Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby dinesh_kimar » 30 Jan 2019 20:06

^ Why exactly does TOI's Indrani Bagchi think India is in a tight spot for not talking to Taliban?

Taliban are patently anti Indian, with local commanders activately participating in slave trading / rape of few Hindus and Sikhs remaining.

They are brutish and uncouth barbarians, who won't lose sleep for butchering an innocent Hindu/Sikh from a different culture (as has been amply demonstrated before.)

They blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas as these were deemed unholy. (Bagchi's suggestion that talks will prevent this from recurring, is akin to India supplying F-16 parts to Pakistan's Air Force, after line has shifted here, or vacating Siachen / Kashmir in the interest of peace.)

There are 100s of incidents, such as safe passage to hijackers, terrorists, conduit for anti Indian activity, drug running, etc. actively encouraged and involving Taliban.

I agree that we are limp and ineffective in Afghanistan (its not Modi and Doval, but Sushma who calls shots. She has a no risk policy due to her prime ministerial ambitions, and hence won't do the needful.)

We need more focus there, but talking to Taliban is not going to yield the peace, trade and good relationships that we crave. ( I didn't say don't use local knowledge and intelligence, but intelligence has to be applied as well as gathered.)

The Talibs will take our money ( you bet there will be money in some form when India is involved, we are stupid that way) , promise the moon (irony is, they don't own the moon, and after Chandrayaan, it's our flag which is flying there) and roll back their anti Indian activity for 5-6 months.

After that, it's business as usual.

( Hey, you want us to stop, better pay up. And, listen...... I want more now.)

This kind of behavior is not exactly the basis of good neighbourly relations.

Indrani knows all this, off course. She has her own agenda for writing this, and cares two hoots about Indian foreign affairs. Most of her pieces are about how the latest contender in Washington is going to affect relations with India.

It's our fault of regarding her as a foreign policy expert, when all her articles showcase her narrow stupidity.

We should think for ourselves.

But Indrani won't bat an eyelid for India's interests. ( I'm using this term a lot, picked it up from Vikas.Its good.)

The US is getting out of Afghanistan for different reasons, mainly inability to take casualities.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby arun » 30 Jan 2019 20:28

X Posted from the India-US Relations News & Discussions thread to the Terroristan, Afghanistan News & Discussion and Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat threads.

Excerpt on dealing with “South Asia” from the WORLDWIDE THREAT ASSESSMENT of the US INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY, January 29, 2019:

SOUTH ASIA

The challenges facing South Asian states will grow in 2019 because of Afghanistan’s presidential election in mid-July and the Taliban’s large-scale attacks, Pakistan’s recalcitrance in dealing with militant groups, and Indian elections that risk communal violence.
Afghanistan Stalemate
We assess that neither the Afghan Government nor the Taliban will be able to gain a strategic ilitary advantage in the Afghan war in the coming year if coalition support remains at current levels. Afghan forces generally have secured cities and other government strongholds, but the Taliban has increased large-scale attacks, and Afghan security suffers from a large number of forces being tied down in defensive missions, mobility shortfalls, and a lack of reliable forces to hold recaptured territory.
Pakistan Recalcitrance
Militant groups supported by Pakistan will continue to take advantage of their safe haven in Pakistan to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests. Islamabad’s narrow approach to counterterrorism cooperation—using some groups as policy tools and confronting only the militant groups that directly threaten Pakistan—almost certainly will frustrate US counterterrorism efforts against the Taliban.
Indian Elections and Ethnic Tensions
Parliamentary elections in India increase the possibility of communal violence if Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stresses Hindu nationalist themes. BJP policies during Modi’s first term have deepened communal tensions in some BJP-governed states, and Hindu nationalist state leaders might view a Hindu-nationalist campaign as a signal to incite low-level violence to animate their supporters. Increasing communal clashes could alienate Indian Muslims and allow Islamist terrorist groups in India to expand their influence.
India-Pakistan Tensions
We judge that cross-border terrorism, firing across the Line of Control (LoC), divisive national elections in India, and Islamabad’s perception of its position with the United States relative to India will contribute to strained India-Pakistan relations at least through May 2019, the deadline for the Indian election, and probably beyond. Despite limited confidence-building measures—such as both countries recommitting in May 2018 to the 2003 cease-fire along the disputed Kashmir border—continued terrorist attacks and cross-border firing in Kashmir have hardened each country’s position and reduced their political will to seek rapprochement. Political maneuvering resulting from the Indian national elections probably will further constrain near-term opportunities for improving ties.
India-China Tensions
We expect relations between India and China to remain tense, despite efforts on both sides to manage tensions since the border standoff in 2017, elevating the risk of unintentional escalation. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an informal summit in April 2018 to defuse tension and normalize relations, but they did not address border issues. Misperceptions of military movements or construction might result in tensions escalating into armed conflict.


