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Thursday, 14 February 2008
Save Sayed Pervez Kambaksh from Hamid Karzai and the 14th century!

The total number of coalition casualties fighting to liberate Afghanistan from the 14th century is at present, more or less, as of Feb. 13 anyway: 


414 American, 87 British, 78 Canadian, 29 German, 23 Spanish, 14 Dutch, 12 French, 12 Italian, 9 Danish, 5 Romanian, 4 Australian, 3 Norwegian, 2 Estonian, 2 Portuguese, 2 Swedish, 1 Czech, 1 Finnish, 1 Poilsh, 1 Sout Korean. [wikipedia]

My question is why did we bother? I know Condi says "there is a remarkable difference for the better, " since 2001 but I don't really see the difference.

A case in point, London's Independent reports:

"A journalist friend of the condemned student Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has fled Afghanistan fearing for his life, after an extremist mob threatened to kill him. Yahya Najafizada escaped halfway across the world when his name appeared on a blacklist of alleged heretics. The list was compiled by hardline sharia students in Mazar-e Sharif, just days after Pervez was arrested for circulating an article about women's rights. The university students, backed by the local Ulema, or religious council, published the blacklist after a frenzied demonstration demanding Pervez, 23, face the death penalty."

Naturally, our good friend Hamid Karzai is all over this issue right? He's going to intercede? Well, the Independent reported on Feb. 1 that on Jan. 29:

"The Afghan senate passed a motion confirming the death sentence. The MP who proposed the ruling condemning Mr Kambaksh was Sibghatullah Mojadedi, a key ally of Mr Karzai."

Sign the Independent's petition to Karzai to spare the life of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh and while your at it, if your government has sent troops to Afghanistan, ask your respective representitive: Why?

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:19 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008 7:11 PM EST
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Monday, 11 February 2008
Denying AQ a safe haven in Iraq. In our vitral interest?
Topic: War on Terror

In W.'s final SOTU speech he said: "The mission in Iraq has been difficult and trying for our nation. But it is in the vital interest of the United States that we succeed. A free Iraq will deny Al Qaeda a safe haven." 

The NYT reported on Sunday that JCS Adm. Mike Mullen would be making a trip that day to Islamabad to visit with our bastard in Rawalpindi Pervez Musharraf and his apparent Heir Apparent army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Mullen said he was exploring "news ways" to work with Musharraf & Co. to "improve the fight against terrorism." Huh uh, that's what CIA director Mike Hayden said, too; only his new way involved sending US Special Forces into the Waziristans, a proposition which Musharraf forcefully rejected.

According to many press reports US officials are expressing some "frustration" with the ever more tenuous security situation in Pakistan, hence the almost daily visits of a top US officials to Islamabad. DNI Adm. Mike McConell told Congress last week that he was convinced the next AQ attack on the US would have its origins in Pakistan.

He said AQH had, "regenerated its core operational capabilities needed to conduct attacks in the homeland." By its use of the safe haven in Pakstan's border areas they have created a "staging area" for attacks into Afghanistan "as well as a location for training new terrorist operatives, for attacks in Pakistan, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the United States". [Atimes 

But no matter what the Americans seem to say to Musharraf, no matter the amount of arm-twisting -- and probably threats of bodily harm upon his physical person by Dick Cheney -- he doesn't seem to be getting the message.   

A case in point is the new peace treaty he just signed with Baitullah Mehsud last Thursday. Yes, you read correctly, yet another deal with Mehsud. US officials are said to be "frustrated" with this latest development. The Pakistanis deny they've made a deal, but the previous fighting going on between the Pakistani army and Mehsud's forces have stopped.

Isn't this the same guy who made $540,000 off of Musharraf in 2005 to pay-off his buddies in al-Qaeda? Wasn't he the one who made a deal with Musharraf in September of 2006 also? Baitullah is the guy who this past August held 250 Pakistani soldiers hostage, beheading 3 of them, right? When Musharraf declared his state of emergency to fight terrorism by rounding up peace activists and judges, he released 25 militants to Baitullah at the same time -- who are probably as we speak training suicide bombers or something equally messed up.  

