LESCO – a resident evil
October 10, 2009
Book Review on: “Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead but Gutsy Girls Do”
November 1, 2009

Reviving the ancient silk route seems to be the name of this particular great game! Are we capable of connecting the dots? By Fareeha Qayoom

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Reviving the ancient silk route seems to be the name of this particular great game! Are we capable of connecting the dots?

By Fareeha Qayoom


s Pakistan in a state of war? Living in Lahore we seem to be a little divorced from all that action in the Frontier and Balochistan provinces which seem to be the center of all that strife, even though, we also get an occasional spate of terrorist activities. A couple of bombs going off daily all over Pakistan from September to May of every year seem common place now.  I did a friendly survey on the face book for a possible reason why the terrorist activities stop for the summer holidays and you know what? The consensus was that it got too hot in the summer to continue the killing sprees…so the terrorists take time off in the mountains to recuperate before joining the fray again. Countless ordinary innocent people are dying daily for no rhyme or reason.

Are we afraid? I don’t think so…not because we have inside knowledge of inevitability of death or because we are brave people or because we are Muslims and may have immunity from hell …its probably because we are stuck in daily grind of trying to survive and keep our heads above water…things are tough in this country. The state of economy, the fact that there is rampant unemployment, down-sizing, right-sizing or what have you due to severe recession, lack of governance, bad political leadership, prices hiking without notice almost monthly, food shortages despite Pakistan being an agricultural-based economy, high inflation in double digits, rampant corruption in public and private sectors, media hysteria and daily political storms, load-shedding and power outages…all culminate in us an instinct to bury our heads in the sand and not think about the state of our country…it’s a scary world out there. But they won’t even let us escape…you are not allowed to have fun because tomorrow you may die. There is a ban on every cultural activity because the government can’t provide security. The people have no healthy outlet to vent their fears besides “they” the enemy are out to stamp out any outbreak of Pakistani nationalism…its divide and rule. If they see you uniting against anything, they quickly plant a bomb in your midst. Gathering for Friday prayers is no longer deemed safe in this country – let alone for any other legitimate activity like sports, theatre, or music concerts. In a country where you can’t provide safety to practice your religion, who can be safe for frivolous activities like culture?

As Muslims, Pakistanis have probably known intuitively that after Iraq and Afghanistan, it would be their turn…probably, this is the reason that any able man, woman or child who can afford a dual nationality has gone for it…property investors in UAE were not only attracted to Dubai because of rich killings in real estate, they were also attracted because the government was allowing them residency visas…now, they are turning to Malaysia (or is it Indonesia?)  as the next big thing in property…are they looking for escape because those countries are more attractive than Pakistan? Obviously, a peaceful, safe country is more attractive than a war torn country any day of the week…only people who can’t escape are stuck here.

What is the government doing to safeguard its citizen’s safety? The government has introduced a novel approach to containing its population explosion. Blood is cheap. We have so much of it…spilling it may not cause any hardship. They keep asking for more US funds to kill our own people. Obviously, the 800-1200 terrorists hiding in our urban areas are not dying; they keep recruiting innocent children and women to do their dirty work while they hide in the mountains – cowards, the lot of them. I don’t think it’s a typical Afghan behavior. The Afghans as a nation do not hide behind women and children. It seems like a work of “foreign hand.”  The Afghans are a poor nation. They don’t have the funds needed to mastermind the killing fields of Pakistan. Or does the world press believe the ‘heroin’ dollars are funding this war on terror? Recent history tells us that it was US funding that was fueling the proxy war between Russia and Afghanistan. It wasn’t the poppy fields that defeated a super power. Common sense alone should tell you that war against Pakistan can’t be fueled by the same poppy fields. The enemy is too organized, well equipped, and high tech to be just bumbling, country hicks from the mountains of Afghanistan. Hello, do you think we are stupid?

I know I have always known instinctively that only our nuclear capability has saved us from direct US/Indian invasion. I heard on TV today that “More than 51 percent of our population is aware that USA is our enemy, and our government is going against the writ of the people by cooperating with them,” hmmm.

Let’s take a look at the situation logically.

Afghanistan is a rocky, barren desert. The only lucrative indigenous products they have are the poppy fields and the heroin. Obviously, Russia didn’t want them for their poppy fields. They wanted them for the right of way to warm oceans…Pakistan elected to be the piggy in the middle because they didn’t want to give away their territory to Russia and indeed why should they? It’s theirs. By the same token, what does America want with Afghanistan? They want a right of way to Central Asia through our oceans. The shortest route is through Pakistan. What does India want with Pakistan? They want Pakistan back. They want Afghanistan back. They want all their territory back that was taken over by the British Raj. Never mind that India was never a united country but a set of small kingdoms with the biggest kingdom belonging to the Mughals in those days…they are not into historical accuracy. They are into power games. For that matter, they want Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh back too…so what’s happening really?

USA and India are united in their quest of breaking up Pakistan in to little pieces. They are even cooperating on ‘war games.’ The only thing that stopped a direct invasion was and is our nuclear capability. Clinton keeps reiterating that our nukes are not safe and they may fall in the ‘wrong’ hands. Al-Qaida (the terrorist organization started, trained and funded by CIA) is hiding in our mountains – Obama promises to follow them into our mountains if need be. The president of the free world, the Nobel Peace Prize winner belongs to the nation that was inhuman enough to ethnically cleanse the Native American populations and confine them to a few reservations in USA and imported free people from Africa to enslave them – hey, that’s over. Don’t hold their past against them, (the proof of their enlightenment is that they elected an African American from the black minority to be their president who is deeply ashamed of his Muslim father, a fact which he demonstrated by disowning his father’s faith in public and will do everything in his power to kill the Muslim populations so that they can’t accuse him of having sympathies for the Muslims) – he will not play a meaningful role in bringing peace to the middle east or the sub-continent in Asia even though they have awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize – what’s a little blood to them – in any case, they believe in ‘might is right.’ Otherwise, why would they be invading a couple of countries and getting rid of indigenous populations for the oil fields and a gas pipeline? Its uni-polar world right now with the only super-power being the USA, never mind, that the next potential super power probably will be Europe or Russia because they have a direct trade route to central Asian gas fields and they may succeed in securing those pipelines despite USA’s best efforts.

