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Category — AF-PAK

‘Peace committee’ slaps Taliban-style curbs on Wana

Report in Dawn, November 15th, 2017
WANA: A faction of the Taliban has apparently made a comeback to Wana, South Waziristan Agency, under the guise of a peace committee and placed a ban on cultural and social activities and put restrictions on movement of women outside their homes without male members of their family.

The so-called peace committee has issued tough guidelines through pamphlets in Wana town and warned local people to abide by these rules otherwise violators would face repercussions, according to sources.

The committee has banned music, athan, a traditional dance which is performed in wedding ceremonies or other festive occasions, and use of narcotics.

According to the committee’s guidelines, those activities which promote immorality or violate Islamic teachings would not be permitted on these occasions.

Movement of women outside their homes has been restricted. The pamphlets said that women would not be allowed to visit market and clinic or faith healers without adult male members of their family, including husbands and brothers.

Salahuddin alias Ayubi, a successor of Mullah Muhammad Nazir — an influential Taliban leader — heads the committee.

Mullah Nazir was killed along with his 10 associates in a US drone strike in the Birmil area of South Wazi­ristan Agency in January 2013.

South Waziristan Agency became a hotbed of Talibanisation in 2003 that spilled over to other tribal agencies of Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Local leaders of various Taliban factions had established parallel administration in the area.

Nek Muhammad emerged as the leader of these factions. Security forces carried out multiple operations in the area to crush Taliban and establish the writ of the state. Finally Nek Muhammad signed a peace deal with the government in Shakai. He was killed in a missile attack in 2004.

According to the pamphlets, residents are not allowed to stay outside their homes at public places after 10pm. This step would prevent disturbance and noise in the area, it said.

A leaflet issued by the peace committee claimed that elders and Ulema of Karikot, Ghwa Khwa, Sha­heen Warsak, Doog, Dabb Koat, Zari Noor and Sherna had agreed to these steps.

A committee comprising elders and Ulema has been set up to ensure implementation of the ‘code of conduct’ and to identify violators of the guidelines. A local cleric, identified as Ameer Ainullah, has been appointed head of the committee.

The secretary of Fata’s law and order, Hassan Mehmood Yousafzai, when approached in Peshawar, expressed ignorance about the activities of the peace committee in Wana. “I do not have such reports. The political agent is in a better position to talk about the matter,” he said.

Political Agent Zafar Islam and other officials of the administration were not available to comment on the matter.

Fresh displacement

Meanwhile, the Fata Disaster Management Authority has confirmed fresh displacement of civilians from Shaktoi area of South Waziristan Agency.

The displacement took place when the authorities are planning to send all internally displaced persons (IDPs) back to their homes in Fata. Around 17,000 displaced families mostly belonging to North Waziristan, South Waziristan and Khyber agencies are waiting for their return.

An official of the authority told Dawn in Peshawar that 208 families had been displaced from Shaktoi area that belonged to Mehsud tribe. He said that these families were evacuated when security forces launched operation in the area adjacent to North Waziristan Agency.

The official said that displaced families had been settled at Bakakhel Camp in Frontier Region Bannu where all basic facilities, including cooked food were being provided. The army has been managing the camp which was established for IDPs of North Waziristan Agency after the launching of Zarb-i-Azb military operation in June, 2014.

“Newly displaced families would be returned to their homes very soon,” said the official, but declined to give a specific date for their return.https://www.dawn.com/news/1370585/peace-committee-slaps-taliban-style-curbs-on-wana

November 15, 2017   No Comments

Kabul seeks JUI-S chief’s help as Taliban attacks kill over 200

by Tahir Khan in Daily Times, October 23rd 2017
ISLAMABAD: Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal Sunday sought JUI-S chief Maulana Sami ul Haq’s help for peace in Afghanistan as a series of deadly attacks killed nearly 200 people and injured scores others in recent days.

