Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Video Report - Syria: Army breaks Islamic State group siege on Deir al-Zor

Syrian soldiers embrace after breaking 3-year ISIS siege of Deir ez-Zor (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Video Report - Jake Tapper: Trump's wiretap claims were lies


Video Report - Barack Obama Brilliantly Responds To Trump After Ending DACA - Calling It 'WRONG' & 'CRUEL'

Nazia Iqbal - Tumhein Dil Lagi Bhol Jani Pary Gi

Global Minorities Alliance publishes report on Pakistani Christian Community in Thailand

By C.S Chand

A UK based human rights organization, Global Minorities Alliance has published a fact-finding report on 4 September, 2017 featuring the situation of Pakistani Christians flee religious oppression in Thailand. The report titled: ‘Are Christians in Pakistan Persecuted?A case study of Pakistani Christian Asylum Seekers in Bangkok, Thailand, which underpins the current debate in the UK after Home Office Pakistan country guidance report, 2016; argues that Christians in Pakistan are not persecuted but rather discriminated.

The report based on the interviews of 40 Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Bangkok, Thailand and additionally correspondence with the United Nations Human Rights Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and religious associations. The interviews were directed by GMA’s trustees and authors of the report, Shahid Khan and Rebecca Gebauer in July, 2016.
Global Minorities Alliance was invited by All Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Religion and Belief, (APPG) a parliamentary Group which focuses on religious freedom and belief in a bid to collate information from another 27 UK based rights group to be presented in Home Office report on Pakistan country guidance report. Mr Khan, was one of the delegates at the hearing session and argued that given the decades long widespread systematic discrimination which often leads to direct violence against individuals and communities, amounts to persecution according to the Article 7 of Rome Statues. GMA argued that Christians in Pakistan should be given a ‘group recognition’ in the United Kingdom for those Christians fleeing persecution from Pakistan and further applying for sanctuary in the UK.
Miss Gebauer, one of the authors of GMA report noted that ‘our research highlights the plight of Pakistani Christians who flee persecution in extreme cases and arrive in Thailand and become subject to ‘double persecution’. She further added; ‘Thailand being not part of the Refugee Convention, 1951 further complicates the plight of these individuals. The families we met in Bangkok, had little or in some cases no support, with no legal right to work, rent, food and fears of being detained by Thai police loom large for many of our respondents’.
Dr Elham Manea, Associate Professor of Political Science and a human rights activist said; ‘GMA report provides a compelling evidence on the systematic and structural discrimination against Christians in their home country and highlights the miserable conditions they are facing in Thailand.
The report is sectionalised in four chapters providing comprehensive insight into Refugee Crisis in Thailand, Detention Centres, Christians in Pakistan in the light of interviewees conducted by the authors.
Lord David Alton of Liverpool noted that, ‘I hope that this admirable report is read by legislators, and policy makers around the world so that the question of religious violence can be tackled in Pakistan honouring the principles on which Pakistan was founded and its constitution established respecting all citizens, regardless of their religious faith.
One of the interviewees in Bangkok, Thailand told GMA ‘I have been tortured for 14 days by Pakistani Police over a false allegation and I was clubbed by four men over my head, ankles and joints. I was later released. My family is in Pakistan. I am deserted and there is no help. I fear I will be sent back to Pakistan and my life will be worse than before, he told GMA.
Earlier today, the report was presented to the UK Member of Parliament, Carol Monaghan who supported the ethos of Global Minorities Alliance which is based on justice, peace and equality and commended the efforts of GMA to promote religious freedom and human rights for all persecuted minorities around the world.