ATimes reports: "The ceasefire deal, brokered by Taliban commanders Sirajuddin Haqqani and Maulvi Bakhta Jan, is face-saving for both the militants and the security forces and provides them with breathing space; they had reached a stalemate in South Waziristan. . . The Afghan Taliban see the ceasefire as the ideal opportunity to step up their preparations for their annual spring offensive - they rely heavily on the Pakistan border areas for manpower and provisions." 

Well, no kidding!

I can see why Musharraf remains in one piece, no suicide bombers going after him: He's too good to the Pakistani Talibs. Mehsud may be crazy, but he's not stupid. You don't go around blowing up your meal-ticket.

Naturally, it’s a mutually beneficial set-up; Mehsud & Co. keep up the scare in the unadministered territories, keeping US officials up nights, Musharraf turns around and says he's the only one the Americans can trust to deal with them, a line they keep swallowing hook, line and sinker and then he pays-off the Talibs while giving them quarter whenever things get too heavy for them.  A virtuous circle for all concerned, except for the next vicimts of Al-Qaeda's attacks in the West.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:10 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008 6:43 PM EST
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Friday, 8 February 2008
The GWOT gets a little harder -- impossible -- in Afghanistan
Topic: War on Terror

Things in Afghanistan are really, really going from bad to worse these days, which is saying something. Suicide bombers are plying the lobbies of the finest hotels in Kabul and Westerners are sealing themselves away from the people they're supposedly there to help in response, a la the Green Zone in Baghdad. Just as the "fighting season" (the Afghan national pastime) gets under way, senior US officials are piling up the frequent-flyer miles making the rounds of European capitals trying to get our reluctant NATO allies to put their troops where their mouths are -- because God knows we don't have any to spare --  all to no avail, however.  

Yesterday in Vilnius, Lithuania, Sec Def Robert Gates twisted arms in the background for more desperately needed troops but in public he insisted that things were going great. "I don't think there's a crisis, that there's a risk of failure. My view is that it represents, potentially, the opportunity to make further progress further in Afghanistan if we had more forces there," he said. Jedem sagt Deutsche Kanzler Angela Merkel "Nein;" and the same goes for Italy, France and the rest of NATO, except for Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and the Poles.  

None of our good friends are willing to risk what's needed to do what the US thinks is needed to finally put an end to the Taliban. (Funny I thought we'd already done that in 2001, but never mind that now, there's a GWOT to win.) Gates wasn't so upbeat when he told Congress the day before that NATO risked becoming a "two-tiered" organization with "some allies willing to fight and die to protect people's security, and others who are not."  

He's not helping his case much by insulting the ones who actually are fighting by saying they know nothing about fighting counterinsurgencies. The Brits for instance must be especially irked by those comments considering they've had a century of experience in these matters and the US is just now getting around to studying their tactics in Northern Ireland. Talk about chutzpa!   

Along with Gates' charm offensive Condi Rice is doing her part making another one of her famous "surprise" visits into a war zone this time the one in Afghanistan with her British counterpart David Miliband. Naturally, she treated us to another one of her mind boggling mistatements of the fact: "If you look at the Afghanistan of 2001 and the Afghanistan of now there is a remarkable difference for the better," she said. AP [And then the room broke out in peels of hysterical laughter! If only.]

In any case, she Miliband first made their way down to the Taliban's spiritual capital Kandahar before moving on to Kabul to rough up Hamid Karzai a bit over his intransigence over accepting the UK's choice for the UN's special envoy Patty Ashdown. The Brits and US seem to think they need someone in Kabul to bang heads together to get everybody on the same page, but Karzai is balking. Imagine that. The ingratitude!  

Not only is Karzai making waves about Ashdown but he's also been saying some not very friendly things about the way the British have been handling things down in Helmand province. He's especially torked off about the fact they he let himself be talking into sacking Helmond's governor, the incredibly corrupt and brutal tribal leader Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, back in 2005.

