Reply Tue 5 Sep, 2006 12:16 pm
as i said before :
if the western nations are a willing to make a true long-term commitment to truly "help" the afghan people to live better lives - and are ready to back it up with all the resources necessary - perhaps it might work .
imo what is lacking is a true understanding of the afghan situation ; sending in the army to shoot things up is not going to win as any friends .
i also think that before there is any hope of solving the afghan crisis , pakistan would have to be made a partner in the effort - which would entail spending even more money .
i just don't don't see the "other nations" - not just western nations - willing to make a real commitment here .
imo unless countries such as china , japan , saudi-arabia ... are ready and willing to also make their "investment" here , it's a lost cause ,
and i don't see those other countries coming in .
0 Replies
Reply Fri 8 Sep, 2006 05:02 pm
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 14 Sep, 2006 11:27 pm
In today's The Guardian:

"There is a tendency to characterise all of the violence in Afghanistan as the resurgence of the Taliban," said US General James Jones, the alliance's supreme allied commander Europe. "This is inaccurate. It doesn't capture the nature of the problem." He said the violence had other causes, including "the strong presence of the drug cartels which have their own infrastructure, their own export system, their own security system …"

Taliban not behind all violence in Afghanistan, says Nato chief
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Reply Thu 28 Sep, 2006 02:49 pm
Seems like Pol Pot came back to life in Afghanistan.
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Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 05:33 pm

while much of the world is constantly watching what's going on in iraq , afgahanistan seems almost forgotten .
imo afgahanistan is just as much of a hotspot as iraq .
sure , not as many people are killed every day as in iraq , but the taleban seem to have an almost inexhaustable supply of new warriers :
new recruits coming over the border from pakistan !
recently i saw a report from inside afghanistan that seems to confirm what BBC repoter david loyn is telling us .
whatever 'help' the western nations may have promised the afghan government , it either is never getting to afghanistan or it is filling the pockets of afghan government members .
in the meantime more humans are dying needlessly - both soldiers and afghan citizens .

david loyn , BBC reporter, reports from inside afghanistan .
from the above linked article :
"You destroyed our government and all because of just one guest in our country, Osama," said the man leading the war against the British.

We sat late at night in what must have been the women's side of a house commandeered for just that night by a man who stays constantly on the move.

The family were not there of course, but their presence was all around.

A Chinese-made sewing machine sat in the corner, and small scraps of cloth littered the floor, mingling with the rinds and pith of pomegranates, which the Taleban soldiers who filled the room ate as we talked.


The commander waved me away impatiently when I said that the British had come to provide security for reconstruction.

"They have had five years and look at the state of the roads here" he said.

International promises
And that is the biggest problem for the credibility of the British operation in the south. Afghans feel that there is not enough to show for the billions spent by the world on their country since 9/11.

Too little of the money promised has made any difference to life here and that is a powerful recruiting tool for the Taleban.
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 22 Oct, 2006 01:30 am
The former head of Britain's armed forces attacks current military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in today's Obsever:

Britain 'risking defeat in Afghanistan'
0 Replies
Reply Sun 22 Oct, 2006 10:51 am
last week the CBC-TV aired a 30 minute documentary on how canada got involved in afghanistan .
apparently (then) prime-minister chretien wanted to keep canada out of iraq and offered to send canadian troops to afghanistan (in a meeting with president bush) .
two of canada's top generals resigned quickly - one the next day after the announcement - because , in their own words "canada's army was simply completely unprepared for warfare in afghanistan " .
so the government found a general (general hillier) who - in his own words on TV - would deal with the "scumbags" in afghanistan !
so now the (new) conservative government had to show that they were even tougher than the liberals - and deper into the quagmire we get !

the canadian general - again on TV - was recently complaining that some of the other NATO-forces are not pulling their weight .
canada got stuck with the "kandahar" assignment and apparently other NATO forces when called upon to reinforce the canadian army in action have said : "thanks , but kandahar is not a spot we want to go to " .

