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Archive for category Pakistan-US Relations

Senior Pakistan Air Force Officer Honored with Thesis Award

Senior Pakistani officer honored with thesis award


Story by Kenneth Stewart

Senior Pakistani officer honored with thesis award

Pakistani air force Air Commodore Shahid Latif Bajwa, a member of the upcoming summer graduating class, earned outstanding thesis honors for his detailed analysis of the intricate relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan, and its impact on the region.

MONTEREY, Calif. – Pakistani air force Air Commodore Shahid Latif Bajwa will graduate with outstanding thesis honors during the Naval Postgraduate School’s upcoming Summer Graduation Ceremony, an honor bestowed upon less than 10 percent of the school’s graduates and the first of its kind to a senior Pakistani officer.

“I’d like to acknowledge the immense contribution made by my thesis adviser, Dr. Carolyn Halladay. I hold her in the highest esteem, as a scholar and as a human being,” said Bajwa.

As a general officer in the Pakistani Air Force, Bajwa offers a unique perspective on U.S. foreign policy in South Asia. Prior to attending NPS, Bajwa spent three years teaching at Pakistan’s National Defense University, and credits his NPS experience with opening his eyes to different viewpoints.

“I received a different perspective [at NPS] … I have learned here that if you say something that is logical and makes sense, then it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, people will listen and respect what you have to say,” said Bajwa. “I benefited from the faculty, comprised of accomplished scholars who have published in their respective fields and from fellow students that are coming from the field in Afghanistan … [And] they too benefit from the Pakistani perspective.”

Much of Bajwa’s thesis, “U.S. Security Cooperation with India and Pakistan: A comparative study,” details the history of U.S.-Pakistani relations over the last 60 years.

“The U.S. and Pakistani relationship is like a marriage, it has its up and its down but ‘divorce’ is always not the answer. There is no doubt that it is in both of our nations’ interests to pursue cooperation that is in our mutual benefit,” said Bajwa. 

Through his studies, Bajwa painstakingly analyzes the regional effects of U.S. aid and military intervention in South Asia with special emphasis given to its effect upon the tenuous relationship between Pakistan and India. 

“Much of what India acquires in terms of enhancing its military capability has a direct impact on Pakistan, affecting the security calculus between the two countries. This disparity would be further accentuated if military cooperation between Pakistan and the United States declines,” said Bajwa. 

Bajwa describes in great detail the on-again/off-again history of the rocky Pakistani-U.S. diplomatic relationship and offers a Pakistani perspective on several complex security issues, and the global war on terror (GWOT). 

“Through 2011, Pakistan has lost more than 3,500 security personnel in counter-terrorism operations and as a result of retaliatory terrorist attacks on them. The direct and indirect economic costs were upwards of $67 billion; the enormous social costs cannot be measured,” said Bajwa. “Despite all these sacrifices, doubts have been repeatedly raised about Pakistan’s sincerity in the GWOT.” 

Bajwa expresses concern over the potential for weakening U.S.-Pakistani relations, but also offers recommendations and a road ahead on issues critical to both nations’ interests in the region. Bajwa contends that a successful U.S. strategy in South Asia should involve, amongst other things, “broad-based, long-term relations with two main stakeholders, India and Pakistan, keeping their mutual sensitivities in view.

“The United States should [also] invest more into the projects that directly benefit the masses,” said Bajwa. “USAID and its positive projection in the Pakistani media is a step in the right direction, but it needs further expansion. An internally stable and prosperous Pakistan would suit everyone in the region and beyond.”

Upon graduation, Bajwa will return to Pakistan where he looks forwarding to incorporating the lessons he learned at NPS in future leadership positions.

“When I go back to Pakistan and become a senior commander or a staff officer, the knowledge that I gained here will be very useful. I will be able to share a different perspective with my superiors, my subordinates, and fellow policy makers. What I have learned here will be put to good use for the benefit of my service, my country, and its valued ally, the United States,” said Bajwa.

Read more:http://www.dvidshub.net/news/107991/senior-pakistani-officer-honored-with-thesis-award#.Ua0Mb-Bl_Gs#ixzz2VBwLpbR1

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May 2 operation: Book claims ISI colonel helped US track OBL down

Pakistan Army played an active role in the capture of Osama Bin Ladin, but, stayed out of the limelight, for national  security reasons. Pakistan Army was aware of the operation from its inception. Pakistan Army kept their role secret due to the fear of retaliatory action from the home grown terrorist groups.  The Americans are playing “John Wayne” to the hilt, because, the real brains behind the tracking  of Bin Ladin American and the subsequent operational logistics to the Americans were provided by Pakistan Army.  The mole Dr. Afridi’s cover was blown by the American, due to their own bungling. They did not trust Pakistan Army to deliver Bin Ladin and Dr. Afridi was their mole in Abbotabad and part of their back-up plan(or Plan B), in case Pakistan Army backed out. American  journalist Richard Miniter has claimed in his latest book that an officer of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) helped the CIA track down Osama Bin Laden and that army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani may have been informed of the Abbottabad raid five months in advance. Pakistan Army has always supported US initiatives and objectives in the region.


