Special Reminder for the Meditation Focus #54

Maintaining Peace Between India and Pakistan


Hello

The following is a reminder for the Meditation Focus #54 "Maintaining Peace Between India and Pakistan", sent now because the threat of war has significantly grown over the past week as indicated in the complementary information provided below.

1. Summary
2. More details on the tense situation between India and Pakistan
3. Peace Watch for the Middle East
4. Update on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan - Now looking much better!




1. SUMMARY

Despite the repeated claims by both Indian and Pakistani political leaders that they do not wish to go to war, their military actions betrays a steadfast determination to prepare for just that possibility, with even some of their respective nuclear missile arsenals being moved into striking position. As deep-seated mutual distrust and prideful egos seem to dominate the political scene, it is more important than ever that cooler heads and loving hearts prevail. Precipitated in part by the relentlessly agressive pursuit of terrorists from the Al-Qaida network worldwide by the Bush administration setting an example that India is using as a justification to pursue with the same self-righteousness the terrorist organization that struck at the heart of India's parliamentary life last December 13, this crisis could also become an opportunity for permanently and peacefully resolving the long-standing dispute between India and Pakistan over the control of the province of Kashmir. Despite all the prejudiced views that each side holds against the other in this conflict, some of them inflated by their differing religious beliefs, they should all realize, as is the case in so many other violent conflicts on Earth, that there is so much more to be gained from cooperating with each other to resolve their dispute than there is in fighting each other, especially with the unthinkable spectre of a nuclear exchange that would leave millions dead, millions more incapacitated and dying, and untold suffering for the survivors, not to mention a precipitous slip-back into a radioactive Stone Age.

Please remember to dedicate a moment in your prayers and meditations this week and during the coming weeks to channel healing vibrations of Peace, Love and Harmony towards this area of our world so that not only all violence and the threat of war subside, but also that a peaceful, cooperative solution is found to the Kashmiri problem, for the Highest Good of All.

To review the material already emailed over a week ago for this Meditation Focus #54 please go at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus54.htm




2. MORE DETAILS ON THE TENSE SITUATION BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN

This section is for those who wish to understand in more details the situation pertaining to the current Meditation Focus. We encourage you to view the following information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision you wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mindset, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of healing. The details below are provided because we recognise that the knowledge of what needs healing can assist us to structure our awareness to maximise our healing effect.


December 31, 2001

India, Pakistan prepare for war

By Bill Gertz

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Pakistan and India are readying their military forces including their ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons for war, The Washington Times has learned.

U.S. intelligence officials say Pakistani military moves include large-scale troop movements, the dispersal of fighter aircraft and preparations for the transportation of nuclear weapons from storage sites.

India also is moving thousands of its troops near the border with Pakistan and has dispersed some aircraft to safer sites away from border airfields, say officials familiar with intelligence reports of the war moves.

Pakistan is moving the equivalent of two armored brigades, several thousand troops and hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles near the northern part of its border with India.

Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged heavy mortar fire over their border in southern Kashmir today, Agence France-Presse reported. Five Indian soldiers were seriously injured in the heaviest shelling in four months, a senior Indian army official said.

More than 1,000 villagers were evacuated from their homes overnight for the operation, according to the report.

Officials say the most alarming signs are preparations in both states for the use of nuclear-tipped missiles. Intelligence agencies have learned of indications that India is getting its short-range Prithvi ballistic missiles ready for use. The missiles are within range of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. Meanwhile, Pakistan is mobilizing its Chinese-made mobile M-11 missiles, also known as the Shaheen, which have been readied for movement from a base near Sargodha, Pakistan.

Intelligence reports indicate that India will have all its forces ready to launch an attack as early as this week, with Thursday or Friday as possible dates. Pakistan could launch its forces before those dates in a pre-emptive strike.

Disclosure of the war preparations comes as President Bush on Saturday telephoned leaders of both nations, urging them to calm tensions, a sign of administration concern over the military moves in the region. The administration also fears that a conflict between India and Pakistan would undermine U.S. efforts to find terrorists in Afghanistan.

U.S. military forces are heavily reliant on Pakistani government permission to conduct overflights for bombing and other aircraft operations into Afghanistan, primarily from aircraft carriers located in the Arabian Sea.

