Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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Syria militants trained on Qatari soil: Report

According to a new report, militants fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria are being covertly trained on the Qatari soil with the help of the United States.
On Wednesday, the unnamed security sources said the militants are being provided with training at a camp located south of the Qatari capital, Doha, between the Saudi border and the US-run al-Udeid Air Base, Reuters reported.
The sources noted that militants from the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) were among those receiving training as part of a program which has been running for almost a year.
Groups of 12 to 20 militants travel from Syria to Turkey and are then flown to Doha and driven to the training camp, the sources said, adding that the militants were initially identified by the CIA spy agency.
Militants “from the FSA and other groups have been flown in to get trained in things like ambush techniques,” said a source close to the Qatari government, whose name was not released.
Another source estimated that the training “would last a few months, maybe two or three, and then a new group would be flown in.”
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. According to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, more than 200,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict over the past more than three years.
Since late September, the United States, along with some of its Arab allies, has been conducting airstrikes against ISIL positions inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.
This is while many of the countries joining the US-led bombing coalition, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been staunch supporters of the Takfiri ISIL elements in their fight against the government of President Assad.


Karachi Police, on the information of area people, conducted a raid on the Deobandi seminary in the Liaquatabad FC Area and recovered 26 minor girls belonging to Bajaur Agency of the FATA from their captivity.
According to police, the girls, recovered, are aged between 8 to 10 years and they cannot speak Urdu language. Police have also taken two women into custody from the house for interrogation.
The mystery of 26 juvenile girls recovered during a police raid in Karachi resolved on Wednesday as officials said these children were handed over to a family because of a dispute.
Karachi Police investigation teams revealed today that these girls, aging between eight and 10 years, were all students of (Deobandi) religious seminary hailing from tribal Bajaur Agency.
During the raid, police arrested the house owner, Ayoub, his wife and a woman who claimed to be caretaker of the girls and running a Deobandi seminary in Karachi. Following the investigation, the couple revealed that they owed Rs.0.3 million to the seminary administrator, but could not return the money.
“She was demanding for the cash but we couldn’t pay it off, at which she arrived here along with the girls and handed them to us to raise them and bear their expenses,” Ayoub claimed during interrogation.
The girls were shifted to a shelter home of the city. Media and police are trying to cover up the role of Deobandi clerics because the woman that claims to be running a seminary cannot do so own her own and she certainly enjoys patronage by the Deobandi Wifaq ul Madaris.

Afghan woman kills 25 Taliban rebels to avenge her son’s murder

An Afghan woman has killed at least 25 Taliban militants to avenge the murder of her son who was a police officer in western Farah province.
According to reports, Reza Gul was forced to pick up arms after her son was shot dead by Taliban militants in front of her eyes.
Her son was leading a small group of police forces in a check post located in a village of Farah province.
She was supported by her daughter and daughter-in-law during the gun battle which lasted for almost 7 hours that left at least 25 Taliban militants dead and five others injured.
Sediq Sediq, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said the armed campaign by women against the Taliban militants is a symbol of a major revolution and public uprising against the group.
The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the incident so far.
Farah is among the volatile provinces in western Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are actively operating in its various districts and frequently carry out insurgency activities.

Meet the 40-Year-Old Woman Leading the Fight against ISIS

“We will fight until the last bullet to save the civilians. It is a fight for all of us, a fight for freedom.”

The person leading the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the fight against ISIS in Kobani is a 40-year-old woman named Meysa Abdo, also known as Narin Afrin. She recently wrote an article, translated in the New York Times, sharing the plight of the fighters in Kobani and urging the rest of the world, especially women, to rally behind their cause:

“Those of us on the front lines are well aware of the Islamic State’s treatment of women. We expect women around the world to help us, because we are fighting for the rights of women everywhere. We do not expect them to come to join our fight here (though we would be proud if any did). But we do ask women to promote our case and to raise awareness of our situation in their own countries, and to pressure their governments to help us.”
Abdo is known as a beautiful, “cultivated, intelligent and phlegmatic” woman who “cares for the mental state of the fighters and takes interest in their problems.” While it may be surprising to some that a woman is leading the Kurdish fighters in a Muslim country, by law women receive the same treatment as male fighters; and there are actually hundreds of Kurdish women fighting against ISIS. They have been trained with SWAT teams and the special forces, and are proud to be fighting against ISIS. One unidentified woman said, “It’s an honor to be part of a modern Muslim country that allows women to defend the homeland.”

