Gen Petraeus Debunks Allegations of Duplicity Against Pakistan

General David Petraeus, former CIA director and commander of US troops in Afghanistan, has said there is no evidence of Pakistan playing a double game and supporting terrorists in Afghanistan. Petraeus' remarks are now particularly significant given the fact that he is on a short list of President-Elect Donald Trump's nominees for Secretary of State.  He was answering a question posed to him at a presentation at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a British security think tank based in London.

Is Pakistan Duplicitous?

The question was asked by a female Afghan Ph.D. student at the end of remarks by the general on "Security Challenges Facing the Next US Administration". Here's the question:

"General you have stated that democracies can not win long wars (General Petraeus interrupted and said he did not say that and added "in fact I take issue with that" as the student continued). Afghanistan is now US's longest war. What stops the US to win the long war..whether Pakistan intelligence is the cause of the long war? Why does the US not take action against the Pakistan ISI which continues killing and supporting terrorists?"


General David H. Petraeus's response:

Here's part of Gen Petraeus' response: "I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again as CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA).... I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions (as US commander and CIA director)".

Gen Petraeus did acknowledge that "there's communication between the ISI and various militant groups in FATA and Balochistan (Haqqanis, Taliban, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, etc) but some of it you'd do anyway as an intelligence service." He added that "there may be some degree of accommodation that is forced on them (Pakistanis) because of the limits of their (Pakistan's) forces."

US-Pakistan Ties:

On the question of the nature of US-Pakistan relations and Washington's influence in Islamabad, General Petraeus said:

"Some people say Pakistan is a frenemy...it is just very very difficult to pin down (blame on Pakistan) and it's even more difficult to figure out how to exert leverage that in a meaningful way resolves the issue.  There was a period when we cut off all assistance and ties (to Pakistan) and held up F-16s that we were supposed to deliver for a while and that did not help our influence there (in Pakistan). It's a very very tough situation and it may be among the top two or three challenges for the new administration right up there with Syria".

General Petraeus acknowledged Pakistan's cooperation and sacrifices in fighting terror in the following words:

“Pakistan Army suffered casualties and had limited Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities though the US did try to help and there existed enormous amount of cooperation between the two militaries. However, the unfortunate episodes of Raymond Davis and publications of book by Bob Woodward and WikiLeaks did impact negatively on this cooperation”.

Summary:

General David H. Petraeus has thoroughly debunked intense and ongoing media propaganda campaign of allegations of duplicity against Pakistan Army and ISI. He has also ruled out cutting ties with Pakistan as an option. His recommendations have now assumed added significance because he is now on a short list of President-Elect Trump's nominees for secretary of state.

Here's the video of General Petraeus at RUSI. His remarks on Pakistan are in the last 8 minutes of the video:

https://youtu.be/4vxSwUrY1E0




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Comment by Riaz Haq on November 28, 2016 at 11:12am

Here's the latest from Washington Post: Trump to meet with Petraeus, Romney as secretary of state battle heats up

President-elect Donald Trump will meet Monday with retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, a possible alternative choice for secretary of state amid an escalating feud over the position between supporters of former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who will sit down with Trump on Tuesday.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-to-meet-with-petraeus...

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 30, 2016 at 5:00pm
#Trump to #Pakistan PM: "You're a terrific guy" "#Pakistanis are amazing, most intelligent and exceptional people” http://time.com/4586503/donald-trump-pakistan-prime-minister-readou...
 
The full readout of the call, according to the Pakistani government, is below. Trump’s transition team has not released a readout.
 
