Sunday, February 17, 2019

Video Report - Can a full-blown crisis between India and Pakistan be averted?

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Pakistan's flag is Google's top result for 'the best toilet paper in the world.' Here's why

Pakistan flag is Google's answer to “best toilet paper in the world”. That's right, image search results for the query “best toilet paper in the world” shows pictures of the Pakistan national flag.
Social media was ablaze with screenshots of the search engine displaying images of the Pakistan flag and soon #besttoiletpaperintheworld was trending on Twitter.
The Google image search result popped up two days after the terror attack on a CRPF convoy that killed 40 jawans in Lethpora in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. It was the deadliest terror attack on security personnel in the state in recent times.

I think its funny, In #India Open defecation is the practice of people defecating outside and not into a designated toilet,I don't think poor Indians even use toilet paper.

“New Era” in Saudi-Pak relations

Pakistan is the first stop on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s journey to Malaysia, Indonesia and India. A handout by the PTI government claims that, in addition to the US$6 B deposit and deferred oil facility earlier granted to Islamabad, MBS will now commit tens of billions of Saudi dollars to investments in “finance, power, petro-chemicals, renewable energy, internal security, media, culture and sports”. The government is suggesting that this Saudi largesse is a reward for PM Imran Khan’s attendance of the Global Future Investment Conference in Riyadh – “Davos in the Desert” – hosted by MBS last October that was boycotted by leading Western countries critical of the “Khashoggi affair”. While local media glare is focused on the planeloads of security personnel and equipment accompanying MBS, the grand purpose of his strategic mission is largely absent from discussions of his whirlwind tour.
FM Shah Mahmud Qureshi is crowing about a “new era” in Saudi-Pak relations. This is precious coming from him. It may be recalled that Saudi-Pak relations – which have historically always been good – plunged following a refusal by Pakistan’s parliament to commit warships, aircraft and troops in April 2015 to the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. The shrill opposition was led by Imran Khan’s PTI. It was averse to any Saudi attempt to prop up Nawaz Sharif as a quid pro quo for helping it at a time when the PTI was trying to topple him. We may also recall the bitterly angry response from a senior UAE minister acting as a proxy for Riyadh, the same UAE that has now coughed up a hefty deposit and oil facility for Pakistan. No wonder Mr Qureshi has been equally quick to stress that the PTI government is not committing any military assistance to the Saudis in Yemen. So what’s the new glue that is going to bind Riyadh and Islamabad together?
MBS’s political and economic reform agenda for Saudi Arabia was on track until it was buffeted by an attempted assassination scare at home, followed by the Khashoggi affair that left him bruised and isolated in much of the Western world. Talk of Western sanctions and US Congressional hostility prompted him to hit back with “a laundry list of potential Saudi responses” via media proxies. President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the conflict in Syria, in which Riyadh is heavily invested, reinforced the realization that security dependency on the West and further investment in its economies, should end. The “shift” has manifested itself with several trips to Moscow, including negotiations to buy Russia’s advanced S-400 anti-aircraft missile defense system and acquisition of 16 Russian nuclear reactors worth $80B with minimal safeguards for Uranium enrichment and reprocessing of spent fuel. Russia’s Direct Investment Fund is also negotiating deals in oil refining, petrochemicals, gas chemicals and oilfield services with Riyadh. In turn Saudi companies are signing up to invest up to $15b in Russian infrastructure, agriculture, high-tech, energy, mining and LNG. At the end of the “Davos in the Desert” conference attended by a 40-strong Russian delegation and boycotted by leading CEOs of Western companies, a bitter MBS is said to have remarked: “Now we know who our best friends are and who are best enemies are!”
The ball is now in the court of political parties, the parliament, media organisations and civil society organisations. For far too long, political governments have bent over backwards to woo anti-democratic forces for elusive political stability
Prince Mohammad is now seeking to spread Saudi economic and military interests in diverse non-Western sources where prospects are good – hence this “valedictory” trip to Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and India. Interestingly, the Saudi list of investment projects in Russia reads much like the proposed list for Pakistan. The Saudis and Pakistanis are both keen to scuttle the Chahbahar Port project in Iran, the former to undermine Iran’s oil exporting capacity and the latter to deny India any direct access to Afghanistan. The proposed Saudi Oil refinery in Gwadar along with investments in supply pipelines are aimed at locking Pakistan into Saudi oil supplies and weaning it away from Iranian oil and Qatar gas. Pakistan’s military is also likely to get more deeply involved in Riyadh’s internal security in general and MBS’s personal protection in particular. It is lining up to export missiles and aircraft, enhancing technology transfers and training Saudis in state-of-the-art weapons usage. MBS’s presence in Islamabad could also iron out snags in a proposed political deal between the Miltablishment and Nawaz Sharif aimed at securing the PTI government’s stability.
The list of proposed Saudi Investment projects in Pakistan include the subjects of “media and culture”. We note that present and past Saudi Ambassadors to Islamabad have started to articulate their opinion in the local press. Western media reports that MBS’s media ambitions are assuming global proportions in line with his drive for new sources of security and legitimacy. Is it any wonder then that Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad is threatening new laws to curb social media as if regular “disappearances”, police cases against critics, constant press “advice” on dos and don’ts for TV Channels, discriminatory advertisement policies and continuous pressure on cable distributors to block offenders, are not enough restrictions on free speech already?
By Najam Sethi

