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

20 October 2018

Making Sense of Russia’s Policy in Afghanistan

Stephen BLANK, Younkyoo KIM

However, little effort has been done to analyze the modalities of this support and the way it relates to Moscow's overall policies and objectives in Central and Southern Asia. This essay sets out to explain both the trend in Russia’s policies towards Afghanistan between 2013 and 2017, and the reasons underneath them. It explores Russia's actions vis-à-vis contending forces in Afghanistan and Central Asia in the broader context of Moscow’s rapprochement with Pakistan, its ties to India and China and overall anti-Americanism that has grown exponentially since 2014. We argue that this approach would provide a better understanding of Russia’s policies and objectives in Afghanistan.

Pakistan: Death or Life for Christian "Blasphemer"?

RAYMOND IBRAHIM

On October 9, Pakistan's Supreme Court heard the final appeal of a Christian woman who has been on death row for nearly a decade on the accusation that she insulted Islam's prophet Muhammad. The woman's fate is now sealed: "They [judges] have come to a decision, but it has been reserved," reported Mehwish Bhatti, an officer with the British-Pakistani Christian Association, from the courthouse. Aasiya Noreen -- better known as "Asia Bibi" -- is a 47-year-old married mother of five children who was charged with violating Pakistan's notorious blasphemy law nearly a decade ago. According to her autobiography, Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death Over a Cup of Water, on June 14, 2009, Bibi went to work picking berries in a field. Although she was accustomed to being ostracized by the other female pickers on account of her Christian faith, things came to a head when, on a sweltering summer day, she drank water from a common well.

19 October 2018

What Is Saudi Arabia's Grand Plan for Pakistan?

by Arif Rafiq

Pakistan’s new government has been in a mad dash to attract foreign aid and investment—most notably from Saudi Arabia—to offset a widening current account deficit, rising foreign debt repayment obligations, and avert a balance of payments crisis. Pakistan’s external financing needs will approach or exceed $30 billion this fiscal year. A return to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—for the twenty-second time in Pakistan’s history—has been all but certain for much of this year. But Pakistan’s new quarterback, Prime Minister Imran Khan, came late into the game and decided to throw a few Hail Mary passes to his country’s traditional receivers of wish lists, hoping to avoid the fund altogether or pursue a smaller bailout and avoid strict conditionality.

The corridor of power

Suzanne Levi-Sanchez

In January, rumours swirled around policy and security circles that China intended to build a military base in the Little Pamirs, a remote mountainous section of the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan that forms a narrow wedge bordering China, Tajikistan, and Pakistan. A journey to the Little Pamirs takes six days on horseback; vehicles can get a little closer to the area via a small bridge on the Tajik side of the border. As China works to advance its Belt Road Initiative, the area at the tip of the Wakhan Corridor in the Little Pamirs will become a key crossing point for its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Chinese officials denied that they are building a base, but on the ground, and in back channel chats, many asserted that not only was this the plan but it had already been in the works since 2016. Some said Chinese troops had been stationed in the region for over a year already.

17 October 2018

Pakistan’s Failing Economy Arises From Oversized Army Budget – Analysis

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Pakistan in 2018 has ended up as a ‘Economically Failed State’ chiefly due to massive appropriations by Pakistan Army GHQ in Rawalpindi with no questions dare asked nor accountability called for by Pakistan’s elected/nominated Prime Ministers sitting in Islamabad. Pakistan’s gullible populace is sedated by Pakistan Army hierarchy that this is required to face Pakistan’s threats emanating from both flanks. Afghanistan and India over the decades have not posed any military threat to Pakistan or threatened it as such. It is the Pakistan Army flush with ‘black money’ diverted from Pakistan’s national exchequer has financed and trained Islamic Jihadi terrorist monsters inflicting terror and suicide bombings in Afghanistan and India.

16 October 2018

Pakistan Seeks I.M.F. Bailout as Government Sends Mixed Messages

By Maria Abi-Habib

NEW DELHI — After Pakistan’s government signaled that it would seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund, Prime Minister Imran Khan this week did the exact opposite of the austerity measures the global body is demanding: He inaugurated a public-housing project to deliver five million homesThat tension — between Mr. Khan’s campaign promises to build the social welfare state and the prescriptions to help set Pakistan’s devastated economy right — is leaving investors at home and internationally guessing about the policies he truly intends to pursue. But investors typically detest such uncertainty and responded this week by offloading the Pakistani rupee, which hit a historic low, while hammering the stock market with a sell-off, wiping $2 billion off the index’s value.

