Monthly Archives: February 2011

Oman Secret meeting on ‘Davis’: Mullen woos Kayani to bridge ISI CIA rift

The American military publication “Stars and Stripes” revealed the story that “Several of the most senior leaders of the U.S. military, the Afghanistan War, and the Pakistani armed forces held a daylong secret meeting Wednesday at a secluded luxury resort along the Omani shores of the Persian Gulf.

The high level meeting confirmed that the US Military still needs Pakistan and is not willing to give up the relationship. While the State Department is going about canceling meetings with Pakistan, at the very time that the meetings would be fruitful in resolving the issues– the US military is doing the right thing and keeping the Pakistanis engaged. The three ring circle being run by Ms. Clinton and Mr. Munter have all but destroyed the US relationship. Things got so bad, that President Obama had to send Senator Kerry to try to mend relations.

Stars and Stripes reports that that the meeting as “very candid and cordial, and very productive discussions.””–euphemism for tough and business-like atmosphere. Those who attended, was a virtual “Who’s Who” of the US and Pakistani Military leadership.

It is amazing the that Big Elephant was absent from the conference room. General Shuja Pasha the head of the Pakistani ISI was not present in the meeting. The CIA was also absent from this high powered meeting. The news reports about a rift between the CIA and the ISI seem to be real. The relations between the two spy agencies have deteriorated dramatically since November, when Wikileaks confirmed that large numbers of U.S. special operations forces had been operating on the ground inside Pakistan’s borders. There are news reports that the Pakistan Embassy has issued more than 10,000 visas to Americans. The News, one of Pakistan’s largest newspapers is reporting that the Pakistan Embassy is under scrutiny for issuing more than 400 visas in a single day. The Washington Post says “The ISI is now scouring thousands of visas issued to U.S. employees in Pakistan. The ISI official said Davis’ visa application contains bogus references and phone numbers. He said thousands of visas were issued to U.S. Embassy employees over the past five months following a government directive to the Pakistan Embassy in Washington to issue visas without the usual vetting by the interior ministry and the ISI. The same directive was issued to the Pakistan embassies in Britain and the United Arab Emirates, he said.”

In bombshell revelations, the WP story confirms what the Pakistani press has been reporting “Within two days of receiving that directive, the Pakistani Embassy issued 400 visas and since then thousands more have been issued, said the ISI official. A Western diplomat in Pakistan agreed that a “floodgate” opened for U.S. Embassy employees requesting Pakistani visas.  The ISI official said his agency knows and works with “the bona fide CIA people in Pakistan” but is upset that the CIA would send others over behind its back. For now, he said, his agency is not talking with the CIA at any level, including the most senior.”

  • “Post-incident conduct of the CIA has virtually put the partnership into question”…
  • “It is hard to predict if the relationship will ever reach the level at which it was prior to the Davis episode,”
  • “The onus of not stalling this relationship between the two agencies now squarely lies on the CIA.”
  • they have to start showing respect, not belittling us, not being belligerent to us, not treating us like we are their lackeys.” ISI

The Washington Post is reporting the ISI is ready to split with the CIA. One of the world’s most powerful spy agencies has now stopped all cooperation with the CIA. “Such a move could seriously damage the U.S war effort in Afghanistan, limit a program targeting al-Qaida insurgents along the Pakistan frontier, and restrict Washington’s access to information in the nuclear-armed country.”

The Washington Post reveals that “The CIA repeatedly has tried to penetrate the ISI and learn more about Pakistan’s nuclear program. The ISI has mounted its own operations to gather intelligence on the CIA’s counterterrorism activities”.

To make matters worse, two CIA contractors who were involved in the vehicular homicide of  a Pakistani civilian have been spirited out of Pakistan by the US Embassy. The contractors can still be sued in a Civilian Court. Pakistani Courts have demanded that the US spies be returned and tried for murder.



“We the people…”

By: Humayun Gauhar 

“Listen America: You are agog. You don’t understand what’s going on. Why China has you by the throat. Why your neatly crafted world is unravelling. Why, why, why… It’s time to wake up, time to learn lessons. Time to pull your head out of the sand.

Consider the first three words of your Declaration of Independence – “We the people…” They apply not just to your people; they apply to all humanity. We  too have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 
“Why do people hate us so?” you wonder in genuine bewilderment. “Why, after we have given more money to the world than any country ever has? Our hegemony  has been consensual, not coercive.” Consensus with our rapacious    ruling elite in thrall of you, cloned by the British colonizer to be his foreman, mentally chained to all things western, is the worst form of coercion.

“They envy our way of life and wish to destroy it.” Who is ‘they’?

‘They’ is the wretched of the earth, the teeming billions that you few lord over. ‘They’ is ‘people’, not just Muslims, though you have been brainwashed into believing that this is only a Muslim predilection. The awakenings amongst the Arabs are not about political Islam or political systems: they are about economics and suffocation, to loosen the stranglehold of your satraps and henchmen around their throats. Speak to ordinary people anywhere in the world and you will find that the majority, except perhaps their ruling elite and the Israelis, harbors some degree of dislike or mistrust of you. Ask yourself: “Is everyone mad, or are we alienated from reality?”

You retort: “Then why do they want to come to our country?” For precisely the same reason that you went to America and decimated the natives: for economic advantage. That is why colonizers got into our countries, not because they love us. We, on the other hand, come in peace. Let me help you recall the sonnet written by Emma Lazarus that is placed inside the pedestal of your Statue of Liberty.

