Sunday, January 10, 2016

Pathankot Attack; India-Pakistan Ties; Iran-Saudi Conflict; China Market Crash

Who’s responsible for the terrorist attack on Indian Air Force base in Pathankot? Is it Pakistani state? Or the same non-state actors who have attacked 30+ military installations in Pakistan? How will it impact India-Pakistan dialogue for normalization of ties?

What’s driving Iran-Saudi conflict? Is the conflict religious, sectarian or political in nature? Is it driven by internal economic and political problems caused by oil price collapse? How should Pakistan deal with Saudi demand to be included in a Saudi-led 34-country alliance which appears to be aimed against Iran?

Why did the Chinese stock market collapse? Why is Chinese economic growth rate slowing? Is it because China has become a developed country with a huge economy? How will it impact Pakistan and the rest of the world in terms of economics and geopolitics?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelists Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://vimeo.com/151278097


Pathankot Attack; India-Pakistan Ties; Iran-Saudi Conflict; China Market Crash from WBT Productions on Vimeo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fO44zId3MMo







http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3ln6eg_pathankot-attack-india-pakistan-ties-iran-saudi-conflict-china-market-crash_news



Pathankot Attack; India-Pakistan Ties; Iran... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Can Saudi Arabia Change Peacefully?

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel

22 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

#US, #UK rubbished #India’s ‘evidence’ against #Pakistan in #Mumbai attacks, says Wikileaks https://shar.es/16yvz0 via @sharethis

Following Pathankot attack, the Indian media and government authorities have been referring to Mumbai attack as Pakistan’s work despite the fact that the Wikileaks had shown both the US and the British authorities trashing Indian so-called evidence against Pakistan.

Publicly both Washington and London have been shy to embarrass India and avoided rejecting her allegation against Pakistan but the Wikileaks showed the two trashing Indian claims about the involvement of either Pakistan’s prime intelligence agency- the ISI- or even senior leaders of a proscribed organisation.

Wikileaks, which contained secret State Department wires, had quoted former US ambassador to Pakistan Anne W Patterson as writing to the State Department that India had presented insufficient evidence against the senior leaders of now proscribed Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Anne W Patterson had mentioned in a wire to the Washington that Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other investigators had insufficient evidence for prosecution against Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Zarar Shah and Mazhar Iqbal Alqama.

Patterson had even said that FIA was forced, as a result of political pressure, to arrest and charge the three LeT leaders and that FIA was still without solid evidence to begin a formal trial.

Some of the wires generated by US embassy in India had also made the India’s case on Mumbai attacks doubtful. Charge Geoff Pyatt was quoted to have written to Washington: “Indian officials remain convinced that Pakistan is behind the July 11th Mumbai attacks, and worry that the US is setting the bar too high for “solid evidence” of Pakistani intelligence involvement.”

The leak had even quoted National Security Advisor MK Narayanan as admitting that there are some pieces of the puzzle still missing. “He (Narayanan) said he is hesitant to say the evidence is “clinching”, but it is pretty good. Narayanan used the opportunity to reinforce the popular perception here that Pakistan is to blame for the attacks, while answering criticism that the foreign secretary’s and Mumbai police’s statements about the investigation were not backed by solid proof…”

The wire, generated from New Delhi, had also shown the Indian politicians reminding the Americans that India had sided with US on the issue of 9/11 despite the absence of concrete evidence.

The wire said: “At dinner with CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence Carmen Medina on October 23rd, former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra raised the issue of the US response to the Mumbai blasts.

‘We backed you when you decided to take action in Afghanistan after September 11,’ he said. ‘Your evidence after 9/11 was no less circumstantial than our evidence after 7/11 in Mumbai.’

He went on to criticise the US “double standard”, arguing that we treat Hizbollah one way, and the Pakistan-based United Jihad Council very differently. The bottom line, Mishra said, is that there is a widespread perception that the US is doing nothing to help India fight terror.”

Another leak, a wire sent from US New Delhi embassy to Washington, reflects on British doubts about Indian’s evidence against Pakistan.

The leak said, “While Indian press continues to pin blame on Pakistan, observers and diplomats in Delhi are asking the same question: was the ISI behind the Mumbai attacks? While there are clear links between the attacks, perpetrators and the extremist group LeT, and likewise, there are links between LeT and the ISI, there is no clear evidence yet to suggest that ISI directed or facilitated the attacks, according to the British High Commission.”

