MAP: AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN

Written by admin on Saturday, October 20th, 2018

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: ELECTIONS IN AFGHANISTAN’S KANDAHAR PROVINCE TO BE DELAYED A WEEK (OCTOBER 19, 2018)

Written by admin on Friday, October 19th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Elections In Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province To Be Delayed A Week
SOURCE: RFE/RL
Friday, October 19, 2018

Parliamentary elections in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, due to be held on October 20, will be delayed by one week following the assassination of the powerful provincial police commander, Haroon Chakhansori, a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, has tweeted on his official account.

‘In accordance with Article 104 of the Electoral Law, the Security Council accepted [the commission’s proposal] and the [parliamentary] elections in Kandahar Province have been delayed only for one week,’ Independent Election Commission spokesman Hafizullah Hashimi told RFE/RL.

Hashimi said the decision to delay the vote had been made because the people of Kandahar Province were ‘morally not ready to vote’ following the death of General Abdul Raziq, who was killed by a rogue bodyguard of another top official on October 17. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

‘Unfortunately, Afghanistan lost its sons yesterday [in Kandahar] and it is possible that holding elections will create challenges in Kandahar. So, the Election Commission decided to propose the postponement of the election,’ commission member Wasima Badghisi told RFE/RL.

Raziq’s killing was a major blow to the Western-backed government in Kabul.

The Taliban claimed responsibility in a statement, saying, ‘The brutal police chief of Kandahar has been killed along with several other officials.’

Afghan officials told RFE/RL that a bodyguard opened fire after a high-level security meeting in the governor’s compound.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, was present at the gathering but was unhurt, NATO spokesman Grant Neely said.
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IN THE NEWS: DAESH MONEY TRAIL TRACED IN PAKISTAN (OCTOBER 18, 2018)

Written by admin on Thursday, October 18th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Daesh money trail traced in Pakistan
SOURCE: The News International
Thursday, October 18, 2018
By FARAZ KHAN

KARACHI: The investigators have busted a suspected network of militants and businessmen and traced a ‘money trail’ involving over 50 bank accounts being used to finance the outlawed Daesh in Afghanistan, The News has learnt on Wednesday.

Earlier, in September the Anti-Violent Crime Cell (AVCC) of the Karachi police had busted a kidnapping syndicate run by Daesh and arrested three suspected terrorists, namely Mukhtiar, Naeem and Noorullah in raids at Karachi’s Scheme-33 and Sakran in Lasbela district.

The Daesh terrorists had kidnapped a young man from from Karachi’s Gulistan-e-Jauhar and called his brother to demand Rs 10 million ransom from an Afghan cell number. Later, the kidnappers released the youngster on payment of the ransom money.

Talking to The News, SSP Bahadur said the funds from kidnapping the youth in Gulistan-e-Jauhar were to be used to finance terrorism in Pakistan but luckily, they were arrested before they could strike.

About the money trail for terror financing, SSP Bahadur said the investigators have so far detected over 50 bank accounts used to despatch money to the Daesh terrorists in Afghanistan from Pakistan.

He said the investigators have also arrested two cloth traders from Karachi and Quetta for transferring funds through ‘Hawala Hundi’ to the Daesh network in Afghanistan. The AVCC chief Irfan Bahadur said “this is a major case and the apprehensions have given us a breakthrough in unearthing and tracing a money trail used to finance terror in Pakistan.”
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IN THE NEWS: OIL IMPORTS MAY REACH $20B IF PRICES STAY AT CURRENT LEVEL (OCTOBER 18, 2018)

Written by admin on Thursday, October 18th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Oil imports may reach $20b if prices stay at current level
SOURCE: The Express Tribune
Thursday, October 18, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The annual oil import bill of Pakistan could go as high as $20 billion in the current fiscal year if the existing price trend persisted in the world market, cautioned Shell Pakistan Chief Executive Officer Haroon Rashid on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Energy Forum 2018, Rashid suggested to the government to extend the oil credit facility from 30 to 90 days, which would defer payment of $2 to $4 billion at a time when Pakistan was seeking a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) due to dwindling foreign exchange reserves.

