Thursday 10 October 2013

Presidential runners and riders

Here is a complete list of registered runners and riders for next year's elections for President, listed in the chronological order of their registration:
1- Bismillah Sher
First vice president, Abdul Karim Ahmadyar
Second vice president, Sultan Hamid Sultani

2- Dr. Abdullah Abdullah
First vice president, Mohammad Khan
Second vice president, Mohammad Mohaqiq

3- Fazl Karim Najmi
First vice president, Mohammad Sabir Takmeen
Second vice president, Susan Hajati

4- Abdul Rabb Rasul Sayyaf
First vice president, Mohammad Ismail Khan
Second vice president, Abdul Wahab Urfan

5- Hashmat Ghani Ahmadzai
First vice president, Abdullah Bromand
Second vice president, Abed Nazar

6- Qutbuddin Hilal
First vice president, Enayatullah Enayat
Second vice president, Mohammad Ali Nabizada

7- Abdul Rahim Wardak
First vice president, Shah Abdul Ahad Afzali
Second vice president, Sayed Hussian Anwari

8- Del Agha Kohdamani
First vice president, Zalmai Hamraz
Second vice president, Toorpakai Azizi

9- Sayed Ishaq Gailani
First vice president, Zakaria Noori
Second vice president, Seema Ismati

10- Sarwar Ahmadzai
First vice president, Abdul Rahman
Second vice president, Kabir Quraishi

11- Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai
First vice president, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum
Second vice president, Sarwar Danish

12- Dr. Zalmai Rasoul
First vice president, Ahmad Zia Massoud
Second vice president, Habiba Surabi

13- Sardar Muhammad Nadir Naeem
First vice president, Taj Mohammad Akbar
Second vice president, Azizullah Puya

14- Hamidullah Qaderi
First vice president, Mohammad Arif Baraki
Second vice president, Humaira Haqmal

15- Daoud Sultanzoy
First vice president, Ahmad Saeedi
Second vice president, Kazima Mohaqiq

16- Qayum Karzai
First vice president, Wahidullah Shahrani
Second vice president, Ibrahim Qasmi

17- Gul Agha Sherzai
First vice president, Sayed Hussain Alimi Balkhi
Second vice president, Mohammad Hashim Zarea

18- Azizullah Ludin
First vice president, Abdul Rahim Karimi
Second vice president, Hamidullah Rahimi

19- Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi
First vice president, Hashmatullah Mujadidi
Second vice president, Ismail Qasimyar

20- Hedayat Amin Arsala
First vice president, Gen. Khudaidad
Second vice president, Safia Seddiqi

21- Salman Ali Doostzadeh
First vice president, Mohammad Yousuf Amin
Second vice president, Aziza Rahban Wardak

22- Farooq Azam
First vice president, Abdul Ghani Asalati
Second vice president, Ahmad Shah Payeezi

23- Khadija Ghaznawi
First vice president, Mohammad Qasim Fayezai
Second vice president, Khair Mohammad Barez

24- Nadir Shah Ahmadzai
First vice president, Faiz Mohammad Daqiq
Second vice president, Qadam Ali Khadim

25- Abdul Hadi Dabeer
First vice president, Sayed Ahmadullah Padshah
Second vice president, Mawlawi Nesar Ahmad Khair Andish

26- Noor Rahman Liwal
First vice president, Ahamad Jan Nazar
Second vice president, Rafiullah

27- Dr. Dawar Nadin
First vice president, Mohammad Hassan Safi
Second vice president, Husai Andar

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Marine generals sacked for Camp Bastion failings

When a small group of Taliban fighters cut through the fence and got into the massive Camp Bastion in southwestern Helmand province in September last year I wrote the following:
"The Camp Bastion night attack will go down as one of the most one-sided and audacious attacks in the history of modern warfare. Around 15-20 Taliban got into the base - home to 21,000 US and British soldiers - and proceeded to destroy six US Marine Harrier AV-8B jump jets, as well as damage many others. The cost to the Taliban, besides the deaths of its fighters, was probably no more than a few thousand dollars. The costs to the Coalition runs into hundreds of millions of dollars".

