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Showing posts from September, 2011

Inside Haqqani Network

Brutal Haqqani Crime Clan Bedevils U.S. in Afghanistan
By MARK MAZZETTI, SCOTT SHANE and ALISSA J. RUBIN
New York Times, September 25, 2011

WASHINGTON — They are the Sopranos of the Afghanistan war, a ruthless crime family that built an empire out of kidnapping, extortion, smuggling, even trucking. They have trafficked in precious gems, stolen lumber and demanded protection money from businesses building roads and schools with American reconstruction funds.

They safeguard their mountainous turf by planting deadly roadside bombs and shelling remote American military bases. And they are accused by American officials of being guns for hire: a proxy force used by the Pakistani intelligence service to carry out grisly, high-profile attacks in Kabul and throughout the country.
Today, American intelligence and military officials call the crime clan known as the Haqqani network — led by a wizened militant named Jalaluddin Haqqani who has allied himself over the years with the C.I.…

Deteriorating U.S - Pakistan Relations

Pakistan's generals meet as relations with US hit new low
Pakistani military join scramble to tackle crisis as tensions with US escalate, raising likelihood of more drone strikes
Declan Walsh, Guardian, September 25, 2011
Pakistan's army chief has gathered his generals to discuss the escalating war of words with the US over the Haqqani insurgent network amid a deep sense of foreboding across the country.
The military refused to comment on the meeting chaired by General Ashfaq Kayani other than to say it was to discuss the "prevailing security situation". Media reports said the generals considered retaliatory action in the event of US military strikes in the northwestern tribal belt. Meanwhile the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, recalled his foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who has strongly defended the military, from the United Nations in New York. The political and military scrambling reflected the gravity of a crisis triggered by a 20-hour Haqqani assault on t…

Bangladesh's Potential

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Bangladesh's Economic Progress and Potential Full Text of Speech by Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Delivered September 20, 2011 at Asia Society in New York

Mr. Chairman,
Trustees and Members of the Asia Society, Distinguished Leaders of the USA’s Commerce and Industry, Ladies and Gentlemen, Assalamu Alaikum and Good Afternoon to you all.
Thank you for inviting me to speak before you on the prospects of trade and investment cooperation between Bangladesh and the USA. I would also like to thank the US Chamber of Commerce and the Asia Society, for holding this event. The Asia Society’s recent report on “Enhancing Trade and Investment between Bangladesh and the United States” demonstrates their sincere desire to improve trade relations with Bangladesh. Meanwhile the US Chamber of Commerce is playing a highly commendable role in deepening Bangladesh’s commercial ties with the United States. The Joint US-Bangladesh Working Group launched by US Chamber of Commerce in May 20…

Who Killed Burhanuddin Rabbani ?

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Afghan Peace Council Head Killed in Kabul
By Mirwais Harooni and Hamid Shalizi
Reuters, September 20, 2011

KABUL (Reuters) - A Taliban suicide bomber on Tuesday killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, former Afghan president and head of the government's peace council, a dramatic show of insurgent reach and a heavy blow to hopes of reaching a political end to the war.

The killing was a strong statement of Taliban opposition to peace talks, and as the latest in a string of high-profile assassinations will increase the apprehension of ordinary Afghans about their future as the insurgency gathers pace.

Since Rabbani was a prominent Tajik, his killing is also likely to exacerbate ethnic divides, which in themselves could do more to halt any peace process than the death of a man who while influential, had so far produced limited evidence of concrete steps toward negotiations.

"A Taliban member who went to Rabbani's house for peace talks detonated a bomb hidden in his turban,"…

US and Pakistan Look Forward....

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After Challenging Year, US and Pakistan Look Forward:
U.S. Ambassador Munter gives himself a "C or D" grade

September 19, 2011, Asia Society New York

For Complete Video of the Event Click Here

NEW YORK, September 19, 2011 — In the decade since the United States first helped launch Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Washington has seen neighboring Pakistan as both friend and foe — occasionally simultaneously — in its fight against Islamic extremism.

