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Pakistani diplomacy – a tour de force

May 28, 2011 1 comment
Cartoon by Jerry Holbert; Courtesy - caveviews.blogs.com. Click for larger image.

Cartoon by Jerry Holbert; Courtesy - caveviews.blogs.com. Click for larger image.

Without Comment

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled halfway around the world Friday for several hours of meetings with Pakistani leaders. Clinton’s brief visit — she arrived just after breakfast and was headed home by early afternoon — was part of the Obama administration’s efforts in recent weeks to leverage bin Laden’s killing during a secret raid by U.S. commandos into closer ties with Pakistan, rather than risk it finally severing the always-fragile partnership.

Administration officials also said they listened to Pakistan’s complaints about the slow delivery of promised military assistance and its desire for other forms of assistance that “they can show as proof of this relationship” to the Pakistani public. “We committed to look at that,” one official said.

Responding to recent reports that Pakistan has tried to solidify its ties with China and other traditional friends as a hedge against troubles with the United States, Clinton said that Americans provide Pakistan with “more support than Saudi Arabia, China and everybody else combined. . . . I’m not sure many Pakistanis know that.”

It was far from the first time the United States has announced an attempted reset. But administration officials traveling with Clinton said that the seriousness of the current crisis had forced both sides to confront the possible consequences of an irreconcilable breach and that the talks were marked by a new level of frankness.

After her news conference at the U.S. Embassy, she was whisked back to her plane and gone before most Pakistanis were even aware she was here.(via Clinton visits Pakistan to firm up new ties – The Washington Post; parts excised /reordered for brevity and continuity).

Cartoon By Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle From the Cartoonist Group; Courtesy - americanprogress.org. Click for larger image.

Cartoon By Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle From the Cartoonist Group; Courtesy - americanprogress.org. Click for larger image.

She expressed Washington’s “strong commitment” to relations with Pakistan. Mrs Clinton said that the US had “absolutely no evidence that anyone at the highest level of the Pakistani government” knew where Bin Laden was and said she would return to Washington “ever more committed” to the relationship. In what correspondents say was perhaps an attempt to smooth ruffled Pakistani feathers over the killing, Mrs Clinton acknowledged the ”sacrifices made every single day by the men and women Pakistan’s military and its citizens”.

Mrs Clinton was accompanied on her visit by the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm Mike Mullen. The pair held meetings with senior Pakistani politicians and army officers to plead for greater co-operation in the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Having all of Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership in one room was unusual, perhaps an effort to get them talking to each other more.

It is the first such high-level visit to Pakistan since the killing of Bin Laden on 2 May. (via BBC News – Clinton exonerates Pakistan over Osama Bin Laden; parts excised /reordered for brevity and continuity).

Taliban and Pakistan Nukes; Cartoon by Mike Keefe; 04/25/2009 (Ref Num:69801); Courtesy - intoon.com. Click forlarger image.

Taliban and Pakistan Nukes; Cartoon by Mike Keefe; 04/25/2009 (Ref Num:69801); Courtesy - intoon.com. Click forlarger image.

Pakistan is preparing for further deterioration, building its non-U.S. alliances and options. For Pakistanis, the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden was a vivid demonstration that America does not respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The presence of American drones flying into Pakistan’s airspace underscores this all the time. For Americans, the fact that bin Laden was hiding for years in a major Pakistani garrison town surrounded by Pakistani army cantonments and retired officers’ homes confirmed the U.S. view that the country engages in a complex double game of patronizing some terrorists while fighting others. Both sides are right about the other.

Pakistan has seen the United States cut off aid many ties before in the last half century. It knows Washington is capricious. So it is strengthening its alternatives east and west. China is Pakistan’s reliable “all weather” ally. Both Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders travel often to Beijing to ensure close cooperation. Chinese engineers are building highways to link Tibet to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are key Muslim allies to the west. Pakistan has been the kingdom’s largest recipient of aid for decades and Saudi Prince Bandar just visited Islamabad to secure promises of Pakistani troops if the Arab Spring threatens to erupt in the gulf monarchies. A battalion of Pakistani troops is in Bahrain backing up the Saudi and Emirati forces that intervened there this year to crush the Shia protest movement.(via America’s Menacing Pakistan Problem – Brookings Institution; parts excised /reordered for brevity and continuity).

Abbottabad does not quite add up

May 11, 2011 2 comments
The difference between 'civilized' West and 'barbaric' Islamic world. (Cartoon by John Cole; courtesy - caglecartoons.com). Click for original image.

