Posts Tagged ‘ White House ’

Amir Khan Gets Invited to The White House

By Araiz Baqi for Sportspulse

Amir Khan, the British professional boxer of Pakistani descent, has been invited to the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States, also known as the White house, for a dinner, along with other Muslim sportsmen, on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities in New York.

The currently unified IBF and WBA World Light Welterweight Champion was invited to attend the dinner by the United States Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. The event will take place on September 10. “Amir was invited there by Mrs Clinton,” a source revealed. “He will be among a group of the most prominent Muslim sportsmen in America, and as Amir is now based in the US, that offer was extended to him.”

The Irony is that IBF and WBA champion have become frustrated with the lengthy delays he has to face whenever he travels to the States. There are seven levels of security at the, with seven being the highest, and Amir comes in at full seven.

When on vacation, Amir almost everytime visits Pakistan, and most recently, he visited Egypt and Saudi Arabia (All Muslim Countries). ‘All these things are taken into account by US Homeland Security. The Khan family are kept in a holding area until the green light is given from Washington DC, as all the checks that are made.’ – reports dailymail.

The Organizers of the event have yet to confirm whether President Barack Obama will be present at the event or not. If the President attends the ceremony, Amir might find a smoother passage on future entries to the United States.

Khan, Currently rated as the best boxer in the Light Welterweight division, has made his fans, especially Pakistanis, proud after getting the invitation for the dinner. After all, in this world of racism, hatred, and diversity, who eould expect a Pakistani to get invited to the White house…

After returning from pilgrimage last week in the holy month of Ramadan, Khan will fight in the United States most likely against Mexican legend Erik Morales. He will leave the White House on Sept 11 and go on to Las Vegas, where one of his rivals, Victor Ortiz, defends the World Boxing Council welterweight title against Floyd Mayweather Jnr.

Pakistan Rejects US Taliban Report

As Reported by The BBC

The Pakistani military has dismissed the findings of a US report that says it has no clear plans to defeat the Taliban insurgency.

The report assessing the war against militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan has been submitted by the Obama administration to the US congress.

But a senior Pakistan security official told the BBC that operations against militants have been a great success.

The official said that Pakistan should be proud of the progress it had made.

The White House report said that Pakistan still has no “clear path” to defeat militants on its soil.

But the senior official – who wished to remain anonymous – said that Pakistan’s plate was full enough already.

“Instead of pushing us to do more, the other side should carry out an introspection of its own operations,” he said.

“We are quite satisfied with our counter-insurgency campaign in the Swat and Malayan regions and parts of the tribal areas. We can safely say this has been a great success story.”

The BBC’s Shoaib Hasan in Pakistan says that the White House report has been released at a time when relations between the security establishments of the two countries have been strained.

Our correspondent says that the report is likely to raise the ire of the Pakistan military – which says it has lost more men than any other country in the fight against militancy in the region.

‘Vexing’

The White House report said that in spite of “tremendous human sacrifices” made by Pakistani security forces and increased military co-operation between Pakistan and US in the last three months, the fight against militancy was making little progress.

Pakistan claims to have lost more men than any other country in the fight against militancy It cited the example of the this January’s third operation in two years to clear insurgents from Mohmand and Bajaur tribal agencies.

The Pakistani military’s efforts have been hobbled by resistance from the militants, bad weather and the need to settle internally displaced people.

“What remains vexing is the lack of any indication of ‘hold’ and ‘build’ planning or staging efforts to complement ongoing clearing operations,” the White House report said.

“As such there remains no clear path to defeating the insurgency in Pakistan, despite the unprecedented and sustained deployment of over 147,000 forces.”

The report said that Pakistan and Afghanistan needed to co-operate more to destroy insurgent havens on both sides of the border.

The US has long expressed frustration about Pakistan’s reluctance to take on militants in the tribal areas.

India, Pakistan And U.S. Strategic Dialogue

By Apoorva Shah for The American Enterprise Institute

At this week’s first U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue in Washington, D.C., talks between the two countries will cover the spectrum of bilateral and multilateral issues, from trade and economic cooperation to terrorism and regional security. 

American participants may even feel the need to bring up India’s strained relationship with Pakistan. But it would serve them well to first consider a Times of India story from earlier this year, which went almost unreported in the United States.

