What was the objective of Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif's visit to Washington? How was he received there? How did his meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster go? What is the crux of the case he presented to the United States Institute of Peace?
corruption prosecution in National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court inspired by the Pakistani military? Is it really civil-military tensions or just a distraction tactic used by PMLN to discredit serious corruption charges against their leaders? Is PMLN using street power and legislation to try to intimidate the judges and the generals to rehabilitate Nawaz Sharif after his disqualification by the Supreme Court? Why does Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif oppose PMLN's confrontational stance against the judiciary and the military?
Is there a way to prevent recurrence of frequent mass shootings after recent history's worst ever mass shooting incident in Las Vegas, Nevada? Will the United States Congress and state legislatures act to put limits on the kind of guns available for sale? Will there be any new gun control measures like the ones Australia implemented after its last mass shooting in 1996?
Has China resumed road building with deployment of more troops in Doklam? Is it not embarrassing for India's Modi government after they claimed China had blinked in the Doklam standoff in Bhutan? What will happen next?
Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)
Khwaja Asif Defends Pakistan's Policy at the US Institute of Peace
Nawaz Sharif's Rallies Against Judiciary and Military
US Gun Violence, Islamophobia and Terrorism
China-India Standoff at Doklam, Bhutan
Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel
Talk4Pak Think Tank
Riaz Haq writes this data-driven blog to provide information, express his opinions and make comments on many topics. Subjects include personal activities, education, South Asia, South Asian community, regional and international affairs and US politics to financial markets. For investors interested in South Asia, Riaz has another blog called South Asia Investor at http://www.southasiainvestor.com and a YouTube video channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkrIDyFbC9N9evXYb9cA_gQ
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Khawaja Asif in US; China in Doklam; LV Mass Shooting; Pak Civil-Military Ties
Labels: Afghanistan, China, Doklam, India, Mass Shootings, NAB, Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan, United States, USIP
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THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > OPINION
Securing Pakistan’s nuclear assets
By Zamir AkramPublished: October 13, 2017
From Pakistan’s perspective, the greater threat to its nuclear assets has always been from the US or the Indians, rather than terrorists, and has taken robust measures to protect the safety and security of these assets. Accordingly, for Pakistan ensuring nuclear security is vital for ensuring national security. Had there been a window of vulnerability, the Americans would already have tried to penetrate it.
The Indian air chief’s recent boast about striking Pakistan’s nuclear installations has been dismissed by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif with the contempt that it deserves. Not only is this threat contrary to the Pakistan-India agreement not to attack each other’s nuclear facilities but is nonsensical as Pakistan’s nuclear assets are not vulnerable to such an attack and would definitely invite a befitting response.
These Indian fulminations are encouraged by the negative American narrative about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, repeated most recently in President Trump’s South Asia policy speech. It is an open secret that the US has contingency places to de-nuclearise Pakistan ever since the start of its strategic programme. After 9/11, the American narrative has alleged the threat of terrorists or extremist “insiders” taking over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons which would have to be “neutralised” before that happens. More recently, with the development of Pakistan’s low-yield or so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons to negate India’s Cold Start doctrine, the Americans allege that these weapons, when deployed in the field, would be vulnerable to terrorist takeover or lack effective command and control. Actually, such allegations are more in response to Pakistan’s rejection of American demands to accept unilateral restraints on its strategic deterrence efforts in response to the growing Indian conventional and nuclear threat rather than any credible terrorist or insider threat.
Pakistan has successfully defied American discrimination and intimidation. It is also cognisant of the emerging threats posed by cyber and electronic warfare, which require effective fire-walls and countervailing measures that have been put in place as part of the full-spectrum effort for the safety and security of our strategic assets.
What an #American #hostages rescue says about #US-#Pakistan ties: A new era of alliance? #Trump https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/analysis-caitlan-coleman-hostage-rescue-hints-new-era-pakistan-n810356 … via @nbcnews
The rescue of American hostage Caitlan Coleman and her family by Pakistan's military may prove to be a big step toward improving strained ties between Washington and its nuclear-armed ally.
