By Matthew Fricker, Avery Plaw and Brian Glyn Williams
Widely-cited reports of the inaccuracy and disproportionality of civilian to militant deaths in the CIA’s ongoing Predator drone campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan are grossly misleading. The most detailed database compiled to date, assembled by the authors of this article, indicates (among other important findings) that the strikes have not only been impressively accurate, but have achieved and maintained a greater proportionality than either ground operations in the area or targeting campaigns elsewhere. 
This finding is striking because highly critical reports over the last year, emanating in particular from the Pakistani press, have impugned both the accuracy of the CIA’s drone strikes in the tribal areas of that country and the proportionality of the civilian collateral damage they cause. In April 2009, for example, the Pakistani daily The News published an article by terrorism expert Amir Mir reporting Predator strikes had killed only 14 high value al-Qaeda targets but were responsible for 687 civilian fatalities – a 1:49 ratio of terrorist to civilians (The News [Islamabad], April 10, 2009; see also Terrorism Monitor, February 19). To put it another way, Mir’s report suggested that 98.14% of fatalities associated with the Predator strikes were civilians. On February 1 of this year, Mir added that Continue reading
Ironic that the United States has been perhaps the most pro-active and generous country in helping us with flood relief. Pakistanis, especially those were stranded for days are grateful for such a timely help. Contrary to the propaganda unleashed by several vested interests about how great friends China and the Muslim countries are, the US has proved to be our friend when we needed it the most. Yet, there will be many among the skeptics who would term this as ‘strategic’ given the state of things in dear homeland and in its neighbourhood. It is time that we acknowledge what needs to be acknowledged with no ifs and buts. Here is a fact sheet sent to Pak Tea House through reliable sources on the assistance so far. About time the self-styled US haters (rather entrenched in the country) take notice of this. US may have its own interests in stabilizing Pakistan, their response has been (and remains) substantive.
To date, the United States is providing approximately $150 million to support relief efforts in Pakistan, including funding for the operations of the Pakistan National Disaster Management Authority, the UN’s emergency relief plan, and the many local and international organizations responding to this disaster. These funds are also being used to provide critical supplies to flood affected populations.
The U.S. also is providing millions of dollars of additional in-kind and technical assistance. We are expanding pre existing programs in flood-affected areas, providing temporary bridges, and mobilizing significant U.S. military and civilian resources to rescue victims of the disaster and deliver needed supplies. U.S. military and civilian aircraft continue to support flood relief operations.
Through August 22, these aircraft have evacuated 7,835 people and delivered more than 1,600,000 pounds of relief supplies.
Latest Developments: Continue reading
Filed under disaster, USA
The Wikileaks’ damning half-truths pertain to the anti-war movement within the US. This has caused embarrassment to the US war architects and stirred the military industrial complex and its cousin, the corporate and embedded media. Similarly, what has been said about the role of Pakistan and its globally famed Inter Services Agency (ISI) is not something that is really a revelation and is more or less an open secret. Three important questions need to be considered before Wikileaks can be taken seriously.
Do field reports from individual sources, especially disgruntled, anti-Pakistan Afghan nationals constitute ‘evidence’? No. Is there sufficient evidence to substantiate the startling sensational pieces of information? Perhaps not. Is the Pakistan-ISI role central in the Taliban insurgency within Afghanistan? No clear answers can be determined due to the complexity of the Taliban resistance and the involvement of multiple players.<!–more–>
The ‘leaks’ identify that Pakistan, India and Iran are fully involved in the Afghan drama and singling out the ISI is not the whole truth regardless of whatever the western media says. Afghanistan is an occupied and fragmented country, far more layered than the simplified views from Washington, Islamabad or New Delhi. Continue reading
They say in Africa that when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. To this Julius Nyerere had once added that when elephants make love, the grass still suffers. Nyerere had made this witty remark at a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in the 1970’s. The organisation had been formed to extricate as much of the world from suffering the same fate as the grass in this African proverb, during the Cold War. Yet, it failed Afghanistan as most of NAM’s members were anything but non-aligned. Unfortunately, this included its leading lights.
The US decided to give the USSR a bloody nose in Afghanistan. It seemed no one cared for the poor country caught in the crossfire. Washington found Gen Zia ul Haq’s Pakistan to be a more than willing partner. For the Pakistani dictator, this was an unbelievably lucky opportunity to gain international ‘legitimacy’, even recognition. But for Afghanistan and her people this superpower showdown meant the worst misfortune, misery, death and destruction in the country’s history. The misery continues even two decades after one of the superpowers is no more.
