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Afghanistan - News and Discussion
<!--emo&:furious--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/furious.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='furious.gif' /><!--endemo--> KABUL: A defence attaché in the rank of Brigadier and an IFS officer were among 40 people killed in a suicide bomb attack at the Indian embassy in Kabul.

A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-filled car into the gates of the Indian embassy in Kabul, leaving at least 40 people dead, officials and a witness said. ( Watch )

<!--QuoteBegin-Capt M Kumar+Jul 7 2008, 03:40 PM-->QUOTE(Capt M Kumar @ Jul 7 2008, 03:40 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin--><!--emo&:furious--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/furious.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='furious.gif' /><!--endemo--> KABUL: A defence attaché in the rank of Brigadier and an IFS officer were among 40 people killed in a suicide bomb attack at the Indian embassy in Kabul.

A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-filled car into the gates of the Indian embassy in Kabul, leaving at least 40 people dead, officials and a witness said. ( Watch )

<b>Capt M Kumar Ji :</b>

Now our Right Honourable Prime Minister will offer 100 CBMs to Pakistan, 200 CBMs to the Taliban and 400 CBMs to Al Qaeda. <!--emo&:furious--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/furious.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='furious.gif' /><!--endemo-->

Thank God there have been no Indian Muslim Deaths this time or be would have lost his Beauty Sleep.

Cheers <!--emo&:beer--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/cheers.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='cheers.gif' /><!--endemo-->
See, Moron Singh only see his bank balance if he signs N-Deal, rest why he should care about Indians who are killed by terrorist whether in India or abroad, till this honorable man bank balance remains honorable, "Sikhawa" (as he was labeled during his election run in Delhi) is happy even lying, robbing , whatever.

Moron SIngh believes in <i>less Indian less trouble more growth</i>
According to Skihawa logic, Now Brig and IFS officer died, two quick promotions, he can promote his own people.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Tragedy in Kabul </b>
The Pioneer Edit Desk
Make killers pay for spilling blood
The devastating attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul -- little purpose is served by pointing out the fact that the suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden car at the gate and thus spared the chancery building -- was, in a sense, waiting to happen. Ever since India took a conscious decision, and rightly so, to assist the Government of President Hamid Karzai in rebuilding Afghanistan, destroyed by civil war and Taliban depredation, with the strategic objective of stabilising that country, there has been disquiet on two fronts: The Pakistani establishment and its natural ally, the Al Qaeda-backed Taliban. Unlike the US-led Nato forces, which are on a military mission in Afghanistan, the large number of Indians in that country are involved in humanitarian work that has fetched universal appreciation from Afghans. With Mullah Omar and his jihadi thugs turning tail and fleeing Afghanistan in the winter of 2001, digging themselves into holes inside Pakistan, Afghans celebrated their liberation from the forces of evil by discarding the injunctions imposed by the peddlers of 'true' Islam. They rediscovered the little joys of life in Indian music, television soap operas and Bollywood films. Appalled by the increasing popularity of India -- which is really a throwback to the days before the US decided to join hands with Osama bin Laden to launch a jihad against Soviet troops in Afghanistan, using Pakistan as its base -- Islamabad has been seeking to regain control over what it considers is its backyard. The creation of the Taliban by Benazir Bhutto and the ISI, and the coming to power of the mullahs in Kabul, had afforded Pakistan its desired 'strategic depth', only to be robbed of it after 9/11.

It may not be possible to provide unimpeachable evidence about Pakistan's involvement in Monday's assault on the Indian mission in Kabul. But it would be foolish to be touched by the treacly concern voiced by Islamabad. There is ample proof of Pakistan's involvement in the terrorist attacks across Afghanistan, mounted by a resurgent Taliban and assisted by sections of the Pakistani Army. Mr Karzai has presented documented proof of Islamabad's complicity in seeking to foist the Taliban on Afghanistan; Nato commandors have presented similar evidence to the US Administration, showing how the Taliban is being armed and aided by Pakistani troops. The daring attempt to assassinate Mr Karzai on April 27 and the recent stunning jail break could not have been a purely Taliban initiative. Sadly, the US Administration has not gone beyond mildly reprimanding Pakistan; had it come down with a heavy hand, perhaps Afghanistan would have been spared much of its agony and pain, and the world would not have witnessed a suicide attack in what is supposed to be one of the most fortified areas of Kabul where the Indian Embassy is located. But even if Washington feels compelled to turn a blind eye to Islamabad's complicity in cross-border terrorism, New Delhi cannot remain irresolute in the face of such provocation. The tragic deaths of the defence attaché, the counsellor for political affairs and two Indian security personnel, apart from scores of others, notwithstanding, we must continue with our mission in Afghanistan. As for Pakistan, it's time we called their bluff and exposed the Pakistani establishment for what it is: A rogue entity comprising sponsors of terror who delight in gory bloodshed.

Yaya , have you seen any one paid price killing innocent Indians during Moron Singh and Queen great rule.
Nah! award should be given to Moron Singh and his team for long sleep.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Pakistan's proxy war </b>

Ashok Mehta

<b>For the country,</b> and the Congress-led Government especially, <b>it was a Black Monday</b>: Its Government in Jammu & Kashmir fell; the Left withdrew its support; it lost a few legislators in Karnataka to the BJP; and <b>horror of horrors, Pakistan formalised its proxy war against India in Afghanistan through a suicide attack targetting the Indian Embassy in Kabul.</b> The car bomb suicide attack, the deadliest in Kabul since 9/11, marks the culmination of the decade-long India-Pakistan covert pincer war in Afghanistan. <b>The Pakistan ISI-sponsored strike is the clearest signal that the gloves are off: Islamabad is reasserting the concept of strategic depth in Afghanistan and challenging interloper Delhi's foray into its legitimate sphere of influence.</b>

After the dismantling of the Taliban regime in Kabul, Pakistan has constantly feared encirclement by India especially after the Indian Air Force's new air base at Farkhor in Tajikistan and through its<b> soft power: Economic and humanitarian aid which has made a profound impression on Afghans.</b> If the theory of strategic encirclement is a viable one, India deserves credit for it given it does not have contiguous borders with Afghanistan. <b>India's strategic objectives in Afghanistan are best met with a pro-India Government in Kabul keeping an eye on Pakistan and access to resource-rich Central Asia.</b>

Islamabad's notion of strategic depth in Afghanistan is a keenly debated subject in Pakistan. Some experts, including former Army Chief Gen Jehangir Karamat, say it is an outdated concept, a relic of the Cold War. <b>Others, including the new Government, disagree.</b> It has, therefore, reinvented a more aggressive version of countering India's growing influence in Afghanistan which it believes has been encouraged by the Karzai Government to balance Pakistan.

<b>The Indian presence in Afghanistan, through its old and new Consulates at Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad and Kandahar, has stoked Pakistan's fears</b> that India's R&AW had set up these outposts, especially the last two, bordering Pakistan for running covert operations against Islamabad. It has alleged that R&AW is assisting the Baluchistan Liberation Army with arms and funds to foment the ongoing insurgency.

<b>The logic and framework of the India-Pakistan confrontation in Afghanistan is contained in a recent report published by the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies, titled India and Pakistan in Afghanistan: Hostile Sports.</b> Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have never been worse than now with Kabul accusing Islamabad of cross-border terrorism in the same tune as Delhi has been doing for decades. That makes both India and Afghanistan victims of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.

<b>It is not just in Afghanistan where Pakistan is seeking strategic depth but also in Jammu & Kashmir,</b> though the strategic focus has shifted from east to west with nearly 100,000 troops deployed on the Pakistan-Afghan border. Bulk of these forces were moved under US persuasion after 9/11 and included key strategic reserves earmarked against India. One of the reasons the Pakistan Army is reluctant to fight the terror war in the west is to regain the operational balance against Indian forces in the east.

<b>Another reason is to take the heat of the suicide attacks off Pakistan and transfer it to Afghanistan. That is the rationale of the peace deals with the old and new Taliban.</b> That the stage for the new proxy war between India and Pakistan is to be Afghanistan is confirmed by the <b>Rand Corporation's new report by Seth Jones, Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. He makes the assertive claim that ISI and Frontier Corps are aiding the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan with the primary aim of balancing India.</b>

The suicide attack, taking out the defence attaché , the political counsellor and ITBP guards comes after three successful strikes against Border Roads Organisation personnel this year in north-west Afghanistan. <b>The direct assault on the Indian Embassy was expected any time now. It represents a big blow to Western efforts to cobble together modest means of cooperation between India and Pakistan rather than outright confrontation in Afghanistan.</b>

<b>The India-Pakistan Joint Anti Terror Mechanism, which has made no breakthrough in providing clues to any of the recent terror attacks, could now break down.</b> As the <b>convener of the India-Pakistan Track II, I have been trying for the last two years without any modicum of success to keep the JATM afloat while urging retired Pakistani Generals and scholars on the seminar circuit to look beyond the fatigued notion of strategic depth. We had agreed to include cooperation in Afghanistan as the ninth item on the India-Pakistan composite dialogue and were also exploring other options for cooperation under the SAARC charter.</b>

As all three countries were victims of terrorism, besides the bilateral JATMs, a trilateral framework could be examined, it was agreed. Despite Afghan requests through the Jirgah, Pakistan has stubbornly refused to provide India with a trade transit corridor. <b>Islamabad fears that better and cheaper Indian goods would outclass its products. Pakistan feels that India, through its $ 800 million bilateral aid programme - the fifth largest - has reduced Islamabad to a fringe player in Afghanistan</b>.

