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“The War is Worth Waging”: Afghanistan’s Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

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The War on Afghanistan is a Profit driven “Resource War”.

 
"The War is Worth Waging": Afghanistan's Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

Author’s Note

US and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan more than 16 years ago in October 2001. It’s has been a continuous war marked by US military occupation.

The justification is “counterterrorism”.  Afghanistan is defined as a state sponsor of terrorism, allegedly responsible for attacking America on September 11, 2001. 

The war on Afghanistan continues to be heralded as a war of retribution in response to the 9/11 attacks. US troops are still present and deployed in Afghanistan.

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The legal argument used by Washington and NATO to invade and occupy Afghanistan under “the doctrine of collective security” was that the September 11 2001 attacks constituted an undeclared “armed attack” “from abroad” by an unnamed foreign power, namely Afghanistan. 

Yet there were no Afghan fighter planes in the skies of New York on the morning of September 11, 2001. 

This article, first published in June 2010, points to the “real economic reasons”  why US-NATO forces invaded Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.  

Under the Afghan-US security pact,  established under Obama’s Asian pivot, Washington and its NATO partners have established a permanent military presence in Afghanistan, with military facilities located within proximity of China’s Western frontier.  The pact was intended to allow the US to maintain their nine permanent military bases, strategically located on the borders of  China, Pakistan and Iran as well as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

In recent developments, President Trump in his February 28, 2017 address to a joint session of  Congress vowed to “demolish and destroy” terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq as well as in Afghanistan under a fake counter-terrorism mandate.

According to Foreign Affairs, “there are more U.S. military forces deployed there [Afghanistan] than to any other active combat zone” and their mandate is to go after the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS (which are supported covertly by US intelligence). 

There is both a geopolitical as well as an economic agenda in Afghanistan requiring the permanent presence of US troops.

In addition to its vast mineral and gas reserves, Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the World’s supply of opium which is used to produce grade 4 heroin.

US military bases in Afghanistan are also intent upon protecting the multibillion narcotics trade.  Narcotics, at present, constitutes the centerpiece of Afghanistan’s export economy.

The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year.

“The highest concentration of NATO servicemen in Afghanistan is being accompanied with the highest concentration of opium poppy, ….  That situation causes doubts about the anti-terrorist mission and leads to the conclusion about catastrophic consequences of the eight-year stay [of coalition forces] in Afghanistan,” (Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service head Viktor Ivanov, January 2010)

Michel Chossudovsky,  March 25, 2017

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“The War is Worth Waging”: Afghanistan’s Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

The War on Afghanistan is a Profit driven “Resource War”.

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

October 2010

The 2001 bombing and invasion of Afghanistan has been presented to World public opinion as a “Just War”, a war directed against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a war to eliminate “Islamic terrorism” and instate Western style democracy.

The economic dimensions of  the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) are rarely mentioned. The post 9/11 “counter-terrorism campaign” has served to obfuscate the real objectives of the US-NATO war.

The war on Afghanistan is part of a profit driven agenda: a war of economic conquest and plunder,  ”a resource war”.

While Afghanistan is acknowledged as a strategic hub in Central Asia, bordering on the former Soviet Union, China and Iran, at the crossroads of pipeline routes and major oil and gas reserves, its huge mineral wealth as well as its untapped natural gas reserves have remained, until June 2010, totally unknown to the American public.

According to a joint report by the Pentagon, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and USAID, Afghanistan is now said to possess “previously unknown” and untapped mineral reserves, estimated authoritatively to be of the order of one trillion dollars (New York Times, U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, See also BBC, 14 June 2010).

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.

While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said… “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines. (New York Times, op. cit.)

Afghanistan could become, according to The New York Times “the Saudi Arabia of lithium”. “Lithium is an increasingly vital resource, used in batteries for everything from mobile phones to laptops and key to the future of the electric car.” At present Chile, Australia, China and Argentina are the main suppliers of lithium to the world market. Bolivia and Chile are the countries with the largest known reserves of lithium. “The Pentagon has been conducting ground surveys in western Afghanistan. “Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large as those of Bolivia” (U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, see also Lithium – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

“Previously Unknown Deposits” of Minerals in Afghanistan

The Pentagon’s near one trillion dollar “estimate” of previously “unknown deposits” is a useful smokescreen. The Pentagon one trillion dollar figure is more a trumped up number rather than an estimate:  “We took a look at what we knew to be there, and asked what would it be worth now in terms of today’s dollars. The trillion dollar figure seemed to be newsworthy.” (The Sunday Times, London, June 15 2010, emphasis added)

Moreover, the results of a US Geological Survey study (quoted in the Pentagon memo) on Afghanistan’s mineral wealth were revealed three years back, at a 2007 Conference organized by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce. The matter of Afghanistan’s mineral riches, however, was not considered newsworthy at the time.

The US Administration’s acknowledgment that it first took cognizance of Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth  following the release of the USGS 2007 report is an obvious red herring. Afghanistan’s mineral wealth and energy resources (including natural gas) were known to both America’s business elites and the US government prior to the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1988).

Geological surveys conducted by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and early 1980s confirm the existence of  vast reserves of copper (among the largest in Eurasia), iron, high grade chrome ore, uranium, beryl, barite, lead, zinc, fluorspar, bauxite, lithium, tantalum, emeralds, gold and silver.(Afghanistan, Mining Annual Review, The Mining Journal,  June, 1984). These surveys suggest that the actual value of these reserves could indeed be substantially larger than the one trillion dollars “estimate” intimated by the Pentagon-USCG-USAID study.

More recently, in a 2002 report, the Kremlin confirmed what was already known: “It’s no secret that Afghanistan possesses rich reserves, in particular of copper at the Aynak deposit, iron ore in Khojagek, uranium, polymetalic ore, oil and gas,” (RIA Novosti, January 6, 2002):

“Afghanistan has never been anyone’s colony – no foreigner had ever “dug” here before the 1950s. The Hindu Kush mountains, stretching, together with their foothills, over a vast area in Afghanistan, are where the minerals lie. Over the past 40 years, several dozen deposits have been discovered in Afghanistan, and most of these discoveries were sensational. They were kept secret, however, but even so certain facts have recently become known.

It turns out that Afghanistan possesses reserves of nonferrous and ferrous metals and precious stones, and, if exploited, they would possibly be able to cover even the earnings from the drug industry. The copper deposit in Aynak in the southern Afghan Helmand Province is said to be the largest in the Eurasian continent, and its location (40 km from Kabul) makes it cheap to develop. The iron ore deposit at Hajigak in the central Bamian Province yields ore of an extraordinarily high quality, the reserves of which are estimated to be 500m tonnes. A coal deposit has also been discovered not far from there.

Afghanistan is spoken of as a transit country for oil and gas. However, only a very few people know that Soviet specialists discovered huge gas reserves there in the 1960s and built the first gas pipeline in the country to supply gas to Uzbekistan. At that time, the Soviet Union used to receive 2.5 bn cubic metres of Afghan gas annually. During the same period, large deposits of gold, fluorite, barytes and marble onyxes that have a very rare pattern were found.

However, the pegmatite fields discovered to the east of Kabul are a real sensation. Rubies, beryllium, emeralds and kunzites and hiddenites that cannot be found anywhere else – the deposits of these precious stones stretch for hundreds of kilometres. Also, the rocks containing the rare metals beryllium, thorium, lithium and tantalum are of strategic importance (they are used in air and spacecraft construction).

The war is worth waging. … (Olga Borisova, “Afghanistan – the Emerald Country”, Karavan, Almaty, original Russian, translated by BBC News Services, Apr 26, 2002. p. 10, emphasis added.)

While public opinion was fed images of a war torn resourceless developing country, the realities are otherwise: Afghanstan is a rich country as confirmed by Soviet era geological surveys.

The issue of “previously unknown deposits” sustains a falsehood. It excludes Afghanstan’s vast mineral wealth as a justifiable casus belli. It says that the Pentagon only recently became aware that Afghanistan was among the World’s most wealthy mineral economies, comparable to The Democratic Republic of the Congo or former Zaire of the Mobutu era. The Soviet geopolitical reports were known. During the Cold War, all this information was known in minute detail:

… Extensive Soviet exploration produced superb geological maps and reports that listed more than 1,400 mineral outcroppings, along with about 70 commercially viable deposits … The Soviet Union subsequently committed more than $650 million for resource exploration and development in Afghanistan, with proposed projects including an oil refinery capable of producing a half-million tons per annum, as well as a smelting complex for the Ainak deposit that was to have produced 1.5 million tons of copper per year. In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal a subsequent World Bank analysis projected that the Ainak copper production alone could eventually capture as much as 2 percent of the annual world market. The country is also blessed with massive coal deposits, one of which, the Hajigak iron deposit, in the Hindu Kush mountain range west of Kabul, is assessed as one of the largest high-grade deposits in the world. (John C. K. Daly,  Analysis: Afghanistan’s untapped energy, UPI Energy, October 24, 2008, emphasis added)

Afghanistan’s Natural Gas

Afghanistan is a land bridge. The 2001 U.S. led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has been analysed by critics of US foreign policy as a means to securing control  over the strategic trans-Afghan transport corridor which links the Caspian sea basin to the Arabian sea.

Several trans-Afghan oil and gas pipeline projects have been contemplated including the planned $8.0 billion TAPI pipeline project (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India) of 1900 km., which would transport Turkmen natural gas across Afghanistan in what is described as a “crucial transit corridor”. (See Gary Olson, Afghanistan has never been the ‘good and necessary’ war; it’s about control of oil, The Morning Call, October 1, 2009). Military escalation under the extended Af-Pak war bears a relationship to TAPI. Turkmenistan possesses third largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran. Strategic control over the transport routes out of Turkmenistan have been part of Washington’s agenda since the collapse of the Soviet union in 1991.

What was rarely contemplated in pipeline geopolitics, however, is that Afghanistan is not only adjacent to countries which are rich in oil and natural gas (e.g Turkmenistan), it also possesses within its territory sizeable untapped reserves of natural gas, coal  and oil. Soviet estimates of the 1970s placed “Afghanistan’s ‘explored’ (proved plus probable) gas reserves at about 5  trillion cubic feet. The Hodja-Gugerdag’s initial reserves were placed at slightly more than 2 tcf.” (See, The Soviet Union to retain influence in Afghanistan, Oil & Gas Journal, May 2, 1988).

The US.Energy Information Administration (EIA) acknowledged in 2008 that Afghanistan’s natural gas reserves are “substantial”:

“As northern Afghanistan is a ‘southward extension of Central Asia’s highly prolific, natural gas-prone Amu Darya Basin,’ Afghanistan ‘has proven, probable and possible natural gas reserves of about 5 trillion cubic feet.’ (UPI, John C.K. Daly, Analysis: Afghanistan’s untapped energy, October 24, 2008)

From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979, Washington’s objective has been to sustain a geopolitical foothold in Central Asia.

The Golden Crescent Drug Trade

America’s covert war, namely its support to the Mujahideen “Freedom fighters” (aka Al Qaeda) was also geared towards the development of the Golden Crescent trade in opiates, which was used by US intelligence to fund the insurgency directed against the Soviets.1

Instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war and protected by the CIA, the drug trade developed over the years into a highly lucrative multibillion undertaking. It was the cornerstone of America’s covert war in the 1980s. Today, under US-NATO military occupation, the drug trade generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, see also Michel Chossudovsky, Heroin is “Good for Your Health”: Occupation Forces support Afghan Narcotics Trade, Global Research, April 29, 2007)

Towards an Economy of Plunder

The US media, in chorus, has upheld the “recent discovery” of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth as “a solution” to the development of the country’s war torn economy as well as a means to eliminating poverty. The 2001 US-NATO invasion and occupation has set the stage for their appropriation by Western mining and energy conglomerates.

The war on Afghanistan is  a profit driven “resource war”.

Under US and allied occupation, this mineral wealth is slated to be plundered, once the country has been pacified, by a handful of multinational mining conglomerates. According to Olga Borisova, writing in the months following the October 2001 invasion, the US-led “war on terrorism [will be transformed] into a colonial policy of influencing a fabulously wealthy country.” (Borisova, op cit).

Part of the US-NATO agenda is also to eventually take possession of Afghanistan’s reserves of natural gas, as well as prevent the development of competing Russian, Iranian and Chinese energy interests in Afghanistan.

