Books and Documents

War on Terror

Taliban’s next target is India: From Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, taking over the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, would be a cakewalk
Neena Gopal

As for the Pakistan Taliban, taking control of the badlands in Pakht­unkhwa and Balochistan, where the government’s writ does not run is not difficult. From there, to taking over the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, would be a cakewalk. There is little doubt, that the Taliban, nurtured in the nurseries of terror in Pakistan’s seminaries, is no longer tied to Pakistan’s ISI. It is clearly functioning independently of the master, seeing the Pakistan government as fair prey, just as the Karzai presidency is to the Afghan Taliban. As Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi, a defence analyst based in Lahore, said months ago, “The tide of militancy that kept Afghanistan on the boil all these years is now flowing in reverse, into Paki­stan.” Perhaps it's time for Kabul and Islamabad to realise the perils of supping with the devil, and forge a compact with Delhi to counter the threat posed to their polity as much as it does to ours. Could Delhi start negotiations by offering President Karzai a safe haven?

Pakistan: Civil society is too fragmented over sectarian differences to unify, but the Taliban Stand United
Mehr F. Husain

In this respect the recent air strikes launched in North Waziristan illustrate what will happen if we do go to war — defeated by its own monster, the military must be feeling even worse, given how they missed their main target Adnan Rasheed. But the Taliban is always successful in its attacks. It has so much to target — Shias, Ahmedis, Christians, Hazaras, children, women, schools, hospitals and donkeys. Professionals — doctors, poets, financial officers, polio workers — are hit because they serve the people in a constructive manner and do not conform to the Taliban mindset. The Army is fighting for its own. Civil society is too fragmented over sectarian differences to unify. The government is at a loss with what to do with something they don’t understand and fear. The only organisation that looks united with an organised though horrific endgame is the Taliban.


Appropriately recruited Muslim Prison Chaplains are already employed to challenge the extremist views of prisoners and to provide religious direction for Muslim prisoners. Using their experience, they are developing the ‘Ibaana’ programme, designed to target the small number of prisoners with the most entrenched extremist views. One-to-one sessions over several hours with a trained chaplain will be used to challenge the theological arguments used by these prisoners to justify their extremist views….


The Prime Minister set up the Extremism Task Force to identify any areas where our current approach was lacking and to agree practical steps to fight against all forms of extremism. We have made progress since this government came to power. We have removed over 18,000 items of online terrorist propaganda and intervened more often than ever before to limit the opportunities for hate preachers to spread their messages....


Pakistan Is Juggling A Lot Of Suicidal Balls In Northern Waziristan: Taliban, Haqqani Network, Dawar Tribe Militia Leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur And Islamic Movement Of Uzbekistan
Khaled Ahmed

Pakistan is juggling a lot of suicidal balls in the air in the NWA: it likes the Haqqani Network which kills inside Afghanistan. It likes militia leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur of the Dawar tribe who too kills in Afghanistan, and tolerates IMU Uzbeks. Add to that the Taliban and the various non-state actors gathered there, conspiring to overthrow the elected government of Pakistan to proclaim a truly Islamic “emirate”. Clearly, Pakistan is worried about post-withdrawal Afghanistan and not about the coming “emirate” at home. Driven by this strategic myopia, the Pakistan army will not strike the non-state actors killing innocent Pakistanis because its strategic view is frozen on India after the American withdrawal. (Quaintly, Saudi Arabia too is strategically frozen on Iran and will not forgive the US for not invading Syria — knowing full well that Assad’s defeat would mean an al-Qaeda government in Syria determined to crush Saudi Arabia.) ...

