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Kashmir and the Afghan withdrawal

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By Abdul Majid Zargar

In-spite of a massive force build-up and despite adoption of ” Shock & awe” theory and thousands of Drone attacks backed up by latest technology, a defeat stares in the face of America in Afghanistan. Its troop withdrawal plan by the end of 2014 is an organized retreat, if not a total surrender.

And this defeat has not made appearance out of thin air. Washington has known for years that it had no hope of destroying the Taliban, and that it would have to settle for compromise and a political solution with an indigenous insurgency that remains sufficiently popular to have survived the longest U.S. military occupation in history. It was also predicted by think tanks & defense experts alike long ago. A 2010 Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), report on Afghanistan predicted:”We have not yet achieved any meaningful form of positive strategic result from over nine years of war in Afghanistan and the conflict may end in a major grand strategic defeat.” Before dying, Richard Holbrooke admitted it, saying “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.” His signal was clear & unambiguous .It is another thing that Washington Post reinterpreted it, saying:”Holbrooke’s death is the latest complication in an effort plagued by unreliable partners, reluctant allies and an increasingly skeptical American public.”In 2012, a New York Times editorial wrote that the U.S. military has had to give up on hopes of inflicting enough pain on the Taliban to set favorable terms for a political settlement. Instead, it will be left up to the Afghan combatants to find their own political solution once the U.S. and its allies take themselves out of the fight.

War has its own vocabulary & dictionary. While its start heralds a destruction, its ends sprouts a hope. Hope not only for people who have been direct victims of war but also for region as a whole. It also emits signals which are taken as precedents for adoption by parties- to- conflict in a near or distant land. And America’s imminent defeat in Afghanistan is already emitting powerful signals that only a Gun can be answer to enforce a decision or solution, how-so-ever powerful the other party might be. It has rekindled a new hope among those propagating armed struggle in Kashmir as the only viable way to solve the long festering problem of Kashmir.

Kashmir is a geopolitical Gordian knot, interwoven by Indian and Pakistani intransigence .The real reason for the Indian State’s obsession with Kashmir is that ‘losing Kashmir’ (whatever that means) will make the Indian state look ‘weak’. For Pakistan the misconception is that Kashmir is its jugular vein ( again whatever that means). Both these narratives are devoid of genuine aspirations of people of J&K. Even after acquiring huge stockpile of nuclear arms both countries are distrustful & fearful of each other.

Kashmir is the longest standing dispute recognized by United Nations & International community. It is the highest militarized zone on earth and according to a fresh entry in the Guinness book of world records, nearly a million of soldiers are continuously staring at each other in a territory which is flanked by three nuclear armed countries. And supposedly the professional armies of both the countries have ceded space to communal & extremist elements within their ranks.

It is a drain on the hopes for prosperity, peace and freedom for people throughout the subcontinent, and the world. There is no moving toward peaceful coexistence between the two countries, no stabilization of the region, no possibility for global nuclear disarmament. This conflict has made a vast majority of population hostages in their own land and a tiny minority refugees in their own State. This conflict of last sixty years has brought so much of death & destruction to countless families that another sixty six years will be insufficient to heal their wounds. One fails to understand What exactly is their fault? Is it that they were born on the wrong side of the globe?

Let India & Pakistan start negotiations not out of fear but let they also not fear to negotiate. And before the signals emanating out of Afghanistan are translated into action by extreme elements, which only means further death & destruction, let those be pre-empted by both Countries finding a lasting solution to the problem by taking genuine representatives of Jammu &Kashmir on board and sooner this happens, the better it is.

Author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Email:

Karachi calling

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Urban violence has become a permanent affliction in Karachi. Anyone explaining the roots of this violence to you would say ‘it’s complicated’ – and that is indeed an accurate summary of the bloodshed that erupts across the city in random spurts. The plague of violence in Pakistan’s biggest city and commercial hub is multifaceted. From ethnic strife to gang wars to politically motivated crimes to just petty theft – Karachi has it all. Where does it start? And more importantly, where would it end?

This is strange because less merely 25 years, Karachi was the land of opportunity in Pakistan. Once the capital of the country, this economic hub bustled with life and activity with little thought spared to the horrors awaiting citizens a few years down the road. Fast forward to 2012, Karachi faces (in the words of Bilal Baloch) feeble security, over-population, poor public transportation and housing, weak law and order, abuse of public services by the wealthy and powerful, illegal land-grabbing and squatter settlements, pollution so pervasive that it contaminates food and water for all, ethnic divisions, sectarian divisions, meager education; in short, institutional inadequacies on a grand scale. At the same time, it is this city that allows unbridled port access to NATO, fishermen and businessmen. The city has seen the likes of Alexander the Great, Sir Charles Napier, Muhammad Bin Qasim, poets, authors, bloggers and artists. The City of Lights continues to function under such paradoxical circumstances, with violent bloodshed in one corner of the city and celebrations in another.

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India’s Mythical Beliefs……

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By Brig Asif Haroon Raja

Indians believe a lot in myth making. They derive pleasure in pretending what they are not. Governed by the yearning desire to be called a big power, they have been making strenuous efforts to fulfill their dream. After achieving a so-called military victory in former East Pakistan in 1971 with the help of former Soviet Union and Mukti Bahini, the Indians started imagining that India had become mini-super power of South Asia. To put a stamp on self-perceived status, it conducted nuclear test in 1974 but got dismayed when it found Pakistan not getting over awed.

While India never reconciled to Pakistan’s existence and vied to re-absorb it within Indian union, Pakistan’s defiance and refusal to accept India as a regional policeman further antagonized Indian leaders. In sheer disgust India judged Pakistan as the main stumbling block in its drive towards attaining its ambitions. Armed freedom struggle by few thousand Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir against 750,000 Indian troops became a cause of degradation and embarrassment for India.

