Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Terrorism and Pakistan: Challenges and Culprits

"In the aftermath of brutalities and mass violations of human rights in Indian Held Kashmir and international perception favoring Kashmiris and Pakistan, India will launch a diversionary effort in near time frame. In addition the strategic efforts against China Pakistan Economic Corridor are likely to be operationalised in near time-frame and US can not allow time space easily for the project. 

The effort could be launched with their Strategic assets and partners along areas of LOC, along Afghanistan Border, Islamabad, Karachi, Gwader, Gilgit and or Quetta. It could be massive terrorist activities in sequels, border escalation with hot pursuit option or a traumatic blow in shape of man made disaster. Since last 10 days or so most Indian channels viewed through satellite systems in Europe, USA, AFRICA etc are screening English dubbed movies showing Pakistan as terrorist heaven while Pakistan Army and ISI as the terrorist sponsoring institutions.There is a news that Indian High Commission staff have been asked to return their families to India. It indicates two possibilities. One, India may be planning for war/border tension in near future.

Two, a massive terror attack in the offing....... ".

.... and the massive terror attack took place yesterday 8 August 2016 in Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan province - leaving almost 100 dead and nearly 200 wounded - some incapacitated for life.

The author continues:

Quetta like carnage will happen again and again and it's not entirely due to our complete failures in all Regards. Lets not overlook what Modi has been standing or stating for regarding Pakistan and what Obama forecasted Pakistan in next ten years or ?

India has achieved a tremendous boost through US, Israel and UK strategic alliance and due to its Econo-demographic might. It is set rolling its regional and global ambitions in the shadow of US and UK hence will achieve impetus with time and intencity of similar traumatic events as well as soft power projections. The Shock and Chaos against Pakistan will remain the predominant application on the lines of Iraq with the purpose of applying pressure vault aiming at " internal implosion" with focus targetting on Quetta, Gawader, Karachi, Peshawar, Gilgit, Lahore and Muzaffarabad. This needs to be flagged as a harsh and stark reality only then we can brace up for a cohesive and efficient response. Addressing our own inadequacies, faultlines, governance and socio-economic vulnerabilites are beyond doubt and it must be our priority ONE. 

While the essential capacity building, enhancing reaction surveillance and intelligence capabilities, policing, community response pattern and all inclusive approach can never be over emphasized. At the same time, Pakistan must achieve and maintain credible deterrence against India's punitive proxy wars potentials and the ambition to subdue Pakistan so as to tender it a complaint state. All options including negotiations and engagements with India at various spectrum of statecraft must take their own course. Though it heavily depends upon if India has this option on table before achieving their mid term objectives? 

Who or how will this be done," this is people centric war aimed to sap our will, resolve, slow bleeding and integrity"...... just stand together against it while first or second responders must deliver their part right.

"No matters what happens; what matters is how we behave when it happens".

It is time now to KNOW YOUR ENEMY and all their cronies; The best way to pay tribute and respects to the victims of foreign sponsored terrorist targeting is by not giving in to the design. Staying united, steadfast, resilient and strong willed is the most appropriate compliments to the fallen. 

Stand up and keep the guards in place while just don't give in to anti Pakistan rhetoric ; prove that we are ready to pay price for our sovereignty, national interests, solidarity, the Kashmir stance, CPEC and for a legitimate role in regional power equations.

About the author: Lieutenant General Agha Umer Farooq (retired) besides serving in Pakistan army for almost four decades is Forner member Board of Directors at Higher Education Commission, Pakistan, and UNODC - United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and India - Pakistan Track 2 Mil to Mil Dialogue. He is presently Pakistan's ambassador to Nigeria.

Photo Courtesy: Outside the beltway
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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pakistan-US Relations: An open letter to the US Congress

The US - Pakistan relations have never been easy and have remained tense most of the time since the creation of Pakistan. The changing geo-political situation around Pakistan has been the major contributing factor. But despite Pakistan's efforts to side with the US and try its best to continue to be its best ally, the US has always views its relations with Pakistan with uneasiness.

