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

26 April 2018

Taliban announce the start of their annual spring offensive, dismiss peace overtures

Taliban announce spring offensive, dismiss peace overtures 
Reuters, April 24, 2018

KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban announced the start of their annual spring offensive on Wednesday, dismissing an offer for peace talks by President Ashraf Ghani but pledging to focus on U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
The announcement of the Al Khandaq campaign, named after the so-called Battle of the Trench, fought by the Prophet Mohammad to defend the city of Medina in the early days of Islam, marks the symbolic start of the fighting season.
But heavy fighting has been going on in different parts of the country and hundreds of people have been killed and wounded in a series of high profile attacks in Kabul since the beginning of the year, despite Ghani’s offer in February for peace talks “without preconditions”.

The Taliban, in their statement on Wednesday, dismissed the peace overtures as a “conspiracy”.
“Their main effort is to deviate public opinion from the illegitimate foreign occupation of the country, as the Americans have no serious or sincere intentions of bringing the war to an end,” the Taliban said.
The militants, fighting to restore their version of strict Islamic law to Afghanistan, said the campaign was a response to a more aggressive U.S. military strategy adopted last year, which aims to force the militants into peace talks.
“Its primary target will be the American invaders and their intelligence agents. Their internal supporters will be dealt with as a secondary target,” the Taliban said.

25 April 2018

Q&A: How strong is the Islamic State group in Afghanistan

An upstart Islamic State affiliate that first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 is becoming increasingly deadly and their attacks on the country’s minority Shiites have grown bolder. In Sunday’s devastating bombing, a suicide bomber walked up to a crowd outside a voter registration office and blew himself up killing 57 people. Most of the dead were ethnic Hazaras, who are Shiites Muslims. Another 119 people were wounded, many of them seriously. It was the latest in a series of attacks by IS against the country’s minority Shiites. Following last year’s attack on the Iraq Embassy in Kabul, the extremist group issued a warning to Shiites that they were coming for them. Since then, they have carried out a number of horrific assaults targeting their places of worship in Kabul and Herat in western Afghanistan.

Manzoor Pashteen: The young tribesman rattling Pakistan's army

By M Ilyas Khan

Tens of thousands of Pashtuns are demanding an end to extrajudicial killings and abductions they blame on the Pakistani state - and a charismatic young man has become their spokesman. A compelling, bearded tribesman in his early 30s, Manzoor Pashteen is the unlikely figurehead for protests that have now mushroomed into a wider movement that threatens to upset a precarious balance ahead of general elections. He represents people who say they were brutalised during decades of war in the border areas Pakistan shares with Afghanistan. NGOs say thousands of people have been reported missing in regions such as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Balochistan.

23 April 2018

In Helmand, Taliban dominates security situation

BY BILL ROGGIO 

Since US forces withdrew of the bulk of its “surge” forces in 2014 and turned over security to Afghanistan’s military and police, the security situation has rapidly deteriorated in Helmand province, according to information compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal. That data is confirmed by Resolute Support (RS), which provided the district level assessments to the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

Uzbekistan’s Pivotal Role in Central Asia


Uzbekistan is perhaps the most overlooked country in the most overlooked region of the world.

Uzbekistan plays a pivotal role in regional affairs, and it is able to do so because of its geography – and its geographic position. It is the only Central Asian state that borders every other. Like Kazakhstan, it is rich with oil and natural gas, the revenue from which has enabled it to have at least the semblance of self-determination. It is the second-largest Central Asian state by area and the largest by population. In fact, roughly half the population of the entire region lives within its borders, their livelihoods aided in large measure by the fact that Uzbekistan boasts more land in the Fergana Valley – the most hospitable place for human life in the region, with its comparatively fertile soil and mild climate – than any other country.

Will Malaysia Buy Pakistan’s JF-17 Fighter Jet?

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Pakistan and Malaysia are purportedly engaged in preliminary talks over the possible procurement of an unknown number of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex/Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (PAC/CAC) JF-17 “Thunder” multirole fighter jets, a PAC official told IHS Jane’s at the Defense Services Asia (DSA) 2018 exhibition in Kuala Lumpur on April 16. “We are aware of the potential requirements in Malaysia for cost-effective fighter aircraft,” the PAC official said. “There have been no serious talks but through government-to-government channels there have been what we can describe as primary level talks about the JF-17 program.”

22 April 2018

The Latest on the Forgotten War in Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Changing Attitudes And Alliances

Peace talks with the Taliban are still on the agenda, as are similar negotiations with the Haqqani Network. There have always been peace talks going on between the government and some Taliban factions and over the last decade, the Taliban has lost the support of many Pushtun tribes because of this. But now factions within the Taliban senior leadership are considering a peace deal. Even Haqqani Network factions are interested. The reason for this growing interest in peace deals is the realization that the Taliban did not, as leaders had assured everyone, roll to victory after the foreign troops left in 2014. That was four years ago and the Afghan government and most Afghans put up a lot more resistance than the Taliban expected. Another problem was the drug gangs, who continue to thrive but produce a product that is hated by most Afghans and regularly denounced by tribal leaders and Moslem clergy for the way the drugs turn so many young Afghans in addicts and a disgrace to their families. Can’t blame this one on the Americans. It is also obvious who is getting rich from the drug trade. Afghans making a lot of money in the drug trade are not shy about showing it off.

20 April 2018

Pakistan shuns US for Chinese high-tech weapons


Pakistan shuns US for Chinese high-tech weapons In sign of shifting balance of power, Islamabad buying advanced military equipment from Beijing Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save Save to myFT Kiran Stacey in Islamabad 13 HOURS AGO Print this page92 In the last few months of the Obama administration, the US state department made an announcement which caused a new breach in Washington’s tumultuous relationship with Pakistan. John Kirby, then the department’s spokesman, said Congress had decided to approve the sale of eight fighter aircraft to Pakistan. 

Pakistan’s Growing Dependency on China


By Shirin Naseer

For several years now, Chinese financial assistance has been an important source of support for Pakistan’s economy. China was Pakistan’s largest lender in the year 2017. Since then, Chinese support has only further intensified; according to reports, China recently offered commercial loans worth $1 billion to Pakistan. There are additional reports suggesting China and Pakistan are presently deliberating signing another deal of perhaps about the same estimated value. While these events may allow room for some optimism regarding the future of Pakistan’s economy, with the country’s recent inclusion in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s grey-list (to take effect in June), there is perhaps a need to exercise some caution in increasing dependency on China.

Pakistan’s Western Frontiers Restive: The Pakhtun Awakening

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Pakistan’s Western Frontiers comprising Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunwa Province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), have been restive for decades but recent Pakhtuns widespread protests in Islamabad and in rest of Pakistan has been described by Pakistani columnists as “The Awakening” and the “Pakhtuns Spring”. That this new phenomenon emerging on Pakistan’s domestic politics milieu is worrisome can be judged from a virtual blackout imposed on Pakistani media, obviously on orders of the Establishment. Easily dismissed as a limited occurrence but surely, it cannot be wished away when it is kept in mind that this discontent is seething for decades.

Mainstreaming Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas

Source Link

Pakistan’s government has recently approved mainstreaming of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in an effort to bring the FATA region within the legal and governance structures of the rest of Pakistan and place it on a footing of parity. The mainstreaming should aid the FATA people economically and reduce militancy in the region, which would contribute greatly to Pakistan’s peace and security. Despite government approval and repeated assurances by the country’s top leadership that changes in the FATA governance system is a must and the status quo must end, the process has been stalled, as there are differences in opinion on the future status of FATA. Still, many tribesmen are hopeful the government will go ahead with the approved plan of mainstreaming FATA and their agony will end. 

19 April 2018

America’s Pakistan Problem


Brahma Chellaney

Debt-ridden Pakistan is very vulnerable to Western sanctions, yet it is unclear whether US President Donald Trump’s administration is willing to squeeze it financially in a way that could help reform its behaviour. Washington also seems reluctant to strip Pakistan of its status as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) or target its military for rearing transnational terrorists. The main driver of Pakistan’s nexus with terrorists is its powerful military, whose generals hold decisive power and dictate terms to a largely impotent government. With the military’s rogue Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) rearing terrorists, Pakistan has long played a double game, pretending to be America’s ally while aiding its most deadly foes that have killed or maimed thousands of US soldiers in Afghanistan. Pakistani forces only target terrorists that fall out of line or threaten Pakistan itself.

18 April 2018

Sale of Chinese Advanced Tracking System to Pakistan: Impact and Implications

Lt Gen (Dr) V K Saxena (Retd), PVSM,AVSM,VSM

According to a statement by Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) reported in the South China Morning Post (SCPM) on 22 March 18, China has provided Pakistan a highly advanced Optical Tracking and Measurement System which will be a boon to its missile programmei. This article attempts to examine, the impact and implication of the above sale with reference to India.

Factual Details

Broad System constituents

Pakistan's Jihadi corps and its Commander

By Vikram Sood 

New Delhi [India], April 7 (ANI): For the Pakistani establishment, Hafiz Muhammed Saeed is no mere mortal. He is their Most Favoured Jihadi. The association between Hafiz Saeed and the Pakistani establishment is now over 30 years old and the bond has only grown stronger. Besides, Saeed is an amenable and loyal jihadi. Unlike the other India-specific jihadi Masood Azhar of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, whose jihadis tried to assassinate General Musharraf, Hafiz Saeed's Lashkar-e-Tayyaba are not just Caliphate's soldiers, they are also Rawalpindi's main jihadi strike corps for the Kashmir theatre. He is no pawn; he is more like the versatile Queen on the chessboard, he can be moved in any direction any time as many times as necessary.

