Zardari says will liberate Kashmir from India


MUZAFFARABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday vowed to continue struggle for Kashmiris in getting their right of self-determination, saying that Kashmir will also be liberated from Indian occupation as the Pakistan was once achieved, reported ARY NEWS.

“Its my obligation to let the Kashmiris get their right of self determination so that they could decide their future themselves,” the President said in his address to joint session of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and the Kashmir Council.

“Kashmir belongs to Pakistan. And my father came to Kashmir and fought for the independence of the valley from Indian occupation,” Zardari told the legislators and other dignitaries attended the special session of the assembly.

Zardari claimed that the democratic government of Pakistan has negotiated with India on equal basis to get a consensus on resolution of Kashmir dispute.

At the occasion, President also announced the establishment of a medical college, an engineering college and a technical education institute in AJK valley.

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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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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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Obama must address Pakistan’s concerns: Top experts


WASHINGTON, Dec 21 (APP): President Barack Obama must complement his Afghan security strategy with political plan and address Pakistan’s concerns, particularly vis-a-vis India, both in the immediate and the post-US troop pullout perspectives, top experts said discussing imperatives of an effective way forward.Sharing their evaluation of the new U.S. plan with the Council on Foreign Relations, analysts also cautioned against any unilateral moves that may spell further difficulties for Islamabad as it grapples with consequences of the eight-year old Afghan war.

Under the revamped strategy Obama unveiled early this month, Afghanistan will see a surge of 30,000 American and 7000 NATO troops in the coming months to contain Taliban insurgency and al-Qaeda threat. The summer of 2011 has been set as the milestone when the international forces will start handing over control to Afghan forces and begin the process of withdrawal.

Maleeha Lodhi, current scholar at Woodrow Wilson Center and former ambassador to the United States, observed that reliance on military means in Obama’s plan is accompanied by near silence on a political strategy.

“This assumes that a military solution can be successfully applied to Afghanistan, without addressing the political causes of the growing insurgency, especially Pashtun alienation.

“Military escalation in Afghanistan and the expansion of aerial strikes in Pakistan is dangerous for Pakistan, which is already confronted with mounting security challenges, a consequence, not a cause, of the insurgency in Afghanistan,” Dr Lodhi said.

She was referring to a wave of retaliatory bombings Pakistan is facing in the wake of its two major anti-militant operations in tribal areas this year. Obama has offered Pakistan economic and strategic partnership but wants Islamabad to spread anti-militant campaign to North Waziristan tribal area along the Afghan border.

In her remarks, Lodhi also feared a spillover effect of the Afghan escalation on Pakistan as militants and refugees could escape into Pakistan from across the porous border.

For their part, senior Obama Administration have visited Pakistan in recent weeks and pledged coordination in operations along the Afghan border to stem the possibility of Taliban and al-Qaeda flow into Pakistani tribal areas.

But so far, little has been pledged publicly about addressing Pakistan’s security concerns with regard to Indian role on the Afghan soil, particulalry in the post-U.S. Afghanistan. Pakistan says India

stokes violence in its southwestern Balochistan province from across the Afghan border. Experts also point to Pakistani fears that New Delhi seeks to encircle Pakistan by advancing its agenda from the Afghan soil.

“President Obama has described the partnership with Pakistan as being “inextricably linked” to success in Afghanistan. Unless this critical partner’s doubts and concerns about the new plan are allayed and Washington is prepared to modify its strategy accordingly, the relationship will only run into more problems,” Dr Lodhi cautioned.

Ahmed Rashid, a noted author and journalist stressed that “the United States needs to articulate a political strategy that draws India and Pakistan in with its plans and, despite Indian objections, puts pressure on New Delhi to be more accommodating toward Pakistan.”

At the same time, the United States should bolster support for the elected government in Pakistan, he added.

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a leading political analyst, remarked that “Pakistan’s concern pertains to the situation the day after the United States quits Afghanistan, perhaps the region.”

“If Afghanistan’s internal situation remains perturbed, should Pakistan seek friends from among the competing players in and around Afghanistan?” he questioned.

Islamabad, he said, will also be monitoring closely the U.S. efforts for building up governance capacity of the Kabul government and the enhancement of professional capacity of the Afghanistan National Army and the police. This also calls for overcoming sharp ethnic imbalance in the Afghan army, especially in the higher echelons, he noted.

Shuja Nawaz, Director South Asian at Washington’s Atlantic Council, opined that Pakistan could play a key role in helping fracture the Afghan Taliban alliance by persuading the Haqqani group to join the government in Kabul or send surrogates instead. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has already been reported willing to strike a deal with Karzai. That would isolate Mullah Omar and make it harder for him to go it alone against the allies, Nawaz argued.

“Today, the allies need to build the willing support of Pakistan and other regional players to help Afghanistan stand on its own feet. If they do not complete the job they began in Afghanistan, the world will be left less safe than it was when they went into the region in 2001.

