Down and out in Waziristan


by Sid (Faisal)
24th November, 2008 at 4:00 pm    

A US missile attack on a house in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan has reportedly killed Rashid Rauf, a top “al-Qaeda” suspect. The airstrike was by an unmanned Predator, armed with Hellfire missiles and precision-guided bombs. This is the first time the US have targeted a British suspect in the North Waziristan region of the US.

This makes it missile attack number 24 on the “lawless” northwestern Pakistan region since August.

Says the Times:

US forces based in Afghanistan have carried out about 24 missile attacks in northwestern Pakistan since August, reflecting American impatience at Islamabad’s efforts to curb militants on its own soil.

British intelligence sources say the reluctance on the part of the Pakistani authorities to clamp down on Kashmiri militant organisations is still enabling al-Qaeda to recruit young British Muslims for attacks on the UK.

Rashid Rauf was the son of a baker from Birmingham. He was arrested in August 2006 in Bhawalpur in connection with the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot. He was said to be one of the ringleaders of the plot. In December 2006, the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi found no evidence that he had been involved in terrorist activities, and his charges were downgraded to forgery and possession of explosives.

Is this the unlawful killing of a British subject by US spooks who care little about “due-diligence” or even the sharing of classified procedures with their British counterparts? Or is this is a clinically precise, and therefore the only, way to kill terrorists in a country which has proven unable and unwilling to deal with known operatives in centres of Islamist activity flourishing under their own noses?


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  1. Ravi Naik — on 24th November, 2008 at 4:14 pm  

    This makes it missile attack number 24 on the lawless northwestern Pakistan region since August….

    “Is this the unlawful killing of a British subject by US spooks who care little about “due-diligence” or even the sharing of classified procedures with their British counterparts?

    This reminds me of that question: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”.

  2. Sid — on 24th November, 2008 at 4:19 pm  

    So you’re suggesting it is unlawful? That may be your view.

    The first “lawless” is a quote taken almost directly from the Times regarding the state of Waziristan, which is itself referenced in the article.

    The second “unlawful” is part of the question – is this an unlawful murder or is this tactically justified?

  3. Random Guy — on 24th November, 2008 at 4:23 pm  

    Depends on which side you are on, of course.

    A double-ended question like that can always be justified either way by someone. I am not sure what the point in raising it is.

    Are you looking for a definite answer?

  4. Sid — on 24th November, 2008 at 4:27 pm  

    Are you looking for a definite answer?

    No, but I have my opinion.

  5. Random Guy — on 24th November, 2008 at 4:31 pm  

    Which is?

  6. Sid — on 24th November, 2008 at 5:52 pm  

    Actually I have 3 opinions and no definite answers, based on the second of the two postulations:

    # That the government of Pakistan is not serious about combatting Islamist ideologues in regions, such as Waziristan, which it has signed off to warlords in exchange for keeping out of Islamabad.

    # That it is not serious about monitoring the small number of British-born Islamists who have affiliations with Kashmiri separatist groups who are entering the country from the UK.

    # And that, with all due respect to the bereaved family of this young man, this is a better way of taking out dangerous terrorists than waging war on an entire nation and killing innocent civilians by the thousands and on that, I hope Obama takes note.

  7. platinum786 — on 24th November, 2008 at 6:26 pm  

    Sid, what do you base your opinions on? It doesn’t appear to be facts. Perhaps you’ve not been reading the excellent peices Jason Burke has been doing on Pakistan in the Guardian.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/jasonburke+world/pakistan

    Pakistan has nearly 100,000 soldiers committed to that area. That the size of the entire British Army. At this point you’ll surely be jumping out of your seat to argue that Pakistan has another 400,000 soldiers, but they are needed to counter the Indian threat.

    Let me present to you the latest violation of India of Pakistani soverignty. The Indus Water Commissioner, Jamaat Ali Shah, said on Sunday that India would turn Pakistan into a barren country by 2014 by blocking its waters.

    http://thenews.jang.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=18560

  8. Ravi Naik — on 24th November, 2008 at 6:57 pm  

    Actually I have 3 opinions and no definite answers, based on the second of the two postulations

    I would agree with you on all 3 counts.

  9. soru — on 24th November, 2008 at 7:20 pm  

    This all does seem to be a sadly inevitable result of the general abandonment of the legal and moral concept ‘Prisoner of War’. If you can’t legally take prisoners, then you are going to end up killing them instead.

