Army’s Fingerprint and Iris Databases Head for the Cloud #Biometrics #UID #Aadhaar


 

A soldier scans an Afghan’s eye for placement in the U.S. military’s large wartime biometrics databases, March 2012.Photo: U.S. Army

 

The next time U.S. soldiers snap a picture of your eye or scan your face, they’re likely to store all that personal, physical data in the cloud.

The Army’s Intelligence command recently awarded a sole-source contract to bring the classified Defense Cross-Domain Analytical Capability, a database storing various kinds of security-relevant information the Army collects, onto the proverbial “cloud” of distributed servers and networks. Among the focuses of the project: “integrating Biometrics into the cloud,” according to a description of the contract.

The effort “involves the Entity management and tracking system for Biometrics/Human Terrain Facial recognition capability (photos, video) and edge-to-Cloud Enterprise Messaging (Corps/Division Node to/from Handheld,” says the Army Intelligence and Security Command. “Human Terrain” refers to an Army program in Iraq and Afghanistan that sought to map unfamiliar tribal networks and other social structures. Integrating that into an intelligence database is a major shift, but more on that in a second.

Currently, at least some biometric data is stored locally in the warzone of Afghanistan, in or around where soldiers and marines on patrol take it from locals and insurgents. That limits troops’ ability to exploit it, particularly when they’re mobile: troops who detain a suspicious person in, say, Djibouti won’t necessarily know if he’s already been nabbed in Iraq or Afghanistan or elsewhere. And supporting mobile operations is key to the whole cloud-storage project. “Mobile support in Cloud Corps Nodes includes provisioning the handhelds as data receivers and summarization of query results for handheld,” the Army command envisions.

 

But there are drawbacks to migrating the biometric data to the cloud. Among them, familiar to anyone who tries to get at their important GoogleDoc over an overtaxed wi-fi connection at Starbucks, is bandwidth. If it’s bad for you there, it’s much worse for soldiers in the middle of a warzone. “It’s an excellent opportunity when operating in environments like the NYPD can with their mobile biometric devices in all of 3G’s glory,” says a biometrics specialist who worked with the U.S. government in Afghanistan, “but Tora Bora is another story. (Then there’s the expense of supporting and accessing the cloud-based database in a rugged warzone, the specialist adds: “Personally, I think bandwidth is going to cost more than humans.”)

Still, the military is into biometrics in a big way. It’s created and maintained biometrics databases containing literally millions of iris and fingerprint scans from Iraqis and Afghans. The Iraq database has outlasted the Iraq war: it resides permanently at U.S. Central Command in Tampa.

Evidently unsatisfied with the clunky ViewFinder-esque mobile tools for collecting biometric data in the field, in February the Pentagon inked a $3 million research deal with California’s AOptix to check out its smartphone-based biometric identifier, built on an iPhone and iOS. Then there’s all the Pentagon’s additional research into identifying people by the unique pungencies of their body odor and the ways they walk.

It’s worth noting that the architects of the Army’s star-crossed “human terrain” mapping, a much-criticized attempt at warzone anthropology, swore up and down that their interviews with tribal leaders had nothing to do with gathering intelligence. That distinction had much to do with the distaste many anthropologists had with working alongside the military, but architects Montgomery McFate and Steve Fondacaro said they weren’t spying because they weren’t part of the military’s “targeting cycle.”

“[G]iven the vast collection and reporting effort that supports lethal targeting, using HTS [the Human Terrain System] to fulfill this function would be redundant and duplicative,” they wrote in 2012. (.PDF) “Whereas [human intelligence] requires highly specific information about individuals in order to capture or kill, social science, as practiced in HTS, seeks broad contextual information for nonlethal purposes.”

Whatever McFate and Fondacaro’s intentions, folding biometric data from the Human Terrain System into an intelligence database collapses their distinction. Once that information enters the database, nothing stops analysts from marshaling it for potentially lethal military operations. That will have implications if the Army ever again tries to get into the social science business.

The obvious worry for any effort like this, aside from bandwidth, is going to be data security. Military cloud storage is still in its infancy — in 2009, the colonel in charge of the Defense Cross-domain Analytical Capability cautioned, “To a certain degree it’s cloud technology, but we are applying something that’s less bleeding-edge” — and many in uniform fear that they can’t adequately secure a cloud-based infrastructure. It’s a real concern in an age when Chinese cyber-espionage of U.S. military secrets runs deep. The unique physical characteristics of millions of people isn’t something you want to leave vulnerable.

Still, if the military can figure out how to lock down its cloud, the Army looks likely to start storing some of its most sensitive and difficult-to-replicate physical data onto it. The 12-month project kicks off in late August — giving the Army plenty of time to collect more facial, eye and fingerprint information before upload.

Noah Shachtman contributed reporting.

 

Source- http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/

Rethinking Development In Pakistan


Flag map of Pakistan

 

 

 

By Q. Isa Daudpota

 

25 May, 2013
Countercurrents.org

 

Trickle-down economics invariably fails in poor countries. For long-lasting progress, development policies that are bottom-up, those that ‘put the last first’, often succeed. Ideas supportive of this thesis are presented in the post-election Pakistani context.

 

Good development experts have failed to get across a basic truth to Pakistan’s politicians and economic planners: If you are on a dirt road, fill the ruts – don’t dream of bullet trains and flyovers! One has to get the basics right before anything else can work. This obvious fact failed to register with the government and the Election Commission as it set in motion the recent ballot-box democracy exercise, allowing law breakers of all shades a free hand in returning to parliament. They overlooked the fact which every cook knows: clean the pans before preparing fresh meals! For those undaunted by this recent failure and blessed with an optimistic spirit, a potpourri of home truths is laid out.

 

A poor country like Pakistan cannot have sustainable development without reducing its population significantly through enlightened family planning. (It is best not to use the euphemism ‘developing country’, which we were in the 1960s when an attempt was made at population control.) How can we get back on track? A global perspective will help.

 

About 3 million children in poor countries die annually of diseases that can be prevented by basic healthcare and vaccination. The cost of providing a package of basic vaccines to a child is about Rs. 3000 – the price of a good meal in a luxury hotel. Pakistan has about 3% of the world’s population of 7 billion. Therefore roughly 250 kids die here daily. What’s the cost of avoiding these deaths? Just the price of one lavish wedding reception daily! And as for the basic healthcare for all, nothing is more important than providing potable water through community outlets, which is easily affordable.