“Hasan Abbas, scholar and fellow at Asia Society, also noted concerns arising out of a plan sans political strategy.

Pakistan, he said, was expecting a deal that includes guarantees that India’s security-related role in Afghanistan will be reduced.

“Unless there is some behind-the- scene understanding on this count, Pakistan may not be able to live up to Obama’s expectations. Ideally, India and Pakistan should join hands to stabilize Afghanistan, but someone needs to facilitate that kind of an arrangement. Obama has the stature, potential, and vision to play that role.”

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US faces harsh reality with Islamabad


Anne Gearan

Analysis: Hard reality as U.S. pushes Pakistan. Washington’s diplomatic dance with Islamabad has limits in terror fight.

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan will not go as far as Washington wants, and there’s nothing the U.S. can do about it: That’s the sobering reality as the U.S. tries to persuade a hesitant Pakistan to finish off the fight against terrorists.

Expand the current assault against the Taliban? Pakistan has made clear that will happen only on its own terms. U.S. officials acknowledge that so far they haven’t won the argument that militants who target America are enemies of Pakistan, too.

The U.S. has offered Pakistan $7.5 billion in military aid and broader cooperation with the armed forces. The assistance is intended to help Pakistan speed up its fight not only against internal militants, but also against al-Qaida and Taliban leaders hiding near the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistanis are deeply suspicious of America’s power and motives, making it difficult for their leaders to accede to Washington’s pressure in public, lest they look like U.S. puppets.

U.S. officials say that while Pakistani officials cooperate more in private, there are definite limits. The U.S. wanted Pakistan to move forces deeper into the tribal belt before winter. It didn’t happen, and might not at all.

A senior U.S. diplomat hinted at a separate agreement that would allow the U.S. itself to take on some of the hidden war against Pakistan’s militants.

Threat to U.S. forces:

Speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive talks with Pakistan, the diplomat said last week that more U.S. action is expected against the Haqqani network, led by longtime resistance fighter and former U.S. ally Jalaluddin Haqqani. His network, based in the Waziristan tribal area in northwest Pakistan, reportedly has strong ties with al-Qaida and targets U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan from across the border.

The diplomat said the stepped-up U.S. action would come with Pakistani support, but would not elaborate on the potential cooperation.

Pakistani officials claim they have targeted the Haqqani leadership, albeit unsuccessfully, and will go after the network when the time is right. Some U.S. officials believe that, others don’t.

Military officials say the Haqqani problem illustrates how the United States sometimes needs Pakistan more than the other way around.

The U.S. military now counts the Haqqani network as the single gravest threat to U.S. forces fighting over the border in Afghanistan, and badly wants Pakistan to push the militants from their border refuges. But the Pakistani answer seems to be that unless and until the Haqqanis threaten Pakistan, they won’t be a priority.

Time, patience:

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the latest U.S. official to make the case in a visit to Pakistan’s capital last week.

More than most U.S. officials, Mullen has cordial, long-standing relationships with Pakistan’s generals, the strongest power base inside the country. Despite those ties, Mullen’s quiet effort met with a polite noncommittal from his hosts.

Mullen advises patience and humility in dealing with Pakistan, a view not shared by some leading Republicans in Congress. Mullen said Pakistan doesn’t get enough credit for the push since spring against militants in the Swat valley and South Waziristan.

“Too many people eagerly and easily criticize Pakistan for what they have not done,” Mullen said Sunday, days after Pakistan’s military leaders took Mullen on a tour of a reclaimed Swat.

“When I go to Swat, and look at what they did there on the military I think it’s pretty extraordinary.”

Most of the groups aligned against the U.S. are in North Waziristan, a tribal area not pressed hard by Pakistan’s army. The only firepower directed at militants there comes from American missile-loaded drones.

Mullen told students at Pakistan’s National Defense University that the U.S. is concerned about what it sees as a growing coordination among terrorist networks in and around Pakistan.

“I do not, certainly, claim that they are great friends, but they are collaborating in ways that quite frankly, scare me quite a bit,” Mullen said last week.

He did not come out and say Pakistan needs to expand the fight against militants. But his point was clear.

Sensitive ground:

In an exchange of letters over recent weeks, Obama asked for more cooperation and Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, pledged some additional help, U.S. officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private correspondence.

Zardari, reflecting the views of Pakistan’s powerful military, said his government will move against militants that attack U.S. forces when it is able to do so, the officials said.

That leaves ample room for Pakistan’s civilian leaders to pursue their own agenda — and on their own schedule.

Without additional pressure from inside Pakistan, the only other option is for the U.S. to finish the fight against terrorists on its own. But Pakistan doesn’t allow outright U.S. military action on its soil.

Mullen seemed to recognize that when he told the military students that he knows the U.S. is perceived as acting in its own interests almost at any cost, so it can hardly ask others not to put their own needs first.

“Sometimes that gets lost on us,” he said.

