Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Afghan Journal:

Ahead of Lisbon, soul-searching in Pakistan

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For all of former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf's faults, the one thing you would have to give him credit for is the emergence of a free press. It's every bit as fearless, and questioning as its counterpart across the border in India, sometimes even stepping over the line, as some complain.

Indeed east of the Suez, and perhaps all the way to Japan, it would be hard to find a media that is as unrestrained as in India and Pakistan, which is even more remarkable in the case of Pakistan given the threat posed by a deadly militancy.

And so in the run-up to the Lisbon summit where NATO leaders will decide, among other things, the way forward in Afghanistan, a few Pakistanis have spoken forcefully. They touch upon Pakistan's role as a conflicted ally in the war there and the extreme danger that the state itself  faces now because of its refusal, or inability to break ranks with militant organisations. More striking, they challenge some long-held beliefs relating to India and Pakistan, in ways you would think was unthinkable.

One of them is an influential Pakistani newspaper editor, who according to Arnaud de Borchgrave in a piece carried by the Atlantic Council, has just made the rounds of Washington, delivering a stunning indictment of some of the players involved in the Afghan conflict.  He can't be named and his comments were off-the-record, but meant for public use, Borchgrave says.

from Afghan Journal:

America takes the war deeper into Pakistan

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One of the most interesting things in Bob Woodward's re-telling of the Afghan war strategy in his book "Obama's Wars" is the approach toward Pakistan. It seems the Obama administration figured out pretty early on in its review that Pakistan was going to be the central batttleground, for this is where the main threat to America came from.

Indeed, the mission in Afghanistan was doomed so long as al Qaeda and the Taliban were sheltered in the mountains of northwest Pakistan straddling the Afghan border. The question was how do you deal with Pakistan?

from Tales from the Trail:

U.S. lawmakers wonder, where did our love go? with Turkey

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It almost sounded as if U.S. lawmakers felt jilted by Washington's long-time NATO ally Turkey.

"How do we get Turkey back?" demanded Representative Gary Ackerman at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing exploring "Turkey's New Foreign Policy Direction."

from Afghan Journal:

Is the surge failing in Afghanistan?

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(Afghan women in a car in Kandahar province.Reuters/Yannis Behrakis

(Afghan women in a car in Kandahar province. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)

Six months into the surge in Afghanistan, Americans and Afghans alike are asking the question whether it has worked and the ugly reality is that it has failed to make a difference, writes Jackson Diehl in the Washington Post.

To be sure, as U.S. President Barack Obama said last week only half the reinforcements he ordered in December have arrived and there is still more than a year to go before the troop withdrawals begin.

from Afghan Journal:

Kandahar’s street without women

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Afghan women wearing traditional burqas stand in the street in Kandahar November 7, 2007. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

Afghan women wearing traditional burqas stand in the street in Kandahar November 7, 2007. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

Where women really stand in Afghan society didn't hit home to me until I walked down a busy market street in Kandahar without seeing a single woman. The birthplace of the Taliban, Kandahar is conservative even by Afghan standards.  It is also the focus of NATO's next big military offensive in Afghanistan,  and I spent a couple of days last week embedded with a U.S. military police unit there to report on plans for the offensive and the mood on the ground

War comes to Germany

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Germans have spent the last six decades trying to be as un-militaristic as possible.Germany Afghanistan

Their struggle to make a complete U-turn from their belligerent past has caused many an awkward moment for the country and its NATO allies. In avoiding the mere mention of the word “war” that seemed to be all but banished from their vocabulary, German leaders raised in a post-war era and the motto “Nie Wieder Krieg!” (No more war ever)  have gone through tortuous tongue-twisting excursions about what the increasingly deadly mission in Afghanistan isn’t – a war.

from Afghan Journal:

Taliban demand freedom of speech, condemn ban on attack cover

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(Afghan widows in Kabul. Picture by Ahmad Masood)

(Afghan widows in Kabul. Picture by Ahmad Masood)

Afghanistan's Taliban have condemned a government plan to ban live coverage of their attacks, saying the measure was a violation of free speech.   For a group that had itself banned television, not to mention music during its rule from 1996 to 2001, that's pretty rich irony.

On Monday, Afghan authorities announced a ban on filming of live attacks, saying such images emboldened the  militants who have launched strikes around the country just as NATO forces are in the middle of an offensive. A day later, officials promised to clarify the restrictions, and hinted they may row back from the most draconian measures.

from Afghan Journal:

Is demilitarised Europe affecting operations in Afghanistan?

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German Bundeswehr army soldiers in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Picture by Fabrizio Bensch)

German Bundeswehr army soldiers in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Picture by Fabrizio Bensch)

U.S. frustration with Europe's unwillingness or inability to commit resources to Afghanistan, both in terms of men and materiel, appears to have boiled over.  Last week U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said in a speech at the National Defense University in Washington that public and political opposition to the military was so great in Europe  it was affecting NATO operations in Afghanistan. The alliance desperately needed combat helicopters and cargo planes, but years of successive cutbacks in defence funding by European nations had left it unable to rise to the challenge. 

EU, NATO officials call for gender equality

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By Sangeeta Shastry
     European Commission Vice-President Margot Wallstrom and Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

European Commission Vice-President Margot Wallstrom and Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

European Union and NATO officials have joined forces in calling
for new efforts to ensure women are more involved in peacekeeping
and conflict resolution. But differences remain on how to do so, and
on whether gender quotas are the solution.

Russia’s security proposals – about much more than security

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medvedevWestern responses to President Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal for a new European-Atlantic security body that stretches from Vancouver to Vladivostok have ranged from dismissive to lukewarm. None have been enthusiastic.

But some inside and outside Russia argue it would be unwise for Europe and the United States to reject the proposal out of hand, not least because, as one Russian official put it, this is one of the few occasions where Russia isn’t disagreeing but coming up with something constructive.

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