Taleban Government Appoints Two New Ministers

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[Kakar] Mr Stanikzai, in the past 10 years relations with Pakistan have been very bumpy. At times we have called them a brother country and at times they have been accused of supporting insurgency. You said in your own words that the terrorist centers should be targeted where they are trained and nurtured and you exactly must have meant Pakistan. Thus, if you are sending such messages to the Pakistanis, how do you think Pakistan will be ready to bring your enemies to you at a negotiation table and cooperate with you in a peace process?
[Stanikzai] I will tell you again, you cannot expect at one moment to be saying this is the work to be done, and then expect it to be done. This is a long-term process. When you want to solve a long-standing disagreement where there is a conflict of interest, where there is local and regional rivalry, and you want to solve it, then it is a long-term process and you need to build trust so that two sides can trust each other. In the past three years there have been mutual endeavors so that this trust environment is established. Naturally, it cannot be expected that with one or two trips this is achievable and everything can be sorted out. There are some fundamental issues that need a lot of discussion and need mutual trust building. In past years, there was a policy of denial or a policy of dodge and avoidance. However, they have noticed that this policy of denial and this policy of avoidance are not working. But, there is need for a constructive debate about this issue rather than this old tactics.
[Kakar] Then there is a change in the policies of Pakistan.
[Stanikzai] I think this realization is wider than that and all sides have come to this understanding. It has been realized by the international community, and it also has been understood by the Pakistanis as well, as there is wider acknowledgement and these realities have become very clear inside Afghanistan. Instead of engaging in propaganda warfare, we need to bring different issues to the negotiation table with different working groups. We need a constructive diplomatic activity. This has been started and they are working on it so that we can get to a positive result in creating more trust and cooperation between each of us.
[Kakar] Have you received any guarantees from the Pakistani side that they will work honestly on this issue?
[Stanikzai] This depends on how this process will move forward. Everything should be judged by its performance and the results of it. I do not want to prejudge or forecast anything, but I can say that both sides are working very seriously so that the relations should be improved and the cooperation level is to be brought to the extent that it can make some issues possible. Naturally, the Government of Afghanistan has its specific demands and they might also have some demands.
However, I arrived at a point and I have arrived at a conclusion that today the politicians and the people of Afghanistan know that the continuation of this situation is not in the interest of their security and economy. Also, this situation is not in the interest of the security and economy of Afghanistan. When we arrive at a point that is a dead end, then constructive cooperation is possible.
[Kakar] Mr Mohammad Masom Stanikzai, thank you very much.
[Stanikzai] Thank you.

[Description of Source: Kabul Tolo News in Dari -- independent 24/7 news channel; part of the Moby Media Group]

AFP: ISAF Says Haqqani Commander Killed
EUP20110630747002 Paris AFP (North American Service) in English 30 Jun 11
[AFP headline-"NATO says Haqqani commander killed in Afghanistan "]
NATO said Thursday that a senior commander in the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network wanted over this week's deadly attack on a leading hotel in the Afghan capital had been killed in an air strike.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) identified Ismail Jan as deputy to the senior Haqqani commander inside Afghanistan and said he was killed in the eastern province of Paktya on Wednesday.
It was not possible to confirm Jan's death or position independently and ISAF provided no immediate details on how they knew he had been killed.
It said security forces tracked his location based on intelligence reports from Afghan government officials, citizens and "disenfranchised insurgents" before calling in the air strike.
The US-led force accused Jan of providing material support for Tuesday's attack on the Intercontinental in Kabul, frequented by Westerners and Afghan government officials.
Heavily armed militants stormed the hilltop hotel late Tuesday, sparking a ferocious battle involving Afghan commandos and a NATO helicopter gunship that left at least 21 dead including the nine attackers.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, but NATO said it was carried out in conjunction with the Haqqani network, blamed for a string of high-profile attacks in Kabul and considered the most potent enemy in the east.
