Sunday, September 28, 2008

Obama breathes fire, McCain shows restraint:

Who is right?


Obama: "I'm going to send 2-3 additional brigades to Afghanistan ... because AlQaida and the Taliban have safe havens in Pakistan, across the border in the Northwest Regions ... and although under George Bush, we've been ging'em 10 billion Dollars over the last seven years, they have not done what needs to be done to get rid of those safe havens - and until they do, Americans here at home are not going to be safe."

McCain: " ... if you’re going to aim a gun at somebody ... you’d better be prepared to pull the trigger ... You don't say things out loud, if you have to do things, you have to do things. This area, on the border, is not been governed since the days of Alexander the Great. I have been to Waziristan, I've seen how tough that terrain is, it's ruled by a handful of tribes ... "

Two-Three additional brigades? Governor NWFP said just yesterday they'll have to massacre half the population of Afghanistan/FATA to eliminate Taliban.

Out of the two, McCain knows the realities on the ground better, but Obama is going to win. It's experience against adrenaline induced exuberance - and exuberance always wins.

However, the aim is the same. They only differ on strategy, though McCain is the wiser of the two.

In the long run none will win, regardless of who wins the US Presidential race.

(Title courtesy Dawn)

Friday, September 26, 2008

A view of things to come

The scenario may be described as following :--

1-Pakistan int's meddling in Afghanistan and participation in its destruction with USA and UK and Saudi Intelligence from 1978 to 1992 and continual interference till 2001.

RESULT:-- A very strong anti Pakistan sentiment created in Afghan elite consisting of the army,intelligence,civil service ,intellectuals and urban areas.

2-Entry of USA and NATO in Afghanistan.

RESULT:--- A policy adopted to coerce Pakistan by forcing its armed forces to act against tribals/Islamists thus as a result creation of a situation which was taken advantage by other third parties to further heat up the Pakistani civil war.

3-Creation of a democratic government in Pakistan which came into power as a result of secret protocols with USA.

RESULT --- A serious internal policy divide created.


Threat of physical attack.

Encouraging secession in Pakistani provinces.

Dividing the Pashtuns and Punjabis.


Surrender or compromise.Gradual reduction of Pakistani states potential,denuclearisation.

Transformation of Pakistan as a US satellite state with US Bases.


Course Alpha:-- Compromise.Pakistan stays intact but totally under US influence and at constant civil war like Algeria.

Course Bravo:-- Pakistan Army picks up the gauntlet.Decides to militarily resist the Americans.Offers bases to China and Russia.Totally stops Afghan Transit Trade while allowing Afghanistan to buy from the tribals alone who are given a preferential status.Defence Treaty with China.Close relations with Iran.

Course Alpha is more likely.Course Bravo requires resolution and strong leadership which is sadly lacking.

Five-minute ground battle? Blow Hot Blow Cold:

Other extracts from the same report:

ISPR: “Two helicopters from the Afghanistan side crossed into Saidgai, Ghulam Khan Sector, North Waziristan. When the helicopters passed over our border post and were well within Pakistan territory, our security forces fired anticipatory warning shots,” said a statement issued by the ISPR.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman: Pakistani troops had fired at US helicopters. “The flight path of the helicopters at no point took them over Pakistan,” he said. Mr Whitman said US and Nato military officials were speaking to their Pakistani counterparts to determine what had happened and to ensure there would be no recurrence. “This is an unfortunate incident. It just goes to demonstrate the importance of coordination along that border,” he said. “The Pakistanis have to provide us with a better understanding of why this took place.” Citing early reports, Mr Whitman said neither helicopter was hit by ground fire and did not return fire against Pakistani positions. Officials said the aircraft would likely have fired back had they been hit. “We avoided a serious incident,” Mr Whitman said, but added: “The incident is troubling, no doubt.”

Zardari: “You mean the flares,” said Mr Zardari when a reporter asked him to comment on the Pentagon’s claim. “Sometimes the border is so mixed that they don’t realise they have crossed the border,” said Mr Zardari, seated opposite Ms Rice at his hotel in New York.

Condoleeza Rice: “The border is very, very unclear, I know,” agreed Ms Rice. Ms Rice tried to defuse the tension, saying that the United States and Pakistan remained close allies in the war on terror.

A military official:... two American OH-58 reconnaissance helicopters, known as Kiowas, crossed into the border post, prompting the Pakistani side to fire warning shots.

Locals:... one of the helicopters was up to one and half kilometers inside Pakistani territory while the other hovered on the Afghan side.

ISAF:The International Security Assistance Force insisted however that the choppers had not entered Pakistani airspace. “Isaf helicopters received small-arms fire from a Pakistan military checkpoint along the border near Tanai district, in Khost province, while conducting routine operations in Afghanistan,” it said in a statement. “There are no reports of any damage to the helicopters or any casualties.” The statement added: “Isaf forces and the Pakistani military are working together to resolve the matter.”

It appears a hot incident did take place. The Inter Services Public Relations of the Pakistan armed forces (ISPR), an unnamed military official, the Pentagon, as well as the ISAF in Afghanistan - all say it took place. Only Zardari and Rice suggest these were just flares to warn of a border crossing.

Blow hot Blow cold is right. It appears the Pakistan Army is delivering on its word to put a stop to cross-border flights by ISAF, Zardari and Rice notwithstanding.

Not a good signal for Zardari's Presidency at all.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pakistan's Balkanization

By SHAHID R. SIDDIQUI Lahore, Pakistan

22/09/08 "ICH" -- - - Re-mapping of the Muslim world is under spotlight in the US and Pakistan's balkanization forms a part of this agenda. American strategists are propagating the need to redraw its borders on ethnic lines by creating new political entities in the name of justice long denied to 'oppressed Muslim minorities'. 'Internal factors' are identified in each case, sometimes very naively, that they believe could lead to desired fragmentation. Redrawn maps were released, ostensibly to test the waters. That this also reflects the mindset of the US administration can be seen by its efforts and actions to engineer grounds for military intervention, regime-change or fragmentation in target countries.

Rising militant Islam, serious challenges to American hegemony as world power, shifting of the economic epicenter to Asia and the worsening economic situation at home, all point to another 'New World Order' in the making – wherein America stands to lose much of its power and glory by mid century, if not sooner. Resurgent Russia and a powerful China are forcing it to redefine its strategic global planning, with focus on Eurasia. A paranoid America is willing to pursue all options to prevent its slide from power.

American strategists favor fracturing and weakening the national unity of Islamic states that could become strongholds of Islamic militants. They want oil rich territories like Kurdistan, Eastern Arabian Peninsula and Balochistan carved out, unified and controlled by puppet regimes, while splintering other Muslim countries. This would enable the US to secure its oil supplies, micromanage a fragmented Muslim world and choke vital financial resources to Islamic militants. Iraq is already going through the motions.

US invasion of a hostile Iran is feared to come before the new administration takes over. Apart from considering it dangerous to Israeli security and a spoiler in Iraq, the US suspects Iran will trigger the crash of US dollar, and consequently the US economy, by transacting oil sales in Euros in collusion with Venezuela.

The US considers Pakistan unstable due to "political and economic mismanagement, divisive politics, lawlessness, corruption and ethnic friction" and cites this as cause for growing Talibanization. It fears that this might bring Islamic radicals to power with control over the nukes - a frightening scenario for Israeli and the US.

Pakistan's military controls Pakistan's nukes, is an important player in the political dispensation of the country, is resentful of American pressure to fight a war against Taliban that it considers against Pakistan's interests, and has made a shift from the liberal British colonial mindset to a more religious one. From its strategic perspective a friendly government in Kabul that will keep peace on Pakistan's western border has always been critical to its defense planning for this would enable it to face off India on the east, which remains its primary concern. This has led it to maintain close links with Afghan Jihadi groups and the Taliban, until the US forced General Musharraf to abandon them after 9/11. Aware of this, the US fears that this can eventually tilt the balance of war in Taliban's favor and impede its long term objectives in the region. Therefore, a weaker military with lesser geographical spread and without nuclear fangs would clearly suit the US, as well as the Indians who are piggybacking the US.

Of late, Balochistan has been the target in the Indian scheme of Pakistan's further dismemberment. India and the US were disturbed by Gen. Musharraf's new overtures towards China, seeking Chinese strategic economic interests in Balochistan. Motivated by the prospects of Balochistan's development and economic uplift and to checkmate foreign aided secessionist moves in the province, he wanted China to use Gawadar-Sinkiang land corridor for its imports through Gawadar port and transportation of oil refined at a Chinese owned Gawadar based refinery. China also showed interest in joining Pak-Iran gas pipeline project transiting through Balochistan. China's presence in Gawadar would bring it to the Indian Ocean, a sensitive spot both for Indians and Americans – the former seeing this as a threat to its control of the ocean with its blue water navy in the offing and the latter upset with its proximity to the Straits of Hormuz.

These are grounds enough to balkanize Pakistan.

Col. Ralph Peters, supposedly Pentagon's military scholar and former intelligence official, writing in June 2006 issue of Armed Forces Journal on balkanization of the Middle East (Blood Borders), advocates the incorporation of North West Frontier Province into Afghanistan and creation of a sovereign Free Balochistan, carved out of Baloch areas of Pakistan and Iran. His grounds: ethnic affinity. Pakistani Balochistan is estimated to hold 25.1 trillion cft. of gas and 6 trillion barrels of oil.

In his recent article "Drawn and Quartered" Selig Harrison of the Center of International Policy, Washington, DC, concludes that Pakistan's balkanization is imminent owing to the rising nationalist sentiment in the Pashtun belt and growing disillusionment of the Pashtuns, Balochis and Sindhis with Punjab and Pakistan. He believes that ethnic diversity threatens Pakistan's unity.