He's complained bitterly that since the British came in "the Taliban came," too. Now that he's fact to face with Condi & Co. and their bags of money for his Blackwater USA security detail he's claiming he was misquoted. But it's pretty clear these are not happy times in the GWOT.  

Speaking of the aforementioned Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, he's part of a family of the Alizai tribe who are locked in mortal combat with other tribes for control of the opium trade which is booming along with the power of the Taliban. If the Brits are going to get anywhere fighting the Talibs they're going to have to figure out some way to neutralize the Akhundzadas of Afghanistan at the same time they fight the Taliban, a tall order that no amount of troops is going to help.  

At least, the British are somewhat cognizant of that they're up against, not so much the US military. A case in point is the story of Abdul Razzaq Hekmati, the first Gitmo inmate to die of natural causes on Dec. 30. An Afghan hero of the war against the Russians and a foe of the Taliban he was picked up by US Special Forces in 2003 on the word of Akhundzada who had a beef with his family. Despite the intervention of several high ranking members of the Afghan government on his behalf, including the Afghan minister of energy and a general in the Border Guards, the US steadfastly refused to allow Hekmati to try to prove that he was innocent.

Of course, we all know W.'s kanga-Yoo court system at Gitmo is everything that could be desired as far as due process is concerned, but it does seem in this case the system might have failded slightly. According to the NYT Hekmati accused Akhundzada of turning him in to the Americans.

Although Akhundzada denied having done the deed, he agrees Hekmati wasn't a Talib. The NYT reports that he attributed Hekmati's arrest to "a mistake by American Special Forces. He said they were often fed false information." Gosh, where have we heard that before?

This case sounds similar to Dilawar, the 22 year-old Afghan taxi driver who was arrested, tortured and killed in 2002 at Bagram by his American interrogators. Based on information provided by an Afghan police chief who was taking bounty money from the Special Forces and then buying rockets to shell them, he was held and beaten until he died. [NYT]  

The false imprisonment and death of Hekmati is all the more ironic when one considers an article in this edition of NEWSWEEK about hundreds of Talibs, some of them senior members, being arrested and released for a bribe by the Afghan security forces. One such fighter is Mullah Jumah Khan who was arrested with six of his cohorts in Helmand province in 2006 by the Afghan police.

Within hours of their arrest the police and local tribal leaders had worked out the price for their release, $10,000. The Talibs claim to have a half a million dollars on hand for a bribe fund, just to get their people out of the pokey. Jumah Khan says, "It's funny, we kill each other on the battlefield, but once a mujahedin is arrested, the police become friendly for a price."  

And its not just poor Afghan police who engage in this sort of thing, The elite National Directorate of Security an organization, which according to NEWSWEEK, is "controlled by a powerful and nearly untouchable political clique from Panjshir Valley" runs its own secret court system and uses torture to elicit bribes. Nice bunch -- and surely a reliable source of information about who is and who is not a Talib.  

Judging by the unbelievable level of corruption in Afghanistan and the way the Tailbs appear to move around most of Afghanistan with impunity with the help of their boat-loads of drug money and the help their still getting from the Pakistani ISI -- it's not like they ever want to see a stable rival to the west, after all, no matter who's in control -- I'd say a "surprise" visit here and there and some happy talk about progress being made isn't going to get the job done by any stretch of the imagination.

More than a few thousand troops, the Afghan war needs a total re-think. Unfortunately, not from the bunch that's been mismanaging the whole show from the beginning.  No wonder the Europeans are reluctant to get bloodied in W.'s first blunder.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:55 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008 9:19 PM EST
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Friday, 1 February 2008
The CIA did it.
Topic: War on Terror

In his last State of the Union address W. said:

"A free Iraq will deny al Qaeda a safe haven. . . A free Iraq will be a friend of America, a partner in fighting terror, and a source of stability in a dangerous part of the world. By contrast, a failed Iraq would embolden the extremists . . . and give terrorists a base from which to launch new attacks on our friends, our allies, and our homeland."

