that the total number of vehicles in these countries is nowhere close to the total number of vehicles in US alone?

Back in July this year, President Obama stated that the continuous rise in fuel prices was because of the phenomenal rise in demand for vehicles in developing countries like India and China. Very easily developing countries are being blamed, but the fact is that for every 1000 Americans, there are 809 vehicles in the US and the same figure for India and China stands at 14 and 46 respectively.

There are approximately 1 billion vehicles (including trucks, buses, cars, coaches, etc) plying on planet Earth today, of which 248 million run on the US soil. This means that every fourth car in the world today is has an American registration. America also has the largest road network with 6.5 million kms followed by China and India at 3.8 million kms and 3.3 million kms respectively.

Blaming each other is not a solution to this problem, and it is not that every country in the world is out there competing to claim the top spot for having highest number of vehicles. In fact countries and their citizens are now trying hard to decrease the number of vehicles on roads. If every country in the world had the same human to vehicle ratio, then there would be more than 4.5 billion vehicles on Earth today.

Pakistan retaliation puts NATO in lurch

Pakistan retaliation puts NATO in lurch

CBS News
Afghanistan-bound trucks carrying supplies for NATO forces are parked as authorities closed the border at Torkham, in Pakistan, Sunday, Nov 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Qazi Rauf)

(AP)  PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Hundreds of trucks carrying supplies to U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan backed up at Pakistani border crossings Sunday, leaving them vulnerable to militant attack a day after Islamabad closed the frontier in retaliation for coalition airstrikes that allegedly killed 24 Pakistani troops.

As Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani attended the funerals of the victims, including a major, the U.S. sought to minimize the fallout from the crisis, which plunged Washington’s already-troubled relationship with Islamabad to an all-time low.

Pakistan also ordered the U.S. to vacate an air base that is used by American drones to target al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the country’s tribal region along the Afghan border. The U.S. has relied heavily on drone strikes in the past few years, partly out of frustration with Pakistan’s refusal to target militants using its territory to stage attacks against American and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

There are forces working against a total rupture in the relationship. Pakistan still relies on billions of dollars in American military and civilian aid, and the U.S. needs Islamabad’s help to push Afghan insurgents to engage in peace talks.

But tensions could rise further if militants unleash attacks against the stranded trucks ferrying NATO supplies to Afghanistan.

Suspected militants destroyed around 150 trucks and injured drivers and police a year ago after Pakistan closed one of its Afghan border crossings to NATO supplies for about 10 days in retaliation for a U.S. helicopter attack that accidentally killed two Pakistani soldiers.

People offer funeral prayers for victims of Saturday’s NATO attack, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov 27, 2011. 

(Credit: AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

The situation could be more dire this time because Pakistan, outraged at the alleged NATO attack before dawn Saturday, has closed both its crossings. Nearly 300 trucks carrying coalition supplies are now backed up at Torkham in the northwest Khyber tribal area and Chaman in southwestern Baluchistan province. Last year, Pakistan only closed Torkham.

“We are worried,” said driver Saeed Khan, speaking by telephone from the border terminal in Torkham. “This area is always vulnerable to attacks. Sometimes rockets are lobbed at us. Sometimes we are targeted by bombs.”

Khan and hundreds of other drivers and their assistants barely slept Saturday night because they were worried about potential attacks, he said.

Some drivers said Pakistan had sent paramilitary troops to protect their convoys since the closures, but others were left without any additional protection. Even those who did receive troops did not feel safe.

“If there is an attack, what can five or six troops do? Nothing,” said Niamatullah Khan, a fuel truck driver who was parked with 35 other vehicles at a restaurant about 125 miles (200 kilometers) from Chaman.

NATO ships nearly 50 percent of its non-lethal supplies to its troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan. The trucks are periodically targeted by suspected militants as they travel through the country, and their drivers are sometimes killed. NATO has said these attacks do not significantly impact its ability to keep its troops supplied.

An official closely involved with the Afghan war said there will likely be no immediate negative effect from Pakistan’s decision to close its border crossings. NATO has built up a large stockpile of military and other supplies that could enable operations to continue at their current level for several months, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

NATO has reduced the amount of non-lethal supplies it ships through Pakistan from a high of around 80 percent by using routes through Central Asia. The northern logistics link could be expanded to make up for the Pakistani closure, but it would leave NATO heavily dependent on Russia at a time when ties with Moscow are increasingly strained.

Some critical supplies, including ammunition, are airlifted directly to Afghan air bases.

Pakistan eventually relented and reopened Torkham last year after the U.S. apologized. But the number of alleged casualties is much higher this time. The relationship between the two countries has also severely deteriorated over the past year, especially following the covert U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison town in May. Islamabad was outraged because it wasn’t told about the operation beforehand.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday that the alleged NATO attack negated all progress in improving the tattered alliance between the two countries.

She told Clinton in a phone call that the alleged NATO attack was unacceptable, showed complete disregard for human life and sparked rage within Pakistan, according to a press release issued by the Pakistani prime minister’s office.

In addition to closing its border crossings, Pakistan gave the U.S. 15 days to vacate Shamsi Air Base in Baluchistan. The U.S. uses the base to service drones when they cannot return to their bases inside Afghanistan because of weather conditions or mechanical difficulty, U.S. and Pakistani officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

The Pakistani army said Saturday that NATO helicopters and fighter jets carried out an “unprovoked” attack on two of its border posts in the Mohmand tribal area before dawn, killing 24 soldiers and wounding 13 others.

Pakistan held funerals for the soldiers Sunday at the army’s headquarters in Peshawar, the most important city in the country’s northwest. Mourners said prayers in front of caskets wrapped in green and white Pakistani flags.

A spokesman for NATO forces, Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson, said Saturday that Afghan and coalition troops were operating in the border area of eastern Afghanistan when “a tactical situation” prompted them to call in close air support.

Afghan officials said Sunday that the call was made after Afghan soldiers came under fire. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the incident.

Jacobson told BBC television that it was “highly likely” that the airstrikes caused Pakistani casualties, but an investigation is being conducted to determine the details.

U.S. officials have expressed their sympathies over the incident and have promised to work closely with Pakistan as NATO carries out its investigation.

NATO’s top official, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, offered his “deepest condolences” and said the coalition was committed to working with Pakistan to “avoid such tragedies in the future.”

“We have a joint interest in the fight against cross-border terrorism and in ensuring that Afghanistan does not once again become a safe haven for terrorists,” Rasmussen said in Brussels.

Pakistan may boycott Afghan summit

Pakistan may boycott Afghan summit

Funerals held for soldiers killed in Nato attack at border post as Pakistan considers staying away from Bonn conference

Pakistan funeral

Prayers are said for the Pakistani troops killed in the border post attack. Photograph: Mohammad Sajjad/AP

Pakistan is considering boycotting an international conference on the future of Afghanistan in retaliation for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers who came under attack from Nato helicopters at a border checkpost.

The Pakistani military alleged that the attack 1.5 miles inside Pakistani territory in the early hours of Saturday was deliberate, as it was a well-known position manned by regular troops. US officials have suggested the Nato force was acting in self-defence.

Funerals were held for the dead soldiers in Peshawar on Sunday. Prayers conducted in front of 24 coffins, each wrapped in a Pakistani flag, were televised live. The army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, attended the service at a military base, as did leading officials from the north-west provincial administration.

Television channels repeatedly replayed images of the funeral, set to patriotic music usually reserved for wartime. Kayani, considered the most powerful man in the country, visited a hospital in Peshawar to meet soldiers injured in the incident.

The conference in Bonn, scheduled for 5 December, will mark a decade since the German city hosted the first international meeting to chalk out Afghanistan’s future. It had once been hoped that the meeting might kick off the peace process in Afghanistan, but expectations had already been lowered even before this weekend.

If a key regional player such as Pakistan stays away, the event will appear even more hollow. Pakistan’s co-operation is considered vital for stabilising Afghanistan and bringing the Taliban into negotiations.

Tehmina Janjua, of Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs, said the Bonn issue was “being examined and no decision has yet been taken in this regard”.

Pakistan announced late on Saturday that it had blocked supplies to Nato forces passing through the country. Half of Nato supplies pass by land through Pakistan. Islamabad also said it would expel the US from use of the Shamsi airbase, in the west of the country. Shamsi had been used in the past to fly drone aircraft, which target suspected militants in Pakistan’s tribal area; it is unclear whether the base was still used for armed drones.

Nato pledged a full investigation into the attack. “I have written to the prime minister of Pakistan to make it clear that the deaths of Pakistani personnel are as unacceptable and deplorable as the deaths of Afghan and international personnel,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Nato’s secretary general. “This was a tragic unintended incident.”

Events leading up to the incident remain unclear. In the past, much confusion has been caused by Taliban insurgents firing into Afghanistan from positions close to Pakistani checkposts, making it appear to Nato and Afghan troops that they are coming under attack from the Pakistani posts. Pakistani soldiers have previously shot into the air to warn Nato helicopters that they have crossed the border, but that has been mistaken by the aircraft crew for incoming fire.

Green Gills In A Reddened Sea

[India is not the superpower that Indian and American leaders would like to pretend her to be (SEE: Investing Your Future In A Poison Peace Process    ).  Every dollar wasted on setting itself up as America’s policeman is a dollar that could be invested in the people of India.  No other nation, except perhaps the US, shows such a glaring disparity between the super-capitalists at the top and the untapped sea of potential workers and consumers at the very bottom.  How can its leaders justify buying and building, eventually, aircraft carriers, to enforce US sea lane controls?]

Green Gills In A Reddened Sea

Does India have a role in Southeast Asia or will it be all at sea?

It seems a veritable habit of outsiders to affix the tag of ‘Great Power’ to India in an effort to advance their own agendas. In the 1950s, during the Cold War years, Moscow described India thus in the hope that it would relinquish its avowed non-aligned stance. It is now the turn of the United States and its allies in East and Southeast Asia to dub India as a great power. The reason: they believe adding to the hype surrounding India could inspire it to undertake a bigger role in stabilising the Asia-Pacific region, which seems perturbed at China’s growing assertion.

Realpolitik underlies the coining of the fancy labels that Indians seem to love. Since China’s rise is seen to mark the relative decline of America—manifest in its economic woes—Washington wants to create space for India to play a role beyond the confines of the Indian Ocean. Evolving international politics introduces new nomenclatures—Asia-Pacific is consequently now the Indo-Pacific, a term underlining the centrality of India in the new balance of power game. “The Indo-Pacific is the western Pacific plus India and mainland Southeast Asia,” Robert Kaplan, an American author-commentator of the Centre for New American Security, told Outlook. “It’s a term that allows American experts and policymakers to include India into western Pacific diplomatic, economic and military power calculations.”

“China’s proclivity to seek to change the status quo (in the South China Sea) unilaterally is indeed worrisome for India.”Pradeep Kaushiva, Vice-Admiral (Retired)

As other countries fete India, the establishment in Delhi has been mulling and debating two vital issues. One, what role does America and its allies want India to play? Two, does India have the requisite naval strength to meet these expectations? Says an Indian diplomat in South Block, “Whether we like it or not, for most countries in the region, China is the elephant in the room.” This was indeed the sentiment at the recent East Asia Summit (EAS) in Bali, where the US, Russia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and the 10 ASEAN member-countries met. The participants discussed the need to turn the EAS, which focuses on trade and economic issues, into a forum for thrashing out political and security issues and evolving a collective mechanism to resolve disputes arising among the countries in the region. This does not mean a NATO-like security alliance, but rather an “open, balanced and inclusive regional architecture, which will be in the region’s long-term interest”.In this scheme, Kaplan says “India will have a central role in protecting sea-lines of communications between the energy-rich Middle East and the hundreds of millions of middle-class customers in East Asia”. He makes no bones about the fact that much of India’s role has been scripted vis-a-vis China. “It has much to do with China’s rise. India in the future should have the capability to play a significant role as a counter-weight to China,” he explains.

For months now, this has been the hot topic of discussion in the US establishment, which has been subtly changing its hierarchy of priorities. In a speech to NATO a few months ago, former US defence secretary Robert Gates spoke of America increasingly turning its focus onto Asia—the growth engine of the world economy. US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has been describing the region as the ‘Indo-Pacific’ to ensure the Indians get the message about Washington’s expectations. Ditto President Barack Obama, who harped on this theme on his recent visit to Australia and again in Bali. These comments the Indian establishment has greatly appreciated.

“India should, in the future, have the capability to play a significant role as a counterweight to China in the region.”Robert Kaplan, Centre For New American Security

But, really, does India know what is desired of it? “Indo-Pacific,” says former Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran, “springs from the perception that the Indian and Pacific Oceans are a seamless continuum and a single strategic space. For example, a very large amount of oil moves from the Gulf to East Asia and the Pacific Rim now more than the traffic westwards. The sea-lanes traversing the Indian Ocean into the Pacific have, therefore, become a single maritime space. Hillary has used the term to reflect this new reality.”As is always the case with diplomacy, there are potential pluses and looming minuses. Many in the Indian establishment, no doubt, are enthused at the new opportunities for safeguarding, and promoting, the country’s vital national interests in the region. An equal number is circumspect about New Delhi’s over-dependence on the US, as also about over-stretching India’s naval capabilities. Nevertheless, India’s location in the Indian Ocean has provided it with a “maritime destiny”. Take a look at some figures—more than 90 per cent of India’s trade by volume and 77 per cent by value is seaborne. To quench its thirst for energy required for development, India has to ensure that the straits of Malacca, Hormuz, Bab-el-Mandeb and the South China Sea are not imperilled in any way. The cluster of countries around these sea lanes are India’s major source of investment and trade, and home to millions of Indians.

These maritime aspects explain why India would not want a single power dominating any of the sea lanes. Vice admiral (retired) Pradeep Kaushiva of the National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi, says India fully understands China’s attempt to bolster its navy to ensure the safety and security of the sea lanes for its own growth. Yet, simultaneously, India cannot just accept China invoking history to lay exclusive claims on waters shared by others, says Kaushiva, adding, “China’s proclivity to seek to change the status quo unilaterally is indeed worrisome.” He is referring to Chinese claims to the South China Sea, which seeks to nullify the rights of Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Yet there exists doubt about the Indian navy’s ability to ensure China does not become the single dominant naval power in the region. Says Saran, “India’s naval capabilities are significant, but its power projection capabilities are still limited.” He points out that India has a strong naval presence, both in the western and eastern reaches of the Indian Ocean, which enabled it to provide relief fairly quickly to countries like Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand and Indonesia during the 2004-05 tsunami. Saran, however, adds, “Beyond this, we currently do not have the capability, but we are building up our naval assets.” He points out that the Indian navy is soon to be in possession of at least two aircraft carriers and an augmented submarine fleet.

“India’s naval capabilities are significant, but its power projection capabilities are limited. We are building them up.”Shyam Saran, Former Foreign Secretary

Others contend that India should emulate the model adopted by the US in the 19th century—it consolidated its strength even while “free-riding” the era’s pre-eminent naval power, Britain. “Transposed to today, this would mean that New Delhi will be largely amenable to cooperation with the US (although opposed to any formal alliance) while it works on economic development and constructs a military adequate to fulfil its political aims,” James Holmes of the US Naval War College told Outlook. He added, “To me, an India that can police its own home region is a good thing, not only for itself, but for the region. Not least, this would relieve the US military some of the security burden at a time when we could use some relief.”India has a “blue water” navy, which means that it has the capacity to operate at least 200 miles away from its shores on the high seas. It also boasts the fourth largest navy in the world. Says Holmes, “The Indian navy is a more than respectable fleet. The measure of a navy is whether it can concentrate combat power at a decisive point, not whether it matches up with potential adversaries in the pages of Jane’s Fighting Ships.” Agrees Commodore (retd) C. Uday Bhaskar, “Currently, India is still a medium naval power, (but one) which is also handicapped since much of the critical hardware is still imported.”

“Currently, India is still a medium naval power that’s also handicapped since much of the critical hardware is still imported.”C. Uday Bhaskar, Commodore (Retired)

India’s naval weaknesses prompt sceptics to warn that India should not rush in to act as a counter-weight to China. Their caution stems from the belief that the US is not a reliable partner. As proof, they offer that India did not even receive mention in Obama’s first speech on Asian security delivered in 2009; while in the next 24 months, Washington has U-turned and begun to talk of the region as the Indo-Pacific. So, what changed in two years could well come in for a further review in, say, 2013.Even the Indian naval establishment does not see “balancing China” as a top priority. With progressive improvement in India’s nautical capacity, Bhaskar feels the much-needed “equipoise” in the Indo-Chinese relations would naturally follow. In other words, he means India should consciously improve its navy—but not in order to match China’s. As he explains, “I believe India should not seek to either balance or equal China in military terms. Equipoise that will ensure that India is neither deferential nor belligerent is the preferred posture and this has to be complemented by political perspicacity and will.”

This, perhaps, is the course India should set out for itself in the coming years, at least till such time it manages to grow into a real “oceanic power”. For a reality check to all the hype, know this to be fact: emerging as an oceanic power has not yet become part of the Indian navy’s perspective planning.

Juan Manuel Santos: ‘It is time to think again about the war on drugs’

Juan Manuel Santos: ‘It is time to think again about the war on drugs’

Colombia’s president speaks frankly of the price his country has paid and his success in dismantling the cartels

Juan Manuel Santos

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos. Photograph: Felipe Caicedo/AP

The security detail at the presidential offices in Bogotá was understandably heavy. Armed police and the military were much in evidence as President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia hosted the leaders of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru for a regional economic summit. The security forces outside the Palacio de Nariño in the city centre had extra reason to be on high alert – the summit last Tuesday came only days after Colombian special forces shot and killed Alfonso Cano, leader of the Farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla group.

