Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Khawaja Asif in US; China in Doklam; LV Mass Shooting; Pak Civil-Military Ties

What was the objective of Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif's visit to Washington? How was he received there? How did his meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster go? What is the crux of the case he presented to the United States Institute of Peace?

Is Nawaz Sharif's corruption prosecution in National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court inspired by the Pakistani military? Is it really civil-military tensions or just a distraction tactic used by PMLN to discredit serious corruption charges against their leaders? Is PMLN using street power and legislation to try to intimidate the judges and the generals to rehabilitate Nawaz Sharif after his disqualification by the Supreme Court? Why does Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif oppose PMLN's confrontational stance against the judiciary and the military?

Is there a way to prevent recurrence of frequent mass shootings after recent history's worst ever mass shooting incident in Las Vegas, Nevada? Will the United States Congress and state legislatures act to put limits on the kind of guns available for sale? Will there be any new gun control measures like the ones Australia implemented after its last mass shooting in 1996?

Has China resumed road building with deployment of more troops in Doklam? Is it not embarrassing for India's Modi government after they claimed China had blinked in the Doklam standoff in Bhutan? What will happen next?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/gbpTHHK93uY




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Khwaja Asif Defends Pakistan's Policy at the US Institute of Peace

Nawaz Sharif's Rallies Against Judiciary and Military

US Gun Violence, Islamophobia and Terrorism

China-India Standoff at Doklam, Bhutan

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Talk4Pak Think Tank

6 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > OPINION
Securing Pakistan’s nuclear assets

By Zamir AkramPublished: October 13, 2017

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1529618/securing-pakistans-nuclear-assets/


From Pakistan’s perspective, the greater threat to its nuclear assets has always been from the US or the Indians, rather than terrorists, and has taken robust measures to protect the safety and security of these assets. Accordingly, for Pakistan ensuring nuclear security is vital for ensuring national security. Had there been a window of vulnerability, the Americans would already have tried to penetrate it.

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The Indian air chief’s recent boast about striking Pakistan’s nuclear installations has been dismissed by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif with the contempt that it deserves. Not only is this threat contrary to the Pakistan-India agreement not to attack each other’s nuclear facilities but is nonsensical as Pakistan’s nuclear assets are not vulnerable to such an attack and would definitely invite a befitting response.

These Indian fulminations are encouraged by the negative American narrative about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, repeated most recently in President Trump’s South Asia policy speech. It is an open secret that the US has contingency places to de-nuclearise Pakistan ever since the start of its strategic programme. After 9/11, the American narrative has alleged the threat of terrorists or extremist “insiders” taking over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons which would have to be “neutralised” before that happens. More recently, with the development of Pakistan’s low-yield or so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons to negate India’s Cold Start doctrine, the Americans allege that these weapons, when deployed in the field, would be vulnerable to terrorist takeover or lack effective command and control. Actually, such allegations are more in response to Pakistan’s rejection of American demands to accept unilateral restraints on its strategic deterrence efforts in response to the growing Indian conventional and nuclear threat rather than any credible terrorist or insider threat.

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Pakistan has successfully defied American discrimination and intimidation. It is also cognisant of the emerging threats posed by cyber and electronic warfare, which require effective fire-walls and countervailing measures that have been put in place as part of the full-spectrum effort for the safety and security of our strategic assets.

Riaz Haq said...

What an #American #hostages rescue says about #US-#Pakistan ties: A new era of alliance? #Trump https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/analysis-caitlan-coleman-hostage-rescue-hints-new-era-pakistan-n810356 … via @nbcnews

The rescue of American hostage Caitlan Coleman and her family by Pakistan's military may prove to be a big step toward improving strained ties between Washington and its nuclear-armed ally.

Hours after details of the operation to free the Pennsylvania native from a horrific five-year ordeal emerged Thursday, statements by Pakistani authorities, the State Department and even President Donald Trump all praised the benefits of intelligence sharing and cooperation.

That appeared to indicate a positive turn in a relationship that has been fast deteriorating since the start of the Trump presidency. Before being elected to the White House, Trump had repeatedly tweeted that Pakistan "is not our friend."

“This rescue is an example of what intelligence sharing and mutual respect can do,” said Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, a Pakistani military spokesman. “It should now be clear to the Americans that cooperation works. Coercion and confrontation don’t.”

The Pakistan military said that it took action after being alerted by U.S. intelligence that Coleman, her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, and their three children were being moved across the border from Afghanistan.

They had been held captive by a Taliban-linked group. Boyle gave a harrowing account of their plight to reporters Friday, saying captors had killed their infant daughter and raped Coleman.

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News of the rescue produced glowing praise of Pakistan from Trump and Tillerson.

"This is a positive moment for our country's relationship with Pakistan," the president said in a statement. "The Pakistani government's cooperation is a sign that it is honoring America's wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region."

That represented a softer tone toward Pakistan from Trump.

