Sunday, January 31, 2016

Taliban Target Pak Education; PPP-MQM Karachi Conflict; Pak Foreign Sec in Silicon Valley

Why did the Pakistan Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif feel compelled to announce his unwillingness to accept service extension beyond November 2016? How will it impact the Army’s ongoing anti-terror campaign? Is it good or bad for Pakistan’s democracy and stability?

Why are the Taliban terrorists attacking Pakistani students and teachers? Is this a new phenomenon? Or did it start in 2012 in Swat with the assassination attempt on Malala Yousufzai’s life? Is the government response adequate? Does the entire society need to recognize the problem and act to protect education in Pakistan?

 Has the PPP government in Sindh given the elected local government the power and the resources it needs to govern the city of Karachi? Is the MQM justified in its protests on this issue? What will be the outcome of this tussle?

What was the conversation with Pakistan foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry in Silicon Valley? Does it show that he and the foreign office understand what it will take achieve regional peace and security?

Talk4Pak team members with Pakistan foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry in Silicon Valley, CA.
Photo Credit: Azmi Gill Urdu Times

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (

Taliban Target Pak Education; PPP-MQM Karachi... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Taliban Target Pak Education; PPP-MQM Karachi Conflict; Pak Foreign Sec in Silicon Valley from WBT Productions on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Anti-Terror Campaign

Malala Yousufzai Ignored

Karachi Local Government

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel


Anonymous said...

Riaz Haq said...

#US @StateDept considers re-hyphenation of #India, #Pakistan. The Hindu …
This will be a reversal of the de-hyphenation policy started by Bush.

Seven years after the State Department was restructured to ‘de-hyphenate’ U.S. relations with India and with Pakistan, it is considering a reversal of the move.

De-hyphenating refers to a policy started by the U.S. government under President Bush, but sealed by the Obama administration, of dealing with India and Pakistan in different silos, without referring to their bilateral relations. It enabled the U.S. to build closer military and strategic ties with India without factoring in the reaction from Pakistan, and to continue its own strategy in Afghanistan with the help of the Pakistan military without referring back to India.

‘Active’ consideration

A proposal to re-merge the office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) back with the Bureau of South and Central Asia (SCA) that handles India, the rest of the subcontinent and Central Asian republics is under “active” consideration, senior-level sources told The Hindu.

The re-merger proposal is ostensibly timed with the international troops pullout from Afghanistan.

Ministry of External Affairs officials would not confirm whether they had been informed of the move they described as an “internal” matter of the U.S. government. However, asked about the possible impact of bringing India and Pakistan under one bureau again, the former National Security Adviser, Shiv Shankar Menon, said: “It looks like a re-hyphenation of the India-Pakistan equation that is not in our interest. Our relationship has grown because it stood on its own, as it is important that bilateral relations with India won’t be overshadowed by its relations with the region.”

The de-hyphenation policy of the U.S. was crystallised when the SRAP was set up in 2009 soon after President Barack Obama had taken over, with the appointment of Richard Holbrooke.

At the time, Mr. Holbrooke had hoped to include India in his mandate, and even to discuss the resolution of Kashmir as a means to extract greater cooperation from Pakistan. India had strongly opposed the move.

According to a diplomatic cable published by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks which was accessed by The Hindu, the then External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, had objected to this when U.S. Ambassador David Mulford paid a farewell call on him.

“He expressed his deep concern about a special envoy with a broad regional mandate that could be interpreted to include Kashmir, and shared his hope that the U.S.-India relationship not be viewed through the lens of regional crises,” Mr. Mulford recorded of Mr. Mukherjee’s message. (

Subsequently, Mr. Holbrooke remained only engaged with NATO and Af-Pak affairs until his death some years later, and was followed by subsequent SRAPs. “Even when U.S. officials wanted to discuss the situation in Afghanistan or Pakistan with us, we would insist they didn’t travel to us via Islamabad,” a senior MEA official working on the Americas desk in those years told The Hindu.

Mr. Menon, who was Foreign Secretary at the time, had also repeated the message of de-hyphenating the ties in his talks with the then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, other cables from WikiLeaks record. “We didn’t want to be party to U.S. actions in Afghanistan at the time,” explained Mr. Menon.

“We don’t believe in talking to the Taliban, for example, so how would we manage that conversation.”

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: " "

Hoodbhoy doesn't seem to be paying attention.

He doesn't see that Modi is following in Zia's footsteps while Pakistan is starting to reject Zia's path and going in the opposite direction.

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

You must strongly protest against this re-hyphenation of India and Pakkkiland. Pakkkiland doesnt get any positive marks by being clubbed with slumdog India.


Riaz Haq said...

