Posts tagged ‘Pakistan’
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for the 4GWAR blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 210,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 4 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a (very) small country in Europe!
Last year 4GWAR was thrilled to receive more than 134,000 visits. This year’s visits totaled 209,970.
Most of those views came from the United States (84,926). In descending order, the top 10 foreign viewing countries were. 1. Britain (8,645); 2. Canada (7,008); 3. India (4,568); 4. Germany (4,082); 5. Australia (3,292); 6. France (3,271); 7. Brazil (2,288); 8. Poland (2,192); 9. Russia (1,984); 10. Pakistan, (1,795).
Indonesia was close behind at 1,769 views. The African country with the biggest viewership was South Africa with 840. Three of the five most viewed 4GWAR posts were about Africa.
Thanks to all who visited 4GWAR in 2012, we hope to see more of you in 2013!
Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where the crippling disease polio is still a public health threat.
But the United Nations has been running a successful program to immunize those most at risk – children under the age of five living in unsanitary conditions.
So far this year, 56 polio cases have been reported in Pakistan, compared to the 190 reported last year, according to the United Nations.
The program has been suspended, however, after eight volunteer polio campaign workers have been shot and killed by gunmen in the last two days. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Karachi and Charsadda, but some Islamic extremists believe the immunization program is just a cover for Western espionage, the Associated Press reports. Another health worker was seriously wounded by gunmen outside Peshawar.
Wednesday (Dec. 19) was the final day of a three-day nationwide anti-polio drive. An estimated 5.2 million polio vaccine drops were to be administered during the campaign, according to the BBC.
Opposition to immunization efforts have grown in parts of Pakistan — especially after it was learned learned that a fake hepatitis vaccination program was the cover used by U.S. efforts to locate al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in 2011. Pakistan’s Taliban, in a phomne call to the AP, denied any responsibility for the attacks.
Nigeria and Afghanistan are the other two countries where polio is endemic.
TAMPA, Florida – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) plans to leverage the resources of several top universities to create its own “think outside the box” research entity to tackle overseas threats that can ignite conflict in struggling regions – like food and water shortages, infectious disease and rapid urbanization.
By 2050, the world’s population will have grown by two billion to nine billion people, straining food and water resources – especially in the developing world, Beth Cole, director of USAID’s Office of Military Cooperation told a Special Operations conference here in Tampa this week.
“We realize that if we want to get ahead of the curve, we’ve got to look out to the future and one of the ways we’re going to [do it] is create a DARPA-like entity in USAID,” she said, referring to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – the Pentagon’s high risk research arm that has achieved several high return successes like stealth technology and the Internet.
Last month, USAID announced it was launching the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN), a partnership with seven American and foreign universities designed as scientific problem solvers for global development challenges.
According to USAID, the network was created to tap research institutions and their students to: catalyze global action; support entrepreneurship and foster multifaceted approaches to development. Each university will establish Development Labs to work with USAID’s field mission experts and Washington staff to apply science and technology to solve key problems in areas such as global health, food security and chronic conflict. To get the labs going, USAID is providing a total of $26 million to the seven institutions: MIT, the University of California-Berkeley, Michigan State, Duke, Texas A&M University, the College of William and Mary and Uganda’s Makerere University.
Cole enumerated some of the global challenges that will soon confront the world and the organizations trained to keep it safe and peaceful.
Nearly two billion people around the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. Globally, there’s been a 10 percent rise in water-caused disease. The World Health Organization recorded 1,100 epidemics in the last year – many of them spread by animals. “I want you to think about chickens in large cities,” Cole said, noting that the developing world – where economic and educational disparities, food shortages and disease have fueled violent extremist movements – is fast becoming an urban world.
She noted that 75 percent of the world’s largest cities are in the developing world – many of them in the littoral areas close to the sea. The populations of Nigeria and Pakistan “two fragile, conflict-affected states – one of them with nuclear weapons” are projected to grow 30 percent in the near future.
“How are you going to deal with security in teeming cities affected by one of these challenges,” Cole asked attendees at the Special Operations Summit sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA).
She noted USAID and U.S. Special Operations Command (which oversees Green Berets, Army Rangers, Navy SEALS, Nightstalker helicopter pilots and other special operations personnel) have been cooperating for years in places like Afghanistan to improve security and economic conditions.