Pakistan, ISIS allegedly behind Rakhine imbroglio: Myanmar’s Mizzima

Indian and Bangladesh intelligence officials say that they have intercepted three long duration calls between Hafiz Tohar, military wing chief of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on 23rd and 24th August that hold the key to why the militant group unleashed the pre-dawn offensive against Myanmar security forces.
Hafiz Tohar set up the Aqa Mul Mujahideen (AMM) and was trained in Pakistan by the dreaded Lashkar e Tayyaba (LET) after he was recruited by Abdul Qadoos Burmi, the chief of Harkat ul Jihad al Islami -Arakan (HUJI-A) from Kyauk Pyin Siek village of Maungdaw in 2014.
He merged his group into the ARSA after it was formed in the summer of 2016 and is widely believed to be behind the deadly attacks on Myanmar security forces from October 9-10 last year and on Aug 25 this year.
Following the training of a few initial recruits of the AMM in Pakistan, new cadres were recruited from among Rohingya youth in Rakhine State and refugee camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazaar.
They were then trained in camps set up on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, specially one at Naikhongcherri in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.
One "Major Salamat" of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, deputed for under cover operations with the LET,was responsible for these training during April-May 2016.
63 JMB activists from Bangladesh responsible for the suicide bombings in that country and 88  ARSA activists were trained in the Naikhongcherri base in April-May 2016, according to information revealed by two top JMB activists when interrogated by Bangladesh intelligence.
This base was recently raided by the Bangladesh army, and six JMB rebels were captured. During interrogation, they confirmed information about this base and the joint JMB-ARSA training stint conducted by ISI that Bangladesh intelligence had garnered from top JMB leader Abul Kashem.
Kashem's information led to the raid on this hideout three months ago.
They found contact numbers of one "Brigadier Ashfaq' and of 'Major Salamat' of ISI and one ISIS recruiter in Iraq.
Bangladesh intelligence put these numbers on surveillance and also passed their numbers to Indian R&AW external intelligence agency which has superb Signals Intelligence capabilities with a regional reach.
Ashfaq is said to be the office in charge of ISI's eastern operations, and he had recently met BNP leader and former PM Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique in London.
Bangladesh media, quoting their intelligence sources, had reported that the ISI officer and Begum Zia discussed ways to bring down the Hasina government in Dhaka and boost the Rohingya insurgency in Rakhine, for which support of the BNP-Jamaat e Islami was needed because ruling Awami League is not sympathetic to Rohingyas.
On 23 August at 11.32am Bangladesh time, there was a call from Ashfaq's number to a Bangladesh Grameenphone mobile used by Hafiz Tohar. The call lasted 37 minutes, and Ashfaq told hafiz that ARSA has to hit multiple targets within the next 48 hours.  Tohar said though his squads were in a position to strike, suggesting long planning and mobilisation, it would not be possible to strike the multiple targets before midnight of 24th August.
Indian intelligence also intercepted this call and could fully break the coded language that Bangladesh intelligence had not been able to decipher fully.
"Kala Admi report detehi hamla ho," said Ashfaq and Zohar replied :" Ji Janaab , jo hukum , par 24 rat se  pahle nahi hoga."
"Kala Admi" or " Black Man" is surely Kofi Annan and the ISI officer was asking for the attacks to be launched immediately after Annan submitted his report.
Tohar agreed but said it would not be possible before midnight of 24th Aug. Tohar speaks clear Urdu due to his long stay in Pakistan.
The second call came on 24th Aug at 2.13pm Bangladesh time and lasted for 28 minutes.
Ashfaq asked when 'Kala Admi" (Annan) is making his report public. Tohar said 3pm , just a few minutes from now.
Ashfaq pleaded for launching the attacks as quickly as possible, soon after dark. 
Tohar said ' runners' have been sent to all the ARSA squads with instructions to launch the attacks at midnight.
"Der kyon kar rahe ho," (why so late) asked an agitated Ashfaq.
"Message paunchaneme time lagta hai Sir", (Takes time to reach the message ), Tohar insisted.
Obviously, ARSA was sending the message through physical runners in person, maintaining a total radio silence for fear of detection.
At 6.02 pm came a call from an Iraq number with someone introducing himself as "Al-Amin of Daesh" on the line to Tohar.
The call was shorter than the Ashfaq-Tohar calls, lasting under 14 minutes.
The ISIS wished ARSA the best in its jihad against the Burmese colonialists, Buddhist and Hindu fanatics.
These three calls simultaneously intercepted by Bangladesh and Indian intelligence makes it clear ARSA and their backers (ISIS and ISI) were determined to cause problems for the Aung San Suu Kyi government which had committed to set up an inter-ministerial committee to implement the recommendations made by Kofi Annan-led Rakhine Commission.
It is nor clear whether Bangladesh or India raised a red flag with Myanmar to warn them of an impending attack.
Perhaps the absence of an intelligence sharing mechanism did not enable the transfer.
" After ISIS's huge failures in the Middle East in the face of Russian and US-led Western military action, there is a clear attempt to create a new theatre of jihad where the narrative of torture and human rights violations reinforced by heavy handed Burmese action can unsettle the Sheikh Hasina regime and destabilise India's east," said a top Indian intelligence official in Yangon before PM Modi's visit to review security arrangements.
"That will divert Indian military attention from Kashmir and Bangladesh from its battle against JMB and other jihadis. This is a clear Pakistani ploy."
That would explain why India and Bangladesh, mindful of their own security threats, have not bought into the narrative of 'genocide' as some in the West and many in the Islamic World have.
"The ARSA is determined to thwart Daw Suu Kyi's good intentions to implement the Kofi Annan report. They want to brutalise the discourse in Rakhine and help re-militarise the area so that the narrative of torture and extra-judicial killings help them boost the level of jihad and find recruits," said a top Bangladesh intelligence official.

