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Whereabouts of missing Jamshoro journalist still unknown

report in The Express Tribune, September 7, 2017
HYDERABAD: The whereabouts of a journalist and his two relatives who were whisked away on August 4 from their residences in Jamshoro district remain unknown, despite the family continuing protests for their return for a month.

Ghulam Rasool Burfat, a sub-editor at a Sindhi daily, his cousin and National Bank of Pakistan officer Zaheer Hussain Burfat and their nephew Asif Burfat were allegedly taken away by a law enforcement agency.

All of them are family members of self-exiled nationalist leader Shafi Muhammad Burfat, who heads the banned Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz party. Dozens of female members and children of the family held a protest on Wednesday outside the Hyderabad Press Club carrying photographs of the three missing men.
Protest held against missing persons on Super Highway

Mumtaz Burfat, wife of Ghulam Rasool and sister of Shafi Muhammad, who led the protesters, appealed to the LEAs to show mercy on their family members and release them. “They have never been involved in any criminal or anti-state activities,” she claimed.

The family says that their only sin is their relationship with Shafi Muhammad. His party has been blamed for carrying out cracker attacks on railway tracks and power pylons as well as similar attacks in cities during national day celebrations.

Mukhtiar Burfat, a cousin, told The Express Tribune that other missing persons from Jamshoro have either returned or have had telephonic conversation with their families during their captivity. But he worried that neither have any of his family returned nor have they been allowed to contact the family. https://tribune.com.pk/story/1499555/whereabouts-missing-jamshoro-journalist-still-unknown/

September 7, 2017   No Comments

After Trump, now Brics: By Imtiaz Alam in The News, Sept 7, 2017

The writer is a senior journalist.
As the country’s top ambassadors meet in Islamabad to contemplate Pakistan’s response to President Trump’s recently announced policy on Afghanistan and South Asia, Pakistan’s diplomatic isolation seems almost complete with the naming of UN-designated terrorists which operated from Pakistani soil for the first time in the Xiamen Declaration of the 9th Brics Summit in China.

Where will the envoys draw the line this time compared to the last time they had met for such a consultation and had recommended certain policy inputs that they thought would help them sell a revised and consistent foreign policy the world would be, at least, ready to listen to?

Brics – a forum of the fast-growing developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – has expressed its: “concern on the security situation in the region and the violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates including [the] Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, TTP and Hizbul-Tahrir”.

With this declaration, Islamabad could stand isolated globally on the issues of ‘cross-border terrorism’ that Pakistan has now, at least at the policy level, pledged to curb and has also decided to not to let its territory be used for terrorism against other countries since the unanimous passage of the National Action Plan. But let’s not forget that the ‘leakage’ of the quite known views expressed by former foreign secretary Ayaz Chaudhry in the National Security Committee of the cabinet is also said to have contributed to the ouster of the Nawaz Sharif government.

For India, this declaration is a big diplomatic achievement since its efforts to get Pakistan-based banned (and renamed) LeT and JeM included in Brics’ Goa Declaration was frustrated by China last year. Much earlier, the UN Security Council had designated JeM and LeT as terrorist organisations in 2001 and 2005, respectively. It is indeed good to recall that the same terrorist groups were also mentioned in the Amritsar Declaration of the 6th Ministerial Heart of Asia Conference on Afghanistan in December 2016; the declaration was endorsed by Pakistan and China as well.

However, Islamabad continued to take solace in blaming both Afghanistan and India for allowing and using Afghan soil for a proxy war against Pakistan. Indeed, both Islamabad and Rawalpindi were right in their allegations against both the aforementioned countries with regard to backing the TTP and other renegade terrorist groups for terrorism across Pakistan, but the Pakistani state could not absolve itself of not being equally tough with the ‘good Taliban’. But somehow, despite an apparent shift in policy – as repeated by both successive civil and military leaderships – to not to differentiate between ‘good and bad’ Taliban and not to let any terrorist groups use Pak territory for terrorism against any other country, we continued to take flak from international community on the footprints of these groups being seen to be behind various acts of terrorism.

