MAP: AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN

Written by admin on Saturday, May 26th, 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: MAINSTREAMING FATA (MAY 25, 2018)

Written by admin on Friday, May 25th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

MAINSTREAMING FATA
SOURCE: Newsweek Pakistan
Friday, May 25, 2018

*A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE ISSUES PLAGUING PAKISTAN’S TRIBAL BELT

Famously described by Barack Obama as “the most dangerous place in the world,” Pakistan’s lawless tribal region is long thought to have been a safe haven for militants including the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Now this mountainous, semi-autonomous area along the border with Afghanistan is set to enter the country’s mainstream, after a parliamentary vote Thursday to incorporate it into neighbouring Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

The move will impose the Pakistani judicial system on a region still loosely governed by British colonial-era laws and the tribal system of honour, and which has always existed on the fringes of the state.
Here’s a brief rundown on the history of Pakistan’s tribal belt.

When and why was it created?

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is a block of seven districts along Pakistan’s northwest border with Afghanistan, and is home to approximately five million residents, mainly ethnic Pashtuns.

The FATA was a colonial-era creation carved out by British rulers keen to curry favor with the fierce Pashtun fighters there, who passionately resisted any attempt at colonization. The area largely served as a buffer zone between what became the settled areas of Pakistan and modern-day Afghanistan.
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IN THE NEWS: CHINA GIVES PAKISTAN $1.6B CREDIT LINE (MAY 25, 2018)

Written by admin on Friday, May 25th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

China gives Pakistan $1.6b credit line
SOURCE: The Nation
Friday, May 25, 2018

*Both countries also extend currency swap pact for 3 years

ISLAMABAD/BEIJING – China has given Pakistan a credit line worth $1.6 billion to stave off a balance of payments crisis, two State Bank of Pakistan sources said on Thursday, with cash earmarked for boosting fast-depleting foreign currency reserves.

Two SBP sources told Reuters the credit facility that accompanies a currency swap agreement between SBP and China’s central bank has been hiked to 20b yuan ($3.13b) from 10b yuan. “This arrangement has been finalised,” said one SBP source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. A second source confirmed the agreement and the figures. Meanwhile, The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, said Thursday it had extended a currency swap agreement with the State Bank of Pakistan. The swap is sized at 20 billion yuan (3.1b US dollars) or 351 billion Pakistani rupees, according to a statement from the bank.

The two parties believe the extension will facilitate bilateral trade and investment to help economic development in the two countries.

Valid for three years, the agreement can be extended upon mutual consent.
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IN THE NEWS: TENSIONS SOAR BETWEEN INDIA, PAKISTAN ALONG KASHMIR FRONTIER (MAY 24, 2018)

Written by admin on Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Tensions soar between India, Pakistan along Kashmir frontier
SOURCE: The Nation
Thursday, May 24, 2018 (Posted)

Tensions soared Wednesday along the volatile frontier between India and Pakistan in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, as rival soldiers shelled dozens of villages and border posts for a sixth straight day.

A total of six civilians and a soldier were killed on the two sides, officials said, in escalating violence in the disputed region that both countries blame the other for initiating.

Indian police said Pakistani soldiers continued targeting dozens of Indian border posts and villages with mortars and automatic gunfire in the Jammu region. At least five civilians were killed and 30 others injured on the Indian side, said a top police officer, S.D. Singh.

In Pakistan, two security officials said Pakistani and Indian troops exchanged fire near Sialkot city in eastern Punjab province. They said the two sides had traded fire over the past 48 hours, killing a civilian and a soldier.

The officials said several people were also wounded, including three border guards. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

As in the past, each country accused the other of initiating the latest border skirmishes and violating a 2003 cease-fire agreement.
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IN THE NEWS: NATIONAL ASSEMBLY VOTES TO APPROVE FATA’S MERGER WITH KHYBER PAKTUNKHWA (MAY 24, 2018)

Written by admin on Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

NA votes to approve FATA’s merger with Khyber Paktunkhwa
SOURCE: The News International
Thursday, May 24, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Thursday voted to approve an amendment bill seeking merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Paktunkhwa.

The bill was approved by two third majority as 229 members favoured it while 29 lawmakers chose to oppose.

