Archive for the ‘Pakistan’ Category

For Obama, Three Afghanistan Tests

March 28, 2009

Three time bombs are buried within the new and ambitious strategy for Afghanistan that President Obama unveiled Friday. Their detonation — which would cripple the international mission to stabilize the country and perhaps cripple Obama’s presidency — is not inevitable. But defusing them will take an exceptional performance by U.S. military commanders and diplomats, some skillful politicking by the president — and maybe a little of the unexpected good fortune that blessed the U.S. surge in Iraq.

By Jackson Diehl
The Washington Post

The first fuse is burning down toward Aug. 20, less than five months from now. On that day, Afghanistan is due to hold a presidential election whose outcome and perceived fairness may determine whether most Afghans continue to view U.S. and NATO forces as friendly. By then, too, the 17,000 additional Marines and Army troops authorized by Obama last month should be deployed in the two southern Afghan provinces, Helmand and Kandahar, where the Taliban is strongest, along with scores of new American civilian advisers.

This first test is twofold: Can the new U.S. forces clear the enemy from the large areas near the border with Pakistan where they now rule with near impunity — something that inevitably will mean a spike in violence — without appearing to use disproportionate force? And will Afghans be secure enough to cast ballots in an election in which they will be offered alternatives to incumbent President Hamid Karzai, with the assurance that their votes will be fairly counted?

U.S. commanders are pretty confident they can pass the military test, in part because for the first time in the seven-year war they can mass enough forces to overwhelm the Taliban without heavy reliance on air power, which causes 60 percent of civilian casualties. The election will be trickier. Karzai’s government is perceived as feckless and corrupt by much of the Afghan population, and his relations with the United States have deteriorated sharply in the past year. Yet, in part because of a lack of strong challengers, he appears likely to win reelection. If the vote seems rigged, or if Karzai wins a new mandate without offering a credible promise of improvement, Afghans may irrevocably sour both on the central government and its foreign sponsors.

“This election has to be viewed as free and fair,” said one U.S. military officer in Kabul. “And there has to be some discussion of corruption by Karzai so that in the first 100 days after the election there can be some visible action taken.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/
AR2009032702293.html?hpid=o
pinionsbox1

Read also Peter Bergen of the New York Times on why the historic record for Afghanistan does not have to predict the future…
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/
03/28/opinion/28bergen.html?_r=1

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Obama Pushes Into Afghanistan, Pakistan But He Controls Few Variables

March 27, 2009

The success of President Barack Obama’s new war strategy depends heavily on factors beyond his control: Afghan competence, Pakistani cooperation and a greater willingness by Europeans and other allies to adopt the American view that al-Qaida is at the core of the conflict.

Each of those has been missing or, at best, has fallen short despite years of U.S. pushing and prodding.

ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press Writer

That is why, after more than seven years of inconclusive combat, hundreds of American deaths, billions in financial aid and incomplete efforts to build self-sustaining Afghan security forces, Obama saw a need Friday to retool strategy, clarify U.S. war aims and seek more help from NATO and other partners.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/200903
27/ap_on_an/obama_war_strategy_analysis

Obama Has United Pakistani and Afghan Taliban

March 27, 2009

First Barack Obama wanted U.S. troops out of Iraq.  Then he wanted more U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  Then Pakistan took some of his interest.  Less than 30 days into his presidency, people started talking in terms of “Pak-Af,” or one gigantic potboiler of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Today the president announced that the United States must “disrupt, defeat and dismantle” the al-Qaida terrorist organization and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

President Barack Obama announced an escalation in Afghanistan; committing 4,200 more troops and hundreds more civilians, and embracing a new system of benchmarks to measure progress.

“He’s gone all in,” said an official briefed on the plan. “This is Obama’s war. He’s pushed all the chips to the center of the table.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090
327/ap_on_go_pr_wh/obama_afghanistan

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By CARLOTTA GALL
The New York Times

After agreeing to bury their differences and unite forces, Taliban leaders based in Pakistan have closed ranks with their Afghan comrades to ready a new offensive in Afghanistan as the United States prepares to send 17,000 more troops there this year.