what wonderful leaders we have !
it sems that many - if not most of them - have never had a chance to study much of history or bother reading books about other countries .
they don't even seem to bother to stay up-to-date with curent world news - too busy with "photo-ops" , i guess .
well , we elected "our leaders" , we better get used to them .
0 Replies
Reply Sun 22 Oct, 2006 11:24 am

the above linked article gives some more details of the frustation of the canadian government (and army) with some of the other NATO members .
afghanistan certainly has become a hotly debated subject with some canadians - when they are not pre-occupied with hockey :wink: .
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Reply Mon 6 Nov, 2006 06:36 pm

from the BBC :
Lord Guthrie - former chief of defence staff - told the Observer: "Anyone who thought this was going to be a picnic in Afghanistan - anyone who had read any history, anyone who knew the Afghans, or had seen the terrain, anyone who had thought about the Taleban resurgence, anyone who understood what was going on across the border in Baluchistan and Waziristan - to launch the British army in with the numbers there are, while we're still going in Iraq, is CUCKOO ."
politicians , of course , blithely keep talking abot winning the war in afghanistan .

just caught a snatch of this on the news - can't find the source . a british general apparently stated that it would be another TEN YEARS before there was any hope of peace in afghanistan .
in ten years it might be said : "we've almost succeeded . in another twenty years we hope peace will be established ... and so on ".
sounds more like the thirty year war that was fought in germany from 1618 to 1648 as time goes on .

as lord guthrie said : "...anyone who had read any history ..." .
but that's asking too much of our politicians , "reading history " ? boring !
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Reply Tue 23 Jan, 2007 04:26 pm
i think it might be appropriate to have another look at what's going on in afghanistan .
it seems to me that things aren't going exactly well there (either) .
the coalition troops are persuing the taliban , the taliban make a disappearing act , the taliban reappear .
as i posted earlier , canadian army commanders have given their troops strict instructions not to destroy the poppy crops - that is a job the afghan forces are suposed to do . this whole thing seems to have put the canadian troops into a "between-a-rock-and-hard-stone" position .
while it is agreed that the poppy growing is not a good thing in itself , the farmers have to feed their families ... and back they are to the poppy production .
here is a canadian reporter's up-to-date view .


Canada treads dangerous line over poppy eradication in southern Afghanistan

Murray Brewster
Canadian Press

Monday, April 24, 2006

SANGIN, Afghanistan (CP) - When the commander of Canadian troops in southern Afghanistan's poppy-rich Helmand province gives his word to village elders that his soldiers are not there to rip up their fields, he means it.

In fact, Maj. Bill Fletcher takes great care to ensure his armoured vehicles don't wreck the green pastures, or generally cause damage to the plants that produce a scourge of drug addiction in the West.

"It's basically my word as a commander to them," he said in a recent interview at Forward Operating Base Robinson, in the heart of Helmand River valley.

"There's a code of ethics and honour around here. My word as a commander, and my platoon commanders give their word that Canadians will not be involved in these things, seems to be taken at face value."

So far the farmers, whose livelihood depends on the opium crop, haven't caught on to the fact that the Canadian, British and U.S. governments support the eradication efforts with money, training and alternative crop programs.

Beseiged on three sides by poppy fields and in an outpost that was the target of a mass Taliban attack last month, Fletcher is practising what a senior British officer irreverently described as "realpolitik."

"There is a slight conflict of interest," said the senior coalition commander, who spoke on background.

"The West have a distinct interest to stem opium cultivation here. I believe 98 per cent of what's grown here ends up on western streets. The U.S. and U.K. governments have been very clear that that's got to stop."

But uprooting the plant from which opium and heroin is derived is not the kind of image the military wants to cultivate here as it tries to build trust among distant and suspicious rural Afghans.

As commander of C Company, 1st Battlion, of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Fletcher is faced with this potentially volatile conundrum every time he looks over the grey prefab walls of his remote outpost, where the poppies are so close they often kiss the edge of his razor-wire defences.

Last week, in full of view of heavily armed Canadian troops, local villagers and temporary workers went about the business of harvesting this year's crop. All of it will be processed in drug labs sprinkled throughout the Afghan-Pakistan border area, with some of the refined heroin eventually finding its way to the streets of major Canadian cities.

The program to rip up and burn poppies is organized and led by the Afghan National Police and army, a point coalition commanders hammer home at every opportunity. Much of the super-secret anti-narcotics operation is focused on destroying the processing labs.

