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 (

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

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


Riaz Haq said...

#US, #UK rubbished #India’s ‘evidence’ against #Pakistan in #Mumbai attacks, says Wikileaks 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:

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.

Unknown 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:

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s confusingly speedy economy and very own deflator problem | FT Alphaville



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.

Unknown 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...

A good article.

Hopewins said...

ISIS attack on our 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.

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 … 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.

Riaz Haq said...

Poor #Delhi Homeless Must Pay a ‘Sleep Mafia’ in #Modi's #India #BJP

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.


Continue reading the main story

Continue reading the main story

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 …
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 …

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 …

“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...

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

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.


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.


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.

Riaz Haq said...

Hatred of Arabs deeply rooted in Persians, says Iranian intellectual

The relationship between Arabs and Persians has always been a source of controversy, not only owing to the contemporary power struggle in the region, but also because of a long history of rivalry that formed an integral part of the national psyche of both people. Iranian intellectual Sadek Zibakalam provides deep insight into the different levels of this enduring animosity.

“I think the majority of Iranians of all types hate Arabs, and I believe they hate us, too,” Sadek Zibakalam, who is also a professor at the University of Tehran, said in an interview with the Iranian weekly Sobh Azade.

Zibakalam said there is a link between racism and a lack of education, and pointed out that this is the case in Europe, where people who express hatred against Jews or Muslims or foreigners are mostly uneducated. However, the situation tends to be different in Iran.

“The phenomenon of hating Arabs is very common among intellectuals in Iran,” he said.

He added that religious people also frequently express their resentment of Arabs, which usually comes in the form of curses directed at Sunnis.

“As a matter of fact, Iranians’ constant attacks on Sunnis stem from their hatred of Arabs.”

This hatred, Zibakalam argued, is not the product of the current hegemony conflict in the region, as many people might suspect, but has its roots in history.

“Persians will never forget their defeat at the hands of Arabs in the Battle of Qadisiya 1,400 years ago. It is as if a fire keeps seething under the ashes and is waiting for the right moment to explode,” he said.

Iran’s attempts to gain supremacy in the region are not triggered by political ambition as much as by a racist drive that pushes Iranians to prove they are superior, the professor said.

“Whenever Iran issues any fiery statement about our neighbors in the U.A.E, Qatar, or Kuwait, you can easily detect that they revolve around a belief that Persians are superior. Listen to our foreign minister, parliament speaker, or even mosque imams, and you will notice that derogatory tone they use and which focuses on the racial and not the political superiority of Persians.”

He cited the example of the U.A.E., which many Iranians, politicians and clergy derides in their statements.

“They would say that if Iranians just blow some air across the Persian Gulf, they would wipe the U.A.E off the map,” he said.

When asked whether the stance of the people is similar to that of the government as far as hatred of Arabs is concerned, Zibakalam replied in the affirmative.

“Yes, people are like the government, and may be even more racist and intolerant.”

For example, he said, when a couple of years ago the U.A.E said it was not going to drop its opposition to Iran’s occupation of three disputed Islands in the Gulf and referring to the “Persian Gulf,” large numbers of people rallied in front of the U.A.E embassy in Tehran with a cake that had 35 candles: they were making fun of the U.A.E’s 35-year history, compared to Iran’s 2,500.”

He added that Iranians also criticize their compatriots who travel to Arab countries. For example, they always ask why they would go and spend their money in Arab countries, while they never do the same with Turkey, where huge numbers of Iranians go.

“This even applies to religious trips to the Arab world, while if Mecca or Karbala were in Turkey or Malaysia, Iranians would not have a problem with people going there,” Zibakalam said.

He added that Persian racism against Arabs becomes very clear in language, and that the establishment of the Persian Language Institute was intended to carry out a plan to remove Arabic words from the Persian language.

“Arabic words that have been in the Persian language for more than 1,00 years would be removed even though they are mentioned in great literary works like The Shahnameh and the poetry of Rumi, all of which are parts of our history.”

Riaz Haq said...

Hatred of Arabs deeply rooted in Persians, says Iranian intellectual

He added that Persian racism against Arabs becomes very clear in language, and that the establishment of the Persian Language Institute was intended to carry out a plan to remove Arabic words from the Persian language.

