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Pakistan need to know India’s War is with terror NOT Pakistan

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India and Pakistan have now entered into a direct military action after the Pulwama attack. However, Indian military actions are limited to target Pakistan-based terror camps instead targeting Pakistan army establishments or civilians, which in case, is opposite with Pakistan.

The Pulwama attack, which is responsible for killing 40 Indian paramilitary forces, is the seed of turmoil between the two countries, as Jaish-e Mohammed, a Pakistan-based terrorist organisation who claimed full responsibility of the suicide terror attack. The same organisation had been responsible for the 2001 Indian Parliament Attack along with Lashkar E- Taiba, another organisation operating from the Pakistan soil. A massive unrest after the Pulwama attack prevailed within the Indian people, who were filled with anger and anguish, waiting for the Indian Government to take action against such a cowardly attack.

On 26th February 2019, the Indian Air Force carried out an operation across the LoC at Balakot, dropping 1000kg of explosives targeting the terror camps of Jaish-e Mohammad and avenging the souls of the killed Indian troops.

Following the attack made by the Indian Air Force, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs released a statement appreciating the action and mentioned about the true intentions of the IAF. The statement included highly classified information which talked about more plans that the Jaish-e Mohammad were planning to conduct. India struck the biggest training camp in Balakot, where fidayeen jihadis were being trained for more suicide terror attacks on the Indian soil. After the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, the UN had ‘proscribed’ JeM and urged Pakistan to work immediately for the eradication of any terror-based activities on its soil.

Although no casualty numbers disclosed by Indian officials, Pakistan on its part condemned India’s action as rightly indicated by the words of Major General Asif Ghafoor, Pakistan Armed Forces. In a press release of the Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the Pakistan Armed Forces, Ghafoor mentioned “India wanted our attention and now they have it. Pakistan will surprise and it will come differently”. Pakistan Armed Forces have blamed the IAF for targeting ‘civilian loaded’ areas, but Vijay Gokhale, Indian Foreign Secretary confirmed that large training facilities of the JeM had been targeted and were successfully removed. The Indian Government sees the action carried out by Indian Air Force as pre-emptive and a necessary step in curbing terrorism, as a step to eradicate the possible threat it poses to not only to India but the entire world order.

However, interpretations on part of Pakistan somewhere went wrong, as they saw India’s action to be a threat for their own civilians and carried out an airstrike on 27th February,2019, targeting Indian military establishments. One of the aircrafts fell on the Indian side of Kashmir and the other on Pakistan, during a retaliatory move by Indian Air Force, whereby the ground troops captured the pilot.

The official twitter page of the Pakistani Government later released a video of the captured Wing Commander, Abhinandan Vartham. Major General Asif Ghafoor spoke in a press release that Pakistan doesn’t wish to involve any civilians, and that this airstrike was not a retaliation but an act of self-defence. Indian intelligence officials also mentioned of three Pakistani jets entering the Indian airspace, however they were forced back. Flights connecting Middle East and Pakistan are cancelled with a similar line of action in India, where major airports in the cities Leh, Srinagar, Chandigarh and Amritsar were shut down, which now has been resumed.

The massive uproar between the two neighbouring countries have attracted global attention. Last week the FATF had urged Pakistan to remove and wipe out all elements engaged with terrorism. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo made a press release from Hanoi urging the two countries not to escalate further military action and reminding Pakistan again for its immediate action on the agenda. Indian Foreign Minsiter Sushma Swaraj currently attending the Russia-India-China Meet in Wuzhen, China brought up the Phulwama issue and a decision for the proper implantation of the United Nation’s Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to be taken. India has been receiving foreign support post Phulwama attack, starting of with Iran who sympathised along the same line, as it was also targeted by another Pakistan based terror organisation killing Iranian paramilitary forces. After FATF’s continued decision of ‘grey listing’ Pakistan, the country had promised to wipe out all elements of terrorism on its soil, asking for an extended time till October2019. The United States, China, New Zealand and Russia have earlier requested the countries for no retaliation involving direct military action, but design a course plan involving dialogue.

