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India’s Criminal Politicians

Afghanistan: Peace without women's rights?

Peace may be an achievable goal in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and government delegates are intensifying talks to reach an agreement. But will Kabul sacrifice women's rights in exchange for peace?
At the moment, a peace deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban seems closer than ever before, according to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who spoke at the UN's Geneva conference last month. Indeed, the last weeks have witnessed a lot of diplomatic commotion, aimed at bringing the Taliban and the Afghan government to the negotiating table.
Recently, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US' Afghan representative, said that he had conducted many meetings "with all participating Afghans." The Taliban also confirmed that its members had met him three times this November in Qatar. In the last weeks, the Afghan government and the Taliban also confirmed that they met in the United Arab Emirates. On Sunday, representatives of the Afghan government as well as those from the US and Pakistan spoke with the former rebels, and on Monday Taliban representatives met with their counterparts from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Sharia rights
Many influential actors are now pressing for a solution for peace, but how would women's rights look like under an Afghan government with the participation of the Taliban?
Former Taliban member Sayed Akbar Agha has an answer: "I believe that the Taliban wants to guarantee women's rights only within the Sharia [Islamic law]. It will not guarantee them the rights that are being demanded by the West. The Taliban will not allow shamelessness into this country. Something similar exists now already, like common schools for boys and girls. According to me, the Taliban will never accept that."
Abbas Stanikzai, the highest-ranking Taliban representative at the Moscow Afghanistan conference in November, has also made his ideas clear to the press: "If the world expects us to give them [women] the rights, which they have in America or in the West, then I would say that these rights are neither compatible with our tradition and culture nor with our religion. But we will give them the rights that are guaranteed to them by Islam, like the right to education, work or property."
Reactionary forces could benefit
However, it is unclear what the Islamists mean by the rights for women. Women's rights in Afghanistan are also subject to the conditions of the Sharia, which is part of the the country's 2004 constitution. Article 3 of the constitution states that "In Afghanistan … no law is permitted to contradict the instructions of the holy religion of Islam."
Abdulrab Rasul Sayyaf, a former Islamist who worked with mercenary Arab fighters during the Afghan war in the 1980s, has been particularly vocal about including conditions from the Sharia into the constitution and for amnesty to Islamist groups that were active during the civil war in the 1990s.
In this manner, a strong Islamic-oriented coalition made of former Mujahideen (Islamic warriors) leaders could strengthen its position. Without the diplomatic intervention of the US, these groups would have already come to power after the presidential elections of 2014.
These militias include the Harakat-e-Inqelab-e-Islami (the movement for the Islamic revolution), which is led by Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi, who had fought in the ranks with Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taliban.
Women's rights on the back burner
Afghanistan's patriarchal culture and a strict interpretation of Islam have strongly moulded the country in the last four decades. Currently, no one in the inner circle of power is speaking about the women's rights. The reason: nobody wants to endanger a possible peace accord with the Taliban.
But Afghan women are adamant and don't want to relinquish their rights.
Sara Azizi, a 22-year-old woman Kabul resident, says: "If there is a peace pact with the Taliban and the laws are changed such that we lose our freedoms, then I will not accept such a pact."

