Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pakistani CIA Informant: 'Drone Attacks Are the Right Thing to Do'

An Interview By Hasnain Kazim
A Pakistani who works as an operative for the CIA spoke to SPIEGEL about his motives for helping the Americans, the civilian casualties of drone attacks and his fear of the Taliban.
Intelligence operative Mohammed Hassan (*) cancelled prearranged meetings several times. He called us from a different phone each time, never offering a reason, merely saying: "I unfortunately can't make it." But then he suddenly turned up in a small, inconspicuous hotel in Karachi. A short man with a salt-and-pepper beard, Hassan arrived wearing a white turban and a white shalwar kameez, a knee-length shirt and cotton pants. Hassan works for the CIA.
He provides data and information for the Americans' drone missions in the Pakistani tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan. He lives there and is of Pashtun ethnicity. He says that he has decided to talk because if he didn't, he would drive himself crazy, and because the whole world is critical of the drone attacks -- and in his perception, this makes the world critical of his actions, too. "However, I feel that this weapon is the right tool in the fight against extremists," he says.
He is opposed to talks with the Taliban, which the Pakistani government supports. "What can you talk about with these kinds of people? About their share of power?" According to Hassan, the Taliban want an Islamic state according to their convictions, one with no roads, no schools, no music, no art and no enjoyment of life. "Nothing but pray, pray, pray. It has nothing to do with modern Islam." He fears that chaos will ensue if the Americans end their drone missions in Pakistan, because it will descend into a dog-eat-dog struggle for power.
But he is also plagued by the fear of being discovered and murdered by the Taliban. He's asked us not to print his real name or his real profession, or even identify the part of the tribal regions where he lives. He says that he can only speak openly under these conditions. He has brought along photos of meetings with Taliban commanders, as well as documents that he says serve as proof of his access to important information.
SPIEGEL: You don't exactly look like a US spy.
Hassan: What did you expect? We Pashtuns look like Pashtuns. Just because I have a beard and dress the way we tribal people happen to dress doesn't mean that we're Taliban. There are also reasonable people among us.
SPIEGEL: You pass on information to the American intelligence agency, the CIA, which it uses to kill your countrymen with drones. You call that reasonable?
Hassan: We are at war, and I am part of this war. When does a war make sense? To be honest, I think the US drone missions are the right thing to do. Believe me, no weapon is more effective in fighting extremists. Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of the Taliban for many years, was killed on Nov. 1. Many other more or less high-ranking extremists were killed before that. From a military standpoint, it's a success for the United States. And I contribute to that success.
SPIEGEL: The Pakistani government and the army complain that the US attacks are a violation of Pakistani sovereignty.
Hassan: What sovereignty? The nation of Pakistan has had no control over the tribal regions for decades. The military has a few barracks there. They are well-guarded fortresses, and the soldiers hardly dare to step outside. Pakistani law doesn't apply in the tribal regions, neither the constitution nor any other law. Tribal rules are all that counts. The Taliban claim that they are very effective. But I think they're more primitive than anything else. However, I understand that Pakistani politicians and generals have to make a public show of being opposed to the drone attacks.
SPIEGEL: You are alluding to the idea that the government secretly endorsed the missions, as indicated by the US embassy reports published by WikiLeaks.
Hassan: Pakistan is a conservative society. The majority do not accept the US's drone war. They believe the protestations of the government in Islamabad, that the Americans are violating our sovereignty. For them, it is also unacceptable that Washington is killing Muslims in Pakistan, that is, their sisters and brothers in the faith. That's why those who are in charge in Pakistan have no choice but to publicly distance themselves from the drone attacks.
SPIEGEL: How do you respond to accusations that the attacks are primarily killing civilians?
Hassan: That's nonsense, pure propaganda. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London estimates that a total of 2,534 to 3,657 people have been killed in 379 drone attacks since 2004, including between 416 and 948 civilians. What's this supposed to be, a guessing game? It seems to me that these imprecise figures are made up out of thin air. Most of the estimates are based on Pakistani newspaper articles, which in turn are based on information from people in the tribal regions that cannot be verified. From my own experience on the ground, I can say that yes, there are civilian casualties, and unfortunately they include women and children. But they make up a very small share of the total. I have no concrete figures. Does anyone seriously believe that America would wager a costly, politically sensitive war in Pakistan to kill civilians? Most of the victims are enemies of the United States and enemies of Pakistan.
SPIEGEL: Are you to blame when there are civilian casualties, because you have passed on incorrect information?
Hassan: There is of course the risk that mistakes are made. And it has apparently been the case that people have tried to denounce their enemies -- in the hope that the Americans will kill them with drones. But those are exceptions, which I am only aware of from hearsay. The fact is that when a target is selected and there are people in the immediate vicinity, they die as well. After all, a drone doesn't select a single person from a group. For instance, when a Taliban commander goes to a village, people are curious and come out to greet him. If a drone strikes at that moment, it also hits people who have nothing to do with the Taliban. At least the constant threat of drones has led to the extremists becoming more and more socially isolated. And that's a success.
SPIEGEL: Do you have a guilty conscience?
Hassan: No. What would be the alternative to a drone war? A military operation by the Pakistani army or, God forbid, an invasion by the Americans. Then there would be many, many more deaths.
SPIEGEL: Do you do this work for the money?
Hassan: Of course, to some extent. But I am also deeply convinced that I'm doing the right thing.
SPIEGEL: Exactly how much are you paid? And what kind of information do you provide?
Hassan: An average of $200 (€147) a month. That's a lot of money in my part of the world. It isn't my primary occupation. I provide information about everything I see and believe is worth reporting. Information about foreigners who turn up here, about places where meetings are held, things like that.
SPIEGEL: To whom do you provide the information?
Hassan: To middlemen. Pakistanis. Let me put it this way: The Pakistani side is also involved.
SPIEGEL: Are you afraid of being caught?
Hassan: Yes, I am afraid. The Taliban know that someone has to be passing on information. There is a special unit whose job is to expose spies and punish them. Even someone who is suspected of being an informant has a problem. When a spy is exposed, he is shot to death or blown up. The last few minutes before the execution are filmed. When they pull out the video camera, you know that it's the end. And then these people turn up as corpses along the side of the road, along with the DVD of the execution and a note stating that this is the fate all spies can expect.
SPIEGEL: And why are you telling us about it, if it's that dangerous?
Hassan: Because I feel the need to talk. Sometimes I have the feeling that I'm going crazy. There is more support for the drone attacks in the tribal regions than people out there in the world think. But no one dares to speak up. Everyone is afraid. Anyone who says anything good about the drones is finished. No one knows who is on which side. And human rights organizations have recently been increasingly spreading the notion that the drone war is happening against our will. Perhaps it's true that a majority oppose the drone war. But the mood certainly isn't that clear-cut. We want to live in peace, and that's only possible without these backward extremists.

