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Pakistan Press (17 Jan 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)



When Radicals Rule: New Age Islam's Selection, 17 January 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

17 January 2017

When Radicals Rule

By Dr. Niaz Murtaza

New Cold War In Afghanistan

By  Musa Khan Jalalzai

The Russo-Iran-Turkey Alliance

By Fatima Barcha

Bring The Missing Activists Home

By Mosharraf Zaidi

When Iran Got Reagan Elected

By Jawed Naqvi

An Act Of India’s Frustration

By Mohammad Jamil

Changing Ties

By Moeed Yusuf

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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When Radicals Rule

By Dr. Niaz Murtaza

January 17th, 2017

A NUCLEAR state with a huge population and army falling to extremists has been America’s nightmare about Pakistan for long. Ironically, it becomes a reality this week, not in Pakistan but in the US itself as Donald Trump takes oath given the many persons with extremist views he has named for senior roles in his team.

Jeff Sessions, nominated as attorney general to prosecute racial bias, has a history of making racial remarks. Michael Flynn, incoming national security adviser, considers not just Muslims terrorists but the Muslim faith itself as a cancer. Scott Pruitt, nominated head of the Environmental Protection Agency, recently sued the latter to undo key rules to curb climate change. Gen James Mattis, nominated defence secretary, is popularly called Mad Dog Mattis.

His education secretary nominee supports undermining the US public school system by allowing rich students to use public funds to attend private schools. The nominated ambassador to Israel supports the annexation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Finally, there is Trump himself who supports banning the entry of Muslims, calls Mexicans rapists and considers women easy picks for sexual exploits. There are others whose views lie far beyond the pale of even moderate conservatism.

True, none of them believe in the retrogressive actions that IS-type extremists undertake routinely, eg killing minorities mercilessly. Loathsome and deplorable though it is, IS-style extremism largely causes widespread miseries locally and occasional bomb attacks globally. But the extremist views of the Trump team threaten to restructure global economic, political and social norms fundamentally. This restructuring could unleash silent and indirect violence that dwarfs the visible IS atrocities.

Trump’s Extremist Views Could Alter Global Norms.

Not that this is the first time this is happening in recent US history. After nearly 40 years of moderate rule since the Second World War by both Democrats and Republicans, US politics took a more radical turn in the 1980s. The period since then has been marked by a series of radical Republican eras — Reagan, Bush-2 and now Trump.

The Reagan era enforced neoliberal economics globally, unleashing increasing economic inequality. It and the Bush-2 era unleashed neo-conservatism to restructure the global political order in favour of the US, in the process fuelling Islamist militancy. These radical eras were interrupted by Democratic eras which by US politics norms pass as left-wing eras but actually represent moderate conservatism economically and politically.

What horrors will the third radically conservative US era unleash, the world waits nervously to discover. This third era differs from the earlier two in that it lacks heavyweights carrying clear and strong neoconservative or neoliberalism ideologies. This absence and dire financial straits may limit major foreign military adventures by the US. Yet, there is talk of increasing defence spending greatly.

The target will likely be China and policy towards it (perhaps even its close allies) may be more hawkish. Already there is talk of an anti-US alliance emerging resultantly including Pakistan, Russia, Iran and China — a political PRIC to match the economic BRICS. Given this line-up of anti-US states, Korea (North) seems a natural fit in it and would make the acronym, which would translate into a thorn in the US flesh, more complete. Perhaps, the warmth Trump is showing towards Putin is an attempt to pre-empt the emergence of such an alliance.

Economically, Trump is unlikely to fully follow neoliberalism either. In fact, he may hasten its demise given his anti-globalisation rhetoric and threat to use US government power to force US companies to stay homebound. But the move away from neoliberalism may not be leftward. It may include neo-imperialism where weaker states are expected to open their economies for US interests while the US itself erects protections.

Still, the absence of ideologues makes the Team Trump threat largely unclear. So, not only is it unclear what its foreign policies will be, it is also unclear who will control it since all key persons in the team have little foreign experience. Ideological leaders may emerge eventually. But even if they don’t, Team Trump could still cause much damage through blunderbuss — lacking clear ideas and intellect but possessing enormous powers like a low-IQ gorilla flexing its muscles wildly.

Such prognosis on the politics of the most powerful state globally sends shudders around globally. More than its military power, America’s unregulated financial system and its loads of carbon emissions every second pose bigger threats to global security. That its political system still regularly produces leadership which intensifies rather than resolves these problems creates a problem of global proportions. Will saner nations unite to checkmate the Team Trump threat is the crucial question.

