Khwaja Asif Defends Pakistan Policy at USIP in Washington D.C.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif was a featured speaker at an event organized by Washington-based think tank USIP (United States Institute of Peace) where he was interviewed by Dr. Moeed Yusuf. The topics of discussion ranged from US-Pakistani relations and President Donald Trump's new Afghan policy to Pakistan's ties with Afghanistan and India.

Foreign Minister Asif with Dr. Moeed Yusuf at USIP in Washington

Here are some of the key Points made by Mr. Asif at this event held in Washington D.C. on Oct 5, 2017:

1. US funded, armed and trained militants to fight the Soviets in 1980s as part of the Cold War, then walked away without helping to rehabilitate them and left it to Pakistan to deal with them.

2. Pakistan does want to deal with these militants who are a liability for the country. Pakistan is working on finding the best way to do it.

3. US domestic politics prevents action on gun violence but Washington expects Pakistan to demolish all militant groups overnight.

4. India has 66 banned armed groups engaged in insurgency all over India. Only 4 linked to Pakistan.

5. Indian government's data shows over 36,000 infiltration attempts in India occupied Kashmir in 2001 and only 30 this year.

6. Ex US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said that "India has always used Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan. India has over the years been financing problems in Pakistan".

7. Gen Petraeus said at a RUSI presentation in 2016 that while he served as Centcom commander and then CIA chief, he saw no convincing evidence of Pakistan's support for Haqqanis.

8. Pakistan rejects US Defense Secretary Mattis' statement about working with Pakistan "one more time". Such talk is offensive to Pakistan and not conducive to cooperation with US.

9. The US has already lost the war in Afghanistan and now trying to salvage what it can from it. Further mistakes by US could force the Taliban and ISIS to get together and create a much bigger threat for Pakistan, the region and the West.

10. Indian Air Force Chief has threatened to carry out "surgical strikes" against Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. If that were to happen, don't expect any restraint from Pakistan.

Here's a video of the US Institute of Peace event featuring Khwaja Asif:

https://youtu.be/OsGy4NDEXMg




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Trump's Afghan Strategy

Who are the Haqqanis?

US Gun Violence, Islamophobia and Terrorism

700,000 Indian Troops vs 10 Millon Kashmiris

Secretary Hagel on India Using Afghanistan Against Pakistan

Gen Petraeus Says No Evidence of Pakistani Support For Haqqanis

Why is India Sponsoring Terror in Pakistan?

Are Russia and Iran Supporting the Afghan Taliban? 

What if Modi Attacks Pakistan?

Kautilya's Doctrine Dominates India's Pakistan Policy

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Objections to CPEC: India, US caught in their own snare?

http://dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/09-Oct-17/objections-to-cpec-india-us-caught-in-their-own-snare

US Secretary of Defence James Mattis’ statement on the CPEC, both the US and India find themselves trapped in their own snare. Without any reference to the entire Kashmir region, Mattis, inadvertently or otherwise, brought up the phrase ‘disputed territory’ when expressing his country’s reservations about the corridor. “The One Belt, One Road (of which CPEC is the flagship) also goes through disputed territory, and I think that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate,” US Defence Secretary James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee late last week.

India has always dismissed the notion of ‘disputed territory’ and called the entire region as its integral part. Major western capitals practically endorse New Delhi’s position and most have kept silence of expedience despite the wave of violence – hundreds of deaths, casualties and pellet-gun-induced fatal injuries to eyes – in the Indian-controlled Kashmir since the killing of Burhan Wani in Jualy 2016. Picking up on this paradox, General Nasir Janjua, the National Security Advisor, believes that the US Defence Secretary’s statement has resurrected the issue on the global radar. “This way the USA has not only recognisd Kashmir as a dispute but helped highlight it internationally,” Janjua told Daily Times.

"Washington should now step forward and help us seek a solution to Kashmir in the light of the UN resolutions," he said, "Kashmir has been bleeding and the world has looked on silently. Isn't it about time for the US to deploy its leverage for securing a peaceful resolution of a disputed territory?" Janjua asked.

Mattis' statement also validates Sino-Pakistan suspicions on the motives of the Indo-US opposition to CPEC.
Secretary Mattis has also said that the US opposed China's 'One Belt, One Road' policy in principle because in a globalised world, there are many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating 'One Belt, One Road'.