Both Col. Peters and Harrison are essentially singing the same tune and seem to be presenting a doctrine that broadly reflects US foreign policy.

General Aslam Beg, Pakistan's former Army Chief, notes in an article that to pursue certain common interests with regard to Pakistan and the region, India and the US have signed the Strategic Partnership Deal the declared objective of which is "to contain and curb the rising military and economic power of China and the increasing threat of Islamic extremism in the region". Gen. Beg says this deal has led to the creation of a joint espionage network of CIA, Mosad, MI-6, Raw and others in Afghanistan, which is engaged in activities aimed at destabilizing Pakistan, Iran, China, Russia and other Central Asian states. He claims that dissidents from Pakistan are being trained at Sarobi and Kandahar for missions inside NWFP, whereas bases at Lashkargah and Nawah are being used to train dissidents from Balochistan for missions inside that province and also in support of the so called Balochistan Liberation Army.

In this backdrop, recent calls by some Afghan leaders to 'liberate Pakistani Pashtuns', the departure of Gen. Musharraf and the cozy relationship between his successor and Karazai of Kabul who lost no opportunity to malign Pakistan, assume significance. The latest American decision to send drones and troops into Pakistan's territory, despite the declared Pakistan's opposition, to launch aerial and ground attacks on its tribesmen killing innocent women and children, also raise serious concerns. This seems to be an attempt at drawing a wedge between Pakistan and the independent tribes on the Pakistan side of the Pak-Afghan border belt by establishing Pakistan's inability to protect their life and property and promote a secessionist movement.

Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Center for Research on Globalization, Ottawa (author of War on Terrorism) in his article "The Destabilization of Pakistan" says: "Washington's foreign policy course is to actively promote the political fragmentation and balkanization of Pakistan as a nation". He states: "The US course consists in fomenting social, ethnic and factional divisions and political fragmentation, including the territorial breakup of Pakistan. This course of action is also dictated by US war plans in relation to both Iran and Afghanistan. This US agenda for Pakistan is similar to that applied throughout the broader Middle East Central Asian region."

Chossudovsky points out that "the US strategy, supported by covert intelligence operations, consists in triggering ethnic and religious strife, abetting and financing secessionist movements while also weakening the institutions of the central government."

The US initiatives to balkanize the region are misguided and a grave miscalculation, promising an extremely volatile and unstable geopolitical scenario. Given the ability of jihadi militants to challenge and even defeat US imperialism, this could cause the situation to easily spiral out of control, proving counterproductive to US interests worldwide and seriously undermining the regional and international security environment. It is doubtful if EU will go along with such US plans due to its own security imperatives and in the end the US might find itself to be the Lone Ranger.

In case of Pakistan, the plan will not be easy to accomplish. The military that holds the key to political power and unification of the country, supported by pro-Pakistan segments of the population, will be the biggest stumbling block. Having the benefit of East Pakistan experience behind it and geography no more a handicap, it stands a much better chance at successfully thwarting such attempts and maintaining national integrity.




Zardari flirts with Sarah Palin:

CNN has this to say:
Pakistan’s recently-elected president, Asif Ali Zardari, entered the room seconds later. Palin rose to shake his hand, saying she was “honored” to meet him. Zardari then called her “gorgeous” and said: “Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you.”

“You are so nice,” Palin said, smiling. “Thank you.” A handler from Zardari’s entourage then told the two politicians to keep shaking hands for the cameras. “If he’s insisting, I might hug,” Zardari said. Palin smiled politely.


An excerpt from Zardari's BBC interview with Owen Benett Jones on 25 April 2008:

OBJ: Jemima Khan wrote ... and I quote from her interview with President Musharraf. She says in the end: "He shakes my hand. 'It will be the saddest day for Pakistan if Benazir's crooked widower is in power by Monday,'I say. As the President walks away, he looks back. 'At least we part on agreement.'"

AZ: Well ... what can I say ... she is pretty.

OBJ: Pretty? Are you trying the charm offensive on Jemima Khan?

AZ: One should have pretty friends.

Condoleeza Rice too had written about how Shaukat Aziz had tried to charm her.

What's wrong with these Pakistani leaders? Do they really think powerful and successful women like Condoleeza Rice, Jemima Khan, and Sarah Palin can be charmed by some oily one-liners?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sadruddin Hashwani:

Owner vows Pakistan's Marriott will rise from ashes

ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Sitting next to a half-empty swimming pool dotted with chunks of burnt debris, the owner of the Islamabad Marriott pledges that the devastated hotel will reopen by the end of the year.

Tycoon Sadruddin Hashwani, 68, one of Pakistan's richest men, is overseeing a team of engineers and hotel officials who have spread huge architectural drawings on poolside tables.

The plans show the luxury hotel in its former glory -- before a suicide truck bomber rammed 600 kilograms (1,300 pounds) of high explosives into the outer gates on Saturday night and killed at least 60 people.

"God willing, I will reopen this hotel for the New Year party on December 31," Hashwani told AFP, dressed in traditional Pakistani tunic and baggy trousers and sporting a distinctive mane of silvery hair.

But bringing the Marriott back to life will not be easy.

From the outside, the formerly white, 1970s-style building is little more than a charred shell. Every single room has been incinerated by the fireball that engulfed the hotel.

Walking into the main lobby where Western diplomats once mingled with the Pakistani elite, Hashwani steps around the puddles on the marble floors and points out the broken chandeliers and smashed grand piano.

The choking smell of smoke still clings to the main restaurant where hundreds of people were breaking their daily fast for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan when the bomber struck.

Some guests and workers were returning to the hotel to reclaim whatever they can from the devastation.

"This is all I could find," said Horst August, a German non-governmental organisation worker, showing a melted lump of plastic that appeared to have been a laptop. He suffered burns to his arms in the blast.

But walking up the steps to the rooms on the darkened first-floor hallway, hotel owner Hashwani, a member of the minority Ismaili Muslim sect, pledges that the new Marriott will be even better.

"I have firm faith in Allah and I know that I will be able to give a better look to this hotel," he said, adding that he even planned to start outdoor catering within 15 days.

"The material loss is big but for me the real loss is the human loss. All those employees who were killed in the attack were just like my own family members and I will now take care of their kids and families."

The blast killed two US military personnel, the Czech ambassador to Pakistan and a Vietnamese woman, but most of the victims were the Marriott's workers and security guards.

The gigantic bombing, which officials suspect was carried out by Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, vaporised the hotel's glass outer lobby area where guests were made to pass through X-ray machines.

The security gates that the bomber ploughed his truck into, the outer wall and the drop-off area no longer exist -- all replaced by a huge six-metre-deep (20-foot) crater and an expanse of mud.

Across the road, workers pile up rubble and start to move the dozen or so cars mangled by the force of the blast. A car alarm in one vehicle keeps going off as they clear away trees and concrete blocks.

Some work on the hotel has begun, however. Two workers could be seen daubing one of the soot-stained window frames with white paint.

"I am ready to spend one billion rupees (13 million dollars) to reconstruct the hotel. But I need the government's support to ensure that this can never happen again," Hashwani said.


Credit must go where its due. The commitment displayed by Sadru Hashwani is commendable. He could have just taken the insurance money, abandoned Marriott Islamabad, and concentrated on his existing hotel properties in Karachi, Lahore, Dubai, Canada, and Africa - and building more outside the hot zones. Instead, he wants to stick it out and rebuild the Islamabad Marriott.

Having said that, Sadru Hashwani has been no saint in the past in matters of business. His first property, the Pearl Continental Hotel Karachi, was wrested from the Intercontinental Hotel chain courtesy Zia-ul-Haq's arm-twisting via sheer blackmail. Next was Hilton Karachi, which is now Marriott Karachi. The same story again.

When the original Hotel king of Pakistan, Byram Avari's businesses were targeted by ZA Bhutto for political opposition, Sadru Hashwani emerged through patronizing and funding Zia after Bhutto's overthrow.

Not too long ago, his son, Arif Hashwani, was involved in a shooting in an Islamabad disco alongwith a group of friends, in which one of the other group was killed. There was a minor piece of news, and that was that. No arrests made or charges brought.

Sadru Hashwani is a man of the world, knows his way around, but beyond doubt a patriot.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Suicide bombers coming from Punjab: (Extract)

LAHORE, Sept 22: NWFP Governor Owais Ghani warned Punjab on Monday that militancy was gaining strength in its backyard.

“Militants in the tribal areas of the NWFP have established firm networking (with Jihadi groups) in southern Punjab and most fresh recruits for suicide attacks are coming from there. Militant leaders and commanders are also coming from Punjab. The militants’ field commander in Swat too is from Punjab,” Mr Ghani told a briefing arranged for senior journalists on insurgency in tribal areas.

The words of caution from the governor came soon after a number of people were detained in Punjab apparently in connection with the Marriott bombing.

Mr Ghani also warned against treating the insurgency in the tribal areas as a problem of the NWFP. “It will be ill-advised to think that the militancy will remain confined to the NWFP. Militants’ activities have already shifted to the settled areas and Punjab and they have established strong links with south Punjab. It’s a national issue, a question of survival for (entire) Pakistan.”Later talking to Dawn, the governor said he had discussed the matter with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. He expressed the hope that the Punjab government would effectively handle the situation.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani is also said to be aware of the issue of recruitment of suicide bombers from his constituency. “He (prime minister) knows about it,” Mr Ghani said.



This is absolutely correct. Wonder why no one in authority pinpointed this factor before publicly.

