Tuesday, May 23, 2017

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Video Report - Sir Roger Moore Emotional Tributes Around The World

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China - Is The New York Times writing Chinese spy novels now?

By Curtis Stone 

On March 20, The New York Times reported that the Chinese government systematicallydismantled CIA spying operations in the countrykilling or imprisoning more than a dozenCIA sourcesBut at least one part of the report is falseand many Chinese are upset.
Xiakedaoa social media account run by the overseas edition of the Peoples Dailyresponded by wondering if the authors read Spy Games one too many timesbecause thereport reads like it has been ripped from the pages of the fiction spy novel.
According to The Times’ reportChinas national security organ “killed or imprisoned” about a dozen CIA “informants,” one of which was allegedly shot on the spot in front ofcolleagues in the courtyard of a government buildingThe story seems farfetched to saythe least.
As the report by Xiakedao explainsChinas national security organ is part of normal stateorgansThough Chinas national security forces exercise special powers to fulfill their dutyto protect the nations security and intereststhey must nonetheless comply with legalproceduresIn Chinaonly the Supreme Peoples Court has the power to deprive people oflifeCasually shooting suspected spies dead on the streetThis only happens in JamesBond 007 spy movies.
Xiakedao called this blockbuster-style approach to news reporting unreasonableUsingcommon senseone can see that the activities of Chinas national security forces areundertaken in accordance with the law and that the national security organ is notuntethered or rogueBut rather than investigate who was behind the U.Sspy network orwho their handlers were in BeijingThe Times wrote a story that rivals the best of Westernspy novelscreating confusion for those who seek to understand the situation.
Many netizens on Weibo reacted in anger at the reportAs one Weibo user commentedThe New York Timesin the absence of any evidenceblatantly accused China of “killing” U.SagentsHe called the report an “extremely sinister” way to provoke Americanresentment and hatred against China and added that China must not be indifferent orsilent. “The irresponsible American media should be condemned for grandstanding andmaking trouble out of nothing,” he wrote.
Chinese remain convinced that the sensationalized report is a figment of the authors’ imaginationand that common sense is needed to understand ChinaShot on the spotSounds like something one of the associates would do to stop China from crippling theoperationsuggested the report by Xiakedao.

The Baneful Apocalyptic Triad of USA, Israel and Saudi Arabia

Trump effectively blessed Saudi Arabia as a pillar of moderate Islam as part of his “Muslim reset”.

