Experts doubt Al Qaeda link in Mumbai attacks…

29 Nov
The men came wearing black hoods, firing automatic weapons and throwing grenades, taking hostages, attacking two hotels, a cinema, a café, a train station and other popular and undefended “soft targets.”

An e-mail message to Indian media outlets that claimed responsibility for the bloody attacks in Mumbai on Wednesday night said the militants were from the Deccan Mujahideen.

Global terrorism experts said Thursday they had never heard of the group. And based on its tactics, they said, it was probably not a cell or group linked to Al Qaeda.

“It’s even unclear whether it’s a real group or not,” said Bruce Hoffman, a professor at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the author of the book “Inside Terrorism.” “It could be a cover name for another group, or a name adopted just for this particular incident.”

Chrtistine Fair, senior political scientist and a South Asia expert at the RAND Corporation, was careful to say that the identity of the terrorists could not yet be known. But she insisted the style of the attacks and the targets in Mumbai suggested that the militants were likely to be Indian Muslims – and not linked to Al Qaeda or the violent South Asian terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“There’s absolutely nothing Al Qaeda-like about it,” she said of the attack. “Did you see any suicide bombers? And there are no fingerprints of Lashkar. They don’t do hostage taking, and they don’t do grenades.”

Hoffman agreed that the assault was “not exactly Al Qaeda’s modus operandi, which is suicide attacks.” But he said the timed attacks, which he called “tactical, sophisticated and coordinated,” perhaps pointed to a broader organization behind the perpetrators. Fair also noted that the fact the group had not proclaimed its ideology in a manifesto was “not at all unusual.”
“You don’t see these types of terrorist operations very often, if at all,” Hoffman said. “These aren’t just a bunch of radical guys coming together to cause mayhem.

“This takes a different skill set. It doesn’t take much skill to make a bomb. This is not just pressing a button as a suicide bomber and dying. You don’t learn this over the Internet.”
The word Deccan describes the middle and south of India, which is dominated by the Deccan Plateau. Mujahideen, of course, is the commonly used Arabic word for holy fighters. The very name – if it is a real group – suggests a domestic agenda.

“It’s maybe not so much a group as a cell that will take on a name for a specific operation,” said Fair. “In India you hear these unusual names.”
Fair did not agree that the attacks on Wednesday necessarily required deep planning and training.

“This wasn’t something that required a logistical mastermind,” she said. “These were not hardened targets. A huge train station with zero security. Two hotels with no security, both owned by Indians. Leopold’s Café. How hard is it, really? It’s not rocket science.”
Fair believes the attacks could be “yet another manifestation of domestic terrorism” that has its genesis in a longstanding institutional discrimination against Muslims.

“There are a lot of very, very angry Muslims in India,” she said, “The economic disparities are startling, and India has been very slow to publicly embrace its rising Muslim problem. You cannot put lipstick on this pig. This is a major domestic political challenge for India.”
The CIA puts the population of India at 1.15 billion, with Hindus making up about 80 percent of the total and Muslims 13.4 percent.

Fair said one incident – “a watershed event” – that continues to anger Muslims were the riots that swept nearby Gujarat State in 2002. The violence killed between 1,000 and 2,000 people, most of them Muslims.

“The public political face of India says, ‘Our Muslims have not been radicalized.’ But the Indian intelligence apparatus knows that’s not true. India’s Muslim communities are being sucked into the global landscape of Islamist jihad.

“Indians will have a strong incentive to link this to Al Qaeda. ‘Al Qaeda’s in your toilet!’ But this is a domestic issue. This is not India’s 9/11.”

For Hoffman, who has studied terrorism for more than 30 years, the Mumbai attacks are “alarming on a number of levels.”

“It’s not often that things in terrorism alarm me. So much is a repeat of what we see almost every day, like suicide bombings. There’s no real innovation in terrorism, which is why 9/11 was so terrifying, because it was so innovative and heinously clever.

“But these attacks show how a handful of men, basically using weapons off the shelf, can paralyze a city and frustrate highly trained security forces. These attacks were calculated to spread alarm and anxiety – to put it quite frankly, to unhinge things – and that’s exactly what they’ve done.”

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100 Groups In A War Against India…

29 Nov

 

Mumbai’s night of terror underscores a phenomenon concealed by the Indian government and intelligence agencies and deliberately ignored by a biased Anglo-American media for a long time: The rise of a virulent form of Hindu terrorism that begets violence from other minorities.  Here is a list of almost one hundred groups that are fighting the Indian government. All of them thrive in India. The context for what has happened in Mumbai is stunning only for those unaware how a cocktail mix of wrong policies, official patronage to extremism, and separatist movements have come together to destabilize India.

By AHMED QURAISHI

 

     The night of Nov. 26, 2008, will go down in history as the day when India’s homegrown terrorism reared its head after years of silent mushroom growth. 

 

     This terrorism in Mumbai is not surprising, unlike the reactions in most of the western media.  India’s terrorist underground has been flourishing for many years.  While the U.S. media was busy last year likening Pakistan to Iraq in a politically motivated campaign aligned with U.S. military objectives, experts were ranking India only second to Iraq in the number of people who died as a result of terrorist attacks between 2004 and 2007, according to one survey by an American think tank.

 

     The Indian government has been artfully concealing a worrying development for at least sixteen years under an organized hype centered on economic growth and military power projection with a focus on China and Pakistan.

 

     Indian terrorism is a confusing mix. Journalists and observers outside the region often miss the simmering tensions beneath the surface that occasionally burst into the open, surprising many and raising questions like how could there be so much violence in what is supposed to be a secular democracy and a rising economy where such things should not happen.

