General Petraeus Rejects Trump's Charges of "Lies and Deceit" Against Pakistan

General David Petraeus, former CIA director and commander and US Forces in Afghanistan, has rejected  President Donald Trump's charges of "lies and deceit" against Pakistan.  He did so back in late 2016. Here's a brief excerpt of what he said:

"I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again as CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA).... I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions (as US commander and CIA director)".

Here's a short video clip of it:

https://youtu.be/01ghm5V3Wn4





Here's a longer blog post I wrote about it back in November, 2016 after Petraeus spoke at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London:


General David Petraeus, former CIA director and commander of US troops in Afghanistan, has said there is no evidence of Pakistan playing a double game and supporting terrorists in Afghanistan. Petraeus' remarks are now particularly significant given the fact that he is on a short list of President-Elect Donald Trump's nominees for Secretary of State.  He was answering a question posed to him at a presentation at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a British security think tank based in London.

Is Pakistan Duplicitous?

The question was asked by a female Afghan Ph.D. student at the end of remarks by the general on "Security Challenges Facing the Next US Administration". Here's the question:

"General you have stated that democracies can not win long wars (General Petraeus interrupted and said he did not say that and added "in fact I take issue with that" as the student continued). Afghanistan is now US's longest war. What stops the US to win the long war..whether Pakistan intelligence is the cause of the long war? Why does the US not take action against the Pakistan ISI which continues killing and supporting terrorists?"

General David H. Petraeus's response:

Here's part of Gen Petraeus' response: "I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again as CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA).... I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions (as US commander and CIA director)".

Gen Petraeus did acknowledge that "there's communication between the ISI and various militant groups in FATA and Balochistan (Haqqanis, Taliban, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, etc) but some of it you'd do anyway as an intelligence service." He added that "there may be some degree of accommodation that is forced on them (Pakistanis) because of the limits of their (Pakistan's) forces."

US-Pakistan Ties:

On the question of the nature of US-Pakistan relations and Washington's influence in Islamabad, General Petraeus said:

"Some people say Pakistan is a frenemy...it is just very very difficult to pin down (blame on Pakistan) and it's even more difficult to figure out how to exert leverage that in a meaningful way resolves the issue.  There was a period when we cut off all assistance and ties (to Pakistan) and held up F-16s that we were supposed to deliver for a while and that did not help our influence there (in Pakistan). It's a very very tough situation and it may be among the top two or three challenges for the new administration right up there with Syria".

General Petraeus acknowledged Pakistan's cooperation and sacrifices in fighting terror in the following words:

“Pakistan Army suffered casualties and had limited Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities though the US did try to help and there existed enormous amount of cooperation between the two militaries. However, the unfortunate episodes of Raymond Davis and publications of book by Bob Woodward and WikiLeaks did impact negatively on this cooperation”.

Summary:

General David H. Petraeus has thoroughly debunked intense and ongoing media propaganda campaign of allegations of duplicity against Pakistan Army and ISI. He has also ruled out cutting ties with Pakistan as an option. His recommendations have now assumed added significance because he is now on a short list of President-Elect Trump's nominees for secretary of state.

Here's the video of General Petraeus at RUSI. His remarks on Pakistan are in the last 8 minutes of the video:

Brief 1-minute clip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01ghm5V3Wn4




Complete Video of  Presentation by Gen Petraeus:

https://youtu.be/4vxSwUrY1E0




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Husain Haqqani vs Riaz Haq on India vs Pakistan

Impact of Trump's Top Picks on Pakistan

Husain Haqqani Advising Trump on Pakistan Policy?

Gall-Haqqani-Paul Narrative on Pakistan

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-US-Japan

Robert Gates' Straight Talk on Pakistan's "Lies and Deceit"

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
There is little that is, or ever will be, new in #Trump’s #Pakistan policy. Why? Because #Pakistan has all the leverage over #Trump. #TrumpDumpsPak #Afghanistan

http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/01/03/pakistan-has-all-the-leverage-over-trump/

Even as the tweet continued to titillate Trump enthusiasts in India and at home, however, the responsible members of Trump’s government were strategizing how to roll it back. Later that same day, a White House National Security Council spokesperson explained what, specifically, to expect: “The United States does not plan to spend the $255 million in FY 2016 foreign military financing for Pakistan at this time.” This is not the sweeping cutoff that Trump implied in his braggadocios tweet.

In fact, there is little that is, or ever will be, new in Trump’s Pakistan policy.In fact, there is little that is, or ever will be, new in Trump’s Pakistan policy. That’s true for two simple reasons: the logistics of staying the course in Afghanistan and the night terrors triggered by imagining how terrifying Pakistan could be without American money.


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Without an alternative port, the United States will have no choice but to continue working with Pakistan if it wants to remain engaged in Afghanistan, as Trump intends to do. (The proposed troop surge is now complete with about 14,000 U.S. troops in the country.) While Trump can tweet whatever he wants about Pakistan or Iran, the professionals on his staff know the truth: U.S. policy in Afghanistan requires a port with road or rail access to Afghanistan. This administration — like each one before — has cast its lot with Pakistan. And this administration will confront the same failures as its predecessors. Logistics will beat strategy every time.

Riaz Haq said…
Declining #US payments (from $2.6 billion in 2012 to $526m now) to #Pakistan translate into declining leverage over it. Pakistan with its #NATO supply lines now has more leverage over #Trump than vice versa.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/the-decline-and-change-in-us-aid-to-pakistan/articleshow/62360594.cms …

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/948790284346843137
Riaz Haq said…
Trump's message: If Afghanistan isn't going well, Pakistan's to blame

Analysis by Nick Paton Walsh, CNN

Updated 10:19 AM ET, Fri January 5, 2018

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/05/asia/trump-pakistan-analysis-walsh-intl/index.html

Afghanistan is experiencing its worst security crisis in perhaps more than a decade, with ISIS moving into its least stable areas. In the past week, Afghan officials reported that three French nationals were among a group of ISIS fighters killed by an airstrike.
US officials declined to comment on whether French nationals had managed to join ISIS's new redoubt, but ISIS are finding it easier to get a foothold in the country, partly because NATO allies are so utterly exhausted with trying to "win" in Afghanistan.

But you can't begin to win in Afghanistan unless youshave the assistance of Pakistan. Pressure on Pakistan is a keystone of something quite rare: an actual set of policy goals and objectives laid out by the Trump administration, specifically over how to "win" in Afghanistan.
It's been tried before: the Obama administration pushed Islamabad into military operations in its tribal border regions to crack down on the Pakistani Taliban, but also the Afghan Taliban and other militants the group sometimes shelters in its midst. The Obama White House offered billions worth of aid in an attempt to sway Pakistan's hand, and threatened -- often in the pages of the New York Times -- to reduce the funding if they didn't see results. Towards the end, they too froze some aid.
But the Trump administration is -- rhetorically at least -- protesting louder, freezing all aid not mandated by law, the State Department said Thursday. It's unclear exactly how much that effects, but here's what could happen now:

But the Trump administration is -- rhetorically at least -- protesting louder, freezing all aid not mandated by law, the State Department said Thursday. It's unclear exactly how much that effects, but here's what could happen now:
1. Pakistani officials dig in, taking the broader view that the Trump administration is a short-lived outlier in the global community, and deciding that they don't need to launch a massive and costly military operation in the tribal areas that will bring reprisals to their populated cities. They decide to live without the money, for now, cut off the land supply route into Afghanistan that the American operations there depend upon, and wait it out. Security in Afghanistan continues to worsen, and eventually the US tries to restore aid and relations to get Pakistan on side again.
2. Pakistan launches some short-lived and tokenistic operations against the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, which has been behind a lot of the more sophisticated attacks in Afghanistan. The US beings to pay the aid money again, and the Pakistani military elite -- who run a lot of the country and economy -- keep seeing the millions they depend upon. Not a huge amount changes, but the point is made, likely to the sacrifice of Pakistani lives.
3. There's a fudge: Pakistan keeps letting the US use the land route to resupply its 14,000 troops in Afghanistan (that's a very expensive 42,000 meals that would otherwise have to be flown daily into a landlocked country). The US slowly allows some "exceptions" to the aid ban to increase, and essentially most of the money keeps coming. But Trump has made his rhetorical point.
Related: Trump's White House chaos leaves world with room to breathe
Many of the key decision makers around Trump have personal history in Afghanistan. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis served there, as did National Security Advisor HR McMaster. Chief of Staff John Kelly's son -- a Marine -- died there.
The move to censure Pakistan may not be a new tactic for Washington, but it is steeped in these men's mutual shared past, and suggests a renewed focus on America's longest -- and ongoing -- war.
Riaz Haq said…
Will #Pakistan use “weapons of mass migration” in asymmetrical response to #Trump’s moves to insult, intimidate and squeeze Pakistan? #Afghan #Taliban #Terror

https://orientalreview.org/2018/01/05/pakistans-asymmetrical-response-trump-clever-way-flip-tables-afghanistan/

Pakistan’s announcement that it will seek the expulsion of over 1,5 million Afghan refugees in the next 30 days is being tacitly justified by Trump’s tweet and channels his zero-tolerance stance towards immigration from “terrorist”-prone states, but it also represents the employment of reverse-“Weapons of Mass Migration” in pushing Kabul closer towards the edge of collapse and consequently filling the Taliban’s rank of supporters.

Trump is going to soon regret what he tweeted about Pakistan on New Year’s Day in accusing it of “giving safe haven to terrorists”, since Islamabad is poised to hit Washington with an asymmetrical counterpunch that it surely won’t forget.

The Pakistani government just announced that over 1,5 million Afghan refugees must leave the country within the next 30 days, a plan that it’s been working on for a while but which just received a fresh impetus and internationally-acceptable justification with Trump’s tweet.

Had it not been for the American President’s zero-tolerance towards immigration from what his administration labels as “terrorist”-prone countries, which crucially includes Afghanistan for substantial and not political reasons (as the latter relates to Iran’s inclusion and Saudi Arabia’s exclusion), then Pakistan would have risked drawing heavy pressure from the State Department on exaggerated claims that it’s “violating the human rights” of the refugees.

Trump, however, said that Pakistan was “giving safe haven to terrorists”, and since the US formally regards Afghan refugees as being too much of a potential security hazard to allow into its own country, it’s forced to accept Pakistan’s expulsion of 1,5 million of them on the implicit basis that they also constitute a serious terrorist threat to the state such as the one that the President just tweeted about.

This isn’t at all what Trump meant when he issued his tweet, nor the reaction that he was expecting, but by cleverly exploiting the President’s own policies at home and the suggestion he was making towards Pakistan abroad, Islamabad found a creative way to asymmetrically strike back at Washington.


Not only could Pakistan soon rid itself of actual terrorist sleeper cells and societal malcontents who have long overstayed their welcome in the neighboring country, it will also be catalyzing a series of cascading crises for Kabul through the employment of what can be described as reverse-“Weapons of Mass Migration”.

To briefly explain, Ivy League researcher Kelly M. Greenhill introduced the concept of “Weapons of Mass Migration” in 2010 to describe the ways through which large-scale population movements — whether “naturally occurring”, engineered, or exploited — impact on their origin, transit, and destination societies, theorizing that this phenomenon can have a strategic use in some instances.

Of relevance, the influx of millions of Afghan “Weapons of Mass Migration” into Pakistan since 1979 had the effect of destabilizing the host country’s border communities and eventually contributing to the spree of terrorist attacks that have since claimed over 60,000 lives in the past 15 years, but now the large-scale and rapid return of these “weapons” to their country of origin will also inevitably destabilize Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said…
China’s aid to Pakistan aims for fundamental improvement in economic conditions
By Wang Jiamei Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/7 23:43:39

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1083768.shtml


China should pay more attention this year to the quality and effectiveness of its economic cooperation with and assistance to Pakistan, as ties are set to get closer amid hostility from the US.

After US President Donald Trump used Twitter to slam Pakistan for harboring terrorists, the US State Department said on Thursday that it would suspend security assistance to Pakistan until the country takes decisive action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, according to Reuters.

As US aid to Pakistan has already been on the decline in recent years, the latter is reportedly concerned about the potential impact of this latest move on its fragile economy. While the US seems unlikely to impose comprehensive economic sanctions on Pakistan, its hostile attitude toward Pakistan is expected to exert certain pressure on the economy, especially for Pakistani companies with Iran-related business.

In these circumstances, it makes perfect sense for Pakistan to shift its foreign policy focus toward China and Russia. The day after Trump's strongly worded tweet, Pakistan's central bank announced that it will be replacing the US dollar with the yuan for bilateral trade and investment with China, a move seen as a clear signal of closer ties.

China will, of course, continue its economic support to Pakistan. China sees Pakistan as a prime partner under the Belt and Road initiative, with land and sea projects worth billions of dollars (known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) under construction. The key to China's cooperation with and assistance to Pakistan will be to improve the quality of bilateral cooperation so that relevant projects can boost the Pakistani economy as soon as possible.

It should be made clear that such China-Pakistan cooperation is not meant as competition for geopolitical advantage with the US, but to really help the Pakistani economy by strengthening its infrastructure. Sustainable economic development in Pakistan will play a positive role in stabilizing the geopolitical environment in South Asia, which will be conducive to overall regional development.

In addition, India needs to change its view of Pakistan. It is reported that the US move to cut aid to Pakistan was a result of India Prime Minister Narendra Modi's diplomacy, according to a tweet by BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao. This mindset of harming others without gaining any benefiting oneself will only aggravate the confrontation, dragging each other down.
Riaz Haq said…
Wolff Book: How Trump ‘Lost It’ In Afghanistan, While India, Pakistan Don’t Figure At All

https://thewire.in/211599/trump-meltdown-afghanistan-us-priority-south-asia-not-india-pakistan/

Fire and Fury makes no mention of the two largest countries in South Asia but has a vivid account of how the US president “lost it” when confronted with a plan to send more troops to Afghanistan.

The reason for Bannon’s exultation was Trump exploding in anger and threatening to fire all US generals after they couldn’t give him any alternative to the troop increase proposal.

The generals were punting and waffling and desperately trying to save face – they were, according to Bannon, talking pure “gobbledygook” in the situation room. “Trump was standing up to them,” said a happy Bannon. “Hammering them. He left a bowel movement in the middle of their Afghan plans. Again and again, he came back to the same point: we’re stuck and losing and nobody here has a plan to do much better than that.”

