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Afghanistan - News and Discussion
Obama is doing exactly what Bill Clinton did.
<b>US for smaller India role in Kabul- Pakistan pressure to prune consulate footprint in Afghanistan</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->New Delhi, May 26: The US administration is nudging India to scale down its presence in Afghanistan — including pruning or closing down its consulates — in line with Islamabad’s demands, sources said.

<b>This stand goes against US policy of the past eight years, when Washington wanted India to send troops to Afghanistan.</b>

<b>The US is now hunting new allies to “stabilise” Pakistan and Afghanistan, such as China, Saudi Arabia and Iran that have leverage with Islamabad, as President Obama’s Afpak policy takes off. </b>

Delhi’s role in the rebuilding of Afghanistan, including infrastructure projects and integrated development projects, has not gone down well with Pakistan, which sees India’s strategic interest in its presence.

Islamabad, which is the epicentre of America’s fight against terror in the region, is pressuring Washington to prevail upon New Delhi to reduce its presence in Afghanistan.

The matter was hinted at in talks with India when Richard Holbrooke, the US administration’s special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, was in Delhi recently. The sources said the <b>US would like India to prune or shut down consulates in Herat and Jalalabad.</b>

Red Army Afghan War
Interesting links and articles
From Pioneer, 10 June 2009

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->EDITS | Wednesday, June 10, 2009 | Email | Print |

Dealing with Afghanistan

Ashok K Mehta

The Obama Administration’s special envoy for AfPak Richard Holbrooke said last week in Islamabad that India had a legitimate role in providing stability to Afghanistan and the region and though he was not designated to India, he kept in constant touch with its officials. Such comments are bound to ruffle feathers in Islamabad where the establishment remains concerned about India’s encirclement of Pakistan to negate its dated quest for strategic depth in Afghanistan. Some Afghans complain that New Delhi and Islamabad are using their soil to fight their battles adding insult and injury to a deeply divided country trapped between foreign forces and the Taliban.

<b>The Taliban say that while Americans have the watches, they have the time.</b> Mullah Omar, the elusive Taliban leader who “wants foreigners to leave Afghanistan”, forgets that <b>US-led Nato forces are in no hurry to leave the region even though ‘an exit policy’ is a political imperative </b>of the new AfPak strategy. <b>Afghans have begun to understand that sovereignty and decision-making will remain in the hands of outsiders who are both part of the problem and the solution. If they were to leave, their fear is that the Taliban would take over.</b>

<b>Without contiguous borders and a transit corridor through Pakistan, India realises the limits to what it can do in Afghanistan.</b> New <b>Delhi has always sought an India-friendly regime in Kabul and had supported the Northern Alliance in retention of a toe-hold in Badakshan, warding off Pakistan-backed Taliban assaults in the late-1990s. It was from this launch pad that the US-led forces rolled back the Taliban in 2001.</b>  <!--emo&Tongue--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/tongue.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='tongue.gif' /><!--endemo-->

<b>New Delhi’s strategic priorities are to ensure that the Taliban’s ideology and its brand of terror are not exported to India; there is no shade of the Taliban represented in the Government in Kabul; external interference is minimal; it can create space for access to central Asia and Afghans are able to stand on their own feet, recovering their strategic autonomy.</b> In other words, making their own decisions.

<b>The role India gets to play is circumscribed by Islamabad’s exaggerated fears of New Delhi and Kabul ganging up against its own legitimate interests, a concession that the US and the West make for Pakistan’s cooperation in fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda.</b> The <b>recent Pakistani Army offensive in Malakand division has impressed the US and Pakistan will extract a price which could include seeking a further dilution of India’s activities in Afghanistan.</b>

<b>India has been largely kept out of the political and security dynamics in Kabul — confined to development and reconstruction activities while maintaining a strong bilateral relationship with Afghanistan, employing its rich soft power</b>. While <b>India engages more than 30 countries in a strategic dialogue, strangely this does not include any SAARC country. India remains on listening watch as part of the wider regional contact group with a special envoy accredited to it.</b>  :?:

<b>Pakistan has credited the four Indian consulates at Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad and Kandahar, and the trade office in Khost, with surreal capacity for anti-Pakistan operations. The eight-man consulate in Kandahar, for example, is depicted as 800-strong, up to no good and fomenting insurgency in Baluchistan. Similarly, the Jalalabad consulate, which is also close to the Pakistani border, frequently hits the headlines and is on the Taliban-ISI hitlist, as are other Indian assets and projects inside Afghanistan.</b> The suicide bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul last year, executed by the Taliban, an acknowledged ISI strategic asset, has not been forgotten.