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif called President-elect USA Donald Trump and felicitated him on his victory. President Trump said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif you have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As I am talking to you Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honor and I will personally do it. Feel free to call me any time even before 20th January that is before I assume my office.
On being invited to visit Pakistan by the Prime Minister, Mr. Trump said that he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people. Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people, said Mr. Donald Trump.
Comment by Riaz Haq on December 1, 2016 at 8:51am

CNN's Peter Bergen's opinion on whether Pakistani official knew of Bin Laden's presence in Abottabad: 


The bin Laden story in the New York Times magazine is an extract from (Caroltta) Gall's forthcoming book, "The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014."
Gall makes two astonishing claims in her Times magazine piece.
The first claim: An unnamed Pakistani official told her, based on what he had in turn heard from an unnamed senior U.S. official that "the United States had direct evidence that the ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, knew of bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad." ISI is Pakistan's powerful military intelligence agency.
The second claim: "The ISI actually ran a special desk assigned to handle bin Laden. It was operated independently, led by an officer who made his own decisions and did not report to a superior. He handled only one person: bin Laden...the top military bosses knew about it, I was told."
It is, of course, hard to prove negatives, but having spent around a year reporting intensively on the hunt for al Qaeda's leader for my 2012 book "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden From 9/11 to Abbottabad," I am convinced that there is no evidence that anyone in the Pakistani government, military or intelligence agencies knowingly sheltered bin Laden.
How did I arrive at this conclusion?


On three reporting trips to Pakistan I spoke to senior officials in Pakistan's military and intelligence service. They all denied that they had secretly harbored bin Laden. OK, you are thinking: "But they would say that, wouldn't they?"
Well, what about the dozens of officials I spoke to in the U.S. intelligence community, Pentagon, State Department and the White House who also told me versions of "the Pakistanis had no idea that bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad"?
During the course of reporting for my book I spoke on the record to, among others, John Brennan, now the CIA director and then President Obama's top counterterrorism adviser; then CIA Director Leon Panetta and his chief of staff, Jeremy Bash; then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen; then Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. James Cartwright; then director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter; then senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, Nick Rasmussen; then head of policy at the Pentagon, Michele Flournoy; Michael Vickers, who was then the civilian overseer of Special Operations at the Pentagon; Tony Blinken, who is now the deputy national security adviser; and Denis McDonough, who held that position before Blinken.
These officials have collectively spent many decades working to destroy al Qaeda, and many are deeply suspicious of Pakistan for its continuing support for elements of the Taliban. But all of them told me in one form or another that Pakistani officials had no clue that bin Laden was living in Abbottabad.
Indeed, an early debate between senior national security officials at the White House, once CIA intelligence established that bin Laden could be hiding in Abbottabad, was whether to mount a joint U.S.-Pakistani raid on bin Laden's suspected hideout.
This plan was rejected because the officials were concerned that such a joint operation carried the risk that word would leak out about the bin Laden intelligence. This debate would have been moot if the Pakistanis already knew bin Laden was living in Abbottabad.
And, by the way, if the U.S. government had any evidence that the Pakistanis were knowingly sheltering bin Laden, as Gall claims, why cover this up?

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/21/opinion/bergen-bin-laden-new-york-times/

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 3, 2016 at 10:17am

#US defence bill passed by Congress pledges $900 million economic military aid to #Pakistan in 2017 http://toi.in/ebPBVY via @TOIWorld

The US House of Representatives has passed a defence bill that pledges $900 million in economic and other assistance to Pakistan, a significant portion of which is dependent of a Pentagon certification that the country is taking demonstrable steps against the dreaded Haqqani Network.
The US National Defence Authorisation Act for fiscal year 2017 was passed in the House of Representatives yesterday.
The bill limits the overall amount available for reimbursement to $1.1 billion, of which $900 million is available for reimbursement to Pakistan.
It extends Congressional notification and certification requirements regarding reimbursements to Pakistan. The bill specifies that certain reimbursements to Pakistan are ineligible for a national security waiver unless Department of Defense makes specified certifications regarding the activities of Pakistan with respect to the Haqqani Network.
According to Dawn newspaper, the bill conditions $450 million from this assistance to a certification.
This year the amount was $300 million, which was not released after Defence Secretary Ashton Carter refused to certify in Pakistan's favour.

The bill is schedule for a vote in the Senate next week. Since it is a consensus bill, it is unlikely to face any opposition.
The bill notes that "the United States and Pakistan continue to have many critical shared interests, both economic- and security-related, which could be the foundation for a positive and mutually beneficial partnership."