There are many groups now operating under the umbrella title of Taliban - each with a different agenda. The particular South Punjab (Bahawalpur, Sadiqabad) and North-West Punjab (Sargodha, Jhang, Khushab) groups are the sectarian ones operating since late 1980s, and were responsible for suicide bombings of Shia mosques; Shootings of Shia Doctors and religious scholars; the bridge-bomb attempt at Nawaz Sharif near Raiwind; Suicide attacks at the Karachi US Consulate, Karachi Marriot, Karachi Sheraton French Engineers bus; All attempts at Musharraf and the one on Shaukat Aziz; The Airforce Cadets bus near Sargodha; Plus bombings at large Shia centers such as the 2007 carnage at Hangu. The Lahore FIA building bombing was also traced to these groups and some arrests made of persons from Sialkot and Gujranwala.

These groups were splintered from the original political party Sipah-e-Suhaba and its militant wing Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which regarded Shia as Kafirs and had demanded their declaration as non-Muslim. They were cracked down upon during the second Nawaz Sharif term, their literature seized and the party banned. Their operatives were hunted down and the organization dismantled.

But, quite astonishingly, Musharraf asked for help from none other than Maulana Azam Tariq, the Chief of the defunct Sipah-e-Suhaba and then an independent MNA from Jhang in 2002 elections, when he needed a single deciding vote to get Zafarullah Jamali elected as Prime Minister. Azam Tariq provided that vote and Jamali was elected by a single vote majority.

Azam Tariq was killed soon after in a hail of bullets at the Islamabad Toll Plaza, and the suicide attempts on Musharraf commenced. Did Musharraf use and then double-cross the sectarians?

These groups have large numbers of suicide bombers, networks in cities, as well as experience in Urban terror.

The Pushtun suicide bombings on the other hand, as a pattern, have been at military or paramilitary targets - initially to avenge Lal Masjid, and later in response to the Waziristan/Swat Operations.

The Pakistani security agencies know this very well. The sectarians were identified in each of the above attacks listed, many arrested or killed extra-judicially for specific involvement, but much of their leadership was arrested and then released - or simply disappeared after arrest quite inexplicably.

Riaz Basra, the operational Chief of Lashker-e-Jhangvi was one (who was claimed to have been killed in Faisalabad in a police encounter but his mother refused to identify the body as him), and recently, Qari Saifullah Akhtar who had been specifically named in Benazir Bhutto's letter to Musharraf as a threat to her life. Still he was released for lack of evidence by a Sessions Court judge.

Do these people now have powerful handlers? To work towards an agenda to Balkanize Pakistan? To alienate the Pushtuns and carry out a veritable genocide in their areas?

The evidence does point to that. The Islamabad Marriot bombing has all the indicators towards this conclusion.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Has the Countdown Begun?

By SHAHID AZIZ: Sequel to 'Is there War on Terror Yet?' published in The Nation 14 Sept 2008

Will US physical entry in to Pakistan actually help in suppressing the resistance to occupation of Afghanistan and bring peace to the region? If yes, let's do it. However, it will only radicalize the population, leaving no other option with Washington but to declare Pakistan a 'rogue state'.

The premise for US entry is that Pakistan Army is either incapable or unwilling to 'clean up the mess'. Then, does the US Army plan to do this in conjunction with Pakistan Army or in spite of it? It should now be abundantly clear that joint US-Pakistan ground operations in side our borders are not acceptable to this nation and its armed forces. Any other idea is wishful. Even aerial targeting is now not tolerable. We cannot, any more, continue to pretend that this was not happening. We were slowly and helplessly maneuvered in to such a compromising position that we even owned up some of their strikes killing many innocent citizens, and paid heavily in reprisals. Has this seven years' strategy made any headway? Today, the US Dept of Defense and the Pentagon accept that they are not winning, but given more of the same they could do it.

Afghanistan is not controllable, and they insist that if the war were spread into Pakistan, peace would prevail; Vietnam logic? Have the consequences been forgotten? Will this spread be controllable? Will the operations then extend into Peshawar and beyond? How many more men and dollars will be pumped in, and coffins pumped out? Is there an end in sight? Does this make sense? Is anyone listening? Hello!

There is no way out, but to talk to Mullah Umer, who once controlled Afghanistan. Having lost territory in battle, and unlawfully declared 'terrorists', the Taliban have not yet been defeated, for that is a state of mind. There can be no peace without their involvement. Peace deals with local Taliban are a meaningless pacification fa├žade - just closing our eyes and pretending that we are doing what we can.

And so is our economic development and education package, of which very little has materialized in seven years. Hundreds of suicide bombers are ready to lay their lives for a cause - do they recruit them for money? Were the 9/11 bombers madrassa students or poor and hungry? And this is quite well understood by Washington and by Islamabad too; but they are such spin masters. If Osama and Mullah Umer were dead, would it make any difference to this war? Would the Afghans and our tribals then accept US occupation of Afghanistan?

There is no other option: the US and NATO have to leave this region. Taliban will accept peace only under a neutral peace keeping force without regional players, and a time frame for internationally conducted elections. In today's environment not many countries would be willing to send a peacekeeping force, but when Taliban accept a negotiated settlement, peace can return; and neutral players will step in to save the world. Yes, to save the world, for that is the potential of devastation that lies hidden in this imbroglio.

But this is not the Washington way of doing things and will, therefore, not come about. They will continue to propagate fear of Islamic radicals amongst the American public, regardless of change in government. Their build up in Afghanistan and along our coastline will continue. CIA, already grown to fearful proportions with sanctioned liberty to enroll agents from within our unsuspecting population, will continue to connive with RAW and destabilize Pakistan. No wonder the ISI is being discredited, for they understood and were resisting their game plan, and General Musharraf refused to "do more", which literally implied that he sacrifice our core security concerns for unspecified US agenda.

It is, at best, irrelevant to address concerns like burning down schools and bomb blasts. The issue at the core of the problem must be discussed. All the rest is its fallout, and only relevant for propaganda. "The Taliban are coming! They will take over the country! They will whip us into submission!" What rubbish are we being made to believe! It took two decades and billions of dollars to radicalize Afghanistan under a deliberate scheme. The only extremism in Pakistan till 9/11 had been sponsored sectarian terrorism. There is no possibility of a cleric takeover in Pakistan. However, this is a country created in the name of Islam; has been and will remain as such - The Islamic Republic of Pakistan. This is our faith, this is our constitution and this is our destiny. And our Army's battle cry has always been "Allaho Akbar".

Since there is no US intent to find peace, we must fend for ourselves, as best as we can. To begin with, let's call our Tribal Areas: Pakistan, when we talk to the US. This is not alien entry into Tribal Areas but into Pakistan. The distinction will be a great folly. They would like us to back off from the Tribal Areas and leave it as 'No Man's Land'. This will not happen. For us, there is no choice but to formally declare US entry into Pakistan as an act of war. We must move to the UN and elsewhere to seek assistance, and meanwhile cause military deterrence to US incursions. If the diplomatic battle does not succeed, which is likely, we have no option but declaration of neutrality in the US Afghan war. This is the note on which our journey started. It will imply closing all support to the US and also tightening our belts. That is the price of sovereignty. Else we can continue to pretend that we are fighting our war, till we are splintered, subdued and defanged.

Within the parameters of current internal dynamics of Pakistan, the US cannot remain in indefinite occupation of Afghanistan. There is no option for them but to subdue Pakistan, and this cannot be brought about without a major upheaval. Their policy is stagnating, and they have little patience left. There is no possibility of militarily denuclearizing Pakistan. A clean sweep is not a practical proposition, we are beyond that point. Pakistan will have to be politically subdued into surrendering its capability; even though the political surrender is brought about through military means, without escalating to the nuclear dimension. The time is, perhaps, not yet ripe for this end game, yet they hurry into it. Continuing peaceful political subjugation should currently be their preferred option. But they have made the mistake of an early entry, perhaps due to incorrect assessment of our reaction to their intrusion, and misreading the military and public response; or perhaps out of arrogance of their might. If we wait too long we will be internally exhausted and unable to cope with their design, when it unfolds. We must tackle them now.

Their possible design is to destabilize Pakistan through spreading militancy across the country, causing internal fissures, political chaos and economic meltdown, generating total breakdown of law and order resulting in despondency and hopelessness in the nation, and then engineering a military confrontation with India, and creating a global uproar about a destabilized Pakistan not in control of its situation and the possibility of nuclear weapons falling in the wrong hands, with a view to push for a UN Resolution under Chapter 7 to take control of Pakistan's nuclear assets. Under the circumstances of the Resolution being vetoed, escalate the military situation to maul Pakistan's infrastructure and military capacity, while backing the militants to take over the now exposed areas of Balochistan and Frontier Province. The US then intervenes, as a friend, to prevent India from pushing Pakistan over the nuclear threshold. Pakistan, at this point, would stand devastated, fragmented and disillusioned, with no capacity to sustain itself. Nuclear disarmament under the UN would follow, since the world would have been brought to the brink of a nuclear holocaust and barely saved by the US. An irresponsible and now an unviable state cannot be left in possession of a nuclear arsenal.

Were such a design to materialize, Pakistan will have no option but to reverse the conformist wisdom of first fighting a conventional war and then, on reaching the threshold, bringing up the nuclear card. The US will, in any case, intervene at this point. Their game would have been played and Pakistan would stand shattered. Under such multi dimensional threat, we would have no option but to avoid a conventional engagement and open up with the nuclear card. A declaration that an attack by India would be considered an attack also by its ally the US and anyone else who cares to join the game, and therefore all US interests in range would be engaged. A nuclear warning shot in the Bay of Bengal, across India, demonstrating our circular range capacity would be most appropriate. You don't mess with a nuclear power and get away with it.

This or something like this is what our enemies might be contemplating. The US cannot continue its domination of the region without subjugating the Pakistani nation. A nuclear Pakistan cannot now be subdued through political means alone; therefore some violent methods will have to be employed to end the game. May Allah grant us the wisdom and strength to handle these issues. This is not a time for political bickering and infighting. Perhaps this is the most critical period of our history, a time when we need to be giving strength to each other; a time to hold hands. We have never been confronted directly by an enemy this size. Our internal cohesion is critical to our survival.