 

     In India, there is a cocktail mix of wrong policies, official patronage to extremism, and separatist movements, all coming together to destabilize India.  At least 600 Christians, churches, nuns and priests were targeted by Hindu mobs in eastern India in August this year. Almost the entire Muslim population of Kashmir is up in arms against the excesses, arrests, murders and rapes by the Indian army.  For years there has been a media trial of Indian Muslims for real and imaginary involvement in violence.  News such as the arrest this month of two serving Indian army officers involved in crimes that were attributed to Indian Muslims has served to increase disgruntlement among minorities.  In 2002, close to 2,500 Indian Muslim men, women and children were burned alive in the first religious genocide of 21st century. In 1984, Sikhs were hauled off buses in New Delhi and beaten or burned to death following the assassination of Indian prime minister Indra Gandhi at the hands of Sikh bodyguards. And finally, between 12 to 14 separatist insurgencies currently rage across India’s north and northeast.

 

     All of this makes for a dangerous combination that simmers quietly under the surface. The Indian media’s self-imposed ban on discussing these problems helps keep the lid on them.  But when the pressure becomes unbearable, things occasionally burst into the open in the shape of terrorist acts.  This only surprises those who do no know how India has been gradually relapsing into religious extremism in the period between 1990 and 2008.  This history is important in order to understand why the Indian claims of Pakistani complicity in the attacks have often sought to simplify a complex situation.

 

     Hindu militant groups have mushroomed in the past few years. This month, the arrest of two serving Indian army officers has confirmed speculation that Hindu terrorist groups have infiltrated Indian military and political establishments.

 

     1992 was the definite year that saw Hindu fundamentalism express itself politically. Hundreds of religious terrorists descended on a north Indian city with tools in hand. They climbed on top of a majestic, 500-year-old mosque built by the same Muslim rulers who built the famous Taj Mahal.  Imbibed with religious hatred, the Hindu mobs razed the building to the ground.  Indian government authorities did nothing to stop it.

 

     This Indian betrayal of a carefully crafted secular image would prove fatal later. In 1999, a Hindu mob surrounded the car of Graham Staines, an Australian priest, and his underage boy and girl and burned them alive.

 

     Australia maintained an unusual quiet till this day about this major act of terrorism. The bias is easily detectable when compared to Australia’s reaction and statements to ‘Muslim terrorism’, especially in Indonesia and later in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

     In this sense, countries like United States, Britain and Australia are partially responsible for letting the growth of India terrorism – with its mix of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and ethnic insurgencies – go unnoticed for so many years. These western countries have done this in order not to disturb the Anglo-Saxon project of grooming India as a bulwark against China and Russia and other regional powers.

 

     Following is a list of various indigenous separatist, militant and terrorist organizations operating in India against the Indian federal government.  This list has been compiled using information available in the public domain, news reports and specialized publications. During any given incident in India, a combination of some or all of these organizations is a suspect, including in the Mumbai blasts and in any other militant activity.  Blaming Kashmiris or Pakistanis for Indian internal problems would be a factual misrepresentation that must be countered with full force by Pakistan.

 

     It should also be noted that the Indian establishment is cracking down on Tamil separatists due to violence in Sri Lanka as Tamils are regrouping in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nado.  Tamils have to their credit the last significant political assassination in India, the blowing up of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1984. They continue to be the most ruthless terror outfit in India.  Mumbai blasts carry the fingerprints of many terror groups operating inside India, each with a long list of grievances against the Indian government and enough motivation to carry out such terrorist acts.

 

     Not all groups in this list are necessarily terrorist organizations.  But all of them are active against the Indian government.

 

Hindu Terror Groups

1.      Shiv Sena – Army of Shiva

2.      Bajrang Dal

3.      Durga Vahini-Women militants

4.      BJP

5.      A ragtag, government-armed Hindu militant groups have

         been raised in Kashmir and northern India during this decade

Indian Occupied Kashmir

  1. Hizbul Mujahideen
  2. Harkat-ul-Ansar or Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami
  3. Lashkar-e-Toiba
  4.  Jaish-e-MohammadMujahideen E-Tanzeem
  5.  Jammu & KashmirLiberation Front
  6.  Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen
  7.  Al Badr
  8.  Dukhtaran-e-Millat
  9.  Al Barq
  10.   Al Jehad
  11.   Jamait-ul-Mujahideen
  12.  Jammu & Kashir National Liberation Army
  13.  People’s League 
  14.  Muslim JanbazForce
  15.  Kashmir Jehad Force
  16.   Al JehadForce (combines Muslim Janbaz Force and Kashmir  
  17.  Jehad Force
  18.  Al Umar Mujahideen
  19.  Mahaz-e-Azadi
  20. Islami Jamaat-e-Tulba
  21. Jammu & Kashmir StudentsLiebration Front
  22. Ikhwan-ul-Mujahideen
  23. Islamic Students League
  24. Tehrik-e-Hurriat-e-Kashmir
  25. Mutahida Jehad Council
  26. Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Fiqar Jafaria
  27. Jamait-ul-Mujahideen  
  28. Al Mustafa Liberation Fighters
  29. Tehrik-e-Jehad-e-Islami
  30. Therik-ul-Mujahideen
  31. Muslim Mujahideen
  32. Al MujahidForce
  33. Tehrik-e-Jehad
  34. Islami Inquilabi Mahaz

 ASSAM

40. Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT)

