General David Petraeus, former CIA director and commander of US troops in Afghanistan, has said there is no evidence of Pakistan playing a double game and supporting terrorists in Afghanistan. Petraeus' remarks are now particularly significant given the fact that he is on a short list of President-Elect Donald Trump's nominees for Secretary of State. He was answering a question posed to him at a presentation at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a British security think tank based in London.
The question was asked by a female Afghan Ph.D. student at the end of remarks by the general on "Security Challenges Facing the Next US Administration". Here's the question:
"General you have stated that democracies can not win long wars (General Petraeus interrupted and said he did not say that and added "in fact I take issue with that" as the student continued). Afghanistan is now US's longest war. What stops the US to win the long war..whether Pakistan intelligence is the cause of the long war? Why does the US not take action against the Pakistan ISI which continues killing and supporting terrorists?"
General David H. Petraeus's response:
Here's part of Gen Petraeus' response: "I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again as CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA).... I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions (as US commander and CIA director)".
Gen Petraeus did acknowledge that "there's communication between the ISI and various militant groups in FATA and Balochistan (Haqqanis, Taliban, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, etc) but some of it you'd do anyway as an intelligence service." He added that "there may be some degree of accommodation that is forced on them (Pakistanis) because of the limits of their (Pakistan's) forces."
On the question of the nature of US-Pakistan relations and Washington's influence in Islamabad, General Petraeus said:
"Some people say Pakistan is a frenemy...it is just very very difficult to pin down (blame on Pakistan) and it's even more difficult to figure out how to exert leverage that in a meaningful way resolves the issue. There was a period when we cut off all assistance and ties (to Pakistan) and held up F-16s that we were supposed to deliver for a while and that did not help our influence there (in Pakistan). It's a very very tough situation and it may be among the top two or three challenges for the new administration right up there with Syria".
General Petraeus acknowledged Pakistan's cooperation and sacrifices in fighting terror in the following words:
“Pakistan Army suffered casualties and had limited Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities though the US did try to help and there existed enormous amount of cooperation between the two militaries. However, the unfortunate episodes of Raymond Davis and publications of book by Bob Woodward and WikiLeaks did impact negatively on this cooperation”.
General David H. Petraeus has thoroughly debunked intense and ongoing media propaganda campaign of allegations of duplicity against Pakistan Army and ISI. He has also ruled out cutting ties with Pakistan as an option. His recommendations have now assumed added significance because he is now on a short list of President-Elect Trump's nominees for secretary of state.
Here's the video of General Petraeus at RUSI. His remarks on Pakistan are in the last 8 minutes of the video:
Brief 1-minute clip:
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I didn't know Gen. Petraeus was on President-Elect Trump's short list for Secretary of State. I thought the short list had only three names on it: Bolton, Giuliani and Romney. The last is looking more and more unlikely, according to what I heard on TV this morning. The first two scare the hell out of me!
Ahsan: "I didn't know Gen. Petraeus was on President-Elect Trump's short list for Secretary of State. I thought the short list had only three names on it: Bolton, Giuliani and Romney. The last is looking more and more unlikely, according to what I heard on TV this morning. The first two scare the hell out of me!"
Here's the latest from Washington Post: Trump to meet with Petraeus, Romney as secretary of state battle heats up
President-elect Donald Trump will meet Monday with retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, a possible alternative choice for secretary of state amid an escalating feud over the position between supporters of former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who will sit down with Trump on Tuesday.
Thank you for posting General Petraeus' comments. Given the nature, significance and impact of this statement, are you surprised that this has not received any coverage on MSM (mainstream media), social media or generated/provoked a response from official Pakistan channels? Welcome your insights as to why you think this may be the case. MBK.
MBK: "Given the nature, significance and impact of this statement, are you surprised that this has not received any coverage on MSM (mainstream media), social media or generated/provoked a response from official Pakistan channels? Welcome your insights as to why you think this may be the case. MBK. "
It was reported by The News which is part of Pakistan's largest media group Jang.
But it was not picked up by other media, particularly the western media.
It seems to me that the media doesn't report what it doesn't like. In this case, the media doesn't like Gen Petraeus' remarks because he is highly critical of the journalists' reporting about Afghanistan when he says " "I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again as CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA).... I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions (as US commander and CIA director)".
The general has essentially undermined the entire premise of the media narrative about the alleged complicity of Pakistani military and ISI in supporting militancy in Afghanistan.
Dangerous Doval Doctrine: #Balochistan vs #Kashmir | Frontline. #India #Pakistan #Modi #BJP http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/balochistan-vs-kashmir/article9373742.ece …
The pursuit of a tit-for-tat diplomacy will not get India anywhere because Balochistan and Kashmir are not on a par, legally and politically. The time has come for India to drop the Baloch card and work for the settlement of Kashmir. By A.G. NOORANI
“PAKISTAN’s vulnerabilities are many times higher than us [sic]. Once they know that India has shifted gear from defensive mode to defensive-offence, they will find that it is unaffordable for them. You may do one Mumbai, you may lose Balochistan,” Ajit Doval, now Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s National Security Adviser, said at the 10th Nani Palkhivala Memorial Lecture at Sastra University, Thanjavur, on February 21, 2014. This was three months before he became NSA and the Manmohan Singh government was still in power.
The shock this Doval Doctrine of “defensive-offence” induced precluded any cool analysis of its implications (see the writer’s “The Doval doctrine”, Frontline, November 13, 2015). Doval was advocating a diplomacy of tit for tat with full knowledge of the perils it entailed, not least among them being the risk of matters getting out of hand in the retaliatory ladder of escalation. This becomes apparent when one moves from the doctrine to the specific, Balochistan.
Whoever perpetrated the Mumbai attacks committed a dastardly crime. But at no time did India ever allege that Pakistan’s top leaders were complicit in it. Is it not a wholly disproportionate retaliation to secure the detachment of one of Pakistan’s four provinces? Would its leaders, civil and military, sit back with folded hands when this is being attempted? And the Great Powers in the “Security Council”, especially China, which now has a stake in Balolchistan? And, pray, how does Doval propose to detach Balochistan? By military invasion? Far from it. Our “intelligence commando” has other plans whose elements are no secret. He proposes to do this by fomenting subversion through covert action. He could not possibly have made the claim (“you may lose Balochistan”) unless India had acquired significant “assets” there—as they are called in the idiom of covert operations—over the years. They cannot be acquired instantly. It is these existing assets, acquired, trained and funded over the years, which emboldened Doval to speak as confidently as he did.
#NawazSharif is a terrific guy, #Pakistan is an amazing country with tremendous opportunities: Donald #Trump https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/headline/pm-nawaz-felicitates-donald-trump-over-his-victory/ ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif telephoned US President-elect Donald Trump and felicitated him on his victory.
