Pak crisis deepens–Sponsoring terrorists while fighting them plays out

[The writer is making a valid point, that it would benefit Indian interests if Pakistan/US relations worsened.  Like so many of us have been saying, Pakistan is facing a choice that it must make–resolve the conflict or face self-destruction.  Does the Army run your democracy?  Every nation must learn to live with less military, less war, in order to take care of its own real needs.]

Pak crisis deepens: Sponsoring terrorists while fighting them plays out

ET BureauThe Nato strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers a week ago and Pakistan’s hostile reaction point to twin contradictions. For Pakistan, siding with the US and its allies in their war on the Taliban, tutored and launched into Afghanistan and the wider world of geopolitics by none other than Pakistan itself, amounts to hunting with the hounds while running with the hares. For the US and its allies, the contradiction lies in waging a battle against Islamist militants relying on the help of the Pakistani army, sections of which are deeply committed to securing strategic depth through the very same militants being targeted by the uneasy alliance.

Pakistan has been good at managing contradictions for quite some time. It is both a democracy and a state where the real power vests in the armed forces. It sees itself not only as Islam’s fortress (to use a phrase favoured by Gen Musharraf ) but also its force for modernisation, yet depends on the worst forms of regressive zealotry to protect the fortress . It is a nuclear power, yet requires massive amounts of American aid to keep itself going. It sees India as a perpetual enemy, yet its people love everything Indian: from music, films and saas-bahu shenanigans to the Indian Premier League.

Ultimate resolution of these contradictions lies completely in Pakistani hands: the deepening of democracy to a degree where it can redefine its nationhood in terms other than hostility to India. This seems a wild hope, given the current crisis in the country. Yet, that very crisis holds out the possibility of reform. When bomb attacks by militant groups become a regular occurrence within Pakistan, it is a sign of contradictions running out of anybody’s control.

When the choice is between self-destruction and resolution of the conflict that posits the choice, resolution should prevail. Islamabad might rattle its sabres but will ultimately make up with the US. The alternative is to become dependent on the Chinese, a course that will give US re-engagement with Asia, a new, South Asian thrust that could involve Iran, besides China and Pakistan, and draw Washington and New Delhi even closer.


India to train 30,000 Afghan troops: report

[India will need protection for its Hajigak iron mine crews and shipments south to the Iranian port at Chabahar (SEE: Indian consortium and Canadian firm awarded big Afghan iron ore contract).  The would-be superpower has big plans for post 2014 Afghanistan.]

India to train 30,000 Afghan troops: report

India plans to train up to 20,000 or 30,000 Afghan troops, based in India by the end of 2014 and is expanding its presence in Afghanistan as foreign combat leave.

The US is reportedly wants more countries to take on part of the US$12 billion training funding for the Afghan security forces, and is also running out of time, having set 2014 as the deadline to transfer all security responsibilities to local forces.
Because the Afghan government is reluctant to involve Pakistan in the training process, much of the burden will be shouldered by India.
According to a report published in Jane’s Defence Weekly this week up to 30,000 recruits will be taken to India for training in regimental centres across the north and east of the country. This will be part of the strategic partnership signed between the two countries in October. 

Bonn Afghanistan Conference United In Opposition to External Support for Insurgency

Krishna at Bonn: Terror from ‘outside’ a threat for Afghanistan

Hinting at Pakistan, India [ Images ] on Monday said terrorism emanating from outside Afghan borders posed potent threat to Afghanistan and warned that the war-torn country could “slip back” by interference in its internal affairs.

Addressing a conference of over 100 countries in Bonn, Germany [ Images ], External Affairs Minister S M Krishna [ Images ] underlined India’s pledge to support Afghanistan’s development while underlining that the world community’s commitment to ensuring its stability and security should not end after international forces leave that nation in 2014.

Afghanistan “continues to face a potent threat to its security from terrorism and insurgency being fuelled from outside its borders,” he said, in an apparent reference to Pakistan without naming it.

Talking about the proposal for withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan in 2014, he said there was “a real danger” that there will be “a transition recession; i.e. that attention and aid will decline, just as the Afghan government’s security demands increase.”

Krishna emphasised the need for averting the possibility “that Afghanistan is let down or made to feel abandoned by, at least in terms of quantity, if not quality,” of international assistance required in the era after 2014.