41. Dima Halom Daogah (DHD)

42. Karbi National Volunteers (KNV)

43. Rabha National Security Force (RNSF)

44. Koch-RajbongshiLiberation Organisation (KRLO)

45. Adivasi Cobra Force(ACF)

46. Karbi People’s Front(KPF)

47. Tiwa National Revolutionary Force (TNRF)

48. Bircha Commando Force(BCF)

49. Bengali Tiger Force (BTF)

50. Adivasi Security Force(ASF)

51. All Assam Adivasi Suraksha Samiti (AAASS)

52. Gorkha Tiger Force(GTF)

53. Barak Valley YouthLiberation Front (BVYLF)

54. Muslim United LiberationTigers of Assam (MULTA)

55. Muslim United LiberationFront of Assam (MULFA)

56. Muslim Security Council of Assam (MSCA)

57. United Liberation Militia ofAssam (ULMA)

58. Islamic Liberation Army of Assam (ILAA)

59. Muslim Volunteer Force (MVF)

60. Muslim Liberation Army (MLA)

61. Muslim Security Force (MSF)

62. Islamic SevakSangh (ISS)

63. Islamic United ReformationProtest of India (IURPI)

64. United Muslim LiberationFront of Assam (UMLFA)

65. Revolutionary MuslimCommandos (RMC)

66. Muslim Tiger Force (MTF)

67. People’s UnitedLiberation Front (PULF)

68. Adam Sena(AS)

69. Harkat-ul-Mujahideen

70. Harkat-ul-Jehad

NAGALAND

71. National Socialist Councilof Nagaland (Isak-Muivah)– NSCN(IM)

72. National Socialist Councilof Nagaland (Khaplang)– NSCN (K)

73. Naga NationalCouncil (Adino) – NNC (Adino)

74. Tripura Liberation OrganisationFront (TLOF)

75. United Bengali LiberationFront (UBLF)

76. Tripura TribalVolunteer Force (TTVF)

77. Tripura Armed TribalCommando Force (TATCF)

78. Tripura TribalDemocratic Force (TTDF)

79. Tripura Tribal YouthForce (TTYF)

80. Tripura LiberationForce (TLF)

81. Tripura Defence Force (TDF)

82. All TripuraVolunteer Force (ATVF)

83. Tribal Commando Force (TCF)

84. Tripura Tribal YouthForce (TTYF)

85. All TripuraBharat Suraksha Force(ATBSF)

86. Tripura Tribal ActionCommittee Force (TTACF)

87. Socialist Democratic Frontof Tripura (SDFT)

88. All TripuraNational Force (ATNF)

89. Tripura Tribal Sengkrak Force (TTSF)

90. Tiger Commando Force (TCF)

91. Tripura Mukti Police (TMP)

Meghalaya 

92. Hynniewtrep NationalLiberation Council (HNLC)

93. Achik NationalVolunteer Council (ANVC)

94. People’s LiberationFront of Meghalaya (PLF-M)

95. Left-wing Extremists

96. People’s Guerrilla Army

  Here are quick references that can help understand the India story:

 

 Hindu Al-Qaeda: Asia’s New ‘Terror Central’ : Here is the hottest Indian story, neatly tucked under the well constructed –and expensive- veneer of ‘Incredible India’ advertisements on international television news channels: The fast rise of Indian religious terrorist organizations that have penetrated India’s military and politics.  The movement is so strong, resourceful and organized that it warrants the label India’s Hindu al-Qaeda. India is quietly emerging as a new ‘terror central’. Since the start of this century, almost nine years ago, India has seen the targeted murder of over 700 Christians, 2500 Muslims, and the unaccounted hundreds of ‘untouchables’. That’s not all. India is now grooming its own ‘Hindu al Qaeda,’ terrorist militias tasked with guarding India’s dreams of becoming the next superpower. Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka beware. India is already grooming rebels to stir trouble in China’s Tibet and Xingjian. The problem with this thinking is that expensive showoff space shuttles to Moon –when almost no one else in the world is doing it for now- won’t reduce poverty among the world’s largest single concentration of poor people on earth.

 

The Face Of India Hidden From The World:  There is a distinct lobby in United States and Britain that played a criminal role in fostering Indian terrorism. It did this by covering up Hindu terrorism against Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and low-caste Indians. Have you seen any of the above pictures published by any American or British newspaper or news service? See [left] the charred bodies of Indian Muslims burned alive by Hindu mobs in 2002, in the 21st century’s first genocide.

 

 Why Hindu Extremists Invaded Taj Mahal? A group of 10 Hindutva activists-cum-militants belonging to Shiv Sena, a core fundamentalist political outfit, sneaked into the Taj Mahal at Agra on July 24 and performed prayers (puja) within the precincts on Thursday. They were taken into custody and later released without any hurdles.  This is a routine matter for Indian governments when Hindus perform illegal activities. Had Muslims enter the temples and remove the idols and clean up the structure to be able to offer prayers to God, the matter would be different. Hindu outfits, who consider themselves above law and have every right to do anything they please with Muslims and their mosques, have been on a rampage for political reasons with concocted stories against Islam.

 

Kashmir Shakes India: Something stunning is happening in Indian controlled Kashmir. World media is not giving it projection, Indians are hiding it and Pakistani media is too busy focusing on political turmoil within. The fact is that the Indian federation has been shaken to the core over the developments in Indian held Kashmir in the last few weeks.

India is Testing the Pak-China Friendship, but Alas!

21 Sep

pak-china

Ishaal Zehra

It is said that China makes time an ally. And the recent BRICS summit held at ‎Xiamen, China, upheld the saying. Understandably, some are calling this summit the second coming of BRICS.

Not long back, the United States was seen criticizing China of building a ‘great wall of self-isolation’ around herself. Today the Geopolitical environment has changed with such a degree that opposite seem more accurate. The most obvious change, in this altering scenario, has been the advent of Donald Trump as the President of the United States. Since his beginning in the oval office, he has been a disruptive force internationally. His rebuking of climate change, globalization, treaty allies accompanied by the policies of continuing US interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq signals abandonment of American exceptionalism; that holds that the United States is extraordinarily unique among nations in a very positive way, particularly with respect to its ideals of democracy and personal freedom.

KC Singh, a former Indian ambassador who retired as secretary in the external affairs ministry explains the situation in quite apropos way. He opines, “Trump has approved a significant troop surge in Afghanistan, berated Pakistan for its complicity in abetting terror, needled China over its unwillingness or inability to restrain North Korea, and found US-Russia relations in a bind with the Congress sanctioning Russia and the president not knowing whether he trusts or distrusts President Vladimir Putin.” Whereas, “the BRICS Summit was hosted by China to see how it could leverage the grouping to capture more of the strategic space vacated by Trump, and impose a new order with Chinese characteristics on global trade, finance and governance.”

