Myth of South Waziristan Broken: Gen. Kayani


ISLAMABAD: Sitting under a portrait of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, with a huge blazing red calligraphy on his left and an impressive piece of framed Chinese embroidery on his right, recalling the deaths at the Parade Lane of four young sons of his officers who were Hufaz-e-Quran, COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani emerged as the first Army chief to resort to speak to the Americans and their Western allies in words and images that they cannot fail to understand.

One of the last few senior generals to have undertaken military training in the US until the Pressler Amendment was slapped on Pakistan, the US and its allies are now not only listening but also understanding as the COAS uses the symbols of American legendary golfer Tiger Woods on his power point display and comparing full bases at a baseball game to some of the war situations on the Pak-Afghan border.

In a meeting at the GHQ, with analysts and retired senior generals, some under whose command he had served, the COAS opened up his mind and heart to dwell on the dangers facing Pakistan militarily, and the region, and ways and means that the military leadership thinks are the solutions to ensure that at the end of the war, Pakistan does not find itself in the ‘wrong corner of the room’. The interaction continued for nearly three hours.

Speaking on and off therecord, the COAS shared with the participants the presentation that he had made at Nato headquarters in Brussels, where generals from 45 countries heard him, and which many Western military analysts told The News, was a “make and break” presentation, which got the Western military leadership not only ‘educated’, but confess amongst themselves “all” that they were doing “wrong” inside Afghanistan.

One of the direct results of this Brussels presentation, which even the Foreign Office agrees, resulted in the final push which made India coming reluctantly to the negotiating table. The COAS had convinced Nato and others why it was important for him to have his eastern border peaceful.

The proudest moment for any Pakistani was to hear and readily believe that the ‘myth’ of South Waziristan had been broken and the military operations before that in Swat and Malakand in the words of the Army chief, “We did it with no help from the United States. Daily I would receive calls if we needed any help and we replied we needed nothing”.

He was very clear about what was best for Pakistan in these days of turmoil. “Partnership (with the US) does not mean you desire and I start doing it,” said the COAS. He said with the US military aid still in the pipeline, “In many cases I have eaten into my reserves.” While acknowledging he said there has to be a balance for a military budget and one for development as well.

The fear was, said Kayani, even if his military had accepted 5%, it would have been blown up to 50%. The COAS earlier had met General Stanley A McChrystal, Commander International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan, at a time when everyone in the region was still waiting for the US to explain in detail the policies that will take them up to the time that they are ready to leave the region.

“I told McChrystal that the acid test of a policy is that options should increase,” he said, adding that he believed that the only way to measure success inside Afghanistan was to gauge the public support and not the number of people you kill.

“Today, this is McCrystal’s policy inside Afghanistan, where they talk of a political process and reconciliation. Finally, there is realisation today,” added the chief. Looking at the US Afghan strategy, Kayani says he has clearly told the US that raising an Afghan Army in the stipulated time is not possible, and weaning away of the Taliban will only happen if the US is seen willing inside Afghanistan.

“This has not happened and the perception has not been formed. Only when you win over 70%, you are really winning,” he added. He also does not shy away from telling his US visitors that the bulk of Nato supplies are still going through Pakistan and they will continue to do so, and threats of looking for alternative routes do not impress him.

South Waziristan “We had a history of mismanaged operations in South Waziristan and there was a myth that no-one has ever come here and controlled the area. If we had turned back, we would have destroyed the credibility of the military”.

The victory in South Waziristan, the chief said, was because of motivation of the troops, changed tactics of engaging the adversaries from the dangerous ridges of mountains instead of the customary land routes which also resulted in fewer casualties.

Swat operation The COAS said there was no example in history of what the Pakistan military accomplished in the Swat operation and which successfully changed the public opinion. It was the largest heliborne operation.

“So when we send foreign defence chiefs to Swat, we have a story to tell. When I accompanied Admiral Mike Mullen and showed him how we had done the operation, including showing him the gorges there, his response was, “I will send General McChrystal to see this”.

The last visitor was US National Security Advisor James Jones, who heard for himself from educated locals how unpopular the Americans were.

India-centric

Kayani says he did not mince his words when he told Nato that he was India-centric and there was logic behind this. There was no way he could relax on his eastern border to concentrate fully on the west.

“We have unresolved issues, a history of conflict and now the Cold Start doctrine. Help us resolve these issues. We want peaceful co-existence with India. India has the capability and intentions can change overnight,” Kayani had told his audience in Brussels.

