Afghanistan: Instead Of Better It Got Worse: New Age Islam’s Selection From Pakistan Press, 5 January 2016

 

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

 

January 5, 2016

 

Afghanistan: Instead Of Better It Got Worse

By Musa Khan Jalalzai

Iran-Saudi Arabia conflict

By Express Tribune Editorial

Attack in Pathankot — another derailment of relations?

By Rustam Shah Mohmand

 

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Iran-Saudi Arabia conflict

By Express Tribune Editorial

January 5, 2016

Iranian protesters set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran during a demonstration against the execution of prominent Shia Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities, on January 2, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Newton’s Third Law of motion states that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. It applies outside the realms of physics and most recently is seen in the aftermath of the execution by Saudi Arabia of a leading cleric, Sheikh Nimr al Nimr. Shortly afterwards, demonstrators in Tehran broke into the Saudi embassy there before the police took control and ejected them. The Iranians uttered dire threats to the Saudis, and around 40 of the demonstrators were arrested, but the ball was rolling and by the morning of January 4, relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia deteriorated to the point at which the Saudis broke off all diplomatic relations, and ordered Iranian diplomats out of the country within 48 hours.

The recent turn of events, precipitated by the execution of Sheikh Nimr, who many observers say underwent a legal process that did not meet all standards of what should constitute a fair trial, can have serious consequences for Pakistan. We have friendly relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran, and are closely engaged with both countries, particularly in respect of meeting our energy needs into a far future. The one area that will now need delicate handling is that of the inflaming of sectarian fault lines within Pakistan. Sectarian tensions are easily provoked here and the country has seen much sectarian strife and conflict over the past many decades. There have been demonstrations, largely peaceful, in Pakistan since the execution.

The struggle for ascendancy in the region between Arabs and Persians is two millennia old and predates Islam, and that struggle continues today with both states using proxies to fight a war in Yemen. Pakistan cannot get drawn into this conflict despite the fact that we have good relations with Saudi Arabia, which has supported us in historical times of need. We must consider that Iran is an important neighbour and we need to foster healthy ties with it as well. We have to protect our own often fragile equilibrium in sectarian terms, and cannot afford to be seen to be favouring one side or another, at the same time as maintaining equable relations with both. The consequences of this execution are already apparent, and arms-length diplomacy must be our default position.

tribune.com.pk/story/1021799/iran-saudi-arabia-conflict/

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Afghanistan: instead of better it got worse

By Musa Khan Jalalzai

January 5, 2016

There has been much debate in international forums over the nature of the intelligence war in Afghanistan. Different intelligence organisations that engaged in unnecessary internecine conflict threatened and undermined all efforts of winning the war against the Taliban. As we have experienced in the last 15 years of the war on terrorism, all efforts and operations of the US and NATO intelligence failed to collect true information from the remote districts of the country. They used electronic technology like balloons, drones and helicopter surveillance, filmed and scanned houses, buildings and forests, but failed to reach the nests of insurgents. The standard mode of these operations has been passive and their information has not been Taliban and al Qaeda related. They spied on each other’s intelligence units and could not lead their commanders and decision makers in the right direction.

They also resisted intelligence sharing. No agency was ready to share its secret information with the other; everyone maintained their own secret network. European states were mostly reluctant to hear the CIA and Pentagon while Germany was ultimately alienated. The country refused to heed the NATO alliance’s instruction and ordered its forces to avoid confrontation with the Taliban and fire only in self-defence. However, some states, instead of their adherence to the alliance, established criminal militias and private intelligence units to protect their forces from Taliban attacks on one hand and collect intelligence information on the other. These militias and intelligence units misled their command and control authorities by providing them with low quality disinformation.

These consecutive intelligence failures and lack of a sharing mechanism prompted the emergence of Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan and Pakistan. An account of US intelligence failure, the rising power of IS in Afghanistan has posed a potential security threat to Russia. Against this backdrop, Russian intelligence (FSB) moved forward to fill the gap. The agency quickly reorganised its old contacts in Central Asia and Afghanistan. On October 28, 2015, the spokeswoman of the Russian foreign ministry said that Russia was working with the Taliban to gain intelligence information against IS networks in Afghanistan.

The NATO expansion in Europe close to the border of Russia, war in Syria and its military build up in Afghanistan forced President Putin to sign a new defence strategy document on January 1, 2016. “The build up of the military potential of NATO and vesting it with global functions implemented in violation of the norms of international law, boosting military activity of the bloc’s countries, further expansion of the alliance and the approach of its military infrastructure to Russian borders create a threat to national security,” the document warned. However, in view of the IS threat to their national security, Russia and China deployed their intelligence units along Afghanistan’s borders. On January 4, 2016, China adopted its first counter-terrorism law to control the emerging insurgent forces and IS influence in the Xinjiang region.

The NATO alliance also failed to train a professional army for Afghanistan. The consecutive bombardment of weddings, schools, homes and hospitals by the US and NATO, humiliation and torture, rape and urination over dead bodies, painted an ugly picture of western human rights and the democratic culture in Afghanistan. These unprofessional tactics and low-quality intelligence operations by the international community gave space to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), RAW and Iranian intelligence agencies to strengthen their networks across Afghanistan. The ISI and Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence (MI) restored their old contacts by using professional means and tactics. Consequently, the performance of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) was in shambles. It could not counter the ISI, MI, RAW, Taliban and IS networks within the Afghan army and police ranks.