Once India came close to USA after 1990, it kept on playing upon US-western sensitivities concerning Islamic fundamentalism, cross border terrorism and Islamic bomb so as to keep Pakistan in their bad books. Nuclear tests by Pakistan threw cold water on its sinister designs. After suffering humiliation in the battle of Kargil in 1999, Indian leaders burnt with impotent rage and yearned to teach Pakistan a lesson. After 9/11 their joys knew no bounds since the new rules framed by USA to tackle terrorism suited them the most. They found the farce of terrorism a perfect stranglehold to entrap Pakistan and macerate it.

However, its first attempt to browbeat Pakistan into submission through 2002 military standoff backfired. It had cost Indian exchequer over $2 billion and nearly 800 fatalities without any side firing a single shot. Indian military kept posturing belligerently from January till October 2002 but seeing equally aggressive response of the other side, it couldn’t pick up courage to cross the border. The thought of nuclear exchange was too scary despite the fact that it enjoyed 5:1 conventional superiority and also had three times more nukes in stock. Ultimately Indian forces had to sheepishly withdraw thereby giving Pakistan, ten times smaller in size and resources moral and psychological ascendancy over India. It was too frustrating for Indian leaders claiming to be strongest military power of South Asia and an economic power house to have been humbled by a peripheral state.

The fiasco made Indian military realize that given Pakistan’s nuclear capability and will to fight, conventional war was ruled out as a viable option. Earlier on, it could not browbeat Pakistan in 1986-87 through its Exercise Brass-tacks or its 1990 offensive deployment in Kashmir. In all the previous wars and offensive military standoffs, 19-20 days taken to mobilize the combat troops from peacetime stations to forward deployment areas had allowed Pakistan sufficient reaction time to assemble and move forward its troops to meet the challenge. Hence another way out had to be found.

Taking a leaf out of their Guru Kautilya’s book, the Indian planners reread his guidelines which had been successfully employed after the inconclusive 1965 Indo-Pak war to subvert former East Pakistan. Indo-US-Israeli think tank got together in late 2002 and scratched their heads how to ensnare Pakistan. A way had to be found out how to floor Pakistan without letting it brandish its nukes in defence.

It was decided that India will lure Pakistan into a web of friendship, weaken it from within through cultural invasion from the east and covert operations from Afghan soil. Intelligence agencies of USA, Israel, UK, Germany and Afghanistan were to assist RAW. India was to apply the military instrument only after making Pakistan morally, politically, economically and militarily sufficiently weak and extracting its nuclear teeth.

It was in the context of Pakistan’s nuclear capability and Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine envisaging first strike option in any future Indo-Pak war whenever its threshold was threatened which perplexed the planners. All agreed to defame and demonize Pakistan’s nuclear program through an orchestrated propaganda war and to work out number of contingency plans how to disable or steal the nukes.

During the course of heated discussions, some wise guy came up with a bright idea that if Pakistan’s nuclear response rested on the basis of its core areas getting threatened or overrun, why not to tailor the offensive in a manner that invading forces remain well away from the core areas and to confine the war to battle of frontiers thereby giving no justification to Pakistan to exercise its nuclear option.

Scanning the map of Pakistan, it was pointed out by Indian planners that there were several tactical objectives of politico-economic significance strung along the border. In their reckoning there were 8-15 such objectives available. To offset the problem of prolonged mobilization time and to retain vital element of surprise, someone suggested pre-positioning brigade size mechanized battle groups backed by dedicated artillery and air support close to the border. They brainstormed that Pakistan lacking in strategic depth could ill afford to lose any space and as such would respond with full force to retake the lost objectives. It was perceived that tactical and operational reserves of Pak Army in all likelihood would get consumed and its strategic reserves would get poised towards most threatened penetration. With bulk of Pak Army getting embroiled in battle of frontiers and up to three corps stuck up in war on terror, it would allow Indian Army to launch its main maneuver if required towards deeper objectives.

That is how Cold Start doctrine was conceived; work on the new doctrine commenced in real earnest and the first draft was ready in 2004. It envisaged cutting down mobilization period from 19 days to 72 hours by pre-positioning 8-15 self-sufficient battle groups of two armored regiments and one mechanized infantry regiment or vice versa close to the border and each group assigned shallow objectives of tactical importance. By end 2008 it was polished up and was ready for use. Point of nuclear overhang as mentioned by Gen Kapoor figured out since the doctrine envisaged giving control of tactical nuclear weapons to the operational commander in the field so as to be able to clear any opposition putting up stubborn resistance.

With the passage of time as the misfortunes of Pakistan’s multiplied because of covert operations jointly launched by six intelligence agencies from Afghanistan, it pleased India immensely and it animatedly imagined that Pakistan’s fragmentation was round the corner. Indian leaders got so euphoric and megalomaniac that they began imagining India to be next to USA in the world ranking. Already living in the world of fantasy and strongly believing in myths and notions, they started humming tunes of ‘India shining’ and ‘India an economic powerhouse’.

India was well set to put Cold Start doctrine into practice by end 2008/beginning 2009 since in its view the situation had become ripe to strike the internally enfeebled foe militarily. By then, covert war by anti-Pakistan intelligence agencies had done extensive damage. Over 100,000 troops had got irretrievably involved in fighting the militants in the northwest and Pak Army’s image had sunk low. Mumbai attacks were stage-managed to put Pakistan in the dock and to give an excuse to Indian strike formations to move forward. Forceful response by Pak armed forces, speedy pullout of formations from northwest to eastern border to restore defensive balance, enthusiastic support given by the nation to the forces and above all Pakistani Taliban’s announcement that they would fight the aggressors shoulder to shoulder with the Army and that they would send its suicide bombers into India deflated the jingoism of Indian military under Kapoor. Like in 2002, its second standoff also ended in humiliating withdrawal.