During the telephonic conversation, Donald Trump said he is ready to play any role that Pakistan wants him to do to find solutions to the problems. He said it will be an honour and he will personally do it.
Donald Trump said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has a very good reputation, and he is doing amazing work, which is visible in every way. He is looking forward to meet the Prime Minister soon.
He said Pakistan is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people.
On being invited to visit Pakistan by the Prime Minister, the US president-elect said he would love to visit the fantastic country, a fantastic place of fantastic people.
#Trump to #Pakistan PM: "You're a terrific guy" "#Pakistanis are amazing, most intelligent and exceptional people” http://time.com/4586503/donald-trump-pakistan-prime-minister-readout-nawaz-sharif/
The full readout of the call, according to the Pakistani government, is below. Trump’s transition team has not released a readout.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif called President-elect USA Donald Trump and felicitated him on his victory. President Trump said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif you have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As I am talking to you Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honor and I will personally do it. Feel free to call me any time even before 20th January that is before I assume my office.
On being invited to visit Pakistan by the Prime Minister, Mr. Trump said that he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people. Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people, said Mr. Donald Trump.
US State Dept Archive 1969-1972:
"Nixon: But these Indians are cowards. Right?
Kissinger: Right. But with Russian backing. You see, the Russians have sent notes to Iran, Turkey, to a lot of countries threatening them. The Russians have played a miserable game."
"Nixon: And what do we do? Here they are raping and murdering, and they talk about West Pakistan, these Indians are pretty vicious in there, aren’t they?
Nixon: Aren’t they killing a lot of these people?
Kissinger: Well, we don’t know the facts yet. But I’m sure [unclear] that they’re not as stupid as the West Pakistanis—they don’t let the press in. The idiot Paks have the press all over their place.
Nixon: Well, the Indians did, oh yes. They brought them in, had pictures of spare tanks and all the rest. Brilliant. Brilliant public relations.
Kissinger: Yeah, but they don’t let them in where the civilians are.
Nixon: Oh, I know. But they let them in to take the good shots. The poor, damn Paks don’t let them in at all.
Kissinger: Or into the wrong places.
Kissinger: The Paks just don’t have the subtlety of the Indians.
Nixon: Well, they don’t lie. The Indians lie. Incidentally, did Irwin carry out my order to call in the Indian Ambassador?
Kissinger: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
CNN's Peter Bergen's opinion on whether Pakistani official knew of Bin Laden's presence in Abottabad:
The bin Laden story in the New York Times magazine is an extract from (Caroltta) Gall's forthcoming book, "The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014."
Gall makes two astonishing claims in her Times magazine piece.
The first claim: An unnamed Pakistani official told her, based on what he had in turn heard from an unnamed senior U.S. official that "the United States had direct evidence that the ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, knew of bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad." ISI is Pakistan's powerful military intelligence agency.
The second claim: "The ISI actually ran a special desk assigned to handle bin Laden. It was operated independently, led by an officer who made his own decisions and did not report to a superior. He handled only one person: bin Laden...the top military bosses knew about it, I was told."
It is, of course, hard to prove negatives, but having spent around a year reporting intensively on the hunt for al Qaeda's leader for my 2012 book "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden From 9/11 to Abbottabad," I am convinced that there is no evidence that anyone in the Pakistani government, military or intelligence agencies knowingly sheltered bin Laden.
How did I arrive at this conclusion?
On three reporting trips to Pakistan I spoke to senior officials in Pakistan's military and intelligence service. They all denied that they had secretly harbored bin Laden. OK, you are thinking: "But they would say that, wouldn't they?"
Well, what about the dozens of officials I spoke to in the U.S. intelligence community, Pentagon, State Department and the White House who also told me versions of "the Pakistanis had no idea that bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad"?
During the course of reporting for my book I spoke on the record to, among others, John Brennan, now the CIA director and then President Obama's top counterterrorism adviser; then CIA Director Leon Panetta and his chief of staff, Jeremy Bash; then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen; then Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. James Cartwright; then director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter; then senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, Nick Rasmussen; then head of policy at the Pentagon, Michele Flournoy; Michael Vickers, who was then the civilian overseer of Special Operations at the Pentagon; Tony Blinken, who is now the deputy national security adviser; and Denis McDonough, who held that position before Blinken.
These officials have collectively spent many decades working to destroy al Qaeda, and many are deeply suspicious of Pakistan for its continuing support for elements of the Taliban. But all of them told me in one form or another that Pakistani officials had no clue that bin Laden was living in Abbottabad.
Indeed, an early debate between senior national security officials at the White House, once CIA intelligence established that bin Laden could be hiding in Abbottabad, was whether to mount a joint U.S.-Pakistani raid on bin Laden's suspected hideout.
This plan was rejected because the officials were concerned that such a joint operation carried the risk that word would leak out about the bin Laden intelligence. This debate would have been moot if the Pakistanis already knew bin Laden was living in Abbottabad.
And, by the way, if the U.S. government had any evidence that the Pakistanis were knowingly sheltering bin Laden, as Gall claims, why cover this up?
#US defence bill passed by Congress pledges $900 million economic military aid to #Pakistan in 2017 http://toi.in/ebPBVY via @TOIWorld
The US House of Representatives has passed a defence bill that pledges $900 million in economic and other assistance to Pakistan, a significant portion of which is dependent of a Pentagon certification that the country is taking demonstrable steps against the dreaded Haqqani Network.
The US National Defence Authorisation Act for fiscal year 2017 was passed in the House of Representatives yesterday.
The bill limits the overall amount available for reimbursement to $1.1 billion, of which $900 million is available for reimbursement to Pakistan.
It extends Congressional notification and certification requirements regarding reimbursements to Pakistan. The bill specifies that certain reimbursements to Pakistan are ineligible for a national security waiver unless Department of Defense makes specified certifications regarding the activities of Pakistan with respect to the Haqqani Network.
According to Dawn newspaper, the bill conditions $450 million from this assistance to a certification.
This year the amount was $300 million, which was not released after Defence Secretary Ashton Carter refused to certify in Pakistan's favour.
The bill is schedule for a vote in the Senate next week. Since it is a consensus bill, it is unlikely to face any opposition.
The bill notes that "the United States and Pakistan continue to have many critical shared interests, both economic- and security-related, which could be the foundation for a positive and mutually beneficial partnership."
In a conference report, which combines the House and Senate versions of a legislation, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain had underlined the importance of a continued relationship between the United States and Pakistan.
He noted that the bill "refocuses security assistance to Pakistan on activities that directly support US national security interests".