One Arab writer even hailed Saudi-US ties as one that “shaped the wider world” and although the wider world would undeniably agree with that reality, it would nevertheless consign such ties to the very negative end of the global affairs spectrum.
The Israeli press celebrated Trump’s royal treatment in Riyadh and observed how the president and select members of his cabinet danced with swords in a ceremony that must have nauseated the families of 9/11 victims.  Syrians, Yemenis and Christian minorities worldwide would have also watched that macabre spectacle with a foreboding sense of horror. 
Just about every symbolism linking Saudi Arabia and Israel was explored and publicized by the latter’s media, including a historic “first direct flight” from Riyadh to Jerusalem – reflecting the correct order of priority, both domestic and foreign, facing any US presidency!
One wonders when these two Middle Eastern lovers would emerge from the closet to announce a union, albeit a temporary one, to jointly exercise “regional peace” under Washington’s patronage.
Shadow Plays and Iran
Saudi Arabia remains the prima inter pares of the Washington-Riyadh-Jerusalem triad. This was underscored by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who secretly begged Trump not to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. There are good monetary reasons for such shadow play. According to US investigative journalist Robert Parry, Saudi Araba provides billions of dollars for Israeli West Bank settlement construction in return for secret Israeli security cooperation.
Two primary issues currently preoccupy the triad. The first concerns the amount of wool needed to be pulled over the eyes of a historically corrupt Palestinian leadership as well as the Islamic world. This should nevertheless be a cinch sans any tectonic shocks to an admittedly fragile global system.
The second, far more vexatious issue concerns neutralizing Iran. While other major Middle Eastern oil producers have been devastated by post-9/11 invasions, regime changes and “civil wars” which render them prostrate before Saudi diktats, Iran continues to provide oil in significant quantities to an energy-hungry Asia. Without complete control over the Middle Eastern oil spigot, the triad cannot extract geopolitical concessions out of Asia which is rapidly weening itself away from fossil fuel dependency.
India is paving the way here. Sensing geo-economic insecurity on the horizon, it intends to become a “100 per cent electric vehicle nation” by 2030, backed by developments in its space program and a fast-growing native nuclear industry. The message is clear: Asia will not hedge its future on any Washington-brokered Middle Eastern “peace process” that is bound to fail.
A Doomed Religious Triad
Washington’s much-fantasized New World Order cannot be forged without neutralizing major oil producers such as Iran, Russia and Venezuela. Furthermore, any NWO requires a religious leap of faith. But how are the modern flag-bearers of three ancient, mutually-hostile religious ideologies going to resolve that?
Perhaps, the answer can be found in common apocalyptic undercurrents within the triad.
American evangelicals and “Messianic Christians” (who mimic Jewish forms of worship) had for the past five years eagerly awaited the destruction of Damascus as recorded in Isaiah 17:1. The cruelties perpetrated on Christian women and children from Damascus to Mosul did not trigger intercessory prayers from American evangelicals or their offspring worldwide. Instead, there was rapture-like rejoicing! The Christian teaching of repentance leading to vastly difference prophetic outcomes, including for Syria as recorded in Isaiah 19: 23-25, is routinely ignored by the Ayatollahs of the American religion.
One needs to study the heretical roots of American Christianity to realize why it hardly preaches or takes cognizance of the Ninth Commandment which reads “Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness”! Presenting false evidence annually at the United Nations to contravene other great commandments – namely Thou Shall Not Kill and Thou Shall Not Steal/Covet – never registers as “national sin” in the rabid evangelical psyche.
While Trump was hailed as Cyrus-incarnate by his Judas priests, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Cyrus-like role in protecting his Christian minority went unacknowledged. Christians should revisit the following verse “I will bless those who bless you” (Genesis 12:3) and contemplate contemporary American reality. Instead of divine blessing, the US is reaping curse after national curse with its children plumbing new nadirs like trading sex for food.
The Assad government, facing a US-Saudi-facilitated international terrorist invasion from 90-odd nations, is being blessed with victory despite the triad’s efforts to reduce Syria into a pile of rubble. Russia, which has upheld Christian principles and precepts, remains remarkably resilient in the face of US-led Western sanctions. As a result, even Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov admits that Muslims fare better in Russia than anywhere else.
American evangelicals however frequently mistake “bloodletting” for “blessing.” Their cultic racket thrives as the religious arm of US foreign policy.
This resonates with the apocalyptic narrative of radical Islam; one where another Syrian landmark, namely the obscure town of Dabiq, plays a defining end-times role. Many (largely non-Arab) Islamists harbour hopes that a future Pakistani army may form the nucleus of a horde that will annihilate infidels from Khorasan to Jerusalem. The Muslim NATO being created by Saudi Arabia with US blessings has a Pakistani commander to underscore this popular doomsday narrative. Not surprisingly, the Saudis picked the Jewish firm of Burson-Marsteller to handle the public relations end of business.
Israel remains the ultimate eschatological raison d'être of any Muslim NATO. It cannot annul the prophecies of Islam but it can placate the Saudis by continually attacking Syria. Israeli Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant, whose ministry is the suspected recipient of Saudi largesse, even went as far as advocating the assassination of Assad just before Trump’s visit to Riyadh.