<b>About 4,000 Indians are working in Afghanistan on projects which also involve 25 private companies. The thrust areas are infrastructure development, humanitarian assistance and institutional and human resource development. The reconstruction projects are chosen by the Afghan Government. Nearly 600 ITBP and CISF personnel are deployed for the security of these projects.</b> In view of the latest suicide attack, both the security structures and surveillance will have to be strengthened.

June was the bloodiest month in Afghanistan since the war on terror began in 2001. Even Iraq was tame by comparison. Most worrying is the path of the suicide bomber which is moving from Baghdad to Kabul to Islamabad with deadly lethality. <b>The first suicide attack in Afghanistan was in 2004 and altogether four that year. Next year, the number increased to 17. In 2006 and 2007, the figure catapulted to 123 and 117. This year, already the tally is 66, not to mention the nearly 100 attacks in Pakistan last year.</b>

The suicide scenario is chilling as there is no antidote to those willing to die. India has so far not fallen on the jihadi suicide path, but <b>the suicide bomber has reached our doorstep.</b> The diplomatic mask is likely to fall in the run up to the Assembly election in Jammu & Kashmir later this year. <b>Our intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies have to brace up for the new war which must be fought in Afghanistan - and if necessary in Pakistan.</b> If the terrorist threat emanating from Pakistan is not met collectively by the three SAARC countries, <b>it will have to be fought on India's terms</b>.


A few questions. So Track II was flourishing and had suggested a trilateral body as bilateral were failing. Looks like this is a response to the idea of tri-lateral body.

Also does the West provide intellectual justification for TSP with its numerous studies or does it just document the angst inside TSP? Either way an indicator seems to be the appearance of a new study from the Western experts!

Is the last para a forebodying of things to come or a threat?

And this op-ed confirms to me its a official TSP action and not a rogue one as the Indian press is trying deperately to portray.
India needs to strengthen its efforts in Afghanistan after the attack. Only way to defeat the porcelain-complexioned pomegranates of Allah.
Current Indian leadership lacks will and vision. How Indians are reacting, they are looking other direction? Difficult to say it was ISI work, as fundoos are blowing inside Land of pure.
It is possible some grudges against target guys by fundoos/war lord inside Kabul, they are not getting right price of right work. or message to someone inside to deliver what was promised to war-lord.
B.Raman is too quick to jump on Pakis,
How about uncle to tell MMS to line up on deal or Indian assets will get hit? The Taliban was quick to say they didnt do it. So they might be pointing to ISI/TSP. The Western experts are saying hte Haqqabi faction which is an ISI asset is the key. India is taking it as a TSP message and not random act of terror.

I think immediate they should increase the protection levels for the Embassy etc. Increase support to Afghans in counter terrorism independent of US and NATO.
Immediate thing to do is to strengthen efforts: increase protection, increase support etc..whatever it entails.

Does not matter who did it (as of right now. Of course it does, but not immediately. Because whoever did it is a jehadi). And thing #1 about jehadis: they will stay glued to any source of information (radio, TV etc) to see how you react after an attack. Islam is a very concrete and very primitive religion. No matter how sophististicatedly they "interpret" their laws, they are still very concrete; and no matter how sophisticated the explosives etc that they use, they are very primitive. They keep tabs on fear, like any animal does. They are emboldened by fear. They give chase when you run. Therefore, no show of fear/weakness can be allowed.

The good news is, the average Indic brain can outwit these pigs with consummate ease.

The better news is authentic Indic brains can outwit the pseudo Indic brains.
From Hindu

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Making the water boil in Afghanistan
Praveen Swami
Was the attack on the Indian mission in Kabul a one-off terror attack, or part of a calibrated Pakistani strategy? 

“The water in Afghanistan,” Pakistan President General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq told his spymaster Lieutenant-General Akhtar Abdul Rehman Khan in December 1979, “must boil at the right temperature.”

Ever since a car bomb ripped through the Indian mission in Kabul on Monday, India’s National Security Adviser, M.K. Narayanan, as well as top officials of the Research and Analysis Wing, the Intelligence Bureau and the Ministry of External Affairs, have all been focussed on just one question: was the attack a one-off strike by Islamist terror groups, or part of a focussed operation by Pakistan’s covert services to make the water in Afghanistan too hot for India to swim in?

Even though the Indian government has chosen not to point fingers in the wake of Monday’s bombing, Afghanistan has made clear that it sees no point in being coy. Its Interior Ministry has issued an official statement saying “this attack was carried out in coordination and consultation with an active intelligence service in the region.” Given that Afghanistan’s covert service, the Riyast-i-Amniyat-i-Milli, has produced dossier after dossier holding Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate responsible for a string of recent terror bombings, there is little doubt just who the unnamed intelligence service might be.

How plausible are these allegations?

Historical context

Answers lie in the quiet war India and Pakistan are waging in Afghanistan. Several commentators have suggested that India’s role in Afghanistan has something to do with its evolving strategic relationship with the United States. On point of fact, this assertion is ill-founded. From Afghanistan’s independence until the triumph of the Pakistan-backed mujahideen in 1992, New Delhi backed whoever was in power in Kabul.

India’s motives were simple. Ever since 1947, Pakistan had waged what Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru called “an informal war” to seize Jammu and Kashmir. By supporting Pakistan’s Afghan adversaries, India was returning the compliment.

Pakistan feared Kabul’s claims to represent all ethnic-Pashtuns. Afghanistan rejected the Durand Line, the colonial-era border that divides the Pashtun tribes. In 1973, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto even dismissed the government of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province on charges of conspiring to create Pakhtunkhwa, a united homeland for the tribes. Bhutto claimed the plot had the backing of Mohammad Daud Khan’s pro-Soviet Union regime in Afghanistan.

Islamabad, for its part, backed not a few plots of its own. Its covert services cultivated Islamists exiled by the Daud government, using religion to combat Pashtun nationalism. In July 1975, the ISI financed an attempted coup led by the future mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Even the 1992 mujahideen capture of Kabul did not fundamentally alter India’s strategic objectives in Afghanistan. Internal fighting between Hekmatyar and other mujahideen groups soon led to a situation where New Delhi was backing one or the other faction which found itself in opposition to Pakistan.

It was only with the rise of the Taliban that India, for the first time in the history of Afghanistan, found itself supporting an opposition group — the Northern Alliance led by Ahmad Shah Massoud. In 1996-1997, RAW initiated negotiations for the use of the Farkhor military airbase, 130 kilometres south-east of Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe. India operated a small military hospital at Farkhor but also used the base to ship high-altitude warfare supplies to the Northern Alliance, service the group’s Soviet Union-built MI-17 and MI-38 helicopters, and execute electronic intelligence-gathering operations.

RAW’s investments in supporting the Northern Alliance paid off. India’s political influence and intelligence capabilities grew significantly. For example, RAW is thought to have become the first intelligence service to have detected the so-called “Airlift of Evil” —the U.S.-sanctioned Pakistani evacuation of the Taliban and the al-Qaeda from the city of Kunduz in November 2002.

Not surprisingly, the annihilation of the Taliban after September 11, 2001, radically shifted the balance of power in Afghanistan in India’s favour. Indian consulates sprouted across Afghanistan, the vanguard of a massive aid and reconstruction programme that is still under way. It terrified Pakistan’s security establishment, which — correctly — saw India as a growing threat to its long-standing position as final arbiter of power in Afghanistan.

In July 2003, Islamabad officially expressed concern about Indian activities along Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan. Allegations followed that India was printing fake Pakistani currency in Afghanistan, to fund cross-border terror strikes. Pakistani newspapers quoted officials as claiming that India’s consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar were supplying cash and weapons to terrorists in south Waziristan. India was also accused of inciting Nangrahar province warlord Hazrat Ali to shell Pakistani forward positions in the Mohmand Agency. Soon after, Pakistan also accused India of running terror networks out of several Afghan military bases, including Qushila Jadid, north of Kabul; near Gereshk, in southern Helmand province; in the Panjshir Valley, northeast of Kabul; and at Kahak and Hassan Killie in western Nimruz.

Weeks after these allegations surfaced, India’s new consulate in Jalalabad came under grenade attack. Although no lives were lost in the September 1, 2003 strikes, India correctly understood them as a warning. Afghanistan investigators later arrested seven local residents for their role in the attack. They are believed to have confessed that they carried out the strikes on orders from intelligence handlers in Pakistan.

As the Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti-led Baloch insurgency against Pakistan escalated from 2004, Islamabad’s allegations grew more strident. In August 2004, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yusuf declared that India was running 40 terror camps targeting the province — this after months of claims that the Baloch Liberation Army did not exist! At the beginning of July 2006, Mushahid Husain, the chair of the Pakistan Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, asserted that RAW was “training 600 Balochis in Afghanistan.” He charged India with “propping up the Baloch war” and lashed out at the Riyast-i-Amniyat-i-Milli and the Afghan border police for liaising with RAW.

Were these charges true? It is hard to say. Credible allegations exist that India offered low-grade funding for Baloch insurgents in the wake of the 1971 Bangladesh war of liberation — but then withdrew support to avoid destabilising Prime Minister Bhutto. It is probable, though not proved, that India also held out some financial support to Bugti and other Baloch nationalist leaders.