‘Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, 
With conquering limbs astride from land to land; 
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand 
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame 
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name 
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand 
Glows worldwide welcome; her mild eyes command 
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. 
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she 
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’ 

How far you have have strayed from your ideals? Stop fooling yourself. Get certain things straight. No one envies your way of life. We actually wish we could also have some of the good things that you do. You prevent us from getting them by supporting unpopular rulers and inept governments to whom you give endless loans that you know will be stolen and misapplied and never repaid. We end up indebted to the gills, our future mortgaged forever. So wrong and thoughtless are you about debt that you have even mortgaged the future of your own children. Every newborn American is presented with a debt of over $43,500. Is that a good present to give your children?

Get another thing straight: we don’t hate you; we hate your governments’ policies that impact us adversely. We like and admire Americans. You are amongst the easiest people to get along with. We who have many American friends will vouch that they are good friends. You are open, welcoming, voluble and easy to break the ice with. 
There are many things about you that we admire. Your Declaration of Independence is one of the finest pieces of writing by Man. “We the people…” says it all, underlining the paramountcy of humanity. We admire your constitution and cherish its ideals more than you do, for you have started taking them for granted. When we are critical of you it is because we want those same values and ideals for ourselves, but your country’s policies won’t let us have them. You have no right to stop us from getting them.

We admire your exceptionalism, your huge knowledge bank, the strides you have made in all branches of science, particularly in surgery and genetics. Why, just the mapping of nearly the entire human genome is mind boggling, as are your plans to build colonies on moons and planets and tear the skies and make contact with intelligent life in other galaxies.

But don’t protect one country at the cost of the many. Stop meddling in our affairs. Don’t support rulers that are odious. Stop lecturing us and foisting your systems down our throats. Instead, encourage us to forge a democracy of our own that will work for us, just like you did,. You did not ape your former colonizers. Why must we?

Stop listening to fear mongers. Osama Bin Laden doesn’t represent either Islam or the Muslim world. He is your creation. The Middle East is not going fundamentalist. If you help craft an equitable solution to the Israeli and Kashmir disputes, not least because you and the British created them, you will find that most Muslim freedom struggles that you call ‘terrorism’ will go away. As the world’s premier power, it is not only for your own good, it is your duty that suffers no dereliction. If the Palestinians get a viable state the Arabs will ensure Israel’s security. If the Kashmiris get their UN sanctioned right of self determination, India will get  no problems from Pakistan. Once a viable Palestine comes into being, my advice to the Arabs would be: “Israel is there. Now get over it.” After the Kashmiris get their right of self-determination, my advice to India would be: “Pakistan is there. Move on.” It is unnatural for us to be enemies.

We are not so stupid not to know that peace brings incredible dividends: what we are concerned with is that those dividends must be equitably shared.

I hope you don’t think I am being patronising. We too need to learn lessons, even more than you do. My hope is that we will all learn our lessons together for the betterment of the only world we have, to share equitably for the sake of our future generations. That is the imperative.  Good luck to us all.

(The writer is a political analyst & columnist).

NOTE:This is a cross post.


Pity the Nation…That Needs Heroes

AUTHOR: This article has been posted in “Therearenosunglass’s_.A weordpress weblog of Peter Chamberlain. This is a cross post.

Two mutilated bodies of Baloch political workers — Mehboob Wadela of the Baloch National Movement (BNM) and Rehman Arif of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) — were found in Gwadar district on Wednesday. Mr Wadela went missing in April 2010 from Karachi while Mr Arif was abducted four months ago. On the one hand the number of disappeared Baloch keeps increasing with every passing day while on the other hand the bullet-riddled bodies of the ‘missing’ Baloch people keep appearing in every nook and corner of Balochistan. In its recent report on Balochistan, Amnesty International (AI) called on the government to “immediately provide accountability for the alarming number of killings and abductions in Balochistan attributed to government forces in recent months”. According to the information compiled by AI, “In the last four months, at least 90 Baloch activists, teachers, journalists and lawyers have disappeared or been murdered, many in ‘kill and dump’ operations…Their bullet-ridden bodies, most bearing torture marks, have been recovered across Balochistan.” This report should have raised alarm bells in the power corridors but as is usual in this province’s case, our ruling elite has chosen to stay quiet.

Balochistan may be the largest province of Pakistan but it is also the province that has suffered the most in the last six decades. The Baloch were alienated right from the beginning when Balochistan was forcefully annexed to Pakistan. The state could have made things better but it chose not to. The powerful military establishment, which is mostly dominated by Punjabis, created further trouble by conducting military operations in Balochistan on a number of occasions. During Musharraf’s regime, the woes of the Baloch increased manifold after he launched another military operation just to satisfy his ego when rockets were fired in protest at his arrival in Kohlu. He publicly vowed to take revenge and created a parallel government in the province by deploying the Frontier Corps (FC) there. Since then there has been no looking back. Nawab Akbar Bugti’s assassination by the military forces was ‘celebrated’ by General (retd) Musharraf. When the PPP government came to power in 2008 and Musharraf was later ousted as the president, the people of Balochistan thought that some relief might come their way but it was not to be. Despite the NFC Award and the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package, the condition of the Baloch still remains the same. Thousands of Baloch are missing and their families are still waiting for justice. Previously, only the Baloch separatists were targeted by the military establishment but now even moderate Baloch nationalists are not being spared. Targeting the moderate Baloch nationalists is a dangerous trend and could lead to grave consequences for the federation because it will increase extreme views and separatist sentiment. The democratically elected government remains powerless while the powerful establishment calls the shots.