While the Kurdish fighters have been successfully defending Kobani to this point, Abdo stresses that their weapons are no match for those of the Islamic State. They need armored vehicles and antitank missiles, among other things; but Turkey will not allow those across their border.

Turkey has resisted letting heavy weapons or volunteer fighters get to the YPG, citing the link between the YPG and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)–which has been waging a guerilla war for autonomy for Turkey’s ethnic Kurds for decades. However, there are also many alleged ties between Turkey and the Islamic State. One jihadist even claimed that ISIS has been able to advance to its current state because of money and support from Turkey, and many Westerners who have joined ISIS have entered Syria through Turkey.

Abdo claims:
“There is evidence that Turkish forces have allowed the Islamic State’s men and equipment to move back and forth across the border. But Syrian Kurdish fighters cannot do the same.

“The Turkish government is pursuing an anti-Kurdish policy against the Syrian Kurds, and their priority is to suppress the Kurdish freedom movement in Northern Syria. They want Kobani to fall.”

After pressure from the West and the Kurds in Turkey and Syria, the Turkish government recently allowed some fighters from Iraq (with whom they have a good relationship) to cross through its territory to meet up with the YPG. About 150 peshmerga fighters (professional soldiers from Iraq’s Kurdish region–the name means, “those who confront death”) have crossed the border and joined the Kurds defending Kobani, but they will only be there as temporary reinforcements.

Abdo urges Western governments to “increase their pressure on Turkey to open a corridor for Syrian Kurdish forces and their heavy weapons to reach the defenders of Kobani through the border. We believe that such a corridor, and not only the limited transport of other fighters that Turkey has proposed, should be opened under the supervision of the United Nations.”

The Kurds have no intention of backing down, whether they receive new weapons or not. Abdo proclaims:
“We will fight until the last bullet to save the civilians. It is a fight for all of us, a fight for freedom.”

The fight against ISIS is one that everyone who loves freedom should join. Abdo warns:
“If you don’t help us, they will come for you one day.”

China: Mainland attitude sealed fate of Hong Kong protest

Hong Kong authorities on Tuesday deployed about 6,000 police officers after a court order authorized the clearance of a protest site which had remained for nearly two months in the district of Mong Kok. Police arrested about 80 protesters who refused to comply with the order, including pro-democracy activist and lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung. There was some inevitable confusion at the site, but the clearance was conducted as smoothly as expected.
With its goals appearing ridiculous and public support quickly diminishing, the Occupy Central campaign has failed. However, it does not mean the forces which plotted and instigated this movement will also lose their place in Hong Kong society. Extreme events like Occupy Central will probably recur.
But the fiasco may after all serve as a bitter lesson for both Hong Kong opposition groups and some Hong Kong residents who feel pity for these protesters. The most crucial part of the lesson should be that the odds will never be in their favor if the opposition groups engage in a direct confrontation with the central government. Their radical illusion of reshaping Hong Kong is like tilting at windmills. It will never come to pass.
The Occupy Central movement is not solely watched or felt by Hong Kong residents. This whole event is also open to the Chinese mainland public. The extreme opposition in Hong Kong wished that at least a portion of mainlanders would be agitated enough to support their cause, which would then deal a blow to the central government. However, their trump card proved to be wishful thinking. This incident on the streets of Hong Kong has barely made any impact on the entire country.
Public discourse in the mainland remains calm in face of the hustle and bustle on Hong Kong's streets. Only a handful of mainlanders pandered to what the opposition groups called for, but their voices were soon smothered by mainstream opinion.
Since a white paper on the practice of the "one country, two systems" policy in Hong Kong was released in June, the central government has specified all the major principles of the basic system to the Hong Kong public, an effort which has rejected and denounced all heterodox interpretations.
The central government has exercised restraint on this matter without exerting its strength directly. It expressed its objections to the movement and then preserved a dignified and silent bearing. What the opposition parties asked for has been scorned.
Hong Kong is still disturbed by conflicting concepts about the orientation of its society, but the ruling principles of "one country, two systems" have been unequivocally expounded to the public, and shall not be subverted.
The Occupy Central campaign has been reduced to nothing more than chaos on the streets, and the price has to be paid by many innocent Hongkongers. But we should have confidence in the wisdom of the Hong Kong authorities, which will help their society regain rationality and call an end to extreme activities.