What can Pakistan do in this situation? Pakistan should increase her defense and nuclear capabilities. Get out of IMF contracts ASAP and put our house in order. Stop selling the family silver like our gas fields, gold mines and agriculture land to foreigners and should stop taking sides against the Afghanistan-USA conflict. If they can’t side with the under dog, which is Afghanistan in this case, they should at least, stop helping the top dog – USA. They should start charging a heavy transit fee for any goods that move through our territory for Afghanistan, close our borders with Afghanistan and should shoot anyone who tries to cross them and should also shoot down any drones that attack her territories, because the drones don’t kill terrorists, they kill innocent people – or are you telling me, unmanned planes have now the ability to distinguish between friends and foes? The situation no longer is ‘are you with us or against us?’ as Bush reportedly asked Musharraf in telephonic conversation after the historic 9/11 incident in 2001. Pakistan can no longer afford the collateral damage in this senseless war. Since USA is not capable of negotiating with the Afghans for the right of way, they have no right to expect help from the civilized world. Pakistan has full right of defending her territory. She should push all these ‘rich and equipped’ terrorists into India – if they want to wage ‘holy’ war, there are more than enough non-Muslims in India to please them- why are they killing fellow Muslims? I don’t buy their so-called Taliban story anyway.

Pakistan has a couple of other options as well…they can ask Russia to fund a war against USA and India in Afghanistan. Or they can negotiate an agreement with USA for a right of way through Pakistan by leasing a few of the strategic areas en-route to our ports for exorbitant amounts and development of those areas by USA like China leased Hong Kong to England for 99 years. Even if the super power doesn’t care who it kills to secure her position as number one, we should care – it’s our people and it’s our territory and no super power should have any right to kill us – period, no matter how much money they are offering us for this right. It’s as simple as that.

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Fareeha Qayoom
Fareeha Qayoom
Publisher and editor-in-chief of Tkfr.com and former print editions of The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review (tkfr), a trade newsletter for the textile and apparel industry of Pakistan. In short, Publisher, editor, and a blogger. In addition, she has served as Managing Editor of MIT Technology Review Pakistan, print and web editions (2015-16). Total of 7 editions were published under her leadership by ITU, Punjab's first public technology university under the license of MIT Technology Review (USA). She has also managed Value Mag in the same capacity, a real estate and lifestyle magazine for Value TV - 2008-9. Published freelancer for The News on Sunday 1994-96. Fareeha has over 21 years of solid management experience – of managing brands (like Harley Davidson, Munsingwear, Chaps, Chaps Ralph Lauren etc.,), Retailers (like Target, Mervyns, Kohl's, Marks and Spencer etc.,), customers (VPs, Product Managers, Unit Managers, and Buyers), and products (apparel - woven, knits, men's, women's, children's, Print and online publishing units), projects, teams, and processes, information, content, and data, staff, vendors, and time. Versatile and adaptable with international exposure, communication and language skills (oral and written), and a consistent track record of achieving company targets and objectives, plus a MA in Political Science from Punjab University, a MSc in Economics from La Salle University, Louisiana, USA, and a BA in Economics from Kinnaird College for Women.


  1. Jan 8th 2010 – the circle tightens…apparently, the Al-Qaida is very much alive and kicking and still attacking USA and the master minds are supposed to be hiding between the borders of Pakistan-Afghanistan….the gist of the news reports coming out of the western media…

    hey, do I have to draw you a picture now?




    More reading?
    Black backpack – a symbol of terrorism

    Are Pakistanis in denial?

    Reading between the lines, divided we fall

    Clinton’s visit to Pakistan – what the heck happened here?

    How green was my valley?

    National symbols destroyed

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  2. Jan 9th 2010 – another interesting news report –

    apparently, it’s being alleged by US media and authorities that there are loads of terrorist activities being planned for USA by Al-Qaida masterminds sitting pretty in Pakistan who are still recruiting and training people from all over the world to carry out hits with “weapons of mass destruction!”


    A case is being built here alleging that:

    a. Al-Qaida is very much alive and kicking

    b. They are still planning stuff against USA

    c. They are hiding in Pakistan

    d. Pakistan is not doing anything about it

    e. Pakistan’s nukes are in danger of falling in the wrong hands

    f. Since Pakistan is not capable of taking care of business – USA will have to handle it and the only way is to keep invading Pak borders – first by invading the air space, which they are already doing by drone attacks (McCain was reported as saying these will not be stopped any time soon – check out Dawn, Jan 8th 2010) and later after the massive number of troops are gathered at the border – God knows how. You never know, they might even ask for India’s help – hence, the rhetoric by Indian army General reported in the news recently that they can take down Pakistan and China in one go…

    You might not even have to connect the dots to draw a complete picture – the clues are coming so fast at you that its kind of scary!

