Monthly Archives: September 2011

The History of the Haqqanis


When the US suffers a defeat in Afghanistan, it will need another scapegoat. I stated this nine years ago; I give you one guess which country is a made-to-order scapegoat here? Neither history, nor truth, nor realities are of any significance. All that matters is that there is a readymade scapegoat to be proven guilty by media trial and convicted for its defeat. But Pakistan should be very proud. It has replaced the combined might of China and, the other erstwhile super-power; the USSR.

Is that what we are witnessing now?

Yes; and no. There are perhaps, other undercurrents at play. A scapegoat is definitely required so let’s just move on and view facts, before returning to conclusions and questions.

As a matter of fact, the period following Osama’s execution in Abbottabad has resulted, not only in increased attacks within Pakistan, but also in Kabul, Afghanistan, targeting the allied forces of occupation, so as to emphasize their vulnerability even within Kabul. Merely to list the prominent ones:

  • On May 18th a NATO military convoy came under attack on the Dar-ul-Aman Road in Kabul, close to the National Assembly building.
  • On June 28th, heavily armed individuals entered the Hotel Intercontinental Hotel, in the heart of Kabul.
  • On July 12th, Hamid Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmed Wali, was shot and killed by his own guard.
  • On September 12th, a dozen or so militants engaged the compound of the American Embassy and NATO HQ for about twenty hours, raining down rockets and heavy weapons fire, killing numerous local employees, before they were killed, though a few are believed to have escaped alive.
  • And on September 20th, Burhannuddin Rabbani, former President of Afghanistan and, since October last year, the head of the Afghan High Peace Council, was killed by a suicide bomber in his residence in Kabul.

While the US has accused the Haqqani Group of being responsible for these and other attacks, including the December 2009 attack on CIA’s Forward Operating Base Chapman which killed seven CIA personnel, I will confine myself to discussing the last two listed above, due to which US-Pak relations have plummeted to an all time low.

But before discussing these, a brief historical perspective of Jalaluddin Haqqani is essential

Born 1950 in the province of Paktia, he was 29 years old when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. At a time when traditional Pashtun tribal elders were appointing proxies to lead their tribe in the struggle for freedom, Jalal was just the right age, to lead his own tribe; he soon established himself as a formidable leader. According to Wikipedia, he was cultivated as a “unilateral” (which implies exclusive, not shared with the ISI) source by the CIA. US Congressman Charlie Wilson, responsible for aiding the Afghan Mujahideedn in the 1980s, referred to Jalaluddin as “goodness personified”.

When the Taliban began their expansion, after capturing Kandahar, Hamid Karzai was one of the Taliban Salaars (general)—that’s right, the current Afghan President was a Taliban and Jalaludin was fighting against the Taliban. Only when Kabul fell, in 1996, and Jalal realized that the ISI, backed by the CIA were intent on assisting the Taliban, did he join them.

After 1996, when Osama bin Laden entered Afghanistan, Jalal witnessed the metamorphosis in the Taliban, especially Mulla Muhammed Omer, under the influence of OBL, with dismay, but remained a silent spectator.

When the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and the Taliban disintegrated, Jalal went his own way. Interestingly, 1n 2002, the CIA contacted Jalal to join the post-Taliban setup in Kabul, but Jalal was not prepared to serve under Burhanuddin Rabbani as President and was also wary of being associated with the Tajik and Uzbek dominated “Northern Alliance” which had a stranglehold on US decision making at the time.

Jalal has been accused of having assisted OBL’s escape from his base in Khost to the caves of Tora Bora in 2001; which is possible. He might well have considered himself bound by the tradition of Pashtun hospitality to protect someone within his area. However, the inference drawn from this accusation; that he was/is an Al-Quaida affiliate is blatantly false. Jalal, and his son, Siraj, have been fiercely independent Afghans. Even when he joined the Taliban, he never referred to himself as a Talib.

Hoping that the US would pull out, Jalal waited till 2003/4 before renewing his struggle to free Afghanistan from another foreign invader; the US. In 2006 and again in 2007, Hamid Karzai’s emissaries contacted him, obviously with US blessings, offering him the assignment of Prime Minister, but by that time, Karzai had lost all credibility with the Afghan Pashtun and, not wishing to be tainted, Jalal refused.

In September 2008, he was targeted by an American drone strike, killing 10 others, but he had left. Since then, Jalal and Siraj have flitted across the Durand Line, the de facto Pak-Afghan border, to NWA in Pakistan. However, soon after May this year, the Haqqanis started shifting back to Afghanistan and, while no one can be certain where they are, they are, almost certainly, back in Afghanistan.

The attack on the US Embassy

On September 13th, the US accused the Haqqani Group of being responsible for the attack on its Embassy compound. This was soon followed by accusations of a direct link between the attackers and Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, ISI. Although no evidence of this link between the ISI and the September 12th attackers has been made public, the first hint of evidence provided by the US media was that the attackers were in possession of cartons/bottles of Pakistan-made juice, that’s right; Pakistani juice.

But, of course, that is far from being all. From the cell phones recovered from the dead bodies, US intelligence was able to discover that the attackers had been in constant communication with “their ISI handlers”. Now even a low-tech person like this author is aware that any teen aged hacker can make a cell phone sym, or a laptop, for that matter, talk any language and say anything that he wants it to. However, being low-tech, I am mystified by a rather basic question: having recovered the cell numbers that the attackers were in communication with, how did the CIA establish that these cell numbers belonged to “ISI handlers”?

Does the CIA have a list of all cell numbers of ISI personnel? Or did they call the number and the person who replied began with, “ISI handler here”? Now I have never been in the intelligence business; my only knowledge of how it works is because of years of teaching at the Command and Staff College and the NDU (War Wing). But even a novice “handling” such an operation would procure a fresh SIM under a pseudonym and ensure that he/she was miles distant from his/her base for the duration of the attack, so that even if the call could be traced back, it would not lead to the real location of the handler.

Like I said, I am low tech and therefore, perhaps there is technology available to identify the individual’s affiliation as well. I leave it to my readers to judge.

Being a soldier, however, I am mystified by something else; a subject I am more familiar with: basic security measures. The attackers, reportedly, occupied an under construction fourteen story building which overlooks the US Embassy and the adjacent NATO HQ; a building in close proximity of both. Even to the meanest military mind, it posed an obvious threat for just such an attack and American troops in Afghanistan are obsessed with security; as they should be, considering the number of times it has been breached. How is it possible that there were absolutely no security measures to prevent it?

No sentries posted at the foot of the building to prevent attackers climbing to the top? No electronic, sonar, or laser sensors that could give warning? Nothing, nothing at all, or am I seeing something that is invisible to the US military?

Were they incompetent or complicit?

Very interestingly, Sirajuddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin’s son, and now the effective operational commander of the group, rang up from an undisclosed location to speak to a Pakistani daily. Not only did he categorically state that he had been in Afghanistan for some months past (a fact I can testify to), but added that he no longer needed succor, even occasionally, in North Waziristan, NWA, Pakistan. That his following in Afghanistan had grown to the extent that he was safer in Afghanistan.

In response to a direct question, he refused to accept or deny responsibility for the attack; which, if he was responsible for it, is surprising. (A Taliban spokesman, however, did accept responsibility for the attack.) Most interesting was Siraj’s comment, which no one seems to have adverted to, that “we are in contact with the Taliban”, implying thereby that he was not a Taliban, but an “Afghan Freedom Fighter” against a foreign army of occupation.

