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Archive for category Pakistan-A Polaris of Earth

Seven Big Challenges for Pakistan—and the Lessons They Could Teach  By Imran Ali , Ali Akbar & Benjawan Yanwisetpakdee

Pakistan-A Nation Given Lemons by its Enemies Makes a Lemonade

Seven Big Challenges for Pakistan—and the Lessons They Could Teach

 By

Imran Ali, Ali Akbar & Benjawan Yanwisetpakdee

Pakistan may be viewed as a case study of the fight for the survival of modern human civilization. Its complex and dangerous problems are not without possible solutions and the strategies that the nation chooses to provide a model for the rest of the world.

 Humans have made enormous advancements in technology. Unfortunately, the challenges to human civilization are also rising quickly. Our ignorance and mismanagement of resources have led us down the path of uncertainty, and we now need all of our available technology to survive. Pakistan is perhaps most known for its struggle with terrorism. Meanwhile, few associate the country with the fight for modern civilization’s survival. Dwindling natural resources, continuous natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and economic instability in the region make for a worst-case scenario for human development. Pakistan is neighbored by China and India, the most populous nations on the globe, so its failure would start a chain reaction of global. On the other hand, the country’s success in meeting current challenges could make it a model for counteracting the problems of modern civilization. This article offers an overview of the major challenges confronting Pakistan, along with possible solutions that provide lessons for the rest of the world.

 

 

 

 

 Challenge 1: Population Explosion

 An average Pakistani woman gives birth to five children, thanks to a preference for large families and a particular desire for sons. Because of high birthrates and increasing life expectancy, Pakistan has one of the highest population growth rates in the world and is expected to become the fourth-most-populous country by 2050. Rising population triggers many other crises, including food shortages, energy and resources crises, and disease outbreaks.

Possible solutions: Pakistan’s rapid population growth highlights the need for effective family planning. Although the government has shown serious interest in the issue, the effects of its efforts are limited. According to one survey, each family welfare centre is visited by an average of two couples per day. The main reasons behind the problem are the overall low education and literacy rate and the inadequate mobility of Pakistani women. Pakistani society is dominated by men; women are scarcely seen in any walks of life, making them an invisible and inactive segment of the country. To help balance society, the government must require education for all citizens. Similarly, increasing the proportion of women in the workforce would increase women’s mobility. Along with free supplies of contraceptives, government incentives to limit childbearing can also motivate couples to use birth control.

Challenge 2: Food Security

Nearly 75% of Pakistan’s population resides in rural areas, where agriculture is the way of life. Unfortunately, Pakistan has not developed its food security policy at the national level. The agricultural sector has slowed by 2.7% from 2000 to 2010, and the country now struggles to provide its people with a sufficient amount of food. Calorie availability is, on average, 26% lower than that found in developed countries. Due to an inadequate food supply, many Pakistanis face the problem of malnutrition. The unmanaged slaughtering of animals, unregulated livestock smuggling to neighbouring countries, and a shortage of livestock feed make it impossible for the poor population to access beef and other meat. Approximately 17,000 acres are deforested every year, causing the depletion of wild resources from the forest, unprecedented ecological misbalance, and loss of biodiversity. The main factors involved in decreased food production are overpopulation, water shortage, energy deficiency, poor soil, and natural disasters. Most of the soil in Pakistan is deficient in macro- and micronutrients. Salinity and waterlogging add to the problem. More than 70% of Pakistan is arid and semiarid regions, where rainfall is insufficient for irrigation of crops; most rainwater is lost due to rapid evaporation and surface runoff, while floods and droughts cause further damage. Rapid urbanization also contributes to food shortages, as fewer people are now available to work on farms in rural areas. Meanwhile, with almost no technology inputs in many parts of the country, traditional farming cannot meet the increasing demand for food. A lack of infrastructure makes it very difficult to transport food from farm to fork.

 Possible solutions: Pakistan has enormous potential to increase its food supply with agricultural reforms. Nearly 20 million acres of cultivable land is unused. Construction of major dams could provide an additional 2.5 million acres of land suitable for agricultural purposes. Pakistan has the chance to become self-sufficient if it can reach even 30% of its potential. National agriculture policy is needed to counteract the low food supply. The government has focused primarily on increasing wheat production, but in order to tackle malnutrition, it must focus on other nutritious crops, livestock, and fruits. To keep up with the increasing population, the agriculture sector must maintain an annual growth rate of more than 5%. The government, with the help of the international community, must improve rural infrastructure in order to develop Pakistan’s agricultural sector. Similarly, poor farmers need access to easy, corruption-free loans to increase their crop yields and improve agricultural practices.

 Challenge 3: Energy Crises

Among developing countries, demand for electricity will rise 40% by 2030. In Pakistan alone, the demand for energy is expected to increase sevenfold. Yet the oil- and gas-reliant country, which currently imports 75% of its energy, lacks the necessary infrastructure, long-term planning, and institutional frameworks to meet current needs, let alone future energy requirements. The energy crisis badly affects the country’s agriculture, economy, the way of life, and technological advancement. A continuous rise in oil prices and electricity is causing inflation and devaluing the currency. Energy is becoming increasingly inaccessible the average person. These conditions are raising agitation, anger, and riots in the frustrated people of Pakistan.

