Friday, January 23, 2015

China's leadership warns of unprecedented national security risks

The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPCCentralCommittee warned China is facing unprecedented security risks and should remain alert.
Some of the security challenges and risks are unpredictable so the country must always bemindful of potential dangerssaid a statement issued after a meetingpresided over byPresident Xi Jinpingalso general secretary of the CPC Central Committeeon Friday.
A guideline on China's national security strategy was adopted at the meeting.
When explaining the strategythe statement said China will protect its security in "apattern with Chinese characteristics".
The country will firmly protect its core and important interestswith people's safety as themain missionand safeguard national security through reform and economicdevelopmentit said.
AlsoChina will contribute to the global prosperity while actively safeguarding itsintereststhe statement said.
The country will maintain favorable relations with other major countrieswork for a safeneighborhood and step up cooperation with developing countriesit said.
It will take an active part in global and regional governance and contribute to the world'speace and developmentit added.

NATO Chief Ready to Meet Russia's Lavrov to Discuss Ukraine

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that he was ready to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov next month in Munich, as fighting escalates in eastern Ukraine.
Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine on Friday ruled out joining more peace talks and said they would push on with a new offensive to seize territory from government forces.
In an interview, Stoltenberg described a "substantial increase in Russian heavy equipment" in Ukraine, supplying a conflict that the United Nations says has killed more than 5,000 people, including 262 in the last nine days.
"We speak about tanks, armed vehicles, artillery, advanced air defense systems," Stoltenberg said during a visit to Kosovo, where NATO has some 5,000 peacekeepers.
He said he would hold talks with Russia's Lavrov next month. NATO's top military commander said Thursday that its military leaders would re-establish contact with their Russian counterparts after months of tension over Ukraine.
"I can confirm what Lavrov stated a few days ago, that we are ready to meet each other on the margins of the Munich conference," Stoltenberg said, referring to the annual Munich security conference on Feb 6-8. He gave no details of the likely agenda.
Asked about Iraq, where Islamist fighters of the Islamic State have seized swathes of territory, Stoltenberg said NATO would receive an Iraqi government delegation "in a few days."
"We are now considering a request from the Iraqi government to help them enhance their defense capacity and their ability to fight terror, ISIL, in their own country," he said.
"We will sit down with them and discuss how we can work together and discuss and assess their request for NATO help and assistance."

U.S. - Playing Politics on Iran

Normally, the visit of a world leader to the United States would be arranged by the White House. But in a breach of sense and diplomacy, House Speaker John Boehner and Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, have taken it upon themselves to invite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to Congress to challenge President Obama’s approach to achieving a nuclear agreement with Iran.
Mr. Netanyahu, facing an election on March 17, apparently believes that winning the applause of Congress by rebuking Mr. Obama will bolster his standing as a leader capable of keeping Israel safe. Mr. Boehner seems determined to use whatever means is available to undermine and attack Mr. Obama on national security policy.
Lawmakers have every right to disagree with presidents; so do foreign leaders. But this event, to be staged in March a mile from the White House, is a hostile attempt to lobby Congress to enact more sanctions against Iran, a measure that Mr. Obama has rightly threatened to veto.
In his State of the Union address, Mr. Obama laid out an approach to international engagement that includes shrinking America’s military commitments overseas and negotiating limits on Iran’s nuclear activities in return for a gradual lifting of sanctions. A move by Congress to pass legislation proposing new sanctions could blow up the talks and divide the major powers that have been united in pressuring Iran. Given an excuse to withdraw from talks, Iran could accelerate its nuclear program, curbed for a year under an interim agreement, and force the United States or Israel to use military action or a cyberattack to keep Tehran from producing nuclear weapons.
In a recent Washington Post op-ed article, the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and the European Union also implored Congress to hold off on new sanctions. Similar messages have come from scores of other experts, including two former American national security advisers, Brent Scowcroft, a Republican, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Democrat. According to Secretary of State John Kerry, even Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, warned Congress that new sanctions would scuttle the talks, saying it would “be like throwing a grenade into the process.” Mossad later tried to paper over any perceived differences with Mr. Netanyahu.
Mr. Netanyahu has long defined Iran as Israel’s top threat and made clear his contempt for negotiations. Like his Congressional allies, however, he has never offered a real alternative, except more sanctions (which can’t work if the rest of the world eases up on Iran) or military action. If a deal is finally reached and Congress finds it lacking, tougher sanctions can be imposed then.
Domestic politics are also at work. Republicans apparently see value in trying to sabotage any possible success for Mr. Obama, even if it harms American interests.
As for Mr. Netanyahu, it’s hard to see how disrespecting an American president whom even he says has significantly advanced Israel’s security can benefit his country.
There is no doubt that Mr. Obama will maintain America’s security commitments to Israel, whatever the tensions over the Iran issue. But this event is bound to further harm a bilateral relationship that has endured a lot of battering over the past six years. The White House has said that, understandably, Mr. Obama will not meet with Mr. Netanyahu when he is in town. Even Mr. Kerry, who recently called almost 50 world leaders in an effort to block the Palestinians’ attempt to join the International Criminal Court, is losing patience with Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to “play politics,” according to his aides. Can Mr. Netanyahu really afford to dismiss such allies?

