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Archive for June, 2013

Brig.(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja : Doha initiative renewed with mixed hopes

Doha initiative renewed with mixed hopes

Asif Haroon Raja

On assuming office in January 2009, Barack Obama shifted the US emphasis from Iraq to Afghanistan and within a year approved two troop surges to enable Gen McChrystal to wrest the initiative from Taliban and possibly defeat them. Increase in quantum of troops and launching a major operation in Helmand rather than weakening the Taliban further galvanized them to hit back more ferociously and causing more casualties upon ISAF. By June 2010, Obama came to the firm conclusion that there was no military solution in Afghanistan. Thereon, he launched a political prong to seek a political settlement. In December 2010, he gave the first hint of pulling out troops from Afghanistan much to the chagrin of Pentagon.

Gen David Petraeus didn’t sheathe the military prong in Afghanistan but kept postponing his impending military offensive in Kandahar in 2010 on the plea that Pakistan should first clear up the safe havens of militants in North Waziristan (NW). Attack in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011, unleashing of vitriolic propaganda against Pakistan establishment, activation of western front by absconder Fazlullah, Admiral Mullen’s diatribe against ISI describing it as a veritable arm of Haqqani network in reaction to Taliban attacks in Kabul on September 13, 2011 followed by murder of Burhanuddin Rabbani on September 20, 2011, and Salala massacre in November 2011 were a direct consequence of Pakistan’s refusal to mount a major operation in NW.   

Secret parleys were initiated by Obama’s administration and several Arab and European countries including Turkey and Pakistan were asked to play their role. Regional option was also tried by organizing meetings at London, Istanbul, Bonn, Chicago and Tokyo. Britain and France also held meetings in which Taliban representative sat as an observer. Saudi Arabia and Qatar kept persuading the Taliban to hold peace talks, while Karzai kept up his frenetic efforts to befriend Taliban and make them agree to share power. Former ISI chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha made a significant opening by arranging a meeting between US officials and Siraj Haqqani at Dubai in 2011. The meeting couldn’t lead to productive results because the US tried to create a wedge between Haqqanis and Mullah Omar. The US military, CIA, Karzai regime and India disfavoring talks with Taliban kept employing tricks to vitiate the atmosphere and to push Obama to change his stance.   

images-2Afghan peace process stalled in March 2012 because of the US failing to abide by its commitments on prisoners swap has recommenced with the opening of political office of the Taliban at Doha. Obama had backtracked mainly because of US Congress reservations. While the inauguration of the office and speech made by Taliban representative was being greeted the world over, the tenuous peace process ran into difficulties because of Hamid Karzai’s objections over the hoisting of Taliban flag and a plaque inscribed with ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ on Doha office building, which did give the impression of an independent Afghan Embassy. He boycotted the process in a huff and accused US and Qatar of violating the understandings given to him that the office would only act as a venue to allow Taliban to interact with the international community and advance the peace process. Karzai has never uttered a word against Baloch rebels hoisting Baloch flag in schools and colleges in Baloch inhabited interior Balochistan seeking independence. Rather, his regime assists them.     


Flag and plaque were not the bone of contention, but the real reason of Karzai’s annoyance was that he and Afghan High Peace Council (APHC) had been left out. Earlier on when the idea of opening of Taliban political office in Doha had almost materialized in Bonn conference held in December 2011, Karzai scuttled it by laying down a condition that the said office should be approached through APHC led by Salahuddin Rabbani only and not directly and insisted upon a MoU stipulating conditions of his choice. He later climbed down from his high horse during his visit to Washington after being ticked by Obama. But living up to his slippery character, he wriggled out of his commitment since he wanted a main role for himself in any talks with Taliban.


In order to give a fresh kick to the peace process, Obama after getting re-elected in November 2012 hastened to change his hawkish top leaders and bring in relatively moderate ones. John Brennan replaced Gen Petraeus as CIA Director, John Kerry replaced Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and Chuck Hagel took over from Leon Panetta as Secretary Defence. The new team realized the gravity of the obtaining security situation and the cutout date of December 2014 inching closer. They understood that unless Taliban agreed to hold talks and unless Pakistan helped, smooth transition was not possible.

Peace process picked up momentum after April 24, 2013 Brussels meeting between John Kerry, President Karzai and Gen Kayani. Ill-tempered Karzai’s unstoppable complaints against Pakistan military compelled Kerry and Kayani to jointly cross the last hurdle without him.


The breakthrough in Doha once again flared him up. He got miffed over secret backchannel efforts by the US and Pakistan without taking him along. He was ignored because he had proved to be a tetchy lame duck. Karzai didn’t pick up courage to admit that his hectic efforts since 2009 to woo the Taliban had completely failed. Heavy amount of secret funds he received from the CIA were used by him to buy the loyalties of Taliban senior leaders and other Pashtun notables but he failed to break Mullah Omar’s Shura. Pakistan was pressured by him and the US to release Taliban prisoners held in its custody. 20 prisoners were released by Pakistan as a goodwill gesture but this move also backfired since none approached Karzai or Salahuddin.  

Karzai’s Abject Failures 

When all his efforts failed he started blaming Pakistan. He has maintained a highly antagonistic posture towards our military establishment and ISI as is evident from his invectives he off and on hurls and the interview he gave to Salim Safi on Geo TV on June 17, 2013. He reiterated his stance of non-recognition of Durand Line and held military establishment responsible for destabilization of Afghanistan and prevention of peace talks with Taliban. With this colored mindset, it was natural for him to burst out when he learnt that Gen Kayani and Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam were instrumental in persuading the Taliban to start the peace talks. 


Karzai Tantrums

Karzai’s tantrums not only marred the big event but also delayed the commencement of formal peace talks between the US and Taliban in early June. To put pressure on Washington, he hanged up Afghan-US strategic partnership agreement which he and Obama had gladly signed on May 01, 2012 in Kabul. The agreement had yet to decide the issue of retention of military bases by US forces beyond 2014. Reportedly, Karzai had given his consent for nine bases and retention of up to 15,000 US forces in the garb of trainers and advisers till 2024 but this was to be approved by Afghan Loya Jirga.


He ignored the historic significance of peace process over which hinges the hope of ending the bloodshed in Afghanistan and peace in the region. The Taliban acted wisely and ceded to the US and Qatar’s request to remove the contentious flag and the plaque and saved the process from getting disrupted once again. They were sensible enough to realize the importance of this event for them when seen in the backdrop of their unabated persecution since October 2001 and isolation from the world comity. The whole world is now recognizing them as a legitimate stakeholder and requesting them to end the war and arrive at a political settlement.

Taliban Pledge 

The Taliban formally announced in Doha that they will not allow Afghan soil to threaten other countries and also expressed readiness to meet other Afghan factions, which meant Gulbadin Hikmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami, Northern Alliance and others. This was in sharp contrast to policies pursued by Karzai and his patrons who have been misusing Afghan soil for cross border terrorism in Pakistan. Taliban didn’t give a firm commitment of severing ties with al-Qaeda as had been demanded by Washington, but their undertaking to disallow others to use Afghan soil to harm others was accepted as a good enough starter. The Taliban didn’t insist on releasing their five prisoners imprisoned in Guantanamo as a pre-requisite for talks. The US had also softened its stance by not insisting upon the implementation of its three pre-conditions of breaking ties with al-Qaeda, renouncing violence and accepting Afghan Constitution framed by Karzai regime at the behest of US.