Sounds more like the rapdly failing state of Pakistan to me. Where are attacks against our friends and Heimat more likely to come from than Pakistan? I can't think of a more dangerous place in the world right now than Pakistan's border areas. Oh yeah, and their nukes which they claim aren't loose.  

Musharraf insists we're not operating in Pakistan, but that missile attack yesterday on Abu Laith al-Libi must have been callled in by someone who knew where he was. 

Remember yesterday the Pakistanis were saying no one knew where the missile came from? 

The NYT reports:

"An American missile strike in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas killed a senior commander of Al Qaeda who had been involved in planning attacks on United States and NATO troops in Afghanistan, American officials said Thursday. . . American military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the subject involves covert operations, said the attack early Tuesday against a safe house in Khushali Torikel, a village in North Waziristan, was not carried out by a Pentagon-operated Predator. A spokesman for the C.I.A. declined comment on the missile attack and on the reports of Mr. Libi’s death."

That's a big shocker.

In relatiation, which came pretty swiftly . . .

AP reports:

"A suicide bomber attacked a military checkpoint in North Waziristan on Friday, killing five government soldiers about two miles from the scene of a U.S. missile attack that had killed a top al-Qaida commander, officials said."

The US has not problem taking credit for the strike but the Pakistanis are not too eager to give ammunition to those saying we're forcing them to fight our war.

"A Pakistan government official spokeman in Islamabad said he had no information to prove al-Libi was killed in the strike."

Imagine, how the regular Pakistani army grunt must feel about this? We attack from the air and they get clobbered.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:50 PM EST
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Thursday, 31 January 2008
US kills another Talib in Pakistan: surprise, surprise.

AP reports:

"One al-Qaida's top commanders in Afghanistan and a key liaison with Taliban, Abu Laith al-Libi, was killed according to a Web site used by militant groups.  . . The attack that killed al-Libi appeared to have taken place in Pakistan. . . Pakistani intelligence officials and local residents said that a missile hit a compound in a village about 2.5 miles outside Mir Ali in North Waziristan late Monday or early Tuesday, destroying the facility." 

 . . . Government and military said they did not know who fired the missile."

Gosh, what a surprise! Every time one of these guys winds up buying it at the business end of a missile, the Pakistani government either, knows nothing, or claims they did it. Like in the case of  Nek Mohammed in 2004. Nek was another one of these Taliban types in South Waziristan who suckered Musharraf into a "peace" deal, along with demanding a hufty sum to seal the deal, and then alomst immediatly reneged. Nek was killed by a US Hellfire missile fired from a predator drone in 2004. [Frontline] Here's the way the news story ran:


"Pakistani forces killed a renegade tribal leader allied with suspected al-Qaida militants in a helicopter assault on a mud-brick fortress near the Afghan border, the army spokesman said Friday. Nek Mohammed was tracked down by tracing an intercepted satellite phone call, a senior security official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Six others were killed with Mohammed in the missile strike late Thursday."

Musharraf in an interview on Frontline insisted the Pakistanis carried out the attack.

"It's a very well-coordinated operation in that, yes, we have access now to the UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles], and it is on our demand that we fly and survey areas. There is total cooperation on that. Now, when it comes to attacking a target, it is with the UAVs; it is with our helicopters; it is with our [assets] here all coordinated."

Yeah, right!

When journalist Hayat Ullah Khan made the mistake of taking a picture of the remnants of the missile, showing that the missile was Made in the USA, Musharraf had him disapeared, never to be seen again. 

Hopefully, no unlucky journalist brings out any proof that this was wasn''t just another Pakistani mission.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:24 PM EST
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Monday, 28 January 2008
The GWOT, not going so great.

Ashley J. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says in an interview for the AP concerning he rapidly deteriorating situation in Afgahnistan:

"There is strong pressure now from the international community to find some solution to Afghanistan because of the fear that this could quickly go south. We haven't lost the war yet, but we could be on our way to doing so."