    In reality, there is self-evidently a war going on in Afghanistan and Waziristan, so the normal thing you would expect for an enemy soldier is that they be captured and stuck in a camp indefinitely, to be released as part of a peace settlement, not on completion of a fixed sentence. Except in the special case of war crimes, there would be no question of individual innocence or guilt, or even the wider rights and wrongs of the war. The only question in whether or not they were fighting in it.

    The problem is partly that the legal definition of war that would allow the legal taking of PoWs, has, especially in the US, drifted a long way from the common sense definition: ‘are there heavy-calibre weapons being fired’? Legally, not even Vietnam, or the response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, was a war.

    But mainly it’s Bush’s fault: he regarded the above as not a problem, but an excuse. The goal was not to find an acceptable solution, but to find something sufficiently outrageously unacceptable to his political opposition that they would actually oppose it. Anything that didn’t result in a sound-bite about liberals being soft on terror wasn’t on the table.

  10. Random Guy — on 24th November, 2008 at 7:45 pm  

    Actually I have 3 opinions and no definite answers…

    I see. Some points:

    #1: So let me get this straight – there was no evidence found to connect him? So he was an ‘alleged’ terrorist?

    #2: Can we count the number of innocent civilians who have been killed by similar strikes in Afghanistan (and indeed, all over the world)? Does it remain an acceptable solution then?

    #3: To be honest, it all seems a bit troubling, a little sickening, and not the least bit surprising. Kind of like watching David Milliband moralising to the Middle-East following the UK involvement in Iraq.

    The precedent that it sets will lead nowhere good. In terms of being an alternative to invading the country and killing millions of innocents, that is a naive concept (They will do that again when they need more oil or something else of value).

    There has not even been independent confirmation as far as I know, of Rauf being killed. And to add more credence to my view:

    http://www.dawn.com/2008/11/23/top4.htm

    “The Taliban claimed that all those killed in the Alikhel village of Mirali sub-district were local tribesmen and vowed to avenge the deaths by striking the settled areas.”

  11. Leon — on 24th November, 2008 at 10:39 pm  

    Great world we’ve created when the choice is full scale conquest or execution with little or no regard to the law…

  12. billy — on 24th November, 2008 at 10:53 pm  

    What Sid # 6 said.

    Birmingham seems to be a centre of some significant extremist and Jihadi activity. From the chap who was plotting to decapitate a Muslim army officer on camera to Mr Rauf.

    A recent newspaper article on the subject from the Birmingham Post, including commentary on the Preventing Violent Extremism funding set up to form projects to persuade some Muslims not to kill innocent people:

    Birmingham Muslims tell of feeling constantly watched

    The report says:

    Central government and local authorities must understand the extent of the deep anger and concern among Muslims at grassroots level over the linkage of violent extremism with Islam.

    Strangely enough, I get the impression that the anger they detected was directed at everyone else in British society, except for the actual individuals who plot and perpetrate the extremist activity. And therein lies a large part of the problem, I think.

  13. Refresh — on 24th November, 2008 at 11:22 pm  

    ‘Great world we’ve created when the choice is full scale conquest or execution with little or no regard to the law…’

    I hope someone will in the near future setup an equivalent of the Simon Wiesenthall centre and chase each and every person responsible for death of innocents, even if they were just following orders behind a joystick in the Nevada desert.

  14. Leon — on 24th November, 2008 at 11:36 pm  

    Yeah I have a few pipe dreams like that. Try not to think about them too much however as they leave me feeling quite disheartened. Much like this thread.

  15. Sid — on 24th November, 2008 at 11:42 pm  

    The choice is basically quite stark.

    You can either have 4 dead terrorists in one attack like this one, and more like it, or you can have 657 terrorist attacks, committed in Pakistan in 2006 alone.

    According to the research study, 657 terrorist attacks, including 41 of a sectarian nature, took place in the outgoing year, leaving 907 people dead and 1,543 others injured.

    The attacks are said to have caused a loss of billions of rupees.

    The research study puts the number of people arrested by law-enforcement agencies at 1,552, including 1,094 Taliban and Afghans, 47 Al Qaeda operatives, 198 other militants and 213 nationalist insurgents.

    Giving a province-wise break-up, it says that the Balochistan Liberation Army, the Balochistan Liberation Front and the Bugti Militia were blamed by the government for carrying out 403 terror attacks in Balochistan during 2006 that killed 277 people and injured 676 others.

