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

23 July 2018

Dash onto Jarpal

by Imran 

There is this “Akram Raja Conference Room” at Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul. It’s a place of significance as it’s here the assessment abilities of a Platoon Commander (one prestigious and pivotal appointment at the Academy) get questioned and judged twice in every training term (that would be every three months on the calendar). Academy follows a typical grading system and a Platoon Commander has to prove his objectivity and impartiality in the assessment of his cadets (and I assure you it’s one huge task). Coming back to Akram Raja Conference Room, it was named after Lieutenant Colonel Akram Raja Shaheed, Hilal e Jurrat (the second highest award for gallantry in Armed Forces, succeeding only Nishan e Haider). The officer was bestowed upon the award to honor his shahadat while leading his battalion in attack during 1971 Indo-Pak war. He led the unit in the battlefield, he had raised as Commanding Officer the same year, 35th Battalion The Frontier Force Regiment, “The Charging Bulls”.

SIPRI Annual Report: Flawed Analysis of Pakistan’s Nuclear Forces

By Ahyousha Khan
Since its inception Pakistan’s nuclear program became a victim of nuclear apartheid, even though the acquisition of nuclear technology for not only peaceful purposes but for security purposes is the inalienable right of states.It’s worth mentioning that Pakistan in its attempt to acquire mastery in nuclear fuel cycle never violated any bilateral or international agreement/treaty, unlike its regional nuclear counterpart, India. Even then Pakistan’s nuclear program has always been termed as stereotyped, as ‘Islamic Bomb’ or ‘fastest growing nuclear weapons program’.

Pakistan election: BBC interview with Dawn newspaper boss stirs controversy

A BBC interview with the boss of Pakistan's leading English-language newspaper has stirred controversy a week before national elections. Hameed Haroon, CEO of the Dawn Media Group, accused the security establishment of interfering in politics, including in favour of former cricketer Imran Khan and his PTI party. But the HARDtalk interview prompted claims that Mr Haroon and his newspaper were biased in favour of ex-PM and rival to Mr Khan, Nawaz Sharif. Others criticised his lack of evidence against the military. Dawn is among newspapers that have faced censorship and intimidation ahead of the 25 July vote.

22 July 2018

Fear and loathing on the New Silk Road: Chinese security in Afghanistan and beyond

Angela Stanzel 

China’s focus in Afghanistan is moving away from development projects and towards the containment of perceived security threats. Europeans do not yet fully understand China’s new approach, seen in its patrols of the Wakhan Corridor – in what it calls a “joint counter-terrorism operations” with Kabul – and other security initiatives involving Afghanistan. It remains unclear whether China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is still a purely development-focused operation, or whether there is a planned and profound long-term shift in Chinese security priorities. So far, Beijing’s most substantive engagement with Afghanistan has been in border control efforts designed to prevent terrorists from entering China. In addition, “a similar pattern has emerged in Central Asia: China is working to deepen its cooperation with countries in the region by largely concentrating on measures to combat terrorist groups and other threats. Although Beijing rarely speaks about expanding its security ties with other countries, these trends indicate that it could be developing a capacity to promote stability in the region.” 

21 July 2018

Where Democracy Is a Terrifying Business

By Ali Akbar Natiq

Every two weeks I travel from Lahore, where I teach Urdu literature at a university, to my village in Okara district of Punjab Province. The conversations, the political debates, the infrastructure of the cities disappear in the three-hour bus journey. I grew up here and my parents continue to live here. Most Pakistanis in my village and in thousands of such villages live in grueling poverty, living off subsistence agriculture and working as laborers. It is the other Pakistan, where no nonprofit groups open their offices because we have no air-conditioned meeting halls, where no functioning hospitals are built because the doctors who come from middle- and upper-middle-class families won’t come to work here, where you don’t find clean drinking water because no health and sanitation worker ever shows up and where few schools are built — and even then, with little concern toward the quality of education — because most of us remain condemned to working as farm hands and laborers.

Taliban controls more than half of Afghanistan’s territory - Russian diplomat

Zamir Kabulov

MOSCOW, July 16. /TASS/. Taliban (a radical movement outlawed in Russia) is present in most of Afghanistan’s provinces and controls more than a half of its territory, Russian president’s special envou on Afghanistan and director of the Russian foreign ministry’s second Asia department, Zamir Kabulov, said in an interview with the Kommersant daily on Sunday. "Taliban is very integrated into Afghanistan’s military and political life. It controls more than a half of the country’s territory by now," he said. According to the Russian diplomat, Taliban is present in most of the country’s provinces and is a key force even where an official administration is present. "As a matter of fact, they establish parallel power bodies, including a court system Afghan people have more confidence in than in the official one," he noted.