Pakistan at odds with BRICS on militants

Pakistan says it does not have terror groups operating freely in its borders, putting it at odds with a statement from the five emerging-market BRICS powers.
The minister's response on Tuesday follows a statement on Monday by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa that also called for patrons of the Pakistan-based militant groups to be held to account.

"These organisations, they have some of their remnants in Pakistan, which we're cleaning," Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan told the Geo TV channel, without specifying which groups he was referring to.
"But Pakistan, we reject this thing categorically, no terrorist organisation has any complete safe havens."
The foreign ministry later released a statement condemning the presence of Islamic State and the Pakistani Taliban in "ungoverned spaces" inside neighbouring Afghanistan.
The groups named by the BRICS include anti-India militant factions such as Jaish-e-Mohammad, which was blamed for a 2001 attack on India's parliament, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India blames for cross-border attacks including a 2008 assault in its financial capital Mumbai in which 166 people were killed.
Another group the BRICS named was the Haqqani network, which is allied with the Afghan Taliban militants waging war on the US-backed government in Kabul and foreign forces there.
China is also concerned about Islamist influence spilling over from Pakistan and Afghanistan into its far-western Xinjiang region, where some members of a Muslim minority chafe at Chinese Communist Party rule.

Two more die as dengue contagion spreads to 10 Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa districts

The dengue outbreak continues to wreak havoc across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) as two more patients lost their battle against the virus on Monday. With two more deaths, the total death toll from the disease has risen to 15. Most of these deaths were reported from Peshawar and Khyber Agency.
Initially, dengue cases were only reported from the provincial capital. However, the virus has now spread to districts in central and Northern parts of the province. So far, not even a single case has emerged from any of the southern districts of the province.
According to details, a total of 1,338 people were reported to have been carrying the virus in Peshawar, followed by 110 in Mardan and 36 from Buner. However, 15 patients from Mansehra, six from Swabi, five from Malakand, two patients each from Haripur and Abbottabad districts showed signs of the virus.
Official documents of the provincial health department, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, read that around 1,558 people were screened for the dengue virus across ten districts. Of these, 292 people were tested positive with 252 hailing from Peshawar.
The report further read that two patients from Abbottabad, one from Haripur, eight from Mansehra, three from Buner, two from Swabi and 20 cases from the Mardan district were tested positive.
A total of 135 dengue patients were admitted to different health facilities within the past 24 hours while 55 of them were successfully treated and discharged, it stated. Officials of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) stated that the virus has infected a kid from Bara Tehsil of the tribal belt, adding that the kid is being given medical treatment.
A total of seven cases have so far been reported from Khyber agency, with one of them belonging to Darra Adam Khel.
Meanwhile, around 1,200 people with gastro complaints visited different health facilities across the provincial capital, with majority of them going to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH).

