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Obama, Zuckerberg meet – Silicon Valley Getting Hot Again!!

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By Cecilia Kang

PALO ALTO, Calif. – President Obama and 26-year-old Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, a billionaire college dropout, may seem like an unlikely duo.

But when the two took the stage together Wednesday to talk about the nation’s poor fiscal health and plans to cure it, the pairing highlighted the increasing interdependence between the president and Silicon Valley.

Obama was introduced to much of the nation through Facebook and Google’s YouTube, companies he says are bright spots in the economy. They produce the kinds of jobs that he believes will maintain the nation’s economic edge in the future.

“The administration recognizes that companies like Facebook and so many other tech companies are at the forefront of job creation and hold the key to economic recovery,” said Ray Ramsey, president of Silicon Valley trade group TechNet. “The administration also understands they can’t take the Valley’s support for granted and their actions are showing this.”

To understand the importance of high-tech firms and Obama’s association with them, it’s only necessary to look at the tech-heavy Nasdaq stock index, which on Wednesday hit its highest level since last October.

Meanwhile, Facebook needs to have good relations with Washington regulators and lawmakers. It is under increased scrutiny by federal officials over how its social networking business – where information is the currency for business online – could curtail the privacy of consumers.

As it tries to expand globally – particularly in China – Facebook’s ambitions may also rub against a U.S. diplomatic agenda that aims to bring to the rest of the world an ethos that opposes censorship and endorses online activism.

(Washington Post Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Donald E. Graham sits on Facebook’s board of directors, and the newspaper and many Post staffers use Facebook for marketing purposes.)

Facebook has promoted Obama’s visit as a major honor, a validation of the firm’s influence as a communications platform. The White House has boasted that the audience it will reach through Facebook’s live video broadcast is comprised largely of middle class, typically younger Americans who would be harder to approach through traditional media.

Even increased government scrutiny of Facebook and other Bay Area firms such as Twitter and Google is unlikely to dampen the mood surrounding Obama’s visit here. He’ll attend three San Francisco fundraisers to tap into deep pockets of Democratic donors in the Bay Area.

They like his promise to bring mobile high-speed Internet connections to all Americans, and they tend to support him because of their individual political leanings, tech lobbyists and political strategists say. And they want to have more exposure to the president whose administration says Internet privacy rules are needed.

“There has been tremendous support for Obama and in part that’s because he understands the Internet and appointed people who have technology expertise. But policy-wise, business leaders approach those policies like libertarians,” said Markham Erickson, a tech lobbyist and partner at Holch & Erickson in Washington. “There has been a view among tech companies that you can invent or design around what Washington does.”

Some tech lobbyists say privately that they are disappointed that Silicon Valley firms find themselves on the defensive with the Federal Trade Commission on the privacy question. Meanwhile, they believe the bottom-line issues where they want government help, such as patent reform and tax repatriation, aren’t being addressed fast enough.

“There is some disappointment on bottom-line tech policies,” said one tech lobbyist who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to do so by his tech clients. “The stuff he’s accomplished on tech policy so far won’t directly impact these Internet firms today and maybe not for years.”

Facebook, just seven years old, is responding to the increased government focus on its company by expanding its lobbying operations. Still small by K Street standards, the company’s Dupont Circle office grew from one person three years ago to 10 today, and it has hired outside lawyers as consultants. A source familiar with the company’s thinking said it has plans to grow even more.

There are a number of former high-level White House officials on Facebook’s staff: former Obama White House economic adviser Marne Levine heads its policy shop and former Bush administration aide Cathie Martin is also on its policy team.

Facebook wants to enter China and it is facing criticism for its approach to Internet policy abroad. Google and Twitter have actively protested government regimes that require censorship and worked with State Department officials to help dissidents protest and organize against repressive regimes such as in Iran and Egypt. But Facebook has a more nuanced approach, saying it abides by the policies of local governments.

Zuckerberg, who wasn’t personally engaged in Obama’s 2008 campaign like Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, joins his business contemporaries relatively late. He and Apple CEO Steve Jobs only began to interact more closely with Obama in the past year. In February, both were part of an exclusive presidential dinner with a handful of CEOs, hosted by Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr.

