U.S. forces enjoyed turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie as military bases throughout Afghanistan marked the Thanksgiving holiday.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
The Pentagon revealed Wednesday that the US had flown two unarmed B-52 bombers over China's newly established East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Tuesday morning. The Pentagon claimed the flight was part of a long-planned training exercise in the area on the one hand and demonstrated its defiance against Beijing's new air defense rules on the other. China's Ministry of National Defense responded to the so-called mission carried out by Washington by saying that it had monitored the entire process of the US bombers through the zone. The US deliberately ignored the existence of the new ADIZ of China which, however, made a powerful reply that the zone is in operation. According to some reports from international media and reactions from Chinese Web users, the US seems to have gained the upper hand with its action that plunged China into a relatively passive situation. Nonetheless, it should be noted that the ADIZ has indeed given full play to its role of national defense. Tokyo and Washington are unlikely to accept China's ADIZ through which Beijing will master all the US and Japanese military activities over the East China Sea. In actuality China will not inform them of its aircraft passing through their Air Defense Identification Zones. Not identical to airspace, the ADIZ is supposed to devote its role of identification to safeguard national security. The air defense zone, however, has become a trigger of a political row over the East China Sea because it overlaps with the Japanese ADIZ over the Diaoyu Islands. Objectively speaking, China's establishment of the zone is conducive to identifying aircraft and thus avoiding unexpected frictions, but takes on another implication in public opinion. Beijing has made a rather normal response to the flight of the two B-52 bombers by following and supervising them. What's unusual is that the US took a deviant move when disclosing that they had "conducted operations" in the area of the Diaoyu Islands and publicly posed a challenge to China's defense rules. This has nothing to do with military frictions but can only be viewed as a war of public opinion directed against Beijing. China's ADIZ withstood the test but we failed in offering a timely and ideal response as we have been inundated with an inconceivably large amount of information that is adverse to the new zone and will probably even undermine the image of our military forces in this transient Internet age. Therefore Chinese authorities must make speedy reactions to various emergencies and challenges and delegate such power to relevant departments and officials, who should meanwhile assume more responsibility to cope with sensitive issues. Beijing needs to reform its information release mechanism to win the psychological battles waged by Washington and Tokyo. Increasing morale and cohesion of the Chinese people constitutes the fundamental cornerstone to properly handle diplomatic relations.
China's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea is completely justified and legitimate, Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said on Thursday. Yang's comments were in response to a question about Japanese media reports that China had altered the status quo unilaterally by announcing the ADIZ on Saturday. "Japan has always accused or tarnished other countries without reflecting on their own deeds," Yang said at a regular news briefing. Japan announced in September 2012 that it would "purchase" the Diaoyu Islands despite strong opposition from China. It has frequently sent vessels and planes to detect Chinese ships and planes in regular navigation or training, which has severely hampered the freedom of navigation and overflight, Yang said. Japanese Coastguard warships intruded into the drill area of the Chinese navy on the high seas and interfered in their normal military exercise, Yang said. Japan also boosted its military capacity under various disguises, attempting to change the post World War II international order. Japanese authorities play up the so-called China threat through the media and openly create confrontations, Yang said. "Who is changing the status quo, accelerating regional tension, confrontation and jeopardizing regional security? I think the international community will make a fair judgement," the spokesman said. Japan established its own ADIZ in 1969, therefore it has no right at all to make irresponsible remarks on China's ADIZ over the East China Sea, said Yang. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that Japan was seriously concerned over the "unilateral" setup of the ADIZ and urged China to "retract the decision." "Should the decision be retracted, we ask the Japanese side to revoke its ADIZ first, we will then consider their demand 44 years later," Yang said.
The strained relationship between the US and Afghan governments has descended into sheer brinksmanship over the bilateral security agreement. And it would be in no one's interest if the deal collapsed.
