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December 19th
2:18 PM
Rafia Zakaria  |  Chapati Mystery »

The British left and Pakistan and India exchanged their misgivings against the British Empire with petty barbs and nuclear weapons directed at each other. It is a consuming concern; and has occupied millions on either side with its continuing pettiness and puffery for a near century. On either side; the love of pomp and protocol has remained; flagellated into democratic norms on one side and military machinations on the other. Indians and Pakistani leaders are united in their love of appropriating the discriminatory racism that was once heaped on them… Importance, value, worth on either side of the border equals never being mistaken for those ordinary hordes; And nowhere is this most visible than in the constellations of power, the subcontinent elected office means command over convoys of cars, flashing lights, security details and never, ever, the ignominy of being treated “just like everyone else”
To the powerful Indian and Pakistani, and to the citizens of either country that expect and tolerate the anointment of the powerful; the casual offhandedness of the Western politician is an anathema. They cannot fathom how members of the United States Congress travel in public trains, stand in line at Starbucks, do not demand acknowledgement of their haloed presence from anyone who may be about. 
All of this came to light in a most modern controversy born just this past week An Indian diplomat based in Washington D.C made some less than honest claims in her attempt to get her Indian maid to the United States…  >continue<

Rafia Zakaria  |  Chapati Mystery »

The British left and Pakistan and India exchanged their misgivings against the British Empire with petty barbs and nuclear weapons directed at each other. It is a consuming concern; and has occupied millions on either side with its continuing pettiness and puffery for a near century. On either side; the love of pomp and protocol has remained; flagellated into democratic norms on one side and military machinations on the other. Indians and Pakistani leaders are united in their love of appropriating the discriminatory racism that was once heaped on them… Importance, value, worth on either side of the border equals never being mistaken for those ordinary hordes; And nowhere is this most visible than in the constellations of power, the subcontinent elected office means command over convoys of cars, flashing lights, security details and never, ever, the ignominy of being treated “just like everyone else”

To the powerful Indian and Pakistani, and to the citizens of either country that expect and tolerate the anointment of the powerful; the casual offhandedness of the Western politician is an anathema. They cannot fathom how members of the United States Congress travel in public trains, stand in line at Starbucks, do not demand acknowledgement of their haloed presence from anyone who may be about. 

All of this came to light in a most modern controversy born just this past week An Indian diplomat based in Washington D.C made some less than honest claims in her attempt to get her Indian maid to the United States…  >continue<

May 21st
12:53 PM
Via
"The Obama administration should terminate any practice, such as the reported signature strikes, that does not comply with principles of international humanitarian and human rights law. It must also introduce transparency to the drone program, including its governing rules, how targets are selected and how civilian damage is weighed."
—  from Crisis Group’s recent report, Drones: Myths and Reality in Pakistan
August 15th
9:38 PM
Via

Gunmen Have Attacked And Entered Kamra Air Base In Pakistan, Thought To House Nuclear Weapons - Business Insider

pieceinthepuzzlehumanity:

Gunmen have attacked and entered a Pakistan air force base, according to Reuters. The target is the Kamra Air Base, located around 40 miles outside Islamabad. The attacked is believed to be conducted by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — reports in the Pakistan press have suggested they were planning attacks in retaliation for upcoming military action. A three hour gun battle is reportedly raging between security guards and attackers.

[Read More]

May 23rd
11:15 AM
Via
reuters:

Pakistani authorities have sentenced a doctor accused of helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden to 33 years in jail on charges of treason, officials said, a move almost certain to further strain ties between Washington and Islamabad.
Shakil Afridi was accused of running a fake vaccination campaign, in which he collected DNA samples, that is believed to have helped the American intelligence agency track down bin Laden in a Pakistani town.
The al Qaeda chieftain was killed in a unilateral U.S. special forces raid in the town of Abbottabad in May last year.
“Dr Shakil has been sentenced to 33 years imprisonment and a fine of 320,000 Pakistani rupees ($3,477),” said Mohammad Nasir, a government official in the northwestern city of Peshawar, where the jail term will be served. He gave no further details.
Afridi is the first person to be sentenced by Pakistani authorities in the bin Laden case.
READ MORE: Pakistani doctor jailed for helping CIA find bin Laden

reuters:

Pakistani authorities have sentenced a doctor accused of helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden to 33 years in jail on charges of treason, officials said, a move almost certain to further strain ties between Washington and Islamabad.

Shakil Afridi was accused of running a fake vaccination campaign, in which he collected DNA samples, that is believed to have helped the American intelligence agency track down bin Laden in a Pakistani town.

The al Qaeda chieftain was killed in a unilateral U.S. special forces raid in the town of Abbottabad in May last year.