He said the oil sector had witnessed a significant change as previously only three oil marketing companies were operating, which now reached 25.

The oil import bill was $12 billion in 2017, which would reach $18 to $20 billion in the current fiscal year if crude oil prices stayed at the existing level, he added.

The CEO said if pipeline infrastructure was upgraded in the country, it would lead to savings of $50 to $100 million, which would be passed on to consumers. Earlier, high-speed diesel was being pumped through the pipeline and now motor gasoline will also be transported through it.

Pakistan had average stocks of 20 days of petroleum products, he said and suggested that storages should be built through joint ventures to enhance the capacity.
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IN THE NEWS: ELECTION CANDIDATE KILLED IN HELMAND BLAST (OCTOBER 17, 2018)

Written by admin on Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Election Candidate Killed in Helmand Blast
SOURCE: TOLO News
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

*The explosion happened on Wednesday morning at the office of election candidate Jabar Qahraman

Jabar Qahraman, an election candidate from southern Helmand province was killed in an explosion at his office on Wednesday morning, local officials confirmed.

In addition, seven other people were wounded in the blast.

The incident took place at his campaign office in Lashkargah city, a spokesman for the provincial governor Omar Zwak confirmed, adding that “explosives were placed inside his sofa.”

He said that the wounded people have been taken to a nearby hospital.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the explosion.

This comes after last Tuesday’s attack at a campaign office also in Helmand which claimed the lives of eight people including the election candidate, Saleh Mohammad Achakzai.

Since July 1, at least 9 candidates have been killed in attacks.
On October 3, an explosion targeted an election rally in Nangarhar, killing 14 people killed.

On September 25, Nasir Mubarez, a candidate for the Kochis, from Kandahar, was killed by unknown armed men in a shooting in Kandahar City’s PD2.

On September 2, Anwar Niazi, a Parwan candidate, was killed and two others wounded when a magnetic IED was detonated against the vehicle they were traveling in. The incident took place in Kabul city center, in Shirpoor, in PD10, at about 7pm local time.
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IN THE NEWS: IMF AND CHINA’S SUPPORT (OCTOBER 17, 2018)

Written by admin on Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

IMF and China’s support
SOURCE: Dawn
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

THE public endorsement is likely a result of a great deal of behind-the-scenes lobbying.

It is welcome that China, via its foreign ministry spokesperson, has announced its support for the IMF “making an objective evaluation of Pakistan based on professionalism and earnestly helping it properly address the current difficulty”.

For Pakistan, walking a familiar IMF tightrope has been significantly complicated by the increasing competition and hostility between China and the US on the global stage and in this region. The US, which at least until the Trump administration touted its adherence to a so-called rules-based world order, had initially come out in an almost ugly American fashion against CPEC, virtually demanding that Pakistan limit the scope of the project if the IMF is to be allowed to deliver a bailout package to Pakistan.

At least publicly, the hostile and threatening US rhetoric has been toned down in recent days and it is, instead, the IMF leadership that has underlined the need for greater Pakistani transparency on its CPEC-related financial commitments.

What is not known is the extent to which China is resisting Pakistan sharing CPEC data with the IMF or, indeed, if there are binding covenants that prevent Pakistan from making public such data.

Worryingly, the PTI federal government may not have the expertise or the clarity necessary for navigating such fraught international political and financial challenges — though arguably no other Pakistani government would be considered well placed to deal with such complex challenges either.
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IN THE NEWS: KHALILZAD – TASKED TO BRING PEACE TO HIS BIRTH PLACE (OCTOBER 16, 2018)

Written by admin on Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Khalilzad: Tasked to Bring Peace to His Birth Place
SOURCE: Daily Outlook Afghanistan
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Zalmay Khalilzad, the veteran US diplomat has been tasked with leading efforts to end the war in Afghanistan. He is a blunt negotiator with a history of hawkish foreign policy views. He has decades of experience in the region.

