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War on Terror

In a remarkable twist to the seven-year-old story of the West’s ‘war on terror’, British MPs on Monday called for an investigation into allegations that the country’s intelligence services “outsourced” the torture of British-Pakistanis to Pakistani security agencies. The demand lends credence to rumours repeatedly circulating in the three years since the July 7, 2005, bombings that the British authorities have allowed, even encouraged, a few British citizens of Pakistani origin to be picked up and subjected to torture during interrogation.     John McDonnell, the Labour member for Hayes and Harlington, and Andrew Tyrie, Conservative member for Chichester, said the allegations should be examined by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), the Westminster body that oversees the Security Service, MI5, and the Intelligence Service, MI6. A Times of India report by Rashmee Roshan Lall from London and AGENCIES.

 

White House hopeful Barack Obama on Tuesday promised to shift the “single-minded” US focus on Iraq to a threatening “terrorist sanctuary” in tribal areas in Pakistan, in a broad new blueprint for US foreign policy. Barack Obama yesterday pledged to increase US troops in Afghanistan by a third if he becomes president, sending 10,000 more to reinforce the 33,000 already there.0715 03 1 He was speaking after the US lost nine soldiers at the weekend in the deadliest attack on its forces in the country since 2005. Obama has promised, soon after becoming president in January, to begin scaling back the 156,000 US troops in Iraq and Kuwait, and to shift the focus to Afghanistan.

 

A rare, unescorted visit to the region this month, during which the Taliban detained for two days a freelance reporter and a photographer working for the New York Times, revealed how the Taliban were taking over territory, using the income they exact to strengthen their hold and turn themselves into a self-sustaining fighting force.

 

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Monday feared that incidents like 9/11 could happen again as foreigners are present in the country's lawless tribal areas. Talking to reporters here, Mr Gilani said Chechens, Uzbeks and other foreigners are present in Pakistan's tribal region who can once again shake the world by a big terrorist act. "We are trying to control them (the terrorists) and the whole world is with us," Mr Gilani said, adding, "The United States is supporting Pakistan's three-point policy in war on terror." Mr Gilani, however, reiterated that nobody except the country's forces will be allowed to take action against the terrorists. "This is our policy; we will not allow anyone to operate inside Pakistan. We can share what we can (intelligence)," he added.

An accompanying report from Rawalpindi reveals: Early June, about 300 fighters from jihadist groups came together for a secret gathering here, in the same city that serves as headquarters to the Pakistani Army. The groups were launched long ago with the Army’s clandestine support to fight against India in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. But at the meeting, they agreed to resolve their differences and commit more fighters to another front instead: Afghanistan.

 

The threat from Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists to India may have deepened with reports coming in about 300 jihadi fighters, including some from Kashmiri groups, coming together for a secret gathering in the city that serves as headquarters to the Pakistani army. The groups, launched long ago with Pakistani army's support to fight in Kashmir, agreed in the June meeting to resolve their differences and commit more fighters to Afghanistan. That India, heavily invested in Afghan reconstruction, along with the US is firmly in Taliban crosshairs on both sides of the Hindu-Kush, was evident with the massive attack last week on the Indian Embassy in Kabul, which killed one diplomat, the defence attaché and two ITBP guards.

 

A multi-pronged militant assault on a small, remote U.S. base killed nine American soldiers and wounded 15 Sunday in the deadliest attack on U.S. forces in Afghanistan in three years, officials said. The attack on the U.S. outpost came the same day a suicide bomber targeting a police patrol killed 24 people, while U.S. coalition and Afghan soldiers killed 40 militants elsewhere in the south. The militant assault on the American troops began around 4:30 a.m. in a dangerous region close to the Pakistan border and lasted throughout the day.  Militants fired machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars from homes and a mosque in the village of Wanat in the mountainous northeastern province of Kunar, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said in a statement, reports Jason Straziusofor The Associated Press

 

Pakistan's foreign minister has ruled out allowing military personnel from the United States, or any other foreign country, in Pakistan to hunt for Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, report agencies.

Commenting on the famed Bin Laden hunt, an American columnist for Independent Media TV and an investigative journalist Evelyn Pringle writes: The war in Iraq is a miserable failure, any way you look at it.  Retired General Anthony Zinni, former commander of the US Central Command, had it right when he said that by manufacturing a false rationale for war, abandoning traditional allies, propping up and trusting Iraqi exiles, and failing to plan for post-war Iraq, Bush has made the US less secure, instead of safer. Osama himself could not have created the mess that Bush got us into, even if he had tried and he's probably sitting in his cave laughing his fool head off as we speak.

 

 The Taliban fighters were sitting in the back of a pickup, parked right outside the army fort in Darra Adam Khel, a wild town in Pakistan's troubled northwest that's famous for its arms bazaar. The Islamic militia, linked with al Qaida, has controlled Darra for about six months. Wrapped in head scarves, with just their eyes showing, and bristling with weaponry, its members patrol the streets and impose their own austere rules. They've become such a routine sight in the town that no one pays them any attention. The security forces, when they emerge from their fort, don't challenge the hot-blooded young militants. Even their presence outside the Pakistan Frontier Corp's White Fort in Darra didn't concern residents. Saeed Shah reports for McClatchy Newspapers, USA.

 

It is urgent that a comprehensive, uniform approach to security at Indian installations abroad is worked out instead of the piece-meal localized measures that are now in effect. Because of the current approach, security at missions such as in Canada and the United Kingdom were virtually outsourced until recently to the local governments. Now is the time to change it before the country ceases to have the luxury of being relaxed about this issue, writes columnist K.P. Nayar in the Daily Telegraph, Kolkata.