That is the status that Haqqani; father and son, have always claimed: Afghan Freedom Fighters; and have now been elevated , by the US singling them out since 2009, as the only group that really posed a threat. In 2008, US estimated their group to consist of less than 5,000; today they are estimated to have a following of 15,000, and growing. ISAF’s initial report in 2009, under Stanley McChrystal, categorically advised that the US should be prepared to negotiate with all factions of the Taliban, except the Haqqani Group. I have never understood why this group was singled out. The only reasonable explanation that comes to mind is that perhaps, Mc Chrystal, probably incorrectly, since Mulla Omer is just as intractable, identified Jalal as the one man who would not compromise with a prolonged US presence in Afghanistan.

Whatever the reason, increasing number of Afghans who want to see the back of the Americans are flocking to the Haqqani banner.

Finally; another small question that worries me: if these, Haqqani Group attackers did indeed come from NWA to Kabul, the shortest route leads through the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Logar, a distance of approximately 170 kilometers, as the crow flies; but the actual route is much longer. Khost hosts an American airbase, the Combat Team of 3rdBrigade, 1st Infantry division, Camp Clark, and Forward Operating Base, FOB, Salerno. I-279 Infantry, FOB Lightning, and I-10 Attack Aviation are located in Paktia. In Logar, adjacent to Kabul, are 4 Mountain Division, an Engineer Battalion, FOB Shank, and a Combat Team. All of them equipped with high-tech Force Protection Facilities, which includes every conceivable detection device available.

Knowing how the Afghan freedom fighters/Taliban operates, sneaking through in ones and twos, it is possible for them to sneak through this intricate web of US bases, but it certainly does not reflect too well on the state of security, intelligence, and extremely high-tech early warning systems that American forces possess: incompetent, incapable, or complicit?

The assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani

On September 20th, exactly a week after the daring attack on the US Embassy, Burhanuddin Rabbani, was killed by a suicide bomber. Two (supposed) emissaries of the Taliban, were brought by Muhammed Maasoom Stanikzai, also a member of the Afghan High Peace Council, and a trusted friend of Rabbani. Understandably, they would not be submitted to a body search. Presumably, however, knowing that Rabbani was treading on dangerous grounds and in danger, there would have been the usual security machines and sniffer dogs that can smell out explosive?

If these were there, why was there no warning? If they weren’t, why weren’t there any? Was there complicity or incompetence?

But please wait, it is more interesting when the perspective to this is added. February this year, Counterpunch carried an article by me titled, “Why did Joe Biden rush to Pakistan?” In this article, I explained how the so-called “Rabbani initiative” started to facilitate talks between all Afghan stakeholders, including Taliban, for the future of Afghanistan. That these talks would be exclusively between Afghans, excluding ALL non-Afghans, though negotiations with factions of those Taliban who count and the “Haqqani Group” would be facilitated by Pakistan. And that Rabbani got the nod of approval for this from Pakistan army’s chief.

In effect, therefore, Pakistan had a role to play, while the US did not.

It is also worth noting that Rabbani, a Tajik, had also adopted the Taliban stance that the Americans must pull out of Afghanistan, lock, stock, and barrel, and at the earliest possible.

Now there were Taliban who still found Rabbani unacceptable and were willing to kill him; he had a bloody history of targeting Pashtuns, along with other members of The Northern Alliance. Therefore, the very interesting response from Mulla Omer’s faction after his murder, “we cannot comment until we have carried out a thorough investigation.”

Clearly implying, that this was not an act on instructions from Mulla Omer but it could still have been carried out by ‘rogue’ elements from their ranks. If the reader refers to “Why Joe Biden rushed to Pakistan”, it will become obvious that Mulla Omer had accepted Rabbani as an interlocutor and, since Pakistan (GHQ) had given its blessings, Pakistan could not be interested in Rabbani’s elimination. And, if the Haqqani Group has any links with the ISI, neither would they.

A spokesman, who also identified himself as, Zabiullah Mujahid, also a name associated with Mulla Omer’s group, did call the Pakistani media to claim credit; which is actually meaningless, since all glory seekers would jump at the chance to claim credit for an ‘unclaimed hit’ on such a significant target. And who can identify a voice on the phone. What is more, this spokesman talked about an explosive-filled jacket, whereas it has been established by forensics, that the explosive was in his turban.

However, this murder was indeed carried out by mid level Taliban of Omer’s faction, the two individuals who were brought by Stanikzai, were acknowledged members of Omer’s group; but who let them in, but the real question is; why?


On the dangerous game of “Chicken” presently still ongoing, between the US and Pakistan, I will make a separate effort. Will someone blink; if so, who and when? But I had warned of this inevitability in another article carried by CounterPunch; “Has Pakistan declared its independence? This dog won’t come to heel”.

However, in this process of the final brinkmanship, in response to which Pakistan has picked up the gauntlet, the US has done Pakistan a great favor. I have frequently explained the logic behind the now irrelevant and immensely weakened Al-Quaida’s call to arms against Muslim states. It was based on the accusation that the leaders of Muslim majority countries have been bought, body and soul, by the US; and now the leaders are selling their nation to the US, identified as the Kafir(infidel) of all Kafirs — that same US which is at war with Muslims all over the world and backs Israel’s inhuman treatment of Palestinians. Therefore the leaders of these Muslim majority countries and their followers are also Kafirs; legitimate targets for all devout Muslims to kill.

However warped, that was the rationale and many Pakistanis, including the vast majority of non-militant ones genuinely believed this; and with good reason. Despite the fact that the Pakistani nation was unified in its determination to eradicate the scourge of terrorism within; it was still a nation lacking self respect and confidence in its leadership, due toPakistani subservience to the US.

By forcing Pakistan to defy it, to the extent of saying that Pakistan is, militarily, economically, and diplomatically prepared for all consequences, the US has restored Pakistani nation’s self respect and has united it against this common challenge. There is only one individual in this whole wide world capable of gifting us this miracle: the one and only; our dearly beloved uncle: Uncle Sam. I thank you Uncle, from the depths of my heart. That is one favor we, Pakistanis can never repay, and can never thank you for, sufficiently.

SHAUKAT QADIR is a retired brigadier and a former president of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute. 



The ‘Ajam’ Spring

General Mirza Aslam Beg

Former COAS, Pakistan

After the ‘Arab Spring’ now it is the Ajam Spring, sweeping Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran (The Non-Arabs). The Arabs revolted against their despotic rulers, while the Ajamis have revolted against the global hegemons. The resistance against the Soviet hegemony started early ’80, resulting into its defeat and disintegration. The same rag-tag Mujahideen, later known as Taliban, challenged American hegemony, and in a short period of ten years, have inflicted a shameful defeat on them, which the Americans are not prepared to accept, hence the Taliban are not willing to give them the safe-exit, they gave  to the Soviets in 1989. This is the dilemma, the Americans are facing now, while the Taliban, working on their new strategy, have struck at the political and military nerve centers of Kandahar and Kabul, putting the occupation forces in a state of disarray.

      Taliban’s new strategy started with Kandahar jail break, freeing over 500 of their hardened fighters, who, together with the lashkars have carried out massive attacks on American garrisons at Maidan Shahar and Kabul, the NATO HQ, the American Embassy, the Peace Committee HQs and the CIA HQ at Kabul, killing over 270 Americans in a short period of three months, which shook the American public, fed with claims of victory over the Taliban after Osama’s death. The CIA and the military command, who had been feeding the nation on false claims of victory, could provide no justifiable reason and decided to pass on the buck to the Pakistani intelligence, allegedly supporting the Haqqani Group, carrying out this carnage. The accusations were followed by diplomatic warnings, intimidations and outright threat of unilateral action against Pakistan. The pressure continued to build up, creating a state of fear of the unknown.

