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“Increased Army Will Achieve Nothing” Says J&K CM

In J&K increased security is of no use

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"Increased Army Will Achieve Nothing" Says J&K CM, Flickr

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday said the trend of more youths joining army will achieve nothing except increased footprints of the security forces in the state.

Addressing a convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) here, Mehbooba reacted to reports of more young people joining militant ranks.

“The increase in the number of youths picking up the gun will increase the presence of Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the police.

military men
Military men, Pixabay

“More the situation improves, the more we can ask the Army, the CRPF and the police to reduce their footprints (in Kashmir)”, the Chief Minister said.

Condemning the recent grenade attacks by militants in the Valley, she said: “Despite ceasefire, there are grenade attacks. They do not see that civilians are getting killed, they do not see that Army or CRPF jawans have come from far flung areas for their bread and butter. What will this achieve?

“There have been thousands of grenade attacks till now, thousands have picked up guns and become militants, but what has been achieved?” she asked.

She said through peaceful means the People’s Democratic Party had been able to persuade the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkote roads.

Indian para commandos
Indian para commandos, Representational image, (Wikimedia Commons)

“If the situation improves, I promise you that we will open more such routes.”

Mehbooba made a fervent appeal to Kashmiri separatists to come forward for talks and save the state from further bloodshed and reminded them that the announcement of ceasefire by the Indian government was a step that cannot be expected always.

She said the problem can only be resolved thorough dialogue.

“This time there is an offer of dialogue from the Centre. I request all stakeholders to come forward to save Kashmir.”

Mehbooba said it was for the separatists to decide whether the youths of Kashmir should come out of the culture of stones and guns.

Also read: Pakistan army violates ceasefire at LOC in Rajouri

She also appealed to New Delhi and Islamabad to start the dialogue process in order to improve the situation since Jammu and Kashmir bears the brunt of strained relations between the two countries. (IANS)

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U.S. Military Officials, Come Up With A New Strategy Over Unfavorable Data

"Obviously, we haven't kicked the terrorists out if they're still blowing things up and we're negotiating with them. That strategic goal has now changed."

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National Army
Afghan National Army soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint on the Jalalabad-Kabul road, on the outskirts of Kabul, April 28, 2019. VOA

A decision by U.S. military officials in Afghanistan to stop tracking the amount of territory controlled by the Taliban is sparking an increasingly tense showdown with the watchdog overseeing reconstruction efforts.

The so-called district-level stability assessments, which measure the number of the country’s districts under government or insurgent control or influence, have been one of the most widely cited indicators of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

But the assessments are missing from the quarterly report issued Wednesday by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the first time the report has failed to include the data since 2015.

In a letter to SIGAR in March, the U.S.-commanded Resolute Support mission said the information had been dropped because it was “of limited decision-making value.”

Ending data collection

A spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Col. David Butler, further defended the decision to stop collecting the data Wednesday.

“The district stability assessment that was previously provided by (the Department of Defense) was redundant and did little to serve our mission of protecting our citizens and allies,” he said, adding, “the intelligence community produces a district stability assessment which is available to SIGAR.”

Only SIGAR, which has expressed growing alarm about the amount of information that is no longer being collected or which has been unnecessarily classified, said this is the first time military officials have raised such concerns.

“SIGAR has always gotten the district assessments from the RS (Resolute Support) command, not from the intelligence community,” SIGAR spokesman Philip LaVelle told VOA, via email.

“When RS provided their formal response to our data call on this issue, they made no mention of it being discontinued because it’s ‘redundant’ and no indication of it being made available to us from the intelligence community,” he added.

Intelligence officials contacted by VOA are looking into whether the information is being collected and might be available to SIGAR.

But the assertion such data is collected would appear to contradict the letter Resolute Support sent SIGAR in March.

“District stability data has not been collected since the October 22, 2018 data submitted last quarter,” Resolute Support wrote. “There are no products at command or other forums that communicate district stability or control information.”

FILE - Soldiers attached to the 101st Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, Iowa National Guard and 10th Mountain, 2-14 Infantry Battalion load onto a Chinook helicopter to head out on a mission in Afghanistan, Jan. 15, 2019.
Soldiers attached to the 101st Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, Iowa National Guard and 10th Mountain, 2-14 Infantry Battalion load onto a Chinook helicopter to head out on a mission in Afghanistan, Jan. 15, 2019. VOA

Loss of data

In a statement accompanying the report’s release, SIGAR decried the loss of the data.

“Despite its limitations, the control data was the only unclassified metric provided by (Resolute Support) that consistently tracked changes to the security situation on the ground,” it said.

SIGAR also noted that previous commanders of the Resolute Support mission “had previously cited its importance in public statements.”

The U.S.-led mission’s decision to eliminate the stability assessments comes after successive reports showed the Afghan government’s control of the country falling to record lows.

In its November 2018 report, SIGAR said the Afghan government controlled or influenced only 56 percent of the country’s districts, at the time the lowest level recorded since the watchdog began tracking district control in November 2015.

In SIGAR’s subsequent report, issued this past January, that number had slipped to less than 54 percent, as the Afghan government lost seven districts to the Taliban.

According to some, the figures suggest U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy for Afghanistan, meant to increase pressure on the Taliban and force them to negotiate an end to decades of fighting, is not having the level of success claimed by administration officials.

FILE - An Afghan man rides on a bicycle past the site of a car bomb attack where U.S soldiers were killed near Bagram air base, Afghanistan, April 9, 2019.
An Afghan man rides on a bicycle past the site of a car bomb attack where U.S soldiers were killed near Bagram air base, Afghanistan, April 9, 2019. VOA

Concerning data

Other data collected for the latest SIGAR report also show reason for concern.

The average number of attacks initiated by the Taliban jumped 19 percent for the three-month period ending in January. The number of casualties suffered by Afghan forces were 31 percent higher than compared to the same period last year.

The report found Afghan civilian casualties were also up, increasing 5 percent from 2017 to almost 11,000, while the number of civilians deaths jumped 11 percent, to more than 3,800.

“Ultimately, I don’t think we’ve met all of our strategic goals there,” U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko told reporters last week, ahead of the report’s release.

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“We were going to get the terrorists out and create a government that could keep the terrorists out,” he said. “Obviously, we haven’t kicked the terrorists out if they’re still blowing things up and we’re negotiating with them. That strategic goal has now changed.”

Sopko also raised concerns that increasing amounts of information about U.S. difficulties or failures in Afghanistan is being hidden from the public.

“What we are finding now is almost every indicia, metrics, however you want to phrase it, for success or failure is now classified or non-existent,” he said.

“The Afghan people obviously know which districts are controlled by the Taliban. The Taliban obviously know which districts they control. Our military knows it. Everybody in Afghanistan knows it,” he said. “The only people who don’t know what is going on are the people who are paying for all of this, and that’s the American taxpayer.” (VOA)