Posts Tagged ‘ US Army ’

Indian Chronicles and the Fifth Generation Warfare

As reported By Nayab Fareed for Safety & Security Today Pakistan. WWW.SSToday.com.pk originally on 1/27/21

#Narendra #Modi, Prime Minister of #India

Is Pakistan grappling with the fifth generation warfare? The question has long been scoffed at by the who’s who of Pakistani intelligentsia. For the longest time, these warnings have been dubbed as fear and paranoia promulgated by the Pakistani militablishment to squash dissent.

The state’s efforts against the threats of an unprecedented kind have time and again been discredited with little to no heed paid. However, the recent investigation carried out by the EU DinsfoLab, an independent Europe based organization, has made some startling revelations about the threat Pakistan faces; thus, vindicating our decade long fears. Let’s first attempt to understand the nature of fifth generation warfare before scrutinizing the report’s findings.

As the US Army Major Shannon Beebe once put it “fifth generation is a vortex of violence, a free-for-all of surprise destruction motivated more by frustration than by any coherent plans for the future.” The strategy of fifth generation does not revolve around direct armed confrontation, it rather employs social, economic and psychological tactics to impose mayhem. It employs non-uniformed atypical warriors who exploit fault lines of a state using terrorism, propaganda, religion, and public grievances to wage wars against the state’s institutions. Waged from within and abetted from outside, Audreas Turunen elucidates fifth generation as a cultural and moral war, which distorts the perception of the masses to give a manipulated view of the world and politics.

Non-state actors, more importantly, media which in recent past has emerged as the most powerful medium with widespread influence, has a crucial role to play in shaping perceptions. Unfortunately for Pakistan, the media has shown extreme irresponsibility in identifying and acting as the first line of defense against the propaganda. To an extent, segments of Pakistani media have also played into the hands of the enemy.

While Pakistani media failed to acknowledge the brazen disinformation plastered all over media and shrugged off the warnings mockingly, the Indian media, often dubbed as an important pillar of the world’s largest democracy, incessantly reposted and amplified the odious anti-Pakistan propaganda from fake media outlets, abetting the Indian state in its massive disinformation campaign.

The executive director of EU DisinfoLab claims that it was by far the “largest network the organization had exposed”. Indian Chronicles investigation uncovered more than 700 fake media outlets covering 116 countries, operating under dubious news agencies called “Big News Network” and “World News Network” both showing opaque ties to the Indian based conglomerate Srivastava Group. It was found that some of the most prominent Indian media agencies, such as ANI, ABP group, Zee, Republic News and Yahoo India reproduced and recirculated anti-Pakistan and, in few cases, anti-China rhetoric initially posted on the sham news websites.

More than 400 domain names were bought through Mr. Srivastava’s private email to register these websites. The articles and op-eds posted on them were often exaggerated, reworded and mainly used for the purpose of discrediting and reproducing negative iterations about Pakistan which were then repackaged by the Indian media for the consumption of millions of Indians at home and abroad, while also attempting to give legitimacy and credibility to the disinformation network.

Considering this sly process of layering, recycling and republishing of fake news from one source to another, the term ‘Fake News Laundering’ to put it mildly won’t be too far off.

If these findings are not staggering enough, this is where it begins to get increasingly malicious. The investigation also found that the campaign used not only fake media outlets to grow influence and taint India’s adversaries’ image, but also revived more than 10 defunct NGOs accredited by the UN for the same purpose.

One such example that has stood out the most for a variety of reasons is the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace (CSOP) that had been an inactive organization since the 1970s and was suddenly revived in 2005.

Not only did the organization come alive, it turns out the former chairman of CSOP, Professor Louis B Sohn, miraculously participated at the UNHRC session “Friends of Gilgit” in 2007 and attended another event in 2011, all while being deceased since 2006. CSOP, like the rest of these Zombie organizations, led a very different life from the first one. Once revived, the original purpose of their genesis completely changed from the environment, peace, education & even canned foods to furthering Indian interests.

These UN accredited NGOs also work in coordination with the non-accredited think tanks and NGOs based in Brussels, Geneva that were repeatedly given the floor at the UN on behalf of accredited NGOs. Amsterdam based think-tank called the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) for instance, was given the floor at the UNHRC’s 40th session in 2019 on behalf of the hijacked UN accredited organization United schools international (USI) which was then used to attack Pakistan.

The investigation noted that several of these think-tanks and NGOs including Baluchistan house, European organization for Pakistani minorities, South Asian democratic forum, World Baloch Women’s Forum, Gilgit Baltistan Studies, Baloch Human Rights Council (BHRC), Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) have been given the UN floor via the accredited NGOs that have shown direct links with the Srivastava group. These propaganda Think-tanks and NGOs also used Pakistani dissidents such as Mehran Marri and the SAATH forum led by Hussain Haqqani to undermine Pakistan at Geneva on several instances.

Not only were the accredited NGOs misappropriated, but many of the speakers at UN were also misrepresented by the Indian media, primarily ANI.

Identity theft is another modus operandi where several editors, journalists’ identities were made-up, non-existent addresses and fake phone numbers were used to register websites, media outlets were impersonated and former members of defunct NGOs appeared at events they had no knowledge about. Right-wing MEPs, including former diplomat Hussain Haqqani, were given space on fake media outlets such as the ‘EU Chronicles’ & ‘Time of Geneva’ for exclusive Op-eds against Pakistan.

This opportunity served as a honeypot for the MEPs as they were invited on free trips to Maldives, Bangladesh and more recently Kashmir which was falsely reported by the Indian media as the official EU delegation.

The purpose of this modus operandi was to fake or misappropriate the reputation and status enjoyed by the original source in order to avoid radar and gain credibility in the reader’s view.

The operation does seem to have been a success considering how easily it exploited and abused UN’s loopholes and hijacked its organizations for more than a decade going completely unnoticed.

This also raises many questions, most importantly; why has UN as an independent global entity overlooked the dubious activities of its own NGOs for so long? How was India capable of carrying out a pronounced campaign against its adversaries right under the UN’s nose for 15 years without raising any alarm? And why has India exhausted its resources and time to carry out a decade long disinformation campaign against its rivals rather than seeking dialogue through diplomatic channels? India’s Chanakyan schemes only reaffirm its position as a regional bully who can go to all lengths to bring devastation of colossal degrees in a nuclear zone.

Pakistan is evidently being targeted by its neighbor due to the decades old unresolved conflicts, mainly Kashmir, as well as the constantly evolving regional dynamics making it almost impossible for both nations to pursue common interests.

Indian quest for regional hegemony coupled with its conflict with China makes Pakistan all the more vulnerable to chaos, making its nuclear might the only deterrence for the enemy.

Despite these appalling findings, the EU DisinfoLab suggests there’s much more yet to be uncovered implying that the report is just the tip of the iceberg which makes one wonder how massive the scale of this network really is.

Today, the fifth generation warfare is a concrete threat that the states are finally beginning to acknowledge and understand.

It is in fact not a boogeyman created by the state to scare the dissidents into submission; on the contrary, it is a bitter reality capable of threatening our very existence.

Unfortunately, the genuine grievances of Pakistani minorities have been exploited for sinister purposes, enemy has utilized divisive politics and fault lines to plant and agitate subversive elements to cause discord. However, amid the unrest, an opportunity has presented itself for Pakistan to correct course.

The state must address the grievances of those aggrieved while also dealing with the miscreants who threaten the states sovereignty at the behest of enemy with an iron fist. It’s time to separate truth from falsehood and make matters more transparent in order to gain trust of the populace.

Additionally, Pakistan must focus on improving its soft power in order to dismantle bogus campaigns by its rivals; the present government seems to be making efforts in the right direction but a lot more needs to be done to counter propaganda with facts. The matter must be raised on international forums highlighting India’s nefarious designs which could lead to dangerous consequences if not addressed promptly.

Half-baked truths, manipulation and deception may serve a petty purpose temporarily but will result in devastating consequences in the long run.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, tricks and treachery are practice of fools, that don’t have brains enough to be honest.

In Sign of Normalization, Pentagon to Reimburse Pakistan $688 Million

By ERIC SCHMITT and DAVID E. SANGER for The New York Times

Kerry Panetta

The Pentagon quietly notified Congress this month that it would reimburse Pakistan nearly $700 million for the cost of stationing 140,000 troops on the border with Afghanistan, an effort to normalize support for the Pakistani military after nearly two years of crises and mutual retaliation.