Now yet again after Pathankot attack, Indians have started blaming Pakistan claiming that they have evidence of Pakistan's involvement.

- See more at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/print/89034-US-UK-rubbished-Indias-evidence-against-Pakistan-in-Mumbai-attacks-says-Wikileaks#sthash.FKur9fjA.dpuf

Anonymous said...

Pakistan should certainly not back Saudi alliance as this fight between Iran and Saudi is not Pakistan's making. Also Iran is a neighbouring country and we cannot upset 20% of our population who are Pakistani Shias.

Man of Action said...

Riaz Haq: "Is it because China has a developed country?".
Nope, China has still a long way to go. But has the country gets developed with time and population gets mature in family planning, it's population declined.
Declining population is the major cause of China's slow growth.
Anyway, China still on the way of getting status of developed country in one or decades. They may get the status in term HDI before 2025 and in terms of per capita income around 2030.
Same thing happened with Japan. Their economy were booming till 90s but population declination eroded their growth.
China's HDI growth speed may make it a developed country by 2025. Given India's massive leaps in HDI, it may also achieve this status at same time China does but in terms of per capita income, we Indians will remain behind just with around 50-60% to China's GDP per capita. Slow growth of our population can lead to decline after 2050(India will also be developed by then), may lead to population declination in India and many other emerging countries too.
Slow growth of your country Pakistan must be worrying for you guys. You guys should come up with some economic reforms as well as increase trade with India. It will benefit both countries. Will strengthen Pakistan's position in the region and India's position in world too.

Riaz Haq said...

MoA: " Nope, China has still a long way to go.... Declining population is the major cause of China's slow growth."

I wouldn't call China's 6.5% growth rate "slow growth". It's very healthy for a large developed economy like China's. It's a lot faster than that of any rich developed OECD nation in Asia, Europe or North America which are growing at 1-2% rates. The global economy is forecast to grow at 2.9% this year by the World Bank.

Anonymous said...

"I wouldn't call China's 6.5% growth rate "slow growth".

this is assuming the figures spewed out by china is correct. WSJ and other major western think thank feel it is closer to 3%.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "his is assuming the figures spewed out by china is correct. WSJ and other major western think thank feel it is closer to 3%. "

So why has the IMF given reserve currency status to Chinese Yuan? Is it a reward for cheating?


The fact is that there are far stronger suspicions of India's GDP figures among top economists. Even India's Central Bank chief Rajan has raised questions about Modi's economy numbers.


India's GDP revisions under Modi have surprised most of the nation's economists and raised serious questions about the credibility of government figures released after rebasing the GDP calculations to year 2011-12 from 2004-5. So what is wrong with these figures? Let's try and answer the following questions:

1. How is it possible that the accelerated GDP growth in 2013-14 occurred while the Indian central bankers were significantly jacking up interest rates by several percentage points and cutting money supply in the Indian economy?

2. Why are the revisions at odds with other important indicators such as lower industrial production and trade and tax collection figures? For the previous fiscal year, the government’s index of industrial production showed manufacturing activity slowing by 0.8%. Exports in December shrank 3.8% in dollar terms from a year earlier.

3. How can growth accelerate amid financial constraints depressing investment in India? Indian companies are burdened with debt and banks are reluctant to lend.

4. Why has the total GDP for 2013-14 shrunk by about Rs. 100 billion in spite of upward revision in economic growth rate? Why is India's GDP at $1.8 trillion, well short of the oft-repeated $2 trillion mark?

Questions about the veracity of India's economic data are not new. US GAO study has found that India's official figures on IT exports to the United States have been exaggerated by as much as 20 times.

Similarly, French economist Thomas Piketty has argued in his best seller "Capital in the Twenty-First Century that the GDP growth rates of India and China are exaggerated.


Read the following: http://www.riazhaq.com/2015/04/indias-new-gdp-figures-modi-takes-bs.html


Riaz Haq said...

#India’s confusingly speedy economy and very own deflator problem | FT Alphaville http://on.ft.com/1NF1F9I

INDIA CLOCKS IN AT 7.4 PER CENT REAL GDP GROWTH AND IS NOW THE WORLD’S FASTEST GROWING BRIC ECONOMY!

*cough*

Thing is, and as we’ve written before, there is still a lack of confidence in India’s recently updated economic growth series showing up in our inboxes even as the room for caveats in the media gets increasingly squeezed — the validity of such stats tend to be less relevant when they’re telling a positive story, no?

