IN THE NEWS: IS BLOCKS CELL PHONE SERVICE IN EASTERN AFGHAN DISTRICTS (APRIL 21, 2018)

Written by admin on Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

IS Blocks Cell Phone Service in Eastern Afghan Districts
SOURCE: Voice of America News
Saturday, April 21, 2018
By AYAZ GUL

Officials in Afghanistan confirmed Saturday that Islamic State militants have forcibly shut down telecommunications services in two districts of the eastern Kunar province.

Provincial Director of Communications Sayed Ahmad Madad told VOA that Manogi and Chapidari districts have been without cell phone service for two weeks.

IS militants, he said, have threatened to destroy communication towers if Afghan companies running the operation in the area attempted to resume service.

Islamic State operates in Afghanistan under its local name of Khorasan, commonly referred to as IS-K.

Provincial authorities say the terrorist group is active in five districts of the province. The group launched its regional operations in early 2015 from bases in the eastern province of Nangarhar, which borders Kunar.

Both the volatile Afghan provinces border Pakistan. IS militants lately, are also expanding and intensifying attacks in northern Jowzhan province. U.S. military airstrikes this month in the area have killed dozens of IS members, including the terrorist group’s chief of operations for northern Afghanistan, Qari Hekmatullah.

Meanwhile, officials and residents said the Taliban has not lifted its ban on cell phone service in insurgent-controlled areas of southern Helmand province.

The Islamist insurgency controls or contests much of the country’s largest poppy producing province. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: PAKISTAN TO PROVIDE TRAINING TO ARMY TROOPS OF ISLAMIC COUNTRIES (APRIL 20, 2018)

Written by admin on Friday, April 20th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Pakistan to provide training to army troops of Islamic countries
SOURCE: The Express Tribune
Friday, April 20, 2018
By AMIR KHAN

KARACHI: Pakistan has expressed its willingness to provide modern training, technical assistance and necessary resources to the army troops of military alliance of Islamic countries to deal with terrorists.

Pakistan will cooperate in the matter keeping in view its national security policy. The prime minister will approve the measure after consulting with the military leadership. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have had detailed discussions on the reorganisation and coordination in the Islamic military alliance. Saudi Arabia has recently requested Pakistan to play its role in the upgradation of the alliance at par with today’s requirements. Pakistan’s role is considered to be important.

Sources in the federal government said that the contacts between the two brotherly countries have been active. Pakistan has played a role in reducing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran on diplomatic level. It is still continuing its efforts to further reduce the tension between them.
Sources said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have agreed to further their relations in different fields during the recent visit to Saudi by the
Pakistani leadership.

Contingent of troops sent to Saudi Arabia: ISPR

Saudi Arabia said that it will stand by Pakistan in difficult times.

Pakistan has also told Saudi Arabia that Pakistan will extend all possible cooperation for the security of the Holy Kaba and all other holy places and for internal security of the kingdom.
(more…)

IN THE NEWS: PLOTTING THE POLLS? (APRIL 20, 2018)

Written by admin on Friday, April 20th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

PLOTTING THE POLLS?
SOURCE: Newsweek Pakistan
Friday, April 20,

*HAS THE OUTCOME OF THE UPCOMING GENERAL ELECTIONS ALREADY BEEN DECIDED?

Earlier this week, the Lahore High Court upheld a ban on anti-judiciary speeches under Articles 19 and 68 of the Constitution—without specifically banning any individual’s right to free speech.

Unfortunately, the ruling resulted in an effective gag on the freedom of comment allowed under the same laws. Believing the verdict was a direct attack on their leaders—buoyed in no small part by media coverage claiming it was targeting ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent speeches—many Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) workers took to the streets in Kasur in protest.

Over 70 PMLN workers, including federal and provincial lawmakers, were arrested for demonstrating “against judiciary and state institutions.”

They were charged with using “inappropriate language” against the courts.

Eager to avoid similar treatment, TV channels immediately started censoring any language that could be perceived as critical of the judiciary. The self-censorship also extended to local dailies, which have started rejecting articles that were deemed kosher in the past, causing a social media sensation around so-called ‘banned’ opinions.