Majumdar: " You must strongly protest against this re-hyphenation of India and Pakkkiland. Pakkkiland doesnt get any positive marks by being clubbed with slumdog India."

Please read the following:

Tambi Dude said...

Zia died 28 yrs ago. How long are you going to blame him. Wait. Pakis like blame everyone for their ills, like blaming US for the 1980s anti russia jihad which started the jihad culture. As Husain Haqani asked "how come terrorist Mukti Bahani never indulged in anti state terrorism after 1971".

Pak will have APS/Chardassa incident every month as long as they continue to encourage good jihadis. The mumbai attackers were told that dying for Jihad is the best death one can ever aspire for.

Read this:

Riaz Haq said...

RK: "Zia died 28 yrs ago. How long are you going to blame him."

Zia, along with the US CIA and the Saudis, created the supply chain of Jihadis who are now attacking Pakistan.

It was a political battle during Cold War in which religion was used as a tool.

This is not a blame game but a fact recognized by many in the know, including Americans like ex Sec of State Hillary Clinton.

Watch this:

Hopewins said...

RH: "Modi is following in Zia's footsteps"

Unlike Zia, Modi was elected.
Unlike Zia, Modi has loud and powerful opposition.
Unlike Zia, Modi can be kicked out.

This is the real difference between their democracy and our military-state.

Riaz Haq said...

HW: "Unlike Zia, Modi was elected...."

Being elected or otherwise makes little difference as far as controlling the state power and resources to make policy and key appointments are concerned. We saw that with Hitler and Mussolini.

Modi is doing exactly what Zia did: Rewriting curricula; making key appointments to educational and cultural institutions; brainwashing young Hindus to reinforce fanatical, extremist beliefs in them.

The full effects of these actions will not be apparent immediately; the full effects and results will be seen long after Modi is gone and a new generation of Hindus take power to complete his extremist agenda.

Duramed said...

Respectfully disagree. You need greater than 2/3 majority in Lok & Rajya Sabha and before that the judiciary has to okay the constitutionality of the change.

These references to hitler and Mussolini are simply a form of shock talk.

Tambi Dude said...


Exactly. I am surprised that Riaz is letting his hatred for India cloud his judgement. When Modi can't even pass GST bill, how do you expect him to pass any bill or law which is against secularism. Every non BJP party will be against it.

Ever since Modi got elected in May 2014, doomsday prediction is going on. They were telling that India will have riots on a daily basis. So far 0 riots has occured. True there has been few deplorable incidents like Dadri, but the media ensured that it gets coverage. BJP were held accountable in the Bihar election.

I have no doubt that if Pak had democracy like India, the self correcting system of democracy would have ensured that none of Zia's idiocy like Hudood law, Blasphemy law would have seen the light.

Riaz Haq said...

Duramed: "Respectfully disagree. You need greater than 2/3 majority in Lok & Rajya Sabha and before that the judiciary has to okay the constitutionality of the change."

There's a lot "democratic" governments can do without requiring legislation as Hitler and Mussolini showed.

Even in America, the world's oldest democracy, the US President can exercise executive authority to transform society.

Modi governments actions and the actions of state governments led by BJP such as changing curricula and making key appointments to educational and cultural institutions do not require legislation. Such actions that indoctrinate young people in a young demographics like India's have far reaching consequences for society.

Duramed said...

The turn around time to change textbooks is 4years. It is expensive and time consuming. PM office changes every five years. Your argument is not appropriate. Additionally, in India there are two boards of education, State and Central. Central board has more independence than the state boards. Schools follow one board or the other. It is impossible to change text books in a matter of months or even years!

Riaz Haq said...

Duramed: "The turn around time to change textbooks is 4years. It is expensive and time consuming. "

Your assertion is debunked by the impact BJP rule is already having on kids' minds in India.

You cannot blame Bhavana Vaja, 12, for telling you that the first aeroplane was invented during the mythical Dvapara Yuga, when the Hindu God Ram flew from Sri Lanka to Ayodhya in India with his wife Sita and brother Laxman in a Pushpaka Vimana - a swan­-shaped chariot of flowers.

By claiming that they familiarise students with India's ancient heritage, some books printed by the education department of western Gujarat state teach children that aeroplanes existed in India since Lord Ram's era. And that is just a sample of how religious content is included in science, history, environment, and mathematics books.

"Every week we are asked to do projects in our science and social studies classes. We refer to these books then," says Saras Solanki, age 9.

The Gujarat government has introduced nine new books this academic year for classes 1 to 12. These books, written by Hindu nationalist ideologues, have been delivered to 42,000 elementary schools across the state free of cost.

