Our Announcements

Not Found

Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn't here.

Archive for category Decline of Empires

“Pakistan Looks for Political Change and Stability but Nation Suspects Military Intervention”

Uncommon Thought

Since 2002

“Pakistan Looks for Political Change and Stability but Nation Suspects Military Intervention”

 
30 May2022
Pakistan Looks for Political Change and Stability but Nation Suspects Military Intervention

Stop Corruption

Share this…
Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on RedditDigg this

[Photo: Sondag]

By Mahboob Khawaja, PhD

Editor’s Note

Pakistan is not the only country to struggle with corruption in the top tiers of their government. In fact, the United States has participated in this type of corruption as a standard tool of international “diplomacy”. The U.S. may not pay kidnappers, but paying off politicians? No big deal. This should raise the question of whether our own politicians are really above such exchanges.

One significant factor in the history of Pakistan is shared with the entire region – imperialism. There is a desperate need for thorough evaluations of the effects of imperialism. It is not simple, and each current nation, while sharing certain things with other former colonies, is also unique in the outcomes of imperialism. Each had its own history and civilization prior to conquest by some European nation. Each European nation had its own systems that interlaced with or supplanted others. The drawing of maps that rarely had meaning for the people on the ground, but in a European-organized world has a specific meaning, but often counter to that of the people. With the so-called ‘liberation’ of the former colonies, it was not “freedom” that was achieved, and who the reins passed to were often not in the best interests of the people or nation, but in the interests of external powerful players. Since the post-WWII period, that has often been the United States. Yet the struggles of these nations, as with Pakistan, are painted as being due to some internal failure and there is a fair amount of deception and racism in that laying of blame. However, it seems that the only ones who can possibly right the ship of state are the people.  

Mahboob Khawaja, PhD

A Nation, its Freedom and Future in Crisis

For a long time, Pakistan has been portrayed as a hybrid political culture – part human and part vulture overwhelmed with traditions of neo-colonialism, elite control, neglectful of people’s care, political change and elite systematic corruption to undermine the national freedom, security and a sustainable future. A suspicious and paranoid political elite implies dogmatic scenarios and management concepts to be rich and powerful and to make the poor and vulnerable obey their commands and lick their boots – the image of being a superior class of elite as British traditions have trained them for neo-colonial governance. The ruling elite enjoins solid systematic support from the former colonial landlords and the military establishment made influential by the British Raj. Even the so-called national freedom failed to bury the rituals of the dead past.

National honor and glory live in the conception of the good, not conspiratorial minds.  Something evocative and hauntingly familiar about the current protests and imagery of failed political governance is emerging across Pakistan. The quest for political change lacks the existence of public institutions to sustain reasoned politics, educated and intelligent leaders with proactive visions for change and adaptability critical to a constructive future-making. A snapshot of this critical moment in time and history unfolds dark imagery of political governance and military coups in Pakistan.  We, the People of Pakistan lost half of our country (East Pakistan), and India was allowed to occupy Kashmir, and we continued to lose more in socio-economic and political domains because of the dishonesty and failed leadership of Bhuttos, Sharifs and the Generals. These thugs stole billions and billions to own palaces in the UK, France and Spain. The Thinking People of the New Generation of Pakistanis view the Bhuttos, Zardari, Sharifs and Musharaf –  all in one slot – as the most corrupt, crime-riddled monsters who will never come to terms with reason and honesty to reflect on their own wrongdoings. They never imagined–how the present and future generations will remember them? All were individualistic and egoistic to victimize Pakistan, Islam and the masses. To safeguard Pakistan and its future, there should be NO Military intervention under any circumstances. If so, it will be the death of our national freedom, integrity and future.  The Pakistani elite are fearful if American political interest and interventions are questioned, Pakistan will lose the IMF funding – leaving unpaid debts – the corruption hub.

The current chaotic culture carries a lingering suspicion of the coming of martial law and some form of military dictatorship in alliance with the most corrupt, known thugs and indicted criminals of the recent past.  The evidence supports the alliance of defunct Bhuttos, Sharif’s, military generals, MQM and other infamous so-called Islamic parties.  There is no moral and political accountability for thugs and indicted criminals not to return to the threshold of political power.  (Please see more by this author, “Pakistan Imperatives of political Change for a progressive Nation”2019; “Pakistan where Politics and Corruption are the Same” 2014; “Pakistan New Postcard from Hell.” 2014; and “Pakistan-reflections on the Turbulent 69th Independence Day”: 2015; “Pakistan and India’s leaders Mark Freedom from British Raj but Masses look for a Navigational Change.” 8/16/2020. Pakistan has no credible law and justice system for governance, and the masses are entrenched in poverty and ignorance of political exploitation, often they are forced to believe in traditional authority and a wide range scheme of corruption-led system of opportunism as a normal way of Pakistani political life.

US AID and Political Corruption – Leading to Undermining National Freedom and Security

Pakistan was defeated by India in the 1971 war as a part of the conspiracy by ZA Bhutto and General Yahya Khan. Dr. Ishtiaq Qureshi (Editor Urdu Digest) wrote “Sakoot–i-Dhaka Say Purdah Uttha Hey” (1972), in which he described the details of how Bhutto and Yahya Khan betrayed Pakistan and stabbed the nation but were not held accountable for their crimes. Are Pakistanis still living in irrational denials of their own chapter of history?  (SeeBritish Colonialism and How India and Pakistan Lost Freedom.” Global Research.org:1/01/2022). Ms. Benzair Bhutto and her mother Nusrat Bhutto were alleged to have been involved in the killing of General Zia ul Haq, 12 Pakistani Generals, and 100 others in the C-130 Bahawalpur plane crash, in August 1988. When they became PM, they traded lists of Sikh and Kashmiri freedom fighters with Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi (Lahore meeting) and thousands of them were targeted and killed by Indian security forces. Ms. Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari were indicted by a Swiss court on a $60M money laundering crime but they still returned to political power. Nawaz Sharif hijacked the PIA plane with General Musharraf on board along with 265 or so passengers returning from Sri Lanka and wanted it to go to India. He was also involved in money laundering and twice dismissed on corruption charges, but still became PM a third time. Sharifs, Ms. Bhutto, and Zardari stole several billions of dollars to buy properties in London, Paris and Spain. Pakistanis NEED soul-searching to realize the gravity of political corruption, national security, and how the nation continued to flop in a global context.

When the US occupied Afghanistan in 2001, Pakistani Generals, according to the NY Times (May 18, 2007), were paid by the US to act on its behalf – abducting and killing thousands of Pakistanis. America and India had a Strategic Plan to undo Pakistan by capturing its nuclear arsenals and asking for surrender. Was General Musharraf an accomplice to this plan? If not, why was a retired US General stationed in Islamabad to supervise the Pakistan nuclear site? Is US AID a vital link to systematic political corruption in Pakistan? Also, See “US-NATO Agenda-The Destabilization of Pakistan” 04/17/2009 by Professor Michel Chossudovsky. US President Trump refused to restore $595M Aid to the Pakistani military. Even US AID lacked information on who consumed the cash and where? Do Pakistanis have a sense of time, history, and honesty to determine who they were and where they are?  Progressive nations produce and bring the best and most intelligent ones to the role of leadership and responsibility. Rationally arguable was the coming of PM Imran Khan – a hope for the future crushed by political intrigues and force?

PM Imran Khan (PTI) a young person of some moral and intellectual capacity having optimism for political change and future was hurriedly ousted as he could not realize his political weaknesses and strength and the people around him and failed to hold the corrupt families of Bhuttos, Zardari and Sharfis and General Musharraf to legal accountability. Some of these people were indicted by courts but never served any punishment. One wonders, why Imran Khan did not think of an early election. Khan should have assembled a team of well-educated, intelligent, and honest young Pakistanis (thousands of them inside and overseas) and should have planned to rebuild public institutions and socio-economic and political integrity across a diverse nation. Sadly, he gathered thumb lickers, incompetent and party yes-men as a governing team. Khan should be held accountable as he wasted almost four years without any acclaimed political change in the country. Although he did not rob any banks nor kill anybody for personal agenda as did most of the others, he wasted time and opportunities for change and sustainable political governance. It is questionable if Khan could reclaim political power via fair elections. Vengeful and full of jealousy, the military-Sharif’s alliance could conspire to wipe out Khan to the unknown.