Back in January we quoted news reports coming out of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, that it was getting ready to reopen key border crossings used to supply NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Those reports were premature, but it looks like Islamabad’s honor has been assuaged and the crossings – closed since NATO troops killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in a friendly fire incident last year – will be reopening soon after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement expressing regret for the November 2011 incident. The July 3 statement recounted a telephone conversation Clinton had with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
“I am pleased that Foreign Minister Khar has informed me that the ground supply lines into Afghanistan are opening,” Clinton statement said.
Without access to supplies transported by truck from cargo ships in Pakistani seaports, much needed fuel and food had to be flown in – across Russian airspace – or trucked much farther from Central Asian countries north of Afghanistan, at an additional cost of $100 million a month.
Clinton said Pakistan would allow the transport of non-lethal supplies (no weapons or ammunition) and a State Department official said the $250 per container fee Pakistan had previously been charging to use the so-called Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC) would not rise. Back in January, reports indicated that in additional to a formal apology, Pakistan wanted to raise the rates on each truckload of military supplies to as much as $5,000.
The attack plunged already stormy U.S.-Pakistan relations to an all-time low following a series of incidents including the secret U.S. commando raid into Pakistan to kill al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.
The Pakistani soldiers were killed in the confusion after NATO troops on the Afghan side of the border were fired upon from Pakistan and an air raid was called in to drive off the attackers. U.S. and NATO commanders said Pakistani officials told them they had no troops in the area, so NATO helicopters fired on what turned out to be a Pakistani border post – killing two dozen soldiers and injuring many more. Pakistani Army officials denied the NATO version of the incident, claiming the attack was deliberate.
President Obama and other U.S. officials expressed regret but declined to go any further, angering Islamabad, which barred U.S. use of a Pakistani airbase to launch unmanned aircraft attacks on militants and closed the border checkpoints.
Clinton did not use the word apologize in her press statement but her expression of regret apparently satisfied Pakistani officials.
“As the statement makes clear, there were mistakes made on both sides that led to the tragic loss of life, and we are both sorry for those,” Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman, told reporters yesterday (July 3), adding: “Without parsing the statement, I think the intent here is that we are both sorry for the losses suffered by both our countries in this fight against terrorists.”
Relations between the two countries are still far from friendly. The U.S. wants Pakistan to suppress militants associated with the Taliban and al Qaeda in their country – particularly the Haqqani network – who attack Afghanistan; and Pakistan wants the U.S. to cease drone-fired missile strikes in their territory, which they say often kill innocent bystanders, increasing outrage by Pakistanis against Washington and Islamabad.
The United Nations-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which includes U.S. and NATO troops, said it welcomed Pakistan’s decision to reopen the GLOC. U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, the ISAF commander, who has been meeting with Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, called the move “a demonstration of Pakistan’s desire to help secure a brighter future for both Afghanistan and the region at large.”
Linked to LeT
Police in India have arrested a suspect in the 2008 terror attack on Mumbai that left more than 160 dead and paralyzed India’s financial capital for nearly three days.
On Monday (June 25) Deli police took into custody Abu Hamza – believed to be one of the masterminds of the attack on two hotels, a Jewish community center and a railroad station.
Indian media reports said he was also known as Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari and Abu Jindal. He is reportedly the one who guided the attack by cell phone and tutored the heavily-armed attackers in Hindi before they struck.
All but one of the 10 attackers, believed to be Pakistanis, were killed by Indian police and commandos.
The tenth attacker, Ajmal Amir Qasab, was tried and sentenced to death. The attackers and Abu Hamza are all said to be members of a violent Pakistani militant group – Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which stands for Army of the Pure.
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – popularly known as drones – to attack and kill al Qaeda terrorists and Taliban insurgents is being questioned again not just in Afghanistan and Pakistan but around the world.
According to polling done by the Pew Research Center, America’s image has slipped with many people around the world because of U.S. Foreign policy – particularly counter terrorism actions like drone strikes. The 21-nation survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project from March 17-April 20 .
In 17 of 20 countries (the U.S. was the 21st) Pew researchers found more than half of those polled disapprove of U.S. drone strikes in places like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. In the U.S., however, 62 percent approve of the unmanned aircraft attacks whether Republican (74 percent), independent (60 percent) or Democrat (58 percent).
Recent drone strikes have stirred up animosity in parts of the Muslim world. Pakistan, in particular, has chafed at what it sees as violations of its sovereignty as well as a tactic that causes civilian casualties.
