India-Iran-Afghanistan Axis Against Pakistan?

A JIT (Joint Investigation Team) report recently released by Sindh government in Pakistan has revealed that the infamous Karachi gangster Uzair Baloch worked for Iranian intelligence. Apparently, Uzair Baloch was also in contact with Indian intelligence agents working in Iran, according to Indian media reports. Baloch's interrogation led to the discovery and arrest of Indian undercover agent Kulbhushan Jadhav in Balochistan shortly after Baloch's arrest. Kulbhushan Jadhav has confessed to orchestrating deadly terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi.
He has said that India's RAW funneled money through Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Kandhar (Afghanistan) and  Zahidan (Iran) to BLA and TTP for terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. Targets of terror attacks included people, mosques, roads, port and Balochistan's Hazara Shia community.

L to R: Indian Prime Minister Modi, Iranian President Rouhani and Afghan President Ghani

Chabahar vs Gwadar:

Chabahar is a port being constructed by Indians in Iran. The stated goal of this project is to bypass Pakistan for India's trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia via Iran. Indian media have promoted Chabahar as a competitor to Gwadar Port which is a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).  Indian government is openly hostile to CPEC and declared support for Baloch insurgents.  The leaders of Afghanistan, India and Iran have held regular summit meetings to promote Chabahar port project.

4,000 Indians in Chabahar:

There are 4,000 Indians working in Chabahar, Iran, according to Indian journalist Karan Thapar. Some of them, like Kulbhushan Jadhav, work undercover for Indian intelligence agency RAW.  It is hard to believe that the Iranian intelligence is not aware of the presence of undercover Indian agents among the 4,000 Indians working in Chabahar. After all, Jadhav had two passports, one in his own name and another in the name of Hussein Mubarak Patel. The Indian Express and Asian Age, both Indian publications, suggest that Jadhav had links with Uzair Baloch who has been convicted by for working for the Iranian intelligence in Pakistan.  Kulbhushan Jadhav has confessed to orchestrating deadly terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. He has said that India's RAW funneled money through Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Kandhar (Afghanistan) and  Zahidan (Iran) to BLA and TTP for terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. Targets of terror attacks included people, mosques, roads, port and Balochistan's Hazara Shia community.

Pakistan's Complaint to Iran:

Paskistan has complained to Iran about allowing Baloch insurgents to use Iranian territory to launch terrorist attacks in Pakistan after an attack  killed 14 people along Pakistan’s coast in 2019, according to Reuters.

“The training camps and logistical camps of this new alliance...are inside the Iranian border region,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad. Qureshi said he has spoken to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and conveyed to him the “anger of Pakistani nation”.

Karachi Stock Market Attack:

Four terrorists belonging to Baloch Liberation Army attacked the Pakistani stock exchange in Karachi on June 29, 2020, killing two guards and a policeman and wounding seven others before being shot dead. Pakistan believes that the attackers came from southeastern Afghanistan where they enjoy safe havens with the support of intelligence agencies like Afghan NDS and Indian RAW.

Qasem Soleimani:

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) commander General Qasem Soleimani who was assassinated by the United States in drone strike was particularly hostile toward Pakistan. In February, 2019, Soleimani threatened Pakistan. He boasted about Iran's "independent power and honor". Soleimani, known to be close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khanenai, reportedly had serious policy disagreement with the Rouhani government.  He said:

"I warn you not to test Iran and anyone who has tested Iran has received firm response. We are speaking to Pakistan with a friendly tone and we are telling that country not to allow their borders to become a source of insecurity for the neighboring countries..... Iran enjoys independent power and honor. Some countries have wealth, but no prowess. Trump tells the Al-Saud that if it hadn't been for the US support, Saudi Arabia would not have survived and Saudi Arabia's coalitions in the region have all ended in failure."

Soleimani's tone in this message to Pakistan is anything but "friendly".


Recent release of Sindh government report reveals that Karachi gangster Uzair Baloch spied for Iran in Pakistan.  There are 4,000 Indians working in Chabahar, Iran, according to Indian journalist Karan Thapar. Some of them, like Kulbhushan Jadhav, work undercover for Indian intelligence agency RAW.  Chabahar is a port being constructed by Indians in Iran. The stated goal of this project is to bypass Pakistan for India's trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia via Iran. Indian media have promoted Chabahar as a competitor to Gwadar Port which is a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Indian Express and Asian Age, both Indian publications, suggest that Jadhav had links with Uzair Baloch.  Kulbhushan Jadhav has confessed to orchestrating deadly terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. He has said that India's RAW funneled money through Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Kandhar (Afghanistan) and  Zahidan (Iran) to BLA and TTP for terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. Targets of terror attacks included people, mosques, roads, port and Balochistan's Hazara Shia community.

Here's Kulbhushan Jadhav's confession video:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

General Soleimani's Hardline Against Pakistan

Iran-Pakistan Ties

Iran's Chabahar and Pakistan's Gwadar Ports

Indian RAW Agent Kulbhushan Jhadav Used Chabahar

Iran-Saudi Conflict

Pakistan's Nuclear Program

Iran Nuclear Deal

1971 India-Pakistan War

Chabahar vs Gwadar Ports

Did America Contribute to the Rise of ISIS?

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network


Riaz Haq said…

Jadhav: "...while crossing over into Pakistan I travelled all the way from Chahbahar in a private Taxi along with Rakesh to the Iranian-Pakistan border near Sarawan. From wherein I crossed into Pakistan along with Baloch Sub Nationals and after about an hour or so I was apprehended by the Pakistani authorities in Pakistan...........Research and Analysis Wing through Mr Anil Kumar has been abetting and financing and sponsoring a lot of activities within Balochistan and Sindh. The entire Hundi and Hawala operations are undertaken from Delhi and Mumbai via Dubai into Pakistan and during one such important transaction was the 40,000 dollars which was transferred to Baloch sub Nationals via Dubai. Also the finances which are coming into Balochistan and Sindh for various anti-national activities are coming through consulates in Jalalabad and Kandhar and the Consulate in Zahidan. These are very important consulates which are used by Research and Analysis Wing to transfer dollars into the Balochistan movement. And one such instance was where I was directly involved and I was observing the transaction was when 40,000 Dollars were recently transferred from India via Dubai to one such Baloch National operative within Pakistan. Research and Analysis Wing and Mr Anil Kumar on behalf of RAW had been sponsoring regularly the various terrorist activities within Pakistan. Especially Hazara Muslims, Shia Muslims who move around on pilgrimage between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan were basically to be targeted and killed. They were already being done, it was being done but the level had to be raised to the very high level so that the movement completely stops. Then the targets on various workers of FWO who were conducting construction of various roads within Balochistan and the third major activity was the IED attacks which were being carried out by the Baloch sub nationals within Quetta, Turbat or various other cities of Balochistan.They were being directly sponsored by RAW. Mr Anil Kumar has been sponsoring sectarian violence across Sindh and Balochistan and also sponsoring various assassinations across this same region so that instability or some kind of fear is set into the mindsets of the people of Pakistan, and in one such process SSP Chaudhary was assassinated. This was a direct mention by Mr Anil Kumar to me. The various financing which subsequently happened for the TTP and various other Afghan anti Pakistani terrorist groups led to the attack by TTP on one of the Mehran Naval Bases in which a lot of damage was cost to the Pakistani Navy. Other sort of radar installation attack, the Sui pipeline gas attack, then attacks on civilian bus Stations where some I suppose Pakistani Nationals were being targeted by Sub Nationals and murdered and massacred so that a sort of disruption in the CPEC is done that was being funded and directly supported by Mr Anil Kumar. He wanted it to be raised to the next level so that complete disruption and complete stoppage of the Economic corridor between Gwadar and China is achieved. One of the operations which was being planned by RAW officials along with Baloch insurgents was a military style attack on Zahidan Pakistani consulate. The aim was to either attack it with a grenade or some kind of RPG or IED attack or then try to harm the consulate General or some kind of vicious attack on the Pakistani consulate in Zahidan.
Riaz Haq said…
#KulbhushanJadhav: #India's #RAW funneled money through #Indian consulates in #Jalalabad, #Kandhar & in Zahidan to #BLA & #TTP for #terror attacks in #Balochistan & #Karachi. Targets included people, mosques, roads, port & #Quetta's #Hazara #Shia community
Riaz Haq said…
#China-#Iran Deal: #India is a big loser. Chabahar port is India’s counter to the #Gwadar port in #Pakistan that is part of China’s Belt and Road initiative(BRI), if China invests heavily in Iran the Chabahar port could lose its relevance. #CPEC @wionews

Indian View:

China has struck a deal with America's enemy - Iran. It's a $400 billion economic and security strategic partnership deal.

As always, China is using its chequebook to have its way. It has bought Iran over for $400 billion dollars. It is a 25-year strategic accord with an 18-page agreement that weds Iran to China for a quarter of a century.

Once it is signed, Iran will open its doors for Chinese investment not just in one or two sectors but across the Iranian economy. The Chinese presence in Iran would expand in banking, telecommunications, ports and railways, also more than a dozen projects will go to Chinese companies.

Beijing hopes to get cheap oil in return. China will walk away with a steady supply of Iranian oil at a heavily discounted rate for 25 years and this is just one side of the story of the economic aspect.

The deal also has a military dimension. There will be reportedly joint training and exercises, joint research and weapons development, even intelligence sharing as part of the agreement.

The deal will fundamentally change Iran’s relationship with China. It will put Tehran in Beijing’s corner and India could see its influence diminish overtime.

The biggest threat is to the Chabahar port. It was seen as India’s counter to the Gwadar port in Pakistan that is part of China’s Belt and Road initiative(BRI), if China invests heavily in Iran the Chabahar port could lose its relevance.

However, it is hypothetical as of today. The Iran-China agreement reportedly has not been submitted for Parliament’s approval yet and hasn’t been made public. China hasn’t shared the details of the deal yet as well. The ministry of foreign affairs in Beijing was asked about it today and it didn’t share any information.

It is not yet clear if the top brass of the Communist Party has signed off on it but the details of the deal that have leaked are reportedly part of the “final version”. Iran is not hiding the fact that it is negotiating the agreement with China. On July 5, Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif indicated that the deal will happen and it will be presented before Iran's Parliament for approval.

The potential agreement is a big threat to India. Historically, India and Iran have enjoyed a close relationship. India was one of the biggest buyers of Iranian oil but New Delhi stopped buying oil from Iran in 2019 after the United States slapped sanctions against Iran and refused to grant any waivers to India.

Now, Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy against Tehran has failed. China went under the nose of the Americans and managed to negotiate a deal with Tehran that could create more flashpoints in West Asia and even cost India its relationship with Iran.
Riaz Haq said…
Iran drops India from Chabahar rail project, cites funding delay

Four years after India's IRCON and Iran railway signed an MoU to build the Chabahar - Zahedan railway, Iran starts project on its own, cites funding delays from India. The development comes as China finalises a massive 25-year, $400 billion strategic partnership deal with Iran, which could cloud India’s plans.
Riaz Haq said…
Ex #Indian Official @NavtejSarna:"China’s influence will facilitate better relations between Iran and Pakistan, already evident in the conciliatory attitude shown by Pakistan to militant attacks from across the border in Balochistan" #Iran #Pakistan #China

Chinese investment in ports and railways can hamper India’s plans to get access to Central Asia and beyond through Iran. The report that India will no longer be part of the Chabahar-Zahidan railway project foreshadows this scenario. Iran’s ambassador in Islamabad has spoken of a “golden ring” of China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey and of a western arm to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)+ that would link Gwadar and Chabahar to China by rail through Pakistan. Further, our own economic limitations and the shadow of US sanctions will make it difficult for Indian companies to compete in Iran, particularly if the hundred proposed projects are aligned to a Chinese economic paradigm.

is only cold comfort to India. China’s increased political and economic influence on Tehran can squeeze us on several fronts.

First, Tehran has watched our growing proximity to the US and Israel with a resentful sullenness. The cutting of oil imports and delays in project implementation have further shown the limits of the bilateral relationship; “civilisational links” can only take us only so far and no more. Iran’s pact with China will strengthen the perception that we are in “the other camp”. Given our energy dependence and large diaspora, great power rivalry would not be our preferred game in West Asia.

