KARACHI: A report by the CID Special Branch has revealed that Taliban are present in the city.
According to details, the special branch additional IG has sent a written report to the DIG and Sindh Government about the secret hideouts of Taliban in the city. Sources in the report have revealed that Taliban, belonging to tribal areas, were residing in Sohrab Goth and Quaidabad in the small motels in the areas. Apart from that, the Taliban were also hiding in the hills of Manghopir and Orangi town as well as in other low-income areas and slums. The report said that the Taliban has huge caches of weapons and ammunition with them and they could take the city hostage at any point. Sources have also said that the Naib Ameer of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban, Hasan Mahmood, was also hiding in Karachi.
After the report, police and security personnel are said to be terrified, as already the MQM has said many times that the Taliban were in the city. Some time ago, on a tip off, Anti-Violent Crime Cell’s head SSP Farooq Awan, along with a police party, had raided a guesthouse in Sohrab Goth but the Taliban apprehended them instead. The Taliban were trying to execute the policemen when another police party intervened. Though the policemen managed to get away, two policemen died while Awan and 11 other policemen were seriously injured. After this operation, CID SSP Fayyaz Khan and Aslam Khan raided the location and arrested eight men who were said to be pro Taliban militants and were involved in the attack on Awan.
Meanwhile, on the directives of the Sindh government, a survey has been undertaken on the rest houses all over Karachi while police high-ups have asked for surveillance of these facilities.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
The bus was ambushed outside the town of Hangu in the country's troubled North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan and is plagued by sectarian violence as well as Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants.
'Unknown gunmen fired at the school van carrying Shia students. The driver was killed, two children were injured, while six appear to have been kidnapped by the attackers,' local police station chief Saeed Khan told AFP.
'Police are searching for the attackers in the nearby mountains,' he added, saying he had no further details about the missing students.
Hangu, which has been a flashpoint for sectarian violence in the past, is located about 175 kilometres west of Islamabad.
Shia and Sunni Muslim groups signed a peace accord in Hangu last month after days of sectarian clashes in which at least nine people were killed.
Shias account for about 20 per cent of Pakistan's 160-million-strong, Sunni-majority population....
Afghani Interior Minister Says There Are Between 10,000 To 15,000 Taliban Fighting In Afghanistan - cbs4.com
Mohammad Hanif Atmar offered a rare estimate of the size of his government's most organized and potent opponent during a visit to Washington. A large delegation of senior Afghan officials was in the U.S. capital this week, along with a delegation from Pakistan."..
[bth: this is the first count I've seen]
Vastly unpopular former president George W. Bush has said the invasion was the right decision, that opinion polls are fickle, and that history may vindicate him if Iraq emerges as a viable pro-Western democratic state.
But, for now, surveys show the US public has fiercely repudiated the war six years after it began, with 60 percent saying it was 'not worth it,' according to an ABC television poll released last week."...
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 119.15 points, or 1.7%, to end at 7062.93. The blue-chip benchmark ended down 937.93 points, or 11.72% on the month -- the worst percentage drop for February since 1933, when it fell 15.62%. The Dow industrials have fallen six months in a row and are now more than 50% off their record highs hit in October of 2007."
The S&P 500 fell 17.74 points, or 2.4%, to 735.09. Its financial sector dropped 6.5% and its health-care sector sank 4% on fears that President Barack Obama's reform plans will carve into the profits of drug makers and insurers. The S&P is off 53% from its October 2007 peak and has now seen its worst six-month drop in percentage terms -- 42.7% -- since 1932, when it dropped 45.44% in the six months ending in June.
Major market yardsticks broke through one long-term low after another this week, but the slide never quite gained intraday momentum akin to that seen during the market's late-2008 plunge. Many market veterans now expect the market to continue such a slog in the days ahead, with both new lows and short-term rallies likely....
Friday, February 27, 2009
CIA Director Porter J. Goss knew about the allegation when he hired Foggo to be the agency's executive director, its third highest official, an aide said Thursday."...