In 2019, this author offered Imran Khan a logical plan for sustainable change (Pakistan: How to change political culture of corruption and rebuild the future” Media Monitors Network, USA,2019). Most of his associates were uneducated and former loyalists of the current political opposition parties. None of them had any knowledge or experience in critical thinking, strategic planning, and change or future-making. Why did Khan waste almost four years in a fantasy of New Pakistan and failed to live up to his imagination?

If history is relevant and is seen as a source of learning and warning, undeniably all the contemporary politicians of Pakistan have failed to learn from the catastrophic past. Few single-minded Generals appear to be accomplices to support Shahbaz Sharif to purge the public consciousness of true freedom and incapacitate the nation for political change and development. Shahbaz Sharif has no legitimacy as an elected PM. Any such governance is a dead-ended conclusion of time and history. The NEED is urgent for a peaceful political solution for a fair national election at the earliest. Again, the National Assembly was used as a rubber stamp to oust Imran Khan, not an institution for reasoned politics and future-making. The political change can only be imagined by raising voices of REASON to challenge the corrupt systems of neo-colonialism and governance. Bruce Riedel, Brooking Inst, USA (“Battle for the Soul of Pakistan” ) former Obama’s advisor warns: “The changes in Pakistan are unlikely to come peacefully and will have major implications for India and America. The stakes are huge in the most dangerous country in the world.”

The Ideals of National Freedom and How to Move Forward for a Sustainable Future

One wonders, what is the tangible cure for the cruel mindset of the egoistic authoritarian politicians in Pakistan? The younger generations are disillusioned and are increasingly leaving Pakistan for Western countries. The brain-drain problem afflicts Pakistan adversely in socio-economic and political future-making as old and former subservient of British legacy run the country. With new generation migration, Pakistan is fast losing its best talents and energies for the present and future.

At the edge of REASON, the historic Pakistan Freedom Movement must be revisited and young generations should learn about the future. To undo the darkened past and reshape the turbulent present, Pakistan desperately needs new and honest people of an educated generation to plan and construct political change. The nation is boxed in by most cruel, incompetent and unproductive politicians. The Pakistani ruling elite 632 top civil servants have dual nationalities (Pak Media 2020) cannot be a credible source of having a primacy of national interest. Pakistan urgently needs a savior, a person of proactive vision, and honesty to pursue a navigational change for future-making; not Shahbaz Sharif, Bhutto, or the few Generals. The solution must come from the critical thinking hubs of the new educated generation – intelligent Pakistanis need to facilitate hope and optimism for a sustainable future for the beleaguered nation. You may find it relevant to see: “Pakistan- Leaders or Criminals” Uncommon Thought Journal, USA 2014. Under the present chaotic affairs,new Government of National Unity should be formed under a non-partisan and nonpolitical leader with moral and intellectual integrity for a period of two years; a New Constitution for a Presidential form of government should be framed with new public institutions under the leadership of a new generation of educated and honest people, and then a new election could give meaning and clarity to the purpose of democracy and transform the ideals of a progressive legitimate functional democracy.  The Need is desperate for the Pakistani nation to think critically and see the Mirror and stand firm in raising voices of reason for accountability and political change.

Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace, and conflict resolution with a keen interest in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Publishing Germany, May 2012. His forthcoming book is entitled: One Humanity and The Remaking of Global Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution

, , , ,

No Comments

Quest for independence by Brig,Gen(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Quest for independence

Asif Haroon Raja

Creation of Pakistan

The founding members of Pakistan led by Quaid-e-Azam took part in the freedom movement to free the Muslims of India from the oppressive yoke of the British and the Hindus and to establish a homeland for them where they could live as an independent nation and practice Islam freely. The movement was based on Two-Nation Theory. To the great joys of the Indian Muslims, Pakistan appeared on the world map on August 14, 1947 and shattered the Hindu-British conspiracy of keeping India united.

Ideals of Quaid-e-Azam

The Quaid had aspired to transform the new state into an Islamic welfare state on the model of Misaq-e-Madina with equitable justice, equal opportunities for social growth and equitable distribution of wealth, and free of external influences. He had cautioned them to stay away from provincialism, nepotism, hoarding, corruption and fanaticism. He had emphasized upon hard work, character building, honesty, unity, faith, discipline, honor and dignity.

Mini-mind leaders replaced the Quaid

After his untimely death, his successors pushed his dreams on the backburner and went the wrong way. Successive regimes and the elite class stuck to the British systems and lifestyle. They remained tied to the colonial mindset and behaved like Brown Sahibs and Begum Sahibas while dealing with the downtrodden and remained detached from them. Waderas, Sardars, Maliks and Choudhris were governed by a feudal mindset.  

Till 1956, Pakistan functioned under the British India Parliamentary Act 1935, and adopted each and every system of governance, administration and laws inherited from the British. Same was the case with the military which adopted the British training, technical & administrative systems and doctrines. Till Gen Ziaul Haq’s takeover in July 1977, the mess life was the same as was during the British rule, hard drinks and eating with the fork in the left hand were not considered un-Islamic. Islam lovers were looked down upon as uncouth and un-officer like. Drill cautions were in English and whole training of officers was and still is in English language. Those attending courses at Sandhurst in UK & Fort Leavenworth in USA had an edge over others to reach the higher pedestal.     

US-centric foreign policy

Under the guise of security threats from India and Afghanistan, our early leaders clutched the finger of the US and obeyed their dictates in return for monetary assistance and military hardware. This approach made the rulers addicted to western way of life and to the foreign aid and subservient to the wishes of the US and the West, making Pakistan a dependent country.

As a result of putting all its eggs in the basket of the US, Pakistan had to tailor its foreign policy suiting the USA and in the process compromised its sovereignty, dignity and honor.

Dependence on loans from the IMF and the World Bank increased manifold once the two mainstream political parties, the PPP and PML-N, took turns from 1988 onwards. Their leaders filled their coffers with ill-gotten wealth, discarded merit and moral values, and promoted nepotism and dynastic politics. As a result of their heartless plunder and misuse of the state resources, Pakistan’s economy has remained in the woods.

Policy of appeasement

Since beggars can’t be choosers, the rulers had to adopt a policy of appeasement to keep Washington in good humor. They had to perforce bear the repeated betrayals of the US and its highly discriminatory policies. Appeasement in the form of ‘doing more’ crossed all limits after 9/11. No leader uttered a word in protest when it suffered a human loss of 80,000 people and financial loss of $ 150 billion while fighting the US imposed longest war on terror.

No civil or military leader could dare to object to the US interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs or the haughty behavior of the US officials. They couldn’t pick up courage to say that the so-called friends and allies were in reality behind cross-border terrorism. Fear psychosis governed their policy of appeasement. They begged for aid but never sought compensation and war reparations from the USA. They somehow got obsessed with the idea that Pakistan’s survival could be jeopardized without the US patronage and its support.

The privileged class never objected to the overly pro-US tilt since they are also beneficiaries of the US largesse. None realized that the ones begging for aid are never respected and the aid givers feel no compunction in treating them like slaves. Master-servant relationship has remained in vogue since 1954. This being the accepted trend, to expect a relationship with the US on equal footing is unrealistic. This rhetoric is meant to throw wool into the eyes of the public and to hide their own timidity.   

Leaders and led out of sync

Contrary to the misperceptions and compulsions of the ruling regimes and the upper class who view the US favorably, the great majority in Pakistan hate the US and yearn to get rid of its perverse influence and meddlesome role. Having gone through the trials and tribulations, they clearly see the dual faced and biased attitude of the US and the harms it has caused to them and their country. Due to contrasting perceptions, the leaders and the led in Pakistan have remained out of sync. The disadvantaged resent the advantaged class. 

Apart from anti-Americanism, other major cribs of the people are that the ruling regimes are insensitive, selfish, corrupt, anti-poor and hypocrites. These impressions got ingrained into their minds after comparing their affluent lifestyle and their callous showoff of wealth and power with their own wretched conditions.

It is shocking for them to see that there is no change in their lives from pre-partition days, nor in the insolent attitude of the rich class who treat them harshly but are submissive before the US and Europe. Slavish submissiveness to the US diktat has frustrated the people.

It is in the backdrop of callousness of the elite class and the rulers towards them and subservience of the leaders towards the USA that they saw in Imran Khan (IK) a glimmer of hope who had the guts to stand up to the American arrogance and bullying attitude. 

Role of the military

Out of 75 years of Pakistan’s political history, the military has ruled for nearly 33 years and for the rest of the period, it has been ruling indirectly. FM Ayub Khan nurtured ZA Bhutto, Gen Yahya Khan played into the hands of ZA Bhutto and Sheikh Mujib, Gen Ziaul Haq groomed Nawaz Sharif (NS) and Gen Musharraf extended his rule with the help of King’s Party and by giving NRO.  

Rise of the PTI

It was due to the growing resentment of the people against the two dynasties ruling the country since 1988 that the military establishment thought of making a new experiment with the emerging party PTI under IK in 2011. They saw in him all the traits of a successful leader who was honest, had charisma and dash, was determined and had a missionary zeal to accomplish his goals. He rose to prominence after his mammoth public meetings at Lahore and in Karachi in October 2011. 

Outcome of July 2018 elections

The one-seater PTI steered by IK and guided by invisible hands increased its political strength in the 2013 elections to 35 National Assembly (NA) seats, and it bagged the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). In the Centre and in Punjab, it was the 3rd largest party. In the 2018 elections, helped by the establishment, the PTI increased its tally to 115 NA seats and emerged as the single largest winning party, and gained a majority in KP. Its victory was, however, dampened since it couldn’t win even a simple majority in the Centre and in Punjab. As such it had to grudgingly resort to horse-trading and to bank upon the support of the allies to form governments in the Centre and in Punjab.

This milestone of defeating the two major parties was achieved by the PTI owing to the singular efforts of IK. His emphasis on justice on doorsteps, elimination of corruption, sympathy for the unemployed and the homeless, and above all his objections against war on terror appealed to the senses of the common people. What fascinated them was his vitriolic attacks on the top leadership of the PML-N, PPP and JUI-F and his resolve to put all the corrupt political leaders in jails and to bring back the looted wealth.                  

While PPP which had turned into a regional party in 2013 elections managed to retain its bastion of Sindh, the PML-N was the biggest loser since its head NS was disqualified from the seat of PM in July 2017, removed from the chair of president of his party, and jailed for ten years. His party not only lost the elections, but it also lost its forte of Punjab. Since then the PML-N leaders are grieving that the establishment had stolen their victory to hand over power to the selected. Their cribbing had weight since the establishment had decided to try a fresh horse with a clean record.     

Aims of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)

The PDM under the leadership of Maulana Fazlur Rahman, comprising 13 parties was formed in 2019 with a view to force the PTI regime to hold early elections. The PDM leaders wanted to unseat IK not because of the dwindling economy and price hike, but because of the tightening noose of accountability around their necks. IK didn’t agree to forgive their sins as Gen Musharraf had done, and was hell-bent to take the mega corruption and money laundering cases pursued by the NAB to their logical conclusion.

Finding all their escape routes getting blocked, the PDM stepped up their efforts in 2021 towards the achievement of their one-point agenda of getting rid of IK. They drew strength from the lack of performance of the ruling regime, failing to fulfill any of the rosy promises made by IK, and increase in the menace of corruption. The health of the economy couldn’t be improved due to unprecedented tough conditions imposed by the IMF, the blackmailing attitude of the FATF and Covid-19 which affected the economies of the whole world. 

Once the people started to complain about record breaking inflation, price hike and devaluation of the Rupee, the PDM leaders added ‘incompetency and inefficiency’ to their narrative of ‘selected and selectors’.

Dawn of 2022 saw the popularity of IK declining and PTI financial managers seemed unable to stem the decline in macroeconomics. Rupee value and economy kept waning while foreign exchange reserves, foreign/local debts, inflation, and prices kept shooting up.

Improvements overshadowed by price spiral

The PTI government handled the Covid-19 challenge adeptly and earned kudos from the world, it increased the volume of exports and reduced the current account deficit, and also expedited work on seven dams. However, its inability to control the price spiral overshadowed its achievements. Due to lack of parliamentary majority and policy of non-cooperation with the opposition, no major reform could be undertaken.

PDM didn’t pose a threat

In spite of the lack of governance and financial mismanagement of the ruling regime, the PDM posed no threat due to its internal divisions. There were differences of opinions between the PML-N and the PPP whether to opt for mass resignations from national/provincial assemblies, or to go for vote-of-no-confidence (VoNC).

There were differences within the PML-N as well; elder brother and her daughter wanting a hawkish approach towards both PTI and the establishment, and the younger brother preferring a dovish approach.

These variances went in favor of the PTI. The other big advantage enjoyed by the PTI was the full back-up support of the establishment

Neutrality of the establishment

Problem started when differences arose between IK and Gen Qamar Bajwa over the posting out of DG ISI in July 2021, over Punjab and KP chief ministers Buzdar-Mehmood, and PM’s chief secretary Azam Khan, IK’s lambasting of Gen Musharraf, his lack of diplomatic skills in dealing with the US, Arab Gulf States and China, and his refusal to adopt a policy of accommodation with the opposition.

When IK refused to listen to saner advice from the establishment, and didn’t perform on ground, the establishment decided to become neutral. This mid-stream change of posture went entirely in favor of the PDM and in disfavor of the PTI.  

The US interference

Matters took a dramatic turn in March 2022 when the US meddled into internal politics of Pakistan by threatening to change the regime. The Biden administration was impelled to intervene due to IK’s policy of defiance starting from ‘Absolutely Not’, his visit to Moscow, abstaining from voting in the UN, refusing to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and forging closer ties with Russia.

Biden couldn’t afford non-cooperation at that critical juncture since it could give ideas to other US allies to become defiant. Sri Lanka had also abstained from voting. The US hurried to unite the divided PDM, purchase the dissident legislators of the PTI and provided funds to Zardari to make the VoNC successful.

Victim of foreign conspiracy

The shoddy manner in which the new regime took over power on April 9 gave a ready-made narrative to the fallen party to beat its detractors with. Unlike previous regime changes whose ouster through military coups or presidential acts were celebrated by the people and the opposition parties distributed sweets, this time the reverse happened.

The public is sympathizing with the ousted party and censuring the ones who are holding the reins of power. They and the neutrals are dubbed as traitors. IK whose popularity was on the decline and would have further dipped by mid-2023, has made a turnabout and it is ascending. He has once again become the most popular leader as can be seen from the mammoth public gatherings in various cities he is addressing.

Takeover of new government

Shahbaz Sharif (SS) has taken over at a time when Pak economy is at the brink of collapse. He and other PDM members vied for ouster of the PTI regime but had no plans in hand how they would steer the sinking ship out of the choppy waters.

Herculean efforts are required to salvage the crisis situation, but he and his team are giving glum looks. SS has lost his old flame and he urged other partners as well as the NSC to share the responsibility collectively once he took tough decisions to meet the demands of the IMF.

He will be able to present the budget in June and move the economic wheels only if the IMF as well as other friendly countries extend loans up to $ 12 billion. Petrol bomb has been dropped to soften the IMF. Loans will be a temporary remedy to remove the headache but wouldn’t cure the chronic illness. His biggest challenge is, how to deal with IK led PTI which has pledged to protest if the government doesn’t agree to hold elections within 90 days.

