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Archive for October, 2016

FOOL’S WAR in AFGHANISTAN – by Eric S Margolis

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FOOL’S WAR  in AFGHANISTAN 

by 

Eric S Margolis

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fifteen years ago this week, the US launched the longest war in its history: the invasion and occupation of remote Afghanistan. Neighboring Pakistan was forced to facilitate the American invasion or ‘be bombed back to the stone age.’

America was furious after the bloody 9/11 attacks. The Bush administration had been caught sleeping on guard duty. Many Americans believed 9/11 was an inside job by pro-war neocons.

Afghanistan was picked as the target of US vengeance even though the 9/11 attacks were hatched (if in fact done from abroad) in Germany and Spain. The suicide attackers made clear their kamikaze mission was to punish the US for ‘occupying’ the holy land of Saudi Arabia, and for Washington’s open-ended support of Israel in its occupation of Palestine.

This rational was quickly obscured by the Bush administration that claimed the 9/11 attackers, most of whom were Saudis, were motivated by hatred of American ‘values’ and ‘freedoms.’ This nonsense planted the seeds of the rising tide of Islamophobia that we see today and the faux ‘war on terror.’

An anti-communist jihadi, Osama bin Laden, was inflated and demonized into America’s Great Satan. The supposed ‘terrorist training camps’ in Afghanistan were, as I saw with my eyes, camps where Pakistani intelligence trained jihadis to fight in India-occupied Kashmir.

Afghanistan, remote, bleak and mountainous, was rightly known as ‘the graveyard of empires.’ These included Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Timur, the Moguls and Sikhs. The British Empire invaded Afghanistan three times in the 19th century. The Soviet Union, world’s greatest land power, invaded in 1979, seeking a corridor to the Arabian Sea and Gulf.

All were defeated by the fierce Pashtun warrior tribes of the Hindu Kush. But the fool George W. Bush rushed in where angels feared to tread, in a futile attempt to conquer an unconquerable people for whom war was their favorite pastime. I was with the Afghan mujahidin when fighting the Soviet occupation in the 1980’s, and again the newly-formed Taliban in the early 1990’s. As I wrote in my book on this subject, ‘War at the Top of the World,’ the Pashtun warriors were the bravest men I’d ever seen. They had only ancient weapons but possessed boundless courage.

During the 2001 US invasion, the Americans allied themselves to the heroin and opium-dealing Tajik Northern Alliance, to former Communist allies of the Soviets, and to the northern Uzbeks, blood foes of the Pashtun and former Soviet Communist allies.

Taliban, which had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, had shut down 90% of Afghanistan’s heroin and opium trade. The US-allied Northern Alliance restored it, making Afghanistan again the world’s leading supplier of heroin and opium. US occupation forces, backed by immense tactical airpower, allied themselves with the most criminal elements in Afghanistan and installed a puppet regime of CIA assets. The old Communist secret police, notorious for their record of torture and atrocities, was kept in power by CIA to fight Taliban.

Last week, Washington’s Special Inspector General for Afghan Relief (SIGAR) issued a totally damning report showing how mass corruption, bribery, payoffs and drug money had fatally undermined US efforts to build a viable Afghan society.

What’s more, without 24/7 US air cover, Washington’s yes-men in Kabul would be quickly swept away. The Afghan Army and police have no loyalty to the regime; they fight only for the Yankee dollar. Like Baghdad, Kabul is a US-guarded island in a sea of animosity.

A report by Global Research has estimated the 15-year Afghan War and the Iraq War had cost the US $6 trillion. Small wonder when gasoline trucked up to Afghanistan from Pakistan’s coast it costs the Pentagon $400 per gallon. Some estimates put the war cost at $33,000 per citizen. But Americans do not pay this cost through a special war tax, as it should be. Bush ordered the total costs of the Iraq and Afghan wars be concealed in the national debt.