A judge, a Spaniard -- reportedly a pilot for a Turkish airline -- police and hotel staff were among those killed in the attack, which has renewed questions about security as US forces prepare to start withdrawing this year.
NATO said Jan was killed with "several" other Haqqani fighters the day after the attack in Paktya, which borders Pakistan's semi-autonomous district of North Waziristan, where the Haqqani leadership is based.
NATO said Jan had also led 25 to 35 fighters in attacks on troops in the Khost-Gardez area along the border after moving from Pakistan into Afghanistan in late 2010, one of the deadliest fighting grounds in the decade-long war.
The military said "initial reports" indicated that no civilians were hurt in Wednesday's air strike, although air attacks have brought the US-led military into sharp opposition with the Afghan government over civilian casualties.
US President Barack Obama announced last week that he would be withdrawing 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of summer 2012 and Washington has voiced hope about reaching a peace deal to end a decade of fighting.
The Haqqanis, estimated to have 3,000 to 4,000 fighters, has been blamed for some of the most spectacular attacks of the insurgency, including an Al-Qaeda double agent suicide attack that killed seven CIA operatives in 2009.
It was founded by the now-ageing Jalaluddin Haqqani, a warlord who made his name during the 1980s jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, when he received funding from Pakistan and the CIA.
He allegedly helped Osama bin Laden elude American capture after the US invasion of Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, but his ruthless son Sirajuddin now effectively runs the network.
The Haqqanis are seen as operationally independent from the Taliban but part of a broad coalition of groups operating under its aegis.
This could pose a problem in any substantive peace talks -- the United States says contacts with the Taliban are at a very early stage -- if the Haqqanis did not agree to end their part in the insurgency.

[Description of Source: Paris AFP (North American Service) in English -- North American service of the independent French press agency Agence France-Presse]

Indian Commentary Raises Concern Over Radicalization in Pakistani Armed Forces

SAP20110629527008 New Delhi Hindustan Times Online in English 29 Jun 11
[Corrected version: correcting Subject; Commentary by G D Bakshi, retired Major General in Indian Army: "Waiting To Explode"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
Never since the 1971 war debacle has the image of the Pakistani army reached such a nadir. The killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad turned the spotlight on Pakistan's amazing duplicity (or astounding incompetence). Initially, the Pakistani army was in a painful cleft about which facet to plead guilty to. Both were equally damning. For 36 hours after the raid, there was a stunned official silence in Islamabad. A spate of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks followed in the country, which culminated in the Taliban raid on the naval base at Mehran.
The high-strung Taliban reaction against the Pakistani armed forces sprang from a sense of outrage and betrayal. They had put bin Laden, Mullah Omar, Jalaluddin Haqqani, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and other top Taliban leaders in the safekeeping of Pakistan's InterServices Intelligence (ISI). The killing of bin Laden was, for the Taliban, a monstrous sell out. The fact that the army itself was shellshocked by the American raid meant nothing to the Taliban. The Pakistani rank and file, in turn, is deeply offended that the Americans could pull off such a raid deep inside their country. It has opened them to a spate of ridicule from the civilians, which has wounded the army's amour propre for being the only functional institution in an otherwise dysfunctional Pakistan.
The level of discontent has now reached serious proportions. Apparently, enraged enlisted men have demanded that General Ashfaq Kayani and General Ahmad Shuja Pasha must step down. Today, Kayani faces intense discontent over his allegedly cosy relationship with the US. The anger intensified when he (with apparent US backing) got himself an extension for three years. This torpedoed the promotional prospects of 27 lieutenant generals of the army and added to their sense of outrage.