 Possible solutions: Fossil fuels comprise 80% of the world’s energy supply. Rising fossil fuel prices highlight the need for renewable energy sources in Pakistan. Hydropower, solar energy, biomass utilization and wind power are some of the best sustainable energy options for Pakistan. Pakistan’s location is blessed with unending sources of solar energy. Pakistan receives up to twice the solar radiation needed to power solar photovoltaic appliances, such as water pumps. It is estimated that Pakistan’s hydropower is operating at only 15% of its potential. Biomass utilization, especially biofuel production, can fulfil the oil requirements of energy. About 70% of Pakistan’s land is uncultivated and could be utilized to grow crops with high biofuel potential. Livestock in Pakistan is a good source of wet dung and can yield substantial biogases for fuel purposes. Additionally, Pakistan has the capacity to produce 400,000 tons of ethanol per year from its sugarcane crops.

 Challenge 4: Disease Outbreaks

 Pakistan’s rapid urbanization is creating numerous problems, the most threatening of which is disease outbreaks. Water sources in and near big cities are at risk due to wastewater mismanagement.

 In Pakistan, wastewater use in agriculture carries a wide risk of diseases. Food-borne diseases are also a concern, and natural calamities such as frequent floods add more severity to the outbreaks. One study of southern Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, found that diarrhoea and hookworm related diseases were common among farmers working in farms fed by wastewater. Other diseases run rampant: Several types of hepatitis are very common. Due to political propaganda and misinformation, the fight against polio is much tougher. HIV is on the rise. And typhoid, malaria, and tuberculosis are still uncontrolled. Currently, the most serious disease outbreaks are dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF). DHF is mostly found in the eastern part of the country, while CCHF is mostly found in the west. From 2005 to 2006, more than 3,640 patients were found to have DHF symptoms.

 Possible solutions: Proper wastewater management can minimize the risks of many diseases, such as hepatitis, malaria, dengue, and typhoid. Although using wastewater in agriculture can be beneficial for Pakistan’s nutrient-deficient soil, its use must be coupled with the pretreatment of water to get rid of any chemical and microbial contamination. Diseases that are spread by human contacts, such as CCHF, must be handled with proper care when dealing with patients, as well as animals. Education and awareness by religious scholars can help to lift the fight against polio and HIV. Health must be given priority in rehabilitation after natural disasters. Along with the global community, Pakistan’s government must be built measures for fighting disease outbreaks—especially ones that may bring global catastrophes.

 Challenge 5: Socio-economic Instability

 According to the Ministry of Finance’s annual economic survey, Pakistan’s GDP growth in 2013 was 3.6%, down from 4.4% in the previous year. The economy is severely affected by the energy crisis, terrorism, and the global economy, and the country operates with a large deficit, thanks to the administration’s reluctance and inability to cut spending or raise taxes. Meanwhile, the value of the Pakistani rupee has decreased in recent years. Each time the rupee falls, both inflation and foreign debts increase. More than 60% of Pakistan’s population lives below the poverty line, leaving many unable to obtain or pay for food, healthcare, education, and energy. While many factors contribute to the country’s rampant poverty, the energy crisis, in particular, has a strong effect, because of its negative impact on Pakistan’s agricultural and industrial sectors. Entire factories are often outsourced, which leads to unemployment and disturbs supply and demand and the balance of imports and exports. Unemployment and poverty have led to high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide, as well as an increase in crime. Unemployed youth are frequently targeted for recruitment by terrorist organizations, who offer them the means to afford food and an opportunity to show their anger against society. Most of the country’s suicide bombers are under 20 years old.

 Possible solutions: Pakistan has to deal seriously with its energy crisis. Consistently available and affordable energy would lubricate agriculture and industry, which would, in turn, raise GDP and increase employment opportunities. Coupled with reforms to corrupt government spending and tax collection policies, increasing tax rates on certain sectors would provide the country with much-needed growth. Improved infrastructure would result in better trade opportunities with China and central Asia, while better trade between India and Pakistan could bring enormous economic benefits to both countries. The government needs to focus efforts on decreasing suicides and improving mental health. Public sports programs and technical education for unemployed youth would provide the country with young, healthy, and skilled labourers and members of society. And laws aimed at improving income inequality could help to eliminate hate throughout society.

