Sunday, October 10, 2010

Afghan War Costs US Taxpayers $50 Million Per Dead Taliban

US War in Afghanistan entered its tenth year this week, making it the longest war in US history.

What began as a US-Saudi-Pakistani sponsored anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and led to the terrorist attacks on Sept 11, 2001, is now threatening to engulf Africa, Central Asia, Middle East and South Asia in its growing flames. And its effects are continuing to be strongly felt in America and Europe.

The victorious veterans of the 1980s Afghan resistance have successfully indoctrinated and trained several generations of battle-hardened global jihadis to take on the United States and various pro-Western governments in Islamic nations in all parts of the world. This trend is accelerating as the US steps up its attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according a recent report in Newsweek magazine. Here is an excerpt from its report:

"The Central Asians retreated to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the late 1990s after failing to topple their home governments. Now they seem ready to try again, using guerrilla tactics and know-how they’ve picked up from the Taliban about improvised explosive devices. Small groups of Tajik and Uzbek militants began moving into Tajikistan in late winter 2009, says a Taliban subcommander in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz. In Kunduz they joined up with fighters from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a Qaeda-linked group active there and in Tajikistan. “Once these first groups made it back safely [to Tajikistan], they signaled to militants here in Kunduz and even in Pakistan’s tribal areas that the journey was possible,” the subcommander, who didn’t want to be named for security reasons, tells Newsweek."

As the war expands, it is now worth pondering over the current and future costs of what appears to be an interminable war on terror, and consider alternative approaches, including greater use of soft power.

Even if most Americans choose to assign no value to the lives of many poor Afghan and Pakistani civilians killed as "collateral", here is an analysis by a blogger at of the exorbitant financial cost of the US war in Afghanistan to the American taxpayers:

The estimated cost to kill each Taliban is as high as $100 million, with a conservative estimate being $50 million.

1. Taliban Field Strength: 35,000 troops

2. Taliban Killed Per Year by Coalition forces: 2,000 (best available information)

3. Pentagon Direct Costs for Afghan War for 2010: $100 billion

4. Pentagon Indirect Costs for Afghan War for 2010: $100 billion

Using the fact that 2,000 Taliban are being killed each year and that the Pentagon spends $200 billion per year on the war in Afghanistan, one simply has to divide one number into the other. That calculation reveals that $100 million is being spent to kill each Taliban soldier. In order to be conservative, the author decided to double the number of Taliban being killed each year by U.S. and NATO forces (although the likelihood of such being true is unlikely). This reduces the cost to kill each Taliban to $50 million, which is the title of this article. The final number is outrageously high regardless of how one calculates it.

To put this information another way, using the conservative estimate of $50 million to kill each Taliban:

It costs the American taxpayers $1 billion to kill 20 Taliban

As the U.S. military estimates there to be 35,000 hard-core Taliban and assuming that no reinforcements and replacements will arrive from Pakistan and Iran:

Just killing the existing Taliban would cost $1.75 Trillion, not including the growing numbers of new Taliban recruits joining every day.

The reason for these exorbitant costs is that United States has the world’s most mechanized, computerized, weaponized and synchronized military, not to mention the most pampered (at least at Forward Operating Bases). An estimated 150,000 civilian contractors support, protect, feed and cater to the American personnel in Afghanistan, which is an astonishing number. The Americans enjoy such perks and distinctions in part because no other country is willing to pay (waste) so much money on their military.

The ponderous American war machine is a logistics nightmare and a maintenance train wreck. It is also part-myth. This author served at a senior level within the U.S. Air Force. Air Force “smart” bombs are no way near as consistently accurate as the Pentagon boasts; Army mortars remain inaccurate; even standard American field rifles are frequently outmatched by Taliban weapons, which have a longer range. The American public would pale if it actually learned the full story about the poor quality of the weapons and equipment that are being purchased with its tax dollars. The Taliban’s best ally within the United States may be the Pentagon, whose contempt for fiscal responsibility and accountability may force a premature U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as the Americans cannot continue to fund these Pentagon excesses.

The blogger argues that "if President Obama refuses to drastically reform the Pentagon’s inefficient way of making war, he may conclude that the Taliban is simply too expensive an enemy to fight. He would then have little choice but to abandon the Afghan people to the Taliban’s “Super-Soldiers.” That would be an intolerable disgrace".

Regardless of the killing efficiency of Pentagon's war machine, I do not think that the United States can win this war by military means alone. It's time for the American leadership to go beyond rhetoric and seriously implement its 80/20 strategy. The 80/ 20 rule, as outlined by General Petraeus, calls for 80% emphasis on the political/economic effort backed by 20% military component to fight the Taliban insurgency in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. This rule has led many to speculate about a US-backed "Marshall Plan" style effort to help Afghanistan and Pakistan expand the economic opportunity for their young and growing population, vulner able to exploitation by extremists.

I believe that the US has a stark choice in Afghanistan: Either spend %1.75 trillion on a losing war, or $200 billion in development funds to bring peace and honorable exit.

