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Afghanistan: Too Many Butchers Spoil The Cow: New Age Islam's Selection, 20 December 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

20 December 2016

Afghanistan: Too Many Butchers Spoil The Cow

By Musa Khan Jalalzai

Offering Global Solutions

By Muhammad Hamid Zaman

Pakistan and India: Current Issues and Future Directions

By Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

Internal Fissures And Power Struggle In Afghanistan

 By Mohammad Jamil

The Conspiracy

By Jonathan Cook

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Afghanistan: Too Many Butchers Spoil the Cow

By Musa Khan Jalalzai


Intelligence is crucial to the development of understanding — it requires practitioners and experts to operate in a complex environment. The Taliban intelligence war in Kunduz province received mixed responses in military circles of Afghanistan where terrorist groups used cell phones to organise and coordinate surprise attacks against the government forces. The way Taliban and the ISIS advanced in small towns and cities is a new tactic of modern war, in which mobile phone technology played an important role in coordinating all forces on various fronts. Today’s intelligence war presents an entirely different picture from the cold-war era, where policy makers and secret forces used old military strategies to develop a strong relationship with communities in countering enemy on all fronts. The cold war secret intelligence strategies and policies were aimed to protect sources and keep adversaries from gaining access to military secrets. For this purpose, the compartmentalised acquisition by secret agencies, information analysis, dissemination of information, and a professional and technical approach that worked intelligently well as long as policymakers knew who the enemy was what information to look for and who needed to have it.

During the cold war, competition among agencies about the intelligence information gathering was deeply complicated as every agency used different tactics of collection and dissemination. Today, the most important challenge faced by secret agencies is the issue of effectiveness. During the last four decades, we experienced numerous incidents of intelligence failure in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, in which the lake of professional skills, staff and authentic source of information, and reliance on secret surveillance were major causes. The modern intelligence warfare among scores of foreign intelligence in Afghanistan has painted a new picture; in which every agency learn from the operational capabilities, failures, gains and professional skills of its rival power. This complex business of secret war created numerous difficulties for the United States in Afghanistan, as the country has deeply embroiled in an unwanted war and the war that is going to intensify, and will never allow its forces to safely withdraw from the country.

For Russia and China, one of the leading security challenges is the aggravation of war in Afghanistan where crisis phenomena continue to grow. The most violent threat is posed by the exponentially growing influence of ISIS Khorasan group in the country that controls more than 70 districts where it trains and equips fighters from Chinese and Russian Central Asia. These political and strategic developments forced Russia and China to reactivate their policies towards Afghanistan in the political and military spheres. Moscow and Beijing are trying to deploy more intelligence units from Badakhshan to Swat region, and from Gilgit-Baltistan to Tajikistan to intercept the infiltration of the ISIS terrorists into Central Asia. However, the altercation of Afghanistan and the rise of Daesh group is a part of Russia’s relations with the United States where competition between the two powers has been accompanied by partial cooperation. Having realised security threat from the ISIS and the expansion of NATO eastwards, President Putin organised an Afghan Taliban group — funded and adorned with modern weapons on the one hand, and reincarnated KGB, and merged all domestic and foreign intelligence agencies into one agency (MGB) on the other. This process was named the reorganisation and reinvention of intelligence infrastructure.

Secret links between the Taliban, Northern Alliance and Russian intelligence are a matter of great concern for NATO and the Afghan government. The Russian government is trying to reach every religious and political group, and warlords in the Afghan state institutions to persuade them that Russia is no longer a threat to the national security of Afghanistan. The country needs broader cooperation from Pakistan and Afghanistan in the fight against ISIS terrorists in Central Asia. On October 1, 2015, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani requested military equipment from Russia for the Afghan army. However, Russian envoy to Kabul, Zamir Kabulove admitted that Taliban’s interests objectively coincide with Russian interests. This development was seen in Afghanistan as an intelligence success of Russian and failure of the CIA and Pentagon’s modern surveillance and intelligence system. Afghan and the US policy makers are now increasingly worried that any deepening of ties between Taliban and Russian intelligence could further complicate security situation. The failure of US government to adopt a consistent policy on Pakistan and its military needs prompted deep discontent in relations between the two states.