May 2 operation: Book claims ISI colonel helped US track OBL down


OBL’s compound was raided by US Navy SEALs. PHOTO: FILE


The book titled ‘Leading from Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him’, alleges that the ISI officer had walked into the CIA’s Islamabad station in August 2010 and provided vital help in tracing Bin Laden.

“In a never-before-reported account, Pakistan was more involved in the Bin Laden operation than Obama’s team admitted. When the CIA revealed that an ISI colonel had contacted the CIA in Islamabad and offered information about Bin Laden, a debate followed,” said the book.

“Was this a secret sign that the head of the ISI himself was pointing out Bin Laden’s hiding place or was the colonel actually the patriot who hated extremism that he claimed to be? Whatever the motivation, the CIA found Bin Laden’s hiding place within a month of the colonel’s visit,” the book claims.

According to the book, as the CIA found the Abbottabad compound where Bin Laden lived along with his family and started researching on the property, they found out that the land was “carved out” from the Pakistan Military Academy compound.

“Pakistan Army’s chief of staff may have been briefed in December 2010, five months before the nighttime raid on Bin Laden’s concrete castle,” the Press Trust of India quoted the book as saying. “No concrete facts about the operation were passed on, but an informal approval was sought.”

“Far from taking a risk, there are indications that a cover story had been developed with the Pakistani military and that Obama had their tacit consent for the mission,” claims Miniter, a former reporter with The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

Officials from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) were not immediately available for comments.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2012.

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Pakistan-US alliance takes hits on campaign trail

(AP Photo/B.K. Bangash). In this Tuesday, April 9, 2013 photo, Pakistan's former cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan gestures as he speaks about his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in Islamabad, Pakistan.

AP Photo/B.K. Bangash). Imran Khan gestures as he speaks about his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in Islamabad, Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD (AP) – On the campaign trail in Pakistan, candidates boast about their readiness to stand up to Washington and often tout their anti-American credentials. One party leader even claims he would shoot down U.S. drones if he comes to power.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that the government that emerges from next month’s parliamentary election is likely to be more nationalistic and protective of Pakistani sovereignty than its predecessor.

As a result, the U.S. may need to work harder to enlist Islamabad’s cooperation, and the new Pakistani government might push for greater limits on unpopular American drone strikes targeting Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the country.

But ultimately, the final say on Pakistan’s stance toward drones and many aspects of the relationship with Washington is in the hands of the country’s powerful army. And even nationalist politicians like former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the leading contender in the election, recognize the need for a U.S. alliance and are unlikely to go too far in disturbing it.

“I think the tagline here is different posturing, same substance” when it comes to the next government’s relationship with the U.S, said Moeed Yusuf, an expert on South Asia at the United States Institute of Peace.

Nevertheless, it’s unclear how long Pakistan’s alliance with the U.S. can remain relatively insulated from anti-American sentiment. The May 11 vote is historic because it will mark the first transfer of power between democratically elected governments in a country that has experienced three military coups.

U.S. officials have remained fairly quiet about the election because they don’t want to be seen as influencing who wins. But Secretary of State John Kerry has met Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani twice in the last month, underlining the importance of the relationship to Washington.

The U.S. needs Pakistan’s help in battling Islamic militants and negotiating an end to the war in neighboring Afghanistan.The relationship has been severely strained in recent years, especially following the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden near Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point. But it has never broken down completely and has settled into a wary calm over the last year or so. Trust is still in short supply, but both sides recognize they can’t do without each other.

“We have moved into a phase of reduced expectations of each other, which is good,” said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. “It’s what they call the new normal.”

Imran Khan, who many analysts believe will end up playing a key role in the opposition after the election, has been even more critical of Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S., saying he would “end the system of American slavery.”

But the manifesto of Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, is more tempered, saying “Pakistan will endeavor to have a constructive relationship with the U.S. based on Pakistan’s sovereign national interests and international law, not on aid dependency.”

Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S. – and foreign policy in general – has been less of a focus in the election than domestic issues, such as corruption, pervasive energy shortages and stuttering economic growth.

Lodhi believes this is because the U.S. has said it is largely pulling out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and is seeking a peace settlement with the Taliban – a move long advocated by the Pakistani government and supported by the main contenders in the election.

“That has helped to take the edge off negative sentiment in Pakistan which we saw in the last couple of years against the United States,” Lodhi said.