Given that Pakistan's other neighbors include Iran and India, it is easy to understand why the U.S. diplomatic relationship with Islamabad is viewed as one of the world's most important. 
Speaking Monday morning at Development and Diplomacy in Pakistan: A Way Forward for US-Pakistan Relations, hosted by the Asia Society in New York, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah presented a side to the country that often escapes the notice of the global media. Pakistan, after all,…

Asia Society Event - Development and Diplomacy: A Way Forward for U.S.- Pakistan Relations

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Development and Diplomacy: A Way Forward for U.S.- Pakistan Relations

September 19, 2011 - 9:00am - 10:15am
Asia Society and Museum, 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York, NY

USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah and U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter will share insights on U.S. diplomatic and civilian assistance efforts in Pakistan. This public discussion forum will provide a brief look at U.S. diplomacy and development assistance to date, and will focus on the future of this complex relationship. Additionally, this interactive session will provide the Pakistani American diaspora community an opportunity to share ideas and questions with senior U.S. representatives. The event is being co-presented by the Asia Society and the American Pakistan Foundation. Moderated by Professor Hassan Abbas, The College of International Security Affairs (CISA), National Defense University; and Senior Advisor, Global Policy Programs, Asia Society.

More information on the American Pakistan F…

'India cannot always be at odds with Pakistan' - Kuldip Nayar

India cannot always be at odds with Pakistan  By Kuldip Nayar
September 14, 2011, Express Tribune Former national security adviser MK Narayanan, now the governor of West Bengal, has always been a hawk. That he differed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on improving relations with Pakistan, does not come as a surprise to those who have followed his career from the days of his service in the intelligence agencies. Even then, his reports are said to have been anti-Pakistan. Such bureaucrats, on both sides, have not allowed normalisation between the two countries. And they are still at it.

I was amazed when Narayanan was appointed as the national security adviser (NSA). I could tell why, when I was told that he was close to the ‘dynasty’. His loyalty was tested during Mrs Indira Gandhi’s authoritarian rule and he came out on top. In the beginning, there were two advisers, one for politics and another for security. When former foreign secretary JN Dixit, heading the political side died, b…

Latest Developments in Afghanistan

U.S. cutting funds for Afghan forces' training
Reuters, September 14, 2011

(Reuters) - A Senate panel on Tuesday approved a $1.6 billion cut in projected U.S. funding for Afghan security forces, part of a significant reduction in outlays for training and equipping Afghan army and police expected in the coming years.
The United States started withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan in July with the goal of handing over lead security control to an expanded Afghan army and police force by the end of 2014. It has spent billions bulking up Afghan security forces to prepare for that day.

But the Pentagon is in the process of deciding how quickly those costs might come down in the next several years from the $12.8 billion it had initially projected in spending for fiscal year 2012.

Senator Daniel Inouye, the chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said $1.6 billion was being cut because of an "overstated requirement" identified by the U.S. military …

American Jihad!

An American jihad Sunday Magazine Feature By Muhammad Bilal Lakhani, Express Tribune, September 11, 2011 Despite everything she had been through in the last ten years, Talat Hamdani, a Pakistani-American substitute teacher in New York City, was still caught off guard when her 7th grade student called her a terrorist.

“Why did you call me a terrorist?” asked Talat.
“Because you guys attacked the twin towers,” replied the 14-year-old.
It’s an accusation that would hurt anyone, but for Talat Hamdani, it cut to the core. That’s because for her, 9/11 was not just a national or even a global tragedy, but a deeply personal one.

And even today, she remembers every detail of the day her life changed forever,
“It’s a very clear Tuesday,” Talat remarked to her younger son, Zeeshan, as she drove him to college on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Her eldest son, Salman, 23, a cadet with the New York Police Department and a certified emergency medical technician (EMT), was still in bed at…

Ten Years after 9/11 Tragedy - American AND International Perspectives

The Reckoning: America and the World A Decade after 9/11 - New York Times
And Hate Begat Hate - By Ahmed Rashid, NYT

Two very different 9/11 Pentagon tales of fate
By David Martin, CBS, September 11, 2011

(CBS News) On Sept. 11th, 125 people who worked at the Pentagon were killed when a hijacked jetliner rammed into the building.