From here:

WORLDWIDE THREAT ASSESSMENT of the US INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY January 29th 2019

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby souravB » 01 Feb 2019 03:39

Former Ambassador to Afghanistan speaks about the Afgan peace process

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby sudeepj » 01 Feb 2019 23:31

It increasingly feels like US could retreat pell-mell from Afghanistan in time for it to be portrayed as a success for the 2020 presidential elections. Substantial bribes to Pakistan through Saudi Arabia have been lined up and possibly, World bank coffers may open as well.

To be honest, there is increasing confidence in the US that any attacks can be handled using Homeland Security and lone wolf type attacks can not kill that many people. In any case, lone wolf 'White Male' attacks have taken a horrendous toll, so why focus on Islamists alone?

As per this line of thinking, what purpose is served by an American presence in Afghanistan the logistics for which depend on Pakistani whims, when the main theater for super power competition is going to be the Pacific and the SCS area any way. Yes, a few hundred Afghans may die, the remnants of Hindu/Sikh populace in Afghanistan may be wiped out, there may be atrocities on Shia Afghans, but no core interests of the US are threatened.

On the other hand, For India, the direction Afghanistan takes is very much a core interest. If the FATA/Af-Pak region becomes the R&R area for a reinvigorated Kashmiri Jihad, it can cause violence, terror spectaculars, and an advancement of political Islam in mainland India. The nascent Afghan civil society may be corrupt, but they are perhaps the only hope of making Afghanistan a somewhat modern, WestPhalian state that is not interested in participating/precipitating Islamist conflicts around the world.

What are Indian options in this post US Afghan scenario in 2020 and beyond? I have listed some options below.. Please expand as needed.

Defensive Options
1. Afghan politics still turns around the point of a bayonet. India needs some bayonets in Afghanistan to protect a nascent presence that could one day turn into a new Afghan government. A new deeper alliance with the 'Northern Alliance'/Tajik/Uzbek/Hazara is needed. The lives of every Afghan leader - Amrullah Saleh, Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah are going to be in grave danger going forward.
2. For India to win a conventional/subconventional battle in the AfPak region is probably a bridge too far. Keeping the military focused and coherent means that the Indian army should still maintain its focus on the Islamists on the Eastern bank of the Indus.
3. A severe hardening of the LOC is required to prevent infiltration.

Offensive Options
1. The final integration of Kashmir into the mainland should be hastened and both 35A and 370 must be dissolved forthwith, along with a militarized presence of the Pundit population.
2. The LoC must be rationalized so infiltration becomes impossible. If Pakis win on the West bank of the Indus, they should pay by losing a commensurate hand on the Eastern bank of the Indus, which is where we own all of the advantages.
3. The Northern Alliance must be supported with heavier weapons. A half squadron of Su30s posted in Ayni, perhaps transitioning in-and-out, old Indian discards such as the T55s, T72s, cost effective drones for surveillance, new local technology such as the LCH should be sufficient to preserve the new Northern Alliance.

Diplomatic Options
1. The longer term reliability of the US as a strategic partner lies shattered. The US is sacrificing Indian interests in Afghanistan without so much as a 'by your leave'. If they expect Indian support in SCS/Indo-Pacific, they must pay India a price by helping us develop the capabilities to defend the homeland, and also project power in Central Asia as well as past the first Island chain.

Longer Term Options
1. Cultivate the Pashtun identity and support the unification of Pashtun lands and people cruelly divided by the British and their Paki parasites.
2. The focus of Indian defense research orgs. has been on developing strategic weapons and systems that allow for fast moving, fluid battles against peer enemies. There is precious little research on cost effective fighting of siege or COIN type wars. Imagine if NATO had GPS guided artillery with a range of 300 kms. A scant 5 or 6 heavily defended fire bases could have substituted close air support provided by F18s and B52s today. That by itself would have cut down the cost of the war a lot. Remote controlled ground based drones that can substitute or augment expensive 'boots on the ground' type of expense is another avenue.
3. IEDs continue to be the basic insurgent weapon for which there is still no proper defense. Counter IED technology should be another area of focus. I suspect, in the coming Kashmir jihad, IEDs will be the preferred weapons of the terrorist. Boys running around with AKs cant achieve much.
4. Economic war against Pakistani interests. We must set up a framework for sanctioning individuals, corporate entities and NGOs post haste. Within as little as eight-ten years, India is going to be the third largest economy in absolute terms behind China and the US. We should learn to use this economic heft as a weapon.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby ArjunPandit » 02 Feb 2019 00:12