Video - The YouTube Interview with President Obama

Video - White House furious over Netanyahu and Boehner meeting

#PeshawarAttack - A parent's dread: Sending them back to school

"Is today the day I shall send my kids to school and regret for the rest of my life?" is the dilemma that parents in Pakistan wake up to each morning now.
The looming shadow of terrorism that hovers over our kids is consuming us, parents, to the point of a nervous breakdown. We are raising our kids in an environment where even the basic right, the harmless act of sending kids to school has become a subject of national debate.
As the extended winter vacations came to an end, parents looked up to the national security policy to ensure their children's safety at schools. The security measures are promising, no doubt, and schools have been vigilantly following the government's instructions in providing security to students.
But, at the same time, terrified citizens also fear repercussions and revenge killings by terrorists in the aftermath of the military's crackdown on terrorism. Such fears are further solidified by threatening video releases, rumours of coffins thrown inside prominent educational institutions and alleged threatening letters received by various school administrators. One may question the validity of such fears, but low attendance rate in schools depict we are losing the psychological warfare.
We have largely been a resilient nation, with an amazing capacity to laugh at life's absurdities and withstand oddities.
We have stood tall with indefatigable smiles in times of political turmoils, economic recessions, natural disasters and social unrest.
Yet, unfortunately, the recent Peshawar tragedy and the perpetual fear of losing our little ones is taking its toll on us.
Pakistan today suffers a deficit of hope.
Media coverage of the latest national tragedy is pathetic and hopeless. On the one hand, it reinforces the horrors of December 16, and on the other, it confuses the nation about the identity of our real enemy.
The coverage of known Taliban apologists who refused to condemn the attacks was simply uncalled for. Sadly, most opinion leaders in Pakistan – usually people of religious credentials and political omniscience – shied away from declaring Taliban as the real enemy.
They instead deliberately misled masses into believing in the wrong enemy, particularly India. With the kind of melodramatic, pessimistic and stagnant media coverage over the APS attacks, one might say that the media still needs to go a long way in order to reclaim professionalism. It is failing to provide masses their much sought after antidotes, hope and reassurance.
The army chief's appearance at the APS was reassuring. Similarly, gestures from the boxer Amir Khan and from our cricket team were much needed. International celebrities, particularly Indians, wrote pieces too, and they made occasional highlights on our media.
Sadly, the absence of our own celebrities at this occasion has been pathetically obvious. It sends the impression that they are either too oblivious or too afraid to speak up.
In every society, there are a few who are looked upon as role models. Their words leave impressions on ordinary minds, their resolve taken up by masses. Pakistani students and parents want to hear words of reassurance from the nation's opinion leaders – those who can stand out and reassure or lead by example that they are not afraid in sending their own kids to school.
Such testimonials by celebrity parents, teachers and students of the APS who have resumed schooling after the attacks is strongly required to uplift the considerably low national morale. The national tragedy has broken us down, but the same can be instrumental in building up our fractured nationalism.
The terrorists have attacked our national psyche. Let us reassert our normalcy and reclaim our lives from terrorism. We have done it earlier, we will do it again.
All we need is a little wind to sail our boats.

