How the US created, and lost, Afghan war

It was a typical Kabul morning. Malik Ashgar Square was already bumper-to-bumper with Corolla taxis, green police jeeps, honking minivans, and angry motorcyclists. There were boys sellingphone cards and men waving wads of cash for exchange, all weaving their way around the vehicles amid exhaust fumes. At the gate of the Lycee Esteqial, one of the country’s most prestigious schools, students were kicking around a soccer ball. At the Ministry of Education, a weathered old Soviet-style building opposite the school, a line of employees spilled out onto the street. I was crossing the square, heading for the ministry, when I saw the suicide … Continue reading How the US created, and lost, Afghan war

Work to Free Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Disorganised!

AP SOURCES By DEB RIECHMANN   This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The nearly five-year effort to free the only American soldier held captive in Afghanistan is scattered among numerous federal agencies with a loosely organized group of people working on it mostly part time, according to two members of Congress and military officials involved in the effort. An ever-shrinking U.S. military presence in Afghanistan has re-focused attention on efforts to bring home Bergdahl, who has been held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)   This image made from video released … Continue reading Work to Free Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Disorganised!

Taliban leader goes missing in UAE

  Mutasim confirmed to be missing in the UAE. PHOTO: FILE ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan on Monday officially confirmed that a senior Taliban leader, Mullah Agha Jan Mutasim, who had started dialogue with Kabul-backed negotiators in Dubai, has been missing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). After a mysterious silence for nearly two weeks, the Afghan Foreign Ministry on Monday confirmed that Mutasim is missing. “The Afghan government confirms that Agha Jan Mutasim has disappeared in the UAE and we are talking to UAE senior officials to determine his fate,” the Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Ahmed Shakaib Mustaghni said in Kabul. “The talks, unfortunately, have … Continue reading Taliban leader goes missing in UAE

Tolerance for Terrorists?

Tolerance is a fine thing. However, there are limits that any sane society must prescribe, and the presence of autonomous, unaccountable entities that in all likelihood present a danger to the lives of citizens and the security of the state cannot be tolerated. Recently reports have emerged that in the event that peace talks fail, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) allies at religious seminaries in and around the capital, Islamabad, are ready to support the terrorists and help attacks on the city. The TTP strategic aim of inculcating fear in people is well served by these reports. However, these fears are not … Continue reading Tolerance for Terrorists?

Mullahs trying to ban laughter?

Militants want ban on laughter, crying, says Chinese governor REUTERS The governor of China’s Xinjiang region. — Photo by Reuters   BEIJING: The governor of China’s restive region of Xinjiang wrote on Monday that Islamist militants were trying to ban laughter at weddings and crying at funerals, as he appealed to people to stamp out the “tumour” of extremism. Xinjiang has been beset by violence for years, blamed by the government on militants and separatists. Exiles and many rights groups say the real cause of the unrest is China’s heavy-handed policies, including curbs on Islam and the culture and language … Continue reading Mullahs trying to ban laughter?

The many shades of McWorld

Some years ago, in response to a rather strong piece on US shenanigans in the Middle East, an American reader wrote back: “Why do you hate America?” As some of my perceptive readers might have already deduced, I get loads of fanmail in response to my weekly rants, especially from my own kind and most of it not most flattering. Yet the accusation ‘why do you hate America’ from an all-American white reader was a little disconcerting. For I do not see myself as an America phobe. The influence of American literature, Hollywood, culture and their collective glorification of ambition, excellence, grit and … Continue reading The many shades of McWorld

When the US leaves Afghanistan – what will happen?

  Operation Enduring Freedom was launched in October, 2001 against Al-Qaeda and Taliban and within two months coalition forces had captured Kabul and Kandahar. The Taliban did not put up the expected resistance, instead fleeing to their villages and towns and a few over to Pakistan.  The US had not visualised the resurgence of the Taliban in the initial operational plan, so did not make any serious effort to secure the eastern and southern Pakhtun provinces of Afghanistan, the strongholds of the Taliban. By mid-2002 the US was confident of having secured Afghanistan and that Al-Qaeda was in Waziristan and Pakistan Army … Continue reading When the US leaves Afghanistan – what will happen?

Al Qaeda militants moving from Pakistan to set up in Syria

      A New York Times report has claimed that Al Qaeda militants and planners travelled from Pakistan to Syria where they are seeking to establish a base in order to carry out strikes against the United States and Europe in the future. Director of US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), John Brennan, recently expressed apprehensions over the issue before a House panel saying “we are concerned about the use of Syrian territory by the Al Qaeda organisation to recruit individuals and develop the capability to be able not just to carry out attacks inside of Syria, but also to use Syria … Continue reading Al Qaeda militants moving from Pakistan to set up in Syria

It’s fun to shoot some people

  On March 6 the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation HQ in Afghanistan announced that “at least five Afghan National Army personnel were accidentally killed this morning during an operation in eastern Afghanistan…An investigation is being conducted at this time to determine the circumstances that led to this unfortunate incident. Our condolences go out to the families of the ANA soldiers who lost their lives and were wounded.” There might be an investigation carried out, but its findings will never be published. There will be no evidence taken from Afghan soldiers. There will be no Afghan representation on the board of … Continue reading It’s fun to shoot some people

Al-Qai’da aid project shows the way in Afghanistan

World View: Corruption has blighted the torrent of dollars poured into the country by America since 2001 An Afghan acquaintance who had worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) told me several years ago how an Afghan subcontractor had made a large profit from a contract to build and get running a tractor repair shop in Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan. Uruzgan, the home province of Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, was then a particularly dangerous place, but the subcontractor cunningly turned this to his advantage. The strong Taliban presence in the area meant that … Continue reading Al-Qai’da aid project shows the way in Afghanistan