Govt’s will, ability to import Iran gas questioned

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) on Thursday voiced doubt over governments determination and ability to ensure import of Iranian gas through multi-billion-dollar pipeline.

Governments tall claims to relieve country of energy crisis by importing natural gas from Iran remained confined to statements for public consumption and they woke up to the issue days before assemblies are scheduled to be dissolved which has raised doubts among many, said Farida Rashid, President IWCCI.

She said that all the statements of leading politicians claiming to reject US pressure on pipeline are aimed at gaining popularity and add to the problems of the next government as Pakistan is ill prepared to afford US confrontation.

Why government did not initiate the project soon after coming to power which would have helped revive economy and why now everything is being done with an amazing speed, she questioned.

Farida Rashid said that US would never allow Iran to increase its presences, income and influence in the region. She do not want to see a stable Pakistan too, the president of the womens chamber added.

Many experts have rejected the tall claims of the government at a time when country is heading towards a default.

Pakistans balance of payment situation has become highly unstable, forex reserves are at unsatisfactory level while country cannot pay for imports for more than two months.

In such a situation when almost every sector of the economy is limping how can Pakistan avoid a minimum of 9-10 billion dollar loan from the IMF which can be provided only on the behest of US, said Farida Rashid.

Pakistan can never have reliable energy supply from Iran unless US stop looking at the project from a political angle and start considering it imperative for survival of Pakistan.

Farida said that handing over Gwadar port to China was a laudable decision that may have something to do with fresh wave of terror across the country.

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America Would Reign Supreme

By Saeed Qureshi

The United States of America has always been in making. America is known as the country of immigrants. Never in its history starting from declaration of independence in 1776 to this day, has it ever been under monarchy or dictatorship. It was always democratic country. It is country of paradoxes and extreme divergences.

It is the most indebted yet the leading donor nation on planet earth. The 9/11 cataclysmic incident was an unexpected tragedy, yet this nation has learnt invaluable lessons from that. This land is much safer now under a foolproof security system put in place after that earth shaking event.

While living in the United States, I can vouch that despite being under a staggering 16 trillion dollar debt, the domestic socio-cultural life and the living standards of the citizens have remained almost unaffected. The Americans enjoy the same perks and benefits that they have been enjoying for decades. This country sinks for a while and rebounds to the surface with new vigor and vitality.

The law and order is in excellent shape, the courts work with the decorum that is expected of them. The state institutions function within the framework of paramount national interest and are geared towards the service of the citizens.

The oversight or the accountability is an all encompassing and overarching umbrella over a grocery shops to huge departmental stores to a gigantic manufacturing factory. The taxation and revenue collection known as IRS is more powerful than any other organ of the administration. The tax and revenue collection system can serve a useful model for other countries.

The decision making at every level of governance is through a democratic process that is grueling but certainly betokens the respect for the public opinion. The appointments of the officials in city or county are made with the approval of the citizens. A bureaucrat or the head of department does not have the authority to make appointments on important posts. Most of the posts are filled through local elections. The development projects, new houses or offices; be these private or public cannot be launched without the approval of the residents of the respective areas and localities.

In the courts there are rigorous contests and legal bouts between the prosecution and the defense. Yet both the sides have to present their arguments before a panel of jury picked randomly from various sections of the society. The jury has to decide the case in a unanimous yes or no vote. This is truly a grassroots democratic culture and demonstrates that power belongs to the people.

The criminals and outlaws are hunted down and brought to justice finally. The healthcare facilities are available for everyone. The jobless are given unemployment allowances, the traffic runs orderly, the roads and lanes are free of dirt. There is no way one can park anywhere or violate traffic signal at free will. These are some of the glowing hallmarks of a civil and administratively well established society.

A country fighting aimless wars in foreign lands for pretty six decades has a meritorious and vibrant society at home. The ethnic divide is sharp but mutually tolerant. The constitution and the laws do not discriminate between the citizens on the basis of color, creed age or sex etc. It is a country that takes in maximum number of immigrants every year. This is one country where the dispossessed, traumatized and uprooted people from the oppressive societies stream in every year in huge numbers.

Yet we accuse of this country for blatant human rights violations, target killings through drones and otherwise, intimidation, hegemonic designs and arm-twisting around the world. However those perceptions and priorities are undergoing a transformation within US at the policy making levels.

If analyzed in the hindsight, one would tend to believe that if this country professes to be a capitalist country, and its economy based upon the capitalist system, then it has to oppose communism that runs a diametrically opposite economic system with the state ownership of everything produced and distributed.

We have seen the abysmal outcome of the centralized economic systems in the world during the past few decades. The communism miserably failed in the aftermath of the Second World War. Now its upholders mainly Russia and China are half way through shifting over to a traditional capitalist system. There is a trend of opening of societies both socially and economically in Russia and China. If this were not so then the largest portion of investment would not been made by the American entrepreneurs in China.