    Or you can have one Iraq war.

  16. Sajn — on 24th November, 2008 at 11:49 pm  

    24 airstrikes that have resulted in the death of how many terrorists? And how many innocent civilians who had absolutely nothing to do with 11/9 or 7/7?

    Rauf was accused of being the mastermind behind a plot that I believe the courts said wasn’t proven? So other what was he actually guilty of?

    Where does this leave American (or British) justice? Can they in future decide to drop a bomb on Birmingham or Berlin because they think that is the best way to deal with the problem?

    The issue of lawlessness in Waziristan is not about giving free rein to a few “warlords” but a constitutional issue. The tribal areas need to be assimilated into Pakistan formally so that the same law applies to them as it does to the rest of the country.

  17. Sajn — on 24th November, 2008 at 11:50 pm  

    How do you know that the four dead people were terrorists?

  18. Sid — on 24th November, 2008 at 11:55 pm  

    I don’t, they were terrorist suspects. I’m not debating the details here, but the tactical response to terrorism.

    How do terrorists know that when they detonate a bomb that kills hundreds of people in a cinema, they are killing anti-Islamic kaafirs and secular muslims?

  19. Random Guy — on 24th November, 2008 at 11:56 pm  

    Sid @ 16: “…or you can have one Iraq War”

    Please. Please tell me you are not equating the greed and lies which this government and the US used to illegally invade and occupy a country, to this attack (which has only fed back into the violence circle) – and placing the 2 as interchangeable options. That is so far from reality I cannot possibly know how to respond. You seriously think that the U.S. will invade Waziristan as an alternative? That kind of proposal will never even hit the negotiation table.

    I think that your attempt to correlate the two is deeply flawed, and incorrect to the point of blindness if you consider the innocent lives at stake.

  20. Leon — on 24th November, 2008 at 11:57 pm  

    How do you know that the four dead people were terrorists?

    The government tells us. And you know we never commit acts of terrorism. Only them, hence it’s right when we say ‘fuck you due process’ and execute any old Brown people we don’t like.

  21. Sunny — on 25th November, 2008 at 12:14 am  

    but they are needed to counter the Indian threat.

    What Indian threat?

  22. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 12:52 am  

    Leon, we needn’t leave it as a pipedream.

    The basic point you encapsulate here ‘and execute any old Brown people we don’t like’ is an old imperial position and it will never be turned around until we value each every life. To that end I have advocated inquests for every civilian death in Iraq (as one example) funded by the occupation with associated reparations.

    The same is needed in Afghanistan.

    We need a global collective of lawyers able and willing to pursue individuals and as Simon Wiesenthal would have done, pursue to the grave.

    It can and must be done.

  23. douglas clark — on 25th November, 2008 at 1:21 am  

    Leon @ 20,

    There was apparently nothing that could stand up in a court of law against Rashid Rauf. We are beginning to live in a 24 world where suspicion, which amounts to a belief, triggers extra judicial murder.

    And it ain’t just brown people that are subject to that. See here:

    http://www.rcgfrfi.easynet.co.uk/larkin_pubs/older/motr/motr_all.htm

    If they see you as an enemy, rightly or wrongly, the state will show it’s iron fist. As in a velvet glove.

    The complete cover up over Jean Charles de Mendes is what we are up against.

    Does anyone here think any of this shit is justified?

    We are not actually living in the intensely stupid and paranoid world of the security services. So why do we give them a pass for being intensely paranoid and stupid?

    Due process, it’s all I ask for. And all any of us ought to have a right to.

  24. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 1:33 am  

    Douglas, looking at the National Security Assessment for 2008, the highlight was of course the diminishing power of the US. One thing that I picked up on was the view that NGOs will become more powerful than most international institutions. It is in this arena we should be looking for justice.

    Governments are bought and sold, imperial legacy is passed on as a right, as are the people they scare into submission.

    We need people-people networking; which must mean that government plans to rein in free-flow of ideas and information must be stopped in its tracks.

  25. douglas clark — on 25th November, 2008 at 2:27 am  

    Refresh,

    We need people-people networking; which must mean that government plans to rein in free-flow of ideas and information must be stopped in its tracks.

    I completely agree with that.

