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Archive for category OUTRAGE AGAINST MUSLIM GENOCIDE

Impact of chemical & missile attacks in Syria By Brig (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Impact of chemical & missile attacks in Syria

Asif Haroon Raja

“In the coming days the American people will learn that the (US) Intelligence Community knew that Syria did not drop a military chemical weapon on innocent civilians in Idlib”. Former DIA Col Patrick Lang 

The civil war was triggered in Syria in March 2011 by the Syrian rebels supported by the US, NATO, Saudi-led the Gulf States and Turkey. The war has wrought havoc and the country lay utterly ruined. Nearly 470,000 people including 5, 50,000 children have died in the conflict and 4.8 million have fled the country. The cities and infrastructure are destroyed, there is very little electricity, 80% are living in poverty, and the economy has shrunk by 55%. Syria war is the worst man-made disaster since 2nd World War. But for the Iranian and Hezbollah ground support and Russian air intervention in September 2015 in support of the beleaguered Bashar al-Assad regime, a regime change would have occurred a long time back and Assad would have met the fate of Saddam and Qaddafi.

There are dozens of militant groups operating in the country among which ISIS is the most powerful group, which has carved out its own caliphate under Abu Bakar Baghdadi stretching from Raqqa in Syria to Mosul in Iraq and is in control of oil and gas fields in northeastern Syria. Other prominent outfits are Free Syrian Army (FSA) led by Gen Idris, Al-Nusra Front led by Jeewani, Army of Conquest and Al-Qaeda.

A very serious situation had developed in Syria as a result of two chemical attacks on Ghouta near Damascus on August 21, 2013, killing hundreds of people including a large number of children. The ruling regime was blamed for the attacks. Egged on by Riyadh, Doha, and Ankara, Obama Administration, and NATO had finalised the plan for a direct military action and had deployed Tomahawk cruise missiles to bomb the defense infrastructure of Syrian armed forces. No proof was furnished and to this day its unknown who had fired Sarin tipped rockets. It was generally suspected that Mossad was behind the chemical weapon attack. The US Congress, the American public and British Parliament reeling under public pressure, and wary of the expanding war in the Middle East, had opposed military action fearing that it might trigger a world war. Donald Trump was among the opponents.

Vladimir Putin provided a way out to Obama by suggesting the destruction of chemical stockpiles of Syria in return for the cancellation of the air strikes. Obama relented thereby averting a bigger crisis, but at the cost of annoying Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Since that time, Russia under Putin started gaining a diplomatic edge over the USA in the Middle East. Putin overshadowed Obama after he physically intervened in the Syrian war.

It has now come to light that the Ghouta incident was a false flag attack by Saudi-sponsored Jihadists to secure the bombing in Damascus. As per Seymour Hersh, Turkey was behind it.

The US intervened in Syria by air in September 2014 to destroy ISIS but failed to achieve any results. Puzzlingly, the ISIS grew stronger and richer because of its unchecked oil trade extending right up to the Gulf of Mexico. It is speculated that the US never made any sincere effort since its real target was Assad and not ISIS.

In response to the formal request made by the Syrian government for military help against the rebels and Jihadist groups in July 2015, Russia sent military advisers. Moscow announced that it was extending military support to stabilize the legitimate government and create conditions for a political compromise. It initially stationed its jets at Khmeimim airbase and sent T-90 tanks, artillery and Special Operations Forces to an airbase near Latakia seaport in August 2015. On August 26, 2015, Syria-Russia Friendship Treaty was signed and in last week of September, a Joint Information Centre manned by representatives from Russia, Iraq, Syria and Iran was established in Baghdad for coordination. USA, UK, and Turkey declined to join. Russian warships of Black Sea Fleet moved to East Mediterranean. Tartus naval base in Syria was used by Russia.

Russian air force began striking targets initially on Homs and Hama in northwestern Syria on September 30. Till January 2017, Russian jets carried out 19160 combat missions and delivered 71000 strikes on terrorist infrastructures. Russia employed Su-25, Su-35, Tu-22M3 strategic bombers, attack helicopters as well as cruise missiles. In December 2015, Sharyat airbase near Homs was made functional. From August 16, 2016, onward, Russian jets made use of Hamadan airbase in Iran. On October 15, 2016, Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov moved forward in support of Russian forces in Syria.    

Bolstered by Russia’s air support, the Syrian Army managed to recapture lost spaces including Homs, Hama, Latakia, Idlib, and Palmyra and considerably improved its position. Offensive launched against strategically located Aleppo in September 2016 came to a successful conclusion in December.

In August 2016, 4000 Turkish troops in conjunction with 7000 pro-Turkish Syrian rebels launched Operation Euphrates and since then have captured Jarabalus, al-Rai, and Al-Bab in northern Syria.