^^I havent seen anyone consider these facts, while equating Soviet withdrawal in late 80s and its impact to India in 90s to with the impending US withdrawal,
1. LOC has been fenced quite (agree not fully), IB has been fenced
2. pakis are in much worse condition and India much better (anyone remember the devaluation and indian gold mortgage to wb). They might get US leftovers in large #s but that is for us to ensure that we buy them (which i am afraid we would lose in our procurement policies)
3. Impending arti fire power getting available to IAF in coming years, over and above what we have. The ammo situation would be better
4. New normal set by this govt: Even if a new govt comes this year, it will face tremendous pressure to stay quiet after prev govt went ahead and avenged the terror attacks
5. Pakistan has been tagged as a dirt bag of the world, no matter how much support they get from US. World opinion won't stand in favor of pakistan,their noises will find negligible audience beyond OIC or OPEC (who will be more aligned to India for business interests)

Yes jihadi's will sneak through, we will see spate of attacks. But I dont expect indian planners to find napping. Also, as long as this govt is in place, pakis will be very afraid to plan another 26/11

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby ArjunPandit » 02 Feb 2019 00:13

also to your points in options, I would add purchase of US leftovers for India. Even a used gun and old gun may cause damage to our lives. Better that we get it. The cost of lives and defensive apparatus will anyways be more costly

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby sudeepj » 02 Feb 2019 00:29

Agree, India is in a much better situation compared to early 90s. But Pakis being Pakis, will always 'try something' every time they get a strategic opening. US aid in 60s led to the 65 war, Chinese nuke in 90s led to the insurgencies, Nuclear Tests led to Kargil.. It follows that they will try something post the US withdrawal. That the security establishment is alarmed can be read from the emergency purchases of sniper rifles and now the Sig716.

It is not necessary that the attacks be in Kashmir, they can happen along the coastline, can take the form of an IED campaign, an assassination campaign and so on. But if nothing else changes, a Jihadi offensive is coming, we should be in no doubt about that.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby disha » 02 Feb 2019 02:06

sudeepj wrote:It is not necessary that the attacks be in Kashmir, they can happen along the coastline, can take the form of an IED campaign, an assassination campaign and so on. But if nothing else changes, a Jihadi offensive is coming, we should be in no doubt about that.


Bakis are barbarians at the gate. And this barbarians with their assorted anti-India are always upto something. We only know about it when they succeed.

In fact, assassinations and terror strikes are overt attempts and any of such overt attempts should be met with surgical strikes.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby nam » 02 Feb 2019 02:14

Based on history: Parliament attack and 26/11 happen around time Pak got IMF coffers opened up for them...

Something to look out for..

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby ArjunPandit » 02 Feb 2019 04:37

^^before or after?I doubt POTUS will do that, but then he's a property dealer

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby SSridhar » 02 Feb 2019 07:32

sudeepj, nice analysis. Liked the various options you have listed.

sudeepj wrote: . . . The US is sacrificing Indian interests in Afghanistan without so much as a 'by your leave'. If they expect Indian support in SCS/Indo-Pacific, they must pay India a price . . .

However, in Indo-China Sea (aka SCS), we are equally (possibly even more than the US) interested in preventing Chinese power, for various reasons.
I believe that there is a very substantial cooperation between us & the US in homeland security issues. The one area where we might have an issue is if the US again enters into a marriage of convenience with Pakistan, thus going back to the 'strategic depth' nonsense. There are already signs of this happening.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby V_Raman » 02 Feb 2019 07:42

I have said this multiple times before and still I believe it - there will be Indian boots in Afghanistan.

Iran is neutralized with trading in rupees with India. So they will not have issues.

I still believe we will sign-up for F18 - engine commonality with LCA, engine tech, navy carrier fighter, NLCA help.

We are realizing the items needed to defend the homeland - arihant, LCA, S400, 155mm ugrade, and Rafale. Are there others? Arjun Mk2?

Boots might happen once we have these operationalized.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby SSridhar » 04 Feb 2019 09:19

Trump pushes withdrawal from 'endless' Afghanistan, Syria wars - AFP

From the 'Face the Nation' interview with Trump, the US has no problem in pulling out all the troops from Afghnaistan and dismantle all its bases there. They have now met the one unwavering condition by the Taliban that all foreign occupying forces must leave before talks. The US got a weak promise from the Taliban that it would forsake violence, take part in talks with the Kabul Government etc. What a sham! Kabul government will now runaway. Ashraf Ghani & Hamid Karzai must leave when the going is still good as otherwise they would end up with a fate worse than Najibullah.

He said, however, the United States will not give up its bases in Iraq.

"We spent a fortune on building this incredible base. We might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem,"
he said.

"We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It's perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up," he added.

"We're going to keep watching and we're going to keep seeing and if there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do
," he said.