US Should Rein in Hamid Karzai, India, & Other Spoilers, who want Peace Talks to Fail 

Notwithstanding the significance of recommencement of Doha initiative, the process is still fragile and vulnerable to disruption given the vested groups hell-bent to fail it. While the US and Taliban would have to set aside their aspersions and distrust for each other and proceed forward with open and generous minds, the US will have to reign in the spoilers trying to derail the process. Pakistan is the only country which has contacts with Taliban and other militant groups in Afghanistan as well as with important leaders of NA and hence is in an enviable position to play a pivotal role in forging a political solution provided its due place is recognized by all stakeholders and is trusted. Doha office is just the beginning and the path forward is riddled with complexities requiring patience, coolness of mind and large-heartedness by all concerned.   


Additional Reading:

Afghan peace process: Pakistan fears breakdown of Doha initiative

Published: June 26, 2013

PM Nawaz Sharif hosts US envoy James Dobbins, along with National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz and General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at the Prime Minister’s Office. PHOTO: INP


As the Doha peace process stumbled into early roadblocks this week, Pakistan expressed fears that the initiative might break down due to the ‘contradictory approach’ of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration. This comes as US President Barack Obama’s pointman for the region travelled to Islamabad on Tuesday in a desperate bid to break the deadlock in the fledgling peace process.

James Dobbins, US special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif amidst uncertainty about the fate of the recently-inaugurated Taliban ‘political office’ in the Qatari capital to find a negotiated settlement of the 12-year old conflict in Afghanistan.

Premier Nawaz was accompanied by his aide on national security and foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Dobbins briefed the prime minister about the developments relating to the opening of the Taliban office in Doha, according to an official statement.

Dobbins flew into Islamabad from Kabul where he attempted to address President Karzai’s concerns over the nature of the Doha office.

He acknowledged Pakistan’s key role in the Afghan reconciliation process. Although Pakistan does not have a  ‘controlling influence’ over the Taliban, it has more influence on the ultraconservative militia than any other country.

Premier Nawaz told Ambassador Dobbins that Pakistan had the highest stakes in the return of peace and stability to Afghanistan. He assured him of Pakistan’s full commitment to an ‘Afghan-led and Afghan-owned’ peace process and highlighted various steps Islamabad has taken in this regard, said the statement.

The prime minister also pointed out that the situation in Afghanistan had reached a crucial phase and this called for Pakistan and the United States to remain closely engaged.

Following talks with the US envoy, Nawaz also telephoned President Karzai to assure him of Pakistan’s support in the Afghan peace process.

Ambassador Dobbins told reporters after the meeting that President Karzai was ready for talks but the onus was now on the Taliban. “The Afghan Taliban tried to stage a propaganda coup,” Dobbins said referring to the hoisting of the flag of the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ atop the building where the Taliban set up their ‘political office’ in Doha last week.

The Karzai administration reacted angrily to the move and said that the Taliban were trying to portray themselves as a government-in-exile through the Qatar office. Karzai said the Afghan High Peace Council, the government-sponsored body set up to make peace with the Taliban, would not take part in the Doha initiative unless the process was ‘Afghan-led’.

However, in a background briefing, a senior official at Pakistan’s foreign ministry told a group of journalists that it was very difficult to conclude at this stage whether the Qatar process would achieve any success. “We want the process to be successful but given Karazi’s position the dialogue process may collapse,” cautioned the official.

He went on to say that it appeared that President Karzai neither wanted the Doha initiative nor next year’s Afghan presidential elections to succeed. The assessment of top Pakistani foreign policymaker appears to suggest the Doha process may not take off anytime soon.

TTP supports Doha talks

In a related development, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the outlawed conglomerate of militant groups blamed for most violence in the country, welcomed the Doha initiative.

In a video message, the group’s spokesperson Ehsanullah Ahsan said on Tuesday that the TTP was a wing of the Afghan Taliban and “they are subordinate of Ameer-ul-Momineen Mullah Omar and obey his orders.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2013.


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Pakistani people should remain alert, as Nawaz Sharif is extremely incompetent and is not likely to handle stress of war.  

Power Drunk India is blinded by its own self-glorification, so much so, that Indian Army is losing its sense of Critical Thinking & Objectivity, which is a recipe for disaster e.g. Egypt 1967 War, US Vietnam War, Soviet Unuin Afghanistan War.Here is how theur thinking going as captured by the viciously Anti-Pakistan British Journal, the Economist:-

India as a great power

Know your own strength

India is poised to become one of the four largest military powers in the world by the end of the decade.

It needs to think about what that means

(These Pakistani Missiles are all India Centric and cover all Indian Strategic Formation Centers)

UNLIKE many other Asian countries—and in stark contrast to neighbouring Pakistan—India has never been run by its generals. The upper ranks of the powerful civil service of the colonial Raj were largely Hindu, while Muslims were disproportionately represented in the army. On gaining independence the Indian political elite, which had a strong pacifist bent, was determined to keep the generals in their place. In this it has happily succeeded.

But there have been costs. One is that India exhibits a striking lack of what might be called a strategic culture. It has fought a number of limited wars—one with China, which it lost, and several with Pakistan, which it mostly won, if not always convincingly—and it faces a range of threats, including jihadist terrorism and a persistent Maoist insurgency. Yet its political class shows little sign of knowing or caring how the country’s military clout should be deployed.

That clout is growing fast. For the past five years India has been the world’s largest importer of weapons (see chart). A deal for $12 billion or more to buy 126 Rafale fighters from France is slowly drawing towards completion. India has more active military personnel than any Asian country other than China, and its defence budget has risen to $46.8 billion. Today it is the world’s seventh-largest military spender; IHS Jane’s, a consultancy, reckons that by 2020 it will have overtaken Japan, France and Britain to come in fourth. It has a nuclear stockpile of 80 or more warheads to which it could easily add more, and ballistic missiles that can deliver some of them to any point in Pakistan. It has recently tested a missile with a range of 5,000km (3,100 miles), which would reach most of China.

Which way to face?

Apart from the always-vocal press and New Delhi’s lively think-tanks, India and its leaders show little interest in military or strategic issues. Strategic defence reviews like those that take place in America, Britain and France, informed by serving officers and civil servants but led by politicians, are unknown in India. The armed forces regard the Ministry of Defence as woefully ignorant on military matters, with few of the skills needed to provide support in areas such as logistics and procurement (they also resent its control over senior promotions). Civil servants pass through the ministry rather than making careers there. The Ministry of External Affairs, which should be crucial to informing the country’s strategic vision, is puny. Singapore, with a population of 5m, has a foreign service about the same size as India’s. China’s is eight times larger.

The main threats facing India are clear: an unstable, fading but dangerous Pakistan; a swaggering and intimidating China. One invokes feelings of superiority close to contempt, the other inferiority and envy. In terms of India’s regional status and future prospects as a “great power”, China matters most; but the vexatious relationship with Pakistan still dominates military thinking.