Given the grinding systemic poverty of this region, where the average civil service wage is equivalent to about $60 Cdn a month, the troops find it hard not to feel some sympathy for the farmers.

"The reality for these guys is, they grow poppies because they get enough money to live," said Fletcher.

"They're not drug barons, you know. They're not huge traffickers or anything else. They're just farmers trying to make a go in what is a pretty tough landscape."

The complaints of villagers around here isn't much different than farmers on the Prairies back home, except this crop becomes an illegal narcotic.

In Shurahs they tell Fletcher of their concerns over water supply, irrigation and the ability to get people to harvest their crops in a timely fashion, said Fletcher.

The farmers here are also businessmen, who earn an average of about $685 per year. A field of poppies fetches 27 times more than a field of wheat in this reasonably barren land, which at one time was bread basket of Afghanistan.

"Somebody somewhere is going to have to come up with some proper alternative livelihood strategy because this is not sustainable," said the senior coalition official.

While the United States and Britain pour millions of dollars into training and equipping Afghans to eradicate the fields, Canada has been attempting to develop programs that will encourage farmers to switch crops.

"We do the squishy part," said a senior Canadian Foreign Affairs official, who also spoke on background.

As part of the effort, the coalition printed and distributed flyers that warn, among other things, about the dangers of poppy production, only to discover that much of the adult population in Helmand province is illiterate.

Coalition commanders will argue with you on whether these poor, ignorant farmers and villagers are being deceived by this two-pronged strategy.

"It's not easy, but there's no point in creating a narco-state," said the senior coalition officer.

"Duplicity is a reality. We're not at some libertarian love-in here. This isn't Ottawa. This is Afghanistan. This is realpolitik where the rubber meets the road."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai promised in January he would reduce poppy cultivation by 20 per cent this year. But recent United Nations report said Afghan farmers were planting more poppy this year than in 2005.

The same report also pointed out that the opium crop in Afghanistan jumped by 21 per cent last year when compared to 2004.

so what's the solution ?
let the farmers grow poppies and be able to feed their families or
destroy the poppy plants and let the afghan farmers and their families go hungry ?
even if the afghan poppy crop is destroyed , there would probably be plenty of other suppliers .
a bit of a dilemma , isn't it ?
0 Replies
Reply Fri 26 Jan, 2007 06:18 pm
british physicians have suggested using afghan poppy crop as an alternative to more expensive medications ans also to to help put money into the pockets afghan farmers .
Afghan poppies 'could help NHS'
By Adam Brimelow
BBC News, health correspondent

Doctors want Afghan poppy fields to be used for the NHS
Leading doctors say Afghanistan's opium-poppy harvest should be used to tackle an NHS shortage of diamorphine.
The British Medical Association says using the poppy fields in this way, rather than destroying them, would help Afghans and NHS patients.

Diamorphine, also known as heroin, is used to relieve pain after operations and for the terminally ill.

But the UK and Afghan governments reject using the poppy fields to address the UK's diamorphine shortage.

However, UK doctors say the diamorphine shortage is getting worse, leaving them reliant on less effective, more expensive alternatives.

Dr Jonathan Fielden, a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine in Reading, said: "Unfortunately over the last year in particular, the availability of diamorphine has dramatically reduced.

"It's not clear why this is, but it has got to the stage where it is almost impossible in some hospitals to get hold of this drug for use outside very specific circumstances.

"This is a great shame because it is such a good drug".

source : BBC report
0 Replies
Reply Fri 26 Jan, 2007 06:28 pm
the british doctors wanting britain to purchase afghan poppy crops , may have found an ally in afghan president , who apparently has now decided to allow the growing of poppy crops .

Afghanistan won't spray poppy plants By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jan 25, 4:20 PM ET

KABUL, Afghanistan - Rebuffing months of U.S. pressure, Afghan President Hamid Karzai decided against a Colombia-style program to spray this country's heroin-producing poppies after the Cabinet worried herbicide would hurt legitimate crops, animals and humans, officials said Thursday.
The decision, reportedly made Sunday, dashes U.S. hopes for mounting a campaign using ground sprayers to poison poppy plants to help combat Afghanistan's opium trade after a record crop in 2006.