War of narratives and sabre rattling

The PTI succeeded in selling its narrative to the public which is based on ‘foreign conspiracy and imported government of looters and traitors’. He played the victim card shrewdly by emphasizing that he had been removed from power since he wanted to frame an independent foreign policy free of the US influence so as to make Pakistan truly free and independent.  

The people loved him on account of his bold defiance to the US bellicosity which none had ever exhibited. They heckled and harassed the defectors and all those who were part of the conspiracy. The people are not accepting the new set-up whom they see as rotten eggs.

Being a crowd puller, he attracted huge crowds in his public meetings in various cities from April 12 till May 22. The high-pitched fervor and emotionalism on display since April 10th was rarely seen before. His fading charisma has revived and his inanities during his 3 ½ years rule forgotten and forgiven and he is riding on a high crest of popularity.

Bolstered by the massive size of the rallies and the gusto of his supporters, IK gave further fillip to his narrative by terming his fightback as a war of independence. He vehemently castigated his opponents, the ECP, the judiciary and the army chief whom he mockingly called ‘neutral’, a ‘facilitator’, a ‘handler’ of the conspiracy. After naming him Mir Jaffar in his Abbottabad speech, he changed his stance at Jhelum by saying he meant SS.

IK and other PTI senior leaders are violating the constitution, endorsing politics of agitation, hate and violence, and are inciting their followers. IK and Sheikh Rashid arrogantly crowed that it will be a bloody long march which no power on earth will be able to stop.

He gave a call to his supporters all over the country that he wanted two million marchers to storm Islamabad (Isbd) on May 25 from two directions like a hurricane and sweep away all the obstacles and the sitting government. He declared the long march as Azadi march and demanded early elections.

Judging from the extensively heightened emotions and fervor of his supporters in the public gatherings, IK had no doubt in his mind that they would overcome all the obstacles and reach D-Chowk in Isbd. He was over-confident that next time he will sweep the elections with a thumping majority. 

Government’s response

To dampen the rising tide of PTI’s public gatherings, the PML-N, PPP and JUI-F leaders also held public meetings but those were no match to the PTI jalsas. The government couldn’t have matched PTI’s offensive without an effective narrative as appealing as that of PTI’s narrative. Worthwhile narrative cannot be framed with two PMs (NS and SS), and two finance ministers (Dar and Misbah), and divided thoughts on early or delayed elections. Zardari ruled out elections without electoral reforms and change in NAB laws. 

As a tit-for-tat, Maryum Nawaz and other PML-N leaders also resorted to similar tactics of injecting hatred into politics. A series of corruption cases are being initiated against the PTI leaders. Tosha Khana and Farah Gogi cases are being investigated hoping that it would help in tearing the mask of honesty worn by IK and in belittling him. Unlike the last tenure of PML-N in which it was very soft towards the vandalism of the PTI, this time the coalition government with hardnose Rana Sanaullah as Interior Minister, was determined to deal with the Azadi marchers with an iron hand the way the TLP activists were brutalized by the former regime.

The crackdown started in Punjab and in Sindh a day earlier to the D-Day. Houses of PTI leaders and their supporters were raided in dark hours. The routes to Islamabad were blocked with containers. On D-Day, the police made extensive use of teargas shells, rubber bullets and batons.  

Drop scene of much-publicized long march

The PTI had strategized a two pronged assault on Islamabad from Punjab and KP. After the loss of Punjab, it was left with only one base of operation in KP where it has a strong govt. IK had to call off the sit-in at D Chowk abruptly due to extremely stiff actions of the law enforcers and the number of marchers who were well below 30-50,000. Justification given by him is that he feared a bloody clash since many of the PTI activists were armed.

Another threat hurled

After the show of force on May 2 backfired due to strong resistance put up by the law enforcers, the PTI has once again threatened to storm Isbd with greater preparations and fervor after 6 June if the imported govt didn’t announce the election date. This time the PTI intends to attack under the judicial cover and wants the judiciary to tie the hands of the law enforcers, failing which it would come well-equipped and better prepared. KP’s CM Mehmood has disclosed his intentions by stating that they would come with full force to Isbd.

Having weathered the storm, the interior minister is feeling more confident that he will frustrate their intimidating tactics and use of force. Maryam Nawaz is keeping the political temperature high and is urging the judiciary to stay out of the political tussle. 150 FIRS have been registered against the top leaders and activists of the PTI in various police stations on charges of arson.

Penchant for early elections

Early elections are being advocated by all and sundry as the only solution to the volatile political situation. In their view, if early elections are not held there will be a big clash and things would get out of control and might lead to a civil war.

This argument would have been weighty, had the situation not been abnormal and political polarization not touched the zenith, and the economy had some life to sustain the expenses of elections and its fallout effects. It is feasible if electoral reforms had been done and the two most trusted institutions of the military establishment and the judiciary not been compromised by the politicians. The ECP is not trusted by the PTI. So who will ensure free and fair elections, and who will ensure that this time both sides will gracefully accept the results??

Foreign agenda

No one is looking at the bigger game of the US which has all along been trying to roll back Pakistan’s nuclear/missile programs. Route to Pakistan’s nuclear program is through its custodians and not the politicians. For them, the chief concern is to weaken the trunk of the army. To this end, the Indo-US-UK-Israel nexus have been hatching never-ending conspiracies and have used the tool of subversion extensively to poison the minds of the people against the army. They have failed but have not given up their agenda.

It is for the first time that they have succeeded in creating some cracks within the fort of the army and the veterans. For the first time a segment within the serving and retired army officers are trusting IK and mistrusting the army chief which is onerous.   

Prudence and not violence is the need of the day

In the wake of extensively charged up emotions and hate-filled environments, there is a dire need to tamp down the political rhetoric and to let sanity prevail. Since neither side is prepared to lower their tempers and are bracing for a showdown, which could be bloody as hinted by IK, and the social media as well as the spoilers are sprinkling fuel to intensify hatred and to push the country towards chaos, anarchy and possible civil war, a third party will have to step in fast to act as a referee and to douse the fire. Unfortunately, the two premier institutions – the army and the judiciary – that have always come forward as saviors in testing times stand compromised.

 

The three pillars of the state – the military, the judiciary and the media – joined by intellectuals, academicians and prominent figures of civil society will have to play a role to put sense into the mind of egoist IK who has thrown tolerance, prudence and sagacity out of the window and is inciting the youth to resort to violence. His hate-filled rhetoric is dangerous, and his utopian narrative of “slavery or independence” is captivating but do not help in putting the crippled economy back on the rails. Disunited house is easy prey for the adversaries, while a united front would keep them at bay.

 

 

 

Additional Reading

Who Was That Masked Man? | Start Searching for the Main Character? | Who was Telling America ?

 

 

 

 

 

     

Ways and means will have to be found to stop the poison being injected into our minds by the West and India, which has colored our perceptions and affected our rational thinking.

Pakistan urgently needs reforms, political stability and economic uplift and not delusional so-called Azadi which is a route to destabilization.

Like a Loya Jirga in Afghanistan, there is an urgent need for a national dialogue in which all stakeholders should sit down under one roof. They should first decide as to which system is more suitable and practical and is closer to the aspirations of the people.

The writer is retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence, security & political analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, takes part in TV talk shows, and delivers talks. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

, , ,

No Comments

America, Russia and NATO look for new frontiers of influence by MAHBOOB A. KHAWAJA

America, Russia and NATO look for new frontiers of influence

 MAHBOOB A. KHAWAJA

Why the Lessons of History are Ignored

America, Russia and NATO’s Geneva diplomatic talks ended in failure without any formal course of action to avoid military confrontation on Ukraine’s border. Other vital issues include how to treat each other in a futuristic imaginary encounter of common interests. The global community is watching the prelude to a staged drama of unwarranted warfare with profligacy, malevolence and unknown miseries of unthinkable multitudes. All the superpowers — the stage actors of the 21st century have fictitious monsters equipped with innovative sophistry and captivating eloquence to talk about peace, security, human rights, global order and justice. They are master of deception playing on the passion of entrenched and exhausted mankind as if they could stop the emerging pains, horrors and devastations of warmongering to ensure a return to normalization of human affairs. To an inner human analytical eye encompassing proactive sense of global peace and harmony, it does not appear rational to articulate fears and misleading intentions to safeguard human peace and dignity while all the actions speak of a different language of obsessed assertions based on their own despotic national interests.