“Arabic words that have been in the Persian language for more than 1,00 years would be removed even though they are mentioned in great literary works like The Shahnameh and the poetry of Rumi, all of which are parts of our history.”

Zibakalam also admitted that this “racism” for which Iranians are known is not practiced against Arabs only, but also against other non-Persian ethnicities inside Iran.

“If for example we take jokes as an indication of the way we view people, you will find how the Turkmens and the Lur are the most ridiculed in our jokes.”

That same goes for other groups, such as Kurds and the Baluchi, he added.

Zibakalam was born in 1948 to a Shiite family in Tehran and obtained his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Bradford in the U.K. He is currently a member of the Scientific Association at Tehran University.

Zibakalam was a critic of the Shah and a supporter of former Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadeq. He was sent to jail for two years during the Shah’s reign.

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Zebakalam held several government positions and played a major role in the Iranian Cultural Revolution, in which academics who did not toe the line of the new republic were dismissed. He, however, expressed his regret for taking part in the revolution and issued a direct apology.

One of the things known about Zebakalam is that he has never belonged to any party, and that he criticizes both conservatives and reformists. He is also said to be close to former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Riaz Haq said...

Maysam Behravesh: How do you think the nuclear deal will affect Iran’s regional policy? Will it become more assertive and aggressive or moderate and restrained?

Sadegh Zibakalam: I am not sure about this to be frank, because ordinary people do not have a strong say in foreign policy making, particularly in places like Syria and Yemen. It is possible that once Iran feels powerful, it may adopt a more assertive position towards Saudi Arabia, but it is also possible that common sense prevails and the authorities extend an olive branch to the Saudis despite the fact our relations with the United States are entering a thaw. Tehran may invite Riyadh to engage in cooperation with the purpose of resolving the crisis in Yemen or in Iraq. In other words, though Iranians may now be feeling stronger than before, common sense may incline them to extend a hand of friendship to Saudi Arabia. They can make friendly gestures like declaring that Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, or president Hassan Rouhani or foreign minister Javad Zarif would like to pay a visit to King Salman.

Why do the Arab states in the region, not least Saudi Arabia, oppose Iran’s efforts to improve bilateral relations? After all the Rouhani administration has been going to great lengths to mend fences with Riyadh.

Like many others, the Saudis were waiting for the outcome of the nuclear negotiations. That is, they wanted to see if Iran arrives at an agreement with the United States or not. So in a sense, the Saudi disdain for Rouhani’s olive branch has partly been due to their uncertainty about the results of the nuclear talks. But now that the accord has been clinched, the Saudis may welcome those gestures and efforts to improve bilateral relations.

Another significant point is that relations depend on whether Iran will strike a triumphalist tone and approach Saudis from the position of superiority, or exhibit an amicable gesture and approach them from the position of friendship. Part of the Saudi refusal to embrace Rouhani’s olive branch goes back to their probable perception that Iran has perhaps been approaching them in a triumphalist manner, as a victor, implying that we brought you to your knees in Syria and kept Bashar al-Assad in power, or we managed to bring 90% of Yemen under the control of our proxies. Therefore, if Iran extends an olive branch from a position of superiority and supremacy, it is natural that it will be turned down. I think these friendly efforts can come to fruition only when we make it clear that we want to work in concert with them to resolve the situation in Yemen, that it is not about victory or triumph of one side over the other, that no side has been defeated, and that we just want to restore stability and security to Yemen with your assistance.
Sadegh Zibakalam: Anti-Americanism at a 'dead end' in Iran

Maysam Behravesh: How do you think the state will use the financial resources released after the removal of sanctions?

Sadegh Zibakalam: I think part of these funds will be invested in the domestic economy and infrastructural projects. Part of it will cover our expenses in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. And finally, given that we have a state economy, part of it will be squandered here and there. In fact, it has always been the case that when we reap some huge fortune and revenues, it prompts corruption in its wake. We saw this even under the Shah before the 1979 revolution, particularly during the seventies when the price of oil quadrupled, as it did during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when oil prices exceeded $100 a barrel. So, I believe part of it will be wasted in spite of all the regulations, supervisions and inspections in place.