Second, China’s influence will facilitate better relations between Iran and Pakistan, already evident in the conciliatory attitude shown by Pakistan to militant attacks from across the border in Balochistan. The two could also narrow their differences on Afghanistan, with a direct impact on India’s interests.

Third, Chinese investment in ports and railways can hamper India’s plans to get access to Central Asia and beyond through Iran. The report that India will no longer be part of the Chabahar-Zahidan railway project foreshadows this scenario. Iran’s ambassador in Islamabad has spoken of a “golden ring” of China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey and of a western arm to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)+ that would link Gwadar and Chabahar to China by rail through Pakistan. Further, our own economic limitations and the shadow of US sanctions will make it difficult for Indian companies to compete in Iran, particularly if the hundred proposed projects are aligned to a Chinese economic paradigm.

Fourth, even if the Chinese do not get a major slice of Chabahar, they are keen to participate in the development of Bandar-e-Jask, the port outside the Straits of Hormuz. Iran envisages Jask as its main oil-loading point in the near future; it can then close the Straits without harming its own exports. In a worst-case scenario, Jask could become another Chinese dual-use port and with Gwadar and Djibouti threaten India’s energy and maritime security in the Arabian Sea.

All of this may not happen, but we cannot afford to wait for the Majlis to kill this deal, or for Joe Biden to become US president and wean Iran away from China. Our interests are immediate: A strong outreach to Iran with expedited work on Chabahar and its integration into the North-South Transport Corridor as well as a vigorous follow-up on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s successful 2015 Central Asian visit would be timely initiatives to consider.
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #Iran romance endures despite the huge gap between hype & reality in ties but costs of neglecting #Arabian business are far higher than a lost railway contract in Iran. #Chabahar #GCC #Arabs #SaudiArabia #UAE #Modi #Pakistan via @IndianExpress

The theory of the case in Delhi for an extra-special relationship with Iran rests on a number of claims — historical connections, civilisational bonds, energy supplies and regional security. All these factors are of far greater import in India’s engagement with the Arabian peninsula. Millions of Indian immigrants in the Arab nations, massive hard currency remittances from them, and the density of commercial engagement with the Arab Gulf outweigh the relationship with Iran. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have, in recent years, extended invaluable support in countering terrorism and blocked attempts to condemn India in the Muslim world.

The sources of this curious inversion in India’s intellectual imagination are many. But first to the latest anxiety in Delhi about the loss of a railway contract in Iran. Large countries with major foreign investments and projects win some and lose some. That is part of doing business in other countries. Then there is no escaping the political risk associated with foreign projects. And politics — both domestic and international — is all-consuming in Iran.

The sanctions regime imposed by the US has crippled the Iranian economy. It also targets third countries that do business with certain Iranian entities. India is careful not to attract the US sanctions. India did gain an exemption from the US sanctions regime for its participation in the Chabahar port project in Iran. But they don’t apply to some of the partners suggested by Iran in the railway project. Iran would like India to break the US sanctions regime. A prudent Delhi is resisting that temptation. It would rather lose the railway contract than get into the raging crossfire between the US and Iran.

Sections of the foreign policy elite, however, see India’s Iran policy as a continuous purity test for Delhi’s “strategic autonomy”. They expect Delhi to conduct its relationship with Iran without a reference to either a cost-benefit calculus or Iran’s troubled relationship with others with whom India has important partnerships. For the romantics, it is about proving Delhi’s friendship with Tehran by defying the US.

No government in Delhi can buy into that proposition. The criticism of the NDA government today is similar to that directed at the UPA government in 2005 over its stance on Iran’s covert nuclear programme. As the US mounted pressure on Iran to come clean 15 years ago, there was a strong view in Delhi that India should cast its lot with Tehran. But pragmatists pointed to one of the preconditions for the India-US nuclear deal — Delhi’s strong commitment to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Backing Iran in its nuclear confrontation with the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), they warned, would mean killing support in the US Congress for the historic civil nuclear initiative signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W Bush in July 2005.
Riaz Haq said…
#Iran's purported $400 Billion #China "secret deal" is in fact #Teheran floating a trial ballon: "This is something that has been stirred up by the Iranians and turned into a political problem," Mr Hua told The Straits Times. #UnitedStates #Geopolitics

BEIJING - Against a backdrop of worsening bilateral relations with the United States, news emerged earlier this month of a purported secret deal between China and Iran that would offer some US$400 billion (S$555 billion) of Chinese investments in the Islamic Republic over 25 years.

While it sparked concerns that the deal could re-calibrate geopolitics and pose a potential strategic challenge to the US, analysts say this is essentially the fleshing out of a prior agreement from 2016, and needs to should be viewed as Teheran floating a trial balloon.

Riaz Haq said…
#India to face tougher world. #Pakistan-#China nexus has only deepened with #BRI, #CPEC. Two-front threat is real possibility. Political elites in neighboring capitals are now open to undermining India. #Bangladesh #Nepal #Bhutan #SriLanka #Modi #Hindutva

For close to a decade-and-a-half, broadly between 2000 and 2015, India was lucky in having a conducive international environment for its growth and ambitions. It was not just luck though. A series of Indian leaders and bureaucrats ensured that the country was able to shape this international environment, within its limited powers, in its favour.

Think back. The end of the 1990s, under the remarkably far-sighted leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saw India conduct nuclear tests. This invited international sanctions. But it also opened the doors for substantive dialogue with the international community, particularly the United States (US), about the underlying logic of the relationship between the two countries. The Strobe Talbot-Jaswant Singh dialogue, Bill Clinton’s visit to India, Vajpayee calling India and the US natural partners, and the two countries moving ahead with the next steps in the strategic partnership, fundamentally altered the texture of the relationship. Manmohan Singh ably took the baton, signing the defence framework agreement and, of course, the nuclear deal — over which he staked his government. Narendra Modi too carried forward this legacy, letting go of the hurt that the US visa ban on him must have caused, introducing a new diplomatic style at Madison Square, getting Barack Obama as chief guest for Republic Day, and remaining invested in the relationship with Donald Trump. The US, despite its differences with India, is now a steady partner.

But while this partnership has deepened, a lot else has changed.

In the early 2000s, under Vajpayee and Singh, there was an effort to engage with China productively. There was hope that a solution to the border dispute could be found. India recognised Chinese sensitivities on Tibet; China recognised India’s claim over Sikkim. The economic linkages were deepening. The prevailing narrative was of China’s peaceful rise, and a strong view emerged that the two countries could grow together. In the neighbourhood, even thoughtful diplomats argued that India and China could cooperate on projects. There was room for cooperation on global issues — from reform of international institutions to the climate crisis. PM Modi too wished to give this framework a chance, which is what his Ahmedabad invitation to Xi Jinping represented. China, many believed, was not a friend, but it need not be an adversary either. This was a view that many revised with the rise of Xi, but others held on to it — in hindsight, unwisely so.

The neighbourhood was suddenly looking more favourable in the 2000s too. India had embraced the idea of South Asian regionalism and connectivity. It had facilitated a historic peace deal in Nepal, bringing an end to a decade-long war, ensuring the entry of the Maoists into peaceful politics. And there was enormous goodwill among both the Nepali people and the Kathmandu leadership for Delhi — which gave Indian diplomats enormous leverage. In Sri Lanka, India had, quietly, helped the government bring an end to the civil war, but here, it was through military means and an outright defeat of the Tamil Tigers — some believed that this would erode Indian leverage, but it did give points to Delhi in Colombo. Bhutan remained Delhi’s closest friend, but now within the modern framework of a new treaty, as the country turned semi-democratic. In Bangladesh, after a turbulent transition, Sheikh Hasina returned, with an explicit platform of deepening ties with India, leading to the most-friendly dispensation in Dhaka in decades.
Riaz Haq said…
#UN says thousands of anti-Pakistan militants in #Afghanistan. #Pakistan being attacked by #terrorists, particularly linked to the #TTP or Jamaat-ul-Ahrar or Lashkar-e-Islam, as well as those with the Baluchistan Liberation Army (#BLA). via @YahooNews

A U.N. report says more than 6,000 Pakistani insurgents are hiding in Afghanistan, most belonging to the outlawed Pakistani Taliban group responsible for attacking Pakistani military and civilian targets.

The report released this week said the group, known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), has linked up with the Afghan-based affiliate of the Islamic State group. Some of TTP's members have even joined the IS affiliate, which has its headquarters in eastern Afghanistan.

The Afghan government did not respond Sunday to requests by The Associated Press for comment.

The report said IS in Afghanistan, known as IS in Khorasan province, has been hit hard by Afghan security forces as well as U.S. and NATO forces, and even on occasion by the Afghan Taliban. The report was prepared by the U.N. analytical and sanctions monitoring team, which tracks terrorist groups around the world.

The report estimated the membership of IS in Afghanistan at 2,200, and while its leadership has been depleted, IS still counts among its leaders a Syrian national Abu Said Mohammad al-Khorasani. The report also said the monitoring team had received information that two senior Islamic State commanders, Abu Qutaibah and Abu Hajar al-Iraqi, had recently arrived in Afghanistan from the Middle East.

“Although in territorial retreat, (the Islamic State) remains capable of carrying out high-profile attacks in various parts of the country, including Kabul. It also aims to attract Taliban fighters who oppose the agreement with the United States,” the report said, referring to a U.S. peace deal signed with the Taliban in February.

That deal was struck to allow the U.S. to end its 19-year involvement in Afghanistan, and calls on the Taliban to guarantee its territory will not be used by terrorist groups. The deal is also expected to guarantee the Taliban's all-out participation in the fight against IS.

The second and perhaps most critical part of the agreement calls for talks between the Taliban and Kabul's political leadership.

Late Saturday, the U.S. State Department issued a statement saying its peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was again shuttling through the region seeking to jump start those negotiations, which have been repeatedly postponed as both sides squabble over a prisoner release program.

The U.S.-backed deal calls for the Afghan government to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the Taliban to free 1,000 government and military personnel as a so-called good will gesture ahead of talks. Until now the government is refusing to release nearly 600 Taliban prisoners it calls high-profile criminals and has offered to free alternatives. The Taliban have refused.

“The parties are closer than ever to the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, the key next step to ending Afghanistan’s 40-year long war," said the U.S. State Department statement. “Although significant progress has been made on prisoner exchanges, the issue requires additional effort to fully resolve.”

The Taliban's political spokesman earlier this week said it was ready to hold talks with Kabul's political leaders after the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha at the end of the month, providing the prisoner release is completed.

A big worry for Pakistan is the presence in Afghanistan of militants, particularly linked to the TTP or Jamaat-ul-Ahrar or Lashkar-e-Islam, as well as those with the Baluchistan Liberation Army, which has taken responsibility for high-profile attacks this month in the southern Sindh province as well as in southwestern Baluchistan Province. Several Pakistan military personnel have been killed this month in southwestern Baluchistan province in battle with insurgents.
Riaz Haq said…
#Bangladesh-#Pakistan ties: #ImranKhan-#Hasina Talks Stir Unease in #Delhi. #India suspects #China's role @deccanherald

A phone call between the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and Bangladesh earlier this week stirred unease in New Delhi, which suspected China's hidden hand behind the rare outreach.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan called up his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina on July 22. A Bangladesh government spokesperson in Dhaka said that Hasina briefed Khan about the Covid-19 pandemic and the flood situation in her country in resp...
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #RAW recruited 3 warlords in #Afghanistan, including Ahmad Shah Masood, says 'RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations' by investigative journalist Yatish Yadav. He doesn’t disclose the names of 2 other warlords still in #Afghan politics

At least three RAW spies involved in covert action in Afghanistan have claimed that Afghan armed forces were "demoralised and divided, remained practically inactive" during the Soviet army’s December 1979 invasion, the book, which will be released on Monday said.

The book also claims that the US knew about the Indian activities in Afghanistan and the Americans launched propaganda against the RAW with stories appearing with Washington dateline, which said that the US supply of arms was a "sort of punishment" to India for failing to oppose the Soviet Union on Afghan soil and the Soviet-Vietnam interference in Cambodia.

