Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pakistan and USA destabilizing forces

Zardari Claims Afghanistan is Destabilizing Pakistan, But the Reverse is True

April 11th, 2011 5:43 pm ET by Michael Hughes

Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari claimed in a Guardian interview on Sunday that the war in Afghanistan has stymied his noble efforts to establish a stable, functioning and prosperous democracy -- sentiments that strike one as being duplicitous, if not demented, considering Pakistan's role in both the war's origin and its duration.

As Zardari veneered reality and tried to place the onus elsewhere as to why Pakistan is considered one of the most failed states on earth, members of the Afghan Taliban leadership council, also known as the Quetta Shura, were sitting snug in some safe house (or cave) under the protection of Pakistan's spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

It's hard to dodge the self-indicting evidence found in the group's moniker alone -- it being named after a city in Pakistan and all. Then again, the only ones that deny the world's worst kept secret, that the ISI is aiding, abetting and providing sanctuary for the Taliban -- are usually members of the ISI.

Not to mention the most lethal of Taliban affiliates -- the Haqqani Network -- has been holed up in North Waziristan for the past decade with the Pakistani military's implicit approval. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has begged Pakistani leadership to force these terrorists out of their safe havens on the Afghan border -- all to no avail. Strategists believe this to be one of the key reasons this war will never end.

But Pakistan culpability doesn't stop with simply supporting the Taliban, for they helped establish the movement itself during the 1990s. To validate this, one need go no further than Mr. Zardari who told NBC News in 2009 that the CIA and ISI, in league, created the Taliban.

The history of the problem runs further back and far deeper still. The Taliban were an outgrowth of the mujahideen -- jihadists funded by the CIA via the ISI during the 1980s to fight the evil Soviet empire. After the Soviet retreat, these mujahideen "freedom fighters" became the very warlords that divided and terrified Afghanistan as it spiraled into civil war, moral decay and chaos, which led to conditions ripe for the rise of The Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The fact Pakistan created and currently supports the Taliban forces one to ask Mr. Zardari: "Who is destabilizing who?"

The reason Pakistan is unstable has nothing to do with Afghanistan. Pakistan is unstable because of Zardari and his civilian government's complete lack of leadership -- a lack of moral fiber and weakness that has allowed army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to become the most powerful man in Pakistan.

As a result, a diminutive percentage of the Pakistani budget is allocated to education and social services while a gross amount subsidizes Pakistan's nuclear program driven by the military's obsession to prepare for the war of all wars against India.

This obsessive compulsion has also driven the establishment and fostering of a number of extremist groups, from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) to the Haqqani Network, which are referred to in ISI parlance as "anti-Indian assets." Unfortunately, these groups have become the enemies within and have killed more Pakistanis than they have any other enemies -- real or fancied -- over the past 10 years. They have also initiated a proxy war against India within Afghanistan -- supplying us with more evidence that Pakistan is the one guilty of spreading instability

Zardari is a case study in poor leadership, made apparent when he fled his homeland last summer on a diplomatic boondoggle -- replete with hotel stays of $11,000 per night -- in the midst of the biggest natural disaster Pakistan has ever faced when monsoon floods covered one-fifth of the country, killed thousands and negatively impacted 20 million people.

As the caterwauls of the dying floated from flood waters in Nowshera, Mr. Zardari sipped tea with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the Chequers country retreat in Buckinghamshire. Even worse, this clueless elitist had the gall to swing by his family's chateau in France, indicating that he is either void of soul or commonsense. He might as well have gone the distance in completely filling the role of the unsympathetic figurehead by going on record as saying: "Let them eat cake."

Pakistani leadership is to blame for not only the country's security issues but its economic woes as well. As Pakistani defense planners stupidly try to keep pace with its neighboring enemy, Pakistan's economic performance has fallen way behind India's. Only 2% of Pakistanis pay income tax -- a situation made all the more exasperating by the fact that a multitude of government officials, landed elite and rich industrialists pay zero in taxes each year.

As a result, Pakistan's revenues remain among the lowest in the world and now Pakistan will have to survive off U.S. largesse and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Calculating that they are too strategically important, Pakistan has decided to forego reform in the belief the international community will come through with support.

Because the bulk of foreign aid is tied to U.S. and NATO security objectives, incessant war will indirectly fund the Pakistani state indefinitely. Yet private foreign aid organizations are becoming more reluctant to fill the gap and invest in areas like education, especially those burnt by corrupt Pakistani politicians who have siphoned off funds.

Meanwhile, as an anemic near-bankrupt government is unable to provide basic civil services, hard-line mosques and militant groups fill the vacuum by providing education, health care and efficient justice, while winning the hearts and minds of future radicals.

So, instead of blaming Afghanistan, it's time for Pakistani leaders to look in the mirror and take responsibility for their own internal security issues. In fact, Pakistan's role as incubator of transnational terrorism has made it more than simply a regional danger -- it now threatens global stability as well.

CIA drone kills 40 civilians in Pakistan, fuels already-simmering extremism

    * March 18th, 2011 2:54 am ET by Michael Hughes

A U.S. Predator drone missile strike killed up to 40 innocent civilians in Pakistan's tribal area on Thursday, outraging Pakistani government and military officials. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the "irrational" attack and said it will "only strengthen [the] hands of radical and extremist elements."

Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald, two renowned experts on Afghanistan, see this as yet another illustration of waning American power, reminiscent of another empire that tried to once dominate the region.

Gould and Fitzgerald have authored two books on Afghanistan and have written extensively about the CIA's covert drone program - which they refer to as "extrajudicial executions". Shortly after today's incident, the couple said to me:

"The US and Pakistani military are walking a very thin line that has been tested before but has never been under such pressure. Like the British before them, the US is no longer the overwhelming authority in South Asia but continues to act as if it is. The Cold War monologue still reigns supreme in Washington but continues to fail when faced up against the new and very hard realities of resolving its legacy inherited from the British."

Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was also irate, denouncing the act as a complete violation of human rights and one which hinders their efforts to eliminate terrorism. According to, it was a rare public statement by Kayani - the first during his second term in office. Kayani also said in his statement:

"It is highly regrettable that a jirga [meeting] of peaceful citizens including elders of the area was carelessly and callously targeted with complete disregard to human life. It has been highlighted clearly that such aggression against people of Pakistan is unjustified and intolerable under any circumstances."

The timing of American negligence couldn't have been worse, coming one day on the heels of the controversial release of CIA operative Raymond Davis from detention in Lahore for killing two Pakistani men, freed on account of diplomatic immunity. Yet, some are now alleging the U.S. paid the victims' families millions of dollars in "blood money" to rescue Davis. Protestors were burning American flags in the streets already, and the drone strike has now added fuel to the fire - literally.

What is amazing is the degree to which the drone program has been intensified under the Obama administration – a program that now dwarfs the one started under Bush. There have been roughly 180 drone strikes in Pakistan since Obama took office, more than four times the number that occurred during Bush's eight years, according to the New America Foundation.

Gould and Fitzgerald assert in their recently published book, Crossing Zero: The Afpak War At The Turning Point of American Empire, that the intensification of the "death from above" strategy under President Obama is causing the U.S. to not only lose the war, but its very identity along with it.

The authors explain how the Durand line, the contentious border that separates Afghanistan and Pakistan, is referred to by the military and intelligence community as "Zero line". And the Obama administration, by "crossing Zero" and accelerating the CIA's illegal secret war in Pakistan, has violated America's values and principles.
Dead soldiers USZ USA special forces in Afghanistan

Afghanistan morphs into shadow war between Taliban and U.S. 'hunter-killers'

    * April 7th, 2011 4:40 am ET by Michael Hughes

The conflict in Afghanistan has devolved into a shadow war pitting what the U.S. calls "hunter-killers" from Delta Force, SEAL Team Six and the Rangers against militants from the Taliban and its affiliates, military officials told the National Journal.

The Pentagon has been generally quiet about their shift in strategy, as they insert elite commando units on the ground in anticipation of the withdrawal of conventional forces from Afghanistan set to begin mid-summer.

During his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in late March General David Petraeus did allude to upping the tempo of targeted raids, pointing out that, "In a typical 90-day period, precision operations by U.S. special-mission units and their Afghan partners alone kill or capture some 360 targeted insurgent leaders."

Maj. Wesley Ticer, a spokesman for the military's Special Operations Command, estimated that there are about 7,000 Special Forces operatives in Afghanistan at the moment, a 50 percent spike from a couple years ago.

Petraeus wants to drive the Taliban to the negotiating table by killing enough militants, which many experts believe is a futile effort, considering the Afghan people absorbed over 1 million casualties during the jihad against the Soviet Union during the 1980s.

Petraeus's approach is based on the model he used in Iraq in conjunction with General Stanley McChrystal, who led Special Forces at the time— a paradigm they believe brought Iraq back from the brink of civil war by killing and capturing thousands of Shiite and Sunni extremists.

One military official reported that the ISAF has launched five times the number of targeted raids in recent months with Special Forces operatives mounting nearly more than six strikes per day against militants.

ISAF officials also indicated the ongoing strikes in the AfPak border region have made substantial progress against the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network by disrupting their ability to plan new attacks and resupply militants inside Afghanistan.

Not to mention, the pressure brought on by these raids has created tension between different echelons within the insurgency, as Taliban foot soldiers grow weary of risking their lives in Afghanistan while their commanders live comfortably in Pakistan hideaways.

However, amidst claims of progress made against the insurgency in Afghanistan, the Obama administration reported on Tuesday that the Taliban movement has gained strength on the Pakistani side of the border.

The Pakistan army's major clearing operations have repeatedly failed, according to the White House report, which concluded that "There remains no clear path toward defeating the insurgency in Pakistan."

However, the assessment also highlighted alarming trends beyond deteriorating security conditions in Pakistan's tribal agencies, noting how in recent weeks the Taliban successfully carried out more suicide bombing missions in Afghanistan against "soft targets", such as army recruiting centers, government buildings and market places, which led to a spike in civilian casualties. According to the report:

"The shift in the Taliban's greater use of murder and intimidation tactics reflects an insurgency under the pressure of a more substantive coalition military campaign, particularly with the full complement of surge forces in place," the report says. "That said, there are also indications that the Taliban remains confident of its strategy and resources, and heavy fighting is expected to resume this spring."

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posted by u2r2h at 2:39 PM


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