The United States was trenchantly braced against the growing challenge of communism in the aftermath of the Second World War. It was a cold war era that entailed in its wake both economic and military rivalries. In wars fought in the Far East, America suffered one defeat after another.

But finally in Afghanistan it turned the tables on the Soviet Union and scored a decisive and historic victory, although this was made possible through the Muslims guerrillas and Mujahids (crusaders) that fought a war of attrition against the Soviet Union for a decade forcing that military power to leave Afghanistan. America made the second blunder by invading Iraq an egregious highhandedness which cannot be justified by any logic or definition.

But those huge blunders are part of an unbridled militancy and uncalled for propensity for bellicosity may not be repeated by America after stark realization that those were injurious and counterproductive. And look the colossal prices America has to pay. In several wars initiated by America after the Second World War, thousands of American soldiers were killed, many more crippled and the economy overburdened with an astounding debt.

Ironically United States owes most of external debt to a prospective rival of future, the Peoples Republic of China. But it emphatically appears that Americas obsession for distant wars is coming to a close. The United State would not repeat the fallacies of sending its military contingents to wage overseas wars. If at all it has to mount any military engagement it would do so by proxy. It means not direct involvement but giving aid and technological and other similar inputs and assistance o the respective countries to fight the terrorists or those perceived to be the enemies of the United States.

The United States has set an admirable example of the establishment of facilitating democratic dispensations in the totalitarian regimes in the Middle East thus embracing those oppressive societies with the fragrance of Arab spring. That historic transformation could be made possible with the help of the United States.

One can reckon that the United States would not wage a war or even allow Israel for preemptive attacks on Iran as that would be disastrous as witnessed in case of such wars during the past several decades. That would be a last straw on the camel’s back for the dwindling American economy and cutting across its new role of a sincere facilitator for the world peace.

The Obama administration that has taken an incredible yet most sagacious decision of recalling the American forces from both Iraq and Afghanistan would not launch a fresh military adventure against Iran. President Obama is more riveted on research, space exploration, better education, healthcare for all and growth of economy and modernizing of the aging infrastructures by diverting funds from wars to such vital priorities.

There is no gainsaying that 9/11 and the measures taken thereafter have made America definitively a safer place and one can rule out any incident of similar nature ever in future. It is expected that with the time passage the condign conditions imposed on traveling and rigorous background checks or harsh racial proofing would be softened. Hopefully, the great and free American society with pleasant hallmarks of liberty, freedom and openness would bounce back.

The United States after massive upheavals and rude shock waves generated by scores of wars, involvement in making and breaking regimes, and posing as a bully state and delineating between friendly and unfriendly states would now embark upon turning the world into an abode of peace and fraternity among the nations. With China it should act more as partner for a better world than falling back upon belligerency and warfare.

With a formidable paradigm shift that is now taking place in the United States both externally and domestically, America with its enormous wealth and astounding resources and overarching clout, is to reemerge as the world leader. It is destined to reign supreme as a humane and righteous world leader. It has the capacity and resources to transform the earth into the kingdom of God where peace, human dignity and welfare for all the inhabitants prevail. A monumental change is in the offing.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat.

Conspiracy against Gilgit-Baltistan

By Sajjad Shaukat

With the assistance of anti-Pakistan powers, India which has already been supporting separatism in Balochistan has also accelerated conspiracy against the province of Gilgit-Baltistan by backing the minority nationalist elements which claim an independent Balawaristan there. These external entities are also behind target killings and sectarian violence in these areas.

Notably, especially, Indian secret agency, RAW has played a key role in the Northern Areas in organising a number of nationalist groups such as Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance (GBDA), Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement (GBUM) etc.and particularly Balawaristan National Front (BNF) which plays a leading role, claiming that Chitral and Kohistan are inseparable parts of Gilgit-Baltistan, known as Balawaristan.

RAW which performed a major role in forming BNF in 1992 has been providing it with political and financial support including arms and ammunition. The sole aim is to promote the agenda of an independent Republic of Balawaristan from Kohistan to Chitral and Khunjrab to Skardu which also includes Ladakh.

BNF is also organising students so as to instigate the sentiments of separatism among them. For this aim, on July 29, 2008, BNF had created Karakuram Students Organization (KSO) at Karakuram University Gilgit, and also decided to form Balwaristan National Students Organisation (BNSO).

With the help of foreign entities like parliamentarians, media anchors, scholars and human rights groups, India manipulate the petty matters and local rivalries to damage the national interests of Pakistan. In this regard, with the diplomatic support of Indian officials and RAW agents, on October 18, 2008, BNF leader Abdul Hameed Khan had held meetings with Emma Nicholson, the Vice Chairperson of the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the European Union and member of the European Parliament. In that meeting, Abdul Hameed blamed Pakistan for human rights violations in Gilgit and Baltistan, exaggerating regional disparities which are very common in the less developed countries due to a number of problems like lack of resources, finance, high population growth etc. Surprisingly, India, itself, is facing these problems.