Pakistan - A letter to General Raheel Sharif

As far as ordinary Pakistanis are concerned, they do not understand the real difference between military and civilian courts; what they do understand is that terrorism and Pakistan cannot go hand in hand any longer
Dear Sir,

Through this letter, I want to thank you in particular and acknowledge the role of the Pakistani army in general for showing extraordinary resolve against the terrorists who shot down 132 innocent children in Peshawar last month. Your immediate response, with coordinated air strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and prompt execution of the terrorists who have been found guilty by the courts, reassured us that the military has got our backs, a gesture that both calmed us down and lifted our spirits to fight this war in which the enemy follows no rules, shows no sympathy and relies upon pure savagery to spread terror.

Sir, I can affirm that the whole nation stands behind the armed forces today, fully aware that the cost of this war, both in the form of civilian casualties and military sacrifices, can run high. However, we also believe that the dawn of a new and safe Pakistan will eventually set in, liberating us from our fears.

Sir, since you were sworn in as the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS), we find that every organ of the state — political parties, judiciary, bureaucracy and the media — has finally united to take on the existential threat to our nation. And, for the first time, all of them have realised that the terrorists on our soil, like the parasites chewing down their own hosts, act as our enemies and not friends, irrespective of their religion or political ambitions in neighbouring countries. Although we still mourn the death of our children, we celebrate the clarity in thought that may have been the essential ingredient missing to defeat this menace once and for all.

Sir, after passing the 21st Constitutional Amendment, politicians cannot back out from their commitment. Whether they understood the limitations and inefficiencies of the civilian judicial structure, they were convinced it was the right thing to do, or they gave in after a little ‘arm twisting’. Whatever the case may have been; they have still put their trust in you by establishing military courts and agreeing to prosecute criminals through your officers. Sure, this step has irked some liberals but, sir, most members of parliament have supported it nevertheless. As far as ordinary Pakistanis are concerned, they do not understand the real difference between military and civilian courts; what they do understand is that terrorism and Pakistan cannot go hand in hand any longer. One will have to crush another for its own survival. And who do they trust to get the job done? Only you. In the end, through the recent visit of John Kerry, the US Secretary of State to Pakistan and by releasing the funds for internally displaced persons (IDPs), the US too has pledged its support in your favour. From a practical standpoint in the current circumstances, you cannot ask for better support than this. Now, sir, with all the power accumulated in your hands through military courts, political backing, public sympathy and US assistance, let us be clear that there is absolutely no room left for failure.

As always, sir, through an organised campaign, we are being fed conspiracy theories yet again, theories that almost exonerate the Taliban from incidents like the Peshawar massacre and put the major blame on India and other countries. It may very well be true but, even if it is true, we still have to consider it as the failure of our leading spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), for its inability to uncover the plot and catch miscreants before they had executed their plan. Yes sir, I agree that the CIA, RAW, MI 6 and French intelligence, all of them failed to pre-empt such an attack on their soil. But, each one of them only failed once. We, on the other hand, have failed on numerous occasions, including but not limited to the GHQ attack, assault on Karachi airport, Wagha border massacre and raids on the PNS Mehran. The time for such excuses like foreign involvement and international agenda has passed sir. We do not want unfounded theories, cooked-up explanations or unnecessary blame games. Now, we want results.

Sir, if some of the terrorists get illegal financing, even then I have to say it still falls in your domain. The agencies need to track down the money trail and block the process while prosecuting the culprits in military courts. Non-military institutions, for reasons well known to you, neither have the capacity nor the understanding to handle these complex issues. Notwithstanding its ineptitude, the ISI, with its experience in dealing with such matters, should detect and prevent such instances at all costs. If it needs assistance, you know it can be obtained in a heartbeat. However, in case of its failure to stop such funding, we must not blame the powerless and unskillful civilian institutions.

You must know that terrorism is not the only war we need to win. Our struggle has to be directed towards extremism and sectarianism too. And without taking action against sectarian organisations, neither can we win the war against terror nor can we attain durable peace. That action is the litmus test sir; we have to evaluate our army’s capability and resolve based on its success against banned outfits like Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT).

In the end, I am writing this letter to you instead of the prime minister of Pakistan because I want to set the record straight: the ultimate responsibility for the outcome of this war, whether we win it or lose, lies in the hands of the Pakistan army. We cannot blame the civilian leadership for their alleged incapacity or dishonesty anymore. In case of failure, we must realise that this is not Kargil. We cannot afford another scapegoat for sacrifice. The people of Pakistan have done their job; it is time for you to do yours.