In January 2012, he tweeted: "Get it straight: Pakistan is not our friend. We’ve given them billions and billions of dollars, and what did we get? Betrayal and disrespect—and much worse. #TimeToGetTough"

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump shows #Modi how to make a U-turn on #Pakistan

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/donald-trump-shows-narendra-modi-how-to-take-an-about-turn-on-pakistan-4889937/


India’s leadership doesn’t need an American TV network , @MadamSecretary, to remind it of the old adage that there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics. Still, there would be no harm watching, especially if South Block seems to have lost its way.

It’s a pity that @narendramodi or @SushmaSwaraj don’t follow @MadamSecretary, the serial on the CBS US television network that tracks the life and times of a fictional US secretary of state. Episodes follow crises the US must get involved in around the globe, including, you’ve guessed it, India and Pakistan, Russia and Libya and other hotspots that blow up with unfailing regularity.
Elizabeth McCord (the actress @TeaLeoni) must deal with despots and dictators and assassinations and dirty bombs without losing her cool. Of course she comes out on top most of the time, as is to be expected, but its how she gets there that’s interesting. Madam Secretary is successful precisely because she has no qualms in supping with the devil.
This ability to change your mind mid-sentence must separate the big girls – or big boys, as in the case of @realDonaldTrump — from the rest of us mortals. As his Friday night tweet demonstrating an about-turn on his Pakistan policy showed, the US has both the power and the inclination to get what it wants and high moral ground be damned.

The US president’s complimentary tweet came in the wake of a Pakistan army operation only a day ago, against the Haqqani Network terrorist group in Pakistan’s own northern, restive province Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, in which a US-Canadian couple and their children (born in captivity no less) were rescued, that too after five years.




See the coincidence ?
Several Pakistan-watchers will tell you that the case of Joshua Boyle and Caitlin Coleman, Canadian and US nationals respectively, is similar to one Osama bin Laden who was found living a stone’s throw away from the Pakistan military academy in Abbotabad, barely a 100 km from Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.
Joshua and Caitlin were kidnapped in Afghanistan by a terrorist group in October 2012 and were found in Pakistan’s neighbouring Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province yesterday. Just like Osama, there is no way the Pakistan military didn’t know that a White, Anglo-Saxon family, with three kids no less, were living in a Haqqani Network camp inside Pakistan.
As @MadamSecretary will tell you again and again, the name of the game is leverage. And Pakistan has dollops of it. Even though the world’s most powerful leader, Donald Trump, told the world only a few weeks ago that US policy towards Pakistan was going to change – and India crowed delightedly when he did – fact is that the US isn’t doing what it is in the badlands of Afghanistan-Pakistan for India’s national interest, but its own.
Speaking in Pennsylvania on Friday, Trump complimented Pakistan’s cooperation on the Caitlin-Joshua rescue and took credit for being much more tough on Rawalpindi.
“The Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honouring America’s wish that it do more to provide security in the region,” he said. “They worked very hard on this, and I believe they’re starting to respect the United States again,” he added.
Only a month ago, Trump had accused Pakistan of “housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately,” he had said. The Pakistanis reacted badly to the Trump speech and even cancelled a scheduled visit by Lisa Curtis, Trump’s top official on South Asia in the White House.

Riaz Haq said...

#Canadian #Hostage on His Daring Rescue by #Pakistan Army. #Afghanistan #HQN https://youtu.be/m1RJGnmWM3g via @YouTube


Josh Boyle: "A major comes over to me while I still have blood on me. The street is chaos and he says to me, 'In the American media they said that we support the Haqqani network and that we make it possible. Today you have seen the truth. Did we not put bullets in those bastards?' "And so I can say to you I did see the truth, and the truth was that car was riddled with bullets. The ISI (Pakistan's intelligence agency) and the army got between the criminals and the car to make sure the prisoners were safe and my family was safe. They put them to flight and they ran like cowards. And this is proof enough to me the Pakistanis are doing everything to their utmost."

Riaz Haq said...

Despite #Tillerson, #US Won't Abandon #Pakistan for #India | RAND. #China #CPEC #Modi

https://www.rand.org/blog/2017/10/despite-tillerson-us-wont-abandon-pakistan-for-india.html


t has become commonplace to caution American policymakers against irrational exuberance when dealing with India: Keep expectations low (conventional wisdom goes) and you won't be disappointed. In the wake of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to New Delhi this week, perhaps the same advice could be directed to India's leadership. Despite a warm welcome by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the pleasantries at Gandhi Smriti, and the promises of “an even brighter future,” don't expect a radical change in U.S. policy. There are structural reasons for India to moderate its expectations of what it can realistically expect from the Trump administration, regardless of anything the secretary of state—or even the president—might say.