According to an interview in the Indian newspaper with former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, India and Pakistan in 2007 were days away from reaching a comprehensive accord on their territorial dispute over Kashmir, the axis of the countries’ six-decade-long rivalry and casus belli of three wars between the two nations.

Kasuri, Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf’s chief diplomat from 2002 to 2007, said in April that the secret deal had been in progress for more than three years and would have led to a full demilitarization of both Indian- and Pakistani-occupied areas of Kashmir and would have awarded the region a package of loose sovereignty at a point “between complete independence and autonomy.” Not only were Indian and Pakistani leaders on board (including, most importantly, the Pakistani military), so was every Kashmiri leader except for one hard-line separatist, Syed Ali Shah Gilani.

The accord was slated to be signed during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s scheduled visit to Islamabad in February and March of 2007, but before the trip ever occurred, a country-wide lawyers’ protest in Pakistan had turned into a broader opposition campaign against General Musharraf. The rest of the year would be one of the most tumultuous in Pakistan’s history, marked by the siege of the Red Mosque in July, the return of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in October and her subsequent assassination in December, and the return of popular leader Nawaz Sharif from exile in September.

By August of the following year, public opposition had peaked, and Musharraf was forced to resign his post as president, ending his decade-long tenure as leader of Pakistan. After Musharraf’s ouster, it appears that the deal had lost much of its momentum.

Then in November, the accord suffered another setback as ten Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists took India’s largest city, Mumbai, hostage for almost 72 hours, killing more than 160 people and injuring scores more. The attack was quickly coined “India’s 9/11,” and the evidence pointed directly to Pakistan, where the gunmen had been trained and equipped.

In protest, India cut off all diplomatic talks with Pakistan almost immediately; there were even rumors that the country was preparing military action against its northern neighbor. Within a span of less than two years, the India-Pakistan relationship had traveled the spectrum from apparent rapprochement and compromise to mutual suspicion and renewed hostility.

Since then, the signs have only appeared to worsen: for example, in 2009, when Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor publicly introduced revisions to his country’s “cold start” military strategy.

This military modernization and training program, which was developed in response to the army’s sluggish mobilization to the Pakistani border following the December 2001 terrorist attacks on the Indian parliament, remained mostly under the radar for most of the early 2000s, relegated to defense journals and the occasional news article.

It was only following the 2008 attacks that “cold start” began to receive renewed attention from the media on both sides of the border and was more publicly discussed by Indian military officials like General Kapoor. Indeed, it appeared as if the next breakthrough in Indo-Pak relations would occur through hard rather than soft power.

Concomitantly, India and Pakistan’s post-Mumbai attempts to return to diplomatic talks also appeared fraught with danger and seemed to only fuel more discord rather than reconciliation.

In February this year, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir resumed high-level talks for the first time since November 2008, but both sides appeared unprepared (they could not even agree on the specific subject of the talks prior to sitting down) and spent more time bickering through separate press conferences.

For example, while Bashir accused India of covertly supplying weapons to militants in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, Rao complained that Pakistan had “not gone far enough” in the 2008 Mumbai attack investigation. As India presented a dossier of evidence against one of the Mumbai attack perpetrators, Pakistan responded by calling it a “piece of literature not a dossier.”

It’s hard to see how any progress could be made on improving Indo-Pakistani relations in the midst of this hostility. But does Kasuri’s revelation provide hope that a resolution on Kashmir could be revived? First, excepting Musharraf and Kasuri, many of the supporters of the failed 2007 accord—including Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan’s current track II special negotiator Riaz Mohammed Khan, and, on the Indian side, Prime Minister Singh—still hold high-level positions in their respective governments.

And second, the secrecy of the original deal shows that outward indifference, or even enmity, between the two countries can belie an internal desire for change. In a relationship where hostility is status quo and where amicable relations seem aberrant if not bizarre, a furtive accord lets ruling elites make slow, institutional changes in the relationship while preserving outward form and precedent. It also allows deal-makers to keep tempestuous domestic politicians and party leaders at arms length while deliberating sensitive issues.

Even India’s traditionally hyperactive media seems to understand: A subsequent editorial in the Times of India noted, “the fact that such a deal exists emphasizes the importance of maintaining contact with Islamabad.”

