Archive | Afghanistan

Afghanistan: UN mission condemns killing of at least 15 civilians in airstrike

NOVANEWS
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UN News Centre

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has condemned the killing of at least 15 civilian men and the injuring of at least 13 others, including at least one boy, in an airstrike targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) conducted yesterday in the country’s eastern district of Achin.

In a press statement, the UN Assistance Mission (UNAMA) reiterated the need for all parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law.

“UNAMA calls on the Government and international military forces to launch a prompt, independent, impartial, transparent, and effective investigation into this incident,” the mission said.

In the early morning of 28 September, an international military forces unmanned aerial vehicle conducted an airstrike, reportedly targeting members of ISIL/Da’esh, which struck a civilian home, killing the 15 civilians, according to UNAMA.

The civilians had gathered in a village to celebrate the return of a tribal elder from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and were reportedly sleeping in a guesthouse of the elder when the airstrike occurred. Civilian victims of the strike included students and a teacher, as well as members of families considered to be pro-Government. Government sources report that ISIL/Da’esh personnel also died in the attack, UNAMA said.

The mission highlighted that in a press release issued yesterday, United States Force-Afghanistan acknowledged conducting the airstrike, but refrained from elaborating further, indicating that they “are still reviewing all materials related to the strike.”

UNAMA also expressed condolences to the families of those killed in the incident and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

Afghanistan has been in protracted conflict for almost 35 years, which, in addition to being prone to recurrent natural disasters, has seriously hampered poverty reduction and development, strained the fabric of society and depleted the country’s coping mechanisms.

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Kabul heading for night of the long knives

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By M K Bhadrakumar 

There is, understandably, a degree of triumphalism in Delhi that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani lost no time to follow India’s footfalls and relay to the SAARC that he too cannot attend the planned summit of the grouping in Islamabad in November. But his explanation will raise eyebrows.

Ghani explained that the security situation in his country is acute. Fair enough. But then, he went on to add that that he will be “fully engaged” due to his “responsibilities as the Commander in Chief”. Ghani at least seems certain that he will continue to be the C-in-C six weeks hence. That is, perhaps, the only ray of hope at the present juncture when political uncertainties loom large.

The 2-year term of the Afghan National Unity Government (NUG) headed by Ghani is expiring today. From tomorrow, Afghanistan enters unchartered waters. The compromise deal on co-habitation between Ghani and the present Chief Executive Officer Abdullah, which was literally imposed on them by the US Secretary of State John Kerry two years ago, envisaged that Afghanistan would make political transition to a parliamentary system latest by today on the basis of a new constitution and electoral laws.

But with Ghani and Abdullah caught in the cobweb of factional politics, NUG got paralysed and could not fulfil the expectations placed on it during its 2-year life span. Meanwhile, elections have not been held for the Afghan parliament either, despite its term ending over a year ago. With the executive and the legislative body lacking legitimacy, a constitutional deadlock arises.

What happens now? When the US state department spokesman Mark Toner was asked about the fate of the NUG and whether Obama administration (which is entering lame duck phase) would undertake any further mediatory mission on a constitutional transition, he was evasive, saying,

  • I’m not going to predict what role (US will play), except to say that we’re – we remain committed to working with the Afghan Government and leadership in trying to continue along the reform agenda that they’re working on, but also, as you note, to ensure the smooth democratic transition to the next government.

The US seems to look away from the legitimacy question that hangs above the Ghani government beyond today and prefer to cast its eye on the horizon toward a “smooth democratic transition to the next government”. But, how will the transition be possible? (See the RSIS commentary The Coming Political Crisis in Afghanistan.)

But, by a curious coincidence, today has also been fixed as the date for the formal signing of Ghani’s peace deal with the famous Mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (‘Butcher of Kabul’) at a ceremony in Kabul. Hekmatyar himself will participate in the ceremony via a video conference from his undisclosed location in Pakistan.

Hekmatyar is not taking chances – nor his Pakistani mentors. After all, you only live once and there is no knowing whether Hekmatyar will be physically safe in Kabul, where his sworn Tajik enemies from Panjshir and various other assorted old Mujahideen war horses who would have old scores to settle with him, are present.