       Under such a situation of stress and strain,  I gave a television interview on Saturday, 24th September 2011, warning the nation of the impending threat and the urgent need for taking defensive measures.  I warned:“Mobilize the armed forces now to face the threat. Prepare the nation to solidly stand behind the armed forces; call  upon the tribals to join the Army and if Pakistan is attacked, carry the war into the Afghan territory, where the Taliban and the Afghan freedom fighters will join us to eliminate the occupation forces, who would not be able to face the furry of the Pak-Afghan surge. China and Iran are with us and Russia would prefer to watch the fun.”

      The very next day, Sunday 25th September, the armed forces moved into their battle locations on the Pak-Afghan borders. The Pak Air force was on high alert. The political leadership also rose to the occasion, mobilizing the public against the impending threat. As a result, the fear and despondency gave way to confidence and self assurance to the Pakistani nation. The American strategist, Henry Kissinger and the Taliban commander Sirajuddin Haqqani, had warned the hawks at Pentagon, against adventurism in Pakistan, because the conflict would expand, beyond control. The message was taken, and dialogue has been preferred. The timely action by the armed forces, deterred aggression, and has emboldened our political leadership to come out with brave statements. The Prime Minister has called the APC which is out of place, while the parliament is the right forum to discuss such issues of national interests. But the parliament itself has lost its élan, because two of its earlier resolutions on drone and Abbotabad attacks, are lying in the dust-bin. Under the circumstances, the best option for our political leadership, therefore  is to ‘follow the lead given by the armed forces’ whose commander, President Asif Ali Zardari prefers to maintain such mysterious silence. But behind this silence is the diplomatic feat he has achieved. Alhamdulillah, Pakistan is not alone and the credit goes to President Zardari for raising the ‘geo-political security cover’ for Pakistan, i.e., China and Iran’s unflinching support in our hour of need. In so doing Zardari has crossed the ‘red line’ as, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did and earned the wrath of the hegemons. Zardari’s life is in danger. He better take care of himself. 

      While giving this message, I was reminded of the advice, I gave to General Musharraf, ten years back on this very day 24th September 2001, in a meeting. I had warned that: “His decision to join the American war against the brotherly country Afghanistan, was unethical and immoral, and that it would cause great harm to Pakistan. Ultimately the war would be reversed on Pakistan, with dangerous fall-out. And despite the odds, the Taliban would emerge victorious and the Americans and their allies would be defeated and their defeat would be worse than their defeat in Vietnam. And you as the President of the country and Chief of army Staff will suffer shame and disgrace for having compromised on the blood of thousands of Mujahideen, who have laid down their lives for the freedom of Afghanistan.” I was not far wrong.

      These are historic moments and a turning point for the struggle by Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, against global hegemony. It bonds the three nations together for a common cause, ultimately forming into a union — the realization of my dream of ‘Strategic Depth’, which I first spelled out to my formation commanders and the officers of the Rawalpindi garrison on 25th August 1988:

“We are witnessing the dawn of a new era. Afghanistan is free after the defeat of the Soviet Union. Iran has emerged stronger after eight years of brutal war with Iraq and the Islamic Revolution has consolidated. Pakistan has opted for democracy after eleven years of military rule. This is the moment of ‘triumph of freedom’ for all the three countries. Freedom beckons us to unite and gain ‘Strategic Depth’ to safeguard our national security interests.”


      It has taken us thirty years of turmoil, treachery, brutal wars, death and destruction, pushing the three countries together into a common bond, to provide the much needed depth of security, in all its dimensions. The sun is rising, and we can feel the soft fragrant breeze of ‘The Ajam Spring’ comforting our tormented souls.


Pentagon aims at target Pakistan

By Pepe Escobar 

Syria will have to wait. The next stop in the Pentagon-coined “long war” is bound to be Pakistan. True, a war is already on in what the Barack Obama administration named AfPak. But crunch time in Pak itself looms closer and closer. Call it the “no bomb left behind” campaign.

Al-Qaeda is a thing of the past; after all, al-Qaeda assets such as Abdelhakim Belhaj are now running Tripoli. The new Washington-manufactured mega-bogeyman is now the Haqqani network.

A relentless, Haqqani-targeted manufacture of consensus industry is already on overdrive, via a constellation of the usual neo-conservative suspects, assorted Republican warmongers, “Pentagon officials” and industrial-military complex shills in corporate media.

The Haqqani network, a force of 15,000 to 20,000 Pashtun fighters led by former anti-Soviet mujahideen figure Jalalludin Haqqani, is a key component of the Afghan insurgency from its bases in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area.

For Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Haqqani network “acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] agency”. It took Mullen no less than 10 years since Washington’s bombing of Afghanistan to figure this out. Somebody ought to give him a Nobel Peace Prize.

According to the US government narrative, it was the ISI that gave the go-ahead for the Haqqani network to attack the US Embassy in Kabul on September 13.

Pentagon head Leon Panetta has gone on record saying that in response, Washington might go unilateral. This means that the vast numbers of Pashtun farmers, including women and children, who have already been decimated for months by US drone attacks on the tribal areas should be considered as extras in a humanitarian operation.

The Pentagon’s “long war”, also known as the “war on terror”, may have cost the Pakistani economy up to a staggering $100 billion – and over 30,000 casualties, a large number of them civilians. Under “no bomb left behind”, expect “collateral damage” to keep piling up.

When in doubt, read the book
Predictably, Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani – incidentally, a Pentagon darling – denies the ISI is in bed with the Haqqanis. Well, they are. But even more salacious is the current Pakistani official spin – that because the US has failed so miserably in Af, now they are trying to blame Pak for the whole mess.

Looks like Mullen at least has been catching up with the late Syed Saleem Shahzad’s essential book on AfPak, Inside al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11. In the book, Saleem, who as Asia Times Online’s Pakistan bureau chief, details how the legendary – and vain – Jalalludin Haqqani (who still loves to dye his hair) never ceased to be a leading Taliban warlord; and how the ISI never stopped telling him that their offensives against himself, his son and his network were only a show.

The Haqqanis may be based in North Waziristan, but they run a great deal of the show in Paktia, Paktika and Khost on the other side of the border. Wily Jalalludin has pledged total allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar – who everybody knows is holed up in Quetta, in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, but remains mysteriously invisible even to the best US eyes in the sky.

To believe that the ISI would simply get rid of the Haqqanis, or disable their North Waziristan bases so they wouldn’t be able to attack US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan anymore, is pure wishful thinking. The Pakistani military has a major dog in the Afghan fight. And the name of the dog is Taliban – which they “invented” in the early 1990s.

Moreover, the Haqqanis can always be counted on as a sort of reserve army to fight the possibility of increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan.

When Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar says the US “cannot afford to alienate Pakistan”, she’s totally right. If that happens, the historic Taliban would turbo charge their already constant string of lethal attacks inside Afghanistan. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban – TTP) would turbo charge cross-border attacks, from Kunar and Nuristan in Afghanistan into Dir and Bajaur in Pakistan. And hardcore military factions in Pakistan would be even more motivated to get rid of the civilian government altogether.

Because Washington to some extent trains and equips Islamabad’s military, and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is so very cozy with the ISI, some may think Washington “owns” Islamabad.

It does – but up to a point. Somebody should convene a seminar in Washington to explain that the Pakistani army has a very different agenda from the ISI, while the ISI is crammed with secret rogue cells; it’s one of those cells that may have murdered Saleem Shahzad.

The Pakistani military is trying to make sure the “historic” Taliban led by Mullah Omar, as well as the Hizb-e Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, lose much of their influence in Afghanistan. But at the same time, these hardcore ISI cells want to keep supporting the Haqqani network as a means to keep any future Afghan government on its toes.

Time for Beijing to collect
The going will get really tough if – when – the Pentagon/CIA/White House consortium decides that US Special Forces will violate Pakistani sovereignty by helicopter, a la the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and go for the Haqqanis and thus risk a direct clash with the Pakistani army. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has already called an emergency meeting exactly to analyze this distinct possibility.

