Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pakistan surprised over demand of ‘do more’

ISLAMABAD: The spokesman to foreign office Abdul Basit said Pakistan is surprised over UK demand of do more, Geo news reported Sunday.He said those posing statements regarding whereabouts of Osama Bin Ladin had better share with Pakistan information about him if the possessed.FO spokesman said Pakistan has either killed or arrested as many as 700 members of Al-Qaeda during last seven years and none must doubt Pakistan efforts to curb terrorism.No body knows the whereabouts of Osama Bin Ladin and if any one knows, he ought to inform Pakistan at government level, he concluded.

Prosecute the White House gate-crashers

New York (CNN) -- The gate crashers Michaele and Tareq Salahi want to be famous as stars of reality television. I am all for that. Give them a reality television series and call it "Trial and Jailtime" in the D.C. criminal justice system. This despicable, desperate, duplicitous couple disgraced the Secret Service and embarrassed the president in his home.
They totally overshadowed the president's meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the leader of an important ally. The incident made the Obamas' first state dinner, honoring the prime minister and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, fodder for comedians -- and it certainly raises security concerns for other world leaders visiting at later dates.
The gate-crashers need to be held accountable and not glorified.
Unless they have some excuse we haven't heard yet, the Salahis deserve to be charged with criminal trespassing and lying to federal officers for starters. Yes, they dressed for the occasion, but the Salahis are no different, and shouldn't be regarded any differently, than a nut case who jumps over the White House fence and tries to run in the front door. The only difference is that the fence-jumper would be shot ten feet from his entrance point.
I worked in a couple of White Houses and have always had the greatest respect for the Secret Service. These men and women put their lives on the line daily and often serve in long and tedious tours of duty.
I worked in the White House when President Reagan was shot and I saw the extraordinary bravery of Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, who was critically wounded when he took a bullet in the stomach after turning and putting his body between the president and the shooter, John Hinckley. But for all the bravery of its agents, the Secret Service lives in a world that demands zero defects.
So I have to tell you I am appalled at the comments by the Secret Service spokesman who was described as saying it hadn't been determined whether party-crashing is technically illegal. He went on to say he didn't believe the Salahis posed a security risk. Spin control is not needed now. Responsibility is the key word.
Trespassing is illegal. How does the Secret Service know whether the Salahis were a risk or not? The service apparently had not done a background check on them -- unlike every other guest and government employee in the tent that night -- because they weren't on the invitation list.
Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan issued a rare apology, saying the service took full responsibility for the episode and was "deeply concerned and embarrassed." Not good enough! He needs to determine who was responsible for letting the Salahis onto the White House grounds and fire whoever it was, before he thinks about offering his own resignation.
Public servants have to be held accountable and now is a good time to start.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has fired some of the top people in the military because they were not performing at the level he expected. Can Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, whose department oversees the Secret Service, expect any less? Can an agency, Homeland Security, that has responsibility for securing our borders be trusted if it cannot even secure the White House?
We live in a world of reality television in which egotists try to be famous for three minutes and land an appearance on the talk shows. The bigger question is what example this sets for our kids. If we glorify the actions of people like the Salahis and don't hold them accountable, how do we teach our kids what is right and what is wrong?
The Salahis claim there's more to the story. Their lawyer says they weren't crashing the party, but the Secret Service says otherwise.
Based on the facts as we know them so far, there's a simple way to deal with this case.
Charge them, prosecute them, and if a D.C. jury finds them guilty, jail them. Make an example out of them. Then next November when the president is pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey, he can pardon them too.
And after the pardon, as is traditional for the turkeys whose lives are spared, they can go live in Disney World -- a fantasy world that seems to be the perfect place for this pair.

Donald Rumsfeld blamed for failing to kill cornered Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden was cornered and within reach of US troops in the Afghanistan mountains of Tora Bora in late 2001 when America's military leaders made the costly decision not to attack the terror leader with the massive force at their disposal, according to a US Senate report.

