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Indo-Pakistan & Indo-China flare-up

Indo-Pakistan & Indo-China flare-up

Part-1

Asif Haroon Raja

Indo-Pakistan antagonism

India and Pakistan became independent countries in 1947 but India till to-date has not reconciled to Pakistan’s existence. Kashmir which was left behind by the outgoing British as an unfinished agenda of Partition has remained a bone of contention and has bedeviled their relations. India has been defying UN resolutions giving right of self-determination to the Kashmiris on one pretext or the other for the last 72 years. Each and every Pakistani leader extended a hand of friendship but was spurned by India.

The already tense and strained relations between the two arch rivals flared up after India blatantly abrogated Articles 370 and 35A of Indian Constitution on 5 August and made the disputed Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) integral part of India. Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh were declared as the two newly created Indian Union Territories.

What it implied was conversion of Line of Control (LoC) in J&K and Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh into permanent borders. Both Pakistan and China rejected India’s claim saying it is in complete disregard of the UN resolutions and international and bilateral agreements. New Delhi, however, hastened to state that the new arrangement didn’t affect the status of LAC with China.

Fascist and Hindutva loving Narendra Modi couldn’t have gambled to take this perilous step to annoy two nuclear powers in its immediate neighborhood without a wink from USA and Israel, both having their axes to grind. He had already taken on board Arab Gulf States.

Modi couldn’t have locked down 9 million Kashmiris in IOK for 10 months and subjected them to horrendous oppression without the support of his patrons. Promulgation of anti-Muslim Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and NRC law in December 2019 followed by new domicile law to change the demography of Muslim dominated IOK were part of the bigger design.

Megalomaniac Modi’s madness didn’t end here. India’s civil and military leaders started hurling threats of annexing Azad J&K (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). A new map was circulated showing AJK-GB part of India, and Aksai Chin in occupation of China, as part of Ladakh. Taking into account the Indian force level of 950,000 regular and paramilitary forces in IOK, the threats carried weight.

The chain of events taking place in quick succession following the subjugation of IOK were part of the overall game plan conceived by Indo-US-Israeli nexus to place India at a higher pedestal in the region.   

Reasons which impelled Modi to initiate risk-filled acts:

  • Pakistan couldn’t be denuclearized; conversely, it managed to keep its missile and nuclear programs safe and secure and further fortified them.
  • Plans to bleed, demoralize and exhaust Pak Army and paramilitary forces through massive covert war backfired and the Army emerged more strong and robust.
  • Billions of dollars spent on the proxies and propaganda war to destabilse and discredit Pakistan were washed out after Pak Army, Frontier Corps and Sindh Rangers managed to break the spine of foreign funded terrorist groups operating in FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and urban Sindh.
  • Fencing of western border and now the southern border on fast track by Pak Army have given a lethal blow to RAW-NDS sponsored cross border terrorism from Afghanistan and Iran.
  • Afghanistan where India has invested $ 3 billion so as to consolidate its influence and to pose a twin threat to Pakistan’s security has almost slipped out of its hands since Taliban’s return to power is a foregone conclusion.
  • Noting the ever rising fervor of freedom movement in IOK, it had become clear that sooner than latter Kashmir, which India had illegally annexed in October 1947, will breakaway. 700,000 occupation forces deployed in the Kashmir Valley since 1990 couldn’t extinguish the flame of liberty. This was exceedingly worrisome for Indian leadership.
  • Unlike the pliant regimes of PPP and PML-N that could be easily swayed or pressured by US and India, the incumbent regime led by Imran Khan is not pursuing an outright policy of appeasement, and is repeatedly naming Modi regime as fascist and racist regime which is anti-peace with expansionist designs.
  • CPEC which is the flagship project of China’s Belt-and-Road-Initiative (BRI) has shaken the global ambitions of USA, Israel and India wanting to dominate the world. CPEC has not only welded together China and Pakistan as iron brothers, but has opened avenues for China to become the leading economic power of the world and for Pakistan to become self-reliant. This is unacceptable to the Indo-US-Israel nexus.
  • The US is desperate to pullout from Afghanistan safely where it spent over $2 trillion without achieving any of its objectives. It is also keen to retain a toehold in the country, or else establish a military base in the near vicinity. Ladakh as a base fits the bill wherefrom it can easily monitor China, Iran, Pakistan and Middle East. The three strategic partners are nurturing this wish.
  • Failing to subdue Pakistan through bloody proxy war, low intensity conflict along the LoC, and water terrorism, and then failing to disrupt development of CPEC through acts of terrorism, or to spoil China-Pakistan relations through propaganda war, India schemed to absorb whole of J&K in two or three phases in line with Gen Bipen Rawat’s policy of limited war.
  • GB has more value for India since its seizure is the only other way out left to block CPEC, which originates from Kashgar in China and enters Pakistan at Khunjarab in GB. Another sour point for India is Pakistan’s plan to build Diamir-Bhasha dam in GB as part of CPEC project, which will be detrimental to India’s plan to make Pakistan water scarce. India has built 24 water storage dams on three rivers flowing into Pakistan from IOK.
  • Allowing USA and Israel to establish military bases in Ladakh and making it a strong military garrison will not only ward off threat from China to Ladakh, but Ladakh will also provide shortest and only route to India to approach GB, scuttle CPEC, and pave way for taking back Aksai Chin.
  • With GB in the bag of India, Pakistan-China contiguity will get dislocated.
  • Another possible reason of abrogating the special status of IOK was to provoke Pakistan to launch an offensive across the LoC, as it had provoked Gen Yahya to declare war against India on the western front on 3 December 1971, thereby allowing India to once again declare Pakistan an aggressor and itself a victim of aggression, and after gaining sympathies of the world, launch counter offensive in GB-AJK.
  • Last but not least, both the US and Israel have been baiting and goading India to lock horns with both Pakistan and China by playing upon boastful India’s penchant to become a global power. Both have been milking India by selling most expensive armaments.

India calculatedly upped the ante

With these considerations in view, India first carried out a false flag operation in Pathankot on 14 February 2019, in which 40 Indian CRPF soldiers were sacrificed. India backed by USA and some European nations promptly blamed Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Pakistan. Purpose was to garner Hindu votes for Modi’s re-election in May 2019 by fomenting war hysteria against Pakistan, defaming Kashmiri freedom struggle, preparing grounds for blacklisting Pakistan by FATF, and above all creating justification for launching a surgical strike.

On 22 February, twelve Indian Mirage-2000 took part in the air intrusion on an imaginary hideout of JeM in Balakot to avenge the deaths of Indian soldiers. Vigilance and forceful chase by PAF jets forced the intruders to fly back in panic and hastily drop 3 Israeli supplied Spike missiles in a deserted hillock causing no damage.

Pakistan’s befitting response

Although Indian mission was a complete failure, PAF gave a befitting response on the night of 26 February. The attacking jets locked three high value targets (Command HQ, Brigade HQ, ammunition dump) deep inside IOK, but under the policy of restraint, hit vacant areas in close vicinity of intended targets. Gen Rawat survived by the skin of his teeth, but a loud message was conveyed not to mess with nuclear Pakistan.

These strikes were followed by an air duel on 27th morning in which PAF jets struck down one Su-30 flown by Israeli pilot and one MiG-21 flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan of IAF and captured the latter after he ejected. Another Indian helicopter with its crew was downed by panicky Indian air defence.

Pakistan also responded to India’s plan to strike 8 targets inside Pakistan by Brahmo cruise missiles by deploying its missiles to hit 16 Indian cities. It took the heat out of Indian jingoism and temporarily broke the escalating cycle of violence.

Amalgamation of IOK by India

Notwithstanding the series of humiliating setbacks suffered by India, Modi’s re-election once again pumped him up to implement his fascist agenda which he couldn’t accomplish in his first term.

What encouraged ultra-supremacist Modi to change the status of IOK, maintain aggressive posture along the LoC in J&K, to continue brutally oppressing Kashmiris in IOK in contravention of 4th Geneva Convention, refuse to lift curfew in spite of the Covid-19 and mounting world pressure was his hope that he will be able to deflate the spirits of freedom fighters in 4-6 months by killing Kashmiri leaders, putting young boys in torture cells, raping women, jailing all political leaders, closing down their shops and businesses, and disrupting phones, TV and internet.