Obama, meanwhile, has nurtured strong high-tech relationships throughout his tenure. Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, joined Zuckerberg and the president at the town hall. She sits on Obama’s council of economic advisors. AOL founder Steve Case heads his Startup America initiative to help small business growth. Eric Schmidt of Google, Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Intel CEO Paul Otellini regularly attend meetings at the White House as economic advisers.

Those leaders bring expertise and money to economic initiatives. Intel, Microsoft and IBM have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to science education programs. They also widen Obama’s campaign network with big donations and lucrative events.

He will attend an exclusive fundraising dinner at the home of Marc Benioff, chief executive of Salesforce.com, a cloud computing company that provides business software applications on-demand. That firm on Wednesday saw its stock rise 8 percent.

American Held in Pakistan Worked With C.I.A.

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WASHINGTON – The American arrested in Pakistan after shooting two men at a crowded traffic stop was part of a covert, C.I.A.-led team collecting intelligence and conducting surveillance on militant groups deep inside the country, according to American government officials.


Raymond A. Davis, center, was escorted to court by a Pakistani security official in Lahore on Jan. 28.

Working from a safe house in the eastern city of Lahore, the detained American contractor, Raymond A. Davis, a retired Special Forces soldier, carried out scouting and other reconnaissance missions as a security officer for the Central Intelligence Agency case officers and technical experts doing the operations, the officials said.

Mr. Davis’s arrest and detention last month, which came after what American officials have described as a botched robbery attempt, have inadvertently pulled back the curtain on a web of covert American operations inside Pakistan, part of a secret war run by the C.I.A.

The episode has exacerbated already frayed relations between the American intelligence agency and its Pakistani counterpart, created a political dilemma for the weak, pro-American Pakistani government, and further threatened the stability of the country, which has the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal.

Without describing Mr. Davis’s mission or intelligence affiliation, President Obama last week made a public plea for his release. Meanwhile, there have been a flurry of private phone calls to Pakistan from Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all intended to persuade the Pakistanis to release the secret operative.

Mr. Davis has worked for years as a C.I.A. contractor, including time at Blackwater Worldwide, the private security firm (now called Xe) that Pakistanis have long viewed as symbolizing a culture of American gun-slinging overseas.

The New York Times had agreed to temporarily withhold information about Mr. Davis’s ties to the agency at the request of the Obama administration, which argued that disclosure of his specific job would put his life at risk. Several foreign news organizations have disclosed some aspects of Mr. Davis’s work with the C.I.A.

On Monday, American officials lifted their request to withhold publication. George Little, a C.I.A. spokesman, declined to comment specifically on the Davis matter, but said in a statement: “Our security personnel around the world act in a support role providing security for American officials. They do not conduct foreign intelligence collection or covert operations.”

Since the United States is not at war in Pakistan, the American military is largely restricted from operating in the country. So the Central Intelligence Agency has taken on an expanded role, operating armed drones that kill militants inside the country and running covert operations, sometimes without the knowledge of the Pakistanis.

Several American and Pakistani officials said that the C.I.A. team with which Mr. Davis worked in Lahore was tasked with tracking the movements of various Pakistani militant groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, a particularly violent group that Pakistan uses as a proxy force against India but that the United States considers a threat to allied troops in Afghanistan. For the Pakistanis, such spying inside their country is an extremely delicate issue, particularly since Lashkar has longstanding ties to Pakistan’s intelligence service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.

Still, American and Pakistani officials use Lahore as a base of operations to investigate the militant groups and their madrasas in the surrounding area.

The officials gave various accounts of the makeup of the covert team and of Mr. Davis, who at the time of his arrest was carrying a Glock pistol, a long-range wireless set, a small telescope and a headlamp. An American and a Pakistani official said in interviews that operatives from the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command had been assigned to the group to help with the surveillance missions. Other American officials, however, said that no military personnel were involved with the team.

Special operations troops routinely work with the C.I.A. in Pakistan. Among other things, they helped the agency pinpoint the location of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy Taliban commander who was arrested in January 2010 in Karachi.

Even before the arrest of Mr. Davis, his C.I.A. affiliation was known to Pakistani authorities, who keep close tabs on the movements of Americans. His visa, presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in late 2009, describes his job as a “regional affairs officer,” a common job description for officials working with the agency.