The plot makers held an emergent meeting and it was decided to further intensify propaganda war to build up a perception that Pakistan had become the most dangerous place on earth and its nukes were unsafe and posed a threat to world safety. It was also decided to step up acts of terror in all major cities of Pakistan through their agents and paid terrorists, and to force Pakistan to launch military operation against militant’s strongest positions in Bajaur, Swat and in South Waziristan. Pakistan specific Af-Pak policy was framed to convert Pak-Afghan border into a single battleground. While India was to mount relentless pressure on Pakistan by blaming that it was involved in Mumbai attacks, the US-NATO from the other end was to adopt an aggressive posture by insisting that it intended to operate inside FATA. Drone attacks against suspected targets in Waziristan were also to be accelerated. It was hoped that multiple actions would create conducive conditions for Indian military to launch the limited war by close of 2009.

Gen Kapoor living in the world of fantasy kept the temperature high by threatening to launch a limited attack under nuclear overhang. Without being provoked, he got so worked up that he made the whole world giggle when he boasted that his Army could bulldoze its way through the combined armies of China and Pakistan. One wonders, what’s stopping him from bailing out US-NATO in great distress by making minced meat of dreaded Taliban. His battle groups deployed in isolation along the border got tired of idling and started doubting the wisdom of impractical and mythical Cold Start doctrine which didn’t make any sense. They dread the call for a sudden plunge into the mouths of hungry sharks lying in waiting.

Pakistan Army on the other hand took the threat of limited war in a nuclear scenario dispassionately and prepared a wholesome response to nip the evil in the bud whenever it tried to sprout up. Glaring flaws in the new scheme provided grist for humor in uniform. When Indian Army could not deliver, feeling upset the RAW launched series of terrorist group attacks in Lahore and Rawalpindi to give vent to its frustration.

Ominous schemes worked out by Pakistan’s adversaries got a severe blow as a consequence to Pak Army gaining a decisive edge over militants after achieving outstanding successes in Bajaur, Swat and South Waziristan in quick succession. This development coupled with the security situation in Afghanistan getting out of control of occupation forces at the dawn of 2010 changed the whole complexion and put the schemers on the back foot. It compelled the US to start leaning on Pakistan rather than on India.

Pakistan Army instead of getting weakened has become more robust, professional and is well led and has maintained its defensive and offensive balance. Its mettle in war on terror and UN missions has been widely acclaimed by the world. Gen Kayani proved his mental calibre at the largely attended meeting of NATO at Brussels. It was for the first time that a non-NATO officer had this privilege to address the august gathering and he deeply impressed them. For full one year he has been resisting the pressure of USA to mount an operation in North Waziristan which is laudable.

The ISI is looked at with awe and envy. Single-handed it has successfully battled with world’s six most advanced intelligence agencies and has frustrated their designs. In the recently held Cambrian Patrol exercise organized by British Army in Wales in October, which is considered to be the world’s toughest exercise and in which teams from all over the world including India took part, the team of 35 FF in which I had served stood first and won the gold medal. Three cheers to the winners who have made us all proud.

With the induction of AWACs, JF-17 jet fighters, new batch of F-16 CD model jets, the PAF is feeling much more confident. With balanced ratio of hard hitting submarines and surface warships and improved early warning means and naval air arm, the navy too is in high spirits. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence is intact and its wide arrays of guided missiles including cruise missiles are much superior to Indian missiles. Gen Shamim Wyne is an excellent choice to head Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee who surely will further refurbish inter-services coordination and cooperation as well as the nuclear set up. Pakistan armed forces imbued with high pitched zeal do not believe in myths but have complete faith in Almighty Allah. They are focused on India and are well poised to take on the Indian challenge.

Who guards the guardians in Kabul?

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Pakistan Daily

Mercenaries and private military companies and their suspicious intelligence network in Afghanistan have ultimately challenged the legitimate function of the Afghan state. They are the prime reason behind the distances between the regular soldiers and civil society across the country. Secret and underground arm business between these contractors, the Taliban militia and former warlords has raised many questions about the instability of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. These private security firms and their criminal militias have minimized the power of the state and government. They have hijacked the Afghan state. The state is no more existed in its legitimate form, there are many states functioning from south to north and from west to east. There have been differences, distances and clefts between civil society and the Afghan national army.

The army soldiers either joining the network of these companies for a lump sum salary every month or receive compensation for joining the Taliban in night fight against NATO and the Afghan govt forces. The privatized military industry patronized by former jihadi leaders and drug smugglers has become a hot debate in the print and electronic media in Afghanistan. These jihadi leaders, former so-called Mujahideen, warlords, war criminals and their private security and intelligence firms have been deeply involved in the killing, and torturing of the civilian population across the country since the US invasion in 2001.

These so-called Mujahideen have never stopped their private security companies from the killing, raping and looting their countrymen. They will never ask this because all these so-called leaders, like warlord Abdul Rasul Syyaf, General Fahim, Karim Khalili, Prof, Rabbani, Sabghatullah Mujaddidi and President Karzai’s brothers have established their own private security companies and private militias. They have recruited and recruit young unemployed and poverty stricken Afghans, receive money from the Americans, smuggle weapons in and outside Afghanistan, rape women prisoners, and young girls. They run the business of China white heroin and share their network with the Taliban for spreading their business across south and central Asia.

A former warlord commander Mr, Ruhullah is chairman Kandahar security groups. His men collect taxes and share it with the Taliban. According to the Kaleed research report, his criminal mafia has been involved in the killing of innocent passengers. Moreover, soldiers of this security company along with the Taliban forces fight NATO in night. Another criminal security firm belongs to former General Qasim Fahim and his brother. Sources from Afghanistan revealed that strategic solution international collect information, protect guardians and established its own criminal militia across the country. Afghan Defence Minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak and his son Hamid Jan Wardak have also established a security company under that name of N.C.L Security Company. General Rahim Wardak and his company have also been involved in criminal activities and killings of innocent Peoples. Warlord, Sabghatullah Mujaddidi (Former President of Afghanistan) has established a mafia group under the name of elite security company.