Pakistan's Failing Economy Arises from Oversized Pak Army's Budget

By Dr Subhash Kapila
Source Link


Pakistan in 2018 has ended up as a ‘Economically Failed State’ chiefly due to massive appropriations by Pakistan Army GHQ in Rawalpindi with no questions dare asked nor accountability called for by Pakistan’s elected/nominated Prime Ministers sitting in Islamabad. Pakistan’s gullible populace is sedated by Pakistan Army hierarchy that this is required to face Pakistan’s threats emanating from both flanks.Afghanistan and India over the decades have not posed any military threat to Pakistan or threatened it as such. It is the Pakistan Army flush with ‘black money’ diverted from Pakistan’s national exchequer has financed and trained Islamic Jihadi terrorist monsters inflicting terror and suicide bombings in Afghanistan and India.

The Pakistan Army also in the absence of any credible military threats from India or Afghanistan maintains an oversized military machine and an expanding nuclear weapons arsenal. This has drained a limited economy of Pakistan of vast funds which could have been usefully used for stimulating Pakistan indigenous economic activity and for economic and social upliftment of the Pakistani population.
It is commonly said that the Pakistan Army and not the Prime Minister that controls Pakistan’s foreign policy but it would be equally true to assert that the Pakistan Amy has a stranglehold on Pakistan’s economy and has distorted Pakistan’s economic priorities and its international economic directions by selective selection of Pakistan’s economic partners who toe Pakistan Army’s agenda.

15 October 2018

An End to the War in Afghanistan

For the first time in history, Afghanistan's neighbors have joint interests in seeing the country become stable.
As violence from Taliban attacks in Afghanistan remains unabated, and the hoped for ceasefire during Eid al-Adha did not materialize, it is worth reflecting on how ripe the conditions are for peace are in Afghanistan and how a rare geopolitical window of opportunity has opened up for the more powerful countries that regularly intervene in Afghanistan.
The Taliban came close to agreeing to another ceasefire, deciding against doing so only to attempt to demonstrate that the stepped-up bombing campaign of the United States and its NATO allies was not forcing the terrorist group to the negotiating table. There had been ample expectation on both sides that they could agree upon a brief truce that offered the prospect of prisoner releases and possibly more.

After all, an unprecedented breakthrough ceasefire occurred as recently as the end of Ramadan in June. In a series of dramatic moves and scenes, rank and file Taliban fighters across the country entered Afghan cities and appeared to engage in spontaneous gestures of peace and national camaraderie. Taliban fighters were filmed kibitzing with Afghan soldiers, eating candy and ice cream in public squares, and even taking selfies with those they had previously tormented, including women—not only in Kabul, but up and down the country.
These scenes took nearly everyone by surprise. They helped to create a fresh understanding that after nearly two decades of a civil war/insurgency the Taliban, the government, and the Afghan people are apparently poised to adopt some form of peace—if to varying degrees. Skeptics remain, however, for this year also happens to constitute the bloodiest year since the 2001 initiation of the conflict when measured in terms of civilian deaths.

U.S. OFFICIALS MEET WITH TALIBAN AGAIN AS TRUMP PUSHES AFGHAN PEACE PROCESS



Seeking to inject new energy into the long-stalled Afghan peace process, the top American diplomat charged with helping find a way to end the war has met with Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar, officials and a Taliban source said on Saturday.

The Friday meeting between the American diplomat, Zalmay Khalilzad, and the Taliban was the second time that senior American officials have met with Taliban representatives in Qatar since the White House ordered direct talks this summer in the hopes of jump-starting the peace process. On Saturday, Mr. Khalilzad flew to Kabul to meet with the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani.