We have no friends around who would come and put things right for us. Lets' do it. Every man is guilty of the good he did not do - Voltaire.

The author served as Chief of General Staff of Pakistan Army from 2001 to 2003.

Descent Into Chaos

Book Review

Descent into Chaos , Ahmed Rashid, Allen Lane,2008.ISBN No .978-1-846-14175-1

A.H Amin

Ahmed Rashid acquired fame and became darling of the west when his book on Taliban was published in 2000 or so.Descent into Chaos is another bestseller as far as publishing statistics is concerned.It is a tragedy that the West,guardian of the present worlds intellectual property projects what suits its political and social interests and stifles what it finds “ politically unacceptable”.Seen in this background what Ahmed Rashid writes is acceptable to the west.Possibly because what he says fits hand in glove with western perceptions about how to shape the future.

As normal the book has some factual errors.Some insignificant some not so insignificant and some which not have escaped the sagacity of a known Afghanistan hand like Ahmed Rashid.

The Ghilzai revolt started not in 1701 as stated on page.7 but in 1709. The Durranis did not move the capital to Kabul in 1772 as stated on page.7 but in 1774 if we agree with Sayed Qasem Reshtia a great Afghan historian or 1775 if we believe Louis Dupree who is concerned the most reliable western historian. On page.8 Ahmed Rashid states that the British tried to conquer Afghanistan three times. This is not correct. It happened twice if we include the English East India Company and once if we include the Second Afghan War of 1878-80. In the Third Afghan War it were the Afghans who tried to attack India and miserably failed and the British launched some very local offensive actions at Spin Boldak and Khyber Agency to push back the Afghans. On page.9 Rashid promotes Major General Naseerullah Babar to lieutenant general rank. On page.11 he states that for first time in 300 years the Afghan capital Kabul fell in non Pashtun hands once Ahmad Shah Masud captured it. This is quite incorrect. The first time Afghanistan’s capital fell in Non Pashtun hands was once the Persian Qazalbash Nadir Shah captured Kandahar the then capital of Ghiljai Pashtuns on 24 March 1738 some 224 years before 1992 and Kabul on 29 June 1738 again some 223 years and some 10 months before April 1992.

In any case we must remember that Kabul was a Hindu province for a long time in twelfth century and a Mughal Indian province for some 200 plus years long before 1992. On page 17 Rashid states that the Pakistani FC managed Pakistani artillery and communications. This is factually incorrect. The FC hardly has any artillery and the Afghans did not require any training in communications. In any case the Afghans had a much larger number of ex Afghan Army gunners with Mujahideen quite capable of handling all types of artillery guns of Soviet vintage available in Afghanistan.

Rashid seems to be very friendly with US officials who throughout his narrative keep on telling him so many things,like on page.18 US officials tell him that Al Qaeda was responsible for USS Cole. On page.34 Rashid states that “ the British conquest of Northwest India was aimed solely at providing security from marauding Afghan Baloch and Pashtun tribes” . This assertion is factually incorrect. The British company English East India Company’s conquest of North West India comprising modern Pakistan was done in response to invasion of Sikhs of British territory in 1845. At that time the Sikhs were controlling all major Pashtun cities like Peshawar,Bannu ,Kohat,D.I Khan etc so the question of the Pashtun, Afghan or Baloch simply does not arise. Musharraf was not commissioned in the field artillery as stated on page.45 but in the “ Self Propelled Artillery”. On page.45 Rashid states that in 1971 Musharraf commanded an SSG Commando unit which went behind the enemy lines. In 2002 I interviewed Musharrafs Commanding Officer in 1971 Brigadier Iqbal Nazir Warraich who confirmed that Musharraf was a sub unit commander under him and Musharraf’s sub unit was not used behind enemy lines.

On page.52 Rashid states that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was the ISI’s investigative arm. This is also factually incorrect. The NAB was an independent public body which was not independent and not connected to ISI in any organizational sense. On page.73 Rashid calls Burhanuddin Rabbani a Panjsheri Tajik which is not correct. Rabbani was from Badakhshan province. On page.79 Rashid states that the ISI chief (Mahmood) was forced to resign. This is incorrect. Mahmood was simply removed and never resigned and to date draws his pension from the army to which an officer who resigns his commission is not entitled. On page 186 Rashid reduces the distance from Kabul to Kandahar to 190 miles which is not correct. On page 193 Rashid states that the Mazar Kabul line was financed by World Bank. This is not correct since this electric transmission line was a gift of Government of India to Afghanistan. Karachi port had not serviced transit trade for Afghanistan since 1950s as stated on page 192 but for a long time before that dating back to the Kalhora,Talpur and British times. There was a famous incident of a ship carrying armaments for Afghanistan by the British so that King Amanullah was militarily weakened against Afghan rebels in late 20s.

On page.259 Rashid states that the ISI was meeting Taliban leaders in Command and Staff College Quetta. This is quite funny and ridiculous. Why should the ISI meet insurgents in an academic institution with which it has no connection rather than in a safe house. Probably Rashid was trying to be humorous. On page.261 Rashid indicates that Afghan ministers gave up their foreign passports. My inquiries while permanently based in Kabul from June 2004 till to date indicate that this assertion is not correct.

On page.274 Rashid places the Mahsud tribe in North Waziristan whereas Mahsuds main area is South Waziristan Agency. On page 275 Rashid states that a murdered man’s body was found in military handcuffs. This is a unique discovery. My inquiries reveal that there is no such object as military handcuffs.The military buys handcuffs from the open market.On page 331 Rashid states that the Afghan Tajikistan border is 750 miles whereas my inquiries reveal that it may be about a 100 mile less.

Factual errors done with we move on to the more serious assertions of Rashid. On page.4 Rashid dismisses Mullah Omar as a itinerant preacher who could not claim the pedigree of Karzais. On page.13 Rashid again ridicules Mullah Omar for being born without social status or pedigree. I find this distinctly snobbish coming from the pen of a leftist Ahmed Rashid. Probably in his old age he has become class conscious. On page 6 Rashid states that easy to pass through the country has been impossible to conquer. Now this is a relative statement.For more than 200 years most parts of Afghanistan were provinces of Mughal and Saffavid Empires. The Mughals actually had a Hindu Rajput Governor in Kabul.

On page 19 Rashid passes sweeping judgment on Talibans when he says that Osama Bin Laden had a clear strategy in mind to isolate them from the world. A more balanced and scholarly approach may have been used. Rashid cites no supporting sources.

Some of Rashids conclusions about Pakistan are quite accurate. Like Pakistan as a state being grappled with an acute sense of insecurity. The army’s monopolization of power in Pakistan in the name of national security. His analysis of the Pakistani military mindset is penetrating and brilliant. His exposure of of the military links of the likes of Maliha Lodhi and Shaukat Aziz is again a breath of fresh air. Rashids revelations about the Pakistani intelligence agency ISIs negative role in Pakistani politics is bold and accurate to the dot.

One may not agree with how the USA downsized the Afghan intelligence. My inquiries reveal that some of the most brilliant officers of the indomitable Khad were removed just because the American advisors wanted to severely reduce Russian influence. Rashids analysis of US firm Louis Burger is incomplete and not wholly correct. Louis Burgers failures in delay in building of schools was because of unprofessional sub contracting procedures and because of the fallacious policy of hiring only Afghan NGOs to do the job instead of commercial firms. Most of these NGOs were owned by political appointees and haphazardly formed to siphon the fruits of US aid. I saw the whole process myself as the Vice President of an Afghan NGO which was building schools and clinics for Louis Burger in 2004 and 2005 in Helmand ,Ghazni and Kunduz. Rashid does not have his facts correct when he states that Louis Burger had just 9 schools and 2 clinics ready in end of 2005. The number was much larger than this. Even in this case some Afghan NGOs like CDU did extremely well.

Rashids conclusion that the ISI was no longer in control of the monster of extremism that it created are valid but incomplete.What about the CIA and the Saudi intelligence the real fathers of extremism?

On page 223 Rashid states that Pakistani artillery gave covering fire to Taliban militants infiltrating Afghanistan. This is an illogical and implausible assertion. The Talibans do not need covering fire because a very large part of Afghanistan Pakistan border is unmanned. The most important stretch in Helmand and Nimroz has hardly any Afghan NATO or US presence at all.

Rashid is harsh on the Americans,the Pakistanis as well as the Afghans.However he presents no tangible recommendations to remedy the situation.

His analysis ignores some important ground realities.First that the USA came to Afghanistan to achieve certain strategic objectives.Its aim was not altruistic or missionary.Thus the low per capita aid figure to USA.The US objective at least till 2008 has been to maintain control of about 15 plus military/air bases .The US troop strength is far below the minimum necessary to even ensure security in Afghanistan.

The control of Afghanistan still lies with the pre 1992 bureaucracy trained by the Soviets. This includes the army,the civil services, the police which was a real bastion of the leftists and above all the foreign ministry and the intelligence. All despite various reductions and purges by the USA and NATO.The Northern Alliance cadres on whom the USA tried to rely dod not simply have enough trained and educated recruits. Thus the important division in all Afghan Government in between the Maslakis ( professionals) and the Wasta dars (those who came without sufficient qualifications).

Rashid also ignores the fact that Pakistan’s Islamic extremism is not the result of a sudden flight but a logical result of misuse of religion by all major Muslim leaders since 1858.

Rashids subject matter is vast and the complexities with which he is trying to deal are vast in magnitude and their dimensions.Rashid’s analysis is subtle and thought provoking but marred by his extreme bias against the Taliban. This leads him repeatedly to make preconceived statements and sweeping judgments.