Ms. Emma Nicholson visited Islamabad in February 2008 and had meetings with Shafaqat Inqalabi of BNF and advocate Muhammad Iqbal of Karakurum National Movement (KNM). Both the leaders requested her to initiate a resolution in the European Parliament about human rights violations in Gilgit-Baltistan. They also submitted basic data regarding political, economic and social disparities including alleged human rights violations in connection with those areas to Ms. Nicholson. In fact, statistics were already prepared by these organisations with the instructions of RAW.

In this respect, Indian conspiracy could be witnessed from the self-contradictory statement of BNF leader Abdul Hameed Khan. In his exclusive interview with Indian Hindu Sitah (india.indymedia.org), he advocated total independence of Gilgit-Baltistan (Balawaristan), but emphasised integration with India. He also requested New Delhi for more political, diplomatic and media help for his movement.

However, India and its foreign collaborators have started propagating against Pakistan, targeting the people of Gilgit-Baltistan to pollute their minds by distorting the historical truths through their wicked write ups, articles and seminars held at foreign soil. The aim is to accord more credibility to their propaganda campaign and also to muster external support for their nefarious designs against Pakistan.

In this context, the lethal role played by Imtiaz Hussain, President of Gilgit-Baltistan National Congress and a Virginia-based Satellite Engineer, and by Senge H. Sering President of Washington-based Institute of Gilgit-Baltistan Studies is significant. Their propaganda contents not only distort the historical truth about Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan, but also instigate separatist notions for the target audience. They also advocate resumption of traffic and trade across the Line of Control from Gilgit-Baltistan to Ladakh, while opposing building of dams, expressways, railways and gas pipelines by Pakistani governmentspreading disinformation that it will damage the ecosystem, causing environmental ramifications.

Sering is currently based in New Delhi and is a visiting faculty for Indian Institute of Defence and Strategic Analysis (IDSA). His intent can well be understood, as real perpetrators, particularly, RAW assign him the task. His design is based on wicked efforts to confuse and complicate the status of Gilgit-Baltistan province in the eyes of the world opinion builders, while creating sense of separatism and feelings of dissent among the loyal people of Pakistans this province.

Particularly on the direction of RAW, nationalist elements of Pakistans Northern Areas have been making efforts for opening of Kargil-Ladakh road. It is part of Indian conspiracy to fulfill its covert agenda. For this purpose, refugees from Indian-held Turtuk, Tiaqshi, Nabar and other townsnow settled in Gilgit-Baltistan are being exploited through various tactics. In this context, a Kargil-Ladakh Refugee Committee of Skardu has already been formed to propagate the issue. RAW agents, diplomats and related-organisations have been inviting various delegations intermittently from the Northern Areas to New Delhi for implementation of Indian secret agenda.

While Gilgit-Baltistan is integral part of Pakistan, and its native population is very loyal and patriotic. The people of the area derive inspiration from Pakistans national anthem and feel highly privileged in holding the Pakistani flag as high as possible. They are simple and straightforward people blessed with good features, tough physique, good mannerism, psychological warmth, self respect, and sense of sacrifice. They love their land as much as they adore the entire Pakistani nation.

At the time of partition, they bravely fought against overwhelming Indian forces and got the region freed from Britain-backed Indian Army. Ever since, they have remained loyal to Pakistan. During three wars with India, they offered numerous sacrifices to save Pakistan. Hence, the entire nation is proud of their bravery, vision and devotion.

Nevertheless, besides other hostile elements and RAWs physical aid, Indian media has also been misleading the masses of Gilgit-Baltistan by promoting anti-Pakistani nationalist voice.

In response, Pakistans media must expose real designs of Indian propagandists who use foreign soil in inciting these people for separatism, and in distorting facts about Pakistani province of Gilgit-Baltistan. Our media anchors must also inform the people regarding conspiracy against Gilgit-Baltistan.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.

Bin Ladin Film is a Disaster Movie

By Yvonne Ridley

Every now and again a movie is released which creates a major change in society and the way it thinks, such is the power and influence of Hollywood at its best.

In The Heat of the Night is a classic example and it forced middle class Americans in 1967 to take a long hard look in the mirror to confront their attitudes towards race and prejudice.

Norman Jewison’s racially-charged murder mystery won several awards in the 1968 Oscar ceremony which that year had been delayed a couple of days out of respect for the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, the leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement, who had been assassinated the previous week.