So, way is being paved for the Taliban-Pakistan combine to come back to power and take Afghanistan and the region back to anarchy. Those two mistakes by Rumsfeld to allow the Kunduz airlift and then take the eye off Afghanistan and instead concentrate on Iraq neglecting the Af-Pak have led to all this mess. We are back not only to square one but even worse perhaps because the vacuum of US would now be filled by China in Afghanistan. Could one have imagined this coming of full circle in Afghanistan just after 9/11 and the 'with us or against us' talks and the 'take you back to pre stone age' warning etc? Wow.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Neshant » 04 Feb 2019 13:06

Massively scale back the aid going into Afg as well.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby ArjunPandit » 04 Feb 2019 18:09

let them stretch thin on other fronts. Hold on for a decade.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Austin » 05 Feb 2019 12:17

US trying to take full control of talks with Taliban, says Lavrov

More:
http://tass.com/politics/1043142

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby nandakumar » 05 Feb 2019 15:19

Any idea about the fighting capacity of Northern Alliance in the new scheme of things?

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Karthik S » 05 Feb 2019 16:54

With pashtuns against pakjabis in pak. How do you think pakees will be able to once again co-opt Taliban, who are pashtuns ? We in turn must try to make FATA and KP secede to Afghanistan.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby SSridhar » 05 Feb 2019 19:15

nandakumar wrote:Any idea about the fighting capacity of Northern Alliance in the new scheme of things?

The Northern Alliance is now very much isolated, literally.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby ArjunPandit » 05 Feb 2019 21:08

nandakumar wrote:Any idea about the fighting capacity of Northern Alliance in the new scheme of things?

IIRC NWFP leaders did not want to join pakistan, and wanted to join India. SOmeone also said, "you've left us to wolves" to chacha.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby sudeepj » 06 Feb 2019 03:23

The longer term interest of India in Afghanistan is to set up a West-phalian nation state that cares about the welfare of its citizens and not about the international jihadi movements. To that end, the preservation of a leadership that can achieve this and has genuine stake in this goal, is a core strategic interest of the Indian govt.

Beyond this, the use of Af-Pak region by Jihadis located east of the Indus is not something we can prevent. Even if a pro-India govt was in power in Kabul, those regions will be well beyond the reach and control of that govt. or India. Hitting them does not achieve much as the occupants (Pashtuns) are so much canon fodder to the Pakistanis. Further, they are not a necessary component of the Jihadi machine either - none of the Mumbai attackers were trained in FATA or Afghanistan! They were trained in PoK, Karachi and Pindi.

Pakistanis are always happy fighting India in Kashmir, in the Indian mainland, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal.. etc. etc. etc. What the Pakistanis don't want is a fight on their own land. This fight on Pakistani land is what India should deliver in order to compel Pakistan to behave in an appropriate fashion. We should not fall in the trap of fighting Pakistan in Afghanistan. Any Indian fire should be directed at the jihadis on the East bank of the Indus.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Bart S » 06 Feb 2019 04:52

sudeepj wrote:Pakistanis are always happy fighting India in Kashmir, in the Indian mainland, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal.. etc. etc. etc. What the Pakistanis don't want is a fight on their own land. This fight on Pakistani land is what India should deliver in order to compel Pakistan to behave in an appropriate fashion. We should not fall in the trap of fighting Pakistan in Afghanistan. Any Indian fire should be directed at the jihadis on the East bank of the Indus.


All very good, but our best shot at fighting Pakis inside Pakistan goes away if the Pakis get control of Afghanistan either via their proxies becoming influential or via a pliable government in Kabul. Why do you think that they are so paranoid about any Indian role in Afghanistan, and why they are gloating now that the Americans have caved and are looking to exit with their tail between their legs?

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Austin » 06 Feb 2019 12:01

DT in todays STOU speech mentioned about Taliban talks and the desire to move troops out of Afghanistan and keep a small force for anti-terror. He says he wants to end endless wars.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby sudeepj » 06 Feb 2019 22:23

Bart S wrote:
sudeepj wrote:Pakistanis are always happy fighting India in Kashmir, in the Indian mainland, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal.. etc. etc. etc. What the Pakistanis don't want is a fight on their own land. This fight on Pakistani land is what India should deliver in order to compel Pakistan to behave in an appropriate fashion. We should not fall in the trap of fighting Pakistan in Afghanistan. Any Indian fire should be directed at the jihadis on the East bank of the Indus.


All very good, but our best shot at fighting Pakis inside Pakistan goes away if the Pakis get control of Afghanistan either via their proxies becoming influential or via a pliable government in Kabul. Why do you think that they are so paranoid about any Indian role in Afghanistan, and why they are gloating now that the Americans have caved and are looking to exit with their tail between their legs?