For a start, it will be interesting to see what brave face Abdullah puts on the Ghani-Hekmatyar deal. He is between the rock and a hard place. On the one hand, he knows the deal is intended to get political space for Ghani who lacks a power base of his own. Also, he will be savvy enough to know that Hekmatyar’s entry, a Mujahideen leader who was more than a match for Ahmed Shah Massoud himself in many, is bound to change the Afghan calculus radically and his own prospects of realising his overvaulting presidential ambitions recede significantly.

On the other hand, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai is waiting in the wings to be invited by any Loya Jirga that may be convened, to head the interim government. Abdullah seems to have weighed his options and decided that it is tactically prudent to allow the NUG to limp along for a while, given his congruence of interests with Ghani (as well as with Uncle Sam) to somehow keep Karzai out in the cold.

However, the known unknown is going to be Hekmatyar’s role in the power structure. It is all very well to say his group Hezb-i-Islami will be allowed to function as a political party and the US and UN are preparing to delist him as a dangerous terrorist. But politics, for Hekmatyar, is about power.

And it is improbable he can be kept waiting in a ‘safe house’ in Pakistan for long. He will insist that his due place of habitation is the presidential palace in Kabul; at the very least, he will expect a position that is on par with Abdullah’s (who was after all only Massoud’s English-language interpreter when he himself was the iconic figure of the Afghan jihad who was lionised by both Pakistan and the US.)

To be sure, Hekmatyar’s re-entry will evoke strong feelings among Afghans who see him as an agent of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. There have been demonstrations in Kabul against Ghani’s Faustian deal with him. Afghans have not forgotten the savagery with which Hekmatyar pursued power.

The widely-held belief among Afghans is that Hekmatyar killed more Afghan Mujahideen than he cared to kill Soviet troops. He incessantly lobbed rockets into Kabul City from the surrounding mountain tops and systematically reduced the capital to rubble in his bitter struggle for power with Massoud in the early nineties after the Mujahideen takeover. ((See an excellent piece by Terry Glavin at the National Post, The rehabilitation of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Butcher of Kabul.)

How could the Mujahideen forget that Hekmatyar waded through a river of Afghan blood? The Afghans will expect an answer to the big question: If Hekmatyar is okay, why not the Taliban, too?

The thought seems to have occurred to Karzai already, who remarked two days ago that if the Taliban control territory in Afghanistan, he doesn’t see anything incongruous because it is, after all, their country, too.

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Afghans Learned the Art of Torturing Their Prisoners From the West

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There were 77 cases of prisoner torture registered in Afghan jails last year, almost 10 times more than in 2000, a local human rights commission announced in a report.

According to the report, inmates were being tortured in Kunduz, Baglan, Nangarhar, Kandahar and Herat – provinces controlled by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The torturers went unpunished

In an interview with Sputnik, Sima Samar, Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission chief, said that none of those responsible for mistreating prisoners have so far been brought to justice.

“Our commission has registered multiple instances of excesses committed by Interior and National Security Ministry officials working in state penitentiaries. We condemn this practice and hope that such inhuman and anti-Islamic actions will never happen again,” Sima Samar said.

She added that a thorough investigation by state and security officials was the only way to of improving the situation.

Taliban supporters tortured

According to the report, people suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks and of links to the Taliban were tortured until they started making confessions.

Inmates were subjected to various kinds of physical abuse from beatings and electric shocks to being beaten with canes, sticks, rifle butts and whips. Many were also forced to stand for hours on end.

Are all those tortured really guilty?

Judging from the report, however, almost 300 people across Afghanistan were sentenced either by mistake or without any solid proof of their guilt.

These people are the type who could have been subjected to torture.

The report also mentioned hundreds of prisoners who went missing in 2015, adding that the past few years have seen a steady rise in the number of such “disappearances.”

See also:

UN Claim 35% of Detainees in Afghanistan Conflict Subjected to Torture

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US drone attack kills 22 Afghan soldiers: Helmand council

NOVANEWS

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A US drone attack has killed 22 Afghan soldiers held by Taliban militants in the southern Helmand province, while Taliban have overrun a strategic district elsewhere.