The report by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asserts that the failure to kill or capture bin Laden in December 2001, three months after the September 11 attacks, has had lasting and disastrous consequences. Bin Laden's escape laid the foundation for today's reinvigorated Afghan insurgency and inflamed the internal strife now endangering Pakistan, it says.

In an introduction to the report, which will be published on Monday, Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, writes: "When we went to war less than a month after the attacks of September 11, the objective was to destroy Al Qaeda and kill or capture its leader, Osama bin Laden and other senior figures ... Our inability to finish the job in late 2001 has contributed to a conflict today that endangers not just our troops and those of our allies, but the stability of a volatile and vital region."

The report, entitled: "Tora Bora revisited: how we failed to get Bin Laden and why it matters today" will offer some support to President Obama as he prepares to announce this week that he is to send another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.
Senator Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, has argued for some time that the Bush administration missed a chance to get the al-Qaeda leader and his top deputies when they were holed up in the forbidding, mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan only three months after September 11. He commissioned the report as Mr Obama was trying to decide whether he should boost troop numbers in Afghanistan.
The report lays the blame for the state of Afghanistan and Pakistan today at the feet of the military leaders who served former President Bush, notably Donald Rumsfeld, the then Defence Secretary, and his most senior military commander General Tommy Franks.

"Removing the al-Qaeda leader from the battlefield eight years ago would not have eliminated the worldwide extremist threat," the report says. "But the decisions that opened the door for his escape to Pakistan allowed bin Laden to emerge as a potent symbolic figure who continues to attract a steady flow of money and inspire fanatics worldwide. The failure to finish the job represents a lost opportunity that forever altered the course of the conflict in Afghanistan and the future of international terrorism."

It states categorically that bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora when the US had the means to mount a rapid assault with several thousand troops. A review of existing literature, unclassified Government records and interviews with central participants "removes any lingering doubts and makes it clear that Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora" it adds.

"Cornered in some of the most fobidding terrain on earth, he and several hundred of his men endured relentless pounding by American aircraft, as many as 100 air strikes a day," it says. "Bin Laden expected to die," it claims. "His last will and testament, written on December 14, reflected his fatalism. He instructed his wives not to remarry and apologised to his children for devoting himself to jihad."

But the expected final attack never came. "Requests were turned down for US troops to block the mountain paths leading to sanctuary a few miles away in Pakistan," it says. "The vast array of American military power, from sniper teams to the most mobile divisions of the Marine Corps and the Army was kept on the sidelines."

Instead of a massive attack, fewer than 100 US commandos, working with Afghan militias, tried to capitalise on air strikes and track down their prey it says.

"On or around December 16, two days after writing his will, bin Laden and an entourage of bodyguards walked unmolested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan's unregulated tribal area. Most analysts say he is still there today.

"The decision not to deploy American fores to go after bin Laden or block his escape was made by Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and his top commander, General Tommy Franks."

It stresses that there were more than enough US troops in Afghanistan to capture the terror leader and although the ensuing battle would be difficult and dangerous, "commanders on the scene and elsewhere in Afghanistan argued that the risks were worth the reward."

At the time, Mr Rumsfeld expressed concern that a large US troop presence might fuel a backlash and he and some others said the evidence was not conclusive about bin Laden's location.

Gordon Brown Urges Timetable For Afghan Reforms

Gordon Brown has told Sky News that the President of Afghanistan risks losing international support if he fails to implement crucial reforms.
The Prime Minister says he wants an extra 5,000 Afghan forces trained in Helmand province by next year, and he wants details on reform of the police and government.
Mr Brown told Sky's political editor Adam Boulton that more progress must be made in Pakistan to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, adding that Britain is prepared to help re-build its education system.
Britain will host an international conference on January 28 to decide a timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.