Not only is the war going south, but so are the Talibs; to Kandahar specifically. AP reports that an American aid worker,Cyd Mizell, and her Afghan driver were abducted in Kandahar on Sunday.

Sarah Chayes, a former reporter for NPR and now a makerr of soap in Kandahar, says the kidnapping "sends a signal. It's like a new chapter in a book." [Christian Science Monitor]

Great, just what we needed a new chapter. The BUsh admistration is also writing a new chapter for this years upcoming "fighting season" preparing to send 3,200 Marines to help out the 28,000 or or so troops already there. This constitutes more troops now in Afghanistan than we had at the beginning of the war.

But, even as we ramp up operations in the forgotten war, Pakistan is also rapidly falling apart. The US is tryign to get out bastard in Rawalpindi to do something about his little Taliban problem, but he's not buying what the US is selling. He;s more interested in goign after "miscreants."

More later.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:14 PM EST
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Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Bugging out in Basra. Mission accomplished.
Topic: Iraq

AFP reports:

"BASRA, Iraq (AFP) - The British military will transfer security control of the southern province of Basra to Iraqi forces on Sunday, Iraq's government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told reporters on Wednesday. 'The handover of Basra will take place on December 16,' Dabbagh said."

 Gosh, that was sudden! But what about MSR Tampa?

Earlier on, in Spetember, IHT reported:

"As British troops pull out of their last base in Basra, some military commanders and civilian government officials in the area are concerned that the transition could leave them and a major supply route to Baghdad [MSR Tampa] at greater risk of attack . . . According to officers at the U.S. 3rd Army forward headquarters in Kuwait, which oversees the vast shipments of supplies flowing north into Iraq, on any given day more than 3,000 vehicles are on the road in convoys hauling food, fuel, ammunition and other equipment."

That could be a problem, no?

Because, the British plan on not only bugging out of Basra but also of getting out of the country entirely by the end of the year, if not sooner. The British say their job is basically done. During his "surprise" visit to British troops in Iraq, UK PM Gordon Brown said: "It's because of all the operations we have done over the past few months that the security situation has not only improved, but he is now recommending a move to provincial Iraqi control within two weeks."

Right. . . 

The Journal-Standard reports:

"The police chief of Iraq's southern Basra province acknowledged Thursday that his forces lack the means to maintain security in the region after a British troop withdrawal later this month. . . 'I'm faced with a lot of hardships,' Maj. Gen. Jalil Khalaf, commander of the Basra Police Division, told The Associated Press. 'Frankly speaking, we have rifles, machine-guns and a few armored vehicles, which aren't as advanced as the British weaponry and are insufficient to maintain full control of the province.' So far, in tough situations, he said Iraqi police have had to rely on calling in 'support from Baghdad' or the U.S.-led coalition."

Additionally, Maj-Gen Khalaf told the BBC "There is a terrible repression against women in Basra. . . .They kill women, leave a piece of paper on her or dress her in indecent clothes so as to justify their horrible crimes"

BBC: "Forty-two women were killed between July and September this year, although the number dropped slightly in October, he said."

So, you see, the security situation in Basra is cleary under control.

Good luck with getting any help from the government in Baghdad to curb these abuses against women. Many of al-Maliki's buddies in government  think women are getting a little too uppity these days anyway. 

And Good luck with geting help from the Americans. U.S. General David Patraeus is also contemplating the improved security situation in his neck of the woods and has plans to begin pulling five combat brigades out of Iraq by the end of the summer. Patraeus seems to think even without the British presence down south things will be fine.

Coalition and Iraqi security forces can get the job done. Naturally, Patraeus said that during his visit to London in September he and his UK counterparts would "talk tasks" and that "among the tasks is the need to continue line-of-communications security, certainly."

Certainly, but what about the situation in Maysan province, the area the Brits turned over to the Iraqi in April? Could this be any indication of what we might have in store for us in the near furture in Basra?