The Baloch have only been asking for their rights all these years. Our state has failed to address their grievances. By refusing to give in to their just demands and killing the Baloch people left, right and centre, the state has not done any favour to either the federation or Balochistan. We must not forget what happened back in 1971 when West Pakistan refused to address the grieva nces of East Pakistan. It is hoped that we will not make the same mistake again. It is time that the government talks to all Baloch leaders, those in exile and those in Pakistan. Unless and until a political solution is reached, the Baloch will not give up armed insurgency. The Baloch have suffered enough. It is time to bring back peace in the lives of the people of Balochistan.

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American Media invades Pakistan

US to spend $50 million on media in Pakistan
By Ibrahim Sajid Malick

The Obama administration plans to spend nearly $50 million on Pakistani media this year to reverse anti-American sentiments and raise awareness of projects aimed at improving quality of life, confirms a Washington insider. 

After the Kerry-Lugar Bill debacle, the Obama administration had struggled with the idea of branding aid and many within the State department and the USAID had argued that identifying projects may backfire. 

By announcing that a school was built and is being maintained partly because of the aid received from America you can alienate people, said someone who had proposed not branding the aid. 

The US Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke believes that a substantial amount of monies spent on media- especially private TV channels will reduce tension and may even bring Pakistan-US relations back on the right path. 

Senator John Kerry, the main architect of Kerry-Lugar bill also supports the idea of claiming credit for all the good work being done to improve infrastructure, energy and education, said a source in Senators office.

Reuters today reported that the Obama administration has sent lawmakers a plan for funding water, energy and other projects. Report said the US intends to spend $1.45 billion of earmarked for the Kerry-Lugar bill in fiscal 2010.

The trust deficit had surged after a well intended aid package focused to uplift Pakistans civilian society was trashed by a section of Pakistani media. Interviews with diplomatic sources in Washington, D.C. and media coverage of the KLB debacle had demonstrated growing frustration of the Obama administration.

Although American officials publicly praise military operation in South Waziristan, in private they sing a different tune; their assessment of alignment is rather pessimistic. Stories leaked to media consistently allege that al-Qaeda leadership is still enjoying safe haven in Pakistan.

Pakistan-U.S. relations have not been this tenuous before, and the Obama administration is frustrated with the outcome of the Kerry-Lugar bill. No one had anticipated such negativity, said an American official who did not want to be identified. We thought Pakistanis [would] celebrate the passage of this bill. This is what we were told by representatives of Pakistani government. 

Pakistani government representatives from President Zardari to Foreign Minister Qureshi and Ambassador Hussain Haqqani further down the chain had assured the Americans that Pakistanis would be jubilant; KLB was suppose to heal all wounds, rectify all wrongs and erase memories of the past from the consciousness of the masses. 

The Obama administration has shared their plan to sponsor high impact projects and communicate the value of these projects using local media.

Voice of America, a radio and TV platform that speaks for the government of the US already has a tie-up with Geo TV and now they have aligned with Express TV as well. 

The Obama administration plans to help Pakistans democratic government meet budget shortfalls and deliver services to a population increasingly angry about economic and security troubles. As the funding builds the capacity of the government to provide basic services, the US sponsored Pakistani media will raise awareness and a build a brand for America, our sources have confirmed.

(Ibrahim Sajid Malick is a Pakistani-American writer, technologist, and social entrepreneur. He has been writing on Pakistani society and politics since 1986 when he joined the Daily News in Karachi as a reporter. Since than he has held several media, communications, and technology positions for organizations large and small).

NOTE : This is a cross post.

Sounding the Death Knell of U.S. Global Dominance

By: Michael Hughes  

Pandemic upheaval against America’s most preferred despots in the Mideast and North Africa, military overextension in Central Asia and economic stagnation have threatened to split asunder the hegemonic shield U.S. planners designed during the early bright of the Cold War, including policies that led to the rise of anti-American sentiment and violent pan-Islamic jihadism.

Reminiscent of the “Evil Empire’s” sudden collapse in 1989, grassroots democracy movements are spreading at a frightening pace overseas, perhaps signaling an American Berlin Wall-type moment in terms of dominating its “far abroad”, as Tom Engelhardt suggested recently in the Asia Times:

Today, “people power” is shaking the “pillars” of the American position in the Middle East, while – despite the staggering levels of military might the Pentagon still has embedded in the area – the Obama administration has found itself standing by helplessly in grim confusion.
As a spectacle of imperial power on the decline, we haven’t seen anything like it since 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down. Then, too, people power stunned the world. It swept like lightning across the satellite states of Eastern Europe, those “pillars” of the old Soviet empire, most of which had (as in the Middle East today) seemed quiescent for years.

It was an invigorating time. After all, such moments often don’t come once in a life, no less twice in 20 years. If you don’t happen to be in Washington, the present moment is proving no less remarkable, unpredictable, and earthshaking than its predecessor.

He also claims America’s outlook immediately after the Soviet fall is also an underlying cause of current woes, as U.S. leaders presumed an unrivaled pax-Americana was on the horizon. One will no doubt hear the word “conspiratorial” bandied about to describe Engelhardt’s linking of these events and daring to assert the U.S. “mined its own positions” during the Cold War — policies for which they are now paying for dearly.

However, Engelhardt’s premise is not based on machinations of ivory tower leftists but derived from historical government documents produced during the early days of WWII, such as the War and Peace Studies Project of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), where government officials, corporate leaders and foreign policy experts planned to establish a “world order” dominated by the United States — a set of principles that have shaped U.S. policy ever since.