Thank you,

Concerned citizens

Pakistan - Country left with petrol stock enough for only three days

People of Punjab, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and federal capital may face another round of petrol crisis during next week

Hit hard during the last few days due petrol scarcity, the masses may face another petrol crisis during the next week as the country is left with limited stock of petrol that can meet the demands of only three days, officials said.

A copy of report on available petrol stock in the country with Daily Times discloses that available petrol stock can meet the demands of only three days. And, as result to this people from Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and federal capital may face another petrol shortage during the next week. The report said that only 51,000metric tones of petrol stock is available in the stocks all over the country as Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) have a reserve of 42,000 MT, while only 7,000 MT of petrol stock is left with country’s oil refineries.

Also, OMCs, on the advice of petroleum ministry, are supplying 15,000 tonnes of petrol on daily basis to the petrol pumps across the country, while usual supply of petrol remained 12,000MT per day before the shortage. “At the moment Askar (oil marketing company) has zero litre stock of petrol,” the report said. An official at the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources on the condition of anonymity said that Askar could not build petrol storage despite the fact that the company was granted Oil Marketing Company License on July 4, 2005.

It is important to note here that Pakistan State Oil (PSO) on the morning of January 22 (Thursday) had petrol stock of only 22546 ton, Shell with 10100ton, Caltex with 6815ton, Hascol with 9400 ton, APL (Attock Petroleum Limited) with 5660 ton, Total Parco with 3449 ton, while Byco with a stock of 158ton and Overseas Oil Trading Company (Pvt.) Ltd (OOTCL) was left with 82 tons of petrol reserves. Furthermore, Attock Refinery is left with a stock of 1954 ton, National Refinery with 1156 ton, Pakistan Refinery with 1273 ton, PARCO with 2498 ton and Byco refinery had only 503 ton of petrol reserves.

Officials at the petroleum ministry said that vessels carrying 70,000 ton of two cargos of PSO and Hascol will reach Karachi port on January 26. Petrol of these two cargos will reach crisis-hit areas, especially Punjab, on January 31 to meet the petrol needs, they added. The Prime Minister in a meeting held here to review petroleum matters on Thursday said that all concerned ministries should ensure seamless coordination to ensure steady supply of petrol to all parts of the country.


