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Pakistan Press (14 Oct 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Militants Going Mainstream In Pakistan By Akbar Jan Marwat: New Age Islam's Selection, 14 October 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

14 October 2017

Militants Going Mainstream in Pakistan

By Akbar Jan Marwat

Return to Chautauqua

By Akbar Ahmed

Accountability within the Judiciary

By Basil Nabi Malik

Even You, Brutus?

By Dr Haider Mehdi

Diametric Change in Pak-US Ties

By Muhammad Usman

Time to Ratify the CTBT

By Rizwan Asghar

Ghosts from Vietnam

By Irfan Husain

A Never Ending War

By M Ziauddin

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Militants Going Mainstream In Pakistan

By Akbar Jan Marwat

October 14, 2017

THERE seems to be a clandestine move afoot to mainstream some of the militant organisations. The strange thing, however, is that none of our decision making authorities, like our government, Parliament, or even the defence establishment is willing to come out and make a clear policy statement about it. The ISPR chief, however, made some oblique remarks about some of these organizations contesting elections. This mainstreaming of militant outfits has started with the participation of some of these militant organizations — or their political fronts — in the by-election of NA-120. The Mili Muslim League (MML), the political front of Hafiz Saeed’s Lashkar-i-Tayyaba participated in the by-election. Its candidate, however, contested in an independent capacity, because the party is still not formerly registered with the Election Commission. The candidate took upwards of 5000 votes and came in 4th.

Saifullah Khalid, the son in law of Hafiz Saeed, leads the MML, which was launched on August 7 this year. Apparently encouraged by its election result in NA-120, the party has decided to contest the by-election to be held in NA-4 Peshawar. The party candidate Liaqat Ali Khan, a Veteran JUD leader, will also be contesting as an independent candidate. The party has still not been registered with the Election Commission, and as a matter of fact, the Interior Ministry has opposed the registration of MML. The ostensible reason given is the opposition of the Foreign Office due to negative feed back from world capitals. Just the other day election commission ruled, that the party could only be registered after it has been cleared by defence and security organizations.

The fact of the formation of MML was not noticed much in Pakistan, as many such religio-political Parties are formed in Pakistan on a regular basis. The news of the formation of MML was noticed more in the echelons of power in both India and the US. The reason for this heightened alert in both these countries seemed to be the connection of MML with Hafiz Saud, who is one of the most wanted man in both the countries. Hafiz Saeed, who was declared a terrorist by the US, was put under house arrest in January of this year. His party has protested the house arrest on the ground that the courts of Pakistan have acquitted him of all charges. When JUD was also banned after Lashkar-i-Tayyaba, Hafiz Saeed and his acolytes started using the non-government organization Falah-i-Insaniyat to do Charity Work.

There is no doubt that Hafiz Saeed enjoyed considerable freedom, in spite of strident criticism that the government received both at home and abroad. This freedom ostensibly came to an end with Hafiz Saeed’s house arrest in January. There are some very illustrious proponents of mainstreaming of militants. But almost all analysts agree, that this mainstreaming has to be accompanied by some strict pre-conditions and caveats. Some of these weighty arguments are as follows: Mainstreaming on the face of it appears to be a potentially beneficial strategy.

The rationale behind its usefulness goes something like the following: When religiously or ideologically motivated groups seek to gain power electorally, they have to broaden their appeal. As a result the less acceptable and polarizing ideas are abandoned in favour of a more moderate middle ground, in the hope of winning elections. Some of the examples that these proponents of mainstreaming give include the case of leftists in the west, making peace with social democracy to win elections. Another example oft quoted is that of Turkey’s old religious parties, reconciling with consumerism and market forces. These parties also learnt to contend themselves with personal spiritually by giving up the quest to Islamise the state. Other examples of mainstreaming that are given are those of Sinn Fein and (IRA) in Ireland. The example of LTTE in Sari Lanka and ETA in Spain and the Moro Islamic liberation front in Philippines are given as success stories. While on the surface there may be similarities between the above-mentioned cases and our local Islamist outfits. The cardinal difference, however, remains, that most of the above mentioned movements, aimed for independence of either a land mass or greater autonomy or self government. Our ideological Islamic movements on the other hand want nothing less than total takeover of the existing state and complete transformation of its legal and political system. This aim has some similarity with the leftists of the 20th Century.

Now coming to the prerequisites of such mainstreaming, it is essential to have on open debate in Parliament and social society, to develop as broad based a consensus as possible. A hasty mainstreaming may prove disruptive for the society. Similarly it is important to develop an effective Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) strategy before mainstreaming armed militant organizations. Unless effective DDR measures are taken, the risk of the society getting further radicalised is very real. Renouncing violence and rehabilitation of former armed members has to be an important prerequisite for mainstreaming also. Experiences in Africa and parts of Latin America bears witness to the fact, that reintegration works best when it is done through an organized political process. Input from political parties, civil society and academia is also important to arrive at a constitutional and sustainable mainstreaming of militants in the society.