Four-month old polio victim dies in Pakistan

A four-month old baby suffering from the endemic polio virus has died in Pakistan, doctors and health officials said Wednesday. The death underscores the problems in eradicating polio in Pakistan, one of only three countries in the world where the highly infectious crippling disease remains endemic. The death of Amna, a four-month old infant, took place in the low-income locality of Baldia Town in Karachi, the country’s largest city and commercial hub. Deaths from the disease are rare. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Among those paralysed, five per cent to ten per cent die when their breathing muscles become immobilised. Doctors were unable to verify whether the child died as a result of the disease or due to complications arising from it. However, Elias Durry, the chief of the WHO's Polio Eradication Pakistan Program, says that polio was “most probably the cause of death.” Durry said that it was difficult to verify the cause of death as doctors were unable to test a required second sample from the baby. According to Durry, at least two children in Pakistan have died from the disease since 2011. Dr Khalid Memon, a private practitioner in Mirpurkhas, said the infant was first brought to his clinic where he witnessed the baby was already suffering from paralysis, a common symptom of polio. We ran a test and verified the child was suffering from polio, he said. Memon said the infant was referred to a hospital in Karachi but died before a second test could be carried out. According to Dr Memon, Amna’s mother told him that the family had not allowed their children to be vaccinated by polio workers as they consider the polio vaccinations to be “un-Islamic”. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Pakistan recorded 73 cases of polio this year compared to 58 for all of 2012. This is the highest number of cases as compared to the two other countries with the disease – Nigeria with 50 and Afghanistan with only one in 2013. In Karachi alone, five cases of the disease have been reported so far this year. Speaking to on Wednesday, WHO officials confirmed the fifth case in Karachi — an eight month old male child from the city’s Bin Qasim town area. The officials said all five families had refused to allow their children to be vaccinated by polio workers. The WHO said it has decided to step up its polio immunisation campaign in Mirpurkhas and Baldia Town area of Karachi on an emergency basis to stop the disease from spreading to other children in the area.

Syrians beyond the reach of humanitarian aid

An estimated 250,000 people in besieged communities in Syria remain beyond the reach of aid, the UN, humanitarian chief has said in a closed-door Security Council briefing that one member called "chilling."
Deep divisions in the council have kept it from taking more action on the civil war that activists say has killed more than 120,000 people. Valerie Amos' task has been to tell the world body about the worsening conditions for millions of civilians in Syria, and how difficult it is to reach them. Amos was able to report "modest progress" in such basics as getting 50 more long-demanded visas for aid workers and opening three humanitarian hubs inside Syria, "only two of which are helpful to us." But "we have not seen any progress'' in the major issues of protecting civilians and demilitarising schools and hospitals, Amos said. Last month, she told the council that the number of Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance has risen dramatically to 9.3 million people, up from 6.8 million in June. Against those numbers, she said the Syrian government approved nine aid convoys last month, up from the usual three. "This is still far too few to meet the needs of millions of people," Amos said. For those that do have access to aid, what there is is stretched very thin, highlighted by the fact that international aid workers have been rushing to prepare the Zaatari camp, a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan attempting to avoid repeat of last year when three days of torrential rain turned the camp into a muddy swamp. Warm clothing, blankets and electric heaters are being prepared for distribution to the desert camp's 120,000 residents, mostly women and children.
In January 2013, howling winds tore down some tents and flooding piled more misery on those who fled Syria's civil war.
Hundreds were displaced from their temporary shelters in the Zaatari camp which is 14km south of the Syrian border. Exposed to freezing temperatures, some refugees attacked aid workers at a food distribution centre, injuring a dozen before being dispersed by Jordanian riot police.
Lessons learnt
A drainage system was set up to dump floodwaters outside the camp and efforts are being made to keep the refugees warm and dry, said Kilian Kleinschmidt, who runs Zaatari for the UN refugee agency. In Zaatari many of the plastic tents will be replaced in the coming weeks with prefabricated trailers donated by Gulf Arab states, said Andy Needham, a press officer with the UN refugee agency. He said he has been waiting for a trailer for 14 months. UNICEF, the UN agency helping refugee children, is contributing to the effort in Jordan and other host countries. In Zaatari, UNICEF is providing 35,000 clothing kits which include scarves, hats, sweaters and boots, as well as 24,000 blankets, said communications officer Melanie Sharpe.