Eight out of the nine books have been penned by Dina Nath Batra, founder of the Hindu nationalist organisation, Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti. Batra was responsible for forcing Pengiun India Publishers to withdraw all copies of Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus in February this year.

Enthused by its success, Batra went on to force two other publishers - Aleph and Orient Blackswan - to withdraw books that he deemed "hurtful to Hindu religious sentiments".

In the 10 months since Modi’s election, Hindu right-wing groups such as the RSS have expanded their influence across much of India’s government, say analysts. The groups’ role has become especially crucial in the formulation of new Indian education policies slated for adoption later this year.

The Council of Historical Research plays a major role in those reforms — it funds all serious historical scholarship in the country. But it’s just one of many influential groups infiltrated by Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) elements and being used to peddle their views.

“What we need in India is value-based education, education that will build character,” said Dinanath Batra, a leader in Shiksha Bachao Andolan, a conservative pro-Hindu group invited by the government to make recommendations for the new education policy. “We can’t do that without religion, so religious studies must become a part of school curriculum. The second thing that is required is a complete overhaul of the current setup — every single textbook should be rewritten to reflect national pride.”

To that end, Batra recently persuaded authorities in the northern Indian state of Haryana to use the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad Gita, as part of the school curriculum.

“Students, how would you go about drawing a map of India? Do you know that countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Burma are part of undivided India? These countries are part of Akhand Bharat.” Tejomay Bharat (Shining India) by Dinanath Batra
Tejomay India (Shining India) is just one of six of Batra's books made "must read" by education ministry for students at all of 42,000 primary and secondary schools in the State of Gujarat, the home of India's Hindu Nationalist prime minister Mr. Narendra Modi.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's Military-Democracy Complex. #NawazSharif being pragmatic in current civil-military balance | Stratfor …


Pakistan's power-sharing deal between civilian and military leaders will keep the potential for a military coup low.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will pragmatically accommodate the army by giving Gen. Raheel Sharif substantial influence over the country's foreign policy and national security.
However, terrorism, the army's economic interests and the conflict in Afghanistan will ensure Pakistan's military a prominent political role through 2016.

The Pakistani military has always played an important role in Pakistani politics. For nearly 70 years, the army has defined the country's national security priorities, sometimes from the seat of government itself, and many commanders have been placed in prominent economic and political positions. In keeping with that tradition, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appointed Gen. Raheel Sharif as the chief of army staff, the most visible and powerful position in the country, in November 2013. The general wasted no time gaining influence in Pakistan's foreign and defense affairs.

This is certainly not the first time a general has attained such power in Pakistan, and it is unlikely to be the last. However, civilian leaders such as the prime minister are gaining political power of their own lately, using the military to reinforce their burgeoning democratic ideals. This satisfies the military's desire for influence while also lowering the likelihood of a coup, but the military will nonetheless try to maintain its relevance in the economy and the government, all while continuing its historical role as protector of the country.


Democracy Resurgent

In light of such history, Gen. Sharif's sudden rise to political prominence could be disconcerting for the government. Many of the conditions under which previous coups occurred — economic stagnation, weak civilian institutions, complications with India — are relevant today, while escalating Taliban attacks continue to threaten Pakistan's national security.

But even though the military is the most powerful institution in the country, the potential for another military takeover of the government is low. First, the military's image was tarnished by Musharraf's controversial nine-year tenure. His decision to liberalize the media early in his term helped to undermine his efforts to sack Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry in March 2007. Media coverage shifted public opinion against Musharraf, and the Supreme Court reinstated Chaudhry four months later. Musharraf's decision to suspend the constitution on Nov. 3, 2007, further galvanized public opinion against him, and, by extension, against military rule.


Second, Prime Minister Sharif is a pragmatist — something that lowers the chances of a coup. Mindful of the events of 1999, he will accommodate the army's desire for influence. For example, after winning his third term in 2013, he tried expanding civilian control over defense. But the protests of August 2014 — in which Tehreek-e-Insaaf party leader Imran Khan demanded that the military dismiss Sharif's government on charges of election fraud — forced the prime minister to give back some influence over foreign policy and national security to the military.

JAN said...

AND YET NO ONE DARES TO REPEAL THE HUDOOD BLASPHEMY LAWS! 40 YEARS AND COUNTING! When Pakistanis do that only then can lecture others. Democracy is imperfect and a work in progress. There are deficiencies and imperfections but they are voices that contain these maladies. Pakistanis, who have very little experience of being raised in a democratic system do not understand that concept. Americans and the British among others do.

Riaz Haq said...


That's exactly the point I'm making: Once you set reactionary forces in motion, it;s hard to reverse them. Indians need to learn a lesson here.