    My point here, if I ever had a point to make, is just that. What is interesting, I think, is that people-people networking breaks down divisions. The point that you make. Speaking for myself, and I am a minority of one, I have really enjoyed talking – arguing even – with people from all sorts of backgrounds, ethnic, religious, class even. What has been interesting is how often we arrived at a consensus, where none was obvious.

    It changed me, and I’d like to think it changed them.

    Obviously, this is a kind of Utopian idea about what the internet can mean. But, frankly, I didn’t expect to find as many like minded people as I have.

    ………….——————-…………

    There was a comment recently that multi ethnic communities weren’t particularily tense. Folk got on OK. It was in the surrounding donut that tensions arose.

    I happen to think that you talking to me, me talking to you, might help destroy that daft confectionary.

    I appreciate it is not real, in the way that face to face is real, however, it is the best I can manage…

  26. platinum786 — on 25th November, 2008 at 9:20 am  

    Read the rest of my post Sunny. Blocking of the dams will pretty much trigger nuclear war, but it’s more likely to trigger civil war in Pakistan first.

  27. bananabrain — on 25th November, 2008 at 10:40 am  

    refresh, i know you don’t like violence (neither do i) but you seem incapable of telling the difference between the genocidal *intent* of the nazis and the idea of collateral damage. there is a quite large issue there and by ignoring it you do a disservice both to the victims of genocide and to those armed forces with a code of honour and ethics. fair enough, if someone could reasonably be expected to avoid civilian casualties, they should be punished for not doing so, but your presumption of wholesale, premeditated murder is quite at odds with reality. for you to imply that the british army, for example, wakes up in the morning and wonders about how many women and children it can knock off today is simply lunatic.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  28. Sid — on 25th November, 2008 at 11:03 am  

    It appears that the real target of the drone-launched missile attack was Abu Zubair al Masri.

    MI6 is to write to the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, chaired by Kim Howells, the former Labour Foreign Office Minister, to explain its position in relation to the weekend attack – the first time that a British citizen has been reportedly killed by an American unmanned drone. Under British intelligence rules, neither MI6 nor MI5 is authorised to carry out assassinations.

  29. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 11:26 am  

    Bananabrain, not in the least.

    I do not accept the concept of collateral damage. Its an invention designed to silence people at home and it works.

    Would you oppose full inquests for every collateral death?

  30. Sid — on 25th November, 2008 at 11:35 am  

    Refresh,

    What measures would you suggest to break the cycle of terrorism in Pakistan? Your reaction seems to see counter-terrorism as *the* problem whereas deaths by acts of terrorism as immaterial. Do you consider deaths by acts of terrorism as “collateral death”?

  31. Leon — on 25th November, 2008 at 11:41 am  

    What measures would you suggest to break the cycle of terrorism in Pakistan?

    It can’t happen by either of the options you give.

    Ideally (I won’t be holding my breath) I’d go for UN involvement, hand over parts of the country or the whole thing to the UN, bring in peacekeepers, rebuild it from there. Any country that acts in a way to deny another’s sovereignty should be subject to UN involvement of some kind.

    Think of how Ofsted works with failing schools and you have something of a model.

    But as I said I’m not holding my breath as without massive worldwide public pressure the powers that be will simply do what they can get away with.

    Let’s be honest, without all of us being organised and effective we’re just not players in The Great Game…

  32. Sid — on 25th November, 2008 at 11:52 am  

    Well I doubt *very much* that it can happen by UN peacekeeping forces alone. You have to have a military initiative to tackle the terrorist operators and you have to have a multilateral (UN a possibility) approach for institution building.

    The first and most important step is to get over the barrier that terrorism is a noble revolutionary reaction to imperialism and therefore somehow beyond reproach.

  33. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 11:59 am  

    Sid,

    I wish you would stop making presumptions about people’s views and then go on to challenge those presumptions.

    How do you break the cycle of terror in Pakistan?

    Stop being the recruiting sargeant by killing people totally unconnected with the conflict. And stop demanding Pakistan army should be killing their own people in equal if not greater numbers.

    ‘Your reaction seems to see counter-terrorism as *the* problem whereas deaths by acts of terrorism as immaterial.’

    ‘Seems’ to be the operative word, it provides you with the cover for a particularly nasty personal attack.

    Wake up Sid, terrifying the local population with drones flying night and day firing hellfires without warning will never counter terror. For the people on the ground, that too is terror.

    ‘Do you consider deaths by acts of terrorism as “collateral death”?’

    No I don’t. But then you know that.