<b>Kabul recognises the centrality of New Delhi in its reconstruction and peace-building programme. Iran and Pakistan are the other two active regional players with Afghanistan’s Northern and Central Asian neighbours keeping a low profile.</b> India is the sixth largest bilateral donor with $ 1.2 billion committed in numerous projects varying from building toilets to transmission lines spread across the country in all 27 provinces. The development projects are conceived by the Afghans with security being provided by them.

<b>The Delaram-Zaranj blacktop road, the first in Nimroz province, was built by Indian Border Roads Organisations, 400 ITBP men providing close protection were guarded by 1,400 Afghan security personnel — 139 of them were killed protecting the Indians.</b>

<b>The development assistance programme</b>, the largest outside India, is regarded a foreign policy success and <b>falls into four categories: Humanitarian, infrastructure, small development projects and capacity-building.</b> These include building medical missions, the Parliament building, transmission lines for electricity from Uzbekistan to Kabul, frequently called the capital of darkness, 50 small projects and providing training facilities for Afghan public services, scholarships for higher education, rehabilitation of war widows and much more.

<b>Lack of land access is the biggest impediment to relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation work. Pakistan has refused passage to 100,000 tonnes of protein biscuits meant for school children and 250,000 tonnes of wheat to serve as Afghanistan strategic food reserve.</b> This despite India meeting its condition of removing ‘Made in India’ labels and allowing Pakistani trucks to carry the cargo. <b>The alternative route, via Chabahar Port in Iran, involves 30 per cent time and cost overruns.</b>

<b>Although the Afghan Defence and Interior Ministries want Indian participation in these sectors, New Delhi keeps out in deference to Islamabad’s sensitivities.</b> Instead of cooperating in Afghanistan’s development and even undertaking joint projects, India and Pakistan try cancelling each other out. Mistrust and suspicion are of high order. Both countries should discuss their legitimate interests, avoiding bitterness and conflict. There are 40 countries and 120 NGOs active inside Afghanistan but none as antagonistic to each other as India and Pakistan.

Both Afghanistan and Pakistan are conflict-ridden countries, stricken with terrorism and religious extremism that spills across to India, which, therefore, has a legitimate interest in the internal stability and security of both countries. As soon as the composite dialogue in whatever shape is resumed, a frank bilateral conversation on Afghanistan is of paramount importance.

<b>Afghanistan has no bilateral dialogue mechanism with Pakistan.</b> In 2007, during a Pakistan-Afghanistan summit in Islamabad, President <b>Hamid Karzai provided a list of Afghan Taliban safe-houses in Quetta. But there was no action — for Pakistan, these were the ‘good’ Taliban.</b> New Delhi, Islamabad and Kabul can find common ground for peace by collectively confronting the entire Taliban, good, bad and ugly.

<b>For the present, India’s strategic restraint in Afghanistan includes no boots on the ground, again not to rock relations with Pakistan.</b> <b>The western frontier astride the Durand Line and the Hindukush is the historical invasion route to New Delhi and its first line of defence. We should be looking at Paakpiya and Pakpika in Afghanistan, not Panipat.</b>

<b>Videos Posted by U.S. Forces - Afghanistan</b>
Released video footage shows insurgents caught planting explosive

Don't miss last few secs. Enjoy it <!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo-->
<b>Afghan conflict 'serious' and 'deteriorating'-Mullen</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->WASHINGTON, Aug 23 (Reuters) - The situation in Afghanistan is "serious and deteriorating," Washington's top military officer said on Sunday.
"I think it is serious and it is deteriorating, and I've said that over the past couple of years, that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated in their tactics," Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<b>India’s growing clout in Kabul may impact stability: US Gen</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->WASHINGTON: As the grandees of the international community gather this week in Pittsburgh, formerly the city of steel, with international economy
and climate change on top of the agenda, the issue before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his 30-hour sortie there is to figure out why the United States is blowing hot and cold in its dealings with India.

The mixed signals emanating from Washington is best illustrated by one paragraph, the only one relating to India, in the report by US General Stanley McChrystal about the dire situation in the Af-Pak theatre. It reads: <b>“Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan, including significant development efforts and financial investment. In addition, the current Afghan government is perceived by Islamabad to be pro-Indian. While Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India.’</b>’

<b>Dubbed the “McChrystal Unclear’’ report, the observation has left Indian officials scratching their heads. So what exactly does the remark imply? That India should scale down its influence in Afghanistan, even though its activities “largely benefit the Afghan people”? That the Obama administration needs to ask New Delhi to dilute its presence in Afghanistan in order not to “exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India’’ a thinly-disguised euphemism for Pakistani terrorism?</b>
<b>Eid ul-Fitr Message from Mullah Omar</b>

The following is a message from Taliban leader Mullah Omar to mark 'Eid ul-Fitr, which is September 21, 2009. The message was dated September 19.