BTW, India, too, has many highly intolerant laws on the books that no one dares repeal. Take for example laws discriminating against gays and blasphemy laws.

Riaz Haq said...

Try renting an apartment using a #Muslim name (In #India ), Shashi Tharoor to Anupam Kher. #Modi #BJP #Islamophobia …

Indian Congress leader Shashi Tharoor while defending his Twitter argument with veteran actor Anupam Kher, said if the actor is scared to openly call himself Hindu in India, he should try renting an apartment with a Muslim name.

During an interview Kher confessed that he fears “saying I’m a Hindu”. “In this country, I’m scared to say that if I wear a tilak (mark worn by a Hindu on the forehead to indicate caste, sect) and a gerua (saffron colored clothes), then I will be branded as an RSS (right-wing party) guy or a BJP fanatic,” said Kher.

Today, I’m scared to say I’m Hindu: Anupam Kher

A spat broke out as Tharoor tweeted against Kher’s comment, stating that though India has people from various religions, the country is recognised by Hindus at large. Kher in reply to the comment called Tharoor a ‘Congi Chamcha’.

Stating that minorities in India are the ones who have to struggle much harder than Hindus to be accepted by society, Tharoor in a column on NDTV said, “Try renting an apartment, for instance, while using a Muslim name: there are many parts of many towns where you will be turned away with one specious excuse or another. And yet Muslims are expected to grin and bear it, and move on. ”

Blind Muslim teacher barred from renting flat in India

“So when I said, truthfully, that I openly, and without self-consciousness, say I am Hindu, I am acknowledging that it’s far easier for me to do so than it is for an Indian Muslim or Christian to wear his faith on his sleeve without being typecast for doing so. And when I added that I am not the Sangh’s kind of Hindu, I meant that I am not belligerent about my Hinduism,” he wrote.

Anonymous said...

Shashi Taroor is forgetting which party ruled for 60 yrs from 1947-2014. If after that, muslims can't get an apartment, what does it tell about their secularism.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Shashi Taroor is forgetting which party ruled for 60 yrs from 1947-2014. If after that, muslims can't get an apartment, what does it tell about their secularism."

It's an evil that pervades through the entire Hindu society; the rulers can and have made it worse with the free reign given to bigots under Modi.

A World Values Survey has reported that Indian society is the most bigoted in the world.


Amjad N. said...

I happen to be in Mumbai and read this today. Thought you'd find it interesting.

Riaz Haq said...

Amjad: "I happen to be in Mumbai and read this today. Thought you'd find it interesting. Regards."

Thanks for sharing.

I think Pakistan currently has the upper hand in both corridor diplomacy and proxy wars in the region, particularly since 2014 when Pakistan Army started acting forcefully against India's proxies, the TTP and the Baloch insurgents.

I expect India to continue to counter Pakistan in both more forcefully as CPEC nears reality.

Anonymous said...

"Pakistan Army started acting forcefully against India's proxies, the TTP and the Baloch insurgents."

But the indian proxy is still able to kill at regular intervals, be it school or univ.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "But the indian proxy is still able to kill at regular intervals, be it school or univ."

Yes, but the numbers show a dramatic decline in terror incidents and civilian death toll in the last two years.

It indicates success of the Pak Army Ops against Indian proxies.

The Baloch insurgency has been severely weakened to the point that it;s no more than nuisance now.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian prime minister #Modi claims genetic science existed in ancient #India. #BJP

Hindu nationalists have long propagated their belief that many discoveries of modern science and technology were known to the people of ancient India. But now for the first time an Indian prime minister has endorsed these claims, maintaining that cosmetic surgery and reproductive genetics were practiced thousands of years ago.

As proof, Narendra Modi gave the examples of the warrior Karna from the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata and of the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha.

“We can feel proud of what our country achieved in medical science at one point of time,” the prime minister told a gathering of doctors and other professionals at a hospital in Mumbai on Saturday. “We all read about Karna in the Mahabharata. If we think a little more, we realise that the Mahabharata says Karna was not born from his mother’s womb. This means that genetic science was present at that time. That is why Karna could be born outside his mother’s womb.”

Modi went on: “We worship Lord Ganesha. There must have been some plastic surgeon at that time who got an elephant’s head on the body of a human being and began the practice of plastic surgery.”

While much of Modi’s speech was devoted to how to improve healthcare facilities in modern India, he also dwelt on ancient India’s “capabilities” in several fields.

“There must be many areas in which our ancestors made big contributions,” he said. “Some of these are well recognised. If we talk about space science, our ancestors had, at some point, displayed great strengths in space science. What people like Aryabhata had said centuries ago is being recognised by science today. What I mean to say is that we are a country which had these capabilities. We need to regain these.”