AFP reports:

"Four car bombs killed at least 33 people in Iraq on Wednesday, including 28 in the southern city of Amara [the capital of Maysan]. Triple car bombs in Amara killed at least 28 people and wounded another 151, 10 of them children, said Zamil Shia'a al-Oreibi, director general of Amara health department. Amara police Lieutenant Ali Kadhim Hassan said the bombs exploded within minutes of each other, the first going off at 10:30 am (0730 GMT)."  

It seems to me both the Brits and us are trying to use this little interlude of relative peace (and I do mean relative) in Iraq as cover to bug out. In the case of Gordon Brown, he figures he doesn't want to take over ownership of the Blair's debacle so he's more than happy to get out. Patraeus has taken ownership of Bush quagmire but he's on the clock. There is no way he doesn't drive the Army into the ground if he keeps the kind of troop levels he's got now past the summer.

Everybody is crossing their fingers and toes hoping things hang on long enough to bow out gracefully. It all looks like wishful thinking to me. Let's see what happens once provincial elections are allowed to go ahead.

But what about MSR Tampa? Our lines of communication are a little precarious right now. We're hoping the Turks keep playing ball in the north and in the south?

Well, Lieutenant Colonel James Hutton, a spokesman for the Multinational Corps-Iraq, says he's noted a "recent drop in both the number and effectiveness of attacks on these convoys." He credits this on "aggressive patrolling" and Muqtada al-Sadr's recent retolling cease-fire which Hutton says might lead to "further reductions of violence in the southern provinces."

That's a pretty thin reed to hold on to: Let's hope Muqtada behaves himself?

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:15 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007 4:00 PM EST
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Saturday, 24 November 2007
South Asia roundup
Topic: War on Terror

There is so much going on in South Asia these days I just don't know where to start.

The DAWN reports today that Nawaz Sharif will make another attempt ot make it back to Lahore tomorrow, which ought to be interesting. 

With all the shutting down of independent media under Musharraf's maritial law it's difficult to know what exactly is going on, but the DAWN seems to think there was some sort a deal made between Musharraf and Sharif.

Interestingly, ISI chief General Nadeem Taj went along with Musharraf to Saudi Arabia in his own plane.

DAWN reports:

"The ISI chief, who accompanied the president to Saudi Arabia, stayed back in Riyadh after Gen Musharraf’s entourage moved to Jeddah. Gen Nadeem Taj’s prolonged stay in the Saudi capital fuelled speculations that an understanding between the two leaders was on the cards. Sources said the ISI chief was again in Riyadh when Nawaz Sharif flew into the city on Friday. Sources at the Pakistan embassy told Dawn that ‘clearance’ for the ISI chief’s plane had been sought from the embassy."

Meanwhile, another suicide attack struck Rawalpindi today:

BBC reports:

"Twin suicide car bombings have killed at least 30 people and injured many others in the Pakistani garrison city of Rawalpindi, officials have said. One of the blasts hit a bus packed with members of the security forces. . . the BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says attacks are often suspected to have been carried out by pro-Taleban militants in revenge for military operations in the tribal areas near the Afghan border and in North-West Frontier Province. "

What is not mentioned in this article is that in an on-air interview early this morning Plett revealed that there is speculation that the attacker of the ISI bus might have been known by the riders, implying that these sucide bombers, like the one on September 5, were able to get away with these bombings in the heart of the military's stronghold because they are or were on the payroll.

Remember, the ISI had this little problem of supporting the Talibs all through the 90's. The GWU's National Security Archives  recently got hold of files proving the extensive involvment of the ISI in helping the Talibs.

A "January 1997 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan observed that 'for Pakistan, a Taliban-based government in Kabul would be as good as it can get in Afghanistan, adding that worries that the 'Taliban brand of Islam . . .might infect Pakistan,' was 'apparently a problem for another day."