RAW also feared, the book said, that the Taliban would not waste time in killing former President of Afghanistan Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai once they gained dominance in the war. An Indian spy recalled the message the RAW sent to Najibullah,
who was staying at the UN mission in Kabul, to leave the country but he refused outrightly. Another effort was made through a reluctant Massoud, but Najibullah rejected the offer once again, arguing that the Taliban may not attack him.
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
By Yatish Yadav, Indian Investigative Journalist

Peace is an illusion because India is constantly at war in the shadows. Just as soldiers in uniform guard our borders, a different kind of highly trained and motivated soldiers crisscross the world in various guises with deceptively innocuous code names; meeting sources, activating sleeper spies and double agents, deploying honey traps, conferring with fellow spooks in cafes and safe houses, and bribing informers with clandestine funds—all to protect the nation. They are the unsung heroes of India’s formidable spy agency R&AW who unearth dark plots against the country and destroy traitors and at great personal risk. RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations illustrates their daring exploits.

After Mujibur Rahman’s assassination, the ISI and CIA moved into Bangladesh. The Hindu refugee problem was a strain on India’s economy and Ershad’s pro-ISI, pro-CIA stance wasn’t helping. So unexpected were the R&AW-engineered protests that Ershad was forced to resign and a neutral government came in his place. In Fiji, where local Indians were being persecuted by nationalist Rabuka, R&AW used foreign contacts in Australia, New Zealand and the UK to launch a successful operation to oust him. The mission was almost compromised when the mistress of a Fiji bureaucrat who was spying for India informed the authorities.

R&AW also created immense goodwill in many countries; it helped a top Afghan politician and former warlord to escape the Taliban and even got his relative a job in Turkey. R&AW spooks relentlessly bribed, cajoled and blackmailed India’s enemies. At great danger to himself, a daring agent bought information from a mole among Khalistani terrorists who were preparing to attack Delhi, which were averted by the intel. The agency even managed to recruit the prime minister of an important Baltic nation. R&AW had support from most prime ministers, except Pakistan-friendly Morarji Desai, who had dismantled foreign operations and turned over imbedded agents to ISI.

Since intelligence inputs play a significant role in shaping policy, the spymasters saw firsthand political leaders in action. The book describes how Rajiv Gandhi stood in front of Deng Xiaoping like a schoolboy in front of a principal, though he was assured that he had nothing to fear from the Chinese. A chapter describes how Narasimha Rao’s taciturn “Okay” meant the mission had the go-ahead. R&AW’s main enemy continues to be Pakistan’s ISI, which has been playing a cat and mouse game for decades. It also faced a formidable enemy at home—Indian diplomats who exposed their identities abroad and bureaucrats who interfered with operational budgets. These are some of their stories.
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
By Yatish Yadav, Indian Investigative Journalist

In Sri Lanka, R&AW played a double game, helping the Sri Lankan Army to destroy the LTTE while protecting Indian assets against the Tigers and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s hit men. According to a R&AW spymaster in Colombo, MEA bungled and allowed the Chinese to get a foothold in the island.

Avinash Sinha arrived at Colombo Fort Café on the morning of 3 December 2005, looking forward to what he had been told was the best Sri Lankan breakfast in the city. Avinash, a R&AW operative, perhaps a few autumns younger than Kosala Ratnayake, had returned to Colombo that October after three years. He had recruited Kosala, a top functionary in the Sri Lankan government, over several wet evenings in January 2002. That was when the Sri Lankan regime had been seriously engaging with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for peace talks.

Satellite Spycraft: Avinash said that the R&AW had penetrated Sri Lanka’s northern province deeply, especially districts like Jaffna, Vavuniya, Kilinochchi and Mannar. ‘Our assessment was solid and as the war loomed large over the horizon, our primary objective was to evacuate as many Tamils as possible. But that was just a foggy dream. Under tremendous pressure from the Tigers, the Tamil populations had decided to remain and we couldn’t do anything about it,’ said Avinash.

The Indian government had taken a principled decision to support the Sri Lankan army offensive because the entire international community had been outraged by the LTTE’s string of suicide bombings. According to Avinash, between late 2007 and May 2009 when Sri Lanka declared total victory against the LTTE, the R&AW provided satellite imagery of all the Tigers’ camps in the north and east provinces to the Sri Lankan military.

The intelligence included the Tigers’ military formations as well as civilian populations so as to avoid casualties. ‘It was not LTTE alone that killed our assets,’ said Pawan Arora, a R&AW officer. ‘We later learnt that the Sri Lankan army had also been involved in hitting our informers. Just before the final and massive offensive in April 2009, some important assets were evacuated from Jaffna on a ship headed to the Maldives... At Kilinochchi in the northern province of Sri Lanka, he revealed, a compound that housed some R&AW informers had just one survivor that month and a white cat.
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
By Yatish Yadav, Indian Investigative Journalist

MEA Bungling on China: R&AW agents began to enquire in Beijing and Islamabad about Colombo’s plan. The liaison unit, working with friendly foreign intelligence agencies, reported that China had secretly provided arms and ammunition to the Sri Lankan army during the civil war and was now ready to invest more than $2 billion in Sri Lanka…China had not only provided fighter jets to the Sri Lankan army, it had also trained the pilots with the help of Islamabad.

Avinash said: ‘When we warned the India foreign service about the Chinese, a senior officer told me not to worry. Let China build the roads, he said, and we will ply our buses on those roads. When we complained about him, he was immediately removed and shifted to some insignificant position at the Delhi headquarters.’ The officer codenamed ‘PAS’ was fond of scotch and the Indian spies had reported on various occasions that he was more interested in attending high-spirit parties than protecting and preserving India’s interests in Sri Lanka. ‘Once he was trapped by our spies and subsequently confronted with the evidence, we wanted him out of Sri Lanka. He was a compromised man,’ Avinash said, quoting a report that the R&AW had ciphered to New Delhi.

The Indian government had taken a principled decision to support the Sri Lankan army offensive because the entire international community had been outraged by the LTTE’s string of suicide bombings. According to Avinash, between late 2007 and May 2009 when Sri Lanka declared total victory against the LTTE, the R&AW provided satellite imagery of all the Tigers’ camps in the north and east provinces to the Sri Lankan military.
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
By Yatish Yadav, Indian Investigative Journalist


There is no single documented account of Operation Satori carried out with the help of an Indian maid named Sundari. The 55-year-old Tamil and Sinhalese-speaking woman worked to rescue and evacuate R&AW sources. Although the R&AW knew the weaknesses of Sri Lankan intelligence, they realised that Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s spies were also keeping an eye on the northern and eastern provinces, scouting for prize catches. Within a week, fictitious papers were arranged for Sundari through Kosala that would allow her to travel inside the battle zone freely to help the badly wounded in their makeshift hospitals. Sundari was pivotal to Operation Satori.

Though she was not a conventional spy, she was a thorough professional. With the help of Asanka, an ambulance driver, and Ramanuj, an animal activist, she managed to rescue several leaders who were R&AW recruits and thus on Rajapaksa’s hitlist. The area where Sundari operated was darkened via Photoshop before images were shared with the Sri Lankan army and its intelligence unit, and Kosala had bribed certain senior personnel in the army so that people could safely be smuggled out of the war zone.

R&AW AGENTS began to enquire in Beijing and Islamabad about Colombo’s plan. The liaison unit, working with friendly foreign intelligence agencies, reported that China had secretly provided arms and ammunition to the Sri Lankan army during the civil war and was now ready to invest more than $2 billion in Sri Lanka.


Operation Hornet

R&AW launched an operation in Paris and London to neutralise UK-based Pakistani national Abdul Khan who was sheltering extremists and planning attacks in India with the help of ISI and renegade Indian businessmen Balwant, Harbakhsh Singh, BN Sandhu, Avtaar Sethi and Harpreet Ahuja. Indian agent Sanjeev Jindal was given clearance by his pop star of spies boss Anuj Bharadwaj to swing into action. With foreign operatives Clarke and Sophie, he foiled the plot and Khan was shot dead.

Target ISI Terror Trio: At the Café de Flore on Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris, in November 1984, Sanjeev Jindal was lost in thought.... ‘Sir, we need to launch an operation… My information suggests ISI chief Akhtar Abdur Rahman is directly supervising the operation….’
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
By Yatish Yadav, Indian Investigative Journalist

Sophie’s Choice: This was the beginning of Operation Hornet. Jindal had already identified the spy to be posted in London. The officer codenamed Mohan Narayanan had earlier worked in Prague. Sometime in late January 1985, Jindal was at Café Aida in Landstrasse, Vienna. He had waited for almost a week for this meeting with his old informer Sophie Klor. Jindal, known by a different name at the time, had dumped her two years earlier at the end of an operation he had run in Austria. It is not unusual for an intelligence officer to dump her or his source or informer once the job is done. There are no permanent relationships in the world of espionage.

Everyone has an expiry date. But Sophie was perhaps an exception. Like the R&AW’s other subconscious agents in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, she transferred money to moles, trained new assets in the target country and occasionally ran assets on behalf of the handler. But renewing contact with a subconscious agent was something he had never done before. ‘Just be honest with me. I am getting worried about your sudden reappearance,’ said Sophie. ‘Do you know where Harpreet Ahuja is?’ Jindal asked. ‘The Indian guy who worked with our organisation? He left about a year ago. Why are you looking for him?’ ‘I want you to dig him out for me,’ Jindal said, placing an envelope containing $10,000 on the table. ‘Don’t worry. Harpreet has always been nice to me.’ Sophie winked at him and left the café.

Greedy Gardener: The London team, Narayanan and Clarke, had used cash to lure Abdul Khan’s gardener, a Pakistani named Tariq Siddiqui. The list included officials from the ISI, the Pakistani army and Pakistan’s civil servants, as well as Sandhu and the two aides who were supposedly Sandhu’s bodyguards and another Indian… Harbakhsh Singh. He also passed on classified information about Sandhu’s and Harbakhsh’s impending visit to Islamabad in February. After Narayanan paid him $5,000, Tariq promised to give him the letter. One document about a money transfer from a bank was significan, the details about the key players arriving at Khan’s house gave the R&AW top brass valuable insights into the ISI’s plans and intentions.

At their meeting at Café Aida, Sophie recounted her hunt for Harpreet Ahuja. It had taken her to Salzburg, Bregenz and finally to Innsbruck... She told Jindal about going out with Ahuja on a date. ‘My priorities are clear. I can’t let this man slip out of our hands,’ Jindal said.
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
By Yatish Yadav, Indian Investigative Journalist

Recruiting the Mole: Jindal recruited Ahuja in Austria that April. Upon agreeing to work for the R&AW as a spy, Ahuja was given the codename Einsiedler. But before the British could act, Harbakhsh disappeared from London overnight. Jindal and Bhardwaj suspected that he had been evacuated by the ISI before British security officials could interrogate him on his links with militants and Pakistan. A source based in Pakistan informed Bhardwaj about the arrival of Harbakhsh and his family in Rawalpindi, in the neighborhood of Islamabad.

Arm twisting Terror’s Banker: Sethi took a circuitous route to Paris in order to avoid ISI surveillance on his movements. Bhardwaj, Jindal and Narayanan held two day-long meetings with the dangerous financier of terrorism in India. In Jindal’s words, Sethi sang nonstop. He shared the smallest details of the Sandhu-Khan network, revealing the role of ISI officers posted under diplomatic covers in London. The ISI had a special detachment in London for the India operation and a team of six officers had been deployed to create and continue sponsoring terrorist networks to carry out activities inside India. At the time, an ISI officer named Mahmood was running Sandhu and Khan. Sethi said he was not aware if the ISI was handling any other anti-India module.

He provided a list of the officers, profiles of people connected to Khan and Sandhu, and above all, names of recruits in India who he believed were staunch supporters of the network. In the meantime, he forwarded the names of the Indian module to the R&AW headquarters. Jindal was informed sometime in April that eighteen people on the list had been neutralized in a covert operation and they had launched a manhunt for nine others. The conversation among the network involving Khan, Sandhu and the ISI officers revealed a plan to expand the operation and the Pakistani intelligence officers assured substantial sums of money for the attacks. In July and August, Bhardwaj was informed by his contacts in British counterintelligence agencies that the Pakistanis had been told to shut shop.