This is not the first time that Modi has publicly articulated such ideas. But he did so earlier as chief minister of Gujarat state, and not as prime minister. He also wrote the foreword to a book for school students in Gujarat which maintains, among other things, that the Hindu God Rama flew the first aeroplane and that stem cell technology was known in ancient India.

Modi’s claims at the Mumbai hospital initially went unreported in the Indian media, except on the website

But on Monday night Headlines Today TV talk show host Karan Thapar focused on it in his primetime programme, with opposition politicians criticising Modi. The speech has also been posted on the prime minister’s official website. No Indian scientist has come forward as yet to challenge him.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan defies West's stereotypes of #Muslims: More #girls in #Pakistan colleges than boys. #MalalaYousafzai

Malala is made to tell a particular story about people in the global South, generally, and Pakistan, specifically.

She is represented as the girl who defied the culture in Pakistan, and who now embodies a transnational, secular modernity exemplified by her emphasis on independence, choice, advocacy for freedom, and arguments for gender equality.

Instead of being a symbol of the courage of Muslims and Pakistanis to stand up against local forms of violence, Malala is presented as an exception.

This narrative of Malala sustains the fa├žade of Islam as an oppressive religion and Muslims as embroiled in pre-modern sensibilities.

Transnational girls’ education campaigns, such as the Nike Foundation’s “Girl Effect” and the White House’s “Let Girls Learn,” similarly paint a picture of black and brown populations as pre-modern, and still not educating girls. They call on the feminist sensibilities of benevolent citizens to save their Muslim sisters.

Such formulations, however, not only re-articulate the binary of victim/heroine, but also abstract education from a complex web of issues such as state corruption, the hollowed-out welfare system, and lack of access to jobs, among others.

In the case of Pakistan, for instance, research shows that girls are in school; in fact, there are more girls in higher education than boys!

Girls’ education – or, lack thereof – thus, has become a way in which Western institutions have established their own superiority and, simultaneously, the inferiority of Islam and Muslims, deeming interventions necessary and even ethically imperative.

In the context of these deep and emotional attachments to girls and education, girls who advocate for education (like Malala) and the school infrastructure itself have become prominent targets for extremists as a means to express their anti-West, anti-United States and anti-Pakistan sentiments.

It enables them to strike at the heart of what liberal global North deems as its most prized project.

Importantly, the extremists represent their attacks as a continuation of their fight against what they perceive to be colonial and foreign influence – mass schooling in Pakistan being a legacy of the British colonizers who displaced local, indigenous traditions and systems of learning.

This is a serious critique that we must take into account if we hope to curb this war on education.

It is time, therefore, that we scrutinize the loud debate over girls’ education and dislodge the monopoly of Western perspective on it, thereby making it a less potent site for extremists.

A critical way in which we can further both these ends is by recognizing the long traditions of learning that are indigenous to Muslims and Pakistan, attending to the areas and systems of support identified by girls themselves, as well as supporting organizations such as the Aga Khan Development Network, which ground their efforts in their Muslim ethics and seek to improve the quality of life of populations in Pakistan (and beyond).

Doing so will not only allow us to further our efforts for global education, but make space for alternative traditions and recognize humanity’s many histories.

Salma said...

Higher education in most developing countries is still very elitist. The focus must be on girl's primary to high school education. That is where Pakistan will benefit the most. Read Aamir Latif report on status of girl's education.

Official statistics released by the Federal Education Ministry of Pakistan give a desperate picture of education for all, especially for girls. The overall literacy rate is 46 per cent, while only 26 per cent of girls are literate. Independent sources and educational experts, however, are sceptical. They place the overall literacy rate at 26 per cent and the rate for girls and women at 12 per cent, contending that the higher figures include people who can handle little more than a signature. There are 163,000 primary schools in Pakistan, of which merely 40,000 cater to girls. Of these, 15,000 are in Punjab Province, 13,000 in Sind, 8,000 in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and 4,000 in Baluchistan.
Similarly, out of a total 14,000 lower secondary schools and 10,000 higher secondary schools, 5,000 and 3,000 respectively are for girls, in the same decreasing proportions as above in the four provinces. There are around 250 girls colleges, and two medical colleges for women in the public sector of 125 districts. Some 7 million girls under 10 go to primary schools, 5.4 million between 10 and 14 attend lower secondary school, and 3 million go to higher secondary schools. About 1.5 million and 0.5 million girls respectively go to higher secondary schools/colleges and universities.

Riaz Haq said...

Salma: "That is where Pakistan will benefit the most. Read Aamir Latif report on status of girl's education."

We must acknowledge the progress Pakistan has made to increase access to primary and secondary education for girls.