Karzai instead "made a very strong commitment" to lead other eradication efforts this year and said if that didn't cut production he would allow spraying in 2008, a Western official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The spokesman for Afghanistan's Ministry of Counternarcotics, Said Mohammad Azam, said this year's effort will rely on "traditional techniques" _ sending laborers into fields to trample or plow under opium poppies before they can be harvested. A similar campaign during 2006 failed.

Fueled by the Taliban, a powerful drug mafia and poor farmers' need for a profitable crop that can overcome drought, opium production from poppies in Afghanistan last year rose 49 percent to 6,700 tons _ enough to make about 670 tons of heroin. That is more than 90 percent of the world's supply and more than the world's addicts consume in a year.

The booming drug economy, and the involvement of government officials and police in the illicit trade, compounds the many problems facing Afghanistan's fledgling democracy as its struggles with stepped-up attacks by insurgents loyal to the former Taliban regime.

Top Cabinet members _ including the agriculture, defense and rural redevelopment ministers _ pressured Karzai to reject the spraying plan, saying herbicide would contaminate water, hurt humans, farm animals and legitimate produce, officials said.

The ministers also feared a violent backlash from rural Afghans, the Western official said.

Afghan farmers have sometimes turned to violence to protect poppy plants, which are harvested in the spring and whose profits are believed to flow partly to Taliban militants. Police said two eradication workers were wounded by gunmen Wednesday in western Herat province.

"We're happy with Karzai's decision. Spraying affects the animals and vegetables, even humans," said Asadullah Wafa, the governor of the top drug-producing province, Helmand.

"There is another way to eradicate, like launching operations through all the districts, and I hope the international community will give us tractors and provide more troops to destroy poppies."

U.S. officials have said the herbicide in question _ glyphosate, sold as Roundup in the United States _ is safe. It would have been applied by ground spraying rather than planes to allay Afghan fears of chemicals falling from the sky.

U.S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann said this week that Afghanistan has eradicated 1,483 acres of poppies so far this year _ compared to none by the same time last year.

Still, that's only a fraction of the 407,000 acres of poppies that were cultivated in 2006, including 173,000 acres in Helmand province alone, according to U.N. figures.

There were indications the U.S. was ready to implement spraying if Karzai had approved the project.

"We're prepared to do spraying if the Afghans want us to do it," said Gregory Lagana, a spokesman for Virginia-based DynCorp International Inc., which runs the U.S.-backed aerial eradication campaign in Colombia and is also present in Afghanistan.

U.S. and Afghan officials agree eradication must be matched with a crackdown on traffickers as well as programs to help farmers switch to legal crops and get their produce to market. Few Afghan crops can be transported far without spoiling or damage because of insecurity and poor roads. By comparison, poppy resin, the main ingredient in heroin, can keep for years.

Karzai's decision capped months of behind-the-scenes pressure to allow spraying like that already used in countries such as Colombia, where coca plants supply much of world's cocaine.

Just last month, John Walters, top U.S. anti-drug official, said Afghan poppies would be sprayed, although he did not say when. Walters, on a visit to Kabul, warned that Afghanistan could turn into a narco-state unless "giant steps" were made toward eliminating poppies.

However, no top Afghan officials had said publicly the government would carry out spraying.

Joe Mellott, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, said the U.S. still "stands ready to assist the Afghans if they want to use herbicide."

"We always said that the ground-based spraying is a decision for the Afghans to make," he said. "We understand they are going to focus on a robust manual and mechanical program to eradicate poppies this year."


source :
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Reply Tue 30 Jan, 2007 11:00 am
Radio Netherlands Press Review Service
Tuesday 30 January 2007

Afghan opium

Trouw reports that the Netherlands doesn't want opium poppy fields destroyed in Uruzgan, the Afghan region where its troops are operating. The initiative to destroy newly sown opium fields follows pressure from the US.

However, Dutch Development Co-operation Minister Agnes van Ardenne says: "We've only just managed to gain the trust of small-scale local farmers. We shouldn't hit them hard right now".

The Dutch believe that a policy to tackle the opium trade, which the US says finances terrorism, should not just target farmers. The people who orchestrate the drugs trade must also be dealt with.