The airstrike carried by the Indian Air Force was to wage a war against terrorist organizations operating in Pakistan and not the country itself. Tensions have elevated to a level, which was evident at the times of the Indio-Pakistani war of 1971. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs in their official press statement reminded Pakistan about its 2004 commitment to act against terrorism, but having failed miserably India has taken the steps necessary for it. Moreover, with the new government under the Prime Ministership of Imran Khan, the country must take up necessary course of action, as even global actors are now urging the country to take at least a few steps. The tale of Pakistan and terrorism has a long history, as issues of terror financing and religious propaganda prevail till date. Money laundering is also one of the pivotal issues that the country has to look into. Last year, Pakistan had requested for IMF bailout, as the economy is almost on the verge of a bankruptcy. If investments were to come in and trade were to prosper, so that the lives of the Pakistani people can improve, without taking a strong and effective take on terrorism the country will not only fail to flourish regionally but also globally. The Pakistani stock market has already been affected after the airstrike was conducted by both the countries. The stock market went down by 3.6 percent.

At a time when countries join hands in dealing with state issues, Pakistan somewhere must understand that India is not the enemy that has to be dealt with, but the terror organisations operating on its soil for a long time. Strengthening relations with border countries, including India will stabilize the South East Asian region opening new ventures for investment and trade. The war is against terrorism and not a particular country, therefore at a time of crisis as right now, such misconceptions be avoided and both the countries much plan out their course to take a mutual action on it.

Arijita Sinha Roy is a Research Associate at The Kootneeti- A New Delhi based Foreign Policy publication on International Relations & Diplomacy.

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South Asia

Floods; A Challenge to Comprehensive National Security of Pakistan

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Starting mid-June 2022, flooding and landslides caused by heavy monsoon rainfall have brought widespread destruction across Pakistan. © WFP/Saiyna Bashir

Pakistan is encountering one of the major catastrophic occurrence in the present day history. The colossal floods, along with the glacier melt, have prompted 33% of the nation to submerge underwater with more than a million individuals being displaced along with a loss of above 43 billion.  The rising recurrence of floods, outrageous rainfall, and heatwaves have moved environmental change from a hypothetical conversation to an intense burden on the country and its people. Looking at the human perspective, the losses are too grave to quantify. However, in political terms, they address the missing area of climate security in the state’s national security paradigm, which could present existential difficulties for Pakistan.

Pakistan’s comprehensive national security is under stress by the adverse consequences of outrageous weather events across different areas. It isn’t just about financial security versus traditional security any longer. Comprehensive National Security can never be comprehensively achieved because national power comprises of all components and assets that facilitate the state to pursue interests. Hence, all these components, resources, and areas form the crux of what we call comprehensive security. Subsequently, to address the existence of multiple threats, an extensive perspective on national security is expected with an equivalent focus on all areas, while prioritizing climate security because of its seriousness and immediacy. The grave economic losses may be quantified in the long run but societal and political impacts also cannot be ignored. Pakistan’s representative of UNICEF, Abdullah Fadil reposts that “At least 18000 schools have been damaged in the flood, which have affected an estimated 16 million children. Many children are now at heightened risk, without a home, school or even safe drinking water. There is therefore a risk of many more child deaths.” International experts, humanitarians and Social workers visiting Pakistan have termed it as one of the largest catastrophe of the modern history. South Asian expert Michael Kugelman states “that the only hope within the flood victims is the International aid but it is slow to come”. The international world needs to respond to the aid appeals as a collective responsibility rather than a favor to Pakistan because the climate change crisis is largely driven by the world’s most industrialized countries.