It was a major success for Santos, an increasingly influential figure in Latin American politics. The former Brazilian president, Lula da Silva, said recently that Santos, who comes to Britain in two weeks, was assuming the mantle of a continental leader.

Da Silva’s compliment is true in at least one respect, since Santos has emerged as the leading voice on the international political stage calling for a major rethink on the war on drugs. Santos’s call for a new debate about drug regulation is heavily symbolic, since Colombia has suffered more than any other country at the hands of narcotics traffickers.

Santos has drawn attention to the damage suffered by the producing nations in Latin America as they continue to serve the growing demand for drugs in the consuming nations of the west. His voice is becoming the key one in trying to set the terms for a new international discussion about the war.

Santos, an urbane, affable 60-year-old, who was elected last year, is well placed to lead the global debate. He is a keen internationalist and was educated at Harvard and the London School of Economics. One colleague described London as his “dream city”. His visit to Britain will be part of his attempt to rebrand his country – from the failed state of 10 years ago to an emerging economic powerhouse in Latin America. The killing of Cano is the latest stage in that journey.

Santos’s response in the days since Cano’s death – widely described in the local media as the most significant blow to the Farc – has avoided triumphalism. And with good reason. In the month leading up to Cano’s assassination, more than 20 soldiers were killed by the Farc. With those deaths came the first signs of public disquiet that the security gains made in the previous 10 years were starting to slip away. As the leading political magazine, Semana, said: “The killing of Cano couldn’t have come at a better time for the government.”

The Farc emerged in the mid-60s as a Marxist-Leninist group determined to overthrow a state which it saw as riven by inequalities, one where power and high office, both economically and politically, was dominated by an elite group of families. Farc’s leftwing ideology was driven by a clutch of university-educated young men and women and was part of a wider movement in Latin America where revolutionary groups were taking up arms in search of social justice and in response to the grinding poverty and gross inequalities across the continent.

At the height of its power in the 1990s the Farc controlled a third of Colombian territory. Now that it is much reduced and scattered to the remotest parts of the country in the wake of the decade-long military offensive, many Colombians believe the Farc’s ideological fervour has mostly disappeared. But in its place has come an increasing appetite for drug trafficking.

Colombia is now emerging from its darkest days of guerrilla and narcotics warfare. It is attracting ever more foreign investment to its born-again cities of Bogotá and Medellín. Where strife and terrorism were once routine, there are now real signs of a civic and economic revival – cities being regenerated, booming tourism and impressive growth rates. It is this economic story which Santos will relay on his visit to Britain.

But Colombia’s recent history still bears the deep scars of its battle with drugs. As Santos says: “We dismantled the drug cartels. Those big cartels that had our democracy on its knees – they no longer exist. The only big cartel still is the Farc but we have weakened them more and more.”

It is in this context – as the president of a country that was very nearly broken by a combination of drug cartels and guerrilla narcotics traffickers – that Santos’s recent pronouncements on the war on drugs are all the more remarkable. Last month he said: “The world needs to discuss new approaches… we are basically still thinking within the same framework as we have done for the last 40 years.”

Santos has gone further than any other leading politician in opening up the debate. In an interview with the Observer he spelled out the radical ideas which he hopes will create a fresh approach. He said: “A new approach should try and take away the violent profit that comes with drug trafficking… If that means legalising, and the world thinks that’s the solution, I will welcome it. I’m not against it.”

But he is clear that any initiatives need to be part of a co-ordinated international plan of action and he rules out any unilateral action by Colombia. “What I won’t do is to become the vanguard of that movement because then I will be crucified. But I would gladly participate in those discussions because we are the country that’s still suffering most and have suffered most historically with the high consumption of the UK, the US, and Europe in general.”

Santos is prepared to go much further than others – he is opening up a debate about legalising marijuana and perhaps cocaine.

“I would talk about legalising marijuana and more than just marijuana. If the world thinks that this is the correct approach, because for example in our case we used to be exporters, but we were replaced by the producers of California. And there even was a referendum in California to legalise it and they lost it but they could have won. I ask myself how would you explain marijuana being legalised in California and cocaine consumption being penalised in Idaho? It’s a contradiction. So it’s a difficult problem where you set the limits. It’s a difficult decision. For example, I would never legalise very hard drugs like morphine or heroin because in fact they are suicidal drugs. I might consider legalising cocaine if there is a world consensus because this drug has affected us most here in Colombia. I don’t know what is more harmful, cocaine or marijuana. That’s a health discussion. But again, only if there is a consensus.”

Santos is not alone. There is a growing impatience in the producing countries of Latin America that suffer acutely as their drug cartels feed the demand in the consuming countries.

For Santos and his country, the issue of drugs looms much larger than for the consuming nations. For Colombia, drugs are “a matter of national security” whereas, for others, “it is mainly a health and crime issue”. He speaks eloquently of the price his country has paid – and continues to pay – for feeding the west’s appetite for illicit drugs. “We have gone through a tremendous experience – dramatic and costly for a society to live through. We have lost our best judges, our best politicians, our best journalists, our best policemen in this fight against drugs and the problem’s still there.”

It is difficult to overestimate the symbolic importance of a Colombian president entering the debate with such force, given the central role drugs have played in his country’s recent bloody history. Santos is all too aware of the symbolism and of the role he is playing. “Yes, I know, and I’m conscious of what this means. I’ve told President Calderón [of Mexico], ‘You and I have a lot more authority to talk about this because our countries have spilled a lot of blood fighting drug traffickers and we should promote this discussion.”

If the war on drugs has failed, it has failed most abjectly in Latin America. That is where the bodies are buried. Or not so much buried, since the Mexican drug gangs prefer to litter the bodies of their victims along the byways and highways of the border towns with America, or leave them hanging from bridges to serve as a public warning to anyone who gets in their way.

Last week drugs gangs beheaded a blogger in Nuevo Laredo for reporting on the activities of the Zetas, the narcotics gang that all but controls the Mexican city that sits on its border with America. A month earlier, they beheaded a 39-year-old woman who blogged for the same site. In September, they hanged a couple from a highway overpass and left a note saying they had been killed for “their social media activity”. These are four killings out of about 42,000 in the past five years. The price of drugs in Latin America can be costed in dollars, but in wasted lives too.

The fallout from the interminable war goes deeper – since the vast funds of narcotics trafficking have been used to corrupt their bodies politic. One former Colombian president, Ernesto Samper, has been publicly accused of having been swept to power on the back of the Cali drug cartels. Drugs have posed a threat to the very existence of civic institutions in many of the countries on the frontline of the war on drugs.

But Latin America is starting to take the fight to the consuming nations in Europe and the US. President Felipe Calderón of Mexico joined the debate in September when he used a speech in New York to hit out at consumer nations that were not doing enough to reduce demand. He took direct aim at the US, saying: “We are living in the same building. And our neighbour is the largest consumer of drugs in the world and everybody wants to sell him drugs through our doors and windows.”

Calderón went further and suggested that if the consumption of drugs could not be limited, “then decision-makers must seek more solutions – including market alternatives – in order to reduce the astronomical earnings of criminal organisations”. The phrase “market alternatives” was widely assumed to be a call for a new debate in the US about whether legalised or regulated drug markets might be an alternative to the war on drugs.

The more vociferous these Latin American voices become, the more difficult it will be for the leaders of the consuming nations to remain silent in the debate over the effectiveness of the war.

It was these western leaders that the Global Commission on Drug Policywas addressing when it released its landmark report earlier this year. The 19-person commission includes former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, former US secretary of state George Shultz, former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker and former presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil and César Gaviria of Colombia.

The report’s first line was: “The war on drugs has failed.” After detailing the costs, ineffectiveness and harmful effects of the drugs war, it made this plea: “Political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately… that the war on drugs has not, and cannot, be won.”

This week a House of Lords event on drugs policy reform, organised by Baroness Meacher, will include an impressive list of attendees from around the world. It is an attempt to engage the debate, but no frontline British politicians will be there to hear people such as the Colombian interior minister speak. Privately, many senior British politicians support the initiative to try to help generate a new debate on drugs – but publicly they are invisible.

So it is left to Santos and others to stir the debate and try to promote a wider discussion. “I hope there is a shift in the debate. I am open to, and I welcome these discussions and this debate,” he says. “We are the country who has suffered most of any country. Hopefully the world will enter into a fruitful and dynamic debate on this issue and if they find a new solution I’ll be even more than happy to support it.”

But political leaders in the consuming countries have not yet shown any appetite for joining the debate. In fact, quite the opposite. “This is a very sensitive political subject and there’s a lot of hypocrisy there,” says Santos. “Many leaders, in private, they will say something and they tell me something and in public they say, ‘But I can’t do this probably because my people will really crucify me’.”

One of the most glaring contradictions is in the United States. While on the one hand a growing number of states in the US have semi-legalised marijuana (it is freely available from cannabis dispensaries with an easy-to-obtain doctor’s prescription) on the other hand the country pours billions of dollars into helping the Mexican military fight the drug cartels which are busy trying to get marijuana into the US.

Barack Obama declared the war on drugs to be “an utter failure”. He went on to say: “We need to rethink how we are operating in the drug wars because currently we are not doing a good job.” But that was in January 2004.

There are, of course, isolated victories in the war and the manner in which Colombia disrupted much of the drug trade is a case in point. This was principally because of Plan Colombia, which involved a massive programme of financial and military aid. While Plan Colombia is credited with having saved the Colombian state, the “victory”, as even Santos admits, is a Pyrrhic one.

“We are now helping other countries, the Caribbean countries, Central American countries, Mexico, because our success means more problems for them,” he says. “There’s the balloon effect.” Meaning, that the problem is simply displaced, to another country – or even another continent, as in the case of Guinea Bissau in west Africa.

The other indices of the war on drugs do not make for encouraging reading. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that nearly 23 million Americans are illicit drug users. That is 8.9% of its adult population, up from 2008-09 when the rate was 8%. The number of marijuana users has gone up from 14.4 million in 2007 to 17.4 million in 2010.

As for the amount of land given over to the planting of coca – the raw material of cocaine – estimates vary. The UN suggests that coca production has fallen in Colombia – but neighbouring countries have seen a rise. The balloon effect plays out here too – if planting and transporting are disrupted in one part of Latin America the problem goes away – to a neighbouring country.

Santos is sketching a new future for Colombia and trying to imagine one that will not involve his country being held back by either narcotics or guerrilla warfare. His military attacks on the Farc go hand in hand with a determined attempt to try to wipe out the country’s extreme poverty – the social and economic malaise which first brought the guerrilla group into life.

By Colombia’s own reckoning, there are up to seven million people living in extreme poverty (favela-like housing with no electricity or clean water). Santos says: “We want to be a country with a competitive edge in the world. And a country with a solid democracy. To do that we need to attack the social problems, and extreme poverty is probably the worst of those. People in the UK don’t imagine what it is to live in extreme poverty here in Colombia or anywhere in the so-called third world.”

“I think that we are trying to move towards the first world slowly but surely. But we must do a good job for the people left way behind. That’s why extreme poverty for us is a priority. There was a phrase that President Kennedy used to use a lot, ‘You cannot be rich if you’re surrounded by poor’. And Colombia is a very unequal country, one of the most unequal countries in the world. If we don’t correct that we will never be really competitive and we will never really have a solid democracy.”

His impressive poverty tsar, Samuel Azout, a former businessman and philanthropist, is leading the drive to eradicate extreme poverty. In his office there is a framed portrait of Kennedy and a series of large framed signs. One reads: “A business that only makes money is a poor business.” Another says: “The causes of poverty are interconnected, so the solutions should be joined up too: health, education, housing, justice.”

“Less poverty aids economic growth,” says Azout. “Economic growth is necessary but not sufficient in lifting people out of poverty. You also need direct action. Extreme poverty is an obsession for me, and for President Santos too.” A hugely ambitious programme launched last week involves housing, child development centres, social workers and the establishment of “extreme poverty-free zones”.

Perhaps even more significant for his country is the law Santos passed in July, the victims and land restitution law – an attempt finally to restore millions of acres of land to Colombians driven from their homes by the decades of violence. Many Colombian observers feel that this will be Santos’s legacy. In the past 20 years, nearly 4 million people across an area of 6.5m hectares (16m acres) have been displaced by armed conflict.

Santos says: “In 10 years’ time I hope that people will say finally we are a country that is living in peace and that we have a very strong democracy, a dynamic democracy that has been able to progress socially and that we no longer have this shameful title of being one of the most unequal countries in Latin America.”

When Santos arrives in London, it will be to sell the new Colombia and help to drive British investment, which he sees as potentially a key player in his country’s development. He is not likely to spend much time talking about drugs, but he has this message for young Britons: “I will say to them that, besides the blood that every sniff of cocaine produces, it’s also producing something to which the UK youth and the European youth and the youth around the world are more and more sensitive. It’s creating havoc to the environment. Cocaine is probably the worst enemy of tropical forest. Much of the deforestation that you see in Colombia, in Peru, in Brazil is because of cocaine production. So it is not only the blood that it creates, the violence it creates – it’s destroying the world.”


100% Three Andean countries – Colombia, Peru and Bolivia – are responsible for virtually all global coca leaf production, the raw material for cocaine.

149,100 In 2010, coca was cultivated on 149,100 hectares in the Andean countries – an area roughly one and a half times the size of Hong Kong – down from 221,300 hectares in 2000.

6% In 2010, the global area under coca cultivation decreased by 6%, mainly due to a significant reduction in Colombia that was not entirely offset by a small increase in Peru.

732,000 The amount of cocaine seized worldwide in 2009 was 732,000kg – which refers to seizures unadjusted for purity. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that between 46% and 60% of cocaine produced was seized – an indication of the amount manufactured the previous year.

444,000 The best reading of data and estimates suggests that about 440,000kg of pure cocaine was consumed worldwide in 2009. This would be in line with a production estimate of about 1.1m kg and purity adjusted seizures of 615,000kg, plus agricultural and other losses of about 55,000kg (which represents 5% of production).

$85bn The value of the global cocaine market is lower than in the mid-1990s, when prices were much higher and the US market was strong. In 1995, the global market was worth about $165bn, while, in 2009, this had been reduced to just over half of that.

99% Of that $85bn income from global cocaine retail sales in 2009, traffickers are estimated to have reaped about $84bn (almost 99%). The rest went to Andean farmers.

5m The US has the highest prevalence of cocaine use (2.4% of the population, or five million people, aged 15-64), but there are indications of cocaine use declining in the last few years.

$33bn The amount of cocaine consumed in Europe has doubled in the last decade. The volume and value of the western and central European cocaine market, currently valued at $33bn, is now approaching parity with that of the US ($37bn).

80% Two thirds of European cocaine users live in three countries: the UK, Spain and Italy. With Germany and France, these countries represent 80% of European cocaine consumption.

272m Globally, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that between 149 and 272 million people – 3.3%-6.1% of the population aged 15-64 – used illicit drugs at least once in the previous year.

Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Plan Colombia not over

Colombian right-wing paramilitary AUC.

United States Undersecretary of State James Steinberg, speaking in Bogota on October 26, claimed the future relationship between Washington and its most favoured client in Latin America, Colombia, would be based on “reciprocity and mutual respect”.

The stated purpose of Steinberg’s visit was to “re-launch the agenda” of US-Colombian relations” by initiating a “High-Level Partnership Dialogue”.

Steinberg’s remarks tied in with similar recent statements by other senior US diplomatic officials. The new rhetoric has been interpreted as nothing less than “the unofficial end of the ‘Plan Colombia’ era” by Just the Facts, a think tank specialising in US-Latin American relations.

It is true that the Obama administration has sought to distance itself from the multi-billion dollar “aid” package to the brutal Colombian regime initiated during the Clinton administration and expanded by Bush.

But it is clear that underlying foreign policy objectives have not changed.

Plan Colombia was sold to the taxpaying public as a necessary component of the “war on drugs”. In fact, it was a vehicle for furthering the traditional designs of US imperialism, of which there is a long and bitter history in Colombia.

Under Plan Colombia, which first received US congressional funding in 2000, billions of dollars have flowed to the Colombian military supposedly to combat the menace of drug trafficking.

This approach flew in the face of research that consistently showed the best and most cost-effective way to deal with the drug problem was by investing in measures to reduce domestic demand.

Planners were well aware that militarising the problem would not lead to a net reduction of cocaine production in the Andean region, but that scarcely mattered.

The drug war provided a justification for the projection of US power into regions controlled by the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerillas in southern Colombia. This projection used conventional military units and affiliated paramilitaries who engaged in narcotics trafficking on a far greater scale than any of Colombia’s rebel groups.

Having spent US$7.6 billion, Plan Colombia has yielded some noteworthy results. This includes the violent reduction of the FARC’s estimated strength from 20,000 to 8000 (a point dramatically underscored by the November 4 assassination by Colombian special forces of FARC leader Alfonso Cano).

In reality, however, the targets of Washington’s Plan Colombia offensive are not only armed FARC or National Liberation Army (ELN) guerillas but also any peasant and indigenous groups standing in the way of capitalist globalisation.

Human Rights Everywhere estimates that today, of the 32 indigenous Colombian peoples faced with the imminent threat of annihilation, 20 are directly threatened by the huge expansion of mining operations.

It would therefore be wrong to describe Plan Colombia as a complete failure. Of course, it has failed miserably to make an impact on drug flows into the US, but in other areas it has proven well worth the investment of public monies on behalf of private economic power.

The corporate legal news outlet Mondaq said on October 17: “The mining industry has progressively gained an important role in the Colombian economy …

“In the past decade, Colombian mining and petroleum industries have doubled their exports; in the first trimester alone of 2010 this sector grew 13.2 percent.”

Colombia possesses the largest coal reserves in the hemisphere. Growth in this sector is predicted to increase exponentially in the next few decades.

It is no accident that this capitalist success story the conquest of Colombia痴 natural resources has coincided with the violent implementation of Plan Colombia.

Military and paramilitary aggression, and chemical warfare via aerial spraying by US contractors, has led to tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more 2.5 million internal refugees the largest refugee crisis in the Americas.

Every refugee has a horrifying story to tell, such as the following testimony provided by a member of the Kwet Wala reservation to Colombian human rights monitoring agency Verdad Abierta: “A family that went out of the reservation disappeared in 2001: father, mother and a nine-year-old child. They were found a few days later in a shallow grave near the [right-wing paramilitary] AUC encampment.

“Their severed sexual organs had been stuffed in their mouth. The child had been scalped with a machete.”

NATO Reveals Airstrike In Support of Troops On the Ground In Pakistan

NATO reveals troops were on the ground in Pakistan

An ISAF spokesman made the startling revelation on Saturday that the Mohmand attack by NATO-ISAF helicopters was in response to a call by ISAF ground forces in the area who called for help when they were attacked.

It was an operation of the Afghan national security forces and coalition forces close to the border in eastern Kunar very early in the day in the darkness. In the situation that developed on the ground, close air support was called by the ground force and it is highly likely that this air support that was then brought forward caused the incident, spokesman Carlston Jacob told a private TV channel. Spokesman Jacob made the disclosure while refusing to give details of the incident.
If his statement is correct it means that US/NATO ground forces were already in the area and when they were trapped or confronted they called for air support which came and killed Pakistan Army troops and officers.
He repeatedly said that he was waiting for the result of investigations and once the full picture was available he would comment.
He also declined to give a time line for concluding the investigation and said it will take its time. We have to go through the process and have to talk with Pakistani side and find out what led to the incident, he said.
He said he regretted the loss of life but did not offer any apologies until the probe was completed. 

The Universal Declaration of Human rights and Its Violation in Balochistan

The Universal Declaration of Human rights and Its Violation in Balochistan

There are 30 articles of Universal Declaration of Human rights, which are violated in Balochistan by Pakistan state and its forces and guilty of all human rights violations but the silence of human rights organizations is a question mark?, A blind man who can’t see but he knows that atrocity is on its peak in Balochistan because he hears the cry of innocent Balochs everyday, as well as dumb who can not speak but he also know about atrocity on Balochs everyday, he can see mutilated dead bodies of Baloch missing persons, but the dumbness of UN and many human rights organizations and NGOs which they are serving in Balochistan can hear well and feel better every thing but are still silent WHY ??? The state has violating all the articles of Universal Declaration of Human rights in Balochistan, Here I have exposed some articles of Universal Declaration of Human rights which are violated in Balochistan by Pakistan on daily basis, every one can hear, see and feel easily.

1.* All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

2. * The behaviour of Pakistani rulers with Balochs are visible, the whole world is watching that Pakistani state enslaved Baloch nation and acting what kind of inhumane treatment with them.

3.* Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. * In 27 march 1948 Pakistan altered liberty of Baloch nation from British colonials into slavery. Since that day until now, not a single day passes a mutilated dead body of a Baloch son has found to their relatives. Everything is unsafe for Balochs.

4.* No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. * On 27 March 1948 Pakistan state forcefully occupied sovereign state of Balochistan and oppressing the Baloch nation and Pakistan itself bargaining Balochistan’s coast and resources with other countries and firming its economy by genocide of Baloch Nation, which is not noticed by any Human rights bodies yet.

5.* No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. * As far as the tyrant inhuman treatment, degrading punishment and cruel torturing is concerned, the state and its secret agencies has tortured to death thousands and thousands of innocent Balochs in their torture cells and still doing it. The cruelty, degrading treatment and inhuman acts including such as giving high electric shots, wipe out the nails of hands and foot and its tops, cut the corpus and then pouring peppers on fresh wounds, taking off all the clothes and then hang up inverted, emitting and taking off the teeth, throw deadly acid and urinate on faces, tighten up and hang up inverted without clothes in extremely cold nights under the open sky, keeping in caves with warm fabrics in extremely hot season, cutting off the hands, arms and foot from entire body and then shot in head and then throw away the dead bodies like a plastic bags. Such inhuman torturing to death, cruelty and tyranny is on daily basis in Balochistan.

6.* Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. Violation. * The state law has never considered Balochs as humans or at least the citizens. 8.* Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law. * The state’s court and justice system has never accepted the Freedom of Balochs, and never release those Baloch Freedom lovers who abducted by agencies, the International court of justice is also being silent spectator, they cant hear the voice and feel the pain of Balochs, when 400 people died in Libya the UN reached the sky for Libyan people, but here the thousands and thousands people are been killed since the day of illegal occupation of Balochistan, thousands and thousands are been killed in just last couple of years, the UN is being silent spectator here. 9.* No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. * The Pakistan state since the day of occupation from 1948 till now has arrested thousands of innocent Balochs (including under aged), kidnapped and abducted, among many of them are tortured to death and killed brutally they never came back till today now, themothers and sisters of abducted missing Baloch people protest in front of press clubs on daily basis thinking that their loved ones will return one day home, but not knowing they will never come back and are tortured to death and killed brutally in torture cells of Pakistan, because of this fear thousands of Balochs are living their life in exile outside of their motherland.

10.* Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him. * The rulers and its state agencies arrest and abduct Balochs and put them in torture cells without any tribunal and court charges, later the agency’s death squads shot them to death without any court charges what so ever, no one take them to state court of justice, from last more then 60 years only a very few number has been expounded to courts but they spent their most of their lifetime and even entire lifetime as prisoners, the examples of victims are Wahid Qambar Baloch, Fazul Haider etc and many more.

12.* No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. * Balochs have no value in Pakistan; the state doesn’t ever value Baloch people what so ever, for them we are just criminals. The Pakistani air force has destroyed the homes, personal properties, burned down the vehicles and agricultural properties of Baloch people in heavy military offences since the day of occupation till now still going on, their number is countless, even no any media coverage is allowed, Those Baloch journalists who expose the tyranny and these atrocities are been killed to death by forces without any court charges. Fact is that Pakistan and Pakistanis want ‘Balochistan’ not “Baloch people”, they want to make us slave and colonize us like this forever so they loot Balochs’ resources and give zero in return and we only accept their slavery. As fair as the Honor and reputation is concerned the Pakistan state and its rulers have done and still doing every cheap propaganda, to degrade the Baloch code of Honor and Baloch reputation with the help of their puppet paid sardars, for them we are only criminals, they are been taught in their books Baloch people as criminals and thieves, not only they destroyed and destroying Baloch Honour and reputation, occupied Balochs’ sovereign country and looting Baloch resources but also destroyed and destroying Baloch ancient History, culture and language, everything! by which Nation is known as, they want to wipe Baloch (people) Nation from the face of earth forever (like native Red Indians of America), in order to steal and loot Baloch national treasure, resources from Baloch homeland.

14.* (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. * (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. * Many Baloch leaders are living in exile in abroad leaving their homeland, leaving personal properties, leaving their parents because of state’s continuously tyranny, cruelty and atrocities, even in abroad the state tyrants don’t allow them freely to live peacefully and talk about Baloch and Balochistan’s Freedom, the big examples are arresting of Haribiyar Marri and Faiz Baloch in UK only cause of the millions lies and creating propaganda of Pakistani officials, now they seeking and making propaganda against Brahamdagh Bugti in Switzerland as well by blaming him as terrorist and denying the actual fact that the actual terrorists are state officials, its forces and intelligence agencies death squads, infact, who abduct, kill and then dump dead bodies of innocent Balochs on daily basis in their own homeland, by making Baloch people refugee in Baloch homeland, make us slave, name us as criminals invade Baloch land and occupy Baloch resources and kill Baloch in their own homeland. This leave doubt, don’t know how many Baloch leaders and activists who struggle for the Freedom of Balochistan in abroad are been assassinated and killed secretly by death squad, so that Baloch voice of Freedom don’t spread to world.

15.* (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality. * (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality. * In Pakistan no any Baloch is allowed to be Baloch Nationality, rather they changing Baloch original identity and nationality from Baloch to fundamentalists lunatic Pakistani forcefully, many Pakistanis have non liberal and non secular mindset, unlike the secular Balochs, for becoming Pakistani we have to be Pakistani (which means non liberal and non secular and possess Talibani-Mulla mindset) which Baloch people don’t accept it at all and the state is changing their original identity and nationality by force, by brainwashing them and taught them the wrong history, since the day when Pakistan occupied Balochistan Baloch people have never accepted Pakistan neither Pakistan state has accepted them as their citizen other then just criminals the state changing Baloch real identity and nationality by force. From the day of occupation on March 1948 till now those thousands and thousands of Baloch been abducted and been killed is because they have always talked about their original nationality, they have been tortured to death.

19.* Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. * In Pakistan no one has right of freedom of speech, opinion and expression, only those have rights who express and give opinion in favour of Pakistan, no matter if their opinion and expression is full of lies, misguidance, aberrancy and misleader or not, but no one has right to talk veritable actual truth or talk in favour of downtrodden for those who victims of tyranny, they have no any right, what so ever, if anyone do then according to Pakistani law they will be called as criminal and will drag to biased court and judges, after the release they will be either abducted and killed to death and their bodies will be found in jungle, or will be blamed in false fraud cases.

26.* (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. * (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. * (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. * All Baloch parents want that their children learn their mother tongue Balochi in schools, as well as scientific studies, but Pakistani state has never tolerated that Baloch people learn their national mother tongue or develop; there is no Balochi language in schools in Pakistan, not even a single school. The only thing Baloch kids are been taught the history of non Baloch (Indian/Pak) history, Indian people, history of Punjap. The wrong history, which is not even related to Baloch and Balochistan and ignore Baloch ancient history. There is only one single University in whole Balochistan (the largest and richest in resource country), in which the quota seats are given to all non Baloch people in majority from Punjap, there is no education for Balochs under the Pakistani regime.

27.* (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. * (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author. *During historical Cultural day of Baloch people on 2nd March 2010, the state facist terrorist forces ambushed on cultural day festival ruined the cultural show and killed several members of Baloch students organization among them Shaheed Junaid Baloch, Shaheed Sikandar Baloch and others, mocking the cultural traditional dress of Baloch people and harassing them by cutting their lower part of Shalwars is not new thing, its in daily basis. Pakistanis and Pakistan state has not only occupied Balochistan and looting Baloch resources but also destroyed and destroying history, culture, traditions and language. Everything! Pakistan is violating all 30 articles out of 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights in Balochistan against Baloch people everywhere, above are those articles which are slap on UN and Human rights organizations, I think there is no any other country is doing that Human rights violation then Pakistan who is violating the Human rights and doing crime against Humanity since 1948, But the UN and Human rights organization are silent. In last I appeal to the UN and Human rights organizations that they should send their officials themselves to Balochistan to see the Human right violation against the Baloch people in their own occupied homeland, and witness the tyranny and atrocities with their own eyes.

(This Article was published in Daily Tawar, written by Johar Baloch Awarani, translated into English by Beebark Kalmati)

On Islamic Sacred days also Baloch received mutilated bodies

On Islamic Sacred days also Baloch received mutilated bodies

Bolan Voice Report

In Islamic state prior to holidays like Eid people return to homes and join families for rejoice and celebration but ill-fated Balochs received mutilated bodies on the eve of this ritual. Instead of joy victim families mourned on this day of happiness and many of them spent entire day protesting for making visible to their missing beloved, because they are in great worry due to ongoing series of tortured bodies throwing. They are jeopardized whether theirs endear may not be next subject to death by torture. In previous month several reports of this story appeared in media, which are as like.

From Lasbela bullet riddled bodies of Faraz Naseem S/o Ulfat Naseem and Omid Ali were found from Windar area of district Lasbela. Eye-witnesses said that bodies of both victims bore clear signs of torture and bullet wounds on their heads. “The bodies bore multiple marks of torture. The bullets passed through their skulls,” family sources confirmed. Faraz Naseem and Omid Ali were abducted by forces in broad day-light in front of scores of people on 9 October 2011 from industrial town of Hub in Balochistan.

Two bullet-ridden bodies were found from different parts of pasni; the first body was founded abandoned in kappar area of the coastal town which was later identified as that of Mulha Bux son of Ibrahim. He was a resident of Nalyt area of Gwadar. The second body was found in Cahlunk region of Pasni town. The corps was identified as that of Zubair Zahid Baloch son of Bashir Baloch. He was a resident of Pasni and had been abducted on October 8, 2011 when he was on his way to Pasni from Gawadar.

Meanwhile two mutilated body have been discovered from Quetta and Mastung town of Balochistan. Sources reported one was found from Sabzal Road Quetta while the other was discovered from Zargat area of Dasht.

Police recovered three bodies from Turbat and Khuzdar. The victims were killed under-custody and abandoned in desolated areas. The bodies have been identified to be of Abdul Samad from Khuzdar and Ex-president of Baloch Republican Party (BRP) Mand zone, Gwahram S/o Khalid, a resident of Mand town. The third body was identified as of Ayyam S/o Mohammad Umer, he too was a resident of Mand town of Balochistan. Both Ayyam and Gwahram Baloch were abducted by security forces few months ago.

Another Baloch Journalist killed. According to reports a brutally tortured bullet-ridden body was found from Gazgi Chowk (Roundabout) area of Khuzdar town in Balochistan. The local authorities shifted the body to a nearby hospital where he has been identified as Jawed Naseer Rind Baloch. Naseer Rind was a Baloch Journalist, Columnist and member of political party Baloch National Movement (BNM). He was abducted on September 10, 2011 about 9 Pm by security agencies from his computer shop in Hub, the lone industrial town of Balochistan. Eye-witnesses had reported that over a dozen armed men came in two cars and ransacked the Baloch Journalist’s shop; a while later they saw the men dragging Naseer Rind to their car and drove off. Jawed Rind’s whereabouts remained unknown until 5-11-2011 when the unknown killed him under torture and dumped his body away.

A mutilated body of Baloch youth found from Dasht area of district Mastung. Afterward he had been identified as Mir Ahmed Marri, who was abducted from Hyderabad few days back. The relative of victim buried corpse in New Kahan in the suburb of Quetta an allocated ground for Baloch Martyred graveyard. The witness told media men that Mir Ahmed Marri was killed by torture and was signs of bullets on his upper torso.

If India is Most Favorite Nation, then who is responsible in Balochistan turbulence? Lashkari Raisani

If India is Most Favorite Nation, then who is responsible in Balochistan turbulence? Lashkari Raisani

By Asghar Khan Baloch

In previous days state foreign policy got somersaulted when Pakistani Foreign Minister Ms. Hina Rubbani Khar during press briefing to media representatives announced that Pakistan is going to declare India “Most Favorite Nation (MFN)” for trade. She claimed that present People Party government has taken all institutes in confidence about this resolve. Contrary to Ms. Khar claiming several personalities, politicians, parties including institutes have expressed dissuasion about this initiative. Because this decision doesn’t match with Pakistan’s ideology of structure, which has been teaching to country citizens from its day of creation that Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations. In this regard state institutes and authorities policies and claims become baseless or slacken that India is involved in Balochistan insurgency. Because by now state is going to knot trade ties with those who are heathen and pagan as well natural enemy of fortress of Islam Pakistan, called by state authorities. From this it seems that powerful or state does always right and powerless Baloch and Sindhi nationalists’ deeds are sinful. Former president of Pakistan People Party Balochistan and presently holding seat in senate Haji Lashkari Raisani expressed amazement on declaring India Most Favorite Nation. In past rulers who had made ties with India had declared traitor and they were banished, as well they were severely tortured, and that’s why now state has to apologize to those leaders. He said. Talking to media men Mr. Raisani said that from first day the small provinces adopted stance that India isn’t our foe but she is our neighbor. The state wasn’t agree to concede this logic. I am amazed on declaring India as Most Favorite Nation by state. He expressed. We have been taught for six decades that India is not our neighbor but only enemy and she is involved in Balochistan turbulence through her agency “Raw”. But now suddenly enemy state is being declared Most Favorite, so being a Balochistani this question raises in my mind that if India is Favorite Nation then who is responsible for unrest in Balochistan? He inquired. Mr. Raisani queried that they need explanations of this blame, if favorite country is not involved in Balochistan disorder, then might be state’s agencies or international powers responsible for this? The divulging of this mystery is also responsibility of state. Mr. Raisani remarked. In past political leaders had been declared traitor by state for making efforts to establish ties with India. Such leaders had suffered in agonies of prison by state, but today Pakistan is declaring India as Most Favorite Nation, thus present rulers also have to apologize for doing this misdeed. He emphasized. Mr. Raisani expressed concern about non-commence of negotiation process in Balochistan due to lacking seriousness in matter, hence this process is not advancing. Albeit President and Prime Minister have made authorized to Chief Minister and Governor Balochistan for negotiations with estrange Balochs, now it depends on them how to deal the matter in large interest of province and country. He is unaware whether CM and Governor have contacted to someone or not. Mr. Raisani Maintained. I found both sides groups faulty because of contradiction in allegations. But I consider responsible state for being more powerful. Some people had contacted me and were intended to be part of negotiation honorably, but I have not received positive response from state authorities, because of that I got disappointed. We are living in an interconnected society; hence interactions with each other are natural facts. Mr. Lashkari Raisani informed.

