MAP: AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN

Written by admin on Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

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: GHANI UPBEAT ABOUT WINNING THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN (SEPTEMBER 21, 2017)

Written by admin on Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Ghani Upbeat About Winning The War In Afghanistan
SOURCE: TOLO News
Thursday, September 21, 2017

*President Ashraf Ghani said the increase in the number of troops is in accordance with the bilateral security agreements between Kabul and Washington

President Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday night at the Peace and Security meeting at Asia Society, that under the US’s new war strategy he is sure there is a bigger chance of winning the war against terrorism – more so now than before.

He said the new strategy focuses on strengthening the Afghan forces and increasing pressure on Pakistan therefore he is optimistic about the results of the policy.

“The other components of the security (strategy) are regional and domestic and in that context I would like to welcome the announcement of the South Asia strategy by the (US President Donald) Trump administration.

“I want to assure every American parent that American forces are not going to be involved in conflict,” he added.

He said the increase in troops is within the limits and understandings of the bilateral security agreement and the strategic partnership agreement.

The president said one of the reasons behind insecurity is the lack of capacity of the Afghan National and Local Police force members.

“The Afghan Army has been able to retake every single district within days. Our problem is in hold, because our police is not substantially reformed and is not at that capacity. But this is changing,” he said referring to reports on the percentage of government’s control of Afghanistan’s territory. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: LHC SEEKS RECORD OF BENAZIR MURDER CASE AFTER ZARDARI CHALLENGES ATC’S VERDICT (SEPTEMBER 21, 2017)

Written by admin on Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

LHC seeks record of Benazir murder case after Zardari challenges ATC’s verdict
SOURCE: Dawn
Thursday, September 21, 2017
By TAHIR NASEER

The Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Rawalpindi bench on Thursday ordered that the record in the Benazir Bhutto murder case be provided to the court by the end of November, after it approved PPP-Parliamentarian’s President Asif Ali Zardari’s three appeals against the verdict given by the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in August.

An LHC bench — comprising Justice Mohammad Tariq Abbasi and Justice Habib Amirullah — will then start the proceedings regarding the appeals from November 27.

On September 18, the former president challenged the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) verdict of Aug 31, while seeking the death penalty for retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and two senior police officers, who were sentenced to 17 years in prison in connection with Bhutto’s murder.

Last month, ATC Judge Asghar Ali Khan had acquitted five alleged suspects affiliated with the banned the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), but convicted police officers Saud Aziz and Khurram Shehzad for criminal negligence.

Former president Musharraf was also declared a proclaimed offender and his movable and immovable properties were ordered to be confiscated.

In three appeals, filed through his counsel Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari and Sardar Latif Khosa, Zardari has challenged the acquittal of the five TTP suspects — Rafaqat Hussain, Husnain Gul, Sher Zaman, Rashid Ahmed and Aitzaz Shah.

A second appeal objects to the 17-year prison term awarded to Saud Aziz and Khurram Shehzad, while the third asks why the ATC judge separated the case of Gen Musharraf, when 68 witnesses — including US lobbyist Mark Siegel — had testified in the matter a couple of years ago. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: A GLANCE OVER TALIBAN-ISIS RELATIONSHIP IN AFGHANISTAN (SEPTEMBER 20, 2017)

Written by admin on Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

A Glance over Taliban-ISIS Relationship in Afghanistan
SOURCE: Daily Outlook Afghanistan
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
By GHULAM AHYAH HUSSAINI

The self-styled Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) emerged in Iraq and extended its reach in Syria. Losing ground recently, this group seeks safe havens in other parts of Islamic countries. Afghanistan, Libya and Sudan loom a primary focus for the ISIS group. Considering the presence of al-Qaeda and Arab militants in Afghanistan previously, the eastern part of this country is overwhelmed by the volume of potential terrorism plots. However, Afghanistan is not likely to turn to Iraq or Syria due to some particular circumstances.

The belief that the Taliban seek to strip off the followers of other sects has been too exaggerated. Although during the takeover of Mazar-e-Sharif in 1377 Afghan calendar, those who lost their lives were Shiites, yet there are two issues to be taken into account: First, their attack was out of revenge following their defeat, in which Hezb-e-Wahdat played the crucial role. Second, foreign members of the Taliban – who treated other sects very harshly and currently allied themselves with ISIS in Iraq and Syria – were reportedly in the front-line.

The Taliban did not claim the responsibility of attacking Shiites in organized way, either. For example, a radical Pakistani group claimed the responsibility of the bloody incident of Kabul in Ashura in 1390 and Taliban, further, condemned the suicide attack on Enlightenment Movement through issuing a statement and attributed this attack to the groups that seek to fuel sectarianism. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: ZARDARI WHO SOLD TICKETS IN BLACK BECAME BILLIONAIRE: IMRAN (SEPTEMBER 20, 2017)

Written by admin on Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Zardari who sold tickets in black became billionaire: Imran
SOURCE: The News International
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

HYDERABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan said on Tuesday that his party was not battling against individuals but corruption and the biggest disease plaguing Sindh was the Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.