The biggest victim of the recent burst of pro-judicial fervour has been Pakistan’s largest media house, the Jang Group. Cable operators, claiming warnings by “influential personalities,” have started burying its Geo TV channel in the numerical boonies or removing it from their channel lists entirely. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: INDIAN AGGRESSION TRIGGERS FEARS OF WAR (APRIL 19, 2018)

Written by admin on Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Indian aggression triggers fears of war
SOURCE: The Nation
Thursday, April 19, 2018
By SHAFQAT ALI

*Islamabad contacts influential countries to stop Indian aggression

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has been fearing a war with India for the last two years amid New Delhi’s aggression, officials said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that India had never responded positively to Pakistan’s efforts to improve the ties since the 2016 killing of Kashmiri freedom fighter Burhan Wani.

“India is responsible for a war-like situation [with Pakistan]. They have been the aggressors but are playing as victims. For the last two years, Pakistan has feared a war with India due to their excesses,” said one official.

He added: “Whatever contacts we had with India during this tense period, we urged them to stop violating the ceasefire agreement but every time they escalated the tension. We are in contact with the influential countries to stop India from crossing the limits. A war would ruin the whole region.”

Reports said the cross-border clashes between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India had reached the highest levels in 15 years.

Hundreds of people have been killed or wounded in the clashes instigated by India.

The Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary had remained relatively peaceful after the 2003 ceasefire agreement but India violated the deal numerous times in the recent months, prompting response from Pakistan.
(more…)

IN THE NEWS: HOW TO SAVE PAKISTAN? (APRIL 19, 2018)

Written by admin on Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

How to save Pakistan?
SOURCE: Daily Times
Thursday, April 19, 2018 (Posted)
By WAJID SHAMSUL HASAN

*A satisfied domestic population provides the main strength for the substance of a state, rather than its armed forces

Encouraged by the religious-political and remunerative gains of blackmail, it seems that more sit-ins will take place before we reach the deadline for the general elections. Right now it seems that the incumbent government is the weakest government we have ever had, and innocent citizens are being pushed into the cold. Meanwhile, political engineering and Messiah manufacturing continue, as they have since the last days of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif, when all machinations for his extension in service failed.

What has revived the debate among academics locally and abroad on whether Pakistan is a dysfunctional or failed state, is the ongoing free for all in every walk of life. The firing at the residence of a superior Judge who was a part of the five judge team that disqualified Mian Nawaz Sharif is the latest example of our descent into lawlessness.

Another sad day was when the federal government surrendered to the hooligans holding a sit-in at Faizabad Chowk in Islamabad. Their sit-in had paralyzed the capital for nearly 20 days. At the end of it all, the participants of the sit-in walked away scot free, with cash envelopes in hand. Last week showed us nothing has changed, when Punjab Chief Minister (CM) capitulated before a mini-dharna organised by Khadim Hussain Rizvi supporters. It was total surrender, the Anti-Terror Court (ATC) was ordered to shelve three cases against the Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) Chief.

Rizvi is no ordinary person. He was declared a proclaimed offender in 14 cases, but the Punjab police could not arrest him as it feared that the firebrand cleric could shed “rivers of blood” throughout the province.

This spineless capitulation has blackened the face of the PML-N administration, which has agreed to drop all charges against TLP leaders, including those related to terrorism.
(more…)

REVIEW ARTICLE: STEVE COLL, ‘DIRECTORATE S’. THE C.I.A. AND AMERICA’S SECRET WARS IN AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN, 2001-2016 (APRIL 18, 2018)

Written by admin on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Written by Olivier Immig

Review article – Steve Coll, ‘Directorate S’. The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2016. Penguin Random House, UK, 2018, 757 p.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
By OLIVIER IMMIG

Arriving fourteen years after his highly successful ‘Ghost Wars’, published in 2004, ‘Directorate S’. The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2016, is the second volume of what Coll calls a ‘journalistic history’.