If that happens, Islamabad will certainly pull out all stops to dismantle Washington’s critical logistics supply network from the southern port city of Karachi to the Khyber Pass, severely disrupting the flow of NATO supplies to Afghanistan. It will destroy any possibility of intelligence-sharing and cooperation in counter-terrorism/counter-intelligence. Even al-Qaeda will have a new lease of life all across Pakistan – and not only in the tribal areas.

Not to mention that Pakistan has an army of 610,000 – with about 500,000 reserves. Considering that only 15,000 to 20,000 Taliban have been able to run rings around US/NATO troops in Afghanistan for years, the math spells out only one option for Washington: disaster.

Pakistan is one of China’s major geopolitical assets. There’s no question Beijing has already run plenty of calculations on how Washington’s strategic folly – or irrepressible desire to launch a “kinetic” whatever operation – can only result in total alienation of Pakistan.

Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu – China’s top security official – was in Rawalpindi on Monday. Significantly, Interior Minister Rehman Malik stressed, “China is always there for us in the most difficult moments.” Meng for his part said they discussed ways to “contribute to national security and regional stability”.

Also this week, the Pakistani army engaged in joint exercises in the Punjab with forces from “Pakistan’s special friend” Saudi Arabia. With special friends like Beijing and Riyadh to compensate for lost military equipment or revenue, no wonder Pakistan’s generals are not exactly mired in desperation.

Yet Washington is desperate, feeling the urge to do something. So what to expect from now on?

Expect a festival of MQ-9 Reapers droning North Waziristan to death. What US President Barack Obama calls a tool of “unique capabilities”, for Pashtun farmers is a weapon of terror.

Expect strike after strike conducted out of a control room in Nellis air force base in Nevada.

Expect an array of strategic missile bombings with spectacular collateral damage.

Expect more Joint Special Operations Command-ordered special operations forces “kill/capture” raids.

Expect a new, humongous Joint Prioritized Effects List, just like in Afghanistan; no names, just a list of mobile or satellite phone numbers. If your mobile gets on the list by mistake, you’ll be snuffed the Hellfire way.

Expect deadly, eternal Pashtun vengeance against Americans to be as irreversible as death and taxes.

And most of all, expect a low intensity war to turn volcanic anytime.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

NOTE:This is a cross post from Asia Times Online.

The ignominious Reward for a Mercenary

By Saeed Qureshi

When a country fights like a mercenary for others by overriding its own national interests and honor, it consequently meets the same disgraceful fate as Pakistan vis-a-vis the United States. A darling foster child of a wealthy and most powerful mentor has fallen from grace like a meteorite plunging towards the abyss of earth.
Pakistan has always willingly opted to be an errand boy of United States that looks down upon her partners like a giant looking upon a pygmy. This is the relationship of Gulliver and Lilliputians with ne traces of any equality in any sense of the word. Pakistan has been left in lurch in the wilderness whenever its role of a hireling had culminated.
As if a journeying man all of sudden is surrounded by the highway robbers or wolves nowhere to go and finally torn to pieces. No matter how a second fiddle or a crony tries to look more loyal than the king, he has to lick the dust when the terms of the engagement change.
Musharraf made an historic blunder by mortgaging the state of Pakistan and its army into the hands of powers that remain obsessed with their own axe to grind. Earlier it was Ziaul Haq who in his spurious zeal to Islamize the earth tied Pakistan with the American Apron string. Even then when the Russians vacated Afghanistan, Pakistan came under fire and was denigrated for all the sins under the sun.
Now when the chips are down and the curtain is being drawn on the bloody stage of Afghanistan, Pakistan is the first casualty of this end game that would entail more traumas for this nation that has rendered unimaginable sacrifices beyond the call of duty. That the army of a nation charted to fight the enemies has been waging an inexhrobale and ferocious war against its own people is the demonstration of alliance that is like cutting one’s own roots and veins.
All the sacrifices, heroic deeds and marvelous accomplishments on the battleground of Swat, South Waziristan and elsewhere by Pakistan were in vain and have gone vain with the wind of latest revulsion and sudden spurt of hostility from the Pakistan’s principal guardian angel.
There are heartless and piercing ubiquitous accusations of betrayal and treachery and double standards and even insidious plans leveled against Pakistan to kill the American troops. In this most deafening cacophony others who were waiting in wings have joined with their rabid voices adding the venom and hatred against Pakistan.
The Indian foreign minister hurled a very strong anti Pakistan statement heaping indignities and accusations on Pakistan for what he alleged abetting the terrorism. Also the inveterate enemy of Pakistan Hamid Karzai has unleashed an outrageous and overly incriminating anti Pakistan statement in that he held Pakistan responsible for not subduing the insurgents and for the setback suffered by allied forces stationed in Pakistan.
He discredited Pakistan for not playing an honest role in eliminating the insurgents. One should ask him what role his troops and government has played in suppressing the Taliban and other militants arraigned his and that NATO forces.
The Republican Senator Lindsey Graham a member of the Armed Services Committee is shooting frightening and ominous volleys of statements that aim at destroying Pakistan and cutting total funds to Pakistan. Another Texas’ Republican ultra rightist senator Ted Poe a member of the houses Foreign Affairs committee, has even moved a bill in the house of representative for freezing all the aid to Pakistan for the latter’s seditious conduct towards the United States.
Senator Graham said that “The sovereign nation of Pakistan is engaging in hostile acts against the United States and our ally Afghanistan that must cease.” He threatened that   US bombers could blitz areas in Pakistan, which could mean carpet bombing of North Waziristan and even the sites in Pakistan with nuclear assets.
 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that United States was in the final stage of designating Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization. Since Pakistan is being bracketed with Haqqani group as its collaborator, some of the debris of this grave decision is likey to fall on Pakistan as well. So Pakistan is in deep trouble. The clouds of adversity and hostile backlash from American and her NATO allies are hovering over Pakistan.
Last week, the outgoing top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, bluntly accused Pakistan of “exporting” violent extremism to Afghanistan through proxies and warned of possible action. All of sudden Pakistan is being painted as a hostile and terrorist country with ISI as being the main schemer and mastermind of the anti American attacks in Afghanistan. These are drumbeats of opening another war front against Pakistan under the pretext of destroying the locations and bases of Haqqani network which could be extended to Pakistan.
The Pakistan government has summoned an all party’s conference to ponder over the response to this sudden frightening development that could turn Pakistan into another battleground for an indefinite period. If Pakistan refuses to attack Haqqani network by deploying forces in North Waziristan, the United States would translate her ultimatums into practical enforcement.
Is Pakistan army ready in that situation to put up a matching response and retaliation to the armies that would violate Pakistan territory? Will not that situation pit Pakistan against a very powerful military machine that can spell disaster on Pakistan’s territories and bomb at her chosen targets?
Pakistan is proverbially caught between the devil and deep sea. The knee jerk reaction based upon fabricated allegations against Pakistan would embroil United States into another spree of war mongering that might further bludgeon her faltering economy and make her to ultimately withdraw from Afghanistan with more humiliation. If United States cannot flush and hunt down a few thousand militants from Afghanistan, how can it go across all Pakistan to track and kill the anti American insurgents?
Without castigating Pakistan or pressuring it to move military operations to North Waziristan United States can take such an action on her own without casting insidious aspertions on Pakistan. What kind of support China can lend to Pakistan to avert a direct military attack by the United States and NATO on her soil would be watched with great eagerness and expectations by Pakistan government and its people.
But one aspect is quite clear that Pakistan would not make the monumental blunder of sending its army to North Waziristan. By doing that she might get temporary reprieve from the United States but an abiding hostility from the tribal areas that could fragment Pakistan.
The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat.