500 Special Forces, 250 Rangers and 200 Marines supported by US bombers joined the ground combat in Syria to bolster the efforts of the rebels named as moderates.

Raqqa, the capital of ISIS Caliphate, is surrounded by US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters.

With so many powers having materially intruded in war-torn Syria, it has become the most dangerous flashpoint. However, Israel which is the main instigator behind the strategy of fomenting chaos in the Middle East and toppling militarily and economically stronger Arab regimes so as to accomplish its dream of establishing Greater Israel, is dissatisfied with the ongoing status quo which is going in favor of President Assad and hence wants his removal at any cost.

While George Bush had pleased Israel by downing regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama had obliged Israel by way of stepping up the offensive in Afghanistan, starting Arab Spring, toppling regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, bisecting Sudan, making Somalia a failed State, and creating chaos in Syria, Yemen, and Egypt. However, the pro-war hawks in USA and Israel feel that Obama buckled down in Syria because of which the US prestige was severely dented.

Hence the reins of power were handed over to the most unpredictable and rash Donald Trump so as to outshine Putin and to put a fear of USA in the hearts of the world. He is assigned to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, legitimize Jewish Forward Settlements in Palestinian lands in West Bank and Gaza, and get rid of defiant Assad, linked with Iran and Hezbollah, who shows eyes to Israel. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon, Egypt are also on the hit list of Israel.

The security situation in Syria took a sudden nosedive in the wake of a chemical attack on Khan Sheikhun village in Idlib Province on 4 April 2017. True to their traditions, the US administration and the US-led western media joined by the Jewish controlled media hastened to pin the whole blame on Moscow-backed Assad regime. The pictorial war launched by the western media described the attack as most horrendous and gruesome. No sooner the news became viral on all media outlets, Trump while expressing his anguish over the killings of babies lost his cool and stated that he had changed his mind about Syria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pentagon rushed to put forward military options and Trump gave a ‘go ahead’ signal without consulting the Congress or seeking approval of the UN. The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley made hue and cry and warned that in case the UN tried to come in the way, the US will brush aside norms of diplomacy, international law, and the UN Charter and will go ahead on its own. This impetuous and disjointed decision to strike Syria was taken without gathering any proof of the Syrian regime’s involvement and without determining as to what kind of gas used – Sarin, Mustard or Chlorine. The knee-jerk reckless reaction was exactly similar to the impulsive reactions in Afghanistan in October 2001, in Iraq in March 2003 or in Libya in 2011.

Explanations given by Moscow and Damascus that the bombs were dropped on a chemical warehouse (Sarin gas) in use of the rebels were debunked and scoffed at arguing that if Sarin is bombed with incendiaries, it will be rendered INERT by the exceedingly high temperature of any blast. In their view, it just takes 150 °C to decompose Sarin into various forms of phosphorous. The average missile emits 2,480 °C (4,500 °F) which is way beyond what it would take to completely erase any Sarin.

Yet another claim that pictures of the White Helmets wearing only gas masks and no HAZMAT suits meant there wasn’t a Sarin attack was also laughed at. BBC also rubbished the claims.

The US didn’t deem it fit to take into account other possibilities like ISIS, which had used mustard gas on three occasions. The possibility of Mossad or CIA, notorious for undertaking suchlike perverted acts cannot be altogether ruled out; their aim being to provoke Trump and give him an excuse to launch a direct military action in Syria.

The point to note is as to why the urgency to opt for such a dangerous option that could spell disaster and particularly when Bush administration, CIA and Tony Blair had to cut a sorry figure on account of their over confidence that Saddam was in possession of WMDs. It has still not been proven that Osama bin Laden was involved in 9/11 attacks.

The reason why the US took such a hasty and thoughtless decision was that none has been held accountable for the devastation inflicted upon the targeted Muslim countries without any plausible reason. Trump, who has been flexing his muscles since his takeover was desperate to show his power and direct assault in Syria has satiated his ego that he is a man of action.  

At 3.40 a.m. in the early hours of 7th April, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from the two Arleigh Burke – guided missile destroyers, the USS Ross and USS Porter, deployed in the Mediterranean Sea on the Sharyad airfield in Homs province from where the alleged chemical attack had been carried out on the Khan Sheikhun village on April 4, killing 75 people including 10 children. Nine civilians including children were killed. The news that the airbase was completely destroyed and 99 jets destroyed were false.

The attack was hailed by Syria’s opposition, USA, NATO, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, while it was condemned by Damascus and Tehran. Syrian government denied using chemical weapons and condemned the attack. Iran and Russia denounced the act terming it an act of aggression, which will damage Russia-US relations.

Russia has suspended military communications and agreements with the US. This has increased the risk of an accidental clash of two air forces operating in volatile Syria.

