Written by admin on Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

we are out of office during the weekend

On our return on Monday we will publish our selection of articles.

Afghanistan and Pakistan



Written by admin on Friday, October 21st, 2016

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

SOURCE: Newsweek Pakistan
Friday, October 21, 2016


The U.N. on Thursday warned anew of a deteriorating crisis of displacement in Afghanistan as the conflict escalates, imploring the government and international donors to step up support especially for a “lost generation” of children.

More than 323,000 Afghans were internally displaced across the country in the first 10 months of this year, according to U.N. agencies, in a continuation of an upward trend over the last four years. “Warnings by humanitarian partners suggest that many more IDPs could be displaced by the end of the year, yet attention and resources allocated to their needs seem to be waning rather than increasing,” U.N. special rapporteur Chaloka Beyani said in Kabul. “The displacement picture in Afghanistan is changing as the conflict evolves and intensifies. Displacement is becoming more protracted for more people as the security situation has led many to make the difficult decision not to return to their homes.”

Beyani called on the Afghan government and its international partners to step up emergency responses for those in “protracted displacement.”

Tens of thousands of Afghans have been uprooted from their homes as the Taliban have stepped up their insurgency across the nation—from Kunduz in the north to Helmand in the south. Children, in particular, have paid a heavy price. “It is no exaggeration to speak of a lost generation of displaced Afghan children deprived of education since children constitute about 56 percent of the displaced population,” Beyani said.

Aid groups have warned that yet more displacement is likely to take place as the conflict intensifies before the onset of winter, when fighting usually tapers off.


Written by admin on Friday, October 21st, 2016

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Afghan army: unmerited appointments and promotions
SOURCE: Daily Times
Friday, October 21, 2016

*The Afghan defence ministry is losing as many as 5,000 soldiers and officers every month in cases of desertion and casualties, while only 3,000 soldiers have been recruited

Afghan security forces are undergoing a serious security crisis. NATO and the US lost thousands of troops, and spent half a trillion dollars to build a strong army, but now they seem unwilling to address the exponentially growing corruption culture in the Afghan armed forces. The army that was nurtured under foreign tutelage is dependent on American and NATO stipendiary, and it now depends on the US army how to use them, where, against whom, and for what purposes. But one thing is clear that the Afghan army has lost the support of civilian population.

Civilian causalities rose to a record level as the Taliban retrieved sophisticated weapons from their allies within the army headquarters.

Desertion and retention have become a persistent challenge for ANA commanders as thousands of soldiers and officers joined either Taliban or Daesh terrorist groups. The Afghan defence ministry is losing as many as 5,000 soldiers and officers every month in cases of desertion and casualties, while only 3,000 soldiers have been recruited.

In February, the ANA arrested and disarmed 30 cops with alleged Taliban ties, including the police chief of Helmand’s Sangin district. Drug trafficking is another serious challenge where, according to the Russian Narcotics Agency report, almost a third of the ANA officers turned to drug trafficking. Army generals and officers are deeply involved in drug trafficking and kidnapping for ransom. The question of merited appointment yet remains to be addressed as the military headquarters and the interior ministry have done nothing to select or appoint officers on merit or to provide oversight to ensure merited promotions. However, last week, dozens of army officers complained about irregular promotion.

Those who fought against insurgents during the last 15 years are removed from their posts and those who enjoyed a comfortable life in Kabul are promoted to the rank of general. The ambassador of the European Union to Afghanistan expressed his dismay that the number of Afghan army generals exceeded several times than those in Britain, Italy, Germany and France.

Spokesman for the Defence Ministry General Dawlat Waziri told the ToloNews that Prime Minister Gul Buddin Hekmatyar, President Burhanuddin Rabbani and President Hamid Karzai promoted hundreds of their political allies to the rank of general. Having sensed the flow of troubled waters, the Afghan president took serious notice of the issue, and warned that anyone who interferes in the selection process would be considered a criminal.