According to that application, Mr. Davis carried an American diplomatic passport and was listed as “administrative and technical staff,” a category that typically grants diplomatic immunity to its holder.

American officials said that with Pakistan’s government trying to clamp down on the increasing flow of Central Intelligence Agency officers and contractors trying to gain entry to Pakistan, more of these operatives have been granted “cover” as embassy employees and given diplomatic passports.

As Mr. Davis is held in a jail cell in Lahore – the subject of an international dispute at the highest levels – new details are emerging of what happened in a dramatic daytime scene on the streets of central Lahore, a sprawling city, on Jan. 27.

By the American account, Mr. Davis was driving alone in an impoverished area rarely visited by foreigners, and stopped his car at a crowded intersection. Two Pakistani men brandishing weapons hopped off motorcycles and approached. Mr. Davis killed them with the Glock, an act American officials insisted was in self-defense against armed robbers.

But on Sunday, the text of the Lahore Police Department’s crime report was published in English by a prominent daily newspaper, The Daily Times, and it offered a somewhat different account.

It is based in part on the version of events Mr. Davis gave Pakistani authorities, and it seems to raise doubts about his claim that the shootings were in self-defense.

According to that report, Mr. Davis told the police that after shooting the two men, he stepped out of the car to take photographs of one of them, then called the United States Consulate in Lahore for help.

But the report also said that the victims were shot several times in the back, a detail that some Pakistani officials say proves the killings were murder. By this account, Mr. Davis fired at the men through his windshield, then stepped out of the car and continued firing. The report said that Mr. Davis then got back in his car and “managed to escape,” but that the police gave chase and “overpowered” him at a traffic circle a short distance away.

In a bizarre twist that has further infuriated the Pakistanis, a third man was killed when an unmarked Toyota Land Cruiser, racing to Mr. Davis’s rescue, drove the wrong way down a one-way street and ran over a motorcyclist. As the Land Cruiser drove “recklessly” back to the consulate, the report said, items fell out of the vehicle, including 100 bullets, a black mask and a piece of cloth with the American flag.

Pakistani officials have demanded that the Americans in the S.U.V. be turned over to local authorities, but American officials say they have already left the country.

Mr. Davis and the other Americans were heavily armed and carried sophisticated equipment, the report said.

The Pakistani Foreign Office, generally considered to work under the guidance of the ISI, has declined to grant Mr. Davis what it calls the “blanket immunity” from prosecution that diplomats enjoy. In a setback for Washington, the Lahore High Court last week gave the Pakistani government until March 14 to decide on Mr. Davis’s immunity.

The pro-American government led by President Asif Ali Zardari, fearful for its survival in the face of a surge of anti-American sentiment, has resisted strenuous pressure from the Obama administration to release Mr. Davis to the United States. Some militant and religious groups have demanded that Mr. Davis be tried in the Pakistani courts and hanged.

Relations between the two spy agencies were tense even before the episode on the streets of Lahore. In December, the C.I.A.’s top clandestine officer in Pakistan hurriedly left the country after his identity was revealed. Some inside the agency believe that ISI operatives were behind the disclosure – retribution for the head of the ISI, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, being named in a New York City lawsuit filed in connection with the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, in which members of his agency are believed to have played a role. ISI officials denied that was the case.

One senior Pakistani official close to the ISI said Pakistani spies were particularly infuriated over the Davis episode because it was such a public spectacle. Besides the three Pakistanis who were killed, the widow of one of the victims committed suicide by swallowing rat poison.

Moreover, the official said, the case was embarrassing for the ISI for its flagrancy, revealing how much freedom American spies have to roam around the country.

“We all know the spy-versus-spy games, we all know it works in the shadows,” the official said, “but you don’t get caught, and you don’t get caught committing murders.”

Mr. Davis, burly at 36, appears to have arrived in Pakistan in late 2009 or early 2010. American officials said he operated as part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Global Response Staff in various parts of the country, including Lahore and Peshawar.

Documents released by Pakistan’s Foreign Office showed that Mr. Davis was paid $200,000 a year, including travel expenses and insurance.

He is a native of rural southwest Virginia, described by those who know him as an unlikely figure to be at the center of international intrigue.

He grew up in Big Stone Gap, a small town named after the gap in the mountains where the Powell River emerges.