“We should not make the mistakes of the past and let Afghanistan slip back. We must ensure that Afghanistan’s security is ensured through non-interference in its internal affairs,” he said at the conference being boycotted by

Pakistan but attended by world leaders including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [ Images ] and British Foreign Minister William Hague.

Krishna said the international community had come to Afghanistan as it was under the control of an extremist ideology and under the influence of foreign countries and had become a sanctuary for international terror.

“Terrorism [ Images ] radiated outwards to the region, affecting firstly India, and then other countries. It culminated in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks,” he said.

The external affairs minister said the international community then decided that this would not stand, that this bastion of extremism and terrorism was a threat to mankind and had to be replaced.

“Today, we have to ask ourselves, if that job is done, whether we have succeeded in eliminating terrorism, and the safe havens and sanctuaries from where it is emanating, right from its source,” he said.

“We have to ask whether, if we withdraw our holding hand, Afghanistan will be able to withstand the forces of radicalism, extremism and violence, and stand on its own feet,” he said.

The answer to this question should decide the nature and level of long-term engagement with Afghanistan, Krishna said.

He said Afghanistan faced deficits on four fronts — security, governance, development and investment and needed international assistance to face these challenges.

Krishna said political commitments and conference decisions alone were not enough and there was a need to back up the commitments with both resources and actions.

Noting that India was willing to contribute its share, he said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] had pledged an additional $ 500 million to its development effort for Afghanistan until the period 2014.

This was in addition to the $1.5 billion India has already pledged to Afghanistan.

Krishna said India has announced the virtual elimination of sensitive lists affecting exports of all least developed SAARC countries to India, including Afghanistan.

India is also assisting Afghanistan in building an Agricultural University to tap the potential in agriculture in that country, he said.

“We have extended our assistance to Afghanistan for capacity building; increased the number of civil scholarships offered to Afghanistan to enable more students from Afghanistan get requisite training in art, culture and technology, among other areas, to further the process of nation building in Afghanistan,” he said.

Krishna said India was also prepared to make long-term investments in Afghanistan and Indian companies were willing to invest up to $10 billion in mining, setting up of a steel plant and related infrastructure in Afghanistan.

“These are concrete manifestations of our long-term political commitment to Afghanistan. If others do the same, we could set off a virtuous cycle of healthy economic competition in Afghanistan that benefits Afghanistan and the region,” Krishna said.

Image: S M Krishna (R) meets with his counterparts of Germany Westerwelle and Afghanistan counterpart Rassul at the International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn on Monday

Photograph: Reuters

Did Uzbekistan Blow-Up Its Own Railroad Bridge To Spite Tajikistan?

A Bridge Connecting the Afghan Town of Hairatan With Termez In Uzbekistan

“Supplies must be offloaded from the rail system at Termez and transferred to trucks for the final lap into Afghanistan.”

The Pentagon Assimilation of Tajikistan

[According to the following report, the US is offering to arm both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan (perhaps Turkmenistan, as well) with leftover US armaments, after the 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan.  This relocation of resources from Afghan to Central Asian theaters of operation is intended to both lighten the load of equipment removal from Afghanistan and to give former Soviet states a military edge of Russian forces equipped with outdated Soviet armaments. 

In addition, this report raises questions about alleged US bases that are to be constructed somewhere in this former Soviet space (SEE: Manufacturing Justification for the NATO Takeover of Central Asia–).  Even though American diplomats and military sources have categorically denied that the US intends to build new bases in Central Asia, they have already constructed special forces training facilities in several of the Stans, with upcoming plans for more.  According to this Tajik site, Asia Plus, these facilities are all due to receive additional upgrades and add-ons which will effectively turn them into miniature US bases–]

“U.S. Central Command plans to conduct several follow-on projects at the Training Center, such as building living quarters, a dining facility, a medical clinic, administrative buildings, and classrooms. Additional construction will include fences, lighting, parking lots, and access roads to allow year-round training.”

[And this–]

“This is the latest U.S.-sponsored project that supports Tajikistan’s counter narcotics and border security efforts.  Other projects include building border crossing point facilities and border guard outposts along the Tajik-Afghan border and providing radios, vehicles, and personal equipment. U.S. Central Command counternarcotics, the United States Export Control and Border Security, and International Narcotics and Law Enforcement programs have provided facilities, equipment, and training for National Guard, Border Guards, Drug Control Agency, police, and customs officials throughout Tajikistan.”