Hong Kong protest leaders arrested

Two key student leaders at the heart of the Hong Kong Occupy protests were arrested Wednesday during the second day that authorities moved to clear a major protest site in Mong Kok, as residents and business owners expressed relief over resumed traffic and business operations in the area. 

Hong Kong police and bailiffs met little resistance as they successfully completed the second phase of the operation to clear the most volatile of Hong Kong's three protest sites as ongoing Occupy protests entered their 60th day. 

Crowds nearby cheered and clapped as the last remaining barricades were removed from the site, freeing up space for traffic on Nathan Road, one of Hong Kong's busiest boulevards, to resume at around 3:30 pm. 

The clearance on Wednesday opened a much longer section of Nathan Road in the bustling working-class district of Mong Kok, after a small but crucial intersection was successfully cleared the day before.

A total of 148 people were arrested during the two-day operation and charged with offenses including contempt of court, unlawful assembly and resisting arrest, according to Radio Television Hong Kong. 

Among them were prominent student activists Lester Shum, deputy secretary-general of the Federation of Students, and Joshua Wong, the leader of Scholarism. 

The demonstrators have been calling for wider representation in candidates for the 2017 election of Hong Kong's chief executive.

"The taxi drivers are very pleased with the resumed traffic after the clearance. Some of them have lost one-third or even half of their usual monthly revenue because of the protests," Phyllis Kwong Ka-yin, the lawyer who represents the taxi drivers' group that obtained the court order to clear the site, told the Global Times. 

Hong Kong-based Cable TV said 4,000 police officers participated in Wednesday's clearance. Clashes broke out several times between police and protesters.

Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying urged protesters not to return to the protest site, restating his position that the protests are illegal after some protesters vowed to return to the site. 

The injunction remains in effect. Anyone who remains at the site or blocks roads with barricades will be in breach of the law and may face imprisonment, Kwong warned. 

"As the clearance is carried out under a court injunction, there is no more gray area that would allow the protesters to continue their protest," Elizabeth Quat Pui-fan, a lawmaker from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, told the Global Times. 

As clearance of the Mong Kok protest camp progressed, protesters were still blocking traffic in segments of roads in the city's Admiralty district, nearby the region's government headquarters and major shopping and financial areas. 

"There are still some protesters blocking our access to the legislative council building [in Admiralty] but the number has been greatly reduced. We still have to observe whether the protesters will go on the offensive again in the coming few days," said Quat. 

Speaking at a regular press conference on Wednesday, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the Occupy protests are illegal in every sense, that no country would allow them, and that the central government remains resolute in its support for the Hong Kong authorities' handling of the situation according to law. 

Wall Street Journal in a report on Tuesday, quoting an unidentified source familiar with the discussions, said the Beijing government is considering adjusting the makeup of the nominating committee that will select candidates running for Hong Kong's next chief executive in 2017 as a way to address public concern. 

That possibility, however, was ruled out by Qiang Shigong, executive director of the Center for Hong Kong and Macao Studies. 

The central government's decision on August 21 is final and there is unlikely to be any fundamental change to the committee's composition, Qiang was quoted by Hong Kong China News Agency as saying.

Putin: Russia Will Not Be Drawn Into Geopolitical Conflicts

President Putin said that Russia would defend its sovereignty and integrity, while ensuring security of its allies.Russia will resist any attempts to draw it in geopolitical games or conflicts, but will do everything to ensure its sovereignty and integrity, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.
"We are not threatening anyone and we have no intentions to get involved into geopolitical games, intrigue let alone conflicts, no matter who tries to draw us into them and how hard they try," Putin said at a meeting with top military brass in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.
"At the same time, we must safeguard Russia's sovereignty and integrity, while ensuring security of our allies," Putin stressed.

Geopolitical tensions have escalated considerably in the last few months amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Russia has been repeatedly accused of meddling in Ukrainian affairs by Western countries, the claims that Russia denies.
In October, Vladimir Putin stated that the global security system was seriously weakened and the world was going through a very difficult period. The president also accused the United States of taking steps that aggravate the imbalance of power following the Cold War.