Message of Felicitation of Amir-ul-Momineen on the Occasion of 'Eid ul-Fitr

"Praise be to Allah, Who exalted Islam and Muslims and debased polytheism and the polytheists. Peace be on the leader of the Mujahideen, the noble of the Apostles and Messengers, and peace be on his descendants, companions and all those who follow his guidance.

"Having said that, I would like to state: The Almighty Allah says: 'Say: Truly my prayer and my service of sacrifice; my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds (6:162).'

"I extend my heartfelt felicitations to all heroic Mujahideen, the pious people, the families of martyrs of the sacred frontlines of Islam, and to all Islamic Ummah on the occasion of the Eid-ul-Fitr, and congratulate them for their having performed the sacred obligation of fasting. I pray to Allah to accept in His sight all the worships and sacrifices that they offered. May Allah pass these days of love, brotherhood, and joy in an atmosphere of happiness, prosperity, and victory over the invading enemy.

"I congratulate you all for the historical victories achieved in the honorable frontlines of Jihad this current year. May Allah accept the martyrdom of the martyrs and the struggles of the Mujahideen in this blessed and holy path.

"Availing [myself] of this opportunity, I deem it necessary to put forward the following points before you all:

"a) I assure our brave people and the gallant Mujahideen that the plans of global colonialism for occupation of Afghanistan have faced failure because of your selfless sacrifices. During the past eight years, NATO, under the leadership of the militarists of the Pentagon, have implemented a policy of brutality and atrocity, hoping that they will subjugate the brave people of Afghanistan by dint of military power. They have used their sophisticated and cutting-edge technology, including chemical weapons, in order to achieve that end; employed hundreds of centers of propaganda; and spent billions of dollars to portray the image of their military power in a palatable way and terrorize their counterpart opposition. But all these anti-human activities could not bring them success. With the passage of time, the resistance and the Jihadic movement, as a robust Islamic and nationalist movement, assumed the shape of a popular movement, and is approaching the edge of victory.

"The invaders should study the history of Afghanistan, from the time of the aggression of Alexander to the Ganges of yore, and to this very day, and should learn a lesson from it. Still, if they are bent on ignoring history, then they themselves saw, with their own eyes, the events of the past eight years. Have they achieved anything in the past eight years? Even if they are not ready to review the loss and benefits of these years, they should at least ponder the consequences of the extensive operations launched under the name of the Khanjar 'sword' and the panther's claw. What did they achieve? Is this disgrace and historical defeat not enough for them (to learn a lesson)?

"Though the double-faced media has kept their public ignorant of the facts but their government are well aware of the ground realities-the huge casualties and the sagging morale of their soldiers. The more the enemy resorts to increasing forces, the more they will face an unequivocal defeat in Afghanistan

"It is clear from the statements of the military sources of NATO and America, and from the information disclosed by captured soldiers, that the invaders' material and life losses are several times higher than what they acknowledge. Anyway, the policy which they have adopted will only prolong the current crisis, but will never solve it. This is because the existence of foreign troops in Afghanistan and the invasion is in itself an issue, not a solution - even a big issue in its own right.

"The rampant corruption in the surrogate Kabul administration, the embezzlement, the drug trafficking, the mafia networks, the tyranny and highhandedness of the warlords, and the spread and increase of the centers of obscenity being materialized as per the previously contemplated plans are [all] part of the colonial ambitious and conspiratorial accords. This has driven the people to face poverty, starvation, and unemployment, to the extent that they have been forced to sell their children.

"Despite the crimes of the invaders, another brazen atrocity is that they imposed a corrupt and stooge administration on the people once again, on the pretext of the so-called elections which were fraught with fraud and lies and which were categorically rejected by the people. It is very natural that the gallant and free people are not ready to accept the results of these illegitimate elections. Therefore, first of all the issue of the existence of the invading forces in the country should be solved, and Afghanistan must find its place as a sovereign country on the map of the world. The internal issues among the Afghans can be solved, but under circumstances of occupation, (our) national and Islamic interests come under the shadow of the interests of the foreigners, and our national and Islamic interests readily fall prey to the interests and conspiracies of global colonialism.

"Our goal is to gain independence for the country and to establish a just Islamic system there, on the basis of the aspirations of the Muslim nation. We can consider any option that could lead to the achievement of this goal. We have left open all options and ways towards this end. However, this will only be feasible when the country is free from the trampling steps of the invading forces, and has gained independence.

"b) The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wants the true sons of this land to have participation in the government and in government-making, following the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan - because the rehabilitation work, economic, political, educational, and cultural affairs of the country can never go a long way without the participation of knowledgeable, professional, experienced, and sincere Afghans. Fortunately, a great number of our independent, professional, experienced Muslims cadres, whether inside the country or outside, have not submitted to the current occupation, nor do they accept the administration that was brought about as a result of the occupation. They support an independent, free, and Islamic government in the country.