Nato is also realising why it is important for Pakistan to help train the Afghan Army because Pakistan could strategically simply not tolerate an Afghan Army trained by the Indians and having an Indian mindset.

Pak-Nato ratio

It is not easy for any commander to count his dead when the killing fields are still alive. But Kayani told Nato how Pakistan in 2009, lost 2,273 soldiers with another 6,512 being wounded.

“Pakistan as one nation lost 2,273 soldiers while US/Nato in the same period lost 1,582. We have 10,000 troops on UN missions,” recalled the COAS. Pakistan has contributed 147,000 troops to its “silent surge” while 43 nations in Afghanistan have sent a mere 100,000.

Pakistan mans 82 posts at the Pak-Afghan border while the coalition and Afghan Army have only 112. “Pakistan’s operations have decreased cross border movements, there is control of areas, squeezing of spaces, and continuous flow of logistic flow,” pointed the COAS. For a man of “few words” when he was DG ISI, today Kayani is saying a lot more. All of which has to be heard loud and clear by the people of Pakistan.

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US behind attacks on Pakistani civilians: Ex-ISI chief


Former ISI chief Asad Durrani says private US contractors such as Xe (formerly known as Blackwater) and other intelligence agents may be behind the assassination of civilians across Pakistan.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV, Durrani said on Friday that the local militants led by Hakimullah Mehsud primarily target the government and military instillations.

Arguing against the local militants involvements in civilian assassinations, Durrani added that the militants consider Islamabad as a close ally of the US in the so-called ‘war on terror’ and that they have been launching retaliatory attacks against the government targets, particularly since the Pakistani army launched a major offensive against their stronghold in South Waziristan.

Durrani said that he doubted the notorious militants groups were behind a recent surge in attacks on civilian targets across the country.

The former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) claimed that certain theories were circulating among Pakistani intellectuals suggesting that the foreign agents or private US contractors could have been orchestrating assassinations on the civilian targets in the nuclear-armed country.

According to Durrani, these attacks were being carried out to encourage Islamabad to be more involved in war against the militants.

Pakistan has experienced a wave of violence over the past two years. Nearly 3,000 people have been killed in bomb attacks and other terrorist operations across the country.

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RAW operates against Pakistan using Mukti Bahni model


India today is trying to blindly follow the policies of her military Guru Chankiya, where she is frantically driving for fulfillment of her eventual trance of Greater India and emergence of a sole regional power of South East Asia. India has long-standing policies and strategies to make and keep Pakistan as a lame duck and now taking advantage of the current situation she wants to destabilize a sole nuke Muslim power. Perception is there that India in collaborations with USA and Israel is imposing pressure and polices on Pakistan. Manomohan Singh is visiting USA now. Thus, Obama if serious in fighting war against terror has to chain his Asian watchdog (India). He should ask Indian Prime Minister to stop interfering in Pakistan’s domestic affairs.

Following the same motive of “Greater India” RAW has gone all out in destabilizing Pakistan. A Multi pronged strategy is executed through planned combination of overt and covert inventiveness thus shifting the battlefield to Pakistan from Afghanistan. RAW is operating both from Afghanistan and Iran to encircle Pakistan.

A major objective of India in Afghanistan is to use Afghanistan as launching pad to attack Pakistanis by sponsoring dissident / militants. It is on record that India has spent immense amounts over the years to make the Northern Alliance into its stooges. There is the Indian strategy of the encirclement of Pakistan by making Afghanistan into a vocal anti-Pakistan client state, with five very active Indian consulates there. Unfortunately the crooked Afghan government has also fallen pray to RAW policies by providing shelter to Brahamdag Bugti and allowing RAW to operate in Balochistan in collaboration with newly established Afghan intelligence agency RAAM (earlier name KHAD). RAW has organized a network of training schools/ Centres throughout Afghanistan. Some of these training centres are operating in Kabul, Jalalabad, Khawaja Ghar (Takhar Province), Khost, Paktia, Urgun, Khandar, Spin Boldak and Dranj (Badakhshan Province).