They claim peace but talk about threats of wars — how to rationalize the irony of human wickedness and inherent deception. Was the same stage drama not enacted during the First and 2nd World Wars killings millions and millions of people across this Planet Earth?

Human progress and future-making are jeopardized when lessons of history are deliberately misinterpreted and ignored by the paranoid, vengeful and suspicious leaders. If war is the only avenue to seek peace, we are on the wrong side of history and thinking of our future. It took several centuries to Europeans to understand the false shadows of apprehension of peace and harmony and to come to terms with nation-building, some resemblance of democracy, human equality of rights and unity for future-making via the EU. A reasoned perspective would illustrate that Russia after breakdown of the former USSR is not the same inheriting entity of Communist authoritarian ideology, leadership, institutions, political thought, policies and practices within the working systems of global order. There are visible progressive movements for political change, open communications, elections, institutional developments and global interactions and seeking reunion with the global order, UNO, world institutions, friendly relationships with adversaries and balanced socio-economic ties with others. To enlarge the scope of reason and understanding, Russia needs formidable change as it appears to be forging on different national strategic interests; its position on Ukraine is not the same as eluded by most NATO members. Ukraine and Russia have common geography and history just like Britain, France and Germany have. Would it not be a matter of extreme political-strategic sensitivity if other perceived enemies would dare to come close to military confrontations in Western Europe? It is logical that true friends of humanity will not act blindly to cause wild uproars and evil-mongering against the people anywhere on this planet.

Is NATO relevant to the 21st Century Emerging Conflicts

The focal issue seems to be the prospective membership of Ukraine to the community of NATO in Western Europe. America and Russia and other EU members enjoin conflicting views on this issue. Ukraine claims its freedom to join any international organizations for its betterment, peace and security. Russia and America should not be concerned except that they want to draw certain strategic gains out of this chaotic perceived tragedy of futuristic warfare. After the dreadful consequences of the Two World Wars, NATO was formed by the Europeans to maintain peace and security and avoid futuristic unwarranted national wars within the European hemisphere. Its formation and scope is limited to nationalistic conventional warfare in the European theatre.

One wonders, what wars did NATO fight to protect its ideals and strategic priorities after the 1945 WW? What NATO had to do with Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? Were these accidental engagements or simply an extension of planned mischievous catastrophic instances of tyranny against the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere who never posed any threat to NATO, America or to any Western European nations?

  • American and European leaders pushed soldiers to fight unwanted draconian wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and other parts of the Middle East.
  • Millions of innocent Afghans, Iraqi and Libyan civilians and Western troops were killed during the US-led NATO wars in these regions.
  • Could any American-European leaders explain why every day approximately 18-25 US war veterans commit suicides? (“Why Do Soldiers Commit Suicide and Global Warlords.” Uncommon Thought Journal, USA).

How would one rationalize the role and actions of NATO in a global theater of strategic interests? The history of NATO and its plans and ideological motives are equally distorted and disfigured on the global screen of reason, honesty and accountability. Russia overtook eastern parts of Ukraine — Crimea by forces aligned to Russian speaking masses and trying to integrate those territories into the Russian federation. This issue has been discussed between Russian President Putin, former German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron on several occasions. Could America, Russia and Europeans not talk again for a peaceful resolution of this and other related problems?

Looking for Hope of Peace Beyond the Lens of Geopolitics

Scott Ritter (is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD): What War with Russia Look Like (Global Research: 01/11/2022): explains the irony of current affairs:

If the U. S. tries to build up NATO forces on Russia’s western frontiers in the aftermath of any Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia will then present Europe with a fait accompli in the form of what would now be known as the “Ukrainian model.” In short, Russia will guarantee that the Ukrainian treatment will be applied to the Baltics, Poland, and even Finland, should it be foolish enough to pursue NATO membership. Russia won’t wait until the U. S. has had time to accumulate sufficient military power, either. Russia will simply destroy the offending party through the combination of an air campaign designed to degrade the economic function of the targeted nation, and a ground campaign designed to annihilate the ability to wage war. Russia does not need to occupy the territory of NATO for any lengthy period-just enough to destroy whatever military power has been accumulated by NATO near its borders.

Is NATO being managed by those people who lived in the distant past and perhaps post WW2 historic culture is still alive and flourishing? Is there any glimpse of hope for change and new reasoned relationships between America, Russia and West European people? The future of violence and nationalistic resentment looks embedded into the distorted strategic necessities of the current affairs, be it the argument of Russia or American-led NATO and or the EU on its own. NATO is run by the wrong people, glued to wrong thinking and doing the wrong things without any rational sense of time, people’s interest and history. Craig Murray (NATO-an idea Whose Time has Gone), a former British diplomat and Rector of the University of Dundee, UK, foresees the body as obsolete to emerging strategic thinking and needs of the Western alliance:

It is also the case that the situation in countries where NATO has been most active in killing people, including Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan, has deteriorated. It has deteriorated politically, economically, militarily and socially. The notion that NATO member states could bomb the world into good was only ever believed by crazed and fanatical people like Tony Blair and Jim Murphy of the Henry Jackson Society. It really should not have needed empirical investigation to prove it was wrong, but it has been tried, and has been proved wrong….NATO’s attempt to be global arbiter and enforcer has been disastrous at all levels. Its plan to redeem itself by bombing the Caliphate in Iraq and Syria is a further sign of madness. Except of course that it will guarantee some blowback against Western targets, and that will “justify” further bombings, and yet more profit for the arms manufacturers. On that level, it is very clever and cynical. NATO provides power to the elite and money to the wealthy.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and is author The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order. “Provocations Have A History Of Escalating Into War: Can War Be Avoided and the Planet Saved?” Information Clearing House: (8/31/2018), strikes a proactive caution to all Western policy makers:

The Zionist neoconservatives who rule in Washington are capable of the same mistake that Napoleon and Hitler made. They believe in “the end of history,” that the Soviet collapse means history has chosen America as the model for the future. Their hubris actually exceeds that of Napoleon and Hitler. When confronted with such deluded and ideological force, does turning the other cheek work or does it encourage more provocation.

Every beginning has its end. America needs Navigational Change after January 6, 2021 Trump’s Revolutionary attack on democracy and the Constitution, and so does Russia and NATO in their search for peaceful transition to sustainable future-making. We, the People of global community live on one floating Planet Earth, and we must be conscious — who we are, how connected we are in human solidarity and where are we heading to in our imagination of the present and future. It is awful and a tragedy of human conscience to be speaking of military conflicts and territorial gains when mankind urgently needs an effective cure for the Covid-19 pandemic. George Floyd cries continues to be heard all over the globe: “I can’t’ breathe.” We are One People, One Humanity — ignorance, natural disasters, and man-made fatalities know not any borders, flags and nationalities but surge like wildfire as being witnessed in the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. Again political absolutism heightens animosity and hatred rather than human understanding and cooperation for a precious cause of saving human lives on Earth. To save life of one human being is to safeguard the whole of humanity. We are all born equal One Humanity: — the Divine Message of Al-Qur’an clarifies the truth:

“Proclaim in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created, Created man (human being) out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood, Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful, He Who taught (the use of) the Pen, Taught man (human being) that which he knew not.”


Reference

, , , ,

No Comments

Face of New Terror – Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K)

Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K)

This analysis of IS-K was published in 2018 and is not being updated. For a more recent analysis of Islamic State Khorasan from the Transnational Threats Project, please click here.