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has distinctive and useful plans for the future of Afghanistan under the shade of the just social system of Islam, following the withdrawal of the foreign forces. These include rehabilitation of social and economic infrastructure, advancement and development of the educational sector, industrialization of the country, and development of agriculture.

"c) The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan calls on all those who work in the surrogate Kabul administration and who shore up the global colonialism with their presence to stop opposing your religion, country, and people. The foreign colonialists take strength from your Afghan arm and continue their occupation of our country. These brutal invaders have trampled down on all our Islamic values; they work for the dissemination and spread of Christianity under a previously worked-out plan; they plunder our natural resources under various names, and put heavy burdens of loans on our country. The Islamic Emirate has left the door of safety open for whoever departs from the ways of betrayal and treason against the country and people.

"All should bear in mind that the current popular Islamic revolution against the invaders is forging ahead like a powerful flood. Anyone who opts to resist it will himself be washed away. Atrocity, torture, brutality, conspiracy, coalitions, the foreign forces and mercenaries cannot hurl stumbling blocks in the way of this robust Jihadic movement. It is better to side with your people to fulfill the obligation required by the faith and gain historical honor - particularly, the former Mujahideen who now work in the stooge administration should make for their infamy by joining the ranks of Jihad and abandoning the ranks of the non-believers.

"d) The Islamic Emirate (IE) believes in social and internal reform as well as in positive initiatives in the context of Sharia. IE is aware of the in discrepancies. Therefore, it obliges all Mujahideen to strictly observe the rules and regulations so that all Mujahideen will continue to wage Jihad as sincere sons of the country for the prosperity of the masses under the framework of Islamic Sharia. Thus, they will become both true protectors of the frontlines of independence and representatives of the fundamental wants of the people.

"The Islamic Emirate considers the purge of its ranks and self-accountability an everlasting and necessary obligation.

"The enemy has faced defeat in the field of the battle and it will not be long before it will swallow the bitter poison of a complete defeat. But as a last tactic, it is trying to spread the seed of disunity and division among the nation to turn its defeat into victory. Praise be to Allah, the High, that the enemy is facing a fiasco in its hypocritical efforts.

"The Islam-loving and country-loving people consider it a religious obligation to maintain the unity and to assist the Mujahideen. They see the independence of the dear country as their legitimate right, and believe that the Western media serves only as a loudspeaker of the Pentagon. They will never be misled by their fatuous propaganda. The sympathy, affinity, and enchantment of the people play a great role in the unprecedented advancement of the Mujahideen. Praise be to Allah, the enchantment of people and their affinity grows day by day.

"Therefore, the Mujahideen should not think themselves to be a separate entity from the people. They should protect their property, life, and honor, and stop those who, under the name of Mujahideen, seek to encroach on the property, life, and honor of the people - readily by the provocation of the enemy. Similarly, Mujahideen should focus on the Islamic education of the masses, so that they would voluntarily participate in Jihad in person and by wealth. The people should remain aware to avoid being tricked by the empty bluffs of some military commanders or the statement of a British military commander saying that we would remain in Afghanistan for 40 years.

"We would like to point out that we fought against the British invaders for 80 years, from 1839 to 1919, and ultimately gained independence by defeating Britain. Today, we have strong determination, military training, and effective weapons. Still more, we have preparedness for a long war, and the regional situation is in our favor. Therefore, we will continue to wage Jihad until we gain independence and force the invaders to pull out.

"When we notified all regarding the unprecedented momentum and impetus in the resistance in our previous statement, they were not just propaganda-oriented empty words. All witnessed the momentum in action. We warn once again that our ensuing aggressive operations will be characterized by effective tactics which will enter a phase where the enemy will have unparalleled casualties and constant defeats, if God wills it.

"e) The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wants to maintain good and positive relations with all neighbors based on mutual respect, and to open a new chapter of good neighborliness of mutual cooperation and economic development.

"We consider the whole region a common home against colonialism, and we want to play our role in peace and stability of the region. We assure all countries that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as a responsible force, will not extend its hand to jeopardize others, as it itself does not allow others to jeopardize us.

"We would like to say that we are victims of the black propaganda of the enemy media. This has created doubts between us and a number of countries of the world. They have wrongly depicted us as a force that is against education and women's rights. They also accuse us of our being a threat to the countries of the world. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wants to clear away all these doubts, provided a conducive atmosphere is available. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan calls on the public of the West not to be deceived by the assertions of [U.S. President Barack] Obama, who says the war in Afghanistan is a war of necessity. The West does not have to wage this war. This war, in fact, started for clandestine motives under baseless reasons. Humanity as a whole suffers from its negative consequences. The global economic meltdown, instability, lack of trust and violation of international norms is the outcome of the baseless policies (of this war).