In the words of a zealot…

In the words of a zealot…

Swami Aseemanand’s chilling confession is the first legal evidence of RSS pracharaks’ involvement in the Samjhauta Express and 2006 Malegaon blasts. ASHISH KHETAN scoops the 42-page document that reveals a frightening story of hate and deliberate mayhem


ON 18 DECEMBER 2010, a team of CBI sleuths escorted an elderly Bengali man Naba Kumar Sarkar, 59 — popularly known as Swami Aseemanand — from Tihar jail to the Tis Hazari court in Delhi, where he was produced before metropolitan magistrate Deepak Dabas. Aseemanand is the key accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast that killed nine people. This was his second court appearance in a span of little over 48 hours. On 16 December, Aseemanand had requested the magistrate to record his confession about his involvement in a string of terror attacks. He stated that he was making the confession without any fear, force, coercion or inducement.

In accordance with the law, the magistrate asked Aseemanand to reflect over his decision and sent him to judicial custody for two days — away from any police interference or influence.

On 18 December, Aseemanand returned, resolute. The magistrate asked everybody except his stenographer to leave his chamber. “I know I can be sentenced to the death penalty but I still want to make the confession,” Aseemanand said.

Over the next five hours, in an unprecedented move, Aseemanand laid bare an explosive story about the involvement of a few Hindutva leaders, including himself, in planning and executing a series of gruesome terror attacks. Over the past few years, several pieces of the Hindutva terror puzzle have slowly been falling into place — each piece corroborating and validating what has gone before. First, the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Dayanand Pandey, Lt Col Shrikant Purohit and others in 2008. The seizure of 37 audio tapes from Pandey’s laptop that featured all these people discussing their terror activities. And most recently, the Rajasthan ATS’ chargesheet on the 2007 Ajmer Sharif blast. Aseemanand’s confession, however, is likely to prove one of the most crucial pieces for investigative agencies.

Unlike police interrogation reports or confessions, under clause 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), confessions before a magistrate are considered legally admissible evidence. Aseemanand’s statement, therefore, is extremely crucial and will have serious ramifications.

According to him, it was not Muslim boys but a team of RSS pracharaks who exploded bombs in Malegaon in 2006 and 2008, on the Samjhauta Express in 2007, in Ajmer Sharif in 2007 and Mecca Masjid in 2007. Apart from the tragic loss of innocent lives in these blasts, what makes this admission doubly disturbing is that, in keeping with their habitual practice, scores of Muslim boys were wrongly picked up by the Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra Police, in collusion with sections of the Intelligence Bureau, and tortured and jailed for these blasts — accentuating the shrill paranoia about a vast and homegrown Islamist terror network. Many of these boys were acquitted after years in jail; some are still languishing inside, their youth and future destroyed, their families reduced to penury.

In a curious twist, however, in one of those inexplicable human experiences that no one can account for, according to Aseemanand, it was an encounter with one of these jailed Muslim boys that triggered a momentous emotional transformation in him, forcing him to confront his conscience and make amends. This is what Aseemanand told the judge: “Sir, when I was lodged in Chanchalguda district jail in Hyderabad, one of my co-inmates was Kaleem. During my interaction with Kaleem I learnt that he was previously arrested in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast case and he had to spend about oneand- a-half years in prison. During my stay in jail, Kaleem helped me a lot and used to serve me by bringing water, food, etc for me. I was very moved by Kaleem’s good conduct and my conscience asked me to do prayschit (penance) by making a confessional statement so that real culprits can be punished and no innocent has to suffer.”

At this point, the magistrate asked his stenographer to leave so the confession could continue without restraint.

Tell-all evidence? A photocopy of Swami Aseemanand’s 42-page confession before the magistrate
Tell-all evidence? A photocopy of Swami Aseemanand’s 42-page confession before the magistrate

In a signed statement written in Hindi that runs into 42 pages — and which is in TEHELKA’s possession — Aseemanand then proceeded to unravel the inner workings of the Hindutva terror network. According to him, it was not just a rump group like the ultra-right wing organisation Abhinav Bharat that engineered blasts but, shockingly, RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar who allegedly handpicked and financed some RSS pracharaks to carry out terror attacks.

“Indreshji met me at Shabri Dham (Aseemanand’s ashram in the Dangs district of Gujarat) sometime in 2005,” Aseemanand told the magistrate. “He was accompanied by many top RSS functionaries. He told me that exploding bombs was not my job and instead told me to focus on the tribal welfare work assigned to me by the RSS. He said he had deputed Sunil Joshi for this job (terror attacks) and he would extend Joshi whatever help was required.” Aseemanand further narrated how Indresh financed Joshi for his terror activities and provided him men to plant bombs. Aseemanand also confessed to his own role in the terror plots and how he had motivated a bunch of RSS pracharaks and other Hindu radicals to carry out terror strikes at Malegaon, Hyderabad and Ajmer. (TEHELKA tried contacting Indresh several times for his side of the story. He said he would call back but didn’t.)

While evidence of the involvement of RSS pracharaks in the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts has been growing with every new arrest, Aseemanand’s confession is the first direct evidence of the involvement of Hindutva extremists in the 2006 Malegaon blasts and the Samjhauta Express blast. The evidence — both, direct and indirect — pieced together by the CBI shows that the broad terror conspiracy to target Muslims and their places of religious worship was hatched around 2001.

Three RSS pracharaks from Madhya Pradesh — Sunil Joshi, Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange — were apparently at the core of this conspiracy. As the three became more audacious in their terror ambitions they started inducting like-minded Hindutva radicals from other states, mainly Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. While the new entrants were mostly from the RSS, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, some members of fringe saffron groups like Abhinav Bharat, Jai Vande Matram and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram also joined the fray.

However, Joshi, Kalsangra and Dange took the precaution of not sharing too many details with members outside the core group. Joshi strictly followed the doctrine of division of work on a ‘need-tok-now’ basis, with each member knowing only his part of the job.

Aseemanand, who ran a Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Dang, first came in contact with Sunil Joshi in 2003 but it was only in March 2006 that he became actively involved in the terror plot.

It was the spirited investigation into the 2008 Malegaon blast by Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare that first blew the lid off this broad Hindutva terror conspiracy. Karkare arrested 11 Hindutva radicals, including Lt Col Purohit, who was attached with the military intelligence unit at Nashik; Dayanand Pandey, a self-styled religious guru who ran an ashram named Sharda Peeth in Jammu and Sadhvi Pragya, an ABVP leader turned into an ascetic, for their role in the 2008 Malegaon blast.

But Karkare’s sudden and ironic killing at the hands of Islamist jihadis in the Mumbai 26/11 attack derailed the saffron terror investigation. The Maharashtra ATS under its new chief KP Raghuvanshi failed to arrest Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange and instead passed them off as minor players in the chargesheet.

The investigation picked up pace again in May 2010 with the arrest of two RSS pracharaks — Devendra Gupta and Lokesh Sharma — by the Rajasthan ATS which was probing the Ajmer blast case. Gupta was the RSS Vibagh Pracharak of Muzaffarnagar, Bihar. He provided logistical support to Joshi, Kalsangra and Dange and harboured the latter two in RSS offices while they were on the run from agencies.

Lokesh Sharma was a RSS worker close to Joshi. He purchased the two Nokia phones that were used to trigger bombs at Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Sharif. It is Sharma’s interrogation that revealed for the first time that RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar was a key figure in the terror conspiracy. The joint investigation of the Rajasthan ATS and CBI, in fact, went on to reveal that, except Pragya Singh Thakur, all those who were arrested by the Maharashtra ATS in 2008 were actually fringe players while the core group comprising Indresh Kumar, Kalsangra and Dange allegedly held the key to the full terror plot.

In June 2010, the CBI examined a witness named Bharat Riteshwar, a resident of district Valsad in Gujarat and a close associate of Swami Aseemanand. Riteshwar told the CBI that Sunil Joshi was a protégé of Indresh and had his approval and logistical support for carrying out terror attacks.

On 19 November 2010 the CBI cracked down on a hideout in Haridwar and arrested Swami Aseemanand, who had been a fugitive for over two years since Sadhvi Pragya’s arrest in October 2008. His arrest unlocked many more pieces.

NABA KUMAR — alias Swami Aseemanand — was originally from Kamaarpukar village in Hooghly district in West Bengal — the birthplace of Ramakrishna Paramhansa. In 1971, after completing his BSc (honours) from Hooghly, Naba Kumar went to Bardman district to pursue a master’s degree in science. Though he was involved with RSS activities from school, it was during his post-graduation years that Naba Kumar became an active RSS member. In 1977, he started working full-time with the RSS-run Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Purulia and Bankura districts. In 1981, his guru Swami Parmanand rechristened him as Swami Aseemanand.

From 1988 to 1993, he served with the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram at Andaman and Nicobar islands. Between 1993 and 1997, he toured across India to deliver sermons on Hindu religion among the tribals. In 1997, he settled down in the Dangs district in Gujarat and started a tribal welfare organisation called Shabri Dham. Aseemanand was known in the area for his rabid anti-minority speeches and his relentless campaign against Christian missionaries.

Aseemanand is seen as being close to the RSS leadership. In the past, leaders like Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, former RSS chief KS Sudarshan and current chief Mohan Bhagwat have attended religious functions organised by him at Shabri Dham.

While Aseemanand was known for his vitriolic anti-minority positions, according to his confession, it was the heinous massacre of Hindu devotees at Akshardham temple by Islamist suicide bombers in 2002 that was the first real kindle for their retaliatory terror attacks.

“The Muslim terrorists started attacking Hindu temples in 2002,” Aseemanand said. “This caused great concern and anger in me. I used to share my concerns about the growing menace of Islamic terrorism with Bharat Riteshwar of Valsad.”

In 2003, Aseemanand came in contact with Sunil Joshi and Pragya Singh Thakur. He would often discuss Islamist terrorism with them as well. Finally, according to him, it was the terror attack on Sankatmochan temple in Varanasi in March 2006 which was the real flashpoint for them.

“In March 2006, Pragya Thakur, Sunil Joshi, Bharat Riteshwar and I decided to give a befitting reply to the Sankatmochan blasts,” Aseemanand told the magistrate.

Aseemanand gave Rs. 25,000 to Joshi to arrange the necessary logistics for the blasts. He also sent Joshi and Riteshwar to Gorakhpur to seek assistance from firebrand BJP MP Yogi Adityanath. In April 2006, Joshi apparently held a hush-hush meeting with the Adityanath, infamous for his rabid anti-Muslim speeches. But Aseemanand says, “Joshi came back and told me that Adityanath was not of much help.”

However, this did not deter Aseemanand. He went ahead with his plans.

In June 2006, Aseemanand, Riteshwar, Sadhvi Pragya and Joshi again met at Riteshwar’s house in Valsad. It proved to be a chilling one, with far-reaching consequences. Joshi, for the first time, brought four associates with him — Dange, Kalsangra, Lokesh Sharma and Ashok alias Amit.

“I told everybody that bomb ka jawab bomb se dena chahiye, (I told everyone we should answer bombs with bombs),” says Aseemanand. “At that meeting I realised Joshi and his group were already doing something on the subject,” he adds.

“After the combined meeting,” Aseemanand says, “Joshi, Pragya, Riteshwar and I huddled together for a separate meeting. I suggested that 80 percent of the people of Malegaon were Muslims and we should explode the first bomb in Malegaon itself. I also said that during the Partition, the Nizam of Hyderabad had wanted to go with Pakistan so Hyderabad was also a fair target. Then I said that since Hindus also throng the Ajmer Sharif Dargah in large numbers we should also explode a bomb in Ajmer which would deter the Hindus from going there. I also suggested the Aligarh Muslim University as a terror target.”

According to Aseemanand everybody agreed to target these places.

“In the meeting,” Aseemanand continues, “Joshi suggested that it was basically Pakistanis who travel on the Samjhauta Express train that runs between India and Pakistan and therefore we should attack the train as well. Joshi took the responsibility of targeting Samjhauta himself and said that the chemicals required for the blasts would be arranged by Dange.”

Aseemanand’s confession goes on in grave detail. “Joshi said three teams would be constituted to execute the blasts. One team would arrange finance and logistics. The second team would arrange for the explosives. And the third team would plant the bombs. He also said that the members of one team should not know members from the other two teams. So even if one gets arrested the others would remain safe,” Aseemanand told the magistrate.

Hate and anger had slipped off the edge into mayhem.

‘Since Hindus throng the Ajmer Sharif Dargah we thought a bomb blast in Ajmer would deter Hindus from going there,’ the Swami said

ON 8 SEPTEMBER 2006, at 1.30 pm, four bombs exploded in the communally tense town of Malegaon in Maharashtra. Besides being a Friday, the Muslim festival Shab-e-barat was being observed. Three bombs went off in the compound of the Hamidiya Masjid and Bada Kabrastan. A fourth bomb exploded at Mushawart Chowk.

Out of three bombs, one was placed at the entrance gate of Hamidiya Masjid and Bada Kabrastan, the second on a bicycle parked in the parking lot situated inside the compound and the third was hung on the wall of the power supply room situated in front of Vaju Khana, inside the compound. The fourth bomb went off in the crowded junction of Mushawart Chowk, which was placed on a bicycle, near an electric pole. The attack was meticulously planned; the bombs exploded in quick succession. Thirty one Muslims were killed; over 312 were injured.

In a suspiciously swift investigation, the Maharashtra ATS arraigned nine Malegaon Muslims within 90 days. Eight of these were members of the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), the outlawed radical Muslim outfit. Another three Malegaon Muslims were shown absconding. Stringent provisions of the draconian Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) were invoked.

On 21 December 2006, the same day that the ATS filed the chargesheet against the nine Malegaon Muslims, the Maharashtra government asked the CBI to take over the probe. In effect, the CBI was presented with a fait accompli: the case had already been so-called solved and the accused had been chargesheeted.

A year ago, the CBI filed a supplementary chargesheet but failed to produce any material evidence. For over four years, these nine Malegaon Muslims have been languishing in prison. Aseemanand’s confession now seems proof that the boys were innocent and had been arrested merely to deflect criticism and create a false sense of security among Indian citizens that the blast cases were being “solved”. The real mastermind, according to Aseemanand, was Sunil Joshi. And it was Aseemanand himself who had persuaded Joshi to explode bombs in Malegaon.

This is what he told the magistrate. “Joshi came to see me at Shabri Dham on Diwali in 2006. The Malegaon blasts had already happened. Sunil told me the blasts were carried out by our men. I said the newspaper reports had mentioned that Muslims were behind the blasts and a few Muslims had also been arrested. Sunil assured me the blasts were carried out by him but he refused to reveal the identity of our men who had executed the blasts.”

ON 18 February 2007, on the eve of the then Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri’s visit to India to carry forward the peace dialogue, two powerful bombs went off around midnight in two coaches of the cross-border Samjhauta Express, running between Delhi and Lahore. The train had reached Diwana near Panipat, 80 km north of Delhi. The coaches turned into an inferno. The third bomb placed in another coach failed to detonate. Sixty eight people were killed. Dozens were injured. The peace dialogue received a big setback.

Investigation revealed that three suitcases filled with detonators, timers, iron pipes containing explosives and bottles filled with petrol and kerosene had been smuggled into the three coaches.

The needle of suspicion veered immediately to Pakistani extremists. Depending upon which investigating agency you were speaking to, Pakistan-based terror outfits mainly Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami (HUJI) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT)were blamed for the blasts. Even the US State Department called the terror attack a joint operation of the LeT and HUJI. The Haryana Police tracked down some of the material used in the blasts as being procured from a market in Indore but the trail soon went cold.

In November 2008, the Maharashtra ATS told a court in Nashik that Lt Col Purohit had procured 60 kg of RDX from Jammu & Kashmir in 2006 and a part of it was suspected to have been used in the Samjhauta Express blasts. But the ATS subsequently failed to back its claims with any evidence and was forced to retract. The Haryana cops travelled to Mumbai and interrogated Purohit and other Malegaon accused but could not find any evidence that could link them to the Samjhauta blasts.

In July 2010, the Samjhauta blast probe was handed over to the National Investigating Agency (NIA). Though it still leaves some questions and loose ends, Aseemanand’s confession now joins many other dots in relation to the Samjhauta Express.

The massacre of Hindu devotees at the Akshardham temple by Islamist bombers in 2002 was the first real kindle for the retaliatory attacks

“In February 2007,” Aseemanand told the magistrate, “Riteshwar and Joshi came on a motorbike to a Lord Shiva temple in a place called Balpur. As we had fixed this place for our meeting, I was already there, waiting for the two. Joshi told me in the next two days there would be a piece of good news and I should keep a tab on the newspapers. After the meeting I came back to Shabri Dham and Joshi and Riteshwar went their way. After a couple of days I went to meet Riteshwar at his Valsad residence. Joshi and Pragya were already present there. The Samjhauta Express blasts had happened. I asked Joshi how he was present there while Samjhauta had already happened in Haryana. Joshi replied that the blasts were done by his men.”

“In the same meeting,” Aseemanand continues, “Joshi took Rs. 40,000 from me to carry out the blasts in Hyderabad. A few months later, Joshi telephoned me and told me to keep a tab on the newspapers as some good news was in the offing. In a few days the news of the Mecca Masjid blast appeared in the papers. After 7-8 days, Joshi came to Shabri Dham and brought a Telegu newspaper with him. It had a picture of the blast. I told Joshi that in the papers it had appeared that some Muslim boys had been rounded up for the blast. But Joshi replied it was done by our people.”

LIKE IN the case of the 2006 Malegaon blast, 17 May 2007 was a Friday. At 1.30 pm, as over 4,000 Muslims assembled to offer their Friday prayers at the iconic Mecca Masjid, situated near the Charminar in the old city of Hyderabad, a bomb went off near the Wazu Khana (fountain) meant for doing wazu (ablution before prayers) inside the mosque.