Pressure to attack Iran – which has the economic backing of Russia, India and China – can be delayed indefinitely by raining gradual misery on Syria. In any case, the downfall of Iran means the automatic ascension of Israel as the primary bogeyman of global jihad. Maybe, the Israeli deep state is expecting help from Saudi clerics to stoke the diversionary fires of Ghazwa-e-Hind – an event now interpreted as an apocalyptic showdown between Pakistan and India, although it has no basis in established Muslim traditions. Can Israel get Pakistan on-board via a Saudi shadow play?  
As long as Israel remains focused on playing up the Syrian and Iranian bogeyman, the Saudi-led bloc of “moderate Islam” may even grant some tactical, indirect imprimatur for the construction of the Third Temple for “all of humanity.” This scatter-brained hope is shared by a surprisingly motley lot, including Turkish sex cult guru Adnan Octar.
But what happens to the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of Rock which currently stand in the way? As soon as they are razed or when the first Temple brick is laid down, “moderate” Arabs will revoke all prior tacit acquiescence. Perhaps, this is when the United States steps in to execute the greatest betrayal in modern history…

Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?

The lack of a coherent anti-terrorism strategy in Washington and by extension the West, as emergency services deal with the devastating aftermath of yet another terrorist atrocity in Europe – this time a suicide bomb attack at a concert in Manchester, England - has been thrown into sharp relief during President Trump’s tour of the Middle East.
Specifically, on what planet can Iran be credibly accused of funding and supporting terrorism while Saudi Arabia is considered a viable partner in the fight against terrorism? This is precisely the narrative we are being invited to embrace by President Trump in what counts as a retreat from reality into the realms of fantasy, undertaken in service not to security but commerce.
Indeed those still struggling to understand why countries such as the US, UK, and France consistently seek to legitimise a Saudi regime that is underpinned by the medieval religious doctrine of Wahhabism, which is near indistinguishable from the medieval religious extremism and fanaticism of Daesh and Nusra in Syria - those people need look no further than the economic relations each of those countries enjoy with Riyadh.
The announcement that Washington has just sealed a mammoth deal with its Saudi ally on arms sales – worth $110 billion immediately and $350 billion over 10 years – is all the incentive the US political and media establishment requires to look the other way when it comes to the public beheadings, crucifixions, eye gouging, and other cruel and barbaric punishments meted out in the Kingdom on a regular basis.
The sheer unreality of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, as he stood shoulder to shoulder with President Trump during the latter’s state visit to the country recently, lamenting the chaos and carnage in Syria, which he described as having been “one of the most advanced countries” prior to a conflict that has wrought so much death and destruction, the sheer unreality of this is off the scale – and especially so considering the role the Saudis have played in providing material, financial, and ideological and religious support to groups engaged in the very carnage in Syria as has just been unleashed in Manchester.
There are times when the truth is not enough, when only the unvarnished truth will do, and in the wake of the Manchester attack – in which at time of writing 22 people have been killed and 60 injured - we cannot avoid the conclusion that neither principle nor rationality is driving Western foreign policy in the Middle East, or as it pertains to terrorism.
Instead it is being driven by unalloyed hypocrisy, to the extent that when such carnage occurs in Syria, as it has unremittingly over the past 6 years, the perpetrators are still described in some quarters as rebels and freedom fighters, yet when it takes place in Manchester or Paris or Brussels, etc., they are depicted as terrorists. Neither is it credible to continue to demonize governments that are in the front line against this terrorist menace – i.e. Iran, Russia, Syria – while courting and genuflecting at the feet of governments that are exacerbating it – i.e. Saudi Arabia, previously mentioned, along with Qatar, Kuwait, and Turkey. Here, too, mention must be made of the brutal and ongoing injustice meted out to the Palestinians by an Israeli government that shares with the Saudis a doctrine of religious exceptionalism and supremacy, one that is inimical to peace or the security of its own people.
Ultimately a choice has to be made between security and stability or economic and geopolitical advantage, with the flag of democracy and human rights losing its lustre in recent years precisely because the wrong choice has been made – in other words a Faustian pact with opportunism.
As the smoke clears, both literally and figuratively, from yet another terrorist atrocity, we are forced to consider how we arrived at this point. And when we do we cannot but understand the role of Western extremism in giving birth to and nourishing Salafi-jihadi extremism. Moreover, in the midst of the understandable and eminently justifiable grief we feel at events in Manchester, it behooves us not to forget the salient fact that Muslims have and continue to be the biggest victims of this terrorist menace, unleashed in the name of religious purity andsectarianism, and that it is Muslims who are also doing most to confront and fight it, whether in Syria, Iraq, Libya, or Afghanistan. It should not escape our rendering of the issue either that what each of those countries have in common is that they have all been victims of the Western extremism mentioned earlier.
It bears repeating: you cannot continue to invade, occupy, and subvert Muslim and Arab countries and not expect consequences. And when those consequences amount to the slaughter and maiming of your own citizens, the same tired and shallow platitudes we are ritually regaled with by politicians and leaders intent on bolstering their anti-terrorism and security credentials achieve little except induce nausea.
Enough is enough.