  34. Sid — on 25th November, 2008 at 12:01 pm  

    Stop being the recruiting sargeant by killing people totally unconnected with the conflict. And stop demanding Pakistan army should be killing their own people in equal if not greater numbers.

    With respect, that’s a nice sidestep of the question. Which was: How do you break the cycle of terror in Pakistan?

  35. Leon — on 25th November, 2008 at 12:03 pm  

    The first and most important step is to get over the barrier that terrorism is a noble revolutionary reaction to imperialism and therefore somehow beyond reproach.

    I hope that isn’t directed at me because if it is you’re beating up one hell of a straw man there…

    I share your doubts but you asked for measures, I’m not an international specialist, not trained in global diplomacy but offered my limited opinion as best I could.

    What’s your solution to the problems we’re discussing? Is it really just predator bombing every suspect the US wants until there’s not terrorists left?

  36. Sid — on 25th November, 2008 at 12:08 pm  

    presuming that I directed that at you and then attacking it is a strawman in itself. :D

  37. Leon — on 25th November, 2008 at 12:10 pm  

    No it’s not, I wasn’t sure and asked! :P

  38. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 12:24 pm  

    If you think that’s a side-step, then there an awful lot of people side-stepping these days including some senior commanders of the Britsh army. Most of whom believe the war is lost, and its just a question of how we get out of the mess.

    If your question was ‘we are where we are, how do we get out of it?’, then perhaps we have a discussion.

    For me the biggest mistake EVER was Pakistan being the conduit for the US’ war against the Soviet Union. It should never have been drawn in. That is where I would start.

    Here is how I think Pakistan can play a key role in moving things in a positive direction:

    Build on its recent parliamentary resolve to pursue an independent foreign policy. Stand firm on any incursion from drones and US border crossings – and if necessary withold access to supply routes for US forces in Afghanistan. This will be the start of confidence-building measures for their own people.

    In parallel, restart the negotiations with the people of Waziristan. Push the US to start the same on their side of the border, which should include a broader government including Pushtuns in Kabul. This after all is no more than what many western analysts are saying.

    What will matter in the medium and longterm is how Pakistan comes out of it – if it does not seek out an independent path it will be finished taking the region with it. And by securing its borders first (against its allies), it will have established the first milestone towards regional stability.

  39. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 12:28 pm  

    Leon, I think he crafted that one for me.

  40. Sid — on 25th November, 2008 at 12:58 pm  

    Build on its recent parliamentary resolve to pursue an independent foreign policy. Stand firm on any incursion from drones and US border crossings – and if necessary withold access to supply routes for US forces in Afghanistan. This will be the start of confidence-building measures for their own people.

    In parallel, restart the negotiations with the people of Waziristan. Push the US to start the same on their side of the border, which should include a broader government including Pushtuns in Kabul. This after all is no more than what many western analysts are saying.

    The US seems to figure quite highly in your worldview of Pakistani terrorism and you seem to be suggesting that terrorism in Pakistan is *all* about foreign policy.

    But according to the Pak Institute for Peace Studies report I linked to above:

    “the Balochistan Liberation Army, the Balochistan Liberation Front and the Bugti Militia were blamed by the government for carrying out 403 terror attacks in Balochistan during 2006 that killed 277 people and injured 676 others.”

    According to the research study, the killing of veteran tribal chief Nawab Akbar Bugti in a clash between security forces and his men-at-arms was the main violent event of the year 2006 which caused “a ripple effect on the political horizon in the country”.

    A total of 144 attacks occurred in the tribal areas, killing 379 people and injuring 307 others. Sectarian clashes between two rival groups in Khyber Agency also caused a breakdown in law and order in the agency.

    According to the report, the NWFP remained the in the grip of strife and violence in 2006 and saw 60 terror attacks and sectarian clashes that left 139 people dead and 303 injured.

    A suicide bomb blast at the Punjab Regiment Centre in Dargai that resulted in the deaths of 42 trainee soldiers and injuries to 39 others was the most gruesome incident of the year in the already volatile province. The attack was described as a reaction to the Bajaur airstrike.

    Experiencing no major terror attack in the year 2006, Punjab remained relatively peaceful, says the study, adding that the terrorists did carry out bomb blasts in different cities of the province and struck Lahore thrice, but casualties remained low. As many as 28 people were killed and 126 others injured in a total of 28 attacks in the province.