There is more news about the army’s interface with the terrorists — often its strategic instrument. In his book Inside al Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11 (2011), Saleem Shahzad had revealed that Major Haroon Ashiq had defected to al-Qaeda because his brother, Captain Khurram, had earlier joined al-Qaeda and died fighting Nato forces in Helmand in Afghanistan. ...Haroon left the army and joined Lashkar-e-Toiba which, he told Shahzad, was an extension of the army. Alienated from the army under Musharraf, he joined Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and thus got closer to al-Qaeda. An al-Qaeda terrorist, Haroon enjoyed contacts inside the army. Another person hiding today in North Waziristan, which the army will not invade, is an air force officer, Adnan Rasheed. His road to terrorism began with the Tablighi Jamaat, universally thought to be a harmless apolitical (organisation)..., and ended within the fold of Jaish-e-Muhammad, whose leader Masood Azhar was sprung from an Indian jail through a swap between him and passengers of an Indian airliner hijacked from Nepal....

NATO Supplies: Endgame
Anurag Tripathi

The Americans have failed to display much strategic sagacity through their long engagement in Afghanistan, and particularly in the terminal stages running up to their flight from the country. Pakistan has directed a pattern of convoluted mischief towards Afghanistan for over three decades now, in the process, enormously compromising its own security. This game, however, is now being played out at increasingly high risks, as US vulnerabilities to Pakistani blackmail diminish, and patience running dangerously low in Washington……


It was a sad day for this country when the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan. It was sad because the news gave rise to mixed reactions, with news anchors and top politicians debating on whether this was a good thing or not. At the end, some concluded that this was a US plot to disrupt potential peace talks with the TTP. Regardless of the timing of the strike, eliminating Hakimullah should have been welcomed, considering that he was an enemy of the state.....

Militarisation of Aid in Afghanistan: But then foreign occupations are not meant for development anyway
Farooq Sulehria

Not that nothing has happened. Being a regular visitor to Afghanistan, this writer has seen massive improvements in certain sectors. For instance, 4000-kilometre long paved highways have been built. Primary education, in particular, is a step forward. Besides seven million children in schools, aid money has helped build 3,500 schools. ....


Drones: While the US was satisfied with killing of Hakimullah Mehsud, why their jubilation was not shared by Pakistani authorities or the population
Amanda Paul

While drone attacks can be very important, at the same time the US and other countries using drones need to be more transparent in their justification for carrying out these strikes and moreover, the consequences of the strikes, in particular related to civilian casualties…..

Drone Victims Testify Before Congress
Beenish Ahmed

The incident is one of many that humanitarian organizations point to as proof that drone strikes have been responsible for more civilian casualties than the U.S. government claims. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that 400–900 civilians have been killed by drone strikes since they began in Pakistan in 2004, a figure that the administration refuses to acknowledge. No civilian deaths were reported in connection with the strike that took the life of 67-year-old Mamana Bibi.....


Which Side of the ‘War on Terror’?
William Blum

All this barbarity piled on top of a greater absurdity – these Western-backed, anti-government forces are often engaged in battle with other Western-backed, anti-government forces, non-jihadist. It has become increasingly difficult to sell this war to the American public as one of pro-democracy “moderates” locked in a good-guy-versus-bad-guy struggle with an evil dictator…..


America’s experience in Afghanistan and Iraq has exposed new equations in the international order, with a notable decline of the traditional Western powers, primarily due to a debilitating financial crisis in the United States and Europe…..


The Forgotten War: 12 Years in Afghanistan down the Memory Hole
Ann Jones

Will the U.S. still be meddling in Afghanistan 30 years from now?  If history is any guide, the answer is yes.  And if history is any guide, three decades from now most Americans will have only the haziest idea why....


The Dead Rhetoric of War
Chris Hedges

The war machine has tried all the old tricks. It trotted out the requisite footage of atrocities. It issued the histrionic warnings that the evil dictator will turn his weapons of mass destruction against us if we do not bomb and “degrade” his military. It appealed to the nation’s noble sacrifice in World War II…


The War on Terror Is Still Everywhere
Paul Waldman

Maybe Barack Obama is sincere about his desire to move past the War on Terror. We don't have an official torture program like we did during the Bush years, so that's something. But the institutional apparatus of the war is still there, and we now know that it's bigger than we could have imagined….