All these training centres are being used for indoctrinating minds of innocent people of FATA and Balochistan to work against Pakistan. Refugee camps for Balochistan dissidents have been established in bordering towns of Kandahar, Spin, Bodlak, Helmond and Nirmoz where RAW has been given free access to interact for spotting / cultivating them. Raw with the help of local Officials is providing financial support to Brahamdagh Bughti for undertaking terrorist’s activities in Balochistan. Some weeks ago Barahamdag reportedly met Amarullah Saleh and asked for additional money to undertake sabotage activities in Pakistan. He was promised a handsome amount and Commander Raziq Achakzai of Spin Boldak was made instrumental. Funds and explosives have been supplied by a man namely Abdul Sattar. The money is even transferred to such elements in Pakistan through Afghan based militant leaders/”Hawala Business. A number of Afghan officials are facilitating Indian agents in crossing the border. Earlier this year, two border police personnel and one political figure were arrested while crossing the border without documents. Spin Boldak is said to be the main hub of anti-Pakistan activities and the town is being used as a launching pad. RAW-RAAM used to providing weapons via Bajaur, Dir, Pewchar (ex-headquarters for Fazlullah). In order to subvert loyalties of Young Generation, Young Baloch Students are spotted / cultivated through senior Balochistan Student Orginastion (BSO) hardliners, taken to Kabul for indoctrination, issued with Afghan passports and selected individuals then dispatched to training centres in various countries.

According to resources, financial assistance is provided by RAW for publication of propaganda material against Pakistan in Balochi Language, which is later distributed in Quetta, Khuzdar, Turbat, Gawader and Dera Bugti.

In this context, Premier Gillani handed over these proofs to his Indian counterpart in Sharm el-Sheikh and provided pictures of Brahamdag and other terrorists showing them meeting with Indian agents in Afghanistan as well as in India. This was the proof of Indian involvement in recruiting, training, financing and arming terrorists being infiltrated into Pakistan.

It is worth mentioning here that Indians are also operating in Iran through their embassy at Tehran and two consulates at Zahidan and Bandar Abbas. The interesting point to note is the establishment of Indian consulate at Zahidan where Indian population is limited to only few houses (21 x Sikh families).Obviously it is the proximity of Zahidan to Pak-Iran border that is of interest to the Indians. The consulate is a special RAW outpost and is always headed by a RAW officer and is operating freely against Pakistan. RAW is using every possible means to gain her objectives by exploiting Pakistan- Iran border population ethnic, cultural and sectarian bond.

Indian propaganda which has a connected strategy of stating, again and again, that Pakistan is a terrorist state and needs to be rebuked by USA rather than promoting it . India’s clients in Afghanistan and some in Pakistan, USA and elsewhere also echo these “sentiments”. Moreover, New Delhi while staying all along eastern and western border is almost controlling the terror activities in Pakistan. New Delhi must realize this fact that there are a lot of ethnic, linguistic, religious and territorial separatist movements inside India, instead of destabilizing her neighbouring countries. She must focus her attention in resolving her internal turbulence. By terrorizing the neighboring country neither she can hide her weakness nor can she gain any advantages. So my advice to Indian’s top brass is to refrain from using terrorism as a state tool and come on the table and work for establishing permanent regional peace. Obama must convince Manomohan Singh to stop Indian terrorism in Pakistan. it is the only way that the world can be successful in war against terrorism.

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The US military is exhausted


Sarah Lazare

The call for over 30,000 more troops to be sent to Afghanistan is a travesty for the people of that country who have already suffered eight brutal years of occupation.

It is also a harsh blow to the US soldiers facing imminent deployment.

As Barack Obama, the US president, gears up for a further escalation that will bring the total number of troops in Afghanistan to over 100,000, he faces a military force that has been exhausted and overextended by fighting two wars.

Many from within the ranks are openly declaring that they have had enough, allying with anti-war veterans and activists in calling for an end to the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with some active duty soldiers publicly refusing to deploy.

This growing movement of military refusers is a voice of sanity in a country slipping deeper into unending war.

The architects of this war would be well-advised to listen to the concerns of the soldiers and veterans tasked with carrying out their war policies on the ground.

Many of those being deployed have already faced multiple deployments to combat zones: the 101st Airborne Division, which will be deployed to Afghanistan in early 2010, faces its fifth combat tour since 2002.

“They are just going to start moving the soldiers who already served in Iraq to Afghanistan, just like they shifted me from one war to the next,” said Eddie Falcon, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Soldiers are going to start coming back with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), missing limbs, problems with alcohol, and depression.”

Many of these troops are still suffering the mental and physical fallout from previous deployments.

Rates of PTSD and traumatic brain injury among troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have been disproportionately high, with a third of returning troops reporting mental problems and 18.5 per cent of all returning service members battling either PTSD or depression, according to a study by the Rand Corporation.