Though China was at a stand-off with India at the Doklam border, still she triumphed to incapacitate the unpleasant situation and managed to tempt India to the summit. Rightly assessing the Indian prime ministers passion for publicity, particularly when the news at home about economy and governance is depressing, China lured him to the BRICS summit entrapping into a political trap.

President Xi once described the BRICS spirit as “equality, innovation, win-win cooperation in seeking common ground while reserving differences,” which has become a major modality of cooperation. During this meeting in Xiamen, discussions have been held on South-South cooperation, international development and cooperation plans. The BRICS summit also pledged opposition to protectionism, denounced North Korea’s latest nuclear test, tougher measures against terrorist groups and the UN reforms. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa agreed in a joint declaration to strengthen cooperation against a range of terrorist organizations, including some allegedly based in Pakistan.

India has been calling it a major diplomatic victory and jubilating since then. Although the BRICS statement contained some strong language against terrorism, it deplored “all terrorist attacks worldwide” and condemned “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever”, while stressing that “there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism”. “We reaffirm that those responsible for committing, organizing, or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable,” it said.

Notably, the statement did not refer to Pakistan by name. Interestingly, a Chinese expert, Wang Dehua from the Shanghai Municipal Centre for International Studies said “he frequently hears from Pakistan that India supports the Balochistan militants and other subversive groups active along the Pak-Afghan.” So the declaration must be seen in a vice versa case.

Responding to India’s propaganda, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, in a written response, told Press Trust of India that BRICS countries have “shown their concerns to the violent activities raised by these organizations”. “These organizations are all sanctioned by the UN Security Council and have a significant impact for Afghanistan issue”.

Reacting to the BRICS summit document, Islamabad said that Pakistan was also “seriously concerned” about the threat posed by terrorism and extremism in the South Asian region. “Many terrorist groups based in the region, including in Afghanistan, such as the TTP and its associates like JuA have been responsible for extreme acts of violence against Pakistani people. We are deeply concerned at the presence of groups like Daesh, ETIM and IMU in the ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan as they pose a threat to peace and security in the region. Pakistan also remains concerned at the rise of extremist ideologies and intolerance in the region encouraging social stratification and systematic targeting of minorities,”

A week earlier, China had ruled out any discussions on Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen. Beijing said it would not be an appropriate topic to be taken up by the group. China knows quite well and also appreciate the Pakistani efforts and sacrifices Pakistan has rendered in this war against terror. Needless to say that the Beijing has been standing with her all-weather friend Pakistan through every thick and thin. China’s repeatedly blocking of India’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group on the pretext of giving an equal opportunity to Pakistan for the membership of the group, proves the case. Besides, if someone thinks that China will belittle her trade partner whom it has financed with the $46-billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, is perhaps living in a dream house.

The writer can be approached at ishaal.zehra@hotmail.com

With Trump Gaging a Hardline Strategy; Iran Must Take a Decision Soon

21 Sep

trump

Ishaal Zehra

The Reuters reports, quoting some US officials, that President Donald Trump is weighing a more aggressive strategy towards Iran. The proposal which is said to be prepared by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security advisor, H.R. McMaster and other top officials was presented to Trump on 8th of September at the National Security Council meeting, the sources say adding further that it could be agreed and made public before the end of September. Reuters claims that all of the sources are familiar with the draft and requested anonymity because Trump has yet to act on it.

Sources claim that the plan is intended to increase pressure on Tehran to curb its ballistic missile program and support for resistance groups. “I would call it a broad strategy for the range of [alleged] Iranian malign activities: financial materials, support for terror, destabilization in the region, especially Syria and Iraq and Yemen,” contended another senior administration official. “Whatever we end up with, we want to implement with allies to the greatest extent possible,” the official added.

President Trump has been pretty vocal against the 2015 Iran nuclear deal since the days he launched his electoral campaign. Even so, his opposition to the deal is posing a real problem for the US policymakers who are trying to mollify him. While most of his national security aides favor remaining in the pact, trump is acting contrariwise.

“The main issue for us was to get the president not to discard the nuclear deal with Iran. But he had very strong feelings, backed by the US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, that they should be more aggressive with Iran,” Reuters quoted the US official as saying.

Considering Trump’s reported decision to adopt a more hardline stance toward Iran, Anthony Cartalucci, a geopolitical researcher opines that the new strategy may include more provocative actions against Tehran and is ultimately aimed at reducing Iranian regional and global influence.

While Tehran’s nuclear program has no military aspects and is only for peaceful purposes, which have been confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, still the US is looking in a contentious mood.

As if this wasn’t enough to wake Iran up to the new dawn, America’s strongest ally Israel took the argument farther. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while speaking in Argentina alongside Argentine President, said that the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran should be amended or canceled. Further adding that he wanted to correct the impression in recent media reports that Israel’s position on the 2015 deal had softened.

To justify his standpoint, Netanyahu compared Iran to the rouge state of North Korea while saying that “we understand the danger of a rogue nation having atomic bombs.”

Netanyahu accused Tehran of operating a terror machine that encompasses the entire world. He said it’s time to hold Iran accountable for its actions “publically and definitively.”  “It is time to hold Iran fully responsible in a public and final way”.

Today, the way US-Israel policies are unveiling, it’s more of an all hell break loose for Tehran. The sooner Tehran takes a stand point, the better. US and her allies seem skeptic of those Muslim countries who refuse to be her protégé. If the United States can behave such brazenly towards Pakistan; her ally in the GWOT for the last 16 years, what good Iran can expect?

Acting wisely, Pakistan has stood up for herself. After the eminent threat from President Trump, Pak’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, visited the heartfelt countries to revitalize the bilateral relations with them that stiffened over the time. While visiting Iran, he called on Iranian President Dr. Hassan Rouhani to discuss strengthening of brotherly relations between the two countries rooted in their common history, culture and people to people ties and reaffirmed the mutual desire to strengthen bilateral cooperation. Besides, bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan was also an important mutual concern for both the neighbours.