Pentagon weapons will fill Central Asia

Countries in the region agree to the appearance in its territory of U.S. military bases

pentagon, weapons, trade / General Vincent Brooks found a common language with the Tajik Chief of Staff Ramil Nadyrovym.  Photo from
Gen. Vincent Brooks found a common language with the Tajik Chief of Staff Ramil Nadyrovym. 
Photo from

The Russian leadership seriously concerned about the fate of surplus weapons that are free of charge, may enter into the countries of Central Asia (CA) following the withdrawal in 2014 from Afghanistan, NATO troops. There is a strong likelihood that the supply of significant quantities of weapons to Central Asian countries, many of which are superior to the Russian, will allow these countries to strengthen and modernize its army. At the same time this will weaken the Afghan armed forces, which could affect stability in the territory of CIS countries. Russia concerned by the fact that NATO and U.S. bases in the first place, may still remain in Afghanistan, and secondly, Moscow fears that they will appear after 2014 and in Central Asia.

“We have serious questions, how the plans to reduce the number of American troops combined with the strengthening of its military infrastructure by Washington in Afghanistan,” – said on Friday Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich. The diplomat stressed that the reduction of foreign military presence in Afghanistan must be accompanied by adequate measures to combat potential of building the Afghan National Army and Police so that they can do to provide security in the country.

In this situation Moscow is more concerned with the fact that the weapons and military equipment, which are now in Afghanistan, will be transferred to the Central Asian countries. Yet it is precisely such a scenario, it seems, are trying to play in the post-American.

This will cause significant damage to the interests of Russia, which still has a long-term plans of the military and military-technical cooperation with Central Asian former Soviet republics.

According to the military-diplomatic source in Russia, theme derived from the transfer of surplus weapons in Afghanistan in a closed format was discussed at the end of November, Tajik and Uzbek leaders during his visit to Dushanbe and Tashkent Central Command U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Vincent Brooks. It first went on the transfer of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the high-volume devices, appliances and virtual channel intelligence, including unmanned lethal devices, digital radios, personal equipment kit, equipped with navigators JPS, armored cars, armored vehicles, air defense systems, tanks and rocket and artillery systems with the means of topographic location space, as well as small arms, equipped with night vision scopes.According to sources, the Pentagon has apparently come to the conclusion that these high-tech weapons for the Afghan army by virtue of her lack of education and sustainable relationship with the Taliban will not do.Army the same post-Soviet countries can master these weapons, apparently without problems. Note that these weapons were of U.S. and NATO Georgian forces before, in August 2011 to commit aggression against South Ossetia and Abkhazia. From all of this “advanced” list of weapons and military equipment (AME) in the Russian army now, except for a few thousand digital radios, navigation GLONASS obsolete UAV modernized (though too old) AK-74 Kalashnikov rifles and machine guns, almost nothing. And a partial re-new Russian ground troops will only IWT in 2015. It turns out that after the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, some Central Asian countries on the level and quality of their software with new weapons and military equipment will surpass the Russian army.

Initially open reaction Tajik and Uzbek leaders to offer the Brooks followed. Only a week later in the media reported that the negotiations with the representative of the Pentagon’s Defense Minister of Uzbekistan Kabul Berdiyev expressed interest in getting these kinds of weapons and military equipment. What Brooks supposedly replied: “I think there are ways to excess U.S. military equipment could benefit from Uzbekistan.”Official Dushanbe kept silent, but, according to military and diplomatic sources, their concern about the possible re-equipment of the Tajik army to NATO standards expressed, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov during a recent meeting in Moscow with Tajik counterpart Sherali Khairulloyev. Moscow once again assured the prospects of Dushanbe reduced military assistance and re-Tajik army with new weapons. Although the question of raising the rent for the use of the 201st Russian military base located in Tajikistan, remains open. This, of course, and enjoyed by Americans.