Having said that, such support could have been provided whether or not India was in Afghanistan — and some of Pakistan’s allegations have been farcical. Senator Hussain, for example, charged India with building up a military presence in Afghanistan. Just why Hussain was so alarmed by the presence of what he himself admitted was a “company strength” presence of Indo-Tibetan Border Police Guards — assigned to Afghanistan after the killing of an India road-construction engineer in November 2005 by the Taliban — is unclear. Some Pakistani newspapers have also reported that India has decided to send peacekeepers to Afghanistan at the behest of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. In fact, both the U.S. and the United Kingdom, ever-sensitive to actions which might hurt Pakistan, have been pressuring India to scale down its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan — let alone sending troops there.

‘Proxy war’

As the French scholar-diplomat Frederic Grare has pointed out, India and Pakistan are “fighting an emerging proxy-war in still war-torn Afghanistan.” “The real question,” he suggested in a paper for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “is not whether it is happening but its actually intensity.” Grare argued that while there is “little doubt that India has a strong intelligence presence in Afghanistan, this does not necessarily mean it is conducting special operations. But even if it does so, are they militarily significant? The local situation in both Waziristan and Balochistan has been such that Pakistan would have been in trouble in the two areas, irrespective of whether India engaged actively in subversive operations in these regions.”

From the point of view of Pakistan’s covert services, though, time is running out. Despite the revival of its Islamist allies in Afghanistan, Pakistan is more estranged from the country’s political elite and its people than at any time in the past.

At the same time, India has succeeded in consolidating its presence. Farkhor, India’s only military base outside its territory, is thought to have been in a state of full operational readiness since last year, offering New Delhi’s armed forces unprecedented strategic reach. Afghanistan’s membership of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement will strengthen its trade ties with India, which is now the largest regional donor to that country’s reconstruction programme.

India has helped to rebuild roads — including the crucial Kandahar-Iran highway that will relieve Afghanistan of its dependence on Pakistan — airlines, and power plants, and provides support to the health and education sectors. Afghan civil servants, diplomats, and police officials are being trained by India and its elected representatives meet in a building India helped to construct.

In coming weeks and months, Afghan investigators — and India’s covert services —should have a clearer idea of just who carried out the bombings. If the ISI does turn out to have had a role in the enterprise, it is probable that more attacks on Indian targets in Afghanistan will follow. In that event, the question before Indian strategists will be just what New Delhi can do to deter an enterprise intended to deny it the fruits of its hard-won influence in Afghanistan.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Kabul victims Brig Mehta, Rao cremated </b>
Pioneer News Service | New Delhi/ Hyderabad
The body of Brig Ravi Datt Mehta, India's Defence Attache in Afghanistan who was killed in the dastardly Kabul suicide bomb attack on the Indian Embassy on Monday along with IFS officer VV Rao, and two other Indians, were cremated here on Tuesday. 

Despite a drizzle, Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor led mourners and wreaths were placed on behalf of the President of India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Defence Minister AK Antony.

Senior IFS officer Rao, was also cremated at the same site at Brar Square cemetery in the Delhi Cantonment later in the day.

<b>Heartrending scenes were witnessed at the cremation when Rao's 11-year-old son Karthick broke down while performing the last rites. The class VIII student wept inconsolably as he came forward to lit his father's funeral pyre. Tears gushed down his face even as his uncle, relatives and his father's colleagues tried to console him saying that his father "had laid down his life for the nation".

Rao's wife Malathi, a special instructor at a Sanskrit School in the Capital, and her daughter Amulya, a school student, also had their eyes wet throughout the hour-long funeral ceremony held at Brar Square cemetery at the Cantonement.</b>

Recalling his association with Mehta when he was heading the Udhampur-based Northern Command, Army chief told his grieving family, "We bid farewell to a fine soldier".

<b>Wife of the slain Brigadier, Sunita, and the children, Udit and Bhawiya, close relatives and associates of Mehta in the Army, though grief-stricken, maintained their poise at the funeral, as Udit, a flight lieutenant posted at Jodhpur, lit the pyre</b>.

Men of the Rajputana Rifles gave a 21-gun salute as bugles sounded the last post as Udit Mehta performed the last rites.

Earlier, Army officers handed over the Tricolour used for draping Mehta's coffin and his uniform to Sunita as a mark of respect to the gallant officer.

Udit Mehta later told mediapersons that his father had been his hero all along and would continue to remain one.

"My dad made the country proud. Rather than remember the end, I would remember him for how he lived," Udit said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal announced in Shimla that the State Government would honour Himachal-born Brigadier Mehta and ITBP soldier Roop Singh, who were among the two ITBP jawans who died in the bomb blast, reports PTI.

Dhumal said the State Government had great respect for Defence personnel and always worked for their welfare.

Brigadier Mehta was born in Kelyston estate, Bhrari, in Shimla. His father Shiv Dutt Mehta is a retired Himachal administrative service officer.

Roop Singh hailed from Dhaban village of Mandi district. His body was brought to his village on Tuesday and cremated in the village. He is survived by a son, a student of class VIII, a daughter who studies in class VI and wife Neera Devi (33).

Meanwhile, the death of Rao in the suicide attack in Kabul has left his home State Andhra Pradesh shocked and grief-stricken.

The news came as a bolt from the blue for his elderly parents in the coastal district of East Godavari. V Appalacharyulu (65) and Subhadramma (60) received the news of their eldest son's tragic death from their grand-daughter 11-year-old Amulya in New Delhi.

The parents, who were numbed by the news, left for New Delhi on Tuesday to attend the funeral. They were keenly waiting for their son's arrival next month to celebrate his 45th birthday. "He had promised to celebrate the birthday with us and take us to Delhi," a grief stricken Appalacharyulu told mediapersons before leaving Hyderabad for New Delhi.

"Our son was insisting for quite some time that we should move to Delhi and live with his wife and two children. But we were reluctant to move out of our hometown," said Subhadramma, who lives with her husband in a housing colony, five kms away from Rajahmundry town.

<b>6 killed in attack on Jalalabad Indian Consulate</b> <!--emo&:furious--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/furious.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='furious.gif' /><!--endemo-->

<b>LAHORE : Taliban claimed to have killed two Indians and four others in an attack on the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad in Afghanistan,</b> a private television channel reported on Thursday.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Geo News by telephone that his men attacked the Indian Consulate with bombs killing six men, including two Indian nationals, and injuring eight. According to the channel, the injured also include Indian nationals and Afghan security personnel.

Cheers <!--emo&:beer--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/cheers.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='cheers.gif' /><!--endemo-->
The Pakistani newspaper The News quoted official and tribal sources in the North Waziristan area as saying NATO troops had started arriving near the border areas on Monday night.

"Some of them had been brought in choppers and others by armoured personnel carriers. The troops had also shifted heavy arms and ammunition including tanks, heavy machine guns and artillery to the border," Haji Yaqub, a resident of the border town of Ghulam Khan, said.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar has said that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's recent statements have provided the US-led NATO forces with an opportunity to deploy near the tribal areas.

"When a responsible person like the prime minister has himself said that foreign militants were hiding in Pakistani tribal areas and could cause another 9/11 like disaster, then who will stop American forces from invading the country?" Omar wondered.
<b>Afghan secret service alerted India on terror cell</b>
An interesting news item from the International Herald Tribune


CIA outlines Pakistan links with militants
By Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt

Wednesday, July 30, 2008
WASHINGTON: A top Central Intelligence Agency official traveled secretly to Islamabad this month to confront Pakistan's most senior officials with new information about ties between the country's powerful spy service and militants operating in Pakistan's tribal areas, according to American military and intelligence officials.

The CIA emissary presented evidence showing that members of the spy service had deepened their ties with some militant groups that were responsible for a surge of violence in Afghanistan, possibly including the suicide bombing this month of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, the officials said.

The decision to confront Pakistan with what the officials described as a new CIA assessment of the spy service's activities seemed to be the bluntest American warning to Pakistan since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks about the ties between the spy service and Islamic militants.

The CIA assessment specifically points to links between members of the spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, which American officials believe maintains close ties to senior figures of Al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas.

The CIA has depended heavily on the ISI for information about militants in Pakistan, despite longstanding concerns about divided loyalties within the Pakistani spy service, which had close relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks.

That ISI officers have maintained important ties to anti-American militants has been the subject of previous reports in The New York Times. But the CIA and the Bush administration have generally sought to avoid criticism of Pakistan, which they regard as a crucial ally in the fight against terrorism.

The visit to Pakistan by the CIA official, Stephen R. Kappes, the agency's deputy director, was described by several American military and intelligence officials in interviews in recent days. Some of those who were interviewed made clear that they welcomed the decision by the CIA to take a harder line toward the ISI's dealings with militant groups.

Pakistan's prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, is currently in Washington meeting with Bush administration officials. A White House spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, would not say whether President George W. Bush had raised the issue during his meeting on Monday with Gilani. In an interview broadcast Tuesday on the PBS program "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," Gilani said he rejected as "not believable" any assertions of ISI's links to the militants. "We would not allow that," he said.

The Haqqani network and other militants operating in the tribal areas along the Afghan border are said by American intelligence officials to be responsible for increasingly deadly and complex attacks inside Afghanistan, and to have helped Al Qaeda establish a safe haven in the tribal areas.

Lieutenant General Martin Dempsey, the acting commander of American forces in Southwest Asia, made an unannounced visit to the tribal areas on Monday, a further reflection of American concern.