 

The intensity of the car bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, with a loss of over 40 lives, makes it the worst attack in Afghanistan’s capital since the ousting of the Taliban. The significance of Afghan visa seekers to India amongst the dead is no less tragic than the loss of highly competent and experienced Indian diplomats. The message is directed as much against those cooperating with or seeking to develop interests with India, as against India’s carefully projected soft power presence in Afghanistan. Its implications are both immediate and far-reaching, writes V R Raghavan in his column in Indian Express, New Delhi.

 

For the country, and the Congress-led Government especially, it was a Black Monday: Its Government in Jammu & Kashmir fell; the Left withdrew its support; it lost a few legislators in Karnataka to the BJP; and horror of horrors, Pakistan formalised its proxy war against India in Afghanistan through a suicide attack targetting the Indian Embassy in Kabul. The car bomb suicide attack, the deadliest in Kabul since 9/11, marks the culmination of the decade-long India-Pakistan covert pincer war in Afghanistan. The Pakistan ISI-sponsored strike is the clearest signal that the gloves are off: Islamabad is reasserting the concept of strategic depth in Afghanistan and challenging interloper Delhi's foray into its legitimate sphere of influence, writes columnist Ashok Mehta

 

This topical book by a well-known Pakistani journalist is a well-informed and intimate account of the events leading up to and after the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) intervention in Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks on September 9, 2001. Ahmed Rashid, whose earlier work Taliban, which was published before 9/11, earned him a well-deserved reputation as a keen observer and analyst of Afghanistan and of the terrorist network of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, has written a racy and honest narrative of some of the momentous developments in south and central Asia, with repercussions going beyond what the author refers to as the “region”, writes CHINMAYA R. GHAREKHAN in his review of Ahmed Rashid’s latest book DESCENT INTO CHAOS — How the War Against Islamic Extremism is Being Lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia.

 

In the fall of 2002, the Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid could be seen and heard at every significant podium and office in New York and Washington. Ostensibly in the US to promote a book, Rashid spent most of his time making an impassioned plea to every influential American who would listen: don't take your eye off the ball in Afghanistan. It was clear by then that the Bush administration was committed to building up its forces for an impending invasion of Iraq. The attitude to Afghanistan, in the hubristic arrogance of the Rumsfeldians, was "been there, done that". Kabul had fallen; Karzai had been installed as president; the war, as far as Washington was concerned, was over. Nobody paid Ahmed Rashid's arguments the slightest attention, writes former UN diplomat and writer Shashi Tharoor.

 

MONDAY’S blast outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul was a declaration of war, plain and simple. We have to decide whether we want to fight, or, as is our usual practice, dither. There is a huge international coalition fighting in Afghanistan; India should become apart of it —the earlier the better. The war is being waged to root out a culture that has spawned terrorism around the world and attempted to take the country back to medieval times. On one side we have the United States and the NATO- led, United Nations- mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the fledgling Afghan National Army led by the government of Hamid Karzai. On the other are the Taliban and the Al Qaeda which are backed by elements in Pakistan, which is otherwise supposed to be an ally of the US in this war. Ours cannot be an intervention on behalf of some beleaguered regime, but a war to secure India, writes veteran Indian journalist Manoj Joshi for The Mail Today, New Delhi.

 

Was the attack on the Indian mission in Kabul a one-off terror attack, or part of a calibrated Pakistani strategy? 

From the point of view of Pakistan’s covert services, though, time is running out. Despite the revival of its Islamist allies in Afghanistan, Pakistan is more estranged from the country’s political elite and its people than at any time in the past.

At the same time, India has succeeded in consolidating its presence. Farkhor, India’s only military base outside its territory, is thought to have been in a state of full operational readiness since last year, offering New Delhi’s armed forces unprecedented strategic reach. Afghanistan’s membership of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement will strengthen its trade ties with India, which is now the largest regional donor to that country’s reconstruction programme, writes journalist Praveen Swami for The Hindu, New Delhi.

 

NEW DELHI: The involvement of Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI is suspected in the terror strike at the Indian embassy in Kabul, whose main targets appear to have been the two senior officials, including the Defence Attache killed in the attack.

 An explosive-laden car rammed into the Indian embassy gate in the Shahr-i-Naw area as two cars carrying Brigadier Ravi Dutt Mehta and Counsellor V Venkateswara Rao were entering the embassy compound, official sources said here.

 Brig Mehta was just beginning his tenure in Kabul having been posted to the city nearly five months back on February 15, 2008. He was an air defence artillery officer who was commissioned into the armed forces in June 1976, reports Press Trust of India from New Delhi.

 

A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-filled car into the gates of the Indian embassy in Afghanistan on Monday, killing more than 40 people including four Indian nationals, officials said. The blast in the heart of Kabul scattered human flesh and severed limbs outside the embassy of India, one of Afghanistan's staunchest allies as the war-torn country battles an increasingly bloody Taliban insurgency. A spokesman for the hardliners however denied the Taliban were involved in the attack, the deadliest in Kabul since the insurgency began after the

 

Afghanistan's president has ordered an investigation into allegations that missiles from U.S. helicopters struck civilians, though the Ministry of Defense said Sunday that the attack killed or wounded 20 militants. President Hamid Karzai ordered the defense and interior ministries, as well as local government officials, to investigate Friday's attack in eastern Afghanistan. The issue of civilians casualties has caused friction between the Afghan government and U.S. and NATO troops in the past, and it has weakened the standing of the Western-backed Karzai in the eyes of the population.

 
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