 

 
 

Figure 1: Afghan security forces patrol during ongoing clashes between security forces and Islamic State militants in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images

Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) is the Islamic State’s Central Asian province and remains active three years after its inception. The Islamic State announced its expansion to the Khorasan region in 2015, which historically encompasses parts of modern day Iran, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.1 Despite initial skepticism about the group’s existence from analysts and government officials alike, IS-K has been responsible for nearly 100 attacks against civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as roughly 250 clashes with the U.S., Afghan, and Pakistani security forces since January 2017.2 Though IS-K has yet to conduct attacks against the U.S. homeland, the group represents an enduring threat to U.S. and allied interests in South and Central Asia. This backgrounder is an overview of the history, leadership, and current strategic goals of IS-K.

Formation and Relationship with ISIS Core

In 2014, Pakistani national Hafiz Saeed Khan was chosen to spearhead IS-K province as its first emir.3 Khan, a veteran Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander, brought along other prominent TTP members—including the group’s spokesman Sheikh Maqbool and many district chiefs—when he initially pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi in October 2014. Many of these individuals were included in the first Khorasan Shura or leadership council.4

IS-K’s early membership included a contingent of Pakistani militants who emerged in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province around 2010, just across the border from the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan.5 Many of these militants were estranged members of TTP and Lashkar-e Islam, who had fled Pakistan to escape pressure from security forces.6 The appointment of Khan as IS-K’s first emir, and former Taliban commander Abdul Rauf Khadim as his deputy, further facilitated the group’s growth, utilizing long established recruitment networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.7 According to the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point, as of 2017, some members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the Haqqani Network, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) had also defected to IS-K.8

IS-K has received support from the Islamic State’s core leadership in Iraq and Syria since its founding in 2015. As the Islamic State loses territory, it has increasingly turned to Afghanistan as a base for its global caliphate.9 Following IS-K’s official pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State’s global “ummah,” Islamic State wilayats (or provinces) in Iraq and Syria publicly announced their congratulations for the movement’s expansion into Central Asia through media statements and videos.10 To that end, the Islamic State has invested some financial resources in its Khorasan province—as much as several hundred thousand dollars—to improve its networks and organization in Central Asia.11 Additionally, a recent United Nations publication commented that “[ISIS] core continues to facilitate the relocation of some of its key operatives to Afghanistan,” including Abu Qutaiba, the Islamic State’s former leader in Iraq’s Salah al-Din province.12 Afghanistan remains a top destination for foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) in the region, as well as for fighters leaving battlefields in the Levant.13 IS-K’s public affairs prowess, global prestige, and sustained resources facilitate the recruitment of these FTFs, drawing them away from other militant movements.

https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/Figure2%20-%20Copy.JPG?nNTjejnJ3DJ6hAud2xXuJS5NZzGX1baj
Figure 2: IS-K fighters graduating Abu Umar al-Shishani training camp in Kunar province, Afghanistan in December 2017.14

Leadership and Strategy

IS-K founding emir, Hafiz Saeed Khan, was killed by a United States airstrike in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, on July 26, 2016.15 Following Khan’s death, IS-K has had three subsequent emirs, all of whom have also been eliminated by the United States in targeted strikes: Abdul Hasib was killed in April 2017; Abu Sayed was killed on July 11, 2017; and most recently, Abu Saad Orakzai was killed on August 25, 2018.16 These leaders, as well as those at the district and provincial levels, generally possessed meaningful experience with local militant movements in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan prior to joining IS-K.

IS-K’s overarching strategy includes local and global objectives. In a 2015 video series, IS-K’s media office declared that “There is no doubt that Allah the Almighty blessed us with jihad in the land of Khorasan since a long time ago, and it is from the grace of Allah that we fought any disbeliever who entered the land of Khorasan. All of this is for the sake of establishing the Shariah.” It went on to declare, “Know that the Islamic Caliphate is not limited to a particular country. These young men will fight against every disbeliever, whether in the west, east, south, or north.”17 Like the Islamic State’s core leadership in Iraq and Syria, IS-K seeks to establish a Caliphate beginning in South and Central Asia, governed by sharia law, which will expand as Muslims from across the region and world join. IS-K disregards international borders and envisions its territory transcending nation-states like Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Furthermore, its global aspirations include “[raising] the banner of al-Uqab above Jerusalem and the White House,” which equates to the defeat of both Israel and the United States.18 IS-K’s ideology seeks to rid its territory of foreign “crusaders” who “proselytize Muslims” as well as “apostates,” which include anyone from Sunni Afghan National Army recruits to Hazara Shias.19 While there is no evidence that Islamic Khorasan has been involved in plotting against the U.S. homeland, it has mocked and threatened the United States in its official media streams and called for lone-wolf attacks in the West.20

IS-K seeks to establish a Caliphate beginning in South and Central Asia, governed by sharia law, which will expand as Muslims from across the region and world join.

IS-K carries out its global strategy in different operating environments by curating it to local conditions. Consider, for example, the divided region of Kashmir. It sits at the top of the Indian subcontinent and serves as a flashpoint for conflict between historically feuding nuclear powers, Pakistan and India. With nationalistic leaders dominating politics in both Islamabad and New Delhi, perpetual unrest in the disputed territories, and precedent of state-sponsored terrorism, Kashmir is fertile ground for future IS-K subversion.21,22 In Afghanistan and Pakistan, IS-K’s strategy seeks to delegitimize the governments and degrade public trust in democratic processes, sowing instability in nation-states, which the group views as illegitimate. Recently, in the lead up to 2018 parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, IS-K warned citizens in Nangarhar province, “We caution the Muslims in the province from approaching election centers, and we recommend that they stay away from them so as to safeguard their blood, as these are legitimate targets for us.”23 IS-K claimed multiple attacks on “elections centers” and security forces during the Afghan parliamentary elections, following through on their warning to “sabotage the polytheistic process and disrupt it.”24

Operations and Tactics

According to the CSIS Transnational Threats Project’s recent report on Salafi-jihadist groups, IS-K has a fighting force of between 600 and 800 militants as of October 2018. These numbers are down from peak levels in 2016 when its fighting force numbered between 3,000 to 4,000 militants.[25] Despite the decrease in known fighters, the IS-K continues to plot and carry out high-level attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan and attempts to export its violent ideology to the West.26 For example, IS-K released congratulatory videos after the 2016 Islamic State inspired attacks in Orlando, Florida, and Magnanville, France, and subsequently released additional footage pleading for further lone-wolf attacks in the West.27

Despite the aforementioned efforts to inspire attacks abroad, IS-K’s violence remains largely localized. Since January 2017, IS-K has executed 84 attacks against civilians in Afghanistan and 11 in Pakistan. In Afghanistan, 819 civilians have been killed across 15 provinces, with the highest levels of violence in Kabul and Nangarhar.28 IS-K focused on Kabul and key provincial capitals during the October 2018 parliamentary elections, and future attacks are likely to follow a similar pattern; with presidential elections scheduled for 2019, IS-K “sleeper cells” will continue to plan “visible and disruptive attacks” in Kabul, Herat, and Jalalabad.29 In Pakistan, IS-K is responsible for the deaths of 338 civilians since January 2017, largely a result of attacks targeting electoral and sectarian institutions.30 These tactics in Afghanistan and Pakistan further demonstrate IS-K’s localized strategy aimed at delegitimizing existing states, degrading trust in democracy, exploiting sectarianism, and sowing instability in its areas of influence.

Inter-Group Competition in Khorasan

Islamic State core’s decision to formally expand into South and Central Asia was premised on the region’s existing networks for recruitment and weak governance, as well as the group’s financial flexibility from success in Iraq and Syria. However, IS-K’s hostility towards Pakistan, indiscriminate takfiri violence, and willingness to exploit local grievances has mounted considerable aversion to the Islamic State in Pakistan and Afghanistan.31 Its expansion sparked violent conflict and rivalry between IS-K and some of the region’s existing militant organizations, most notably the Afghan Taliban.32

Figure 3: IS-K & Taliban Clashes 2017-201833

Since January 2017, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) has recorded 207 clashes between IS-K and the Afghan Taliban.[34] These clashes occurred in 14 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, though the majority took place in Nangarhar, Jowzjan, and Kunar provinces. Clashes in Nangarhar and Kunar are to be expected, as these provinces lay on the border with Pakistan and have served as bases of operation for IS-K since its founding. Violence in Jowzjan, however, largely stems from the defection of former Taliban and IMU commander Qari Hekmatullah, who pledged allegiance to IS-K in 2016. Hekmatullah’s networks in Jowzjan facilitated the Islamic State’s expansion in the province through March 2018, but following Hekmatullah’s death by U.S. airstrike in April 2018, the Taliban resurged.35 In recent months, the Taliban claims to have achieved “exemplary defeat” of IS-K in Jowzjan.36

Figure 4: IS-K Activity & U.S./NATO Airstrikes 2017-201837

United States Response

U.S. policy indicates the recognition of—and response to—the threat posed by IS-K and the escalating violence it has provoked in Central Asia. The U.S. Department of State designated IS-K as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on January 14, 2016, and United States Central Command has escalated its air campaign against the group since 2016 when rules of engagement expanded under President Obama and President Trump.38 According to data compiled by ACLED, U.S. and NATO airstrikes against IS-K have been conducted over 300 times since January 2017. Though the group’s presence across Afghanistan is increasing, airstrikes have been nearly exclusive to Nangarhar and Kunar provinces (96 percent of all airstrikes since January 2017) in an effort to target operational bases and leadership.39 All in all, while IS-K’s goal of establishing an Islamic state in Central Asia remains improbable, its propensity for exploiting grievances, catalyzing instability, and taking advantage of ungoverned spaces will make peaceful reconciliation and nation-building in Afghanistan difficult for the foreseeable future.

This terrorism backgrounder was compiled by Clayton Sharb with assistance from Danika Newlee and the CSIS iDeas Lab.

©2018 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. All rights reserved.


1Khorasan comes from the Persian language and means “where the sun arrives from” ; Markham Nolan and Gilad Shiloach, “ISIS Statement Urges Attacks, Announces Khorasan State,” vocativ, January 26, 2015, https://www.vocativ.com/world/isis-2/isis-khorasan/; LWJ staff, “Islamic State appoints leaders of ‘Khorasan province,’ issues veiled threat to Afghan Taliban,” FDD’s Long War Journal, January 27, 2015, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/01/islamic_state_appoin.php.
2Seth G. Jones, “Expanding the Caliphate: ISIS’ South Asia Strategy,” Foreign Affairs, June 11, 2015, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2015-06-11/expanding-caliphate; Data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, updated October 12, 2018.
3“Treasury Sanctions Major Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Leaders, Financial Figures, Facilitators, and Supporters,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, September 29, 2015, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0188.aspx.
4LWJ staff, “Pakistani Taliban Splinter Group Again Pledges Allegiance to Islamic State,” FDD’s Long War Journal, January 13, 2015, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/01/video_pakistani_tali_2.php; “Pakistani Taliban Vow Support for ISIS fighters,” Al Arabiya News, October 5, 2014, https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/10/05/Pakistan-Taliban-pledges-support-to-ISIS-.html ; Islamuddin Sajid, “Hafiz Saeed Khan: The Former Taliban Warlord Taking ISIS to India and Pakistan,” International Business Times, January 19, 2015, https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/hafiz-saeed-khan-former-taliban-warlord-taking-isis-india-pakistan-1484135; Ankit Panda, “Meet the ‘Khorasan Shura’: The Islamic State’s Leaders for South Asia,” The Diplomat, January 29, 2015, https://thediplomat.com/2015/01/meet-the-khorasan-shura-the-islamic-states-leaders-for-south-asia/; Franz J. Marty, “The Looming Specter of Daesh in Afghanistan,” Foreign Policy, February 9, 2015, https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/09/the-looming-spectre-of-daesh-in-afghanistan/.
5Borhan Osman, “The Islamic State in ‘Khorasan’: How It Began and Where It Stands Now in Nangarhar,” Afghanistan Analysts Network, July, 27, 2016, https://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/the-islamic-state-in-khorasan-how-it-began-and-where-it-stands-now-in-nangarhar/; Amir Wasim, “President Signs KP-Fata Merger Bill into Law,” Dawn, May 31, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1411156.
6Borhan Osman, “The Islamic State in ‘Khorasan’: How It Began and Where It Stands Now in Nangarhar.”
7Borhan Osman, “The Shadows of ‘Islamic State’ in Afghanistan: What Threat Does It Hold?” Afghanistan Analysts Network, February 12, 2015, https://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/the-shadows-of-islamic-state-in-afghanistan-what-threat-does-it-hold/; Don Rassler, “Situating the Emergence of the Islamic State of Khorasan,” CTC Sentinel, Volume 8, Issue 3, March 2015, https://ctc.usma.edu/situating-the-emergence-of-the-islamic-state-of-khorasan/.
8Amira Jadoon, Nakissa Jahanbani, and Charmaine Willis, “Challenging the ISK Brand in Afghanistan-Pakistan: Rivalries and Divided Loyalties,” CTC Sentinel, Volume 11, Issue 4, April 2018, https://ctc.usma.edu/challenging-isk-brand-afghanistan-pakistan-rivalries-divided-loyalties/.
9United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Ninth Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team Submitted Pursuant to Resolution 2255 (2015) Concerning the Taliban and Other Associated Individuals and Entities Constituting a Threat to the Peace, Stability and Security of Afghanistan (S/2018/466), May 30, 2018, https://undocs.org/S/2018/466.
10“IS Fighters in Salah al-Din Celebrate Pledge of Khorasan Province in Video, Behead Police Official,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 11, 2015, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Multimedia/is-fighters-in-salah-al-din-celebrate-pledge-of-khorasan-province-in-video-behead-police-official.html; “IS Fighters in Diyala Congratulate “Khorasan Province” for Pledging,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 20, 2015, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Multimedia/is-fighters-in-diyala-congratulate-khorasan-province-for-pledging.html.
11Seth G. Jones, “The Islamic State-Taliban Rivalry in Afghanistan,” Brookings’ Lawfare Blog, November 27, 2016, https://www.lawfareblog.com/islamic-state-taliban-rivalry-afghanistan.
12United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Twenty-Second Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team Submitted Pursuant to Resolution 2368 (2017) Concerning ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and Associated Individuals and Entities (S/2018/705), 6-17, July 27, 2018, https://undocs.org/S/2018/705.
13“English-Speaking IS Fighter in Khorasan Province Video Notes Presence of Indians and Russians in its Ranks,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 6, 2017, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Multimedia/english-speaking-is-fighter-in-khorasan-province-video-notes-presence-of-indians-and-russians-in-its-ranks.html; UNSC, “Twenty-Second Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team” ; UNSC, “Ninth Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team.”
14 “IS’ Khorasan Province Publishes Photos of Graduation from “Abu Umar al-Shishani” Training Camp,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 26, 2017, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/is-khorasan-province-publishes-photos-of-graduation-from-abu-umar-al-shishani-training-camp.html.
15 “Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Gordon Trowbridge on Strike Targeting an ISIL Leader in Afghanistan,” U.S. Department of Defense, August 12, 2016, https://dod.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/913820/statement-by-deputy-press-secretary-gordon-trowbridge-on-strike-targeting-an-is/.
16 “Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Gordon Trowbridge on Strike Targeting an ISIL Leader in Afghanistan,” U.S. Department of Defense, August 12, 2016, https://dod.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/913820/statement-by-deputy-press-secretary-gordon-trowbridge-on-strike-targeting-an-is/ ; “U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Strike Islamic State Leader; Maintain Pressure on Terror Network,” NATO Resolute Support, September 2, 2018, https://rs.nato.int/news-center/press-releases/2018-press-releases/us-forces-in-afghanistan-strike-islamic-state-leader-maintain-pressure-on-terror-network.aspx.
17“IS’ Khorasan Province Fighter Rallies Colleagues, Promotes Support of “Caliphate” in Video,” SITE Intelligence Group, June 3, 2015, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Multimedia/fighter-in-is-khorasan-province-rallies-colleagues-promotes-support-of-caliphate-in-video.html.
18SITE Intelligence Group, “IS’ Khorasan Province Fighter Rallies Colleagues, Promotes Support of “Caliphate” in Video.”
19“IS’ Khorasan Province Claims Killing 100+ in Suicide Operation on Save the Children Office, Other Institutions in Jalalabad,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 24, 2018, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/is-khorasan-province-claims-killing-100-in-suicide-operation-on-save-the-children-office-other-institutions-in-jalalabad.html.
20See, for example, “IS Video Promotes Afghanistan as Option for Immigration, Features Foreign Children and Adults,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 6, 2018, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Multimedia/is-video-promotes-afghanistan-as-option-for-immigration-features-foreign-children-and-adults.html.
21See, for example, Fayaz Bukhari, “Skirmishes in Indian Kashmir Leave Police Officer, Seven Militants Dead,” Reuters, September 11, 2016, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-kashmir-idUSKCN11H0PU; Bruce Riedel, “Modeled on Mumbai? Why the 2008 India Attack Is the Best Way to Understand Paris,” Brookings’ Markaz Blog, November 14, 2015, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/markaz/2015/11/14/modeled-on-mumbai-why-the-2008-india-attack-is-the-best-way-to-understand-paris/ ; See, for example, “IS Claims Killing Indian Intelligence Official in Kashmir,” , SITE Intelligence Group, September 10, 2018, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/is-claims-killing-indian-intelligence-official-in-kashmir.html; “IS’ Khorasan Province Claims 1 Indian Soldier Killed, 8 Wounded in Clash in Kashmir,” SITE Intelligence Group, June 22, 2018, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/is-khorasan-province-claims-1-indian-soldier-killed-8-wounded-in-clash-in-kashmir.html.
22See, for example, “IS Claims Killing Indian Intelligence Official in Kashmir,” , SITE Intelligence Group, September 10, 2018, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/is-claims-killing-indian-intelligence-official-in-kashmir.html; “IS’ Khorasan Province Claims 1 Indian Soldier Killed, 8 Wounded in Clash in Kashmir,” SITE Intelligence Group, June 22, 2018, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/is-khorasan-province-claims-1-indian-soldier-killed-8-wounded-in-clash-in-kashmir.html.
23“IS’ Khorasan Province Cautions Muslims in Nangarhar from Approaching Election Centers,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 30, 2018, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/is-khorasan-province-cautions-muslims-in-nangarhar-from-approaching-election-centers.html.
24“IS’ Khorasan Province Issues Formal Communique for Election Day Attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar,” SITE Intelligence Group, October 23, 2018, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/is-khorasan-province-issues-formal-communique-for-election-day-attacks-in-kabul-and-nangarhar.html ; “IS’ Khorasan Province Claims Inflicting 90 Casualties at Suicide Bombing at Election Rally in Nangarhar,” SITE Intelligence Group, October 2, 2018, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/is-khorasan-province-claims-inflicting-90-casualties-at-suicide-bombing-at-election-rally-in-nangarhar.html.
25Data from the CSIS Transnational Threats Project’s 2018 report, The Evolving Terror Threat (forthcoming).
26UNSC, “Twenty-Second Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team.”
27“IS’ Khorasan Province Shows “Joy” of Children for Orlando, Magnanville Attacks,” SITE Intelligence Group, June 15, 2016, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Jihadist-News/is-khorasan-province-shows-joy-of-children-for-orlando-magnanville-attacks.html ; “Fighters in IS’ Khorasan Province Call for Lone-Wolf Attacks in West, Challenge U.S. to Put Boots on Ground,” SITE Intelligence Group, June 19, 2016, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Multimedia/fighters-in-is-khorasan-province-call-for-lone-wolf-attacks-in-west-in-video.html.
28 Data is from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, updated October 12, 2018, https://www.acleddata.com/data/.