Provincial officials announced the fatalities on Saturday. Taliban also confirmed the death toll, saying the airstrike had killed three of the group’s members in the Nad-e-Ali district on Thursday.

Helmand is a strategically important province for both the Afghan government and Taliban militants, who control or contest 10 of the 14 districts in the opium-rich province.

On Saturday, Taliban militants seized a strategic district in the eastern province of Paktia, from which they can surge towards several other provinces.

Officials said dozens of police and soldiers were killed as the militants captured the Jani Khel district after five days of siege.

Local governor Abdul Rahman Solamal said hundreds of militants attacked police check posts overnight, prompting security forces to flee the district.

Jani Khel sits at an intersection linking eight districts. It also connects Paktia with neighboring Khost province and Pakistan.

“If we do not retake it (Jani Khel) soon then Taliban can easily move from one province to another and can undermine security in at least three provinces,” Solamal warned.

More than 20 soldiers and police were killed and another 20 wounded in the fighting overnight, while some 200 Taliban insurgents were killed, he said.

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said large amounts of equipment had been captured, including armored vehicles, light and heavy weapons and ammunition.

Taliban have regrouped since the death of former leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour earlier in the year and are reported to be currently in control of more than 65 percent of the country.

Fierce fighting is currently ongoing against the militants across the country, notably in Helmand and around the northern city of Kunduz, which they briefly seized last year.

Late last month, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said it had recorded 1,601 civilian deaths and 3,565 injuries in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2016.

The mission warned that civilian casualties had hit a record high this year, describing them as “alarming and shameful.”

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Guns sold, guns lost: What Pentagon sent to Iraq & Afghanistan after 9/11

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RT 

Since September 2001, the Pentagon has listed $40 billion worth of contracts for small arms intended for Afghanistan and Iraq, supplying 1.45 million guns to both countries while only accounting for 3 percent of them, says a new report by a British NGO.

The London-based nonprofit Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) pored over 14 years’ worth of contracts issued by the US Department of Defense, documenting the purchases of small arms – defined as anything under 30mm in caliber – ammunition and attachments, such as sniper scopes or tripods. They found a massive amount of weapons supplied by the US to the primary theaters of the “War on Terror,” and remarkably little accounting of whose hands they ended up in.

“Our findings raise concerns about the DOD’s own transparency and accountability when it comes to issuing contracts,” Iain Overton, AOAV’s director of investigations, said when announcing the report’s publication Wednesday.

Not only has the Pentagon’s contract database listed only 3 percent of the approximately 1.45 million small arms sent to Iraq and Afghanistan over the years, “we also know the US government has acknowledged they don’t know where many of these weapons now are,” Overton added.

A team of AOAV researchers spent almost a year looking into every contract published by the Pentagon between September 11, 2001 and September 10, 2015, said the organization, whose mission is “research and advocacy in order to reduce the incidence and impact of global armed violence.”

What they found was just over $40 billion of solicitations for small arms, ammunition and attachments, with just under $20 billion actually paid out to contractors. Of the 412 published contracts, 137 – or 33 percent – contained errors and discrepancies.

Ten companies accounted for 65 percent of the total published contract values, the researchers found. The top five contractors were Alliant Techsystems – now split into OrbitalATK and Vista Outdoor – DRS Technologies, BAE Systems Inc., Knight’s Armament Co, and General Dynamics. The largest single contract was for the modernization of Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri, worth up to $8.48 billion.

Some 949,582 small arms were sent to Iraq, and another 503,328 to Afghanistan, amounting to 1,452,910 assault and sniper rifles, pistols, machine guns and other unspecified firearms. Yet the Department of Defense contract publications listed only 19,602 of these weapons, just over 1 percent of the total. When AOAV pressed for verification, the DOD provided itemized lists for 719,474 weapons provided through June 2016.

The numbers “tell the story of two wars that did not go as pitched,” veteran military correspondent CJ Chivers wrote in the New York Times Magazine, commenting on AOAV’s findings.

The retired Marine and author of The Gun also filled in a piece of the puzzle the researchers missed by not counting the grenade launchers and anti-tank weapons provided by the Pentagon.