Riaz Haq said...

Overcoming the Arab-Persian divide: On bigotry and racism
Persian and Arab bourgeois nationalism has paved the way for racism and disregard of a rich and diverse common past.

byHamid Dabashi

The history of both Persian and Arab bourgeois nationalism is solidly predicated on a sustained genealogy of racist bigotry, partaking in its European prototype. Today the legitimate criticism of the Islamic republic easily degenerates into a nasty Islamophobia among a wide spectrum of Iranian bourgeois liberalism that fancies itself "secular". There is a very brittle and porous line between that Islamophobia and a rabid anti-Arab racism, astonishingly shared by a significant portion of the selfsame constituency for whom a delusional notion of "Cyrus the Great" is the ahistorical panacea of an entire history of imperial nostalgia.

This racism is not limited to the history of Islamic republic and extends well into the Pahlavi period and before it to the Qajar dynasty, when leading Iranian intellectuals ranging from Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani coming down to Sadeq Hedayat, harboured the most pernicious anti-Arab racism. They categorically attributed what they thought was Iranian backwardness to Islam, Islam to Arabs, Arabs to fanaticism and stupidity and thus began ludicrously to celebrate a lopsided reading of the pre-Islamic Iranian history that was informed mostly by the figment of their perturbed imagination.

Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

"An Arab-Iranian poet and human rights activist, Hashem Shaabani," according to a report published on Al Jazeera, "has been executed for being an 'enemy of God' and threatening national security". The report further added that, "The Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal [had] found Shaabani and 13 other people guilty of 'waging war on God' and spreading 'corruption on earth'."

These are standard, now almost cliche, charges based on Shia jurisprudence that the judiciary branch of the Islamic Republic has regularly brought against people they consider a threat to their state security. In this particular case, Hashem Shaabani and his fellow defendants were charged with "separatist terrorism". In a follow-up report, Huffington Post identified Shaabani as "a member of the Arabic-speaking Ahvazis ethnic minority".

Labour migration and cosmopolitanism

Much confusion and disinformation cloud the circumstances in which such atrocious violations of civil liberties are perpetrated in Iran and much of its violent neighbourhood. I was born and raised in the city of Ahvaz. The term "Arabic-speaking Ahvazi ethnic minority" is a misnomer.

Ahvaz is a major cosmopolitan city in southern Iran, the capital of the oil-rich Khuzestan province, which has attracted labour migrants from all over the country. The nature of urbanisation and labour migration in Ahvaz and other major Iranian cities has created a mosaic of ethnicised communities brought together by the force and necessity of labour and not by the delusional fantasies of bourgeois nationalism of one sort or another.

My own father came to Ahvaz from Bushehr as a labourer for the Iranian national railroad and my mother's family from Dezful. Neither of them were Arabs. From Azerbaijan and Khorasan in the north to Isfahan and Yazd in the centre and down to the coastal regions of the Gulf, labour migrants regularly come to Ahvaz in search of work. As the capital of Khuzestan, Ahvaz belongs to all of them, and as such the term "Arabic-speaking Ahvazis ethnic minority" is categorically flawed.

Riaz Haq said...

the conflicts between Arabs and Persians can be traced back to the pre-Islamic past of West Asia when Arab tribes, proud of the richness and eloquence of their language Arabic, used to look down upon all the non-Arabs in general, and Persians in particular, as Ajam or deaf. Spreading Islam and building their vast empire in the later years with more worldly pursuits they started regarding themselves as a natural ruling race. They came to enjoy a certain sense of religious and racial superiority. Even the latest statement of Saudi grand mufti called Iranians “children of Magi” in a clear reference to the pre-Islamic Zoroastrian religion of Iran.

On their Part Iranians have been very proud of their rich and ancient civilisation. The classic epic of Persian literature ‘Shahnameh’ written by poet Firdousi one thousand years ago poignantly depicts this pride. The epic denounces the Arab conquest of Persia in 651 AD as an effort by Arab Bedouins to occupy the sacred throne of Kian (named after Kowyani, a heroic character from ancient Persian mythology).

