Merkel: Pakistan must play bigger Afghanistan role


BERLIN (Reuters) – Pakistan should be more closely involved in solving the Afghan conflict, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a newspaper interview due to be published on Sunday.

“There will be no peace in this region unless Pakistan carries its share of responsibility,” Merkel told German weekly Welt am Sonntag.

Faced with an insurgency by indigenous Taliban allied with the Afghan militants, Pakistan wants a peaceful Afghanistan. It is viewed with deep suspicion in Kabul, however, because of its ties to the Taliban, whom Pakistan backed through the 1990s.

“For a comprehensive solution, we need a much greater involvement of Afghan authorities and the inclusion of neighboring countries, in particular Pakistan,” Merkel said.

Germany has said it is committed to boosting troop levels in Afghanistan and nearly doubling civilian aid to create the conditions to start a withdrawal from next year.

But Merkel has refused to set a date for the withdrawal of troops, saying this could encourage the Taliban to lay low for a while and then launch a big attack.

“A withdrawal without reaching our goals and a unilateral German pull out would not be a handover of responsibility but an act of irresponsibility,” she said.

Polls show that a sizeable majority of Germans favor an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan. According to NATO figures, Germany had 4,280 soldiers in Afghanistan as of December last year.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; editing by Michael Roddy)

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Pakistan to US are you with us or against us?


The tide has shifted dramatically in recent years. Resurgent Afghan Taliban, better armed, trained, and deadly effective, now have control over 80% of Afghan territory. There has been a significant increase in offensive targetting of US and NATO bases and Afghan government officials and buildings in the last couple of years, with even Kabul coming under increasing pressure.

On the other side of the border, the CIA and Indian supported TTP has been getting a hiding at the hands of Pakistan’s armed forces with even the US and NATO stunned at the efficiency and success of the army operations against TTP militants in Swat and South Waziristan. For the first time in 8 years, Pakistan now has the upper hand and has started to dictate terms to the US, starting last week with the rejection of US request to extend the operation to North Waziristan where Jalaluddin Haqqani’s faction allegedly operates from. Anticipating an imminent turnaround in Pakistan’s Afghan policy and fearing the US supply lines into Afghanistan may come under pressure, the US immediately sought to pacify the Pakistan Armed Forces with promises to deliver 12 ‘unarmed’ shadow drones – which hasn’t worked.

The White House and Pentagon are in shock, as this turnaround by the Pakistan Army couldn’t have come at a worse time for them – with the recent attacks on CIA’s Chapman outpost in Khost, a failed civilian government incharge, an incompetent Afghan army, and with 30,000 US troops on their way to what many now realise is a lost cause.

And now the New York Times reveals an interesting conversation between Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and an unnamed senior Pakistan Army official that took place last week. The biggest sign yet of the reversal of fortunes comes with a simple but symbolic ‘Are you with us or against us?’ from the Pakistan Army to the United States. The NYT article follows:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Nobody else in the Obama administration has been mired in Pakistan for as long as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. So on a trip here this past week to try to soothe the country’s growing rancor toward the United States, he served as a punching bag tested over a quarter-century.

“Are you with us or against us?” a senior military officer demanded of Mr. Gates at Pakistan’s National Defense University, according to a Pentagon official who recounted the remark made during a closed-door session after Mr. Gates gave a speech at the school on Friday. Mr. Gates, who could hardly miss that the officer was mimicking former President George W. Bush’s warning to nations harboring militants, simply replied, “Of course we’re with you.”

That was the essence of Mr. Gates’s message over two days to the Pakistanis, who are angry about the Central Intelligence Agency’s surge in missile strikes from drone aircraft on militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas, among other grievances, and showed no signs of feeling any love.

The trip, Mr. Gates’s first to Pakistan in three years, proved that dysfunctional relationships span multiple administrations and that the history of American foreign policy is full of unintended consequences.

