Sanjeev's Feed
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. 

May 30, 2011
via Afghan Journal

Stirring the hornet’s nest in Pakistan’s northwest

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The United States has a set of expectations  that it wants Pakistan’s government to meet, Secretary of State of  Hillary Clinton said ahead of her short trip to Islamabad  last week, the kind of language Washington has frequently employed to bring its conflicted partner in the war against militant Islam to heel, each time  there has been a crisis. Clinton didn’t elaborate, saying only at the end of her meetings in Islamabad that she expected Pakistan to take decisive steps in the days ahead.

But on Monday, Pakistan’s The News reported that the military was preparing to launch an air and ground offensive against militants in North Waziristan, a demand that the United States has repeatedly made over the last two years. It said the decision was taken during discussions that Clinton and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of State Admiral Mike Mullen had with Pakistani government and military leaders.

May 26, 2011
via Afghan Journal

In Pakistan’s Gwadar port, Chinese whispers grow

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First, China helped develop Pakistan’s Gwadar port from scratch on the Baluchistan coast to take the pressure off the country’s main port of Karachi, a few hundred miles to the east. Now Pakistan’s defence minister has said that it would like its long-time ally to build a naval base at Gwadar, which sits on the doorstep of Gulf shipping lanes, less than 200 kms from the mouth of the Straits of Hormuz.

China, which provided more than 80 percent of the port’s $248 million development cost, has moved quickly to distance itself from Pakistani Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar’s remarks about a naval base in Gwadar. The foreign ministry said China was not aware of any such proposal.