These groups continue to exist under various pseudonyms and the camouflage of ‘welfare’. Amid a treacherous metamorphosis, they are now becoming the bulwark of fascism at the cost of the civil society, and are sanctified as the guardians of our ‘ideological frontiers’. In a delayed, flawed and self-serving ‘de-radicalisation’ process, they are defining the national narrative on a broad range of policy issues, including jihad, Islamisation (in reality, sectarianism), foreign relations and internal and external security policies. In fact, more than challenging India and checking its brutal suppression of the Kashmiri struggle, such groups pose a much greater threat to Pakistan’s internal security and inter-faith harmony.

The change in the Chinese position on Pakistan-based militant outfits has come after India and China came to an agreement over a 73-day military faceoff on the unsettled Dokalam area close to the Sikkim sector claimed both by China and Bhutan; the latter is now not very inclined to lay claim on the territory and is expected to mend fences with China to, perhaps, keep equi-distance from the two joint neighbours. Indian Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping were to meet at the sidelines of the Brics Summit for what Indians described as “forward looking” discourse to put Sino-Indian relations on the “right track”, according to the Chinese side. The Brics Summit was in fact on ‘emerging markets and developing countries dialogue’ for their greater role in the global market, but it was taken over by the crisis created by the test of a hydrogen bomb by North Korea, something that can make Beijing-Washington relations reach a very tenuous situation.

President Trump’s sabre-rattling apart, Brics has come firmly against tougher sanctions or retaliation against North Korea and has, instead, asked for direct dialogue with Pyongyang. For Beijing, the Korean Peninsula’s security is more important than the Indo-Pak conflict. Moreover, they are no more enthusiastic to compensate for our extended security agendas or conflicts with our neighbours. They want us to focus on CPEC and engage with neighbours the way they are doing with India; the Sino-Indian model of economic cooperation is presented as a blueprint for negotiating border disputes.

For Pakistan, Kashmir remains a principal issue and we have learnt that the Kashmiri democratic struggle no more requires ‘guest fighters’ who now bring a bad name to their genuine aspirations. Jihadis for Kashmir are a liability and counter-productive. They are, rather, a threat to the safety and cohesion of our civil society. Pakistan can never sell its narrative to the world and will remain in jeopardy with the Haqqanis or LeT or JeM in its closet in any way.

On Afghanistan, Brics has very strongly expressed its desire for an end to the conflict and asked for a political resolution of the unending conflict through available mechanisms, including bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral, multilateral and also Moscow and Istanbul initiatives. We must respond to the American overtures and Afghan President Ghani’s speech on this Eid offering “comprehensive political talks” since in his view “peace with Pakistan in our national interest”.

It is also in Pakistan’s national interest to have cordial relations with Afghanistan. We have lost so much for our Afghan policy for far too long, including all those ‘friends’ that we had helped too long. It is a no-win policy and must be drastically changed in favour of an Afghanistan that ensures peace within and at its borders with us.

To Pakistan’s relief, Brics has also included the TTP in its list of terrorists; that provides a ground for a quid pro quo. For that, we will have to revisit our Afghan policy and attitude towards the Haqqani Network. Indeed, it is not our job to sort out the Afghan Taliban or the Haqqanis, but we cannot also provide them any relief by endangering our own country at the same time. As they now claim to have captured more than 40 percent of Afghan territory, they must find their own way.

If at all our facilitation is required for a political reconciliation in Afghanistan, we should be willing to do our bit – however limited or effective it might be. Our national interest is in keeping our north-western and eastern borders secure and not letting proxy wars destabilise us. Why doesn’t Pakistan follow the advice of the Chinese president to have peaceful neighbourly relations with all neighbours and let all the countries of the region join hands against terrorism and against any support to any terrorist group against one another? It is time the Foreign Office told the power players to get over the hangover of Gen Zia’s destructive policies, which Pakistan can least afford now.
https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/228268-After-Trump-now-Brics

September 7, 2017   No Comments

The wall of BRICS: op-ed by Khurram Husain in Dawn, Sept 7, 2017

The writer is a member of staff.
IF you hide from reality for long enough, you can land up in a place from where it is next to impossible to find your way back. Something like that may be happening to Pakistan, where for more than a quarter century, our state has come to be virtually held hostage by a reality that we have been denying in almost every forum around the world. This reality is that within Pakistan, as a matter of official policy, violent militant groups have been nurtured, trained, supported and nestled within the general population for use as assets in an underground geopolitical game that we have tried to play in the region.

