Translate:


Categories




NATO

Home » NATO

Pakistan: Fuse lit for Independence Day fireworks

Tensions rise in Pakistan, as the country braces for protests.

AzadiMarch Imran Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, led an anti-government march to Islamabad.

 

Pakistan faces yet another challenge and this time it is not the terrorist groups but the opposition groups mounting pressure on its Prime Minister to resign from office. One of the main opposition parties in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been complaining of electoral rigging since the 2013. PTI’s charismatic leader – a sportsman-philanthropist turned politician – is leading a Long March to Islamabad on August 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day.

Moderate cleric Dr Tahir ul Qadri, who leads the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and is in alliance with political factions supporting General Pervez Musharraf, has also called on his supporters to join the march.

Earlier he called for protests in the second largest city Lahore which turned deadly after local authorities tried to disperse them. Qadri came back after living in Canada to lead what he calls a movement for “inquilab” or revolution. In plain terms, Qadri seeks to overthrow what he says is a “corrupt and unjust system”.

At the same time, Khan’s PTI has led a vigorous campaign to delegimitsie Nawaz Sharif’s government. Sections of media have sided with Khan in building the popular narrative and the public opinion is deeply polarised.

In recent days, the government has been in a state of panic – blocking main roads, highways, suspending mobile telephone service and preventing people from attending the protest. Sharif’s government announced that it was going to set up a high level judicial commission to investigate the charges of rigging, but he was not willing to resign. […]

In too deep: Afghanistan, Pakistan & the region

My piece for Himal published in March 2014..

Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan is caught in the muddled terrain of domestic political machinations and regional ambitions

flickr / smlp.co.uk

 

Afghanistan’s history is a turbulent one filled with civil wars, invading armies, foreign political meddling, and disputed successions. Sitting on trade routes between the Mediterranean and China, the Silk Road, and the entrance to India, it has been seen as a prize for many conquering empires. Sadly, Afghans have paid a heavy price for this curse of geography. The British Empire in the 19th century could not subjugate the territories, nor could the Soviets in the 20th. Now the US-led coalition forces, after a disastrous occupation of 12 years, plan to leave the country later this year. 2014 is not just significant for Afghanistan: it will result in regional shifts of power and a new security paradigm, with serious implications for Pakistan.

The Soviet invasion in 1979 unleashed a period of intense conflict as the US and the West responded by mobilising unprecedented resources and funnelling support to mujahideen fighters through regional proxies, most notably Pakistan. Driven by its regional ambitions and perennial fear of India, Pakistan entered the game and for a decade supported the development and oversight of a jihad industry that played on Islamist passions against the ‘infidel’ Soviets. Thus, a stream of jihadists crossed the Durand Line and found many allies to further the rise of Deobandi Islam on both sides of the border. This was a defining moment when jihad acquired a legitimacy of its own and engulfed not only Afghanistan but also Pakistan. […]

Murder in the capital

By Raza Rumi

Nasiruddin Haqqani’s assassination is a significant move in a game of chess and nerves

tft-40-p-4-a

A photographer takes picture of the spot where Nasiruddin Haqqani, a senior leader of the feared militant Haqqani network, was assassinated at an Afghan bakery in the Bhara Kahu area on the outskirts of Islamabad


Pakistan’s media had to turn its attention to the visible-invisible world of good Taliban when the news of a high profile assassination hit social media. A key member of the controversial Haqqani network was assassinated in a quiet corner of Pakistan’s capital. The slain Nasiruddin was the brother of Siraj Uddin Haqqani and a son of Jalaluddin, a key figure of the Afghan jihad against the Soviets in the 1980s. Haqqani group or better known as a ‘network’ is reportedly close to Pakistan’s security establishment. Pakistan’s alleged patronage and protection to Haqqanis has been one of the major causes for trust deficit between Pakistan, US and Afghan authorities. It may have jeopardized counterterrorism efforts over the last decade.