Before this meeting, the US military had expected to give a green signal to their proposal after weeks of negotiation – and therefore, the apparent meltdown came out of the blue.

According to Wolff, Trump “angrily railed” for two hours “against the mess he had been handed in Afghanistan”.

He threatened to fire almost every general in the chain of command. He couldn’t fathom, he said, how it had taken so many months of study to come up with this nothing-much-different plan. He disparaged the advice that came from generals and praised the advice from enlisted men.


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Deputy national security advisor Dina Powell suggested that the “moderate, best-case, easiest-to-sell course” was to send around “send four, five, six, or (tops) seven thousand troops”.

Powell even helped design a PowerPoint deck that McMaster began using with the president: pictures of Kabul in the 1970s when it still looked something like a modern city. It could be like this again, the president was told, if we are resolute.

Bannon had also master-minded a mediacampaignagainst McMaster, which had led to a counter campaign by Kushner and Powell. According to Vox, between July 21 and Aug 22, Breitbart News carried 60 mostly negative articles on McMaster.

It was the establishment and never-Trumpers against the America-first Trumpkins. In many respects, Bannon was outgunned and outnumbered, yet he still thought he had it nailed. And when he won, not only would another grievously drafted chapter in the war in Afghanistan be avoided, but ‘Jarvanka’, and Powell, their factotum, would be further consigned to irrelevance and powerlessness.

The National Security Council proposed three options – withdrawal, outsourcing to private contractors and the CIA as suggested byBlackwater founder Erik Prince, and a limited surge.

Withdrawal was apparently taken off the story as it “still left Donald Trump with having lost a war, an insupportable position for the president”.

The second option, which was propped up by Bannon, was opposed by the CIA, wrote Wolff.

The agency had spent 16 years successfully avoiding Afghanistan, and everyone knew that careers were not advanced in Afghanistan, they died in Afghanistan. So please keep us out of it.

This left the only the third option, which was the reason for the confidence among the military brass that Trump would sign off on it.

But on July 19, at a meeting of the national security team in the situation room at the White House, Trump “lost it”.

Retelling a known story?

It took another month to make Trump to agree on the troop increase, which was unveiled as the Afghanistan and South Asia strategy on August 21 – with a side of tough love for Pakistan. Three days earlier, Bannon had officially left the White House. Around 3800 US troops were sent to Afghanistan, with the total number exceeding 15,000.

The July 19 meeting – and the in-fighting in the White House over the troop surge – gives credence to some of the complaints from mainstream US reporters that much of the information in Wolff’s book was already in the public domain.
Riaz Haq said…
#China Opposed to #US 'finger-pointing' at #Pakistan on #terrorism-related issues. #Trump #Afghanistan #Taliban http://toi.in/K_C8Jb/a24gk via @TOIWorld

China on Monday said it is opposed to the US "finger-pointing" at Pakistan+ and linking it with terrorism, insisting that the responsibility of cracking down on terror outfits cannot be placed on a particular country.
China's support for its all-weather ally came as the US stepped up its efforts to pressure Pakistan+ to eliminate terror safe havens on its soil.
The US last week suspended approximately $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan for its failure to take decisive action against terror groups like the Taliban and the Haqqani Network.
"China has always opposed linking terrorism with any certain country and we don't agree to place the responsibility of anti terrorism on a certain country," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing.

He was responding to a question on a White House official's remarks that China could play helpful role in convincing Pakistan+ that it was in its national interest to crackdown on terror safe havens.
"We have stressed many times that Pakistan has made important sacrifices and contributions to the global anti terrorism cause," Lu said.
"Countries should strengthen anti-terrorism cooperation on the basis of mutual respect instead of finger-pointing at each other. This is not conducive to the global terrorism efforts," he said.

China has been vocal in extending support to Pakistan since US President Donald Trump increased rhetoric against Islamabad providing safe havens for terrorists.
Trump in a New Year's Day tweet accused the country of giving nothing to the US but "lies and deceit" and providing "safe haven" to terrorists in return for $33 billion aid over the last 15 years.
Chinese media has been speculating that Trump's efforts to step up pressure on Pakistan may move it closer to Beijing as China is involved in a number of projects in the country under the $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Chinese official media is highlighting reports that Pakistan may allow China to build a a military base at Jiwani located close to Iran's Chabahar port, which is being jointly developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan. Jiwani is also close to the strategic Gwadar port in Balochistan which is being developed by China.
While defending Pakistan, Lu said China at the same time backed international counter terrorism efforts.

"First and foremost, I would like to say that terrorism is the common enemy of the international community. Cracking down of terrorism calls for the joint efforts from the international community," he said.
"Actually, China is defending countries that have been making anti-terrorism efforts in a just and fair way. China also welcomes all the global joint efforts in terms of counter terrorism on the basis of mutual trust and mutual respect," he said.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of Pakistan-hating American analyst Christine Fair's piece in the Atlantic: "Pakistan Will Try to Make Trump Pay":
The country has banked on being treated as too dangerous to fail. But this time could be different.


https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/trump-pakistan/549887/

Pakistan likely suspects it has the upper hand, and for good reason: It has cultivated a global fear that it is too dangerous to fail. This is why many Americans have been afraid to break ties with Pakistan and have never encouraged the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral organizations to cut off the country and let Pakistan wallow in its own mess. Pakistan believes it has effectively bribed the international community with the specter that any instability could result in terrorists getting their hands on Pakistani nuclear technology, fissile materials, or a weapon. In fact, Pakistan has stoked these fears by having the world’s fastest-growing nuclear program, including of battlefield nuclear weapons. It is conceivable that Pakistan could use funds from a future IMF bailout to service its burgeoning Chinese debt.
Riaz Haq said…
"Without Pakistani cooperation, our army in Afghanistan risks becoming a beached whale." -Former US ambassador to #Pakistan Richard Olson on the potential costs of Trump's tougher policy.

How Not to Engage With Pakistan
By RICHARD G. OLSONJAN. 9, 2018


Pakistan has greater leverage over us than many imagine.

The keys to understanding Pakistan’s policy and the limitations of American options lie in geography and history. Pakistan essentially amounts to a relatively indefensible sliver astride the Indus River, with flat plains in the east and mountain redoubts populated by hostile tribes in the west. This fragile geography would not matter if not for Pakistan’s long history of enmity toward its far larger neighbor, India.

Since its founding in 1947, Pakistan has defined itself as a national security state in opposition to the Indian behemoth to its east. Pakistanis have long dreaded the prospect of Indian tanks from the adjoining plains of Indian Punjab rolling unimpeded into Lahore and beyond. We may not agree with how Pakistan assesses the threat from India, but in my experience, almost all Pakistanis perceive India as an existential threat.

Because of its real and perceived geographic precariousness, Pakistan has naturally gravitated toward asymmetric military solutions — specifically, the use of proxies. The Pakistani Army and, especially, its spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, have clandestinely supported all manner of anti-India and anti-Afghan groups.

During the 1980s, the United States found it convenient to support some of these proxies against the Soviets in Afghanistan. That policy ended in 1989 as the Soviet war in Afghanistan wound down. Under the 1990 Pressler Amendment, we punished Pakistan for development of nuclear weapons by cutting off security assistance.

But Pakistan, having these groups on its territory and a large Pashtun population of its own, never had an easy option of breaking with Afghan militants. And it has continued to allow the Taliban, including the Haqqani network — a group the United States supported during the Reagan era — to operate from its territory and at critical moments has provided quiet support.