This mission has brought back Khalilzad to focus on the country of his birth and childhood, and the place where he has served as US ambassador from 2003-2005 under President George W. Bush in a period of the history of Afghanistan that he had to guide regime change in the messy aftermath of the fall of the Taliban. Indeed, he was instrumental in setting up the government structure in Afghanistan and helped Afghanistan through the first elections in 2005.

Challenges and Opportunities for Peace in Afghanistan

If we consider modern Afghanistan as a country characterized by low level of modernization and development, then there is sufficient historical evidence that the government in Kabul has been ineffective in terms of exercising power in Afghanistan. As a matter of bitter fact, politics and power in Afghanistan are strongly influenced by the country’s ethnic complexities. Therefore, the deep ethno-linguistic divisions and the decentralized nature of the Afghan polity provide convenient fault lines ready for exploitation. After the fall of Taliban in 2001, a basic problem has been the failure of the Afghan government institutions to provide good governance and socio-political development to many parts of the country that could act a s a means to close the ethnic gaps.

Correspondingly, there are different layers of geopolitical complications with far-reaching strategic implications in Afghanistan. The presence of the erstwhile Soviet Union, and the United States, in today’s context has only served to legitimize the activities of the insurgents and jihadists across Afghan territory. And Russia’s and Iran’s contrasting positions have only exacerbated the complexities of the conflict. All parties are inclined to escalate military campaigns in the hope of persuading their rivals to negotiate on more suitable terms.

Some political scholars hold that Ghani’s earnest appeal to the parties involved thinking of ending the war in Afghanistan, instead of winning it, does not seem to bring results under present circumstances of Afghanistan.
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IN THE NEWS: IS PUNJAB GOING BANKRUPT? (OCTOBER 16, 2018)

Written by admin on Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Is Punjab going bankrupt?
SOURCE: The Express Tribune
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
By HASAAN KHAWAR

Punjab’s finance minister recently revealed that the province is nearly bankrupt. Punjab has accumulated a total debt of Rs1.1 trillion, exhausted its Provident Fund of Rs100 billion that rightfully belongs to government employees, fully used its borrowing line of Rs37 billion and reportedly issued cheques worth Rs57 billion in the last financial year that could not be honoured.

After the 7th NFC Award, federal transfers to Punjab almost quadrupled in the last 10 years from Rs300+ billion to nearly Rs1.2 trillion. How did then Punjab manage to reach this point, despite this significant increase in resources?

There are three patterns that define fiscal management in the last five years.

Firstly, after the 7th NFC Award, provinces were flush with money but had little capacity to spend. As a result, almost all provincial governments started having cash surpluses. The then chief minister of Punjab was quick to realise this opportunity and adopted a new model to put this money to use. Scores of Section 42 companies undertook mega projects in energy, roads, municipal services and mass transit. The model was so effective in utilising funds that soon its appetite for resources far outstripped the resource inflow. The annual development programme that was merely Rs150 billion 10 years ago, grew more than four times to a whopping Rs635 billion by 2017-18. Much of this increase was financed by stretching all possible sources and diverting all funds towards priority projects.

The last government’s infrastructure-led strategy overshadowed almost all other aspects of development. Looking at the last five years’ development allocations for education, health, sports, environment and infrastructure, it becomes clear that 66% of allocations went to infrastructure as opposed to 19 and 13% for education and health, respectively. Higher budget utilisation further enhanced its share to almost 70%.
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IN THE NEWS: PAKISTAN CLOSES FRIENDSHIP GATE WITH AFGHANISTAN (OCTOBER 15, 2018)

Written by admin on Monday, October 15th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Pakistan closes Friendship Gate with Afghanistan
SOURCE: The Express Tribune
Monday, October 15, 2018
By MOHAMMAD ZAFAR

QUETTA: Pakistan on Sunday closed its Friendship Gate with Afghanistan in Chaman following a clash between security forces of both the countries over fencing along the bordering town of Sakan Kanarr.