Thank you, Admiral Mullen!

By Shamshad Ahmad

(Former Foreign Secretary,Pakistan).

During my recant visit to the US, I found from a yard sale a book entitled ‘America’s Stake in Asia’ written in 1968 by Drew Middleton, a renowned foreign correspondent, first for the Associated Press, and later for The New York Times who covered the World War II from D-Day to V-Day before returning to New York in 1965 to become The New York Times’ chief correspondent at the United Nations.

A chapter in his book entitled ‘Pakistan: The Lost Friend’ gave an incisive account of how Washington’s total insensitivity to its close ally and partner Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns vis-à-vis India had generated a sense of alienation among the people of Pakistan.

While deploring Washington’s nearsighted policies, Middleton presciently called Pakistan the “pattern” for Asian nations of the future; independent, tough and opportunistic. In his view, Pakistan’s “geographical situation and a dozen other considerations made it virtually important to peace in the whole of Asia and the world at large.”

This old book on America’s stakes in Asia may have ended in the trash, but Pakistan, a fiercely independent country, has rarely disappeared for any length of time from America’s strategic radar screen. For more than 60 years now, it has loomed large in one form or another, either as a staunch ally and partner, or a troublesome friend, or even as a target. Now, for the first time, it is all of these things. The war on terror may have provided the rationale for the current US ‘engagement’ with Pakistan but this war neither limits the relationship’s scope nor exhausts the challenges it faces.

The Pakistan-US relationship is not about any particular incident or individual said to be based in our tribal areas or about any Afghanistan-related setback to the US-led Isaf forces. It is an old relationship that has survived many ups and downs, and yet remains fundamentally strong and enduring. As Drew Middleton said nearly half a century ago, Pakistan’s unique geo-strategic importance makes it indispensable to peace and stability not only in this region but also for the world at large.

Its location gave Pakistan an unrivalled relevance to the Cold War dynamics. The policy of containment in its final decisive phase was enacted on our soil. The post-9/11 situation yet again made Pakistan a pivotal US ally and partner in its war on terror in Afghanistan. The Afghans are not the only victims of the Afghan tragedy. Pakistan has suffered more in multiple ways in terms of refugee influx, socio-economic burden, rampant terrorism, unabated violence and protracted conflict in its border areas with Afghanistan.

And yet, one is bewildered at Pakistan’s demonisation by its friends and allies. With almost daily violations of its territorial integrity and sovereign independence in violation of the UN Charter, and regular accusations and slander hurled at it, our people wonder in anguish whether their country is America’s partner or target in fighting a common enemy. Coercive and sometimes accusatory and slanderous approaches towards Pakistan, its armed forces and security agencies have been counterproductive and have only fuelled anti-Americanism. Any perceptional differences could have been sorted out through mutual dialogue channels, not through media or military-led public diplomacy.

There is something fundamentally wrong with US public diplomacy when it comes to Pakistan. Our most distinguished frequent diplomatic interlocutors from Washington are not State Department officials but hardcore senior officials and military commanders from the Pentagon and the CIA. Leon Panetta, Admiral Mike Mullen, Gen Petraeus, and the likes of Bruce Reidel are now the ones calling ‘diplomatic’ shots when it comes to Pakistan. Ambassador Munter, poor he, is standing on the margins caught in this most undiplomatic CIA-led militarist volley against Pakistan. It is time to correct this approach lest the mastless US public diplomacy leads to total alienation of this country and its 180 million people.

Indeed, since 9/11, it is the US military or the CIA that communicates with foreign audiences, at times through missiles and drone attacks. American diplomacy in Pakistan, in particular, is a classic manifestation of this approach. According to a veteran US diplomat, this “mission creep” has gone way out of hand. Pentagon-led US public diplomacy is a dismal failure. Never in our history did we have so much public resentment against US policies and behaviour.

Critics all around, Washington insiders and the public beyond the Beltway, members of both major political parties, even America’s friends abroad, all recognise that US public diplomacy has had a great fall. A number of separate studies, reports and findings on American diplomacy prepared by academic groups and non-governmental commissions endorse this conclusion. The common theme in these reports is that the US now has totally different priorities in the world. US image-building is now left to the Pentagon, leaving very little to non-military institutions for articulation of America’s “ideas and ideals” overseas and advance its foreign policy goals.

Instead of continuing with the lamentable “blame game” using Pakistan as an easy “scapegoat” for their own failures in this war, the US and its allies must accept the reality that for Pakistan, Afghanistan is an area of fundamental strategic importance. If the Soviet presence in Cuba almost triggered a nuclear war in the early 1960s, India’s continued ascendancy in Afghanistan will remain a danger of no less gravity to the already volatile security environment of this nuclearised region. The risk of a Pakistan-India proxy war in Afghanistan is fraught with perilous implications for regional and global peace, and must be averted at all cost.

Whatever the end-game, durable peace in Afghanistan will remain elusive as long as Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns in the region remain unaddressed. The US will need Pakistan’s active involvement in any Afghan-led political settlement if it is genuinely seeking one for its honourable exit from this unwinnable war. It seems over the last couple of years, the two countries have had no control over the growing list of unwanted irritants, some of which could have easily been avoided if both sides were guided by the concept of mutuality of interest in their relationship.

But let’s be honest. The problem is not the US-Pakistan relationship. The problem is its poor and shortsighted management on both sides. For Washington, it remains a transactional relationship. On our side, this relationship has been used by our inept rulers solely as their political and economic crutches, and for their self-serving notorious deals. It is time to make this relationship a normal relationship based on mutuality rather than one-sided transactions, conditionality-based aid packages or notorious deals impinging on this country’s sovereign independence and dignity.

The US may have a long list of its own unlearnt lessons, but for Pakistan and its civilian and military rulers there is only one lesson to be learnt now. There is a silver-lining in this current impasse. Throw your begging bowls and the crutches of foreign aid. America’s first president George Washington in his farewell address in 1796 had left some advice for you. Lamenting the fate of nations that leave themselves at the mercy of other powers, he said, “it was a folly to be the satellite of the latter or looking for disinterested favours from another” because “it must pay with a portion of its independence and its sovereignty for whatever it may accept under that character.”

Our foremost challenge at this critical juncture is not what we are required to do for others’ interests; it is what we ought to do to serve our own national interests. We need to regain our lost sovereignty, independence, freedom of action and national dignity. We should thank Admiral Mike Mullen for shaking us upside down, and giving us this opportunity to stand up again with our chins held high.

*This is a cross post from THE NEWS.

Are We At War With Pakistan? Seems like it…

By: Justin Raimondo

In the days before the Empire, generals – particularly Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs – kept their mouths shut. The Founders’ justified fears of military intrusion into the political realm were still present in the American consciousness, and the idea that an American general might try to influence policy directly, by making public statements on controversial political topics, was considered outside the norm. Today, however, no one is shocked by Admiral Mullen’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that we are, for all intents and purposes, already at war with Pakistan:

“Extremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan troops and civilians as well as U.S. soldiers. For example, we believe the Haqqani Network – which has long enjoyed the support and protection of the Pakistani government and is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency – is responsible for the September 13th attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

“There is ample evidence confirming that the Haqqanis were behind the June 28th attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and the September 10th truck bomb attack that killed five Afghans and injured another 96 individuals, 77 of whom were U.S. soldiers. History teaches us that it is difficult to defeat an insurgency when fighters enjoy a sanctuary outside national boundaries, and we are seeing this again today. The Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network are hampering efforts to improve security in Afghanistan, spoiling possibilities for broader reconciliation, and frustrating U.S.-Pakistan relations. The actions by the Pakistani government to support them – actively and passively – represent a growing problem that is undermining U.S. interests and may violate international norms, potentially warranting sanction. In supporting these groups, the government of Pakistan, particularly the Pakistani Army, continues to jeopardize Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected and prosperous nation with genuine regional and international influence.”