With tensions growing between the states, U.S. intelligence officials are divided over the ultimate meaning of the indicators of an impending conflict. The Pentagon's Joint Staff intelligence division, known as J-2, late last week had assessed the danger of conflict at "critical" levels.

Other joint intelligence centers outside the Pentagon, including those supporting the U.S. military forces responsible for the Asia-Pacific region and for Southwest Asia, assess the danger of an India-Pakistan war as less than critical but still "serious."

Intelligence officials are especially worried about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal because control over the weapons is decentralized. Even before the latest moves, regional commanders could order the use of the weapons, which are based on missiles or fighter-bombers.

The Prithvi has a range of about 155 miles, and the Indians are estimated to have some 75 Prithvis in their arsenal. They also are working on longer-range Agni missiles.

U.S. intelligence officials believe India has about 60 nuclear weapons that can be delivered by missiles or aircraft. Its nuclear-capable aircraft include Russian-made bombers, including 10 Tu-142 Bears and four Tu-22M Backfires, as well as several hundred MiG-27, MiG-29 and Su-30 fighter-bombers.

Pakistan's missile force consists of some 50 M-11s, which have a range of about 186 miles, enough to hit the Indian capital of New Delhi. Its medium-range Ghauri missiles have a range of about 800 miles, enough to hit most parts of India.

U.S. intelligence agencies have obtained reconnaissance photographs from one Pakistani missile base that show storage-shed doors open in preparation for the movement of missiles. One of the photographs shows a line of 47 rail cars on a track near the base in preparation for the movement of missiles and their warheads.

The private Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that Islamabad has between 24 and 48 nuclear weapons.

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From: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20011231/ts/india_pakistan_77.html

Monday December 31

India Encouraged by Pakistan Arrest

NEW DELHI, India (AP) - India called Pakistan's arrest of a top Islamic militant a "step forward'' Monday but demanded 20 more suspects be jailed. Islamabad said it was now up to New Delhi to end the dangerous standoff and avoid war between the South Asian nuclear rivals.

The arrest of Hafiz Saeed in Islamabad on Sunday was Pakistan's most significant move to ease tensions since the Dec. 13 suicide attack on India's Parliament. It also came at a pivotal moment in the crisis between the two countries, which have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947.

"If the information is confirmed, it's a step forward in the right direction,'' said Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh. "We want Pakistan to pursue it vigorously until cross-border terrorism is eliminated.''

India says Saeed, who resigned last week as leader of the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, plotted the Parliament attack in which 14 people were killed, including five militants whom New Delhi claims were Pakistanis.

Saeed faces charges of making inflammatory speeches and inciting violence, said Aziz Ahmed Khan, a spokesman for Pakistan's foreign ministry.

Khan said Islamabad would continue diplomatic efforts to end the showdown, which prompted the heavily armed neighbors to move tens of thousands of troops to their border in the largest military buildup since the two countries last went to war, in 1971.

"The ball is India's court,'' Khan said. "If the war is thrust on Pakistan, its armed forces and people would retaliate.''

Police in New Delhi, meanwhile, tightened security after the arrest Sunday of a Muslim militant who allegedly planned to set off explosives on New Year's Eve. Mohammad Yunus, suspected of undergoing training with Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, was caught with 11 pounds of explosives at a crowded New Delhi bus terminal, the United News of India news agency reported.

Yunus confessed he was under orders from militant leaders based in Pakistan to detonate the bomb on New Year's Eve, the news agency quoted Deputy Commissioner of Police Ashok Chand as saying.

India accuses Pakistan's spy agency of sponsoring the Parliament attack, and claims Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and another Pakistan-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, orchestrated it. Pakistan says India has not proved its involvement and claims the charge was fabricated to malign the secessionist movement in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Both countries tested nuclear weapons in 1998, raising the stakes in their long-standing rivalry. Islamabad and New Delhi say, however, they are determined to keep this confrontation from escalating into nuclear war.

India on Monday delivered to the Pakistan High Commission a list with the names of 20 suspected terrorists New Delhi wants handed over for questioning. India set no deadline but wanted action "as soon as possible,'' said foreign ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao.

Cross-border shelling continued, meanwhile, killing three Indian soldiers - one of whom died along with nine militants in an exchange near Srinagar, the summer capital of the part of Kashmir under Indian control. Three of the militants killed were Pakistanis, Police Inspector General K. Rajendra told The Associated Press.

The neighbors have fought two of their three wars over the mostly Muslim territory of Kashmir, which is divided between the two countries. Islamic militants have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or merger with Pakistan since 1989.

At least 30,000 have died in the insurgency, according to the Indian government. Human rights activists say the number of dead and missing is at least 60,000 and place blame for many deaths with Indian security forces.

President Bush has called the leaders of both countries to urge restraint, telling them the conflict could harm the U.S.-led fight against terrorism, now centered on Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has been deeply involved in the crisis as well, making a series of telephone calls over the weekend and on Monday, according to department spokesman Philip Reeker. Powell spoke three times with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Reeker said.

"We welcome efforts by India and Pakistan to defuse tensions,'' Reeker said. "Both countries have behaved responsibly.''

K. Subrahmanyam, a leading defense strategist for the Indian government, said war was not imminent. "The United States is in the neighborhood with all its military might,'' said Subrahmanyam. "They have no intention of allowing a war.''

Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were scheduled to travel to Nepal later in the week for a summit of South Asian leaders. Musharraf said he was willing to meet with Vajpayee on the sidelines of the Jan. 4-6 summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, but the Indian prime minister has so far declined.

Gen. Rashid Quereshi, spokesman for Pakistan's military-led government, said Saeed's arrest was part of "an ongoing process'' to curb violence and extremism and not in response to pressure from India.

Last week, Pakistan arrested Jaish-e-Mohammad's leader, Maulana Masood Azhar. The government said he remained in custody Monday. Meanwhile, 22 followers of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed were arrested in southern Pakistan overnight, said Tariq Jamil, deputy inspector general of police in port city of Karachi.

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From: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/30/weekinreview/30SCHM.html

Caution: This Weapon May Backfire

By SERGE SCHMEMANN

December 30, 2001

UNITED NATIONS - Israel and India have long suffered horrific terror attacks. But when they were struck again in recent weeks, they had a new precedent to follow, set by no less than the world's most powerful nation, as they considered how to respond. Following America's lead, and anticipating American support, each issued an ultimatum to the leaders of the land from which the Islamic militants came: crush the terrorists, or else.

It is unlikely that President Bush anticipated anything like this when he went before Congress on Sept. 20 and issued his ultimatum to the rulers of the land from which Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda had directed the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "The Taliban must act and act immediately," he declared then. "They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate."

It was a classic ultimatum, allowing the adversary to decide whether there would be war. If the Taliban handed over the evil-doers - admittedly a remote possibility by then - Washington would accomplish its goals without a fight. If the Taliban refused, the onus for the subsequent bloodletting would lie on its shoulders.

CLIP

In Israel, where the United States has always in the past urged restraint in the wake of suicide attacks, Washington now found no choice but to tell Israel it was free to take whatever measures it saw fit. That, in turn, freed the right-wing government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to do what he had long wanted to do, declaring Mr. Arafat unfit to negotiate with unless he eliminated Hamas. The form of the ultimatum was certain to make Mr. Arafat even more reluctant to take the requisite steps, and further shriveled any leverage the Americans had as a mediator in the conflict. The new American envoy to the Middle East, Anthony C. Zinni, was withdrawn, with no indication that officials in Washington had any more ideas up their sleeve.

In India, the government's response to a suicide attack on the Parliament on Dec. 13, in which seven Indians died, was to demand that Pakistan crack down on two Islamic organizations that act openly in Pakistan and Kashmir. That, in the context of Pakistan's current cooperation with the United States in Afghanistan, was effectively a demand that the United States put pressure on its partner. The ultimatum was accompanied by a steady military buildup on the Pakistani-Indian border.

Seeking to defuse the crisis, Washington added the two groups in question to the State Department's swelling list of terrorist organizations, and the Pakistani government strongly condemned them. But in the new climate, that was not enough for India. As Stephen Philip Cohen, an expert on the armies of the region, put it late last week: "The Indians are playing chicken. They're counting on the United States to jerk the steering wheel so the Pakistanis do swerve out of the path of an onrushing Indian vehicle."