Note

1. The Golden Crescent trade in opiates constitutes, at present, the centerpiece of Afghanistan’s export economy. The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year.

Since the 2001 invasion, narcotics production in Afghanistan  has increased more than 35 times. In 2009, opium production stood at 6900 tons, compared to less than 200 tons in 2001. In this regard, the multibillion dollar earnings resulting from the Afghan opium production largely occur outside Afghanistan. According to United Nations data, the revenues of the drug trade accruing to the local economy are of the order of 2-3 billion annually.

In contrast with the Worldwide sales of heroin resulting from the trade in Afghan opiates, in excess of $200 billion. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism”, Global Research, Montreal, 2005)

ORDER DIRECTLY FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH

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America’s “War on Terrorism”

Michel Chossudovsky

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The Resolve of the Republic Day 2017 for an India of Liberty and Equality

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On the 67th anniversary of its proclamation, the Indian Republic finds itself in a veritable state of siege. The government of the day and the corporate-communal cabal that it represents and serves so brazenly have mounted a multi-pronged assault on the constitutional basis and framework of the Republic of India. The principles and values enunciated in the Constitution are being subverted in every possible way and the institutions that had been built to promote and protect the rights of the citizens and the collective interests and aspirations of the people are being systematically hijacked and destroyed.

Indeed, the RSS has time and again made it clear that it does not recognise the Constitution as the basis of the modern Indian Republic. For the RSS, the Republic is just an ornamental attire for the ancient civilization of India; and the RSS notion of civilization is more a matter of mythology than history. Manusmriti, that obnoxious charter of social slavery and human indignity is the real constitution for the RSS. Just the other day, speaking at the Jaipur Literature Festival RSS ideologue Vaidya yet again questioned the inclusion of the word ‘secular’ in the Preamble to the Constitution while calling for an end to the system of reservations. Caste is the essential pillar of the RSS’s its cherished Brahminical order so reservation continues to be an anathema.

What makes the situation really alarming is that the RSS war on the Constitution and the secular democratic character of the Indian Republic is today being waged from the vantage position of state power. And Narendra Modi is spearheading this war with his brazenly dictatorial style of governance. The absolutely arbitrary way the government has imposed the disastrous demonetization decision on an unsuspecting citizenry has no parallels in the history of the Republic. Defying every tenet of economic rationality and established procedures of collective functioning and parliamentary accountability, the Prime Minister subjected the country to an unprecedented spell of economic disruption and devastation. NarendraModiis invoking the common people’s desire to punish the corrupt and check growing inequality, but the fact is in the first two years of his rule, the share of the top 1% has jumped from 49% to 58% of the total wealth in the country.

Nearly three months since the scrapping of 86% of currency in circulation, the cash crunch still continues to dog the people. And the chaos on the cash front has now triggered a serious economic slowdown. What is really galling is that instead of making any efforts to address the grave situation and mitigate the crisis, the government is coercing the predominantly cash-reliant unorganised sector and small and medium enterprises that account for the lion’s share of employment in India to go for digital transactions, thereby subjecting the entire economy to a severe squeeze. The coercive push for cashless transactions is exposing the cash-dependent and digitally ill-equipped Indian economy to increased financial uncertainty and unprecedented domination of global capital and big corporations.

The Modi government is also trying to redefine the Republic by amending the Citizenship Act of 1955. In keeping with the BJP’s well-known concept of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to introduce a distinction among refugees on the basis of their religious affiliation and identity. According to theAmendment Bill, non-Muslim refugees coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan without valid travel documents would not be treated as illegal migrants and would be allowed to apply for Indian Citizenship on easier terms than are currently prescribed for persons seeking the status of naturalised Indian citizens. This is a brazen attempt to define citizenship on a religious basis and sanctify the hounding of Muslim immigrants as infiltrators.

People with diverse religious affiliations may and do come to India to seek refuge and asylum. They are propelled by a variety of circumstances ranging from social and political persecution to economic misery, natural calamities and climate change. In a secular democratic republic, religious affiliation must not be made the basis to decide on either citizenship or the question of treating refugees with justice, dignity and humanitarian considerations. The Bill also seeks to cancel the registration of Overseas Citizens of India if they are found to violate any Indian law ‘for the time being in force’. While the government provides safe passage to economic offenders like Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya, it evidently seeks to stifle dissent among NRIs and OCIs by threatening them with deregistration for opposing injustice and oppression in India which can easily invite prosecution under one of the many draconian laws currently in force.

Clearly, the Sangh brigade wants Indians to behave like docile subjects blindly obeying the rulers and not as free citizens equipped with fundamental rights including the right to dissent which is absolutely central to democracy. Their idea of citizenship is derived from the obnoxious Manuvadi order that justifies coercion and domination while incriminating every quest for justice, freedom and equality. The Sangh brigade champions the worst of India’s feudal traditions and colonial customs, albeit with the full backing of India’s crony capitalists and the masters of the imperialist world order. We can see this idea in action whether in the treatment meted out to Indian citizens in the name of demonetization or in every other coercive attempt to impose their parameters of pseudo-patriotism and communal nationalism.

Republic Day 2017 therefore calls upon us to uphold the dreams and rights of free citizens to develop modern India on the cardinal principles of liberty, equality and fraternity and defeat every dictatorial attempt to subject the Indian people to a renewed reign of social slavery and submission.

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India: BJP’s Poisonous Poll Campaign

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IN THE ONGOING ASSEMBLY ELECTION CAMPAIGN in various states, most notably the state of Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has once again unleashed a communal campaign aimed at consolidating Hindu voters against the imaginary Muslim enemy.

The BJP Manifesto for Uttar Pradesh promises to set up ‘anti-Romeo quads’ outside college campuses. While the BJP President Amit Shah claims these are aimed at curbing incidents of sexual harassment of women students, the BJP’s national co-convenor Sunil Bharala has made the communal and anti-women agenda of ‘anti-Romeo squads’ amply clear. Bharala declared that the squads are aimed at acting against Muslim men involved in “love jehad” – the BJP’s term for consensual relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women.

This is not the first time the BJP has invoked the bogey of “love jehad” in an election campaign. Bharala also recalled that danger of “love jehad” was the rallying cry for the communal violence of Muzaffarnagar in 2013 that had helped Modi win the 2014 polls. During the 2014 poll campaign, BJP President Amit Shah had invoked the Muzaffarnagar communal violence to ask the Jat community to vote BJP, saying “people are forced to riot” when “a community violates the honour of our daughters and sisters.” A recently leaked audio clip also revealed Amit Shah appealing to the Jat community not to desert the BJP in 2017, reminding them that their proximity to “BJP ideology” goes back several centuries, “farther back than riots.” Shah, in this appeal, reminded the Jats that Sanjeey Balyan (Modi Cabinet Minister accused in Muzaffarnagar riots) had “aged 7 years in the past 2 years helping to free riot-accused (Jat) boys.” In flagrant violation of EC rules against communal and casteist campaigns, the BJP is invoking imaginary rapes and real anti-Muslim riots to appeal to Jats and Hindus to vote for the BJP.

The BJP’s star campaigner in UP Yogi Adityanath has also repeatedly invoked the “dangers of love jehad” and campaigned for “anti-Romeo squads.” It may be remembered that the same Adityanath was among the BJP MPs who, in 2010, publicly declared their defiance against the party whip issued to vote for the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament. Adityanath’s attitude sums up the BJP’s ideology towards women: their posture of ‘protection’ only masks their hostility to women’s own autonomy and assertion.

Along with “love jehad”, Adityanath is leading BJP’s UP campaign with another mythical bogey: that of the “exodus of Hindus from Kairana.” Adityanath has compared Kairana in Western UP to Kashmir in 1990, claiming that Hindus are being forced to flee – in spite of the fact that Hindu residents of Kairana have declared such claims of a communal exodus to be bogus. Adityanath claims that Eastern UP is free from such eviction of Hindus and crimes against Hindu women, because of the countervailing presence of his own vigilante Hindutva brigade.

The BJP Manifesto and campaign in UP also promises to abolish the practice of triple talaq – declaration of divorce in one sitting – prevalent among Muslims. A whole gamut of personal laws – including but not confined to Muslim personal laws – require reform to ensure gender justice. By focusing on triple talaq alone, the BJP projects the Muslim community as uniquely opposed to gender justice and progress. The BJP Manifesto’s promises of ‘anti-Romeo squads’ (with the undertone of protecting Hindu women from Muslim men) and ‘abolition of triple talaq’ (to protect Muslim women from Muslim men) offers a platform for anti-Muslim consolidation in a progressive and pro-women guise.

Modi, addressing election rallies, taunted the former PM Manmohan Singh for his ability to ‘wear a raincoat while taking a shower’ – i.e maintain a clean image while being surrounded by scams. The metaphor applies much more aptly to Modi himself. Manmohan Singh could project an appearance for personal honesty in spite of his Government’s involvement in rampant scams and crony capitalism, but he and his Government did face the brunt of public anger for the same. Modi both as CM of Gujarat and as PM of the country has managed to evade scrutiny and accountability not only for cold-blooded encounter killings on his watch, but also for violations of civil liberties and witch-hunt of activists as well as for a series of scams and instances of crony capitalism benefiting corporations like Adani, the Ambani brothers, Raheja, Mallya and Lalit Modi.

Modi has mastered the art of wearing a raincoat not only in a scam-shower but in a bloodbath. His lieutenants are openly using communal mud and blood to tarnish the poll climate – even as Modi himself cloaks himself in the raincoat of ‘development.’ In fact, Modi, Amit Shah and the BJP hope that the communal hate-mongering will be able to deflect from widespread public resentment against the Note Ban diktat. The ongoing Assembly polls are an occasion to administer a firm rebuff to the communal propaganda of the BJP and assert the democratic concerns of the people.

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Dance of Fascism in Delhi University

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The events of Delhi University are ominous. ABVP, the stormtroopers of the RSS, rioted for two consecutive days in Delhi University, using bricks, stones and sticks to prevent a seminar from taking place. The Delhi Police colluded with this assault, with its men joining ABVP in assaulting women students and journalists. Three constables have now been suspended – but this gesture only begs the question about who was giving the orders to Delhi Police to permit a riot on the University campus?

Several facts are notable here. The Delhi Police refused to file an FIR against the ABVP cadre that were indulging in open, wanton violence and celebrating by dancing atop a Delhi Police bus. Instead the Delhi Police did a lathi charge on the students peacefully waiting outside the police station for an FIR to be lodged. Rights activists have pointed out that the Supreme Court judgement in Lalita Kumari vs State of UP (2013) has laid down mandatory guidelines for police to register an FIR in case of a cognizable offence. On whose orders did the Police refuse to file an FIR against the many instances of openly recorded violence by cadre of the ruling party’s student outfit?

It emerges that the DCP in charge of the Delhi University North Campus is the same Jatin Narwal who, as DCP in charge of Patiala Court last year, had allowed goons to rough up JNUSU President Kanhaiya as well as teachers, lawyers, journalists and activists inside the Court premises last year. Narwal still faces an ongoing case in the Supreme Court regarding his role on that occasion. There appears to be a clear pattern where the Police officer knowingly allows a pre-planned assault by an organised mob, as the police force stays away from acting to arrest or disperse the mob.

The remarks of Minister for State for Home Kiren Rijiju on the episode further reinforce the conviction that the ABVP riot had the sanction of the Home Ministry under which the Delhi Police operates. Mr Rijiju has declared that “No anti-India slogans will be allowed in the name of freedom of speech. Freedom of expression in the country does not give anyone the right to make college campuses hub of anti-national activity.” This statement begs many questions.

First, the ABVP violently attacked a seminar – on the pretext of the speakers it invited and not on the basis of any slogans. Second, is the Minister implying that the ABVP has the freedom to throw stones and bricks and assault teachers, journalists and students but students do not have the freedom to debate? Third, as a representative of the country’s Home Ministry Mr Rijiju should answer, whether he believes it is nationalist of the police in Bastar to rape and murder adivasi women – but anti-national of a JNU activist to speak about such rapes and murders? Is his Ministry approving of the police-approved vigilante groups that attacked Bela Bhatia or Soni Sori in Bastar, just as the police-approved ABVP attacked students and teachers in Delhi University?