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  3. Jan 9th 2010 – Dawn news report

    US senators defend drone attacks
    By Baqir Sajjad Syed
    Saturday, 09 Jan, 2010


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  4. Here’s the update on Al Qaeda’s latest attack on USA –


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  5. You might find this interesting too…

    Dawn – Patterson terms remarks of Indian Army Chief as ‘silly’

    Friday, 08 Jan, 2010



    Times of India – US-Pakistan bickering gets ugly as ISI fingers American diplomats
    Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN, 9 January 2010, 01:14am IST


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  6. Jan 14, 2010 – Thursday…

    I found this extremely interesting…while USA is engaged in futile exercise to secure the gas pipelines the hard way, Russia is going ahead with her plans quietly and has the support of her neighbors…even her geography is helping her! 🙂

    check this out…

    Russia says Turkey backs all its energy projects
    Putin says expects Turkey to clear S.Stream in 2010


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  7. Jan 18 2010 — Mon day…
    Saw this ‘strange’ news item in Daily Times of Pakistan…
    Report is ‘rub bish’: FO
    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday rejected a report carried by The Sunday Times that claimed the US was train ing troops to retrieve Islamabad’s nuclear arsenal in case militants got their hands on the sensitive weaponry. Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Abdul Basit called the report “rubbish and a figment of the imagi­nation of the reporter”.He said the assertions and insinuations made in the story were baseless, adding that the Pakistan government continued to devise and implement a fool proof safety and security regime for its nuclear arsenal. Basit said the Western media kept repeating such “self-serving and baseless propaganda, adding, however Pak istan did not bother with it as no such assertions existed at the official level. app

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  8. Jan 19th 2010 — Tuesday…

    Down hill for Pak istan?
    By Tariq Amin-Khan
    Tues day, 19 Jan, 2010

    The CIA recently lost its for ward oper at ing base in Khost. Pak istan is under pressure to attack North Waziristan. And the noise about redraw ing Pakistan’s bor ders has increased by a few decibels.


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  9. Jan 20th 2010 – Wednesday –

    Two soldiers killed by Indian firing across LoC
    By Iftikhar A. Khan
    Tuesday, 19 Jan, 2010

    ISLAMABAD: Indian troops opened unprovoked firing from across the Line of Control near Rawalakot in the Keller sector on Tuesday, killing two soldiers.


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  10. Jan 20th 2010 – Wednesday –
    Iran spurns nuclear fuel deal in writing: diplomats
    VIENNA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iran has notified the U.N. nuclear watchdog it rejects key parts of a draft deal to send abroad most of its enriched uranium, designed to ease fears the material could be used to make nuclear weapons, diplomats said on Tuesday.


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  11. Jan 26th 2010 – Tuesday –

    London meeting to seek ways to win Afghan war
    The Associated Press

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010; 5:51 AM
    LONDON — How can the hard war in Afghanistan finally be won? That is the perplexing question facing Afghan leaders and 60 foreign ministers when they meet at a London conference Thursday.


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  12. US, allies plan $500m fund to woo Taliban
    By Anwar Iqbal
    Wednesday, 27 Jan, 2010

    WASHINGTON: The United States and its allies are expected to set up a $500 million integration fund at a conference in London this week to lure Taliban fighters to join the political mainstream.


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  13. Jan 28th 2010 – Thursday –

    Afghanistan summit: Why is the US backing talks with the Taliban?
    Heading into this week’s summit of Afghan allies in London, the top US general in Afghanistan said he supported President Hamid Karzai’s plan to reach out to the Taliban.


    Taliban talks high on agenda of key Afghanistan summit
    A key summit on the future of Afghanistan is set to start in London with a possible offer of talks to moderate Taliban high on the agenda.

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  14. Jan 28th 2010 – Thursday –

    If this news report is true – Pakistan should back off. There is no need to play the hero – in all the famous war movies, the hero always dies in the end! 🙂

    Pakistan seeks role as mediator in possible Taliban-Afghanistan peace talks

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  15. Jan 29th 2010 – Friday –

    Taliban talks plans gather pace as London summit held
    Plans to engage the Taliban in talks have gathered pace, with Afghanistan inviting members to a peace council and reports of a secret UN meeting.


    Analysts sceptical of Taliban response
    Friday, 29 Jan, 2010
    THE Afghan government on Thursday invited the Taliban to a peace council of elders as part of efforts toward resolving the conflict.

    DiManno: Misjudging Taliban a deadly folly
    Published On Fri Jan 29 2010

    Washington works the Af-Pak-India triangle
    By Zahid U Kramet
    Asia Times – Jan 30th 2010 –
    LAHORE – The United States’ Af-Pak special envoy, Richard Holbrooke, and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates have been running from pillar to post between Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to end the “war on terror” and bring some sort of stability to the South Asian region.

    JANUARY 29, 2010, 6:01 A.M. ET
    U.N. Official Met Taliban in January

    KABUL — The United Nations’ top representative to Afghanistan met with Taliban officials earlier this month, amid heightened efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the eight-year-old conflict, a U.N. official said Friday.

    U.S. cool to Karzai pitch for engaging top Taliban figures
    At a London conference on Afghan security, President Hamid Karzai sets out plan for bringing insurgents into a peace process. The U.S. backs ‘reintegration,’ but pointedly not ‘reconciliation.’
    By Paul Richter
    January 28, 2010 | 5:20 p.m.

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  16. Jan 29th 2010 – Friday –

    Senate backs further Iran sanctions
    (UKPA) – 4 hours ago
    The US Senate has voted to strengthen existing sanctions against Iran and impose new ones aimed at its fuel supplies as part of the US effort to dissuade Tehran from pursuing nuclear weapons and cracking down on internal dissent.


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  17. Jan 30th 2010 – Saturday – This is really funny! Now, Bin Laden is using his celebrity status to “do good!” 🙂

    Is he trying to improve his press?

    Bin Laden Adds Climate Change to List of Grievances Against U.S.
    Published: January 29, 2010
    Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, blamed the United States and developed countries for not halting climate change and said that the global economy should immediately abandon its reliance on the American dollar, according to an audiotape released Friday by the broadcaster Al Jazeera.

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  18. fareeha says:

    China threatens sanctions over U.S. arms deal
    January 31, 2010 — Updated 1112 GMT (1912 HKT)

    Beijing, China (CNN) — China has threatened to slap sanctions on American companies that sell arms to its rival Taiwan as part of a range of punitive actions Beijing is taking to protest the deal.


    Russia to sell Libya $1.8 bln worth of arms
    MOSCOW, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) — Russia will supply Libya with weapons worth a total of 1.8 billion U.S. dollars, said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

    “It’s not only for small arms and light weapons,” said Putin, adding that the contract was signed on Friday evening.