Challenge 6: Natural Disasters

 Mother Nature seems unhappy with Pakistan, which faces severe crises with continued floods, earthquakes, drought, and global warming. Despite heavy investment in irrigation, Pakistan is vulnerable to continuous floods. Due to climate change, the intensity of floods in the Himalayan rivers has increased in the past 20 to 30 years. Human intervention in Pakistan has worsened scenarios by building unnecessary embankments and improperly using the land. The Indus flood of 2010 was one of the greatest disasters in the history of mankind, affecting more than 14 million people and killing nearly 2,000, with approximately US$9.5 million worth of losses to business, agriculture, and other parts of the economy. According to the UN, the humanitarian crisis caused by the flood was even greater than Japan’s 2011 tsunami and the disastrous earthquakes of Haiti and Kashmir. Nearly all the world’s glaciers are on the verge of disappearance, including the Himalayan glacial reserves. Billions of people in the Indian subcontinent rely on this water reservoir, which supplies the Indus, Ganges, and other rivers. Over the past century, the average global temperature has increased by 0.6°C (1°F) and continues to rise. The Himalayan glaciers have begun to melt, threatening frequent floods, loss of water reservoirs, and a rise in sea levels. Climate change has also been observed as a trigger for the increase in the outbreaks in northwest Pakistan of Plasmodium falciparum, a parasite that causes malaria. Similarly, a continuous decrease in precipitation, especially in arid and semiarid areas,  is causing a long-term drought. Pakistan is located in a region that experiences frequent earthquakes. In 2005, a devastating, 7.6-magnitude earthquake killed more than 82,000 people and injured more than 126,000. The earthquake also triggered massive landslides and caused dams to break.

 Possible solutions: Natural calamities cannot be avoided, but their intensities, frequencies, and effects can be minimized. Floods in Pakistan are caused by excessive monsoon rain and global warming. Construction of dams can help to store the excess floodwater, which can be used for agriculture and to generate hydroelectricity. Global warming must be fought at the global level by controlling greenhouse gas emissions and by using a carbon credit system. The government of Pakistan must ban the extensive deforestation in the country, as well as solve the energy problem because the trees are mostly cut for energy requirements. Improving public transport systems would minimize individual car usage. There is also a need for nationwide applicable building construction policy to control the effects of earthquakes. Earthquake-proof houses have proven effective, and nationwide quick-response emergency teams equipped with modern technologies can minimize the aftereffects of natural disasters.

Challenge 7: Nuclear War Threats

 Pakistan is of great geostrategic importance. India and Pakistan have fought three major wars and many small military conflicts. The warrior minds are visible as both sides spread the hate and push for war at all times. It may be that they simply do not fully understand the consequences of a war between two countries. The outcomes will not be regional; they will bring global suffering. India is a big country with superiority in conventional weapons and instruments of war. However, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal compensates for this disparity. Each country has more than 100 nuclear warheads at its disposal. A nuclear war between the two countries could kill more than 20 million people in the region, while a nuclear winter caused by the generation of smoke could cripple agriculture of the whole world.

Possible solutions: Both Pakistan and India—and in fact, the entire world—are left with no option but to resolve all their issues through dialogue. War is never a solution to any problem and always a trigger for other problems. The international community must insist that both countries sit together and have a dialogue under UN mediation. There are better uses for nuclear technology than bombs. In the winter, winds are blown from Pakistan to India, and in the summer, Pakistan receives winds from India, making it impossible for these neighbours to think that they will be unaffected by nuclear war. Strategies, Prospects and Hope Pakistan is facing huge, interconnected problems in many areas. The problems begin with people, and, in Pakistan’s case, with overpopulation. The increasing population will require more energy, food, employment, and health facilities. The avail problems, including employment, food production, and underdeveloped infrastructure. The long-term strategy should focus on health care, education reforms, infrastructure development, promoting agriculture, and counteracting explosive population growth. Conditions in Pakistan are not perfect, but not all is bad. Pakistani society looks well aware of the challenges they are facing. Thousands of new PhD scientists generated by Higher Education Commission of Pakistan look committed to providing scientific solutions to the problems Pakistan is facing. For instance, researchers have introduced drought-resistance crops to counter the food shortage. High-yield seed varieties are being used to increase the production of food and fodder crops. There is a considerable amount of ongoing practical and applicable research on renewable energy, and food-safety experts are doing considerable research to ensure safe food handling. Pakistani authorities are serious about mitigating the country’s challenges. For years, Pakistan’s government has tried to control the population. The Lady Health Worker (LHW) program has succeeded by providing basic maternal health facilities in rural areas. The LHWs provide guidance in contraception processes and lead to jobs and mobility. Even given the tumultuous world economy, the Karachi Stock Exchange is showing exceptional progress. In 2013, exports increased slightly, while imports declined. The federal budget looks promising in raising tax net and revenue, controlling inflation, and improving development projects. The government is working to build new dams for controlling floods, as well as to increase hydropower In light of the recent disastrous floods and earthquakes, the role of Pakistan’s people and the government has been appreciable. Establishment of the country’s National Disaster Management Authority looks like a good initiative by the government to manage the effects of natural disasters. And the international community’s responses have shown that it is ready to stand with Pakistan. The Pakistani political regime looks promising in promoting good relations with India. As reported by The Indian Express, Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif has said that he is looking to make a new beginning with India in pursuit of disarmament and nonproliferation and that Pakistan is getting out of the arms race. Such statements are encouraging for the peace process between the two countries. We humans have been given brains more tremendous than any other creature’s. The only destruction we can inflict on ourselves is to be ignorant of what is happening around us. Most of the world’s countries will face the same scenarios that are now happening in Pakistan. Pakistan’s geographic centrality means that any crisis can quickly spread to neighbouring countries. Even though its problems are great, there are solutions that are applicable to the rest of the world. Pakistan still has the strength and opportunities to fight back. The country’s failure or survival will symbolize the defeat or success of the fight for modern humanity.

