Random header image... Refresh for more!

Category — AF-PAK

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

US mulling dropping Pakistan as an ally: UK publication

report i n the Express Tribune, Sept 16, 2017
The Trump administration is considering dropping Pakistan as an ally as it examines tough measures to quell more than 20 terrorist groups it says are based in the country, a UK publication had reported.

Financial Times reported that officials familiar with the Pakistan prong of Washington’s new “AfPak” strategy — which involves an open-ended commitment in Afghanistan and praise for India — say it has yet to be fleshed out. But they have plenty of levers.

President Donald Trump last month promised to get tough on Pakistan, accusing it of “housing the very terrorists that we are fighting”.

The administration has already put $255 million in military aid on hold after Trump announced the policy shift. It is eyeing an escalating series of threats, which include cutting some civilian aid, conducting unilateral drone strikes on Pakistani soil and imposing travel bans on officers of the ISI, the country’s intelligence agency.

It could also revoke Pakistan’s status as a major non-Nato ally or designate it a state sponsor of terrorism. The latter options would limit weapons sales and probably affect billions of dollars in IMF and World Bank loans, along with access to global finance.

Relations are expected to take a further blow from US efforts to forge closer ties with rival India.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said this week it was “unfair” to blame his country for troubles in Afghanistan, adding that the US should have greater respect for its efforts to combat militancy. Ryan Crocker, former US ambassador to Pakistan in the wake of 9/11, says Pakistan resents the wild oscillations in support from the US.

“They went from our most allied of allies to our most sanctioned of sanctioned,” he said, recalling that the US worked with Pakistan to defeat Soviet Russia during the 1980s Afghanistan invasion but, once it had won, cut aid and imposed sanctions over its emergent nuclear programme. “Their narrative about us is here today, gone tomorrow and it has deeply affected their strategic thinking.” https://tribune.com.pk/story/1508324/us-mulling-dropping-pakistan-ally-uk-publication/

September 18, 2017   No Comments

Torkham border crossing closed after twin blasts

by Ibrahim Shinwari in Dawn, September 16th, 2017
LANDI KOTAL: Six security personnel and three civilians were injured in two grenade attacks near the Pak-Afghan border crossing at Torkham on Friday.

The border crossing was immediately closed to traffic and pedestrian movement following the twin blasts, which were carried out from the Afghan side of the border, said officials.

Khyber Agency Political Agent Khalid Mehmud told Dawn that footage of closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) installed at Torkham confirmed that two grenades were hurled by unidentified men from across the Afghan border.

“One of the grenades exploded at the Frontier Corps (FC) centre close to the border’s zero-point, while the other landed on the main road nearby,” he said, adding that six FC men and three civilians, including a child, were injured.

Mr Mehmud said the injuries were not of serious nature and four of the victims were discharged from the hospital after medical assistance.

The injured FC personnel were identified as Lance Naik Amanullah and sepoys Salman Ali, Lateef, Abdul Jalal, Zia and Faheemullah.

Names of the injured civilians could not be known, but it was learned that an Afghan national on the other side of the border was also injured in the attacks.

The Torkham border security officials imposed a curfew at the border and surrounding areas while restricting movement of Afghans to Peshawar and other cities.

Political Agent Mehmud, Commandant of Khyber Rifles Col Farrukh Humayun and other security and administrative officials reached Torkham to oversee security arrangements at the border.

Following the twin grenade blasts, officials of both countries held a brief meeting in which they agreed to take tough security measures to prevent cross-border attacks in future.

The Afghan officials were informed about the possible involvement of Afghan nationals in the attacks as was revealed in the CCTV footage.

Officials said a decision regarding reopening of the border would be taken on Saturday (today) after consultations with higher authorities in Islamabad. https://www.dawn.com/news/1358050/torkham-border-crossing-closed-after-twin-blasts

September 16, 2017   No Comments

US conduct first airstrike in Pakistan after new strategy declaration

By Khaama Press – Sat Sep 16 2017, 11:07 am
At least three Afghan Taliban members were killed in an airstrike in the tribal regions of Pakistan in what appears to be the first US drone strike after the announcement of the new US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia.

According to the local officials, the airstrike was carried out in the vicinity of Kurram Agency in the tribal regions of the country.

The officials further added that an unmanned aerial vehicle fired missiles on a gathering of the Taliban insurgents.

According to the officials, at least three of the militants were killed and two others were wounded in the attack.

The identities of those killed in the airstrike have not been ascertained so far with the Taliban group yet to comment regarding the raid.

This comes as the Afghan and US officials have long been criticizing Islamabad for remaining reckless to act against the Taliban and Haqqani terrorist network sanctuaries as they claim that the leadership councils of the two groups are based in the key cities of Pakistan from where they plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan, including some of the deadly attacks on US forces.