 

Enlightened education, particularly of females, that encourages critical thinking is another key area needing urgent attention. Attempts at improving higher education level over a decade have overlooking the more critical lower levels where irreversible damage is presently done to impressionable minds. Education when viewed holistically should integrate all levels of education, including informal education, which brings the adult population up to steam and encourages lifelong learning. But who is going to do this?

 

The standard of pedagogy at all levels is poor. This failing can be corrected by a nationwide program of teachers’ training, principally in English communication skills. The world’s knowledge will continue its exponential growth in this language and we need to build on our advantage in English from the colonial era. Shortage of master trainers will require importing talent and where better to find it economically than India. Even more important is the provision of fast internet access nationally in neighborhood community cybercafés — that double up as cultural centers.

 

Large-scale provision of inexpensive multi-media projectors in institutions would allow students to view off-line programs of the best teachers globally with the local teacher acting as a facilitator. Our teachers and professors should use them as role models, while weaving the knowledge from the Net into the Pakistani context for their students. Above all we need a rethinking of the curriculum across the board, cognizant of the amazing range and quality of knowledge now on the Net.

 

Pakistan’s radio and TV are largely news and entertainment outlets than need redirection towards worthier goals of enlightening, lifelong learning. The models of the BBC in the UK and PBS and NPR in the USA – live and on the Net – can show us how this can be achieved. Such tools of the new media will help achieve full literacy in the country faster than the mere 5 years that it took some South American countries to do so using the ideas of Paulo Friere.

 

I conclude with brief reference to three commonly voiced concerns: energy, human and environmental security.

 

Instead of lurching forward into dangerous technologies such as nuclear and coal, we need to focus on our natural abundance of sunshine and hydropower (about which much has been written). While wind technology needs exploration, the area calling for immediate implementation is solar thermal, i.e. direct capture of heat energy from the sun’s rays to turn turbines for power generation – an option cheaper than wind energy. It has the advantage of our engineers accomplishing this largely themselves. At the other end, appropriate technologies such as green roofs (or simply oil painting or installing reflective high insulation tiling) could cool our homes and reduce cost, as can improving efficiency of industry, vehicles and other energy guzzlers. Some complex problems have cheap, simple solutions, see: http://tinyurl.com/kg4ows4.

 

Human security issues require that we establish not just peace but cordial relations with India, Afghanistan and Iran and open our borders to free exchange of people and commerce. Let’s be honest and admit that Kashmir cannot be snatched from India – ask the experienced retired general under house-arrest in his farmhouse in Islamabad [Musharraf]! Money for wasteful military gadgets can then be diverted towards human development.

 

Human security would be best advanced by providing decent livelihood to the poor and disadvantaged — gimmicks such as the expensive Income Support Program will fail. What are needed are low-cost projects which provide employment and honorable income for the multitudes of unskilled and uneducated, coupled with literacy and skills training. One such project ought to be for countrywide reforestation – green cover is well below 5% of the land-area; it ought to be at least 5 times higher. The environmental and social benefits of it would be enormous.

 

Publicity-attracting expensive mega-projects have been dear to our leaders. The real skill of wise leaders, though, lies in generating a sense of self-worth among the citizens. Ensuring self sufficiency through transforming the country from the bottom up is the way. The new government must take up this challenge.

 

The author is an Islamabad-based physicist and environmentalist.

 

 

 

Afghan MPs block divisive women’s rights law #WTFnews


Legislation was approved by President Karzai in 2009, but stalled by conservative MPs who deemed it un-Islamic.

Last Modified: 18 May 2013 14:27

President Hamid Karzai approved the law by decree in 2009, but it needs parliamentary approval [Reuters]
Afghanistan’s parliament has failed to pass a law banning violence against women, a severe blow to progress made in women’s rights since the Taliban was toppled over a decade ago.

President Hamid Karzai approved the law by decree in 2009 and parliament’s endorsement was required. But a rift between conservative and more secular members of the assembly resulted in debate being deferred to a later date.

Religious members objected to at least eight articles in the legislation, including keeping the legal age for women to marry at 16, the existence of shelters for domestic abuse victims and the halving of the number of wives permitted to two.

“Today, the parliamentarians who oppose women’s development, women’s rights and the success of women…made their voices loud and clear,” Fawzia Koofi, head of parliament’s women’s commission, told Reuters on Saturday.

Women have won back the hard-fought right to education and work since the Taliban was toppled 12 years ago, but there are fears these freedoms could shrink once NATO-led forces leave Afghanistan by the end of next year.

Increasing insecurity is deterring some women from seeking work outside the home, and rights workers accuse the government of doing too little to protect women – allegations rejected by Karzai’s administration.

“2014 is coming, change is coming, and the future of women in this country is uncertain. A new president will come and if he doesn’t take women’s rights seriously he can change the decree,” Koofi said.

The election for a new president is expected to be held in April 2014. The constitution bars Karzai from running again.

‘Morally corrupt’

After almost two hours of clashes between Koofi and the more religious members of the 244-member parliament, speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said the assembly would consider the law again at a later date, but declined to say when.

Some members sought amendments, such as longer prison terms for crimes committed against women, such as beating and rape.

Many legislators, most of them male, cited violations of Islamic law.

“It is wrong that a woman and man cannot marry off their child until she is 16,” said Obaidullah Barekzai, a member from southeast Uruzgan province, where female literacy rates are among the lowest in the country.

An Afghan man must be at least 18 years old to marry.

Barekzai argued against all age limits for women, citing historical figure Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq, a close companion of the Prophet Muhammad, who married off his daughter at age seven.

At least eight other legislators, mostly from the Ulema Council, a government-appointed body of clerics, joined him in decrying the law as un-Islamic.

Abdul Sattar Khawasi, member for Kapisa province, called women’s shelters “morally corrupt”. Justice Minister Habibullah Ghaleb last year dismissed them as houses of “prostitution and immorality”, provoking fierce condemnation from women’s groups.

