Discussion in 'Subcontinent & Central Asia' started by sob, Oct 22, 2009.
Official: 160 girls poisoned at Afghan school - CNN.com
Did Kabul gunbattle change Afghans' view of their army?
Did Kabul gunbattle change Afghans' view of their army?
As Nato troops prepare to withdraw, the Afghan army and police have taken the lead in battling some of the most challenging insurgent attacks in recent months. As their role increases, they have won praise not only from Nato allies, but also from the wider public.
One of the most memorable images taken during the concerted insurgent attacks in Kabul on 15 April this year shows an Afghan police commando, wounded but walking.
He is holding a Kalashnikov rifle, his khaki trousers blood-stained above the right knee.
The picture has become the poster image for an apparent new wave of public support for the military which has found expression on the internet as well as in some parts of the media
Javier Manzano, a Mexican photojournalist based in Kabul, recently accompanied a joint four-day mission of US and Afghan army platoons on the Afghan-Pakistani border.
He was impressed by the Afghan soldiers. He says they move quickly as they have less ammunition and lighter packs, but there are drawbacks.
"The positives are it's their country, they can move fairly fast, they are used to walking and they are in pretty good shape," he says.
"The other side is that after the second or the third day they ask their American counterparts for water and rations."
Afghan National Army soldiers march during the graduation ceremony which marks the completion of nine weeks of training at the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC) in Kabul May 10, 2012. The security forces are set to grow to a total number of over 350,000 by 2015
A lack of equipment and short training times have long been concerns for the Afghan army.
But Javier Manzano, who also took pictures of the 15 April attacks in Kabul, says the force has done a good job.
"They performed really, really well, they got the job done and they were the ones that were wounded and received the casualties."
And he thinks that the outpouring of support in the wider public could be just as important as training and equipment.
"There were poems being made about the Afghan security forces and I think it is a great morale boost and that is what they need... if you feel that you get respect that will definitely boost morale and make them more efficient."
The question is whether the sentiments expressed on the internet are representative of wider public opinion.
The ranks of the security forces are supposed to grow to a total number of over 350,000 by 2015, according to the defence ministry.
As they take on an increasingly dominant role, the challenge will be to establish a force that represents everyone in a country that faces huge problems, from corruption to internal divisions
BBC News - Did Kabul gunbattle change Afghans' view of their army?
How the SAS freed hostages from Taliban caves Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world
How the SAS freed hostages from Taliban caves
NATO strikes deals with Central Asian nations for withdrawal of equipment from Afghan
NATO strikes deals with Central Asian nations for withdrawal of equipment from Afghanistan
BRUSSELS â€” NATO has concluded agreements with Central Asian nations allowing it to evacuate vehicles and other military equipment from Afghanistan and completely bypass Pakistan, which once provided the main supply route for coalition forces.
Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday that Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan had agreed to allow the reverse transport of alliance equipment. Since NATO already has an agreement with Russia, the deal will allow it to ship back to Europe tens of thousands of vehicles, containers and other items through the overland route when the evacuation picks up pace later this year.
Pakistan shut down the southern supply routes six months ago after U.S. airstrikes accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at two border posts, forcing NATO to switch almost completely to the so-called Northern Distribution Network.
After months of stalemate, Pakistani leaders last month signaled that negotiations on the supply routes were progressing, just in time to secure an invitation to the weekend NATO summit in Chicago. But since then the two sides have made little progress in the talks, officials said.
The announcement on Monday appears to indicate that Washington and the allies are now preparing for the possibility that the supply link through Pakistan, said to be about six times cheaper than its northern alternative, may not be reopened at all. It is also likely to put pressure on Pakistan to ease its negotiating stance, which has been stuck in part on how much money the U.S. and NATO should pay to transport the trucks through Pakistani territory.
NATO plans to hand over lead responsibility for the war against the Taliban to the Afghan army and police by the middle of next year, and withdraw its troops by the end of 2014. The alliance already has started drawing down its forces, which reached a peak of about 140,000 last year.
The Afghan security forces will have more than 350,000 members in the next few months. The international withdrawal is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014.
â€œThese agreements will give us a range of new options and the robust and flexible transport network we need,â€ Fogh Rasmussen told reporters.
He said the new deals would make â€œthe use of the Russian transit arrangements even more effective. â€œ
Moscow also has proposed allowing NATO to set up a logistics facility at the air base in Ulyanovsk, Russia, for troops and cargo heading in and out of Afghanistan.
Bon Voyage, America !!