The Knockout Round: New plans were made every day to ambush Khan’s remaining network but none worked out because Bhardwaj was against covert action in British territory. In the first week of May 1987, Narayanan informed him that Abdul Khan was planning to visit his hometown, Lahore, sometime in June. His plan was to meet the newly appointed ISI chief, Lt General Hamid Gul. Jindal and Bhardwaj decided that Abdul Khan had to be killed in Lahore. The terror financier was gunned down by two motorcycle-borne men as he entered his house that fateful day in June. He was shot nine times in the head and the neck. The Lahore police believed that the killing was the result of an old business rivalry but the ISI knew it was the R&AW that had chased and killed the fountainhead of terror. At his burial, a R&AW asset noticed that flowers had been sent from Hamid Gul.
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
By Yatish Yadav, Indian Investigative Journalist

THE LONDON team, Narayanan and Clarke, had used cash to lure Abdul Khan’s gardener, a Pakistani named Tariq Siddiqui. The list included officials from the ISI, the Pakistani army and Pakistan’s civil servants, as well as Sandhu and the two aides who were supposedly Sandhu’s bodyguards and another Indian… Harbakhsh Singh.

JINDAL RECRUITED Ahuja in Austria that April. Upon agreeing to work for the R&AW as a spy, Ahuja was given the codename Einsiedler. But before the British could act, Harbakhsh disappeared from London overnight.

From Kabul to Kathmandu, from London to Paris and Innsbruck, to Islamabad and Colombo, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) ran exciting operations using money, analysis, psy-ops, wet work and the occasional honey trap. A new book by Yatish Yadav brings to light some of the daring exploits of India’s spies and spymasters.
Riaz Haq said…
Iran recruited #Karachi gangster Uzair Baloch hurts #Pakistan-#Iran ties. "They don't simply try to penetrate typical networks that surround singular theological interests, for instance the Shia community. Iranians have historically used criminal networks"

Earlier this month, a special investigations team in Pakistan revealed that a much-feared Karachi gangster had confessed to spying for Iran.

Uzair Baloch, the leader of the Peoples' Aman Committee (PAC) group, reportedly fessed up to spying for Iranian intelligence agencies in 2014.

The Sindh province's Home Department released a report on 6 July detailing allegations that Baloch had provided "secret information and sketches regarding army installations and officials to foreign agents".

But why are these revelations coming out now? And what does the case reveal about the complicated relations between Tehran and Islamabad?

A Joint Interrogation Team (JIT) composed of intelligence officers and law enforcement officials has brought charges against Baloch, who was detained in April 2017, for 55 crimes including extortion, drug trafficking, kidnapping and espionage.

The PAC was in 2008 nominally founded as a support group for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the centre-left political party that has ruled Pakistan for much of its post-independence history. Notorious gangster Sardar Abdul Baloch aka Rehman Dakait, its principle founder, was killed in a police encounter in 2009. Following Dakait's death, Uzair Baloch took over the
leadership role.

Baloch's violent and illegal activities in Karachi, the biggest metropolis in Pakistan, led to a severe crackdown on organised crime, subsequently pushing the interior ministry to ban the PAC in 2011 under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Amid a military and police crackdown, Baloch fled to Iran in 2013, thanks to Iranian residency documents he obtained in 2006 via a relative, the JIT report read.

According to the same report, once Baloch settled in Iran after leaving Karachi, he was in contact with a man named Hajji Nasir, who arranged to have him move to Tehran.

While Nasir reportedly offered to help Baloch move to the Iranian capital and grant him free accommodation, it was only later that he shared that he was on good terms with Iranian intelligence agencies and could arrange a meeting.

It was then that Baloch "shared information about certain army installations and armed officials," according to the JIT report.

There is much confusion regarding Baloch's arrest. In 2014 Interpol arrested Baloch in Dubai, then the military in Pakistan announced that he was in custody in 2016. As his trial was held at a closed military court, therefore, no details have been shared publicly regarding specific details of the information shared with the Iranian intelligence agencies.

The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in Islamabad has not responded to Middle East Eye's repeated requests for comment. The Iranian consul-general in Karachi meanwhile declined to comment on the case.

Philip Smyth, a fellow at The Washington Institute think-tank, told Middle East Eye that the collaboration of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) with Baloch was part of a broader strategy of recruitment of criminal gang leaders.

"They don't simply try to penetrate typical networks that surround singular theological interests, for instance the Shia [Muslim] community. Iranians have historically used criminal networks," Smyth said, pointing to documents made public by WikiLeaks alleging Iran tried to recruit Mexican criminal syndicate Los Zetas to assassinate a Saudi diplomat in the US in 2011.

Riaz Haq said…
Hamid Ansari, ex VP of #India & ex ambassador in #Tehran, accused of failing to protect #India #intelligence #RAW's undercover operatives in #Iran in 4 major incidents of kidnapping by SAVAK (aka Sazman-e Ettela’at va Amniat-e Melli-e Iran) agents.

Former Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) officers had sought an inquiry against former Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari for what they have called “damaging R&AW operations” while he was posted as Ambassador in Tehran, Iran. They now hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will get into the truth of the entire matter. These officers, who were posted in Tehran during Ansari’s tenure, had first approached the PM in August 2017. Ansari was posted in Tehran from 1990-1992.

One of the officers, N.K. Sood, who retired from the agency in 2010, told The Sunday Guardian that Ansari even went to the extent of recommending the closing down of R&AW stations in Iran.

Sood listed multiple instances which showed that Ansari, during his tenure in Tehran, did not fulfill his duty as was expected from him.

In May 1991, one Indian official, Sandeep Kapoor, was kidnapped from the Tehran airport, ostensibly by SAVAK. When the issue was brought before Ansari, he played it down despite the R&AW station chief—who was in Dubai when the incident took place, but flew back considering the emergency situation—briefing him personally on the matter. “Ansari did not take any steps to trace Kapoor, but sent a confidential report to the MEA that Kapoor was missing and that his activities were suspected in Iran as he was said to be involved with some local woman. He deliberately failed to mention that R&AW had reported about involvement of SAVAK in this case,” Sood said.

Three days later, an anonymous phone call to the Indian Embassy informed the receiver that Kapoor is lying at a particular place on the road side. He was drugged, the effects of which lasted for several years. Despite R&AW’s advise to report and lodge a protest with the Iranian foreign office, Ansari did not take any action.

In August 1991, R&AW was keeping eyes on Kashmiri youths who were regularly visiting Qom, a religious center of Iran, and were taking arms training. Despite the old R&AW staff advising him not to do so, the new station chief of R&AW told Ansari about his operation. “Ansari gave the name of the officer who was handling this operation, D.B. Mathur, to the Iranian Foreign office, who passed it to SAVAK, and Mathur was picked up by them on a morning while coming to the Indian embassy. By the evening, it was clear that he has been picked up by SAVAK,” Sood recalled.

This incident has also been mentioned in the letter that has been shared with Prime Minister Modi. When Ansari refused to take any concrete action, apart from registering a missing report about Mathur with the Iranian Foreign office and sharing it with Delhi without mentioning that he was likely to be picked by SAVAK, the R&AW officers, on the second day, through a scene out of a spy movie, managed to inform Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Delhi, who then told this to P.V. Narasimha Rao, the then Prime Minister, which led to the release of Mathur from Evin prison, where he was kept, on the fourth day of his kidnapping, but he was given 72 hours to leave the country. Once inside the Indian Embassy, Mathur disclosed what had happened to him and how the SAVAK was already aware of the identity of Sood and the station chief, which the letter says can be attributed to Ansari sharing it with the Iranian Foreign Office.

These officers believe and are extremely hopeful that PM Modi will order a thorough probe into this issue, which damaged India’s strategic capabilities deeply.

The Sunday Guardian also reached out to the office of V.P. Ansari through emails, seeking his response on the charges leveled by the R&AW officers. However, no response was received till the time of the story going to press.

Riaz Haq said…
In a 2016 drone strike in Balochistan, Taliban leader Mullah Mansour was killed while returning from Iran.

On May 21, after a drone strike obliterated a car and its two occupants in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, local officials discovered a Pakistani passport, miraculously intact, amid the smoldering wreckage and two bodies charred beyond recognition. The passport belonged to a man identified as Wali Muhammad. Its photo bore an uncanny resemblance to Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, the supreme leader of the Afghan Taliban targeted by the drone strike, who lay dead close by. According to reports in the Pakistani press, the passport indicated that its owner, presumably Mullah Mansour, had been returning from Iran, where he had been since April 26. He had also traveled there for several weeks in February and March.

Mullah Mansour’s decision to visit Iran and leave his sanctuary in Balochistan — where the Afghan Taliban’s top leadership had long been safely ensconced — is odd. After all, Tehran is no friend of the Taliban; on the contrary, it has formally aligned itself with Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban actors. It played an instrumental role at the 2001 Bonn Conference that established a post-Taliban government. In the early years of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Tehran gave Washington maps showing Taliban positions, and its military offered to train 20,000 Afghan troops.

Iran also has good reason to distance itself from the Taliban. Simple sectarian considerations — Iran is Shiite, the Taliban is Sunni — offer one explanation. But the divergences run deeper: The Taliban harbors links to Jundallah, an anti-state Sunni terror group in Iran. It oversees a flourishing narcotics trade that feeds Iran’s crippling heroin epidemic, and it has been blamed for the killings of nearly a dozen Iranian diplomats at their consulate in the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif in 1998, which brought Iran and Taliban-run Afghanistan to the brink of war (according to some accounts, the Pakistani anti-Shiite militant group Sipah-e-Sahaba was behind that attack).

Western authorities have a simple explanation for Mullah Mansour’s presence in Iran: He was there to receive medical treatment, according to a European official quoted in the New York Times, in order to avoid Pakistani hospitals and the watchful eye of his patron, Pakistan’s intelligence agency. No specifics were given as to what he was being treated for. The Wall Street Journal, curiously, has reported that Mullah Mansour was actually in Iran to visit family. In any case, U.S. officials knew of his whereabouts and, aided by communications intercepts, were able to track him there. According to a tweet by NPR correspondent Tom Bowman, Washington even had his SIM card number.

Mullah Mansour’s trip to Iran may well have been a simple trip to the doctor. But the trip may have had more nefarious purposes, too. Despite the differences between Tehran and the Taliban, they share some key interests and have often cooperated operationally. Indeed, Tehran and the Taliban have a more symbiotic relationship than meets the eye.Indeed, Tehran and the Taliban have a more symbiotic relationship than meets the eye. In particular, they are both wary of the West and particularly the United States. And each seeks to undercut Washington’s influence.
Thomas Joscelyn, an international security analyst and senior editor with the Long War Journal, has presented a compelling case of long-standing links between Iran and the Taliban. These links date back to 2000, when, according to unclassified U.S. government memos, Mullah Mohammed Omar tasked Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa, the Taliban governor of Herat province, with improving relations between the organization and Tehran. As a result of this outreach, Iran agreed to supply the Taliban with mines and small arms.
Riaz Haq said…
#Iran sourced #fakenews at work to strain #Saudi-#Pakistan bilateral ties. Dawn Newspaper's Tanveer Arain fooled by "Saudi Defense Minister calls #Pakistani "slaves" story.

It is no news that all is not well in the Arab world. In the latest, it has been reported that Pakistan has offered to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran, in order to avoid strained relationships with both countries.

The spread of fake news, however, is a ready-made recipe for straining bilateral relationships.

Tanveer Arain, journalist and political analyst with some of the leading publications in Pakistan, including The Dawn, took to Twitter to draw attention to a letter, allegedly written by Saudi Arabian Defence Minister Muhammad Bin Suleiman.

The letter allegedly quotes the defence minister calling Pakistan a “slave country” and that “it will remain Saudi Arabia’s slave” country.

Tanveer’s tweet was retweeted 679 times, and was liked 605 times by Twitter users. His tweet also prompted to swiftly pick up story.

The story was shared 33,000 times on Facebook, from the Postcard portal. The story elaborately describes how Saudi considers other Muslim countries to be of ‘converted’ status. The story reads:

Muhammad Bin Suleiman believes that Pakistanis are the slaves of the Arabs. This statement proves that Saudis looks at every other Muslim country with the ‘converted-Muslim’ perspective. Muslims from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are called ‘Hindu-Muslims’ in Saudi.
The story was also picked by Defence Tube, a YouTube channel which has 7,800-odd subscribers and by a Facebook page on Indian Defence, where it was widely shared.