Just the long-neglected education and heathcare sectors can easily absorb tens of billions of dollars a year in Pakistan through government and non-government agencies.

In spite of all of the corruption and inefficiencies, the money will still be better spent on improving the lives of common people to live in peace than on war where the private defense contractors are looting the taxpayers in broad day light.

The need is great, and the funds are scarce in infrastructure projects. Massive funds are needed in clean water, sanitation, roads, bridges, power plants, schools and clinics projects to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals.

If America can get people busy doing productive work, there will be no need to kill them to try and win wars.

I highly recommend books like "Three Cups of Tea" and "Turning Stones into Schools" by Greg Mortenson to get a sense of what I am talking about.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

80/20 Strategy and Marshall Plan For Pakistan
UN Millennium Development Goals

Twentieth Anniversary of Soviet Defeat in Afghanistan

US Afghan Exit: Trigger for India to Talk to Pakistan?

Facts and Myths about Afghanistan and Pakistan

Obama's New Regional Strategy

Webchat On Obama's New Regional Strategy

Steph en Cohen on India-Pakistan Relations
Obama's Afghan Exit Strategy

Obama's New Regional Strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan
US Escalating Covert War in Pakistan?

Can India "Do a Lebanon in Pakistan?

20th Anniversary of Soviet Defeat in Afghanistan

Growing Insurgency in Swat

Afghan War and Collapse of the Soviet Union

US, NATO Fighting to Stalemate in Afghanistan?

FATA Faceoff Fears

FATA Raid Charades


satwa gunam said...


cost of war is more internal to usa. It is only increasing the government expenditure and increasing the private wealth of the arm industry which is requiring some reason after cold war to prop up the business.

It is a permanent stimulus of the american arms industry and it also provides support to the currency and employment.

Anonymous said...

That is some bad math. You are assuming the total budget spent is aimed at is killing some random Taliban in Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "You are assuming the total budget spent is aimed at is killing some random Taliban in Afghanistan."

What is the purpose of this war, or any war for that matter? To defeat the enemy? And what do you do with an enemy that won't surrender? You have to kill them? Right?

The bottom line is that, in order to defeat the Taliban on the battlefield, the US has to kill them, and all of the spending in Afghanistan is for that it supplies, fuel, hardware, ammo, etc. etc.

A couple of hundred billion dollars on a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan is pretty cheap compared with the alternative of killing just the existing Taliban at a cost $1.75 Trillion, not including the growing numbers of new Taliban recruits joining every day.

Anonymous said...

A couple of hundred billion dollars on a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan is pretty cheap compared with the alternative of killing just the existing Taliban at a cost $1.75 Trillion, not including the growing numbers of new Taliban recruits joining every day.

Here we go again Marshall Plan!!

Marshall Plan was not manna from heaven and a magic wand that can make poor countries into rich ones overnight.It was very advanced countries REBUILDING themselves i.e the social capital,organizational skills etc etc was already there in countries like west Germany and France.

Africa has got in USD terms 4 times as much money than the marshall plan gave to all of Europe its still a poor continent.

Also no asian country like Japan,South Korea,Singapore etc which became first world in this century got any marshall plan they became rich from hard work and exports.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "Marshall Plan was not manna from heaven and a magic wand that can make poor countries into rich ones overnight."

Marshall Plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan will not turn them instantaneously into rich countries, but it will provide alternative opportunities to the young men attracted to the Taliban, and hopefully reduce the supply of war recruits to move toward peace.

anon: "Also no asian country like Japan,South Korea,Singapore etc which became first world in this century got any marshall plan they became rich from hard work and exports."

The Marshall Plan did not include Asians, but US aid and market access enabled Japan and Korea to recover quicker than they would have otherwise.

As to your point about Africa being poor in spite of aid, the aid to Africans has been small and dribbled slowly compared to the Marshall Plan aid which is about $200 billion in terms of current dollars injected rapidly in a short period of just 4 years from 1948 to 1952.

Anonymous said...

My reason for writing these posts is simple, really: I want Pakistan to be a progressive state, with positive relations with all its neighbors, as well as the rest of the world. That necessarily means clarifying perceptions that I might see as untrue.
A tall order, admittedly, given the negative perception of the country and doubts that Pakistan may not even survive.
But the first step is to understand the truth of what is happening in the region, and to do that the question to ask is: Who benefits?
I may be wrong. If so, I am willing to listen to alternative viewpoints. Let's assume for the sake of argument that what I said was all 'conspiracy theory' etc. We would then need an alternative 'sensible' explanation and solution:
So, is India, indeed, magnanimous and altruistic in its spending of billions toward Afghanistan infrastructure, electric grids, education programs for Afghans, etc?Perhaps.
There's also this: that it's along with the two modern Indian air bases in Northern Afghanistan, the 14+ 'consulates' all along the Afghan-Pakistan border, the 'special' Afghan students in India, the creation of RAAM along the lines of RAW with Northern Alliance men, the frequent (photographed) visits of Baloch separatist leaders in Indian consulates, the bombers of mosques and shrines who have been followed, tracked and found to have ties to Indian 'consulates').
Who benefits? Is it true that the militant activity is blowback for Pakistan from its militant creations?
Yes, true. But who is funding/arming them now? Because after Pakistan went against them under pressure from the US, they turned against Pakistan, which was the only possible outcome. Whose strategy did this fulfil?
Who benefits?
Another element in the mix: Who created Jundallah? Who funds and arms it? After they killed several Iranian generals, Pakistan captured and turned over some of their leaders to Iran. Care to guess their funding?
Who benefits?