Bon Voyage, America !!
The Chicago Summit sealed the withdrawal plan of the US/NATO/ISAF from Afghanistan. Although all present there tried to put up a very brave face yet it was obvious to all and sundry that the US/NATO/ISAF combine was leaving the Afghan Theater of War but hardly as victors! Victors in war have a different body language and a certain spring in their gait. None was apparent in Chicago and least of all in the Americans.
They appeared to be embittered, frustrated, irritated, agitated, angry, fuming, writhing in some sort of an internal agony. It came across as the pain of defeat, of failure. They seemed to be in too big a hurry to bring this colossal misadventure to a close, ASAP. And anyone, (read Pakistan) who was not playing ball or helping an orderly retreat from the region was unceremoniously and summarily snubbed and sidelined!
The Afghan campaign has been a resounding failure for the US and its coterie of submissive allies. Its failure has been epitomized by not only the whittling down of the Afghan campaign's strategic aims and objectives but also by an unseemly desire to egress from the region.
The failures of this sorry Afghan campaign are multifaceted.Geopolitical Failure: By occupying the Central position (Afghanistan) in the region the US had intended to contain China, sit at the under belly of the Central Asian Republics (CARs) and by implication Russia's and deny them all an approach to oil rich Iran, the ME, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. By its departure by 2014 these grand objectives will go even further beyond reach. The US has also failed to install India as its regional plenipotentiary in Afghanistan! The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation - SCO, will thus get enough breathing time and space to organize and exert itself as a viable and competing pole to the US in the region. This will reduce the US footprint and effectiveness in the region too with very far reaching geopolitical implications.
Geostrategic Failure: This has been by far the most pronounced failure of all. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have not been sufficiently decimated or neutralized to make them ineffective militant entities at the regional and international levels. Sure OBL has "ostensibly" been neutralized but that is yet subject to internationally and universally acceptable verification. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have not been successfully engaged in any sort of a political dialogue either to neutralize them. The terrorist threat though decimated is still a very potent reality (some elements may have re-located to the Arabian Peninsula) and the US/NATO/ISAF Combine will leave it as such as they abandon the region - once again! Elements like the Haqqani Network (HN) and the Tehrik -e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) will never allow a US backed political dispensation to settle down and rule Afghanistan from a central location like Kabul and will keep the region on the boil. Pakistan's and Iran's nuclear programmes will continue as active vibrant entities and may go beyond the reach of immediate and proactive US oversight. So what has the US actually achieved here in real terms!
Geo-economic Failure: With its departure from Afghanistan the US dominance of the fossil and mineral riches of the South Central Asian Region (SCAR) and the Greater Middle East Region (GMER) fades away effectively. The known mineral riches of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the CARs, Iran et al will all move out of hawkish US control and oversight. The US will not be able to exercise the desired final say on the mining, refinement, export, trade and price of all these mineral resources. The western multinationals will not be able to exploit these riches as they probably would have had the US shown more staying power and resolve in the region. The New Silk Road Project (NSRP) that would connect Europe-the SCAR right upto India may yet be inordinately delayed.
Diplomatic failure: The US has failed to deal with a "red-hot" Pakistan. It should have co-opted both Pakistan and Iran, the two major countries in the region and the only two with unmatchable influences inside Afghanistan, in order to achieve her strategic objectives. Instead she managed to antagonise both. Thus she has been unable to find willing regional allies to help her win the war. She has classically failed to co-opt Pakistan's experienced and highly professional military, use her unmatchable geographical location, or exploit Pakistan's influence inside Afghanistan on a long term basis and to her advantage. Neither has she been able to "befriend or engage" or "divide and eliminate" the Taliban and Al Qaeda. It has also failed to engage the Taliban in meaning-ful result oriented negotiations to bring this disastrous military faux pas to an early and acceptable closure. As of now of all the regional and near-regional players that matter only a "peripheral India" could be considered to be somewhat close to the US. Failed regional diplomacy, indeed!
Military failure: The heartless and cruel drone campaign had just too much "collateral damage" for the Pakistanis to absorb. More than 90% of the casualties were civilians. The US to this day remains adamant, unmoved and unrepentant. This in turn caused thousands to join the ranks of the militants thus proving to be a counter-productive strategy. The "Massacre at Salala" and its arrogant treatment by the US and its President alienated the US' most important and vital partner in Pakistan - the military. The lack of an apology ensured a breakdown in the military to military relations severely circumscribing overall US-Pak relations. The nadir in relations was reached by the blockade of NATO supply routes by Pakistan. Thus the US managed to antagonize one of the most potent and efficient fighting machines in the region- an erstwhile willing ally!