“The data offer no insight into a startlingly risky aspect of the Pentagon’s arming of local forces with infantry arms: the wide distribution of anti-armor weapons, including RPG-7s,” Chivers wrote.

After the first few weeks of each war, the only armor on either battlefield was either American or allied, “which made the Pentagon’s practice of providing anti-armor weapons to Afghan and Iraqi security forces puzzling,” Chivers wrote. “Why would they need anti-armor weapons when they had no armor to fight? All the while rockets were somehow mysteriously being fired at American convoys and patrols in each war.”

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Taliban at the gates of ‘Little America’

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By M K Bhadrakumar 

With the battle for Aleppo raging in Syria, another crucial battle in the east of the Greater Middle East, in Afghanistan, is being joined, the outcome of which is going to be no less fateful. The Associated Press flashed the news today that the key southern Afghan city of Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province, has been “completely surrounded” by the Taliban and the government forces are regrouping for a last-ditch defence.

The head of the Helmand provincial council estimates that the Taliban may capture Lashkar Gah within days. (UPI )

The development comes as a huge embarrassment for the Barack Obama administration. The entire mythology built around the famous “surge” ordered by President Obama in 2010 and the massive campaign in the Hindu Kush led by the general with the Roman nose, David Petraeus, with over 100,000 American troops under his command, is unravelling.

The “surge” was mostly concentrated on Helmand and Kandahar provinces. Rajiv Chandrasekharan of the Washington Post who covered the war in Helmand and Kandahar wrote a beautiful book on it, Little America, which is a brilliant recount of the political foibles and ambitious goals set by feckless Americans and about the Hobbesian world in which the “surge” slithered its way like a serpent through the great poppy fields, across irrigation canals and culverts and beyond the mud walls into the orchards of pomegranates, grapes and sweet melons into the seamless desert plateau with rocky outcrops — creating Potemkin progress but in reality letting loose a tidal wave of corruption and venality and mindless horrific violence and destruction. (Guardian )

The big question today for Obama, therefore, is: Just what was the point? Yet, he’s decided to abandon his 2008 election pledge and bow to the military commanders’ wish once again to keep troop levels at a threshold that would give the option for his successor in the White House to order a second “surge”, which is, in fact, what Gen. Petraeus has demanded in a recent opinion piece. (Wall Street Journal )

Without doubt, the capture of Helmand province will be a turning point in the Afghan war. Several factors come into play. First and foremost, the Taliban will have made a big point underscoring their capability – how quick they have been able to take advantage of the withdrawal of the thousands of British and American soldiers as recently as in 2014. The message will resonate all across the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan.

In “operational” terms, Taliban have made a slow, steady pincer movement lasting months, closing in from the north and south toward Lashkar Gah, exposing the poor leadership of the Afghan army and police. On their part, Taliban demonstrated tenacity, organizational skill and access to resources.

Helmand is the biggest single centre of opium production in Afghanistan. Taliban are set to get a sizeable share of the drug business, which has always been a major source of funding for the insurgency. Beyond its opium economy, Helmand is strategically located – bordering Pakistan’s Baluchistan province and close to the Iranian border, which provide good exit routes to escape in an emergency – or, alternatively, to bring in reinforcements – as well as supply lines to other regions of Afghanistan.

Suffice it to say, Helmand has the potential to become Taliban’s core territory where the ‘Quetta Shura’ could be ‘headquartered’, which could become a ‘provisional government’ on Afghan soil at some point.

The Afghan army faces an uphill task to retrieve control of Helmand, which is dominated by the Ishaqzai tribe. The Ishqzais have been virulently ‘anti-American’ all along. Besides, the Taliban can also cash in now on their sympathy, since Mullah Akhtar Mansour whom the Americans killed in a drone strike in April also happened to be an Ishaqzai. There is a blood feud the Ishaqzais have to settle with Obama.

Helmand is Afghanistan’s largest province; it is twice the size of Belgium and 16 times bigger than Panjshir. It is a fertile region with a developed irrigation system. The famous marble mines of Khanashin become another source of financing for the Taliban. Helmand is on the highway connecting the western regions (Herat, Farah, Nimroz, etc.) with the southern provinces (Kandahar, Ghazni, Khost, etc.) and with Kabul. If the Taliban gain control of Helmand province, they can dominate vital communication links.