    In other words, the majority of the huge numbers of deaths and disruption caused by terrorism is sectarian and tribal in nature and has little to do with the US.

    What we see in the form of news reports here in the UK is when the US get involved. That makes the news. The local terrorist strife, which is mostly localised, does not come into the news as much.

    So your suggestions for tackling terrorism from a foreign policy footing would actually do very little to address terrorism in Pakistan.

  41. billy — on 25th November, 2008 at 1:00 pm  

    For me the biggest mistake EVER was Pakistan being the conduit for the US’ war against the Soviet Union. It should never have been drawn in. That is where I would start.

    Pakistan accepted the role gratefully. Not only because it wanted the special status it gave them, not to mention the military co-operation, arms and money, but also because it didn’t want the Red Army within striking distance of Lahore.

  42. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 1:03 pm  

    Is this you side-stepping now?

    You are right I hadn’t taken into account for what was going on within Pakistan, beyond drones etc. I clearly cannot offer a solution for that too.

    But I guess you lured me in – nice work.

    So back to Waziristan?

  43. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 1:07 pm  

    Billy,

    Gratefully? Yes without a doubt. Having a dictator in power at the time had something to do with it. And it sustained him throughout.

    Not only that, having the US draw in the Soviet Union to Afghanistan wasn’t too friendly for the region.

    That said, what really matters is being independent in its foreign policy.

  44. billy — on 25th November, 2008 at 1:13 pm  

    Gratefully? Yes without a doubt. Having a dictator in power at the time had something to do with it.

    Even if General Zia was not in charge Pakistan would have lapped up the milk that the Afghanistan war provided for the nation. Special status as America’s ally in the region, money, and weapons. That was more potent than the heroin made from Afghan poppies.

    Ultimately, in the reckoning, Pakistani agency has to be accepted. Decisions were made, strategically, that impact directly on the situation Pakistan finds itself in today, and they were not reversed by elected governments of the Bhutto or Sharif administrations. The fix was addictive — the Taliban supported inside Afghanistan, Jihadism as a tool of the state in Kashmir to attack the big enemy to the east. Any honest reckoning would acknowledge all of this.

  45. Sid — on 25th November, 2008 at 1:14 pm  

    Is this you side-stepping now?

    You seem more keen on blaming the US than addressing the social breakdown caused by tribal warfare and terrorism that Pakistan is facing and the government’s inability to address the issue. In that regard, not only are you sidestepping but you’re promulgating the problem. But why address the real problems when you can reach for the usual suspects?

    So back to Waziristan?
    And Balochistan, surely.

  46. Sid — on 25th November, 2008 at 1:23 pm  

    Not only that, having the US draw in the Soviet Union to Afghanistan wasn’t too friendly for the region.

    My understanding is that the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan of its own accord, unprovoked. It was Brezhnev’s imperialist motivation that drove USSR to go into Afghanistan in 1979.

    Can you explain how the “US drew the Soveit Union” in?

  47. justforfun — on 25th November, 2008 at 1:56 pm  

    The USSR was invited in by the socialist Afghan governement that was being destabilized by the CIA sponsored opposition. It was not a traditional opposed invasion.

    The Afghanistan of the late 60s and 70 was quite a secular socialist state for the region with aspirations to ‘modernise’ in using the paths that were all fashionable in the 1960s. I would not compare it to Cuba but it was along those lines and with a fair degree of support especially in the urban areas. This did not fit in with the USA plans nor the more conservative Pakistani elites plans. Socialism and Russian influence on India in the East was bad enough, but in muslim Afghanistan – that was too much to bare. Think what the peasants in Pakistan would make of that!

    Refresh – I would agree with you that the USSR occupation of Afgahanistan and America’s use of Pakistan was the start. However I would add a just one addition to the mix. It was the use of ‘religion’ as a motivational force in that conflict that has since legitamized the religious factions and succoured them for the last 3 decades. The brave ‘holy warriors’ in chuppels giving the Russians a good kicking. That image makes good copy and massages the egos of cheerleaders (think KSA)on the sidelines. The image of opium doped poor peasants in chuppels fighting for warlords in the pay of the CIA does not quite have the same romantic image. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

    If the conflict could have been kept at a ‘nationalist’ level with no involvement of religion then there would be more room to manouver a settlement.

    I would suggest any solution can only come if the ‘religious’ aspects were down played by all at every opportunity – as they tend to be talked up and up, while the nationalist and tribal elements are played discussed and highlighted because they are harder for outsiders to uncover , let alone understand.