The United States allowed India’s civilian and military intelligence agencies to establish terror networks and training camps in Afghanistan. These terror networks recruited thousands Baloch insurgents to carry out attacks against Pakistan’s security forces in Baluchistan province, which resulted in spoiling relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. This unfriendly policy forced Pakistan to approach China and Russia for their support against the Indian aggression on its soil. Thus, after four decades of hostility, Pakistan improved relations with Russia and signed important agreements with the country. However, Chinese intelligence also reinvented its old Afghan contacts. It approached Taliban leadership through Pakistan and retrieved the sympathy of Haqqani group inside Afghanistan. In 2015, Taliban and the Afghan government representative met in China to discuss the prospect of peace in the country. The involvement of Chinese intelligence in the Afghan theatre strengthened, and Beijing was involved in all peace talks. The involvement of Indian intelligence (RAW) in Afghanistan and its terror attacks inside Pakistan is seen in China as a great threat, as the country wants to complete the CPEC project within a peaceful environment.

This policy of the US and NATO allies towards Pakistan and Afghanistan prompted the emergence of Russia and China as competent stakeholders in the region. If we look at the performance of the US and NATO intelligence in Afghanistan, their operational mechanism has not been so successful during the last 15 years. Interestingly, the US says its intelligence network in Afghanistan is one of the largest in the world, but if we read the report of Major General Michael Flynn (2010), we can better judge the failures and successes of US intelligence in Afghanistan. Moreover, Russian intelligence specialists recently indicated that CIA has been unable to identify the actual aspect of rising threats in the country. The US and NATO intelligence agencies are preoccupied with information gathering, but they lacked processing skills and failed to provide vital general information about the insurgents' nests. They collect human intelligence information through espionage, but spies are unable to reach remote areas in Afghanistan. It means they gather information only from cities, while insurgents are based in villages and mountainous regions.

More than 15 years into the battlefield in Afghanistan, US intelligence agencies have only been marginally relevant to the fight against Taliban. They focused on information collection but failed to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which the US and NATO allies’ agencies operated. They arrested countless people like farmers, shopkeepers, religious clerics and political workers, put them in prisons, tortured and humiliated, but these tactical intelligence approaches and wrongly designed strategies could not bring about changes in their minds. General Mike Flynn noted these and other challenges in his report:

“This problem and its consequences exist at every level of the US intelligence hierarchy, from ground operation up to headquarters in Kabul and the United States. At the battalion level and below, intelligence officers know a great deal about their local Afghan districts but are generally too understaffed to gather, store, disseminate, and digest the substantial body of crucial information that exists outside traditional intelligence channel. With insufficient number of analysts and guidance from commanders, battalion S-2 shops rarely gather, process, and write up quality assessment on countless items, such as census, and patrol briefs, minutes from Shuras with local farmers and tribal leaders, after-action reports from civil affairs officers and Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), polling data and atmosphere reports from psychological operations and female engagement teams, and translated summaries of radio broadcasts that influence local farmers, not to mention the field observations of Afghan soldiers, United Nation Officials, and non-governmental organizations (NGO).”

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/20-Dec-16/afghanistan-too-many-butchers-spoil-the-cow


Offering Global Solutions

By Muhammad Hamid Zaman

December 19, 2016

Being a bystander in the time of need and heinous atrocities is never an option. It is particularly immoral when these atrocities are being broadcast and live tweeted. The excuse can no longer be of lack of knowledge or being unaware.

As the crisis in Syria unfolds, with millions of innocent men, women and children from Aleppo sending their final goodbyes to the world, we should ask ourselves, how did we receive that message? Our inaction, speaks just as loud and clear, as our action would. The speech of our inaction is neither pretty nor dignified. It is vile, ugly and inhumane.