A recent attempt to thaw relations between the two countries is having some success. But tension along the “line of control” that separates the two sides in the absence of an agreed border in Kashmir can flare up at any time. To complicate things, China and Pakistan are close, and China is not above encouraging its grateful ally to be a thorn in India’s side. Pakistan also uses jihadist terrorists to conduct a proxy war against India “under its nuclear umbrella”, as exasperated Indians put it. The attack on India’s parliament in 2001 by Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terrorist group with close links to Pakistan’s intelligence service, brought the two countries to the brink of war. The memory of the 2008 commando raid on Mumbai by Lashkar-e-Taiba, another terrorist organisation, is still raw.

Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities are a constant concern. Its arsenal of warheads, developed with Chinese assistance, is at least as large as India’s and probably larger. It has missiles of mainly Chinese design that can reach most Indian cities and, unlike India, it does not have a “no first use” policy. Indeed, to offset the growing superiority of India’s conventional forces, it is developing nuclear weapons for the battlefield that may be placed under the control of commanders in the field.

 For much of the past decade the army has been working on a doctrine known as “Cold Start” that would see rapid armoured thrusts into Pakistan with close air support. The idea is to inflict damage on Pakistan’s forces at a mere 72 hours’ notice, seizing territory quickly enough not to incur a nuclear response. At a tactical level, this assumes a capacity for high-tech combined-arms warfare that India may not possess. At the strategic level it supposes that Pakistan will hesitate before unleashing nukes, and it sits ill with the Indian tradition of strategic restraint. Civilian officials and politicians unconvincingly deny that Cold Start even exists.

Bharat Karnad of the Centre for Policy Research, a think-tank, believes Pakistan’s main danger to India is as a failed state, not a military adversary. He sees Cold Start as a “blind alley” which wastes military and financial resources that should be used to deter the “proto-hegemon”, China. Others agree. In 2009 A.K. Antony, the defence minister, told the armed forces that they should consider China rather than Pakistan the main threat to India’s security and deploy themselves accordingly. But not much happened. Mr Karnad sees feeble civilian strategic direction combining with the army’s innate conservatism to stop India doing what it needs to.

The “line of actual control” between China and India in Arunachal Pradesh, which the Chinese refer to as South Tibet, is not as tense as the one in Kashmir. Talks between the two countries aimed at resolving the border issue have been going on for ten years and 15 rounds. In official statements both sides stress that the dispute does not preclude partnership in pursuit of other goals.

But it is hard to ignore the pace of military investment on the Chinese side of the line. Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies points to the construction of new railways, 58,000km of all-weather roads, five air bases, supply hubs and communication posts. China would be able to strike with power and speed if it decided to seize the Indian-controlled territory which it claims as its own, says Mr Karnad. He thinks the Indian army, habituated to “passive-reactive” planning when it comes to the Chinese, has deprived itself of the means to mount a counter-offensive.

Unable to match Chinese might on land, an alternative could be to respond at sea. Such a riposte was floated in a semi-official strategy document called “Nonalignment 2.0”, promoted last year by some former national security advisers and blessed by the current one, Shivshankar Menon. India’s naval advantage might allow it, for example, to impede oil traffic heading for China through the Malacca Strait.

China and India are both rapidly developing their navies from coastal defence forces into instruments that can project power further afield; within this decade, they expect to have three operational carrier groups each. Some Indian strategists believe that, as China extends its reach into the Indian Ocean to safeguard its access to natural resources, the countries’ navies are as likely to clash as their armies.

Two if by sea

An ocean needs a navy

China’s navy is expanding at a clip that India cannot match—by 2020 it is expected to have 73 major warships and 78 submarines, 12 of them nuclear—but India’s sailors are highly competent. They have been operating an aircraft-carrier since the 1960s, whereas China is only now getting into the game. India fears China’s development of facilities at ports in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar—a so-called “string of pearls” around the ocean that bears India’s name; Mr Antony called the announcement in February that a Chinese company would run the Pakistani port of Gwadar a “matter of concern”. China sees a threat in India’s developing naval relationships with Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and, most of all, America. India now conducts more naval exercises with America than with any other country.

India’s navy has experience, geography and some powerful friends on its side. However, it is still the poor relation to India’s other armed services, with only 19% of the defence budget compared with 25% for the air force and 50% for the army.

The air force also receives the lion’s share of the capital-equipment budget—double the amount given to the navy. It is buying the Rafales from France and upgrading its older, mainly Russian, fighters with new weapons and radars. A joint venture between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Russia’s Sukhoi is developing a “fifth generation” strike fighter to rival America’s F-35. As well as indulging its pilots’ need for speed, though, the air force is placing a new emphasis on “enablers”. It is negotiating the purchase of six Airbus A330 military tankers and five new airborne early-warning and control aircraft. It has also addressed weaknesses in heavy lift by buying ten giant Boeing C-17 transports, with the prospect of more to come. Less clear is the priority the air force gives to the army’s requirements for close air support over its more traditional role of air defence, particularly after losing a squabble over who operates combat helicopters.

With the army training for a blitzkrieg against Pakistan and the navy preparing to confront Chinese blue-water navy, it is easy to get the impression that each service is planning for its own war without much thought to the requirements of the other two. Lip-service is paid to co-operation in planning, doctrine and operations, but this “jointness” is mostly aspirational. India lacks a chief of the defence staff of the kind most countries have. The government, ever-suspicious of the armed forces, appears not to want a single point of military advice. Nor do the service chiefs, jealous of their own autonomy.


(PAKISTAN ARMED FORCESVIEW: Like the Flops of DRDO, the Blitzkrieg of Indian Army may leave a Big Trench of Nuclear Waste in What is now called  India. Ghauri, Ghaznavi, Tipu, Nasr, and Shaheen in hundreds will decimate the Indian Army before, it leaves its Cantonments)

The absence of a strategic culture and the distrust between civilian-run ministries and the armed forces has undermined military effectiveness in another way—by contributing to a procurement system even more dysfunctional than those of other countries. The defence industrial sector, dominated by the sprawling Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), remains stuck in state control and the country’s protectionist past. According to a recent defence-ministry audit, only 29% of the products developed by the DRDO in the past 17 years have entered service with the armed forces. The organisation is a byword for late-arriving and expensive flops.

The cost of developing a heavy tank, the Arjun, exceeded the original estimates by 20 times. But according to Ajai Shukla, a former officer who now writes on defence for the Business Standard, the army wants to stick with its elderly Russian T-72s and newer T-90s, fearing that the Arjun, as well as being overweight, may be unreliable. A programme to build a light combat aircraft to replace the Mirages and MiG-21s of an earlier generation started more than quarter of a century ago. But the Tejas aircraft that resulted has still not entered service.

There are signs of slow change. These include interest in allowing partnerships between India’s small but growing private-sector defence firms and foreign companies, which should stimulate technology transfer. But the deal to buy the Rafale has hit difficulties because, though Dassault would prefer to team up with private-sector firms such as Tata and Reliance, the government wants it to work with stodgy HAL. Even if Dassault had a free choice of partners, though, it is not clear that Indian industry could handle the amount of work the contract seeks to set aside for it.