Mr Brown said: "I will want to know that by the time we get to January 28 we have a credible plan in place from President Karzai so that we can train Afghan troops.
"Within three months of that I feel we should also have a credible plan about how he's going to reform the police service in Afghanistan... and within six months he has got to have appointed district and provincial governors."
Mr Brown said the milestones would create the conditions for control of the country to be handed over, district by district, to home-grown authorities and for UK troops to come home.
He also told Sky News that people in Pakistan know where Osama Bin Laden is and the country's government must take action against al Qaeda within its borders.
:: Nine thousand US Marines will be deployed to Afghanistan within days of Barack Obama's announcement of his new war strategy, it is being reported.
The Washington Post claims the extra troops will double the size of the US force in the southern province of Helmand, where large numbers of British forces are based.
President Barack Obama will outline his latest strategy on Afghanistan on Tuesday.

Zardari claims success against Taliban

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has claimed "considerable success" in a military offensive against the Taliban, but criticism of his rule mounted Sunday threatening further instability.
Zardari, who is battling a Taliban insurgency, increasing unpopularity and strained relations with the military, made the remarks during a telephone conversation late Saturday with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
They come as an amnesty protecting Zardari and key aides from corruption cases expired, and after he handed over control of the country's nuclear arsenal to the prime minister in an apparent move to appease his critics.
"Referring to the ongoing drive against militancy in the tribal areas of South Waziristan, the president said that considerable success had been achieved," presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said in a statement.
"The operation would continue until the area is cleared of terrorists and the objectives are achieved," Zardari told Brown.
Pakistan sent about 30,000 troops backed by fighter jets and helicopter gunships into South Waziristan on October 17, in the most ambitious operation yet against the Taliban in their mountain stronghold near the Afghan border.
Although there has been some resistance in the region, many officials and analysts believe most of the estimated 10,000 Taliban guerrillas in the district have escaped into neighbouring Orakzai and North Waziristan.
Pakistan is also facing political uncertainty after the legal amnesty protecting dozens of politicians from prosecution expired Saturday.
Zardari enjoys immunity as president, but his government is seen as too weak to secure an extension of the ordinance in parliament, and its expiration opens the door for possible legal cases against senior cabinet ministers.
The president on Saturday gave control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, widely seen as a move to fend off criticism by making good on electoral promises to devolve greater power to parliament.
"Now the time has come to fulfil promises and Mr President should keep his promises," said opposition politician Shahbaz Sharif, brother of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and chief minister of Punjab province.
"He has been making promises to repeal the 17th amendment and now the time has come that finally he should honour his promises," he told reporters.
The 17th amendment to the constitution was introduced by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, and gives the president the power to dissolve parliament and sack the prime minister.
Zardari replaced Musharraf as president last year after his Pakistan People's Party won elections, but his approval ratings are at rock bottom as the nation struggles with Taliban violence and a recession.
Security has drastically deteriorated in Pakistan since Islamabad joined the US-led "war on terror". Hundreds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants fled into the tribal belt after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.
The South Waziristan offensive, which followed a spring offensive in Swat valley, has also seen a retaliatory surge in suicide attacks targeting civilians and security officials, particularly in Pakistan's northwest.
The United States has welcomed Pakistan's military efforts but is reportedly pressuring the civilian government to also counter militants on Pakistani soil who attack NATO and US troops across the border in Afghanistan.
On Sunday, eight militants were reported killed in clashes with troops in the tribal districts of Khyber -- the main supply route for NATO trucks heading to Afghanistan -- and in South Waziristan, military officials said.

Marines to target Taliban bastion
KABUL -- Days after President Obama outlines his new war strategy in a speech Tuesday, as many as 9,000 Marines will begin final preparations to deploy to southern Afghanistan and renew an assault on a Taliban stronghold that slowed this year amid a troop shortage and political pressure from the Afghan government, senior U.S. officials said.

The extra Marines will be the first to move into the country as part of Obama's escalation of the eight-year-old war. They will double the size of the U.S. force in the southern province of Helmand and will provide a critical test for Afghan President Hamid Karzai's struggling government and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's counterinsurgency strategy.

"The first troops out of the door are going to be Marines," Gen. James T. Conway, the Corps' top officer, told fellow Marines in Afghanistan on Saturday. "We've been leaning forward in anticipation of a decision. And we've got some pretty stiff fighting coming."