Anyway, here’s BNP Paribas’ Richard Iley giving the scepticism some welcome space a little while ago: “The turn in the capex cycle is still tentative, a number of key indicators, such as credit growth, still signal relatively sluggish growth momentum and the rebasing of India’s national accounts, which has lifted GDP growth, continues to be taken with at least a pinch of salt.”

And here’s a few more up to date paragraphs from Macquarie, which dropped after the most recent print at the end of November (our emphasis):

Notwithstanding the reported real GDP growth numbers, a common question that we keep getting from investors is whether the Indian economy is actually growing above the 7% mark when essentially it still feels around 6% looking at the onground reality and global situation…

The good …: As we have been highlighting, there are some green shoots emerging, especially on the public capex front and urban consumption. There have been policy efforts over the past few months to revive projects in the roads, railways, mining and power sectors by (a) easing investment bottlenecks, including facilitating environmental and forest clearances, ensuring coal availability, steps toward labour market reforms, etc; (b) a cumulative 125bp cut in policy rates; and (c) encouraging capex spending by cash-rich PSUs. We believe these have helped to provide a bounce in investment activity picking up on a low base. Similarly, the upcoming revision in salaries under the 7th PC (link) effective Jan-16 contained inflationary pressures and subdued global commodity prices that will help support private consumption over the coming months, especially in urban areas.

… and the bad: The corporate earnings downgrade cycle continues, with the street having downgraded Nifty estimates by around 15–17% since the beginning of the year. Bank credit growth remained sluggish at 9.3% YoY for the Sept-15 quarter. Banking sector pressure continues, with nearly 13–15% of the book being stressed. Private corporate capex is yet to bounce back meaningfully, and rural consumption has slowed significantly, led by weak monsoons and curtailment in government spending. A weak global economy, too, is holding back capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector and exports.

But even leaving all of that high frequency, real economy, stuff aside, one glaring problem in this new GDP series appears to lie in the deflator — the inflation measure used to convert estimates of nominal GDP into real, inflation-adjusted terms and which will cue China comparison klaxons. More particularly, it lies in the services deflator.

Here’s SocGen’s India economist Kunal Kumar Kundu:

Even as most analysts have focused on India’s better than expected real economic growth (7.4% yoy for both gross value added, or GVA, and GDP), many have failed to notice the remarkably low growth in nominal terms (5.2% for GVA [Ed - GVA + taxes on products - subsidies on products = GDP] and 6.0% for GDP), as we noted here. The culprit was the deflator, as it indicated a worrying deflationary tendency…

The really interesting/ dodgy thing here is that, as HSBC say, growth in the services deflator, which is infamous for high and sticky prices, was actually running below the industry deflator.

The suspicion is that deflators have been underestimated because the services deflator has been pegged more to the wholesale price index than to the consumer price index. And, er, it’s not a component in the India WPI basket.

Man of Action said...

Riaz Haq: "I would not say 6.5% as slow growth".
Matter isn't that. Problem is that it is declining further. As Economy enlarges, multiplying it becomes difficult. Yet they need still 8-10 years to be a developed country. That for India is 15-20 years despite faster growth than China's given it's still behind in many Human Development Indicators.

Riaz Haq: "So, IMF given reserve currency status to Yuan".
Yuan became reserve currency not for fast growth but for being used so much because of being currency of a major economy. Indian and Brazilian economies will enter the league soon.
Anyway, Yuan had become really influential. Even I would support it.
Riaz Haq:
"1. How is it possible that the accelerated GDP
growth in 2013-14 occurred while the Indian
central bankers were significantly jacking up
interest rates by several percentage points and
cutting money supply in the Indian economy?
2. Why are the revisions at odds with other
important indicators such as lower industrial
production and trade and tax collection figures?
For the previous fiscal year, the government’s
index of industrial production showed
manufacturing activity slowing by 0.8%. Exports
in December shrank 3.8% in dollar terms from a
year earlier.
3. How can growth accelerate amid financial
constraints depressing investment in India?
Indian companies are burdened with debt and
banks are reluctant to lend.
4. Why has the total GDP for 2013-14 shrunk by
about Rs. 100 billion in spite of upward revision
in economic growth rate? Why is India's GDP at
$1.8 trillion, well short of the oft-repeated $2
trillion mark?"
Well, you must have heard about programs initiated last year to help banks and reforms to support companies.
Just put all of them together and see how they affect each other. You'll get the answer how India is tackling all obstacles in it's way.
Riaz Haq: " Similarly, French economist Thomas Piketty has
argued in his best seller "Capital in the Twenty-
First Century that the GDP growth rates of India
and China are exaggerated."
That is the reason why eastern countries are shaking world markets.
Typical Western Mentality. They are jealous and confused. They can make tall claims but can't ignore fastly changing lifestyles of people of China, India and Indonesia.