The Taliban have long demanded that they meet with Americans directly instead of the Afghan government, which has made Afghan leaders wary of being sidelined in the process. Western diplomats have described the Americans’ direct contact with the Taliban as “talks before talks” that could then grow into negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government…

14 October 2018

CHINA MAKES ‘LARGEST ARMS DEAL’ OF ITS KIND WITH PAKISTAN AFTER INDIA BUYS FROM RUSSIA

By Tom O'Connor 

Chinese Xinjiang Military Command and Pakistani Khunjerab Security Force personnel discuss the China-Pakistan border situation during a joint border patrol in the mountainous Khunjerab Pass of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, on June 26. China and Pakistan have boosted security cooperation as Beijing invests in the One Belt, One Road initiative spanning Asia and beyond. China has reached a major deal to send military drones to Pakistan just days after Russia and India signed a multibillion-dollar arms sale in a display of defiance to the United States. The Pakistani air force's Sherdils Aerobatic Team first announced Sunday via social media that the state-run Pakistan Aeronautical Complex company and China's own government-owned Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group would "jointly produce 48 Wing Loong II UCAV," an unmanned combat aerial vehicle in service with the People's Liberation Army Air Force. The deal was carried Monday by The Global Times, the official organ of the ruling Communist Party of China.

Lessons From An Islamist Neighbourhood Of London In The 1990s: Why ‘Urban Naxals’ Are The Wrong Kind Of ‘Safety Valves’

by Pritam Banerjee

Justice Chandrachud’s reference to dissent as a form of safety valve in democracies is undoubtedly well meant and pertinent. But as any engineer would tell you, safety valves need to be well designed. Otherwise they can lead to all kinds of lethal accidents. To allow dissent without discernment is dangerous to the very fabric of civilian engagement and compromise that modern democracies embody. I am speaking from personal lived experience from late 1990s United Kingdom. Living as a student in London in 1999-2000, I found cheap lodgings with a Bangladeshi immigrant family in Bounds Green area of north London. This stretch of the city from around Finsbury Park northwards had a large immigrant population, South Asian, Turkish, and West African, which was predominantly Muslim. These were pre 9/11 days, and mosques, ‘social clubs’, and shops brazenly displayed poster exhorting the faithful to jihad, and the destruction of the infidel in Kashmir and Chechnya.

Pakistan’s new prime minister turns to the IMF


ON THE campaign trail, Imran Khan, Pakistan’s new prime minister, presented himself as the man to break the country’s addiction to hand-outs from the West. Whereas previous governments used to go begging to the IMF for funds, he said, his Pakistan Movement for Justice (PTI) would focus instead on recouping billions of dollars hidden from the taxman abroad. But after less than two months in office, Mr Khan reversed himself on October 8th. His finance minister announced that the government would, after all, be seeking a big loan from the IMF.

Blackwater Founder Meets With Afghan Powerbrokers, Aims to Privatize War

Hasib Danish Alikozai

The founder of the U.S.-based Blackwater security firm has been meeting with powerbrokers in Afghanistan to rally support for his plan to privatize the Afghan war. Erik Prince heads the private military company known as Academi, renamed in 2011. According to a report in The New York Times, Prince sent a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in 2017 to secure a meeting, but Ghani refused to meet with him. Prince, based in United Arab Emirates, has reportedly been holding regular meetings with influential Afghans, including some who have an eye on Ghani’s job as he faces reelection in less than a year.

Remodeling The Belt And Road: Pakistan Picks Up The Torch – Analysis

By James M. Dorsey

Preparing for his first visit to China as Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan is insisting that the focus of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a US$60 billion plus crown jewel of the Belt and Road, shift from infrastructure to agriculture, job creation and foreign investment. “Earlier, the CPEC was only aimed at construction of motorways and highways, but now the prime minister decided that it will be used to support the agriculture sector, create more jobs and attract other foreign countries like Saudi Arabia to invest in the country,” said information minister Fawad Chaudhry.

13 October 2018

We’ve All Deceived Ourselves About Why We’re Fighting In Afghanistan


MIKE MARTIN on October 11, 2018
It took me a long time to work out what was going on in Afghanistan. What I saw in front of me—everyone’s behaviour—did not match any of the narratives describing the war. This mess was thrown into stark relief when I observed British company commanders in charge of the predominant fighting unit, a company of approximately 120 soldiers. My job was to train and advise such commanders, and I often worked with them from pre-deployment to the end of their tours in Afghanistan.

