Showing posts with label AfPak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AfPak. Show all posts

22 October 2019

Imran Khan’s incomplete narrative on the Taliban

Madiha Afzal

America is, understandably, tired of its “longest war”: Neither the Trump administration nor the American public has any desire to remain in Afghanistan. The question doesn’t seem to be if America leaves Afghanistan — this is all but a foregone conclusion — but when and how. The U.S. peace talks with the Afghan Taliban (stalled for now, but possibly inching toward a restart) after 18 years of fighting with the group, need a narrative explanation, and one that goes beyond the exhaustion of war and the inability to win militarily.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has been helping the U.S. with these talks, has provided one narrative. On his visits to the United States — two in the last three months, one for his first meeting with President Trump, and the second for a speech at the U.N. General Assembly — a key topic of discussion was peace talks with the Taliban. In that context, Khan was asked, especially during his appearances at think tanks, about the relationship between Pakistan, terrorism, and the Taliban.

WHAT KHAN SAYS

Pakistan's measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing


This report provides a summary of the AML/CFT measures in place in Pakistan as at the date of the on-site visit in October 2018. It analyses the level of compliance with the FATF 40 Recommendations and the level of effectiveness of the AML/CFT system and provides recommendations on how the system could be strengthened.

The findings of this assessment have been reviewed and endorsed by the FATF.

Please refer to the Executive Summary of the report for the Key Findings and Priority Actions.

Download the report:

21 October 2019

Imran Khan’s incomplete narrative on the Taliban

Madiha Afzal

America is, understandably, tired of its “longest war”: Neither the Trump administration nor the American public has any desire to remain in Afghanistan. The question doesn’t seem to be if America leaves Afghanistan — this is all but a foregone conclusion — but when and how. The U.S. peace talks with the Afghan Taliban (stalled for now, but possibly inching toward a restart) after 18 years of fighting with the group, need a narrative explanation, and one that goes beyond the exhaustion of war and the inability to win militarily.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has been helping the U.S. with these talks, has provided one narrative. On his visits to the United States — two in the last three months, one for his first meeting with President Trump, and the second for a speech at the U.N. General Assembly — a key topic of discussion was peace talks with the Taliban. In that context, Khan was asked, especially during his appearances at think tanks, about the relationship between Pakistan, terrorism, and the Taliban.

WHAT KHAN SAYS

Washington to London: An inside account of how Pakistan’s deep state grooms ISI mouthpieces

C. CHRISTINE FAIR


How does Pakistan’s deep state continue to influence debate around the world? By deploying people to disrupt public events, of course. Let me explain how this happens.

I appeared recently on a television programme filmed at the Newseum in Washington DC that promised to the tell the “whole truth” about US-Pakistan relations. Ordinarily, I would have asked about the composition of the panel but, in this case, I did not because I assumed the effort was credible because the show was tied to the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.

I regretted this lapse as soon as I walked into the green room where I met my two co-panellists. One was a retired, senior American diplomat with long ties to South Asia who, in retirement, briefly became a lobbyist for Pakistan. The other was a wealthy Pakistani-American physician serving as a current lobbyist who uses his wealth to influence American policy towards countries of interest. He also is the sole US representation for former, disgraced Pakistani dictator, Pervez Musharraf, which he claims to do pro bono.

Both the past and current lobbyist reiterated tired canards that are empirically falsifiable. Doctor Sahab asserted Pakistan’s inalienable right to Kashmir and said that the Maharaja of Kashmir was obliged—as opposed to encouraged—to choose either Pakistan or India based upon geography and demography. Not only is this untrue, but Kashmir could have also have gone either way based upon these considerations. He repeated the absurd narrative about the “plebiscite” and rebuffed my efforts to explain what the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions actually say and the host similarly silenced me from clarifying basic facts.

20 October 2019

Inside Afghanistan’s Online Battlefield

By Ezzatullah Mehrdad

In the early 2000s, the war in Afghanistan was largely fought in the country’s rural areas. As the war dragged on, entrepreneurs established social media companies that now drive modern politics. The world evolved into the present social media-dominated age; so did the Afghan war.