Okay, I admit that we are still facing huge deficit problem but we are improving. While one side, our biggest trade partner as well sometimes considered rival China, whose slowdown is creating mes for our trade and economy, their labour now getting costlier is adding plus points on our sides.
Indian Businessmen are also not missing the opportunity. For example, let's take toys. World markets are full of made in China toys. Due to increasing cost of labour in China, their toys are getting costlier. So, Indian Toymakers are also accelerating now.
Same is for other fields. India can become a surplus adding economy and world's 5th biggest exporter by 2030.
And as I'm monitoring you Mr. Riaz, you always put negative points about India. A few negative points are written and a lot positive points are ignored.
Even after that, you claim India taking help of west(you know reality that India has just a symbiotic relationship with West just like it has with China). If there may not be west, we had other options to handle ourselves. That even better.
Stop this obsession with India. It gonna give nothing to you. Instead, you must care about your country.
We Indians have overcome many problems and will overcome remaining in bunch of years.

Anonymous said...

http://forbesindia.com/article/2016-a-make-or-break-year-for-india/indias-on-the-road-to-bestinclass-shashi-tharoor/41867/0

A good article.

Hopewins said...

ISIS attack on our consulate in Jalalabad....
http://tribune.com.pk/story/1027183/worsening-security-7-dead-in-attack-on-pakistan-consulate-in-jalalabad/

ISIS claims that Khorasan (afghanistan & NW pakistan) is part of the caliphate.

Riaz Haq said...

Hopewins: "ISIS claims that Khorasan (afghanistan & NW pakistan) is part of the caliphate."

ISIS claims the entire south Asia region, including India, as part of its Caliphate in the next 5 years.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ISIS-map-of-areas-it-wants-to-take-over-by-2020-includes-India/articleshow/48425666.cms

Riaz Haq said...

India's obsession: India defining itself as "Not Pakistan"

Why #Indian identity would collapse without the existence of #Pakistan. #India #BJP #Modi #Hindutva http://scroll.in/article/801362/why-does-india-need-pakistan-to-define-its-identity … via @scroll_in


... the very definition of a failed state is an artificial category. Pakistan has failed as a state on many fronts – to curb terrorism, to provide shelter and food to its most vulnerable and to protect the rights of minorities, but then in other categories it was as much a functioning state as any other. Despite the horrible law and order situation, the private sector still survived, schools, hospitals and universities functioned, and people continued to live their lives in an ordinary manner. One could make a similar argument for India if one were to focus on certain aspects of the failures of the state. The Gujarat riots of 2002, farmer suicides, and the law and order situation in the North East and Kashmir are features that could identify India as a failed state. But that does not fit the broader framework of Shining India, of a secular and democratic India, as opposed to a battle-ridden, military-run Pakistan. Terror attacks and bomb attacks in India are perceived as an anomaly in the framework of shining India whereas similar attacks in Pakistan are perceived as fitting a larger narrative of Pakistan failing.

Something similar happened to me when I visited Delhi a year later for a conference. Shashi Tharoor was to make the first speech for this peace conference. It was an immaculate speech which lay the entire blame of India-Pakistan conflict on Pakistan. There was one line that stayed with me. He said, “Pakistan is a thorn on India’s back,” essentially implying that India wants to move on and progress whereas Pakistan is an irritant. I noticed a similar sentiment at the Bangalore Literature Festival that I recently visited. One of the most popular sessions at the festival was by the eminent historian Ramachandra Guha. The historian talked about how there has been a rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India similar to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan. One of the members of the audience asked the question that given that India is surrounded by the “fundamentalist” Pakistan and Bangladesh, isn’t it inevitable that India would become fundamentalist.

Surprisingly, Ramachandra Guha's session also tapped this concept of depicting Pakistan as the “barbarian” other to depict India as “civilised”. I am not asserting that Ramachandra Guha said these words and, perhaps, neither was this his intention, but it felt as if he was unconsciously operating under the same framework in which India tends to look at Pakistan and defines itself as a secular liberal democracy. He was talking about the freedom of speech in India and explaining how that space was diminishing. Then, casually, he mentioned that India, despite the worsening situation, is still much better than Pakistan in terms of freedom of speech.