As the No. 2 official at the C.I.A. in the 1980s, Mr. Gates helped channel Reagan-era covert aid and weapons through Pakistan’s spy agency to the American allies at the time: Islamic fundamentalists fighting the Russians in Afghanistan. Many of those fundamentalists regrouped as the Taliban, who gave sanctuary to Al Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and now threaten Pakistan.

In meetings on Thursday, Pakistani leaders repeatedly asked Mr. Gates to give them their own armed drones to go after the militants, not just a dozen smaller, unarmed ones that Mr. Gates announced as gifts meant to placate Pakistan and induce its cooperation.

Pakistani journalists asked Mr. Gates if the United States had plans to take over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons (Mr. Gates said no) and whether the United States would expand the drone strikes farther south into Baluchistan, as is under discussion. Mr. Gates did not answer.

At the same time, the Pakistani Army’s chief spokesman told American reporters at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi on Thursday that the military had no immediate plans to launch an offensive against extremists in the tribal region of North Waziristan, as American officials have repeatedly urged.

And the spokesman, Maj. Gen Athar Abbas, rejected Mr. Gates’s assertion that Al Qaeda had links to militant groups on Pakistan’s border. Asked why the United States would have such a view, the spokesman, General Abbas, curtly replied, “Ask the United States.”

General Abbas’s comments, made only hours after Mr. Gates arrived in Islamabad, were an affront to an American ally that gave Pakistan $3 billion in military aid last year. But American officials, trying to put a positive face on the general’s remarks and laying out what they described as military reality, said that the Pakistani Army was stretched thin from offensives against militants in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan and probably did not have the troops.

“They don’t have the ability to go into North Waziristan at the moment,” an American military official in Pakistan told reporters. “Now, they may be able to generate the ability. They could certainly accept risk in certain places and relocate some of their forces, but obviously that then creates a potential hole elsewhere that could suffer from Taliban re-encroachment.”

Mr. Gates’s advisers cast him as a good cop on a mission to encourage the Pakistanis rather than berate them. And he was characteristically low-key during most his visit here, including during a session with Pakistani journalists on Friday morning at the home of the American ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson.

But Mr. Gates perked up when he was brought some coffee, and he soon began to push back against General Abbas. American officials say that the real reason Pakistanis distinguish between the groups is that they are reluctant to go after those that they see as a future proxy against Indian interests in Afghanistan when the Americans leave. India is Pakistan’s archrival in the region.

“Dividing these individual extremist groups into individual pockets if you will is in my view a mistaken way to look at the challenge we all face,” Mr. Gates said, then ticked off the collection on the border.

“Al Qaeda, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Tariki Taliban in Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Haqqani network – this is a syndicate of terrorists that work together,” he said. “And when one succeeds they all benefit, and they share ideas, they share planning. They don’t operationally coordinate their activities, as best I can tell. But they are in very close contact. They take inspiration from one another, they take ideas from one another.”

Mr. Gates, who repeatedly told the Pakistanis that he regretted their country’s “trust deficit” with the United States and that Americans had made a grave mistake in abandoning Pakistan after the Russians left Afghanistan, promised the military officers that the United States would do better.

His final message delivered, he relaxed on the 14-hour trip home by watching “Seven Days in May,” the cold war-era film about an attempted military coup in the United States.

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A Balochi Beating India’s Manmohan


This picture was taken recently in Chaman, the small Pakistani town on the border with southern Afghanistan. While the US and Indian media promote terrorism in the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan, a terror which is supported by US and Indian intelligence operatives using the Afghan soil, the reality on the ground is far from the image that American and Indian spinmasters wish to convey. [US think tanks are the latest entrants in the psy-ops against Pakistan, promoting the idea of the separation of resource-rich Balochistan from Pakistan.]

