The Great Pakistan And American Divide

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 9:39pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 9:39pm
A Pakistani vendor arranges morning newspapers featuring front-page news of the US presidential election at a roadside news stand in Islamabad. Photo: AFP
Social media platforms reverberated with people mocking American voters for electing a racist president and interpreted it as the beginning of the US’ decline as the world’s dominant power. Others were concerned that a Christian-versus-Muslim clash of civilisations would result from Trump’s victory, with many Pakistanis asking relatives living in the US whether they planned to return home to avoid a social backlash.
Mosharraf Zaidi, an education activist who moved to Pakistan from the US a decade ago, tweeted: “At what time should I start calling friends and family in the US to ask them how my moving to Pakistan is looking now?”
But US ambassador Michael McKinley assured journalists in Kabul that “Afghanistan will remain at the highest levels of our foreign policy agenda”. A similar statement was issued by the US ambassador to Pakistan, David Hale.
A Trump presidency may not be as isolationist or unpredictable in its approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan as many expect. He inherits a war in Afghanistan made unwinnable by “structural deficiencies in the Afghan army and police, which are declining in size due to attrition”, said Arif Rafiq, a fellow at the Centre for Global Policy, a Washington think-tank.
But that does not mean he will order the withdrawal of 8,400 US troops from Afghanistan, prolonged by President Barack Obama after Taliban insurgents made significant gains in 2015, when Afghan forces took over the lead security role from Nato. In its reaction to the election results, the Afghan Taliban called on Trump to pull out all US troops.
“I imagine he would be inclined to accelerate the US troop drawdown, though at the same time I could envision him using a counter-terrorism argument to slow down the drawdown – particularly if the Islamic State continues to claim attacks there,” said Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Centre.
Similarly, the wild-card rhetoric of the Trump campaign may not translate into a hard line towards Pakistan. Trump’s only pointed reference to Pakistan was made in April, amid moves in Congress to block three quarters of annual US military assistance for Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations. Speaking at a town-hall meeting in Indianapolis, Trump cited the need for stability in nuclear-armed Pakistan, where a militant insurgency has raged for a decade, as his rationale for continuing financial assistance to Pakistan.
What South Asian millennials are telling their families about Trump
“It is very much against my grain to say that, but a country – and that’s always the country, I think, you know, we give them money and we help them out, but if we don’t, I think that would go on the other side of the ledger and that could really be a disaster,” Trump had said, without elaborating.
For the time being, Pakistani politicians are hoping Trump’s more common election campaign rhetoric won’t be reflected in his presidential decisions. “I hope when he speaks through his actions it’ll be for global good,” tweeted the Pakistani prime minister’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of the populous Punjab province.