Jihadist Groups Gain in Turmoil Across Middle East

Intensifying sectarian and clan violence has presented new opportunities for jihadist groups across the Middle East and raised concerns among American intelligence and counterterrorism officials that militants aligned with Al Qaeda could establish a base in Syria capable of threatening Israel and Europe. The new signs of an energized but fragmented jihadist threat, stretching from Mali and Libya in the west to Yemen in the east, have complicated the narrative of a weakened Al Qaeda that President Obama offered in May in a landmark speech heralding the end of the war on terrorism. The leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, raised warnings in an interview on CNN on Sunday when they said that Americans were “not safer” from terrorist attacks than they were in 2011.
The concerns are based in part on messages relayed this year by Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s overall leader, indicating that he views Syria — where the number of jihadist rebels and foreign fighters is steadily rising — as a promising staging ground.
Some analysts and American officials say the chaos there could force the Obama administration to take a more active role to stave off potential threats among the opposition groups fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. But striking at jihadist groups in Syria would pose formidable political, military and legal obstacles, and could come at the cost of some kind of accommodation — even if only temporary or tactical — with Mr. Assad’s brutal but secular government, analysts say.
“We need to start talking to the Assad regime again” about counterterrorism and other issues of shared concern, said Ryan C. Crocker, a veteran diplomat who has served in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. “It will have to be done very, very quietly. But bad as Assad is, he is not as bad as the jihadis who would take over in his absence.” It is not clear whether or when the White House would be willing to make such an abrupt shift in approach after years of supporting the Syrian opposition and calling for Mr. Assad’s ouster. It would certainly require delicate negotiations with Middle Eastern allies who were early and eager supporters of Syrian rebel groups, notably Saudi Arabia.
One growing source of concern is the number of Muslims from Western countries who have gone to fight in Syria and might eventually return home and pose a terrorist threat. Analysts say at least 1,200 European Muslims have gone to Syria since the start of the war to join the fight, and dozens of Americans.
Across the region, a rising tide of Islamist militancy — fueled partly by sectarian violence and partly by the collapse of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood in the face of opposition from the country’s military — has contributed to a recent wave of attacks, including deadly bombings in Lebanon and the Sinai Peninsula as well as the daily carnage in Syria and Iraq. The violence has underscored the continuing disarray across the Middle East in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. Above all, it is the chaos of Syria, where foreign jihadis appear to be building to a critical mass and have overwhelmed the Western strategy of support for the moderate opposition, that could drive the Obama administration toward greater involvement, analysts say. But it is not at all clear what form that involvement might take. American officials are unlikely to open a new front of drone strikes in Syria. Other options carry large risks. In early October, American commandos carried out raids in Libya and Somalia aimed at capturing terrorist suspects. The Libya raid was successful; the one in Somalia was not. To some extent, infighting among the jihadist groups in Syria has recently mitigated the threat there, but it is not clear how long that will last. Mr. Zawahri sent an envoy, Abu Khalid al-Suri, in an effort to resolve disputes between the two main factions, the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. “To the extent that I am concerned about Al Qaeda the brand, it’s that it is clearly expanding its affiliates, both in number and in some cases in capability,” Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview. “We’ve got to watch and determine which ones are local, which ones are regional, and which ones are global, and each requires a different approach.”
Those agendas can easily overlap and change, and one place where that appears to be happening is Yemen, the home to Al Qaeda’s most organized and threatening affiliate. A series of clashes in the past month between Zaydi Muslim militia fighters and hard-line Sunnis in Yemen’s remote northwest has led to calls for a wider religious war, and there are reports of training camps being established for that purpose, Yemeni officials say. In Yemen, as in Syria, this sectarian dynamic may appear to divert the militants’ attention away from the West. But the accompanying radicalization and militancy creates “the perfect environment for Al Qaeda” in a country where the terrorist group already has a strong foothold, said one Yemeni official.
Even as an American drone campaign continues to kill people suspected as militants in Yemen, the Qaeda affiliate based there gained at least $20 million in ransom payments earlier this year from the governments of Qatar and Oman, which paid to free two groups of European hostages, according to American and Yemeni officials. That is enough to fuel their operations for years, the officials said. A string of recent deadly attacks on Yemeni military targets has also made clear that Al Qaeda “has infiltrated our security services” to a greater extent, the Yemeni official said. In one of those attacks, a band of six jihadists disguised in army uniforms commandeered a military post with dozens of soldiers inside and held it for three days, repelling repeated efforts to free the men. In addition to the rising number and deadliness of attacks, there are signs of possible cross-pollination among some of the jihadist groups around the region. American officials say that the Yemen-based Al Qaeda affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has regular contact with jihadist groups in Lebanon and in the Sinai Peninsula, where there have been near-daily attacks since the Egyptian military ousted the Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July.
Despite extensive Egyptian military efforts to confront them, the Sinai militant groups remain strong and have powerful new weapons — including surface-to-air missiles that could take down airliners — obtained from Libya after its civil war, said Ehud Yaari, an Israel-based security analyst for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The disarray in Libya, where the weak transitional government is largely hostile to the nation’s fractious militias, is also a source of increasing concern. Terrorism analysts say southern Libya has become a safe haven for a range of jihadists. “All of our regional partners are very afraid of the instability they see emanating from southern Libya,” said Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue II, the commander of American Army forces assigned to Africa. Other extremist groups are redoubling their efforts across Africa. Last month the State Department branded Boko Haram, the homegrown Islamist insurgent movement in Nigeria, as a foreign terrorist group. Its attacks have left thousands dead in a decade.
“Whether they are dismayed by the way things played out in Egypt or by the growth of Al Qaeda in Syria, the worm has turned in the Middle East in the minds of American foreign policy makers,” said William McCants, an expert on jihadist movements and a former senior adviser at the State Department. “It seems we are back to counterterrorism as a guiding focus for American policy.”