After Abbottabad, at a conference of the Collegium of the XI Corps Commanders, Kayani was informed about the outrage and apparently asked that he talk to the men himself before the situation went out of hand. Accordingly, a panic-stricken Kayani started a tour of the military cantonments to meet the officers in town hall-type meetings. By now, Kayani has addressed over a dozen such military gatherings where, in some cases, the `question rounds' slated for an hour extended up to three hours. The military press briefs described them as "very frank". This is an unprecedented situation in a disciplined army where the chief feels compelled to explain his conduct to his men. An alarmed Kayani has, in response to this unnerving feedback, hardened his stand on America too. Around 140 US trainers have been sent back and, apparently, food and water supplies to the US drone base in Pakistan have been cut. The five Pakistanis who gave information to the CIA about bin Laden have been arrested. So much for the war on terror. There is speculation that the gory details of the anger within the army have been put in the Pakistani media to put pressure on America to not insist on carrying out operations in North Waziristan or target top al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders hiding in Pakistan.
These are the long overdue consequences of the schizophrenic policy that Pakistan has been following since 9/11. It is noteworthy that General Zia-ul-Haq had not only thoroughly radicalised the Pakistani army and the ISI but he had also equally radicalised the school curriculum to extol jihad. Having systematically been fed on a diet of radical Islam and virulently anti-American worldviews, the population of Pakistan is now among the most radicalised in the world. Pakistan's 45,000 madrasas have become a jihad factory, turning out fanatical recruits and suicide bombers for the global jihad.
Bin Laden and his men have become icons for the Pakistani youth. The Zia Bharti (officers who joined the army in Zia's time) have reached the rank of major generals and some of them have even become lieutenant generals. They rose because of their Islamic credentials and radicalised outlook.
Will there be a colonels' coup in Pakistan?
It's unlikely. It is the Collegium of Corps Commanders that usually ushers in non-linear changes (usually in the form of institutional coups). But the creeping radicalisation of the Pakistani rank and file is now cause for acute concern. Post-Mehran, there are serious question marks on the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Above all, this radicalisation via deep infiltration could presage the emergence of a jihadi State.
Bruce Reidel, in his book Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America and the Future of Global Jihad, describes this as the worst nightmare for America. He writes, "A jihadist Pakistan would be the most serious threat the US has faced since the end of the Cold War."
Aligned with al-Qaeda and armed with nuclear weapons, it would be a global security nightmare. It would be prudent for India to `war game' possible collapse scenarios.
Peace talks with such a rapidly failing State, which is fast getting radicalised, unfortunately, make little sense at this stage.

[Description of Source: New Delhi Hindustan Times online in English -- Website of the second largest-circulation English-language daily, owned by the Birla Group. Tends to favor the Congress party and nationalist policies. No longer as influential as it used be over the federal government. Its editorial strength has waned and over years, lost its standing as an influential Delhi paper to its rival The Times Of India. Circulation remains confined to Delhi, some parts of North India and Mumbai; URL: www.hindustantimes.com]

Asia Times: 'US Homes in on Al-Qaeda's New Head'
CPP20110711715122 Hong Kong Asia Times Online in English 0207 GMT 09 Jul 11
[Asia Times Report by Amir Mir: "Us Homes in on Al-Qaeda's New Head"; headline as provided by source]
ISLAMABAD - Osama bin Laden's second-in-command Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri's succession as the new al-Qaeda chief has not only put renewed American pressure on Pakistan for "credible intelligence-sharing" about his possible whereabouts, but also raised concerns about fresh terror attacks in Pakistan, which is already struggling to balance domestic politics with a deteriorating relationship with the United States.
Well-informed diplomatic sources in Islamabad say senior American intelligence officials have sought help from their Pakistani counterparts to track down Zawahiri, thinking that he may be hiding somewhere in an urban locality of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, as had been the case with Bin Laden, who was hunted down by American raiders in Abbottabad on May 2.
Though the American raid has strained already prickly Pakistan-US ties, the Barack Obama administration is adamant to hunt down remaining al-Qaeda fugitives believed to be hiding in Pakistan, especially Zawahiri. While seeking intelligence-sharing, senior American intelligence officials have reportedly provided to their Pakistani counterparts a list of over two dozen high-value al-Qaeda and Taliban targets allegedly sheltering in Pakistan.
