Infanticide as Policy?
Six children were attacked in Afghanistan and Pakistan this past week. Three of them, teenaged girls on a school bus in Peshawar, in the tribal region of western Pakistan, were shot and gravely wounded by two Taliban gunmen who were after Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old girl who has been bravely demanding the right of girls to an education. After taking a bullet to the head, and facing further death threats, she has been moved to a specialty hospital in Britain. Her two wounded classmates are being treated in Pakistan.
The other three children were not so lucky. They were killed Sunday in an aerial attack by a US aircraft in the the Nawa district of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, not so far from Pakistan. The attack, described by the military as a “precision strike,” was reportedly aimed at several Taliban fighters who were allegedly planting an IED in the road, but the strike also killed three children, Borjan, 12; Sardar Wali, 10; and Khan Bibi, 8, all from one family, who were right nearby collecting dung for fuel.
Initially, as is its standard MO, the US denied that any children had been killed and insisted that the aircraft had targeted three “Taliban” fighters, and had successfully killed them. Only later, as evidence grew indesputable that the three children had also been killed, the US switched to its standard fallback position for atrocities in the Afghanistan War and its other wars: it announced that it was “investigating” the incident and said that it “regretted” any civilian deaths.
There are several questions that arise immediately from this second story. First of all, if the three kids were close enough to be killed by this “precision” attack, they were surely also close enough to have been visible to whatever surveillance craft was monitoring the activities of the Taliban fighters, and if they were seen, there should have been no air strike called in. Second, the US, allegedly trying to reduce civilian casualties, is supposedly now operating its air attacks under rules of engagement that only allow strikes where there is “imminent danger” to US or allied forces. How is planting an IED an “imminent” danger? If the location is known, troops in the area can be alerted, and the IED removed or detonated. An identified IED is not an imminent threat. Continue reading
Sports star turned politician Imran Khan and civil rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith will highlight US drones’ innocent victims
The British civil rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith and international cricketer turned politician Imran Khan will begin a peace march on 7 October into Pakistan‘s Waziristan region. Their aim is to highlight the plight of innocent people killed or injured by US drones.
Smith took the precautionary measure of writing to President Obama and his CIA director, David Petraeus, informing them about the march. In the letter, he requested that the president ensure the names of him and the other marchers would not be on the weekly kill list the president reviews, along with security officials, in the White House situation room. Smith wrote:
“Please remember that you and I are both lawyers from the same tradition, and it would be unseemly (as well as being both illegal and upsetting for my family) if you were to authorize my assassination.”
Like the sealed corridors in which the top secret kill list nomination process occurs – an account of which was reportedly leaked by the Obama administration to the New York Times – Waziristan has, until now, remained in the shadows, a place about which very little is known or reported. It is hoped the march will help open the area to public scrutiny by taking media there to gather independent information. Continue reading
US women may stage hunger strike in Pakistan in anti-drones protest
Code Pink activists gathered in Islamabad ready to join march led by Imran Khan into tribal region bordering Afghanistan
Not content with a planned march into one of Pakistan‘s most dangerous regions, a group of middle-aged American women are considering mounting a hunger strike outside the US embassy in Islamabad as part a campaign against CIA drone attacks in the country.
Thirty-five activists from Code Pink, a US anti-war group, have gathered in the Pakistani capital this week as they prepare for an unprecedented march and political rally in South Waziristan, one of the semi-autonomous tribal areas on the Afghan border, which is a hotbed of Taliban militancy.
Despite intense publicity surrounding the event, doubts persist over whether it will be able to take place. Local authorities have expressed strong doubts about the safety of the march, even though the Pakistani military has long claimed its operations in the area have brought a semblance of security.
Medea Benjamin of Code Pink protests in August
outside a building in Florida where the group says
drones are built. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images Continue reading
[Afghan Maoists’ analysis of the killing of Osama bin Laden, and what has changed.– Frontlines ed.]