Richard Bitzinger, a former RAND Corporation analyst now at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, sums up the problem in a recent study for the Zurich-based International Relations and Security Network. If India does not stop coddling its existing state-run military-industrial complex, he says, it will never be capable of supplying its armed forces with the modern equipment they require. Without a concerted reform effort, a good part of the $200 billion India is due to spend on weaponry over the next 15 years looks likely to be wasted.

Our interactive map demonstrates how the territorial claims of India, Pakistan and China would change the shape of South Asia

The tiger and the eagle

The money it will spend abroad also carries risks. Big foreign deals lend themselves to corruption. Investigations into accusations of bribery can delay delivery of urgently needed kit for years. The latest “scandal” of this sort surrounds a $750m order for helicopters from Italy’s Finmeccanica. The firm denies any wrongdoing, but the deal has been put on hold.

Britain, France, Israel and, above all, Russia (which still accounts for more than half of India’s military imports), look poised to be beneficiaries of the coming binge. America will get big contracts, too. But despite a ground-breaking civil nuclear deal in 2005 and the subsequent warming of relations, America is still regarded as a less politically reliable partner in Delhi. The distrust stems partly from previous arms embargoes, partly from America’s former closeness to Pakistan, partly from India’s concerns about being the junior partner in a relationship with the world’s pre-eminent superpower.

The dilemma over how close to get to America is particularly acute when it comes to China. America and India appear to share similar objectives. Neither wants the Indian Ocean to become a Chinese “lake”. But India does not want to provoke China into thinking that it is ganging up with America. And it worries that the complex relationship between America and China, while often scratchy, is of such vital importance that, in a crisis, America would dump India rather than face down China. An Indian navy ordered to close down China’s oil supplies would not be able to do so if its American friends were set against it.



India’s search for the status appropriate to its ever-increasing economic muscle remains faltering and uncertain. Its problems with Pakistan are not of the sort that can be solved militarily. Mr Karnad argues that India, from a position of strength, should build better relations with Pakistan through some unilateral gestures, for example cutting back the size of the armoured forces massed in the deserts of Rajasthan and withdrawing its short-range missiles. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, head of Pakistan’s army, has declared internal terrorism to be a greater danger to his country than India. That may also offer an opportunity.





China’s confidence in its new military power is unnerving to India. But if a condescending China in its pomp is galling, one in economic trouble or political turmoil and pandering to xenophobic popular opinion would be worse. Japan and South Korea have the reassurance of formal alliances with America. India does not. It is building new relationships with its neighbours to the east through military co-operation and trade deals. But it is reluctant to form or join more robust institutional security frameworks.

Instead of clear strategic thinking, India shuffles along, impeded by its caution and bureaucratic inertia. The symbol of these failings is India’s reluctance to reform a defence-industrial base that wastes huge amounts of money, supplies the armed forces with substandard kit and leaves the country dependent on foreigners for military modernisation.

Since independence India has got away with having a weak strategic culture. Its undersized military ambitions have kept it out of most scrapes and allowed it to concentrate on other things instead. But as China bulks up, India’s strategic shortcomings are becoming a liability. And they are an obstacle to India’s dreams of becoming a true 21st-century power.

Indian Website UNREAL TIMES as usual in Propaganda Mode

Pakistan develops new missile to match India’s Agni, gloats “ours is bigger than India’s”

July 2, 2011 | Filed under: Pakistan | Posted by: 


The Pakistan Military announced the successful test launch of a long range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Although Pakistan’s medium range ballistic missile Ghauri can reach any part of India, the Paksitani defense establishment has always wanted to develop a nuclear capable longer range version to achieve parity with India in the missile race. The new Pakistani missile outscores India’s Agni in all parameters –it  has a longer range, can carry a bigger payload, and (gasp) is bigger in size too. “We can now say with heads held high that ours is bigger than India’s. Pakistan’s izzat has been restored” remarked General Kayani, after the missile’s successful test trial off the coast of Baluchistan.

The new missile is believed to be a replica of the Chinese ICBM “Ding-a-ling”. However, Dr. Hasnat Khan, a missile scientist in Pakistan’s Kahuta Research Laboratories refutes this. “The prototype may be of Chinese origin but the external design is completely indigenous. We repainted the missile green and erased those indecipherable Chinese characters that were such an eye sore” he said with pride.

Defense experts believe the new missile will 'enhance the Pakistan Army's virility'

Professor of Strategic Studies at Centre for Policy Research, Dr.Brahma Chellaney,  has predicted that “this new acquisition will inject ‘cockiness’ into Indo-Pak ties”. The first sign of this became evident when Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, Salman Bashir, told his Indian counterpart jocularly during the recently held foreign secretary talks that “Pakistan is now more virile than India”. India’s Foreign Secretary, Nirupam Rao, was taken aback by this ribaldry. “Men can be such… pricks when it comes to gloating about missiles. I chose to ignore the innuendo completely” said the elegant and dignified lady. Prominent India baiter and LeT leader, Hafeez Sayeed, reportedly proclaimed at a public rally in Lahore, “Ab India ko C*** ke rakh denge” in chaste Urdu to a round of applause.


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Money Pit: The Monstrous Failure of US Aid to Afghanistan

Money Pit: The Monstrous Failure of US Aid to Afghanistan

More than half of Afghanistan’s population is under twenty-five, which shouldn’t be surprising since the average life span there is forty-nine. But the United States Agency for International Development looked at this group and decided it needed help because, it said, these young people are “disenfranchised, unskilled, uneducated, neglected—and most susceptible to joining the insurgency.” So the agency chartered a three-year, $50 million program intended to train members of this generation to become productive members of Afghan society. Two years into it, the agency’s inspector general had a look at the work thus far and found “little evidence that the project has made progress toward” its goals.

The full report offered a darker picture than this euphemistic summary, documenting a near-total failure. It also showed that USAID had handed the project over to a contractor and then paid little attention. Unfortunately, the same can be said for almost every foreign-aid project undertaken in Afghanistan since the war began eleven years ago.

In a recent quarterly report, the US special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction said that, when security for aid workers is figured in, the total amount of nonmilitary funds Washington has appropriated since 2002 “is approximately $100 billion”—more than the US has ever spent to rebuild a country. That estimate came out in July. Since then, Congress has appropriated another $16.5 billion for “reconstruction.” And all of that has not bought the United States or the Afghans a single sustainable institution or program.

What has all that spending accomplished? “The short answer is not so much,” said Masood Farivar, a senior Afghan journalist. Or, as the International Crisis Group put it, “despite billions of dollars in aid, state institutions remain fragile and unable to provide good governance, deliver basic services to the majority of the population or guarantee human security.”

So, has the United States utterly wasted more than $100 billion? Karl Eikenberry, former US ambassador and military commander in Afghanistan, notes that the state has more roads and schools than ever before. More people in Kabul have electricity. “There have been impressive gains in education and health,” Eikenberry said. “Transportation in Afghanistan is better than at any time in history.”

All of that is true, although these gains were achieved starting from “an extremely low base,” as the World Bank put it. In fact, when the United States invaded in 2001, the nation was destitute, its population almost totally illiterate, and Kabul, its capital, largely a collection of mud huts. By almost any measure, Afghanistan was—and may still be—the most primitive nation on earth.