By endorsing the Indian position on CPEC, Mattis has basically pulled the cat out of bag and provided a glimpse of how the Trump administration plans to forge a new partnership with India on Afghanistan.

Earlier, during his September 25-27 visit to New Delhi, the Defence Secretary had exchanged vows of cooperation with his Indian counterpart Ms Nirmala Sitharaman. They agreed to enhance the Indian role in counter-terrorism training of the Afghan troops and building of the country's police force in the fight against the Taliban. Expanded role of Indian military is also under consideration to provide expertise in supporting the US-led training and advisory mission with Afghan security, the media has been told.

This convergence was not out of the blue; the Trump administration has been gradually ramping up pressure on Pakistan, manifest in statements before and after the strategy was unveiled; a day before his meeting with Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Secretary Mattis had upped the ante by telling a House Armed Services Committee hearing that the administration would try 'one more time' to work with Pakistan in Afghanistan, before turning to other options to address Islamabad's alleged support for militant groups.

Strangely, none of the reports by the US Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) since 2012 has ever made any reference to Pakistan as the sole source of Afghanistan's troubles.

On the contrary, both an alliance of Afghan NGOs (which prepared a 10-point Roadmap to Peace for Afghanistan) and the SIGAR have identified governmental corruption, warlordism, narcotics, Taliban and other non-state actors and abuse of fundamental rights as the primary reasons for Afghanistan's continued troubles.
Riaz Haq said…
THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > OPINION
Securing Pakistan’s nuclear assets

By Zamir AkramPublished: October 13, 2017

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1529618/securing-pakistans-nuclear-assets/


From Pakistan’s perspective, the greater threat to its nuclear assets has always been from the US or the Indians, rather than terrorists, and has taken robust measures to protect the safety and security of these assets. Accordingly, for Pakistan ensuring nuclear security is vital for ensuring national security. Had there been a window of vulnerability, the Americans would already have tried to penetrate it.

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The Indian air chief’s recent boast about striking Pakistan’s nuclear installations has been dismissed by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif with the contempt that it deserves. Not only is this threat contrary to the Pakistan-India agreement not to attack each other’s nuclear facilities but is nonsensical as Pakistan’s nuclear assets are not vulnerable to such an attack and would definitely invite a befitting response.

These Indian fulminations are encouraged by the negative American narrative about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, repeated most recently in President Trump’s South Asia policy speech. It is an open secret that the US has contingency places to de-nuclearise Pakistan ever since the start of its strategic programme. After 9/11, the American narrative has alleged the threat of terrorists or extremist “insiders” taking over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons which would have to be “neutralised” before that happens. More recently, with the development of Pakistan’s low-yield or so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons to negate India’s Cold Start doctrine, the Americans allege that these weapons, when deployed in the field, would be vulnerable to terrorist takeover or lack effective command and control. Actually, such allegations are more in response to Pakistan’s rejection of American demands to accept unilateral restraints on its strategic deterrence efforts in response to the growing Indian conventional and nuclear threat rather than any credible terrorist or insider threat.

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Pakistan has successfully defied American discrimination and intimidation. It is also cognisant of the emerging threats posed by cyber and electronic warfare, which require effective fire-walls and countervailing measures that have been put in place as part of the full-spectrum effort for the safety and security of our strategic assets.
Riaz Haq said…
What an #American #hostages rescue says about #US-#Pakistan ties: A new era of alliance? #Trump https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/analysis-caitlan-coleman-hostage-rescue-hints-new-era-pakistan-n810356 … via @nbcnews

The rescue of American hostage Caitlan Coleman and her family by Pakistan's military may prove to be a big step toward improving strained ties between Washington and its nuclear-armed ally.

Hours after details of the operation to free the Pennsylvania native from a horrific five-year ordeal emerged Thursday, statements by Pakistani authorities, the State Department and even President Donald Trump all praised the benefits of intelligence sharing and cooperation.

That appeared to indicate a positive turn in a relationship that has been fast deteriorating since the start of the Trump presidency. Before being elected to the White House, Trump had repeatedly tweeted that Pakistan "is not our friend."