However, the full gravity of the emergent politico-military situation in Afghanistan will not sink in unless the crisis of legitimacy facing the so-called National Unity Government in Kabul is also understood. The point is, the NUG has no mandate to rule beyond September unless a Loya Jirga is convened. No one other than former president Hamid Karzai has pointed this out.

Now, about half the members of a legally-constituted Loya Jirga would be the chairs of district council. But elections to the district councils cannot be held in the prevailing security situation with the government steadily conceding territory to the Taliban. The alternative will be to convene a ‘traditional’ Loya Jirga comprising tribal elders chosen at random. But then, who holds the authority to convene a ‘traditional’ Loya Jirga that could in turn constitute an interim government?

Meanwhile, tension is also growing within the NUG between the factions led by the president and the chief executive officer. Over and above hangs the dangerous question, which no one wants to think about, as to how long will the army remain intact regardless of political crises.

All in all, the fall of Helmand to the Taliban can only deepen the crisis of legitimacy haunting the Afghan government. Read a recent report by the veteran Afghan hand Barnett Rubin – THE U.S. PRESENCE AND AFGHANISTAN’S NATIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT: PRESERVING AND BROADENING THE POLITICAL SETTLEMENT

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Afghanistan: The Campaign’s Forgotten War

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Afghan forces in the Helmand province of southern Afghanistan on July 29. (Photo: EPA)

Although hardly news, it bears repeating that the Afghanistan War stands as the longest in all of United States history. By election day, it will have entered its 16th year. Our next president will surely inherit the war there, just as Barack Obama inherited it from George W. Bush. Here is a situation where the phrase “endless war” is not hyperbole; it accurately describes reality.

Given this depressing fact, one might think that those aspiring to the office of commander in chief would have something to say about how they intend to win or at least curtail that conflict, or perhaps why the U.S. should persist in such a costly endeavor. But in their lengthy convention speeches, neither Donald Trump (who spoke for 75 minutes) nor Hillary Clinton (who spoke for 66) found the time to even mention Afghanistan.

Their silence hints at what we can expect in the weeks between now and November: a campaign in which the opposing candidates will vigorously impugn one another’s qualifications for high office while dodging any serious examination of core national security issues. Of bellicose posturing and the insipid recitation of platitudes, there will be plenty. Of critical analysis probing the recent failures and disappointments resulting from U.S. military interventions, expect very little.

For a long time now, Americans have displayed a tendency to sanitize, marginalize, or altogether forget wars that resist incorporation into the preferred triumphal narrative of U.S. history. Afghanistan falls into the category of the best forgotten.

Yet however inconvenient, Afghanistan demands attention. For here the United States first set out to test the proposition that has formed the cornerstone of our national security policy since 9/11: That the deft application of U.S. military power can not only eliminate those threatening to do us harm, but also install in their place a stable political order conducive to liberal values.

In Afghanistan, the United States and its allies have succeeded on neither count, despite considerable sacrifice and expenditures exceeding one trillion dollars. Notwithstanding many years of Western tutoring, the Afghan government, currently dependent upon international donors for 70% of its operating revenue, has shown little capacity to stand on its own. Efforts to root out pervasive corruption have gone nowhere. Opium production flourishes, with Afghanistan persistently supplying 90% of the world’s heroin. Although no longer at the helm in Kabul, the Taliban persists and by some estimates is growing stronger. Hardly less troubling, Islamic State has established a local Afghan franchise.

The operation once grandly known as Enduring Freedom now goes by the bland name Resolute Support, the restyling itself a de facto admission of expectations ratcheted downward. The mission objective is now, in essence, simply to hang on.

Taken in toto, the present-day situation in Afghanistan represents a policy failure of staggering dimensions, matched in recent years only by the equally abysmal results achieved by U.S. efforts in Iraq, site of another long war that shows no signs of ending anytime soon.

Political calculation may provide Trump and Clinton with a continuing rationale to avoid subjecting the Afghanistan War to close scrutiny.

