Sanjeev's Feed
Mar 31, 2012

Afghanistan presses for answers on long-term U.S. military bases

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan wants the United States to clearly spell out what sort of military presence it will leave behind once most of its combat troops leave by the end of 2014, a senior Afghan official said.

It is also pressing Washington in talks over future cooperation to detail to be more forthcoming on what will be on offer for Afghan forces as they ready to take over responsibility security in the country that is still at war.

Mar 28, 2012

Afghan defense ministry denies bomb plot

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan strongly rejected reports that some soldiers working at the defense ministry were involved in a bomb plot, saying no arrests had been made nor were any vests used for suicide bomb attacks found on the premises.

On Wednesday there was no sign of a hard clamp down on personnel movements at the sprawling ministry with soldiers checking scores of visitors as usual. However, the fast spread of reports of a cache of suicide vests found at the defense ministry on Tuesday illustrates the tense atmosphere in Kabul following a spike in attacks on foreign soldiers by rogue Afghan security forces.

Mar 27, 2012

Taliban talkback: militants answer your questions online

KABUL (Reuters) – Want to know why the Afghan Taliban opened talks with the United States even though they have fought the world’s most advanced military to a virtual stalemate or prospects for girls’ schools if they regain power? Go online and post your question.

The Taliban have opened an online forum on their website, called “Your questions and Zabihullah Mujahid’s answers” where readers are invited to leave queries for their spokesman to answer.

Mar 26, 2012

Three foreign soldiers killed by Afghan forces

KABUL (Reuters) – Three foreign soldiers, including two Britons, were shot dead by Afghan security forces personnel on Monday in the latest round of insider killings which have raised deep concerns about the reliability of NATO’s local allies and their ability to keep the peace.

So-called insider attacks have mounted recently as tension between Afghanistan and its foreign backers rises over a series of incidents, including the burning of Korans at a NATO base and a massacre of 17 villagers for which a U.S. soldier has been charged.

Mar 26, 2012

Afghan Taliban say U.S. must rebuild trust for talks

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s Taliban will eventually resume talks with the United States, a former commander said, but it will depend on how Washington repairs trust damaged by a string of incidents, notably the killing of 16 Afghans blamed on a U.S. soldier.

The Taliban have suspended the nascent dialogue, blaming the United States for failing to deliver on a promise to transfer five of its leaders held by the U.S. military in Guantanamo Bay.

Mar 21, 2012

India eyes Pakistan for access to Afghan mine bonanza

NEW DELHI/KABUL, March 21 (Reuters) – India will explore a
route through rival Pakistan to transport iron ore from
Afghanistan, the head of a consortium involved in the $11
billion project said, hoping that economic benefits will
outweigh political hostility.

Despite a spike in tension in Afghanistan and uncertainty
over the future once foreign combat forces leave in 2014, India
was committed to developing the Hajigak mines and a 6 million
tonne steel plant alongside, C. S. Verma, chairman of Steel
Authority of India, told Reuters in an interview.

Mar 15, 2012
via Pakistan: Now or Never?

Afghanistan : the creeping enemy within

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Shortly before U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s  plane was to land on an unannounced trip in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, an Afghan man in a stolen pickup truck drove onto the tarmac at high speed. The  truck crashed into a ditch after it sped across the runway ramp and the driver, whose motives were unclear, emerged from the vehicle in flames.  No explosives were found on the man who later died or in the truck  and the Pentagon said at no point was the defense chief’s plane in danger. But it was an extraordinary breach of security at the British airfield in the southern province of Helmand which sits next to a vast U.S. Marine base.

Later that day U.S. Marines,  gathered to hear Panetta speak, were ordered to leave their weapons outside the tent just like the Afghans who had been told before not to bring their weapons to the tent. The New York Times quotes the top U.S. military officer in Helmand as saying he wanted a consistent policy for both the Marines and their Afghan partners.  Again it tells you about the nervousness that has crept into U.S. operations in Afghanistan, after a spate of green-on-blue attacks or attacks on coalition forces and advisers by their Afghan allies that strike at the heart of the mission  to prepare the Afghan national forces to take over the fight against the Taliban.

Mar 8, 2012
via Pakistan: Now or Never?

Beneath the radar, a Russia-Pakistan entente takes shape

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Russian PM Putin shakes hands with Pakistan's PM Gillani during their meeting in St.Petersburg

One of the early calls that Vladimir Putin took following his expected victory in the Russian presidential election last weekend was from Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. He congratulated Putin on his success and invited him to visit Islamabad in September which the Russian leader accepted, according to newspaper reports citing an official statement.

Feb 24, 2012
via Pakistan: Now or Never?

Culture wars: The burning of the Koran

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U.S. President Barack Obama has apologised for the inadvertent burning of copies of the Koran at a military base in Afghanistan and the top general in the country has ordered all coalition troops to undergo training in the proper handling of religious materials by March 3.

Quite apart from the question of how can you “inadvertently” burn books, the bigger issue is can soldiers be so blindly ignorant of the consequences of their action ? Is it because these were soldiers in the rear, insulated  in a huge base that  sometimes feels like a little America with its gymns, snack joints and the easy conviviality between men and women, a setting far removed from the hard-scrabble country outside ?

Feb 9, 2012
via Pakistan: Now or Never?

Afghanistan: Asia’s Congo

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                                   By Dan Magnowski

For many in the West, Afghanistan and Iraq have much in common.
 Both are Islamic countries whose nasty regimes were kicked out by
the U.S. after September 11 2001; in both places, the Americans,
British and others stayed and spent huge amounts of money on nobody’s
quite sure what; and both were examples of ‘evil’, back when that was
a cornerstone of foreign policy thinking.