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Afghanistan - News and Discussion
The key to understanding the Afghan predicament is that due to a quirk of nature it has very poor resources to sustain itself. Hence throughout history it has been a 'rentier' state that has depended on the rich arable lands of the Indus and the Ganges river valleys. Its decline started a thousand years ago when it aligned with the Islamic hordes and reached a peak or really a valley in the colonial era when it was cut off from its rich resources in the Indo-Gangetic plains due to British paramountcy in Hindustan.

<b>Hence to revive Afghanistan it is crucial to renew its connections to the Indo-Gangetic plains or the modern state of Bharat. The connections have to be revived in the economic, cultural, military and politicial sphere. </b>The morass it sank into in the Taleban era was due to the cutoff in the ties to India.

After Afghan liberation, the Loya Jirga declared Afghnaistan as an Islamic republic and the US went along to please the TSP. This in my opinion is a fundamental mistake. If the US had fought in WWII and did not allow the re-establishment of colonies in the former colonial lands by UK, France, and Dutch, why is it allowing the establishment of Islamic nations in countries liberated from the yoke of Islamism?

Modern world does not accept empires and conquest. However a new name has to be given to the relationship to tie Afghanistan to India beyond the empty words of SAARC etc. India has to help revive the Afghan infra-structure and rebuild its schools and universities. <b>I think India should earmark a yearly budget allocation for Afghanistan. In return Afghanistan should purge itself of its rentier behavior and allow Indian presence in all its forms in accordance with the UN Charter.</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Hence to revive Afghanistan it is crucial to renew its connections to the Indo-Gangetic plains or the modern state of Bharat. The connections have to be revived in the economic, cultural, military and politicial sphere.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Not possible till problem called Pakistan is not fixed. Ground reality in Afghanistan is still very bad or horrible. Pakistan is still ruling in rural area with impunity.
Feeding Kabul palace won’t do any good to Indian cause or Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s poppy industry is Paki army money making industry. First objective should be completely destroy poppy industry and later build school etc.
To bring the situation under control will require strengthening of the coalition forces and fighiting out the Talaban in the countryside. No nation in the West is willing to spend its human resouces on this issue. The only option left for India is to offer troop deployment for the purpose in Afganistan. Whether it is worth?
It’s not worth it.
First we should understand who are Talaiban? They are either Pakistani or Afghan refugees’ brain washed by Pakistani Wahabbi madarsa and Paki Army. Indirectly these fanatics are in control and they are still busy indoctrinating Wahabbi Islam in Afghanistan.
Objective should be first dilute Islam in Afghanistan and kick out Paki army from Afghanistan. US and NATO is not doing, they are avoiding core problem. They will not give India free hand either.
Why India should send its own citizen to get butchered by fanatics? Who will break fanatic supply line from Pakistan?
Slowly Afghanistan will change into dead zone/Afghan Kush. Till then sit and watch making of Afghan Kush.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Violence and Pak image in Afghanistan </b>
Imtiaz Gul
<b>While good will for India is on the rise, Pakistan has a mountain to climb to rehabilitate its image in Afghanistan  </b>

Henry Crumpton, the United States counter-terrorism coordinator, delivered more blows to Pak-Afghan relations when he declared on May 6 in Kabul that Pakistan was “not doing enough in the war on terror”. This declaration clearly flew in the face of a statement by Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, commander of the Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan, who, in a May 2 interview with Asia Society, lauded Pakistan’s role as “a great ally” in the war on terror.

Crumpton clearly does not think so.

<b>On the other hand, India’s presence in Afghanistan is welcomed and its reconstruction efforts widely acclaimed. However, some Indian commentators have proposed that New Delhi should begin to reach out to the Taliban now; the effort is to be presumably directed towards convincing the Taliban that they should participate in governance rather than allying with Al Qaeda to disrupt the ongoing effort to put the country back on the rails.</b>

Pakistan, of course, continues to draw flak though some like Eikenberry do give credit where it is due. “<b>If you look at Pakistan’s actions over the last several years, Pakistan has arrested and killed more Al Qaeda members than any other country. Pakistan is a great ally in the war on terror,” </b>said Eikenberry, going on to talk about what was being done for Afghanistan and how Pakistan and the US were working together to solve a problem (terrorism) that was creating trouble for all three in equal proportions.

“There are, first of all, the practical challenges of coordinating and cooperating our activities in what is geographically a very challenging area. This includes eastern, southern and southeastern Afghanistan and corresponding border areas of Pakistan. This is a tough terrain to operate in,” Eikenberry said of the degree of difficulty in cleansing the area.

A visit to the 10,380-foot high Kundi Ghar in the Shawal Valley of North Waziristan confirms Eikenberry’s observation about the physical challenge the area poses. Winding valleys, forested mountain peaks and passes are all but some of the natural obstacles that security forces have to negotiate in their hunt for the elusive Taliban and Al Qaeda militants.

“Keeping troops deployed and maintaining posts at such inaccessible altitudes is a formidable challenge. Pakistan is doing exactly that but is still coming under fire from certain US lobbies who continue to downplay its efforts,” said an observer.

A look at what Pakistan has done in and for Afghanistan since the Tokyo conference in January 2002 is revealing. Islamabad has spent about US$167 million on a variety of projects, donated about 200 trucks, 45 ambulances and 10 buses to the Universities of Kabul and Nangarhar as well as 34 computers to the Afghan government. The 75-kilometre-long Torkham Jalalabad highway, destroyed by incessant warfare, is also close to completion.

A 150-bed hospital and thalassemia centre in Kabul, a 100-bed hospital in Logar province and a complete academic block at the Kabul University and the Rehman Baba High School are other features of the reconstruction package Pakistan has offered. Islamabad also awaits the final nod from Afghan authorities for the construction of the 107-kilometre Chaman-Kandahar railway line which, it is hoped, will boost trade and communication with Iran and, also, Turkmenistan.

<b>Archrival India is also omnipresent in Afghanistan. With consulates in Jalalabad, Kanadhar, Her’at and Mazar-i-Sharif, India has reportedly established other representative missions also to facilitate Indian private and state-sector companies involved in reconstruction. This involvement spans from school and hospital buildings to road construction and telecommunication works, all funded by the Indian government. India is also constructing the new Parliament House near the Kabul museum, which will most probably crown Indian efforts to regain a foothold in Afghanistan.