US Commander Worries About Aid Taliban Receives From Pakistan, Russia, Iran
The “malign influence” of Pakistan, Russia and Iran with the Taliban-led insurgency, and concerns about future political stability of the Afghan government threaten international efforts aimed at stabilizing the war-raved country, warns a top U.S. commander.
“We’re concerned about the external enablement of the insurgent or terrorist groups inside Afghanistan; in particular where they enjoy sanctuary or support from outside governments,” said General John Nicholson, leader of NATO’s Resolute Support Afghan mission.
He told reporters at the Pentagon Friday, the Haqqani Network of terrorists, which is fighting alongside the Taliban, still poses the greatest threat to Americans, coalition and Afghan partners from its sanctuary in neighboring Pakistan.
“And the Haqqanis hold five American citizens hostage right now,” Nicholson said. “I think this is worth remembering as we think about the Haqqani Network. And they remain a principal concern of ours, and they do enjoy sanctuary inside Pakistan.”
Pakistani officials, however, insist their security forces have uprooted any infrastructure Taliban insurgents and their allies were using for cross-border attacks, and extensive efforts are being undertaken to secure the porous Afghan border.
Nicholson raised concern about Taliban insurgents’ links to Russia and Iran, saying they are not advancing the cause of stability in the region.
Moscow is allegedly helping and arming the Taliban in a bid to contain the influence of Islamic State affiliates in Afghanistan and prevent it from threatening neighboring central Asian states.
Speaking at a U.N. General Assembly session late last month in New York, Russian envoy Vladimir Safronkov even called for easing U.N. sanctions on the Taliban for promoting peace talks between warring sides.
“So, Russia has overtly lent legitimacy to the Taliban,” Nicholson said.
But he dismissed assertions about the Taliban’s successes against rival IS fighters. Instead, he said, Afghan forces and the U.S. counterterrorism effort are the ones taking on and “achieving the greatest effect” against loyalists of the Middle Eastern terrorist group in Afghanistan.
“So, this public legitimacy that Russia lends to the Taliban is not based on fact, but it is used as a way to essentially undermine the Afghan government and the NATO effort and bolster the belligerents,” Nicholson added.
Iran and Taliban
The general suggested Shi’ite Iran maintains contacts and influence with the Taliban for similar reasons. He said Afghan officials have engaged both Iranian and Russian governments over the issue.
“We’re hopeful — speaking now as commander Resolute Support — that these outside actors will act in a positive way, so we can work together to help bolster the capability and legitimacy of the Afghan government, not the belligerents,” Nicholson said.
#Russia rejects #Indian, #Afghan criticism on #Pakistan. #HeartofAsia #Modi #India https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/169900-Russia-rejects-Indian-Afghan-criticism-on-Pakistan …
Says Heart of Asia Conference shouldn’t be used for point scoring; if Russia doesn’t complain about India-US cooperation, then why complain about Pak-Russia cooperation
AMRITSAR: Russia on Sunday lauded Pakistan's stance at the Heart of Asia conference and said the agenda of the conference has not been hijacked.
Addressing the Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar on Sunday, Russian envoy Zamir Kabulov rejected the Indian and Afghan criticism on Pakistan and said that Sartaj Aziz's speech at the conference was friendly and constructive. He said it is wrong to criticise Pakistan.
The Russian envoy said that Afghanistan is the pivot of Heart of Asia conference and the agenda of the conference has not been hijacked. He said being friends and supporters, we should avoid the blame game and work together.He said all parties involved in the war-torn country's reconstruction must work together and that the Heart of Asia was not the platform for India and Pakistan to score brownie points.
Downplaying Russia's military exercise with Pakistan held two months ago, Zamir Kabulov, who overseas Russia's engagement in Afghanistan, referred to India's increasing cooperation with the US.
“The HoA should not be used by India and Pakistan for scoring points,” he told reporters. He said bilateral issues should not cloud forums like the Heart of Asia.
Kabulov represented Russia in the Heart of Asia conference where he articulated Moscow's position on Afghanistan's transition. He said all the major players must extend all possible support to Afghanistan in its transition.
“India has close cooperation with the US, does Moscow complain? Then why complain about much lower level of cooperation with Pakistan,” he asked when referred to the Russia-Pakistan military exercise.
India has a strategic partnership with Afghanistan and is implementing projects worth $2 billion to help rebuild the country's infrastructure. The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was launched in 2011 and the participating countries include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.
#Kashmir: Can #Trump solve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts? VP-Elect Pence says YES. http://qz.com/852853 via @qzindia
On NBC News’ Meet The Press on Dec. 04, Pence was pressed by journalist Chuck Todd on the incoming Trump administration’s stance on Pakistan. Here’s a transcript of the conversation:
Chuck Todd: So let me jump to Pakistan. The Pakistan prime minister on Thursday, here is the headline in the front page of the international news in Karachi, “Trump says ready to play role in resolution of issues.” So let me ask you, is he offering to mediate border disputes? The pri– I guess Pakistan wanted to imply that, that he was offering to mediate border disputes between Pakistan and India. Is that what he was trying to say?
Mike Pence: Well, clearly there’s been great tension between India and Pakistan in recent days. It’s resulted in violence along the Kashmir region. And I think what the president-elect expressed in conversations with leaders on both countries was a desire for continued US engagement on building the relationship with both of those countries. These are two nuclear powers–
Pence: –the president-elect recognises that. And making sure that, that they know that when this administration takes office, that we intend to be fully engaged in the region and fully engaged with both nations to advance peace and security.
Todd: To be a mediator in deciding Kashmir?
Pence: Well, I think, I think, I think in president-elect Donald Trump you’ve got someone who, who is prepared to advance America’s interests here at home, to rebuild this economy, to fight for American jobs. But I think you’re also going to see an energetic leadership in the world, prepared to engage and to look for ways that he can bring those extraordinary deal-making skills to bear on lessening tensions and solving problems in the world.
#India's #Modi Quietly Okays #Balochistan Specialist's Appointment as Next #RAW Chief to Wage #Terror in #Pakistan http://defencenews.in/article.aspx?id=149455 …
From Indian Defense News dated Dec 5, 2016
Special Director of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) A K Dhasmana is likely to be appointed as the next chief of the country’s external intelligence agency. The 1981-batch Madhya Pradesh cadre IPS officer’s domain of expertise is considered to be Balochistan, counter-terrorism and Islamic affairs. He also has a vast experience on Pakistan and Afghanistan. He has served in key capitals, including London and Frankfurt and has also handled SAARC and Europe desks. The post of the RAW chief is falling vacant on January 31, 2017, with the incumbent retiring after a two-year stint. The RAW chief has a fixed tenure of two years unless the government extends the service length or the appointee. Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Special Director A K Dhasmana is likely to be appointed as the next chief of the country’s external intelligence agency.
Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Special Director A K Dhasmana is likely to be appointed as the next chief of the country’s external intelligence agency. He is considered to be an expert in Balochistan affairs.
In his Independence Day speech this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, “I want to express my gratitude to the people of Balochistan, Gilgit and PoK for the way they whole-heartedly thanked me.... People of a distant land I haven’t even seen....When they thank the Indian PM, it’s an honour for the 125 crore people of the country...”
Implicit in the statement was a veiled threat to the Pak political and military leadership that India too can needle them for the state-sponsored atrocities in these areas held by Islamabad and target that country’s unity and integrity. The PM’s statement came in the backdrop of brazen Pak stance to dedicate its Independence Day to freedom of Kashmir and stoking violence in J&K following Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani’s death. This was the first time an Indian PM raised the Balochistan issue.
Dhasmana is also known to enjoy National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s confidence. He will replace present RAW chief Rajinder Khanna.
India has been pussyfooting on human rights violations in Balochistan though Pakistan has been exploiting the ‘K’ word to the hilt at different international fora.
Officials close to Dhasmana said he is a go-getter and has an extensive network in the region. Through his vast experience and elaborate asset base in the region, he was able to stall the construction of Gwadar port by about six years, a senior agency said.
Meanwhile, the race for the top post in another key covert agency Intelligence Bureau (IB) is also gaining pace with the tenure of current Director Dineshwar Sharma ending on December 31. Three contenders—Special Directors SK Sinha and Rajiv Jain and Mumbai Police Commissioner Dattatray Palsalgikar—are in the fray.
#Saudis Bankroll #Taliban, Even as King Officially Supports #Afghan Government
KABUL, Afghanistan — Fifteen years, half a trillion dollars and 150,000 lives since going to war, the United States is trying to extricate itself from Afghanistan. Afghans are being left to fight their own fight. A surging Taliban insurgency, meanwhile, is flush with a new inflow of money.
With their nation’s future at stake, Afghan leaders have renewed a plea to one power that may hold the key to whether their country can cling to democracy or succumbs to the Taliban. But that power is not the United States.
It is Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is critical because of its unique position in the Afghan conflict: It is on both sides.
A longtime ally of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has backed Islamabad’s promotion of the Taliban. Over the years, wealthy Saudi sheikhs and rich philanthropists have also stoked the war by privately financing the insurgents.
All the while, Saudi Arabia has officially, if coolly, supported the American mission and the Afghan government and even secretly sued for peace in clandestine negotiations on their behalf.
The contradictions are hardly accidental. Rather, they balance conflicting needs within the kingdom, pursued through both official policy and private initiative.
The dual tracks allow Saudi officials plausibly to deny official support for the Taliban, even as they have turned a blind eye to private funding of the Taliban and other hard-line Sunni groups.
The result is that the Saudis — through private or covert channels — have tacitly supported the Taliban in ways that make the kingdom an indispensable power broker.
In interviews with The New York Times, a former Taliban finance minister described how he traveled to Saudi Arabia for years raising cash while ostensibly on pilgrimage.
The Taliban have also been allowed to raise millions more by extorting “taxes” by pressing hundreds of thousands of Pashtun guest workers in the kingdom and menacing their families back home, said Vali Nasr, a former State Department adviser.
Yet even as private Saudi money backed the Taliban, Saudi intelligence once covertly mediated a peace effort that Taliban officials and others involved described in full to The Times for the first time.
Playing multiple sides of the same geopolitical equation is one way the Saudis further their own strategic interests, analysts and officials say.
But it also threatens to undermine the fragile democratic advances made by the United States in the past 15 years, and perhaps undo efforts to liberalize the country.
The United States now finds itself trying to persuade its putative ally to play a constructive rather than destructive role. Meanwhile, the Afghans have come to view Saudi Arabia as both friend and foe.
The question now, as Afghan officials look for help, is which Saudi Arabia will they get?
Prince Turki al-Faisal, who led the Saudi intelligence agency for over 24 years and later served as ambassador to the United States until his retirement in 2007, rejected any suggestion that Saudi Arabia had ever supported the Taliban.
“When I was in government, not a single penny went to the Taliban,” he wrote in emailed comments.
He added that the “stringent measures taken by the kingdom to prevent any transfer of money to terrorist groups” had been recognized by Daniel L. Glaser, the United States assistant secretary for terrorist financing at the Treasury, in testimony to Congress in June.
Others say the verdict is still out. “We know there has been this financing that has gone on for years,” Hanif Atmar, director of the Afghan National Security Council, said in an interview. “This sustains the terrorist war machine in Afghanistan and in the region, and it will have to be stopped.”
A top Pakistan Foreign Ministry official has said that “some” members of the terrorist Haqqani network are present in the country, but Islamabad is not allowing any group to conduct terrorist activities in Afghanistan.
Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry has made the rare admission in an interview to the state-run Pakistani television PTV broadcast Sunday.
The United States has designated the Haqqani network and its leadership as global terrorists for carrying out high-profile deadly attacks against American and allied forces in Afghanistan.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and U.S. officials allege Haqqanis operate out of sanctuaries in Pakistan, a charge Islamabad rejects.
“The Haqqani Network is actually part of the Taliban. Most of their people are in Afghanistan, most of them, and some of them are present here (in Pakistan),” said Chaudhry.
Chaudhry asserted the Pakistani leadership is sticking to its pledges of not allowing any individual or group to use Pakistan’s soil for terrorist activities.
“We have also explicitly given the same message to the Taliban and Haqqanis that you must not indulge in any terrorist activity or violence in Afghanistan,” he said. “And if you can’t mend your ways and live peacefully like millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, then you better leave the country because Pakistani soil cannot welcome you and the space would be squeezed on you.”
Consequently, most of the insurgents went back to Afghanistan where 10 percent of the territory is now controlled by the Taliban, Chaudhry said citing U.S. military estimates.
Speaking earlier this month in Washington, U.S. commander of international forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson warned the Haqqanis still pose the greatest threat to Americans and to their coalition partners and to the Afghans.
“And they remain a principal concern of ours. And they, and they do enjoy sanctuary inside Pakistan,” the general added.
Chaudhry urged President Ghani to prevent anti-Pakistan militants from “roaming freely” on his side of the border and carry out attacks in Pakistan on “mere assumptions” that Islamabad harbors anti-Kabul militants.
If the Afghan side believes mere allegations against Pakistan would help solve Afghanistan’s problems “then let them believe so. It would not get them anywhere,” he added.
Afghan officials deny they have anything to do with the militants linked to anti-state Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, though Pakistani officials point to killings of a number of leaders of the group in Afghanistan this year by U.S. drone attacks.