The youngest of three children, Mr. Davis enlisted in the military after graduating from Powell Valley High School in 1993.

“I guess about any man’s dream is to serve his country,” his sister Michelle Wade said.

Shrugging off the portrait of him as an international spy comfortable with a Glock, Ms. Wade said: “He would always walk away from a fight. That’s just who he is.”

His high school friends remember him as good-natured, athletic, respectful. He was also a protector, they said, the type who stood up for the underdog.

“Friends with everyone, just a salt of the earth person,” said Jennifer Boring, who graduated from high school with Mr. Davis.

Mr. Davis served in the infantry in Europe – including a short tour as a peacekeeper in Macedonia – before joining the Third Special Forces Group in 1998, where he remained until he left the Army in 2003. The Army Special Forces – known as the Green Berets – are an elite group trained in weapons and foreign languages and cultures.

It is unclear when Mr. Davis began working for the C.I.A., but American officials said that in recent years he worked for the spy agency as a Blackwater contractor and later founded his own small company, Hyperion Protective Services.

Mr. Davis and his wife have moved frequently, living in Las Vegas, Arizona and Colorado.

One neighbor in Colorado, Gary Sollee, said that Mr. Davis described himself as “former military,” adding that “he’d have to leave the country for work pretty often, and when he’s gone, he’s gone for an extended period of time.”

Mr. Davis’s sister, Ms. Wade, said she was awaiting her brother’s safe return.

“The only thing I’m going to say is I love my brother,” she said. “I love my brother, God knows, I love him. I’m just praying for him.”

Afghan Balkanisation: creating more Kashmirs

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By Abdul Zahoor Khan Marwat

Normally, when a person faces a serious problem and odds are heavily stacked against him, he takes desperate measures. Some of these measures could be so shocking and scandalous, which instead of helping him out of quagmire land him in another sticky situation, much more serious than the first one. On a grander scale, the same applies to organisations, governments and institutions as well. Consider the idea put up by Robert Blackwell, former US ambassador to India. He recently admitted that the Obama administration’s counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan seems headed for failure. Blackwell, who was the US deputy national security adviser for strategic planning and presidential envoy to Iraq in the administration of President George Bush, proposed: “Given the alternatives, de facto partition of Afghanistan is the best policy option available to the United States and its allies.” One may assume what he really meant was: “The great US of A can’t win the war. So, let us divide Afghanistan into Pashtun, Uzbek and Tajik areas. Create ethnic and sectarian strife on a large scale. Pit the Afghans against one another. Abandon the Pashtun areas and let’s settle the US forces in safer Tajik or Uzbek enclaves.”

The proposal is outrageous to say the least. This brings certain questions to one’s mind. How in the 21st Century could a foreign country, after invading another sovereign country and then finding it unable to conquer it, decide to divide it? Is this not against what the American founding fathers preached, the UN’s charter and human rights of individuals to name a few.
Would any such proposal not strongly opposed by the Afghans themselves, who have been living together for centuries? Most Afghan provinces have mixed populations and there are hundreds of thousands of mixed marriages among different ethnic groups. What would happen to them? While their country has been ravaged by a civil war, would the Afghans remain silent spectators to their country’s division?

Will it not be a stark admission of failure of mighty American forces? What respect would they have been left with if they implement the idea? Would it be economically, socially and militarily feasible to form new states in Afghanistan? Would the newly formed Afghan states survive in the long term?

Wouldn’t the step further inflame the regional situation? What would be the reaction of Russia, the Central Asian States, China and Iran to the proposal? Most importantly, what would be the impact on Pakistan? Would not all Jihadis and Al-qaeda shift from Fata to the Pakhtun areas in Afghanistan and launch attacks on Pashtun and Tajik entities? Wouldn’t the proposed unnatural Tajik and Uzbek states fall to the Pashtun majority in the long term? How long will the US continue to fund them? The Blackwell proposal has extremely serious implications for the region.

One hopes that sanity would prevail and President Obama, despite his falling popularity and deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, does not adopt such a radical strategy after Afghanistan review in December 2010.