Officially, 2,216 American soldiers have died in Afghanistan and 20,049 were seriously wounded. Some 1,173 US mercenaries have also been killed. Large numbers of US financed mercenaries still remain in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Noble Peace Prize winner Barack Obama promised to withdraw nearly all US troops from Afghanistan by 2016.  Instead, more US troops are on the way to protect the Kabul puppet regime from its own people. Taliban and its dozen-odd allied resistance movements (‘terrorists’ in Pentagon speak faithfully parroted by the US media) are steadily gaining territory and followers.

Last week, the US dragooned NATO and other satrap states to a ‘voluntary’ donor conference for Afghanistan where they had to cough up another $15.2 billion and likely send some more troops to this hopeless conflict. Washington cannot bear to admit defeat by tiny Afghanistan or see this strategic nation fall into China’s sphere.

Ominously, the US is encouraging India to play a much larger role in Afghanistan, thus planting the seeds of a dangerous Pakistani-Indian-Chinese confrontation there.

There was no mention of the 800-lb gorilla in the conference room: Afghanistan’s role as the world’s, by now, largest heroin/opium/morphine producer – all under the proud auspices of the United States government. The new US president will inherit this embarrassing problem.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2016

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Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah attends Passing Out Parade at Pakistan Military Academy

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah attends Passing Out Parade at Pakistan Military Academy

ISLAMABAD, 15 Oct 16: Passing Out Parade of PMA Graduate Course 35th, Technical Graduate Course 28th and Integrated Course 53rd was held at Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul today. Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah graced the ceremony as Chief Guest. On arrival the Chief Guest was received by Major General Nadeem Raza, Commandant Pakistan Military.

While congratulating the cadets on achieving this distinguished milestone Chief Guest Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah said that excellent standard of today’s’ Parade and the impeccable turn out of cadets are indeed a testimony to the highest professional standards and traditions at the Academy, which are upheld by the untiring commitment and dedication of faculty and the staff. You have earned your commission from one of the finest military institutions of the world.

The Admiral said that the defence and security preparedness of any nation is in direct response to its security dictates. We, in Pakistan, have a history of facing perils and successfully surmounting them. The challenges that this young nation has faced over the past few decades have made us more resilient and stronger. The unresolved disputes that continue to smoulder, and the daunting challenges that lie ahead, mandate that we maintain a constant vigil on the internal as well as external fronts.

The Naval Chief further added that our commitment to eradicate the menace of terrorism and extremism from Pakistan remains unwavering. Operation Zarb-e-Azb nearing conclusion and pursuance of National Action Plan, exemplifies the commitment and resolve of the entire nation and its Armed Forces to defeat this scourge. Pakistan Army, being one of the most battle-hardened and professional armies in the world has rendered enormous sacrifices of officers and men. The numerous chapters of success have indeed been inscribed with the blood of our valiant soldiers, sailors and airmen. We salute our Shuhada. Pakistan remains undeterred and will continue its march, until we have secured our homeland against forces inimical to our progress and prosperity.

He further said that while Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir continues to bleed and Pakistan is being continuously subjected to a volley of false accusations by India, let me reiterate the fact that Pakistan is a peace loving country and seeks harmonious and peaceful co-existence with all its neighbours. The world can no more be misguided by the litany of falsehoods to divert global attention from atrocities in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir or attempts at seeking refuge through concocted stories. Any unintended outcome or act of aggression borne out of such adversarial design, whether by intent or even a strategic miscalculation will not go unpenalized. We shall defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity with full might and at all costs.

A large number of senior serving and retired armed forces officers attended the ceremony

ISPR Official's photo.
ISPR Official's photo.
ISPR Official's photo.

 

 

 

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What Pakistanis Think About USA

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PAKISTANIS-READ & WEEP: US Ambassador Exposes the Monstrous Shallowness of Nawaz Sharif Corruption


US Ambassador’s Memo on Pakistan

Memo #3  ….

Having been in Pakistan since October, I am forwarding a brief review of my first personal impressions.