In this picture, a Pakistani Balochi is beating a donkey-shaped effigy of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Indians and Karzai’s intelligence, with tacit approval of CIA operatives in Afghanistan, have been luring young poor Pakistani Balochis to training camps in Afghanistan and brainwashing them to launch a wave of terror inside Pakistan in the guise of a separatist ethnic insurgency. As soon as US military and intelligence landed in Afghanistan, a long-dead terrorist group called BLA, created by the Soviet KGB in the 1970s, was brought back from the dustbin of history and reorganized. The Indians helped by bringing agents from India fluent in the Urdu language. These language experts were tasked with composing press statements and sending them to Pakistani media offices across Pakistan.

To turn this into a real separatist war, unknown terrorists were sent to Quetta, the provincial capital, to target-kill non-Balochi Pakistanis in an effort to stir an ethnic backlash. There isn’t much ‘ethnic’ difference among Pakistanis, but inept politicians have been using minor language differences, which do exist, to create the aura of different ethnicities for political reasons.

Unfortunately, former President Pervez Musharraf turned a blind eye to US, Indian and Karzai puppet regime’s meddling in Pakistani Balochistan. The incumbent pro-US government of President Asif Zardari is doing the same. No one in today’s Pakistani ruling structure appears willing to fend off the Americans and their Indian and Afghan poodles.

But despite all these efforts, Pakistani Balochis remain staunch Pakistanis, just like their fathers and grandfathers who fought off the Indian massacre of Pakistani migrants during Pakistan’s War of Independence in 1947.

The biggest proof of this came last June, when the entire Pakistani Balochi tribe of Mari came out for the funeral of Lieutenant Safiullah Mari, who died fighting the Afghan-backed terrorists in the Pakistani tribal belt. Not only did the Maris chant pro-Pakistan slogans, the father of Lt. Baloch announced he was ready to give his other son to defend Pakistan. This was a slap in the face of terrorist feudal leaders like Harbiyar Mari, who enjoys British protection in London, and Brahamdagh Bugti, who enjoys American and Karzai’s protection in Kabul. Both have been trying to radicalize the Mari tribe against their own country.

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WARNING To India: Dont Tempt Us


By: Faisal Awan
The writer is a member of editorial team of pakistanfirst.com

With too many Bollywood characters punctuating tiers of Lok Saba it seems like Bollywood action movie theme and mind set has inculcated in the hierarchy of the Indian Army to hilarious limits as well. The precedence of such mindset was exhibited by none other than its Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor, when he claimed “Indian army is ready to battle Pakistan and China at the same time”. This statement was further bolstered by Lt-General A S Lamba that “India within 48 hours of the start of assault can enter Pakistan”. The Indian Think Tanks and Indian Army are missing the cue that thrusting a war on Pakistan and entering Pakistan is by no means a Hindi Bollywood version of Adolf Hitler taking over Austria and Czechoslovakia or a Bollywood Remix version of “The Guns of Navarone”.

Indian government and army needs to understand that their unyielding greed for bloodshed and hegemony will back fire just like it did in September 1965, when General Joyanto Nath Chaudhri confidently and boastfully told his officers that he would like to have his evening drink at Lahore Gymkhana. What history witnessed then in the next 2-3 weeks was none other than a consummate squashing of their army chief’s wishful dream.

The drunken leadership of the Indian Army is trampling the tolerance of Pakistani people and is coquetting with fire. Indian government and its army’s multifaceted exploitation of Pakistan’s desire to peace must not be considered its weakness. The warmongers are forgetting that nothing is too big to cross for the resolute, tenacious and unyielding nation which the world calls The Pakistanis. But if these buffoons are under the impression that they will enter Pakistan in 48 hours, ironically giving themselves 24 hours more than General Joyanto Nath Chaudhri, then this will be the last mistake they will be making. The fate of General Joyanto Nath Chaudhri and his yes men should not be forgotten. If we can teach a lesson in 1965, then make no mistake about it that we are now a Nuclear Power and our enemies will be hung in the streets of their own country by Pakistani Army Jawans without any concession of their ranks in Indian Army.