Because Trump’s candidacy is fundamentally idiosyncratic, divining the reasoning behind his silence is necessarily a speculative exercise. But one real possibility is that he is oblivious to the events that have occurred in Afghanistan since U.S. forces began arriving in the fall of 2001 and so has nothing to say. Another is that there are other issues — Libya offering a prime example — that he can more readily hang around Clinton’s neck.

As for Clinton, she may be reticent to remind voters that it was during her husband’s presidency that Islamist militants in Afghanistan first laid the basis for the 9/11 conspiracy. In that sense, the less said about that country the better. Then there is this additional factor: Clinton has gone out of her way to emphasize her cordial relations with senior military leaders, no doubt hoping thereby to bury a residual impression of the Democrats as an anti-military party. For her to focus critical attention on Afghanistan will necessarily call into question the performance of senior officers who commanded U.S. and NATO troops there and came home without getting the job done. As the prominent role allotted to one of those commanders at the Democratic convention suggests, Clinton appears less interested in holding generals accountable than in securing their endorsement.

If the candidates don’t turn to Afghanistan on the stump, we may hope — indeed, should insist — that the upcoming presidential debates oblige Trump and Clinton to address questions like these: What specific lessons do you take away from this longest of American wars? Please explain how you will apply those lessons once in office. As for Afghanistan itself, where do we go from here?

To evade such questions would be an abdication of responsibility.

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Why Controversy over Durand Line?

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By Sajjad Shaukat

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. Pakistan’s security forces were compelled to give response and skirmishes continued for two days.

Afterwards, Islamabad and Kabul agreed for a ceasefire and the latter recognized Pakistan’s stand regarding the construction of gate at Torkham border.

In fact, Durand Line is an internationally established border, but every now and then, Afghanistan government tries to create ambiguity and fuss regarding the issue, as all the governments in Afghanistan remained desirous to get access to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan’s province of Balochistan.

Some of the objections which emanate from the Afghan side about the validity of the Durand Line are, firstly the agreement was forced upon the Afghan King, Abdul Rahman Khan, after negotiations with the British government in 1893—secondly, it was signed only for a period of 100 years and then expired in 1994 and thirdly, the agreement was made with the British Government and not with Pakistan, and so in essence, it can be regarded as invalid.

In response, Islamabad’s stand on the Durand Line has been that it is a valid international boundary, recognized and confirmed by Afghanistan on several occasions. Pakistan has always upheld the norms of international law and has maintained the position of a successor state to the rights and duties inherited from the British government in India. Pakistan, as a successor state to British India derived full sovereignty over areas and its people east of Durand line and had all the rights and obligations of a successor state. As the Treaty was inked in Afghanistan and was further ratified in subsequent pacts of 1905, 1919, and 1921, this negates the assertion that it was a forced treaty. At the same time, no-where in the treaty, a mention of 100 years has been made.

However, creation of controversy by Kabul over Durand Line cannot be seen in isolation, as it is part of the double game of the US and India, including Israel which secretly back the Afghan Pakistan considers that peace in Afghanistan is a guarantee of peace in Pakistan, therefore, has been striving for the same in utter sincerity. But, the US and India do not want to see the peace and prosperity in the region.

Sadly, Pakistan’s dominant role in Afghanistan’s peace process under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) has, deliberately, been sabotaged by killing of the Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur in CIA-operated drone attack in Balochistan, which badly derailed Afghan dialogue process, as Afghan Taliban leaders refused to participate in the US-sponsored talks with the Afghan government. While, in the recent past, with the help of Pakistan, a series of meetings were held in Islamabad and Kabul among the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US to develop an understanding for the earliest possible resumption of stalled talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban with view to ending nearly 15 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan.

It seems that a dual game is on to pressurize Pakistan to bring Afghan Taliban either for the dialogue or to take action against them. US, India and Israel have built a hostile nexus for the Great Game and are pressurizing Pakistan by limiting its choices.

In this context, trust deficit has deepened between Pakistan and the America. Therefore, on June 10, this year, a high-level delegation of the US visited Islamabad and met Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif and Adviser to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Adviser separately.

