MAP: AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN

Written by admin on Saturday, December 8th, 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: ‘DON’T CROSS THE LINE’ (DECEMBER 7, 2018)

Written by admin on Friday, December 7th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

‘DON’T CROSS THE LINE’
SOURCE: Newsweek Pakistan
Friday, December 7, 2018

*PAKISTAN ARMY SPOKESMAN WARNS PTM NOT TO PUSH ARMED FORCES TO USE FORCE AGAINST THEM

Pakistan’s military on Thursday warned a nationwide civil rights movement, which accuses it of abuses, that it would use force against them if they “cross the line.”

Military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said the armed forces were watching the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) closely. He told reporters in Islamabad the military has given the PTM space to protest as Pashtuns, especially those living in Pakistan’s northwest, have suffered disproportionately during Pakistan’s long battle with militancy.

But, he added, patience is wearing thin. “We realize their grief, their hardships, but [they] should not cross those lines, where the state has to use its force to control the situation,” he said.

The PTM has rattled the military since it burst onto the scene earlier this year with a call to end alleged abuses by security forces targeting ethnic Pashtuns in the restive tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan. The area, once plagued by militancy and unrest, is where Washington believes that Pakistan is providing safe haven to militant groups including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network.

The Army has carried out multiple operations in the region, and security there and across Pakistan has dramatically improved in recent years. But the military maintains a heavy presence there still, and the PTM has unleashed festering anger over the alleged abuses against Pashtuns across the country, including enforced disappearances and targeted killings. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: PAKISTANI LEADER TO THE U.S.: WE’RE NOT YOUR ‘HIRED GUN’ ANYMORE (DECEMBER 7, 2018)

Written by admin on Friday, December 7th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Pakistani leader to the U.S.: We’re not your ‘hired gun’ anymore
SOURCE: The Washington Post
Friday, December 7, 2018
By LALLY WEYMOUTH (Interview)

*The new prime minister, Imran Khan, says he wants a ‘proper relationship’ with Washington

Imran Khan, a onetime cricket star, led the life of a glamorous playboy before he turned to Pakistani politics. This summer, after years in the opposition and then as a member of the coalition government in Islamabad, he finally captured the premiership. He inherits it with a daunting list of challenges for his country, including poverty, terrorism and corruption.

This past week, President Trump — who has traded Twitter barbs with Khan and cut military assistance to Pakistan — asked him to help bring the Afghan Taliban to peace talks. On the porch outside his home here, he gave his first foreign interview as prime minister to The Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth. Edited excerpts follow.

Q. What are you planning to do about your country’s relationship with the U.S., which has been deteriorating and has involved a social media war with the president? He wrote in January that “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. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

A. It was not really a Twitter war, it was just setting the record right. [Khan wrote on the site this fall: “He needs to be informed about historical facts. Pak has suffered enough fighting US’s war. Now we will do what is best for our people & our interests.”] The exchange was about being blamed for deeply flawed U.S. policies — the military approach to Afghanistan. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: US SHOULD NOT DEAL WITH PAKISTAN ON AFGHAN PEACE: KARZAI (DECEMBER 6, 2018)

Written by admin on Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

US Should Not Deal With Pakistan On Afghan Peace: Karzai
SOURCE: TOLO News
Thursday, December 6, 2018
By ANISA SHAHEED

Former president Hamid Karzai on Wednesday said that he sees Afghanistan in a highly sensitive stage of the history, asking the Afghan people to take care of the recent peace efforts initiated by the United States.

He said that the peace efforts should not be carried out in secret from the eyes of the Afghan people, warning that Afghanistan would be devastated if the neighbouring countries were not taken into confidence, especially Russia and China.

“We should have our own national observation of the peace process from the beginning to the end and Afghans must be involved in peace in all stages and they should have the honour of the job. In area where we are not involved and we are not owning the job, the outcome will not be in our favour,” Karzai said.

Karzai suggested that the Afghan government should designate a national peace delegation to conduct the peace talks with the Taliban.

Speaking at a gathering in Kabul marking the 90th birth anniversary of Afghan famous philosopher Syed Bahauddin Majroh, Karzai said that the peace efforts by the US and the recent peace conference on Afghanistan in Russia was quite important for restoring peace in the country.