Narco-Terrorism In Kashmir: Pakistan’s New Strategy – Analysis

By Parjanya Bhatt
The history of terrorism in the Valley indicates that the social disintegration of Kashmir directly as a result of Pakistan’s nefarious activities and proxy war is not likely to end anytime soon.
Pakistan is once again recalibrating its hybrid war tactics in India’s northern-most State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). For nearly two decades, its proxy war in Kashmir was driven primarily by infiltration of trained terrorists into the Valley. With the onset of mobile-based internet apps and social media tools, it successfully scripted a new chapter on terrorist violence. Using e-Jihad to brainwash and convert the vulnerable youth, Pakistan has accelerated the dark spectre of radicalised homegrown insurgency. In a latest move, Pakistan has started to fund terror organisations by pushing narcotics and drug money into J&K and Punjab. And if recent disclosures by the Indian army and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the State’s health data are to go by, this strategy is directed not only to generate funds from within India to finance terrorism in the Valley, it is also gnawing away Kashmir’s youth from within.
In rare joint operations recently, conducted by the Army and the DRI, huge cache of drugs and arms, including an AK-56 rifle, 15 hand grenades, five pistols, 12 detonators of IEDs and 234 rounds of ammunition, were seized. The Afghan variety of drug is being pumped into Kashmir, via Pakistan, which is further pushed into Punjab via Jammu. Army intelligence sources are also said  to have established strong links between Kashmiri terrorists and drug trafficking in Punjab. The recent terror attack in Amritsar and the reported presence of Zakir Musa in the holy city is believed to be part of the same chain.
Media reports also suggest that Kashmiri farmers, especially in South Kashmir, are being forced into cultivating poppy to generate funds to finance street rage and terrorist violence. While the focus of the national media has largely been on drug abuse among the youth in Punjab, the scenario in J&K is no less frightening. According to the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), there are about 70,000 substance abusers present in the Valley, out of which 31 percent are women. According to addiction data published by the Government Psychiatric Hospital, Srinagar, around 90 percent drug abusers belong to the age group of 17-35.

Media reports also suggest that Kashmiri farmers, especially in South Kashmir, are being forced into cultivating poppy to generate funds to finance street rage and terrorist violence.
Given this sinister backdrop, it would be unwise to believe that this dangerous trend of drug abuse among the Kashmiri youth is only because of the socio-psychological impact of prolonged conflict, unemployment or family/social issues. There is obviously a much larger design to this growing menace that is damaging the already stressed social and moral fabric of the Valley.
It is time the political corridors in New Delhi and Srinagar, the separatists’ lobby and the Kashmiri society as a whole got serious and thought about the way forward — especially since most of the state responses to the changing face of terror in Kashmir have fallen well short of their objectives. If the count of body bags is taken as the sole indicator, counter-insurgency operations seem to be paying rich dividends in Kashmir. However, if the objective of the ‘bullet for bullet’ response of security agencies is to curb terrorism in the Valley by eliminating top commanders of militants’ groups, the strategy seems to have made not much difference. On the contrary, it has led to further alienation and created a fertile ground for ready terror recruitment. Despite eliminating nearly 240 terrorists in the current year so far, there is a constant flow of local boys being recruited to replace their fallen comrades. In 2018 alone (up to 10 November), nearly 175 local boys have been recruited. On the other hand, Pakistan-sponsored narco-terrorism seems to have changed the dimension of terrorism in the Valley and given a new lease of life to it. It is now further percolating to the border State of Punjab too. Media reports also indicate that up to 25 percent of narcotics being infiltrated into J&K is via Punjab.
It is time the political corridors in New Delhi and Srinagar, the separatists’ lobby and the Kashmiri society as a whole got serious and thought about the way forward — especially since most of the state responses to the changing face of terror in Kashmir have fallen well short of their objectives.
The J&K police, for the past couple of years, have red-flagged the growing threat of narco-terrorism. Former J&K DGP, S.P. Vaid, had reportedly remarked in July this year that the drug menace was a ‘bigger challenge’ than terrorism in the State and that contrabands were being “pumped from across the border” by people “who want our future generations to be addicted to drugs so that they can succeed in their nefarious ploys.” Last year, 70 kg of pure heroin was seized from the Valley, while over 25 kg of contraband was seized from Jammu — totally worth INR 500 crore in the international market. The State government has provided land to the police to set up a full-fledged de-addiction centre near Eidgah in Srinagar, but it is yet to adhere to the proposal to allocate land for a similar facility in Jammu. The State police have also planned to send a proposal to the Ministry of Home Affairs to allocate land for a 10-bedded de-addiction facility in all the districts of the State. While all these are sensible initial responses, they are largely reactive and defensive. The need of the hour, on the contrary, is launching a concerted and active offensive by the government to strike the problem at its roots and break the narcotics supply chain.
The history of terrorism in the Valley indicates that the social disintegration of Kashmir directly as a result of Pakistan’s nefarious activities and proxy war is not likely to end anytime soon. First, Kashmir lost its aborigines — the Hindu Pandits. Then it lost an entire generation to the gun culture. Now, Kashmir seems to be on the road to losing yet another generation to drug abuse.
Pakistan has constantly upgraded and calibrated its proxy and hybrid war strategy in Kashmir and challenged India’s internal security. The Indian government can no longer afford to be stuck on the backfoot to foil our neighbour’s evil designs.