Source: dawn.com/news/1308857/when-radicals-rule

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New Cold War in Afghanistan

By  Musa Khan Jalalzai

 17-Jan-17

On 11 January 2017, unknown terrorists attacked important government installations and diplomatic compound in Kabul and Kandahar, which prompted huge fatalities and the killing of more than 100 Afghans and five diplomats of the United Aran Emirate (UAE). Terrorists also targeted Parliament in which 34 employees injured. This was a clear message of those who recently became strong stakeholders in the country. Some Afghan experts view it as foreign intelligence-led attacks-facilitated by some wolves within the Unity Government, some affixed to sweeping generalization that Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies are behind it, and some blamed Pakistan based Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network for their involvement. There are many stakeholders who want to show their power and create space for them, but one cannot deny the fact that Afghan war criminals, ministers and member parliament also support terrorist groups, purveying them with weapons and money and transport their fighters to their destinations. This issue have already been taken in Afghan parliament so many times, but no law has been passed to bring these state sponsor terrorists to justice, or remove them from their posts.

Fifteen years after the US and NATO ousted the Taliban government, Afghanistan still remains one of the worse place for journalist, NGOs, Doctors, businessmen and women. The John Kerry government (Unity Government) hardly control 30% percent territory of the state, while Daesh and Taliban pose bigger challenge to the ANA and its associated private militias. After two decades of its withdrawal from Afghanistan, Moscow returned to the country with a strong Taliban group, GRU and an incarnated KGB (MGB) network to intercept the US and NATO expansion towards Central Asia, and eliminate the ISIS terrorist organization. Russia wants to apply the Syrian strategy in Afghanistan, and deploy strong intelligence units along the Afghan-Tajik, and, Pak-Afghan borders. However, China also wants to ensure the security of its borders by deploying security and intelligence unites along the Afghan and Pakistan’s borders to intercept the infiltration of Uyghur separatists inside the country. Beijing and Moscow fear that there are serious grounds to expect that security situation in Afghanistan may rapidly deteriorate as the Unity Government’s legitimacy is in spike.

Now, with the emergence of Russia with a strong military might more than fifty nations and their intelligence agencies in Afghanistan have failed to effectively counter Russian and Chinese secret agencies? The Putin administration has invested heavily in Afghanistan and continues to reduce the political and military space of the United States and its NATO allies who neither stabilized the war torn country nor established a strong army. This inattention of international community resulted in the resentment of Afghan population towards their presence. China helped the United States in its war against the Soviet Union, but now helps Russia in its war against the United States. However, Pakistan and Russia are moving towards an embrace, but looking at each other with suspicion. Pakistan faces isolation and dependent on Chinese economic support. Chinese involvement in Afghanistan is growing, and it has established good contacts with Afghan and Pakistani extremist organizations. However, in 2014, China introduced its own special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The recent Pentagon China-phobia policy, its containment of China, the emergence of new military and intelligence alliance among China, Pakistan and Russia, has become a hot debate in electronic and print media in South Asia. The increasing Chinese influence in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia and its strong presence in European and African market together with the aggrandizement of Russian economy and military industry have caused an unending torment for the United States and its European allies. The Pentagon authorities didn’t sleep a wink since the commencement of recent joint Russia-China-Pakistan rapprochement. The recent establishment of a new military intelligence agency, ‘Defence Clandestine Intelligence Service’ (DCIS) and its focus on China raised many questions about the US presence in Afghanistan. he emergence of China as an economic and military power is no doubt irksome for Pentagon that wants to contain and confine both China and Russia to specific regions.

The Defense Clandestine Service, according to Pentagon’s report, will be working closely with both Pentagon and CIA, recruiting spies from Defence Intelligence Agencies and deploying them in most part of South Asia to closely watch the military and economic movements of communist China in South and Southeast Asia. The agency is struggling to maintain a strong presence in Afghanistan. In Xinjiang province, Uyghur Islamic Movement and other minor ethnic and political groups have established their secret networks, recruit and invite young people to their groups. Beijing is already facing constant threats from Tibet and Taiwan, the low-key conflict which has been simmering in the region since long. These ethnic and religious challenges are very serious for China’s expanding economic and military role in both Asia and Africa. The Obama administration wants to switch US national security focus away from Middle East to address long-term issues such as the rise of China, Russia and North Korea.