The biggest proponent of putting foreign aid and military reimbursements to Pakistan on a steady footing is the man President Barack Obama is leaning toward naming as secretary of state: Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts. Mr. Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has frequently served as an envoy to Pakistan, including after the killing of Osama bin Laden, and was a co-author of a law that authorized five years and about $7.5 billion of nonmilitary assistance to Pakistan.

The United States also provides about $2 billion in annual security assistance, roughly half of which goes to reimburse Pakistan for conducting military operations to fight terrorism.

Until now, many of these reimbursements, called coalition support funds, have been held up, in part because of disputes with Pakistan over the Bin Laden raid, the operations of the C.I.A., and its decision to block supply lines into Afghanistan last year.

The $688 million payment — the first since this summer, covering food, ammunition and other expenses from June through November 2011 — has caused barely a ripple of protest since it was sent to Capitol Hill on Dec. 7.

The absence of a reaction, American and Pakistani officials say, underscores how relations between the two countries have been gradually thawing since Pakistan reopened the NATO supply routes in July after an apology from the Obama administration for an errant American airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011.

Mr. Kerry’s nomination would be welcomed in Pakistan, where he is seen as perhaps the most sympathetic to Pakistani concerns of any senior lawmaker. He has nurtured relationships with top civilian and military officials, as well as the I.S.I., Pakistan’s most powerful intelligence agency.

But if he becomes secretary of state, Mr. Kerry will inherit one of the hardest diplomatic tasks in South Asia: helping Pakistan find a role in steering Afghanistan toward a political agreement with the Taliban. As the United States, which tried and failed to broker such an agreement, begins to step back, Pakistan’s role is increasing.

For a relationship rocked in the past two years by a C.I.A. contractor’s shooting of two Pakistanis, the Navy SEAL raid that killed Bin Laden and the accidental airstrike, perhaps the most remarkable event in recent months has been relative calm. A senior American official dealing with Pakistan said recently that “this is the longest we’ve gone in a while without a crisis.”

Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, said, “Pakistan-United States relations are settling down to a more stable trajectory.”

The interlude has allowed the United States to reduce the huge backlog of NATO supplies at the border — down to about 3,000 containers from 7,000 when the border crossings reopened — and to conduct dry runs for the tons of equipment that will flow out of Afghanistan to Pakistani ports when the American drawdown steps up early next year.

Moreover, the two sides have resumed a series of high-level meetings — capped by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s meeting this month with top Pakistani officials in Brussels — on a range of topics including counterterrorism, economic cooperation, energy and the security of Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal.

Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to Washington, concurred. “There’s greater convergence between the two countries than there has been in eight years,” she said. “It’s been a fairly quick kiss and make up, but it’s been driven by the approaching urgency of 2014, and by their shared desire for a stable outcome in the region.”

The one exception to the state of calm has been a tense set of discussions about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. United States officials have told their Pakistani colleagues that Islamabad’s move to smaller, more portable weapons creates a greater risk that one could be stolen or diverted. A delegation of American nuclear experts was in Pakistan last week, but found that the two countries had fundamentally divergent views about whether Pakistan’s changes to its arsenal pose a danger.

The greatest progress, officials say, has been in the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan, after years of mutual recrimination. A high-level Afghan delegation visited Pakistan in November, resulting in the release of several midlevel Taliban commanders from Pakistani jails as a sign of good will in restarting the peace process.

The United States, which was quietly in the background of those meetings, approved of the release of the prisoners, but has still held back on releasing five militants from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a key Taliban demand.

One American official said there was a “big push” to move the talks process forward during the current winter lull in fighting. The United States is quietly seeking to revive a peace channel in Qatar, which was frozen earlier this year after the Taliban refused to participate.

Despite the easing of tensions in recent months, there are still plenty of sore spots in the relationship.

Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero, who heads the Pentagon agency responsible for combating roadside bombs, known as improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, told a Senate hearing last week that Pakistan’s efforts to stem the flow of a common agricultural fertilizer, calcium ammonium nitrate, that Taliban insurgents use to make roadside bombs had fallen woefully short.

“Our Pakistani partners can and must do more,” General Barbero told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing.

American officials have also all but given up on Pakistan’s carrying out a clearing operation in North Waziristan, a major militant safe haven.

“Pakistan’s continued acceptance of sanctuaries for Afghan-focused insurgents and failure to interdict I.E.D. materials and components continue to undermine the security of Afghanistan and pose an enduring threat to U.S., coalition and Afghan forces,” a Pentagon report, mandated by Congress, concluded last week.

Declan Walsh contributed reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan.

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s Note– Kerry for Secretary is a great choice now that Susan Rice did not work out. We love Hillary Clinton and as a Democrat and Liberal through and through, as much as we wish Secretary Clinton a speedy recovery and look forward to voting for her as the first woman President of the United States, it is high time to have a man in there as a Secretary working together with Secretary Panetta. John Kerry is a good and honorable soldier who is a patriot and will uphold American interests but will be a person who is very familiar with Pakistan and the need to have a dialogue with the men who man the barracks in Rawalpindi, regardless who happens to be the Prime Minister in Islamabad. We hope he has a speedy confirmation and no obstructionism by the Do Nothing GOP~

The End of a Geopolitical Affair

By Pramit Pal Chaudhri for The Hindustan Times

In Pakistan’s current crisis, why is its military is so reluctant to consider simply seizing power? One reason is that General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani cannot count on the US looking the other way. At a minimum, Washington would have to slap sanctions on an economically faltering country. At a maximum, it would be the last straw in a bilateral relationship at its lowest ebb since it was first woven in the 1950s.

Pakistan’s establishment claims it has been used and abused by the US, the most serious violation being that country’s stealth attack on Abbottabad that led to Osama bin Laden’s death. There has been the Raymond Davies affair, the endless drone attacks and the increasingly public accusation of double-dealing by senior US officials – the most notable being Admiral Mike Mullen’s linking of the Inter-Services Intelligence with terrorist groups.

There is some satisfaction for India in all this. It has been persistently claiming the existence of a military-terrorist nexus. Many in Washington agree. After Abbottabad, there is no one in Washington who doesn’t. The US-Pakistan relationship, says Daniel Twining of the German Marshall Fund, “was really at a historic high for the past decade but is diminishing.” But it might not matter as much to the US if relations fall apart, he says.

Other events are undermining the basis of the US-Pakistani bond. Islamabad had expected the US to totally retreat from Afghanistan, leaving Pakistan’s Taliban allies in charge. Instead, the US will leave a substantial force behind along with many drone bases. The US is talking with the Taliban, but only desultorily with groups that Islamabad patronises.

With the US Congress also pulling the plug on aid to Pakistan, what is left? The answer is nukes. “If Pakistan didn’t have nuclear weapons, with Al Qaeda almost gone, no one would care a fig about that country,” said one ex-US ambassador to the region. As they realise this, Islamabad is getting more paranoid about the security of its “strategic assets.” The more unstable they look, the more willing the US will be to try and do something risky to salvage Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

US officials are talking about a “new normal” in their Pakistan relations. This would cut ties to the bare bones: counterterrorism cooperation, limited military transit requirements, Afghan talks, narcotics and some humanitarian assistance. “We’ll have to work with the Pakistan military on a limited basis while negotiations with the Taliban proceed,” says John Schlosser, a former state department South Asia hand.

There seems to be no real understanding among Pakistanis that their leverage is dwindling or how much Abbottabad vapourised their credibility in the US. A parliamentary committee report on how to change the US relationship bizarrely demanded, for example, a civilian nuclear agreement.

It could get worse. “The relationship will fall further if the US finds [Al Qaeda chief] Zawahiri in Pakistan. Or there are terror strikes on India or the US,” says Bruce Riedel, former AfPak advisor to Barack Obama.

The worst thing is that Washington is decoupling just at a time when Pakistan, economically and otherwise, can least afford to lose their most generous international partner.

Pakistani Taliban Splintering Into Factions

By Kathy Gannon for The Associated Press

Battered by Pakistani military operations and U.S. drone strikes, the once-formidable Pakistani Taliban has splintered into more than 100 smaller factions, weakened and running short of cash, according to security officials, analysts and tribesmen from the insurgent heartland.