Source: pakobserver.net/militants-going-mainstream/


Return to Chautauqua

By Akbar Ahmed


In June 2017, I was invited to address the Chautauqua Institution, which stretches over 750 acres in the picture-postcard lakeside town of Chautauqua in the westernmost part of the US State of New York. The Chautauqua Institution is a historic organization that began in 1874 as an adult education movement that soon spread far beyond the town where it originated and reached across the United States.

Many famous names have  spoken  or performed at Chautauqua including presidents like  Franklin Roosevelt, the aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, women’s suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and musicians like Duke Ellington. President Theodore Roosevelt called Chautauqua “the most American thing in America.”

Initially Chautauqua trained Christian Sunday school teachers, and this legacy can be seen in its “Palestine Park,” a small model of the Holy Land built to scale featuring hills, seas, and the various cities such as Jerusalem situated among them, with the lake serving as the Mediterranean. The park was created for nineteenth century visitors who would never have been able to go on a pilgrimage to the Middle East.

Chautauqua is a feast of culture with numerous events visitors can attend. There is a particular focus on religion and interfaith dialogue and I was hosted and welcomed on this, my fourth visit, by Chautauqua's Religion Department

Today, Chautauqua is a feast of culture with numerous events and visitors can attend one or another. There is a particular focus on religion and interfaith dialogue and I was hosted and welcomed on this, my fourth visit, by Chautauqua’s Religion Department. This year I spoke several days before Garrison Keillor, the noted American literary figure, and after Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of the UK and a performance by the well-known American pop musician Sheryl Crow. Also speaking was broadcasting legend Bill Moyers, and I had the opportunity to reconnect with him after many years and spend time with him and his wife Judith.

I was also able to take in some of the frequent concerts performed by various orchestras, including an evening showcasing the music of the famous nineteenth century German composer Richard Wagner in Chautauqua’s historic amphitheatre. The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra played perhaps his most famous composition, “The Ride of the Valkyries.” The following day, Carl LeVan, my colleague at American University and distinguished professor of African studies, showed us the beautiful garden dedicated to his father  in Chautauqua.

A capacity crowd attended my talk, entitled “Being Muslim Today: Building Bridges in an Age of Uncertainty” in an outdoor theatre known as the Hall of Philosophy that resembled the Parthenon in Athens. Maureen Rovegno, the guiding spirit behind the Religion Department and our gracious host, moderated my talk.  I discussed Muslim suffering around the world, including the dangers of Islamophobia in the West, the ongoing genocide of the Muslim Rohingya people in Myanmar, as well as the lynching of Muslims in India accused of eating beef. I spoke of the intolerable violence in the Muslim world in places like Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and the violence faced by people like Mashal Khan who was lynched in Pakistan—Muslims killing Muslims. I also spoke of non-Muslim suffering in the Muslim world, such as that experienced by the Copts in Egypt and Christians in Pakistan, and I stressed the need for understanding, dialogue, and friendship between people of different religions and cultures.

I discussed the solid foundations of peace in Islam, and gave examples of modern leaders, like Pakistan’s founder Mr M.A.Jinnah, and their attempts to promote inter-faith harmony. I talked of some initiatives I have been involved in to further these goals including my series of public dialogues to improve Jewish-Muslim relations with Judea Pearl, the father of the murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl; the “First Abrahamic Summit” in Washington, D.C. established to promote interfaith dialogue; and the quartet of studies I have conducted over the past decade examining Islamic-Western relations. The audience was very appreciative and I received two standing ovations.

Subsequently I screened my documentary film Journey into Europe in a packed hall and that was also very well received. I had screened a preliminary cut two years before at Chautauqua so it was gratifying to be able to return to show the finished film.

In my lecture I had cited an earlier president and author of America’s Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, and discussed his statue that can be found at the university he created, the University of Virginia. On the statue alongside Jefferson is an angel holding a tablet that reads “Religious Freedom, 1786” and includes the names of God in different religions including Allah.

It was ironic then that only few weeks later in Charlottesville, Virginia, amidst the beautiful gardens, hills, neat shops, and houses and the historic University of Virginia campus, the world saw a white nationalist rally featuring the KKK,  Nazi flags and salutes that resulted in violence, injuries, and, death under the very nose of Jefferson’s statue.