This history has been told so often, within and outside Pakistan, and evidence of the official patronage that these groups and their larger milieu enjoys has now mounted to such levels, that it has become an act of wilful schizophrenia to actually deny it now. Where exactly does one even begin to explain this to those who remain unaware of this fact even today, and resistant to really internalising its import?

For years, we have found different rationales to either justify or explain this away. Most recently, when the BRICS countries pointed to three specific groups in Pakistan and labelled them as terrorist entities, they were only echoing what the UN Security Council had done more than a decade and a half ago. Still the line came up that ‘these groups are already proscribed in Pakistan’, as a rationale or soft justification for the fact that the groups not only exist, but operate freely and openly, propagate their literature in society, operate giant administrative operations, and in some cases, are actually being mainstreamed into society as bona fide political parties.

What does proscription actually mean in Pakistan when the same members of the group in question need only start another organisation under a different name and carry on business as usual? One need only take a close look at what happened to the case against the Lal Masjid cleric who less than a decade ago had taken up arms against the state, and triggered a confrontation that actually resulted in the deaths of scores of military personnel. The case fell apart (take a look sometime at how this happened), and the cleric in question continues to live and preach openly in the same mosque. How did this come about if some form of official support was not available to him?

Another line told us that we need not worry. The countries that are crying foul over this situation are biased against us, and need to be perceived more as enemies than allies. Now we have China, we were told, which will stand by us and has no intention of similarly wagging a finger at us on this point. And with China we have CPEC, which is our road to future prosperity, something we have believed for generations now is given by a big brother, not earned through one’s own smarts and hard work.

Well now China has added its voice to the list of those countries pointing out that the presence of militant groups in Pakistan is a problem. To add meat to the proposition, they point to a “comprehensive approach in combating terrorism”, to include countering radical ideologies, halting the movement of terrorist fighters as well as their recruitment, interdicting their finances and much more. This is a heavy menu, and notice that all of what the BRICS declaration is committing to is within the framework of the United Nations, and an extension of what other leading powers in the world have already been saying for many years.

If anybody out there thought that somehow the emergence of China on the global stage, and its growing stakes in our neighborhood as well as others, along with its creed to not interfere in the ‘internal affairs’ of other countries, meant that finally we would have a free pass to engage our great game fantasies without let or hindrance, they ought to be in for a rude shock. The person who is still spinning the words to mean something other than what they say is like that person who has lived so long with his or her lies that they are unable to find their way back to reality.

Everything in the declaration shows that the BRICS countries, that include Russia and China, will not advance an alternative set of norms to those around which the Euro-American world order is constructed. To combat terror financing, for example, they seek to work with the UN resolutions and the Financial Action Task Force that has for years been pointing out the vulnerability of the Pakistan financial system to being used by designated terrorist groups because the latter operate with impunity in Pakistan.

Yes there have been huge successes in our own war against terror. Groups like the TTP have been pushed out of Swat and North and South Waziristan, and the sacrifices made by Pakistan’s soldiers in the course of this fighting have been admirable and deserve commendation. Yes, the security situation has improved from a decade ago, although much ground remains to be covered.

And yes, let’s also add that much of the finger-wagging from the West, particularly America, is in bad faith. America is not losing the war in Afghanistan because of Pakistan. America is losing the war for the simple reason that no sooner had the fighting commenced in earnest in Afghanistan, it lost its focus and went barrelling into Iraq instead. All else is detail.