 

‘We Are Those Two Afghan Children’ #mustshare


 

By Hakim & The Afghan Peace Volunteers
Countercurrents.org
Two young Afghan boys herding cattle in Uruzgan Province of Afghanistan were mistakenly killed by NATO forces yesterday.
http://www.countercurrents.org/we-are-those-two-children.jpgThey were seven and eight years old.
Our globe, approving of ‘necessary or just war’, thinks, “We expect this to happen occasionally.”
Some say, “We’re sorry.”
Therefore today, with sorrow and rage, we the Afghan Peace Volunteers took our hearts to the streets.
We went with two cows, remembering that the two children were tending to their cattle on their last day.
We are those two children.
We want to be human again.
Don’t we see it? Don’t we hear it?
All of nature, the cows, the grass, the hills and the songs, crave for us to be human again.
We want to get out of our seats of pride and presumption, and give a cry of resistance.
We want the world to hear us, the voice of the thundering masses.
“We’re so tired of war.”
“Children shouldn’t have to live or die this way.”
“This hurts like mad, like the mad hurt of seeing a child being caned while he’s crying from hunger.”
“We have woken up, and we detest the method of mutual killing in war that the leaders of the world have adopted.”
We say, with due respect to the leaders, but with no respect for their or any act of violence, “We are very wrong. You are very wrong.”
“We cannot go on resolving conflicts this warring way.”
Unless we see the cattle’s submission upon being blown up to pieces, and understand the momentary surprise of the seven year old listening to music on his radio, and empathize with the eight year old who had taken responsibility for the seven year old, and weep torrentially with the mother of the children, we are at risk of losing everything we value within ourselves.
Hearing the NATO commander General Joseph Dunford say that they’re sorry makes us angry; we don’t want to hear it.
We don’t want ‘sorry-s’. We want an end to all killing. We want to live without war.
We want all warriors to run back anxiously to their own homes, and fling their arms around their sons and daughters, their grandsons and grand-daughters, and say, “We love you and will never participate in the killing of any child or human being again.”
In the days to come, we’ll remember the distraught mother and family of the two children.
We know they won’t eat, or feel like breathing or living. They will remember, yet not want to remember.
Their mother will feel like giving away tens of thousands of cows just so she can touch her two children’s faces again. No, she’ll not only touch their faces, she will shower them with the hugs and kisses only mothers can give.
Do not insult her grief or her poverty by giving her monetary compensation for her children.
If they were alive, they would say along with their mother, “We are not goods.”
We went out there with our hearts and two cows this morning. We stood in front of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, next to a trash-lined river no one wants to clean up, and we began to feel human again.
We had begun to cry for our world.

‘First’ Afghan female rapper seeks reason with rhymes #Womenrights #Vaw


By AFP
Published: January 3, 2013

Soosan Feroz practicing with Afghan pop musician Farid Rastagar at a recording studio in Kabul. PHOTO: AFP

Soosan Feroz  practicing with Afghan pop musician Farid Rastagar at a recording studio in Kabul. PHOTO: AFPSinger raps of rape, abuse and atrocities that Afghan women have endured during decades of war. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

KABUL: Sporting a long leather coat and western jeans under a headscarf, Soosan Feroz looks like many modern women in Kabul.

But she is a surprising new phenomenon in this conservative country – the nation’s first female rapper.

Her lyrics though are not unfamiliar for many of her fellow countrywomen – she raps of rape, abuse and atrocities that Afghan women have endured during decades of war in a country gripped by poverty.

“My raps are about the sufferings of women in my country, the pains of the war that we have endured and the atrocities of the war,” Feroz told AFP in an interview in the office of a local company that is helping her record her first album, between local performances including at the US embassy in Kabul.

Like most fellow Afghans, the 23-year-old says her life is filled with bitterness – memories of war, bombing and a life at refugee camps in neighboring Iran and Pakistan.

She was taken to Pakistan as a child by her parents and later to Iran, escaping a bloody civil war at home in 1990s.

Two years after the 2001 US-led invasion of her war-scarred nation that toppled the Taliban, the then-teenager returned home with her family.

She worked as a carpet weaver with her other siblings for a living until she discovered her new talent.

Told that rap and hip hop had become a way for many artists around the world to express daily hardships in their lives, Feroz says: “If rap singing is a way to tell your miseries, Afghans have a lot to say.

“That’s why I chose to be a rapper.”

She recalls her woes at Iranian refugee camps in her first recorded piece of music, “Our neighbours”, which has been posted on Youtube and viewed nearly 100,000 times:

“What happened to us in the neighbouring country?

“We became ‘the dirty Afghan’

“At their bakeries we were pushed at the back of the queue.”

The lyrics are borne from personal experience, Feroz said. “As a child when I was going to bring bread from our neighbourhood bakery, the Iranians would tell me, ‘go back, you dirty Afghan’.

“I would be the last one in the line to get my bread,” she said.

Millions of Afghans still live in Iran and Pakistan, which together hosted about seven million refugees after the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

Feroz was too young to remember the bloody battles of the 1980s between the Russian soldiers and freedom fighters known as mujahedin but her first song is full of war tales, with one line proclaiming: “We went to Europe for a better life (but) in refugee camps we rotted.”

Thousands of Afghans put their lives on the line every year to reach Europe through dangerous and illegal routes on land and sea. Those who make it often spend years in isolated refugee camps.

Afghan pop star Farid Rastagar has offered to help the young artist release an album, the first song of which will be released in January.

One of the songs is called “Naqisul Aql” which can be translated as “deficient-in-mind” – a common belief about women among Afghan men.

“In this rap, she sings about the miseries of the women in Afghanistan, about abuses and wrong beliefs that still exists about women,” Rastagar told AFP.

Afghan women have made some progress since the fall of the Taliban but many still suffer horrific abuse including so-called ‘honour killings” for percieved sexual disobedience.

Feroz, the daughter of a former civil servant and an illiterate housewife who remarkably let their daughter sing, has already made scores of enemies not only among conservatives but within her own family.

After releasing her first song on the internet, Feroz’s uncles and their families have shunned her, accusing her of bringing shame on them.

Others, mostly anonymous callers, have threatened to kill her.

“What’s my fault?” she asks. “I always receive phone calls from unknown men who say I’m a bad girl and they will kill me,” she says, her dark eyes welling with tears.

Sitting next to her is her father, Abdul Ghafaar Feroz, who says he prides himself on being her “personal secretary”.

“I’m not deterred,” Feroz said, her father nodding his head in agreement. “Somebody had to start this, I did and I don’t regret it and I will continue. I want to be the voice of women in my country.”

 

Revealed: US and Britain Launched 1,200 Drone Strikes in Recent Wars


Published on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

by Chris Woods and Alice K Ross
An MQ-9 Reaper returns to Kandahar from an Afghan mission. (USAF/Tech Sgt Chad Chisholm)Recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq have seen almost 1,200 drone strikes over the past five years, according to new data released to the Bureau.

The information, much of it classified until now, shows that US Air Force drones carried out most of the 1,168 attacks. However British crews are also responsible for a significant portion of the strikes in Afghanistan.