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  19. ‘Pakistan concerned at Indian role in Afghanistan’
    Tuesday, 02 Feb, 2010

    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is seriously concerned over growing Indian influence in Afghanistan and is strongly averse to any Indian role in the war-ravaged country, Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar said Tuesday.


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  20. US military chief warns Taliban gaining influence
    Tuesday, 02 Feb, 2010

    WASHINGTON: The top US military officer on Tuesday urged Congress to approve billions of dollars for the war in Afghanistan, saying the Taliban was gaining influence across the country.


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  21. fareeha says:

    Up to 80 percent of Afghan Taliban not hardcore: UK
    ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – There is no room for compromise with hardcore Afghan Taliban but the Afghan government and its allies hope to lure away many of the up to 80 percent of Taliban who joined for economic reasons, a British minister said.

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  22. fareeha says:

    Petraeus lauds Pakistan appeal to Afghan Taliban
    Wed Feb 3, 2010 9:40pm IST

    By Phil Stewart

    TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) – U.S. General David Petraeus voiced support for Pakistan’s “constructive involvement” in reaching out to Afghan Taliban to encourage reconciliation, saying its past ties to militants could prove helpful.


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  23. fareeha says:

    Pakistan nuclear arsenal safe: Top US spy chief
    Wednesday, 03 Feb, 2010

    WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s military knows there would be “catastrophic consequences, primarily for Pakistan,” if any of its nuclear bombs fell into the wrong hands, the top US intelligence official said Wednesday.


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  24. fareeha says:

    Kayani speaks
    Dawn Editorial
    Wednesday, 03 Feb, 2010

    Gen Ashfaq Kayani has reiterated the army’s position on Afghanistan: Pakistan wants a “peaceful, friendly and stable” Afghanistan; strategic depth isn’t about “controlling” Afghanistan but about ensuring Pakistan doesn’t have a long-term security problem on its western border; India’s role in Afghanistan is “unhelpful”; and Pakistan wants Afghan state institutions, including the army and the police force, to be fashioned in a manner that they don’t pose a threat to our “strategic interests”.

    The report in this newspaper highlighted how strongly the army feels on the issue: “He [Gen Kayani] warned that an environment hostile to Pakistan could strain its battle against militancy and extremism.” Translation: address our concerns regarding India, or else don’t expect us to cooperate as vigorously in the war against militancy. But this appeared a contradiction of sorts as Gen Kayani himself pointed out that Pakistan is fighting ‘our’ war, not America’s. For its part, the US has often given the impression that it has little influence or the inclination to convince India to reduce its role in Afghanistan. (India in any case argues its role is focused on development, though it has been eager to ramp up its training of the Afghan army and police.)

    It is significant that the army chief’s statement comes against the backdrop of calls from Washington and other western capitals for the Pakistan Army to move against militant bastions in North Waziristan. This is where the US and its allies believe the Haqqani network and Al Qaeda have their main bases. However, Pakistan’s military appears to be saying that such action is unlikely unless some of its concerns are addressed. We hope that the army’s response is part of a well-calibrated response for there are many other powers jockeying for some say in the future of Afghanistan (Russia and the Central Asian Republics, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, America, etc).

    The India-centric approach may cause Pakistan to become net losers in a wider struggle that it may not be paying full attention to. Then there is the question of a future power-sharing agreement among Afghanistan’s internal players. Here, too, what the Pakistan Army can achieve appears to be limited. Pakistan is hugely disliked by the non-Taliban, non-Pakhtun forces in Afghanistan, while its ability to influence the Taliban and the broader Pakhtun community may be in question. What, then, are Pakistan’s options? Gen Kayani called on the US and Nato to come out with a clear strategy on Afghanistan; we can only hope he has told his Pakistani strategists the same thing.


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  25. fareeha says:

    ‘Pakistan key player in reintegration process’
    Wednesday, 03 Feb, 2010

    ISLAMABAD: British Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell said on Wednesday that there can be no talks of reintegration with about 20 per cent of the Taliban fighters.


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  26. fareeha says:

    China hits back at US over trade
    China has hit back at the US a day after President Barack Obama promised to take a tougher line with Beijing over currency and trade.

    Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said the value of the Chinese yuan was not the main reason for the country’s trade surplus with the US.


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  27. fareeha says:

    Should we talk to the Taliban?
    By Mustafa Qadri
    Feb 4th, 2010 –

    Amid the shock and anger that rose out of the deadly attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 there were immediate calls for revenge against the likely culprits – Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network and the Taliban regime that allowed them to operate in Afghanistan.

    As the US commenced its carpet bombardment of Afghanistan, however, the Taliban expressed a willingness to hand bin Laden over provided the superpower gave evidence of his culpability. Any extradition, they added, would have to be to a neutral country and not the US.


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  28. FROM THE PAPER > Front Page
    ‘Al Qaeda attack on US in three to six months’
    By Anwar Iqbal
    Thursday, 04 Feb, 2010

    WASHINGTON: Al Qaeda is poised to attempt an attack on the United States within three to six months, America’s top intelligence officials have warned Congress.


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  29. In battle for hearts and minds Taliban show up the real idiots
    February 5, 2010


    BEWARE of military commanders who trumpet victory – especially as they prepare for battle. And if, as one of them argues, he confronts just “hundreds of idiots”, why has the world superpower and its allies not been able to defeat this ”idiot” enemy in eight gruelling years of war?

    As a combined American, British and Afghan force assembles for an assault on the Taliban stronghold of Marja, described as a ”festering sore” in fractious Helmand province, the generals would do well to remember repeated warnings that the Afghanistan conflict will not be won militarily.


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  30. fareeha says:

    ‘Nato keen to broaden dialogue with Pakistan’
    Saturday, February 06, 2010
    By our correspondent

    ISLAMABAD: Robert Simmons, Nato Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, says that Nato is very keen to broaden its dialogue with the Pakistan government even though they have a good ongoing dialogue with Pakistan’s military.