Fourth, how can ABVP or the BJP have any right to brand Umar Khalid as ‘anti-national’? The Delhi Police is yet to chargesheet Khalid for his alleged acts of ‘sedition’ last year. Yet the ABVP is using Khalid’s presence at a Seminar to unleash a riot against thousands of students and teachers waiting to hear him speak. Fifth, a number of men accused of being ISI agents have been found linked to the BJP and VHP. Why do arrests of their men for ISI links not make BJP and VHP ‘anti-national,’ but Umar Khalid or Shehla Rashid are declared ‘anti-national’? Is it because of their outspoken views against Hindutva and the Modi Government?

Finally, what views are ‘anti-national’? ABVP leader, former Joint Secretary of JNUSU Saurabh Sharma declares on Twitter that JNU is anti-national because it is a hurdle to India’s becoming a Hindu Nation. Why is it not ‘anti-national’ for ABVP to call for turning secular India into a Hindu Nation, but ‘anti-national’ for students to support – or discuss and debate – Kashmir’s right to self-determination or Bastar’s right to democracy?

On campuses and in the country, the freedom to express dissent, and debate freely is the essence of democracy. For ruling party-backed goons to attack democracy with open violence in the capital city, is a sign of growing fascist forces in India. The students and teachers of Universities are at the forefront of the resistance to fascism however – as displayed by an inspiring march in Delhi University that defended the ‘right to debate and dialogue’ from the violence unleashed by goons.

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How Orientalism Pitted Hindus against Muslims in India?

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The most outstanding feature of Islam is its history; if you study Islamic history, you would come to realize that Islam did not spread by force alone, it was the superior moral appeal of its peerless ethics that won the hearts and minds of medieval masses. For instance: Mongols conquered most of the eastern lands of the Islamic Empire during the thirteenth century, however, the Muslims of those lands did not convert to the religion of the conquerors: that is, the Mongolian Shamanism. Instead, the conquerors adopted the religion of the vanquished, i.e. Islam. Not only the Mongols, but several Turkish tribes also voluntarily converted to Islam. Such was the beauty of Islamic teachings and its sublime moral appeal in ancient times.

During the medieval times, when Europe was going through an age of intellectual and moral regression, Islamic culture thrived and flourished under the Abbasids, Ottomans and Mughals. Muslims ruled over India for more than six centuries; despite that, at the time of the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, Hindus outnumbered Muslims three to one (there were only 100 million Muslims in the population of 400 million Indians in 1947). That’s how tolerant and inclusive Islamic culture was back then. By comparison, the Red Indians of America and the Aborigines of Australia were reduced to a tiny minority of those continents after the European invasions.

The Sultanate of Delhi and the Mughal Empire were regarded as benevolent rulers by ancient historians. But when India was conquered by the British Empire, their Orientalist historians deliberately propagated the myth of supposedly “savage and rapacious” rule of Muslims in India in order to sow the seeds of dissension between Muslims and Hindus. In the nineteenth century, the newly established British education system in India deliberately portrayed Muslim rulers of India as marauders, rapists and looters in order to malign them. By contrast, the British rule in India was portrayed in a positive light: that the British Empire built roads and railways and established schools, colleges and hospitals in India.

If we were to compare the British and Muslim rules in India, the Muslim rulers at least resided in India and shared their wealth and fortune with their subjects. The British rule, on the other hand, was a foreign rule; the affairs of the state were run by viceroys and governors on the behalf of the monarchs of England who resided thousands of miles away in London. A small number of European colonizers in India treated their subjects as untouchables; they traded raw materials for pennies and sent finished goods back to the Indian market with huge profits, thus enriching themselves and the British Empire.

Up until 1857, the Hindus and Muslims of India were united enough to rise up in arms together against the British colonizers under the nominal command of the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar. But after that, the British education system introduced by Lord Macaulay in India entrenched communal divisions and made it virtually impossible for Hindus and Muslims to understand each other, even though both religious communities were the victims of exploitation of foreign rule.

Regarding the notion peddled by the Orientalist historians that Muslims or Islam were somehow foreign to India, we need to settle on the definition of nativity first. If an Indian settles in the US, for instance, how would you define such a first generation immigrant? Since he was brought up in India and subsequently migrated to a Western country, therefore such a first generation Indian-American would have more in common with Indians than Americans, as such. But how would you identify the children of an immigrant who have been brought up and educated in the West? The second generation Indian-Americans, for all practical purposes, would be more American than Indian in their outlooks.

Similarly, although I concede that the invading armies of Muslim rulers from Central Asia, Afghanistan and Iran were foreign to India; but once they settled in India, made Delhi their seat of governance, intermarried and gave birth to Indian children, then how come the descendants of such benevolent rulers be labeled as foreign invaders? Excluding a few odd adventurers, like Mahmud of Ghazni, who had his seat of government in Afghanistan but plundered the wealth of India by conducting raids on Somnath, the Muslim rulers of India, particularly the Sultanate of Delhi and the Mughal Empire, were as much native to India as the Hindu and Sikh rajas and maharajas.

Notwithstanding, the only true sociological definition of nation is ethno-linguistic group. The concept of modern nation state, particularly in multiethnic federations like India and Pakistan, is an artificial construct which is predicated on nothing substantive but on myths, fables and symbols. Rather than monolithic communities, the Hindus and Muslims of India were more parochial and tribal in character.

The astute Orientalist historians of British India debunked the myth of six centuries’ old Muslim rule in India by calling them “marauders” and substituted it with the fables of the pre-Christ Maurya Empire in order to forge and reify Hindu identity against Muslims. The primary concern of impoverished Indian masses was to earn bread and butter for their families. The metanarratives of Hindu and Muslim nationalism were taught by the British rulers, Hindu elites and Muslim ashrafiya to their subjects in order to distract and exploit them.

Here, let me clarify that I am not giving a free pass to the Muslim rulers of India. Their rule must have been as tyrannical as any other undemocratic, elitist rule throughout the history has been. I am only contending that the Muslim rulers were deliberately singled out and vilified in order to sow the seeds of dissension between the two communities.

After all, if the British rulers who resided in England and ruled over India can be hailed as saviors who built roads and railways and established schools, colleges and hospitals, not by academics but by common Indian citizens, then why can’t the Sultanate of Delhi and the Mughal Empire that ensured peace and stability in India and built architectural wonders in Delhi, Lahore and Agra be granted a similar level of deference?

By the British divide-and-rule policy in the Indian context, it is generally assumed by Indian historians that the British rulers used the Muslim minority against the Hindu majority by giving the former preferential treatment, separate electorates etc. but the fact is often overlooked that the British imperialists in equal measure used the Hindus against the Muslims by vilifying the latter’s culture, rule and religion.

Moreover, the partition of Bengal on religious lines in 1905 was another classic instance of the British divide-and-rule policy through demographic change. In this case, the British imperialists cleverly partitioned the Hindu-majority Bengal province into the Muslim-majority East Bengal and the Hindu-majority West Bengal. As a consequence, the Hindus felt aggrieved and launched a mass movement against the partition; the Raj obliged the Hindus by accepting their demand of reunifying Bengal in 1911 which created a sense of alienation and deprivation among Muslims.

This time around, however, despite unifying the province along linguistic lines, at the same time the British rulers split up Bihar and Orissa province to the west and Assam province to the east; thus, reducing the initial Hindu majority (pre-1905) that included Bihar, Orissa and Assam, in favor of Muslim majority (post-1911) in the reunified Bengal. Additionally, the British rulers also devised separate electorates for Muslims in 1909; thus, pitting one community against the other which had lived peacefully for centuries before the arrival of British in India.

Finally, rather than cultivating inclusive Indian nationalism that would glorify Hindu, Muslim and Sikh identities and histories in equal measure, the British rulers maliciously nurtured exclusionary Hindu and Muslim nationalism in order to divide the communities and prolong the British rule. As several contemporary Indian historians have contended that Muslim nationalism in India was a reaction to exclusionary Hindu nationalism.

The political leadership of India was the product of British education system that forged artificial identities and entrenched communal divisions, therefore it was not possible for them to rise above their communal prejudices and work for the betterment of all Indians as a nation. This self-serving, divide-and-rule policy by the British rulers and their Hindu, Muslim and Sikh collaborators eventually led to a carnage and mass exodus of people on the eve of independence the likes of which history has seldom witnessed.

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“Afghanistan – As Only Love Could Hurt”

NOVANEWS

Notes From A Broken Land

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Afghanistan

WINTER

It is now winter in Kabul, end of February 2017. At night the temperature gets near zero. The mountains surrounding the city are covered by snow.

It feels much chillier than it really is.

Soon it will be 16 years since the US/UK invasion of the country, and 16 years since the Bonn Conference, during which Hamid Karzai was “selected” to head the Afghan Interim Administration.

Almost everyone I spoke to in Afghanistan agrees that things are rapidly moving from bad to rock bottom.

Afghans, at home and abroad, are deeply pessimistic. With hefty allowances and privileges, at least some foreigners based in Kabul are much more upbeat, but ‘positive thinking’ is what they are paid to demonstrate.

Historically one of the greatest cultures on Earth, Afghanistan is now nearing breaking point, with the lowest Human Development Index (2015, HDI, compiled by the UNDP) of all Asian nations, and the 18th lowest in the entire world (all 17 countries below it are located in Sub-Saharan Africa). Afghanistan has also the lowest life expectancy in Asia (WHO, 2015).

While officially, the literacy rate stands at around 60%, I was told by two prominent educationalists in Kabul that in reality it is well below 50%, while it is stubbornly stuck under 20% for women and girls.

Statistics are awful, but what is behind the numbers? What has been done to this ancient and distinct civilization, once standing proudly at the crossroad of major trade routes, influencing culturally a great chunk of Asia, connecting East and West, North and South?

How deep, how permanent is the damage?

During my visit, I was offered but I refused to travel in an armored, bulletproof vehicle. My ageing “horse” became a beat-up Corolla, my driver and translator a brave, decent family man in possession of a wonderful sense of humor. Although we became good friends, I never asked him to what ethnic group he belonged. He never told me. I simply didn’t want to know, and he didn’t find it important to address the topic. Everyone knows that Afghanistan is deeply divided ‘along its ethnic lines’. As an internationalist, I refuse to pay attention to anything related to ‘blood’, finding all such divisions, anywhere in the world, unnatural and thoroughly unfortunate. Call it my little stubbornness; both my driver and me were stubbornly refusing to acknowledge ethnic divisions in Afghanistan, at least inside the car, while driving through this marvelous but scarred, stunning but endlessly sad land.

KABUL

One day you and your driver, who is by then your dear friend, are driving slowly over the bridge. Your car stops. You get out in the middle of the bridge, and begin photographing the clogged river below, with garbage floating and covering its banks. Children are begging, and you soon notice that they are operating in a compact pack, almost resembling some small military unit. In Kabul, as in so many places on earth, there is a rigid structure to begging.

After a while, you continue driving on, towards the Softa Bridge, which is located in District 6.

Where you are appears to be all messed up, endlessly fucked up.

You were told to come to this neighborhood, to witness a warzone inside the city, to see ‘what the West has done to the country’. There are no bullets flying here, and no loud explosions. In fact, you hear almost nothing. You actually don’t see any war near the Softa Bridge; you only see Death, her horrid gangrenous face, her scythe cutting all that is still standing around her, cutting and cutting, working in extremely slow motion.

Again, as so many times before, you are scared. You were scared like this several times before: in Haiti, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Iraq, and Peru, to name just a few countries. In those places, as well as here in Kabul, you are not frightened because you could easily lose your life any moment, or because your safety might be in danger. What dismays you, what you really cannot stomach, are the images of despair, those of ‘no way out’, of absolute hopelessness. Lack of hope is killing you, it horrifies you; everything else can always be dealt with.

People you see all around can hardly stand on their feet. Many cannot stand at all. Most of them are stoned, laying around in rags, sitting in embryonic positions, or moving aimlessly back and forth, staring emptily into the distance. Some are urinating publicly. Syringes are everywhere.

Drug dealers living in holes

There are holes, deep and wide, filled with motionless human bodies.

First you drive around, photographing through the cracked glass, then you roll down the window, and at the end, you get out and begin working, totally exposed. You have no idea what may happen in the next few seconds. Someone begins shouting at you, others are throwing stones, but they are too weak and the stones just hit your shoulder and legs, softly, without causing any harm.