Islamabad hosted a preliminary round of peace talks between Kabul and Taliban officials in July 2015, the first direct contact between Afghan warring sides in 15 years. Chaudhry along with U.S. and Chinese officials attended the negotiations as monitors.
But since then the war has intensified, fueling tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan over Islamabad’s alleged backing of the insurgency.
#India cautions #Russia and #Iran against engaging with #Afghan #Taliban http://toi.in/8OXRYa via @timesofindia
NEW DELHI: India sounded a warning on Thursday to countries like Russia and Iran, which appear to be trying to change the ground situation in Afghanistan by engaging Taliban politically.
In a response, MEA spokesperson said, "In so far as the Taliban is concerned, they have to respect the internationally agreed red lines, give up terrorism and violence, sever all ties with al-Qaida, agree to follow democratic norms and not do anything which will erode the gains of the last 15 years."
This is an unusual cautionary note from India aimed at its oldest strategic partner. Even though India prefers to treat Russia with kid gloves, it feels Moscow's latest moves in Afghanistan have the potential to stir serious trouble. MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop stressed India and Russia's special relationship.
"We do not see any downward trend in our bilateral relationship," he said. But it is clear that India has been disturbed by recent events.
Addressing Afghanistan's upper house on the weekend, Russian envoy Alexander Mantytskiy was quoted as saying, "Zamir Kabulov (a high-ranking official in Russia's foreign ministry) said our interests are the same as Taliban in fighting Daesh." Russia now says it regards Taliban as a "national military-political movement", but IS as a global jihadist movement that could destabilise Russia's 'near abroad' - central Asia
Even Iran has been reaching out to Taliban, with the aim of keeping IS out of the Afghan region. According to an Iranian news agency, an influential Iranian cleric declared this week that Tehran has invited "moderate figures such as Taliban" to attend a conference on international Islamic Unity, saying, "Iran has always held contacts with some parties in the Taliban movement."
Iran denies any ties with Taliban, but Afghan officials have recently accused Tehran of not only harbouring families of senior Taliban commanders, but supplying them with sophisticated weapons that are destabilising the country.
#China, #Pakistan, #Russia to Meet on #Afghanistan, Angering #Kabul Leaders. #Taliban #ISIS #India #Washington
Top Foreign Ministry officials from China, Pakistan and Russia will meet in Moscow on Tuesday to review what they perceive as a "gradually growing" threat to their frontiers posed by Islamic State extremists in Afghanistan.
"This is an existing forum for undertaking informal discussions on issues of regional peace and stability, including the situation in Afghanistan," Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria told VOA.
Pakistan's foreign secretary, Aizaz Chaudhry, will lead Islamabad's delegation, he added. Officials say future meetings could include Iran.
Chinese, Pakistani and Russian officials say they were driven to joint action by the efforts of IS affiliates to establish a foothold in Afghanistan.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's national unity government has reportedly questioned the motives of the trilateral dialogue, which will take place without Kabul being represented.
Russian officials maintain the "working group on Afghanistan" is one of several initiatives Moscow has undertaken with regional countries, including Afghanistan, to develop a "wider partnership" for containing IS influence.
Beijing, Islamabad and Moscow say the three-way talks will also explore ways to bring the Taliban to the table for peace talks with the Afghan government. All three governments maintain overt contacts with the insurgent group.
Russia and officials in Pakistan argue that military operations by the U.S.-led international forces and their Afghan partners have not weakened the Taliban but instead created ungoverned areas where terrorist groups like IS, also known as Daesh, can establish a foothold.
Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told the U.N. Security Council last week that the deteriorating security situation has encouraged IS militants fleeing Syria and Iraq to look at Afghanistan for shelter. He said they will eventually pose a threat to Russia through neighboring central Asian states.
Using another acronym for IS, he said, "There is also information about the presence in Afghanistan of ISIL camps and safe harbors where people from central Asian states and northern Caucasus republics are being trained and where 700 terrorist families from Syria have already arrived."
Churkin again rejected Afghan and U.S. concerns that Moscow's overt ties to the Taliban are meant to undermine international efforts aimed at establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan.
"Our contacts with representatives of Taliban are limited to the task of providing for the security of Russian nationals in Afghanistan and also aimed at moving the Taliban towards joining with the process of national reconciliation," he said.
Pakistani officials say Russia is eager to include Iran in future meetings of the tripartite "working group" and that the issue will be taken up at Tuesday's meeting. Iran borders both Afghanistan and Iraq, where IS is present, and is fighting Islamist insurgents among other anti-regime forces in Syria.
While U.S. counterterrorism forces in partnership with Afghan forces have conducted major operations against IS fighters, the Taliban have also engaged in clashes with the rival group to deny it space in Afghanistan. Russian officials say they are developing ties with the Taliban to prevent IS influence from spreading into Afghan border provinces.
#Russia's Putin Ordered ‘Influence Campaign’ Aimed at Helping #Trump Win U.S. Election, US Intelligence Report Says
American intelligence officials have concluded that the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, personally “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” and turned from seeking to “denigrate” Hillary Clinton to developing “a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”
The conclusions were part of a declassified intelligence report, ordered by President Obama, that was released on Friday. Its main determinations were described to President-elect Donald J. Trump by the nation’s top intelligence officials earlier in the day, and he responded by acknowledging, for the first time, that Russia had sought to hack into the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems. But he insisted that the effort had no effect on the election, and he said nothing about the conclusion that Mr. Putin, at some point last year, decided to aid his candidacy.
The report, a damning and surprisingly detailed account of Russia’s efforts to undermine the American electoral system and Mrs. Clinton in particular, went on to assess that Mr. Putin had “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”
The report described a broad campaign that included covert operations, including cyberactivities and “trolling” on the internet of people who were viewed as opponents of Russia’s effort. While it accused Russian intelligence agencies of obtaining and maintaining “access to elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards,” it concluded — as officials have publicly — that there was no evidence of tampering with the tallying of the vote on Nov. 8.
The report, reflecting the assessments of the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the National Security Agency, stopped short of backing up Mr. Trump on his declaration that the hacking activity had no effect on the election. “We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election,” the report concluded, saying it was beyond its responsibility to analyze American “political processes” or public opinion.
The intelligence agencies also concluded “with high confidence” that Russia’s main military intelligence unit, the G.R.U., created a “persona” called Guccifer 2.0 and a website, DCLeaks.com, to release the emails of the Democratic National Committee and of the chairman of the Clinton campaign, John D. Podesta.
When those disclosures received what was seen as insufficient attention, the report said, the G.R.U. “relayed material it acquired from the D.N.C. and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks.” The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has denied that Russia was the source of the emails it published.