Clause by clause approval of the amendment was still underway.

The 31st amendment bill was tabled by law minister Bashir Virk during the National Assembly session which was also attended by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan.

Government allies Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Mehmood Khan Achakzai were not present in the house as their parties continued their opposition to the bill.

Commenting on lack of adequate members in the house, the prime minister took the floor and said the bill belongs to all the parties.

Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah said the PPP was ready to wait for the members to come.

FATA Reforms

Under the FATA reforms bill, the number of National Assembly seats (12) and Senate seats (8) will remain unchanged while elections for the Provincial Assembly seats allocated for FATA would be held next year.
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IN THE NEWS: ‘TERRORISTS’ MAY MOVE FROM AFGHANISTAN TO CENTRAL ASIA, SAYS RUSSIA (MAY 23, 2018)

Written by admin on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

‘Terrorists’ May Move from Afghanistan to Central Asia: Russia
SOURCE: TOLO News
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

*Shoigu said at a meeting in Uzbekistan there were risks and threats coming from areas bordering Afghanistan’s northern neighbour

At a meeting with his Uzbek counterpart this week, Russia’s defense minister said it was extremely important to train the military to protect the state in case terrorists move from Afghanistan to Central Asian states.

The situation in Afghanistan is not getting more stable, making it possible that terrorist groups will move to the neighbouring countries,
Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday at a meeting with his Uzbek counterpart Abdusalom Azizov, TASS news agency reported.

According to Shoigu, military cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan “is totally specific and very important.”

“It refers, first and foremost, to the risks and threats coming from areas bordering Uzbekistan,” the Russian defense minister noted. “In this regard, one cannot but point to the growing threat of international terrorism that has been moving from Syria to other countries, including Uzbekistan,” he said.

“We cannot say that the situation in Afghanistan is getting safer and more stable as groups leaving Syria are particularly moving to Afghanistan. That said, it is highly important to train the military that would be able to protect the state in case the need arises,” he added.

This comes a day after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov said the US will have to talk directly with the Taliban on the eventual pullout of American troops from Afghanistan or face a grinding and bloody war for years to come.
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IN THE NEWS: XI JINPING: INDIA, PAKISTAN ENTRY INTO SHANGHAI COOPERATION ORGANISATION INCREASED POTENTITAL FOR COOPERATION (MAY 23, 2018)

Written by admin on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Xi Jinping: India, Pakistan entry into Shanghai Cooperation Organisation increased potential for cooperation
SOURCE: The Indian Express
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said with the entry of India and Pakistan, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has gained more potential for cooperation and more expectations from the international community. In his address to the representatives to the 13th meeting of Security Council Secretaries of the SCO in Beijing on Tuesday, Xi said maintaining regional security and stability has been the top priority of the bloc since it was founded.

“The SCO members have fought the ‘three evil forces’ of terrorism, separatism and extremism; prevented the overflow of negative effects from hot issues; and made important contributions to keeping regional peace, development and prosperity,” Xi was quoted as saying by the state-run China Daily.

Xi pointed out that when the SCO accepted Pakistan and India last year as new members, it gained more potential for cooperation and more expectations from the international community.

Deputy National Security Adviser Rajinder Khanna, Pakistan’s NSA Nasser Khan Janjua along with top security officials of the SCO member countries called on Xi after the conclusion of their two-day meeting here Tuesday.

The security officials met ahead of the SCO summit in the Chinese city of Qingdao to be held on June 9-10. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to take part in the summit. It will be the first summit of the SCO after India and Pakistan were admitted into the bloc last year. The SCO, in which China plays an influential role, is comprised of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.
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IN THE NEWS: PASHTUN LEADER RECOUNTS GRUELLING DETOUR (MAY 22, 2018)

Written by admin on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Pashtun Leader Recounts Gruelling Detour
SOURCE: Gandhara
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
By ABDUL HAI KAKAR and ABUBAKAR SIDDIQUE

It was supposed to be just a one-hour flight from Pakistan’s northwestern capital, Islamabad, to the southern seaport city of Karachi.

Instead, Manzoor Pashteen, the popular young leader of a new movement demanding security for Pakistan’s Pashtun minority, says he was forced to make the journey over 40 punishing hours.

