IN THE NEWS: PAKISTAN – CPEC SHELVED? (SEPTEMBER 20, 2019)

Written by admin on Friday, September 20th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

CPEC shelved?
SOURCE: The News International
Friday, September 20, 2019

KARACHI: The $50 billion worth China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects launched amidst lot of fanfare by the PML-N government and they soon became so expedient that practically all political parties lined to take its credit.

Some analysts laid credit of the CPEC projects with the former dictator Gen (retd) Pervaiz Musharraf and the military leadership. It became so sacrosanct afterwards that mere objecting to the project would invite the label of treachery against the country. But then the pendulum swung the other way. After the inauguration of the PTI’s government into the office, the projects first came under scathing criticism of Minister for Trade Razzaq Daud and then Minister for Communication Murad Saeed who accused PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal of involvement in misappropriations in some CPEC projects and then all of them came to a seemingly grinding halt.

Now it has become a forgone conclusion that the CPEC projects have been shelved for all practical purposes. The former spokesman of Balochistan government’s Jan Muhammad Buledi told Deutsche Welle the incumbent government does not accord any priority to CPEC. Buledi said no progress was witnessed on the CPEC projects for Balochistan in the last one year adding the projects have seemingly been frozen. No development has been undertaken on the land acquired for Gwadar Airport, he said and added same goes with the 300MW electricity generation plant in Gwadar that was to be built by China for which land was also acquired but the development work is yet to start. Gwadar Port remains similarly frozen. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: PAKISTAN COURT GRANTS BAIL TO TWO PASHTUN POLITICAL LEADERS (SEPTEMBER 19, 2019)

Written by admin on Thursday, September 19th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Pakistan Court Grants Bail To Two Pashtun Lawmakers
SOURCE: Gandhara
Thursday, September 19, 2019 (Posted)

A court in northwestern Pakistan has granted bail to two lawmakers incarcerated for months for an alleged attack on an army check post near the Afghan border.

Lawyers for Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar said a judge in Bannu, a southern city in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, accepted their bail pleas at a September 18 hearing.

“It is big news that the court granted them bail,” Sangeen Khan, a lawyer and member of the legal team representing Wazir and Dawar, told Radio Mashaal. “Now they should be released soon.”

The two are senior leaders of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), a civil rights movement demanding security and rights for Pakistan’s Pashtuns, the country’s largest ethnic minority.

Abdul Latif Afridi, a senior lawyer heading the legal team for the lawmakers, said Justice Nasir Mehmood, a judge on the Peshawar High Court’s Bannu bench, granted his clients conditional bail, which will require them to report to the police every month.

“The judge gave a verbal order; we are waiting for the written one,” he told Pakistan’s daily Dawn. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: KHAN WARNS PAKISTANIS AGAINST JIHAD IN KASHMIR (SEPTEMBER 19, 2019)

Written by admin on Thursday, September 19th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

KHAN WARNS PAKISTANIS AGAINST JIHAD IN KASHMIR
SOURCE: Newsweek Pakistan
Thursday, September 19, 2019

*PRIME MINISTER SAYS INDIAN AUTHORITIES ARE ‘LOOKING FOR ANY EXCUSE’ TO CRACK DOWN ON KASHMIRIS

Prime Minister Imran Khan warned citizens on Wednesday that anyone who goes to fight jihad in Kashmir would hurt the territory’s cause, as anger simmers between Islamabad and New Delhi over the disputed region.

Indian authorities are waiting for “any excuse” to crack down in the Himalayan region, he warned, promising again to raise the issue at the United Nations General Assembly next week.

Tensions have spiked over Kashmir, parts of which are administered by both India and Pakistan, since Delhi moved on Aug. 5 to revoke the autonomy of the portion it controls. Since then, leaders in both countries have engaged in an escalating war of words, with Delhi warning that Pakistan—long alleged to be using proxy militant groups in Kashmir—was planning attacks.

Islamabad has promised to stand by the Kashmiris following the move and publicly accused India of carrying out a potential “genocide” in the region. India has flooded its side of Kashmir with troops in a security clampdown to prevent any violence, igniting outrage in Pakistan. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: TALIBAN MUST DEMONSTRATE COMMITMENT TO PEACE: POMPEO (SEPTEMBER 18, 2019)

Written by admin on Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Taliban Must Demonstrate Commitment To Peace: Pompeo
SOURCE: TOLO News
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

*Pompeo condemns the recent Taliban attacks on the people, institutions, and infrastructure of Afghanistan
* Suicide Attack at Ghani Campaign Rally Kills 26, Wounds 42
* Trump Could Meet Iran’s Rouhani At UN: Pompeo

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has condemned the Taliban’s Tuesday suicide attacks in Parwan province and Kabul, saying: “Taliban must begin to demonstrate a genuine commitment to peace rather than continue the violence and destruction.”

