Showing posts with label AfPak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AfPak. Show all posts

23 March 2017

India Deserves the New Administration's Support, Not Silence

Rachel Zissimos

If America doesn’t maintain aid to India, China is ready to step in.

Last June, President Obama designated India a “major defense partner,” committing the United States to increased cooperation in defense trade and technological development. As part of this commitment, he granted India “license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies.”

The following month, India issued a letter of request regarding the price and availability of the Guardian—the unarmed variant of the MQ-9 aerial drone. Seven months later, that prospective sale remains in limbo.

Designed to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in a maritime environment, the Guardian would greatly enhance India’s efforts to monitor its coasts, conduct search-and-rescue operations, and secure its island territories and naval assets in the Indian Ocean.

China’s expansive territorial claims and island building in the South China Sea are well known, but China has also expanded its area of operations by establishing a navy base in the East African nation of Djibouti. From there, China can gain easy access to the Indian Ocean. The sale of the Guardian would not only benefit India, but could assist the United States in monitoring areas of shared interest and concern.

Terrorism and Violence in Pakistan: Understanding their Mind


During last month, there were a series of terror attacks in Punjab, Khyber Paktunkhwa and Sindh, claiming more than 100 lives.

Print and Social media were full of opinions on what the problems are in Pakistan and how could they be addressed. This commentary focuses on how the Pakistanis perceive terrorism, violence and the fallouts. What do they consider as the major cause and what do they see as a possible solution?

Afghanistan and Pakistan border problems: A major cause

Most in Pakistan consider failure to address the Afghanistan issue as a primary problem for violence and terror inside Pakistan.

A section consider that Afghan policies of Pakistan and supporting militants in the past as a reason for the recent attacks. A section also question the efficacy of the National Action Plan A commentator wrote: “For decades- dating back to the Mujahideen – our (Pakistan) chief export to Afghanistan has been militancy. The Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, whether by neglect or more likely design, were low on our list of priorities. Yet we managed to summon up outrage over the leadership of TTP finding safe refuge in Afghanistan. As ye sow, so shall ye reap?”

Peace Education in Pakistan


This report measures the relative success of nine peace education initiatives in Pakistan. More specifically, the text grapples with six questions. 1) What types of interventions were most effective and in what contexts? 2) Were the implemented programs contextually relevant? 3) How was the quality of each initiative ensured? 4) What kinds of content and teaching formats worked best and where? 5) What differences and similarities exist between peace education programs and the curricula implemented in mainstream schools and madrassas? And 6) what lessons can those working in the peacebuilding field draw from the case studies selected here?

22 March 2017

What went wrong in Pakistan


Pakistan was meant to be a model, an example for other nations to emulate. It was founded after World War II, as the sun was setting on the British Empire and India was preparing for independence. India’s Muslims, though glad to see the end of the Raj, were apprehensive about becoming a minority in a Hindu-majority land.

They envisioned instead what might be called a “two-state solution”: the establishment of a homeland for the subcontinent’s Muslims in areas where Muslims were in the majority. Their new nation was to be free, pluralist and tolerant. “We are starting with this fundamental principle,” Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader) declared in 1947, “that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.”

What went wrong? In an excellent new book, “Purifying the Land of the Pure,” Farahnaz Ispahani both recounts and laments Pakistan’s “descent” into what it has become today: unfree, undemocratic, intolerant and both a sponsor and victim of terrorism.


A Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, Ms. Ispahani spent years as a journalist and high-ranking Pakistani official. She clearly loves the land of her birth. It’s doubtful that she’ll ever be able to safely return.

21 March 2017

Terrorism and Violence in Pakistan: Understanding their Mind


During last month, there were a series of terror attacks in Punjab, Khyber Paktunkhwa and Sindh, claiming more than 100 lives.

Print and Social media were full of opinions on what the problems are in Pakistan and how could they be addressed. This commentary focuses on how the Pakistanis perceive terrorism, violence and the fallouts. What do they consider as the major cause and what do they see as a possible solution?