[bth: you read this and wonder how much of our CIA was compromised.]
Thursday, February 26, 2009
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is reversing an 18-year ban on news coverage of the return of war dead, allowing photographs of flag-covered caskets when families of the fallen troops agree, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.
"My conclusion was we should not presume to make the decision for the families," Gates said in announcing results of a quick review of a ban that had stood through Republican and Democratic administrations.
Although details are being worked out, the new policy will give families a choice of whether to admit the press to ceremonies at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the entry point to the United States for the caskets of overseas war dead.
President Barack Obama asked for a re-examination of the blanket ban and supports the decision to change it, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.
"I have always believed that the decision as to how to honor our fallen heroes should be left up to the families," Vice President Joe Biden said. "The past practice didn't account for a family's wishes and I believed that was wrong."...
[bth: about time. This was instituted for political reasons in Nov 2003 to hide the cost of this war after Rove met with Bush to plan their 2004 election strategy. He also banned senior administration officials and officers from attending funerals which for the most part was enforced.]
The Afghan National Police continues to lag behind the Afghan National Army in its readiness to take on its duties without outside help. Most Afghan police units still are rated at the lowest capability level, but last year, for the first time, a few police units reached the top rating.
Police development in Afghanistan has been hindered by lack of institutional reform, widespread corruption, insufficient US military trainers and advisors, and a lack of unity of effort within the international community. However, recent initiatives are attempting to address these problems....
[bth: this has almost certainly got to be some of the best uses of our money. Train local police. One wonders why we can't get more allied help here on this topic.]
$0.00, not counting fuel and handling: that is the cheapest quote right now if you want to ship a container from southern China to Europe. Back in the summer of 2007 the shipper would have charged $1,400. Half-empty freighters are just one sign of a worldwide collapse in manufacturing. In Germany December's machine-tool orders were 40 percent lower than a year earlier. Half of China's 9,000 or so toy exporters have gone bust. Taiwan's shipments of notebook computers fell by a third in the month of January. The number of cars being assembled in America was 60 percent below January 2008.
The destructive global power of the financial crisis became clear last year. The immensity of the manufacturing crisis is still sinking in, largely because it is seen in national terms-indeed, often nationalistic ones. In fact manufacturing is also caught up in a global whirlwind.
Industrial production fell in the latest three months by 3.6 percent and 4.4 percent respectively in America and Britain (equivalent to annual declines of 13.8 percent and 16.4 percent). Some locals blame that on Wall Street and the City. But the collapse is much worse in countries more dependent on manufacturing exports, which have come to rely on consumers in debtor countries. Germany's industrial production in the fourth quarter fell by 6.8 percent; Taiwan's by 21.7 percent; Japan's by 12 percent-which helps to explain why GDP is falling even faster there than it did in the early 1990s (see article). Industrial production is volatile, but the world has not seen a contraction like this since the first oil shock in the 1970s-and even that was not so widespread. Industry is collapsing in eastern Europe, as it is in Brazil, Malaysia and Turkey. Thousands of factories in southern China are now abandoned. Their workers went home to the countryside for the new year in January. Millions never came back (see article).
Having bailed out the financial system, governments are now being called on to save industry, too. Next to scheming bankers, factory workers look positively deserving. Manufacturing is still a big employer and it tends to be a very visible one, concentrated in places like Detroit, Stuttgart and Guangzhou. The failure of a famous manufacturer like General Motors (GM) would be a severe blow to people's faith in their own prospects when a lack of confidence is already dragging down the economy. So surely it is right to give industry special support?
Despite manufacturing's woes, the answer is no. There are no painless choices, but industrial aid suffers from two big drawbacks. One is that government programmes, which are slow to design and amend, are too cumbersome to deal with the varied, constantly changing difficulties of the world's manufacturing industries. Part of the problem has been a drying-up of trade finance. Nobody knows how long that will last. Another part has come as firms have run down their inventories (in China some of these were stockpiles amassed before the Beijing Olympics). The inventory effect should be temporary, but, again, nobody knows how big or lasting it will be.