“Just today, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack carried out by a suicide bomber in Kabul that killed more than 20 Afghans,” Pompeo said in the statement, adding that they also claimed responsibility for the blast at President Ashraf Ghani’s campaign rally. This explosion in Charikar killed more than two dozen people waiting to hear President Ghani speak.

Pompeo said that Afghanistan has endured blackouts and other challenges as a result of Taliban attacks, referring to the downed power lines that carry electricity from Uzbekistan to hospitals, schools, and homes in many areas of the country.

“Through these attacks, the Taliban demonstrate blatant disregard for the people and institutions of Afghanistan,” Pompeo said, insisting that for “Afghans to truly reconcile” they must not “continue the violence and destruction that causes such inordinate harm to the Afghan people and the future of their country.” (more…)

IN THE NEWS: MADRASSA REGISTRATION LIKELY TO START NEXT MONTH (SEPTEMBER 18, 2019)

Written by admin on Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Madrassa registration likely to start next month
SOURCE: The News International
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training is all set to start the registration of over 35,000 religious seminaries (Madrassas) operating across the country from the next month.

The ministry was in constant contact with Madrassa s for finalizing the necessary arrangements in that regard, said Joint Education Adviser Rafiq Tahir on Wednesday.

Talking to APP, he said, all seminaries were bound to register themselves with the education ministry as no seminary would be allowed to function without registration.

A four page form, he said, has been prepared for the registration of seminaries.

It could be downloaded from ministry’s website within the next few days.
The forms should be submitted in regional offices along with the necessary documents, he said.

“Directorate General of Religious Education has already been established in Islamabad.

The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training has established country-wide 12 Registration Centres for registering seminaries. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: NEARLY NINE IN TEN AFGHANS ARE SUFFERING: GALLUP (SEPTEMBER 17, 2019)

Written by admin on Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Nearly nine In 10 Afghans Are Suffering: Gallup
SOURCE: TOLO News
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

*The percentage who rated their lives so poorly that they are considered “suffering” shot to a record high of 85%
* Study Finds Afghans ‘Slightly’ More Optimistic This Year
* Afghanistan Rice Production Increases By Four Percent

As the country is moving towards the presidential election – the third in Afghanistan’s history after 2001– a new survey by US analytics and advisory company Gallup shows high levels of suffering among Afghans who “remain hopeless” about their future.

The survey, which covers Afghans’ situation in 2018, shows a “bleak picture.”

Afghans’ average ratings of their current lives, and predicted ratings of their lives in five years, matched or fell below previous record lows for any country worldwide.

On a scale where “0” represents their worst possible life and “10” their best possible life, Afghans gave an average rating of 2.7 in 2018 — tied for the lowest in any country since Gallup began this survey. Asked to predict where their lives would be in five years on the same scale, Afghans’ average response was 2.3, a new low for any country in any year.

Afghans’ 2018 life ratings were remarkable not just for the low averages, but because this was the first time in more than a decade of data collection around the world that people’s predicted rating for their future lives was lower than their current-life rating (based on the population average). (more…)

IN THE NEWS: PAKISTAN AND INDIA FACE COMMON THREATS. CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE BIGGEST ONE (SEPTEMBER 17, 2019)

Written by admin on Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Pakistan and India face common threats. Climate change is the biggest one
SOURCE: Dawn Prism
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
By AHMAD AHSAN

*Collective action may just be what is needed to secure the lives and livelihoods of future generations

Climate change is no longer limited to books or scientific papers; it is a reality knocking on our doors.

Longer, sweltering summers bringing in record-breaking heat to South Asia are just one example. The harshest of conditions have yet to come, and
the entire region is woefully unprepared to meet the challenges.

While they may seem isolated, increasing instances of extreme weather are harbingers of a major climate shift for South Asia. Unlike transnational challenges like security and trade, climate change cannot be deterred by conventional methods or unilateral initiatives. Instead, synchronised common action is the viable way forward for sustainable progress to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Let’s look at some of the common environmental challenges facing Pakistan and India and propose strategic measures to address them.

Heatwaves

Over the past decade or so, the frequency of extreme weather phenomena — ranging from blistering summers to freezing cold winters — has increased. Nearly half of these events were heatwaves, surpassing the previous record highs, and resulting in a wave of mortality around the world.

Researchers point out that “the trend in global warming has contributed to the severity and probability of 82pc of record-hot days globally.”
In Pakistan and India, heatwaves have become somewhat of a norm, an expected part of the summer. As a matter of fact, just last year, Pakistan saw the highest official temperature recorded in the world — 50.2 degree Celsius in Nawabshah — and a week later, that record was broken when Jacobabad hit 51°C.

