Saturday, November 13, 2010

DTN News: Pakistan Used Terror As Hedge Against India And Afghanistan, Says Hillary Clinton

DTN News: Pakistan Used Terror As Hedge Against India And Afghanistan, Says Hillary Clinton
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON DC - November 13, 2010: Pakistan has in the past used terror outfits as a hedge to prevent India and an 'unfriendly' Afghan regime in the neighbourbood from undermining its interests, US secretary of state Hillar
y Clinton has said, cautioning that things might not have completely changed.

In an honest assessment of the situation in the Af-Pak region, Clinton acknowledged that the US policy of creating the'mujahideen' to oust Soviet Union from Afghanistan has also boomeranged.

Clinton also said that Pakistan's policy vis a vis India and Afghanistan is 'changing' for the better but added that she could not vouch for a complete U-turn.

"They [Pakistan] have in the past hedged against both India and an unfriendly regime in Afghanistan by supporting groups that will be their proxies in trying to prevent either India or an unfriendly Afghan Government from undermining their position," she said.

"That is changing... Now, I cannot sit here and tell you that it has changed, but that is changing," she told ABC News in an interview, the transcripts of which was released by the state department.

Clinton accepted that the US had created radical outfits and supported terrorists like Osama bin Laden to fight against the erstwhile Soviet Union, but that backing has boomeranged.

"Part of what we are fighting against right now, the United States created. We created the Mujahidin force against the Soviet Union [in Afghanistan]. We trained them, we equipped them, we funded them, including somebody named Osama bin Laden.

"And it didn't work out so well for us," she said.

The secretary of the state also said Pakistan is paying a "big price" for supporting the US war against terror groups.

"... I think it is important to note that as they have made these adjustments in their own assessment of their national interests, they're paying a big price for it," Clinton said.

"And it's not an easy calculation for them to make. But we are making progress [in Afghanistan]. We have a long way to go and we can't be impatient... Well, the headlines are bad. We're going home. We cannot do that," she said.

Appearing on the same ABC show, secretary of defence Robert Gates said Pakistan has withdrawn an equivalent of about six divisions of its army from the Indian border and moved them to the war zone with the Taliban.

"They're attacking the Taliban, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, and safe havens that are a problem for us," Gates said.

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DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY November 13, 2010 - Airbase Attacked, 8 Killed In Afghan Market Bombing

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY November 13, 2010 - Airbase Attacked, 8 Killed In Afghan Market Bombing
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable source By Sardar Ahmad (AFP)
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - November 13, 2010: The Taliban on Saturday launched a pre-dawn attack on a NATO base while eight people, including six civilians, died in a separate motorcycle bombing, the latest deadly violence in Afghanistan.

Eight militant fighters were killed in a firefight with foreign and Afghan forces stationed at Jalalabad airport in eastern Afghanistan, which is one of the largest military bases in the country, the alliance said.

The Taliban, which often exaggerates details of its attacks and foreign casualties, said 14 suicide bombers were involved but the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said only one was wearing a suicide vest.

No foreign troops or Afghan soldiers were injured in the attack, it added.

"The forward operating base received small arms fire from an unknown number of insurgents and after gaining positive identification of insurgent fighting positions an ANA and ISAF quick reaction force was sent to the area," it said.

Hours later, eight people -- two police and six civilians -- were killed and 18 others were wounded when a motorcycle packed with explosives detonated in a market in the remote Imam Saheb district of the northern province of Kunduz.

District chief Mohammad Ayoub Haqyar told AFP that the explosion was similar to previous attacks by the Taliban but there was no immediate confirmation of responsibility.

A pro-government militia commander was among the dead and was the likely target, he added.

"It's too early to say what the target was but we believe Commander Abdul Manan could have been the target. He was killed," said Haqyar, adding that an investigation was under way.

The hardline Islamist Taliban were in power in Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when they were ousted in a US-led invasion after the September 11 attacks in the United States.