Intelligence failure: The US has claimed the death of OBL - but has not given any solid verifiable proof as in the cases of Saddam Hussain and Moamer Qadaffi. Why not? Even if we assume that OBL has been eliminated as the US claims but then does this mean that Al Qaeda as a viable militant organization too has ended? What about Al Zawahiri and Mullah Umar? If the US "knows" that they are in Pakistan then why does it not carry out another couple of Abbotabads to get them? Or why don't they give the information to the Pakistanis and challenge them to go get them. Or embarrass the ISI into action by giving out their locations? Most of the earlier intelligence successes against Al Qaeda were achieved through superb collaborative work between the CIA and the ISI. Unfortunately, US arrogance, haughtiness and self-righteousness caused the breakdown in what could have been an historical intelligence collaboration between the two. Raymond Davis has and Dr Shakil Afridi will severely test US-Pak relations.
The Obama Administrations Failure: This was epitomized by the "infighting" between the State Department on one side and the CIA and Pentagon on the other. This "war within" the Obama Administration caused a series of confused policy decisions which led to the alienation of Pakistan. Further the members of the US Congress put a series of unacceptable conditions on aid to Pakistan which led to a literal breakdown of communication between the two. The ruthless and arrogant manner in which President Obama snubbed President Zardari at Chicago has added to the anti-americanism sentiment in Pakistan. And now the pressure to "let free" Dr Shakil Afridi is going to test the relationship even further. This may yet tear the US-Pak relationship to bits and may even cause the downfall of President Zardari's Government!
Afghanistan is thus set to become the graveyard of yet another Empire - the US this time! The US seems to have been ill-served by its diplomats, soldiers and spies. The overall Afghan Campaign has failed to meet most of its geo-political/strategic/economic objectives. The US/NATO/ISAF Combine is now apparently marking time to get home. Their minds are made up, the schedules of departure need only to be made public. Pakistan needs to unblock the NATO supply routes to make the egress as easy as possible! She is likely to do so very soon.
Bon Voyage, America!!
Taliban ready for dialogue with Karzai if foreign troops leave - AJW by The Asahi Shimbun
KYOTO--A senior Taliban official, on a rare visit outside war-torn Afghanistan, disclosed here that the movement is prepared to work with the government in Kabul if foreign troops leave.
Equally rare was the interview granted by Shaikh Din Mohammad, a member of the Taliban's political office handling foreign affairs.
"We can have dialogue with him (President Hamid Karzai) as Afghans (on an equal footing) if foreign troops leave," Mohammad told The Asahi Shimbun on June 26. "As long as foreign troops remain, it is impossible to have any confidence, to have any dialogue, to have any negotiation with each party in the Karzai administration."
Mohammad, 48, held several key ministerial positions until the Taliban were ousted in 2001 after the U.S.-led forces invaded Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks against the United States.
Mohammad was visiting Japan to attend an international conference on reconciliation and peace-building in Afghanistan held by Doshisha Universityâ€™s Graduate School of Global Studies on June 27.
It is unprecedented for a Taliban senior official to sit at an international conference abroad.
His presence appears to reflect an effort by the Taliban to raise its profile in the global community, according to Masanori Naito, a professor of Islamic studies at the university.
"The Taliban apparently wants to increase its presence ahead of the International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan scheduled for July 8 in Tokyo," he said. "It may be also intending to move forward in talks with the United States toward a cease-fire."
The U.S. government was involved in behind-the-scenes contacts with the Taliban in Qatar to negotiate terms for cease-fire talks as part of efforts to transfer all security responsibilities to the Afghan government by the end of 2014.
However, the Taliban announced the suspension of those contacts in March.
Mohammad explained that the talks were suspended after the United States refused to accept the Taliban's conditions, including a prisoner swap.
He said the Taliban may reopen talks if the United States agreed to its conditions.
Mohammad also expressed opposition to the U.S. and Afghan government policy of maintaining a continued American troop presence beyond 2014 under the name of training the Afghan security forces and other support activities.
Regarding the Talibanâ€™s participation in a future Afghan government, Mohammad said, "We will join the economy, and join the politics for all the Afghan people. But if there is any American, a single one, we cannot join the government."
Asked about the rising death toll as a result of prolonged conflict, Mohammad said the Taliban will continue fighting.