It has taken a year for the American military's most senior commanders to respond to the attack, but now they have done so. In what has been referred to as an "unprecedented" decision, the two senior American officers at the base have been retired from the service ie sacked.
Major General Charles M Gurganus and Major General Gregg A Sturdevant "did not take the necessary steps to ensure force protection," says the official inquiry, resulting in the deaths of two marines and injury to eight others, as well as massive loss of aircraft and equipment. Gurganus was commanding general of Regional Command Southwest and I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) and Sturdevant was commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. 
In announcing the decision, Marine Corps commandant General James F Amos said: "This is the hardest decision I've had to make as commandant of the Marine Corps. I'm not asking you to feel sorry for me, but Mark Gurganus and Greg Sturdevant were close personal friends of mine. I served with them for decades. They're extraordinary Marine officers who have served their country with distinction and honor for many years. But commandership is a sacred responsibility and the standard for general officers is necessarily high. In their duty to protect our forces these two generals did not meet that standard." Quite so. They were outwitted by a bunch of peasant guerrillas.

If you want to read the official US Army report into the attack, you can find it here.

The banality of modern warfare.

For the majority of people outside Afghanistan, the war has largely been forgotten. Operations are winding down, they say, there is talk of peace and, anyway, Syria is a much more pressing issue. In was in that context that I was struck by this news report I read yesterday. In itself, it appears to be nothing unusual - ANSF and Coalition forces killed a number of Taliban fighters overnight in what are termed "clean-up" operations. But look further down the report: "More than 550 militants have been killed and 250 arrested since the beginning of this month".

22 militants killed in Afghan raids in 24 hours: official
KABUL, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Twenty-two militants were killed in operations in Afghanistan, the country's Interior Ministry said Sunday morning.

"In past 24 hours, Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), supported by the NATO-led coalition troops, conducted several cleanup operations in Nangarhar, Faryab, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Herat, Helmand and Nimroz provinces. As a result 22 armed Taliban were killed, 12 wounded and eight others were arrested by the ANSF," the ministry said in a statement providing daily operational updates.
They also found and seized weapons and defused roadside bomb, it noted.
The ANSF has intensified operations against Taliban and other militant groups recently. More than 550 militants had been killed and 250 arrested since beginning this month, according the figure released by the ministry.
In eastern Wardak province, seven Taliban, including a local leader Mawlawi Enhan, were killed in a joint overnight operation in Nirkh district, a provincial government spokesman told Xinhua.
The Taliban insurgent group has not made comments yet.

Every day, week-in, week-out, for months, if not for years, the Afghan defence ministry and the ISAF command have been reporting this level of casualties amongst the Taliban. Assuming that the figures are accurate, it is worth making a few points: first, generally these deaths are not occurring during firefights. They are usually as a result of night raids - where special forces arrive by helicopter in planned operations that are intelligence-led. The aim is to kill known individuals, preferably commanders and facilitators.
Second, seldom do these reports, which are issued on a daily basis, mention the collateral damage - the civilians who get in the way or the faulty intelligence that results in the wrong people being killed or captured. We just have the bland figures. Another month, another 500 or so people killed in Afghanistan.
Just in case you had forgotten the banality of modern, murderous warfare.