The 2022 floods in the country have uprooted entire communities, finished occupations and revenue generation sources, and have drastically expanded migrations inside the country and levels of urbanization. Assume relief projects are not comprehensive and the impacted population feels that they have not been accommodated Post-catastrophe which they themselves didn’t create.  Considering all this, their confidence in the legitimacy or administering authority of the state could be antagonistically affected, creating threats of mass unrest. Destroyed homes, displacement within the country, and temporary camp-like arrangements have a potential of posing critical identity challenges and meanwhile create financial instabilities among impacted communities. Such aftereffects severely hurt the societal and political segments of security, undermining comprehensive national security. Such extreme climatic disasters account for short term reliefs along with long-term impacts on the resources of state. Increased displacement within the country, increased poverty with unemployment rate on the surge creates huge risks which directly impact the comprehensive national security. Violence against women tend to rise, Children drop out of school as there exists no infrastructure, food security is challenged, health security is badly endangered and quality of human life declines in a worst possible way. Extremists, Proxies and non-state actors may capitalize on resentment felt by the displaced. In short, human security is challenged in all basic forms.  So when human security is challenged, how can a state achieve comprehensive national security which itself places human as a center point.

Another challenge which is indirectly affiliated with the climate change is directed towards military. Pakistan’s military has played a crucial and a comprehensive role in flood through its rescue efforts, humanitarian relief and rehabilitation process. Military has rendered sacrifices in these flood operations especially when a Corps Commander along with senior officers embraced martyrdom in the Lasbela district in Balochistan while overlooking relief activities. The IPCC report itself states that Pakistan’s Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) will only increase over time. Military resources being expended to HADR will obviously take away military’s attention away from hardline security issues and put it under increased management stress in times to come.

It can be asserted that the comprehensive national security is under stress by the negative impacts of horrific weather incidents across the various sectors of the society. It isn’t only about economic security versus the traditional security anymore, because today what constitutes the national power and comprehensive national security isn’t only the traditional and economic security but all societal elements form a collective part of this comprehensive framework. Thus, a comprehensive outlook of national security is required with equivalent focus on all sectors, with a priority on climate and food security due to its immediacy.

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Political Scientist: Taliban Rule will not bring Afghanistan to the Stability and Development

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The evidence suggests that the Taliban movement cannot stabilize Afghanistan and does not want to fight international terrorism that threatens the region and stability globally.

The day before, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a report on Afghanistan, citing increasing security problems. For example, the paper states that foreign terrorist groups remain in the country. “The security situation reveals a worrisome trend in recent months, particularly the series of attacks by ISIL-K, recurring armed opposition clashes with Taliban de facto security forces and the continuing presence of foreign terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” the UN Secretary General’s report says. The report also declared that the US statement on the elimination of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul “highlighted the ongoing ties between the terrorist group and the Taliban, which go against the latter’s obligations to combat terrorism.”

At the same time, the Taliban claims that there are no more terrorist groups in Afghanistan. “We will never allow anyone to pose a threat from Afghanistan to other countries,” Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Thakur said.

It should be pointed out that the leader of Al-Qaeda was destroyed in the guarded central district of Kabul, where international organizations, diplomatic missions and administrative facilities are located. It is pretty tricky to assume that the leadership of the Taliban movement was not aware of the presence of this terrorist. If the Taliban security forces did not know that Zawahiri was hiding in Kabul, they would not control the situation even in the heart of Afghanistan. If we assume the opposite, the Taliban’s policy of supporting or, at least, reluctance to fight international terrorist organizations is apparent. Recall that the Taliban promised the international community to fight international terrorism more actively in exchange for humanitarian aid and possible recognition of their regime in the future.

Moreover, it gives the impression that the main sponsor of the Taliban, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, has lost control of the movement. It is obvious that organizations similar to the Taliban cannot function successfully without foreign economic, military and political assistance. The Pakistani military, particularly the ISI, took part in creating the Taliban movement in the 1990s and patronized them all this time. It is known that there are many Islamabad henchmen in the Taliban leadership, and either radicals or Pakistanis do not hide close ties and contacts. However, neither the Pakistanis nor other players can exert pressure on the Taliban. At least, the political pressure that is being exerted now by the international community is not enough: the Taliban do not show a desire to begin the fight against terrorism.