Sources in the Ministry of Information say besides providing satellite transponders to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defence as well as Afghan Radio & TV (RTA), the Indian government has now provided 24 channels and one of its satellites to enable RTA to beam its radio and TV stations to a maximum number of Afghan provinces.</b>

While participation in reconstruction efforts offers its dividends to both countries, during a recent international conference on the role of neighbouring countries in the reconstruction and security of Afghanistan, it was made abundantly clear that while good will for India is on the rise, Pakistan has a mountain to climb to rehabilitate its image in Afghanistan.

In fact, Pakistan-bashing is a favourite pastime of several Afghan leaders and the intelligentsia. Even during the conference, organised jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German Hans Seidel Foundation (HSF), Pakistan drew quite a bit of flak from people in high places.

The diatribe began, for instance, with Minister for Defence General Abdul Rahim Wardak. He did not name Pakistan but made it clear who he was hitting out at. “Our enemy continues to receive recruits and resources from outside the country and retains the ability to disrupt daily life and inflict casualties on soft targets,” Wardak said. “We know our country had been turned into the centre of international terrorism but the Afghan government and people are determined not to allow this to go on,” he added.

A young officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yasin Rasooli, also sounded venomous when talking about the Taliban and Al Qaeda in his presentation about the security situation in Afghanistan. “The Taliban have their ideological base in Pakistan,” he said, later referring to the Durand Line as an “artificial border”. Rasooli said that Pakistan was still providing the Taliban with sanctuaries and other help to disrupt the rebuilding process in Afghanistan. His presentation was quite upsetting for its semantics and sounded like a public indictment of Pakistan.

An MP from Khost province, Haji Sabir Hussain, was equally critical of Pakistan’s alleged involvement with the Taliban. “Why don’t you [Pakistanis] shut down training camps in Quetta,” he asked with reference to Pashtunabad settlement in Quetta, which houses mostly Afghans.

Away from the conference venue, private and official TV and Radio stations daily churn out information on reported arrests and killings of Pakistan-backed insurgents near the border regions. “Pakistan seems to be in a tight spot. Official as well as common Afghans fail to distinguish between what individual pro-Taliban elements are doing in the border regions and what the Pakistani government is doing to stem the flow and activities of these militants,” said an observer.

Pakistani diplomats say Afghan officials who are constantly bashing Pakistan are doing so under external pressure and influence. One such official also said that several ex-Mujahideen leaders are now either part of parliament and the government or are opposition MPs. A majority of them is angry at Pakistan “for abandoning them”.

In the past, a number of Afghan leaders have benefited from Pakistan’s largesse, particularly from the time of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan up until 9/11. However, Pakistan has been most ruthlessly criticised only after the Taliban defeat.

“Apparently, the new situation seems to have put Pakistan on the defensive and we now see it going from the pro-active approach before 9/11 to a reactive one based on what Kabul needs and demands as far as reconstruction and trade is concerned,” said an observer.

Development consultants say that for political and trade relations to grow, the anti-Pakistan rhetoric has to give way to friendly, accommodating and forward-looking gestures. “Simply blaming internal problems on external factors will not help in the reconstruction of this country,” said one consultant currently working on security issues.
<b>Four US soldiers killed, 6 wounded in Afghanistan </b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->KABUL: Insurgents killed four US soldiers and wounded six others in separate clashes in Afghanistan on Saturday as the war-battered nation celebrated its 87th Independence Day.

Two Afghani soldiers were also killed in the worst bout of fighting since the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001.

Three US soldiers were killed and three others wounded in a fight with Taliban militants in Pech district of the eastern Kunar province, said Col Tom Collins, the US military spokesman. In another incident on Saturday, a US soldier was killed and three others were injured in a four-hour clash with more than 100 insurgents in the southern Uruzgan province, officials said.

The American soldier who died was part of a US team training the Afghan National Army, Collins added. The clashes are part of daily violence, but they coincided with a message that the Taliban said was from their leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

The message from Omar came on the anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence from Britain. “Celebrating Afghan Independence Day would amount to self-deception at a time when the infidel forces of the entire world have occupied the country,” according to the message that was read by Taliban spokesman Mohammad Hanif.

“Rise against the infidel forces and help Taliban in the jihad to free Afghanistan from the slavery of the occupiers,” the message read. agencie<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Wake up USA, Hit Pakisatan and save world.
<b>Afghan Governor's Funeral Bombed; 6 Dead </b>?<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->TANI, Afghanistan (AP) -- A suicide bomber struck Monday at a funeral for a provincial governor assassinated by the Taliban a day earlier, and four senior members of the government at the service escaped unhurt, officials and witnesses said. At least six people were killed and dozens were wounded.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Yesterday, ABC movie did lot of Paki bashing plus Indo-Pak half bright nonsense.

<b>AT WAR </b>
Losing Afghanistan
We're not adequately fighting the war we should be fighting.

<b>Taliban bombs Afghan official's compound </b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan - A Taliban suicide bomber killed 18 people outside a provincial governor's compound Tuesday, <b>including several Muslim pilgrims set to travel to Mecca </b>— another in a series of attacks directed at senior figures in President Hamid Karzai's U.S.-backed government.

The blast at the doorstep of Helmand Gov. Mohammed Daoud Safi's compound came on the same day a bombing against a        NATO patrol in the Kabul area killed an Italian soldier and a child, and two weeks after militants assassinated a governor in eastern        Afghanistan who had been a Karzai confidant.

<b>Bush to test body language at Karzai-Musharraf summit </b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->WASHINGTON (AFP) -        President George W. Bush will Wednesday sit round the White House dinner table with the presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan, keen to size up tensions between two key "war on terror" allies.

Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf and Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai will join Bush amid suggestions that testy cross-border relations are hampering efforts to quell tribal violence and hunt down terrorist mastermind        Osama bin Laden.

<b>Bush said he would use the encounter to "to watch the body language of these two leaders to determine how tense things are."</b>  <!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo-->

"I'll be good" quipped Karzai, at solo talks at the White House on Tuesday, which followed Musharraf's visit to the Oval Office with Bush last week.

<b>Musharraf fired the latest salvo in their war of words on Monday when he denied claims that Taliban leader Mullah Omar had found refuge on Pakistani soil and it was Afghanistan that was not doing enough to battle extremism.</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Poppy pops up in Afghanistan </b>
Farrukh Saleem
Bush dreams of stabilising Afghanistan but with drugs comes crime and crime means continued instability 
Fact: According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the domestic “hard-core heroin-using population is 980,000”.