What The Letter Actually Says
Senior journalist Abbas Nasir, who was a former editor of The Dawn and has also been associated with BBC, was quick to raise that a Tehran dateline was dodgy for a story related to Saudi.

Mustaqbil Pakistan party leader Nadeem M Qureshi also responded to Taveer’s tweet about the letter being “fake news”.

Riaz Haq said…
Iran Primer: Iran and the Gulf States - Tehran Bureau | FRONTLINE | PBS

Modern Iranian leaders -- from shahs to ayatollahs -- have sought a dominant role in the Gulf region because of Iran's economic and demographic weight, as well as the value of Persian Gulf oil shipping lanes. In the 1960s and 1970s, Iran was the preeminent Gulf power and guarantor of U.S. national interests in the region.
Iran's 1979 revolution dramatically altered Tehran's regional stance. Revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called for the overthrow of existing pro-American monarchs in the Gulf. Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran pulled the Gulf Arabs and the United States into the brutal eight-year conflict, mostly on Baghdad's side.

The end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, and the rise of more pragmatic leadership in Tehran led to an easing of tensions between Iran and the Gulf Arab states. The two subsequent "Gulf wars" in 1991 and 2003 weakened Iraq, thereby strengthening Iran's relative regional power. Iran's relationship with the smaller states of the lower Persian Gulf has historically been centered on trade. The emirate of Dubai has emerged as Iran's most vital Gulf trade partner and an occasional outlet to skirt sanctions.


The future

* An Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities could spark a wider regional war with dramatic repercussions for the Persian Gulf region, leading to a skyrocketing oil prices, and potential conflict between Iran and America's key Gulf Arab allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

* The world's major oil players have largely abandoned Iran, but are active in Iraq. If Iraq achieves its ambitious oil targets, it could surpass Iran as the Gulf's second largest producer within a decade. This would have repercussions for the regional balance of power.

* The Iran-Dubai trade relationship will be tested by sanctions and U.S. pressure. But historic links are too deep to imagine a drastic reduction in trade, even though Iranian merchants may not feel as welcome as in the past.
Riaz Haq said…
#Iran kicks out #Indian gas company. OVL and its partners had offered to invest up to $11 billion. #India #energy via @timesofindia

Iran has decided to prefer domestic companies over foreign firms

Riaz Haq said…
Demand for #Pakistan Visas Sets Off Deadly Stampede in #Afghanistan, Leaving At Least 14 #Afghans dead!

A stampede in a crowded stadium in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday left at least 12 women dead, officials said. The women were among thousands of people hoping to get visas to enter Pakistan for medical treatment.

Many people in Afghanistan, a war-ravaged country with minimal health care facilities, cross the border into Pakistan for treatment. But since the spring, Pakistan had drastically reduced the number of visas that it issued to Afghans, hoping to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

Pakistan recently announced that it would resume issuing visas at a more normal rate. But there was so much pent-up demand that thousands of people gathered before dawn at the soccer stadium, in the city of Jalalabad, waiting for tokens to be given out that would enable them to apply for visas. Just 1,000 visas were to be processed that day.

About 10,000 people were in the stadium when the stampede occurred, said Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar Province, which includes Jalalabad. The stampede began as the tokens were being distributed to the crowd, Mr. Khogyani said.

“There were several thousand women,” he said. “All of those killed were ill women who were trying to get a visa and go for their treatment to Pakistan.”

ImageA man injured in the stampede arrived for treatment at a Jalalabad hospital.

Pakistan, despite its tense relations with the Afghan government over its tacit support for the Taliban, is a key destination for Afghans. About three million Afghan refugees live there, and until the pandemic struck, there was a constant flow of Afghans across the border, seeking work or medical care.

The Pakistani Consulate in Jalalabad, which distributes visas for residents of seven eastern and southeastern provinces, recently reopened after being closed for nearly eight months because of Pakistan’s coronavirus travel restrictions. Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special envoy for Afghanistan, had recently announced a new visa regime that would ease the process for issuing long-term, multiple-entry visas for Afghans.

“The charges of corruption and mishandling of applicants in recent years had tarnished the image of Pakistan and caused hardship to visa applicants,” Mr. Sadiq said in announcing the new visa policy.

Continue reading the main story

The provincial authorities in Nangarhar announced the new procedure for distributing tokens to visa applicants, which was meant to discourage crowding in light of the heavy demand. Under the rules, the first 1,000 people would get tokens and the rest would have to try their luck the next day, Mr. Khogyani said.

“The stampede broke out in the women’s section,” said an eyewitness, Abdullah, who like many Afghans goes by one name. “Then police arrived and the situation got worse. I escaped from the stadium. When I came back, several women were lying on the ground and they were dead.”


Other security officials put the toll even higher. “I have counted 50 dead bodies and I have got tired of counting,” said Karimullah Bek, a pro-government militia commander in the area.
Riaz Haq said…
Foreign Minister Zarif visits #Pakistan as Iran celebrates post-#Trump era. #Tehran appears to be seeking Pakistan’s assistance in bypassing US #sanctions that have pushed the Iranian #economy to the verge of collapse. #SaudiArabia #UnitedStates #UAE

Iran’s foreign minister is in Islamabad to discuss a range of issues with Pakistani officials, as US President Donald Trump’s impending departure seems to have opened new windows of diplomacy for the Islamic Republic.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has landed in neighboring Pakistan for a two-day visit in which he will discuss bilateral and regional issues with his counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Given the composition of the delegation accompanying the Iranian foreign minister, Tehran seemed to be after Pakistan’s assistance in bypassing US sanctions that have pushed the Iranian economy to the verge of collapse. As a US ally in the region, Islamabad has at different intervals offered to play the mediator’s role between Tehran and Washington under the Trump administration.

The trip, which fit into Iran’s doctrine of “neighbors first,” also marked the Iranian top diplomat’s first foreign mission after Donald Trump became the outgoing president of the United States following his defeat to the Democratic camp’s nominee, Joe Biden. Trump’s departure has brought hopes to the government of President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran for new openings after four years of relentless “maximum pressure” from Washington.

What further highlights the importance of Zarif’s visit is Islamabad’s close ties with Saudi Arabia, a regional foe of the Islamic Republic. Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2016 after a group of Iranian “rogue” hard-liners stormed the Saudi Embassy in the Iranian capital. Tensions with Saudi Arabia are believed to be part of Zarif’s agenda in Islamabad, as the Pakistani government also maintains friendly ties with Riyadh, with potential deal-brokering capabilities that could bring the two rivals to the negotiating table.

Before his visit to Pakistan, Zarif sent a “sincere message” to neighbors: “Trump's gone in 70 days. But we'll remain here forever. Betting on outsiders to provide security is never a good gamble.” Iran’s rivals in the region, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have been clinching with the Trump administration multiple arms deals with the aim of curbing a perceived Iranian security threat. “We extend our hand to our neighbors for dialog to resolve differences,” Zarif added in his message. Iran has on multiple occasions offered unconditional talks to bury the hatchet with Saudi Arabia, but no breakthrough has emerged so far.

Iran’s political circles are debating the opportunities that Trumps’ farewell could bring to the Islamic Republic after years of exclusion prompted by the US president’s pressure on anyone seeking business with Tehran. But a Biden administration might not necessarily be as promising as the Iranians had pictured it, either. There are fears in Tehran that before the closure of his term, Trump will inundate the Islamic Republic with a “flood of new sanctions” that could grant Biden an upper hand in any negotiations with Iran.

Picking up on that, the hard-liners, who have always been skeptical of any US-Iran relations, are arguing these days that Trump’s “iron fist” will remain firmly in place even under Biden. It’s the same fist, only hidden by “velvet” gloves, according to ultraconservative daily, Javan.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan latest #nuclear power to condemn killing of #Iranian #scientist as world remains on edge: "Such acts not only run contrary to all norms of interstate relations and International Law but also threaten the peace and stability of ... the region"

Pakistan is the latest nuclear power to condemn the killing of a top Iranian atomic scientist, deeming the act a destabilizing event in a region already plagued by widespread unrest.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a former Revolutionary Guard officer who led the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research was shot dead last Friday east of the Iranian capital in a yet unclaimed assassination that has fueled suspicions of Israeli involvement. While Iran has always denied possessing or seeking a nuclear bomb, several nations with such capabilities, such as Pakistan, have spoken out against the slaying.

"Pakistan condemns the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran," the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said Thursday in a statement sent to Newsweek. "We extend sincere condolences to the family members of Mr. Fakhrizadeh and to the Iranian people."

The attack comes about a decade after a series of similar slayings targeted other leading Iranian nuclear scientists and, more recently, in the wake of ongoing tensions between Iran and its top foes Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Islamabad worried such violence may only further entrench the Middle East in turmoil.

"Such acts not only run contrary to all norms of interstate relations and International Law but also threaten the peace and stability of an already fragile region," the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said. "Pakistan strongly urges all sides to exercise maximum restraint and avoid further escalation of tensions in the region."

Pakistan neighbors Iran and Pakistani officials have previously expressed to Newsweek the importance they place on stability along their country's border with the fellow Islamic Republic.

Pakistan, one of nine countries believed to be in the nuclear weapons club, conducted its first public nuclear test in 1998, largely in response to a test conducted just two weeks earlier by rival India. Pakistan is believed today to hold around 160 nuclear weapons and India 150, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

While India—which has developed increasingly close ties to Israel and its top ally, the United States—has remained quiet, other world powers with nuclear stockpiles have spoken out.

Days after Fakhrizadeh's death, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters on Monday her country was appalled by the act and called on those responsible to be exposed.

"China is shocked by the killing of the Iranian scientist and condemns this violent crime," Hua said. "We hope that the incident will be thoroughly investigated."

Like Islamabad, Beijing worried about the potential ramifications in an already restive region.

"China opposes any act that aggravates regional tensions and undermines regional peace and stability," Hua said. "As the current situation in the region is highly complex and sensitive, all parties should work together to ease regional tensions and maintain regional peace and stability."

China is believed to possess up to about 320 nuclear weapons, having tested its first atomic weapon in 1961, just years after an ideological split with the Soviet Union led to tensions between the two communist powers.

Today, however, Beijing and Moscow are perhaps more aligned than ever. Both see the U.S. as a destabilizing force in the Middle East and support Iran economically despite Washington's tight sanctions and, after the recent expiration of a U.N. arms embargo, perhaps soon militarily as well.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan to complete 2600-km Pak-Afghan border fencing within two months. The $500m project also includes border forts, surveillance, intrusion detection system. Pakistan is fencing its borders with Afghanistan & Iran to curb smuggling, terrorists’ infiltration, illegal crossings

The pair of three-meter-high mesh fences, a couple of meters apart, are filled and topped with coils of razor wire, running through rugged terrain and snow-covered, treacherous mountains at elevations as high as 4,000 meters.

The ISPR attributed a "massive decrease" in the number of terrorism-related incidents in Pakistan to the border security project. Pakistani troops involved in building the fence have also come under deadly militant attacks from the Afghan side and in some cases clashes with Afghan security forces.

Afghanistan has historically disputed the 1893 British colonial era demarcation and Afghan officials still refer to the border as the Durand Line. Pakistan rejects the objections and maintains it inherited the international frontier after gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

Under the military-led border management project, Islamabad has also upgraded several formal crossings with Afghanistan to further facilitate bilateral and transit trade activities with the war-ravaged landlocked country.

ranian Border

The Pakistani army is also working on enhancing the security of the country’s more than 900-kilometer southwestern border with Iran. It has already fenced off about 30% of the frontier and the project is expected to be finished by the end of 2021, according to the ISPR.

