IN THE NEWS: EXPLAINED: DOWNGRADING INDO-PAK TIES – WHAT THIS MEANS, WHEN HAS IT HAPPENED EARLIER (AUGUST 7, 2019)

Written by admin on Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Explained: Downgrading Indo-Pak ties — what this means, when has it happened earlier
SOURCE: The Indian Express
Wednesday, August 7, 2019

*The development comes a day after the Parliament adopted a resolution scrapping special status to J&K under Article 370 and passed a bill bifurcating the state into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh

This is not the first time that India and Pakistan are downgrading ties.

A day after the Modi government abolished Jammu & Kashmir’s special status and downgraded the state to two Union Territories, Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC) has taken the decision to downgrade diplomatic ties with New Delhi, among other steps to protest India’s actions in Kashmir.

“Our ambassadors will no longer be in New Delhi and their counterparts here will also be sent back,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was quoted as telling ARY television, by Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.

According to PTI, Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan Ajay Bisaria has been expelled and Pakistan will not send its High Commissioner-designate to New Delhi. However, The Indian Express has learnt that Bisaria has not yet been formally asked to leave.

This is not the first time that India and Pakistan are downgrading ties. In 2001, India pulled out Vijay Nambiar, it’s high commissioner to Islamabad after the JeM attack on Parliament. Pakistan reciprocated by pulling out its high commissioner Ashraf Jehangir Qazi.

The two Deputy high commissioners held the fort for more than a year in the respective capitals. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: KASHMIR ISSUE: SHALL GO TO ANY EXTENT, SAYS COAS (AUGUST 7, 2019)

Written by admin on Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Kashmir issue: Shall go to any extent, says COAS
SOURCE: The News International
Wednesday, August 7, 2019
By MUHAMMAD ANIS

RAWALPINDI/ ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday affirmed the Pakistan Army’s support to Kashmiris in their struggle for freedom and said they were prepared to go to “any extent to fulfill their obligations” in this regard.

According to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), General Bajwa presided over the corps commanders conference held at the General Headquarters (GHQ) on the single point agenda of the situation in the Indian-Held Kashmir.

“The forum fully supported the government’s rejection of Indian actions regarding Kashmir. Pakistan never recognised the sham Indian efforts to legalise its occupation of Jammu & Kashmir through Article 370 or 35-A decades ago; efforts which have now been revoked by India itself,” the statement read.

“Pakistan Army firmly stands by the Kashmiris in their just struggle to the very end. We are prepared and shall go to any extent to fulfill our obligations in this regard,” the ISPR quoted General Bajwa as saying.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday emphatically said Pakistan would never let India annex the state of Kashmir and would go to any lengths to counter the illegal constitutional steps taken there.

Giving a policy statement in the joint session of parliament, he said the revocation of articles 370 and 35A by the Indian government would intensify the freedom struggle. He said all heads of states would be apprised of the issue besides sensitizing the international media to the human rights violations in the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK). (more…)

IN THE NEWS: INDIA CALLS ACTIONS IN KASHMIR INTERNAL MATTER: U.S. (AUGUST 6, 2019)

Written by admin on Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

India calls actions in Kashmir internal matter: US
SOURCE: Dawn
Tuesday, August 6, 2019
By ANWAR IQBAL

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday urged India to engage in discussion with those affected by its decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status but also noted that New Delhi describes this action as an “internal matter”.

“We are closely following the events in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. We take note of India’s announcement revising the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir and India’s plan to split the state into two union territories,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

The statement issued in Washington, however, also referred to India’s position on this issue, without mentioning the Pakistani position. “We note that the Indian government has described these actions as strictly an internal matter,” Ms Ortagus said.

Washington calls for peace and stability along LoC

The US official, however, did express concern on the situation in the occupied Valley. “We are concerned about reports of detentions and urge respect for individual rights and discussion with those in affected communities,” she said.

Ms Ortagus also underlined the need for maintaining peace and stability along the Line of Control.

“We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control,” she said.

The statement also failed to mention US President Donald Trump’s recent offers to mediate between India and Pakistan to help resolve the Kashmir dispute.

In a July 22 statement, President Trump said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate on the Kashmir dispute. Although India denied ever asking him to do so, Mr Trump reiterated his stance earlier this week, saying that he’s willing to help if both countries ask him to.

IN THE NEWS: TALIBAN THREATEN AFGHAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS (AUGUST 6, 2019)

Written by admin on Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

TALIBAN THREATEN AFGHAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
SOURCE: Newsweek Pakistan
Tuesday, August 6, 2019

*MILITANT GROUP SAYS POLLS DO NOT ‘HOLD ANY VALUE,’ AND URGES FIGHTERS TO CONDUCT ATTACKS ON RALLIES, GATHERINGS

The Taliban warned Afghans on Tuesday to keep away from election rallies and ordered its fighters to “stand against” the planned September vote.

The Taliban and other insurgent groups conducted frequent attacks during previous elections, and this year’s campaign season has already been rocked by deadly violence.