On an inside page, Trouw prints a photo of a Dutch soldier entertaining Afghan children with his bicycling tricks. It poses the question whether the Dutch mission in Afghanistan, due to end in 2008, should be extended.
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Reply Sat 3 Feb, 2007 05:03 pm
is there any hope of peace for afghanistan ?
imo the western nations don't have much of a chance of fostering(?) peace there .
an article in today's 'toronto star' pointed out that any peace settlement would likely need the approval of china , india , pakistan , russia ... and perhaps the united states . the writer did not hold out much hope for peace imposed from the outside .

the 'timesonline' reports :

source :
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Reply Sat 3 Feb, 2007 06:12 pm
Sad Several more good reasons to end the idiotic war on drugs. Thanks guys.
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 4 Feb, 2007 02:35 am
Taliban town seizure throws Afghan policy into disarray

Musa Qala's fall jeopardised the entire UK strategy. Now a fight is on to take it back. Jason Burke reports from Kandahar

Sunday February 4, 2007
The Observer

Nato and Afghan national forces were preparing yesterday to launch a potentially bloody assault on a crucial southern town recaptured last week by the Taliban.
Musa Qala, in the mountains of northern Helmand province, had been a stronghold of Taliban insurgents and a scene of fierce battles with British troops before a controversial truce came into force three months ago. The truce, negotiated by local authorities and the village elders, was widely criticised as a concession to the insurgents, though British commanders defended the agreement as 'pioneering'.

General David Richards, the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, had been a staunch supporter of the Musa Qala truce. Yesterday he said he had discussed the loss of the town with the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai. 'What is important is that we look after the brave people who had the courage to stand up to the pretty vicious hoods that are now intimidating them,' Richards said. 'We will put the tribal elders back in control of Musa Qala and we will kick out the Taliban and defeat them.'

General Zahir Azimai, of the Afghan National Army, said that there was a plan to retake the town which would 'be launched soon'.

The insurgents had attacked late on Thursday afternoon, between two and three hundred strong, some moving through the fields, others in pick-up trucks and on motorbikes on the dusty tracks. Within an hour they had taken over the town, disarmed the local police, imprisoned the elders and destroyed the police station and district governor's office with tractors. The recently-hoisted national flag of Afghanistan no longer flew over the small compound of government offices. The Taliban was back, and though its fighters had dispersed yesterday to avoid Nato air strikes, they were still very much in control. It was not exactly the change of flags that coalition commanders had expected.

Today General Richards hands over command of the 31,000 Nato troops in Afghanistan to his successor, the American General Dan McNeill. For Richards and his British headquarters team, the several months of peace at Musa Qala that followed the controversial truce, concluded last October, were the vindication of a daring and clever policy. With minimal resources Richards has succeeded in at least containing what was a fast-growing insurgency. But with the Taliban back in the town, Richards's departure has been badly tarnished.

Though Musa Qala itself is far from strategically sited, on a small plateau on the southern rim of Afghanistan's central mountainous core, the reasons for its notoriety are many. It was here that the newly arrived Parachute Regiment soldiers got bogged down in fortified bunkers last summer. Scenes of beleaguered British soldiers - six were killed - holding off Taliban attacks night after night made claims by Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, that the new deployment into the violent and unstable Helmand province might be done without a shot being fired look risible.

In order to extricate the British troops, end the fighting and, hopefully, allow the reconstruction and development work that is seen as so crucial in 'winning the consent' of the local people, General Richards assented to withdraw his men five kilometres (three miles) from Musa Qala as his part of an agreement negotiated by the recently appointed provincial governor and local elders. Approved by President Karzai, the deal meant that the elders would allow government officers into the town, allow the Afghan national flag to be flown and keep out the local Taliban groups, led by a cleric called Mullah Ghaffour.

Richards, his commanders, Downing Street and the United Nations see the reconstitution of a strong local administration, police and army as essential to the successful development of Afghanistan - and to the exit of British forces. So even last week senior British officers were speaking positively of a second Musa Qala-style agreement in another northern Helmand town of Nawzad.

But opposition to the Musa Qala agreement did not just come from the Taliban forced to leave the town. American officials have poured scorn on the deal, saying that it was a truce with the insurgents, and briefing heavily against it in Washington. The competence and even the fighting will of the British was questioned.