While Pakistan sided with US and was the major US partner to defeat the Russians when the invaded Afghanistan in the 1980, Pakistan was abandoned soon after the Russians left.  The Americans again returned to Pakistan for help when they invaded Afghanistan after 9/11, but soon suspicion returned and as of today, the US Congress is mouthful of mistrust and showing visible signs of breaking away from Pakistan yet again.

Recently the US congress was seen spewing venom against Pakistan and asking to declare Pakistan as an enemy state. The comments seem to portray the bitterness in US about Pakistan's closing in to China and opening a corridor of friendship from deep seaport of Gwader on the Arabian Sea to China, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Lieutenant General Tariq Khan, a well read and respected Pakistan army retired officer, who has been awarded the coveted Legion of Merit by the US for his services to bridge gap between US and Pakistan, has written an open letter to the US Congress, airing his very candid and bold views about the US policies and stance against Pakistan in his Facebook page. The letter is herein shared for general reading and showing his perspective:

To the US Congress:

I was amazed to hear your one sided debate where your Congressmen were foaming at the mouth to declare Pakistan an enemy state. They sounded so committed that one could be forgiven for believing that they meant it and knew what they were talking about. Most of the speakers, heavily sponsored by India would not be able to find Pakistan on a map let alone make an intelligent comment on the regional environment. I shall not stoop to respond to the meaningless charge-sheet bandied about by this anti Pakistani lobby, a bunch of stooges who not only do a great disservice to democracy and the US image but are responsible for the very foreign policy blunders the US is suffering the consequences of today. So here are some points that need to be understood, considered and explained:

1. The US and it's Coalition partners have lost the war in Afghanistan. It will be recognised as one of the greatest military defeats in history when all the dust and debris settles down.

2. This loss has affected Pakistan the most. Barring the political rhetoric we hear about the situation and viewing it more from a State's perspective, only a fool would see a benefit for Pakistan in this US defeat.

3. It is natural for those responsible for this disaster to invent reasons for their failing and look for an appropriate whipping boy. That the narrative that needs to be manufactured for both is a product of this military defeat.

4. That India is exploiting the situation and working herself into a position where She can promote the US agenda and defame Pakistan is a no-brainer.

5. That Pakistan has made mistakes and bad choices is not contested but to define these decisions as State Policy intended to come in the way of a US victory is not only childish but ludicrous.

6. That the US has a bad precedence of letting down its allies is very well recorded and documented in history. Some US-PAK experiences illustrating this are: The Somalia case where after entering with all the pomp and panoply the US ran unilaterally and returned home. The US left Pakistan on the beaches and withdrew under its protection. That Hollywood was encouraged to screen, 'Black Hawk Down', depicting Pakistani soldiers as cowards whereas it was a Pakistani squadron of 19 lancers that fought it's way in and rescued the besieged Americans. This small truth was conveniently forgotten in making up of the narrative. Also, how after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan the US abandoned Pakistan with 3 million refugees, drugs and heavily armed Mujahidin Camps. One of the major causes of militancy all along the border today and one that apparently plagues the US security spectrum.

7. If there is an iota of truth where some of your Congressmen bravely shoot their mouth off in a one-sided harangue, they should look forward to a public debate on the matter also. I am sure we can produce someone to give them a run for their money if they are up to it. Is the US willing to hold a public enquiry to determine the causes of the American failure in Afghanistan? It will probably be a better road to take than to conveniently blame every tactical and operational defeat on Pakistan.

8. Can anyone amongst the US Congress explain the following:
- The US Strategy in Afghanistan? 
- The desired End State?
- The political and military objectives?
- The causes of a military defeat?
- The reasons for a political failure? 
- Was Pakistan your undoing?
9. I have personally been involved in US-Pak operations for years along this border and I know we could have resolved this conflict easily. However, we were played and influenced by factors, people and institutions that did not want such a resolution. Pakistan was not one of these but do the US and it's people even want to hear Pakistan's story? Do they have the stomach to grapple with reality? Can truth be given a chance?

10. For Pakistan: we have had enough. Let's move on. Being a US ally over the years has been a painful experience. We have now been declared an enemy state. 
Let our future relations with the US be governed by this fact first and foremost. 
In other words when we speak to the US again on any and every occasion, remember you are speaking to the enemy.

