No apologies for hiding Bin Laden

March 25, 2014

By Azmaish Ka Waqt – Newsvine

Article PhotoCarlotta Gall’s piece in the New York Times has caused a firestorm in the media and government circles and given the Pakistani state very bitter pills to swallow. Yet the allegations and assertions she raises, articulately wrapped in personal anecdotes, are nothing new. Analysts and journalists from across the spectrum have been obsessed with making sense of this curry – Osama Bin Laden’s hideout, cross-border terrorist attacks, why the US lost the War on Terror.

While anecdotal evidence is very useful in raising questions and gauging patterns, it cannot be taken at face value or deemed factual. Neither can hearsay.

Gall writes that several of the Afghans she met at bomb sites told her that the organisers of the insurgency were from Pakistan. “Even the Afghan police said the militants had crossed the border”. But she fails to mention that thousands of Pakistanis and Afghans move across the porous Pak-Afghan border daily. Lack of consensus on the demarcation of the border has been a thorn in the sides of both countries since long before the partition. Half-truths can accomplish so much more than the whole truth, which in this case, is that militants from Afghanistan too enter Pakistan, organise attacks and return to their safe havens that have continued to mushroom despite the decades-long scourge by the US and the Afghan National Army. Mullah Fazlullah of Swat fame fled the country to take refuge in Afghanistan and has planned and manned attacks on Pakistan from across the border. On who is providing whom refuge, Gall tells a one-sided tale.

Gall gets straight to the point – it has been the ISI all along. From engendering 9/11 to planning attacks, protecting militants, persecuting citizens under its reign of terror, and single-handedly organising and supplementing a global force of terrorists, the ISI has done it all. If this is truly the case, and if the ISI is indeed capable of such a masquerade, the CIA and the US government should simply resign on grounds of sheer incompetence.

As a war correspondent with the highest credentials, Gall knows the delicate nature of reporting in war zones, the moral ambiguity of war, the need to objectively report the accurate and ensure that every claim is attributable, authentic and far from hearsay. A war correspondent’s report needs to be supplemented with evidence that can hold its own in a court of law. Without its accompanying buttress of proof, the report becomes a mouthpiece with vested interests. Quoting unnamed sources is not enough to pass judgement on an entire country, Gall should know.

One cannot but feel sympathy for the ordeal Gall had to go through at the hands of security agents during her visit to Pashtunabad, Quetta. This is no way to deal with a lady, as the then information minister acknowledged and apologized for. This Gall fails to mention here, but ABC News reported when covering this incident in 2006: Gall said the Minister of State for Information, Tariq Azeem Khan, apologized for the incident and helped secure the release of the photographer and Gall’s belongings. But she says he told her to inform Pakistani authorities ahead of future visits to Quetta “to avoid such difficulties.”

When one is a foreign national war correspondent in a war zone, the least he or she could do is follow legal procedure and register themselves with state authorities before heading out to a notorious madrassah in Pashtunabad. Makes one think what the US or Afghan National Army would do to a Pakistani interviewing people and taking pictures close to Bagram Prison without a permit.

Gall should also know that ISI is not – cannot – be the only intelligence agency in the world with safe havens to interrogate suspects. It’s the tone of incredulous disbelief that throws one off. This cannot be news to Gall, she does after all come from the country that gave us CIA and Guantanamo Bay.

Former ISI chief General (r) Ziauddin has denied saying those things to Gall. In an interview with Dawn, Ziauddin says he was misquoted: ‘I told her that Musharraf should have known that Osama was hiding in Abbottabad. But in a bid to give credence to her thesis, the lady journalist misquoted me as saying that Musharraf knew about Osama’s presence’.

Peter Bergen writes that while US-Pakistan relations have been anything but smooth, Gall’s astonishing claims that the ISI actually ran a special desk assigned to handle bin Laden and that the US had direct evidence that former ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha knew of bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad, cannot be proven. Gall cannot quote anyone on this, even when she demands more openness from the US government on the matter. A claim unsupported by even a shadow of evidence is at best a claim.