Appreciating the gesture, under such circumstances it is also recommended that both countries must try and reconcile the real situation in the region given the fact that President Trump has shown disinclination for both the countries. Logically this shared hatred of him should bring both Pakistan and Iran closer together to underline the regional prowess.

Formally joining CPEC would also be a good initiative for Tehran since she is already committed with China and Russia. As of now China is investing in Tehran’s infrastructure and energy sector and Iran is already engaged with Russia through the Iran-Russia joint railroad projects in the ambitious North-South Transport Corridor. Among other things, these two were the only countries heavily pushing for special waivers to continue trading with Iran after the UN put sanctions against Iran nuclear programme.

Primarily, CPEC symbolizes a multipolar world order thus challenging the US-dominated unipolar world order and that’s what infuriates the US. The world would be a worthier place to live once this uni-polarity will end. So, this is the time for Tehran to carefully examine the international gimmick and come to a decision. CPEC is waiting with arms wide open.

Author can be reached at ishaal.zehra@hotmail.com

Trump’s Warning To Islamabad Has Formalised The China-Pakistan-Russia Axis

30 Aug

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

In calling out the “safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan” as part of his Afghanistan policy, US President Donald Trump has given formal shape to a reality that has been brewing in South Asia since Washington fell out with Islamabad post the Osama bin Laden raid.

With both Beijing and Moscow coming out in Islamabad’s defence almost immediately, the China-Russia-Pakistan axis has been formally inaugurated, with the US and India allying in Afghanistan—as epitomised by Trump’s call for New Delhi to help out Washington in the region.

Washington and New Delhi have been conspicuously toward drawn each other since the 2008 nuclear deal, a similar version of which Islamabad has been demanding as well. However, initial US policy had been to ensure that proximity with India doesn’t alienate its traditional ally Pakistan, which heretofore had a pivotal role for Washington in Afghanistan.

 

What the Trump regime has done to chastise Islamabad over Afghanistan echoes the Indian stance in the region, specifically targeting Pakistan’s “jugular vein”: Kashmir.

Following the bin Laden raid, the relations between the US and Pakistan became increasingly acrimonious under the Obama regime. Under the Trump presidency, the Republicans in the Congress that had already been clamouring to revisit aid to Pakistan—asking Islamabad to pay for its F-16s last year, for instance—now have a formal outlet to vent their frustration.

What the Trump regime has done to chastise Islamabad over Afghanistan echoes the Indian stance in the region, specifically targeting Pakistan’s “jugular vein”: Kashmir.

In little over three months, Trump implicitly equated Kashmir’s freedom fight with terrorism at an Islamic summit in Riyadh, sanctioned the Kashmir-bound Hizbul Mujahideen and its commander Syed Salahuddin as terrorists, and now officially underscored the problem of Pakistan “harbouring terrorists” while seeking the solution from India.

Meanwhile, China has continued to forestall New Delhi’s move to blacklist Kashmir-bound jihadists at the UN, as it continues work on the $62 billion corridor with Pakistan, while further reigniting its own border dispute with India in Doklam.

Moscow drawing closer to Islamabad, at least militarily, naturally overlapped with US angst vis-à-vis Pakistan. It started with Russia lifting its self-imposed arms embargo on Pakistan in November 2014, following by a landmark “military cooperation” agreementthat culminated in the first ever joint military drill between the two countries last year.

In the meantime, Pakistan will be importing Mi-35 combat helicopters in addition to the Russian Klimov RD-93 engines for its JF-17 multi-role fighters. Moscow and Islamabad have also signed a deal for the construction of the North-South gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore, to cater to the ever growing energy needs in Pakistan’s most populous province.

The shaping of these axes in South Asia has been further facilitated by Indo-Pak ties reaching their nadir amidst increasing volatility in Kashmir.

This formation of hard alliances is a return to 20th century diplomacy and the rigid rulebook that defined bilateral relations, and which caused wars of all kinds.

With the US involved in direct confrontation in Ukraine and the South China Sea, as on-ground samples of its longstanding rivalries with Russia and China, the formalisation of coalitions means the respective alliances could henceforth be backing territorial disputes and regional crises as single units, drawn against one another and overlapping with the security and economic cooperation between the groups.

Even so, Russia cannot overlook the economic power that India is growing into. It is especially unlikely that Moscow would stop its military exports to New Delhi, despite its two-pronged security antagonism with Islamabad and Beijing.

Another promising ally for the China-Russia-Pakistan axis would’ve been Iran, considering Tehran’s proximity to Moscow and bitterness vis-à-vis the US, which has seen it join Beijing and Moscow in condemning Trump’s accusations against Islamabad. But Pakistan’s own ties with Iran have deteriorated in recent times, with Tehran echoing the US India in accusing Islamabad of providing safe havens to terror groups, and even threatening military invasion inside Pakistani territory.

Furthermore, Pakistan’s unflinching obligations to Saudi Arabia, which is the foundation of its differences with Iran, coupled with New Delhi and Tehran’s growing economic cooperation along with Kabul—as exemplified by the Chabahar Port—mean that Iran isn’t a natural fit for either of the two groups, especially since Washington is unlikely to diplomatically ease things for Tehran under Trump, who has signed a “$110 billion” arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

This formation of hard alliances is a return to 20th century diplomacy and the rigid rulebook that defined bilateral relations, and which caused wars of all kinds. But there still might be a chance that the China-Pakistan-Russia axis might end up being shaped by the common interests that define it, rather than the ramifications for the states that it alienates.

Even so, with stridently antagonistic voices and policymaking now at the helm in Washington and New Delhi, coupled with Islamabad’s rigidly masochistic shielding of jihadist groups, it is likely that confrontation rather than cooperation will remain the order of the day in South Asia—at least in the near future.

 

 

Trump’s new Afghanistan policy has Pakistan angry and alarmed 

30 Aug

By Pamela Constable

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A wave of anti-American anger has swept Pakistan this past week, triggered both by President Trump’s threat to punish the country for harboring insurgents and by his invitation to India, Pakistan’s longtime rival, to become more involved in Afghanistan’s future.