The group, allied with al Qaeda and based in northwest Pakistan close to the Afghan border, has been behind much of the violence tearing apart Pakistan over the last 4½ years. Known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban, or TTP, the Taliban want to oust the U.S.-backed government and install a hard-line Islamist regime. They also have international ambitions and trained the Pakistani-American who tried to detonate a car bomb in New York’s Times Square in 2010.

“Today, the command structure of the TTP is splintered, weak and divided, and they are running out of money,” said Mansur Mahsud, a senior researcher at the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area) Research Center. “In the bigger picture, this helps the army and the government because the Taliban are now divided.”

The first signs of cracks within the Pakistani Taliban appeared after its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a drone strike in August 2009, Mr. Mahsud said. Since then, the group has deteriorated steadily.

Set up in 2007, the Pakistani Taliban is an umbrella organization created to represent roughly 40 insurgent groups in the tribal belt plus al-Qaeda-linked groups headquartered in Pakistan‘s eastern Punjab province.

“In the different areas, leaders are making their own peace talks with the government,” Mr. Mahsud added. “It could help the Pakistani government and military separate more leaders from the TTP and more foot soldiers from their commanders.”

The two biggest factors hammering away at the Taliban’s unity are U.S. drone strikes and Pakistani army operations in the tribal region.

Turf wars have flared as militants fleeing the Pakistani military operations have moved into territory controlled by other militants, sometimes sparking clashes between groups. And as leaders have been killed either by drones or the Pakistani army, lieutenants have fought among themselves over who will replace them.

“The disintegration … has accelerated with the Pakistan military operation in South Waziristan and the drone attacks by the United States in North Waziristan,” Mr. Mahsud said, referring to the two tribal agencies that are the heartland of the Pakistani Taliban.

Another factor is the divide-and-conquer strategy that Pakistan‘s military long has employed in its dealings with militants. Commanders have broken away from the TTP and set up their own factions, weakening the organization. Battles have broken out among the breakaway factions, and in one particularly remote tribal region the TTP was thrown out. These growing signs of fissures among the disparate groups that make up the Pakistani Taliban indicate the military’s strategy could be paying off.

That would explain the mixed signals this month coming out of the tribal belt, where some militants are mulling the idea of peace talks with the government, others are offering to stop fighting, and still others are disavowing both peace and a cease-fire. It might also explain a steady decline in suicide attacks in Pakistan, according to the privately run Pak Institute for Peace Studies.

The U.S. is eager to see some benefits in neighboring Afghanistan, where its troops have come under attack from militants based across the border in Pakistan. NATO forces in Afghanistan are trying to break the back of the Afghan insurgency before the end of the U.S.-led coalition’s combat mission in 2014.

There is no evidence so far that fissures within the militant structure in Pakistan are helping NATO and U.S. forces.

The deadly Haqqani network, which has bases both in Pakistan and Afghanistan and is affiliated with al Qaeda, is one of the most lethal threats to coalition troops. It long has found safe haven in Pakistan‘s tribal belt and has used the Pakistani Taliban as a source of recruits. Senior U.S. officials say the Haqqanis also receive support from Pakistan‘s army and intelligence agency, a charge Islamabad denies.

Analysts predict that over time, however, the internecine feuding in the Pakistani Taliban will take a toll on militants fighting in Afghanistan, making it increasingly difficult for them to find recruits and restricting territory available to them.

Pakistan‘s military has rebuffed appeals from Washington to take on all of the insurgent groups in the tribal region, saying it has neither the men nor the weapons to do so. Instead, Islamabad has pushed its divide-and-conquer approach, which is gaining some traction in the United States, according to two Western officials in the region.

The officials say the success of this approach will be measured in Washington by its ability to curb Haqqani network attacks in Afghanistan. The officials requested to remain anonymous in order to speak candidly.

Cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan suffered a serious setback a week ago when NATO aircraft killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at two border posts. The Nov. 26 incident seems certain to blunt any prospect of Pakistan taking direct steps to curb the Haqqani network, analysts say.

In the wake of the attack, intelligence sharing has stopped, military-to-military contact has been suspended, routes supplying nonlethal goods to NATO in Afghanistan have been shut, and Pakistan has withdrawn its offer to bring Taliban and representatives of the Haqqani network to the negotiating table.

Pakistan also announced it will boycott next month’s conference in Bonn, Germany, to find ways to stabilize Afghanistan.

There is no independent figure on how many Taliban fighters operate in the tribal regions, but it is estimated to be in the thousands. Upward of 130 groups are in the area, Mr. Mahsud said, some of them small, violent offshoots of larger groups.

They have varying loyalties to a handful of key commanders such as Hakimullah Mehsud, the current leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

Popular support dwindled for Mr. Mehsud after his group was driven out of South Waziristan by the military and relocated to North Waziristan, according to tribesmen in the area. They spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals from militants.

The Pakistani army has brokered agreements with some Taliban factions, according to a senior Pakistani security official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive topic. But there are no peace talks under way with Mr. Mehsud, who has declared war on Pakistan, the official said.

A brash and heavy-handed insurgent, Mr. Mehsud has killed former allies, defied orders from the Haqqani network’s chief and developed close links with criminal gangs who kidnap, extort and exploit the local population.

He also has made enemies of former lieutenants in other parts of the tribal region, such as neighboring Kurram Agency, where a deputy, Fazl Saeed Haqqani, split with Mr. Mehsud three months ago and formed his own Islami-Tehrik-e-Taliban group.

In yet another tribal region of Orakzai, where Mr. Mehsud once held sway, members of feuding groups are now killing one another.

C.I.A. Drone Is Said to Kill Al Qaeda’s No. 2

By Mark Mazzetti for The New York Times


A drone operated by the CIA killed Al Qaeda’s second-ranking figure in the mountains of Pakistan on Monday, American and Pakistani officials said Saturday, further damaging a terrorism network that appears significantly weakened since the death of Osama bin Laden in May.

An American official said that the drone strike killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who in the last year had taken over as Al Qaeda’s top operational planner. Mr. Rahman was in frequent contact with Bin Laden in the months before the terrorist leader was killed on May 2 by a Navy Seals team, intelligence officials have said.

American officials described Mr. Rahman’s death as particularly significant as compared with other high-ranking Qaeda operatives who have been killed, because he was one of a new generation of leaders that the network hoped would assume greater control after Bin Laden’s death.

Thousands of electronic files recovered at Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, revealed that Bin Laden communicated frequently with Mr. Rahman. They also showed that Bin Laden relied on Mr. Rahman to get messages to other Qaeda leaders and to ensure that Bin Laden’s recorded communications were broadcast widely.

After Bin Laden was killed, Mr. Rahman became Al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader under Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded Bin Laden.

There were few details on Saturday about the strike that killed Mr. Rahman. In the months since Bin Laden’s death, the C.I.A. has maintained a barrage of drone missile strikes on mountainous redoubts in Pakistan, a bombing campaign that continues to strain America’s already turbulent relationship with Pakistan.

The C.I.A almost never consults Pakistani officials in advance of a drone strike, and a Pakistani government official said Saturday that the United States had told Pakistan’s government that Mr. Rahman had been the target of the strike only after the spy agency confirmed that he had been killed.

The drone strikes have been the Obama administration’s preferred means of hunting and killing operatives from Al Qaeda and its affiliate groups. Over the past year the United States has expanded the drone war to Yemen and Somalia.

Some top American officials have said publicly that they believe Al Qaeda is in its death throes, though many intelligence analysts are less certain, saying that the network built by Bin Laden has repeatedly shown an ability to regenerate.

Yet even as Qaeda affiliates in places like Yemen and North Africa continue to plot attacks against the West, most intelligence analysts believe that the remnants of Al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan have been weakened considerably. Mr. Rahman’s death is another significant blow to the group.

“Atiyah was at the top of Al Qaeda’s trusted core,” the American official said. “His combination of background, experience and abilities are unique in Al Qaeda — without question, they will not be easily replaced.”

The files captured in Abbottabad revealed, among other things, that Bin Laden and Mr. Rahman discussed brokering a deal with Pakistan: Al Qaeda would refrain from mounting attacks in the country in exchange for protection for Qaeda leaders hiding in Pakistan.

American officials said that they found no evidence that either of the men ever raised the idea directly with Pakistani officials, or that Pakistan’s government had any knowledge that Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad.