During the meeting, expressing his serious concern on the US drone strike in Balochistan as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, Gen. Raheel Sharif highlighted as to how it had impacted the mutual trust and was counterproductive in consolidating the gains of Operation Zarb-e- Azb against terrorists. He elaborated, “All stakeholders need to understand Pakistan’s challenges-inter-tribal linkages and decades-old presence of over three million refugees—blaming Pakistan for instability in Afghanistan is unfortunate—target TTP [Tehreek-i- Taliban Pakistan] and its chief Mullah Fazlullah in their bases in Afghanistan—Indian RAW and NDS [Afghan National Directorate of Security] are of fomenting terrorism in Pakistan.”

US ambivalent policy about Islamabad could also be judged from some other development. In this regard, another delegation of US Senators including Senator Lindsey Graham led by Senator John McCain, Chairman of US Senate Arms Services committee, visited Islamabad and North Waziristan Agency (NWA) on July 3, 2016. The US Senators visited areas cleared of terrorists during Operation Zarb-e- Azb. American delegation appreciated the Pakistan Army’s accomplishment of cleansing the entire area of NWA right upto the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, after witnessing the terrorists’ hideouts and communication infrastructure dismantled by the As a matter of fact, RAW-Mossad- CIA assisted, the Afghan NDS is inflicting harm to Pakistan.

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 foreign agencies are also supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly Mullah Fazlullah led TTP is 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 its province of Balochistan—Balochistan’s Gwadar seaport among South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia has further increased its strategic Therefore, operatives of CIA, Mossad and RAW which are well-penetrated in the ISIS (Daesh or ISIL) and TTP are using their terrorists to destabilize Tibetan regions of China, Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan and Pakistan’s Balochistan by arranging the subversive activities. In this connection, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is their special target.

Notably, ISIS claimed responsibility for a joint suicide bombing of July 23, 2016, which targeted the peaceful rally of the Shiite minority of Hazaras who were protesting against the government’s decision of denying their region essential infrastructure through their plans of rerouting a power line. The twin suicide blasts killed more than 80 persons.

It is notable that 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 that to build a fence along the border, and to control the border crossings. In this connection, 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 this year. In the next phase, the project will be extended to the entire long border with Afghanistan which had opposed this It is mentionable that the establishment of CPEC between deep Gwadar seaport of Balochistan and the historic Silk Road city in western regions-Xinjiang of China will connect Gilgit-Baltistan through Khunjerab Pass. Beijing would also build an international airport at Gwadar, while the roads infrastructure in Gwadar would link the communication network of rest of the country to facilitate transportation of goods. Gwadar seaport would connect the landlocked Central Asian states with rest of the world. The port is likely to increase volume of trade, bringing multiple economic and financial benefits to Pakistan. It will enable high-volume cargo vessels to move in the major oceans, giving China’s short access to the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.

It is of particular attention that on September 8, 2015, the ISIS and former Afghan president Hamid Karzai had refused to recognize Durand Line as the permanent border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. While, the spokesman for the US Department of State John Kirby said, the United States has made it clear that it recognizes the Durand Line as an international border.”

Nevertheless, today’s world is quite different. Those voicing against the Durand line or in favour of Pakhtun ethnicity needs to realize the new realities. The reality is that there are more Pashtuns living on this side of the Durand Line than in Afghanistan. The referendum of 1947 and the decision of tribal Jirga of FATA are the strongest and undeniable facts to judge the affinity of Pashtuns. Today’s Pakhtuns from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and FATA have a strong participation in all national and federal institutions including Armed Forces, sports, education, politics and all other walks of life and stand with Pakistan. They have rendered huge sacrifices in war against terror and entire nation respects their sacrifices.

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 Afghanistan, Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Why Controversy over Durand Line?

U.S. Awards $1.7 Billion Contract to Buy Radios for Afghan Army

NOVANEWS
Image result for US MILITARY IN Afghanistan CARTOON
By Peter Van Buren 

I always found myself giggling during the Democratic debates when Hillary would ask Bernie how he was going to pay for things like healthcare or college tuition, and then Bernie stammering to find an answer.

They both knew the secret but neither would say it — there’s plenty of money, we just don’t want to spend it on Americans.