Fact: According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan’s opium contribution “accounts for 90 percent of world production”.

In 2001, Afghans had 4,163 acres under poppy cultivation, producing 40 MT (metric ton) of opium, 5 MT of heroin valued at some $600 million. Then happened 9/11. Exactly 26 days after 9/11, at 8:45 pm local time, 1615 GMT, 15 land-based bombers and 25 strike aircraft attacked Afghanistan. US and British ships and submarines fired an additional 50 Tomahawk missiles.

Then came US military bases: Air Base Bagram, Air Base Khost, Air Base Kandahar and Air Base Mazer-e-Sharif. NATO is now building a base in Herat big enough to accommodate 10,000 troops. There is news of at least nine new bases in Helmand, Herat, Nirouz, Balkh, Khost and Paktia.

Taliban toppled, in walked Bush. Within four years, 510,766 acres were brought under poppy cultivation producing 5,000 MT of opium, 600 MT of heroin with a street value of $50 billion. At least 52 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP is poppy. Everyone who is anyone – especially the provincial governors, police chiefs and district commanders – is in the drug trade. Anyone who is America’s political ally in Afghanistan is in the drug trade. Many of America’s political allies helped America overthrow the Taliban. America can’t haunt its own political allies and thus the drug trade flourishes.

Afghanistan is one country where the drug circle is an open secret. Ali Jalali, Karzai’s interior minister who recently resigned, has compiled a list of “100 high-ranking Afghan officials involved in the drug trade. The list includes at least 13 former or present provincial governors and four past or present cabinet ministers”. Informed Kabul-based diplomats estimate that at least one-quarter of the new elected members of Wolesi Jirga or House of People maintain links either with production cartels or with traffickers.

Some half-million Afghan families sow poppy as a cash crop. Afghan poppy growers, however, remain subsistence farmers whereby 90 percent of drug-related income goes to well-connected traffickers and their powerful political backers. Strangely, most international anti-drug campaigns continue to be directed against poor farmers while traffickers build multi-storied plazas in Kabul.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime claims that “170,000 Afghans now use opium or heroin. About 30,000 of those addicts are women, a shockingly high number in such a conservative Muslim society”.

Bush dreams of stabilising Afghanistan but with drugs comes crime and crime means continued instability. Bush’s Afghanistan is a narco-state and narco-dollars are being controlled by America’s political allies.
<!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> Great game in Afghanistan
Outsiders win, but war goes on
by Major-Gen Ashok K. Mehta

George Bush’s dinner diplomacy between feuding Presidents Karzai and Musharraf did not work. But on the ground, Nato commanders are claiming success.

Just give me another 1000 troops and the Taliban will be on its knees (in Helmund), says Brig Ed Butler, British Commander in Southern Afghanistan. Lt Gen David Richards, the overall Force Commander of the UN-mandated ISAF and Nato-led forces, agrees. He has a sound plan: to defeat the Taliban in six months in Helmund and Kandahar provinces by winning hearts and minds of the locals through creating jobs and improving governance.

On July 20, though, Richards had described the situation in Afghanistan as close to anarchy. Major-Gen Eric Olson 18 months ago observed that the Taliban “is a force in decline”. US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Peter Pace, does not consider the situation worrying. But the frequency of suicide attacks in Kandahar and Kabul makes both look like Baghdad. These confusing signals sum up the present situation.

The Supreme Commander of Nato, Gen James Jones, feels that an additional 2500 troops are required but none of the 36 countries contributing troops was prepared to provide more. So the already stretched British may have to do it. Winter is a few weeks away so troops have to get in fast.

Till end last month, 50 suicide attacks had been carried out this year out of a total of 70 so far. And with mounting casualties among security forces, the situation is quite unstable despite a series of offensives against the Taliban. But this war can only succeed if the war against opium is fought simultaneously.

The latest deal between Pakistan and pro-Taliban and Al-Qaida tribals in Waziristan has given the militants a virtual sanctuary. How Musharraf has sold this deal to the Americans is not a mystery. Musharraf is probably going to eat the cake and have it too without giving the US anything more than assurances to deliver Laden.

Like Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq, where conventional victory came easily, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan also ensured a swift regime-change. But the Iraqis and Afghans are both enduring lack of freedom as near-civil war conditions prevail there. Although Afghanistan is not as bad, it seems headed in that direction. With a resurgent Taliban, fleeting tactical successes create the illusion of victory. As historian Olaf Caroe observed: “Wars in Afghanistan begin after they’ve ended”.

Crippled by war and violence for 25 years, a new Afghanistan with a constitution, elected Parliament and President has emerged. Unfortunately the US is employing the Iraq template with greater emphasis on military forces rather than the political process. For example there is no intra-Afghan dialogue to establish a multi-ethnic government which could lead to improved governance.

Corruption, extortion and drug trading are destabilising the government whose control over Kabul and outlying provinces is being challenged by the Taliban. Restoring the peace process by ending violence must be the top priority. The escalation in guerrilla war by Taliban is instigated by Pakistan’s renewed quest for strategic depth. So far this year, nearly 1000 deaths have been reported. Some put a figure as high as 1600 for the last four months alone. The new Taliban has a force of 12,000 fighters deployed in the South with strongholds in Kandahar, Helmund, Zabul and Urozgan. The force is Pashtoon-dominated and receives support from NWFP and Baluchistan.

Taliban leaders like Mullah Omar are based in Quetta. Gen Richards is reported to have given Musharraf his address during their recent meeting. The day after this meeting, Pakistan announced the capture of 45 Taliban in Quetta. So this cat-and-mouse game goes on.

The Taliban strategy is to bleed foreign forces and make them leave Afghanistan as the Soviets were made to do in 1988. A Taliban offensive in Southern Afghanistan took temporary control of Garamsehr and Nawa I Barakzayi. Intense fighting took place in Panjwayi which is the birthplace of the Taliban movement. IEDs and suicide attacks and occasional assaults on posts are the favoured weapons of Taliban.

In the last three months coalition troops launched their biggest-ever operations called Mountain Thrust, Medusa, and Mountain Fury. Gen Jones claimed that 1000 Taliban were killed during Operation Medusa for six Nato fatalities.