Answering to the questions on his post, the general elaborates his view point as under:

1. We must revisit our policies but for now sanctions or otherwise let's just breakaway. The fallout will effect every Pakistani and I would like to hear what these people have to say then? It may bring reality to the political rhetoric which would be a good thing. On the other hand, we need to confront these sell-out Congressmen on their own turf. This challenge must be widely publicized and repeated everywhere.

2. The USA is like a large river where the people on the banks benefit as long as the river stays the course. The moment the river changes course it leaves those people in the middle of a desert. Rivers do change course just as national interests and such changes are natural, normal and predictable. It's only us who think relationships are governed by moral values, honour, commitment and trust. Today, the US is a stranger in the region having lost the war in Afghanistan and has aligned itself with India, Afghanistan and Iran in a very overt manouevre which cannot escape anyone's attention. It is an attempt to reassert Herself and establish relevance. It is not working for them so far. 

3. Those who wish to remain in the US camp today must understand that it would involve compromising on CPEC, developing a friendly relationship with India as a product of Indian demands, assisting the US in containing the Chinese and giving up on the strategic deterrence, i.e. nukes. Today, without these compromises there is no question of bettering relations with the US even if we bend over backwards, hire a the best PR team and lobby on every hill outside the White House. The alternative is, get aggressive with Afghanistan, put India under moral and physical pressure, ignore Iran and expand the nuclear capacity in terms of range and second strike. Announce these as policy measures and hope that the world in general and the US in particular try and wean us away from possible confrontation and conflict. This may lead to a better relationship or even total annihilation, however, in my unqualified opinion, it is a calculated risk that will lead to a better relationship. Beggars cannot be choosers but destiny can be shaped so that a beggar does not remain a beggar. We feel that our foreign policy must be about pleasing everyone and disagreeing with no one. We also feel that dialogue and diplomatic initiatives can take off from a position of weakness. We think we can talk ourselves out of a difficult situation. 

We are always in search of something for nothing. We are never ready to show our strength and resolve.

Read more about Lieutenant General Tariq Khan at Wikipedia
Pak-US flags: Photo Credit
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Pakistan fighting the Militancy

The Bajour Agency operation was a major offensive undertaken by Pakistan Army and its Frontier Corps troops in the troubled north of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. Al Jazeera International broadcasting channel made a comprehensive tour of the area and interviewed the Inspector General of the Frontier Corps Pakistan Army Major General Tariq Khan, later lieutenant general. 

The report and interview has been compiled by Rageh Omaar, which covers the army operation in September 2009. I would not add anything from my end - just watch the video how the operation was launched and its dynamics. This is part one of the four series coverage of the operation.

Watch the video below:

The views and interviews conducted by the Al Jazeera International are exclusive to the channel and this writer does not take any responsibility of its substance in any manner. 

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Attacks on American Muslims growing uglier

The world seems to be taking a turn against Muslims after the 13 November Paris massacre. While Parisians have been reported attacking Muslims, specially women wearing hijab, things are also getting worse in USA, writes Petula Dvorak, a columnist of the Washington Post.

She asserts:
Political opportunists running for president have been cooking up a heaping platter of anti-Muslim sentiment since the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. They’ve geared us up for an epic hate giving with their ugly proposals to shut down mosques, register American Muslims and reject Syrian refugees who aren’t Christians.
She adds if you don’t think Muslims are under attack, take a look at what went down in the town of Fredericksburg last week:
The Islamic Center of Fredericksburg — a little brick building that looks like a bank branch office and has been around for 27 years — was skewered at a community meeting by a handful of seething people who see the center’s expansion plans as a threat to the very fabric of America. 
The tone of some of the influential and people who matter these days is worse than it was after the Sept. 11 attacks on our own soil. Recently Donald Trump, a candidate for the American presidency has vowed for the Registration by religion - mainly to single out Muslims. He also blurts to close all mosque in the USA. Imagine what would happen to USA if he becomes the president.

Does it sounds like a country with a First Amendment that enshrines freedom of religion?