As the film went on general release there were reports of all-white audiences in the Deep South cheering in theatres, giving their full-throated approval of Sidney Poitiers portrayal of a proud black man who refused to be intimidated by Rod Steiger’s redneck police chief in a small Mississippi town.

This was nothing less than extraordinary given the political context at the time but this particular movie made ordinary Americans see racism for the vile doctrine it is.

If anyone was expecting such a seminal moment from Kathryn Bigelows new movie Zero Dark Thirty about the demise of al Qaida leader Osama bin Ladin they will be disappointed. In fact if anything, the film will fans the flames of prejudice in those countries where burning the American flag is already a regular occurrence.

Zero Dark Thirty is so wrong on so many levels that it is bordering on being irresponsible. While the re-enactment of torture scenes might be authentic the truth is Osama bin Ladin was tracked down through good, old fashioned intelligence work. In other words, not a drop of blood was spilled nor so much as a Chinese burn.

For the last two years Ive embroiled myself in an academic study which involved interviewing scores of torture victims from various wars and conflicts since 1945 and one of the most powerful testimonies came from US Republican Senator John McCain; a dyed-in-the-wool supporter of the War on Terror but vehemently opposed to torture.

His was probably the one voice that George W Bush listened to and then tried to dismiss and silence such was the power of his personal experience and belief that torture does not work.

So when it emerged that a team of Navy Seals had taken down the worlds most wanted man thanks to intelligence from a courier, the first question on McCains lips was did the courier reveal OBLs whereabouts through torture? It was not an unreasonable question and the response he got from the head of the CIA with regards to the raid on the Pakistan hideaway in Abbottabad was a firm no.

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta even wrote to Senator McCain in May 2011, stating: ..no detainee in CIA custody revealed the facilitator/couriers full true name or specific whereabouts. This information was discovered through other intelligence means.

However Bigelows film gives the impression that OBL was eliminated purely via intelligence gleaned from full on, no holds barred torture. While this method of intelligence gathering probably now has the full approval of the unquestioning sheeple whove turned Zero dark Thirty into a box office hit, there is an intellectual force at play which finds the methods of interrogation portrayed in the film as abhorrent.

Torture is not only morally and legally wrong under international law; it is also unreliable and rarely effective, as I discovered in my own research. Of course Im not the only one to reach this sort of conclusion and it is something which must have influenced the Oscar judging panel. This could be why Bigelow could have become the second casualty of the film by way of not being nominated for the coveted gold statue the first casualty of Zero Dark Thirty was the truth.

But perhaps the most irresponsible and dangerous clip in the film portrays how a doctor was coerced by the CIA in an unsuccessful attempt to get DNA via blood samples from children living in the mystery house in Abbottabad. Its true that a real life doctor – Shakil Afridi – is now in prison in Pakistan for using the cover of a hepatitis vaccination programme for the CIA to try and identify the occupants of the house suspected as OBLs hideaway.

However, in Bigelows movie the doctor and his team wear jackets which suggest they are providing polio drops. The significance of this scene was not lost on Rob Crilly, Pakistan correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, who said last week: In a country where polio has made a comeback in recent years, the film provides yet another blow for health workers trying to eradicate the disease and prevent Pakistan acting as a reservoir to reinfect the rest of the world.

As I write this, news is just coming in of reports that at least nine women who were vaccinating children agains polio have been shot dead in northern Nigeria by gunmen. The killings are already drawing comparisons with a series of incidents in Pakistan last December where five female polio vaccinators were also shot and killed.

These fresh waves of hostility towards immunisation drives in Nigeria, are being fuelled by some who claim the vaccines are part of a western plot to sterilise young girls and eliminate the Muslim population.

Zero Dark Thirty will do little to dispel this nonsense and plenty to encourage it. Bigelows film is grossly inaccurate and irresponsible and has possibly already cost the lives of innocent aid workers.

The film may yet go down for having a major global impact, but for all the wrong reasons. This is Hollywood at its worst a disaster movie in every sense.

*British journalist Yvonne Ridley is a supporter of Cageprisoners.

USD 18 million grant for rehabilitation of KP’s southern districts

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) announced today the approval of a USD 18 million grant for the KP Southern Area Development Project.

The three-year Project will strengthen the capacity of the poor to improve their livelihood options through access to social and productive infrastructure. The affected communities will be fully involved in the implementation of the project which will target three districts in the Southern KP i.e. Dera Ismail Khan, Tank and Lakki Marwat. These districts are amongst the 25 poorest in the country and received the largest number of Internally Displaced People in the aftermath of the 2009 crisis that displaced an estimated two million people.

Through this Project, the Government of KP will finance investments for community development activities, skills enhancement and cost effective basic services. Small scale productive infrastructure will be rehabilitated with a focus on agriculture and livestock sectors (including provision of water, sanitation, irrigation and agricultural inputs) for the economic growth of southern KP which is essentially an agriculture based economy. This will benefit at least 100,000 people, of which 30 percent will be women.

