MAP: AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN

Written by admin on Saturday, November 18th, 2017

we are out of office during the weekend

On our return on Monday we will publish our selection of articles.

Afghanistan and Pakistan

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IN THE NEWS: WHO CONTROLS WANA? (NOVEMBER 17, 2017)

Written by admin on Friday, November 17th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Who controls Wana?
SOURCE: Daily Times
Friday, November 17, 2017

After the loss of 148 innocent lives at Peshawar’s Army Public School (APS) in 2014, the leadership assured us that it was finally clear on the identity of the country’s public enemy no1. A series of military operations with fancy titles got underway in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and these gradually expanded to settled areas well.

Only in Operation Zarb-e-Azb, we lost more than 500 military men as around 5,000 were left with injuries. The most recent operation — Raddul Fassad — is still underway in Khyber Agency. The cost of these operations to the national exchequer has been in billions of rupees. But the true cost needs to factor in the hardship caused to the people of affected areas as well as the sufferings of those hit in various terrorist attacks.

On countless occasions, the country’s leadership has claimed success for these military operations, saying that thousands of square miles of territory along the Pak-Afghan region have been cleared. Despite all these assurances, we have been told this week that pamphlets are circulating in the administrative headquarters of the South Waziristan Agency (SWA) with a note that stands for the worldview we have battled for all these years.

These pamphlets have been endorsed by a committee headed by a person associated with late Taliban leaders Molvi Muhammad Nazir and Nek Muhammad. The note directs residents to avoid cultural and social activities and restricts movement of women outside their homes without male members of their family. Violators have been warned of repercussions.
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IN THE NEWS: SAUDI PURGE FINDS ECHOES IN PAKISTAN’S INTERNAL POLITICS (NOVEMBER 17, 2017)

Written by admin on Friday, November 17th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Saudi purge finds echoes in Pakistan’s internal politics
SOURCE: Asia Times
Friday, November 17, 2017
By KUNWAR KHULDUNE SHAHID

*Nawaz Sharif who had been given refuge in Saudi Arabia after the coup in October 1999, is unlikely to find friends there after the Saudi purge
*The purge in Saudi Arabia is being used by Pakistani politicians to target each other over allegations of corruption

The unprecedented purge targeting royals in Saudi Arabia, initiated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has also had the effect of creating ripples in Pakistan’s politics, a country that has deep diplomatic, military and strategic ties to the Kingdom. Within hours of the news of the purge filtering out, Pakistani politicians were busy targeting each other with allegations of corruption.

“Earlier in the morning today, ten princes were arrested over corruption in Saudi Arabia (sic). Have you ever heard (something like that happening in Pakistan)?” bellowed Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and opposition leader Imran Khan, while addressing a rally in Ubauro town of Ghotki district on November 5.

The gathering was held hours after crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the arrest of dozens of influential figures in the Kingdom, including 11 of his royal cousins, without formal charges. The purge was touted as a ‘crackdown on corruption.’ Almost on cue, on November 7, Pakistan’s Supreme Court issued a detailed judgment which rejected the review petitions filed by the Sharif family over the ‘Panama Papers’ verdict, which had resulted in the ouster of the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Sharif was disqualified for failing to explain his assets in the July 28 verdict, and he and his family are now battling a multitude of corruption charges in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court. Khan’s PTI, which had been campaigning against Sharif over allegations of corruption and electoral rigging since 2014, has not only interpreted Sharif’s ouster as its own political triumph, but has now set out to move for the elimination of other major players in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
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IN THE NEWS: TALIBAN RESURGENCE? (NOVEMBER 16, 2017)

Written by admin on Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Taliban resurgence?
SOURCE: Dawn
Thursday, November 16, 2017

EIGHT years ago, Operation Rah-i-Nijat was launched to free South Waziristan Agency from the grip of the Pakistani Taliban.

It was a massive operation and countless sacrifices were made, but eventually the state’s writ was established in the militancy-infested parts.