#PulwamaTerrorAttacks - Suicidal Pakistan should know Modi may not be scared of its nuclear button


Pakistan has taken too much of a chance with Pulwama — with the wrong government in India, and at the wrong time.

Noted American scholar on South Asia, Stephen P. Cohen, has a genius description for Pakistani strategic thought. Pakistan, he says, negotiates with the world by holding the gun to its own head: Give me what I want, or I will blow my brains out. You then handle the mess. Has Pakistan pulled that trigger in Pulwama?
First, get any notion that this was a purely indigenous act of terror out of the way. The suicide terrorist was a radicalised Indian Kashmiri. But count the reasons why this couldn’t be an entirely Indian planned and executed operation:
*Jaish-e-Mohammed has claimed responsibility. It is purely a Pakistan-based and ISI-controlled organisation.
*While radicalisation and motivation can be local, there is zero evidence that this volume of high explosive (most likely RDX or RDX-mixed) is available with usually amateurish local groups, along with skills to rig the trigger-timer mechanism.
*See that last video the bomber recorded. He is reading pre-written text from a board placed in front, or cards held by someone. The language isn’t so much about Kashmiri grievances or revenge, as to instigate Muslims in the rest of India. Babri Masjid and Gujarat are invoked, and “all our Muslims” exhorted to rise in revolt against “cow-urine drinkers”. This is precisely how Jaish, even more than Lashkar-e-Taiba, thinks. Not local Kashmiris.
This action fits perfectly the pattern set by Jaish in the past. The suicide bombing of the state assembly in Srinagar in 2001, the attack on Parliament later the same year, raids on Pathankot and Gurdaspur, have all had the same objective: To somehow take the terror fallout beyond Kashmir. Lashkar did so in Mumbai (26/11) too, but much of its energy and manpower is still used in fighting in Kashmir. Under global pressure, it is also being mainstreamed by its GHQ patrons into Pakistani politics. Jaish, much smaller but enormously more vicious, resourceful and an ISI favourite, is more selective with “impact” attacks.
How resourceful Jaish is, we know from the IC-814 hijack. It could get an Indian plane hijacked from Kathmandu and taken to safe harbour in Kandahar to trade hostages for its key leaders jailed in India. It’s been established repeatedly in subsequent research that every step in that hijack, from facilitation in Kathmandu to negotiations in Kandahar using the Taliban, and then safe “recovery” of released Jaish chief Masood Azhar and others, was overseen by the ISI.
To the Pakistani establishment and ISI, Azhar and Jaish are much bigger assets than even Lashkar and Hafiz Saeed. Jaish is their main force-multiplier. The Chinese also acknowledge it, which is the reason they are shamelessly complicit in protecting him.
That this terrorist was a local Kashmiri is no surprise. In each of its actions so far, including IC-814, Parliament and other attacks, Jaish has had key participation of Indian Kashmiris. Afzal Guru, remember, was Indian. Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, one of the other two jailed terrorists traded for IC-814 passengers, was Kashmiri. We have enough evidence, therefore, to stop wasting time in local, root-cause theories and giving Pakistan any deniability, however implausible.
Why do we raise that question: Has Pakistan finally pulled that trigger on its own head? Because, all the earlier Jaish and Lashkar attacks passed without a publicised retaliation, although we know about some secret “surgical strikes” in the past. Between Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh, India was able to ride out the moments of anger with coercive diplomacy, global pressure on Pakistan and a strategic mindset that was fundamentally pacifist, and believed in responding no more than proportionately to any provocation.
The Modi government has no such pretence. It holds both Manmohan and Vajpayee and other governments of the past in contempt for what it sees as their “pusillanimity”. Further, having made such noise and political capital from the post-Uri surgical strikes, there is no way it is going to be able to hold fire or restrain itself for long. Pakistan has it coming. Where, how, when, nobody knows. But it can’t be long.
A retaliatory response could come soon. It will also be visible, high-decibel and wrapped in claims of victorious retribution. India is in the early days of its most vicious election campaign yet. Narendra Modi will not go seeking a second term with the taint of Pulwama.
It will then be for Pakistan to decide whether to leave it there, or respond to its own popular compulsions to begin a retaliatory cycle. It could, besides whatever happens militarily, end this tenure of Imran Khan. History tells us no Pakistani leader can go to war, big or small, with India and survive. Ayub Khan (1965), Yahya Khan (1971) and Nawaz Sharif (Kargil, 1999) tell us that. Three instances, as we say in journalism, is a straight line.
There can’t be much argument over the essential reality of Pakistan: That Imran will not have a decisive say in what happens next. He might ultimately pay for the army/ISI bullheadedness as Nawaz did for Kargil, and he will need enormous skill and luck not to become that scapegoat. No elected prime minister has the final word on such issues in Pakistan and Imran, if anything, is among the weakest in some time. The call to engage in an immediate escalatory cycle or not, will be his army’s. Could he even counsel them against it, we can’t be sure. They will decide whether to blow their brains out or not. He’s a loser either way.
Besides the difference between Modi and his predecessors, there are two other important distinctions now. One, that it is a world radically different from what we left behind in 2008 (26/11) or 2001-02 (J&K assembly and Parliament attacks). Then, top American and European leaders would come flying in, heads of states would make phone calls, Russia and China would all weigh in to calm things down, calm and reassure Indian public opinion by expressing solidarity with us and condemning Pakistan.
That world doesn’t exist anymore. It unravelled the day Donald Trump was elected and kept his promise of making America great again by withdrawing and leaving the rest of the world to its own devices. If stuff hits the fan in the subcontinent now, he may not even bother tweeting restraint immediately. The modern world’s oldest antagonists can set their region on fire now, without the comfort of the American/global fire truck waiting at our door.
This has also diminished, if not eliminated the subcontinent’s old leverage with the world: Come and stop us or we will nuke each other. Trump may be the one we blame, but there is generally a wariness about the region holding the world to ransom after claiming to be responsible nuclear weapons powers.
Of course, it applies much more to Pakistan than India. Because, in the subcontinent, the nukes are the preferred weapon of the weaker power, the likely loser. Beginning with V.P. Singh’s spineless year in 1990, Pakistan has used the nuclear deterrent entirely to its own advantage, keeping its provocations within that threshold, ruling out any sizeable retaliation from India. Obsession with tactical nukes tells us that the Pakistanis have probably not reviewed that position. If they haven’t, they will get a disastrous surprise. This Indian establishment no longer sees nukes as only one side’s deterrence. If you take chances with it, and that too in election weeks, you might as well have pulled that trigger.