When she read my article, Mr Jinnah and the Rohingya, published in this paper, Maureen  wrote from Chautauqua,  “Dearest Akbar, I thank you so deeply for enlightening us about this heartrending history of the Rohingya and their currently getting-worse reality. Yours is the clearest elucidation of this tragedy. May the world heed this horrific reality. In the midst of my horror, I must admit my admiration for Mr. Jinnah...... and for you, dear Friend. All thanks and appreciation.”

I could see that the idea of Chautauqua was more relevant than ever in America today.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/14-Oct-17/return-to-chautauqua


Accountability within the Judiciary

By Basil Nabi Malik


I remember I had once been having a discussion with a former Supreme Court Justice about the state of the judiciary. The man is remarkable, and considered by me to be one of the most honourable judges to have graced the Supreme Court. He was and always will be my mentor.

This discussion was taking place well after the restoration of an 'independent judiciary', with its glory being in full display. I had been telling him that the biggest threat to the judiciary is not any external influence, but rather its lack of internal accountability. He rebuffed me by saying that there was internal accountability, but it simply was not apparent to the public. To this day, of the many things we discussed, this one comment gnaws at me.

Although stated in defence of the system in place, the statement was the exact reason why things were not right, and aren't even now. The very fact that we did not know what went on in such proceedings was a part of the problem, and this was giving rise to a series of questions. For example, how can an accountability process shrouded in secrecy ever be free of suspicion? How can an institution censure others for lack of transparency and inability to take action against black sheep amongst them, when it can barely tolerate the mere mention of impropriety in its own institution?

How can the system ever be improved if the judiciary is not seen to be responsive to criticism, complaints, and the pain and helplessness of litigants who have been at the receiving end of discredited judges?

How can non-transparent disciplinary proceedings, which allow judges to resign before sentencing, and then purportedly keep their pensions, and in all likelihood, their ill-gotten gains, ever be a deterrent for any other members of the judiciary? Would it not merely serve to embolden them?

How is it that the concept of 'justice not only being done, but must be seen to be done' applies to all but the judiciary itself? Surely this great institution, which mandates the public needing to see justice take place so as to repose faith in its existence can understand how having different rules for itself can be seen in a negative light?

How will the judiciary, with a straight face, convince a concerned litigant that everyone is equal before the law, when all they can see is the judiciary repeatedly refusing to open up its internal disciplinary proceedings and show to the world that it has nothing to hide?

How can the system ever be bettered if the judiciary is not seen to be responsive to criticism, complaints, and the pain and helplessness of those litigants who had been at the receiving end of discredited judges? These and many other questions remain to be answered by the proponents of the closed off disciplinary system. What has been afforded by them, however, are a series of justifications as to why proceedings should not be opened up.

They often say that opening up disciplinary proceedings to public scrutiny would irreparably damage the reputation of a judge who was wrongfully accused. However, the argument seems somewhat problematic. The very purpose of a transparent accountability process is to show the allegations to the world for what they really are, that is, if false, such allegations would be unequivocally laid bare on the touchstone of such transparency. If anything, the lack of transparency in the process would have a greater adverse effect on the reputation of judges, who even if found to be innocent, would still be subject to suspicion in the public.

It has also been argued that in corruption or misconduct being discovered and made public, the judiciary as an institution would come into disrepute for maintaining such individuals in its midst. However, the argument is non-sensical, and perhaps even circular. To sacrifice transparency to save repute is tantamount to sacrificing the citizenry to save the arbiter of their disputes. And such arguments are also somewhat ironical, considering that transparency is the one thing which could ensure that the moral authority of the judiciary to adjudicate is preserved.

In any case, the concerns relating to the collective and individual reputes of the judges, as epitomised by both arguments above, can be easily neutralised and addressed by putting in place a system in which the media is prohibited from commenting or reporting on such disciplinary proceedings, whilst ensuring that all manuscripts, documents, and records of such sessions are nonetheless publicly available on their website for public and private perusal.

As is clear from the above, for every justification in support of a non-transparent system, there shall arise multiple questions as to the purposes of such a closed system. A progressive judicial set-up with regressive practices is a dichotomy which will dissuade even the most ardent of supporters from unflinching support. And all that the ardent shall be left with, will be questions of what, why, who, and 'how'.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/14-Oct-17/accountability-within-the-judiciary


Even You, Brutus?

By Dr Haider Mehdi

October 14, 2017

It is not in my knowledge who, where, when, and why someone first said: “History repeats itself,” but the 19th century philosopher George Santayana wrote, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Perhaps that’s true in many ways and in various manifestations. At times, history repeats itself quietly, without warning, mysteriously. The comings, as they say, are sudden, unpredictable, dramatic, even rapturous — or frightening, cruel and merciless. The fact is that nature works in secretive and innumerably puzzling manners. It nullifies and invalidates the expected and normal rules of engagement and conduct in human experiences. It baffles and frustrates people. And generally speaking, the impacts and results of historical repetitions are consequential, lasting, and at times cause the entire discourse of human existence to drastically change.