The blatant attack has ruined the prospects of thaw in USA-Russia relations and peace returning to Syria in the near future. There is no one in Trump’s Administration suggesting prudence. All are haughty and war crazy. Zionists have seized control of all powerhouses in USA and none can stop them from treading into dangerous domains having fatal consequences. The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has cautioned Moscow about the US intentions to boot out President Assad, the last thorn in the flesh of Israel. Another American string-puppet has been readied, who will happily share a bed with Israel and like Gen Sisi will approve Israeli aggression against the Palestinians.

The regime change in Damascus will result in converting battle worthy Syrian Army into a NationalSisi Army like in Iraq, meant to fight terrorism only. It will deprive Russia of its sole toehold in the Middle East and dispossess it off the Gazprom gas pipeline to Europe via Syria. It will radically reduce the influence of Iran in Syria and enable the USA to construct its own gas pipeline from Qatar to Europe via Syria.

Unless Russia devises a new strategy to effectively deal with American belligerence and gets out of its dithering mode, the US might regain its influence that had declined substantially in the wake of its anti-Muslim and pro-Israel policies. As things stand at present, the US has taken advantage of Russia’s hesitancy after it had gained a definite political, diplomatic and military edge over the USA and had put its rival on the back foot. Russia waited for too long to go headlong in ousting ISIS from its power base in Raqqa. For unknown reasons, it called off its offensive several times after the UN-mediated peace talks in Geneva commenced in February 2016.

In 2016, the ISIS was suffering defeats and losing ground in both Iraq and Syria. Knowing that the ISIS was CIA creation and is secretly backed by USA and Israel, Russia relied on Washington that it will help in eliminating the ISIS through joint efforts and then will cooperate in its efforts to restore peace and arrive at a political settlement under the umbrella of the UN. 

One wonders why Russia overlooked the US-Israel grand design. Russian had deployed S-300 and S-400 in November 2015 to improve air defence system against hostile air attacks. Why couldn’t it detect and strike the cruise missiles? Or it looked the other way since it had been making good use of 3M-14T cruise missiles against the rebels. Why didn’t Russia wake up when the US Special Forces were deployed to block Syrian Army’s advance towards Aleppo? These were fatal mistakes, which has once again made the position of Assad regime vulnerable.

With the battle of Mosul reaching the final stage and the ISIS almost wiped out by the Iraqi forces, the US in collusion with Turkey and the Kurds will now concentrate on snatching Raqqa from the ISIS so as to add a feather in its badgered cap that it has demolished the IS Caliphate. This milestone should have been achieved by Russo-Syrian forces.    

The USA is likely to dangle a carrot to Russia that to earn its cooperation, it will have to sacrifice Assad. Will Putin take the bait and relent? If he does so, he will cook his goose. China will hang on to its defensive strategy till 2025 and will focus on its six economic corridors to push forward its One-Belt-One-Road concept and hence will be of little use to Russia in its hour of trial in Syria.

Currently, President Xi is on an official tour in Washington and the two leaders are exchanging sweet smiles. Xi’s concerns will be high tariffs imposed by the USA on Chinese products and of course the militarized South China Sea.

While the offensive act will do little to alleviate Syria’s human rights crisis, it may improve Trump’s approval ratings or may backfire.   

Sharyat air base is one of the largest and most active base which is extensively used by Russian jets. The way it was ruthlessly bombed, the whole infrastructure, as well as the assets, deployed on it, should have been destroyed. Interestingly, very little damage was caused to hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defence systems, and radars.

Having learnt about the impending attack, all jets less 5, troops and assets had been shifted. Missiles could do no damage to runways. Control towers were partially damaged but were functional. In less than 24 hours after the cruise missiles assault, five jets that were there and had survived flew off.

Americans are questioning as to why such a big risk was taken and what gains were made by firing $ 100 million worth missiles. Yet another handle has come in the hands of protestors in America to beat Trump with.      

Had this important air base along with assets been destroyed, it would have taken considerable time to reconstruct the airfield and make good the losses. It would have certainly rolled back the offensive capability of Syrian forces and dented Russia’s air capability, thereby tilting the balance in favor of the rebels.

A senior Turkish lawmaker Barish Akadash has claimed that Ankara supplied Sarin to foreign-backed militants in Syria. I have my doubts on this disclosure since there is a deep polarization in Turkey. Former DIA Col Lang has claimed that Trump’s decision to launch cruise missiles was based on a lie. He reveals that Russia had fully briefed the US that there was a target in Idlib, believed to a weapons/explosive depot of Islamic rebels. The storehouse had chemicals and not sarin. The chemicals included phosphates and chlorine. There was a strong wind blowing on that day which spread the chemicals and killed/injured the civilians. Trump had castigated George W. Bush for launching an unprovoked, unjustified attack on Iraq. He has committed the same blunder.