In one video circulated on social media early this year, Taliban fighters line a local judge up in front of their guns. They ask him repeatedly: Who is legitimate, the Taliban or the government? As the judge says, “I only serve the people,” the militants open fire. 

In a second video, Afghan security forces capture a man in a desert battlefield. The forces pose for a photo with the man, asking him why he fired on them, asking who he is. They drag the man around, demanding repeatedly: Tell us the truth. As the man says he is a shepherd, the Afghan security forces line him up and open fire.

The Afghan war is increasingly fought on social media, as it is on the battlefield. Social media accounts connected with the government and the Taliban often post graphic content — to push messages of strength and victory. A flood of bloodied images and videos spills across the online battlefield, raising fears of everlasting hatred.

Can a Negative Decision at the FATF Bolster Hardliners in Pakistan?

By Umair Jamal

Later this week, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is set to release its findings concerning Pakistan’s case at the forum. Early reports from the ongoing meeting in Paris suggest that the country may evade blacklisting by the forum. However, it’s still expected that Islamabad will come under a lot of pressure as the majority of the recommendations by the FATF have only been implemented partially.

The case’s outcome will have significant implications not only for Pakistan, but also for the region. A critical outcome may prove to be a blow to the country’s moderate voices within the national security establishment and civilian elite that are working to push against the hardliner’s support base within various institutions.

From Islamabad’s perspective, the worst outcome would emerge in the form of the country being placed on the blacklist, which can virtually choke Pakistan’s struggling economy in the coming months. Policymakers in Islamabad believe that they have done enough in the time given to the country and that moving forward, there is a strategy in place to work on the remaining recommendations. Predictably, Pakistan is expecting an appreciation for the country’s compliance with the FATF’s recommendations and other efforts to contain terror financing and militant groups.

Pakistan: The Weaponization Of Blasphemy – Analysis

By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty*
Source Link

Riots broke out in Ghotki town (Ghotki District) of Sindh on September 15, 2019, after a school principal from the minority Hindu community was booked on charges of alleged blasphemy. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) tweeted a video of protesters breaking the infrastructure of the school and wrote, “Alarming reports of accusations of blasphemy in Ghotki and the outbreak of mob violence”. Videos of stick-wielding protesters were also shared on social media in which they were seen vandalising a Hindu temple. The protests erupted after a FIR (first information report) was filed against the Hindu principal of Sindh Public School on the complaint of Abdul Aziz Rajput, a student’s father, who claimed that the teacher had committed blasphemy. The principal, identified as Notan Lal, was booked and then arrested on charges of blasphemy on September 16. 

On May 27, 2019, a Hindu veterinary doctor, identified as Ramesh Kumar, was arrested in Phulhadiyon area of Mirpurkhas District of Sindh after a local cleric filed a Police complaint accusing him of committing blasphemy. Although the doctor was arrested, radical organisations and their supporters were not pacified and took to setting fire and damaging shops owned by Hindus in the area besides, burning tyres on the roads. The head cleric of the local mosque, Maulvi Ishaq Nohri, filed the complaint with Police alleging that Kumar had torn pages of a holy book and wrapped medicines in them.

19 October 2019

Eye on China: Xi in Chennai – Pak’s Push – Nepal Visit – Trade Talks – EU 5G Warning – Tax Reform

BY MANOJ KEWALRAMANI

Eye on China is a weekly bulletin offering news and analysis related to the Middle Kingdom from an Indian interests perspective. This week we cover Xi Jinping’s arrival in India for the second informal summit; Imran Khan’s visit to China; Beijing’s announcement of major taxation reforms; the US and China heading towards a partial trade deal and much more…
I. Pak Leadership in Beijing

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan led a rather large delegation to Beijing this week. Before he landed, Pakistani Army chief Bajwa was already in China. Khan met with Premier Li Keqiang and Xi. Interestingly, Bajwa reportedly was present as Khan met Chinese leaders. Li Keqiang reportedly told Khan that China supports Pakistan in safeguarding its independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and legitimate rights and interests, in promoting its national prosperity, and in playing a greater role in international and regional affairs. Xi told him that ties remain “unbreakable and rock-solid” and that China highly appreciates and firmly supports Pakistan’s efforts in fighting terrorism, calling on the two sides to beef up communication and cooperation within the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other multilateral mechanisms so as to jointly safeguard regional peace and stability. Think of the bit on terrorism and multilateral organisations in the context of the FATF. This week the plenary meeting is taking place in Paris. Pakistan’s not really done well when it comes to the FATF compliance requirements, but remember China chairs the body for now, so blacklisting might be tough.

