IN THE NEWS: NO COUNTRY FOR RECONCILIATION (JULY 24, 2017)

Written by admin on Monday, July 24th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

No country for reconciliation
SOURCE: The Indian Express
Monday, July 24, 2017
By IMAD UL RIYAZ

*My own political position is driven by the idea of peace, dialogue and reconciliation. For many back in Kashmir, this makes me something of a “RSS chamcha”: I am somebody who doesn’t understand the Kashmir problem and has never suffered. For some, I am a “collaborator” in the making.

In India today, people from communities oppressed both historically and recently — including Dalits, Kashmiris and Muslims — strive to stand up to the violent machismo that appears all around us. I still remember vividly when fear hit home. My mother woke up one morning and called me, in tears and scared. I could sense she must have been trembling, her heart pounding. She had just had a nightmare.

She dreamt that I, her elder son, was with her and part of a group being chased down by armed forces on their way to a local Sufi shrine (a place meant to symbolise peace). Teargas was being fired at us from behind. With tears and itchiness in her eyes, she along with all the others who were part of the crowd was on the run for her life. In a dark alley, she lost sight of me. She shouted out my name, but could not find me.

I was still half asleep when she had called that morning. However, the sounds of her sobs still give me goosebumps. I had never seen her cry like that before. Not even when I lost my maternal grandfather. My father had always maintained more poise. Hiding behind the veil of patriarchy, he never advertises his fears. But he calls me at least five times a day, often to discuss the most trivial matters. It is an obvious and earnest attempt to make sure that he keeps up with his eldest son’s whereabouts and makes sure he is safe. His primary responsibility remains to call me and inform me about potential places of harassment. He advises me to avoid posting on social media and networking websites and platforms. He fears that I may be a victim of lynching, like Muslims elsewhere. His son, living in Delhi, is vulnerable on two fronts — for being a Kashmiri and for having a Muslim name. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: KHYBER OPERATION (JULY 24, 2017)

Written by admin on Monday, July 24th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Khyber operation
SOURCE: Dawn
Monday, July 24, 2017

RAPID successes in the first phase of Operation Khyber IV in Rajgal Valley in Khyber Agency is welcome news. With the capture of a strategic mountaintop by the military, militants have been denied a position from which they can detect, avoid or attack Pakistani security forces.

Moreover, the overall goal of creating Pakistani check posts along the border with Afghanistan to interdict militants who attempt to cross over is one step closer to becoming a reality. Once again, the bravery and determination of Pakistani soldiers is moving the country closer towards another important victory in the long fight against militancy. A grateful country acknowledges their sacrifices. The rapid gains in Khyber IV has also highlighted at least two other issues: the overall state of relations with Afghanistan and the pace at which post-operation steps in Fata are proceeding.

Worryingly, instead of Khyber IV creating the possibility of renewed security cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the operation has been used by Kabul to create fresh tensions between the two countries.

The Afghan response, denouncing Khyber IV and railing against Pakistan for perceived inaction against Afghan-centric militants, is perplexing.

At the very least, Pakistan is securing its own terrain against militants, a goal that Afghanistan surely cannot oppose. And with Khyber IV also aiming at reducing the space for the militant Islamic State group to operate in the region, a common goal of Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries with a stake in peace is being addressed.

While Pakistan must not allow the unreasonableness of the Afghan government to slow down or prevent operations that are important to this country’s security, the state here ought to consider fresh means of outreach to the government in Kabul. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: ABDULLAH SAYS GOVT NEEDS TIME TO ESTABLISH SECURITY (JULY 23, 2017)

Written by admin on Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Abdullah Says Govt Needs Time To Establish Security
SOURCE: TOLO News
Sunday, July 23, 107
By SAYED SHARIF AMIRI

Local officials in Faryab and Ghor provinces confirmed Taliban insurgents seized control of Kohistan district in Faryab and Taywara district in Ghor after engaging in fierce gunfights with security forces in the past 24 hours.

Ghor governor said that the Taliban killed a number of doctors and employees of Taywara district after seizing control of the area.

But the Taliban issued a statement dismissing the allegations by the Ghor governor as baseless.

Taliban launched an offensive on Kohistan district on Saturday night at about 10 pm local time. Officials said the district collapsed after heavy fighting at about 2am. But this was not end – 220 kilometer away, the Taliban also managed to seize control of Ghor’s Taywara district early Sunday.