Nevertheless Rashids analsyis is thought provoking and can be immensely instrumental as a catalyst in inspiring more research on the subject. My fear is that Rashid’s present work is more a commercial venture with one eye on audience in the west. This is not the idealistic Rashid reporting from Kabul for the Far Eastern Economic Review. But as they say “ things do not change,we change”.

One may not agree with Rashids assertion about Central Asia being the new bastion of Al Qaeda. With Russia fast moving in and re-asserting it may be more difficult for the Al Qaeda to gain ascendancy in Central Asia. The provisional centre of gravity of the Al Qaeda lies in non state actors in Pakistan and the Arabian Gulf. It is going to be a long bloody war for the USA to alter this particular strategic situation.

Live CCTV Footage

Was it an attack on US Marines?

Ansar Abbasi

The News

Sunday, September 21, 2008

ISLAMABAD: Was there a top secret and mysterious operation of the US Marines going on inside the Marriott when it was attacked on Saturday evening? No one will confirm it but circumstantial evidence is in abundance.

Witnessed by many, including a PPP MNA and his friends, a US embassy truckload of steel boxes was unloaded and shifted inside the Marriott Hotel on the same night when Admiral Mike Mullen met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and others in Islamabad.

Both the main gates (the entrance and the exit) of the hotel were closed while no one except the US Marines were either allowed to go near the truck or get the steel boxes unloaded or shift them inside the hotel. These steel boxes were not passed through the scanners installed at the entrance of the hotel lobby and were reportedly shifted to the fourth and fifth floors of the Marriott.

Besides several others, PPP MNA Mumtaz Alam Gilani and his two friends, Sajjad Chaudhry, a PPP leader, and one Bashir Nadeem, witnessed this mysterious activity to which no one other than the PPP MNA objected and protested.

A source present there told The News that after entertaining them with refreshments at the Nadia restaurant at midnight when Mumtaz Alam, along with his friends, was to leave the hotel, he found a white US embassy truck standing right in front of the hotel's main entrance.

Both the In-gate and the Out-gate of the hotel were closed while almost a dozen well-built US Marines in their usual fatigues were unloading the steel boxes from the truck. No one, including the hotel security men, was either allowed to go near the truck or touch the steel boxes, which were being shifted inside the hotel but without passing through the scanners.

Upon inquiry, one of the three PPP friends who was waiting for the main gates of the hotel to open to get his car in, was informed that the suspicious boxes were shifted to the fourth and fifth floors of the hotel. Mumtaz Alam was furious both at the US Marines and the hotel security not only for the delay caused to them but also for the security lapse he was witnessing.

On his protest, there was absolutely no response from the Marines and the security men he approached were found helpless. Mumtaz Alam told the hotel security official that they were going to endanger the hotel and its security. He was also heard telling his friends that he would never visit the hotel again. He also threatened to raise the issue in parliament.

One does not know whether the PPP MNA revisited the hotel after that mysterious midnight but his brother Imtiaz Alam, who is a senior journalist, was in the same hotel when the truck exploded at the main gate of the hotel. Imtiaz Alam had a lucky escape and found his way out of the hotel with great difficulty in pitch darkness.

One of the lifts he was using fell to the ground floor just after he forced the door open on the 4th floor and got out of it.


This is the US Marine activity mentioned in the comments to the Pavocavalry article below. If there's a domestic militant linkage, it would have to be this.

Islamabad Blast Some Initial Reflections

Who did it :---

1- The Americans would put the blanket name AL QAEDA
2-Any third party trying to mobilise public opinion in Pakistan against the Islamists and to rationalise Pakistani rulers collaboration with USA
3-The Islamists

I am reminded of Graham Greene's book in which the subject of US CIA involvement in some blasts in Vietnam in early 1960s is discussed. I am reminded of Hitlers attack on Reichstag by fire and then blaming the Jews.


1-Severe moral impact
2-PPP govt given a reason to collaborate with USA
3-Severe impact on Pakistan's image and severe erosion of remaining investor confidence in Afghanistan thus making it far easier for USA to economically coerce Pakistan
4-That any state atrocity against the Islamists and the tribal Pashtuns is morally legitimate

BENEFICIARY :---THE USA and its Anglo Saxon Atalantic Rim Alliance

Saturday, September 20, 2008


US advisors to train Pak Army under new deal
20 September 2008

A long-delayed plan to send dozens of US military advisors to Pakistan to train its army in counterinsurgency could begin in a matter of weeks under a new agreement on a training base, according to the top US military officer, reports Los Angeles Times.

Washington for months has urged the Pakistani military to accept the training team. Pakistan has resisted, asking for additional weaponry and equipment some US officials believe is best suited for its standoff with regional rival India.

But Navy Adm Michael G Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the primary stumbling block had been the fact that Pakistan could not build the training site, near the western town of Peshawar, quickly enough. The two sides have agreed to use an alternative base north of the capital. “We’re still going through some administrative delays, but I do see it happening,” Mullen said in an interview en route from Washington to his hometown of Los Angeles, where he plans a series of talks in coming days. “I think it’s in the next few weeks.”

Mullen’s remarks were his first since returning Wednesday from an unannounced trip to Pakistan, his fifth since becoming chairman last year. He said he made the latest visit because of accusations that the US had violated Pakistan’s sovereignty in a special operations raid this month near the Afghan border.

Pakistani officials have warned they might open fire on foreign troops that cross into Pakistani territory.

Mullen said he believed Pakistani officials were insisting on their right “to defend their country, which I understand, which anybody understands.”

He added: “Clearly we have no desire to get into any kind of engagement with the Pakistani military.”

Earlier, US Defence Secretary Robert M Gates in London emphasised the importance of strategy talks with Pakistan. Asked to identify the central front in the administration’s war on terrorism, Gates said Al Qaeda’s havens in western Pakistan remained a “real threat.”

Have we lost the Tribal Areas ?

Hamid Mir from Bannu

Capital Talk -18 September 2008
(Watch 09:25-12:47 mins)

Hamid Mir from Bannu

A Modernized Taliban Thrives in Afghanistan

By Pamela Constable
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, September 20, 2008

KABUL, Sept. 19 -- Just one year ago, the Taliban insurgency was a furtive, loosely organized guerrilla force that carried out hit-and-run ambushes, burned empty schools, left warning letters at night and concentrated attacks in the southern rural regions of its ethnic and religious heartland.

Today it is a larger, better armed and more confident militia, capable of mounting sustained military assaults. Its forces operate in virtually every province and control many districts in areas ringing the capital. Its fighters have bombed embassies and prisons, nearly assassinated the president, executed foreign aid workers and hanged or beheaded dozens of Afghans.

The new Taliban movement has created a parallel government structure that includes defense and finance councils and appoints judges and officials in some areas. It offers cash to recruits and presents letters of introduction to local leaders. It operates Web sites and a 24-hour propaganda apparatus that spins every military incident faster than Afghan and Western officials can manage.

"This is not the Taliban of Emirate times. It is a new, updated generation," said Waheed Mojda, a former foreign ministry aide under the Taliban Islamic Emirate, which ruled most of the country from 1996 to 2001. "They are more educated, and they don't punish people for having CDs or cassettes," he said. "The old Taliban wanted to bring sharia, security and unity to Afghanistan. The new Taliban has much broader goals -- to drive foreign forces out of the country and the Muslim world."

In late 2001, U.S. forces made common cause with ethnic groups in Afghanistan's north to overthrow the Taliban, in response to Osama bin Laden's use of the country as a base. Hamid Karzai was tapped as president by the United States and other powers, then elected to the job. In the early years, much of the deeply conservative Muslim country was largely peaceful and secure.

Over the past two years, the Taliban's revival has been fueled by fast-growing popular dissatisfaction with Karzai's government, which has failed to bring services and security to much of the country. Deepening public resentment against civilian deaths caused by U.S. and NATO alliance airstrikes is another factor.

No one here believes that the insurgents, estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 fighters, are currently capable of seizing the capital of Kabul or toppling the government, which is backed by more than 130,000 international troops. But a series of spectacular urban attacks in recent months, notably the bombing of the Indian Embassy and an armed assault on a parade reviewing stand where Karzai sat, have turned Kabul into a maze of bunkers and barricades that drive officialdom ever farther from the public.

In many regions a short drive from the capital, some of them considered safe even six months ago, residents and officials said the Taliban now controls roads and villages, patrolling in trucks and recruiting new fighters. Its members execute government employees, bomb and burn cargo trucks on the highway, and search bus passengers for foreign passports and cellphones programmed with official numbers.

"Our staff members don't want to commute to the capital anymore," said Nader Nadery, an official of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. "They say, 'If the Taliban find my cellphone and call you, please tell them I am a shopkeeper.' " The Taliban is "creating an environment of fear, and it is working very well, because the people have no hope of being protected if they stand up against them," Nadery added.

Abdul Jabbar, a former anti-Soviet guerrilla commander and a member of parliament from Ghazni province, said he no longer dares visit his home district. Interviewed in Kabul, he said Taliban leaders asked him to leave the government and join their cause, but he refused and now fears being killed. Last week, three Ghazni residents were hanged by the Taliban, which called them government spies.

"The other day, a Taliban commander called me and said I should come help him to free Afghanistan from the foreigners," Jabbar recounted. "I asked him, 'What do you want me to do? Kill a teacher? Kidnap an engineer? Capture a U.N. vehicle?' The people are not happy about the Taliban, but the government is weak, and the foreign forces have not brought us security. What choice do we have?"

In Wardak, the next province toward Kabul along a highway that is under constant Taliban attack, residents said they now ask relatives from the capital not to travel there for weddings or funerals.

Roshanak Wardak, the only private obstetrician in the region, said that since last spring, Taliban leaders have recruited dozens of young men from her town. Wardak, who is also a legislator, said people in her province may not like the Taliban, but they relate to those in the movement as fellow Afghans and Muslims, at a time of growing public disenchantment with U.S. and NATO military forces.