So what can we expect in the months ahead? Indian officials will undoubtedly continue to pressure Pakistan to confront Lashkar-e-Taiba and other terrorist groups that plan to attack India, and another attack could indeed result in Indian military action. There will also be more bickering between the sides—on water rights, “most-favored-nation” clauses, and even cricket.

Yet the revelation of the secret deal should be both a lesson and a sign of hope. It is a lesson because it proves that progress on an entrenched conflict like Kashmir can occur without the United States’ public mediation.

American officials at the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue this week should keep in mind that the accord was pursued during the final years of the Bush administration, in which the United States made it a point to separate the U.S.-India relationship from the more sensitive Indo-Pak relationship.

It is a sign of hope because, despite the outward appearance of discord between the countries, internally, leaders on both sides have—at least at some point in recent memory—wanted to move forward on a resolution.

As Pakistan continues its domestic offensive against terrorists and India pursues closer economic engagement with its northern neighbor, wanting change may be the best sign that change is on the way.

Obama, Karzai Strive To Project Unity, Deny Serious Differences

By Jonathan Landay for The Kansas City Star

President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai asserted Wednesday that progress is being made toward crushing the Taliban-led insurgency, but new studies on the Afghan army and police raise serious doubts about whether the strategy can succeed before a U.S. troop drawdown begins in July 2011.

Flanked by Karzai at a White House news conference, Obama urged Americans to have patience with the “joint strategy” that he unveiled in December to stabilize Afghanistan, defeat the insurgency and prevent the country’s reversion to a Qaida sanctuary. He warned, however, that “there is going to be some hard fighting over the next couple of months.”

He apparently was referring to the summer “fighting season” that’s traditionally racked Afghanistan and that this year will see a drive to clear the Taliban from the southern city of Kandahar that’s being supplemented by an additional 30,000 U.S. troops.

The joint news conference was the public high point of a tightly scripted four-day visit in which Karzai was feted, praised and lavished with the full red-carpet treatment by the U.S. administration, which is determined to reset a relationship scarred by feuding and anti-American tirades by the Afghan leader amid record bloodshed.

The administration concluded that the tensions were an obstacle to Afghan cooperation on a number of fronts central to Obama’s strategy, especially the operations to drive the Taliban from their strongholds in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, turn them over to government control and jump-start economic development.

Moreover, U.S. officials want to reassure Karzai and ordinary Afghans – as well as regional powers that already are jockeying for influence – that the U.S. troop drawdown doesn’t mean that the United States will abandon Afghanistan as it did after the 1979-89 Soviet occupation, which was followed by a vicious 12-year civil war.

“We are not suddenly as of July 2011 finished with Afghanistan,” Obama said. “This is a long-term partnership that is not simply defined by our military presence.”

Obama and Karzai sought to present a portrait of unity, saying that progress is being made by the U.S.-led counterinsurgency campaign, by an American effort to avert civilian casualties and by Karzai on his vows to clean up narcotics-fueled corruption and boost public services, the rule of law and good governance.

“Our solidarity today sends an unmistakable message to those who would stand in the way of Afghanistan’s progress,” Obama said. “They will try to drive us apart, but we will partner with the Afghan people for the long term, toward a future of greater security, prosperity, justice and progress. And I am absolutely convinced we will succeed.”

Obama conceded that “there are going to be tensions in such a complicated and difficult environment and in a situation in which, on the ground, both Afghans and Americans are making enormous sacrifices.”

However, he said, a lot of “perceived tensions” between the sides “were simply overstated.”

“It’s a real relationship,” Karzai agreed. “It’s based on some very hard realities. We are in a campaign against terrorism together. There are days that we are happy. There are days that we are not happy.

“The bottom line is that we are much more strongly related to each other than we ever were before. That is a good message that I will take back to the Afghan people.”

U.S.-led international efforts have made considerable progress in helping to bring stability, education, health care and development to many parts of the country of 32 million people since the 2001 invasion drove the Taliban and al-Qaida leadership into neighboring Pakistan.

However, the Taliban and allied groups – aided by al-Qaida and the former Bush administration’s diversion of U.S. forces, time and money to Iraq – staged a major comeback that’s surged as U.S. commanders struggle to implement Obama’s strategy.

New reports on the Afghan army and police – each a crucial element of Obama’s plan to transfer responsibility for districts cleared of insurgents to Afghan government control as the U.S. troop drawdown begins – underscore the enormous hurdles that persist.