The other reason which comforted him was the raised troop level to 9,50,000, enabling Indian Northern Command (INC) to enforce lockdown with impunity, maintain defensive balance and have sufficient forces for offensives in GB and AJK at an opportune time.

While snatching the special status of IOK, Modi either discounted the Chinese factor, or was assured by his benefactors that China would not react due to its contracting economy for the first time in last 40 years, brewing tension in South China Sea, USA backed Taiwan reiterating its independent status, trade war with USA, the US recognizing Tibet as independent state, Trump blaming China for spreading Covid-19, and threatening to cut all ties, CIA sponsored protests of liberals in Hong Kong (HK) funded by National Endowment for Democracy based in Washington, and Trump’s pledge to revoke special status of HK in reaction to new extradition bill for criminals promulgated by Beijing.

 

 

Map Courtesy:Pakistan Defence

 

 

What emboldened Modi to absorb IOK was Pakistan’s frail economic conditions together with internal political polarization. He saw it as an opportunity to exploit and seize the moment. 

The other possibility that cannot be ruled out is that in case current corona pandemic is US inspired and was China centric, it would have been assumed by the trio that China would be too engrossed in fighting the virus and will have little heart for any external adventure.

The US having declared China as its number one enemy is otherwise clamoring to emasculate China by stunting its economic and military growth through pampered India bloated as a counterweight to China and pivot of Indo-Pacific region.

With Ladakh under its belt, it became easier for Indian INC to execute a military operation in GB and annex if not whole, at least part of it through which CPEC passes. There would be still enough forces to undertake one main and two auxiliary efforts in AJK.

Indian military had stepped into Siachin Glacier in 1984 with an eye on GB and to monitor Karakorum Highway. RAW has been using that platform to stir political trouble in GB with the help of Balwaristan movement.

To undertake an offensive in GB, Indian military speeded up construction of 260 km long road along Shyok River to connect it with Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) near Karakorum Pass in last October under the plea that it was well inside the LAC. DBO, situated 8 miles away from Karakorum Pass was upgraded from a company-size post into a brigade-size military garrison with an airbase in 2019. This is what alarmed and spurred China to defeat India’s dangerous designs before it was too late.  

To be continued

Author

Brig.Gen(Retd)Asif Haroon Raja

The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, former Defence Attaché’ and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches’ in Cairo, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Center, Member CWC PESS and of Veterans Think Tank, and Member Council TJP. asifharoonraja@gmail.com  

 

To be continued

 

The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, former Defence Attaché’ and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches’ in Cairo, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Center, Member CWC PESS and of Veterans Think Tank, and Member Council TJP. asifharoonraja@gmail.com  

 

 

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Indian liberalism is a historical myth that must be countered if we want to understand our society

Indian liberalism is a historical myth that must be countered if we want to understand our society

We continue to believe that what is happening today is simply an aberration and long to return to a past that did not exist.

Mar 09, 2020 · 06:30 am

Sanjay Srivastava

The last few years have been particularly noticeable for remembering dead and ageing parents. Not just any common garden variety ones, of course, but a very specific kind. These are the parents who, apparently, bequeathed a tolerant, liberal and non-majoritarian India to their children. They embraced religious diversity, resisted various forms of bigotry and promoted the values of constitutional morality. They instilled in their progeny the importance of imagining a post-colonial republic where differences of class, caste, religion and ethnicity would be unequivocally erased.

In media articles and social media outpourings, these parents – narrators of a tryst with destiny – are sorely missed. Over the past six years, everything that the immediate ancestors dreamt of has been, apparently, upturned. In around half a decade, centuries of Indian tolerance – the aforementioned parents being its clearest exemplars – has been wiped out.

The romance of Indian liberalism, fed by the ever-nourishing rivers of historical myth-making of recent origin, needs to be countered if we are ever to undertake the task of taking a good hard look at ourselves – and our parents. Liberal ancestor worship does not serve us well. It certainly does not allow for an understanding of the nature of Indian society either over the longue durèe or in the recent past.

The good Muslim syndrome

The most fundamental aspect of our recent past is that our parents were not particularly committed to the values of religious tolerance that they are frequently credited with as a pre-Modi phenomenon. Their relationship with their Muslim co-citizens was premised on a specific set of circumstances.

Firstly, it had to do with Muslims “knowing their place”. Muslims were to act as mascots of Hindu India’s tolerant culture, rather than exercise an identity that might assert equality with members of the majority community. This was the condition of Hindu contextualism where “secular India” was deeply rooted in the values and public symbolism of Hinduism. Our public functions began (and still begin) with lighting lamps, ships were launched by breaking coconuts and we sang (and now sing with greater fervour) Sanskrit hymns at various national occasions as if these were areligious markers of post-colonial identity.

That is the world our parents grew up in and subscribed to: the “good Muslim” was the one who knew his or her place in a society marked by Hindu contextualism. Even Nehru, perhaps one of the very few who might have understood the meaning of genuine multiculturalism, was not able to counter these tendencies.

Eliding caste

Secondly, there was no India of our parent’s generation that seriously engaged with the caste question. Rather, if we have now come to believe that our parents decried casteism – and that its resurgence is linked to the break-down of their culture of liberalism – this is an entirely spurious view, nurtured by a very Indian culture of filial obligation.

Men and women of an earlier generation – the first and second generation of post-Independence parents – were as deeply casteist as their apparent antithetical contemporary counterparts. What was true of the earlier generation was that – like the Left parties – they pronounced that “in their circles” caste was not a problem.

There is a very common refrain among many now in their seventies and eighties that as school-going students, they had no idea about the caste of their fellow students. This does not, of course, prove that India of the 1950s and ’60s was not marked by caste hierarchies. Rather that in our parents’ generation, there was no occasion for encountering it as those among whom they moved were uniformly upper-caste. The comforts of caste-homogenous social circles ensured that there was no necessity of thinking about caste as a problem. This might only have been the case if different castes encountered each other in the same social milieu.

A soft bigotry

The fact of the matter is that neither was our parents’ time one of a golden age of tolerance and constitutional morality nor is it the case that we have now – in a space of six years! – dramatically changed. The first perspective is misplaced filial obligation and the second is a simplistic understanding of social and cultural change.

Our parents practised bigotry of a quiet sort, one that did not require the loud proclamations that are the norm now. Muslims and the lower castes knew their place and the structures of social and economic authority were not under threat. This does not necessarily translate into a tolerant generation. Rather, it was a generation whose attitudes towards religion and caste was never really tested.

The loud bigotry of our times is no great break from the past in terms of a dramatic change in attitudes – is it really possible that such changes can take place in such few years? Rather, it is the crumbling of the veneer of tolerance against those who once knew their place but no longer wish to accept that position.

The great problem with all this is that we continue to believe that what is happening today is simply an aberration and that we will, when the nightmare is over, return to the Utopia that was once ours. However, it isn’t possible to return to the past that was never there. It will only lead to an even darker future. And, filial affection is no antidote for it.

Courtesy -@Scroll.in

 

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Overview of the recent history of Sudan

Overview of the recent history of Sudan

Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

General spectrum

Sudan had remained a colony of the British for 56 years after which it gained independence on January 1, 1956. Located in northeastern Africa, it shares a border with Egypt to the north, Libya to the northwest, Eritrea and Chad to the east, Central African Union to the southwest, and Chad to the west. The Red Sea is in the southeast. After the independence of South Sudan in 2011, that part has also become its 7th neighbour in the south. Sudan has had troubled relations with many of its neighbours. The internal security situation of all the neighbours of Sudan is far from satisfactory.

Sudan is a huge country between Northern and Central Africa which, prior to the independence of South Sudan, was the continent’s largest country. Its position has long drawn the attention of outsiders, and once facilitated the birth of powerful empires and city-states. Since declaring independence from the United Kingdom, Sudan has struggled to manage its expansive territories and ethnic-regional divisions. Khartoum, the country’s capital, can be viewed as a relatively isolated city-state that must command the vast spaces and people that surround it. Such a mentality helps explain Khartoum’s disastrous management of the country’s various rebellions and insurrections.