My intention is not to defend Pakistan or assert that Pakistan has freedom of speech. Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world, where dissenting opinions are often shot down or shut up in other ways. However, there are still various nuances which I feel a lot of intellectuals in India tend to overlook. There is an entire tradition of challenging the state and the establishment in Pakistan that is usually ignored when such statements are made. One needs to visit the work of people like Najam Sethi, Khalid Ahmed, Hamid Mir and Ayesha Siddiqa to understand that there is a space in Pakistan, and has always been, to challenge the establishment. There is no doubt that the situation, like in India, is changing rapidly. But the point that I am trying to make is that Pakistan is not the “barbaric” other that it is usually understood as, compared to India the “tolerant” one. The truth is both countries have more in common than they would like to admit, yet they continue to view the other as its exact opposite.

Hopewins said...

QUOTE: "Terror attacks and bomb attacks in India are perceived as an anomaly in the framework of shining India whereas similar attacks in Pakistan are perceived as fitting a larger narrative of Pakistan failing."
--------------------------------------------

India population 1,200 Million
Pakistan population 200 Million
Population ratio- Ind/Pak 6:1

Source: SATP terrorism portal
India Terrorism Casualties over last 10 years: 20,000
Pakistan Terrorism Casualties over last 10 years: 60,000
Terror Casualties Ratio- Ind/Pak 1:3

Adjusted prorata, therefore, Pakistan has 3X6 = 18 times higher terrorism casualty rate.

So there is some truth in what the author is trying to deny.

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "Adjusted prorata, therefore, Pakistan has 3X6 = 18 times higher terrorism casualty rate."

There are 1,097 premature deaths per 100,000 in India vs 982 premature deaths per 100,000 in Pakistan.

Overall premature death rate is higher in India than in Pakistan; terrorism is just one of many causes of it.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2013/04/world-health-day-in-pakistan-premature.html

Riaz Haq said...

Poor #Delhi Homeless Must Pay a ‘Sleep Mafia’ in #Modi's #India #BJP http://nyti.ms/1JUMMP3

When midnight approaches in Old Delhi and a thick, freezing fog settles over the city, the quilt-wallah Farukh Khan sits on his corner, watching the market for his services come to life.

They shuffle up one by one, men desperate for sleep. The bicycle rickshaw pullers, peeling one of his 20-rupee, or 30-cent, quilts off a pile, fold their bodies into strange angles on the four-foot seats of their vehicles. The day laborers curl their bodies on the frigid sidewalk, sometimes spooned against other men for warmth.

Those who cannot afford to pay Mr. Khan build fires, out of plastic if necessary, and crouch over them, waiting for the night to be over.
Does any city have a more stratified sleep economy than wintertime Delhi? The filmmaker Shaunak Sen, who spent two years researching the city’s sleep vendors for a documentary, “Cities of Sleep,” discovered a sprawling gray market that has taken shape around the city’s vast unmet need for shelter. In some places, it breeds what he calls a “sleep mafia, who controls who sleeps where, for how long, and what quality of sleep.”

The story of privatized sleep follows a familiar pattern in this city: After decades of uncontrolled growth, the city government’s inability to provide services like health care, water, transportation and security has given rise to thriving private industries, efficient enough to fulfill the needs of those who can pay.

But shelter, given Delhi’s extremes of heat and cold, is often a matter of survival. The police report collecting more than 3,000 unidentifiable bodies from the streets every year, typically men whose health broke down after years living outdoors. Winter presents especially brutal choices to homeless laborers, who have no place to protect blankets from thieves in the daytime hours. Some try to hide them in the tops of trees.

The moral quandary of making this into a business is at the center of Mr. Sen’s film, which had its premiere at a Mumbai film festival in November. One of his subjects, Ranjit, takes a protective attitude toward his regular “sleepers,” as he calls them, allowing them to drift off to sleep watching Bollywood films for 10 rupees a night. Another, a hard-nosed businessman called Jamaal, increases his price to 50 rupees, from 30, when the temperature drops.

In one scene, when a man pleads, “Sir, I am a poor man; I’ll die,” Jamaal chuckles and replies: “You’re not allowed to die. Even that will cost 1,250 rupees.”

“Look, sleep is the most demanding master there is; no one can stop it when it has chosen to arrive,” Jamaal says in the film. “We were the first to recognize the sheer economic might of sleep.”

Like many of this city’s businesses, sleep vendors are both highly organized and officially nonexistent. In Mr. Khan’s neighborhood, four quilt vendors have divided the sidewalks and public spaces into quadrants, and when night falls, their customers arrange themselves into colonies of lumpy forms. Some have returned to the same spot every night for years.

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A drunken man, his hair matted, stumbled up to Mr. Khan and begged. “Brother, please,” he pleaded, and Mr. Khan uttered a curse under his breath, then grabbed a quilt and thrust it at him.

“If I don’t give him the blanket, he will freeze to death,” he said.

Earlier in the week, this had happened, just a block away from Mr. Khan’s spot. The morning street sweeper had tried to rouse a sleeping man from the sidewalk, but he pulled back the blanket and saw that the man’s feet were stiff.

The man, who was around 35, had been stumbling around drunkenly the night before. No one knew who he was; a police officer asked some other men to go through his pockets, in hopes of finding identification, but they were empty. He covered the body with a sheet, and it lay on the sidewalk until the mortuary workers came, at sunset.

Riaz Haq said...

#India IAF blunder on #RepublicDay: Fighter jet ‘accidently’ drops 5 bombs over #Indian territory in #Rajasthan #BJP http://www.india.com/news/india/iaf-blunder-on-republic-day-fighter-jet-accidently-drops-five-bombs-over-barmer-in-rajasthan-893236/ …
In a bizarre incident, a fighter jet accidental dropped five bombs over Gugdi town in Rajasthan’s Barmer district on Tuesday. The sound of the explosion was heard in a 10 km radius. No casualties have been reported as of now. Initial reports suggested that the bombs were slipped out of the fighter jet which was on a sorties over the area.

Meanwhile, a team of Indian Air Force (IAF) left for the site where five bombs dropped from a fighter plane over Gugdi. An inquiry has been ordered to probe the blunder made by IAF jet. More details are awaited. Fortunately, bombs were dropped over an isolated place otherwise it could have caused huge devastation.

On the Republic Day day when Indian Air Force that displayed 27 mighty aircraft, three C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft, five Jaguar combat planes and a Su-30MKI fighter to show India’s military strength, the incident in Gudge can be considered a major embarrassment.

Riaz Haq said...

Reuters - #Pakistan probe team says no evidence to link JeM militant group to #PathankotAttack in #India

http://www.euronews.com/newswires/3144995-pakistan-probe-no-evidence-links-militant-group-to-indian-air-base-attack-officials/#.Vri2eEVysIM.twitter …

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) – A special investigation team set up in Pakistan to probe a deadly assault on an Indian air base last month found no evidence implicating the leader of the group India blamed for the attack, Pakistani security officials said on Monday.

The officials said the team interrogated Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his associates and found no evidence linking him with the Jan. 2 attack on the Pathankot air base in northern India that killed seven Indian military personnel.

“We searched their homes, seminaries, hideouts and also examined their call records for past three months and found nothing dubious,” a security official with links to the investigating team said.

The raid on the air base stalled efforts to revive bilateral talks between the nuclear-armed neighbours after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unscheduled visit to his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, in December.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since becoming separate countries in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

India has long accused Pakistan of using Kashmir-based militants like Jaish-e-Mohammad, or Army of Mohammad, as a proxy to mount attacks on Indian soil.

A 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, which India also blamed on Jaish-e-Mohammad, nearly led to a war between the nations.

Pakistan denies giving any aid to Kashmir-based militants these days, although it admits doing so in the past.

Indian government officials say Jaish-e-Mohammad was also behind the Pathankot attack and say they provided evidence to the Pakistani government to prove it.

A spokesman for India’s foreign ministry declined to comment on reports of the special investigation team’s findings.

In January, Pakistani authorities detained Azhar and several members of Jaish-e-Mohammad, sealed offices belonging to the outfit, and shut down several religious schools run by the group.

The security officials said on Monday that Azhar remained in custody, but did not say whether authorities were considering his release.

The investigating team has not ruled out the possibility that other members of Azhar’s group may have been involved, the officials said.

It also continued to look into groups affiliated with the United Jihad Council, an alliance of pro-Pakistan militant groups based in the Pakistani-administered part of the divided Kashmir region that claimed responsibility for the assault in Pathankot.

Jaish-e-Mohammad did not claim responsibility for the attack, but praised it in a statement released a few days afterward.

Riaz Haq said...

The #Obama Doctrine: "#Saudis need to “share” the Middle East with their #Iranian foes" #SaudiArabia #Iran #MidEast http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/the-obama-doctrine/471525/ …

“Aren’t the Saudis your friends?,” Turnbull asked.

Obama smiled. “It’s complicated,” he said.

Obama’s patience with Saudi Arabia has always been limited. In his first foreign-policy commentary of note, that 2002 speech at the antiwar rally in Chicago, he said, “You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East—the Saudis and the Egyptians—stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality.” In the White House these days, one occasionally hears Obama’s National Security Council officials pointedly reminding visitors that the large majority of 9/11 hijackers were not Iranian, but Saudi—and Obama himself rails against Saudi Arabia’s state-sanctioned misogyny, arguing in private that “a country cannot function in the modern world when it is repressing half of its population.” In meetings with foreign leaders, Obama has said, “You can gauge the success of a society by how it treats its women.”

His frustration with the Saudis informs his analysis of Middle Eastern power politics. At one point I observed to him that he is less likely than previous presidents to axiomatically side with Saudi Arabia in its dispute with its archrival, Iran. He didn’t disagree.

“Iran, since 1979, has been an enemy of the United States, and has engaged in state-sponsored terrorism, is a genuine threat to Israel and many of our allies, and engages in all kinds of destructive behavior,” the president said. “And my view has never been that we should throw our traditional allies”—the Saudis—“overboard in favor of Iran.”

But he went on to say that the Saudis need to “share” the Middle East with their Iranian foes. “The competition between the Saudis and the Iranians—which has helped to feed proxy wars and chaos in Syria and Iraq and Yemen—requires us to say to our friends as well as to the Iranians that they need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace,” he said. “An approach that said to our friends ‘You are right, Iran is the source of all problems, and we will support you in dealing with Iran’ would essentially mean that as these sectarian conflicts continue to rage and our Gulf partners, our traditional friends, do not have the ability to put out the flames on their own or decisively win on their own, and would mean that we have to start coming in and using our military power to settle scores. And that would be in the interest neither of the United States nor of the Middle East.”

One of the most destructive forces in the Middle East, Obama believes, is tribalism—a force no president can neutralize. Tribalism, made manifest in the reversion to sect, creed, clan, and village by the desperate citizens of failing states, is the source of much of the Muslim Middle East’s problems, and it is another source of his fatalism. Obama has deep respect for the destructive resilience of tribalism—part of his memoir, Dreams From My Father, concerns the way in which tribalism in post-colonial Kenya helped ruin his father’s life—which goes some distance in explaining why he is so fastidious about avoiding entanglements in tribal conflicts.

“It is literally in my DNA to be suspicious of tribalism,” he told me. “I understand the tribal impulse, and acknowledge the power of tribal division. I’ve been navigating tribal divisions my whole life. In the end, it’s the source of a lot of destructive acts.”

Riaz Haq said...

“I Think #Pathankot Was Assisted By A (Drug-smuggling) Sleeper Cell.” Ex DGP Sashikant Sharma. #Drugs #Punjab #India http://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/i-think-pathankot-was-assisted-by-a-sleeper-cell/296447 …

It is said no one knows more about Punjab’s nefarious drug smuggler-politician nexus than Shashikant Sharma, a retired DGP of Punjab Police and now an anti-drug crusader. He claims that as the head of the int­elligence wing of the state police, he had in 2007 compiled a list of prominent Punjab politicians and police officers involved in the trade. The mysterious list has never been revealed by the government, despite persistent prodding by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Among the clutch of petitions currently being heard by the court on Punjab’s drug problem, one even seeks Sharma’s custodial interrogation to make him reveal what he knows. Now that cross-border narco-terrorism, with the alle­ged involvement of bent police officers, is in focus after the attack on the Pathankot air force base, Sharma speaks to Chander Suta Dogra about his crusade to expose those at the top and where it has led him.
The Pathankot attack has once again brought the focus on the drug smuggler-police nexus, particularly as the role of Salwinder Singh, the SP in Gurdaspur, is under a cloud. What is your gut feeling about the alleged involvement of police officials in the episode?
To explain this, allow me to go back to the mid-1980s, when present-day drug barons and cross-border smugglers were busy changing their business from gold to heroin. Gold smuggling was becoming less lucrative and heroin was the new thing coming in from Pakistan for onw­ard transmission through Punjab. Margins were attractive and parallely arms and explosives also began coming in. This was also the beginning of sleeper cells of terrorist groups. Their task was to hide the incoming arms in safehouses along the borders. In time, these cells began safe­-keeping drugs during the ‘cooling period’ after the crossover.