The Pakistani border guards were busy in fencing when Afghan security forces tried to stop them, which resulted in an exchange of harsh words.

Soon after, the dispute escalated into a battle as both forces exchanged fire. No casualties were reported.

Pakistan started fencing along the 2,400 kilometres Afghan border in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to prevent terrorists and smugglers from entering the country.

Numerous rounds of negotiations between officials of both the countries failed to yield any positive result as Afghanistan opposes Pakistan’s move of fencing its border.

Following Sunday’s clash, the Pakistani officials closed the Friendship Gate at the Pak-Afghan border in Chaman, suspending all kinds of trade movements, including supply vehicles for NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Hundreds of people on both sides of the border were stranded, while people living in the bordering town were gripped by fear.

Pakistan has increased its troops and patrolling along the Pak-Afghan border to control any violation by the Afghan forces.

Residents of Chaman staged a protest against Afghan Inspector General of Border Police Commander Abdul Raziq Achakzai. The protesters chanted full-throated slogans against Achakzai for provoking clashes at the Pak-Afghan bordering town of Chaman.

IN THE NEWS: SOME REFLECTIONS ON PASHTUN NATIONALISM FROM AFGHANISTAN (OCTOBER 15, 2018)

Written by admin on Monday, October 15th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Some reflections on Pashtun nationalism from Afghanistan
SOURCE: Daily Times
Monday, October 15, 2018
By FARHAT TAJ

*People on both sides of the Durand Line speak the same language, Pashto, in its various dialects. They share some important cultural traits. It is quite understandable that there will be a desire for cross border contacts among the people. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan can and should prompt economic, educational and cultural ties between the two sides. This will enrich the larger societies in both countries

Lar and Bar is once again the topic of political discourses coming from Afghanistan. Lar (afar) means Pashtun in Pakistan and Bar (highland) means Pashtun in Afghanistan. The discourses point to one direction: the ultimate destiny of the Lar & Bar is unification in one state to be built on the ashes of the state of Pakistan.

The discourses, especially among Afghan diaspora on social media, intensified earlier this year following the coming into being of PTM (Pashtun Tahfuz Movement), a peaceful Pakistani Pashtun movement for rights and justice in the areas affected by the war on terror. Manzoor Pashteen, the PTM leader, could not be clearer. He objected about the Afghan flags in public gatherings abroad in support of PTM. He keeps saying that PTM demands and struggle are within the law of Pakistan and it has no intention, no plan to go beyond the law. Some of PTM’s demands have partially been addressed by the Pakistan army: return of many disappeared people &removal of the military check posts to ease people’s movement. Nevertheless, the Afghans see PTM as potential secessionist movement that will eventually disintegrate Pakistan.

Correct, Lar & Bar is a social reality. People on both sides of the Durand Line speak the same language, Pashto, in its various dialects.

They share some important cultural traits. It is quite understandable that there will be a desire for cross border contacts among the people.

Both Pakistan and Afghanistan can and should prompt economic, educational and cultural ties between the two sides. This will enrich the larger societies in both countries.

The main harmful assumptions are these: Pakistan is the main responsible state for the death and destruction in Afghanistan. There can be no peace in Afghanistan as along as Pakistan exists as a state. Pakistan’s territory up to district Attock belongs to Afghanistan. Pashtuns in Pakistan are slaves of the Punjabis and waiting to be released from the slavery by the Pashtun of Afghanistan. That Pashtun of Pakistan who dissent are Gul Khans (brainwashed idiots) or not even Pashtun. They are Punjabi settlers in Pakhtunkhwa who have learnt Pashtun language, which they are now using to undermines the Lar & Bar. (more…)