Another IED contained in a blue rexine bag was found hanging near the door-way at the northern end of the mosque. Miraculously, this bomb had not exploded. With no substantive clue emerging from the blast investigation, in a cynical move, the Hyderabad police launched a mop-up operation against local Muslim boys, who were associated with Ahle Hadess, the doggedly fundamentalist sect among Sunni Muslims. Friends and family members of some known local Muslim extremists like Shahid Bilal, who had fled to Pakistan, were also rounded up. In a span of two weeks, over three dozen boys from Malakpet and Saidabaad were picked up and tortured. However, when the police failed to link them to the Mecca Masjid case, they registered three separate bogus cases and implicated the detainees in these cases.

On 9 June 2007, the CBI took over the investigation into the Mecca Masjid case.

A few months later, on 11 October 2007, during the month of Ramzan, at 6.15 pm, as Muslim devotees had begun their iftaar at Ajmer Sharif dargah, a powerful bomb went off near a tree in the compound, killing three people and injuring over a dozen. Investigators found one more unexploded IED at the site.

Swami says, ‘Joshi told me to keep a tab on the papers as some good news was in the offing. Soon after, news of the Mecca Masjid blast appeared’

According to Aseemanand, this blast had been executed by Muslim boys provided by Indresh Kumar. “A couple of days after the Ajmer blast Joshi came to see me. He was accompanied by two men named Raj and Mehul who had also visited Shabri Dham on previous occasions. Joshi claimed his men had perpetrated the blast and he was also present at Ajmer Dargah at the time of the blast. He said that Indresh had provided him two Muslim boys to plant the bomb. I told Joshi that if the Muslim boys get caught, Indresh would get exposed. I also told Joshi that Indresh might get him killed and told him to stay at Shabri Dham. Joshi then told me that Raj and Mehul were wanted in the Baroda Best Bakery case (12 Muslims were killed by rioters in Best Bakery in Gujarat 2002). I told Joshi not to keep Raj and Mehul at the ashram as it would not be safe for them to stay in Gujarat. Joshi, along with the two men, left for Dewas the next day,” said Aseemanand.

Barely two months later, on 29 December 2007, in a sudden twist, Aseemanand’s fears came true. Sunil Joshi was mysteriously murdered outside his house in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. His family claimed he had been murdered by his own organisation. After her arrest, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur also suggested this. But the Madhya Pradesh Police failed to solve the case and filed a closure report in the court.

At the end of December 2010 though, acting on fresh leads, the Madhya Pradesh police finally accepted that Joshi had been murdered by his own friends in the RSS. They charged Mayank, Harshad Solanki, Mehul and Mohan from Gujarat, Anand Raj Katare from Indore and Vasudev Parmar from Dewas with Joshi’s murder. While Mehul and Mohan are still on the run, Solanki was brought before the Dewas court where he confessed to the murder. However, even these arrests don’t join all the dots. The police claim internal rivalry as the motive for the murder. The CBI, though, believes the real motive behind Joshi’s murder was to silence him. Joshi knew too much about the terror conspiracy and his masters were perhaps wary that they might get exposed.

The Muslim boy who triggered an unlikely conversion in jail
Kaleem, a cell phone seller, was arrested and tortured in 2007 for a blast at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad. He spent a year-and-half in jail before being acquitted. Soon after, he was back in jail on another charge, when he met Swami Aseemanand. The Swami was struck by the boy’s kindness. When he heard that Kaleem was blamed for a blast that he and his comrades had done, he was profoundly affected and decided to confess as an act of penance.

Sunil Joshi’s murder leaves many unanswered questions. If he was one of the key figures in the terror conspiracy, as many of those arrested testify that he was, why would his comrades want to bump him off? If he was a protégé of Indresh Kumar, acting on his orders and with his sanction, why would his mentor want him dead? What could have created a rift or fallout between all of them? The murder suggests a murky and inexplicable factionalism within the sinister grouping.

With Joshi dead and much of Aseemanand’s confession based on things Joshi had told him about the blasts, it might seem that Aseemanand’s confession runs thin in certain portions and is, therefore, of uneven consequence. But Joshi was not the only piece in the puzzle. Aseemanand’s confession is powerful because it implicates himself at every juncture and points to a network of Hindutva pracharaks, who not only participated in the terror plots but were moved around and sheltered by sections of the organisation while they were on the run. Investigators believe that the arrests of Kalsangra and Dange would provide the missing pieces of the puzzle.

Joshi’s death didn’t mean the end of the horrific blasts — at least from the ultra-Hindutva side. The terror infrastructure he had created along with a few other RSS men continued to function.

ASEEMANAND CONFESSED coming into contact with the shadowy saffron terror outfit Abhinav Bharat in January 2007. Col Purohit was one of the founder members of the outfit. Aseemanand has confessed to proposing more terror strikes in a meeting of Abhinav Bharat held at Bhopal in April 2008. Sadhvi Pragya, Bharat Riteshwar, Col Purohit and Dayanand Pandey were also present in the meeting. “I participated in many Abhinav Bharat meetings and proposed to carry out more terror strikes,” Aseemanand told the magistrate.

On 29 September 2008, horror struck again. During Islam’s holy month of Ramzan, an IED went off at Bhikku Chowk, a Muslim neighbourhood in Malegaon. The bomb was concealed in a motorcycle parked in front of a locked office of SIMI. Given the paranoia that had grown around Islamist terror, it had become an accepted maxim that members of SIMI were behind every blast. No proof was ever required. Placing a bomb in front of their office, therefore, was an act of deadly symbolism for the Hindutva outfits.

A similar bomb blast was triggered almost simultaneously hundreds of miles away in a small town called Modasa in Gujarat. Like in Malegaon, the blast took place in a Muslim colony named Sukka Bazaar, outside a mosque when special Ramzan prayers were being offered. Like in Malegaon, the bomb was again concealed in a motorcycle. The two blasts were separated by a gap of five minutes.

The Malgeaon blast killed seven Muslims, including a three-year-old boy. The Modasa blast resulted in the death of a 15-year-old boy. Several others were injured.

‘I told my comrades that since the Nizam had wanted to opt for Pakistan during Partition, Hyderabad was also a fair target for us,’ the Swami said

It is a measure of the deep-seated bias that had crept into the Indian justice system that even when deadly blasts went off in the midst of Muslim neighbourhoods and mosques, Muslim boys were still automatically blamed for them. It was beyond anyone’s imagination that Hindutva groups could be behind the inhuman acts.

But as Aseemanand says, “Sometime in October 2008, Dange phoned me and said he wanted to come to Shabri Dham and stay there for a few days. I told him that since I was setting out for Nadiad (Gujarat), it would not be a good idea for him to stay there in my absence. Then Dange requested me to pick him up from a place called Vyara and drop him to Baroda which was on the way to Nadiad. I picked up Dange from Vyara bus stop in my Santro car. He was accompanied by Ramji Kalsangra. Both were carrying two or three bags stuffed with some heavy objects. They told me they were coming from Maharashtra. I dropped them at Rajpipla junction at Baroda. I later realised that it was just a day after the Malegaon blast,” said Aseemanand, before concluding his statement. His confession further corroborates the evidence put together by Karkare.

After the Maharashtra ATS arrested Sadhvi Pragya in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blast, Aseemanand went absconding. He was finally arrested by the CBI from Haridwar on 19 November 2010.

THE EMERGENCE of Hindutva terror does not leach away the horror of Islamist terror attacks on places like the Akshardham temple, Sankatmochan mandir and German Bakery in Pune, amongst others. But Aseemanand’s confession will raise many uncomfortable questions for the RSS. It is no one’s case that the actions of a few tars an entire organisation. But there are urgent questions the RSS needs to confront within itself. And answer to the nation.

Given the growing evidence about the involvement of RSS pracharaks in a series of terror blasts, how will the RSS leadership respond?

Many of these terror blasts display a high degree of sophistication in the planning and devices used, with RDX and complex bomb designs being deployed in several of them. Given that most of the foot-soldiers accused for these blasts are of very humble backgrounds, is it possible that they could execute these blasts without support and sanction from the top? Given the strictly hierarchical and disciplined nature of the organisation, is it possible that they were acting without the knowledge of their superiors? Most crucially, given the gathering evidence about the involvement of several RSS pracharaks and other affiliates in this series of terror blasts, how will the RSS leadership respond? If it is true that some members of their organisation have turned rogue, will they seek the most stringent punishment for them? The Hindutva worldview may be politically opposed to minority rights, but will it go far enough to watch some of its members drag the country further down the suicidal course of competitive terrorism between Islamist and Hindutva extremists? Or will it opt for the saner option of a cleansing within.

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India must face up to Hindu terrorism

India must face up to Hindu terrorism

India’s anti-minorities bias is so strong that it has failed to acknowledge the threat posed by Hindu radicalism

Indian Hindu priests

The Indian state’s pro-Hindu stance has left it unwilling to tackle Hindu extremism. Photograph: Str/AFP/Getty Images

For far too long, the enduring response of the Indian establishment to Hindu nationalists has rarely surpassed mild scorn. Their organised violent eruptions across the country – slaughtering Muslims and Christians, destroying their places of worship, cutting open pregnant wombs – never seemed sufficient enough to the state to cast them as a meaningful threat to India’s national security.

But the recently leaked confession of a repentant Hindu priest, Swami Aseemanand, confirms what India’s security establishment should have uncovered: a series of blasts between 2006 and 2008 were carried out by Hindu outfits. The attacks targeted a predominantly Muslim town and places of Muslim worship elsewhere. Their victims were primarily Muslim. Yet the reflexive reaction of the police was to round up young Muslim men, torture them, extract confessions and declare the cases solved.

Pundits now conduct cautious enquiries on television. Does this revelation mean India is now under attack by “Hindu terrorism”? But to treat this as a new phenomenon is to overlook the bulky corpus of terrorist violence in India that has its roots in explicitly Hindu-political grievances. Why is the attack on a Jewish centre in Mumbai by Pakistani gunmen an example of “Islamic terrorism”, but the slaughter of a thousand Muslims by sword-wielding Hindus in Gujarat in 2002 not proof of “Hindu terrorism”, particularly when the purpose of the violence was to establish an Hindu state in India? How do we describe attacks on churches, the kidnappings of pastors, the burning to death of a missionary? What do we make of the war-cry pehle kasai, phir isai: first the butchers (Muslims), then the Christians? What has prompted this debate over “Hindu terrorism” is not Aseemanand’s confession: it is the fact that, in carrying out their violence, his accomplices appropriated methods which, in popular imagination, have become associated exclusively with Islamic terrorism. Detonating bombs in crowded areas: isn’t that what Muslims do?

It is when you look at the reactions to non-Hindu extremism that you absorb how strongly majoritarian assumptions inform the state and society’s conduct in India. In 2002, the Indian government banned the radical Muslim group Simi (Students’ Islamic Movement of India) citing the group’s charter, which seeks to establish sharia rule in India, and the terror charges some of its members were facing. But the Hindu radical outfit RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the National Volunteer Corps) remains open for business – even though it campaigns, very openly, for a Hindu state in India, and its members incite and perpetrate violence against Muslim and Christian minorities. Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin was a member of the RSS, as are Aseemanand and his confreres. To get an idea of which of the two groups poses a more immediate threat to India, consider this: the government that banned Simi was headed by the BJP, the political wing of the RSS.

The principal cause of Hindu radicalism, much like its Muslim counterpart in Pakistan, is the partition of India in 1947. The departing British hacked India apart to accommodate the Muslim League’s demand for an exclusive homeland for the subcontinent’s Muslims – and so, the Hindu nationalist logic runs, the territory that remained should logically be identified as the land of Hindus. If Pakistan’s Muslim majoritarianism crystallised around the bogey of “Hindu raj”, the Hindu nationalist project thrives by casting the burden of partition on India’s Muslim minorities – fifth columnists whose coreligionists tore India apart by claiming, in spite of a millennium-long sojourn in India, to be foreigners by virtue of their faith.

For all the saffron calumny, it is impossible to find a community more emphatically committed to India than its Muslims. India’s Hindus never had to make a choice. The Muslims did. Consider what an ordinary Muslim family in 1947 would have had to deal with: terrified by the violence that the partition had unleashed, their coreligionists were fleeing in the millions to Pakistan; Hindu and Sikh fanatics were actively seeking out Muslims for slaughter and rape; the possibility of being betrayed by neighbours and friends was far from remote. Sardar Patel, the second most powerful functionary in the Indian government, was openly hostile to Muslims – hostility which no doubt would have been seen by many Hindus as tacit endorsement of their actions. Amidst all this, the sole authoritative source of reassurance would have been the distant pledges of a better tomorrow by Jawaharlal Nehru. The Muslims who remained, who refused to vacate the hell that was India despite the blandishments of paradise next door in Pakistan, affirmed their faith in India with their lives.

After all this, it is staggering that the Hindu right gets away so easily by routinely humiliating Indian Muslims. From demographics to diet, personal laws to places of worship, Muslims are suspect in everything they do. Adding a dash of foreign authority, glamour and fuel to this unbridled bigotry is the lavatorial “scholarship” of frustrated European converts to Hinduism such as François Gautier and Koenraad Elst. Misfits in their own societies, they have flourished by exploiting communal tensions in a miserably poor country. What the Muslims did to Hindus was worse than the Jewish Holocaust explains one, while the other warns Hindus that they are being outbred by Muslims. The JNU historian Tanika Sarkar was perhaps right in identifying “penis envy and anxiety about emasculation” among the principal reasons for anti-Muslim bigotry.

The Indian state has failed appallingly in its obligations to Muslim citizens. There are 150 million Muslims in India, but as the government’s own figures show, only 4% are graduates, 5% have public employment, an overwhelming majority remain locked out of public institutions, and their access to government loans and education is severely restricted. If this institutional exclusion should breed resentment, and the resentment produce violence, no one will hesitate to call it another instance of Islamic terrorism. But when self-pitying Hindus massacre minorities and detonate bombs in the midst of Muslim crowds, we are expected to be polite. No, let us call it what it actually is: Hindu terrorism.

Deconstructing Imran Khan’s Taliban narrative — III

Deconstructing Imran Khan’s Taliban narrative — III

—Farhat Taj

The government led by Mr Zardari’s party can be questioned for giving in to the establishment’s pressure by surrendering its authority and responsibility regarding foreign policy but to blame it for anything wrong with the foreign policy, including the war on terror, is misleading

Imran Khan claims that there were no suicide attacks in Pakistan before the US drone attacks and Pakistan Army operations in FATA. This is factually wrong. Suicide attacks have been happening before the US drone attacks and/or military operations in FATA. One of the deadliest suicide attacks was on the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad in 1995. The other devastating suicide attack, also known as Karachigate, was on French engineers in Karachi. Both attacks have nothing to do with FATA, its people, culture and the US drone attacks or the Pakistan Army operations in the area. The attack on the Egyptian embassy was carried out by al Qaeda Arabs and the other attack is said to be revenge from the French authorities over a dispute about kickbacks in a French submarine sales contract with Pakistan. The French investigators have also been investigating al Qaeda linkages to the attack.

The suicide attacks rooted in FATA began to happen in Pakistan after the ISI implanted the jihadi infrastructure in the area through fake military operations that killed innocent civilians but left the Taliban unharmed, and peace deals that slipped the area into the hands of the Arab, Uzbek, Punjabi and Pakhtun militants. The last ethnic group of the militants, the local Pakhtun, were also strengthened through awards of development contracts, including those funded by western donors, to the relatives and friends of the Taliban.

In other words, the Pakistani state surrendered its internal sovereignty by design to the terrorists in FATA, some of whom are conducting ‘unauthorised’ attacks inside mainland Pakistan in response to their disputes with the their handlers in the intelligence agencies of Pakistan. But several of the attacks inside Pakistan, such as those on the ANP workers and leaders, should be seen as ‘authorised’ attacks to keep the Pakhtun nationalist party under pressure and above all to cut it off from reaching out to the people while at the same time keeping the field open to right-wingers like Imran Khan and the religious parties to reach out as much as they wish to spread the strategic depth propaganda. The ANP is an anomaly in the calculus of strategic depth. Imran Khan is clearly guilty of distorting the facts when he claims that the ANP wants negotiations with Taliban. As far as I understand, the ANP does not want negotiations with the Taliban but is forced by the establishment through acts or threats of terrorism to compromise such as on the occasion of the Swat peace deal.

Imran Khan is also playing fast and loose with the truth when he blames President Zardari for the way the war on terror is conducted by Pakistan. Everyone knows that the Pakistani generals are running the country’s foreign policy. The government led by Mr Zardari’s party can be questioned for giving in to the establishment’s pressure by surrendering its authority and responsibility regarding foreign policy but to blame it for anything wrong with the foreign policy, including the war on terror, is misleading.

Imran Khan’s claim that the Pakhtun tribes have successfully resisted world powers in the past is a misleading sweeping judgement. One really has to go into history to see that the real situation is not so black and white. For example, it is true that certain tribes or clans in FATA put forward an excellent resistance to the British, but is it not also a fact that many other tribes, clans and even people within the tribes resisting the British, cooperated with the colonial power? How were the British able to establish the FCR system in FATA if all tribes were united against the British? The tribesmen joined the British Imperial Army, the paramilitary forces established by the British, and became Khasadars (tribal police force) in the British administration in FATA. The tribes, clans and individuals who have been closely cooperating with the British were never eliminated through massacre by the other tribesmen who were resisting against the British even after the departure of the colonial power. This is unlike the Taliban who have massacred anti-Taliban tribesmen across FATA. In other words, what we see in tribal history is pragmatism in relation to foreign powers rather than an exclusively violence-driven resistance across the tribes.