There is no new U.S. policy towards Pakistan—and there won't be one soon. On August 21, Trump announced a “change [in] the approach and how to deal with Pakistan. We can no longer be silent,” he stated. Ears pricked up in Islamabad and New Delhi alike. But in the two months since the administration's roll-out of its new strategy for South Asia, no significant actions towards Pakistan have been made public. If a sea-change is underway, it is hidden beneath the waves.

This should not be a surprise: So long as the U.S. has troops in neighboring Afghanistan, it will be reliant on Pakistan for logistical support, transit, and—perhaps most importantly—Islamabad's influence with both the Taliban and its affiliated Haqqani Network. With the addition of about 5,000 U.S. troops to the effort in Afghanistan—roughly a 50 percent increase over the baseline at the end of the Obama administration—U.S. exposure will grow rather than recede.

A concrete demonstration was provided just two weeks ago: On October 12, an American woman, her Canadian husband, and their three children were released after five years of Haqqani captivity. Whether this was a conveniently-timed military rescue or a secretly-negotiated operation, it reminds the U.S. of Pakistan's ability to help—and to harm. Afterwards, Tillerson expressed his “deep gratitude to the Government of Pakistan and the Pakistani Army,” and posited “a U.S.-Pakistan relationship marked by growing commitments to counterterrorism operations and stronger ties in all other respects.”

The U.S. and India don't see eye-to-eye on China. Earlier this month, Tillerson made a major speech contrasting America's relationships with India and China. “We'll never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society,” (PDF) he said, “that we can have with a major democracy” such as India. He criticized China's Belt-and-Road-Initiative (BRI) infrastructure program, and proposed a joint Indo-U.S. effort towards “countering that with alternative financing measures.”

But Tillerson said nothing about where the funds for such an ambitious venture might come from. China has pledged $46 billion for the Pakistan piece of its framework alone. The U.S. administration plans to reduce its foreign affairs budget by 28 percent—a cut that Tillerson fully supports. India is unlikely to spend countless crores for the construction of roads and railways in other nations when it has so many infrastructure needs of its own. Moreover, India has consistently balked at any suggestion of a de facto alliance geared at limiting China's influence. Perhaps this summer's stand-off at Doklam will turn out to be a game-changer? If so, Delhi may remember that the Trump administration—in contrast, for example, to that of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe—refrained from any statement in support of India throughout its most serious confrontation with China in a quarter-century.


Riaz Haq said...

The Danger of Trump’s Pakistan Approach
Taking a tougher line on Islamabad without a clear strategy is a losing proposition.

https://thediplomat.com/2017/11/the-danger-of-trumps-pakistan-approach/

As the dust settles, there should be a period of reflection, and there will be. Pakistan has to make up its mind whether it wants to contribute to Afghanistan stability or instability. Though Pakistan benefits and suffers from what happens in Afghanistan, Pakistan has failed to cash in on its support for the Taliban. And now it may be too late, as Pakistan is left with few good options except to drop them. The problem is that Washington is not making it any easier for Pakistan to do so.

Pakistan’s cooperation will depend on its assessment of what is the end game from the American perspective. But what is the overall American objective and strategy? There is no clarity. Without any knowledge of that and of what is in there for Islamabad, Pakistan will understandably be reluctant to cooperate.

Pakistan also wants coordinated action against the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, the Jamaatul Ahrar, and the Balochistan Liberation Army, which operate from safe havens in Afghanistan. But both Kabul and Washington have been unresponsive. And so far, Washington has pushed all the wrong buttons like sanctioning India’s hegemonic ambitions in the region and attacking the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which may prompt Pakistan to hedge.

To add to Pakistan’s quandary, China may be facing a similar dilemma. Though it still remains invested in Afghanistan’s stability, if the United States remains silent about its end game in Afghanistan and has outlined a strategy of encirclement of China as suggested by Tillerson’s CSIS speech, then China too may have to hedge. Both General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis have recently been speaking in Congressional hearings against the “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) initiative and its flagship project, CPEC. The theme is that China, through its regional partnerships, is trying to limit U.S. power projection and weaken Washington’s position in the Indo-Pacific.

Washington is trying to address a mélange of geopolitical, regional, and national security challenges, along with the failing Afghanistan war, without an overarching strategy or grand design. It may thus end up as a zero-sum exercise. One objective or another is going to give or lose out in pursuit of one particular interest. Washington may think that threatening CPEC to weaken Pakistan ‘s lifeline to undermine its leverage, and to weaken China’s alternatives to deal with the projection of American power in the Indian Ocean, might be a smart move but it is more likely to backfire. It is also worth noting that it will likely draw China and Pakistan even closer.

If Pakistan is lost to Washington or isolated, the United States loses too. The safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets remains important to the United States, as does non-proliferation. In case of strained relationship with Pakistan, the United States loses communication with Pakistan on the nuclear issue. It also loses influence on Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to deal with extremism and militant outfits. Not to mention Washington loses air and ground lines of communication, and intelligence sharing on dealing with transnational terror groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State. Finally, there will be no peace in Afghanistan without Pakistan’s help.