Sanjeev's Feed
Aug 8, 2011

In Kashmir valley, a ray of light from India’s economic surge

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – In a cheerful hall humming with voices, rows of young men and women handle calls from irate cellphone subscribers in eastern India in perfect Hindi.

It could be an outsourcing center in Bangalore or Hyderabad. But this is insurgency-scarred Kashmir, where association with India has always been regarded with suspicion.

Jul 13, 2011
via Afghan Journal

On the Afghanistan-Pakistan border : cutting off the nose to spite the face

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Pakistan’s defence minister has threatened to move forces away from the Afghan border, where they are deployed to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban, if the United States cuts off aid to the cash-strapped country. Ahmed Mukhtar’s logic is that Pakistan is essentially fighting America’s war on the Afghan border, and if it is going to put the squeeze on its frontline partner, then it will respond by not doing America’s bidding.

But  apart from the issue of whether Pakistan can really stand up to the United States  is the question of whether Islamabad can afford to pull back from the Afghan border for its own sake. This is no longer the porous border where movement of insurgents is confined to members of the Afghan Taliban travelling across to launch attacks on foreign forces in their country. Over the past few weeks, the traffic has moved in the reverse direction, with militants crossing over from Afghanistan to attack Pakistani security posts, Pakistani officials say.  These are not armed men sneaking across in twos and threes , but large groups of up to 600 men armed with rocket launchers and  grenades flagrantly crossing the mountainous border to attack security forces and civilians in Pakistan. (It also stands Pakistan’s strategy of seeking strategic depth versus India on its head; now the rear itself has become a threat.)

Jul 5, 2011
via Afghan Journal

Drone strikes are police work, not an act of war?

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Launching an air strike in another nation would normally be considered an act of aggression. But advocates of America’s rapidly expanding unmanned drone programme don’t see it that way.

They are arguing, as Tom Ricks writes on his blog The Best Defense over at Foreign Policy, that the campaign to kill militants with missile strikes from these unmanned aircraft, is more like police action in a tough neighbourhood than a military conflict.

Jul 3, 2011
via Afghan Journal

Pakistan’s Shamsi base : a mystery wrapped in a riddle

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Pakistan Defence Minister Mukhtar Ahmad’s comments this week that the government had ended U.S. drone flights out of Shamsi air base deep in southwest Baluchistan province has injected new controversy in their troubled relationship. U.S. officials appeared to scoff at Mukhtar’s remarks, saying they had no plans to vacate the base from where they have in the past launched unmanned Predator aircraft targeting militant havens in the northwest region.

Washington’s dismissal of the Pakistan government’s stand is quite extraordinary. Can a country, even if it is the world’s strongest power, continue to use an air base despite the refusal of the host country ?  The United States is effectively encamped in Pakistan using its air strip to run a not-so-secret assassination campaign  against militant leaders including Pakistanis while Islamabad fumes.

Jun 30, 2011
via Afghan Journal

Kabul : The hotel on the hill

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Taliban suicide bombers staged a dramatic attack on Kabul’s landmark  Intercontinental hotel  late on Tuesday. Here is a piece by two Reuters journalists reminiscing about the imposing hotel on the hill. 

                                                             By Robert Evans and Tom Heneghan

Jun 14, 2011
via Afghan Journal

Ten years on, still trying to frame the Afghan War

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U.S. President Barack Obama is in the midst of a wrenching decision on whether to quickly bring home the 100,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan or stay the course in the hope that the situation will stabilise in the country.

The problem is it is still not clear what the huge operation estimated to cost $100 billion a year is intended to do.  Here is what Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said last week when asked what would constitute success : “I think we’ll have a much better fix in terms of clarity towards the end of this year in terms of longer-term … potential outcomes — and when those might occur — than we do right now.”  The military were in the middle of the fighting season and once that ends when winter arrives, they would be in a better position to make a call. But how many fighting seasons has the military gone through already in Afghanistan ? Their logic is that the 30,000 additional troops that Obama sent in December 2009 have started to turn things around in the southern bastions of the Taliban, and more time is needed to extend the gains in the east where the insurgency is just as stubborn.

Jun 5, 2011

Afghan talks possible if war gains continue: Gates

KABUL/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Saturday there could be political talks with the Afghan Taliban by the end of this year if NATO made more military advances and put pressure on the insurgents.

In the clearest signal yet of efforts to seek reconciliation with the Taliban, Gates told a security conference in Singapore that the gains on the Afghan battlefield were laying the ground for talks with the insurgents.

Jun 4, 2011

Gates: Afghan talks possible if war gains continue

KABUL/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Saturday there could be political talks with the Afghan Taliban by the end of this year if NATO made more military advances and put pressure on the insurgents.

In the clearest signal yet of efforts to seek reconciliation with the Taliban, Gates told a security conference in Singapore that the gains on the Afghan battlefield were laying the ground for talks with the insurgents.

Jun 4, 2011

Gates holds out possibility of Taliban talks this winter

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Saturday there could be political talks with the Afghan Taliban by the end of this year, if the U.S-led NATO alliance continued to make military advances on the ground, putting pressure on the insurgents.

In the clearest signal yet of efforts to seek reconciliation with the Taliban, Gates told a security conference in Singapore that the gains on the Afghan battlefield were laying the ground for talks with the insurgents.

Jun 1, 2011
via Afghan Journal

Pakistan’s journalists won’t be silenced

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The killing of an Islamabad-based Pakistani journalist  ,who went missing a few days ago, has triggered an outpouring of grief and anger.   Pakistani journalists and activists are demanding answers for the murder of Saleem Shahzad, who Human Rights Watch said, told them before he was abducted that he was under threat from the Inter-Services Intelligence, the powerful spy agency.

Shahzad, a reporter for the Asia Times and the Italian news agency Adnkronos International, wrote on security/intelligence issues,  often delving deep into the dangerous world of Islamist militancy . The last story he wrote for the Asia Times  two days before  he was abducted, suggested that a militant attack on the navy’s main base in Karachi on May 22 was carried out because the navy was trying to crack down on cells from Al Qaeda that had infiltrated the force.