Thursday, May 13, 2010

DTN News: Pakistan FEATURE ~ Tribal Terror By Australia Network News

DTN News: Pakistan FEATURE ~ Tribal Terror By Australia Network News Source: DTN News / Australia Network News (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - May 13, 2010: The wild tribal badlands along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan are often called the most dangerous place on earth, the most likely hiding place of the world's most wanted terrorists. Pakistan has long been accused by the United States of providing shelter to the Taliban groups that are attacking Afghanistan from the tribal areas. But Pakistan now claims that the reverse is true - that because NATO has pulled its troops out of remote areas and into Afghanistan's cities, the militant groups attacking Pakistan have free reign on the Afghan side of the border. The Federated Tribal Areas of Pakistan, known as FATA, lie along the western border with Afghanistan. They're one of the most wild, ungovernable areas on the planet. For over 200 years the British tried and failed to establish control, and settled instead for a series of treaties with the tribes who live in the region. It's an arrangement that's largely still in place today, with the Pakistan government virtually invisible. The result is a safe haven for all kinds of criminals, and all persuasions of militants. Despite repeated attempts to dislodge groups such as the Taliban from their strongholds, the Pakistan Army has found that attempts to crack down on the militants, has been like chasing smoke.

Created: Fri, 07 May 2010 09:32:32 GMT-0400

VIDEO from Australia Network News

Newsline's Thom Cookes reports from Pakistan's Federated Tribal Areas

Imtiaz Gul from the Center For Research and Security Studies, says the porous nature of the region has hindered the Pakistan army's efforts. "We have to keep in mind...that it's very very porous, very poorly governed, you don't have enough of human resources to deploy." "So at the moment you apply pressure, these people simply move out to other locations and then try to reorganise themselves." For the last seven years there's been an increasingly bloody civil war between the army and Islamic militants who want to overthrow the government, and impose sharia law across all of Pakistan. Major General Athar Abbas, spokesman for the Pakistan Army says 2009 has been the bloodiest year so far for his troops. "Virtually every day there were about 10 soldiers casualties. It was a very deadly, one can say." "But this is because the space has been denied to these organisation in their traditional bases so they are on the run." "They are in a desperate situation and they want to strike hard at soft targets." Despite General Abbas' confidence that the army is making progress against the militants, there's already been one failed peace deal between the two groups. Pakistani commanders are also complaining that when they put pressure on the militants, they slip across the border into Afghanistan. Army frustration Brigadier Zafar Iqbal, from the Pakistan Army says now that the NATO forces have withdrawn to Afghanistan's population centres, the militants have free reign in FATA. "On the [Afghan] side, they have sanctuaries...they have their camps where they can go, where they rest, where they even reorganise and come back...that's what's disturbing us." Brigadier Zafar says the lack of co-ordination between the Pakistan Army and NATO forces in Afghanistan is frustrating. "Our operations are linked to the situation on the other side. So these operations could be very effective if the [Coalition forces] conduct operations which are complementary. Then we can handle this very easily and effectively. But that's not what is happening." NATO commanders in Afghanistan have long complained of exactly the opposite problem. They claim the Pakistan Army is sheltering the Taliban militants who are attacking Afghanistan. But Imtiaz Gul from the Center For Research and Security Studies says demands by NATO and the US pose a challenge for Pakistani authorities. "Here's a dilemma for the Pakistani military, [that is] whether to go after those people who do not pose a direct threat to Pakistani interests at all." "The predominate consideration within the Pakistan government is do you really want to antagonise those people who are permenant residents of this region, where as the Americans would be gone, the foreign troops would pull out after some time from Afghanistan." According to General Abbas, despite the pressure from the United States, it's all a matter of priorities. "Some organisations, or a group which is not directly attacking the state, which is not directly threatening your own military or your own police. Therefore one would like to give it a low priority," he said. "It would not be wise to move against a threat which is not bothering you directly." But even where the Army is fighting with those militants trying to overthrow the Pakistani government itself, there is a strong sense that it is going round in circles. Peace deals At tribal meetings, or jirgas, it's the ancient tribal laws of Pashtunwali that apply - not the laws made in the Pakistan parliament, or administered by the courts. Sometimes the militants and the army directly agree not to attack each other. Sometimes the tribal elders claim they can raise a militia to control the militants, and that the army isn't needed any more but the deals almost always break down. Samina Ahmed, from the International Crisis group says every peace deal cedes territory and political space to militants. "What does happen is when you cede political space to them, the stronger they become and they attack the military again and the military goes and attacks strongholds." And so despite the thousands killed, and millions displaced from their homes, the civil war in the tribal areas is deadlocked. Samina Ahmed says in order for the deadlock to be broken, the FATA must be changed. "Any counter-insurgency will be unsuccessful if the politics isn't right and the politics will basically require a change fundamentally change in FATA itself." And that change means dragging FATA into the 21st century, and under full control of the Pakistani state. Despite the Pakistan Army's active role in the region, General Abbas says it's up to the politicians to come up with a solution. "It needs political reconciliation, a revisit of intergration, but I leave that to the politicians, it's not a military problem." But with a young and weak civilian government, caught up in its own struggle for survival, the chances of that change seem remote. *To read this article in original form, please click here .....Australia Network News *This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY May 13, 2010 ~ Taliban Kill 2 Alleged US Spies In NW Pakistan