The geography that defines Pakistan’s security worries has also been a bane for the United States. For the past 16 years our military efforts in landlocked Afghanistan have been dependent on transit through and especially overflight of Pakistani territory. Absent an implausible similar arrangement with Iran, other options are not good. Supply through the Central Asian states to the north is theoretically possible, but would rely on Russian good will. Enough said. Without Pakistani cooperation, our army in Afghanistan risks becoming a beached whale.

The American solution has been a robust package of assistance to Pakistan, beginning with the Bush administration in 2001. The United States sought to reimburse Pakistan for the costs of supporting our war in Afghanistan. In the eyes of the Pakistanis, this became payment for their war against domestic terrorism, which has cost Pakistan 50,000 lives and untold billions, and was widely perceived as a bad deal.

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The harsh truth is that American leverage over Rawalpindi and Islamabad has been declining. And as United States aid levels have diminished — reflecting bipartisan unhappiness with Pakistani policy — aid from the Chinese has increased. China has invested around $62 billion in Pakistani infrastructure under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, an element of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. Its magnitude and its transformation of parts of Pakistan dwarf anything the United States has ever undertaken.

---------------.

...the path of the tweet and highly public aid cuts is not a method that will engender success. The United States can address Afghanistan only with a political initiative.
Riaz Haq said…
The C.I.A.’s Maddening Relationship with Pakistan

By Nicholas Schmidle3:56 P.M.


https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-cias-maddening-relationship-with-pakistan

“Here’s the truth,” a former senior U.S. intelligence official told me. Pakistan has been “in many ways” America’s best counterterrorism partner, the official said. “Nobody had taken more bad guys off the battlefield than the Pakistanis.”

And, in general, Pakistani coöperation with America’s counterterrorism campaign has been strong: their government permitted the C.I.A. to fly armed drones over Pakistan’s remote tribal areas, where many militants hid. Initially, the agency even based its drones on Pakistani soil, working off a list jointly drawn up with its I.S.I. counterparts. As those on the “target deck” were killed, new names—most of them foreign Al Qaeda leaders—were added.
Riaz Haq said…
Directorate S author Steve Coll with Terry Gross on NPR Fresh Air

https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=583625482

When the Bush administration went into Afghanistan right after September 11, in those conversations, they said, well, what are our really important, vital interests that justify this war? And they said there are really two. One is al-Qaida. We've got to disrupt them, got to destroy them. And the other was, we've got to keep Pakistan stable so that its nuclear weapons don't fall into the wrong hands.

----------

the Obama administration came back to the same question of war aims that had really befuddled the Bush administration. The reviews concluded that there were really only two vital interests in Afghanistan, the kinds of interests that would justify putting young American men and women in harm's way. One was al-Qaida and the other was the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. But in 2009, when these reviews were taking place, neither of those problems really existed in Afghanistan. Al-Qaida had left Afghanistan and was now in Pakistan in a serious way.

And of course, Pakistan's nuclear weapons were across the border. So they talked themselves into fighting a kind of indirect war. Well, we'll go to Afghanistan, we'll fight the Taliban to prevent Afghanistan from collapsing because if it collapsed, al-Qaida would come back. And the general instability of that war might mess up Pakistan and jeopardize the security of its nukes. So it's a very convoluted conclusion. And at the heart of it was President Obama, who really did not want to fight a war against the Taliban.

Some of his generals did. President Obama saw that that was a very long slog, and he didn't see that the U.S. public would support such a war indefinitely. We were in the middle of the recession at that point. So...

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You know who our boss is, President Obama. Who are you (Taliban rep Tayyab Agha)? We don't even know that you know who Mullah Mohammed Omar is or that you have anybody's authority to be doing this. How can you prove to us that you have authority to really negotiate toward an end to the war? And so they work out these secret protocols where he places messages in the Taliban's media system in the name of Mullah Mohammed Omar.

He brings them a proof-of-life video of Bowe Bergdahl, the Army specialist who had been captured by part of the Taliban, the Haqqani network. And even at one point, he brought a letter from Mullah Mohammed Omar addressed to President Obama. It was sort of on Taliban stationery. But it wasn't, you know, very formal stationery. And the gist of the letter was, Mr. President, you know, I've had to take a lot of hard decisions to talk peace. You should take some hard decisions. Let's get this done.

And the negotiations went on for, let's see, three years or so until they reached a point where there was a deal to open a Taliban office in Qatar, which was the step that would proceed what the Americans hoped would be very serious negotiations to end the war and find a settlement. And the whole negotiation over that office was a fiasco. It alienated President Karzai. It blew up and the Taliban walked away from the whole deal.

---------

In Afghanistan, for some reason, we just don't seem to have the capacity - haven't had the capacity to do that. And I do fear that the Trump administration, which doesn't seem to think the State Department is a very important part of its foreign policy, is pretty much the last administration that's going to take on the really complicated and uncertain challenges of that kind of negotiation.
Riaz Haq said…
My trip to Pakistan’s ‘Jihadi Disneyland’
A fact-finding tour of Waziristan, formerly the most dangerous place in the world
Freddy Gray

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/02/my-trip-to-pakistans-jihadi-disneyland/

Not so long ago, Barack Obama called Waziristan ‘the most dangerous place in the world’. It was the losing front in the war on terror, a lawless region in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan infested with Taleban and terrorism. Today, thanks to the Pakistan army, even a risk-averse hack like me can go there with scarcely a tremor. On Wednesday, as part of a British media delegation, I flew by military helicopter to Miranshah, the administrative HQ of north Waziristan. The soldiers took us to a newly built ‘markaz (hideout) re-enactment’ centre, which we quickly renamed Jihadi Disneyland. It is a true-to-life terrorist den, constructed by Pakistani soldiers with extraordinary attention to detail. The idea, I think, is to educate future generations about the terrorists’ way of life. But it feels more like a show home for wannabe bin Ladens, featuring everything an aspiring holy warrior might want in his property. There’s an American Humvee parked in the courtyard, a massive weapons stash and a couple of goats tethered to a tree. There’s also a brightly decorated room for brainwashing child suicide bombers, with framed pictures of some of the 72 virgins awaiting the lad when he has done his duty. Plus some fruit. The pièce de résistance is a torture chamber in the underground tunnel network. ‘This is where they do the beheadings,’ said the proud colonel showing us round.



We then went on a bus tour of Miranshah, which is being reconstructed as a model Tribal Area town. The security forces talked about establishing ‘new normalcy’, but the atmosphere was strange, something like an enormous public school not quite ready for the new term. Miranshah has a sports ground, outdoor communal areas, educational facilities, a hospital, even a ‘tuck shop’. It was eerily empty. I couldn’t tell if that was because not many people really lived there or because the army, worried that we might be attacked, had shut the town down. ‘Why are all the signs in English?’ asked one of our group. ‘Oh that’s for the visitors,’ replied the colonel. ‘The locals, they know their way around.’


It’s vile to be cynical, especially in a country that has suffered so much. That same day, just six kilometres from where we were, two soldiers were killed in a rocket attack. Some 70,000 Pakistanis have now died — ‘embraced martyrdom’ is the official idiom — in the US-led war on terror. You can see why Pakistan’s government gets upset when Donald Trump accuses them on Twitter of harbouring terrorists and offering nothing but ‘lies and deceit’.