The Indian authorities should strive to refrain themselves from such assertions which has historically caused nothing but utter embarrassment and disgrace to its country. The Pakistan army, Pakistani youth and the Pakistani nation has the resilience and audacity to slap a response to any aggression towards ideological and geographical boundaries of its Pak Sarzameen.

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India’s Envy: Wants ‘POF-EYE’ type weapon to combat terror


December 31, 2009

Times of India

After Pakistan Ordinance Factory (POF) succesfully unveiled its ‘POF-EYE CornerShot’ at IDEAS-2008 last year, India has launched its own hunt for a similar weapon. Currently Pakistan and Israel are the only two countries who manufacture the CornerShot gun.

NEW DELHI: Having learnt lessons from the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, the Army has launched a global hunt for suitable weapon systems `for shooting around the corner’ for its troops involved in counter-terrorism operations.

These `cornershot’ rifles and pistols, with detachable high-resolution video cameras and monitors mounted on them, will help Army special forces like the Para-SF units to effectively tackle terrorists in urban warfare scenarios.

“Such close-quarter combat weapons will help our commandos to observe and engage targets from behind a corner — for instance, while storming a building or a room — without exposing themselves to direct fire from terrorists,” said an officer.

“American, Israeli, Pakistani and a few other forces already use such weapons… The front parts of their barrels, mounted with video cameras, can swivel 60 to 70 degree on either side to scan and direct fire around corners,” he added.

Floating the Request for Information (RFI), the Army’s weapons and equipment directorate wants armament companies to submit their proposals by January 30. This comes soon after elite counter-terror force National Security Guards launched the process to acquire cornershot weapons as well as wall surveillance radars to monitor what is the situation inside a room without actually entering it.

“Such new-generation equipment is very effective in neutralising terrorists in situations like 26/11, where commandos had to clear the five-star hotels in room-to-room flushing out operations,” said the officer.

The Army’s RFI specifies the cornershot weapons must be able to `engage targets effectively beyond 200 metres’ and have day/night vision capability.

While the exact number of the weapons to be acquired is yet to be finalised, officers said transfer of technology to manufacture them indigenously was being sought since “a large quantity” was required.

“The weapon systems should also have image downloading and transmission capability so that the enemy can be located and information shared with other troops to enable the commandos to take the best positions to engage the targets,” said an officer.

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Obama’s AF-PAK Policy


PRESIDENT Obama recently delivered the most important speech regarding war against terror and also announced that 30,000 additional American troops will be deployed in Afghanistan. The war is not going to be fought on the battlefields of Herat, Farah, Kunduz or Mizar-e-Sharif. The war would be fought in the areas near to the borders of Pakistan including Helmand, Kandahar, Khost and Paktia.

First and foremost objective of Obama’s speech was to prepare his troops for the final but aggressive attack on the Taliban and al-Qaeda till July 2011, the cut-off date to insert the troops in Afghanistan.

That is why the deadline is July 2011, to create a complete withdrawal of American troops until the 2012 American presidential polls. Obama’s speech also revealed to the international community that this could be done if and only if they get full support from Pakistan’s army. Obama promised “a partnership with Pakistan that is built on mutual interest, mutual respect and mutual trust.” He also highlighted the fact that the United States is the largest supplier for those internally displaced persons in SWAT and South Waziristan. Obama’s administration wants to affect the 2012 election in favor of democrats and this could be done only if they get rid of Afghan war that has so far turned out to be ineffective.