Sources say that during his visit to Tajikistan and Brooks Tashkent behind closed doors and discussed the proposals on the Pentagon building in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on the basis of long-term network of training centers, where the troops of the Central Asian countries should develop their broadcast free of charge from the grouping of the alliance in Afghanistan new weapons and military equipment. Training centers – it is certainly not military bases. But it is diverted to the subject, apparently prompted a number of media publications about the reason for that Dushanbe agreed to deploy military bases in their country. The U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan is immediately denied. With Russia, when Pakistan announced the closure of the NATO supply routes through its territory, no one does not want to quarrel. But no one also can not deny the leadership of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan formally announce agreement on long-term basis to have NATO bases on its territory.

According to German expert on Central Asia, Günter Knabe, this agreement, Uzbek President Islam Karimov has demonstrated during the October visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Tashkent. This conclusion is shared by the independent Uzbek political analyst Rustam Haydarov. It is no accident, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was after Clinton’s contacts with Karimov proposed to “take a decision on Uzbekistan”, which is “triple play”

A few days ago announced the site WikiLeaks report of an American diplomat, who described the situation in Tajikistan and Dushanbe told about the readiness to provide the U.S. Air Force Base or other military objectives. On a sustained basis in Tajikistan is already in force supported by the U.S. training center, which is stationed in Fahrabade. According to the U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan, the local law enforcement officers recently transferred to 300 sets of personal gear and equipment for special-purpose groups that American instructors are trained in Fahrabade. As noted at the ceremony, Major Lennol Absher, “since 1992, the American people have provided over 984 million dollars to support economic development, democratic institutions, health care, education and security in Tajikistan.” One can only imagine how much help will be appreciated by the U.S. and other NATO countries, if the troop grouping in Afghanistan free of charge to purposeful will transmit the modern weapons of the Tajik army. It may be worth tens of billions of dollars. For Russia, this means impossibly high

Pak demands equal treatment from Australia on uranium sale

Pak demands equal treatment from Australia on uranium sale


A day after Australia’s ruling Labour Party approved uranium sale to India, Pakistan has demanded it be allowed to buy the nuclear raw material if the Gillard administration proceeds with sales of yellowcake to New Delhi.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Australia, Abdul Malik Abdullah, said if Australia is willing to export uranium to India then it should sell it to Pakistan as well.

“If Australia is going to lift the ban on a country which has not signed NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) it is much hoped that will also apply to Pakistan the same way,” Mr. Abdullah was quoted as saying by The Australiannewspaper today.

Labour Party yesterday voted to overturn a decades-old ban on uranium sale to India, paving the way for Canberra to supply yellowcake to a nation outside the NPT.

Mr. Abdullah said Pakistan has not made a request to buy Australian uranium but this could change in the future.

“In that case we will hope that we will also be treated at par with other non-NPT signatories,” he said.

Interestingly, Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard had recently asked Pakistan to do more to combat terrorism and extremism.

Noting that Pakistan would have the largest Muslim population by the middle of the century and also had nuclear weapons, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith has said Pakistan government and parliament did not publicly support terrorism or extremism. “We don’t have rose-coloured glasses about the complexity or the difficulties of Pakistan, but we strongly believe that Australia and the rest of the world needs to engage with Pakistan,” he said.

The report noted that Mr. Smith has used his powers under the Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act to block exports to Pakistan three times in the past two years, acting on intelligence that suggested Australian goods and services might be misused.

In 2010, the minister intervened to block a contract between an Australian company and a Pakistan-based company for the supply of scientific instruments. For the first time under the Act, Mr. Smith’s prohibition notice also extended to any training provided to the Pakistan-based company.

This year, Mr. Smith has blocked exports of scientific equipment and industrial equipment to Pakistan. Pakistan is being dealt with under the Act in much the same way as Iran was dealt with before tougher U.N. sanctions were imposed.

Moscow issues Trans-Caspian Project warning

Moscow issues Trans-Caspian Project warning

By Vladimir Socor

The Soviet art of socialist realism used to be defined as “socialist in substance, national in form”. Threats to prevent the construction of a trans-Caspian gas pipeline by military force are also a form of Kremlin art: bluff in their substance, even if brutal in their form.

Pursuant to President Dmitry Medvedev and the Russian Security Council’s October 14 decision to draft proposals on how to resist the European Union’s Third Energy Package as well as the EU’s Nabucco and trans-Caspian gas pipeline projects, Moscow is undertaking diplomatic and political countermeasures to the EU-planned gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Europe.