“The reason is that we were grappling with a shortage of fresh forces, we needed the commandos, but they did not come,” said head of Faryab provincial council Mohammad Sami Khaikhaw.

“We requested more ground troops and air forces; hopefully our demands have been accepted,” said Abdul Karim Yurish, spokesman for Faryab police headquarters.

But the Defense Ministry says sufficient troops have been deployed. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: MINING SECTOR FACES MAJOR CHALLENGES (JULY 23, 2017)

Written by admin on Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Mining Sector Faces Major Challenges
SOURCE: Daily Outlook Afghanistan
Sunday, July 23, 2017

Though a ray of hope for economic stability in Afghanistan, mining sector faces major challenges and issues. These issues, if remain unsolved, can threaten the viability of the whole sector and ultimately result in its failure. Therefore, it is important that these issues should be solved as they arise so that the sector is able to flourish. However, doing so requires bold and confident steps towards betterment.

Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi, recently, expressed his concerns over descending incomes from the mining industry. He said in a statement, “Our mines are faced with many problems… Mining industry’s incomes are being embezzled by powerful individuals. These incomes are national incomes and must be saved from embezzlement.” This is really tragic as the sector is already facing issues regarding infrastructure and human resource development. Corruption in the sector will only invigorate the troubles.

Meanwhile, it was also disclosed recently that Taliban militants in Afghanistan benefit much through illegal mining. Mining sector that can be a hope for Afghanistan and its people, is turning into a funding source for the militants, which is really very much unfortunate.

However, the attention of the government seems to be diverted towards other concerns. In fact, the whole mining sector seems to be suffering from the lack of attention by the government. The mining sector in Afghanistan, if boomed properly, can serve as a hope to boost Afghan economy to a large extent. Many years of instability and wars have influenced Afghan economy negatively. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: VILLAGERS REVEAL DETAILS OF ‘HONOR’ MURDER IN PAKISTAN (JULY 22, 2017)

Written by admin on Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Villagers Reveal Details Of ‘Honor’ Murder In Pakistan
SOURCE: Gandhara
Saturday, July 22, 2017
By DAUD KHATTAK

Villagers in Ashraf Khel, a dusty hamlet near the famed Khyber Pass, have sketched out a grim picture of how the mentally disabled Naghma was allegedly killed by close relatives after a failed attempt to run away.

A 40-year-old woman, a resident of Ashraf Khel, recounted details of the tragedy on the condition that her name and identity be protected because of fears of reprisals from the alleged assassins.

She told Gandhara that Naghma’s fate was sealed after officials in their Khyber tribal district handed her back to the family after an alleged botched attempt to elope with a young man in late June.

“On June 28, Naghma’s uncle, Dadul Khan, and his son spread the news in our village that she would be killed at 11 a.m.,” she said. “While the whole village waited to hear gunshots, no one had the courage to come forward to save Naghma or even inform the authorities.”

The woman, a neighbour of Naghma’s family, recounted that around the announced time they heard five shots being fired. “We knew then that the hapless life had come to an end,” she said.

A male villager said Naghma was taken to an empty compound near her house in Ashraf Khel. While requesting anonymity because of fear and cultural sensitivities, he said Naghma was surrounded by several male relatives armed with AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifles.

He said most of Ashraf Khel’s residents believe Naghma was killed by one of the five men inside the walled compound. “One of them supposedly fired the fatal shots,” he said.

The woman said she thought even Naghma had guessed her fate when her
uncle and other male relatives took her from her mother, Bakht Meena, who is believed to suffer from a psychiatric disorder. Villagers say Naghma’s father ekes out a living by driving a truck in the port city of Karachi some 1,000 kilometers away. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: A TERRIBLE BEAUTY IS BORN IN THE GEOPOLITICS OF KASHMIR (JULY 22, 2017)

Written by admin on Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

A terrible beauty is born in the geopolitics of Kashmir
SOURCE: Asia Times
Saturday, July 22, 2017
By M.K. BHADRAKUMAR

The tallest Kashmiri politician today, Farooq Abdullah, former chief minister of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir and an erstwhile cabinet minister in the central government in New Delhi, would have been a consummate surfer in the world of sports.

The audacity with which he rode the wave of Kashmiri nationalism through turbulent decades (while also remaining “Delhi’s man in Srinagar”) has been breath-taking.

Abdullah, who is currently a parliamentarian, may have deliberately opted to surf unforgiving political waves when he said in Delhi on Friday that India needs to accept help from the United States or China to settle the Kashmir issue.