18 October 2019

The Return of the Pakistani Taliban

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

On October 4, an alleged commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Rehman Hussain, was acquitted by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan, in cases related to possession of arms and explosives.

Hussain has been linked to the TTP’s Fazlullah faction, named after former chief of the Pakistani Taliban Mullah Fazlullah, whose successor, Noor Wali Mehsud, was designated as a global terrorist by the United States last month.

Days before Mehsud’s sanctioning by the United States, two alleged TTP-affiliated militants were arrested in Punjab’s Gujranwala city. In April, three other TTP members were arrested in Faisalabad, Pakistan’s third most populous city.

The TTP has gradually resurfaced in the news after having largely faded in the aftermath of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in 2014. The operation targeted the Pakistani Taliban and its splinters which had moved from South to North Waziristan following 2009’s Operation Rah-e-Nijat.

17 October 2019

Is Democracy Dying in Afghanistan?

By Jumakhan Rahyab

The latest presidential election in Afghanistan on September 28, witnessed only 26 percent turnout, the lowest since 2001. Aside from serious questions about whether such a dismal turnout can grant enough legitimacy to the forthcoming president elect, it reminds Afghans of a crucial fact that they direly need to rethink the democratization process in the country. 

The low turnout was not a fluke. It needs to be acknowledged that the reasons underpinning such a low turnout can be found in grievances that have built up over a long period of time, at least since the contentious 2014 presidential election. By and large, the performance of National Unity Government (NUG) in the past five years has yielded endemic corruption, adverse poverty, pervasive insecurity, undermined rule of law and, most importantly, undemocratic practices, all of which in turn have caused distrust in the government and democratic institutions. 

16 October 2019

China, India, Pakistan: Who’s really pulling the strings in Jammu and Kashmir?

Brahma Chellaney
Source Link

The media spotlight on India-Pakistan tensions over the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has helped obscure the role of a key third party, China, which occupies one-fifth of this Himalayan region. Kashmir is only a small slice of J&K, whose control is split among China, India and Pakistan.

Sino-Indian border tensions were exemplified by a reported September 11-12 clash between troops from the two countries in the eastern section of J&K, where Beijing’s territorial revisionism has persisted for more than six decades.

Meanwhile, ever since India revoked the statehood and autonomy of its part of J&K in August, Pakistan has stepped up its bellicose rhetoric, with military-backed Prime Minister Imran Khan vowing to “teach India a lesson” and promising a “fight until the end”. Khan has even raised the threat of nuclear war with India.

Taliban: From Pariah to Diplomatic Reception

By Daud Khattak

Sitting face to face with top Pakistani officials at the country’s spacious Foreign Office under the glowing lights of a conference hall that regularly hosts meetings between visiting diplomats and Pakistani officials, the 12-member Taliban delegation seemed no less than a foreign mission carrying out state business.

The only exception was their dress – the neatly-pressed black waist-coats over white shalwar kameez with white and black turbans in instead of suits with matching ties. 

Adding warmth to the “brotherly” ties with hugs and beaming smiles, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also donned a shalwar kameez, although the color of his dress was not as brightly white as that of his Taliban interlocutors.

For a moment, it seems hard to believe that many, if not all, of the delegation members were once part of the Taliban’s regime in the mid-90s that would order the chopping of hands and stoning to death of alleged thieves and adulterers in front of awe-stricken crowds in the Kabul soccer stadium. Have they changed?

Is Democracy Dying in Afghanistan?