Video:Minnesota hit with 26 inches of snow

"Delusions" and Disappointment in Pakistan

By Lisa Curtis
While testifying before a House of Representatives Joint Subcommittee hearing last month, I raised the uncomfortable fact that, despite receiving nearly $27 billion in U.S. aid over the last decade, Islamabad continues to pursue a self-defeating and dangerous policy of supporting some terrorists, while fighting others. Moreover, as terrorist bombs continue to explode—taking the lives of both Pakistani civilians and security personnel—Islamabad is growing its nuclear-weapons arsenal at a faster clip than any other nation in the world today.
If you want a better understanding of why U.S. policy has failed so miserably in Pakistan, you should read Husain Haqqani’s latest book, Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding. In this fast-paced and highly readable book, Haqqani illuminates the mistakes of U.S. policy toward Pakistan since the country gained independence from Britain just over sixty-five years ago. Through careful research and drawing from his own experience as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US from 2008 to 2011, Haqqani shows that the U.S.-Pakistan relationship has been, in his own words, “a tale of exaggerated expectations, broken promises, and disastrous misunderstandings.”
Haqqani does not reserve his criticism for U.S. policies. He also explains that Pakistan has its own delusions: “Instead of basing international relations on facts, Pakistanis have become accustomed to seeing the world through the prism of an Islamo-nationalist ideology.” During partition of the Subcontinent, Pakistan was apportioned fewer military and financial resources than India, and saw bloody communal riots break out during the migration of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs from one side to the other. This led Pakistani leaders to develop a siege mentality, believing that Hindu India planned to “force Pakistan to its knees.” To unify the state and justify the establishment of a robust military, Pakistan’s early leaders reinforced the idea of Pakistan serving as a protector of the people’s Islamic identity.
Haqqani provides rich detail on the inner workings of U.S. policy toward Pakistan during a crucial period of U.S history, when the fear of Soviet expansion was at its height in the 1950s. He describes how Pakistan exploited this fear by holding itself up as a Muslim bulwark against communism and as a bridge to the Middle East. But Pakistan never intended to play a strong role against communism, and instead sought to get the US on its side against its larger and threatening neighbor, India. Moreover, in its quest to develop an Islamo-nationalist identity, it cultivated anti-Western Islamists.
While faulting U.S. officials, such as former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, for buying into the “delusions” created by Pakistan’s leaders, Haqqani credits other foreign-policy heavyweights such as George Kennan for seeing through the Pakistani spin and recognizing that Islamabad’s value to Washington was limited by its divergent strategic interests. Kennan encouraged Pakistanis to avoid depending on U.S. assistance, while Dulles contended that Pakistani policies could be influenced by U.S. military aid.
Six decades later, it is apparent that Kennan’s view was closer to the mark. Despite massive amounts of U.S. aid to Pakistan over the last decade, the two countries do not share strategic interests, and Islamabad has not changed its fundamental strategy of supporting militant groups such as the Taliban, the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. Husain Haqqani (no relation to Jalaluddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani terrorist network) exposes another misconception surrounding US-Pakistan relations by revealing that anti-American sentiment is often fueled—not by U.S. actions—but by Pakistani officials seeking more U.S. aid. In essence, the US spends millions on public diplomacy programs to counter anti-Americanism that is often purposely generated by Pakistani officials trying to bolster their arguments for why the US needs to support them in their efforts to control a volatile population.
“Pakistani public opinion was being shaped against the U.S. long before U.S. foreign policy provided Pakistanis a reason for anti-Americanism,” Haqqani notes. He recounts how major demonstrations were organized with government support outside the US consulate in Karachi in 1979, at the same time Pakistani mobs set fire to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, killing two Americans.
According to Haqqani, one of the biggest mistakes U.S. officials make when developing policy toward Pakistan is putting too much stock in the effectiveness of developing personal relationships with their Pakistani counterparts and believing that good rapport with a power player (usually a military leader) will elicit cooperation on issues important to the United States. This was the case with former U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen and his relationship with Pakistani Chief of the Army General Ashfaq Kayani. Mullen met Kayani twenty-six times over the course of four years. But shortly before he retired in September 2011, the admiral unleashed his frustration over Pakistan’s continuing support to the Haqqani network during congressional testimony. Calling the Haqqani network a “veritable arm” of Pakistani intelligence, Mullen surprised observers with his uncharacteristic bluntness. It seemed Mullen had finally shed his delusions. It is rare that a foreign ambassador has such deep insight into the flaws of U.S. policy. But Husain Haqqani—being an accomplished academic teaching at a prestigious U.S. university and having served in high-profile positions in various Pakistani governments over the last 25 years—has a unique vantage point.
Haqqani has described with authority the problems inherent in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship. Let’s hope U.S. policymakers take note and adjust their Pakistan policies accordingly. For starters, the U.S. should strictly condition further military aid to Pakistan on it cracking down on terrorism in all its forms. In the last year, the Obama administration has waived certifications on U.S. military aid to Pakistan on two separate occasions. If the administration continues to rely on its waiver authority, it will further undermine its ability to influence Pakistani terrorism policies.
Secondly, the United States should focus more on developing ties to Pakistan’s civilian leadership and civil society.Thiswill help give voice to those Pakistanis interested in democracy and good governance and better U.S.-Pakistan ties. Lastly, the United States needs to be clear-eyed about Pakistan’s differing goals in Afghanistan. While Washington seeks to limit the influence of Taliban ideology in the region, Islamabad wants the Taliban to gain power in Afghanistan to deny India influence there. The United States must be realistic about this disconnect, and avoid sacrificing good strategy in the false hope that placating Pakistan will make it more cooperative with U.S. interests in the region.
Haqqani has provided a well-documented and interesting account of the policy disconnects between the United States and Pakistan. His book should make a tremendous contribution toward grounding U.S. policy toward Pakistan in more realistic assumptions that will help avoid future crises between the two countries.
Lisa Curtis is Senior Research Fellow in the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation.

