Saturday, October 7, 2017

Khwaja Asif Defends Pakistan Policy at USIP in Washington D.C.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif was a featured speaker at an event organized by Washington-based think tank USIP (United States Institute of Peace) where he was interviewed by Dr. Moeed Yusuf. The topics of discussion ranged from US-Pakistani relations and President Donald Trump's new Afghan policy to Pakistan's ties with Afghanistan and India.

Foreign Minister Asif with Dr. Moeed Yusuf at USIP in Washington

Here are some of the key Points made by Mr. Asif at this event held in Washington D.C. on Oct 5, 2017:

1. US funded, armed and trained militants to fight the Soviets in 1980s as part of the Cold War, then walked away without helping to rehabilitate them and left it to Pakistan to deal with them.

2. Pakistan does want to deal with these militants who are a liability for the country. Pakistan is working on finding the best way to do it.

3. US domestic politics prevents action on gun violence but Washington expects Pakistan to demolish all militant groups overnight.

4. India has 66 banned armed groups engaged in insurgency all over India. Only 4 linked to Pakistan.

5. Indian government's data shows over 36,000 infiltration attempts in India occupied Kashmir in 2001 and only 30 this year.

6. Ex US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said that "India has always used Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan. India has over the years been financing problems in Pakistan".

7. Gen Petraeus said at a RUSI presentation in 2016 that while he served as Centcom commander and then CIA chief, he saw no convincing evidence of Pakistan's support for Haqqanis.

8. Pakistan rejects US Defense Secretary Mattis' statement about working with Pakistan "one more time". Such talk is offensive to Pakistan and not conducive to cooperation with US.

9. The US has already lost the war in Afghanistan and now trying to salvage what it can from it. Further mistakes by US could force the Taliban and ISIS to get together and create a much bigger threat for Pakistan, the region and the West.

10. Indian Air Force Chief has threatened to carry out "surgical strikes" against Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. If that were to happen, don't expect any restraint from Pakistan.

Here's a video of the US Institute of Peace event featuring Khwaja Asif:

https://youtu.be/OsGy4NDEXMg




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Trump's Afghan Strategy

Who are the Haqqanis?

US Gun Violence, Islamophobia and Terrorism

700,000 Indian Troops vs 10 Millon Kashmiris

Secretary Hagel on India Using Afghanistan Against Pakistan

Gen Petraeus Says No Evidence of Pakistani Support For Haqqanis

Why is India Sponsoring Terror in Pakistan?

Are Russia and Iran Supporting the Afghan Taliban? 

What if Modi Attacks Pakistan?

Kautilya's Doctrine Dominates India's Pakistan Policy

8 comments:

Seeme K. said...

What I did not understand, that last week, the same things were being reported. Now I hear two or three delegations are going to Pakistan. Tillerson. Defense Secretary. Maybe one more person. All separately. What game is going on ?

Riaz Haq said...

Seeme: "What I did not understand, that last week, the same things were being reported. Now I hear two or three delegations are going to Pakistan. Tillerson. Defense Secretary. Maybe one more person. All separately. What game is going on ?"

Hard to say given the ongoing disarray in US foreign policy.

But it looks like a good guy ( Tillerson) bad guy ( Mattis/ McMaster) game of ratcheting up the US pressure on Pakistan to do America’s bidding

Riaz Haq said...

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker: It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/08/bob-corker-white-house-adult-day-care-center-trump-twitter

Bob Corker says White House is 'adult day care center' after Trump Twitter hit
Senate foreign relations chair and president trade undignified insults
Trump blasts Corker for retirement, ‘negative voice’, Iran deal support

After Donald Trump issued a fierce Twitter rebuke of Bob Corker, the retiring Republican senator tweeted back: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

The exchange between the president and the chair of the Senate foreign relations committee was the latest undignified episode in Trump’s bizarre and fractious relationship with the Republican establishment and parts of his own administration. Trump’s treatment of secretary of state Rex Tillerson this week prompted remarks from Corker that were seen as critical of the president.