Monday 30 September 2013

Dutch publish lists of those killed during the late 1970s

Here is the link to the Dutch public prosecutor's lists of almost 5,000 Afghans murdered during the period when the country was ruled by the Communist Party in the late 1970s. The Death Lists consist of rows of names, mostly in alphabetic order. With those names are mentioned: father’s name, occupation, place of origin and an accusation.
Examples of such accusations are: echwani, ashrar and Maoist anti-revolutionary. On each list, a date between 1978 and 1979 is written. On some lists, there is a Government-stamp. The Transfer Orders give names as well, together with the names of parents, occupation and place of origin. These documents also contain information about the locations where those involved were interrogated and detained.
The documents were obtained in the course of a criminal investigation into the alleged involvement of an Afghan male residing in the Netherlands in war crimes and enforced disappearances, committed in Afghanistan in 1978-1979. The suspect was the former chief of the Interrogation Department of the Afghan Security Service AGSA - predecessor to the KAM, KhAD and WAD. In this capacity, say the Dutch, he was involved in torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. The suspect died in March 2012, shortly before he was due to be arrested.
The dates on the Transfer Orders give information about the dates of interrogation and detention. Furthermore, the Transfer Orders bear the name and the signature of the involved officials. One of those officials was the deceased suspect.
The authenticity of the documents is not in question. According to the Dutch: "The original Transfer Orders were handed to the Netherlands Police by the now deceased Afghan Mirwais Wardak, editor of the book ‘The Hard Evidence of the Crimes of Khalq and Parcham’. According to the Netherlands Forensic Institute, the emblem found on the documents as well as the printing technique and ink used to sign them, match the years 1978-1980. Several survivors whose names are mentioned in the Transfer Orders, have confirmed to the Netherlands Police that the information contained in those documents is correct. Around the dates mentioned and together with the other persons listed, they have indeed been handed over to AGSA and were subsequently transferred to the mentioned prisons, such as the Pul-i-Charkhi and the Deh Mazang."
They add that the Death Lists were handed to the Netherlands Police by a witness who received them years ago from former United Nations Rapporteur for Afghanistan Felix Ermacora. The accuracy of the contents of the Death Lists is confirmed by the accounts of surviving relatives. One witness has confirmed that her family members whose names appear on the Death Lists were indeed arrested and subsequently disappeared in the relevant time-frame. Finally, the information in the Death Lists is consistent with information contained in the Transfer Orders. In several cases, there are matches between identifying information in both sets of documents.

Thursday 25 July 2013

John Stanton's writings on the Human Terrain System

US security writer John Stanton has written many articles over the last few years on the US Army's Human Terrain System, some of which have been referenced by this blog. Now 115 of his pieces have been published as a collection. The US Army Terrain System 2008-2013: The Program from Hell costs just $6.66 (ooh er!!), but is worth every penny.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Anti-IED contract failures spotted by SIGAR

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction continues to publish the results of investigations into contracting fraud. The latest, Improvised Explosive Devices: Unclear whether culvert denial systems to protect troop are functioning or were ever installed, doesn't wait for the punchline to let you know the result.
The report points out that IEDs are increasingly popular with the insurgents, with IED events increasing from 9,300 in 2009 to 16,000 in 2011 - an increase of 42 per cent.
To combat IEDs, roads are now built with culvert denial systems - in fact, reinforced metal bars embedded in concrete - to prevent explosives being laid in the drainage channels.
A preliminary SIGAR inquiry has now found that at least two Afghan contractors, with contracts of at least $1 million, have committed fraud by billing the US government for the installation of 250 culvert denial systems that were either never installed or incorrectly installed. Both have been arrested and charged with fraud and negligent homicide.
SIGAR says it has not been able to determine the total number of such contracts, although they says that "From our review of these contracts, we identified at least 2500 specific grid points where culvert denial systems were supposed to be installed, though with the lack of quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) documentation in the contract files, it is not clear how many of those culvert denial systems were actually completed."

Friday 19 July 2013

More from the Abbottabad Commission report

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the Abbottabad Commission report is one of the most important documents to have come out of Pakistan for many years. It is full of insights into how Pakistan really operates - public officials that appear to know little about their specialist area, numerous examples of gross incompetence, buck-passing and massive corruption. Here are a few more snippets. However, I urge readers to read a copy of the report, even if, by all accounts, the final version was watered down to placate the Army and intelligence services.

Para 135 - "Major Aziz's remarks about Lt Col Saeed Iqbal are potentially significant as they could reveal about CIA network in Pakistan. Lt Col. Saeed Iqbal, according to Major Aziz employed former ISI employhees in his security business. Although he appears to be a very suspicious person and may well have played an active role in facilitating the Abbottabad incident, the ISI informed the Commission that neither Major Aziz nor Lt Col. Saeed, despite their suspicious background play any such role. This conclusion is somewhat strange as Saeed Iqbal left Pakistan immediately after the incident and attempted to sell his properties."

Para 149 - "At minimum, police or security/intelligence officials should have noticed a few other things. There were no visitors to the OBL Compound. There were no television cable or telephone lines. No rubbish was collected. There were 18 feet high walls at places and barbed wire. There was a 7-foot screening on the top wall. This was a security feature, not a purdah requirement. The children did not go to school. The size of the Compound expanded over time. There were no security guards. None of this negligence necessarily implied connivance. But it does suggest gross negligence at the very least."