The Afghan National Army is authorised to have 70,000 troops and 37,000 policemen. Only a 36,000-strong Army is operational. The actual need is for 150,000 troops. 20,000 US troops and 19,000 Nato forces from 36 countries with complex rules of engagement are involved. On August 1, 8000 Nato troops extended security operations to Southern Afghanistan replacing US forces.

Security operations are accompanied with development projects. 23 provincial reconstruction teams, more than half under US command, are deployed outside Kabul. The Afghan government is required to disarm illegal groups by end 2007. Since 2005, nearly 150 troops and 2000 civilians have been killed.

The biggest problem facing Afghanistan is opium. Poppy products and drugs constitute half of the $ 7 billion economy. Therefore many call Afghanistan a narcotics state. About 20,6700 hectares of land is under opium cultivation since 2003. 3.8 per cent of the population is addicted to drugs. The EU apparently invests $ 3 billion in counter-narcotics strategies but the actual amounts will be much lower.

Helmund is called the poppy province. And this is where the Taliban are the strongest. The official role of security forces is to help in the destruction of the poppy crop but as this is destroying the means of livelihood, it goes counter to winning hearts and minds. The poppy war has to be fought alongside the war against the Taliban. The economy is severely debilitated as Afghanistan raises only 18 per cent of its budget from its own resources. On top of this, 4.5 million refugees have returned from Iran and Pakistan. The US alone has provided $ 11 billion between 2001-06.

Despite geographical constraints, India has established an impressive foothold in Afghanistan. It is hosting a meet of 22 Foreign Ministers of donor countries at Kabul in November. India has been involved from Day 1 for rebuilding a new Afghanistan.

About 3000 Indians are working in Afghanistan on Indian projects. The thrust areas are infrastructural development, humanitarian assistance and institutional and human resource development. India has pledged $ 650 million of which $200 million has already been used. The reconstruction projects are chosen by the Afghan government. India has donated 400 army trucks, 35 mini buses and three Airbus aircraft in addition to 1000 scholarships for students and training for diplomats. ITBP and CISF personnel are deployed for security of projects and consulates which are located at Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar i Sharif.

At an India-Pakistan conference in Colombo in June, former DG ISI, Lt Gen Asad Durrani, suggested that India and Pakistan should cooperate rather than confront each other in Afghanistan. “Let us make it the ninth item of the composite dialogue” he added. For India, Afghanistan is strategically so vital that any serious offer by Pakistan cannot be passed. This is worth exploring. India must also not keep all its eggs in the Karzai basket.

The US-Afghanistan-Pakistan tripartite border commission will need to monitor Pakistan’s deal with the Taliban as also verify the presence of the Taliban headquarters in Quetta.

A recent leak from a US strategy report suggests that the new Taliban is to be inducted into the Karzai government. This will allow Musharraf to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds. So the new Great Game will ensure US presence in Afghanistan with access to Central Asia while Pakistan would regain its strategic depth in Afghanistan. But the war will go on.
<b>Durand Line: the line of Evil </b>
by Dr.Dipak Basu a Professor in International Economics in Nagasaki University, Japan)

<i>Balochistan, along with the North West Frontier Province (N.W.F.P) are the victims of an imaginary line, called Durand Line, which was described by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president as the "line of Evil". In deed that line signifies both the British and Pakistani imperialism that have subjugated the Baluchs and the Pushtuns. </i>

In 1893, the Afghan and British governments agreed to demark a 2,450-kilometer (1,519 miles) long border dividing British India and Afghanistan. The signatory of the document, known as The Durand Line Agreement, were Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, ruler of Afghanistan, and Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, the foreign secretary of the British Indian government. After a series of battles and false treaties signed by the British, 'The Durand Line Agreement' of 1893 divides boundaries between three sovereign countries, namely Afghanistan, Balochistan and British India. According to that agreement Britain had taken a lease of the area in N.W.F.P and Balochistan, without the knowledge of Balochistan. Sir Durand gave verbal assurance to Afghanistan that the lease will lat until 1993, but in the written agreement there is no mention of it. Otherwise just like Hong Kong, N.W.F.P would have gone back to Afghanistan in 1993.

The Durand Line Agreement should be a trilateral agreement and it legally required the participation and signatures of all three countries. However, the clever British drawn the agreement bilaterally between Afghanistan and British India only, and it intentionally excluded Balochistan. Thus, Balochistan has never accepted the validity of the Durand Line. The British, under false pretenses, assured the Afghan rulers that Balochistan was part of British India, and therefore, they were not required to have the consent of anyone from Balochistan to agree on demarking borders. Meanwhile, the British kept the Baloch rulers in the dark about the Durand Line Agreement to avoid any complications. According to International Law, all affected parties are required to agree to any changes in demarking their common borders. Hence, under the rules of demarking boundaries of the International Law, the Agreement of Durand Line was in error, and thus, it was null and void as soon as it was signed.

Also, International Law states that boundary changes must be made among all concerned parties; and a unilateral declaration by one party has no effect. However, the British government disregarding the objection of Afghanistan gave away the N.W.F.P to Pakistan after a fraud plebscite. However, it never gave Baluchistan to Pakistan in the same way the British never gave away Jammu & Kashmir to India.

When in 1949, Afghanistan's "Loya Jirga" (Grand Council) declared the Durand Line Agreement invalid and also raised objections in the United Nations against the creation of Pakistan and its boundary decalared by the British alone, the so-called world body had ignored the plea of a small nation.

<b>Pakistani Invasion of Indepent Baluchistan, 1948:</b>

On August 11, 1947, the British acceded control of Balochistan to the ruler of Balochistan, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan - the Khan of Kalat. The Khan immediately declared the independence of Balochistan, and Mohammad Ali Jinnah signed the proclamation of Balochistan's sovereignty under the Khan.

The New York Times reported on August 12, 1947: "Under the agreement, Pakistan recognizes Kalat as an independent sovereign state with a status different from that of the Indian States. An announcement from New Delhi said that Kalat, Moslem State in Baluchistan, has reached an agreement with Pakistan for free flow of communications and commerce, and would negotiate for decisions on defense, external affairs and communications." The next day, the NY Times even printed a map of the world showing Balochistan as a fully independent country.