Karzai Puts Afghan Mission at Risk by Not Signing BSA: NATO

NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Tuesday that NATO would have to pull all its troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014 if Afghan President Hamid Karzai does not sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the U.S.
"But it is clear that if there is no signature on the legal agreement, there can be no deployment and the planned assistance will be put at risk. It is my firm hope and intention therefore, to continue our efforts to support Afghanistan once these agreements are concluded," Rasmussen said.
Last month, Karzai rejected the Loya Jirga's recommendation to sign the BSA, which would ensure a continued military partnership between the U.S. and Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends in 2014. He said he would not sign the pact before the April elections, and only then, if the U.S. met three preconditions: transparent elections in April, no raids on Afghan homes and a breakthrough in talks with the Taliban.
"NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Tuesday that NATO would have to pull all its troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014 if Afghan President Hamid Karzai does not sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the U.S. "But it is clear that if there is no signature on the legal agreement, there can be no deployment and the planned assistance will be put at risk. It is my firm hope and intention therefore, to continue our efforts to support Afghanistan once these agreements are concluded," Rasmussen said.
Last month, Karzai rejected the Loya Jirga's recommendation to sign the BSA, which would ensure a continued military partnership between the U.S. and Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends in 2014. He said he would not sign the pact before the April elections, and only then, if the U.S. met three preconditions: transparent elections in April, no raids on Afghan homes and a breakthrough in talks with the Taliban. "We have pledged to contribute to financing the Afghan security forces. That assistance is put at risk if we can't deploy our own training mission to Afghanistan and furthermore the international community has pledged to provide development assistance to Afghanistan. That aid might also be put at risk. So a lot is at stake and I'm hopeful that the bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and the United States will be signed and pave the way for a NATO legal framework so that we can deploy a training mission after 2014," Rasmussen added. He voiced hope Karzai would follow the advice of the Loya Jirga and sign the BSA. The NATO-led force currently has around 80,000 troops in Afghanistan, the majority American. NATO is winding down combat operations, handing responsibility to the Afghan security forces, before most foreign combat forces pull out by the end of 2014. NATO plans to leave a training mission, expected to number 8,000 to 12,000 soldiers, in Afghanistan after 2014. The agreement that NATO needs with Afghanistan is modelled on the proposed U.S. pact and, in any case, Washington is expected to supply most of the forces for the post-2014 NATO mission, so without the United States, the mission is unlikely to be feasible.
The NATO Foreign Ministers meet in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss Afghanistan. The delay in signing the U.S.-Afghan security pact is causing mounting frustration among NATO diplomats because it is holding up detailed military planning for the post-2014 mission.We have pledged to contribute to financing the Afghan security forces. That assistance is put at risk if we can't deploy our own training mission to Afghanistan and furthermore the international community has pledged to provide development assistance to Afghanistan. That aid might also be put at risk. So a lot is at stake and I'm hopeful that the bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and the United States will be signed and pave the way for a NATO legal framework so that we can deploy a training mission after 2014," Rasmussen added.
He voiced hope Karzai would follow the advice of the Loya Jirga and sign the BSA.
The NATO-led force currently has around 80,000 troops in Afghanistan, the majority American. NATO is winding down combat operations, handing responsibility to the Afghan security forces, before most foreign combat forces pull out by the end of 2014. NATO plans to leave a training mission, expected to number 8,000 to 12,000 soldiers, in Afghanistan after 2014. The agreement that NATO needs with Afghanistan is modelled on the proposed U.S. pact and, in any case, Washington is expected to supply most of the forces for the post-2014 NATO mission, so without the United States, the mission is unlikely to be feasible. The NATO Foreign Ministers meet in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss Afghanistan. The delay in signing the U.S.-Afghan security pact is causing mounting frustration among NATO diplomats because it is holding up detailed military planning for the post-2014 mission.

Afghan defence minister can sign security pact: Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday said Afghan defense minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi or government could sign the security agreement with the US instead of a reluctant President Hamid Karzai.
Kerry told a press conference in the Belgium capital that the agreement was a serious business, not fooling around, saying it was important for the accord to move forward.
"I think it is important for the agreement to try to move forward. It doesn't have to be pres(ident)," he said, not finishing the word. "You know, his minister of defense (Bismullah Khan Mohammadi) can sign it, the government can sign it, somebody can accept responsibility for this.”
"But I think it is important, for planning purposes, for people who have been extraordinarily patient, who are trying to allocate major amounts of money to sustaining this effort in Afghanistan, to have knowledge of where they are going." Kerry said he had personally negotiated the agreement with Karzai and did not believe in unilateral renegotiation. “We negotiated this agreement. I personally negotiated it with him (President Karzai) and we came to a conclusion, and the President agreed and stood up and said this is what we’re going to do, we’re going to send it to the Loya Jirga, and if they approve, then we’ll send it to parliament and go forward.”
He said he now did not believe in renegotiating unilaterally. “I don’t think President Obama appreciates, the amount of sacrifice that has been made by our troops, by the American people to contribute to the future of Afghanistan, that this somehow is being left in doubt at this critical moment.”
Other NATO leaders also urged Karzai to swiftly sign the security pact, saying failure to do so could jeopardize Afghan security and up to $8 billion a year in foreign aid. US and NATO officials have warned that if Karzai does not sign the security deal with the United States promptly, both Washington and the alliance would have to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and abandon plans to leave behind a training force of around 8,000-12,000 soldiers.
"My concern is that if we are not able to deploy a training mission to Afghanistan, it may have a negative impact on the security situation in Afghanistan and furthermore it may also have a negative impact on the provision of financial aid to Afghanistan," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters. A senior diplomat at NATO said US National Security Adviser Susan Rice had made clear on a recent visit to Kabul that Washington would begin planning a total pullout by the end of 2014 unless Karzai signed by the end of this year. Kerry said, however, that Obama had urged Karzai to sign the pact by "a period of time" but had set no ultimatum.