The game is on but the dice at present is loaded slightly in favor of USA.   

The writer is a retired Brig, a war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre. Takes part in TV talk shows and seminars, and delivers talks. email:asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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USA responsible for making Pakistan most dangerous country

USA responsible for making Pakistan most dangerous country

 by

Asif Haroon Raja

 

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The US leaders and media often cite Pakistan as the most dangerous country in the world. If it is true, it didn’t attain this status at its own. Outsiders are responsible for making Pakistan a nursery of terrorism, or epicenter of terrorism, as recently described by Manmohan Singh, or the most dangerous country. Ironically, the ones responsible for converting a law abiding and peaceful country into a volatile country are today in the forefront censuring it. Till the onset of Afghan Jihad in 1980, Pakistan was a moderate and nonviolent country. It did suffer from the pangs of humiliation for having lost its most populous East Pakistan and  grieved over non-resolution of Kashmir dispute pending since January 1948 UNSC resolution. Both wounds had been inflicted upon Pakistan by its arch rival India. Pakistan had to perforce go nuclear in quest for its security because of India’s hostile posturing and nuclearisation.

 

Invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by Soviet forces in December 1979 brought five million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. These refugees disturbed the peace of Frontier Province and Balochistan where bulk got permanently settled. 2.8 million Afghan refugees have still not returned to their homes and besides becoming an economic burden, have posed serious social and security hazards. Foreign agencies carrying an agenda to destabilize Pakistan have been recruiting bulk of terrorists from within them.

 

Once the US decided to back proxy war in Afghanistan, CIA commissioned thousands of Mujahideen from all over the Muslim world and with the assistance of ISI, motivated, trained and equipped them to assist Afghan Mujahideen in their fight against Soviet forces. Large number of seminaries imparting religious training to the under privileged children were tasked to impart military and motivational training as well and prepare them for Jihad. FATA and Pashtun belt of Balochistan contiguous to Afghanistan were converted into forward bases of operation from where young Jihadists were unleashed. For next nine years the youth were continuously recruited and launched to fight the holy war against evil empire. Saudi Arabia became the chief financer of Jihad. It provided heavy funds to Sunni Madrassahs only. ISI took upon itself as the chief coordinator of the entire war effort while CIA restricted its role to providing arms, funds and intelligence only.

 

The whole free world led by USA enthusiastically applauded the heroics of holy warriors and none cared about astronomical fatalities and critical injuries suffered by them. The maimed for life, widows and orphans were patted and told that it was a holy war fought for a noble cause and huge rewards awaited them in the life hereafter. The single point agenda of the US was to defeat the Soviet forces with the help of Muslim fighters. Not a single soldier of any country including Pakistan took part in the unmatched war between a super power and rag-tag, ill-clothed and ill-equipped Mujahideen.

 

None bothered about the ill-effects this long-drawn war will have upon this region in general and Pakistan in particular acting as the Frontline State. Although Pakistan was only supporting the proxy war and was not directly involved, but it remained in a state of war and it faced continuous onslaughts of KGB-RAW-KHAD nexus as well as attacks by Soviet trained Afghan pilots and soldiers in the form of air assaults, artillery barrages and missile/rockets attacks.  Throughout the nine-year war, Pakistan faced twin threat from its eastern and western borders. By virtue of occupation of Wakhan corridor by Soviet troops, USSR had become immediate neighbor of Pakistan and had hurled repeated threats to wind up training centres and stop meddling in Afghanistan or else be prepared for dire consequences. Moscow’s age-old dream of reaching warm waters of Arabian Sea through Balochistan haunted Gen Ziaul Haq, but he stoutly held his ground. Pakistan’s relentless support ultimately enabled the Mujahideen to achieve the miracle of the 20th century. They defeated the super power and pushed out Soviet forces from Afghanistan in February 1989.

 

All foreign Jihadists who had come from other countries were not accepted by their parent countries. They had no choice but to stay put and get settled in Afghanistan and in FATA since they had collectively fought the war and had developed camaraderie with the Afghans and tribesmen. The US who had enticed and displaced them and used them as cannon fodder to achieve its interests was morally bounded to resettle them. It was honor bound to help Pakistan in overcoming the after effects of the war. FATA that had acted as the major base for cross border operations deserved uplift in socio-economic and educational fields. Afghanistan required major rehabilitation and rebuilding after its devastation. Nothing of the sort happened.