And, as CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports, it was pure fate that intervened for everyone inside, with decidedly different outcomes, depending on the person.

The plane hit the west wall of the Pentagon and tore a 270-foot path of destruction through the building. Feet and inches, and just plain luck, were often the difference between life and death.

Special coverage: 9/11: Ten Years Later

Most people in the pentagon were transfixed by the televised pictures of the burning towers in New York.

"After some period of time watching it," says Rear Adm. Frank Thorp IV, who has since retired, "I came to realize, …

The Roots of the Islamophobia - An Interesting Perspective

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Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America
By Wajahat Ali, Eli Clifton, Matthew Duss, Lee Fan , Scott Keyes, Faiz Shakir |August 26, 2011, Centre for American Progress

On July 22, a man planted a bomb in an Oslo government building that killed eight people. A few hours after the explosion, he shot and killed 68 people, mostly teenagers, at a Labor Party youth camp on Norway’s Utoya Island.

By midday, pundits were speculating as to who had perpetrated the greatest massacre in Norwegian history since World War II. Numerous mainstream media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, speculated about an Al Qaeda connection and a “jihadist” motivation behind the attacks. But by the next morning it was clear that the attacker was a 32-year-old, white, blond-haired and blue-eyed Norwegian named Anders Breivik. He was not a Muslim, but rather a self-described Christian conservative.

According…

'Another Pakistan' - Christopher Lydon

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Radio Open Source: arts, ideas and politics with Christopher Lydon  Another Pakistan
We’re in Pakistan at mid-summer 2011 — “the country that could kill the world,” in a native line that lingers. Or maybe the new normal. Think of Pakistan, we’re told by Pakistanis, as a model or perhaps a warning of the rising, rough, tough inequalities in the world, even in our embattled United States… Early on we planned to see this nightmare aslant — less with oft-quoted strategists, more with the imaginative class, so to speak: with the typically grim but mettlesome singers, story-tellers and artists of Sind and the Punjab. They are wonderfully available, individual, candid women and men who have their own dark, truth-telling traditions. They each tell different stories, of course — and almost all of them different from the standard line of an “Af-Pak” crucible of global terrorism. Many of them point rather to “Indo-Pak” roots of the modern turmoil, in the Partition that carved two wounded and u…

Sectarian Conflict in Kurram Agency - An Unending Tragedy

'Clearing' Kurram

By Daud Khattak, August 25, 2011, AfPak Channel, Foreign Policy

On Aug. 18, Pakistan's most powerful man, Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, secretly flew to Kurram agency in the country's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and declared it free of "miscreants."

No doubt the Pakistani Army did a great job clearing militants from Central Kurram, the focus of the operation, as it did in areas like the Swat Valley. But Kayani's visit and announcement raise the following question: What do "clear" and "miscreants" mean for a Pakistani Army fighting to regain control of the area from a discreet force that can shift, hit, kill, and target anywhere, any place, and any time? And if the area had been successfully cleared, why did Kayani not travel by road, and why did he not meet the open jirgas of tribal elders in that area, as was the tradition when top Pakistani officials visited the tribal belt before 2001?

Inde…

'The Informants': Counterterrorism in the US

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The Informants
Mother Jones, September/October Issue The FBI has built a massive network of spies to prevent another domestic attack. But are they busting terrorist plots—or leading them?
—By Trevor Aaronson
James Cromitie was a man of bluster and bigotry. He made up wild stories about his supposed exploits, like the one about firing gas bombs into police precincts using a flare gun, and he ranted about Jews. "The worst brother in the whole Islamic world is better than 10 billion Yahudi," he once said.

A 45-year-old Walmart stocker who'd adopted the name Abdul Rahman after converting to Islam during a prison stint for selling cocaine, Cromitie had lots of worries—convincing his wife he wasn't sleeping around, keeping up with the rent, finding a decent job despite his felony record. But he dreamed of making his mark. He confided as much in a middle-aged Pakistani he knew as Maqsood.
"I'm gonna run into something real big," he'd say. "I just feel it…