General McNeill, nicknamed 'Bomber' because of his taste for air power, is known to be 'far from a fan'. American diplomats said drily last week that they did not see the deal as 'a model in any way'. British officers last week described American and UK relations as 'at an all-time low'.

The truth is that the Musa Qala agreement went right to the heart of doctrinal differences among Nato allies. The Americans favour a 'kinetic approach' that is, in the words of one British senior soldier, 'a lot less carrot, a lot more stick and considerably more projectiles'.

The Musa Qala agreement began to unravel, after three months of relative peace, last week. Encouraged by the new provincial governor indicating that he was planning to be harder on the Taliban than before, local elders in Musa Qala, possibly armed by the Afghan government, disarmed Mullah Ghaffour, the key local Taliban commander, and forced him to leave the town. Then came a Nato bombing raid by an American B-1B stealth jet just outside the five-kilometre exclusion zone around the town which narrowly missed Ghaffour but killed his brother and 20 followers. Incensed, suspecting that the elders had given away his hiding place, the militant set about gathering his forces. On an individual level, in local Pashtun society, a man's honour depends on exacting revenge. And Ghaffour had allies.

The fatal flaw in the Musa Qala agreement was the tribal factor. Afghan society is still heavily tribal, especially in the south and east where the Pashtun ethnic group is dominant. Main Pashtun tribes are split again and again into sub-tribes and clans. As they have done for centuries, all squabble incessantly over scarce resources but, if a just distribution of money, drugs, guns, access to education, water, business opportunities (legal or illegal), political and administrative power is reached, then a fragile stability can emerge. In Helmand it is the Alozai tribe who are dominant. But the Alozai is split into a dozen smaller groupings and it was one of these splinter factions that, in the chaos of the fall of the Taliban in 2001, grabbed a lion's share of power.

When negotiation, lobbying and even participation in Afghanistan's recent elections failed, violence became the other clans' best option. And with northern Helmand packed with drug traffickers, poverty-stricken labourers and farmers, as well as a handful of radical religious militants such as Mullah Ghaffour already armed and ready, a tribal war party was not difficult to raise.

It was this very Afghan, very combustible mixture of tribe, religion and hard cash that undermined the carefully stacked house of cards that was the Musa Qala agreement - and with it a key part of the credibility of the British strategy in Afghanistan.

So what happens now? Nato planners predict that, following defeats in conventional pitched battles last year, the Taliban will shift to 'asymmetric tactics', such as suicide bombings. But the rough coalition of religious fanatics, disaffected tribes, drug-dealers and the poor and the resentful are more likely to return to what brought them success in 2004 and 2005: lightning raids on isolated government outposts, night ambushes on road traffic, and intimidation of officials, teachers, and NGOs.

General Richards has banned the words 'Taliban spring offensive' as defeatist, speaking of a Nato spring campaign instead. Whatever the name, the next months will be busy.
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 4 Feb, 2007 02:37 am
0 Replies
Reply Tue 13 Feb, 2007 05:50 pm
the BBC reports :
US 'not to repeat Afghan errors'
The US will not repeat its error of neglecting Afghanistan and allowing extremists to take over, Defence Secretary Robert Gates says.
He was speaking after talks in neighbouring Pakistan with President Pervez Musharraf.

Nato and Afghan forces are preparing for a Taleban offensive this spring.

On Sunday the governor of Afghanistan's southern Helmand province said up to 700 insurgents had crossed from Pakistan to fight British forces.

Afghanistan and Pakistan share a 1,400-mile (2,250km) mountainous border.

Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters are thought to be operating on both sides of the border which is extremely difficult to patrol.

'Long haul'

Mr Gates was on his first trip to Pakistan since becoming US Defence Secretary.

"My first visits to Pakistan were over 20 years ago and were in connection with our mutual effort to help the Afghans drive the Soviet troops from their territory," he told journalists.

"After the Soviets left, the United States made a mistake. We neglected Afghanistan and extremism took control of that country.

"We won't make that mistake again. We are here for the long haul."

Mr Gates said that in his talks with the Pakistan government he had discussed ways that Pakistan could work with US commanders in Afghanistan to pressure insurgents on both sides of the border.