The presidential election is currently slated for Sept. 28, but has got off to a lacklustre start and some candidates are yet to launch their campaigns. Many observers think the poll will be postponed again—it has already been pushed back twice this year—to create space for a peace deal to be finalized between the U.S. and the Taliban.

In their message, the Taliban said fighters should “stand against this theatrical and sham of a process to their full capabilities”—a clear instruction to conduct attacks. “To prevent losses, God forbid, from being incurred by our fellow compatriots, they must stay away from gatherings and rallies that could become potential targets,” a message posted on the Taliban’s website stated. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: KASHMIS SPECIAL STATUS EXPLAINED: WHAT ARE ARTICLES 370 AND 35A? (AUGUST 5, 2019)

Written by admin on Monday, August 5th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Kashmir special status explained: What are Articles 370 and 35A?
SOURCEL Al Jazeera
Monday, August 5, 2019

*Indian government abolishes decades-old laws that gave a measure of autonomy to the disputed Muslim-majority region
* ‘Darkest day’: Uproar as India strips Kashmir of special status today
* Pakistan terms India’s Kashmir move ‘irresponsible, irrational’ today
* India revokes disputed Kashmir’s special status with rush decree today

India has scrapped a law that grants special status to Indian-administered Kashmir amid an indefinite lockdown and massive troop deployment in the disputed region.

Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah, a close ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, told parliament on Monday that the president had signed a decree abolishing Article 370 of the constitution, stripping the significant autonomy Kashmir had enjoyed for seven decades.

The move is expected to further inflame tensions in the Muslim-majority region of more than seven million people and infuriate rival Pakistan.

India revokes disputed Kashmir’s special status with rush decree

The government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also moved a bill proposing the Jammu and Kashmir state be divided into two “union territories” directly ruled by New Delhi.

The Jammu and Kashmir union territory will include the Hindu-majority Jammu region and will have a legislative assembly.

The Buddhist-majority Ladakh region, which has a considerable population of Shia Muslims, will also be a union territory, but it will not have an assembly.

All phones, internet services and cable networks were cut off on Sunday night and pro-India leaders placed under house arrest following days of soaring tensions.

What is Article 370?

Article 370 was the basis of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to the Indian union at a time when erstwhile princely states had the choice to join either India or Pakistan after their independence from the British rule in 1947. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: INDIA REVOKES KASHMIR’S SPECIAL STATUS (AUGUST 5, 2019)

Written by admin on Monday, August 5th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

India revokes Kashmir’s special status
SOURCE: Asia Times
Monday, August 5, 2019
By SAIKAT DATTA

*Constitutional provision had deferred to a Muslim-majority region

In a move that threatens renewed violence in South Asia, India revoked Article 370, a constitutional provision that had given “special status” for the conflict-ridden, majority-Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir, which gave it the right to have separate laws.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah made the announcement. which came in the wake of an unprecedented lockdown of the state with thousands of federal policemen being rushed to the state for over a week. On Sunday night the government shut down all communications in the state and placed elected leaders under house arrest.

The government also bifurcated the state into two union territories to be ruled by the federal government henceforth. While the Ladakh region will no longer have a legislature, the remaining part of Jammu and Kashmir will have one but with severely diminished legislative powers.

The move has the potential to destabilize peace across the region and plunge it into chaos. India and Pakistan have fought four wars, three of which were over Kashmir. The move by India will heighten tensions in Pakistan, which has hoped for US mediation in the Kashmir dispute.

Pakistan had committed to reining in the Taliban as part of a US plan to withdraw all its forces from Afghanistan. This commitment may now be in jeopardy as Pakistan considers retaliation against the Indian move.

As expected, Pakistan reacted furiously. “Kashmir is an internationally recognized disputed territory. No unilateral step by the government of India can change this disputed status,” a foreign office communique said. “As party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps,” it said. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: PAK ARMY TO LEAVE TRIBAL AREAS BY 2022 (AUGUST 4, 2019)

Written by admin on Sunday, August 4th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Army to leave tribal areas by 2022
SOURCE: The News on Sunday
Sunday, August 4, 2019
By RAHIMULLAH YUSUFZAI

*Erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas limp back to normalcy with improved security situation along the western border
*Soldiers would be pulled out gradually and the withdrawal completed by 2022 if the FC acquires the required strength and training

The government is working on a plan to withdraw the Pakistan Army troops from the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) by 2022, but the timeline for raising 14 new wings of the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) to take charge of the security duties is behind schedule.

The 14 FC wings were to be raised by 2018, but the period has reportedly been extended to 2019. Seven FC wings have been raised through fresh recruitment from the tribes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Further enlistment would be done as resources become available. A security official told The News on Sunday Rs 1.2 billion was needed to raise one FC wing.

The Pakistan Army soldiers would be pulled out gradually and the withdrawal completed by 2022 if the FC acquires the required strength and training to be able to replace the regular troops. Obviously, the schedule for a complete withdrawal would be decided keeping in view the security situation in the merged tribal districts.