Written by admin on Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Taliban-Kabul talks begin
SOURCE: The Express Tribune
Thursday, October 20, 2016 (Posted)

On the 15th anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan, talks between representatives of Taliban and the Afghan Government have taken place in Doha, Qatar. Several rounds of talks had been held in late September and early October. The Afghan side was led by Mr Stanikzai, Afghan chief of Intelligence, while the Taliban team also included brother of the late Mullah Omar. A US representative also participated in the negotiations.

Taliban agreeing to meet with Kabul government’s and US officials is a slight modification of their stance on the issue of parleys with the Afghan Government. After the death of Mullah Mansoor, the movement had resolved not to sit for talks with government representatives or with the Americans. It appears that those in favour of entering into negotiations have prevailed. An important dimension of the interaction is the near-absence of Pakistani mediators. The Doha round of talks has been preceded by arrests, in Pakistan,of a number of top ranking leaders of the Taliban movement mainly in Balochistan’s Pakhtun areas.

The direct contacts between Taliban and the Kabul regime also show that communication channels have been established between the two entities—bypassing Islamabad. This is seen as a major victory for Kabul in its endeavours to seek direct access to the Taliban leadership without soliciting help from Islamabad. The Doha talks also show the deepening distrust between the Taliban and Pakistani officials. A breakdown of Islamabad-Kabul contacts is another factor that forced Ashraf Ghani’s government to intensify efforts to engage the Taliban in negotiations.

Perhaps the most important cause of the Kabul government’s keenness to open talks with the Taliban is the relentless offensive launched by the latter in recent weeks and the impending fears of the fall of many towns both in North Afghanistan as well as the Taliban’s strongholds of Helmand, Kabul is also genuinely worried about any escalation in the number of defections from the army and the police in the wake of the Taliban advances into government, held areas across the country.

But the Doha engagement would pose problems for the Taliban if the talks don’t deliver any tangible outcome. That is highly doubtful. Because the fundamental issue is a timetable for withdrawal of all foreign forces.

The US Administration and the Kabul government are not desperately keen to organise the withdrawal of coalition forces for a host of reasons.

Unless there is a change of policy or perception, either in the US or in the Afghan Government on this critical issue, there is no hope of any convergence of views between the Taliban and their interlocutors.


Written by admin on Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

India’s Foreign Policy and the China-Pakistan Axis 2016
SOURCE: South Asia Analysis Group
Thursday, October 20, 2016

India’s foreign policy has far too long been vainly straitjacketed by pious hopes that Indian appeasement policies of the 2004-14 era towards China and Pakistan would induce moderation in their adversarial stances against India.

That hangover persisted for the period 2014-16 period till recently after incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi belatedly realised that all his personal diplomacy and political outreaches to China and Pakistan were not finding positive responses in neither Beijing nor in Islamabad.

The strategic reality underscoring the Chinese and Pakistani lack of positive responses being that both singly earlier and now jointly, have a strategic convergence in arresting India’s emergence as a major Power.

This further gets enmeshed with both China and Pakistan feeling nervous about India’s growing strategic proximity to the United States.

While the Indian Armed Forces in their strategic thinking and contingency planning have for decades been alive to the possibility of a ‘Dual China-Pakistan Military Threat to India’, the resonance of such a reality did not find adequate echoes in the corridors of power in New Delhi nor reflected in any revised policy formulations on China and Pakistan.

The Indian policy establishment seemingly became alive and conscious to the reality of the military potency of the China-Pakistan Axis, its dangerous and disruptive implications for Indian security only after 2014. Whatever little doubt that still persisted on his score stood finally dispensed when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan in April 2015 and announced China’s grandiose plans for the $ 52 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor. As highlighted in my Book “China-India Military Confrontation: 21st Century Perspectives” (January 2016), with such a move China facilitated by Pakistan, had turned the flanks of India’s military postures in Ladakh and the remainder of J&K Sate. The China-Pakistan Dual Military Threat now stood concretised.