Until recently, the country’s leadership has preferred to adopt a belligerent approach to dealing with the country’s many outstanding conflicts. Since Sudan’s borders do not fully align with its various ethnic groups, its internal ethnic conflicts have fueled regional conflict as well. Ethnic groups in the western Darfur region spill over into neighbouring Chad, driving the two countries to wage proxy warfare against each other for years by arming and financing rebels’ intent on revolution.

Sudan’s proximity to the Middle East — as well as the application of Sharia by Jafar Numeri and its cultural and religious makeup — allowed it to build ties with powers there. After Osama bin Laden was banished by Saudi Arabia, he had stayed in Sudan under Gen. Omer Al-Bashir before shifting to Afghanistan in early 1991. Thereon Sudan was kept under close watch. Sudan has been viewed by USA and Egypt as extremely important to their interests in Africa and the Middle East.

First military rule. The British Parliamentary democracy in Sudan lasted until November 17, 1958, after which a group of army officers, headed by Lt Gen Ibrahim Abid established a military regime and dissolved all political parties. This regime was overthrown in the wake of the October 21 Revolution in 1964. The new government reverted to the multi-party system, but this arrangement lasted for only five years.

Rule of Jafar Numeri

Once again a group of 9 military officers led by Col Jafar Numeri proclaimed a new revolution on May 25, 1969, and outlawed all political groups. He ended the civil war in South Sudan raging since 1955 after he conceded measure of autonomy to the southern province in 1972. Southern Sudan with its capital at Juba, populated by animists and Christians held a grievance that it was marginalized by North Sudan. Christian Churches and Monks in South Sudan treated the animists as Christians and kept up with their efforts to Christianize them. Once the oil was discovered in 1978 in South Sudan, Numeri hastened to redraw provincial boundaries so as to place oilfields under the effective control of the Central Government.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Economic heart-burnings of the Southerners against Northerners, Sharia laws, abolishing of South Sudan’s autonomy and redrawing of boundaries by Numeri led to the second civil war in South Sudan in 1983. Col John Garang belonging to South Sudan and a Christian led the SPLM insurgency. Neighboring Ethiopia extended support and sanctuaries to SPLA and became a conduit for the supply of arms to the rebels wanting to make oil-rich South Sudan independent.

Numeri was deposed in a coup in April 1985 by Defence Minister Gen. Abdul Rahman. He was also C-in-C armed forces and had been appointed by Numeri a month earlier. He went into exile to Egypt and returned in 1999 to take part in 2000 presidential elections but lost. He died on May 30, 2009.

Rule of Gen Omar El-Bashir

Gen Omar Bashir seized power in 1989 after he led a successful coup against Gen Rahman and the elected, but increasingly unpopular, prime minister of the time, Sadiq al-Mahdi. (Mahdi had served as elected PM from 1966 to 1967, and 1986 to 1989). The country ruled by Gen Bashir remained at war in the South for over two decades and also had to contend with the foreign supported tribal war in the western state of Darfur in 2003 and the two southern states of Kordufan and Blue Nile in 2011.

Division of Sudan

The peace agreement with SPLM ended the civil war in South Sudan in 2005. Autonomy was granted and a pledge for holding a referendum on independence in next 6 years was given. John Garang was sworn in as Vice President and a new constitution framed. However, Garang couldn’t enjoy the fruits of power and he died in a plane crash in August 2005. Salva Kiir Mayardi succeeded him. In October that year, an autonomous government was formed in South Sudan with Juba as its capital. In the referendum held in January 2011, the southerners opted for full independence.

With lingering rebellion in the three states, together with Gen Omer al-Bashir getting indicted for war crimes against humanity by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Darfur had left little room for Bashir to obstruct or delay the division of the county in July 2011.

Sudan’s economyIt became weaker after Omer al-Bashir ascended to power. The economy became increasingly turbulent following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, which, up until then, had represented an important source of foreign currency, because of its oil output. The devaluation of the Sudanese pound in October 2018 led to wildly fluctuating exchange rates and a shortage of cash in circulation. Removal of wheat and electricity subsidies at the behest of IMF hit the lower classes badly. Long queues for basic goods such as petrol, bread, as well as cash from ATMs became a common sight. Sudan has around 70% inflation, second only to Venezuela.

The downfall of Gen. Omer al-Bashir

On 19 December 2018, a series of demonstrations broke out in several Sudanese cities, due in part to rising costs of living and deterioration of economic conditions at all levels of society. The protests quickly turned from demands for urgent economic reforms into demands for President Gen. Omer al-Bashir to step down.

In January 2018, large protests started on the streets of Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, in opposition to the rising prices of the basic goods including bread. The protests grew quickly and found support from different opposition parties. Youth and women’s movements also joined the protests.

In August 2018, the National Congress Party (NCP) backed Gen. Bashir’s 2020 presidential run, despite his increasing unpopularity and his previous declaration that he would not run in the upcoming elections. These measures led to rising opposition from within the party calling for respect of the constitution, which prevented Gen. Bashir from being reelected. Sudanese activists reacted on social media and called for a campaign against his nomination.

On 22 February 2019, Gen. Bashir declared a yearlong state of national emergency and dissolved the national and regional governments, replacing the latter with military and intelligence-service officers. The next day he appointed his chosen successor, Mohamed Tahir Ayala, as Prime Minister and former intelligence chief and Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf as first Vice President.

Amid Sudan’s ongoing economic crisis, President Bashir reshuffled the government twice and the ruling NCP endorsed him to run for another term in 2020. Sudan made no meaningful measures to provide accountability for past or current abuses in conflict zones or other serious human rights violations. It didn’t cooperate with biased ICC which had levied charges against the president and four other men, of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur.

The protests reached a climax on 6 April, when demonstrators occupied the square in front of the military’s headquarters to demand that the army force the president out.

On the weekend of 6–7 April, there were massive protests for the first time since the declaration of the state of emergency. On 10 April, soldiers were seen shielding protesters from security forces, and on 11 April, the military removed Gen. Bashir from power in a coup d’état after his 30 years rule.

The takeover by Transitional Military Council (TMC)

Following Gen. Bashir’s removal from power, and takeover by a seven-member TMC led by Lt Gen Awad Ibn Auf on 11 April, 2019, street protests organized by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) and democratic opposition groups continued, calling on the ruling TMC to “immediately and unconditionally” step aside in favor of a civilian-led transitional government, and urging other reforms in Sudan. Negotiations between the TMC and the civilian opposition to form a joint transition government took place during late April and in May but stopped when the dreaded Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and other TMC security forces carried out a massacre in the capital city of Khartoum on 3 June. Unrest in Northern Sudan engulfed almost the whole of the country in turmoil.

Chain of events after April 11, 2019

On the evening of 12 April 2019, Auf announced his resignation following intense protests. He handed over his seat to Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, the army’s inspector-general, to succeed him. The protesters were “jubilant” upon hearing this announcement as he was one of the generals who reached out to the protestors during the sit-in.

On 13 April, talks between the military and the protestors officially started. This came following announcements that the curfew imposed by Auf was lifted, that an order was issued to complete the release of those who were jailed under emergency laws issued by al-Bashir. It was also announced that National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) Chief Salah Gosh had resigned. Amnesty International asked the military coalition to investigate his role in protesters’ deaths.

On 14 April it was announced that TMC had agreed to have the protestors nominate a civilian Prime Minister and have civilians run every Government ministry outside the Defense and Interior Ministries. Another announcement was made that Auf had been removed as Defense Minister and that Lt. Gen. Abu Bakr Mustafa had succeeded Gosh as chief of NISS.

On 15 April, TMC announced that “The former ruling NCP will not participate in any transitional government,” despite not being barred from future elections.

It was also announced that the TMC was undergoing restructuring, which began with the appointments of Col. Gen. Hashem Abdel Muttalib Ahmed as army chief of staff and Col. Gen. Othman al-Hussein as deputy chief of staff.

On 16 April, the TMC announced that in response to the demands of the protestors, the nation’s three top prosecutors had been sacked.