The largely porous border separates Pakistan’s Baluchistan and Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan provinces, both experiencing militant attacks blamed on fugitive separatists hiding on Pakistani and Iranian soils

Riaz Haq said…
The Guardian of
Pakistan’s Shia
By Alex Vatanka

The town of parachinar, located in a far-flung corner of western
Pakistan, is fondly called by some Iranian Shiites “Little Iran.” The majority of the town’s residents are ethnic Pashtuns who belong to the Shia
faith. It is also the capital of Kurram Agency, one of the seven tribal districts that make up the politically volatile Federally Administrated Tribal
Areas. In recent years, Parachinar has effectively been under siege by Sunni militants.
Since 2007, waves of sectarian violence have killed hundreds of Shia from Parachinar.
In reaction to this, Parachinar has become a potent symbol of Shia suffering, and the
plight of its Shia residents has become a rallying cry for elements of the Iranian
The tragic state of affairs in Parachinar may be seen as a reflection of the mounting sectarian strife which has threatened in recent years to engulf the Pakistani nation.
It may also be used as a yardstick to measure the willingness and ability of the Islam -
ic Republic of Iran to protect Shia communities wherever they might be. After all,
the Tehran regime is often looked upon as the global champion and guardian of the
Shia. And historically, the Islamic Republic has actively supported Shiite militancy
internationally, including in Pakistan.


In the end, Tehran can disguise the international pursuit of its political objectives
as religious outreach, but Iran’s influence among Pakistan’s Shia should not be exaggerated. Iran’s clerical government and its religious practices are by no means acceptable or appealing to all the Shia of Pakistan. Moreover, because Tehran’s actions
do not match the rhetoric of some elements in the Islamic Republic, Pakistan’s Shia
are increasingly unlikely to view Iran as a reliable guardian or benefactor. Indeed,
Tehran’s reaction to the siege of Parachinar is a good example of the political cautiousness of Iran’s clerical rulers, and of the fact that Iranian support for the Shia in
Pakistan has become as much, if not more, a product of geopolitical calculation as it
is of religious sympathy or Islamist ideology.
Despite this, Iran’s outreach to the Shia of Pakistan has historically fluctuated as a
function of sectarian relations inside Pakistan and of Tehran’s overall relations with
Islamabad. When sectarian tensions rise in Pakistan and Tehran-Islamabad relations
are poor, Iran’s support for the Pakistani Shia has historically been at its strongest. In
the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, for example, when sectarian tensions and violence
expanded in Pakistan, the Iranian regime became a strident supporter of the Shia
and of militant Shiism. Now, given the deteriorating state of Shia-Sunni relations in
Pakistan, and also given the fact that Iran’s clerical establishment is under attack by
“Shiite nationalists” at home, conditions may be ripe for Iran to take renewed interest in the plight of Pakistan’s Shia once again.

Riaz Haq said…
#Iran, #India to revive #Chabahar. India aims to compete with #China & #Pakistan (#Gwadar/#CPEC) by including #Uzbekistan in North-South Transport Corridor for #trade with #Afghanistan , #Armenia, #Azerbaijan, #Russia, #CentralAsia, #Europe .

In a proactive move, India has made fresh overtures toward Iran, apparently sensing the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal is imminent.

Last week, JP Singh, the joint secretary for Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, paid a visit to Tehran.

Laying the groundwork for closer ties, he held political consultations with top officials and obtained updates on the progress at Chabahar, where New Delhi is funding a project to develop the port on the Gulf of Oman. The main purpose of this visit was to regain India’s lost foothold in the Iranian port project.

Then Singh also touched base with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, one of the main people involved these days in negotiations regarding the revival of the nuclear deal that is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). New Delhi is seemingly awaiting the removal of sanctions on Iran before it engages in any large-scale projects or business activity in the country.

Indeed, there have been some positive indications in this direction from Washington. Encouragingly enough, Robert Malley, one of the main negotiators of the 2015 deal, has been appointed as envoy to Iran by the Biden administration. Likewise, the appointment of Wendy Sherman as deputy secretary of state also points toward a possible US-Iran rapprochement, as she had led the team that eventually clinch the deal.

First, if the nuclear deal is salvaged, there is more of the likelihood that Iran will stop “looking East” and maybe even decrease its tilt toward China. Instead, it would try to re-establish business with Western countries, as this is exactly what it had done in 2015 when the JCPOA was first implemented.

Second, as Iran and India already have a defense pact between them, an upgraded strategic role could have a negative impact on Sino-Pakistani projects in the region. Ever since China and Pakistan announced the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, India cannot help but feel encircled. Moving in next door in Chabahar would be the ideal setup for New Delhi to keep an eye on developments in the Gwadar port and on Pakistan’s coastline.

Third, trying to break Chinese influence in the region, India would want to redirect Afghanistan and Central Asia toward its own routes. Having a pivotal role in advancing New Delhi’s ambitions, the port of Chabahar is center stage.

In case Iran does go ahead with the widely discussed 25-year strategic partnership with China, it could complicate matters, as Beijing’s prospective $400 billion deal includes access to all of Iran’s ports. In a recent television interview, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the China-Iran 25-year deal will be finalized soon and that the two countries are not far from reaching an agreement.

Apparently, Iran continues to keep all its options open where regional alliances are concerned.

Finally, for a few years, spats between India and China have become a regular feature at their mutual border in the Himalayan region. As India gets closer to Iran, tensions between Beijing and New Delhi will start one more front.

Due to the constant maritime competition between regional powers, the Indian Ocean region has become a “key geostrategic space” as it connects the oil-rich Middle East with economic markets in Asia. Enhancing ties with Tehran can be quite useful for New Delhi, as Iran is one of the largest states in this region with an extended presence in the northern part of the Indian Ocean.

However, to some extent the success of India’s regional strategy will depend on the resumption of the JCPOA for now, as Iran’s reintegration into the world economy is dependent on the lifting of US sanctions.
Riaz Haq said…
Leader (Ayatollah) rebukes Foreign Minister Zarif over leaked remarks on foreign policy

This force carries out the policy of the Islamic Republic. The Western countries persistently want the foreign policy of Iran to come under their flag. They have been wanting this for years. Iran was under the Western domination both in later years of the Qajar dynasty and under the Pahlavi rule. The [Islamic] Revolution freed Iran of their dominion and now they are trying to restore that dominion,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

It is because of this opposition that the West frowns on any indication of such active foreign policy such as the Islamic Republic’s expanding its ties with China, Russia, and also its neighbors, the Leader stated.

The Leader said, “I know many cases in which when high-ranking officials of neighboring countries wanted to visit Iran, the Americans were opposed. We cannot step back in the face of their demand. We must act forcefully.”

Still referring to Zarif’s comments, Ayatollah Khamenei said some remarks “are repetition of the US [officials’] remarks. Suppose that Americans have been angry with Iran’s [regional] influence for many years. They were angry with Martyr Soleimani for this reason and this is why they martyred him.”

“We must not say something that would bring to mind the idea that we are repeating their remarks, both about the Quds Force and about Martyr Soleimani himself,” the Leader emphasized.

General Solaimeni was martyred along with his companions in a United States’ drone strike against Baghdad early last year.

During his lifetime, General Soleimani won reputation as the region’s most popular and decisive anti-terror commander. He was martyred while paying an official visit to the Iraqi capital.

Riaz Haq said…
#Biden: "....the likelihood there’s going to be one unified government in Afghanistan controlling the whole country is highly unlikely" #Afghanistan #Taliban #Daesh #ISIS #Pashtun #Tajik #Uzbek #Hazara #Tribal

You know my record. I can tell by the way you asked the question.

I opposed permanently having American forces in Afghanistan. I argued, from the beginning, as you may recall — it came to light after the administration was over, last — our administration — no nation has ever unified Afghanistan. No nation. Empires have gone there and not done it.

I believe the only way there’s going to be — this is now Joe Biden, not the intelligence community — the only way there’s ultimately going to be peace and security in Afghanistan is that they work out a modus vivendi with the Taliban and they make a judgment as to how they can make peace.

And the likelihood there’s going to be one unified government in Afghanistan controlling the whole country is highly unlikely.
Riaz Haq said…
Writer Fateh-ul-Mulk Ali Nasir argues in this TFT piece that #Afghanistan has illegally annexed #Badakhshan and #Nuristan regions of #Chitral in contravention of the #Durand agreement with the #British #Indian government in 1893. Both belong to #Pakistan

Clause (3) of the Durand Agreement states, “The British Government thus agrees to His Highness the Amir retaining Asmar and the valley above it, as far as Chanak. His Highness agrees, on the other hand, that he will at no time exercise interference in Swat, Bajaur, or Chitral, including the Arnawai or Bashgal Valley.”


Chitral’s relationship with Afghanistan has been a complex one. It is impossible to examine Chitrali history and culture without seeing influence from Badakhshan, Wakhan and Nuristan. Chitral is at least as connected to northeastern Afghanistan as it is to Gilgit-Baltistan, in many ways perhaps more so to the former. In this analysis we will not be discussing ancient history, but the relations between the post 1747 Durrani State of Afghanistan and Chitral State, particularly after the British Protectorate had been established and the British Raj started to handle Chitral’s external affairs. The Durand Line, in particular, is a heated issue but one aspect which is totally neglected by both Afghanistan and surprisingly, Pakistan, is the fact that two erstwhile regions of Chitral which had expressly been mentioned in the Durand Agreement as falling within the political sphere of the British Raj, have been annexed by Afghanistan in contravention to the treaty!

Surprisingly, British India took Chitral’s territorial integrity seriously and did not cede the Upper Kunar Valley or the Bashgal Valley of Kafiristan (now Nuristan) to Afghanistan


Two very important points are made here. The first being that Afghanistan accepted that the Upper Kunar Valley (Arnawai) and Eastern Nuristan (Bashgal) are parts of Chitral and thus outside of Afghanistan, and that secondly, they would not interfere in these regions. The Afghans broke both of these promises within two years of signing the treaty by conquering and converting to Islam the ancient indigenous polytheistic people of Bashgal and by occupying two Chitrali forts in the Upper Kunar Valley, Narai and Birkot. The British turned a blind eye to these events as they occurred during the tumultuous year of 1895, when Chitral itself was about to break away from the British sphere of influence. Chitral subsequently became a princely state and thus lost any capacity to conduct foreign relations. Chitral was forced to cede further territory in Kunar when the village of Dokalam was handed over to Afghanistan. The people of the Bashgal Valley, though, continued to look to the Mehtar as their traditional leader and during the Third Anglo-Afghan War, Chitral tried to reassert its control over Bashgal and Upper Kunar when the Bashgal tribesmen welcomed the Chitral forces in Gawardesh and Kamdesh and pledged allegiance to the Mehtar. The Chitralis also recaptured Birkot in Kunar. The British, though, refused to recognize these actions and chose to reestablish the status quo antebellum. In other words, the British chose to disregard the treaty that they themselves drafted, but there is no reason why the successor state, Pakistan, must continue to do the same!

Riaz Haq said…
According to a #British Army Major Gallimore who served in #Afghanistan, the #Afghan Army says they'll feel good when they can "invade Pakistan". They do not blame the British but the Pakistanis for #Durand Line that they do not recognize. #Pakistan

Major Gallimore sees the emergence of an India-Pakistan 21st century "Great Game" similar to its British-Russian predecessor. Many Afghans support creation of Pashtunistan by annexing northern part of Pakistan into Afghanistan. They blame Pakistan for the Durand Line, not the British or their own leaders who agreed to it. As a result, Maj Gallimore warns that Afghanistan has become much more volatile and dangerous than ever before.
Riaz Haq said…
Genesis of the Taliban in #Afghanistan: Thread.

King Zahir Shah was the Monarch and absolute ruler of Flag of Afghanistan from 8 November 1933 to 17 July 1973. His rule was underlined by peace and stability on #Afghanistan's borders and within. He left for medical treatment in Italy in 1973...

While the King was getting medical treatment, his cousin Muhammad Daud Khan plotted to overthrow him. On 17th July 1973, Daud Khan backed by elements of Afghan Army and Communist leaning People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, He mounted a successful Coup and took over Flag of Afghanistan.

Daoud hosted General Secretary of National Awami Party Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Ajmal Khattak, Juma Khan Sufi, Baluch militants, and others. Khan's government and forces also commenced training Pakhtun Zalmay and young Baluchs to conduct militant action and terrorism in Pakistan.

Between 27th - 28th of April 1978, communist sleeper cells inside Afghan Army were activated by PDPA leader Hafizullah Amin who had been under house arrest on Daud's orders. In "Saur Revolution" coup that followed, Daud Khan along with most members of his family were massacred.