    Simons, a familiar face for those on the diplomatic watch in Islamabad, was well liked by all while working at the US Embassy and today confessed when he heard the news of the Benazir Bhutto’s murder, he cried out loud.

    Talking to the Pakistani media at a dinner in a restaurant overlooking the brightly lit Bhosphourous Sea, on the sidelines of the Nato Defence Minister’s meeting, Simmons was at pains to point out, “The message we have for Pakistan is that there should be broader than just the military-to-military relations, which are good. There is a Nato liaison officer in the Turkish Embassy in Islamabad as well for better contacts”. He said the active Nato-Pakistan political dialogue has seen with President Asif Ali Zardari visiting the Nato headquarters and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qurieshi is also expected soon. Besides, there have been visits by parliamentarians and journalists.


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  31. fareeha says:

    Thousands of civilians flee Afghan region as Nato plans onslaught

    Evacuation of most civilians will give commanders leeway to use air-to-ground missiles which have enraged Afghans

    * Jon Boone in Kabul
    * guardian.co.uk, Friday 5 February 2010 21.55 GMT
    * Article history

    Ten of thousands of Afghan civilians are abandoning an area of central Helmland where UK and US forces are set to launch one of the biggest operations of the year.

    The evacuation of most civilians from the town of Marjah and surrounding areas will give commanders greater leeway to use mortars-and-air-to ground missiles which have enraged Afghans in the past when responsible for civilian deaths.


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  32. fareeha says:

    Why are U.S. allies telling Taliban about coming offensive?
    McClatchy Newspapers

    KABUL — Thousands of U.S., British and Afghan troops are poised to launch the biggest offensive of the war in Afghanistan in a test of the Obama administration’s new counterinsurgency strategy.

    Military operations usually are intended to catch the enemy off guard, but for weeks U.S. and allied officials have been telling reporters about their forthcoming assault on Marjah, a Taliban-held town of 80,000 and drug-trafficking hub in southern poppy-growing Helmand province.


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  33. fareeha says:

    Appeal to Taliban before offensive
    (UKPA) – 1 hour ago

    Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have been given a choice to lay down their weapons or face “overwhelming force” as the British military prepared to take part in a major international offensive.

    British military spokesman Major General Gordon Messenger acknowledged that it was likely that the Taliban would put up a fight – potentially leading to further casualties.


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  34. Iran defies West and cranks up uranium work
    February 10, 2010
    TEHRAN: Iran has begun enriching uranium to 20 per cent purity at its Natanz plant in defiance of world powers but under the supervision of inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog, state media have reported.

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  35. NATO remains ‘serious’ threat to Russia: official
    (AFP) – 4 hours ago

    MOSCOW — NATO remains a serious threat to Russia’s security, the secretary of the country’s national security council said on Tuesday.

    “We deeply doubt that we will be safer as a result of NATO enlargement. For us, the alliance represents a threat and a fairly serious one,” Nikolai Patrushev said, according to Russian news agencies.


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  36. US denies defense crisis with Russia

    By Christophe Schmidt (AFP) – 3 hours ago

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s administration denied a row over the US anti-missile shield was slowing a landmark nuclear treaty with Moscow, after days of sharp Russian criticism of NATO.

    Obama also pointedly contrasted Russia’s “forward leaning” approach to confronting Iran’s nuclear drive with China’s more ambivalent stance, as Washington sought “significant” new sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

    A year after taking office, Obama is hoping that a replacement for the expired Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and Moscow’s cooperation on Iran will validate his decision to “reset” US relations with Russia.


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  37. They are still at it. Like I said on Jan 28th, Pakistan should back off – no need to play the hero. Let India and USA jostle for position in Afghanistan. They are here to stay anyway – the writing is on the wall, never mind, the exit strategy etc., Pakistan should stop serving its head on the platter…time to get out of the game.

    Pakistan offers to talk to Taliban to stem India’s influence: NYT
    IANS, 10 February 2010, 11:29am IST

    NEW YORK: Pakistan has offered to mediate with Taliban factions in return for a friendly Afghanistan and ways to stem the growing Indian presence there, the New York Times reported citing Pakistani and American officials.

    Pakistan has told the US it wants a central role in resolving the Afghan war and has offered to mediate with Taliban factions who use its territory and have long served as its allies, the influential US daily said in a report from Islamabad on Wednesday.

    The offer, aimed at preserving Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan once the Americans leave, could both help and hurt American interests as Washington debates reconciling with the Taliban, it said.


    Feb 11, 2010, Thursday
    Pakistan seeks role in Afghan endgame: report
    By Our Correspondent
    Thursday, 11 Feb, 2010

    NEW YORK: In a departure from its previous reluctance to approach the Taliban, Pakistan has told the United States it wants a central role in resolving the Afghan war, the New York Times reported on Wednesday quoting American and Pakistani officials.


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  38. Iran’s dilemma over democracy and nukes
    Are they fearless or foolhardy?
    The Iranian government has dangerously upped the nuclear ante in diplomacy and still faces resilient protesters at home. On both fronts the road ahead is misty

    Feb 11th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

    IRAN’S brittle but brutal regime is being squeezed from within by the relentless protests of the opposition and from without by the threat of more sanctions unless it backs down over its controversial nuclear plans. Yet Iran’s rulers, rather than parrying, sidestepping or giving ground, seem determined to fight on both fronts at once. After months of rising tension they seem to be asking for a double showdown, sooner rather than later.


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  39. Rise and fall of great powers
    By Tariq Fatemi
    Thursday, 11 Feb, 2010

    President Barack Obama’s first federal budget presented last week was filled with statistics that ordinary people would have found difficult to comprehend. Nevertheless, they did reveal worrying trends — a cause for general concern as America’s economic well-being has a profound impact worldwide.