In a conference report, which combines the House and Senate versions of a legislation, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain had underlined the importance of a continued relationship between the United States and Pakistan.
He noted that the bill "refocuses security assistance to Pakistan on activities that directly support US national security interests".

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 4, 2016 at 4:19pm

US Commander Worries About Aid Taliban Receives From Pakistan, Russia, Iran 

http://www.voanews.com/a/us-commander-taliban-pakistan-russia-iran/...

ISLAMABAD — 
The “malign influence” of Pakistan, Russia and Iran with the Taliban-led insurgency, and concerns about future political stability of the Afghan government threaten international efforts aimed at stabilizing the war-raved country, warns a top U.S. commander.

“We’re concerned about the external enablement of the insurgent or terrorist groups inside Afghanistan; in particular where they enjoy sanctuary or support from outside governments,” said General John Nicholson, leader of NATO’s Resolute Support Afghan mission.

He told reporters at the Pentagon Friday, the Haqqani Network of terrorists, which is fighting alongside the Taliban, still poses the greatest threat to Americans, coalition and Afghan partners from its sanctuary in neighboring Pakistan.

“And the Haqqanis hold five American citizens hostage right now,” Nicholson said. “I think this is worth remembering as we think about the Haqqani Network. And they remain a principal concern of ours, and they do enjoy sanctuary inside Pakistan.”

Pakistani officials, however, insist their security forces have uprooted any infrastructure Taliban insurgents and their allies were using for cross-border attacks, and extensive efforts are being undertaken to secure the porous Afghan border.

Russia, Iran

Nicholson raised concern about Taliban insurgents’ links to Russia and Iran, saying they are not advancing the cause of stability in the region.

Moscow is allegedly helping and arming the Taliban in a bid to contain the influence of Islamic State affiliates in Afghanistan and prevent it from threatening neighboring central Asian states.

Speaking at a U.N. General Assembly session late last month in New York, Russian envoy Vladimir Safronkov even called for easing U.N. sanctions on the Taliban for promoting peace talks between warring sides.

“So, Russia has overtly lent legitimacy to the Taliban,” Nicholson said.

But he dismissed assertions about the Taliban’s successes against rival IS fighters. Instead, he said, Afghan forces and the U.S. counterterrorism effort are the ones taking on and “achieving the greatest effect” against loyalists of the Middle Eastern terrorist group in Afghanistan.

“So, this public legitimacy that Russia lends to the Taliban is not based on fact, but it is used as a way to essentially undermine the Afghan government and the NATO effort and bolster the belligerents,” Nicholson added.

Iran and Taliban

The general suggested Shi’ite Iran maintains contacts and influence with the Taliban for similar reasons. He said Afghan officials have engaged both Iranian and Russian governments over the issue.

“We’re hopeful — speaking now as commander Resolute Support — that these outside actors will act in a positive way, so we can work together to help bolster the capability and legitimacy of the Afghan government, not the belligerents,” Nicholson said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 4, 2016 at 8:08pm

#Russia rejects #Indian, #Afghan criticism on #Pakistan. #HeartofAsia #Modi #India https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/169900-Russia-rejects-Indian-Afgha...

Says Heart of Asia Conference shouldn’t be used for point scoring; if Russia doesn’t complain about India-US cooperation, then why complain about Pak-Russia cooperation

AMRITSAR: Russia on Sunday lauded Pakistan's stance at the Heart of Asia conference and said the agenda of the conference has not been hijacked.

Addressing the Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar on Sunday, Russian envoy Zamir Kabulov rejected the Indian and Afghan criticism on Pakistan and said that Sartaj Aziz's speech at the conference was friendly and constructive. He said it is wrong to criticise Pakistan.

The Russian envoy said that Afghanistan is the pivot of Heart of Asia conference and the agenda of the conference has not been hijacked. He said being friends and supporters, we should avoid the blame game and work together.He said all parties involved in the war-torn country's reconstruction must work together and that the Heart of Asia was not the platform for India and Pakistan to score brownie points.

