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Pakistan Affairs

Jumpy Tweets of Bumpy Trump

bumpy trump and jumpy tweets

Our dear Trump, “the most genius and most stable”, may be trying to cut the trunk of the tree on which successive American administration have been investing heavily. Richard G. Olson, former US ambassador to Pakistan and former special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in his opinion piece, “How Not to Engage with Pakistan”, for the New York Times on January 09, aptly commented: “While perhaps it is emotionally satisfying to penalize a country that has supported American enemies in Afghanistan for the past 16 years, the administration’s approach is unlikely to work…The harsh truth is that American leverage over Rawalpindi and Islamabad has been declining… Thus, the Trump administration’s attempt at humiliating and penalizing Pakistan is unlikely to work. Pakistan, like most countries, reacts very badly to public attempts to force its hand. It is likely to respond by showing how it can truly undercut our position in Afghanistan….” Any listeners in the US? Probably none, at least for the time being. Through a series of major counter-terrorism operations, Pakistan has cleared all these areas resulting in elimination of organized terrorist presence leading to significant improvement in security situation in Pakistan. Pakistan’s peace efforts are awaiting reciprocal actions from the Afghan side in terms of clearance of vast stretches of ungoverned spaces on the Afghan side, bilateral border management, repatriation of Afghan refugees, controlling poppy cultivation, drug trafficking and initiating Afghan led and owned political reconciliation in Afghanistan.

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How Not to Engage With Pakistan

How Not to Engage With Pakistan

by Richard G. Olson [Courtesy The New York Times] President Trump’s decision last week to suspend almost all security aid to Pakistan, which quickly followed his accusation that Pakistan had “given us nothing but lies and deceit,” suggests that his administration is carrying out the hard-line approach that the president foreshadowed in August.The harsh truth is that American leverage over Rawalpindi and Islamabad has been declining. And as United States aid levels have diminished — reflecting bipartisan unhappiness with Pakistani policy — aid from the Chinese has increased. China has invested around $62 billion in Pakistani infrastructure under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, an element of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. Its magnitude and its transformation of parts of Pakistan dwarf anything the United States has ever undertaken.Thus, the Trump administration’s attempt at humiliating and penalizing Pakistan is unlikely to work. Pakistan, like most countries, reacts very badly to public attempts to force its hand. It is likely to respond by showing how it can truly undercut our position in Afghanistan.

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Pakistan’s gracious approach towards Jadhav

Pakistan’s gracious approach towards Jadhav

When Indian media and parliament were belittling Pakistan over Jadhav’s meeting with his mother and wife, they should have also taken stock as to how India treats its own prisoners. Indian MPs need to go through the memoir of journalist Iftikhar Gilani arrested for several months on false charges of spying. Gilani narrated in his book “My days in Prison” about the way his meeting took place with his wife: “I saw Aanisa. She was looking tired and pale. It was extremely frustrating not to be able to talk to her without the barriers. It was very difficult to see her under the watchful eyes of my tormentors. I could see Aanisa was also under great anxiety … Just getting to jail was difficult, and added to that was the incontestable humiliation at the hands of the jail staff she had to contend with.” Afzal Guru and Maqbool Butt are other examples of the way India illtreats its own prisoners. Let Jadhav be the judge, as to which of the two countries treat their prisoners more humanely. While Indian Foreign Minister Shushma Swaraj is known for playing dirty on grant of visa to Pakistani nationals even for pilgrimage and medical treatment, Indian Navy Commander Jadhav’s mother publicly thanked Pakistan for the humanitarian gesture. In a video message, Jadhav also thanked Pakistan’s government for setting up the meeting. “Thankful to the government of Pakistan for this kindness.” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister aptly put it: “We have allowed access to Jadhav’s family purely on a humanitarian basis. However, if we were in the same place, India wouldn’t have been so kind to us.” It is deplorable that as Pakistan was arranging a meeting of terrorist-spy Jadhav with his family members, Indian troops engaged in unprovoked firing on the Line of Control killing three Pakistani soldiers and injuring another on Rakhchikri sector.

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Curse of circular conspiracy theory

circular conspiracy theory

The way this avoidable 21-day siege evolved and ended has raised many questions, which need collective answers from the national leadership. There was a nation-wide sigh of relief when Faizabad sit-in ended peacefully, thanks to good offices of Pakistan Army. This wasn’t the first time when Army played such a role and burnt its fingers. A number of times fingers have been pointed towards Army for first constructing such sit-ins and then deconstructing them in a power barter with the executive branch of the government. Like wise the incumbent government is often blamed for trucking with religious extremists for political gains. For their credibility, both need to come clean on these public perceptions. As the post mortem of Faizabad fiasco is in progress, all the guilty have dug-in their heels to justify their follies, stupidities, acts of omission and commission as well as comics. They are hoping that soon there would be a divine intervention in the form of yet another bigger catastrophe, turning the national focus away from this one. A candid estimate has it that the incident could cost the ruling party around 20-30 national assembly seats in the upcoming elections alongside erosion of mandate in all provinces. Those with higher stakes like the ruling party are trying to wriggle out of it by rolling of a couple of dispensable heads. The planning and execution of the controversial law ran much broader and deeper than the single ministry’s purview. Then allowing the matter to hang-on to ferment a crisis was indeed a national crime for which responsibility must be fixed and punishment meted out. However, one wonders whether our fragile system would have the strength to undertake this enterprise; or, as per track record, push the matter under the carpet.

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Drivers of instability in South Asia

Drivers of instability in South Asia

South Asia is an instable region; two major drivers of this situation are hegemonic designs of Indian leadership, and continued occupation of Afghanistan by the United States. Other contributory factors are inter-state territorial and resource distribution claims amongst the constituent states. With simultaneous rise of ultra-right nationalist leadership in the US and India, both leaderships have found a common ground in operationalizing Machiavellian tactics by perpetuating instability in select hotspots. This convergence of interest is resulting in prolonging the hardship of Kashmiri and Afghan people. Impeding development projects of Pakistan is another facet of Indian strategy, while the US is ganging up South China sea and East China sea littorals to bog down China in its own proximity. Then, there is second ring having heavy weights like japan, India and Australia to blunt Chinese growth. Pakistan is paying a high price for instability in Afghanistan. Presence of terrorist safe havens in Afghanistan is an established reality. Latest report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) confirms that more than 43 percent of Afghan territory is not under the control of the Afghan Government. This is alarming as it provides opportunity for all kinds of terrorist groups to use these as sanctuaries. Pakistan wishes to have friendly relations with all its neighbors. Pakistan, as a responsible member of the international community believes in peace and strategic stability—in South Asia and beyond.

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Booted out from Doklam, India meddles in Gilgit-Baltistan

Districts of Gilgit Baltistan

After a humiliating set back in Doklam to disrupt One Belt One Road (OBOR), India has shifted its focus on impeding China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by fermenting unrest in Gilgit-Baltistan(GB). Importance of GB territory shot up in 1984 with the opening of the Karakoram Highway and this region's population came to be more connected with mainland Pakistan. With the improvement in connectivity, local population availed opportunities of getting educated in the rest of Pakistan. Improved connectivity also allowed broader socio-political development. Political parties of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir were able to setup local branches, and raise political awareness in the region. Root-taking by these political entities have played a laudable role in organizing a movement for democratic rights among the residents of GB.Rather than making efforts to have political engagement in Kashmir and truly follow the oft repeated assertion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to emulate Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s doctrine based on “Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat”, all those forces who are promoted and patronized by New Delhi are adding fuel to the fire. Pakistan has set an example by following a principled approach towards managing its GB region politically, India could learn a lot from this model.