The Bureau has obtained data from the US armed forces, Nato and the UK’s Ministry of Defence. It reveals, for example, that more than a quarter of all armed Coalition air sorties in Afghanistan are now carried out by drones.

While only a fraction of those missions result in strikes, drone strikes in Afghanistan are now taking place on average five times each week.

NB: Libya figures are to September 2 2011; conflict ended on October 31. Yemen figures are confirmed drone strikes only; dozens of further strikes are reported but unconfirmed. Click the graph to see the data.

Afghanistan – the US’s most intense conflict
The US’s secret drone campaign in Pakistan and elsewhere is now in its eleventh year and is attracting increasing scrutiny, including academic studiescourt casesand, soon, a UN investigation. Ironically, less is known about the use of drones in conventional theatres of war.

The US military and its allies have carried out almost 1,200 drone strikes since 2008 in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq. When the Bureau first approached the US military in August seeking drone data for recent conflicts, we were told the information was classified. Central Command (Centcom) later relented after the Bureau argued there was a strong public interest in releasing the information.

Centcom now says it is committed to publishing statistics on the number of missiles fired by drones in Afghanistan, as part of its monthly reports.

The newly declassified figures provided to the Bureau show armed drones flown by the Coalition have carried out 1,015 drone strikes in Afghanistan since 2008. This is three times more than the 338 attacks the CIA has carried out in neighbouring Pakistan over the same period.

Of more than 7,600 armed drone missions flown by Coalition forces between January and October 2012, ‘kinetic events’ – drone strikes – occurred 245 times, a ratio of about one strike for every 30 missions flown. In Iraq, however, only one in every 130 armed drone missions in 2008 resulted in a strike.

For context, there were an additional 1,145 attacks by conventional aircraft in Afghanistan during that period, official figures show. The proportion of airstrikes carried out by drones has risen steeply to 18%, up from 11% in 2009.

While no British drones went to Libya, the MoD has revealed British pilots had flown US drones in the campaign.While Coalition drones fly thousands of armed sorties in Afghanistan, drone strikes are ‘the exception, not the norm’, a Centcom spokeswoman told the Bureau.

The number of strikes has increased steadily year-on-year – but there is ambiguity over who is carrying them out. The majority are by the US Air Force, with the remainder by the British military and – possibly – US Special Forces. Here there is some confusion.

A senior US Army spokesman said: ‘Of the thousands of UAS [unmanned aerial systems] we have, only a very small number (well less than 100) are armed.’

But another senior US military official, speaking on background terms, said: ‘The Army doesn’t have UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] in service that carry munitions… Any UAVs that can carry munitions are/were under the charge of the Air Force in Afghanistan and Iraq.’

Military officials were unable to explain the discrepancy between the two statements. The Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has its own classified fleet of Reaper drones, however, which may account for the apparently contradictory statements.

Britain’s small, active fleet
‘In Afghanistan drone strikes are ‘the exception, not the norm:’ US Central Command spokeswomanThe UK’s drone fleet in Afghanistan is small compared with that of the US – Britain will shortly double its number of Reapers from five to ten aircraft.

Yet British-piloted aircraft launched a high proportion of the total missiles fired from drones.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has released new data on the number of missiles fired in each of the past five years. In 2011, almost four missiles of every ten fired by drones in Afghanistan were the work of UK forces, the new figures indicate. In 2010 and 2012 the proportion was over a quarter. An MoD spokesman pointed out that the rate of missiles released in comparison to total hours flown had fallen significantly from its peak in 2008.

The MoD refused to reveal the number of strikes it had carried out, and indicated it would be inaccurate for the Bureau to infer a number of attacks by comparing British data with Centcom’s more complete numbers, ‘because of differing rules of engagement’.

Click the image to see an interactive and download the data

The missing numbers
‘Protecting civilians is the cornerstone of our mission. The use of all Afcent weapons and methods are tightly restricted, carefully supervised, and applied by only qualified and authorised personnel.’ US Air Force spokeswomanThe US has so far refused to release casualty data for its drone campaigns, although an Air Force spokeswoman insisted that ‘protecting civilians is the cornerstone of our mission’. She added: ‘The use of all Afcent weapons and methods are tightly restricted, carefully supervised, and applied by only qualified and authorised personnel.’

Only Britain has issued estimates of the non-combatants it has killed. According to officials at the Ministry of Defence, four civilians have died in UK-piloted drone strikes in Afghanistan – although campaigners such as Drone Wars UK have questioned this figure.

David Cameron visits troops in Afghanistan, December 2010 (Corporal Mark Webster/MoD)A ministry spokesman said: ‘Every effort, which includes in some circumstances deciding not to release weapons, is made to ensure the risk of collateral damage, including civilian casualties, is minimised.’

Although Britain has not officially estimated the number of militants killed, prime minister David Cameron told reporters in December 2010 that by that point UK drones ‘killed more than 124 insurgents’. More than 200 missiles have been fired by British drones since that date.

Libya: a short, bloody campaign
In contrast to the long-running Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, figures supplied by Nato and the Pentagon on last year’s Libyan air campaign give an insight into the brutal intensity of that short conflict.

Nato provided the Bureau with figures for the operation, first published in a letter to the head of the UN’s investigation into Libya in January 2012. Differences in how data is recorded makes it difficult to draw a comparison  between Libya and other recent campaigns. What is clear is that armed drones played a small yet significant role.

Prime minister David Cameron in December 2010 said UK drones ‘killed more than 124 insurgents’. Since then more than 200 missiles have been fired by British drones.In April 2011, the US announced it was sending Reaper and Predator drones to Libya as part of Operation Unified Protector. ‘They are uniquely suited for urban areas,’ Marine General James Cartwright, the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a press conference at the time.

While no British drones went to Libya, the MoD later revealed British pilots had flown US drones in the campaign.

Nato aircraft – piloted by the US, France and UK – flew around 18,000 armed sorties during the brief campaign, firing 7,600 missiles.

A tiny proportion of these armed missions – 250 in total – were flown by drones. US Predators flew 145 strike sorties, according to a Department of Defense briefingpublished in October 2011. A Nato spokesman explained ‘strike sorties’ is the term used for ‘identifying and engaging targets’, while armed sorties could also be for surveillance, and carrying weapons for self-defence.

The Pentagon confirmed to the Bureau that US-piloted drones carried out 105 strikes between the start of April and September 2, 2011. This figure does not reflect the full campaign, which continued until October 31. However, it does indicate a very high ratio of strikes to armed sorties – more than one in three total armed missions led to a strike – reflecting the intensity of the Libyan conflict compared to the more drawn-out wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where drones often fly armed missions without firing weapons.