The difference between 'civilized' West and 'barbaric' Islamic world. (Cartoon by John Cole; courtesy - caglecartoons.com). Click for original image.

Things go bump in the night

In the early hours of 2nd May, 2011, an obscure twitter-user started tweeting  about the US raid on Osama Bin Laden’s safe-house – 35 km from Islamabad, 200 miles south of the Afghanistan border, in Abbottabad. In a city, which houses Pakistan’s equivalent of Indian Military Academy.

But Pakistan’s police, para-military, military forces claimed ignorance, showed surprise, feigned outrage. Par for the course. Was it abject failure or a cover-up in Pakistan , by the powers-that-be?

US triumphalism is misplaced. But then Osama's death will surely get Obama many votes. (Cartoon courtesy - http://jeffreyhill.typepad.com). Click for larger image.

US triumphalism is misplaced. But then Osama's death will surely get Obama many votes. (Cartoon courtesy - http://jeffreyhill.typepad.com). Click for larger image.

Afraid of the mullah-madrasa-mujahid combine, predictably, Pakistan started denying any role in the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Truly Pakistan ‘doth protest too much, methinks’. Secret deal or not, in the past or post-facto, a deal around killing Osama could have been easily hammered out between Pakistan and USA.

It suited both the leaderships.

It is election time in USA

Pakistan was not alone in using Osama. Osama alive was source of US funds for Pakistan. Osama dead is an election ticket and a feel-good factor for the a USA being battered by the Great Recession. As Rajiv Dogra points out, on the opposite side of the world,

The timing suited Obama well. It had long been speculated that Osama would be killed around the time Obama’s re-election campaign kicked off.

Predictably, the US made a song-and-dance about the annual aid of US$3 billion that they dole out to Pakistan. Compared to the US$3 trillion that the US Department of Defence is unable to account for, this talk of US$3 billion makes for poor form.

Pakistan's soldiers patrolling the tribal area of Ditta Kheil in North Waziristan for militants and al-Qaida activists in March.| Photograph by Mohammad Iqbal/Associated Press | Picture courtesy nytimes.com /Click for original image.

Pakistan's soldiers patrolling the tribal area of Ditta Kheil in North Waziristan for militants and al-Qaida activists in March.| Photograph by Mohammad Iqbal/Associated Press | Picture courtesy nytimes.com /Click for original image.

On a lighter – and logical side

Famous for the song केम छे ‘kem che, kem che’ from the film जिस देश में गंगा रहता है Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rahta Hain, a Bollywood songwriter confidently predicted, soon after 9/11, that Bin Laden would be found near the White House or Islamabad!

Coming to India

Memories dimmed, history forgotten, India draws wrong conclusions from these Western adventures in our neighbourhood.

After WWII, as British, French and Dutch colonialists were being thrown out of Asia, in country after country, the West was in real danger of losing markets and raw material sources.

To make war palatable, Desert Bloc invented religion. (Image  source - loonpond.com; artist attribution not available at image  source)

To make war palatable, Desert Bloc invented religion. (Image source - http://loonpond.blogspot.com; artist attribution not available at image source).

A new power, fueled by a growing migrant population, USA, took the place of tired, old powers – Britain, France and the Dutch. Instead of the openly exploitative system of European powers directly running colonial governments in these Asian countries, the US installed an opaque system – which is equally exploitative. To impose its writ on the newly independent Asian countries, the US simply destroyed their  economies by war. The USA, then instituted the innovative USCAP Program and ‘helped’ these countries. These countries (Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, et al) were now ruled by overtly independent regimes – but covertly, client states of the USA.

US multinationals and home-grown oligarchs (keiretsus, chaebols, etc.) took over the economy – and sidelined British, French and Dutch companies. To impose this economic model, US armies, using nearly 1 million troops, killed 50 lakh Asians. The takeover of European colonial possessions by the USA was handled over 3 regimes of Eisenhower-Kennedy-Johnson seamlessly.

Between a rampant USA, behind biggest terror spots of the world, and a nuclear-armed, imploding Pakistan, India’s choices are difficult – and reactive policies inadequate.

Once more, Osama’s death and Obama’s antics bring out India’s policy inadequacy in sharp relief.