“Dr Shakil has been sentenced to 33 years imprisonment and a fine of 320,000 Pakistani rupees ($3,477),” said Mohammad Nasir, a government official in the northwestern city of Peshawar, where the jail term will be served. He gave no further details.

Afridi is the first person to be sentenced by Pakistani authorities in the bin Laden case.

READ MORE: Pakistani doctor jailed for helping CIA find bin Laden

May 20th
12:23 PM

Charting Obama's Journey to a Shift on Afghanistan

"rude discoveries" »

Mr. Obama began to question why Americans were dying to prop up a leader, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, who was volatile, unreliable and willing to manipulate the ballot box. Faced with an economic crisis at home and a fiscal crisis that Mr. Obama knew would eventually require deep limits on Pentagon spending, he was also shocked, they said, by what the war’s cost would be if the generals’ counterinsurgency plan were left on autopilot — $1 trillion over 10 years. And the more he delved into what it would take to truly change Afghan society, the more he concluded that the task was so overwhelming that it would make little difference whether a large American and NATO force remained for 2 more years, 5 more years or 10 more years.

The remaking of American strategy in Afghanistan began, though no one knew it at the time, in a cramped conference room in Mr. Obama’s transition headquarters in late 2008. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, who had spent the last two years of the Bush administration trying to manage the many trade-offs necessary as the Iraq war consumed troop and intelligence resources needed in Afghanistan, arrived with a PowerPoint presentation.

The first slide that General Lute threw onto the screen caught the eye of Thomas E. Donilon, later President Obama’s national security adviser. “It said we do not have a strategy in Afghanistan that you can articulate or achieve,” Mr. Donilon recalled three years later. “We had been at war for eight years, and no one could explain the strategy.” >continue<

The piece goes on to factor the realization that Pakistan’s emergence as the bigger part of the problem renders the larger scene untenable, a bewildering dimension which threatens to complicate today’s NATO summit.

March 25th
12:04 PM
Via
thepoliticalnotebook:

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.
News this morning: Asma Al-Assad will be hit with EU sanctioning.
The female members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council say they are being sidelined.
A two-part assessment of the past few months of the Afghan transitional process from the Afghan Analysts Network. (1, 2)
There were two notable longreads pieces this week on Afghanistan, the massacre and the future of US involvement. One, by Neil Shea in The American Scholar, examines how his experiences on embed with US soldiers give insight into how the massacre happened. The other, by Matt Gallagher in the Boston Review, focuses on soldiers looking to the post-massacre political and military future.
Here are the names of the sixteen victims of the massacre.
I made a vision board for the Afghan war on Pinterest.
Ahmed Rashid was interviewed about crisis and politics in Pakistan for NPR Fresh Air.
An article on the powerful part women have played in the Libyan revolution in the Smithsonian.
Brookings’ Saban Center has released a report that estimates the various costs of a Syrian intervention in order to be “executed properly.”
This week marked the nine-year anniversary since the US dropped bombs over Baghdad during the now-infamous shock and awe. CNAS fellow Dr. Colin Kahl testified this week before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the deteriorating situation in Iraq. 
The Khawajas, a prominent revolutionary family, are under siege by the government of Bahrain.
Some really cool crisis-mapping work: mapping the mainstream media coverage of election violence in Kenya in comparison with citizen journalist coverage.
The International Crisis Group has warned that militarized post-war policies in Sri Lanka could re-ignite violence.
Soldiers overthrew President Touré in a successful military coup in the West African country of Mali, previously considered a quality example of African democratic leadership.
A really fabulous look at some climate security policy dilemmas over at Duck of Minerva.
NPR’s Morning Edition looks at cybersecurity legislation.
The US is boosting its cyberweapons and cyberdefense research: $500m has gone to DARPA over the past 5 years for this purpose.
A nuclear security summit is set to start in Seoul on Monday.
Sebastian Junger has begun an organizaton called Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues that provides freelance journalists with three-day training sessions in emergency medical skills. 
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has updated its information on international arms transfers. Here’s a fact sheet assessing the trends and data from the 2007-11 period.
Four female veterans are running for Congress this year! 
According to the GAO, the Army has serious problems with its payroll system that are causing serious delays in paychecks and could prevent the Army from being audit-ready.
Katy Perry pretended to be a Marine in her latest music video and I don’t so much know how I feel about this. Come to your own conclusions.
Photo: A Black Hawk takes off after unloading a team of Pathfinders and an Afghan patrol in Kandahar. US Army Flickr Stream.

thepoliticalnotebook:

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.

Photo: A Black Hawk takes off after unloading a team of Pathfinders and an Afghan patrol in Kandahar. US Army Flickr Stream.

March 3rd
10:45 AM
Via

Juan Cole: Top 5 Stratfor Revelations

sarahlee310:

2-29-2012

1. Up to 12 Pakistani active-duty and retired officers from the Inter-Services Intelligence agency knew that Usama Bin Laden was in Abbottabad and were in regular contact with him. The Pakistani chief of staff is denying the report.