Russia - Using terrorists for regime change is unacceptable - Lavrov

Moscow condemns efforts to overthrow Syria's political regime using terrorist groups in the region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

"Russia condemns the use of extremist groups in efforts to change the regime [in Syria]," Lavrov said, at a news conference on Wednesday in Sochi, after meeting his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem.
The foreign minister called the US refusal to compromise with Syrian authorities "openly ideology-driven," saying that Syria's nuclear disarmament confirms the country's cooperation internationally.
Saying the fight against terrorism should be conducted without "double standards," the minister said strikes on the Islamic State forces without approval from Damascus violated international laws.
"In relation to this, questions to the US-led coalition arise, about who perform strikes on Islamic State without agreement with Damascus," said Lavrov.
Russia will keep advising Syria and other countries under terrorist threat on their military efficiency, Lavrov added, saying the fight against growing extremist forces in the Middle East is the international community's top priority.
Moscow has also asked the EU and UN to address the issue of terrorists selling oil from the occupied regions. Lavrov said that information regarding terrorists stealing oil from territories in Syria and Iraq continues to surface, and Russia is unimpressed with UN investigations into the matter.
The minister also criticized the EU decision to suspend its embargo on buying oil from Libya, saying there is still a region in the oil producing country controlled by terrorists.
Russia will develop its relations and contacts with Syria and its leader Bashar Assad, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said after meeting Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov.
The Syrian diplomat said that Putin confirmed Russia's intentions to cooperate with the country, particularly in the fight against terrorism.

Video - 'Arrested without any warning': RT Ruptly producer on Ferguson detention

Video - Moment Ferguson police detain Ruptly journalist

Video - #FergusonRiots - Michael Brown’s Father: ‘I'm Just Crushed’

U.S. - The Meaning of the Ferguson Riots

The St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer who in August shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, would have generated widespread anger and disappointment in any case. But the county prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, who is widely viewed in the minority community as being in the pockets of the police, made matters infinitely worse by handling this sensitive investigation in the worst possible way.
First, he refused to step aside in favor of a special prosecutor who could have been appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri. He further undermined public confidence by taking a highly unorthodox approach to the grand jury proceeding. Instead of conducting an investigation and then presenting the case and a recommendation of charges to the grand jury, his office shifted its job to the grand jury. It made no recommendation on whether to indict the officer, Darren Wilson, but left it to the jurors to wade through masses of evidence to determine whether there was probable cause to file charges against Officer Wilson for Mr. Brown’s killing.
Under ordinary circumstances, grand jury hearings can be concluded within days. The proceeding in this case lasted an astonishing three months. And since grand jury proceedings are held in secret, the drawn-out process fanned suspicions that Mr. McCulloch was deliberately carrying on a trial out of public view, for the express purpose of exonerating Officer Wilson.
If all this weren’t bad enough, Mr. McCulloch took a reckless approach to announcing the grand jury’s finding. After delaying the announcement all day, he finally made it late in the evening, when darkness had placed law enforcement agencies at a serious disadvantage as they tried to control the angry crowds that had been drawn into the streets by news that the verdict was coming. Mr. McCulloch’s announcement sounded more like a defense of Officer Wilson than a neutral summary of the facts that had led the grand jury to its conclusion.
For the black community of Ferguson, the killing of Michael Brown was the last straw in a long train of abuses that they have suffered daily at the hands of the local police. News accounts have strongly suggested, for example, that the police in St. Louis County’s many municipalities systematically target poor and minority citizens for street and traffic stops — partly to generate fines — which has the effect of both bankrupting and criminalizing whole communities.
In this context, the police are justifiably seen as an alien, occupying force that is synonymous with state-sponsored abuse.
The case resonated across the country — in New York City, Chicago and Oakland — because the killing of young black men by police is a common feature of African-American life and a source of dread for black parents from coast to coast. This point was underscored last month in a grim report by ProPublica, showing that young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk — 21 times greater — of being shot dead by police than young white men. These statistics reflect the fact that many police officers see black men as expendable figures on the urban landscape, not quite human beings.
We get a flavor of this in Officer Wilson’s grand jury testimony, when he describes Michael Brown, as he was being shot, as a soulless behemoth who was “almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him.”
President Barack Obama was on the mark last night when he said, “We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson, this is an issue for America.” The rioting that scarred the streets of St. Louis County — and the outrage that continues to reverberate across the country — underlines this inescapable point. It shows once again that distrust of law enforcement presents a grave danger to the civic fabric of the United States.