On 30th April 1978, communist leader Nur Muhammad Taraki took over the Presidency and the control of the communist party. He quickly developed feud with fellow communist Hafizullah Amin who plotted to overthrow him because of disagreement over the power sharing formula.

On 14th September 1979 as Taraki returned from his Moscow trip, he was imprisoned on Hafizullah Amin's orders, who had him executed by suffocation while in captivity - and formally took over the Presidency.

Between 14th Sept to 27th December 1979, Hafizullah Amin tried to hang on to power, but he quickly lost confidence of his KGB handlers. KGB believed him to be a double agent of CIA due to his overtures to Washington, a mistake that would prove to be fatal.

By early 1979, 25 out of Afghanistan's 28 provinces were unstable because of armed resistance against the Amin regime. On 29th of March 1979, the Herat uprising began; the uprising turned the revolt into an open war between the Mujahideen and the communist Afghan government.

By 1979, the KGB had lost patience with Amin & KGB Gen Yuri Drozdov approved plans to have him assassinated. 2 attempts were made on his life by the KGB's which failed, so they decided to have him executed in a bloody coup to take place at Tajbeg Palace.

By early-to-mid December 1979, the Soviet leadership had established an alliance with Babrak Karmal, who was to take over after Amin had been assassinated. On 27th Dec 1979, Amin and most of his family were massacred by KGB, Spetsnaz in an operation codenamed: Storm-333.

Babrak Karmal enjoyed complete backing of the USSR when he took over the Presidency on the same day Hafizullah Amin was executed by KGB. For the next 6 years he would oversee the scorched earth campaign of the 40th red Army in his own country, killing over 2m Afghans.

As the Soviet 40th Army intensified its brutal campaign in #Afghanistan, a joint "Operation Cyclone" was launched by the CIA and the ISI. Over the next 6 years, the Mujahideen would bring the 40th red Army to its knees along with its communist Afghan military allies.

As the war in #Afghanistan turned into "Soviet Vietnam", the KGB recommended overthrow of their blue eyed Babrak Karmal and replace him with the Chief of Afghan Intelligence KHAD, Major Gen Mohammad Najibullah, who deposed Babrak in a bloodless party coup and finally took over;

The Presidency on 30th Sept 1987. Najibullah was a bona fide KGB agent and enjoyed full confidence of KGB Chief Yuri Andropov. As the head of KHAD, Najibullah oversaw the industrial scale torture and murder of Afghan prisoners. KGB saw him as a "strongman" they needed.

Riaz Haq said…
History Flashback: Invasion of Bajaur
In 1960-61, 1000s of Royal Afghan Army's Troops-Militia invaded Bajaour Pakistan in an attempt to annex the region. Pakistan launched a massive counter-operation making Afghan forces surrender and retreat. Short Thread
Riaz Haq said…
Carter Malkasian does not agree with Ghani's, Karzai's and some #Americans' contention that Pakistan is the key and/or sole factor in Taliban prevailing over Afghan govt/US forces in Afghanistan. In fact, he strongly refutes it. Please reached attached clips

Over time, aware of the government’s vulnerable position, Afghan leaders turned to an outside source to galvanize the population: Pakistan. Razziq, President Hamid Karzai and later President Ashraf Ghani used Pakistan as an outside threat to unite Afghans behind them. They refused to characterize the Taliban as anything but a creation of Islamabad. Razziq relentlessly claimed to be fighting a foreign Pakistani invasion. Yet Pakistan could never fully out-inspire occupation. A popular tale related to me in 2018 by an Afghan government official illuminates the reality:

An Afghan army officer and a Taliban commander were insulting each other over their radios while shooting back and forth. The Taliban commander taunted: “You are puppets of America!” The army officer shouted back: “You are the puppets of Pakistan!” The Taliban commander replied: “The Americans are infidels. The Pakistanis are Muslims.” The Afghan officer had no response.

Let’s take Pakistan, for example. Pakistan is a powerful factor here. But on the battlefield, if 200 Afghan police and army are confronted with 50 Taliban or less than that, and those government forces retreat, that doesn’t have a lot to do with Pakistan. That has to do with something else.
Riaz Haq said…
The Islamic State in ‘Khorasan’: How it began and where it stands now in Nangarhar - Afghanistan Analysts Network

by Borhan Osman, Afghan Analysts Network

Gradually, the muhajerin turned out to be more than solely oppressed civilians in pursuit of humanitarian assistance. They carried weapons and displayed allegiance to Pakistani militant groups. Hoping to use them against Pakistan, the Afghan government started to woo some of these fighters, according to influential tribal elders involved in helping relation-building from the districts that sheltered the guest militants. Tribal elders feuding against their rivals over land or power also sought to get the support of one group or another. The most well-known case of these militants finding a welcoming home in Nangarhar is that of the Lashkar-e Islam group led by Mangal Bagh. (1) Local residents put the number of this group from the Khyber Agency differently, but a general estimation puts them at no fewer than 500 in the past three years.


However, efforts by the Afghan intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS, the Afghan intelligence), to woo Pakistani militants in Nangarhar have not been confined to Lashkar-e Islam or to militants from Khyber. Tribal elders and ordinary residents of Achin, Nazian and Kot testify that fighters from Orakzai and Mohmand agencies belonging to different factions of the TTP have been allowed free movement across the province, as well as treatment in government hospitals. When moving outside their hub in Nangarhar’s southern districts, they would go unarmed. In off-the-record conversations with AAN, government officials have verified this type of relationship between segments of the Pakistani militants and the NDS, as have pro-government tribal elders and politicians in Jalalabad. They described this state of affairs as a small-scale tit-for-tat
Riaz Haq said…
Iran first welcomed #Taliban victory but assault on the #PanjshirValley changed #Iran. Iranian media falsely alleged #Pakistan military was assisting Taliban offensive, an allegation had earlier been made in hysterical clown show that is the #Indian media

by Zarrar Khuro

"Brinkmanship may be a hallmark of Iranian policy but it only works when you know for sure where the brink actually is"


When Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan met Iranian President Seyed Ibrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Dushanbe, it was perhaps without the bonhomie that would ordinarily accompany such a meeting. But then these are extraordinary times, with the Taliban sweeping to power after the escape of Ashraf Ghani who, from the confines of his ivory tower in Kabul, perhaps imagined that the US would never abandon him and who also made the cardinal sin of believing his own spin.
As the region and the world attempts to reconcile itself with the new reality, Iran seems increasingly discomfited despite initially having welcomed ‘the military defeat and withdrawal of the United States’ from Afghanistan. Soon after the Taliban took Kabul, Iran resumed fuel supplies to Afghanistan in what was seen as an attempt to, if not normalize relations, then to at least not start off on the wrong foot with the new rulers of Kabul. But then once the Taliban assault on the Panjshir Valley began, the messaging from Iran became curious indeed, with Iranian media alleging that the Pakistan military was assisting the Taliban offensive with special forces and drone strikes. This allegation had previously been made in the hysterical clown show that is the Indian media which, true to form, used old footage from air exercises in Wales and Arizona and the occasional video game to illustrate its farcical reports. But even that spectacle was less surreal than seeing Iranian media quoting Fox News (not exactly known for its fair and balanced approach toward Iran) which in turn quoted an anonymous CENTCOM (which is listed as a terrorist organization in Iran) source as the origin of this ‘report.’
Now, one could argue that these are media reports and thus by no means an official state narrative-- but then just a few days back, an Iranian MP repeated the allegation, even going so far as to accuse Pakistan of using Chechen veterans of the Syrian civil war in this alleged assault. Now this is amusing because it’s not so much the pot calling the kettle black, but the pot actually inventing a kettle; if anyone can be accused of using proxy forces as an extension of foreign policy it is Iran, which has used sectarian militias operating under the aegis of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to project power and influence across the Middle East, from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon. It’s been a rather successful and relatively low-cost strategy, the transnational nature of which was on full display when on September 16, a convoy of Iranian fuel trucks entered Lebanon through Syria and was welcomed by Hezbollah members. A successful strategy begs to be replicated in other theaters and so Iran likely bet on doing the same in an Afghanistan where the Taliban and government forces would remain in a military deadlock for some time to come. In that scenario, not only would Ismail Khan of Herat prove an invaluable asset, but a prolonged conflict may also have provided the opportunity to redeploy the Liwa Fatemiyoun, a militia comprised of Afghan Shias which saw extensive action in Iraq and Syria. Even if that deployment never took place, Iran would still have been able to use the good offices of its main Afghan ally, warlord Ismail Khan of Herat, to project influence in a post-US dispensation.
Riaz Haq said…
Iran first welcomed #Taliban victory but assault on the #PanjshirValley changed #Iran. Iranian media falsely alleged #Pakistan military was assisting Taliban offensive, an allegation had earlier been made in hysterical clown show that is the #Indian media

by Zarrar Khuro

"Brinkmanship may be a hallmark of Iranian policy but it only works when you know for sure where the brink actually is"

If anyone can be accused of using proxy forces as an extension of foreign policy it is Iran, which has used sectarian militias operating under the aegis of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to project power and influence across the Middle East, from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon.


Instead, Ismail Khan fled to Iran after surrendering to the Taliban and the quick conclusion to the fighting meant that Iran would gain no strategic depth in Afghanistan the way it had in Iraq and beyond. But that alone cannot explain Iran’s ire toward Pakistan, which it likely sees as having gained influence at Tehran’s expense, and so we must cast a broader net and switch our view from geostrategy to geoeconomics and in particular the future trade routes that may crisscross this region.
Iran’s desire to become the primary trade route through which exports from Afghanistan, and eventually transit trade from Central Asia would reach the world has also seen a setback especially in the context of talks regarding operationalizing the transit trade agreement between Uzbekistan and Pakistan, which would see transit trade being shifted from Iranian ports to Pakistani ports. Not only is that bad news for Bandar Abbas, it’s also yet another blow to Iranian hopes to further develop the Chabahar port, a joint project between Tehran and New Delhi.
Chabahar had already been suffering from delays and had also been seeing declining volumes due to the pandemic. The Taliban takeover then, may prove to be the final nail in the coffin of this already-troubled project and the fate of the transit agreement signed by the Ghani government with India and Iran is also now uncertain. None of this is good news for a cash-strapped Iran.
Despite this, the targeting of Pakistan by Iranian media and officials does seem like a strategic miscalculation, given Iran’s preoccupations in the Middle East. Brinkmanship may be a hallmark of Iranian policy, but it only works when you know for sure where the brink actually is.
Riaz Haq said…
FINALLY, ISPR comes up with a pro forma, perfunctory statement on the Kech attk, hours AFTER i wrote my analysis. but missing from all this is a simple fact: BLF, for years, has used Iran's soil for mounting attacks in southwest Balochistan. why are we afraid of that discussion?

in my public debate with
i constantly favoured a proactive CT policy. why wait for attacks on our soil; why not take the war to the enemies in Afghanistan and Iran? i can tell you we have the capability; not sure if we have the balls.

ps: are we more engrossed in the Islamabad power politics shit than securing our interests? as i said on
's programme last night, state with balls could take out Mohsin Fakhrezadeh south of Tehran. you wanna deal with Tehran, deal from a position of strength.

Riaz Haq said…
Can President Ebrahim Raisi turn Iran’s economic Titanic around?
By Nadereh Chamlou

According to the International Monetary Fund, Iran’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—based on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)—accounted for 1.86 percent of the world’s GDP (PPP) in 1980. By 2021, its share had declined to 0.8 percent. Within the same timeframe, South Korea’s share rose from 0.6 to 1.7 percent and Turkey’s from 1.2 to 2 percent. This means that Iran has lost considerable economic power on the global stage in comparison to where it was in 1980. Economic underperformance combined with a near trebling of Iran’s population has also led to a per capita income that has barely grown in three decades and one that falls short of its comparators.

Low growth, high inflation, and widespread un- or underemployment have diminished the purchasing power of many income deciles, causing widening income inequality. Iranians below the national poverty line have doubled in the past three years, now encompassing 35 percent of the population. There are daily reports of a decline in the purchase of basic food staples, such as a 50 percent drop in meat, dairy, eggs, and fruits. Even more affordable imported rice, rather than the domestic variety, is being sold one cup at a time rather than in bulk as was done before. There is a shortage of affordable housing, and an average of 40 percent of Iranians—and as high as 70 percent in Tehran—are “house-poor,” i.e. spend the lion’s share of their income on housing, leaving them exposed to sudden poverty in case of cost of living shocks. The anxiety about an ever-increasing uncertain future has also created a mental health crisis.