As regards Deobandi, Wahabbi, Naqshbandi, Cheshire cats, Muggles or any other ilk: These are just red herrings. They are levers to use and pull, in order to get the poor ignorant sods to blow themselves up by reinforcing their twisted beliefs.
The real question is: who is pulling the levers?
Who benefits?

But these are merely smaller subsets in the new overall "Great Game" which is what seems to be happening.

1. The present "Great Game" is control and access routes to oil/energy and the region for the next 40 or so years until alternative sources are developed
2. To provide a market for the military products of the military-industrial complex by perpetual war.
There is no intention of leaving the region.
The main competitors/players battling for access/control of the region are the US, China and the partners of these two. Within this battle are the subsets of regional conflicts.
China’s building of the port in Gwadar, Balochistan gives it direct access to the Persian Gulf and allows it a cheaper route for its energy needs. The only way to block this is to control Pakistan. One method to ‘control’ Pakistan was suggested by Maj. Ralph Peters in his now infamous redrawn map of the region which advocated a break-up of Pakistan.
India, ready and willing, is the means by which the break-up of Pakistan is being envisaged, through its ‘consulates’ in Afghanistan that fund the militant groups (the Baloch groups, the Pakistani Taliban, etc) which are bombing Pakistani cities, Shia/Sunni mosques, Sufi shrines etc. Mercenaries are already in place inside Pakistan.
Negative media portrayal of Pakistan is another important component to prepare the public should a war take place. They will be more accepting of a war on a country that has a negative image.
It is no coincidence that such portrayals are already at a high level, and that some violent incidents take place when needed.

Anonymous said...

Riaz politics is the art of the possible.

You seriously think that the US is in a position to give even tens of billions of dollars to a country when it is facing the biggest financial crises in living memory?

Besides Pakistan and Afghanistan do not have the institutional settings to absorb hundreds of billions of dollars in aid(which we both know is wishful thinking).

All the wall of hypothetical money will do is massively jack up inflation and give opportunities for loot to Zardari Inc.

Our institutions are already stretched handling 9% growth with massive amounts of institutional reforms needed to effectively handle $600 billion/per annum investment.

Indian GDP= 1.5 trill USD
investment= 40% of 1.5 trillion=$600 billion approx per annum.

This is what is causing inflation in India.

Anonymous said...

As to your point about Africa being poor in spite of aid, the aid to Africans has been small and dribbled slowly compared to the Marshall Plan aid which is about $200 billion in terms of current dollars injected rapidly in a short period of just 4 years from 1948 to 1952.

I see so the difference in organizational ability and competence and social capital of West Germany vs Africa has nothing to do with the performance disparity?????

Anonymous said...

Riaz WoT is not only about killing taliban and wars don't end when every single enemy combatant is killed.

India didn't finish every paki soldier in 1971 but that is still called an Indian victory. :P

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "India didn't finish every paki soldier in 1971 but that is still called an Indian victory. :P"

Taliban are not a regular Army playing by your rules. They fight to win or die.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "I see so the difference in organizational ability and competence and social capital of West Germany vs Africa has nothing to do with the performance disparity?????"

Yes, there are differences. Unlike Africa, Germany was never colonized.

But injection of funds can and does make a difference if it's designed to help the people, not to feed graft.

The work of Gates and Clinton Foundations is already showing results in terms of fewer infections and reduced malaria and HIV-related deaths.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "Besides Pakistan and Afghanistan do not have the institutional settings to absorb hundreds of billions of dollars in aid(which we both know is wishful thinking)."

I disagree.

Just the long-neglected education and heathcare sectors can easily absorb tens of billions of dollars a year in Pakistan through government and non-government agencies.

In spite of all of the inefficiencies, the money will still be better spent on improving the lives of common people to live in peace than on war where the private defense contractors are looting the taxpayers in broad day light.

The need is great, and the funds are scarce in infrastructure projects. Massive funds are needed in clean water, sanitation, roads, bridges, power plants, schools and clinics projects to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals.

If you get people busy doing productive work, you don't have to kill them to try and win wars.

You should read books like "Three Cups of Tea" and "Turning Stones into Schools" by Greg Mortenson to get a sense of what I am talking about.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...


Looks like you had a valid point in the past when you talked about hungry Indians and relatively well fed Pakistanis.