, , , , ,

No Comments

The end of American hegemony By Francis Fukuyama

The end of American hegemony

Influence abroad depends on fixing problems at home

By Francis Fukuyama

November 19, 2021
The horrifying images of desperate Afghans trying to get out of Kabul after the Western-backed government collapsed in August seemed to signify a major juncture in world history, as America turned away from the world. Yet in truth, the end of the American era had come much earlier. The long-term sources of American weakness and decline are more domestic than international. The country will remain a great power for many years, but just how influential it will be depends on its ability to fix its internal problems, rather than its foreign policy.
The peak period of American hegemony lasted less than 20 years, from the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to the financial crisis of 2007-09. The country was dominant in many domains of power—military, economic, political and cultural. The height of American hubris was the invasion of Iraq in 2003, when it hoped to remake not just Iraq and Afghanistan (invaded two years before), but the whole Middle East. America overestimated the effectiveness of military power to bring about deep political change, even as it underestimated the impact of its free-market economic model on global finance. The decade ended with its troops bogged down in two counterinsurgency wars, and a financial crisis that accentuated the inequalities American-led globalisation had brought about.

Termites in the floorboards

The degree of unipolarity in this period has been rare in history, and the world has been reverting to a more normal state of multipolarity ever since, with China, Russia, India, Europe and other centres gaining power relative to America. Afghanistan’s ultimate effect on geopolitics is likely to be small: America survived an earlier, humiliating defeat when it withdrew from Vietnam in 1975, but regained its dominance within little more than a decade. The much bigger challenge to America’s global standing is domestic.

American society is deeply polarised, and has found it difficult to find consensus on virtually anything. This polarisation started over conventional policy issues like taxes and abortion, but has since metastasised into a bitter fight over cultural identity. Normally a big external threat such as a global pandemic should be the occasion for citizens to rally around a common response. But the covid-19 crisis served rather to deepen America’s divisions, with social distancing, mask-wearing and vaccinations being seen not as public-health measures but as political markers.These conflicts have spread to all aspects of life, from sport to the brands of consumer products that red and blue Americans buy.

America’s influence abroad depends on its ability to fix its internal problems

Polarisation has affected foreign policy directly. During Barack Obama’s presidency, Republicans took a hawkish stance and scolded Democrats for the Russian “reset” and alleged naivety regarding Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump turned the tables by embracing Mr Putin, and today roughly half of Republicans believe that the Democrats constitute a bigger threat to the American way of life than Russia does.

There is more apparent consensus regarding China: both Republicans and Democrats agree it is a threat to democratic values. But this only carries America so far. A far greater test for American foreign policy than Afghanistan will be Taiwan, if it comes under direct Chinese attack. Will the United States be willing to sacrifice its sons and daughters on behalf of that island’s independence? Or indeed, would it risk military conflict with Russia should the latter invade Ukraine? These are serious questions with no easy answers, but a reasoned debate about American national interest will probably be conducted primarily through the lens of how it affects the partisan struggle.

The biggest policy debacle of President Joe Biden’s administration in its first year has been its failure to plan adequately for the rapid collapse of Afghanistan. Mr Biden has suggested that withdrawal was necessary in order to focus on meeting the bigger challenges from Russia and China. I hope he is serious about this. Mr Obama was never successful in making a “pivot” to Asia because America remained focused on counterinsurgency in the Middle East. In 2022, the administration needs to redeploy both resources and the attention of policymakers to deter geopolitical rivals and engage with allies.

The United States is not likely to regain its earlier hegemonic status, nor should it aspire to. What it can hope for is to sustain, with like-minded countries, a world order friendly to democratic values. Whether it can do this will depend on recovering a sense of national identity and purpose at home.

Francis Fukuyama: senior fellow at Stanford University 

This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition of The World Ahead 2022 under the headline “The end of American hegemony”

No Comments