Riaz Haq said...

After years of violence, #Pakistan is winning its fight against #terrorism #TTP #BLA #Taliban by @mazmhussain

ON JANUARY 20, a group of men from the militant Islamist group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan infiltrated the campus of Bacha Khan University in northwestern Pakistan. Armed with assault rifles and grenades, they managed to kill over 20 students and faculty before they were gunned down by local security forces.

The attack managed to shock a country that for years has endured terrorist outrages. That the killings occurred at a university, targeting innocent students and teachers, made them feel particularly heinous. But the attack was also remarkable because Pakistan, for more than a year, had appeared to be on the way to finally defeating its homegrown insurgency. And despite the horror of what happened at Bacha Khan, that still seems to be the case.

Last year saw precipitous decreases in both terrorist attacks and fatalities in Pakistan. Though exact figures differ, statistics compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, the research arm of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management, as well as a study by the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies, a pro-democracy think tank, showed significant decreases in violence in the country. A CRSS study said terrorist incidents declined 56 percent in 2015 from 2014, and the SATP, which conducts a running tally of terrorism figures, said that Pakistan in 2015 suffered the lowest number of suicide attacks and deaths from terrorism since 2006.

These reported declines follow Pakistan’s initiation in 2014 of a large-scale military operation against Taliban sanctuaries in the ungoverned tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. That effort, which is ongoing, has succeeded in reclaiming most territory in the tribal areas.

The seven years preceding this operation coincided with the escalation of the American war in Afghanistan and were among the bloodiest in Pakistan’s history. Those years saw a deluge of terrorist attacks that targeted markets, shrines, mosques, and major landmarks throughout the country. Suicide bombings, once unprecedented in Pakistan, suddenly became a gruesome regularity. Even widely revered religious sites were not immune. As a seemingly unstoppable wave of attacks overtook the country, landmarks like Lahore’s Data Darbar complex and Karachi’s Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine, both popular destinations for Sufi pilgrims from across South Asia, were struck by suicide bombings. The violence called into question the government’s ability to maintain domestic cohesion.

By 2014, the situation had begun to look dire. The tipping point finally came on June 8, when a group of TTP militants launched an attack against Karachi’s Muhammad Ali Jinnah International Airport, killing 28 and threatening to sever the major transit link between Pakistan’s economic capital and the rest of the world.

The following week, the Pakistani military commenced the large-scale attack on Taliban sanctuaries, known as Operation Zarb-e-Azb. In a public statement announcing the start of the campaign, the government painted the battle in existential terms, saying that the militants had “waged a war against the state of Pakistan” and that their terrorism was “disrupting our national life in all its dimensions, stunting our economic growth and causing enormous loss of life and property.”

Over a year and a half later, Operation Zarb-e-Azb appears to have garnered results. In addition to sharp statistical declines in terror attacks and casualties, locals in major urban centers like Karachi have also reported improvements in basic law and order. According to figures compiled last year by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent nonprofit, sectarian violence and so-called target killings in Pakistan’s largest city declined by 28 percent and 63 percent, respectively, from the previous year.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan launches $500 million aid projects for #Afghanistan in #Health #Education and #Infrastructure sectors …

Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal announced that Pakistan has launched $500 million worth of projects for Afghanistan's education, health and infrastructure sectors, the media reported on Friday.

Iqbal on Thursday said that 3,000 scholarships had been offered to Afghan students in different universities of Pakistan and 100 Afghan students would study in the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Dawn online reported.

Talking to an Afghan delegation comprising academicians, lawmakers, students and civil society members here, the minister said that Pakistan had desired to forge friendly relations with all its neighbours, including Afghanistan.

He underlined the need for greater exchanges of scholars, artists, businessmen and others to boost cooperation and friendly and brotherly relations between the two countries.

"We have to start a new chapter in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations by focussing on social and economic dimensions of the friendship," Iqbal said, adding that two countries shared hundreds of years of history.

He said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would play an important role in bringing people of the region closer besides improving economy of the entire region.

"If an untoward incident happens in Afghanistan, Pakistan will be the first country to feel its heat and it will affect the rest of the world later on," he added.

Durrani said...

Afghanistan and India have good relations for hundred of years. Pakistan came in 1947 and now they think they can tell us what to do. Afghanistan has been independent for over 100 years so Pakistan should mind their own business and tell ISI not to send terrorists in our country. We don't need your assistance.

Riaz Haq said...

Durrani: "Afghanistan has been independent for over 100 years so Pakistan should mind their own business and tell ISI not to send terrorists in our country. We don't need your assistance. "

Afghanistan has never been truly independent. It was created by the British as a buffer state after the Russo-British Great Game. It's deeply divided along ethnic lines and, as a landlocked country, dependent entirely on Pakistan for everything it needs to survive.

