Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pathankot Aftermath; CPEC Route Discord; Improving US-Iran Ties; Jakarta Terror

How are India and Pakistan handling the aftermath of Pathankot terror attack? Will India-Pakistan dialog be sustained to improve ties?

What is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) controversy all about? Are there genuine issues that need to be addressed? Is Nawaz Sharif government handling the situation well? Are the leaders of the provinces ruled by the Opposition politicians sincere in resolving these issues?

Is the lifting of sanctions on Iran helping US-Iran ties? Will the process of Iranian engagement with the West continue? Or will hardliners on both sides succeed in derailing it?

How will US-Saudi ties be impacted by oil glut? Will Saudi Arabia face more internal instability with falling oil prices and inability to cater to its population's expectations?

What do the Jakarta terrorist attacks in Indonesia claimed by ISIS signify? Is this a major new expansion of ISIS footprint around the globe? How best can the world fight the growing ISIS threat? What needs to be done to counter ISIS propaganda and recruitment of young Muslims via social media?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelists Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (

Pathankot Aftermath; CPEC Route Discord... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Pathankot Aftermath; CPEC Route Discord; Improving US-Iran Ties; Jakarta Terror from WBT Productions on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Shale Revolution Impact on Saudi Arabia

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel


Unknown said...

ANP has a history of opposing anything and everything that will make Pakistan grow......In early 60's the Pakhtoons came to Karachi In 64 the riots did.....they shot up Karachi

Anonymous said...

Haq bhai, CPEC is passing via a disputed region. China is well aware of this and is asking Pakistan to declare the part of Kashmir it administers to be declared as a state/province of Pakistan. Problem for Pakistan is that if it does that then it will effectively be a forfeiting of Indian administered part of Kashmir. It will essentially legitimize the India's claim to the portion of Kashmir they are currently having. It is an uncomfortable situation for Pakistan's government. They can neither leave Indian portion of Kashmir nor they can leave CPEC. Wonder which one will they choose.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan says #BachaKhanUniversity attack orchestrated by #TTP militants in #Afghanistan aided by #India via @WSJ
Pakistan said Thursday that a deadly assault on a university this week was orchestrated by militants in Afghanistan, part of a pattern of cross-border terrorism that is undermining peace efforts in the region.

At least 21 people died in the gun attack Wednesday on a university campus in the northwest of Pakistan. A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban led by a commander called Omar Mansoor claimed responsibility for the attack.

Pakistani security officials privately said the attackers were supported by Indian and Afghan intelligence, a view then repeated by Pakistani commentators in the media. These claims were rejected by Kabul and Delhi, with India’s foreign ministry calling them “baseless allegations.”

Pakistan’s military spokesman, Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa, said that the attack was controlled from a location in Afghanistan, through an Afghan cellphone, by a Pakistani Taliban militant.

He said that Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, had shared details with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and the head of international forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Campbell.

Kabul dismissed the claims. “The Afghan government rejects allegations made from the other side of the border. Terrorists operating in Pakistan are from Pakistan,” said Javid Faisal, a spokesman for Mr. Abdullah.

A series of vicious attacks in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan since the start of the new year, and the three countries’ propensity to blame each other for them, are posing a severe challenge to embryonic peace efforts to stabilize the area.

“The blame game removes responsibility for your own failures, your own weaknesses,” said Ijaz Khan, a professor of international relations at the University of Peshawar. “Instead of looking inside, you say that others are responsible.”

Pakistan and Afghanistan have sought to revive peace talks between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban. Afghanistan’s role as a proxy battleground between India and Pakistan has meant the nation has endured decades of conflict.

Afghan authorities say that the Pakistani military and its Inter-Service Intelligence, or ISI, spy agency supports the Afghan Taliban. Islamabad says that it is operating against all militants on its soil “without discrimination.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan PM #NawazSharif inaugurates Gwadar-Hoshab (M-8) portion of #CPEC in #Balochistan

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday inaugurated the Gwadar-Hoshab (M-8) road and reviewed the work being carried out on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

During the inspection of the newly constructed M-8 route, General Raheel Sharif personally drove the prime minister in an open-top vehicle.

The military spokesperson also added that the locals were overjoyed with the progress of the CPEC project.

“The land-locked Central Asian states are interested in trade via the Gwadar port,” said the prime minister.

He said on the occasion that CPEC would open new vistas of development and prosperity in the region in general and benefit the country in particular.

The inauguration ceremony of M8 was attended by Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Amir Riaz and other high ranking military and civilian officials.

The prime minister on the occasion also praised the services and sacrifices rendered by the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) in the construction of CPEC.

“Despite security problems, work is in full-swing on construction of roads in Balochistan,” added Nawaz.

The Prime Minister elaborated that after completion of CPEC and other related projects, Balochistan would not be dependent for financial aid on the federal government. "CPEC would ensure economic development of Balochistan", he said, adding that the people of the province would be major beneficiaries of the mega project.

"Projects cannot be completed through mere slogans, rather a strategy was imperative for completion of projects", he said.

The prime minister also reiterated his commitment on the occasion and said efforts were being made to develop Balochistan and bring it at par with other parts of the country.

