MAP: AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN

Written by admin on Saturday, January 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: UNCOUTH ATTACK ON PARLIAMENT (JANUARY 19, 2018)

Written by admin on Friday, January 19th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Uncouth attack on parliament
SOURCE: Dawn
Friday, January 19, 2018
EDITORIAL

IMRAN Khan may be unapologetic and defiant, but it was a thoroughly distasteful and shameful remark made by him in Lahore.

Parliament has rightly censured Mr Khan and a political sidekick for their remarks during the opposition protest on Wednesday, and it is hoped that allies of Mr Khan and friends of the PTI will urge him to reconsider his tone and rhetoric ahead of what is expected to be a fierce campaign season.

Certainly, ugly sentiments and verbal attacks are not new in the political arena, and Mr Khan is not the only transgressor when it comes to the use of unparliamentary language.

But what is dismaying about Mr Khan and some of the PTI’s politics is the disdain for parliament in general.

It is one thing to excoriate political opponents and denounce them as corrupt, it is quite another to dismiss the very institution of parliament because the people have chosen elected representatives other than yourself and your party.

Indeed, contempt for parliament and the people’s will has been an uncomfortable underlying theme of PTI politics. Having preached an anti-status quo politics for many years, Mr Khan has in recent years vigorously embraced status quo politicians in a bid to finally win power at the federal level.

That, of course, is Mr Khan and the PTI’s choice and they are entitled to make it. But it does suggest an undemocratic mindset. What is now intolerable because another party has a majority in parliament would become tolerable if the same faces lined up behind Mr Khan.
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IN THE NEWS: U.S. REJECTS ACCUSATIONS IT GAVE RISE TO IS IN AFGHANISTAN (JANUARY 19, 2018)

Written by admin on Friday, January 19th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

US Rejects Accusations It Gave Rise to IS in Afghanistan
SOURCE: VOA
Friday, January 19, 2018

ISLAMABAD – The United States reiterated its resolve Thursday to help local forces eliminate Islamic State from Afghanistan and strongly refuted accusations Washington was behind the emergence of the terrorist group in the war-shattered country.

The remarks by the U.S. ambassador to Kabul, John Bass, are the first formal reaction to the repeated accusations in recent months by some Afghans, including former President Hamid Karzai, along with Russia, that U.S. troops are aiding IS militants in Afghanistan.

‘Let me take this opportunity, since these rumors continue to circulate, to emphatically state that the United States has not brought Daesh to Afghanistan. The United States has not ever supported Daesh, its creation, its horrible attacks in any form, or fashion,’ said Bass, while addressing his first news conference in Kabul.

Daesh is the Arabic acronym for IS.

In a series of interviews to media groups, including VOA, late last year, Karzai called IS a ‘tool’ of the U.S. The former Afghan president repeated his allegations Thursday in India, saying it was up to the United States to explain the rise of Daesh and extremism in his country.

‘Some of Afghanistan’s problems are foreign. Extremism is the product of U.S.-Pakistan cooperation, and Afghanistan has to face implications. The U.S. must explain,’ Karzai said in New Delhi while taking part in a geopolitical conference known as the Raisina Dialogue.

U.S. Ambassador Bass said there was ‘absolutely no way’ to work out peace or reconciliation with Daesh in Afghanistan.
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IN THE NEWS: AFGHAN ARMY TO COLLAPSE IN SIX MONTHS WITHOUT U.S. HELP, SAYS GHANI (JANUARY 18, 2018)

Written by admin on Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Afghan army to collapse in six months without US help: Ghani
SOURCE: Dawn
By ANWAR IQBAL
Tuesday, January 18, 2018

WASHINGTON: President Ashraf Ghani has said that the Afghan National Army will not last more than six months without US support and the Afghan government will also collapse.

Mr Ghani acknowledged his government’s almost absolute dependence on Washington in an interview to a television show CBS 60 Minutes, broadcast earlier this week.

But Gen John Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said in the same programme that with America’s new strategy and with increased US pressure on Pakistan to cooperate, he was certain he could win Washington’s longest war, which was now in its 16th year.

According to a transcript released on Tuesday, a CBS journalist asked the Afghan president to comment on what she had heard from people in Afghanistan: “If the US pulled out, your government would collapse in three days.”

