October 21, 2011


[The Haqqani network uses Pakistan’s tribal areas as a base and has become the most potent part of the insurgency in Afghanistan. Before stepping down last month, Adm. Mike Mullen, General Dempsey’s predecessor, called the Haqqanis “a veritable arm” of Pakistan’s intelligence service.]


By Steven Lee Myers
Pool photo by Kevin Lamarque
 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking
in Kabul on Thursday, warned leaders of Pakistan they
would face serious consequences if they continued to
tolerate safe havens for extremist organizations.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An unusually powerful American delegation arrived here on Thursday to deliver the starkest warning yet to Pakistan, according to a senior American official: that the United States would act unilaterally if necessary to attack extremist groups that use the country as a haven to kill Americans.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; David H. Petraeus, the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency; and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, planned to push their Pakistani counterparts to make a definitive choice between fighting terrorists or supporting them, the administration official said.
“This is a time for clarity,” Mrs. Clinton declared in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she met President Hamid Karzai before leaving for Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. “No one should be in any way mistaken about allowing this to continue without paying a very big price.”
“There’s no place to go any longer,” Mrs. Clinton added, referring to Pakistan’s leaders, whom the administration has accused of equivocating by supporting the Afghan insurgency.
The American and Pakistani officials, who included the chief of the military, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and the director general of the intelligence service, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, met for four hours, ending after 2 a.m. A senior administration official said afterward that the two sides had agreed to keep talking on Friday and did not want to comment in the meantime. Mr. Petraeus met separately with General Pasha, a Pakistani official said.
Earlier, another senior Pakistani official said that Mrs. Clinton’s remarks in Kabul did not “enable the atmosphere.”
They did, however, underscore a growing American realization that hopes for a smooth withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014 now hinged on Pakistan’s willingness to confront insurgent groups based in the country who have had the support of Pakistan’s intelligence service.
Before the meeting, which took place at the residence of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, a senior administration official said that the delegation would make it clear that if the Pakistanis did not act against insurgents like the Haqqani network, then the United States would have to.
The Haqqani network uses Pakistan’s tribal areas as a base and has become the most potent part of the insurgency in Afghanistan. Before stepping down last month, Adm. Mike Mullen, General Dempsey’s predecessor, called the Haqqanis “a veritable arm” of Pakistan’s intelligence service.
The public accusation added to tensions in America’s relationship with Pakistan, which plummeted to a new low this year as Pakistan arrested a C.I.A. contractor and American commandoes killed Osama bin Laden deep inside the country in May.
The Obama administration decided to take a harder line with Pakistan in a meeting at the White House on Sept. 29 in the wake of a 19-hour assault on the American Embassy in Kabul by heavily armed insurgents linked to the Haqqani network.
The senior administration official said that the administration’s previous efforts to press the Pakistanis to sever support for extremists had clearly failed and now required a more confrontational approach. “Soft love hasn’t worked,” the official said.
Pakistan’s response remains to be seen. In recent weeks, Pakistani officials have sent conflicting signals, both publicly and privately. Prime Minister Gilani greeted the American delegation warmly, in contrast to a tense meeting with Mrs. Clinton and Admiral Mullen in May after the raid that killed Bin Laden. Pakistan’s foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, also attended the meetings and dinner.
But General Kayani and General Pasha hold different views from the Americans on how the war in Afghanistan should end and what kind of Afghanistan they would like to see after the American withdrawal.
The Pakistani officials said that they wanted to see if the American delegation would present a unified front, especially on the true extent of America’s support for reconciliation with opponents of Mr. Karzai’s government in Kabul. Some Pakistani military officers appeared to have given up on having anything but the most limited of relationships with the United States, and were resigned to deep cuts in American aid, given declining support in Congress.
Meeting with Mr. Karzai in Kabul, Mrs. Clinton said that Pakistan could “either be helping or hindering” efforts to find both a military and a political resolution to the war here.
“We will be delivering a very clear message to the government of Pakistan and to the people of Pakistan because they, too, have suffered,” she said, beneath a canopy of trees at the presidential palace in Afghanistan’s capital. “They have suffered at the hand of the same kind of terrorists. So there should be no support and no safe haven anywhere for people who kill innocent men, women and children.”
Mr. Karzai, who has repeatedly accused Pakistan of interference in Afghanistan, echoed her remarks, saying that Pakistan had long harbored enemies of his government, including the Taliban, whose leadership fled to Pakistan after the American invasion in 2001.
While the Obama administration has pressed Afghanistan to seek reconciliation with some elements of the Taliban, Mr. Karzai said Thursday that that would not be possible without Pakistan’s positive involvement.
“We believe that the Taliban to a very, very great extent — to a very, very great extent — are controlled by establishments in Pakistan, stay in Pakistan, have their headquarters in Pakistan, launch attacks from Pakistan,” he said.
Tentative and still fruitless efforts to lure the Taliban into a peace process were dealt a severe setback when a man claiming to be a peace envoy killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, the leader of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council and a former president, using a bomb hidden in his turban.
That attack, shortly after the carefully planned attack on the American Embassy last month, raised doubts about whether the Taliban were interested in a peace agreement at all. It also raised suspicions among the Afghans of Pakistan’s involvement.
Mrs. Clinton met Mr. Rabbani’s son, Salahuddin, at a meeting with Afghan lawmakers, officials and advocates at the American Embassy in Kabul on Thursday morning, expressing her condolences even as she encouraged a continuation of the efforts his father began. “He was a brave man, trying to do the right thing,” she told him.
“We will make sure we continue his vision,” Mr. Rabbani replied.
Jane Perlez contributed reporting from Islamabad, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.