To substantiate the imperatives of India redrawing its foreign policy calculations and stances on the China-Pakistan Axis military threat to India, it becomes essential to briefly examine China’s and Pakistan’s adversarial stances against India during the period 2014-to date in 2016.


Written by admin on Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Is Pakistan Really Isolated?
SOURCE: Daily Times
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Since the introduction and practice of modern international system, states tend to shape and reshape policies under the regional or international settings. There is no permanent friend, neither foe in contemporary world. It is however, a country’s geographical location and strategic significance that makes it attractive or non-attractive. A state, despite its internal incompetency and inadequacy can still matter for many if it has greater magnetism for regional or extra-regional players. Pakistan fits well for this definition. On the one hand it is dealing with decades long home grown malfunctions like corruption, bad governance, load shedding, militancy and political hassles but on the contrary it holds strategic geography with plenty of ingredients to appeal global powers.

In the past few years, rumors have been roaming about Islamabad’s diplomatic failure and that its foreign policy is nothing but a disaster.

The United States’ Indian romance where it not only signed several economic ventures but also concluded defense agreements (e.g. LEMO 2016, Indo-US Nuclear Deal 2008), thus hinting a shift in South Asian policy and a possible good bye to Pakistan. Moreover, Washington’s ‘do more’ demand has again surfaced and its discomfort with Islamabad is evident from the cutting in military aid (Coalition Support Fund) and refusal of giving subsidy in the purchase of F-16 aircrafts. The US has also been employing all sorts of pressure on Pakistan after the Mumbai Attacks of 2008 and Uri Attack of 2016 and demanded a swift yet subtle Pakistani response of cooperation with India in hunting down offenders of these incidents.

The other signs of isolation stemmed from the Islamic countries e.g. Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Arabia kept cordial connections with Pakistan in times of trials and have been lending hands in tackling financial woes and in determining political strife sporadically. However, since Pakistan opted to be neutral in Yemen war, Saudis have found it hard to digest. Although there was no startling response from Riyadh yet the level of bilateral engagements have shrunk. Earlier this year Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud warmly welcomed Prime Minister Modi and showed a possible tilt towards New Delhi and against traditional ally Pakistan. Non-payment of dues and detention of thousands of Pakistani laborers in Saudi Arabia can also be seen as a Saudi discomposure with Islamabad.


Written by admin on Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

US Leaders Ignore Warnings of Afghanistan Over Corruption
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The United States leaders persistently ignored warnings that Afghan government’s highlevels of corruption would undo the rebuilding process, according to reports.

American officials received persistent, stark warnings that Afghanistan’s entrenched culture of official corruption would undermine their efforts to rebuild the country after the West’s military invasion 15 years ago, according to recently declassified diplomatic cables and internal government reports.

The diversion of Afghan resources and Western aid for private gain would drain vitally-needed funds from the country’s reconstruction and alienate its citizenry, the public and private reports all said. That would in turn fuel renewed public support for the West’s enemy – the Taliban, whose social brutality notoriously included draconian punishments for official corruption.

But the US officials in charge of rebuilding the country largely failed to heed these alarms, according to their own assessments. Afghanistan’s corruption, said Ryan Crocker, the U.S ambassador from 2011 to 2012, in a newly-released interview with a team of official auditors, was “the ultimate point of failure for our efforts.”

Washington has paid a steep price for its mistakes – it has invested more than $800 billion USD in Afghanistan, including about $100 billion in direct payments, and lost more than 2,300 American lives over the past 15 years. At least a tenth of the country’s population is still under the Taliban’s control, with another 25 percent now being contested, and these numbers have lately been rising, not falling.

Nearly 40 percent of the population subsists on less than $1.35 a day.

In fact, Washington has so little to show for its efforts that a group of 10 former U.S ambassadors and military commanders in Afghanistan declared in a joint statement published by The National Interest magazine on September. 14 that stabilizing the country and ending its continued incubation of terrorism will require at least another generation of US effort.