It would take many more years for IDPs from the agency to be allowed to go back, but this year a semblance of normality appeared to be returning to South Waziristan.

However, the return of the local populace has brought with it a resurgence of the Taliban, a worrying development for South Waziristan and the wider Fata region.

As reported in this newspaper yesterday, the Commander Nazir Group, a Wana-based Taliban faction, is, under the guise of a local peace committee, attempting to ban social and cultural activities in parts of the agency and restrict women’s movement.

The measures hearken back to the early days of the Taliban takeover in various parts of Fata — a disturbing reminder that peace in the region remains elusive, however much the local political administration may try to downplay the events.

Part of the problem is that the Commander Nazir Group was never fully dismantled in South Waziristan, despite major operations in Wana and the Mehsud-dominated regions of the agency.

Militant leaders belonging to the group are reported to have their own areas of jurisdiction to settle personal, family and property disputes and to impose fines and penalties — brazenly bypassing political authorities and effectively establishing parallel administrative systems.

Some members of the Commander Nazir Group are believed to even operate their own prisons. While there is only one known check-post that the group is currently operating, it has been seen patrolling other parts of South Waziristan.
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IN THE NEWS: PAKISTAN FIRES OFF OVER 500 MISSILES IN FOUR DAYS (NOVEMBER 16, 2017)

Written by admin on Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Pakistan Fires Off Over 500 Missiles In Four Days
SOURCE: TOLO News
Thursday, November 16, 2017 (Posted)

*Kunar civil society activists and residents call on the Afghan government and the international community to find a solution to the issue

Government officials said Wednesday that more than 500 missiles have landed in Kunar in the eastern part of Afghanistan after being fired off from across the Durand Line in the past four days.

This comes after Pakistan resumed cross-Durand Line incursions after a few months break.

The missiles have landed in Shultan, Dangam, Shegal and Marwa districts in Kunar province – in the east of the country, displacing dozens of families, local officials told TOLOnews.

“Rockets (fired off by Pakistani forces) have landed in residential areas which have claimed one life,” Kunar governor Waheedullah Kalimzai said.

“People have suffered financial losses. At least 40 families have been displaced in Shultan (district).”

The governor said they are waiting for orders from the central government on how to respond to the incursion by Pakistan.

“This is an issue between two countries. We have shared it with government leadership in Kabul. We are waiting for their order to act in this respect,” he said.

Kunar residents and civil society activists called on government to talk with Islamabad to stop the cross-Durand Line shelling.

“The rocket attacks from Pakistan on parts of Kunar province are ongoing for the past three days,” civil society activist Matiullah Shahab said.
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IN THE NEWS: MMA RIDES AGAIN? – THE STRANGE REVIVAL OF THE FAILED RELIGIOUS PARTIES’ ALLIANCE (NOVEMBER 15, 2017)

Written by admin on Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

MMA RIDES AGAIN?
SOURCE: Newsweek Pakistan
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

*THE STRANGE REVIVAL OF THE FAILED RELIGIOUS PARTIES’ ALLIANCE

Ahead of general elections next year—or earlier—Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUIF) and Maulana Sirajul Haq of the Jamaat-e-Islami have decided to reassemble the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an alliance of six religious parties formed before the 2002 polls.

Rehman has avowed that the “establishment” has not ordained the revival of this failed alliance of the pious. The reunification is curious: the alliance was trounced in the 2008 polls because of its pathetic performance in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. It takes a lot of joining of the dots in Pakistan’s politics of instability to fathom why the two parties are thinking again of the MMA.

The six parties in the MMA of 2002 were: Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP),
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Jamaat-e-Islami, Tehrik-e-Jafaria Pakistan, Jamiat Ahle Hadith (JAH), Mutahida Deeni Mahaz. The Barelvis and the Shia were in it because staying out had meant slaughter at the hands of Al Qaeda-led Taliban of many brands given which warlord they obeyed.