Of many examples, here is one which shows the changing tone of the Americans, writes Petula Dvorak:
In the midst of all this, a young Maryland man driving home from work spotted a woman with a flat tire stranded on the side of the road. She had an infant and a toddler with her. He stopped to help her and told her his name was Ali.
She asked whether he was Muslim. When he said yes, according to his widely circulated post on Facebook, the woman told him that she didn’t need help “from you people.”
This is just the beginning - God knows whether it gets worse or finally the sanity prevails upon people who think that all Muslims are terrorists.

Excerpts from the Washington Post

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Pakistan-India Relations: A different viewpoint

By Lieutenant General Tariq Khan (Retired)

Lately India has embarked upon a aggressive campaign against Pakistan, both politically and militarily, maligning it in everything that happens in their country. For some reasons, we try to downplay each event for the sake of 'improving' relations, while Indians do not let go even the smallest incident by implicating Pakistan. If both the two nations eat 'aloo gosht' it does not mean we are friends or the same breed.

Here is a different viewpoint about the recent Indian aggressiveness against Pakistan by Lieutenant General Tariq Khan (Retired), who is the recipient of the coveted sword of honour from Pakistan Military academy, and has a vast experience of watching closely both eastern and western frontiers of the country, commanding an Armoured Division and Infantry Division in the Taliban infested South Waziristan. Tariq Khan also led the Frontier Corps to victory against the Taliban in the Battle of Bajaur. He has also worked closely with the coalition forces in Afghanistan. Besides he has had an extended tenure at the CENTCOM where he received United States Legion of Merit for meritorious services as a liaison officer at CENTCOM during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Here is what he has to say about Pakistan-India relations:

The Indians keep talking of having got hold of damning evidence in the Dinanagar Case. Let's examine it and I do not think our intelligence needs me to defend them. First, it is obvious that it is not in Pakistan's interest to escalate matters now but it is in India's interest to create some sort of a confusion for the following reasons:

1. Pakistan is about to take the Indians to the cleaners in the Baluchistan matter in the Security Council.

2. Apparently some progress was being made in the Afghan reconciliation which at its conclusion is not likely to allow an Indian role in Afghanistan.

3. The CPEC and it's effects.

4. The uprising of the Sikhs in Punjab.

5. The MQM factor and stabilisation of Karachi.

These are some of the major points to consider whereas more can also be proffered. Some questions for the Indians to consider:

1. Claiming they have irrefutable GPS data seems to look as if these jokers have seen a GPS for the first time. Data can be added and the GPS could also be planted, which in this case is probable. After all, they are so smart and we so foolish that we infiltrate into enemy territory with a sign posted to say, 'I am from Pakistan' and of all people they discover it.

2. How did these infiltrators cross the River Ravi when it's in full flood, spanning 1000 meters with a massive discharge of water?

3. If the fence is so ineffective why spend so much on it. It maybe preferable to spend it on the thousands starving in the nude on Delhi's streets

This brings me to the threats: I think we have heard enough from the Indians, we have never threatened them, so what's stopping this declared terrorist who is their PM who is hiding his train massacre of Muslims and threatening us from the comforts of his office?.

As for Kashmir, it shall never be theirs and the matter will be resolved. To the Indians I would say it's a question of time. Our own weaknesses and internal bickering has delayed the matter; when we are ready I can promise you we shall come to get what's ours. Hopefully you will not have to wait too long.

Leaving aside the war that they won by supporting a separatist movement in East Pakistan, they, who are 8 times are size have nothing to brag about. In 1948 we got most of our Kashmir by the Pashtuns alone, in '65 we got the rest of what we have through Gen Akhtar Malik's offensive. Have they forgotten Ran of Kutch? Sialkot was the largest tank battle after world war two and they got thrashed; must have been the largest thrashing in military history by that equation and that too by one regiment alone, 25 Cavalry? ??? Do they remember MM Alam, in case they need a reference they need to look at the Guinness book of records, a Pakistani fighter pilot who took out 5 Indian hijras in one engagement. So, yes, I for one would welcome an Indian adventure, haven't been to India and would love to see the monuments attributed to our forefathers in Delhi and Agra etc.

The other issue is of the waters that the Indians are trying to choke off. Well I would welcome any investment in dams and other such projects. We have never been good at these but since we are likely to inherit these structures I would request that we should closely supervise them for good quality and not cutting edges here and there.

Last of all; every dog has his day and we will come for you Indians. You will have to destroy us if you do not want that to happen.