In interviews, several Taliban fighters based in the border region said preparations for the anticipated influx of American troops were already being made. A number of new, younger commanders have been preparing to step up a campaign of roadside bombings and suicide attacks to greet the Americans, the fighters said.

The refortified alliance was forged after the reclusive Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, sent emissaries to persuade Pakistani Taliban leaders to join forces and turn their attention to Afghanistan, Pakistani officials and Taliban members said.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/27/
world/asia/27taliban.html?_r=1&hp

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From The Times of India:
“You know something big and spooky is cooking when the three top intelligence honchos in the United States visit India” before any other new Obama cabinet officials.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/I
ndia/US-sleuths-in-India-to-discuss
-dangerous-Pak/rssarticleshow/4
289744.cms

President Obama’s Overseas Outreach: How Goes It?

March 26, 2009

AMERICA’S enemies smell blood and it’s type “O.”

All new administrations stumble a bit as they seek their footing. But President Obama’s foreign-policy botches have set new records for instant incompetence.

By Ralph Peters
New York Post

Contrary to left-wing myths, I wasn’t a fan of the Bush administration. (I called for Donald Rumsfeld to get the boot in mid-2001.) But fair’s fair. Despite his many faults, Bush sought to do good. Obama just wants to look good.

Vice President Dick Cheney was arrogant. Vice President Joe Biden is arrogant and stupid. Take your pick.

Don’t worry about the new administration’s ideology. Worry about its terrifying naivete.

Consider a sampling of the goofs O and his crew have made in just two months:

China: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (you know that gal married to the Saudi hireling) crawled to Beijing to tell the party bosses that human rights don’t matter. Our “relationship” is more important than freedom and human dignity.

Beijing’s response? A staged military confrontation with an unarmed US Navy vessel; continued screw-America currency cheating; a renewed crackdown on dissidents and, yesterday, a call for a new global currency to replace the dollar.

Thanks, Hill. You’re a sweetheart.

Pakistan: With viral corruption throughout and Islamist fanatics sweeping half of its territory, Pakistan’s coming apart. Its Dem-adored prez tries to ban opposition parties and gut the judiciary. It has nukes and seethes with hatred of America. And Islamabad controls our primary supply route into Afghanistan, using it as an extortion tool.

Obama’s response? Billions in new aid for Pak pols to pocket. We’d be better off handing the money to AIG to pay out more bonuses.

Afghanistan: Obama’s Vietnam. Am I the only American who remembers that candidate Obama had a plan to capture Osama bin Laden and fix our previous “mistakes” in Afghanistan? President Obama doesn’t have a clue.

Iran: Obama tried to reach out, to talk. After all, talking got him to the White House. But America-bashing is what keeps Iran’s leaders in office, it’s their political essence. After 30 years of fierce hostility, hasn’t anyone figured out that the senior mullahs need us as an enemy? Without the Great Satan America to blame, they’d have some real explaining to do to their homies. So O got the left-hand finger.

He wanted to chat with the Taliban, too. They told him he could stick it where the sun don’t shine.

Russia and China rearm?
China boosts military, cyberwarfare capabilities
.
 Gates readies big cuts in weapons
.
 Russia Pressing “Reset,” Medvedev Orders Military To Re-Arm

Related:
Global Recession, Security Challenges Test Obama’s Popularity Among World Leaders

 Obama Wasting America’s Strategic World Power; China Surges Despite Economy

Russia, “Desperate For Cash,” Sells Oil to China In “Very Bad Deal”

 Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

Sun Setting On American Superpower?

Pakistan: President Diminished, Rival Triumphant

March 16, 2009

The promised reinstatement of Pakistan‘s chief justice defused a protest movement threatening the U.S.-allied government, but it could still spell trouble for the country’s struggling president.

The army is said to have directed President Asif Ali Zardari to defuse the developing showdown with opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and lawyers leading a column of protesters toward the capital Sunday night.

But by yielding to demands to restore judges fired by former military ruler and U.S. ally Pervez Musharraf, Zardari may have strengthened democracy in the nuclear-armed nation as it faces daunting security and economic challenges.

“Never before in Pakistan’s political history have you had people standing up for the rule of law, for the constitution,” said Nasim Zehra, a political and defense analyst. “Civil society has won out.”