Then a bomb goes off, not far from where you are. There is an explosion in the 6th District, right in front of a police station. You cannot see it, but you can clearly hear the blast. It is a muffled yet powerful bang. You look at your phone.

Explosion in District 6

It is March 1st, 2017, Kabul. Later you learn that several people died just a few hundred meters from where you were working, while several others perished in the 12th District, another few kilometers away.

The smoke begins rising towards the sky. Sirens are howling and several ambulances are rushing towards the site. Then countless military Humvees begin shooting one after another in the same direction, followed by heavier and much clumsier armored vehicles. You are taking all this in, slowly; photographing the scene, and then snapping from some distance a monumental but still semi-destroyed Darul Aman Palace.

And so it goes.

*

Tall concrete walls are scarring, fragmenting the city. In Kabul, almost anything worth protecting is now fenced. Some partitions and barriers are simply enormous, almost unreal. There are walls sheltering all foreign embassies and government buildings, palaces, military bases, police stations and banks, as well as the United Nations compounds, even most of the private schools and hotels. The Hamid Karzai international airport is encompassed by perimeters that could put to shame most of the Cold War lines: from the parking area one has to walk almost one kilometer to the entrance of the international terminal, with luggage and through the countless security checks.

Of course Western institutions and organizations have the most impressive fences, as well as the Afghan military and military bases and government offices.

Enormous surveillance drone-zeppelins are levitating above the city.

It could all be seen as thoroughly grotesque, even laughable, but no one is amused. It is all very serious, damn serious here.

Afghanistan has been gradually overtaken by something absolutely foreign: by the Western-style security apparatus. Tens of thousands of highly paid North American and European ‘experts’ have been getting extremely busy, fulfilling their secret wet dream: fencing everything in sight, monitoring each and every movement in the capital city, building taller and taller barriers, while installing the latest hi-tech cameras at almost every intersection, and above each gate.

*

Not far from the Embassy of the United States of America (or more precisely, not far from the Great Chinese Wall-size fence encompassing it), I noticed a familiar complex of buildings, reminding me of those that used to be constructed in all corners of Eastern Europe and Cuba. I asked my friend to drive into one of the compounds.

This is how I entered “Makroyan”.  We killed the engine, and everything around us was suddenly quiet, almost dormant. Time stopped here. There was a certain mild decay detectable all around the area, but upon a closer look, those old apartment buildings were still looking decent and strong, with very impressive public spaces in between them. Here I felt that I was allowed a rare glimpse of an old, socialist Afghanistan.

I stopped in between two entrances of Block 21: No.2 and No.3. I looked up to the 4th floor. Who is living there now? Who used to live here before, some 25, even 30 years ago?

Makroyan Block 21

A destroyed office chair was standing aimlessly in the middle of a parking lot, and an old, disabled man was crawling desolately on all fours, moving away from the block. There was a Soviet-built school right next to Block 21. It used to be known as Dosti primary school, and I was told that during the war, it was bombed a couple of times and lots of kids died inside it. Now the school is private and it has a new name – it is ‘Alfath’, a high school.

Apart from a few loose, rusty wires and fences, everything looks decent and semi-neat. This is where many members of the diminishing Kabul middle class still prefer to live. Blocks of Makroyan are reassuring; they radiate safety and permanency, while being surrounded by a volatile and frightening universe.

All of a sudden, I imagined a boy and a girl, who perhaps used to live here, so many years ago. As children in all other parts of the world do at that age, they were just slowly beginning to discover life, starting to formulate their dreams and expectations. In those days, the new leafy neighborhood would have been like a promise of a brighter future, of a much better country.

Then suddenly, full stop.

A war. A sudden end to all that the future was promising. Collapse of optimism, or enthusiasm, of confidence. Only death and destruction, and shattered dreams, remained. For those who were at least somehow lucky: a bitterness and then a hasty flight, instead of ultimate misery and death. Full stop. Total reset. Everything collapsed. But life never stops, it goes on, it always does. Things re-composed, somehow, not idyllically, but they did.

For a long time, I kept staring at Block 21. Memories kept coming, as if I used to live there myself, many years ago, when I was a child. I hardly noticed that it was getting very cold. I began to shiver. I didn’t want to leave, but I had to. Fresh pomegranate juice at a local street stall brought me back to reality, it woke me, but it didn’t managed to warm me up.

GREAT HISTORY, CHANGING CULTURE, AN ON-GOING OCCUPATION AND FEAR

A renowned Afghan intellectual, Dr. Omara Khan Masoudi, who used to be, among many other things, the former head of the National Museum, is now bitter about the changes invading the culture of his country:

In the past, we had also many ethnic groups living in this country, but they used to coexist in harmony. Then, our culture got influenced by conflicts and violence.

Before the war, it was the culture that used to represent us in the world. However, during and after the war, our cultures were used to justify the conflict.

Dr. Masoudi told me that he thinks it is wrong when culture falls into the hands of divisive politicians. “If culture is politicized, it loses its essence”, he declared.

I asked him whether he thinks it also applies to Latin America, to the former Soviet Union and China, where (at least to a great extent) ‘politicized culture’ has been playing an extremely important role, determining the course of development. He smiled, replying:

To be precise, politicizing cultures is not always such a bad thing… When it’s done, for instance, in order to achieve social progress or equality, I have nothing against it. But I am outraged when people like some religious leaders; Shia, Sunni or even some extremists, do it… Culture is very broad, and religions are only a part of it. But in Afghanistan, religious leaders have been using the culture for their narrow-minded interests.

In a coffee shop, which is lost somewhere inside the wilderness of an international and United Nations compound called ‘The Green Village’, my Japanese friend and Head of the Culture Unit of UNESCO, Mr. Masanori Nagaoka, explained:

Afghanistan or Ancient Ariana, as many ancient Greek and Roman authors referred to the region in antiquity, can be acknowledged as the multi-cultural cradle of Central Asia, linking East and West via historically significant trade conduits that also conveyed ideas, concepts and languages as a cultural by-product of fledgling international commerce. As a result, contemporary Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual society with a complex history stretching back many millennia. The numerous civilizations are attested to in the archaeological record, both indigenous and foreign….

However, he is well aware of the complexities faced by the country and the culture torn apart by lethal conflicts of the last decades and centuries.

Afghanistan is unfortunately also a nation fragmented by a history of protracted conflict, exacerbated by geographic isolation for many communities and limited or unequal access to infrastructure and resources, both regionally and demographically. As a nominal starting point, the ongoing rehabilitation process in Afghanistan needs to address these issues if the nation is to unify under a common objective, fostering a veracious society free from conflict and where ethnic diversity is recognized for its social, cultural and economic benefits rather than, as is often the case, seen as a hindrance to particular developmental objectives. Part of the solution to this problem lies in the campaign of a positive public discussion to promote inter-cultural understanding and to raise awareness of the potential that such discourse has to contribute to the broader goals of rapprochement, peace-building and economic development in Afghanistan.

I flew to the city of Herat, where I witnessed tremendous masterpieces of architecture, from the marvelous and recently restored Citadel (as valuable as the citadels of Aleppo and Erbil), to the Friday Mosque and amazing, unique minarets rising proudly towards the sky.

How familiar all those architectural treasures appeared! On several occasions I approached Nasir, my local friend who was always eager to share the impressive history of his region: “Look, this could be in Delhi… and this in Samarkand!”

Sure enough, the most visited world heritage site in India, Qutub Minar, situated right outside New Delhi, is perhaps the greatest symbol of the Indo-Islamic Afghan architecture, while both Herat and Samarkand were connected by the Silk Road and historically kept influencing each other.

In Afghanistan, the history, the occupation and the on-going conflict: everything seems to be thoroughly intertwined.

Italian troops took over ancient Citadel in Herat City

During my work there, the Citadel of Herat was literally taken over by Italian troops. I was told that some high-ranking NATO officer was visiting the site, and with no shame, a fully armed Italian commando was roaming around, “securing” every corner of the vast courtyard. As if Afghans had lost control of their own country!

De-mining work in Herat

On closer examination, the madrassa of Hussein Baiqara is, in reality, still a minefield. In between four stunning minarets, a de-mining team from local “Halo Trust” was manually searching for unexploded ordinances. I was allowed to enter, but only as a war correspondent and at my own risk, definitely not as a ‘tourist’.

“On this site, we already found two mines and 10 unexploded ordinances”, I was told by one of the Halo Trust experts. “Now this entire area is off-limits to the public. Not long ago, one child was badly injured here; he lost his leg.”

Nothing is peaceful in Afghanistan, not even ancient historic sites.

*

Not much is questioned here.

Positive talk about the ancient history and culture is generally encouraged, but to discuss dramatic changes in modern Afghan culture, those that occurred as a result of the US/UK invasion and the present on-going NATO occupation of the country, is almost entirely off-limits. In fact, even the word itself – ‘occupation’ – could hardly be heard. Instead, such jargons as ‘protection’, ‘defense’ and ‘international help’ have been implanted deeply and systematically into the psyche of most Afghan people.

The culture that was known for long centuries for its passion for freedom and independence seems broken. While Afghans resisted heroically against all past British invasions, while some of them fought the Soviet incursion, there is presently no organized and united (national, not religious) opposition against the Western occupation of the country.

I met academic Jawid Amin, from the Academy of Social Sciences of Afghanistan, in a small guardroom in front of the Museum of Modern Arts in Kabul.

I asked him, whether there is any art, or any group of intellectuals openly critical of the United States, and of the occupation. He replied, sincerely:

We don’t have anyone openly critical of the US or the West here, because it is simply not allowed by the government. I personally don’t like the Americans, but I can’t say more… Even I work for the government. My brother and sister are living in the United States. And about critical arts: nothing could be exhibited here without permission from the government and since Karzai, the government is controlled by the West…

A prominent Afghan intellectual, Omaid Sharifi, explained over the phone: “In the provinces, you can still see paintings depicting killing of civilians by the US drones… but not in Kabul.”

I’m trying to work as fast as possible, meeting people who are helping to shed light on the situation. Eventually, a dire picture begins to form.

I met a Japanese reporter who has been living in Afghanistan for almost a quarter of a century. Her assessment of the situation was to a large extent pessimistic:

Afghans had very little choice… It is 100% true that behind Karzai’s government was the US… Afghans didn’t want to accept foreign intervention, but soon they learned how money plays an important role.  The entire Afghan culture is now changing, even some essential elements of it like hospitality: people don’t want to spend money on it, or they don’t have any that they can spare…

I asked Dr. Masoudi why Afghan culture did not accept Soviets and their egalitarian, socially oriented ideals, while it seems to be tolerating the Western invasion, which is spreading inequality, desperation and subservience. He replied, passionately:

The biggest mistake the Soviet Union made here was to attack religion out rightly. If they’d first stick to equal rights, and slowly work it up towards the contradictions of religion, it could perhaps work… But they began blaming religion for our backwardness, in fact for everything. Or at least this is how it was interpreted by the coalition of their enemies, and of course by the West.

Now, why is the Western invasion ‘successful’? Look at the Karzai regime… During his rule, the US convinced people that Western intervention was ‘positive’, ‘respectful of their religion and cultures’. They kept repeating ‘under this and that UN convention’, and again ‘as decided by the UN’… They used NATO, a huge group of countries, as an umbrella. There was a ‘brilliantly effective’ protocol that they developed… According to them, they never did anything unilaterally, always by ‘international consensus’ and in order to ‘help Afghan people’. On the other hand, the Soviet Union had never slightest chance to explain itself. It was attacked immediately, and on all fronts.

“Opposition to Western occupation? Anti-Western art?” A Russian cultural expert in Kabul was clearly surprised by my question.

First of all, the Taliban destroyed most artistic traditions of this country. But also, the economic and social situation in this country is so desperate, that hardly anyone has time to think about some larger picture. More than 60% of Afghans are jobless. One thing you also should remember: Afghan people are very proud and very freedom loving, as the history illustrated, but they are also extremely patient. Go and see The British Cemetery. It was built in 1879 to hold the dead of the second Anglo-Afghan War, but despite all that the UK did to this country, and despite all recent wars and conflicts, it was never attacked, never damaged.

It is true. I never heard anyone discussing this topic. All horrid British crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan seem to be forgotten, at least for now.