Addressing a public meeting here, Imran said that nowhere in the country was corruption as rampant as it was in Sindh. The money that should be spent on education and healthcare of the people of Sindh is sent to Dubai where it is being used to build palaces, he added. He said Zardari who sold tickets in black became a billionaire, adding mockery has been made of the country by bringing Bilawal Bhutto in politics.

Imran Khan said corrupt leaders like Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif would not have been exonerated if the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was powerful.

“After Nawaz we are coming after Zardari,” said Imran as he lashed out at the PPP co-chairman and former president at a rally in Hyderabad.

“Zardari must be sent to jail for corruption.”

Accusing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari of being partners in corruption, he said that both the leaders shook hands on the pretext of Charter of Democracy. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: MOST OF 3,000 EXTRA U.S. TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN EN ROUTE: MATTIS (SEPTEMBER 19, 2017)

Written by admin on Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

MOST OF 3,000 EXTRA U.S. TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN EN ROUTE: MATTIS
SOURCE: Newsweek Pakistan
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

*U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY SAYS HE CAN’T GIVE ANY MORE INFORMATION THAT COULD POTENTIALLY HELP THE ENEMY

Most of the 3,000 additional U.S. troops being deployed to Afghanistan under President Donald Trump’s new strategy to shore up security are on their way to the war-torn country, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday.

Trump last month announced a new Afghanistan policy to knock back the Taliban, who are continuing to mount deadly attacks, control large areas of territory and are killing local Afghan forces in the thousands.

Mattis told Pentagon reporters that he didn’t want to give precise numbers but said he was sending “exactly over 3,000” troops to Afghanistan, where they will bolster the approximately 11,000 American forces already there. “Frankly I haven’t signed the last of the orders right now as we look at specifics,” he said. “Most of them are on their way or under orders now and I’d prefer not to give any more information that helps the enemy.”

U.S. generals have for months been calling the situation in Afghanistan a “stalemate,” despite years of support for Afghan partners, continued help from a NATO coalition and an overall cost in fighting and reconstruction to the United States of more than $1 trillion. The war turns 16 next month, and is America’s longest-ever conflict.

Trump, who had previously advocated a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, changed his mind after U.S. military leaders convinced him that the costs of pulling out would be worse than remaining.

The president’s new strategy for Afghanistan will take a page from successful U.S. efforts over the past two years to strengthen Iraqi security forces against the Islamic State group with better training, logistical support and the battlefield backup of U.S. artillery and airstrikes on enemy positions.

The United States is also pressing for NATO partners to increase their own troop levels in Afghanistan.

IN THE NEWS: THE GAMES WE PLAY (SEPTEMBER 19, 2017)

Written by admin on Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

The games we play
SOURCE: Daily Times
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
By RAOOF HASAN

“Men at some time are masters of their fate; The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” — Shakespeare: Julius Caesar

It is generally understood that track-II engagements can potentially play an important role in bridging differences between countries. This is primarily so because what cannot and may not be discussed at the government-to-government level for one or the other reason can be debated candidly at this level for understanding the underlying perspectives as also gauging and formulating prospects for generating commonalities.

I am also amazed at how uninterrupted engagement at track-II level can bring out the hidden demons and how easily can these be stated and debated, thus clearing the path to sustainable and productive interaction.

The Afghanistan-Pakistan Bilateral Dialogue, jointly conducted by the Regional Peace Institute (RPI) and the Royal Danish Defence College (RDDC) is an apt example of the above. The track was initiated last May with its first round in Kabul amidst heightened tensions between the two neighbouring countries. My counterpart at RDDC and I wondered loudly what kind of results, if any at all, could be expected from the maiden engagement. But, after barely two rounds, one in Kabul and the other in Islamabad, it has not only reiterated our faith in this process, but also strengthened our resolve to continue further with it.

The stalemate usually emanates from a surfeit of bloated egos clashing across tin roofs, thus creating an unbearable crescendo of noise which signifies nothing except an unwillingness to make a move to less noisy places. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: CONSPIRACIES CONTINUE AGAINST PML-N: ABBASI (SEPTEMBER 18, 2017)

Written by admin on Monday, September 18th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Conspiracies continue against PML-N: Abbasi
SOURCE: Dawn
Monday, September 18, 2017
By AZFAR-UL-ASHFAQUE

KARACHI: Minutes after a meeting with his predecessor Nawaz Sharif in London on Sunday, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi conceded that conspiracies against his Pakistan Muslim League-N party continued but added that one should fight against such plots.

Before leaving for New York to attend the upcoming session of the UN General Assembly, Mr Abbasi called on the ousted prime minister who is currently in London in connection with the medical treatment of his wife Kulsoom.