Midway through Sunday morning, Trump wrote: “Senator Bob Corker ‘begged’ me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said ‘NO’ and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement).

“He also wanted to be secretary of state, I said ‘NO THANKS.’ He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran deal!

“Hence, I would fully expect Corker to be a negative voice and stand in the way of our great agenda. Didn’t have the guts to run!”

Corker was considered for both vice-president and secretary of state and was a key Trump ally during much of the 2016 campaign. He has since become a vocal critic.

On the deal between Iran and six major nations including the US that restricts Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, he is an important and supportive voice. It was reported this week that Trump, against the wishes of senior advisers, will not re-certify the deal. That would put it in the hands of Congress, which would decide whether to reimpose sanctions, a move that would threaten the deal’s existence.

Corker announced his decision to retire last month. “The most important public service I have to offer our country could well occur over the next 15 months,” he said, hinting at his opposition to the president. “I want to be able to do that as thoughtfully and independently as I did the first 10 years and nine months of my Senate career.”

This week, he made headlines when he implied that Trump was leading the US to the brink of “chaos”.

Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill about reports that secretary of state Rex Tillerson called Trump a “fucking moron” and considered resigning, Corker said: “I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary [of defense Jim] Mattis and Chief of Staff [John] Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos.”

Asked if he was referring to Trump, he said: “[Mattis, Kelly and Tillerson] work very well together to make sure the policies we put forth around the world are sound and coherent. There are other people within the administration that don’t. I hope they stay because they’re valuable to the national security of our nation.”

Riaz Haq said...

Ex Chiefs of #RAW, #ISI meet in #London, Both agree war not an option, #India and #Pakistan talks must via @htTweets

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/barbs-banter-as-top-indian-and-pakistani-spooks-meet-at-lse/story-GoM1XmsZDVPTkyTAO4Ig7I.html

AS Dulat and Ehsan-ul-Haq, who served as head of the RAW and ISI respectively in the early 2000s, came together at a seminar in the LSE that was marked by much banter and barbs.

Dulat and Ehsan, who served in their respective offices in the early 2000s, were key players in sensitive issues, often taking adversarial postures and actions, but at LSE they could not agree more with each other on Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism and peace talks.

Ehsan dwelt on what he called the “mass uprising in Jammu and Kashmir since July last year”, following the death of jihadi commander Burhan Wani, and harped on the need to resume the stalled dialogue between the two countries. Dulat agreed with him that India had committed “mistakes” and created “a mess” in the state.

Dulat also agreed that talks should be resumed between the two sides, since war is not an option and dialogue is the only way out. India, he said, needs to make an exception and talk along with terrorism (New Delhi has ruled out parleys until Pakistan-backed terrorism is stopped).

The former RAW chief said: “The magic of it all, as Ehsan-sab said, is mainstreaming and also democracy. The mistakes that we are making (in Jammu and Kashmir), apart from the mess that we have created, still not talking to people, high time we started talking to people…We need to deal with Kashmir in a more civilised manner.

“These red lines about Hurriyat…we have got it absolutely wrong because the whole idea of talking to the Hurriyat is to mainstream them, get them into the democratic process…The PDP-BJP coalition was expected to bring Jammu and Srinagar closer, but it has taken them further apart because Kashmiris have never forgiven the PDP for bringing the RSS into the (Kashmir) valley.

“In the BJP’s mind, the RSS may have come into the valley but the RSS is not going to achieve anything there,” he added.

Another point of agreement between the two former spooks was the need for cooperation between Indian and Pakistan intelligence agencies.

Dulat, an old Kashmir hand who headed India’s external intelligence agency during 1999-2000, said there were instances when interaction between RAW and ISI had “produced more than the desired results”, and Ehsan had been witness to at least one such major result.