Ambassador Zakhilwal, who is also special presidential envoy for Pakistan, travelled to Akora Khattak on Sunday to meet Maulana Sami ul Haq, who is often dubbed as ‘Father of the Taliban’ by West, and press him to play his role in persuading the Taliban to join the peace process. “Afghan ambassador told Maulana that the Afghan government is ready for peace negotiations and also to knock any door to achieve the goal of durable peace in Afghanistan,” a statement issued by Darul Uloom Haqqania said.

It is believed that many Afghan Taliban leaders have studied at Darul Uloom Haqqania and that Maulana Sami ul Haq enjoys some influence on them.

It was ambassador Zakhilwal’s third visit to the seminary in recent months. However, Maulana is yet to play any active role in Afghan peace and reconciliation process.

During a previous visit by the Afghan ambassador, President Ashraf Ghani had also spoken to the Maulana and also invited him to visit Kabul.

Series of Taliban attacks on army and police centres in a sudden surge in violence has posed a serious threat to the ongoing diplomatic efforts to find out a peaceful solution to the conflict.

In what is widely considered a naïve approach, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid described surge in attacks as an ‘angry reaction’ to President Donald Trump’s strategy for Afghanistan.

The Taliban attacks in Kabul, Kandahar, Paktia and Ghazni, the Daesh-claimed suicide bombing of Shia mosque in Kabul and an unclaimed attack at a Shia mosque in central Ghor province have claimed lives of over 200 security forces personnel and civilians.

The attacks took place after the recent meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the US in Muscat, Oman, after a break of nearly one-and-half years.

Taliban defended all these attacks as ‘revenge’ of the US recent bombings in Afghanistan. President Ghani, however, described the Taliban attacks as ‘political defeat’ of the armed opponents of the government.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Daily Times that “policy of Donald Trump has angered the Taliban and attacks against the enemy can further increase.”

“The Kabul administration was upbeat at the US new strategy and they thought everything would be fine. But they are mistaken,” he said in response to questions posted on his official WhatsApp number.

When asked about killing of Afghans in Taliban attacks instead of foreigners, Mujahid said, “Servants of Kabul administration are engaged in the defence of the Americans.”

To a question about the fate of political negotiations, he said there was no change in Taliban’s stance about the talks.

Taliban have refused to hold talks with the Afghan government and say they want dialogue with the US first to talk to them about the withdrawal of the foreign forces.https://dailytimes.com.pk/129146/kabul-seeks-jui-s-chiefs-help-taliban-attacks-kill-200/

October 23, 2017   No Comments

Has Pakistan changed tack on the Haqqanis?

By Kamran Yousaf in The Express Tribune, Oct 11, 2017
ISLAMABAD: The Afghan Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network has been a major source of friction between Pakistan and the United States for years. Washington is far from convinced that Islamabad has abandoned its support to the insurgent group, despite Pakistan taking full control of North Waziristan Agency (NWA), which was once considered the headquarters of the Haqqani Network.

In order to substantiate Pakistan’s claim that it is not playing a ‘double game’, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Monday disclosed that Pakistan had offered the US an option to carry out joint operations against the Haqqanis if any of their ‘sanctuaries’ were found on Pakistani soil.

The development is seen as significant as Pakistan has long maintained that it cannot allow foreign boots on its soil and that it would never allow the Afghan war to be fought within its frontiers.

But the latest statement by the Foreign Minister appears to signal a shift in Pakistan’s stance. So has Pakistan changed its policy towards the Haqqanis?

On previous occasions when both Washington and Kabul pressed Pakistan to act against the alleged Haqqani sanctuaries, Islamabad contended that such a decision had to be taken with consensus by the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG).

The QCG involving Pakistan, Afghanistan, the US and China, was formed to work towards a political solution to the Afghan conflict. Pakistani officials in the past emphasized that the QCG had agreed that any option of use of force would be exercised as a last resort.

Also, on several occasions during background briefings by security and foreign office officials, the impression was made that Pakistan was opposed to getting dragged into the never-ending conflict in Afghanistan.

This policy was reiterated when Pakistan gave a detailed rejoinder to President Donald Trump’s strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia in August. The official statement clearly stated that Pakistan would not fight the Afghan war on its soil.

There has been no reaction to Asif’s statement from the army, which holds sway on such policy decisions. But the foreign minister – who was previously the defence minister – would certainly not have made such a statement off the cuff. The strategy must have been discussed and debated between civil and military authorities, according to observers.

But defence analyst Lieutenant General (retd) Amjad Shoaib is sceptical whether the military leadership was on board with the statement given by Asif.

Gen Shoaib, who is still closely connected with the military establishment, warned that the foreign minister’s statement would have negative implications for Pakistan.

“Making such an offer means that, in a way, you are admitting that there are safe havens on our soil,” he said. “This is contrary to our stated policy.”

A senior foreign office official dismissed the notion that Pakistan had changed its policy. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official explained that the foreign minister said Pakistan simply offered the option of joint operations “provided they found any sanctuaries on our soil”.

“Our position is very clear that there are no more terrorist safe havens on Pakistan soil and therefore no question will arise of any joint venture,” the official insisted.

At a recent media briefing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) DG Major General Asif Ghafoor had said that no terrorist outfit had an “organised presence” in Pakistan.

But Rustam Shah Mohmand, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, believes that it appears Pakistan is buckling under US pressure. “The foreign minister’s statement does not make any sense,” Shah told The Express Tribune.

He said there was no point of making such an offer to the US or Afghanistan when Pakistan had already maintained that there were no safe havens of any terrorist groups on its soil.

Asif’s statement, according to analysts, seemingly also contradicts Pakistan’s stated policy that use of force cannot lead to a peaceful end to the 16-year long conflict in Afghanistan.https://tribune.com.pk/story/1528050/pakistan-changed-tack-haqqanis/

October 11, 2017   No Comments

Jhal Magsi and western border : edit in Daily Times, October 6th 2017.

The terrorists have struck again. And they have struck an institution known for its promotion of values of tolerance and diversity. Jhal Magsi’s Dargah Pir Rakhel Shah is the second shrine to have come under attack of terrorists this year.

Notwithstanding the efforts of the security forces in the on-going fight against terrorism,

Thursday’s suicide attack raises several important questions.

Coincidentally, the DG ISPR addressed the media on the same day and, among other information , he revealed that no terrorist outfit has an organised base in the country anymore. If that is the case, then the suicide bomber is likely to have travelled all the way to Jhal Magsi — centrally located in Balochistan — from across the western border which is at quite some distance from the district. That the attacker managed to do that without being caught in a province that has seen massive deployment of forces over the years needs to be examined and responsibility fixed in the matter.

Intuitively, it would seem that an increased presence of the forces should come with an improvement in law and order. But there is little information about the state of affairs in the province that makes its way to the mainstream press, rendering an objective assessment of the ground situation almost impossible.

While the authorities investigate the scene of the attack and track down the perpetrators, it is also important that they share information about progress in investigations with the media.

In the press conference, Major General Asif Ghafoor also told the media that about 50 percent of the Afghan territory is no longer in Kabul’s control, and this is leaving vast swathes of territory open to non-state actors, one of whom could be responsible for Thursday attack. If the assessment is accurate, it should be pursued rigorously with all states concerned with the Afghan situation. That will be in the best possible interest of Pakistan. We should work with regional and global powers to ensure that the government in Kabul is able to control entire territory of Afghanistan. This will deny any room to non-state actors whose ill-designs have cost us, as well as the region, dearly. http://dailytimes.com.pk/editorial/06-Oct-17/jhal-magsi-and-western-border

October 6, 2017   No Comments

Pak can have economic benefits from India by ending terror safe havens: US defence secretary

PTI report in The Times of India, Oct 5, 2017
WASHINGTON: Pakistan can have strong economic benefits from India if it realises that the “tide has shifted” and stop providing safe havens to terrorists on its soil, US defence secretary Jim Mattis has said.