The MMA government banned entertainment in then-NWFP and passed the so-called Hasba Bill, which was amended a number of times to remove the accusation that it was meant to welcome the Afghan Taliban into the province and enforce their brand of sharia law. The heart of the legislation was the establishment of a moral police force that would hand down punishments on the trot like the great caliphs of Islamic history.

When Islamabad finally put an end to the mischief of the Hasba Bill no one in the province rose up in popular revolt.

The transformation promised by the MMA was never to come because it was based on the abolition of modern banking and the enforcement of a medieval system of prohibitions called amr and nahi that the Taliban government in Kabul had gone down implementing, leaving the world wondering at the capacity of the devout Muslim to be endlessly cruel to women.
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IN THE NEWS: INDIA-PAKISTAN SMOG DOENS’T RECOGNISE BOUNDARIES (NOVEMBER 15, 2017)

Written by admin on Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

India-Pakistan smog doesn’t recognise boundaries
SOURCE: The Indian Express
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
By NIRUPAMA SUBRAMANIAN

*Amarinder Singh’s silence to the tweet sent to him by the Pakistan Punjab government is not surprising. Our leaderships make pious statements about co-operating to resolve the “real issues” but in reality, we are more comfortable wearing the armour of old hostilities

Who hasn’t heard that old cliché about how Indians and Pakistanis have so much in common – food, language, music. Drive down from Lahore to Amritsar and the transition is seamless – yes there are more women visible on our side, but the people look the same; even the fields are the same, just replace the mosques with the gurudwaras. They grow mustard, we grow mustard; they grow wheat, we grow wheat; they grow kinos, we grow kinos. We grow paddy, they also grow paddy. And this is where the cliché is no longer cute.

In October and November, we have smog, they have smog; they have accidents, we have accidents; they have respiratory diseases, we also have respiratory diseases. And while they have their own crop stubble burners, they allege we are sending the smog over to Lahore. Only a meteorologist would know if wind systems in the region for this time of the year take smoke from our side to the west, or east to Delhi, or in both directions.

But there is no getting away from the fact that there are more paddy fires in Punjab and Haryana, than in Pakistan’s Punjab. Check the satellite images captured by NASA in the first 10 days of November, and the red thermal dots on the Indian side of the border are like a large splotch of blood, compared to the tiny dots here and there on the other side.

Pakistani media reports have pointed to other sources of pollution in Pakistan’s Punjab province – their own incidents of crop burning, vehicular traffic, industry, and a coal-fired thermal plant in Sahiwal.

But that does not quite explain the thickness of the smog in Lahore at this time of the year.
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IN THE NEWS: U.S. BILL DELINKS LASHKAR-E-TAIBA FROM HAQQANI NETWORK (NOVEMBER 14, 2017)

Written by admin on Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

US bill delinks LeT from Haqqani network
SOURCE: Dawn
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
By ANWAR IQBAL

WASHINGTON: The US Congress has removed a provision from the National Defence Authorisation Act 2018 that would have required the US Secretary of Defence to certify that Pakistan has taken steps to “significantly disrupt” the activities of both Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Haqqani network.

The new version has confined this requirement to the Haqqani network only, indicating a desire in Washington to focus entirely on Afghanistan as long as it takes to subdue the Taliban insurgency there.

While the United States considers LeT a terrorist organisation, it also realises that the group’s main focus is Kashmir, not Afghanistan. Linking LeT to the Haqqani network, however, creates an impression that the US not only wants Pakistan to help it win the war against the Taliban but also wants it to change Islamabad’s position on Kashmir.

Since it already considers LeT a terrorist organisation, Washington will continue to ask Islamabad to stop the group from carrying out attacks inside India. But by delinking it from the Haqqani network, US policymakers are sending a message to Islamabad, that fighting the Haqqani network is their first priority.