While announcing the new US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia last month, the US President Donald Trump strongly criticized Pakistan regarding the terror sanctuaries, saying “For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror. The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict. And that could happen.” www.khaama.com/us-conduct-first-airstrike-in-pakistan-after-new-strategy-declaration-03449

September 16, 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.

September 7, 2017   No Comments

Pakistani insurgent among 4 Taliban blown up by own explosives in Kunduz

By KHAAMA PRESS – Thu Aug 31 2017, 8:04 pm
At least four insurgent including a Pakistani national were killed after an Improvised Explosive Device went off prematurely in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan.
The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan National Army in the North said the incident has taken place in the vicinity of Imam Sahib district.
The Shaheen Corps officials said the militants were attempting to prepare the Improvised Explosive Device to be placed on a roadside when it went off.
The officials further added that a Pakistani national who was involved in the engineering works of the roadside bombs was also among those killed.
The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.
The anti-government armed militant groups frequently use explosives materials for the roadside bombings and car bombings to target the government staff and security personnel.
However, in majority of such incidents the ordinary civilians are targeted besides such bombings incur casualties to the security personnel and in some cases the Taliban militants themselves are killed or wounded.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in its latest reported highlighted that 40 per cent of all civilian casualties during the six-month period were killed or injured by anti-government forces using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), such as suicide bombs and pressure-plate devices, which were responsible for the deaths of 596 civilians and injured 1,483.http://www.khaama.com/pakistani-insurgent-among-4-taliban-blown-up-by-own-explosives-in-kunduz-03360

September 1, 2017   No Comments

Islamabad fears Kabul may block goods supply to ECO states

By Zafar Bhutta in the Express Tribune,August 30, 2017
ISLAMABAD: As the diplomatic row escalates, Pakistan voices fear that Afghanistan may create hurdles to prevent the use of its territory for goods transportation to member states of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) and European countries.

At present, Pakistan and China are executing a $57-billion economic corridor project. In the wake of this, Pakistan is exploring the option of connecting to the Central Asian states via land routes.

Earlier, Pakistan and Tajikistan were desirous of signing a transit trade agreement with Afghanistan, but the latter was hesitant and demanded inclusion of India in the agreement. However, Pakistan dismissed the demand, saying India could not be part of the deal unless it improved diplomatic ties.

Pakistan is a signatory of the ECO Transit Transport Framework Agreement (TTFA), which came into force on May 19, 2006. Its objectives include development and maintenance of mutually beneficial transit transport arrangements for regional and international trade.

However, Pakistan, along with Afghanistan, has so far not accepted the Convention on the Contract for International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR) while other ECO member states are party to the agreement.

Without accession to the CMR and the regulatory framework, the transportation of goods by Pakistani vehicles via land routes to the ECO member states and European countries will not be permissible.

In a meeting held on August 4, sources said, cabinet members emphasised that all the authorities concerned, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all provinces backed Pakistan’s accession to the CMR convention, 1978.

They cautioned that the move would not bear fruit if Kabul did not accept the convention, which would create hurdles to the use of land routes linking with Central Asia and Europe.

The cabinet members felt that more consultation needed to be undertaken and put off decision on the critical issue at a time when Pakistan’s exports had weakened steadily.

In the first four years of the current government, exports of the country dipped around $4 billion, prompting the government to aggressively explore markets of Central Asia and Russia, which were energy and trade hubs.

Pakistan is close to Central Asia that may become a gateway to Russia and Europe. However, there is no land connection, making it difficult for Pakistan to gain access to markets of these countries.

ECO is an inter-governmental regional organisation established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey for promoting economic, technical and cultural cooperation. Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan later joined the bloc.

All ECO member states, except for Uzbekistan, signed the TTFA in May 1998. It is a broad-based agreement with eight protocols approved by the 3rd ECO ministerial meeting on transport and communications held in Islamabad in April 2000.

These are pertaining to road, rail and inland water transportation, motor vehicles including third-party policy insurance, customs control and terms of reference for the Transit Transport Coordination Council.https://tribune.com.pk/story/1494406/islamabad-fears-kabul-may-block-goods-supply-eco-states/

August 30, 2017   No Comments

The Danger of a Jihadist Pakistan:op-ed by John Bolton in The Wall St Journal, Aug. 28, 2017 6:54 p.m. ET

( Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad”)
Almost certainly, the war in Afghanistan will be won or lost in Pakistan. President Trump’s announcement last week that he will send more U.S. troops—some sources say another 4,000—to Afghanistan represents a change in tactics from President Obama’s policy. But the ultimate objective is still opaque, and even once the specifics are articulated, what may ultimately matter more is the still-undeveloped “South Asia policy” promised by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

That means dealing with Pakistan. Islamabad has provided financial and military aid, including privileged sanctuaries, to the Taliban, the Haqqani network, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Islamic State, al Qaeda and other malefactors, allowing them not just to survive but flourish. President Trump rightly says this must stop and is encouraging Pakistan’s principal adversary, India, to increase its economic assistance to Afghanistan.