Downplaying Russia's military exercise with Pakistan held two months ago, Zamir Kabulov, who overseas Russia's engagement in Afghanistan, referred to India's increasing cooperation with the US.

“The HoA should not be used by India and Pakistan for scoring points,” he told reporters. He said bilateral issues should not cloud forums like the Heart of Asia.

Kabulov represented Russia in the Heart of Asia conference where he articulated Moscow's position on Afghanistan's transition. He said all the major players must extend all possible support to Afghanistan in its transition.

“India has close cooperation with the US, does Moscow complain? Then why complain about much lower level of cooperation with Pakistan,” he asked when referred to the Russia-Pakistan military exercise.

India has a strategic partnership with Afghanistan and is implementing projects worth $2 billion to help rebuild the country's infrastructure. The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was launched in 2011 and the participating countries include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 5, 2016 at 9:26am

#Kashmir: Can #Trump solve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts? VP-Elect Pence says YES. http://qz.com/852853 via @qzindia

On NBC News’ Meet The Press on Dec. 04, Pence was pressed by journalist Chuck Todd on the incoming Trump administration’s stance on Pakistan. Here’s a transcript of the conversation:
Chuck Todd: So let me jump to Pakistan. The Pakistan prime minister on Thursday, here is the headline in the front page of the international news in Karachi, “Trump says ready to play role in resolution of issues.” So let me ask you, is he offering to mediate border disputes? The pri– I guess Pakistan wanted to imply that, that he was offering to mediate border disputes between Pakistan and India. Is that what he was trying to say?
Mike Pence: Well, clearly there’s been great tension between India and Pakistan in recent days. It’s resulted in violence along the Kashmir region. And I think what the president-elect expressed in conversations with leaders on both countries was a desire for continued US engagement on building the relationship with both of those countries. These are two nuclear powers–
Todd: Right.
Pence: –the president-elect recognises that. And making sure that, that they know that when this administration takes office, that we intend to be fully engaged in the region and fully engaged with both nations to advance peace and security.
Todd: To be a mediator in deciding Kashmir?
Pence: Well, I think, I think, I think in president-elect Donald Trump you’ve got someone who, who is prepared to advance America’s interests here at home, to rebuild this economy, to fight for American jobs. But I think you’re also going to see an energetic leadership in the world, prepared to engage and to look for ways that he can bring those extraordinary deal-making skills to bear on lessening tensions and solving problems in the world.

http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/meet-press-12-04-16-n691726

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 15, 2016 at 6:23pm

A top Pakistan Foreign Ministry official has said that “some” members of the terrorist Haqqani network are present in the country, but Islamabad is not allowing any group to conduct terrorist activities in Afghanistan.

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry has made the rare admission in an interview to the state-run Pakistani television PTV broadcast Sunday.

The United States has designated the Haqqani network and its leadership as global terrorists for carrying out high-profile deadly attacks against American and allied forces in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and U.S. officials allege Haqqanis operate out of sanctuaries in Pakistan, a charge Islamabad rejects.

“The Haqqani Network is actually part of the Taliban. Most of their people are in Afghanistan, most of them, and some of them are present here (in Pakistan),” said Chaudhry.

Chaudhry asserted the Pakistani leadership is sticking to its pledges of not allowing any individual or group to use Pakistan’s soil for terrorist activities.

“We have also explicitly given the same message to the Taliban and Haqqanis that you must not indulge in any terrorist activity or violence in Afghanistan,” he said. “And if you can’t mend your ways and live peacefully like millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, then you better leave the country because Pakistani soil cannot welcome you and the space would be squeezed on you.”

Consequently, most of the insurgents went back to Afghanistan where 10 percent of the territory is now controlled by the Taliban, Chaudhry said citing U.S. military estimates.

----

Speaking earlier this month in Washington, U.S. commander of international forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson warned the Haqqanis still pose the greatest threat to Americans and to their coalition partners and to the Afghans.