The Unity Government is not lessoning to the Chinese and Russian leader that Taliban should be accommodated in the political set up to bolster the fight against the ISIS terrorist group. The United States and its allies are increasingly worried that any deepening of ties between Russia, China and their own Taliban group, their supply of modern weapons, and the deployment of their intelligence units across Afghanistan may cause further intensification of civil war in the country. The US policy of killing and torture has now failed to draw on the cultural and historical lessons of of local governance in the country. Undoubtedly, there are thousands innocent civilians who get killed in the US bombing in Afghanistan. The US army killed 42 people including 14 innocent patients and doctors in Kunduz hospital, and then argued that the $5 billion intelligence computer system was failed. This was, in fact, an ignominious joke with an occupied country like Afghanistan, where they are free to kill, torture, and kidnap civilians with impunity. A Persian proverb has beautifully illustrated this inhuman act in few words: “Don’t trust those who don’t trust God, and if you don’t recognize God at least know Him by His power.”

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/17-Jan-17/new-cold-war-in-afghanistan

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The Russo-Iran-Turkey alliance

By Fatima Barcha

 17-Jan-17

To end the conflict in Syria, a ceasefire between Turkey and Russia has been signed. Later Iran agreed to support the peace plan as well. This also paved the way for peace talks in Kazakhstan between the Syrian government and opposition. The Russo-Turkish agreement comes in the wake of a more limited deal between Ankara and Moscow that enabled the withdrawal of civilians trapped in the rebel-held districts in northwestern Syria’s Aleppo. If the comprehensive ceasefire plan holds, the multilateral peace talks that are likely to be held in the Kazakh capital, Astana, next month will have a better chance of ending Syria’s tragic civil war.

Turkey and Russia have been on opposite sides of the conflict, with Turkey arming fighters opposed to Russia’s ally Assad. Last November, Turkey shot down a Russian military jet it said had violated its airspace, prompting a rupture in relations. Following an attempted coup against him over the summer, though, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid his first post-coup visit to Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and began to mend the rift. Turkey and Russia brokered a deal with Syrian rebels, and without the United States, to evacuate civilians from Aleppo. The foreign and defence ministers from Russia, Turkey, and Iran are still scheduled to meet in Moscow to discuss the situation.

The Turkish-Russian cease-fire deal almost eclipsed an equally sensational story. On December 28, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused his Western partners in the anti-IS coalition of supporting the fanatical group along with the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Unity Party (PYD). Erdogan went so far as to claim that he had “evidence” that US-led coalition forces in Syria had given support to both IS and the PYD. Ankara considers the PYD an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been fighting the Turkish government for independence and autonomy since 1984. Turkey, the United States and the European Union list the PKK as a terrorist group.

The American response was anything but low key. At the daily press briefing of 27 December, US State Department’s deputy spokesman Mark Toner characterised Erdogan’s claims as “ludicrous” with “no basis for truth.” As can be expected, while pro-government media outlets in Turkey gave serious coverage to Erdogan’s claims, the leading opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet underscored Toner’s response.

The rise of a Russian-Iranian-Turkish triumvirate is a hugely significant development. On the contrary, they have a long and distinguished history of rivalry and warfare extending back for centuries and stretching into recent decades. During the Cold War, Turkey was a key NATO ally; Iran supported the Afghan rebels against the USSR, while the USSR supported Iraq against Iran.

But after the end of the Soviet Union, Russia’s relations with both countries significantly improved. Iran’s opposition to Russia during the Chechen wars of the 1990s was muted. Russia was worried about external ideological influence over its largely Sunni Muslim population, but it feared Saudi Arabian Wahhabism far more than it did Iranian Shiite influence.

More than that, Russia has kept up close relations with both sides in regional rivalries. This means consistently engaging with Iran economically even as it seeks to contain Iranian influence in the longer term, and maintaining good relations with countries for whom Iran represents a direct threat, in particular, Israel, but also Saudi Arabia.

Russia’s relationship with Turkey has been more intense, but no less contradictory. Turkey has opposed Russia’s annexation of Crimea, but also signed up to the Turk-Stream pipeline to Russia, a natural gas supply route under the Black Sea that will bypass and weaken Ukraine.

The two countries’ backing for different sides in the Syria conflict strained their bilateral relations. The breaking point came when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane in November 2015. However, that crisis paradoxically showed the degree to which Turkey’s relations with the West had weakened. Friendly relations were restored in June 2016 and consolidated by Putin’s unconditional support for Turkish President Erdogan after an attempted coup.

The war in Syria and anti-Russian protests in Turkey over Aleppo did not detract from the re-energized official friendship. Both Russia and Turkey went to great lengths to prevent the assassination of the Russian ambassador in Ankara from scrambling their alliance.