Hours after details of the operation to free the Pennsylvania native from a horrific five-year ordeal emerged Thursday, statements by Pakistani authorities, the State Department and even President Donald Trump all praised the benefits of intelligence sharing and cooperation.
That appeared to indicate a positive turn in a relationship that has been fast deteriorating since the start of the Trump presidency. Before being elected to the White House, Trump had repeatedly tweeted that Pakistan "is not our friend."
“This rescue is an example of what intelligence sharing and mutual respect can do,” said Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, a Pakistani military spokesman. “It should now be clear to the Americans that cooperation works. Coercion and confrontation don’t.”
The Pakistan military said that it took action after being alerted by U.S. intelligence that Coleman, her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, and their three children were being moved across the border from Afghanistan.
They had been held captive by a Taliban-linked group. Boyle gave a harrowing account of their plight to reporters Friday, saying captors had killed their infant daughter and raped Coleman.
News of the rescue produced glowing praise of Pakistan from Trump and Tillerson.
"This is a positive moment for our country's relationship with Pakistan," the president said in a statement. "The Pakistani government's cooperation is a sign that it is honoring America's wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region."
That represented a softer tone toward Pakistan from Trump.
In January 2012, he tweeted: "Get it straight: Pakistan is not our friend. We’ve given them billions and billions of dollars, and what did we get? Betrayal and disrespect—and much worse. #TimeToGetTough"
#Trump shows #Modi how to make a U-turn on #Pakistan
India’s leadership doesn’t need an American TV network , @MadamSecretary, to remind it of the old adage that there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics. Still, there would be no harm watching, especially if South Block seems to have lost its way.
It’s a pity that @narendramodi or @SushmaSwaraj don’t follow @MadamSecretary, the serial on the CBS US television network that tracks the life and times of a fictional US secretary of state. Episodes follow crises the US must get involved in around the globe, including, you’ve guessed it, India and Pakistan, Russia and Libya and other hotspots that blow up with unfailing regularity.
Elizabeth McCord (the actress @TeaLeoni) must deal with despots and dictators and assassinations and dirty bombs without losing her cool. Of course she comes out on top most of the time, as is to be expected, but its how she gets there that’s interesting. Madam Secretary is successful precisely because she has no qualms in supping with the devil.
This ability to change your mind mid-sentence must separate the big girls – or big boys, as in the case of @realDonaldTrump — from the rest of us mortals. As his Friday night tweet demonstrating an about-turn on his Pakistan policy showed, the US has both the power and the inclination to get what it wants and high moral ground be damned.
The US president’s complimentary tweet came in the wake of a Pakistan army operation only a day ago, against the Haqqani Network terrorist group in Pakistan’s own northern, restive province Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, in which a US-Canadian couple and their children (born in captivity no less) were rescued, that too after five years.
See the coincidence ?
Several Pakistan-watchers will tell you that the case of Joshua Boyle and Caitlin Coleman, Canadian and US nationals respectively, is similar to one Osama bin Laden who was found living a stone’s throw away from the Pakistan military academy in Abbotabad, barely a 100 km from Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.
Joshua and Caitlin were kidnapped in Afghanistan by a terrorist group in October 2012 and were found in Pakistan’s neighbouring Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province yesterday. Just like Osama, there is no way the Pakistan military didn’t know that a White, Anglo-Saxon family, with three kids no less, were living in a Haqqani Network camp inside Pakistan.
As @MadamSecretary will tell you again and again, the name of the game is leverage. And Pakistan has dollops of it. Even though the world’s most powerful leader, Donald Trump, told the world only a few weeks ago that US policy towards Pakistan was going to change – and India crowed delightedly when he did – fact is that the US isn’t doing what it is in the badlands of Afghanistan-Pakistan for India’s national interest, but its own.
Speaking in Pennsylvania on Friday, Trump complimented Pakistan’s cooperation on the Caitlin-Joshua rescue and took credit for being much more tough on Rawalpindi.
“The Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honouring America’s wish that it do more to provide security in the region,” he said. “They worked very hard on this, and I believe they’re starting to respect the United States again,” he added.