Lt General Haroon Aslam has taken early retirement and tendered his resignation on Thursday. His resignation letter has been sent to the Defence Ministry from GHQ. Haroon Aslam had been serving as the Chief of Logistics Staff at the Army GHQ and was the senior most-officer after General Kayani. His resignation came a day after General Raheel Sharif was appointed Army Chief and General Rashad Mahmood CJCSC. Lt Gen Haroon Aslam registered his silent protest by not attending the prime minister’s dinner on Wednesday night. Sources claim that the corridors of power were already abuzz with the information that General Haroon had played a key role as Director of Military Operations on October 12, 1999 along with the-then DGMO Major General Shahid Aziz to oust Nawaz Sharif from power. Then, Brigadier Haroon led the team to arrest all the cabinet members, including the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “Yes, Haroon was one of the two directors at the MO Directorate, under my command, who did whatever I ordered him to do on October 12, 1999,” Lt Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz told on July 7, 2013. Aziz was then a major general and DGMO who has openly confessed to his role in the last military coup in his recently-published autobiography ‘Yah Khamoshi Kahan Tak’. However, Shahid had added in the same breath that all the senior generals, including Haroon Aslam, were fit for the slot of the chief of army staff. On the other hand, Lt Gen Haroon had his side of the story that he used to tell his confidants. “What he did was not on his own. He was following the orders of his chain of command.” Another possible reason Lt Gen Haroon Aslam could not win any slot, according to the sources, is that he was a Special Services Group commando and Nawaz Sharif does not like commandos, particularly after his experience with Gen Pervez Musharraf. The sources in Islamabad also claim that somebody had already whispered to Nawaz Sharif regarding the background of Lt Gen Haroon Aslam. Yet another reason of Gen Aslam losing the top slot is the opinion of outgoing army chief Gen Kayani who was against the appointment of Haroon on any slot. The sources also claim that the newly-appointed Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mahmood was a full colonel working with the Chief of Staff to the Corps HQ on Oct 12, 1999 in Rawalpindi. However, he did not land in any controversy. Gen Aslam, as a token of silent protest, did not appear in the dinner hosted in the Prime Minister’s House on late Wednesday night. The sources had already predicted that he would tender his formal resignation today to the Defence Ministry and move to Lahore for finalising his future plans, thus, did not attend the change of command ceremony as well.
President Hamid Karzai's stubborn refusal to sign a pact that would keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 is a high-risk gamble that Washington will give in to his demands, one that has left him isolated as the clock runs down on his presidency. Diplomats said he may have over-played his hand, raising the risk of a complete U.S. withdrawal from the insurgency-plagued country where Western troops have fought Taliban militants for the past 12 years. It also risks a backlash at home by critics who believe he is playing a dangerous game with the country's future security. If the bilateral pact is not signed, Western aid running to billions of dollars will be in serious jeopardy, and confidence in the already fragile economy could collapse amid fears that the country will slip back into ethnic fighting or civil war. There was much dismay in Kabul this week after Karzai over-rode the near-unanimous decision of an assembly of nearly 3,000 Afghan tribal elders to back the agreement and introduced new conditions. "What was the point of calling the Jirga (assembly) if Karzai wants to continue haggling with the United States?" said Haji Mursaleen, a prominent elder who travelled all the way from the eastern province of Kunar to attend the assembly. Even Qayum Karzai, who is running in next April's election to succeed his younger brother - while being careful not to criticise the president - told Reuters this week that it was in Afghanistan's "vital interest" to get the pact signed. Hamid Karzai has repeatedly crossed swords with Washington since he became president in 2001, and - anxious about his legacy - he may want to show he is no push-over for the Americans before the elections bring his second and final term to an end. Underlining Karzai's distrust of Washington, Aimal Faizi, his urbane spokesman, told Reuters in Kabul's fortress-like presidential palace: "He has a very suspicious mind because of all the wrongdoings of the U.S. and NATO of the past." Diplomats and politicians say Karzai is likely to hold out as long as he can because, once the deal is signed, he will lose bargaining power and limp to the end of his term a lame duck. "He is a very cunning person and he is in love with his power, more than (Muammar) Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein," said one senior Afghan politician, referring to the defeated leaders of Libya and Iraq. "He has been going against the will of the people all this time ... He does not want to give away his power." VAGARY OR A GAMBIT? Karzai's surprise change of mind at the eleventh hour has triggered a storm of speculation in Kabul over whether it was a reflection of his often erratic and unpredictable character, or part of a longer-term strategy to retain power beyond next year. Karzai, constitutionally ineligible to run again for the presidency, said this week he would not sign the pact until after the election, a move some believe could be the opening gambit of a plan to declare the poll a failure and stay on as president. "He clearly wants to retain control and stay in power, this is obvious. I would not rule out if he cancels or postpones the election for security reasons," said one foreign diplomat in Kabul. "After all, many parts of the country are under Taliban control and elections there are not possible, so he could easily claim that any such election would be invalid." Karzai appears to be betting that Washington will baulk at the so-called "zero option" - a complete withdrawal similar to the pull-out of U.S. troops from post-war Iraq two years ago. Such a withdrawal