But U.S. officials say the drones can strike at America’s enemies without putting service members in harm’s way. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was unapologetic in India last week about the U.S. need to defend itself, the Associated Press reported.
A June 4 drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas near the Afghan border killed a senior leader of al Qaeda – Abu Yahya al-Libi. Following Osama bin Laden’s death last year, U.S. officials said they believed Libi became al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader behind Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahiri. It was reported that 14 people may have been killed in the attack on Libi.
Meanwhile, 26 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have written to President Obama calling for legal justification of certain drone strikes and warning that “they can generate powerful and enduring anti-American sentiment.”
In their June 12 letter, the lawmakers – 24 Democrats and two Republicans led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) — said they are concerned about so-called “signature strikes” where the Central Intelligence Agency and Joint Special Operations Command have reportedly been authorized to fire on targets based solely on their intelligence signatures – patterns of behavior that indicate the presence of an important operative or plot against U.S. Interests. An April Washington Post report on the new drone strike authorization was cited in the letter to Obama.
The issue of drones came up today at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) annual conference. Speakers at the Washington think tank’s gathering in Washington discussed U.S. security policy in a changing world.
In response to an audience question, Princeton University professor Anne-Marie Slaughter said that a world in which “you can target individuals rather than having to invade countries is probably better … but only if there are very careful rules and institutions around it.”
Anyone can make a drone, she noted, adding: “We do not want a world in which we are saying ‘It’s fine. We can decide who a drone can take out.’ We will suffer enormously” for setting that precedent. Instead, Slaughter, who was the Obama administration’s State Department director of policy planning for two years, said the White House should recognize the need for international rules on the lethal use of drones “even if they restrain us.”
21st Century Meets 12th Century
It looks like a U.S. Army armored vehicle has blundered onto the set of an Arabian Nights movie but this is actually a real village square in Afghanistan’s Paktika province near the Pakistani border. If you click on the photo to enlarge the image you can spot a tiny satellite or sat phone dish just to the left of the left-hand tower.
U.S. soldiers use their MRAP (mine protected ambush protected) vehicle to cordon off the square of a small village near Combat Outpost Yosef Khel. The soldiers helped Afghan forces conduct traffic check points near the village.
Pakistan may be getting ready to reopen key border crossings into Afghanistan, ending a blockade imposed after a NATO air attack mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, according to Reuters.
The news service quoted an unidentified “a senior security official” Jan. 19 that two border checkpoints – closed since late November – would be reopened sometime in the future. The official also said that while trucks carrying crucial supplies to U.S. forces in Afghanistan would be allowed to pass, Pakistan intends to charge a tax or tariff on the incoming cargo – in part to show its continuing displeasure with U.S. and coalition forces’ activities in the troubled border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But U.S. officials say that Islamabad had not contacted Washington about that reported plan. “We have not, as of this moment, had any official communication from the Government of Pakistan on this subject,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Jan. 19.
At least one Pakistani newspaper, Dawn, is reporting that Prime Minister Yosuf Raza Gilani says Pakistan’s parliament will decide when and if to reopen the border to NATO supply trucks.
Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan had been deteriorating since the unannounced U.S. commando raid that killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden last May. That embarrassed the Pakistani military and its intelligence service which had claimed bin Laden was not in the country. Then on Nov. 26, more that two dozen Pakistani troops were killed or wounded in a NATO cross-border airstrike on two outposts.
NATO-led coalition forces said the attack was a mistake due to communication and coordination blunders after NATO troops came under fire from the Pakistani side of the border. But Pakistani public officials– already angered by U.S. drone strikes inside Pakistani territory – claimed the attack was deliberate. The U.S. has expressed regret about the incident but has not apologized.
The border shutdown has forced the U.S. and its NATO allies to transport food, fuel and other supplies via other routes at great cost. The Associated Press, citing a Pentagon report, says it now costs about $104 million a month to move the needed cargo via alternate routes – $87 million more per month than it cost before the Pakistanis closed the border. The alternate routes come down from the north after passing through Russia and Central Asia.
The blockade also backed up hundreds of fuel tankers and other trucks, making them vulnerable to attack by insurgents and terrorists.