APL Letter to Barrack Obama, The President of USA

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His Excellency Barrack H Obama
The President of USA
The United States of America
White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington
DC 20500
U S A
Email: comments@whitehouse.gov;

Dear Mr. President Obama,

Re: Conviction of Dr Afia Siddiqui, a female Muslim Pakistani Doctor (PhD)

Association of Pakistani Lawyers a team of Pakistani origin lawyers, Solicitors, Barristers, Judges in UK wrote to you on 5 November 2008 congratulating you on your remarkable, historic victory for change in the United Sates, and in return in the World. In particular we emphasized in our letter that, “America needs to offer hope to the community of nation and revitalize its efforts to jointly consult with the world if it ever desire to come closer to victory on its drive against extremism. No doubt, 9/11 was the most tragic and most condemnable attack on civilization by criminals and proportionate use of force, revival of United Nations role, protecting the sovereignty of independent nations, joint intelligence sharing mechanism and collective wisdom is the key to defeat this menace”.

In this light of the above we have a cause to write to you on behalf of the Pakistani & Muslim community on the issue of Dr Afia Siddiqui’s Conviction & sentence. APL, an Association of Pakistani origin Solicitors, Barristers, Judges and ex pat members has taken a serious note Dr Afia Siddiqui’s sentence on 23 September 2010 for 86 years and her earlier conviction of 3 February 2010 by Jury of 12 men at USA and has declared her treatment inhuman and her trial unfair in USA. Her sentence of 86 years may result in a stumbling block between US-Pak people to people contact and relations between states. APL Chair said that US system of justice is able to dispense justice and Dr Afia Siddiqui needed justice which must be seen to be done and no better but through US courts and at the moment unlike British courts , US judicial system has failed Dr Afia Siddiqui, her family and millions eyeing on the trial across the globe.

APL observed that Dr Afia was kidnapped and kept at Bagram Airfield without the aid of a lawyer, doctor and or consulate access for years and her being a female, Muslim women that has the potential to charge the mood of the public.

USA is already making efforts to bridge the gap between the people of Pakistan and US Administration and Dr. Afia’s conviction will wipe out all efforts and this decision seems to have dictated through fears than the facts and law. Dr Afia is demonized as ‘Al-Qaeda’ lady or in official circles as ‘the grey lady of Bagram’ without substance of her association or affiliation as Association with Al-Qaeda itself is a criminal offence and that avenue has not been pursued. Under the circumstances she may never get a fair trial from the jury due to 9/11 as in built prejudice against the perpetrators of the 9/11 makes it impossible to allow a fair hearing against anyone who is allegedly portrayed by media or through whisper campaign to be an associate of that outfit no matter how much it is denied. Though, we agree that USA has failed to prove or at least bring it open the limits of her engagements.

APL feels that as has been witnessed in UK that many convictions were overturned by the court of appeal considering it either excessive or unsafe on the narrow interpretation of law, and or due to fear of miscarriage of justice, similarly we feel that common sense will prevail at higher court(s) at appeal where the conviction will be quashed as circumstances of Dr Afia’s case are highly contested, and incredible. In principles of law Dr Afia should not have been at Bagram at first place, where she was detained as prisoner no.650 and there was no record, mention and or trial at a place of her kidnapping and or arrest (Karachi), and or place of her first detention (Ghazni) and there are allegation(s) of torture. Now either the public knows the half truth in this case and or the US authorities are concealing material facts from the court(s) in relation to Dr Afia Siddiqui which calls for a greater insight and or enquiry.

APL feel that Dr. Afia’s conviction of 3 February 2010 and her sentence of 23 September is a decision of a court of law of first instance which on the face of it and in principle must be respected, but we all have disagreements / reservations on rational reasons with the judgments as is in any society, and that’s why we have appeal system. Lack of concrete evidence (DNA / fingerprints) linking her with the Weapon, and her mysterious whereabouts and accounts of arrest and allegations of torture and unlawful confinement without access to his lawyers, doctors, and consulate staff all call for a fair appeal in this matter and or presidential intervention on humanitarian grounds, as if her account of arrest is right, she has already spent nearly 10 years equivalent of her sentence counting day and nights in a prison cell (pre trial). US system of justice is able to dispense justice and Dr Afia Siddiqui needs justice which must be seen to be done and no better but through US courts which must show its inherited powers and allow her a fair hearing on appeal meeting the norms of the Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 which allows any person to have a fair trial.