On 17 April, ousted president Gen. Bashir was transferred from house arrest in the Presidential Palace to solitary confinement at Kobar prison in Khartoum, a prison notorious for holding political prisoners during Gen. Bashir’s time in power. Two of Gen. Bashir’s brothers, Abdullah and Al-Abbas, were also arrested.

On 18 April, crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands demonstrated to demand civilian rule. The demonstration was the largest since Gen. Bashir was deposed. Protest leaders also announced plans to name their own transitional council in two days’ time if the military junta refused to step aside.

On 20 April, it was reported that officials had found suitcases full of Euros, US dollars, and Sudanese Pounds in Gen. Bashir’s home (totalling around $6.7 million). Parliament Speaker Ibrahim Ahmed Omar was placed under house arrest. The secretary general of the Islamic movement Al-Zubair Ahmed Hassan and former parliament speaker Ahmed Ibrahim al-Taher were also among those arrested in relation to these suitcases.

On 21 April, head of TMC promised to hand over power to the people. Nevertheless, protest leaders broke off talks with the military authorities the same day—saying that the military junta was not serious about transferring power to civilians and that the junta was composed of remnants of al-Bashir’s Islamist regime—and vowed to intensify demonstrations.

Meanwhile, as a result of strikes at oil companies in Port Sudan, landlocked South Sudan‘s oil exports were paralyzed.

On 27 April, an agreement was reached to form a transitional council made up jointly of civilians and military, though the exact details of the power-sharing arrangement were not yet agreed upon, as both sides wanted to have a majority. The military also announced the resignation of the three TMC members Lt. Gen. Omar Zain al-Abideen, Lt. Gen. Jalal al-Deen al-Sheikh and Lt. Gen. Al-Tayeb Babakr Ali Fadeel, who had submitted their resignations on 24 April.

On 7 May 2019, 21 former officials who served in al-Bashir’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in South Darfur were arrested after attempting to flee the country.

The military and protesters agreed on 15 May to a three-year transition period to civilian rule. The protest movement insisted on a transition period of at least three years was needed to wash away the effects of Bashir’s rule and to ensure free and fair elections.

The two sides also agreed on the structure of a new government – including a sovereign council, a cabinet and a legislative body. But soon after, TMC scrapped all of these agreements on 3 June and said fresh elections would be held within nine months.

The TMC’s head said they had decided to “stop negotiating with the ‘Alliance for Freedom and Change’ (AFC) and to cancel what had been agreed on”.

Negotiations collapsed when a military crackdown on 3 June left dozens of protesters dead. 118 people were killed, 70 were raped and hundreds were injured in the Khartoum massacre as a result of Sudanese armed forces storming a camp and opening fire on protesters. Security forces also opened fire on protesters inside medical facilities. Security forces dumped bodies of some of the killed protesters in the river Nile. Much of the country was then shut down by an open-ended strike called by the opposition.

On 8 June, the SPA warned of a wide campaign by the TMC of arresting and disappearing political activists or threatening to kill them. The SPA called for activists to strictly follow the methods of nonviolent resistance in their campaign of civil disobedience and workplace strikes.

A 3-day general strike and nationwide civil disobedience campaign were carried out from 9–11 June. The SPA estimated 60–95% of pupils’ and teachers’ absences from primary and high schools; 67–99% closure of municipal and national bus transport; 84–99% blocking of flights; 98–100% blocking of rail transport; 64–72% bank closures; 86% closure of retail markets; 60–94% closure of electricity, heating, oil and gas stations; 57–100% non-publication of newspaper publishing; 47–90% of medical services were closed, but free emergency medical care was provided; 90–100% of private and state legal services were shut down. Internet was shut down. Women were at the forefront of the demonstrations and one named Kandaka, meaning Nubian queen, led the chants.

On 12 June, the TMC agreed to release political prisoners and the FCA agreed to suspend the general strike. The two sides also agreed “to resume talks soon” about forming a civilian government. The FCA prepared a list of eight civilian members for a 15-member transitional governmental council, including three women.

On 13 June, TMC spokesperson stated that “some” security force members had been arrested over the 3 June massacre and that eighteen persons belonging to two different groups planning coups against the TMC, had also been arrested.

On 29 June, TMC security forces raided the headquarters of the SPA.

On 30 June, the 30th anniversary of Gen. Bashir’s coup d’état, twenty thousand people protested in Khartoum and elsewhere around Sudan to call for civilian rule and justice for the 3 June massacre. Ten people were killed during the demonstrations and 181 people injured among which 27 suffered gunshot wounds. Tear gas, live ammunition and stun grenades were used against protestors in Khartoum. 10 security personnel were also wounded. The military seemed reluctant to hand over power to civilians.

On July 01, three bloodstained bodies were found in Omdurman.

International response

The violence of the government’s reaction to peaceful demonstrations sparked international concern.

Most African and western countries backed the protesters.

The governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE pledged $3 billion in aid to the military authorities, which was not welcomed by the protestors. Former urged discussions between the two sides, but not directly condemned military violence. Along with UAE and Egypt, Riyadh perhaps feared the protests could inspire similar events to take place on home turf.

The TMC’s Vice President, Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, flew to Saudi Arabia last month to meet the crown prince Mohamed Bin Salman, promising to stand with the kingdom against threats and continue sending Sudanese troops to help the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

The African Union (AU) suspended Sudan from its membership until a civilian-led transitional authority was established.

The UN started removing all non-essential staff from Sudan but China and Russia blocked moves to impose sanctions.

The US National Security Advisor, John Bolton, condemned the Khartoum violence, calling it “abhorrent”.

 

Ethiopian PM Abiy and AU made an effort to mediate a truce by suggesting 5-member civil majority government for a 3-year transition period. Finally, mediation of Ethiopia and AU succeeded in brokering a deal on July 5.

Landmark deal

On July 5, a landmark deal was signed between ruling TMC and the protest leaders to put an end to months of political unrest that had cost 136 lives since June 3, and had paralyzed life in the capital city. After two days of negotiations, the power-sharing deal was brokered by the mediating Ethiopia and AU. The two sides agreed to establish a sovereign council with rotating military and civil presidency for a period of 3 years and 3 months. The final draft will be inked on 8 July. The ruling body would include six civilians including five members from the protest group and five from the military. During the transition period, the first 21 months will be presided by the military and the next 18 months by the civilians. The deal sparked celebrations and the people took to the streets to rejoice the deal. The deal has been welcomed by UAE.

Other troubled areas

The civil war in South Sudan

Just two years after gaining independence in 2011, South Sudan got engulfed in a power struggle which claimed the lives of tens of thousands of the population. According to UNHCR, over 2.3 million got displaced. It has become Africa’s biggest refugee crisis. It accounts for 14 per cent of the total number of displaced persons, second only to Syria which accounts for 40 per cent.

The conflict began as a feud between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and to then-Vice President Riek Machar. It soon spiralled into fighting among several factions, engulfing the country in ethnic violence and eventually producing a devastating humanitarian crisis.

Hunger and disease racked the country and millions fled to neighbouring countries. Human rights abuses, mass rape and potential war crimes have been documented on both sides of the conflict.

An estimated 383,000 people have died as a result of five years of civil war in the world’s youngest country. The death toll was highest in 2016 and 2017 after a power-sharing agreement brokered in 2015 fell apart. Another peace agreement was signed in September 2018, but South Sudan is still the most dangerous country where aid workers dread to step in. The conflict has damaged the country’s economy, contributing to soaring inflation and there is a risk of famine.

Conflict in Darfur

The War in Sudan’s western region Darfur is a major armed conflict that began in February 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel groups began fighting the government of Sudan. A decade after the disastrous war, there is no end in sight. The intensity of the conflict has diminished since its early years, but most of Darfur is still extremely dangerous. There are 2.5 million displaced persons in camps and 2 million affected by the conflict, all dependent upon international humanitarian assistance.

Since early 2003, Sudanese government forces and militias called “Janjaweed” have been engaged in an armed conflict with rebel groups SLM and JEM. Sudanese government forces and the Janjaweed militias have waged a systematic campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against civilians who are members of the same ethnic groups as the rebels. Hundreds of villages have been burnt and destroyed, causing tens of thousands of civilian deaths, displacing millions of people, and raping and assaulting tens of hundreds of women and girls.