After all the money spent, still today, the CIA says, Afghanistan has the world’s highest infant mortality rate; one hundred and twenty-two of every thousand children die before they reach age one. UNICEF reports that fifty-nine percent of the nation’s children grow up “stunted” for lack of nutrition during the early years of life. That’s the world’s second-worst rate, behind Ethiopia. And even after more than a decade of intensive development aid from not only the United States but dozens of other nations, Afghanistan still ranks near the bottom on per capita income, literacy, life expectancy, electricity usage, Internet penetration, and on the World Bank’s broad Human Development Index.

As for all those new schools: The Taliban have attacked, bombed, or blown up hundreds of them—more than one hundred just last year, the UN reported. And for those that remain standing, few have electricity or running water. Teachers are barely educated, often unpaid, “and the text books are mostly outdated,” said Javid Ahmad, an Afghan writer and former aid worker there. “They’re mostly Pakistani, Iranian or Indian, published in the seventies or eighties.”

People love to talk about how many more girls are in school now, he acknowledged. But no one talks about what they’re actually learning.


It would be easy to blame all of this on the Afghans, and of course the state’s corrupt, ineffectual government is playing an important role. But the United States, its aid agencies, and its contractors carry a lion’s share of blame. A few weeks after Hillary Clinton took office as secretary of state in 2009, she was despairing about the effectiveness of aid to Afghanistan: “There is very little credibility for what was invested,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking.” From that day forward, she promised, the government would “look at every single dollar, as to how it’s spent and where it’s going, and trying to track the outcome.”

Well, almost two years later, when Pentagon Inspector General Gordon Heddell was testifying before Congress, Representative John F. Tierney, a Massachusetts Democrat, asked him about still another case when a contractor overbilled the government—by more than $500 million this time. Heddell acknowledged: “Obviously this is an example of just about how bad it can get. And, clearly, this happened. It wasn’t a well designed, well thought out contract.”

Then last September, the special inspector general’s office, widely known as SIGAR, noted that for the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years, the United States has been providing Afghanistan, practically the most corrupt nation on earth, with $1.1 billion in fuel for the Afghan military—even though the US has made no effort to determine how much fuel the military actually requires.

When SIGAR looked, it found that the Afghan military was counting trailers and other non-motorized conveyances in its list of vehicles needing fuel. What’s more, it had destroyed all records of fuel dispersals between 2007 and 2011, “in violation of DoD and Department of the Army policies,” the report said. Special Inspector General John Sopko told Congress he found this “deeply troubling.”

Anecdotes like these have become so common that congressmen and other government officials, like Hillary Clinton, now have a note of resignation in their voices when they ask why this is so. Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, says trying to spend aid money in Afghanistan “is like giving booze and car keys to a teenager.” Or as Eikenberry puts it: It’s like “trying to do development on an outpost on the moon. They’re still stuck in the fourteenth century. It’s just such a depressing thing.”

In all of their nation’s history, Afghans have never seen such wealth or experienced such beneficence as the West is providing now. But instead of creating a model program of nation building, all of that has badly distorted the economy and the people’s expectations.

“Afghanistan in many ways is sort of a perfect case study of how not to give aid,” said Heather Barr, Human Rights Watch’s longtime representative in Afghanistan. “We give money in some very foolish ways.” And Halvorssen sees the problem as “a complete lack of accountability in the way the US government spends money.”

To begin with, nearly a dozen government auditing agencies have been warning for almost a decade about the foolhardy way USAID, the Defense Department, and other agencies hand over multimillion-dollar construction projects to private, for-profit contractors—and then completely neglect to monitor what they’re doing with the money, leading to some amazing failures.

As the Government Accountability Office put it in a damning report just a few months ago: “We reported in July 2004 that DoD did not always have sufficient oversight personnel to manage and oversee” its contracts in Afghanistan. “In December 2006, we noted that without an adequate number of trained oversight personnel, DoD could not be assured that contractors could meet contract requirements efficiently and effectively.”

Then, “in 2007, the Commission on Army Acquisition and Program Management” found that contract managers “had no experience managing contracts” and received inappropriate training. In 2011, the report added, the congressional Commission on Wartime Contracting reported “poor performance by contractors had resulted in wasted resources, missions not being achieved and the loss of lives.”

And then, in that same report, the GAO cited several embarrassing miscarriages:

  • For $130,000, Afghan contractors built a large shower/bathroom facility “without holes in the walls or floors for plumbing and drains.” What’s more, the walls were constructed of “crumbling cinder blocks.” The report blamed insufficient oversight. That was most certainly true. But in addition, UNICEF statistics show that seventy percent of Afghans have no access to a toilet and may in fact never have seen one. How could they know what’s involved in installing them? 
  • Defense Department personnel told the GAO about “a dining facility in Afghanistan that was built without a kitchen,” once again because of absent oversight.
  • A guard tower “at a forward operating base was poorly constructed and unsafe to occupy. The staircase was unstable and not strong enough” to climb. As usual, the problem wasn’t discovered until the tower was finished. “It had to be torn down.”
  • “In another instance, an entire compound of five buildings was built in the wrong location.” It was supposed to be located within the military base’s security walls, but the contractors inexplicably built the compound just outside—for $2.4 million. No one noticed until the project was completed. “The buildings could not be used.” 


At the heart of these problems and so many others sits the “contracting officer’s representative,” widely known as the COR. He’s “ultimately responsible for insuring that contractors meet the requirements set forth in the contract,” the GAO notes.

A COR may or may not be in the military. But all of them share certain qualities, according to several government reports. Few have any background in contracting or oversight. They are woefully under-trained. Most have another job and can oversee contracts only in their spare time. The military and aid agencies hire too few of them; some have a dozen or more contracts in various locations they’re supposed to monitor all at the same time.

CORs work in an extremely dangerous environment, so they can’t always even get to the contract sites. As a result, multimillion-dollar contracts are often handed over to companies that are left entirely alone to pursue the projects as they see fit. Very often, American officials see or hear nothing about the work until it’s finished and the contractor comes by to be paid. How else could an entire compound be built, finished, and made ready to use before anyone noticed it was outside the security wall?


There could be no better example of what ails the effort to build Afghanistan than USAID’s absurdly named IDEA-NEW program. The purpose of this five-year, $150 million endeavor was to create new economic opportunities for the nation’s opium-poppy farmers that would dissuade them from the illicit trade that has made Afghanistan the world’s largest supplier of opium, used to make heroin.

As soon as the first tranche of money from Washington arrived in Afghanistan, the program administrators, without telling anyone, decided they just didn’t like this idea. So they began spending millions of dollars to provide local economic opportunities—without any regard to the drug trade. Even at that they did a poor job. For example, they hired workers to build or repair three hundred and seventy-seven kilometers of irrigation. The workers managed only forty.

Typically, of course, USAID staff  “did not make sufficient site visits to properly monitor the program and did not analyze progress reports or confirm their accuracy,” the agency’s inspector general later said.

During the course of this program intended to turn farmers away from poppy cultivation, the UN said Afghanistan’s opium crop actually surged by sixty-one percent. The nation still produces 90 percent of the world’s opium.