Tribal and religious leaders have held protests at border crossings, and banners urging “Say no to America!” have appeared across the capital. Officials have canceled trips to Washington and asked a State Department official to postpone her planned visit here this week. Across the country’s fractious political spectrum, leaders have raised a collective fist at Trump.

In a stern speech Aug. 21, the U.S. president laid out a new militarized policy for the region, saying he would send more American troops to Afghanistan and insisting that Pakistan must “do more” to rein in Islamist militants or face possible sanctions, such as cutting aid or revoking its status as a major non-NATO ally.

 

Afghan officials welcomed Trump’s message, but Pakistanis accused him of “bullying” their country despite its history of cooperating with the United States in foreign conflicts. They said he had betrayed them by reaching out to India, which Pakistan views as a persistent threat to its existence.

“President Trump wants to portray us as a villain despite the huge losses­ we have suffered in the so-called anti-terrorism war,” said Hafiz Hamdullah, a conservative Muslim cleric and legislator. “Both India and the U.S. want to use Afghanistan against us. These charges of terrorist hideouts are just to destabilize Pakistan.”

Mian Raza Rabbani, the left-leaning chairman of Pakistan’s Senate, denounced Trump in similar terms. “No country in the world has done more than Pakistan to counter the menace of terrorism,” he declared. Invoking the “legacy of Vietnam,” he said that if Trump “wants Pakistan to become a graveyard for U.S. troops, let him do so.”

In tribal regions along the border, where U.S. drone strikes have killed hundreds of suspected militants and civilians, one crowd of tribesmen chanted, “Long live Pakistan.” In another spot, religious activists held up placards saying, “India, America and Afghanistan are conspiring against Pakistan.”

Pakistan’s National Security Committee, which comprises top military and civilian officials, sharply rejected Trump’s charges of sheltering insurgents and demanded that the U.S. military “eliminate sanctuaries for terrorists” on the Afghan side. “The Afghan war cannot be fought in Pakistan,” the group declared.

Pakistani officials took other steps to show their unhappiness. They requested that a planned visit by Alice Wells, the senior State Department official dealing with the region, be indefinitely postponed. Pakistan’s foreign minister, who had been planning a trip to Washington, instead announced that he would travel to China, Russia and Turkey.

Despite the hostile rhetoric, there were signs that U.S.-Pakistan relations are far from collapsing. Over the past few weeks, several low-profile meetings were held between current and former officials from both governments to discuss how to keep relations on an even keel.

Pakistani newspapers ran headlines that blasted Trump as a hectoring bully but also published nuanced commentaries calling for pragmatism and patience. The editors of Dawn, the country’s most influential daily paper, counseled that “there is still space and time for constructive dialog. A strategic rupture is in neither the U.S. nor Pakistan’s interest.”

For Pakistan, the issue of militant sanctuaries is a familiar one; both of Trump’s immediate predecessors pressed Pakistan to crack down on them but did not take harsh measures, especially because Pakistan was cooperating in the broader anti-terrorism war. This time, though, Pakistani officials are said to be far more worried that Trump, an unpredictable leader, may follow through.

“Trump’s threats are real. . . . Madness on our doorstep has already arrived,” commentator Syed Talat Hussain wrote in the News International on Monday. He suggested that if Trump, “an ignoramus addicted to creating sensation,” ordered a drone strike in Pakistani territory — as opposed to the border tribal areas — it could “get us embroiled in a war with the U.S. This is deadly serious business.”

 

Pakistanis have been even more deeply rattled by Trump’s warm embrace of India, where the current prime minister is an ardent Hindu nationalist and Indian army troops have been waging an aggressive, months-long campaign against Muslim protesters in the disputed Kashmir region.

Pakistan has long pursued influence in Afghanistan largely as a foil to India, a larger and more powerful rival, only to see New Delhi become a major benefactor of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

“Trump’s comments about India were more unsettling for Pakistanis than his threats to Pakistan,” said Michael Kugelman, a Pakistan expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. “The U.S. calling for a deeper Indian footprint in Afghanistan sets off alarm bells across Pakistan. It will cause very real fear.”

A few Pakistani voices here have called for a rethinking of Pakistan’s efforts to influence Afghanistan, noting this has created a burden on its resources and a spillover of Islamist radicalization. But virtually no one questions the notion that India, the world’s largest democracy, is their mortal enemy — a premise that has long kept Pakistan’s army in a position of extraordinary power but has left the country increasingly isolated.

Trump is grossly misled on Pakistan, here it is how?  

28 Aug

By Atta Rasool Malik

On 21 August 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump spelled out his long awaited ‘Afghan Policy’ while addressing American officers and soldiers at historic U.S military base, Fort Myer, Virginia. His speech was televised nationwide during prime-time in the United States.  Millions of others around the globe also listened to American President live on TVs and YouTube. Here in Pakistan, he was followed with a lot of interest and keenness because people of Pakistan are greatly affected by the war in their neighborhood.

American President was praising his men for their great sacrifices but deep down in his heart, he knew his men were not winning in Afghanistan. Therefore, he was unable to give the timeframe for likely completion of the task in Afghanistan or conditions under which to define success or failure. As regards Pakistan, he looked more like Indian PM Mr. Narendra Moodi.

Trump could identify only one reason for not winning in Afghanistan; it was Pakistan. To him, terrorists were enjoying safe haven in Pakistan. However, he did not explain why Pakistan wanted to fail America in Afghanistan?

Trump took very long to issue policy guidelines to Americans troops engaged in war in Afghanistan. Probably, he was too occupied and busy on the domestic front. Whether it was fear of impeachment and inquiries or he was being influenced by ‘interest groups’ to continue fighting in Afghanistan; a policy which he had described it as “disastrous” during his election campaign. Trump was now ‘educated’ that American presence in Afghanistan is essential to safeguard the US might against emerging and resurging powers. CEO’s of influential Multi-National Companies benefiting from the war in Afghanistan might have also assured support for entrapped and worried Trump. Therefore, finally, Trump has announced the continuation of Afghan war with renewed vigor.

