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War on Terror

The CIA has confronted Pakistan with new evidence showing that members of its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have deepened their ties with militant outfits responsible for the recent spike in terror strikes in Afghanistan, possibly including the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul. Armed with the new information, CIA's deputy director Stephen R Kappes travelled to Islamabad this month, the New York Times reported, citing US military and intelligence officials. It said that links between the ISI and the militant network led by Jalaluddin Haqqani have come to light. S Rajagopalan reports from Washington for the Daily Poneer, New Delhi.

 

Sometimes in politics, particularly in campaigns, parties get wedded to slogans — so wedded that no one stops to think about what they’re saying, whether the reality has changed and what the implications would be if their bumper stickers really guided policy when they took office. Today, we have two examples of that: “Democrats for Afghanistan” and “Republicans for offshore drilling.”... New York Times columnist and author THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN's advice: Before Democrats adopt “More Troops to Afghanistan” as their bumper sticker, they need to make sure it’s a strategy for winning a war — not an election.

 

Defence Secretary Robert M. Gates says that even winning the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will not end the "Long War" against violent extremism and that the fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorists should be the nation's top military priority over coming decades, according to a new National Defence Strategy he approved last month.

Josh White reports for Washington Post.

 

The U.S. government's former point man in the fight against the heroin trade in Afghanistan has accused Afghan President Hamid Karzai of obstructing counter-narcotics efforts and protecting drug lords. Karzai on Thursday vehemently rejected Thomas Schweich's comments, saying international criminal gangs were the main beneficiaries and culprits of the trade. Schweich, who resigned last month from the State Department's narcotics bureau, said in an article to appear on Sunday in the New York Times magazine that the Afghan government was deeply involved in shielding the opium trade.

 

Red Tide: Recent U.N. reports shattered the myth that poppies are grown by destitute farmers who have no other source of income.

POPPY FIELDS FOREVER: An unlikely coalition of corrupt Afghan officials, timorous Europeans, blinkered Pentagon officers and the Taliban has made poppy cultivation stubbornly resistant to eradication.

THOMAS SCHWEICH’s stunning report in New York Times Magazine.

 

It is summer now in Kabul, the snow has largely melted from the 15,000-ft. (4,600 m) peaks, and I am sitting with my friends Hussein, Nabi and Zia in the garden of a 19th century fort. Nearby, 10 carpenters who work with my nongovernmental organization (NGO) are creating a library for a buyer in Tokyo. They're fitting slivers of wood into a delicate lattice and carving flowers into the walnut shutters. They work fast and smile often. But Nabi, a gentle-voiced 66-year-old cook, is not smiling. He is pessimistic about his country. "We have been promised progress by every government since 1973," he growls, "but it is getting worse and worse."

By RORY STEWART / KABUL in The Time magazine

 

The International Herald Tribune today reports on a recent CIA mission to Pakistan to confront leaders of the ISI there about the ties ISI members retain to the Taliban and al Qaeda. The CIA assessment specifically points to links between members of the spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, which American officials believe maintains close ties to senior figures of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

 

Several al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq have left the country for Afghanistan in a sign of weakness in the insurgent group, The Washington Post reported today quoting Iraqi intelligence. US officials also say al-Qaeda may be sending new recruits to Afghanistan, where they have made gains, and away from Iraq, where they have been hit by US and Iraqi forces, the newspaper reported.

 

The gravest threat to India’s security is not Pakistan, not the Inter Services Intelligence, not terrorism, but the limitless acts of omission, the venality and the ineptitude of the political and administrative executive, and the complete absence of accountability in the top echelons of Government. Our greatest enemy is not only within – it has captured and blocks up the highest nodes of power and decision-making in the country, writes security analyst Ajai Sahni.

 

If we cannot deal politically, socially, legally and institutionally with terrorism at home where the writ of the Indian state runs, how can we expect to firmly deal with terrorism directed at us abroad? The mindset that prevents us from robust self- defence at home does not dispose us to take comprehensive measures to protect our vulnerable missions abroad. Our consciousness about security does not match the seriousness of the threat we face. We lack a “security culture” that percolates below the VVIP level, writes former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal.

 

Ahead of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's maiden visit to the US, Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama has said that Al-Qaeda's safe haven in the Pakistan's restive northwest is a "huge problem" for the American troops... Noting that Pakistan has tolerated or in some cases funded the Mujahideen in Kashmir, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has said such efforts are "counterproductive" for Islamabad. "We have to have an honest conservation about how counterproductive that is," Obama said in an interview, published in the Wall Street Journal on Monday. A Press Trust Of India report.

 

The attacks on the Indian Embassy in Kabul and on Indian nationals in southern Afghanistan are an inevitable consequence of the Pakistani Army's determination to convert Afghanistan into a client state for 'strategic depth' against India. Can this situation change soon? Tragically, the answer is 'No'. As Ahmed Rashid notes in his recently-published book, Descent into Chaos, "The Pakistan Army has to put to rest its notion of a centralised state based solely on defence against India and an expansionist Islamist strategic military doctrine carried out at the expense of democracy. Musharraf deliberately raised the profile of jihadi groups to make himself more useful to the United States."

 There is nothing to suggest that Gen Kiyani and Pakistan's military elite have the vision, will, or inclination, to change the disastrous course the Army has adopted for Pakistan since the days of Gen Zia-ul Haq, writes G Parthasarathy, former Indian Ambassador to Pakistan.