20 July 2018

The Afghan War of Attrition: Peace Talks Remain an Extension of War by Other Means

By Anthony H. Cordesman

If the U.S. has any real strategy in Afghanistan, it seems to be fighting a war of attrition long enough and well enough for the threat to drop to a level that Afghan forces can handle or accept a peace settlement credible enough for the U.S. to leave. After seventeen years of combat, no one at any level is claiming that enough military progress has been made in strengthening the ANSF enough for it to win. The most favorable claims seem to be that the ANSF are not losing, may someday become able to win with U.S. support. No one is making any serious claims about success at the civil level in terms of politics, governance, and economics. Hope for the civil side seems to rely on the theory that if you attempt enough reform plans, one may eventually work. This is a literal triumph of hope over experience.

White House Orders Direct Taliban Talks to Jump-Start Afghan Negotiations

By Mujib Mashal and Eric Schmitt

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Trump administration has told its top diplomats to seek direct talks with the Taliban, a significant shift in American policy in Afghanistan, done in the hope of jump-starting negotiations to end the 17-year war. The Taliban have long said they will first discuss peace only with the Americans, who toppled their regime in Afghanistan in 2001. But the United States has mostly insisted that the Afghan government must take part. The recent strategy shift, which was confirmed by several senior American and Afghan officials, is intended to bring those two positions closer and lead to broader, formal negotiations to end the long war.

19 July 2018

Pakistan, Iran and the Financial Fight Against Terrorism

The Financial Action Task Force recently "gray-listed" Pakistan for failing to better combat money laundering and terrorism financing; at the same time, the international organization suspended countermeasures on Iran while Tehran implements reforms. The task force's decision will exacerbate Pakistan's financial risks and increase Islamabad's reliance on China as a lender of last resort. Internal divisions over how far Iran should go to comply with the organization's guidelines will complicate Tehran's pursuit of financial breathing room as Iran faces strong U.S. sanctions.

The men who ruled Pakistan

Ajai Sahni 

It is common when speaking of the State to talk about institutions and systems. But in Pakistan -- indeed, across South Asia -- personalities often matter more. Tilak Devasher's second book, Pakistan: At the Helm, is a byproduct of his first, Pakistan: Courting the Abyss, an 'analytical collection of anecdotes and vignettes' that he came across while writing the latter.  Reading about the foibles and failings of Pakistan's leaders may provoke some mirth, but Devasher writes with rare empathy. This is not a book that subjects the Pakistani leadership to undeserved contempt; rather, it reveals complex human emotions, peculiar weaknesses that bring men 'to the helm'; and destructive strengths, the obduracy of will that brings them to ruin. The portraits of those who rule Pakistan bring to mind many who have ruled other nations; this anecdotal history is a cautionary tale of great urgency for India as well.

18 July 2018

CPEC And Pakistan-China Energy Cooperation – OpEd

By Venita Christopher*

The demands of global energy are substantially rising day by day in the 21st century, whereas the dependency on fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas have become a serious concern which is about 80% of the world’s primary source of energy. The concerns about fossil fuels are due to their ever rising prices and their negative impact on the environment due to the harmful emission of greenhouse gases. Therefore, in this context the reliance on nuclear power energy is considered by various countries, including Pakistan, as a good alternative option of energy supply, which is comparatively cheaper also.

17 July 2018

When We Raised Taxes to Fund Wars


On Saturday, July 7, Army Corporal Joseph Maciel was killed in Afghanistan during an attack at the Tarin Kowt airfield in Uruzgan province. He was 20 years old, meaning that when the war began in October 2001, he was a toddler. You can be forgiven for not having noticed Maciel’s death, as media coverage of America’s presence in Afghanistan is fairly hard to come by. The Afghanistan war has held the moniker of “the forgotten war” for more than a decade now, having originally been presented with the honor as all eyes turned to Iraq during the mid-2000s. It received somewhat renewed attention last August when President Trump announced a new strategy for the war. But the spectacle that is the Trump presidency, combined with the sheer length of the conflict, has again relegated it to the back of America’s consciousness. A recent Pentagon press briefing on Afghanistan was attended by fewer than 10 journalists.

Blackwater founder makes new pitch for mercenaries to take over Afghan war

by Justin Wise 
Erik Prince, the founder of the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater, is making a new pitch for his proposal to turn U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan over to mercenaries. Price promoted the plan in a YouTube video released Tuesday that coincided with the recent NATO summit in Belgium. “The Pentagon does what it does and wanted to keep doing the same thing it has done for the last 17 years,” Prince said in the video. He said CIA officers and 6,000 mercenaries should take charge in the conflict. Prince also said that President Trump has “stayed the course” in Afghanistan so far and that continuing a conventional war in the region is “reckless and it’s irresponsible.”