“From the resource perspective, they are absolutely right. We will not be able to support our army for six months without US support, and US capabilities,” President Ghani responded.

In a report titled “Kabul under siege while America’s longest war rages on”, the US news channel noted that “in 16 years, the Afghan war has cost 2,400 American lives and $1 trillion. But with the country’s capital under siege, the end still seems far away.”
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IN THE NEWS: U.S. AFGHANISTAN STRATEGY IS WORKING, SAYS HALEY (JANUARY 18, 2018)

Written by admin on Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Haley: US Afghanistan Strategy Is Working
SOURCE: VOA
Thursday, January 18, 2018

UNITED NATIONS – A senior U.S. official said Wednesday the Trump administration’s Afghanistan strategy is working.

“They [the Afghan government] are starting to see the Taliban concede, they are starting to see them move towards coming to the table,” said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

Haley made the remarks after returning from a two-day U.N. Security Council mission to the South Asian nation, where diplomats met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and other senior Afghan officials.

In August, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his strategy for ending the nearly two-decade-long war in Afghanistan. He said it would include deploying more U.S. troops to the country and intensifying pressure on neighboring Pakistan not to harbor terrorists. Trump said his policy would not focus on nation-building, but on “killing terrorists.”

Earlier this month, the administration announced it would suspend $1.9 billion in aid to Pakistan until Islamabad takes ‘decisive action’ against the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan insurgent group known as the Haqqani Network.

The funding freeze affects $1 billion for military equipment and another $900 million in payments to defray the cost of counterterrorism operations.

Haley said the Afghan government asked the Security Council to apply more international pressure on Pakistan to get it to come to the table and change its behavior.

“They continue to make 10 steps forward, and with Pakistan they feel like they continue to take steps backward,” she said.
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IN THE NEWS: ‘WE WANT AN END TO THE SHARIF SULTANATE’: PAT-LED DRIVE TO ‘TOPPLE GOVT’ KICKS OFF IN LAHORE (JANUARY 17, 2018)

Written by admin on Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

‘We want an end to the Sharif sultanate’: PAT-led drive to ‘topple govt’ kicks off in Lahore
SOURCE: Dawn.
Monday, January 17, 2018

* The conscience of Pakistan has awoken: Tahirul Qadri
* Zardari lashes out at Nawaz
* We are all one: Khursheed Shah
* Initial uncertainty

The Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and other opposition parties on Wednesday kicked off their movement to “force the PML-N out of power — both in the federal and provincial governments” with a protest staged on Lahore’s Mall Road.

PAT chief Tahirul Qadri arrived at the venue a little before 5pm and was welcomed by a large crowd of gathered supporters and prominent leaders from multiple political parties. PPP flags mingled with the PAT tricolour and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) green-and-red standard as supporters waited for their leaders to address the gathering.

The chiefs of PTI, PPP, Jamaat-i-Islami and the PML-Q had on Tuesday reaffirmed their pledge to be part of the inaugural rally on The Mall.

Asif Ali Zardari was slated to address the crowd before evening prayers, allowing Imran Khan to take over after maghrib after the PTI refused to share a stage with Bhutto’s party. However, that plan seemed destined for problems as the PPP co-chairman arrived late for his address.

The conscience of Pakistan has awoken: Tahirul Qadri

PAT chief Tahirul Qadri began his address by saying that the conscience of the nation has woken up.

He said the fact that the opposition parties had joined hands to present a united front has “everything to do with the blood of the martyrs of Model Town”, and of Zainab, the minor girl who was raped and murdered in Kasur earlier this month.
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IN THE NEWS: WE KILLED BENAZIR BHUTTO, TTP CLAIMS IN ITS BOOK (JANUARY 16, 2018)

Written by admin on Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

We killed Benazir Bhutto, TTP claims in its book
SOURCE: The Express Tribune
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

* TTP leadership denied any involvement in the murder until Bhutto’s 10th death anniversary

A book, “Inqilab Mehsood South Waziristan – From British Raj to American Imperialism” released by the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan claims responsibility for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan in 2007.

“She allegedly planned to collaborate with the US against the mujahideen if she returned to power,” is the reason stated by the book for the assassination.

“The return of Benazir Bhutto was planned at the behest of the Americans as they had given her a plan against the Mujahideed-e-Islam. Baitullah had received information of the plan,” the book further claims.
According to reports, no group had previously claimed responsibility for Bhutto’s murder until this claim in TTP’s book.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007.