The ISI has for decades maintained contacts with various militant groups in the tribal areas and elsewhere, both for gathering intelligence and as proxies to exert influence on neighboring India and Afghanistan. It is unclear whether the CIA officials have concluded that contacts between the ISI and militant groups are blessed at the highest levels of Pakistan's spy service and military, or are carried out by rogue elements of Pakistan's security apparatus.

With Pakistan's new civilian government struggling to assert control over the country's spy service, there are concerns in Washington that the ISI may become even more powerful than when President Pervez Musharraf controlled the military and the government. Last weekend, Pakistani military and intelligence officials thwarted an attempt by the government in Islamabad to put the ISI more directly under civilian control.

Kappes made his secret visit to Pakistan on July 12, joining Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for meetings with senior Pakistani civilian and military leaders.

"It was a very pointed message saying, 'Look, we know there's a connection, not just with Haqqani but also with other bad guys and ISI, and we think you could do more and we want you to do more about it,' " one senior American official said of the message to Pakistan. The official was briefed on the meetings; like others who agreed to talk about it, he spoke on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic delicacy of Kappes's message.

The meetings took place days after a suicide bomber attacked the Indian Embassy in Kabul, killing dozens. Afghanistan's government has publicly accused the ISI of having a hand in the attack, an assertion American officials have not corroborated.

The decision to have Kappes deliver the message about the spy service was an unusual one, and could be a sign that the relationship between the CIA and the ISI, which has long been marked by mutual suspicion as well as mutual dependence, may be deteriorating.

The trip is reminiscent of a secret visit that the top two American intelligence officials made to Pakistan in January. Those officials — Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, and Michael Hayden, the CIA director — sought to press Musharraf to allow the CIA greater latitude to operate in the tribal territories.

It was the ISI, backed by millions of covert dollars from the CIA, that ran arms to guerrillas fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s. It is now American troops who are dying in Afghanistan, and intelligence officials believe those longstanding ties between Pakistani spies and militants may be part of an effort to destabilize Afghanistan.

Spokesmen for the White House and the CIA declined to comment about the visit by Kappes or about the agency's assessment. A spokesman for Mullen, Captain John Kirby, declined to comment on the meetings, saying "the chairman desires to keep these meetings private and therefore it would be inappropriate to discuss any details."

Mullen and Kappes met in Islamabad with several high-ranking Pakistani officials. They included Gilani; Musharraf; General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the army chief of staff and former ISI director; and Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj, the current ISI director.

One American counterterrorism official said there was no evidence of Pakistan's government's direct support of Al Qaeda. He said, however, there were "genuine and longstanding concerns about Pakistan's ties to the Haqqani network, which of course has links to Al Qaeda."

American commanders in Afghanistan have in recent months sounded an increasingly shrill alarm about the threat posed by Haqqani's network. Earlier this year, American military officials pressed the American ambassador in Pakistan, Anne Patterson, to get Pakistani troops to strike Haqqani network targets in the tribal areas.

General Dan McNeill, the senior NATO commander in Afghanistan until last month, frequently discussed the ISI's contacts with militant groups with General Kayani, Pakistan's military chief.

During his visit to the tribal areas on Monday, Dempsey met with top Pakistani commanders in Miramshah, the capital of North Waziristan, where Pakistan's 11th Army Corps and Frontier Corps paramilitary force have a headquarters, to discuss the security situation in the region, Pakistani officials said.

North Waziristan, the most lawless of the tribal areas, is a hub of Al Qaeda and other foreign fighters, and the base of operations for the Haqqani network.

On Tuesday, Pakistani security forces raided an abandoned seminary owned by Haqqani, Pakistani officials said. No arrests were made.


Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune | www.iht.com


You may note it clearly links Pakistan with the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul.
<b>MI6-ISI collusion to break up Pakistan </b>
Ramtanu Maitra

The massive suicide bomb attack on July 7, which killed 41 people at the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, including the Indian military attaché and counsellor, indicates the ruthlessness of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)-British MI6-aided Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban, to break up Pakistan and create a new and unstable nation bordering resource-rich Central Asia and Iran. Although Western media is keen to blame the ‘Taliban,’ it is clear that the Afghan Taliban was not involved, and that it was the handiwork of the TTP.
A day earlier, on the first anniversary of the Pakistani Army's raid of Lal Masjid at the heart of the capital, Islamabad, a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing at least 19 people, mostly police officers. On the day the Indian Embassy was attacked, terror struck Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, six times within an hour, as unknown terrorists triggered a series of blasts that wounded over 50 people, including children and policemen. Karachi, the largest Pakistani port, is the main disembarkation station of nearly 70% of the supplies that go to Afghanistan by road to the battling US/NATO troops. The supplies pass through the famed Khyber Pass - a 30-mile stretch between the Khyber Hills. At the time of writing, the Khyber Pass and a part of Peshawar city, 22 miles east of the Pass, remain infested with militant local tribes working hand-in-glove with the TTP.

The only way to comprehend what is happening is to first step back, and look at the key geo-strategic puppet-master in the region: the British Empire.

British Geo-strategy for the Subcontinent

British policy toward South Asia and the Middle East is uniformly colonial, and vastly different from that of the United States. Even today, when Washington is powered by people with tunnel vision at best, US policy is not to break up nations, but to control the regime, or, as has become more prevalent in recent years under the influence of the arrogant neo-cons, to force regime change. While this often creates a messy situation - for example, in Iraq - the US would prefer to avoid such outcomes.

Britain, on the other hand, built its geo-strategic vision in the post-colonial days through the creation of a mess, and furthering the mess, to break up a country. This policy results in a long-drawn process of violent disintegration. That is the process now on display in Pakistan, as well as in many other nations, including Zimbabwe and Kenya - where the British colonial forces had hunted before, and still pull significant strings.

When the British left the Indian subcontinent in 1947, it was divided into India and Pakistan. The British colonial geo-strategists, coming out of World War II, realized the importance of controlling the oil and gas fields. If possession could not be maintained, the strategists argued, Britain and its allies must remain at a striking distance, to ensure their control of these raw material reserves, and deny them to others. At the end of British rule, Pakistan consisted of East Pakistan (since liberated to form Bangladesh) and West Pakistan. West Pakistan's western wing (west of River Indus) bordering Afghanistan and Iran, consisted of Baluchistan, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Tribal areas.

North of all these, was the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which was a princely state under the Maharaja of Kashmir. Of the three areas, Baluchistan and the Tribal areas had not been brought under British occupation and were kept instead as British protectorates because the Tribals were ferocious and made it clear they would not accept British troops within their territories. Moreover, the British crown figured that these areas would act as a buffer with Afghanistan, where the British were worried the Russians would show up.

Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP), however, is a different story. The NWFP, inhabited by Pushtun Muslims, was under the Indian National Congress, and led by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a close associate of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Ghaffar Khan had no intention of joining Pakistan, but when the British called for a referendum to decide which way the NWFP would go, Ghaffar Khan decided not to let his party participate, ostensibly because he feared violence. Because of this, the referendum won by only 50.49% in favor of joining with Pakistan.

Britain did not want India to have any direct land link either to Afghanistan, or Russia, or Iran. In the North, when the dispute over the status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) arose, India's access to the North was blocked as well. <b>The Kashmir dispute, the handiwork of London, showed what the British were looking for. Using a large number of Mirpuris (Mirpur is part of J&K) who had migrated to Britain soon after the partition, the MI6 built up a very strong anti-India lobby in J&K and encouraged the demand for an independent Kashmir. At the same time, MI6 lent a hand to the Pakistani ISI, to implement terrorist acts within the India-held part of J&K which would undermine India's efforts to stabilize the area</b>. The policy has not worked so far, but a royal mess has been made, thanks partly to India's misguided policies.

The MI6 mouthpiece, and a link to the British colonial establishment, was Eric Lubbock (Lord Avebury). He was the first British MP to publicly support the Kashmiri secessionist movement, which he did in an address to a secessionist group, JKLF (Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front), at a conference in London, in 1991. There he also announced his support for an armed struggle, according to The Dawn of Karachi. In a March 1995 issue of the JKLF's Kashmir Report, Lubbock condemned Indian policy in Kashmir as equivalent to what would have occurred if “Britain had been invaded in 1940” and suffered Nazi occupation. He demanded Indian troops be withdrawn. “New Delhi fails to understand that if peaceful initiatives are thwarted, the inevitable result will be further violence,” he threatened. Lubbock is still around pushing colonial policies.

Who Are the Afghan Taliban?

For the uninitiated, it is important to realize that there exists a distinction between the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban. The Afghan Taliban, along with many other Afghans, are engaged in a war against the occupying US and NATO troops, with the objective of driving them away so they can gain control of their land. These Afghans are ready to fight any foreign troops, be they American, British, Canadian, or German. But they have no intention of doing harm to others who have not lent troops to the occupying forces. The Afghan Taliban would accept help from anyone, including the Pakistani Taliban, or any jihadi group functioning along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, including the much-vaunted al-Qaeda. It must be noted that no Afghan Taliban has ever been spotted, either in Iraq, or Palestine, where Western or pro-Western troops are engaged in battling local Islamic groups.