Our press trip, organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, was meant to correct such misperceptions. We knew we were being spun, but it was impossible not to fall in love with the Pakistanis’ eccentric PR-style. In the Prime Minister’s office in Islamabad, Nasser Khan Janjua, the national security adviser, told us that Pakistan was ‘a scapegoat’. ‘Those who fight us blame us, those who side with us blame us,’ he said. He didn’t want to be gloomy, however, so for the last part of our interview he transmogrified into a representative of the tourism board and spent ten minutes showing us slides of his favourite parts of Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan slipping out of #America's influence, say #CIA and 16 other #US# intelligence agencies. #Afghanistan #Trump #India #Russia

https://www.dawn.com/news/1389542

Seventeen US intelligence agencies have warned Congress that Pakistan will continue to slip out of America’s influence and into China’s orbit in 2019, and will become a threat to Washington’s interests in the South Asian region.

The review is part of an annual report that Director of US National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, underlining worldwide threat assessment of the American intelligence community.

The 17 agencies that jointly produced this report include Central Intelligence Agency, Defence Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency.

Pakistan

In their report on Pakistan, the agencies warned that the country will continue to threaten US interests by “deploying new nuclear weapons capabilities, maintaining its ties to militants, restricting counterterrorism cooperation, and drawing closer to China”.

The report claimed that Islamabad-backed militant groups will continue to take advantage of their alleged safe haven in Pakistan to “plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests”.

The agencies also warned Pakistan’s perception of its “eroding position relative to India, reinforced by endemic economic weakness and domestic security issues, almost certainly will exacerbate long-held fears of isolation and drive Islamabad’s pursuit of actions that run counter to US goals for the region”.

In a brief assessment of Islamabad’s nuclear programme, US intelligence agencies informed Congress that Pakistan continues to produce nuclear weapons and develop new types, including short-range tactical weapons, sea-based cruise missiles, air-launched cruise missiles, and longer-range ballistic missiles.

“These new types of nuclear weapons will introduce new risks for escalation dynamics and security in the region,” the report added.

India-Pakistan Tension

US agencies also expect relations between India and Pakistan to remain tense, with continued violence on the Line of Control and “the risk of escalation if there is another high-profile terrorist attack in India or an uptick in violence on the Line of Control”.

India-China Tension

The agencies informed Congress that in 2019, relations between India and China will remain tense and will possibly deteriorate further, despite the negotiated settlement to their three-month border standoff in August.

This “elevates the risk of unintentional escalation”, the report added.

Afghanistan

The US intelligence community expects the overall situation in Afghanistan to “deteriorate modestly” this year in the face of persistent political instability, sustained attacks by the Taliban-led insurgency, unsteady Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) performance, and chronic financial shortfalls.

The agencies warned that the National Unity government in Kabul “probably will struggle” to hold long-delayed parliamentary elections, currently scheduled for July 2018, and to prepare for a presidential election in 2019.

“The ANSF probably will maintain control of most major population centres with coalition force support, but the intensity and geographic scope of Taliban activities will put those centres under continued strain,” the agencies assessed.

The agencies believe that Afghanistan’s economic growth will stagnate at around 2.5 per cent per year, and Kabul will remain reliant on international donors for the great majority of its funding well beyond 2018.

Russia

US intelligence agencies see Russia as bringing pressure on Central Asia’s leaders to reduce engagement with Washington and support Russian-led economic and security initiatives, and believe that “concerns about [the militant Islamic State group] in Afghanistan will push Moscow to strengthen its security posture in the region”.
Riaz Haq said…
Bob Woodward quotes Dr. Peter Lavoy, staffer in charge of South Asia for Obama's NSC, in his book "Fear" as follows:


"There are literally thousands of sub-tribes in Afghanistan. Each has a grievance. If the Taliban cease to exist you would still have an insurgency in Afghanistan".


https://books.google.com/books?id=wKRkDwAAQBAJ&q=subtribes#v=snippet&q=lavoy&f=false
Riaz Haq said…
Senator Lindsey Graham: #Trump should meet #Pakistan's leader #PMImranKhan to reset relations. #Afghanistan https://thehill.com/policy/international/426240-graham-trump-should-meet-pakistans-leader-to-reset-relations#.XEZcNtf6WSE.twitter

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) during a visit to Islamabad said that he believes President Trump should meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in order to reset relations, the latest signal that the relationship between the two countries could be warming.

“I’ve seen things change here and all in a positive direction,” Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said during a news conference, according to Reuters. Khan was elected prime minister of Pakistan over the summer.

“With Prime Minister Khan, we have a unique opportunity to change our relationship,” he said. Graham called for "strategic engagement" between Washington and Islamabad, which could include a free trade agreement, Reuters reported.

Khan has offered support for a peace agreement in Afghanistan, which Graham said could leave Trump feeling “far more enthusiastic about the region than he is today."

Graham said Trump should meet with the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan to discuss a peace agreement.

Graham expressed appreciation for Khan's work supporting a political settlement in Afghanistan.

Trump has multiple times expressed interest in pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, following his surprise decision to remove the thousands of U.S. troops from Syria.

Graham, one of Trump's most outspoken allies in the Senate, told Reuters that Trump would not ask the U.S. to leave if it meant the Taliban would take over Afghanistan.

“The world’s not going to let the Taliban take Afghanistan over by force of arms," Graham said. "That would be unconscionable. “Any president who let that happen would go down in history very poorly.”

While Graham often offers support for Trump's controversial decisions, he has broken with the president multiple times over foreign policy issues, including U.S. ties with Saudi Arabia and the U.S. troop drawdown in Syria.
Graham earlier this week met with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to discuss U.S. plans to leave Syria.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Army and ISI retired generals gave away sensitive nuclear weapon information to hostile intelligence agency

The Pakistan Army officers are named Lt. General Javed Iqbal Awan(R) and ISI Brigadier Raja Rizwan Ali Haider(R)

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1916404/1-two-senior-servicemen-held-espionage-face-court-martial-dg-ispr/

ISI Brigadier Raja Rizwan Ali Haider(R) kidnapped by ISI henchmen from Islamabad sector G-10, street-17

https://www.dawn.com/news/1440673
ISI Brigadier Raja Rizwan Ali Haider(R)

Lt. General Javed Iqbal Awan(R)

Lieutenant General Javed Iqbal Awan is from Chakwal and son of a Major and his elder brother retired as a colonel.|Gen Javed Iqbal Awan started his education from Military College Sarai Alamgir Jhelum where he was a average to just pass class student.

He joined Pakistan Army and passed out with merit and joined 9 Battalion of Frontier Force Regiment.He always held highest andn top most appointments due to his outstanding networking and links and remained as instructor In Pakistan Military Academy, Command n Staff College and then remained as 111 brigade commander as a Brigadier. As a Major General ,He commanded infantry division at Bahawalpur, Infantry division at Jhelum and then remained as Director General Military Operations at GHQ. As Lieutenant General he remained as Adjutant General Pakistan Army n then commanded corps at Bhawalpur. At the same time he remained as colonel Commandant of Frontier Force Regiment which is also an Honour.