But there is a reason why Pakistan has had such a difficult time getting the world to recognise this simple reality: because we have been lying to ourselves and our allies about the nature of our involvement in this war all along. If Abbottabad didn’t establish this, surely the death of Mullah Mansour on Pakistani soil, with Pakistani credentials in his pocket, did. https://www.dawn.com/news/1356010/the-wall-of-brics

September 7, 2017   No Comments

Pakistan needs introspection on BRICS: by Zulfiquar Rao in Daily Times, Sept 7, 2017

The writer is a sociologist with interest in history and politics.
Many in Pakistan were surprised when the association of five major emerging national economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) declaration from its meeting in Xiamen, China on September 4, 2017 included Pakistan-based terrorist outfits Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), Haqqani Network, and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) as the entities which have threatened the peace and stability in the region. Pakistan formally rejected the BRICS’ declaration saying there’s no space left for terrorist outfits in the country following its military operations against terrorist organisations; although there aren’t many buyers of this assertion. Pakistan further reiterated that the country itself has been the victim of terrorism as thousands of civilians and military men lost their lives in the fight against terror.

Both political commentators and the government saw the declaration with an element of surprise because in the past, China had been obstructing any move by India to directly or indirectly implicate Pakistan and to designate some of the key leaders of the terrorist outfits based in Pakistan as a global terrorist and a threat to regional peace. However, the fact the declaration mentioning names of these outfits had been signed by China too, speaks volumes about the limits of the sensational perception among Pakistanis of their so called deeper-than-ocean and higher-than-Himalayas friendship with China. Locally, it feels more shocking as government of Pakistan and a number of policy experts had not expected this, especially in the backdrop of recent Sino-Indian border skirmishes and consequent diplomatic tensions between them.

However, what makes the declaration even more significant is that it has echoed some of the points of the new US policy on Afghanistan and South Asia, that President Trump had recently announced, which had already upset Pakistan and led to postponement of scheduled diplomacy visits between the US and Pakistan. From Pakistan’s point of view, certainly, to an extent, one can say that the new US policy has favored India’s stance, offered India a greater role in Afghanistan, and scapegoated Pakistan for US’s own failures in Afghanistan. Yet, the argument is incapable of rubbishing the views shared by the US, EU, and many of neighboring countries that Pakistan’s government’s actions and military offensives against the terrorist outfits are only selective and without much regard to regional peace and stability.

This is precisely what Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary had warned about the participants of a high level meeting on national security that then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had chaired last year in early October. The Foreign Secretary had shared that despite Pakistan’s counter diplomatic efforts to India’s avowed plans to render Pakistan diplomatically isolated, the country found no eager recipients of its counter narrative across the world’s most influential capitals, and that a diplomatic isolation may be imminent if Pakistan didn’t act against Masood Azhar, JeM, Hafiz Saeed, LeT and Haqqani Network.

Unfortunately, the forewarning from the Foreign Secretary got buried under the farcical ‘Dawn-leak’ scandal, which was no more than a news story of that meeting in a newspaper. But the military establishment created so much of ruckus through media men and TV channels aligned to its narrative that civilian led democratic government had to find respite only in constituting a joint investigation committee on that news story and forget insisting on acting against terrorist outfits indiscriminately.

Situation one year after proves that unless Pakistan acts its part well first, none of its friends like China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey can help it in diplomatic success or survival beyond their own interests and limited clout. Pakistan requires a policy shift in national security perception and foreign policy principles. For instance, Pakistan must learn not to transform what are actually its diplomatic and political disputes with other countries into militaristic ones. Letting anti-Afghan and anti-US Taliban operate from Pakistan not only tarnishes Pakistan’s image but also triggers tit-for-tat acts from Afghanistan side, which is witnessed in the form of anti-Pakistan Taliban and other similar forces finding refuge inside Afghanistan. Similar is the story vis-à-vis India in the form of its support for Baloch separatists and anti-Pakistan Taliban inside Afghanistan, which is a response to terrorists using Pakistani soil to infiltrate into India and inflict death and destruction there.