 

The peril to this country should be even more obvious. As Ahmed Rashid, unquestionably the best expert on Afghanistan, says, Pakistan, especially its intelligence agencies, hate India’s growing influence in Afghanistan. They would go to any length to harm both Afghanistan and India. Any number of Pakistani terrorist groups wedded to jihad, are working in close concert with the Taliban and Al Qaeda, under the tutelage of [Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence] the ISI more often than not. They have been active in this country, especially Kashmir, in the past, and of late have stepped up their activities in Kashmir almost on a daily basis. Worse is bound to follow unless essential counter-measures are taken. National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan’s warning of "retaliation" came not a day too soon. What needs to be watched is how his words would be translated into action, writes veteran Indian journalist and a former editor of The Times of India, Inder Malhotra.

 

The Taliban in Pakistan are gearing up for attacks across the country in the wake of an army operation against militants in the North West Frontier Province that has resulted in the killing of 15 rebels. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud held a meeting at an undisclosed location in the North Waziristan tribal region a few days ago to discuss ways to "occupy territories" in the NWFP and carry out terrorist activities across Pakistan.

 

Osama bin Laden’s driver knew the target of the fourth hijacked jetliner in the Sept. 11 attacks, a prosecutor said on Tuesday in an attempt to draw a link between Salim Hamdan and al Qaeda leadership in the first Guantanamo war crimes trial.

 

India’s resumed involvement in Afghanistan’s development is on a much larger scale than the relatively modest schemes of the past: after the devastation of two decades of strife, Afghanistan’s needs are huge, and India’s capacity to lend support is also much increased. The resurgent insurrectionary groups seem intent on attacking Indian facilities and personnel because they are helping consolidate the government of President Karzai, which the Taliban are intent on dislodging. But though terrorist attacks may increase the cost to India of its task in Afghanistan, the commitment remains unimpaired, says India’s former foreign secretary Salman Haidar.

 

A Roman Catholic nun had to learn to bite her tongue because of it. The wife of Alaska senator Ted Stevens has had problems getting on airplanes because of it. Even retired pilot Robert Campbell, who flew for the US navy during Vietnam war, is affected by it. "It" is the US government's terrorist watch list, which the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says has swollen into a catalogue of a million names in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US. Getting your name removed from the list is extremely difficult. Nelson Mandela needed a Congressional order to get his name removed.

 

It is conventional wisdom that in his hubris President George W. Bush chose to invade Iraq while taking his eyes off Afghanistan, with consequences that are evident every day. The recent attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul was a rude demonstration of their militant capability… There are no quick fixes for bringing peace to Afghanistan, but following practical and sensible policies would yield results over time, says veteran Indian journalist S. Nihal Singh.

 

After six years of ignoring Afghanistan, things have gotten bad enough to force American officials to pay attention. For the past two months, U.S. casualties in Afghanistan have been higher than in Iraq. And on July 13, Afghanistan definitely got everybody's attention when nine U.S. troops were killed in what Wikipedia is now officially calling "The Battle of Wanat." Three days after the battle, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the U.S.-dominated military force running the country, announced it's abandoning Wanat completely, writes senior columnist and author Gary Brecher, for AlterNet.

 

The arrest of Radovan Karadzic is a coup for Serbia's president and a boost for the international tribunal that has long sought to bring this key fugitive from the wars of ex-Yugoslavia to trial, says Eric Gordy

 

As the Americans gather on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, we are told that an offensive is about to be launched from that side. It’s not as simple as the Pakistan Army pushing the militants from this side and the US troops catching them as they enter Afghanistan – like the shikars that were once played in the sub-continent. This is a more complicated shikar. One is now not sure which is the tiger and which is the shikari. We are not even sure if this is the age of the tigers any more. So far, everyone seems to be acting like foxes and wolves, writes Kamal Siddiqi, editor reporting, The News, Islamabad.

 

In a disturbing report presented to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, days before he travels to the United States, the latest figure of foreign fighters present in the tribal areas of Pakistan is estimated to be more than 8,000 but the government is reluctant to officially confirm this number. At a special cabinet briefing on Sunday in which Asif Ali Zardari was also present, besides the prime minister and Adviser to the Interior Ministry Rehman Malik, said the government will have to use force if the process of dialogue does not produce the results but his view was opposed by the minister from FATA Hamidullah Jan. A report by senior Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir in The News, Islamabad.

 

Forty-three people, including 33 militants, nine Frontier Corps men and a Pakistan Petroleum Limited engineer, were killed and many injured, some of them seriously, during armed clashes between the security forces and the militants in the Toba Sandrani area of Dera Bugti.

 

After meeting with the Democratic presidential candidate inside the US base in Jalalabad, Afghan warlord turned provincial governor Gul Agha Sherzai told reporters, “Obama promised us that if he becomes a president in the future, he will support and help Afghanistan not only in its security sector but also in reconstruction, development and economic sector.”
Translation: Obama is not listening. He is making commitments.
John Nichols comments in The Nation
Specific commitments.

 

Britain has taken the lead among Western countries with large resident Muslim communities to fund a board of Islamic theologians who will pronounce on some of the knottiest, most controversial issues of faith such as women's rights and kamikaze religiosity, in what many see as an attempt to create an Anglo-Saxon version of Islam, writes Rashmee Roshan Lall of TNN.

 
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