He said that the US and Russia should coordinate their peace efforts.

“If the US is serious about bringing peace in Afghanistan, then it should reach a conclusion with China and Russia and major countries. If the US does not coordinate about peace in Afghanistan with these countries, the peace process would mean something else, but not an effort for peace in Afghanistan,” said Karzai. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: LACKLUSTRE CENTURY (DECEMBER 6, 2018)

Written by admin on Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Lacklustre century
SOURCE: The Indian Express
Thursday, December 6, 2018
By TILAK DEVASHER

*Imran Khan’s first 100 days in office have been marked by U-turns, lack of strategy and direction
Written |Updated: December 6, 2018 1:55:13 pm

Imran Khan completed 100 days as the prime minister of Pakistan on November 28. What have been his accomplishments, what is the direction he has set Pakistan on and how will he be judged in the future?

Imran Khan started with several advantages, including an undoubted political capital based on his honesty, his relentless campaign against corruption and his continuing popularity. He also has the certain backing of the “establishment” whose political engineering enabled him to become the prime minister in the first place.

However, Khan also suffers from major handicaps. The key among these are the grand promises he made in the run-up to the elections and thereafter.

These include 10 million jobs, 5 million housing units, universal education and healthcare, a south Punjab province and police and civil service reforms. As he is finding out, such promises are just not possible to fulfil in the short term. His rhetoric while in Opposition has also come back to haunt him: “I prefer committing suicide than going to the IMF”; “In two days, $200 billion will come back to Pakistan.” (more…)

IN THE NEWS: PM KHAN APPROVES CONSTITUTION OF TASK FORCE ON TECH-DRIVEN ECONOMY (DECEMBER 5, 2018)

Written by admin on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

PM Khan approves constitution of task force on tech-driven economy
SOURCE: Daily Times
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan on Tuesday approved the constitution of a task force on technology driven knowledge economy established to carry out foresight exercises at regular intervals in order to constantly re-evaluate national priorities and put in place strategies and action plans, with delineated timelines to build a powerful knowledge economy.

The PM’s task force on technology driven knowledge economy would be comprising scientists and engineers, representatives from private sector, federal and provincial governments, according to a press release issued by PM Office media wing.

The decision was taken during a meeting of the PM with Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman at the PM office. PM Khan said that building intellectual capital of the country, industrialization and development of human capital, enhancement of value added produce along with quality management for optimization of productivity were among the foremost priorities of the government.

Dr Atta-ur-Rehman briefed the PM about progress on construction of Pak Austrian Fachhochschule, Haripur. He also apprised the Prime Minister about progress into establishment of centre of excellence with help of China in mineral resources engineering, railway engineering and agriculture food technologies. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: AFGHAN FORCES’ LOSSES MAY NOT BE SUSTAINABLE, U.S. GENERAL WARNS (DECEMBER 5, 2018)

Written by admin on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Afghan Forces’ Losses May Not Be Sustainable, U.S. General Warns
SOURCE: Gandhara
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The death toll among Afghanistan’s security forces will no longer be sustainable unless urgent measures are taken to address recruiting and training issues, a top U.S. general has said.

“They are fighting hard, but their losses are not going to be sustainable unless we correct this problem,” Lieutenant-General Kenneth McKenzie said on December 4 at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee amid frustration among Congressmen over a lack of progress in the 17-year conflict in Afghanistan.

McKenzie, who has been nominated to lead the U.S. military’s Central Command that oversees wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, also warned against an abrupt withdrawal of American forces or change in strategy.

The Western-backed government in Kabul has struggled to counter attacks from the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most NATO combat troops in 2014.

In October, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Afghan forces had suffered more than 1,000 dead and wounded during August and September alone.

And Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last month said the death toll among Afghan security forces since 2015 was close to 29,000 — a figure far higher than anything previously acknowledged. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: GOVT ENJOYS UNWAVERING SUPPORT OF ARMED FORCES: PM (DECEMBER 4, 2018)

Written by admin on Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Govt enjoys unwavering support of armed forces: PM
SOURCE: The Express Tribune
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
By IMRAN KAZMI

KARACHI: Prime Minster Imran Khan on Monday said that there was no sign of any civil-military discord and his government was enjoying unwavering support of the armed forces.

