If we do not have a reasonably competent, friendly government in Kabul, nothing the west achieves will last. Ignoring the Afghan nation’s needs is not an option
This week’s comment in the Observer calls for a more inclusive role for Pakistan than the one recently articulated by Washington. Comment as follows: Donald Trump’s view on the conflict in Afghanistan was highly critical in 2011 when he tweeted that the US was “wasting lives and money” there. He later termed Barack Obama’s strategy a “complete waste”, saying it was “time to come home”. Trump stood on his head last week, ordering the deployment of additional American troops and committing the US to an open-ended war that he vowed to “fight to win”. So which Trump is right – the pre-election sceptic or today’s ardent warrior? The answer is neither.
When Obama took office in 2009, he raised US troop levels to around 100,000, part of a Nato force of about 150,000. His plan was to turn around a war that had already dragged on too long, then hand over to better-trained and equipped Afghan army and police forces. The handover duly took place in 2014, but the conflict was not over. Since then, security has steadily deteriorated. Obama was right to try, and Trump wrong to prematurely scorn his efforts. But what the 2009 surge ultimately proved was that even the most modern armies, wielding the latest weaponry and backed by unchallenged air power, cannot wholly overcome the sort of unconventional, guerrilla campaign at which the Taliban excel. More than 2,400 US soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001, and more than 450 British troops. But according to US estimates, government forces now control less than 60% of the country. Continue reading
On 23 December 2016, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the adoption of a Security Council of Resolution 2334 (2016) which states that the establishment of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, have “no legal validity,” constitute a “flagrant violation” under international law and are a “major obstacle” to a two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. “The resolution is a significant step, demonstrating the Council’s much needed leadership and the international community’s collective efforts to reconfirm that the vision of two States is still achievable,” the UN chief’s spokesperson Continue reading
As reported in the media, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has stayed the execution of three APS attack facilitators. The report from Dawn can be extracted as: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the execution of three men convicted by military courts for their involvement in the Army Public School attack. The three men — Mohammad Zubair, Ali Rehman and Taj Mohammad — were convicted of facilitating and abetting the deadly attack in Dec 2014 that killed over 140, mostly children.A two-member bench comprising Justice Dost Muhammad and Justice Qazi Faez Isa ordered a stay on the implementation of the military court decision. The families of the convicts had challenged the military court verdict through petitions filed in the Peshawar High Court (PHC), however, after PHC dismissed the appeals, they moved the Supreme Court through Advocate Latif Afridi. During the hearing, Afridi claimed that the high court did not even open the record and dismissed the appeals without hearing them. The court issued notices to the attorney general and jail branch, and directed the former to explain the dismissal of the appeals. The hearing was subsequently adjourned to Feb 16. On Dec 2 last year, four terrorists Continue reading
Ratko Mladić, the Bosnian Serb general accused of killing thousands of civilians at Srebrenica and Sarajevo – the worst atrocities in Europe since the Nazi era, remained a fugitive from justice for 14 years. In yesterday’s Guardian extracts from The Butcher’s Trail were published and Julian Borger tells the inside story of how the mass murderer evaded capture for so long and was finally caught. Of course we plan to get this book soon but in the meantime, here is what Borger, who was the paper’s chief correspondent in the region, said in this phenomenal long read: In July 1997, a Yugoslav army officer named Milan Gunj received an urgent phone call at home in Belgrade. Something strange was happening at work and he was needed immediately. Staff Sergeant Gunj’s job could best be described as that of an army hotelier. He had risen through the ranks from barracks cook and caterer to the rather pleasant task of looking after a string of gated and guarded holiday homes the Yugoslav military had traditionally provided for its top brass. The man calling him on this summer day was a soldier who worked in one of these bucolic retreats, at a place called Rajac in the wooded hills of central Serbia. Some unexpected guests had arrived. The soldier dared not say any more on the phone, but he was insistent Gunj come as soon as possible. Continue reading