The argument that we are poor and unable to help is fundamentally flawed. The only poverty that stops us from helping is the poverty of decency and imagination. The other argument defending our inaction is that we should first get our own house in order, before helping others is important, but only marginally so. Why should we ignore those who are in urgent need? Why can we not do both, focus on our problems and do something for whom death seems more attractive than living another day. In a globalized village, why should we see our neighbours being slaughtered and their houses being burned down, and look the other way?

The problems in Aleppo are indeed complex, and there are many facets to who bears responsibility. Indeed, there are many who share the blame. But one thing is clear and needs no political spin. Innocent children, like our own kids, are suffering in ways that words cannot express. The questions of betrayal in the innocent eyes of the children should haunt us, and force us to think what we can do to ease their pain. No one group of people has a monopoly on humanity and decency. I understand that politics of the region is as complex as it gets. The interests of great powers are all intertwined and have resulted in a colossal tragedy. Yet, there are issues in health, financial assistance and logistical support that are well within our reach. The innovative minds of the country be it in technical disciplines or in health, have the capacity to contribute. Be it an app that tilts the balance from death to life, or support to the white helmets who are saving millions, the canvass of help is large, and waiting to be filled by the colours of our creativity.

It is not just individuals alone who have a fundamental moral responsibility to help. Institutions have a role to play as well. Educational institutions, particularly universities, are ideal places to discuss ideas and ways in which the society can contribute. They are also platforms to engage students, researchers and scholars to see what can be done, and how do we do our bit. The discussions may be rowdy and unruly, but we have to think, debate and discuss our options and our moral responsibility.

Beyond individuals and institutions, we also have to recognize that our government has failed to take a stance that is just or moral. It is not about antagonizing our western neighbour, or to freeze the thawing relations with Russia. It is about standing up for the children who are the face of a holocaust in our own times. We have to put pressure on our elected representatives to stand with those who are the victims and do what they can in their capacity to ease the suffering. We have to do more, and we have to demand more of ourselves, and of our government.

We are seeing a calamity on a scale the world has not seen for decades and if out of either false pragmatism, selfishness or complacency, we decide to look the other way, history will not be kind to us. And it would be justified to judge us among those who were complacent and complicit in murder. There is still time, though it is disappearing fast, to change course.

Source; tribune.com.pk/story/1268161/offering-global-solutions/


Pakistan and India: Current Issues and Future Directions

By Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

December 18, 2016

Pakistan and India are facing serious difficulties in their bilateral relations. Though they are not in a state of war, a virtual warlike situation exists on the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. They are engaged in an intense propaganda against each other.  Their mutual antagonism has increased since Narendra Modi became India’s Prime Minister in May 2014.

An interesting feature of the difficult Pakistan-India relation is that there is a wide discrepancy in the informal and personal interaction between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the policies of their governments. The goodwill reflected the personal interaction of the two Prime Ministers has not played any moderating role on the troubled relations between the two governments.

India holds Pakistan responsible for all terrorist incidents in mainland India and Indian-administered Kashmir.  The major incidents enumerated by India include the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament (December 2001), the attack in Mumbai (November 2008), the military camp Pathankot attack (January 2016), the military camp in Uri attack (September 2016), and an attack of Nagrota Army Camp near Jammu City (November 2016). India blames Lashkar-e-Tayyaba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Jaish-i-Muhammad for these terrorist incidents and wants that the chiefs of these organizations should be handed over to it. Further, it also wants the completion of the trial of Lashkar-i-Tayyiba activists in connection with the Mumbai attack that has been going on in Rawalpindi since their arrest in December 2008.

India refuses to hold any dialogue with Pakistan until the latter adopts punitive measures against the above named groups and puts these out of action. This pre-condition for holding the talks is coupled with India’s persistent campaign for isolating Pakistan at the international and regional levels and getting it declared as a terrorist state by the United States and the UN.