The manifesto of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also enjoyed support across the board, said the premier in his first interview after assuming the top office of the country in August. He was interacting with a select group of senior journalists in Islamabad.

“There is not a single decision that I haven’t taken on my own, and there’s not a single decision that doesn’t have the support of the army,” he remarked responding to a question on cooperation among state institution. “[COAS] General Qamar Javed Bajwa stands right beside my decisions,” he added.

On performance of federal ministers in the first 100 days, the premier said he had received progress reports from the federal cabinet, especially on the cost-cutting measures they had taken. “The government will act on these reports … and it might make some changes in the cabinet,” he remarked. The decision of any changes in the cabinet will be made by the next week, he added.

On the issue of missing persons, the prime minister said the army chief had assured him that issue would be resolved soon.

Prime Minister Imran said the government had successfully set the future direction for the accomplishment of its economic and administrative policies under its first 100 days agenda, adding that the effects will soon be felt by the masses.

Assuring the nation, he said that economic indicators would show an upward trajectory and the rupee would start strengthening against the US
dollar in the coming days, bringing investment from foreign countries. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: AFTER GAINS IN AFGHANISTAN, RESURGENT TALIBAN IS IN NO RUSH FOR PEACE TALKS (DECEMBER 4, 2018)

Written by admin on Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

After gains in Afghanistan, resurgent Taliban is in no rush for peace talks
SOURCE: The Washington Post
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
By PAMELA CONSTABLE

KABUL — Everyone, it seems, is pushing for peace in Afghanistan these days. President Trump’s special envoy is racing around the region, trying to drum up support for talks with the insurgent Taliban. The Russians, eager to get into the act, have hosted a conference on the issue. The Pakistanis, long accused of abetting the insurgents, insist they want to help end the war. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani hopes to win reelection in April as the man who brought peace to his country after 17 years.

The Taliban, however, seems to be in no hurry at all.

Last week, when Ghani laid out his upbeat vision of a “road map” to peace at a conference in Geneva, the response from the insurgents was scathing. They dismissed his government as a “powerless” foreign puppet and any discussion with its officials as a “waste of time.” They said they were waging a holy war against American “invaders” and would negotiate only with them.

The insurgents reacted with the same dismissive scorn several days ago when U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told a conference in California that the Trump administration wanted to solve the conflict without agreeing to withdraw troops.

“The valiant Afghan Muslim nation is absolutely determined to force the occupying American forces out of Afghanistan,” Taliban officials declared in an online message. “We will not tire.” The option of whether to withdraw troops, the group added, will not be “chosen by American generals.”

The triumphalist tone of these broadsides was not new. But coupled with the insurgents’ intensifying campaign of violence since a brief truce in June — attacking military bases and peaceful villages, bombing schools and election offices, besieging a major provincial capital — it seemed to signal a hardening resistance to negotiations, rather than a boastful opening gambit. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: U.S. AIRSTRIKE KILLS KEY TALIBAN LEADER IN AFGHANISTAN (DECEMBER 3, 2018)

Written by admin on Monday, December 3rd, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

U.S. AIRSTRIKE KILLS KEY TALIBAN LEADER IN AFGHANISTAN
SOURCE: Newsweek Pakistan
Monday, December 3, 2018

*MILITANT GROUP TERMS ‘SHADOW GOVERNOR’ ABDUL MANAN’S DEATH A ‘BIG LOSS’

A senior Taliban military commander has been killed in a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

Abdul Manan, who was the Taliban’s ‘shadow governor’ in the southern
Helmand province, died of wounds sustained during an airstrike late on Saturday said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the official governor of the province.

Manan’s death was also confirmed by the Taliban who in a statement described it as a “big loss” for the group, but vowed that it will not affect their military operations.

Helmand—the region that supplies the largest share of Afghanistan’s opium crop—has been the scene of bitter fighting for years with 10 out of 14 districts of the province either controlled or contested by the Taliban.

As a senior Taliban leader, Abdul Manan had led the insurgency group’s expansion as it expanded control over the opium-rich province in recent years.

Afghan interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said Manan was the militants’ top military leader in southern Afghanistan and his death as a major blow to the Taliban. “His death will lower the moral of the enemy, and result in [the] improvement of security in Helmand and other southern provinces,” sais Najib Danish. (more…)