Unemployment among the educated youth is as high as 40 percent, and one in three Iranians is eager to emigrate. Since the revolution, Iran has become a leading country in brain drain. For instance, in just one category and in 1399 alone (the last Iranian calendar year: March 2019-March 2020), some 250,000 nurses left Iran. It’s a critical number for a country with one of the earliest and worst coronavirus outbreaks in the Middle East. Supreme Leader Khamenei has weighed in by issuing a stern warning against those who encourage the skilled to emigrate, calling it treason.

Officials are quick to blame Iran’s economic underperformance on decades of sanctions imposed by the United States, which have indeed impacted and distorted Iran’s economy. Yet, a 2021 paper co-authored by Hashem Pesaran, Iran’s most renowned economist, faults predominantly domestic policies. The study examines foreign exchange fluctuations and output growth as the leading indicators since 1989. It finds that 80 percent of foreign exchange fluctuations and 83 percent of variations in output growth cannot be explained by sanctions. These “most likely relate to many other latent factors that drive the Iranian economy,” writes Pesaran. Indeed, “state-dominated institutions, heavy-handed bureaucracy, and a banking sector plagued with problems are Iran’s self-imposed sanctions,” concurs Roozbeh Pirouz, a British-Iranian entrepreneur.

The Islamic Republic’s economic model, as designed and implemented by its founders, has failed to fulfill in the last forty-three years any of the grandiose promises that Ayatollah Khomeini made to the Iranian people, such as affordable housing, free utilities, and the eradication of poverty.

Riaz Haq said…
Watch: Angry Afghanistan Fans Throw Chairs At Pakistan Fans After Asia Cup LossAsia Cup 2022, Pakistan vs Afghanistan: Chaos erupted as Afghanistan fans started to break and throw chairs in Sharjah after Pakistan edged their team in a thriller.

The Asia Cup Super 4 match between Afghanistan and Pakistan will always be remembered as one of the most thrilling T20 matches ever played. The contest had its ebbs and flows and in the end, it was Pakistan that prevailed by one wicket. Pacer Naseem Shah was the star of the show as he hit the first two balls of the final for sixes, in order to seal a place in the final for his side. However, after the match, some ugly scenes unfolded at the stadium after Afghanistan fans were seen breaking chairs and there was even a tussle between fans supporting Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The video of the ruckus was shared on Twitter by former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar and he wrote: "This is what Afghan fans are doing. This is what they've done in the past multiple times. This is a game and it's supposed to be played and taken in the right spirit.@ShafiqStanikzai your crowd & your players both need to learn a few things if you guys want to grow in the sport."

It is important to note that Akhtar tagged Shafiq Stanikzai in his post, who happens to be the former CEO of Afghanistan Cricket Board.

On Akhtar's tweet, Stanikzai also replied, saying: "You can't control the emotions of the crowd and such incidents happened in the world of cricket multiple, you should go ask Kabir Khan, Inzimam Bhai and @iRashidLatif68 how we treated them. Am giving you an advice next time baat ko nation pe Mat lena."

Talking about the match between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the former batted first and posted 129/6 in 20 overs. Chasing 130, Pakistan were cruising at one stage with the score being 87/3 in the 16th over. However, Pakistan collapsed from there on, and they went to 118/9 in the penultimate over.

In the final over, they needed 11 for a victory, and it was Naseem Shah who turned out to be the hero for Pakistan.

It is also important to note that in the second last over of the game, Pakistan's Asif Ali and Afghanistan's Fareed Ahmad Malik had an altercation after the Pakistan batter was dismissed.

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Ali almost hit the Afghanistan pacer with his bat, and tempers were seen flaring.

After the win that sealed their berth in the Asia Cup final, Pakistan players also celebrated in an ecstatic fashion and there were some wild scenes that unfolded in Sharjah.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan’s #Taliban problem is #America’s too. It raises the possibility that the #US could target #TTP commanders found operating in #Afghanistan – much as it killed #AlQaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri with a #drone strike in #Kabul in September.

When the United States withdrew its forces from Afghanistan after 20 years in the country, it did so on a promise that the Taliban once back in government would provide no haven for terrorist groups.

The Taliban pledge covered not only al Qaeda – the terror group whose presence in the country led to the US invasion in 2001 – but also the Taliban’s ideological twin next door, the Pakistani Taliban or TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan).

But the recent break down of an already shaky year-long ceasefire in neighboring Pakistan between the TTP and Islamabad raises some troubling questions over whether that promise will hold.

The end of the ceasefire in Pakistan threatens not only escalating violence in that country but potentially an increase in cross-border tensions between the Afghan and Pakistani governments.

And it is already putting links between the Afghan Taliban and its Pakistani counterpart under the spotlight.

As recently as spring last year Pakistani Taliban leader Noor Wali Mehsud told CNN that in return for helping to push the US out of Kabul his group would expect support from the Afghan Taliban in its own fight.

Like their erstwhile brothers in arms in Afghanistan, the Pakistani Taliban want to overthrow their country’s government and impose their own strict Islamic code.

In an exclusive interview with CNN this week, Mehsud blamed the ceasefire’s breakdown on Islamabad, saying it “violated the ceasefire and martyred tens of our comrades and arrested tens of them.”

But he was more guarded when asked directly whether the Afghan Taliban was now helping his group as he had once hoped.

His answer: “We are fighting Pakistan’s war from within the territory of Pakistan; using Pakistani soil. We have the ability to fight for many more decades with the weapons and spirit of liberation that exist in the soil of Pakistan.”

Those words should be of concern not only to Islamabad, but Washington too.

The FBI has been tracking the TTP for at least a decade and a half, long before they radicalized and trained Faisal Shazad for his brazen attack setting fire to a vehicle in New York’s Times Square in 2010.

Following the Times Square attack the TTP was designated a terrorist organization and is still considered a threat to US interests.

And while Islamabad is keen to play down the threat from the group – Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah says Pakistan can “fully” control conflict with the TTP and describes conversations with the TTP during the ceasefire as talks “which are held in a state of war” – its control of the situation pivots on the TTP remaining within Pakistan’s borders.

There are growing questions about the TTP’s reach and Islamabad’s perception of the situation does not match Mehsud’s.

In April this year, the Pakistani military struck targets in Afghanistan warning that “terrorists are using Afghan soil with impunity to carry out activities inside Pakistan.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's arrest of anti-#China militant felt from #Beijing to #Tehran. "Pakistan hopes that China will put pressure on #Iran over the issue of its support of #Baloch militancy" #CPEC #SaudiArabia #India - Nikkei Asia

Meanwhile, Imam's arrest, the details of which remain a mystery, could have geopolitical implications. Although the BNA says he was caught in Turkey, most experts and security officials interviewed by Nikkei agree he had been operating out of Iran.

Kiyya Baloch believes it is no accident that Imam's detention was announced as Beijing brokers an Iran-Saudi rapprochement. "Pakistan hopes that China will put pressure on Tehran over the issue of support of Baloch militancy through its newly formed role of a peace broker," he added.

Experts say Tehran does not consider anti-Islamabad groups enemies and sees them as potentially useful allies against other hostile groups. But Luke Przybyszewski, president of the Abhaseed Foundation Fund, a Polish group of Middle East experts, said the situation presented by the arrest of Imam has created some room for mediation by Beijing.

"It's not a black-and-white situation in which Beijing would resort to just disciplining Iran," he told Nikkei, "but rather could see this as another diplomatic opportunity to increase its regional role."

Przemyslaw Lesinski, an expert on Afghanistan and Iran at the War Studies Academy in Warsaw, said Beijing would like to see regional proxy conflicts come to an end. "We can be quite certain that China will put pressure not only on Iran but also on other [players] in the region, too," he said, suggesting Beijing would be a beneficiary of security cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad.

Riaz Haq said…
Top leaders of #Pakistan, #Iran inaugurate border #market in Pishin, #Balochistan, in their first meeting in 10 years. It's the first of 6 markets to be constructed along the Pakistan-Iran border under a 2012 agreement signed by the two sides.

Located in the remote village of Pashin in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, the marketplace is the first of six to be constructed along the Pakistan-Iran border under a 2012 agreement signed by the two sides.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi also inaugurated an electricity transmission line, which will provide some of Pakistan’s remote regions with Iranian electricity.

In a televised meeting, Sharif, sitting next to Raisi, assured him Pakistan would do its best to improve security along the Iranian border. He added that both sides agreed to enhance trade and economic ties, and extended an invitation to Raisi to visit the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

Iran-Pakistani relations have been contentious because of cross-border attacks by Pakistani militants along their shared border.

Small separatist groups have been behind a long-running insurgency calling for Baluchistan’s independence from the central government in Islamabad. Pakistani anti-Iran militants have also targeted the Iranian border in recent years, increasing the friction between the two countries.

This is the first visit of its kind since 2013, when the two nations signed an agreement allowing Pakistan to import Iranian gas despite American opposition. Tehran at the time said that “the West has no right to block the project.” The agreement could not be implemented because of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Pakistan has close ties with Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia, but has tried to maintain a relationship with the predominantly Shiite Iran. Riyad and Tehran, long-time rivals, restored ties earlier this year in a Chinese-brokered agreement.
Riaz Haq said…
China announces land link with Taliban-controlled Afghanistan | South China Morning Post

China announces land link with Taliban-controlled Afghanistan
State media heralded the departure of a cargo from Lanzhou, a key transport hub, but analysts said its main importance is the symbolism
Freight will pass through Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, two countries where China is hoping to build a rail link

The 3,125km (1,940 miles) route uses both railways and roads and passes through Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan as well.
One of the main businesses involved in the route said it hopes to normalise express links between the two countries, although analysts have said the main significance is symbolic rather than practical because air and sea links are still more important.
The route starts with a railway line between Lanzhou, a major road transport hub in the northwestern province of Gansu, to Kashgar in Xinjiang on the border with Kyrgzstan.

The route then continues by road to Kyrgyzstan, travelling to the border with Uzbekistan, where it switches back to rail until it reaches the Afghan border town of Hairatan.

The first train to leave Lanzhou was carrying US$1.5 million of freight, including car parts, furniture, machinery and equipment from Gansu province and other places, according to state news agency Xinhua.

“We hope to normalise the route for Sino-Afghanistan express service and aim to run four times a month,” Li Wei, a marketing manager from New Land-Sea Corridor Operation Co, one of the main firms involved in the shipment, told Xinhua.
But one observer said the route’s main importance is symbolic as China seeks to increase communications with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

“Currently, the economic value of this land route from China to Afghanistan is still not high. Though it has some strategic importance, this kind of transport is not yet on a [large] scale,” Zhu Yongbiao, a professor at Lanzhou University’s school of politics and international relations said.
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has resulted in a cut in a number of routes into the country and most freight and traffic goes via Pakistan, according to Zhu.

However, most of these routes suffered from limited capacity, according to Zhu. “The line with the highest volume between the two countries is still the sea route to Pakistan, other routes such as land route and air corridor all have relatively small capacity.”
China has been emphasizing that Afghanistan is an important country in its Belt and Road Initiative – a transcontinental infrastructure initiative – but Beijing has not recognised the Taliban government.

Meanwhile, Beijing is also urging the Taliban to enhance counterterrorism measures after attacks on Chinese targets.

According to the shippers, the newly opened China-Afghanistan land route is an extension of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan freight land road, which started delivering shipments from China to Uzbekistan last December.

The three countries hope to build a rail link but despite signing a memorandum of understanding back in 1997, they have never been able to make much progress.
“All three sides will contribute equal investments toward the Kyrgyz section of the railway,” Niva Yau, a fellow in the Eurasia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said in a report published in March.
“However, many practical issues are not yet resolved, particularly those of public concern in Kyrgyzstan.”

She said local concerns included “the number of Chinese workers expected to arrive and stay, vocational training for local railway engineers, investment for industrial projects along the railway, and an increasing number of permits for Kyrgyz products to enter China”.

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