The ultimatum left the Americans again stuck between a principle and an imperative. The United States needed Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, if it stood any chance of catching Al Qaeda's chieftains. But supporting the American operation was already a political risk for him, and taking action against domestic Islamic organizations under Indian or American pressure would be downright dangerous.

"The ultimatum against the Taliban was a good ultimatum," said Morton H. Halperin, director of policy planning in the Clinton administration and now a senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations. "The problem is that it's now being copied by other countries, which are making ultimatums which cannot be yielded to without losing power, and therefore runs the risk of unending conflict. What the Indians are trying to do, what Israel is doing, is to persuade Bush that their situation is no different from ours. How can we ask the Israelis or the Indians now to exercise restraint?

"That is the real danger here, that we feel obliged to give them a green light."

There is also a danger, some argue, in Americans preventing others from doing what Americans claim a right to do. "Our response has to be heavily influenced by steps we were right to take," said Michael Mandelbaum of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. "Israel and India are right to do something about terrorism. We have said we're waging a war against terrorism, and both countries are responding to terrorism."

Yet the critical attribute of a successful ultimatum is that all its consequences be anticipated. If it goes wrong, history will judge it only a foolish gamble. Or, as in the case of the ultimatum delivered in 1914, something much worse.

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http://www.pakobserver.com/december/25/article02.shtml

Islamabad, Shawal 9

Tuesday, December 25, 2001

Nobody is scared of the Indian bluff

Khalid Mahmood Ch

A careful reading of the Indian newspapers and discussions on Indian TV channels following the December 13 terrorist attack on the Parliament indicate that the Indian intelligentsia had taken a conscious decision to put pressure on Pakistan in order to defame the indigenous freedom struggle in Occupied Kashmir. The initial reports published in the Indian Press the very next day said, “though not confirmed, the attack on Parliament is certainly the work of Kashmiri militants fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir.” The Statesman on December 15 said, “anyone who feels that these terrorists came from Afghanistan or perhaps even from Chechnya must think again. The most probable suspect is Pakistan.” L K Advani in an exclusive interview to the Hindustan Times on December 21 said, “the decision to withdraw India’s High Commissioner in Islamabad had not been taken in haste. He said Pakistan had to pay for not acting against terrorist groups based there.” A mature and considered reaction of restraint displayed by Pakistan has, however, baffled the Indian think-tanks and strategic planners.

The genesis of Indian moves to embarrass General Musharraf stems from its frustration that Pakistan once again emerged as the front-line State in the US-led coalition fighting terrorism in Afghanistan. India was perturbed visibly over the promises of economic package to Pakistan coming from the US and the international donor agencies. The announcement of US$ one billion aid to Pakistan came as a bolt from the blue to the India. It caused swirls among the Indian circles that received it with a pinch of salt as was evident from the news reports from India. Its state-owned news agency, Press Trust of India (PTI) circulated a news analysis on the US move to extend economic aid to Pakistan. It maintained that the amount would be whiled away by Pakistan “in purchase of sophisticated arms, which is a matter of grave concern to India.”

Notwithstanding the principled stand taken by Pervez Musharraf regime to go along the international community against terrorism, the last few weeks have proved that the military regime in Pakistan deserved acclaim for not wasting time in joining the US coalition against terrorism. Given the ultimate routing of the Taliban regime from Afghanistan and the devastating loss to the country in the wake of heavy US bombing, one can just imagine what would have been the fate of Pakistan if it had stumbled to stay away from the UN resolutions calling for international resolve to eliminate terrorism from the globe. The policy has once again paid back in view of the war hysteria raised by India in the context of attack on its Parliament. Had Pakistan not been allied to America in its war in Afghanistan, its response to Indian moves would have certainly been not so balanced as has emerged now.