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

Chuck Hagel should know what he's talking about when it comes to intelligence. He served on the US Senate Intelligence Committee before he became the Pentagon chief.

Afghanistan is an ungrateful neighbor with its Tajik-dominated intelligence service working with India's RAW to subvert Pakistan through its terrorist operatives. Afghanistan will continue to suffer unless it mends its ways to live in peace with Pakistan.

Durrani said...

**Afghanistan is an ungrateful neighbor with its Tajik-dominated intelligence service working with India's RAW to subvert Pakistan through its terrorist operatives. Afghanistan will continue to suffer unless it mends its ways to live in peace with Pakistan.
The world knows the two-faced ISI Pakistani India based policies are causing nothing but instability for Afghanistan. Pakistan is paying the price and will continue to pay a huge price for this. It is Pakistan who will suffer more because it is Pakistan who is afraid of India. It is Pakistan who needs to change and stop giving birth to Taliban like terrorist groups. If Pakistan is not careful Afghans can do a lot of damage beware!

Riaz Haq said...

Durrani: "The world knows the two-faced ISI Pakistani"

The world also knows of Afghans' failure to get their own house in order after the Soviets withdrew and the various Afghan factions and warlords unleashed a wave of death, destruction and instability that spilled over into Pakistan with massive flow of refugees in 1990s.

Taliban brought a measure of stability to strife-torn country and most Afghans drew a sigh of relief after many years of extreme suffering. Had 911 not been carried out by Al Qaeda using its Afghan bases, the Taliban would face no opposition from the West and would still be in charge with most Afghans accepting them as legitimate rulers as a lesser evil.

Durrani said...

"In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan, and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI, jeopardizes not only the prospect of our strategic partnership but Pakistan's opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence. They may believe that by using these proxies, they are hedging their bets or redressing what they feel is an imbalance in regional power. But in reality, they have already lost that bet."

— Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Pakistan will never have respect in Afghanistan or the world.

Riaz Haq said...

Durrani: "Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff"

In response, let me quote Mullen's superior ex Def Sec Rober Gates:

"Well, first of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done."

Here is the text of the exchange between Gates and Leahy during the US Senate hearing on Pakistan that began with Leahy asking Gates how long the U.S. will be willing to "support governments that lie to us?"

GATES: Well, first of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done.

LEAHY: Do they also arrest the people that help us when they say they're allies?

GATES: Sometimes.

LEAHY: Not often.

GATES: And -- and sometimes they send people to spy on us, and they're our close allies. So...

LEAHY: And we give aid to them.

GATES: ... that's the real world that we deal with.

Durrani: "Pakistan will never have respect in Afghanistan or the world"

So now you not only pretend to speak for Afghanistan but also the rest of the world? How conceited can one be!!!

Durrani said...

Riaz "In response, let me quote Mullen's superior ex Def Sec Rober Gates"

That is irrelevant and off topic. Pakistan's ISI misadventure and poor policy making already has come to bite Pakistan. Pakistan should be very careful otherwise it will suffer consequences. Afghans can humiliate and fragment Pakistan. We can do that without an army!

Riaz Haq said...

Durrani: "That is irrelevant and off topic. "

It's absolutely relevant as evidence of lies US official tell about other countries and other countries lies they hear.

Durrani: "Afghans can humiliate and fragment Pakistan. We can do that without an army!"

Keep dreaming. It's not 1971 when India, a vastly more powerful nation than Afghanistan, started a covert war in East Pakistan followed by an invasion. Pakistan is nuclear-armed and history tells us that no nuclear armed nation has ever been invaded by a foreign military.

In fact, Afghanistan breakup is much more likely than Pakistan's.

Nitin B said...

Isn't Pakistan constantly saying Pakistani Taliban is a "foreign" group attacking Pakistan. It doesn't matter if Pakistan is nuclear armed and these type of violence will escalate sectarian violence. That is destabilizing for Pakistan and can do a lot of damage. The current NAP is successful but things have also gone more covert.

Riaz Haq said...

NBRX: "It doesn't matter if Pakistan is nuclear armed and these type of violence will escalate sectarian violence."

The data shows otherwise. Violence is declining and becoming more manageable. It'll never be zero but be quite manageable as a nuisance.

Riaz Haq said...

Falconistan: The Long History of #Pakistan and #US F-16s | The Diplomat. #Afghanistan #Taliban #India …

A protest that rocked a New Delhi university this week spread across India on Thursday, with students and teachers in at least 10 cities demanding the release of a student leader arrested on sedition charges and accused of being anti-Indian.