Mr. Rahman also served as Bin Laden’s liaison to Qaeda affiliates. Last year, American officials said, Mr. Rahman notified Bin Laden of a request by the leader of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen to install Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric, as the leader of the group in Yemen.

That group, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, apparently thought Mr. Awlaki’s status as an Internet celebrity, for his popular video sermons, and his knowledge of the United States might help the group’s fund-raising efforts. But according to the electronic files in Abbottabad, Bin Laden told Mr. Rahman that the group’s leadership should remain unchanged.

After Bin Laden’s death, some intelligence officials saw a cadre of Libyan operatives as poised to assume greater control inside Al Qaeda, which at times has been fractured by cultural rivalries.

Libyan operatives like Mr. Rahman, they said, had long bristled at the leadership of an older generation, many of them Egyptian like Mr. Zawahri and Sheikh Saeed al-Masri.

Mr. Masri was killed last year by a C.I.A. missile, as were several Qaeda operations chiefs before him. The job has proved to be particularly deadly, American officials said, because the operations chief has had to transmit the guidance of Bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri to Qaeda operatives elsewhere, providing a way for the Americans to track him through electronic intercepts.

Mr. Rahman assumed the role after Mr. Masri’s death. Now that Mr. Rahman has died, American officials said it was unclear who would take over the job.

Panetta: ‘No Choice’ in US Relations with Pakistan

By David Gollust for Voice of America

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday that the United States has no choice but to maintain close relations with Pakistan, despite government links with Islamic militants including the Haqqani network. The State Department, meanwhile, put sanctions on another Haqqani network commander.

Panetta, who took over as defense secretary in June after two years of heading the CIA, declined comment on news reports that Pakistan allowed China to inspect the wreckage of an advanced U.S. helicopter lost in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

But at a public forum with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Washington’s National Defense University, the defense chief was unusually candid about U.S. problem issues with Pakistan.

Panetta said Pakistan has “relationships” with the Haqqani network – militants based in western Pakistan who conduct cross-border attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and with Lashkar-e-Taiba militants who have attacked India.

Both groups are listed by the United States as terrorist organizations. Despite complaints that Pakistan has withheld visas for U.S. citizens being posted there, Panetta said the relationship remains essential.

“There is no choice but to maintain a relationship with Pakistan,” said Panetta. “Why? Because we are fighting a war there. We are fighting al-Qaida there. And they do give us some cooperation in that effort. Because they do represent an important force in that region. Because they do happen to be a nuclear power that has nuclear weapons, and we have to be concerned about what happens with those nuclear weapons. So for all of those reasons, we’ve got to maintain a relationship with Pakistan.”

Secretary of State Clinton said the Obama administration considers relations with Pakistan to be of “paramount importance.”

She said there have been “challenges” in bilateral ties for decades with valid complaints on both sides, and that she credits the Islamabad government with lately recognizing its shared interest with Washington in confronting terrorism.

“I was very pleased when the Pakistanis moved into [the] Swat [Valley] and cleaned out a lot of what had become a kind of Pakistani Taliban stronghold,” said Clinton. “And then they began to take some troops off their border with India, to put more resources into the fight against the Pakistani Taliban. Now, as Leon [Panetta] says, we have some other targets that we discuss with them – the Haqqanis, for example. And yet it’s been a relatively short period of time, two-and-a-half years, when they have begun to reorient themselves militarily against what is, in our view, an internal threat to them.”

The State Department on Tuesday designated a key Haqqani network commander – Mullah Sangeen Zadran – a terrorist under a 2001 White House executive order, freezing any U.S. assets he has and barring Americans from business dealings with him.

At the same time, Sangeen was designated a terrorist by the U.N. sanctions committee, which will subject him to a global travel ban, an asset freeze and an arms embargo.

A State Department statement said Sangeen, is a “shadow governor” of Afghanistan’s southeast Paktika province and a senior lieutenant of network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani. It said Sangeen has coordinated the movement of hundreds of foreign fighters into that country and that he is linked to numerous bomb attacks and kidnappings.

Suspicions Rise as Pakistan Bomb Labs Empty Before Raids

By Thom Shanker for The New York Times

For the second time this month, bomb-making factories in Pakistan were evacuated shortly after American intelligence officials notified Pakistani security forces of their existence, fueling suspicions that such intelligence is being shared with insurgents.

It remains unclear whether the evacuations — four of them in the past month alone — were the result of deliberate or inadvertent leaks or were planned in advance of the intelligence sharing as part of a mobile production operation.

But the disclosure, which appeared in an article by The Associated Press over the weekend, prompted senior members of Congress on Sunday to accuse Pakistan of playing a double game by aiding the United States on some counterterrorism operations while also maintaining ties to violent, extremist organizations operating from its territory.

The comments, by legislators who specialize in intelligence matters and military affairs, were just the latest expression of distrust between Washington and Islamabad after a series of bruising episodes, notably the secret American raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

However — as with everything having to do with Pakistan, terrorism and espionage — it remained unclear how or whether the militants learned of the American intelligence, which came with a request from Washington for local security forces to raid the explosives laboratories. Pakistani security forces routinely inform tribal elders before raids, in order to keep the peace with them, and it is possible that these village leaders in turn tipped off fellow Pashtuns among the insurgents.

Representative Mike Rogers, a Republican of Michigan and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, having returned from meetings in Pakistan last week, said Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation” that “I am more pessimistic coming out of this trip than I have been in the past.”

He expressed deep skepticism that the Pakistani military and the nation’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, were fully partners with the United States in battling terrorists and insurgents on their side of the border with Afghanistan.

“Pakistan needs to understand that there is no such thing as a good terrorist,” Mr. Rogers said. “They’re playing this very dangerous game of destabilization by having elements of the ISI and the army sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda elements.”

He was joined by Senator John McCain of Arizona, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, in calling for a reassessment of American financial assistance to Pakistan.

“After all, the United States is investing billions and billions of dollars in Pakistan,” Mr. McCain said on the ABC program “This Week.” “And taxpayers have a right to have a return on that.”

He said “the most frustrating aspect of this whole issue” was ISI’s continuing relations with two insurgent organizations, the Taliban and the Haqqani network, a Taliban ally based in the Pakistan tribal area of North Waziristan. “So it seems to me that to restore our confidence in our relationship with Pakistan, they have to make certain steps,” Mr. McCain said. “And we have to sort of set up some benchmarks as to what we expect.”

All four of the bomb factories — which made improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, the largest killer of American troops in Afghanistan — were evacuated before Pakistani security forces could take action against them. Information on two of the locations, in Pakistan’s tribal areas, was shared only in the past week, and insurgents packed up and left both sites within days.

A range of senior American intelligence officials, diplomats and military officers have visited Pakistan since the May 2 raid that killed Bin Laden; the mission outraged Pakistan’s government and citizens because it was carried out without first informing the government in Islamabad.

The goal of these high-level visits has been to halt the erosion of the relationship and to offer new opportunities for cooperation. Some have described those offers as tests of Pakistan’s will to be a full partner and act on shared information to pursue terrorists and insurgents.

The Pakistan military spy agency has arrested more than 30 people who fed information about the Bin Laden compound to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid, fueling further distrust between the two nations.

On “This Week” on Sunday, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, defended the arrests. “No one is being punished,” he said, adding: “When something like this happens, you want to know what happened and how, and who was involved.”

The Illiteracy of Hate

A News and Opinion Special Report by Manzer Munir for Paksitanis for Peace

Alleged Taliban Member pic courtsey of Boston Globe

The Taliban are not just simply a bunch of illiterate thugs and bullies for they too often prove to be even worse than animals and barbarians.

Nowhere else in the world has a country experienced a more tragic and callous attack as the one on Christmas day, the birth day of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, than the one Pakistan experienced. In an attack described by President Obama as an “affront on humanity”, the cowards attacked helpless women, children and men while they queued up in food and aid distribution site such as the WFP depot, people who mind you are already suffering from the ongoing war, once in a lifetime floods, and the poverty and radicalism of a generation of desperate, hopeless and increasingly uneducated young men brainwashed by the Taliban and other radical Muslim extremists.

I am still disturbed by the disdain for basic human life that this new attack proves about this radical and extreme enemy. I imagine another one of their brain washed ‘walking zombies’, this time purportedly a woman suicide bomber, a first, even for Pakistan, killed in excess of 43 people in Bajur Pakistan at a World Food Program rations and aid storage and distribution center.