The list contains the names of many of those people who are on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) list of most-wanted terror suspects, although the US Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA's) and the FBI's lists are prepared independently.
Those named on the CIA list of non-Pakistani high-value al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked terrorists include Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's number three Sheikh Yunis al-Mauretani, the fugitive amir of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Omar, al-Qaeda's chief operational commander for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Saif al-Adal, the chief of the Haqqani militant network, Jalaluddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani network, Sirajuddin Haqqani and his younger brothers Nasiruddin Haqqani and Badruddin Haqqani.
Others include the official spokesman of al-Qaeda, Sulaiman Abu Ghath, the spiritual leader of al-Qaeda, Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, al-Qaeda's field commander for operations in Afghanistan, Abu Yahya al-Libi, al-Qaeda's operational chief for North America, Adnan Al-Shukri Juma, Bin Laden's sons, Saad bin Laden and Hamza bin Laden, the leader of Turkish jihadis in the North Waziristan tribal area, Abu Hanifah, the commander of Chinese jihadis in North Waziristan, Abu Nasir, the chief of Uzbek and Tajik militants in North Waziristan, Abu Akash. Two German brothers, Mouneer Chouka alias Abu Adam and Yaseen Chouka alias Abu Ibrahim, who command German militants, are also included along with three white jihadis from the United States, Abu Ibrahim al Amriki, Sayfullah al-Amriki and Anwar al-Awlaki, two Yemeni militants, Nasir al-Wahishi and Qassim al-Raimi, a Saudi militant Said al-Shiri, and an Algerian jihadi Abdelmalek Droukdel.
The CIA hit list also carries the names of six key al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked jihadi leaders from Pakistan who are involved in targeting the Pakistani and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces and are considered common enemies by Washington and Islamabad.
They include the fugitive amir of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, commander Hakeemullah Mehsud, his fellow commanders Maulvi Faqeer Mohammad and Waliur Rehman Mehsud, Taliban renegades in Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Buhadar and Maulvi Nazir, and the fugitive amir of the Swat chapter of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi, Maulvi Fazalullah.
However, the immediate target of the Americans is Zawahiri, who was formally appointed al-Qaeda's amir on June 16 through a statement posted on Ansar al-Mujahideen (Followers of Holy Warriors), an al-Qaeda-linked website.
Many in Pakistan's security circles say that while Zawahiri lacks Bin Laden's charisma, he should not be underestimated, mainly because of his organizational and operational skills.
They believe Zawahiri's elevation carries particular dangers for Pakistan because of its status as a nucle ar power that is confronting deadly Islamic militants. In fact, because he has married into a local tribe in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, Zawahiri is closely involved with many key Pakistani jihadi groups and has been vigorously pursuing them for a jihadi takeover of Pakistan with a view to converting it into another Afghanistan.
Zawahiri, one of the founders of the international terror group, has played a significant role in the organization for over a decade as Bin Laden's number two.
Even before his elevation, he was widely regarded as the de facto leader and public face of al-Qaeda. Zawahiri actually became the public face of al-Qaeda after the US-led allied forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Since then, he has released fiery messages of jihad via video and audio tapes.
US intelligence sleuths stationed in Pakistan believe Zawahiri seized control of al-Qaeda's organizational set-up long ago and rebuilt the terror network into an organization capable of launching lethal terrorist attacks across the globe, even in the US and the United Kingdom.
Zawahiri, who recently described Pakistan as an American colony in a video message, was one of the brains behind the September 11 terror attacks in 2001. In his latest video appearance on June 8, Zawahiri vowed to avenge the death of Bin Laden "blood for blood".
The 28-minute video was the first statement from him to acknowledge the death of Bin Laden. Looking aged - he is 60 - and at times angry, Zawahiri used a chopping motion with his hands and urged his followers to remember the September 11 attacks against American and made a point to recall the deaths of US military personnel at the Pentagon.