By Nasir Chaudhry
The policy of using proxies has produced the Peshawar massacre. It has failed miserably. Pakistan will continue to remain a nation at war and will decline into further chaos and bloodshed if we don’t correct the course and commit to eradicating not just the terror challenge but the last terrorist.
“Mr Minister, very soon, these very Taliban will become your proverbial blanket, you would like to remove the blanket but you would not be able to do so.” the Italian Ambassador to Pakistan said to Sartaj Aziz, then foreign minister, at a tense meeting in Islamabad’s foreign office, as told to me by an ex career diplomat who was taking minutes. The ambassador was furious over the cold blooded murder of Italian humanitarian workers in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s failure to intervene. Mr Aziz’s response was muted but leaving the meeting, he told the diplomat politely, “don’t add the last bit in the minutes.”
For a start, the whole country rejoiced to Honey Singh and booze that flowed freely over the New Year rather than remember Peshawar. We might well be, justifiably, the chosen one’s for a damning indictment by history. The Peshawar massacre will forever remain one of the most despicable acts in human history. There really are no words to describe it. It made the world shudder, grief stricken and shed tears. Faith in humanity vaporised but restored as the world united in pain and remembrance. Cast, creed, beliefs and in the case of India and Pakistan, a bitter (foolish) enmity, set aside for the victims. I did shout it on the face of many that the Kafirs, Hindus and Yahudis were at the forefront of condemnation instead of brothers from the Ummah. But amidst the death, blood and feebleness of those young innocent victims, which numbs the mind and senses when it comes to imagination, the sobbing of parents, Pakistan and Pakistanis must introspect. Now is the time, this very moment.
We are all not responsible for Peshawar. A majority of us are and being in majority they must now have the courage to accept their folly and utter foolishness over pursuing policies that led to the killing of our children. First, the security establishment, which must now man up and take this dark chapter in their stride with the same enthusiasm that has been shown to generations for a manufactured ideology of Pan Islamism and Muslim renaissance with Pakistan acting as its citadel. They did not budge after losing 60,000 Pakistanis and countless more impaired for life, they did not budge after losing billions of dollars to the economy, they did not budge when they bombed places of worship, they did not budge when the shrines of our saints and sages were bombed, they did not budge when they played football with the heads of their own but they relented and only gave in after a tragedy that has no parlance in modern history. They had too. But this could have been averted had all those ghastly crimes mentioned above were taken as serious indicators of what was coming. The snakes that Pakistan’s security establishment has well fed over decades are out in the open. As you sow, so shall you reap.
Second; to the mullah, mosque and madrassas. Pakistan’s most ill-informed and virulent do not need airtime. Their weapon is more potent and lethal. The loudspeaker is deliberately abused to nauseating sermons that spill hatred and venom, nothing remotely Islam, that noble religion. Everything western is haram (barring the very sound system that he is using), the Ummah is under siege, the destruction of Pakistan is central to the evil conspiracies of the Yahood o Hanood, family planning, jeans, underwear and even the toilet flush inventions of the west that are a bare attempt at rendering the martial Muslim impotent. Why then do Amil Bengali Babas thrive the most in our countryside and a more lucrative market in the west has eluded them? The confederacy of the mullah, mosque andmaddrassa (a majority) breed on the illiteracy and abject poverty that stalks our villages and towns and wins more recruits with the promise of the virgins of heaven. They are responsible for Peshawar too.
Third; our politicians, a commodity fast dwindling like many fine things in the country. Nawabzada Nasrullah, Nawab Akbar Bugti, Ajmal Khattak, Wali Khan on the one side to those who have come to replace them, lesser mortals surely. Waxing sonnets of civilian supremacy, democratic transfer of power, omnipotence of the parliament lend themselves to a sad melody with Musharraf’s trail, a rap on the knuckles for the Indian and Afghan policies and finally the establishment of military courts. The PPP may have sunk to new lows, beating their own abysmal governance records but credit where due, they have challenged the Taliban, as have the ANP and MQM. Both PML-N and PTI have been instrumental until recently to break away from the ‘talk to them first mode.’ PML-N in particular has looked the other way as militancy has gained foothold in Punjab while PTI failed to communicate the essence of its peace message and added confusion to the issue by messing up drones, high value targets with sovereignty, the nation’s ghairat and Iqbal’s poetry.
The silver lining has been the judiciary. For much of the flak that it has received, to me, is unjustified. Pakistan has the highest number of convicts on death row, they are where they are because of some brave people who have had the courage to take them on and discharge their duties with honesty. It was not for the judges to decide if there should be a moratorium on hangings but for the government. The judges did their job, the politicians did not.
The policy of using proxies has produced the Peshawar massacre. It has failed miserably. Pakistan will continue to remain a nation at war and will decline into further chaos and bloodshed if we don’t correct the course and commit to eradicating not just the terror challenge but the last terrorist. No terrorist is good or bad, they are all bad. They must be held accountable for their crimes.
Let the promise of my country be not the Jaishes and Lashkars but its enterprising, dynamic, bright young people who form the majority of the population and hold great potential. Not only are they poised too but will be the catalyst for change. For that day to arrive, they and their dreams must be allowed to live.
PS – Raheel Sharif is all but the Chief Executive. Minus Barack Obama, he met everyone who matters in the US. John Kerry met him on a national holiday and visited the GHQ on the sidelines of the strategic dialogue. The same holds true on his present visit to the UK. An unprecedented visit to 10 Downing Street in uniform laying bare western ‘sensitivities’ about democracy and it’s orphan counterpart in Pakistan. Should Prime Minister Sharif continue in office? Is he really in charge? The west knows who to deal with and the ‘guy who’s in charge.’ Another moment of truth! But let’s hope Gen Sharif means what he says and take him on his word.

Will never forget tragic images of Peshawar carnage: Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that terrorist attacks such as the one on the Army Public School in Peshawar can never be excused.

Speaking against a backdrop of deadly militant attacks in France, Pakistan, Nigeria and elsewhere, Kerry told leaders at the annual World Economic Forum: "These kinds of actions can never be excused. And they have to be opposed. With every fiber of our being, they have to be stopped."
“We have to take risks, we have to invest more resources,” he said.
He said that he would never be able to forget the tragic images of the carnage in Peshawar that were shown to him by officials during his latest visit to Pakistan.
Countries must devote more resources to fight global extremism, said Kerry, but the battle would falter if it becomes consumed by sectarian division or Islamophobia.
Shortly before, President Francois Hollande of France, which is still reeling from the killing of 17 people by gunmen in Paris two weeks ago, urged global business leaders to help fight terrorism by cracking down on money laundering and trafficking.
Kerry also announced he would travel on Sunday to Nigeria, Africa´s most populous country battered by a Boko Haram insurgency that has killed thousands of people.
Kerry described Islamic State militants, who have seized wide swathes of Iraq and Syria, as "a collection of monsters.