Following the end of the campaign, in November 2011 Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen claimed: ‘We conducted our operations in Libya in a very careful manner, so we have no confirmed civilian casualties caused by Nato.’

But the following month, a New York Times investigation reported 40-70 civilians died in Nato bombings. The findings were supported by an Amnesty Internationalinvestigation published in March 2012, which named 55 civilians including 16 children and 14 women – all killed in strikes on urban areas, including in Tripoli, Zlitan, Majer and Sirte.

‘We conducted our operations in Libya in a very careful manner, so we have no confirmed civilian casualties caused by Nato.’ Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen But it is not clear how many – if any – of these deaths were caused by drones.

Iraq: a rapid wind-down
The Bureau has also obtained previously classified details of US drone strikes in Iraq for the final years of the conflict.

These demonstrate how swiftly the US Air Force scaled down its drone strikes as withdrawal approached.

The number of armed drone sorties dropped steadily between 2008 and December 2011, when US forces finally withdrew.

Actual drone strikes – or ‘kinetic events’ – collapsed by more than 90% between 2008 and 2009, Obama’s first year in office, from 43 strikes to four. In comparison, the CIA carried out 55 drone strikes in Pakistan in 2009.

There were no US Air Force drone strikes in Iraq in 2010, and just one in 2011. All US military drone sorties in the country have now ceased.

 

Girl, 15, ‘beheaded’ in Afghanistan after her family turned down marriage proposal


By Kerry Mcdermott, mailonline.com

PUBLISHED: 10:08 GMT, 29 November 2012 | UPDATED: 16:54 GMT, 29 November 2012

A teenage girl was beheaded by a relative in northern Afghanistan after she turned down his marriage proposals, according to reports.

The victim, named as Gisa, was decapitated with a knife in the Imam Sahib district of Kunduz province on Tuesday, local police said. She is believed to be around 15-years-old.

A police spokesman said two men, named as  Sadeq and Massoud, had been arrested following the teenage girl’s murder.

The two men are understood to be close relatives of the victim that live in the same village.

Local police sources have said the men behind the attack wanted to marry the girl, but their advances had been turned down by victim’s father.

Violence: The teenage girl is understood to have been beheaded after she refused a relative's repeated marriage proposals (FILE PHOTO)Violence: The teenage girl is understood to have been beheaded after she refused a relative’s repeated marriage proposals (FILE PHOTO)

Gisa is understood to have been attacked as she returned to her home in Kulkul village after going out to collect water from a nearby well.

Her father told a local news agency he had not wanted his daughter to get married because she was too young.

Afghanistan’s Taliban regime – notorious for its oppression of women in the country – was ousted in 2001, but extreme violence against women is still rife.

In 2009 the Elimination of Violence Against Woman law was introduced in Afghanistan, criminalising child marriage, forced marriage, ‘giving away’ a girl or woman to settle a dispute, among other acts of violence against the female population of the ultra-conservative Islamic nation.

But the UN has said there is a ‘long way to go’ before the rights of Afghan women are fully protected.

Comprehensive official statistics on the number of incidents of violence against women in the country are difficult to establish, with the majority of cases going unreported. However in the year to March 2011, Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission registered over 2,000 acts of violence against women.

The NATO-led International Security and Assistance Force has given high priority to re-establishing women’s rights that were eradicated under the Taliban as part of its efforts to create a security strategy for Afghanistan.

But with the deadline for international troops to pull out of the country – scheduled for the end of 2014 – looming, activists have warned that the outlook for the female population remains bleak.

Human Rights Watch has said women’s rights are increasingly at risk in the run up to the scheduled draw-down of NATO forces, with early and forced marriage, impunity for violence against women and lack of access of justice among the long list of challenges they still face.

'Beheaded': The teenage girl is understood to have been attacked as she returned to her home in the Imam Sahib district after fetching water from a nearby well‘Beheaded': The teenage girl is understood to have been attacked as she returned to her home in the Imam Sahib district after fetching water from a nearby well

 

While Afghan women have won back some basic rights since the Taliban was toppled 11 years ago, so-called honour killings remain relatively commonplace in the war-torn Islamic nation.

HONOUR KILLINGS IN AFGHANISTAN THIS YEAR

The summer of 2012 saw a spate of so-called honour killings in Afghanistan.

In July a father shot his two teenage daughters dead in the Nad Ali district of Helmand when they returned home four days after running away with a man.

Earlier that same month shocking video footage emerged of a 22-year-old Afghan woman being gunned down with an AK47 in front of a crowd of baying villagers in Parwan province.

Thought to have been married to a member of a hardline Taliban militant group, the woman, known only as Najiba, was executed after being accused of having an affair with a Taliban commander.

Her murder followed a horrific case in Ghazni province in which a man beheaded his ex-wife and two of their children.

Serata’s former spouse barged into her home and decapitated her in front of their eight-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter.

He then killed the children because they had seen, police said.

This year the country’s Independent Human Rights Commission recorded 16 incidents of honour killings in March and April alone, the first two months of the Afghan new year.

During the month of July a spate of brutal killings in the country – which left four women and two children dead – attracted international attention.

The Independent Human Rights Commission warned last month that Afghanistan has seen a sharp rise in cases of both honour killings and rape, adding that many incidents of murder and sexual assault go unreported to authorities.

The ever-present threat of violence at the hands of men in a patriarchal society has also led to an increase in cases of Afghan women taking their own lives.

Dozens of women commit suicide in the country each year, often to escape failed or abusive marriages.

Divorce is still taboo in Afghanistan, and women who flee their marriages, if caught, face stringent prison sentences.

A family court established in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, in 2003 offered a semblance of hope for women in the country that are trapped in forced marriages or subject to domestic violence – but it still adheres to Afghanistan’s version of Islamic sharia law.

Traditional Afghan culture places no onus on a man who wants to leave his spouse to go through legal proceedings – he can divorce his wife without any approval of the justice system. In the court in Kabul, a woman must plead her case before judges and lawyers, and she must have five male witnesses willing to attend in support.

A recent case saw a 17-year-old girl forced to accept a marriage proposal from a man she despised successfully argued for her engagement to be scrapped by the court, according to The Washington Post.

Tragically for Farima, who dreamed of becoming a doctor, the decision did not mark a return to the life of relative freedom she enjoyed before her engagement. Before taking her battle to the court, the desperate teenager had thrown herself from the roof of her Kabul home.