Commenting on MDTF’s support to the rehabilitation and recovery needs of southern KP, Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan said, ‘This project is unique in its approach as it supports the formation of community groups to plan, prioritize and implement their development needs. This will ensure that local communities, including vulnerable groups and women in targeted districts remain in charge of their own development agenda.

Hostile friends

By Professor Ali Sukhanver

A few weeks back the Pakistan army published its new Green Book which identified internal insurgent forces as the countrys principal national security threat. The book also indicated a shift of concentration of the Pakistan army from Eastern borders to the western front. This doctrinal change was warmly welcomed by various sections of the national and the international society and it was being hoped that the relations between Pakistan and India would get better as a result of this shift of concentration.

Moreover it was also expected that the process of giving India the status of the Most Favoured Nation would also expedite. But unfortunately just after the announcement of the policy of this shift in concentration, the Indian army started an intentional effort of creating a situation of disturbance along the Line of Control. The National Turk reported on 16th January, Indian troops again violated LoC cease last evening.

Indian army men carried out unprovoked firing on Pakistani posts at LoC in Hot Spring and Jandrot sectors from 2200 to 2300 hours. As a result of the Indian army firing, Pakistani soldier Naik Ashraf posted at Kundi Post died. Thus the death toll of Pakistani soldiers killed in cross-LoC firing since January 6 has risen to three. Just ten days before this incident, on the sixth day of the New Year the Indian troops crossed the Line of Control and stormed a military post of Pakistan.

A Pakistani soldier was killed and another injured in a fire exchange between Indian and Pakistani troops. A press release from the Pakistan Army says, The Indian troops came across the de factor border in the Haji Pir sector, 80 kilometers north of Islamabad, and physically raided a check post named Sawan Patra. Pakistan Army troops effectively responded to the attack. One Pakistani soldier embraced martyrdom while another was critically injured. The Indian troops retreated, leaving behind a gun and a dagger.

It seems something very difficult to decide about Pakistan and India, the two South Asian nuclear neighbors, whether they are friend or foe. For the last many years, some of the media groups in Pakistan and some hi-ups of the so-called NGOs are trying their utmost to paint a picture of Pak-India relations with colours of friendship and cordiality. Moreover there have been a lot of efforts from various think tanks in Pakistan that Pakistan must rank India as the most favoured country but the on ground realities are altogether different.

In spite of a successful cricket and trade diplomacy one can feel a very hot air of hostility and disliking for each other between the two countries. India and Pakistan announced a cease-fire along the Line of Control in the valley of Kashmir in November 2003 but the cease-fire has been violated again and again many times by India during all these years.

It is not only the matter of violation of cease fire along the Line of Control; India has always been using different tactics to destabilize the very foundations of Pakistan. Sometimes the Indian agents are caught involved in airing the sectarian conflicts in Pakistan and sometimes they are found involved in ethnic clashes in different parts of the country.

Recently it has been learnt through reliable sources that Indian Embassy Economic and Commercial Counselor, Mr. Arvind Saxena at Islamabad is facilitating Indian based companies for striking deal between Sind Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) and TATA & DEHL. The report indicated that Sind Engro Coal Mining Company which is a subsidiary of Engro Group has been preparing a feasibility report on the coal mining projects in the area of Thar for the last three years.

Reportedly Mr. Arvind Saxena is arranging visits of SECMCs technical and administrative hi-ups to Naveli Mines, Tamil Nadu and Gujrat Mineral Development Corporation Limited of India. The aim and objective of these visits is simply to pave way for selling Pakistani coal to India for their projects in Gujrat and Naveli Tamil Nadu and provide an opportunity to the Indian coal mine developers to take charge of the Thar Coal Project.

Some of the well-known Pakistani politicians belonging to Sind are also lending a helping hand to Mr. Saxena in his efforts. Rumours are in air that USA-India supported corrupt Political Business mafia is deeply involved in this multi billion dollars hidden scam. It is the need of time that the government of Pakistan must take keen interest in the matter of the coal mining development program in Sind.

Pakistan has a lot of big names in the field of coal mining and it would be in the larger interest of the country if Thar Coal project is preferably developed under their supervision and command. It is against the logic that on one hand India is taking lives of our soldiers posted at the line of control and on the other hand we are facilitating India by promoting trade relations with it. No doubt trade activities bring the friendly countries closer but trading with the hostile countries could never be fruitful.

Afghanistan – A deceptive impression

By Professor Ali Sukhanver

While going through the details of suicide attack on Asadullah Khalid, the Intelligence Chief of Afghanistan, one feels that Khalid was strolling somewhere in a public park or enjoying a cup of hot Afghani Qahwa in a café along some deserted highway; he was not at a guesthouse used by the National Directorate of Security in a heavily guarded area of the capital Kabul.