So the kind of diplomatic isolation facing Pakistan can only be averted if its national security policy and foreign policy principles start revolving around and aiming at social and economic well-being of its people. Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan will follow, and it can better pitch its legitimate claim over Kashmir as Pakistan switches to more pro-peace approach. Pakistan must be warned: with empty coffers and empty stomachs fed with jingoistic narrative it will risk inviting more troubles and miseries than success and prosperity for itself as a state and people therein.http://dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/07-Sep-17/pakistan-needs-introspection-on-brics

September 7, 2017   No Comments

Khawaja Asif says strong action needed against banned outfits operating in Pakistan

Report in Pakistan Today online, Sept 6, 2017
Admitting that internationally banned outfits, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), are operating from within Pakistan, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has called for tougher action against such militant groups.
Speaking in a Geo News’ programme on Tuesday night, Asif said that the BRICS declaration should not be considered as China’s official stance as other countries — Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa — are also a part of the group. He, however, applauded China’s role in ensuring that the declaration also highlighted the name of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which he said is based in Afghanistan and carries out terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
With reference to the earlier BRICS conference in India — during which India reportedly lobbied to include the names of these outfits in the declaration but failed due to the opposition by China — he said that “friends should not be tested [every time], particularly in the changed scenario”.
“Instead, we should impose some restrictions on the activities of the elements like LeT and JeM, so that we can show the global community that we have put our house in order,” he said.
“We need to ask ourselves have we acted upon the National Action Plan (NAP) in letter and spirit? Did we take the measures we had decided on, besides Operation Zarb-i-Azb, Raddul Fassad and Khyber 4, during the last three years? Did we show the world that we acted according to the resolve we made in 2014?”
Asif said that for the first time, the Foreign Ministry published an advertisement, requesting people to avoid donating hides of sacrificial animals to proscribed organisations, including the two mentioned.
“Despite all these efforts, in some isolated instances, the organisations were allowed [to collect hides] at some places,” he said.
He reiterated that Pakistan must put its affairs in order, given that the “entire world is pointing fingers towards us.”
“I am not making a political statement but telling you a fact: we will continue to face such embarrassment till the time we keep our eyes off these [militant] organisations in our country.”
“We need to make a clean break from our past; in 1979, we made a wrong decision and acted as a proxy for the entire next decade. After 9/11, we again made a wrong decision and adopted a war which was never ours. We have bore uncountable losses of lives and properties in this war,” he said.
Pakistan Army has done its part, said Asif, asking, “But did we do our work; did we implement the NAP, did we complete the process of de-radicalisation, did we bring the activities of banned outfits to a halt or are they active and even participating in politics with changed names?”
He rejected the narrative that the Pakistani soil is being used for terrorism, adding that “we will have to convince the world that Pakistan has nothing to do with the terrorism.”https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/09/06/khawaja-asif-admits-presence-of-terror-groups-in-pakistan/

September 7, 2017   No Comments

Pakistan among 50 worst terror financing countries: by Ahmad Noorani in The News, Sept 7, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The latest Basel Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Index figures Pakistan among the 50 worst countries in terms of money laundering and ‘terrorist financing’.

This study by a Swiss group, the Basel Institute on Governance, listing the worst countries with greater chances of money laundering and terror financing, ranks Pakistan at the 46th position among in the list 146 countries made part of study. Tax havens like some offshore jurisdictions and some other countries are not made part of this study because of non-availability of complete data about them.

The Basel Institute of Governance, which works with the public and private sector to counter corruption, released its annual Anti Money Laundering (AML) index 2017 in the third week of August and some of its findings were reported by international media.

The Basel AML Index measures the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing of countries based on publicly available sources. A total of 14 indicators dealing with AML/CFT regulations, corruption, financial standards, political disclosure and the rule of law are aggregated into one overall risk score. By combining these various data sources, the overall risk score represents a holistic assessment addressing structural as well as functional elements in the AML/CFT framework.