Musharraf ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry in 2007 after he blocked a privatization deal, investigated the fate of hundreds of people allegedly held incognito by security agencies, and even questioned the legality of the ex-general’s rule.

But the move backfired as lawyers, rights activists, liberal media pundits — as well as the general’s political opponents — mounted a dogged campaign for an independent judiciary that turned the dour, mustachioed judge into an unlikely democratic icon.

The very same constellation has now humbled Zardari.

The slaying of former premier Benazir Bhutto catapulted her Pakistan People’s Party into power last year. Zardari, who took over his wife’s party and became president, forged a coalition with Sharif. The alliance collapsed as the two wrangled for power and Zardari reneged on a pledge to restore Chaudhry.

Sharif joined the opposition, but last month the Supreme Court ruled that he and his brother Shahbaz were inelegible for elected office. Zardari then dismissed the government Shahbaz led in Punjab, the most powerful Pakistani province.

Nawaz Sharif — who defied house arrest to participate in Sunday’s demonstration — accused Zardari of a power grab and urged his supporters to join lawyers and other activists planning to march on the capital, re-energizing the movement.

Zardari’s tough line also opened rifts in his party, which could weaken his grip and force him to pass on to Parliament some of the sweeping presidential powers accumulated by Musharraf, analysts said. He has pledged to give up the right to dissolve the assemblies and fire the government — but taken no concrete steps to do it.

“Zardari has come out badly bruised,” said Zahid Hussain, a Pakistani commentator. “He has managed to survive, but his power has certainly been curtailed.”

Sharif, in contrast, has emerged triumphant.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090
316/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_analysis

http://albanylawlibrary.wordpress.c
om/2009/03/16/this-just-in/

Sun Setting On American Superpower?

March 15, 2009

In February, 1979, when religious extremists overthrew and ousted the Shah of Iran, an immediate search began for “who lost Iran.”

For many Americans living in wealth at home, this may be of little concern.  But some would say, once the Shah was out of Iran we started on the road to today: an Iran on the brink of having a nuclear bomb and Isreal fearing for its very existance — a situation that has involved the U.S. for three or four decades and could ruin our whole day for years to come; unless a nuclear war comes first.

North Korea also has nuclear weapons and long range missiles and is making noise about starting trouble yet again.

Barack Obama needs to look himself in the mirror now and say, “Things are happening on my watch” and get rid of the notion that “We inherited a mess.”

Obama using recession to justify largest expansion of federal authority ever; U.S. less safe

Last week China’s Premier Wen Jiabao wondered aloud and very publically if the U.S. could be trusted to get its economic house in order.  He didn’t say this while George W. Bush was president: he said it two days ago.U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon even called the U.S. a “deadbeat” this last week.

Wen Jiabao wondered about the credibility of the U.S. after Obama failed to respond convincingly to an incident at sea between Chinese ships and an unarmed American naval vessel — and after Obama borrowed over $740 billion for the stimulus and another $410 billion for the omnibus, thus doubling the U..S. debt.

Wen Jiabao and Ban Ki-moon didn’t say, “I don’t have confidence in Bush; I do have confidence in Obama because he inherited this mess.”

When Russia maneuvered to eliminate the U.S. air base at Manas, Kyrgyzstan  recently, did anyone hear from Mr. Medvedev and Putin in Russia, “We did this because of Bush.  We are just peachy with Obama”?

When North Korea thumbed its nose at the United States last week, and threatened war, the White House indicated that it probably would not shoot down the long-range missile North Korea threatens to launch.

Japan had to step in and say, “We’ll take a shot because that North Korean missile is a threat.”

When Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez offered “a whole island with an airdrome, which we can use as a temporary base for strategic bombers,” to Russia yesterday, he didn’t say, “because of Bush.”

And when the Russians failed to say, “That’s a crazy idea,” it wasn’t because of Bush but it was because of Obama.

So we all need to think now that Barack Obama promises a lot of things that might, maybe, possibly could lead to a better America: health care, improved schools, a new energy system, the curing of cancer, the elimination of global warming, and etc. — all great stuff.