Punjab University: Consensus against IJT grew from al Qaeda man’s arrest

The Express Tribune
The Punjab University administration, law enforcement agencies and the Punjab government are all on the same page in an operation to clear university hostels of illegal residents, officials told The Express Tribune. Dozens of students were arrested on Monday for various public disorder offences after protesters burned a bus, disabled vehicles on University Road to block traffic and clashed with police who were clearing out Hostel No 16. The atmosphere on campus on Tuesday was calm and academic activities continued as per routine. Though student unions are banned on campuses, the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT), the student wing of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), has long maintained a strong presence at the PU. The government, police and university administration finally decided to act against it when a suspected Al Qaeda handler was arrested from a hostel in September. Last month, Education Minister Rana Mashhood Khan, PU Vice Chancellor Professor Mujahid Kamran, Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Chaudhry Shafiq Gujjar and others met to discuss what to do about the PU hostels. They decided to convert Hostel No 16, an IJT stronghold, into a hostel for girls, for whom accommodation on campus was short. “Some illegal occupants were residing there. The number of female students in PU is almost equal to the number of male students. A strategic decision was taken to shift girls to Hostel No 16, which is considered an IJT stronghold. The IJT went against this decision and took the law into their hands and were arrested for doing so,” a senior official told The Express Tribune. He said that the IJT was sheltering members of banned militant organisations at the hostels. “All such persons have been identified and nominated in FIRs. The Academic Staff Association, Punjab University administration and the government are on the same page on this issue,” the official said. A Punjab University spokesman said that there were a total of 7,500 students living in 28 hostels, of which 3,500 are females. But there were 18 hostels for boys and only 10 for girls, so they decided to convert Hostel No 16. “There was a shortage of rooms at hostels for girls, not boys, and that’s why this decision was taken,” he said. Hostel No 1 is also said to be an IJT stronghold, but officials said that there were no current plans to alter its status. The ASA, which represents faculty members, met on campus on Tuesday and thanked the Punjab government for supporting the administration’s action against the IJT. In a statement, the ASA alleged that IJT members involved in illegal activities had taken refuge at the JI headquarters in Mansoora. “It is shameful that a political party is giving refuge to those supporting militants belonging to banned organisations. Their activities are destroying the education atmosphere of not just PU, but of other prestigious institutes,” the ASA statement read. An IJT spokesman blamed the PU administration and the Punjab government for the situation. “Their aggressive attitude has created a stressful atmosphere on campus. They are trying to convert the university into a police state. The IJT has no connection with any banned organisation and has always struggled for the rights of students,” he said. The spokesman pointed out that an anti-terrorism court had deleted terrorism charges from one FIR registered against some IJT members. Officials of an intelligence agency were led to the Punjab University when a member of a reported Al Qaeda “suicide squad” repeatedly visited a man living in the hostels. That person was said to be the squad’s handler. He was arrested from the hostel in September. An intelligence officer who led the operations in which wanted Al Qaeda figures Ahmad Khalfan Ghalani and Naeem Noor Khan alias Abu Talha were arrested told The Express Tribune that JI had been “directly and indirectly involved” in providing accommodation to Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who is said to be the mastermind of the September 11 attacks in the US, was arrested in March 2004 from the house of a JI women’s wing leader in Rawalpindi, he said. JI Central Information Secretary Muhammad Anwar Niazi said that the allegations were baseless and neither the IJT nor the JI had any links to Al Qaeda. “Anybody is welcome to come to Mansoora and see whether anybody is hiding here,” he added. He said that the PU vice chancellor was spoiling the atmosphere at the PU and making false accusations against the IJT and the JI.