would leave Afghanistan's embryonic security forces to deal with the persistent Taliban insurgency on their own from 2015. Karzai's team says it is confident U.S. troops would stay. "According to our calculation there will be no zero option. The U.S. is not here to leave the country and withdraw all the troops," said Faizi, Karzai's spokesman. "The president is willing to sign this agreement now that this has been approved by the people of Afghanistan ... There is no doubt it will be signed. But the president has some pre-conditions." Karzai now wants the United States to guarantee that U.S. forces would not raid Afghan homes under any circumstances, that Washington would help kick-start stalled peace talks with the Taliban, and release Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. He also believes Washington is not putting enough pressure on neighbouring Pakistan to stop militants using its territory as a safe haven from which to wage the insurgency in Afghanistan, and may be using the pact as leverage to make the Americans try harder. LONE BATTLE But he appears increasingly to be fighting a lone battle even at home, including among those who have long stood by him. "He is alone and isolated on this. He doesn't seem to have much support," said one Western diplomat in Kabul. "Who is left with him on this? The only people who oppose (the pact) are Karzai and the Taliban." As talks between U.S. and Afghan officials drag on, the United States appears to be losing patience, saying it may pull out all troops altogether if Karzai holds up the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) any longer. Karzai's assumption that Washington sees Afghanistan as too important a strategic interest to drop may be misplaced. Indeed, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who was in Kabul this week for a round of tense talks with Karzai, said if there was no deal soon, Washington would "have no choice". "I must say that I was sad and disappointed that by the end of our meeting it was clear he (Karzai) is not yet prepared to sign that agreement promptly," she told Afghanistan Tolo TV. Many Afghans agree, saying Karzai is attempting to appear anti-American in the eyes of the Taliban at a time when he is trying to engage the insurgents in peace talks. "It is not in the interest of Afghanistan to delay signing the BSA," said Hanayat Hafiz, a Jirga member from Wardak province. "Karzai's move is aimed at appeasing the insurgents."
The families of suspected Baloch separatists, dubbed "missing persons," claim their loved ones are being abducted by Pakistani security agencies without charges. These family members, as well as human-rights watchdogs, claim that the suspected Baloch separatists are frequently killed and their bodies dumped. Others remain missing years after having been picked up. A new short film, "The Line of Freedom," hopes to shed light on this largely forgotten crisis. It depicts the story of a Baloch activist who was abducted and tortured and then dumped after being shot. The movie is based on the "true" story of a young Baloch activist, Nasir Baloch. Activists in the region claim Baloch was abducted twice in 2011. He reportedly survived the first abduction after he was shot and left for dead. He was later killed after being kidnapped for a second time while on his way to the doctor to treat his wounds. The thriller was produced by Baloch political activist Noordin Mengal, his brother Bhawal Mengal, and British filmmaker David Whitney. Mengal says his aim was to spread awareness about the problems in the province. The issue is also kept alive by family members of some of the victims of the disappearances in Balochistan. They are now holding a 700-kilometer-long march from Balochistan's provincial capital, Quetta, to Pakistan's largest city, Karachi. The protest, which began in late October, is being led by Mama Qadeer Baloch, whose son, Jalil Reiki, was abducted in 2009. His bullet-riddled body was found dumped in a remote corner of Balochistan in 2011. Global human-rights watchdogs have criticized Islamabad for its "kill and dump" operations in Balochistan. A February 2012 briefing by Amnesty International noted that at least 249 Baloch activists, teachers, journalists, and lawyers disappeared or were abducted from October 2010 to September 2011. The briefing called on Islamabad to "immediately put an end to the practice of enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, torture, and extra-judicial and other unlawful killings carried out with total impunity by state forces in Balochistan." In a July 2011 report titled "We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years," Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented the "detailed descriptions of 45 cases of alleged enforced disappearances reported in Balochistan in 2009 and 2010." It called on Islamabad to "investigate all allegations of enforced disappearances until the fate of each victim is clearly and publicly established." For years, the Pakistani Supreme Court has heard cases about the abductions but failed to push the authorities to either release the victims or hold transparent investigations into the issue. Elected civilian leaders in Balochistan have publicly admitted their failure in resolving the problem. Military officials, however, have largely been ambiguous about the practice. Authorities in Balochistan now confirm some 2,500 people in the province remain "missing" since their arrest. Balochistan authorities say more than 590 mutilated bodies have been found in the province since 2010. Baloch activists allege that more than 10,000 people, most of them sympathetic to separatists, have disappeared under unclear circumstances.
False propaganda and lies being spread by the Deobandi fanatics and outlawed terrorist outfits about Pindi incident exposed on Wednesday when Rawalpindi Police Chief said that not a single student of Madressa Taleem ul Quran was killed on the day of Ashura. Talking to reporters, DIG Akhtar Umer Hayat Laleka, CPO Rawalpindi, said that in all 11 people were killed but they included no student of the said religious seminary. It is relevant to add here that pro-terrorists and pro-rioters Deobandis had been claiming that 90 persons including women and children were killed that proved bundle of lies because no women or child were among the deceased.