To date, the Basel AML Index is the only index issued by an independent, not-for-profit organisation ranking countries according to their risk of money laundering and terrorist financing. According to the introduction of the report, the results of the Basel AML Index are driven from 14 indicators using publicly available sources such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Transparency International, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum. The scores are aggregated as a composite index using a qualitative and expert-based assessment.

The Basel AML Index 2017 has given Pakistan a score of 6.64. The worst score are Iran (8.6), Afghanistan (8.38), Guinea-Bissau (8.35), Tajikistan (8.28), Laos (8.28), Mozambique (8.08), Mali (7.97), Uganda (7.95), Cambodia (7.94). These countries top the list. The best performance in effective monitoring of banking and all financial transactions, according to this study, is of Finland with a score 3.04. Thus Finland falls at the bottom of the list and ranked at position 146. Other countries with best controls and monitoring of financial transactions after Finland are; Lithuania (3.67), Estonia (3.83), Bulgaria (3.87), New Zealand (3.91), Slovenia (4.02), Denmark (3.05).

According to Basel AML Index, the Basel Institute has conducted extensive research in calculating the final results following academic best practices and has its methodology reviewed and validated by an international and independent panel of peer reviewers. The committee also checks that the rating is accurate, plausible and continues to capture the latest development in the area of AML/CFT risks.

According to the report, it is important to note and understand that there are no reliable quantitative data on money laundering available. The Basel AML Index does not measure the actual existence of money laundering activity or amount of illicit financial money within a country but is designed to indicate the risk level, i.e. the vulnerabilities of money laundering and terrorist financing within a country. Measuring the actual existence of ML or TF activity would require reliable quantitative data on these phenomena, and this is not available. The Basel AML Index ranks countries based on the overall score and provides data that is useful for comparative purposes. However, it should be pointed out that the primary objective is not to rank countries in comparison to each other. Rather, the Basel AML Index seeks to provide an overall picture of a country’s risk level and to serve as a solid starting point for examining progress over time. www.thenews.com.pk/print/228340-Pakistan-among-50-worst-terror-financing-countries

September 7, 2017   No Comments

Will the real Pervez Musharraf please stand up: by Miranda Husain in Daily Times, Sept 6, 2017

The writer is the Deputy Managing Editor, Daily Times.
Gen (rtd) Pervez Musharraf is either a wily fox gifted with a strategist’s mind. Or else he is a wily-yet-craftless opportunist, used to just winging it.

He has, of course, been charged by an Anti-Terrorist Court in connection with Benazir Bhutto’s murder. Yet he is presently in self-exile, safe in the knowledge that under Pakistani law he can’t be tried in absentia. From Dubai does he sit easy, either hosting his own show on a local television channel. Or else does he lean back as he is called on by pundits and working journalists alike proffer his views on this or that, in a bid to push up ratings. This shouldn’t come as too much of surprise. After all, Musharraf has long credited himself with waving his magic wand to have Pakistan’s so-called free and independent media explode on to the scene, in all its Technicolor glory. And it seems that the fourth pillar is still unready to see this spell broken. Especially when the good general can be relied upon to talk off the cuff.

And so it was that the one-time enemy combatant waited until the very time that the ATC was handing down its first verdict in the Benazir case – something for which Pakistanis have been waiting nearly a decade – to drop a conversation changing bombshell of his own. The father of the country’s nuclear bomb, Dr AQ Khan, so the latest story goes, admitted to the former military strongman that he had been actively involved in nuclear proliferation to Iran. And that’s all we really know.

Yet it remains to be seen in the long-term, at least, whether Musharraf’s risky gamble on political deflection will pay off or spectacularly backfire. And in the event of the latter – just who will pay the price? He alone or the entire country? In the meanwhile, he has vowed to come back to fight the ATC verdict and pending charges that include murder. Now this is where it becomes unclear as to with which Musharraf we are dealing.

The country’s parliamentarians have rightly called for an independent inquiry into the claims. The Committee of the Whole House has expressed its commitment towards this end. This process must be supported. And it must also extend to former Interior minister Rehman Malik who claims to know the ins-and-outs of the proliferation deal but who has, until now, preferred to keep it under his hat.