The Escalating Pakistan Nuclear Horn

By Wasantha Rupasinghe
8 November 2016
According to an Indian defence spokesperson, in the latest incident on Sunday, two Indian soldiers were killed and two more soldiers and three civilians were injured in the Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district by Pakistani fire. Lt. Col. Manish Mehta boasted: “Indian troops [are] responding befittingly and have caused heavy damage to Pakistani army posts.”
An Indian intelligence sources cited by the media declared, “While Pakistan targeted Victor post of the Indian Army, their Copra post caught fire in retaliatory fire by the Indian troops. Pakistan has also suffered some casualties in retaliatory fire. However, their exact number could not be known.”
The artillery exchange on Sunday took place after a lull of four days. On the previous Sunday, the Indian military said it inflicted “heavy casualties,” destroying four Pakistani army posts in the “Keran sector” of Pakistani-held Kashmir. The “massive fire assault” was supposedly in retaliation for the beheading of an Indian soldier by “terrorist” infiltrators on October 28.
The ongoing clashes along the LoC highlight the dangerous standoff that has brought the nuclear-armed rivals to the brink of war. The Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is waging an aggressive military campaign against Pakistan, blaming it for Islamic separatist attacks on an Indian army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18.
The governments of both India and Pakistan are whipping up reactionary chauvinism and militarism, creating explosive tensions on the subcontinent. Accusations of spying have led to diplomatic expulsions and withdrawals from each other’s capital. The Pakistan Express Tribune reported on November 4 that both countries “may temporarily recall high commissioners.”
Last Thursday, in an unprecedented move, the Pakistani Foreign Office named eight Indian diplomats in Islamabad as agents of India’s intelligence agencies—the notorious Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB). Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria told the media: “As you are aware, a number of Indian diplomats and staff belonging to the Indian intelligence agencies RAW and IB have been found involved in coordinating terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan under the garb of diplomatic assignments.”
Pakistani authorities outlined a long list of charges: “espionage, subversion and supporting of terrorist activities in Balochistan and Sindh,” “sabotaging the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” “creating unrest in Gilgit-Balistan,” “damaging Pakistan-Afghanistan relations,” “fabricating evidence to portray Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism,” “fueling sectarianism and maligning Pakistan with propaganda on human rights issues,” “carrying out activities in AJK [Pakistani-held Kashmir] detrimental to the Kashmir cause and misleading the international community about indigenous movement for self-determination in IOK [Indian-held Kashmir].”
Indian Prime Minister Modi has made no secret of his government’s backing for separatist movements in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. He has cited Islamabad’s alleged atrocities in that province to counter Pakistan’s accusations of human rights abuses by the Indian military in Indian-held Kashmir. Modi has exploited the Balochistan issue in international forums like the UN as part of a diplomatic campaign to isolate Pakistan.
India is opposed to the CPEC, a network of rail links, highways and pipelines connecting western China with the Pakistani port city of Gwadar. New Delhi cites the fact that the CPEC runs through Gilgit-Balistan and Pakistani-held Kashmir—areas claimed by India—but its real concern is that the corridor could give a boost to both Pakistan and its other regional rival, China.
Under Modi, India has forged even closer ties with the US as it seeks to encircle China with allies and strategic partners. The CPEC offers China an alternate means of importing energy and raw materials from Africa and the Middle East. The Pentagon’s war planners have foreshadowed the imposition of a naval blockade of China using key “choke points” such as the Malacca Strait in the event of conflict with China.
The diplomatic feud was triggered on October 27 when India declared Pakistani High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar as persona non-gratia for alleged espionage activities. Akhtar was arrested by Delhi police allegedly with “sensitive defence documents” for the Pakistani military spy agency, the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). He was expelled from India.
The Indian government has been backed by the US in its bellicose campaign against Pakistan following the Uri attack. Washington regards New Delhi as an important partner in its “pivot to Asia”—a comprehensive strategy aimed at undermining the influence of, and preparing for war with China. The US has showered India with important concessions, including a civilian nuclear deal that gives India access to global nuclear market, an offer of advanced defence technology and support for New Delhi’s strategic outreach into South East Asia and Africa.
Despite its formal calls for “restraint” on both sides and appeals for a “negotiated settlement,” the US has supported India’s moves to isolate Pakistan internationally by branding it a “terrorism sponsoring” state. It has blamed Islamabad for the terrorist activities of separatist groups in Indian-held Kashmir and backed the Modi government’s military aggression, including its so-called “surgical strikes” inside Pakistan’s territory on September 28-29.
The escalating geo-political tensions between India and Pakistan underscore the utterly reactionary nature of nation-state structure in South Asia, created through communal partition of British India into a Muslim Pakistan and a Hindu-dominated India in 1947. The decades-long geo-political rivalry in South Asia has already led to three declared wars and countless war crises between India and Pakistan. Now an all-out war between India and Pakistan could become the trigger for a catastrophic global conflict that would draw in the US, China and all the nuclear-armed powers.