If the evidence is so “ample,” why didn’t Mullen reveal any of it during the course of his testimony? It’s “classified,” which means we ordinary mortalsaren’t entitled to see it: we just have to take their word for it. In this context, however, their word isn’t worth a hill of beans.

The earlier part of Mullen’s testimony was a paean to the “success” of US/NATO efforts in Afghanistan: except for a few minor glitches, he strongly implied, everything’s coming up roses. How, then, to explain the brazen attacks on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul, and the Taliban strike at the US embassy, which penetrated to the very core of the American presence in the country – the Afghan equivalent of Iraq’s “Green Zone“? It must be the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency – yeah, that’s the ticket!

Facing questions about his competence, and that of his generals, Mullen struck back with a conspiracy theory that explains away – or, at least, explains – the severity of these attacks, which fatally undermine his Pollyanna-ish narrative. The Obama administration has been laying the groundwork for this particular conspiracy theory for quite some time, peppering the Pakistanis with accusations of complicity in Taliban attacks on US forces – albeit without producing any public evidence. You’ll recall that the President himself, during the 2008 campaign, explicitly threatened to strike at Pakistan – and even John McCain was horrified.

The Justice Department is playing a key role in the anti-Pakistan offensive, utilizing the infamous David Headley – a DEA snitch and “former” terrorist operative – to fill in the details of Pakistan’s alleged perfidy. Headley claims he was trained by the ISI at one of several terrorist training camps run by a Kashmiri separatist group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and that Pakistan was the real source of the terror in Mumbai. Go here for the suspiciously murky details of his convoluted story, but suffice to say that I’d sooner trust the word of a used car dealer who’s down to his last dime. While in the pay of the DEA, Headley traveled around the world committing and planning terrorist acts – but you’re a “conspiracy theorist” if you think this throws a shadow of suspicion on his character, his motives, or his “testimony.”

With military ties tightening between the US and India – Pakistan’s ancient enemy – one thing is clear: Washington is tilting toward New Delhi. This shift began in 2006, when India and the US agreed to cooperate on the development of “civil” nuclear power. However, as the Council on Foreign Relations reports, under the terms of the agreement “India would be eligible to buy U.S. dual-use nuclear technology, including materials and equipment that could be used to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium, potentially creating the material for nuclear bombs.”

Pakistan and India have come close to a nuclear exchange on severaloccasions over the years. With the Hindu ultra-nationalists who wield increasing political clout frothing at the mouth for war, the introduction of such technology poses a deadly danger to the entire region. A nuclear sword of Damocles, forged by the US government, is hanging over the heads of Pakistanis – and we wonder why they hate us.

The Americans are playing a very dangerous game with Pakistan, doing everything in their power to undermine the elected government, while at the same time decrying the threat of “extremism” in that nation. But they can’t have it both ways: if they fear destabilization, then why are they doing their utmost to provoke it? You’d almost have to be a “conspiracy theorist” to make sense out of it.

We are fighting an unwinnable war in the region, one that doesn’t serve our interests, either geopolitical or economic, and we’ve tasked our military with solving an insoluble problem: how to win over a people whose land we’ve occupied. Our military leaders, in response, are forced to invent plausible reasons explaining why they’ve been unable to accomplish the impossible. Theblame Pakistan narrative serves that purpose admirably.

The ass-covering isn’t limited to the Afghan war, however, as Mullen’s remarks made all too clear. In warning against letting the alleged problem with Pakistan fester, unacknowledged, Mullen told the Senators:

History teaches us that it is difficult to defeat an insurgency when fighters enjoy a sanctuary outside national boundaries, and we are seeing this again today.”

A revealing comment if ever there was one: the US military is still burning with resentment over their defeat in the Vietnam war, and they blame the politicians for not letting them “win” by bombing the entire region into submission. Mullen is signaling to Congress and the civilian leadership that the military isn’t going to stand by, this time, and let itself be railroaded into taking the blame for another humiliating defeat. Mullen’s message to Congress, and the White House, is clear: let us go after the Pakistanis – or else….

The Obama administration, already intimidated by all things military, is going along with the program. What the anti-Pakistan campaign we’ve been subjected to in recent months amounts to is that the Obama administration is angling for the equivalent of Richard Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia – an act that ended in disaster for all concerned, including the US.

Remember, Pol Pot arose from that slaughterhouse. Who knows what monsterswill rise in the wake of our invasion of Pakistan?

It’s just what the politicians need – a fresh overseas war to take our minds off the economic and social crisis here at home. Think of it as another “stimulus package” – war being the only stimulant both parties can agree on.

*This is a cross post from

*In addition to his thrice-weekly column for, Raimondo is a regular contributor to The American Conservative and Chronicles magazine. He also writes two columns a month for Taki’s Top Drawer. He is also author of many books.


Obama’s Policies Making Things Worse in Afghanistan & Pakistan!

By:Graham E. Fuller

For all the talk of “smart power,” President Obama is pressing down the same path of failure in Pakistan marked out by George Bush. The realities suggest need for drastic revision of U.S. strategic thinking.

— Military force will not win the day in either Afghanistan or Pakistan; crises have only grown worse under the U.S. military footprint.

— The Taliban represent zealous and largely ignorant mountain Islamists. They are also all ethnic Pashtuns. Most Pashtuns see the Taliban — like them or not — as the primary vehicle for restoration of Pashtun power in Afghanistan, lost in 2001. Pashtuns are also among the most fiercely nationalist, tribalized and xenophobic peoples of the world, united only against the foreign invader. In the end, the Taliban are probably more Pashtun than they are Islamist.

— It is a fantasy to think of ever sealing the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The “Durand Line” is an arbitrary imperial line drawn through Pashtun tribes on both sides of the border. And there are twice as many Pashtuns in Pakistan as there are in Afghanistan. The struggle of 13 million Afghan Pashtuns has already inflamed Pakistan’s 28 million Pashtuns.

— India is the primary geopolitical threat to Pakistan, not Afghanistan. Pakistan must therefore always maintain Afghanistan as a friendly state. India furthermore is intent upon gaining a serious foothold in Afghanistan — in the intelligence, economic and political arenas — that chills Islamabad.

— Pakistan will therefore never rupture ties or abandon the Pashtuns, in either country, whether radical Islamist or not. Pakistan can never afford to have Pashtuns hostile to Islamabad in control of Kabul, or at home.

— Occupation everywhere creates hatred, as the U.S. is learning. Yet Pashtuns remarkably have not been part of the jihadi movement at the international level, although many are indeed quick to ally themselves at home with al-Qaida against the U.S. military.

— The U.S. had every reason to strike back at the al-Qaida presence in Afghanistan after the outrage of 9/11. The Taliban were furthermore poster children for an incompetent and harsh regime. But the Taliban retreated from, rather than lost, the war in 2001, in order to fight another day. Indeed, one can debate whether it might have been possible — with sustained pressure from Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and almost all other Muslim countries that viewed the Taliban as primitives — to force the Taliban to yield up al-Qaida over time without war. That debate is in any case now moot. But the consequences of that war are baleful, debilitating and still spreading.

— The situation in Pakistan has gone from bad to worse as a direct consequence of the U.S. war raging on the Afghan border. U.S. policy has now carried the Afghan war over the border into Pakistan with its incursions, drone bombings and assassinations — the classic response to a failure to deal with insurgency in one country. Remember the invasion of Cambodia to save Vietnam?

— The deeply entrenched Islamic and tribal character of Pashtun rule in the Northwest Frontier Province in Pakistan will not be transformed by invasion or war. The task requires probably several generations to start to change the deeply embedded social and psychological character of the area. War induces visceral and atavistic response.