But the task isn’t so straightforward. The Bush and Obama administrations also criticized Pakistan’s support for terrorists, without effect. Putting too much pressure on Pakistan risks further destabilizing the already volatile country, tipping it into the hands of domestic radical Islamicists, who grow stronger by the day.

Peter Tomsen, a former State Department regional expert, once described Pakistan as the only government he knew consisting simultaneously of arsonists and firefighters—often the same people, depending on the situation. Pakistan has teetered on the edge of collapse ever since it was created in the 1947 partition of British India. Its civilian governments have too often been corrupt, incompetent or both. The ouster last month of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif —he stepped down after the Supreme Court disqualified him for not having been “honest”—is no reassurance. If anything, it shows the judiciary’s excessive politicization, which further weakens constitutional governance.

Islamabad’s military, sometimes called the country’s “steel skeleton,” is equally problematic. It recalls the old remark about Prussia: Whereas other countries have armies, Pakistan’s army has a country. The military is also becoming increasingly radicalized, with Islamicists already in control of its intelligence services and now working their way through the ranks of the combat branches.

In this unstable environment, blunt pressure by the U.S.—and, by inference, India—could backfire. Just as America must stay engaged in Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban and other terrorists from retaking control, it is also imperative to keep Islamabad from falling under the sway of radical Islamicists. Hence the danger of inadvertently strengthening their hand by supplying a convenient narrative of overt U.S. dominion. Such a blunder might help Pakistan’s radicals seize power even as the U.S. battles terrorists in Afghanistan.

Remember that Pakistan has been a nuclear state for nearly two decades. The gravest threat is that its arsenal of nuclear warheads, perhaps up to 100 of them, would fall into radical hands. The U.S. would instantly face many times the dangers posed by nuclear Iran or North Korea.

If American pressure were enough to compel Pakistan to act decisively against the terrorists within its borders, that would have happened long ago. What President Trump needs is a China component to his nascent South Asia policy, holding Beijing accountable for the misdeeds that helped create the current strategic dangers.

Of all the external actors, China bears primary responsibility for Pakistan’s and North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. For its own strategic reasons, China gave both countries direct financial, scientific and technological assistance and then flew political cover at the United Nations and elsewhere. Empowering Islamabad was a hedge against India, China’s biggest threat in South Asia. Helping Pyongyang was a play against the U.S. and its Asian allies. (And, increasingly, against the wider world, since North Korea appears to have sold its technology.)

In both cases China recklessly disregarded the risks of proliferation and breached its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. By comparison, Beijing’s flagrant violations of its World Trade Organization commitments are trifles. China was hardly unaware that Pakistan has fostered and aided Islamic terrorists in Kashmir, threatening Indian control. Yet Beijing has done nothing to stop it, thus indirectly keeping Indo-Pakistani relations tense.

China has also made Pakistan a considerable beneficiary of the massive transportation infrastructure and other projects related to its “One Belt, One Road” initiative. Clearly Beijing intends to bind Islamabad ever more tightly into its modern-day “co-prosperity sphere.”

It must, therefore, be core American policy to hold China to account, even belatedly. The U.S. can use its leverage to induce China to join the world in telling Pakistan it must sever ties with terrorists and close their sanctuaries. The Trump administration should make clear that Beijing will face consequences if it does not bring to bear its massive interests in support of this goal. Washington could also point out that this is in Beijing’s own interest, lest the terrorists rise next among the Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province, what was once “East Turkestan.”

Whether Beijing truly intends to be a “responsible stakeholder” in international affairs, as its U.S. advocates insist, should be put to the test—and not merely on monetary and trade issues. Fighting international terrorism and nuclear proliferation requires determination and action, not the kind of smiling repetition of bumper-sticker phrases that the People’s Liberation Army and China’s political leadership blithely ignore.

Starting now in Afghanistan and Pakistan, China should be told its bona fides as a state engaging in a “peaceful rise” are on the line. If real proof of that conceit does not emerge, Washington will be entitled to draw the appropriate conclusions. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-danger-of-a-jihadist-pakistan-1503960880

August 29, 2017   No Comments

Two Pak Army soldiers martyred in blast near Afghanistan

Report in The Nation, August 28, 2017, 8:28 pm
Two soldiers were martyred when a bomb went off during a military search operation in a tribal region near the border with Afghanistan, the military said Monday. The attack came as Afghan and Pakistan army chiefs met in neighboring Tajikistan.

A military statement said the Pakistani troops were conducting the search in the Angur Adda area, close to the border, when the bomb went off late on Sunday night.

Pakistan has carried out several military operations against militants in South Waziristan and elsewhere in recent years. The Army says it’s now clearing up remaining pockets in areas once used by militants as sanctuaries.http://nation.com.pk/national/28-Aug-2017/two-pak-army-soldiers-martyred-in-blast-near-afghanistan

August 29, 2017   No Comments