Although Persians converted to Islam but they could never develop fondness for Arab domination and in keeping with founding tradition of the Persian empire they aspired for revival of their imperial glory and regarded Arab expansion as an encroachment on their sphere of influence. With the passage of time Iran gradually turned into a centre of Shi’a Islam competing with Arabs in its different incarnations. Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State in his famous book ‘ World Order’ writing about Iranian resilience says, “Persia retained its confidence in its cultural superiority. It bowed to its conquerors as a temporary concession but retained its independence through its world view, charting “great inner spaces” in poetry and mysticism and revering its connection with heroic ancient rulers recounted in Book of Kings. Meanwhile , Persia distilled its experience managing all manners of territories and political challenges into sophisticated canon of diplomacy placing a premium on endurance, shrewd analysis of geopolitical realities, and the psychological manipulation of adversaries.”

Riaz Haq said...

#SaudiaArabia sees #Trump's #Riyadh visit and #US-#Arab-#Islamic summit as a golden opportunity to assert leadership

US President Donald Trump’s first official foreign trip since taking office will include three key summits on May 20-21, attended by 55 leaders and representatives from across the Islamic world, as well as several business activities, cultural, intellectual and sports celebrations.
Observers looking to follow Trump’s visit and related events can now do so via the official website which was launched Tuesday at, along with associated mobile apps and social media feeds.
Held under the slogan “together we prevail,” the main events will be the Saudi-US Summit, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-US Summit, and the Arab-Islamic-American Summit. In addition, a high-profile counter-terrorism event will be held at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, as well as the Tweeps 2017 social media summit.
The high-profile visit “will renew our mutual commitment to global security and further strengthen already deep business, cultural and political ties,” the website said.

On his first day in the Kingdom, Trump will visit the King Abdulaziz Historical Center, a cultural landmark highlighting the prominent history of the Arabian Peninsula and its historical role in the spread of Islam.

The Saudi-US Summit will also feature a series of bilateral meetings between King Salman and Trump, and “focus on re-affirming the long-standing friendship, and strengthening the close political, economic, security and cultural bonds between the two nations.”
The GCC-US Summit, held at the King Abdulaziz Convention Center in Riyadh, will see GCC leaders meet with Trump to discuss threats to regional security and stability and the building of stronger commercial ties between the US and the Gulf.
The Arab Islamic American Summit will see Trump meet with leaders of the world’s Islamic nations “to address ways of building more robust and effective security partnerships to counter and prevent the growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism around the globe through promoting tolerance and moderation.”
The visit by Trump also coincides with a string of associated events, including one entitled Tweeps 2017. That event — held at the Ritz Carlton Riyadh — will see the Twitter-loving US president meet with figures including King Abdallah of Jordan, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. That event will include a variety of panels, including one on countering radical views on social media platforms, which will be moderated by Faisal J. Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News.

Riaz Haq said...

Nawaz Sharif has a tough balancing act in the Iran-Saudi conflict.

Saudi Arabia hosts millions of Pakistani workers who send billions of dollars home that help Pak economy. Sharif did not decline an invite to the Riyadh conference. We know Saudis and Emiratis were very angry when Pakistan turned down participation in Yemen conflict.

Iran is a neighbor with whom Pakistan wants to maintain friendly relations. A prominent role for Nawaz Sharif at this summit would not be welcome by either Iran or others who oppose Saudis and support Iran.

I think it's going to continue to be a challenge for Pakistan to stay out of the Saudi-Iran regional conflict without upsetting either side.

Riaz Haq said...

Nuclear #Pakistan Sees The #Saudi Game Against #Qatar and #Iran and Says, 'No Thanks' … via @thedailybeast

Pakistan is content to sit back and watch. There are no plans to follow in the footsteps of Saudi vassals like Yemen and the Maldives and cut ties with Qatar, according to the Foreign Ministry.
“The overriding imperative is that Islamabad keeps a healthy distance between itself and the conflicts raging across the Arab world,” The Express Tribune said in an editorial the morning after the break. “This is not our fight.”
That unnamed government official mentioned earlier said much the same in more diplomatic language.
“It is unfortunate that those latent animosities have surfaced again,” he told me over the phone. “We never like to see our friends squabbling, but it certainly relieves the pressure on us.”
You could almost hear him smile.