Lt. GENERAL JAVID IQBAL AWAN recently got retired from Pakistan Army in May 2015.He was settled in Rawalpindi and got arrested by the counter intelligence wing on the ISI in Aug-Oct 2018 timeframe for leaking secret information to a hostile foreign intelligence agency. He came into knowledge of official secrets during his tenure as Pakistan Director General Military Operations

http://asian-defence-news.blogspot.com/2019/02/pakistan-army-and-isi-retired-generals.html
Riaz Haq said…
The chief spokesperson of Pakistan’s armed force revealed on Friday that two senior servicemen had been arrested and facing investigations for espionage charges.

“Two senior military officials are under custody on charges of espionage. They are not part of a network and the army chief has ordered their court martial,” said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor while addressing an especially convened news conference in Islamabad.

The military spokesperson said the arrested officials were not part of any network and facing court martial charges in separate cases.
The arrests indicated a robust accountability system in place in the armed forces, he added.

Maj-Gen Ghafoor also said that former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani had been found guilty of violating the military code of conduct.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1916404/1-two-senior-servicemen-held-espionage-face-court-martial-dg-ispr/

Riaz Haq said…
Ex prisoners at #Guantanamo '#Taliban Five' traded for Bowe Bergdahl at center of #Afghanistan peace talks with #American diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad @US4AfghanPeace https://fxn.ws/2K3CbHN #FoxNews

When U.S. Army private Bowe Bergdahl was brought back from captivity in 2014 in a controversial exchange involving the release of five Taliban officials from Guantanamo Bay, it was hard to imagine that those five men would one day be rubbing shoulders with U.S. top brass in a bid to bring peace to blood-swathed Afghanistan.

According to multiple sources connected to the protracted talks, having "the five" in key delegation roles has some scratching heads. One U.S. intelligence source called it "a snub to us all," and a clear power play. But in any case, some experts insist that Bergdahl may have inadvertently become the key player in ushering an end to America's longest war.


Michael Ames, the co-author of a new book “American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl and the U.S. Tragedy in Afghanistan” with war veteran Matt Farwell, also told Fox News that these five officials "now form the core of the Taliban delegation meeting with U.S. diplomats about the future in Afghanistan," and he pointed out that it was because of the exchange that the dialogue was sparked and renewed.

“They have a seat at the table at the upscale Doha resort hosting the talks," he said.


According to Ames, U.S. officials were first told about the plans for the five men in secret talks held in 2010 in Germany.

“From the start of those talks, the Taliban made the release of its five officials a necessary step to move forward in negotiations,” he claimed. “The most outspoken of the five is Mullah Khairkhwa, who, at the start of the war, was known by U.S. authorities as a friend of [former Afghanistan president] Hamid Karzai's. Khairkhwa was attempting to join Karzai's U.S.-backed regime when he was detained and sent to Guantanamo.”

Documents obtained by the New York Times also indicated that those five senior Taliban officials who were held for some 13 years at Guantanamo and exchanged for Bergdahl held prominent positions across from U.S diplomats and generals – led by America’s senior envoy Zalmay Khalilzad – in Doha, Qatar last month.

But as far as the talks themselves go, much of it is kept under lock-and-key.

"Nobody really knows what the real talk is," a former Afghan diplomat said. "But everyone is worried that the Taliban morality won't change if the U.S. accepts them into the government."

However, another high-ranking official in Kabul told Fox News that progress in forming an agreement is slow but not stopped. The source noted that the Taliban and its Gitmo Five have agreed not to use the nation as a launchpad or planning base for foreign attacks, but a central point of contention is that they want no U.S. troops to stay and they want the pullout as soon as possible.

"The talks aren't perfect and the Taliban knows that while they keep attacking they have an advantage," the source continued. "But everyone knows these talks are needed. It's the only way forward."
Riaz Haq said…
#Israel just admitted arming anti-Assad #Syrian rebels. In his final days as the Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot confirmed that Israel had directly supported anti-Assad Syrian rebel factions. #Assad https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-just-admitted-arming-anti-assad-syrian-rebels-big-mistake-1.6894850

For the first time on the record, a senior official confirmed Israel's secret unconventional war in Syria, aimed at preventing Iranian encroachment. But what did Israel gain from exposing its 'anti-intervention' lie after so many years of denial?

In his final days as the Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot confirmed, on the record, that Israel had directly supported anti-Assad Syrian rebel factions in the Golan Heights by arming them. 

This revelation marks a direct break from Israel’s previous media policy on such matters. Until now, Israel has insisted it has only provided humanitarian aid to civilians (through field hospitals on the Golan Heights and in permanent healthcare facilities in northern Israel), and has consistently denied or refused to comment on any other assistance.

In short, none other than Israel’s most (until recently) senior serving soldier has admitted that up until his statement, his country’s officially stated position on the Syrian civil war was built on the lie of non-intervention.

As uncomfortable as this may initially seem, though, it is unsurprising. Israel has a long history of conducting unconventional warfare. That form of combat is defined by the U.S. government’s National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 as "activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt or overthrow an occupying power or government by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary or guerrilla force in a denied area" in the pursuit of various security-related strategic objectives.



While the United States and Iran are both practitioners of unconventional warfare par excellence, they primarily tend to do so with obvious and longer-term strategic allies, i.e. the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance fighters in Afghanistan, and various Shia militias in post-2003 Iraq.

In contrast, Israel has always shown a remarkable willingness to form short-term tactical partnerships with forces and entities explicitly hostile to its very existence, as long as that alliance is able to offer some kind of security-related benefits.

The best example of this is Israel’s decision to arm Tehran during the Iran-Iraq War, despite the Islamic Republic of Iran’s strong anti-Zionist rhetoric and foreign policy. During the 1980s, Iraq remained Jerusalem’s primary conventional (and arguably existential) military threat. Aiding Tehran to continue fighting an attritional war against Baghdad reduced the risk the latter posed against Israel.

Similarly, throughout the civil war in Yemen in the 1960s, Israel covertly supported the royalist Houthi forces fighting Egyptian-backed republicans. Given Egypt’s very heavy military footprint in Yemen at the time (as many as a third of all Egyptian troops were deployed to the country during this period), Israelis reasoned that this military attrition would undermine their fighting capacity closer to home, which was arguably proven by Egypt’s lacklustre performance in the Six Day War.

Although technically not unconventional warfare, Israel long and openly backed the South Lebanon Army, giving it years of experience in arming, training, and mentoring a partner indigenous force.

More recently, though, Israel’s policy of supporting certain anti-Assad rebel groups remains consistent with past precedents of with whom and why it engages in unconventional warfare. Israel’s most pressing strategic concern and potential threat in Syria is an Iranian encroachment onto its northern border, either directly, or through an experienced and dangerous proxy such as Hezbollah, key to the Assad regime’s survival.


Riaz Haq said…
My wild guess is that Ehsan was instrumental in providing the clues that led to #TTP commanders whereabouts in #Afghanistan and their killing. Ehsan’s “escape” is probably a reward for his valuable help to #Pakistani sleuths

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51356940

The fatal shooting of two men in the heart of the Afghan capital Kabul - a city unfortunately used to violence - went almost unnoticed.

But then, the dead men had hoped to go unnoticed: according to one source, they were both carrying fake IDs.

Exactly what they were doing in Kabul, and who killed them, remains a mystery that touches upon the murky links between security services and extremist groups in the region.