The recent release low quality disinformation documents by the WikiLeaks is based on the non-technical reports of these private military and intelligence firms in Afghanistan. Their illiterate, criminal and non-technical informers have gathered such a low quality disinformation reports which caused misunderstandings between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. They accused ISI for its tacit support to Taliban on one hand and beg Pakistan for bringing Afghan Taliban to the table of talks on the other.

Keeping in view their illegal military and terror related activities, President Hamid Karzai renewed his demand for the elimination of the suspicious network of these contractors saying they are a source of corruption that undermining support for the war against the Taliban insurgency. The contractors are “running a parallel security structure in the country, they are looting and stealing from the Afghan people” and “some of them turn into terrorist groups at night time,” The President revealed in ABC TV programme. The better-paid private criminal militia needs to be disbanded in order for the Afghan police force to be built up, he said. The US in Afghanistan and Iraq has found that the military has shrunk so much since the Cold War ended, therefore, decided to use private military companies to directly support military operations.

Experts say, there are over 100 private security and military contractors with approximately 64,000 uniformed personnel. These private military companies do not spend all funds on their projects in a particular country. They steal money and transfer it to a safe destination. The issue of the presence of Blackwaters in Pakistan and Afghanistan has become complicated issue. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik is consecutively denying its presence in the country, while media reports say, Blackwaters has been involved in target killings. Private Contractor began to enter Afghanistan after the US intervention in 2001. Two years ago, Afghan President ordered a law-making process in motion, but the process continued.

Private Security Firms Regulation are still being debated, including their process, staff identification, the weapons used and general requirements for their owners and staff. The criminal record of their soldiers (former Afghan warlords, drug mafia, human traffickers, rapists, and murderers) and their involvement in looting, rape and other illegal activities is another question raised in Afghan parliament. Ordinary Afghans don’t know about the basic function of these firms. They don’t know regarding the multitude of security actors in the country. They recently came to known that these private contractors are corrupt; they are bringing more guns into the country, supply guns to Pak-Afghan Taliban and smuggle narcotics drugs. They use govt permits for smuggling weapons into Afghanistan and then to Pakistan, they dishonestly register part of their weapons their sophisticated arms are not reported. They buy weapons from black market and employ those who are already armed. They arm other groups organize violence and create conflict mechanism.

Majority of Afghans criticise them as overbearing and abusive. Before issuing the order, President Hamid Karzai accused these firms for their involvement in robbery, malpractice and misusing their authority. Their suspicious activities, lake of transparency, Profit motivated job not by national foreign policy or security interests. As they are not accountable to the state they have no strict regulatory regime. This private sector intelligence and security agencies have created misunderstanding during their operations in various states. What are they doing in Afghanistan and how they run their business, nobody knows. But one thing is clear; they badly affected the fighting capabilities of the professional armies of NATO allied states.

If they recruit and train mercenaries for war, why the Taliban are being accused for the recruitment and training of their cadets? It means they prepare people for their own ideological war. Keeping in view their mysterious activities, at the national level, Afghan state will need to tighten regulatory provisions in domestic law and enhance enforcement. States that depend on mercenaries and private military, intelligence and security companies during peace and war, military operations, intelligence gathering, police training and many other fields, have suffered from the disease of incapacity of their states. Their states authority has become limited and their national security and military policies have been influenced by these private firms. No doubt, the situation is going worse and what we said in the past that private companies or security agencies are working for money not for national interests, proved to be true.

The illegal activities of the private military companies can put in danger the country’s relations with the other states. In Afghanistan and in Pakistan, the activities of these companies are viewed more suspicious. According to the British commander in Afghanistan, Major General Nick Carter, “Afghan private security firms fuelling corruption, Security firms need to be properly regulated and registered. An Afghan newspaper once reported about the criminal nature of these companies; “Ignoring the authority of local police and lacking respect of traffic laws and bad road manner, such as not stopping at intersections, using one-way roads in the wrong direction, driving too fast and pushing people to the side of roads. A DynCorp guard company was also once seen slapping an Afghan Minister, the newspaper reported. NATO-led troops do not trust Afghan national security forces as Afghan soldiers at least twice opened fire on their colleagues and mentors, killing two Americans and three Britons in the past months. Police in night hand to hand with Taliban fights coalition forces all the night while in day time they protect them.

Musa Khan Jalalzai, The writer is the author of Britain’s National Security Challenges and Punjabi Taliban, based in London

Alert: Russia Orders Troops To Prepare For War With US

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Reports circulating in the Kremlin today state that Prime Minister Putin [photo top left] has ordered Russian military forces to prepare to confront American military forces in Afghanistan over what Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov warns is the”greatest threat to International peace and security”, Afghanistan’s thriving drug trade supported by the US and NATO.

Not being reported to the American people about the Afghanistan war is that it has nothing to do with their being protected from terrorists, but rather it involves the billions of dollars gained for many of the West’s top intelligence agencies (mainly the CIA) from the heroin produced in this region (90% of World’s total) that by 2001 the Taliban had virtually eliminated.

Immediately after the US invasion of Afghanistan in October, 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) installed one of their main Afghan operatives, Hamid Karzai, as President, who then put into power his brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, who since then has increased heroin production to levels unseen in modern times and resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of Russian citizens

Viktor Ivanov, the head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service, Russia’s National drug enforcement agency, told parliament in May that it was reasonable to “call the flow of Afghan opiates the second edition of opium wars.” Ivanov was referring to the 19th-century warbetween Britain and China sparked by exports of opium from British India to China.

Ivanov isn’t alone.

“I can name you a lot of politicians in Russia who said that the Americans specially arranged the situation in Afghanistan so that we would receive a lot of drugs, and this is the real aim of their occupation,” said Andrei Klimov, the deputy head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament. “I’m not sure this is true, but who knows.”