Marine suicides doubled between 2006 and 2007, and army suicides are at the highest rate since records were kept in 1980.

Resistance in the ranks

US army soldiers are refusing to serve at the highest rate since 1980, with an 80 per cent increase in desertions since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the Associated Press.

These troops refuse deployment for a variety of reasons: some because they ethically oppose the wars, some because they have had a negative experience with the military, and some because they cannot psychologically survive another deployment, having fallen victim to what has been termed “Broken Joe” syndrome.

Over 150 GIs have publicly refused service and spoken out against the wars, all risking prison and some serving long sentences, and an estimated 250 US war resisters are currently taking refuge in Canada.

This resistance includes two Fort Hood, Texas, soldiers, Victor Agosto and Travis Bishop, who publicly resisted deployment to Afghanistan this year, facing prison sentences as a result, with Bishop still currently detained.

“There is no way I will deploy to Afghanistan,” wrote Agosto, upon refusing his service last May. “The occupation is immoral and unjust.”

Within the US military, GI resisters and anti-war veterans have organised through broad networks of veteran and civilian alliances, as well as through IVAW, comprised of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

This organisation, which is over 1,700 strong, with members across the world, including active-duty members on military bases, is opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and openly supports GI resistance.

“Iraq Veterans Against the War calls on Obama to end the war in Afghanistan (and Iraq) by withdrawing troops immediately and unconditionally,” wrote Jose Vasquez, the executive director of IVAW, in a December 2 open letter.

“It’s not time for our brothers and sisters in arms to go to Afghanistan. It’s time for them to come home.”

No clear progress

GI coffee houses have sprung up at several military bases around the country. In the tradition of the GI coffee houses of the Vietnam war era, these cafes provide a space where active duty troops can speak freely and access resources about military refusal, PTSD, and veteran and GI movements against the war.

“Here at Fort Lewis, we’ve lost 20 soldiers from the most recent round of deployments,” said Seth Menzel, an Iraq combat veteran and founding organiser of Coffee Strong, a GI coffee house at the sprawling Washington army base.

“We’ve seen resistance to deployment, mainly based on the fact that soldiers have been deployed so many times they don’t have the patience to do it again.”

As the occupation of Afghanistan passes its eighth year, with no clear progress, goals that remain elusive, and a high civilian death count, this war is coming to resemble the Iraq war that has been roundly condemned by world and US public opinion.

The never-ending nature of this conflict belies the real project of establishing US dominance in the Middle East and control of the region’s resources, at the expense of the Afghan civilians and US soldiers being placed in harm’s way.

The voices of refusal coming from within the US military send a powerful message that soldiers will not be fodder for an unjust and unnecessary war. By withdrawing their labour from a war that depends on their consent, these soldiers have the power to help bring this war to an end, as did their predecessors in the GI resistance movement against the Vietnam war.

And the longer the war in Afghanistan drags on – the more lives that are lost and destroyed – the more resistance we will see coming from within the ranks.

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Americans To Land Only In Islamabad


By: Zulqarnain Haider
THE NATION

ISLAMABAD – Now Americans can land only on Benazir Bhutto Shaheed International Airport, Islamabad, as Government has banned other airports of the country for them. A reliable source informed TheNation that unusual activities of Americans in Pakistan have forced the Government to take this decision and the arrest of five US nationals from Sargodha also played a key role in it.

Intelligence agencies have been reporting about increasing anger and agony against Americans among the general public, as the US nationals don’t abide by the laws. On many occasions, US nationals publicly didn’t abide the law of the state, as four times in Lahore and six times in Islamabad they were stopped on various police checkpoints and illegal weapons were recovered from them, but still they were allowed to move freely. This raised many questions about the integrity of Pakistan, and political parties, civil society and media were openly protesting against this discrimination.

Again five arrested Americans during interrogations have revealed important information that is against Pakistan’s integrity and this was the main reason of this decision, the source disclosed.

Now Americans can land only on Benazir Bhutto Shaheed International Airport, Islamabad, and they will have to complete the whole immigration process and only ten they would be allowed to stay here.

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Slap to India – Arms sale to Pak justified as India buys from US: Chinese official


BEIJING: A senior Chinese defense official has justified Beijing’s sale of warships and submarines to Pakistan on the ground that India was buying similar systems from Russia and the United States. He indicated that China was conscious India might be worried about the sales.