The Antichrist, UN, and the Million Man March

Report from UN Security Council
Published on 25 Oct 2016 
I. Introduction
1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2299 (2016), in which I was requested to report every three months on the progress made towards the fulfilment of the responsibilities of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). It covers key developments relating to Iraq and provides an update on the activities of the United Nations in Iraq since the issuance of my report dated 5 July 2016 (S/2016/592).
A. Political situation
2. On 15 August, the Council of Representatives confirmed five new ministers to head the Ministry of Oil, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the Ministry of Construction and Housing. Nominations are yet to be made to fill key posts, including that of Minister of the Interior, after Mohammed al-Ghabban resigned on 5 July, Minister of Defence, after the Council withdrew confidence in Khaled al-Obeidi on 25 August, and Minister of Finance, after the Council withdrew confidence in Hoshyar Zebari on 21 September. The endorsement by the Council of An Nafi‘ Awsi as Minister of Construction and Housing brings the number of female ministers to 2 out of a total of 17 ministers currently endorsed by the Council.
3. On 30 July and 25 August, respectively, the Council of Representatives passed two important pieces of legislation, a law to ban the Baath Party and a general amnesty law, both part of the national political accord of 2014 and the programme of the Government. The former prohibits the Baath Party and any other party or entity that incites, glorifies or promotes racism, terrorism, takfirist ideology or sectarian cleansing. The latter grants amnesty for a number of lesser crimes and establishes a judicial review mechanism that, upon request, can allow for retrial and reinvestigation if criminal procedures were initiated on basis of testimony by secret informers or in cases in which confessions were extracted by force. The passage of the General Amnesty Law, in particular, proved controversial, with significant disagreements among political parties over the exemption of terrorist crimes and additional restrictions on the option of reinvestigation under the judicial review mechanism. Last-minute compromises between the National Alliance and the Iraqi Forces Coalition led to the adoption of the law with amendments to the more contentious articles. A number of parties within the National Alliance continue to criticize the law, which they argue will lead to the release of convicted terrorists.
4. The Council of Representatives continued to focus on allegations of corruption and mismanagement against senior members of the Government. The then Minister of Defence, Khaled al-Obeidi, was questioned by parliamentarians on 1 August regarding allegations of corrupt practices and graft, specifically in relation to defence contracts. During the questioning, he countered the accusations against him by accusing several senior legislators, including the Speaker, Salim al-Jubouri, of corruption relating to military contracts. The Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, instructed the Commission of Integrity to investigate the allegations on 2 August. For his part, the Speaker requested on 9 August that his immunity be lifted by the Council to allow him to appear before the investigative court charged with examining the accusations against him. The case was dropped by the court after his appearance before it. Following the withdrawal of confidence in the Minister of Defence on 25 August, the acting Army Chief of Staff, Othman al-Ghanimi, was appointed as Minister of Defence ad interim on 29 August.
5. On 25 August, the then Minister of Finance, Hoshyar Zebari, was questioned by the Council of Representatives regarding allegations of mismanagement of State funds for personal use and release of funds to the Kurdistan region of Iraq in contravention of the Federal General Budget Law of 2015. On 27 August, the Council declared that his answers had been insufficient. The Prime Minister stated on 6 September that the Council had overstepped its scrutinizing role in its attempt to impeach the Minister. On 21 September, however, the Council adopted, through a secret ballot, a motion of no confidence in Mr. Zebari, who announced that he would challenge the decision before the Supreme Court.

Korea Shows The Scarlet Woman A Show of Force

Clay Dillow, special to 8 Hours Ago
The United States and South Korea will stay on high alert today after receiving reports that North Korea may test fire an intermediate-range ballistic missile during the U.S. presidential election. According to military officials, Pyongyang may want to send a message to the new U.S. president that it will not give up its nuclear and missile development programs.
The Musudan, or BM-35 missile, has an estimated range of 3,500 kilometers, which is enough to allow it to target the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, an island with key strategic assets for U.S. forces.
Though Western security analysts know very little for certain about the missile test expected as Americans line up at the polls, arms-control experts and North Korea watchers can agree one thing is likely: A small group of Iranian observers will be there to witness the latest demonstration of North Korean ballistic missile technology.
The cozy military relationship between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Iran no longer receives the attention it did two decades ago, when the two countries actively exchanged ballistic missile technology and know-how. But the relationship may be pulled back into focus as the next U.S. presidential administration attempts to manage a tenuous rapprochement with Tehran at the same time North Korea dials up its nuclear and ballistic missile provocations.
Little exists in the way of hard evidence suggesting the two countries are currently co-developing ballistic missiles or exchanging critical nuclear technologies, experts say. However, Iranian scientists and military officers have reportedly observed most of North Korea’s major missile and nuclear tests over the past 20 years.
“There’s no really good evidence that they cooperate on nuclear issues,” says Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in California. “But given the scale of the cooperation we’ve seen on the missile side, would it shock me? No, it would not shock me.”
Military bedfellows
Security ties between North Korea and Iran reach back at least as far as the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, when North Korea supplied Iran with hundreds of Soviet-designed Scud-B and Scud-C ballistic missiles during the latter half of the decade and into the early 1990s. Iran renamed its Scuds Shahab-1 and Shahab-2, respectively, and its engineers began tinkering with the technology under an indigenous ballistic missile technology program.
North Korea also supplied Iran with its own medium-range No-dong missile, a scaled-up adaptation of Scud technology with an estimated 1,500-kilometer — or roughly 930-mile — range first flown by North Korea in 1993. Iran dubbed its No-dong derivatives Shahab-3 and developed several variants that remain in Iran’s arsenal, including one with a reported range of roughly 1,900 kilometers, or nearly 1,200 miles. (Pakistan also received Scud technology from North Korea around this time, renaming its missile variants Ghauri.)
In the latter half of the 1990s, the concrete ties between the various Scud-based ballistic missile technology programs of North Korea, Pakistan and Iran become less clear. “In a historical sense, the North Koreans provided a lot of liquid fuel missile technology and missiles to a lot of folks, including the Pakistanis and the Iranians,” says Tom Karako, a senior fellow and director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The early Shahab missiles and the Ghauris in Pakistan were basically North Korean Scuds with different paint jobs — literally — transferred from North Korea to those countries. Later these countries got their own liquid- and solid-fueled technologies up and running on their own,” he said.
In other words, from the late 1990s onward, Iran and North Korea continued to develop their ballistic missile technologies, though exactly how much co-development or technology exchange has occurred between the two remains unclear. “Pyongyang and Tehran may share test data on a limited basis and perhaps trade conceptual ideas,” Michael Elleman, an expert on Iran’s ballistic missile program and senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Middle East office, wrote in post 38 North, a North Korea analysis website hosted by the U.S. Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, in September. “But there is little evidence to indicate the two regimes are engaged in deep missile-related collaboration, or pursuing joint-development programs.”
Not all experts agree strictly with that characterization, however. Lewis points to similarities not only between North Korean and Iranian Scud derivatives like the No-dong and Shahab but also similar design choices, incorporated into the two countries’ space launch rockets and the migration of design concepts and components from one country to the other. One such instance of technology transfer allegedly came to light earlier this year when North Korea tested a new rocket engine incorporating Iranian technology. In response, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned individuals associated with Iran’s ballistic missile program, Lewis notes. “We know that there’s a pretty robust collaboration,” he says. “We see the cooperation right up until this day.”
Iran-North Korea nexus
What exactly this means for the future of the U.S.-Iran nuclear accord and international efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile provocations is unclear. North Korea has conducted nine ballistic missile launches and two nuclear tests this year, but heightened tensions between the DPRK and its neighbors, as well as the United States, have taken a backseat to more outwardly visible national security issues, like the campaign against the Islamic State and Russian military provocations in Syria and Eastern Europe. One of those ballistic missile tests of an extended-range No-dong missile took place just prior to the final U.S. presidential debate in October, but neither the test nor North Korea registered within the debate as a pressing national security issue.
“I think in the public consciousness, it has registered — I think people are more aware now than they were in the past — but in the political circles, it’s not getting the attention it should,” says Jenny Town, assistant director of the US-Korea Institute and managing editor of 38 North. “I think part of that is because there are no easy answers.”
Nor is there an abundance of smoking guns. “I think these days anything that looks like sanctions violations when it comes to North Korea is going to cause some kind of crackdown,” Town says. But while it’s relatively easy to flag the transport and exchange of whole missile systems or dual-use technologies, both Iran and North Korea are independently far enough along in their respective missile and nuclear programs that such wholesale movement of technologies and systems isn’t necessary. Instead, whatever transfers may be taking place are likely of knowledge and data or of components and parts — pieces of the technology puzzle that are far more difficult to monitor.
Nonetheless, North Korea is drawing closer to developing working long-range intercontinental ballistic missile technology that could potentially reach the mainland United States, and its nuclear program continues to progress toward a miniaturized device capable of launching aboard land- or submarine-based ballistic missiles. In August, North Korea tested just such a submarine-launched missile for the first time. It also successfully tested its intermediate-range Musudan missile in June, though two subsequent tests in October failed. Some analysts have floated the idea that one or both of those subsequent failures may not have been Musudan missiles at all, but tests of a North Korean ICBM known as the KN-08.
Though North Korean long-range ICBM technology has yet to prove itself in tests, the technology continues to progress, raising the prospect that the isolated nation could offer the technology to one of its few friends in exchange for necessary missile expertise, nuclear know-how, cash or some combination of the three.
“What confidence do we have that North Korea, for the right amount of cash, wouldn’t sell just about anything?” Karako says. “The answer to that is: just about none. There’s just about nothing that they won’t sell. I don’t think we have any reason to be confident about the North Koreans being self-constrained.”
That could push the Iran/North Korea military relationship back to the fore as Washington eases sanctions and economic constraints on one party while ratcheting up pressure on the other. While North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, proved by comparison a more predictable and measured leader, the younger Kim has demonstrated a stubborn resolve to push ahead with efforts to develop a North Korean intercontinental nuclear missile capability.
“On the North Korean side, it’s pretty disturbing, based just on their actions alone, on things we don’t have to speculate about,” Karako says. “This is something that could come to a head far sooner than anyone would like.”
— By Clay Dillow, special to