But that’s not all: nobody here seems to have any appetite for recalling those horrors of the last decades, triggered by Western imperialism. Not once I observed any discussion addressing the main topic of modern Afghan history: how the West managed to trick the Soviets into invading Afghanistan in 1979, and how it created and then armed the vilest bunch of religious fanatics – the Mujahedeen. And how, subsequently, both countries – Afghanistan and the Soviet Union – were thoroughly destroyed in the process.

All was done, of course, with “great respect” for the Afghan nation, for its culture and traditions, as well as (how else) religion.

I’d love to be an invisible witness in a modern history class at the American University of Afghanistan, a ‘famed’ institution that is literally regurgitating thousands of collaborators, manufacturing a new breed of obedient pro-Western ‘elites’.

As we drive past Jamhuriat Hospital (Republic Hospital), which had a new 10- story building, with capacity for 350 patients, constructed by China in 2004, my driver, Mr. Tahir, sighs: “This was really a great gift from China to us… the Chinese really work hard, don’t they?”

“They have plenty of zeal and enthusiasm”, I uttered carefully. “Socialist fervor, you know. They sincerely believe in building, improving their country and the world. It is quite contrary to Western nihilism and extreme individualism…”

“They must love their country…”

“They do.”

“Afghanistan is poor”, Mr. Tahir’s face became suddenly sad. “Our people don’t love their country, anymore. They don’t work to improve it. They only work for themselves now, for their families…”

“Was it different before? You know…” I made an abstract gesture with my hand. “Before all this…”

“Of course it used to be very different”, he replied, grinning again.

NOTHING SOCIAL LEFT, NOTHING SOCIALIST WANTED

I stopped several people who were just walking down the street, in various parts of Kabul. I wanted to understand some basics: was there anything social left in Afghanistan? Did Western ‘liberation’ bring at least some progress, social development and improved standards of living?

Most answers were thoroughly gloomy. Only those people who were working or moonlighting for the Western military, for the embassies, the NGOs or other ‘international contractors’, were to some extent optimistic.

I was explained that almost everyone in the countryside and provincial cities were out off work. Unemployment among university graduates stood at over 80%.

In Herat, a city of almost half a million inhabitants, a long and depressing line was winding in front of the Iranian embassy. I was told that tens of thousands have already migrated to the other side of the border. Now Afghans who were attempting to visit their relatives living in Iran were told to leave a 300-euro deposit, in case they decide not to return.

I asked what Herat is producing, and was told, without any irony: “mainly just some washing powder and biscuits”. Tourism from Iran stood at only about 150 people a year! The area between the city and the border has been dangerous, and there are frequent kidnappings.

In most provincial cities, a regular family has to get by on 2.300 – 2.500 Afghanis per month, which is not much more than US$30.

Government supplies run water mainly to the government housing projects. People living elsewhere have to dig their own wells.

Electricity is expensive, and an average family in Kabul is now expected to pay around US$35 per month. Even in the capital, many people have to get by without electricity. Indian ‘investors’ are in partnership with the government. Electricity supplies, and even water, are perceived as ‘business ventures’, not as basic social services.

Counting on a decent public transportation in the past, Kabul is now forced to rely on private vehicles, and on those few ‘city buses’ that are ‘pro-profit’ and mainly privately owned and operated.

There are government schools in Afghanistan, and in theory they are free, but books, pencils, uniforms and other basics are not.

In fact, perhaps the most impressive modern structure in Kabul, is actually the 10-story building to Jamhuriat Hospital, a gift from the People’s Republic of China, not from the West.

One wonders where is that fabled great ‘assistance’ from the United States and Europe really going? Perhaps to the millions of tons of concrete, used for construction of the massive fences? Perhaps money sponsors’ purchases of high-tech cameras and surveillance systems, as well as the high-life of thousands of Western ‘contractors’ and ‘security experts’?

I spoke to more than hundreds of Afghan people. Almost no one was ready to mention socialism. As if this wonderful word disappeared, was erased from the local lexicon.

“They actually remember socialism very fondly”, my Japanese acquaintance based in Kabul once told me. “However, talking about it is not encouraged. It may cause all sorts of problems.”

WESTERN (TEMPORARY) VICTORY

While in Kabul, I was told by one of the local experts working for an international organization:

The National Education Strategic Plan (NESP) for Afghanistan was just drafted… The funding came from the West. Many meetings were held directly at the US embassy and at the offices of the World Bank. The Afghan Ministry of Education had very little say about the curriculum, which was basically dictated by the Western countries…

I cannot quote the source of this information, as she would most probably lose her position for expressing such views.

She later clarified further:

The policy decisions on education are proposed by donor parties, which are mostly Western countries. The Ministry of Education, with limited capacity, has a lesser role in drafting the NESP III policy. Instead of building the capacity of the government, donor countries are taking the leading role in changing the education system and this does not ensure a sustainable education for Afghanistan whatsoever.

As in all client states of the West, education in Afghanistan is manipulated and geared to serve the interests of the West. It is expected to produce obedient and unquestioning masses. Instead of determined and productive patriots, it is regurgitating butlers of the regime, which is in turn serving predominately foreign interests.

Almost all information flows through the channels that are at least to some extent influenced from abroad: social media, television networks as well as the printed media.

The fabled Afghan spirit of resistance and courage has been (hopefully only temporarily) brutally broken, under the supervision of highly professional foreign indoctrinators and propagandists.

Those who are willing to collaborate with the occupation forces are suddenly not even hiding it, carrying their condition proudly as if a coat of arms, not as a shame. Many are now delighted to be associated with the West and its institutions.

In fact, the occupation is not even called occupation, anymore, at least not by the elites who are well rewarded by the system for their linguistic and intellectual somersaults and pirouettes.

And Afghan people keep leaving.

Afghanistan is shedding its most talented sons and daughters, every day, every month, irreversibly.

Ms. Yukiko Matsuyoshi, a former Japanese diplomat, presently a UN education expert, is worried about the current trends in Afghanistan, a country where she spent several years:

Now the social classes have been re-created after the fall of Taliban, but the country seems to have no ideology. People just follow trends that are thrown their way. There is corruption, there is that huge poppy business, and there are palaces. And there is misery in the countryside, hardly any access to information. Afghans are leaving their country. Whoever can, goes: good people, government people…it seems like everyone tries to escape.

All of a sudden, the West is perceived like some Promised Land. Those who make it there are bragging about their new ‘home’, sending colorful images through social media: Disneyland, Hollywood, German castles…

I have seen the other side of the coin, in terrible refugee camps in Greece, in the French Calais camps; people drowning while attempting to cross the sea from Turkey to the European Union.

There is no discussion whether Afghanistan should be capitalist or socialist, anymore. Debate has stopped. The decision has been made, somewhere else, obviously.

The faces of Northern Alliance leaders are ‘decorating’ (or some would say, ‘scarring’) all major roads on which I drove. Ahmad Shah Massoud became a national hero, during the Karzai regime.

I travelled more than 100 kilometers north, to see Massoud’s grave, or a thumb, or whatever that monstrosity they erected above the splendid Panjshir Valley really is. Hordes of people drive there on weekends, some all the way from Kabul, and there are even those who pray to the ‘leader’.

The former “anti-Soviet” and anti-Communist fighter, he is certainly a perfect ‘hero’, whose memory is groomed by the pro-Western regime.

Driving through the Panjshir Valley, I saw several Soviet tanks and armored vehicles, rotting by the side of the road. I also saw a destroyed village, an eerie reminder of the war. It is called Dashtak. Clay houses look like a cemetery, like a horrid monument.

Village in the North destroyed during the war

I took photos and sent them to Kabul, to my friends, for identification. I want to know, I felt that I had to know, who razed this town by the river, surrounded by such stunning mountains.

The answer came in a just few minutes: “I think it was in 1984, by the Soviet Union”. What followed was a link leading to a book published in the West, quoting some former Ukrainian, Soviet adviser to an Afghan battalion commander. The name of the book was “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”.

The quote did not sound too convincing. “Let’s go back”, I asked my driver and translator. “Let’s talk to people on the other side of the river’.

We found three inhabitants, in three different parts of the village; three people old enough to remember what took place here, some 30 years ago. All three testimonies coincided: Massoud’s forces brought refugees from several other parts of the valley. Before the battle began, all of them left. During the combat, clay houses were destroyed, but no civilians died inside.

There are always many different interpretations of the historic events. However, the analyses of modern Afghan history disseminated by the West and the Afghan regime among the Afghan people, are suspiciously unanimous and frighteningly one-sided. I am definitely planning to revisit this point during my next trip to the country. I see it as essential. The future of Afghanistan certainly depends on understanding the past.

*

There are huge zeppelin-drones, vile-looking airborne surveillance stuff, hovering over the US air force base near Bagram. The same drones could be seen levitating over Kabul, but in the Bagram area, with the dramatic backdrop of the mountains, they look particularly dreadful.

The air force base is huge. It appears even bigger than Incerlik near Adana in Turkey. It is an absolute masterpiece of military vulgarity, with watch towers everywhere, with barbed wire, several layers of concrete walls, surveillance cameras and powerful lights. If this is not an occupation, then what really is?

Again, my driver is totally cool. I want to photograph this monstrosity, and he drives me around, so we can identify a truly good spot. I’m ‘calculating light’, looking for the correct angle, so during the sunset, those who would be observing us from inside the ‘castle’, would be blinded, and we could get at least a few decent images.

I’m aware of the fact that in Afghanistan, the Empire often kills anything that moves, at the slightest suspicion or without any suspicion at all, as for them human lives of the local people count for almost nothing.

Once the sun goes down, I begin working fast.

Somehow I feel that my visit to Afghanistan would be incomplete, without getting at least some images of the base – one of the most expressive symbols of the occupation.

So this is what Afghanistan became under the Western ‘liberating’ boots! Barbed wires, foreign jet fighters, concrete walls everywhere, battles with the religious fundamentalist elements (invented and manufactured by the West), grotesque savage capitalism, ignorant or shameless collaboration, and guns, guns and guns, as well as misery in almost every corner, and one of the lowest life expectancies and standards of living on Earth! And of course, people escaping, leaving this beautiful country behind – a country, which is suddenly unloved, humiliated, abandoned by so many!

This is all happening only roughly four decades after the heroic attempts to build some great social housing projects, after the implementation of a well-functioning public transportation network, public education and medical care, as well as an attempt to introduce secularism, while building a decent, egalitarian society.

The glorious victory of Western imperialism over one of the oldest and greatest cultures seems to be complete. The Brits tried, on several occasions; they murdered and tortured, but were defeated. They never forgave. They waited for decades, and then returned with their muscular and aggressive offspring. And here they are, all of them, now!

Afghanistan appears to be exhausted and defeated. It is badly injured, and it has been dragged through unimaginable dirt.

But I don’t think it is crushed, by the West or by the religious fundamentalists, or by these two historical allies.

Deep inside, Afghanistan knows better. It already experienced many years of hope; it knows the taste of it. During long centuries and millennia of its existence, it survived several dreadful moments, but it always stood up again, undefeated and proud. I’m certain that it will rise again.

Flying, driving or walking through its magnificent mountains, I often felt that Afghanistan is like a living organism, it was winking at me, letting me know that it is alive, that it sees everything that goes on, that it is not futile at all to struggle for its future.

*

I watched the stubs of the electric contacts that used to hold, some decades ago, those long wires used by the legendary Kabul trolley bus network.

“Those beautiful vehicles came from former Czechoslovakia”, a man, an office worker, whom I stopped in the center of the city, told me. “They were beautiful, and do you know who used to drive them? Some young girls; optimistic women who were for some reason always in a good mood.”

Apparently Kabul had three trolleybus lines, one of them originating (or ending) at the ‘Cinema Pamir’. What color were Kabul trolleybuses? I saw some photos, but those I could find were black and white. When I was a child, growing up in Czechoslovakia, ours were red. The ones in Leningrad, the city where I was born, were blue and green, some red as well. When they were accelerating, it was as if they’d be singing a simple song, or whining, complaining mockingly about their hard life.

I imagined a strong-minded, professional woman, boarding these trolleybuses. Perhaps eager to catch one of those old great Soviet movies at the Cinema Pamir, perhaps “the Dawns are Quiet Here”, or going to work or to visit different parts of the city.  She would snuggle into a comfortable seat in the electric vehicle. It was getting dark, but the city was safe. A woman behind the wheel was really smiling. There were flags flying all around the city. There was hope. There was a future. There was a country to build and to love.