But will there be people asking: “Who lost Japan?  Who lost Korea?  Who lost Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nations?”

And will the certain losses matter, juxtaposed to the maybe gains?

And if American debt is so great that China stops buying U.S. Treasuries, or China “calls the shots” with America, will that matter?

And if our border with Mexico becomes overrun with Mexican drug cartels, I mean, just suppose, while we are looking the other way and fixing health care and spending our limited treasury on everything else, will that matter?  I am just dreaming here, I know.

That could never happen.  But just suppose…..

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

PS:  I am starting to hate this “inherited” BS.  Obama ran to get into the White House, along with all the goodies and problems that came with that.

Nobody “inherits” the White House unless death is involved….

Obama, Israel Split On Iran?

Obama Maybe Doesn’t Know: Nice guys get finished first

Related:
Obama Has Failed To Spell Out His Vision

Analysts: Russia outmaneuvered U.S. over air base

 Obama Could Lose Afghanistan, Pakistan

 Obama bans term “enemy combatant,” joins “terrorist” in unusable list

Obama Policy On Gitmo, Taliban, Afghanistan, Intel: As Stupid as It Gets

http://urdunews.wordpress.com/200
9/03/14/zardari-remains-firm-prot
ests-continue/

 Obama Backs Off, Japan Ready To Shoot Down North Korean Missile

Obama: Troop move to Mexican border under consideration

Obama Could Lose Afghanistan, Pakistan

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”

 Barack, Hillary: Moronic “Reset” Idea for Relations With Russia

China:
China’s Love/Hate Relationship With The U.S

Obama Wasting America’s Strategic World Power; China Surges Despite Economy
.
Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

 Global Economy Weakness Leading To Social Unrest

Stimulus: China Will Fund U.S. Debt But “We Hate You Guys”

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITIC
S/03/15/cheney.interview/index.html

Behind the U.S. and China At Sea Incident

Pelosi’s Stimulus II? Lawmakers Propose No Cost, High Employment Energy Package

China Buying Oil, Uranium, Gold, Other Products At Bargain Prices

Russia, “Desperate For Cash,” Sells Oil to China In “Very Bad Deal”

What’s China’s Long Term Global Strategy?


American adversaries are thumbing their noses, while this man wanted to run the census and now will supervize the writing of a measure to federalize schools. Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior to the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, in Washington, January 20, 2009.(Jim Young – UNITED STATES/Reuters)

Obama Has Failed To Spell Out His Vision

March 14, 2009

President Obama has failed to lay out an integrated, realistic and comprehensive vision for his presidency, despite his inaugural address, a “state of the union” like opportunity before a joint session of Congress, and innumerable major policy speeches on health care, the economy, education et al.

And maybe he likes it that way.

Forget about any vision spelled out by Obama during the campaign for the White House — all those promises have either evaporated, been disarded or swepts aside by Obama himself, by the pratical applications of the presidency or by the economic “catastrophe”  — so named by Obama himself.

Transparency turned out to be opaque, lobbyists did get jobs and on and on.

American foreign policy is already adrift, with inept liaisons between Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, a severe challenge to the freedom of the seas by China and a rattling of sabers by North Korea that only Japan has accepted as a real problem.

Obama has lost a key airbase in Kyrgyzstan that could impair allied efforts in Afghanistan, which could ultimately go down the drain along with its neighbor Pakistan.

And the legal wrangling over Gitmo, the use of terms like “terrorism” and “enemy combatant” is taking us where?

Where and how are the questions.  Where is U.S. foreign policy headed and how does Obama propose to get there?

If these questions are not answered, and soon, we can likely expect a reactive rather than a proactive U.S. foreign policy, which we have had for at least eight years and perhaps many more depending upon one’s point of view.  The Bush Administration, despite its trumpeting of the Bush Doctrine, largely reacted to 9-11 and other real world events.

Will Obama do the same?

And on domestic policy, there is a growing sense of discord between those that want the economic ills solved before we dive into overhauling health care, education, the environment and our national energy system and thioose like Obama who say this is exactly the right tme to overhaul everything.