Para 187 - "The Home Secretary (of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa -ed) and the civilian administration were similarly out of the loop despite their clear responsibilities. Their actual role in counter-terrorism was at best marginal, and in the tracking of OBL it was precisely zero. While there can be no excuse for this 'acceptance of realities' by senior officials, it has to be noted that they functioned in a very perverse political and administrative environment in which insistence on the correct performance of duty was often rewarded with severe punishment."

Para 217-220 - "During the seminar Afridi (Dr Shakeel Afridi) said he met the head of Save the Children, an Australian named Mr Michael McGrath...He said he wanted to launch a Save the Children Program in Bara and asked for Afridi's advice. He suggested to Afridi they meet in Islamabad to discuss the matter in greater detail...
McGrath appeared very concerned that no more than 5 per cent of the funds were being used properly. The rest was pocketed by various people. He asked for Afridi's assistance and offered to pay him for his efforts. He also wanted to know why Mangalbagh opposed the STC program. He wanted to know who funded Mangalbagh and who were in his Shura. He said Save the Children would request the Government of Pakistan to clear the area of extremists opposed to the program.
After a few meetings in Islamabad, Afridi said he was introduced by McGrath to an American woman called 'Kate'. Afridi assumed responsibility for various components of the Save the Children Prorgam including hepatitis which was on the rise in FATA. A vaccination program was launched in FATA which was very successful....
During the whole of 2010 he regularly met 'Kate'. Their meetings took place at a USAID warehouse the location of which Afridi did not know because he claimed he was always taken there in a vehicle with tinted glass windows."

Para 233 - "Only a fair trial based on due process can establish the extent and nature of his (Dr Shakeel Afridi's) involvement. While he should stand trial, convicting him on trumped up charges by a government-sponsored tribal jirga was not a proper course as it completely undermined the credibility of the country and its judicial process It was a travesty which allowed critics to argue the government had no real case against Afridi. The Commission, on the contrary, finally believes Afridi in fact has a case to answer.

Thursday 18 July 2013

More great quotes from the Abbottabad Commission report - 2

Here are some more quotes from the Abbottabad Commission report, to date the most comprehensive account of bin Laden' stay in that city. The report is a goldmine of information which indicates that there is still much that is unknown about bin Laden's movements and connections in Pakistan.

"They (the wives and children of bin Laden-ed) were able to take only a few possessions with them. Of their valuables they could find nothing except for two or three gold 'biscuits' of ten tolas each. The Americans had taken away a jewel box with twenty gold biscuits and two gold lockets with emeralds. They also took a purse that contained the will of Osama bin Laden. Khairiyyah (bin Laden's eldest wife-ed) had previously read the will but did not wish to divulge the details. She said it was not political and pertained only to personal and family related matters. Other reports suggested that the will said his children should not seek the leadership of al-Qaeda."

"Ibrahim, (one of bin Laden's two guards in Abbottabad) had been with him ever since he was introduced to him by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Ibrahim and KSM had practically grown up together in Kuwait and were as close as brothers."

"During their six-year stay in Abbottabad, Maryam (Ibrahim's wife) never once saw OBL!"

"With regard to the capture of the Bali bomber Umar Patek in Abbottabad reportedly in January 2011, it was very likely that his al-Qaeda support network had contact with the al-Qaeda network of support for OBL. The local ISI did not probe this possibility although it had been tracking al-Qaeda in the area for at least two years. During this time it did not solicit the cooperation of the civil administration including the police. The interrogation of the Umar Patek network members should have turned up actionable information. What had brought Umar Patek to Abbottabad? Had he come to meet OBL as his Indonesian interrogators later claimed? ....It seems the ISI never developed any real intelligence on what Umar Patek had come to Abbottabad for beyond the romantic story of going to Afghanistan to seek martyrdom. Moreover, Abbottabad does not lie on the usual routes to Afghanistan....It would seem very likely that Patek, despite his denial, had come to seek instructions or inspiration from OBL."