Following this, the principled thing to do would be to have the former COAS ‘handed over’ to the IAEA. Especially given how inconceivable it is that Khan was able to act independently, without anyone else being in the know.

Yet why is Musharraf speaking out now? If the aim was to side track the ATC verdict – it appears not to have been an effective ploy. Meaning that the bombshell has proved to be rather a dud, with all eyes still firmly fixed on increasing US belligerence towards Pakistan’s anti-terror record. Not to mention the unwelcome BRICS statement in this regard.

If it is the wily fox we choose to see before us: it could be a piece of superbly choreographed patriotism. The objective being distracting the increasingly unquiet American President from the Afghan quagmire next door to a different country, a different border. After all, the latter has been warning Pakistan to do more on terror or else face the music. And, like many of us, Musharraf may be alarmed at the thought that Donald Trump may just be toying with the idea of avenging a certain American contractor. In other words, any action against Pakistan could well be conducted against the backdrop of a particular song. About kissing a girl, or someone.

Yet enter Musharraf the opportunist who may well see his ‘plan’ backfire. Like his predecessors, Trump is focusing on scape-goating Pakistan over the lack of security across the Afghan border rather than the illegal US occupation of that country. Thus Musharraf’s comments may inadvertently strengthen long-held American fears that our nuclear arsenal may fall into the wrong hands. Indeed, it was during the long years of his dictatorship that Washington was ever fearful that militants would overthrow the regime and seize their control. Indeed, the end of 2004 – the year after the military invasion next door – saw a US report leaked. This outlined how if the worst were to happen Washington would sweep in to secure Pakistan’s very own weapons of mass destruction. Sadly, the White House failed to make the connection between a possibly beleaguered military strongman who was viewed at home as little more than an American asset and the ‘legitimacy’ that this afforded to anti-state forces here in this country.

This all being said, how feasible would it be for Musharraf to ‘hand himself over’ the IAEA? After all he would be unable to return now; not without finding himself in the firing line once again, with those aforementioned anti-state forces having their fingers firmly on the trigger. There are, after all, those who believe that the red-line that Benazir dared to cross was pledging to grant the nuclear watchdog access to Khan if returned to power.

Does this mean that, in theory at least, we are faced with a stark choice? Do we have to sacrifice seeing Musharraf brought to account for the crimes that the ATC finds him guilty of in the Benazir murder case? That is, if we want him to disclose to the relevant international authority everything he knows about proliferation to Iran. If this was his strategic gamble all along – then it was a card well played. This also poses the chance for Musharraf to suddenly try on for size the mantle of elder statesman, however ill-fitting that may be. Meaning he could go voluntarily to the IAEA in a bid to blunt the growing contrast between a responsible nuclear India and an increasingly rogue nuclear Pakistan.

But then what if the real Musharraf stands up and we find ourselves confronted by the craftless opportunist? What if this were simply a ruse to increase American pressure on Iran? After all, back in 2006, according to a WikiLeaks cable, the former COAS took it upon himself to urge the Tehran leadership to roll back its nuclear programme, which was making things difficult for its neighbours including Pakistan. The cable goes on to disclose the then Foreign minister revealing the main source of pressure: namely that Musharraf was keen to have Pakistan remain the only Muslim nation with the bomb. That this was in the aftermath of renewed interest in the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline may or may not be significant. Fast-forward to today and he could simply be doing his bit to strengthen the so-called Muslim NATO that appears to already have Iran in its sights.

One thing is sure. Whichever Musharraf prevails – Pakistan had better be prepared for the fallout. http://dailytimes.com.pk/features/06-Sep-17/will-the-real-pervez-musharraf-please-stand-up

September 7, 2017   No Comments

Pakistan must change its approach to terrorism, says US

by Anwar Iqbal in Dawn, September 7th, 2017
WASHINGTON: While encouraging members of the BRICS alliance to continue playing a constructive role in stabilising the world, the United States reminded Pakistan on Wednesday that it “must change its approach” to terrorism.