US wants to ensure Pakistan doesn’t use IMF bailout to repay China and fights terrorism

The US wants to know how deep the China debt hole is for Pakistan, and is determined to prevent it from using the IMF bailout to pay off loans.
The US would like to see progress in combating terror financing and more cooperation on Afghanistan as conditions attached to the bailout package Pakistan has sought from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), along with transparency about its debts to China.
Terror financing and money laundering under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is a multilateral concern aligned with IMF’s mandate and Pakistan’s compliance is critical for the IMF bailout it has sought, a senior US official said on condition of anonymity.
In June, the FATF, a secretive watchdog, put Pakistan on its grey list of countries it monitors closely and works with to counter terror financing and money laundering.
“Transparency” about money Pakistan owes China will be a key condition too, the official said, reiterating the US position on the issue. Other US officials have also made clear the centrality of this issue, vowing to prevent Pakistan from using the bailout to pay off Chinese debt.
Another official sought to link the bailout to more cooperation from Pakistan in the Afghan peace process, something President Donald Trump personally pitched for in a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan. This official also spoke on background.
The list of proposed US conditions is long, reflecting wariness about Pakistan, which was once an ally against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan but has been hurtling from crisis to crisis for years. Most tellingly, for the Americans, it has become a near-rogue state that has typically not taken responsibility for its actions.
“They have had 18 IMF bailouts thus far,” said one of the two officials cited above, expressing exasperation. Pakistan has sought an IMF bailout of an estimated $8 billion to $12 billion and a decision is expected in January as negotiations are underway.
The US accounts for 17% of the IMF kitty of $475 billion, from which the Pakistan bailout will come if agreed on by all parties. As the top contributor, it can dictate terms and conditions, experts agree.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, for instance, made it clear in July when he said Pakistan won’t be allowed to use the bailout to pay off Chinese loans. This was reiterated by David Malpass, a senior treasury official, at a congressional hearing this past week.
Islamabad has accumulated a publicly undisclosed amount of loans from Beijing under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of the controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
This has come in for increased criticism around the world for predatory loans that have forced nations to cede territorial sovereignty in return for impossible debt servicing or repayment terms.
The US wants to know how deep the China debt hole is for Pakistan, and is determined to prevent it from using the IMF bailout to pay off loans.
Malpass told lawmakers the US is keen to change Pakistan’s economic programme – and not just offer it a rescue package – to make sure it does not fail again. Thus the multi-pronged approach.
Asked if Pakistan’s debts, FATF and Afghanistan could be the other conditions, a spokesperson for the US state department, which will be working with IMF on determining the bailout, said in a statement, “We have nothing to add on this, beyond what has already been said on the topic by USG officials.”
FATF compliance is a key issue for the Trump administration, which has taken a tough approach towards Pakistan’s reluctance to act decisively against terrorists operating from its soil, especially those battling US-led international forces in Afghanistan and those targeting India.
The administration has suspended $1.6 billion in security aid to Pakistani in 2018, following a stinging denouncement by Trump in a New Year tweet.
The US joined hands with European allies a few weeks later to push Paris-based FATF to grey list Pakistan, overcoming opposition from China and Turkey. According to officials, Beijing’s support was acquired in return for the vice-presidency of the 38-member body.
US treasury official Marshall Billingslea took over as president of the FATF in July for a one-year term, with Xiangmin Liu, a senior official of the Chinese central bank, as his deputy.
There have been reports in the Pakistani media that FATF is unhappy with progress in addressing concerns that led to the grey listing. FATF did not respond to a to a request for comment.
According to FATF reports about its last two plenary meetings, in June and October, Pakistan has given a “high-level commitment” to work on an action plan to address “its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies”.
Pakistan has committed itself to a 10-point action plan that will demonstrate terror financing risks are properly identified, assessed, and that supervision is applied on a risk-sensitive basis,
That will demonstrate that remedial actions and sanctions are applied in cases of money laundering and terror financing violations, and will demonstrate that competent authorities are cooperating and taking action to identify and take enforcement action against illegal money or value transfer services. Demonstrate that authorities are identifying cash couriers and enforcing controls on illicit movement of currency; improve inter-agency coordination on terror financing, demonstrate that law enforcement agencies are identifying and investigating the widest range of terror financing activities, and prosecutions target designated persons and entities; demonstrate that terror financing prosecutions result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions, and demonstrate effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions against all terrorists designated under UN Security Council resolutions 1267 and 1373.
There was no reaction from officials in New Delhi. However, people familiar with the developments said India and other Western countries were preparing to highlight Pakistan’s failure to crackdown on terror financing at an FATF review meeting next year.