Adnan Rasheed's letter to Malala Yousafzai

Here is the text of the letter sent by Pakistan Taliban member Adnan Rasheed to Malala Yousafzai via Pakistani journalists:

From Adnan Rasheed to Malala Yousafzai:
Peace to those who follow the guidance
Miss Malala Yousafzai,
I am writing to you in my personal capacity [and] this may not be the opinion or policy of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or other jihadi faction or group.
I heard about you through BBC Urdu service for the first time when I was in Bannu Prison. At that time I wanted to write to you, to advise you to refrain from the anti-Taliban activities you were involved in. But I could not find your address and I was still thinking whether to approach you with real or pseudonym, as all my emotions were brotherly for you because we belong to same Yousafzai tribe.
Meanwhile the prison break happened and I was supposed to be in hiding. When you were attacked it was shocking for me and I wished it would never happened and that I had advised you before the Taliban attacked you. Was it Islamically [sic] correct or wrong, or you deserved to be killed or not, I will not go into this argument now—let’s leave it to Allah Almighty, as He is the best judge. Here I want to advise you as I am already late, I wish I would have advised you in my prison time and this accident would never happened.
First of all please mind that Taliban never attacked you because of going to school or you were education lover, also please mind that Taliban or mujahideen are not against the education of any men or women or girl. The Taliban believe that you were intentionally writing against them and running a smear campaign to malign their efforts to establish Islamic system in Swat and your writings were provocative. You said in your speech yesterday that pen is mightier than sword, so they attacked you for your sword not for your books or school. There were thousands of girls who were going to school and college before and after the Taliban insurgency in Swat. Would you explain why were only you on their hit list???
Now to explain to you the second point, why Taliban are blowing up schools? The answer to this question is that not only Taliban in KPK or FATA are blowing up the schools but Pakistan Army and Frontier Constabulary is equally involved in this issue. The reason for this action is common between them that schools are being turned into hideouts and transit camps once [an area] comes under control of either party—the Pakistan Army or Taliban. In 2004 I was in Swat, I was researching on the causes of failure of the first revolution attempt by Sufi Muhammad. I came to know that FC was stationed in the schools of Swat in tehsil Matta and FC was using schools as their transit camps and hideouts. Now tell me who is to blame??? Dozens of schools and colleges are being used by Pakistan Army and FC as their barracks in FATA, you can find out easily if you like. So when something sacred is turned lethal it needs to be eliminated this is the policy of Taliban.
Blowing up schools when they are not being used strategically is not the Taliban’s job, some black sheep of local administration may be involved to extract more and more funds in the name of schools to fill their bank accounts.
Now I come to the main point that is EDUCATION, it is amazing that you are shouting for education, you and the UNO is pretending that as you were shot due to education, although this is not the reason, be honest, not the education but your propaganda was the issue and what you are doing now, you are using your tongue on the behest of the others and you must know that if the pen is mightier than the sword then tongue is sharper and the injury of sword can be hailed but the injury of the tongue never hails and in wars tongue is more destructive than any weapon.
I would like to share with you that Indian subcontinent was highly educated and almost every citizen was able to read or write before British invasion. Locals used to teach British officers Arabic, Hindi, Urdu and Persian. Almost every mosque was acting as school too and Muslim emperors used to spend a huge sum of money on education. Muslim India was rich in farming, silk, and jute and from textile industry to shipbuilding. No poverty, no crises and no clashes of civilization or religion. Because the education system was based on noble thoughts and noble curriculum.
I want to draw your attention to an extract from the minutes written by Sir T. B. Macaulay to British parliament dated Feb. 2, 1835 about what type of education system is required in Indian subcontinent to replace the Muslim education system. He stated: “We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, a class of persons Indian in blood and color, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”
This was and this is the plan and mission of this so called education system for which you are ready to die, for which UNO takes you to their office to produce more and more Asians in blood but English in taste, to produce more and more Africans in color but English in opinion, to produce more and more non English people but English in morale. This so called education made Obama, the mass murder, your ideal. Isn’t it?