26/11 – The Maldives connection

January 11, 2011 2 comments

Is it true that the Maldives is looking for radars from India to improve its coastal security?
Yes, we would like to safeguard our fishing grounds and prevent terrorist attacks.
Meaning?
Any terrorist attack through the underbelly of India, that is peninsular India, would have to go through Maldivian waters. We will be the first to see what is happening. For example, if we had this equipment, we would have been much more vigilant about what was going to happen in the Mumbai attacks…that is why it is essential to safeguard Maldives’ territorial waters and defend our coastline.
Is it true that the Maldives has a serious issue with Islamic fundamentalists?
Yes, we have a serious issue with Islamist radicals, we know that many are being trained by the Al Qaeda in the northern reaches of Pakistan.
How do you know?
Because several Maldivians have been arrested by Pakistani authorities after they crossed into Pakistan from India. The recruitment of Islamist radicals takes place in the Maldives and their channel of movement is all the way up to Pakistan.
Are you saying that the Maldivians are being trained by the Al Qaeda in Pakistan, in Waziristan?
Yes, they are getting trained there by the Al Qaeda to fight the war in Afghanistan.
You talked about the Mumbai attacks and of being more vigilant about your territorial waters…what did you mean by that?
I believe that the identity of all the dead terrorists in the Mumbai attacks has not been broken down into nationalities. I feel there is a Maldivian connection to the Mumbai attacks.
In what way?
Well, we have information from the families of terrorists who are still in the Maldives about this. (‘There is a Maldivian link to 26/11’; Q&A: Mohamed Nasheed, the president of the Maldives
Jyoti Malhotra / New Delhi October 25, 2009, 0:00 IST http://is.gd/kpoeO)

Another story some 15 months later.

a Maldivian connection to the Mumbai attack. One, possibly two, of the ten terrorists who spew mayhem was from the Maldives. In its zeal to nail Pakistan, did India ignore leads on the mysterious Maldivian.

Forty-eight hours before 26/11, a family in the Maldives got a phone call. A familiar voice said, “I have good news for you.” It was their son, calling from Pakistan. He said he was “bound for heaven… in two days’ time.”
The full import of his words did not dawn on the family then. But they got a vague scent of his looming participation in something sinister—which turned out to be the terror attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. The family later claimed that he was among the nine slain terrorists.
Investigations by THE WEEK revealed that the claim had made the Maldivian government institute an “in-house” investigation. But the probe hit a stonewall thanks to India’s lack of interest in exploring any latent Maldivian links in 26/11 (This report by Anupam Dasgupta, Principal Correspondent appears in the issue of THE WEEK; Jan. 16 – http://is.gd/kpolF )

Indian foreign policy, a hostage to the The Pakistan Fixation, cannot see a problem, after they are told. Mohammed Nasheed gave this interview last year.

Our Man In Pakistan

October 31, 2008 3 comments
Is USA the cause, the solution or the victim (Cartoonist -  Joel Pett).

Is USA the cause, the solution or the victim (Cartoonist - Joel Pett).

State of the Union

Pakistan is actually 5 parts. First is the army and the ISI combination. Then there are the popular politicians who participate in elections. Add the mullah-madrasa-mujahhid combine with a fundamentalist clergy, various terrorist groups – like JeM, LeT, Al Qaida, various Taliban factions et al make up the third.

The fourth part are the 22 families that control the economy and wealth of Pakistan. Mahbub-ul-Haq’s “22 families” speech in Karachi in 1968 highlighted the power and wealth of a few families in Pakistan.

And bringing up the rear there are the rest. No one in Pakistan talks to anyone. Each has contempt for the other four. And all five have separate agenda.

The benefits of being an American ally (Cartoon by Peter Brookes published by The Times.).

The benefits of being an American ally (Cartoon by Peter Brookes published by The Times.).

During this economic crisis

“In the last two decades Mahbub ul Haq has arguably had a greater impact than anyone else on the lives of the world’s poor … it is the Pakistani economist who, by pioneering the human development revolution, has managed to change both thinking and practice.”

In a famous speech he said,“In the next two decades, almost 90 per cent of the additional population will be born in the Third World….it is a matter of power because that is where the markets are going to be….The real problem has been that the world has moved very fast towards interdependence because of technological revolution, without discovering the institutions of interdependence. Three institutions — an international central bank, a system of international taxation…, and global management of scarce resources of the world (including oceanbeds) will simply have to emerge.” He had clearly anticipated four major challenges of our times — the importance of emerging markets, globalisation and its discontents, sustainable development and the current global economic turmoil in the absence of an effective international economic order …

A landmark in his intellectual life was the “22 families” speech he gave in Karachi in 1968 which highlighted the power and wealth of a few families. It was a summery (sic) indictment of the government from within. (via Putting people before GNP Subir Roy / New Delhi October 31, 2008, 0:58 IST).

He died in 1998. And we are still to do something about the ideas this man left us with. And these observations are true for India as well. He was, our man – in Pakistan.

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