 

The US coldheartedly abandoned Afghanistan, Pakistan and Jihadists and instead embraced India which had remained the camp follower of Soviet Union since 1947 and had also partnered Soviet Union in the Afghan war and had vociferously condemned US-Pakistan proxy war. This callous act opened the doors for religious fanaticism and militarism. Pakistan suffered throughout the Afghan war and continues to suffer to this day on account of the debris left behind by Soviet forces and proxy war. By the time last Soviet soldier left Afghan soil, Pakistani society had got radicalized owing to free flow of weapons and drugs from Afghanistan and onset of armed uprising in occupied Kashmir.

 

Pakistan’s efforts to tackle the fallout effects of the war got seriously hampered because of harsh sanctions imposed by USA under Pressler Amendment in October 1989 and political instability throughout the democratic era from 1988 to 1999. Besides, Iran and Saudi Arabia started fuelling sectarianism in Pakistan throughout 1990s in a big way. Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan and Majlis-e-Wahadat ul Hashmeen were funded by Iran and Sipah-e-Sahabha Pakistan, now named as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (Sunni Deobandi) were supported by Saudi Arabia, which gave rise to religious extremism and intolerance and sharpened Shia-Sunni divide. Masjids and Imambargahs as well as religious clerics were incessantly attacked by the zealots of two communities. Threat of sectarian violence that had become menacing in Punjab in 1997-1998 had to be dealt with sternly. But the Punjab Police operation had to be curtailed because of severe pressure from Human Rights activists and NGOs on charges of extra judicial killings. Resultantly, the disease remained uncured.

        

Unseating of democratically elected heavy mandate of Nawaz Sharif led government by Gen Musharraf and the latter opting to ditch Taliban regime and to fight global war on terror at the behest of USA energized anti-Americanism, religious extremism and led to creation of Mutahida Majlis Ammal (MMA), an amalgam of six religious parties, which formed governments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. MMA on the quiet nurtured extremist religious groups that were also funded by foreign powers.

 

The fact that after 9/11, the US chose Pakistan to fight the war as a Frontline State is a clear cut indication that Pakistan at that time was viewed as a responsible and valued country and not a dangerous country. However, Pakistan’s nuclear program was an eyesore for India, Israel and USA. The planners had made up their minds to intentionally create anarchic conditions in Pakistan so that its nukes could be whisked away under the plea that it was unstable and couldn’t be trusted.

 

The initial attempt towards that end was to first allow bulk of Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders and their fighters to escape to FATA from Afghanistan and soon after forcing Pakistan to induct regular troops into South Waziristan (SW) to flush them out. This move created a small rivulet allowing terrorism to seep into FATA, which kept gushing in because of RAW led and CIA backed covert war at a massive scale and turning the rivulet into a river. Likewise, another rivulet was created in Balochistan. Concerted and sustained efforts were made to destabilize FATA and Balochistan and gradually sink Pakistan in sea of terrorism. Six intelligence agencies based in Kabul kept sprinkling tons of fuel on embers of religious extremism, sectarianism, ethnicity and Jihadism.

 

The US instead of helping in resolving Kashmir dispute misguided Gen Musharraf to forget about UN resolutions and float an out of box solution and try and resolve the dispute in accordance with the wishes of India. In order to woo India, Musharraf gave it in writing that he will not allow Pakistan soil to be used for terrorism against any neighboring country including India. While making this commitment unilaterally, he committed the fatal mistake of not imposing this condition on India. To further please USA and India and make the latter agree to sign peace treaty, he bridled all Jihadi groups engaged in Kashmir freedom struggle as well as in sectarianism. He also allowed India to fence the Line of Control. These moves did please India but angered Jihadis and sectarian outfits and in reaction, they hastened to join Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and turn their guns towards Pak security forces dubbed as mercenaries of USA fighting US war for dollars.

But for phenomenal clandestine support by foreign powers to the TTP in the northwest and to the BLA, BRA and BLF in the southwest, extremism and terrorism could have got controlled after major operations launched in Malakand Division including Swat, Bajaur and SW in 2009 and minor operations in other tribal agencies. The disarrayed network of TTP was helped to get re-assembled and regrouped in North Waziristan and that of Maulana Fazlullah in Kunar and Nuristan in Afghanistan. As opposed to good work done by Pak security forces in combating and curbing terrorism in Pakistan, the US-NATO forces operating in Afghanistan along with Afghan National Army kept making one blunder after another and in the process kept sinking deeper and deeper into the quagmire. Rather than correcting their follies, they chose to make Pakistan a scapegoat and declared it responsible for their failures. Rather than doing more at their end, they asked Pakistan to do more which was already doing much more than its capacity.