CLIP

As regards the latest Indian overtures, nobody in Pakistan is scared of the bluff, as ISI- bashing is a fashion for India. It is no secret that Indian lobbies have been trying vainly since the eruption of indigenous freedom movement in Indian held Kashmir in late 80s to prove that the Kashmiri people’s campaign for self-rule was sponsored by ISI. This prime security agency of Pakistan, ISI, is the usual scapegoat for anything that happens in India. Be it the transporters strike, a bomb blast or Veerappan gang or a plane hijack, everything is blamed on ISI. Indian media, both electronic and print have projected the ISI as the monster that is capable of triggering trail of events beyond the declared policies of the Government in Islamabad. India has adopted a harsh tone towards Pakistan and Atal Behari Vajpayee has declared that India would take action at its own but Pakistan is certainly neither Palestine nor Afghanistan. It is also not the year1971 when Pakistan was completely isolated. The balance of power in the form of troops, equipment and commitment to safeguard the national integrity by the Armed Forces of Pakistan has been tested by India at the battleground of Kargil. Pakistan is no easy prey to hegemonistic designs of India in the region. The cross section of political leaders in Pakistan may be divided on various issues but they are united on one issue, that is India versus Pakistan. This is the major defence of a nation that all its rank and file stand in unison to defend its sovereignty against any adventurism by the enemy. If common sense fails to guide India against any misadventure, time will prove that the people of Pakistan know how to teach the aggressor the lessons it needs to learn.

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SEE ALSO:

Indians, Pakistanis Take Train Home (Monday December 31)
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20011231/wl/india_pakistan_last_train_5.html
ABOARD THE SAMJHAUTA EXPRESS (AP) - Torn from family reunions, weddings and funerals, hundreds of Pakistanis and Indians caught the last train home Monday, cramming into extra carriages as their war-ready governments halted all public transportation across the tense border. CLIP "This is a great human tragedy," said Rehana Ali, an 18-year-old from Calcutta who arrived in Lahore last week to see her sister, but was forced to return to India early. 'This train connects divided families," she said. "`Millions of people are going to be affected." CLIP

Tensions with India rising by the hour, says Sattar (Dec 31, 2001)
http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/dec2001-daily/31-12-2001/main/main3.htm

FULL COVERAGE OF THE KASHMIR DISPUTE AT
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/World/Kashmir_Dispute/




3. PEACE WATCH FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

Here are some of the latest developments in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming weeks to help ensure that peace prevail there as well.

Arafat Says Palestinian State a Must for Stability (Reuters)
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20011231/wl/mideast_arafat_dc_2.html
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said Monday, 37 years after his Fatah movement launched a war on Israel, that a state for his people was fundamental to regional and international stability.

Arafat Promises Independence in 2002
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20011231/wl/israel_palestinians_2467.html
JERUSALEM (AP) - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat used his year-end speech Monday to promise his disheartened people a state in 2002, while thousands of his supporters took to the streets in a show of force.

Palestinians Vow Revenge After Six Killed in Gaza (Reuters)
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20011231/ts/mideast_dc_556.html
Israel's killing of six Palestinians in the Gaza Strip drew threats of revenge on Monday from militants defying President Yasser Arafat's call to halt attacks on Israelis.

Deadliest Year in Palestinian Territories Since 1967 War (OneWorld.net)
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/oneworld/20011231/wl/deadliest_year_in_palestinian_territories_since_1967_war_1.html
The year 2001 was the bloodiest for Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since Israel conquered those territories in the Six-Day War of 1967, according to a new report released Monday by the Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem.

FULL COVERAGE ON THE MIDDLE EAST AT
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/World/Middle_East_Peace_Process/

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ACTION SUGGESTED BY AN EARTH RAINBOW NETWORK SUBSCRIBER

CNN is taking a poll whether UN observers should be sent to Israel. Click onto the site below and vote "YES" as there is a need for UN observers in Israel and Palestine.

So far out of total votes polled 67% say NO! ACT NOW Please!!

http://home.netscape.com/ex/shak/international/packages/mideast/

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NEWS ON A NON-VIOLENT ACTION BY AN INTERNATIONAL GROUP OF PEACE ACTIVISTS

Date: Fri, 28 Dec 2001
From: LESLEY WHITING <lesleywhiting@yahoo.com>
Subject: Our International Group attacked at Erez (GAZA)

Dear friends,

Here is the account of our (attempted) visit to Gaza ...