The problems are not limited to development contracts like this one. The United States has spent at least an additional $51 billion to train the Afghan military since 2002, and in its most recent semi-annual report to Congress on the war, the Pentagon offered ebullient enthusiasm for the Afghan defense minister’s battle against “widespread corruption” in his department.

Military chief Abdul Rahim Wardak, the report boasted, “has personally taken ownership of anti-corruption reforms within the Ministry of Defense and is fighting to make” his ministry “an example for the rest of Afghanistan.”

A few weeks later, in an event that could stand as a parable for the entire training mission, Wardak was forced to resign after the Afghan Parliament voted to dismiss him because of widespread corruption in his ministry. (Almost right away, President Hamid Karzai gave Wardak a prestigious medal and appointed him as his “senior security advisor.”)


After ten years of training, Afghan security forces remain totally incapable of operating on their own, as the US military quietly acknowledges. And the Afghan government remains so corrupt and ineffectual that, as the Army said in that report to Congress, it “bolsters insurgent messaging.” In other words, great PR for the Taliban.

The US military budgeted $11.2 billion more for military training during 2012 and has requested another $5.8 billion for 2013. Meanwhile, military trainers, almost on the sly, changed the rules for judging their success. Since training began, they had measured their progress by counting the number of newly trained Afghan units capable of fighting independently, without any assistance from NATO forces. Now the training mission acknowledges that none of the Afghan forces are ready to fight on their own. The highest rating for trained Afghan forces today is “independent—with advisers.” In other words, Afghan units that can fight effectively only if US or other NATO troops come along. And the military reports that only fourteen percent of Afghan army units are capable even of that. Of course, the larger problem is that, soon enough, they will have no coalition forces to call upon.

Another big problem is illiteracy. Almost three years ago, when Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell IV took command of the NATO training mission, he noted that “overall literacy” among Afghan military and police stood “at about fourteen percent.”
How can an illiterate policeman read a license plate, the general asked. How can a soldier fill out a form, read an equipment manual, or “calculate trajectory for field artillery?”

Now, even though these concerns have been on the table for years, the special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction said in last summer’s report: “The literacy rate of” Afghan security forces “as a whole is 11 percent.”

In almost every measurable way, the training mission is losing ground. In a 2010 status report, the mission said it lacked trained, competent men to serve as noncommissioned officers—an essential need for any military. The report cited “a shortage of approximately” ten thousand five hundred noncoms. Two years later, after huge expenditures, the military told Congress, the Afghan army is now short by ten thousand six hundred.

And then there’s the so-called attrition problem, soldiers who simply don’t show up. Most are deserters. That has forced NATO trainers to change the rules once again. Previously, if eighty-five percent of a unit’s personnel showed up for duty, that was deemed sufficient. Now, the military says, it’s willing to accept “not less than seventy-five percent” of authorized levels. The military has to replace one-third of the force each year because of desertions and low re-enlistment. In its most recent report, SIGAR had even more bad news. As Western forces begin drawing down, they are turning over more and more of their forward bases and equipment to Afghan security forces. But the special inspector general found that they “do not have the capability to operate and maintain garrisons and training centers built for them.” As a result, “billions of dollars of US taxpayer funds will be at risk of going to waste.”

Last February, for example, American soldiers turned over a forward operating base west of Kabul to their Afghan counterparts. When the Americans returned in August, they found what they described as a “dismal scene.” The Afghan soldiers hadn’t kept up the generator and were down to three hours of electricity a day. Nearly all of their vehicles had broken down. They had no working night-vision goggles, so they were largely defenseless after dark.

The problem isn’t just their barracks. The US tried to install anesthesia, X-ray, ventilator, and defibrillator devices worth $1.75 billion in Afghan military hospitals, but SIGAR found that Afghan staffers were completely incapable of maintaining the equipment because they did not have “the requisite technical expertise.” US officials issued a “stop work” order.

During the early 1980s, when the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan, “significant Soviet funding” went to train Afghan soldiers and police fighting anti-government forces, the International Crisis Group reported. Just like today, however, Russians “were unable to stem desertions in the military,” forcing Moscow to send in one hundred and five thousand more of its own troops. Eventually, of course, the Soviet Union was forced to withdraw, and the Afghan military immediately began to dissolve.


Eikenberry and others place part of the blame for all of these problems on the foundations of the modern state, settled during the Bonn Conference in 2002, when Afghan officials, along with American and other Western leaders, devised the country’s post-Taliban form of government.

“The state that was constructed in 2002 wasn’t in accord with realities on the ground,” Eikenberry said. The participants settled on a unitary national government, even though “Afghanistan has never had a strong unitary state. That was an error of the international community and an error of the Afghans.” Actually, it seemed to be another case of wishful thinking. Western leaders wanted to build an Afghan state that looked just like their own. But as Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen put it, that couldn’t work because “everything is impacted by the culture of the place where you are working.”

Even now, more than ten years later, James Hoge, chairman of the board for Human Rights Watch, said: “The government remains all but invisible in much of the countryside.” The provincial and local governments the West has tried to strengthen, he added, “have not responded very well. There’s a government vacuum.”

Incredibly, since 2003 USAID has spent $1.1 billion on promoting “local governance and community development.” Once again, it failed to monitor the ongoing work, the special inspector general reported, and continues spending money on it despite “indications that, at best, the program had mixed results”—a generous assessment.

Today, local warlords and almost non-existent local government officers are the only people available to backstop the CORs. But locals regard foreign contractors, NGOs, and human-rights organizations with suspicion, Masood Farivar, the Afghan journalist, said. “They view them as another arm of the American-led occupation pursuing their own vested interests.”

As for the contractors, the rules require US aid officials to hire Afghans first, if qualified people are available. Whether the workers are Afghan or foreign, Afghan writer Javid Ahmad is despairing of the system in play now.

“I’ve been through this; I’ve watched them,” he said. “They forge reports. They say: ‘We’ve done this or that.’ I’m very skeptical about how millions more dollars are going to help.”

But that’s what the world is planning to do. At a summit in Tokyo last summer, American and other world leaders pledged $16 billion more in nonmilitary aid to be spent through 2015, the year after Western forces are supposed to leave. In their formal declaration, the conferees said they wanted to emphasize “the importance of the delivery of assistance through adhering to the principles of aid effectiveness, that they cannot continue ‘business as usual’ and must move from promise to practice.” After all, it added, “good governance is essential for strong economic development and improved livelihoods of the Afghan people.” So a “paradigm shift” is required going forward.

Hardly anyone seems optimistic about that after a decade of failure.

Ahmad, now with the German Marshall Fund in Washington, talks about what he calls his country’s “donor-drunk economy.” And Heather Barr, the Human Rights Watch Afghan representative, is one of many who believe Western aid helped create many of the problems aid agencies are trying to solve: “We, the international community, helped create an environment for corruption to take off the way it has. And we set some pretty good examples for the Afghans in that regard.”

As former ambassador Eikenberry put it, “We know we have created a distorted, wartime economy.” And Barr believes “we have conditioned every Afghan to believe that donor money is the solution to every problem.” The World Bank describes this deep, endemic aid dependency as “almost unique” in the world. Governance, it added, “has worsened in recent years.”

When aid officers and others look at the mess America will soon be leaving behind, often they are left with cold solace. As Human Rights Watch’s James Hoge says, “If we weren’t doing what we’re doing there, the question is, would things be better, or worse there?”

Joel Brinkley is a professor of journalism at Stanford University and a Pulitzer Prize–winning former foreign correspondent for the New York Times.

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Crush Your Citizens By Spying on Them

In some of Shakespeare’s plays there was ambivalence about spying on people, but in one instance there has been an obvious follow-on to modern times, when in Hamlet he has Polonius  demand of his servant Reynaldo that he should act as a spy and

Inquire me first what Danes are in Paris;

And how, and who, what means, and where they keep

What company, at what expense.

Which was a bit like the Brits’ comically amateur efforts at spying on foreign missions before and during the G20 International Summit in London in 2009, after which the intercept spooks boasted in a bizarre Power Point Presentation about

What are our Recent Successes?

Blackberry at G20

Delivered messages to analysts at the G20 in near real-time

Provided timely information to UK ministers

Enabled discovery of 20 new e-mail selectors

Gee Golly Gosh.  Oh what fun, you must have had, you pointy-headed tummy-rubbing finger-lickin’ techno-dweebs, listening to all the foreign delegates’ Blackberry transmissions, and, as your Power Point had it, “reading people’s email before/as they do.”   What were your orders?  No doubt something like

Inquire me first, what Foreigners are in London;

And how, and who, what means, and where they keep,

What company, at what expense.

The orders, barely believably, came from the British government, and it’s sad to realize that it ordered spying on its allies, because Turkey — a main target of British G20 spookery — is, after all, a longtime fellow member of Nato, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  But that sort of association is meaningless when the Brits want, as the orders went :  “to establish Turkey’s position on agreements from the April London summit” by spying on this faithful military partner which has a thousand troops in Afghanistan.

Britain, and all the other G20 members boast that their Group is “the premier forum for our international economic development that promotes open and constructive discussion between industrial and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability.” But how on earth can you have “open discussion” when you can’t trust the host country of the gathering?  How could you be “constructive” with Britain when you know its spooks are bugging your BlackBerry?  And what else are they finding out from your conversations that will be most useful to other spooks?

There is no loyalty and no allegiance among allies in the Brave New World of BlackBerry buggers. The old-fashioned ideas of having honorable union to join in defending freedom is ditched in the interests of knowing what an ally might think or plan — in order that these thoughts and plans can be destroyed by the friend who spies on an ally.

Britain and Turkey signed the Nato Treaty which says, with optimistic ingenuousness, that

The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations . . .
They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.

But the principles of democracy, rule of law, and all that sort of starry-eyed stuff are thrown out of the window when it’s considered necessary by the Brits to find out what is being done by Turkey.  And by who else, one wonders?  If you can spy on one Nato ally, you are probably spying on others.  Or all of them?

And you wonder about the people who do all this stuff.  What can they be like, deep down, these operatives who have cast aside all moral scruples?  What do they look like, these programmed robots who consider themselves above the laws of nations and immune to the ideals of humanity and decency?  Do they ever think, as Shakespeare had Polonius say to his son, that

This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

And speaking of being false, it seems to have been forgotten that a British Cabinet Minister stated on February 26, 2004, that her country was spying on the UN Secretary General.  This barely believable admission of criminality was only a five-minute wonder, of course, but it’s no less serious for that.  The Minister, Clare Short, was being questioned by a BBC interviewer about the squalid deception leading up to the war on Iraq by America and Britain.  In the course of discussion she was asked if US and UK pressure was being brought to bear on nations and individuals to fall in with their war plans, and part of her reply was that  “The UK in this time was also getting spies on Kofi Annan’s office and getting reports from him about what was going on . . .  These things are done and in the case of Kofi’s office, it was being done for some time . . .  Well, I know — I’ve seen transcripts of Kofi Annan’s conversations.”

Then she was asked  “So in other words British spies — let’s be very clear about this in case I’m misunderstanding you — British spies have been instructed to carry out operations inside the United Nations on people like Kofi Annan?”  She answered  “Yes, absolutely.”

So Britain, which signed the United Nations Charter almost 70 years ago “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person,” chose to show its concern for fundamental human rights by planting listening devices in the office of the UN Secretary General.   And Washington was in all this,  right up to its earphones.

The interview with Clare Short came after dismissal of a criminal charge against a British government employee who informed the public in 2003 that a US National Security Agency official had asked British Intelligence to tap the telephones of UN Security Council delegates during the lead-up to the war on Iraq.

The person whose conscience would not permit her to accept a national policy of criminality was Katherine Gun, and she was charged with disclosing information contrary to national security. To be sure, she wasn’t treated as brutally and despicably as the pitiable Bradley Manning, against whom the mighty United States has brought all its power to crush.  She wasn’t menaced by gigantic intimidating prison guards, or kept in solitary confinement, or subjected to a regime of endless menace that would have excited the admiration of any Nazi interrogator seeking to destroy the mind and body of a Jew or a Gypsy.  No :  she couldn’t be thrown in jail while awaiting trial, because Britain still has some citizens, thank God, who have a robust sense of decency and fair play — as well as a few most energetic newspapers. The slavering hyenas who rip at the body and mind of the vulnerable and wretched Manning wouldn’t get away with such persecution in Britain — not yet, anyway.

So after many months of waiting, Katherine Gun was brought to trial — and the case against her was dropped and she walked free.  The charges were not publicly heard, examined and judged upon, as they should be in a democracy.  Of course not — because that would have drawn the government and its pathetic little techno-dupes from the murky shadows into the light of truth and decency and open justice.   And the really funny thing — the only funny thing, in fact, about the whole farcical shambles — was the statement by the prosecution (in Britain called ‘The Crown’), about its reason for refusing to go any further.  The little puppet prosecutor told the judge that  “You will understand that consideration had been given to what is appropriate for the Crown to say. It is not appropriate to give further reasons. I am reluctant to go further than that unless the court requires I do.”  And the judge caved in.  The Regime of secrecy and deception had won yet again, and justice suffered another blow.

After Clare Short’s disclosure that Britain spies on the UN Secretary General the then prime minister of Britain, the devious liar Tony Blair,  pronounced that  “I really do regard what Clare Short has said this morning as totally irresponsible.”  And he justified his stance by declaring  “she must know, and I think everyone knows, you can’t have a situation where people start making allegations like this about our security services.”

His message was clear, and remains clear from the recent statements by James, the Happy Clapper, the director of US national intelligence who lied to the Senate about spying on American citizens and then told the world that he gave the “least untruthful” answer to Senate questions because, of course, the end justifies the means.  He knows that the intelligence industry will never be held accountable for breaking the law and spying on allies and fellow citizens — because the intelligence industry gets its orders from government.

As an anti-Obama placard had it in Berlin the other day :  “Democracy: Citizens watch government.  Tyranny: Government watches citizens.”   We now realize that tyranny is approaching, in Britain and America.  So be afraid; Be very afraid — because many of the people in power in our very own democracries intend that their fellow citizens should believe, in the words of Orwell, that  “War is Peace,  Freedom is Slavery,  Ignorance is Strength.”  And they’re getting there.