The other drawback is that sectoral aid does not address the underlying cause of the crisis-a fall in demand, not just for manufactured goods, but for everything. Because there is too much capacity (far too much in the car industry), some businesses must close however much aid the government pumps in. How can governments know which firms to save or the "right" size of any industry? That is for consumers to decide. Giving money to the industries with the loudest voices and cleverest lobbyists would be unjust and wasteful. Shifting demand to the fortunate sector that has won aid from the unfortunate one that has not will only exacerbate the upheaval. One country's preference for a given industry risks provoking a protectionist backlash abroad and will slow the long-run growth rate at home by locking up resources in inefficient firms.
Nothing to lose but their supply chains
Some say that manufacturing is special, because the rest of the economy depends on it. In fact, the economy is more like a network in which everything is connected to everything else, and in which every producer is also a consumer. The important distinction is not between manufacturing and services, but between productive and unproductive jobs.
Some manufacturers accept that, but proceed immediately to another argument: that the current crisis is needlessly endangering productive, highly skilled manufacturing jobs. Nowadays each link in the supply chain depends on all the others. Carmakers cite GM's new Camaro, threatened after a firm that makes moulded-plastic parts went bankrupt. The car industry argues that the loss of GM itself would permanently wreck the North American supply chain (see article). Aid, they say, can save good firms to fight another day.
Although some supply chains have choke points, that is a weak general argument for sectoral aid. As a rule, suppliers with several customers, and customers with several suppliers, should be more resilient than if they were a dependent captive of a large group. The evidence from China is that today's lack of demand creates the spare capacity that allows customers to find a new supplier quickly if theirs goes out of business. When that is hard, because a parts supplier is highly specialised, say, good management is likely to be more effective than state aid. The best firms monitor their vital suppliers closely and buy parts from more than one source, even if it costs money. In the extreme, firms can support vulnerable suppliers by helping them raise cash or by investing in them....
[bth: components and motors that took days to get from europe and asia last year now take weeks and in some cases months. Distributor inventories have been hollowed out and they have trouble setting up lines of credit for international shipments. This is making the work in process costs skyrocket and decreasing productivity.]
Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse? | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse?
Poisonous anthrax that killed five Americans in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks doesn't match bacteria from a flask linked to Bruce Ivins, the researcher who committed suicide after being implicated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a scientist said.
Spores used in the deadly mailings "share a chemical 'fingerprint' that is not found in the flask linked to Bruce Ivins," Roberta Kwok wrote in Nature News, citing Joseph Michael, a scientist at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Michael analyzed letters sent to the New York Post and offices of Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, and found a distinct "chemical signature" not present in the flask known as RMR-1029, which Ivins could access in his laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
``Spores from two of those show a distinct chemical signature that includes silicon, oxygen, iron, and tin; the third letter had silicon, oxygen, iron and possibly also tin,'' Kwok wrote. ``Bacteria from Ivins' RMR-1029 flask did not contain any of those four elements.''...
[bth: WTF? Did the FBI just frame a guy? Drive him to suicide?]
Chief Military Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying Wednesday that some officers and businessmen shipped the weapons"to the ex-Soviet republic of Tajikistan for smuggling to neighboring China.
Fridinsky said the stolen weapons included 30 anti-submarine missiles and about 200 bombs. He didn't elaborate, and his office refused to comment.
Russian Navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo later issued a statement saying the navy cooperated with military prosecutors to thwart an attempt to smuggle navy weapons abroad but didn't give any further details.
The Interfax news agency said the alleged criminal group could involve several admirals. It said the suspects had allegedly pocketed $1.6 million of state funds under the guise of dismantling the ammunition they smuggled....
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Well-placed security sources have told Adnkronos International (AKI) that the militants agreed to lay down their arms and endorse the deal between the government and local leader Sufi Mohammad to impose Sharia law in the region.
'The amount has been paid through a backchannel, ' a senior security official told AKI on condition of anonymity."...