Obama crammed the stimulus through a frightened congress without hearings and followed that with an omnibus packed with pork earmarks that he pledged to eliminate during the campaign and this week promised to eliminate next year.

There is no now in explaining the truth in this Administration so far, only fear and we have to do it all without worry about the cost and the debt.

Where’s the blueprint?  Where’s the roadmap?

The only roadmap so far is to look at the proposed spending.  This is the administration of spending without apparent planning.  And the very fact that commentators are asking about socialism shows the theme one gets from looking at the spending.

Maybe Obama believes this is the ONLY time to move his domestic agenda along — during a period of crisis with a Democratically controlled congress with little analytical effort, a willing public, and an Obama swallowing media….plus a lot of voters who will profit from all this spending.

That’s socialism.

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By Sean Wilentz

The president did an excellent job explaining how the federal government has spurred economic growth in the past, but, historian Sean Wilentz asks, when is he going to lay out a specific vision for America’s future?

It’s been nearly a decade since the country has heard a vibrant, full-throated Democratic speech from a president of the United States. President Obama gave one tonight. In presenting his budget priorities to the Congress and the American people, he provided a clear defense of the federal government’s historic role as a catalyst for economic growth and the nation’s welfare. From the Transcontinental Railroad to the Interstate Highway System, he explained, private wealth has always expanded with the help of the national government. And with that, the president exorcised the political spirit of Ronald Reagan from Capitol Hill.

Energy, health, education—these are at the top of the administration’s agenda. If nothing had happened last September, when Lehman Brothers was allowed to collapse, these policies also would have been at the top. But a great deal has changed since the Democratic convention ratified the party’s platform, with these same priorities. The country and the world have plunged into the greatest economic crisis since the Depression. And that must be the president’s chief preoccupation.

Read the rest:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs
-and-stories/2009-02-24/obamas-
day-of-reckoning/

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By Ted Anthony, AP

“He sees this emergency as a time to reshape the country,” says Theodore Sorensen, one of Kennedy’s top advisers who was instrumental in shaping the famed 1961 inaugural address that defined the mission of the New Frontier.

Sorensen was struck by Obama’s use of the economic crisis to open channels to other issues — from the imperative of education as a patriotic duty to universal health care and a recalibration of environmental issues. Ultimately, each impacts the economy.

Finding the right fit

To frame his goals, Obama invoked the always appealing image of Americans dreaming big and having their biggest achievements ahead of them. Trouble is, his next steps, as outlined, are far too interventionist for Republicans’ comfort.

Princeton University historian Sean Wilentz, whose latest book chronicles the age of Ronald Reagan, says Obama, with Tuesday’s address, “exorcised” Reagan.

Just as Reagan articulated decades-old GOP principles in his own way, so, too, did Obama synthesize varied progressive principles into his plan of action.

“We’re getting an update of Democratic ideals,” Wilentz says. “The age of Reagan is over. Republicans … have nothing. Ideas that once commanded the heights of national politics 30 years ago are now in disarray….

Read the rest:
http://www.tennessean.com/articl
e/20090226/NEWS08/902260341

Related:
Obama Could Lose Afghanistan, Pakistan

Obama Backs Off, Japan Ready To Shoot Down North Korean Missile

 Obama Backs-Off On Human Rights Issues: Economy is That Important

“we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before.”  Barack Obama said this during his joint session of congress speech but now is adding even more debt…..

Obama speech, Feb 24, 2009:
http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/200
9/02/obamas_speech_before_joint_ses.html

“In other words, we have lived through an era where too often short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity”

What is the stimulus and the omnibus spells long-term prosperity?

Pakistan Military Chief Pushes President to Yield to Demonstrators’ Demands

March 14, 2009

With fears of unrest spreading in Pakistan, the nation’s powerful military chief personally interceded in an effort to persuade President Asif Ali Zardari to yield to key opposition demands and end the deepening crisis, Pakistani officials said.

The Wall Street Journal

It was the first time since the restoration of democracy more than a year ago that the military — which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 61-year history — has taken such a direct role in what are considered civilian affairs. The move by military chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani came amid a third day of antigovernment protests that the government has sought to damp by arresting hundreds of opposition activists and banning demonstrations.