Brian Cloughley’s website is www.beecluff.com

For Their Eyes Only: The Commercialization of Digital Spying

April 30, 2013

by: Morgan Marquis-Boire,  Bill Marczak, Claudio Guarnieri & John Scott-Railton

Citizen Lab is pleased to announce the release of “For Their Eyes Only: The Commercialization of Digital Spying.”

Read the Report [PDF]

The report features new findings, as well as consolidating a year of our research on the commercial market for offensive computer network intrusion capabilities developed by Western companies.

Our new findings include:

  • We have identified FinFisher Command & Control servers in 11 new Countries. Hungary, Turkey, Romania, Panama, Lithuania, Macedonia, South Africa, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bulgaria, Austria.
  • Taken together with our previous research, we can now assert that FinFisher Command & Control servers are currently active, or have been present, in 36 countries.
Locations of FinFisher Command & Control Servers Found To Date:  Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Ethiopia, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Qatar, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam.
  • We have also identified a FinSpy sample that appears to be specifically targeting Malay language speakers, masquerading as a document discussing Malaysia’s upcoming 2013 General Elections. Click here for a plain-language summary of our findings from Malaysia, as well as background on FinFisher.
  • We identify instances where FinSpy makes use of Mozilla’s Trademark and Code. The latest Malay-language sample masquerades as Mozilla Firefox in both file properties and in manifest. This behavior is similar to samples discussed in some of our previous reports, including a demo copy of the product, and samples targeting Bahraini activists.

Map showing installations of FinFisher worldwide


FinFisher’s Global Proliferation: Updated Map (Click to enlarge)

Our previous research uncovered evidence that FinFisher (commercial network intrusion malware) developed by UK-based company Gamma International was targeting activists in Bahrain. It analyzed mobile variants of the FinFisher suite.  It also exposed the use of commercial surveillance malware developed by Italy-based company Hacking Team to target a dissident in the United Arab Emirates.  Most recently, we documented the global proliferation of FinFisher command and control servers.


This research is one of the first extended projects to attempt to map out the operation and prevalence of commercial surveillance software.  Our work opens a window into this space, but it remains crucial that the nature and impact of the commercial surveillance market be better understood. Technical research in this field has only just begun, but it is already clear that the stakes are high. We hope this report will contribute to discussions on this issue in technical, civil society, and policy making communities.

This research represents the joint work of Morgan Marquis-Boire, Bill Marczak, Claudio Guarnieri, and John Scott-Railton.

Media Coverage

Media coverage of the “For Their Eyes Only: The Commercialization of Digital Spying” report includes Associated PressThe Washington PostWiredSC MagazineCIOThreatPostRedditSlashdotTechdirtThe RegisterBoing BoingBBCIT World Canada and Ars Technica.


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Mojaan hi Mojaan for babus -I



Mojaan hi Mojaan for babus -I


Politically Incorrect



Amir Mateen


Pakistan is in turmoil. From politicians to the generals to the common man—everybody is embroiled in chaos up to the neck. But there is one exclusive community that basks in luxury and relishes the best of both worlds — super bureaucrats.

There are almost 50 Grade-22 officers now. This excludes the super-duper Salman Farooqui, who as Secretary General in Grade 22 with the status of a State Minister, holds the golden key to the Presidential treasures. Also excluded are half a dozen Grade-22 officers hired on contract including Special Secretaries to the President Mrs Nasreen Haque, Special Secretary Establishment Division Munir Ahmad and the three secretaries of the Election Commission of Pakistan, the Senate and the National Assembly, not to forget the two retired generals monitoring Defence Division and Production. Wow, quite a figure. Well that’s just half of the story.

Another 170 are waiting in Grade-21, half of them having their two-year waiting requirement fulfilled, are pulling every string to get into the Super Club-22. Where will it lead to? The Club-22 ballooning into a 100 or even more, if we allow them to have their way. Remember the Devolution of power. It was meant to, besides provincial autonomy, cut the size of the government. The idea was not to have duplication of ministries. And here it is – the babus keep coming out with new divisions, autonomous and regulatory bodies, wings, departments — all those fancy words that basically come down to more expansion and more perks.

There are 44 Divisions already besides autonomous and regulatory elephants. Why do we have a Human Rights Division?

Ever heard a Grade-22 officer by the name of Shaigan Shareef Malik raising his voice for the Baloch missing people or standing by the Hindu women abducted in Sindh. All we know is that the government is the biggest violator of human rights.

The government may have abolished its privatization policy but the one-time expanded Privatisation Division stays. Do you know about National Harmony Division? What does Inter Provincial Coordination do?  Or the National Food Security and Research Division or the more intriguing National Heritage and Integration Division. Even the CIA could not have coined such dubious names for these outfits. Underneath these fancy names are huge edifices created for our worthy members of the Club-22 to run their small fiefdoms of staff cars, the colonial peons and toilets are clearly marked “For Officer”—tax-payers money be damned. After all, they did not pass that CSS bloody exam 35 years ago to be the ‘public servants,’ goes the saying.

They trick is to keep upgrading these post. The Chairman of the Provincial Planning and Division was a Grade-21 post that got elevated to Grade-22. The same is the case with the Chairman Land Commission and Senior Member of the Punjab Revenue Board. Punjab also has a Grade-22 officer as the Acting Chief Secretary. No wonder Shahbaz Sharif loves these babus so much and holds a contempt for his own political class. His earlier Chief Secretary, Javed Mahmood, who was accused of crushing down a Colonel, the last we heard, was supervising family agriculture in Kasur after taking a long leave. He will still be eligible for all the perks and pension for sure. Club mates take care of each other. In the past, others have worked for Chaudhry Shujaat’s Mill as Manager while keeping their job.

Yet the ground is ripe for making way for more members of the Super Club. About ten vacancies of Grade-22 are still vacant and are being run by acting Heads. This includes the CDA and we all know that the last few heads of this prized outfit have either been pushed out or, such as Kamran Lashari, faces corruption charges before the Courts. By the way, Lashari is now adviser with the Punjab government. Told you Shahbaz Sharif loves them—who cares about the Supreme Court.

Also, the Supreme Court has also ruled that no extensions will be given. Yet the contracts to retired people keep coming. In fact, the two most important Divisions are being run by retired officers on contract. Wajid Rana, who was given a contract in last November, runs the Finance Division. More important, Munir Ahmad has been hired as Special Secretary in Establishment Division for a two year contract. Why? Because he specializes in bending rules and making more room for people like himself. Why should there be a Special Secretary when they already have Taimoor Azmat as the Establishment Secretary. Then why should there be a Special Secretary of Water and Power also?

It’s a total mess. Salman Farooqui refuses to give way at 70 plus whereas hundreds of junior officers in non-DMG grades sulk for years for the promotion board to just sit down.

Nargis sethi has an additional charge while the most senior 22-grader in officialdom, Zafar Mahmood, sits at home for the last four months for a ‘posting’. By the way, it was again His Lordship who caused this anomaly. A recent holy judicial scripture makes it mandatory for the government to give reasons if they send an Officer on ‘Special Duty’, the official-speak for the notorious acronym OSD. Trust the bureaucrats to find novel ways of beating the law. They just make them sit at home without salary for months, which is worse than being an OSD. What a send-off for one of their own kind who retires after 35 years of service in April…retirement without salary.


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