Posts Tagged ‘United States’

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Afghan Crunch Time: Obama Must Decide Whether To Talk To The Taliban

April 27, 2010

Ahmed Rashid

Before President Hamid Karzai arrives in Washington next month, President Obama has to make clear key decisions on the course of war and peacemaking in Afghanistan.

Neighboring countries and most Afghans believe that the endgame has begun for a post-U.S. Afghanistan. There are just 14 months for the U.S. military surge to show results while Washington simultaneously prepares to begin its July 2011 troop withdrawal and handover to the Afghan government. Already, efforts to jockey for future control of Afghanistan have been seen among Pakistan, India, Iran and even Russia. Several NATO countries eager to withdraw forces are frustrated. It is clear in the region that someone will have to mediate with the Taliban, but in the absence of U.S. leadership, a tug of war is taking place over who will do it, when, how and where.

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What Kayani Can Learn From Putin

April 27, 2010

Ahmed Quraishi

By allowing foreign militaries a free reign in our tribal belt to kill hundreds of innocent Pakistanis, Pakistan is committing the same mistake as Putin’s, who initially did well a decade ago by crushing the rebellion in Chechnya but now is creating more rebels because of highhandedness. Also, Pakistan has no business eliminating the Afghan Taliban, who survived the 2001 war thanks to US mismanagement. The problem should be solved inside Afghanistan, not Waziristan.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—It was brave on the part of Pakistan army chief to publicly apologize for mistakenly bombing and killing tens of innocent Pakistanis in a Khyber Agency village. In a similar incident in 2006 during the reign of his predecessor, where a US missile killed up to 80 children in a school, the action was not only defended but the Pakistani military was forced to own it, giving the first signal to everyone that innocent Pakistanis can be killed with impunity as part of the war on terror. Since then, more than a thousand innocent Pakistanis have lost their lives as collateral damage in these ‘successful’ drone attacks. This would remain one of the darkest spots in our history where our rulers shirked their responsibility for the protection of every Pakistani citizen on our soil.

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US Agents Detained Pakistanis In Peshawar Consulate

April 23, 2010

Syed Fawad Ali Shah

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan–Private US defense contractors held Pakistani and Afghan citizens kidnapped from Pakistani tribal territory inside the building of the US Consulate in Peshawar when it was attacked by armed men on April 5.

Immediately after the attack, US diplomats and employees in the consulate were shifted to the American-run Khyber Club in the University Town suburb of Peshawar. US military and intelligence personnel moved the detained Pakistanis and Afghans to Islamabad, either to the US Embassy building or to one of its several safe houses in the Pakistani capital.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The group has been attacking Chinese, Sri Lankan and Pakistani citizens during the past five years. This was a rare attack against US interests by the group.

Sources in several Pakistani security agencies in Peshawar knew of US activities and considered them part of US help to Pakistan to fight terrorists. But it is not clear if US personnel had the authority to nab Pakistani citizens or any other nationals on Pakistani soil.

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US Military Base Under Taliban Control

April 20, 2010

Elizabeth A. Kennedy

KABUL — Taliban fighters swarmed over a mountaintop base abandoned last week by the U.S. military following some of the toughest fighting of the Afghan war, according to footage aired Monday by a major satellite television station.

The video by Al-Jazeera is a morale booster for Taliban fighters, though the U.S. insists the decision to withdraw from the base in the Korengal Valley was sound and the area has no strategic value.

The footage showed armed men walking through the former U.S. base, which was strewn with litter and empty bottles, and sitting atop sandbagged gun positions overlooking the steep hillsides and craggy landscape. Fighters said they recovered fuel and ammunition. But a U.S. spokesman said ammunition had been evacuated and the fuel handed over to local residents.

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Taliban’s Supreme Leader Signals Willingness To Talk Peace

April 18, 2010

Stephen Grey

The supreme leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has indicated that he and his followers may be willing to hold peace talks with western politicians.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, two of the movement’s senior Islamic scholars have relayed a message from the Quetta shura, the Taliban’s ruling council, that Mullah Omar no longer aims to rule Afghanistan. They said he was prepared to engage in “sincere and honest” talks.

A senior US military source said the remarks reflected a growing belief that a “breakthrough” was possible. “There is evidence from many intelligence sources [that] the Taliban are ready for some kind of peace process,” the source said.

At a meeting held at night deep inside Taliban-controlled territory, the Taliban leaders told this newspaper that their military campaign had only three objectives: the return of sharia (Islamic law), the expulsion of foreigners and the restoration of security.

“[Mullah Omar] is no longer interested in being involved in politics or government,” said Mullah “Abdul Rashid”, the elder of the two commanders, who used a pseudonym to protect his identity.

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Can Afghanistan President Karzai and Obama still work together?

April 18, 2010

Ben Arnoldy

Angry words lately between Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and the administration of Barack Obama have raised questions about whether they can work together to stabilize the war torn country.

The relationship between Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and President Barack Obama has come to resemble a loveless marriage succumbing to the strain of keeping up public appearances.

An imminent split seems unlikely. The US remains Afghanistan’s chief international backer and the Obama administration’s ambitious plan to transform the war-torn country needs Mr. Karzai if it’s going to succeed.

But the angry words tossed between Kabul and Washington lately have amply demonstrated the strain between a US administration that says it is committed to political reform in Afghanistan and an Afghan leader empowered by an election widely thought to have been marred by fraud.

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Why Pakistan’s Military Is Holding Back in North Waziristan

April 17, 2010

Rania Abouzeid

It took just a few months for the Pakistani military to clear the Swat Valley’s lush, mountainous tribal terrain of its Taliban usurpers last summer, using some 30,000 troops to dislodge the guerrillas from the once-bustling tourist haven, 80 miles northwest of the capital Islamabad. Now, however, almost a year after winning the war, the same number of troops are still in place in order to hold Swat, rebuild it and prevent a Taliban resurgence — and that may keep Islamabad from going after the extremists in other parts of Pakistan’s unruly frontier with Afghanistan.

The U.S. has often appealed to Pakistan to do just that, specifically against elements in North Waziristan. More than 200 miles south of Swat, the tribal territory is a base for militants targeting U.S. troops just across the border in Afghanistan; it is also believed to be a refuge for senior al-Qaeda leaders. Yet the Pakistani military has refused to go into North Waziristan because it says its forces are already stretched thin (the bulk of the country’s troops are stationed along the eastern border with India, the nation Islamabad still considers its primary foe).

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