Read the rest:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123
695719691520181.html

http://urdunews.wordpress.com/200
9/03/14/zardari-remains-firm-
protests-continue/

Obama Could Lose Afghanistan, Pakistan

March 13, 2009

After 52 days, it is starting to look like President Obama wcould roll back America’s strategic place in the world faster than anyone since Napoleon fled from Moscow to Paris.

Obama has established himself as the outreach and diplomacy president in a world that mostly understands thunder and power.

And General David Petraeus says more U.S. troops and power are not the solution in Afghanistan anyway.

Gen. Petraeus: No Iraq-style surge in Afghanistan

As North Korea threatened to both launch a long range missile and go to war this week, the White House almost shrugged and said “never mind.”  Spokesmen even said the U.S. had no intention of shooting the North Korean missile down.  This after America’s commander in the Pacific, Admiral Keating, said his boys WOULD shoot it down.

Finally, Japan has said in disgust it would shoot the darned thing down.

Hillary Clinton, already the subject of talk for a bone-headed gift to her Russian equal, Mr. Lavrov, said the U.S. “had a lot of options” with North Korea.

With China sparking an at sea incident; Washington gave the same kind of response.  The strategic yawn.

The U.S. is even rolling back on its human rights criticisms of China — just as China is expressing doubts at buying more U.S. debt.

Hmmmm.

While these shrugs and yawns may be appropriate, the situation in Afghanistan, where the president is adding troops and lowering expectations and goals, is troubling.

A key air bas, Manas, in Kyrgyzstan is already apparently lost in a move by Russia.

Analysts: Russia outmaneuvered U.S. over air base

Terrorist Taliban forces now surround Kabul, and Afghan government sources say the city could be under seige “at any time.”

Moin Ansari says on his web site, “The US is leaving Afghanistan. Only the details of the withdrawal and the schedule of the return is to announced. A massive campaign will be launched to obfuscate the defeat with face saving measures like the ones implemented in Iraq.”

As for Afghanistan, Mr. Ralph Peters, once a “Surger,” is now an “Exiter“.

Mr. Peter’s four possibilities can be listed as choices between an exit strategy or a hasty retreat after the defeat. We see it as follows:

1) Plan an exist strategy and leave with dignity now or

2) Wait for the Taliban to run over Karzai’s forbidden city

The ranks of the “Exiters” from Afghanistan is surging because of several interlinked factors—the economy and China. Both are inter-related and the dependencies weigh heavy on the White House. Why the US gave up India as a Strategic partner? Without China’s help, the USA cannot sustain the bailouts or hope for a recovery. China is willing to give the US a reprieve, but may have a couple of strings attached. China will exact a price. It seems that Beijing at this point will require a pullout from Afghanistan and the resolution of Kashmir. We have always considered Kashmir as the silent “K” in Holbrooke’s mission. India’s worst nightmares come true: Long term strategic malaise in a changing world . The People’s Daily leaves no doubt that the resolution of Kashmir is not simply a “nice to have” on the “wish list” of Mr. Holbrooke–it a mandated requirement-China’s pound of flesh for agreeing to buy American T-Bonds. India feels the pain: The US begs Beijing for money

Pakistan’s turmoil continues and if Afghanistan falls, Pakistan will likely follow….

Military chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani urged Pakistan’s President Zardari to agree to some demands of protesters, in the first insertion of the military into the government in over a year.

Pakistan Military Chief Pushes President to Yield to Demonstrators’ Demands

The new Obama plan reportedly calls for more effort from Pakistan to fight Taliban and al-Qaeda forces; which seems impossible given the internal politics of  Pakistan at present….

Related:
http://rupeenews.com/2009/03/12
/beyond-us-withdrawal-from-afghanistan/

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03
/13/obama-to-re-brand-enemy-combatants/

The war on “terror” is verbally and virtually over…
Obama bans term “enemy combatant,” joins “terrorist” in unusable list

China:
Obama Backs-Off On Human Rights Issues: Economy is That Important

 Obama Backs Off, Japan Ready To Shoot Down North Korean Missile

Obama’s Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth

China’s Love/Hate Relationship With The U.S

Pakistan: Circling The Drain?
.
U.S. Urges Calm inPakistan:
http://urdunews.wordpress.com/20
09/03/13/us-appeals-for-calm-in-pakistan/

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Security in Afghanistan has deteriorated and may worsen this year in the face of a renewed Taliban insurgency, the U.N. chief said in a report published Friday.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his latest report to the Security Council on U.N. activities in Afghanistan that 2009 would be a critical year. He added there were reasons for medium-term optimism.