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Receding American leverage over Pakistan

Pakistan Focus

While the American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in session with Pakistani civil and military leadership, Senate was castigating his remarks in Kabul. Tillerson’s recent statement in which he had warned Pakistan to move against the Taliban and other groups inside the country “or face consequences”, did not go down well with the Senate. Chairman Raza Rabbani aptly remarked that the tone and tenor of Tillerson was not acceptable to Parliament of Pakistan. “He is acting like a viceroy.” A day earlier, while speaking at a press conference in Kabul, on October 23, Tillerson had said that during his visit to Islamabad he would reinforce Trump administration’s demand to move against the Taliban and other extremists based inside its borders or face the consequences. While American actions are eroding ts leverage over Pakistan, America continues to pose as if it is enhancing. This dichotomy is breeding confusions at policy and functional level. How do we interpret such confusing statements of American leadership? For this we may refer to Iranian supreme leader’s October 19 remarks: “[Trump] pretends to be an idiot, but we should not let our guard down”.

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Mad Dog confesses of Indo-US nexus against OBOR-CPEC

Mad Dog confesses of Indo-US nexus against OBOR-CPEC

India is a mediocre polity, with half of its population underfed, some of its social security indicators like infant mortality and school dropout rates are comparable with some of underdeveloped African countries. Indian has been able to keep a steady growth rate for over a decade and a half, or so. Strategically America has coopted it as a cheaper deterrence against China, in which it failed its first field test in Doklam. Cumulatively, paltry economic growth and American support to India for playing a regional gangster’s role has created a misplaced delusion in Indian strategic thinking of having become a global power. Behaving like a superpower has gone into its head and cost it a lot economically; for such role throwing money here and there to sustain a big power image is not sustainable by Indian economy. China was able to outsmart India in accruing rights for Hanbantota port. India pledged $ 20 billion investment for Iran’s Chabahar port, but has not been able to touch $ 20 million mark. China phobia is overtaking rational Indian calculus. And with Modi in the driving seat, India is more likely to be lesser inclined towards rational decision making. India is not likely to acquire the capability, any time soon, to take on China in an interstate war. However, with tools readily available to India for fighting China through proxies, in a third county–Pakistan, Balochistan could become the future arena for Indo-China proxy war, even though to the Chinese abhorrence. Pakistan needs to look into such an evolving scenario and take appropriate measure to nub the evil in the bud.

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UN’s obligation towards Kashmir

Legal position of Pakistan with regard to Kashmir is quite secure since the UNSC Resolution 47 of 1948 and over a dozen subsequent resolutions supporting this foundational resolution, latest of which came on June 06, 1998 (UNSC R 1172) in the aftermath of overt nuclearization by India and Pakistan that “Urges India and Pakistan to resume the dialogue between them on all outstanding issues, particularly on all matters pertaining to peace and security, in order to remove the tensions between them, and encourages them to find mutually acceptable solutions that address the root causes of those tensions, including Kashmir”. People of Kashmir look up to Great Britain’s partition plan of 1946 as reference document. Plan had meticulously laid down the criterion for princely states. Any effort to advocate any alternative approach has always been met with fierce resistance and hence remained still born; be it Musharraf’s Four Points’ nonsense or anything else. Knowing the absurdity of the initiative, the entire back door process during Musharraf was kept shrouded in mystery. UNSC R 47 continues to be a legally valid and binding instrument unless replaced by an alternative UN instrument under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

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India’s Kulbhushan Jadhav quandary!

Kulbhushan Jadhav

India has a track record that when in hot waters it eagerly turns to the UN and its affiliated institutions for adjudication. And whenever decision is against Indian grandstanding on the issue, it flouts such decisions with impunity. India is flouting over a dozen UNSC resolutions on Kashmir, and is struggling to erode the letter and spirit of Indus Water Treaty brokered by the World Bank. Now India is poised to follow the same trajectory in case of it's spy Indian Navy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav.

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