These planners outlined a strategy to “achieve military and economic supremacy for the United States within the non-German world”. The planners also said that the U.S. “must cultivate a mental view toward world settlement after this war which will enable us to impose our terms, amounting perhaps to a pax-Americana.” It is no coincidence that the people who designed the aforementioned strategies are the same people who will benefit from them the most — primarily those who are part of corporate-military centers of power.

America’s Cold War Manichean worldview resulted in a CIA coup in Iran during the 1950’s that ousted a democratic regime and replaced it with the Shah, directly leading to the Iranian revolution.

As a result, animus toward the Great Satan spread throughout the entire Muslim world. A classic illustration of the fact that “they” do not hate us because they hate our freedoms, as George W. Bush once postulated — the truth is, they hate our policies.

Cold War strategy and corporate interests forced the U.S. to back tyrants and unpopular monarchs in countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which has fed an ever-burgeoning anti-Americanism that has manifested itself on the Arab street.

Another reason the U.S. is on the verge of losing the Middle East is because of its post-Cold War hubris and cowboy diplomacy, as it flexed unilateral muscle by launching its own excursions, such as the invasion of Iraq. Nobody should be fooled in thinking that Bush’s “democracy agenda” has anything to do with the current Mideast movements because these anti-authoritarian mass uprisings have erupted despite Bush policies, not because of them.

On the economic front, hyperpower arrogance caused the U.S. to aggressively pursue neoliberal globalization, reckless free trade and domestic laissez-faire policies that eventually melted down the global economy in 2008.

Meanwhile the American empire’s defense spending has outpaced economic growth levels, which is amazing considering after World War II the world owed the U.S. a mind-boggling amount of money as the U.S. rescued the European and Japanese economies. Half a century later, America is deep in debt and the “economic supremacy” the U.S. planners had envisioned is at risk, because the U.S. is in jeopardy of being surpassed by an emerging China.

The biggest financial drain on the U.S. economy is the war in Afghanistan, a country that also contributed heavily to Moscow’s economic implosion. Russians likely smirk at this irony, considering the U.S. helped inveigle the Soviets to invade Afghanistan, which was the last thing Moscow wanted to do, per documents rescued from the Politburo after the communist collapse. According to President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, the U.S. wanted to “give Russia its Vietnam”.

Indisputable proof exists that the U.S. fanned the spread of pan-Islamic extremism dating all the way back to the 1950s and 1960s, and helped facilitate the rise of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood because they shared a mutual disdain for the “godless” communists. Through the Asia Foundation — a CIA front — the U.S. funded radical Islamic movements at Kabul University which led to Afghanistan’s traditional moderate version of Islam being replaced by the fundamentalism we see today.

For more than a decade after the 1979 Soviet invasion, the CIA financed the mujahideen who became the warlords that helped Afghanistan spiral into civil war that ultimately made conditions ripe for the rise of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

As a result, violent Islamists have replaced the Soviets as America’s primary adversary, which helps to justify an out-of-control defense budget and the establishment of military bases around the world.

By creating a mission to establish global dominance, the U.S. created a self-fulfilling dialectic that has resulted in nothing but perpetual war, economic malaise and violent extremism. America needs to change course quickly, because as the Taliban movement gains strength and the U.S. loses its grip on the Middle East, the death knell continues to ring – louder and louder.

(The writer  is a journalist and foreign policy strategist for the New World Strategies Coalition (NWSC), a think tank founded by Afghan natives focused on developing political, economic and cultural solutions for Afghanistan. Mr. Hughes is also the Geopolitics Examiner and the Afghanistan Headlines Examiner for

NOTE:This is a cross post.

A Middle East Without America?

By Pat Buchanan   

The fever sweeping the Middle East is now coursing through Libya, Yemen, Iran and Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based.

In all four nations, state violence is being used to crush the rebels, and regime survival hangs on whether security forces and the army stand behind the government or stand aside.

A new Middle East is dawning. What will it look like?

Perhaps the nation to study is Turkey, which has already gone through a democratic and dramatic transformation.

In 2000, Turkey was a reliable U.S. ally, a friend to Israel, an aspiring candidate for membership in the EU. Since then, Turkey has set a different course, welcomed by her people, that has measurably enhanced her prestige.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime is far more Islamic than any Turkish government since the caliphate. He and his Justice and Development Party have effected constitutional reforms to curb the power of the judiciary and military, guardians of the secular state established by Kemal Ataturk in 1923. Scores of generals have been indicted for treason.

Turkey refused President George W. Bush permission to use its territory to invade Iraq. Denied a fast track to membership in the EU, Turkey now looks to the south and east. Relations with Syria have been repaired. Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been welcomed in Istanbul.

To the rage of Hillary Clinton, the Turks and Brazil cut a deal with Iran to transfer half the low-enriched uranium at Natanz out of the country. This was seen as undercutting U.S. policy. When the U.N. imposed the latest sanctions on Iran, Turkey voted no.

“The Turks are out of their lane,” said a U.S. diplomat.

Indeed they are. And as Turkey moves out of America’s orbit, she is moving back into a Muslim world much of which she ruled for centuries. A sure sign is the bristling hostility to Israel, with which Turkey has had close political and military ties.

At Davos in 2009, in a debate with Shimon Peres about the Gaza war, Erdogan shouted at Israel’s president, “You know well how to kill,” stormed out and flew home to a hero’s welcome.

Eight of the nine dissidents shot by Israeli commandos in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla trying to run the blockade were Turks. Erdogan’s backing of the flotilla and condemnation of Israel for a “bloody massacre” made him and Turkey more admired in Gaza than are Iran and Ahmadinejad.

After that first week of demonstrations in Cairo, when Hosni Mubarak announced he would not run again for president, America dithered, but Erdogan declared that Mubarak should resign immediately.