One issue that continues to create tension between the two countries is the U.S. drone program targeting Islamic militants in Pakistan’s rugged tribal region near the Afghan border.

The attacks are extremely unpopular in Pakistan. They are seen as violating the country’s sovereignty, and many people believe they kill mostly civilians – an allegation denied by the U.S.

Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders have contributed to these perceptions by criticizing the strikes in public in the past, while supporting them in secret. This support has declined over time as the relationship between the two countries has worsened.

The number of strikes has dropped from a peak of more than 120 in 2010 to close to a dozen so far this year, but it’s unclear how much this trend has been driven by U.S. decisions about targeting versus the political sensitivity of carrying out strikes.

Khan, the former cricketer, has sharply criticized U.S. drone attacks and has even pledged to shoot down the unmanned aircraft if he came to power.

Sharif has also been a vocal opponent of the strikes in the past, although he hasn’t made them as much of a focal point of his campaign as Khan has.

Nevertheless, Daniel Markey, a South Asia expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, believes Sharif would work with the army to renegotiate the use of drones in Pakistan if he took power.

“In the end, I think probably some accord will be reached in which the use of drones will probably be curtailed from where they have been over the past couple of years,” Markey said during a recent call with media. “But they will continue, particularly against high-value targets when they are found.”

However, Lodhi, the former ambassador, has doubts Sharif would pick a high-profile fight with the U.S. over drones since the number of strikes has decreased so much.

“The centrality of drones may not be what it was in the past,” Lodhi said. “Why would you want to whip up something that is going down anyway?”

Associated Press

Posted: May 01, 2013 4:17 AM MSTUpdated: May 01, 2013 4:17 AM MST


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Archive Article: Pakistan: The Real Swing State

Pakistan: The Real Swing State

By Beenish Ahmed, November 6, 2012


Outside a downtown Islamabad coffee shop that sells an assortment of French macaroons (cupcakes are so passé), I strike up a conversation with Omar Malik.

A 34-year-old who works for a private telecommunications company, Malik seems liberal. Liberal in the way Americans stumbling through Muslim-majority countries might find comforting.

images-111He’s dressed smartly in a collared shirt—with only the appropriate number of buttons unbuttoned. He sips a latte and speaks in flawless, albeit slightly accented, English.

When it comes to American politics, though, he isn’t technically “liberal” —at least as far as U.S. political categories go.

“Republicans have historically always been better for Pakistan than Democrats,” Malik says matter-of-factly. “In terms of the relations that we have had, I think Bush was a much better president than Obama or Clinton was.”

He leans back in his lawn chair when I inquire further. This is not what I expected to hear from a man outside a posh cafe on a Saturday night, but he continues, “In terms of foreign policy, in terms of [not] giving preference to India over Pakistan, the Republicans have been much more balanced,” Malik says.

I remind him of how, when pressed during the presidential debate on foreign policy, Mitt Romney said he’d continue President Obama’s policy of using drones to target terrorist enclaves in Pakistan.

But Malik is resolute. He chalks Romney’s assertion up to campaign rhetoric. The sort of tough-on-terror talk, he says knowingly, that Obama also ran on four years ago.

Pakistan has long been seen by American analysts as a “wildcard” state—a sort of trick card that either appears as a Queen of Hearts or a Joker depending on when, and for how long, you look.

It’s a trick ordinary Pakistanis—who would probably just as readily fill the streets to protest America as they would to claim a visa if the United States decided to offer up them up for free—can play just as well. Nearly three-fourths of Pakistanis polled said they see the United States as an “enemy.” That’s up from 64 percent just three years ago.

As if to say “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” another recent poll found that 43 percent of Pakistanis claimed they should have the right to vote in U.S. elections, a number topped only by people in Kenya, China, India, and Cameroon.                                                         

“Pakistanis should be given the right to vote,” says Rahat Khan, a 27-year-old who manages supply orders at a construction company in Islamabad. He adds completely earnestly, “After all, all of the decisions made about Pakistan are made in America.”

Khan even goes so far as to say that Pakistan should be made the “53rd state”—although he’ll likely have to brush up on his geography should he ever decide to actually apply for U.S. citizenship and cast a ballot in American elections.

If he could vote, Khan says, he’d cast a vote for Obama. But there’s one issue that he can’t get behind. “Being a patriotic Pakistani,” Khan insists, “I must say that drone attacks should be stopped.”

Like many Pakistanis, Khan sees the use of drones as an affront to his country’s sovereignty. The continuing attacks on sites the United States identifies as terrorist enclaves in the tribal areas are approved by only a small number of elite Pakistanis. He says the unmanned assaults kill more innocent people than the terrorists they target.