"The public of the West should also not be deceived by the assertions of the NATO secretary-general and of the British prime minister, who claim that the war in Afghanistan is for the defense of the West. Such deceiving and baseless utterances must not confuse you. These are just demagogic efforts of your rulers aimed at justifying this unlawful and long imposed war in contravention of all international principles.

"No country in the world has right to meddle in the internal affairs of its neighboring country, according to the modern international principles. The arrogant powers-that-be at the White House and its British ally should know their interference from thousands of kilometers away is never acceptable to the countries of the region and can never be tolerated. The plans of colonial expansionism underway in the region, under the notorious and unlawful slogan of war on terrorism is, in fact, an endeavor against the universal human values, justice, peace, equal distribution of resources, and independence - an endeavor tainting the true representatives of the aspirations of the people under one name or another. All countries, particularly the Islamic countries, our neighbors, the powerful countries, the movement of the non-aligned countries should feel and fulfill their historical role.

"I urge the Islamic Ummah, particularly the Islamic and Jihadic organizations, to remain aware of the conspiracies of the enemy; to abandon the internal differences; and to begin a concerted and comprehensive struggle for the defense and freedom of the oppressed and occupied Ummah.

"To end, I urge all God-fearing Muslims, as they themselves share the joy and happiness of this occasion with their families, not to forget the widows of the martyrs, [their] orphans, and the mothers who have lost their sons. They are the martyrs who laid down their lives against the bloc of the infidels, for the establishment of Islamic system. Similarly, do not forget the bereaved families of those Afghan victims, including old men, young women, and children who have been martyred as a result of the blind bombardment of the invaders and who are no more among you.

"Finally, I extend my felicitation to you on the occasion of Eid-ul-fitr, and wishing you independence.

"- Hoping and praying for the achievement of independence and the establishment of a complete Islamic system.

Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid
The Servant of Islam
<b>Suicide bombing near Indian embassy in Kabul, 3 dead</b>
2009 October 22 19:51:28 UTC

75 km (50 miles) SSE of Feyzabad, Afghanistan
115 km (70 miles) NW of Chitral, Pakistan
130 km (80 miles) SSW of Khorugh, Tajikistan
270 km (165 miles) NE of KABUL, Afghanistan
<b>How Turkey is Losing in Afghanistan
Esedullah Oguz, Central Asia and Afghanistan Expert</b>

<!--emo&Sad--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo--> Abdullah Abdullah pulls out of Afghan election
Kabul: Afghanistan's presidential challenger today announced he would not participate in next weekend's runoff election because his demands for measures to prevent fraud were rejected. He stopped short of calling on his supporters to boycott the balloting.

"I will not participate in the November 7 election," Abdullah Abdullah told supporters, because a "transparent election is not possible."

Abdullah made no mention of agreeing to take part in any future unity government with President Hamid Karzai, which the US and its international partners believe is the best hope for curbing the Taliban insurgency.

Asked by reporters if he was calling for a boycott, Abdullah said: "I have not made that call."

Abdullah's running mate Homayoun Assefy said it was up to the government's Independent Election Commission to decide whether to hold the runoff next Saturday as scheduled.

Source: PTI

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Karzai declared Afghan vote winner as run-off scrapped</b>
AFP | Kabul

Election organisers on Monday declared Hamid Karzai Afghan president for a second term, cancelling a one-man presidential run-off following a diplomatic push led by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

"We declare that Mr Hamid Karzai, who won the majority of votes in the first round, and is the only candidate in the second round, is the elected president of Afghanistan," Independent Election Commission chairman Azizullah Ludin said.

Ludin said the decision had been made in line with the provisions of the Afghan electoral law and constitution and "consistent with the high interest of the Afghan people".<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

M. K. Bhadra Kumar in Hindu

US goofs up Afghan Elections

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The West’s claim that there should be a runoff and that Hamid Karzai’s shortfall by 0.3 per cent votes in the first round made him "illegitimate" in the eyes of the Afghan people turned out to be a first-rate farce.

The victory of Hamid Karzai in the Afghan presidential election is a watershed event. Mr. Karzai showed the door to western sponsors who approached him for a last-minute “deal” to scrap the runoff by having his opponent Abdullah Abdullah, former Foreign Minister, accommodated in some position in the future administration. Mr. Karzai refused to deal and instead chose to call the West’s bluff, which left the latter with no option but to back off. Mr. Abdullah too abdicated from the political scene, making the runoff redundant. In short, Mr. Karzai chose to “Afghanise” his power base, ignoring western protestations. He calculated that he would continue to enjoy strong support from within the major non-Pashtun groups as well so long as his partnership with Mohammed Fahim, Karim Khalili, Ismail Khan, Rashid Dostum and Mohammed Mohaqiq remained intact.