By Jumakhan Rahyab

The latest presidential election in Afghanistan on September 28, witnessed only 26 percent turnout, the lowest since 2001. Aside from serious questions about whether such a dismal turnout can grant enough legitimacy to the forthcoming president elect, it reminds Afghans of a crucial fact that they direly need to rethink the democratization process in the country. 

The low turnout was not a fluke. It needs to be acknowledged that the reasons underpinning such a low turnout can be found in grievances that have built up over a long period of time, at least since the contentious 2014 presidential election. By and large, the performance of National Unity Government (NUG) in the past five years has yielded endemic corruption, adverse poverty, pervasive insecurity, undermined rule of law and, most importantly, undemocratic practices, all of which in turn have caused distrust in the government and democratic institutions. 

How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, offers a rich and critical insight on how democracies have been driven to death by elected governments since the end of the Cold War, and not by generals and soldiers. The book argues that “today’s democratic backsliding begins at the ballot boxes” rather than by the tanks on the streets. In the same light, one can safely argue that the nascent Afghan democracy has been weakened to the verge of death by an elected government, in this case the NUG. The reason is clear: There have been rises in the poverty rate, the unemployment rate, insecurity, and migration during the rule of the NUG. In light of those struggles democracy and freedoms have become only a second priority for the populace. Rafael Caldera, at the time ex-president of Venezuela, in 1992 embraced Chaves and the rebels’ cause and declared “it is difficult to ask the people to sacrifice themselves for freedom and democracy when they think that freedom and democracy are incapable of giving them food to eat, of preventing the astronomical rise in the cost of substance, or of placing a definitive end to the terrible scourge of corruption that, in the eyes of the entire world, is eating away at the intuitions of [the country] with each passing day.” 

15 October 2019

The ‘India Question’ in Afghanistan

By Avinash Paliwal 

India welcomed the cancellation of U.S.-Afghan Taliban peace talks in Doha. In an expression of support for Kabul, which was ostracized from the talks, New Delhi asserted that any future process on the issue must include “all the sections of the Afghan society including the legitimately elected government.”

On the face of it, India reiterated a long-standing position of supporting Kabul against the Pakistan-sponsored Taliban. But what makes this position interesting is the fact that India’s relations with Kabul have undergone a shift since 2014.

When the Afghan government reached out to the Taliban in 2015, India viewed Afghan president Ashraf Ghani’s desire for talks as a “tilt” toward Pakistan, antithetical to India’s strategic interests. In response, New Delhi canceled high-level bilateral and multilateral engagements with Kabul. By early 2018, though, when Ghani made a similar overture and offered talks without any preconditions, India welcomed the move and sought international support for it. India’s support for the recent cancellation of further negotiations has more to do with its concern regarding Kabul’s exclusion than an aversion to talks with the Taliban.

Transboundary Environmental Stressors on India-Pakistan Relations

by Michelle E. Miro, Miriam Elizabeth Marlier, Richard S. Girven
Source Link

What is the status of shared air and water resources and transboundary environmental management practices in India and Pakistan?

What is the potential effect of planned hydropower facilities in India on water availability in Pakistan?

How does the transboundary transport of smoke from agricultural waste burning contribute to degraded air quality in both nations?

Which existing transboundary environmental practices are heightening tensions and which could mitigate water and air quality impacts?

Belt and Road Tests China’s Image in Pakistan

BY DAUD KHATTAK

When Lijian Zhao, China’s former No. 2 diplomat in Pakistan, tweeted in July to announce the completion of a 244-mile motorway from Punjab to Sindh province, he began with “Masha Allah,” or “God has willed it.” It was a striking use of language for an atheist Chinese official, especially to describe an infrastructure project.

The Chinese diplomat’s use of the everyday Arabic term mashallah was deliberately casual, aimed at endearing China to Pakistanis in a country where Beijing’s growing presence has often caused problems. Zhao, who left Pakistan in August for a position in the foreign ministry’s information department, was perhaps the most active Chinese diplomat in the country—inaugurating projects, speaking at ceremonies, and defending China’s policies. But his controversial tweets occasionally strained a relationship that may be one of the trickiest challenges for China in future decades.

