Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

New report accuses Pakistan’s ISI of backing Afghan insurgents

Photo

us soldiersAccording to a new report published by the London School of Economics, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency not only funds and trains Taliban fighters in Afghanistan but is officially represented on the movement's leadership council, giving it significant influence over operations.

The ISI has long been accused of backing the Taliban - an accusation Pakistan denies, saying this would make no sense when it is already fighting a bloody campaign against Islamist militants at home. But the report is worth reading for its wealth of detail on the perceptions held by Taliban commanders interviewed in the field. You can see the Reuters story on the report here and the full document (pdf) here.

The report, based on interviews with Taliban commanders, former senior Taliban ministers and Western and Afghan security officials, says research strongly suggested support for the Taliban was the "official policy" of the ISI. "Pakistan appears to be playing a double-game of astonishing magnitude," it says.  Interviews with Taliban commanders "suggest that Pakistan continues to give extensive support to the insurgency in terms of funding, munitions and supplies."

"These accounts were corroborated by former Taliban ministers, a Western analyst and a senior U.N. official based in Kabul, who said the Taliban largely depend on funding from the ISI and groups in Gulf countries," the report, which was dismissed by Pakistani officials as spurious and unfounded, says.

from Afghan Journal:

Potential allies: Karzai, Pakistan and the Taliban?

Photo

(Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Razai Gilani)

(Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani)

If you still thought things hadn't dramatically changed on the Afghan chessboard ever since U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to begin pulling out from mid-2011, you only need to look at President Hamid Karzai's recent utterances, or more accurately the lack of it, on the Taliban and Pakistan, the other heavyweights on the stage.

For months Karzai has gone noticeably quiet on Pakistan, refusing to excoriate the neighbour for aiding the Taliban as he routinely did in the past, The Guardian quoted  a source close to the country's former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh as saying.

from Afghan Journal:

An Indian in Kabul

Photo

(Outside the Indian embassy in Kabul after a blast in October 2009.REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

(Outside the Indian embassy in Kabul after a blast in October 2009. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood)

India and Pakistan are both competing for influence in Afghanistan in a modern-day version of the Great Game that has complicated the search for a settlement, but on the streets of Kabul the Indians still seem to evoke greater goodwill.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Killings of Ahmadis unleashes fresh soul-searching over Pakistan’s identity

Photo

ahmadiIn a country which has suffered many bombings, the killing of more than 80 people in two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore last week has unleashed a particularly anguished bout of soul-searching in Pakistan, going right to the heart of its identity as an Islamic nation.

When he heard the news, wrote Kamran Shafi in Dawn, "I ran home and put on the TV and burst into tears, first of rage and a seething anger; and then of complete and utter helplessness and sadness. Shame on us."

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Between golf and war, Pakistan’s General Kayani’s future is debated

Photo

kayani profileThe Pakistan Army prides itself on being an institution which rises above politics and personal ambition, committed to defend the interests of the nation. That this has not always been the case is demonstrated by its history of military coups, and a tendency of past military rulers, from General Zia ul-Haq to former president Pervez Musharraf, to impose a very personal brand of leadership.  Where Zia pushed Pakistan towards hardline Islam, Musharraf aimed at "enlightened moderation" in a country he wanted modelled more on Turkey than on Saudi Arabia.

While no one expects the military to launch another coup, some of that historical memory is feeding into increasingly intense speculation about the future of Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who is due to retire in November.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

In Pakistan, making sense of the “do more” mantra

Photo

damadola2White House National Security Adviser Jim Jones and CIA director Leon Panetta are visiting Pakistan to step up pressure on militant groups following this month's failed car-bombing in New York's Times Square. But what specifically do they want from Pakistan in what has now become a familiar "do more" mantra from the U.S. administration?  That, as yet, is not entirely clear.

The Washington Post and the New York Times quoted unnamed administration officials as saying Jones and Panetta would press Pakistan to step up its military action against Pakistani and Afghan Taliban militants based in its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Could you pass bin Laden to the left please?

Photo

osamaWhatever Osama bin Laden once aspired to, it was not to be passed around the table like a bottle of port  in the British Raj nor worse, handed on quickly  in a child's game of Pass the Parcel. Yet that is the fate which for now appears to be chasing him.

For years, the default assumption has been that bin Laden is hiding somewhere in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan-despite failed NY attack, change will be slow in coming

Photo

karachiAfter the media frenzy following last weekend's failed car bomb attack on Times Square, you would be forgiven for thinking that something dramatic is about to change in Pakistan. The reality, however, is probably going to be much greyer.

Much attention has naturally focused on North Waziristan, a bastion for al Qaeda, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Afghan fighters including those in the Haqqani network, and the so-called "Punjabi Taliban" - militants from Punjab-based groups who have joined the battle either in Afghanistan or against the Pakistani state.  The Pakistan Army is expected to come under fresh pressure to launch an offensive in North Waziristan after Faisal Shahzad, who according to U.S. authorities admitted to the failed car-bombing in Times Square, said he had received training in Waziristan. Unlike other parts of the tribal areas on the Pakistan-Afghan border, North Waziristan has so far been left largely alone.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Times Square bombing; was the inspiration from the U.S. or Pakistan?

Photo

times squareThe failed car bomb attack on New York's Times Square this weekend is almost certain to rekindle questions about a "jihadi highway" where citizens of western countries, often radicalised at home, seek either inspiration or training from one of many militant groups based in Pakistan.

According to a U.S. law enforcement source, Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American arrested on suspicion of driving the car into Times Square this weekend, told authorities he was acting alone. But investigators are also looking into a recent trip he made to Pakistan to see if he had links to Islamist militants based there, which include al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban and a host of Punjab-based groups and splinter organisations, some originally linked to the fight against India in Kashmir.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Is Baluchistan more strategically significant than Afghanistan?

Photo

gwadarBaluchistan, Pakistan's biggest province, rarely gets much attention from the international media, and what little it does is dwarfed by that showered on Afghanistan.  So it is with a certain amount of deliberate provocation that I ask the question posed in the headline: Is Baluchistan more strategically significant than Afghanistan?

Before everyone answers with a resounding "no", do pause to consider that China - renowned for its long-term planning - has invested heavily in Baluchistan, including building a deep water port at Gwadar on the Arabian Sea to give it access to Gulf oil supplies.  The region is rich in gas and minerals; attracting strong international interest in spite of a low-level insurgency by Baluch separatists. 

  •