Abdullah asked indignantly: “How long will you wait for talks [between India and Pakistan]? Will you wait for a thousand years?

“You have to take the bull by the horns. Sometimes you have to do it. You have [the] atom bomb and they too have [the] atom bomb. How many people will get killed?

“The only way is dialogue. Take a friend’s help. We say we have friends across the world. So take their help for talks and tell them we want to solve it [Kashmir].

“Four wars have been fought. How [many] more losses do you want? The money we spend on planes and war machinery, if [we] used it for poor farmers, then the country [would] develop rapidly…. You need to find a solution. You won’t find anything by being rigid.” (more…)

IN THE NEWS: PAKISTAN CREATED TERROR GROUPS TO CHECK INDIA AND AFGHANISTAN, SAY FORMER US DIPLOMATS (JULY 21, 2017)

Written by admin on Friday, July 21st, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Pakistan created terror groups to check India and Afghanistan, say former US diplomats
SOURCE: The Indian Express
Friday, July 21, 2017

*William Milam, a former US ambassador to Pakistan, said Pakistan has “no interest in a peaceful Afghanistan that would be under the influence of its arch enemy India and feels keenly the need for a proxy to protect its interests there. As for the Leshkar-e-Taiba, it is a reminder that Pakistan still sees India as its primary existential threat and still relies on proxies to keep India off balance”, said William Milam

Pakistan created terror groups such as the Taliban, the Haqqani network and the Lashkar-e-Taiba to keep India “off balance” and protect Islamabad’s interests in war-torn Afghanistan, according to former US diplomats and officials. William Milam, a former US ambassador to Pakistan, and Philip Reiner, a former senior director for South Asia at the National Security Council during the Obama administration, said Pakistan’s notorious spy agency, the ISI, continues to protect and assist these groups, according to The Cipher Brief.

The online intelligence news and analysis portal on Thursday carried interviews and opinion pieces deciphering the “double game” of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Milan told the portal that Pakistan has “no interest in a peaceful Afghanistan that would be under the influence of its arch enemy India and feels keenly the need for a proxy to protect its interests there.”

“We know that Pakistan was present at the creation of the Taliban in the mid-1990s and gave them much support in their fight to take over the country. And we know that the Haqqani network, which is allied with the Afghan Taliban, has become a good substitute proxy,” he said.

Milam said the argument that the ISI supports hostile groups such as the Haqqani network, the Taliban, and the Lashkar-e-Taiba are generally believed by Western experts to be correct “but evidence for them is all highly-classified and held closely.”

“As for the Leshkar-e-Taiba, it is a reminder that Pakistan still sees India as its primary existential threat and still relies on proxies to keep India off balance.

“A virulently anti-Indian extremist organisation, Leshkar-e-Taiba serves as one proxy. Inside India, in the last several years, it has carried out very serious raids which appear to have had ISI help. (Could they have been rogue ISI units? We don’t know),” he said. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: AS SHARIF CLINGS ON IN PAKISTAN, SMOOTH TRANSITION UNLIKELY (JULY 21, 2017)

Written by admin on Friday, July 21st, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

As Sharif clings on in Pakistan, smooth transition unlikely
SOURCE: Asia Times
Friday, July 21, 2017
By F.M. SHAKIL

*Having refused to jump, the prime minister will likely be pushed once a verdict is given on his family’s financial dealings. With his party now in turmoil, the chances of an orderly change of leadership look to be receding

If – as is widely anticipated – Pakistan’s Supreme Court returns an adverse verdict on the financial dealings of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family, the political fallout is likely to be messy. Following a recent judicial probe, disqualification from office of the ruling members of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) is now the most likely scenario. But if that comes to pass, what happens next? The indications are that there will not be a smooth democratic transition.

The Sharif family has so far failed to establish a cogent money trail to account for assets which appear out of proportion to their legitimate income. During proceedings on Thursday, the court said that if Nawaz’s children do not provide the details of the sources of their investments in London’s upscale Mayfair district, there will be consequences. “We will be forced to take a decision against the holders of public offices,” the court warned. The court may well hand down a verdict next week.

The hearings started last year when a petition was filed in the apex court by opposition parties challenging the legitimacy of Nawaz’s overseas assets, as disclosed in the Panama Papers.