“This rescue is an example of what intelligence sharing and mutual respect can do,” said Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, a Pakistani military spokesman. “It should now be clear to the Americans that cooperation works. Coercion and confrontation don’t.”

The Pakistan military said that it took action after being alerted by U.S. intelligence that Coleman, her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, and their three children were being moved across the border from Afghanistan.

They had been held captive by a Taliban-linked group. Boyle gave a harrowing account of their plight to reporters Friday, saying captors had killed their infant daughter and raped Coleman.

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News of the rescue produced glowing praise of Pakistan from Trump and Tillerson.

"This is a positive moment for our country's relationship with Pakistan," the president said in a statement. "The Pakistani government's cooperation is a sign that it is honoring America's wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region."

That represented a softer tone toward Pakistan from Trump.

In January 2012, he tweeted: "Get it straight: Pakistan is not our friend. We’ve given them billions and billions of dollars, and what did we get? Betrayal and disrespect—and much worse. #TimeToGetTough"
Riaz Haq said…
#Canadian #Hostage on His Daring Rescue by #Pakistan Army. #Afghanistan #HQN https://youtu.be/m1RJGnmWM3g via @YouTube


Josh Boyle: "A major comes over to me while I still have blood on me. The street is chaos and he says to me, 'In the American media they said that we support the Haqqani network and that we make it possible. Today you have seen the truth. Did we not put bullets in those bastards?' "And so I can say to you I did see the truth, and the truth was that car was riddled with bullets. The ISI (Pakistan's intelligence agency) and the army got between the criminals and the car to make sure the prisoners were safe and my family was safe. They put them to flight and they ran like cowards. And this is proof enough to me the Pakistanis are doing everything to their utmost."
Riaz Haq said…
Delhi's Jawaharlal University Professor Menon: "Everyone knows that India is illegally occupying Kashmir. It is said the world over. Everybody accepts (it)....The map of India in foreign publications like Time and Newsweek show a different map of Kashmir. These copies of the magazines always create a lot of controversies and are censored and destroyed. When the whole world is talking about India's illegal occupation of Kashmir, then we should think the pro-azaadi (pro freedom) slogans in the valley are justified"

https://youtu.be/KWp1E8xrY5E
Riaz Haq said…
#Taliban commander in #Afghanistan: “Taliban want to leave #Pakistan for #Iran. They don’t trust Pakistan anymore.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/31/150000-americans-couldnt-beat-us-taliban-fighters-defiant-in-afghanistan

'150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

Squatting on the floor, a brown shawl draped over his shoulders, the Taliban commander and his bodyguard swiped on their phones through attack footage edited to look like video games, with computerised crosshairs hovering over targets. “Allahu Akbar,” they said every time a government Humvee hit a landmine.

Mullah Abdul Saeed, who met the Guardian in the barren backcountry of Logar province where he leads 150 Taliban militants, has fought foreign soldiers and their Afghan allies since the US-led coalition invaded Afghanistan when he was 14. The Taliban now controls its largest territory since being forced from power, and seems to have no shortage of recruits.

By prolonging and expanding its military presence in Afghanistan, the US aims to coerce the Taliban to lay down arms, but risks hardening insurgents who have always demanded withdrawal of foreign troops before peace talks.

In interviews with rank-and-file Taliban fighters in Logar and another of Afghanistan’s embattled provinces, Wardak, the Guardian found a fragmented but resilient movement, united in resistance against foreign intervention.

Referring to Barack Obama’s surge, Saeed said: “150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us.” And an extra 4,000 US soldiers, as Donald Trump will deploy, “will not change the morale of our mujahideen,” he said. “The Americans were walking in our villages, and we pushed them out.” For the Taliban to consider peace, he said, “foreigners must leave, and the constitution must be changed to sharia.”


The war America can't win: how the Taliban are regaining control in Afghanistan

Arriving on a motorbike kicking up dust, Saeed and his Kalashnikov-carrying bodyguard, Yamin, were aloof at first but warmed as the conversation evolved. Saeed said that as the war has changed, the Taliban have adjusted, too. US soldiers now predominantly train Afghans, and have ramped up airstrikes.