On August 15, 1947 the Khan of Kalat addressed a large gathering in Kalat and formally declared the full independence of Balochistan, and proclaimed the 15th day of August a day of celebration. The Khan formed the lower and upper house of Kalat Assembly, and during the first meeting of the Lower House in early September 1947, the Assembly confirmed the independence of Balochistan. Jinnah tried to persuade the Khan to join Pakistan, but the Khan and both Houses of the Kalat Assembly refused. The Pakistani army then invaded Balochistan on April 15th, 1948, and imprisoned all members of the Kalat Assembly. India stood by silently. Lord Mountbatten, Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru or Maulana Azad, then the president of India's Congress Party said nothing about the rape of Baluchistan or later of N.W.F.P.

Throughout the period of British rule of India, the British never occupied Baluchistan. There were treaties and lease agreements between the two sovereign states, but neither state invaded the other. Although the treaties signed between British India and Balochistan provided many concessions to the British, but none of the treaties permitted the British to demark the boundaries of Baluchistan without the consent of the Baluch rulers. Once Balochistan was secured through invasion, the Pakistanis deceptively used the law of uti possidetis juris to their advantage and continued occupation of territories belonging to Afghanistan, the N.W.F.P with the full approval of the British Army in India and their supreme commander Lord.Mountbatten.

As Pakistan is in illegal occupation of territories belonging to Afghanistan and Balochistan under false pretenses, it is in Pakistan's interest to have a weak and destabilized government in Afghanistan so there is no one to challenge the authenticity of the Durand Line Agreement.

That was the reason Pakistan has joined the conspiracy of President Carter and his national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski (as described in the interview given by Brzezinshi to the French newspaper Le Nouvel Observateur on 15-21 January 1998) to destabilize the Afghan government of Noor Mohammed Taraki in 1978 by using Pakistani army and destroy it completely through the invasions of the Muzzahideens in 1992 and Talibans later in 1995 with the approval of President Clinton who has sent his special adviser Robin Rafael to Kandahar to congratulate the Talibans. In the same way Clinton administration has sent 10,000 strong Mujahideen army, composed of Arabs, to Bosnia in 1991 to murder the Christian Serbs.

Even after 2001, Pakistani intelligence agencies have provided shelter for members of Al-Qaeada and Taliban who are committing acts of terrorism within Afghanistan to destabilize the democratically elected government of President Hamid Karzai. Pakistan has waged a proxy war against the United States through Taliban, and continues to terrorize the Afghan nation in hopes to frustrate the US to leave Afghanistan and weaken the Afghan government.Meanwhile, the Baloch have launched their "War of Independence" in Iran and Pakistan.

<b>Liberation Movement in Balochistan:</b>

Mir Azaad Khan Baloch, the General Secretary, The Government of Balochistan in Exile in Jerusalem decalared recently, "Afghanistan and Baluchistan should form a legal team to challenge the illegal occupation of Afghan territories and Baluchistan by Pakistan in the International Court of Justice. Once the Durand Line Agreement is declared illegal, it will result in the return of Pakistan-occupied territories back to Afghanistan. Also, Baluchistan will be declared a country that was forcibly invaded through use of force by the Pakistanis; and with international assistance, Baluchistan can regain its independence."

The Baloch freedom movement is not new but failed to draw the attention of the world. A very serious crisis lasted from September 1961 to June 1963, when diplomatic, trade, transit, and consular relations between Baluchistan and Pakistan were suspended. Another insurgency erupted in Balochistan in 1973 into an insurgency that lasted four years and became increasingly bitter. The insurgency was put down by the Pakistan Army, which employed brutal methods and equipment, including helicopter gunship, provided by Iran and flown by Iranian pilots. The shah of Iran, who feared a spread of the insurrection among the Iranian Baloch, generously gave external assistance to Bhutto. By early 1974, an armed revolt was underway in Baluchistan. By 2004 Baluchistan was up in arms against the federal government, with the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), Balochistan Liberation Front, and People"s Liberation Army conducting operations. Rocket attacks and bomb blasts have been a regular feature in the provincial capital, particularly its cantonment areas, Kohlu and Sui town, since 2000, and had claimed over 25 lives by mid-2004.

The Gwadar Port project employed close to 500 Chinese nationals by 2004. On 03 May 2004, the BLA killed three Chinese engineers working on the Port. Rockets attacked Gwadar airport at midnight on 21 May 2004. On 09 October 2004, two Chinese engineers were kidnapped in South Waziristan in the northwest of Pakistan, one of whom was killed later on October 14 in a botched rescue operation. Violence reached a crescendo in March of 2005 when the Pakistani government attempting to target Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, a seventy-year-old Sardar (tribal leader) who had fought against the government for decades, shelled the town of Dera Bugti. The fighting that erupted between the tribal militia and government soldiers resulted in the deaths of 67 people. Ultimately Nawab Bugti also became a martyr in the cause of the liberation of Balochistan.

<b>The Durand Line and N.W.F.P </b>

To this date, the relations between Afghanistan, Balochistan and Pakistan are characterized by rivalry, suspicion and resentment. The primary cause of this hostility rests in the debate about the validity of the Durand Line Agreement. Dubbing Durand line as a line of hatred Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he does not accept this line as it has raised a wall between the two brothers, and slices a part of Afghanistan from the motherland. He said this on 26 January 2006 after offering condolence over the death of Khan Abdul Wali Khan, the last surviving son of the 'Frontier Gandhi' Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who was betrayed by Mahatma Gandhi in 1947. Afghanistan always vigorously protested the inclusion of Pashtun and Baluch areas within Pakistan without providing the inhabitants with an opportunity for self-determination.

In the 19th century, Afghanistan served as a strategic buffer state between czarist Russia and the British Empire in the subcontinent. Afghanistan"s relations with Moscow became more cordial after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. The Soviet Union was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with Afghanistan after the Third Anglo-Afghan war and signed an Afghan-Soviet non-aggression pact in 1921, which also provided for Afghan transit rights through the Soviet Union. Early Soviet assistance included financial aid, aircraft and attendant technical personnel, and telegraph operators.

British during their Empire in India were anxious to award N.W.F.P to the Muslim League to minimize the importance of Afghanistan, a pro-Soviet state. The most important party in the N.W.F.P was the Khudai Khidmatgars who had formed the government there since 1935 in collaboration with the Congress party of India. The opinion of the British governor Sir George Cunningham was the same of that of the Muslim League that, since the Hindus were not a people of the Book, and since the Khudai Khidmatgars of Khan Abdul Gaffer Khan were working in concerned with the Hindu Congress for national independence and freedom from British slavery, hence this partnership was in fact a partnership with heathenish Kafirs.

