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

11 December 2017

The Mullah-Military Takeover of Pakistan

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

A Musharraf-Saeed alliance could provide the political face of the mullah-military takeover underway in Pakistan. 

It might still be premature to read too much into former military dictator Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf talking about a political alliance with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its offshoot Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). Not because these groups are officially banned in Pakistan, but because Musharraf is a largely irrelevant political entity these days.

However, events of recent weeks suggest that the unlikely merger of the Musharraf-led “grand alliance of 23 political parties” with the Hafiz Saeed-led proscribed groups would perfectly symbolize the mullah-military takeover of Pakistan.

10 December 2017

The Civil Half of the Afghan War Dealing with the Political, Governance, Economics, Corruption, and Drug Threats

By Anthony Cordesman

Every war has both a military and a civil dimension. This is especially true of counterinsurgency campaigns like Afghanistan, where the civil dimension is always a critical half of the battle. The U.S. now seems to be making real progress in reshaping its approach to fighting the military half of the war in Afghanistan, but it is far from clear that it is playing an effective role in helping Afghanistan deal with the critical problems it faces in dealing with the civil side of the war—the lack of security in civil life, chronic failures in governance, and massive economic challenges.

Kabul's Plan to Realize Afghanistan’s Geographic Dividend

By Abid Amiri

Back in 1776, Adam Smith observed that “all the inland parts” of Africa and Asia were the world’s least developed areas. Even today, well over two centuries later, most of these landlocked countries are still trapped in poverty. Countries without direct coastal access to the sea and to maritime trade face many challenges from the outset that limit their potential gains from trade in this globalized world compared to their coastal neighboring countries. The Human Development Index is a stark indication of how poorly landlocked countries are performing: low standards of living, high child mortality, high levels of poverty, low health care quality, and crippled education systems. In the Human Development Report of 2016, 10 out of the 32 countries with the lowest HDI scores are landlocked.

China warns of imminent attacks by "terrorists" in Pakistan


BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Friday warned its nationals in Pakistan of plans for a series of imminent “terrorist attacks” on Chinese targets there, an unusual alert as it pours funds into infrastructure projects into a country plagued by militancy.

Thousands of Chinese workers have gone to Pakistan following Beijing’s pledge to spend $57 billion there on projects in President Xi Jinping’s signature “Belt and Road” development plan, which aims to link China with the Middle East and Europe.

Protecting employees of Chinese companies, as well as individual entrepreneurs who have followed the investment wave along what is known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, has been a concern for Chinese officials.

9 December 2017

America Can't Win the Drug War in Afghanistan

Ted Galen Carpenter

As if the United States needed more evidence that its sixteen-year mission in Afghanistan is an exercise in futility, a new United Nations report provides an additional reason for depression. The 2017 Afghanistan Opium Survey from the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime, released on November 15, confirms that Washington’s effort to curb illicit narcotics trafficking in the country has failed.

Almost every aspect of the report contains bad news. Overall opium production reached nine thousand metric tons, compared to 4,800 tons in 2016. That was a record level since the UN began keeping statistics on the product in 1994. Some 328,000 hectares were used to grow poppy (the source of opium), an increase of nearly 50 percent from the previous record set in 2014. Poppy cultivation also spread to provinces that were previously free of such cultivation. That development means that twenty-four of the country’s thirty-four provinces now are directly involved in illicit drug production. Despite a 14 percent drop in price per unit, the overall value of the crop increased by 55 percent because of the sheer overall volume. An evaluation of the UN report from the Afghan Analysis Network aptly concluded that opium is “a low-risk crop in a high-risk environment.”

8 December 2017

America Can't Win the Drug War in Afghanistan



Ted Galen Carpenter
Source Link

As if the United States needed more evidence that its sixteen-year mission in Afghanistan is an exercise in futility, a new United Nations report provides an additional reason for depression. The 2017 Afghanistan Opium Survey from the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime, released on November 15, confirms that Washington’s effort to curb illicit narcotics trafficking in the country has failed.

6 December 2017

Will Pakistan's Support for Terrorists Destroy Its Relationship with America?