The Pakistani authorities and several domestic and foreign NGO’s who provide food aid at various centers in the area are temporarily closing these centers in order to have increased security. This means that aid distribution will come to a crawl and up to several hundred thousand people will now have to suffer at the hands of the attacker and their backers, the Taliban who have claimed responsibility. The authorities will have to ensure the safety of aid organizations and their personnel for both Pakistani and non Pakistanis relief workers involved in getting food, water and medicine to many people who are either suffering from the war or from the floods.

This catastrophe, although not of near Biblical proportions, does present both a security and humanitarian problem to both the government of Pakistan as well the suffering citizens in the northwest areas of the country where; Taliban fighters take sanctuary from the war in Afghanistan to regroup and return to the fight in warmer weather after the winter months as we have seen in years past. In fact, the reach of the Taliban in Pakistan is now not only reputed to be in the headquartered areas such as in Quetta Pakistan among the restive Baluchi population, now they are so often found to be in major cities like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and many points in between as they use their religious cover to endear themselves to certain impressionable, weakened or illiterate individuals that are so commonly found in throughout the country. 

Here are the some of the depressing facts. Pakistan, a nation approaching 180 million people at current estimates, perhaps only boasts to having about 60-65% of the male population at a literate level and at best, the females to be only at 40-45% of the total female population. Sadly, what this means is that 4 out of 10 Pakistani males are completely illiterate while up to as many as 6 out of 10 women are not able to read or write. Poverty breeds extremism since there is no support from any government programs or hope for any solution.

Time and time again throughout history and not just of Pakistan’s, we can see that the role of the church, synagogue or mosque in building the community is deeper than that of any government initiatives or other measures. The poverty for these young men along with the lack of jobs like for those individuals who are either very poorly paid construction site workers, household labor or servants, or beggars and sewer workers, a job sadly almost seems to have been reserved for Pakistan’s Christian community members as many can attest in Pakistan of their unfortunate and depressing state. One does not need to remind the reader of the plight of Asia Bibi (also Aasia and Ayesa), the Christian Pakistani woman who is still awaiting her fate in Pakistani courts after more than a year and a half since first being accused of a BS blasphemy charge and being in jail ever since. 

The medieval mentality of these radical extremists is not something that needs to be described as the evidence is here in this latest attack . Certainly anyone alive in any part of the world outside Pakistan and Afghanistan with eyes, TV, radio or newspaper within their reach can see plenty of near daily reminders of the carnage that many natives of these lands see, and to what they have painfully become accustomed.

 The Pakistani and Afghani Talibans have by all the various reports in newspapers and media sources over the last several years have pointed out to the fact that these groups all have too often similar goals. Not only that, these groups all share the same characteristics. The anti-Americanism, the pro-Wahaabi or Orthodox version of Islam, the need for justice for the ‘suffering of the Palestinian people’ , and the anti-colonial and often times anti western sentiment amongst these groups. The radicalization of certain Muslim groups be they Hamas and Hezbollah in the Mideast or Lashkar e taiba, or any other militant outfit operating in this part of the world as mentioned in this quote a few days before he passed, the late Richard Holbrooke of the US State department said that there are a range of militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and that “an expert could add another 30.” His exact words are in quotations. 

The radical Muslim groups who take prey of the weaker, cannot think for themselves because they are scions of those abjectly illiterate segments of the society who are only educated in the madrassahs of Pakistan. This is the de facto way of educating Pakistan’s poorer children in little mosque schools which consist of nothing but Qu’ranic surahs and words of ‘wisdom’ or ‘interpretation’ by the local mullah of the said mosque/school. Most probably these children in many Pakistani madrassahs, especially the ones who live near the border areas within the NWFP or North West Frontier Province of Pakistan as this is the part of the country most affected by its close proximity to Afghanistan.

The people in this area of Pakistan, as well as their cousins in Afghanistan have been fighting one enemy or another for the better part of 100 years now. Whether to them the enemy be the British, during the height of the British Raj rule in India, or to the Soviets and the Red army and the Cold War, then in chronological order came the infighting after the Russian withdrawal as various Tajik, Afghani, Uzbek, Pakistani warlords came in to try and consolidate power to now us Americans and the Pakistanis who are our allies in this war.

Granted we do often hear that the Pakistanis can be doing more. By all accounts, the Pakistani government can do more in terms of fighting this war on terror. Numerous western reports and articles in respected dailies have alleged that small elements within both Pakistan’s Army as well as the spy agency, the ISI, have sympathizers to either the Taliban’s cause or they want to be on favorable terms with a powerful entity that most in Pakistan’s establishment believes that Pakistan will be dealing with and not a weakened Karzai once the US begins to draw down troops and end the war by 2014. If this is indeed true, then these ‘officers’ and supposed ‘leaders’ of Pakistan should realize that the colluding with the enemy, which in this case is the Taliban, is tantamount to treason, and the members of the armed forces of Pakistan as well as the intelligence community should not be assisting the enemies of all concerned: Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States. 

Of course we must not kid ourselves and assume that only alleviating the illiteracy and poverty of the Pakistani youth will and bettering the education system of the Pakistani poor, particularly that of the refugees and residents of the northwest areas near the Afghan border. No there needs to be a study and introspection by the people of these two countries where this hatred breeds. To to get out of this darkness, the population needs be provided not only safety when delivering food aid and or medicine but aldo most importantly give them a book, a pen, and a paper. And teach them how to fish for knowledge with basic comprehension and deductive reasoning skills that can reject a radical and violent view of Islam too often manipulated by the clergy. This is the only way we can come to end this illiteracy of hate.

Manzer Munir, is a proud and patriotic Pakistani American, an author, who plans to write a book on Pakistan, who is also a blogger and journalist, and as the Founder of Pakistanis for Peace  can be found at www.PakistanisforPeace.com, www.DigitalJournal.com ,www.Open.Salon.com, www.Examiner.com, as well at other websites as a freelance journalist and writer.

Obama and the Pakistan Dilemma

By Matthew Kaminski for The Wall Street Journal

Islamabad, Pakistan– America can’t win in Afghanistan as long as assorted Taliban insurgents find safe haven in Pakistan. That’s the no-brainer dressed up as revelation in leaks this week about the latest U.S. National Intelligence Estimate regarding both countries.

The proposed solution is tidy, too: Lean on Pakistan to cut links to extremists in the tribal regions along Afghanistan’s eastern border and in southern Baluchistan, even as the CIA ramps up the number of covert drone strikes on those groups.

The assumption is that Pakistan can bring the extremists to heel at its pleasure. After all, the Pakistani military began nurturing Afghan and other jihadists in the 1980s and has kept them on as “strategic assets” throughout the American long war brought about by 9/11. So, we think, if Islamabad cuts its support and makes life difficult for the jihadists, this unfortunate genie can be put back in the bottle. President Obama might even meet his self-imposed deadlines for drawing down the 98,000 American troops in Afghanistan.

This is all a useful fiction, maybe even a necessary one. American bribes, threats and pleas have prompted Pakistan into its own troop surge in the tribal regions. Over the past 18 months the Pakistanis have more than quadrupled their presence there, to 140,000, and have taken heavy casualties. Last year the Pakistani army cleared Swat Valley and South Waziristan, which had been overrun by militants.

Today’s White House review of the war, which comes a year into the Obama surge, will likely highlight such progress. The president can consider his administration’s spirited engagement with Pakistan a foreign policy success. Credit is also due to “bulldozer” diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who developed close relations with the Pakistani civilian leadership before his untimely death Monday evening.

But Pakistan hasn’t turned. The insurgents who kill American troops in Afghanistan—principally the Taliban, whose leadership is in Baluchistan, and the militants loyal to the legendary fighter Jalaluddin Haqqani in the tribal regions—operate all too freely from Pakistan. President Obama should note that, too, today.

The year ends sourly for U.S.-Pakistani military relations. American frustration with Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, has grown over broken Pakistani promises and a perceived lack of urgency. Summer floods diverted Pakistani troops away from the tribal areas, but the military doesn’t have that excuse now. The Pakistanis have also denied American requests to expand drone coverage to the area around Quetta, the city in Baluchistan that is the heaquarters-in-exile of the Taliban.