“The (Egyptian) people expect a very different decision from Mubarak,” Erdogan said. “The current administration does not inspire trust so far as the democratic change wanted by the population is concerned.”

Erdogan abruptly canceled his February visit to Egypt.

What, then, are the crucial elements of the new Turkish policy?

First, a new deference and respect for Islam. Second, make Turkey the champion of the causes of the Arab and Muslim masses, foremost among which is the cause of the Palestinian people. Third, defy the United States and denounce Israel.

What the Turks are about has been called “neo-Ottomanism,” a 21st century policy to reclaim the position they held for centuries.

As the British elbowed aside the Ottoman Turks and the Americans shouldered aside the British after Suez, now it is America that appears to be the receding power in the Middle East and Turkey the rising power.

Indeed, the American hour seems to be rapidly approaching its end.

In weeks, President Ben Ali, our man in Tunis, was overthrown. Mubarak, our man in Egypt for 30 years, was overthrown. Hezbollah became the real power in the Lebanese government. The king of Jordan dismissed his prime minister and cabinet. For the first time, voices are speaking against the royal family, especially the king’s wife.

The Palestinian Authority has been discredited by Wikileaks documents revealing the concessions it was prepared to make for a tiny rump state on the West Bank. Benjamin Netanyahu forced President Obama to back down completely from his demands that Israel halt new construction in East Jerusalem and all expansion of settlements on the West Bank. The Middle East peace process is dead.

Our ally, the king of Bahrain, is now under siege. President Saleh of Yemen, our ally against al-Qaida, has been forced to pledge he will not run again in 2013, nor will his son. Pakistan is aflame with anti-Americanism.

By year’s end, all U.S. troops are to be out of Iraq, where the influence of Iran is rising and the man behind the throne is the anti-American Muqtada al-Sadr.

The U.S. press is transfixed by all this, but a question arises: What vital interest of a United States staring at bankruptcy would be imperiled if we got out of the way, stopped fighting these countries’ wars and paying these countries’ bills and let these people determine their own future for good or ill?

(Patrick Joseph “Pat” Buchanan is an American conservative political commentatorauthorsyndicated columnistpolitician andbroadcaster. Buchanan was a senior adviser to American Presidents Richard NixonGerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, and was an original host on CNN‘sCrossfire. He sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1992 and 1996. He ran on the Reform Party ticket in the 2000 presidential election).

Note:This is a cross post from .

Big Prize? “Raymond Davis” is CIA’s acting Chief in Pakistan

This was published on Rupee News
It seems that “Raymond Davis” is singing like a bird.
In a Mad Hatter’s world, all this would  makes sense. The Nation, one of the largest circulation newspapers with a colossal followin in Pakistan is reporting today that “Raymond Davis” is the Central Intelligence Agencies acting head in Pakistan. This may be the biggest spay scandal in the history of the world, bigger than Gary Powell’s U2-crash, and bigger than any other Cold War and WW2 scandal.
Jawad R Awan in a headline story in the Nation describes “Raymond Allen Davis” as the Second-in-Command to the previous station Chief Jonathan Banks. Jon Banks had to leave Pakistan when  he was outed because of  Karim Khan‘s  petition in the court against him. Karim was a resident of North Waziristan. He had  filed an submitted a FIR (First Incident Report)  against the CIA station chief for the killing of Karim’s brother and son in one of the drone attacks.
According to the Nation “Raymond Davis” took over the responsibilities of Jon carrying out all the tasks previously under the domain of his boss, including gathering information for and directing drone attacks. The Nation’s sources confirmed that  one of the main tasks of Davis was to keep CIA network intact in the tribal agencies as well as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). This would explain “Raymond Davis'” multiple trips to the Afghan-Pakistan border.
This story makes a fool out of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ambassador Munter and even President Obama who called Mr. “Davis” “our diplomat”. It is very obvious that the CIA does not qualify for diplomatic immunity. A massive operation to rescue “Davis” cannot be ruled out. Now the petition to move him to Lahore Court begins to make a lot of sense.
If the story is true this is explosive stuff.
It is expected that the US will issue an immediate denial–but then leaks wil begin confirming the story.
Apparently “Davis” is addicted to chewing tobacco (‘Naswar’), a common trait in many Western “Cowboy States like Colorado, where Raymond is from, speaks fluent Pukhto and has complete information about the cultures being practiced in all the provinces. According to the report “Raymond Davis” was “monitoring and assisting other operatives gathering information about religious and right-wing organizations (read Jamat e Islami, JUI etc), especially those who take a sharp line against the US or India”. Apparently the US operative was establishing a local network for the CIA in Pakistan by recruiting the locals through various front organizations, of which some were launched in Pakistan and some from other friendly countries of the US in the western world. This seems like a book out of Bob Woodward’s book “Obama’s Wars“–or an article from Rupee News.
Awan’s sources said that Davis was trying to establish a local CIA network in Southern Punjab. In an apparent rebuttal to the criticism of the ISI, Awan clarified that the  security services were ready to thwart any conspiracy against the country hatched locally or internationally. IN some bombastic rhetoric the article said that “the security agencies always exposed the enemies of the state and averted several threats to the security and integrity of the country”. If the Security Agencies were so proactive, “Raymond” would have been identified a while back. On the other hand, maybe the ISI was giving them enough rope to hang himself with. It is now abundantly clear that Mr. “Davis” was being watched, and the CIAs Anti-Pakistan activities were being monitored closely.
The phone calls of Mr. “Davis”  were monitored which has revealed his true identity–already exposed by a local Colorado News station and then reconfirmed the Guardian and the Telegraph of the UK. US papers have ben admonised and have been told not otu out the true identity of Mr. “Raymond Davis”. According to a  local new channel Davis told his family not to worry about him but only pray for him. He said, “I have committed a mistake, and I have realized it.” According to press reports after talking to his family members on the phone, Davis became sad and didn’t even eat chocolates and drinks the US Consulate sent for him.
If the story in the The Nation is true, this arrest of Mr. Davis will fundamentally transform the US-Pakistani relationship. If true, Mr. Davis will not be released ’till the US stops the CIA activities that Mr. “Davis” was involved in. The US has made many blunders in the wrold. If the Nation’s story is true, this is one of the biggest. This wil make the Iranian Revolution look like a Sunday picnic. By Devine intervention, pure happenstance and orchestrated monitoring, the US and Pakistan have come to the inevitable crossroads. Perhaps Tariq Ali was right when he wrote “Pakistan–in the flightpath of American Power”.

