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NightWatch 20111003

NightWatch

For the night of 3 October 2011

India: Air Chief Marshal Browne, the Chief of Air Staff, told Indo-Asian News Service that India's responsibility extends outside the Indian Ocean region and India's armed forces were building capabilities to meet security challenges beyond 2022.

Comment: Indian excursions outside the Indian Ocean, such as those to East Asia, plus its involvement in anti-piracy operations in the western Indian Ocean are measured steps that prepare India for a larger international role. The significance of Air Chief Marshal Browne's statement is that it identifies India's target time period for emergence as a world leader in international security affairs. That means the strategic confrontation with China over leadership in Asia will take place after 2022.

ACM Browne is a graduate of the USAF Air Command and Staff College. He assumed his present position on 31 July 2011. He is a fighter pilot and former Defence Attache to Israel.

Pakistan-Afghanistan: Haqqani syndicate leader Sirajuddin Haqqani denied his group was responsible for the murder of Afghan High Peace Council chief Burhanuddin Rabbani, according to the BBC.

Haqqani also said the Afghan Taliban executed the attacks on the US embassy, NATO headquarters and other incidents in Kabul, acting as a military council, not as individuals. Haqqani pledged allegiance to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and claimed the Taliban provides all the planning, execution orders and financial resources for the Haqqani network.

Haqqani denied any connection to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, claiming that since the US "invasion," no foreign intelligence agency has been helpful. He said Washington and the intelligence agencies of Islamic and non-Islamic countries have contacted the militant group to encourage it to cease its violence and enter negotiations with the Afghan government.

Comment: Even in denials, Haqqani is serving his Pakistani intelligence handlers by trying to shift international focus to Omar and the Quetta/Karachi shura. Pakistan's interest lies in keeping media attention focused on Kabul, not Islamabad. The fact is that Omar and his acolytes had no control of Haqqani's fighters and other groups when the Taliban sat in Kabul. They griped about groups that would not follow Omar's orders or would negotiate over them.

The anti-Kabul fighting groups have been skillful in maintaining the narrative that they do not rely on Pakistan. That is, of course, a complete fabrication. Their presence in the major cities of Pakistan belies the narrative, though many international news agencies fail to appreciate the implications.

Pakistan has at least five internal security agencies, civilian and military, other than the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. News agencies seldom even mention the primary agencies for combatting organized crime and subversion, which are civilian. They are not incompetent. Thus, Omar could not run a bakery, much less an insurgency, in Quetta without Pakistani official permission and support from multiple levels of government, including the ward, district, municipal, provincial and the national level. The same is true of Haqqani and Hekmatyar who operate in the Peshawar area.

The narrative protects Pakistan. For Pakistan, support to proxies, as in Kashmir, has been a staple of national security policy in coping with India's superior numbers, long before Afghanistan was a problem. Likewise it remains in Pakistan's interest to deny its use of terror as a component of state policy. It is part of the operational code that has heretofore helped ensure Pakistan's survival. It is in danger of backfiring.

Egypt: An alliance of 34 political parties in Egypt accepted concessions on election rules offered by the military, Reuters reported on 2 October. The parties said that although they dropped the boycott threat, they would continue pressing for other demands to be met. They want the state of emergency to end and all remnants of President Hosni Mubarak's regime to be barred from political life.

Comment: The Egyptian military leadership is as wishy-washy as any on earth, easily intimidated by popular groups. They may not be depended on to prevent the emergence of an Islamist anti-Israel government in Cairo, through elections.

End of NightWatch for 3 October.

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