The Muslim League always had been an ally of the British, and it was wholly unsympathetic to all the Muslim organizations fighting the British – to the righteous scholars and leaders of Deoband, whom it did no even desist from abusing. It was not prepared to recognize the efforts of other individual Muslims who were contributing to the national movement for independence. On the contrary, it had kept pressing the British not to recognize any other Muslim or Muslim organization except the Muslim League as representative of the country's entire Muslims, when it was very unpopular party among the Muslims in Bengal, Sindh, and N.W.F.P, all Muslim majority areas of the British India.

The British practically handed over the N.W.F.P to The Muslim League through a referendum where the supporters of the Khudai Khidmatgars abstained because of the absurd advice of Mahatma Gandhi. Khudai Khidmatgars and the Congress Party of Gandhi used to have the political power of the N.W.F.P since 1935. Gandhi gave them assurance that if they abstain the referendum would be morally invalid and annulled. (Gandhi gave the same absurd advice to the Hindus in the referendum in the Mayamansingh district of East Bengal and as a result the whole of the district with about with about half of the population as Hindus went to Pakistan). The British had managed to persuade through bribing some members of the legislative assembly to support the inclusion of N.W.F.P in Pakistan. Immediately after 1947 Pakistan had started killing members of the Khudai Khidmatgars and most Pushtun leaders, including Khan Abdul Gaffer Khan had to take sanctuary in Afghanistan, then an anti-British and pro-Soviet country.

The Soviets began a major economic assistance program in Afghanistan in the 1950s. Between 1954 and 1978, Afghanistan received more than $1 billion in Soviet aid, including substantial military assistance. In 1973, the two countries announced a $200-million assistance agreement on gas and oil development, trade, transport, irrigation, and factory construction. Since 1978, the Soviet Union started providing large-scale military assistance to Afghanistan to protect the country from the invasion launched by Pakistan with the full encouragement of the CIA to destroy the socialist government of Noor Mahamed Taraki. When it became obvious that Afghanistan alone cannot resist the aggression of Pakistan, the Soviet army came to Afghanistan in December 1979 to help maintain its independence until 1992.

After 1979, the Soviets augmented their large aid commitments to shore up the Afghan economy and rebuild the Afghan military. They provided the Karmal regime an unprecedented $800 million. The Soviet Union supported the Najibullah regime even after the withdrawal of Soviet troops in February 1989. Russia has provided military assistance to the Northern Alliance against the Pakistan backed Talibans. Osama Bin Laden started off as a Mujahideen, against the Soviet backed socialist government of Afghanistan. He was actively sponsored by the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies and was felicitated in both the White House of Washington and the White Hall of London.

A grand Pakhtoon-Baloch tribal convention was held in Pesawar on 11 February 2006 where prominent Pakhtoon and Baloch leaders endorsed a call for the elimination of the infamous and imaginary British-made Durand Line with the objective of creating a Greater Balochistan. Awami National Party (ANP) leader Asfandyar Wali Khan said that the Pakhtoon nation was passing through a critical phase of its history, and therefore, the ANP had convened the tribal convention to devise a strategy to counter the ongoing Pakistan military operations in Balochistan and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The Pakhtoon Milli Wahdat revolves around the elimination of the Durand Line, dividing Pakistan and Afghanistan, so that Pakhtoons living in NWFP, Balochistan and tribal areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan could form a state of their own.

<b>A New Map for the Middle East:</b>

Ralph Peter, in The Armed Forces Journal of the U.S, in June 2006, suggested that there has to be a major changes in the map of the Middle East, including Pakistan and Afghanistan to do justice to the ethnic groups who were forced to live under alien governments because the British and the French after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 have arbitrarily divided up the Middle East without thinking about the consequences of their actions on various nationalities who used to live under the Turkish Empire. According to this "New Map of the Middle East", Iran, "a state with madcap boundaries", would lose a great deal of territory to Unified Azerbaijan, Free Kurdistan, the Arab Shia State and Free Baluchistan, but would gain the provinces around Herat in today"s Afghanistan — a region with a historical and linguistic affinity for Iran. Iran would, in effect, become an ethnic Persian state again.

What Afghanistan would lose to Iran in the west, it would gain in the east, as Pakistan"s Northwest Frontier tribes would be reunited with their Afghan brethren. Pakistan, another unnatural state, would also lose its Baluch territory to Free Baluchistan. The remaining "natural" Pakistan would lie entirely east of the Indus, except for a westward spur near Karachi.

Thus, even among the most conservative circle of the USA the support for free Baluchistan and N.W.F.P is gaining ground due to the treacherous character of Pakistan. While it is receiving massive amount of military and civilian aid from the U.S, Pakistan is still giving sanctuary to both Taliban and Al Queada, giving them free areas to roam in the N.W.F.P. Pakistan no longer enjoys the unconditional support of the United States. In a lightning visit to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan in March 2006, US president George Bush did not conceal where his favour lay. He left India having signed a much-coveted deal on nuclear energy, while his visit to Pakistan left Musharraf with nothing.

India enjoys support in Kabul from not only Karzai and his cabinet but many political elements that fought the Taliban, especially the Northern Alliance that was supported by Iran, the U.S. and its allies and continues to be friendly towards India. A strong, stable Afghanistan, bolstered by American military and diplomatic support, and further strengthened by an alliance with India, could on the other hand make Pakistan very uncomfortable indeed. India should take advantage of this historic opportunity to free both Baluchistan and N.W.F.P from Pakistan by giving total support to the Baluch freedom fighters and to the Afghan government, as Mrs. Indira Gandhi has changed the map of Pakistan in 1971. While Pakistan is continuously drawing the attention of the world about India's so-called 'injustice' to Kashmir, which Pakistan has invaded in October 1947, there is no reason for India to conceal the fact that Pakistan has occupied an independent country Balochistan in April 1948.

Dr.Dipak Basu

<b>Cocaine, heroin cheaper than ever in Europe: report </b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->LISBON (Reuters) - Illegal drugs may be cheaper than ever before in Europe, with prices of heroin slumping 45 percent and cocaine down 22 percent over five years, according to the first Europe-wide report of its kind on drug prices.