We think of that as freeloading, unearned stuff. Go get a job, moocher. But then move the same question overseas and everything changes. There is always plenty of money, and the people getting free stuff from that money aren’t moochers. They’re allies.

So how much healthcare would $1.7 billion buy? Because that’s how much money the United States just laid out to buy radios for the near-useless Afghan Army. And while I don’t know how much healthcare the money would buy, I do know it will purchase a helluva lot of radios. Is everyone in Afghanistan getting one? Maybe we’re buying them for the Taliban, too.

Anyway, the $1,700,000,000 radios for Afghanistan contract was just recently awarded to the Harris Corporation. And here’s a funny thing: only one company — Harris — actually put in a bid for the contract.

But the Afghans must need more stuff than just radios, and so the U.S. has money ready for that.

The United States will provide $3 billion to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces from 2018 to 2020 for, well, we don’t really know. Meanwhile, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan said the White House planned to ask Congress for about $1 billion a year in development and economic assistance for Afghanistan through 2020. And if that isn’t enough, the United States and its allies are expected to raise $15 billion for the Afghan National Defense and Security forces at a NATO summit scheduled for next month in Warsaw.

There’s money. You just can’t have any of it, moochers.

Posted in USA, AfghanistanComments Off on U.S. Awards $1.7 Billion Contract to Buy Radios for Afghan Army

Fool’s Errand: NATO Pledges Four More Years of War in Afghanistan

NOVANEWS

Image result for NATO CARTOON

By Ron Paul 

The longest war in US history just got even longer. As NATO wrapped up its 2016 Warsaw Summit, the organization agreed to continue funding Afghan security forces through the year 2020. Of course with all that funding comes US and NATO troops, and thousands of contractors, trainers, and more.

President Obama said last week that the US must keep 3,000 more troops than planned in Afghanistan. The real reason is obvious: the mission has failed and Washington cannot bear to admit it. But Obama didn’t put it that way. He said:

“It is in our national security interest, especially after all the blood and treasure we’ve invested over the years, that we give our partners in Afghanistan the best chance to succeed.”

This is how irrational Washington’s logic is. Where else but in government would you see it argued that you cannot stop spending on a project because you have already spent so much to no avail? In the real world, people who invest their own hard-earned money in a failed scheme do something called “cut your losses.” Government never does that.

Isn’t 15 years of US “blood and treasure” enough of a “best chance” to succeed?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced at the summit that thanks to an additional billion dollars in NATO member-country donations, the organization had come up with close to the $5 billion per year that it has pledged to the Afghan government. Of that $5 billion you can guess who is paying the lion’s share. That’s right, we are. We send $3.45 billion every year to, according to Transparency International, the third most corrupt country on earth — while Americans struggle with unemployment, stagnant wages, and inflation. That is why I always say that foreign aid is money stolen from poor people in the United States and sent to rich people overseas.

NATO head Stoltenberg said, “Our message is clear: Afghanistan doesn’t stand alone. We’re committed for the long haul.” How nice of the Norwegian politician to commit Americans to financing the war in Afghanistan for “the long haul.”

When I suggested in a recent interview that the only sensible US policy in Afghanistan would be to bring all the troops home, the host asked whether I was worried the Taliban would rush in to fill the vacuum. That’s what has already happened, I said. The Taliban are stronger than ever in Afghanistan. They control more territory than at any time since the original US invasion in 2001. Despite 15 years of US interventionism, nearly 2,500 dead US soldiers, and well over a trillion dollars, Afghanistan is no closer to being a model democracy than it was before 9/11. It’s a failed policy. It’s a purposeless war. It is a failed program.

The neocons argue that Iraq, Libya, and other US interventions fell apart because the US did not stay long enough. As usual they are wrong. They failed and they will continue to fail because they cannot succeed. You cannot invade a country, overthrow its government, and build a new country from the ground up. It is a fool’s errand and Washington has turned most Americans into fools. It’s time to end this game and get back to the wise foreign policy of the founders: non-intervention in the affairs of others.

Posted in USA, Europe, AfghanistanComments Off on Fool’s Errand: NATO Pledges Four More Years of War in Afghanistan

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