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  40. McChrystal discusses Pak-Afghan border with Kayani
    Friday, 12 Feb, 2010

    RAWALPINDI: Ahead of the massive US military offensive in Afghan province of Helmand, Pakistan’s top military leadership made it clear that all US actions should remain on the Afghan side of the border and intelligence information should be shared with Pakistani security forces.


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  41. Pakistan is my biggest worry: Biden
    By Anwar Iqbal
    Friday, 12 Feb, 2010

    WASHINGTON: US Vice-President Joe Biden has said the security situation in Pakistan worries him the most, more than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Iran’s nuclear programme.


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  42. Major Afghan assault claims first Taliban casualties
    Saturday, 13 Feb, 2010

    MARJAH, Afghanistan: A massive assault force taking on the Taliban in southern Afghanistan claimed its first kills Saturday within hours of launching the biggest operation since US President Barack Obama ordered a troop surge, an Afghan army commander said.


    Accord reached with US on drones: reports
    By Our Correspondent
    Saturday, 13 Feb, 2010
    WASHINGTON: As a US national security team holds key strategic talks in Islamabad, US defence and intelligence officials tell the media that Pakistan and the US seem to have a broad agreement on drone attacks.

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  43. Clinton expected to seek Saudi Arabia’s help in confronting Iran
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, February 15, 2010; 7:18 AM

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton begins a difficult diplomatic assignment Monday in Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally. By all accounts, President Obama’s meeting with King Abdullah last year went poorly over misunderstandings on a variety of issues, and now Clinton seeks to rebuild ties.

    Clinton, who landed in Riyadh Monday afternoon, is expected to have lengthy meetings with the king, a tough, no-nonsense leader, at a tent compound about a 90-minute drive from the capital.


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  44. Sir Jock Stirrup says UK troops ‘must win Afghan trust’
    The head of the UK’s armed forces, Sir Jock Stirrup, has said the killing of 12 civilians during Operation Moshtarak in Afghanistan was a “serious setback”.

    No British troops were involved when two rockets fired by coalition forces missed its target in Marjah.


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  45. Marjah Taliban resist Nato push
    US forces are facing fierce resistance around the Taliban stronghold of Marjah as a major Nato offensive in southern Afghanistan moves into its fourth day.

    The progress of US troops has been hampered by sniper fire and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in some areas.

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  46. Iran sanctions raise Saudi doubts
    Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has expressed doubts about the need for more sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme, a move being pushed by the United States.

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  47. Pak’s cooperation a turning point in Afghan war: US
    By Anwar Iqbal
    Thursday, 18 Feb, 2010
    WASHINGTON: Following the arrest of the Taliban military chief in Karachi, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday described Pakistan’s cooperation in the war against terror as serving the best interests of both the countries.


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  48. Obama briefed on Pakistan-Afghan situation
    By Anwar Iqbal
    Friday, 19 Feb, 2010
    WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama has reviewed the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan with his senior officials and diplomats as his administration continues a two-pronged offensive to subdue militants in that region.


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  49. They do get around, don’t they?

    South Korean police arrest alleged Taliban
    Friday, 19 Feb, 2010
    SEOUL: South Korean police said Friday they had arrested a Pakistani man who claimed to be member of the Taliban on charges of using a fake passport.

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  50. China says Obama-Dalai talks ‘seriously harm’ ties with US
    Friday, 19 Feb, 2010
    BEIJING: China on Friday bitterly condemned US President Barack Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, saying it had “seriously harmed” relations and summoning the American ambassador in Beijing to protest.

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  51. Holbrooke Says Tajikistan Important For Outcome In Afghanistan
    February 20, 2010
    (RFE/RL) — U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke said in Dushanbe today that Tajikistan was “a country of immense importance if one wants to have a peaceful outcome in Afghanistan,” RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reports.

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  52. Dutch in crisis over Afghanistan role
    February 21, 2010

    THE Dutch government collapsed yesterday after members of the coalition government disagreed on a NATO request to extend the Netherlands’ Afghanistan military mission.

    Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende announced that the PvdA [Labour Party], the second largest party in his three-party alliance, was quitting.

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  53. Pentagon rejects conspiracy theories maligning Pakistan
    By Anwar Iqbal
    Saturday, 20 Feb, 2010

    WASHINGTON: The Pentagon has rejected a suggestion that Pakistan arrested a senior Taliban commander and two ‘governors’ to derail US-led efforts to win over the militants.


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  54. US not to use Uzbek base, says Holbrooke
    Sunday, 21 Feb, 2010

    ASTANA: The United States is not looking to re-open a key military base in Uzbekistan that was shut in 2005 in a diplomatic row, a US envoy said on Sunday as he ended a rapid tour of former Soviet Central Asia.


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  55. Afghan cabinet condemns NATO air strike that killed civilians

    By Steve Rennie (CP) – 2 hours ago

    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s government is condemning “in the strongest terms possible” a NATO air attack that killed and wounded civilians in a convoy bound for Kandahar.

    The Afghan cabinet released a statement Monday calling the previous day’s attack “unjustifiable.” The government also repeated its call for coalition forces to take extra care before launching any attacks.

    The assault apparently took place Sunday morning in Uruzgan province to the north of Kandahar, where the bulk of Canada’s troops are deployed.


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  56. New Marja mayor faces daunting PR sell to local Afghans
    By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, February 22, 2010; 9:07 AM

    MARJA, AFGHANISTAN — The Afghan official tapped to govern a Taliban-free Marja paid his first visit to this strife-torn community Monday, imploring residents to forsake the Taliban and promising employment programs as an inducement for local men to put down their weapons.


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  57. Dutch government collapse: Will other European troops now leave Afghanistan?

    The collapse of the Dutch government Saturday shows how unpopular the war in Afghanistan is in Europe. Will other European nations pull their troops out of Afghanistan earlier than planned?