“The initiative may invite concerns from its neighboring countries. But the doubts are unnecessary,” Zhai Dequan, deputy director of China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, was quoted as saying in the official media.

The statement came in the midst of efforts by Norman Bashir, chief of Pakistan’s
naval staff, to persuade Beijing to sell higher capacity ships as compared to the F22P frigates that China begun delivering last June.

Zhai said Pakistan’s desire for high capacity systems is normal for an independent nation seeking to bolster its security. India has also entered into large deals for military hardware from the US and Russia, he said.

“India’s aircraft carrier has already cost it billions of US dollars,” Zhai said.

Bashir, who met Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie on Friday, said Pakistan was keen on buying bigger ships and more JF-17 fighter planes from China apart from the submarines. Pakistan will buy more weapons including missiles from China in future, he said.

“The F22P frigate is about 3,000 tons, and now we are talking about 4,000-ton ships. These are very big projects and we think the cooperation is important for both countries, especially Pakistan,” he said.

Pakistan booked four F22P frigates from China in 2005 and the first one began sea trials last year. Islamabad followed it up with another order of four more ships of same kind in 2007, the Chinese media said.

Bashir showered fulsome praise on Chinese warships saying they use the latest technology, and have the all-round capability to target surface ships, aircraft and submarine.

“The F22P frigate can be deployed to complete multitasks. The ship is balanced for offense and defense, and can be used in both peace and war time, if there is a war,” he said. This is his third visit to China this year.

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Indian army’s biggest enemy – stress


Pankaj Jha, a medium-level officer in the Indian army, shot himself with a service revolver earlier this month. He was 38.

As per a BBC report there are on average 150 suicides per year in Indian Army


Nobody quite knows why Lt Col Jha pulled the trigger on himself – he had been serving in the military for the past 14 years. According to his mother, Lalita Jha, “there was no tension, no problems. I just can’t understand why he did it”.

He is far from the only soldier to take his own life this year – Capt Sunit Kohli, Maj Sobha Rani, Lt Sushmita Chatterjee… the list goes on.

In fact, the Indian army is losing more soldiers in these incidents than in action against the enemy.

The army has lost 72 soldiers to enemy attacks so far this year. But over 100 soldiers have already taken their lives. In addition, another 32 have been killed by their colleagues.

What is happening to the army?

The million-strong force is clearly under tremendous stress.

Though it has not fought a full-blown war in decades, the force is bogged down in fighting domestic insurgencies, guarding restive borders and sometimes quelling civilian rioting.

Most experts attribute the growing stress to low morale, bad service conditions, lack of adequate home leave, unattractive pay and a communication gap with superiors.

Retired Maj Gen Afsar Karim, who has fought three wars, says that the stress may be high among soldiers because of lack of leave.

“The army is involved in a [difficult] long running internal security environment. There is lack of rest and they get very little leave. Lack of leave increases his stress,” he says.

“Soldiers get angry when they are denied leave and their officers themselves take time off. It triggers a reaction, they are well armed and they take their own lives.”

Then there is the question of what many say is low pay – starting salaries in many jobs in middle-class India are double that of a new soldier, and for many of them the army no longer holds out the promise of a good life.

Retired Maj Gen Karim suspects that with the increase in numbers of soldiers, cohesiveness is being eroded.

“In our times, we used to know the names of our soldiers, where they came from. We used to meet their families, but now the army has expanded manifold and this cohesiveness is gone,” he says.

Frayed nerves

The army says it is worried about this disconcerting trend.

Spokesman Col SK Sakhuja says soldiers kill each other when one of them perceives that they are being harassed by superiors or when they have heated arguments among themselves.

”We have strengthened formal and informal interaction between soldiers and officers. Leave policy, especially for soldiers posted in difficult areas, has been liberalised so that a soldier can go home to sort out his domestic problems,” he says.

“Also, counselling by officers, psychiatrics and religious teachers is being undertaken.”

Delhi-based psychiatrist Achal Bhagat says a combination of stress and high alcohol consumption could lead to frayed nerves.
What is needed is confidential counselling, creating a support system for the soldiers working in adverse conditions,” he says.

The army is confident that this is a “testing time” for the force and it will pass.

“Our foundations are strong,” says Col Sakhuja.

The problem is that there is not enough clarity still on what precisely is causing these soldier deaths.

Lalita Jha, mother of Pankaj Jha, hopes that she will find out more about her son’s suicide.

“I am sure the army will look into the matter and find out what happened,” she says.

Before more soldiers take their lives, one hopes.

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