At a recent meeting leaders of members of the alliance — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — called for an immediate end to violence in Afghanistan.

For the first time, BRICS termed militant groups allegedly based in Pakistan a regional security concern and called for their patrons to be held to account.

“We encourage the BRICS Forum to contribute constructively to global governance and stability,” said a spokesperson for the US State Department when asked to comment on the BRICS statement.

The US official also welcomed BRICS’ condemnation of North Korea’s recent nuclear test and then reminded Pakistan of the need to fight all militant groups operating in the South Asian region, including those that Washington claims are based in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

“As the (Trump) administration has said, Pakistan must change its approach. We look to the Pakistani government to take decisive action against militant groups based in Pakistan that are a threat to the region,” the State Department added.

The groups mentioned in the BRICS statement included the Afghan Tali­ban, militant Islamic State group, Al Qaeda and its affiliates, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Teh­reek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Hizbut Tahrir.

Some of them are based in Afghanistan and use their bases for launching attacks into Pakistan. On Dec 16, 2014, one of them — TTP — raided a school in Peshawar and killed 141 people, including 132 children.
www.dawn.com/news/1356118/pakistan-must-change-its-approach-to-terrorism-says-us

September 7, 2017   No Comments

Levies officer shot dead: report in Dawn, September 7th, 2017

GWADAR: Unidentified attackers shot dead the In-charge of Levies Station in the Hoshab area of Kech district on Wednesday night.

Muhammad Saleem, son of Jalal Khan, was attacked when he was coming to office from his home in Sangabad area of Hoshab town, Levies’ officials said.

The armed men, riding a motorcycle, opened fire, killing the Levies officer on the spot, the officials said, adding that the attackers escaped from the area after the attack.
https://www.dawn.com/news/1356163/levies-officer-shot-dead

September 7, 2017   No Comments

Move to hand over students’ record to spy bodies opposed

by Amir Wasim in Dawn, September 7th, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani has opposed the proposed move to hand over the record of Karachi University students to intelligence agencies and the requirement under which they will have to produce character certificates to be obtained from the police station concerned at the time of admission.

Mr Rabbani expressed concern over the reported move by the authorities concerned through a letter written to the vice chancellor of Karachi University.

Mr Rabbani, however, in his letter stated that he was writing to the VC as “a concerned citizen of Pakistan” and not in his capacity of Senate chairman.

“I am abhorred by news reports that the record of students at the university will be handed over to the intelligence agencies. Fur­ther they will be required to produce a character certificate from the local police station for admission,” Mr Rabbani writes in the letter, contents of which were released to the media by the Senate secretariat.

“These two institutions are the hard face of the state and an interaction with them will further consolidate the anxiety and fear in the minds of the students,” Mr Rabbani says in the letter.

“Immediate steps are required to address the issue of extremism and violence in the youth; a total review of the curriculum and implementation of the Senate of Pakistan’s resolution on restoring students unions, as diverse literary and academic activity will produce a counter paradigm,” Mr Rabbani says in the letter which he had sent to the VC hours before his departure for the United Kingdom on a private visit.

“I hope you will convey my views to the academic authorities, taking the decision in this regard,” the Senate chairman concludes in the letter.

The Karachi University’s management has reportedly decided to share the record of its students with the intelligence agencies amid growing concerns about young individuals’ involvement in militancy and terrorism.

The decision had reportedly been taken in an emergency meeting of the KU’s Academic Council which was presided over by VC Professor Dr Mohammad Ajmal Khan and it would be approved in the next meeting of the council. The meeting had also reportedly reviewed a proposal about police character certificate for students.

Earlier, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had announced that a security audit and verification of students would be undertaken in each educational institute “to ascertain if they are breeding terrorists” after it was revealed that a former student of KU was involved in an assassination attempt on MQM-P leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan.
https://www.dawn.com/news/1356144/move-to-hand-over-students-record-to-spy-bodies-opposed

September 7, 2017   No Comments