The deployment of extra troops will take at least six months which means it will be completed by the June of 2010. Obama thinks that, in Afghanistan, the US military can create an environment which favors to their desired objectives. American administration believes that, after a fast deployment of the US troops, the military offensive can reverse the Taliban’s energy, secure the urban centers and deny the Taliban ability to overthrow the government. It seems that Obama believes that in Afghanistan the use of force is a tool to bring about the desired change, the change of the US liking. Obama seems forgetting that had force being the critical factor the former USSR would have been a living reality in Afghanistan. If Obama is sending more troops there may be more problems and it can create instability in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and there may be more chances of the US staying in Afghanistan than the possibility of exit.
Obama administration has also tried to apply Iraq formula in Afghanistan as they tried to change current regime by force like what we have witnessed in current Afghan presidential polls, there were serious allegations on Karzai’s government regarding massive rigging but the point is that Afghanistan is not like Iraq so they have to apply that formula which has its roots in Afghanistan.

The Afghan territory is very difficult especially for the invaders because it is full off rocky-terrain. The tribal society which is inherently aggressive towards the invaders and they never accept any outsider intervention in past as well so will they be able to accept the extra 30,000 troops or not? And this is very serious question and the answer is that they will definitely create big challenges for US and NATO troops as more US and NATO troops in Afghanistan means more conflicts and tensions then peace. Further the porous Afghan border that links with Pakistani territory especially NWFP, FATA and Balochistan can create insurgency in these areas and that can create more panic and unrest in Pakistan that can lead towards further destabilization of Pakistan.

However, Obama is expecting civilian Afghans become anti Taliban from the Afghan society which is traditionally tribal in nature and has still struck with their primitive trends and culture of their society and it is very difficult to change the Afghan tribal culture in just fewer months. That is the error in the Obama’s policy.

US infect is partially applying the major trend of Iraq formula in Afghanistan. Like in Iraq, they also want to create effective Afghan army and police that could protect the present or any future government but the situation in Afghanistan is far much worse as compared to Iraq. It needs time to implement on this policy and Obama administration already gives the dead line of pulling out US troops from Afghanistan from the summer of 2011 to the beginning of 2012. Obama administration not recalled the consequences of withdrawal of USSR from Afghanistan in 1989 that resulted of civil war eruption in Afghanistan and pro-communist regime was over thrown by Taliban. Now looking deep into the current circumstances it has been said in load tone that history will repeat itself yet another time.

Obama speech which clearly shows of taking out the troops from Afghanistan but they also want a weighty type of operation should also be occurred against Taliban. In a way, Obama linked the Taliban with Afghanistan and al-Qaeda with Pakistan. In that circumstance, it seems that al-Qaeda is present in Pakistan, to chase al-Qaeda in Pakistan is an uphill task and the fight against al-Qaeda in Pakistan will continue for years to come. Practically, the war on terror has been shifted from Afghanistan to Pakistan and the war is being virtually fought inside Pakistan. In Afghanistan, on the other hand, there are just post-war effects existing in the shape of insurgency. That is why Americans are laying stress that in Pakistan there is more need of counter-terrorism operations and in Afghanistan there is more need of counter-insurgency operations. The main problem is that US want to handle the situation on her own way but several factors can also play a vital role and it will create more instability in Pakistan as compare to Afghanistan. The present scenario in Pakistan is highlighted by deadly suicide attacks in major urban areas and on Pakistan’s security personnel. This is also linked with the US policy directly or indirectly. The Pakistan army holding the war against terrorist in South Waziristan and if US inserts more troops in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border it will create more difficulty for Pakistan’s army to handle the situation and counter the terrorism. Obama in his speech said that after 18 months they will pull out their troops from Afghanistan and they are now about to create the situation that can does not help them to control Afghanistan nor it can help Pakistan to eradicate the terrorist’s hideouts in FATA. To create peace and stability in Afghanistan needs much more than a short time extensive military presence. It needs to give more importance to Pakistan in Afghanistan as compared to other regional powers. But if Obama’s administration keeps on cursing Pakistan of the US failures in Afghanistan then the situation can’t become soothe as US may face difficulty not only in nurturing the long-lasting relationship with the Pakistan but also in fighting the war enthusiastically.

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