    So I vote for – ‘Bring back the USSR’ – It was an error to dismantle it completely – they knew how to create an aethist state!! and keep it that way – Things were easier then. :-)

    justforfun

  48. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 1:58 pm  

    Sid, its your thread. You called it ‘Down and out in Waziristan’.

    I would stick with the subject or open a new thread.

  49. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 2:01 pm  

    Justforfun

    ‘It was the use of ‘religion’ as a motivational force in that conflict that has since legitamized the religious factions and succoured them for the last 3 decades.’

    Absolutely!

  50. aji — on 25th November, 2008 at 4:19 pm  

    The US has been sucked into Afghanistan in the same way that the Soviets got sucked in. This is precisely what al-Qaeda wanted and the motive behind 9/11. The goal is to embroil the “far enemy” into a long, unwinnable war involving heavy casualties and in the end humiliate the enemy. The war also serves as a rallying call for a new generation of jihadis from around the world, and so far that has been very successful. Jihadists are flocking to Afghanistan and western Pakistan to fight the “far enemy” (the US and its partners). Some of these young men have previously gained their combat experience in fighting American troops in Iraq.

    Actually, Iraq was a distraction that the US could have completely avoided because: it has allowed the Taliban/al-Qaeda nexus to re-establish itself in Afghanistan; galvanised support for al-Qaeda due to massive civilian causalities in Iraq; and created a band of well trained jihadis. As far as al-Qaeda is concerned, Iraq has served its purpose.

    Considering the linkages between the political-military establishment and militants in Pakistan are so opaque, and since the country’s economy is in dire straits, the US has decided that it will be difficult for Pakistan to engage in more aggressive counter-jihadist military action. Hence the continuing air strikes.

    One thing is for sure: this war is not going to end any time soon!

  51. Sid — on 25th November, 2008 at 4:57 pm  

    I would stick with the subject or open a new thread.

    There’s no need to. Waziristan, Balochistan, NWFP, and Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) in POK has been historically difficult to control and administer, share the border with Afghanistan (except POK) and is collectively the leading terror centres in the world.

  52. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 5:00 pm  

    OK, but I have to say it looked like a change of subject aka whataboutery.

  53. Sid — on 25th November, 2008 at 5:07 pm  

    How so? Balochistan and Waziristan suffer from the same problems. I would counter that real “whataboutery” is claiming that the US is singulalry culpable for all of Pakistan’s instability when the dicussion turns to the the tactical response to terrorism.

  54. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 5:14 pm  

    Goodness!

    I gave you my view of the way forward. You did not respond directly to it. You presume my views then attack those presumptions. You bring in the ‘usual suspect’ argument as if there was no culpability whatsoever. You failed to understand the history behind the situation, to your credit your admitted as much.

    I have criticised Pakistan’s stance from long before the launch of the internet let alone PP. And I criticise it today.

    There is only one fundamental issue and all the rest flows from it. Pakistan should have ALWAYS been non-aligned.

  55. Sid — on 25th November, 2008 at 5:18 pm  

    You failed to understand the history behind the situation, to your credit your admitted as much.

    haha, funny. This is beyond whataboutery – this is shapeshifting.

    I wasn’t admitting I don’t have an understanding of the history. In fact my understanding of the history and the region is better than most. I was actually being ironic because I believe that your claim that the US is responsible for the Russian invasion of Afghanistan is ridiculous!

  56. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 5:30 pm  

    Well I think I will leave it to you to do the necessary research.

  57. Sid — on 25th November, 2008 at 5:34 pm  

    Research into another’s whataboutery? Sounds like a blast. [irony]

  58. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 7:08 pm  

    ‘I was actually being ironic because I believe that your claim that the US is responsible for the Russian invasion of Afghanistan is ridiculous!’

    You believe, but don’t know therefore it would make sense if you did some of your own research.

  59. Sid — on 25th November, 2008 at 7:16 pm  

    I think the onus is on you to back up your claim.

  60. Refresh — on 25th November, 2008 at 7:32 pm  

    But its obvious for all to see, that anything I put up on the subject will do nothing to convince you – so the intellingent thing would be for you to seek it out for yourself. Otherwise lets consider it closed.

  61. s — on 25th November, 2008 at 8:24 pm  

    there are three A’s that rule this region America, Allah and Army

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