Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Curbing militants in Pakistan; a trial of patience?

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged Pakistan to cooperate "fully and transparently" in investigations into the Mumbai attacks, while U.S. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has pointed a finger at Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant group.

That's probably the kind of language that would go down well in India, which has been frustrated in the past by what it saw as the United States' failure to acknowledge the threat from Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant groups, instead preferring to rely on Pakistan as a useful ally in the region while focusing its own energies on defeating al Qaeda and the Taliban.

But what exactly can either the United States or India do if they want to put pressure on Pakistan? India has long complained that Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, another Pakistan-based militant group, were nurtured by the Pakistan spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI, to stage attacks in both Indian Kashmir and elsewhere in the country. And while Pakistan denies providing more than moral support to Kashmiri groups, it has never cracked down on Lashkar-e-Taiba, based in Punjab and Pakistan-held Kashmir, in the same way that it has begun to tackle militants from al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

Lashkar-e-Taiba's charitable wing, the Jamat-ud-Dawa, earned popular support by working to rescue victims of the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, as discussed in this article by Steve Coll in the New Yorker. And much to India's irritation, the Jamat-ud-Dawa continues to operate openly in Muridke outside Lahore.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Mumbai attack and Obama’s plans for Afghanistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As if the challenge facing President-elect Barack Obama of stabilising Afghanistan was not difficult enough, it may have just got much, much harder after the Mumbai attacks soured relations between India and Pakistan -- undermining hopes of finding a regional solution to the Afghan war.

As discussed in an earlier post, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has blamed a group outside India for the attacks which killed at least 121 people. The coordinated attacks bore the hallmarks of Pakistani-based Kashmiri militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India says was set up by Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Battleground India but Delhi clueless?

An attack of the scale and sophistication unleashed on Mumbai would not be possible without months of planning, and yet it completely went below India's intelligence radar.

Indeed, so unaware were the security agencies that even when the attacks began, the first reaction was these were probably gangland shootings that India's financial capital is known for.   So if the agencies have been so clueless about an attack so mammoth in its sweep, the question experts are beginning to ask is how safe are India's vital assets?

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Can India-Pakistan ties withstand Mumbai bombings?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has blamed a group with "external linkages" for coordinated attacks which killed more than 100 people in Mumbai. The language was reminiscent of the darker days of India-Pakistan relations when India always saw a Pakistan hand in militant attacks, blaming groups it said were set up by Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, to seek revenge for Pakistan's defeat by India in the 1971 war.

An attack on India's parliament in December 2001 triggered a mass mobilisation along the two countries' borders and brought them close to a fourth war.  That attack was blamed by India on the Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed - hardline Islamist groups with links to al Qaeda.  Both have been associated with the kind of "fedayeen" attacks -- in which the attackers, while not necessarily suicide bombers, are willing to fight to the death -- seen in Mumbai.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Zardari says ready to commit to no first use of nuclear weapons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari says he would be ready to commit to a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons, in what would be a dramatic overturning of Pakistan's nuclear policy. Pakistan has traditionally seen its nuclear weapons as neutralising Indian superiority in conventional warfare, and refused to follow India's example of declaring a no first use policy after both countries conducted nuclear tests in 1998.

Zardari was speaking via satellite from Islamabad to a conference organised by the Hindustan Times when he was asked whether he was willing to make an assurance that Pakistan would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

“Plan C” – Pakistan turns to the IMF.

Pakistan has agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a $7.6 billion emergency loan to stave off a balance of payments crisis. 

Shaukat Tarin, economic adviser to the prime minister, said the IMF had endorsed Pakistan's own strategy to bring about structural adjustments. The agreement is expected to encourage other potential donors, who are gathering in Abu Dhabi on Monday for a "Friends of Pakistan" conference.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Israel and India vs Obama’s regional plans for Afghanistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will Israel and India -- the first the United States' closest ally and the second fast becoming one of the closest -- emerge as the trickiest adversaries in any attempt by the United States to seek a regional solution to Afghanistan?