Who they really were, at least, has become clear. According to sources in Pakistani intelligence and militant circles, the men were senior members of the Pakistani Taliban - a group that has killed hundreds of Pakistanis in suicide bombings and other attacks.


One of the dead men was Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, who held a key position in the Pakistani Taliban's leadership council, and formerly served as the group's deputy leader.

He had been accused of involvement in several high-profile attacks on Pakistani politicians and linked to one of the country's deadliest militant attacks, the 2014 assault on a school in Peshawar, which left more than 150 people - mainly children - dead.

The second man was Qari Saif Younis, a military commander within the group. In a statement on Thursday, the Pakistani Taliban confirmed the men's identities and their deaths but gave few other details.

According to one militant source, the men had been due to hold a secret "meeting" in Kabul, on the direct orders of the group's leadership, apparently travelling from the eastern Afghan province of Paktika.

Their bodies were found near the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul
The militant would not say who they were meeting. According to a source in Pakistani intelligence, the men's bodies were discovered in the vicinity of the high-end Intercontinental Hotel - the site of two deadly attacks in recent years.

The deaths occurred last week, but the source in the Pakistani Taliban said the group's leadership had initially ordered the news to be kept "secret", partly as they were rattled by the assassinations, and partly to avoid awkward questions about why the men were in the city.

It is highly unusual for senior members of the Pakistani Taliban to be travelling to Kabul. The group is an entirely separate entity from the Afghan Taliban, with different aims and different supporters. The Afghan Taliban have been fighting a long-running insurgency against the Afghan government, which is backed by US-led forces, while the Pakistani Taliban have focused their attacks inside Pakistan.

---

The source within the group acknowledged it was also possible that gunmen or militants linked to Pakistani intelligence services were responsible.

They have in the past conducted other audacious assassinations, targeting figures wanted by Pakistan who were living in Afghanistan. For example, in December 2018 a suicide bombing in an upmarket district of the southern city of Kandahar killed a separatist Pakistani leader who had been living there in exile.

Conversely, figures linked to the Afghan Taliban have previously been killed in Pakistan. In 2013, one alleged senior Afghan militant figure was shot dead in a bakery in Islamabad.

According to sources within the Pakistani Taliban, the bodies of the men killed in Kabul, Sheikh Khalid Haqqani and Qari Saif Younis, were handed over to the group, and a large funeral was held for them on Monday in their stronghold in eastern Kunar Province.

Of course, how the bodies ended up back in the hands of their militant group remains another part of the intrigue.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's intelligence service may be the real winner in #AfghanPeaceDeal. Lynch, who also agreed that Pakistan’s policy has led to attacks on its own government, described any victory the #ISI might claim from the peace deal as “Pyrrhic.” https://news.yahoo.com/pakistans-intelligence-service-may-end-up-the-real-winner-in-the-afghan-peace-deal-at-least-for-now-144515932.html?soc_src=hl-viewer&soc_trk=tw via @Yahoo

Pakistan’s security services “have paid through the nose because they knew that [because of] the policy of supporting the Afghan Taliban, they had to allow these other Taliban types to function in Pakistan, and all of those have created havoc in Pakistan,” Abbas said.

The ISI must now face the potential consequences of its decision to continue supporting the Taliban in the years following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Although Pakistan has always denied it, most analysts accept that, following a brief pause after the United States (helped by the Tajik- and Uzbek-dominated Northern Alliance) drove the Taliban from power in late 2001, the ISI revived its relationship with the group it had nurtured since the mid-1990s. The rationale for the ISI’s actions remained the same: Pakistan has traditionally regarded Afghanistan as “strategic depth” in the case of a war with its fierce rival India, and for that reason wants a government in Kabul it can control.

Irrespective of whether the peace talks end with the Taliban gaining a role in government, or simply improving their military position by virtue of the U.S. withdrawal, Pakistan, and in particular the ISI, may therefore welcome the latest turn of events.

“Regardless of the outcome, I think this puts Pakistan — including the ISI — closer, either politically or militarily, to getting more influence in Kabul, which is what they wanted,” said Seth Jones, director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Retired Army Col. Tom Lynch of NDU’s Institute for National Strategic Studies said the U.S. military withdrawal without defeating the Taliban gives Pakistan an “I told you so” moment, because it has proved Pakistan’s argument to the United States, which Lynch summarized as “You can’t succeed in Afghanistan independent of us, because we manage, if not actually control, the militant framework in that country.”

But Lynch, who also agreed that Pakistan’s policy has led to attacks on its own government, described any victory the ISI might claim from the peace deal as “Pyrrhic.”

A return to power for the Afghan Taliban would reenergize the very Islamist groups that have created so much trouble in Pakistan, according to Abbas. “An empowered Afghan Taliban are automatically going to empower, inspire [and] motivate the Pakistani Taliban,” he said. “Any smart strategist in Pakistan at this moment should be quite worried.”
----------

The Pakistanis also understood this, according to Lynch. “They’ve always had us by the short hairs,” he said. “Because they’re so intimately intertwined with those jihadi networks that they knew stuff that we needed to know.”

It would be a mistake to assume that the current crop of senior Taliban leaders are beholden to Pakistan, according to Abbas. As an example, he cited Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the former deputy Taliban commander who languished for more than eight years in a Pakistani jail before being released at the United States’ request in 2018. He soon became the militants’ lead negotiator in Qatar, where the peace deal was signed.

Leaders like Baradar “are skeptical about Pakistan,” despite the ISI’s long-standing support of the Taliban, Abbas said. “They will play their own cards very, very carefully.”
Riaz Haq said…
Sanitization of Haqqanis & #Pakistan-#US relations. New York Times published an Op Ed by Haqqani Network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani. No other group better exemplifies #America's long history of playing sides to suit itself. #afghanpeacedeal @AJEnglish https://aje.io/d73dc

The (NY Times) newspaper's decision to publish the article, provocatively titled "What We, the Taliban, Want," jolted not only ordinary readers and US foreign policy hawks, but also Washington's biggest detractors abroad. As the criticism mounted, The Times' opinion editors issued a statement to try and justify their decision to give a platform to Haqqani.

"Our mission at Times Opinion is to tackle big ideas from a range of newsworthy viewpoints," they stated. "We've actively solicited voices from all sides of the Afghanistan conflict, the government, the Taliban and from citizens. Sirajuddin Haqqani is the second in command of the Taliban at a time when its negotiators are hammering out an agreement with American officials in Doha that could result in American troops leaving Afghanistan. That makes his perspective relevant at this particular moment."

What the Times did not mention, however, was the extent to which the Haqqani question has prickled the relationship between the US and Pakistan - a major non-NATO ally historically accused by many in Washington of not doing enough to facilitate American objectives in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Back in 2011, following an attack on the US embassy in Kabul believed to be perpetrated by the Haqqanis, the then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, called the network a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), ratcheting up pressure on Pakistan to eliminate the network and paving the way for more American drone strikes in the country.

Mullen's assertion caused widespread anger and disappointment in Pakistan. In the years that followed, consecutive civilian governments in Pakistan maintained that the infrastructure supporting the network had shifted to Afghanistan and that scapegoating Pakistan for American failures in an interminable war next door was disingenuous and unjust.