17 April 2018

Malala is building more schools in Pakistan. That’s not likely to reduce support for extremism.

Madiha Afzal

Since the Taliban targeted Malala Yousafzai for her advocacy for girls’ education, she has become known globally for promoting girls’ schooling. But will increasing access to education actually decrease support for the kind of extremism that led to the TTP’s attack on Malala? The answer is far from clear, writes Madiha Afzal. This piece originally appeared in the Washington PostLast weekend, Malala Yousafzai visited Pakistan for the first time since she was shot by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) more than five years ago. That she was able to visit—albeit amid exceptionally tight security—is a testament to how much safety has improved in Pakistan. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, 748 civilians and security personnel died in terrorism-related incidents in Pakistan in 2017, a drop from 3,739 such deaths in 2012.

Afghan-Pakistani Cross-Border Terrorism Cuts Both Ways

By Franz J. Marty

KABUL — Reports about Afghan Taliban safe havens on Pakistani soil are abundant and such refuges are seen as crucial for the militants’ ability to sustain their insurgency inside Afghanistan. What is often overlooked is that some extremist groups, like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), do the same, but in reverse – seeking shelter on the Afghan side of the border (which Kabul does not officially recognize) to launch assaults on the Pakistani side. While Pakistani officials have been making such accusations for years, they – unlike the allegations from Afghan and U.S. officials regarding Afghan insurgents hiding out on Pakistani soil – never really gained much traction or attention.

16 April 2018

Commentary: What U.S. generals get wrong about Afghanistan

Patricia Gossman

U.S. Army General John Nicholson is repeating the dangerous mistakes of the past. In a recent interview he echoed the mantra of his predecessors, that the new U.S. military strategy — which includes increasing both air power and the number of American troops training Afghan forces — has fundamentally changed the situation in Afghanistan. Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and head of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission since March 2016, should know better by now. A U.S. Army crew chief flying on board a CH-47F Chinook helicopter observes the successful test of flares during a training flight in Afghanistan, March 14, 2018. U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook/Handout via REUTERS.

How Pakistan’s ‘Deep State’ Wants To Cut Nawaz Sharif Down To Size – Analysis

By Sushant Sareen

Despite being badly wounded and pushed into a corner, the tiger (election symbol of Nawaz Sharif’s party and his own image among his followers) hasn’t stopped roaring. But while the tiger remains a formidable adversary and isn’t showing any signs of throwing in the towel in the face of overwhelming odds, he is undeniably in trouble. Given the forces arraigned against him – the military, judiciary, most of the media or at least the section that tows the line of the ‘deep state’, and of course opposition parties, most of which have either struck deals, or are working under instructions, or even trying to desperately suck up and win the affections of the ‘deep state’ – the prospects for Nawaz Sharif’s party in the forthcoming General Elections don’t look very bright. Not only history but also current political realities are heavily loaded against Nawaz Sharif and his party.

14 April 2018

Pakistan’s Nuclear Bomb by Hassan Abbas – An Excerpt


In this inside view of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, Hassan Abbas profiles the politicians and scientists involved in the development of the country’s nuclear bomb, and the role of China and Saudi Arabia in supporting its nuclear infrastructure. Drawing on extensive interviews, the book also examines Pakistani nuclear physicist A.Q. Khan’s involvement in nuclear proliferation in Iran, Libya and North Korea. 

Taliban overruns Afghan district, kills governor

BY BILL ROGGIO | April 12, 2018 |

The Taliban overran the district of Khwaja Omari and killed at least eight people, including the district governor, earlier today. Seven policemen were also killed in the attack. Khwaja Omari was considered to have been one of the more secure districts in Ghazni province.

The attack and death of Ali Shams Dost, the district governor, and seven policemen was confirmed by the Ghazni provincial police, according to TOLONews. Nine other policemen were wounded during the fighting.
A statement released by the provincial police force said the Taliban launched the raid at 2:00 AM local time. The Taliban routinely launches strikes on district centers and military bases at night. Videos documenting the attacks often show Taliban fighters using night vision devices.
The Taliban torched the governor’s compound before withdrawing its forces. The police claimed that 27 Taliban fighters were killed in retaliatory airstrikes.
The district of Khwaja Omari was previously considered to be one of the more secure areas in Ghazni, which is a hotbed for the Taliban and other foreign jihadist groups such as al Qaeda. Resolute Support listed Khwaja Omari as “Government Influenced,” according to a report issued by the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. A government influenced district means that the government holds sway and the Taliban presence is minimal.