— Pakistan is indeed now beginning to crack under the relentless pressure directly exerted by the U.S. Anti-American impulses in Pakistan are at high pitch, strengthening Islamic radicalism and forcing reluctant acquiescence to it even by non-Islamists.

Only the withdrawal of American and NATO boots on the ground will begin to allow the process of near-frantic emotions to subside within Pakistan, and for the region to start to cool down. Pakistan is experienced in governance and is well able to deal with its own Islamists and tribalists under normal circumstances; until recently, Pakistani Islamists had one of the lowest rates of electoral success in the Muslim world.

But U.S. policies have now driven local nationalism, xenophobia and Islamism to combined fever pitch. As Washington demands that Pakistan redeem failed American policies in Afghanistan, Islamabad can no longer manage its domestic crisis.

The Pakistani army is more than capable of maintaining state power against tribal militias and to defend its own nukes. Only a convulsive nationalist revolutionary spirit could change that — something most Pakistanis do not want. But Washington can still succeed in destabilizing Pakistan if it perpetuates its present hard-line strategies. A new chapter of military rule — not what Pakistan needs — will be the likely result, and even then Islamabad’s basic policies will not change, except at the cosmetic level.

In the end, only moderate Islamists themselves can prevail over the radicals whose main source of legitimacy comes from inciting popular resistance against the external invader. Sadly, U.S. forces and Islamist radicals are now approaching a state of co-dependency.

It would be heartening to see a solid working democracy established in Afghanistan. Or widespread female rights and education — areas where Soviet occupation ironically did rather well. But these changes are not going to happen even within one generation, given the history of social and economic devastation of the country over 30 years.

Al-Qaida’s threat no longer emanates from the caves of the borderlands, but from its symbolism that has long since metastasized to other activists of the Muslim world. Meanwhile, the Pashtuns will fight on for a major national voice in Afghanistan. But few Pashtuns on either side of the border will long maintain a radical and international jihadi perspective once the incitement of the U.S. presence is gone. Nobody on either side of the border really wants it.

What can be done must be consonant with the political culture. Let non-military and neutral international organizations, free of geopolitical taint, take over the binding of Afghan wounds and the building of state structures.

If the past eight years had shown ongoing success, perhaps an alternative case for U.S. policies could be made. But the evidence on the ground demonstrates only continued deterioration and darkening of the prognosis. Will we have more of the same? Or will there be a U.S. recognition that the American presence has now become more the problem than the solution? We do not hear that debate.


*Graham E. Fuller is a former CIA station chief in Kabul and a former vice-chair of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. He is author of numerous books on the Middle East, including The Future of Political Islam.

NOTE:This is a cross post from HUFFINGTON POST.

What We Spend on Nuclear Weapons


The United States is projected to spend over $700 billion on nuclear weapons and related programs during the next ten years. As federal budgets tighten and officials address the most pressing national security needs of the 21st century, the substantial cost of nuclear weapons must be fully examined. By understanding these costs and setting effective national security priorities, policymakers can reduce nuclear budget excesses incurred by the active stockpile of approximately 5,000 nuclear weapons.

Ploughshares Fund has written a working paper ( to address the magnitude of this complex issue. As a result of this analysis, we are convinced that the current projected expenditures on nuclear weapons are mismatched for both the fiscal and physical threats we face as a country, and must therefore come down. This working paper should be viewed as a living document that, as the budget picture for nuclear weapons spending becomes clearer, will be adjusted to match the changing policy environment.

We hope that this working paper will contribute to the overall national debate about defense spending, both for the sake of our national security and our country’s fiscal health. It is our view that these projected investments are oriented towards fighting last century’s wars, thereby creating significant financial waste while undercutting our country’s ability to address the threats we all face. In an era of tight federal budgets, limited defense dollars must be spent wisely to address the security needs of today and the anticipated security needs of tomorrow. Our projected nuclear weapons spending, as outlined in this paper, does not meet this standard.

Ultimately, the United States must find a bipartisan path forward for reducing the nuclear budget burden that we all face. We should not saddle our children and grandchildren with hundreds of billions of dollars of unnecessary future expenditures for weapons systems that we neither need nor can afford.




Is U.S. forcing Pak Army into a trap?

Brig. Farooq Hameed Kan(R)

The US Defence Secretary  Leon Panetta’s latest warning that his country would do everything it can to defend US forces from Pakistan based militants staging attacks in Afghanistan reflects the growing US frustration over its failure to overcome Afghan resistance  even after ten years of waging a bloody war in Afghanistan.


   Coming in the wake of September 13 deadly attack by Afghan militants against heavily fortified US embassy, NATO/ISAF HQ and the country’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Kabul’s high security zone, Panetta’s threat pointed towards heightened Pak- US mistrust and possibility of unilateral US retaliation against alleged Haqqani network in N.Waziristan.


     While Taliban claimed responsibility for Kabul strike the Americans were quick to blame the Haqqani group.  US ambassador Cameron Munter’s unprecedented statement   about evidence linking the Haqqani network to the Pakistan government which blamed the ISI indirectly for Kabul attacks openly violated diplomatic norms.


   Admiral Mike Mullen during meeting with Army Chief General Kayani on the sidelines of a NATO conference in Spain also called for action against Haqqani network. In a speech at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC, Mullen was more direct in asking the ISI to sever ties with Haqqani group and that the presence of Haqqani sanctuaries in N. Waziristan potentially jeopardized the outcome of the war.


   While Americans basked in the glory of the May 2nd Abbottabad strike, recent spate of militant attacks against US/NATO troops in and around Kabul exposed the poor security situation in Afghan capital. It also raised questions regarding the ability and effectiveness of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and police to defend Kabul and other parts of country against Taliban /militant attacks.


       Bagram air base, considered to be the most secure place for US troops in Afghanistan, was attacked by Taliban on May 19 this year.  A day earlier, a suicide bomber targeted a NATO convoy in Kabul, killing five US troops taking the death toll for American soldiers past the 1,000 mark. A Taliban bomb attack on September 11 against a coalition base in eastern province of Wardaq had left at least 77 American soldiers wounded.


   If after spending  billions of US dollars that has brought US economy on the verge of collapse  and the much trumpeted Obama’s surge strategy, Kabul  and  Afghan countryside still remain  vulnerable to daring Taliban daylight attacks, then  Pentagon has a lot to answer to the angry American public.


     The US obsession for action against Haqqani network is not new.  Pak Army has resisted the US demand for a crackdown on the Haqqanis in North Waziristan for almost two years now. The Army believes that it would decide its operational priorities in FATA keeping in view ground realities, act according to its own timeframe and will not accept US dictation in this respect.


     With its resources already overstretched,  the  Army’s emphasis remains  towards  consolidating  its  operational  gains in  South Waziristan , Bajaur and other FATA agencies like Mohmand and Orakzai where anti militant operations and sporadic skirmishes with militants’ remnants still continue. The Army recently completed Operation Koh-e-Sufaid in Kurram agency aimed at clearing the region of militants indulging in kidnapping and suicide attacks on security installations and forces as well as re-opening the strategic Thall-Parachinar road.


          The top US military leadership’s accusation of Pakistan influencing Haqqani group’s actions is perhaps an overkill. It goes against our security interests  to guide the Haqqanis to attack US/NATO Headquarters in Kabul at a time when Pakistan seeks earnest efforts to remove obstacles in the complex peace process and help bring stability to war torn Afghanistan.      


   It is strange that the US is bent upon blaming the Haqqanis when Taliban claimed responsibility for the latest Kabul strike.  If US attack drones could kill Al Qaeda militants in N. Waziristan, what stops them from targeting Haqqani fighters operating within Afghan territory? It is also incomprehensible that Haqqani fighters could travel all the way to attack US/NATO forces deep within Afghanistan and return to their bases on the Pakistan side without being intercepted or challenged by allied troops.