The bullhorn behind this apocalyptic painting of Pakistan becomes evident by the time Gall says that Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s intelligence agency had a mole among General Musharaf’s top ten generals, who in a super-secret meeting, discussed Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. Gall’s article, apart from showing that she has no love lost for Musharaf, fails to mention that it was the ISI who warned Bhutto about possible attempts on her life. Furthermore, if the Afghan intelligence service had eyes and ears into Musharaf’s inner circle, the Afghan service should have also known where they were hiding Bin Laden.

The article, adapted from Gall’s upcoming book, has all the ingredients of a thriller Dan Brown would be proud of: intrigue, mystique, a larger-than-life villain, conspiracy theories that sound like new revelations, ending with a flourish. It is thinly sourced, draws inferences from circumstantial evidence and has been written off as a sensational teaser for her upcoming book The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001- 2014. If this article was supposed to be an attention grabbing pre-launcher then it has backfired badly.

A resilient nation

November 4, 2010

Ikram Sehgal

To paraphrase Mark Twain: “Rumours about Pakistan’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.” By any measure, the country has defied the odds, and we are one of the most resilient nations on earth. How many nations are capable of surviving the manmade and natural catastrophes that we are periodically subjected to, not counting the disaster that is our democratic leadership? Even incurable optimists like me do not cease to wonder at our inherent ability to rise from the ashes. Something like Razzak’s amazing century the other day in Abu Dhabi.

In 2009, parliament (which is “supreme”) voluntarily surrendered sovereign authority in Swat, with hardly any debate and in less than one day. The public mask for the evil designs of Fazlullah, his murderous son-in-law, Sufi Mohammad gave away the jihadis’ hand by publicly heaping scorn on the Supreme Court. For good measure, he added that the militants did not recognise the country’s Constitution. Had the media darling of that time not shot off his mouth prematurely, Swat’s population would today be subject to the Fazlullah brand of Shahriah, thanks to parliament that has never revoked that despicable Resolution. With Islamabad only 60 kms away as the crow flies. The “domino theory” was very much a possibility in the adjoining districts. The outraged public reaction and the continuing atrocities perpetuated by Fazlullah was “casus belli,” giving space to the army deal with them effectively.

Once given the green signal and with the population firmly behind its campaign the army showed no reluctance or hesitation in going after the insurgent terrorist menace within our borders. The successful counterinsurgency overcame the psychological barrier, the feeling that the jihadis could not be beaten. The battlefield momentum was thereafter extended to South Waziristan. The Mahsuds provided the supposedly impenetrable outer ring around the non-Pakistani Al-Qaeda stronghold. But the myth of their invincibility, created with the help of uninformed media hype, soon evaporated. Many cadres of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were killed. Some were taken captive but a substantial number melted away, many of them seeking (and receiving) refuge in North Waziristan from the Haqqani group.

Not that the army is infallible. The other day someone mentioned that the Pakistani army was working on a new doctrine. One was not surprised that an enquiry about the national security strategy on which the doctrine should be based produced blank looks. One may be forgiven for being rather skeptical. But, after all, who can forget the brilliance (and the after-effects) of the last two “doctrines”: (1) the defence of the East lies in the West, and (2) Afghanistan gives us strategic depth.

In similar vein, when Mian Nawaz Sharif talks about a 25-year charter drawn up by all stakeholders, one wonders what in the world is he talking about. For example, what really is the PML-N chief doing about the electricity and petroleum rates hiked beyond description? Forget the “vision thing.” The PML-N leader should start playing the role that Pakistanis want from the opposition, both within parliament and outside, providing the checks and balances that are the essence of democracy.

The Supreme Court judgment on the 18th Amendment was quite Solomonic, and hopefully parliament would respond in a mature fashion and correct the anomalies that have slipped into an otherwise commendable Raza Rabbani-led achievement. The PML-N’s ineptitude and the Supreme Court inaction have gifted Zardari time and space time and again. The one public official in Pakistan who does not have to declare his assets, the president has used this repeated let-off quite brilliantly, launching an effective attack against the Supreme Court’s credibility. While the Supreme Court has been forced occasionally to take the opposition’s role by default to ensure and/or enforce the rule of law for the hapless people of Pakistan, it has only itself to blame for vacillating in implementing its judgment on the NRO, whose beneficiaries continue to disfigure at will whatever governance there is in Pakistan.