No doubt, a new power alignment is taking shape. Afghan-style politics is resuming after very many years. At the centre stage of the political theatre stands Mr. Karzai. He has turned the table squarely on the western powers. But he will not easily forget the sustained attempts over the past year and more to ridicule him and pull him down. There has been some attrition. The attacks on him and his family members have been on very personal terms at times. Afghans are not used to western-style character assassination in the name of democracy.

The latest broadside in the New York Times portraying his brother Wali Karzai as a drug trafficker and CIA agent has taken matters to a point of no return. The American officials who spoke out of turn have done colossal damage to the U.S. interests in Afghanistan. <b>Washington must seriously note that the response to the New York Times report has come from none other than the Afghan Minister of Counter Narcotics, General Khodaidad Khodaidad. The Minister has brought on to public debate Afghanistan’s best-kept secret: the role of foreign troops in drug-trafficking.</b>

<b>Gen. Khodaidad is a highly trained professional </b>with acute political instincts, who knows what he is talking about. Indians knew him, so did Russians. <b>He passed out of the prestigious Indian Military Academy in Dehra Dun and was a product of the famous Fronze Military Academy in Moscow.</b> He had a proven record in the communist regime in Kabul as a highly decorated general; <b>he led the crack paratrooper brigades in the war in the early 1980s and served as army commander in the Kunduz-Takhar frontline facing the legendary “Lion of Panjshir,” Ahmed Shah Massoud</b>. Britain, where he lived in exile for a decade, knows him too.

Therefore, when <b>Gen. Khodaidad said early this month that the NATO contingents from the U.S., the U.K. and Canada are “taxing” the production of opium in the regions under their control,</b> he actually carried a stern warning on behalf of Mr. Karzai. It is a direct message: don’t throw stones while sitting in a glass cage. The western powers have systematically, through countless acts of plain idiocy, paying no heed to the culture and traditions of the Afghan people, brought things to this sorry, deplorable pass. Now onward, they will have to give up the doublespeak regarding “warlords” and “warlordism” and learn to perform the way <b>Mr. Karzai </b>wants or at least in consultation with him. The point is, he <b>is staying in power for a second term on his own steam</b>, defying the wishes and frustrating the designs of the western powers.

The U.S. should quickly move to bury the rift and do some cool introspection. Perilous times lie ahead. The Barack Obama presidency is on the firing line. The western powers cannot afford any more goof-ups. In institutional terms, the White House and the U.S. State Department have an uphill task in rebuilding ties with Mr. Karzai. From all accounts, the equations between President Obama and Mr. Karzai remain very poor. Apparently, they don’t even use satellite phones to talk. This should never have happened between two gifted politicians. Equally, Special Representative <b>Richard Holbrooke has become persona non grata in Kabul</b>. <b>John Kerry</b>, the powerful chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who did the famous arms-twisting act on Mr. Karzai two weeks ago has <b>also become a burnt-out case</b>. Afghanistan is living up to its reputation as the graveyard of foreigners.

On balance, Mr. Obama’s dependence on the Pentagon has increased. U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates kept his nails clean. Enormously experienced in the business of statecraft and bureaucratic dogfight alike, he could make out from 10,000 miles away that he should steer clear of the sordid skirmishes in the Hindu Kush that Washington was pitting against the obstinate Afghan leader. He knew such things could only end up messily and, more important, there would be a critical need for Mr. Obama to still deal with Mr. Karzai in the aftermath of the foul-up.

The tumultuous phase of the past few months, centred around the Afghan presidential election, will peter off sooner than most people in the West might have thought. <b>Actually, too much was made — quite needlessly — of the “legitimacy” factor of the Afghan election. Legitimacy was never an issue insofar as the Afghan people’s real concerns at this juncture lie elsewhere — peace and security, livelihood and predictability in day-to-day life.</b> As for the international community, that is, the non-western world, it was quite used to dealing with Mr. Karzai and it never mixed that up with the state of democracy in Afghanistan. <b>The broad perception in the world community was that a few motivated western capitals were deliberately making an issue of the “legitimacy” of the election to “soften up” Mr. Karzai politically and if he still resisted, to get rid of him from power. Thus the world community mutely watched when the West began chanting in unison that there should be a runoff and that Mr. Karzai’s shortfall by 0.3 per cent votes in the first round made him “illegitimate” in the eyes of the Afghan people. It has turned out to be a first-rate farce.</b>