Video - Obama Heckled Over Immigration Policies in Chicago Appearance

President Obama betrayed a little frustration when he got hecklers during an immigation speech and told them they really shouldn’t be yelling at him after he announced action to fix the immigration system.
Several individuals at the Chicago rally shouted at Obama, including one woman who cried, “You have been deporting families!” There was also a brief chant of “not one more!”
The president interjected and told them to stop yelling and be respectful. He acknowledged there’s been a “significant number of deportations” but told them they should be paying more mind to his recent announcement:
“Thought I might understand why you would have yelled at me a month ago, although I disagree with some of my characterizations, it doesn’t make much sense to yell at me right now, when we’re making changes.” Obama tried to move on, but when he heard more shouting, he deadpanned, “It’s good to be back in Chicago.”

Video - President Obama Speaks in Chicago About His Action on Immigration

Pashto Music - Ahmad Zahir: Oh Na Razi Janan Zama

♥ ♫ ♥Pashto Song...Ahmad Zahir...Lar Sha Nangarhar Ta.

Music Video - Shabnam Suraya & Sadriddin - Wafai Delam

Music Video - Shabnam Suraya ft.Farzonai Khushed Illohi Tajik Song

U.S. To Leave More Troops In Afghanistan Than First Planned: Report

By Jessica Donati
The United States is preparing to increase the number of troops it keeps in Afghanistan in 2015 to fill a gap left in the NATO mission by other contributing nations, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the situation.
The final numbers are still being agreed, but there will be at least several hundred more than initially planned, one of the sources said.
"If they hadn't done that, the mission would have lost bases," the source said.
Under the U.S. commitment, described as a "bridging solution" until other nations fulfill their pledges later in the year or the troops are no longer needed, Washington may provide up to 1,000 extra soldiers.
That figure was confirmed by all three sources, who said the final number was still under discussion and depended on when other countries stepped forward with their commitments.
The additional U.S. troops will be assigned to a 12,000-strong NATO force staying in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan forces through a new mission called Resolute Support, said the sources, who declined to be identified.
The coalition force in Afghanistan did not comment on the figures but said it welcomed all commitments of troops to the new NATO-led mission.
"We are confident that we will have the necessary resources to launch the Resolute Support mission on Jan. 1, 2015. The process to generate the forces required for the mission is ongoing," the International Security Assistance Force said.
The Pentagon acknowledged discussions with NATO partners. But spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said, "As we stand here today, there is no change in the 9,800 force level."
The bulk of Western combat troops, who once numbered up to 130,000, are to leave the country at the end of this year when the mission officially winds up after 13 years of war against a stubborn Taliban and its al Qaeda allies.
President Barack Obama had announced in May that U.S. troop levels would be cut to 9,800 by the end of the year, by half again in 2015 and to a normal embassy presence with a security assistance office in Kabul by the end of 2016.
"There will be 9,800 troops, plus at least a few hundred above and beyond that," the same source said.
Of the 9,800, some 8,000 had been earmarked for the NATO force and the remainder for a separate anti-terrorism operation.
The move to increase the U.S. presence left in Afghanistan comes shortly after Obama approved plans to give the U.S. military a wider role to fight the hardline Islamist Taliban movement alongside Afghan forces after the current mission expires.
While Afghanistan's military and police remain in control of all 34 provincial capitals, violence has risen in the last year and the rate of casualties suffered by local security forces has been described by the U.S. military as unsustainable.
Around 4,600 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed already in 2014, more than 6 percent higher than the same period of 2013.
The Taliban, ousted in 2001, has become increasingly bold in its attacks and controls several districts across a country where access to many areas is still limited by rugged terrain and poor security.
Despite more than $4 billion in aid to Afghan forces this year, police and soldiers frequently complain that they lack proper resources to fight the Taliban alone.

Former President Asif Ali Zardari condemned attack on polio workers in Quetta
Co-Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party former President Asif Ali Zardari has condemned attack on polio workers in Quetta. According to media reports four polio workers were killed including three women in Quetta on Wednesday morning in this attack.
Former President in a statement expressed concerns that the Polio Team was not provided security and said that if the security were given to them, the incident would not have happened. He said that the attack proved that terrorists do not want our children to get health facilities. These terrorists were bombing our schools some time back and now attacking polio workers. He asked nation to be united against these terrorists. He said that these polio workers are our heroes and heroines who have sacrificed their lives to save our future generations from this crippling disease.
Asif Ali Zardari demanded that the killers should be arrested, brought to book and should be punished severely.