The steep fall in heroin prices in 1999-2004 came as drug production in        Afghanistan surged so much after the fall of the Taliban that supply could now be exceeding global demand for heroin, threatening to spur more drug use.

Afghanistan accounts for about 90 percent of world production of opium - the raw material for heroin - and its production has soared since a U.S.-led invasion ousted the government of the Islamist Taliban in 2001.        NATO troops are currently battling a Taliban insurgency, which has been fueled by the drugs trade.

"Afghanistan is the key player in global heroin production and developments in the country have the potential to impact on the kind of drug problem we will face in Europe in the future," said Wolfgang Gotz, head of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), in a statement.

Whats going on? Who is making money?
Pakistan Army or Mullahs ?
<b>Troop increase for Afghanistan: Taliban tell NATO to ‘bring it on</b>’ <!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->KABUL: A Taliban commander on Thursday welcomed NATO’s plans to send more soldiers to Afghanistan, saying it would provide the insurgents with more targets.

<b>“Increasing or expanding NATO troops in Afghanistan is not a worry for the Taliban, instead it will make targets for the Taliban mujahideen much easier,” Commander Mullah Obaidullah told Reuters, adding that the hardline Islamists could fight for 20 years.</b>

<b>“After five years of continuous fighting against foreign troops, the Taliban have become a strong military power and the Taliban are able to fight and defeat the strongest army.”</b>

Obaidullah also repeated Taliban threats to step up suicide attacks, a tactic which killed several foreign soldiers before and during this week’s NATO summit in the Latvian capital of Riga.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Afghan president escapes assassination bid
Apr 27 02:45 PM

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai escaped unhurt after an assassination attempt by Taliban fighters with guns and rockets during an official celebration in the capital, Kabul, on Sunday.

Government ministers along with leaders of other political factions were seen ducking for cover after gunfire sounded at the celebration to mark the 16th anniversary of fall of the Afghan communist government to the mujahideen.

Karzai later appeared on state television.

"Today, the enemies of Afghanistan, the enemies of Afghanistan's security and progress tried to disrupt the ceremony and cause disorder and terror," Karzai said.

"Fortunately, Afghanistan's military forces surrounded them quickly and arrested some of the suspects," he said.

The Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the attack, said three of its fighters were killed.

British ambassador Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles was standing on the front row of the dais alongside the U.S. envoy to Kabul.

"It was coming to the end of the 21-gun salute. I saw an explosion and a puff of dust to the left of the parade and then heard the crackle of small arms fire from all directions. After some hesitation my bodyguard frog-marched me away," he told Reuters.

All cabinet members and foreign diplomats present at the parade, along with General Dan McNeill, U.S. commander of international forces in Afghanistan, were safe and well, spokesmen said.

But one person was killed and 11 wounded, including a member of parliament, a Defence Ministry spokesman said.


A Reuters witness saw around four civilians wounded. The firing appeared to have come from a building located a few hundred metres (yards) from the site, a road which is blocked off for official parades with a dais on one side, close to the presidential palace.

"Three of our attackers have been killed and three managed to escape. Small arms and RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) were used in the attack," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters from an undisclosed location.

Immediately after the attack, bandsmen in full dress uniform mingled with ordinary soldiers trying to get out of the line of fire. Other soldiers and Karzai's bodyguards, dressed in black, took up firing positions in roads near the parade ground.

The occasional crack of gunfire sent the crowds ducking and crouching behind vehicles.

Karzai has survived several assassination attempts since he came to power after U.S.-led and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban in late 2001 for failing to hand over al Qaeda leaders behind the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

The soft-spoken president has repeatedly offered to hold peace talks with the Taliban, but the hardline Islamist militants have said they will fight on till they topple Karzai's government and drive out the more than 50,000 foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Karzai's government is reliant on foreign aid and Western military support as it tries to bring peace and rebuild a country shattered by nearly 30 years of war.

Facing presidential elections next year, Karzai is looking increasingly besieged as frustration grows among both Afghans and his foreign backers over his failure to crack down on rampant corruption, appoint capable administrators and help bring security to the country.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Taliban on the rise</b>
The Pioneer Edit Desk
<b>If Karzai is unsafe, what about others?</b>
The prospects of peace are fading in Afghanistan, which is most unfortunate. While it remains important to bring stability to the region, the situation is deteriorating, as has been made clear by the attack on President Hamid Karzai. Though the attack at a military parade at which the President was officiating failed, it was brazen and left three dead. The parade, which was to showcase the Afghan Army's new training and equipment, had been planned for weeks and security was at the highest levels. Yet, the Taliban, armed with modern weaponry, were able to get within 500 metres of the stage. At the end of the 21-gun salute, they sent the President and the other dignitaries scrambling for cover. The Taliban, in this manner, have been able to score a propaganda point, undermining faith in the Karzai Government's ability to provide security for itself or for the people of Afghanistan. While it is a sharp reminder to the people of Kabul that the Taliban are not a spent force, the ordinary Taliban fighters will feel emboldened to carry out more such attacks. The incident shows how the Taliban are now able to operate comfortably in Kabul, besides penetrating deep into the heart of Afghanistan. Interestingly, the parade was to mark the victory of the mujahideen over the Russian-backed regime. This had led to several years of intense civil war in Afghanistan at the end of which the Taliban, with their radical Islamic ideology, had been successful. They themselves had been ousted in turn by the US-led coalition in the aftermath of 9/11. Under Mr Karzai, there began a new phase of democratic nation-building. Hiding for years in the shadowy mountainous belt on the borders of Pakistan, the Taliban, nonetheless, never gave up and kept on fighting the multinational forces pitted against them.

For many years since their ouster, the Taliban were on the run. Yet, when the international focus in the war against terror shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq, this relieved the pressure on them. This has allowed them to regroup and renew their offensive. Over the last few years the Taliban have shifted tactics. They are no longer on the run, and have intensified their fight against more than 50,000 foreign troops. Having suffered casualties in head on fights, they have relied more on suicide bombings. They have also begun to concentrate more on Kabul. In this situation, it is important for the US-led coalition forces to give more attention to Afghanistan in their efforts against the war on terror. It is also unfortunate that New Delhi has not paid enough attention to what is happening in its extended neighbourhood. It must comprehend the threat posed by the Taliban and react accordingly.
<!--emo&:eager--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/lmaosmiley.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='lmaosmiley.gif' /><!--endemo--> NEW DELHI: India has said it is committed to the development and reconstruction of war-ravaged Afghanistan at the International Donors' Conference in Paris.
Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma expressed the hope that the conference would buttress the implementation of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS).
"India supports the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process to propel the country on its path of stability, security and prosperity," he said addressing the conference yesterday.
He Won't Have Paris -- at Least Not This Time

By Al Kamen
Friday, June 13, 2008; Page A21

Everyone who's anyone is gathering in Paris these days for the big international donors conference on Afghanistan. Laura Bush was there for the opening yesterday. Her husband arrives late tonight. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other senior State Department officials, joined by delegates from 65 other countries and 15 international organizations, will be on hand.