"Their popularity is increasing day by day, because the government has done nothing for our province," she said. "They take our innocent boys and tell them Islam is in danger. They offer them money and weapons. Now everyone is becoming a Talib. It is a great game, and they are the fuel."

As in Ghazni, many of the Taliban supporters in Wardak are Pashtuns, members of the country's largest ethnic group. They believe that rival ethnic groups unfairly rule the country with the help of foreign soldiers. Though Karzai is a Pashtun, he is viewed in Taliban ranks as a traitor to his religion and community.

One aspect of the game the Taliban now clearly dominates is the propaganda war over battlefield victories, defeats and casualties. Once composed of largely illiterate fighters and clerics who shunned modern technology as un-Islamic, the Taliban now uses a variety of high-tech means to communicate its version of events, often far faster than its adversaries.

This issue has crystallized with the controversy over civilian casualties inflicted by U.S. and NATO airstrikes, especially a village bombing last month near Herat in western Afghanistan. Although civilian deaths have been frequent and real, officials say the Taliban quickly broadcasts exaggerated tolls, stoking public anger, while foreign military officers may take days to respond.

"We are definitely not winning the information war, and we have to reverse that," said Brig. Gen. Richard Blanchette, the chief spokesman for NATO forces here.

He said the Taliban uses such tactics as hiding in farm compounds, dressing dead fighters in civilian clothes and then denouncing foreign forces for bombing villagers. "They don't have to bother with the truth," Blanchette said.

Today's Taliban also has a much greater degree of formal organization. The old Taliban was disastrous at governing, and ministries were run by barefoot mullahs who scribbled orders on scraps of paper. The new Taliban structure has councils for each area of governance, appoints officials in controlled areas and confers swift justice for crimes and disputes.

One Afghan journalist said he recently visited the capital of Logar province, less than an hour's drive south of Kabul, where the Taliban now wields enormous power. He said a man had walked into a Logar radio station and politely introduced himself to the astonished manager as the new provincial spokesman for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

According to Mojda and others, the Taliban is still led by Mohammad Omar, a village cleric who headed the 1996-2001 administration and has been a fugitive since its overthrow. Some former leaders hold senior posts in the new movement, although many have been killed. The rank-and-file fighters are a mix of old members and new recruits.

Their statements focus on ridding Afghanistan of foreign occupiers and incompetent leaders. Although they use Islam to motivate followers, they regularly violate what people here consider to be basic Islamic tenets against such things as the murder of women and trafficking in opium.

Their predecessors used harsh punishments to instill law and order but were often pious Muslims. This year, the insurgents have killed teachers, mayors, policemen, truck drivers, doctors, female aid workers and Muslim clerics.

"These people claim to be Muslims, but they are nothing more than terrorists," said Abdul Razzak Qureshi, police chief of Paghman, a district in the mountains west of Kabul. Last week he showed a visiting journalist a trove of land mines and explosive devices that his officers had found planted beside roads and in culverts in the past several months.

One such device was detonated last week under a vehicle carrying Abdullah Wardak, the governor of Logar province, near his home in Paghman. He died instantly, along with two bodyguards and a driver.

In separate interviews, residents of Paghman, a pretty area in the hills with wildflowers, birches and breezy picnic spots, said they had unhappy memories of Taliban rule and hoped it would not return. So far, the insurgents have not emerged in daylight there, but Razzak, the police chief, said he was unsure how long his force of 147 officers could continue to protect a sprawling district of 186 villages that borders Taliban-controlled Wardak.

"The Taliban used to have nothing, but now they have more modern weapons than we do," he said. "Our people feel safe for now, but just over the border they operate freely and have their own checkpoints. If they decide to come here one day, there is nothing I can do to stop them."

A very superficial and pedantic view is being presented by many so called analysts

A very superficial and pedantic view is being presented by many so called analysts about US Pakistan relations.

Pakistan's civilian government has come as part of a secret deal brokered by the USA by its principal dog catcher Musharraf who passed on the baton of the relay race to the civilian democratically elected government. Now the facts:

1-The Defence Minister has no clue about defence matters other than maintaining good relations with the army because his home town was close to the military cantonment at Kharian.

2-The Foreign Minister has no experience in foreign policy matters.His statement the other day that there is no coordination between US civil and military displays his ignorance. The assurance was given by US Joint Chiefs about not doing any more attacks. While the violation he referred to was again done by the US military in Afghanistan. So where does the lack of coordination between civil and military come in. An intelligent Foreign Minister should have tried to bring in the Russians and Chinese also in any future security set up. After all USA is not the only one responsible for worlds security. At this stage it should have been ideal to snub the NATO and USA by recognising Abkhazia and South Ossetia also.

3-Pakistan is already sold totally since 9/11 and its leaders are only rubber stamps.

4-The army has already lost the moral ascendancy and any new compromise which Pakistan's politicians are going to make or have already secretly made by giving USA a base near Islamabad will further reduce the army's credibility.

5-The army by doing some Noora Kushti with the Americans is trying to regain its badly lost credibility.This is again funny and the army is heavily dependent on the USA.

A hard long bloody civil war is going to commence with no end in sight.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Washington Is Risking War with Pakistan

By Robert Baer

As Wall Street collapsed with a bang, almost no one noticed that we're on the brink of war with Pakistan. And, unfortunately, that's not too much of an exaggeration. On Tuesday, the Pakistan's military ordered its forces along the Afghan border to repulse all future American military incursions into Pakistan. The story has been subsequently downplayed, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Mike Mullen, flew to Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, to try to ease tensions. But the fact remains that American forces have and are violating Pakistani sovereignty.

You have to wonder whether the Bush administration understands what it is getting into. In case anyone has forgotten, Pakistan has a hundred plus nuclear weapons. It's a country on the edge of civil war. Its political leadership is bitterly divided. In other words, it's the perfect recipe for a catastrophe.

All of which begs the question, is it worth the ghost hunt we've been on since September 11? There has not been a credible sighting of Osama bin Laden since he escaped from Tora Bora in October 2001. As for al-Qaeda, there are few signs it's even still alive, other than a dispersed leadership taking refuge with the Taliban. Al-Qaeda couldn't even manage to post a statement on the Internet marking September 11, let alone set off a bomb.

U.S. forces have been entering Pakistan for the last six years. But it was always very quietly, usually no more than a hundred yards in, and usually to meet a friendly tribal chieftain. Pakistan knew about these crossings, but it turned a blind eye because it was never splashed across the front page of the country's newspapers. This has all changed in the last month, as the Administration stepped up Predator missile attacks. And then, after the New York Times ran an article that U.S. forces were officially given the go-ahead to enter Pakistan without prior Pakistani permission, Pakistan had no choice but to react.

On another level the Bush Administration's decision to step up attacks in Pakistan is fatally reckless, because the cross-border operations' chances of capturing or killing al Qaeda's leadership are slim. American intelligence isn't good enough for precision raids like this. Pakistan's tribal regions are a black hole that even Pakistani operatives can't enter and come back alive. Overhead surveillance and intercepts do little good in tracking down people in a backward, rural part of the world like this.

On top of it, is al-Qaeda worth the candle? Yes, some deadender in New York or London could blow himself up in the subway and leave behind a video claiming the attack in the name of al-Qaeda. But our going into Pakistan, risking a full-fledged war with a nuclear power, isn't going to stop him.

Finally, there is Pakistan itself, a country that truly is on the edge of civil war. Should we be adding to the force of chaos? By indiscriminately bombing the tribal areas along the Afghan border, we in effect are going to war with Pakistan's ethnic Pashtuns. They make up 15% of Pakistan's 167 million people. They are well armed and among the most fierce and xenophobic people in the world. It is not beyond their military capabilities to cross the Indus and take Islamabad.

Before it is too late, someone needs to sit the President down and give him the bad news that Pakistan is a bridge too far in the "war on terror."

Robert Baer, a former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East, is's intelligence columnist and the author of See No Evil and, most recently, the novel Blow the House Down.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

US pushes Pakistan towards the brink

By Tariq Ali

The decision to make public a presidential order of July authorizing American strikes inside Pakistan without seeking the approval of the Pakistani government ends a long debate within, and on the periphery of, the George W Bush administration.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama, aware of this ongoing debate during his own long battle with Senator Hillary Clinton, tried to outflank her by supporting a policy of US strikes into Pakistan. Republican Senator John McCain and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin have now echoed this view and so it has become, by consensus, official US policy.

Its effects on Pakistan could be catastrophic, creating a severe crisis within the army and in the country at large. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are opposed to the US presence in the region, viewing it as the most serious threat to peace.

Why, then, has the US decided to destabilize a crucial ally? Within Pakistan, some analysts argue that this is a carefully coordinated move to weaken the Pakistani state yet further by creating a crisis that extends way beyond the badlands on the frontier with Afghanistan.

Its ultimate aim, they claim, would be the extraction of the Pakistani military's nuclear fangs. If this were the case, it would imply that Washington was indeed determined to break up the Pakistani state, since the country would very simply not survive a disaster on that scale.

In my view, however, the expansion of the war relates far more to the Bush administration's disastrous occupation in Afghanistan. It is hardly a secret that the regime of President Hamid Karzai is becoming more isolated with each passing day, as Taliban guerrillas move ever closer to Kabul.

When in doubt, escalate the war - this is an old imperial motto. The strikes against Pakistan represent - like the decisions of president Richard Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger to bomb and then invade Cambodia (acts that, in the end, empowered Pol Pot and his monsters) - a desperate bid to salvage a war that was never good, but has now gone badly wrong.

It is true that those resisting the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) occupation cross the Pakistan-Afghan border with ease. However, the US has often engaged in quiet negotiations with them. Several feelers have been put out to the Taliban in Pakistan, while US intelligence experts regularly check into the Serena Hotel in Swat to discuss possibilities with Mullah Fazlullah, a local pro-Taliban leader. The same is true inside Afghanistan.