 

Afghanistan can still fly

I had suspected that the Kabul trolleybuses were actually light blue. I have no idea why. It was just my intuition.

*

Suddenly I heard a loud bang, and then the squeaking of brakes.

“Roll up the window!” my driver was shouting. We were getting into a slum inhabited by IDPs. We left the road. Dust everywhere, absolute misery. Bagrani town, now Bagrani slums, just a few kilometers east from Kabul, on the Jalalabad Highway.

I grasped the heavy metal body of my professional Nikon.

My dream about Afghanistan of the 70’s, a gentle and enthusiastic country, abruptly ended. Now all around me were children suffering from malnutrition. I heard excited, accusatory voices of men and women who were forced to come from all corners of Afghanistan. We drove on a bumpy road, towards numerous half-collapsed clay structures and dirty tents.

“We escaped fighting in Shinwar, Helmand Province, from around Jalalabad and Kandahar”, several internally displaced persons living in Bagrani were shouting at me:

We have 1.000 families from Helmand and more than 1.000 families from Kandahar, living here. We lost our houses back in our villages and towns… People around Jalalabad lost their homes, too. Daesh (ISIS) is operating in several parts of the country… Taliban fighters are frequently changing sides, joining Daesh. There is fighting going on everywhere: Daesh, Taliban and the government forces confronting each other.

How involved is NATO in general and the US in particular, I ask, through my interpreter.

Americans are there, of course. Mostly they are fighting from the air, but sometimes they are on the ground, too.

Do they kill civilians?

“Yes, they do… Our sons, our husbands are regularly murdered by them”, shouts a woman clothed in a blue burqa, holding a small child in her arms.

Misery is everywhere, destroying the country, I’m told. And there is almost no help coming from the corrupt and the near bankrupt state.

Ms. Sidiqah, an elderly lady, is shouting in desperation and anger: “We have nothing left, but no one helps us! We don’t know what to do.”

As I photograph, a small cluster of people begin to rock the car. Things are getting tense, but I don’t feel that we are facing any immediate danger. I continue working. This is all becoming very personal. I don’t understand why, but it is…

Then, silently, a small group of people approaches us. Among them are a man with a very long beard, and a girl, with a beautiful and tragic face. She is wearing a t-shirt depicting several cute white mice, but the right sleeve is empty. She is missing her entire arm.

A girl without arm

Her face is striking. She stares directly into my camera, and when I lower the lens, I feel her eyes begin to pierce mine. Without one single word uttered, I sense clearly what she is trying to convey:

“What have you done to me?”

I try to hold her glance for at least a few seconds, but then I lower my eyes. Now I‘m in panic. I want to embrace her, hold her, take her away from here, somewhere, somehow; to adopt her, airlift her from here, give her a home, but I know that there is no way I would be allowed to do it. My glasses get very foggy. I mumble something incoherent. I am tough, I witnessed dozens of wars, I faced death on various occasions. I try to keep calm whenever I’m in places like this; whenever working. What is happening to me here and now happens very rarely, but it does happen.

It is March 4th 2017, Afghanistan. My flight is schedule to depart the next day, late in the afternoon. I know that I will take it. But I also realize, and I silently make my pledge to this tiny girl with the cute mice and an empty sleeve, that I will never fully leave her country.

*

What will happen later is predicable: yet another sleepless night. Everything will be back, play itself like a film inside my brain. Bagrani provisional camp, another camp that is housing evacuees from Kunduz, some active mine fields in the middle of Herat, those hundreds of living corpses vegetating in the middle of District 6 in Kabul, then several explosions, innumerable rotting carcasses of Soviet tanks, the eerie and enormous US air force base near Bagram, Massoud’s bizarre grave, white zeppelin-drones, concrete walls, watch towers, security checks, and hollow muzzles of various types of guns pointing in all directions.

Air force Bagrani base

I’ll be tired, exhausted, but I’ll be well aware that I have no right to rest, not now, not anytime soon.

I’ll keep thinking about Cinema Pamir, about Kabul trolleybuses, and Block 21 in the socialist-style neighborhood of Makroyan … 4th floor, entrance 2 or perhaps 3… I’ll keep imagining what could have taken place there, if life had not been so abruptly and so brutally interrupted.

Afghanistan, a stunning but terribly scarred and injured land has been suffering from a concussion. It has been dizzy and disoriented. It can hardly walk. Still it being Afghanistan, it has been walking anyway, against all odds!

Later that night, I’ll recall what one great Cuban poet and singer Silvio Rodriquez once wrote about Nicaragua. And at one point, only a few moments before the dawn would begin returning bright colors to the world, I’ll replace Nicaragua with Afghanistan, and suddenly realize that it is exactly what I feel towards this beautiful and shattered nation: “Afghanistan hurts, as only love does.”

It hurts like love…

It hurts… terribly. Therefor, it is love.

All that would happen later, hours later. At the end I’ll stop fighting it, and simply accept.

But now, the old Toyota climbs back on the paved road. I can hardly keep my eyes open. The last several days I slept very little.

Mr. Tahir, my driver and now my comrade, looks surprisingly composed and unworried. After all this time working with me, he is clearly ready for any adventure, or any nightmare.

He hands me a bunch of tissues. My left wrist is bleeding, although not too badly. Most likely I hit or scratched something in the slums, without realizing it. My cameras feel increasingly heavy and my notebook looks filthy; I keep dropping it on the floor. My clothes look dirty, too. But we are going, we are moving forward, and that is good!

“It is all fucked up, Mr. Tahir”, I inform him, politely.

“Yes, Sir”, he replies, with an equal doze of respect. We are a good team.

“But we are going”, I remind him and myself.

“We are going, sir.”

Again my head drops on my chest. I open my eyes just a few minutes later. It is already very dark. Kabul all around me; Afghanistan. It feels good to be here. I’m glad I came.

“Where to now, sir?”

“Jalalabad, Mr. Tahir.”

“Sir? Jalalabad is behind… And at this hour…”

He is not saying no. He never says ‘no’ to any of my requests, during all those days. He is just informing me. If I was really crazy enough and insisted, he’d just take me. He knows we’d get fucked, perhaps even killed, but he would not refuse. He’s my comrade and I feel safe with him.

“Sorry, I fell asleep… What I mean: we’ll go to Jalalabad soon, when I return to Afghanistan.”

I am thinking for a few seconds. This drive, just being here, all of it feels right, exactly as it is supposed to be. I’m not certain where exactly I want to go right now, but one thing I know for sure: I have to keep going.

“Please, just drive, Mr. Tahir.”

“Forward?” He asks, intuitively. I know that he knows. We both know, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

“Yes, please. Drive forward. Always forward!”

Posted in Afghanistan0 Comments

An Open Letter to the Army Chief

NOVANEWS

Image result for Kashmiri RESISTANCE LOGO

– Kavita Krishnan

Dear General Bipin Rawat,

You have warned Kashmiri civilians that if they fail to cooperate with Army operations, the Army will not hesitate to fire on them. You have added, for good measure, that not only those who pelt stones but even those who raise anti-India slogans or display anti-India flags will be likewise treated as “terrorists.”

By doing so, you have admitted that the Indian State is at war with the people of Kashmir. You have admitted that contrary to the claims of the Indian State based on election participation, ordinary Kashmiri civilians are not supportive of the Indian State or Indian Army.

Why do Kashmiri youth and women pick up stones, raise anti-India slogans and obstruct Army operations against militants? Is it simply because they are brain-washed by Pakistan? To find an answer, I read about Waqar Ahmad Moharkan (http://kashmirreader.com/2017/02/21/5-months-jail-psa-20-firs-waqar-loved-india/) and what put a stone in his hands and an azaadi slogan on his lips.

Waqar, now 24 and facing a slew of cases relating to last year’s uprising, says that he “loved India once” but “the word India now makes me mad…I was living in a dreamland till I met with reality of their brutality.”

During a curfew break in the 2008 protests, Waqar went out on his bike to buy milk, and was stopped at a petrol pump by CRPF troopers. “I greeted them politely. I told them curfew has been lifted and I had to buy milk. There were about 12 of them there. They encircled me and beat me up with lathis and gun butts. One of them thrust the barrel of his gun into my mouth so that I wouldn’t shout,” and declared that all Kashmiris were “traitors and Pakistanis.”

He says, “When they finally stopped I got up, parked my bike and for the first time in my life picked up a stone and threw it at them with all my strength and all by myself I said ‘hum kya chahte, azadi.” He then sought out stone throwers to learn the art of stone pelting.

I also read about 13-year-old Saqib in this (https://kafilabackup.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/kashmir-fft-report.pdf) enquiry report into the 2010 mass uprising. Saqib – much like every Kashmiri child I and other members of a solidarity team that visited Kashmir in November 2016 met – was very sure that azaadi for him means self-determination, a choice made between India, Pakistan or an independent Kashmir, a historical commitment that he insists India owes the people of Kashmir.

The team members probed how Saqib imagined azaadi: “What possibly could azaadi mean to Saqib? A major criterion emerges a little while into the conversation: azaadi means in part, to be free of “Major Sharma”, the local army commander who made it a regular routine to swagger into Saqib’s school in the company of other soldiers from his unit – all displaying lethal firearms – to threaten children that they should participate in protest demonstrationsonly at enormous risk to their lives.”

General Rawat, it seems from these testimonies that the stone-pelting Kashmiris are being produced, not by Pakistan, but by the very presence of Indian armed forces in the Valley. The report https://kafilabackup.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/kashmir-fft-report.pdf cited above estimates that there are 90,000 Indian armed persons deployed in Kashmir (for a population of 5 million) on counter-insurgency operations alone (not counting those on patrolling, guard duty, on the Pakistan border and in artillery and air-defence units) – “already close to the number that the British Raj needed in terms of European administrators and military officers in order to control 300 million or so Indians.” The actual number may be much higher: “People in Kashmir believe that there is probably one armed person of the Indian Army and paramilitary for every 12 of them .” Why are Indian Army and paramilitary forces present in such concentration among Kashmiri civilians, if not to suppress and subjugate the will of a civilian population?

Will the fear of being killed by your troops deter Kashmiri civilians from protesting? To the people of Kashmir, it is hardly news that they may be killed during civilian street protests. In 2010, for instance, 112 Kashmiri civilians were killed over 4 months when CRPF and police fired at civilian protests and funeral processions across the Kashmir Valley. Last year, over 100 Kashmiri civilians protesting on the streets have been killed, 1178 received pellets in their eyes (52 of them were blinded, 300 including 150 minors partially lost vision) and 4664 persons received bullet injuries in different parts of the bodies. When Kashmiris know that they can be killed even for demonstrating on streets or mourning in a funeral, why would they be deterred by your threat that they may be killed while obstructing an Army operation against militants?

The sad truth is that you have only given voice to a policy that the Indian State has already been following – and it hasn’t worked. The official line of the Indian State used to be that they are out to “win hearts and minds” of ordinary Kashmiri people while cracking down on “terrorists.” A commentator, writing in robust defence of you, has reminded of the doctrine attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, “If you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.” (https://scroll.in/article/829668/counterpoint-general-rawat-has-only-stated-the-obvious-about-fighting-fire-with-fire-in-kashmir). Well, most Kashmiris will tell you that India has held them by the balls for decades and has still failed to win their hearts and minds.

Many Indians feel that to question the presence of the Indian Army and its right to use lethal force against anti-Indian Kashmiris amounts to an intolerable insult to the patriotic soldiers who are being killed in the Valley.

Can we pause and ask ourselves – how much do we really care, as a country, for the soldiers drawn from amongst the poorest Indians? They are a useful stick with which to beat up dissenters and questioners. They die – and their deaths allow us to be self-righteously and aggressively ‘patriotic’ at their cost. If any of them – like BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav – dares to complain about the indignities to which soldiers are subjected, he is treated just as ruthlessly as other dissenting citizens are treated http://indianexpress.com/article/india/bsf-cancels-tej-bahadur-yadavs-vrs-denies-wifes-claim-of-his-arrest-4504980/.