Read: PM inaugurates western route of CPEC in Zhob

Earlier in January, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had inaugurated the western route of the (CPEC) in Balochistan's Zhob and laid the foundation stones of two key projects: upgradation of the Zhob-Mughal Kot section of the Dera Ismail Khan-Qila Saifullah Highway (N-50) and the Qilla Saifullah-Waigam Rud Road section of the Multan-Dera Ghazi Khan-Qilla Saifullah Highway (N-70)

CPEC: Background
The CPEC is a 3,000-kilometer network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport oil and gas from Gwadar Port to Kashgar city, northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his visit to Pakistan in May 2013, the CPEC will act as a bridge for the new Maritime Silk Route that envisages linking three billion people in Asia, Africa and Europe.

An official agreement on the corridor was signed between the two countries in May this year during President Xi Jinping's historic visit to Pakistan.

A flagship project of the Belt and Road initiative as well, the CPEC intends to revive the ancient Silk Road with a focus on infrastructure, and constitutes the strategic framework of bilateral cooperation.

The project links China's strategy to develop its western region with Pakistan's focus on boosting its economy, including the infrastructure construction of Gwadar Port, together with some energy cooperation and investment programs.

It also involves road and railway construction including an upgrade of the 1,300-km Karakoram Highway, the highest paved international road in the world which connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountains.

The CPEC will reduce China's routes of oil and gas imports from Africa and the Middle East by thousands of kilometers, making Gwadar a potentially vital link in China's supply chain.

Riaz Haq said...

The #Obama Doctrine: "#Saudis need to “share” the Middle East with their #Iranian foes" #SaudiArabia #Iran #MidEast …

“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 …

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 …

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 … 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...

CPEC Results According to Wang Wenbin of China

Bilal I Gilani
CPEC projects are creating 192,000 jobs, generating 6,000MW of power, building 510 km (316 miles) of highways, and expanding the national transmission network by 886 km (550 miles),” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing."

Associated Press of Pakistan: On July 5, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif while addressing a ceremony to mark a decade of signing of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), said that CPEC has been playing a key role in transforming Pakistan’s economic landscape. He also said that the mega project helped Pakistan progress in the region and beyond. What is your response?

Wang Wenbin: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a signature project of China-Pakistan cooperation in the new era, and an important project under the Belt and Road Initiative. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of CPEC. After ten years of development, a “1+4” cooperation layout has been formed, with the CPEC at the center and Gwadar Port, transport infrastructure, energy and industrial cooperation being the four key areas. Projects under CPEC are flourishing all across Pakistan, attracting USD 25.4 billion of direct investment, creating 192,000 jobs, producing 6,000 megawatts of electric power, building 510 kilometers of highways and adding 886 kilometers to the core national transmission network. CPEC has made tangible contribution to the national development of Pakistan and connectivity in the region. China and Pakistan have also explored new areas for cooperation under the framework of CPEC, creating new highlights in cooperation on agriculture, science and technology, telecommunication and people’s wellbeing.

China stands ready to work with Pakistan to build on the past achievements and follow the guidance of the important common understandings between the leaders of the two countries on promoting high-quality development of CPEC to boost the development of China and Pakistan and the region and bring more benefits to the people of all countries.

Riaz Haq said...

The mega undertaking (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC) has created nearly 200,000 direct local jobs, built more than 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) of highways and roads, and added 8,000 megawatts of electricity to the national grid, ending years of blackouts caused by power outages in the country of 230 million people.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing earlier this month that CPEC projects "are flourishing all across Pakistan," making a "tangible contribution" to the national development of the country and to regional connectivity.

But critics say many projects have suffered delays, including several much-touted industrial zones that were supposed to help Pakistan enhance its exports to earn much-needed foreign exchange.

The country's declining dollar reserves have prevented Islamabad from paying Chinese power producers, leading to strains in many ties.

Pakistan owes more than $1.26 billion (350 billion rupees) to Chinese power plants. The amount keeps growing, and China has been reluctant to defer or restructure the payment and CPEC debts. All the Chinese loans – both government and commercial banks – makeup nearly 30% of Islamabad's external debt.

Some critics blame CPEC investments for contributing to Pakistan's economic troubles. The government fended off the risk of an imminent default by securing a short-term $3 billion International Monetary Fund bailout agreement this month.

Security threats to its citizens and interests in Pakistan have also been a cause of concern for China. Militant attacks have killed several Chinese nationals in recent years, prompting Beijing to press Islamabad to ensure security measures for CPEC projects.

Diplomatic sources told VOA that China has lately directed its diplomats and citizens working on CPEC programs to strictly limit their movements and avoid visiting certain Pakistani cities for security reasons.

"They [Chinese] believe this security issue is becoming an impediment in taking CPEC forward," Senator Mushahid Hussain, the chairman of the defense committee of the upper house of the Pakistani parliament, told VOA in an interview earlier this month.

"Recurring expressions of concern about the safety and security of Chinese citizens and investors in Pakistan by top Chinese leaders indicate that Pakistan's promises of 'foolproof security' for Chinese working in Pakistan have yet to be fulfilled," said Hussain, who represents Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's ruling party in the Senate.