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  58. An affair to remember
    Anjum Niaz
    Sunday, 21 Feb, 2010

    This is a triangular story of platonic, sensual and long distance love between a woman and two men as different as day and night. One man being a boozer, a womaniser, the other a paragon of piety (so he led us to believe). And in the middle was a woman — attractive and steamy. At first, there was a visible tilt in the direction of the Army House in Rawalpindi, which the woman frequented. How the occupant reciprocated is a classified state secret buried with his bones at Faisal Mosque.

    Curse Zia as much as you want, but unlike Musharraf, he at least left Pakistan with a legacy. The legacy was Charlie Wilson. “He won the war,” Zia said of the Texas congressman who single-handedly convinced US Congress to funnel truckloads of money to finance the CIA-sponsored war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. And how did Zia get around Wilson? The route to Wilson’s heart, Zia knew, was through a woman. That woman was Joanne Herring. Our dictator general appointed the attractive socialite Pakistan’s honorary consul in Texas. He flirted with her; he honoured and excited her. She fell hook, line and sinker for the president. While Wilson fell hook, line and sinker for Herring. He became a friend of Zia’s because Joanne so told him to.


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  59. Gilani stresses need for joint strategy with Afghanistan
    Wednesday, 24 Feb, 2010

    ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has stressed the need for a joint strategy towards checking cross border movement between Pakistan and Afghanistan and said that this would help facilitate both the countries to effectively stop the supply lines of the extremists and militants, reports DawnNews.


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  60. Iran says new IAEA head’s report misleading, biased
    Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:28pm EST

    By Sylvia Westall

    VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran accused the new head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Wednesday of issuing a misleading and unbalanced report on Iran’s atomic activities, saying he omitted important information.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency report, the first issued since Yukiya Amano became director-general, suggested Iran was actively chasing a nuclear weapons capability rather than that it had done so in the past.


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  61. UK troops to remain in Afghanistan ‘for five years’
    Britain will be “militarily engaged” in Afghanistan for a further five years, the head of the Army has said.

    General Sir David Richards told the Daily Telegraph, while on a visit to Helmand, that he expected the military conflict to “trail off in 2011”.


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  62. China rejects US pressure to revalue yuan
    Saturday, 20 Mar, 2010

    BEIJING: China urged the United States on Friday not to politicise a row over the value of its currency as it announced a top official would travel to Washington for talks on the issue and other trade disputes.

    As trade tensions between the two powers rise, Beijing warned of a negative impact from pending US legislation that would impose tough new penalties on China if it failed to revalue its currency.


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  63. Behind the Afghan imbroglio
    Saturday, March 20, 2010
    Saleem Safi

    Moscow offered to train a few officers of an Afghan law-enforcement agency. Kabul was ready to accept the offer, but the US killed the proposal. After the rebuff, the Russian ambassador publicly stated in a BBC interview that the US was creating difficulties for his country in Afghanistan.

    The Americans ignored two important points since the occupation of Afghanistan. One, the Afghan psyche of rising against all occupation forces. This becomes more dangerous when jihad fits into their scheme of national resistance. Similarly, the seeds of Islamism sown during the Soviet War in Afghanistan have bolstered the capacity of anti-Western Taliban and Hekmatyar forces abetted by Al-Qaeda to defeat the US-NATO alliance.

    Two, that all neighbouring and regional countries were involved in proxy wars in Afghanistan. These players had also become a part of the problem. The US-NATO alliance did not appreciate this fact. Rather, they mistakenly considered the occupation of Afghanistan as synonymous with expulsion of all regional players from the scene.

    Currently, the proxy wars of the neighbouring and regional countries are major hurdles in the way of stability and peace in Afghanistan. The changing goalposts of the US agenda, its failure to defeat opposing forces through a meaningful strategy and pushing out neighbouring countries from the equation are but a few of the gaffes. The regional players of the great game felt that the US agenda was not limited to finishing Taliban and Al-Qaeda alone.


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  64. How we turned a Cold War into a hot potato
    By Jawed Naqvi
    Monday, 22 Mar, 2010

    Far too many innocent men, women and children have died and many more uprooted from their homes in the Kashmir tragedy since its emergence as a violent and volatile issue in 1947. Its essential history, however, is at variance with most contemporary narratives of India-Pakistan rivalry, brutal military occupation, rabid religious zealotry and an indigenous struggle to keep a moderate inclusive Islam as its nodal characteristic.


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  65. Karzai to push for removing up to 50 ex-Taliban officials from U.N. blacklist

    By Colum Lynch and Joshua Partlow
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Monday, July 12, 2010

    UNITED NATIONS — Afghan President Hamid Karzai plans to seek the removal of up to 50 former Taliban officials from a U.N. terrorism blacklist — more than a quarter of those on the list — in a gesture intended to advance political reconciliation talks with insurgents, according to a senior Afghan official


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  66. Afghan civilian deaths rise, but NATO kills fewer

    By KAY JOHNSON (AP) – 3 hours ago

    KABUL, Afghanistan — Escalating violence in Afghanistan is now the worst since the early months of the nearly 9-year-old war, killing 1,074 civilians so far this year as international forces struggle to establish security, an Afghan rights group said Monday.

    However, the share of civilians killed by international forces is dropping — and the number dying in NATO airstrikes has halved — thanks to restrictive rules of engagement issued last year, the Afghanistan Rights Monitor said.

    Despite speculation that newly arrived coalition commander Gen. David Petraeus would change the policy, which critics say increases danger to American and other foreign troops, a NATO spokesman reiterated over the weekend that would not happen.

    Violence has soared across Afghanistan in recent months, as 30,000 more American troops arrived to bolster the international force. The reinforcements are moving into Taliban strongholds in the south and east of the country to try to strengthen Afghan government control, and insurgents have responded with a wave of ambushes, suicide attacks, roadside bombs and assassinations.