Sudanese forces blocked UN-AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur, UNAMID, peacekeepers and aid groups’ access to displaced people and conflict-affected areas on several occasions.

For more than two years, the government and JEM and SLM declared a unilateral cessation of hostilities in Darfur mediated by AU. However, after the beginning of the nationwide protests against the Gen. Bashir’s regime, they declined to engage with the government and voiced their support for the popular uprising. In a meeting facilitated by Chadian President Idris Deby, the TMC and two armed groups agreed to uphold a ceasefire in Darfur.

Conflict in Kordofan and Blue Nile States

War erupted in the two southern states in 2011 soon after the independence of South Sudan. The fight is going on between RSF and Nuba mountains based rebels of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) that are better armed and adept in the fighting. There are little prospects of peace. The conflict has displaced 230,000 people to relief camps and caused heavy casualties.

Over seven years into the armed conflict in Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile, the government and armed opposition have failed to agree on modalities for supplying life-saving aid to civilians in need.

Refugees

Sudan hosts refugees and migrants from the region and received nearly 200,000 more refugees from South Sudan, bringing the total over 770,000. Authorities have deported Eritreans, often without giving them an opportunity to apply for asylum. Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees from Darfur, Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile live in camps in Chad, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

The writer is a retired Brig. Gen, a war veteran, defence analyst, columnist and author of 5 books. He served as Defence Attaché Egypt and Sudan from 1986 to 1989 and also was Dean of the Corps of Military attaches’ in Cairo. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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Pakistan: How to Change Political Culture of Corruption and Rebuild the Future?

Pakistan: How to Change Political Culture of Corruption and Rebuild the Future?

Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja

Pakistan: How to Change Political Culture of Corruption and Rebuild the Future? 

 

Towards Understanding the Current Affairs

Prime Minister Imran Khan impressed the constituents to imagine the phenomenon of “change” as a driving force for future-making. Was the political power a motivating factor to influence the curious minds of the masses or was it an exercise in self-propagated approach to gain success at a critical juncture of Pakistan’s contemporary history? For too long Pakistanis experienced the nuisance of corrupt politics. Reality has its checks and balances based on the consequences. PM Khan is no stranger to the much charged and corrupt culture of politics. Pakistan had witnessed many critical moments of historical developments in its search for identity, unity and future-making. Often dismayed and unimpressed are the people of a young and educated generation who find no place to participate in the movement and struggle for change and reformation of the decades old corrupted and degenerated system of obsolete systems of political governance. At a time, Imran Khan – a comparatively young, reasonable and open-minded politician enticed the young generation to be hopeful for change but it is questionable if there is rational substance to be optimistic about “rebuilding” the nation. In an age of reason, it is important to know and determine where Pakistan is and how to go forward with a planned Action Plan. Imran Khan has a moral and intellectual outlook as head of a progressive political organization should have imagined and prepared a Proactive Plan for New Thinking and a Plan for Action once he assumed the office. To learn from the tragic tensions of history, all of the previous self-styled leaders including the unwelcomed four General of coups and their byproducts – Bhuttos, Sharifs, Zardari and Musharaf were all dead-ended entries to the essence and freedom movement of Pakistan. They stole billions and billions from the national treasury and stabbed the nation. Could Mr. Khan realize what went wrong and how they consumed precious time and resources of the nation and derailed its prospects for future-making as a viable democratic nation in Southwest Asia? If Pakistan had a continuous culture of political change and educated and learning leadership, the country should not be interdependent on foreign aid and a subservient to the US or Western political interests. There appears to be conflicting time zones and culture of thinking between the masses and the ruling elite confined to comfortable quarters of Islamabad. Leaders come and go but nothing changes on the ground for the public good. The endless self-repeating delusions flow for even more the same at this juncture. PM Khan is either not connected to the dots or he is surrounded by the same set of individualistic absolutism prevalent at the beginning but most often is ridiculed as it progresses and ends-up in disastrous consequences for the nation. Words and statements alone do not change an unproductive culture of the political nuisance. There is nothing new on the ground to substantiate any new visionary approach to rebuild the nation. Those who are part of the problem cannot be part of the solution. Mr. Khan should analyze critically what is operational and what is dysfunction within the compound of the central government. He should be open to voices of reason and enlightenment. There seem to be too much centralized boxed functions in Islamabad and not the much-decentralized presence of the federal governance at major provincial centers of activities. This should be reorganized to serve the interest of the masses and proved services across many divergent zones. Pakistan desperately needs new and young educated and honest people to embrace the challenges of the present and future-making. Pakistanis living abroad are the asset to be counted to enhance the planned cause of political reformation and nation-building.

Know Yourself in Time and Challenges, Your Strength and Weaknesses

Great spoken symbols do not require immeasurable importance. All egoistic politicians assert such slogans to maintain the irrational balance between the reality consequential developments. At this stage, the nation is receptive to see how and what Imran Khan could deliver to change the engrossed misfortunes of the nation. All responsible leaders defy the urge to make flamboyant expressions of political ambitions which negate realism and national interest. To a visionary and effective leader, it is incumbent to know your strengths and weaknesses and the people around your immediate circle. If you have a vision of the future, explain it and connect it to the known aspirations of the masses that were denied the rightful thought and place in the past. If imperatives of change and reformation for nation-rebuilding were of utmost vitality, should Mr. Khan not enlist the educated people of knowledge, wisdom and global experience to plan the political change and enhance the priorities of “nation-rebuilding” as part of an Action Plan? The Pakistani nation has a delicate eco-system of social, moral, political and intellectual diversities and sensitivities. Those dealing with the phenomenon of change, must know and understand how to acquire an inner understanding of such distinctions and inequalities to bridge the unity of the nation. Reason has many enemies if Pakistani political culture is closed but the reasoned discussion could lead to rebuilding the trust across many divides. If Imran Khan thought that his symbolic opinions will bear fruit without any efforts, it would be unthinkable to imagine a destiny out of inaccessible communication to the masses. Destiny is always new and young, not obsolete or incapacitated. Mr. Khan should motivate the official circles with a sense of responsibility, services and honest role model. If the leadership statements are unexcitable shadows of illusion without truth and strength, the new leadership will go nowhere except consuming time and precious energies as it happened before for almost 50 years. Pakistan is a victim of failed and disgraced leadership.

Collective Focused Mind is More Powerful than Individualistic Agenda

To reshape and rebuild the destiny of deprived masses, Mr. Khan should articulate a focused approach to deal with some of the urgent issues. The issue of fair and equal services to the people, legal justice, security of the country, unity of diverse provincial cultures and integration, reformed systems of political governance, sustainable economic and technological productivity, educational system and health services could be prioritized for the first year of the Development Plan, if there is such an official instrument at this time. Mr. Khan wanted to hold the corrupt politicians accountable for their criminal atrocities and stolen wealth. He must set up a high power legal body with competent judges to hold the trials and punish the political thugs and criminals. How come Zardari, Sharif and Musharaf are roaming around freely?

None of them was alone but had hundreds and thousands of culprits to rob the nation. If the intent and resolve are clear, what are they waiting for to prosecute the indicted criminals? This must be done in a few months, not a year if all concerned are honest and true to their commitments. Pakistan should not be held hostage for change by the criminals. If the stolen wealth is returned to the national treasury, Pakistan will not ask the IMF or Saudis for new loans. Does Imran Khan have any compassion for the indicted criminals? This must assume a priority for action.

Towards Change and National Unity for Future-building

The focal issue appears to be –how to change a dreadful and unproductive political culture into a promising future? It requires ingenuity, vision and workable plan to ensure positive outcomes for the best of people. To awaken the consciousness of political accountability, PM Khan would need to move fast based on a well chalked out plan for change and reformation of the political systems. Time is critical and offers a historic opportunity to all concerned. Defying cynicism and hoping to be optimistic, Mr. Khan and his colleagues better do a soul searching as to where they are and how to move forward? Otherwise, they cannot go from anywhere. It is a cumbersome challenge but must be encountered otherwise, time and opportunities will be lost with disastrous consequences for the present and future generations of Pakistanis.

The new Pakistani administration must detach itself from the delusional glimmers of American policies and practices in Afghanistan and the region. American drone attacks on Northwest Pakistan and its entanglement in Afghanistan must end on its own record of failure. America is a big game player in Pakistan and its security apparatus. The aid gimmick has kept Pakistan interdependent on the policy-making of the US administration and a nation being viewed more liability than an asset to the American geopolitical interests in that region. All that can go wrong have gone wrong with the system of Pakistani political governance. Any realistic observer taking a dispassionate survey of the current picture of Pakistan would agree that time and essence of history call for planned change to produce a sustainable and productive culture of new thinking and actions for the security and future-making of a new Pakistan.


Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in international affairs-global security, peace and conflict resolution and international affairs with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution: Approaches to Understand the Current Issues and Future-Making. Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany, October 2017.

Categories: AsiaPolitics
Tags: anti-corruption

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Zionist-led Double Game has Taken the Pak-US Relations on Backtrack By Sajjad Shaukat

Zionist-led Double Game has Taken the Pak-US Relations on Backtrack

By Sajjad Shaukat

 

 

Although the former presidents of the United States George. W. Bush and Barack Obama were secretly acting upon the Zionist-led double game as part of the South Asian policy, yet President Donald Trump clearly exposed America’s double game in South Asia. 

 

Despite the repeated assurances of Pakistan’s military and civil leadership that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are well-protected and are under tight security arrangements, having well-coordinated command and control system, a deliberate propaganda campaign against the safety of these weapons keeps on going by the US, India and some Western countries who are acting upon the Zionist agenda to ‘denuclearize’ Pakistan as the latter is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. Besides, some other developments such as America’s pro-Indian and pro-Israeli policies, and anti-Pakistan, anti-China, anti-Russia and anti-Iran diplomacy are also part of the Zionist-led double game of the US who is in collaboration with India and Israel. Particularly, Washington which is in connivance with New Delhi and Tel Aviv has been destabilizing Pakistan politically and economically.

 

In this regard, a few days after the US cancelled USD 300 million in military aid (The so-called Coalition Support Funds) to Islamabad, accusing the latter of failing to rein in the terror groups operating from its soil in Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the former CIA chief who along with the US Joint Chief of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford had arrived on an official visit to Islamabad met with Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on September 5, this year.

 

In a statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that Qureshi highlighted that the priority of the new government was socio-economic development and for the success of people-centred agenda and economic reforms, an enabling regional security environment was imperative. He said improving relations with neighbours was a priority, in an apparent reference to strained ties with India and Afghanistan, which often accuses Pakistan of providing safe havens to terrorists to conduct cross-border attacks. Qureshi also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to continue efforts for promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

 

The statement elaborated: “The two sides agreed that present conditions in Afghanistan were conducive to intensifying efforts for a political settlement. They underscored the need for the Taliban to seize the opportunity for talks in response to the Afghan President Ghani’s offer for an unconditional dialogue…Mr Pompeo stated that the US fully supported the reform agenda of Prime Minister Khan and wished the government success in its implementation…Mr Pompeo conveyed the US desire to work with Pakistan in furthering the shared objectives of peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

 

At the same time, reviving the US old blame game regarding cross-border terrorism, Pompeo emphasized upon Islamabad “to do more” at the meeting.

 

The international community knows very well that Pakistan’s Armed Forces have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad. Army and top intelligence agency ISI have broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants while thwarting a number of terror attempts. Peace has been restored in various regions of Pakistan, including Karachi and Balochistan province.

 

But, like the previous diplomats of America, Mike Pompeo’s statement shows an unrealistic and contradictory approach towards Islamabad, as Zionist-controlled elements control the foreign policy of the US. Overtly, American high officials remark that they seek stability in Pakistan, but covertly, they continue to destabilize it to obtain the illegitimate interests of Israel.

 

Pakistan’s new Prime Minister who knows Zionist designs and American double game has vowed to review Pak-US relations. In this respect, Qureshi had said: “The disconnection between Washington and Islamabad was addressed in the meeting with Pompeo as both sides agreed to reset the two-way linkages.”

 

After meeting Pompeo, next day, addressing the Defence and Martyrs Day ceremony and hinting towards the US, Prime Minister Khan said: “The country will not be part of anyone else’s war, rubbished the myth of a civil-military divide in the country…We both [civil, military] have a common goal and that is to take this country forward.” He “saluted the valour and sacrifices of the armed forces, which stood strong against all odds in the aftermath of the 9/11 and the unconventional war that followed, to safeguard the interests of the country.

 

Addressing the ceremony, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa said:  “Our forces and nation have rendered sacrifices in the war against terrorism…Our houses, schools and leaders were attacked. Efforts were made to weaken us internally.” Noting that more than 70,000 Pakistanis were martyred and injured in this war, the army chief vowed to collectively fight this menace of terrorism.

 

Gen. Bajwa added: “The country passed through a very difficult phase during the past two decades and the war is still continued.” He also said that the continuity of democracy was necessary for the country.

 

After visiting Pakistan, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went to India where US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was already present.  Pompeo and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met separately on September 6, 2018, before joining top defence officials for talks.

 

Taking to the media, Swaraj remarked, “India attaches the highest priority to its strategic partnership with the United States. We see that the United States is our partner of choice. Pompeo said the U.S. values its relationship with India and noted we fully support India’s rise.”

 

Mattis and Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sithataman also met separately before joining the other two leaders. Sitharaman in her opening remarks stated: “Defense cooperation has become one of the most significant dimensions of the countries’ relationship. We have acquired various advanced defence platforms from the U.S. We are thus partners in building defence capability in the broadest sense of the term.”

Mattis said:  “Today our partnership has become one of the most consequential in the region and in the world.”

 

There are sticking points, however, including the purchase by India of Iranian oil and the Russian S-400 ground-to-air missile system, which could trigger US sanctions on India.

 

Pompeo told reporters “talks were ongoing on whether to grant waivers for India from U.S. sanctions on Iran — India’s second-largest oil supplier — and Russia. Our effort here is not to penalize great strategic partners like India.

 

Pompeo and Mattis later met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and conveyed Trump’s support for “India’s role as a leading global power and regional security provider.”

 

  1. Raja Mohan, one of India’s top foreign policy analysts and the director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, opined that US-India ties have strengthened immensely over the past couple of decades, and Trump has ramped up diplomatic pressure on India’s main rivals, Pakistan and China, earning him plenty of goodwill.

 

In fact, the agenda for Indo-US talks included previous key issues such as anti-terrorism, maritime security and particularly countering China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean and the region.

 

Strategic analysts remark that there are no permanent friends and enemies in international politics because of friendship and enmity change in accordance with the states’ interests which are of primary importance.

 

After having a strong relationship with the United States for more than 60 years, a rift has occurred in Pak-US ties which are moving on backtrack because of a number of reasons, and Pakistan has been further strengthening its relations with China. It has also inclined towards the Russian Federation which also needs the latter. Particularly, the US-led secret strategy which is part of the Zionist-led American double game compelled Pakistan to fortify its relations with Russia. 

 

In this connection, an agreement has been signed on August 7, this year between Pakistan and Russia for the training of Pakistani troops in Russia, decided at the culmination of the first meeting of joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC) in Islamabad. Pakistan’s defence ties with Moscow are growing strong with each passing day and this pact has opened new avenues of cooperation between the two countries. A desire from both sides has already been seen in the near past in boosting economic and political relationships. Obviously, these moves are seen with suspicion by the US and India, including Israel. The fact of the matter is that American President Donald Trump’s pro-Indian strategy and anti-Pakistan policies have forced Islamabad to find new alliances.

 

Earlier, America announced to stop military training programmes with Pakistan. In this respect, Western media said: “The U.S. has stopped financing military training in the U.S. for Pakistani soldiers…The effective suspension of Pakistan from the US government’s International Military Education and Training program (IMET) will close off places that had been set aside for 66 Pakistani officers this year.”

Pakistani officials warned it could push their military to further look to Russia and China. Pakistan’s Chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee, Senator. Mushahid Hussain called the American move “wrong and counterproductive” and stated: “The U.S. is repeating past mistakes through a failed policy of trying to bully and browbeat Pakistan with such shortsighted sanctions.”