That other day is apparently here. But not to fear, former ISI chief Lt. General Ashfaq Kiyani is here to save the day. When John Negroponte -- himself no stranger to supporting terrorists, I mean, his "special project" in Central America-- went to Pakistan this week where he had one meeting with Musharraf and three with Kiyani. He reportedly told Kiyani at one point, "Use your influence. You can help save Pakistan." [ANI]

Great, this gives me a lot of confidence. Intelbriefs says of Kiyani:

"It was during his tenture that the neo-Taliban staged a comeback in the tribal areas of Pakistan with a big bang and the Pakistan army practically lost control over the Pashtun belt, thus enabling al-Qaeda to establish its sancuaries in the Waziristan region on the Pak-Afghan border."

But, that's not a probelm, we've supported Musharraf up to this point and all he's done is drive the whole Pakistan file into the ditch.

And one more little tid bit:

This week Musahrraf's hand picked supreme court threw out all challanges to his election last month.

The Pakistan Times reports:

 "Ten-member full court of the Supreme Court Monday dismissed six petitions including a contempt petition filed by Justice (Retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed and others challenging the eligibility of General Pervez Musharraf to contest Presidential election for the 2nd term, as withdrawn as well as due to non-prosecution."

"Non Prosecution" is a legal way of saying the lawyers who brought the petitions weren't there to prosecute them. Funny enough, Musharraf had them all arrested so they couldn't show up. But I guess that's an internal matter that he US administration isn't too interested in. Better top focua on those free and fair elections coming up in January -- if ther Takliban doesn't taek over between now and then.

And in Afganistan:

The Senlis Council reports:

"The security situation in Afghanistan has reached crisis proportions. The Taliban's ability to establish a presence throughout the country is now proven beyond doubt; exclusive research undertaken by Senlis Afghanistan indicates that 54 per cent of Afghanistan’s landmass hosts a permanent Taliban presence, primarily in southern Afghanistan, and is subject to frequent hostile activity by the insurgency.

The Taliban are the de facto governing authority in significant portions of territory in the south and east, and are starting to control parts of the local economy and key infrastructure such as roads and energy supply. The insurgency also exercises a significant amount of psychological control, gaining more and more political legitimacy in the minds of the Afghan people who have a long history of shifting alliances and regime change." 

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:24 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007 2:24 PM EST
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Friday, 9 November 2007
Bhutto gets arrested, Bush eternally hopeful.

AP reports:

 "Pakistani police backed by armored vehicles detained opposition leader Benazir Bhutto at her Islamabad residence Friday and reportedly rounded up 5,000 of her supporters to block a planned mass protest against emergency rule, officials said. "

Yes, it's good to see Pervez is really taking W.'s "frank discussion" to heart. I'm sure, also, that Musharraf's vague promise of elections sometime in Feb. is right on track, too.

It's kind of funny Musharraf & Co. are so concerned about a legal political party rallying in Rawalpindi on Friday, whilst  they don't seem to be in the least concerned about suicide bombers roaming the streets unhindered. I also find it funny that the government blamed Baitullah Mehsud for the attempt on Bhutto's life two weeks ago, yet then made a deal with him to leave him alone. Funny, too, that the official reason for Bhutto's arrest seems to tbe that she might be in danger from sucide bombers. 

Very odd, this country Pakistan. 

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:32 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2008 5:48 PM EST
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Thursday, 8 November 2007
W.'s frank discussion with Musharraf. More of the same, frankly.
Topic: War on Terror

Deputy secretary of State, John "give me another job, I don't like this one" Negroponte, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday that U.S. aid programs (i.e. weapons sales) to Pakistan were "crucial" to the WOT. "Cutting these programs would send a negative signal to the people of Pakistan," Negroponte said.  

Sitting back and praising Pervez Musharraf, as W. did the other day, as a valued ally in the fight against extremism and radicals -- whilst he shuts down the electronic media, locks away human rights' activists without charges and allows his security forces to beat and tear gas lawyers in the streets  -- sends a signal, too.  