How could it had been possible for a suicide bomber to introduce himself as a peace messenger from Taliban and reach the Intelligence Chief deceiving all security check-points if Asadullah Khalid were really at the National Directorate of Security. The incident no doubt puts a question mark at the abilities and talents of the Afghan security forces as well as at those of the NATO.

The time when the US troops were stepping into the Afghan lands, the US authorities were of the opinion that Afghanistan is suffering badly at the hands of the terrorists and the Afghan security forces dont have ability to counter the terrorist activities. That time they had assured the people of Afghanistan that the only aim of the US forces is to strengthen the Afghan security forces so that they might be able to counter the activities of the terrorists. Now at the end of 2012, the suicidal attack on the Intelligence Chief of Afghanistan is a proof that the Afghan security forces are still incapable of countering the terrorists. It means the situation would become horribly disastrous if the US forces say good-bye to the Afghan lands.

The suicide attack on the Afghan Intelligence Chief Asadullah Khalid is simply the beginning of another story in Afghanistan. Khalid was targeted when a suicide bomber struck at a guesthouse used by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a heavily guarded area of the Afghan capital Kabul.

The incident took lives of many officials present at the scene and left Khalid seriously wounded. Just at the closing of 2012, almost a year before the US proposed date of withdrawal of her troops from the Afghan lands, this incident indicates countless possibilities and probabilities, unfortunately all referring to an extension in US stay in Afghanistan. According to the details, the suicide bomber posed himself as a peace messenger from Taliban and exploded him during the negotiations but most of the analysts are not ready to accept these details.

The concocted stories of befooling the officials of Afghan security and NATO are nothing new. There have been so many occasions when different so-called imposters approached Afghan and NATO officials and claimed that they are the representative of the Taliban and have come to settle matters through table-talk and negotiations though the actual Taliban leaders have always maintained their firm public line that they would never consider any negotiations or table-talk until foreign troops leave Afghanistan.

Let us look back at a report published in the New York Times on 22nd November 2010 which said the Afghan and US authorities held face-to-face talks with a man who claimed to be Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the second highest official in the Taliban movement .but later on it was exposed that the man was lying about his identity. Just after the revelation was made public through western media, Joshua Foust commented the episode in a very logical and impressive way.

He says, The story is moderately shocking: a senior Taliban figure was being flown around the region, talking directly with General Petraeus, President Karzai, and other senior figures in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Afghan government. Think about this for a moment: a man whose identity no one was able to verify was flown, by NATO, for face-to-face meetings with high-ranking members of the coalition.

All this is hugely embarrassing for ISAF, for the war, and for any prospects of ending it soon. Now two years after that episode, same seems the case with the suicide bomber who attacked Asadullah Khalid, the Intelligence Chief of Afghanistan. This incident was planned just to defame the Taliban and Pakistan and to give the world around a deceptive impression that the situation in Afghanistan is still so frightening that even the Intelligence Chief is not safe at the hands of the terrorists.

The fact of the matter is that the US conspirators are trying their utmost to find out some lame excuses which could provide logical justification for extension in the stay of US troops in Afghanistan. It is neither Pakistan nor the Taliban behind the assassination attempt on Asadullah Khalid, it is the handiwork of the US agents who are all time busy in disturbing the law and order situation both in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Instead of taking care of his own people, unfortunately Mr. Karzai is also playing in the hands of these agents and safeguarding the US interests in the region. Everyone remembers that just after the suicide attack on Asadullah Khalid, Mr. Karzai abruptly issued his statement in which he blamed that the assassination attempt on the country’s intelligence chief was planned in Pakistan.

He said, We will be seeking a lot of clarifications from Pakistan because we know that this man who came there in the name of a guest to meet with Asadullah Khalid came from Pakistan.” The situation needs a very sympathetic and sincere analysis. Afghanistan could never be a peaceful land unless the foreign troops say farewell to it. Only the people of Afghanistan have ability and skill of dragging Afghanistan back to peace and prosperity and Pakistan is the only force which could give a helping hand to the people of Afghanistan in this regard.

Pakistan-Afghanistan will keep bleeding

By Brig. (Retd) Asif Haroon RajaL:

Despite Obamas desperation to declare victory in Afghanistan, triumph is not in sight. The US is now striving to end the war in Afghanistan in a manner that its honor doesnt get bruised. It wants the world to believe that its troops are abandoning Afghanistan of their own accord after achieving most objectives. While all the power centers in USA undoubtedly want to end the war on a winning note and are on one page on this count, differences have cropped up between Pentagon-CIA and White House-State Department over the culmination of endgame. The former wants continuation of use of brute force padded up with intrigue and trickery to gain an edge over Taliban, the latter seeks political settlement with Taliban so that troops could return honorably. So far, efforts to make the Taliban agree to hold talks have failed.