While it is true the Afghan Taliban have no love for Indians, they would not risk setting up a large operation of the kind that must have preceded the attack on the Indian Embassy. The Afghan Taliban control large swathes of land in southern and eastern Afghanistan, but ground information suggests they still are not in a position to carry out major attacks inside Kabul. Last April, an elaborate operation was put in place to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. Initially, the operation was attributed to the Afghan Taliban, but later Afghan authorities charged that it was the Pakistani ISI behind the failed attempt.

The Pakistani Taliban are an altogether different kettle of fish, and are presently involved in breaking up Pakistan on behalf the geo-strategic interests of the British colonials. This outfit, besides having a large number of tribes representing Pakistan's virtually ungoverned Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Northern Areas bordering Afghanistan and the disputed Jammu and Kashmir, is guided by the Pakistani ISI and British MI6. Pakistani tribal groups, who have never formally accepted Islamabad's authority, see in the present situation an opportunity to carve out a separate nation bordering Afghanistan in the West and River Indus in the East. This objective, however far-fetched it may have seemed just months ago, is now a distinct possibility, not only because the ISI and MI6 have chalked out a design for achieving it, but also because of Washington's reckless approach to taming the Taliban and al-Qaeda at any cost, including undermining Pakistan's sovereignty.

The increasing disintegration of Pakistan's political establishment has added to the threat. The ISI has been deeply infiltrated by MI6, and the Pakistani Army does not have the will to engage in a bloody civil war to prevent another break-up; nor does Pakistan's weak political elite have a clue as to how to integrate the increasingly militant tribal areas with Pakistan.

ISI-MI6 Link-Up

On the other hand, there exists a policy agreement between the ISI and MI6. Following the withdrawal of the defeated Soviet Army in 1989, the ISI moved in to arm and train the Taliban. The intelligence agency also brought in al-Qaeda, and was in the process of developing what is called “strategic depth,” which, it argued, was necessary to protect the country from its “mortal enemy” India. The civilian governments in Islamabad, under the late Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, had little choice but to allow the Pakistani Army and the ISI to pursue this objective.

After 9/11, the scene changed rapidly. The Bush Administration identified Afghanistan, which was under Taliban rule, as the staging ground of al-Qaeda, and invaded the country with the intent of eliminating both the Taliban and al-Qaeda, in one fell swoop. Neither the ISI, and by extension, a section of the Pakistani Army, nor the British colonial operatives, wanted these assets, set up over years with the intent of controlling Central Asia, and undermining Russia, China, and India, to be sacrificed. Pakistan's ungoverned FATA immediately became the shelter of many facing Washington's wrath. In December 2001, Asia Times reported that the former ISI chief and close collaborator of MI6, “Hamid Gul, nicknamed the ‘Godfather of the Taliban,’ is believed to be behind moves to help the Taliban establish a base in Pakistan's autonomous Pushtun tribal belt.”

The added irony is that Washington's foolhardy approach involves two of its “best allies” -Britain and Pakistan - who had built up these assets and were keen to protect them from Washington's missiles and rockets. The outcome of Washington's policy is now plain for everyone to see: Having routed the Taliban, and driven them from power within weeks following the invasion, almost six and a half years later, Washington is now facing an enemy which is surely much stronger than ever before. The credit for this goes to the ISI and MI6. Both have come to realize that not only can the assets be protected, they can be “officially” lodged in a country carved out of Pakistan.

What Drives the ISI?

The question is, why would the Pakistani ISI want the separation? Putting aside British control over ISI for the moment, what must be recognized is that the ISI was the brainchild of an Australian-born British intelligence officer, Maj. Gen. R. Cawthorn, Deputy Chief of Staff in the Pakistan Army in 1948, who later served in Australia as head of their Secret Intelligence Service. The ISI was structured to be manned by officers from the three main military services, and to specialize in the collection, analysis, and assessment of external intelligence, either military or non-military. At the time, as even today, ISI considered India its “mortal enemy,” and the key to hurting India was to wrest control of Jammu and Kashmir, where Muslims are in majority.

There is yet another “meeting of minds” between MI6 and the ISI in recent days: their mutual hatred of Afghan President Karzai. ISI rejected Karzai out of hand because the Afghan President is close to India, and even Russia - but cool toward Pakistan. So, ISI feels it necessary to replace Karzai with someone who will be pro-Pakistan and anti-India.

Nor does MI6 like Karzai, and has joined ISI to remove him because he is controlled from Washington and has become openly anti-British: Last December, when Karzai learned that two British MI6 agents were working under cover of the United Nations and the European Union, behind his back, to finance and negotiate with the Taliban, he expelled them from Afghanistan. One of them, a Briton, Michael Semple, was working as the acting head of the EU mission in Afghanistan, and is widely known as a close confidant of Britain's ambassador, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles. The second, an Irishman, Mervin Patterson, is the third-ranking UN official in Afghanistan.

These MI6 agents were entrusted by London with the task of using Britain's 7,700 troops in the opium-infested, Pushtun-dominated southern Afghanistan province of Helmand to train 2,000 Afghan militants, ostensibly to “infiltrate” the enemy and “seek intelligence” about the lethal arms of the real Taliban. Karzai rightly saw it as Britain's efforts to develop a lethal group within Afghanistan.

Around the same time, Karzai was under pressure from Britain, the US, and the UN, to appoint Lord Paddy Ashdown, a British Liberal Democrat, as UN Special Envoy to Afghanistan. Ashdown had left his “viceregal” mark while serving as the High Representative of the United Nations for Bosnia a few years ago. Anticipating that Ashdown, true to his reputation in the Balkans, would function like a colonial viceroy under orders from London, Karzai summarily called off the appointment. This decision raised hackles in London and elsewhere.

MI6-ISI's Anti-Russia Ties

During the Cold War, the Pakistani ISI was not only training and infiltrating armed militants inside Indian Jammu & Kashmir, but was utilized by the British to create security problems on Russia's southern flank. When the Soviets bumbled into Afghanistan with thousands of troops and tanks, ISI and MI6, along with the CIA, joined forces in the early 1980s to recruit mujahideen to fight the Red Army. MI6 turned over to the ISI some of their assets in the London-based organization known as al-Muhajiroun, or The Emigrants. This became the recruiting arm of al-Qaeda in London, and was used for terrorist work. The first groups were Pakistanis; they were followed by Somalis and Eritreans, among others. Al-Muhajiroun operated at the time under the armless Omar Bakri Muhammad, known as “Captain Hook,” Imam of Finsbury Mosque in London.

Coincidentally, in 1983, the British-based World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), headed by Prince Philip, which provides the staging grounds for operations of MI6 and other British intelligence outfits, suggested that two national parks be created in Pakistan's Northwest, and although rather thin in natural wildlife, the preserves have proved excellent for growing poppy and training and staging mujahideen incursions into Afghanistan.

But, in the post-Cold War days, particularly after 9/11, Washington moved closer to India, which went from being a “Soviet puppet,” as it was labelled by some American analysts, into becoming a US ally. Following 9/11, Washington made it a point to seek India's help in fighting the war on terror. Although India never supplied Washington with troops, New Delhi strongly supported Washington's war on terror policy. At the same time, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf embraced this Washington-led policy, putting the ISI in limbo. <b>With the anti-India angle suddenly removed, the ISI became vulnerable to the British plan to create a separate Islamic state, carved out of Pakistan, located on the threshold of Central Asia. MI6 succeeded in reigniting ISI's aspiration to liberate Jammu and Kashmir as its prime mission. The attack on the Indian Embassy on July 7 was a statement of that objective. </b>Musharraf on the MI6 Role

The interweaving of British MI6 and the Pakistani ISI is too elaborate to fully describe here. But, to get an idea, consider this example: Pakistani President Musharraf, in his book, In the Line of Fire, stated that Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a Britain-born Pakistani who has been accused of kidnapping and killing Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl in Karachi in 2002, was originally recruited by MI6, while studying at the London School of Economics. He alleged that Omar Sheikh was sent to the Balkans by MI6 to engage in jihadi operations. Musharraf added: “at some point, he [Omar Sheikh] probably became a rogue or double agent.”

On Oct. 6, 2001, a senior US government official told CNN that US investigators had discovered that Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, using the alias ‘Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad,’ had sent about $100,000 from the United Arab Emirates to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers. “Investigators said Atta then distributed the funds to conspirators in Florida in the weeks before the deadliest acts of terrorism on US soil that destroyed the World Trade Center, heavily damaged the Pentagon and left thousands dead.”

Beyond that, the Saeed Sheikh affair shines a bright light on MI6-ISI links. More than a month after the money transfer was discovered, the head of ISI, Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, resigned from his position. It was reported that the FBI was investigating the possibility that it had been General Ahmed who ordered Saeed Sheikh to send $100,000 to Atta. There were reports that Indian intelligence had already produced proof for the Pakistani administration that this was so.

Even more important are the joint operations between MI6 and ISI. The export of jihad to the Central Asian republics to pressure the countries of the former USSR was a joint venture of the ISI, Pakistan's Jamaati Islam (JI), and Hezbe Islami Afghanistan. It is also documented that the MI6 directly deposited money into an account in the name of Amir Qazi Hussain Ahmed of Pakistan's JI, which Qazi used to pump Islamic literature and money into the Central Asian republics to incite the local Naqshbandi circles (Sufis) to rebel against the governments.