In the theory of political science and international relations, I am unaware of cases when similar regimes have gained success and contributed to the long-term development of their countries, societies and regions. In this regard, it can be considered that the Taliban and their patrons must significantly and profoundly transform their guidelines, ideology and management strategies. Otherwise, as experience shows, in the future, similar regimes end badly, which affects the stable development and position of their countries and nations.

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World ‘must engage’ or risk Afghanistan’s collapse

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A woman walks through a corridor in a village in Zindajan district, Afghanistan. © UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani

“Patience is running out” for many in the international community when it comes to effectively engaging with Afghanistan’s de facto rulers, the Taliban, senior UN envoy for the country, Markus Potzel, told the Security Council on Tuesday.

Despite some positive developments over the past few months, the Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan said they have been “too few and too slow and they are outweighed by the negatives”.

Women’s rights

He drew attention to the ongoing ban on girls’ secondary education and growing restrictions on women’s rights, as “signals that the Taliban are indifferent to more than 50 per cent of the population” and are willing to risk international isolation.

“The relegation of women and girls to the home not only deprives them of their rights, but Afghanistan as a whole is denied the benefit of the significant contributions that women and girls have to offer,” he detailed.

Terrorism concerns ‘dismissed’

Meanwhile, from armed clashes to deadly terrorist attacks, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has monitored a steady rise in security incidents by terrorist groups and others.

“Our earlier warnings about the capabilities of Islamic State Khorosan Province (ISKP) were dismissed by the Taliban”, he told ambassadors.

“But ISKP has demonstrated in the last few months alone that it can carry out assassinations of figures close to the Taliban, attacks against foreign embassies, as well as fire rockets across Afghanistan’s border to attack its neighbours – all while maintaining its long-standing sectarian campaign against Shia Muslims and ethnic minorities,” said Mr. Potzel.

Provincial rights violations

And armed clashes are continuing between Taliban security forces and armed opposition groups in the Panjshir, Baghlan, Kapisa, Takhar, and Badakhshan provinces, the UN envoy continued.

“There are disturbing reports, as well as videos and photos, indicating possible serious human rights violations committed in Panjshir,” he said, calling for an investigation into allegations of extra-judicial killings there.

The mission will continue to carefully monitor these and other reports of serious human rights violations, he added.

UN bolstering cash economy

As per capita income has collapsed to 2007 levels – erasing 15 years of economic growth – the country’s economic situation “remains tenuous” (with little detail forthcoming from the Taliban) due in part to Afghanistan’s isolation from the international banking system.

Liquidity remains heavily dependent on the cash that the UN continues to bring in for humanitarian operations – cash, I must stress, that supports the needs of the Afghan people and does not directly reach the de facto authorities,” said Mr. Potzel.

But even the funding is uncertain as the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan has only received $1.9 billion out of a $4.4 billion requirement.

No representation

Humanitarian and economic measures will not meet the Afghan people’s longer-term needs, and the emergency aid cannot replace essential service delivery systems, such as health and water, or hold off an economic collapse, he warned.

Moreover, a continued lack of political inclusivity and transparency in decision-making leave most Afghans without any government representation.

“There are no consistent mechanisms for citizens to provide feedback to the authorities and little indication that the Taliban wish to even hear any,” the UN envoy said.

‘We have to engage’

While the Taliban’s self-identified emirate has not been recognized by any State, the international community also does not want to see the country collapse, Mr. Potzel stressed.

“If the Taliban do not respond to the needs of all elements of Afghan society and constructively engage within the very limited window of opportunity with the international community, it is unclear what would come next,” said the Deputy Special Representative.

“Further fragmentation, isolation, poverty, and internal conflict are among the likely scenarios, leading to potential mass migration and a domestic environment conducive to terrorist organizations, as well as greater misery for the Afghan population.

“That’s why we have to engage”, he declared, adding that “continued qualified engagement” was the most realistic way of helping the Afghan people.

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