"There´s no room for sectarian division, there´s no room for anti-Semitism or Islamophobia."

Facing Obama push to talk to Pakistan, New Delhi sees ‘Lashkar ban’ as bait

President Barack Obama is likely to ask India to resume high-level dialogue with Pakistan during his upcoming summit meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, highly-placed government sources have told The Indian Express. The push will come midst media reports that the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s parent organisation, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, has been banned—a demand pressed by United States Secretary of State John Kerry during a recent visit to Islamabad.

There was no official confirmation of the ban, however. Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said on Thursday that the Jamaat’s bank accounts had been frozen, and foreign travel restrictions placed on its chief, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. Later, however, the Foreign Office clarified that Aslam had been referring to actions taken in 2008.

Karachi-based newspaper The Dawn was among several that reported Thursday that the Jamaat had been placed on a list of banned organisations, along with the Afghanistan-focussed Haqqani Network, but that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government was showing “reluctance to announce the curb in an official capacity”.

Local journalists The Indian Express spoke to, however, said the Jamaat’s offices in both Lahore and Karachi were open, with visitors streaming in and out. The organisation’s website was also online late on Thursday, carrying announcements for a rally scheduled for Sunday to protest what it described as blasphemous attacks on the Prophet Muhammad. The Jamaat itself said it expected to continue to report

New Delhi offered no response to the developments in Pakistan, but said they expected President Obama would provide clarity on the Pakistan army’s intentions and objectives. “Let’s wait until we know what, if anything, has actually happened”, one home ministry official said. “We’ve learned the hard way to beware of poisoned bait”, he added.

President Obama, government sources say, had pushed Prime Minister Modi to reopen dialogue with Pakistan during their summit meeting in September. Foreign Secretary-level had been called off after Pakistan’s High Commissioner in New Delhi, Abdul Basit, met with leaders of the secessionist All Parties Hurriyat Conference. The United States, the sources said, argued Pakistan’s military offensive against terrorists in North Waziristan demonstrated its military had reversed its long-standing alliance with jihadists.
In response, the sources said, Prime Minister Modi said he was not unwilling to talk to Pakistan, but needed tangible evidence of the country’s will to act against terrorism—for example, the extradition of top Lashkar military commander Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi to stand trial in a third country where he is wanted for crimes, like the United States.

Following the Prime Minister’s return to New Delhi, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had held consultations with key officials on the conditions under which a dialogue with Pakistan might resume. The initiative, however, unravelled as skirmishes erupted along the Line of Control in Kashmir.

However, intelligence officials said they were intrigued by the timing to the leaks on a Lashkar ban. “There was very little infiltration before the elections in Kashmir”, a senior Indian intelligence official said, “and cross-border activity is at about the same level as last winter, perhaps even a bit lower. I’m guessing that these leaks are the Pakistan army’s way of saying it wants to do business with India, and it’ll be interesting to see what they’ve conveyed to the United States”. Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province and Prime Minister Sharif’s brother, had earlier this week met with top Jamaat leaders early this week to reassure them that no ban was being contemplated against the organisation. The meeting followed testimony to a senate committee by Interior Ministry additional secretary Mohammad Asghar Chaudhry that the Jamaat and Haqqani Network were “under observation”. Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain earlier said the Jamaat had no link to terrorism. “I’m guessing these leaks about the ban are meant to tell the United States that while the military is willing to act against the Jamaat, the political establishment isn’t willing”, said author and analyst Ayesha Siddiqa, an expert on the Pakistan army. 

“The reality may be that that the army doesn’t want to act against powerful jihadist groups who aren’t challenging its authority, and is using the politicians as a scapegoat”. “The sensible course for the Indian government”, said Sushant Sareen, an expert at the Vivekananda International Foundation, “is to wait and watch for concrete action. Personally, I’m guessing it is going to have to wait a while”. 