Khalistan and the Assassination of Indira Gandhi

Britain's other gross interference to undermine Indian sovereignty with the help of the ISI became evident during the Khalistani movement in Punjab in the 1980s. A number of militant Sikh-led organizations, such as the Dal Khalsa, Babbar Khalsa, Council of Khalistan, the Khalistan Government-in-Exile, and the Sikh Federation were headquartered in Britain. The Sikh Federation was formed after the 2001 proscription by the British government of the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), while the Babbar Khalsa cadres started working under the aegis of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha (AKJ), another militant group, after the ban imposed by the British government. Moreover, the top leaders of the Khalistani movement, Jagjit Singh Chauhan and Gurmej Singh of the Khalistan Government-in-Exile, used Britain to call for an independent Punjab (Khalistan), yanked out of India.

Although the Khalistani movement is no longer visible, London still carries the Khalistani flag. In a highly significant development for the internationalization of the Sikh freedom struggle, representatives from a range of leading Sikh organizations met with high-ranking officials of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on Aug. 15, 2007, in London, in order to seek British support for the Sikh nation's right to self-determination.

Goaded and helped by MI6 and Britain's colonial geo-strategists, ISI did its best to create chaos within Punjab during that period. At the time the Khalistani movement had grown dangerous following the Indian Army's raid of the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine in Amritsar, and of the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the Pakistani ISI chief was Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, who is now leading the charge on behalf of the Pakistani Taliban to undermine Pakistan's sovereignty.

According to an Indian intelligence analyst, in 1988, when Benazir Bhutto became prime minister, Gul justified backing the Khalistani terrorists as the only way to preempt a fresh Indian threat to Pakistan's territorial integrity. When Mrs. Bhutto asked Gul to stop playing that card, he reportedly told her: “Madam, keeping Punjab destabilized is equivalent to the Pakistan Army having an extra division at no cost to the taxpayers.” Gul strongly advocated supporting indigenous Kashmiri groups, but was against infiltrating Pakistani and Afghan mercenaries into Jammu and Kashmir. He believed Pakistan would play into India's hands by doing so, the analyst pointed out.

The Kingpin
This brings us to the leading collaborator of British MI6 within Pakistan, Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul.</b> Driven by his anti-India zeal, and now, with an equally zealous Islamic fervour, Gul is perhaps the most dangerous individual in Pakistan today. As his support for the Pakistani Taliban is expected to unleash more violence in the coming days, Gul will become even more powerful. It is widely acknowledged, even by the CIA, that Gul played a key role in helping to train and arm the Afghan Taliban in the 1990s. He had extensive liaison with Osama bin Laden, now hated, but liked immensely earlier by the CIA-MI6-ISI trio, while that Yemeni-Saudi was in Afghanistan.

Since the Lal Masjid raid by the Pakistani Army at the behest of President Musharraf last July, to free the mosque of jihadis and Pakistani Taliban, Gul has become violently anti-Musharraf. The July 15, 2007 London Times reported comments by Gul following the Lal Masjid conflict: “The government is trying to hide the number of young girls killed. As the truth comes out that young girls were gassed and burnt, riddled with bullets and killed, it'll be bad for Musharraf.”

BBC reported Gul's views on jihad, criticizing Musharraf for seeking to stop jihadists, and challenging: “Who is Pervez Musharraf to say we should stop Jihad, when the Koran says it and when the United Nations Charter backs it up? Musharraf says: ‘Stop the jihad, do this, that and the other.’ No, no, no. He cannot. <b>There is a clear-cut Koranic injunction</b>.”

UPI and Washington Times have quoted Gul's interview in Pakistan's Urdu newspaper Nawa-e-Waqt where he stated: “The leadership vacuum created by the sad demise of [Palestinian] President [Yasser] Arafat can only be filled by Osama bin Laden and [Taliban leader] Mullah [Mohammad] Omar, the real leaders that are the only dedicated individuals with the mass support of the Muslim world.”

It is likely that Gul was directly involved in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto had contended that the rise of extremism in Pakistan could not have happened without support from government agencies, including the military and the powerful ISI. She added that though Baitullah Mahsud, front-man of MI6 and ISI in the TTP, had reportedly threatened to send suicide bombers against her if she returned to Pakistan, the real danger came from extremist elements within the government that were opposed to her. “I'm not worried about Mahsud, I'm worried about the threat within the government,” she told the London Guardian. “People like Mahsud are just pawns. It is the forces behind them that have presided over the rise of extremism and militancy in my country.”

Despite his inciting speeches and his role on behalf of terrorists masquerading as jihadis, Gul remains virtually untouchable. Following the imposition of emergency by President Musharraf on Nov. 3, 2007, Gul demonstrated against the Presidential order. He was arrested, but Musharraf had to release him within two weeks. It is evident that Hamid Gul has become too powerful and that he enjoys high-level protection. Cui bono?

The author is South Asian Analyst at Executive Intelligence Review News Services Inc.

Breaking News -
Al-Zawari may be dead on yesterday's attack on his hide out.
UK/US is helping create the Pakiban state. The US financial crisis and being duped by TSP in their war on terror has led to this. At the root of teh Kunduz airlift am sure there will be UK advice. I think Karzai and the Durrani type Pashtuns are history. What we are seeing is the slow and orderly transition to the Islamist Pastuns and the end of sarkari Pashtuns. Expect the Northern Alliance to get hit hard by the new Pakiban and the Durrani type Pashtuns totally marginalized. The Great Game is still going on.

A fatal flaw in Afghan peace process <i>by M K Bhadrakumar</i>: Asia Times Online

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->With the reported intra-Afghan talks under the mediation of Saudi Arabia in Mecca on September 24-27, attention inevitably shifts to the hidden aspects of the "war on terror" in Afghanistan - the geopolitics of the war. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has committed to pulling out Canadian troops from Afghanistan in 2011, let the cat out of the bag last week when he said that some Western leaders wrongly believed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops could stay there forever.

"One of the things I disagree with some other Western leaders is that our [NATO] plan can be somehow to stay in Afghanistan militarily indefinitely," Harper said during a televised election campaign debate in Ottawa. What lends particular importance to Harper's statement is that he has shifted from his earlier position that Canada wouldn't leave Afghanistan until that country was able to cope for itself.

He stressed the importance of a timeline for the NATO presence in Afghanistan, "If we are to truly pacify that country and see its evolution ... we won't achieve such a target unless we actually set a deadline and work to meet it ... If we never leave, will the job ever get done?" Harper revealed he had made this point to both US presidential candidates, Democratic Senator Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain.

The Saudi role in mediating the intra-Afghan talks will bring to the fore the geopolitics of the Afghan war. This is already evident from the contradictory reports regarding the talks in Mecca.

There is acute embarrassment in Kabul that any premature leak may only help undercut further the credibility of the political edifice housing President Hamid Karzai. Kabul took the easy route by refusing to acknowledge that any talks took place during the Iftar in Mecca.

<b>CNN broke the story in a London </b>datelined report on Monday quoting authoritative sources that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia hosted high-level talks in Mecca between the Afghan government and Taliban who "are severing their ties with al-Qaeda".

The quibbling by the Kabul spokesman is typically Afghan. Can a get-together in the nature of the Iftar, the meal that breaks the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, be construed as "peace talks"? The answer is "yes" and "no". On one plane, the gathering was a "guest celebration", as explained by the colorful former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan and a Guantanamo Bay detainee, Abdul Salam Zaeef, who sat in the important religious meal in Mecca.

But on the other hand, the hard facts are the following. <b>Saudi Arabia is a leader of the Sunni Muslim world. It was one of the handful of countries to have recognized the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It was the Saudi king who hosted the religious meal, which was attended by Taliban representatives, Afghan government officials and a representative of the powerful mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Former Afghan Supreme Court chief justice, Fazel Hadi Shinwari, was among the government representatives at the Iftar. The Afghan army chief of general staff, General Bismillah Khan, also "happened" to be in Saudi Arabia at this time.</b>

Furthermore, as CNN put it, quoting sources, <b>the meal in Mecca took two years of "intense behind-the-scenes negotiations" to come to fruition and "US-and-Europe-friendly Saudi Arabia's involvement has been propelled by a mounting death toll among coalition troops amid a worsening violence that has also claimed many civilian casualties".</b>

Besides, media reports have spotted that <b>behind the Saudi move lingers the recognizable shadows of the controversial former Saudi spy chief and nephew of the king, Prince Turki al-Faisal, </b>who is an old "Afghan hand", having headed Saudi Arabia's al-Mukhabarat al A'amah (General Intelligence Directorate) during the 25-year period from 1977 until shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US. Some even say Turki secretly negotiated with Taliban leader Mullah Omar in 1998 in a vain attempt to have Osama bin Laden extradited to Saudi Arabia.

Above all, there has been a spate of statements in recent days underscoring the futility of the war in Afghanistan. <b>Karzai himself has invited Mullah Omar to step forward as a presidential hopeful in elections slated for next year.</b>

Britain's military commander in Afghanistan, <b>Brigadier General Mark Carleton-Smith told the Sunday Times newspaper of London that the war against the Taliban cannot be won. He specifically advised the British public not to expect a "decisive military victory", but to prepare for a possible deal with the Taliban.</b> "We're not going to win this war. It's about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that's not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army," the British commander said.

The British army top brass is not known to speak out of turn. His stark assessment followed the leaking of a memo detailing a gloomy statement attributed to the <b>British ambassador in Kabul, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, that the current war strategy was "doomed to fail". </b>To say the least, the timing of these statements is highly significant. According to the influential Saudi newspaper Asharq Alawsat, British intelligence is ably assisting the Saudi efforts at mediation.