Mr. Abdullah’s abdication from the political arena is not going to set the Kabul River on fire. <b>There isn’t going to be any war between the Pashtuns and Tajiks, either. In overall terms, Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries (except Pakistan perhaps, to an extent) will find Mr. Karzai’s new team easy to work with. The new set-up will include personalities who are familiar figures to key regional capitals such as Moscow, Tehran, Tashkent and Dushanbe. The emergence of such a pan-Afghan team in Kabul will be reassuring for these regional capitals.</b> Arguably, with a regime shaping up in Kabul that is high on its “Afghan-ness,” the U.S. will also come under greater pressure to evolve a consensus approach to the war strategy and the search for a settlement.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov summed up the paradigm when he said last week: “The Bush administration sinned by a lopsided interpretation of collective efforts … Obama has announced a different philosophy — that of collective action, which calls for joint analysis, decision-making and implementation … So far, inertia lingers at the implementers’ level in the U.S. who still follow the well-trodden track, trying to decide anything and everything beforehand for others. But as we felt during the contacts, President Obama has an absolutely clear understanding that it is necessary to enlist intellectual resources from all the states that can contribute to devising a strategy.”

The big question, however, is<b> how the Taliban will view the Afghan political developments.</b> A complex picture is emerging. <b>The U.S. is inching closer to discussing a modus vivendi with the Taliban, while Mr. Karzai has partners who have dealings with the Taliban.</b> (Ironically, Mr. Wali Karzai is one such skilled politician who is deeply immersed in the Taliban folklore.) <b>It will not be surprising if a political accommodation is reached with the powerful Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. It is foolhardy to assess that old war horses of the Northern Alliance have a closed mind on the Taliban — or, for that matter, on Pakistan.</b> Simply put, that is not how the Afghan political culture works. <b>What the outside world — including neighbouring capitals like New Delhi — often fails to realise is that the battle lines are never really clear-cut in the Hindu Kush. In fact, they never were. This is only to be expected in a civil war that is essentially rooted in a fratricidal strife.</b>

<b>If Mr. Hekmatyar walks over, a virtual polarisation of the Mujahideen will have taken place. We will then find ourselves in a priori history, lodged somewhere in the early 1990s after the famous U.N. diplomat Diego Cordovez and the Red Army had departed from the Hindu Kush and before the Taliban poured out of the Pakistani madrasas to fill in the power vacuum. If Mr. Hekmatyar chooses politics to war, a major hurdle will also have been crossed in isolating the hardline elements within the Taliban — the so-called Quetta shura and the Haqqani network.</b>

( The writer is a former diplomat.)


So what he is saying is Hekmatyar is the key figure to watch. The real question is who is Hekmatyar dealig with US or Karzai or both?
<b>Rehashed legislation allows husbands to deny wives food if they fail to obey sexual demands</b>

Afghanistan has quietly passed a law permitting Shia men to deny their wives food and sustenance if they refuse to obey their husbands' sexual demands, despite international outrage over an earlier version of the legislation which President Hamid Karzai had promised to review.

The new final draft of the legislation also grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers, and requires women to get permission from their husbands to work.

"It also effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying 'blood money' to a girl who was injured when he raped her," the US charity Human Rights Watch said.

In early April, Barack Obama and Gordon Brown joined an international chorus of condemnation when the Guardian revealed that the earlier version of the law legalised rape within marriage, according to the UN.

Although Karzai appeared to back down, activists say the revised version of the law still contains repressive measures and contradicts the Afghan constitution and international treaties signed by the country.

Islamic law experts and human rights activists say that although the language of the original law has been changed, many of the provisions that alarmed women's rights groups remain, including this one: "Tamkeen is the readiness of the wife to submit to her husband's reasonable sexual enjoyment, and her prohibition from going out of the house, except in extreme circumstances, without her husband's permission. If any of the above provisions are not followed by the wife she is considered disobedient."

The law has been backed by the hardline Shia cleric Ayatollah Mohseni, who is thought to have influence over the voting intentions of some of the country's Shias, which make up around 20% of the population. Karzai has assiduously courted such minority leaders in the run up to next Thursday's election, which is likely to be a close run thing, according to a poll released yesterday.

Human Rights Watch, which has obtained a copy of the final law, called on all candidates to pledge to repeal the law, which it says contradicts Afghanistan's own constitution.

The group said that Karzai had "made an unthinkable deal to sell Afghan women out in the support of fundamentalists in the August 20 election".

Brad Adams, the organisation's Asia director, said: "The rights of Afghan women are being ripped up by powerful men who are using women as pawns in manoeuvres to gain power.

"These kinds of barbaric laws were supposed to have been relegated to the past with the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, yet Karzai has revived them and given them his official stamp of approval."

The latest opinion poll by US democracy group the International Republican Institute showed that although Karzai was up 13 points to 44% since the last survey in May, his closest rival, Abdullah Abdullah, had soared from 7% to 26%.

If those numbers prove accurate, it would mean the contest would have to go to a second round run-off vote in early October. In that scenario, 50% of voters said they would vote for Karzai and 29% for Abdullah.