Who could have imagined that Julius Caesar, the Roman emperor, would be assassinated on the floor of the Roman Senate soon after being ceremoniously declared perpetual dictator, stabbed by several senators with the final blow committed by no other than his most trusted friend, counsel and comrade, Brutus. Indeed, at that particular moment, as Julius Caesar lay bleeding to death, the entire course of Roman history abruptly changed.

The amazing thing in this history-changing episode, was that in a fraction of a moment Caesar did not have the slightest inkling of what was coming in that split second of that momentous instant. And all that Caesar could utter at his end was a surprised “Et tu Brute?” (Even you, Brutus?) seemingly realising his absolute ignorance of the actual state of affairs in his beloved empire, of the fact that his friends and fellow citizens were unhappy, dissatisfied, and disappointed in him as a person, in his political conduct, and in his role as their leader.

It is said that Caesar’s wife had a dreadful dream about her spouse’s assassination the night before he was stabbed to death by several senators and his comrade Brutus. And she begged Caesar not to go to the Senate the next morning. Perhaps she had sensed Caesar’s overbearing political ambitions and how his allure to personalised power was negatively impacting his role as the leader. Or perhaps she had a mystical premonition. However, Caesar was politically eliminated because his comrades, supporters, and friends could no longer trust his political judgment nor could they support his ego-centric political discourse which was harming the interests of the state.

History is witness to the fact that this kind of thing has happened numerous times in human history and it can happen again anytime.

The political crisis in contemporary Pakistan has a comparable analogy to history’s precedents. Julius Caesar did not die because of his wife’s premonition or frightening dream. Brutus believed that Julius Caesar was politically ambitious beyond the limits of acceptable political behaviour, and Caesar’s political elimination was a direct consequence of his conduct.

Similarly, Nawaz Sharif is not likely to attain political immortality because his daughter Maryam Nawaz and some of his loyalists endorse his overblown political ambition (seemingly a perpetual dictatorship) as an acceptable norm of political conduct. The fact of the matter is that the former prime minister has been disqualified because of charges of massive corruption, misuse of his powers, and amassing wealth beyond his legitimate means. There is not a single shred of evidence to suggest that Nawaz Sharif is a victim of some kind of conspiracy against him by anyone or any national institution.

However, it appears that Nawaz and his loyalists, at present, seem to view “politics” as a form of cinema — except that the former prime minister and his comrades are not the “heroes” in a film. What has happened to him is real. He has been accused of gross political misconduct by the highest judicial court of the country and, in the spirit of democratic principles, it is his legal, moral, and ethical responsibility to put his defence before the court and the nation in a lawful manner, that is, if he truly has any reliable defence to offer.

Let this be a warning to Nawaz: “You can fool some of the people some of the time…but not all of the people all of the time.” Politics is not “cinematography” or an “art of deception,” or “fortune-telling” or even “theatrics” staged to acquire the political immortality dreamed of by one’s favourite child.

Political management is a real serious thing intertwined with the lives of “real people” with their “real problems” and seeking “real solutions.” What the disqualified ex-PM is doing these days is purely staging melodramatic theatrics, putting the nation’s safety and well-being at stake — a horrible ethical-political discourse. It must stop and it will stop, whether the Sharif family likes it or not!

Mind it, betrayals by loyalists and comrades is a historical reality — and it may hit the present-day political campaign of the ex-PM at any time.

The psychology implicit in treacherous behaviour is not difficult to comprehend. Some simply do it for personal rewards in its different manifestations. Some betrayal is caused by monetary reasons; however, in many instances, the betrayal behaviour is conclusively triggered by what is called the need for self-preservation or self-interest. In a political culture like Pakistan, it is always the imposing compulsion of vested interests that infuse the betrayal behaviour. It is an extremely powerful and forceful motivational factor.

When a loyalist or close associate of a powerful leader feels that the said leader’s personal conduct or political ambition or emerging personal conduct of despotic attitude or overbearing personal interest is likely to harm the loyalist’s interests and might irrevocably damage the faithful’s political advantages and position, at that moment, the “devoted” decides to retaliate and distance him/herself from such leadership. At once, the friend turns into foe and becomes politically active to neutralise the said leader’s importance in the conduct of national politics.

Let’s get back to Nawaz’s problematic political saga post-disqualification. Already the cracks and dissensions in the ranks of his close associates appear to be happening. But Nawaz and his daughter are not willing to give up, and they are demanding absolute loyalty from their political associates. It is reported in the media that already some of Sharif’s loyalists have visited his mother requesting her to counsel her son to accept his fait accompli. Only last week, over 30 members of his political party walked out of the assembly, and his younger brother is reported to have counselled him not to engage in confronting national institutions.

Indeed, the entire nation hopes and prays for Nawaz’s long and healthy life. For he should have a full opportunity to clear his name in the court of law and before the nation by fair means — and if he cannot prove his innocence, Nawaz must be dealt with by the full force of the law and the constitution of the land.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1530718/even-you-brutus/


Diametric Change in Pak-US Ties

By Muhammad Usman

October 14, 2017

SINCE its inception, Pakistan made a lot of overtures to US for friendly relationship based on commonality of interests ie democracy, fundamental human rights, right of private ownership, etc. We often hastened to underline our strategic location in relation to oil-bearing areas of ME and willingness to stand against possible Russian thrust towards warm waters. Initial US response was unenthusiastic. It took two years for US to realize strategic importance of Pakistan. It was this assigned role, which made Pakistan a keystone in arc of their security as often professed by them. Regardless of ups and downs in relationship, Pakistan remained on their roster.

In Dec 1979, when Russian tanks rolled in Kabul. Pakistan fought splendidly as a frontline state. The Russian had to roll back in April 1988 with ultimate end of Soviet Union. In region now situation has changed diametrically. It is 180-degree swing. Earlier Pakistan was their bulwark, duly indoctrinated against communism, now it is the facilitator of same access through CPEC to all including Russia. China is the main beneficiary. Pakistan has shown enough resolve and energy to stick around CPEC project as planned because it has the potential to benefit Pakistan.

It has upset the US because its vital interest remains the same with addition of China; containment of China and Russia both. Now China is its main contender. Great game is again on with different setting. India is US’s main subsidiary. Afghanistan is the base. On other side, it is Pakistan, China and Russia. Other inclusion could be of Iran. Earlier US was a either master or friend. Now it is an unflinching adversary because interests of a big super power are more sacrosanct and unexceptionable. Pakistan should not expect a quarter in quarrel. People continue to blame government for its failure in diplomacy for situation so obtained. It is less than fair because when situation takes so 180 degree swing, possibly no diplomacy could work until its basic contours are changed.

US has pressed the button while declaring that CPEC passes through a disputed territory. US has also questioned its conceptual merit of connectivity and collective global good. It has asserted that in a globalized world, there are many belts and many roads and no one nation put itself into a position of dictating OBOR. It is a gauntlet thrown on China. Though opposition of US was on cards however, its public announcement is a major development. It is a spanner in works. Given conditions, battle would be fought asymmetrically on the name of fighting against terrorism with ultimate purpose of instability in region. It would give a casus belli to US to stay in Afghanistan internationally as well as domestically.

The instruments of instability are no more indiscernible. Vocally Former Afghan President, Hamid Karzai has blown the whistle. He has alleged US forces for helping militant Islamic State group in Afghanistan. Terrorist group has been able to spread its tentacles in the country under nose of US Forces and CIA. Safe havens have been established for Pakistan specific terrorist group across Pak Afghan border under patronage of RAW and Afghan NDS. Both call shots against Pakistan in league with each other. US prefers to keep silence. Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar and Mazar Sharif are working overtime to foment unrest in Pakistan through subversion, sabotage, terrorism and separatism. New US South Asia policy is aimed to up the ante. Greater role to India in Afghanistan by US is nothing but to intensify work against Pakistan. US Secretary of State, Tillerson and US Secretary of defence, Jame Mattis are visiting Pakistan shortly back to back. Prior visit of US Assistant Secretary of State; an anti-Pakistan is a prelude what top Secretaries would bring to heap on Pakistan if it does not succumb; coercion and intimidation. Its explicit manifestations could be more drones, boots on ground and sanctions etc. it is a tough dilemma.

In testing times, importance of a capable and credible leadership at top could not be overemphasized. On this account, we are in doldrums. Our government takes time to join national response, acts a little and then drifts away. Its latest edition is a statement of our Foreign Minister; an offer to US for in – sync operations against Haqqani network. It is absolutely absurd. No sovereign nation could do this. Earlier he spoke about Lashkar-i-Tayyaba and Jaish-i-Mohammad. These are our liabilities. We do not have assets to deal with them. We need time. These statements are tantamount to accepting US’s charge sheet in Toto. In foreign relations, even a big friendly super power in neighbourhood is a problem. Inviting a big super power inside is beyond comprehension. The government needs to put its house in order urgently because threats are multiple, immediate and pressing.

Source: pakobserver.net/diametric-change-pak-us-ties/


Time to Ratify the CTBT

By Rizwan Asghar


Over the past two decades, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has emerged as one of the top-tier international organizations with an impressive record of achievements. The International Monitoring System and on-site inspection capabilities have made it impossible for any state to conduct nuclear tests without being caught.

The world has been waiting for a complete ban on nuclear testing for almost five decades. As of October 2017, 183 states have signed and 166 have ratified the treaty. However, despite having worldwide support and state-of-the-art detection capabilities, the CTBT languishes in a state of limbo created by an unwillingness on the part of certain countries to ratify the treaty. The lack of concrete progress on the nuclear test accord has led to frustration among many non-nuclear weapon states.

The Trump administration remains annoyingly silent, showing little willingness to consider the treaty on its merits. Historically, the United States has always been a key advocate of agreements to support nuclear testing. President Eisenhower and his successor John F. Kennedy devoted a great deal of effort to negotiate a comprehensive ban but could not succeed because compliance with the CTBT was unverifiable at that point in time. The early signs of opposition to the CTBT emerged in the early 1980s because of security related concerns.

The road to the twin goals of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament goes through a universal ratification of the CTBT. A test ban treaty would prevent China from further advancing its nuclear capabilities and stop the vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons in the existing nuclear states

The failure of the US to ratify the test ban treaty in 1999 struck a major blow to the existing global non-proliferation disorder. After 2008, the Obama administration expressed a commitment to move forward on the nuclear disarmament agenda. But the CTBT remains unfinished business. The Obama administration's efforts to start negotiations were hamstrung by partisan differences and a strained relationship between the White House and Congress.

Under the Trump administration, the likely prospects of US Senate holding another vote on CTBT's ratification are not too bright because the ratification of the treaty requires a significant investment of political capital from the White House. Influential Republicans in the Senate are also opposed to the idea of taking another look at the nuclear test ban treaty. While opponents of the CTBT frequently mention the possible vulnerability of America's nuclear arsenal, domestic politics will shape any future outcome of the treaty.

Some experts argue that the political circumstances for the ratification of the CTBT might not be ripe today. Notwithstanding the plausibility of this view, pitching nuclear testing ban as an issue of national security in the US can help prevent it from once again becoming a victim of partisan politics.

One of the reasons why the CTBT was rejected by the US Senate in 1999 was the lack of knowledge about its security benefits in the days leading up to the vote. Opponents of the CTBT argue that nuclear testing is required to maintain a high level of confidence in nuclear stockpiles in the United States. However, this argument is no longer valid since, under the science-based Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program, the US does not need to resort to nuclear testing to maintain the safety and reliability of its existing nuclear-weapon stockpiles.

Another point of criticism is that CTBT's monitoring and verification systems are not capable of preventing cheating by identifying secret nuclear tests. Even this argument does not withstand scrutiny.  The CTBTO has a very sustainable and verification regime. The International Monitoring System (IMS) with its 321 monitoring stations and 16 radionuclide laboratories is fully operational and capable of detecting nuclear explosions anywhere across the globe.

There is a strong political imperative for the US Senate to re-evaluate the merits of CTBT with a fresh perspective. Strong bipartisanship and a well-executed ratification campaign can help CTBT advocates turn the tide in their favour. Any future vote on the CTBT must be preceded by extensive hearings that address the concerns of the treaty's opponents. A multi-pronged strategy is required that is aimed at building bipartisan support in US Senate. Disarmament advocates should particularly approach those Republican senators who have not been exposed to this debate before and educate them about the benefits of the treaty.

If the US takes the lead and ratifies the treaty, it will restore its credibility on nuclear non-proliferation issues. It will serve as a catalyst for similar action by other states. US ratification will set in motion a good domino effect, pushing many other states - including China, India, Pakistan and possibly Iran - to ratify the treaty.

The road to the twin goals of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament goes through a universal ratification of the CTBT. A test ban treaty would prevent China from further advancing its nuclear capabilities and stop the vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons in the existing nuclear states. Since CTBT imposes a zero-yield ban on the testing of nuclear weapons, it will be difficult for other nations to cheat.

As a republican president, Donald Trump has greater political ability to make sure that the US ratifies the treaty. The greatest arms control cuts in the past 40 years have been done by republican presidents. The ratification of the CTBT will not only promote nuclear disarmament but also help us reach the ultimate goal of elimination of all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.

s a CTBTO youth member, I feel a strong urge to engage on this issue and produce policy initiative to help win negotiations for the CTBT. Pakistan should also ratify the CTBT and play its role in making the world a better place for the next generation.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/14-Oct-17/time-to-ratify-the-ctbt


Ghosts from Vietnam

By Irfan Husain

October 14, 2017

READERS of my generation will no doubt recall the horrors of the Vietnam War in which countless lives were lost in a pointless conflict.

I was in my early 20s when the Tet Offensive of 1968 shattered American illusions that the Vietcong were on the verge of defeat. I remember all too well the anger many of us felt over the merciless American bombing of unarmed civilians in North and South Vietnam, as well as Laos and Cambodia.

Watching the 10-part documentary about the war directed by Ken Loach and Lynn Novick, I relived those bleak times as harrowing images from old newsreels showed the unceasing American assault on Vietnam. In terms of archival research, this is a cinematographic tour de force. Spread over 18 hours of news reports and interviews, it overwhelms the viewer with its unrelenting coverage of events on the shifting battlefields, as well as in Washington, Hanoi and Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City).

By weaving together factual coverage and a vast range of personal interviews, the documentary underlines the horrors and sacrifices on both sides. In particular, the implacable determination of the North Vietnamese communist leadership, and its willingness to commit hundreds of thousands of men and women to the cause, comes through as an immovable force.

acing them were the mounting numbers of Americans in uniform: at one point there were nearly half a million US troops in South Vietnam. Almost 60,000 were killed. More bombs were dropped by the US on Indochina than on Germany and Korea combined.

The US is still bogged down in Afghanistan.

Seen on paper, these statistics do not move us as does the testimony of a 15-year-old North Vietnamese girl who volunteers to join a unit that hauls supplies to the south through the jungle. Known as the Ho Chi Minh trail, this network of paths was constantly bombed by US planes. Napalm was commonly used, and casualties were heavy.

Through the documentary (I have watched the first six episodes) runs one constant refrain: as casualties mount and success remains elusive, general after American general asks for more troops. The Pentagon keeps assuring President Lyndon Johnson that if field commanders were given extra troops, the enemy’s defeat would be assured.

Inside the US, the daily TV coverage of the war made it increasingly unpopular, fuelling a significant anti-war movement. When four demonstrating students at Kent State University were shot dead by the National Guard, protests erupted across the US. Large demonstrations broke out in London, Paris and other capitals.

Finally, following the 1973 Paris peace talks, the Americans withdrew from Viet­nam, leaving behind the abiding image of a helicopter taking off from the US embassy in Saigon, with people clinging to its landing gear. Thus ended a needless war that consumed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Sadly, no lessons appear to have been learned. The Americans are still bogged down in Afghanistan after 16 years of war. And the generals are still calling for more troops and promising victory. But additional forces have done nothing to cow the Afghan Taliban into submission. As in South Vietnam, the US enjoys control of the air, and has artillery and armour. And yet an outgunned, dirt-poor foe has fought the mighty war machine to a halt.

With their focus on ‘body count’ and Powerpoint presentations, US generals have not factored in ideology and nationalism as force multipliers. Given the fact that American politicians are ultimately answerable to voters, they cannot afford an unending number of body bags. One reason there is so little interest in America about the Afghan conflict is that the class composition of US forces has changed since the Vietnam War. In the latter period, soldiers were conscripted into the armed forces, forcing many young, educated middle-class men to fight.

Now, the Americans have an all-volunteer military, and most foot soldiers are from the working class. They have a lower social profile, and get little sympathy or attention. There is thus far less media coverage of the Afghan war than Vietnam received.

But the larger question to be asked is why Americans have not applied the lessons of Vietnam to Afghanistan? After all, in both conflicts they faced poorly armed but highly motivated foes, and both the Vietcong and the Taliban had contiguous territory they could shelter in.

A retired Russian general, interviewed during the height of the fighting in Afghanistan, said he was amazed to see the Americans repeating the Red Army’s mistakes. Why, he wondered, had they not spoken to him and his ex-colleagues to benefit from their experience?

Why indeed? Obviously, hubris prevents US generals from learning from history, or the knowledge of others. They think their superior arms can win easy victories, but as the Vietcong and Taliban have shown, asymmetrical warfare depends more on resolve and a willingness to sacrifice.

Source: dawn.com/news/1363629/ghosts-from-vietnam


A Never Ending War

By M Ziauddin


Suddenly, out of the blue the huge trust deficit that had marred the relations between Pakistan and the US for over a decade seems to have taken a big hit as a Canadian-American family of five was recovered from the kidnappers by the Pakistani security forces Thursday acting on the intelligence provided by the US in what appeared to be joint/co-ordinated operation.

Coincidently, the successful rescue operation was conducted right when an interagency US delegation was holding preparatory talks in Islamabad with relevant Pakistani civil and military officials for preparing groundwork for the forthcoming top-level engagement between the two countries expected to take place when the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defence James Mattis would be visiting Pakistan one after the other later this month.