“It’s true, it has become harder to fight the Americans. But we use suicide bombers, and we will use more of them,” Saeed said. “If the US changes its tactics of fighting, so do we.” That change has meant ever-fiercer attacks, with large truck bombs in populated areas and audacious assaults on military bases.

In April, Taliban fighters in army uniforms stormed a northern army academy and killed at least 150 soldiers in the biggest assault on the army of the entire war. This month, suicide bombers wiped out a whole army unit, ramming two Humvees packed with explosives into a base in Kandahar.

As Saeed spoke, three young boys from the civilian family at the house where the interview took place brought tea. They giggled as they listened in on the fighters’ radio. Saeed spoke with a calm, professorial demeanour but his words brimmed with the anger of a man who has spent his adult life fighting a generation-long war, and lost 12 family members doing it.

Pressed on the record-high number of civilian deaths in the war, he said the Taliban “make mistakes” and try to avoid harming civilians, but added: “If there is an infidel in a flock of sheep, you are permitted to attack that flock of sheep.”

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan: Mad Dog #Mattis Will Bark, but #Islamabad Won't Bite. #Afghanistan #Trump #terrorism #TTP https://goo.gl/ZU1FK1 via @Stratfor Worldview

As President Donald Trump's administration searches for an exit from the war in Afghanistan after over 16 years of U.S. involvement, the United States is making another high-level diplomatic outreach to Pakistan. On Dec. 4, Defense Secretary James Mattis arrived in Islamabad for meetings with Pakistan's top military and civilian leaders, including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. In these meetings, Mattis' mission is to convince Pakistani leadership to do more to attack militant safe havens and, in the long term, facilitate peace talks with the Taliban to end America's longest-running war. But Pakistan's leaders won't be easy to convince.

In the discussions, Mattis adopted a conciliatory approach by acknowledging Pakistan's sacrifices in the fight against terrorism, but he also reiterated Washington's demands. The United States has called for Pakistan to take more action against the militants that find refuge on its soil. Among them, crucially, is the leadership of the Taliban operating in Afghanistan.

Diplomatic outreach is just one of the ways the United States is trying to compel a change in Pakistan's behavior. Military aid is another. Last week, the latest report from the U.S. Congressional Research Service showed that the United States would further trim its annual aid package to Pakistan. In 2017, Washington doled out $526 million to Islamabad in exchange for its cooperation, which includes providing overland NATO supply route access through Pakistani territory. In 2018, that number is projected to drop to $345 million.

The United States has gradually trimmed the amount of aid it provides to Pakistan over the last several years. In 2014, for example, U.S. aid to Pakistan amounted to nearly $2.2 billion. For now, it appears that the U.S. strategy is to pursue incremental punitive measures against Pakistan, rather than pursue harsher tactics such as revoking Pakistan's non-NATO major ally status or cutting aid altogether. The United States isn't fully ready to bring out the stick, but the carrot is slowly being drawn back.

Pakistan wants to maintain its relationship with the United States, but it's willing to suffer the cost of deteriorating ties. From Islamabad's perspective, supporting the Taliban follows a rational calculation to ensure post-conflict Afghanistan is friendly to Pakistani interests. Support for Taliban leaders is aimed at denying Pakistan's rival, India, a foothold in Afghanistan. Because of this, Mattis' visit probably won't convince Pakistan to change its behavior, especially considering the Trump administration's calls for India to play a greater economic role in Afghanistan.
Riaz Haq said…
How the #heroin #Narco #trade explains the #US-#UK failure in #Afghanistan. #Washington’s massive military juggernaut has been stopped in its steel tracks by a small pink flower – the opium poppy. #Taliban #Trump #Pakistan

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jan/09/how-the-heroin-trade-explains-the-us-uk-failure-in-afghanistan

After fighting the longest war in its history, the US stands at the brink of defeat in Afghanistan. How could this be possible? How could the world’s sole superpower have battled continuously for more than 16 years – deploying more than 100,000 troops at the conflict’s peak, sacrificing the lives of nearly 2,300 soldiers, spending more than $1tn (£740bn) on its military operations, lavishing a record $100bn more on “nation-building”, helping fund and train an army of 350,000 Afghan allies – and still not be able to pacify one of the world’s most impoverished nations? So dismal is the prospect of stability in Afghanistan that, in 2016, the Obama White House cancelled a planned withdrawal of its forces, ordering more than 8,000 troops to remain in the country indefinitely.