We are not an ordinary Army, we have our moments of glory too. We moved 3.5 million people out of Swat and relocated them. Cleared the Valley of militants in 3 months and moved the people back to their homes. Unprecedented in military history and the closest to this was the international community trying to move 3 million Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan and failing even after 30 years. 

We are the Army that has cleared 3500 kms of road in the conflict zone and control our lines of communications unlike the Coalition of 35 countries, hunkered down in static garrisons, whimpering, frightened and awaiting relief every six months while they paid the Taliban goodwill money not to attack them. They, the conquerors of Afghanistan have now run with their tail between their legs while we are here to stay. What of the Cambrian Patrol where our Army was pitched against the best, UK, USA, Russia, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Germany, Italy and you, India. We stood first in the world. No we are not an ordinary Army and rue the day when you the Indians have to face us again.

Some may think I am India centric, well yes I am and proud of it. I have considered them to be my enemy for 35 years and was paid to do so. I have no other way of looking at it. I am neither a politician or a diplomat and thus am liberated from the pseudo intellectual debate of 'how it would benefit both of us to improve relations'. This is an enemy state and this ambiguity must be addressed, we work against each other's interests and who ever does it better, wins. 

The view appeared on Facebook recently

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Pakistan at the crossroads - yet again

Those who are following the recent events in the region would find a very grim situation for Pakistan. The Afghans have openly accused Pakistan for the recent Kabul attack and a faction of afghans have even gave fatwa to wage war against 'infidel Pakistan.' 

While Afghans are seen burning Pakistan flags and currency notes, the Afghan soldiers are seen trampling Pakistan flag. And on 15 August, Indian flags were displayed to celebrate Indian independence day. 

Even in England, hardliner Muslims are seen chanting dirty slogans against Pakistan (see photo above) and calling it an infidel state.

Our foreign policy is a total chaos while India is winning on all fronts including Afghanistan and Iran - and have found inroads in Arab countries by taking advantage of our reluctance to support them against Yemen. While we lost our grounds in Arab states merely to appease Iran, Iran ignored it blatantly and extended its hands of further friendship to India while Saudi Arabia for the first time in its history allowed Indian air force jets on its soil - as part of its extended future defence ties with India.

Our leaders are engrossed in playing dirty politics and seem oblivious of the precarious situation Pakistan is facing these days. It seems the politicians are trying to gain more economically from India than standing up to it for the harm it is doing to our country and our relations with the Arab world. 

As for the Pak-Afghan relations, some analysts even fear a comeback of Pakhtoonistan thing once again. 

On the inner front, the cleansing operation in Karachi from serial killers and extortionists has gained many successes. But one leading political party which has its strings attached to London has resigned from assemblies in protest for its own workers being targeted. A sane man would say how come after the operations the numbers of deaths in Karachi have reduced? How come people of Karachi came out in vast numbers to celebrate the independence day after years of token attendance? 

We have proofs of involvement of foreign countries - but we seem reluctant to openly announce it and protest against it while other countries like India, Iran and Afghanistan do not take a minute to blame Pakistan for something going wrong in their countries.

Already Indian PM is in UAE taking advantage of the wedge created between UAE-Pakistan relations after Pakistan's stance on Yemeni issue and is making inroads for greater Indian role in UAE - and UAE has 'graciously reciprocated' by allowing an Indian mandar on its soil for the Hindus working in UAE.

There are still debates on who created terrorists and Taliban and who is to be blamed. But haven't we have focused enough on the past, abusing and criticising Zia and others. This would solve no problem we are facing today. Time has come that instead of wasting our energies on criticism and analyses (which has been done in abundance by all and sundry), now let us look forward and draw out our future response and strategy. We have yet to evolve a response to what is going to happen when army operation comes to an end - do we have a mechanism to ensure that terrorists do not surface yet again and we don't get into this filthy quagmire once again?

Is someone listening, watching and THINKING?

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kalabagh Dam: When would be the consensus reached?...

Jaho Jalal: Kalabagh Dam: When would be the consensus reached?...: [ Photo ] The monsoon and the floods are here yet again. Beside the devastation these would cause, a large amount of water - millions...

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