Turkish-Iranian relations, meanwhile, have traditionally alternated between co-operation and competition, but since the “Arab Awakening” protests of 2011, competition has been the dominant mode. As Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has turned away from the secular, modernising values of Ataturk, the republic’s founder, so rivalry with Iran has been less on the grounds of political ideology (secular versus theocratic) and more about identity (Sunni versus Shia).

However, the fear of an Iranian-dominated “Shia crescent” predates the founding of Iran’s Islamic Republic. Like Russia’s earlier criticisms of Turkey’s “neo-Ottomanism” and the West’s concerns over of Russian “Eurasianism”, the fear is a resurgence of an imperial project.

This is the paradox at the core of the Russia-Turkey-Iran triad: their longtime geopolitical competition motivates not only their periodic conflicts but also their cooperation.

All three were empires long before they became nation-states. Like the Western empires, but unlike China, they have lost much of the territory they previously ruled. However, the reduction in scale was less radical than that of the Western European empires, and they retain (both by default and design) elements of their former imperial role. The imperial past was less repudiated than in the West but remains a prominent part of their national psychologies.

The West strongly influenced all three states, but none was ever completely under Western rule — and nor did the West ever completely accept them. All of them saw top-down attempts at modernization and Westernization give way to anti-Westernism and reversion to what were seen as more traditional forms of political culture. Turkish scholar Ayse Zarakol has written about how resentment at being “excluded” from the West influences these countries’ self-image and foreign policy, but these “irrational” factors tend to be ignored by mainstream international relations scholars.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that, in Turkey, as in Russia and Iran, politics and foreign policies are largely defined by the ambiguous relationship with the West and globalisation, and their common experiences mean they can understand each other’s behaviour and concerns rather well. With that advantage, they can move rapidly between conflict and cooperation.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/17-Jan-17/the-russo-iran-turkey-alliance

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Bring The Missing Activists Home

By Mosharraf Zaidi

January 17, 2017

We have come a long way from the horrors of the worst year of terror-related violence in Pakistan in 2009, when over 11,700 lives were taken. In 2017, Pakistan can legitimately claim unprecedented gains against terrorists, given that the year 2016 saw less than a fifth of the death toll that was imposed on us in 2009.

There is nothing for Pakistanis to celebrate yet, but if there is such a thing as beating terrorism in the modern era, Pakistan offers a robust and intriguing case study. This is part of the reason why, at the World Economic Forum annual meeting this week in Davos, Pakistan will be doing something it has rarely done at these fora: it will strut about with a certain confidence.

Our prime minister will be having multiple discussions about how investment in Pakistan is a solid bet, and our retired army chief, General Raheel Sharif will be explaining how Pakistan challenged, hunted down and killed violent extremists that had spread bloodshed across our homeland. To top off this Pakistani moment at Davos, our Oscar-winning Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy will be co-chairing the entire annual meeting, the first time that an artist has been selected for the honour.

As a proud nationalist Pakistani that gets weak-kneed at the sight of the flag, and the sound of Ali Azmat belting out pop anthems, it is appealing for me to indulge a feeling of gratitude and satisfaction. Pakistan has been at the wrong end of too many conversations at too many events in too many places. I have spent a large chunk of my adult life trying to explain our faults and our shortcomings at security conferences, diplomatic conferences, development conferences, education conferences, governance and reform and economic conferences. At Davos this week, it feels like we may really be turning the corner.

All of this is what makes the next sentence in this column more difficult than it would be ordinarily. What kind of emerging regional economic and political power gets intimidated by low-follower, low TRP, low appeal narratives on social media? What kind of fortress of Islam takes anonymous Twitter accounts so seriously as to want to muffle their voice? What kind of blanket of national security gets worried about the holes in it, based on poems and Facebook pages?

Four online ‘activists’, including poet and academic, Salman Haider, have been reported missing. The speculation about their whereabouts? That these activists were taken away by ‘state actors’. If there is any suspicion of illegal activity on the part of these activists, this would have been perfectly understandable. This is where the controversy begins. There is no information report (FIR), there is no arrest warrant, there are no judges, no policemen, no prison wardens, and no explanation. There is no due process. There is just the unexplained and unexplainable disappearance of four activists.

I know a couple of things about malign online actors, especially anonymous ones. I have been subjected to every kind of abuse by both random and passionate supporters of causes that I don’t adopt, and by paid agents, whose job is to contaminate the digital reputations of people. I don’t mind it very much because unlike a lot of friends who believe their reputations are in the hands of individuals, or institutions, I believe reputations — online and offline — are products of our conduct, our work, and our intentions. Allah is most kind, and His mercy is infinite.