The US is generous in getting material and monetary aid to us whenever we face either manmade and/or natural disasters. The US Chinooks supplementing Pakistan Army Aviation helicopters made the difference between life and death for millions stranded above the snowline in the high mountains during Earthquake 2005. The Chinooks were joined this time around during the devastating Floods 2010 by Sea Stallions in saving thousands upon thousands from the rising floodwaters, as well as delivering timely material aid. The $2 billion in military aid promised by the US recently is rather niggardly (at $500 million a year beginning 2012), when the amount is compared to the $18 billion largesse for the Afghan National Army (ANA). One must not look a gift horse in the mouth, but one feel more than a little aggrieved at what is being poured into a black hole in Afghanistan. The Pakistani army has lost more than 3,000 killed in the last 18 months, the ANA less than 300 dead (all the coalition forces put together have lost about 600 killed in action this year).

It is a fact of life that our young men in uniform are being killed in the line of duty at a ratio of 10:1 to the number of coalition casualties put together. Compared to the Afghan civilian casualties, our young and old – men, women and children – are dying at about the same rate at the hands of suicide bombers in the streets of Pakistan. While we must own the war against terrorism, it is ours to fight and win, the disparity in our effort compared to the treatment meted out to us rankles with us.

US ambassador Cameron Munter has hit the ground running. That is good, given the rather large shoes of his predecessor that he has to fill. Ambassador Anne Patterson was a class act and, even though one did disagree with her shoring up an inherently corrupt and ineffective leadership in Pakistan which represents everything that the average American can never stomach, she was outstanding in coalescing the core interests of the US with the concerns of Pakistan.

It is no secret that the US has always had (and continues to have) inordinate influence over our rulers, civil and military included, and while Pakistan may not always carry out their express instructions immediately, either because of a lack of resources and/or long-term core interests: e.g., action against the Haqqani group in North Waziristan, the US can (and must) use its considerable clout, Holbrooke notwithstanding, to ensure that our corrupt-to-the-core rulers adhere to the rule of law.

Let’s call a spade a spade and not insult everybody’s intelligence. We should be content being paid a pittance as mercenaries. What else will be made out to look when President Obama visits the real US “strategic partner” in the next few days? While the security of the US president must be the deciding factor, Obama should be persuaded to put himself in harm’s way for “a country that refuses to fail.” Even a few hours on our soil would be a tremendous vote of confidence.

The writer is a defence and political analyst. Email: isehgal@pathfinder


August 19, 2010


With every passing day there is growing perception in international media that President Obama’s Afghan strategy is not working. American public opinion in favour of Afghan war is rapidly eroding and majority of Americans think that situation is worsening in Afghanistan. A number of basic goals were set in Counter Insurgency Strategy (COIN) by President Obama almost a year ago. But none of them is near to be achieved.

The first goal was to stabilize Afghanistan while pursuing a more effective civilian strategy. In it the main focus was on protecting major Afghan population centers along with agricultural areas and transportation routes. It was said that operations will be conducted in this way so that they would result in minimum causalities. But NATO troops have failed to make even a little progress on this front. The number of civilians killed or injured in Afghanistan has jumped 31 per cent. More than 1250 civilians were killed in the first six months of 2010 and amongst them 176 were children.

The UN figures released recently for civilian causalities were the worst in nine years of war. Afghan people are increasingly squirming at present sorry state of affairs in their country. This has gone a long way in alienate the Afghan population. Moreover the Taliban enter into villages at night and brutalize them for not backing the Afghan government. The surge strategy just opened a new and more gruesome chapter of atrocities in the war-ravaged country. With mounting causalities among the coalition forces, the morale of troops and opposition to protracted war is mounting. In July alone almost 66 soldiers have died in Afghanistan. Now even US soldiers have started talking of futility of way, what to talk of other NATO troops.

The second goal was to make headways in tackle corruption and improve governance. But the ground realities portray a very pathetic scenario. A recent survey by Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) shows a sharp increase in corruption in Afghan society. Every year Afghan people pay millions of dollars in bribe. Even to receive basic public services more than 28 per cent of Afghan people have to pay a bribe that in times of peace should have been easily accessible. Afghan people who have seen life at its most pitiless are suffering from twin handicaps of poverty and militancy for the last three decades.