One person who definitely knew it was true was German President Horst Koehler, who after returning from Afghanistan last month linked the war with the defense of German economic interests because it was securing free trade routes for the West and had nothing to do whatsoever with terrorism. For his “outspokenness” President Koehler was forced to resign plunging an already battered Chancellor Merkel into even greater political turmoil.

Most shocking to understand about the CIA’s being the World’s largest drug trafficker is that it isn’t even kept secret anymore and has been embraced by their new President, Barack Obama, who has used billions of dollars earned through Afghan heroin deals to fund his sending US Special Forces teams to over 75 different Nations as well as building for them a new $100 million headquarters base in Afghanistan while his own citizens plunge deeper into poverty.

Important to note though is that Obama is far from being the first American President to embrace the drug trade as nearly all of his predecessors were likewise involved in starting and maintaining wars to keep the billions earned from this most despicable of crimes preying on the weakest people in their society, mainly the poor and people of colour.

For those few reporters seeking to inform the American people about this crime the hard and brutal lesson learned from the late Gary Webb’s blacklisting and suiciding by US intelligence agents after his revealing the CIA’s involvement in the drug trade presents a chilling example of what these monsters will do to protect themselves and their right to poison anyone they so choose.

Interesting to note too is that according to the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organized crime were “the only liquid investment capital” available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352 Billion of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.

Though the American people still ignore the crimes being perpetrated by their so called leaders, the lessons of their own history should not be lost upon them, especially when viewed in the light of the use of drug and alcohol laws used for mass imprisonment while at the same time instituting around them a draconian tyrannical society where all their freedoms will be stripped from them.

And for those American’s thinking that their life couldn’t get any worse? They couldn’t be more mistaken! For just this past week Obama’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released what they call a “staff discussion draft” of “potential policy recommendations to support the reinvention of journalism” wherein they called for doctrine of “proprietary facts” that would outlaw anyone writing or reporting on anything that happens unless they use the “facts” provided to them by the government.

But than again, and as the history of these American’s seems to show, with their massive government debt about to eclipse their Gross National Product (GDP) for the first time in history, their once vital Gulf of Mexico region succumbing to the World’s worst oil spill catastrophe, and their NASA scientists now warning that the “awakening” Sun may destroy everything anyway, maybe they truly can’t be told the truth and must be treated like the children they act like.

World leaders demand probe into Israel raid

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BRUSSELS – Global leaders demanded an independent probe Tuesday into Israel’s deadly commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla and the release of their seized citizens, as tens of thousands protested worldwide.

Egyptian riot police stand guard as opposition activists wave the Palestinian flag as they demonstrate …

A day after the pre-dawn assault in international waters which left at least nine pro-Palestinian activists dead, nations condemned Israel for what Turkey’s prime minister branded “a bloody massacre.”

In New York, an emergency session of the UN Security Council called for “a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation.”

The world body and NATO demanded the immediate release of all six vessels and the hundreds of Palestinian supporters who were on board.

Turkey said at least four of its citizens were among the dead and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel should be “punished.”

“The insolent, irresponsible and impudent attack by Israel, which went against law and trampled human honour underfoot, must definitely be punished,” he said.

Turkey, once Israel’s main partner in the region, has scrapped joint war games and recalled its ambassador.

Britain, France, Russia and China — four of the five veto-wielding Security Council members — urged Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Even the United States, traditionally Israel’s strongest ally, hinted that the blockade — in place since 2007, when the Islamist Hamas movement seized control of the territory — should at least be eased.

The outrage that greeted the raid prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call off a visit to Washington and talks with US President Barack Obama.

The White House voiced “deep regret” at the loss of life but stopped short of specifically condemning Israel. But it made it clear that it trusted Israel to carry out a full and credible investigation.

Nations including France and Ireland called for the immediate release of their citizens who were seized in international waters, taken back to Israel and in some cases held incommunicado and denied consular access.

“Israel needs to listen to and act in accordance with the united voice of the international community on this issue,” said Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said later that all detained foreign activists would be deported.

“All foreign nationals who were on board the fleet and were arrested will be deported from Tuesday night,” the premier’s office said a statement. Dozens had already deported during the course of the day.

Delegates from the European Union and NATO gathered in Brussels for talks, after EU ambassadors criticised Israel’s use of force and demanded an immediate and impartial inquiry.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev slammed the loss of life as “absolutely unjustified,” while EU president Herman Van Rompuy said the deaths were “inexplicable,” and the bloc’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton vowed to intensify European efforts to get Israel to lift its Gaza blockade.

China said it was “shocked” by Israel’s actions and was prepared to back a quick response from the UN Security Council.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for Israel to “urgently” explain itself.

“Had Israelis heeded to my call and to the call of the international community by lifting the blockade of Gaza, this tragic incident would not have happened,” the UN secretary general said.

Across the world, tens of thousands of people protested on the streets and several countries summoned Israel’s ambassadors. Many demonstrators chanted “Death to Israel!”

Cuba denounced the “criminal attack,” Venezuela’s firebrand President Hugo Chavez condemned what he said was a “brutal massacre,” and the World Council of Churches said Israel had brazenly flouted international law.

Israel had warned that it would intercept the ships, but Monday’s assault turned into a fiasco. Footage from one vessel showed black-clad commandos clashing with activists and several wounded people lying on the deck.

The Red Cross on Tuesday said it had been granted access to dozens of detained activists, and was in the process of contacting their families.

“Our priority now is to check on the condition and whereabouts of the people wounded and of those detained by the Israeli authorities,” said Pierre Wettach, head of delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in a statement.

The Israeli military has blamed activists on the ship for creating the confrontation by attacking its soldiers as they boarded.

The Muslim world united in condemning what Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas called a “massacre” and Arab League chief Amr Mussa said was a “crime.”

The Islamist movement Hamas which rules Gaza urged world Muslims to “rise up” in protest, as Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denounced the raid as “inhuman Zionist regime action.”