Pashto Ghazal - Hamayoun Angar - 'Bayla Ta Zuwand Na Teregee'

Central Asia's Anxious Watch On The Afghan Border

The view south from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan as spring sets in must be cause for some apprehension. Across the border, the security situation in northern Afghanistan has been sharply deteriorating since 2014.
For the previous decade or more, northern Afghanistan had been a relatively peaceful area -- particularly in the northwest, far from the problems of the Kabul, Kandahar, and Jalalabad regions of Afghanistan. During this more peaceful time, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan implemented projects -- bridges, railways -- to better connect them to their southern neighbor.
There was fighting throughout this last winter in the Afghan provinces bordering Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, and the usual Taliban spring offensive is expected soon. If you listen to some Afghan officials, and others, it's not only the Taliban who are a threat in northern Afghanistan now.
There are some militant groups that include Central Asian nationals.
There is also a pro-Islamic State (IS) radio station calling itself Sedai Khelafat, mobile and with very limited range, which now broadcasts in northern Afghanistan, often in the Tajik and Uzbek languages.
And this year, there are also creeping suspicions among some in Afghanistan that the governments in Turkmenistan and Tajikistan are dealing with people in Afghanistan whom the Afghan government considers the enemy.
It's a chaotic situation that promises to become much worse very soon, all the more so since some of the Central Asian militants who went to join IS or other militant groups in Syria and Iraq are reportedly making their way back from inevitable defeats there to Afghanistan.
So with spring coming, Qishloq Ovozi takes a look at what has been happening recently in the northern Afghan provinces that border Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
There is violence in Balkh Province (which borders Uzbekistan), the Taliban attack on the German Consulate in November being one example. But in Balkh, the violence is either lower than in the three provinces to the east and four to the west, or bloodshed receives less media coverage. In any case, it is not part of this review.
The situations in Bahglan, Samandar, and Sari Pul, which are just south of Takhar, Kunduz, Balkh, and Jowzjan, and east of Faryab, are arguably worse than in those provinces bordering Central Asia. But since they are not on the frontier with Central Asia, they are also excluded from this review.
The View South From Turkmenistan
The length of the Turkmen-Afghan border is 744 kilometers, although, as is the case with the Tajik-Afghan border, there are other figures for this frontier.
The Amu Darya River forms about the first 100 kilometers of the eastern Turkmen-Afghan border before turning sharply north, heading toward the Aral Sea.
From there, the Turkmen-Afghan border dips toward the southwest through relatively flat, sandy land, much of which is in or on the edges of the Gara-Gum (Kara-Kum) Desert. One more river -- the Murghab -- forms some 16 kilometers of Turkmenistan's border with Afghanistan's Badghis Province.
The Afghan provinces that border Turkmenistan are, from east to west: Jowzjan, Faryab, Badghis, and Herat.
This area was arguably the most peaceful part of Afghanistan for more than a decade after the U.S.-led military operation started in late 2001.
The situation started to change in spring 2013, when hundreds of Taliban militants fought a weeklong battle with government forces in the Qaysar district of Faryab Province.
A small number of militants from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) had already started arriving in northwestern Afghanistan to help train local Taliban fighters, including teaching them how to make improvised explosive devices.
Pakistan's military operation in North Waziristan in summer 2014 pushed a large group of IMU fighters and their families (hundreds of them at least) into Afghanistan with many making their way to the northwestern provinces bordering Turkmenistan. Violence increased noticeably across northern Afghanistan after their arrival.
In late 2015, another group of IMU fighters arrived in Herat Province. This group was reportedly sent by IMU leader Usman Ghazi after he declared the group's allegiance to the IS militant group. Their purpose in Herat was to fight alongside a Taliban splinter group that had also declared loyalty to IS, in a battle with a group of "traditional" Taliban fighters.
The traditional Taliban faction eventually crushed their opponents, but some of the pro-IS IMU and Taliban militants escaped into other areas of northwest Afghanistan.
Residents and officials in Jowzjan Province blame IS for burning down some 60 houses in a village in late December and for killing six Afghan employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross in early February.
In late October, Rahmattulah Hashar, the head of Jowzjan's Darzab district, said the "armed people of Daesh [IS]" captured four villages in his district. The Afghan Islamic Press reported IS militants had killed a Taliban commander in Darzab and captured nine Taliban fighters.
In the extremely confusing situation in northwest Afghanistan, it is often difficult to say who exactly the enemy is. Afghan officials have repeatedly said that some militants, especially the foreign militants, alternate between calling themselves Taliban and IS.
Hashar does make a distinction, as he has specifically accused the Taliban of attacks in his district. And the Taliban does have a presence in Darzab district. A spokesman for the Jowzjan governor's office, Mohammad Reza Ghafari, said on February 15 that Taliban fighters abducted 52 farmers in Darzab. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed their capture, saying the farmers were "planting on disputed land" and a Taliban court would decide whether to punish them.
Darzab is in the southern part of Jowzjan Province. The two districts bordering Turkmenistan -- Qarqeen and Khamyab -- where the government exerts at best tenuous control, have been relatively quiet in recent months, possibly due to an offensive that Afghanistan's vice president, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, led in Jowzjan and Faryab provinces in October.
An earlier security operation led by Dostum in October 2015 in the Khamyab district chased militants to an island in the Amu Darya, where the latter encountered border guards from Turkmenistan. The episode ended peacefully for the Turkmen border guards, who instructed the militants to return to the Afghan side of the river. For the militants, it reportedly ended in annihilation once they reached the south bank of the river.
More worrisome for the Turkmen government are events in the Ghormach district of Faryab Province. In mid-September, the Taliban launched an offensive in Faryab's southern Qaysar, Pushtun Kot, Khwaja Sabz, Almar, and Ghormach districts. On October 11, the Taliban captured Ghormach and held it for some 10 days before Dostum's attacks chased them from the district.
More than two years earlier, on May 24, 2014, an armed group crossed from Ghormach into Turkmenistan, killed three Turkmen soldiers, and took their weapons back with them into Afghanistan.
Further complicating the situation, in mid-March, fighting broke out between supporters of two pro-government parties, Jamiat-e Islami and Junbesh-e Melli Islami. At least five people were reported killed. Eight policemen were also wounded when both sides opened fire on them. The same two groups were involved in violence in Faryab in March 2016.
The first militants to cross the Turkmen border did so in February 2014 from the Badghis Province. They killed three Turkmen border guards.
Badghis has not seen the intensity of fighting witnessed in the Faryab and Jowzjan provinces recently, but it has become the second-largest area of opium-poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, according to a 2016 report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
In addition to the problems in Jowzjan, Faryab, and Badghis, the biggest concern for Turkmenistan at the moment just came from Herat. On March 8, an influential mujahedin commander from the days of the Soviet occupation, Ismail Khan, accused the Turkmen government of supplying arms to the Taliban. Khan said he told Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov that "weapons [sent] to Herat are supplied from Turkmenistan." (There has been fighting for weeks in Herat's southern Shindand district.)
Turkmenistan quickly dismissed Khan's accusation as "baseless," but more people in northwest Afghanistan are likely to believe Khan than the Turkmen government.
Turkmenistan is officially a neutral country, a designation granted by the United Nations in 1995. Turkmenistan successfully stayed out of the Afghan conflicts of the 1990s by remaining neutral. The killing of Turkmen troops by militants from Afghanistan raises questions about how much respect fighters in northwest Afghanistan now have for Turkmenistan's neutrality.
The Turkmen government is at least hedging its bets. Since the incidents in 2014, Turkmenistan has significantly increased defense spending, called up reserves, and reportedly deployed some 80 percent of its forces along the frontier with Afghanistan.
The Turkmen government has also pursued an often erratic policy toward the neighboring Afghan provinces, at first making contact with villages across the frontier and offering help with projects for river containment, electricity, and various forms of humanitarian aid, then changing policies and constructing barriers and ditches on the Turkmen side of the border.
Turkmen authorities also once allowed commanders of Afghan paramilitary forces to receive medical treatment in Ashgabat.
Officially, Ashgabat says there are no problems along the Afghan border.
The View South From Tajikistan
The length of the Tajik-Afghan border is unclear. The two most widely used figures for the border length are 1,206 or 1,344 kilometers. But if you drew a straight line from the easternmost point of their common border to the westernmost part, the distance would be about half that. The border zigzags from the east, through the Pamir Mountains until it hits the headwaters of the Pyanj (later Amu Darya) River, after which the meandering river becomes the border.
Most of the Tajik-Afghan border runs through the Pamir Mountains, only the last several hundred kilometers of the western frontier pass through the lowlands.