The report makes clear that Mr. Putin favored Mr. Trump in part because he had previous success dealing with “Western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia” — it named a former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, as an example — and in part because he viewed Mr. Trump as a more likely ally in forming Russia’s version of a counterterrorism coalition against the Islamic State. Mr. Trump described his eagerness to do so in an interview with The New York Times in March 2016.
US Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper: Russian campaign to influence US elections was multi-faceted included hacking but also classical propaganda, disinformation, dissemination of fake news etc. ...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANs-jVko8u4
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper officially confirmed during a Senate hearing Thursday that the U.S. believes the Russian government was involved in propagating fake news and fake news websites during the 2016 presidential election.
Democratic Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed asked Clapper about various media reports that the Russians may have been involved in creating “fake news” in addition to their purported hack of the Democratic National Committee.
“One of the aspects of this Russian hacking was not just disseminating information they had exploited from computers, but also the allegations of fake news sites, fake news stories that were propagated. Is that an accurate– is that one aspect of this problem?” he asked.
“This was a multifaceted campaign. So the hacking was only one part of it, and it also entailed classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news,” Clapper confirmed.
“Does that continue?” asked Reed.
“Yes,” Clapper answered.
Information Operations: It Takes a Thief
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday on foreign cyber threats to the U.S., there were several references to the saying that “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” The point, made by DNI James Clapper, was that the U.S. should not be too quick to penalize the very espionage practices that U.S. intelligence agencies rely upon, including clandestine collection of information from foreign computer networks.
But perhaps a more pertinent saying would be “It takes a thief to catch a thief.”
U.S. intelligence agencies should be well-equipped to recognize Russian cyber threats and political intervention since they have been tasked for decades to carry out comparable efforts.
A newly disclosed intelligence directive from 1999 addresses “information operations” (IO), which are defined as: “Actions taken to affect adversary information and information systems while defending one’s own information and information systems.”
“Although still evolving, the fundamental concept of IO is to integrate different activities to affect [adversary] decision making processes, information systems, and supporting information infrastructures to achieve specific objectives.”
The elements of information operations may include computer network attack, computer network exploitation, and covert action.
See Director of Central Intelligence Directive 7/3, Information Operations and Intelligence Community Related Activities, effective 01 July 1999.
The directive was declassified (in part) on December 2 by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, and was first obtained and published by GovernmentAttic.org.
#NSA's spying on #Trump's #Russia links are showing how #America's Deep State really works. #FlynnResignation
America's intelligence agencies aren’t operating outside the law – they’re using the vast power they’ve acquired within it.
BY MARC AMBINDER
We know now that the FBI and the NSA, under their Executive Order 12333 authority and using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as statutory cover, were actively monitoring the phone calls and reading text messages sent to and from the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.Although the monitoring of any specific individual is classified TOP SECRET, and cannot be released to foreigners, the existence of this monitoring in general is something of an open secret, and Kislyak probably suspected he was under surveillance.But a welter of laws, many of them tweaked after the Snowden revelations, govern the distribution of any information that is acquired by such surveillance. And this is where it’s highly relevant that this scandal was started by the public leaking of information about Mike Flynn’s involvement in the monitoring of Kisylak.The way it’s supposed to work is that any time a “U.S. person” — government speak for a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, even a U.S. company, located here or abroad — finds his or her communications caught up in Kislyak’s, the entire surveillance empire, which was designed for speed and efficiency, and which, we now know, is hard to manage, grinds to a halt. That’s a good thing. Even before Snowden, of course, the FBI would “minimize” the U.S. end of a conversation if analysts determined that the calls had no relevance to a legitimate intelligence gathering purpose. A late night call to order pizza would fall into this category.But if the analyst listening to Kislyak’s call hears someone identify himself as an agent of the U.S. government — “Hi! It’s Mike Flynn” certainly qualifies — a number of things have to happen, according to the government’s own rulesAt this stage, the actual audio of the call and any transcript would be considered “Raw FISA-acquired information,” and its distribution would be highly restricted. At the NSA, not more than 40 or so analysts or senior managers would be read into the classification sub-sub compartment that contains it, called RAGTIME-A,B,C D or P, where each letter stands for one of five different categories of foreign intelligence.For anything out of the ordinary — and this qualifies — the head of the National Security Division would be notified, and he or she would bring the raw FISA transcript to FBI Director James Comey or his deputy. Then, the director and his deputy would determine whether to keep the part of the communication that contained Flynn’s words. The NSA has its own procedures for determining whether to destroy or retain the U.S. half of an intercepted communication.In this case, there were three sets of communications between Flynn and Kislyak, at least one of which is a text message. The first occurs on Dec. 18. The last occurs on Dec. 30, a day after sanctions were levied against people that the Russian ambassador knew — namely, spies posing as diplomats.The factors FBI Director Comey and his deputy would have had to consider in this case are complex
This #Pakistan Spy Ring Exclusively Recruits #Hindu Boys With Saffron Links. #BJP #India #ISI
On November 12 last year, Jammu and Kashmir police nabbed two people — Dadu and Satvinder Singh — in RS Pura for allegedly spying on military installations. There seemed to be nothing extraordinary about it. After all, 22 other Pakistani spies had been caught in 2016.
But as intelligence agencies began looking at the source of their funds, they stumbled upon a unique, self-sustaining model of finance, based on a telecom fraud, the likes of which they had not encountered in any spy case earlier.
The extent of the fraud that fuelled ISI’s spy network, and possibly its terror cells in India, has been calculated to be over Rs 30,000 crore.
This model, unlike direct hawala routes that spies and terrorist organisations were known to thrive on earlier, generates money from Indian victims who are conned by ISI’s Indian recruits, using Indian telecom services and Indian banks.
Investigators looking into the Pakistani spy ring case have unearthed the involvement of people with remarkably different backgrounds.
From Gulshan Kumar, who worked with the NATO on complex military technology in Afghanistan, to Balram Singh, a young boy from a far flung village in Madhya Pradesh who flaunted his association with the Bajrang Dal did not even complete his matriculation.
But there is one thing that has surprised intelligence officers.
Though the involvement of Hindus working for Pakistani spies or working as their facilitators has been established before, intelligence officers have never found a network of financers to foreign intelligence comprising almost exclusively of Hindus.
Some of them, who’ve been identified and arrested in this case, were card-carrying members of BJP and RSS affiliates like the Bajrang Dal. Many others didn’t hold official memberships but were closely associated with mainstream and fringe Hindu groups.
These were the people who worked directly with Pakistani handlers to fund ISI spies and possibly sleeper cells of terror groups.
And that is not all. Anti-terrorist squads of more than one state are also probing links of the arrested people to Naxals extremists from Bihar and Chhattisgarh. A secret note prepared exclusively by the ATS for the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh has highlighted the background of Manoj Mandal, the latest one arrest in the case from the ‘Naxal-affected’ region of Jamui in Bihar.