Trump repudiated his early stance and declared without any shyness that the United States of America is there in Afghanistan ‘not to rebuild Afghanistan or construct democracies in far away lands’. They were there to kill terrorists; read Afghan Taliban. For the first time, American President says he does not stand for values which the Americans have lecturing us all along for many years; human rights, women empowerment, and democracy.

Americans Troops identify the only section of Taliban; Afghan Taliban as terrorists. These are the people who resist American presence in Afghanistan.  Americans have no problem with another half of Taliban; Pakistani Taliban who are fighting the state of Pakistan. These anti-Pakistan Taliban are rather facilitated by Afghan’s NDS and India’s intelligence agency RAW in Afghanistan. Pakistani Taliban, actually; a proxy of India, are killing innocent children and women in markets, schools, churches and mosques of Pakistan. Resultantly Pakistan has lost over 60,000 people and approximately $100 billion of the worth of material losses in this war on Terror.

In Europe and America there are lobbying firms and surprisingly these are legal. These firms are ready to further the cause of any country, group, and mafia for money. They mislead academia and influence state officials for money. They don’t have the moral integrity to stand for truth. They are clearly tasked to tarnish the image of Pakistan. Indian lobbies are particularly very effective in Washington. They twist the data, misinform and deceive the decision and opinion makers of USA. Trump administration has been misled to believe that the only cause of failing in Afghanistan is Pakistan. Americans have failed to appreciate the actual causes of resurgent Taliban. People in Afghanistan view the absence of justice and rampant corruption in government offices deadlier than Taliban.

Propagandists and lobbies have changed the image of an infamous killer and butcher, current PM of India, Mr. Narendra Modi as peace loving leader of India. Americans officials have forgotten that Mr. Narendra Moodi was barred from visiting EU and USA for a decade for gross human right violations. India is a caste ridden racist country where lives of minorities are like hell. School going Kashmiri girls and boys are insulted and blinded with pellets guns on a daily basis. Yet Trump looked upon India as a peaceful nation and inspiring democracy.

Americans have decided to empower India in Afghanistan forgetting that Indians are not neighbors of Afghanistan. They are only there in Afghanistan to bribe and instigate Afghan officials against Pakistan and create instability in Pakistan. This miracle is due to lobbying firms, MNC’s appetite for Indian Market and availability of Indians cash for import of weapons. The situation is shameful for humanity. Even the top World leaders cannot call spade a spade for petty interests. This is clear moral bankruptcy. It is ‘unprincipled realism of Trump’.

Americans are known for their poor understanding of the region. Their differentiation of friend and foe is faulty. American prefers fluency in English over populace support, honesty, and competence for high posts in the Afghan government. Consequently today American troops enjoy very little public support in Afghanistan. They are perceived as occupiers, rather than facilitators of peace and development.

Afghan Taliban don’t need shelters and safe haven of Pakistan. They control large areas [over 45%] in Afghanistan and roam freely. On the contrary, due to courage and sacrifices of Pakistan armed forces, Pakistan has re-established the writ of the state over entire tribal areas, FATA. American President has all the satellites at his disposal. He should indicate where are the safe heavens.

Pakistan is fighting the terrorists with utmost power. Pakistan has lost many senior military officers including general officers and their children in this fight. This is a sufficient proof of our sincerity. Pakistan has since long abandoned the idea of militias, though the USA is still relying on proxies and contractors. Pakistan has fully disciplined and well integrated armed forces. It has long range missiles and sufficient credible nuclear deterrence with a political will and national consensus to use all weapons in case of a real threat.

American President should not sermon people of Pakistan to commit to civilization, order, and peace. People of Pakistan are not savages. They are already committed to faith, peace, and order and proud of their civilization.

Academia/ intelligentsia of Pakistan does not view America as a hostile country. The USA helped Pakistan build nuclear weapons by turning blind eye to development of our nuclear weapons. Pakistan also acknowledges and appreciates USA help at many difficult occasions. Pakistan is annoyed but a not enemy of United States. Americans despite their dominant position in world politics and vast influence, did not help resolve Kashmir and water issues with India.  Rivalry with India has ruined Pakistan’s economy and it continues to fund proxies and terrorism in Karachi and Baluchistan.

It is also baseless Indian propaganda that Pakistan is allowing Chinese or Russian naval bases at Gawader. CPEC has been over sensitized by Indians. It is a purely an economic project. Pakistan only desires to uplift its infrastructure and overcome energy crisis.

Pakistan has no problem with Americans new found love with India. Every country has a right to pursue its national interests.  Americans think that India is their strategic partner and it would stand against China or Russia, it is absolutely fine with us. Americans would know the Indians more clearly very soon.

Trump has reminded India making billions of dollars from the United States from trade and on other pretexts to contribute more in Afghanistan.

Looking forward to seeing Indians and Americans troops ‘killing terrorists’ together in Afghanistan.

Author hails from semi tribal areas of Pakistan. Holds M Phil Degree in International Relations from National Defense University Islamabad. He can be reached at attarasul@hotmail.com. Twitter: @malikattarasul

 

US Stuck In the Graveyard of Empires

28 Aug

By Ishaal Zehra

Media reports claim that the American President, Donald Trump, has let loose to his advisers who were tasked to craft the new US strategy in Afghanistan, blasting them strikingly for their startling failures in America’s longest war in Afghanistan. According to some senior officials, he even suggested firing the war’s top military commander Gen. John Nicholson during a tense meeting at the White House on the pretext of “not winning the war”. Officials said Trump pointed to maps showing the Taliban gaining ground, and that Defense Secretary Mattis responded to the president by saying the US is losing because it doesn’t have the strategy it needs.