The survey further indicates that the most impoverished portion of Afghan society appears to be the worst victim of this evil of corruption. Almost 51 per cent of people think that Karzai government is not serious in doing away with this evil and Justice and security have been identified as the most corrupt sectors in Afghanistan. The gross negligence and failure to monitor process of disbursing aid has led to huge sums of money disappearing into the pockets of the powerful people, rather than being used for development purposes like building the roads, schools and hospitals.

The third goal was to outreach to moderate factions of militants that fight alongside the Taliban and to persuade them to lay down their arms in exchange for a role in local governance and other monetary incentives. But the reality that cannot be overlooked is that militants in some parts of Afghanistan who had laid down their weapons and renounced violence in response to government offers of aid and amnesty were treated with much humiliation. So they are rejoining the insurgents because of failure of Karzai government to deliver on its promises.

Nur Gul, an influential Taliban commander, who had surrendered with his armed men, last year, has now again joined the Taliban’s ranks because he was mistreated at the hands of Afghan security forces instead of bringing in mainstream political system and giving money appropriated in 2010 defense bill to found a Taliban reintegration program.

It was said that Afghan National Army (ANA) will be developed to coup with challenges. But thus far poorly equipped soldiers have not even necessary war instruments like planes, helicopters, heavy weapons, tanks and night vision goggles. The combat efficacy of the Afghan National Army (ANA) remains nothing more than mere show. A major military campaign in Afghan city of Marjah in Helmand province has already failed and military operation in Kandahar has been postponed because of overwhelming chances of failure. The level of mistrust between foreign troops and Afghan army can be analyzed from the fact that American soldiers in Kandahar report that, for their own security, they will not tell their ANA colleagues when and where they are going to patrol.

Obama’s Afghan strategy also talked of having a more robust partnership with Pakistan. President Obama had said, “We will strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to target these groups that will threaten our countries. But military relationship between Pakistan and the US remain very fragile and characterized by deep-seated mistrust. Drone attacks in tribal areas of Pakistan remain a major irritant in the mutual relations of Pakistan and the US.

The US invasion of Afghanistan had two objectives i.e., to deny Al-Qaeda safe heavens in Afghanistan and to set up a moderate form of government by replacing the Taliban regime. Al-Qaeda has settled in other countries of the world and still planning attacks on the US land. The Taliban are fearlessly dispensing their brutal form of government in many provinces of Afghanistan and executing people openly in the presence of more than one hundred thousand NATO troops in Afghanistan.

In the nutshell it stands out crystal clear that Obama’s Afghan strategy is failing on every front. President Obama, a dazzling orator and incisive thinker, failed to appreciate the local sensitivities of Afghanistan. The Taliban’s resistance is getting momentum by the day and slowly and gradually Taliban are establishing unchallenged control over Afghan provinces. There are clear dissensions between the Obama administration and US military commanders as to the time of withdrawal. Moreover US failure to make progress against the Taliban has led many war-weary Afghans to believe that the Taliban will once again rule them.

Despite the arrival of thousands of more fresh troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban are on the offensive. American policy makers need to stop burying their heads in the sand and put an end to nine years of trials and tribulations.

Dutch troops leave southern Afghanistan

August 3, 2010

By the CNN Wire Staff

Kabul, Afghanistan — More details about the Dutch withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan emerged on Monday.

The Netherlands became the first NATO ally to pull combat troops out of Afghanistan on Sunday as it handed over its mission in southern Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province to U.S. and Australian forces.

At the end of this year the Netherlands will have only 60 military personnel in Afghanistan, none in combat, Dutch Ministry of Defense spokeswoman Marloes Visser told CNN on Monday.

At the peak of their commitment, the Dutch had nearly 2,000 troops in Afghanistan. The bulk of that number, 1,500 personnel, were in Uruzgan, with 400 and 100 in Kandahar and Kabul, respectively.

Some staff units remain in Afghanistan, according to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, but the Air Task Force in Kandahar will pull out in December, emptying the country of Dutch troops. The remaining 60 personnel will work in the international headquarters in Kabul and Kandahar, Visser said.

The International Security Assistance Force-led multinational effort took over the Uruzgan mission Sunday. Combined Team-Uruzgan Commander, Colonel Jim Creighton, led a ceremony attended by acting governor for Uruzgan, Khodai Rahim Kahn, as well as ISAF and Afghan National Army personnel, according to an Australian Defence media release.