2. Dow Chemicals hired Stratfor to spy on activists in Agra who continue to protest over the Bhopal environmental disaster that blinded many workers and destroyed their health. I.e., Stratfor was not just doing analysis but was involved in private intelligence operations against civil society groups that had a right to protest.

3. Stratfor Vice President Fred Burton, a former State Department official involved in counter-terrorism, lamented that in the old days the US would simply have assassinated Venezuelan leftist leader Hugo Chavez and Bolivian leftist leader Evo Morales. The internal emails also suggest that Stratfor had placed a female asset in Venezuela, who was having sex with an officer and pumping him for information. The officer was said also to be “working with Israel.” Chavez is known for his criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.

4. Russia sold weapons to Iran but turned around and gave their security codes to Israel.

5. The fifth revelation is that often Stratfor analysts did not know what they were talking about and had an extreme rightwing bias. For instance, this memo on the revolution in Egypt attempts to argue that the officer corps was behind the revolution against Hosni Mubarak and that the masses were insufficiently mobilized to account for it. It is alleged that only 750,000 people came out in Tahrir Square, a small number for a country of 82 million. But in fact that was only in Tahrir. People demonstrated elsewhere in Cairo. And they were in the streets in Alexandria, Suez, Asyut and other cities. Even small towns saw burnings of police stations and HQs of the National Democratic Party. This memo makes a grassroots revolution that shook Egypt from Alexandria to Aswan into an officers’ putsch. While the officers tacked with the wind and did end up siding with the demonstrators against Mubarak, they were clearly playing political catch-up. It was revolutionary groups like April 6 that made the revolution in the cities, and the Muslim Brotherhood in the rural areas. The memo is frankly obtuse and if this is what Booz Allen was paying $20,000 a year for, they should demand their money back.

This fifth point, about the one percent interpreting the world for the one percent as being about the one percent, is a dire problem in our information system, since the one percent has the resources and can try to overwhelm reasoned analysis that recognizes the agency of the people…. >continue<

February 1st
4:01 PM

"The Taliban are not Islam. The Taliban are Islamabad."

Guardian - Julian Borger »
Leaked U.S. Report

…According to published excerpts, the report finds that “Taliban commanders, along with rank and file members, increasingly believe their control of Afghanistan is inevitable. Though the Taliban suffered severely in 2011, its strength, motivation, funding and tactical proficiency remains intact.”

The authors, American researchers attached to special forces, conclude that the weakness and venality of the government in Kabul is an increasing source of strength for the insurgents. “In the last year, there has been unprecedented interest, even from [Afghan government] members, in joining the insurgent cause. Afghan civilians frequently prefer Taliban governance over [the Afghan government], usually as a result of government corruption, ethnic bias and lack of connection with local religious and tribal leaders.

The BBC quotes the report as saying: “Reflections from detainees indicate that Pakistan’s manipulation of Taliban senior leadership continues unabated. The Taliban themselves do not trust Pakistan, yet there is a widespread acceptance of the status quo in lieu of realistic alternatives.”

The report also quotes a senior al-Qaida detainee as saying: “Pakistan knows everything. They control everything. I can’t [expletive] on a tree in Kunar without them watching.”  >continue<

January 11th
8:06 AM

Pakistani army warns government of 'serious ramificiations'

BBC »

Pakistan’s military has publicly rebuked Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani over an escalating row.

The army warned of “serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences” after the PM criticised military leaders in a media interview.

Meanwhile, Mr Gilani has sacked his defence secretary, who is seen as having close ties to the military.  >continue<

Civilian/Military rift,  Lohdi sacked  |  Pakistan, a hard country

ZeitVox eye on Pakistan

January 1st
2:44 PM
Fantasy FrontiersExcellent interactive mapping of claims by India, Pakistan &amp; China

Most contentious of all, however, are the borders in Kashmir, where Pakistan, India and China all have competing claims. By the time of independence, in 1947, it was clear that many Indian Muslims were determined to break off from Hindu-majority India. It fell to a British civil servant, who knew nothing of the region, to draw a line&#8230; &gt;continue&lt;

Fantasy Frontiers
Excellent interactive mapping of claims by India, Pakistan & China

Most contentious of all, however, are the borders in Kashmir, where Pakistan, India and China all have competing claims. By the time of independence, in 1947, it was clear that many Indian Muslims were determined to break off from Hindu-majority India. It fell to a British civil servant, who knew nothing of the region, to draw a line… >continue<

November 28th
2:37 PM
Protesters burn a US flag during a protest in Multan on November 27, 2011 — Photo by AFP
Pakistanis demand end to US alliance