After the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, a whole layer of the Taliban's middle-level leadership crossed the border into Pakistan to regroup and plan for what lay ahead. By 2003, their guerrilla factions were starting to harass the occupying forces in Afghanistan and, during 2004, they began to be joined by a new generation of local recruits, by no means all jihadis, who were being radicalized by the occupation itself.

Although, in the world of the Western media, the Taliban have been entirely conflated with al-Qaeda, most of their supporters are, in fact, driven by quite local concerns. If NATO and the US were to leave Afghanistan, their political evolution would most likely parallel that of Pakistan's domesticated Islamists.

The neo-Taliban now control at least 20 Afghan districts in Kandahar, Helmand and Uruzgan provinces. It is hardly a secret that many officials in these zones are closet supporters of the guerrilla fighters. Though often characterized as a rural jacquerie they have won significant support in southern towns and they even led a Tet-style offensive in Kandahar in 2006.

Elsewhere, mullahs who had initially supported Karzai's allies are now railing against the foreigners and the government in Kabul. For the first time, calls for jihad against the occupation are even being heard in the non-Pashtun northeast border provinces of Takhar and Badakhshan.

The neo-Taliban have said that they will not join any government until "the foreigners" have left their country, which raises the question of the strategic aims of the United States. Is it the case, as NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer suggested to an audience at the Brookings Institution this year, that the war in Afghanistan has little to do with spreading good governance in Afghanistan or even destroying the remnants of al-Qaeda? Is it part of a master plan, as outlined by a strategist in NATO Review in the Winter of 2005, to expand the focus of NATO from the Euro-Atlantic zone, because "in the 21st century NATO must become an alliance ... designed to project systemic stability beyond its borders"?

As that strategist went on to write:
The center of gravity of power on this planet is moving inexorably eastward. As it does, the nature of power itself is changing. The Asia-Pacific region brings much that is dynamic and positive to this world, but as yet the rapid change therein is neither stable nor embedded in stable institutions. Until this is achieved, it is the strategic responsibility of Europeans and North Americans, and the institutions they have built, to lead the way ... [S]ecurity effectiveness in such a world is impossible without both legitimacy and capability.
Such a strategy implies a permanent military presence on the borders of both China and Iran. Given that this is unacceptable to most Pakistanis and Afghans, it will only create a state of permanent mayhem in the region, resulting in ever more violence and terror, as well as heightened support for jihadi extremism, which, in turn, will but further stretch an already over-extended empire.

Globalizers often speak as though US hegemony and the spread of capitalism were the same thing. This was certainly the case during the Cold War, but the twin aims of yesteryear now stand in something closer to an inverse relationship. For, in certain ways, it is the very spread of capitalism that is gradually eroding US hegemony in the world. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's triumph in Georgia was a dramatic signal of this fact. The American push into the Greater Middle East in recent years, designed to demonstrate Washington's primacy over the Eurasian powers, has descended into remarkable chaos, necessitating support from the very powers it was meant to put on notice.

Pakistan's new, indirectly elected president, Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of the assassinated Benazir Bhutto and a Pakistani "godfather" of the first order, indicated his support for US strategy by inviting Afghanistan's Karzai to attend his inauguration, the only foreign leader to do so. Twinning himself with a discredited satrap in Kabul may have impressed some in Washington, but it only further decreased support for the widower Bhutto in his own country.

The key in Pakistan, as always, is the army. If the already heightened US raids inside the country continue to escalate, the much-vaunted unity of the military high command might come under real strain. At a meeting of corps commanders in Rawalpindi on September 12, Pakistani Chief of Staff General Ashfaq Kiani received unanimous support for his relatively mild public denunciation of the recent US strikes inside Pakistan in which he said the country's borders and sovereignty would be defended "at all cost".

Pakistani security officials claimed on Monday that firing by Pakistani troops and tribesmen had forced two US military helicopters to turn back to Afghanistan after they crossed into Pakistani territory. A Pakistani army spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, said the military high command had instructed its field commanders to prevent any similar raids.

Saying, however, that the army will safeguard the country's sovereignty is different from doing so in practice. This is the heart of the contradiction. Perhaps the attacks will cease on November 4. Perhaps pigs (with or without lipstick) will fly. What is really required in the region is an American-NATO exit strategy from Afghanistan, which should entail a regional solution involving Pakistan, Iran, India and Russia. These four states could guarantee a national government and massive social reconstruction in that country. No matter what, NATO and the Americans have failed abysmally.

Tariq Ali, writer, journalist, filmmaker, contributes regularly to a range of publications including the Guardian, the Nation and the London Review of Books. His most recent book, just published, is The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power (Scribner, 2008).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008














Pakistan troops ordered to open fire on US raiders



The new firing orders were disclosed by Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press.

Abbas said Pakistani field commanders have previously been tolerant about international forces crossing a short way into Pakistan because of the ill-defined and contested nature of the mountainous frontier.

"But after the (Sept. 3) incident, the orders are clear," Abbas said. "In case it happens again in this form, that there is a very significant detection, which is very definite, no ambiguity, across the border, on ground or in the air: open fire."

The statement was the strongest since Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan's army chief, raised eyebrows last week by vowing to defend Pakistani territory "at all cost." Abbas would not say whether the orders were discussed in advance with U.S. officials.


So it's confirmed Kiyani meant what he said a few days ago. Other developments are the Kuki Khel Tribal Leaders of Khyber Agency made a televised announcement yesterday threatening to block Nato Convoys to Torkham moving through their territory, saying categorically "This is one weapon we have". In South and North Waziristan, concrete bunkers are being built at a frantic pace by the tribal militants who have asked for mechanical assistance from the Army.

Military action against the Bajaur and Swat militants continues simultaneously. It appears Army has decided to ally with the 'Good' Taliban of Waziristan against incursions from across the border, while fighting the 'Bad' ones in Bajaur and Swat.

In the meantime, Zardari tries to convince Gordon Brown to put in a good word on Pakistan's behalf with Bush. He knows in case of a conflagration with US forces at the border, his political Government will be unlikely to survive!

It seems to me the Army has decided to act on its own re Nato/Afghanistan, having seen the Government bumbling in the dark. This became evident when Kiyani issued his now famous statement of defending borders at all cost, and there was a chorus in agreement from the Prime Minister's house only the following day.

Usually such matters are decided and policy statements issued by the Foreign Office and/or the Head of State, and not the Military Chief.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Will Washington Allow Zardari's Political Survival?

Ramtanu Mitra

Inspired by acquiring a new Pakistani President, who has no base in the institutions of the country, or in the population, the United States landed troops inside Pakistan Sept. 3 to combat militants there, without permission of Pakistan's government. The operation was carried out about 72 hours before the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's spouse, Asif Ali Zardari, became President of Pakistan, securing more than two-thirds of the National Assembly votes.

The U.S. decision to land troops inside Pakistan's tribal areas produced the expected furor, and since the Army, formerly headed by the deposed President Pervez Musharfaf, is no longer in power, the yet-to-be-sworn-in Zardari got an earful from the Pakistani people. In other words, Washington had no compunction about cutting off Zardari's feet before he could land.

According to the New York Times, it was President George W. Bush who made the "brilliant" tactical decision to land U.S. troops inside Pakistan. The Times cites senior U.S. officials who report that Bush had secretly approved orders allowing U.S. forces to conduct ground operations in Pakistan without that government's prior approval.

Pakistan Under the British Grip

Whether dealing with the complex Pakistan-Afghanistan situation is way beyond President Bush's intellectual capability is a moot question, but what remains to be answered is: What was the hurry?

Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani, who has changed color often, recently became a rabid anti-Musharraf "Pakistani patriot," influencing the talking heads in Washington, and spreading his gospel that Pakistan desperately needs a "democratic form of government" to a section of the U.S. media, while "exposing" Musharraf's "duplicities." Haqqani had brought forward Zardari's candidacy to the Bush Administration. For an unfocused Washington, there could not be a better candidate for the Pakistani Presidency than Zardari: Zardari has no friend in the Army; none in the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence); no personal political base, because he was never elected to the National Assembly, and rose to the top of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), "a party of the Bhuttos," through marriage; and in fact, he has more enemies than friends within the PPP leadership, who point out that Zardari has systematically ousted close associates of Benazir Bhutto in the party hierarchy since her death last December. Moreover, Zardari has little or no support among the opposition, former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, for instance. Under the circumstances, on whom, then, Zardari will have to depend? Other than Haqqani, the United States, of course, through the thoughtful U.S. President, George W. Bush.

It is evident that the United States is looking at all this as an opportunity to move into the tribal areas to get rid of the "bad guys" a non-religious label for the jihadis, who have assembled under various umbrellas. Washington knows the Pakistani Army is in a state of disarray since the U.S. dumped Musharraf, the former army chief.

The problem that has emerged in the United States over the last few years, because of the complexities behind Musharraf's refusal to give the U.S. a free hand in the tribal areas, is an understanding that the United States/NATO can win the Afghan war only by squeezing Pakistan; this realization has reached not only President Bush, but even those who know better, such as Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Following the hullabaloo that erupted after it became evident that the Americans had indeed landed troops inside Pakistan's tribal areas, Mullen told the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, nearly seven years after U.S.-led forces toppled Afghanistan's Taliban regime following the Sept. 11 attacks: "I'm not convinced we are winning it in Afghanistan. I am convinced we can."

The 'Zardari Effect'

Mullen said he was already "looking at a new, more comprehensive strategy for the region" that would cover both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

"In my view, these two nations are inextricably linked in a common insurgency that crosses the border between them," he told lawmakers.