Afghanistan and Pakistan border problems: A major cause

Most in Pakistan consider failure to address the Afghanistan issue as a primary problem for violence and terror inside Pakistan.

A section consider that Afghan policies of Pakistan and supporting militants in the past as a reason for the recent attacks. A section also question the efficacy of the National Action Plan A commentator wrote: “For decades- dating back to the Mujahideen – our (Pakistan) chief export to Afghanistan has been militancy. The Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, whether by neglect or more likely design, were low on our list of priorities. Yet we managed to summon up outrage over the leadership of TTP finding safe refuge in Afghanistan. As ye sow, so shall ye reap?”

20 March 2017

The Graveyard of Empires and Big Data

BY SHARON WEINBERGER

The only tiki bar in eastern Afghanistan had an unusual payment program. A sign inside read simply, “If you supply data, you will get beer.” The idea was that anyone — or any foreigner, because Afghans were not allowed — could upload data on a one-terabyte hard drive kept at the bar, located in the Taj Mahal Guest House in Jalalabad. In exchange, they would get free beer courtesy of the Synergy Strike Force, the informal name of the American civilians who ran the establishment.

Patrons could contribute any sort of data — maps, PowerPoint slides, videos, or photographs. They could also copy data from the drive. The “Beer for Data” program, as the exchange was called, was about merging data from humanitarian workers, private security contractors, the military, and anyone else willing to contribute. The Synergy Strike Force was not a military unit, a government division, or even a private company; it was the self-chosen name of the odd assortment of Westerners who worked — or in some cases volunteered — on the development projects run out of the guest house.

The Synergy Strike Force’s Beer for Data exchange was a pure embodiment of the techno-utopian dream of free information and citizen empowerment that had emerged in recent years from the hacker community. Only no one would have guessed that this utopia was being created in the chaos of Afghanistan, let alone in Jalalabad, a city that had once been home to Osama bin Laden. Or even more unlikely, that the Synergy Strike Force would soon attract the attention of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The Never-Ending War in Afghanistan

Source Link
By ANDREW J. BACEVICH

BOSTON — Remember Afghanistan? The longest war in American history? Ever?

When it comes to wars, we Americans have a selective memory. The Afghan war, dating from October 2001, has earned the distinction of having been forgotten while still underway.

President Trump’s Inaugural Address included no mention of Afghanistan. Nor did his remarks last month at a joint session of Congress. For the new commander in chief, the war there qualifies at best as an afterthought — assuming, that is, he has thought about it all.

A similar attitude prevails on Capitol Hill. Congressional oversight has become pro forma. Last week Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of Central Command, told Congress that the Pentagon would probably need more troops in Afghanistan, a statement that seemed to catch politicians and reporters by surprise — but that was old news to anyone who’s been paying attention to the conflict.

And that’s the problem. It doesn’t seem that anyone is. At the Senate hearings on the nomination of James Mattis as defense secretary, Afghanistan barely came up.

Pakistan: Stoking the Fire in Karachi


Facts are facts – ethnic, political and sectarian rivalries; jihadist groups; criminality and heavy-handed security policies are turning Pakistan's biggest city into a pressure cooker that's about to explode. According to this report, feuding politicians will have to set their conflicts aside or Karachi's law-and-order crisis may indeed reach the bursting point.

19 March 2017

Peace Education in Pakistan


This report measures the relative success of nine peace education initiatives in Pakistan. More specifically, the text grapples with six questions. 1) What types of interventions were most effective and in what contexts? 2) Were the implemented programs contextually relevant? 3) How was the quality of each initiative ensured? 4) What kinds of content and teaching formats worked best and where? 5) What differences and similarities exist between peace education programs and the curricula implemented in mainstream schools and madrassas? And 6) what lessons can those working in the peacebuilding field draw from the case studies selected here?