This is a great point. Pashtuns are the only ethnic minority in Pakistan that has the numbers, will and ability to deal the Pakjabi state a heavy blow. Lets leave the Pashtun topic now.

My perspective is that if India needs its soldiers to **directly** fight the Pakis, then its better done on the LoC and the IB than through long distance shadow boxing in Afghanistan.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Austin » 07 Feb 2019 15:08

CENTCOM chief Gen. Votel on why Pakistan is of long-term importance to the US:

Image

https://twitter.com/ArifCRafiq/status/1 ... 8977423360

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Austin » 07 Feb 2019 15:08

The last line is interesting of Pakistan Interest ( US calls that Pakistanis Equities are acknowledged and addressed in any future agreement

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby arun » 07 Feb 2019 19:30

X Posted from the Terroristan thread.


wig wrote:https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-47147409

A protest Pakistan wants to hide from the world. the protestors of the PTM rounded up.

………{Rest Snipped}………


The Mohammadden Terrorism Fomenting Islamic Republic of Pakistan may be attempting to hide atrocities but the world has picked up on it. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s tweet on the subject:

Ashraf Ghani
‏Verified account

@ashrafghani
Follow Follow @ashrafghani
More
The Afghan government has serious concerns about the violence perpetrated against peaceful protestors and civil activists in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

7:51 PM - 6 Feb 2019


From here:

https://twitter.com/ashrafghani/status/ ... 0926247937

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Austin » 09 Feb 2019 17:53

Former Afghan President: US troops don't help create peace

https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/20 ... the-world/

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Neshant » 10 Feb 2019 23:15

Austin wrote:Former Afghan President: US troops don't help create peace




Sounds like what he was told to say by US to help US make a dignified exit..

Looks like US is about cut & run from Afg.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby SSridhar » 13 Feb 2019 14:15

The All-New Great Game - C.Fair, First Post, Feb 1, 2019
Piles of second-hand motorcycles headed to the bowels of Afghanistan, serpentine queues of brightly painted trucks, petrol-filled jerrycans piled up by the roadside: there’s nothing to show that this is among the world’s most dangerous roads. But, the India-built Delaram-Zaranj highway in Afghanistan has the potential to change the strategic map of the region and the fight to develop it is at the heart of a geo-strategic struggle for influence between India and Pakistan.

The 215km-road, also known as Route 606, links Zaranj, the capital of Afghanistan’s Nimruz province that borders Iran, to Delaram, a transport hub that connects to the Kandahar–Herat Highway.

I recently visited Zaranj and travelled the road built by India. I wanted to assess the infrastructural capacity and traffic through this border crossing. The border town integral to the highway’s success already strains from the shipments coming from the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. While Chabahar, a deep-sea port India is building in southeast Iran, offers the prospect to transform Zaranj, there is much work to be done.

On Route 606

What I found in Zaranj surprised my interlocutors in Kabul, many of whom were under the impression that the crossing is under-utilised. Far from it. This dusty town was a busy hub and at full capacity even though little traffic is coming in from Chabahar -- most of the vehicles are from Bandar Abbas.

If India hopes the road to be an alternative to Pakistan’s warm water routes, New Delhi should consider helping Afghanistan augment the infrastructure. For one thing, the bridge that links the two countries is too narrow for two-way traffic. It takes interminably long for a single truck to make the crossing.

Trucks are stacked up along the Zaranj-Delaram highway, making it difficult for regular traffic. Trucks may have to queue up for up to two months, clogging the narrow road.


The customs and border facilities struggle with the operational tempo as do the counter-narcotics forces. Large amounts of precursor materials that convert opium to lucrative narcotics such as heroin pass through Zaranj but police lack detection devices.

As I spent two days in Zaranj speaking to drivers, businessmen and an array of officials, I could not imagine how this crossing could bear more traffic.

Once in Iran, Afghan truckers report a bevy of woes, beginning with usurious visa charges, extortion, and inadequate quotas of petrol to make the journey. Truckers told me that they feel as if they have no advocates. Everyone said they wish the border could be open all day, every day. They, however, claim the Iranians demure for various reasons. Truckers entering Afghanistan must countenance the Taliban as well as corrupt police officials.

The big picture


In 2003, India and Iran signed the so-called “Road Map to Strategic Cooperation”. The centrepiece was the collaboration on the Chabahar port. India is also a stakeholder in the so-called North-South Corridor on which goods will move from India to Chabahar, pass through Iran via rail or road then onward to the Caspian and northern Europe.

Because Pakistan has denied India access to its soil, for New Delhi, Chabahar is a needed byway to Iran, Afghanistan and beyond. Moreover, it is 171km from Gwadar, the port China is building on Pakistan’s Makran coast as a part of the so-called “China Pakistan Economic Corridor”.