India’s performance belies the inverse correlation between its income levels, taken as per capita Gross National Income (GNI), and GHI scores

I believe that the higher GDP per capita story of India should be adjusted for inflation as poor people do not benefit from Sensex crossing 20000, ye pay 4x for food as before a year..

Imran Q said...

I am surprised with that kind of money, why is the war not outsourced ? Many generations of Zardari would want to keep on fighting for that kind of money coming in? Or, is it just the money ?

Riaz Haq said...

Imran: "I am surprised with that kind of money, why is the war not outsourced ? Many generations of Zardari would want to keep on fighting for that kind of money coming in? Or, is it just the money?"

This war is the most outsourced war in the history...with the number of contractors far exceeding the number of regular soldiers in Afghanistan.

This year, for the first time, U.S. contractor deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeded troop deaths, according to ProPublica.

But these contractors are not cheap. Companies like Blackwater (aka Xe Services) that employ retired military and inteligence officers have grown from nothing to multi-billion dollar companies in just a couple of years.

The Karazi clan is the biggest beneficiary of such US security and other supply contracts in Afghanistan.

Zardaris are not interested in risking their lives to make money when there are easier and safer ways available to amass billions.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a piece in Foreign Policy magazine by Christine Fair on fuel supplies to NATO troops and where the money goes for such contracts:

Within hours of last Thursday's helicopter strikes, the Pakistani government retaliated by shutting down the Torkham border crossing, which lies north of Peshawar on the Grant Trunk Road. Torkham is the crossing through which a majority of non-lethal NATO supplies pass into Afghanistan from Pakistan, once they are offloaded from ships based in Pakistan's port city of Karachi. The other main crossing into Afghanistan, at Chaman linking Baluchistan and Kandahar, has remained open. .........

So, why haven't attacks on the supply line to Afghanistan been more common?...

The answer is simple: trucking mafias and organized criminal and insurgent networks are all making money off of this system. The system of payoffs is elaborate yet elegant. Pashtuns dominate the trucking mafia in Pakistan and represent enormous financial interests in the fundamental integrity of the supply line system. The drivers and their companies must pay off Pakistani police and any other relevant government officials to secure "safe" passage and to resolve any "paperwork complexities."

Insurgents and criminal organizations also get their courtesy payment in exchange for safe passage to Afghanistan. Ordinary smugglers and blackmarketeers get their pieces of the pie too. Cargo containers are pilfered in small amounts. They are in turn auctioned off and the buyers sell their contents in the "bara bazaars" (black markets) throughout Pakistan. Some of the contents of the trucks have made their way into the hands of Pakistani insurgents. Overall, pilferage is low. This seems deliberately calibrated to ensure that such loss is an irritant to be tolerated rather than a problem to be fixed.

Trucks have been torched in the past and sometimes in large number. But it is not as it appears in all instances. While I was with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan in 2007, I travelled to Jalalabad to meet UNAMA staff there. They explained that time-tested insurance scams are an easy way for Pakistani drivers and their employers to make cash. Trucks coming to Afghanistan offload their fuel in Pakistan at an appropriate price. Then, with only a minimal amount of fuel, the truck is "attacked" and "set on fire." The company files an insurance claim for both the lost truck and the value of the lost cargo. It is almost impossible to say how often this takes place. Sometimes it can backfire: with dozens of trucks lined up bumper to bumper, when one truck catches fire there is a deadly domino effect.

When trucks enter Afghanistan, various local "security firms" are entrusted with the responsibility that these goods meet their destination. As is well known and as detailed in a recent report by the Senate Armed Services Committee, these firms also make handsome contributions to the Afghan Taliban and other nefarious state and non-state actors.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of an Op Ed by Ambassadors Ayaz Wazir (from FATA) published in The News:

The war in Afghanistan has not only ruined that country but has badly affected its neighbours and the world at large. The overall security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated considerably. The year 2010 has been the deadliest since the occupation of the country by foreign forces. While the insurgency continues unabated, elections to the lower house were held last month, which is a step in the right direction. It can strengthen President Karzai provided those supporting peace efforts are elected to parliament. If those who prefer the status quo or oppose the peace process are elected, it will make Karzai's efforts much more difficult.
As far as the international partners in the war on terror are concerned, one can see the unease, particularly amongst the European countries, due to the public resentment against an "open-ended" military presence in Afghanistan.
The growing realisation that the war is not winnable militarily forces them to activate the tracks for reconciliation within Afghanistan. They seem to have realised that Pakistan's role in finding a peaceful solution to the problem is not only important but crucial.
Pakistan has suffered most of all – but what has it gained in return? Its losses in terms of men and material are far more than those of the US and NATO. Its economy is nosediving and is now dependant entirely on foreign help. Foreign investment has stopped and capital outflow is on the rise. Inflation is sky-high, corruption is rampant, institutions stand destroyed and accountability is a closed chapter. Relations with the neighbours are not as cordial and the trust deficit with the West is widening.
In his book 'Obama's Wars', Bob Woodward has quoted Mike McConnell, the former US national intelligence director as having said that Pakistan is a dishonest partner, unwilling or unable to stop elements of its intelligence service from giving clandestine aid, weapons and money to the Afghan Taliban. On the one hand the US lauds Pakistan for playing a vital role in the war on terror and on the other it accuses Pakistan of helping the Taliban.
The US says it wants to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans but at the same time it does not hesitate in using force to force opponents to agree to its terms and conditions. Washington needs to reconsider its policy options. It should avoid setting conditions on the future dispensation that is to emerge in that country and stop changing goal posts or having double standards - if it wants to attain peace in Afghanistan. The readers would recall that during the Taliban period the US insisted on the formation of a broad-based government but the same principle was thrown to the winds in the Bonn Accord when an extremely narrow-based government was installed in Kabul. Similarly while it castigates Pakistan for not carrying out a harsh military offensive against Haqqani elements, it has quietly opened up lines of communication with that faction, according to Guardian.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a recent piece in Newsweek explaining the critical importance of Pakistan for US Afghan campaign:

The events of the past week make clear why the United States has been so solicitous. After a U.S. helicopter attack across the border killed two Pakistani soldiers at a frontier outpost, Islamabad shut down one of the main crossings into Afghanistan in protest. Three quarters of nonlethal supplies intended for Coalition troops in Afghanistan travel through Pakistan. The crossing point quickly clogged with trucks that couldn’t pass, making them easy targets. Militants torched more than 100 fuel tankers as Pakistani authorities largely stood aside and watched.

Impeding supply routes is not the strongest leverage Pakistan can bring to bear. The high-tech drone war that has eviscerated Al Qaeda’s ranks—killing 17 commanders in the last nine months—is run out of Pakistan and is largely dependent on Pakistani intelligence for targeting. Islamabad publicly denies any role in the Predator strikes, and loudly protests the collateral damage when civilians are killed. But it hasn’t grounded the CIA’s drones—so far.

America’s forbearance, though, is waning. In a report sent to Congress on Oct. 4, the Obama administration admitted that “the Pakistan military [has] continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or Al Qaeda forces in North Waziristan.” There is a reason for this—a “political choice,” as the report says. The Pakistani military has long tolerated Afghan insurgents like the Haqqanis, who direct their attacks into Afghanistan only. Those groups—which include the Quetta Shura, led by the one-eyed Mullah Mohammed Omar—are Islamabad’s insurance policy, agents who are meant to look after Pakistani interests when the United States eventually withdraws the bulk of its forces from the region. (Pakistan vehemently denies supporting any militant groups.)

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a Dawn report on Pakistan's dissatisfaction with KLB follow-up:

ISLAMABAD: In the run-up to the third round of strategic dialogue, Pakistani authorities are getting irritated over the lack of US interest in resolving the country’s long-term regional issues and in providing economic support despite publicly declaring it a key ally in the war on terror and appreciating its sacrifices.

The authorities are also dissatisfied with the ‘triple accounting’ by the United States of its economic assistance to Pakistan, although the overall assistance remained less than $1.5 billion in a year. They also grumble that Pakistan has not been given market access for its products they believe it deserves in comparison to other countries.

“Since our engagement with US after 9/11 about more than nine years ago, the United States has made wide-ranging trading arrangements with Latin American countries, African nations and even some states in the Middle East but greater market access to Pakistan still remains far off,” said a government official.

Officials said that these were some of the issues Pakistani delegation led by Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani would raise again with the US authorities as part of the Pakistan-US strategic dialogue to be held in Washington next week.

“The US actions and assurances do not match when it comes to Pakistan’s role and returns it should get,” the official said.

In background discussions, the official said the US leadership never missed an opportunity to assure Islamabad how central they considered a stable Pakistan to achieve global and regional peace and yet they looked the other way when the government discussed US role in resolving a ‘proxy water war launched by India’ besides the longstanding Kashmir issue that was the key to regional stability.

They said India had launched a full-scale water aggression against Pakistan by initiating a number of controversial projects on rivers allocated to Pakistan under the 1960 waters treaty.

Pakistan wanted the US to play its role in addressing its concerns, they said.

They said these irritants had repeatedly been discussed with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s special envoy Richard Holbrooke but without any tangible progress beyond diplomatic pleasantries. They, however, agree that the US has moved in appreciating Pakistan’s concerns relating to the Afghan situation.

Sources said the United States had committed to provide $7.5 billion assistance in five years to Islamabad under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act at the rate of $1.5 billion in a year.

As part of Friends of Democratic Pakistan, the United States had assured last year to help Pakistan overcome its economic problems by offering more assistance but “when we got back to the US authorities for follow up, we realised that its pledges at FoDP were part of its earlier commitments made under the KLB Act”.

The flood-related US support, the sources said, also came under the KLB amount of $1.5 billion a year.

Anonymous said...

What do you think?