Pakistan - Urban violence

Does urban infrastructure produce gendered violence in Pakistan? A three-year study on the factors that influence gender violence in urban Pakistan has concluded in the affirmative. The study focuses on three different types of infrastructure – water, sanitation and transport. The connection between the unequal access to infrastructure and gendered violence is a dimension often ignored by those looking to combat gender injustice and violence. Many of the conclusions are not hard to come to but the real problem is that the recognition of this does not exist in current planning paradigms. For example: if access to water were equal for both men and women, would it reduce the scale of violence that is created by unequal access to water? How particular infrastructural environments are designed shape how men, women and transgender individuals interact with each other. Based on a survey of 2,445 households in Karachi and the Rawalpindi-Islamabad area, the study has attempted to understand what kind of violence people experience and how access to infrastructure services gives rise to such violence. For example, the study notes that women are expected to manage water supplies at home while men are responsible for getting access to water in the streets. This creates masculine forms of violence in the street and masculine frustrations at home.
If a part of the problem of violence in our cities has been identified, the next question for us is whether there is a way that this study can contribute to solutions. If women and men have equal access to a service, would it reduce gendered violence? We cannot be certain – especially in a context where scarcity seems to be the biggest determining factor for a lot of urban conflict. Scarcity does not seem to have been a major concern for the study. It is also true that this is not as much of a concern when it comes to the transport infrastructure, where everyday harassment experienced by women requires a more nuanced study. It is not enough to emphasise the infrastructural factor. This becomes clear when the study notes that many women do not recognise domestic violence as violence. The study itself notes the factor of external violence – notably paramilitary operations in cities. If the study agrees that families that have low access to essential services are more prone to gender violence, then there is a need to solve this by providing the said infrastructure. Maybe it is time our policymakers looked at gender-sensitising infrastructure as an essential policy factor – but there will also need to be a much clearer articulation of what it translates into at the level of planning.

Pakistan - Editorial: Pakistan's higher education system ill equipped to curb extremism among students

A shocking attack that missed its target but claimed the lives of at least two others on Eid day in Karachi has revealed a dangerous and apparently growing dimension of militancy in the country.
Sindh MPA Khawaja Izharul Hassan, a senior leader of a faction of the MQM, survived the audacious attempt on his life on Saturday, but the alleged mastermind escaped the scene of the attack.
Believed to have been injured in the attack, the militant belonging to a new outfit, Ansarul Sharia Pakistan, was quickly identified by the Sindh police: Abdul Karim Sarosh Siddiqui, a former student of the University of Karachi.
The involvement in militancy of young individuals from the mainstream-education system is not a new phenomenon. Saad Aziz of the Safoora Goth carnage was a student of the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi, while Noreen Leghari, an MBBS student of Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Hyderabad, has been implicated in ties with the militant Islamic State group.
What is clear is that the higher education system in the country remains thoroughly ill equipped to either curb extremism among students or identify individuals before they are able to go on to commit violent crimes. In the wake of the latest Karachi attack, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Shah has claimed that a security audit and verification system will be introduced in the province to try and identify students with militant and terrorist leanings. That may be a welcome move, but it will need to be carefully implemented.
The blunt instrument of the state should not be used against young people who may simply have an educational interest in different ideologies or want to practise a different kind of politics to what the state condones. The focus must be narrow and precise: religiously inspired militants who are on the path of violence against state and society, be they so-called lone wolves or part of an established network of militancy.
The measures that need to be taken cannot be limited to the campus either. The physical and online networks of jihad must be monitored more closely. After more than a decade of fighting militancy, why is it still relatively easy for individuals seeking to join militant groups to do so?
Surely, as the militancy evolves, the state’s response in fighting it must evolve too. Finally, there is the original reality ie madressah networks through which a great deal of recruitment and facilitation of militancy occurs. The emergence of a new challenge does not mean long-standing threats can be ignored. More effort is needed on all fronts.

Ignoring Mental Illness is Among Pakistan’s Misplaced Priorities

Zarnaab Adil Janjua
On 21 October 2016, a three-member bench of the highest court in Pakistan, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, ruled that schizophrenia was not a mental illness and won’t disqualify one from being sent to the gallows. This was ostensibly done to ensure that Imdad Ali, a schizophrenic man, would be hanged for the 2001 murder of a cleric. Imdad will be victim number 426 in Pakistan’s merciless hanging spree, that began after the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty, following the Peshawar attacks in December 2014. In the wake of these attacks, three branches of governments, spearheaded by a fourth military branch, devised a ‘National Action Plan’, the salient points being the establishment of military courts and the reinstatement of capital punishment.
Denying Rights to the Disabled and Mentally Ill
The political efficacy of such measures and their role in deterring terrorism is a topic for another time, but one thing is certain – by implementing such a draconian order, the Pakistani government, courts and military establishment have grossly violated the rights of the disabled and the mentally ill.
As human rights lawyer Saroop Ijaz describes it: in its “populist pandering”, the state has violated the United Nations disability rights treaty that Pakistan ratified in 2011. Imdad is the latest in a series of such victims. Another such example is that of Kaneezan Bibi, who was convicted for a murder in Toba Tek Singh in 1991. Despite the existence of compelling evidence to suggest that she suffers from psychosocial disabilities, President Mamnoon Hussain rejected her mercy plea – making her the ninth woman to be hanged in Pakistan’s history. Khizar Hayat, a paranoid schizophrenic who spent three years in the prison hospital, wasn’t spared either. Mental Illness Ignored in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, conservative estimates say that 13 percent of the population is afflicted with mental health problems. Given these figures, the WHO reports that: 0nly 400 psychiatrists and five psychiatric hospitals exist across the entire country for a population exceeding 180 million. Roughly translating to an alarming psychiatrist-to-person ratio of 1 to half a million people.
PTSD, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia are generally written off as trivial matters by most members of society in Pakistan. Patients are treated as having been “erroneously diagnosed” as Arif Mahmood at Dawn contends. To make matters worse, some are diagnosed as being under the influence of supernatural powers or worse, black magic. They are then sent to spiritual healers and hakeems. or asked to renew their faith in god. This discrimination, coupled with petty and blinkered social attitudes and the lack of resources and government attention, creates an environment where mental health patients are relegated to Sufi shrines or ill-equipped institutions.
Disarray in National Priorities
The psychological exploitation of young boys at the hands of innumerable Lashkars, Sippahs and Jaish-like groups is evident. But this cannot be solved by secularising the education system, as the liberals demand. Counselling services should be increased manifold before anyone can cry foul about Western media biases and play the victim card.
In November 2016, Imran Khan’s Movement for Justice Party “shut down” Islamabad, bringing hospitals, schools, offices and courts to a standstill. Mere miles away in the wee hours of the same day, Imdad Ali is unaware of his own reality. There is no better allegory for a disarray of national priorities.