 

Since the aggressors underestimated their enemy they took things too lightly. Their intentions lacked sincerity and honesty and their stated objectives were totally different to their actual unspoken objectives which were commercial in nature. Above all they had no legitimate grounds to destroy a sovereign country and uproot its people which had played no role in 9/11. As a result, rather than devotedly fighting to win the war in Afghanistan, the assailants got deeply involved in drug business and other money-making schemes. The ruling regime led by Hamid Karzai became a willing partner in such shady businesses. American security contractors, defence merchants, builders and intelligence agencies started multiplying their wealth and lost their moral and professional ethics. Other than materialistic ventures, they got more involved in money-spinning covert operations against Pakistan, Iran, China and Middle East than in fighting their adversary. Taliban and al-Qaeda combine took full advantage of their self-destructive activities and opening of the second front in Iraq. After regrouping and re-settling in southern and eastern Afghanistan, they started striking targets in all parts of the country. War in Iraq helped al-Qaeda in expanding its influence in Arabian Peninsula and turning into an international organization.

 

The US has made a big mess in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in Libya and is now making another mess in Syria. It has lost the confidence of its most allied ally Pakistan by mistreating and distrusting it. Having lost on all fronts because of its tunnel vision and mercantile greed, it now wants the most dangerous country Pakistan to ignore the raw deal it gave all these years and to not only help ISAF in pulling out of Afghanistan safely but also to convince the Taliban to agree upon a negotiated political settlement. At the start of the Afghan venture, Pakistan was chosen by Washington to ensure success and in the endgame Pakistan is again being relied upon to bail it out of the mess. In the same breadth, the US is unprepared to cease drone attacks in FATA despite repeated requests that drones fuel terrorism. It is still focused on carving a lead role for India in Afghanistan. It is not prepared to stop its interference in internal affairs of Pakistan or to dissuade India from destabilizing Balochistan. Whatever socio-economic promises made are futuristic in nature and tied to conditions. US media and think tanks continue to demonize Pakistan. Its tilt towards India is too heavy and prejudicial behavior towards Pakistan conspicuous.

 

As a result of the US skewed policies with ulterior motives, Pakistan is faced with the demons of ethnicity, sectarianism, Jihadism, religious extremism and terrorism. While TTP is aligned with about 60 terrorist groups, in Balochistan there are more than two dozen terrorist groups. In Karachi, other than armed mafias, political parties have armed wings and are involved in target killings. Rangers and Police are engaged in targeted operation in Karachi and are producing productive results. 150,000 troops combating the militants in the northwest enjoy a definite edge over them. Major parts of Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary, Levies and Police are fighting the Baloch separatists and sectarian forces targeting Hazaras and have contained anti-state forces. All major cities are barricaded with road blocks and police piquets and yet terrorists manage to carryout acts of terror. The miscreants are fighting State forces with tenacity because of uninterrupted financial and weapons support from foreign agencies. Once external support dries up, their vigor will wane rapidly and sooner than later they will give up fighting.

 

With so many grave internal and external threats, most of which were invented and thrust upon Pakistan by foreign powers and duly exacerbated by meek and self-serving political leadership, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s hands remained full. He has saddled the COAS chair for six years and during this period he had to face many a critical situations. It goes to his credit that he handled each crisis competently, astutely and honorably. During his eventful command, he tackled the challenge of terrorism, which he rightly described as the biggest threat to the security of Pakistan, boldly and produced pleasing results. Above all, he kept the morale of all ranks in the Army high and earned their respect and admiration. The list of his achievements is long and I have been highlighting those in my articles off and on. His successor has so far not been named but whosoever replaces him will find it difficult to fit into his shoes. I am sure he will breathe more freely and relax once he retires on November 29, 2013. We thank him for his laudable contributions and wish him sound health and happiness in all his future doings. Let us hope and pray that this senseless war comes to an end at the earliest, putting an end to chirping tongues deriving sadistic pleasure in describing Pakistan as the most dangerous country.

 

The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst, columnist, historian and a researcher. asifharoonraja@gmail.com 

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PTT Archive: Imran Khan Condemns Drone Attacks

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Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf chief Imran Khan. – File Photo by Reuters

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, strongly condemning United States drone strike in North Waziristan which killed 24 people, said on Saturday latest drone attack speaks volumes about so-called close working partnership between Pakistan and the US in ongoing war.

The PTI chief said rulers reopened Nato supply routes against strong sentiments of people and bypassed parliamentary resolutions to appease the US which reciprocated by continuous drone strikes, last of which killed 24 people on Friday.

hose killed in these strikes.

Khan demanded that government should disclose identification details of causalities so that “we know how many women children and ordinary civilians have been killed.”

He asked will any other nation allow indiscriminate killing of its citizens? The fact that their identities are not disclosed casts serious doubts on claims that those killed in strikes were militants, he added.

Khan said the government is equally responsible in indiscriminate elimination of its citizens as it has consciously avoided disclosing identification details of those killed in American drone strikes.