“And they remain a principal concern of ours. And they, and they do enjoy sanctuary inside Pakistan,” the general added.

Chaudhry urged President Ghani to prevent anti-Pakistan militants from “roaming freely” on his side of the border and carry out attacks in Pakistan on “mere assumptions” that Islamabad harbors anti-Kabul militants.

If the Afghan side believes mere allegations against Pakistan would help solve Afghanistan’s problems “then let them believe so. It would not get them anywhere,” he added.

Afghan officials deny they have anything to do with the militants linked to anti-state Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, though Pakistani officials point to killings of a number of leaders of the group in Afghanistan this year by U.S. drone attacks.

Islamabad hosted a preliminary round of peace talks between Kabul and Taliban officials in July 2015, the first direct contact between Afghan warring sides in 15 years. Chaudhry along with U.S. and Chinese officials attended the negotiations as monitors.

But since then the war has intensified, fueling tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan over Islamabad’s alleged backing of the insurgency.

http://www.voanews.com/a/pakistan-afghanistan-haqqani-network/36320...

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 15, 2016 at 6:27pm

cautions and against engaging with via

NEW DELHI: India sounded a warning on Thursday to countries like Russia and Iran, which appear to be trying to change the ground situation in Afghanistan by engaging Taliban politically.

In a response, MEA spokesperson said, "In so far as the Taliban is concerned, they have to respect the internationally agreed red lines, give up terrorism and violence, sever all ties with al-Qaida, agree to follow democratic norms and not do anything which will erode the gains of the last 15 years."

This is an unusual cautionary note from India aimed at its oldest strategic partner. Even though India prefers to treat Russia with kid gloves, it feels Moscow's latest moves in Afghanistan have the potential to stir serious trouble. MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop stressed India and Russia's special relationship.


"We do not see any downward trend in our bilateral relationship," he said. But it is clear that India has been disturbed by recent events.


Addressing Afghanistan's upper house on the weekend, Russian envoy Alexander Mantytskiy was quoted as saying, "Zamir Kabulov (a high-ranking official in Russia's foreign ministry) said our interests are the same as Taliban in fighting Daesh." Russia now says it regards Taliban as a "national military-political movement", but IS as a global jihadist movement that could destabilise Russia's 'near abroad' - central Asia

Even Iran has been reaching out to Taliban, with the aim of keeping IS out of the Afghan region. According to an Iranian news agency, an influential Iranian cleric declared this week that Tehran has invited "moderate figures such as Taliban" to attend a conference on international Islamic Unity, saying, "Iran has always held contacts with some parties in the Taliban movement."


Iran denies any ties with Taliban, but Afghan officials have recently accused Tehran of not only harbouring families of senior Taliban commanders, but supplying them with sophisticated weapons that are destabilising the country.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 11, 2017 at 9:09am

#Afghanistan now #Trump’s War: "in the grip of a resolute insurgency" "kleptocratic, dysfunctional governing elite"

"Afghanistan remains in the grip of a resolute insurgency and a kleptocratic, dysfunctional governing elite. The Afghan state has been rapidly losing control of districts across the country to Taliban factions and Afghan forces are getting killed and injured at a rate American commanders call unsustainable."

"As the Trump administration settles in, American commanders are making the case for another troop surge. Testifying before the Senate last month, Gen. John Nicholson, the current top commander in Afghanistan, said America’s longest war is in a “stalemate” and lamented what he called a “shortfall of a few thousand” troops. There are currently 13,000 international troops in Afghanistan, including about 8,400 Americans. On Thursday, Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of Centcom, said military leaders are drawing up a new strategy that will require more American troops."

"White House officials and members of Congress should consider this request with skepticism. The challenges that have stymied American generals in Afghanistan for years — including havens for insurgents in Pakistan, endemic corruption and poor leadership in the Afghan military — remain unsolved. In the absence of a dramatically different approach to those problems, any new reinforcements can only be expected to shore up the fledgling Afghan government for a year or two."

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/opinion/afghanistan-is-now-tr...

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