The missing political strategy: Why Obama’s surge is failing in Afghanistan

By: Michael Hughes  

According to a new report by the U.S. Institute of Peace, Making Peace in Afghanistan: The Missing Political Strategy, the U.S.-led military surge is not working and the only way to achieve peace in the region is through a political strategy. And a peace settlement will only be sustainable if it is acceptable to a broad range of Afghan constituencies, is supported by regional actors and is facilitated by a trusted international mediator.

The Taliban Insurgency is Not Subsiding

President Obama’s military surge has only intensified the conflict and expanded it geographically, smashing the notion that military gains have been made by NATO forces. ISAF casualties are currently at all-time highs, up 20% from 2009 and are four times greater than they were in 2005.

Since 2005 the insurgency has exploded from a few thousand fighters to as many as 35,000. The predatory nature of the corrupt Afghan government, U.S.-led night raids and civilian casualties have led to a swelling in enemy ranks – this despite the fact that the Taliban have killed more civilians than coalition forces. Policy analyst Minna Jarvenpaa writes:

Despite such brutality, the insurgency is gaining momentum far beyond the south and southeast, and beginning to enlist non-Pashtun fighters. The map of Afghan government access to districts across the country is steadily diminishing. Many previously stable areas in the north (including Badghis and Faryab provinces), northeast (Kunduz, Baghlan, and Takhar), and central Afghanistan (Kapisa) have become key infiltration routes. The Taliban have delivered night letters—threatening notes left on doorsteps under cover of darkness—even in the central highland region of Hazarajat, until now one of the most stable parts of the country.

External Resources Fuel the Insurgency

Allocating additional funds for development with pressure to spend it quickly to meet security objectives has created a “war and aid economy”. According to the report:

Donor programs delivered in an environment of state weakness, warlordism, racketeering, and rent seeking create conflict and popular disappointment, rather than winning hearts and minds.

Siphoning off U.S. largesse has become a lucrative enterprise for the Afghan political elite. Thus, ending the war is not in their best interests. A network of maligned actors controls the mechanisms of government for personal gain, and instead of promoting stability and good governance, they reap rewards from development and military contracts. A recent U.S. congressional inquiry even found that U.S. taxpayer dollars have indirectly funded the Taliban movement.

Karzai Regime Lacks Commitment to Reform

The lack of genuine interest in reform among the Afghan leadership calls into question NATO’s entire state-building approach. Karzai has abused presidential powers to block reform and has rejected a transparent audit of Kabul Bank after a bailout worth hundreds of millions – a bank whose shareholders include one of Karzai’s brothers and a sibling of the vice-president.

The Karzai regime has alienated the population and eroded the public trust – key factors driving the Taliban’s growth:

The social breakdown and lawlessness that preceded the Taliban takeover is being repeated in many parts of Afghanistan, enabling a comeback in some provinces. In Wardak, the Taliban have set up a parallel administration across the province and people look to the shadow governor, district chiefs, and judges for administration and justice. Unlike official government courts, Taliban courts are known for swift decisions, harsh punishments, and not soliciting bribes.

A counterinsurgency approach, whose premise is based on winning local support, is doomed to failure because the Afghan people do not trust their central government.

Political Settlement

Unfortunately, any sustainable political settlement will likely not be fully resolved for years – but that shouldn’t prevent the development of a process agreeable to all key stakeholders. Most Afghans, for example, will not accept a return to the conditions under Taliban rule and are unwilling to sacrifice human and women’s rights for an uneasy and uncertain peace.

Contrary to the assertions made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier on Friday during a speech at the Asia Society, diplomats should not determine the “red lines” for negotiations on human rights and women’s’ rights issues – rather, the Afghan people should drive the establishment of such parameters ahead of discussions with the Taliban.

Although many international stakeholders are pushing for a quick and easy exclusive peace deal to be struck between the Karzai government and the Taliban, the fractured nature of the insurgency could undermine the Taliban leadership’s ability to deliver a legitimate political settlement.

Any exclusive Karzai – Taliban deal will lead to civil war and the collapse of the Afghan central government after non-Pashtun ministers and much of the army walk out. Plus, there is no evidence to suggest the Quetta Shura is interested in discussing any power-sharing arrangement at this time. And the High Peace Council established and loaded by Karzai is heavily weighted towards the very factional leaders who caused 30 years of mayhem and whose lawless rule made conditions ripe for the Taliban rise to power in the 1990s.

Another problem is the inevitable involvement of Pakistan, whose Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency has deep links with both the Taliban and Haqqani networks and may even participate in meetings of the Quetta Shura, the Taliban leadership council. This makes negotiations more complex because most Afghans, especially northern Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and other minority groups, do not want the Pakistanis to play any role in the process.