 

On August 3, this year, the US Congress had approved a $716 billion defence authorization bill to cut Pakistan’s defence aid from $750 million to $150 million. The Senate passed the conference report on National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill then was sent to president Trump seeking his assent. Last year, US defence bill had authorized a significant aid of $700 million for Pakistan under Coalition Support Fund that had been reduced afterwards. The defence policy bill backed President Donald Trump’s call for a bigger, stronger military and sidestepping a potential battle with the White House over technology from major Chinese firms.

 

It is notable that in an interview with CNBC television on July 30, 2018, the US Secretary of State Pompeo had warned on that any potential International Monetary Fund bailout for Pakistan’s new government should not provide funds to pay off Chinese lenders. Pompeo explained that the United States looked forward to engagement with the government of Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan, but there was “no rationale” for a bailout that pays off Chinese loans to Pakistan.

 

Islamabad has dismissed America’s concerns that any new International Monetary Fund bailout for the nation would be used to repay Chinese debt as “totally wrong”.

 

It is mentionable that soon after the victory of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the general elections of 2018, China agreed to further US$ 2 billion loans to aid its foreign currency reserves, something which cites trust in the new government. The then Chairman of PTI, Imran Khan emphasized close ties with Beijing and the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This came timely, as Pakistan has continued to face strained relationships with the US government, and did not want to rely on the IMF for a bail-out. Chinese announcement caused Pakistan’s rupee to jump the most in nearly a decade, as Khan was likely to take power with an economy in chaos. Beijing has stepped up to reinforce a geopolitical alliance which shapes the South Asian nation’s policies towards the US and India which are following a secret strategy of Israel against Islamabad. The gesture showed to Pakistan’s overwhelming reliance on China as a source of financial, diplomatic and military support at a time when US President Donald Trump has cut military aid to Islamabad.

 

Besides China, Prime Minister Imran Khan is also strengthening Pakistan’s relation with Russia, Iran and Turkey which are facing the US sanctions.

 

As regards Pak-Russian ties, in this connection, Pakistan’s Army chief Gen. Javed Bajwa arrived in Russia for a two-day visit on April 24, this year. It was General Bajwa’s first visit to Russia.

 

The statement of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said, “Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived in Russia…where he met with Commander of Russian Federation Ground Forces Colonel General Oleg Salyukov at the Kremlin Palace…During the meeting, the Russian ground forces commander acknowledged achievements of Pakistan Army in the fight against terrorism and contributions for regional peace and stability. Colonel General Salyukov said that Pakistan is a geo-strategically important country and Russia is keen to expand its existing bilateral military-to-military cooperation…The COAS thanked the Russian commander and said that Pakistan reciprocates desire of enhanced bilateral military engagements. General Bajwa said that Russia has recently played a positive role to help resolve complex situations in the region.” 

 

 

Image result for pakistan china russia iran alliance

 

However, during the meetings between the top military and security leadership of the two countries, Pakistan and Russia reaffirmed their commitment to intensify and expand bilateral military cooperation.

 

In his meeting with the Gen. Qamar Javed, Russian Ground Forces Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleg Salyukov said his country was interested in expanding the existing military cooperation with Pakistan. Gen Bajwa, too, expressed Pakistan’s desire to enhance bilateral military engagements with Russia.

 

The two countries had in February, 2018 agreed to set up a military cooperation commission for promoting military cooperation. Both sides had signed a defence cooperation agreement in November 2014 and later inked military-technical cooperation accord, which allows arms trade between the two countries and cooperation in weapon development, in October 2015.

 

The press service of the Russian Security Council reported that in their meeting, “issues of bilateral military cooperation in information security and countering international terrorism were studied.”

 

The army chief’s trip was preceded by the visit of National Security Adviser retired Lt. Gen. Nasser Janjua to Russia. His meeting with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev resulted in an understanding that the security cooperation between the two countries needed a boost.

 

Islamabad, Moscow and Beijing share the common opinion that the presence of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan failed to restore stability in the country.

 

Speaking to Chief of General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Gen Valery Vasilevich Gerasimov, Gen. Bajwa stated; “Russia supported Pakistan’s efforts towards reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan” and it was “willing to play a role towards that end.” He noted that Pakistan welcomed any initiative which could bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and the whole region would benefit from it.

 

Notably, in 2002, the 7th meeting of the Pakistan-Russia Consultative Group on Strategic Stability was held in Moscow. The two sides had discussed matters of mutual interest relating to international issues, including arms control, nonproliferation and counter-terrorism. On May 12, 2011, Islamabad and Moscow agreed to promote trade, investment and joint projects particularly in energy, infrastructure development, metal industry and agriculture. Russia has shown a special interest in energy projects. A working group of both countries had met in October 2011 to explore cooperation in this sector. Islamabad is interested in Russian investment in its oil and gas sectors as well as in heavy industries.

 

Russia has offered Pakistan counter-terrorism equipment. The package includes 10 MI-17 helicopters of unarmed configuration. When Russian military Chief Col-Gen. Alexander Postnikov visited Pakistan in May 2011, he discussed with the former Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani—the possibility of expanding defence ties by holding joint military exercises, exchanging trainees and trainers and selling and buying weapons. Moscow has also offered to sell Sukhoi Superjet 100, a modern aircraft with a capacity of up to 95 passengers, while up-gradation of Pakistan Steel Mills by Russia is being finalized. In the recent past, it was the first time that joint military exercises were conducted between the two countries in Pakistan.

 

In 2011, Putin publicly endorsed Pakistan bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and remarked that Pakistan was a very important partner in South Asia and the Muslim world for Russia. In the recent years, besides, various annual summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which includes Russia, China and four Central Asian states including Pakistan and Iran, on 16 August 2007, in their summit, the leaders of the SCO displayed strength against the US rising dominance in the region and military presence in Afghanistan, near the region of Central Asia.

 

 

Related image

 

 

It is noteworthy that on June 9, 20, Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of SCO summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. President Putin stated that Pakistan is an important partner for Russia in South Asia and congratulated the then Prime Minister Sharif on Pakistan’s full membership to the SCO. Putin elaborated, “Russian-Pakistani relations have been constructive and mutually beneficial…our relations are developing in many areas, and our trade has increased.”

 

In a major development, Russia has offered its support for Pakistan’s entry into a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), of which Russia is a leading member.

 

The disqualified Prime Minister Sharif who thanked the Russian Federation for supporting Pakistan’s full membership in the SCO, said, “The SCO gives us a powerful platform for partnerships to promote peace, build trust and spur economic development for shared prosperity…it helps us all combat terrorism…expansion of the SCO has taken place at an opportune time, as China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative has transformed the global economic landscape…in Pakistan, we are diligently implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is a flag of the OBOR.”

 

In this context, to bolster its strategic contest with China and Russia, the US is moving towards a military alliance with India. America which is backing Indian hegemony in Asia, especially to counterbalance China is supplying New Delhi latest weapons, arms and aircraft.

 

During ex-President Barack Obama’s second visit to India, the Washington and New Delhi had announced a breakthrough on a pact which would allow American companies to supply India with civilian nuclear technology, as agreed upon in 2008. During Indian Prime Minister Modi’s first visit to America, President Obama had strongly assured him to favour India’s membership in the coming meeting of the Nuclear Supplier Group. Earlier, Washington also pressurized the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) to sign an accord of specific safeguards with India. America had already contacted the NSG to grant a waiver to India for starting civil nuclear trade on a larger scale.

 

During his trip to the USA, Prime Minister Modi’s first meeting with the American President Donald Trump held on June 27, 2017. Both the leaders pledged to work together to boost their respective economies and other fields. Besides, President Trump and Prime Minister Modi pledged to deepen defence and security cooperation, building on the US’s recognition of India as a major defence partner. The president also thanked India for seeking a $2 billion arms deal with the United States for 22 naval surveillance drones.

 

Trump said, “The relationship between the United States and India is very, very strong and very, very powerful.” While, ignoring ground realities that the US-led Israeli Mossad and Indian RAW are sponsoring terrorism in Asia and Western countries, in the joint statement, Trump hailed pledges of closer cooperation between India and the United States, especially in the fight against the Islamic State group (Also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh). 