Written by admin on Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Taliban and Afghanistan restart secret talks in Qatar
SOURCE: The Guardian
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

*Exclusive: Senior sources say US diplomat was present for first known negotiations since Pakistan-brokered process broke down in 2013

The Taliban and representatives of the Afghan government have restarted secret talks in the Gulf state of Qatar, senior sources within the insurgency and the Kabul government have told the Guardian.

Among those present at the meetings held in September and October was Mullah Abdul Manan Akhund, brother of Mullah Omar, the former Taliban chief who led the movement from its earliest days until his death in 2013.

The two rounds of talks are the first known negotiations to have taken place since a Pakistan-brokered process entirely broke down following the death in a US drone strike of Omar’s successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

Doha has been a centre for Taliban diplomacy since the movement was granted permission to set up an office in the Qatari capital in 2013, although that initiative became one of the many attempts to start a peace process that ultimately come to nothing following complaints from the Afghan government.

Mullah Omar’s son, Mohammad Yaqoob, is expected to soon join the Doha group, a Taliban source said, in a move that would further bolster the authority of the office.

No Pakistani official took part in either the October or September meetings, according to a member of the Taliban’s leadership council, the Quetta Shura. He said Islamabad has lost much of its traditional influence over a movement it has been associated with since it rose to power in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s.

But according to the Taliban official, a senior US diplomat was present in the Qatar meetings. The US embassy in Afghanistan declined to comment on the claim.


Written by admin on Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

‘CPEC could become another East India Company’
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers from the upper house on Monday expressed the fear that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) could turn into another East India Company if the country’s interests were not actively protected.

“Another East India Company is in the offing; national interests are not being protected. We are proud of the friendship between Pakistan and China, but the interests of the state should come first,” Senator Tahir Mashhadi, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development, said when some committee members raised the concern that the government was not protecting the rights and interests of the people.

The East India Company was the British trading mission sent to India, which became the precursor to the British colonial presence in the subcontinent, eventually gaining power and overthrowing the Mughals who ruled India at the time.

Following a briefing by Planning Commission Secretary Yousuf Nadeem Khokhar, a number of committee members voiced their fears over what they perceived as the utilisation of local financing for CPEC projects, instead of funding from the Chinese or any other foreign investment. They also expressed concern over the fixing of power tariff for CPEC-related power projects by the Chinese.

Senators question why most corridor projects are being funded locally, not through foreign investment

Since only one of three Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) members of the committee was present at the meeting, most of this criticism went unanswered. Even Senator Saeedul Hassan Mandokhail, the lone PML-N senator in attendance, endorsed the committee chairman’s complaints.

The meeting was informed that a major portion of the CPEC depended on local finances rather than Chinese investment.


Written by admin on Monday, October 17th, 2016

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Abdul Rashid Dostum escapes unhurt after Taliban ambush convoy
SOURCE: The News International
Monday, October 17, 2016

KABUL: Afghan Vice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum escaped unhurt from an ambush by Taliban insurgents as his convoy returned from overseeing fighting at a northern battlefield, Afghan officials said on Monday.

In their effort to topple the Western-backed government in Kabul, Taliban fighters have battled their way into the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern province of Helmand, in recent weeks.

Sunday’s ambush took place during a frontline visit to Faryab province by Dostum, who has recently been spending more time on his northern home turf than in the capital, Kabul, officials said.

“General Dostum was on the way back from overseeing the fighting when his convoy came under ambush,” in the Ghormach district of the province, said Bashir Ahmad Tayanj, a spokesman for Dostum.

“Both sides received casualties, but General Dostum was not hurt,” he added.

There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.

Taliban militants have spread their insurgency from the southern strongholds to the once peaceful northern parts of the country in recent years.

Afghan troops launched an operation in Faryab at the weekend as the Taliban fighters have gained ground in remote areas from where they frequently stage attacks on government forces.

Dostum, a war-hardened ethnic Uzbek, was in an armoured vehicle, accompanied by well-armed security forces, when dozens of insurgents attacked the convoy, another official said. (more…)