The US militarys false claim of gains made against Taliban got a jolt after the big jailbreak in Kandahar in April 2011. Most of jail breakers were Taliban commanders and it was feared that they would give fillip to raids and ambushes during this summer. As predicted, from May onwards the Taliban accelerated their attacks on US-NATO targets as well as against key Afghan personalities engaged in brokering peace at the behest of USA and Karzai. Cases of ANA soldiers killing ISAF soldiers as well as desertions increased, while casualties owing to IEDs mounted. Figure of soldiers suffering from mental diseases also increased sharply. On June 28, 2011, Taliban suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a hotel in Kabul. Half-brother of President Karzai, Ahmad Wali Karzai was killed in Kandahar in June. Bigger disasters befell upon ISAF in August and September 2011 during which high profile attacks were carried out by the Taliban.

On August 19, 2011, suicide blast and gun attack occurred at British Council in Kabul. Suicide attack on NATO base in Wardak seriously injured 77 US troops many of whom succumbed to injuries later on. The US helicopter was shot down by the Taliban near Wardak in August killing 38 US troops including 23 NAVY SEALs soldiers who had taken part in Get Geronimo operation in Abbottabad on 2 May. On September 13, the US Embassy, NATO Command HQ and Afghan Central Directorate of Security building were attacked by six Taliban with rocket grenades and machine guns from a nearby building in Kabul and the siege continued for 20 hours. The attackers managed to make good their escape. On 20 September, Chairman Peace Council Burhanuddin Rabbani was killed by a suicide bomber at his home in Kabul. These attacks flabbergasted the US military NATO and ANSF. These occurred at a critical time when military command was changing/had just changed, less volatile regions were being handed over to ANA, the drawdown had just begun and the US military was making tall claims of progress.

The US spelt out three conditions for peace. These were dropping of arms and sitting on negotiating table, detaching from al-Qaeda, and acceptance of constitution framed by Afghan Parliament. The US also expressed its desire that after withdrawing bulk of forces by end 2014, it may continue occupying five military bases for next ten years till complete stability was achieved.

The Taliban rejected all the demands and stuck to their stated position of withdrawal of all occupying forces without condition and leaving the Afghans to sort out matters among themselves. This stance was unacceptable to USA and hence application of force continued to force the Taliban to come to the negotiating table. Use of kill teams and night raids and induction of tanks in southern Afghanistan were undertaken to weaken Taliban and wrest the initiative from them. US air attacks were also stepped up in 2011 as was seen in rise of civilian casualties in Helmand, Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan. As per reports of James Cogan, Human Rights Unit of UN assistance to Afghanistan (UNAMA), upsurge in reckless US-NATO aerial attacks soared civilian casualties in Afghanistan by 24% since 2010.

Pakistan which is an important stakeholder has so far not spelled out its role in the endgame although it is often heard that it desires to have a friendly regime in Kabul since it cannot afford to have two hostile fronts in east and west. It is also believed that Pakistan is not in agreement with the policy of pre-conditions and wants that composition of future broad based Afghan government should be proportionate to ethnic demography.

Had the US or Afghan regime been on Pakistans side, it would have been much easier for Islamabad to emphasize its position openly and assertively. Since Indo-US-Afghan nexus has common goals and is jointly playing the endgame so as to terminate it to its advantage and Pakistan doesnt fit into the scheme of things, it makes things that much difficult for Pakistan. Disagreeing with the perception of Pakistan, the US wants the Taliban to be given role of a junior partner in a coalition government so that it can leave behind a regime friendly to USA and India and not so friendly to Pakistan.

The US admitted that Mullah Omar led Shura and Haqqani network (HN) were two most important players who could not be ignored, and without their cooperation no political settlement was possible. However, while it strove to hold parleys with them, at the same time it desperately searched them to eliminate them since without their cooperation or riddance; no headway could be made in Afghan imbroglio. It was this inherent desire which impelled US leaders to provoke Pakistan to fight them and earn their enmity rather than befriend them. Finding that HN was unprepared to tow its agenda, it was declared a terrorist outfit.

Mullah Omar and HN are acceptable to USA only if they cede to its three conditions and not otherwise. While Karzai regime, Afghan Peace Council now under Salahuddin Rabbani, moderate Taliban, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Britain, Germany and India are authorized to contact the Taliban, Pakistan is the only country which is debarred. This is despite the fact that out of all the countries claiming to have some access to Taliban, Pakistan is in a far better position to negotiate with them. The reason why Pakistan is being kept out is that the US doesnt want Pakistan to develop camaraderie with Taliban or to play a role in political settlement. The US wants Pak Army to hunt, weaken and isolate HN and elements of Mullah Omar, leaving them with no option but to come to terms with the US. One wonders what would be fate of US-NATO forces stuck in the quagmire of Afghanistan if the lone door that has been kept open by Pakistan is also closed and security situation spins out of control.