Accusing Pakistan of playing a double game the US has been conducting terror operations inside Pakistan over the last ten years or so without taking Islamabad into confidence. The US suspected that Pakistan instead of coordinating the operation more often than not helped the targets slip out and escape the dragnet. That was why the US had conducted the operation against Osama Bin Laden without taking Pakistan into confidence. Also the drone attack that killed Mullah Mansoor while he was entering Pakistan from across the Iranian border too was a one sided operation with Pakistan caught by surprise.

In the opinion of US strategists, Pakistan has been playing a tremendously important and negative role in the Taliban’s rise to power as Islamabad had helped the group to expand in the 1990s, providing massive financial and military assistance. Pakistan now needs to make it clear to the US by its actions that it no longer provides sanctuaries to these militants

Thursday's joint/co-ordinated rescue operation seems to have brought about a positive change in the circumstances under which the current engagement between the US and Pakistan is expected to be conducted hopefully sans the backdrop of trust deficit.

The outcome of interactions between Pakistan's leadership and the two top US officials would determine the future course of developments concerning war and peace in the region, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

While the public performance of Khawaja Asif in the US during his first visit to that country as Pakistan's foreign minister was decidedly impressive, the huge trust deficit that existed between Islamabad and Washington was to have provided the back-drop of the close door engagements that would continue between the two countries this month in Islamabad. This is likely to change now for the better with President Trump praising Pakistan and hoping to see 'this type of cooperation and team work (from Pakistan) in helping secure the release of remaining hostages in our future joint counter-terrorism operations.'

The interagency US delegation currently in Pakistan is being led by Lisa Curtis, deputy assistant to the president and National Security Council senior director for South Asia and comprises acting assistant secretary of state, Ambassador Alice Wells, acting Assistant Secretary of Defence David Helvey and other senior officials from the Departments of State and Defence.

In order for the trust deficit between the two countries to disappear completely both Pakistan and the US will have to increasingly share intelligence and regularly conduct without fail coordinated operations against terrorists, no matter of what hue.

In the opinion of US strategists Pakistan has been playing a tremendously important and negative role in the Taliban's rise to power as Islamabad had helped the group to expand in the 1990s, providing massive financial and military assistance. Pakistan now needs to make it clear to the US by its actions that it does not any more provide sanctuaries to the militants.

According to Daniel Byman (Professor and Senior Associate Dean at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution) and Steven Simon (National Security Council Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa from 2011 to 2012 and the John J. McCloy '16 Visiting Professor at Amherst College) despite promises to the contrary, Islamabad's support to Taliban has continued over the last so many years(Trump's Surge in Afghanistan---why we can't seem to end the war-published in Foreign Affairs, Sept 18, 2017).

"The Trump administration is trying to shake things up by conditioning some U.S. aid to Pakistan on ending support for the Taliban, but despite Trump's desire to force Islamabad to shape up, Pakistan is unlikely to change.

"Islamabad has a strong strategic interest in maintaining a friendly government in Kabul as Afghanistan has long proved a troublesome neighbor. In addition, Pakistan's military and security services contain anti-Western and Islamist elements that favor ignoring Trump's demands.

"Ending the Pakistani sanctuary completely would require a massive change in policy in Islamabad, as well as U.S. military operations against groups holed up there."

The two authors have listed two additional reasons why the US would not withdraw from Afghanistan in a hurry: First, fear of terrorism is said to be the primary driver keeping the United States in Afghanistan. Because the Taliban hosted al Qaeda in the years before 9/11, the concern is that they would do it again (or with other terrorist organizations), should they gain power in all or part of the country.

Second, a total U.S. departure, which would essentially signal an open defeat, would boost the morale of the jihadists. Afghanistan is where they beat the Soviet Union during the war in 1979-89, and a victory over yet another superpower would provide them with a tremendous psychological boost; this could, in turn, help them enhance their recruiting and fundraising efforts.

"Before the United States intervened, Afghanistan suffered a civil war for the better part of 25 years. Clearly something is deeply wrong within the country that the United States alone cannot resolve. Washington can postpone defeat, perhaps, or at least slow the Taliban's momentum, but history suggests that a complete victory is unlikely. No ideology, political party, or charismatic leader unifies Afghans. By design and necessity, local officials hold much of the power. As such, Afghanistan never truly unified under a strong government. Rather, the country's mountainous geography-and the strong ethnic and tribal identities in many areas-hinder national unity.

"Not surprisingly, then, the government in Kabul does not engender loyalty, regardless of political leadership. Finally, the government's failures beget further failures. Its inability to rein in corruption, establish the rule of law, provide security, or otherwise perform basic governance functions lead Afghans to turn to local rulers, militias, and the Taliban, further undermining the government's influence."

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/14-Oct-17/a-never-ending-war


URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/militants-going-mainstream-in-pakistan-by-akbar-jan-marwat--new-age-islam-s-selection,-14-october-2017/d/112875


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