Suicide attacks in Pakistan cannot be a tribal response to the US drone attacks. The US drone attacks on FATA intensified in 2008. Before that there have been only a few drone attacks on the area since 2004. Bu the suicide attacks inside Pakistan had intensified before 2008.

Imran Khan is running a propaganda for the so-called ‘civilian casualties’ in the drone attacks but has not uttered a word about hundreds of anti-Taliban tribal leaders target killed across FATA since 2003. The government of Pakistan never investigated those targeted killings and will never do it either as long as the generals dominate Pakistan. Do the families of these tribal leaders not deserve justice? But Imran Khan, I am afraid, will never raise his voice for justice for these families because any independent investigation into those assassinations will establish the establishment’s deep links with the Taliban and al Qaeda. Such an investigation will also elaborate the ISI tactics whereby it has been able to trigger an artificial insurgency in FATA and convincingly present it to the world as the popular tribal backlash to Pakistan’s alliance in the war on terror.

Imran Khan highlights the violation of Pakistan’s external sovereignty by the US drone attacks, but never points to the violation of the country’s internal sovereignty by foreign al Qaeda and Taliban militants based in FATA who are carrying out attacks inside Pakistan and across the border in Afghanistan on the US, NATO and Afghan forces as well as Afghan civilians. Their attacks across the border are causing the drone attacks, most of which have actually targeted the foreign terrorists in the area rather than the Taliban. The internal violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty has to stop before one can demand a stop to the external violation.

OIC Now Singing Hillary’s Tune, Selling Islamic Silk Road/Minus Iran

OIC/Afghanistan: Reconciliation bid OIC to hold Afghan Ulema assemblage



ISLAMABAD, Muharram 1/Nov.26 (IINA)-Prof Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has said that his organization was committed to holding an Ulama Conference at an appropriate time in cooperation with the Afghan authorities with the aim of contributing to Afghan reconciliation process.

This will be the first intra Afghan OIC initiative of reconciliation following announcement of US troops withdrawal from war-worn Afghanistan, a process hoped to complete by 2014.

He also disclosed that member states of OIC made contributions in supporting and facilitating regional cooperation aiming at peace, security and development in Afghanistan and the region, particularly in intensifying cooperation and dialogue between Afghanistan and her neighbours.

Prof Ihsanoglu made these remarks in his recent address to an Istanbul hosted Afghanistan event, and stressed “the importance of Afghanistan as a rich country possessing enormous human and natural resources. It is a bridge in the Heart of Asia, connecting South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East”. Afghanistan’s strategic location and historical position, may serve as a catalyst for the promotion of security and cooperation in the region, he added.

He explained that projects relating to the rehabilitation of rail transportation in Afghanistan have been enlarged as is evident from the on-going project building Dusanbe-Mazar-i Sharif-Herat railway, pointing out that Afghanistan has recently started to participate in the OIC Plan of Action for Cooperation in Central Asia.

The OIC Plan envisages cooperation in various areas such as agriculture, rural development and food security, trade exchanges, health, education, poverty alleviation, transport as well as research and scientific cooperation.


Mullah Omar Pushing Pak Taliban To Reconcile With Pak Govt Join Afghan Jihad

‘Mullah Omar pushing Pak Taliban to reconcile with govt.’

Islamabad,  ANI

Islamabad, Nov 26 (ANI): Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar is pushing Pakistani militants based in the tribal areas to strike a peace deal with the government, and advised the chief of the Haqqani network to mediate between them, a source has revealed.


“We have received a message from Ameerul-Momineen that there should be an end to our activities inside Pakistan .

..he wants us to make peace with the government and focus on Afghanistan against infidels,” the Express Tribune quoted a Taliban associate, as saying.


However, it is not clear as of now when and how the terror leader had sent his message.


At least two Taliban affiliates, one in Miramshah, North Waziristan and the other in Wana, South Waziristan, said that communication between representatives of Mullah Omar and Pakistani militants took place in an Arab country this Ramazan.


But a tribal elder, who claimed to have knowledge about the ongoing talks, said that the son of a slain Afghan militant leader came to Waziristan as Mullah Omar’s representative.


The young messenger travelled from Kandahar to South Waziristan, the stronghold of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) TTP, immediately after Ramazan and held meetings with members of a powerful shura that takes policy decisions for Pakistani militant groups, he added.


In September, Pakistan’s top political and military leadership had expressed desire to open peace talks with its ‘own people’ operating from the country’s tribal areas.


Since almost half a year now, Pakistani cities have been relatively calm, and life is reportedly returning to normalcy after years of violent attacks by the homegrown Taliban. (ANI)

Two Pak Army Outposts Attacked By NATO Helicopters and Jet Fighters

28 Pakistani troops killed in NATO attack, outrage in Islamabad

Reuters |

28 Pakistani troops killed in NATO attack, outrage in Islamabad
NATO helicopters and fighter jets attacked two military outposts in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, killing as many as 28 troops.

ISLAMABAD: NATO helicopters and fighter jets attacked two military outposts in northwestPakistan on Saturday, killing as many as 28 troops and plunging US-Pakistan relations, already deeply frayed, further into crisis.

Pakistan retaliated by shutting down vital NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, used for sending in almost half of the alliance’s non-lethal materiel.

The attack is the worst single incident of its kind since Pakistan uneasily allied itself with Washington in the days immediately following the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on US targets.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan, its ally in the war on militancy, have been strained following the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by US special forces in a raid on the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad in May, which Pakistan called a flagrant violation of sovereignty.

The Pakistani government and military brimmed with fury.

“This is an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty,” said Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. “We will not let any harm come to Pakistan’s sovereignty and solidarity.”

The Foreign Office said it would take up the matter “in the strongest terms” with NATO and the United States.

The powerful Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, said in a statement issued by the Pakistani military that “all necessary steps be under taken for an effective response to this irresponsible act.

“A strong protest has been launched with NATO/ISAF in which it has been demanded that strong and urgent action be taken against those responsible for this aggression.”

The commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, General John R. Allen, said he had offered his condolences to the family of any Pakistani soldiers who “may have been killed or injured” during an “incident” on the border.

A spokesman for the force declined further comment on the nature of the “incident” and said an investigation was proceeding. It was not yet clear, he said, whether there had been deaths or injuries.

The US embassy in Islamabad also offered condolences.

“I regret the loss of life of any Pakistani servicemen, and pledge that the United States will work closely with Pakistan to investigate this incident,” ambassador Cameron Munter said in a statement.

Early morning attack Two military officials said that up to 28 troops had been killed and 11 wounded in the attack on the outposts, about 2.5 km (1.5 miles) from the Afghan border. The Pakistani military said 24 troops were killed and 13 wounded.

It remains unclear what exactly happened, but the attack took place around 2 a.m. (2100 GMT) in the Baizai area of Mohmand, where Pakistani troops are fighting Taliban militants.

“Pakistani troops effectively responded immediately in self-defence to NATO/ISAF’s aggression with all available weapons,” the Pakistani military statement said.

About 40 Pakistani army troops were stationed at the outposts, military sources said. Two officers were reported among the dead.

“The latest attack by NATO forces on our post will have serious repercussions as they without any reasons attacked on our post and killed soldiers asleep,” said a senior Pakistani military officer, requesting anonymity.

Reflecting the confusion of war in an ill-defined border area, an Afghan border police official, Edrees Momand, said joint Afghan-NATO troops near the outpost on Saturday morning had detained several militants.

“I am not aware of the casualties on the other side of the border but those we have detained aren’t Afghan Taliban,” he said, implying they were Pakistani Taliban operating in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan-Pakistan border is often poorly marked, and differs between maps by up to five miles in some places.

The incident occurred a day after Allen met Kayani to discuss border control and enhanced cooperation.

“After the recent meetings between Pakistan and ISAF/NATO forces to build confidence and trust, these kind of attacks should not have taken place,” a senior military source told Reuters.

Blocked supplies Nato

Supply trucks and fuel tankers bound for Afghanistan were stopped at Jamrud town in the Khyber tribal region near the city of Peshawar hours after the raid, officials said.

“We have halted the supplies and some 40 tankers and trucks have been returned from the check post in Jamrud,” Mutahir Zeb, a senior government official, told Reuters.

Another official said the supplies had been stopped for security reasons.

“There is possibility of attacks on NATO supplies passing through the volatile Khyber tribal region, therefore we sent them back towards Peshawar to remain safe,” he said.

The border crossing at Chaman in Baluchistan was also closed, Frontier Corps officials said.

Pakistan is a vital land route for 49 percent of NATO’s supplies to its troops in Afghanistan, a NATO spokesman said.

A similar incident on Sept 30, 2009, which killed two Pakistani troops, led to the closure of one of NATO’s supply routes through Pakistan for 10 days.

NATO apologised for that incident, which it said happened when NATO gunships mistook warning shots by the Pakistani forces for a militant attack.

US-Pakistan relations were already reeling from a tumultuous year that saw the bin Laden raid, the jailing of a CIA contractor, and U.S. accusations that Pakistan backed a militant attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

The United States has long suspected Pakistan of continuing to secretly support Taliban militant groups to secure influence in Afghanistan after most NATO troops leave in 2014. Saturday’s incident will give Pakistan the argument that NATO is now attacking it directly.

“I think we should go to the United Nations Security Council against this,” said retired Brigadier Mahmood Shah, former chief of security in the tribal areas. “So far, Pakistan is being blamed for all that is happening in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s point of view has not been shown in the international media.”

Other analysts, including Rustam Shah Mohmand, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, said Pakistan would protest and close the supply lines for some time, but that ultimately “things will get back to normal”.

Paul Beaver, a British security analyst, said relations were so bad that this incident might have no noticeable impact.

“I’m not sure US-Pakistan relations could sink much lower than they are now,” he said.

Libyan Rebel Govt. To Arm Rebels In Syria

[The CIA is repeating its mistakes (from the point of view of all decent human beings) from the anti-Soviet phase of the grand terror war–training terrorists in advanced military skills and then turning them loose upon the rest of the world.  This is the fine art of projecting “respectable” evil in its highest form.  The American Imperialists get to play “Good Guys” on both ends of this process–We claimed to be providing “humanitarian assistance” to Afghanistan since the late seventies, when we created the first “mujahedeen” (highly skilled military specialists) who later became known as “al-Qaeda”; we have repeated the process today in Libya, and now, the Libyan “mujahedeen” spread their disease to Syria.  Through this finely honed art of state-sponsored terrorism, we have successfully undermined nearly all of the Middle Eastern allies of the Palestinians.  The war against Syria and Hezbollah is intended to unleash the full force of American airpower, in order to carry-out the mission that Israel alone could not accomplish in 2006.  (Despite all the years of Israeli bluster, the IDF has not defeated any adversary by the mere power of its threats.  It has been symbolically parading its military prowess down the streets of Teheran since the American terror war began, but they have not fazed the Revolutionary Guard, even with Stuxnet and all the back-biting assassinations over the years.  Israel’s only formidable power is its nuclear arsenal. 

The time for words is over.  Obama’s revolutionaries and his partners in crime (particularly Turkey) have taken the “irregular warfare” to Syria.  The thing about irregular war is that it can easily turn into regular warfare at any given moment.  When it becomes apparent that Western asymmetric forces cannot defeat Syria and Hezbollah, then waves of regular bombers can be called in, just like in Libya.  From the Imperial view, it becomes apparent that the “mistake” of creating the Islamist mujahedeen armies has not been a mistake at all.  It was always obvious where it would lead, if you created armies of highly-trained veteran “holy warriors” and released them upon the world.  This is America’s greatest war crime–its premeditated state terrorism.] 

Libya to arm rebels in Syria

Ruth Sherlock

Pro-Syrian regime protesters appear from a huge Syrian flag as they wave Syrian and Baath party flags, during a protest against the Arab League decisions, in Damascus, Syria.Divided … a demonstration for Bashar al-Assad. Photo: AP

MISRATA, Libya: Syrian rebels have held secret talks with Libya’s new authorities, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, it has been revealed.

At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians requested assistance from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms and, potentially, volunteers.

”There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,” a Libyan source said, on condition of anonymity. ”There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see.”

It has also emerged that preliminary discussions about arms supplies took place when members of the Syrian National Council – the country’s main opposition movement – visited Libya earlier this month.

”The Libyans are offering money, training and weapons to the Syrian National Council,” said Wisam Taris, a human rights campaigner with links to the council.

The disclosure came as the Syrian military said rebels had raided an air force base outside the city of Homs and killed six pilots.

Rebel attacks have become daily occurrences since the onset of the insurrection. The conflict has claimed at least 3500 lives, mainly as part of a crackdown on protests by the government.

Syria’s regime has continued to defy pressure from the Arab League, ignoring Friday’s deadline to accept the deployment of 500 human rights observers, raising the possibility that economic sanctions might be agreed upon this weekend.

Last month, Libya’s interim government became the first in the world to recognise Syria’s opposition movement as the country’s ”legitimate authority”.

Activists said large shipments of weapons had not yet been sent, mainly because of logistical difficulties. But proposals for a ”buffer zone” inside Syria, monitored by the Arab League, or the likely emergence of an area inside the country controlled entirely by rebels could solve this problem.

”The [Libyan] council’s offer is serious,” Mr Taris said. Turkey, which has denounced Mr Assad’s regime, is already sheltering about 7000 Syrian opposition activists, including the leader of the Free Syrian Army, the nascent rebel movement, in a ”safe zone” along Turkey’s border with Syria.

Sources in the Libyan town of Misrata suggested that some weapons might already have been sent. Some smugglers were caught selling small arms to Syrian buyers in Misrata, said a man who trafficked guns to Libya’s rebels during the country’s civil war.

However, Libyan officials denied some of the claims. ”This is what you hear in the street,” said the leader of the Misrata military council, Ramadan Zarmoh. ”Officially there is none of this. I would never send any fighters to fight outside the country.”

Ministers from the Arab League are expected to meet in Cairo this weekend to consider sanctions against Syria.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, pledged on Friday to keep up talks with Syrian opposition groups in an attempt to support a transition to a stable democracy.

Meanwhile, a United Nations human rights panel has called on Syria to respond to reports its security forces had tortured children in their crackdown on anti-government protesters.

The Committee against Torture said in Geneva that it had received ”numerous, consistent and substantiated reports” of widespread abuse occurring since the start of the uprising against Mr Assad’s government eight months ago.

”Of particular concern are reports referring to children who have suffered torture and mutilation while detained,” said the panel’s chairman, Claudio Grossman.

He also cited reports of ”extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; arbitrary detention by police forces and the military; and enforced and involuntary disappearances.”

The committee normally reviews each country’s record every four years, but took the unusual step on Friday of issuing a spontaneous demand to the Syrian government to explain its actions.

Telegraph, London; Associated Press

Georgian War Prevented NATO Expansion Eastward

Moscow deterred NATO expansion

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia — Russia’s military action against Georgia in 2008 prevented NATO from expanding its footprint eastward, the Russian president said.

Russian forces responded when the Georgian military invaded the separatist republic of South Ossetia in 2008. The conflict spilled over to engulf forces from Abkhazia, another separatist republic.

Moscow recognized both republics shortly after the conflict and signed agreements in 2010 to build permanent military installations in the breakaway regions.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said military action in Georgia prevented NATO allies for a campaign of expansion.

“If we had wavered in 2008, the geopolitical layout would have been different; a range of countries which the North Atlantic (Treaty Organization) tries to artificially ‘protect’ would have been within it,” he was quoted by Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.

Medvedev maintained Russian forces invaded to prevent a major humanitarian crisis in the region.

South Ossetia had presidential elections in mid-November. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the Western alliance didn’t recognize its rights to have elections, however.

NATO sided with Georgia when Abkhazia had elections earlier this year.

NATO’s presence along the borders of the former Soviet Union, meanwhile, is a “nuisance” to the Kremlin, Medvedev said.


NATO airstrikes kill six children in Afghanistan

NATO airstrikes kill six children in Afghanistan


Airstrikes by NATO-led forces in southern Afghanistan killed nine people, including six children and two insurgents, Afghan officials said on Thursday.

Two girls were also injured in the airstrikes in Kandahar province, the president’s office said.

“NATO military helicopters identified five insurgents who were planting bombs along the road. The helicopter killed two of them, while two others ran away and hid in Siacha village,” said Niyaz Mohammad, a local governor. One insurgent was injured.

“Later, military helicopters bombed the location where they (the insurgents) were hiding and as a result six children who were playing nearby were killed,” the governor added. A man injured in the second attack died later in hospital.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the aerial attack in a statement. NATO said it had launched an inquiry into the incident.

“Protecting the Afghan civilian population is central to our mission here in Afghanistan and we will investigate this situation fully to determine exactly what took place and whether any further actions need to be taken,” said General John Allen, commander of NATO-led forces.

In a separate incident, a NATO helicopter made a safe emergency landing, the military alliance said, denying a Taliban claim that it had shot down the aircraft.

The Taliban said in a statement its fighters had shot the helicopter down over the province of Kabul, killing 33 NATO soldiers.

“Initial reporting indicates that there was no enemy activity in the area”, said NATO spokesman Christopher DeWitt, adding that all crew members were unhurt.

Meanwhile Taliban killed at least seven private security guards in an ambush in western province of Farah on Thursday.

The guards were in a convoy belonging to a private company that provides logistics for international forces when they were attacked.

