The US could cut its forces in Afghanistan by mid-next year if Taliban militants accept an amnesty to be drawn up by President Hamid Karzai and neighboring Pakistan, the senior US commander here said. \nAny reduction in the 18,000-strong mainly American combat force in Afghanistan would bring relief to the US military, already stretched thin by the much larger deployment in Iraq. Still, the force is unlikely to shrink before parliamentary elections slated for April. \n"I think by next summer we'll have a much better sense if the security threat is diminished as a result of, say, a significant reconciliation with large numbers of Taliban," Lieutenant General David Barno told reporters on Sunday. "That will change the security dynamics tremendously, and of course our forces are sized against the security threat." \nAfghan officials have repeatedly urged supporters of the former ruling regime to give up the fight or return from exile and lend a hand in rebuilding a country shattered by a quarter-century of war and a debilitating drought. \nBut only since Karzai's landslide victory in the landmark Oct. 9 presidential election have plans emerged for a full-blown reconciliation program, which could anger ethnic minorities who suffered under the Taliban. \nBarno said Karzai, who was to be sworn in as Afghanistan's first popularly elected leader this week, is to produce a list of Taliban leaders to be excluded from the amnesty and pass it to Islamabad. \nThe government of Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf would then review it, and "I think there'll be a ... list that says here who we all believe we're going to go after," he said. \nThe final number could be whittled down to less than 100, Barno said.
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures