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Pakistan Press (24 Jun 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

ISIS Can’t Only Be Defeated by Military Means: New Age Islam’s Selection, 24 June 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

24 June 2016

IS Can’t Only Be Defeated By Military Means

By Manish Rai

Towards A Prosperous Balochistan

By Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri

Selective Religiosity

By Zehra Abid

The Perils Confronting Pakistan

By Malik Muhammad Ashraf

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


IS Can’t Only Be Defeated By Military Means

By Manish Rai

 24-Jun-16 59

The Islamic State (IS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) stormed Iraq in 2014 with its takeover of major Iraqi and Syrian cities by exploiting Sunni Arab grievances in Iraq and chaos in the neighbouring Syria. But the militant group is steadily losing ground in both the countries. The so-called caliphate is on the back foot. Even some analysts predicated that the IS has, more or less, passed the peak of its military power on the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields. If the IS continues to lose territory at the same pace, some people believe that the year 2016 could well be its last to one function as a pseudo state.

The IS has lost about 45 percent of its territory in Syria and 20 percent in Iraq since the peak of its control in August 2014, according to estimates by some American analysts. With every town and village that is lost, the group also loses income that comes from fines and taxes. Their oil industry has been bombed — its main source of funding — and supply lines into Turkey almost cut. The overall effect of all these losses on the group’s funding, leadership, arms, propaganda communications and manpower is immense, and it surely degrades the group’s fighting capabilities.

The CIA now estimates that the IS currently has 20,000 to 25,000 fighters on the ground, which is the lowest force level since the end of 2014. The IS’s ability to function as a military pseudo-state is troubled because it is finding it difficult to replenish its armed ranks. Various forces are squeezing the caliphate at multiple points simultaneously, and the ISIS cannot resist everywhere. Even the current affiliates of the IS in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula face stiff competition from local rival groups and rising counterterrorism pressure from their states. But forcing the IS out of the cities and territories that it currently holds is unlikely to lead to its demise.

The ISIS may revert to its previous tactics on the lines of an insurgency; there would be sleeper cells, bombings, kidnappings and assassinations. It is going to be an ongoing process, and the IS even after losing its core territory can run a bloody deadly insurgency for years. The IS is a hybrid organisation. Its members with disparate backgrounds combine to transform an insurgent force into a formidable army that can shift from acting like a guerrilla militia to a conventional army, all the while fighting on multiple fronts hundreds of miles away from its logistical bases. The core of the IS is the former Saddam Hussain-era army and intelligence officers, particularly from the Republican Guards, which provide the IS with good military strategy when it’s combined with insurgency experience of its fighters who come from various parts of the world. Then it makes the IS a very different type of a terrorist organisation that can fight as a conventional force and can even run an insurgency campaign.

The IS can find other unstable places on the globe that it can use as its base. At present, Libya looks the most promising. It has just the kind of failed-state anarchy, the “savagery” that leaves room for the jihadists to move in, forging alliances with local militants and disgruntled supporters of the overthrown regime. Just like Iraq.

Moreover, the IS — the best-funded terrorist organisation history has ever seen — can run a successful insurgency campaign with its deep pockets. The group financing is certainly more reminiscent of a state than that of organisations such as the al-Qaeda, which relied heavily on donations to fund their operations.

 So it would be erroneous to assume that the IS would simply melt away by suffering military defeats in Syria and Iraq. With its surviving fighters the IS can certainly engage in guerrilla warfare in the whole of the Middle East, and in direct or inspired suicidal bombing operations within its global network. Already, the group has stepped up the pace of suicide bombings in Baghdad, Damascus, and elsewhere in an apparent attempt to assert its presence even as it is defeated on the ground.

Both the military and counterinsurgency strategy is required for the complete defeat of the IS. The core assumption of any counterinsurgency strategy is that the enemy has significant support in the communities from which it recruits and gets support.

The aim of effective counterinsurgency strategy is to deny the enemy any propaganda victories that can further fuel its recruitment and support base. Unfortunately, the ISIS is very good in its propaganda war; it always tries to show the ongoing war in the region as a new form of crusade that its soldiers are fighting for to “defend the faith.” We should not allow the IS to brand itself as the icon of global jihadism, broadening its affiliate and allegiance-based networks. As such, a longer-term strategy needs to be developed, which includes prevention of further proliferation of the group within the Middle East and beyond.

This approach needs to address ways of decreasing the group’s appeal within the region. Also, the local divisions and regional sectarianism that fuelled the rise of the IS should also be taken care off, so that the IS could not return to the places from where it was driven out.

Manish Rai is a columnist for the Middle East and Afghanistan-Pakistan region, and Editor of View Around, a geopolitical news agency.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/24-Jun-16/is-cant-only-be-defeated-by-military-means


Towards A Prosperous Balochistan

By Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri

June 23, 2016

The people of Balochistan constitute the truest example of the democratic function that can be found in any fledgling democracy. As a province with a vast and valuable reserve of natural resources, much of it is yet to be utilised, perhaps its greatest resource is its population. A rugged and courageous people embodying the indomitable spirit of the region, they have stood time and again to face a variety of challenges and obstacles. Anyone fortunate enough to be entrusted with the office of chief minister for such a diverse body of people must first recognise that he can no more hold one alliance dearer than another than have a favourite child. The need of the hour is a comprehensive and cohesive plan to deliver basic amenities to every citizen, in every corner of the province.

Over the past couple of months, the Balochistan government has initiated a series of seminars to involve members of the general public in an endeavour that affects them more than any other act of government: the formulation of the budget. The evolution of these sessions resulted in this month’s budget seminar. Government officials, high-ranking army officers, members of the media, and representatives of the general public came together to discuss concerns relating to the province’s development. Information and analyses were shared regarding the allocation of resources in previous years, and the public weighed in on the strengths and weaknesses of these allocations. The rationale was that a well thought-out plan by the provincial government, which had the support of the people, would be the optimal way to utilise the support that the federal government had been scrupulous and conscientious about offering to its largest province.

The inclusive nature of such discourse dovetailed nicely with what has long been one of the province’s most major concerns, its education system. Fine-tuning the government’s approach to both development and monitoring in this area, Balochistan hopes to further develop and strengthen institutions of higher learning in every area of the province. The aim is to not only provide the citizens of Balochistan with viable, high-quality options for educating their children in their own province, but to establish some of Pakistan’s finest institutions of higher learning, creating attractive options for students from all over the country. Achieving this is just one of the ways that Balochistan aims to provide for the province’s disenfranchised youth. These young people are a matter of great importance for the provincial government, as it attempts to cater to their unmet needs and to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in every hardship. The province’s youth are not only a vital resource of but are also united with the government in calling Balochistan their home. As such, the government sees this as a highly opportune time for the suffering seen by the province to come to an end, and peaceful progress to take place.

The government’s efforts to provide clean water to a large area speak of its indomitable will. In the near future, with Gwadar port becoming operational and with the advent of the CPEC, Balochistan can expect to see a massive influx of economic activity. The government is now dedicating its resources to preparing both its infrastructure and people to absorb this activity. The creation of industrial zones, the building of a network of motorways, and the training of a skilled workforce are at the forefront of the recognised needs of the people of Balochistan.

In keeping with this movement towards a higher standard of living, Balochistan is attempting to improve the quality and accessibility of its healthcare. This is vital if Pakistan’s largest province is ever to become entirely self-sufficient in a manner that would guarantee its inhabitants the same quality of life that other provinces enjoy. This vision is one that the Balochistan government feels it is honour-bound to attain for its people. Never before has the province been in such a unique position of opportunity in terms of attaining these goals. With the military’s support and that of development partners, both local and international, Balochistan stands poised to take its most significant steps towards progress, to date.

Balochistan has yet to take full advantage of its large mines of gold reserves, a valuable safety net for any economy. With large reserves of coal, gas and minerals, and the potential to generate solar and wind energy, the province’s inherent local wealth is undeniable. It is in the unique position to leverage these resources to cater to the needs of its own population and simultaneously, to be able to contribute significantly to Pakistan’s economic wellbeing. Additionally, the extensive rangelands found in the province are capable of supporting a large number of livestock, creating the potential for an international market for wool, and a thriving local market for dairy and meat.

Balochistan accounts for about 745kms of Pakistan’s 1,050km coastline. Its ports, too, account for a great deal of its measurable economic potential. The province is home to a booming fisheries industry as well as trade opportunities that multiple ports can offer. The provincial government is also well aware of the inadequacies in the present transportation system and plans are underway to launch buses as well as begin work on improving the rail transit system. This will help to upgrade the transport system within cities and also provide additional facilities for the movement of cargo.

Yet another area of major concern for the provincial leadership is to work towards a strategy that would help to raise incomes by providing employment opportunities to the labour force. The success of such a strategy would be influenced to a great extent by the security situation prevailing in the region. The participation of the workforce in the development of the province will also automatically contribute towards improving the security situation. In order to do that, it will be essential to mobilise the resource base of the province as well as train the human resource and develop infrastructure.

In the undertaking of these endeavours, the Balochistan government is unified with its constituents, and is strongly of the opinion that the advancement of Pakistan’s largest province is sure to spell success for the whole nation.

Source: Tribune.com.pk/story/1129010/towards-prosperous-balochistan/


Selective Religiosity

By Zehra Abid

June 23, 2016

“Who represents Islam, Muhammad Ali or Omar Mateen?” Truth is, they both do. The question of who represents Islam and who is a Muslim comes after every other terror attack now, because unfortunately every major attack, be it in Belgium, France, the US or Nigeria, is traced to a Muslim. With Muhammad Ali’s recent death, this time it is the above-mentioned (rhetorical) question that is posed by many Muslims around the world in online debates as a defence of Islam.

As investigations continue into the Orlando shooting, there could be very many truths to this particular attack. But regardless of how much religion played a part in this, it is still worth considering why the defence of personal faith is a near immediate reaction to acts of mass violence. After all such attacks, there often appears to be a unity in argument of Muslims around the world, that ‘this is not what Islam preaches’. If this reaction is based on the sense of being part of a collective, then it should be questioned why it does not extend to owning the very real problem of religious extremism. It has become deeply depressing how when in any part of the world a terrorist attack happens, the debate so quickly changes from the act of violence itself to a victimisation of Muslims. Charlie Hebdo is an important case in point of blaming the victim. This is not to underestimate the suffering of people who suffer discrimination on account of their religious belief, but there are times, when it is not the most opportune moment to point out how something may impact your religious image. Some instances of great tragedy are just moments of grief alone.

Because is Islamophobia worse than the possibility of a mother knowing her child is dying, the fear of knowing you are next in line to be killed, or waiting to know if someone you deeply love is on the list of the dead? And if it’s not worse, then how can, possibly, a massacre like this not be a moment of grief alone? How can such a tragedy be anything other than just that — if even for a day? With respect to Orlando, many Muslims have again turned to the problem of Islamophobia and the defence that Islam does not preach this. But commentators who argue for Islam being a religion of peace and the IS and al Qaeda a mere result of misreading the holy text out of context, forget that when there is room for interpretation, then there will be different interpretations and it is only a matter of personal opinion as to whether religious texts are being correctly interpreted or not. If direct, non-contextual religious teachings are acceptable on some grounds, then they would have to be acceptable on all. You cannot argue for the supremacy and progressiveness of Islamic law and then vehemently argue against an interpretation of it because it fits your purpose.

The argument of what is not Islam as a defence is then not only misleading but an obstacle to outrightly condemning violence. There needs to be a more honest and contextual reading of religion and its practice. There is nothing particularly radical or new about opening up debates on certain religious matters. Morocco’s feminist movement is an example where activists, who very much identify with Islam, after years of a dedicated movement, managed to change the family law in favour of a more egalitarian marriage contract, nearly prohibiting practices such as polygamy on the grounds of religion itself. Opening up debate on religion is most necessary as the problem of terrorism continues unabated. The argument of ‘this is not Islam’ and what being a Muslim ‘actually means’ is not evidence enough for Islam being ‘a religion of peace’ if, at the same time, we think it is okay to kill on matters of personal belief. As things stand, both Muhammad Ali and Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi represent Islam — depending on which way you look at it.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1129003/selective-religiosity/


The Perils Confronting Pakistan

By Malik Muhammad Ashraf

 24-Jun-16 146

The clash between the Pakistan and Afghan forces at the Torkham border crossing, reportedly provoked by the latter, was yet another manifestation of the long-simmering tension between the two countries behind the veneer of off-and-on bonhomie. Hamid Karzai, throughout his rule, had been accusing Pakistan of fomenting acts of terrorism in Afghanistan, thus endorsing the US allegation of Pakistan playing a double game. Pakistan has also been complaining about the use of Afghan soil for attacks against Pakistan. The amity developed with Ashraf Ghani after he became the president of Afghanistan, and the cooperation stitched between the two countries in the wake of the Army Public School (APS) attack, has, more or less, transformed into open hostility.

Viewed in the backdrop of the killing of Mullah Akhtar Mansour, and the efforts by some regional countries to isolate Pakistan, the incident is probably a premonition for things to come. It also indicates the perils that Pakistan is confronted with on the external front. It may be pertinent to point out that in the wake of the APS attack, the governments and intelligence outfits of Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed on the need for effective border management. This was preceded by a similar agreement between the two countries on the sidelines of the Chequers Summit in the UK in February 2013, which was facilitated by the British Prime Minister David Cameron.

According to the DG ISPR Asim Bajwa, before the launch of the Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the Afghan government and the ISAF were formally informed, and were asked to manage the border so that no militant could flee to Afghanistan. But regrettably, that did not happen, and as a result, it is said that many militants crossed over to Afghanistan, who have continued to carry out terrorist activities against Pakistan from their hideouts in Afghanistan. The attacks on the Budaber base and Bacha Khan University were masterminded by militants hiding in Afghanistan.

Under the circumstances Pakistan had no choice but to take effective measures to check and regulate across-the-border movement with a view to deny terrorists free access to their planned targets. Pakistan, therefore, was very much within its rights to erect a fence at the border, and install a gate at Torkham. Pakistan has a 2,450 kilometre long porous border with Afghanistan, with 200 crossing points, out of which only eight are manned by a minimal number of security personnel. Torkham is the biggest crossing point, and hence it was imperative to have an effective mechanism in place to check the free movement of people on both sides. Pakistan duly notified the Afghan government before installing the gate. In view of continued acts of terrorism in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, border management is in the interest of both the countries, and perhaps a very credible measure to prevent cross-border terrorism, provided there is a sincerity of purpose and the will to do it.

It is gratifying to note that finally sanity prevailed and the two countries agreed to hold a dialogue to resolve the issue. What is, however, noteworthy is that the Afghan government has thought it fit to downgrade the level of talks by sending its deputy foreign minister. Prime Minister’s Adviser On Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had invited the Afghan foreign minister and the national security advisor for the dialogue. The talks held at Islamabad have remained inconclusive, although both sides have agreed to continue building contacts for border management. The issue is likely to be discussed between the foreign minister of Afghanistan and Sartaj Aziz on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit on June 23-24 in Tashkent.

The US refusal to mediate between Pakistan and Afghanistan to de-escalate the tension — which the US could have done by using its influence on Afghanistan — and its tolerance of the presence of Mullah Fazlullah on the Afghan soil, smack of the US’s duplicitous role. Many analysts including myself believe that the US does not want peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of its new “great game” to “contain China” in this region and beyond. The clandestine US-India nexus to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the reported creation of a special cell in the RAW, and the US efforts to assign greater role to India in Afghanistan are indicative of the long-term US designs in the region. Ultimately, the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan would be the greatest losers if those plans come through. The Afghan leadership needs to wake up to the emerging realities and trust Pakistan’s efforts to promote Afghan-led process of reconciliation in Afghanistan. They must realise that peace in Afghanistan was also imperative for peace and security in Pakistan, and therefore, Pakistan would be the last country to see Afghanistan consigned to instability forever.

The Operation Zarb-e-Azb has been a tremendous success as far as the goal of clearing North Waziristan of terrorists is concerned. However, the elimination of terrorism from Pakistan and the region would depend on cooperation from Afghanistan and the ISAF forces. The foregoing facts reflect the security challenges that Pakistan faces on the external front. The best answer to these challenges and lurking dangers lies in putting our own house in order and forging an impregnable national unity.

Pakistan has achieved remarkable economic stability as a result of the macro-economic reforms introduced by the government; the international lending and rating agencies have been repeatedly acknowledging Pakistan’s success story. The Transparency International in its successive reports for the last three years has corroborated that there is decline in corruption in Pakistan. The most recent development in this regard is the reclassification of Pakistan as an emerging market by the MSCI after eight years’ absence of Pakistan from the radar of the MSCI. The MSCI is a leading provider of international investment decision support tools.

These gains need to be consolidated ensuring political stability and continuation of the democratic set-up. Political forces that are trying to create chaos in the country in their quest to settle scores with the government using the issue of the Panama leaks need to revisit their approach. They are consciously or unconsciously trying to destabilise the country through threats of street agitation, whereas Pakistan needs peace and stability the most.

Fighting the external and internal enemies who pose an existentialist threat to the country, and dealing with the challenge of terrorism, it is incumbent upon political leaders to act in a responsible way. And instead of dividing the nation they should use their collective wisdom to steer the country out of troubled waters. They must stop looking up to the military establishment to find solutions to all the problems and woes that the country is afflicted with. The military has done its part by demolishing the terrorist infrastructure in North Waziristan and sleeper cells of terrorists and their supporters. Now the politicians must rise to the occasion and prove their worth. Instead of wasting time on things of the past, they must focus on improving governance in the future. They must resolve their political differences on the platform of parliament, and trust and wait for the judgment of the people in the coming elections.

Malik Muhammad Ashraf is a retired diplomat, a freelance columnist and a member of the visiting faculty of the Riphah Institute of Media Sciences, Riphah International University, Islamabad.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/24-Jun-16/the-perils-confronting-pakistan

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/isis-can’t-only-be-defeated-by-military-means--new-age-islam’s-selection,-24-june-2016/d/107746


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