In fact, the "on-again off-again interactions that have characterized our relationship in the past" with Pakistan, as Negroponte put it, which have been pretty much on-again with the autocratic Musharraf since 9/11, transmits the very clear signal that W. & Co. care more about US strategic policy objectives than about spreading democracy.  In describing the difference between his responses to Musharraf's "emergency decree" versus the reaction to the Burmese Junta's crack down on the Monks, W. said yesterday:

"Look, our objective is the same in Burma as in Pakistan, and that is to promote democracy. There is a difference, however. Pakistan has been on the path to democracy. Burma hadn't been on the path to democracy."  

Uh huh.  

[W. says he told Musaharraf "You can't be the president and the head of the military at the same time." But isn't W. the president and the commander in chief of of  the military at the same time? He probably shoud have come up with a better argument. WaPo]

When exactly was Pakistan on the path to democracy? When Musharraf got elected while still in uniform and by the current parliament, all of which was blatantly unconstitutional? Was it when he fired Ifktihar Chaudhry when it looked like he was going to rule that Musharraf was ineligible to run in uniform? Is he talking about his knuckle-headed gambit to install a fig leaf on Musharraf's autocratic rule by setting Benezir Bhutto up in partnership? (Boy that really blew up in the administration's face.)  

To me and to many others now well schooled in W.'s fractured double-speak, its pretty clear his "very frank discussion" with Musharraf isn't going to lead to elections anytime soon. And even if Musharraf allows elections to go ahead, now one month later than scheduled, according to him, they'll be something less than free and fair. But will nonetheless be hailed as such by W. & Co, regardless. 

Obviously, W. and the most experienced foreign policy team in the history of the world haven't got a clue about what to do about Pakistan, so they'll just stay with what they know: Back Musharraf to the hilt, throw more money at the problem and hope for the best.  There are various bills floating around Congress to cut off aid to Pakistan's military, but I don't think either W. or Musharraf are very worried about it. All W. will have to do is imply the Democrats are weak on terror and all talk of punishing the regime in Islamabad will crumble.  

The question is how long do we have until Musharraf's rule crumbles? And if W. & Co. actually do have any other general's numbers, as Rep. Gary Ackerman suggested, will they be around to answer the call? It seems the Pakistani army itself is beginning to crumble a bit. Suicide bombings in Rawalpindi, the main garrison town, are now almost a daily occurrence; over a thousand troops have died in the past few years fighting militants of various stripes; hundreds have been captured and held hostage; and many more hundreds have simply handed their weapons over to the Talibs and gone home.

And for all the discussion by the "intelligence community" about how unlikely the chances are of the nightmare scenario of OBL or Mullah Omar getting their hands on a nuke via sympathetic junior military officers, the more worrying scenario is the lack of accounting of the materials that could be turned into a nuke or at the very least a "dirty-bomb." Ron Moreau and Michael Hirsh write in last week's NEWSWEEK that, last year the country's Atomic Energy Agency "began publishing ads in newspapers instructing the public about how to recognize radioactive materials and their symbols. The ads were quickly withdrawn after they incited fears that fissile materials had gone missing."  

The fact is, no one really knows how much of this fissile material the Pakistanis have made and if it's all under wraps. Keeping in the mind that Pakistan leaves North Korea and Iran in the dust when it comes to nuclear proliferation -- thanks to the good works of A.Q. Khan who Musharraf declared a national hero -- OBL & Co. wouldn't necessarily find it too difficult to get their hands on the tools they need to make nukes.  

But, let's all just pull together in hoping our bastard in Islamabad can get his house in order and at some point in the future get around to actually getting his security forces to do something about the extremists and radicals who live and operate in the open and free of any interference by their buddies the ISI in Peshawar and Quetta and recruit and re-arm in the refugee camps of Jalozai and Shamshatu. Of course, beating up bespectacled lawyers, rounding up pacifists and old ladies is so much easier.  

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:13 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 8 November 2007 3:24 PM EST
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