 About the Authors

Imran Ali (lead author) is a postdoctoral fellow at the Plant Biomass Utilization Research Unit at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, and a lecturer at the University of Balochistan in Pakistan. Co-authors include Ali Akbar (University of Balochistan, Pakistan), Hunsa Punnapayak (Chulalongkorn University), Sehanat Prasongsuk (Chulalongkorn University), and Benjawan Yanwisetpakdee (Chulalongkorn University). The authors thank Chulalongkorn University in Thailand for providing access to literature. The Research Grant Funds have been provided by agreement on Post-Doctoral Research Grant Allocation from the Ratchadaphisek Somphot Endowment.

 

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Pakistan-Born on Night of Power: The Miraculous Aspect of Pakistan’s Date of Birth By  The London Post

Pakistan-Born on Night of Power:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Miraculous Aspect of Pakistan’s Date of Birth

By

 The London Post
 –

By
Tariq Majeed  

 

All along the series of important events which led to the emergence of Pakistan, there were signs of divine help at critical junctures. However, there was one occasion when the Hidden Hand of divine power left such a clear imprint of its presence that no one could deny it. This was the matter of appearance of the New State on the map of the world at a pre-determined date.
 
The time chosen by Allah was most blessed in nature. It was the month of Ramazan, the day was the Last Friday, Jumuatul Widaa, the night was 27th of Ramazan, widely acknowledged as Lailatul Qadr, the time was the moment of Midnight.

Exactly at that moment when the hour clock sounded its last toll on the radio, signalling a new day and date, the birth of the State of Pakistan was announced. The date in the lunar calendar was 27 Ramazan 1366 corresponding to 15 August 1947.

It ought to be made clear that Pakistan’s Independence Day is actually 15 August. This was divine power’s decision; making it 14 August was a human decision. It should be realized that August 14 was Thursday, 26th of Ramazan, and had no special merit.

British Parliament’s Indian Independence Act of 18 July 1947 also mentions 15th of August as “the appointed day” for the birth of India and Pakistan. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah took the oath of office as Governor-General on the 15th. He was aware of the significance of this date and also of the mission entrusted to this country—of becoming a model Islamic state based on Islamic economic, social and moral values.   Speaking at a public reception in Chittagong, on 26 March 1948, he said:

This biggest Muslim State came into being on 15th August 1947. It was a great day in our history. But, on this great day, it was not merely a Government which came into existence, it meant the birth of a great State and a great  Nation—one supplementing the other and both existing for each other. I can understand the limitations of those amongst us whose minds have not moved fast enough to realize that 15th of August ushered in such a State and such a Nation.

It is natural for some to think only in terms of Government but the sooner we adjust ourselves to new forces, the sooner our mind’s eye is capable of piercing through the horizon to see the limitless possibilities of our State and of our Nation, the better for Pakistan. Then and then alone it would be possible for each one of  us to realize the great  ideals of  human progress, of social  justice, of equality and fraternity which, on the one hand, constitute the basic causes of the birth of  Pakistan and also the limitless possibilities of evolving an ideal social structure in our State.1

It was on 29 June 1948 that the Cabinet under Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan “decided that henceforth Independence Day of Pakistan would be celebrated on 14th August.”2

As the Hidden Hand implementing the divine scheme of things uses earthly means, who was used as the instrument for proclaiming the pre-determined date of Partition? It was not the British government or the Hindu Congress or the Muslim League. The instrument was Mountbatten, who had been chosen for the role two years in advance.

Mountbatten leaned toward the Hindu Congress and was quite friendly with its top leaders, while toward the Muslim League and its Pakistan Plan he nourished hostility. However, divine schemes have their own ways of bringing about the desired events; a villainous character may well do something beneficial, while a benign character may turn out to be harmful.

Until the end of 1946, there was no sign that Britain would quit India anytime soon. But the year 1947 came literally with whirlwind changes. On 20 February 1947, British Prime Minister Attlee made a surprising policy statement in the Commons, announcing this historic decision:“…His Majesty’s Government wishes to make it clear that it is their definite intention to take the necessary steps to effect the transference of power into responsible Indian hands by a date not later than June 1948…” 3

This was a momentous turning point in the political situation in India. The events that followed rapidly converged on creating Pakistan. Earlier, on 18 December 1946, Attlee called Mountbatten to 10 Downing Street and invited him to succeed Wavell as viceroy in India.4 He gave parting instructions to Mountbatten:“…If by October 1 you consider that there is no prospect of reaching a settlement on the basis of a unitary government…you should report… on the steps which you consider should be taken for the handing over of power on the due date..” 5

Mountbatten reached Delhi on 22 March and was sworn in on the 24th.  From 24 March to 10 April, he held intensive meetings with Nehru, Gandhi, Liaquat and Jinnah. His mind was focused on the 1 June 1948 date, by which transference of power had to be completed. Then, abruptly his mind changed; a compelling urgency seized him. A new transfer of power plan took shape.

His voice constricted with sudden emotion, the victor of the jungles of Burma about  to become the liberator of India announced: ‘The final Transfer of Power to Indian hands will take place on 15 August 1947.’ 8

Marvellous spectacle! Conceived and directed with absolute precision by the unseen forces of divine power.

“And none can comprehend thy Sustainer’s Forces save

Him alone and all this is but a reminder to mortal man.” 9

 

References

1.   Jinnah, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali: Speeches as Governor General of

Pakistan 1947-1948. Rawalpindi, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, p. 99.

2.   Letter, dated 27 August 2005, by Director National Documentation Centre,

Cabinet Division, in reply to my questions on the subject.

3.   Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, eds. Constitutional Relations between

Britain and India: The Transfer of Power 1942-47, Vol. XI, London, Her

Majesty’s Stationery Office, first published 1983, Section 45, P. 89.

4.   Stanley Wolpert. Jinnah of Pakistan, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1984, P.304.

5.   Ibid, p. 314.

6.   Britannica, 1977, Micropedia, Vol. VII, p. 90.

7.   The Transfer of Power 1942-47, Vol XI, Item 44, p. 88,

8.   Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. Freedom At Midnight, Delhi, Vikas

Publishing House, 1976.  pp. 164,165.

9.   Qur’an Majeed, Surah 74, Ayah 31.

 

The London Post

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Shaikh Rasheed’s Interview With Dr.Danish

cropped-stand-up-and-save-pakistan.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Hellfire From Heaven Won’t Smash The Taliban

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A Hellfire From Heaven Won’t Smash The Taliban
By Pepe Escobar
 
June 02, 2016 
 
So Taliban supremo Mullah Mansour’s white Toyota Corolla was rattling across the Balochistan desert just after it had crossed the Iranian border when a Hellfire missile fired from a US drone incinerated it into a charred / twisted wreck.
That’s the official narrative. The Pentagon said Mansour was on Obama’s kill list because he had become «an obstacle to peace and reconciliation».
There’s way more to it, of course. Mansour was a savvy businessman who was extensively traveling to Dubai – the Taliban’s historic clearing house where all sorts of dodgy deals are made. He was also in close connection with Jundullah – a.k.a. the hardcore Sunni anti-Tehran militia very much active in Sistan-Balochistan province in Iran.
This time Mansour was in Sistan-Balochistan on a medical visit – allegedly to eschew hospitals in Pakistan heavily monitored by the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence]. Yet arguably Pakistan intel knew about it – so US intel also may have known about it and thus were able to track him.
But then there’s the real ace in the hole: the New Opium War.
The usual suspects in the Beltway insist that the Taliban profit handsomely from overseeing the opium trade out of Afghanistan –and now operate as a multi-billion-dollar drug cartel. That’s nonsense.
Bets can be made that Mansour’s kill will not reduce Afghanistan’s opium production – which has been steadily on the rise for years now. Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, Mansour’s former number two, has been designated as the new leader.
The fact is, poppy production in Afghanistan remains at the highest levels in provinces that are – in thesis – controlled by Kabul. More opium was produced last year – also in thesis the last year of NATO’s Enduring Freedom operation – than in any other year since the UN started tracking it way back in 2002. In 2016 Afghanistan will produce more opium – thus heroin – than the entire global consumption.
An inkling of what’s really going on in the New Opium War is provided by a recent book (in Italian) by Enrico Piovesana. He tells of shady military operations conducted by NATO in which massive quantities of opium have been sequestered by helicopter – never to be seen again.
So we’re back to the same old CIA opium rat line, which translates into control of the Afghan opium market in collusion with local police, military high brass in Kabul and the Karzai family, of former President a.k.a. «mayor of Kabul» Hamid Karzai. Doing business with narco traffickers has also handily provided liquidity – as in dirty money – to Western big banks. None of this has anything to do with the Taliban, which actually brought down opium production to near zero in 2001, before 9/11 and the American bombing/occupation of Afghanistan.
Those shadowy Af-Pak players
The first US drone strike ever in Baluchestan (another Obama «first») remains something of a mystery. A credible working hypothesis is that this was a covert US-Pakistani co-op. The hit allegedly came via the Pentagon, not the CIA. Mansour’s Corolla was something like 40 km inside Baluchestan after it had crossed the border – in an area where US drones would have been quite vulnerable to upgraded (in 2011) Pakistani air defenses.
A plausible – but unconfirmed – scenario would see RQ-170 Sentinels tracking Mansour’s Toyota, with the coordinates then fed to Reaper drones flying out of Kandahar airfield. Assuming the drones began tracking the Toyota at the Iran-Pakistan border, they would have been in action over Baluchestan air space for hours on end, undisturbed.
But then there are the incongruities. Pakistani sources mention that the Toyota – as in any real drone hit – was not totally smashed, but was still on its wheels. And a mysterious passport (Mullah Mansour’s) also showed up on the scene, unscathed.
As for the original HUMINT that led to Mansour’s trail, the notion that Washington had scored it stretches credulity. It would be more like a very well placed/rewarded asset somewhere – be it a military in Kabul or a disgruntled ISI operative.
What was Mansour really up to? He was quite savvy in playing for time. He clearly saw through the US «strategy» – which boiled down to encouraging Afghan president Ashraf Ghani to convince Islamabad to get the Taliban to the negotiating table.
Mansour though knew the Taliban could always advance militarily without negotiations; that’s why he duly announced the 2016 spring offensive – an annual Taliban ritual. At the same time he was very careful not to antagonize Islamabad so Taliban safe havens in Pakistan would not be compromised.
As far as what Islamabad is up to, that’s way hazier. Islamabad’s man in the Taliban succession was actually Sirajuddin Haqqani. After the death of his notorious father, Haqqani leads the homonymous network – which is very cozy with the ISI, arguably closer than the traditional Kandahar/Quetta Shura, a.k.a. the historic Afghan Taliban.
The new Taliban supremo will now have a handy window of opportunity to consolidate power. By early 2017 there will be a new US president, a new Pakistani army chief but the same Afghan so-called National Unity Government still disunited. The Taliban know what they want; be part of the government in Kabul, and get their cut in case the fractious Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline will ever be built. The more things change in Afghanistan, the more they hark back to two decades ago, during the second Clinton administration.
Meanwhile, former CIA asset, former pal of Osama bin Laden and still one of the US’s Public Enemies, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, defined by Washington as a «global terrorist» and the leader of the Hezbi Islami organization, is about to close a deal with Kabul.
Hezbi Islami is the second largest «insurgency» in Afghanistan. Most of the top brass have defected to the Taliban. Hekmatyar lives in exile somewhere in Pakistan; the ISI, of course, knows all about it. So if Ghani in Kabul can’t bag the Taliban, at least he bags a currently much smaller fish, Hekmatyar. Does it help? Not really. It will fall eventually to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – as in Russia-China joint leadership – to solve the Taliban riddle. Certainly not to Operation Enduring Freedom Forever – no matter the size of their kill list
 
 
 

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No, Fareed Zakaria, you cannot blame Pakistan for the mistakes made by the US in Afghanistan

No, Fareed Zakaria, you cannot blame Pakistan for the mistakes made by the US in Afghanistan

Published: October 15, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Considering your reputation, I was disappointed by your 800-odd word opinion piece on The Washington Post. PHOTO: AFP

Dear Fareed Zakaria,

You are certainly a titan of journalism. Your CNN show, Fareed Zakaria GPS, is watched by countless worldwide, while your footprint can be found in publications such as Foreign Affairs, Newsweek, Slate, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, to name a few.

The career trajectory you’ve taken is nothing short of incredible. After leaving your home in Bombay where you were born to Rafiq Zakaria, an Islamic scholar and a politician associated with the Indian National Congress, and journalist Fatima Zakaria, a former editor at Mumbai Times and the Times of India, you eventually made your way to the US, where you graduated from Yale University, and later Harvard University. From here, you never looked back, striking one milestone after another.

Considering your reputation, I was disappointed by your 800-odd word opinion piece on The Washington Post.InThe key to solving the puzzle of Afghanistan is Pakistan’ you laid the entire blame of the failure of the 14-year American military campaign in Afghanistan, on Pakistan’s double dealing with the Taliban.

Your faulty cause and effect analysis was not only overly simplistic but granted far too much credit to Pakistan for Afghanistan’s problems. Yes, Pakistan carries a long list of issues, but to paint the nation as an all-powerful bogeyman dilutes the gravity of Afghanistan’s home-grown issues.

Now, before I continue, I’d like to clarify, I am not another Pakistani nationalist peeved by a journalist who still maintains strong ties with India. If anything, I find patriotism to be an entirely stupid emotion. My recent blog, which was eventually taken down, questioning Pakistan’s blind love for a national hero during a war, where they were the aggressors, was received more negatively than a teetotaling dwarf would be at a Dwarven pub in Middle Earth.

Yet even I was put off by your article.

Let’s start with when you say:

“Why, after 14 years of American military efforts, is Afghanistan still so fragile? The country has a democratically elected government widely viewed as legitimate. Poll after poll suggests that the Taliban are unpopular. The Afghan army fights fiercely and loyally. And yet, the Taliban always come back.”

It is as if you are about to start a fairy tale in which the US armed forces, along with the Afghan army and the new national government, created a utopia in Afghanistan, where unicorns fart rainbows and candy grows from trees. This was, as you say, until the Taliban, backed by the evil and jealous Pakistani neighbours, came back, leaving the heroes in turmoil.

In reality, the Taliban have been welcomed back by many Afghans due to the incompetence and corruption of their own government and law enforcement officials.