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama plans to explore a more regional strategy to the war in Afghanistan — including possible talks with Iran.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Al Qaeda – From bin Laden’s cave command to regionalised “franchise company”?

Osama bin Laden is no longer involved in the day-to-day planning of attacks, Germany's spy chief says, arguing that al Qaeda has turned from a centralised force into a regionalised "franchise company" with power centres in Pakistan, North Africa and the Arab peninsula. Does this weaken or strengthen the Islamist militant group? And how does it influence its operations, planning of attacks and its efforts to recruit new followers?

Ernst Uhrlau, who heads the BND foreign intelligence agency, Germany's equivalent of the CIA, says al Qaeda's "concept" has changed significantly over the past few years. "After the centralisation phase and the break-up of its bases in Afghanistan, when it had the backing of the Taliban government, we have seen a regionalisation over the past four years -- something like a franchise company."    "Today, there is al Qadea in the Maghreb, al Qaeda on the Arab Peninsula, in Iraq, in Yemen," Uhrlau told Reuters in an interview this week.

Axis of rejection? U.S., Iran, North Korea snub nuclear test ban pact

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Pakistan's nuclear-capable Hatf 4 (Shaheen-1) missile during a test launch 

There is a saying in English that people are judged by the company they keep. If this  applied to countries, the United States would not fare well when it comes to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
 
Although Washington signed the pact, which would ban all nuclear tests if it ever comes into force, in 1996, U.S. lawmakers have never ratified it. Eight other countries with nuclear activities must ratify the treaty before it can enter into force.
 
Those other hold-out countries are China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel and Pakistan. Two of those — Iran and North Korea — are members of a trio which U.S. President George W. Bush once referred to as the “axis of evil.”
 
Iraq, which was a member of Bush’s axis of evil until the U.S. invasion in 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein’s government, signed the treaty last month, though Iraqi parliament has yet to ratify it.
 
The treaty opened for signatures 12 years ago. Since then, 179 nations have signed and 144 ratified it. Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno Ugarte told a news conference on the  sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York that “these nine countries must not hold the international community at bay.” 
 
Ugarte was one of some 40 foreign ministers who issued a joint statement calling on the United States, Iran, North Korea and the rest to ratify the treaty. 
 
Even veteran Hollywood Actor Michael Douglas, a U.N. messenger of peace, appeared at the United Nations in support of the CTBT alongside former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry and the Costa Rican, Australian and Austrian foreign ministers. 

Michael Douglas
 
When the United States signed the treaty in 1996, President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, was in charge, but the then-Republican-majority U.S. Senate rejected it in 1999. When Bush took office in 2001 his administration made clear it did not want its options limited by such a treaty and never resubmitted it.  It has has, however, continued to observe the U.S. moratorium on nuclear testing that began in 1992.
 
Perry, who was in Clinton’s cabinet when Washington signed the CTBT in 1996, made it clear that he supports Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, who Perry expects will push the U.S. legislature to ratify the treaty if he becomes president. Even Republican candidate Sen. John McCain, Perry said, might make a U-turn from the Bush administration on this issue in an attempt to reingratiate Washington with allies overseas.
 
Some analysts have said that if the United States fails to ratifies the treaty, it will most likely die. 
 
What do you think? Should the next U.S. president push for ratification of the treaty banning all nuclear tests or would it be better to keep the door open to research on new and improved atomic weapons in the interest of keeping the United States and its allies safe?

Bush: With friends like these…

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President Bush and Prime Minister Putin in Beijing/Aug 8/Larry DowningHe tried to build relationships with other world leaders but where did it get him?

In 2001 President George W. Bush famously declared that he had looked into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eyes and got a sense of his soul. He invited the Russian leader to his parents’ seaside estate
in Kennebunkport, Maine, where the former Texas oilman and ex-KGB spy went fishing and ate lobster. Bush then visited the Russian leader at his vacation villa in the Black Sea resort in Sochi, all to repair a friendship that had developed cracks.

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