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak condemned the “excessive and unjustified force” while Jordan, the only other regional power to have a peace treaty with Israel, handed in a protest note.

To stay relevant, the UN must compete

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By Rebecca R. Friedman

The United States is increasingly taking important issues – such as financial stability, climate change, and nonproliferation – outside the UN system.

When officials from 47 countries met in Washington last month for the Nuclear Security Summit, they sent a subtle but unmistakable message to the United Nations: You don’t matter as much as you used to.

The summit is just the latest example of the growing tendency of the United States to take important issues – such as financial stability, climate change, and nonproliferation – outside the UN system.

The Group of 20 has become the prevailing symbol of this trend of addressing complex international issues in informal settings, where participants are handpicked based on their global and regional influence. The G-20’s prominence stems from its effective role in averting global depression.

Yet, many in the UN – especially developing countries – curse its rise. To them, the G-20 represents an elite club of rich countries, convening closed-door summits to determine the course of world events, without regard for their perspectives. Belying their fear is the concern that the UN, an organ in which they are represented with a vote and a soapbox, will become increasingly irrelevant.

These fears are overstated, if not unfounded, for three reasons.

First, the G-20’s scope is almost entirely limited to international finance and crisis management – two areas that the UN and the post-World War II Bretton Woods institutions have proved incapable of directing. The G-20 has shown little interest in becoming an all-encompassing global governance body.

Second, the G-20 is an informal gathering, without the legitimacy conferred by the UN’s treaty-based status and universal membership.

Third, the G-20 lacks institutional machinery. It has no permanent staff – laughable when compared with the UN’s 40,000-person Secretariat.

But it is exactly the reactionary fear of effective institutions that augurs poorly for the UN. If the UN is to remain relevant, it will need to accept “minilateral” global governance mechanisms as partners, while also reforming the structures that drown the UN in redundancy.

We have entered – in the words of Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations – an era of “messy multilateralism.” Powerful countries, most notably the US, have an expanding array of forums to which they can bring important decisions, including the Group of Seven, Group of Eight, and G-20; NATO; the Major Economies Forum; and the World Trade Organization.

Although none of these poses an existential threat to the UN, their existence and effectiveness dilute its influence. By viewing them as partners rather than competitors, UN leaders and member states can make the UN system relevant to solving tomorrow’s problems. UN departments can aid the G-20 and other groupings as both an implementer and a watchdog. Still, the UN must realize why so many alternative venues have emerged: It has become ineffectual.

Despite 60 years of dominance, there are no guarantees that the UN will continue to be the primary global-governance institution. Reform should begin at the top, with long-awaited changes to the composition and mechanisms of the Security Council. The UN’s premier decisionmaking body must be effective, while also reflecting the geopolitical realities of the 21st century.

In its daily operations, the UN should become more efficient, with better management, accountability, and systemwide coherence. And, in its core functions – development, peace and security, human rights, and humanitarian action – it must seriously address the laundry list of internal and external recommendations for improving its operations.

Reform will be difficult and contentious. But the fact that it is an institutional imperative for the UN has never been clearer, so this is a test. If the UN cannot tackle the challenge posed by the G-20 and other global governance innovations, it deserves to go the way of its predecessor, the League of Nations.

Walking, not running: New START and the Nuclear Posture Review

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By: Andrew Somerville

The achievements of the US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and the signing of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) are the first steps towards President Obama’s stated goal of a nuclear free world. However limited their successes may be, their announcements signify real progress in nuclear disarmament

Only two days after the US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) Report on April 6 laid out a coherent reduction plan for US nuclear weapons, President Obama and Russian President Medvedev met in Prague to sign the new version of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Whilst one of these is a bilateral treaty reducing the two largest nuclear arsenals in the world and the other a unilateral doctrine outlining American nuclear weapons policy, these documents have much in common. Both have been much anticipated, and have been the subject of intense debate and anticipation. As such, they have both become not merely important indicators to the international security environment and key influences on May’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, but also an important gauge of whether the Obama administration will be able to achieve its lofty foreign policy goals whilst dealing with so many domestic issues. But now that they have been delivered they must be evaluated for what they actually achieve.

Obama’s Nuclear Agenda

Twelve months ago, when the newly-elected American President gave a speech in Prague stating his goal of eventual nuclear disarmament, a message was clearly sent identifying nuclear weapons as one of his flagship policy areas. However, as his pledge to negotiate a New START treaty by the end of 2009 was not delivered, and the date of the NPR Report slipped from December to February and then further and further into 2010, faith in President Obama’s ability to provide leadership on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament began to wane. To some it appeared that bitter domestic battles and the loss of a super-majority in the Senate were consuming the political capital required to deliver such significant goals, potentially leaving the President weakened and unable to gain the leverage necessary to achieve change at either national or international level. As negotiations stalled, the high hopes originally held for the New START treaty and for a successful outcome to the inevitable struggle between the White House and the Department of Defense over the NPR faded. Giving way instead to fears that these processes would be respectively hamstrung by arguments over missile defence in Europe and inertia over the role of nuclear weapons in US security.

The sudden and rapid acceleration of these recent developments clearly signals President Obama’s commitment to nuclear disarmament, and that his attention has now returned to the issue. The announcement of a breakthrough in US-Russia negotiations and an agreement of a treaty text came on 26 March, only days after the signing of the contentious Healthcare Reform Bill. Just over a week after these achievements came the launch of the NPR Report, followed by the signing of the treaty in Prague. This alone would be enough to show that the President retained his focus on the nuclear agenda – laid out in last year’s speech in the same city – but is further bolstered by the reports of his personal involvement in the negotiation process via a series of telephone calls to his Russian counterpart at the height of the domestic tussles. However, achieving agreement on these documents would hardly be a success if their contents did not contribute to the Prague disarmament agenda. On that score, both of these documents successfully manage to make multiple modest advances.