Farima broke her back in the fall, but survived. Her fiance insisted that their planned marriage must still go ahead, leading the now disabled teenager to take her battle to the family court.

Following the case, the 17-year-old is back in her childhood home. Her family did not allow her to return to school, and the injuries she sustained in her failed suicide bid mean relatives fear she will be unlikely to marry in the future. While she managed, against the odds, to free herself from a fate she dreaded, the future for this defiant Afghan girl still looks bleak.

Girls in rural parts of Afghanistan are often forced into marriage at a young ageChallenges: Afghan women have won back some basic human rights since the fall of the Taliban, but there is still a ‘long way to go’, activists say (FILE PHOTO)

 

Check out the American War- Music video #mustwatch


A 4-minute music video directed by KP Sasi and based on Kamaan Singh Dhami’s anti-war song “American War Paar Da! (Check Out the American War!).” It is a satirical and is a severe indictment of America’s role in escalating world conflict.

Originally written following the post-9/11 bombing of Afghanistan by the USA, and developed to address the occupation of Iraq, the song comments on various aspects of the American empire – its stockpile of nuclear bombs, its cozy relation with fanatical and dictatorial regimes, and in fact, the very notion of American peace and liberty. Copy left right & Center!

Khan, Taliban and the Crackpot Science


By Anas Abbas | DAWN.COM

If nothing else we Pakistani agree on one thing. Whatever little hope there appears is the last hope. A recent example of this was the invention of water as fuel for cars, which soon came crashing down. When we are too desperate for hope that is what happens. We believe it even if all evidence goes against it. But desperation is such a state that never lets a people learn. They bow down to miracles of crackpots just so that things change without their having to invest in knowledge and scientific progress.

Lately Pakistani urban youth has obsessed with another “Last Hope” who is an ideological lapdog of Hamid Gul and Jamaat-e-Islami whose looks and past athletic achievements are inversely proportional to his current ideology.

As readers might have guessed correctly, yes, its Imran Khan, the ‘playboy cricketer’-turned-politicianwho once threatened to abduct the greatest Pakistani humanitarian, Abdul Sattar Edhi and whose supporters are anxiously awaiting his triumph in upcoming polls. The demoralised and despondent youth that forms the major chunk of Pakistani population explosion feels abandoned by their government and seeks Khan as the solution to their insurmountable issues. Thanks to the gullibility of these overseas and domestic followers, Khan has earned the status of a Messiah who is expected to transform Pakistan to the ‘Norway of Europe’ in a short span of time by rooting outcorruption in 19 days, containing and eradicating terrorism in 90 days and becoming theSaudi Arabia of coal in, again 9-something days. These ludicrous claims of Khan and his party PTI have mammoth selling price at home but in reality they seem idealistic, incredulous and mostly fallacious in nature.

Take for instance, his stance on the issue of terrorism: he holds the ongoing War on Terror (started on 7th October 2001) responsible for not only the mounting polarization, extremism and terrorism in Pakistani society but also for the inception of Pakistani Taliban (TTP).

Recently his comments of Taliban fighting a jihad in Afghanistan faced severe criticism from not only the Afghan government but also from the Afghan public who protested against his comments.

Of course Khan and his brigade of trolls branded all criticism as ‘International Conspiracy’ and Khanfurther defended his comments by proposing myths that Bin Laden and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar were trained and indoctrinated by the CIA in 1980s.

However there are some pertinent questions which must be answered in order to ascertain whether or not there is any substance to Khan’s claims. The questions are:

Is the Taliban fighting a ‘Holy War’ in Afghanistan for the freedom and rights of afghan people as claimed by khan?

Is War on Terror the root-cause for the menace Pakistan has faced in the last decade?

In the above screenshot (Video courtesy Youtube, banned in Pakistan) Imran Khan addresses a gathering at Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania which was the breeding ground for the Taliban leadership and was well known for its support of Bin Laden. See also Haroon Rashid BBC Report: “The University Of Holy War”.

Even a cursory examination of history can tell us that the Taliban had nothing to do with Afghanistan and were the product of Pakistani JUI-run religious schools for Afghan refugees. Ahmed Rashid, a world renowned expert on Taliban provides a great insight on their emergence in his book “Taliban” (published in 2000). He describes the significant role of Maulana Samiul Haq andColonel Imam in the emergence of Taliban. Haq is a Pakistani religious and political leader whose madrassaDar-ul-Uloom Haqqania became a major training ground for the Taliban leadership.

Protesters led by Maulana Samiul Haq chanting slogans in support of Bin Laden. Picture courtesy: Khyber Gateway

In February 1999 Haq gave an interview to Rashid in which it was revealed that he was directly managing Taliban leader Mullah Omar in forcefully implementing puritanical brand of Sharia. He was also the chief organizer for recruiting Pakistani students to fight for the Taliban against the Northern Alliance and whenever the Taliban required reinforcements, Haq, along with the ISI provided them with the essential manpower.

The chart below shows the contribution of Pakistani and Al Qaeda militants in Afghan Taliban military force:

Graph below gives an estimation of Pakistan’s (Central Board of Revenue): The Economic loss suffered by Pakistan due to Taliban’s illegal transit trade & nexus with Pakistani transport, trade and drug mafia:

In his book Fundamentalism Reborn? Professor William Maley writes “Many Taliban carry Pakistani identity cards, as they spent years in refugee camps in Pakistan, and thousands voted in the 1997 elections in Balochistan for their favorite Pakistani party – the Jamiat-e-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI)”.

Afghans under the Taliban rule suffered some of the worst oppression in human history. It was a period of the Afghan Holocaust that witnessed ethnic cleansing campaigns, massacres, human trafficking, mass starvation and other forms of humanitarian crisis. According to a 55-page report by the United Nations, the Taliban conducted 15 colossal massacres between 1996 and 2001 in order to consolidate their brutal rule in Afghanistan. Shias were branded as “apostates” and there were organised ethnic cleansing campaigns against the Hazara community where women were raped, and thousands of people were either killed or locked in containers and left to suffocate.Women experienced a terrible form of repression where they were banned from education and employment, and were relegated to perpetually living behind the veil.

The savage Taliban, also termed as the “Holy Warriors” by Imran Khan, even closed down hospitals, and not only thwarted the efforts of aid agencies in providing relief to the Afghan people but also refused to cooperate with the UN led polio immunization campaigns for children.