Pakistan: The innocent victims of conflict, violence and acts of terrorism

The life of six-year-old Adnan changed forever after he stepped on a landmine planted on a dirt track leading to his school near his village in Kurram Agency. He lost both his legs in the blast.
Three months before the fatality, which befell him while going to school, Adnan was a normal boy. He was running, playing and studying in the school, but now he is disabled and under-treatment in Peshawar. Like Adnan, more than 50 boys and girls hailing from different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata, who suffered disabilities in similar incidents, assembled at Pakistan Institute of Prosthetics and Orthotic Sciences (PIPOS), Hayatabad, Peshawar, on Tuesday to observe International Day of Persons with Disabilities. All of them narrated their ordeals.
Mohammad Aslam, a resident of Dera Ismail Khan, found a toy outside his home when floods hit the area in August 2010. He brought the toy and gave it to his four-year-old son Tayyeb Hussain. The toy, shaped like cover of the flask, exploded when minors started playing with it. Tayyeb lost his right leg while two other minors were injured critically in the blast. Mr Aslam could not identify this hidden killer, which he spotted in the floodwater. “I thought it was a toy and gave it to my son to play with it,” he said.
Mohammad Farooq, a student of grade-VII, was caught in crossfire between militants and security forces in Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency about two years ago. A shell landed near Farooq and he got injuries. His right leg was amputated at a hospital in Peshawar.
These innocent human beings have become victims of the ongoing conflict, violence and acts of terrorism. Some amputees have got artificial limbs while some are waiting for their turn. Almost all growing disabled persons present in the function were school going. Despite the growing number of patients, the government is yet to compile consolidated data about amputees in the province and tribal areas. The managing director of PIPOS, Aziz Ahmad, said that there were 6,000 registered amputees only in Peshawar.
Both the state and the government seem to be unaware of the agonies of these amputees. The people, who have disabled in the conflict and acts of terrorism, are paid Rs100,000 each by the government under the compensation package.
For the rest of the life they have to pay the price for themselves. There is no economic rehabilitation plan for them. Presently, these disabled persons are at the mercy of PIPOS and humanitarian bodies like International Committee of the Red Cross. Fata is the frontline territory in the war against terrorism and its people have been bearing the brunt, but the region has only one amputation centre so far that is in Bajaur Agency. The affected people have to come to Peshawar and other centres in the settled areas of the province.
Prof Bakhat Sarwar, the chairman of PIPOS, said that 70 per cent patients visiting the institute for getting artificial limbs were victims of the conflict and terrorism and majority of them were children. Those people required treatment at their doorsteps, he said.
“Every amputee has to change artificial limb at least 30 times till he reaches the average age of 70,” he said, adding that the number of amputees was increasing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata and Balochistan because of the conflict and violence.
Prof Sarwar said that the institute had established centres in 15 districts of the province and one in Bajaur Agency. He said that such centres would be opened in the remaining districts and tribal agencies. There should be rehabilitation centres at tehsil level for disabled people, he suggested.
Beatrice Oechsli, the head of sub-delegation ICRC, stressed the need for awareness about problems of persons with disabilities.
She said that one could live with disability one day and society should support disabled persons. She said that ICRC would continue assistance for the rehabilitation of disabled persons.

Pakistan: A despicable joke

What kind of a dirty joke is this? Why have the political establishment and the state election authority teamed up in playing this fun game on the nation so churlishly? When indeed will the electorate know for sure if at all the local government polls are on? Except for Balochistan, this it knows not as yet, although months have passed since the Supreme Court had ordered the holding of these elections that actually should have been held years ago but had been not. Disdainfully, while the governments of Punjab and Sindh are just keeping the electorate utterly confused with their ever-changing stances, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa's has not even still shown its first card, even as the province's ruling hierarchy is being led by a party that at the hustings had promised to be the first in giving the people their elected local bodies.
And no less is the election authority keeping the electorate befuddled with its own shifting positions, assuring one day that elections would go ahead on a given date but taking a reverse plunge the very next day that these would not. Until yesterday, voices from the authority's quarters were coming out that polls in Punjab and Sindh might have to be deferred to March or April. Even strong vibes were emanating from there that the polls in both the provinces might be postponed indefinitely. But now the authority says these would go ahead, as scheduled earlier, in January. What is all this? Why is so much of this dished-up uncertainty about these polls? Why is so much of dithering and foot-dragging on the official planes to carry out this task, which in any case is an obligatory constitutional requirement? Of course, it is not any hard to fathom the undeniably innate antipathy of the entrenched political class to the elected local government system. It does pose a potent threat to its ages-long hegemony on the nation's all politics and its stranglehold on the sinews of power. And that revealingly should explain why no civilian government has ever earned the distinction of holding elections to the local bodies.
Factually, it indeed is the military rulers who have had this distinction, though invariably earning the opprobrium from the political elite and the thinking class that they raise up elected local bodies to essentially lend spurious democratic façade to their dictatorial dispensations for acceptability of their forced rules nationally as well as internationally. Yes, no question about that. But when was it when we have been a democracy truly? Isn't it that after the praetorian adventurists walk out with their pack, walk in the oligarchs of the entrenched political class to foist their own civilian authoritarianism in place of the military dictatorship? Hasn't the so-styled democratic rule in the country always been a rule of the elite, by the elite and for the elite, and not a rule of the people, by the people and for the people, which in reality makes for a democracy? So how could one even imagine if this entrenched class would acquiesce into something that threatens its political domination, whereas a vibrant local government system unarguably makes up a formidable challenge to its hegemony? Just recall the local government system that Pervez Musharraf introduced. That system threw up nazims and other functionaries who caught the public fancy for their tremendous public services. A mayor of Karachi created waves at home and abroad with his monumental accomplishments and won a recognition that would be his own political clan's cherished envy.
The union councils, in the remoter countryside particularly, came up to be acclaimed widely for serving their electorates immensely gratifyingly. No exaggeration indeed, a silent civilian coup was in the making to eventually unseat the deeply-dug political class from its berth of eminence. Definitely, a new crop of leaders with roots in the masses and with hearts beating with the people was coming up. But then the entrenched political nobility hit back, at once vindictively and vengefully. Musharraf's own caboodle of the king's party set out to emasculate the system, a hatchet job that they did with a lot of success. The successors were a lot more destructive. With just one stroke, they flamboyantly threw the entire system into the dustbin, blaring that a dictator's work couldn't hold in a democratic order. And then for five long years they just forgot all about the local government system practically, confining themselves to prattling about it sporadically just perfunctorily and acting about it deceptively. And it is now for the apex court's decree that they are moving about, wobblingly, with no heart whatsoever in the enterprise. And in all probability they would go round the exercise ritualistically, but ensuring with the feats of gerrymandering and devious administrative devices to keep the local governments firmly under the entrenched political gentry's thumb, beyond the outsiders' reach. But the election authority has not necessarily to play ball with this overbearing nobility. Unflinchingly, it must stay firm to its resolve to get over the job of local government elections by February countrywide. And that, incidentally, includes KP's Provincially-Administered Tribal Areas (PATA), but not the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Will then someone in the Islamabad establishment or the election authority tell what cardinal sin have the FATA residents committed that they have still been found unfit for elected local governments and what have they to do to be deemed fit for it?