The 26-year-old activist says the beatings, sleeplessness, harassment, searches, questioning, and constant surveillance he endured during that journey on May 12 and 13 have strengthened his resolve and made it crystal-clear to him why the authorities were desperate to prevent him from addressing tens of thousands of supporters in Karachi.

“The Pakistani state obviously didn’t want to let me use their airplane,” he said. “The state also wanted to prevent me from using the road. It was because I am a Pashtun.”

Pashteen leads the Pashtun Tahafuz (Protection) Movement (PTM), which emerged from protests in February. Since then, it has taken on Pakistan’s powerful military in a heated but peaceful protest campaign. The movement wants the army to probe and end thousands of enforced disappearances and illegal killings, which have defined the country’s domestic war on terror since 2003.

The Pakistani military has already taken steps to address the movement’s lesser demands about demining, harassment at security checkpoints, and other ill-treatment of civilians.

An estimated 30 million Pashtuns have borne the brunt of violence over the past 15 years, and tens of thousands have been killed in terrorist attacks and counterterrorism operations by the army. More than 6 million were displaced by the fighting.
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IN THE NEWS: IMRAN KHAN’S STRATEGY TO WIN OVER PUNJAB (MAY 22, 2018)

Written by admin on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Imran Khan’s strategy to win over Punjab
SOURCE: The News International
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
By MAZHAR ABBAS

Imran Khan, as a politician, has come a long way to his current position, sensing a victory for his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), in the general elections. On Sunday, almost two-and-a-half months before the election date, he announced his first 100-day programme as the prime minister of Pakistan, if his party is voted to power. His party will have to win at least 120-130 seats to implement his plans. Can he do it, this time with a changed political strategy, particularly adopted to win over Punjab with the ‘electables’ of Pakistan Muslim League-N and Pakistan People’s Party.

While the PTI will announce its full election manifesto next month, his 100-day plan seems to be a smart move to exert pressure on the PML-N at a time when the ruling party is struggling to find a ‘common narrative’ before the next elections.

Unlike in 2013, Imran and PTI have an advantage to contest the 2018 elections. The PML-N won Punjab in the last elections, as then the PPP was in power in Centre and its bad governance went in favour of it.

In 2018, voters will have to decide between the PPP and PML-N governments in 10 years, or going for the third alternative with its performance in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where most surveys gave edge to the PTI, to retain its position on the basis of its performance.

The biggest advantage which Imran and the PTI enjoy this time is the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif in the aftermath of Panama leaks. While experts will discuss his first 100-day plan in power, it is important to analyse and asses as to how the PTI would cause a major upset in Punjab, where it did not perform well, either in 2013 elections or in the last local bodies or by-elections including the one held after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification.
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IN THE NEWS: TALIBAN WARN KABUL RESIDENTS TO ‘KEEP AWAY’ AHEAD OF ATTACKS (MAY 21, 2018)

Written by admin on Monday, May 21st, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Taliban warn Kabul residents to ´keep away´ ahead of attacks
SOURCE: The News International
Monday, May 21, 2018

Kabul: The Taliban warned Kabul residents Monday to avoid “military centres” in the heavily fortified city, saying they are planning more attacks in the capital where civilians have long taken the brunt of the casualties.

The militant group has issued such warnings to civilians before, including during a failed attempt to take the western city of Farah last week, but it is believed to be the first time they have singled out Kabul.

The warning comes after the United Nations said the war-weary capital — where the Islamic State group is also stepping up its attacks — is already the deadliest place in the country for civilians.

The Taliban said they are planning more attacks on “the enemy´s military and intelligence centres” as part of an annual spring offensive.

“Therefore, to avoid civilian casualties and only cause damage to enemy military, we are asking Kabul residents to keep away… We don´t want even a single innocent civilian to be killed”, a statement published online said.

The group did not define what was meant by “military and intelligence centres”.

Such targets are difficult to avoid given the overcrowded city is the heart of the country´s intelligence, government and military operations and also plagued by traffic jams due to ubiquitous checkpoints and barriers.

“Any attacks or explosions, even a small one, would cause civilian casualties because military installations are located in the centre of the city near people´s houses,” political and military analyst Nik Mohammad told AFP. (more…)