<b>Longtime observers of the Afghan civil war will recollect the tortuous diplomatic and political peregrinations culminating in the Geneva Accords in April 1988 that led to the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Informal negotiations began as early as 1982. </b>That is to say, claims and counter-claims, constant streams of denials, statements attributed to faceless or anonymous sources, even stony silence if not outright falsification - all this promises to be the fare in the Afghan bazaar in the coming weeks.

<b>However, what is beyond doubt is that inter-Afghan peace talks have finally begun. There is a readiness to admit that the legacy of the Bonn conference in December 2001 must be exorcised from Afghanistan's body politic and stowed away in history books.</b> The recognition seems to have dawned that peace is indivisible and victors must learn to share it with the vanquished.  :?:

Several factors have contributed to this realization. <b>One,</b> the seven-year war is in a stalemate and time favors the Taliban. <b>Two,</b> the US is increasingly focused on the bailout of its economy, which leaves little scope both in terms of time and resources for Washington to indulge in the extravaganza of undertaking on its own open-ended wars in faraway badlands. <b>Three,</b> the US is having a hard time persuading its allies to provide troops for the war effort and even faithful allies like Britain seem fatigued and appear uneasy about the US's war strategy. <b>Four,</b> whatever little popular support the puppet regime in Kabul headed by Karzai enjoyed so far is fast declining, which makes the current setup unsustainable. <b>Five</b>, the Taliban have gained habitation and name on the Afghan landscape and no amount of allegations regarding Pakistan's dubious role can hide the reality that the Taliban's support base is rapidly widening. <b>Six</b>, the regional climate - growing instability in Pakistan, tensions in US-Russia relations, NATO's role, Iran's new assertiveness, including possible future support of the Afghan resistance - is steadily worsening and the need arises for the US to recalibrate the prevailing geopolitical alignments and shore up its political and strategic assets created during the 2001-2008 period from being eroded.

Against such a complex backdrop, <b>Washington could - and perhaps should - have logically turned to the United Nations or the international community </b>to initiate an inter-Afghan peace process. <b>Instead, it has almost instinctively turned to its old ally in the Hindu Kush - Saudi Arabia.</b>

The US and Saudi Arabia went a long way in nurturing al-Qaeda and the Taliban in their infancy in the late 1980s and almost up to the second half of the 1990s. <b>Al-Qaeda turned hostile in the early 1990s, but the US's dalliance with the Taliban continued up to the beginning of the first term of George W Bush as US president in 2000.</b> <i>{I guess Leila Helms cant be too far behind!}</i>

It is possible to say that Washington has no real choice at the present juncture but to turn to the Saudis for a helping hand. <b>The Saudis precisely know the Taliban's anatomy, how its muscles and nerves interplay, where it is at its tender-most, where it tickles. The Saudis undoubtedly know how to engage the Taliban. Now, they can almost do what Pakistan, which had similar skills, was capable of doing until it began losing its grip and its self-confidence and became increasingly worn out. Islamabad tended to linger in the shade and watch as the Taliban began taking its performance seriously and didn't seem to need mentors.</b>

Washington is also unsure to what degree Islamabad can be trusted with the central role in any such sensitive mission to finesse or harness the Taliban. All said, while President Asif Ali Zardari is a predictable figure who can be trusted to dance to just about any American tune, far too many imponderables remain in the post-Pervez Musharraf power structure in Islamabad for the US to be confident that it holds all the controlling strings.

<b>Arguably, the Saudis, too, would have their own sub-plots in the Hindu Kush, given the al-Qaeda factor and al-Qaeda's unfinished business in the Middle East, but, on balance, Washington has to pitch to a mediator whom the Taliban leadership and mujahideen leaders like Hekmatyar and sundry other commanders will listen. A final clincher is that the Saudis have no dearth of resources to bankroll an intra-Afghan peace process and money is power in today's impoverished Afghanistan.</b>

Beyond all these considerations, from the US perspective, a big gain out of the Saudi involvement would also be that Iran's efforts to build bridges with the Afghan resistance would be checkmated.

<b>Afghanistan has always been in the cockpit of great power rivalry. The backdrop of US-Russia tensions is of great significance.</b> On October 10, NATO defense ministers are scheduled to gather in Budapest, Hungary, and they are expected to take stock of the souring NATO-Russia ties. <b>The US is advancing the idea of a NATO "defense plan" against Russia.</b>

Any such plan invoking the centrality of Article 5 of the NATO charter regarding collective security for the newly inducted countries of Central Europe and the Balkans will need to be based on threat perceptions to the alliance emanating from post-Soviet Russia. <b>In other words, the US is trying to propel NATO into an adversarial stance with regard to Russia on lines similar to the Cold War era.</b>

But there is a catch. Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is not peddling any pernicious ideology of "expansionism" threatening Western security. On the contrary, Russia is allowing NATO to transport its supplies for Afghanistan via its airspace and territory. Despite tensions in the Caucasus, Moscow has not called off such cooperation, especially involving NATO countries like Germany and France, which are skeptical about the US strategy of pitting the trans-Atlantic alliance against Russia. The US dislikes the prospect of Moscow using its equations with Germany or France within an overall NATO framework as a trump card in its relations with Washington.

<b>Paradoxically, Washington will be relieved if Russia-NATO cooperation over Afghanistan altogether ceases. There is simply no other way that NATO can cast Russia as an adversary.</b> But Russia is not obliging. Russian officials have recently alleged that Washington has prevailed on Karzai to freeze all cooperation with the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on the vital front of combating drug trafficking. But Russia has failed to react and instead has began fortifying its own mechanism within the framework of CSTO (and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization) to counter drug-trafficking.

The main challenge for NATO is that its dependence on Moscow for logistical support in the Afghan war cannot be terminated as long as there is uncertainty about the supply routes via Pakistan. Here the Saudis can be of help. Their involvement in the Afghan peace process will discourage the Taliban from seriously disrupting the supply routes through Pakistan.

<b>From the US perspective, the immediate political advantage of the Saudi involvement will be two-fold: its impact on Pakistani public opinion and, secondly, in countering expanding Iranian influence within Afghanistan.</b> The Saudi role will hopefully temper the stridency of <b>"anti-Americanism" in Pakistan. </b>The US can learn to live with the Pakistani people's "anti-Americanism" provided it remains at an acceptable level and in the realm of political rhetoric. This is where the Saudis can be of help, given their considerable influence on the Islamic parties in Pakistan, especially the Jammat-i-Islami, which makes political capital out of anti-American rhetoric, and a range of Pakistani leaders, both civilian and military.

Interestingly, CNN has quoted Saudi sources to the effect that "perceived Iranian expansionism is one of Saudi Arabia's biggest concerns" in Afghanistan, which is what motivates them to mediate a peace process involving the Taliban.

<b>It is worth recalling that one of the attractions underlying the US-Saudi sponsorship of the Taliban in the early and mid-1990s was the movement's manifestly anti-Shi'ite stance and its infinite potential to be pitted against Iran on the geopolitical chessboard.</b>

The Taliban had killed nine Iranian diplomats in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif in August 1998. The Iranian Foreign Ministry said at that time that "the consequences of the Taliban action is on the shoulders of the Taliban and their supporters". Then-Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani viewed the incident as part of "a very deep conspiracy to occupy Iran at its eastern borders".

Given the ebb and flow of the US-Saudi-Pakistani role in promoting the Taliban in the 1990s, Tehran and Moscow are bound to sit up and take note of the current trends. On the face of it, neither Tehran nor Moscow can take exception to the Saudi role in Afghanistan as that would run against the grain of their recent years of sustained efforts to foster relations with Saudi Arabia at the bilateral level. <b>Tehran, in particular, will be keen to maintain the current semblance of cordiality in its complicated, multi-layered ties with Riyadh and will be averse to playing into the hands of the US to turn Afghanistan into yet another turf of Sunni-Shi'ite (Iran-Saudi) antipathy like Lebanon or Iraq.</b>

But Iran and Russia will be deeply concerned about the US strategic designs. <b>What will perturb the two countries most will be the US's continued plan to keep the Afghan peace process within a tiny, exclusive, charmed circle of friends and allies, which betrays Washington's resolve not to let Afghanistan go out of its tight grip any time in the foreseeable future.</b> Clearly, they would take note that the <b>US strategy, as it is unfolding, is only to make the war in Afghanistan "cost-effective" and not to cut and run.</b>

A Pentagon official was recently quoted as suggesting that "[NATO] countries that have had a reluctance to contribute forces, in particular combat forces, may be able to take part in this mission through a financial contribution". As the official put it, there are <b>"those who fight and those who write checks". </b>The NATO meet in Budapest on Thursday will be discussing these issues of the alliance's mission in Afghanistan.

Apart from the cost-effective methods that ensure the war doesn't tax the US financially, the new head of the US Central Command, General David Petraeus, can also be expected to make the war more "efficient". He followed a somewhat similar strategy in Iraq with what he labeled a policy of "awakening" Sunni tribes. The strategy's Afghan variant, which Petraeus will now spearhead in his new capacity as the head of the Central Command, can be expected to involve hiring Pashtun mercenaries to fight the war so that Western casualties are reduced and NATO's continuance in Afghanistan doesn't get imperiled due to adverse public opinion in the West.