Statements by Medvedev and the Russian foreign ministry claiming that trans-Caspian pipelines would be unlawful without Russian consent have failed to make that legal case and are seen as purely political. Officially inspired polemics against that project in the Moscow media have also left Ashgabat and Brussels unimpressed. In frustration, Moscow has started hinting at the use of force.

Russian Gas Society president and vice-chairman of the Duma, Valery Yazev (dubbed “Gazprom’s chief lobbyist”), has publicly reminded Turkmenistan that it lacks military protection in the Caspian Sea, and it risks a “Libyan scenario” by joining the EU’s trans-Caspian project. He dismissed the value of United Nations General Assembly support for Turkmenistan’s neutrality and multivector policy.

Instead of “flirting” with the West, Yazev suggested, Turkmenistan should seek Russia’s and China’s protection through the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Eurasian Economic Union, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Outpaced by China in the contest over Turkmen gas resources, Moscow is now concentrating on blocking Western access to those resources. Russia’s semi-official spokesmen use scare tactics by threatening a Caspian repeat of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war.

Mikhail Aleksandrov, department chief at the government-sponsored Institute on the CIS Countries, warns that construction of a trans-Caspian pipeline would imply de facto recognition of division of the Caspian Sea into sectors.

“This is altogether unacceptable, and Russia would have to act in the manner of its operation to compel Georgia to peace. This time, Ashgabat and Baku would have to be forced to comply with international law. It may even be through air strikes, if they do not understand any other way.”

According to him (echoing Yazev), the Libya operation by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) gives Russia a parallel right to use force, in this case in the Caspian basin. Aleksandrov claims that he issued these warnings personally to the EU’s Special Representative for Central Asia, the French diplomat Pierre Morel, recently in Moscow.

Konstantin Simonov, head of the government-connected Foundation for Russia’s Energy Security, has similarly warned Turkmenistan, at first via an Azerbaijani outlet: “Ashgabat understands that the situation [with the trans-Caspian project] would be the same as it was in Georgia in August 2008. Back then they promised to protect Georgia, some kind of guarantees. And how did that end… Does Turkmenistan want the same to happen in the Caspian?”

Simonov went on to warn that “using force is the only possible response” if diplomacy fails to stop the trans-Caspian project. “Ashgabat has no guarantee of protection from a Russian military response. And only the experience of the August war in Georgia is restraining Ashgabat now.”

Medvedev himself has set the stage for using the example of Georgia to intimidate other recalcitrant countries. The outgoing Russian president has just acknowledged the political calculation behind the decision to invade Georgia: namely, to block Georgia’s and Ukraine’s path toward NATO. With this, Moscow stakes out a claim to use force in pursuit of specific political objectives against neighboring countries. Practically on the same day when Medvedev spoke, the Kremlin orchestrated these threats against Turkmenistan (and against EU interests) directly extrapolating from the Georgia example.

Russia is only the third-largest importer of Turkmen gas at present (it ranked first until 2008-2009). Moscow makes no objections to Turkmen gas exports eastward to China or southward to Iran; and it looks favorably at the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline project, which Gazprom even proposes to join as a co-investor. Russia is content to see Turkmen gas heading in any direction except westward to Europe. There, Russia wants to cement its dominant positions.

Turkmenistan and the European Commission envisage deliveries of 40 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas annually, by the second part of this decade, through the trans-Caspian project and the Southern Corridor to Europe. The Kremlin, apparently, hopes to intimidate Turkmenistan directly, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan indirectly, scare off the EU, and discourage Western investment in trans-Caspian pipelines.

Using semi-official channels to threaten the use of force is a tactic with limited deniability. It reflects both a sense of impunity and a calculated bluff by Russia’s high-level authorities. It does not deserve a direct response at the public level; this would unnecessarily dignify the bluff.

The proper Western response at this stage is to make clear in Moscow that the trans-Caspian project is a shared Western interest; and to demonstrate this commitment to the Caspian partners.

Vladimir Socor is a Senior Fellow of the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation and its flagship publication, Eurasia Daily Monitor. An internationally recognized expert on the former Soviet-ruled countries in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia, Mr Socor is a Romanian-born citizen of the United States based in Munich, Germany.

(This article first appeared in The Jamestown Foundation. Used with permission.)