Only a month ago, Trump had accused Pakistan of “housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately,” he had said. The Pakistanis reacted badly to the Trump speech and even cancelled a scheduled visit by Lisa Curtis, Trump’s top official on South Asia in the White House.
#Canadian #Hostage on His Daring Rescue by #Pakistan Army. #Afghanistan #HQN https://youtu.be/m1RJGnmWM3g via @YouTube
Josh Boyle: "A major comes over to me while I still have blood on me. The street is chaos and he says to me, 'In the American media they said that we support the Haqqani network and that we make it possible. Today you have seen the truth. Did we not put bullets in those bastards?' "And so I can say to you I did see the truth, and the truth was that car was riddled with bullets. The ISI (Pakistan's intelligence agency) and the army got between the criminals and the car to make sure the prisoners were safe and my family was safe. They put them to flight and they ran like cowards. And this is proof enough to me the Pakistanis are doing everything to their utmost."
Despite #Tillerson, #US Won't Abandon #Pakistan for #India | RAND. #China #CPEC #Modi
t has become commonplace to caution American policymakers against irrational exuberance when dealing with India: Keep expectations low (conventional wisdom goes) and you won't be disappointed. In the wake of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to New Delhi this week, perhaps the same advice could be directed to India's leadership. Despite a warm welcome by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the pleasantries at Gandhi Smriti, and the promises of “an even brighter future,” don't expect a radical change in U.S. policy. There are structural reasons for India to moderate its expectations of what it can realistically expect from the Trump administration, regardless of anything the secretary of state—or even the president—might say.
There is no new U.S. policy towards Pakistan—and there won't be one soon. On August 21, Trump announced a “change [in] the approach and how to deal with Pakistan. We can no longer be silent,” he stated. Ears pricked up in Islamabad and New Delhi alike. But in the two months since the administration's roll-out of its new strategy for South Asia, no significant actions towards Pakistan have been made public. If a sea-change is underway, it is hidden beneath the waves.
This should not be a surprise: So long as the U.S. has troops in neighboring Afghanistan, it will be reliant on Pakistan for logistical support, transit, and—perhaps most importantly—Islamabad's influence with both the Taliban and its affiliated Haqqani Network. With the addition of about 5,000 U.S. troops to the effort in Afghanistan—roughly a 50 percent increase over the baseline at the end of the Obama administration—U.S. exposure will grow rather than recede.
A concrete demonstration was provided just two weeks ago: On October 12, an American woman, her Canadian husband, and their three children were released after five years of Haqqani captivity. Whether this was a conveniently-timed military rescue or a secretly-negotiated operation, it reminds the U.S. of Pakistan's ability to help—and to harm. Afterwards, Tillerson expressed his “deep gratitude to the Government of Pakistan and the Pakistani Army,” and posited “a U.S.-Pakistan relationship marked by growing commitments to counterterrorism operations and stronger ties in all other respects.”
The U.S. and India don't see eye-to-eye on China. Earlier this month, Tillerson made a major speech contrasting America's relationships with India and China. “We'll never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society,” (PDF) he said, “that we can have with a major democracy” such as India. He criticized China's Belt-and-Road-Initiative (BRI) infrastructure program, and proposed a joint Indo-U.S. effort towards “countering that with alternative financing measures.”
But Tillerson said nothing about where the funds for such an ambitious venture might come from. China has pledged $46 billion for the Pakistan piece of its framework alone. The U.S. administration plans to reduce its foreign affairs budget by 28 percent—a cut that Tillerson fully supports. India is unlikely to spend countless crores for the construction of roads and railways in other nations when it has so many infrastructure needs of its own. Moreover, India has consistently balked at any suggestion of a de facto alliance geared at limiting China's influence. Perhaps this summer's stand-off at Doklam will turn out to be a game-changer? If so, Delhi may remember that the Trump administration—in contrast, for example, to that of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe—refrained from any statement in support of India throughout its most serious confrontation with China in a quarter-century.
The Danger of Trump’s Pakistan Approach
Taking a tougher line on Islamabad without a clear strategy is a losing proposition.