The following article is a short trip down memory lane by an Afghan expat, Muhammad Qayoumi, for Foreign Policy (May 27, 2010). It is one glimpse, through a particular little window, of how three decades of war can push a country six centuries back in time. It is not claimed that Afghanistan did not have large areas which were, as it were, centuries behind parts of Kabul, Herat and Mazar e Sharif, even 30 years ago. But what is most saddening about this little window on the past is the realisation of the damage that has been done to the psyche of the Afghan people, regardless of who they were, where they lived and in which ‘century’. To regain self-confidence, and to let go of anxieties of more than one sort, would perhaps be the most difficult task faced by the Afghans in their efforts to try and rebuild their country. They will have to relearn to be Afghans, rediscover their own history and not only find hope and security, but once again get used to feeling hopeful and secure. They will have to learn to smile again. (bciv)
Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan…
Record stores, Mad Men furniture, and pencil skirts — when Kabul had rock ‘n’ roll, not rockets
On a recent trip to Afghanistan, British Defense Secretary Liam Fox drew fire for calling it “a broken 13th-century country.” The most common objection was not that he was wrong, but that he was overly blunt. He’s hardly the first Westerner to label Afghanistan as medieval. Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince recently described the country as inhabited by “barbarians” with “a 1200 A.D. mentality.” Many assume that’s all Afghanistan has ever been — an ungovernable land where chaos is carved into the hills. Given the images people see on TV and the headlines written about Afghanistan over the past three decades of war, many conclude the country never made it out of the Middle Ages. Continue reading
by NPR Staff
The CIA’s determination to roll back communism during the Cold War inadvertently allowed radical Islamists to gain a foothold in Europe, according to a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ian Johnson.
A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West details the Nazis’ attempts to create a fifth column within the Soviet empire by becoming allies with Muslim minorities living in the Soviet Union.
“The Soviet Union had oppressed Islam, closed many mosques and mistreated many minorities in the Soviet Union, including Muslims,” Johnson tells host Guy Raz. “After the Germans ended up with literally millions of Red Army POWs in the war, they began to realize that many of these were potential soldiers to fight the Soviet Union.”
The Times Square Bomber: Home-Grown Hatred?
By Ahmed Rashid
From The New York Review of Books
Published May 14, 2010
The Pakistani media is in a state of apoplexy about the would-be Times Square bomber, the Pakistani-born US citizen Faisal Shahzad. Predictably a great many commentators in the press and on the non-stop talk shows that run on over 25 TV news channels have discussed whether it was a CIA plot to embarrass Pakistan or provide an excuse for American troops to invade us: Was Shahzad an Indian or Israeli agent? And in any case, why should Washington hold Pakistan responsible, since he was an American citizen?
Not surprisingly, the Zardari government, the army, and Pakistani politicians have also muddied the waters. Although the government has said it will fully cooperate with US investigators seeking to find out which extremist groups trained Shahzad and where, Islamabad continues to fudge the paramount issue—the need for Pakistan to launch a comprehensive campaign against all extremist groups rather than the hit-and-miss anti-terrorism measures it is presently pursuing. That selective campaign leaves untouched the Afghan Taliban based in Pakistan—including Mullah Omar and other top leaders—who are not killing Pakistanis but are organizing attacks against US troops in Afghanistan; it also has ignored the Punjabi Taliban groups who have been attacking Indian nationals and government buildings in Kashmir, Kabul, and elsewhere, as well as killing numerous Pakistanis in suicide bombings in Lahore and other cities.
Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, FATA, Identity, Islamism, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, violence, War On Terror
In this post, we take a trip down the memory lane. Below we are reproducing the obituary of Quaid Muhammad Ali Jinnah that was published in the New York Times on September 13, 1948.
In a first glance, there is nothing in this obituary that we don’t know of today. The narrative may seem slightly odd for many among us who have gotten used to a fast paced narrative in the internet blog age. Yet, this narrative sheds light on Jinnah as the West saw him in the years immediately post partition of the Sub Continent. For starters, it seems that Jinnah’s death was quite an unexpected event for many observers at that time.
The obituary speculates on a succession struggle for Jinnah, the brain and the heart of the “Moslem” League. Unfortunately, the void that Jinnah left behind was never filled by any of his successors, or their successors, or the ones afterwards. That succession struggle did not play out on the political lines that the author had outlined. The struggle for Jinnah’s mantle assumed ideological proportions in the newly established state of Pakistan; a struggle that still plays out in the hearts and minds of Pakistanis. How Jinnah’s mantle will be inherited will define the course of Pakistan itself.