Michael Kugelman
Source Link

On December 3, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis will visit Islamabad. It’s expected to be a short sojourn; he likely won’t be there for more than a few hours. This isn’t particularly surprising. Neither side has been in the mood for long and warm conversations lately, and especially since August, when U.S. President Donald Trump announced a new South Asia strategy that demanded—in no uncertain terms—that Pakistan go after militants on its soil, such as the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network that target Americans in Afghanistan, and that called on rival India to step up its role in Afghanistan. Predictably, Islamabad was not pleased.

Pakistan’s Emboldened Islamists

Mubaraz Ahmed

Hardline Islamists brought the Pakistani capital to a standstill for several weeks in November in protest against amendments to the country’s electoral oath. The government pointed out that the change, which was subsequently reversed, was due to nothing more than a clerical error. Those leading the charge, however, felt the move was part of a calculated, coordinated conspiracy to undermine Pakistan’s fundamental Islamic values.

Will Pakistan's Support for Terrorists Destroy Its Relationship with America?

Michael Kugelman

On December 3, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis will visit Islamabad. It’s expected to be a short sojourn; he likely won’t be there for more than a few hours. This isn’t particularly surprising. Neither side has been in the mood for long and warm conversations lately, and especially since August, when U.S. President Donald Trump announced a new South Asia strategy that demanded—in no uncertain terms—that Pakistan go after militants on its soil, such as the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network that target Americans in Afghanistan, and that called on rival India to step up its role in Afghanistan. Predictably, Islamabad was not pleased.

5 December 2017

MALI IS FRANCE’S AFGHANISTAN, BUT WITH A DIFFERENCE

STEPHANIE PEZARD AND MICHAEL SHURKIN

In a recent editorial in Le Monde, French journalist Christophe Ayad draws disturbing parallels between the French military operations in Mali — which will reach their five-year mark in January — and America’s involvement in Afghanistan. At first glance the comparison is compelling, and in some important ways, accurate. Yet these two interventions present some fundamental differences that make the Afghanistan case likely more intractable than Mali’s, and give reason for optimism in France.

4 December 2017

Responding to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor challenge

Harsh V. Pant

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been attracting a lot of attention lately and for all the wrong reasons. Pakistan has reportedly rejected China’s offer of assistance for the $14 billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam, asking Beijing to take the project out of the $60 billion CPEC so that Pakistan can build the dam on its own. Because the project was in a disputed territory, the Asian Development Bank had refused to finance it. So China was keen to step in but Pakistan realized that the tough conditions being imposed by Beijing pertaining to the ownership of the project, operation and maintenance costs, and security of the dam would make the project politically and economically untenable. It gravitated, therefore, towards self-financing.

WHAT A YEAR OF TRACK II DISCUSSIONS SAYS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF U.S.-PAKISTAN RELATIONS

MICHAEL KUGELMAN AND RAOOF HASAN

On May 1, 1960, an American spy plane — having taken off from an airbase in Pakistan — was downed over Soviet skies, sparking a major Cold War crisis. As tensions grew, the prominent public intellectual Norman Cousins, a friend of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, invited a group of private American and Russian citizens to a meeting at Dartmouth College to discuss ways forward. This gathering, according to a 2011 Foreign Policy essay by Charles Homans, established a new form of diplomacy, known as Track II: discussions between nongovernment interlocutors meant to build trust and pursue cooperation during trying times for relations between countries. Track II dialogues have become a popular way for experts and former practitioners to try to lay the groundwork for smoother exchanges on official levels.

3 December 2017

Why the Trump administration’s policy on Pakistan is likely to fail

Madiha Afzal

Thousands of Pakistani protesters, supporters of the hard-line Tehreek-e-Labaik Islamist party that demands strict adherence to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, have blocked a main entrance to Islamabad for more than two weeks. They have accused Zahid Hamid, the country’s law minister, of blasphemy after a change last month in the oath for parliament that they construe as blasphemous (and that has since been reversed), and are demanding his resignation. Under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, offending remarks against the Prophet Muhammad are deemed blasphemous and can result in a mandatory death penalty. The change in the oath dealt with wording surrounding the belief in the finality of the Prophet Muhammad, and was considered to be a concession to Ahmadis, a group declared non-Muslim by Pakistan’s constitution.