Let’s look at some pictures to get a real feel of life under the Taliban regime, which the Afghans suffered:

Scenes from the Kabul soccer stadium where spectators once enjoyed watching football games now watch in awe and horror as hangings are carried out in public. – Photo courtesy RAWA

Public executions carried out against the Shiite minority in the province of Herat by the Afghan Taliban. – Photo courtesy RAWA

Tortured war prisoners’ bodies are left in the open to rot as the Taliban forbade their burial in Herat. – Photo courtesy RAWA

Paintings by children of RAWA schools and orphanages in Afghanistan depicting the obscurantist Taliban era. – Photo courtesy RAWA

Female passengers had to travel in trunks of cars like animals because the Taliban forbade taxi drivers to pick women without their close male relatives.– Photo courtesy RAWA

A well-known 90 year old poetess, Aunt Saman Boo who had to resign to begging in Herat due to Taliban aggressions. The old woman carries her published book of poetry with her while roaming the streets in search of a few Afghanis or food.– Photo courtesy RAWA

The Taliban regime proved cataclysmic especially for women who were publicly punished, often, by death. According to the Physicians for Human Rights, no other regime has inflicted such repression on half of its population.– Photo courtesy RAWA

Life under the Taliban as Afghanistan underwent the worst drought in its history.– Photo courtesy RAWA

Scenes from the Yakaolang Massacre carried out by the Taliban where relatives are trying to identify their relatives and loved ones.– Photo courtesy RAWA

Taliban phenomenon was not only confined to Afghanistan, even before 9/11 its tentacles had begun gradually spreading over and taking hold of Pakistan. This Talibanization of Pakistan was predicted in the late nineties by Olivier RoyWilliam Maley, and especially Ahmed Rashid, who documented in his book (Taliban) that by 1998, Pakistani Taliban groups were forcibly imposing their Sharia laws and consequent punishments in FATA as were implemented in Afghanistan. Similar incidents of Talibanization of Pakistan were also documented by senior journalist, Rahimullah Yousufzai in 1998.

As we have seen above that Imran Khan’s “Holy Warriors” are actually savages and beasts who have not only caused mass devastation in Afghanistan but have also become the ideological foothold of Pakistani Taliban (TTP) that has been killing thousands of Pakistanis in recent years. These Taliban were never accepted as legitimate rulers by the Afghan people and from their beginning were considered Pakistan’s proxies.

Imran also expressed great sympathy for these barbaric criminals in his recent book “Pakistan: A Personal History”.  In chapters 8 (Pakistan Since 9/11) & 9 (The Tribal Areas: Civil War? My Solution), Khan provides a grossly misleading narrative that the Taliban were willing to handover Bin Laden after 9/11 and that the American invasion of Afghanistan was motivated by “Imperial Hubris”. However the book fails to mention that America was in negotiations with Taliban on the Bin Laden issue since 1996 and had pressurized them to hand over Bin Laden through a series of UN resolutions such as 107611931214,12671333 and 1363. Nevertheless the Taliban defied this pressure as it was never in their interest to hand over Bin Laden since his fighters had played a substantial role along with Pakistani assets in their victory against the Northern Alliance and it was their turn to return the favour to their guests.

Exploring Khan’s claim that Pakistan has been wrong in fighting the American “War on Terror” since it hasonly brought destruction and disgrace to the nation, this seems another bogus assertion of his, based on highly erroneous information.

Between the years 2001 to 2006, Pakistan’s annual GDP growth was at an average of a whopping 7 per cent as compare to the 3 per cent annual growth in 1999 to 2001. This was made possible, not because Musharraf was some Stalwart, a Warren Buffet, or an economic gold medalist like Manmohan Singh,instead the boom was predominantly facilitated by incentives such as removal of all sanctions, debt rescheduling, waiving of export quota restrictions and greater market share that were offered to Pakistan for its participation in the “War on Terror”. Furthermore the relations with India improved significantly due to immense American pressure, due to which, Pakistan curtailed its support for Kashmiri insurgency.

Indeed after 9/11, Pakistan faced an enormous increase in violence which resulted in 40,000 civilian casualties and an economic cost of around $70 billion but an ample proportion of this staggering cost was also attributable to the Balochistan Conflict and ethnic violence in Karachi which had nothing to do with the War on Terror. In any case, the destruction wrecked by TTP was inevitable, even if Pakistan had not participated in the war on terror, as Pakistanis who were assisting the Afghan Taliban had started various movements even before 9/11 within FATA to implement the same rule which later evolved into the ruthless Pakistani Taliban (TTP). The chickens came home to roost for the country when it fought against terrorism and it paid a regrettable price for nurturing Islamic militants and sustaining them. In doing so, Pakistan lost 5,000 of its security forces. A similar cost was paid by the US in the form of 9/11 attacks after it conveniently left Afghanistan in a dilapidated state which later on morphed into a breeding ground for al Qaeda.

By calling Pakistan’s ‘war on terror’ a mistake, elements such as Imran Khan are an affront to the soldiers (such as Major General Faisal Alvi) who have bravely fought against Al Qaeda and laid down their lives. In fact, the correct approach is to slam the peace deals that Pakistan conducted with militants in FATA post 9/11 which were instrumental in giving militants the necessary breathing space that subsequently gave them the required strategic advantage.

One of the main architects of these deals was General Aurakzai, who not only supported the 1999 Musharraf coup but was also condemned by the UN for his pro Taliban views and by thePakistani XI Corps Commanders for his inept military operations. Aurakzai has been widely quoted by Imran Khan who is inspired by him in his defence of peace deals. However, it’s very naïve and illogical to blindly follow the narrative of a slippery character like Aurakzai who drew blame on the US for his own lack of competence in leading military operations.

Khan is an ardent promoter of these peace deals and continues to deceive the public by calling these the solution against terrorism and by linking it to the Northern Ireland peace process. He fails to understand that this process was only made possible after the successful “Decommissioning”where the IRA had to surrender its weapons. One can never expect the Taliban and al Qaeda to adopt“Decommissioning” since their ideology and struggle is religiously motivated unlike the IRA conflict. Currently the US is also striving towards similar agreements with Taliban where the latter are required to abandon their weapons and accept Afghan Constitution.

To sum it up Khan’s views on Taliban and his policy of countering terrorism is based on myths and distorted facts which promotes the conspiracy theory culture. His views remain unchallenged by a majority of the Pakistani Youth and media because they themselves are ignorant of history and are mostly the product of the TV Boom of 2003. He further misguides the public by terming the Pakistani Hazarasectarian cleansing as an international conspiracy and refrains from highlighting the link between these ethnic killings and those carried out in Afghanistan by the Afghan Taliban before 9/11. The latest example of his propagandist attitude is the drama he orchestrated about hisflight from Toronto to New York during which he was questioned. He made an issue that he was harassed and grilled due to his stance on drones only to be later confirmed by officials that the reason was that the donations he collected were illegal on the visa he was travelling.