“The expansion of roads and bridges, the effectiveness of the Afghan National Security Forces, and enhanced security are examples of the improvements made by the hard work and efforts of Dutch and Australian personnel working with the Uruzgan leaders and people,” Creighton, who is from the United States, said.

More U.S. troops will have to enter the area to fill the void, he said.

“I am looking forward to building on the exceptional work that the Dutch and Australians have undertaken so far in Uruzgan.” Creighton said. Combined Team-Uruzgan includes around 1,800 US, Australian, Singaporean, Slovakian, New Zealand, and French personnel.

A 700-person task force will redeploy Dutch forces in Uruzgan Province back home, Visser said.

“The past four years brought the population of Uruzgan great improvements,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement Sunday. “Regrettably, the Netherlands is saddened by its 24 war casualties and 140 wounded.”

The Dutch government already had extended its mission by two years. NATO requested another extension as the United States and its allies beefed up forces at the end of 2009, but opposition to the proposal brought down Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s ruling coalition in February.

U.S. and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001 in retaliation for the al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington that September. Allied and local forces quickly toppled the Taliban, the Islamic militia that ruled most of Afghanistan and allowed al Qaeda to operate within its territory.

But top Taliban and al Qaeda leaders escaped the invasion, and Taliban fighters regrouped along the rugged border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The group is now battling both coalition forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s government.

Soldiers from the Afghan National Security Forces and Australian Special Forces killed Mullah Dawood, a Taliban insurgent leader in central Uruzgan, on July 14, according to an Australian Defence media release published Monday.

India likely to get role in Afghan military affairs

June 22, 2010

Sikander Shaheen

ISLAMABAD – The ongoing row between the NATO forces and allied European countries regarding provisions of training for Afghan National Army is paving way for Indian ‘legalised’ presence in Afghanistan.

According to the information received from top representatives of the UN Afghanistan, a special delegation on behalf of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen landed in Kabul last week to discuss the situation with Afghan Government in the wake of reluctance of NATO’s European allies to cooperate any further in Afghanistan. Sources say that Indian diplomats were equally involved in these deliberations and the contractors of ‘private security sector,’ presumably the notorious Blackwater, were also present who are likely to be assigned a major role in Afghanistan’s military affairs in collusion with India. The award of lucrative $120 million to Blackwater in Afghanistan by the US Department of State is seen a pertinent move in this regard. The dwindling chances of training of Afghan forces by the European states are to blur further thus giving India all the needed justifications to ‘serve’ in Afghanistan.

The key European countries including the UK and Netherlands have refused to send further troops in Afghanistan. British Premier David Cameron announced earlier this month that the UK did not intend to amass any more British soldiers in Afghanistan while the political atmosphere in Netherlands ‘overcharged’ when the country’s coalition government collapsed last February following the reluctance of Dutch Parliament to give extension to Dutch troops in Afghanistan. Around 2500 Dutch soldiers are serving there, who are likely to pull out by the end of this year.

The only European country that committed to dispatch a ‘peanut’ amount of 80 trainers to Afghanistan in February this year was France. Still, it is not clear if the French trainers have landed in Afghanistan.

The target of International Security Assistance Force to train 134,000 and 171,600 troops of Afghan National Army by October 2010 and 2011 respectively seems to be a far-fetched notion. Likewise, training 80,000 Afghan policemen this year and those of over 100,000 in 2011, as decided in London Conference on Afghanistan, also sounds nothing more than a far cry.

Pertinent quarters say that at least 5000 to 7000 trainers are needed to train the Afghan National Army and Police but complete non-cooperation shown by Western European allies is adding to frustration for American camp.

With the pressure building on Pakistan to launch military offensive in North Waziristan, India is digging its ground to come out of its covert embryo and ‘ legally’ present itself in Afghanistan.

The real story behind Petraeus’s collapse

June 17, 2010

By Malou Innocent

To most people who follow developments in Afghanistan, it was clear that building a viable Afghan state would take more troops, more money, and more patience than the United States and its international partners could ever commit. These long-standing reservations were only intensified last November, when U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans for a 30,000-troop surge that would not only pacify population centers and train Afghan security forces, but also begin to wind down by July 2011-within 18 months of escalation.