Mattis told members of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday that the Trump administration is being very clear and firm in what it expects from Pakistan and is using all aspects of the government to bring about the change, working internationally.

His statement comes weeks after President Donald Trump announced his Afghanistan and South Asia policy in which he adopted a tough policy against Pakistan. It also came ahead of Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Asif’s talks with secretary of state Rex Tillerson and other top officials of the Trump administration.

“There are a number of lines of effort being put together now in Secretary of Treasury’s office, Secretary of State’s office, my own office, the intel agencies. We are also working with Secretary General Stoltenberg to ensure that NATO’s equities are brought to bear,” Mattis said responding to a question on why would Pakistan change its mind on terrorist safe havens this time.

Certainly, India has a role to play as a neighbour, and potentially a very strong economic benefit to Pakistan, if Pakistan can find a way to carry out its international responsibilities and end any kind of safe haven inside their country, he noted.

“There’s a great deal that Pakistan can benefit economically, diplomatically, financially for its government; economically for its people; by finally sensing that the tide has shifted against this,” Mattis said.

He said that the Trump administration believes that it would be highly difficult to sustain any stabilisation in South Asia, not just in Afghanistan, but certainly anywhere around Pakistan and India unless safe havens are removed.

Mattis was responding to questions from lawmakers who wanted to know why the administration believes that Pakistan will change its behaviour this time.

Trump has said that he would change the US approach to Pakistan, which continues to harbour militants and terrorists who target US service members and officials, said Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“But we still do not know what specific steps the United States will take to convince or compel Pakistan to change its behaviour, or what costs we will impose if Pakistan fails to do so,” McCain said.

Indeed, McCain said it is unclear to him if the administration believes any step or series of steps the United States might take will lead Pakistan to cease its support and sanctuary for certain terrorist groups, which has been a “feature of” its national security policy for decades.

Ranking Member Senator Jack Reed said if the mission in Afghanistan is to be successful, it is imperative to disrupt the external sanctuaries in Pakistan, which continue to provide the Taliban, the Haqqani network and other associated groups the ability to train, recruit, rest, refit and stage attacks without significant fear of interference.

“We have heard that the administration intends to change the relationship with Pakistan in order to compel action that supports our efforts in Afghanistan,” Reed said as he sought details of tools available to press Pakistan to make more progress on these issues.

Pakistan, Mattis said has a “convoluted history” with terrorism. There can be little doubt that there have been terrorist groups that have used Pakistan as a haven for attacks outwardly, and not just towards Afghanistan.

“We’ve seen the attacks on India, as well. At the same time, probably few nations, perhaps none, have lost as many troops fighting terrorists as they have,” he said.

October 5, 2017   No Comments

Arrests since 9/11 show al-Qaeda maintaining presence in Karachi: report

by Zia Ur Rehman in The News, Oct 3, 2017
Karachi: The statistics compiled about the arrest of suspects affiliated with al-Qaeda in Karachi since the 9/11 attacks in the United States suggest that the global jihadi outfit has been able to maintain its presence in the metropolis. Although the number of high-profile al-Qaeda members arrested in Karachi dropped after the first few years following 9/11, the number of the militant outfit’s arrest actions in Karachi – as well as the al-Qaeda individuals arrested there – has picked up since the group formally created al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) in September 2014.

This was the crux of a research report titled ‘al-Qaeda in Pakistan: A metric problem?’, published in a special edition of the CTC Sentinel, a publication of the US military academic institution, analysing al-Qaeda in past 16 years since 9/11.

Reviewing the statistics containing information on 102 al-Qaeda arrest actions taken between September 12, 2001, and May 31, 2017 in Karachi, the report said 300 suspects associated with the global militant outfit had been arrested in various parts of the city during the period. Also, over that period of time, Pakistani law enforcement and security forces conducted more than five al-Qaeda arrest actions in Karachi every year on average. This roughly equated to Pakistani security forces engaging in at least one, publicly identifiable, al-Qaeda arrest action in Karachi every other month on average for a 15-year period, the report added.