Even when the PTI is right about something, it manages to end up being wrong. The drone strike in Hangu was an outrage, as were all the other attacks before that. The legality of the strikes is questionable at best. But even an entity like a political party that has little to gain from nuance should be able to hold more than one thought at a time. Yes, drone strikes should be condemned but the condemnation should be proportional to that dished out to other actors who are massacring us. The party may also warn about causality. To claim that an end to drone strikes will cause an end to terrorism is ludicrous. A far more credible argument would have been that the fear and loss of life caused by drones adds to terrorism by minting fresh militants who may not have otherwise signed up for the cause. But ‘drones are pretty bad but everyone else is even worse’ is not the sort of rhetoric that brings out the repressed inner cop in thousands of overexcited supporters. The tempting analysis is that the PTI has failed to mature from a party that existed only to generate fervour among the apolitical and condemn everything the PPP and PML-N stood for. That they haven’t yet learned that governing requires patience and compromise and lots of hard work. Such an interpretation wouldn’t be quite true. The party’s chief minister is a practiced politician – imbued with all the good and bad that entails – and the first budget it presented in the provincial assembly was impressive in its attention to detail. The Right to Information Law the party has championed is much better than the one that exists at the federal level. Still, the PTI continues to succumb to its desire to suck up all the media oxygen on issues that could do with a lot less sensationalism. This is why Imran Khan asks for drones to be shot down, even though he must know that it will trigger an unwinnable war with the US. This is why he doesn’t stop his activists from taking over the streets. This is why his first inclination is to indulge in theatrics every time he disagrees with the ruling party. There is a danger that the PTI will end up becoming like its ally, the Jamaat-e-Islami – a party for which street power is more crucial to maintaining its influence than representation in parliament. Instead of becoming a truly national party that can break the PPP-PML-N rut, the PTI may just end up becoming an irritant, there only to agitate against the ruling parties rather than govern itself. Our democratic project would be the biggest loser should this happen.
Editorial:Politics of sit-insPrima-facie, the PTI-sponsored sit-ins to block the Nato supply route through KPK over the last couple of days have not achieved what these were supposed to. It is not that sit-ins were defied and the Nato container-trucks crashed through them; a few truckers did turn up but were forced to return by angry protestors. The fact, however, remains that neither the Nato countries nor the government of Pakistan made any noticeable move as a response to sit-ins. Will they do it in near future? That is anybody's guess. But what the sit-ins did bring into play was gross disarray and disorder that prevailed as the protestors tried to interdict by force the traffic along the route which is also used by the local and Afghan transit trade transporters. There were quite a few scuffles when drivers refused to produce relevant documents to protestors, insisting that they were not bound to be checked or examined by anyone other than authorised officials. How come a party in power in a province creates a situation which results in flagrant violation of laws it is supposed to implement. This is certainly a display of street power; an art successfully honed by the Jamaat-i-Islami, PTI's coalition partner, and should have been discouraged by the country's second most popular political party. That the local police have now registered cases against those who took law into their own hands is as melodramatic as the sit-ins. How can you be both a custodian and a breaker of the law of the land? Blocking the Nato supply route by force is not the issue; the issue is: Should this route be blocked? Should the government decide to do so, it would be possible even without a one-man sit-in. In late 2011, the government blocked the supply route in protest against the killing of 25 soldiers in a cross-border incident and kept it in force for more than a year - till the offenders apologised. There is just no parallelism between the two blockades as some PTI leaders would like us to treat. At that time, it was the government's well thought-out move. Blocking Nato supply route should be acknowledged as a government prerogative; the PTI and its allies in power are expected to expend their energies towards the betterment of the people of the province under their control. Have they done it? Of course, the Nato can sleep over this 'irritation' and wait the sit-ins out, but not the others who too are being scared away from using the said route. Not only has the Afghan government protested the disruption of its transit traffic through the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, hundreds of local truckers also have gone off the route fearing violence by protestors. The leaders of the PTI and its coalition partners were offered tea by the US consulate official when they turned up to hand their protest memorandum - indeed a measure of the opacity Pakistan is confronted with on the issue of drone strikes. That the Hangu police can investigate the CIA or the US ambassador in Pakistan in connection with the drone strike that killed seven persons is a misperception that requires the PTI leader, who filed the FIR, to rethink his take. Is it that the PTI leadership honestly believes that the drones will stop coming because of these sit-ins or the FIR filed by it with the Hangu police station. Who is this party trying to befool? The crisis Pakistan is presently confronted with is too grave and lethal to be tackled on the streets. Yes we are a sovereign state, like 190-plus others, but in this interdependent world absolute sovereignty is a myth. The bitter truth is that Pakistan not only invited drone strikes, but even joined them for reasons thought cogent and in national interest as defined by the government of the day. And, this is also a hard fact that the government of today is not prepared to take the risk by shooting down drones or blocking the Nato supply route. The PTI leadership would do well by putting across its position on drones to the federal government with strong enough argument with a view to winning over its acquiescence. And even before that it should seek to win over the confidence and support of its political opposition in the province. Sit-ins do work, but when at stake is the question that is as fundamental as Pakistan's multifaceted bilateralism with the Unit ed States and the Nato countries then that cannot be decided on the highway.