18 March 2017

Should the US Support China's Security Role in Afghanistan?

By Wang Mouzhou

Cooperation in Afghanistan could stabilize the region and potentially lead to broader joint counterterrorism efforts. 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) may wish to review its 15-year mission in Afghanistan. The country is not the top-priority counterterrorism theater for NATO and, due to its distance from Western markets, provides negligible economic benefits for the alliance.

In order to preserve hard-won humanitarian gains, however, NATO should explore potential partnership and cooperation with Chinese forces in Afghanistan. While any cooperation should proceed on the basis of a clear-eyed assessment of potential costs, risks, and benefits, China could prove to be a relatively benign actor in Afghanistan. Moreover, Sino-U.S. cooperation in Afghanistan could potentially lead to broader counterterrorism cooperation, providing ballast to the broader – and critically important – U.S.-China relationship.

China could become the primary security guarantor in Afghanistan for a simple reason: it is the least distrusted country in the region. India, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia are all distrusted by the Afghans, distrusted by each other, lack sufficient resources to provide security, or all of the above. While China is not uncritically admired by all the countries in the region – India, notably, is wary of China’s alignment with Pakistan, its forays into Southeast Asia, and its maritime claims in the South China Sea – it does enjoy highly workable relationships with all the players in Afghanistan.

17 March 2017

** Backsliding on Pakistan


Brahma Chellaney

Last year was an unusual year: Never before had so many Indian security bases come under attack by Pakistan-based terrorists in a single year. For example, the terrorist strike on the Pathankot air base was New Year’s gift to India, while the strike on the Indian Army’s Uri base represented a birthday gift for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Furthermore, the number of Indian security personnel killed in gunbattles with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir in 2016 was the highest in years.

In this light, it is remarkable that Modi is seeking to return to business as usual with Pakistan, now that the state elections are over in India and Pakistan-related issues have been sufficiently milked by him for political ends. Modi’s U-turn on the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) issue could mark the beginning of India’s backsliding.

After the Uri attack in September, his government, with fanfare, suspended the PIC. Now, quietly, that suspension has been lifted, and a PIC meeting will soon be held in Lahore. In reality, the suspension was just a sham because the PIC missed no meeting as a result. Its annual meeting in the current financial year is being held before the March 31 deadline.

Kashmir's Reckoning With the Implications of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

By Saba Muzaffer Nazki

While India has continuously opposed the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), saying that it passes through its territory in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the ambitious project was discussed for the first time by experts in the region itself. A panel considered the effects of the corridor on China-Pakistan-India relations on Saturday in the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, saying that the CPEC will have a definite impact on Kashmir and that the region needs to integrate itself into the South Asian and Central Asian paradigm to reap the project’s dividends.

The economic, political, and geostrategic aspects of the CPEC were discussed during a seminar titled, “Impact of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor on Kashmir,” which was organized by The Kashmir Institute – a think-tank focusing on all parts of Kashmir, including its interests vis-a-vis the governments of India, China, and Pakistan. The CPEC is an ambitious economic project between Pakistan and China that includes motorways, dams, hydropower projects, railways and pipelines. It connects Pakistan’s deep-sea Gwadar Port with the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China. The project is part of China’s larger initiative, the One Belt, One Road, which is aimed at helping regional economic integration along.

Taliban’s strange new foreign friends


Brahma Chellaney

India has an important stake in the future of Afghanistan, its natural ally and close friend for long. India, under successive governments, has been a major aid donor to Afghanistan. As the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, recently told his country’s Senate Armed Services Committee, “With over $2 billion development aid executed since 2002, and another $1 billion pledged in 2016, India’s significant investments in Afghan infrastructure, engineering, training, and humanitarian issues will help develop Afghan human capital and long-term stability.” Recent developments, however, do not augur well for Indian or Afghan interests.

Despite being ravaged by successive wars for the past 36 years, Afghanistan remains a playground for the foreign powers that have fomented or engaged in hostilities there. The latest developments suggest that the Afghanistan-related geopolitics is only getting murkier. In the process, the Taliban is acquiring strange new friends.

Russia and Iran, the traditional patrons of the Northern Alliance, are now openly mollycoddling the Taliban and giving it political succour. In this effort, they have the cooperation of China and Pakistan, thus creating a regional axis. This development represents a shot in the arm for the Taliban’s fight against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan and the government in Kabul.

15 March 2017

What Does India Think of Trump’s Afghanistan Policy?

ARUSHI KUMAR 

Summary: Donald Trump’s presidency presents an unexpected opportunity for India in its continued efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.

Donald Trump’s presidency presents an unexpected opportunity for India in its continued efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. As Western forces reduce their presence on Afghan soil and the formidable Haqqani-Taliban combination consolidates control over increasingly larger areas, the Afghan government’s position continues to diminish. The Trump administration brings with it the opportunity to make a concrete shift in policy to deal with the challenges that threaten to undo the progress made in Afghanistan over the last decade and a half. Given President Donald Trump, Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis, and National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s statements on Afghanistan, the incoming administration may push for increased troop levels in Afghanistan and confront Pakistan over its role as the major destabilizing force in South Asia.

An increase in the number of troops and a clear stance on Pakistan would find widespread support in India. Since 2002, India has offered over $2 billion to Afghanistan and views the stability provided by a foreign military presence as indispensable to the developmental projects New Delhi remains committed to pursuing in the country.

14 March 2017

Afghanistan Is Now Trump’s War


Before the White House responds to the Pentagon’s latest request for a troop surge in Afghanistan to counter insurgent forces that now control substantial parts of the country, it would serve administration officials well to examine the long history of deluded thinking about what could be accomplished if the United States committed more troops to the effort.

Back in 2007, Gen. Dan McNeill, the top commander in Afghanistan, pleaded for reinforcements to the force of 26,000 troops he led, arguing it was “vitally important that the success Afghanistan has achieved not be allowed to slip away through neglect or lack of political will.” His successor, Gen. David McKiernan, echoed that call the following year, asserting: “We are not losing, but we are winning slower in some places than others.”

In 2009, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new commander, painted a more dire picture, saying that failure to send reinforcements could lead to an “outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.” That warning led the Obama administration to increase the American troop presence in Afghanistan to 100,000 from less than 30,000, and embrace a nation-building and counterinsurgency strategy that was meant to turn the war around in a few years.

The War in Afghanistan Cannot Be ‘Won’ With Yet Another Pentagon-Inspired Surge


Before the White House responds to the Pentagon’s latest request for a troop surge in Afghanistan to counter insurgent forces that now control substantial parts of the country, it would serve administration officials well to examine the long history of deluded thinking about what could be accomplished if the United States committed more troops to the effort.

Back in 2007, Gen. Dan McNeill, the top commander in Afghanistan, pleaded for reinforcements to the force of 26,000 troops he led, arguing it was “vitally important that the success Afghanistan has achieved not be allowed to slip away through neglect or lack of political will.” His successor, Gen. David McKiernan, echoed that call the following year, asserting: “We are not losing, but we are winning slower in some places than others.”

In 2009, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new commander, painted a more dire picture, saying that failure to send reinforcements could lead to an “outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.” That warning led the Obama administration to increase the American troop presence in Afghanistan to 100,000 from less than 30,000, and embrace a nation-building and counterinsurgency strategy that was meant to turn the war around in a few years.

Those efforts failed or fell well short of their aims. Afghanistan remains in the grip of a resolute insurgency and a kleptocratic, dysfunctional governing elite. The Afghan state has been rapidly losing control of districts across the country to Taliban factions and Afghan forces are getting killed and injured at a rate American commanders call unsustainable.

Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the 'Good Taliban'

By Syed Arfeen

Pakistan believes Afghanistan is harboring terrorists that conduct cross-border attacks; Kabul says the same.

On March 7 and 8, Islamabad reopened its western border with Afghanistan at the Torkham and Chaman crossings. Prior to that, the border had been closed for 18 days, Pakistan’s response to terrorist attacks believed to have been planned in Afghanistan. The decision to provide a two day window was made to allow nationals of both countries who have valid visas to return home. But no trade or American and NATO forces cargo was allowed to pass.

On March 9, the border closed again, part of Pakistan’s strategy to prevent further terrorist attacks.

Even the brief opening earlier this week came only after pressure from the Afghan government. On March 4, Dr. Omar Zakhilwal, the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, wrote on his social media account: “Today in my conversation with Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, I conveyed to him that if in the next couple of days an opening was not allowed for the return of the stranded visitors I would ask my government to provide chartered flights to lift them.”

11 March 2017

** Backsliding on Pakistan


Brahma Chellaney

Last year was an unusual year: Never before had so many Indian security bases come under attack by Pakistan-based terrorists in a single year. For example, the terrorist strike on the Pathankot air base was New Year’s gift to India, while the strike on the Indian Army’s Uri base represented a birthday gift for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Furthermore, the number of Indian security personnel killed in gunbattles with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir in 2016 was the highest in years.

In this light, it is remarkable that Modi is seeking to return to business as usual with Pakistan, now that the state elections are over in India and Pakistan-related issues have been sufficiently milked by him for political ends. Modi’s U-turn on the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) issue could mark the beginning of India’s backsliding.

After the Uri attack in September, his government, with fanfare, suspended the PIC. Now, quietly, that suspension has been lifted, and a PIC meeting will soon be held in Lahore. In reality, the suspension was just a sham because the PIC missed no meeting as a result. Its annual meeting in the current financial year is being held before the March 31 deadline.

10 March 2017

Afghan drugs via Pakistan corroding Punjab society

Amitava Mukherjee

It is heartening that both the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) , two major contestants in the recently held Punjab assembly poll, have taken note of the drug menace which has been devouring Punjabi society for quite some time and has become the most serious social question that will need to be addressed by the next government. 

The Shiromoni Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combination has also raised its voice against the malady but being the ruling combine it has been subjected to relentless attacks by the opposition parties over the drug menace issue.

The problem is serious and deep rooted and is likely to cast its spell on the election result. Therefore, Arvind Kejriwal’s claim that the “AAP would break the supply chain of drugs within one month” (after coming to power) sounds a bit bombastic. After all, Kejriwal’s own estimate is that there are 40 lakh drug addicts in Punjab and the supply chain catering to such a huge number of clients must be labyrinthine in character. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, basing his calculation on a survey, has also observed that around 70 percent of the Punjabi youth are now addicted to drugs.

9 March 2017

AMBLING BLINDLY BACK INTO THE MOUNTAINS: 5 HARD QUESTIONS FOR THE NEXT PHASE OF AFGHANISTAN

SAMEER LALWANI

Gen. John Nicholson, who commands the American-led international military force in Afghanistan, recently made headlines when he called for “a few thousand” more troops and a deeper American commitment to the fight in Afghanistan in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month.

This echoes the calls from a number of other analysts, as well as from senior government officials. The recently departed national security advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — who once served as the senior intelligence officer for the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan — seemed to support greater commitment to the region. As they say, personnel is policy: Flynn appointed senior National Security Council staffers who called for engagement in Afghanistan to potentially continue another five to ten years. There’s good reason to think these beliefs might be shared by incoming national security advisor, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, given his substantial investment in Afghanistan.

Questions will obviously be raised about allied contributions and the domestic political appetite for intensifying America’s longest war, but a more fundamental question deserves serious scrutiny: Could a renewed U.S. commitment of additional troops help turn a corner in Afghanistan?