16 July 2018

The Indus Waters Treaty: an exemplar of cooperation

The Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 shows how international mediation can be instrumental in reaching an agreement between India and Pakistan. With this in mind, India and Pakistan should use the treaty as a model to negotiate, cooperate and resolve other ongoing issues as well, writes Saud Sultan. With the partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947, the Indus basin was also divided into two parts, with the upstream riparian (the area surrounding the river and its banks) belonging to India and the downstream belonging to Pakistan. Although the Boundary Commission Awards of 1947 demarcated the boundary between Pakistan and India, it did not define how the waters of the Indus system of rivers would be used by the two new dominions. Therefore, it was left to the governments of India and Pakistan to decide how this water would be shared. (see Gulhati, 1973, p.56-57)

Pakistani Taliban: Mullah Fazlullah’s Death Revives Mehsud Clan Fortunes

By: Farhan Zahid
Mullah Fazlullah, the notorious Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) emir, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in June, along with four of his commanders, in the Marawar district of Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan (Tolo News, June 15). With Fazlullah gone, the group will likely change direction under the leadership of its new emir, Noor Wali Mehsud. Since taking over as TTP leader in 2013, Fazlullah has planned a relentless series of terrorist operations in Pakistan from his base in neighboring Afghanistan. Under his command, however, the group was unable to remain the efficient terrorist organization it had been under the previous two emirs, Baitullah and Hakimullah Mehsud. While Fazlullah was known for a series of ruthless acts of terrorism in Pakistan—including instigating the 2007 and 2009 Islamist insurgencies in Pakistan’s Malakand Division, ordering the attempted assassination of Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai in 2012 and masterminding the shocking killing of school children at the Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014—on his watch, factions splintered from the group and a series of TTP commanders joined with Islamic State’s (IS) Afghan chapter, IS-Khorasan.

Why America Should Let Its Rivals Play the Great Game in Afghanistan

By Jim Kane

Afghanistan has long occupied a contentious position between larger powers across South Asia. According to General John Nicholson, the Commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the Russian government is arming the Taliban insurgency. Pakistan, too, arms the Taliban to ensure Afghan weakness and limit Indian influence. Iran, for its part, arms the Shia Hazara and western Taliban in Afghanistan and cooperates closely with the Russians to undermine U.S. interests. China has gained a foothold in Afghanistan through mining operations and military operations on Afghan soil while working closely with Pakistan to build an overland trade route to the Arabian Sea.

Is China Influencing Pakistan’s Elections?

By Muhammad Akbar Notezai

As an emerging power in the region, China is closely watching the developments taking place in the South Asia region. It is in China’s best interests to have friendly governments in neighboring countries, and to a large extent, Beijing is succeeding. China has been meticulously working to attract South Asian countries, big and small alike, by all means. One of China’s friendliest neighbors is Pakistan. When al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was assassinated by U.S. forces on May 2, 2011 in Pakistan’s garrison city of Abbotabad, Pakistan put all its eggs in China’s basket. As a result of this paradigm shift, Pakistan has put the highest priority on its friendship with China. For Pakistan, whether China can replace the United States or not is a separate debate, but one thing is sure: since 2011, China has increased its presence in the country, as seen most readily in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the multibillion-dollar project announced in 2014.

15 July 2018

This mess we’re in

Tariq Khosa

PAKISTAN today suffers from a crisis of governance. The radical right is ascendant. Institutional decay is advanced; the state’s writ is eroded. We soon go to the polls in a divisive, belligerent and to a great extent despondent environment. It is time for serious reflection and introspection. In the past decade, our governments have been unable to produce a comprehensive national security policy. Instead of strategic, visionary long-term policies for both external and internal security challenges, there was a reliance on short-term, tactical (ie reactionary) responses to a myriad challenges on account of economic mismanagement, corruption and a convoluted policy of using religious extremists as tools of the invisible state. This mess can only be cleared through an effective charter of governance based on security and justice.

It Still Doesn’t Get Worse Than Afghanistan


What’s the dumbest aspect of contemporary U.S. foreign and defense policy? There’s no shortage of worthy candidates: the fruitless pursuit of strategic missile defense, which has costmore than $200 billion since the 1980s but still can’t provide convincing protection against even a nuclear pipsqueak like North Korea; President Donald Trump’s foolish flirtation with a global trade war, and especially his transparently comical claim that imports from Canada — Canada? — constitute some sort of national security threat; or even the blank check the United States has given its various Middle East allies to interfere in places such as Yemen, mostly unsuccessfully. And don’t get me started on Trump’s handling of North Korea or Iran.

13 July 2018

Too little, too late: The mainstreaming of Pakistan’s tribal regions


Situated in the northwest part of Pakistan, along the Afghanistan border, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas or FATA is one of the most dangerous places in the world and has been the home-base for jihad and terrorism in South Asia. Governed by colonial era laws, and damaged by militancy and military operations, FATA residents remain second-class citizens, treated differently from the rest of Pakistan. This paper looks at the government's recent push to mainstream FATA and what it will mean for militancy in the region.