1) View about America: Survey after survey has shown that the populace at large has very unfavorably views US government and policy. The perception in the corridors of power is very different. Given their propensities to focus on conspiracy theories most of them have a notion of US influence in Pakistan that far exceeds our real capabilities. Sometimes I feel as the “Governor General” from a bygone past caught in a historic time warp. From the highest office down to mid

level functionaries, perception becomes reality, when it comes to viewing US as the kingmaker. This mostly helps us in stacking the deck of cards in our favor but also works against us at times when diplomacy is seen as failing. The dilemma for our policy is incongruence between our objectives and the popular sentiment of the people in Pakistan. Changing this is not merely a matter of perception and has to be more than a public relations exercise. It will require a significant change in our strategic trajectory.

2) The Social divide: Having served in Iraq I have experienced the divide between the elites and the common citizen, which is quite typical of the Middle East and South Asian countries. In Pakistan however it takes unparalleled heights. My first private party at a key ministers residence, the opulent lifestyle was in full contrast to the plight of those serving us. White gloved waiters were standing with ashtrays so that the corpulent minister and guests could smoke their Cuban cigars at will, and with utmost disdain flicker the ash at random intervals to be caught by the gloved waiter with unsurpassed skill. Alcohol, which is, otherwise not in public display in this Islamic country was flowing from an open bar. Our hosts were shocked that most of the American guests did not drink. I was taken aback at the presence of so many blond Pakistani women, on inquiring was told by our bemused social secretary about the miracle of peroxide and modern hair coloring which seems to be the fashion statement of the day for well groomed (sic) modern Pakistani women. As we pulled out to leave, the sight of an army of drivers was something to behold, huddled in the frigid night until the wee hours, for the masters to terminate their fracas. Service is legitimate but this smacked of servitude, opprobrium reminiscent of attitudes of European aristocracy and our own experience with slavery.

3) Hypocrisy a new dimension: I was stunned to hear form a very senior political functionary about US interference in the internal affairs of the country. When pointed out that this interference could be curtailed if the Government of Pakistan would refuse to take Billions of Dollars in US aid annually, his response was that monies were for services rendered in the fighting terrorism. Purloin of developmental funds to support the prodigious lifestyle of the ruling elite seems to be the normative. This can be only rationalized as a self-entitled narcissism of a collective of people with a rapacious appetite to loot the country.

4) The common man: My contact has been limited but even with limited exposure they continue to amaze me. In abject poverty and mired in the maelstrom of illiteracy they display a dignity and authenticity that is in stark contrast to the capriciousness of the pseudo westernized elites. Hospitable to a fault and honest despite being in the vortex of poverty the common everyday people of Pakistan display great ingenuity to survive against formidable odds, a gristle of the soul, that must come from a past rooted in spiritual life of a different sort.

5) Democracy: In Pakistan democracy has taken a dimension that borders on mockery of true representative government. The elected representatives come almost exclusively for the elite and privileged class. Rather than representing the populace they are more like local regional ‘viceroys’ representing the federal government and their own vested interests in the regions. Most are in politics not with a sense of public service but more to maximize the opportunity to make money, which they do with total disdain. The mainstream political parties are oligarchies controlled by the founding patriarchs or their heirs. One wonders if this is the model, we seek to perpetuate? Given my background as a history professor I have my druthers.

6) Alchemy of change: The polarization in the society makes significant change likely in the near future but given the deficit of leadership and organization it is not inevitable. This situation is unlikely to be remedied in the short term. If such a leadership were to emerge then conflict between the polarized segments would likely ensue. Under these circumstances we will not be able to count on the Military as a stabilizing force. The Military though a disciplined and well led, is a egalitarian body with much of its leadership and rank coming from middle, lower middle and poor classes. Their support of any move to perpetuate the rule of the elite will be at their own peril. The current military leadership is unlikely to prop the existing structure if such a conflict was to occur and possibly may even be catalytic toward such change. This is in stark departure from the past.