Statement of the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistanon Osama bin Laden’s death: Forward towards Initiating and Carrying Forward the People’s Revolutionary War of National Resistance!
The actual pretext for America and its allies’ imperialist military onslaught to invade and occupy Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 was to kill or arrest Osama bin Laden, who was suspected as the real mastermind behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. During the past ten years of the war of aggression, and the presence of the occupying forces in Afghanistan that have continued under this pretext or others, tens of thousands of people have lost their lives and thousands of the poor huts of the wretched villagers have been destroyed.
But finally it became clear that bin Laden was not in Afghanistan but in Pakistan, close to this country’s capital, Islamabad, and beside the country’s biggest military training center––a training center for a military that is a vassal of the American imperialists and their allies. Apparently, a small group of 14 American special forces with three helicopters–and definitely with the close cooperation of the Pakistani armed forces–attacked bin Laden’s residence on the early morning of May 1, 2011 and killed him, along with one of his sons, and some of his close associates after a limited fire-fight. Immediately after this assault, Barack Obama announced the “American victory” with tympani and cockalorum.
American imperialists and their allies consider bin Laden’s death a big victory for themselves. Now they show off their power even more than before, pretending that no force can resist them. If we look at this claim from a short term tactical perspective then there is no doubt that it possesses some truth. They have eliminated one of America’s current “dangerous enemies” and so cannot avoid boasting about this victory. If we take a deeper look at this issue, however, the imperialists’ strategic weakness and fault can clearly be seen within their current tactical triumph.
First, it should be said that bin Laden was the product of their work: he was trained, organized and armed by them. His benefactors should have been able to easily eliminate such a rebellious one-time agent, just as the Soviet social-imperialists were easily able to eliminate Hafizullah Amin. Spending hundreds billions of dollars and enduring thousands of casualties in a prolonged effort, that stretched over a decade, just to kill a rebellious ex-agent cannot be a sign of strategic strength and power. Continue reading
[This article describes China’s growing economic stake in Pakistan. It also states that “in the second half of next year, American aid packages, in the wake of the beginning of the US troop drawdown in Afghanistan, will be reduced or even stopped,” and thus Pakistan is using China as a “hedge.” In reality, the US military is not leaving Afghanistan any time soon, and US economic and military aid to Pakistan will increase in order to prop up the economy and pressure the Pakistani government to undertake more aggressive military action against Taliban bases. Thus, Pakistan will continue to be heavily dependent on the US imperialists, with Chinese investments playing a secondary economic role.–Frontlines ed.]
Pakistan heads down China road
By Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times
ISLAMABAD – Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has visited China on several occasions since taking office in September 2008, but these visits have been more ceremonial than of substance, in part because his Washington-backed government had gravitated so close to the United States orbit that even the Chinese envoy in Islamabad publicly complained.
The Pakistani military establishment’s pro-China lobby, highly influenced by now retired General Tariq Majeed, frowned on this tilt towards the US, and was especially upset that the Americans were allowed to establsh a naval base in Ormara in Balochistan province, and that US defense contractors were given a free rein in the country.
However, the post-Pervez Musharraf-era army was weak and didn’t have much choice except to turn a blind eye. This situation continued until 2009, by which time the army had regained its influence in the corridors of power and had begun to prevail over the country’s decision-making process.
Hence, Zardari’s scheduled visit to China on November 11 takes on a special significance. Notably, he has not sought the counsel of his pro-US envoy in Washington, Husain Haqqani, who has consistently advised Zardari to keep his distance from Beijing. Instead, the president on Monday held a long meeting with Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani. Zardari will attend the opening ceremony of the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, as well as meet with his counterpart Hu Jintao and senior officials.
On the surface, the leaders will discuss the Washington-opposed plan for a fifth Chinese-built nuclear reactor in Pakistan. However, the underlying emphasis will be on new moves on the grand chessboard of South Asia. Continue reading