With the Arabs lashing out at each other—a family feud on steroids—nuclear-armed Pakistan is happy to back away from the coming fight with Iran.

06.06.17 5:50 PM ET
ISLAMABAD—The wheels are already coming off Donald Trump’s grand Muslim anti-terror coalition and there is a quiet sigh of relief here in the Pakistani capital.
It all appeared so simple when viewed from the glittering palaces of Trump’s Riyadh summit. The U.S., Saudi Arabia and dozens of other Muslims nations versus Iran in a “battle between good and evil” that will “destroy the terror that threatens the world.”

It’s nice when a solution to global conflict fits in 140 characters.
Now the thin veneer of unity has been torn asunder with the announcement that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies are severing diplomatic relations with neighbor Qatar, a card-carrying member of the putative anti-terror coalition, and cutting off all land, air and sea ties.
“This decisive decision” was being taken because of “grave violations” including “adopting various terrorist and sectarian groups” including “the Muslim Brotherhood Group, Daesh (ISIS) and al Qaeda,” the Saudis said in their declaration, without betraying a hint of irony.
Who knew politics in the Greater Middle East were so complicated?

The Pakistanis, among others.
The Riyadh summit “has widened the sectarian divide in the Muslim world,” the nation’s leading newspaper, Dawn, declared over the weekend as the latest Saudi-Qatari tiff was about to transform into an all-out diplomatic and economic assault.
“The Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance against terrorism may have some counter-militancy aims, but it is also increasingly clear that it has been conceived by the kingdom as an anti-Iran alliance,” the paper said in an editorial titled “Dangerous Alliance.”
In a blur of glittering chandeliers, glowing orbs, and billions of dollars in trade deals (along with a tidy gift to Ivanka Trump’s favorite charity), Saudi Arabia had deftly transformed itself into America’s soul-mate and Iran secured its place as Public Enemy #1.
All that complex stuff about the so-called Islamic State being a Sunni terror group that gains its inspiration—and financing—from elements in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, while Iran is Shiite and at war with ISIS, was left at the palace door.
Ditto the fact that America’s bare-chested, muscle-flexing entry into the Middle East’s seminal religious and geographic divide left Pakistan—a Sunni-majority country with a sizable Shiite population —in a no-win situation. After all, while Saudi Arabia provides billions in aid to Muslim Pakistan, Iran is right next door.

Riaz Haq said...

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan to boost ties in different fields
By M. Ishtiaq | Published — Wednesday 17 January 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in a number of different fields.
The two sides signed and exchanged documents of protocol at the end of the two-day long 11th Saudi-Pakistan Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday.
In the closing session, Pakistan’s Minister of Commerce Pervaiz Malik invited Saudi Arabia to invest in renewable energy projects, and in the agriculture, oil exploration and livestock sectors.
“The launching of Vision 2030 in the Kingdom will surely usher in the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the construction and services sectors … I would like my Saudi brothers to increase the quota of jobs for Pakistani workers in those sectors,” said Malik.
He also suggested the Saudi government could establish a “Saudi-specific training sector” in Pakistan to teach the particular skills needed for the Saudi job market.
The head of Saudi Arabia’s delegation, Majid Al-Qassabi, minister for commerce and investment, said the Kingdom was keen to enhance strategic relations with “our brotherly country Pakistan.”
The Saudi minister admitted that the current volume of trade between the two countries is only “moderate.”
“We need to enhance communication, we need to identify opportunities,” he said. “We need to promote investment opportunities, from both ends. We need to clear all the obstructions, all the challenges, that (inhibit) the ease of doing business.”
The 34-member Saudi delegation included participants from 20 different government entities, the chamber of commerce, and the private sector.
“We are really keen to identify opportunities, we really need to work to establish a long strategic relationship,” Al-Qassabi said.
The minister also announced that Riyadh will host the Saudi-Pakistan Business Forum in the second half of this year. “Hopefully that will be the launching pad for new business and investment relations between the two countries,” he said.