Amid knowing guffaws and smiles, Dulat chided Ehsan and reminded him of his “relationship” with his Indian counterpart, of India tipping off Pakistan about a potential threat to the life of former president Pervez Musharraf, and of covert talks defusing a major flashpoint in the early 2000s.

Dulat said: “He (Ehsan) is still using the ploy of plausible deniability and being rather modest about his relationship which was well known. And from all that I know it was a great relationship that produced results. I think Sir, you recall the 2003 ceasefire took place because of you and your friend.”

The remarks evoked laughter from Ehsan.

Dulat added, “And if I can go beyond, your friend also tipped you with intelligence which may have saved Gen Musharraf’s life. And I think that is something that even Gen Musharraf in a way acknowledges. So I don’t think we need to deny that. It is a feather in your cap, Sir, and a feather in your friend’s cap.”

Riaz Haq said...

Objections to CPEC: India, US caught in their own snare?

http://dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/09-Oct-17/objections-to-cpec-india-us-caught-in-their-own-snare

US Secretary of Defence James Mattis’ statement on the CPEC, both the US and India find themselves trapped in their own snare. Without any reference to the entire Kashmir region, Mattis, inadvertently or otherwise, brought up the phrase ‘disputed territory’ when expressing his country’s reservations about the corridor. “The One Belt, One Road (of which CPEC is the flagship) also goes through disputed territory, and I think that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate,” US Defence Secretary James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee late last week.

India has always dismissed the notion of ‘disputed territory’ and called the entire region as its integral part. Major western capitals practically endorse New Delhi’s position and most have kept silence of expedience despite the wave of violence – hundreds of deaths, casualties and pellet-gun-induced fatal injuries to eyes – in the Indian-controlled Kashmir since the killing of Burhan Wani in Jualy 2016. Picking up on this paradox, General Nasir Janjua, the National Security Advisor, believes that the US Defence Secretary’s statement has resurrected the issue on the global radar. “This way the USA has not only recognisd Kashmir as a dispute but helped highlight it internationally,” Janjua told Daily Times.

"Washington should now step forward and help us seek a solution to Kashmir in the light of the UN resolutions," he said, "Kashmir has been bleeding and the world has looked on silently. Isn't it about time for the US to deploy its leverage for securing a peaceful resolution of a disputed territory?" Janjua asked.

Mattis' statement also validates Sino-Pakistan suspicions on the motives of the Indo-US opposition to CPEC.
Secretary Mattis has also said that the US opposed China's 'One Belt, One Road' policy in principle because in a globalised world, there are many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating 'One Belt, One Road'.

By endorsing the Indian position on CPEC, Mattis has basically pulled the cat out of bag and provided a glimpse of how the Trump administration plans to forge a new partnership with India on Afghanistan.

Earlier, during his September 25-27 visit to New Delhi, the Defence Secretary had exchanged vows of cooperation with his Indian counterpart Ms Nirmala Sitharaman. They agreed to enhance the Indian role in counter-terrorism training of the Afghan troops and building of the country's police force in the fight against the Taliban. Expanded role of Indian military is also under consideration to provide expertise in supporting the US-led training and advisory mission with Afghan security, the media has been told.

This convergence was not out of the blue; the Trump administration has been gradually ramping up pressure on Pakistan, manifest in statements before and after the strategy was unveiled; a day before his meeting with Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Secretary Mattis had upped the ante by telling a House Armed Services Committee hearing that the administration would try 'one more time' to work with Pakistan in Afghanistan, before turning to other options to address Islamabad's alleged support for militant groups.

Strangely, none of the reports by the US Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) since 2012 has ever made any reference to Pakistan as the sole source of Afghanistan's troubles.

On the contrary, both an alliance of Afghan NGOs (which prepared a 10-point Roadmap to Peace for Afghanistan) and the SIGAR have identified governmental corruption, warlordism, narcotics, Taliban and other non-state actors and abuse of fundamental rights as the primary reasons for Afghanistan's continued troubles.

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.

-----------

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.

-------------

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.

-------
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...

#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."