They have since mounted an increasingly bloody campaign to regain power and drive out tens of thousands of foreign troops now based in Afghanistan to protect the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

Militant fighters have been increasing attacks over the last nine years and 2010 is currently the deadliest for the 150,000-strong international force, with more than 630 foreign soldiers killed.

The Taliban has been widely using improvised explosive devices, which are responsible for the bulk of the military deaths as well as scores of civilian casualties.

The insurgents claimed responsibility for another brazen daylight attack on the Jalalabad air base in June, in which a car bomb was set off and rockets were fired at foreign forces.

A number of assailants were killed and two service personnel were injured during the attack, which came just days before US General David Petraeus took up his post as NATO's top commander in Afghanistan.

Jalalabad has more than 2,500 military and civilian personnel and is one of NATO's largest bases in Afghanistan after Kandahar in the south and Bagram, north of Kabul.

Kandahar and Bagram have also been targets for Taliban attacks in the past.

Saturday's attacks came after a failed suicide attack in the Afghan capital Kabul on Friday, which was aimed at a convoy of foreign and local troops near a military base.

ISAF said separately on Saturday that it had detained a "senior Taliban leader" and several other suspected militants after discovering a significant weapons cache in the southern province of Helmand.

Several armed insurgents were killed in an air strike targeting a senior Taliban leader in northern Baghlan province, while Afghanistan's interior ministry said they had uncovered a haul of homemade bombs in Kunduz province.

All the operations happened on Friday.

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DTN News: Pakistan TODAY November 13, 2010 - Striking At Karachi’s Soul

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY November 13, 2010 - Striking At Karachi’s Soul
(NSI News Source Info) KARACHI, Pakistan - November 13, 2010: Thursday evening’s bombing of the Crime Investigation Department’s building in the heart of Karachi’s Civil Lines area, not only shattered glass and shook buildings for miles across half the sprawling metropolis, but it also shook the city’s soul—yet again. It reminded its troubled and exhausted citizens, weary of targeted killing sprees and random acts of violence, that Islamist terrorism has finally arrived in their midst.

It can be argued that Thursday’s bombing took place because no concrete action was taken after last month’s bombing at the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine; nor indeed the ghastly attacks before that on two Muharram processions in December and February. All three attacks, like this one, were claimed by the Pakistani Taliban (the TTP). This attack came ostensibly in the wake of some high profile Lashkar-i-Jhangvi —read Taliban/al Qaeda — accused who were arraigned this morning in a court of law and were being kept at the CID centre in police remand.

It is a measure of the failure of law enforcement agencies and lack of coordination among various government departments that such high profile accused were being kept in a building that did not have a maximum security prison regime in place. Media reports also speak of the breakdown of the police van which was carrying the said accused back to the CID centre from the court earlier in the day, with no police reinforcements following the vehicle. If this is the state of our preparedness in combating terrorism, which has reached our doorsteps, then help us God.

However, to give the devil his due, if you were to ask the police they would tell you that their best trained anti-terrorism teams are deputed on protecting the VIPs. This obviously leaves the Taliban and the like-minded elements all the leverage over the situation. They can strike with impunity at the time and place of their own choosing, as they have been doing in other cities of the country.

This bombing, however, given its precision and intensity as well as the target hit, should serve as a final wake up all to law enforcement agencies and the authorities concerned in Karachi. In a city where tens of agencies work without a central coordination mechanism — some are even accused of working at cross-purposes at times — virtually every place with public access is a soft target.

Consider the location of the CID building that was raised to the ground by a bombing that the Sindh home minister likened to the bombing of the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad in sheer terms of its intensity. It is located in what is known as the de facto red zone, with high profile government functionaries and law enforcement agencies housed at a stone’s throw. The Chief Minister House, the US consulate, the Mariott, Sheraton, Pearl Continental Hotel and the Rangers Headquarters are only a few yards away from the targeted building.