New START reduces the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals from 2,200 warheads to 1,550, and reduces the number of launchers (ICBMs, SLBMs and Heavy Bombers) to a total of 800 with up to 700 of these deployed. This is a modest, but welcome, reduction in warheads that is more significant in maintaining momentum towards further disarmament. Despite representing a claimed cut of 30 per cent from the upper warhead limit of the Moscow Treaty, the actual post-reduction total will be much larger than the figure of 1,550, owing to the counting rules of the Treaty – each bomber counts as carrying only one warhead no matter how many it may actually be loaded with. More important are the issues not addressed by the Treaty. Missile defence is not subject to control despite Russian pressure to include such technology, although the preamble contains the statement ‘Recognizing … that current strategic defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic offensive arms of the Parties’. Moreover, the treaty makes special effort to create a strict divide between missile defence and offensive missile capabilities. However, the Treaty also includes a clause for withdrawal under ‘exceptional circumstances’, which the Russian government has stated is a reference to any future development of US missile defence ‘quantitatively or qualitatively… in such a way that threatens the potential of the strategic nuclear forces of the Russian Federation’.[i] Nor are planned conventional ballistic missile arms subject to restrictions, at least according to the original announcement by the US State Department. These compromises and hard-won omissions from the Treaty are crucial, as they minimise the potential for resistance to ratification from the US Senate.


A range of policy declarations made by the NPR compliment the concrete reductions contained within New START. Key amongst these is the stated aim of presenting a roadmap towards nuclear disarmament. Substance towards this overarching goal is provided by a number of important decisions within the NPR

The issuing of the Negative Security Assurances (NSAs) pledging not to use nuclear weapons against Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) parties ‘in compliance’ with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is not new, but this position is strengthened considerably in the Obama NPR. Firstly, by abandoning the Bush administration’s ambiguity over whether nuclear weapons would be used in response to a chemical or biological weapon attack. This NPR clearly states that nuclear weapons will not be used against NNWS in any situation, rather relying on conventional forces to deter such attacks. However, it stops short of making a full pledge of ‘No First Use’, clearly declaring that there are a narrow set of circumstances in which the use of nuclear weapons is acceptable following a chemical or biological attack by a state either in possession of nuclear weapons, or not in compliance with the NPT. Secondly, the ‘Warsaw Pact Clause’, outlining the possibility of using nuclear weapons against states that are in alliance with nuclear-armed states, has been removed. This clause was originally contained in the 1995 NSA declaration to the UN General Assembly and in all subsequent pledges. The removal of this phrase within the NSA symbolises the desire to move away from the ‘Cold War thinking’ that has dominated nuclear strategy until now. The pledge to de-MIRV the ICBM force, reducing the number of warheads on each missile from three to one, is important as a key reduction in capability, and the decision to retire the nuclear-armed Tomahawk cruise missile will also be welcomed by many.

Small steps

The reasoning behind each decision in the NPR report is discussed and transparently explained in the context of taking a step along the road to disarmament, but without taking any potentially destabilising risks. This level of openness is admirable, but it is also important to highlight that both of these documents are modest steps along this path. There are many disappointments for those who may have hoped for more radical policy changes. The New START’s numerical cuts in warhead numbers are relatively conservative and do little to reduce capabilities, though it is hoped that further reductions can be made in the near future. There is also the NPR’s decision to maintain all three ‘legs’ of the nuclear triad. Some strategists have mooted the possible removal of the long-range bomber from the nuclear arsenal, but this capability is confirmed as the remaining part of the nuclear force for the foreseeable future and the decision has been made to proceed with the life extension programme for the B-61 gravity bomb. [ii] Europeans hoping for US leadership on the issue of NATO’s shared tactical nuclear weapons capability – currently based in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands – will be disappointed by the short mention in the NPR, firmly placing the onus for any decision on the shoulders of this year’s new NATO Strategic Concept. The lack of movement towards reducing alert levels of the remaining nuclear forces will concern others, as will the perceived ‘glossing over’ of concerns over the strategic impact of missile defences and conventional ballistic missiles.

However, to focus on these points would be to neglect the role of these achievements as part of the overall strategy. In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2009, President Obama pledged to ‘complete a Nuclear Posture Review that opens the door to deeper cuts, and reduces the role of nuclear weapons’.[iii] This is precisely what has been achieved by this combination of the New START and the Nuclear Posture Review. Neither of these are revolutionary in themselves, but nor are they intended to be. Given both the political realities of the US and the pressures of the international security environment, pushing too far too soon on any one front could have proven disastrous to the initiative that President Obama began last year in Prague. Instead, by making progress and compromises across a number of issues, the policy and capability changes are kept palatable to all audiences, whilst the entire debate moves forward as a whole and provides the foundations for further advances. In this context, these achievements should be recognised for what they are: the delayed small steps at the beginning of the long road to stable nuclear disarmament.

The views expressed above are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those of RUSI

Canada wants to use Pak bases for Afghan pullout

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* Request still under consideration by Foreign Office

By Iqbal Choudhry

ISLAMABAD: As NATO countries are planning to leave Afghanistan, the Canadian government has requested Pakistani authorities to allow them the use of Pakistani airbases during the withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan, sources told Daily Times on Thursday.

According to the sources, Canadian troops will leave Afghanistan next year and their government wants to use Pakistani airbases for ‘convenience’ during the departure.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told Daily Times that his ministry had received a request from the Canadian government, however, it had not been decided yet if they would be allowed to use the airbases.

Under the set procedure, the Foreign Ministry has to consult the Defence Ministry before giving the final approval. The request, however, is still being considered by the FO.

To a similar question, Fareeha Iftikhar, from the Media and Advocacy Office of the Canadian High Commission, said Canada would end its military mission in Afghanistan in July 2011 and complete the withdrawal of its forces by December.

“We are currently planning to end the mission in Afghanistan but it is too early to provide any details at this time,” she said.