The report also noted a concerning trend – a rise in incidents and the number of al-Qaeda operatives arrested between 2013 and 2016 in Karachi — and it was mainly because of the formation of AQIS in September 2014. “The number of arrest actions and the number of al-Qaeda suspects arrested in Karachi from 2015 to 2016 nearly tripled and increased almost six-fold, respectively. Put another way, since the creation of AQIS until the end of 2016, there have been 24 arrest actions resulting in the arrest of 88 individuals.”

Breaking down the al-Qaeda arrests at district level, the report ranked Malir and East with the highest number of arrest actions (19 incidents, 26.7 per cent of the total) for each
district, followed by Central (nine incidents, 12.7 per cent), West (six incidents, 8.5 per cent), South (six incidents, 8.5 per cent), Korangi and Cantonment areas (four incidents each, with each representing 5.6 percent of the total).

Malir police on September 28 claimed to have killed five suspects, who were apparently planning to attack a Muharram procession by using a remote-controlled vehicle, in an alleged shootout off the Super Highway. One among the killed was an AQIS member, police claimed.

Measured as a percentage of all al-Qaeda arrest actions across all districts in Karachi, the neighborhood of Gulshan-e-Iqbal in the East district, accounted for 11.5 per cent. Another interesting takeaway from the data is that three of the four cantonments’ arrest actions took place in territory managed by the Defense Housing Authority, the report stated.

Discussing the various factors making Karachi an attractive location for al-Qaeda to operate in, it said the country’s financial and commercial hub as well as its size and the diversity found in it attracted global jihadi groups, such as al-Qaeda. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/234032-Arrests-since-911-show-al-Qaeda-maintaining-presence-in-Karachi-report

October 3, 2017   No Comments

Growing Influence Of IS: edit in the Nation, September 27, 2017

One of the major denials of the government of Pakistan has always been the insurgency in Baluchistan, and the growing influence of the so called Islamic State (IS) in that region and across the country.The earlier proof of the extremist organisation’s presence in the region was the abduction and murder of a Chinese couple in Quetta.The second incident, fairly recent, which supports their presence is the IS flag which was put up on major thoroughfare in the city of Islamabad on Sunday.

This incident in particular raises a few questions, the first being the lack of acceptance on the part of our authorities regarding Daesh’s presence in the country.When incidents are being blatantly ignored and their implications not acknowledged, this means that agenda setting and policy making for that particular issue cannot be pushed through.This kind of wilful negligence by the authorities will not only put Pakistan in a critical position, but also delay the operational efforts significantly to give IS the room to become important non-state actors in the country.While authorities contend that such acts are conducted by self-styled sympathisers and do not denote a significant presence of the group in the country, such brazen acts tell another story.

At the same time, this incident did not happen anywhere remote.We are talking about Islamabad; the capital of Pakistan – a city heavily guarded and monitored via surveillance mechanisms.If the people responsible for this can still get away with it; this means that the forces that we have assigned are not doing their job properly nor do they have the right setup to deal with such issues.The stringing up of IS’s black flag in the heart of Islamabad is a huge test for our police; especially with the inauguration of the Safe City Project which is supposed to monitor all activity in the city.http://nation.com.pk/editorials/27-Sep-2017/growing-influence-of-is