The administration hopes to keep big-donor countries focused on Afghanistan's needs and to ensure it remains a priority as it struggles to develop and to rebuff the Taliban insurgency.

So with all those powerful folks getting together to talk about Afghanistan, it's only natural that our ambassador to the United Nations, Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, should want to be there. But, surely due to a clerical error, we hear Khalilzad, oft-rumored as a potential presidential candidate in Afghanistan next year, wasn't on the list to be part of the U.S. delegation.

Word is Khalilzad let it be known that he wanted to go but that folks at Foggy Bottom, maybe including Rice herself, felt this wouldn't do. Might be the thinking was that the gregarious Khalilzad's presence in Paris would detract from the efforts of the current -- and beleaguered -- president, Hamid Karzai.

Or it might be that the top brass is concerned by the constant, and lately intensifying, speculation that Khalilzad will soon quit his U.N. gig to run against Karzai.

Karzai's standing in the country, tarnished by widespread government corruption, has dropped, and outside backers are doubting his effectiveness in battling the Taliban.

Former U.N. ambassador Rich ard Holbrooke, asked at a symposium last month whether the United States would back Karzai for a third term, said he is very much liked by the current administration. "The official answer is, we won't support anyone," he said, wryly adding, "Although one member of the U.S. government, I would note, is a possible candidate.

"He came to the Asia Society and vigorously denied that he was a candidate, so everyone assumed that he was," Holbrooke joked, drawing a chuckle from the crowd. But the question of supporting Karzai will be "a huge issue for the next president."

Khalilzad, who was U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan after the Taliban was routed in 2001, has consistently said he's not running -- though perhaps not in the Shermanesque formulation used most recently by Ohio Gov. Ted Strick land to rule out being Barack Obama's running mate.

For example, he told Afghanistan's Ariana Television Network in April that "I have said earlier that I'm not a candidate for any position in Afghanistan, but I am at the service of the Afghan people." That huge trial balloon has never stopped orbiting the earth.

And an article Sunday in the Independent, a British newspaper, said that "representatives of Mr. Khalilzad . . . have discreetly sounded out various factions to ascertain his chances." The article, written from Kabul, said that "many Afghan commentators say he would enjoy a high degree of support."

The article said that "three meetings have been held with opposition groups in recent months to promote" him as a "unifying" candidate. Khalilzad is from southeastern Afghanistan and, like Karzai, is of the increasingly disaffected Pashtun majority. But Khalilzad was raised in Mazar-e Sharif in the north and was said to be on good terms with the former leadership of the non-Pashtun Northern Alliance.
<span style='color:red'>
Of course there's that 1997 Washington Post op-ed he wrote saying that "the Taliban do not practice the anti-U.S. style of fundamentalism practiced by Iran" and that "we should be willing to offer recognition and humanitarian assistance" and development aid.</span>

In any event, last word was he's not going to Paris. Well, forecast was low 60s, cloudy, rainy.

Myth-Making at the World Bank

Speaking of international development, the World Bank's internal communications announcement Monday hailed HR Insight, "a new Web site dedicated to sharing human resources-related data" that would "demystify" the personnel process and "clear up myths and distortions."

But that chatter 'mongst the hoi polloi was over word that E. Richard Mills, a longtime aide to World Bank President Robert Zoellick who's now Commerce Department public affairs chief, is being brought in under the radar, without competition, to a senior communications job. The job pays a minimum after-tax salary of $188,000, maximum $282,000. Most likely he's coming in at the lower end, but it's what the bank calls "net of taxes."

Not that Mills wouldn't do fine in the job -- he is a highly regarded public affairs chief who was senior adviser to Zoellick when Zoellick was at the U.S. Trade Rep's office and then at the State Department. The grousing was that the move had echoes of the management style of the discredited Paul Wolfowitz regime, where a small coterie of aides ruled the roost. Not that anyone's comparing Zoellick, who gets high marks, to Wolfowitz, but eyebrows were raised.

Au contraire, a bank official told us as he demystified the move, which was made internally official late Tuesday afternoon. He said the position is that of "senior adviser" to Marwan Muasher, the external affairs senior vice president and former Jordanian foreign minister (out plugging his fine book, "The Arab Center"), and that bank senior vice presidents "have the authority to appoint people" to advise them without going through competitive bidding. So nothing untoward.

So Mills will not have anyone reporting to him and Mills will report to work for Muasher, we were told. Bank employees, a singularly suspicious lot, were not buying that for a moment, but that's what we were told.

Saying No to Italy

Congressional tourism updates: The office of Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) says he couldn't go on the fact-finding trip that left yesterday for the Galapagos because he and his wife "have to return to Tennessee this weekend." And Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) also decided not to go. Also, Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) dropped off the fabulous Slovenia-Italy trip we reported about earlier.

It's a given, as we often note, that no passenger list is final until the plane lifts off.

Of Meese and Men

Okay, okay. Ed Meese was, of course, Ronald Reagan's attorney general, not Richard Nixon's, as Wednesday's column somehow said. We are investigating how that error occurred. Early indications point to a computer glitch. Please stop writing and calling.

Lieberman-Cheney: Their Show of Shows

More signs of summer slowdown. Vice President Cheney and his 2000 opponent -- and, who knows, maybe successor -- Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), yucked it up on a morning radio show yesterday recorded in Lieberman's office. Lieberman played sidekick for the dynamic duo -- kind of like he did in their 2000 debate -- as Cheney fielded questions for 15 minutes about growing up, meeting his wife, going to school and hunting.
Re : Red text from above article..

Dear KhalOILzad, I'm sure you know that the Taliban are a group of Sunn'mullas without uniform; while Iran is a country half full of smart young people *ruled* by Shi'mullas who maintain a huge stock of uniforms.

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