The Afghan government and its backers are demanding that the Taliban renounce violence, abandon its alliance with al-Qaeda and agree to abide by the Afghan constitution, while the Taliban want foreign forces to withdraw before discussions commence.

The Taliban will also look for “an expanded role of Islam in national life; power sharing at the provincial and local levels; the release of detainees; and a say in civil service, police, and justice appointments.” Jarvenpaa believes it may be possible to give sharia a more prominent role in law-making without bargaining away fundamental freedoms.

The report also claims that the international community must facilitate dialogue and help structure the process so that what emerges is sustainable, but must learn from previous mistakes:

Given the Afghan government’s testiness about foreign involvement, it will eventually take the United States, as the most powerful actor, to broker agreement over a mediator. The United States itself cannot play this role for lack of impartiality, but whoever is appointed must have U.S. support at the highest level. Successful negotiations will require an exceptionally knowledgeable mediator with a clear plan and the ability to maintain support and coherence among the international actors, as well as sufficient authority to conduct regional diplomacy and bring the parties to a peace conference. This could be a role for a UN mandated envoy, although not for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan; its reputation for impartiality has been weakened among Afghans due to its mandate requiring a close relationship with the Afghan government and its handling of the 2009 elections.

The author believes American-led forces must take a less combat-oriented military posture across the country to create the political space for genuine negotiations. A first step toward talks could be agreeing to a reciprocal and incremental set of confidence-building measures which might include deescalating hostilities, localized cease-fires, prisoner releases, and delisting insurgents from target lists and the UN sanctions list.

For NATO troops to exit by 2014 a political strategy and a peace process must first be in place. The report concludes by underlining that the international community must not become the guarantor of a deal that leads to civil war and greater regional instability. On top of the significant security interests that are at stake, there is a moral obligation to prevent leaving Afghanistan in a condition worse than it was prior to foreign intervention.

(Michael Hughes is a journalist and foreign policy strategist for the New World Strategies Coalition (NWSC), a think tank founded by Afghan natives focused on developing political, economic and cultural solutions for Afghanistan. Mr. Hughes writes regularly for The Huffington Post and his work has appeared in and Ruse the magazine. Michael graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in History).

Note:This is a cross post from

Obama War: How Afghan Conflict has Ramped up in Last Two Years

By: Marcus Baram   

NEW YORK — It was a busy day in Afghanistan: a U.S. airstrike killed at least three people yesterday, including a leader of the Haqqani terrorist network and two other militants in Khost province, according to the Pentagon.

The men were attacked after troops observed several insurgents planting roadside bombs — the unnamed terrorist leader was reportedly responsible for building and trafficking homemade explosives. In addition, four armed men were killed by security forces who were targeting a Taliban bombmaker in Helmand province, in whose Sangin district several Taliban bomb traffickers were detained and security forces found weapons stockpiles of assault rifles, hand grenades and bomb-making materials.

Today marks the second anniversary of President Barack Obama’s first surge of troops into Afghanistan just weeks after taking office, when he authorized the deployment of 17,000 additional forces to the country — at that point, close to a 50-percent U.S. troop increase. Since then, he has approved several more escalations, and the current total of 97,000 U.S. troops in-country is more than double the number stationed there in 2008.

And dramatic activity on Wednesday crystallized some of the developments in the war since that first surge — the dramatic rise in U.S. air strikes, the increased use of improvised explosive devices by Taliban and insurgents and the alarming uptick in U.S. troop deaths and Afghan civilian deaths — amid increasing doubts about the war.

Though some socio-economic measures have improved in the country, from a slightly higher per-capita income to increased school attendance, the small percentage of Afghanis who prefer Taliban rule has more than doubled in the last two years.

The Huffington Post completed a status update of the war in Afghanistan, including conditions in the impoverished country, comparing January 2009 to January 2011. As indicated, some of the statistics reflect available data from the previous year.

U.S. Troops 36,000 97,000 + 169
U.S. Troop Deaths 155 (2008) 499 (2010) + 222
Percent of Troop Deaths Due To IEDs 58 81 + 23
Non-U.S. Troops 31,880 41,983 + 32
Non-U.S. Troop Deaths 140 (2008) 212 (2010) + 51
Afghan Security Forces 170,000 270,000 + 59
Afghan Civilian Deaths 1,798 (2008) 2,412 (2010) + 34
Drone Strikes in Pakistan 33 (2008) 118 (2010) + 258
Opium Production (Hectares) 157,000 (2008) 123,000 (2010) – 22
Per Capita Income $466 (2008) $500 (2010) + 7
Mobile Phone Use (Percent) 22 40 + 18
Children In School (Percent) 50 58 + 8
Afghanis Who View US Presence As Good (Percent) 32 32 0
Afghanis Who Prefer Taliban Rule (Percent) 4 9 + 5

*Marcus Baram is a news editor at the Huffington Post.  This is a cross post from Huffington Post.

Residents of Razed Afghan Village Dispute U.S. Case for Destruction

By Shah Noori and Gareth Porter 

The commander of U.S.-NATO forces in southern Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. James Terry, asserted last month that the homes systematically destroyed by U.S. forces across three districts of Kandahar province as part of Operation Dragon Strike in October and November “were abandoned, empty and wired with ingenious arrays of bombs”.

But in interviews with IPS at the site of the destroyed village of Tarok Kalache, now nothing more than a dusty plain surrounded by orchards, former residents disputed that account of the circumstances surrounding the destruction of their village. 