“Our rulers are blindly supporting US claims of high precision drone strikes and minimum collateral damage when they are actually aware of details of civilian casualties in tribal areas,” he He said continuing drone assaults were in clear violation of international humanitarian laws. There is complete media censorship in tribal areas and resultantly no way to ascertain identities of tadded.

Rejecting the claims that these strikes are primarily carried out against foreign militants, he said statistics from independent organisations suggest that both US and Pakistan government are grossly under reporting civilian casualties. Accounts of local, western journalists suggest large number of civilians killed in these strikes.

The PTI chief said the government avoided commenting on stopping unilateral drone strikes that was one of most critical parliamentary preconditions before reopening Nato supply routes.

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Dealing Remote-Control Drone Death, the US Has Lost Its Moral Compass

Published on Saturday, May 4, 2013 by The Guardian/UK

Dealing Remote-Control Drone Death, the US Has Lost Its Moral Compass

Anti-drone protesters hold signs before the start of the Senate intelligence committee hearing on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director. (Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA)The armed drone is being heralded as the next generation of American military technology. It can fly overheard with its unblinking eye, almost invisible to its targets below. Without warning, its missiles will strike, bringing certain death and destruction on the ground. All the while, the military pilot, sitting in a cushioned recliner in an air-conditioned room halfway across the world, is immune from the violence wrought from his or her single keystroke.

While the debate about drones in this country swirls around the precision of the weapon, the sometimes faulty intelligence behind its unleashing of a missile, the ability to keep American boots off the ground, or the legality of the strikes, few take into consideration the morality of the weapon and the damaging effects of its use on both the people targeted and the individuals operating it. The ripples of the drone strikes are felt far beyond those killed or wounded in the actual strike.

Americans are just now becoming dimly aware of the problems and dangerous precedents being set for the future.

The drone is destabilizing the small tribal communities of the Pukhtun, Somali, and Yemeni with their ancient codes of honor, making it difficult to implement any long-term peace initiatives in the volatile regions already being pounded by their own militaries. Too many stories have filtered into the media of innocent men, women, and children being killed.

People have fled their families and their homes due to the constant violence and are forced to live as destitute and vulnerable refugees in the slums of larger cities. They are lost without the protection of clan and code. The drone is also feeding into a growing anti-Americanism, becoming a deadly symbol of the United States, and fueling the recruitment of future terrorists.

At one stroke, the drone has destroyed any positive image of the United States in the countries over which it operates. It has contributed to the destruction of the tribal codes of honor, such as Pukhtunwali among the Pukhtun tribes of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And this immorality and destructive nature reflects back on those who use it, harming the warrior ethic of the American military so critical to battlefield bonding among soldiers in combat.

The warrior ethos may be largely a myth but, like most myths, it protects something very important: the psychology of killing in the name of the state. That killing becomes nothing less than murder when the soldier doing it is utterly invulnerable. Most US citizens, so long divorced from any responsibility to take up arms and fight and kill, do not understand this. Soldiers – good ones – do. Such understanding was behind the recent cancellation by Secretary of Defense Hagel of the valor award for drone operators.

Moreover, remote-controlled killing is a dishonorable way of fighting battle, not simply because it often results in the deaths of women and children and removes the combatants from face-to-face combat. It is making war more like a video game and giving technicians the dissociated power of life and death for the figures on the screen before them. It is making war into murder.

After over a decade mired in a seemingly endless war against a methodology as old as time, it is clear that the extension of military force is increasingly counterproductive.

However precise the weapon, this is the reality and the price on the ground, destroying the codes so vital to both parties involved – those who are targets and the people who see them die and the operators at their computer terminals. The use of the drone is creating more problems than it is solving.

Americans are just now becoming dimly aware of the problems and dangerous precedents being set for the future. We have read reports of drones the size of a mosquito, police gaining possession of potentially armed domestic drones, and violations of the laws of privacy in the United States. These are apart from the fact that many foreign powers, many of which are hostile to us, will soon have broad access to drone technology without any mechanisms or international agreements to regulate its use.

Washington has plunged blindly ahead, neglecting law – both domestic and international – protocol, and ethical codes. We find it distressing that the debate on the drone, which has now picked up in the United States, remains so narrow – with none of these points being raised except in esoteric circles. The debate has been enmeshed in the emotional responses to the war on terror: if you like the drone, you are pro-American; if you don’t, you are anti-American. It has, unfortunately, become a definition of patriotism despite its destructive nature on both sides.

After over a decade mired in a seemingly endless war against a methodology as old as time, it is clear that the extension of military force is increasingly counterproductive. The United States needs to pursue political, economic, diplomatic, and law enforcement solutions.

Instead of sending missiles and funding military operations that destroy societies, the US and its allied central governments should be funding education projects and development schemes and promoting honest and just civil administration. In this effort, we all should be guided by the Jewish shibboleth tikkun olam, to go out and “heal a fractured world”.

