Shaila’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘war

Taliban militants have extended their grip in northwestern Pakistan, pushing out from a valley where the government has agreed to impose Islamic law and patrolling villages as close as 60 miles from the capital.

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Police and officials appear to have fled as armed militants also broadcast radio sermons and spread fear in Buner district, just 60 miles from Islamabad, officials and witnesses said Wednesday.

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The fall of the district, Buner, did not mean that the Taliban could imminently threaten Islamabad. But it was another indication of the gathering strength of the insurgency and it raised new alarm about the ability of the government to fend off an unrelenting Taliban advance toward the heart of Pakistan.

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In recent days, the Swat militants have set their sights on Buner, a district just south of the valley, sparking at least one major clash with residents. The moves indicate the militants want to expand their presence beyond Swat to other parts of Malakand at the very least, under the guise of enforcing Islamic law.

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Many in Buner are now too frightened to speak to reporters. However, a lawmaker from the area told The Associated Press that the militants had entered the district in “large numbers” and started setting up checkpoints at main roads and strategic positions.

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Critics, including in Washington, have warned that the valley could become an officially sanctioned base for allies of al-Qaida — and that it may be just the first domino in nuclear-armed Pakistan to fall to the Taliban.

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Pakistan Nuclear Missiles Beging Guarded by PAK Army

The U.S. has been keeping a watchful eye on Pakistan’s nukes since it first detonated a series of devices a decade ago.

“Pakistan has taken important steps to safeguard its nuclear weapons, although vulnerabilities still exist,” Army General Michael Maples, chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month. Then, he immediately turned to the threat posed by al-Qaeda, which, along with the Taliban, is sowing unrest in Pakistan.

“Al-Qaeda continues efforts to acquire chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials,” he said, “and would not hesitate to use such weapons if the group develops sufficient capabilities.”

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Nowhere in the world is the gap between would-be terror-martyrs and the nuclear weapons they crave as small as it is in Pakistan.

Nor is their much comfort in the fact that Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal who was recently ordered freed from house arrest by the country’s supreme court, was the Johnny Appleseed of nuclear proliferation, dispatching the atomic genie to Iran, Libya and North Korea. But U.S. and Pakistani officials insist it is important to separate Pakistan’s poor proliferation record with what is, by all accounts, a modern and multilayered system designed to protect its nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands.

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The Russian Navy or VMFR (Russian: Военно-Морской Флот (ВМФ) России- Voyenno-Morskoy Flot Rossii (VMF) or literally Military Maritime Fleet of the Russian Federation) is the naval arm of the Russian Armed Forces. The international designation of Russian naval vessels is “RFS” – “Russian Federation Ship”.

The Russian Navy possesses the vast majority of the former Soviet naval forces and currently comprises the Northern Fleet, the Russian Pacific Fleet, the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Russian Baltic Fleet, the Russian Caspian Flotilla, Naval Aviation, Naval Infantry (marines) and coastal artillery.

Broadly speaking, the navy’s role is to provide sea-based nuclear deterrence and to support Russia’s wider interests. Roughly one-third of naval personnel serve on the high seas, with other concerns being naval aviation, training, coastal defence, shore support, communications and maritime border duties.


While the SSBN fleet is contracting – perhaps to a force of 25-30 vessels – there is considerable effort in developing the SSN fleet, with the `Akula II’ and Severodvinsk classes replacing dated `Victor I’ and `II’ class submarines. The construction of surface vessels, by contrast, is slow and largely limited to smaller combatants, notably the Neustrashimy class frigate and Sovremenny II destroyer.


There is a realisation among Russian policy makers of the need to maintain a credible naval capability. Speaking in November 1999 Prime Minister Putin announced that a decree on the modernisation of the fleet was to be drafted and that the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was to be deployed to the Mediterranean in 2000. This marks a pattern of increasing Russian naval activity that has seen attack submarines operate in the Cold War stamping grounds of the Mediterranean and Eastern Pacific, carrying out simulated attacks on US naval forces. According to senior US intelligence analysts the Russian Navy is operating in a manner very similar to that of the Soviet fleet during the Cold War. Crucially however, Russian naval strength has seriously declined, with only 20 first class attack submarines in operating condition.


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