Friday, February 26, 2016

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America's utter failure in Afghanistan, in one depressing statistic


A new government report on Afghanistan reconstruction includes a startling fact: The US has spent more money — a lot more money — trying to rebuild Afghanistan than we did rebuilding Europe after World War II.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) submitted a statement to Congress on Wednesday in a hearing to review the fiscal year 2017 budget request and funding justification for the US Department of State. It included this line:
Since FY 2002, Congress has appropriated approximately $113.1 billion to rebuild Afghanistan. That is at least $10 billion more, adjusted for inflation, than the amount the United States committed in civilian assistance to help rebuild Western Europe after World War II.
This obviously depends on how you do the calculation. The method SIGAR says it usedgave them an adjusted total of $103.4 billion in 2014 dollars for the Marshall Plan. When I ran a simple comparison of 1952 spending versus 2016 spending, adjusting for inflation, I found that US spending on the Marshall Plan actually translates into $118 billion in today's dollars, so a bit more than we spent in Afghanistan.
But the point remains that our spending on Afghanistan today is pretty similar to what we spent to rebuild Western Europe after World War II. And despite spending a similar amount of money on a relatively narrower mission in Afghanistan, we have much, much less to show for it. It's staggering.
Between 1948 and 1952, the US gave approximately $13.3 billion to 16 Western European countries to help them recover and rebuild in the aftermath of World War II. And although economists still debate exactly what role the Marshall Plan funds played in Europe's economic recovery, the fact remains that the Western Europe that emerged from the Marshall Plan years was a much more stable, prosperous, peaceful place than it had been beforehand.
The political effects of the Marshall Plan were also profound. As Diane Kunz, a history professor at Yale University, explained in DW, "The Marshall Plan served as the economic and political foundation for the Western alliance that waged the Cold War."
So we spent the equivalent of more than $100 billion, and what we got for our money was a major continent-wide economic recovery and an alliance that defeated the Soviet Union. Not too shabby.
Now let's compare that with what we've gotten for our $113.1 billion investment in rebuilding Afghanistan:
  • The Taliban is resurgent. According to another SIGAR report from last month, "The Taliban now controls more territory than at any time since 2001." Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal, found as of October of 2015 that about one-fifth of Afghanistan was verifiably controlled or contested by the Taliban. In reality, he wrote then, "they probably either control or heavily influence about a half of the country."
  • ISIS has now established a foothold in Afghanistan. Though it is estimated to have only between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters in the country, it is launching attacks — including, most recently, bombing the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad, killing seven people. And it is building what Defense Secretary Ashton Carter called "little nests"in the country's east.
  • The Afghan security forces are a messIn August 2015, Afghanistan expert Gary Owen wrote, "Since the Afghans assumed control of the country’s security in 2014, more civilians have been killed, more soldiers have died, more Afghan troops have deserted than ever before, and security forces are still torturing one-third of their detainees."
  • Afghans are fleeing the country in droves. In just the third quarter of 2015 alone, some 56,700 Afghans filed applications seeking asylum in the EU, according toEurostat data. Afghan refugees are second only to the number of Syrians seeking asylum in the EU from the brutal civil war in Syria.
But while the US and other countries involved in Afghanistan haven't achieved anything quite like a Marshall Plan, there have been some positive developments.
In August 2015, Stephen Watts and Sean Mann of RAND noted that according to the World Bank's World Development Indicators, in Afghanistan "child mortality rates have fallen by over one-quarter, more than half of children attend school (compared to approximately 15 percent — none of them girls — under the Taliban), and income levels are roughly six times what they were before the US intervention."
Those positive developments are a reminder that while Afghanistan today sure doesn't look like Western Europe after the Marshall Plan, it also started at a much lower point.
But it's also a reminder that the country's increasingly unstable security situation and resurgence of the Taliban threaten to undo even those modest achievements.
The bottom line is that, unlike the brilliant success story that was Western Europe after the Marshall Plan, we have very little to show for the billions of dollars we have spent trying to rebuild Afghanistan.
This is a major financial blow for US taxpayers and, more importantly, a tragedy for the millions of Afghans who were promised the world and are still waiting for that promise to be fulfilled.

Peshawar varsity teachers term Imran’s visit ‘political interference’

Members of the faculty at Peshawar University on Friday slammed Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s visit to the campus and termed it ‘open political interference’, according to a press statement.
Peshawar University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) executive body met after the visit of Imran Khan on Thursday. The meeting, chaired by PUTA chairman Prof. Dr. Jameel Ahmed Chitrali, labeled the chanting of political slogans by the students on the arrival of the PTI chief as a ‘conspiracy’ to spoil academic atmosphere of the university.
Voicing concerns over the visit, the teachers termed it a ‘violation’ of the University Act and ‘interference in varsity affairs’.
The PUTA called on the government to take notice of it and to close the doors of interference in varsity’s autonomy in future.
Prof. Chitrali said the PUTA is not intended to adopt ‘protest-for-protest’ attitude in this regard, rather it tried to show both sides of the picture to the people.
“Such activities should be organized at educational institutions after taking all the stake-holders into confidence, not just one man,” he said.

Moreover, the teachers’ body demanded leaders of political parties to refrain from ‘forcefully imposing their ideas or thoughts on students’.

Pakistan - Victim of Dispute; Christian Girl Abducted, Raped, Forced to Convert

On February 17, 2016, Rasheed Pervez, 58 and Iqbal Masih 50 approached Christians’ True Spirit (CTS) organisation and asked for legal assistance for the recovery of Pervez’s daughter, Saima Rasheed who had been abducted by a Muslim neighbour.

Pervez pointed out that he and his Muslim neighbours Mohammad Murad Ali and Feryad Ali had a dispute earlier. After the dispute, the men warned Pervez of dire consequences. They started commenting inappropriately when Pervez’s daughter Saima Rasheed passed the street.

Due to this, Pervez had changed his residence about 25 kilometers at Shadab Colony, Maqbool Chauk Chung – Multan Road Lahore, but the culprits abducted Saima on January 28, 2016.

Case FIR no. 169/16 offence under section 496-A according to Pakistan Penal Code, lodged against Mohammad Nadeem s/o Faryad Ali, Mohammad Murad s/o Faryad Ali etc by Rasheed Pervaiz in the Chung Police Station Lahore but the said police joined hands with the culprits and did not take any legal action against them. The poor Christian father of Saima requested police for the recovery of his daughter but police made false accusations and provided opportunity to the culprits to get pre-arrest bails from the court on February 11, 2016. The bails were granted by the Additional Session Court Lahore for a week and the confirmation of bails fixed for February 18, 2016.

Pervez was told by the culprits’ family that Saima had converted to Islam and had married a Muslim man. The family demanded to see their daughter to get her statement but they were not allowed to meet Saima.

During the bail period the accused managed conversion as well as marriage certificate of Saima Rasheed and submitted with the concerned police officer Khalid Virik Investigation Officer (IO) in the police station.

Subsequently, on Feb 18, Khalid Virik Investigation Officer presented investigation report in the court and submitted conversion and marriage certificates of Saima Bajwa along with the dismissal of the case FIR. He said on behalf of Saima that she does not want to see her Christian parents as she was happy in her Islamic marriage.

“Being the youngest in all children she was favorite child of parents” said Rasheed Pervaiz. He further stated that he is broken hearted and very disappointed. For a month he has been struggling to get his beloved daughter back from the Muslim’s custody but failed.

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