Erdogan's remarks came as the US state department finally appointed the veteran Clinton administration diplomat Dennis Ross as a special envoy responsible for tackling the difficult Iran issue. Ross, whose experience has been in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has been given the title of special adviser to the Gulf and south-west Asia. In an article published last September, Ross advocated that the initial approach to Iran should be through a "direct, secret back channel...
[bth: this seems like an offer worth accepting.]
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
.....Prof. Hoffman noted the manual's insistence on understanding the enemy's "narrative" might be its biggest accomplishment. Defined as a plausible story that illustrates real or perceived injustices and grievances, the narrative could also be described as an uprising's founding cause.
"Similar to propaganda, most narratives will possess, at the very least, a kernel of truth but may also include substantial amounts of mythology," the book says. Regardless of their origins and their ideology, the manual continues, the grievances can be legitimate, and a "certain amount of empathy may be justified in dealing with insurgents."
Understanding the root of the grievance, Prof. Hoffman says, helps the military separate the enemy combatants who are fighting for ideology, or those who signed up for money. "You identify and isolate the extremists, and bolster the moderates."
A common pitfall, it explains, imposing one's own values on others. "Such an assumption and situation risks creating or exacerbating the perception that foreigners are trying to impose values and beliefs at odds with those of the indigenous population.....
The Pakistan and Afghanistan problems are not as closely linked as one might think. From the point of view of the United States there are two separable problems involved:
- How do we prevent the use of Afghanistan as a planning and support base for further attacks on the United States and NATO? The answer to this question lies in the fractured nature of Afghanistan "society." The Taliban and various factional elements are nothing like monoliths. These collections of people can be disaggregated and many of the people now thought of as enemies can be used against Al-Qa'ida and other hard core "takfiri jihadi" groups. How does one do that? It is done with money and a modicum of sympathetic listening. This is how it was done in Iraq and that is how it can be done in Afghanistan as well. Will the ensuing situation be "messy?" Certainly. Will a new and shining Afghanistan emerge from application of this method? No. So what! The citizens of the United States should not be the self appointed "guardians" of the inhabitants of the world. The United States is fast becoming a poor country. If we launch a full blown COIN driven nation building effort in Afghanistan, that effort will be paid for with borrowed money or with fiat money. One path probably leads to a deflationary spiral and the other to massive inflation. We can afford neither eventuality. Let us restrict our efforts in Afghanistan to a minimalist focus on disrupting our enemies.
-The larger issues involved in the Indo-Pakistani hundred years war and the stability of Pakistan's nuclear armed forces are the most important foreign policy problems facing the Obama Administration. The tribes in the FATA do not have nuclear weapons and neither do their Al-Qa'ida acquaintances. The Pakistan Air Force has them. Pakistan hovers on the perpetual brink of instability not because of Islamist agitaion in Waziristan or Swat, but rather because of the unending threat of war with a much stronger India. This is Pakistan's birth legacy, the result of the artificial creation of a state founded in the idea of religious exclusivity. Richard Holbrook is a famous diplomatist. The resolution of the Indo-Pakistani situation is a suitable field for his efforts. He clearly relishes the prospect.
We seem to have a problem linking the economic tragedy now developing in the United States to the limits of our real options overseas.
First, we are not going to establish a stable democracy there by Western standards. The best we can hope for is a continuing series of governments more or less democractic and more or less dogmatically Islamic. The goal should be to set up a overarching workable framework of a government in Kabul that can play the game of balancing off the different tribes around the country.
Second, we need to recognize that we will have a long term presence in the area based on the simple premise that we cannot tolerate another Taliban regime that tolerates/enables an Al Queda presence. That does not mean a large scale troop presence. Instead, our policy should focus on special operations that clearly show occasional force to make the point stick -- such as the continued raids into the Federated (FATA) regions in Pakistan. And while they will complain publicly, Islamabad will accept this as part of our area strategy because it frees them from having to deal with it.