The residents said that they don’t believe most of their homes had been booby-trapped by the Taliban and that, even after they had evacuated their homes, farmers from the village had continued to tend their properties in and around the village right up to the time the destruction began. 

Beginning on Oct. 6, Tarok Kalache was subjected to bombing by planes and long-range rockets that spread cluster bombs throughout the village, according to Paula Broadwell. Her account of the destruction of the village, based on U.S. military sources, was published in military writer Thomas Ricks’s blog and on her own Facebook page in January. 

Broadwell, who is working on a biography of Gen. David Petraeus, wrote that the village was also razed with Mine Clearing Line Charges, which destroys everything in a 600- metre-long stretch wide enough for a tank. 

Residents told IPS the village was then bulldozed, because the bombing had created huge craters which had to be filled in and leveled off. They said the operation was carried out over an entire month. 

Based on briefings from U.S military sources, Broadwell claimed on her Facebook page in mid-January that the villagers had not really been displaced by the U.S. offensive, because the Taliban had “paid the village Malik [village chief] around June-July to move out of the village”, and the villagers had followed, having “made the judgment call to ‘sell’ the village to the Taliban….” 

But residents of Tarok Kalache told IPS that they had begun leaving their homes when the Taliban began gearing up for a battle with U.S. troops over the village, and that the Taliban had allowed residents to return to check on their houses, and to tend their gardens and orchards in and around the village until the U.S. attack began. 

Haji-Dawoud Shah, a Tarok Kalache resident whose house was destroyed by U.S. troops along with the rest of the 36 houses in the village, said in an interview that he and others had begun to leave only last August, when the Taliban began planting IEDs and preparing for battle. “We realised that one day our children and women would be killed either by IEDs or fighting,” he said. 

But he said residents had returned frequently to the village from Kandahar a few kilometres away to take care of their houses and orchards, and had “left our farmers in the village to take care of the gardens”. 

Another resident of the village, Nik Muhammad, 40, agreed that local people had been able to move in and around the village even after they had left their houses, because the Taliban had opened certain routes for the locals to use safely so they could maintain their gardens and orchards. 

Muhammad said the Taliban let farmers and other people looking after their properties use certain footpaths that were normally seeded with IEDs during the hours of 9 am to 4 pm. 

He explained the Taliban ability to turn IEDs on and off as involving removing and replacing batteries in the IEDS buried in the ground. After 4 pm, he said, they put the batteries back in the IEDS so they were ready for detonation. 

Haji-Abdul Qayoum, 52, from the nearby village of Khisrow Ulla, confirmed that Taliban arrangement with local farmers. When the Taliban anticipated a patrol by U.S. troops during those hours, they told people to evacuate the area, warning that the IEDs were going to be turned on again, according to Qayoum. In some cases people who didn’t get the message were injured by IEDs in the area, he said. 

Specialists on IEDs at the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) at the U.S. Department of Defence have never heard of battery-operated IEDs being used in Afghanistan, according to JIEDDO spokesperson Irene Smith. But in an e- mail to IPS, Smith said the Taliban do use both radio- controlled and command-wired IEDs, either of which would have allowed them to activate and deactivate IEDS buried in certain pathways. 

One resident of Tarok Kalache, Dad Gul, 60, told IPS he was taken back to the pulverised village by ANA and U.S. soldiers 10 days after the end of the U.S. operation. The soldiers told him there had been an IED in his house, and when they got to site of his former home, the Americans pointed to an object lying on the ground and said, “This is the bomb.” 

“Actually it was my pressure cooker,” said Gul. “I grabbed it and told them, ‘This is mine! This is not a bomb!’ ” 

Gul said some of the houses might have had IEDs in them, “but not like Americans say.” 

One of the ANA soldiers who had been listening to an interview with three residents of the village commented, “The Taliban planted IEDs inside houses, so the Americans destroyed them, but people said IEDs were not planted in all of the houses that were bombed.” 

Although 250 labourers from the villages are now employed on U.S-funded cash for work projects, no reconstruction has begun on any of the 36 houses that had stood the village, although work has started on rebuilding the village mosque. 

Hajji Abdul Hamid, a village elder from Tarok Kalache, told IPS he has been offered money to rebuild five of the 14 houses he owned in the village, and that the land for the other nine is to be used for a U.S. Forward Operating Base in the village, for which he will be paid rent. 

Hamid said he is “happy with this deal, if they keep their promise”. But he added, “There is no confidence or trust between us yet, and we doubt whether America will deliver on their promises.” 

Even if the Americans keep their promises, the compensation will be less than 50 percent of losses in Tarok Kalache, Hamid said. But he indicated that so far, only one percent of the villagers’ losses have been compensated. He expects complaints by villagers to continue for a long time. 

“It will take time for people to trust the Americans and to report the activities of the insurgents in the area,” the village elder said. 

Another elder from Tarok Kalache, Hajji Shah Wali, said, “We can’t get very close to the Americans,” because the Americans still suspect that the villagers are Taliban sympathisers. 

The question on the minds of these villagers is whether the Taliban will return in the spring. “If they show up, we won’t feel secure, and people will be reluctant to help the Americans,” Wali said. 

Nik Muhammad said he is concerned that the U.S. will help reconstruct the houses in Tarok Kalache only if the villagers agree to help them fight the Taliban. 

“We will help the Americans, but we can’t take up guns against the Taliban,” he said. “If the Americans and the Afghan government force local people to take up guns against the Taliban, I don’t think people will accept this.” 

(Shah Noori reported from Kandahar. Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006). 

NOTE:This is an IPS Story.