The protesters were outraged by nationally televised scenes of Kanhaiya Kumar, the student union president at Jawaharlal Nehru University, being kicked and punched while he was escorted to a court hearing Wednesday, renewing allegations that the Hindu nationalist governing party is intolerant.

He was arrested last Friday over his participation in events where anti-India slogans were allegedly shouted. A New Delhi court has ordered him to stay in custody for two weeks. The court will hear his bail plea on Friday.

The demands for the student's freedom in the Indian capital were met by mobs of Hindu nationalists, including many lawyers, attacking students and accusing them of being anti-Indian.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party and other Hindu groups accuse left-wing student groups of anti-nationalism because of their criticism of the 2013 execution of a Kashmiri separatist convicted of an attack on Parliament.

Kumar's treatment and attacks on teachers who supported him have triggered allegations that the Modi government and the BJP are cracking down on political dissent in the name of patriotism.

Soon after the protests began, India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted that anyone shouting anti-India slogans "will not be tolerated or spared."

The violence by lawyers occurred despite the Supreme Court ordering the police to ensure security in the court and has drawn wide criticism of the lawyers and police.

"Such a deliberate obstruction of justice amounts to constitutional contempt and cannot go unpunished," said Maja Daruwala of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

The Bar Council of India said it had appointed a three-member panel to investigate the violence by lawyers.

"We are going to take a strong action against them," Council president Manan Kumar Mishra said. "We are going to punish the lawyers if they are found guilty," he said before apologizing on behalf of the lawyer community.

On Thursday, students in at least 10 Indian cities marched through the streets and denounced Kumar's arrest.

In New Delhi, thousands of students, professors and journalists gathered in the center of the city. They carried flowers as a sign of peace, Indian flags and placards saying, "Free Speech under attack" and "Just because I don't agree, doesn't mean I am an anti-national."

Police said the rally was not authorized, but allowed the march to proceed to a central space used frequently for public protests.

In the southern city of Chennai, 40 students were arrested after they clashed with police.

In Kolkata, police were on alert as two groups of students held rival rallies in the Jadavpur University campus. Student groups affiliated with the BJP demanded strict action against Kumar and others who they accused of being anti-Indian.

Riaz Haq said...

How #US Higher #Education Partnerships can Promote Development in #Pakistan via @forbes …

If the United States and its allies help address the core structural development problems within Pakistan many of our security concerns will also be resolved. As I have written before, the United States needs to broaden the way we look at Pakistan. For decades, security issues have dominated Washington’s Pakistan agenda while “soft” issues have been an afterthought. From Islamabad’s perspective, the “soft” issues include some of their most important challenges. These soft issues might be characterized as Pakistan’s “6Es”: (non-security) engagement, economics, entrepreneurship, education, energy, and (gender) equality.

Most of the international community engage Pakistan through an “AfPak” lens or an “IndoPak” lens, but Pakistan cannot be defined completely by its relationships with its neighbors. Afghanistan has a population of 25 million while Pakistan’s population will soon exceed 200 million. India continues to grapple with its own development challenges and opportunities, many of which have little or nothing to do with Pakistan. Pakistan is the sixth largest country by population in the world and is projected to become the fourth largest country by 2050. To understand Pakistan requires analysis through its own sui generis set of issues and opportunities.

Despite a very poor country brand with the international media, Pakistan has undergone a series of positive developments that merit recognition. These developments set the table for the sort of policies and investments needed to move the country on a path traveled by Indonesia or Brazil. The country had its first peaceful democratic transition in 2013, and for now, the military, the civilian government, and civil society are broadly aligned on security issues. This optimism must be tempered by recognizing that the military remains Pakistan’s central institution, and that pockets of conflict and extremism persist throughout the country. While the military has seeming gotten out of the coup business, it is still the “back seat driver” for many parts of the government and economy.

Pakistan’s economy has been growing for a number of years, and it is on track to complete an International Monetary Fund (IMF ) program from start to finish for the first time in its 70-year history. Pakistan’s growing middle class, which will expand from an estimated 40 million people today to 100 million people by 2050, represents a powerful engine for change, demanding both improved services and greater access to opportunities. One key area of expanding demand and potential growth lies in the energy sector. Pakistan’s abundant coal reserves and access to water flowing from the Himalayas mean it could be the “Saudi Arabia of Coal” and the “Saudi Arabia of Hydropower.” Pakistan also has significant wind, solar and geothermal potential. However, if current trends continue, by 2050, India’s economy will be 40 times larger than Pakistan’s, and China’s economy 100 times larger. It is in both U.S. and Pakistani interests to see that Pakistan grows a lot faster.