After protracted hearings spanning several months, the court gave a verdict on April 20, with two out of five judges calling for the Prime Minister’s disqualification but the majority deciding in favour of a further probe to determine his culpability. The court constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), ordering it to report within 60 days. The JIT submitted its report on July 10, claiming a “significant gap/disparity” between “the known and declared sources of income and the wealth accumulated” by the prime minister, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and sons Hussain and Hassan Nawaz. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: YOU WILL GET REPLY NEXT YEAR, NAWAZ TELLS RIVALS (JULY 20, 2017)

Written by admin on Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

You will get reply next year, Nawaz tells rivals
SOURCE: The News International
Thursday, July 20, 2017
By MUHAMMAD SALEH ZAAFIR

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Wednesday told his opponents that they would get a befitting reply next year, referring to the coming general elections. He said he and his family should be told what mistake they have made. He said they were looted and were also being asked of money trail.

He hinted about carrying out legislation under treason offence against those who are trying to block the progress and development of the country by making baseless allegations, and negative activities. He asked the federal minister concerned to undertake requisite legislation for the purpose. He questioned if there is anybody who catch these elements with collar.

The Prime Minister was addressing a gathering at Kala Shah Kaku after a briefing about Lahore-Sialkot Motorway project. He also addressed Sialkot Chambers of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) after inaugurating Riazuddin Sheikh Business Centre, where he vowed to take Pakistan to the top ranking developed countries.

He said the masses had rejected negative politics aiming to push the country back to the Stone Age. The business community of the industrial city reposed full confidence in his economic policies and stressed continuity.

Nawaz said Pakistan of 2017 was much better than that of 2013 and those demanding his resignation were the ones who did not wish to take Pakistan towards stability. He said their past four years of negative politics had slowed the pace of progress.

He said he believed that the only way forward was to address poverty, unemployment and terrorism, by undertaking development in all spheres.

The Prime Minister regretted that the ongoing so-called accountability was only aimed at creating disability in the country.

He said being the Prime Minister of Pakistan, he had offered himself and his family for accountability, but it was beyond his understanding what kind of accountability they had been seeking so far. “Please stop your political jugglery, stop misleading the nation and focus on national development and prosperity,” he added. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: DEFYING DOSTUM: A NEW JOMBESH AND THE STRUGGLE FOR LEADERSHIP OVER AFGHANISTAN’S UZBEKS (JULY 20, 2017)

Written by admin on Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Defying Dostum: A new Jombesh and the struggle for leadership over Afghanistan’s Uzbeks
SOURCE: Afghanistan Analysts Network
Thursday, July 20, 2017 (Posted)
By THOMAS RUTTIG

After years of attempts at inner-party reform, dissidents of Jombesh, one of Afghanistan’s major political parties, have given up. They have left and created a new party; not very surprisingly it is called the “New Jombesh.” The recent departure to Turkey – officially for ‘medical treatment’ – by ‘old’ Jombesh leader (and First Vice President) Abdul Rashid Dostum indirectly facilitated this step. AAN’s co-director, Thomas Ruttig (with input by Ali Yawar Adili), takes a closer look at this emerging competition for the leadership over Afghanistan’s Uzbeks.

A new political party has been launched by dissidents from Abdul Rashid Dostum’s Jombesh. Jombesh-e Nawin-e Afghanistan (New Movement of Afghanistan) officially declared its existence – the step traditionally taken by new Afghan parties before officially registering – at a press conference on 11 June 2017.

The new party’s launch happened only a month after the ‘old’ Jombesh’s leader Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former warlord of Uzbek ethnicity who is also the country’s First Vice President, left Afghanistan for Turkey.

Ostensibly, this trip was for ‘medical treatment’. In fact, it amounted to an all-but-official dismissal from his position in response to Dostum’s involvement in a high-profile case of violence against a former political ally.(1) While in Turkey, Dostum joined a new tripartite Etelaf bara-ye Nejat-e Afghanistan (Alliance for the Salvation of Afghanistan) forged in his Ankara residence; it is a coalition between his ‘old’ Jombesh, Jamiat-e Islami and the wing of the Hazara-dominated Hezb-e Wahdat led by Muhammad Muhaqqeq.

The removal of Dostum from the scene and the establishment of yet another opposition alliance are additional expressions of the multi-faceted crisis that the National Unity Government (NUG) has faced since it was established almost three years ago. This crisis is now increasingly underpinned by ethnic and political polarisation, both within the NUG and beyond.

With the overshadowing figure of Dostum away and his return unclear, the dissidents dared to do what they had tried to avoid for more than a decade whilst pushing for reform (and, without saying it aloud, trying to sideline the volatile Dostum) – they made a break with the mother party. (more…)