It is not an advisable strategy on the part of India to reduce the dialogue process to a single issue, i.e., satisfy India on the terrorism related issues before any talks can take place.   Until the end of the 1980s, the government of Pakistan used to argue that increased trade and expanded societal relations with India could not be cultivated prior to the settlement of the Kashmir problem, i.e., settle the Kashmir problem first.   Now, Pakistan talks of Kashmir and other problems.   Similarly, India needs to adopt a more flexible approach of “Terrorism and other issues” if it is genuinely interested in resuming the dialogue for improvement of relations with Pakistan.

For India, terrorism means the above named organisations and their leaders.  As compared to India’s narrow focus, Pakistan takes a more comprehensive view of terrorism in the region. It views these organisations as a part of a bigger problem of extremism and terrorism.

Pakistan complains about India’s insensitivity towards the magnitude of terrorism issues and problems in Pakistan and the fact that Pakistan has suffered more human and material losses due to this menace. India is seen in Pakistan as an augmenter of terrorism in Pakistan by extending what Pakistan’s official circles claim material support to various terrorist groups, including Pakistan Tehrik-e-Taliban, and Balochistan based dissident groups through Afghanistan territory with whose government it shares the negative views on Pakistan.

India’s persistent anti-Pakistan propaganda aims at building diplomatic pressure on Pakistan for taking effective punitive actions against the groups identified by India.  In reality, this propaganda is counter-productive to India’s goal of containing these groups. The Indian campaign is used by these organisations to entrench them in Pakistan, especially in the Punjab, by arguing that India is opposed to them because they stand for the liberation of Kashmir.  The more India talks against these groups, the stronger become these groups in Pakistan. This reduces the space for the Pakistan government to take any stern action against them.

India needs to abandon its policy of coercion and intimidation in Kashmir. As long as the internal situation in Indian-administered Kashmir stays unsettled by popular protest of young Kashmiris and India continues with human rights violations, anti-India sentiments would remain strong in Pakistan.  Similarly, there is a need of restoring peace and stability on the LoC and both need to include the alleged negative role of their intelligence agencies in each other’s territories in the agenda for the talks in the future.

India should develop a comprehensive agenda for talks that can have terrorism as the priority for India but it cannot dictate a single item agenda to Pakistan. There has to be a shared agenda for the talks that includes all issues of concerns for both countries. Both Kashmir (priority for Pakistan) and terrorism (priority for India) can be on agenda along with other issues and problems.

Pakistan and India need to resume unconditional talks on all contentious issues and they should tone-down anti propaganda against each other. They need to explore the option of adopting a shared approach towards the on-going strife in Afghanistan.

Positive reciprocity rather than coercive diplomacy can defuse the current tensions between Pakistan and India.

Bilateral talks cannot produce any positive results until the power elite in both countries display a categorical political determination to put an end to negative propaganda, restore peace on the LoC on the basis of the November 2003 ceasefire, and resume result-oriented talks.  They should also restore the confidence building measures already agreed to and add new CBMs in order to overcome the new biases that have cropped up in their relations since May 2014, when Modi became India’s Prime Minister.  This will help to boost their economic relations and trade ties.

India needs to tone down ultra-nationalism and curtail the role of hard-line Hindu groups in the BJP. This is going to be as challenging for the Indian government as it would be a formidable task for the Pakistan government to contain the influence of militant Islamic groups, especially the Kashmir focused groups, in Pakistani state and society.

Source; tribune.com.pk/story/1267287/pakistan-india-current-issues-future-directions/


Internal Fissures and Power Struggle in Afghanistan

 By Mohammad Jamil


Afghanistan has been in the throes of violence, and the nation has faced death and destruction during the last three and a half decades. Firstly, when Soviet forces landed in Afghanistan, what they said, on the request of the then Afghan government, the US and the West planned the overt and covert operation against them. Secondly, people became victims of the civil war between the warlords after withdrawal of the Soviet forces. And thirdly, after 9/11 when the US and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan. Three elections were held under the US and NATO bayonets; twice Hamid Karzai was elected as president allegedly through deception and fraud. In September 2014 elections, Ashraf Ghani was elected as president. A unity government was formed, and Abdullah Abdullah was appointed as Chief Executive Officer. But they continue with their power struggle, which is fraught with extreme dangers.