The Afghan provinces that border Tajikistan are, from east to west, Badakhshan, Takhar, and Kunduz.
In addition to Taliban fighters in these provinces there are also members of a group Afghan officials called Jundallah, a militant band that originated in Central Asia and first appeared in the late 1990s as the IMU and was allied to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The IMU sheltered with the Taliban in Pakistan's tribal areas in the first years after the U.S.-led operation started in late 2001.
IMU fighters have been trickling back in northeastern Afghanistan to link up with Taliban units for more than a decade, and several times during this period conflicts with Pakistani tribesmen or Pakistani military operations pushed groups of IMU fighters back into Afghanistan. In recent years, this IMU group was absorbed by its Tajik wing, Jamaat Ansarullah. The originally Uzbek-dominated group now includes several nationalities and is under Tajik command.
This group has maintained its alliance with the Taliban, unlike an IMU group in northwestern Afghanistan.
In late September 2016, the Taliban and Jundallah launched an attack on the provincial capital, Kunduz, briefly seizing it as they had done almost exactly one year earlier. The Taliban also briefly seized Kunduz Province's Qala-e Zal district, which borders Tajikistan. Fighting continues in that district and in the neighboring Imam Sahib district that also borders Tajikistan.
The militants also attacked in the neighboring Takhar and Badakhshan provinces in late September. They overran four districts in Takhar Province, two of which -- Khwaja Gar and Yangi Qala -- directly border Tajikistan.
Another district that borders Tajikistan -- Darqad, in the far northwest of Takhar Province -- has been under Taliban control for some time. There was a drone strike there at the start of March that Afghan forces say killed 15 Taliban militants and that followed Afghan air strikes on Darqad in late February.
Darqad is also the source of serious problems now between the Afghan, Tajik, and Russian governments. (More on that later.)
During that late September offensive, the Taliban also briefly captured two central districts in Badakhshan -- Wardoj and Baharak. Wardoj district has changed hands between government and militant forces several times since 2009.
The government now claims to have control over most of these districts, but attacks and assassinations continue to occur frequently in these three provinces and thinly stretched Afghan government troops move almost constantly from one hot spot to the next.
Kunduz Governor Assadullah Amarkhel said at the start of March that the Taliban were planning to attack the city of Kunduz again. Badakhshan Governor Ahmad Faisal said at the start of March he expected a military operation to start soon to recapture the Yamgan and Wardoj districts in his province. At the end of February, the Afghan National Army announced it had recaptured 14 villages in three districts of Takhar Province.
Of course all of this is a concern to Tajikistan's government -- although not so much because of the threat of the Taliban crossing the border. After all, Tajikistan hosts a Russian military base and together with the Russian military Tajik authorities have established three layers of defense in the Afghan border region.
But the presence of Jundallah, a militant group commanded by ethnic Tajiks, including some from Tajikistan, is something to worry about, especially as the Tajik government cannot claim to enjoy much popularity among its people.
A reported IS presence in the northeast is also causing unease, not only in Dushanbe but in Moscow as well, and that has raised questions in Afghanistan about possible connections the Russian and Tajik governments might have with the Taliban.
At the end of 2015, Tajikistan's independent Asia-Plus news agency reported that Russian officials met that summer with Taliban representatives at the Kulob military base, where Russia's 201st Division was stationed at the time. One of those Taliban representatives was identified as Qari Dinmuhammad Hanif, the commander who controlled the Darqad district in Takhar Province.
Since then, it has become clear that Russia is in contact with the Taliban. Moscow opened a channel to the Taliban after IS appeared in eastern Afghanistan, ostensibly because the Taliban was more effective than government troops at fighting IS in Afghanistan.
Provincial officials and military commanders in Badakhshan, Takhar, and Kunduz have blamed security setbacks on Russia supplying local Taliban units with arms. Afghan Channel 1 TV reported on February 28 that Russia was supplying arms to the Taliban units in Kunduz's Qala-e Zal, Iman Sahib, and Dasht-e Archi districts.
The same accusation has been made to justify Afghan government forces' failure to retake the Darqad district of Takhar Province.
And some Afghan officials have gone so far as to claim Tajikistan was allowing Taliban vehicles entry onto its territory for repair, allowing wounded Taliban to be treated at medical facilities in Tajikistan, and turning a blind eye to militants sheltering on heavily wooded islands in the Pyanj River.
Tajik authorities deny all this, and Russia denies giving weapons to the Taliban. But the mounting distrust serves to further complicate an increasingly chaotic situation.

Afghanistan - 20 Taliban Insurgents, 11 ANA Soldiers Killed In Kandahar Attack

At least 20 Taliban insurgents were killed on Monday night when a group of Taliban carried out an attack on a military base in Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar province, said 205 Atal military Corps in Kandahar.

In addition 11 Afghan National Army soldiers were killed and nine others were wounded, the Ministry of Defense said.

The military base is located in Achakzai village of Shah Wali Kot district.

“The enemies of the people of Afghanistan attacked the camp in Shah Wali Kot, it was a coordinated attack, but our units bravely defended their camp, unfortunately 11 of our soldiers were martyred and nine others wounded ” said Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish.

According to the Ministry of Defense the base fell to the Taliban after heavy clashes lasting a couple of hours.

“Such episodes could be repeated, because in terms of quantity, the army units exist everywhere across Afghanistan, in such situation, there is a possibility that negligence could lead to a major loss to the structure of the government,” said military analyst Mirza Mohammad Yarmand.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said that security forces eventually launched an operation to recapture the base which they managed to do after a few yours.

This is the Taliban's third attack on a military facility in two months.

The first attack was on Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital in Kabul, which resulted in the death of about 50 people, while the second was on the 209 Shaheen military corps in Balkh last month – at least 150 soldiers were killed.