If court decisions are allowed to be dictated by fears or through prejudices, then I am afraid the future of our multi religious & cultural societies is bleak and onus falls on American administration to either grant presidential pardon, release her to allow her to go home freely or USA’s criminal justice system who are at a crossroad to produce some tangible results in their system through its institutions assuring minority community of justice and fair play.

APL is of the view that looking at the past and the case of Brown v Board of Education, 347 US 483 (1954) where so rightly Supreme Court gave decision against segregation of white and Black children in the public state school solely on the basis of race because that segregation was against the principle of equal protection of law guaranteeing Fourteenth Amendment, and at this juncture based on the past knowledge, APL is of the view that US justice system can ensure justice with Muslim minorities in USA similarly as they did with the black minorities during the race war in the past, and they need to prove it by action(s) not words.

APL is also of the view that political administration is also fairly capable to separate the chaff from grain and Dr Afia’s case is a fine example where political administration must exercise their judgment call to ensure administrative fairness with the ‘Grey lady of Bagram’ who has been in detention for years before trial could take place.

APL with that hope jointly has decided to approach your kind intervention on this very sensitive issue pertaining to Pakistani community here in UK, USA and abroad, and has the following resolution(s);

Resolution of Demand:

1. Govt of United States must consider withdrawing charges against Dr Afia Siddiqui and her repatriation to Pakistan forthwith; or alternately;

2. Govt of United States must consider Presidential pardon for Dr Afia Siddiqui as she has been missing and or confined allegedly since 2003 and there is no account of her missing time in Bagram airfield and her conviction is unsafe considering the state of mind and or issues of serious allegation(s) of torture and maltreatment; or

3. Govt of United States must consider appealing this decision as it is an unsafe judgemnet as post 9/11 putting people of New York in a position of jurors to find a question of guilty/not guilty of a person who is highly publicised as allegedly associated with internationally notorious outfit (AL-Qaeda) is unreasonable and rules of natural justice and norms of Art.6 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 has not been met. looking at the case of Brown v Board of Education, 347 US 483 (1954) where so rightly Supreme Court gave decision against segregation of white and Black children in the public state school solely on the basis of race because that segregation was against the principle of equal protection of law guaranteeing Fourteenth Amendment, at this juncture based on the past knowledge, I am sure, USA can ensure justice with Muslim minorities (its a test case in that scenario); There is overwhelming evidence of making this conviction unsafe i.e lack of DNA / finger prints evidence of her linking to the rifle, her unlawful presence at Bagram as the account of her arrest is not credible, discrepancies between the accounts of Interpreter, and other two witnesses, and no empty shells of the bullets fired were presented at court all makes the conviction unsafe; and these questions must be put to rest which questions the prosperity of US criminal justice system to be fair to Muslims post 9/11 as is the case in UK where many convictions were overturned by superior courts declaring them unsafe and excessive;

4. Govt of United States must consider prisoner exchange with the Govt of Pakistan as in the past many prisoners from Pakistan has been shifted to USA without judicial oversight, and on the similar approach Dr Afia Siddiqui must be returned to Pakistan to remain in Pakistani custody whilst the issue of her case (withdrawal/appeal and or pardon) are considered at home in USA as she has already spent many years in confinement and her return would ease her sufferings and will avoid hampering United States effort to increase people to people contact and efforts to winning the hearts and minds of the Pakistani people.

5. Govt of United States must consider setting up a commission to adjudicate the questions of true facts surrounding Dr Afia’s arrest, allegations of torture and mal treatment at Bagram airfield, and the issue of extra judicial and extra territorial confinement and imprisonment at Bagram where there are allegations that CIA paid huge monies to Pak officials for making successful arrests and Gen. Musharraf accepted that fact in his book, (in the line of fire). Dr Afia is a female, Muslim lady from Pakistan who is a highly educated (PhD from Brandeis University 2001) and has been either bought via CIA and or arrested in dubious circumstances at Pakistan and or Afghanistan; she has been strip searched, allegedly maltreated, interrogated mostly without lawyers , proper examination of a female doctor, and or consulate access at Afghanistan and has been shifted to USA without her consent. How come she was shown to be at Bagram in 2008 when people had knowledge of her whereabouts as prisoner no 650 prior to that date makes it desirable to settle the facts once for all to ease the people of Pakistan as this is the kind of material if remain uncertain acts as prima facie fodder for radicalisation which needs to be put at rest through proper enquiry. Incidents like Abu Gharib force APL to say that the allegation of such nature may not be easily refuted without an independent oversight or an enquiry. Enquiry into findings of fact will pave way for clarity and dispensation of fair trial ensuring justice which is seen to be done in future.