CEO Abdullah Abdullah, in public outbursts, accused Ghani of centralising authority and not respecting the American-brokered deal that settled the disputed presidential election and created the unity government. Ashraf Ghani recently agreed to deal with a political rival, Atta Muhammad Noor, the powerful governor of northern Balkh Province who was once an important ally of Abdullah. But he developed differences with Abdullah and had expressed disappointment over his failing to secure a fair share of the coalition government for the Jamiat bloc. The political situation has been further complicated due to the conflict between the Parliament and the Executive. Last month, Parliament had sacked seven ministers belonging to both sides of the unity government on various charges including the one that they failed to spend the funds allocated for development. However, President Ashraf Ghani asked the ministers to continue. The matter is now in the Supreme Court.

First vice president, General Abdul Rashid Dostum has been critical of the government, to which he is the part, expressing disappointment for deploying incompetent and inexperienced officers and soldiers in his area. In October 2016, Dostum had unleashed a tirade in which he issued a veiled threat that he might turn against his own government if disrespect towards him and his Uzbek constituency continued. He had earlier vowed that he and his Uzbek militia fighters would lead the northern war against the Taliban if the government would not. At a news conference at his personal palace in northern Afghanistan, General Dostum accused President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, of favouring the ethnic groups they belong to and used their power to suppress other ethnicities. However, President’s spokesman had refuted those charges and said that he was a part of the decision-making process.

But to cover up their internal fissures and failures, President Ashraf Ghani accuses Pakistan of supporting the militants. On 3 December, India and Afghanistan joined hands at the Heart of Asia conference to malign Pakistan. Narendra Modi heaped scorn at Islamabad for, what he called, its inaction against terrorism in the region. In his veiled reference to Pakistan, Modi said silence and inaction against terrorism in Afghanistan and the region would only embolden terrorists and their masters. “We must demonstrate the strong collective will to defeat terror networks that cause bloodshed and spread fear,” he added. President Ashraf Ghani alleged that Pakistan was a sponsor of terrorism. The question is when Afghan government admits that Taliban control about 30 percent of Afghanistan, why Taliban leaders or fighters would need a safe haven in Pakistan or any other country when they hold territory where they can train, rest and groom?

At a recent briefing at Pentagon, commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John W. Nicholson said, “Pak-Afghan region has the highest concentration of terrorist groups in the world. Out of 98 US-designated groups around the world, 20 are in Pak-Afghan region — 13 in Afghanistan and 7 in Pakistan.” In fact, Pakistan has taken measures to discourage movements of militants to and fro Afghanistan. Pakistan also sincerely tried to bring the Taliban leaders to the negotiating table; but Northern Alliance elements do not wish to see any agreement with the Taliban, as they will have to share power with them who represent the Pushtun majority. The Afghan government, and especially NDS officials, had leaked the news of Mullah Omer when the Taliban had agreed to hold talks unconditionally.

President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have been at loggerheads since the formation of a unity government, as both of them wished to gain greater control over power. The Taliban benefited from their internal rifts over the appointment of security chiefs, governors and key bureaucrats, and have been attacking in Kabul’s high-security zones at will, sometimes taking over entire provinces without much resistance. A number of residents of south-eastern Paktika province recently said that Taliban militants searched vehicles and passengers on highways. They look for government officials in vehicles on the Paktika-Ghazni and Paktika-Paktia highways. One resident told Pajhwok Afghan News that the highways in Paktika had become highly insecure, as Taliban militants daily searched vehicles on roads and pulled government officials from vehicles and killed them. This means that writ of the government does not exist there and elsewhere and Taliban control the area.