Trump is the third US president dealing with the Afghan war. Former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush went through multiple strategies over the course of their presidencies to try to stabilize Afghanistan. What set Trump apart in the July meeting was his open questioning of the quality of the advice he was receiving. Trump’s national security team has been trying for months to come up with a new strategy he can approve, but all in vein.

Though the president is surely not a pro when it comes to keeping personal comments and feelings out of politics. And he surely is lousy while speaking in public. But he was absolutely right to snub the military brass for daring to ask for a very large troop and budget increase for the stalemated Afghan War that has commanded a price of $1 trillion to date.

Of course, the unfortunate generals are not really to blame. They have been forced by the last three presidents to fight, as Eric Margolis defines in his recent article, a pointless war at the top of the world that lacks any strategy, reason or purpose – and with limited forces. Where they are not even allowed to admit defeat by lightly-armed Muslim tribesmen. The truth is that America was blundered into the Afghan War under President George W. Bush who needed a target for revenge after the humiliating 9/11 attacks.

Gen. Nicholson, during a testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February, has called the war a “stalemate” and said he needs a “few thousand” additional troops. Heading into its 16th year, the war in Afghanistan is the longest war in the US history.

Retired Adm. James Stavridis, a former head of NATO and an NBC News analyst, suggested the delay in finalizing a strategy has hurt US efforts in the war.

“The situation in Afghanistan is not improving, but I think it’s hardly irretrievable at this point, and what the president needs to be doing is deciding on the strategy,” Admiral Stavridis said.

“What is hurting the process at the moment is this back and forth about do we stay or do we go, how many troops,” he added. “Any commander is going to be incredibly handicapped in an environment like that. So I think the fundamental problem here is lack of decisiveness in Washington, specifically in the White House.”

Though, officials say the president’s team has coalesced around a workable Afghan strategy, where it had presented him with other options as well such as complete withdrawal. Trump, however, appeared to have been significantly influenced by a meeting he recently had with a group of veterans of the Afghanistan war, and he was unhappy with the options presented to him.

Lindsey Graham, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee reiterates that, “If the president doesn’t listen to the generals, like Gen. Nicholson and he goes down the road that President Obama went, Afghanistan is going to collapse”. “Here’s my advice to the president — listen to people like Gen. Nicholson and McMaster and others who have been in the fight.”

Trump had better come up with a better idea. Eric Margolis suggests the absolute solution to end the 17-year war in his recent article which I endorse is to emulate the example of the courageous Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. He pronounced his Afghan War unwinnable, told his angry generals to shut up, and ordered the Red Army out of the war in Afghanistan.

Dear America: It’s Your Turn to ‘Do More’

28 Aug

By Ishaal Zehra

“We need to give attention to the important role Pakistan plays in the Afghanistan issue, and respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and security concerns”, said the Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi over a telephone conversation with US State of Secretary Rex Tillerson on August 23.

“China stands ready to keep communication and coordination with the United States on the Afghanistan issue … and political dialogue is the only solution to the Afghanistan issue,” Yang further said while exchanging views with Tillerson on the current situation of Afghanistan. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying also gave a strong statement accentuating that “Pakistan was on the front line in the struggle against terrorism and had made great sacrifices and important contributions in the fight.”

After China’s strong message, Russia also has resonated similar sentiments following Trump’s daft allegations on Pakistan.

Russian Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov slammed Trump’s Pakistan strategy and insisted that Islamabad is “a key regional player to negotiate with. Putting pressure on Pakistan may seriously destabilize the region-wide security situation and result in negative consequences for Afghanistan”.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, the civil and military leadership has expressed serious reservations over the new US policy on Afghanistan. Consultations at the highest levels concluded that Pakistan will not give in to any American pressure or demands. It has been conveyed to the US administration through diplomatic channels that Pakistan will set her strategy for a peaceful Afghanistan in line with her own national security policy.

It is also heard from a horse’s mouth that Islamabad has set its own strategy to deal with the new US strategy. Pakistan, they said, has warned the US of possible pull-out from the Afghan reconciliation process if Washington didn’t change its approach.

According to media reports, Pakistan has told US Ambassador David Hale that neither was Islamabad dependent on Washington for its defense system nor did its economy need American financial assistance. Islamabad has sent a clear message to Washington: Shifting the blame for your own failure in Afghanistan and arm-twisting won’t work anymore.

“Pakistan is not looking for any material or financial assistance from [the] United States but needs trust, understanding and acknowledgement of its contributions in the war against terror,” US Ambassador David Hale was told, when he called on Gen. Bajwa in Rawalpindi. “We have done a lot … and shall keep on doing our best, not to appease anyone but in line with our national interest and national policy,” Gen. Bajwa was quoted in an army press statement later on.

The signals emanating from White House, Capitol Hill and mainstream media on ‘US policy on Afghanistan’ point to a rather frustrated and confused mindset. Trump made a speech as the C in C of US military and expected rhetoric should be seen in that perspective, his speech also addressed a divided domestic polity.

Logically, if the US led military alliance of 46 countries could not break the surge of insurgency over a period of 16 years, even after spending almost one trillion dollars, what do they expect from Pakistan? Pakistan Army, on her part, has done a tremendous job by successfully fighting against terrorism on her soil. As Laurel Miller, former US State department official who remained special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2013 to June 2017, argues that “it’s not that there’s no leverage on Pakistan but the Pakistan is not going to change her perception of her own national security interests based only on American pressure. There has to be something that attracts the Pakistan to cooperate in a positive way with the United States.” But she also thinks that president Trump strategy has missed the “key element of any semblance of a political strategy for Afghanistan that could bring stability to the country and could give Pakistan another regional player and opportunity to see the potential for their own interests to be satisfied.”

International community should also ponder on the prolonged Afghan conflict and needs to support Afghanistan in achieving a broad inclusive political reconciliation, support the Afghan people in pursuing a development path that suits their own national conditions and support the Afghan government in increasing it capability to fight forces of extremism and terrorism. Time has come to realize the strategic environment in Afghanistan and find a political solution to the imbroglio by taking all stake holders on board, there is simply no other way.