“He was the financier and emissary of the Haqqani network”

Nasiruddin Haqqani was known as the financier and emissary of the Haqqani network and unlike his brother and his father, kept a low profile. News stories circulating in the mainstream media consider his death to be perpetrated by ‘unknown assailants.’ The aims can inevitably be linked to demoralizing or undermining the network, which has been at the core of Pakistan’s security policy vis-à-vis Afghanistan. In the aftermath of HakeemUllah Mehsud’s death in a US drone strike in the village of Dande Darpa Khel of North Waziristan the Afghan Taliban’s overt support to the Pakistani Taliban or the Tehreek e Taliban I Pakistan (TTP) emerged as a clear signal of how the two branches of the same ideology reinforce each other. Haqqani network, according to several reports, though separate was not too averse to TTP either. […]

Af-Pak: End this End Game

Published last month here

Pakistan will have to focus on bilateral trust building: with US, Afghanistan and India. This sounds daunting but there is no alternative to stronger diplomatic engagement

A day’s visit to Kabul is hardly sufficient to make an informed comment on the status of the Afghanistan imbroglio. The unfortunate term ‘end game’ implies that for much of the world and regional powers it is all about carving zones of influence in post-Nato Afghanistan. The US wants to exit but is mulling over a partial presence. India wants to consolidate its partnership with the Afghan government and people. Iran has its concerns based on the Sunni strands of extremism. The Central Asian states want to profit from the new arrangements. And, Pakistan, the vital player in the region, wants to ensure that the future Afghan government is not hostile. Above all, it is concerned about being ‘encircled’ by India on its eastern and western borders.

Pakistan, due to its peculiar history and irreversible geography, holds the critical cards in the future process. How far does it have leverage over the Taliban groups is a matter of debate. The country’s detractors say that Pakistan’s influence with the Taliban groups is a stumbling block in holding direct negotiations with the Taliban groups that the US has initiated and wants the Afghan government to extend and deepen this process in the months to come.

There is another view that despite the contacts, Pakistan does not control groups such as the ‘Haqqani network’ and if it pushes them to the wall they could very well turn against Pakistan itself. There are also views on the perceived power of the groups, such as the Quetta Shura, which allegedly operates from Pakistan.

The ‘gaming’ on Afghanistan has generated narratives on all sides. Afghan public opinion is sceptical of Pakistan. The US/NATO narrative is growing resentful of Pakistan’s policies. And within Pakistan, growing anti-Americanism and a particular populist understanding of history have led to paranoia about US intentions towards Pakistan. More worryingly from the Pakistani State’s perspective, the emerging US-India-Afghanistan axis mediated through strategic pacts, aid, relations with the leaders of non-Pashtun Afghan population, among others, are factors which pose a ‘strategic’ threat.   […]

September 6th, 2012|Afghanistan, Published in Hard News|2 Comments

Strategic grandeur

As if Pakistan’s domestic woes were not troubling, the unravelling of the US strategy and its implications are eluding even the best of strategists. Mind you, Pakistan is a place every third person is a ‘strategy’ expert and the term ‘strategic’, thanks to the militarisation of the Pakistani mind, is an ever-popular reference. The ideological domination of Pakistan’s discourse is a palpable reality. This is why, across the political spectrum one finds a sense of victory over the failure of US strategy in Afghanistan. This failure is interpreted as the validation of Pakistan’s ‘genuine’ and ‘legitimate’ interest in Afghanistan.

What has worried me most in recent weeks is the capitulation of the liberal-secular chatterati to this pop-discourse of military war games. One is not surprised when former generals and the hawkish hordes of former Foreign Office mandarins express their jubilation. But when supposedly rational and progressive experts pontificate about how ‘we’ have made ‘them’ fail, it is simply shocking. […]

Wikileaks and our fantasies

Pakistanis are not interested in what the west likes or dislikes. We are concerned for our security, especially for the burgeoning youth of this country. It is time to deepen the corrective action within, rather than looking westwards for strategic victories. It is hoped that the civil-military leadership realises this and takes corrective action against the extremists within us and who threaten our very existence

Lahore is burning

Raza Rumi

[reportedly] 27 dead and dozens injured – no respite for us.

Once again, in less than a month Lahore has been ravaged by terrorists. Who said that Pakistan was a hub of terrorism – we are now the greatest victim of terror and militancy. The residents of Lahore are scared and the vibrant city seems to be enveloped in a mist of uncertainty and fear.

The Mumbai and later Lahore 3/3 model seems to be in vogue now. Extremely well trained commandos, with sophisticated weapons  and not afraid of death are let loose on the society. The media is hysterical as well and following the Indian media’s cue[s] is now a participant and embedded in the so-called operation. […]

March 30th, 2009|Lahore|10 Comments