آصف زرداری ہی کیوں؟

محمد سعید اظہر

سابق صدر مملکت اور پیپلز پارٹی کے شریک چیئرپرسن نے قریب قریب یکم
دسمبر سے 16؍ دسمبر تک جس قسم کے بیانات دیئے، جلسوں میں جو تقاریر کیں، میڈیا سے جو بات چیت ہوئی ان سب عناصر ترکیبی کی مجموعی صورتحال کو ’’حساس اشارات‘‘ کا عنوان دیا جا سکتا ہے، خطرناک ترین اشاراتی جملے بھی اس مجموعی صورتحال میں شامل ہیں۔سابق صدر کے ان حالیہ خیالات کے حوالے سے دانشوروں کے تجزیئے اپنی جگہ مگر پاکستان کی تاریخ ان دانشوروں کی اکثر تجزیوں کے ہمیشہ خلاف فیصلے دیتی رہی، آصف زرداری کی جرأت مندانہ سیاسی تاریخ بھی اسی تاریخی سچائی کی مظہر ہے۔
خاکسار کے ایک قاری کا خط آصف زرداری اور پیپلز پارٹی کے اس تاریخی پس منظر کی بہترین ترجمانی ہے۔ ملاحظہ فرمایئے:
قاری محمد ارشاد احمد کا کہنا ہے:بھٹو خاندان نے پاکستان اور عوام کی خاطر ہمیشہ فوج کو عزت دی، صرف اس لئے کہ جن لوگوں نے قائد عوام ذوالفقار علی بھٹو کو پھانسی دی، خدا نے دنیا میں ہی ان کا حساب برابر کر دیا تھا، ذوالفقار علی بھٹو سچا لیڈر تھا، قائداعظم محمد علی جناح کے پاکستان کی خدمت کرنا چاہتا تھا مگر بھٹو خاندان کو عالمی طاقتوں سے مل کر صرف اس لئے ختم کرنے کی کوششیں کی گئیں تاکہ پاکستان کے عوام اور ملک کبھی مضبوط نہ ہو سکیں۔ اس کے باوجود آج پیپلز پارٹی کی قیادت آصف علی زرداری کے پاس ہے اور 2018کے الیکشن کے بعد آج یہ جو جمہوریت موجود ہے وہ آصف علی زرداری کی وجہ سے ہے، آصف علی زرداری نے ہر طرح کی مشکلات کے باوجود پاکستان میں جمہوریت کا پودا دوبارہ لگایا، اس لئے کہ پاکستان میں جمہوریت مضبوط ہو۔
آصف علی زرداری جس دن سے بھٹو خاندان کا داماد بنا ہے انہیں پیپلز پارٹی کے ساتھ کام کرتے ہوئے کم از کم دو دہائیوں سے زائد کی مدت ہو چکی ہے۔ کون سا الزام تھا جو آصف علی زرداری پر نہیں لگایا گیا مگر اس کے باوجود 8برس سے زائد قید کاٹی اپنی بیگم بے نظیر شہید کا غم سہا۔ قید کے دوران مجید نظامی صاحب مرحوم نے مرد حُر کا خطاب دیا تھا، اس کے باوجود آج تک ایک الزام بھی عدالت میں ثابت نہیں ہوا، آصف علی زرداری کا قصور یہ ہے کہ وہ بھٹو خاندان کا داماد ہے اور پیپلز پارٹی اور عوام کی خدمت کرنا پاکستان کو مضبوط کرنا چاہتا ہے، وہ طاقتیں جنہوں نے ذوالفقار علی بھٹو اور بے نظیر بھٹو کو شہید کیا نہیں چاہتیں کہ پیپلز پارٹی اقتدار حاصل کرے اور عوام کی خدمت کرے، جن لوگوں نے ہمیشہ پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی کو نہ کبھی مکمل اقتدار دیا اور نہ عوام کی خدمت کرنے دی، جس طرح ذوالفقار علی بھٹو اور بے نظیر بھٹو چاہتے تھے، ان طاقتوں کی وجہ سے ہی ایک بار پھر آصف علی زرداری کو عدالتوں میں پیش ہو کر یہ بات ثابت کرنا پڑ رہی ہے کہ وہ واقعی پیپلز پارٹی اور عوام کی خدمت ہی کریں گے۔
ذوالفقار علی بھٹو اور بے نظیر بھٹو کے خلاف جو سازش ہوئی اس کی تفصیل بڑی بھیانک ہے۔ ماضی کے یہ واقعات یاد کرتے ہوئے ذہن میں خیال آتا ہے کہ سیاست دان کا نام گالی بنا دیا گیا مگر اس کا ذمہ دار کون؟ ذوالفقار علی بھٹو اور بے نظیر بھٹو تک کو غیر آئینی طریقے سے اقتدار سے ہٹایا گیا، ان کی آل اولاد کو کیا صلہ ملا، دیانتدار سیاست دانوں کے سلسلے کی آخری لڑی ذوالفقار علی بھٹو تھے۔ بے نظیر بھٹو شہید نے مشکل حالات کا مقابلہ کرنے کے باوجود جمہوریت کی خاطر جان کی قربانی دی۔
آصف علی زرداری نے مشکل حالات میں جس طرح جمہوریت کو مضبوط کیا اس وقت کوئی اور لیڈر نہ تھا جس نے پاکستان کو مضبوط کرنے کی خاطر دوست ملکوں سے دوستی کی ہو، کیا آصف علی زرداری نے ایران، افغانستان، چین اور روس کے ساتھ اچھے تعلقات نہیں بنائے تھے جن کی وجہ سے پاکستان کو مشکلات سے نکالا گیا اور دہشت گردوں کو شکست دی گئی، آصف علی زرداری کا یہ کارنامہ کم ہے کہ پہلی دفعہ اقتدار جمہوریت کے اصولوں کے مطابق منتقل کیا۔ حسن نثار صاحب کے وہ لفظ یاد کریں جس میں انہوں نے سی پیک کا تجزیہ کرتے ہوئے لکھا تھا کہ یہ آصف علی زرداری کا لگایا ہوا پودا ہے، سی پیک کے لئے آصف علی زرداری نے چین کے 9دورے کئے۔ 19دسمبر 2010کے دورہ کے موقع پر چین کے وزیراعظم کے ساتھ اسٹرٹیجک شراکت داری کے اربوں ڈالر کے 37معاہدے دیگر شعبوں سے متعلق تھے، یہ آصف علی زرداری کا کارنامہ تھا۔