We hope our representations are given due weight in the interest of public in order to promote rule of law, justice and true accountability of the forces and in order to fill the gaps between ancient civilizations who are at a crossroad to mend fences and be friends for the greater good of mankind and for the sake of humanity.

U.S. judge orders release of Guantanamo detainee

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A federal judge ordered on Monday that a man accused of having ties to some of the hijackers in the September 11, 2001, attacks, be released from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


A guard tower of Camp Delta is seen at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba September 4, 2007.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi of Mauritania was described in the report of the 9/11 Commission that investigated the hijacked plane attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon as “a significant al Qaeda operative” who helped arrange for the Hamburg cell members to travel to Afghanistan for training.

The ruling by Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordering Slahi’s release from the controversial prison for foreign terrorism suspects, was classified.

A declassified version, with details of the judge’s decision, is expected to be released later. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said the agency “was reviewing the decision.”

The ruling came as President Barack Obama’s administration has been struggling to close the Guantanamo prison. Obama has argued that anti-American militants have used it as a recruiting tool for their causes.

Some detainees are expected to be prosecuted, while others have been cleared for release, although the administration has had some trouble finding places to send them.

Obama officials have said that detainees who still pose a threat but win release through the courts could still be held under the Authorization of Use of Military Force that the U.S. Congress approved in 2001. The administration could also appeal the ruling.

In his habeas corpus petition in 2008 seeking release from the Guantanamo prison, his lawyers argued Slahi had been subject to harsh interrogation techniques authorized by then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

WELL-KNOWN TO INTELLIGENCE FIGURES

In 1999, Slahi was well known to U.S. and German intelligence officials, although they did not know he was in Germany at the time, according to the 9/11 report.

He was approached by a few individuals interested in fighting in Chechnya, including two of the hijackers on September 11, and Ramzi Binalshibh, the roommate of a third hijacker, Mohamed Atta, the report said.

Instead, Slahi recommended they go to Afghanistan for training. They took his advice, met various al Qaeda members there and the plot began to take shape, the report said, citing intelligence and interrogations.

Slahi said he turned himself in to authorities in Mauritania weeks after the 2001 attacks and was taken to Jordan where he was interrogated for several months before being sent to Afghanistan and then to the U.S. prison in Cuba, according to transcripts of his American military tribunal proceedings.

During those proceedings, he also said he had been to Afghanistan in the early 1990s, received weapons training, and had been a member of al Qaeda, although he said he broke ties when he left the country in 1992, according to the transcript.

A fatal attraction

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By: Momin Iftikhar Momin

The February 26 attack by a suicide team on a guest room and hotel complex, frequented by Indian officials and workers in the fashionable quarters of Kabul has brought into full glare the dilemmas confronted by the Indian strategic planners overseeing the Afghanistan operations. The issues at stake are the raising of the Indian military profile in Afghanistan and rationalising the political cost for civilian and military casualties that are inevitable to rise as the strategy is proceeded with in earnest. Opportunities beckon; the US is set on a deadline of rolling back its military deployment within five years starting from 2011 and its allies would be dashing for the exit door in an even shorter timeframe. Filling the military vacuum by sending in forces fulfils the ultimate Indian desire of landing a pincer on Pakistan’s western flank but the costs, such an investment could incur, could be staggering.

A measure of the pain that may be confronted was starkly laid out by the Indian military casualties sustained during the latest Kabul attack. Among the total 17 deaths Indian share stood at six; a toll that included two Indian officers of the major rank, an Indo-Tibetan Border Police constable and an embassy staffer from Kandahar Consulate, who, despite attempts to conceal his identity was in all probability a senior RAW operator. That is not all!