Take for example, the town of Marjah, where nearly 15,000 NATO troops alongside Afghan forces fought against the Taliban, promising the locals good governance as motivation to shun the brutal militants. Unfortunately, they did not live up to these vows. According to Associated Press, Marjah residents believe the ‘counterinsurgency experiment has failed’.

Huffington Post:

“Nearly three years after US-led forces launched the biggest operation of the war to clear insurgents, foster economic growth and set a model for the rest of Afghanistan, angry residents of Helmand province say they are too afraid to go out after dark because of marauding bands of thieves.

And during the day, they say corrupt police and government officials bully them into paying bribes. After 11 years of war, many here long for a return of the Taliban. They say that under the Taliban, who routinely punished thieves by cutting off a hand, they were at least safe from crime and corruption.

‘If you had a box of cash on your head, you could go to the farthest part of Marjah and no one would take it from you, even at night’, said Maulvi Daoud, who runs a cubbyhole sized-shop in the town of Marjah. ‘Today you bring your motorcycle in front of your shop and it will be gone. Now the situation is that you go on the road and they are standing in police and army uniform with weapons and they can take your money’.

Many claim the US-funded local police, a type of locally sanctioned militia, routinely demand bribes and threaten to accuse those who do not comply of being members of the Taliban. Good governance never came to Marjah, they say.

Daoud, the Marjah shop owner, said there was more security under the country’s Taliban regime that was ousted by the US-led invasion in late 2001.”

Reuters explains how the billions of dollars spent on fighting the Taliban are all for nothing when the new government is so corrupt. Having taken advantage of this, the militants have gained control of two out of seven districts in Kunduz, and are spreading their dark fingers fast across others.

Tell me Fareed, is Pakistan to blame for this as well?

“Sardar, a 23-year-old working in his brother’s barber shop in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz, said local officials had asked for bribes to resolve a long-running family dispute over land.

When the backhanders failed to have their desired effect, he turned to the Taliban, the austere Islamist movement that has been fighting foreign forces since it was ousted from power 13 years ago.

‘They came to our home in Chahar Darah and took two days to solve the problem’, he said.”

Huffington Posts says the Afghan government is not the saint you describe it to be:

“The Taliban has since charged that Afghan intelligence purposely gave the US the hospital’s coordinates. Even the possibility that such an accusation is true — and the duration of the sustained attack suggests that something unusual happened — points toward the reason that Afghanistan is headed back toward Taliban control: The government is thoroughly corrupt, and the US has been unwilling to take measures to address the situation. While a handful of civilian and military leaders identified corruption as an existential threat to the country, the problem remains unsolved.”

The New York Times weighs in:

“Over the past few years, faith in the government and the warlords who were allied with the government, never strong, has rapidly diminished. Militias and Afghan Local Police forces installed by the American Special Forces were largely unaccountable. They extorted protection money from farmers, and committed rapes and robberies. But because they had guns and the backing of local strongmen close to the government, people’s complaints were ignored.”

Meanwhile, the Afghan army you write in favour of is led by some commanders who are partial to sleeping with children.Bacha bazi was something the otherwise deplorable Taliban stood against, which is why so many frustrated Afghans are turning back to the militants. I am sure you’ve read the report from The New York Times on American soldiers forced to ignore Afghan commanders involved in child sex abuse.

According to The New York Times, Afghan village elders are frustrated by the freehand given to commanders involved in child sex abuse.

“The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,” said Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an American-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. “But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.”

The Washington Post:

“Like it or not, there was better rule of law under the Taliban,” said Dee Brillenburg Wurth, a child-protection expert at the UN mission in Afghanistan, who has sought to persuade the government to address the problem. “They saw it as a sin, and they stopped a lot of it.”

National Public Radio (NPR) journalist Sarah Chayes has written a book, Thieves of State, on the matter. I suggest you should read it.

Fareed, next you say:

“The answer to this puzzle can be found in a profile of the Taliban’s new leader, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. It turns out that Mansour lives part time in Quetta, The New York Times reports, ‘in an enclave where he and some other Taliban leaders… have built homes’. His predecessor, Mohammad Omar, we now know, died a while ago in Karachi. And of course, we remember that Osama bin Laden lived for many years in a compound in Abbottabad. All three of these cities are in Pakistan.

We cannot solve the problem of Afghanistan without recognising that the insurgency against that government is shaped, aided and armed from across the border by one of the world’s most powerful armies. Periodically, someone inside or outside the US government points this out. Yet no one knows quite what to do, so it is swept under the carpet and policy stays the same. But this is not an incidental fact. It is fundamental, and unless it is confronted, the Taliban will never be defeated. It is an old adage that no counterinsurgency has ever succeeded when the rebels have had a haven. In this case, the rebels have a nuclear-armed sponsor.”

Strong words, with just the right amount of fear mongering thrown in.

Let’s assume this is true, and for some reason Pakistan is sponsoring the Taliban. As has been pointed out earlier, the Taliban have been gaining momentum due to the vacuum in justice felt by the Afghani people. If this is resolved, with or without Pakistan, Taliban would find it difficult to gain a foothold.