Why [do] they want to make all human beings English? Because Englishmen are the staunch supporters and slaves of Jews. Do you know Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder and symbol of English education in India was a freemason. You say a teacher, a pen and a book can change the world, yes I agree with, but which teacher which pen and which book? It is to be specified, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said I am sent as a teacher, and the book He sent to teach is Quran. So a noble and pious teacher with prophetic curriculum can change the world not with satanic or secular curriculum.
You have given the example that once a journalist asked a student why a talib is afraid of this education. He replied a talib didn’t know what was in this book. The same I say to you and through you to whole world that why they afraid from the book of Allah because they don’t know what is in it. Taliban want to implement what is in the book of ALLAH and UNO want to implement what they have in manmade books. We want to connect the world to their creator through the book of Allah and UNO want to enslave the world to few evil creatures.
You have talked about justice and equality from the stage of an unjust institution. The place where you were standing uttering for justice and equality, all the nations are not equal there, only five wicked states have the veto power and rest of them are powerless, dozens of time when all the world untied [sic] against the Israel only one veto was enough to press the throat of justice.
The place you were speaking to the world is heading towards new world order, I want to know what is wrong [with] the old world order? They want to establish global education, global economy, global army, global trade, global government and finally global religion. I want to know is there any space for the prophetic guidance in all above global plans? Is there any space for Islamic shariah or Islamic law which U.N. call inhumane and barbaric? You have talked about attack on polio team, would you explain why the then American foreign secretary of state Henry Kissinger, a Jew, said in 1973 to reduce the third world population by 80%. Why the sterilization and eugenics programs are running in different countries in one way or another under the umbrella of UNO. More than 1 million Muslim women have been sterilized in Uzbekistan forcibly without their consent.
Bertrand Russell writes in his book, The Impact of Science on Society: “Diet, injections and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable and any serious criticism of power that be will become psychologically impossible.”
This is why we have the reservation on so called polio vaccination program. You say Malala Day is not your day, it is the day of every person who has raised voice for their rights, I ask you why such a day in not assigned to Rachel Corrie, only because the bulldozer was Israeli? Why such a day in not assigned to Afia Siddiqa because the buyers are Americans? Why such day is not assigned to Faizan and Faheem because the killer was Raymond Davis? Why such a day in not assigned to those 16 innocent Afghan women and children who were shot dead by an American Robert Bales because he was not a Talib.
I ask you and be honest in reply, if you were shot but Americans in a drone attack, would world have ever heard updates on your medical status? Would you be called ‘daughter of the nation’? Would the media make a fuss about you? Would General Kayani have come to visit you and would the world media be constantly reporting on you? Would you be called to U.N.? Would a Malala Day be announced? More than 300 innocent women and children have been killed in drones attacks but who cares because attackers are highly educated, non-violent, peaceful Americans.
I wish the compassion you learnt from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) should be learnt by Pakistan Army so they could stop shedding of Muslim blood in FATA and Balochistan. I wish, the compassion you learnt from Prophet Jesus should be learnt by the U.S. and NATO so they should stop shedding blood of innocent Muslims across the world and I wish the same for followers of Buddha to stop killing of innocent unarmed Muslims in Burma, and Sri Lanka and wish the same for Indian Army to follow Gandhi jee and stop genocide in Kashmir, and yes, the followers of Bacha Khan, the ANP has an example of non-violence in their five years regime in KPK province, for example Swat, where a single shot was not fired and we witnessed the followers of Bacha Khan implemented the philosophy of nonviolence in its true soul, with support of jets, tanks and gunships.
At the end I advise you to come back home, adopt the Islamic and Pushtoon culture, join any female Islamic madrassah near your hometown, study and learn the book of Allah, use your pen for Islam and plight of Muslim ummah and reveal the conspiracy of tiny elite who want to enslave the whole humanity for their evil agendas in the name of new world order.
All praises to Allah, the creator of the universe.
July 15, 2013.