One would not know what message the Taliban wanted to give when they offered to protect major government projects such as the mining of a big copper deposit and an international natural gas pipeline project to assist the development and prosperity of war-torn Afghanistan. The insurgents have been behind much of the violence over the last 15 years that has frightened off investors, leaving Afghanistan unable to tap its vast natural resources and build the infrastructure necessary for development and progress of the country. Secondly, the Taliban, leadership maintains that their fight is against foreign military forces and the foreign-backed government, not ordinary Afghans. “The Islamic Emirate not only backs all national projects which are in the interest of the people and result in the development and prosperity of the nation but are also committed to safeguarding them,” the Taliban said in a statement.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/20-Dec-16/internal-fissures-and-power-struggle-in-afghanistan


The Conspiracy

By Jonathan Cook

December 20, 2016

According to the prevailing claim, Russian president Vladimir Putin stole the election on behalf of Trump. Trump is not truly a US president, it seems. He’s Russia’s placeman in the White House – a Moscovian candidate.

Clinton’s allegations, of course, did not arrive in a vacuum. For weeks the CIA and other intelligence agencies have been making evidence-free claims that Russia was behind the release of embarrassing emails from the Democratic party leadership. But either way, what is being overlooked in the furore is that none of the information that has come to light about the Democratic party was false. The emails are real and provide an accurate account of the Democratic party’s anti-democratic machinations, including efforts to undermine the campaign of Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s challenger.

If Russia did indeed seek to influence the election by releasing truthful information that made Clinton and her allies look bad that would be far more legitimate interference than the US has engaged in against countless countries around the globe. For decades the US has been actively involved in using its military might to overthrow regimes in Latin America and the Middle East. It has also compromised the sovereignty of innumerable states, by sending killer-drones into their airspace, manipulating their media and funding colour revolutions.

The NSA is not archiving every bit of digital information it can lay  its hands on for no reason. The US seeks global dominance, whether    the rest of the globe wants  it or not.

The media have suddenly woken up to the supposed threat to western democracies posed by ‘fake news’. The implication is that it was ‘fake news’ that swept Trump to power. A properly informed electorate, on this view, would never have made such a patently ridiculous choice as Trump. Instead, Clinton would have been rightfully          crowned president.

‘Fake news’, of course, does not concern the systematic deceptions promoted by the corporate media. It does not include the demonstrable lies    –  like those Iraqi WMDs – spread by western governments and intelligence agencies through the corporate media. It does not even refer to the press corps’ habitual reports – demonstrating a seemingly gargantuan gullibility – that take at face value the endless state propaganda against Official Enemies, whether Cuba, Venezuela, Libya or Syria. Or Russia and now Trump.

No, ‘fake news’ is produced only by bloggers and independent websites, and is promoted on social media. Those peddling ‘fake news’ are writers, journalists and activists whose pay packets do not depend on continuing employment by western state-run media like the BBC, billionaire proprietors like Rupert Murdoch, or global corporations like Times-Warner.

It is worth noting that the leaked Democratic emails, whether the leaking was done by Russia or not, were certainly not ‘fake news’. They were documented truth. But the leaks are being actively conflated with ‘fake news’.

But the claim of ‘fake news’ does usefully offer western security agencies, establishment politicians and the corporate media a powerful weapon to silence their critics. After all, these critics        have no platform other than independent websites and social media. Shut down the sites and you shut up your opponents.

The campaign against a Trump presidency will exploit claims of foreign, hostile interference in the US election as a pretext to crack down on home-grown dissent. Putin is not waging a war on US democracy. Rather, US democracy is proving itself increasingly inconvenient to those who expect to dictate electoral outcomes.

This article has been excerpted from: ‘Clinton’s Defeat and the Fake News Conspiracy’.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/173033-The-conspiracy

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/afghanistan--too-many-butchers-spoil-the-cow--new-age-islam-s-selection,-20-december-2016/d/109426


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