The U.S.-Pakistan Relationship Is on Life Support

In the days since President Trump came down hard on Pakistan in his speechoutlining America’s new Afghanistan strategy, the reaction in Islamabad—and elsewhere across the country—has been predictably angry and defiant.
Pakistan’s National Security Committee, a group of top government and military officials, rejected Trump’s allegations—ones also made by many American leaders before him—that Pakistan provides sanctuaries to terrorists that destabilize Afghanistan and attack American troops. “To scapegoat Pakistan will not help in stabilizing Afghanistan,” the committee declared in a sharply worded statement. In a fiery interview with CNN, political opposition leader Imran Khan excoriated Trump for blaming Pakistan for U.S. struggles in Afghanistan and proclaimed that Trump’s criticism was “hurtful” and “humiliating” to all Pakistanis. Most recently, on August 30, Pakistan’s National Assembly passed a resolution lambasting Trump’s accusations as “hostile” and “threatening.”
Pakistan’s anger is now affecting high-level diplomacy. Islamabad asked Alice Wells, a top South Asia official at the State Department, to indefinitely postpone a planned visit to Pakistan.  Pakistan’s foreign minister, who had been scheduled to visit Washington, will now be going to China, Russia and Turkey instead—three countries with close or newly growing ties with Pakistan. Speaking to Parliament on August 30, Pakistani foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif called on the government to suspend all high-level bilateral visits with Washington.
Meanwhile, anti-American protests, all peaceful, have broken out across the country. From demonstrations in the remote tribal areas to a sit-in outside the U.S. consulate in the city of Lahore, people are expressing their anger toward Trump’s criticism and America’s policies more broadly.
On one level, Pakistan’s apoplectic reaction to Trump’s speech isn’t anything new. The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is fraught with mistrust and ill will. Most recently, in 2011 and 2012, the relationship was plunged into deep crisis thanks to a rapid-fire succession of events—including a CIA operative killing two Pakistani men on a busy city street in Lahore, U.S. Special Forces entering Pakistan to take out Osama bin Laden, and NATO aircraft accidentally killing two dozen Pakistani border troops. Back then, the rhetoric in both capitals was much angrier than it is now.
Additionally, in a nation as anti-American as Pakistan (in the pre-Trump era, as many as 92 percent of Pakistanis disapproved of U.S. leadership), top leaders are obliged to issue strong, public rebukes to sharp rhetoric like Trump’s. If you simply laugh or shrug off tough talk from the U.S. president, you risk becoming a political liability. So there’s a playing-to-the-gallery dimension inherent in the Pakistani response.
All this said, by no means is the Pakistani political class displaying manufactured sentiment. Far from it. There is genuine anger and apprehension, and for three major reasons that go beyond the simple fact that a U.S. president has put their country down in a big and threatening way—cause for anyone on the receiving end of such rhetoric, in any context, to be incensed.
First, Pakistani officialdom is well aware of Trump’s uncompromising, black-and-white position on terrorism: In effect, any terror group anywhere must be destroyed at all costs. Trump, more than his predecessors, is likely to order new and draconian measures meant to compel Pakistan to sever its ties to groups like the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network, which help Pakistan in a big way by keeping India—Pakistan’s bitter foe—at bay in Afghanistan. These possible measures could include expanding drone strikes into areas of the country, like Baluchistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Provinces, where militant leaders are harbored but have rarely been hit by drones; placing sanctions and travel bans on Pakistani officials with known ties to terror; launching broader air strikes on terrorist facilities; and even designating Pakistan as a state sponsor of terror if it fails to undertake a series of counterterrorism measures within a certain space of time. Trump administration officials have specifically singled out the first two measures as real possibilities.
Second, Pakistani leaders understand the increasingly anti-Pakistan mood in Washington. Such sentiment is apparent in the White House, at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and even within the community of think-tank analysts. The mood toward Pakistan may be friendlier at the State Department and USAID, but the influence of these agencies in shaping foreign policy, not to mention Pakistan policy, has taken a major hit. For all the unpopularity of Trump’s policies in Washington, the White House’s tougher line on Pakistan is likely to garner glowing bipartisan approval.
The third reason for Pakistan’s unhappiness boils down to the India factor. Trump generated banner headlines for putting Pakistan on notice, but his comments about India are more consequential—and problematic—for U.S.-Pakistan relations. Trump called on India to step up its game in Afghanistan—a country where New Delhi already plays a major role. India and Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership agreement in 2011, and this accord has translated to generous levels of Indian development assistance to Afghanistan—including funds allocated to dam construction and to Afghanistan’s new Parliament building.
But other than training that India offers to Afghan troops, the provision of military transport vehicles and other nonlethal hardware, and a one-time transfer of several Russia-made fighter helicopters to Afghanistan, New Delhi’s military aid to Afghanistan is modest—reflecting a high level of discretion on the part of India to avoid antagonizing Pakistan. When it comes to New Delhi’s warm relationship with Kabul, it’s the specter of deeper security relations that really spooks Pakistan.

