Tuesday, September 13, 2011



Come, come, it is a prayer
Come, come, not for me my father
Come, come, come back for my mother
Come, come, she dies for you
Come, come, so that life can re-start
Come, come, without you there
Come, come, it is a long silence
Come, come, it is a silence never-ending.

I know this girl she is pretty
That for her you forget your family
I'm not here to judge you
But to take you back
It seems that her love is your soul
Do you think it's worth the love of your wife
Who shared your sorrows

Come, come, as before
Come, come, you will sleep as before
Come, come, it is a prayer
Come, come, not for me my father
Come, come, come back for my mother
Come, come, she dies for you
Do you know that John is back at school
He already knows the alphabet, it's funny
When he pretended to smoke
He really looked like you

Come, come, it is a prayer
Come, come, you smile, my father
Come, come, you will see my mother
Come, come, she is more beautiful than before
Before, before, before, before
Come, come, say nothing, my father
Come, come, kiss me, my father
La la la la ... La la la la ...



According to an analysis by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the Afghan Taliban and its affiliates such as the Haqqani network and Gulbuddin Heckmatyar’s Hizbe-Islami (HI) attempted to launch three big attacks on strategic targets in Kabul since the responsibility for the internal security of Kabul was transferred by the US-led NATO forces to the Afghan security forces three months ago. In two of these attacks, the Afghan security forces were taken by surprise. Only in one, they were able to thwart the attack.

2. The two successful attacks by the Taliban and its affiliates were one in June when seven people were killed in an attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel and another in August when insurgents stormed the British Council HQ, killing 12 people.

3. There was a third attack on September 13. It began at about 13:30 local time when a car carrying insurgents was stopped at a checkpoint about 300 metres from the US Embassy. There were several large explosions and the insurgents, who were thwarted from raiding the US Embassy, entered a nearby nine-storey building under construction and from there opened fire with rockets and mortars.

4. Haroun Mir, Director of the Kabul-based Afghanistan Centre for Research and Policy Studies, has been quoted as saying that it was the first time that four groups of militants had attacked in four different places--- near the US Embassy, on a Police Station and an attempt at forced entry into the airport which was foiled. The identity of the fourth target is not clear.

5.The insurgents used a mix of modus operandi consisting of commando-style attacks with explosives and hand-held weapons near the US Embassy and suicide attacks in the other three places. While the attacks were spectacular in their planning and execution, they were not very lethal as seen from the low figures of fatalities---less than 10, four of them policemen. No casualties were reported from the US Embassy. The total number of insurgents involved in the attack in the US Embassy area is estimated at around 10.

6. In view of the location of the US Embassy in the area attacked, it is saturated with state-of-the-art CCTV cameras given by the US, but these were of no help in detecting the arrival of the insurgents. It is suspected that the insurgent had cached the hand-held weapons beforehand in the building under construction and launched their raid only with explosives. In the confusion caused by the explosions, they entered the building, retrieved the hand-held weapons and started exchanging fire with the security forces posted in the area.

7.The reports on the attacks received so far reflect somewhat poorly on the Afghan and NATO intelligence both of which failed to give advance warnings, but speak well of the reflexes of the Afghan security forces, which recovered quickly from the initial shock and managed to deny a strategic victory to the insurgents.

8.Tactical surprise scored by the insurgents due to poor Afghan and NATIO intelligence, but a successful fight-back by the Afghan Security Forces after recovering from the initial surprise and shock have been a defining characteristic of recent attacks in Kabul. Till now, the largely US-trained Afghan Security Forces have been able to stand up to the Taliban and its affiliates much better than the US-trained forces of South Vietnam were able to do against the Vietcong in the 1970s.

9. However, what should be of real concern is not the reach of the Taliban and its affiliates into Kabul, but their continuing hold in the interior areas despite the counter-insurgency operations with modern weapons and technology launched by the US last year.

10.The Afghan Taliban managed to carry out a catastrophic attack on a US helicopter on August 5,2011, carrying 30 US troops including 22 Navy SEALS, belonging to the same unit which had killed Osama bin Laden in a raid at Abbottabad in Pakistan on May 2 ---killing all of them. It was the largest fatality in a single incident ever suffered by the US during its military operations in Afghanistan launched in 2001 and the largest fatality ever suffered in a single incident by the Joint Special Operations Command, which controls the operations of the Navy SEALS since the JSOC was set up. Seven Afghan troops and an interpreter also died in the incident.

11. Subsequently, at least two Afghan civilians were killed and up to 77 non-Afghan soldiers - thought mostly to be American - were injured when a suicide bomber in a lorry attacked a NATO base in the Wardak province on September 11, the 10th anniversary of Al Qaeda’s 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US homeland.