The Perpetual Headache with a Humongous Nuclear Arsenal named Pakistan

By: Pathikrit Payne

India's diplomatic coup d'état by making the US President agree to become the Guest of Honor for the Republic Day celebrations for 2015 needs applause. However, even as India's growing stature in the global geopolitical and diplomatic arena is commendable, few incidents in the neighborhood continue to remain critical issues of concern. While the rabid disdain and hatred that Pakistan has institutionally built against India is not a new thing, the worsening internal security scenario inside Pakistan, the growing strength of the Jihadist elements and increasing suspicion about the presence of a large number of Jihadi sympathizers with the Pakistani establishment including the Pakistan Army have all contributed towards creating a considerable amount of concern in India.

The Threat from Growing Nuclear Arsenal of Pakistan This has now been more compounded by the recent estimate by US based Council of Foreign Relations that by 2020 Pakistan is slated to have more than 200 nuclear bombs in its arsenal. In nuclear parlance, numbers may not matter much per se since one thermonuclear device may be good enough to wreak havoc. It is not that Pakistan would ever get a chance to use all of the 200 bombs and not that it would continue to exist even if it uses one against India.

 Threat of Falling in the hands of Terrorists But larger the arsenal the higher the chance of some of those falling in wrong hands and that is the real cause of worry for India. With the growing support base of ISIS in Pakistan and with a plethora of radical Islamist terror groups starting from Al Qaeda to Tehreek e Taliban to Jandullah and several others waiting for the US to exit the Afghan theatre to start their renewed offensive in Afghanistan, the possibility of them being steered towards India remains high. It had happened in the same way in late eighties of 20th Century when with the exit of Soviet Forces from Afghanistan and an abrupt end to the Afghan war as a result of US leaving too, Pakistan systematically exploited the situation to channelize the trained, radicalized but unemployed Mujahids towards Kashmir. 

The possibility of that being repeated remains profound and a weaker Pakistan coupled with emboldened Jihadi elements make the matter worse for India. The spate of terror attacks on Pakistan military installations by Jihadi elements vindicate that security of nuclear arsenal would continue to be a cause of concern and a real one. Should Only India be Concerned? The fear of a stolen nuclear bomb from Pakistan should not just be a worry for India but also for several other countries including US. Several radical Islamist terror groups who are not even operating in the region may be highly interested in getting hold of one and there is no easier place today than Pakistan which is perpetually on the verge of being declared a failed state. A Cornered Pakistan May Play the Worst Game with Nuclear Arsenal Pakistan has already been on the back foot but has been cornered further since the advent of Modi at the helm of Indian national affairs. 

In the border regions along the LOC, its intransigence of mindless firing and shelling, which was always tolerated by the erstwhile UPA regime by keeping the Indian Army and BSF on the leash, has now been reciprocated by unprecedented firing from the Indian Armed Forces which has been given a free hand by the Modj administration. Diplomatically as well it has been snubbed time and again and with the rising global acceptance of Modi, the ensuing visit of Obama as India's guest during India's Republic Day next year, Pakistan is feeling more cornered. 

Therefore for Pakistan to repeat another 26/11 with the help of non-state actors possibly with nuclear weapons and then feign ignorance or non involvement of the state in it or the Islamist Jihadi elements getting hold of a stray bomb and repeating a 26/11 with the same, can bring an apocalypse in not just South Asia but elsewhere as well. What India Needs to do... India therefore needs to work more vigorously towards developing a credible anti-ballistic missile system, strengthening of the coastal and border security grid and on more ground level intelligence. In other words, it has to prepare for the worst instead of presuming that good sense would prevail or that divine intervention would take care of eventualities before they strike. Easier said than done with challenges remaining on each front but with a state like Pakistan as a neighbor, peace of mind is perhaps a luxury.