It won’t be wrong to say that the Army’s 11th Corps (Peshawar) has been spearheading the nation’s fight against terrorism. Its troops are deployed in Pakistan’s most militancy-hit and conflict-ridden province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including the seven merged tribal districts and six former Frontier Regions. Of the 34 districts in the province, the army troops are deployed in seven districts. They are also deployed along the 1,229-kilometres long border that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa shares with Afghanistan. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: DESPITE U.S. TALK OF WITHDRAWAL, AFGHAN WAR EXPECTED TO CONTINUE (AUGUST 3, 2019)

Written by admin on Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Despite U.S. Talk Of Withdrawal, Afghan War Expected To Continue
SOURCE: Gandhara
Saturday, August 3, 2019 (Posted)
By ABUBAKAR SIDDIQUE

The United States is seeking to end its 18-year war in Afghanistan by negotiating peace with the Taliban and persuading the hard-line Islamist group to prove its commitment to counterterrorism, a lasting cease-fire, and a political settlement with the Afghan government and other factions in return for U.S. withdrawal from the country.

But while the current process could bring the longest conflict in U.S. history to a close, it does not necessarily signal an end to Afghanistan’s four-decade war, which has involved global superpowers, hard-line ideologues, and meddlesome neighbors, and led to immeasurable bloodshed among Afghan factions.

In Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration hopes to end his country’s war in Afghanistan by reducing troop levels ahead of the next presidential election in November 2020.

“He’s been unambiguous: End the endless wars, draw down, reduce,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “That’s my directive from the president of the United States.”

Pompeo said the administration is looking to protect Washington’s interests and encourage reconciliation among Afghans.

“We think there’s a path to reduce violence, achieve reconciliation, and still make sure that the American counterterrorism effort in Afghanistan has a value and the potential to reduce risk here in the States,” he said on July 29. “We want to reduce what is, for us, tens of billions of dollars a year in expenditures and enormous risk to your kids and your grandkids who are fighting for America.” (more…)

IN THE NEWS: US PREPARING TO WITHDRAW THOUSANDS OF TROOPS FROM AFGHANISTAN (AUGUST 2, 2019)

Written by admin on Friday, August 2nd, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

US Preparing To Withdraw Thousands Of Troops From Afghanistan
SOURCE: TOLO News
Friday, August 2, 2019

*In exchange, the Taliban would reportedly have to begin negotiating a peace deal with the Afghan government
* Trump ‘Evaluating’ Afghanistan Pullout: Mike Pence
* We Need A Good Deal, Not A Fake Deal: Graham On US-Taliban Talks

The Trump administration is reportedly planning to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan in a new deal negotiated with the Taliban Thursday, US news agencies reported.

The Washington Post reported that the number of US troops in Afghanistan would be reduced to between 8,000 and 9,000 from the current 14,000, citing US officials.

In exchange, the Taliban would reportedly have to begin negotiating a peace deal with the Afghan government; the deal would also involve a cease-fire and a Taliban renunciation of al Qaeda.

The proposal is the result of months of talks between the Taliban and Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan-born American diplomat, according to the Post.

Officials reportedly said an agreement could be final before Afghanistan’s September elections but also said there are still challenges.

“I would say that they are 80 or 90 percent of the way there,” one official told the newspaper. “But there is still a long way to go on that last 10 or 20 percent.” (more…)

IN THE NEWS: ANOTHER BLACK CHAPTER IN POLITICAL HISTORY OF PAKISTAN (AUGUST 2, 2019)

Written by admin on Friday, August 2nd, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Another black chapter in political history of Pakistan
SOURCE: Asia Times
Friday, August 2, 2019
By IMAD ZAFAR

This Thursday was a crucial day in the ongoing political turmoil in Pakistan. A united opposition no-confidence motion against the chairman of the Senate, Sadiq Sanjrani, was tabled and votes were cast. The opposition, which enjoys the majority in the Senate as it has 67 members out of 104, surprisingly was unable to send Sanjrani packing. The no-confidence motion got 50 votes in favor while 43 votes were cast against the move.

For the motion to succeed, the opposition needed 53 votes, and until the vote count began it had 64 votes ensured. However, the procedure of secret balloting changed the entire course of the game and the united opposition faced an embarrassing defeat after it fell short by three votes.

Sadiq Sanjrani is recognized as the “man” of the military establishment.

Reportedly the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) played a double game and seven of its senators rejected the instructions of the party leadership, which is alleged to have met with the property tycoon and power broker Malik Riaz after which its members defected. While five Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senators defected as well and Raja Zafar ul Haq, a senior leader of the party who is known to have close ties with establishment, played a vital role in PML-N senators’ defection. However, the PPP, as usual, remains the main culprit and it continues to backstab the opposition in the hope of getting relief from the establishment.

It was never expected that the opposition would easily oust Sanjrani, but it was a surprise that 14 members of the opposition would vote against the no-confidence motion, and that the PML-N and PPP were not able to anticipate the establishment move to buy their senators.

This failure is an indication that neither the PML-N nor the PPP are able to read the situation and, willingly or unwillingly, cannot succeed when it matters the most. In any case the establishment and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government have again used the horse-trading trick by buying members of the opposition or by pressuring a few of them with the threat to open judicial inquiries against them. (more…)