The Armed Forces of any country are meant to fight wars against enemies. Civilian discontent against a State and even civilian demands for self-determination, for azaadi from a State, have to be recognized as political not military issues. When our political masters refuse to recognize – let alone solve – the political question of Kashmir, they demand that our soldiers risk their lives and peace of mind to suppress the will and aspirations of the Kashmiri people. Is this just?

I’m sure you’re aware that of the alarming suicide and fragging rates among Indian soldiers http://www.oneindia.com/feature/suicides-graver-than-enemies-armed-forces-1487700.html. When reasons for these are discussed, one possibility is rarely ever admitted – the fact that being asked to kill and commit atrocities for a cause that you know in your heart is unjust, puts an incredible strain on the human mind and spirit.

For the sake of the Kashmiri people – but also for the sake of Indians deployed in the Armed forces – surely it is time we recognize the Kashmir issue as a dispute; demand a political solution; and seek withdrawal of Indian Army and paramilitary forces from civilian areas of Jammu and Kashmir as a necessary first step towards resolution of the dispute? 

Posted in India, Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

Pakistan Shrine Attack Kills Sparks Fierce Crackdown

NOVANEWS
  • A man mourns the death of a relative who was killed in a suicide blast at the tomb of Sufi saint Syed Usman Marwandi.
    A man mourns the death of a relative who was killed in a suicide blast at the tomb of Sufi saint Syed Usman Marwandi. | Photo: Reuters
The bombing at the famed Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in southern Sindh province was Pakistan’s deadliest attack for two years.

Pakistani security forces killed at least 39 suspected militants Friday, a day after the Islamic State group claimed a suicide bombing that killed more than 80 worshippers at a Sufi shrine, the biggest in a spate of attacks this week across the country.

RELATED: 4 Indian Soldiers, 4 Militants Dead in Kashmir Gun Battles

The bombing at the famed Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in southern Sindh province was Pakistan’s deadliest attack for two years, killing at least 88 people and highlighting the threat of militant groups.

The security response was swift.

“Over 100 terrorists have been killed since last night and sizeable apprehensions also made,” the military said in an operations update on Friday evening.

“Terrorists will be targeted ruthlessly, indiscriminately, anywhere and everywhere. No let up,” an armed forces spokesman added in a tweet.

With authorities facing angry criticism for failing to tighten security before the shrine bomber struck, analysts warned that the wave of violence pointed to a major escalation in Islamist militants’ attempts to destabilize the region.

“This is a virtual declaration of war against the state of Pakistan,” said Imtiaz Gul, head of the independent Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad.

ANALYSIS: No Country for Women: India Enters 2017 with ‘Mass Molestation’ 

With pressure growing for action, Pakistan demanded that neighboring Afghanistan hand over 76 “terrorists” it said were sheltering over the border.

The bombings over five days have hit all four of Pakistan’s provinces and two major cities, shaking a nascent sense that the worst of the country’s militant violence may be in the past.

A series of military operations against insurgent groups operating in Pakistan had encouraged hopes that their leaders were scattered.

“But this has led to a degree of complacency within our civil-military leadership that perhaps they have completely destroyed these elements, or broken their back,” Gul said.

If so, that impression has been shattered in recent days.

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Pakistan Shrine Attack Kills Sparks Fierce Crackdown

The Afghan Connection of Terrorism in Pakistan 

NOVANEWS

By Sajjad Shaukat for Veterans Today

Pakistan’s Armed Forces have broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the successful military operation Zarb-e-Azb, which has also been extended to other provinces of the country. While, Pakistan’s law-enforcing agencies, especially primary intelligence agency, ISI has broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts. But, the new wave of terrorism which started in the beginning of this year, having connection in Afghanistan has, again, enveloped Pakistan.

In this regard, at least 88 people were martyred and 343 were injured on February 16, this year when a suicide bomber attacked the crowded Sufi shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, Sindh province of Pakistan. 

Terrorist organisation, the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack.

On February 15, three suicide bombers targeted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the adjoining tribal areas leaving around seven people dead. One of the incidents occurred in Peshawar where a suicide bomber riding a motorbike hit a vehicle carrying civil judges, while two other suicide bombers blew themselves up at separate locations in Mohmand Agency.

At least 13 people were killed on February 13, this year when a suicide bomber struck outside the Punjab Assembly on the Mall Road in the eastern city of Lahore during a peaceful protest of the chemists and pharmacists against a new law.

The affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA also known as JuA) took responsibility for the deadly suicide bombing in Lahore.

Terror attack in Lahore coincided with the incident in Quetta-the provincial capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where at least one policeman was killed and five people were injured on February 13, 2017 in an explosion occurred on Sariab road.

Besides, more than 24 people had been killed in an explosion which ripped through a crowded marketplace in Parachinar Kurram tribal agency on January 21, 2017. Soon after the incident, Afghan-based TTP claimed responsibility for the blast in Parachinar.

At least 65 people were killed when a blast struck at the shrine of the Sufi saint Shah Noorani in Balochistan’s Hub Tehsil on November 12, 2016. ISIL had accepted responsibility for the attack via Amaq, its affiliated news agency.

Earlier, the affiliated group of the TTP, TTP-JA took responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing in Quetta, which killed at least 74 people on August 8, 2016 in a assault at the government-run Civil Hospital.

However, the suicide bombing at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is the worst single attack since the TTP militants massacred about 150 students at an army school in Peshawar in December 2014. Pakistan’s military and civil high officials strongly condemned the attack and recent terror attacks by pointing out their connection in Afghanistan.

In this respect, a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that senior Afghan diplomats were summoned to the General Headquarters (Of army) over the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Pakistan and asked to ensure that immediate action was taken against the Pakistani terrorists living in safe havens in their country.

The army, which took the lead in dealing with Afghanistan over the terrorist sanctuaries there, had soon after the Sehwan shrine attack announced closure of the border crossings with Afghanistan citing security reasons.

According to the statement of the DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor, on February 17, 2017, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa appealed to the nation to stay calm by saying, “our security forces shall not allow hostile powers to succeed…each drop of nation’s blood shall be revenged, and revenged immediately…no more restraint for anyone.”

Gen. Javed Bajwa had called Gen John Nicholson, commander of the US’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan through telephone to protest continued acts of terrorism in Pakistan perpetrated from Afghanistan, saying that they were testing Pakistan’s policy of cross-border restraint.

Gen. Bajwa told Gen. Nicholson that recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan had been claimed by terrorist organisations whose leadership is hiding in Afghanistan, and asked him to play his role in “disconnecting this planning, direction, coordination and financial support”.

In a terse message, during the conversation with Nicholson, Gen. Bajwa also informed him of the list of 76 “most wanted” terrorists handed over to Afghan authorities earlier—operating from Afghan territory or hand them over to Pakistan for trying them over their involvement in terrorism.

Taking note of the terror assault in Sehwan, including the recent ones, Pakistan Army targeted a training camp of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and militant hideouts located close to the Pak-Afghan border in areas adjacent to Mohmand and Khyber agencies.

In a similar message to Kabul, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz called Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar to call for strong action against JuA and terrorist’s sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

The Foreign Office of Pakistan said that Afghanistan had been asked to address concerns about presence of terrorist groups on its soil, which are behind the latest wave of terrorism in the country.

It is notable that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, while addressing a press conference on February 17, this year claimed that the suspects involved in planning and carrying out the Feb 13 suicide bombing on a protest at Lahore’s Charing Cross (Mall Road) belonged to Afghanistan. Sharif also announced the arrest of the facilitator of the attacker, Anwar-ul-Haq who he said belonged to Fata’s Bajaur Agency which neighbours Afghanistan. The suspect’s confessional statement was aired during the briefing. The suspect stated, “I was associated with Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and they trained me”, adding that he has visited Afghanistan around 15 to 20 times.

The police officers involved in the investigation into the incident of Mall Road, Lahore revealed that Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is an offshoot of the Tehreek-i-Taliban.

Nevertheless, Pakistan has been hit by a series of terrorist attacks since Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) announced its ‘Operation Ghazi’. The Afghanistan-based JuA had in the announcement also hinted at unification of TTP splinter groups.

As regards the terror assault on the Police Training College in Quetta, IG FC Major General Sher Afgun had informed the press that the attackers acted on directions from Afghanistan and the initial investigation suggested that the terrorists were affiliated with the outlawed Lashkar-e- Jhangvi Al Almi militant group. He elaborated, “We came to know from the communication intercepts that there were three militants who were getting instructions from Afghanistan.”

Notably, as part of the dual strategy, CIA, RAW and Mossad are in connivance with the Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) and other terrorist groups. With latest capture of six NDS supported terrorists in Balochistan, the number of NDS backed terrorists arrested and killed by Pakistani intelligence agencies has crossed over 126. These external secret agencies are particularly supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly, Mullah Fazlullah led TTP was being prepared to carry out a fresh wave of terror activities inside Pakistan, as the latter has become center of the Great Game owing to the ideal location of Balochistan.

Located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, Balochistan’s Gwadar seaport is close to the Strait of Hormuz from where more than 17 million barrels of oil passes every day. Its location among South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia has further increased its strategic significance. Besides, Balochistan’s abundant mineral resources irritate the eyes of the US, India and Israel which intend to weaken Pakistan for their collective aims, as the latter is also the only nuclear country in the Islamic World.

In case of Balochistan, every Pakistani knows that the militant outfits like ISIS and separatist groups like the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and their affiliated groups, including Jundollah (God’s soldiers) and Lashkar-i-Janghvi which have been creating unrest in the Balochistan get logistic support from RAW and Mossad with the tactical assistance of CIA. In the recent years, these terrorist outfits massacred many persons through suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings and sectarian violence. These externally-supported insurgent groups had kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan including Iranian diplomats. They have claimed responsibility for a number of terror assaults, including those on Shias in Balochsitan and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan.

As a matter of fact, like Syrian war, as part of the dual strategy of their countries, CIA, RAW and Mossad are especially using ISIS terrorists who are behind the latest blasts in Balochistan to obtain the covert aims of their countries against Pakistan, China and Iran.

It is of particular attention that arrest of the Indian spy Kulbushan Yadav in Balochistan has exposed Indian undeclared war against Pakistan. While addressing a joint press conference with the then Federal Minister for Information Pervaiz Rasheeda and former Director General of ISPR Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said on March 29, 2016, “Kulbushan Yadav’s arrest is a rare case that does not happen very often.” He disclosed that Yadav was an active officer of the Indian Navy prior to his joining RAW. He also served as a scrap dealer and had a jewelry business in Chahbahar, Iran, after he joined RAW in 2013.

A video was also shown during the press conference in which Yadav confessed that he spied for India. Yadav admitted that he was assigned with the task to create unrest in Karachi and Balolchitan by stating, “I supported the individuals who worked to destabilize Pakistan…I promoted the criminal mindset that was there in Balochistan.” Another task assigned to him was to target the Gwadar Port. Yadav also confessed—funding Baloch separatists along with other terrorists. During investigation, RAW agent Yadav admitted that during his stay, he contacted various Baloch separatist leaders and insurgents, including Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, to execute the task to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s security agencies uncovered another ring of Indian spies in the country, working as under covert agents, found involved in subversive activities to destabilize Pakistan. In this connection, on November 2, last year, Islamabad disclosed that five Indian diplomats who were serving at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad found to be part of the RAW spy network and were involved in subversive activities by facilitating and funding terrorism. They were declared as persona non grata and expelled from the country.

Undoubtedly, almost all the terrorists or terrorist groups and insurgency in Pakistan, especially have their connection in Afghanistan. The porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. Their easy access through unguarded porous border provides opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc inside Pakistan and Afghanistan. For effective counter terrorism measures strong border, control management is vital at Pak-Afghan border. But, Afghan rulers are using delaying tactics in this respect.

Taking cognizance of the anti-Pakistan intruders, Pakistan’s army had decided to build a fence along the border, and to control the border crossings. The strategic project of 1,100-kilometre-long trench with the cost of Rs14 billion which was initiated along Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan by Frontier Corps in 2013 has been completed last year. In the next phase, the project will be extended to the entire long border with Afghanistan which had opposed this plan.

While, from time to time, controversy arises between Afghanistan and Pakistan when Afghan officials refused to recognize the Durand Line which is the 2640 kilometer long and porous border, situated between both the countries.

