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08 May 2009


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Col. Lang:

re Curious' comment re Gates replacing McKiernan:

When Gates was asked what new tactics he (Gates) would employ that might complement the president's new strategy, Gates replied, "That's why I'm putting in LG McChrystal and LG Rodriguez (as his deputy)."

Although Gates made plain that he is not going to be micromanaging AFPAK he does expect both these officers to bring something to the game that McKiernan does not.

Anybody have any idea what that might be? (Until today LG Rodriguez had been an assistant to Gates specializing in COIN.)

Babak Makkinejad


Thank you for your reply.

I too often had wondered whether from the stand point of Hinduism the 3 Semitic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are not a single religion. Than you for confirming that.

Clifford Kiracofe

"All the three secular parties ruling Sindh have fallen apart. The MQM and the ANP have inclined to ethnic politics, the latter only recently showing inclination to represent all the 4 million Karachi Pashtuns floundering without political leadership because the JUI is almost non-existent there and the Deobandi madrassas are under pressure. The Pashtun is also pushed into a corner by the rise of the Barelvi clergy, which is increasingly militant and shows an anti-Pashtun ethnic bias like the MQM. While opposed to the Taliban in the rest of Pakistan, it is not oblivious of the prospect of a grand weaning of the radicalised Pashtun back under the ethnic banner.
There is no doubt that it has reports from the police about the infiltration of “Taliban-type” Pashtuns into the city. There have been encounters in the Pashtun-dominated areas where such elements have been arrested too. But, based on their perception of the role of the MQM, the Sindh government is not willing to take the kind of action that the MQM wants it to take. Pashtun and Muhajir ethnic gangs are clashing in the night in Karachi, leaving a lot of people dead.
More confusion is going to follow when Imran Khan is finished with Karachi and the Jama’at-e Islami chief Syed Munawwar Hassan turns his attention to the divided city. He and Mr Khan are in unison against the military operation in Swat, saying the army is killing its own people at America’s behest. The two have the capacity to attract Pashtuns, especially on the basis of their pro-Taliban slogan. Mr Hassan, while talking to Jama’at processionists in Lahore the other day, asked them to “make preparations” because an “announcement for jihad may be made during the coming days”. Karachi may therefore become a “suitable” place for this jihad because the ruling triad is in disarray there.

The Muhajir-Sindhi divide has slid into the background and a Muhajir-Pashtun divide has come to the fore, in no small measure helped by the FATA diaspora into Karachi because of the civil war-like conditions there. As the army goes after the Taliban in the Malakand region more Pashtuns will trickle down to Karachi. The instinct of the ANP as an ethnic party is to give them a political safety net, only at the cost of sharpening its contradiction with the MQM whose electoral strength in Karachi is overwhelming — a fact that both ANP and PPP must pay proper heed to."


Would the white pasty faced NeoCOINists and sundry White House sycophants like to explain how their "strategy" for the "wogs" in Afghanistan is going to settle things down for the "wogs" in Pakistan, say Karachi for example?

What are all these white Neo-"Whiz Kids" (remember them?), military and civilian, smoking these days, or are they just eating opium laced Paan?

[Irony notice: I have nothing against Paan personally, a rather nice delicacy:


http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/columnists/kamran-shafi-yellow-ribbons-and-all-259>Kamran Shafi writes in the Dawn about all the things the American military **does not** do.



I saw no evidence of banks and travel agencies and textile mills and sugar factories and cornflakes-manufacturing mills and estate agencies being run by the US army (or the US navy and the US air force for that matter) in my travels across America. Armed forces stations were just that: armed forces stations with limited access to civilians, and those too who were accompanied by a member of the armed forces or their dependent(s). Neither, and this is important, does the US army run farming operations and get into disputes with the tenant farmers who till the land as share-croppers.

Since one mostly drives in the US to get from point A to B, many were the times that I came upon army convoys on the highways. Every single time the convoy travelled in the slow lane, at the designated speed, the drivers with both hands on the steering wheels, headgear on, looking straight ahead. No slouching, no cigarette hanging from the drooping lower lip Humphrey Bogart style. In the back, if there were soldiers being transported, they sat up straight, headgear on, no slouching, no smoking. And no leering at passing cars either!

Never has a US army captain who was given a ticket for a traffic infringement gone back to his barracks, filled a truck or two with soldiers from his company, and driven to the police station to which the offending policeman belonged, and proceeded to beat up everybody in sight. Never has a US army general’s wife got so infuriated by her driver being ticked off by a police constable that the local army authorities kidnapped the offender and beat the daylights out of him, among other ministrations.

Clifford Kiracofe

Sidney Smith,

Thanks for the kind words.

1. FYI, I am teaching a course "Energy and Global Politics" at W & L this spring semester. Af-Pak fits into a larger context.

In class we are using:
William Engdahl, A Century of War. Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (London: Pluto, 2004)
Rafael Kandiyati, Pipelines. Flowing Oil and Crude Politics (London: IB Taruis, 2008).