I also have some exposure to the specific work of the activists that have disappeared. At least one of the activists that has disappeared has taken part in promoting negative narratives about my work in education. I am a little more sensitive about Alif Ailaan, because the work we have tried to do is not about entitled and privileged people who have already gotten decent educations. It is about the millions of children that are not getting, and may not ever get a decent education. Yet even on this, I strongly believe that our work at Alif Ailaan is driven by the goodwill of thousands of activists, writers, reporters, editors, anchors, commentators, government officials and politicians. A few disparaging tweets, or disgruntled partisans are welcome, because often they may help us pay attention to weaknesses in our approach.

Finally, I am an orthodox Muslim, who aspires to be a much more practising Muslim than I am. This means that I am incredibly sensitive to aggressive language about the faith. I am easily offended by any irreverent reference to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), to the Ummul Momineen, to the Ahlul Bayt, or to any of the Ashaaratul Mubashireen.

I share these personal reflections because they are intimately related to how we react to the disappearance of controversial or even malign online activists. The entire basis for celebrating the magic of the digital age is that it empowers those that would otherwise have no voice. Anonymous accounts can be used for evil, as I feel they are when someone is having a rip-roaring go at me. But my feelings are not really that important. I am in the business of trying to construct a better society, a better state, a better country, and a better world. A bruised ego isn’t such a high price to pay for the privilege of having a voice, and to go to work every day with a real chance at making a difference.

More importantly, just as anonymous accounts can be used for evil, anonymous accounts might be used for good. And tomorrow, one of us, you or me, or our siblings, or our children, may be living in circumstances that require them to speak without fear of persecution. And when that day, or that place comes, we need to think about how we react to the disappearance of social media activists that we many not necessarily be fans of today.

Pakistan’s stock market had its best year in a decade, beating expectations, and setting itself up for its entry into emerging market status later this year, with among the highest performing indexes in the world. The country’s foreign exchange reserves have never enjoyed the liquidity they do today, and barring major shocks to the system, economists expect Pakistan not only to remain solvent in the short run, but in fact, to thrive. Part of this buoyancy is rooted in the successful prosecution of our war against violent extremists — both genuinely ideological ones, and paid agents of enemy states.

There will always be challengers to this narrative of a new, a better, a brighter Pakistan. I want to live in a Pakistan in which we not only allow dissenting voices, but in which we find ways to win over these challengers. With love, with mercy, with infrastructure, with justice, with jobs, but most of all, with certainty of equal treatment before the law. We need to find Salman Haider and the other missing activists, and reunite them with their families, not because we endorse anything they may have said, but because we are all Pakistanis deserving of the same privileges and rights under the sovereignty afforded to us by God, as stated in our constitution.

Real victory is not when we stand menacingly above the bodies of those we have vanquished, but when we stand guard outside their homes, educating their children, and converting their coming generations to becoming believers in a new, a better, a brighter Pakistan. We won’t be able to do it if we can’t guarantee freedom and due process to those that we disagree with. We must bring Salman Haider and all other missing activists home. Our pride as Pakistanis must continue to remain wounded as long as they remain missing.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/179612-Bring-the-missing-activists-home

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When Iran got Reagan elected

By Jawed Naqvi

January 17th, 2017

WHAT would the world be like had Khrushchev been assassinated instead of Kennedy? Chances are, as the wag said, Onassis would not have married Khrushchev’s widow.

There are counterfactual possibilities we all conjure from history. Some stick to the hard reality. For better or worse, Donald Trump is the reality. Hillary Clinton stands relegated to the counterfactual corner. This is not to say if there were a doomsday war tomorrow Clinton would not have set it off. Between the two, one has been recklessly teasing China, and the other ribbed Vladimir Putin with threats to impose no-fly zones over Syria’s rubble.

There is in all this the third view as always. Noam Chomsky, who sees all American presidents in his lifetime as invariably harmful, finds Kennedy to have been the most dangerous resident of the White House. Chomsky’s views offer evidence of how the liberal world of “power and glory”, to borrow from Kennedy’s Camelot, rests on a primeval, destructive instinct. Will Trump usher in peace and prosperity for America or drag it over the precipice from where Kennedy had fortuitously pulled it back? But then, which American president has not flirted with that eventuality since Hiroshima?

Claims about Putin helping Trump defeat Hillary are passé even if true. Sanctimonious American journalists, nudged by the deep state (which seems in dire straits before Trump’s cruder version of what they represent) are scarcely even handed the truth. And the truth here is that Putin may or may not have had a preferred candidate in the US polls, but Iran, yes that very reviled entity, deftly airbrushed Jimmy Carter from the 1980 race. Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra deal flowed from that favour.

If Trump has rattled the American state to the core, it should be less disagreeable than the deep state rattling the world at will.

Claims that the Russians have details of the president-elect’s sexual romps to blackmail him are equally overcooked. Imagine global capitalism’s fate sealed by Russian sex workers. Should we weigh in with the CIA as worthier of our trust against someone who proved the pundits wrong? As for his locker-room fantasies, how do they compare with the sexual profligacy of Messrs Bill Clinton and JFK among other possible White House worthies?

Unlike the other two, however, if Trump explicitly wants to build bridges with Moscow in a world crammed with disaster-tipped weapons, why should anyone, barring the deep state, resent it? If Trump has rattled the American state to the core, it should be less disagreeable than the deep state rattling the world at will. (Don’t compare Trump with Narendra Modi who was the product of the deep state.)

As for hacking, who doesn’t do it? Ask Angela Merkel the victim, or Edward Snowden the former US insider, about the deep state’s intrusive capabilities. Or lean on Salvador Allende’s memory to recall a less invisible method of ‘hacking’ to negate a people’s will.

There’s another form of hacking that delivers foolproof verdicts of the hacker’s choice. Let’s call it the Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed way. Without their ample help, Hindutva Nazis would not swamp India. Every terror attack in India they applaud adds swagger to the Hindutva stride while undermining the voters’ resolve to change the narrative. If Putin can change electoral fortunes of foreign countries, so does the man who drove a truck into a packed promenade in Nice and spurred the rise of Marine Le Pen in France.

So everyone picks someone else’s teams and candidates in these days of globalisation. People have woken up at odd hours around the globe to watch ‘their’ American candidate run down the opponent or deliver a smashing rejoinder. Most of the world supported Obama in 2008. The reasons are varied. Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a conversation with me in Delhi, was sceptical that the US would ever elect a woman as president. He may have been rubbing in the point that Islamic Iran had upstaged the United States by having a woman as vice president. If Obama won, by Ahmadinejad’s logic, it was partly because he was not a woman.

Why don’t American journalists and Senate committees, instead of spewing venom on Putin’s alleged support for Trump, open the aperture to the larger truth? It was Iran, possibly with Israel, that manipulated the American people’s will in 1980.

Hashemi Rafsanjani, who passed away this month, was the speaker of the Iranian majlis during the American hostage crisis, triggered by the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran. As a close aide of Ayatollah Khomeini, Rafsanjani shepherded the crisis to a controlled and profitable climax for his country. In other words, the affable, white-turbaned cleric from the saffron-rich city of Bahraman took away the election from the peanut farmer of Georgia. Within minutes of Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, Iran released the American hostages. Carter blamed his loss on his failure to bring the hostages home. The quid pro quo saw Reagan lavishing Iran with arms from Israel, money from which was siphoned to support the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

As electoral candidates in South Asia visit shrines and temples and mosques to improve their chances, Americans genuflect before AIPAC, the quaintly called American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It is the most visible and the least discussed foreign influence in American politics.

Iran and Israel had their calculations to back Reagan. Iran knew Reagan would be more severe than Carter’s failed commando mission to free the hostages. Also, as a cluster of oil traders, the Republicans would be amenable to end the Palestine-Israel stalemate. Israel, which usually prefers Democrats, saw the risk of having a second-term Carter, unfettered in forcing his choice for Palestine. Israel was right. Carter went on to describe Israeli occupation of Palestine as apartheid. There’s a view that AIPAC runs the American media, something that Putin must envy, and Trump may finally profit from. For that, however, he must first shift the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Source: .dawn.com/news/1308866/when-iran-got-reagan-elected

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An Act Of India’s Frustration

By Mohammad Jamil

January 17, 201704

ON Friday, hundreds of Afghan protestors gathered outside the Pakistan embassy in Kabul to protest against Pakistan’s alleged support to the Taliban, which appears to be an act of frustration on the part of India and Afghanistan for their failure in isolating Pakistan. There is incontrovertible evidence that pro-India Afghan group supported by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) is involved. General Isa (Retd), deputy to the former Afghan intelligence chief led the rally to protest against the recent bomb attacks in Kabul and Kandahar, which killed nearly 60 people including five UAE diplomats. The Taliban had claimed the responsibility for Kabul terror attack but denied having hand in the Kandahar bombing. Pakistan maintains that the militants operate from the Afghan side of the border that were forced to flee Pakistan following Zarb-i-Azb. The US also part of propaganda campaign against Pakistan and its agencies.