Around 2,800 Canadian Forces personnel are currently deployed in Afghanistan as part of the ISAF forces.

Pakistan is considered as a direct route to Afghanistan, hence it is believed that the countries wishing to leave NATO forces in Afghanistan would prefer Pakistani airbases due to its strategic importance.

On April 11, a day before the two-day Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, US President Barack Obama met his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev and their deliberations resulted in the US obtaining the right to fly troops and military equipment over (and later directly into) Kazakhstan for the escalating war in Afghanistan.

Curing Afghanistan

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Two officers on the battlefield offer a new metaphor for the understanding conflict in the region — and how to end it.

The battle for Marja in southern Afghanistan and the coming campaign in Kandahar are important, but victory on these battlefields will not win the war, though they will help set the conditions for success. It will take a comprehensive, holistic effort to bring stability to Afghanistan.

Drawing on our experience as institution builders, and after spending six months on the ground in Afghanistan, we would like to offer a different way to think about diagnosing this country’s ills — and finding the appropriate cures. In the course of our duties, we have helped build the Afghan army, police, air corps, educational institutions, military hospitals, logistics, and the bureaucracies of defense and interior. Rather than describing Afghanistan with the language of war and battles, we have come to think of the country as an ailing patient — in many ways analogous to a weakened person under attack by an aggressive infection.

To extend this analogy further, to rebuild the country’s long-term health, Afghan and coalition leaders must address the ailment at three levels: curing the body, mind, and spirit of the nation. This means rebuilding the body of physical infrastructure and physical security; restoring the mind of governmental and educational institutions; and reinvigorating the spirit of civil leadership and traditional, tolerant Islam.


This diagnosis of Afghanistan’s illnesses came too late, allowing the infection that has debilitated it — i.e., insurgent forces and the Taliban — to grow in strength. As a result, a low-level antibiotic is now insufficient to the task of restoring health. For several years, coalition and Afghan senior leaders did not fully appreciate the potential lethality of the Taliban’s infectious insurgency.

The 30,000 additional troops approved by U.S. President Barack Obama in December 2009 can be viewed as a late but powerful and much-needed dose of antibiotics. The surge was designed to shock and stunt the insurgency, thereby gaining time and space to allow the country’s indigenous immune system to be restored.

NATO’s combat presence in Afghanistan is considerable. At its peak, combat troops will number nearly 130,000. NATO countries provide the conventional combat troops distributed across the country by region, with especially heavy concentrations in the south, where the Taliban infection is particularly virulent. These troops are augmented by special operations forces and complete coalition air dominance through both manned and unmanned armed platforms.

To be sure, similar to a powerful antibiotic, the use of large numbers of combat troops brings with it side effects that can cause discomfort and pain to the body politic of Afghanistan. The effects range from disruption of civilian day-to-day life to, regrettably, sometimes civilian casualties. Senior NATO commanders seek to minimize civilian casualties and thus apply combat power with restraint and, to the extent possible, surgical precision.

This surge of combat power, along with the Marja and Kandahar offensives, will suppress the Taliban infection in the near term, but is only a temporary reprieve. The current high level of U.S. and NATO combat power cannot be maintained forever. Therefore, without a rejuvenated immune system, the infection will come back.

Immune System

The Afghan equivalent of the body’s immune system is the collective security forces: the police, the military, and the security bureaucracy. But the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are underdeveloped and need time and space to develop to a point where they can effectively shoulder the responsibility of suppressing nascent infections that threaten the country’s health.

Some have asked: How could the ANSF still require growth and development almost nine years after international forces entered the country? Like a doctor who fails to correctly diagnose an illness, so did security experts fail to appreciate the danger of the Taliban. Moreover, the coalition did not fully appreciate the magnitude of the task entailed in building an indigenous immune system comprised of a large and robust army and police. NATO officials now recognize the size of the task, and the immunity-building effort has, accordingly, expanded dramatically.

In November 2009, the NATO alliance stood up a dedicated training command with the mission of building the ANSF. NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan is responsible for the generation, development, and professionalization of the Afghan army, police, army air corps, and all the various supporting structures, from back-office support systems to military schools. The financial resources devoted to this training mission are among the largest of its kind in the world.

But it isn’t just dollars flowing into the country: Trainers, instructors, advisors, engineers, and logisticians are flowing in rapidly and will peak at several thousand. Training facilities and infrastructure include basic-training camps in every regional command, logistical infrastructure, new military hospitals and clinics, and a national military academy modeled after U.S. military academies. The output of these camps and schools is rapidly climbing, producing almost 10,000 police and soldiers per month.

Spirit of Service

Although we have made massive investments in the surge and are moving aggressively to restore Afghan immunity, efforts to restore general health are lagging. The rebuilding of critical infrastructure, the restoration of good governance, and expanded education will be essential to restoring the body and mind.

Restoring the spirit of Afghanistan is perhaps the most difficult and complex. The challenges are twofold: the restoration of Afghanistan’s tradition of tolerant Islam and the restoration of a sense of service to nation and tribe that predated the rise of warlordism and its associated corruption.

Fortunately, Afghan leaders today realize that a spirit of national service was lost for a generation and are taking steps to fill the void. At a conference at Camp Eggers in Kabul, sponsored by NATO Training Mission in early 2010, we listened as senior Afghan leaders vigorously debated how to restore a sense of service and virtuous leadership. For all the recent turmoil in the U.S. relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the Kabul government has kept its word: establishing new officer training schools for police; implementing a lottery system for officer assignments (as a counter to favoritism and nepotism); and developing new laws (now awaiting final approval by the Afghan parliament and president), which seem likely to pass, that together will strengthen the professionalism of the security forces. At the National Military Academy of Afghanistan, one can already see the new spirit of national service and selfless leadership becoming manifest in young men and women.

The road to a healthy body politic is not easy, but the first step is appreciating what a lasting cure will require.