Third, focus on the policies that are working and have worked in places like Iraq and Colombia. Let's pay off the local officials in cash to stay on our side. Americans don't like this approach, but it is working in Iraq and it works fast.
In the longer term, as in Colombia, crop substitition is a way of ameliorating the poppy production and squeezing terrorist financing. This must be conbined with a larger presence of local troops in the area to make this change stick. And we must make sure Kabul is paying these troops enough to not fall into the oppositions pay.
Bottom line: all the US can do is stablize Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from coming back and keep picking on the remains of Al Queda. Anything more is waste of manpower and resources....
Choosing the question of the week is the prerogative of those who moderate this blog. With all due respect, I do not believe they are exercising their prerogative wisely. This has been my impression for some time now. This week's question illustrates the problem in spades.
For the United States at this point to fixate on how to "win" in Afghanistan (your quotes -- and they are indeed appropriate) is the equivalent of present-day GM executives devoting themselves to the cause of building a better Hummer.
The question serves little purpose other than to divert attention from other far more pressing concerns. Here are three examples:
1). It's become commonplace to describe the Afghan problem and the Pakistani problem as intimately linked. What exactly is that link? Are we dealing with two problems or with one? And if one, what exactly is the nature of that problem? Addressing this difficult question head on is a matter of considerable urgency lest our efforts to win in Afghanistan have the unintended consequence of making matters in Pakistan even worse. My own view is that covert US efforts in Pakistan intended to improve security in Afghanistan are quite likely to produce such unintended consequences. (It's hard to tell -- the defining feature of a covert war is that the enemy knows what's going on while it's the American public that is kept in the dark).
2). With the Bush administration now thankfully departed from office and its expectations of engineering a democratic transformation of the Islamic world discredited, what exactly is US strategy for the so-called Long War? Does some larger sense of purpose inform US policy? Or are decisions simply made as a response to events, e.g., when conditions deteriorate somewhere we send more troops in hopes of stabilizing things? Unless we can identify an overarching strategic purpose, it becomes exceedingly difficult to gauge how much we should be willing to spend in order to "win" in one particular and exceedingly distant theater of that war.
3). What are the implications of our current economic crisis for our basic conception of national security policy -- global leadership, global presence, global power projection? Our policies have now more than satisfied Walter Lippmann's definition of insolvency -- ends and means are wildly out of balance. If the economy rights itself next week or next month, the problem might solve itself. But that's not going to happen. Might it not make sense for the United States to consider at this point the value of reducing its commitments? If so, where should Afghanistan fit on the list of places that demand our continuing attention?
I know that you can have a lively and interesting exchange on Afghanistan as such. I simply believe that it will be largely beside the point.
“The government has released two (of) our men and soon they will release the third,' said Muslim Khan, the spokesman for the Swat Taliban. 'The government violated the agreement by arresting our men in Peshawar and killing [another] in Dir that is why we had to do this.”"...
[bth: part of the ongoing catch and release program in Pakistan]
Waziristan Taliban alliance declares support for Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar - The Long War Journal
North Waziristan Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar and South Waziristan leaders Mullah Nazir and Baitullah Mehsud put aside differences last week and created the Council of United Mujahideen. Previously, Nazir and Bahadar had feuded with Baitullah due to tribal disputes as well as Baitullah’s rising power as the senior leader of the Pakistani Taliban."...
The deadly strikes on an African Union base killed 11 Burundi soldiers and seriously wounded 15 more. Shabaab spokesman Muktar Robow took credit for the bombings and named the two attackers, claiming that 'they inflicted heavy damage on soldiers at a church.'
Shabaab, the al Qaeda-linked Islamist terror group, has vowed to attack African Union troops who are in the country attempting to restore order in the war-torn country.
'We will attack the bases of the occupying forces in K4 and the airport until the last foreign forces leave our country,' Robow said at a news conference at the end of January as Ethiopian forces pulled out of Mogadishu."...