In the end, Imran is a ‘Taliban Khan’ not because he wants his people to be slaughtered in soccer stadiums, but because he strategically supports Taliban for two main reasons:

a)    To remain in the good books of a faction of Military establishment that has always viewed Taliban as a proxy and is leading Pakistan into disaster.

b)    To exploit and fuel Anti-Americanism,  the best-selling product in Pakistan and which directly results in keeping a deafening silence on Taliban’s terrorism and instead blaming the ‘War on Terror’ for all the ills befalling Pakistan.

This strategy of Imran Khan can be further evidenced in the absurd claim he made of blaming the War on Terror for the murder of Salman Taseer while conveniently ignoring the murders of thosesuch as Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti, who have been killed like Salman long before 9/11, only because they defended blasphemy victims.

If Imran Khan really is as daring as he purports to be, he should openly confront and condemn the Taliban leadership by name, which he does not have the courage to do. He should learn a lesson from Malala who defied the Taliban’s ban on education of women.

References:
Roy, Olivier, ‘Domestic and Regional Implications of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan’, 24 April 1999.
Syed Saleem Shahzad 2011, Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11.
Pakistan: A Personal History by Imran Khan
Roy, Olivier, Middle East Report, Winter 1997.
Yousufzai, Rahimullah, ‘Pakistani Taliban at work’, the News, 18 December 1998.
Ahmed Rashid: Descent into Chaos 2008
Ahmed Rashid: Taliban, Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia

http://www.rawa.org/murder-w.htm

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011%5C11%5C12%5Cstory_12-11-2011_pg3_4

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Pakistan_gdp_growth_rate.svg&page=1

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011%5C11%5C12%5Cstory_12-11-2011_pg3_4

The writer is an investigative Counter Terrorism Analyst. He blogs at aacounterterror.wordpress.com and tweets at @Anas_Abbas1.

 

 

‘Baloch Groups to Unite Against #Pakistan’-Dr Allah Nazar


Karlos Zurutuza interviews ALLAH NAZAR, Balochistan Liberation Front commander.

Baloch fighters at a location in Pakistan. Credit: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS.Baloch fighters at a location in Pakistan. Credit: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS.

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain, Oct 26 2012 (IPS) – Fighters in the Balochistan province of Pakistan will soon set up a common front to take on the Pakistani military in their fight for Baloch independence, a senior commander of the Balochistan Liberation Front tells IPS in an interview.

“We are in full coordination with all Baloch resistance movements and we are soon to form a united command,” Dr. Allah Nazar, a doctor turned guerrilla fighter tells IPS in the interview on the phone earlier this month.

Divided by the borders of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Baloch have their own language, and live across a land the size of France they call “Balochistan.” The rugged terrain under their feet boasts enormous reserves of gas, gold and copper, and untapped oil and uranium. But this is also the most underdeveloped region across these countries.

This IPS reporter interviewed Dr Nazar on the phone after extended visits earlier to the three parts of the region (Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan) in 2009 and 2010. Excerpts from the interview:

How would you describe the group you lead?

In the Baloch Liberation Front there are people from all walks of life, from peasants to doctors. There are more than 6,000 fighters in our ranks and the number is growing by the day. The BLF is waging a guerrilla war inside East Balochistan which is under Pakistani control.

Do you coordinate with Jundullah (“Army of God”) – the Baloch insurgent movement in neighbouring Iran?

We know the people fighting in Jundullah are also Baloch but we have no relation with them. Ours is a pure nationalist war, miles away from Jundullah´s religious extremism.

Islamabad has always claimed that the Baloch resistance is been backed by India.

That´s just fake propaganda from Pakistani state media in order to show the world that the Baloch are proxies. India is not supporting us.

Pakistan controlled Balochistan has a provincial government. Why have you taken up an armed struggle and not parliamentary politics?

We had been declared an independent state from Pakistan in August 1947, even before Pakistan came into existence. Seven months later, Pakistan occupied our land by force. From the first day the Baloch have not accepted the occupation of Pakistan, so our struggle is a continuation of the struggle of our forefathers. Parliament makes laws brutally against Baloch national identity, our culture and language. And the Supreme Court is legitimising the brutality of the State.

Some Baloch leaders speak of self-determination and not independence.

Leaders such as Akhtar Mengal – former chief minister of the province and leader of the Mengal clan and head of the Balochistan National Party are calling for “national self-determination”, but that’s still a vague term. Self-determination has a broad meaning and it can imply that we remain inside the state. But we have our own history, our own language, our own national identity and so we want our freedom.

What do you think of the Freedom Charter, a road map for Balochistan independence supported by leaders like Hyrbyair Marri, the London-based tribal and political leader?

The Freedom Charter is a very good step as taken by Hyrbyair Marri. All Baloch fighting for freedom should suport the Freedom Charter.

Islamabad claims that projects such as Gwadar’s deep water harbour would boost the economy of Balochistan.

The Gwadar project has been planned in the interest of Punjabi and colonial powers and not for the welfare of Baloch people. It´s meant to bring demographic change in Balochistan; they want to bring in the Muhajirs –immigrants – and other people into Balochistan in order to unbalance demography. Gwadar is a death warrant for Baloch people.

The Baloch say the government in Islamabad is trying to Talibanise Balochistan in order to quell the Baloch nationalist movement.

That’s true. Balochs are basically secular, by their culture, by their tradition, by their historical background, so the Pakistani regime is trying to Talibanise the Baloch society. Just where I am right now, the ISI – the Pakistani secret service – has set up two religious militant groups against the Baloch national struggle: one is Ansar-al-Islam and the other is Tahafuz-e-Hadoodullah (Protectors of God’s Rule).

They have formed these groups in the name of Islam but their real aim is to crush the Baloch freedom movement. Pakistan is the cradle of the Taliban and the breeding ground of the Taliban. Pakistan is nourishing and funneling the Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorists into Afghanistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Yemen… Pakistan is an irresponsible state that is putting the civilised world in danger. A free Baloch state would therefore be in the interest of the whole civilised world.

Washington is reconsidering a pullout from Afghanistan due for 2014. How will this affect the Af-Pak region?

If America and NATO pull out from Afghanistan, that will lead to turbulence and destabilisation. A weak Afghanistan will not only destabilise the region but it will be harmful for the whole civilised world.