The strategy requires making inroads into the Taliban camp and playing havoc with its unity. In the US military jargon in Iraq, this was called "non-kinetic activities", which helped reverse the spiral of violence for the US troops. It may bring "new hope" to NATO's war in Afghanistan.

<b>Evidently, Washington expects that a clever operator like Prince Turki acting with the blessing of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques will do a neat job in regard to splitting the Taliban and separating them from al-Qaeda. (Turki also served as the Saudi ambassador in Washington.) Turki's brief will contain an almost near-optimal mix of the godly and the worldly, which is useful for finessing a movement like the Taliban that crisscrosses religion and politics.</b>

The Saudi involvement is a desperate gamble by the Bush administration in its dying months. In immediate terms, if Turki makes headway, Taliban violence against Western troops may diminish, which would give an impression that Afghanistan is finally coming right for the US.

But it will not remain so for long. <b>Afghanistan is far more fragmented ethnically than Iraq. The Saudis with all their sovereign wealth funds out of petrodollars cannot bridge the hopelessly ruptured Afghan divides. At the very least, much time is needed to heal the deep wounds. Saudi involvement will almost certainly be resented by several Afghan groups, which viscerally oppose the Taliban, such as the Hazara Shi'ite groups. As it is, things were poised to come to a boil in 2009, which is an election year in Afghanistan.</b>

Petraeus beat his war drum and claimed victory in Iraq, but that is not the final word. Political events are seldom what they seem. <b>The heart of the matter is that Iran's cooperation made Petraeus' "victory" in Iraq possible. A peace process predicated on the exclusion of Iran and Russia - leave alone any "Islamization" of Afghanistan on Wahhabi lines - will not succeed.</b>

<i>Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.</i>

In one way the West hedged against the Indian Muslims(Deobandi/Wahabi) of the UP variety by winning the Arab Islamist fort in Saudi Arabia under their tutelage.


Look who came to dinner ... <i>by Syed Saleem Shahzad</i>: Asia Times Online

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->KARACHI - Although the Taliban and al-Qaeda have consistently rejected overtures to make peace with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces until they leave Afghanistan, the latest initiative led by Saudi Arabia, and approved by Washington and London, is on track.

Reports emerged this week that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia recently hosted high-level talks in Mecca between representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban. If a middle road is found, next year's elections in Afghanistan could be held under the supervision of peacekeeping forces from Islamic countries, rather than those of NATO.

<b>The first move in the peace process was made by Saudi Arabia last year when a Saudi consul based in Islamabad secretly visited the North Waziristan tribal area and met the al-Qaeda leadership.</b> His mission was to convince them of the necessity of a peace process in Afghanistan and provide them with assurances of an amnesty. (See Military brains plot Pakistan's downfall Asia Times Online, September 26, 2007.) <b>Al-Qaeda refused the consul access to its senior leaders, and anyway rejected the initiative.</b>

<b>Undeterred, Riyadh pitched the idea to the Taliban rank and file that if the forces of Islamic countries were involved in peacekeeping operations for the elections, it would create a climate of reconciliation in which both the Taliban and NATO would not lose face.</b> The Taliban also did not accept this idea, but the proposal did generate low-profile debate and in this sense a peace process had begun.

Like the Taliban, the Western coalition was divided over peace formulas but decided to at least initiate a political process to resolve the seven-year conflict in Afghanistan. <b>The British Embassy in Kabul sent some people to Helmand province to initiate talks with the Taliban, but the procedure backfired as the Taliban dismissed their commanders involved in the negotiations. And the Afghan government, under instructions from the US Embassy in Kabul, expelled European Union officials from Afghanistan for their involvement in the dialogue process.</b>

<b>Pakistan, meanwhile, despite American pressure, kept open channels of communication with the Taliban.</b> All the while, the conflict in Afghanistan escalated, reaching new heights this year.

<b>Kabul is virtually under siege and the Taliban have established pockets in Wardak (30 kilometers from Kabul) and Sarobi (50 km from Kabul) as well as in neighboring Kapisa and Parwan provinces.</b> More ominously, the Taliban-led insurgency has spread to Pakistani territory where vast areas have been brought under its control, especially in the tribal areas that border Afghanistan. From a military standpoint, this is particularly worrying for NATO as most of its supplies pass through this area.

Against this backdrop of a seemingly unwinnable war, as Britain's senior commander in Afghanistan has commented, the stalled pace process was revived.

<b>The Muslim holy month of Ramadan was used as a cover for revived backchannel diplomacy in the Saudi holy city of Mecca. Afghan officials, former Taliban leaders and leaders of mujid Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan shared an Iftar fast-breaking meal with King Abdullah. Separate meetings were held with other top Saudi officials, including Saudi intelligence chief Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz.</b>

One person who was present at the king's table was former Taliban foreign minister <b>Wakeel Ahmed Muttawakil.</b> He spoke to Asia Times Online by telephone from Kabul.

Asia Times Online: Did you meet King Abdullah?

Wakeel Ahmed Muttawakil: I traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform umra [pilgrimage] in the holy month of Ramadan ... and it is true [I met King Abdullah]. You know, the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan [as the Taliban's regime was known from 1996 to 2001] had good relations with Saudi Arabia and therefore I know everybody over there.

ATol: Your meeting with Saudi intelligence chief Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz is believed to be the real beginning of a dialogue process between the Taliban and Saudi Arabia over a truce between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

WAM: As I said, I met with many people during my stay in Saudi Arabia, but it had nothing to do with politics. Our reason to travel was to perform pilgrimage and prayers in Ramadan. Since I am known to the Saudi government, they invited me for Iftar.

ATol: Then was it a coincidence that immediately after your visit, Afghan President Hamid Karzai stepped up efforts to engage the Taliban and mentioned a Saudi role in that regard?

WAM: I said earlier that Saudi Arabia had very good relations with the Taliban in the past, therefore the Afghan government expects the Saudi government to play a role. Not only with the Taliban, Saudi Arabia had very good relations with Sheikh Osama bin Laden and other jihadi movements. So its role would be very effective.

ATol: Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan has also been approached by the Saudis. Do you have any knowledge in this regard?

WAM:<b> I don't know anything in this regard, but I can guess that since the Taliban and Hizb-e-Islami are both part of the present insurgency, but still keep separate commands, Hekmatyar would have been approached separately. Like the Taliban, Hekmatyar also keeps very good relations with Saudi Arabia and with his connections with the Ikwanul Muslemeen [Muslim Brotherhood] he is even closer to the Saudis.</b>

An earlier Taliban statement said:

    The mainstream media is reporting about a "peace process" between the Taliban and the Kabul puppet administration which is being sponsored by Saudi Arabia and supported by Britain, and that there are "unprecedented talks" involving a senior ex-Taliban member who is traveling between Kabul and the alleged bases of the Taliban senior leadership in Pakistan. The Afghanistan Islamic Emirate leadership council considers such as baseless rumors and as failed attempts of the enemy to create mistrust and concerns among Afghans and other nations and mujahideen.

    No official member of the Taliban is currently or has in the past negotiated with the US or the puppet Afghan government. A few former officials of the Taliban who are under house arrest [Mullah Zaeef, former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan] or have surrendered [Wakeel Ahmed Muttawakil] do not represent the Islamic Emirate.

The Taliban's denial and Muttawakil's reticence apart, it cannot be denied that something is afoot. This is no better illustrated than by Washington-backed Karzai at the weekend asking "terrorist" Mullah Omar to join the political process and saying that he would convince the international community about him.

<i>Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com </i>
The Great Game begins anew!

What we are seeing is the Wahabization of Afghanistani Pashtuns. A new fortress of Isalm is being created by a number of events that were ennumerated above.
<b>US-led strikes kill 100, mostly civilians: Afghan police </b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->HERAT: Police in Afghanistan said Wednesday that US-led air strikes against insurgents had killed 100 people, most of them civilians, in one of the deadliest such attacks in nearly eight years.

The US military opened an investigation into the operation overnight Monday into Tuesday in the remote western province of Farah, as Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered his government to probe reports of high civilian casualties.

‘During the aerial bombardment and ground operations, more than 100 people have died,’ western Afghanistan police spokesman Abdul Rauf Ahmadi told AFP, basing his information on reports from police, the Red Cross and locals.

‘Twenty-five to 30 of them are Taliban, including from Chechnya and Pakistan, and the rest are civilians including children, women and elderly people,’ he said.

Teams from the Afghan government, international forces and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) would travel to the area to investigate, he added.
analysis: Obama’s AfPak quandary —Ashley J Tellis

Whether explicitly admitted or not, these propositions indicate that the United States will not abdicate state building in Afghanistan; will not recognise the Taliban as an acceptable Islamist group in contrast to, for example, Al Qaeda; and will not exit Afghanistan either as an end in itself or to better focus on Pakistan, as some analysts have suggested.

The administration’s reiteration of the need for a “a more capable, accountable, and effective government in Afghanistan” also implicitly conveys a rejection of all ambiguous strategies of governance, a refusal to integrate an unrepentant Taliban into any Afghan organs of rule, and a decisive repudiation of authoritarianism as a solution to the political problems in Kabul.
And, <b>he needs to jettison those old and tired saws that reconciliation with the Taliban or better counterterrorism performance by Pakistan will be essential for success in Afghanistan; although both may well be true, neither is particularly likely and, consequently, Obama ought to refocus on securing victory in Afghanistan by “hardening” it from the inside out</b> rather than by counting on either Taliban or Pakistani cooperation.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

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