In 2005, India also began work on the ambitious Route 606. Built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) at a cost of Rs 600 crore, it was a constant irritant for Pakistan for various reasons.

First, is the nature of BRO itself, whose website explains it is “committed to meeting the strategic need of (India’s) armed forces”.

Second, Islamabad understood that the route would reduce Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan for access to warm waters. Islamabad has used Kabul’s reliance on Pakistan as a tool of economic arbitrage and to preclude India from having ground access to Afghanistan.

Third, Nimruz borders Balochistan, where Pakistan accuses India of interfering in collusion with Afghanistan. Fourth, it is yet another visible symbol of India’s presence in a country that Pakistan seeks to render into a vassal of Rawalpindi, the home of Pakistan’s opprobrious army.

Given Pakistan’s control over the Taliban and other murderous organisations such as the Haqqani network, the road came under constant attack during construction and after it was handed over to Afghans in January 2009, by which time six Indians, including a BRO driver and four Indo-Tibetan Border Police men, and 129 Afghans were murdered. This road was to be the shortest route to move products between Afghanistan and Iranian ports.

India retrenched from the project after the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran in 2006, ceding space to China. In 2015, under President Barack Obama, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the US along with the European Union forged a historic deal with Tehran to limit its ability to develop nuclear weapons, bringing Iran back into the comity of nations. The so-called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) cleared the path for India to re-engage in Chabahar. India resumed work on the port with alacrity.

The shadow of Trump


Late 2018, the fate of Zaranj and Chabahar was in a limbo again, contingent upon the whims of the maladroit US President Donald Trump.

When he assumed the presidency in January 2017, he began eviscerating the accomplishments of Obama. In May 2018, Trump withdrew from JCPOA and threatened sanctions against anyone dealing with Iran.

This disquieted India for several reasons. First, India imports more than 80% of its crude, of which about 10% comes from Iran. Indian refiners prefer Iranian crude due to better pricing and terms.

Second, Chabahar, where India is developing three berths, would also have come under the sanctions. India is also building a rail link from Chabahar to the Afghan border. Not only would the snap-back sanctions restrained India’s strategic goals, they would have also undermined the viability of the port.

Under the US law, Washington could exempt sanctions for activities that “provide reconstruction assistance for or further the economic development of Afghanistan”. Many analysts, including this author, strenuously argued that India should stand its ground and push for relief.
India prevailed. The Trump administration offered New Delhi a waiver on both oil imports and Chabahar, including the planned rail link. It was a huge relief not only for India but also for Afghanistan.

If Afghanistan is to get the most from this border crossing, it will have to dedicate more resources to clean up corruption, enhance security and work with Iran to make life easier for the truckers.
While the twin problems of corruption and insecurity perdure throughout Afghanistan, Kabul should prioritise the Zaranj crossing, which has the potential to transform this dusty little outpost with few opportunities other than trucking and hocking smuggled fuel.

India, which enjoys good relations with Iran and Afghanistan, is well positioned to help. In doing so, India will advance its strategic interests in the region while continuing to provide the value-added projects that have endeared Indians to Afghans.


A new way forward?


In September 2018, the Trump administration foisted upon the region yet another special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, with the hope that he could secure a negotiated settlement with the Taliban and conclude the 17-year war in Afghanistan. Scholars of South Asia were sceptical: few people are as loathed and distrusted by all sides as Khalilzad, who was in India as part of a two-week tour of the region early January 2019. Khalilzad’s mission seemed pointless given Trump’s announcement in December that he would withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

Why would the Taliban negotiate an end when they need not defeat the Americans and their Afghan allies? The Taliban only need to keep fighting to demonstrate that the Americans and Afghans cannot defeat them. This is the definition of an insurgent’s victory.

Why would Pakistan allow the Taliban to sue for peace unless that peace means Afghanistan’s capitulation to Pakistan? Would Afghans— who loathe Pakistan for the decades of devastation it has wrought — ever agree to such peace terms?


And, why would the Taliban or their backers in Rawalpindi care about Khalilzad’s efforts when Trump is talking withdrawal?

Whether or not the American Tweet State and Deep State agree on Afghanistan, it should be clear to all that Afghanistan needs a new way forward and I contend Chabahar—and Indian investment there—is central to this new future.

Contemporary Afghanistan is not the Afghanistan of 2001. Today, Afghanistan is connected to railheads with Iran, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. These rail heads are key to helping Afghanistan get its valuable resources out of the ground and to the markets.

Afghanistan was once dependent on Pakistan, it no longer is. Between 2012 and 2016, Afghan imports from Iran totalled $1.3 billion against $1.2 billion from Pakistan and $1.1 billion from China. During the period, Pakistan was the largest destination for Afghan exports with $283 million of goods, India was right behind with $230 million, a figure that is expected to rise as Chabahar comes online.