Pakistani officials say that Gen. Kayani will move his forces into North Waziristan, the tribal region that hosts the Haqqani network, in his own time. Some 50,000 troops are said to be ready to go in. No one wants them to lose, but they could against Haqqani’s respected force. A U.S. official says, “We don’t want them to do it if they’re not ready, but we don’t want them to think it’s not important.”

The Pakistanis may have found a way out. Analysts here say that the military is giving Haqqani time to relocate to a neighboring tribal region, Kurram, before soldiers go in to “clear” North Waziristan. A U.S. defense official here says that he’s seen no evidence to back the claim. But in the past most insurgents have simply melted away in the face of Pakistani advances.

Haqqani also figures as a trusted ally in Islamabad’s plans for a postwar Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and some American officials are open to talks with the Taliban, if they bring peace in exchange for power sharing. Also, who knows, America may get fed up and pull out before it wins. With all that in mind, Pakistani leaders may protect Haqqani, their favorite “asset,” thinking he and his Taliban allies may get power in Kabul one way or another.
Instead of sending drones over Quetta, the CIA this summer was allowed to set up shop on the ground. Across Pakistan, several such “fusion cells” pair CIA operatives with officials from Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence. A Pakistani official says that this takes courage, as “ISI officers are murdered for helping Americans.”

Many circles here welcome U.S. pressure on the military and state to act. Islamic extremists are putting down deep roots in society, to the consternation of educated and moderate Pakistanis. This goes well beyond the mountainous regions that are the traditional home to religious warrior tribes. The state is losing its grip on Baluchistan. The country’s largest city, Karachi, is a militant hotbed. Parts of all Pakistani provinces have been radicalized, including the most populous, Punjab. Terrorism now touches all Pakistanis.

Pakistan is becoming more like Afghanistan—only with a more advanced economy and nuclear weapons. The people who cross the porous border between them, an arbitrary line drawn up by the British in the 1890s—already consider them the same country. Pakistan’s military has yet to show that it wants to—or that it can—control the Islamist wave. Many groups have slipped their leash and look at their old patron, the ISI, with distrust.
Gen. David Petraeus, the American commander in Afghanistan, certainly has contingency plans for Pakistan that go beyond extra doses of drones or diplomacy. Putting American boots in Waziristan is an obvious idea. But, like so many options, it is unappealing. The fallout in Pakistan would be hard to predict.

So for the moment, America gets to pretend that Pakistan can do this on its own. A successful terrorist attack on the U.S. with a Pakistani return address might quickly change that.

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s Note
As we have noted on several occasions before, Pakistan must do a lot more to hunt down the Taliban, its leaders and other militants on its side of the border. Already the violence and acts of terrorism within Pakistan are at an all time high as noted in this article and have touched every Pakistani and every corner of the country. Not eliminating the Taliban completely only allows them to get stronger.

Pakistan needs to stop playing a double game and stop thinking of the Taliban as a strategic asset as they never were nor ever will be an asset in any way. Pakistan must eliminate the safe havens for the Taliban within its territory, otherwise the United States will be compelled to act, with or without Pakistan’s blessings, and shall be correct in doing so to prevent attacks on its homeland emanating from Pakistan based militants.

Pakistan Looks Ahead to End of Afghan War

By Olivia Ward for The Toronto Star

As NATO forces prepare to pull out of Afghanistan, worries about the country falling back to Taliban control are paramount. But in neighbouring Pakistan, where suicide bombings and brazen attacks on security forces have become regular occurrences, the stakes are also high.

“What happens in Afghanistan affects us and vice-versa,” says Akbar Zeb, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Canada. “We have four million Afghan refugees still living in Pakistan, and it’s in our interest to have a stable country where we can send them back. A Taliban takeover won’t be just detrimental to Afghanistan. It would harm Pakistan and the whole region.”

Zeb said that under the civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari, relations have improved with Afghanistan, and contrary to reports of friction, there are “frequent contacts” between the two countries that would be helpful in creating stability.

But he added that Canada, and other Western countries, should not repeat the mistakes of the post-Soviet era, when the West lost interest in Afghanistan and Pakistan as soon as the Soviet troops withdrew.

During the rule of Pakistan’s military leader, President Pervez Musharraf, groups of Taliban-linked militants got a foothold in Pakistan, but were not seen as a danger to the country until internal attacks began to spread. Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, and suicide bombings took the lives of hundreds of civilians. Under pressure from the U.S., the Pakistani military began a massive campaign against the Taliban along the Afghan border.

“We have managed to clear a lot of areas from the Taliban,” said Zeb. “Military campaigns are the only language they understand. But they alone won’t help to win the war. We have border regions with a lot of poverty, and backward elements that have been ignored for a long time.”

Canada has announced support for road and rail projects linking Afghanistan and Pakistan to speed trade between the two countries.

“It’s a very good initiative, but scope is limited,” said Zeb.”We wish the projects were larger and not just (confined to) those that involve both Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Talks with Islamabad are also ongoing on the use of ports in Karachi for shipping out Canadian troops and military supplies from Afghanistan.

But as the war continues, Pakistan has also been urged to be tougher on the Taliban. In the past two years it has carried out attacks against the militants in its border regions with some success, while American-launched drone strikes have killed high-ranking Taliban. The catastrophic floods that wiped out some of the most important agricultural areas of Pakistan brought a temporary truce, but militant attacks have resumed since the waters receded.

Last week, talk of a peace deal between the notorious Taliban-linked Haqqani network, and an opposing tribe in the remote northwest raised fears that it could open the way for Taliban access to strategic border areas. But the U.S. has also urged a Pakistani offensive against the network in North Waziristan, a volatile region where 400,000 civilians are vulnerable to displacement.

According to Pakistani officials, the country has lost some 7,000 security forces in a decade of fighting the militants — more than three times the coalition deaths in Afghanistan. Meanwhile 30,000 Pakistani civilians have died. The border region, a tangle of mutually hostile tribes, remains a haven for militants.

“It’s a difficult balance for Pakistan,” said Zeb. “Foreign troops may leave, and for them Afghanistan is a distant land. We’re Afghanistan’s neighbours. We helped with the fighting in the decade-long war against the Soviets. And we have to live with the outcome of this war.”

Envoy Insists Pakistan Will Tackle Terrorists As Attack Kills 3

By Nasir Habib for Cnn

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — Gunmen in Pakistan opened fire on oil trucks bound for NATO forces in Afghanistan, setting some 20 vehicles on fire and killing three, police said Monday. The attack came shortly after Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States vowed his country would go after terrorists on its soil.

Naeem Iqbal, a police spokesman, said five people were wounded in the attack on tankers parked on a main road outside a housing complex near the capital city of Islamabad. Efforts to put out the blaze are ongoing, he said.

Bin Yamin, a deputy police chief, said eight gunmen entered the area on Monday around 12:15 a.m. local time. He said they told people near the trucks to run away and that most did. Then they opened fire.

The tankers were parked in the vicinity of an oil refinery where they were going to go to pick up fuel for NATO forces in Afghanistan, Yamin said. Video images of the scene showed firefighters working to put out flames that stood out in the night against the overturned trucks.

On Sunday, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States insisted his country would go after terrorists on its soil and needed only “technical” help from Washington, not U.S. troops on the ground.

Husain Haqqani, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Pakistan would reopen a NATO supply route into Afghanistan “relatively quickly,” probably in less than a week.

Pakistan halted the convoys Thursday after officials blamed cross-border NATO helicopter fire for the deaths of three Pakistani soldiers. Haqqani said the United States and Pakistan were investigating the killings together. He said Pakistan will move against militants on its own schedule, not Washington’s.

“Pakistan is saying we will take care of all terrorists on the Pakistani side of the border, but we will do it on our timeline,” Haqqani said Sunday. “We cannot always follow a timeline that our allies set for us, because we are allies, not a satellite.”

Pakistan has lodged protests against NATO helicopter incursions into its territory — which the International Security Assistance Force says its rules of engagement permit — and is very sensitive about reported U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.

There were a record number of drone strikes last month, according to a CNN count. On Saturday, three suspected drone strikes killed 18 people.

Pakistani intelligence officials said 10 people died in one drone strike targeting a militant hideout, four people died when a vehicle was struck, and four others were killed when another hideout was targeted.

All three occurred in the Data Khel area of North Waziristan. The intelligence officials did not want to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

Security analysts have described North Waziristan as a haven for various factions of Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda militants. The majority of reported strikes this year have hit targets in the district, a mountainous tribal area on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, analysts said.