The Marines will be quickly followed by about 1,000 U.S. Army trainers. They will deploy as early as February to speed the growth of the Afghan army and police force, military officials said.

The new forces will not start moving until Obama outlines his new strategy in a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. The revised plan, which faces a war-weary and increasingly skeptical American public, is expected to call for 30,000 to 35,000 new troops in a phased deployment over the next 12 to 18 months.

The parceling-out of reinforcements is driven in part by Afghanistan's lack of infrastructure, which cannot immediately support a larger U.S. force. The phased approach will also allow the president to cancel some of the additional reinforcements if the counterinsurgency strategy advocated by McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, does not show results or if the Karzai government does not meet goals for stamping out corruption and providing for the Afghan people, White House officials said.

The first place Obama will look for results is Helmand, a Taliban-dominated province that has been McChrystal's primary focus for much of this year and has been the site of some of the bloodiest fighting. Earlier this year, about 10,000 Marines moved into the area and pushed Taliban fighters out of several major cities there. The Marines then began to rebuild the long-absent Afghan government and police forces in the area.

The U.S. offensive, however, did not dislodge the Taliban from such places as Marjeh, a city of about 50,000 people in central Helmand that remains a major center for the opium trade. After several months of fighting, senior Marine officials concluded that they did not have enough troops to expand into Marjeh and a handful of other Taliban havens while holding on to the gains they had made in the province.

"Where we have gone, goodness follows," Conway said. "But the fact is that we are not as expansive as we would like to be, and those probable additional number of Marines are going to help us to get there."

The Marines' inability to push the Taliban out of these key sanctuaries led some Afghans in the area to doubt U.S. resolve. The Taliban has used its haven in Marjeh to produce roadside bombs and plan attacks on areas where Marines were trying to build the local government and police forces. This month, Taliban fighters from Marjeh killed three Afghan city council members in nearby Nawa, which Marines have held up as a major success story in the province.

"The two questions I get from Afghans are 'When are you leaving?' and 'Why aren't you going into Marjeh?' because that is where the real enemy is," said Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, senior Marine commander in the province.

Marine commanders have little doubt that the additional 9,000 troops moving into the province will push the Taliban out of its remaining sanctuaries in Helmand. But the gains will be transitory if U.S. forces do not build effective local police forces and foster a government that is relatively free of corruption and can provide for the Afghan people, U.S. officials said. "This will be a credibility test for the [Afghan] government to see if it can deliver," said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a spokesman for McChrystal.

Already there is cause for concern. The Afghan government appears likely to commit only 60 percent of the troops that Marine and local Afghan commanders estimate that they need for the assault, a senior Marine official in Helmand said. That means more Marines will probably have to be posted in the city after the initial attack to ensure that the Taliban does not return.

"To have American Marines standing on a corner in a key village isn't nearly as effective as having an Afghan policeman or Afghan soldier," Conway said.

Karzai intervened to halt an attack into Marjeh by U.S. Special Operations forces and Afghan troops this year after residents in the area complained of excessive civilian casualties, senior military officials said. The coming assault on the city will be a measure of Karzai's willingness to buck allies with ties to the opium industry, these officials said.

The other major area of concern is whether the Afghan government and the U.S. military can meet the aggressive new growth targets laid out for the Afghan army and police force in the Obama administration's war strategy. "We have to increase recruiting. We have to increase retention, and we have to decrease attrition this year," said Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, who leads the U.S. training effort in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital.
Washington Post
The administration's new plans for the Afghan army and police, which will probably be a heavy focus of Tuesday's speech, call for increasing the size of the army to about 134,000 troops by October, four years earlier than the initial goal of 2014. To meet that target, the Afghan Defense Ministry must bring in about 5,000 new recruits a month and dramatically cut attrition in battalions.

This month, the ministry missed its monthly recruiting goal by more than 2,000 troops.

Afghan soldiers and police officers were recently given a 40 percent pay increase, but it is too early to tell whether the extra money will fix the recruiting problem, U.S. officials said.

"The extra pay literally brought us to parity with what the Taliban are offering," a senior military official in Kabul said.