As soon as he came out of the meeting, he was surrounded by reporters who threw a volley of questions at him. However, the PM spoke briefly to the media and avoided a direct answer to political questions.

When asked about allegations being levelled by certain party members regarding a plot against the PML-N, he said, with a smile: “Conspiracies are continuing and there is nothing new about it. Conspiracies shall be dealt with [politically].”

Mr Sharif also spoke to the media separately. When asked about claims of irregularities during the NA-120 by-election, Mr Sharif said he would make a comment later.

PM holds meeting with Nawaz Sharif in London

He was asked whether he thought the irregularities in the by-poll were actually the part of the alleged plot against the PML-N and him. Mr Sharif, however, parried the question and only said that his party was reviewing the situation.

He also chose not to reply a question about the references filed against him and his family members.

In reply to a question, he said his meeting with PM Abbasi focused on national and political issues.

Earlier, Mr Abbasi in an interview to a private news channel said that action would be taken against Mr Sharif if an accountability court issued orders for his arrest. “We have to apply [court order] ..we [will] have no choice.”

The anchorperson asked Mr Abbasi whether his government would implement the directives of the Election Commission of Pakistan to arrest Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Imran Khan. He said the directives would have to be implemented and the officers would have no other options but to comply with them.

To another question, he said there was a need to amend Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution as only the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) could fulfil the requirements of those articles. However, he added, that those articles should be amended only after evolving consensus.

When asked whether Mr Sharif would appear before the accountability court on Sept 19, PM Abbasi said his lawyers had been representing him and the National Accountability Bureau could call him if deemed it necessary. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: THE ALLIANCE IN QUESTION (SEPTEMBER 17, 2017)

Written by admin on Sunday, September 17th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

The alliance in question
SOURCE: The News on Sunday
Sunday, September 17, 2017
By ATHER NAQVI

*Does the military alliance of Muslim countries adequately address the problem of terrorism in the Muslim world?

Pakistan joining and heading the 41-nation Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT) seems to have raised more questions than it has answered.

To begin with, the secrecy around the terms of reference of the alliance was pointed out in newspapers. What is its mandate? How will the decisions be taken? What will be the implications for Pakistan and the region, including Iran and Qatar, which is divided on clearly drawn sectarian lines?

A short backgrounder first. According to news reports, the government of Pakistan gave its approval to former chief of army staff General (r) Raheel Sharif in March this year to lead the alliance, issuing him a no objection certificate (NOC). In January this year, Sharif was appointed as the chief of Islamic military alliance and posted in Saudi Arabia. In 2015, Saudi Arabia had announced the formation of the military coalition to combat terrorism.

Since Raheel Sharif left for Riyadh in April this year to assume the command of the IMAFT, questions have been asked about the purpose of joining such an initiative and whether an NOC was issued to Sharif for leading the group. On paper, the alliance, mentioned as the brainchild of Saudi defence minister and deputy crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, is meant to help member states deal with the problem of terrorism.

But the absence of important regional players like Iran, Iraq and Syria from the alliance strengthens the notion that the coalition gives a sectarian message to counter the influence of Iran in the region. Iran has expressed its reservations about Pakistan leading the alliance. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: CONTROVERSIAL DAMS: PAKISTAN ASKS WORLD BANK TO SET UP ARBITRATION COURT (SEPTEMBER 16, 2017)

Written by admin on Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Controversial dams: Pakistan asks World Bank to set up arbitration court
SOURCE: The Express Tribune
Saturday, September 16, 2017
By HASNAAT MALIK

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has requested the World Bank to fulfil its obligation to establish a court of arbitration to settle its water dispute with India in the light of the Indus Waters Treaty.

The request came after delegations of India and Pakistan met at the World Bank headquarters on Thursday and Friday for talks on the way forward in the dispute involving India’s plans to build Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelecytric plants. The Pakistani delegation was led by Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali.

Earlier, the secretary-level talks between the two countries failed to resolve the impasse on choice of forum for the settlement of the dispute.

Pakistan had raised objections to India’s plans at the Permanent Indus Commission more than a decade ago. When the objections were not addressed, Islamabad approached the World Bank on August 19, 2016 for the court of arbitration as provided in the Indus Waters Treaty.

Subsequently, on October 4, 2016, India made a request for appointment of neutral expert to adjudicate in the dispute. The World Bank initially agreed to set up both the fora but later “paused” the two processes, fearing their separate rulings might conflict with each other.

In an effort to end the impasse, the World Bank invited the water resources secretaries of the two countries for consultations. In the first round in Washington on July 31 and August 1 this year, Pakistan proposed amendments to the designs to make the Indian project treaty compliant.

But in the latest round of the talks in September, India not only refused to accept any of the design amendments proposed by Pakistan but also refused to agree to any of the dispute settlement options suggested by the World Bank. (more…)