The United States does not officially acknowledge that it has unmanned aircraft firing missiles at suspected militants in Pakistan, but it is the only country operating in the area that is known to have the ability to do so.

Ambassador Haqqani also said Pakistan couldn’t do everything Washington wants “because sometimes we don’t have the capacity and sometimes we don’t have the means.” He said Pakistan’s geography makes it hard to hit militants.

“Sometimes people in the U.S. think … that it’s all flat land with everything visible. Not even the drones can identify everyone in North Waziristan because of the complexity of terrain,” Haqqani said.

Haqqani also argued that Pakistani politicians, just like U.S. counterparts, are constrained by public opinion. “All politics is local and the local situation in Pakistan is that the United States is not very popular amongst our public,” he said. “The fact remains that an elected democratic government in Pakistan is limited by public opinion to the extent of what it can do,” he said.

The Continuous Struggle Along Pakistan’s Frontier

By David Ignatius for The Wall Street Journal

In the same week when U.S. helicopters mistakenly killed three members of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps near the Afghan border, American Special Forces were training members of that same force on how to use radios, sniper rifles and other counterinsurgency tools at a remote base here.

Pakistanis and Americans don’t talk much about this joint training camp, northwest of Peshawar about 20 miles from Afghanistan. But the program is a symbol of the weird duality of the relationship — a mix of public distance and private cooperation that’s awkward for both sides.

“We have good relations; it’s going very well,” Col. Ahsan Raza, the camp commander, said when I visited Tuesday afternoon, two days before the fatal U.S. cross-border attack. But the Pakistani commandant was eager not to appear too close to America, stressing that the U.S. trainers were supplying technical skills, not running the show.

Both sides view the program here as a success story. But the joint effort masks a tension that is only likely to deepen in coming months.

Pakistan wants to use the 70,000-strong Frontier Corps to stabilize the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, and halt the domestic Taliban insurgency. The United States, struggling in Afghanistan, wants Pakistan to help seal the border and destroy the sanctuaries used by al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban. The two sides talk as if their goals are identical, but they aren’t. The differing priorities became clear in conversations last week with Pakistani commanders.

Warsak is a pet project of Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan, the commander of the Frontier Corps. At his headquarters in the ancient Bala Hissar fortress in Peshawar, the traditional garb of the tribal “scouts,” as they’re called, makes you wonder whether the days of the British Raj ever really ended. Behind Khan’s desk is a plaque bearing the names of his predecessors back to 1907.

Khan argues that it’s time for Pakistan to move from big military offensives in the tribal areas to what he calls “policing” actions. “No steamroller operations,” he says.

Lt. Gen. Asif Yasin Malik, who commands the Pakistani army in the western border areas and is Khan’s boss, makes the same point. “Don’t expect major new kinetic operations,” he says. “We have changed gears to a softer approach.”

This can’t be comforting to Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan. He is said to have concluded, after several months in Kabul, that more Pakistani pressure on the havens is crucial for American success. That’s the basic conflict — an overstretched America wants a Pakistani surge in the tribal areas; an overstretched Pakistan just wants to keep the peace.

Khan’s strategy is an updated version of the old British approach: work through the tribal chiefs, or maliks, keep the roads open and pound any renegades back into line. He wants to maintain order through three tiers of force: local militias, known as “levies,” recruited by the maliks; the Frontier Corps dispersed across the FATA; and the big guns of the Pakistani army.

Working with the American trainers at Warsak, Khan has devised some smart tactics: Private vehicles in the FATA will have electronic chips that register their movements. The scouts will report suspicious activities on their American-made radios, and the snipers will blow away any miscreants using their American-made sniper rifles. To demonstrate that order is returning, the burly Khan, the scion of a princely Pashtun family, took a car trip last summer through the FATA with his wife and daughter.

Khan’s enthusiasm is infectious: “There are no safe havens in my area of responsibility — I can take you anywhere, any place, anytime.” That sidesteps the fact that North and South Waziristan, the main trouble spots, are still the responsibility of the army.

Driving down the roads of the border areas, you sometimes have the sense that you are traveling back in time. But that “back to the future” strategy is a temporary fix, at best. Pakistan, with U.S. support, should be moving forward, not in reverse. The years of war have shattered the old tribal order, and the long-run goal should be to bring the tribal areas into a modern Pakistan, rather than let them fester on their own.

U.S. drone attacks and other firepower can keep the insurgents on the run, but they won’t bring stability. Neither will Tariq Khan’s snipers. Somehow, the people in this desolate region have to feel they have a stake in a future that’s something other than continuous warfare.

Suicide Attack in NW Pakistan Kills 17 People

By Uaz Mohammad for The Associated Press

A Taliban suicide bomber detonated a car in an alley behind a police station in a strategically important town in northwestern Pakistan on Monday, killing at least 17 police and civilians in an explosion that shattered the station and neighboring homes.

About 40 people were wounded in the attack in Lakki Marwat, which sits on the main road between Punjab province, Pakistan’s largest and most prosperous, and the North and South Waziristan tribal regions.

A Pakistani army offensive pushed many militants out of South Waziristan in October. The militants still control much of North Waziristan, where U.S. drone aircraft have been conducting a campaign of targeted killings.

Hours after the attack, officials said a suspected U.S. missile strike had killed three alleged militants in North Waziristan, home to the Haqqani network, a militant group battling U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Two Pakistani intelligence officials told The Associated Press that a missile hit a vehicle in the Datta Khel area on the Afghan border Monday evening. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information

In Lakki Marwat, rescue workers and police officials were digging through rubble at the station, police official Ghulam Mohammad Khan said. Nine police officers, four adult civilians and four children going to school were slain in the attack.

Police official Liaquat Ali said 45 police were in the building when the bomber struck.

“I said my morning prayers and we went to sleep, then suddenly there was a big bang. All the debris fell on us,” police official Ikramullah Khan told The Associated Press from a bed in a nearby hospital, where many of the wounded lay wailing in pain as relatives comforted each other.

Emergency workers and local residents used cranes to move the rubble of the mostly destroyed police station. Books and a schoolbag could be seen in the wreckage and the twisted frames of a motorcycle and a car sat nearby. A neighborhood shop and mosque also were partly destroyed.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they targeted the police for encouraging residents to set up militias to fight the militants – known locally as lashkars. The group pledged to carry out additional attacks unless the militias disbanded.

“After the police, we will attack those active in forming anti-Taliban lashkars if they have not given up their activities,” Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.

The police chief of Lakki Marwat district was killed in a suicide bombing several months ago and militants have carried out a string of attacks in the area since then.

In recent days, militants have launched attacks across the nation aimed at destabilizing the country and weakening a civilian government already struggling with a massive flooding that has displaced millions and caused widespread destruction.

The deadliest have targeted minority Shiite Muslims. A suicide bombing killed at least 43 Shiite Muslims at a procession in the southwestern city of Quetta on Friday. Two days earlier, a triple suicide attack killed 35 people at a Shiite ceremony in the eastern city of Lahore.

Both were claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, whose commander Qari Hussain Mehsud threatened Friday that his group would wage imminent attacks in the U.S. and Europe.

On the same day, Pakistani intelligence officials said two suspected U.S. missile strikes had killed at least seven people in North Waziristan, which is largely controlled by the Haqqani network, one of the main groups battling Americans in neighboring Afghanistan.

With Friends Like These…

By Ron Moreau for Newsweek

The Afghan Taliban say they have one thing in common with the Americans: they’re both getting played by Pakistan. 

The Afghan Taliban logistics officer laughs about the news he’s been hearing on his radio this past week. The story is that a Web site known as WikiLeaks has obtained and posted thousands of classified field reports from U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and hundreds of those reports mention the Americans’ suspicions that Pakistan is secretly assisting the Taliban—a charge that Pakistan has repeatedly and vehemently denied. “At least we have something in common with America,” the logistics officer says. “The Pakistanis are playing a double game with us, too.”

Pakistan’s ongoing support of the Afghan Taliban is anything but news to insurgents who have spoken to NEWSWEEK. Requesting anonymity for security reasons, many of them readily admit their utter dependence on the country’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) not only for sanctuary and safe passage but also, some say, for much of their financial support. The logistics officer, speaking at his mud-brick compound near the border, offers an unverifiable estimate that Pakistan provides roughly 80 percent of the insurgents’ funding, based on his conversations with other senior Taliban. He says the insurgents could barely cover their expenses in Kandahar province alone if not for the ISI. Not that he views them as friends. “They feed us with one hand and arrest and kill us with the other,” he says.