Significantly, Trump did not ask India to scale up its military assistance to Afghanistan. Instead, his speech explicitly called on India to intensify its development and economic support there.
And yet, the simple fact that Trump asked India to do more in Afghanistan likely sent shock waves coursing through Islamabad and especially through Rawalpindi, home to the Pakistani military leadership. Pakistan often allegesthat India uses Afghanistan as a base from which to orchestrate acts of meddling and sabotage in Pakistan—from supporting separatist rebels in Baluchistan to providing aid to terrorists like the Pakistani Taliban. For an American president, for the first time, to formally call on India to deepen its footprint on territory that Pakistan claims New Delhi already uses for anti-Pakistan activities—this is nothing short of a nightmare scenario for Pakistan.
From Pakistan’s perspective, now may seem to be an opportune time to lower the curtains on its relationship with America. Pakistan is stuck with an American president dead set on threatening, with likely support from key players in Washington, some of Pakistan’s most important national interests. Trump is poised to apply draconian new tactics to drive Pakistan away from nonstate assets that make Pakistan’s Indian enemy vulnerable, and he has already encouraged India to deepen its presence on Pakistan’s western flank. If Pakistan were to walk away from its partnership with the United States, it wouldn’t be wandering into the wilderness; it would be marching into the wide-open embrace of Beijing, which is cementing its already-deep partnership with Pakistan as it builds out the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
One might also conclude that America is prepared to walk away. The tough-on-terror Trump can’t be expected to have any patience for a country that takes billions of dollars from Washington while sheltering terrorists that kill Americans. The White House, by telegraphing its willingness to take escalatory policy steps that could ratchet up U.S.-Pakistan tensions to unprecedented levels, appears ready to risk the possibility of a rupture in relations in order to pursue its new Afghanistan strategy.
In truth, however, while both sides will be keen to take several big steps back, neither will want to walk away entirely. In fact, Trump, in his speech, extended an olive branch: “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan.”
Both countries derive benefits from partnership, and the loss of these benefits could damage their interests. Now that Trump has formally endorsed an open-ended military commitment in Afghanistan, the strategic significance of NATO supply routes that snake through Pakistan has never been stronger. Islamabad would close these down in a heartbeat, as it did for a seven-month period in 2011 and 2012, if relations further deteriorate. Meanwhile, Pakistan, despite all it gets from Beijing, continues to value American military assistance and the prestige value of a relationship with the world’s sole superpower. Additionally, the supportive treatment that Pakistan receives from the International Monetary Fund—an institution where Washington holds great sway, and which has often helped Pakistan ease its economic woes—could be jeopardized in the event of a collapse in bilateral ties.
Ultimately, the trajectory of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship will depend on the types of pressure tactics implemented by the White House, and on the nature of Pakistan’s responses and retaliations. Another determinant of the relationship’s future is how much risk Washington and Islamabad will be willing to take on. The harsher the measures adapted by the United States, the greater chance that Pakistan could retaliate in dangerous ways. Additionally, the more that Pakistan resists changing its policies, the harsher the American tactics are likely to be.
Even at such an uncertain moment for U.S.-Pakistan relations, this much is true: The relationship may not shrivel up and die, but it’s dangerously low on oxygen. Dark days lie ahead.

Asfandyar Backs Afghan-Pakistan Talks

The head of Pakistan’s Awami National Party said bilateral talks could end tension between the two countries and help improve relations.

Pakistan’s Awami National Party president Asfandyar Wali Khan has called on Islamabad to be open to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s negotiation offer to end tensions between the two countries.
Asfandyar called on Pakistan to reciprocate positively as peace was a prerequisite for stability and economic development in the region, Dawn News reported.
He said unity among Pakhtuns was needed and that foreign elements should stop interfering in the region.
According to Dawn News he went on to say that bilateral talks could end mistrust between the two countries. “Pakistan should take initiative in this regard. Kabul and Islamabad should take bold steps to improve ties,” he added.
Ghani again called for peace during his speech over Eid. He said: “From here, I have a message to Pakistan: We are ready for comprehensive political talks. Peace with Pakistan is in our national agenda.”