Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Pashto Music - Sardar Ali Takkar - ''HUSAN'' - GHANI KHAN

Commentary: The new face of Afghanistan’s war

By Peter Apps
On the streets of the city of Ghazni this week, Afghan troops and Taliban fighters battled for the future of Afghanistan.
It was a savage fight. Several hundred Taliban insurgents attacked the town on Friday, and at the height of the battle they dominated the city, pushing back Afghan security forces to only a few key strongpoints while residents cowered in their homes. The Taliban said Wednesday it was pulling back its fighters from the city, but the government said an attack on an army base nearby killed at least 44 police and soldiers.
Should the Taliban have captured Ghazni, it would have been the first major urban victory since a short-lived 2015 takeover of Kunduz. Instead, they demonstrated once again their limitations. The insurgents remain adept at savage, one-off attacks, grabbing headlines and continuing to seize control of rural areas – this week they overrun several countryside districts in the broader Ghazni Province. But they have proved unable to grab control of Afghanistan’s key urban areas from a government with access to U.S. and Western airpower as well as its own increasingly capable security forces.
Now more than ever, for the Taliban action on the battlefield is aimed at political effects as much as military. This week's assault looks less like an attempt to capture ground and more a deliberate demonstration of the group’s reach and capability, essentially setting the groundwork for negotiations already quietly underway. On Tuesday, several Taliban sources said the group was considering a ceasefire for the Eid-al Adha holiday next week, building on a similar but previously unprecedented truce in June.
Seventeen years after the 9/11 attacks and invasion of Afghanistan that followed, this is how war in that country works now. Individual battles are important, but primarily for the way in which they shape the larger political fight. For both the Taliban and the government, both violence and negotiation are very much part of the same process.
The dynamics are very different from when the United States and its allies deployed tens of thousands of NATO troops in the hope of smashing the insurgency for good. It was a strategy always doomed to failure, not least because the Taliban always knew the foreign forces could not maintain that pressure forever. “You may all have the watches,” a Taliban sympathizer reportedly told a senior American official in Kabul, “but we have all the time.”
He was right – but only up to a point. Faced with mounting casualties and diminishing results – and having spent breathtaking amounts of money, an estimated $1 trillion to $6 trillion depending on what is measured – the West pulled back its large troop formations in 2014. But that's when the real Afghan war began, between a rebooted Western-trained and supported Afghan National Army and a Taliban that knows they may now be the ones losing the long-term battle.
The United Nations estimates that by 2050 half of Afghanistan’s population will live in cities, up from 27 percent in 2016. The population of Kabul skyrocketed from 1.5 million in 2001 to almost 6 million now, making it the fifth fastest-growing city globally. The society an increasingly urbanized Afghanistan produces is inevitably more liberal and outward-looking, much less susceptible to the neo-medieval philosophies of the Taliban. The insurgents know this – and it clearly infuriates them.
Between April and June, suicide bombers killed dozens in a succession of attacks in and around Kabul. The Taliban took credit for most, although some were also claimed by the Afghan branch of Islamic State, which has increasingly attempted to pitch itself as a rival to the more established insurgents through its own series of brutally effective attacks.
Those assaults came amid a wider propaganda battle between the Afghan government and the Taliban, coupled with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s unconditional offer in February of peace talks.
Factionalism amongst the Taliban makes tracking that process particularly difficult, but it is clear the group is tentatively stepping towards negotiations. In June, it rejected the peace talks offer despite an unprecedented Eid holiday ceasefire, but informal outreach continues. In July, Taliban sources said they had held “indirect talks” with U.S. officials, while last week a delegation from the group visited Uzbekistan to discuss issues including peace in Afghanistan, another apparent sign of renewed diplomatic enthusiasm.
As this weekend’s fighting makes clear, such activity does not preclude further bloodshed. The Afghan government, too, remains broadly on the offensive, its military shortly to be bolstered with new foreign trainers and equipment. Many of those who fight with its army now have little memory of the time before the U.S.-led intervention, and no appetite to return to the days of outright Taliban control.
Ultimately, the future of Afghanistan will be won through diplomatic and political negotiation as well as on the battlefield. The situation remains extremely complex, with interventions of neighboring states, particularly Pakistan, rubbing up against ongoing Afghan issues like massive corruption. The war has now gone on so long that it has produced entire economies and career structures, and that itself make it harder to manage, let alone end. Put simply, from corrupt military contracts to protection rackets, some powerful people would simply now rather the current conflict and instability continues.
A number of wild cards remain in play, not least U.S. President Donald Trump, whose comments before taking office suggested he might favor removing U.S. troops entirely, but subsequently ordered an increase in U.S. troops and air strikes in Afghanistan. International support to the Afghan military remains vital, but it is equally important that the country stands more on its own two feet.
Ultimately, the idea conflict in Afghanistan could somehow be America’s, Britain’s or anyone else’s war was always doomed to failure. It’s now turning back into what it should perhaps always have been, a confrontation between the country’s own power centers in which the outside world does what it can to push things in the right direction. If the Afghan government can win its current battle, that may finally be beginning to show tentative signs of success.