Over the last year, India has shipped about 110,000 metric tons of wheat and 2,000 tons of pulses to Afghanistan through Chabahar. If Afghanistan can improve political and trade ties with its neighbours, it can cut down dependence on Pakistan. Once independent of its murderous neighbour, Afghanistan will be in a greater position to extract political concessions.

This does not mean that Afghanistan will be peaceful. Far from it. Pakistan will work assiduously to undermine these efforts. But it does allow Afghanistan to move forward, while strategically isolating Pakistan that is not terribly dissimilar from the decisions that India has made.

New Delhi has understood that Pakistan will continue to kill Indians. However, every Indian leader since the 1999 Kargil war has known that the country has much to gain by avoiding a war with Pakistan. The strategic restraint has paid off: India’s economic growth has enabled it to invest in defence modernisation, to diminish the immiseration of its masses, and diversify its portfolio of strategic alliances.

This has not been cost free: every year, Pakistan’s proxies murder dozens of Indians. In contrast, three Indians die every 10 minutes in road accidents. In 2017 alone, 147,913 persons died, many times more than the lives lost in all of India’s wars with Pakistan, including Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir.

Even in Afghanistan, a war zone, 5,000 civilians were killed in road accidents in 2017 against 3,438 left dead by anti-government forces or in friendly fire. My intention is not to trivialise either kind of death rather to put them into perspective and to argue that progress can continue on some fronts even though Pakistan remains committed to murdering citizens of both countries.

(The writer has authored the books Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War and In Their Own Words: Understanding Lashkar-e-Tayyaba)

ArjunPandit
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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby ArjunPandit » 13 Feb 2019 15:41

^^fair aunty is trying to be too fair and patronising. She may be entertaining on some points, but deep within she has her priorities clear wrt and we are not at the top of her list. Like most democrats she has china and us on her mind. That needs to be kept in mind when she says what she says.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby sudeepj » 14 Feb 2019 22:59

Fair aunty is an American, she has no obligation to Indian sensibilities. For all her faults, she is one brave lady, going to taliban and Paki infested areas by herself. Her take about traffic fatalities is absurd. More than 30,000 people die by gun violence or traffic accidents or opiod overdoses in the US every year. Why did the US go to war after 9/11, in which less than 1/10 the number died, compared to each of these killers?

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby SSridhar » 15 Feb 2019 06:30

There are two aspects; one is Ms. Fair herself, her agenda etc; the second is, her analysis. We have dissected Ms. Fair's proclivities many years back. Nothing new there. Thereforee, when we read her analysis, we take the facts and discard the agenda-laden stuff.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby ArjunPandit » 15 Feb 2019 20:38

SSridhar wrote:There are two aspects; one is Ms. Fair herself, her agenda etc; the second is, her analysis. We have dissected Ms. Fair's proclivities many years back. Nothing new there. Thereforee, when we read her analysis, we take the facts and discard the agenda-laden stuff.

Can you please point me to the posts?

ramana
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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby ramana » 16 Feb 2019 00:55

Just use the search function in BRF.

BLUF What Unfair is telling us is
- Indian built Route 606 aka Zaranj -Delram highway and Chahbahar are bearing fruit. However much of the traffic is from Bandar Abbas as Chahbahar is still being built where India has three berths.
- Reducing and Removing structural bottle necks would liberate Afghanistan from Pakistan's grip.
Bottle necks are the narrow bridge, customs and border checks : may be introduce Fast-trak type tokens to clear customs. Checkposts cant be done away due to the suspicion.
The interesting point is Iran, Pakistan and China are big three import partners.
So what does Afghanistan import from TSP worth $1.2B over four years?


Afghanistan was once dependent on Pakistan, it no longer is. Between 2012 and 2016, Afghan imports from Iran totalled $1.3 billion against $1.2 billion from Pakistan and $1.1 billion from China. During the period, Pakistan was the largest destination for Afghan exports with $283 million of goods, India was right behind with $230 million, a figure that is expected to rise as Chabahar comes online.

Over the last year, India has shipped about 110,000 metric tons of wheat and 2,000 tons of pulses to Afghanistan through Chabahar.



I would like Afghanistan to be freed from Pakistan clutches as a strategic imperative.

ramana
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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby ramana » 16 Feb 2019 00:57

Can we get real data on this part please?

Overall trade picture from US sources:

https://www.export.gov/apex/article2?id ... t-Overview

Wikipedia on Afghanistan Economy:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Afghanistan

The odd thing is lot of Pakistan trade is based on import from Pakistan and re-export to Pakistan due to tariff system.
Goods exported to Afghanistan don't get taxed and imports also.
This benefits only Pakistan and some profit for the businessmen involved.