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an Op Ed by NY Times Columnist Nicholas Kristoff:

A visitor to Afghanistan who ventures outside the American security bubble sees pretty quickly that President Obama’s decision to triple the number of troops in Afghanistan has resulted, with some exceptions, mostly in more dead Americans and Afghans alike.

So what can we do instead? Some useful guidance comes from the man whom Afghans refer to as “Dr. Greg” — Greg Mortenson, an American who runs around in Afghan clothing building schools, as chronicled in the best-selling book “Three Cups of Tea.”

The conventional wisdom is that education and development are impossible in insecure parts of Afghanistan that the Taliban control. That view is wrong.

An organization set up by Mr. Mortenson and a number of others are showing that it is quite possible to run schools in Taliban-controlled areas. I visited some of Mr. Mortenson’s schools, literacy centers and vocational training centers, and they survive the Taliban not because of military protection (which they eschew) but because local people feel “ownership” rather than “occupation.”

“Aid can be done anywhere, including where Taliban are,” Mr. Mortenson said. “But it’s imperative the elders are consulted, and that the development staff is all local, with no foreigners.”

In volatile Kunar Province, which borders Pakistan, the Taliban recently ordered a halt to a school being built by Mr. Mortenson’s organization, the Central Asia Institute. But the villagers rushed to the school’s defense. The Taliban, which have been mounting a campaign for hearts and minds, dropped the issue, according to Wakil Karimi, who leads Mr. Mortenson’s team in Afghanistan.

In another part of Kunar Province, the Central Asia Institute is running a girls’ primary school and middle school in the heart of a Taliban-controlled area. Some of the girls are 17 or 18, which is particularly problematic for fundamentalists (who don’t always mind girls getting an education as long as they drop out by puberty). Yet this school is expanding, and now has 320 girls, Mr. Karimi said.

It survives because it is run by the imam of the mosque, and he overcomes Taliban protests by framing it as a madrassa, not a school. That seems less alien to fundamentalists and gives them a face-saving excuse to look the other way.

In Uruzgan Province, Mr. Mortenson and Mr. Karimi are beginning to pay imams to hold classes for girls in their mosques. That puts a divine stamp on girls’ education.
Government schools regularly get burned down, but villagers tell me that that’s because they’re seen as alien institutions built by outside construction crews. In contrast, CARE runs 300 schools in Afghanistan and not one has been burned down, the aid organization says. The Afghan Institute of Learning, run by a redoubtable Afghan woman named Sakena Yacoobi, has supported more than 300 schools and none have been burned, the institute says. Another great aid organization, BRAC, runs schools, clinics and microfinance programs — and operates in every single province in Afghanistan.

Then there’s the Global Partnership for Afghanistan, which is based in New York and helps Afghan villagers improve agricultural yields in the most unstable parts of the country. Some Taliban commanders have even sent word inviting the group into their areas.

Mr. Mortenson says that $243 million is needed to fund all higher education in Afghanistan this year. He suggests that America hold a press conference here in Kabul and put just 243 of our 100,000 soldiers (each costing $1 million per year) on planes home. Then the U.S. could take the savings and hand over a check to pay for Afghanistan’s universities.

Is this talk of schools and development na├»ve? Military power is essential, but it’s limited in what it can achieve. There’s abundant evidence that while bombs harden hearts, schooling, over time, can transform them. That’s just being pragmatic.

Riaz Haq said...

The former leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, has warned Nato that victory in Afghanistan is "impossible", according to a BBC report.

Mr Gorbachev said that the US had no alternative but to withdraw its forces if it wanted to avoid another Vietnam.

As Soviet leader, he pulled his troops out of Afghanistan more than 20 years ago after a 10-year war.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said troops would not be withdrawn from the country until their "very difficult" work was complete.

In an interview with the BBC's Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg, Mr Gorbachev praised President Barack Obama for his decision to begin withdrawing troops next year, but said the US would struggle to get out of the situation.

"Victory is impossible in Afghanistan. Obama is right to pull the troops out. No matter how difficult it will be," Mr Gorbachev said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a BBC report today about the British Army Chief Gen Richards' pessimistic assessment of Afghanistan:

The West can only contain, not defeat, militant groups such as al-Qaeda, the head of the UK's armed forces has said.

General Sir David Richards, a former Nato commander in Afghanistan, said Islamist militancy would pose a threat to the UK for at least 30 years.

But he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show a clear-cut victory over militants was not achievable.

The BBC's Frank Gardner said the comments reflect a "new realism" in UK and US counter-terrorism circles.

Our security correspondent said such an admission five years ago might have been considered outrageous and defeatist....
Britain has lost 343 soldiers in Afghanistan since 2001.

But Gen Richards told the BBC it was not possible to defeat the Taliban or al-Qaeda militarily.

"You can't. We've all said this. David Petraeus has said it, I've said it.

"The trick is the balance of things that you're doing and I say that the military are just about, you know, there.

