Tag Archive for 'Holbrooke'

Siachen tension and Pakistan floods

From ‘Obama’s War‘ by American journalist Bob Woodward reported in The Indian Express:

Holbrooke angle: global warming

Months before the floods in Pakistan, US special envoy for Af-Pak Richard Holbrooke had said the presence of Indian and Pakistani troops in Siachen was resulting in fast melting of ice that would soon flood the rivers in their countries, claims the book. Holbrooke made the remarks at a meeting chaired by Obama.

“In one discussion about the tension between Pakistan and India, Holbrooke introduced a new angle. ‘Theirs is a global warming dimension of this struggle, Mr President’,” he said. “His words baffled many in the room,” writes Woodward. “There are tens of thousands of Indian and Pakistani troops encamped on the glaciers in the Himalayas that feed the rivers into Pakistan and India,” he said. “Their encampments are melting the glaciers… There’s a chance that river valley in Pakistan and perhaps even India could be flooded,” Holbrooke had said. “After the meeting, there were several versions of one question: Was Holbrooke kidding?” the book says. “He was not.”

Them and US

Shekhar Gupta in The Indian Express on what a weak America means for India:

There was nothing un-Holbrooke-like about his utterly insensitive statement that the Kabul attack had not particularly targeted Indians. The use of really awful language, “I do not accept [that this was like the attack on the Indian embassy]” and “let’s not jump to conclusions”, was also true to form. In fact, coarse directness of this kind is so much his hallmark that, talking about him when his appointment was announced, a former American envoy — who himself was not exactly some Mr Congeniality — told me, “You guys will learn to deal with Holbrooke… he will make me look so diplomatic to you.” It follows, therefore, that there was also nothing so unusual about what should normally have been shocking insensitivity. What kind of a guy — other than Holbrooke, of course — speaks like this when four Indian victims of that terror attack are still battling for life in the hospital? His tone was dismissive, almost an admonition of those (read the Indian government) who “jumped to the conclusion” that this was an attack specifically on Indian interests. More:

A choice for change

Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s former information minister and currently a member of Parliament’s National Security Committee, in The Times of India:

There is no denying that the only game-changer in the battlefield can now be a shift in anti-Taliban operations across the Durand Line. By arresting much of the dreaded Quetta Shura Taliban, Islamabad has demonstrated two things: that it can swoop down tactically where the US has been unable to tread, and that if given the right strategic incentive, it can draw down on fresh reserves of political will. India was at pains to avoid the word mediation, but clearly, New Delhi hopes that the Saudi card may give it a seat at the Afghan table, as well as open a channel as interlocutor to Islamabad.

As it stands, the motors that work to tip the scales on this razor-edge between war and peace are predictably already at work. Almost as soon as Pakistan’s foreign secretary, Salman Bashir, crossed the Wagah border into Lahore, the debris from the Taliban attack in Kabul, where Indians were also killed among others, infected the air. The Jaish-e-Mohammad disclaimed its hand in the incident, blaming it on a fidayeen Afghan attack, but the terrorists who always seek to disrupt talks reminded everyone how they can affect both headlines and deadlines in this terrain. More:

Pakistan: In the face of chaos

How Pakistan’s army is failing, and what America must do, to crack down on rampant Islamist insurgencies in the region. From The Economist:

IN A rooftop restaurant overlooking the old Mughal city of Lahore, Richard Holbrooke dined on February 11th with a group of liberal Pakistani businessmen, human-rights campaigners and journalists. He had come, midway through his inaugural tour as America’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, with a heavy question. Against a rising thrum from the narrow streets of the red-light district below, Mr Holbrooke asked: “What is the crisis of Pakistan?”

Well might he ask. Pakistan, the world’s sixth-most-populous country and second-biggest Muslim one, is violent and divided. A Taliban insurgency is spreading in its north-west frontier region, fuelled partly by a similar Pushtun uprising against NATO and American troops in Afghanistan. Some 120,000 Pakistani troops have been dispatched to contain it, yet they seem hardly able to guard the main road through North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). On February 3rd NATO briefly stopped sending convoys through Pakistan-which carry some 75% of its supplies to Afghanistan-after Pakistani militants blew up a road bridge in NWFP. A related terrorism spree by the Pakistan Taliban and allied Islamists, including al-Qaeda, whose leaders have found refuge in the semi-autonomous tribal areas of the frontier, has spread further. Pakistan has seen some 60 suicide-bomb blasts in each of the past two years.

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Mumbai attack: Finally, Pakistan admits

After months of denial, Pakistan has finally admitted that last November’s terrorist attack on Mumbai was planned and launched from its territory. Pakistan’s interior ministy chief said six people, including the mastermind of the attack, Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, were in its custody. India’s foreign minister termed Pakistan’s response as a positive development.

Pakistan’s half a confession: Holbrooke’s first success?

C Raja Mohan in The Indian Express:

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind behind the attacks on Mumbai. Reuters

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind behind the attacks on Mumbai. Reuters

Even the most sceptical of Indian analysts will have to concede that Pakistan has taken an important step forward Thursday in acknowledging that at least part of the planning for the Mumbai outrage took place in Pakistan. Islamabad’s half a confession on Thursday is an important gain for the UPA Government which had chosen the diplomatic route to pressurise Pakistan rather than a military confrontation that many hotheads in New Delhi wanted after the Mumbai aggression. More:

Time for India to think of carrots too, not just sticks

In The Hindu, Siddharth Varadarajan says now India must shed its distrust of Pakistan

After expecting the worst, New Delhi today finds itself having to fashion a response to a Pakistani investigative effort that the entire world is likely to judge as serious and effective. So far, the Indian side had been thinking only in terms of the coercive diplomatic steps it could take in response to Islamabad’s lack of cooperation. Now that Pakistan has demonstrated more than a modest measure of cooperation, India will have to also evaluate the carrots, if any, it is prepared to offer to ensure the progress that has been made continues, and the planners of Mumbai are brought to book. More:

“Thaw at last”

That’s the headline of the report in Dawn, Karachi: Tension between Islamabad and New Delhi started to dissipate on Thursday and a thaw set in when Pakistan’s Interior Adviser Rehman Malik conceded that last November’s terror attacks in Mumbai were partially planned in Pakistan, and announced the arrest of a number of accused and his government’s intent to prosecute them. Rehman Malik’s unprecedented announcement at a televised news conference was greeted by an immediate change in tone and tenor of key Indian decision makers. Both External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Interior Minister P. Chidambaram described as positive Islamabad’s response to the Delhi-prepared investigation dossier on the terror attacks blamed on Pakistan-based militants. More:

How US leaned heavily on Pakistan

From The Indian Express: This and the fact that the admission comes a day after US President Barack Obama spoke to Pak President Asif Ali Zardari and when US envoy Richard Holbrooke was visiting the country, clearly reflects the pressure being brought on Islamabad. Incidentally, the FBI was on the verge of moving in with visas ready when Pakistan decided to set up an investigation team. More:

How the attack was planned

From The Hindu: Confirming that the engine of the dinghy was bought in Pakistan, Mr. Malik said the investigators had traced the shop and the owner from where a man he identified only as “one Khan” bought the engine. Khan also bought life-jackets and other sea-travel related items from this shop. The owner of the shop had a contact number that Khan had given him. The FIA found the number terminated, but the telephone number from which the termination request was made opened out the investigation further. More