Trade in goods smuggled into Pakistan once constituted a major source of revenue for Afghanistan. Many of the goods that were smuggled into Pakistan have originally entered Afghanistan from Pakistan, where they fell under the 1965 Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement. This permitted goods bound for Afghanistan to transit through Pakistani seaports free of duty. Once in Afghanistan, the goods were often immediately smuggled back into Pakistan over the porous border that the two countries share, often with the help of corrupt officials. Additionally, items declared as Afghanistan-bound were often prematurely offloaded from trucks and smuggled into Pakistani markets without paying requisite duty fees.[40][41] This resulted in the creation of a thriving black market, with much of the illegal trading occurring openly, as was common in Peshawar's bustling Karkhano Market, which was widely regarded as a smuggler's bazaar.[42]

In Pakistan clamped down in 2003 on the types of goods permitted duty-free transit, and introducing stringent measures and labels to prevent smuggling. re-routing of goods through Iran from the Persian Gulf increased significantly. The pre-2003 smuggling trade provided undocumented jobs to tens of thousands of Afghans and Pakistanis, but also helped fuel the black economy, often intertwined with the drug cartels, of both countries.

In 2010, Afghanistan and Pakistan signed into law a new Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), which allows their shipping trucks to transit goods within both nations. This revised US-sponsored APTTA agreement also allows Afghan trucks to transport exports to India via Pakistan up to the Wagah crossing point.[40][41] Secondary to concerns regarding smuggling, Pakistani officials insisted that while Afghan exports destined for India can be transited across Pakistani territory, Indian goods cannot in turn be exported to Afghanistan across Pakistani territory. Instead, Afghan trucks offloaded at Wagah may return to Afghanistan loaded only with Pakistani, rather than Indian, goods in an attempt to curb smuggling.

According to Afghanistan's Chamber of Commerce and Industries deputy head, Khan Jan Alokozai, about 500 shipping containers of trade goods enter Afghanistan via the Torkham and Wesh-Chaman border crossings on a daily basis.[43] Other major trade routes in Afghanistan are via the crossing borders in Zaranj, Islam Qala, Hairatan, Shir Khan Bandar, and Towraghondi.


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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby shyamd » 22 Feb 2019 17:56

KSA & UAE deposited money with TSP central bank to get ISI to cooperate and get Taliban to talk to the US (is one element of agreement).

Taliban prepared to accept residual NATO force to guard embassy and join Afghan politics. Also accept Taliban to prevent Daesh & AQ.

Ghani not accepting some of the terms. NSA Hanif Atmar trying to create his own peace process.
HK is involved as we know and met with Taliban.

Still differences inside Taliban... Some want to fight, some want to join peace process, some don’t want TSPA influence. Every now and then Taliban leader put under house arrest if they don’t agree to TSPA terms.

Baradar quietly replacing some commanders who are more compliant with TSPA.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Rohit_K » 24 Feb 2019 08:22

First Afghan Cargo Will Head To Chabahar On Sunday
https://www.tolonews.com/business/first ... har-sunday

The Afghan government announced on Saturday that the first shipment of the Afghan goods will head to India through Chabahar Port on Sunday. The shipment will head to Chabahar Port from Zaranj City in Nimroz province, in the west of Afghanistan, said President Ghani’s spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri.

He said the cargo will contain 570 tons of export goods carried by 23 vehicles. “As part of the transit routes inaugurated by the Afghan government, the first shipment of Afghan export goods will head to Chabahar Port from Zaranj city through Abrisham Bridge and then to India. This is the first time that Afghanistan will be directly connected with India by using Chabahar Port,” he said. He said President Ghani will travel to Nimroz province on Sunday to inaugurate the first export cargo of Afghanistan to be sent to India through Chabahar Port.

Chabahar Port is a key trade port, providing Afghanistan with direct sea access. In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed an agreement on the establishment of a Transit and Transport Corridor among the three countries using Chabahar Port as the regional hub for sea transportation. In February last year, Iran said it had agreed to lease operational control of Chabahar to India for 18 months and in June, India’s Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said India is trying to make Chabahar fully operational by 2019.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Austin » 07 Mar 2019 09:21

Rand Paul Stated 6 Trillion USD spent on Afghanistan War

‘Time to declare victory!’ US senators seek to end ‘forever war’ in Afghanistan
Senators Rand Paul and Tom Udall have introduced a bill to end the ruinously expensive conflict in Afghanistan, declaring ‘victory’ in the longest war in US history after 18 years, some $6 trillion and over 100,000 dead.

“It’s important to know when to declare victory and leave a war,” Paul (R-Ky.) said in a video announcing the American Forces Going Home After Noble Service (AFGHANS) Act, adding, “I think that time has long passed.”


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