In 2015, a severe heatwave struck Karachi, breaking 40-year records, and resulting in nearly 2,000 casualties. As Edhi morgues and cemeteries started turning dead bodies away, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency attributed the event to climate change. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: INDIA IS CHANGING GAME FOR CHINA & PAKISTAN IN INDIAN OCCUPIED kASHMIR (SEPTEMBER 16, 2019)

Written by admin on Monday, September 16th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

India is changing game for China & Pakistan in IOK
SOURCE: The News International
Monday, September 16, 2019

RAWALPINDI: The US-China trade war has provided Indian Prime Minister Modi with an opportunity he couldn’t refuse: to change the game in Kashmir for China and Pakistan.

Back in August New Delhi terminated Article 370 of the Constitution, asserting its power in the disputed Kashmir region. This week, India called on China and Pakistan to suspend activities related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Azad Kashmir. “We reject the reference to Jammu and Kashmir in the joint statement issued by China and Pakistan after the recent visit of Chinese Foreign Minister,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar is quoted as saying in Hindu. “India has consistently expressed concerns to both China and Pakistan on the projects in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Kashmir.”

Pakistan and China desperately need CPEC. For Pakistan, CPEC is the express ticket to building its infrastructure, and sustain economic growth. For China, CPEC is the express link between Western China, the Middle East, and Africa, where China has growing interests. That can explain why Beijing has committed $46 billion to the project.

The problem is that CPEC passes through Pakistani regions claimed by India. That makes it a bumpy road, to say the least — Pakistan and India continue to fight for control of these regions. That’s why CPEC activities are moving slowly in the region. “So far CPEC activity in Pakistan occupied Kashmir has been limited to reconstruction and maintenance of the Karakoram Highway, which was built in the 60s,” says Ted Bauman, Senior Research Analyst and Economist at Banyan Hill Publishing. “But India has objected strenuously to new construction projects, including railways and pipelines. The problem for China is that the only other feasible route for road, rail and pipeline connections to Pakistan and its ports would be through Afghanistan’s Badakhshan pedicle. Afghanistan’s political instability and diplomatic alliance with India and the United States currently make that impossible.” (more…)

IN THE NEWS: THE AFGHAN PEACE DEAL: NOT DEAD YET (SEPTEMBER 16, 2019)

Written by admin on Monday, September 16th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

The Afghan peace deal: not dead yet
SOURCE: The Express Tribune
Monday, September 16, 2019
By KAMRAN YOUSAF

President Trump has again shown to the world why he is perceived as unpredictable. He is a leader who could do things others can’t even imagine. The latest example was Trump’s unprecedented plan to host the Taliban leaders at Camp David. Imagine the spectacle had that secret meeting gone through? It would have been the biggest story in recent times and one that would have been talked over years to come.

But Trump changed his mind at the last minute, calling off the meeting as well as an agreement with the Taliban. The killing of a US soldier in one of the recent terrorist attacks in Kabul was cited as the main reason for the cancellation, although there might be other factors that actually played a part. Even US commentators have speculated if the killing of American serviceman was the reason, the Trump administration would not have entered into talks in the first place since this year alone at least 16 soldiers have been killed in Taliban attacks. So, what could be the real reason? One assessment was that some in the US perceived the imminent peace deal with the Taliban as a document of surrender. John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Adviser, staunchly opposed peace talks with the Taliban. Apparently, he succeeded in scuttling the meeting at Camp David. But Bolton’s unceremonious removal suggests that Trump is still interested in a peace deal. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: FIFTH COLUMN: REMEMBER 9/11 AND WHY IT HAPPENED (SEPTEMBER 15, 2019)

Written by admin on Sunday, September 15th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Fifth Column: Remember 9/11 and why it happened
SOURCE: The Indian Express
Sunday, September 15, 2019
By TAVLEEN SINGH

*Kashmir may once have been a problem between Hindus and Muslims, but for many years now the real problem has been the spread in the Valley of jihadist Islam

Last week the world commemorated the 18th anniversary of 9/11. But, it saddened me that nothing was done to remember that the ideology behind that terrible tragedy has its epicentre in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. We in India cannot afford not to remember. Since Article 370 was removed, we have been repeatedly threatened with ‘nuclear’ jihad by senior members of Pakistan’s government. They speak the same language today as their jihadists do, which is scary.

Intelligence reports indicate an alarming increase in attempts to infiltrate jihadists into India since Kashmir lost its special status.

Article 370 was removed with overwhelming support of both Houses of our Parliament ,but is called an ‘annexation’ by Pakistan’s leaders. Their language has been so belligerent that there are fears of the imminent possibility of an attack like 26/11. It could happen any time, anywhere in India. With Pakistani ministers boasting that they have nuclear devices small enough to be delivered by hand, India cannot afford to ignore these warnings.

It is not just irresponsible leaders next door that should worry us but also the grim reality that the American President thinks that the Kashmir problem is a problem between Hindus and Muslims. Donald Trump seems to have a limited understanding of complicated political issues in faraway places so he can be forgiven for his ignorance about Kashmir. But, he should know that after 9/11, when Afghanistan stopped being a safe haven for jihadists, it was in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan that Osama bin Laden and his closest lieutenants found shelter and support. (more…)