The issue again came to the limelight on June 12, 2016 when Afghan security forces started unprovoked firing at Torkham border crossing, resulting in injuries to more than 16 Pakistani citizens, including the martyrdom of some Pakistani security personnel. The aim was to stop Pakistan from construction of a gate.

Durand Line has not been drawn by Pakistan, but it was declared border line by British representative Sir Durand and Afghan Ameer Ghazi Amanullah Khan in 1919. People of Pakistan’s province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA (Tribal Areas) opted to join Pakistan in 1947. So, it is a declared border line and Afghan government has no right to object on any construction along with the Durand line.

There is no doubt that escalation of tension at Pak- Afghan border is deliberately engineered by the elements opposed to peace talks and improvement of bilateral relations between Islamabad and Kabul.

Pakistan is committed to tackle the problem of terrorism mainly emanating from Afghanistan. Therefore, the effective border management becomes imperative to control all the terrorism-related infiltrations, drug smuggling etc.  Moreover, effective border management will also facilitate both countries to come out of blame game, as it would offer a strict check on both sides to counter the free movement of terrorists and drug mafia lords, who are the important factors of deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and its obvious backlash on Pakistan.

Besides, Afghan peace and reconciliation process is a reality despite of its slow pace and continual interruptions. The positive trajectory of constructive relations between Islamabad and Kabul raised alarm-bells amongst the US-led adversaries who are attempting to affect the progressive Pak-Afghan relations through smear and sinister scheming.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have previously suggested many initiatives to resolve their differences. However, as fast as these solutions had emerged, they have disappeared due to lack of follow-up. Afghanistan and Pakistan have no other option, but to cooperate and resolve their differences through political and diplomatic dialogue. And there is a huge lack of trust between the both sides. Hence, it is imperative for both the countries to develop a framework for strategic dialogue, focused on short, medium and long term solutions. As a trust building initiative, an effective border management mechanism will be beneficial for the two countries. Such an establishment will also plug in many loop holes, being manipulated by the terrorist outfits to conduct cross border terrorism.

We may conclude that besides the previous terror-events, the recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan have connection in Afghanistan.

Posted in Afghanistan, Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on The Afghan Connection of Terrorism in Pakistan 

Pakistan: Who is Behind Lahore Terror Attack?

NOVANEWS

By Sajjad Shaukat

At least 13 people were killed and 85 injured on February 13, this year when a suicide bomber

struck outside the Punjab Assembly on the Mall Road in the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan

during a peaceful protest of the chemists and pharmacists against a new law.

Seven police officials, including two senior officers—SSP Operations Zahid Gondal of Punjab

Police and DIG Traffic Lahore Capt (retd) Ahmad Mobin were among those killed in the attack.

The affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan

Jamaat-ur- Ahrar (TTP-JA) took responsibility for the deadly suicide bombing in Lahore.

Terror attack in Lahore coincided with the incident in Quetta-the provincial capital of Pakistan’s

Balochistan province, where at least one policeman was killed and five people were injured on

February 13, 2017 in an explosion occurred on Sariab road.

It is mentionable that the final cricket match of the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL),

being played in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) was to be held in just a few weeks’ time at

Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium—nearly six kilometers away from the blast site. The return of

cricket to Pakistan was being touted as a successful demonstration of the PSL final in

Lahore—a move which could have presented the country as a safe nation to the world.

PSL chairman Najam Sethi, on many occasions, had said that foreign players participating in

the league have signed contracts which abide them to play the final in Lahore; however, they

have always quoted security as an issue. Hopefully Sethi and the Chairman of Pakistan Cricket

Board (PCB) Shaharyar Khan and the Pakistani players were helping to convince the foreign

ones to come to Pakistan for the PSL final match. Hence, apart from other sinister aims,

especially India is behind the latest explosion in Lahore to sabotage the final cricket match.

Besides, at least 24 people had been killed and over 50 injured in a powerful explosion that

ripped through a crowded marketplace in Parachinar Kurram tribal agency on January 21, this

year. Soon after the incident, Afghan-based TTP claimed responsibility for the blast in

Parachinar.

At least 65 people were killed and more than 100 others were injured when a blast struck at

the shrine of the Sufi saint Shah Noorani in Balochistan’s Hub Tehsil on November 12, 2016.

The Middle East-based movement of the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL)

had accepted responsibility for the attack via Amaq, its affiliated news agency. ISIS had also

claimed responsibility for a terror assault on the Police Training College in Quetta, which left at

least 60 individuals dead on October 24, 2016.

Earlier, the affiliated faction of the TTP, TTP-JA took responsibility for a deadly suicide

bombing in Quetta, which killed at least 74 people on August 8, 2016 in an attack at the

government-run Civil Hospital.

In fact, the armed forces of Pakistan have broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists

by the successful military operation Zarb-e- Azb which has also been extended to other parts of

the country, including Balochistan. And Pakistan’s primary intelligence agency, ISI has broken

the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of

terror attempts.

Since the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to

the Baloch militants as part of reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have

surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and the province,

peace has been restored in Balochistan, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, FATA (Tribal

Areas) and Karachi. But, it is due to lack of effective management mechanism at the Pak-Afghan

border that as part of the double game, the US-led India and Israel have again started acts of

sabotage in Pakistan to destabilize the latter. They are also trying to sabotage the China-Pakistan

Economic Corridor (CPEC).

It was part of ploy that two terrorist groups accepted responsibility for the terror assault at the

Police Training College in Quetta to divert the attention from the US-led India and Israel.

Based in Afghanistan, operatives of CIA, Mossad and RAW which are well-penetrated in the

terrorist outfits like ISIS, TTP and their affiliated Taliban groups are using their terrorists to

destabilize Tibetan regions of China, Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan and Pakistan’s Balochistan by

arranging the subversive activities.

As regards the terror assault on the Police Training College in Quetta, IG FC Major General Sher

Afgun had informed the press that the attackers acted on directions from Afghanistan and the

initial investigation suggested that the terrorists were affiliated with the outlawed Lashkar-e-

Jhangvi Al Almi militant group. He elaborated, “We came to know from the communication

intercepts that there were three militants who were getting instructions from Afghanistan.”

Notably, as part of the dual strategy, CIA, RAW and Mossad are in connivance with the Afghan

intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) and other terrorist groups. With

latest capture of six NDS supported terrorists in Balochistan, the number of NDS backed

terrorists arrested and killed by Pakistani Intelligence agencies has crossed over 126. These

external secret agencies are particularly supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and

Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly, Mullah Fazlullah led TTP was being prepared to

carry out a fresh wave of terror activities inside Pakistan, as the latter has become center of the

Great Game owing to the ideal location of Balochistan.

Located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, Balochistan’s Gwadar seaport is close to the

Strait of Hormuz from where more than 17 million barrels of oil passes every day. Its location

among South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia has further

increased its strategic significance. Besides, Balochistan’s abundant mineral resources irritate the

eyes of the US, India and Israel which intend to weaken Pakistan for their collective aims, as the

latter is also the only nuclear country in the Islamic World.

As regards Balochistan, every Pakistani knows that the militant outfits like ISIS and separatist

groups like the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and their affiliated groups, including

Jundollah (God’s soldiers) and Lashkar-i- Janghvi which have been creating unrest in the

Balochistan get logistic support from RAW and Mossad with the tactical assistance of CIA. In

the recent years, these terrorist outfits massacred many persons through suicide attacks, bomb

blasts, targeted killings and sectarian violence. These externally-supported insurgent groups had

kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan including Iranian

diplomats. They have claimed responsibility for a number of terror assaults, including those on

Shias in Balochsitan and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan.

As a matter of fact, like Syrian war, as part of the dual strategy of their countries, CIA, RAW and

Mossad are especially using ISIS terrorists who are behind the latest blasts in Balochistan to

obtain the covert aims of their countries against Pakistan, China and Iran.

It is of particular attention that arrest of the Indian spy Kulbushan Yadav in Balochistan has

exposed Indian undeclared war against Pakistan. While addressing a joint press conference with

Federal Minister for Information Pervaiz Rasheed, Director General of Inter-Services Public

Relations (ISPR) Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said on March 29, 2016, “Kulbushan Yadav’s

arrest is a rare case that does not happen very often.” He disclosed that Yadav was an active

officer of the Indian Navy prior to his joining RAW. He also served as a scrap dealer and had a

jewelry business in Chahbahar, Iran, after he joined RAW in 2013.

A video was also shown during the press conference in which Yadav confessed that he spied for

India. Yadav admitted that he was assigned with the task to create unrest in Karachi and

Balolchitan by stating, “I supported the individuals who worked to destabilize Pakistan…I

promoted the criminal mindset that was there in Balochistan.” Another task assigned to him was

to target the Gwadar Port. Yadav also confessed—funding Baloch separatists along with other

terrorists. During investigation, RAW agent Yadav admitted that during his stay, he contacted

various Baloch separatist leaders and insurgents, including Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, to execute

the task to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s secret agencies uncovered another ring of Indian spies in the country,

working as under covert agents, found involved in subversive activities to destabilize Pakistan.

In this connection, on November 2, last year, Islamabad disclosed that five Indian diplomats who

were serving at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad found to be part of the RAW spy

network and were involved in subversive activities by facilitating and funding terrorism. They

were declared as persona non grata and expelled from the country.

Undoubtedly, almost all the terrorists or terrorist groups and insurgency in Pakistan, especially

have their connections in Afghanistan. The porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is

frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. Their easy access

through unguarded porous border provides opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc inside

Pakistan and Afghanistan. For effective counter terrorism measures strong border, control

management is vital at Pak-Afghan border. But, Afghan rulers are using delaying tactics in this

respect.

Taking note of the anti-Pakistan intruders, Pakistan’s army had decided to build a fence along the

border, and to control the border crossings. The strategic project of 1,100-kilometre- long trench

with the cost of Rs14 billion which was initiated along Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan by

Frontier Corps in 2013 has been completed last year. In the next phase, the project will be

extended to the entire long border with Afghanistan which had opposed this plan.

While, from time to time, controversy arises between Afghanistan and Pakistan when Afghan

officials refused to recognize the Durand Line which is the 2640 kilometer long and porous

border, situated between both the countries.

The issue again came to the limelight on June 12, 2016 when Afghan security forces started

unprovoked firing at Torkham border crossing, resulting in injuries to more than 16 Pakistani

citizens, including the martyrdom of some Pakistani security personnel. The aim was to stop

Pakistan from construction of a gate.

Durand Line has not been drawn by Pakistan, but it was declared border line by British

representative Sir Durand and Afghan Ameer Ghazi Amanullah Khan in 1919. People of

Pakistan’s province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA (Tribal Areas) opted to join Pakistan in

1947. So, it is a declared border line and Afghan government has no right to object on any

construction along with the Durand line.

There is no doubt that escalation of tension at Pak- Afghan border is deliberately engineered by

the elements opposed to peace talks and improvement of bilateral relations between Islamabad

and Kabul.

Pakistan is committed to tackle the problem of terrorism mainly emanating from Afghanistan.

Therefore, the effective border management becomes imperative to control all the terrorism-

related infiltrations, drug smuggling etc.  Moreover, effective border management will also

facilitate both countries to come out of blame game, as it would offer a strict check on both sides

to counter the free movement of terrorists and drug mafia lords, who are the important factors of

deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and its obvious backlash on Pakistan.

Besides, Afghan peace and reconciliation process is a reality despite of its slow pace and

continual interruptions. The positive trajectory of constructive relations between Islamabad and

Kabul raised alarm-bells amongst the US-led adversaries who are attempting to affect the

progressive Pak-Afghan relations through smear and sinister scheming.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have previously suggested many initiatives to resolve their differences.

However, as fast as these solutions had emerged, they have disappeared due to lack of follow-up.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have no other option, but to cooperate and resolve their differences

through political and diplomatic dialogue. And there is a huge lack of trust between the both

sides. Hence, it is imperative for both the countries to develop a framework for strategic

dialogue, focused on short, medium and long term solutions. As a trust building initiative, an

effective border management mechanism will be beneficial for the two countries. Such an

establishment will also plug in many loop holes, being manipulated by the terrorist outfits to

conduct cross border terrorism.

Returning to our earlier discussion, with the assistance of CIA and Mossad, particularly Indian

RAW is behind the terror attack in Lahore.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,
Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Pakistan: Who is Behind Lahore Terror Attack?

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