Before going to Afghanistan these men spoke, and mostly believed, in an ideologically defined war. By this, I mean the contemporaneous ideology in the army, the organizing principle to our actions: counter-insurgency. The population was the prize to be won, and the Taliban were a scourge on that population. In other words, they felt it really was about democracy, women’s rights, and defeating the extreme Islamist ideology of the Taliban.
Almost as good as a DD-214. 
This idealism never, except in very rare cases, survived the first casualty. Then, subtly, the rhetoric would change, and the war would be stripped back to its essentials: killing the other side, and making sure that your comrade had not died in vain. The war became more visceral. I also saw something else: teams pulling together in a way that I have not seen before or since. This dissonance also extended to the people trying to kill us. It was most obvious with so-called insider attacks when the Afghan army or police that we were trying to train and mentor turned their guns on us. At first, we explained these as ideologically motivated: the Taliban had ‘got to’ certain recruits, and their ideology had caused them to attack us. But, in all the instances that I investigated, there had always been a previous incident involving the killer. Perhaps one of their trainers had slighted them, or they had endured some other humiliation; perhaps revenge had been inspired by something, like their brother’s accidental killing in a coalition airstrike.

12 October 2018

We Can't Win—and Don't Have To—in Afghanistan

By Charles V. Peña

This month marks the anniversary of America's longest war: 17 years in Afghanistan. On this anniversary we must ask, why are we still engaged in what amounts to a forever war? Even before he was a candidate for president, celebrity citizen Donald Trump tweeted in 2013: "We should leave Afghanistan immediately" and "Let's get out of Afghanistan." But he's done a complete reversal as president. In August 2017, President Trump acknowledged that his “original instinct was to pull out" but that "our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifices of lives." Indeed, the president declared, "We will fight to win,” but what President Trump needs to understand is that we can't win and, more importantly, we don't have to win.

When America forgets about those who are dying in Afghanistan

BY AMBER SMITH

While most of America has been fixated on the Kavanaugh accusations and the Senate’s embarrassing attempt to handle those, the eighth U.S. service member of 2018 was killed in America’s longest war on Thursday. You likely didn’t hear about it in the news unless you saw a defense reporter tweet about it or you know a veteran who mentioned it. A single U.S. death in Afghanistan no longer draws media attention because Americans have become apathetic to the never-ending conflict, which has allowed our elected representatives to become indifferent to any sort of sustainable solution or realistic withdrawal.

11 October 2018

Pakistani Poker: Playing Saudi Arabia Against China – Analysis

By James M. Dorsey

Desperate for funding to fend off a financial crisis fuelled in part by mounting debt to China, Pakistan is playing a complicated game of poker that could hand Saudi Arabia a strategic victory in its bitter feud with Iran at the People’s Republic’s expense. The Pakistani moves threaten a key leg of the USD60 billion plus Chinese investment in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a crown jewel of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative. They also could jeopardize Chinese hopes to create a second overland route to Iran, a key node in China’s transportation links to Europe. Finally, they grant Saudi Arabia a prominent place in the Chinese-funded port of Gwadar that would significantly weaken Iran’s ability to compete with its Indian-backed seaport of Chabahar.

No easy escape from Afghan war for Trump

Brahma Chellaney

Not for the first time, the U.S. is showing signs of desperation in trying to end its war in Afghanistan, by renewing efforts for a peace deal with the Taliban and — yet again — reviewing combat strategy. Ending the longest war in American history, which marks its 17th anniversary on Oct. 7, appears integral to President Donald Trump’s broader plan to roll back America’s “imperial overreach” — the phenomenon of a great power going into decline when it takes on excessive global commitments. In contrast to China’s use of economic tools to achieve strategic objectives, the U.S. has too often reached for the gun instead of the purse. Many in Washington now believe U.S. retrenchment must include staying out of faraway wars and making allies pay their fair share for defense.

The Taliban’s Fight for Hearts and Minds

BY ASHLEY JACKSON

In many ways, Charkh seems like a typical rural Afghan district. With little development or industry to speak of, its population of 48,000 ekes out a living mostly from farming. Poverty is common; those who can find better jobs elsewhere leave and send money back to support their families. But a closer look at Charkh reveals a divergence from what one may expect of an average Afghan district. Administrators there are widely seen as fair and honest, making them outliers in a country consistently ranked among the world’s most corrupt. Locals say there is remarkably little crime. Disputes among neighbors or families are rare, and when they arise, the district governor or judge quickly settles them. A health official regularly monitors clinics to make sure that doctors and nurses are present and that medicines are stocked. Across the district’s schools, government teachers actually show up, and student attendance is high—an anomaly in a state system where absenteeism is rife.