This, while two of the said hotels, the US consulate, the PIDC building and the KFC outlet located next to it have all been the scene of earlier bombings. The Governor House, Karachi Gymkhana and Karachi Club, the State Guest House, and the heart of the city’s business district are also not too far off from the venue of the attack; and neither are the thousands of shantytown dwellers along the railway track behind the CID centre, a majority of whom do not even figure in Nadra records; so many of those who were killed or maimed existed only in flesh and blood, when that’s gone, not even a trace of their existence remains.

The assault on the CID centre must be seen for truly what it tells us in plain words: that home grown terrorism is no Indian, Jewish or American conspiracy against Pakistan or Islam. It also tells us that there are many misguided Pakistanis in our midst, who may even have sympathy for these zealots targeting largely Muslims that would not endorse their narrow minded view of the faith under whose banner they kill and maim innocent citizens. How else does one explain the transportation of a van full of explosives along with a firing squad armed with latest weapons that came to attack the CID building during the evening rush hour no less?

Much of Islam as we know it in this country today, isn’t exactly in very safe hands; it’s time we woke up to the threat and did something about it instead of issuing token mere condemnations that follow such ghastly acts of sheer murder and mayhem, from Islamabad to the provincial capitals and the other Pakistani capital of sorts, in exile, the faraway London.

Will the citizens of Karachi respond any differently to register their outrage against this dastardly attack than those of Lahore and Peshawar have done so far remains to be seen.

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DTN News: Japan Hopes For U.S. Help In Row With China

DTN News: Japan Hopes For U.S. Help In Row With China
*The commitment of the United States to the defense of Japan is unshakable ... Japan and the United States are stronger when we stand together.Source: Washington Examiner
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Kyung Lah, CNN
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - November 13, 2010: The key topic of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit may be trade, but on the sidelines, host nation Japan is stressing the need for U.S. support in its strained relations with China.

And analysts say while the U.S. attempts to play peacemaker, it may see its future with China in Japan's current relationship with the rising superpower.

Japan's prime minister, briefing reporters about his meeting with the U.S. president on Saturday, thanked Barack Obama for his support in territorial disputes with Russia and China.

The disputes with both countries surround islands that Japan claims as sovereign territory, and began with a September skirmish at sea with China.

A Chinese fishing crew collided with two Japan coast guard vessels near islands in the East China Sea. Japan and China both claim the island as their territory. The Japanese coast guard detained the Chinese crew and captain, sparking an international dispute between the two countries and dragging relations to new lows.

China, flexing its growing economic muscle in the region, canceled high level ministerial meetings and, according to multiple Japanese importers, cut off supply of rare earth materials Japan relies on to produce high tech products. Thousands of Chinese tourists canceled vacations to Japan, an increasingly important source of income for Japan's tourism trade.

Japan's prosecutors eventually released the Chinese crew and captain, citing concerns over more diplomatic fallout with China.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan's administration stressed the need to move forward with an important economic powerhouse in the region, a nation Japan's economy relies on more and more.

China is Japan's number one trading partner.

Weeks later, Russia's president visited another set of disputed islands between Japan and Russia, seen largely as Russia taking an opportunity to take a stand against a weakened Japanese prime minister.

Japan's prime minister has seen his approval ratings plummet in the wake of the disputes with China and Russia.

Tokyo based analyst Keith Henry of the Asia Institute says there are lessons learned by Kan's government, but there is also a lesson in this dispute for Obama.

"I think the U.S. will find an economic partner, which China is, that will be a little less willing to bend to the will of the U.S. In fact, they're going to expect the U.S. to bend to their will," Henry said.

Japan serves as an example of how not to conduct diplomacy with China, increasingly muscling into prominence in the world economy, according to Henry.

"I think what they (the United States) can learn is, don't apologize. Be as adamant and confident in terms of the national self interests of the U.S. and approach the Chinese in an equally aggressive way. Failure to do so will put the U.S. in a position that Japan is finding itself with China."

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DTN News: Analysis Afghanistan - Nine Years On, The Taliban Have A Message For West

DTN News: Analysis Afghanistan - Nine Years On, The Taliban Have A Message For West
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - November 13, 2010: When NATO leaders gather for a summit in Lisbon next week, where Afghanistan will top the agenda, they can expect a message waiting for them from the Taliban.