Few results have emerged from past Pakistani promises of action against the Jamaat and its affiliates. Following the imposition of sanctions against the Lashkar-e-Taiba by the United Nations Security Council on December 10, 2008, Pakistan’s then-Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Abdullah Haroon, promised that his government would “proscribe the JUD and take other consequential actions, as required, including the freezing of assets”. Jamaat offices across the country were indeed shut down—but reopened within weeks. Saeed himself was held under a public order law, but was set free after the Lahore High Court proved unmoved by evidence presented in closed court of his alleged links with al-Qaeda. Indeed, it remains unclear if the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Aslam’s comments referred to the asset freeze declared in 2008—and never formally removed—or to a fresh set of actions. The asset freeze, notably, had no impact on the Jamaat’s activities, which are mainly conducted in cash. Its sprawling campus at Muridke, moreover, recieved official subsidies after 2008, since its bank accounts were inoperational. 

Budget documents for 2013-2014 show the Punjab government received a grant in aid of Rs. 61.35 million. Finance Minsiter Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman also announced his government intended to set up an Rs. 350 million knowledge park in Muridke. Pakistan also took little action against key Lashkar commanders. It said it was unable to locate Muzammil Bhat, who trained and directed the terrorists who carried out the 26/11 attacks. In 2009, though, Canadian journalists Adnan Khan located  Bhat openly training Lashkar cadre near Muzaffarabad. Facing intense pressure from the United States, Musharraf banned the Lashkar in January, 2002, under the new Anti-Terrorism Act. Top leaders, including Saeed, were placed under house arrest, and the organisation’s bank accounts were shut down. Inside weeks, though, Saeed and other jihadist leaders were released, with local courts saying there was no evidence of their involvement in terrorism. Importantly, Musharraf’s ban did not apply to the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, including Azad Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan, nor the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas and the province now called Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. 

Thus, the Lashkar remained in operation out of these areas through the ban. However, Musharraf did secure a deesclation of violence on the Indian side of the Line of Control, by slowly choking back infiltration—leading to a more than decade long scaling back of violence in the state.

 - See more at:

Pakistan should stop treating terror as a state policy

 India on Friday said Pakistan should "stop treating terror as a state policy" and ensure that all terror groups are considered as "pariah" in its own land if it was serious in its war against terrorism.
Noting that there is "great disillusionment" in its way of treating terror, Union Minister General (retd.) V K Singh said that there was always a "question mark" on Pakistan's internal or intelligence policies.
"As somebody looking at Pakistan in terms of seriously getting after terror groups, first thing that Pakistan has to do is to ensure that all terror group is treated as a 'pariah' in their own country. Then not only will Pakistan benefit, the the rest of the world will benefit as well," Singh said during the India Today Global Roundtable here.
Answering a question about the Pakistani authorities claiming that the differentiation between "good Taliban" and "bad Taliban" does not exist and they would ban all terror groups, the minister said every time a terror group was banned, it morphed into something else and even Jamaat-Ud-Dawa has had government support.
"The first thing which should happen...Stop treating terror as a state policy. Somewhere, one finds terror is being used as a tool to further certain state objectives whether it is fanning trouble in Jammu and Kashmir... We found the way things increased when the elections came up and yet we had 65 per cent voting. This realisation must come," Singh said.
He said that things will change once Pakistani official establishment along with the army and people in decision making get after terror groups and make it visible in such a way that people realise their government is serious.
He said that India, as a policy, seeks good relations with all its neighbours and has made it clear to Pakistan that till the time the atmosphere is not conducive, one cannot talk and improve relationship.
Noting that entire India stood up to condemn the recent Peshawar attack, Singh said that while on one hand Pakistan condemns some terror outfits, it supports others which is why we see Hafiz Saeed free.
"Where Pakistan's policies are concerned...Internal, intelligence or otherwise, they always have a question mark. You condemn and get after terror groups but there are certain terror groups you still support.
"You say we will ensure that terror groups do not survive, yet Hafiz Saeed gets a reprieve. There is a great disillusionment when you look at Pakistan's way of treating terror," Singh said.

