Stories about NATO

Its not time to “move on”, Mr Panetta. Not yet

The US government continues to remain predictable  and resort to its usual clichés. Yesterday, the Pakistani state was asked to  “move on”. No, Defence Secretary Panetta, we were not asking for closure after a cheerless  breakup, rather, demanding some much needed accountability for the killing of our armed forces which was reasonably against all precepts of international law. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, has  nonetheless, predictably but unacceptably, all but ruled out an apology over an air strike last year that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and badly set back efforts to improve US-Pakistani ties. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) airstrike that ...

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Al Libi’s death: Another milestone in war against terror

The second in command of al Qaeda, Abu Yahya al Libi, was reportedly killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan on June 4. The Obama Administration has already hailed al Libi’s death as another significant milestone in the drive to root out terrorists from their safe havens in Pakistan. Meanwhile, our Foreign Office has again let the US authorities know that the drone strikes violate our country’s sovereignty. At this point, I think it would be worthwhile if we asked ourselves why the US resorted to using these Predator drones in the first place. The Americans claim that they have broken ...

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Start the rails: Of the NATO supply route

About six months have passed since the tragic incident at Salala by the US-led Nato forces followed by the closure of Nato supply routes to Afghanistan through Pakistan. All major parties, except government allies, found an opportunity to shine their politics on the issue. They would not tire of announcing large-scale protests and long marches if the government opened the route. On the other hand, the US and Nato are repeatedly asking Pakistan to open the route which means that either there is no alternative for them to take equipment to their forces or it is more expensive to export it ...

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What the NATO Summit achieved

The Pakistanis came, they didn’t quite conquer, and now they’re leaving. At the end of the day, the NATO Summit in Chicago produced no news, and yet there was much to report. With hundreds of media personnel camped at the massive media centre at McCormick Place, the venue of the summit, the subject of the day remained Afghanistan and Pakistan. Reporters tried to work out whether Pakistan would announce the re-opening of the supply routes, an issue that has been raised in nearly every press conference that took place during the summit. All that work really was in vain – Pakistan ...

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NATO conference: A tale of too many non-attendees

For quite some time, the world has been talking about this month’s NATO conference, which will be held in Chicago on May 20 and 21 and shall focus in great part on Afghanistan’s future. Yet with the event now just days away, the roster of attendees makes it hard to take the conference very seriously. How many of Afghanistan’s neighbours are confirmed participants? One, and that is Pakistan. (Incidentally, Russia has also now announced it will be present—another example of a nation at odds with the policies of certain Nato countries yet nonetheless willing to hold its nose and travel ...

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Who is the real enemy in Afghanistan?

In 11 years of warfare, Kabul has never seen a Taliban offensive such as this; government buildings, foreign embassies, NATO offices and bases were continuously attacked for two days by coordinated rocket and gun attacks around the country. Deeming the violence as a ‘spring offensive’, it is disheartening to see that 11 years of war and devastation have not had the result some may have hoped for, and also raises questions as to who the ‘real enemy’ is, and whether the ‘enemy’ can be pinpointed to being one group or individual. It also raises the question as to how many different perspectives ...

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What will Grossman’s visit achieve?

On the face of it, Pakistan and the United States are inching closer to a possible reunion as US Special Envoy for the Af-Pak theatre, Marc Grossman, is set to reset the volatile relationship with Islamabad. But there is a lot more to the equation than what meets the eye. The Parliamentary Committee on National Security has presented its recommendation to the parliament, and the defence and cabinet committees are set to endorse the new terms of engagement with the United States. Despite all the fuss, it seems that there is no fundamental change in the relations between these strange ...

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Prison break: Lessons to learn from Bannu

A brazen attack by militants on the Bannu central jail that led to the escape of 384 inmates, including several hardcore Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan members, shows just how much of a threat trigger-happy fighters pose to provincial and state-run institutions. Their ability to strike any target at will is scary indeed. Time and again they have demonstrated their prowess by targeting Nato supply terminals smack in the centre of the settled district in Peshawar. And now the central jail attack in Bannu has proved beyond doubt that all government claims of having curbed militancy are nothing more than shallow political statements ...

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Hafiz Saeed: Missing pieces?

Hafiz Saeed, a mujahid and philanthropist in the eyes of many Pakistanis is basking in the limelight thrown on him by the US State Department when it placed a $10 million reward for information leading to his conviction under the Reward for Justice Programme. Saeed’s followers point towards the fact that because he demanded for the closure of the Nato supply route, the personal vendetta has been unleashed. The reality, however, is not that simple. Lashkar-e-Taiba, believed to be a militant arm of Jamatud Dawa, was designated as a foreign terrorist organisation in December 2001 by the US while its ...

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Why announce a bounty on Hafiz Saeed?

Why now? At a critical moment in the US-Pakistan relationship, with parliamentary debate raging in Pakistan about how to realign relations with Washington, and with the United States desperate to forge some level of cooperation with Islamabad to help move toward the elusive endgame in Afghanistan, why announce a bounty for “information leading to the arrest or conviction” of living-openly-in-Lahore Hafiz Saeed? This is, after all, a man Washington and New Delhi regard as a terrorist, yet whom many in Pakistan regard as a heroic symbol of defiance toward the United States, an essential strategic asset, or both. In short, Washington’s ...

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