Saudi Crown Prince Pakistan visit has failed prior to its start today due to intensified tension in the wake of reaction of Indian government to Pulwama attack and Iranian government reaction to Zahedan attack.
Analysts believe that it was Indian reaction to Pulwama that forced Saudi Crown Prince to reschedule the visit from Saturday to Sunday. Second, the business to business meeting between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia has been cancelled.

Saudi Kingdom prefers India to Pakistan and Saudi relations with India are much larger as compared to Pakistan. Hence, it remains to be seen if Saudi Crown Prince MBS will do anything to benefit of Pakistan at the cost of India or not.

On the other hand, Iranian officials have accused Saudi Arabia and UAE of having been involved in terrorist attacks inside Iran and an Iranian top general announced tit-for-tat response to these two countries whom Pakistan is strengthening its relations while the both GCC countries publicly vowed measures against Iran.
Therefore, Pakistani nation doesn’t see positive impacts of MBS Pakistan visit and majority believes that Saudis would again drag Pakistan into Afghan war-like game whose fallouts still chase Pakistan.

Iran summons Pakistan's envoy over deadly suicide bomb attack

Iran has summoned the Pakistani ambassador to protest about a suicide bombing that killed 27 of its elite Revolutionary Guards near the border earlier this week, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Sunday.
The Sunni group Jaish al Adl (Army of Justice), which says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for the ethnic minority Baluchis, claimed responsibility for the attack on Wednesday.
Iran says militant groups operate from safe havens in Pakistan and have repeatedly called on the neighboring country to crack down on them.