"The biggest problem's been ensuring that the governance and all the development side can keep up with it within a time frame and these things take generations sometimes within a time frame that is acceptable to domestic, public and political opinion," he said.

He said extremist Islamism could not be eradicated as an idea.

"I don't think you can probably defeat an idea, it's something we need to battle back against as necessary, but in its milder forms why shouldn't they be allowed to have that sort of philosophy underpinning their lives.

"It's how it manifests itself that is the key and can we contain that manifestation - and quite clearly al-Qaeda is an unacceptable manifestation of it," he said.

Riaz Haq said...

British Prime Minister David Cameron, now on a visit to Pakistan, has offered about $1 billion in aid for education, according to Financial Times:

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David Cameron offered Pakistan’s leaders up to £650m ($1,055m) of aid for schools and heaped praise on their “huge fight” against terrorism in a diplomatic gamble to end years of mutual mistrust with a gesture of goodwill.

During a confidence-building visit to Islamabad with an entourage of his most senior security advisers, Mr Cameron jettisoned the usual list of UK demands and instead gave Pakistan the benefit of the doubt over Afghanistan and its support for militant groups.

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Such optimism over Islamabad’s intentions marks a big break in British diplomacy, making a stark contrast with Mr Cameron’s description of Pakistan “looking both ways” on terrorism, a remark that triggered a serious diplomatic incident last year.

Rather than regarding Pakistan as a country that “can do more”, particularly on curbing Taliban activities, the British assumption is now that Islamabad’s security agencies have limited control over militant groups they once helped to create.

The big test for Mr Cameron is whether his expression of trust can generate better results than the more transactional approach adopted in the past. British officials say they are already seeing tangible improvements in intelligence co-operation and a greater willingness to discuss a political peace deal in Afghanistan.

Mr Cameron sought to demonstrate the breadth of the new partnership by offering funds for up to 4m school places by 2015. “I struggle to find a country that’s more in our interest to progress and succeed than Pakistan,” Mr Cameron said after a meeting with Yusuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s prime minister.

“If Pakistan succeeds then we will have a good story ... if it fails we will have all the problems of migration and extremism, all the problems.”

The package of up to £650m, which more than doubles previous education funding, forms part of an aid programme that is set to become Britain’s biggest.
The centrepiece of Mr Cameron’s visit was a security round-table with Pakistan’s civilian leadership and General Ashfaq Kayani, its military chief. Sir John Sawers, head of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, and General Sir David Richards, chief of the defence staff, also attended, in their second visit to Islamabad in less than a month.

Mr Gilani later brushed aside questions over Pakistan’s willingness to combat terrorism. “We’ve the ability and we have the resolve and we are fighting and we’ve paid a very heavy price for that,” he said, citing the 30,000 casualties in Pakistan’s effort to quell an internal insurgency.

One senior Pakistani government official speaking after Mr Cameron’s meetings said closer security ties would take some more time to develop. “Clearly, the UK wants Pakistan to extend help to combat militant plots on British soil,” he said. “But the UK will also need to be much more forthcoming on helping Pakistan to go after members of its own militant groups from places like Baluchistan who have taken refuge in Britain.”

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's president has finally realized and stated that US presence in Afghanistan is destabilizing Pakistan in an interview with the the Guardian newspaper:

"Just as the Mexican drug war on US borders makes a difference to Texas and American society, we are talking about a war on our border which is obviously having a huge effect. Only today a suicide bomber has attacked a police compound in Baluchistan. I think it [the Afghan war] has an effect on the entire region, and specially our country," Zardari said.

Asked about harsh criticism of Pakistan's co-operation in the "war on terror" published in a White House report last week, Zardari said Pakistan always listened to Washington's views. But he suggested some members of Congress and the US media did not know what they were talking about when it came to Pakistan.

"The United States has been an ally of Pakistan for the last 60 years. We respect and appreciate their political system. So every time a new parliament comes in, new boys come in, new representatives come in, it takes them time to understand the international situation. Not Obama, but the Congress, interest groups and the media get affected by 'deadline-itis' [over ending the Afghan war]," Zardari said.

"I think it is maybe 12 years since America has become engaged in Afghanistan and obviously everybody's patience is on edge, especially the American public, which is looking for answers. There are no short-term answers and it is very difficult to make the American taxpayer understand."
"Our emphasis has been on security rather than our commerce and we need commerce for our survival.

"We have all the gas in the world waiting to go through to markets in India and the Red Sea but it cannot be brought in until Afghanistan is settled. So Afghanistan is a growth issue for us. I think most of the time, the quantification of the effect of the war is not calculated [by the US].
According to senior intelligence officials, the "war on terror" has cost the Pakistani economy approximately $68bn (£42bn) since 2001.

More than 33,300 Pakistani civilians and military personnel have been killed or seriously injured. Last year's record-breaking floods added to the strain on the economy.