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Despite almost continuous combat since the invasion of October 2001, pacification efforts have failed to curtail the Taliban insurgency, largely because the US simply could not control the swelling surplus from the country’s heroin trade. Its opium production surged from around 180 tonnes in 2001 to more than 3,000 tonnes a year after the invasion, and to more than 8,000 by 2007. Every spring, the opium harvest fills the Taliban’s coffers once again, funding wages for a new crop of guerrilla fighters.

At each stage in its tragic, tumultuous history over the past 40 years – the covert war of the 1980s, the civil war of the 90s and its post-2001 occupation – opium has played a central role in shaping the country’s destiny. In one of history’s bitter ironies, Afghanistan’s unique ecology converged with American military technology to transform this remote, landlocked nation into the world’s first true narco-state – a country where illicit drugs dominate the economy, define political choices and determine the fate of foreign interventions.

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The failure of America’s intervention in Afghanistan offers broader insight into the limits to its global power. The persistence of both opium cultivation and the Taliban insurgency suggest the degree to which the policies that Washington has imposed upon Afghanistan since 2001 have reached a dead end. For most people worldwide, economic activity, the production and exchange of goods, is the prime point of contact with their government. When, however, a country’s most significant commodity is illegal, then political loyalties naturally shift to the economic networks that move that product safely and secretly from fields to foreign markets, providing protection, finance and employment at every stage. “The narcotics trade poisons the Afghan financial sector and fuels a growing illicit economy,” John Sopko explained in 2014. “This, in turn, undermines the Afghan state’s legitimacy by stoking corruption, nourishing criminal networks and providing significant financial support to the Taliban and other insurgent groups.”
Riaz Haq said…
Q&A with Steve Coll on ‘America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan’


https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/books/qa-with-steve-coll-on-americas-secret-wars-in-afghanistan-and-pakistan/

Q: What is India’s role in Afghanistan?

A: It’s nowhere near as significant as Pakistan thinks it is. It has had a long relationship with the Afghan government, and supported Afghanistan when the government was reconstituted in 2001. It’s soft power — roads, hospitals, some military training. They don’t want to … further provoke the paranoia of ISI. As long as we (the United States) are in there fighting the terrorists, they can free-ride on our military commitment.

Q: Your book shows how officers within the ISI have continued to support the Taliban in Afghanistan, despite numerous deadly attacks within Pakistan and on Pakistanis by branches of the Taliban operating there. What is the motivation?

A: The Pakistani officer class — and they are ultimately the directors of the spy service as well — have a proud nationalistic tradition. There’s a conviction that India is under every pillow, that it’s out to destroy Pakistan. Over the years that (belief) has become a rationale for army influence in Pakistani politics … the whole country has moved to the right as the years have gone by.


The practical reason is that Pakistan feels vulnerable to Afghanistan. They share a long and open border, and the people along the border don’t even recognize its legitimacy. The fear is that without a buffer strategy of political influence, that India will use Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan.

Q: Islam is the state religion of Pakistan — how does religious faith affect the motives of the ISI?


A: It’s a very diverse officer corps. The junior officers are more pious; the senior officers are ardently nationalist, more nationalist than even 20 years ago, given the violence and pressure they have come under. When you talk nationalism you’re talking about a country that was founded on the basis of Islam. I think Americans have always struggled to figure out how personal faith among Pakistani officers may affect their political judgment. The lazy way is to take them out for a drink. That doesn’t work with these guys.

Q: How do you see Afghanistan’s future unfolding?

A: I’m not a great forecaster, but I don’t think anything is likely to change. The presence of the U.S. military makes it very difficult for the Taliban to win. They don’t have an air force, they don’t have anti-aircraft weapons. They don’t have the amazing technology of the opposition.

The Afghan government is stuck. In 40 percent or more of the country’s rural districts, the Taliban are embedded. They are present in other parts of the country where they don’t have ethnic or religious roots … It’s even more complicated, because now all this violence has created an ethnic polarization in the rest of the country, and there’s a constitutional crisis in Kabul that’s been going on for three-and-a-half years.

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