Sometimes they point fingers of accusation directly and at others using vicious insinuations. They say the Taliban fighters armed and funded by Pakistan operate from Pakistani soil. It is continuation of policy of former president Hamid Karzai, whose hatred against Pakistan was deep-rooted, and he used every opportunity to spew venom against Pakistan. In fact, Afghanistan government and its armed forces have failed to establish the writ of the state. The problem is that since long Afghanistan is in the throes of a multidimensional civil war; and with the rift between the partners of Unity Government and intensified Taliban attacks, the country is adrift to more uncertainties, chaos and anarchy. To cover up their failures and conflicts, a campaign has been launched in electronic and social media in Afghanistan that militants of Daesh are Pakistanis, though there is ample evidence that founders of Daesh in Afghanistan are Afghans.

Of course, a number of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants have joined the ranks and files of Daesh. After the launch of the Zarb-i-Azb, militants from Pakistan had fled to Afghanistan, and Pakistan claimed that they were provided sanctuaries. Even special cards for movement without any check were issued to them, and medical facilities and ration, etc., were provided to them. But when they joined IS (Daesh) and turned on their patrons, Afghan government functionaries started blaming Pakistan for their failure to root out a few hundred militants of Daesh from its soil. Majority of militants of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) have announced their allegiance to Islamic State Khurasan (ISK). Militants of The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Tajikistan, Chechnya etc., have also joined the ISK. Anyhow, Taliban reportedly control around 30 percent of Afghanistan.

In this backdrop, Taliban fighters and commanders do not need shelter outside Afghanistan, as when they have a part of their own country under their control, where they could rest, recuperate, train and groom freely for their fight. In September, United States Senate Armed Services Committee’s chairman Senator John McCain had vindicated Pakistan’s position when in an interview he said: “Neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan could be blamed for the situation in Afghanistan, as these were Obama’s policies that worsened the situation.” But Karzai and remnants of his regime continue Pakistan bashing. During his visit to Delhi, Hamid Karzai had appreciated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on the human rights situation in Balochistan saying that India had every right to respond to Pakistan’s provocations. “Pakistani authorities have spoken freely on Afghanistan and India, but this is the first time that the PM of India has spoken about Balochistan,” Hamid Karzai added.

Despite the fact, the US supports peace talks but it is a double speak. It was also part of the nexus that sabotaged the peace talks. To justify drone attack on Mullah Mansour, the US said that “Mullah Mansour had refused to participate in peace talks with the Afghan government, intensifying fighting since he officially took control in July after Omar’s death.” Anyhow, the statement that Mullah Mansour was against peace talks was absurd rather blatant lie. Fact of the matter is that it was Mullah Mansour who had sent his team to participate in Murree talks in which it was decided that substantive talks would take place in the next round. But that was not to take place, as the peace process was sabotaged by National Directorate of Security (NDS), which has many pro-Indian elements who were inducted during president Karzai era, by leaking the news of Mullah Omar’s demise.

The objective was to show to the world that Pakistan provides safe haven to Taliban leaders. The US is playing a dangerous game in liaison with India and northern alliance elements, who do not wish to see peace for different reasons. Secondly, the US wants to keep the pot boiling to maintain presence of its forces in Afghanistan. Finally, Northern Alliance leaders have overwhelming majority in Afghan government, and they do not wish to share power with the Taliban. On the other hand, the US and Afghanistan have been pushing Pakistan to do more, despite the fact Pakistan military conducted operations in Swat, Malakand, South Waziristan and more recently in North Waziristan dismantling terrorist’s infrastructure and networks. The gestures by President Ashraf Ghani were predicated on the false hope that Pakistan would bring the Taliban to the negotiating table on their conditions.

As a matter of fact, the internecine conflict in Afghan government is another reason for its failure. Abdul Hakim Mujahid, an advisor to the High Peace Council is under fire for calling the Taliban militants as “angels and a holy group”. The acting provincial governor of northern Balkh province Ata Muhammad Noor called the remarks as illogical. He emphasized the need to ascertain enemies in the system before going to face them in the battlefield. The other day, local officials in Farah province cited Taliban’s access to Russian weapons and night vision goggles as the reason behind the increased casualties among Afghan forces. Meanwhile, following a series of deadly attacks, the US embassy in Kabul has reminded US citizens that serious threats exist in city of Kabul and throughout Afghanistan. This speaks volumes about the failure of the US, NATO and Afghan forces to decimate the Taliban.

