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    1. #1
      The Bradman of KK!

      Nikema's Avatar
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      This guy was in Pak during the elections and was able to see Pak from a western point of view and came up with these interesting observations.

      Thomas Houlahan is the director of the Center for Security and Science's Military Assessment Program. He also served as an election monitor in Pakistan's parliamentary elections

      By THOMAS HOULAHAN (Special to the Middle East Times)
      Published: October 16, 2008

      PAKISTAN MISUNDERSTOOD -- Pakistan has lost more civilians in the war on terror than the United States; Pakistan has lost more troops killed in fighting insurgents than every foreign contingent in Afghanistan combined. These facts fly in the face of the misinformation bandied about that Pakistan is soft on terror. Photo shows Pakistani tribesmen taking part in a military operation against Islamic militants near Peshawar.

      For a country that is so central to the war on terror, there is an awful lot of misinformation about Pakistan floating around, so as a military and Pakistan analyst, I figure it might be a good idea to clear up a few myths with some facts.

      Myth 1: Pakistan's failure to deal with unruly tribesmen in its tribal region facilitated a Taliban comeback that has thrown Afghanistan into turmoil.

      Facts: The Taliban's resurgence has been fueled by drug money. Some 93 percent of the world's opium now comes from Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, NATO and U.S. military leaders in Afghanistan have all opposed systematic opium crop eradication. This is unfortunate, because the Taliban has been making money by taxing opium growers 10 percent of their proceeds and/or charging for protection. They also get a piece of the action on smuggling, protecting the labs that turn opium into heroin, and every other activity involved in the production and movement of opium and heroin. Most of the drug trade takes place in southern Afghanistan, which is largely a no-go area for government and coalition forces, so the Taliban is able to make its financial demands stick.

      [u]Dr. Thomas Pietschmann of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that the Taliban has made $250-$300 million per year on the opium trade over the last three years.[/B]

      On one hand, we have a few hundred, or even a few thousand wild tribesmen who are going back and forth between Pakistan and Afghanistan. On the other, we have a basically unchecked drug trade in Afghanistan that nets the Taliban twice as much every year as the Afghan government spends on national defense. And that is before revenues from other types of smuggling are added in. Which is the bigger problem? You decide.

      The Pakistanis have their own opinion. Thanks to all that drug money, the insurgents they are fighting are armed to the teeth with the latest weaponry. Pakistan has had to use F-16 fighter-bombers in high altitude guided bomb attacks to knock out strongpoints in village strongholds that were so thick with heavy machine guns and anti-tank weapons that attack helicopters and tanks could not be safely employed against them. The Pakistani army lost four tanks and numerous others were damaged in its most recent offensive.

      Our failure to take matters in hand in Afghanistan is causing problems for Pakistan, not the other way around.

      Myth 2: Pakistan is happy to take American aid, but is content to appease insurgents rather than fight them.

      Facts: Pakistan has been fighting; more than one in four insurgents killed in the Afghanistan/Pakistan insurgency (4,500 of 16,500) has been killed by Pakistani security forces.

      As a measure of the intensity of the fighting, for every U.S. service member killed in that insurgency, three Pakistan security forces members have died. Pakistan has lost more troops killed than every foreign contingent in Afghanistan combined. Pakistan has also lost more civilians in the war on terror than the United States.

      The charges of appeasement stem from a delay of several months in the new government in Islamabad launching its offensive. There was valid reason for the delay.

      The government was concerned that an immediate general offensive across the tribal areas would involve massive collateral damage and cause a huge refugee problem, which might turn the tribal areas against the government. Therefore, the PPP government tried to focus its efforts by offering an olive branch to any insurgent band that would lay down its arms. Many accepted.

      To ratchet up pressure on Islamabad, the U.S. government, which did not understand the game plan, began leveling charges of appeasement and leaking questionable CIA "intelligence" claiming that elements of the Pakistani army were working hand-in-glove with the Taliban. It also increased cross-border attacks of various types, including one assault with ground troops, to goad Pakistan into launching an immediate offensive.

      However, it had always been understood that insurgents who refused to stop fighting would be attacked, and ultimately they were. When the Pakistani government felt comfortable that it could distinguish the reconcilables from the irreconcilables, it went after the latter with a vengeance. The army engaged them on the ground while Pakistani air force F-16s pounded them from the air. In the past two months, some 1,400 insurgents have been killed in very bitter fighting. The offensive has been far more intense than anything that has occurred in Afghanistan in the past few years.

      Myth 3: Pakistan is using aid money given it to fight terrorists to fund a military buildup against India.

      Facts: The charge that the government of Pakistan has been diverting aid that the United States has given it to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban to an anti-India buildup has stemmed mostly from uninformed comment regarding Pakistan's purchase and upgrading of F-16 fighter-bombers.

      Many public officials and commentators with no military background can't see how jet aircraft like F-16s can be used in counterinsurgency. Therefore, they claim that it is obvious that their only possible use would be against India.

      In fact, the U.S. Air Force uses them constantly and to good effect against insurgents. Last week in Afghanistan, in two separate battles with the Taliban, airstrikes were used to break the backs of forces assaulting coalition positions.

      The F-16 has been Pakistan's most effective weapon against insurgents. F-16s have killed well over 1,000 insurgents, who otherwise would have gone on to destabilize Pakistan or cross into Afghanistan to kill American soldiers.

      Pakistan's air force needs the upgrades so that it can expand the number of planes that can launch precision bombing attacks on insurgents at night. Right now, Pakistani targeting pods don't have night capability. This allows insurgents to move safely. Some of the men are moving into Afghanistan and attacking U.S. troops.

      In 2001, when Pakistan was at peace, Pakistan's defense budget was $2.6 billion. Now, it is a little over $4 billion. Adjusted for inflation, this means that this year's military budget is actually about 5 percent lower than 2001's budget in real dollars — even though Pakistan is now fighting a major insurgency.

      It should be pointed out that, under the terms of a recent agreement, Pakistan was allowed to purchase 36 late-model F-16s. It purchased only 18 and declined the option on the rest — unusual behavior for a country supposedly in the midst of an "arms buildup."

      Meanwhile, India's military budget has gone from $13.4 billion in 2001 to $26.5 billion this year, a 26 percent increase in real dollars. The budget next year, which will include payment for a number of major aircraft orders, is expected to be around $40 billion, a 90 percent real dollar increase over 2001.

      So, while Pakistan's military spending has remained flat, India's has increased. As a result, while India spent more than five times as much as Pakistan in 2001, it will spend more than 6˝ times as much this year and will spend almost 10 times as much next year.

    2. #2


      pak-one's Avatar
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      Excellent Article. I wish we could bring these types of articles to the forefront!

    3. #3


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      All I can say is, AWESOME

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