Another doctor kidnapped from Peshawar

The Frontier Post
The threat to the lives of the doctors in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa continues as on Tuesday another doctor of Lady Reading Hospital was kidnapped by unknown kidnappers from Hayatabad Phase 7. Dr. Amjid Taqweem who was serving in LRH as Hematologist specialist was receiving threats from the kidnappers and extortionists from some time. According to reports the kidnappers in a Toyota white color corolla stopped the car of the senior professor and kidnapped him on the gun point. Earlier two doctors were also kidnapped who were still missing including doctor Mujahid and Kamran who were also kidnapped two months before.

Concesus of Christians in Pakistan: A Fact or Conspiracy?

Fight and struggle to gain the fundamental rights and respect is always been a custom of alive and awakened nations. And such kind of efforts has had been made where strong class dominates the weak class, resulting violation of fundamental rights including many other problems. After bearing the persecution, weak class gathered on a platform to raise their voices, passing through a political or a bloody revolution it reaches to the desired destination. During this struggle strong class uses different tactics to block their ways. Discouragement, Inferiority or mentally paralyzation are the major tools of these tactics which can be used to destroy the efforts and weaken the voice of oppressed class. But Nations with Consistency, High morale, who can make through any circumstances to achieve their goals, who have strong will power and able to cross any kind of obstacles in their ways, success becomes their Fate. In Pakistan, before the election 2013, a report of census regarding minorities has been published in which Christians were shown in less number as compared to other minorities. Every sentient Christian was non-satisfied by this report. But the point is weather its a fact or conspiracy! Consider it as a fact then how come the existence of Christian community, institutes and Churches can be found at every corners of Pakistanwhile other minorites do not exists like this. However their population is quite handsome in Sindh Province but it does not seem like they can be more than Christian community. So if its a conspiracy then what could be the hidden objectives. Followers of Christianity is at the top so as the Christian countries and whenever any incident happens in which Christians are the victims, protests and rallies can be observed all over the world, a recent example of which is the Twin Blasts in Peshawar Church. Mostly Churches and Missionaries are linked with Foreign countries which is the reason that their screams can be heard all over the world. In Pakistan Christians are more aggressive against the violation of their fundamental rights and discriminative laws, resulting Govt. of Pakistan to bear a pressure from the whole world. In Pakistan amenities and privileges are distributed according to the ratio of population. A clear example of which can be seen in the National Assembly. According to the recent census report where Christian community is shown in less ditto through the poor electoral system the distribution of minorities seats were not even fair, which can be an objective of this conspiracy. If we do assessment of all these points then its easy to understand that current census report is more than a conspiracy rather than a fact. Objectives could be to put Christian community in a state of discouragement, Inferiority or mentally paralyzation. Furthermore to show the world that other minorities also live in Pakistan which are more in population and Christian community unnecessarily complaining. So its an effort to damage the struggles of Christian community. As a matter of fact, we need to get together to flip this conspiracy and raise our voices against this injustice in a rich manner. No doubt, its a responsibility of each Christian from all sectors. Merely, if Churches registered their members in a fair way it could help to resolve this issue. Its a humble request to all Political and Religious leaders if you wanted to achieve your fundamental rights then struggle well for the correction of census on priority. Success is guaranteed.
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Washington Halts Military Shipments Through Pakistan
Washington has temporarily halted military supplies moving by ground out of Afghanistan along a key route through Pakistan, according to news agencies, citing safety concerns for its truck drivers.
Activists have been staging protests along key NATO supply routes in Pakistan since November, after a drone strike killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban shortly before peace talks between the militant group and the government began. Some protestors have been detained for allegedly harassing truck drivers, according to reports.
At present, 60% of NATO supplies leaving Afghanistan ahead of next year’s troop withdrawal are moved by ground through Pakistan, according to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Other ways to move shipments out, through Central Asia or by air, are more expensive.
Read more: Washington Halts Military Shipments Through Pakistan |

Pakistan ranks 180 in literacy rate at world level: UNESCO
The 75 percent boys and girls left school before reaching 10th class
According to latest report of UN education department UNESCO, the illiteracy percentage was 79 percent in Pakistan in 2012 and the number of Pakistan was 180 in the list of 221 in big or small countries in the world. The illiteracy percentage was 72 percent in the youth age 15 to 24 years, 57 percent in the aged 25 to 44 youths, 46 percentage in 45 to 54 years and 38 percent in the people aged 55 to 64 years in the year 2012, it said.Pakistan remained below in the illiteracy from China, Iran, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Burma, while it remained above from Afghanistan and Bangladesh. According to the report 3 million 75 lakh students were going to school and colleges in the year 2012 out of them 2.6 million were Primary level students, 2.9 million students of high school education and 1.5 million students were of colleges and universities. According to the report only 3 percent students reach to colleges and above level out of them 1 percent passed graduation. On the other hand the 75 percent boys and girls left school before reaching 10th class while 81 percent students of 3 classes could not read English words.
The report added that 72 and 78 percent students aged from three to five years do not go to schools in Sindh and Balochistan respectively.
During survey, the students of sixth and fifth class were asked to read an essay , but 94 percent and 68 percent students could not read the essay.
Islam religion makes obligatory to all men and women to acquire education. But here fifty one lakh children are deprived of their basic education.