For many in Pakistan, no other political group better exemplifies America's long history of playing sides to suit its own strategic objectives. Few American diplomats today care to recount that the Haqqanis started as Washington's closest allies in Afghanistan; that the network's founder Jalaluddin Haqqani was a CIA darling kept flush with money and weaponry, including shoulder-fired Stinger missiles that would ultimately down Soviet aircraft. Fewer still have any compunction over the diplomatic arm-twisting meted out to Pakistan, including the cutting off of vital Coalition Support Fund aid, for allegedly not doing enough to combat the group.

As the US continued to pressure Pakistan for not doing enough to curtail the Haqqani Network's activities in Afghanistan, the grievances against Washington's regional policies started to pile up in in the country. Many in Pakistan came to believe that the US was scapegoating Islamabad to camouflage the deeper contradictions in its military strategy against the Taliban. And they had ample reason to hold this view. In 2015, for example, the US and the Haqqanis came face-to-face during the ill-fated "Murree talks" between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Conveniently, the US raised no objections to the Haqqanis being in the meeting.

-----------

On his recent visit to India, President Trump took a softer line on Pakistan, reflecting the hard work that both sides have put into resuscitating the relationship from its worst days....

For Pakistanis, that alone is a welcome shift, even if an official public apology for taking the flak for the Haqqanis, takes time.
Riaz Haq said…
What Would #US-#Pakistan War Look Like?
One word: Hell! #India could help with runways for US warplanes. US would assume some #Pakistani #nuclear weapons would survive sustained air campaign to destroy them & then used against #American forces or targets. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/what-would-hypothetical-us-pakistan-war-look-141072

In the U.S. television series Homeland, the United States and Pakistan are brought to the brink of war. In real life, the two countries are allies, albeit strained ones at that, and many Americans believe Islamabad often actively works against Washington’s interests. If the relationship turned poisonous, how would the United States prosecute a war against Pakistan?
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A U.S. war with Pakistan would be extremely difficult to wage and fraught with difficulty. It would also be forced to proceed under the assumption that some Pakistani nuclear weapons would survive a sustained effort to destroy them, to be used against U.S. forces or targets in some way later in the campaign. This is the sort of uncertainty that can veto military action and makes a war between Washington and Islamabad an absolute conflict of last resort.

------------------

Of course, there is one regional power that can provide everything the U.S. needs, including local air bases and a large army, navy, and air force, already positioned in the theater with well-sketched battle plans: India. India could help with an air campaign, providing runways for U.S. fighter bombers to operate from, or even contribute its own airpower. Indian ground forces have a far shorter route to Islamabad and overmatch Pakistani forces on the ground.-----------


In order to proceed, let’s sketch out two war scenarios. In one, we’ll assume that the United States is pursuing an air-only campaign, in order to punish the country or strip it of some vital capability—nuclear weapons being a prime example. In the second scenario, the United States seeks to topple the country’s government entirely, including the occupation of the capital, Islamabad.
----------------

An air campaign against Pakistan would be slower and more fraught with difficulty than past campaigns. Pakistan’s Air Force has nearly four hundred fighters, including American F-16 Fighting Falcons, and would need to be quickly destroyed. U.S. Navy and Air Force aircraft could see their first significant air to air combat since the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

An all-out invasion of Pakistan would be much more difficult, bordering on impractical. An invasion would require securing the city of Karachi, a coastal city of 14 million, then a march upcountry of approximately 700 miles. Securing Karachi alone would be an immense effort dwarfing efforts to secure Baghdad in the late 2000s, one that required more than 100,000 U.S. troops and the cooperation of local militias.

----------------

Another power that could join such a conflict is China. China and Pakistan enjoy warm relations, and the rhetoric between the two countries suggests a relationship nearing that of a mutual defense pact. But it isn’t, and it’s not clear that China would risk direct conflict with the United States if Pakistan in some way overreached. China might, on the assumption that a U.S. puppet state in neighboring Pakistan would diminish China’s power and influence abroad. It’s worth remembering that the last time Chinese forces fought Americans was after the U.S.-led United Nations forces advanced into a state neighboring Beijing.
Riaz Haq said…
#Agriculture Park opens in Ex FATA in #KPK, #Pakistan to support agriculture business in #terrorism-free #Waziristan. It has a market complex, 5 warehouses, a bank, a hotel, a pine nut plant, hawker sheds, facilities for cold storage and other structures. https://menafn.com/1100456011/Pakistan-Agriculture-Park-Wana-becomes-functional

The (FATA) region contributes some 29 % (11, 372 tons) of Pakistan’s total vegetable production. It represents 73 % of the bitter gourd (karela) production, 40% of aubergines/eggplants (bengan or brinjal), 33% of tomatoes and 21% of okra or Lady Fingers. The region also contributes 71 % (70,043 tons) of Pakistan’s fruit production, in which the production of apple is 92%, almonds 82%, peaches 40 % and grapes at 37% of total production.
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The newly constructed Agriculture park in Wana, the regional headquarters of South Waziristan, is now functional. The park will play an important role to boost agricultural business after peace returned to South Waziristan. The park has been envisaged as a socioeconomic uplift programme for the tribal districts of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province. Aside from facilitating locals, it is also hoped that it would open links via a central corridor with Afghanistan and neighboring countries.

Alam Khan Mahsud, 25, is the owner of a vegetable shop in the local market in Wana. After a hectic day of work, he goes back to Tank to sleep – approximately 60km away, from where he brings fresh vegetables for his shop. The long process is not just tiring, Mahsud explains: it is also reflected in the price he must charge for the produce.

With this project functional, local shopkeepers hope to find a way to obtain fresh vegetables on a daily basis at their doorsteps. Mahsud hopes, “Opening such project will help us to bring fresh vegetables in less time – and most important, the produce will be provided to all on government rates.”


The park is one of its kind in the region. It contains a market complex, five warehouses, a bank, a hotel, a pine nut plant, hawker sheds, facilities for cold storage and other structures. The mega project will host 50 kinds of business in which 703 people will get direct employment while 1,038 people will be facilitated as labour from the local populace.

Mujeeb Ur Rehman, 45, is a contractor in the agriculture park at Wana. He elaborates upon the project and calls it the new phase of Waziristan’s development. “This is one of the best projects for the rehabilitation of locals as the area was subjected to war and terror for the last decade.” He emphasizes that it will help locals to stand on their own feet after intense operations against terrorism brought life to a standstill for years. “We have some of the best pine nuts and fruits here. This project will be a hub for agricultural business, which will benefit the country’s economy.” He recommends that the government launch such projects in other parts of the tribal districts too.

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Gul Mar Khan, 35, is a truck driver. He brought in a truck loaded with pine nuts from Afghanistan. He considers the project a form of facilitation for truck drivers across the borders. He says: “Such a park for agriculture only a few hours way from Angoor Adda in the south along with Ghulam Khan terminal in north (Pak-Afghan border) is not only good for drivers coming across from Afghanistan but also a wave of relief and attraction for business of two neighboring countries Afghanistan and Pakistan. Previously, we had to take these pine nuts to the other parts of Pakistan which doubled the cost and added to the depreciation of the value of trucks due to wear and tear from a longer route.”

This year has been better thanks to the agriculture park. “Previously I took these pine nuts all the way to Peshawar and the profit was 3,000 to 3,500 US dollars per month. But this year the ratio increased to 6,500 US dollars of profit and it’s all due to the agriculture park in Wana,” Khan says.
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