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited
Lawrence Wilkerson

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson is distinguished adjunct professor of government and public policy at the College of William and Mary. Previously, during a 31-year career in the US army, served as chief of staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powel

Akbar Ahmed

Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun chair of Islamic studies at American Univerity in Washington, DC. He has also taught at Princeton, Harvard, and Cambridge Universities. Formerly, he was the Pakistan High Commissioner (ambassador) to the UK and Ireland. His most recent book is Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization (2011).

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Pakistanis Speak Up For Your Rohingya Muslim Brothers & Sisters In Global Press: Our Heart Weep For You, Our Beloved Rohingyas of Myanmar

 

Rohingya Muslims and liberals

 | 24th July, 2012
 
 
 

MORE than 20,000 Muslims have been decimated and displaced by the extremist Buddhists in Myanmar. It is also one of the most appalling arsenals in recent times.

The world’s liberal conscience and human rights groups went vitriolic when the Taliban gutted down Buddhist statues in Afghanistan. No one can either defend what the Taliban did. But I want to ask a simple question from Pakistan’s so-called liberal and pro-western sections of society: where is there liberal conscience now?

The NGOs and private sector human rights organisations, which anchor themselves on European liberalism and financial grants, went berserk on the Kohistan girls killings which turned out to be a canard. When Muslims reacted violently, and wrongly,
against the caricatures published in liberal Scandinavia, and when Facebook was temporarily blocked, the liberals of Pakistan went out of their dens to tear apart the orthodox and fundamentalist elements.

I wonder why the liberals’ conscience remains sleeping when Muslims are subject to torture and genocide. Even Pakistan’s public and social media’s response is very lackadaisical.

RIZWAN AKHTAR
United Kingdom

Persecution

IT was painful to read the report, ‘Myanmar conflict spurs hatred for Asia’s outcasts’, by Todd Pitma (June 15). This is in the backdrop of recent ethnic clashes between the Rohingya Muslims and Burmese Buddhists after a mob lynched 10 Muslims in apparent retaliation for the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman, allegedly by Muslims.

Asia’s more than one million ethnic Rohingya Muslims are considered by rights groups to be among the most persecuted people on the earth. “In Burma they’re told they’re illegals who should go back to Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, they’re told they’re Burmese who should go back home.

They have been persecuted for decades, and it’s only getting worse,” according to Chris Lewa, a rights worker. Some say they are descended from 7th century Arab settlers and that their state was conquered by the Burmese in 1784.

Recently, Bangladeshi coast guards turned back many boatloads of terrified Rohingya refugees trying to flee the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and even shot some of them.

Rohingya’s must get government permission to travel outside their own villages and even to marry. They are also barred from having more than two children.

In 1978, Myanmar’s army drove over 200,000 Rohingya’s into Bangladesh. Some 10,000 died in squalid conditions and the rest returned to Myanmar. The campaign was repeated in 1991-92, and again a majority returned.

In 2009, five boatloads of haggard Rohingya migrants fleeing Myanmar were intercepted by Thai authorities. They were reportedly detained and beaten, then forced back to sea, emaciated and bloodied, in vessels with no engines and little food or
water. Hundreds are believed to have drowned.

The same year, Myanmar’s consul general in Hong Kong — now a UN ambassador — described the Rohingyas as ‘ugly as ogres’ in an open letter to diplomats!

Obviously, there’s extreme hostility against these people. Besides other Asian countries, tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have made it to Pakistan. There’s Burma Colony in Karachi where a large number of them live peacefully. The UN and
OIC must take notice of the longstanding persecution of these unfortunate folks. The attention of our Myanmar friends is drawn to a wise teaching of Gautama Buddha. “Hatreds never cease by hate, but by love alone; this is an eternal truth.” To their UN
ambassador, the words of the Buddhist teacher Josei Toda may be instructive: “We don’t love others when we find them beautiful, we find others beautiful when we love them.”

K. CHAUDHRYUnknown-19
Karachi

UN and humanity

MORE than 20,000 Muslims have been killed in Myanmar by police, army and Buddhist extremists. Is this just and humanity?

Now I would like to ask the United Nations and human rights organisations, where are they? It is time the OIC took appropriate action to stop this violence and helped Muslims in Myanmar.

AZKA SHAFI
Karachi

Human rights

Rohingya people in Myanmar have been burnt in their villages and had to take refuge in the jungle. They have been turned away from where they might find sanctuary, while almost 90,000 have been forced out of their homes.The United Nations and humanitarian organisations must take notice of this bloodshed and the Security Council must probe into Aung San Suu Kyi’s government.

SHAHZAIB A. K. YUSUFZAI
Karachi

 
 

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