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY May 13, 2010 ~ Taliban Kill 2 Alleged US Spies In NW Pakistan Source: DTN News / By Rasool Dawar AP Writer & (NSI News Source Info) PESHAWAR, Pakistan - May 13, 2010: Pakistani Taliban shot and killed two men Wednesday whom they accused of spying for the United States, while a bomb ripped through a NATO oil tanker near the Afghan border and killed a passer-by, officials and residents said. The slain men were from Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region which is effectively under militant control. The bodies were dumped in an open area in the town. Local resident Ahsan Ullah said notes attached to the bodies warned others to learn from the fate of the so-called American spies. Two Pakistani intelligence officials confirmed the deaths and the content of the notes. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not allowed to release information to the media. The Pakistani Taliban have killed dozens of people in recent years in similar fashion. The latest deaths come less than two weeks after militants killed a former pro-Taliban Pakistani intelligence officer after abducting him along with another ex-intelligence official and a filmmaker. Also Wednesday, a bomb ripped through an oil tanker carrying supplies for NATO forces based in Afghanistan, killing a passer-by, Pakistani border guard Fazal Bari said. The attack took place in Chaman, the main border town in impoverished southwestern Baluchistan province, Bari said. The tanker caught fire after the blast and police were trying checking whether anyone aboard the tanker was hurt. No one claimed responsibility, but militants often launch such attacks. Also Wednesday, four people died in two separate attacks in and near the northwestern city of Peshawar. A grenade hurled into a home in a congested residential area of the city killed two young girls and wounded two others, police official Razi Khan said. It was not clear whether militants were behind the attack and authorities were investigating. Meanwhile, a bomb explosion near a camp for Afghan refugees on the outskirts of Peshawar killed three teenage boys and injured two others, regional police chief Laical Ali Khan said. The victims were students at a religious school in Shamshatu camp. Khan said police and explosive experts were investigating the blast. Associated Press writer Matiullah Achakzai in Chaman contributed to this report. Related News
Pakistani security officials carry a dead body of a man near a burning oil tanker in Chaman near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border on Wednesday, May 12, 2010, in Pakistan. A bomb ripped through the oil tanker carrying supplies for NATO forces based in Afghanistan, killing a passer-by, Pakistani border guard Fazal Bari said.
Pakistani security officials carry a dead body of a man near a burning oil tanker in Chaman near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border on Wednesday, May 12, 2010, in Pakistan. A bomb ripped through the oil tanker carrying supplies for NATO forces based in Afghanistan, killing a passer-by, Pakistani border guard Fazal Bari said.

DTN News: Russia Says May Lift Veil On Nuclear Arsenal

DTN News: Russia Says May Lift Veil On Nuclear Arsenal Source: DTN News / Reuters (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - May 13, 2010: Russia said on Wednesday it may lift the veil of secrecy over its nuclear arsenal after a new strategic arms reduction treaty with the United States comes into force. In an attempt to bolster U.S. President Barack Obama's non-proliferation efforts, the United States on May 3 dispensed with decades of Cold War secrecy and published the size of its U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko praised the U.S. step and said Russia would consider doing the same after the ratification of the nuclear arms deal signed by Obama and Kremlin chief Dmitry Medvedev last month. Russia and the United States hold more than 95 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, enough to destroy the planet many times over, after first developing the weapons in top secret programs in the 1940s. "After the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which was signed by the Russian and U.S. presidents in Prague on April 8, comes into force, we will likewise be able to consider disclosing the total number of Russia's deployed strategic delivery vehicles and the warheads they can carry," he said. If Russia follows suit, the world's two biggest nuclear powers would come a step closer to much deeper cuts of thousands of non-deployed atomic weapons. It could also raise the pressure on other nuclear powers -- such as China, Pakistan, India and Israel -- to disclose their nuclear capabilities, analysts said. "This figure is one of the crown jewels of the Cold War when it comes to state secrets," said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists in New York. Nuclear weapons numbers were some of the most closely guarded secrets of the Cold War and spies on both sides expended vast amounts of energy trying to steal the figures or at least estimate the true strength of each others' arsenal. NUCLEAR POWERS Obama has put nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation at the heart of his effort to "reset" ties with Russia, signing the landmark arms reduction deal last month with Medvedev and reviving a major civilian nuclear agreement. Medvedev has praised Obama's vision of a nuclear-free world as "beautiful and right," though he has also said Russia will continue to develop new nuclear weapons and has called on other nuclear powers -- and those seeking to become nuclear powers -- to commit to cutting arsenals. The Pentagon on May 3 said the United States had a total of 5,113 warheads in its nuclear stockpile at the end of September, down 84 percent from a peak of 31,225 in 1967. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists estimates Russia has a total inventory of about 12,000 nuclear warheads, including 4,600 deployed nuclear weapons and another 7,300 nuclear weapons in reserve or awaiting dismantlement. Kristensen, who helped come up with the estimate for Russian weapons numbers, said that a Russian disclosure would put "serious pressure on the other smaller nuclear weapons states." "China has given some very vague references to their size but nothing with numbers yet. India and Pakistan have been absolutely quiet and so has Israel," he said. (Additional reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Louise Ireland)