The survey was conducted in mid to late July, so it is not known whether Abdullah has made further gains on Karzai.

He could further increase his chance of victory by joining forces with Ashraf Ghani, the former finance minister who is also running on a platform fiercely critical of Karzai.

Fifty-eight per cent of the 2,400 people polled by IRI said they would like to see an alliance between Abdullah and Ghani, who is polling in fourth place.

comments on above news:

Ryan Gilani wrote:
Woah woah woah. Lets all take a step back here and engage in a little cultural comparison.

In Afghanistan if a woman refuses to sex her man he can refuse to feed her.
In America a man must buy a woman multiple expensive meals before she chooses whether or not to sex him.

Angus McFarlane wrote:
The no-sex-no-food law is based on Islamic law, Sharia. And as you can't have Sharia-lite, you can see what Islam intends to impose on Britain when it becomes strong enough.

Derek Smith wrote:
It is less than thirty years since a man could not rape his wife in this country so perhaps the moral high ground is not available to us in this matter.
<b>Obama: I'd Fire Afghan Decision Leakers</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Reid reports the president said it's still several weeks before he makes a decision on how many more troops to send to Afghanistan.

<b>"Afghans are responsible for their own security," Mr. Obama said. "We have to get Pakistan involved in a more effective way.</b> There is a range of things we have to do at this point; it's fine-tuning a strategy that we can be confident we'll be successful. I think that Gen. (Stanley) McChrystal shares the same goal I do, for us to protect homeland, protect our allies and U.S. interests around the world."

Reid says he asked the president if he's as angry as Defense Secretary Robert Gates about all the leaks coming out of his administration about the Afghanistan decision.

"I think I'm angrier than Bob Gates about it," Mr. Obama replied. "We have deliberations in the situation room for a reason; we're making life and death decisions that affect how our troops are able to operate in a theater of war. For people to be releasing info in the course of deliberations is not appropriate."

"A firing offense?" Reid inquired.

"Absolutely," Mr. Obama responded. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Solution will be, give Paki Kashmir and Afghanistan will fool them again.
[url="http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/12/30/afghanistan.us.casualties/index.html"]Attacks kill 8 purported CIA employees, 5 Canadians in Afghanistan[/url]
[url="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126225941186711671.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories"]Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan Devastates Critical Hub for CIA Activities[/url]
Quote:Several former intelligence officials described the attack in Afghanistan as "devastating" to the agency. A number of the officers killed had been counterterrorism operatives since before the 9/11 attacks.

The loss of seven officers is significant for a relatively small agency whose workforce is estimated to be 10,000 or more, [color="#FF0000"]but it's all the more damaging because those lost represented so much collective experience.[/color]

Canadian soldiers patrol in the southern city of Kandahar on December 31.

They were "experienced frontline officers and their knowledge and expertise will be sorely missed" and not easily regenerated, said Henry A. Crumpton, who led the CIA campaign in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002.

The number of casualties in Wednesday's attack was second to those sustained in the Beirut embassy bombing in 1983, which killed eight CIA officers. The Beirut bombing hit the agency's Middle East group hard, and was one of the key events that drove the creation of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center a few years later.

"It will mark this generation the same way Beirut marked mine," said Ron Marks, a 16-year CIA veteran, who left the agency in 1999. With CIA officers deployed to the far reaches of Afghanistan and Pakistan for extended periods, he said, the agency has been lucky to have avoided such attacks for as long as it did.
Quote:The CIA's Khost base was established in the months after the 9/11 attacks as the U.S. launched its CIA-led offensive against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. It began as a makeshift center for CIA-Afghan operations. By mid-2002, it had grown into a major counterterrorism hub for joint operations with CIA, military Special Operations forces and Afghan allies.

The Taliban says it's responsible for two deadly bombings Wednesday, one inside a CIA base and another that killed Canadian troops and a journalist embedded with them. Video courtesy of Reuters.

Its primary role has been to run informant networks in Afghanistan and over the border, said one former agency official. "That was one of the bases where they were paying people and running people and sending them into Pakistan," he said.

The CIA's activities on the base were an open secret locally, he added, "al Qaeda knows it and the townspeople know it and the Taliban know it."

The attack in Afghanistan came during an already difficult week for the CIA, which has taken a beating in Washington with President Barack Obama issuing a blunt critique of intelligence failures in advance of the botched Christmas Day terrorist attack.
[url="http://www.myfreepress.net/blog/post/Jason/2010/01/pakistan-taliban-say-they-carried-out-cia-attack/"]Pakistan Taliban say they carried out CIA attack[/url]
Quote:The Pakistani Taliban/ISI claimed Friday that they used a turncoat CIA operative to carry out a suicide bombing that killed seven American CIA employees in Afghanistan as revenge for a top militant leader's death in a U.S. missile strike.

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