Also, in your assessment, Pakistan has been deceiving the American military for decades.

I don’t know if you’ve ever lived in Pakistan, but we aren’t as clever as you think. We are a country where scores, instead of seeking shelter, flock to the beach when there is a tidal wave warning, where the populace trusts and passionately defends a fraud who claims a car can run on water, where a popular politician and his drones only believes a free and fair election occurs when he wins.

Recently, a fraudulent multibillion dollar company called ‘Axact’ was running under Pakistani noses for years until it was busted, thanks to investigative journalism from The New York Times. Axact rose from obscurity to riches by selling fake diplomas, and no one in the government considered it odd that the Pakistani version of Microsoft wasn’t actually creating any notable software to speak of.

And you think this government has been outsmarting the US military?

More importantly, Pakistan has paid an enormous cost since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan post 9/11. The Taliban increased their presence in Pakistan after working their way in from across the border. Finally, after developing a consensus to use force, the army has all but squashed the Pakistani Taliban.

So why would Pakistan nurture them back to health in Afghanistan, where they can develop into a threat again?

“The Pakistani army has been described as the ‘godfather’ of the Taliban. That might understate its influence. Pakistan was the base for the US-supported mujahideen as they battled the Soviet Union in the 1980s. After the Soviets retreated from Afghanistan in 1989, the US withdrew almost as quickly, and Pakistan entered that strategic void.”

Fareed, as you say, Pakistan slept with the Taliban in an intoxicated stupor when the nasty new Soviet neighbours became unbearable, and yes, the US was more than a willing partner in this ménage à trois:

Reagan sitting with people from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in February 1983. Photo: Wikipedia

Those are just a few mujahideen visiting Ronald Reagan at the White House. According to Business Insider, the photograph is from 1983. Soon after this, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) set up training camps in Afghanistan where the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden later began their careers.

If Pakistan was at fault for ‘filling the void’, then was the US not at fault for creating one?

Instead of abandoning men trained in the art of killing with advanced weaponry, should it not have invested in an alternate future for them?

To appreciate the deep flaws in your cause and effect argument, let’s examine the horrible events of September 11th. There were 19 men who acted as hijackers on this terrible day. Reportedly, the first two arrived in January 2000. The next three arrived in the middle of 2000. Others came later. These men had apparently trained in jihadist camps in Afghanistan.

The first two men to arrive, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, spent nearly two years in the US, training in flight school in America, and boasted previous terrorist activities. According to journalist James Bamford, this duo was known to the National Security Agency, yet action wasn’t taken against them.

Was it a conspiracy?

No, of course, it wasn’t.

It was a security lapse, pure and simple.

The 19 men who conducted this terrible attack on American soil remained unhindered until they carried out their crime, yet Fareed, you don’t claim the US government was involved, do you?

It would be stupid to do so. So how does your mind turn towards conspiracy theories when it comes to Pakistan without presenting an inch of evidence?

In Pakistan, countless terrorists escape unhindered after committing heinous crimes. This is partially because in terms of infrastructure and population density, Pakistan is a very different environment than the US.

For example, we all watched in admiration as the two Boston bombers were captured after an entire town was sealed down by law enforcement. Such an operation would be very difficult to execute on the teeming streets of Pakistan.

It is certainly not an excuse. The most wanted man having been found on Pakistani soil is a source of embarrassment. But it should be considered to be a security lapse as well, unless proven otherwise.

You finally conclude with:

“Pakistan is a time bomb. It ranks 43rd in the world in terms of its economy, according to the World Bank, but has the sixth largest armed forces. It has the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal, and the most opaque. It maintains close ties with some of the world’s most brutal terrorists. By some estimates, its military consumes 26 per cent of all tax receipts, while the country has 5.5 million children who don’t attend school. As long as this military and its mind-set are unchecked and unreformed, the US will face a strategic collapse as it withdraws its forces from the region.”

More fear mongering.

You say Pakistan has the sixth largest armed forces, yet you also warn of Pakistan being a time bomb.

Let me ask you, Fareed, considering Pakistan’s fast growing nuclear arsenal, would you not prefer the army be large, powerful, and well-fed? Or would you rather hand this dangerous weaponry to a smaller more disgruntled military?

Your points about Pakistan’s low budget allocated towards education as compared to the exorbitant military spending are well made though. Education can help fight the Taliban, but at the same time, so can a quick, free, and transparent justice system. As Malala Yousafzai wrote in her book, the Taliban were initially welcomed by her people because they brought a swift end to corruption. It is only then they began their own brutality, revealing themselves as wolves rather than sheep.

Haroon Ullah, ‘a senior State Department advisor and a foreign policy professor at Georgetown University’, has an interesting opinion. He believes that rather than literacy and poverty, the real issues driving extremism are lack of law and order, and social injustices.

If the Afghanistan government is to repel the Taliban, it must win the heart of its own people. Similarly, its allies such as the US have to take a deeper interest in local policies. Shoving atrocities and corruption under the rug isn’t nearly as harmless as the Americans think. This vacuum in justice is what the Taliban feed on before they take their final form.

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