A senior ATS officer in Madhya Pradesh, who was part of the team that monitored and carried out most of the arrests made in this case, says investigations have unearthed a network which is way greater than anything they’ve ever seen or handled.
#Pakistan: The Indispensable, Unreliable #American Ally. #Terrorism #Afghanistan #India
When it comes to combating terrorism, Pakistan is an indispensable ally for the United States. But as the two countries' checkered history shows, it is also an unreliable one.
Pakistan seems to be a constant center of terrorism and chaos. The Taliban and al Qaeda have long been present in the country. Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden even hid out in his compound in Abbottabad, a stone's throw away from a military training compound, before Navy SEAL Team 6 took him out in a 2011 raid. Pakistani officials have denied that they knew about bin Laden's presence. But for those of us who have spent time in the world of counterterrorism, it's hard to believe that one of the world's most wanted people lived in the city for years without being detected by the Pakistani government or its intelligence agencies.
The raid took place only when CIA suspicions about the terrorist leader's whereabouts were confirmed by a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi. He used a fake vaccine campaign to obtain samples of the bin Laden family's DNA, pointing U.S. forces to the compound. For his role in the affair, Afridi was convicted by Pakistan of treason and is currently serving a long prison sentence. Afridi became a cause celebre after U.S. President Donald Trump made a campaign promise to have him freed. But when Pakistan reacted angrily to the suggestion, it became another bone of contention between uneasy allies.
Pakistan's turbulent history also includes a pattern of violence toward its leaders, who have been targets of numerous assassination attempts. In 1988, the mysterious crash of a U.S.-made C-130 claimed the life of President Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq and many of his top generals, along with U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Herbert Wassom and U.S. Ambassador Arnold Raphel. Over a decade later, President Pervez Musharraf survived several attempts on his life. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was not so lucky; she was killed in a bombing in late 2007.
In the late 1980s, I was part of a small U.S. team sent to investigate the crash of Zia-ul-Haq's C-130, a tricky case made more complex by the atmosphere we found in Pakistan. First, Zia-ul-Haq belonged to the Pakistani army, but the country's air force was the branch tasked with coordinating our investigation. As in any nation's armed forces, interbranch rivalries ran deep there. From the first briefing with Pakistani officials, it was clear that they had preconceived notions about the cause of the crash, creating immediate friction with our small team. To make an uncomfortable situation even worse, they closely watched our every move.
As an investigator, I strove to rule in or out the variables that could have caused the crash, such as sabotage, catastrophic mechanical failure or weather. Granted, the event was traumatic to Pakistan; after all, it had lost its president. But it was also unnerving for the Diplomatic Security Service. We had lost our ambassador and a brigadier general. In fact, before Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed in Benghazi, Raphel was the last U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty.
Pakistan's cooperation with the United States on that case and others has not stopped militant groups from festering in the country, despite Islamabad's campaign against them. Pakistan's hard-line Islamist factions and long-running disputes with India provide a breeding ground for militancy, and Islamabad has even had a hand in fostering groups that later committed acts of terrorism.
Ex #Pakistan Envoy Husain Haqqani: "I had facilitated the presence of large numbers of #CIA operatives" in #Pakistan
"Among the security establishment’s grievances against me was the charge that I had facilitated the presence of large numbers of CIA operatives who helped track down bin Laden without the knowledge of Pakistan’s army — even though I had acted under the authorization of Pakistan’s elected civilian leaders."
#Afghanistan now #Trump’s War: "in the grip of a resolute insurgency" "kleptocratic, dysfunctional governing elite"
"Afghanistan remains in the grip of a resolute insurgency and a kleptocratic, dysfunctional governing elite. The Afghan state has been rapidly losing control of districts across the country to Taliban factions and Afghan forces are getting killed and injured at a rate American commanders call unsustainable."
"As the Trump administration settles in, American commanders are making the case for another troop surge. Testifying before the Senate last month, Gen. John Nicholson, the current top commander in Afghanistan, said America’s longest war is in a “stalemate” and lamented what he called a “shortfall of a few thousand” troops. There are currently 13,000 international troops in Afghanistan, including about 8,400 Americans. On Thursday, Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of Centcom, said military leaders are drawing up a new strategy that will require more American troops."
"White House officials and members of Congress should consider this request with skepticism. The challenges that have stymied American generals in Afghanistan for years — including havens for insurgents in Pakistan, endemic corruption and poor leadership in the Afghan military — remain unsolved. In the absence of a dramatically different approach to those problems, any new reinforcements can only be expected to shore up the fledgling Afghan government for a year or two."
DoD Report: Pakistan is Reason for Afghanistan Stalemate
by Real Clear Defense
SWJ Blog Post | July 4, 2017 - 10:15pm
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DoD Report: Pakistan is Reason for Afghanistan Stalemate by Robert Cassidy - Real Clear Defense
The latest U.S. Department of Defense Report on “Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan” reiterates that Pakistan’s sanctuary, support, and employment of insurgents and terrorists is a strategic impediment to ending that war well, or to ending it at all. The Pentagon is now preparing to send about four thousands more troops. A number of Coalition partners will probably send a commensurate number of additional troops. More troops and more actions will build advisory capacity and thus improve the Afghan security forces capacity. More capacity will, in turn, gain some tactical and operational momentum vis-à-vis the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and other Islamist militants that benefit from Pakistan’s support and sanctuary.
But more action and more troops in and of themselves will not gain strategic momentum. Strategic momentum requires a marked change in Pakistan’s strategic behavior. That requires a strategy which includes more regional cooperation and a much more coercive strategic approach to curb Pakistan’s machinations. This requires a sea change in strategic thinking to shock, compel, and instill fear in Pakistan’s security establishment to break it out of its ingrained strategic-cultural pathologies. Pakistan’s duplicitous incubation and export of proxy terrorists and insurgents is the most significant obstacle to peace in Afghanistan and South Asia.
Pakistan has nurtured and relied on a host of Islamist insurgents and terrorists for decades. The Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) has maintained links between Al Qaeda, its longtime Taliban allies, and a host of other extremists inside Pakistan. It is only possible for Pakistan to become a non-pariah state among the community of states and a helpful partner to the Coalition and the U.S. if it significantly modifies its regional conduct and ceases its support of proxy terrorists and insurgents. America has doled out more than $33 billion in carrots to Pakistan in exchange for Pakistan’s treachery since 9/11. This miscarriage of trust and reliability is abhorrent…
#Pakistan Defiant as US Ponders New Strategy. Demands Renegotiation of #America's Access Rights to #Afghanistan
Days after the Pentagon announced it is withholding $50 million intended for Pakistan as part of its Coalition Support Fund, the South Asian country's ambassador hinted at potential retaliation, possibly coaxing Washington to negotiate access to the country's air corridors, which Islamabad suggests have been taken for granted.