@ The New York Times 



[The secret of Bombay (excuse me for not saying “Mumbai”) is its people, so the best thing to do there is hang out with friends. As to favorite places, I used to meet the late, great poet Arun Kolatkar at the Wayside Inn in Kala Ghoda, a marvelous spot.]

By Shivani Vora
The author, who was a guest at the Pierre’s recent Diwali party, agreed to answer a few questions before the event about his connection to Mumbai, his time on Twitter and the state of Indian fiction today.
You’ve agreed to read an excerpt of a new book about the history of the Taj hotel in Mumbai. What connection do you have to the hotel?
I’m a Bombay boy, so my connection to the Taj is life long. I went there as a boy with my parents, and as an adult I’ve taken my own family to stay there a number of times, and in general have always made a beeline for it when in Bombay.
Have you visited Mumbai since the 2008 terror attacks? In your view, how has life in the city changed since?
Yes, I have. There’s much more security, around places like the Taj and other hotels, of course, and yet there isn’t much of a feeling that the city’s defenses have been improved.
What’s your favorite pastime or place in Mumbai?
The secret of Bombay (excuse me for not saying “Mumbai”) is its people, so the best thing to do there is hang out with friends. As to favorite places, I used to meet the late, great poet Arun Kolatkar at the Wayside Inn in Kala Ghoda, a marvelous spot.
And I have a nostalgic soft spot for the Old Woman’s Shoe in the Kamala Nehru Park on Malabar Hill: my childhood playground.
Do you celebrate Diwali in any way?
I am not a member of any religion and no, I don’t celebrate Diwali, though I like seeing the lights.
You’ve become very active on Twitter. Why did you sign up? How do you like it?
I was persuaded to try it by friends and am finding it enjoyable. And it doesn’t take up too much of one’s time.
What do you think about the current state of Indian fiction in English?
No idea, really.
Have you read anything by Chetan Bhagat?
Filming for Midnight’s Children is wrapping up. How do you think the film turned out? How was the movie making process for you?
The film is still in post-production and superstition prevents me from saying much about unfinished work. I hope it will turn out well. We’re certainly doing our best.
There was some talk of you attending a Kashmir literary festival that has since been cancelled. Were you actually going to participate or was it a rumor?
Never invited. Knew nothing about it.
There’s been a surge away from the Big Indian Novel that spans decades and generations, towards non-fiction with Hinglish voices and unheroic main characters. What does it say about India that this is happening now?
Literature has fashions like everything else and nonfiction is “in” everywhere right now. India’s not alone in this.
@ The New York Times, India Ink