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Bureaucracy stalls $800m hydel project


By Khaleeq Kiani

ISLAMABAD: Amid a controversy over expensive rental power projects, a $800 million foreign investment for cheap hydroelectric power generation is unlikely to materialise mainly because of bureaucratic wrangling, despite full support extended by federal and Azad Kashmir governments.

This comes at a time when the federal government is finding it difficult to lure foreign investment to meet growing energy shortfalls and is approaching world capitals to secure supplies of oil, natural gas and liquefied gas for power generation at much higher prices, involving massive outflow of foreign exchange. Background interviews and official documents available with Dawn suggest that after pursuing the 500-MW Mahl power project at home and abroad for almost four years now, the process ‘has been stopped altogether.’

The sources said Korea’s leading public sector investors, after having paid relevant government fees and other expenses, were literally running from federal to AJK governments through direct and diplomatic channels seeking permission to proceed with the construction of 500-MW Mahl Hydropower project for which they had been selected by the government through international competitive bidding. The main hurdle, the sources said, was that a senior official of the federal government, who would be reaching retirement age soon, wanted the $800 million project on the River Jhelum in Azad Kashmir to be developed in the public sector so he could become the project director.

Informed sources said that senior bureaucrats were clearly changing their goal posts and have now informed the Korean investors that the government had failed to finalise relevant procedures under the power policy announced in 2002 and under which they had called international bids and made selections.

The sources said a ceremony for the signing of a memorandum of understanding to allow Kapco, Kompico and Sambu Construction of Korea was cancelled at the eleventh hour, although the chairman of the Board of Investment, the ministry of finance and the prime minister of Azad Kashmir had given their consent. AJK chief secretary Khalid Sultan said: ‘I cannot say anything about the project because there is nothing that could be talked about.’ When asked why was the project being stopped at an advanced stage, he said that some people with vested interest were responsible; misleading (the media) about the project. ‘You better bring them to my office.’

Secretary electricity Azad Kashmir Iqbal Mohiuddin, however, confirmed in writing that the project had been advertised for development under power generation policy of 2002 and six firms, including Korean firms, had been registered.

However, since the approved mechanism for development of hydropower projects under public-private partnership was not available, the project could not be processed further, although the AJK government had instructed to ‘proceed further for the development of the project’ through the assistance of the federal finance ministry. Interestingly, BoI chairman Saleem Mandviwala, briefed the Azad Kashmir prime minister at a meeting that no dam could be constructed in the country despite investment interests shown by many foreign companies, especially by the Koreans.

In the meeting, chairman Wapda told the participants that ‘if companies like Sambu/Kompico are interested to develop and invest in this project on built, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) basis, Wapda has no objection whatsoever and would rather facilitate them in the light of the Energy Policy.’

Documents suggest that before the signing of an MoU, the AJK prime minister and his technical team and chairman of the Board of Investment visited South Korea for on-ground inspection of the facilities of Kapco, Kompico and Sambu which were producing 84,000 megawatts of hydro, nuclear and thermal electricity.
Subsequently, the Pakistan embassy in Seoul arranged an MoU signing ceremony.

In a communication to the government, representatives of the Korean companies claimed that it had been jointly decided that AJK chief secretary would represent the AJK government at the signing ceremony. But he regretted at the eleventh hour to attend the ceremony that ‘was embarrassing for the chairman BoI and Pakistan’s ambassador in Korea to decline to sign the MoU.’

The AJK electricity secretary said the project had been taken up again before the Hydro Electricity Board (HEB) and it was decided that the project would be developed in collaboration with Wapda and hence it could not be allotted to any investor without completion of procedures laid down in the 2002 policy, although the bids had been invited under the same policy.

‘On the other hand, this project could be implemented in private sector through Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) under the 2002 policy.’

The sources said the Korean companies had written protest letters to the ministry of foreign affairs, the AJK prime minister and other relevant forums and asked for independent investigations into the issue to protect relations between the two countries.

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ISI clearance mandatory for visit to Pak, foreigners told


ISLAMABAD – In a major policy decision, the government has made it mandatory for the Pakistani missions abroad to issue visas to foreigners intending to visit Pakistan only after their clearance from the country’s top intelligence agency ISI.

Well-placed government sources told The Nation on Friday that the move had come after thorough deliberations and in view of the security situation in the country. Sources privy to these developments maintained that the decision had been taken after reports of undesired activities of some foreigners especially, the Americans and foreign journalists.

According to the informed sources, the intelligence agencies have taken serious notice of the objectionable activities of some foreign journalists in Gilgit-Baltistan during the recent elections.

Sources said that under the new guidelines, the foreigners intending to visit Pakistan will have to give the purpose of their visit and duration of their stay with an NOC so as to hold them accountable.

Sources further said that those whose visas had expired and needed short duration visa would have to go back to their respective countries in line with the new guidelines.

Pakistani origin nationals from various western countries including the US would, however, go through the same Code of Conduct/procedure for their visas.