“The government, security forces and population of Afghanistan, along with its international partners, face a critical test in 2009,” the report said.

“Security has continued to deteriorate. The results of government and international aid efforts have fallen short of popular expectations as Afghans suffer the effects of drought and a global rise in food prices.”

Violence is at its highest level in Afghanistan since U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban in late 2001.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/200
90313/wl_nm/us_afghan_un_1

By ANNE GEARAN and ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration expects to announce new objectives for the flagging war in Afghanistan as soon as next week that place an onus on next-door Pakistan to contain extremism, defense and administration officials said Thursday.

The White House objectives were expected to roughly parallel 15 goals contained in a 20-page classified report to the White House from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Among them were getting rid of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan and adopting a regional approach to reducing the threat of terrorism and extremism in both countries.

“We’re just about done,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said in an interview with PBS’ “The Charlie Rose Show” on Thursday.

The review addresses “the safe haven in Pakistan, making sure that Afghanistan doesn’t provide a capability in the long run or an environment in which al-Qaida could return or the Taliban could return,” Mullen said, as well as the need for stability, economic development and better governance in Afghanistan, and the development of the Afghan armed forces.

An administration official said that although the review was not complete, one thrust was that Pakistan needed to recognize that combating extremism was in its own interest as well as that of U.S.- and NATO fighting forces across the border in Afghanistan. The official, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity because the review was not complete.

President Barack Obama was expected to explain the redrawn U.S. objectives to NATO allies when he attends a NATO summit in Europe next month.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/200903
13/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_afghanistan_7

Pakistan: Circling The Drain?

March 12, 2009

Pakistan is key to America’s efforts to end global terrorism — and to prevent acts like September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York and the Pentagon.

Pakistan harbors terrorists: maybe even Osama bin Laden.  Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

And Pakistan may be circling the drain.

******************

By Imtiaz Shah
Reuters

Hundreds of black-suited Pakistani lawyers and flag-waving opposition activists launched a cross-country protest on Thursday, as the year-old civilian coalition government scrambled for ways to avert a showdown.

The movement for an independent judiciary could destabilize President Asif Ali Zardari’s government at a time when the nuclear-armed U.S. ally faces severe problems from Islamist militants and a sinking economy.

Police detained hundreds of political activists on Wednesday, and banned rallies. But Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said on Thursday the so-called long march that set out from the cities of Karachi and Quetta would be allowed to go ahead.

“We’ll not stop them, but if someone tries to take the law in his hand I must say in the house that he won’t be allowed,” Malik told the National Assembly.

“This is a war for power and rule and unless we get out of this sphere, such things will keep on happening.”

Opposition leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has thrown his weight behind the lawyers, putting him into open confrontation with Zardari.

Infuriated by a Supreme Court ruling barring him and his brother from elected office, and by Zardari ejecting his party from power in Punjab province and imposing central rule, Sharif has called the protest a defining moment for Pakistan.

Pakistani lawyers and members of civil rights movement march ... 
Pakistani lawyers and members of civil rights movement march along a street as they take part in a demonstration in Lahore, Pakistan, Thursday, March 12, 2009. Protesters vowed Thursday to press ahead with a major march onto Pakistan’s parliament in defiance of bans and hundreds of arrests by a government that has come increasingly under fire from its critics. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Stoking tension in a country with a grim record of assassinations, a spokesman for Sharif said the government had “hatched a plot” to kill him.

Zardari’s spokesman dismissed that as “political gimmickry” and said the Sharif bothers had been promised full security.

Pakistan is vital to U.S. efforts to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan and defeat al Qaeda. The United States wants Pakistan to focus on fighting militancy rather than on political power plays.

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090312/wl_nm/us_pakistan_protest