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  67. Three in Five Americans Give President Obama Negative Ratings on Afghanistan
    Over half not confident U.S. policies in Afghanistan will be successful

    NEW YORK, July 13 /PRNewswire/ — With the recent change in military leadership for Afghanistan there is a hope by the White House and others that this will help to change the direction of the war as well as attitudes toward it. President Obama probably also hopes this helps change opinions on his handling of the situation in Afghanistan, as just three in ten (29%) have a positive opinion of how he is handling it, while six in ten (59%) have a negative opinion. In January, almost four in ten Americans (38%) had a positive opinion of President Obama’s handling of the war while 53% had a negative opinion.

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  68. Want to Cut the Deficit? Start by Getting out of Afghanistan
    Joshua Pringle
    July 4, 2010

    U.S. debt is heading towards “unsustainable levels,” according to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office. In the last 18 months, the federal debt has swelled from $5.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion.
    President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform recently proposed cuts in Social Security and Medicare to reduce the debt. Republican leader John Boehner took it one step further, suggesting the normal retirement age be raised to 70, and adding cavalierly that no limit can be placed on war spending.

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  69. The Great Game–a synopsis

    Posted on 07 May 2011. Tags: Amu Darya, British Empire, Central Asia, Hindu Kush, Rudyard Kipling, Soviet Union, The Great Game, United States
    The Great Game–a synopsis
    Political cartoon depicting the Afghan Emir Sh…

    TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN – OCTOBER 10: (L-R) Marie Jose Jalou CEO L’Officiel and H.E.Dr.Gulnara Karimov. Image via Wikipedia

    Lord Curzon said “Whoever controls Central Asia, controls the world.” He then tried to control Afghanistan with his “On to the Oxus” policy which ended in ignominious defeat leading to the “Back to the Indus” retreat. The British never ventured into the wild wild west and Peshawar never really flew the Union Jack. The Mongols, and Alexander faced severe problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan. That is why Afghanistan and Pakistan are often called the graveyard of empires. Archives reflect a historical a historical perspective encapsulated by Rudyard Kipling and others. This was dubbed the Great Game by the British and Russian in the 19th century.


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  70. Is Iran the next stop?

    Dr Muzaffar Iqbal
    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Since the 1980s, the American political leadership has generally seen aggression, occupation of other lands, installation of puppet regimes through invasions, and plunder of other people’s natural resources as “America’s pre-ordained destiny”. Reagan was not the first to articulate this, but he was certainly one of the most influential American presidents to leave behind a doctrine of aggression which continues to dominate American foreign policy.


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  71. Dehshatgardi Murdabad!
    By Taimur Rahman
    Published: October 20, 2011

    Many people consider religious extremism to be merely a spontaneous response to drone strikes and Nato occupation of Afghanistan. The reality is very different. In fact, the CIA and the ISI deliberately planted religious extremism to fight communism during the Cold War. The truth is that the CIA and the ISI are responsible for the death and destruction we see in Pakistan today.


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  72. What does Pakistan want in Afghanistan?
    Pakist­an always had a vital intere­st in the stabil­ity of Afghan­istan, after years of turmoi­l it had become more vital.
    By Najmuddin A Shaikh
    Published: January 12, 2012

    The first three articles on what Pakistan wants in Afghanistan attracted a surprisingly large number of comments. The point I was trying to make was that the Afghanistan of the 21st century was not the Afghanistan that King Zahir Shah left behind in 1973. The balance of power had changed irrevocably after 30 years of strife and harking back to the power structures of the 1970s was not a realistic option. Pakistan had always had a vital interest in the stability of Afghanistan, but after these years of turmoil it had become even more vital. This is because without such stability, the Pakistani state could not re-establish the state’s writ in its territories that the Taliban ­— Pakistani or Afghan — in conjunction with al Qaeda and its Arab, Uzbek, Chechen, Uighur adherents have taken over.


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  73. Pakistan and the new Great Game
    US defenc­e strate­gy focusi­ng on China, is bound to compli­cate the situat­ion, add anothe­r elemen­t to Pakist­an-US ties.
    By Shahid Javed Burki
    Published: January 16, 2012

    The latest American defence strategy revealed by President Barack Obama, on January 5, could result in the South Asian subcontinent becoming the stage on which the large powers will play the new Great Game. India and Pakistan are likely to find themselves on the opposite side of the new great power divide. It would not be healthy for South Asia if the United States growing concern about China’s increasing influence results in promoting rivalry between China and India. A healthy competition between the two Asian giants will serve the two well. What would not help is Washington’s use of India to balance China’s rise and thus have New Delhi serve its strategic interests.


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  74. Afghanistan opium fuels insurgency
    By: Sikander Shaheen | January 17, 2012 | Comments

    ISLAMABAD – Opium trade is a major component of Afghan economy that contributes to funding insurgency and escalating corruption in the country, while Afghan opium trade may have exceeded $ 2.4 billion, equivalent to 15 per cent of Afghanistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the UN and an Afghan body said on Monday.

    A joint statement by the United States Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Ministry of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan, issued from Vienna, Kabul and Islamabad, revealed that farm-gate income of opium probably amounted to over $ 1.4 billion, equivalent to nine per cent of Afghanistan’s GDP last year. Jointly conducted by the two aforementioned bodies, Afghan Opium Survey 2011 revealed the noticeable 133 per cent surge in the net value of opium in comparison with last year.


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  75. Pakistan’s PM denies authorities knew Osama bin Laden was living in country

    Global ‘intelligence failure’ to blame for al-Qaida leader going undetected for so long, says Yousaf Raza Gilani

    Luke Harding and Zofeen Ebrahim
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 9 May 2012 19.26 BST

    Pakistan’s prime minister has insisted his country had not been “complicit” in sheltering Osama bin Laden and said the fact the late al-Qaida leader was able to live undetected for so long in Pakistan was down to a universal “intelligence failure”.

    Speaking after the one-year anniversary of Bin Laden’s killing, Yousaf Raza Gilani rejected claims Pakistan had secretly known he was living in the garrison city of Abbottabad. US special forces killed Bin Laden on 5 May last year during a raid on his heavily fortified villa.


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