Citizens have blasted government’s will to deter the enemy and improve security.
“The government does not complete its job properly and it does not check it well, for instance, when a car passes by with blacked out windows, how it is possible to recognize that it belongs to government or to the enemy. These cars are without number plates and how can we know what is going on inside the car. A minister is riding or a lawmaker or a Taliban fighter or a suicide bomber,” asked a resident of Kabul.

Kabul: There is no guarantee of security

After the terrorist attack that killed an Afghan security guard and a German aid worker, DW's Sandra Petersmann and Birgitta Schülke-Gill spoke to people about living in Kabul. They portray a life of fear and anxiety.
We're going about our work, listening and reading deportation notices. Amir, Nuri, Mujtaba and Isa are telling us how scared they are of life in Kabul. We're in the Afghan capital, sitting with asylum seekers who've been sent back from Germany, when the terrible news of the attack on a Swedish aid organization, Operation Mercy, reaches us.
We are shocked and appalled. All attacks are horrendous. Kabul. Paris. Brussels. Nice. Berlin. Details are still unclear. We call contacts in Kabul to find out more. We follow what Afghan colleagues are reporting on social media.
We let our families know that we're okay. Friends and colleagues call, text or send messages on WhatsApp. The young deportees understand German well enough to follow our conversations with people back home. Mujtaba and Isa offer us their condolences. We speak to the editor-in-chief and the security coordinator and weigh up the situation.
The picture starts to become clearer. The attack on Saturday evening was aimed at foreigners. The target was the aid organization's living complex. An Afghan security guard and a German aid worker are dead. A Finnish aid worker has been abducted.
It's not the first targeted attack on foreigners in Kabul. Usually, though, the victims are Afghan civilians. Since the start of this year there have been at least seven serious attacks in Kabul, in which several hundred people were killed or injured. Responsibility was claimed either by the Taliban or by the so-called "Islamic State."
The Afghan capital has been quiet recently. When we touched down a couple of days ago, the fortress of Kabul, with its high blast protection walls and barbed wire barriers, seemed peaceable enough. The sun shone brightly in a steely blue sky. The people we've been speaking to are open and friendly. But this latest attack is not the only indication that this calm is deceptive.
There is no guarantee of security in Kabul. A place that's safe today can be the site of an attack tomorrow. Before our departure we imposed security rules on ourselves. Our employer has very clear rules for postings to crisis regions, and we stick to them. We listen to what our instincts tell us. We can't do any more than that.
We ask everyone we speak to what they think of the fact that the United States and its NATO partners want to send more soldiers to Afghanistan again.
"What good will that do if nothing else changes?" "The most important thing is that we Afghans should stand together and our government should finally govern, instead of arguing." "What good will more foreign soldiers do if they're not allowed to fight?" "We have to disarm all the militias and support only our security forces." "NATO has failed. They should send us UN troops." "What we would like from the international community is security first, then education."
The answers differ, but none of the citizens we spoke to – male or female – felt safe in Kabul. They all live with the risk, though, because life has to go on. We often hear people say, "When we leave the house in the morning, we don't know whether we'll come back alive in the evening, but we can't just stop living."
As foreign guests in this city, we are in no greater danger today, after this latest, murderous attack, than we were yesterday. Terrorism and violence are part of everyday life in the Afghan capital. Added to that is gang-related crime. Kidnappings are a business model in Kabul.
We are here as journalists, to portray daily life in the Afghan capital. We are familiar with Kabul and Afghanistan from many visits. Afghanistan is a country at war. The international military deployment, now in its 16th year, has brought the country progress and has opened it up. It has not, however, brought peace or security.

Pakistan: Some Minorities Prepare for Consequences Post Census Results

While the census draws to a close, the final figures are what the nation is waiting for.

Some marginalised, attacked and subject to unsubstantiated blasphemy charges, Pakistan’s religious minorities are hoping the country’s first census since 1998 will be a step towards greater political representation and rights.
But then there is a dark side to this.

Not all religious minorities are eager to make themselves known.

Ahmadis, a minority sect declared non-Muslims by law number an estimated 500,000 and are victims of persecution and violence.

When a Balochistan resident identified himself as Ahmadi to Pakistani census officials, he was chased out of the mosque where they had gathered families to be counted.

If they don’t identify themselves as Ahmadi, for fear of their safety, census officials simply assume the Ahmadis are Muslim.

This is potentially a dangerous move as if they declare themselves Muslim, they can be imprisoned for three years.
With the country is moving forward on the census, and on anti-corruption and anti-terrorism drives, it is a shame that progress and safety only applies to the mainstream Muslim Pakistani.

The minorities and marginal sects, by logic of their religious belief have a target painted on their backs.

The census can enumerate them, but if there is no effort made to resolve their problems and protect them, even a frequent census will be able to do nothing about our troublesome demographic realities.



The moment the Saudi monarch Salman closed the anti-Iran summit in Riyadh, the media persons of Pakistan began receiving frantic calls from their offices back home in Pakistan with questions like: what has happened, how it happened, why it happened? All were perturbed and disappointed that Pakistan was ignored and humiliated at the Summit!

One of the frequently asked questions was: “Do we have a Foreign Office? But no one had any reasonable answer to this query.
This is understood that after the summit was over the prime minister must have remained engaged in remaining activities, including proceeding to the Moatamarat for groundbreaking ceremony of World Centre against Extremisms.
All said and done, for Pakistani journalists it was a dreadful day – the one full of disappointment and hurt. In the evening, every single one of us was returning to his hotel room from the Conference Centre with a heavy heart.