Members of civil society, lawyers, traders and students organised the  rallies, still relatively small, in major cities of the country of 167  million people, where opposition to the US alliance is rampant.
“The government should cut Nato supplies permanently, take back military  bases from the US and plead that this cases violates the borders in the  UN Security Council”  &gt;continue&lt;

Another Hot Flash  |  China backs Pakistan
AFPAK Disarray  |  Coping with a Failing Pakistan
ZeitVox Pakistan curation

Protesters burn a US flag during a protest in Multan on November 27, 2011 — Photo by AFP

Pakistanis demand end to US alliance

Members of civil society, lawyers, traders and students organised the rallies, still relatively small, in major cities of the country of 167 million people, where opposition to the US alliance is rampant.

“The government should cut Nato supplies permanently, take back military bases from the US and plead that this cases violates the borders in the UN Security Council”  >continue<

Another Hot Flash  |  China backs Pakistan

AFPAK Disarray  |  Coping with a Failing Pakistan

ZeitVox Pakistan curation

November 10th
1:19 PM

Pakistan, India herald new era of dialogue

(Reuters) - India and Pakistan hailed progress in diplomatic ties on Thursday, promising to open a “new chapter” in their fraught relationship at a next round of formal peace talks due to take place by the end of this month.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani held nearly an hour-long discussion at a resort island in the Maldives, punctuating a recent thaw between the two…

India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, resumed a peace dialogue in February that was derailed after an attack by Pakistan-based militants in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008.

"We will resume this dialogue with the expectation that all issues which have bedevilled relations between the two countries will be discussed," Singh said. "The time has come to write a new chapter in the history of the relationship of the two countries."  >continue<

… crossing fingers

November 8th
9:13 AM

Pakistan: The Ally From Hell

Atlantic

Nuclear-weapons components are sometimes moved by helicopter and sometimes moved over roads. And instead of moving nuclear material in armored, well-defended convoys, the SPD prefers to move material by subterfuge, in civilian-style vehicles without noticeable defenses, in the regular flow of traffic. According to both Pakistani and American sources, vans with a modest security profile are sometimes the preferred conveyance. And according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, the Pakistanis have begun using this low-security method to transfer not merely the “de-mated” component nuclear parts but “mated” nuclear weapons. Western nuclear experts have feared that Pakistan is building small, “tactical” nuclear weapons for quick deployment on the battlefield. In fact, not only is Pakistan building these devices, it is also now moving them over roads.

What this means, in essence, is this: In a country that is home to the harshest variants of Muslim fundamentalism, and to the headquarters of the organizations that espouse these extremist ideologies, including al-Qaeda, the Haqqani network, and Lashkar-e-Taiba (which conducted the devastating terror attacks on Mumbai three years ago that killed nearly 200 civilians), nuclear bombs capable of destroying entire cities are transported in delivery vans on congested and dangerous roads. And Pakistani and American sources say that since the raid on Abbottabad, the Pakistanis have provoked anxiety inside the Pentagon by increasing the pace of these movements. In other words, the Pakistani government is willing to make its nuclear weapons more vulnerable to theft by jihadists simply to hide them from the United States, the country that funds much of its military budget. >continue<

related: Coping with a Failing Pakistan

A highly complex and lamentable situation which, one might argue, represents a slow motion train wreck in the wake of the late 70’s U.S. intervention against Russia in Afghanistan. “Winning the Cold War” sure sounded good at the time.

September 24th
2:24 AM
Via
"Partners, allies do not talk to each other through the public. This is something that we took up, we have taken up with the US and if this continues the only way we have to interpret this is that this is the policy decision of the US. Then we have the right to be able to take our own policy decisions. We want to partner with the US. We have said this repeatedly. This is a complex problem. Looking for scapegoats, blame-games will not help. I just hope that we’ll be given a chance to be able to cooperate with each other and the doors will remain open because statements like this are pretty much close to shutting those doors."
September 12th
1:43 PM

'Ipso facto unwinnable'

77 US troops Wounded in Truck Bombing of Base in Wardak; Top Reasons US should get out of Afghanistan

According to Robert Crews of Stanford University, the large US/NATO troop footprint in the country, along with the US-engineered overbearing presidency, which the US uses to try to control the country– all this contributes to fanning the flames of insurgency. That is, Washington thinks that the Taliban and other insurgents can be crushed by Western military force, but in fact that very foreign military presence creates a bigger and bigger insurgency.  >continue<

One might add that, while fears for the integrity of Pakistan itself have provided some rationale for sticking it out, the problems with Pakistan have become so torqued in the wake of the Bin Laden raid as to appear insoluble - and likely beyond factoring into rational justifications for the tremendous costs (financial and political) of prolonging the US presence in Afghanistan. That is to say, this issue warrants hard focus and debate.