The vitriolic issue of drone strikes is compounded by a number of other incidents that have stoked Pakistani anger at America.

In January 2011, CIA contractor Raymond Davis shot and killed two Pakistani men in the city of Lahore. To make matters worse, a car coming to aid Davis from the U.S. consulate killed a man in the street before speeding off down the wrong side of the road. Although “blood money” was paid to the victims’ families, the incident spurred a public outcry over the evident impunity for Americans who had committed murder.

Then, last November, a U.S. attack on a military outpost near the Afghanistan border killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, leading Pakistan to close NATO supply routes into Afghanistan. The passages remained closed for months.

And of course there was the unannounced raid in which U.S. Navy SEALS killed Osama bin Laden four months ago, which Pakistanis largely believe to be either offensive or fictitious. 

Add up these incidents—along with the anger over the hokey film trailer defaming the Prophet Mohammad that inflamed the rest of the Islamic world—and it’s easy to come up with Obama’s incredibly low approval rating in Pakistan. Still, it is surprising that Pakistanis would see Obama on par with former President George W. Bush, whom many across the world still disapprove of for starting two wars on feeble foundations.  

The poll, which was conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, found that Pakistan was the only country of the 15 polled where ratings for Obama were no better than those maintained by former President George W. Bush.

Thirteen percent of Pakistanis polled said they would vote for Obama if they could, over a mere 9 percent who say they would support Romney. But the more telling statistic might be the 47 percent who believe that neither candidate would change U.S. policy.

Beenish Ahmed is a freelance journalist. She is a former NPR Kroc Fellow and received an MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies from the University of Cambridge through a Fulbright Scholarship to the United Kingdom.

recommended citation:

Beenish Ahmed, “Pakistan: The Real Swing State” (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, November 6, 2012)


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Was Raymond Davis Spying on Pakistan’s Babur Missile?


Was Raymond Davis Spying on Pakistan’s Babur Missile?

6:16 am in Foreign Policy, Government, Military, Pakistan by Jim White

As the diplomatic tussle between the United States and Pakistan over US demands for the release of Raymond Davis continues, it is interesting to note that their are varying reports of what Davis had in his possession (photos here) at the time he was arrested after shooting dead two Pakistanis on the streets of Lahore on January 27. Varying reports mention a GPS tracker, a GPS navigation system or a phone tracker, along with a telescope and digital cameras said to have photos of “sensitive” locations. In a very interesting development, we learn from multiple sources that on Thursday Pakistansuccessfully test-fired its Hatf VII cruise missile, which it also calls “Babur”. When the Express Tribune first reported that Davis’victims were from the intelligence community (which ISI has sincedenied and threatened the paper with legal action), the Washington Post followed up by mentioning that Davis was trailed and confronted because he had “crossed a red line“. Was gathering information on the impending test firing of the Babur missile that red line?

Unknown-10Pakistan has a history of developing missiles intended to be used with their nuclear weapons. This report (caution, it is old and dates from 1999 and quotes material from the Rumsfeld Commision) is interesting for where it states that M-11 missiles from China were seen:

The Rumsfeld Commission confirmed that complete M-11 missiles were sent to Pakistan from China. Pakistan has reportedly received more than 30 M-11s, which have been observed in boxes at Pakistan’s Sargodha Air Force Base west of Lahore. Intelligence officials believe Chinese M11s have probably been in Pakistan since November 1992, when China was “reconsidering” its stance on missile exports after the sale of U.S. F-16 aircraft to Taiwan. Since then, Pakistan has been constructing maintenance facilities, launchers and storage sheds for the missiles, all with Chinese help. China and Pakistan deny these reports.

Pakistan calls the M-11 the Hatf-III. The missile has a range of more than 300 km and a payload of 500 kg. It is a two-stage, solid-propelled missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The missile was reportedly test-fired in July 1997.

Of importance is the fact that the missiles were said to be at an air base west of Lahore. Now for the description of the sensitive photos Davis took:

“During the course of investigation, police retrieved photographs of some sensitive areas and defence installations from Davis’ camera,” a source told The Express Tribune requesting anonymity. “Photos of the strategic Balahisar Fort, the headquarters of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in Peshawar and of Pakistan Army’s bunkers on the Eastern border with India were found in the camera,” the source added.

So, just a few weeks after Davis may have provoked Pakistan intelligence into a confrontation with him, perhaps over sensitive photos he may have been observed taking in the Lahore area, Pakistan test-fires a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead:

Pakistan Thursday successfully tested a nuclear-capable cruise missile with a range of up to 600 km, a military official said.

The Hatf-VII missile, also called Babur after the 16th-century Muslim ruler who founded the Mughal Empire, was fired from an undisclosed location, said Major General Athar Abbas, a military spokesman.

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