Source: pakobserver.net/an-act-of-indias-frustration/

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Changing Ties

By Moeed Yusuf

January 17th, 2017

THE Indo-US strategic partnership has been a source of constant tension in Pak-US ties in recent years. The US has pursued ‘de-hyphenation’ ie dealing with Islamabad and New Delhi relatively independently of each other. Central to this has been its hands-off approach on contentious Pak-India issues.

Donald Trump has excited the Pakistani policy space by hinting at his willingness to reconsider the US line. Pakistani officials in touch with Washington have been trying to determine if Trump will actually consider a more proactive effort to improve Pak-India ties.

While there’s no definitive answer, one can point to factors that will influence the Trump White House’s final policy. President Obama’s experience is a starting point. Candidate Obama was explicit in promising a regional approach to South Asia during the 2008 campaign. His reasoning confirmed an appreciation of the link between Pak-India tensions and their fallout on Afghanistan: to solve Afghanistan, one needs improvement on the Pak-India front. The Indians shot down his idea and US policy recoiled to its de-hyphenation default.

The Trump administration will confront the same set of challenges — and more.

A Tougher US Line Is On The Cards For Pakistan.

First, the Washington policy establishment is even more solidly committed to opposing US involvement in Pak-India issues than it was eight years ago. I have challenged the wisdom of this stance given that it contradicts US interest in South Asia. But few accept the proposition. Still, some in Pakistan hope that the Trump team may be less worried about defying Washington’s establishment. Perhaps. But a new administration with multiple policy positions seemingly at odds with this establishment would have to pick its battles carefully. Non-priorities like Pak-India may be ones to sacrifice.

Second, Trump’s position on China will complicate things. If Sino-US competition accentuates, India will be even more important as a counterweight to Beijing. India’s leverage over the US would increase, and it will demand that Washington put Pak-India back in cold storage. Pakistan’s backing of China would strengthen India’s case.

Third, Afghanistan will influence Washington’s approach. A tougher US line on the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network is on the cards. Pakistan’s likely resistance to fresh US demands to ‘do more’ would imply added tensions in ties, creating more space for critical voices in Washington to oppose US engagement on Pak-India issues.

Fourth, Pakistan continues to be its own worst enemy. The state’s policies on anti-India militant outfits can’t win it any champions. The world cannot be expected to reach but the most sceptical conclusion when it sees leaders of anti-India outfits floating around freely and when it finds the Pakistani state trying to avoid sincerely prosecuting those charged with committing terrorism in India. Perhaps nothing has aided India’s global push to isolate Pakistan more than the latter’s mishandling of the Mumbai trials.

Finally, any US leader must ask: what is the probability of success? Washington’s bureaucracy is hesitant to put the US president out on such issues without a real possibility of success. The prognosis for Kashmir is anything but. Indeed, it is no coincidence that while Pakistan’s position articulates the need for US involvement, it explains little on how this would lead to a realistic resolution. Even the most committed Trump White House won’t want to set itself up to fail.

What Could Change This Calculus?

India’s management of its ties with the US is a factor to watch. New Delhi could damage its case by refusing to play counterweight to China. India has been hanging in the balance on the issue but that may not be good enough for Washington going forward, especially if Sino-US tensions heat up. Second, Prime Minister Modi has been presenting the US stance on his efforts to isolate Pakistan as a litmus test of US sincerity to Indo-US ties. If he overplays his hand, Washington may push back, and find more space to invest in trying to improve Pak-India ties.

Also, if Sino-US ties do not sour under Trump, the two sides can cooperate in the Af-Pak-India theatre. Both want a stable Afghanistan and Pakistan, absence of Pak-India crises (if not improved ties between the two), and economic integration in South Asia. Theoretically, they could coordinate a policy aimed at incentivising a change in policy attitudes regionally. The US could take the lead in convincing India and Afghanistan while China could work with Pakistan to achieve a transformed regional architecture.

That said, no one is likely to go to bat for Pakistan in Washington unless there is a discernible change in the former’s approach towards anti-India and anti-Afghan militancy. An absence of cross-border attacks with links to militant presence in Pakistan and a more visibly stringent approach towards these actors are necessary prerequisites for any US president to consider an out-of-the-box approach to Pakistan’s liking.

Source: dawn.com/news/1308855/changing-ties

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/when-radicals-rule--new-age-islam-s-selection,-17-january-2017/d/109744




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