Counterterrorism credentials of Pakistan is now linked with the Asia Pacific Group (APG) report as its delegation is visiting Pakistan nowadays and conclude its trip on Thursday. The APG is to complete its review of Pakistan’s compliance with international obligations over fighting money laundering and terror financing in order to submit its report to the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

By the end of September next year, Pakistan has to comply with a 10-point action plan it committed with the FATF in June this year to combat terror financing and money laundering to get out of the grey list or else fall into the black list, a finance ministry official said.
He said the six-member APG delegation did not have any meeting scheduled with caretaker Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar, but was expected to have a wind-up session with the federal finance secretary after going through a checklist of 26 actionable points with other stakeholders, including the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) of the State Bank of Pakistan, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and representatives of the ministries of foreign affairs and interior.
Pakistan has to comply with 10-point action by end of September next year to get out of FATF grey list
The official said the response to the checklist by the authorities had already been finalised for sharing it with the APG after a plan to improve laws and strengthen the agencies concerned was approved by the caretaker cabinet last month.
Under the plan, the FMU will be upgraded, punishments and penalties will be enhanced to check smuggling of currency and two legal documents — Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance 2010 and Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947 — will be strengthened to meet the requirements of United Nations resolutions.
The official said the homework to address serious deficiencies had been completed and its implementation was in progress and would be completed within the time frame committed with the FATF. He said there were some positive vibes from European capitals to help Pakistan make progress in a manner that it did not become a victim of geopolitics and avoid a repeat of the June 27-29 FATF plenary in Paris when it was included in the grey list.
The official said the SECP and the SBP had recently taken steps for strengthening the regulatory regime on AML/CFL even though these had already been very stringent since 2015. To address risk-based challenges and changing identities and titles, the regulators have streamlined documentations for all individuals and entities in financial dealings.
To ensure that “criminals are not able to hide their identity through use of complex ownership structure of companies, partnerships, trusts or other similar forms, the financial institutions are required to identify the ultimate beneficial owner, who is a natural person, of all legal persons and legal arrangements before offering their services to them”.
Pakistan was found deficient in four areas such as supervision of AML/CTF, illicit cross-border movement of currency by terror groups, weak investigation and poor outcome of prosecution on terror financing and unsatisfactory implementation of UNSC resolutions 1267 and 1373.
By January next year, Pakistan will identify and assess domestic and international terror financing risks to and from its system to strengthen investigations and improve on inter-agency (FIA, SBP, SECP, banks, home and interior departments and associated agencies) coordination as well as federal and provincial coordination to combat these risks.
Also by January 2019, the government will complete the profiling (preparing data banks) of terror groups or suspected terrorists, their financial assets and stren­gths, besides their members and their family backgrounds, and make them inter-agency accessible.
Besides, banks, exchange companies and all agencies will be upgraded and trained about risks associated with AML/CTF issues, obligations and responsibilities for sharing and start imposing penalties on violations.
Over the next nine months i.e. till September 2019, the government will complete the investigation into the widest range of terror financing activities, including appeals and calls for donations and collection of funds, besides their movements and uses.
The focus will be on curbing smuggling of funds and misuse of not-for-profit titles of the blacklisted organisations. The government will also proactively request and provide international cooperation in targeting, investigating and prosecuting terror financing cases and clearly demonstrate that it has included police-to-police, customs-to-customs, financial investigation unit-to-unit and formal cooperation in the mutual legal assistance regimes.
Focus will remain on action against the UNSC-sanctioned entities, freezing their accounts and assets, limiting their activities, closing down their charitable and social service organisations and ensuring they are incapacitated in all manifestations. The outcome will be published at least twice before September next year.

#PAKISTAN - We will resolve every problem facing people, country in parliament: Bilawal Bhutto

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday said that his party will solve all the problems of the people and the country in the parliament.
“The problems of the country can only be solved in the parliament. We will serve the country and solve the problems of people while sitting in the opposition’’, he said while talking to media on his arrival to cast a vote for speaker of the national assembly (NA).
He further held that he will try that the prime minister (PM) is elected from the opposition and if it does not happen then he will carry out a real opposition and do whatever he has to do in the country’s interest.

Bilawal says will urge PML-N to change its PM nominee

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday said that his party will urge the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to change its nominee for premiership, ARY News reported.

The PPP chief and newly elected MNA was speaking to media in the federal capital when one of the reporters asked if his party’s parliamentarians will vote for PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif during the election of PM.
“We will urge PML-N to change its PM nominee,” answered Bilawal.

An opposition alliance comprising PPP, PML-N, ANP, MMA and other parties on August 7 jointly nominated Shehbaz Sharif as their candidate for premiership.
The opposition alliance named “alliance for free and fair elections” had earlier decided to support a PML-N candidate for PM, a PPP nominee for speaker and MMA one for deputy speaker slot.
The elections for speaker and deputy speaker slot were held earlier today in the National Assembly wherein PTI’s Asad Qaiser and Qasim Suri elected as the speaker and deputy speaker.
Asad Qaisar was contesting against PPP nominee Khursheed Shah. Qaiser received 176 votes whereas Shah got 146 votes.
The opposition alliance reportedly voted for PPP nominee as planned.