Pakistan: Young revolutionaries keep the struggle of Mashal Khan alive

The Progressive Youth Alliance is organizing students across Pakistan, to keep alive the struggle of Mashal Khan and fight for the basic rights of students.
Since the brutal killing of Mashal Khan, many protests, public meetings, and  demonstrations have been organized across the country to discuss the problems faced by students and to organize them around one platform. The PYA has also published many leaflets and posters to spread the message. A revolutionary song was also composed and performed, which got a huge response from the youth. On 21 May a huge public meeting is being held in the hometown of Mashal Khan in which students from across the country are participating in big numbers. A delegation from PYA will also be present at this meeting with a stall of Marxist literature. State authorities are trying to disrupt this meeting with security threats, along with sending MPs from all kinds of political parties, including those who were involved in the brutal killing of Mashal Khan, and other state officials shedding crocodile tears over the death of Mashal Khan. But despite all their tactics, this meeting will send a message of hope among the students to come out for their   rights amidst all threats of terrorism.


On 16 May a convention was organized by Progressive Youth Alliance in Bahawalpur City at Darbar Mehal Hall near Islamia University. This is the third city convention of PYA in three months. The Youth Convention of Multan was held in February, while in Lahore it was held in March.
This convention was dedicated to Mashal Khan, a student of AWK University Mardan, who was lynched by Islamic fundamentalists with the complete support of Pakistani State on 13 April. Like other cities across the country, state authorities tried their best to sabotage this activity by denying the students the right to hold their convention at the Press Club. But the morale of the youth was high, and they raised funds to organize this activity in a private hall. State authorities continue to harass and intimidate young revolutionaries and left-wing activists, while fundamentalists and terrorists are free to roam and carry out their activities and hold public meetings.
Young activists of PYA published leaflets, posters, invitations, and other literature to spread the revolutionary message to a wider layer of students. This was warmly welcomed by the students and unemployed youth, and more than 200 turned up to attend this convention. Those who participated came from Islamia University Bahawalpur, Government Degree College Bahawalpur, University of Central Punjab, SE College Bahawalpur, Allama Iqbal College Bahawalpur, Post Graduate College Bahawalpur, Punjab College Bahawalpur, and others. Delegations of students from Multan and D.G. Khan also participated in this convention.
Akhram Asadi conducted the stage at this occasion. First speaker of the convention was Ishfaq Gujjar from Islamia University. He outlined the problems faced by students and gave an introduction to the program of PYA. After that other speakers came on stage and expressed their views, including Aroosa Khan from BBT department of Islamia University; Asif LAshari from D.G. Khan; Mairaj Hashmi from Computer Science Department of Islamia University; Sajid Channar, a worker from Gulistan Textile Mills; Faiz Aneeb from GC Bahawalpur, and Rawal Asad from Emerson College.
Speakers condemned the killing of Mashal Khan under the supervision of state authorities and explained the difficult conditions faced by students due to astronomical fees and rising unemployment. They said that Mashal Khan was also raising his voice against this injustice, for which he was killed. They said that the Pakistani state is sponsoring all these terrorists and gives them all kind of logistical and financial support. They also condemned the ban on student unions in the country, and demanded that this ban should be lifted immediately. They said that security forces deployed in educational institutions are used to harass the students and to prevent any kind of gathering of students. They said that students will have to take security of these institutions into their own hands and will have to organize themselves to fight terrorism.
They said that terrorist organizations are free to hold meetings inside campuses, while progressive students have to face threats when they raise their voice over genuine issues. These terrorist organizations are supported by university administrations to disrupt any kind of student movement through threats and killings. Students now will have to fight against this oppression themselves; they cannot rely on any political party.
Speakers also condemned the loot and plunder of private educational institutions and said that this ruling class has made education one of the most profitable business in the country. Many public sector institutions are being privatized, which is taking the right of education away from the working class.  Already, the literacy rate in Pakistan is among the lowest in the world, and with these policies only a tiny population of rich will remain literate while the majority of the population will become illiterate. They also spoke about the menace of unemployment and how millions of unemployed youth need to organize for their right of employment.
Revolutionary poetry, songs, and a stage play were also performed during the convention, enthralling the audience. A band named Distortion, consisting of students from Islamia University, also performed at the occasion.
At the end an executive body of PYA for Bahawalpur City was elected. The office bearers include Noman Qadir as President, Aroosa Khan as Vice President, Khalid as General Secretary, Faiz Aneeb as Joint Secretary, Hunza Gul as Women Secretary, Jawad Mansoor as Finance Secretary, Ishfaq Gujjar as Information Secretary, Ghulam Mustafa as Cultural Secretary, and Hamza Mushtaq as study circle in charge.
Comrade Zain ul Abideen came up to give closing remarks. He said that PYA is organizing revolutionary youth across the country and that this convention shows that we are moving forward. He said that PYA activists are present in all major universities of the country and are playing a key role in organizing students everywhere. He said that today, the capitalist system is rotten and decaying, and cannot give any relief to the working class and youth. Everywhere in the world students are coming against this system in huge numbers. But the only out is a socialist revolution. We should move forward on this path, linking ourselves with the working class. Our aim is to destroy this capitalist system and establish socialism in Pakistan.
After the convention a rally was held condemning the brutal murder of Mashal Khan and for free education, employment, and the restoration of student unions. Morale of all the participants was very high, and the whole city resounded with the slogans of “Inqlab! Inqlab! . . . Socialist Inqlab!