Former president Pervez Musharraf had even blamed TTP for the attack.

The book claims that two suicide bombers, Bilal and Ikramullah were tasked to carry out the attack.

“Bomber Bilal first fired at Benazir Bhutto from his pistol and the bullet hit her neck. Then he detonated his explosive jacket and blew himself up among the participants of the procession,” the book claimed.
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IN THE NEWS: AFGHANS AWARD TRUMP ‘MEDAL OF BRAVERY’ (JANUARY 16, 2018)

Written by admin on Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Afghans award Trump ‘Medal of Bravery’
SOURCE: Afghanistan Sun
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
By ANI

Kabul [Afghanistan], Jan 16 (ANI): The residents of Afghanistan’s Logar province have awarded United States President Donald Trump a ‘Medal of Bravery’ over his recent stance against Pakistan.

“This is a handmade medal from available gold,” RadioFreeEurope Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, citing Said Farhad Akbari, a community leader in the province, as saying.

The lettering on the medal reads, “This Bravery Medal is from the Afghan people to Donald Trump, president of the United States of America.”

The medal is made with funds collected by Afghans from the Logar province, 60 kilometers in the south of Kabul.

It is worth 45,000 Afghanis (645 dollars) approximately and has been made out of 15 grams of Gold, according to the reports.

The bravery award has been handed over to the US Embassy in Kabul.

“US Ambassador in Kabul John R. Bass has promised that he will soon hand over the medal to President Trump,” said Akbari.

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump, penned a strongly-worded Twitter post. (ANI)

IN THE NEWS: TALIBAN DENIES ATTENDING AFGHAN PEACE TALKS IN TURKEY (JANUARY 15, 2018)

Written by admin on Monday, January 15th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Taliban Denies Attending Afghan Peace Talks in Turkey
SOURCE: VOA
Monday, January 15 , 2018

Afghanistan government negotiators and Taliban officials have reportedly opened “unofficial” talks in Turkey to discuss “mechanisms” that could pave the ground for initiating a formal peace dialogue.

Participants of the meeting have told Afghan media the talks have been arranged in cooperation with the Turkish government.

Officials from the Taliban’s Qatar-based office and other insurgent groups are said to be among the attendees. The Afghan government has not commented on the discussions.

But a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, has rejected the reports about the group’s participation in talks in Turkey.

The reported peace meeting in Turkey comes as a U.N. Security Council delegation is in Kabul holding talks with Afghan leaders on security and political issues in the war-torn country. Government officials and the visiting U.N. delegation have been tight lipped about the ongoing meetings.

Authorities have tightened security in the embattled Afghan capital and diverted traffic in key roads to safeguard movements of the 15-member delegation.

The visit comes as security around Afghanistan has deteriorated, with government forces and Taliban insurgents engaged in staging battlefield operations and guerrilla attacks.
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IN THE NEWS: REGIONAL PATH TO PEACE (JANUARY 14, 2018)

Written by admin on Sunday, January 14th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Regional path to peace
SOURCE: Dawn
Sunday, January 14, 2018
EDITORIAL

THE occupant of the White House in the US may have his sanity questioned by many in his country as he appears to impulsively fire off policy suggestions over Twitter.

For instance, the financial assistance cut-off to Pakistan has been a hasty response to a presidential tweet. But Pakistan is doing the right thing by apparently keeping the lines of communication open with the US.

The public response by the Pakistani state has been far from consistent or easily understood — perhaps because of political distractions on the civilian government’s side and the military leadership’s unwillingness to be forthright about the relationship with the US.

Encouragingly, though, it seems that Pakistan’s combined leadership is suggesting that the US should not cross red lines even as this country seeks to find areas of cooperation with a more belligerent American administration.

Certainly, the threat of unilateral action inside Pakistan by the US is intolerable and could create impossible-to-contain tensions.

The abortive Angoor Adda incursion in South Waziristan Agency by the US during the last months of the George W. Bush administration and the Salala incident during the first term of Barack Obama suggest that even without the cynical fanning of anti-US sentiment among the public by elements within the Pakistani state, unilateral US military actions can stoke fierce public opposition that no government, or indeed the state itself, would be able to defuse easily.
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