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Great quotes from the Abbottabad Commission report - 1

"When OBL moved about the Compound he wore a cowboy hat to avoid detection from above."

"OBL apparently did not discuss political matters with his wives. The elder wives were well educated and were said to have postgraduate degrees in Arabic literature and Islamic studies respectively."

"The family of OBL did not mix or socialise with the families of Abrar and Ibrahim (his Pashtun couriers-Ed). The children did not play together. There was in fact a wall separating them."

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Election carnage in Pakistan

Political violence in Pakistan is seldom reported in mainstream media, so the figures for attacks during the recent election campaign, compiled by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), are shocking: 298 people lost their lives and 885 others were injured across Pakistan between 1 January 1 and 15 May in 148 reported terrorist attacks on political leaders, workers and voters, and 97 incidents of political violence. The PIPS report says that the number of terrorist attacks on political leaders and workers significantly increased about six to seven weeks before the 2013 general elections.
Out of total 148 attacks, 108 were perpetrated by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and associated local Taliban and other militant groups. These attacks claimed the lives of 156 people and injured 665 others. Baloch nationalist insurgents carried out 40 attacks that killed 14 people and injured another 78.

The Awami National Party (ANP) bore the brunt of the terrorist attacks - 37 - followed by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) with 12 attacks each. While militants hit the ANP and PPP in almost every region of Pakistan, the MQM was frequently targeted in Karachi. 
Party leaders, workers and candidates of of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) were targeted in 10 terrorist attacks, mainly in Balochistan and Punjab. Three factions of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl, Sami and Nazriati or JUI-F, JUI-S and JUI-N, respectively) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) were also targeted by militants in parts of Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA.
As many as five terrorist attacks hit leaders and workers of Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in KP and Punjab. Balochistan’s nationalist parties were targeted in a total of eight attacks. Meanwhile 19 attacks hit independent election candidates, their offices and rallies and 17 attacks targeted polling stations in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The number of terrorist attacks targeting political leaders and workers, election candidates and polling stations by region was reported as 50 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, followed by 49 in Balochistan, 30 in Sindh, 12 in  FATA and 7 in Punjab.
Apart from those killed in terrorist attacks between January  and May, another 128 leaders and workers of different political parties were killed and 142 injured in 97 reported incidents of political violence and clashes between supporters and workers of different political parties during the same period of time.
The highest number of such incidentswas reported from Sindh - 73, including 70 in Karachi alone - followed by nine incidents each in KP and Punjab. Six incidents of political violence were reported from Balochistan.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

SIGAR boss says officials tried to intimidate him

US government bureaucrats have tried to intimidate John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, saying his should stop making public his audits revealing waste, corruption and mismanagement of projects to rebuild the country.

Speaking at an event organised by the New America Foundation on 8 May, Sopko also said that some officials have even complained that they cannot edit his reports before they are published.

“Since my appointment by the President last summer, I have been surprised to learn how many people both in and out of the government do not understand the role of an independent inspector general,” said Sopko.

Sopko told the meeting that the Afghan Ministry of Defense may be unable to buy fuel for the Afghan army once US troops leave; he added that the US government could not account for the fuel it provided the army; that it paid for repairs on police vehicles it had not seen for over a year; that police buildings are lying empty and that creative use of ghost employees and desertions mean that the total number of Afghan troops is unclear.

“It is hard to know if the Afghan army and police are ready if we don’t know how many troops are available to fight insurgent forces,” Sopko said.

“Over the last 10 months, I have been criticized by some bureaucrats for not pre-clearing my press releases with them, for not letting them edit the titles of my audits, for talking too much to Congress, for talking too much to the press … and, basically, for not being a ‘team player’ and undermining ‘our country’s mission in Afghanistan,’ ” Sopko said in his speech. He continued:

“Many in our government, even some surprisingly senior officials you think would know better, seem to believe that an inspector general should be their partner — or, more correctly, their silent partner. In their opinion, my reports should be slipped in a sealed envelope in the dead of night under the door — never to see the light of day — because those reports could embarrass the administration, embarrass President Karzai, embarrass Afghanistan."

Thursday 9 May 2013

Anyone out there listening to SIGAR?

The latest 232-page quarterly report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) contains a useful overview of US aid efforts in the country, showing where more than $93 billion has been spent since 2002.

The report highlights the usual problems– new hospitals in Gardez and Khair Khot that are unlikely to run for very long as their operating budgets are five times the existing budget, or millions of dollars’ worth of electrical equipment sitting around unused by the main power distribution company – as well as a few that ought to have been sorted by now: the Afghan National Security Forces still have no easy way of determining how many people serve in the Army or police forces. 
Yesterday in Washington, SIGAR boss John Sopko revealed that $50m stolen from the US government had disappeared from a Kabul bank vault, despite efforts to freeze the account. Sopko referred to the Afghan government in his speech as a "criminal patronage network".
SIGAR is doing a great job, but is anyone listening?