September 27, 2017   No Comments

Raziq Says Pakistan Positioning Insurgents Along The Durand Line

By Anisa Shahid in Tolo News, Sept 25, 2017 at 9:30 PM
Pakistan has big plans for Afghanistan, has established large insurgent training camps on both sides of the Durand Line and have stationed militants along the de facto border, Kandahar police chief General Abdul Raziq told TOLOnews on Monday.
Raziq also accused Iran, along with Pakistan, of supporting, equipping and training insurgents and said Pakistan is Afghanistan’s enemy. In line with this he called on the international community to increase pressure on Islamabad.
“They (Pakistan) have positioned terrorists on both sides of the Durand Line; they train them there and want to have control over the southern region and along Afghanistan’s shared borders with Iran and Pakistan. They want to weaken government and are involved in drug smuggling, the control of mines and with the money they earn in this way, they create terrorist centers here and finance them,” said Raziq.
According to him, Pakistan aims to transfer Quetta Council, known us Quetta Shura, to southern Helmand province where Taliban leaders and their families will be based.
Raziq said Pakistan was Afghanistan’s enemy and that the public should not expect Pakistan to let the people live in peace.
“Pakistan is our enemy and we should not expect Pakistan to let us live peacefully. The world’s policy that has been made against Pakistan should be implemented,” Raziq added.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah who was in Kandahar to launch a new solar power project told TOLOnews that insurgent safe havens should be destroyed in the region and urged Pakistan to prevent insurgents from destabilizing Afghanistan.
“All the insecurity in the region is because of the insurgent safe havens. Any country that has incorrect judgment in this regard, will pay the price,” said Abdullah.
US President Donald Trump meanwhile said when announcing his new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia that America had paid billions of dollars to Pakistan to fight terrorism, but that the country had instead provided them with shelter. http://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/raziq-says-pakistan-positioning-insurgents-along-durand-line

September 26, 2017   No Comments

First Trump, then China: as Pakistan loses support it should lose the pretence on cross-border too

By Tom Hussain in South China Morning Post, Sept 9, 2017
The writer is an Islamabad-based journalist and Pakistan affairs analyst
In 1992, when Pakistan first came under international diplomatic pressure to halt terrorist attacks on India emanating from its territory, Islamabad’s chief diplomat and the architect of its modern-day strategic alliance with China, Akram Zaki, told me: “Pakistan’s foreign policy is in a minefield without a map”. It still is.

By naming Pakistan-based terrorist groups in the declaration issued at the end of the BRICS leaders meeting in Xiamen on Monday, China has publicly reminded its all-weather ally that the time has come for it to put an end to its relationships with non-state actors.

Coming two weeks after US President Donald Trump issued a humiliating ultimatum to Islamabad, and ahead of a diplomatic support-seeking tour of Beijing, Moscow, Ankara and Tehran by Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammed Asif, the timing and multilateral context of the message is definitive.

China may be working overtime to help Pakistan negotiate a way out of a diplomatic dead end, in part to protect its multibillion-dollar “Belt and Road” investments, but the onus is on Islamabad to come to terms with the changing realities of Asian geopolitics.

The most daunting challenge for Pakistan is to come to terms with the folly of a self-defeating narrative which paints Afghanistan and India as bigger sponsors of cross-border terror than itself.

While there is considerable truth to the Pakistani assertion that dirty wars are being waged against each other by most states with a stake in the “Great Game” in Afghanistan, two wrongs do not make a right. Besides, China has stayed above the fray, making its growing role as a neutral arbiter acceptable to all.

Nor does it help Pakistan that its almighty military leaders refuse to allow a constructive introspection of their dubious policies. They reacted vindictively when leading English-language newspaper Dawn last October cited Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry as telling a meeting of civil and military leaders that China had “indicated a preference for a change in course” of Pakistan’s handling of jihadist groups.

Rather than heed Chaudhry’s advice, the military accused the government of conspiring to humiliate it and forced then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, to sack Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed for leaking the story. The newspaper was vilified as “anti-state” and social media activists critical of the military were disappeared and allegedly tortured.

They were painted as traitors and blasphemers, making them vulnerable to assassination by extremists.

But it’s one thing to force a narrative down the throats of a captive domestic audience, another to expect foreign governments, friendly or otherwise, to buy into one.

In the aftermath of the Trump ultimatum, Pakistan misinterpreted Chinese statements of moral support as unconditional backing for its untenable diplomatic position. Pakistanis were even led to believe China’s diplomatic backing would render the country immune to feared acts of American retribution for Taliban and Haqqani network attacks planned on Pakistani soil.