Zardari said the security situation was also undercutting efforts to strengthen democratic institutions bypassed or overturned during the military rule of his predecessor, General Pervez Musharraf. "Democracy is evolving. It's a new democracy. It takes time to bring institutions back. Destroying institutions during a decade of dictatorial regime is easy ... So there is a political impact as well as an economic impact."

Pakistani officials say relations with the US reached a "low ebb" following the recent row over Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who shot dead two Pakistanis; a CIA drone attack in Pakistan's tribal areas last month that accidentally killed dozens of civilian elders meeting in a jirga (council), and Pakistan's suspicions that it is being excluded from discussions about an Afghan peace deal.

Zardari, who is expected to visit Washington next month, said he would ask Obama to share drone technology with Pakistan so future attacks could be planned and directed under a "Pakistani flag". Although this request had been turned down in the past, he said he was hopeful the Americans would be more receptive this time, given the huge anger and rising anti-American feeling that the drone attacks were causing.

Zardari and other senior government officials said all parties felt a sense of growing urgency about forging an inclusive peace settlement in Afghanistan, but the process must be "Afghan-led". Pakistan was ready to play its part, consistent with its national interest, they said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report quoting Pakistan Human Rights Commission claiming 2500 deaths in militant violence in 2010:

More than 2,500 people were killed in militant attacks in Pakistan in 2010, according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

Nearly half of victims were civilians killed in suicide blasts. There were 67 such attacks last year, the group said.

The report also said at least 900 people had been killed in US drone strikes during the same period.

The number of people killed by the army is not mentioned, but it estimated to be in the region of 600-700.

Pakistani troops are battling insurgents across the north-west. Many of those it has killed are believed to be militants, but civilian lives have been lost too.

The HRCP is the main human rights watchdog in the country. Its findings are often disputed by the authorities, the BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Karachi says.

The group's findings show a rise in the numbers being killed in Pakistan's conflict.

BBC research published last July suggested 1,713 people had been killed by militants over the preceding 18 months, while 746 people had died in drone attacks during the same period.
'Increasing intolerance'

The HRCP released its data in its annual report on the state of human rights and security in Pakistan between January and December 2010.

"Pakistan's biggest problem continues to be violence carried out militants," HRCP chairman Mehdi Hasan said.

"In 2010, 67 suicide attacks were carried out across the country in which 1,169 people were killed," he said. "At least 1,000 of those were civilians."

Dr Hasan said that in all 2,542 people had been killed in militant attacks in the country last year.

He said the most glaring example of government oversight had been in Balochistan province, where targeted killings shot up rapidly with 118 people being killed in 2010.

Dr Hasan said the figure was set to increase in 2011, as the government seemed unconcerned about the unravelling of the law and order situation in Balochistan.

The HRCP report also spoke about increasing intolerance against religious minorities in the country.

It said 99 members of the Ahmedi (Qadiani) sect had been killed in attacks in 2010, while 64 people had been charged under the country's blasphemy law.

There was no immediate response to the report from the Pakistani authorities, nor was there any word from militant groups.

Riaz Haq said...

Reps. Price, Schiff, Omar Lead Members of Congress in Calling for Immediate Closure of Guantanamo Bay
August 5, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC (August 5, 2021) – On Wednesday, Congressman David Price (D-NC), Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) delivered a letter, signed by 75 Members of Congress, to President Biden calling for the immediate closure of the prison at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.

Closing the facility has been a long-stated goal for the U.S. government. During his 2008 campaign, former President Obama promised to permanently close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Yet at the time of his departure from office in 2017, the prison held 55 detainees. Today, the Guantanamo Bay detention facility is in increasing disrepair as its infrastructure deteriorates, posing an imminent health and safety risks to prisoners and guards alike. On February 12, 2021, the Biden administration launched a formal review of the prison at Guantanamo Bay with the intention of ultimately closing the facility. On July 19, 2021, the Biden administration transferred its first detainee out of the Guantanamo Bay prison, who had previously been recommended for transfer in 2016, but continued to be held under the Trump administration.

“The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has been a stain on our country's credibility and international standing, and with only 39 remaining detainees, the exorbitant cost and unworkable commission process are simply unsustainable,” said Congressman David Price. “Even in our darkest moments, we must always uphold core American values, including respect for the rule of law, due process, and human rights. It is time we work together to finally close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.”


We write in strong support of your stated goal to close the prison at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.  We share your belief that after nearly two decades and tremendous expense, it is time to close the prison and seek prompt resolutions for the cases of the remaining detainees.  We ask that as you take the steps necessary to finally close the prison, you act immediately to further reduce its population, ensure that the remaining detainees are treated humanely, and increase the transparency of military commission proceedings at the Guantanamo detention facility.

The prison at Guantanamo has held nearly 800 prisoners throughout its history but currently holds only 39 men, many aging and increasingly infirm. According to reports, the prison costs over $500 million per year to operate, at a staggering annual cost of $13 million per prisoner, over 350 times the cost of incarcerating a prisoner at a maximum-security facility in the United States.  And after nearly two decades, and numerous efforts at reform, the military commission process remains dysfunctional.