That message may well be a violent demonstration of their staying power, even though Washington and U.S. and NATO commanders have been talking up recent successes in Afghanistan before the summit and a strategy review by President Barack Obama next month.

This comes as many European NATO members begin to look at how long they can keep justifying their commitments to an increasingly unpopular war, and as Obama remains committed to beginning a gradual drawdown of U.S. troops from July 2011 before the 2014 goal set by Kabul to take total security responsibility.

The Taliban have proved in the past they are well aware of the world beyond the deserts and fields of Afghanistan's south and its inaccessible mountains and valleys in the east and north, timing attacks to coincide with major events.

Four suicide bombers attacked the main U.N. compound in western Herat city last month, an assault the Islamist group said was in response to the U.N. Security Council renewing the mandate for NATO forces in Afghanistan 10 days earlier.

"From one side, the Taliban would like to show that the United States could not defeat them militarily in the past nine years and from other side want to introduce themselves as an acceptable political force, too," said Ghulam Jelani Zwak, director of the Afghan Analytical and Advisory Center.

On Saturday, as many as 14 Taliban fighters staged a bold assault on an airport and NATO base in Jalalabad in the east. At least 10 insurgents were killed, witnesses and police said.

The day before that, a suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy on Kabul's outskirts, wounding two soldiers, the first attack in the city in three months.

These extend a recent pattern of daring attacks by Taliban-led insurgents, including a massed raid by up to 80 fighters on a NATO outpost in southeastern Paktika province at the start of November, a different tactic to the usual Taliban hit-and-run raids.

At least 15 insurgents were killed in a pitched battle after a similar attack on a patrol in southern Helmand on Thursday.

At the same time, the insurgents' political rhetoric has become more moderate and more frequent, just as Washington and NATO have been talking up their gains. Analysts say the Taliban are trying to position themselves as a legitimate political alternative.


Zwak traces the Taliban response back to Obama's announcement last December that a "surge" of 30,000 extra troops -- meant to push insurgents to the negotiating table -- would be followed by the drawdown from July 2011.

"This announcement created the morale among the opponents that America is facing defeat and will leave Afghanistan, and if Americans leave, then the Taliban should present themselves as an alternative to the current government," he told Reuters.

Violence is at its worst across Afghanistan since the Taliban were overthrown by U.S.-backed Afghan forces on November 13, 2001, with military and civilian casualties at record levels and support for the war sagging in Washington and European capitals.

Recent weeks have seen a wider acceptance of the need for a negotiated settlement to the conflict, with reports emerging of contacts between the Afghan government and senior Taliban leaders to explore the possibility of talks.

"The Taliban show considerable prowess in the arts of propaganda," said Matt Waldman, an analyst at Havard University who has been in contact with the Taliban and was a security adviser for the British and European parliaments.

"Their most important statements seek to mobilize Afghan support for the Taliban, and increasingly, to undermine Western support for the war and counter concerns about the movement," Waldman said.

Among the most important of recent political messages was one attributed to the Afghan Taliban's reclusive, one-eyed leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, in September.

It assures Afghans of good governance, a Taliban government run by a consultative body based on "talent and honesty" and spoke of unity and the rights of tribes and women.

During their austere five years in power, the Taliban denied women the right to work outside the home and made them wear the all-enveloping burqa, drawing wide international criticism.

Omar's message even spoke of the need to address pollution and to combat the trade in illegal drugs. Afghanistan produces 90 percent of the world's opium used to produce heroin, an illicit trade that helps fund the insurgency.

The Taliban also criticize President Hamid Karzai for what they say is the endemic corruption in his government. The West argues that corruption inhibits the growth of state institutions and aids the insurgency.

The Taliban's last message was addressed to the U.S. Congress last weekend, when Obama was in India, after Obama's Democrats suffered major reversals in U.S. mid-term elections.

"Will you be able to obtain your long-term goals in the region only through the war in Afghanistan?" it asked.

(Editing by Paul Tait and Daniel Magnowski)

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