    Siraj uddin Haqqani, recently announced his group’s willingness to join the Afghan peace process if the Taliban joined the same which should be a positive signal to the Americans. He also declared that Haqqani fighters no longer operated from North Waziristan and had moved their bases inside Afghanistan.  This appears plausible in view of the US drone attacks that reportedly targeted Haqqani leadership in North Waziristan in the past as well as pressure from Pakistan’s security establishment to make a total shift.


      But  Pakistanis are also furious over the  ‘deliberate failure’ of  US/NATO and Afghan  forces   to stop  series  of cross border attacks  by Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants into Dir and Chitral, in which dozens of  our para military troops , government officials and innocent civilians were executed. The US/NATO forces’ withdrawal from Kunar and Nuristan facilitated  TTP militants’ regrouping across the Pak- Afghan border.  In effect, US/NATO   succeeded in activating another front for Pak Army which recently was forced to deploy additional troops in Dir and Chitral.


     The Pakistani civil and military leadership appear in no mood to budge under US pressure. Rather  the Americans  were warned to refrain from  another Abbottabad style unilateral military action on Pakistan’s soil, as it would have disastrous ramifications for the already heavily strained bilateral ties between Islamabad and Washington.  Any US attempt to escalate the situation would neither serve the cause of peace in Afghanistan nor facilitate an honorable US exit from the region.


     Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, too, has rejected US media reports that in her latest meeting with Secretary of State in New York, Hillary Clinton gave an ultimatum to Islamabad to launch the anti Haqqani offensive. However Pak- US political and diplomatic engagements  must continue to restore trust and confidence between two ‘most allied allies.’  


       If the US desires to bring the Taliban and Haqqanis on the negotiating table, they must weaken or defeat them within Afghanistan to the point that the Americans can deal with them from a position of strength. With the increased intensity of Afghan resistance witnessed in recent months, such a situation seems no where visible on the horizon.



   Why is the US making Pakistan the scapegoat to cover up its own strategic failures and blunders in Afghanistan? Why should Pak Army attack and alienate the Haqqanis with whom we have no dispute? Any offensive in North Waziristan could also endanger Pak Army’s peace agreements with various tribal groups, thereby disrupting the Army’s strategy to isolate the TTP and other hostile militant bodies.


   Washington’s targets are undoubtedly both Pak Army and the ISI, their old allies that the US now perceives as the stumbling blocks in its grand designs. The Haqqani hype provides yet another opportunity to defame both. Pak Army must not fall into the American trap in N.Waziristan which could get the Army  entangled  into a complex  situation with  heavy blowback in our cities/towns.

NOTE: This is a cross post from THE NEWS.


Anything but MORALITY



This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive!

By:Jawad Raza Khan

A preacher had a teenage son, who was unsure of what to do in life. One day, preacher placed Bible; silver dollar; bottle of whisky and a Playboy magazine on his table. Thinking, If child picks Bible, would be a blessing; if the dollar, he ‘ll be a businessman; the bottle, ! What a shame? Worst of all, magazine “Oh lord! How I will face the world ?. When the boy was in room, he picked and placed the Bible under his arm, slipped silver dollar into pocket, gulped half the bottle, and gazed the magazine… father proudly whispered, ” Wow, I am father of the future US President”, because all you need is “ Anything but Morality”.

On 20th September 2011, the most powerful man on planet addressed the world community in 42nd session of General Assembly. The address of Mr. Barack Hussein Obama completely represented the whispering pride of the preacher; just to recapitulate following were the acmes of the address.

I am in favour of creation of Palestinian state, but it cannot be created through UN resolution ; May I draw the attention of Mr President Barack Hussein Obama on creation of East Timor through UN resolution, but yes! It required American support, which was not there till mid-90s as Americans were the biggest Arms suppliers to the Suharto government for Indonesian invasion expressed by UN General Assembly. US arms provisions to Indonesia between 1975 and 1995 amounted to approximately $1.1 billion; and this all was carried out in the backdrop of Cold War. After 1991, a grassroots movement was motorized a bipartisan effort in Congress to reverse US government’s cynical course. On November 12, 1991 in Dili, at the Santa Cruz Cemetery, Indonesian troops armed with American-made M-16 rifles gunned down more than 270 Timorese civilians. Since then, Congress has begun to shift the direction of US policy. After the massacre, 52 Senators wrote to President Bush, calling for active US support for the implementation of the UN resolutions on East Timor “with an eye toward a political solution that might end the needless suffering in East Timor and bring about true self-determination for the territory.” It was the first of a series of bipartisan House and Senate letters affirming support for East Timor’s self-determination. There were more than 100,000 causalities in East Timor through American weapons which were realized after the end of Cold War by US, and within 10 years an historic UN resolution was passed for the referendum in 1999 and East Timor was declared as an independent State. On the other hand more than 300,000 people have been killed in Kashmir and Palestine (again courtesy US weapons and a meaningful nod to India and Israel) has not been able to impress either UN or US for immediate intervention like in East Timor. Even the recent case of huge mass graves found in Indian held Kashmir could not draw the attention of the world leaders and just nothing was deliberated by US president or Secretary of UN on this fearful subject of human genocide.

Philosophy of change through terror is dead with OBL .Sir, the people all around the world have not forgotten; the Hollywood style expression of your predecessor, before invading Iraq, the strategy of Shock and Awe that too, on the pretext of sheer lie (Weapons of Mass Destruction); Thousands of Iraqis were killed “but you got the change” and mind you sir it was through terror and a BIG LIE; At least 919,967 people have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since the U.S. and coalition forces have invaded these sovereign countries, (based on lowest credible estimates); your created phantom of OBL who has been killed, God knows when and where, still not evidenced but the philosophy you have mentioned cannot not die with your living intent of US hegemony over the globe.

World should be cleaned from nuclear arsenals. “Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki”. Just to give a gentle reminder that in the history of mankind the nuclear bombs are only used by US against humanity. In addition to this, strategic partner of US in this volatile region of subcontinent “India”in a joint study group headed by Richard N. Haass President Council on Foreign Relations and Tarun Das Founding Trustee Aspen Institute India, have formulated yet another hypothesis on the basis of their self-createdassumption (may be an aspiring delusion). It goes like that “The United States and India should begin classified exchanges on multiple Pakistan contingencies, including the collapse of the Pakistan state and the specter of the Pakistan military losing control of its nuclear arsenal”. I am speechless, as to why this combination of hypocrites are interested to take over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals, when, Mr. President wants this world to be cleaned from this evil. They should have started the cleaning process from their home by now.

The world community must stop Iran’s and Korea’s nuclear program. Before commenting on North Korea and Iran please tell your staff to furnish you the list of nuclear whistle blowers, and surprisingly most of them are either US nationals or from Israeli origin. Yes! Americans can call or label them as politically transpired men, but what about “Mordechai Vanunu” who has been characterized internationally as a nuclear whistleblower and by Israel as a traitor. Daniel Ellsberg who was a former United States military analyst, referred to him as “the preeminent hero of the nuclear era”. In 2010, the British artist Richard Hamilton completed a painting based on the famous press photograph of Vanunu in transit after his kidnapping, with the information concerning his capture in Rome scrawled on his hand for the press outside.

As President of US, it’s time to realize to that the adventure of free society vowing for freedom of expression is now in a position of toiling the administration that is supporting it for more than two centuries. This living world is now extremely impulsive and has an enormous capability to differentiate between a liar and a hypocrite, indeed the former is lesser evil then the latter.            NOTE:The writer is a political commentator based in Islamabad.