2. For a quick journalistic overview of the general situation impacting AFPAK:


3. For the continuity of US policy -- Clinton-Bush Jr -- Obama in this regard see Brzezinski's "The Global Chessobard".


"Perhaps the merry band of 40ish NeoCOINist officers (and a certain Australian buddy of theirs) should take their pasty white faces out of the library and get the asses into the field and into the dung-littered mud."

A stupid, petty remark.

Petty because your CV is not the CV of someone who has the standing to lecture McMaster/Kilcullen/Nagl/McFarland/Fick/Exum et al (McMaster and McFarland are loosely affiliated at most) on the need to get into the field, and anyone who teaches or has taught at VMI understands that "go into the field" represents a very specific thing to the group of people that you describe as "pasty white". I say this as a product of VMI's IS Dept - there's no way that you don't know better.

Stupid because your basic point seems sound - the Punjab will show some degree (TBD, but likely significant) of resistance to the codes of behavior that the "Taliban" (a loose term) have historically required. Roger, got it. It's a good point - too bad you made it awfully easy to write you off as a buffoon.

Clifford Kiracofe

1. Bloody battle looms for Mingora

* Residents say Taliban have mined roads and dug trenches around 200,000 trapped civilians encircled by Pakistani troops

ISLAMABAD: A deadly battle is looming over the capital of Swat, where armed Taliban have mined roads and dug trenches around 200,000 trapped civilians encircled by Pakistani troops, say residents and officials.

Ground forces have so far avoided close urban combat since launching a renewed offensive to crush the Taliban, instead massing on the outskirts while the Taliban mine exit and entry points, building up for a huge showdown."

2. "Second, in trying to cope with the difficult task of administering the camps and in aid of the jihad, we permitted jihadi parties, particularly the more fundamentalist among them, to exercise considerable amount of control in the camps and to propagate their distorted version of Islam. It was in these camps and in the schools run by these parties that the seeds of extremism were planted. Today, there is talk of screening new arrivals in tents to ensure that no Taliban find sanctuary, but it is even more important to ensure that volunteers at camps do not share the Taliban’s worldview.

It was disquieting, in this context, to read a report in the Guardian by Declan Walsh that one of the first refugee camps to be set up at Sher Gur, a few hundred meters from the Malakand Division boundary, is being run by the Falah-e Insaniat Foundation, the renamed relief wing of the Jama’at-ud Dawa. According to this story, the FIF camp is conspicuously well funded and organised, “particularly in comparison with the chaotic efforts of the government”.

While FIF spokespersons said they had no political agenda, Walsh noted that in nearby Mardan, bearded activists manned a fundraising tent festooned with FIF signs and the group’s distinctive black and white flags with banners conveying the political message: “Stop the killing of Muslims”.

It should be clear that winning the hearts and minds of the refugees will not be possible if such activities are permitted by organisations that have a very different agenda. Screening refugees will be a difficult if not impossible task but preventing such organisations from having any role in the relief effort and maintaining complete control of the camps is well within our competence."

3. "The Afghan opium trade, operating almost unchecked by US intervention in the area, has spread out into government corruption and widespread heroin addiction throughout Afghanistan and Iran....A common sentiment that he found throughout his interviews in Afghanistan was the idea that "Afghan officials work with the drug dealers, or sometimes, are the drug dealers."
As an example of the relationship, Lasseter refers to the upscale areas where top Afghan officials live in Kabul as "poppy palaces," expensive dwellings that most Afghans could afford to inhabit, not even government workers. "Those are houses in Kabul in relatively upscale areas where rents run into the $1,000 or up to $10,000 that are frequently owned by Afghan officials or those connected witht them who would seem to have no legal means by which to own that real estate, much less at the expense of armoured vehicles which often pull up around them," Lasseter says. Because of the extensive corruption and lack of social infrastructure, the order and enforcement of law has precariously short reach in Afghanistan, emphasizing an already chaotic country that some call a "narco-state." "There are many who would argue that the grid of the government in Kabul doesn't extend very far from Kabul," Lasseter says. ..."
Source: Frontier Post [Pakistan]. May 15, 2009.

Clifford Kiracofe

1. No counter-insurgency training needed: Kayani

Sunday, May 17, 2009
RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said that Pakistani Army does not require any generalised foreign training for countering insurgency, except for very specialised weapons, equipment and high technology.

In a press release issued by ISPR on Saturday, the COAS said, “Pakistan Army has developed a full range of counter insurgency training facilities, tailored to train troops for such operations.”

He was commenting on remarks from various quarters on the level of Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) training of the Pakistani troops and about their shifting from eastern borders. "


2. "Then the service members of Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan began, each firing round after round from their respective M-4 Carbine and M-16 A-4 rifles, improving their accuracy with each shot.

But the rifle sight adjustment exercise lost its simplicity when a powerful sand storm engulfed the Marines and sailors as they lay across the firing line. Sand filled their mouths and nostrils, covered their weapons and eliminated all visibility of their targets ahead.

Being outside the protective wire for the first time, the events symbolized the unpredictability of Afghanistan, as well as that of their future missions to follow. The storm cleared off and returned for hours to follow. The sun later set under blue skies...."

And notice the photo of the white American fellow and the locals....

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