Read more at:

India-Pakistan Sparring Opens Door for China in South Asia

 For a senior Afghan diplomat sitting inIndia’s capital, it’s easy to explain how a region with a quarter of the world’s people can account for only five percent of global trade.
“India and Pakistan need to overcome their problems,” M. Ashraf Haidari, deputy chief of mission at Afghanistan’s embassy in New Delhi, said in an interview ahead of this week’s meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC. “Summits happen, leaders come, there’s all this consensus and declarations announced. But unfortunately it doesn’t happen in reality.”
As leaders of eight SAARC countries meet in Nepal this week for the first time since 2011, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has more reasons than ever to turn the bloc into a regional force to counter China’s growing influence in South Asia. Doing so will require him to overcome differences with Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif.
So far, things aren’t looking good. Modi’s government scrapped talks with Pakistan in August, which was followed by the worst border fighting between the countries in a decade. At the same time, China has promised SAARC nations part of a $40 billion Silk Road fund to finance infrastructure investments.
“SAARC won’t be able to counter China’s influence,” said Nishan de Mel, executive director and head of research at Colombo-based Verite Research Pvt., a policy research group. “China tends to have an approach that isn’t too demanding and isn’t politically difficult for the partner country and where the partner country will tend to see benefits quite quickly. India’s approach tends to be more hard-nosed.”

Cross-Border Conflict

Poor connectivity, cross-border conflicts and security concerns have contributed to South Asia being one the least integrated regions in the world, according to the World Bank. Besides the India-Pakistan conflict, Sri Lanka suffered a 26-year civil war that ended in 2009, Nepal was disrupted by a Maoist uprising that lasted for a decade until 2006 and Afghanistan continues to suffer from Taliban attacks.
Commerce between SAARC nations accounts for just 5 percent of total trade, compared with 25 percent in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, according to the World Bank. Lack of trade ties within the region is limiting total commerce: India’s exports to its 15 biggest trading partners last year amounted to $188 billion, eight times less than China. That also fails to match Malaysia and Singapore’s overseas sales.

‘Key Priority’

India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj greeted Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz at a SAARC meeting today even while remaining noncommittal about one-on-one talks with Pakistan.
“Please wait,” Swaraj told reporters when asked about the possibility of a meeting between Modi and Sharif. “My meeting was part of common courtesy. At any international conference when we meet our counterparts, we exchange pleasantries.”
SAARC nations this week will seek to ratify agreements for free movement of cargo and passenger vehicles, as well as railways, across member countries. Cooperation in the power sector is also on the agenda, according to a statement on the website of India’s Press Information Bureau, which didn’t provide details. Foreign ministers of the eight nations, including India and Pakistan, meet today, according to a Nepalese Foreign Ministry statement.
“Development of close relations with our neighbors is a key priority for my government,” Modi said in a statement today before leaving for Kathmandu. “We hope that the summit will lead to concrete outcomes, particularly in regard to various initiatives on enhancing connectivity that have been under discussion for a long time.”

‘Zero-Sum Game’

Modi attempted to reinvigorate the SAARC grouping immediately after his election in May by inviting Pakistan’s Sharif and other regional leaders for his inauguration. The goodwill ended a few months later after India called off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan and border skirmishes between the nuclear-armed rivals in October.
“Modi is quite focused on shoring up relations with neighbors to balance China’s attempts at expanding its influence in South Asia,” said Richard M. Rossow, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies based in Washington. While it’d be best for India and China to collaboratively develop the region, now their actions are “being played out like a zero-sum game.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping toured through South Asia earlier this year to promote the Silk Road initiative. He became the first Chinese head of state to visit the Maldives and also stopped in Sri Lanka, where China is financing a $1.4 billion “Colombo Port City” and sending submarines to dock.

Xi Diplomacy

Xi called Afghan leader Mohammad Ashraf Ghani an “old friend” in welcoming him to Beijing last month, a visit that was followed a week later by Sharif. The Chinese president also met Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid this month to discuss economic cooperation on the sidelines of the APEC meetings.
As of now, Modi has no plans to meet Sharif at this week’s SAARC meetings. The Pakistani leader last week urged India to resume talks over the disputed region of Kashmir, the subject of three wars between the neighbors.

Kashmir Stalemate

“Kashmir remains the core contention between both countries,” Sharif said in comments to an audience of leaders in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Nov. 20. “The international community needs to convince India to return to the table.”
Modi will consider how a meeting with Sharif will affect his party’s chances in Jammu and Kashmir state elections, according to Nikita Sud, an associate professor of development studies at the University of Oxford. Voting begins today, with all ballots counted on Dec. 23.
Talks between Sharif and Modi “will depend to a large extent on how such a dialogue will be perceived by their core constituencies back home,” Sud said. “I am pointing to the hard realities of politics and policy here, which are distinct from the pageantry of Mr. Modi’s oath-taking ceremony in New Delhi earlier this year.”

The West Needs a New Strategy for Pakistan