Pakistan is ready to cooperate with the United States, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said, though Washington may now end up having to negotiate with Islamabad on the corridors and other tangible assets, he added.
"All that Pakistan has done in the fight against terrorism has not been sufficiently factored" into the U.S. decision to reduce its support funds, Chaudhry lamented during a discussion this week at the Washington office of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Air rights up for negotiation?
Pakistan has facilitated air and ground logistical support for U.S. troops in Afghanistan "like no one else," Chaudhry said, adding that "since 2001, all air corridors from Pakistan have been available to the United States free of cost."
The reason Pakistan did so "was because we believed this was a common war," the ambassador said, but there have been occasions when U.S. actions have left his country's leaders thinking "that perhaps we are not partners."
Questions concerning Pakistan's commitment to bilateral partnership have also been raised by the U.S. A prime example was the discovery in 2011 that al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden had been living undisturbed near a key Pakistani military facility.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said he withheld $50 million in Coalition Support Funds because he couldn't certify to Congress that Pakistan had taken sufficient action against the Haqqani network, a Taliban-associated organization which the U.S. has deemed a Foreign Terrorist Organization, since September 2012. The group has been blamed for attacks in Afghanistan, which have contributed to the country's destabilization, an issue of concern to the U.S.
For its part, Islamabad's message is don't drop "every security lapse in Afghanistan on Pakistan's doorsteps," as the country's ambassador to the U.S. put it.
The Pakistani envoy's remarks came at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has been reviewing its overall strategy toward South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. And his defiant tone may reflect Pakistan's decreasing dependence on the United States amid an influx of Chinese capital investments and a strengthening political relationship between Islamabad and Beijing.
The Pakistani military has responded to a charge of having links to armed groups in South Asia, arguing that it is the job of intelligence agencies to maintain such connections, but rejected the notion that Pakistan supported groups such as the Afghan Taliban.
Please understand, 'having links', and 'supporting' [armed groups] are two different things," said Major General Asif Ghafoor, the military's spokesperson, at a press conference in the northern garrison city of Rawalpindi.
"Name an intelligence agency of any country that does not have links [to armed groups]. Everyone does. If you have the links to finish the threat, then that is a positive contribution."
Ghafoor was responding to comments made on Tuesday by General Joseph Dunford, the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that he believed Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency maintained links to armed groups.
"It is clear to me that the ISI has connections with terrorist groups," he said, referring to groups that are actively engaged in the Afghan conflict, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network.
Ghafoor stressed that while the connections may exist, that did not constitute support.
"[US officials] did not say that the ISI is supporting [armed groups]," the Pakistani general said.
Earlier on Thursday, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs also denied that Pakistan was supporting armed groups in neighbouring Afghanistan or on its soil.
"We have time and again rejected these allegations. Pakistan has done enough to erase the footprint of terrorism from its soil through indiscriminate counterterrorism operations against all terrorist outfits," said spokesperson Nafees Zakaria at a separate press briefing.
#Canadian #Hostage on His Daring Rescue by #Pakistan Army. #Afghanistan #HQN https://youtu.be/m1RJGnmWM3g via @YouTube
Josh Boyle: "A major comes over to me while I still have blood on me. The street is chaos and he says to me, 'In the American media they said that we support the Haqqani network and that we make it possible. Today you have seen the truth. Did we not put bullets in those bastards?' "And so I can say to you I did see the truth, and the truth was that car was riddled with bullets. The ISI (Pakistan's intelligence agency) and the army got between the criminals and the car to make sure the prisoners were safe and my family was safe. They put them to flight and they ran like cowards. And this is proof enough to me the Pakistanis are doing everything to their utmost."
Ambassador Ryan Crocker on #US exit from #Afghanistan:"We have again validated their (#Pakistanis) skepticism". Pakistanis "knew we (US) will go home but they aren’t going anywhere--this is where they live".They'd not "turn the Taliban into a mortal enemy" https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/21/opinion/us-afghanistan-pakistan-taliban.html
I recall the comment attributed to a captured Taliban fighter from a number of years ago: You Americans have the watches, but we have the time. Sadly that view proved accurate — the Taliban outlasted us and our impatience. After the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan at the hands of U.S.-trained and armed mujahedeen in 1989, training that was facilitated by Pakistan, we decided we were done. We could see the Afghan civil war coming — the only thing holding the disparate Afghan groups together was a common enemy. But that was not our problem — we were leaving. On the way out, we stopped helping Pakistan in a key way: We ended security and economic assistance because of its nuclear weapons program, something we’d exempted before. So Pakistan, in its own narrative, went from being the most allied of allies to the most sanctioned of adversaries. That is why Pakistan threw its support to the Taliban when they started gaining ground in the 1990s: It could end a dangerous conflict along Pakistan’s own unstable borders.
And that is why a decade later after 9/11, Pakistan welcomed the return of the United States — and U.S. assistance. It would work with us against Al Qaeda. But we soon learned that the Taliban were a sticky matter. I was ambassador to Pakistan from 2004 to 2007. I pushed Pakistani officials repeatedly on the need to deny the Taliban safe havens. The answer I got back over time went like this: “We know you. We know you don’t have patience for the long fight. We know the day will come when you just get tired and go home — it’s what you do. But we aren’t going anywhere — this is where we live. So if you think we are going to turn the Taliban into a mortal enemy, you are completely crazy.”
We have again validated their skepticism.
The Washington Post notes that “as the Taliban swept across neighboring Afghanistan, some Pakistanis saw it as a reason to celebrate.” Yet I doubt there are many high fives being exchanged in Islamabad today. The American disaster in Afghanistan that Mr. Biden’s impatience brought about is not a disaster just for us. It has also been a huge boost for the Taliban, whose narrative now is that the believers, clad in the armor of the one true faith, have vanquished the infidels. That is resonating around the world, and certainly next door in Pakistan where the T.T.P. — the Pakistani Taliban, which seeks the overthrow of their government — has certainly been emboldened, as have Kashmiri militant groups created by Pakistan but that threaten Pakistan itself as well as India. Mr. Biden’s strategic impatience has given a huge boost to militant Islam everywhere.
We need to be engaged with Pakistan on ways to assess and deal with this enhanced threat. The prospect of violent destabilization of a country with about 210 million people and nuclear weapons is not a pretty one. The same is true in Iran. It’s always good to see the Great Satan take a kick in the face, and it’s worth a little gloating, but the Islamic Republic and the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate almost went to war in 1998. A region is worried, and it is right to be so.
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