Pakistan is a fascinating place the contradictions are glaring but the promise is great, ironically what may be good for Pakistan may at least in the short term not be good for furtherance of our policy goals. We need to take a long view and it may be worthwhile to cut our losses, uncouple from the ruling elite and align our self with popular grassroots sentiment in the country. This would change our perception in the short term and when change does come we, for a change, will be on the right side.

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Indian Perspective: Russia, Pakistan make nice. Amen By M K Bhadrakumar

russia-snubs-india-holds-joint-military-exercise-with-pakistan 

Russia, Pakistan make nice. Amen

By M K Bhadrakumar

3 Oct 2016

 

In rhythmic gymnastics, Russian diplomats are unbeatable. Russia has a strategic love affair with Iran but that doesn’t stop its diplomats from romancing with Saudi Arabia, the UAE or Israel. Russians call it ‘pragmatism’. Similarly, Azerbaijan-Armenia, China-Vietnam, Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan, Iran-Israel – the list of ‘pragmatic engagements’ is very impressive.

Now, after a gap of half a century, Russia is at it again in South Asia, becoming romantic toward Pakistan. We can only hope that Russia is not positioning itself to host another ‘Tashkent summit’.

The Indian government has done the right thing by ignoring the ongoing Russia-Pakistan military exercises. Moscow probably expected that Delhi will demand exclusive friendship. But then, we do not want a post-Soviet Russian mediation in our disputes with Pakistan.

The government’s coolness has paid off. The Russian ambassador in New Delhi Alexander Kadakin has spoken supportive of India — 5 days after India’s “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control. I wish Moscow had issued this statement instead of as the embassy’s press release for local publicity. For, in the best traditions of Russian diplomacy, what prevents their ambassador in Islamabad to say much the same quietly to the Pakistani side as well? (Times of India)

Post-Soviet Russia is a ‘de-ideologized’ state. Russia may have feared that incurring India’s displeasure will not be in its business interests. Moscow could be hoping to wrap up some arms deals during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India in mid-October. Of course, selling weapons abroad is a matter of life and death for Russian economy, which is spluttering under western sanctions.

The Indian market is a highly lucrative one for Russians because the transactions take place in total secrecy between the two bureaucracies and political elites. They are opaque transactions and the pricing of Russian weaponry is arbitrary. Over the decades Russians have looked beyond the Congress Party and cultivated the range of Indian elites – from RSS to Samajwadi Party.

Indeed, what are the Russians really upto in South Asia? One can never quite be sure. Notwithstanding what Ambassador Kadakin said, the Russian state propaganda TV network, RT, which western countries regard as Kremlin-funded, carried only last week a triumphalist piece on the on-going Russian-Pakistani military exercises. Presumably, it was addressed to the Pakistanis.

The commentary boasted that this is a “historic moment” insofar as Russian army is exercising with a former “cold war rival”. Factually, it is correct. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence had bled the Red Army white in the eighties and driven it away across the Amu Darya. But Moscow finds it expedient to put that humiliating experience behind.

The RT commentary claims that the joint exercises between the two militaries signify “a shift towards closer Russo-Pakistani relations.” It then speaks of Russia and Pakistan’s shared “desire to fight militant groups on their territory”. Of course, the commentary admits that Russia hopes to make some fast buck by selling weapons to Pakistan as well.

What takes the breath away is the report’s ending:

·         The war games come at a time of renewed tension between Pakistan and India, a long-term Russian ally, over the disputed province of Kashmir. However, the exercises are being held far from the contested areas. (RT)

This is sheer sophistry. The plain truth is that the Russian Defence Ministry had originally announced in Moscow that the exercises in Pakistan would be partly held in Gilgit. Probably, they developed cold feet later, realizing  it might be too much for the Indians to lump. So, they quietly dropped Gilgit. Oh, these impossible Russians! No wonder, Barack Obama turned grey dealing with the Kremlin over Ukraine and Syria.

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