Sanjeev's Feed
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.

Dec 27, 2011

Afghanistan tells NATO to disband local force, may open rift

KABUL (Reuters) – NATO is reviewing the activities of an irregular police force set up to bolster security mainly in the troubled north, the alliance said on Tuesday, following a call by the Afghan government that it be disbanded.

The row over the Critical Infrastructure Protection program (CIP) launched in areas where there are not enough regular security forces threatens to open a new rift with President Hamid Karzai who sees them as parallel structures that undermine his authority.

Dec 26, 2011

Afghanistan sets ground rules for Taliban talks

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan will accept a Taliban office in Qatar to help peace talks but no foreign power can get involved in the process without its consent, the government’s peace council said, as efforts gather pace to find a solution to the 10-year war.

Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, in a note to foreign missions, has set out ground rules for engaging the Taliban after Kabul grew concerned that the United States and Qatar, helped by Germany, had secretly agreed with the Taliban to open an office in the Qatari capital, Doha.

Dec 26, 2011

Exclusive: Afghanistan sets ground rules for Taliban talks

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan will accept a Taliban office in Qatar to help peace talks but no foreign power can get involved in the process without its consent, the government’s peace council said, as efforts gather pace to find a solution to the 10-year war.

Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, in a note to foreign missions, has set out ground rules for engaging the Taliban after Kabul grew concerned that the United States and Qatar, helped by Germany, had secretly agreed with the Taliban to open an office in the Qatari capital, Doha.

Dec 19, 2011

Pakistan restores Afghan border centers in step forward

KABUL (Reuters) – Pakistan has restored liaison officers at coordination centers on the Afghanistan border, NATO said on Monday, in a slight easing of tensions, after NATO air strikes last month killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers and provoked fury across the country.

But the U.S.-led coalition’s supply lines that run through Pakistan remain closed since the November 26 incident and it is both in the interests of foreign forces as well as Pakistan that the routes be opened sooner rather than later, the alliance said.

Nov 17, 2011
via Afghan Journal

Shooting from the hip : Pakistan and the U.S. election season

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It’s rarely a nice thing for a foreign country to figure high in a U.S. presidential election campaign. If it is China, it is more likely to be about currency and trade disputes with Beijing, and how each of the candidates was going to tackle it than any bouquets. Or if it is Iran, you can be sure there would be some shooting from the hip as each candidate seeks to outbid the other in trying to convince voters he or she means business with the perceived threat from that country’s nuclear programme.

And so if you were a Pakistani, last weekend’s Republican presidential debate would be just as worrisome even though you know this is election season and candidates are given to competitive sabre rattling. The country was mentioned 55 times in the debate in South Carolina, notes Sadanand Dhume in a piece on The Enterprise blog. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the leading candidate, said Pakistan was nearly a failed state with multiple centres of power  including  a weak civilian leadership and a powerful military.