In February 2015, the former president, Pervez Musharraf, told The Guardian that in President Karzai’s time, the ISI cultivated the Taliban after 2001. “We were looking for some groups to counter the Indian action against Pakistan,” Musharraf said. In 2015, the speed of the blame game slowed as diplomatic rapprochement began between the two states. President Ghani visited Islamabad twice. Islamabad showed it willingness to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table but Afghan leaders called its stance absurd and demanded a paradigm shift in Islamabad’s policy towards Afghanistan. These events occurred only in one year; government and politicians in Pakistan admitted that IS had established dozens of networks in Punjab and Balochistan provinces.

The year 2016 began with the statement of army chief General Raheel Sharif that this would be the year that terrorism would be eliminated in Pakistan. However, the operations in Sialkot and Karachi proved that IS remains the strongest challenge in the four provinces of the country. IS offers Rs 50,000 per month to its new members and sends them to Afghanistan. The Punjab counterterrorism department arrested an alleged commander of IS in Islamabad and his fighters from Sargodha, Okara and Gujranwala districts in Punjab. The Safoora Goth killing was also claimed by an IS-affiliated terrorist group in Karachi. Despite numerous operations across the country, the Pakistan army is still fighting the unending war against terrorism.

IS maintains a big intelligence network in Jalalabad and has established four prisons there, in which 300 civilian and military personnel have been incarcerated. The NDS has lost key districts in the province to the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Islam and IS. In fact, the Afghan government has no power to extend the authority of the state to all parts of the country. Afghan security forces lack coordination, are fighting without salary and sell weapons to the Taliban. On January 1, 2016, the former governor of Kunduz, Muhammad Omar Safi, told ToloNews that he was representing two presidents and received different directions from their offices. He regretted that in spite of his request for military support, President Ghani, General Campbell and the defence ministry did not react positively to save the province. Mr Safi said that both the presidents were powerless and had no authority to act independently. The unity government needs to introduce security sector reforms and reorganise its military services and intelligence on modern lines.

The writer is author of The Prospect of Nuclear Jihad in Pakistan and can be reached at zai.musakhan222@gmail.com

dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/05-Jan-2016/afghanistan-instead-of-better-it-got-worse

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Attack in Pathankot — another derailment of relations?

By Rustam Shah Mohmand

January 5, 2016

The writer has served as ambassador to Afghanistan and is a former interior secretary

The long journey to peace and normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan has been incredibly complex and painful. Just as it seemed that the two countries would begin long-awaited negotiations, creating an ambience of hope for the nearly two billion people of the region, terrorists have struck again. And they could not have chosen a more suitable target to achieve their nefarious aims. The target chosen — the highly protected Indian air base in Pathankot — is close to the India-Pakistan border.

The attack has come fast on the heels of one of the most extraordinary diplomatic initiatives — the Indian prime minister making a seemingly unscheduled stopover at Lahore to greet his Pakistani counterpart on the latter’s birthday.

The euphoria generated by Modi’s visit had not even died down, with analysts in both countries still debating its impact on the course of bilateral relations. After many years of uncertainty, there was some hope of a thaw in relations. There had been a very positive interaction at Bangkok between the National Security Advisers of both countries and then the Indian external affairs minister visited Pakistan to attend the Heart of Asia Conference. The ice had begun to melt. Expectations were aroused vis-a-vis a resumption of talks that were stalled after the 2008 Mumbai massacre. And when Modi landed in Lahore on an impromptu visit on Christmas, it appeared that Islamabad and New Delhi were bracing for a constructive and meaningful dialogue that could produce a climate conducive for addressing many intractable issues, including the core issue of Kashmir.

In the aftermath of the attack, if Indian authorities come to the conclusion after ascertaining facts that all or some its perpetrators had come from Pakistan or that they had been trained in Pakistan, bilateral relations would receive an irretrievable setback. Distrust would mount and suspicions would deepen. The process of normalisation would hang in the balance. Uncertainty would take hold. Increasing spending on defence at the expense of spending on the common man, in both countries, would remain the main goal to pursue.

In that case, there would be only one option before Pakistan: to relentlessly pursue and arrest all those who are involved, one way or another, in the attack on the Pathankot air base and give them exemplary punishment after due process of law. In fact, all such outfits that are either based in Pakistan or use Pakistani soil for launching attacks in India, including in Kashmir, have to be wiped out to give an unmistakable message to the world that the Pakistani state will not allow its soil to be used for attacks on another country. These steps alone will save the relations between the two countries from a complete derailment.

The Pathankot air base attack is a serious issue, which must not be underestimated. The Pakistani response, if there is solid evidence of the accused having gone from Pakistan, must be emphatic, firm and decisive. That would send a message of a change of policy and help Pakistan win India’s trust.

tribune.com.pk/story/1021805/attack-in-pathankot-another-derailment-of-relations/

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,terrorism-and-jihad/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/afghanistan–instead-of-better-it-got-worse–new-age-islam’s-selection-from-pakistan-press,-5-january-2016/d/105870

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