5 Myths Used to Justify Death by Drone and America's Assassination Policy
Robert Greenwald

America’s never-ending war on terrorism is almost always depicted in the mainstream media as a military and intelligence agency fight on a global battlefield. But it is also a propaganda war where the public is fed inaccuracies from Washington, especially when it comes to overseas killings by U.S. military drones....

After Guantánamo, another Injustice

When Nabil arrived there in January 2002, as one of the first prisoners, there were no walls, only razor-wire cages. In the bitter cold, Nabil was forced to sleep on concrete floors without cover. Food and water were scarce. To and from his frequent interrogations, Nabil was beaten by United States soldiers and dragged up and down concrete stairs. Other prisoners died. After a month in Bagram, Nabil was transferred to a prison at Kandahar, where the abuse continued.....


Torture and massacres of innocent civilians are convenient fun games to be defined as “collateral damage” and a statistic. Perhaps, they view humanity just in digits and numbers, not as the living entities with social, moral, spiritual and intellectual values and progressive agendas for change and development. Every beginning has its end......


Pakistani Taliban Terrorists Freed 253 Prisoners From Jail in Dera Ismail Khan: Clear Case Of Collusion Of Authorities
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

Despite the forewarnings, preparations and re-enforcements, it is significant that the terrorists succeeded with a minimum of fatalities, principally, as in the Bannu attack, because of linkages between the SFs and the terrorists, which were an open secret in both incidents. Significantly, after the Bannu attack, the TTP had claimed, "We had maps of the area and we had complete maps and plans of the jail as well. All I have to say is we have people who support us in Bannu. It was with their support that this operation was successful."...


The War Against al-Qaeda is Over
Kenneth Roth

Those are the standards for policing, not war. So why not take the next logical step and declare the war against al-Qaeda over? Yes, there may be a price to pay. Obama’s political opponents will holler and score points after the next, inevitable terrorist attack. But the cost of using war rhetoric to shunt aside appropriate limits on lethal force is even higher. Plenty of governments are eager for excuses to summarily kill their enemies…


The Ghost of Osama Bin Laden: Pakistan's Unbeautiful Minds and The Abbottabad Commission's Leaked Report
Khaled Ahmed

The reluctance of the report to speak of complicity unambiguously may point to a consensus within the Commission to stay circumscribed in its pursuit of truth so as not to tilt the country into a fresh bout of instability—and the state into a new crisis of accountability. There may have been a consensus on not pursuing certain lines of inquiry that would have required going the whole hog on possible new leads. One such lead lay in the suspicious proximity of the “Mansehra terrorist training camp” to bin Laden’s final residence....


Life, Death and Drones
John J Gibbons

In Washington, lawyers for two families who have lost relatives to US drone strikes are asking a federal court to continue the judiciary's long-standing and vital role in our constitutional system - a challenge to the Obama administration's approach to targeted killings. In doing so, the court can remind the executive branch that a fair and open legal process is most important when it comes to matters of life and death….


Leaked Report Cites Pakistan's Failings before US Killed Osama Bin Laden
Declan Walsh

Osama bin Laden lived unmolested in Pakistan for almost a decade because of the "collective incompetence and negligence" of the country's security forces, according to a scathing Pakistani government report that was leaked to the news media on Monday....

The nation's top special operations commander ordered military files about the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden's hideout to be purged from Defence Department computers and sent to the CIA, where they could be more easily shielded from ever being made public. The secret move, described briefly in a draft report by the Pentagon's inspector general, set off no alarms within the Obama administration even though it appears to have sidestepped federal rules and perhaps also the Freedom of Information Act....


Right To Reply Used by Author of ' The Thistle and the Drone-How America’s War on Terror Became A Global War on Tribal Islam'
Akbar Ahmed

Because his assessments of my arguments were incorrect, I took advantage of my right to reply, a hallmark of debate and discussion in this country. However, the editor of Commentary denied me this right to correct the misrepresentation of my work.  I find this to be both unfair and unethical, particularly given the troubled times in which we live and the sensitivity of the issues which I raise. I, therefore, would like to set the record straight....

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