But the non-event marks another milestone in the increasingly complex political and legal battle between Rove and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI). Last week, Obama's acting assistant attorney general quietly filed a court brief saying it was necessary to delay the effort to force Rove's deposition in the congressional investigation.
'The president is very sympathetic to those who want to find out what happened,' Obama White House Counsel Gregory Craig said February 14th. 'But he is also mindful as president of the United States not to do anything that would undermine or weaken the institution of the presidency. So, for that reason, he is urging both sides of this to settle.'"...
[bth: Rove knows that Obama wants power more than truth. Cheney knows that too and said so before leaving office. Rove will skate.]
Monday, February 23, 2009
Harvard expert nominated for key Pentagon post - 2008 Presidential Campaign Blog - Political Intelligence - Boston.com
The choice of Carter to run the office that oversees hundreds of billions of dollars for new weapons and research -- and the focus of intense lobbying by defense firms, retired generals, and members of Congress -- has been rumored for weeks. And word of his pending nomination has already sparked concern within the defense industry and some of the Pentagon bureaucracy.
But that may be exactly what Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates want."...
[bth: well now that is going to be interesting]
Between 2003 and 2007 — as many military families dealt with long war deployments and increased numbers of home foreclosures — Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years, the charity packed away $117 million into its own reserves while spending just $64 million on direct aid, according to an AP analysis of its tax records.
Tax-exempt and legally separate from the military, AER projects a facade of independence but really operates under close Army control. The massive nonprofit — funded predominantly by troops — allows superiors to squeeze soldiers for contributions; forces struggling soldiers to repay loans — sometimes delaying transfers and promotions; and too often violates its own rules by rewarding donors, such as giving free passes from physical training, the AP found.
Founded in 1942, AER eases cash emergencies of active-duty soldiers and retirees and provides college scholarships for their families. Its emergency aid covers mortgage payments and food, car repairs, medical bills, travel to family"...
The Americans are mostly Army Special Forces soldiers who are training Pakistani Army and paramilitary troops, providing them with intelligence and advising on combat tactics, the officials said. They do not conduct combat operations, the officials added.
They make up a secret task force, overseen by the United States Central Command and Special Operations Command. It started last summer, with the support of Pakistan’s government and military, in an effort to root out Qaeda and Taliban operations that threaten American troops in Afghanistan and are increasingly destabilizing Pakistan. It is a much larger and more ambitious effort than either country has acknowledged.
Pakistani officials have vigorously protested American missile strikes in the tribal areas as a violation of sovereignty and have resisted efforts by Washington to put more troops on Pakistani soil. President Asif Ali Zardari, who leads a weak civilian government, is trying to cope with soaring anti-Americanism among Pakistanis and a belief that he is too close to Washington.
Despite the political hazards for Islamabad, the American effort is beginning to pay dividends. ...
[bth: you can set your watch around leaks like this. They are timed to show Pakistani cooperation with Washington just before the visit of high level Pakistani officers and policiticians to Washington. Next you will hear that we have given Pakistan's army special finincial assistance - bribes - and that they have captured some mid-level al Qaeda operative. Oh wait, this 'secret' group referenced in this article DID capture a mid level Saudi operative. ... So after these generals leave, about spring time, there will be a hostage exchange and that operative will be freed.... oh and if we really pay up, those supply routes might be temporarily reopened.]
Sunday, February 22, 2009
President Barack Obama this week announced that he was ordering an additional 17,000 American troops to Afghanistan, more than half the reinforcements that ground commanders have been seeking for months.
By providing that half a loaf, the new president hopes to buy some time to absorb and analyze new strategic studies of a protracted, long-neglected war that's been going south on us at an alarming pace.
America’s ground commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. David McKiernan, welcomed the news of the reinforcements that'll be on their way this spring and summer, but in a frank assessment of the situation, he said that we are "at best stalemated" in the war against a resilient, home-grown enemy that's proving to be very adaptable and dangerous.
McKiernan added, in what may be an understatement, that, "Even with these additional forces, I have to tell you that 2009 is going to be a tough year."...