 

As a matter of fact, since the occupation of Afghanistan by the US-led NATO forces, the country has become centre of the intelligence agencies such as CIA, RAW and Mossad which are in connivance to obtain the covert designs of their countries and some Western countries against Russia, China and Pakistan, including Iran. Under the cover of fighting terrorism, these foreign agencies which are also in collaboration with Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) support the militants of ISIS and Afghanistan-based Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), including their linked outfits which have been conducting terror-assaults in Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of the secret strategy of the US-led countries. Besides, these terrorist groups are weakening Tibetan regions of China and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan through subversive activities.

 

Apart from Islamabad, the US has also accused Iran and Russia of assisting the Taliban in Afghanistan. The main purpose of Washington is not only to pacify their people and justify the unending war in Afghanistan but also to fulfil the secret strategic designs of the Zionist Jews against Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran.  Trump has so far focused on outreach to China, India’s strategic rival, as he also initiated a trade war with China.

 

It is of particular attention that India was openly opposing the CPEC and China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative; the US also joined New Delhi. In this connection, on October 3, 2017,  the then US Defence Secretary James Mattis told the Lawmakers, “The United States has reiterated its support for India’s opposition to China’s One Belt, One Road initiative…the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a part of which traverses Pakistan-Kashmir.”

 

Islamabad strongly rejected the statement from the American defence chief that the multibillion-dollar road and rail network CPEC which is part of China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, passes through a disputed territory of Kashmir, urging the international community to focus on blatant human rights violations and ‘heinous crimes’ committed by Indian occupation forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), and reminded the US that Washington had also participated in an OBOR summit.

 

Earlier, a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry also dismissed Mattis’ statement, saying that the OBOR plan was backed by the United Nations and that CPEC was an economic cooperation initiative. Russia also supports the OBOR and CPEC.

 

It is worth mentioning that Washington and New Delhi do not want to see peace and prosperity in the region. Sadly, Pakistan’s dominant role in Afghanistan’s peace process under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) has, deliberately, been sabotaged by the killing of the Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur in the CIA-operated drone attack in Balochistan. After the incident, Afghan Taliban leaders refused to participate in the US-sponsored talks with the Afghan government. While, in the recent past, with the help of Pakistan, a series of meetings were held in Islamabad and Kabul among the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US to develop an understanding for the earliest possible resumption of stalled talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban with view to ending nearly 17 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan.

 

During the sixth Heart of Asia Conference which was held in the Indian city of Amritsar on December 3 and 4, 2016 proved fruitless in achieving its goals due to the secret diplomacy of the US, India and Afghanistan owing to the blame game, especially of New Delhi and Kabul against Islamabad. In his opening remarks, following American secret diplomacy in Asia, in his frenzy and ferocious speech, Indian Prime Minister Modi had lashed out at Pakistan on terrorism as the central subject of the moot.

 

Speaking in the Indian tone, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also accused Pakistan of providing sanctuary to terrorists and cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan.

 

Addressing the conference, Russian envoy Zamir Kabulov had rejected the Indian and Afghan allegations against Pakistan. He stated that Afghanistan is the pivot of the conference and the agenda of the conference should not be hijacked. He added that being friends and supporters, we should avoid the blame game and work together. He also said that Pakistan’s Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz’s speech at the conference was friendly and constructive.

 

Earlier, due to the double game of the US and failure of the QCG, China, Russia and Pakistan held secretary-level trilateral talks in Moscow on December 27, 2016, and discussed regional stability, including the restoration of peace in Afghanistan. The meeting also discussed anti-terrorism cooperation amid growing influence of the ISIL in the region and a peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

 

It is mentionable that the American President Trump has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal and is following war-mongering diplomacy against Tehran by toughening sanctions, while Israel is also doing the same against Iran. Hence, Iran could abandon the US-backed India-Afghanistan Chabahar project and could join the CPEC project.

 

Notably, in the recent years, unbridgeable trust deficit existed between Pakistan and the United States owing to America’s double game with Islamabad. But, President Trump’s flawed strategy in South Asia, based upon anti-Pakistan moves, has taken the Pakistan-US ties to point of no return.

 

During the heightened days of the Cold War, despite Pakistan’s membership of the US-sponsored military alliances SEATO and CENTO, including Pak-US bilateral military agreement, America did not come to help Pakistan against India which separated East Pakistan in 1971.

 

After the end of the Cold War, the US left both Pakistan and Afghanistan to face the fallout of the Afghan war 1. By manipulating the nuclear programme of Islamabad, the US imposed various sanctions on Pakistan.

 

But, after the 9/11 tragedy, America, again, needed Pakistan’s help and President George W. Bush insisted upon Islamabad to join the US global war on terror. Pakistan was also granted the status of a non-NATO ally by America due to the early successes, achieved by Pakistan’s Army and country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) against the Al-Qaeda militants.

 

Within a few years, when the US-led NATO forces felt that they are failing in coping with the stiff resistance of the Taliban in Afghanistan, they started accusing Pak Army and ISI of supporting the Afghan Taliban. They constantly insisted upon Pakistan to do more against the militants and continued the CIA-operated drone attacks on Pakistan’s tribal areas by ignoring the internal backlash in the country.

 

Reviving the double game as part of anti-Pakistan strategy, President Donald Trump stated in his tweet on January 1, this year, “The US has foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

 

Weeks earlier of this tweet, while, unveiling national security strategy, Trump had said, “We make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help.”

 

In his speech on August 21, 2017, while announcing the US new strategy regarding Afghanistan as part of the policy in South Asia, President Trump, particularly, singled out Pakistan for criticism. Using tough words against the US ally Pakistan, Trump revived the old blame game of his predecessors Bush and Obama regarding the cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan by saying Washington could “no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations”, and threatened to target the terrorists’ sanctuaries in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Trump stated, “We have been paying Pakistan billions of dollars, at the same time, they are housing the very terrorists we are fighting…that must change immediately.”

 

Regarding Pakistan’s regional rival India, Donald Trump added, “We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan…We want them to help us more with Afghanistan.”

 

Meanwhile, on January 5, 2018, the US suspended $255 million of military aid to Islamabad as a condition to do more against terrorism.

 

Taking cognizance of the latest tweet of President Trump, Pakistan’s civil and military leaders, including all the mainstream political parties united against the US aggressive stance against the country and offered a stark response to Trump’s false accusations. The then Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif remarked, “Terrorist sanctuaries are present in East Afghanistan. It is from these safe havens inside Afghanistan that terrorist attacks are being launched on Pakistan…The claim by Trump regarding the funds, if we account for it, they include reimbursements too for the services rendered by Pakistan…Our land, roads, rail and, other different kinds of services were used for which we were reimbursed.”

 

According to the earlier statement of the ISPR, “Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa stated that “Pakistan was not looking for any material or financial assistance from the USA but trust, understanding and acknowledgement of our contributions…peace in Afghanistan is as important for Pakistan as for any other country.”

 

While encouraged by the US President Trump, Indian Prime Minister Modi is flowing aggressive diplomacy against Pakistan, and India has continued shelling in Pakistani side of Kashmir which remains a nuclear flashpoint between both the neighbouring countries.

 

And various other developments such as Russia-Iran-Turkey alliance to fight the ISIS, and US decision to dispatch more troops in Afghanistan etc. are equally notable.

 

Nevertheless, taking note of the Zionist-led US double game, the new government of Pakistan led by Prime Minister Imran Khan is further fortifying country’s relations with Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and Ankara. Especially, he will prefer Russia and China over America.

 

It is also of particular attention that two days after the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s transit visit, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is reaching Islamabad on Friday (September 7, 2018) on a three-day visit. Besides meeting his Pakistani counterpart, Mr Wang is likely to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and president-elect Arif Alvi during his stay in Islamabad to have discussions on bilateral issues with a focus on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.

 

We can conclude that the Zionist-led double game has taken the Pak-US relations on the backtrack, and in future, the Russian-led China-Pakistan-Iran-Turkey alliance will emerge.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is the author of the book: the US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

 

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

Courtesy Veterans Today

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