The falsehood of the narrative was exposed by the Xiamen declaration because its wording, rather than being a sudden change of China’s position, was a facsimile of the statement signed last December by all the participants of an India-hosted round of the “Heart of Asia” multilateral conference on Afghanistan, including China and Pakistan.

The subsequent “rejection” of the BRICS declaration by Pakistani Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan on Tuesday was another bizarre example of how denial is undermining the credibility of Islamabad’s position.

Foreign Minister Asif did well to limit the damage by countering that Pakistan should “put its own house in order rather than embarrassing its friends”.

At the heart of it all lies Pakistan’s refusal to acknowledge cross-border terrorist activity continues to be conducted from its territory. This is emblematic of the country’s lack of leadership, which is the product of the deep internal divisions created by incessant bickering between competing arms of the state.

Time and again, terrorist groups have exploited these divisions at great cost to Pakistan. The Haqqani network faction of the Afghan Taliban was largely responsible for prolonging the Pakistani Taliban insurgency in the northwest Waziristan tribal regions bordering eastern Afghanistan, described by the Obama administration as the epicentre of global terrorism. Ultimately, Pakistan had to deploy a third of its standing military to overcome them.

In turn, Afghanistan-focused militants and Pakistani Taliban insurgents have drawn support from anti-India groups in eastern Punjab province, such as Jaish-i-Mohammed and Jamaat-ud-Dawah. They cynically camouflage their terrorist credentials by posing as patriots fighting against India, whereas they have long been part of al-Qaeda’s network. Members of the groups helped Osama bin Laden take refuge in Abbottabad, where he was killed by US special forces in May 2011.

Pakistan’s decisionmakers would do well to revisit the recommendations made by an army task force of three army colonels in 1990 to disarm militants returning from the Afghan jihad against Soviet occupation.

They were overruled and had to bear the brunt of the fateful decision. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani went on to serve as Pakistan’s army chief of staff for six years at the height of the Taliban insurgency. As chairman of Pakistan’s joint chiefs of staff, Tariq Majid had to endure the kidnapping of his son-in-law by terrorists. Both foresaw that jihadis would undermine the legitimacy of Pakistan’s campaign against Indian rule in disputed Kashmir, the centrepiece of its foreign policy. Pakistan’s present army chief of staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, now faces a similar choice. www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/2110392/first-trump-then-china-pakistan-loses-support-it-should-lose

September 24, 2017   No Comments

India ‘not responsible’ for Pak-Afghan tensions, says diplomat

By Asad Zia in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2017.
PESHAWAR: The Afghan consul general in Peshawar has said that India is not responsible for failing relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Speaking at a seminar on Afghanistan International Day on Saturday, Dr Abdul Waheed Poyan said “Pakistan believes India harbours militants in Afghanistan” to destabilise its western border.

“But it is just their perception and is not true. Our relations with India have nothing to do with the Pak-Afghan relationship,” he said at the seminar organised by Regional Forum for Peace and Development at the Peshawar Press Club.

The consul general went on to say that Afghanistan, like the rest of the world intended to and had the right to maintain cordial relations with all its neighbours. “We want to have good relations with all neighbouring countries, particularly Pakistan, and we respect advice from them, not directions,” he said.

Poyan stressed the need for every citizen from both countries to play their role in maintaining inter-country relations and use their interpersonal contacts and play a positive role, instead of just depending on their politicians.

He added that maintaining peace in this region “is the need of the hour and keeping the same in mind it is pertinent for Afghanistan to have functioning relationships with all its neighbours”.

The Afghan envoy described the Pak-Afghan relations as much stronger than those shared by other countries and said that both the countries should work together to resolve issues and eliminate cross-border tensions.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan have shared history and culture, while both the countries’ people want peace. Terrorism has negatively affected the culture of both,” he said.

Committing to joint efforts for achieving sustainability and peace might help dissipate the mistrust between the two countries, he suggested. The seminar was attended by well-known Pashto poets, activists, students and politicians.

September 24, 2017   No Comments