He called on Pakistani youth to follow the example of the Egyptian, Tunisian, Libyan and Syrian youth and overthrow the government. The statement said that al-Qaeda would not shift its policy and pledged its support to, among others, Taliban chief Mullah Omar.
With the death of Bin Laden, who was also one of the original 22 people on the FBI's list of "Most Wanted Terrorists" released by the George W Bush administration in October 2001, Zawahiri is now the world's most-wanted living terrorist. He was wanted by the US even before the 9/11 attacks targeting New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
He was indicted in absentia in 1999 for the August 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya that killed 224 people, and was also considered the mastermind of the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, which killed 17 sailors.
Zawahiri went into hiding after the US-led forces overthrew the Taliban regime in October 2001, in the remote region along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, never to be seen again. However, American intelligence agencies believe that Zawahiri is hiding somewhere in Pakistan. General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, told John King on CNN on May 3, 2011, a day after Bin Laden was killed that Zawahiri was "somewhere along the Pak-Afghan border".
Afterward, the US House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers said on May 15 that Zawahiri was most likely hiding in Pakistan. In an interview to a US television channel, Rogers said the US had known for years that Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders were living inside Pakistan.
Rogers said he knew that the Pakistanis had disclosed US operations and held back information, but believed the killing of Bin Laden may lead to more cooperation. "I hope they see this as an opportunity to be more cooperative, to be more open, to help us with other targets that we have in Pakistan that we are very interested in having apprehended and brought to justice. Zawahiri is a great example and I believe he is in Pakistan," Rogers added.
Therefore, the CIA has already marked Zawahiri as its next target and is vigorously pursuing its Pakistani counterparts to help them hunt him down.
United States intelligence sleuths believe Zawahiri shifted from his hideout in the FATA to some urban loc ality after escaping a drone strike on January 13, 2006, targeting Damadola village of Bajaur Agency in FATA that killed 18 people.
The attack was carried out on the basis of human intelligence provided by some former Pakistani intelligence sleuths, believed to be part of the Spider Group, which is being run by the CIA in the FATA, primarily to gather intelligence information about fugitive al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders as well as their activities.
But Zawahiri was lucky enough to have survived the strike as he had already left the targeted building much before it was hit. In an audio message released later, Zawahiri confirmed his presence in Bajaur Agency at the time of the missile strike: "US planes launched the assault under the pretext of wanting to kill my frail self and four of my companions. However, all of us have survived the attack by the grace of Allah Almighty."
However, credible indications of his presence in Pakistan came in the aftermath of the bloody Operation Silence, carried out by the Special Services Group of the Pakistan army in July 2007 in Islamabad against the fanatic clerics of Lal Masjid (Red Mosque).
As Pakistani security forces took control of the mosque after a fierce gun battle, they were astonished to discover letters written by Zawahiri to Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi and Maulana Abdul Aziz, the cleric brothers who ran the mosque and adjacent madrassa (seminary), directing them to conduct an armed revolt.
Zawahiri's Lal Masjid connection was confirmed when he later issued a videotape asking Pakistanis to join jihad in revenge for the Lal Masjid "bloodshed".
Zawahiri's four minute address was titled "The Aggression against Lal Masjid". The video was released by al-Qaeda's media wing, as-Sahab, and subtitled in English.
On August 1, 2008, CBS News reported that it had obtained a copy of an intercepted letter dated July 29, 2008, which urgently requested a doctor to treat Zawahiri. The letter indicated that Zawahiri was injured in a US missile strike at Azam Warsak village in South Waziristan on July 28. And last but not the least, following the May 2, 2011, killing of Bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad, the American intelligence community now strongly believes that he too may be hiding somewhere in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
During a joint session of the Pakistani parliament on May 13, which was held in the wake of the American raid that killed Bin Laden, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha reportedly told elected parliamentarians that Mullah Omar and Zawahiri could be hiding in Pakistan.
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