When I began investigating these matters in 2007, we found the drug business to be well-layered, with politicians at the top giving protection. My team also learnt that some were running the business directly with the help of gang members. The next was the layer of sleeper cells hiding consignments. Another layer followed, consisting of personnel from the security forces, including police, which helped them both to cross in and in onward transportation. These were usually middle and mid-lower segments of security forces. And then came the safehouses and an entire chain of couriers who took drugs to rendezvous and shipping-out points. This modus operandi still exists. Given this background, which I know like the back of my hand, I’m not surprised at the Dinanagar or Pathankot attacks. These sleeper cells are entr­en­ched not only along the borders but all over the country. I think the Pathankot attack was assisted by one such cell.

Riaz Haq said...

#India failed to provide evidence to #Pakistan JIT for #PathankotAttack http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/02-Apr-2016/india-failed-to-provide-evidence-to-pakistan-jit-for-pathankot-attack …

Indian authorities failed to provide evidence to Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team (JIT), visiting India to probe into Pathankot Airbase attack.

The JIT members visited Pathankot Airbase on March 29 where Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials briefed and showed them the route from where the attackers stormed the airbase.

Sources said the lights along the 24-km perimeter wall of the Pathankot airbase found to be faulty on the eve of the attack. The Pakistani investigators were allowed to enter the military airbase from the narrow adjacent routes instead of main entrance and their duration of the visit was just 55 minutes, enough to take a mere walk through the airbase, sources said and added that the JIT could not collect evidence in this limited time.

However, the team was only informed about the negligence of Boarder Security Force (BSF) and Indian forces, sources added. It was said that at the time of the attack the BSF was sleeping even though they had been alerted of a possible attack 48 hours earlier, sources said.

Riaz Haq said...

No evidence to prove #Pakistan, its agencies helped JeM in #PathankotAttack: #India's NIA chief http://www.ibtimes.co.in/no-evidence-prove-pakistan-its-agencies-helped-jem-pathankot-attack-nia-chief-681162 … via @ibtimes_india

No evidence exists so far on either Pakistan's or any of its agency's direct involvement in the Pathankot airbase attack, Sharad Kumar, the director general of India's National Investigation Agency (NIA), told News 18. India's law enforcement agency has completed its investigation in the country and is now awaiting an approval to carry out a probe in Pakistan.

"No evidence to show that Pakistan government or Pakistani government agency was helping Jaish-e-Mohammed or Masood Azhar or his aides carried out the Pathankot attack," he said in an interview to the news channel.

Taking a question on any possible insider (Indian) help for the terrorists, Kumar said the investigations so far also "does not point at any insider" involvement.

A parliamentary panel and many security experts had raised concerns that despite a terror alert issued in advance, the infiltrators could breach the security and initiate a gun battle lasting for three days continuously. The report had expressed dismay that there was "something seriously wrong with our counter-terror security establishment."

With Kumar ruling out an insider hand, he was asked if India's security apparatus and its robustness needed scrutiny. "That is for the government to see. We are an investigating agency. We are investigating the case as a crime. We will not recommend any action for lapses or security breach," he retorted.

Without wanting to comment on the role of Salwinder Singh, superintendent of police in Punjab, as either an accuse or witness in the case, Kumar said his status would be revealed at the time of filing the complaint. "But at this point don't want to give him a clean chit," he added.

Riaz Haq said...

Via @NPR: The Precarious Existence Of #Iran's #Sunni #Muslims

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We had to ask around the neighborhood to find this place of worship. It has no dome. There's no minaret. You might compare it to an American storefront church, except there's no storefront.

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When Shiite mosques issue their five calls to prayer every day, they're amplified through loudspeakers and echo down every street. But the Sunni man who sings the call to prayer for this mosque does it indoors, so few people hear.

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Babaei says the administration of Iran's former president tried to shut down this worship space. Hassan Rouhani, the current president, is publicly more tolerant — but the State Department says Iranian Sunnis have been imprisoned for their beliefs. And news reports have said at least one Sunni place of worship in Tehran was shut down last year.


http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/02/11/466290011/the-precarious-existence-of-irans-sunni-muslims