"War is imposed upon us Afghans and we don't want any war," Mohammad said. "We are compelled to defend ourselves."
He also admitted that many civilians have been killed in suicide bombings, adding that war inevitably involves civilian casualties.
But Mohammad called for an investigation into the deaths of civilians by terrorism, saying the Taliban are not responsible for all the fatalities.
As for Mullah Omar, the overall commander of the Taliban who is being sought by the U.S. government for sheltering Osama bin Laden, Mohammad said, "He is in Afghanistan, safe."
Mohammad said he was dispatched to attend the conference in Kyoto as an official representative of the Taliban at Omar's express order and that the Taliban are ready to take part in any meetings and present its views.
Afghanistan bans Pakistani papers over "propaganda"
Afghanistan has banned all Pakistani newspapers over what security officials say is anti-government propaganda aimed at Kabul, an interior ministry spokesman said on Saturday, in a move likely to worsen already tense cross-border ties. Pakistani newspapers are usually filled with statements that the Afghan government does not properly represent its people and that its NATO-led allies are "occupying" the country, rather than offering security support, Ihsanuddin Taheri told Reuters.
full article link
REFILE-Afghanistan bans Pakistani papers over propaganda | Reuters
Chinaâ€™s Security Chief Makes Surprise Visit to Afghan Capital - Bloomberg
Top China official visits Afghanistan, signs security deal | Reuters
By Rob Taylor
KABUL | Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:11am EDT
Looks China is preparing to fill the vacuum after the pullout of NATO.
India also has strategic partnetship with AF.
Commander Says ISAF Will Comply With Karzaiâ€™s Air Support Ban | CNS News
Afghanistan's biggest-ever truck bomb defused in Kabul: spy agency
Kabul: Security forces in the Afghan capital have defused a truck bomb packed with nearly eight tonnes of explosives, the biggest of its kind discovered in the country, the spy agency said on Friday amid heightened security.
Intelligence forces discovered the explosives in eastern Kabul, wired and ready for detonation, security officials said. Five al-Qaeda linked Haqqani network insurgents were killed in a resulting firefight.
"This truck bomb could have destroyed an area around 1.5 km (in radius). Now can you imagine that what kind of catastrophe this would be?," Shafiqullah Tahiri, a spokesman for the National Directorate of Security, told a news conference.
It contained sodium chloride, ammonium nitrate, other chemicals and some diesel.
After more than 11 years of war, insurgents are still able to strike strategic military targets and launch high-profile attacks in Kabul and elsewhere.
The truck bomb was discovered on Wednesday two days after US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel left the capital.
On the first full day of Hagel's visit, a suicide bomber struck about a kilometre away from his morning meetings at a NATO facility.
Two Haqqani operatives were arrested during the night raid, and Tahiri said the militants had been planning to target a military facility in the capital. There are several foreign and Afghan military bases in Kabul, housing thousands of soldiers.
The Haqqani network is widely regarded as the most dangerous US foe in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is bracing for the start of the spring fighting season, and officials fear that militants will infiltrate the capital as the snow melts in the mountains to the east where they hide.
A number of insurgent groups, including the Taliban, the Haqqani network and Hizb-i-Islami, led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, are known to reside in restive Wardak province just 40 minutes drive from Kabul.Afghan officials told Reuters this week they were worried that the Afghan capital would be in danger after President Hamid Karzai ordered US special forces tasked with fighting the Taliban to leave Wardak.
US special forces are expected to play a major role after most NATO combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014, and Mr. Karzai's decision could complicate negotiations between the United States and Afghanistan over the scope of US operations after the pull-out.
International forces in Afghanistan have also been warned the that recent inflammatory remarks by Mr. Karzai have put them at risk, NATO commander General Joseph Dunford said in an email obtained by the New York Times this week.
Mr. Karzai accused the United States of colluding with the Taliban hours before the two met last Sunday. His remarks, which have been rejected by Washington, highlight an often tense relationship with the United States.
Afghanistan's biggest-ever truck bomb defused in Kabul: spy agency | NDTV.com
Fertilizer plants under Pakistani Army( ISI) should be monitored.
While ordinance factories are always under watch these factories escape attention.
Ammonium Nitrate can be easily produced in any of the fertilizer plants.
To stop Afghan bombs, a focus on Pakistani fertilizer - Washington Post
Afghanistan Seeks Array of Military Upgrades, Support
Afghanistan Seeks Array of Military Upgrades, Support | Defense News | defensenews.com
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