INTERNATIONAL GROUP ATTACKED AT EREZ

[Erez] Ninety foreign civilians traveling on a solidarity visit to Gaza were blocked entry by the Israeli military at Erez today, after being processed and given initial permission to enter. The international group was comprised of American, Belgian, British, and French citizens.

Protesting the Israeli Army decision not to let the group enter Gaza, where they were scheduled to tour Gaza City, Khan Younis and Rafah, including the refugee camps, and meet with Dr. Haidar Abdel Shafi, Director of the Red Crescent, one half of the group decided to walk through Erez.

With hands up in the air the group proceeded to walk, but were met with a violent Israeli response. Soldiers began firing shots and then descended upon the group, punching the men and body-slamming the women. The internationals sat down to try to avoid injury, but to no avail. All of the personal cameras in the group were confiscated and a number of cameras were broken. Israeli soldiers also verbally threatened to shoot and kill all of the foreign civilians. Members of the group were then dragged and forcefully thrown onto their tour bus. Two French civilians were detained.

"We were going to Gaza to support the Palestinian people, and to conduct a fact-finding mission so as to present more objective information to the media and to our fellow patriots at home. We were also carrying with us humanitarian supplies for the people of Gaza. Expressing our right to freedom of movement, not just for ourselves, but also for the Palestinians who are kept caged in Gaza, we decided to cross the checkpoint in order to complete our visit. All of a sudden, shots were fired directly over our heads and we were descended upon by soldiers, who were punching, pushing and throwing us to the ground. We sat down to avoid their blows, but they kept hitting, kicking and pushing. When the soldiers noticed that we were filming the attack, they took and broke our cameras and confiscated our film. Finally, they started dragging us, one by one, and threw us on the bus, where we were kept under guard by Border Police. Many of us sustained injuries, including cuts and bruises, and at least three people require medical attention." (Statement by the international group)

The entire group will lodge formal complaints through their respective embassies. For more information, please contact Huwaida at 052-642-709 or Samir 055-385-257.




4. UPDATE ON THE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN

http://www.truthout.com/01.01G.Famine.Averted.htm

Massive Food Delivery Averts Afghan Famine
By Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 31, 2001

The delivery of unprecedented amounts of wheat to Afghanistan over the past month has averted a major famine this winter, international and American relief officials said last week.

Although they are wary of claiming total victory, officials said they believe the overall food supply in Afghanistan is now sufficient and conditions are stable enough to deliver food throughout most of the country.

"There will be no famine in Afghanistan this winter," said Catherine Bertini, executive director of the United Nations' World Food Programme, which trucks the food aid into Afghanistan. "There will be deaths, because the country was in a pre-famine condition this summer before the war started. But it will be isolated, and not large-scale."

She said the WFP moved 90,000 tons of wheat into the country during December, probably the largest monthly total in the history of the agency. In the previous three months, 75,000 tons were delivered.

CLIP

WFP officials said there was enough food in Afghanistan now to accommodate a substantial return of refugees from Pakistan and Iran. As many as 4 million Afghans are living in neighboring countries, and thousands have been returning daily.

The USAID and WFP assessment that the food situation has stabilized is generally accepted by the private aid organizations that deliver the food to Afghans once it is trucked into the country by the WFP. "We had been looking at hundreds of thousands of people dying of starvation," said James Bishop, director of humanitarian response for InterAction, a Washington-based coalition of private aid organizations. "But unless there are unexpected interruptions or a rapid return of a large number of refugees, that will not happen."

CLIP

Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, also cautioned that while the food getting to Afghans may keep many from starving to death, it is exclusively wheat and does not provide a healthy diet. "The WFP has done a terrific job of getting wheat into the country in the last month, but at this point, we have to start diversifying the food going in there," he said. The WFP asked for donations of beans, corn and vegetable oils last week.

CLIP

Although Afghanistan is now dependent on food aid, historically it has fed itself and even exported some food products. Natsios said a primary focus of U.S. reconstruction aid to Afghanistan will be to supply sheep and other livestock, seeds for crops, and money for repair of local irrigation systems.

FULL COVERAGE ON AFGHANISTAN:
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/World/Afghanistan/




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