As Coll puts it at the end of his Introduction (p. 7): “This (book) is the story of Directorate S”. Which sounds quite promising, but which is not solely what the book is about. Rather, it is a meticulously researched work on the US military, secret services, policies and persons of the US administrations of Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama, Pakistan’s military leadership, and some key Afghan leaders and processes. This makes the book primarily a richly informed story about the major forces shaping the course of the Afghan war since at least 2001, including the ‘Directorate’. It is filling in a lot of details on a number of subjects, owing to hundreds of Coll’s interviews, and owing to information made public through Wikileaks.

Coll candidly states that he ‘understands the American system best’ (p. 689). He is chronologically telling the story of the war in Afghanistan by the US and its allies here, although the efforts of ‘Western allies’ receive scant attention. As former UK Ambassador to Kabul (2007-2011) Sherard Cowper-Coles remarked, ‘all real decisions on Afghanistan were taken in Washington, not in Kabul or London’. (Cowper-Coles, Cables from Kabul, 2011, p. 50).

As Coll repeatedly and correctly says, initially the US Bush-administration clearly lacked understanding about the way the Pakistani Army worked, especially its Inter Service Intelligence (I.S.I.) bureau. Or about Afghan society, for that matter; Bush’s national security cabinet included … nobody who knew Afghanistan well (Coll, p.64). Zalmay Khalilzad, senior director for Afghanistan at the White House’s National Security Council and US Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, should be excluded from this harsh judgement. As former Taliban Ambassador to Islamabad Abdul Salam Zaeef explained: “As an Afghan you are always more than one thing: your kin, your tribe, your ethnicity and the place you were born; all are part of you”. (Abdul Salam Zaeef, My life with the Taliban, 2010, p.2). Complicated, indeed.
(more…)

IN THE NEWS: PAKISTAN’S WESTERN FRONTIERS RESTIVE – THE PAKHTUN AWAKENING (APRIL 18, 2018)

Written by admin on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Pakistan’s Western Frontiers Restive: The Pakhtun Awakening
SOURCE: South Asia Analysis Group
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
By SUBHASH KAPILA

Pakistan’s Western Frontiers comprising Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunwa Province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), have been restive for decades but recent Pakhtuns widespread protests in Islamabad and in rest of Pakistan has been described by Pakistani columnists as “The Awakening” and the “Pakhtuns Spring”.

That this new phenomenon emerging on Pakistan’s domestic politics milieu is worrisome can be judged from a virtual blackout imposed on Pakistani media, obviously on orders of the Establishment. Easily dismissed as a limited occurrence but surely, it cannot be wished away when it is kept in mind that this discontent is seething for decades.

This when added to the ongoing insurgency in Balochistan—Pakistan’s largest Province abutting both Afghanistan and Iran, and both emerging in 2018 from Pakistan Army’s protection of China’s flagship project the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Gwadar Port the terminal of the CPEC, is a dangerous challenge for the Pakistan Army.

Pakistan’s Western Frontiers emerging restive and turbulent can prove a security concern for the United States in relation to Afghanistan and for India with Pakistan ranting that India is behind all these events.

Neither Afghanistan nor Iran which are contiguous to Pakistan’s Western Borderlands can be held responsible for the restiveness in these Regions.

The restiveness and turbulence here stands generated by the acts of omission and commission of the Pakistan Army which traditionally has managed these Regions with a heavy hand like the British colonial rule oblivious to the fact that both the NWFP and Balochistan belatedly and under military pressure opted for joining Pakistan. They therefore deserved more care and nurturing of their urges for economic and social development.
(more…)

IN THE NEWS: CPEC – CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS (APRIL 18, 2018)

Written by admin on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

CPEC — challenges and solutions
SOURCE: The Express Tribune
Wednesday, April 18, 2017
By SADRUDDIN

Gilgit-Baltistan is home to over 50 mountain peaks above 7,000 metres and three of the world’s largest glaciers that are also the greatest pure water storage assets for Pakistan. According to estimates by G-B’s Water and Power Department, around 45,000MW of hydropower can be produced through utilisation of these water resources. Yet due to the altitudinal factors, G-B has a mountain ecosystem vulnerable to climate change and one likely to be affected by the industrial and business developments in future.

G-B has been in the spotlight following CPEC’s initiation. A project of scale as huge as CPEC is pivotal to the economic and social development of the populace of the region, generating more of income avenues, investment options and opportunities of capital utilisation. While simultaneously providing more prospects for cultural exchange, interaction and diversification. Nevertheless it has an unavoidable cost attached to it.