Pakistan blocks Afghanistan NATO supplies after checkpost attack

Pakistan blocks Afghanistan NATO supplies after checkpost attack

The supply has been suspended due to the NATO attack in Mohmand Agency, official sources confirmed. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

PESHAWAR: Pakistani authorities on Saturday blocked the NATO supply route to Afghanistan after an attack on a border checkpost killed at least 24 Pakistani soldiers. The attack by NATO helicopters on a checkpost located in Mohmand Agnecy killed at least 24 soldiers and injured 12.

Official sources confirmed the suspension of supplies, adding that all containers were stopped at the Takhta Baig checkpost in Jamrud tehsil of Khyber Agency.

“We have suspended the supply and will not let even a single container move ahead,” the official added.

“We have stopped NATO supplies after receiving orders from the federal government,” Mutahir Hussain, a senior administration official in Khyber tribal region, on the Afghan border, told AFP. ”Supply trucks are being sent back to Peshawar.”

Takhta Baig is the first checkpost followed by four more check-posts in the tribal areas and is the shortest possible route to Afghanistan.

Gilani condemns attack

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has strongly condemned the attack on the checkpost in Mohmand Agency.

Speaking to the media in Multan, Gilani said that a meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and the foreign secretary was currently underway in Islamabad, and added that he would be joining them soon. The prime minister has cut short his three-day visit to Multan to return to the capital.

statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the matter was being taken up in the “strongest terms” with NATO and the US on the directions of the prime minister.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has also said that no action against Pakistan’s would be tolerated.

She said that the attack will be condemned on all forums and the government will also take up the issue internationally.

Pakistan lodges protest with the US

Iffat Gardezi, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Pakistani Embassy in the US,  has lodged a verbal protest over the attack.

A Pakistan Embassy spokesperson told The Express Tribune that Iffat Gardezi had contacted the State Department at midnight (Eastern Standard Time).

The spokesperson said that Gardezi had in strong words raised the issue of the death of Pakistani soldiers by ISAF and termed the incident as “unprovoked”.

(with additional reporting by Huma Imtiaz)

NATO Helicopters Kill 24 Pak. Army Soldiers In Their Sleep–Border Outpost Decimated

[This couldn’t have happened at a worse time for the NATO war on Afghanistan.  Last week’s terror attack on the NDN (northern distribution network) railway in Uzbekistan has stopped land movement of war supplies from the north.  If Pakistan has stopped NATO transit over its roads, then we are left with a war effort sustained solely by air.  The expense of air transit and the limited number of heavy airlift planes spells trouble in the days ahead for the ground war.  If this latest outrage has been enough to cause a real breach in relations between the two former friends and paper allies then it will surely be used to justify extreme measures to assert American dominance. 
This attack was either a disaster in US planning, or a planned coup de grâce (“finishing blow”) to a faltering relationship.  Things can only get dramatically worse from here on out.  Did this decision by Pakistan prove to be the final straw (SEE:  ISAF containers: Pakistan to double service charges from 2012)?]

Sources say, nearby areas were also attacked by the helicopters. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

PESHAWAR: An early Saturday morning attack by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) helicopters killed at least 24 security personnel and injured 12 soldiers on a Pakistani checkpost in Salala, which is located in the Tehsil Bayzai area of Mohmand Agency on the Pak-Afghan border , sources said.

Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) sources confirmed the attack, but could not determine the number of casualties as the interrogation was still underway.

The incident took place in a village of Salala, which is an area bordering the Kunar province of Afghanistan.

At least 40 soldiers were stationed at the checkpost.

An official on the condition of anonymity told The Express Tribunethat there was consistent shelling on the Pakistani checkpost, which resulted in security forces retaliating.

“The actual number of casualties might rise, as it cannot be determined at the moment,” the official said.

The official added that nearby areas were also attacked by the helicopters.

“It is a matter of national security and we are still interrogating it,” said a security official. “The matter will be taken up at the highest level.”

“This is an attack on Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty, “said Masood Kasur, the governor of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. “Such cross-border attacks cannot be tolerated any more. The government will take up this matter at the highest level and it will be investigated.”

The situation remained unclear as the political administration did not give any information about the incident.

The incident comes a day after Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani met Commander of Coalition Forces in Afghanistan General Allen Jones to discuss measures of enhancing border control on both sides.

The attack will likely worsen US-Pakistan relations, already at one of their lowest points in history, following a tumultuous year that saw the bin Laden raid, the jailing of a CIA contractor, and US accusations that Pakistan backed a militant attack on the US Embassy in Kabul.

An increase inUS drone strikes on militants in the last few years has also irritated Islamabad, which says the campaign kills more Pakistani civilians in the border area than activists. Washington disputes that, but declines to discuss the drone campaign in detail.

Earlier, it was reported that Nato jets had attacked the border post.

The Turks found a base in Syria Kurdish separatists

Kurdish separatists.  Archive photo © AFP
Kurdish separatists. Archive photo © AFP

The Turks found a base in Syria Kurdish separatists

The Syrian authorities have established in their territory training camp of militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, acting against the Turkish newspaper Milliyet.

According to the newspaper, which refers to the Turkish intelligence sources, the camp is located near the town of Ras al-Ain near the border with Turkey, there are military and political training to more than 150 people. In addition, the separatists are considering the transfer of other bases in northern Iraq (where safe) in Syria.

Camp, the newspaper said, was a response to the actions of Damascus, Ankara, which hosted the leadership and staff of the National Council of Syria – the structure of the opposition, which is seeking the resignation of Bashar al-Assad .

Turkish border guards working in the region have already begun to install additional security at the border because they fear infiltration of Kurdish militants from Syria.

Recently, relations between Turkey and Syria deteriorated sharply: Ankara demands from Damascus to political reform, to renounce the use of force against the demonstrators and prevent the country of foreign journalists. In response to the Syrians blame the neighbors of interfering in its internal affairs.

Ankara, however, their claims are not denied, but the Turkish media is actively discussing the possibility of entering Syria to the north of the Turkish troops to protect the local civilian population. However, such an invasion of a suitable excuse not yet located.

Russian Press Claims Tajik Arrest of Russian Pilot was Plot to Free Alleged Relative of President Rahmon

Foreign Ministry denied rumors on the exchange pilot at Rustam Hukumova

The Russian Foreign Ministry denied the reports of the exchange was released in Tajikistan, the Russian pilot Vladimir Sadovnichy to convict the alleged relative to the RF President Emomali Rahmon. On November 25 it informs “Interfax”.

According to the director of the Third Department of the CIS countries Maxim Peshkov, appeals about the exchange on Sadovnichiy Rustam Hukumova the Ministry has been reported.

Peshkov said he did not have any information that khukum was released, but reports of his relationship with Rahmon – just rumors.

Rustam khukum in 2010 was sentenced to 9.5 years in prison: the detention in the suburban Schelkovo he and his three accomplices have found ten kilograms of Afghan heroin. It was reported that the son of the chief khukum railroad Tajikistan.In addition, he is the brother-in-law of President of the Republic.

In November 2011, “Komsomolskaya pravda” wrote that the pilots of Rolkan Investments Ltd, Russia’s Vladimir Sadovnichy and an Estonian citizen Alexei Rudenko, who were sentenced in Tajikistan to 8.5 years in prison for smuggling and border violations, were sentenced to be exchanged for Hukumova and his accomplices, traffickers.

Pilots who have been convicted on November 8, were subsequently released – at the request of Attorney General of Tajikistan, their terms were reduced to half that pilots served, is under investigation.

Court decision was preceded by a conflict between Russia and Tajikistan, in course of which began to expel Russia from Tajik migrants.

Asian Dev. Bank Pours $17 Billion 100 Central Asian Development Projects–(updated)

[If the Silk Road revival idea was originally Chinese, then who gets the credit if the idea becomes a reality?  I guess the answer to that question will come with either the exclusion or the inclusion of Iran in the final Silk Road project.  It is likely that India may turn out to be the decider of that question, as it either tries to breath life into Washington’s latest pipe dream, or it helps link the road to Iran.  This would appear to be the wiser solution, given all the money and effort that India has already spent developing Afghanistan’s “ring road” and the new port facilities at Chahabar, Iran.  It boils down to this–is Washington more likely to pull-off its bullshit visions, or will it be forced to accept a new reality of welcoming a nuclear Iran into the community of nations?  According to this report, ADB was partners with European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in these projects.]


ISLAMABAD – Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) has approved over 100 CAREC-related projects worth $17 billion. The projects include six land transport corridors that cover 3,600 kilometers of roads and 2,000 kilometers of railways. They traverse the CAREC region north-south and east-west; linking Europe, East Asia, South Asia, Middle East, and beyond; connecting all member countries.
Secretary Economic Affairs Division Abdul Wajid Rana and officials from ministry of commerce and finance represented Pakistan at the 10th ministerial conference at Baku, Azerbaijan.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) has allocated $4.7 billion over the next three years to support Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC), 2020’s goals of trade expansion and improved competitiveness.
ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda, while announcing the allocation for CAREC 2020 goals at ministerial conference said we stand ready to assist in accelerating the development of physical infrastructure connectivity, the development of economic corridors, and the improvement of the knowledge base needed to support CAREC’s priorities.
Established in 2001, CAREC brings together Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It promotes the implementation of regional projects in energy, transport, and trade facilitation from northern China to Caucasus and Europe, and from Kazakhstan to the warm water ports of Karachi, Gwadar and beyond.
About 4,000 km of road and 2,250 km of railway lines have been built or upgraded, opening up corridors of trade and opportunity. Streamlined custom procedures are moving people and their businesses across borders, faster and at a less cost. The electricity transmission lines and upgraded power plants are beginning to boost the vital energy trade in the region that will bring prosperity and security.
The ministers and senior representatives of development agencies have discussed support for the new 10-year strategy for Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) programme.
The six multilateral institutions support the work of CAREC that includes ADB, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and World Bank. ADB has served as the CAREC secretariat since 2001.
The multilateral institutions at the forum echoed their support for the work of CAREC and some also offered substantial financial assistance over the next decade. Senior representatives of bilateral agencies from France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, and United States also attended the forum and supported CAREC 2020. The three-day conference wrapped up with a ministerial retreat where participants discussed how CAREC countries could individually and collectively contribute to a prosperous Asia by mid-century.

Troops of Five Nations Occupy Spratly Islands In Pacific Hotspot the Size of Iraq

“The Philippines, Vietnam, China, Malaysia and Taiwan have troops on the Spratlys, a group of islands and reefs with a total land area equivalent to 1 1/2 times the size of New York’s Central Park spread over an area roughly the size of Iraq. Vietnam occupies the most islands in this group.”

[Interactive Spratly’s Map]

Vietnam Boosts Presence in South China Sea, Targets Protests

By Bloomberg News

(Adds prime minister’s comments in third paragraph.)

Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) — Vietnam plans to continue building roads and schools to assert sovereignty on islands also claimed by China while moving to stifle any protests that display false patriotism, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said.

Vietnam will expand its presence on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and seek talks on the Paracels now occupied by China, Dung told the National Assembly today. The government also urged the legislature to pass a law on demonstrations after “signs of disorder” earlier this year, he said.

“We ask to keep the status quo, without further complications that may affect regional peace and stability,” Dung said. While the government “appreciates, welcomes and praises” any act of patriotism it will “discourage and tackle in accordance with law” any act that pretends to show patriotism, he said.

The Philippines, Vietnam, China, Malaysia and Taiwan have troops on the Spratlys, a group of islands and reefs with a total land area equivalent to 1 1/2 times the size of New York’s Central Park spread over an area roughly the size of Iraq. Vietnam occupies the most islands in this group, Dung said.

Chinese vessels in May sliced cables of a survey ship doing work for Vietnam and in March, Chinese ships chased away a ship working for U.K.-based Forum Energy Plc off the Philippines. The incident sparked anti-China protests in Vietnam that the government eventually quashed.

Vietnam and the Philippines have pushed China to redraw its maritime boundaries according to the United Nations Law of the Sea, a move that would cost it large swathes of its claims in the waters. Under the law, maritime claims stem from occupation of islands.

Oil reserves in the South China Sea, which contains two disputed island chains, may total as much as 213 billion barrels, according to Chinese studies cited in 2008 by the U.S. Energy Information Agency. The Paracels are fully controlled by China, which ousted fellow claimant Vietnam from the 30 islets and reefs in a 1974 battle in which 71 soldiers were killed.

–Daniel Ten Kate, with assistance from K. Oanh Ha in Hanoi. Editor: Mark Williams

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Daniel Ten Kate in Bangkok at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at

Resistance Asks Lebanese Govt. to Counter CIA Spying

Hezbollah, Amal urge govt. to counter espionage by CIA

The Daily Star
Hezbollah and Amal Movement officials meet in Nabatieh, south Lebanon, Friday Nov. 25, 2011.
Hezbollah and Amal Movement officials meet in Nabatieh, south Lebanon

BEIRUT: Hezbollah and the Amal Movement slammed Washington Friday for allegedly spying on the resistance group in Lebanon and urged authorities to counter espionage by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

A joint statement at the end of a meeting between local Hezbollah and Amal officials in Nabatieh, south Lebanon, condemned the “flagrant assault on Lebanon’s sovereignty by U.S. intelligence.”

It said spying by the CIA in Lebanon was no “less dangerous” than Israeli intelligence work and that the two were “complementary.”

The statement called on the Lebanese government to take the “necessary legal and security measures” and task Lebanese security services to counter the alleged CIA network.

Earlier this week, the Associated Press – citing current and former U.S. officials – said the CIA’s operations in Lebanon had been badly damaged after Hezbollah identified and captured a number of U.S. spies.

In recent months, CIA officials have secretly been scrambling to protect their remaining spies – foreign assets or agents working for the agency – before Hezbollah can find them, the AP said.

The Cabinet discussed Wednesday reports that the CIA had operatives working for the agency in Lebanon.

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly met with Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour before Cabinet meeting amid reports that she had been summoned in connection with the alleged CIA spying network in Lebanon. Connelly did not speak to reporters after the meeting.

Information Minister Walid Daouk denied that Connelly had been summoned at the Foreign Ministry over this issue.

A U.S. Embassy spokesperson told The Daily Star Connelly’s meeting with Mansour had been prescheduled, adding that the CIA issue was not addressed during the discussions.

Earlier Wednesday, Hezbollah claimed victory in what it described as its “intelligence war” with the CIA.

“Lebanese intelligence vanquished U.S. and Israeli intelligence in what is now known as the intelligence war,” Hezbollah MP Hasan Fadlallah.

“The resistance blinded American intelligence eyes,” he added.

The Daily Star

India’s China anxiety an ‘inferiority complex’

Overcoming Inferiority Complex

India’s China anxiety an ‘inferiority complex,’ says Xinhua


“Today’s India is far from potent and prosperous to act of its own accord”

India’s “jitters” and fears of encirclement by Chinese influence in South Asia reflected an “inferiority complex” and “loud jealousy” over China’s rise, State-run Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on Thursday.

India was “living under the delusion that China lays out a strategic chessboard to lock up and contain India,” said the commentary, the latest of a series of editorials in China’s State media outlets that have taken a hard line on India following disagreements over ONGC Videsh’s cooperation with Vietnam in the disputed South China Sea.

While it struck a similar tone voiced by a number of Communist Party-run papers in recent weeks, including the nationalistic Global Times and PLA Daily, this commentary was unusual because it was issued by the official government news agency, and posted prominently on the front page of its website.

It was authored by Li Hongmei, a columnist known for her particularly nationalistic views.

“India jitters at the sight of China gaining prestige in Asia, in particular, in South Asia and Southeast Asia, and takes China’s ever-growing regional influence in recent years as a strategic encirclement to target and contain India,” the commentary said.

“It sounds nothing more than a loud jealousy, for the simple reason that China has done what India could not, especially when India perceives that China’s influence has well reached to its doorsteps and created tremendous impact on those who should have banked on India as imagined.”

The Xinhua commentary follows editorials last month by the official People’s Liberation Army Daily and the Global Times, which hit out at India for “stepping into the South China Sea issue.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in talks in Bali last week, on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit, that ONGC Videsh’s projects were conducted on a purely commercial basis, and did not mean India was taking sides with Vietnam, one of more than ten countries that contests China’s claims of “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has since taken a more measured tone on relations with India, playing down differences following the meeting between the two leaders. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said this week there was “no power in the world that can prevent the development of bilateral relations between the two countries.”

Chinese officials and analysts had hoped the Prime Ministers’ meeting would draw a line over differences over the South China Sea, which they said had created strains, although exaggerated by the media on both sides of the border.

However, analysts acknowledge that a series of editorials in influential Party papers — and now in the official news agency — underscore prevailing views, at least among an influential section of the Party and Army leadership.

The Xinhua commentary, the first of its kind published by the official news agency, said India had “put sand in the wheels of its own progress” by not allowing foreign investment from Chinese companies because of its “iron-clad suspiciousness.”

India’s “jealousy” and “inferiority,” it said, were a legacy of the 1962 war which left “deep-seated mistrust.”

“By currying favour with China’s neighbour[s], in particular, those who have brewed disputes with China, India would assume it could instigate these smaller nations to engage in a gang fight against China and contain China’s growing clout in the region,” it said.

“Today’s India,” the commentary added, “no matter how anxious it intends to lead the region and even the world, is far from potent and prosperous to act of its own accord … To grow up to be a real power and stand as a sound competitor, India needs to, first and foremost, break through its own psychological fence.”

Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network

[The following article is from a right-wing publication which I normally avoid reading, nonetheless, the ideas expressed therein are very relevant to the war against “Islamist” terror (SEE:  America’s Islamists).  America’s pseudo-Islamists are mercenary proxies who operate on anti-Islamic false doctrine of Wahabbism.  Their adherence to this belief system makes them susceptible to outside control, since they are easily manipulated into taking violent actions, believing them to be in the “name of God.”  Much Islamist terrorism is by these mind-washed jihadis, in reaction to intelligence agency stimulation of their known psychological triggers.  This is what I mean when I speak of “Islamist terrorism.”]

Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network

Posted by Jamie Glazov

FrontPage’s Interview’s guest today is Deborah Weiss, an attorney, freelance writer and public speaker.  A 9/11 survivor of WTC attacks in NYC, she formerly worked for the Committee on House Oversight in Congress and the Office of the Corporation Counsel under Giuliani.  She is currently President of Vigilance, Inc., and is an expert in OIC UN resolutions.  She has written a chapter in the  new book, Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network: America and the West’s Fatal Embrace. She can be reached at

FP: Welcome Deborah.  Glad you could join FPM today.

Weiss: Thank you for inviting me.

FP: Let’s begin with you telling us a about Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network.

Weiss: Thanks, Jamie.

As you know, Western petro-dollars have made Saudi Arabia a rich country. The Saudis use the money in part to export a radical Islamist ideology into the West. The ideology is antithetical to the Western values of freedom, equality and human rights.

The book was put together and edited by Sarah Stern, President of Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).  It has chapters by various experts and well-known authors, including James Woolsey, Steve Emerson, Daniel PipesRachel Ehrenfeld and others.  Your readers are probably familiar with many of the authors.

For decades now, the West and America in particular, has been pretending that Saudi Arabia is our ally. This book lifts the veil off that myth by demonstrating the various ways that Saudi ideology has infiltrated America and the West, posing a threat to our freedom and way of life. It includes chapters on Saudi penetration into American NGO’s, American so-called “mainstream Muslim” organizations, the American school curriculum, finances, and more. The point is to illustrate the negative impact our addiction to oil will ultimately have on our society. It’s really about the stealth jihad.

FP: How did you got involved in the book?

Weiss: I am a 9/11 survivor from NYC, and have been working on the issues of non-violent radical Islam for years, as you know, Jamie.  Every year, there is an event on Capitol Hill, timed to coincide around the time of 9/11, that showcases speakers and experts on the topic of Saudi infiltration.  I was one of the speakers the last two years.  So when Sarah asked me if I’d be willing to contribute a chapter on the same subject, of course I said yes.

FP: What is your chapter about?

Weiss: My chapter is titled, “The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Defamation of Religions, and Islamophobia.”  The OIC is the largest Islamic organization in the world, comprised of 56 member states plus the Palestinian authority.  Its members tend to vote together as a bloc in the UN, so they hold quite a lot of power and sway.  Yet, most people have never heard of them.

They are an Islamist organization, which seeks to make Islam a victorious political power and to deny freedom to anyone who doesn’t want to live under Sharia law, including Muslims who don’t want to live under Sharia law.  One of its main goals is to eventually internationally criminalize free speech on any Islam-related topic, including Islamic theocracies, Muslims, Islamic terrorism, Islamic human rights violations, and Sharia law.  I know it sounds crazy, but partly because the public is not paying attention to this issue, and partly because the OIC’s strategy is to achieve its goal in small increments, it is actually making significant inroads.  The OIC has successfully targeted various UN bodies with resolutions on this issue, called “Defamation of Religions” and it has targeted several EU Parliaments as well.  The language is presented in a watered down form, so instead of asking for speech to be criminalized, the OIC will ask for states “to take effective action” or “condemn” the speech or discourage the speech.  It has also presented Muslims as the victims of so-called “Islamophobia” in order to win more support for their cause.

FP: What exactly is the Defamation of Religions?

Weiss: Well, in America we have the concept of defamation of individuals or groups.  Generally, defamation in the U.S. has to be a false statement and with negligent or reckless disregard of the truth, depending on whether you’re defaming a public figure or a private citizen.  And it has to be a statement that is likely to result in either a pecuniary harm or harm to that person’s reputation.  In America, truth is a complete defense.  And I might add that in our system, defamation only applies to statements of fact.  The First Amendment gives us protection to express any opinion we desire, no matter how negative it might be.

Defamation of Religions by contrast, gives protection to an idea, in this case a religion, as opposed to protecting a person or group.  Also, it constitutes protection from criticism, even if the statement is true.  And to boot, the way it is applied in countries that implement it, and the way the OIC interprets it, it is really only applied to Islam.  In fact, the original title was called Defamation of Islam, but in order to get more support for it, the OIC changed the title.  Still, Islam is the only religion mentioned in the text, and in practice it is only Islam that is afforded protection from criticism.  Believe me, the OIC is totally fine with Defamation of Judaism and Defamation of Christianity.  Additionally, the Muslim countries that have these types of laws usually impose a harsh criminal penalty for its violation, rather than a civil penalty.  People who “defame Islam” are often jailed, flogged, sometimes even executed.

FP: Implementing Defamation of Religions laws obviously harms people.

Weiss: Yes, Jamie, it does.  What’s ironic about it is that the OIC wants to make “Defamation of Religions” a human right.  But in reality, it constitutes the very opposite of a human right.  In countries that have this law, there are gross human rights violations.  Not only are the penalties very harsh, but it also has the effect of oppressing those with minority religions.  For example, if you are Christian and you say, “I believe Jesus is the Son of G-d”, that is not only blasphemy, but could be considered Defamation of Religions.  Saying this could have dire consequences.  This law even hurts Muslims who have a minority interpretation of Islam that differs from the official interpretation of the government.  For example, in Pakistan it is illegal to be an Ahmadiyya Muslim.  Ahamadiyyas are peaceful, loving, egalitarian-minded Muslims.  But because they believe in a Prophet after Mohammad (named Ahmad), the Pakistani government considers them heretics and openly practicing their faith is a crime.

FP: Defamation of Religions is clearly harmful to religious freedom and human rights.  What are some other negative implications?

Weiss: The ramifications also include the hampering of national security and terrorism prevention efforts.  If you know anything about war, the threat doctrine dictates that the first rule of war is that you must know your enemy and be able to name it by name.  Unfortunately, to the degree that the West censors discussion of Islam and Islamic terrorism, it hamstrings the ability of intelligence professionals to come up with strategies to defeat the problem.

FP: Here in America, we are still allowed to discuss these things, right?

Weiss: So far, America is the last bastion of freedom in terms of free speech. Unlike Europe, we do not have hate speech laws – yet.  However, we have moved from self-censorship to having our government and other institutions issue restrictive guidelines on speech.  For example, DHS, the State Departmentand the NCTC have all issued memos to their professional employees discouraging them from using words such as Islamic terrorism.  The National Security Strategy Memo, which guides our whole US national security policy, also has had all references to Islamic terrorism deleted.  There have been various other measures taken, especially in this administration, to cleanse all official and unofficial policy from discussion, mention, or even acknowledgement of Islamic terrorism.

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China and Pakistan Stage Publicity Demonstration of Anti-Terror Cooperation In Lahore

“Pakistan and China friendship is everlasting.”

China, Pakistan boost anti-terror cooperation

Pakistan and Chinese soldiers take part in a joint exercise in Jhelum, Pakistan Thursday, Nov 24, 2011. At the conclusion of the joint exercise, Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said that elements of East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) are operating in the border area of Pakistan and Afghanistan even there we have exchange of intelligence and we have done utmost to eliminate this threat of ETIM and other extremists for China. 
Pakistan and Chinese soldiers take part in a joint exercise in Jhelum, Pakistan Thursday, Nov 24, 2011. At the conclusion of the joint exercise, Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said that elements of East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) are operating in the border area of Pakistan and Afghanistan even there we have exchange of intelligence and we have done utmost to eliminate this threat of ETIM and other extremists for China. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)
By Chris BrummittAssociated Press / November 25, 2011

JHELUM, Pakistan—The Pakistani and Chinese attack choppers swoop low across the valley, strafing a mock terrorist hideout and a bomb-making factory. Then a joint commando team storms the camp — to the gentle applause of top brass from both nations watching from the stands.

The fact that such a drill is needed reflects a new concern troubling their long-standing alliance: Chinese militants along the Afghan border allegedly aiding separatism in China and plotting terrorist attacks there

Countries around the world, especially the U.S., share Chinese concerns about Pakistan’s militant-infested tribal regions, but few get the same kind of public commitment of help as Beijing. It’s a legacy of China’s oft-hailed “all-weather friendship” with Pakistan.

Anti-terror cooperation is the latest example of the special relationship between the neighboring countries.

China’s good will is vital to Pakistan: China is its largest defense supplier, and it has helped construct two nuclear reactors. Chinese investments help keep the Pakistani economy afloat.

Chinese economic interests are also threatened because militants have made parts of the country no-go areas. Chinese companies are investing in oil, gas and coal extraction to fuel their country’s rapidly expanding economy. There are hundreds of Chinese citizens working in Pakistan, and some have occasionally been attacked or kidnapped.

Its main interest in Pakistan is countering rising Indian power in the region, a goal that is shared by Islamabad, which views India as an enemy.

As ties with Washington have deteriorated this year, some Pakistani leaders have suggested China could fill the economic, diplomatic and military void if America scales back its commitment.

Part of the concern centers on the bitter aftermath of the May 2 U.S. raid that killed al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, including reports that Pakistan gave China access to the damaged high-tech stealth helicopter left behind by U.S. commandos when they killed bin Laden. China denied that.

Despite the tensions following the raid, some American counter-terror cooperation with Pakistan has continued. The Pakistani army still allows Washington to fire missiles at militants in its northwest regions. That also cuts into the ability of Chinese militants to train and forge links with other extremists there.

Thursday’s dramatic war games in the dusty, hilly Punjab countryside were the kind of Pakistani public display of international anti-terror cooperation that Washington could only dream of, given the environment of mistrust and suspicion with Pakistan.

“Terrorism is something which is a threat to China, in some ways, and to other countries in the world as well,” Pakistani Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani told journalists alongside China’s deputy chief of general staff, Gen. Hou Shusen. “There is a need to share our experiences with our Chinese friends,” the Pakistani army chief said.

Militants from China, mostly Uighur-speaking Muslims from the Xinjiang region, are present in Taliban-controlled parts of northwest Pakistan, where they live and train alongside terrorists from around the world. Visitors to North Waziristan, a militant stronghold, say they are known locally as “Chinese Taliban.” A few times a year, they release videos threatening Beijing and demanding freedom for Xinjiang.

Beijing blamed a spate of unrest in July this year in Xinjiang on one group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, said to be based in Pakistan. In an unusually blunt charge, China alleged the terrorists were trained in Pakistan. The Pakistani government and army quickly publicly pledged more help.

Many China watchers and Uighur activists call the Chinese accusations a smoke screen to obscure the anger and hopelessness among Uighurs they say are driving the violence. By blaming outside forces, they say China hopes to avoid shortcomings in policies aimed at reducing tensions there.

Kayani acknowledged ETIM’s presence in Pakistan. The military rarely refers to Chinese militants when discussing the concerns of Afghanistan and the United States about militants using North Waziristan as a base for attacks across the border.

“We have done our utmost to eliminate this threat of ETIM and other extremists for China,” said Kayani. “We have had a very close cooperation and we do exchange intelligence.”

Pakistan has handed over Uighur suspects to China, but actual joint anti-terror operations, as opposed to simulated ones targeting terrorists on Pakistani soil are not expected to happen.

China does not have a military presence in Pakistan and is not known to be pursuing one. That contrasts, with the U.S. Army, which had more than 100 trainers embedded with Pakistani troops fighting militants in the northwest. They were ordered out in the aftermath of the bin Laden raid, which enraged the Pakistani army because it was carried out without its knowledge.

Pakistan’s military is not known to have directly targeted Chinese militants in the border regions. Indeed, it has long rebuffed American requests for action in North Waziristan, saying it doesn’t have enough troops to do so effectively.

Tensions between China and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed countries, rarely make their way into the public domain, and there were none on display during the anti-terror drill.

The mock operation involved around 500 soldiers from both nations. It began with a spectacular parachute drop of Chinese troops from 3,000 feet (1,000 meters).

Helicopters dropped other soldiers close to the buildings. They raided the structures and then detonated them, sending balls of orange flames and mushroom clouds of smoke into the early winter air, before flying off.

After the drill was over, the generals enjoyed a Pak-China feast of goat curry, nan bread, sweet and sour soup and Chinese-style chicken. Presents were exchanged. In a final symbol of their alliance, both sets of troops lined up, chanting in unison, “Pakistan and China friendship is everlasting,” pumping their fists.


Russia unveils major rescue for Belarus

Russia unveils major rescue for Belarus

By MarketWatch

MOSCOW — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin unveiled a major Russian rescue package for Belarus Friday, winning a major stake in its neighbor’s economy, just a day after Minsk jailed a top rights campaigner.

Putin said ahead of a meeting with visiting Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko that Russia was slashing the price Minsk has to pay for gas to less than half the average paid by other European states.

In an important quid pro quo, Russia will acquire the half of its neighbor’s gas transport network it does not own already and also win full control of the Yamal gas pipeline to Europe that stretches through Belarus.

Putin said the price Belarus pays for Russian gas would drop from the $244 per thousand cubic meters this year to $164 at the start of 2012. Minsk would start paying Russia’s own domestic price by 2014.

“This is a substantial rebate. It will help to keep at least $2 billion in Belarus,” Putin said in televised remarks.

“At the same time, we agree that the Russian company Gazprom is acquiring the entire 100% stake in Beltransgaz–the gas transport system of Belarus.”

Putin initially said Ukraine before quickly correcting himself. Ironically, the slip came as Moscow also presses ahead with efforts to win control of Ukrainian gas pipelines in exchange for cheaper shipment costs.

Russia in addition offered Belarus a $10 billion loan over 15 years for the construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant since the 1986 Chernobyl accident in ex-Soviet Ukraine.

Moscow initially agreed to finance the project in June 2009.

The deals’ signature comes as Belarus struggles with a massive current account deficit that has forced it to devalue its currency by some 65% and sell stakes in its prized economic assets to Russia and other states.

The economic turmoil stoked protests against Lukashenko’s 17-year old regime that led to the arrests of hundreds of demonstrators and convictions of top opposition leaders.

The former Soviet republic’s rights record drew more European condemnation on Thursday when a Minsk court jailed leading human rights campaigner Ales Beliatsky for 4.5 years for tax evasion.

Russia has offered only mild criticism of Lukashenko’s crackdown and is now securing economic deals that analysts say should afford Minsk at least another year to deal with the economic crisis.

US Ambassador Resorts To Name-Calling To Squelch Pak/Iran Gas Deal

Gas pipeline deal: Iran unreliable partner, says US ambassador

Munter was addressing students at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) Ambassador’s Forum. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

LAHORE: United States (US) Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said on Friday that Iran was an “unreliable partner” and that Pakistan should not be in a gas pipeline deal with the country.

Addressing students at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) Ambassador’s Forum, Munter said that making a deal with Iran would be a bad idea and Pakistan should work with Turkmenistan instead. He added that a strong Pakistan was in the interest of the US.

He said that US assistance to Pakistan included civilian and military, and that civilian assistance had not been stopped even in the worst of times.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the forum, Munter said that the Memogate scandal was Pakistan’s internal issue and that the US will help in the investigation if Pakistan seeks it.

It had earlier been reported that Turkmenistan had agreed with Pakistan on the price of gas it plans to send via an ambitious pipeline from its prospective natural gas fields through Afghanistan.

Turkmenistan, which sits on the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves, wants to build the trans-Afghan pipeline as part of its plans to diversify sales from Soviet-era master Russia to energy-hungry markets in Asia and Europe.

It aims to supply natural gas from its South Iolotan field, the world’s second-largest, to Pakistan and India. The idea of the pipeline, known as TAPI, was first raised in the mid-1990s, but construction has yet to begin.

The proposed 1,700-km pipeline could carry 1 trillion cubic metres of Turkmen gas over a 30-year period, which would work out at 33 billion cubic metres a year.

Journalist with Conspiracy and Murder In Jyotirmoy Dey Mafia Hit

Journalist held for J Dey’s murder


Jyotirmoy Dey, who was shot dead in suburban Mumbai on June 11, this year. File photo

Jyotirmoy Dey, who was shot dead in suburban Mumbai on June 11.

Maharashtra Police on Friday arrested Jigna Vora, a senior journalist under the stringent Maharashtra control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) for allegedly abetting the murder of veteran crime reporter J Dey.

Ms. Vora, Deputy Bureau Chief of The Asian Age, was produced before a designated MCOCA court which remanded her in police custody till December 1.

Judge S.M. Modak also took on record an application filed by her lawyer saying Ms. Vora feared that she may be forced by police to make a confession but she did not wish to make any such disclosure as she had not committed any crime.

As soon as Ms. Vora entered the court, her colleagues embraced her and she broke down and wept uncontrollably. A senior colleague was seen comforting her saying “Don’t worry, be bold, we shall fight it out“.

Ms. Vora was arrested under IPC sections 120-b (conspiracy), 302 (Murder), 34 (common intention) besides sections 3, 25 and 27 of Arms Act. Ms. Vora has also been charged with section 3(1), 3(2) and 3(4) of MCOCA.

According to police, she allegedly provided registration number of Dey’s motorcycle to underworld don Chhota Rajan, who allegedly ordered the killing as he had written articles against him.

Dey was shot dead in suburban Powai on June 11 by assailants who followed him on motorcycles.

Prosecutor Dilip Shah argued that police had learnt during investigation that Vora had passed on vital information to the Rajan gang which resulted in Dey’s murder. However, the motive behind the crime is yet to be established and police is working in that direction during the ongoing probe.

Seeking Ms. Vora’s custody, he said police wanted to know whether she had passed on information about Dey directly to the fugitive ganglord or members of the gang.

Ms. Vora had been questioned earlier but she had misled police, he said.