As the dust settles, there should be a period of reflection, and there will be. Pakistan has to make up its mind whether it wants to contribute to Afghanistan stability or instability. Though Pakistan benefits and suffers from what happens in Afghanistan, Pakistan has failed to cash in on its support for the Taliban. And now it may be too late, as Pakistan is left with few good options except to drop them. The problem is that Washington is not making it any easier for Pakistan to do so.
Pakistan’s cooperation will depend on its assessment of what is the end game from the American perspective. But what is the overall American objective and strategy? There is no clarity. Without any knowledge of that and of what is in there for Islamabad, Pakistan will understandably be reluctant to cooperate.
Pakistan also wants coordinated action against the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, the Jamaatul Ahrar, and the Balochistan Liberation Army, which operate from safe havens in Afghanistan. But both Kabul and Washington have been unresponsive. And so far, Washington has pushed all the wrong buttons like sanctioning India’s hegemonic ambitions in the region and attacking the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which may prompt Pakistan to hedge.
To add to Pakistan’s quandary, China may be facing a similar dilemma. Though it still remains invested in Afghanistan’s stability, if the United States remains silent about its end game in Afghanistan and has outlined a strategy of encirclement of China as suggested by Tillerson’s CSIS speech, then China too may have to hedge. Both General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis have recently been speaking in Congressional hearings against the “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) initiative and its flagship project, CPEC. The theme is that China, through its regional partnerships, is trying to limit U.S. power projection and weaken Washington’s position in the Indo-Pacific.
Washington is trying to address a mélange of geopolitical, regional, and national security challenges, along with the failing Afghanistan war, without an overarching strategy or grand design. It may thus end up as a zero-sum exercise. One objective or another is going to give or lose out in pursuit of one particular interest. Washington may think that threatening CPEC to weaken Pakistan ‘s lifeline to undermine its leverage, and to weaken China’s alternatives to deal with the projection of American power in the Indian Ocean, might be a smart move but it is more likely to backfire. It is also worth noting that it will likely draw China and Pakistan even closer.
If Pakistan is lost to Washington or isolated, the United States loses too. The safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets remains important to the United States, as does non-proliferation. In case of strained relationship with Pakistan, the United States loses communication with Pakistan on the nuclear issue. It also loses influence on Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to deal with extremism and militant outfits. Not to mention Washington loses air and ground lines of communication, and intelligence sharing on dealing with transnational terror groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State. Finally, there will be no peace in Afghanistan without Pakistan’s help.
#Pakistan says it needs no financial assistance from #US. #USAID #Trump #Afghanistan
Pakistan’s Foreign Office said on Saturday that the country needs no financial assistance from the US, which it accuses of ignoring Pakistan’s effective operations in the war on terror.
“We do not need any financial assistance from the United States. We do not care about it. If America wants to stop it, we will loudly say go ahead,” Dr. Mohammad Faisal, spokesperson for Pakistan’s Foreign Office, told Arab News in an interview.
“Pakistan receives a paltry amount in terms of Coalition Support Fund from the US, and if the Trump administration withholds it, it will hardly make any difference to a country of 207 million people,” he said.
The Coalition Support Fund is a reimbursement to Pakistan from the US of expenses incurred in operations against militants and compensation for logistical facilities made available to the coalition forces operating in Afghanistan.
As relations between the US and Pakistan have soured in recent months, the Trump administration, according to a New York Times report, is contemplating withholding $255 million in aid to Pakistan as “a show of dissatisfaction with Pakistan’s broader intransigence toward confronting the terrorist networks that operate there.”
“We will insist that Pakistan take decisive action against militant and terrorist groups operating from its soil,” the US said in its National Security Strategy announced by President Donald Trump on Dec. 18.
“The United States continues to face threats from transnational terrorists and militants operating from within Pakistan,” it said. “We will press Pakistan to intensify its counterterrorism efforts, since no partnership can survive a country’s support for militants and terrorists who target a partner’s own service members and officials.”
Dr. Mohammad Faisal, however, vehemently rejects the US allegations, saying that Pakistan’s security forces have undertaken indiscriminate and effective operations against terrorism and extremism in recent years.