"We can hunt down and kill extremists as they cross over the border from Pakistan ... but until we work more closely with the Pakistani government to eliminate the safe havens from which they operate, the enemy will only keep coming."

Admiral Mullen's new-found confidence that "we can win in Afghanistan" stems from what can best be labeled the "Zardari effect." Since 2001, when the United States invaded Afghanistan and routed the Taliban in no time, America's best ally was Pakistani President Musharraf. Although his credentials were the right ones to be a friend and combat ally of the U.S., Musharraf did have a base in the Army, among some in the ISI, and he had control of the political party PML(Q). But, the bottom line always was, that Musharraf was accountable to a large section of the Pakistani people. The fact that they supported him until late in 2006, was a problem for the United States and NATO, because Musharraf would not act to please the U.S., if it displeased the Pakistani people. Now, Washington has Zardari, who has no ties, no political accountability, and mansions in a number of countries, including one in Surrey, near London.

There is yet another inflexion point. Barely a week before the U.S. Special Forces entered Angorada in the South Waziristan tribal area, where members of al-Qaeda's shura (council)—Arabs and Uzbeks—were believed to be operating, a meeting took place on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Indian Ocean, between Admiral Mullen and the Pakistani Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, ostensibly to discuss infiltration points for militants going from Pakistan to Afghanistan, and to pinpoint the al-Qaeda training camps. The rugged mountainous area where the U.S. troops had landed, is also a launching pad for militants staging attacks on a U.S. military post in the Birmal area in Paktika province in Afghanistan.

What exactly was discussed on the decks of Lincoln is anyone's guess. Indian intelligence sources indicate that Mullen took the opportunity to thank Kiyani for cooperation in helping to set up the democratic government in Islamabad, and with the U.S./NATO troops along the Afghan-Pakistan borders. Whether the U.S. intent to enter Pakistan to eliminate the "bad guys" was under discussion is not known. Some Indian analysts believe that it was discussed, but that Kiyani had laid out the limitations of such actions.

The angry response in Pakistan at the governmental level, Zardari excluded, that followed the U.S. deployment, indicates that whatever Kiyani said, or did not say, aboard the Lincoln, the assumption in Washington that the "Zardari effect" would allow the United States to have unlimited latitude in dealing with insurgents functioning within Pakistan should be considered as good as dead.

Army on the Rocks

Gen. Tariq Majid, chairman of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, said cross-border strikes such as the one Sept. 3, would alienate ethnic Pashtuns, who live on both sides of the border, and be counterproductive. "Pakistan reserves the right to appropriately retaliate," he told visiting German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung.

On Sept. 10, General Kiyani said that no foreign forces will be allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan in light of last week's "reckless" U.S. military ground operation. Responding to the U.S. attack using Predator drones, Kiyani said, Pakistan's "territorial integrity ... will be defended at all cost and no external force is allowed to conduct operations ... inside Pakistan." At the same time, Pakistan's military resumed its battle against the Taliban militants in its tribal region, two Army spokesmen said.

But, despite the harsh words by the Army Chief, he has begun to make the rounds. For instance, the Pakistani top brass, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) and the three service chiefs called on President Zardari at the President's office on Sept. 10, to "greet" him on assuming his office. CJCSC General Majeed, Chief of Army Staff General Kayani, Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Muhammad Afzal Tahir, and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshall Tanvir Mehmood Ahmad expressed their good wishes for the President. They briefed Zardari about the overall command structure and the operational preparedness of the country's armed forces.

In addition, Kiyani convened a corps commanders' meeting on Sept. 11 to discuss U.S. attacks in Pakistan, Express News reported. It said a statement by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman regarding air strikes inside Pakistan would also be discussed.

It is evident that the "Zardari effect" will not last long, and the sooner Admiral Mullen realizes that, the better. The situation along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border is becoming untenable, just the way the British had planned. Now, the British have offered the United States a situation whereby if you hit Pakistan, you break it up. And, if you do not hit Pakistan, but do not recognize your enemy, Pakistan will also break up. And, then, perhaps, Zardari will set up his fabulous home in Surrey to entertain the new owners of a part of Pakistan.


'Piles and Piles of Evidence' that Pakistan Is Responsible for Insurgency
In a SPIEGEL interview, Amrullah Saleh -- the head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan's domestic intelligence agency -- discusses Pakistan's role in the Taliban insurgency and recent terror attacks against German soldiers.
Spiegel Online, Germany 08/12/2008

SPIEGEL: Mr. Saleh, is it possible the Taliban could win with its insurgency in Afghanistan?

Saleh: We have a lot of security problems, there is a lot of violence. But this is a violence unleashed with the help of Pakistan. They want to pull the brakes on us in order to hinder the coming elections. Afghanistan itself is not the source of the problem.

SPIEGEL: Who are these fighters who are not only killing Afghan and Western security forces, but also predominantly innocent civilians? And who is deploying them?

Saleh: The tribal agencies of Pakistan, like Bajaur and North and South Waziristan, are kept by the government as a strategic pool of fighters. From there, fundamentalist warriors are sent to fight in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

SPIEGEL: So you're saying the government in Islamabad has absolutely no intention of putting a stop to this militant movement?

Saleh: The international community has often asked them to stop allowing fighters to infiltrate into (Afghanistan) from the tribal areas. The answer from Pakistan is that they do not control the situation. When the Americans offered to fight the fighters themselves, the Pakistanis rejected them, saying you can’t go in, we are a sovereign state. The true reason behind this is that Islamabad is providing the militant groups wiith ammunition and training.

SPIEGEL: What is Pakistan seeking to achieve?

Saleh: It has always tried to make sure that Afghanistan remain on the level of a backward country, as well as to isolate us and hinder any kind of contact with the West. In the 1980s, when the mujahedeen were fighting against the Soviet occupiers, Pakistan had considerable influence over large parts of Afghan politics and Islamic Pakistan sought to establish its hegemony in the region. But now we are back, we are building up our country, we are unified and we are working to strengthen our sense of national pride. That makes our neighbors nervous.

SPIEGEL: Pakistan has feared its ability to hold itself together as a nation since its very founding. And even today, Afghanistan refuses to recognize the disputed border, the Durand Line. Wouldn’t that step move Afghanistan closer to peace with Pakistan?

Saleh: We have never crossed that line.

SPIEGEL: What proof do you have that the government in Pakistan is behind the attacks in Afghanistan?

Saleh: In 2008 alone, according to our very conservative estimate, the Taliban have probably fired 30 million rounds from their Kalashnikovs. Where did they get their weapons and munitions? Can you go to Russia or China today and say, "Hey, I'm a member of the Taliban, please send hundreds of AK-47s and weapons to my village." Is that possible? No. It's the Pakistani army that is providing them.

SPIEGEL: Those are serious accusations.

Saleh: It is a fact. The Pakistani army is a very disciplined force, and I respect that. And there are no rogue elements in the army as is often claimed.

SPIEGEL: Who are the masterminds behind the scenes?

Saleh: How much patience do you have? The army leadership and the Pakistani establishment. We have piles and piles of evidence to support this.

SPIEGEL: Do you have details?

Saleh: For years we discretely passed intelligence information about training camps, addresses, telephone numbers and names of terrorists groups on to Pakistan. But they didn’t act. There was no meaningful response. We have arrested many suicide bombers shortly before they could kill themselves and others. They frankly told us how they have been trained in Pakistsan and by whom.

SPIEGEL: Can you cite some examples?

Saleh: In Khost we arrested a man just a few minutes before he was able complete his mission. He was trained by a commander named Nazir in Wana in the tribal areas. Just before, the Pakistani government had signed peace deal with the same commander and only short time later he sent a truckload of suicide bombers to kill international forces. The Pakistanis have always claimed they couldn't find Commander Nazir. But how did he sign the peace deal then? Did they e-mail him?

SPIEGEL: But that’s not proof that Islamabad is commanding the insurgency. Is it possible that Pakistan perhaps long ago lost control over the border areas?

Saleh: Nobody lost control. Pakistan is staging controlled chaos in order to undermine Afghanistan's development. The Pakistani army is very strong and when the government has achieved its aim, it will immediately take control again of the tribal areas.

SPIEGEL: In northern Afghanistan German soldiers are getting attacked increasingly often. Last week a suicide bomber blew himself up in an attack that took place between Kunduz and Pul-i-Khumri. How are these attacks that are taking place far from the border to Pakistan organized?

Saleh: Terrorist elements are ordering Afghans to attack our army units and ISAF convoys or to burn schools. The perpetrators make videos to prove what they have done and once they provide this proof, they are rewarded with money from Pakistan. In the Kunduz area, the plotters of these acts are the Taliban commanders Mullah Rustam and Mullah Salam. Both are Afghans, but they live with their families in Pakistan. If the two would be permanently in Afghanistan, we would have caught or killed them or brought them to justice. Here’s another example: Why is the Taliban commander of Ghormach

SPIEGEL: a hard-fought district on the edge of the area under German command in the north

Saleh: whose name is Abdul Rahman Haqqani, currently being given medical treatment at a hospital in Peshawar after he was heavily wounded in recent fighting? Why? It's because Pakistan is his base.

SPIEGEL: Despite the many battles taking place in the country, the election campaign is starting to heat up in Afghanistan. In 2009, the next president will be elected. Which candidate has the greatest prospects, and will he be able to deliver greater security?

Saleh: It's too early to say. I only know that this government with Hamid Karzai has succeeded in achieving the country's reunification. But now we are intermixing modern institutions with traditional structures and we face a number of problems moving forward. But a consolidation is possible, even if the West sometimes doubts that.

SPIEGEL: And you, as the head of the intelligence service are still optimistic despite all these worries?

Saleh: Despite all the counter-attacks, we are experiencing the ressurrection of Afghanistan, and that is something magnificent.

Interview conducted by Susanne Koelbl.