The militants say that most often they’re dealing with middlemen who appear to be merchants, money-changers, or businessmen, although the assumption is that they’re working for Pakistani intelligence. Some provide money, some motorbikes; others supply contacts for sources who can provide weapons. One smuggler who funnels much of his profits to the insurgency claims that Pakistani forces reserve one remote border crossing in Baluchistan for the Taliban and force civilians to divert to far-off posts.

But many insurgents still blame the Pakistani government for its cooperation in the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11. “We can’t forget or forgive Pakistan for turning against us nine years ago,” says a senior Taliban intelligence operative, also speaking with NEWSWEEK along the remote border. And the betrayals didn’t stop there. Every Taliban can recite a long list of insurgent leaders who have been arrested in Pakistan or who were killed in Afghanistan with assumed Pakistani complicity. One of the biggest losses was Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani, a driving force in the Taliban’s revival whose hideout near Quetta was raided by Pakistani forces in 2006. He fled across the border, where he was killed in a U.S. airstrike. Another was Mullah Dadullah Akhund, one of the insurgency’s most feared commanders, who died in a coalition raid in Helmand—with the help of the ISI, the Taliban suspects. The insurgents say he was too brazen, too independent, and too close to Al Qaeda for Pakistan’s comfort.

The militants say that most often they’re dealing with middlemen who appear to be merchants, money-changers, or businessmen, although the assumption is that they’re working for Pakistani intelligence. Some provide money, some motorbikes; others supply contacts for sources who can provide weapons. One smuggler who funnels much of his profits to the insurgency claims that Pakistani forces reserve one remote border crossing in Baluchistan for the Taliban and force civilians to divert to far-off posts.

But many insurgents still blame the Pakistani government for its cooperation in the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11. “We can’t forget or forgive Pakistan for turning against us nine years ago,” says a senior Taliban intelligence operative, also speaking with NEWSWEEK along the remote border. And the betrayals didn’t stop there. Every Taliban can recite a long list of insurgent leaders who have been arrested in Pakistan or who were killed in Afghanistan with assumed Pakistani complicity. One of the biggest losses was Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani, a driving force in the Taliban’s revival whose hideout near Quetta was raided by Pakistani forces in 2006. He fled across the border, where he was killed in a U.S. airstrike. Another was Mullah Dadullah Akhund, one of the insurgency’s most feared commanders, who died in a coalition raid in Helmand—with the help of the ISI, the Taliban suspects. The insurgents say he was too brazen, too independent, and too close to Al Qaeda for Pakistan’s comfort.

Some leading Taliban even suspect that Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader and symbol of their jihad, may also be in ISI custody. He has appeared in no videos and issued no verifiable audio messages or written statements since he disappeared into the Kandahar mountains on the back of Baradar’s motorcycle in late 2001. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the ISI arrested us all in one day,” says a former cabinet minister. “We are like sheep the Pakistanis can round up whenever they want.”

On top of the years of grudges, there’s a persistent strain of ethnic animosity between the Taliban’s overwhelmingly Pashtun membership and its mostly Punjabi patrons from Pakistan’s security forces. The insurgents refer contemptuously to the ISI as “blacklegs,” for their supposedly darker skin. “Any commander who is more or less self-sufficient and independent of Pakistan becomes more popular with his fighters,” the intelligence officer says. Nevertheless, the insurgents see little choice about accepting any help they can get from Pakistan.

The Pakistanis, for their part, continue to resist U.S. pressure for strikes against Taliban sanctuaries. “Their aim seems to be to prolong the war in Afghanistan by aiding both the Americans and us,” says the logistics officer. “That way Pakistan continues to receive billions from the U.S., remains a key regional player, and still maintains influence with [the Taliban].” And which side is Pakistan on? “That’s a foolish question,” says Anatol Lieven, a professor in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. “Pakistan is on Pakistan’s side, just as America is on America’s.” Nobody knows that better than the Taliban.

What is Wikileaks?

By Jonathan Fildes for The BBC News

Whistle-blowing website Wikileaks is once again at the centre of attention as it makes public more than 90,000 secret records of incidents and intelligence reports from the US military about the war in Afghanistan. It is the latest in a long list of “leaks” published by the secretive site, which has established a reputation for publishing sensitive material from governments and other high-profile organizations. 

In April 2010, for example, it posted a video on its website that shows a US Apache helicopter killing at least 12 people – including two Reuters journalists – during an attack in Baghdad in 2007. A US military analyst is currently awaiting trial, on charges of leaking the material along with other sensitive military and diplomatic material.

In October 2009, it posted a list of names and addresses of people it claimed belonged to the British National Party (BNP). The BNP said the list was a “malicious forgery”.

And during the 2008 US elections, it published screenshots of the e-mail inbox, pictures and address book of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Other controversial documents hosted on the site include a copy of the Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta, a document that detailed restrictions placed on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.  It provoked controversy when it first appeared on the net in December 2006 and still splits opinion. For some it is lauded as the future of investigative journalism. For others it is a risk.

In mid-March 2010 the site’s director, Julian Assange, published a document purportedly from the US intelligence services, claiming that Wikileaks represented a “threat to the US Army”.  The US government later confirmed to the BBC that the documents were genuine. To keep our sources safe, we have had to spread assets, encrypt everything, and move telecommunications and people around the world”  “The unauthorised publication of Army and DoD sensitive documents on Wikileaks provides foreign intelligence services access to information that they may use to harm Army and DoD interests,” a spokesperson told BBC News.

The site now claims to host more than one million documents. Anyone can submit to Wikileaks anonymously, but a team of reviewers – volunteers from the mainstream press, journalists and Wikileaks staff – decides what is published.  “We use advanced cryptographic techniques and legal techniques to protect sources,” Mr Assange told the BBC in February. 

The site says that it accepts “classified, censored or otherwise restricted material of political, diplomatic or ethical significance” but does not take “rumour, opinion or other kinds of first hand reporting or material that is already publicly available”. “We specialise in allowing whistle-blowers and journalists who have been censored to get material out to the public,” said Mr Assange.

It is operated by an organisation known as the Sunshine Press and claims to be “funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public”.  Since it appeared on the net, it has faced various legal challenges to take it offline.

In 2008, for example, the Swiss Bank Julius Baer won a court ruling to block the site after Wikileaks posted “several hundred” documents about its offshore activities. However, various “mirrors” of the site – hosted on different servers around the world – continued to operate. The order was eventually overturned Wikileaks claims to have fought off more than “100 legal attacks” in its life, in part because of what is described as its “bulletproof hosting” The site is primarily hosted by Swedish ISP PeRiQuito (PRQ), which became famous for hosting file-sharing website The Pirate Bay.

“If it is legal in Sweden, we will host it, and will keep it up regardless of any pressure to take it down,” the ISP’s site says.  The site also hosts documents in other jurisdictions, including Belgium. Its experience of different laws around the world meant that it was drafted to help Icelandic MPs draw up plans for its Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI). The plan calls on the country’s government to adopt laws protecting journalists and their sources.

“To keep our sources safe, we have had to spread assets, encrypt everything, and move telecommunications and people around the world to activate protective laws in different national jurisdictions,” Mr Assange said at the time.

“We’ve become good at it, and never lost a case, or a source, but we can’t expect everyone to go through the extraordinary efforts that we do.”  Despite its notoriety, the site has faced financial problems. In February, it suspended operations as it could not afford its own running costs.  Donations from individuals and organisations saved the site.

Mr Assange told the BBC that the site had recently gone through “enormous growth” and had received an “extraordinary amount of material”.  “It exceeds our ability to get it out to [the] public at the moment,” he said in February.

As a result, he said, the site was changing and hoped to set up a number of “independent chapters around the world” as well as to act as a middle-man between sources and newspapers.   “We take care of the source and act as a neutral intermediary and then we also take care of the publication of the material whilst the journalist that has been communicated with takes care of the verification.”

“It provides a natural… connection between a journalist and a source with us in the middle performing the function that we perform best.” The latest documents – released in partnership with the New York Times, the Guardian and the German news magazine Der Spiegel – appear to be the first high-profile example of this new tactic.

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