He said the allies had a chance to deal a strategic setback to the Taleban and described Pakistan as a very strong ally.

The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says that Mr Gates did not repeat criticism expressed by other US and Nato officials that Islamabad is not going after Taleban fighters who take refuge on its soil.

President Musharraf has admitted there are weak points in policing the border and that the Taleban do get support from within Pakistan.

But he has strongly denied any official backing for the Taleban.

He has also refused to take sole responsibility for the border, saying that border security must be a joint effort with forces on the Afghan side.

Our correspondent says that Western officials acknowledge President Musharraf's difficulties, but they are afraid that the Taleban are using Pakistan to prepare for a spring offensive. More high-level visits here are expected to Pakistan shortly.

Gen Musharraf's government has also come under fire for pacts with tribal militants in the North and South Waziristan areas. Critics say the deals give Taleban fighters based there freedom to go where they please.

The new Nato commander in Afghanistan, Gen Dan McNeill, says that 2,000 extra troops are needed to patrol the border with Pakistan.

There are currently around 33,000 troops from 37 nations in Afghanistan.

in the meantime the canadian senate has stated that they will recommend that canada "rethink" its mission in afghanistan unless the other NATO members put more troops and money on the line !
but it seems that the european NATO members are not overly eager to send more troops ... and the pakistani president talks out of both sides of his mouth (not that i blame him for it ; his life may depend on it ).

0 Replies
Reply Fri 23 Feb, 2007 10:02 am
the BBC reports from kabul/afghanistan :

Afghan warlords in amnesty rally
Supporters say future peace depends on the amnesty
Around 25,000 people have rallied in the Afghan capital Kabul, calling for a proposed war crimes amnesty for former military commanders to be made law.
The protesters, who gathered in a stadium, included ex-mujahideen and several top government officials.

The upper house of parliament has passed the controversial bill but it has yet to be signed by the president.

Tens of thousands of people were killed and tortured during decades of war and unrest in the country.

If the bill were to become law, those who led fighting first as leaders of the anti-Soviet resistance during the 1980s and then during the 1992-1996 civil war would be immune to prosecution for war crimes.

International rights groups and the UN have voiced opposition to the proposal, saying justice must be done.

The protesters, waving placards with pictures of political leaders, gathered in the city's Ghazi football stadium, where people were executed and tortured during the Taleban era.

"Whoever is against mujahideen is against Islam and they are the enemies of this country," former fighter Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, now an influential lawmaker, told the crowd of demonstrators.


this will no doubt present a severe test of the powers of president karzai .
it would seem that no matter which way he decides to go , a large portion of the afghan citizens will be unhappy with his decision .
perhaps he'll be able to get the various factions to agree to a comprise ?
in the past the mujahideen have not shown much willingnesss for compromises - they rather fight .

0 Replies
Reply Wed 7 Mar, 2007 02:51 pm
The use of force did not serve the British imperial army, and it is not going to serve anyone else. The solution lies in negotiations

Maulvi Nek Zaman, member of parliament for the North Waziristan tribal district

the BBC reports :
United against Nato and the west
By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, North Waziristan

The Waziristan area contains many groups with different aims

Taleban and al-Qaeda insurgents in Pakistan's tribal region bordering Afghanistan have shown themselves to be a monolithic force capable of highly co-ordinated action.

But a closer look at the militants reveals an array of widely divergent groups with just one thing in common - the determination to force Western troops out of Afghanistan.

This one-point agenda is used by the tribal clerics affiliated with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party to provide these groups with a veneer of ideological unity.

The whole arrangement stands in sharp contrast to the inability or unwillingness of the Pakistani government to exploit differences between these groups.

so while the various groups of "afghanis" have their differences with each other , they seem to have no problem forging alliances to defeat the invading forces of various western countries .
and pakistan , despite repeated denials from the pakistani president , seems content to turn the eye away from the problem situation .
the afghans have time on their side : they are willing to wait !
elders have no trouble telling the stories of how enemies were defeated in the past - 20 years ago , 150 years ago or 500 years ago . they know their history and seem to be able to wait until the enemy is defeated on the battlefield or simply gets tired of being bled slowly - allah's followers are patient .

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