A report released Wednesday by the International Crisis Group, a respected conflict-prevention organization, says that the Afghan army is suffused with corruption, desertions, ethnic tensions and disputes between its highest leaders.

The report warns that Obama’s plan to expand the Afghan National Army to 240,000 troops from 90,000 by 2013 could worsen those problems and “risk the army’s disintegration after the withdrawal of international forces.”

A report by the Rand Corp. research center on the Afghan Civil Order Police, an elite unit that’s playing a key role in Helmand and Kandahar, found that the contingent is infected with the same problems of corruption and ineptitude that plague other police forces.

ANCOP members have set up checkpoints to shake down residents, been kicked out of the unit for drug use and been shunned in some areas as outsiders, according to U.S. officials briefed on the Rand Corp. analysis, who spoke to McClatchy only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Relations between Kabul and Washington have been brittle since Obama took office last year, shaken by U.S. criticism of Karzai’s failure to crack down on official corruption, his dubious dependability, his reliance on a patronage network of warlords and family members, and the massive fraud that marred his re-election to another term last August.

For his part, Karzai has complained about civilian casualties caused by U.S. military operations and launched tirades against the United States and his other international backers, reflecting his unpopularity among ordinary Afghans, who are angry that the war is still raging nearly nine years after the U.S.-led invasion.

“We have an interest in reducing civilian casualties not because it’s a problem for President Karzai. We have an interest in reducing civilian casualties because I don’t want civilians killed,” said Obama, who noted that the Taliban have killed more civilians.

A Pentagon report last month said the overall level of violence in Afghanistan rose 87 percent from February 2009 to March 2010. More than 1,760 international troops – including 1,068 Americans – have been killed, according to iCasualties.org, a website that tracks casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tens of thousands of Afghan security forces, officials and civilians have been killed and wounded. There are currently 102,000 troops from 46 nations, including the United States, in Afghanistan. There will be 98,000 U.S. troops there when the surge is completed later this summer.

Harold and Kumar go from White Castle to the White House

Kal Penn

Washington DC, USA- Actor Kal Penn, best known as Kumar for his “Harold and Kumar” movies and a stint on the TV smash hit “House”, started his first day officially in the Obama administration as the Associate Director in the Office of Public Liaison, with a focus on connecting President Obama with the Asian American communities as well as arts and entertainment groups.

Penn had campaigned extensively for Obama throughout the country leading up to the elections and had become a huge hit on college campuses nationwide due mainly to his Hollywood celebrity status and his large cult following among the youth because of his “Harold and Kumar go to White Castle” and the sequel “Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo” movies depicting the misadventures of two New Jersey guys.  He also appeared in roles on the television hit shows “24”, “House”, and other notable movies such as “Van Wilder” and “The Namesake” among others, making him the most successful Indian American actor today.

Penn explained that he felt “incredibly honored to get the opportunity to go to work in the Obama White House” and that he got to know the President during the campaign and expressed his interest to in working for the administration in some capacity. Although his White House job pays a fraction of what he made yearly as an actor,  he stated that he had always been interested in politics and public service ever since he heard stories from his father about his grandfather marching with Gandhi back in India for freedom from the British.

Kal Penn’s main focus as Associate Director in the Office of Public Liaison will be to act as the point person for the affluent and rapidly growing community of South Asian Americans from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, colloquially known amongst themselves as Desi or countrymen in Hindi and Urdu. He will also be Obama’s main contact to the entertainment and arts community and as an actor brings an array of contacts with the influential Hollywood community.

Penn’s appointment in the Obama White House is a great step in bringing to attention and putting a face on the often forgotten but very important segment of American society comprising of South Asians who are some of the most successful businessmen and women and also is the ethnic group with both the highest average educational qualifications and earnings of any national origin group of people in the United States. Although it is not believed he will be instrumental in any foreign policy endeavors relating to India and Pakistan’s conflict, it will nonetheless help the community at large in the US knowing that they have a specific person in the White House charged with South Asian Americans issues and concerns from an American perspective. We at Pakistanis for Peace have always enjoyed Kal Penn’s movies and roles, and look forward to his contributions in the Obama administration as a liaison for the Desi community in the United States.

 

Manzer Munir reporting for www.PakistanisforPeace.com

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