Pakistan Hasn't Stemmed Terrorism in Afghanistan, U.S. Says

By Anthony Capaccio 

Pakistan has failed to stop terrorists crossing its borders into Afghanistan, even as it has made progress against those who attack inside the country, the top U.S. general in the region said. “The Pakistanis have been engaged in a very tough fight against extremism inside their own country,” Army General John Nicholson, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told reporters Tuesday. “They did displace many of those terrorists who were fighting their own government. But at the same time, we’ve seen the ones who weren’t displaced were the Afghan Taliban” and the affiliated Haqqani network, he said.

2 December 2017

The Battle for Advantage in Afghanistan


The war in Afghanistan, which has embroiled U.S. and NATO forces in battle with Taliban insurgents for the better part of two decades, remains locked in a stalemate that both sides are trying to figure out how to break. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the U.S. forces in the country, acknowledged the impasse in a Nov. 23 interview, but added that he thinks a coming surge of U.S. troops into the country will help the Afghan National Security Forces conduct major offensives over the next two years that will turn the tide of the war in their favor. Meanwhile, on the other side of the conflict, the Taliban have been busy shoring up their positions and looking for ways to intensify their insurgency. For both sides, however, breaking the stalemate is much easier said than done, especially given the complexities inherent to the Afghan battlefield.

Handing Advantage to the Taliban

1 December 2017

Islamists in Pakistan Reverse Counterterrorism Efforts

By Umair Jamal

The Pakistani government’s efforts to disperse hardline Islamist protesters from the capital turned deadly last week when scores of people died in clashes between protesters and security forces across the country. In response to the government’s crackdown, thousands of protesters blocked main highways across the country and shut down major city centers. On Monday morning, after the military’s intervention, hardline Islamists finally called off their three-weeklong sit-in after one of their core demands–the resignation of the federal law minister–was met by the government.

How Is the US Government Fight Against Al Qaeda Going? Only So-So, According to a New Report.


The Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) has published a very timely unclassified report entitled Independent Assessment of U.S. Government Efforts against Al-Qaeda. 

Some 380 pages long, this report is both incisive and critical in its analysis, concluding that while some progress has been made in the 16 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US government has, on the whole, not managed to contain, much less destroy al Qaeda,

Here are the report’s central conclusions viz the US government and military’s operations against AQ:

Successes:

30 November 2017

A War Between India and Pakistan: Nuclear Weapons Could Fly (And Millions Die)

Sebastien Roblin

India possesses a smaller number of nuclear weapons, estimated in 2015 to range between ninety and 120. However, New Delhi recently acquired a full nuclear triad of air-, land- and sea-based nuclear platforms when it deployed its first home-produced nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant. The Arihant is capable of launching a dozen K-15 Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic missiles. However, these are limited to a range of 750 kilometers, and are thus incapable of reaching the major inland cities of Pakistan or China, a shortcoming India is attempting to address with new K-4 missiles, derived form the land-based Agni-III. New Delhi intends to produce three more nuclear submarines over the years, while Pakistan is considering building one of their own.

Inside Pakistan’s Biggest Business Conglomerate: The Pakistani Military

BY LT. GENERAL KAMAL DAVAR

Retired military officers are profiting from private security contracts around some of Pakistan's most contested regions, stoking new fears of nepotism and corruption. 

In July 2016, the Pakistani senate was informed that the armed forces run over 50 commercial entities worth over $20 billion. Ranging from petrol pumps to huge industrial plants, banks, bakeries, schools and universities, hosiery factories, milk dairies, stud farms, and cement plants, the military has a finger in each pie and stands today as the biggest conglomerate of all business in Pakistan. 

CONGRESS ASKED FOR AN ASSESSMENT OF THE WAR ON AL-QAEDA. HERE’S WHAT WE TOLD THEM

JONATHAN SCHRODEN AND JULIA MCQUAID

In 2015, the U.S. Congress decided it was time to take a public accounting of the U.S. government’s war against al-Qaeda. In that year’s National Defense Authorization Act, Congress mandated: The Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall provide for the conduct of an independent assessment of the effectiveness of the United States’ efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al-Qaeda … since September 11, 2001.