In addition to the four casualties inflicted upon the Indian military establishment in Afghanistan, there were six injured military men of unspecified rank that were carried home by the IAF’s Boeing 737-200 aircraft, expeditiously dispatched in the wake of attack. There are no details in the media regarding the identity of these injured army persons or the tasks they were performing in the risk-laden environs of Kabul, but it is manifest that the threat to Indian military-intelligence presence in Afghanistan is escalating. The latest attack was third in a series of bombings targeting the Indian presence in Kabul. In July 2008, a suicide bomber rammed a car full of explosive into the entrance to the Indian Embassy killing more than 50 people including the Defence Attaché. In October 2009, a suicide bomber blew himself up near the Indian Embassy extracting a toll of 17.

The perception that the threat to the security of Indian presence in Afghanistan is mounting, is not lost on the planners in the South Block. The hard reality of a strategic failure in Afghanistan, after an investment of almost a decade following the 9/11, is beginning to stare India in the face.

The terrorism card, so successfully played by India in defining the terms of negotiations with Pakistan has failed to stick in Afghanistan. Credibility of the Indian vision of a politico-military balance in Afghanistan has come to be frequently questioned by the US military commanders. There is a growing awareness that dependence on India has been a major reason for landing the US in the quagmire of Afghanistan by clouding its judgment with faulty premises and engineered intelligence. The US commanding general in Afghanistan has obliquely pointed out to the folly of following the Indian urgings. In his assessment of the situation submitted to President Barack Obama in August 2009, General Stanley McChrystal warned that India’s growing influence in the country could “exacerbate regional tensions” and encourage “counter measures” by Pakistan.

Afghanistan has become a test case for India in its attempts at power projection in the region. To circumvent the geographical barriers imposed by the Pakistani landmass, India has invested heavily in building the 218km Zaranj-Delaram Highway to link Southern Afghanistan with the Iranian port city of Chah Bahar. This enables India to bypass Pakistan and transport goods and equipment from Iran to Kabul and across Afghanistan. By committing $1.2 billion towards building infrastructure, India has become a major donor in a war ravaged Afghanistan. There are around 5,000 Indian personnel who have arrived in Afghanistan to engage in the reconstruction effort. Following up the Indian significant presence and taking advantage of the excuse provided by their security concerns, India has inducted around a battalion of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel in Afghanistan. Moreover, to test waters for enhancing the military profile, India has started sending military doctors and education instructors in Afghanistan. The two Indian Army majors killed in the latest Kabul blasts belonged to these two categories.

Despite setbacks, the ambition of placing boots on ground has not lost traction with the hawkish strategic quarters in India. Former Indian Army Chief, General Shankar Roy Chaudhry, has described the military involvement in Afghanistan as “a war of necessity.” General Deepak Kapoor, too, has argued that that the Indian military presence in Afghanistan could give it some strategic depth against Pakistan; saying the Indian military presence in Afghanistan could be used to squeeze Pakistan. C Raja Mohan, a prominent Indian analyst, has expressed similar thoughts. “Why is India’s contribution to Afghan security so low? If countries so far from Afghanistan – like Canada and Australia – have deployed troops there, what is holding back Delhi, such an important neighbour and economic partner of Kabul?” he argues. Sushant K Singh, editor of a strategic affairs journal Pragati, recently wrote: “An Indian military involvement in Afghanistan will shift the battle ground away from Kashmir and the Indian mainland” recommending that the Indian military should operate independently in Afghanistan.

But much lies betwixt the cup and the lip. The envisioned Indian strategy to curtail the Pakistani influence in Afghanistan, envelop it (Pakistan) from the west and find ingress into the energy rich Central Asian Republics lies in tatters. Indian perspective and the intelligence upon which the US has relied so much stands discredited and discarded. It has taken eight long years for the US to know the ropes and finally acknowledge that Indian presence and ambitions, particularly those dreaming of a military presence in Afghanistan are a recipe for grand chaos and disaster.

The Indian developmental work in Afghanistan stands out as a masquerade to screen her naked ambition for dominance in Afghanistan which is unacceptable to the Pashtun majority. Indian presence, seeking to alter the flow of history and tradition, is bound to result into a backlash. In case the Indian administration dares to land a military contingent into Afghanistan, its disastrous foray into Sri Lanka with Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in 1987 shall certainly appear to be much milder in comparison.