On 10 May a meeting was organized by PYA Karachi at PMA House to condemn the brutal killing of Mashal Khan. Students from Karachi University, Federal Urdu University, Indus College, and others participated in the meeting. Social and political activists also attended the meeting. Topic of the meeting was “Martyrdom of Mashal Khan and future of student movement.” Meezan Rahi conducted the stage.
Speakers who addressed the meeting included Anam Patafi, Sana ullah Zehri, Jalal Jan, Ubaid Zulfiqar, Rehmat Khan, Afghan Yar of Peoples’ Student Federation, Attaullah Afridi, Faris, Muzammil, and Paras Jan.
Speakers warned the government that if the murderers of Mashal Khan were not punished, then students across the country would come out in protests.  Rehmat Khan emphasised the need to unite progressive students against Islamic fundamentalists.
Afghan Yar and Attaullah spoke about the decadence of student organisations affiliated with various political parties. They said that some of these organisations were progressive in the past, but now they are rotten to the core. Many members of Peoples’ Student Federation, student wing of PPP, wanted to participate in this meeting, but leadership strictly prohibited them and threatened to expel them if they came here. This shows the position of this leadership on the issue of Mashal Khan.
Paras Jan summed up the meeting and said that today, only youth has come on stage and discussed their point of view. This is the stage for a new generation for whom Mashal Khan is a hero. Old professors and so-called leftists have nothing to offer to youth; rather, they sow confusion and demoralisation among the youth. This youth is the hope of future, while they are relics of the past. Paras also appreciated the proposal by Rehmat Khan, but also asked him to consider his own party affiliation, which is a right-wing party ruling Pushtoonkhwa in alliance with Islamic fundamentalists. His party leaders have helped the escape of one of Mashal Khan’s murderers to Thailand. He also said that all parties are parties of status quo, including PPP. Youth will now have to come out on the streets to fight against the policy of privatisation of educational institutions and other basic issues. At the end he recited his revolutionary poem, I am also Mashal, to close the meeting.


PYA and the Baloch Students Organization (Pajjar) commemorated the 39th anniversary of the Afghan Saur Revolution at Zareef Shaheed Auditorium of Science College Quetta on 27 April. This anniversary was dedicated to the memory of Mashal Khan. The last meeting in this hall to commemorate the Saur Revolution was held twenty-two years ago. More than 120 students and political activists participated in the meeting. Paras Jan presided over the meeting, while Karim Parhar conducted the stage.
Razzaq Ghurzang opened the discussion and explained in detail the events of the Saur Revolution and the impact it had on the lives of the peoples of Afghanistan. He also explained how this revolution brought millions out of poverty through the distribution of land among peasants, free education and health, a ban on the sale of women and the granting of other basic rights for them, complete abolition of interest, and other achievements.
Others who addressed the meeting were Ibrahim Kasi, Aman Bazai, and Bismillah Khan Kakar. Changez Baloch from BSO also spoke at the occasion and presented his point of view about this revolution. Speakers also explained the impact of this revolution on the whole region, especially Pakistan.
Paras Jan summed up the discussion. He paid tribute to the struggle of Mashal Khan and said that his blood has given life to a new student movement in Pakistan. He then explained the political and economic situation around the globe. He also said that we should recognize the profound changes happening across the world and should recognize in which epoch we are living. He also said that the Saur Revolution was a huge leap for the people of Afghanistan, who were living their lives in primitive circumstances. Today we need another revolution, not only in Afghanistan but in the whole region, but we should move forward for this while learning mistakes of the past. He said that the experiences of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia provide us the methods and tactics with which we can prepare for revolutionary transformation of this region and abolish all artificial borders dividing people.


A meeting was organized by PYA at Chakdara Press Club to commemorate the Saur Revolution on 30 April. Students from Peshawar University and Malakand University participated in this meeting along with others.  This meeting was dedicated to Mashal Khan, who was a student at University in Mardan.
The meeting opened with revolutionary anthems of Afghanistan. Those who addressed the meeting included Siddiq Jan, Ijaz from Buner, Riaz from Dir, Asfandyar Shinwari from Peshawar University, and Suleman, a former student of Kohat University. Speakers discussed the lessons of this revolution and how to move forward in this war-torn region. All the speakers were convinced that there is no way out within this capitalist system, and that masses on both sides of the artificial Durand Line need to overthrow this system through a socialist revolution. Speakers also discussed the murder of Mashal Khan a few weeks ago, and how this has sparked a movement against fundamentalism which has ravaged the lives of this area over last three decades.
This movement has also threatened the state, which tries to sabotage any meeting of revolutionary forces through threats of suicide bombs and search operations by the army. But the morale of the students is high, and they are moving forward to organize more layers on the platform of Progressive Youth Alliance.


A rally was organized by students of Peshawar University on 25 April from Hostel No. 1 to New block. A large number of students participated in the rally, raising slogans against the killing of Mashal Khan. Khalid Mandokhail, Riaz Wazir, and other student leaders addressed the rally and demanded the death penalty for all those involved in the killing of Mashal Khan. The speakers who addressed the rally said that the attack on Mashal Khan is an attack on all those students who are fighting against rising fees and the corruption of university administrations. Speakers also urged students not to forget the sacrifice of Mashal, and to keep his struggle alive. Peshawar University has not seen such a radical rally in last two decades, with a large number of students participating above their political affiliations.