Brian M Downing in a article publsihed in Asia Times, (an excellent and unbiased site) tries to make the point that the war in Afghanistan is a stalemate. He goes on to reason that the US is stalemated and cannot push out the Taliban–but he also points out that the Talibs doe not have the heavy weopanry that the Northern Alliance (NA) now has, and describes the scenario that it will be difficult for the Talibs to demolish the NA. Downing’s reasoninsg is flawed The NA has been propped up by ISAF. As soon as they leave, they will fall. ANA is not relaible and defections are common.
Russia and Iran no longer support the NA. In fact Russia is creating the Dushambe Four a sub-group of Pakistan, rusisa, Afghanistan and Tajikistan–to build roads and rails among the countries. The Chinese Russia “NATO”, the SCO will expand and keep getting larger.
Bharat will continue to try to support the NA, but there is a new streak in Delhi which may not do Washington’s bidding on involivng Delhi in Kabul with the resulting backlash on the Indian economy. Iran will not support Bharat under any circumstances, given Delhi’s close relationship with Israel. Russia will not antagnoize Chine which wants to mine Afghanistan. Beijing knows that without Pakistani help it cannot take advantage of the opportunities in the Hindu Kush. Neither China, nor Russia, nor Iran want the US presence to continue in Afghanistan. Supporting the NA would allow the US presence to continue indefinately.
Downing’s thinking is contrary to the latest US intelligence report that sees the Talibs taking over most of Afghanistan in a short period of time after the US departs. Donwning also underestimates the Pakistan factor. The NATO supplies will eventually open up, but ISAF will be paying to resurrect the Pakistan Railways, and will have to pay Octroi charges for passage through Pakistani roads. President Obama has to decide–to keep Central Asia or lose it to Russia and China.
S.M. Hali a prolific and independent journalist, at a time where these are rare to be found. he has written on an effulgent article titled “US Trojan horse” published in THe Nation, the only independent newspaper in Pakistan. The Dawn and Daily Times are heavily influenced with secular so called “leftists” with serious and profund links to India and the US. The Tribune Express is of course owned by the Interanational Herald Tribune (which is 100% owned by the New York Times).
Initially the US embassy exapnsion was approved by the CDA but then the intelligence agencies objected to it. The discuss on the expansion of the US Embassy in Pakistan has been highligted by Mr. S M Hali. He makes the following:
Mr. Hali writes that “Those in charge of Pakistan’s security have observed that if this happens, the US will be able to keep an eye on all important buildings in its vicinity in the federal capital. These include the presidency, the Prime Minister’s residence and secretariat, Parliament and even the headquarters of Pakistan’s premier security agency, the ISI.”
- The concerned quarters have, reportedly, raised the matter with the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to ask the US mission to limit the elevation of the complex to four, rather than seven storeys.
- Although a vigilant watch is being maintained over Islamabad through satellite and other aerial platforms, a permanent view from the rooftop of the new complex would be more ominous and round the clock.
It is pedagogical to note that the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) of the National Assembly has has recommended that the US should review its footprints in Pakistan and there should be transparency on the number and presence of foreign intelligence operatives in Pakistan. Hali does highlight a line from Ahmed Rashid’s latest book, “Pakistan on the Brink”, where President Barack Obama had ostensibly approved CIA Chief’s Leon Panetta’s plan to create a Pakistan-specific CIA hidden from the eyes of the ISI. This describes the level of mistrust between the intelligence agencies. There is nothing new in this, but it does describe the situation on the ground.
Hali also points out the Washington Post report which describes the US Embassy in Islamabad which reortedly houses the largest CIA contingent in the world. The Pakistani establishment, and beletedly the government has grown a backbone and is trying to place parameters around the relationship, which will be good for both countries.
Hali throws a bombshell when he quotes a senior Pakistani official saying: “There are about 15,000 marines in the capital.”
Hali then qoutes a story in the Nation “The Nation’s story of March 23 captioned US setting up for Pak sneak-in, reveals that the Americans have already acquired more than 400 houses in Islamabad, where their agents, contractors and marines have been living. In some of these houses, according to sources, even ammunition is being kept.”
Hali recommends that “the US diplomatic mission [be] limited to four storeys, and that the CIA personnel and marines should seek formal clearance by the Foreign Office and intelligence agencies before entering the country. Pakistan’s sovereignty must be respected at all costs!”
President Obama has agreed that there were strains in the relations, and PM Gilani had clearly informed him that the National Assembly will be defining the relationsip. The new head of the ISI, General Islam has clearly informed his US counterparts that drone bombings will no longer be acceptable. Both the Washington Post and the New York Times reported on the difficulties in continueing the drone program in Pakistan.
With Imran Khan’s Tsunami petering out, and the PPP and the PMNL sweeping the by-elections, the US-Pakistani relatiionship will continue but in a different format. The US is now in a withdrawal mood, and that may change things dramaitcally. The Pakistani Railways will be instrumental in defining the pace of the US withdrawal.
- Why has the Pakistani Ambassador to USA not been recalled? (rupeenews.com)
- Defeat in afghanistan spawns blame game (rupeenews.com)
- Relations to be redefined after Gen Mattis ‘eats crow’ in Islamabad (rupeenews.com)
- Relations to be redefined after Gen Mattis ‘eats humble pie’ in Islamabad (timesofislamabad.com)
- Delhi can never hope to replace Islamabad in US Afghan strategy (rupeenews.com)
- Vietnamization: Beginning of the End in Afghanistan (rupeenews.com)
- Another Karzai meltdown: Talibs consider him irrelevant (rupeenews.com)
- Bring on Agent Vinod (rupeenews.com)
- The coming storm in American Pakistani relations (timesofislamabad.com)
- The coming storm in US Pakistani relations (rupeenews.com)
- The rope has burned, but the twist remains (rupeenews.com)
- A hung parliament will rule the Hindu Kush (rupeenews.com)
- The mechanics of withdrawal (timesofislamabad.com)
- Tehran’s Terror tiff with Delhi: Energy brings Iran closer to Pakistan (rupeenews.com)
- A retreating army (pakistanindependent.com)
- Wakhan salient is Pakistani territory and must be returned (rupeenews.com)