This distinction is clearly underlined in a congressional document, the `conference’ version of the National Defence Act 2018. As part of the US legislative process, the House of Representatives and the Senate present their separate versions of a bill and then they go into a`conference’ to remove the differences between the two versions.

This joint version places the following additional limitation on reimbursements to Pakistan from the US Coalition Support Fund (CSF): Of the total amount of $700 million of reimbursements and support authorised for Pakistan during fiscal year 2018, $350m shall not be available unless the Secretary of Defence issues a certificate to the congressional defence committees.
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IN THE NEWS: NAWAZ SHARIF IN CUL-DE-SAC (NOVEMBER 14, 2017)

Written by admin on Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Nawaz Sharif in cul-de-sac
SOURCE: Daily Times
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
By MOHAMMAD JAMIL

*Nawaz Sharif does not seem to have many choices; and is reportedly considering clipping the powers of judiciary through another piece of legislation, which will stir the clash between the institutions further

After his disqualification from premiership by the five-member bench of the Supreme court, Nawaz Sharif is likely to face more problems with the opening of the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case. Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar has ordered formation of a three-judge bench to hear a reference of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) pertaining to Sharif family’s Hudaibiya Paper Mills. The bench will formally begin hearings on November 13th.

The NAB had appealed to the apex court against the Lahore High Court’s 2014 verdict acquitting Nawaz Sharif and other members of his family in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case. Shahbaz Sharif, Hamza Sharif and others are also named in this case. On Wednesday, Nawaz Sharif was indicted separately in each of the three references. He however pleaded ‘not guilty’ to all the charges. However, by maintaining aggressive posture, he will create more problems for himself.

Nawaz Sharif has once again become head of the party by amending the Political Parties Order (PPO) despite the court’s ruling, which previously barred him from holding any public office.

This amendment has been challenged by PTI Chairman Imran Khan, and there is likelihood that the apex court would undo that amendment. While the government claims that an amendment to the order was part of the party’s reform agenda, it is widely believed that the amendment to PPO is only an effort to restore Sharif’s grip over the party. But such attempts and statements of Nawaz Sharif and other PML-N leaders show that they are on collision course.
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IN THE NEWS: REMODELLING RELATIONS (NOVEMBER 13, 2017)

Written by admin on Monday, November 13th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Remodelling relations
SOURCE: The Nation
Monday, November 13, 2017
BY DURDANA NAJAM

In the new game of thrones, countries with the control of the Indian Ocean would have the power to influence the world order. China is poised to enhance its strategic presence in the Indian Ocean, using communication lines at the Gwadar port, for the export of Chinese products across the Middle East and Europe. With lesser time and reduced cost of transportation, the Chinese products would sell at competitive rates.

Even though Chabahar port would reduce Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan in trade, the development of the port is of more significance to India than Afghanistan. Goods and services exported to Afghanistan using the Iranian water, for a number of years can never be paid-up by the Afghan government. It would either remain alms and aids mechanism or least India’s largesse to strengthen its foothold in Afghanistan that would take up the former to the Central Asian states while keeping Pakistan under pressure.

All US efforts are now concentrated on a strategy to push back Iran and Pakistan in a bid to make both the countries volatile in their regions.

Any conflict with Iran would keep the temperature high in the Middle East. Any tension and uncertainty in Pakistan can make the Chinese dream of a One-Belt-One-Road initiative that includes the establishment of Gwadar, an expensive and security risk project.

In the given scenario what options do Pakistan and Iran have to keep the US from playing an exploitative game in the region? Perhaps, the same that the US has been using against both: a pushback strategy. Time is ripe for Pakistan; Iran has been on this for years to neutralize the US influence both in real and perceptually.

Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff, visited Iran last week, which seems like an effort to relieve anxiety that has crept into the relations of the two countries because of tensions on border, Kulbhushan Jadhav incident and the formation of Islamic Military Alliance headed by Pakistan’s former chief of army staff General (r) Raheel Sharif. (more…)