In some ways, this is a problem of success. The Multan-to-Sukkur section of the Peshawar-Karachi motorway that Zhao announced represents another apparent triumph for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), seen as the flagship of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. CPEC is the first major economic venture in Pakistan and China’s “all-weather” friendship, which for decades was focused on defense and strategic ties.

14 October 2019

The US has ramped up its air campaign in Afghanistan to highest level in nine years

By: Shawn Snow

As peace negotiations between the Taliban and U.S. unraveled, the U.S. dramatically ramped up its air campaign against militants in Afghanistan.

According to U.S. Air Forces Central Command, U.S. aircraft dropped 948 munitions in Afghanistan during the month of September.

That’s the highest number of munitions dropped for a single month since October 2010 — near the height of America’s involvement in the 18-year long war. In October 2010, according to figures provided by AFCENT, U.S. and coalition aircraft dropped roughly 1,043 munitions.

The U.S. had nearly 100,000 troops on the ground by October 2010, as part of then-President Barrack Obama’s troop surge. Today, there are roughly 14,000 service members operating in Afghanistan.

B-52s were postured to respond to Taliban assaults of several urban centers that occurred in late August to early September.

13 October 2019

Getting the Afghanistan Peace Process Back on Track


What’s new? The U.S. has stopped talking to the Taliban, following President Donald Trump’s tweet revealing that he had scheduled a Camp David summit with the insurgents only to call it off.

Why does it matter? A U.S. deal with the Taliban on a narrow set of issues is necessary to pave the way for more important peace negotiations among Afghans. A draft deal that reportedly included a Taliban commitment to intra-Afghan talks had been ready for signature.

What should be done? The U.S. should pick up the process where it left off and finalise its agreement with the Taliban. The Afghan parties should prepare for a peace process to immediately follow.

I.Overview

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Power Projects: Insights into Environmental and Debt Sustainability

BY DR. ERICA DOWNS

Pakistan is increasing its use of coal to generate electricity at a time when many other countries are reducing coal use in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions or pollution. China is helping Pakistan expand its coal-fired generation capacity through the financing and construction of coal power plants as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). CPEC is a component of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to forge greater global connectivity in part through infrastructure development. Nearly 75 percent of the generation capacity of CPEC power plants is coal-fired. Pakistan’s National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) expects that CPEC coal power plants will be largely responsible for the projected increase in the country’s coal-fired generation capacity from 3 percent as of June 30, 2017 (fewer than six months after the first CPEC coal plant began commercial operation), to 20 percent in 2025.

As part of its series on the Belt and Road Initiative, Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy initiated research into the CPEC power sector projects, which account for the majority of the cost of CPEC projects. This paper examines two of the key concerns critics have about the BRI: environmental sustainability and debt sustainability. Concerns about environmental sustainability center on the ways in which an expansion of the amount of electricity generated globally by fossil fuels, especially coal, will increase greenhouse gas emissions, making it more difficult if not impossible to meet the emissions targets in the Paris Agreement. Concerns about debt sustainability focus on whether China’s lending in support of infrastructure projects will lead to problematic increases in debt, with some analysts maintaining that Beijing is intentionally seeking to push countries into debt distress in an attempt to gain control over strategic assets or decision-making in borrowing countries.

12 October 2019

Prime Minister Khan threatens nuclear jihad over Kashmir

By Shak Hill 

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since the 1947 partition created the two states; two of the three were over Kashmir. None of those wars occurred when either country possessed nuclear weapons. 

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the United Nations on Sept. 29 and threatened to change that. Mr. Khan took the 15 minutes of speaking time allotted him and went nearly an hour, using the entire speech to speak of “jihad” over Kashmir and rail against his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Nehendra Modi

“Jihad” is not a word the world wants to hear from a man atop a self-described Islamic republic that owns more than 100 nuclear weapons. 

Mr. Modi is on a strong run. He was re-elected this past spring in a landslide. He has made significant changes regarding Kashmir’s status under the Indian constitution, changes which the Western media mostly misread or label “annexation.” He also addressed the United Nations the same morning as Mr. Khan, and spoke on Kashmir as well. Prior to the U.N. address, Mr. Modi visited Houston, Texas.