Fix the Link to Pakistan, Bond With India

President Obama, who is visiting India this weekend, and India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, have both described their countries as natural partners. That may be true. But they cannot achieve a deep and strategic partnership until the United States deals more forthrightly with Pakistan, New Delhi’s neighbor and nemesis.
In other words, Washington must do more to address India’s anxieties about Pakistan. But there is a conundrum. Washington should also not harm its delicate and distrustful relationship with Islamabad.
Yes, Pakistan harbors jihadist groups that threaten and kill Americans. But it also sits astride the Middle East and Asia, boasts a large and young population, and enjoys deep friendships with China and Saudi Arabia. Diplomatic wisdom argues for staying on the good side of such a strategically significant state.
In effect, Washington needs to execute a delicate dance: Push back against Pakistan in order to further America’s friendship with India, while taking care not to alienate the Pakistanis.
A neat trick? Perhaps. But it can be done.
First, America should stop giving free passes to the Pakistani military, which receives billions of dollars’ worth of aid even as it sponsors militant groups that murder Indians. An American law requires that the government, before releasing security assistance, certify that Pakistan’s armed forces have acted to stop Pakistan-based militants, including anti-India groups. But in recent years, the Obama administration has invoked national security waivers that bypass the certification process. That should stop.
Insisting on certification would show India that the White House holds Pakistan’s military to some account. And Pakistan would probably pass. Last year it launched a counterterrorism offensive in North Waziristan, and this month it pledged to ban several militant groups operating on its soil; together, those actions would probably allow Pakistan to attain certification today, as it last did in 2011. Second, Washington should help India guard against Pakistan-based terrorism. It should go beyond placing bounties on top militant leaders, as it does now, but stop well short of staging raids into Pakistan to seize them for transfer to India. It should instead deepen its sharing of intelligence technology with New Delhi to forestall attacks. Encouragingly, Mr. Obama’s visit has been preceded by speculation about a deal involving surveillance drones.
Washington should also target overseas financial holdings of Pakistanis who threaten India. One of India’s most wanted men, Dawood Ibrahim, is an organized crime boss frequently seen in Karachi. According to the United Nations, he funds the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which attacked Mumbai in 2008. He is believed to hold assets in Dubai. Washington should work with officials in the Persian Gulf to freeze those assets.

Third, the United States should try to steer Pakistan’s short-term focus away from Kashmir and toward normalizing trade relations with India. Trade negotiations have progressed in recent years, and Mr. Modi advocates using commercial diplomacy to improve relations with neighbors. And India would be relieved to hear less about Kashmir, an issue that is nowhere near resolution.
Of course, it would be a tough sell for Washington to persuade Pakistan that the economic benefits of trade with India would far outweigh any benefit possible from dwelling on Kashmir. But there may be no better time to try, given the relatively relaxed current state of American-Pakistani relations. Still, any efforts to reassure India must be accompanied by nuanced American diplomacy, so as not to feed into the “America and the world are out to get us” narrative that permeates Pakistan.
The United States should acknowledge Pakistan’s neuroses about India — a nation perhaps seven times as populous and four times as large, with an army twice as big and governed by a Hindu nationalist party known for anti-Pakistan views. Americans should also take into account the Pakistani contention (rejected by New Delhi) that India engages in subversive activities in Pakistan (specifically, that it aids a separatist insurgency in Baluchistan province). Pakistanis have not forgotten India’s support for the secession of East Pakistan — now Bangladesh — in 1971.
Of course, any American plan that intensifies support to India is likely to upset many Pakistanis, whose government has long demanded to be treated as India’s equal. And any plan that aims not to offend Pakistan would have detractors in India.
Realistically, the United States is in no position to allay all of India’s fears about Pakistan — in particular, Pakistan’s rapidly increasing nuclear weapons stockpile. It also can’t end the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment’s insistence on treating anti-India militants as useful proxies. And it won’t succeed at coaxing Pakistan away from policies that are driven by its belief, whether manufactured or real, that India poses a direct threat. Washington should, however, press states that enjoy more leverage with Pakistan — China, for example — to impress upon Islamabad the need to rethink its bellicose posture. China needs stability nearby, and its voice would resonate in Islamabad.
None of these potential limitations should deter Americans from trying this strategy. In fact, there are compelling reasons to push forward. With its combat troops out of Afghanistan, America can relax its fixation on pursuing deep relations with Pakistan, even while taking care not to spoil the relationship, and feel freer to engage India more. Its refocusing toward Asia, which envisions India as a counterbalance to China, should have a similar effect.
So helping New Delhi address its fears of Pakistan while engaging in damage control with Islamabad would be a logical and timely policy — a worthy goal for President Obama.