Irrespective of concerted efforts of US trainers to make the ANA battle worthy, performance of ANA is still not up to the mark. There has not been any drop in desertion and discipline cases including cases of firing upon foreign forces mainly because of their meager pay scale, economic hardships and insulting attitude of US-NATO officers and men. Indiscriminate firing by NATO resulting in heavy deaths of civilians is another cause of their heart burning. Possibility of revolt within ANA cannot be ruled out particularly when larger numbers of Pashtun soldiers are now being recruited to correct the ethnic balance. Surge in green-on-blue attacks is an indication in that direction.

While the Americans do not foresee any possibility of recovering southern and eastern Afghanistan, they still feel that central, northern and possibly western Afghanistan can be retained since the influence of Taliban in these regions is so far not as strong as in Pashtun dominated regions of Afghanistan. In case the Taliban do not come to terms as per US wishes, as a last resort the US intends giving up the two regions dominated by Taliban and consolidate their power base in the north. The other way is to shift responsibility of US failure to Pakistan and to realize its long desired plan to defang Pakistans nuclear capability. The two contingencies will be played by retaining 10,000 US Special forces disguised as trainers and technical advisers in five military bases in Afghanistan till 2024.

As long as foreign troops will remain in Afghanistan, both Afghanistan and Pakistan will keep bleeding. Tragedy is that even after departure of bulk of occupying forces by December 2014, probability of recurrence of civil war in Afghanistan with its spillover effect on Pakistan is quite high. All those who had taken part in destroying Afghanistan would go back to their respective countries but Pakistan alone will have to face the residual impact of 13 year war for times to come.

The writer is a retired Brig and a defence analyst.

US influence emerges as major threat to Pakistan’s economy

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said that American influence in Pakistan has reached to a limit where national dignity, sovereignty and interests are being compromised without considering the outcome.

Pak-Iran gas pipeline, one of the most vital and long-delayed projects necessary for the survival of the country has been abandoned ending hopes of revival of shambling economy, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that the project to meet ever-increasing energy requirements stands quitted on the dictation of Washington which is another example of compromising national interests to please others.

The sudden and unexpected cancellation of visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to Tehran where he was supposed to seal a final gas deal with his counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad is unfortunate.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that cancellation of the visit without bothering to give any explanation and silence of opposition over the issue is shameful.

He said that declining Iranian offer to provide $500 million to complete the pipeline while happily accepting US suggestion to make available $200 million for construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam is something which will never go down well with masses.

Pakistan will start paying Iran $ 200 million monthly to Iran whether it received any gas or not for which the incumbent government will be sole responsible, he said.

Pakistan has sacrificed everything to support US which is against our national interests; he said adding that it is tragic that government has once again proved that we are unable to safeguard our interests.

There is no justification for turning back from a project that was in advance stages of implementation, he observed.

Rejecting the statement of spokesman of foreign office over Presidents visit, Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that now country depends on the US assistance even for maintenance of tube wells and electricity meters which supports the belief that Pakistan is a collapsing state fallen in US the trap.

JKDYF demands inquiry in Gaza killings

Srinagar, MTT News Desk: Strongly condemning the latest Israeli aggression in Gaza Strip, Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Youth Federation (JKDYF) today took to streets seeking an international inquiry into Israels latest action which left over a hundred helpless people including children and women dead in Gaza.

Shouting slogans and raising placards in their hands, hundreds of JKDYF activists assembled at press enclave in Srinagar against Israeli attack in Gaza. Advocate Arshid Hussain Baba, President and Abdul Rashid Yatoo General Secretary JKDYF led the protest rally and later tried to march towards Lal Chowk but were stopped by the police.

While addressing the protesting activists, the two youth leaders urged the international community to rise to the occasion and put in efforts to broker a long lasting and durable peace in the region.

Advocate Baba and Mr Yatoo also appealed the Indian Prime Minister to use his good offices to mobilize the world community for cessation of hostilities and ensure no more casualties of innocent and helpless Palestinian people take place in Gaza.

The JKDYF leaders also condemned the role of US in supporting Israelis crimes in Palestine. Three billion dollars annually in US aid to Israel is paying for the weapons used to kill Palestinians.

Such attacks pose threat to regional peace and stability and it was the responsibility of world community to rise above, all their political considerations and ensure a long lasting peace in the region, JKDYF activists demanded.

The federation condemned police action on its activists and demanded immediate release of its leaders including advocate Baba, Mohd Afzal Parray, Javed Ahmad, Sabzar Ahmad and Fayaz Ahmad Khan.

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