But at a Senate hearing yesterday (before U.S. CENTCOM commander General David Petraeus passed out from dehydration), it became glaringly obvious that “success,” if it’s even still achievable, will take far longer than July 2011. Under intense questioning from both Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain, Gen. Petraeus explained that the drawdown would be based on conditions at the time, adding, “In a perfect world, Mr. Chairman, we have to be very careful with timelines.” (It’s not as if Gen. Petraeus promised the president that he can “train and hand over” the fight to Afghan security forces before next summer… Oh wait, he did.)

Indeed, earlier this year, military leaders hoped to have two successes to put before the White House for review: Kandahar and Marjah. Operations in Kandahar, a key Taliban stronghold, have been delayed until autumn. In Marjah, a village of roughly 80,000, in the southern province of Helmand, results are mixed.

On the eve of the offensive in Marjah, the coalition’s largest military operation since the invasion, U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said, “This is all a war of perceptions.” In keeping with that logic, Marjah was hailed as an exemplar of population-centric counterinsurgency, a successful offensive that would be ceaselessly repeated in the media and used as a prop to retain public support for the war. Before the February offensive, the Taliban had been collecting taxes, providing policing and a rudimentary court system, and protecting the opium economy that many residents relied on. After the offensive, Afghanistan-based journalist Anand Gopal found that many residents despised the Afghan police at least as much as the Taliban. Worse, after the coalition cleared the area, there was no judicial system in place to jail suspected Taliban insurgents. With summer approaching, NATO forces-not Afghan troops -still control much of Marjah.

Marjah shined a harsh light on the Afghan National Army (ANA)-the entity that is supposed to take over responsibility for security and allow U.S. forces begin to come home. Despite being one of the war’s very few success stories, a report released last month by the International Crisis Group (ICG) found that ANA training has prioritized quantity over quality. “Kabul powerbrokers are distributing the spoils of increased NATO spending on army development among their constituents in the officer corps, fuelling ethnic and political factionalism within the army ranks,” the report said.

One retired military officer told the ICG: “From the lower officers upward, it is not a national army. It is a political army. You have people working for different factions within the ministry of defense, so today what you have is an army that serves individuals not the nation.”

These developments do not bode well for the coalition’s strategy. In this respect, the Obama administration’s overly ambitious policies do more than needlessly inflate Afghan expectations; they severely erode America reputation in globally. Promising to “end the tragic conflict in Afghanistan and promote national reconciliation, lasting peace, stability and respect for human rights in the country” is absurd. Promising to do so according to an 18-month timetable is laughable. Afghanistan has been in continuous war since the 1970s. Americans should recognize that the Obama-McChrystal-Petraeus strategy grossly overestimates America’s power to spread wealth and stability, and demand a new set of goals that will allow the United States to bring this long war to a swift end.

Malou Innocent is a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute. She recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan.

The Shangri-la dialogue

June 10, 2010

By Ikram Sehgal

Defence personnel tend to be taciturn. Once in a while one is privileged to listen to uninhibited exchanges of views, the Annual IISS (International Institute of Strategic Studies) Summit in Singapore being one such event. Senior national security officials in the region often use the occasion to enunciate fresh thinking about relevant security issues. The Asia-Pacific Security Summit, or the “Shangri-La Dialogue,” is named after the hotel where it is held every year.

As was expected, the South Korean president used his plenary address to condemn North Korea for the unwarranted and devastating torpedo attack that destroyed the naval vessel Cheonan and cost the lives of 46 sailors. Attending his fourth consecutive “Shangri-La Dialogue,” US defence secretary Robert Gates said that the US was a Pacific nation deeply committed to contributing to both individual and collective security to ensure peace and prosperity in the region.

He condemned North Korea strongly for the surprise attack on the South Korean naval vessel, adding that such unwarranted, irrational behaviour could not go without severe censure and/or meaningful reprimand to go with enforceable sanctions. The US defence secretary called on China (and other nations having some say with North Korea) to restrain such rogue actions from threatening regional peace and, given North Korea’s crude nuclear capability, even world peace.

Read the rest of this entry »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 129 other followers