“Pakistan is a more stable, peaceful and secure country after these operations,” he said. “We have repeatedly informed the US that no organized structure of any terrorist outfit exists in Pakistan.”
He advised the US to focus on factors responsible for exponential increase in drug production, expansion of ungoverned spaces, breakdown of governance and letting Daesh gain a foothold in Afghanistan instead of pressuring Pakistan to do more.
“We remain committed to protect our sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interest determined by the people of Pakistan,” he said.
Relations between Pakistan and the US soured after President Donald Trump accused the country of providing a “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror” while launching the US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia on Aug. 21.
Air Marshal (retd) Shahid Latif told Arab News that the US has been blaming Pakistan for its failure in the war against terror in Afghanistan and is threatening Pakistan with dire consequences — action that is unbecoming of an ally such as the US.
“We will do no more to support the United States in our region,” he said while fully endorsing Pakistan’s attitude toward the US.
“The Trump administration has been threatening Pakistan instead of acknowledging our tremendous sacrifices in the war against terror and this is totally unacceptable to us,” he said.
Ayaz Wazir, a former diplomat, told Arab News that Pakistan is a sovereign country and the Trump administration cannot cow it down through threats of unilateral actions against militants and stopping of financial aid.
“The US has totally failed in restoring law and order in Afghanistan and it wants to make Pakistan a scapegoat by accusing it of harboring militants on its soil,” he said. “Around 22 terrorist outfits including Daesh are still active in Afghanistan despite the presence of the US troops since 2001.”
#McMaster of War: #American #tanks were several generations ahead of T-72s of his #Iraqi opponents. #Abrams have depleted uranium armor... and carry anti-tank munitions tipped with depleted uranium penetrators with significantly longer range. #Trump
A number of military experts – including the defense secretary, James Mattis – have warned that a US war against North Korea would be hard, incredibly destructive and bloody, with civilian casualties in the millions, and could go badly for US forces. But Lt. Gen. Herbert Raymond McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, is apparently insistent that ‘a military strike be considered as a serious option’.
One of Gen. McMaster’s claims to fame is a Silver Star he was awarded for a tank ‘battle’ he led in the desert during the so-called Gulf War of 1991. As a young captain leading a troop with nine new Abrams M1A1 battle tanks, McMaster destroyed 28 Iraqi tanks in 23 minutes without losing any of his own or suffering any casualties.
McMaster’s exploit (later embellished with a name, the ‘Battle of 73 Easting’) was little more than a case of his having dramatically better equipment. His tanks were several generations ahead of the antique Russian-built T-72s of his Iraqi opponents. They were protected by depleted uranium armour – a dense metal virtually impenetrable by conventional tank shells, anti-tank rockets and RPGs – and carried anti-tank munitions tipped with depleted uranium penetrators, which can punch through steel armour as if it were cardboard. They then ignite a tank’s interior, exploding any ordnance inside and incinerating the crew. The Abrams main cannon also has a significantly longer range than the tanks McMaster was confronting, meaning he and his men were able to pick off the Iraqi tanks while the shells fired back at them all fell short.
McMaster also fought in the Iraq War of the following decade. In 2005, running counter-insurgency operations in Tal Afar, a northern city of 200,000 people, McMaster ordered up a massive ground assault and aerial bombardment that levelled 60 per cent of the buildings in the old city centre. His experiences in Iraq raise concerns that Trump’s national security adviser may misperceive war as a one-sided affair in which an invincible US, with its super-powerful war machine, can smash its enemies with impunity.
I spoke to Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired army colonel who was chief of staff to Colin Powell when he was George W. Bush’s secretary of state. ‘McMaster knows very little about the [Korean] peninsula, period,’ he told me. ‘Thus far, his comments and – I must assume – his counsel to the NSC and its head, Trump, reflects that ignorance.’ Asked whether McMaster may be underestimating the risks of attacking North Korea, Wilkerson said: ‘That could be said of almost any US flag officer and reinforced with any who had combat experience in Iraq in 1990-91 or 2003.’
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