The Express Tribune
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) campaign to block Nato supplies is nothing but an act to deceive the public as the supplies are openly transported at night instead, said Awami National Party’s (ANP) Mian Iftikhar Hussain in Chota Lahor, Swabi during a ceremony on Tuesday. Chief Minister Pervez Khattak can just block the routes used to transport Nato supplies through the province by issuing an executive order, argued Mian Iftikhar. He claimed a few PTI workers standing at different parts of the route cannot stop the supply till the chief minister issues said order. While talking about the party’s membership drive and elections, he said anyone who wanted to have a designation in the party should submit an application and contest in party elections. Hussain was speaking at the event with the ANP’s Basheer Matta, Sardar Hussain Babak, Shagufta Malik and Arbab Tahir.
THE commotion in the Supreme Court on Tuesday proves that despite the passage of 16 years, little has changed in Pakistan. The only difference is that in 1997, it was PML-N supporters that had stormed the Sajjad Ali Shah-led court, while in the latest incident it was protesting lawyers from different parts of Punjab who attacked the nation’s highest seat of justice. The irony is quite evident: earlier it was political hotheads who had led the charge, angered by contempt charges against Nawaz Sharif, who was prime minister at the time. On Tuesday, it was members of the legal profession, who not too long ago had struggled for the ‘supremacy’ of the law and restoration of sacked Supreme Court judges, that were rampaging through the apex court. The incident is one of many in recent memory that clearly indicates the transformation of lawyers as a group from activists to vigilantes. The lawyers in Islamabad were ostensibly protesting against the non-establishment of high court benches in various Punjab cities. However, as past incidents have also proved, the black coats often resort to violence if things do not go their way. Lawyers accuse the police of resorting to brutality to break up the protest. While the unnecessary use of force by police cannot be condoned, the lawyers did not help the situation by delivering fiery speeches outside the court. The lofty reputation the lawyers had earned through their movement for the restoration of the chief justice has all but disappeared, thanks to the thuggish behaviour of some amongst them. Members of the legal fraternity have clashed with the police, journalists as well as other lawyers while judges have been intimidated in the days since 2007. But what is most troubling is the relative silence of bar associations and senior lawyers regarding the violent tactics of their fraternity. Either bar councils have kept quiet or slapped violent elements on the wrist for aggressive behaviour. Unless this attitude changes, it is unlikely such ugly incidents will end.
The mother of Chief of Army Staff-designate, Lieutenant General Raheel Sharif Wednesday said she wanted terrorism to be eliminated from the country, Geo News reported. In an exclusive interview to Geo News sometime back, the new COAS’s mother said that those who look after their parents and work hard do achieve success in their lives. She was of the opinion that the civil government should always consult their soldier brothers for ‘purging our beloved country of the scourge of terrorism’. “The youth should put in sincere and dedicated efforts to deal with the challenges faced by Pakistan,” said the daughter of a soldier, widow of a martyred husband and mother of a martyred son. About her five children she said, all of them love one another.
Patron-in-Chief of Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has felicitated Justice Tasadduq Hussain Jillani for being appointed as the new Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) today. He said nation hopes that rule of law will be restored and Pakistan will finally see a truly independent, unbiased and progressive judiciary with CJP Jillani in office.
http://mediacellppp.wordpress.com/ Patron-in-Chief of Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has felicitated Lieutenant General Raheel Sharif and Lieutenant General Rashid Mehmood on their promotions and being appointed as the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee (CJCSC) today. In a press statement, he hoped that with the new military leadership in command Pakistan will be able to defeat its most dangerous enemy TTP and other terrorist organizations bent upon destroying our nation. He also said that nation bids farewell to General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani who served his country with honour and dignity, and obeyed the constitution besides commanding a successful operation against terrorists in Swat, Malakand and other tribal areas.