12. These incidents in Kabul and the interior underline the continuing ability of the Afghan Taliban and its affiliates to take NATO/Afghan forces by surprise. The US intelligence capability vis-a-vis Al Qaeda in the Af-Pak region might have improved, but not its capability vis-a-vis Taliban and its allies or affiliates. The US ground intelligence inside Afghanistan---preventive as well as disruptive--- is as poor as ever. HUMINT in particular is weak quantitatively as well as qualitatively. The Afghan intelligence has not been able to compensate for the USA's poor HUMINT capability.

13. The USA’s analysis and assessment capability is below par. It does not have a correct measure of the Taliban and its affiliates. The US may be making headway against Al Qaeda, but it is not against the Taliban. If one considers the totality of the picture in the Af-Pak region---anti-terror, anti-insurgency---- the US is far from prevailing in Afghanistan.

14. The US troops after 10 years in Afghanistan are in the same position as the Soviet troops after eight years were in 1987---victory increasingly elusive.

15. The US strategy in Afghanistan needs a re-visit. So too the Indian strategy. Despite all our support, the Najib Government in Kabul collapsed in April 1992.A similar fate might befall the Karzai Govt.

16.We had a Northern Alliance option after Najib fell. We do not have a similar option in Afghanistan today. Post-1992, India, Russia and Iran jointly countered Pakistani machinations. Today, Pakistan has moved closer to Russia and the Central Asian Republics in an attempt to prevent a convergence of Indian and Russian objectives in Afghanistan. The implications for the security of this region and for our internal security if the Taliban and its affiliates, with Pakistani support, manage to impose a no-win situation on the US-led NATO forces need to be carefully examined by us and necessary correctives introduced in our Af-Pak policy. (14-9-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )


( I am reproducing below an article written by me on June 25,2006)



By B.Raman

We saw in Vietnam a clash of wills between a low-tech Vietcong and hi-tech Americans.

Low-tech ultimately prevailed over hi-tech.

Hi-tech taught the Americans how to kill----more and more.

One lost count of the body-counts projected by the US Army officers in South Vietnam and by Mr.Robert McNamara, the then US Defence Secretary, in Washington DC as indicators that the US was winning the war.

If body-counts alone could win a war, the Americans should have won in Vietnam. They did not.

There is something more to battles than body-counts-----morale,motivation, determination, ability to improvise and faith in oneself. The Vietcong had them in plenty.

In addition, the Vietcong had something more, which ultimately made the difference-----the ability to recover and fight again and again undeterred by all the losses suffered by them at the hands of the American troops, artillery and air force.

The Vietcong were like ants. They kept coming more and more. The more the Americans killed, the more they came. They kept coming out of dozens of ant holes located in foreign territory----in North Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China.

You cannot destroy ants unless you locate and destroy the ant holes. The American air strikes could not destroy all the ant holes in foreign territory.

They did not even try to destroy those in China lest they provoke Beijing. Their air strikes against those in North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were ineffective due to the complicity of the local authorities with the Vietcong.

Ultimately, the hi-tech Americans were overwhelmed by the low-tech ants. They called it quits.

We are seeing in Afghanistan a clash of wills between a low-tech Taliban and the hi-tech forces of the US-led coalition.

The hi-tech of the US-led forces is enabling them to kill more and more.

Body-counts reminiscent of the Vietnam days are back in vogue.

20 Taliban killed, 40 killed, 65 killed, 149 killed......

It goes on and on.

Every time you watch the TV, listen to the radio or read a newspaper, you see or hear only body-counts.

To whom did those bodies belong?

To the Taliban as claimed by the US-led forces? Or

To innocent civilians as alleged by the Taliban?

Definitely both.

The more the civilians you kill, the more the alienation.

The more the civilians you kill, the more the anger against you.

It is a vicious circle.

The Taliban are like ants. They keep coming more and more. The more the Americans kill, the more they come. They keep coming out of ant holes located in the Wairistan and Balochistan areas of Pakistan.

Instead of focussing on the ant holes from which the ants are entering Afghanistan, the Americans are focussing on the places in Afghanistan which are being invaded by the ants----killing many innocent civilians and driving others to join the ants.

This is like damaging or destroying your house because it is invaded by ants instead of locating the ant holes and destroying them first.

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is right.

The US-led forces have to change their methods. They have to attack the sources of terrorism.

They have to destroy the ant holes instead of keeping themselves confined to chasing the ants after they enter Afghanistan.

The American-led forces cannot be successful, despite all their resources and fire power, in destroying the ant holes unless they have the genuine co-operation of the military-dominated Government in Pakistan.

Expectations of such genuine co-operation have proved themselves to be illusory.

The Americans have only one option. Facilitate the coming into power of a genuinely democratic Government, which might co-operate sincerely.

It is better to have a sincere ally, even if it be only half effective, than to have an insincere ally, who feeds the ants while pretending to destroy them.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

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