Big Mistake, Big Mess
U.S.-Pakistani relations – not in the best of shape for over a year – are going from bad to worse since a NATO airstrike near the Khyber Pass and the Afghan border killed 24 Pakistani soldiers over the weekend.
Furious Pakistani officials are boycotting an international conference in Bonn, Germany next week to discuss the future of post-war Afghanistan after the U.S. and NATO pull out their troops in 2014. U.S. officials say Pakistani participation is crucial in any attempts to secure peace in the region.
One of the things causing outrage in Pakistan and major headaches for coalition forces fighting al Qaeda terrorists and Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan is a claim by a top Pakistani general leaders that the attack was deliberate. The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff denies that.
At best, Pakistani government officials say, the U.S. was negligent in not communicating with them before and during the attack. However, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that NATO officials contacted the Pakistani military about the planned attack and got the go-ahead from officials who did not know their troops were in the area.
Now the Pakistanis say the U.S. and/or NATO gave them the wrong location of the planned air strikes and went ahead without Pakistani clearance. The AP story is here.
Pakistani officials closed major overland routes into Afghanistan, halting much-needed fuel, food and other supplies that is moved by truck from Pakistan. The trucks, which are stacking up on the Pakistani border are vulnerable to attack, which has happened in the past when Pakistan closed cross-border points. There is also concern that Pakistan, which has lost thousands of troops and police in battles with its own insurgents, might end its counter insurgency efforts out of frustration that it’s sacrifices in the war of terror are under appreciated by the allies, according to Reuters.
According to news reports, a joint NATO-Afghan force operating along the border came under heavy rocket fire apparently emanating from Pakistan. The ground troops called for air support and jets and helicopter gunships fired rockets, which struck two Pakistani Army outposts – killing 24 soldiers.
The U.N.’s International Security Assistance Force – under which U.S. And NATO forces are fighting in Afghanistan – is conducting an investigation into the incident, as is the U.S..
U.S. and NATO officials have called the incident a tragic mistake but the White House has not apologized pending the investigation’s outcome. Meanwhile, politicians in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, grow angrier every day. They’re still steamed over being left out of the loop when U.S. Commandos killed al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden in secret raid into Pakistan last May. Pakistan’s military commander has told his troops they can return fire if attacked again. And there have been anti-American demonstrations across Pakistan, some even calling for retaliatory military attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan.
But relations between the U.S. and Pakistan – a major player in the Afghan war – have been rocky for over a year. A CIA contractor killed two Pakistani civilians in what may – or may not have been a kidnap-robbery attempt. And U.S. military officials have accused Pakistan’s military intelligence agency of supporting Taliban attacks against U.S. troops.
The Gloves Come Off
Updates with Pakistani officials’ reaction, links to additional criticism by U.S. officials, adds links to photos from Kabul attack.
The already troubled relationship between the United States and Pakistan appears to be heading for a head-on crash after the top U.S. military leader said Pakistan’s intelligence service is indirectly linked to last week’s attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday (Sept. 22) Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking uniformed U.S. military leader, went further than any American official has gone before in linking Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency with recent attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
In his written testimony, Mullen said the Haqqani Network, a terrorist organization based in Pakistan’s tribal areas near the Afghan border, was responsible for last week’s attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul that left five Afghan policeman and 11 Afghan civilians dead. Mullen said the Haqqani Network enjoys “the support and protection” of the Pakistani government. But he went even farther than that:
“The fact remains that the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network operate from Pakistan with impunity. Extremist organizations serving asproxies of the government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan troops and civilians as well as U.S. soldiers. For example, we believe the Haqqani Network—which has long enjoyed the support and protection of the Pakistani government and is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency—is responsible for the September 13th attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.”
Mullen isn’t alone in his criticism of the Pakistani government’s relationship within its borders. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who also testified at the hearing, warned that the U.S. is prepared to take unilateral action to stop the attacks if Islamabad doesn’t do something about the Haqqanis. The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, has publicly blamed the Haqqani Network for the attacks and the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, accused the Pakistani government of supporting the group, notes POLITICO.
This latest development is likely to shatter the shaky alliance that the U.S. and Pakistan have maintained since 9/11.
Pakistani officials are having none of it. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Mullen’s comments risked straining U.S-Pakistan relations to the breaking point. Interior Minister Rehman Malik warned that Pakistan will not allow foreign “boots on our ground, never.”
To see more Defense Department photos of the Sept. 13 attacks in Kabul, click here.