Massive industrial development along the routes starting from Kashgar in Xinjiang, China, to Abbottabad in K-P, Pakistan, will damage the ecological system and the scenic beauty of the region. The biggest threat will be of the traffic emissions moving through this route.

With CPEC, demand for petroleum products set to grow

According to a research study, a single 22-wheeler truck vehicle produces 931g of carbon dioxide per km. From Khunjarab Pass to the Bhasha Dam site, a 427km-long northern and southern boundaries of G-B, stretching on the Karakoram Highway, a single truck will emit 396.6kgs of carbon dioxide. CO2 emission will be heavier, 2913.1kgs, in one trip from Kashgar to Gwadar. With current capacity of KKH, for less than 1,000 trucks per day from China to Pakistan, with the expected maturity of road routes, by around 2035, it is projected that about 12,000 trucks will enter and leave Pakistan, making a total of 24,000 trucks running through the route per day.
(more…)

IN THE NEWS: SALT MINE CONTRACT CANCELLED AFTER LITHIUM, URANIUM FOUND (APRIL 17, 2018)

Written by admin on Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Salt Mine Contract Cancelled After Lithium, Uranium Found
SOURCE: TOLO News
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
By ZABIHULLAH JEHANMAL

Ministry of Mines and Petroleum on Monday said they have terminated the extraction contract of Herat’s Ghoryan salt mine signed with a private company two months ago following the discovery of minerals including lithium and uranium.

The spokesman for the ministry of mines Abdul Qadir Mutfi said their recent studies showed that these minerals are present at the mine. As such they have terminated the contract with the contractor, he said.

Ghoryan salt mine is the only mining contract to have been signed by the National Unity Government (NUG).

“This was a small contract and was contracted as a pilot extraction, but we are trying to ensure the country’s mines are extracted based on the country’s needs,” Mutfi said.

The contractors were not however happy about the new development and said it took them two years and a lot of money to secure the contract.

Nasir Ahmad Tahiri, the head of the contracting company, said in addition to preliminary investments made in the mine, they have had to pay money to meet the conditions of the contract.

According to Tahiri, the termination of the contract means a huge financial loss to them.

“The economic council and mining ministry worked on this mine for two years. It should be asked why the ministry of mines did not assess the mine to find out if there was salt or something else (before awarding the contract),” said Tahiri.
(more…)

IN THE NEWS: PROTESTS LOOM IN PAKISTAN OVER CHINA’S JAILING OF MEN’S UYGHUR WIVES (APRIL 17, 2018)

Written by admin on Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Protests loom in Pakistan over China’s jailing of men’s Uyghur wives
SOURCE: Asia Times
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
By KUNWAR KHULDUNE SHAHID and SAIKAT DATTA

A major protest against the Chinese government is being plotted by Pakistani men who say that their wives have been detained in China’s Xinjiang province, Asia Times has learnt. If not addressed in time, the fallout could adversely affect the ambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as well as the Belt Road Initiative (BRI).

The men, mostly businessmen from the Gilgit-Baltistan region, say that their wives, of Uyghur ethnicity, are being kept in camps by Chinese authorities.

Beijing has initiated a crackdown against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, which borders Gilgit-Baltistan, saying some had ties with Islamist extremists in the region. But Pakistani government officials say that the Uyghurs have been detained as a part of China’s plan to “re-educate” them and better integrate the ethnic group with the rest of the country.

“The Chinese government feels that the only way to undo the Islamist indoctrination of the local Uyghurs is by initiating what you can call an unlearning process, where they are taught supremacy of Chinese sovereignty over religion,” a senior diplomat told Asia Times. “So they have created these re-education schools to teach the Uyghurs about what their government feels is mandatory to be a ‘true Chinese citizen.”

Wives in Chinese prisons

Diplomatic sources have confirmed that many Pakistani men, whose wives come from Xinjiang, have filed complaints with the Pakistani embassy in Beijing, saying their wives and their families have been detained and not allowed to get in touch with them. Some of the couples have been married for over 20 years.
(more…)